2022 Search Awards Instagram Badges

Cedarwood Win Twice At European Search Awards

Last Thursday we headed to Barcelona for the European Search Awards. We were delighted to have been nominated for six of the awards & were looking forward to celebrating the best of search across Europe & beyond.

On the night we were over the moon to take home the awards for:

🎇 Best Small Integrated Agency
🎇 Best PPC Campaign – For Our Work With Hayes Garden World

It was great to receive such positive feedback from the judges after a great year of growth & also successful client campaigns. In particular, having worked with Hayes Garden World for over five years we were delighted to see the joint success with our client off the back of a hugely successful 2021.

And of course, we were unable to evade a trip up onto the stage… so here is a lovely photo of us collecting our award on the evening!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Barcelona & look forward to heading off to a new destination next year for the European Search Awards 2023!


E-A-T in 2022

Over the last two years E-A-T has been the talk of the SEO world – a key pillar of any SEO strategy, especially for websites where trust is key, & an important concept in the life of any SEO who is looking to improve website rankings.

I’d started writing this post on the flight back from a recent trip to Madeira but had only got halfway through it when I got distracted by other tasks. While watching a talk at Brighton SEO recently on E-A-T: Have We Been Looking At It Backwards? by Edward Ziubrzynski, I was inspired to come back to this post & finally finish it! The summary of that talk & what I’d been wanting to say in this post is basically this – E-A-T is still very much alive in 2022; but are we approaching it properly & in the most efficient way for our clients?

E-A-T is clearly a focus for Google, not only is the concept of it mentioned some 40+ times within the Quality Rater Guidelines, it’s also something that we’ve seen work in practice. After all, Google is a business like any other & it wants to give its users the best experience – sending them to the page where they are most likely to find what they are searching for & knowing that they are safe in the process. Simple really, but in reality there are still very few websites which I believe do E-A-T as well as they could.

So let’s take a look at the concept of E-A-T & what it actually means in 2022.

What Is E-A-T?

E-A-T or Expertise, Authority & Trust are key signals that Google looks for when examining the quality of a website. In the diagram below, which I use within our pitch decks, we briefly explain what each of these concepts mean. In general, it’s ensuring that your website exhibits these key characteristics through great on-page content, authoring, a strong link profile, case studies/testimonials & anything else which can build trust within the website.

So what does this mean in 2022?

In simple terms, showcase the trust that your website has & remember that Google values external reviews more than your own. So, if your website reviews don’t match what people are saying externally about your brand then Google will preference the external reviews.

Own your brand presence – whether it be on social media, on Google or even on trusted review sites. Take the time to respond to reviews & build up a trustworthy presence across the web, take time to resolve any issues which might be causing a lower external trust score & also invest the time into building up a trustworthy brand presence.

Build expertise through a solid external link profile – it’s easy to get caught up in just building “high quality links” from “high DR websites” – but really what we need to focus on is links which showcase the expertise of the brand. Relevancy is key here – ensuring that links are relevant & showcase appropriate expertise which naturally builds authority & also ties into the trust of the website.

Keeping your content up to date – how many of us create great content & then don’t come back to it for a year or two? How many articles on your website feature great external trusted links but the information is outdated by several years? It’s no longer relevant? Keeping content up to date is a key element of E-A-T; when users come onto your website a key trust signal is knowing that you are up to date with the latest information & can deliver the latest expertise.

For websites which fall into Google’s Your Money Your Life (Y-M-Y-L) category the above becomes even more important & I’d suggest, that in 2022, YMYL is more important than ever before.

What is Y-M-Y-L & How Does This Tie In With E-A-T?

At the latter end of last year I did a pitch for an insurance company. As part of that we discussed the concept of Y-M-Y-L or Your Money Your Life. I was shocked to find that they’d actually never heard of it, either from their incumbent agency or the other agency that was pitching. In the insurance industry for sure this is an important concept & Google even highlights this directly within its guidelines:

Which is why it came as a surprise that not only was the client not aware of it, but also that the agency had never mentioned it. For me, when it came to the SEO strategy, this has to be the cornerstone of it and not just a traditional add-on.

For us, YMYL looks something like this:

A lot of people put it in the same bucket as E-A-T, but to me it’s very different – YMYL focuses more on the micro-optimisation & user intent/purpose as opposed to the more obvious attributes of E-A-T. In YMYL we are focusing on the micro-optimisation of placing clear information & expertise early on in the content and regularly updating it. We must ensure that the website has a clear purpose where any content allows users to easily reach their destination or contact someone if they need more information.

