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The Importance Of Meta Titles And Descriptions For SEO

Metadata – that stuff that makes up the bulk of what we see when scrolling the SERPS. Is it still important? How long should a meta title be? Is there such a thing as metadata optimisation? What does this all mean for SEO and, ultimately, my business’ sales?

These are questions that we’ll be tackling in today’s blog, which will run you through what meta titles and descriptions actually are, how to view and edit them and the impact they have on users and your SEO rankings.

But if you’re short on time, here are the key takeaways:

➡️ Spoiler, meta titles and descriptions are crucial for SEO! They help search engines understand your content and can significantly improve click-through rates

➡️ Search engines won’t always use the metadata you provide, but to make sure they do, ensure they meet the suggested character lengths, and accurately reflect precisely what’s on the page

➡️ You can optimise meta data, and you should! Target the right keywords, create a sense of urgency, and remember to always make each tag unique

Firstly, what are meta titles and descriptions?

Meta data is the snippets of text that appear in search engine results pages – in simple terms, what users read and click on to be taken to your website. As a result, they’re pretty important – first impressions count and they play a crucial role in how users perceive your site (and how likely they are to visit it).

So, let’s begin with the meta title. This is like a headline, or title, for your page. Displayed in bold font, it’s the first thing users will see. It’s also important for the search engines who use it to understand your page.

Then, the meta description appears just below the meta title; it’s a brief overview of what the page is about and can significantly improve CTR by grabbing users’ interest.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the meta description is the section beginning ‘protect yourself from the sun…’, whilst the blue text above is the meta title.

These days, search engines are very sophisticated, considering a wide spectrum of factors when ranking websites, and metadata is just one of them. But whilst not as important for ranking as it once was, this doesn’t mean your titles and descriptions don’t matter. A lot of people underestimate their importance but they do in fact still have a huge role in SEO. But why is that….

Why is metadata so important for SEO?

As we discussed above, metadata increases your click-through rate by providing an engaging summary of what your page offers. It allows users to make an informed decision about whether to click on your link, and often will include action words like ‘free delivery’ or ‘shop now’  to spark interest. So, why does this matter to you? Because the more clicks, the more traffic and potential customers!

High CTR is great not only for your conversions but also because it signals to Google that your page is valuable. Whilst there is no explicit confirmation that it directly affects search rankings, a consistently high CTR for a specific keyword might suggest to Google that your page is particularly relevant for that search term. Equally, a lower CTR is a red flag for Google, indicating that the content on your page isn’t matching user intent.

But that’s not all – meta titles and descriptions can boost your organic visibility because of keywords. Including the right, relevant terms in your metadata helps signal to search engines that your page is addressing these topics. It’s essentially a blueprint for the algorithms, giving them that extra bit of help needed to understand and rank your content.

How long should a meta description and meta title be?

It’s important not to get too carried away in your meta tags – keep them short, sweet and to the point, otherwise they’ll be cut short! 

Whilst meta descriptions can technically be any length, Google tends to snip them short between 155 and 160 characters. This advice is given by Google: 

It’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive, so we recommend descriptions between 50 and 160 characters.

So, there’s your answer – but what about meta titles? Here, you’ve got less room to play with. Meta titles have a maximum length of just 60 characters and it’s generally agreed that the ideal length is between 50 and 60. 

Do search engines always use your meta descriptions?

No; I’m afraid that search engines can ultimately use whatever they see fit for your description. They prioritise providing the most relevant information to users, so, in some cases, this might mean generating their own title and description for your page.

You can avoid this happening by making sure that what you write is well-aligned both with the user’s search query, and the content on the page itself. Otherwise, Google will simply create a more fitting description for you.

How to optimise your meta titles and descriptions

In light of this, you may now be asking the valid question, “how can I make my metadata better?”  Here are our tips and tricks to write tags your copywriter would be jealous of:

💻Make your titles and descriptions super relevant. They need to be tailored carefully to the specific content on each page, so avoid using the same generic description across your entire site.

💻In fact, avoid duplicate content all together as this could get your pages penalised by search engines. It may be far less hassle to use identical meta titles across your website, but creating unique titles for each page will avoid this penalty.

💻Target the right keywords, but incorporate them naturally. Carry out in-depth keyword research to make sure you’re going for the most relevant terms, but remember the main aim of the tags is to tell readers what your page is about – not to see how many times you can fit ‘dog food’ into 60 characters.

💻Don’t just describe your content. Highlight its benefits and use these tags to clearly communicate what the users have to gain by clicking on your link. It can be good to incorporate a bit of urgency in the copy and there are a number of ways you can do this:

-> Time-sensitive language like ‘ends tonight’ or ‘limited-time offer’

->Use of action verbs, ‘start your free trial now’, ‘unlock your discount today!’

->Use of numbers – e.g. ‘only 10 spots left!’

->Using the seasons to say something like ‘last chance for summer deals’

So, the bottom line is, meta titles and meta descriptions do matter. They’re far more than just a button for users to click – optimised right, they’ll give a substantial boost to your site traffic, and help you rank for those important keywords.


If thinking of 30 different ways to say ‘shop now’ isn’t your strong point, why not leave it to the experts. Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning SEO agency, who’ll handle all the ins and outs of your SEO strategy, letting you focus on your business. If this sounds right up your alley, drop us a message at [email protected].

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A Guide To Semantic SEO

SEO has changed; long gone are the days of keyword stuffing working like magic, now search engines prioritise content that actually understands what people are looking for. Context is key, and a comprehensive, thorough understanding of topics will get you noticed by Google. In other words, SEO really is a matter of semantics these days.

But what does this all mean in practice for us SEOs and content writers? Maybe you’re aware of the notion ‘semantic SEO’ but don’t have a clue how to action it. I have good news for you, this blog will cover exactly that – practical tips and pointers to get you optimising your site with semantic SEO in mind. We’ll begin by giving you a quick dummy’s guide to semantic SEO, before explaining why it’s quite so important to increase your conversions and lastly, providing you with our practical guidance on how to do it.

Who’s this blog useful for? If you’re struggling to get your small business noticed online, writing blogs but failing to rank on page 1, or simply want to increase your company’s conversions, you won’t want to skip out on semantic SEO.

However, we know that time is of the essence, and if you don’t have a whole five minutes to listen to us rant about semantics, here are the key takeaways in advance:

🌐Post ‘Hummingbird’, ‘RankBrain’ and the Helpful Content Update, Google is prioritising understanding what users are really searching for. Your content needs to anticipate their questions and address a topic comprehensively.

🌐Create high quality, long, in-depth content that gives the user everything they’re after. This will keep them and Google happy, reducing your bounce rate and improving conversion rates.

🌐Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of tools like Salient to assess content relevance, or Answer The Public to accurately discover what users are asking.

What is Semantic SEO?

Semantic SEO, in a nutshell, is the practice of optimising content for meaning, not just keywords. As SEOs, it’s about adjusting our process a bit, considering what users are searching for, and thinking about the overall context of a page. It’s a smarter and more comprehensive approach that goes deeper to ensure that Google understands our content and that it meets user intent.

Now I’m not here to give you a full lecture on search engine history, but there are a handful of developments to be aware of that might just help clarify semantic SEO.

➡️In 2013, the ‘hummingbird algorithm’ was launched, changing the way Google worked. It was a major deal, ushering in an era of prioritising user experience and actually understanding the meaning behind search queries. No longer was Google only looking for keywords, now it was also understanding the relationships between words.

➡️Then, 2015 saw another major leap with the introduction of RankBrain, a machine learning model that could analyse vast amounts of search and user behaviour data. Like Hummingbird, it was looking to understand the intent behind what they type into the search bar.

➡️The last update relevant to semantic search is BERT, arriving in October 2019 and using a new machine to better understand the relationship between words.

➡️So, fast forward to today, Google is in its prime of understanding queries. With the rise of Siri and voice search, the algorithm now delivers pages of relevant results from just a couple of idiomatic words said into a phone. And when it’s scanning our sites, it’s specifically looking for content that addresses a topic comprehensively. In response, our content needs to match the algorithms’ human-like understanding of meaning – foreseeing and answering all the related questions people will have.

What’s in it for you (and your business)?

We get it, this might all seem like a bit of a faff, and chucking a few keywords into your blog is far less complicated. But, we promise that it pays to put the time and effort into semantic SEO. Here’s why:

✅The biggest advantage of focusing on semantic SEO is that it’s a proven way to rank in the search results! From the algorithm history you just endured, it should be clear that drumming down on this semantic approach gets you in Google’s good books.

✅Not only will you rank high, but you’ll end up ranking high for more keywords. By covering a topic in-depth, you naturally weave in related keywords, making your content show up for lots more searches, and therefore reaching a wider audience of potential buyers.

✅Semantic SEO is also the secret to the coveted ‘People Also Ask’ spots at the top of the SERPs. With a semantic strategy, you’re anticipating user questions by covering all angles of a certain topic. This hugely increases your chances of appearing in those answer snippets.

✅Once the users have found your page, you want them to stay. And yes, you guessed it, semantic SEO also works in your favour here. Content that tackles a topic comprehensively keeps users engaged, so you’ll see a lower bounce rate. Consider this, if you’re answering every question they have and providing everything they need, they won’t be bothered about clicking off to go elsewhere.