Authoring & reputation are also key here – who has authored the content & what are their credentials, are these clearly displayed? What is the website’s overall reputation, external or internal, & how is this shown to Google? All of these elements pulled together not only deliver a great user experience, but they also help the user to get the information that they need from an expert, thus allowing them to make a more considered decision.

Next Steps

In 2022 the concepts of E-A-T & Y-M-Y-L are more important than ever before, especially for websites which fall into the latter category (which is bigger than most people think). Mastering these concepts will undoubtedly help with your overall SEO performance &, not just that, they will help with your on-site Conversion Rate as customers are experiencing a much more trustworthy, expertise-driven website. So really it’s a win-win scenario.

If you are looking to find out more about how to apply these concepts or improving your SEO as a whole, get in touch.

Screenshot 2022-04-25 173006

Utilising Competition Graphs To Identify Opportunity

Having worked in the medical negligence industry where CPCs can be as high as £40 or £50, I’m very familiar with how valuable utilising competition graphs to find those lower volume cheaper – but equally as effective – CPCs can be. When we’re talking CPCs as high as the ones I’ve just mentioned it’s easy to burn through budget, even with a great Conversion Rate, so finding those gems within the lower volumes becomes even more critical, especially when it comes to building out campaigns or trying to find more areas to cover.

It’s not just PPC where competition graphs can be a valuable addition & today I want to look at how we can utilise these very popular Excel graphs within SEO strategy, to understand where the opportunities lie to drive growth/visibility across both SEO & Digital PR.

Fortunately, there are a number of different ways that you can work with Excel & data from some of our favourite digital marketing tools to really understand what’s available in the market & where the opportunities might lie.

Let’s take an example…

A few months back I was drafted in to pull together a proposal for a promotional products company. This company specialised in a wide range of different promotional products, & one of the tasks I undertook as part of the proposal process was to identify key areas of opportunity so we could see where the value lay for our clients. This would form the foundation of not only our SEO strategy but also guide our Digital PR strategy when it came to link acquisition & where we wanted to focus our efforts.

I reference the Excel spreadsheet below – pulled together with data just from AHRefs & plotted on a three axis graph, by overlaying CPC data with Search Volume & Difficulty.

Now this graph can be utilised for both SEO & PPC – for SEO it’s even more useful as you can use AHRefs “competition metric,” which for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, judges how hard it is to rank for a particular keyword given the number of higher Domain Rank websites that currently rank above that term. Essentially, it gives an overview of the volumes of specific keywords mapped against keyword difficulty to give you an idea of how achievable it might be to rank for that given keyword.

From the data above we can quite clearly see a number of significant trends. Initially, we can see that the market place has high search volume for branded pens, but also that this has super high competition & trying to rank on this term might be quite difficult. By contrast, if we look at other branded products such as lanyards, umbrellas or notebooks we can see a similar search volume level but a much lower level of keyword difficulty – an area of opportunity.

From utilising a simple graph above (and there’s many more products that we can populate in there) we are able to draw deductions around how to create an effective SEO/Digital PR strategy to maximise opportunity for the client, while still keeping in mind commercial intent & ensuring we are also applying adequate focus to commercially important terms.

Now we’ve seen this work for branded promotional products, how does it work for higher CPC terms like “medical negligence?”

In this example we can see a far more pronounced difference for the high volume terms – but again we have some great areas of opportunity. We can see from this data that the popular “medical compensation” term is, in fact, low search volume for very high competition, compared to something we perhaps wouldn’t target, such as “medical negligence nhs” or even “medical negligence lawyer” which despite still having reasonable keyword difficulty has a much more established search volume (or reward!) to match.

All in all the graphs above are very simple to produce & incredibly easy to pull together utilising the following steps:

  1. Login to your AHREfs account
  2. Navigate to the “Keywords Explorer” tab & input your list of targeted keywords
  3. Download the Spreadsheet
  4. Remove all columns except “Keyword” “KD” & “Search Volume” & pull these into Excel using a multi-touchpoint graph

And there you go… a quick & easy way to pull together an effective graph which allows you to easily identify areas of opportunity, quick wins or perhaps more long-term gains for your clients which ties in with real-word metrics (search volume) to see achievable gains.


Why is Content Important for SEO?

Content Executive, Emma Stretton, explains why you need more than just keywords if you want to rank.

SEO is not just keywords

There was a time when you could come up with 57 synonyms for ‘washing machine’ and have your appliance business fly up the SERPs. That was back when search engines were rudimentary at best but, as with everything, when we know better, we do better; and keyword stuffing is just another sorry search engine tale millennials laugh about. 

Nowadays, it isn’t enough to shoehorn single keywords into on-page content or write a blog filled with spam links. Not only does Google update their algorithms regularly to weed out such behaviour, but the way we use the internet has changed too.

Organic search and our behaviour

Data from SEO website AHRefs, shows that of the 1.9 billion keywords in the AHrefs database, 92% of them get ten searches per month or less. Which basically means that people aren’t simply searching for the most obvious phrases anymore, they’re talking to search engines like a friend and asking them for very fine tuned, specific information. Think about it, in 2006 when the internet was burgeoning, it was enough that we could look for, and find, ‘shoes’ just by typing into a search bar. Now, with mobile technology, GPRS and a tech savvy generation, we think nothing of asking for ‘size 4 black western boots’ (or whichever shoe style takes your fancy). We can even use voice search to essentially have a conversation with our search engines, and can narrow down our dinner choices as close to home as we want.

Google Updates

Nowadays, it’s more important than ever to make sure the content you provide gives real value to the people looking for it. In 2013, Google ran the ‘Hummingbird update’ which is known as the semantic update. It figured out that when someone searches for something, there could be various meanings behind that search. So, to go back to our earlier example of the shoes, someone searching for ‘black western boots’ could just as well want to know about the history of them as much as wanting to buy a pair. The Hummingbird update allowed for this nuance and started crawling websites not just for the most obvious keywords but for the content that could be closest to what the searcher wanted. Yeah, it blows our minds a bit too.

Several more updates, improved technology and conversational search have now made Google’s processes even tighter. There are roughly 40,000 search queries per second; that’s a lot of people wanting to know a lot of things, and search engines want to return the best results. If you’re creating content for your website, it needs to signal expertise, authority and trust; which means writing for humans and human behaviour, not what you think Google wants to hear.

Think content, not crawling

People want to take in information that genuinely helps them and that they can believe in. They want to be engaged and informed, and not bored. No one wants 15 versions of the same word shouted at them and in a world that thrives on a faster pace, you’ve got to get to the point. We can’t teach you how to write the perfect copy (although we could do it for you), but here’s a few hints and tips we try to live by:

  1. Remember that content ranks – don’t get caught up in keyword hype. That’s why we wrote this article, to remind you that Google wants quality not quantity.

  1. Get to the point – Readers tend to skim read content if it’s overfacing. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Then reread it and take out some more.

  1. Think about your E-A-T – Expertise, authority and trust are huge factors for ranking. Make sure your content hits these cornerstones. Basically, don’t just spout a load of nonsense for the sake of making content, because search engines will know.

  1. Do your research – make sure what you’re actually saying is factually correct, and that the keywords you do use are relevant.

  1. Do you enjoy reading it? When we’ve finished a piece we go back over it and see if we actually enjoyed reading it. Even the less exciting topics, when well written, should hold your attention. 

Often, marketers get bogged down with how to ‘write for search engines’, when really, it’s quite simple; content that serves the user well, serves search engines well. Ultimately, search engines want to give their users the best experience when they use their platform, so if they type in “history of black western boots” and land on your well-researched guide to black western boots, featuring a detailed timeline, pictures, sources and even quotes from cowboys through out history trailblazing the benefits of boots, then the reader has everything they need. And a happy reader = a happy Google. So, focus on content that offers value and Google will do the rest.

Want more SEO tips? Then check out these blogs

6 Reasons Why Your Website NEEDS A Blog

Voice search: the future of SERPs?


How are British fast fashion retailers building links to their websites?

Good SEO is crucial for fast fashion retailers. 

Many are based solely online meaning that getting traffic to the website is the only way to make sales. And with lockdown further fueling an eCommerce revolution, it’s more important than ever to rank well on Google to steer customers towards your website. 

In the SEO world, it’s undisputed that building high-quality links to your site is a proven way to improve your website’s position in the search engine results (read more on this here). It’s also widely accepted that the best way to earn links is through online PR, more commonly referred to as Digital PR.