✅Plus, this also sends positive quality signals to Google. With the recent Helpful Content Updates, Google knows if your content is helpful and you can’t trick the system I’m afraid. By focusing on semantics, you show Google that our content is not only relevant to the search query but also informative, engaging and worthy of those top positions.

✅But techy waffle aside, all this matters because increased user traffic, and lower bounce rate leads to… (drumroll please) conversions and sales! And that’s what you’re all ultimately after, right?

How to actually do semantic SEO

You work in marketing so I can already tell that you love your actionable takeaways – do not worry, the next section will be painfully practical. Let’s crack on with what your SEO team should be tackling day to day to tick the semantic boxes.

  1. Work on understanding user intent

Not to be dramatic but if you don’t understand your target audience’s search intent, you might as well throw in the towel now. Google prioritises addressing user intent as closely as possible so, essentially, you need to become a mind reader. Put yourself in their shoes, picture your target audience, what do they wear, what do they eat for breakfast. Seriously though, what problems are they trying to solve and what questions might they have after reading your content. 

Let’s say you’re targeting the keyword ‘how to grow tomatoes’ for your greenhouse business. Not only will they be searching this question and similar semantically-related terms, but also:

~Ideal planting conditions for tomatoes. 

~Tips on watering and fertilizing tomato plants.

~Common tomato plant pests and diseases, and how to control them.

~Information on harvesting and storing homegrown tomatoes.

~Recipes that use fresh tomatoes.

You need to provide content tackling all of these areas of the topic, or the user will simply click off and find the answers elsewhere!

  1. Create high-quality, in-depth content

Semantic SEO means creating in-depth, detailed and complex content. I hate to break it to you, but a 500 word, blog post is just not going to cut it. You’re likely going to need a couple thousand words to cover the topic comprehensively. I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds – begin with a substantial brief to ensure you’re addressing every angle, and to get a digestible structure planned. It might even be worth hitting up ChatGPT for some help here (gasp), just to help you spot anything you’ve missed. But please leave the actual writing to the humans in your team, quality trumps quantity and a long but AI-generated blog post is not going to do you any favours. 

  1. What you should and should’t be including in this content

Focus on creating comprehensive content that incorporates related terms naturally but don’t sweat worrying about every long-tail variation. With Semantic Search, the algorithms recognise connections between similar long-tail keywords (like ‘how to tell when tomatoes are ripe’ and ‘are my tomatoes ready to be picked’). Google gets that these terms fall under the same topic.

Prioritise in-depth content that meets users’ needs and don’t forget to answer those People Also Ask questions. According to a study of 2.5 million search queries, this feature now shows up for almost half of all search queries, and this is often above position 1!

  1. Schema

Schema, also known as structured data markup, acts like a translator, providing Google with a better understanding of your content. With schema, you’re essentially labelling the different elements to make it easier for search engines to understand the context. This could include things like ‘brand name’, ‘location’, ‘price’. 

It paints a clear picture for search engines; semantic SEO focuses on the meaning behind the words on your page, but search engines still rely on code to interpret information. Schema bridges this gap by providing a structured way to communicate the meaning of your content.

Tools to help you out with Semantic SEO

There are a number of tools out there that come in handy with semantic SEO. Here are our tried and tested top 3:

This tool measures the relevance of your content for certain target keywords, using a technology that replicates search engine algorithms, to show you what they’re likely to be picking up. It analyses the use of synonyms, related terms, and concepts within your content to assess if it comprehensively addresses the topic. Plus, the text comparison tool lets you see how edits impact your content’s relevance score. So, instead of relying on what you ‘think’ might work, this tool is your best bet to get a realistic idea of how relevant your content is.

Answer The Public compiles data from search engines to show you the most searched questions around your topic or keyword, usefully grouped into categories like ‘prepositions’ and ‘comparisons’. This is great for semantic SEO because it lays the user’s intent out plain to see, allowing you to tailor your content to directly answer their questions and provide the most informative page for them. It will also help with showing you long-tail, less competitive keywords and by incorporating these, you can reach users who might be using different phrasing but have the same intent.

Similar to Answer The Public, Also Asked pulls together data directly from Google searches to show you themost asked questions around a topic – all presented in an easily digestible mind-map format. Understanding your audience’s issues and questions is essential not only for semantic SEO, but for any successful marketing strategy – you won’t regret giving this tool a go.

So there we have it, your ultimate guide to semantic SEO that should leave you prepped and ready to create comprehensive, contextual, and converting content. Google won’t know what’s hit it.

Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning SEO agency with a proven track record of boosting online traffic and conversions for both small companies and large corporations. Want to leave it to the pros? We don’t blame you – drop us a line at [email protected]

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A Guide For E-commerce Digital PR

There’s no question that e-commerce is thriving; e-commerce sales are forecasted to make up a huge 23% of global retail sales by 2027. We’re seeing social media platforms increasingly integrating shopping features and live shopping experiences gaining traction on platforms like TikTok. We’re certainly in a new era of e-commerce but how can traditional e-commerce sites still ensure they’re getting seen? The answer is link-building. It’s an absolute necessity for e-commerce businesses aiming for growth and brand recognition. 

This guide is going to explain exactly what you’re missing out on if digital PR isn’t yet part of your e-commerce strategy and give you the techniques our experts can’t live without.

Why your e-commerce site needs digital PR

In this saturated market, customers now, more than ever, need to really trust a brand to want to purchase from them. In fact, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, Gen Z exhibits the highest need for brand trust, with 79% saying it is more important to trust the brands they buy today than in the past. Digital PR is the key to building that trust and establishing your brand as an authority.

But alongside this, digital PR helps strengthen your brand image, attract relevant traffic and boost your organic search ranking for competitive keywords. When high-quality external sites link to your e-commerce store, search engines perceive your website as more authoritative and trustworthy. This translates to improved rankings for relevant keywords in search engine results pages – bingo.

A well-crafted digital PR strategy will secure backlinks not just to your homepage, but also to product and category pages. This “deeper link building” helps you rank higher for specific products and high-intent pages in the SERPs.

If your e-commerce site has physical stores, digital PR will also work in your favour. Press releases can be outreached to specifically target local publications, building brand awareness in your local community.

Plus, the benefits of digital PR extend to your paid campaigns too, enhancing their performance and maximising your return on investment. This is because digital PR can generate positive brand mentions and reviews online and, by incorporating reviews into your landing pages, you add social proof and enhance the credibility of your paid ads.

Whilst things like brand awareness and credibility are important, what we’re all ultimately after in e-commerce is a boost in sales. Digital PR goes beyond vanity metrics – each link, brand mention, and boost in authority helps an e-commerce site outrank their competitors, and get customers on their side. In other words, you significantly increase your conversions!

How to do digital PR for e-commerce: our tips

🧷Product placements

On the topic of trust, product placements are your golden ticket. If a trusted reviewer (say GQ or Vogue) features your new sandal range in their ‘22024 summer holiday must-haves’ list, that’s a powerful way to earn trust and stand out – in a natural way. These high-authority platforms have thousands of readers, and therefore, just as many potential customers for your products. 

Focus on reaching out to publications and review websites that resonate with your brand values. And remember that product placement isn’t just a transaction – you want to build a relationship. Offer journalists early access to new products, and provide valuable industry insights alongside your product details.

We leveraged this technique successfully with our garden furniture client, Hayes Garden World. We used a mixture of media monitoring, and proactive outreach to get our products featured. With this approach, we landed over 65 linked product placements in a year, with £47,000 in referral sales generated! Told you product placements work. Make sure to have a Dropbox file of high-resolution images ready to go, so you can jump on trends and turn a product placement around quickly. 

🧷Internal data

Due to the online interactions on an e-commerce site, they have a far bigger pool of internal data compared to traditional stores. This is because e-commerce sites can track every click, search and product interaction, which provides heaps of insight into browsing habits and product preferences. Additionally, e-commerce platforms often collect customer information like their demographics and purchase history.

Why does this matter? Sales data and customer behaviour patterns can be the foundation for compelling digital PR stories that will stand out in journalists’ inboxes and secure you those valuable links. This is completely unique data and analysis that only you have access to and will attract outlets looking for fresh, data-driven content. It’s also worth analysing customer data anyway to help you tailor your digital PR messaging. Internal data can help you understand your audience’s wants, needs and pain points,  which will inform more effective campaigns.

🧷Content marketing

Great content is a magnet for backlinks and serves as a relatively low-maintenance technique to help attract customers and journalists to your site. We call this approach ‘reverse digital PR’ and here’s how it works:

  1. Start by analysing your website to identify areas where you could establish yourself as a data hub. This could be through informative blog posts, buying guides, in-depth industry reports, or even infographics. Consider what information your target audience is after and what content gaps exist within your niche.
  1. Whilst not essential, incorporating data into your content will boost its authority and newsworthiness. You can leverage internal sales data, customer behavior patterns, or commission external surveys, all to produce content that’s unique and engaging.
  1. Present this information in a clear and visually appealing way, then optimise your content with keywords to ensure it ranks well in the SERPs. If it isn’t ranking, how are journalists and customers going to find it!
  1. Now, you can sit back and watch as you attract backlinks naturally, without the need for constant outreach. Journalists and other websites looking for insightful information to add credibility to their articles, will come across your data and (hopefully) link back, boosting your site’s authority and visibility.

🧷Guest-posting

Guest posting allows you to share your expertise and build valuable backlinks to your e-commerce site. The way this works is you contribute an informative article to relevant industry publications with larger audiences. You’ll then ideally receive a do-follow backlink within the guest post, which acts as a vote of confidence, boosting your site’s authority and ranking. Equally, guest posting exposes your brand and products to a wider audience, and this increased visibility leads to more traffic and potential sales.

🧷Keep your eye out for unlinked mentions

Even mentions of your brand that don’t link to you are valuable – identifying them using a tool like Google Alerts allows you to then reach out to the site owner or article author. Offer additional information or propose a content collaboration, and this could potentially lead to a backlink. Even if you don’t secure a link, this mention is still increasing your brand awareness by getting your name in front of a new audience, so don’t discount it!

Whether you sell dog bowls, windshields, or Bakewell tarts, you’re setting yourself up for success by following the steps in this guide. In 2024, prioritising digital PR within your e-commerce digital marketing strategy is a need and a must. Without it, you’re missing out on valuable links, traffic, and most importantly, paying customers!

Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning digital PR agency specialising in landing reputable links and coverage for e-commerce businesses. If you’re looking for a hand with your digital PR, go ahead and drop us a message – we’d love to hear from you.

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What Is Reverse Digital PR And Why Should You Use It?

At Cedarwood, we use a tried and tested technique to build links and drive site traffic without the need for any outreach at all. Yep, you heard that right – we like to call it Reverse Digital PR and it’s our secret to low-maintenance link-building. Stay tuned for a run-down of what exactly reverse PR is, why it’s so valuable and a couple of case studies where we’ve used it successfully.

So, what is Reverse Digital PR?

As PRs we spend most of our time crafting content we think journalists will love, outreaching it and hoping for the best. But, with reverse digital PR we’re inviting the journalists to come to us. With this strategy, you create a data piece for your website, with the intention that journalists find it when looking for a resource, and link back to it. This works because journalists often search for data and statistics online to back up their articles and add credibility. It flips the traditional PR approach on its head; instead of chasing journalists, you create valuable data hubs that attract them to your content. The benefits are countless, it saves you time and energy, whilst being a great way to organically attract links, drive links, and boost E-E-A-T signals. 

How does it work?

Well it sounds good in principle, but how does reverse digital PR actually work in practice? 

🔗First, identify areas of your brand where you’re hoping to gain additional visibility and where you could feasibly create a high-quality data hub of facts or stats. For example, if your company is a travel agency and you’re hoping to increase search engine visibility for accommodation pages, a data hub comparing the average accommodation costs across popular destinations could be an effective reverse digital PR strategy.

🔗The next step is to then make the hub! You can gather the data in a few ways. To make your piece unique and fresh, so that journalists couldn’t find this information elsewhere, it can be a good idea to gather your own internal data. This can be done by:

>>Commissioning surveys, although an additional cost will come with this

>>Analysing your own sales data to identify customer trends or popular products

>>Using tools like Google Analytics to determine user demographics or conversion rates in your customer base 

>>Analysing the social media data to understand how audiences are interacting with your brand 

You can also gather external data from various public data sources online. Take a look at Statista, ONS, Centre for Cities and NHS digital for free data.

🔗Once you’ve sourced the data, now’s time to present it in the best way possible. You want the piece to be easily digestible, laid out in a clever format, and also optimised for search engines –  a lot to ask I know. But this is all crucial to ensure you rank well so that the journalists can actually find the page!

Why is Reverse Digital PR so valuable?

You should have gathered by now that reverse digital pr is a pretty good idea. But what are the specific advantages it offers in comparison to traditional methods like newsjacking?

📈 Instead of constantly chasing down journalists, reverse digital PR lets your content do the heavy lifting. By providing valuable data journalists actively seek out, you attract coverage organically.

📈A well-crafted data piece on your website can generate ongoing value. Unlike a one-time press release, this content continues to attract journalists and relevant traffic over time.

📈A good piece of reverse digital PR will also work wonders for the good old E-E-A-T signals. Presenting original research or analysis solidifies your expertise, and is made more credible by the data or statistics. To make extra sure that the page contributes to E-E-A-T, ensure your data comes from credible sources, and is presented clearly. Also, it’s a good idea to update the information regularly to keep it relevant and accurate.

A couple of examples 

1)Using Reverse Digital PR to naturally attract links to Patient Claim Line’s website 

Patient Claim Line is a leader in the medical negligence field, which is increasingly competitive and sitting within the Your Money, Your Life category. Within these verticals, it’s especially important to display E-E-A-T signals so we decided to create a valuable data hub on their website. We focused on cosmetic surgery statistics as this was an area of the site we were looking to boost visibility for. Previously, we’d relied on creating journalist-friendly content and outreaching it as a traditional campaign, but here, the plan was to simply create a hub and wait for the journalists to find us.

The page was designed to inform the user of information and up to date statistics around cosmetic surgery in 2022. We included fresh data from our own survey to ensure the information was as useful and unique as possible. Then, we presented it in a user-friendly format and optimised it to rank well.

As a result, the page ranked in position #3 for “cosmetic surgery data”, and has attracted thousands of visitors since its inception. We keep it updated regularly and receive a number of great links, from publications we wouldn’t usually reach.

2)Using the same strategy to drive links to our own website

Back in Valentines 2020, we created a hub of seasonal trend data. We included data around valentines day keywords, compared different types of searches e.g. ‘gift for boyfriend’ vs. ‘gift for girlfriend’ and fun facts like the increase in searches for ‘bridget jones’ on valentines’ day.

The aim was to create a hub of information that users and journalists might be searching for, but for it to also be an article of genuine interest around the when and how of user search intent. The idea was that journalists might be keen to pick it up as a topical interest article – and even now, four years later, we still attract seasonal traffic to the page at the same time of year.

All that’s needed is to refresh the content each year and the page continues to bring in traffic and links, with very little maintenance required. This same concept can then be applied to other seasonal trends, for example we produced a similar hub in March looking at the most popular easter eggs.

Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Manchester. If you like the sound of a reverse digital PR strategy, why not get in touch with us to find out how we can help get you media coverage for your business. Fill in our quick form here.

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How To Create An Effective Media List For Your Digital PR Campaign 

I’m sure we can all agree that a solid media list is by far the most important part of any digital PR campaign. It’s the difference between the success or failure of your outreach, and will often take up the bulk of a PR’s time. If you’re new to digital PR, you may be wondering if you need a media list and how to build one that’ll work. This guide will answer all your questions and help you to create a valuable press list that gets the results you’re after – with tips that’ll be useful to PR pros too. 

What’s a media list?

Let’s begin by taking it back to the basics – what even is a media list? It does what it says on the tin – an organised list of your media contacts, and additional info like their contact details and news outlet. This may include journalists, bloggers, influencers etc. and is normally collated into a big spreadsheet for easy reference.

Essentially, it’s a collection of relevant people that might be interested in covering your story. Media lists are usually created for each individual campaign you’re outreaching, and targeted for that specific industry / and or location. It’s key for efficient digital PR as it allows you to approach the right journalists, and get a wider media pickup.

Why is it so important?

You might have gathered by now that a good media list is the real foundation of your strategy. But why exactly is that, and how is a media list better than alternative techniques? 

🔗A media list goes beyond just identifying journalists, it helps you research their interests, define your target audience, and cultivate lasting relationships with relevant contacts – all in one place.

🔗Previously, sending out blanket press releases to a huge list of contact was a popular method, but that technique could damage your reputation and alienate journalists who aren’t interested in your story. Building genuine relationships with the right media contacts through a well-crafted media list will see you get far better results.

🔗Buying pre-built media lists is tempting, but short-sighted. These generic lists will often contain outdated information or irrelevant contacts. Creating your own list from scratch will mean you find journalists who cover your exact niche, increasing your chances of coverage.

A step-by-step guide to creating a media list 

1.

Begin by setting up a spreadsheet and adding your chosen focus areas. As a basic starting point, start with the journalist’s name, ‘email’, ‘publication’ and ‘primary niche as columns. Other useful columns could include: links to social media accounts, topics covered, writing style etc and you can build this to be more detailed the more you do

2.

You’ll want to find journalists who’ve covered similar topics to your story; start by searching the title of campaigns similar to what you’re working on in Google News and filter by ‘past year’. Then, take relevant journalists’ names and copy them into the sheet. Avoid publications that do their own research, like ‘YouGov’, and play around with the terminology of the search to find all relevant results.

The key is to be super honed in on relevancy here. If you are writing a story about backpacking for students, there’s no point targeting all journalists who write about backpacking – writers on backpacking for retired couples wouldn’t be interested for example.

💡An additional tip is to look for sites that like to reference Digital PR links and data.

3.

Next, find a similar story from your competitor and input them into a backlink checker. See which publications and journalists are linking to this story, and add these names to your list.

Wondering where to find competitor campaigns? Email newsletters are a good starting point to find successful, recent competitor campaigns. The PR Insider and The Grapevine are conveniently organised by category, making it nice and easy for you to locate stories in the same vein as the release you’re working on. It’s also worth looking at Twitter and LinkedIn because one thing PRs love is a humble brag about a campaign that’s done well.

4.

Once you’ve got a decent amount of names, go back and fill in the ‘name’ and ‘email’ column for each link. Journalists will sometimes have their email on their online author profile, or you can use a tool like Vuelio, or Prowly to find their details.

5.

Finally, download and export the file into an outreach tool like Buzzstream or CisionOne, and that’s good to go.

It’s important to remember that a media list is never really completed! The most effective lists are actively maintained and updated with new contacts, and updated contact information.

Guarantee media coverage for your business with Cedarwood Digital

We’re Cedarwood Digital, a digital PR agency based in Manchester, with a proven track record of delivering earned links for brands – even those in the trickiest verticals!  We’re proud to say that we don’t buy a single link and you can see the coverage we’ve landed in our case studies here.
If you’re looking for a hand with your digital PR strategy, go ahead and get in touch with us today, we’d love to hear from you.

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A Round Up Of Recent Google Algorithm Updates

For us SEO professionals, it’s well known that Google notoriously loves a good algorithm update, throwing rankings up into the air and sending everyone on LinkedIn into a frenzy. Whilst in the early days, Google only made occasional updates, they now make thousands of changes each year – and recently it’s felt as if new algorithms are rolling out practically every other day. This, understandably, can be stressful for those responsible for maintaining client rankings or their own website’s performance. With so many updates, it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of changes and unsure how to maintain strong SEO.

This blog post will break down the key updates implemented in recent months, explaining their impact on your SEO strategy and offering actionable tips to keep your rankings climbing amidst the algorithm shifts.

What is a Google Algorithm Update?

Google’s search engine relies on complex algorithms to sift through its massive index and deliver the most relevant results for every user query. These algorithms consider a multitude of ranking factors to determine which web pages deserve the top spots on SERPs. While Google constantly tweaks these algorithms, most changes are so subtle they go unnoticed.  However, Google occasionally rolls out major updates that significantly impact the SERPs.

These major updates, referred to as core updates, are designed to improve the overall quality and user experience of search results. So, they may be irritating but they come from a good place! However, because they often involve significant changes to how Google evaluates websites, this can cause fluctuations in rankings across the board. Even the biggest and most established websites are affected by core updates, experiencing shifts in their ranking positions and visitor traffic.  

Why you should care:

So, we’ve established that Google algorithm updates can significantly impact your website’s traffic and ranking – bringing new visitors or temporary dips. Understanding each update and how it impacts your SEO strategy allows you to adapt and adjust your strategy to regain lost ground. It’s crucial to keep up with the updates so you can align your content accordingly if necessary. This proactive approach will ensure you keep your website visible to its target audience.

2024 updates

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the updates we’ve seen in the past 6 months. We’ll work through them in reverse chronological order and provide some pointers for dealing with each one.

⚙️The March 2024 Core Update

You must be living under a rock if you’ve missed this huge update; as the longest-ever core update, it only finished rolling out on April 19th and was said to reduce unhelpful content by 45%! It marked a big shift in Google’s ongoing fight against low-quality content and signalled strong recognition of the wave of AI-generated content that’s hit the web in the past year. The update further refined Google’s ability to identify and penalise content deemed unhelpful, particularly targeting unoriginal AI content.

What did Google have to say? A spokesperson said this update has refined how it understands which webpages are “unhelpful, have a poor user experience or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people.” This “could include sites created primarily to match very specific search queries”. As a result, websites with content that lacked value, originality, or depth may have seen ranking declines.

What does this mean for you?

This just means more of what we already know – we need to be writing helpful content for people, and not just to rank in search engines. There are no big new changes you should implement, or secret hacks to rank well in this update – just more of what you’re (hopefully) already doing.

The algorithm update also means that you should see better quality results when you’re using search engines. The web has recently seen a surge of AI content that lacks accuracy and authenticity. This update should cut down on that and improve the overall quality of what we see on the SERPs.

Been hit by this update? Approach recovery by, first and foremost, working on the quality of your content. If you’re experiencing a traffic loss for queries you used to rank for, there’s probably an issue with your content (if you’ve already confirmed there’s no technical problem). Look at the competitor pages now ranking for this content and work out why Google’s seeing it as preferable. Is it more relevant? Longer-form? Demonstrating expertise through author profiles? Video or image content rather than written?

Whilst Google hasn’t given us a lot of new advice in the aftermath of this new update, it might also be useful to look at their previous list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. Work your way through and identify the areas where your content could be improved.

⚙️The March 2024 Spam Update

At the same time as we faced the March Core Update, Google also rolled out a hefty Spam Update, taking 15 days to complete. It took action against new types of spam, particularly scaled content abuse and expired domain abuse, which we’ve been seeing an increasing prevalence of.

Scaled content abuse is a tactic where spammers create vast amounts of AI content aimed at manipulating search rankings and tricking Google into thinking they have the answers to popular searches. Whilst Google has always fought against this practice, the advancements in AI have called for a revamp of their strategy.

Then, expired domain abuse is where someone exploits the reputation of an expired domain. They purchase the domain and repurpose it to boost the rankings of their low-quality content. It misleads Google and users into believing that the new content is associated with the older, more reputable website. 

It goes without saying that if you’ve seen a change to your traffic or rankings after this update, ensure you’re not violating any of Google’s spam policies, even accidentally.

Other recent updates

⚙️November 2023 Core Update: This was the final core update of 2023, beginning on November 2nd and completing on November 28th. Like most core updates, it resulted in many sites seeing ranking volatility – particularly in ‘Your Money, Your Life’ verticals.

⚙️October 2023 Core Update: With this core update, Google began handling backlinks differently. The reputation and relevance of the linking site was more important than ever before and a single link from a high-authority site now carried much more value than lots of lower-quality links.

⚙️October 2023 Spam Update: October also saw the release of a spam update, designed to clean up several types of spam that Google community members reported in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi and Chinese.

Are any more updates heading our way?

In the past week, we’ve seen the beginning of a site reputation abuse update rolling out. This will target something often referred to as “parasite SEO”; sites found to be practicing site reputation abuse will face drops in rankings and even deindexes of pages. 

But what exactly is site reputation abuse? This is when websites with significant authority exploit their trust to push low-quality, irrelevant content. According to Google, the update will be going after “third-party content produced primarily for ranking purposes and without close oversight of a website owner to be spam.” They used the example of a third party publishing payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefits from the site:

“Such content ranking highly on Search can confuse or mislead visitors who may have vastly different expectations for the content on a given website.”

Has your site been hit? We can help

Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning SEO agency based in Manchester and we have extensive experience helping our clients to prepare for and recover from algorithm updates. Our team of experts has an advanced understanding of what Google wants to see, and possesses the strategies to help you rank in the top positions, and stay in them.

Get in touch with us today to learn how we can optimise your SEO for long-term success.

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Link Building Tactics That Will Drive Organic Traffic

Link building has long been a popular part of SEO campaigns and is the process of building links from other highly authoritative websites to your own to highlight to Google the value and authority that your website represents, and to build your own authority. 

Why does it matter?

Links can significantly improve your website’s performance as they contribute to your key E-E-A-T signals, which can play a crucial role in search engine rankings across many sectors. In some instances, they are seen as a vote of trust and are a way of building your reputation and showcasing your expertise. This can potentially lead to higher rankings for your target keywords which means more traffic and more conversions – the good stuff. 

The benefits stretch beyond SEO. Link-building will also directly increase your site traffic by sending visitors your way, and improve brand awareness by exposing your site to a wider audience. Essentially, it’s gold dust if you want to give your site a boost in visibility. But, link-building hasn’t always looked like this. It’s undergone a drastic transformation in the past 5-10 years, driven largely by Google’s efforts to combat dodgy tactics. 

A quick link-building history

In the early 2010s, when ideas of SEO were just beginning to be thrown around, marketers focused on securing as many backlinks as possible, regardless of their quality. Building a large backlink profile was pretty easy – anyone could boost their ranking by buying links or using techniques like blog commenting.

Google’s Penguin Update in 2012 put a stop to all this, penalising websites with a suspicious link profile. This forced SEOs to shift their focus to acquiring high-quality backlinks through creating valuable content. 

Now, in 2024, it’s more important than ever to have a solid strategy for link building to support SEO – and – it’s important that these links have direct relevance to your clients. This is because:

🔗Google’s algorithms are getting scarily good at identifying high-quality content. As you’ll know, it feels like they’re undergoing updates every other day, and their recent ‘helpful content updates’ place a huge priority on relevant and trustworthy sources, over merely the number of backlinks.

🔗It’s getting harder and harder to stand out. If you know about link-building, that means all your competitors probably do too. Your strategy now needs to be bigger and better if you want to win those backlinks over your competitors.

🔗Online brand awareness is playing an increasingly vital role. A strong brand presence helps you cut through the noise and establish yourself in a crowded marketplace. Plus, social media platforms are now a key place for consumers to discover new brands. For the first time, online content has the power to not just grab readers’ attention, but also nudge them directly towards a purchase.  Consumers are way more receptive to positive online influences that guide their buying decisions.

The different types of Link Building

Deeper linking

Building links to your website is a crucial SEO strategy, but simply acquiring links isn’t enough. To maximise the impact, you need a strategy focused on where those links land. Many people prioritise building links to the homepage, but this often misses out on valuable opportunities.

In most cases, the pages with the best user intent match and the ones you truly want users to visit, reside deeper within your website. These are typically product or service pages – the areas that directly impact conversions and revenue. Link equity passed from the homepage to these sub-pages can be valuable, but it’s far less effective than linking to them directly.

This is where deeper page linking comes in as a popular solution. By building links directly to these relevant sub-pages, you signal to search engines that these pages are valuable, boosting their rankings in search results. Improved ranking can in turn lead to increased organic traffic, conversions, and ultimately, revenue.

E-E-A-T link building

Google has over 200 ranking factors but the increasingly most important factor is E-E-A-T or ‘expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness’. For Google to see your site as valuable and send organic traffic your way, you need to be sending out these signals. This is especially important for websites falling into the ‘Your Money, Your Life’ category, which deals with topics that can significantly impact users’ lives. For YMYL sites, building strong E-E-A-T signals is extra important to establish credibility in the eyes of Google.

The good news is that E-E-A-T link building is not rocket science! If you’re already utilising Digital PR tactics to acquire links, you’re likely on the right track. By nature, effective Digital PR generates genuine, high-quality links that showcase your website’s expertise. However, there are specific link-building tactics for building E-E-A-T friendly links and maximising their impact on your site’s organic traffic….

  1. Newsjacking to put your client at the centre of the conversation

Newsjacking offers a great approach to building external E-E-A-T signals and driving organic traffic. This technique involves capitalising on trending news stories and offering fresh insights from your in-house expert. This valuable content can then be pitched to journalists for inclusion in their articles, or used to create a standalone piece showcasing your client’s expertise. 

By providing authoritative commentary on a trending topic, you position your brand as a thought leader in the field, attracting high-quality backlinks that boost your website’s SEO and signal trustworthiness to Google.

For example, we recently newsjacked the Easter tablescaping trend, outreaching expert tips on decking out your table from our spokesperson at Alliance Online. This content was then distributed to relevant journalists, resulting in backlinks from authoritative outlets. Each of these links sent a positive signal to Google, indicating that our client’s website deserves a higher ranking in search results.

  1. Thought-leadership to showcase expertise 

Similarly, thought-leadership content is a powerful tool to build trust and add organic value to your site. It’s pretty straightforward; leverage in-house experts from your client’s business to share their expertise through interviews. Having readily available bios that highlight their credentials and experience is also crucial to demonstrate their authority to journalists and Google alike.

Beyond reactive approaches like newsjacking, a proactive strategy is essential. Stay informed about upcoming events and special days for opportunities to strategically position your client’s experts in front of the media. This can lead to features in high-profile publications, generating valuable backlinks that significantly help out your website’s E-E-A-T signals and organic reach.

Another thought-leadership tactic is guest blogging on relevant sites within your client’s industry – this involves creating informative and valuable content for other established blogs or publications. The blog post would ideally include a bio of the author and a link back to their website. This not only establishes credibility, boosting your SEO, but also drives valuable referral traffic.

  1. Analysing data for expert content

By gathering your own data, or analysing publicly available datasets, you can create valuable content that demonstrates your client’s expertise and understanding of the field. This data-driven approach not only positions your client as an expert but also generates valuable resources that journalists are likely to reference. Combine your data analysis with clear visualisations to make your piece super linkable for journalists who want to provide their readers with reliable and engaging information.

Beyond individual data pieces, consider employing a Reverse Digital PR strategy. This involves creating content hubs on your client’s website –  comprehensive resources fit to burst with data and analysis. These content hubs are the gift that keeps on giving, becoming valuable destinations for journalists seeking information. They have the potential to attract numerous backlinks over time that significantly boost both E-E-A-T signals and on-site SEO. Plus, a well-designed data-hub will not only drive traffic by attracting backlinks, but also through boosting your on-site SEO.

Let’s wrap up with some key takeaways:

➡️Link-building matters more than ever in 2024, if it’s not prioritised in your SEO strategy, it should be! It’s a golden ticket to build a strong online reputation and help Google understand why it should rank your website.

➡️Within your strategy, focus on building links to deeper, user-focused pages like product or service pages.

➡️And to get those links? Implement E-E-A-T link-building practices:

->Newsjacking: offering expert insights on trending topics

->Thought-leadership: share expertise through interviews, guest blogs and data-driven content

->Data-hubs: build resources rich with data to attract valuable backlinks

Need a hand getting started? Cedarwood Digital are an award-winning Link Building Agency with the media contacts and techniques to land you top tier, 100% earned links. Drop us a line today.

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Essential Tips I’ve Learnt In My First 6 Months As An SEO Copywriter

Six months ago, I entered the marketing world as a slightly terrified graduate who thought engagement was something that happens before a wedding and long-tail was a type of monkey. These days, I like to think I’m a bit of a copywriting whizz (on a good day). If, like me, you’ve entered your first SEO copywriting role with little marketing experience, I’m here to help. I spend an inordinate proportion of my life putting words onto paper and have picked up some tips along the way. 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the SEO copywriting lessons I’ve learnt in my first six months that’ll make your content impress your manager and Google.

  1. SEO copywriting is unlike anything else you’ll have ever written

Something I gathered days, if not hours, into my new role is that SEO copywriting is unlike anything you’ll have ever written. It’s drastically different from academic writing and pretty dissimilar to press releases and journalistic style content. It requires a far more analytical approach and is definitely a skill that has to be developed. But I think, 6 months in, I’m getting there… just.

It will all feel like a foreign language at first, and you’ll spend many hours removing jargon and complex sentence structures. But practice makes perfect, and it’s crazy how quickly SEO copywriting becomes second nature.

  1. It’s all about the prep

There’s a lot more to copywriting than just getting the words down. A vast proportion of my time is spent doing the necessary research required for SEO content – scouring search volumes, analysing the SERPs, determining user intent, and deciding on headings and subheadings. 

Take your time for keyword research and SERP analysis before you even think about writing. You need to get inside the target users’ heads – what are they searching for and what are they clicking on? What do I need to address to make sure I’m producing genuinely useful content that answers their queries? It can be easy in the content world to lose track of what really matters – the customers and what they need. Remember that blogs aren’t just for brand awareness, and product descriptions are more than just a keyword dump. 

  1. Copywriting is hard and some days it just won’t happen

SEO copywriting is tricky! Alongside the analytical skills required in the research process, the actual writing requires a lot of creativity – and it’s impossible for us to be creative 24/7. Every day will be different. Some days I can knock up a thousand words in an hour, and on others it will take me all day to get a mere couple of hundred out.

On those days, don’t push it – move over to research tasks and leave the more creatively demanding work for another day. It’s a good idea to take this into account when structuring your time. Give yourself plenty of time for a big piece of writing, to allow for those writer’s block days where it’s just not flowing.

  1. Write for humans

When you do get down to the actual writing, write for humans. I know everyone says it but it’s so important if you want to produce content that’s engaging and SEO-effective.

Ask yourself, would you enjoy reading this piece of content? Would you find it useful? Would your best friend? It’s easy to get lost in all the technical details of keyword research and search volumes but at the end of the day, what is your average Joe going to want to read? Write for humans and Google will reward you as a side effect.

Something I learnt that really stuck with me is that the average reading age in the UK is 9! And remember that your audience will have different levels of reading ability – ensuring that your content is accessible is crucial. Not everyone is a copywriter like you; in fact, the vast majority won’t have read a book in the last year. As much as it’s fun to add in niche vocab and fun sentence structures, your content needs to be digestible and readable. Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs and save the rambles for your Instagram captions.

  1. Make use of AI! (It’s not out to steal your job)

I’ll admit, I used to be a real ChatGPT hater – rolling my eyes when people raved about what it could do. “There’s no way writing can be automated, and why should it be?” But I confess, it’s been growing on me. AI can be super useful as a little personal assistant. It’s great for giving you alternative words or phrases if you can’t remember exactly what you’re after – and super useful if you need a more concise header.

However, be careful not to rely on it too much! The capabilities of these tools may well be very impressive but do not rely solely on AI to write your copy – as tempting as it might be. Everyone can see through it, and it will kill off your creativity; you got this job for a reason, keep exercising and developing that skill.

My favourite tools for SEO copywriting 

There are so many tools and software now for all things SEO and when you’re new to the scene it can be tricky to work out which to choose. Lucky for you, I’ve narrowed down my favourites over the last six months:

📍Ahrefs

A jack of all trades, Ahrefs should really be your go-to as an SEO copywriter. Keyword research, content gap analysis, user intent, it does it all.

📍AlsoAsked

You’ll have seen the ‘People Also Ask’ list that appears in Google’s search results – it shows you the, often amusing, top queries the population are asking. Well, AlsoAsked puts all that data in one place. You enter a topic or question and receive a full mind-map of the most asked queries. This is a goldmine for writing FAQ sections, coming up with headings, or simply to get a better sense of what the target audience is wanting to know.

📍Salient

This tool emulates Google, showing you what’s being picked up as the most important features of the page. It’s helpful to show you if your copy is successfully targeting the relevant topics, giving you a clue into how Google will rank it.

📍Grammarly

An absolute classic, and a must for copywriters. Add this extension to your browser and it will make sure every piece of work, every email, and every LinkedIn caption is error-free and perfectly punctuated. Because is there anything more icky than a copywriter with incorrect grammar?

📍Gemini

ChatGPT’s lesser known cousin, Gemini is Google’s own AI assistant and I find it to be a better alternative. One thing it’s great for is proofing. Simply insert your piece of work and it shows you any errors, places for improvement and even some ‘what went wells’. Got to love some validation from a chatbot. 

How to upskill in SEO copywriting

If you’re new to marketing and SEO, you’ll want to be catching up fast. There’s a lot to learn so here’s how I got up to speed:

> Consume lots of writing, and make it good writing. Follow copywriters on LinkedIn, subscribe to newsletters, rediscover the joy of reading that got sidelined at university. If you want to write great content, you need to read a lot of great content.

> Attend webinars and marketing events. There’s so much going on, particularly here in Manchester, and many of these events are free! There’s no one better to learn from than the leaders in our industry – and the free pizza never goes amiss.

> Want to feel slightly more productive on your commute? Choose an educational podcast rather than your favourite Made in Chelsea Stars. Here are some of my faves:

  • ‘Always Take Notes’ = each episode interviews a diverse range of established novelists, journalists and publishers. They have fascinating conversations and it’s a great place to mine writing tips and seek inspiration.
  • ‘MozPod’ = with the tagline ‘learn best practices from real SEOs’ this is a podcast focused on sharing lessons from SEO experts.
  • ‘Girls in Marketing’ =  a fun one for women new to the industry, offering advice to help you get started.

My top tips for SEO Copywriting

I’ll finish with some quick-fire top tips to send you on your way into the world of SEO copy:

  1. Want to be a good copywriter? Competitor analysis is essential. I spend so much time on competitor sites I’m probably responsible for half of their page views – try to really work out why they’re ranking and how you can do the same but better.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you haven’t been given a style guide by a client, ask! This will save you all time in the long-run.
  1. Study the client’s work closely, immerse yourself in it and know their tone of voice inside and out. You need to be able to mimic their style exactly, no matter how niche it may be. I like to make a document of ‘stock phrases’ and general comments on tone for each client, to refer back to every time I write.
  1. You will receive criticism, and some of it might hurt, but try to reframe it as a learning opportunity. It’s easy to take feedback on our writing personally but just see it as a chance to improve and get closer to writing exactly what the client wants.
  1. Sleep on it… then proof. For every piece of work, I’ll schedule a quick proof the morning after. With a fresh outlook I’m able to spot errors I completely overlooked the day before, and can often think of additional points to add.

So there we have it, the diary of an amateur copywriter who knows slightly more than she did six months ago. Hopefully these tips can help you to avoid the rookie mistakes and get you creating top-tier content.

Need some help with your SEO strategy? We’re happy to assist. Get in contact today to find out how we can help you improve your online visibility.

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How To Get Media Coverage For Your Business In Seven Steps

As a small or start up-business, gaining media attention  is important for growth and gives your SEO a significant boost. But, it can often feel like a daunting, nay impossible task. Where do you even begin? And do you need a big budget to make a difference?

At Cedarwood Digital, we work with clients of all shapes and sizes, with a variety of budgets. So, we know first-hand that you can make an impact, regardless of size or budget.

We’ve rounded up our top tips and broken down the process of  landing coverage for your business, so you can start a media storm. 

 

1. Understand what journalists want to see

When creating a press release, keep in mind that journalists receive countless similar emails each  day. Focus on providing something valuable that they can’t get elsewhere! Create fresh content that either supports established ideas with research or challenges them with new data. Surveys that provide journalists with interesting and topical statistics are a great way to get your business featured in the press. Whilst there are companies that will run surveys for you, these can be costly, so SMEs can benefit from using their own customer databases to conduct surveys and research.

Images are also crucial for a strong press release, as we live in an increasingly visual world. Including a few good  images to support your press release saves journalists time and could be the difference between your story getting picked up and falling flat.

 

2. Know your target audience

Craft a unique angle that makes your story resonate with the publications you’re looking to target. Try not to generalise content and send it across all genres of media – this will be obvious  to the journalist and appear lazy. It’s best to brainstorm and research topical news, upcoming events and  media trends relevant to your brand to ensure your content hits the right mark. Don’t neglect regional press, as a local angle can also be a great hook. Though regional publications may have a smaller audience than nationals, they offer the chance to showcase news on a local scale and can be easier to land  features in than the bigger publications. If you’re offering research and statistics that cover the whole of the UK, try breaking your research down into key city demographics so that it is more relevant to regional publications. 

 

3. Build a comprehensive media list 

Whilst you may already be familiar with some key publications you would like to target, it’s useful to go beyond the obvious and expand your horizons to more niche publications as well.  It’s a good idea to think about your ideal customer, and then pinpoint the media outlets they would be using for their news. There are numerous online tools  to help you build out  a thorough media list – with everything from trade journals to nationals. Tools like Roxhill Media, Muckrack, and Cision offer subscriptions, allowing you access to media databases. Or for those with smaller budgets, websites like Hunter.io allow a limited number of free searches for journalist contacts. Both X (Twitter) and LinkedIn can also be good places to start building connections. Monitor #journorequest and #prrequest on X (Twitter) to find relevant feature opportunities and connect with journalists on LinkedIn.

We recommend keeping your media list nice and organised. Categorise the publications by type, size, and geographic reach to make your life easier when you get to the outreach stage.

 

4. Research the targeted journalist

Once you’ve built your media  list, double check that the journalist specialises in your topic. Ensure you’ve got accurate contact details noted as first impressions count and you don’t want to come across as unprofessional!  

Make sure to stay on top of deadlines and publication dates to ensure timely outreach and avoid interrupting journalists when they’re working against the clock. There’s no problem in getting in touch to ask if a certain topic is of interest, but don’t harass them. If you’ve followed up twice via email and have still not had a response, then unfortunately the journalist may just not be interested in your pitch.

 

5. Design your press release to make an impression

Structure press releases in a way that makes them easily digestible to busy journalists. Generally, try to stick to the following rules:

  • ➡️Use a snappy and attention-grabbing headline; assume the journalist is in a rush and reading it on their phone, it needs to grab them! 
  • ➡️It can be useful to think about your press release as an inverted pyramid. Immediately summarise the gist  of the content in the first paragraph, making sure to answer the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why). Then, bring in your additional context below with the information becoming less vital as you move down the page. 
  • ➡️Avoid technical terms which aren’t accessible.
  • ➡️Support your story with evidence or data where possible. In particular, including a shocking statistic in the headline is a good technique to get your release noticed and show journalists that it’s news.
  • ➡️Include your contact information at the end of the press release, and make sure to be available for follow up calls.
  • ➡️A ‘Notes to the Editor’ section at the bottom of the release is always useful. This is where you can include relevant background information that does not feature in your press release, such as an overview of your business’ services, how you conducted your research  or a brief history of your business.
  •  ➡️Then you’re ready to press send!

 

6. Add supporting information & special extras to the press release

To give your press release a bit more zest, it’s worth considering what extra support you could provide to each journalist. Publications often want to get unique angles on stories to avoid duplicated articles, so think about offering a case study, interview or photograph to sweeten the deal.

If you have a larger publication in mind that you are eager to work with, then you could offer them the exclusive on the story first; being featured in one large publication with a significant audience could be more worthwhile than coverage in  multiple smaller publications.

 

7. Build relationships with journalists

To establish long-term media relationships, provide journalists with a steady stream of good content, stick to deadlines, and be readily available for interviews and commentary.  This way, you’ll create a great reputation for yourself as a useful contact and build a lasting relationship with the press. 

 

Land media coverage with the help of professionals


With these tips under your belt, you should now be in the best position to get out there and secure coverage for your business. Need a hand getting started? Our digital PR team here at Cedarwood Digital have a proven track record. We deliver campaigns that land you 100% earned links and coverage from top publications because we know what the journalists want to see, and how to execute it.

We’ve achieved excellent results for both SMEs and large international clients alike. Get in touch today to get your brand in front of its target audience.

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How Digital PR Works To Improve SEO Results

In the ever-competitive online landscape, prioritising digital PR within your SEO strategy will ensure you don’t fall behind. The benefits go much deeper than just backlinks. Using digital PR to support your SEO efforts will increase your brand awareness and visibility, drive referral traffic, boost E-E-A-T signals, and ultimately increase revenue – the stuff that matters!

Before getting into the value of digital PR, we’ll remind you of the four key pillars of a successful SEO strategy:

  • On-page SEO: This focuses on optimising your website’s content and HTML code to be search engine friendly.
  • Technical SEO: Ensures your website is structured in a way that search engines can easily crawl and index your content.
  • Content: Creating useful and relevant answers to the questions your target audience is searching for.
  • Off-page SEO: This is where digital PR comes in – building your website’s authority through backlinks and other external signals.

While the simplest way of measuring digital PR activity is by the number of pieces of coverage and backlinks you achieve, the potential SEO benefits go much further:

The benefits of digital PR for SEO

Bring in better quality links than old-school link building methods 

Unlike outdated link building methods that might focus on quantity over quality, digital PR excels at acquiring high-authority, relevant backlinks. Backlinks act like votes of confidence for search engines. The bigger and more established the brand or website linking to you, the stronger the positive impact on your website’s ranking in the SERPs. Digital PR secures these valuable links naturally by forging relationships with journalists and creating genuinely insightful content that they want to share! This focus on link-earning (rather than buying) ensures you get the most relevant and authoritative links that Google values the most.

Improve DR/DA/TF

Securing high-quality links through digital PR in turn improves your website’s Domain Ranking (or similar metrics like Domain Authority or Trust Flow).

As an example, we increased our loan agency client’s DR from 38 to 48 through landing links in high tier publications. Recognising the media’s appetite for money-saving hacks, a topic directly relevant to our client, we identified “insta-mums” keen to share tips on extending the lifespan of school uniforms. This angle resonated with journalists, earning linked coverage in key dailies like The Sun and The Echo. Given the high authority these publications hold in Google’s eyes, these votes of confidence significantly boosted our client’s ranking.

Increase brand awareness and online visibility

By securing placements in relevant publications and online outlets, you’re putting your brand in front of a targeted audience who actively engages with those sources. This exposure fuels brand awareness, resulting in your target market gaining familiarity with your name and services.  Every piece of brand name anchor text, and every mention in the news and on social media, acts as a brand signal – reinforcing brand identity and playing a part in Google’s measurement of ‘brand authority’.

Boost E-E-A-T signals

Most SEOs and PRs will know all about this acronym and its importance, but if E-E-A-T is new to you – it’s a concept that’s included in Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. These guidelines are essentially a roadmap for the human raters who evaluate the quality and relevance of search results and for websites aiming for top positions, building strong E-E-A-T signals is crucial. 

Digital PR secures placements in reputable news outlets, showcasing your expertise on relevant topics and demonstrating the trust these publications have placed in your brands. This is especially the case when the campaigns utilise expert commentary. Coverage of your business’ experts lends credibility and directly contributes to your E-E-A-T signals. They’re particularly important for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) industries –  pages that cover topics with the potential to impact a user’s happiness, health, financial stability or safety.

At Cedarwood, we specialise in helping YMYL businesses to boost their E-E-A-T and consequential site traffic, through digital PR efforts. For instance, we used thought leadership initiatives to improve the SEO of a medical negligence client. Since they fall squarely within the YMYL category, we collaborated with their in-house experts to share informative expertise around medical symptoms and amplify their expertise and authority signals in the process. We outreached these comments in line with specific awareness days and the approach proved a huge success – generating over 100 pieces of linked coverage pointing back to the client’s website!

Generate referral traffic

Digital PR generates a wave of targeted referral traffic by securing links in media outlets frequented by your ideal audience. It attracts the right kind of traffic: consumers already interested in your industry. These clicks not only translate to new website visitors, but can also nurture existing leads further down the line. The more high-quality links you build in relevant publications, and the higher you rank in search results, the greater your visibility becomes – attracting a steady stream of potential customers.

Boost leads, sales & revenue through growing traffic and improving visibility

So, why does this all matter? Well digital PR isn’t just about links and website traffic; what’s most important is the sales and revenue growth this drives. Digital PR increases your prominence in search results. This then increases the opportunities you have to capture qualified leads and convert them into paying customers. 

Think about it this way, you’ll be outreaching your PR to only the most relevant publications, read by your ideal customer. This targeted traffic is far more likely to convert than a generic website visitor who stumbles across one of your pages. Plus, these customers are that little bit more likely to press ‘buy’ because they’ve seen your brand in a respected publication, featured alongside other trust-worthy sources. That additional trust is so important to give users the confidence to purchase.

Improve your SEO results with Cedarwood Digital 

At Cedarwood Digital, we’re experts in crafting targeted digital PR campaigns that generate high-quality backlinks, establish your brand as a thought leader, and ultimately help you reach your SEO goals.  We understand the intricate connection between digital PR and SEO, and use this to drive traffic, and boost your business’ conversions.

Find out more about our digital PR team here, or drop us an email today to discuss a tailored strategy for your site.

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Easter Search Data: What are the UK’s most searched for Easter Eggs?

Easter may still be a few weeks away but if you’re anything like us, you’re browsing the confectionary aisles and starting to think about which egg you’re asking for this year. In fact, the stats back this up – there have been 50,000 searches for ‘Easter Egg’ in the UK in the past month, 213% more than the previous month. We’re clearly an impatient bunch!

With hundreds on the market, which easter egg should be added to your cart this year? At Cedarwood, we don’t take this decision lightly! We had a nosy at the stats to help us make an informed decision. Our SEO team have compiled easter egg search volumes over the last 4 years and pulled together the key numbers to help you make the right choice.

We’re going to give you the lowdown on: 

🍫The UKs most searched for eggs 

🍫The vegan easter egg capital

🍫Which big-drinker cities are searching for Guinness eggs 

🍫Who’s potentially a bit too obsessed with their pet and buying a pet friendly Easter eggs

🍫The most popular cheese easter eggs (yes, you read that right)

What are the UK’s most searched for Easter Eggs?

  1. Ferrero Rocher – 209,120 searches
  2. Reese’s  146,160 searches
  3. Oreo – 108,030 searches
  4. Daim – 85,950 searches
  5. Nomo – 68,080 searches
  6. Smarties – 67,330 searches
  7. Terry’s Chocolate Orange – 62,720 searches
  8. Guylian – 61,530 searches
  9. Yorkie – 48,880 searches
  10. Turkish Delight – 48,250 searches

So, what do we make of the UK’s searched for eggs? It’s certainly an eclectic mix. That top search may surprise some of you – who knew we were such fans of hazelnut in this country. The egg in question is £11 – it’s made entirely of the signature hazelnut shell of a Ferrero Rocher, and contains 6 of the chocolates inside. Wow, this might be a new personal contender. We also can’t get enough of peanut butter chocolate, with the Reese’s easter egg coming in second. Peanut butter and chocolate is a winning combination after all so why not incorporate it at Easter. 

People have also been searching for Oreo easter eggs. Disappointingly, this egg is pretty basic – it’s simply a Cadbury’s chocolate egg. But, it does come with two small eggs filled with oreo filling – delicious. Coming in at number 4 we have impressively high searches for a Daim easter egg – do they call it the Ikea effect?

Which cities are searching for vegan Easter Eggs the most?

  1. Brighton – 1,805 searches per 100,000 people
  2. Plymouth – 1,076 searches per 100,000 people
  3. Portsmouth – 1,025 searches per 100,000 people
  4. Belfast – 939 searches per 100,000 people
  5. Northampton – 847 searches per 100,000 people
  6. Bristol – 811 searches per 100,000 people
  7. Reading – 804 searches per 100,000 people
  8. Hull – 783 searches per 100,000 people
  9. Nottingham – 761 searches per 100,000 people
  10. Derby – 735 searches per 100,000 people
  11. Leicester – 686 searches per 100,000 people
  12. Stoke – 679 searches per 100,000 people
  13. Bradford – 646 searches per 100,000 people
  14. Coventry – 526 searches per 100,000 people
  15. Newcastle – 516 searches per 100,000 people
  16. Leeds – 512 searches per 100,000 people
  17. Sheffield – 494 searches per 100,000 people
  18. Glasgow – 397 searches per 100,000 people
  19. Manchester – 370 searches per 100,000 people
  20. Southampton – 320 searches per 100,000 people
  21. Liverpool – 238 searches per 100,000 people
  22. Cardiff – 225 searches per 100,000 people
  23. London – 215 searches per 100,000 people
  24. Birmingham – 205 searches per 100,000 people
  25. Edinburgh – 138 searches per 100,000 people

We didn’t want to neglect our sweet-toothed vegans so pulled together data from Ahrefs top 50 vegan easter eggs terms. 

You won’t be surprised to learn that Brighton is searching the most for Vegan Easter Eggs – 67% more searches per capita than runner-up Plymouth. This aligns with the city’s crowning as most vegan-friendly city. It’s a strong turnout overall from the South, with Plymouth and Portsmouth taking second and third place for the eco-friendly purchases.

However, searches for Vegan Easter Eggs have been decreasing throughout the years – down 7% in 2023 compared to 2022, and down 31% compared to 2021. This makes sense; research from GWI reveals that the number of vegans has dropped by 15% in the UK in the last two years and Connecting the Dots cites growing eco-fatigue and the cost-of-living crisis as the top reasons for this decline.

As for the most popular vegan Easter eggs on the market, Nomo claimed the top spot, with 68,080 searches. Nomo pride themselves on creating ‘chocolate for everyone’, which is free from dairy, gluten, eggs and nuts.

Booja Booja was the second most searched for vegan Easter egg, with 21,540 searches. These hand-painted eggs, made in Kashmir, India, are filled with organic, vegan chocolate truffles – another delicious option for the plant-based chocoholics out there!

Which cities are searching for Guinness Easter Eggs?

  1. Belfast – 86 searches per 100,000 people
  2. Brighton – 45 searches per 100,000 people
  3. Hull – 38 searches per 100,000 people
  4. Portsmouth – 33 searches per 100,000 people
  5. Plymouth – 32 searches per 100,000 people
  6. Stoke – 29 searches per 100,000 people
  7. Derby – 28 searches per 100,000 people
  8. Northampton – 25 searches per 100,000 people
  9. Reading – 24 searches per 100,000 people
  10. Leicester – 22 searches per 100,000 people
  11. Bradford – 21 searches per 100,000 people
  12. Nottingham – 21 searches per 100,000 people
  13. Leeds – 17 searches per 100,000 people
  14. Sheffield – 17 searches per 100,000 people
  15. Coventry – 17 searches per 100,000 people
  16. Bristol – 16 searches per 100,000 people
  17. Newcastle – 15 searches per 100,000 people
  18. Manchester – 15 searches per 100,000 people
  19. Glasgow – 11 searches per 100,000 people
  20. Southampton – 10 searches per 100,000 people
  21. Cardiff – 9 searches per 100,000 people
  22. Birmingham – 7 searches per 100,000 people
  23. London – 7 searches per 100,000 people
  24. Liverpool – 6 searches per 100,000 people
  25. Edinburgh – 4 searches per 100,000 people

Belfast tops the charts for most interested in Guinness easter eggs – no surprises there! Belfast have been searching a huge 91% more than the runner up, Brighton, who also appear to love a pint, the rugby, or both.

I for one was immediately wondering if a Guinness easter egg actually contains Guinness? And the answer is yes! But do not worry, everyone can enjoy this treat; the alcohol by volume in the egg only works out as less than 1 percent. This easter egg is dark chocolate, shaped like a rugby ball, and the perfect gift for a Guinness fan.

Which cities are searching for pet-friendly Easter Eggs?

  1. Newcastle – 142 searches per 100,000 people
  2. Bristol – 140 searches per 100,000 people
  3. Bradford – 132 searches per 100,000 people
  4. Nottingham – 126 searches per 100,000 people
  5. Sheffield – 116 searches per 100,000 people
  6. Leeds – 93 searches per 100,000 people
  7. Manchester – 81 searches per 100,000 people
  8. Liverpool – 56 searches per 100,000 people
  9. Birmingham – 44 searches per 100,000 people
  10. London – 30 searches per 100,000 people

If you’re hoping to engage your pet in the festivities too, plenty of brands offer tasty and safe Easter treats for them to enjoy. Made using dairy alternatives like carob, more and more pet-friendly eggs are lining the shelves each year. So, which of us are most prone to spoiling our furry friends?

Well, Newcastle is most likely to celebrate Easter with their pets, with Bristol coming up shortly behind them and Bradford in third-place. The stats show a clear dominance from the North – maybe we just love our pets a bit more up here…

It also appears that we’re getting more generous towards our pets over time. 2023 data shows an increase in searches by a whopping 219% compared to 2020 stats.

What are the most popular cheese Easter Eggs?

While many of us can’t resist a chocolatey treat, those who prefer savoury flavours usually have to forgo this tradition. This is no longer the case, as major supermarkets are now selling easter eggs made entirely from cheese! They’re definitely a divisive one and may not be the treat you are looking for this Easter Sunday. But if you do pride yourself on being a bit of a cheese fanatic, which brands should you be on the lookout for?

  1. M&S – 7,940 searches
  2. Butlers – 2,980 searches
  3. Asda – 2,380 searches
  4. Blacksticks Blue – 1,650 searches
  5. Tesco – 1,290 searches
  6. Sainsbury’s – 1,020 searches

Unsurprisingly, the queen of UK supermarkets, Marks and Spencers, takes the top spot, receiving a huge 5,000 more searches than the runner-ups. Taking second place is Butlers; less of a household name, this brand manufactures farmhouse cheeses and offers a ‘cheese that identifies as an egg’. It’s made from Blacksticks, their famous blue cheese. You surely can’t go wrong opting for a company completely devoted to cheese.

Cedarwood Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency, specialising in SEO, digital PR and PPC. If you’d like any help making an easter egg purchase, gathering search data, or enhancing your online visibility, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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The Impact Of Local SEO On Manchester Businesses 

Did you know that 97% of users search online to find a local business? And that a huge 78% of these local searches result in an offline purchase? If your Manchester-based business isn’t optimised for local search, you could be missing out on a significant portion of potential customers.

But what is local SEO? This blog will delve into what it is and how it differs from your standard SEO practices. Put simply, local SEO is a targeted approach to search engine optimisation that improves your website’s visibility when people use search terms with local intent. E.g. ‘agencies near me’, ‘Manchester marketing firms’ etc. 

Local SEO is more important than ever and an essential tool enabling you to reach high-intent users and convert them into paying customers. Stay tuned for a run-down of what local SEO can do for your business and our tips and tricks to ensure you’re maximising its potential.

What Is Local SEO?

Through analysis of user behaviours, Google worked out that searches for certain businesses (like plumbers, restaurants, and yes – digital marketing agencies) are often local in nature. For this reason, search results now take location into account when you search for one of these ‘local terms’. You don’t even need to specify a location, Google’s clever algorithms sense what you’re after and show you the best utilities near you. But how can you make sure that Google sees your business as one of the ‘best’ in Manchester and puts it at the top of the SERPs? The answer is local SEO.

Local SEO goes beyond traditional SEO by focusing on optimising your online presence for a specific geographic location. It involves claiming and optimising your Google Business Profile listing, strategically using local keywords throughout your website content, and encouraging positive customer reviews. 

These steps send strong signals to search engines that your business caters to a specific area. The result? When people in your city or town search for products or services you offer, your business is more likely to appear prominently in search results, leading potential customers right to your doorstep. So, local SEO isn’t just about ranking well; it’s about attracting users who are actively looking for what you offer in their local area.

What Are The Benefits Of Local SEO?

By now it should be clear that local SEO is a powerful tool for driving sales and boosting your business. But let’s go over the three areas where local SEO can make the most significant impact.

Traffic and visibility

Local SEO done right will get your business seen by the right people at the right time. A robust strategy will significantly boost your visibility, attracting a flood of highly relevant local searches. This is because local SEO helps your business rank higher in search results for relevant local keywords – and this translates to more targeted traffic. 

Credibility

Building trust with potential customers is key to any business’s success, and local SEO plays a significant role in establishing your website’s credibility. An accurate Google Business Profile, and consistent contact details across your website create a sense of reliability for potential customers. Equally, local SEO’s emphasis on online reviews act as social proof – building trust and encouraging purchases.

Sales and revenue

Realistically, your number one priority is to get paying customers through the door (or new clients brought in). Local SEO is your key to achieving this; it’s a cost-effective way for your business to build trust, reach more customers and ultimately drive sales. 

Let’s face it, the whole point of getting more website traffic, being seen online, and building trust is to boost sales, right?  Ranking high in local searches puts your business in front of potential customers who are already interested and ready to buy what you offer.

Tips For Improving Local SEO For Your Manchester Business

🐝 Google Business Profile

The first step to improving your local SEO is setting up a Google  Business Profile. This is a free tool that lets you manage how you’ll appear in Google Searches and Google Maps. Within this profile, you can highlight good reviews, include contact details and directions to your business, and link to key pages on your website. If a user searches for your business, this profile will appear on the right-hand side and it’s up to you to make sure they’ll want to click through.

🐝 Google Map Pack

This is the term used to describe the real top spot in Google’s local search results. If a user makes a search with local intent, the first thing they see is a set of businesses and a map identifying their locations. This appears above the traditional search results and is reserved for the very best businesses. For example, if we were to search for recruitment agencies in Manchester, the map pack looks like this:

Under each business is a condensed version of their Google Business Profile, and this pack has become a key factor in consumers’ buying choices.

So, how can you utilise this? Well, to get into the map pack results make sure to:

>>Claim your Google Business Profile 

>>Generate authentic online reviews

>>Link-build (but more on this later)

🐝 Reviews

You’ll notice that the three agencies in the coveted spots above had a good review average. Reviews really are crucial because the more high-rated reviews, the more chance of appearing in front of your target users, and providing the credibility they need to press ‘buy’. You’ll know that it’s within our nature to trust something that’s been peer-reviewed. Good reviews give you that extra bit of confidence to purchase. 

So, how can you encourage reviews? You need to make it easy for the customer – include a link to your Google   Business Profile on your website and a ‘leave a review’ button on key landing pages. Plus, following up with your customers via email is a good idea, politely asking them to leave a review. It can also be good to add an incentive here, although note that Google’s policy states that you cannot pay for reviews.

🐝 Address / contact details included on website

Including your business’ address, phone number and email address on your website is an important element of local SEO for a few reasons:

🡺Consistent contact information in multiple places shows Google that you’re a legitimate local entity

🡺Including these details is a clear signal to Google that you’re a local business – this will improve your ranking for relevant local keywords

🡺Aside from anything else, it’s really useful for the customer! People need to be able to contact you quickly and easily. And, don’t forget that Google takes UX into account too. This is particularly important now that most searches happen on mobile devices – users want to be able to call a company to find out more with one click.

Many companies integrate this into the header or footer of their website so that it’s easily accessible.

🐝 Optimise on page content for Manchester-related searches

This simply includes carrying out some keyword research to see what your local customers are searching for, and then naturally implementing these terms. As well as using tools for this, think about putting yourself in the customers’ shoes. What would your ideal clients be looking for and what words would they be using to search?

Of course, remember that high quality, useful content is a top priority so make sure your pages still read naturally. But it can be good to include terms like ‘Manchester’ for example, in your page URLs, title tags, headings, and image alt tags.

🐝 Local link building

Link building, the process of gaining backlinks from other websites, plays a vital role in off-page SEO. These links act as endorsements, signifying to Google that your website is an authority. But did you know that it can be tailored to local SEO too? Look for ways to attract links from locally-focused websites and prioritise this in your Digital PR strategy.

Local news outlets, industry blogs within your area, and websites of local businesses can all be valuable sources of backlinks. Share stories with a local site or perhaps write a case study about a local client in exchange for a link from their website. This will all work to strengthen your local online presence, increasing visibility and conversions.

How Cedarwood Digital can help with your local SEO strategy

Local SEO is done best with the help of SEO professionals. Here at Cedarwood Digital, we have a track record of boosting business’ sales through local SEO. If you’re a local business in Manchester, we can help you with your strategy; get in touch today to see how we can help you thrive in the Manchester market.