So how are fast fashion retailers earning high-quality links? We investigated four online-only brands to get the lowdown.

The four brands investigated are: 

  • In The Style
  • Missguided
  • Boohoo
  • Sosander 

Product placement is key 

Fast fashion brands have one huge benefit when it comes to link building – the product. Ecommerce stores have the opportunity to offer product reviews and feature in gift guides, both of which are published frequently in online newspapers, magazines and blogs alike.

What are the benefits of link building through product placements?

The benefits of landing product placements are threefold:

  1. They get your product and brand seen by a focused audience which can lead to sales.
  2. They usually only cost the amount of product being gifted to the publication.
  3. A link is guaranteed. Journalists know that readers want to click through the article to buy the product they’ve just been sold. 

*Link Building Tip: When pushing out products to journalists, be sure to send them everything they need in your initial email. This includes correct pricing, timescales on deals, and hi-res images in a Dropbox link.

Gift guides 

Gift guides are a fast fashion retailer’s bread and butter. They are easy for brands to capitalise on and they’re predictable. Retailers should have gift guides prepared for all annual buying holidays – Christmas, Father’s Day, festival season, you name it. 

*Link Building Tip: Create a PR calendar for the year to make sure you’re capitalising on key retail dates. 

As fast fashion retailers can quickly turn around new products in light of seasonal events, it makes it even easier for them to provide relevant products to journalists. We saw this trend in many fast fashion retailers – for example, In The Style who landed coverage in numerous seasonal gift guides for their Halloween pyjamas (Source).

Fast fashion brands can also quickly and easily create new ranges to target different audiences and use this as a way to generate links. For example, Boohoo launched a maternity range which opened up opportunities to gain links from completely new domains in a new industry – parenting publications (Source). 

*Link Building Fact: Getting links from domains that you haven’t ranked on before is excellent for your website’s rankings. Your website will rank better if you have one link per website on a variety of websites, rather than lots of links from three select websites.

Tapping into popular culture 

When it comes to link building, you need to know about popular culture trends as soon as they’re on the rise and use them to your advantage. Journalists will want to weigh in on them to create current and shareable content – so if you can provide them with a new angle on a trend, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Fast fashion retailers use this technique, and use it well. 

One successful example was from Missguided. They saw memes about “jeans and a nice top” becoming the default answer when women ask each other what they’re wearing, and used this to create a new product page for the phenomenon (Source).

The brilliant thing about this link building stunt was the simplicity. All it needed was a category page built into the site, but made waves in the media as it put a new twist on a viral trend.

*Link Building Tip: Social media is a great place to find rising trends. Particularly keep an eye out for anything that you can tie your product into (think H&M and Joe Black’s Drag Race dress  – if you know, you know).

TV, specifically Netflix, is also a very newsworthy topic that fast fashion retailers use to promote their products. For example, when the hit show Emily In Paris sparked discussion about her impressive wardrobe, In The Style were quick to promote clothes to replicate her looks (Source).  

Deals for days 

Outreaching deals, particularly around Black Friday, is a staple link building technique for fast fashion retailers.

Customers are hungry for deals, and journalists are keen to provide. Therefore it’s crucial to get your discounts seen and included in round-ups which will earn some great links. We have seen this mirrored across all fast fashion and eCommerce businesses (Source), and more so each year as the demand for amazing deals around Black Friday increases.

PR stunts

PR stunts are a high-risk, high-reward technique for gaining press coverage. 

We know that fast fashion retailers can turn around a product quickly, and Boohoo used this to their advantage when creating miniature Christmas wreaths for your nipples. This stunt successfully coupled sex with a seasonal slant to create a product that earnt them a lot of links (Source). 

The expression doesn’t lie – sex sells. 

Celebrity promotions

Many media outlets have a team of journalists dedicated to reporting on celebrity news.

Fast fashion retailers capitalise on this demand for celebrity news in two ways:

1. Celebrity partnerships
Launching a clothing line with a celebrity will not only lead to sales from fans, but earn lots of media attention about the launch – including those important links. In The Style introducing an edit with a Love Island star is a perfect example of this, and one which is very on-brand for their customers (Source). 

2. Steal their style
Retailers can capitalise on press coverage of celebrities’ fabulous outfits by offering suggestions to journalists of how to steal their style – whether that’s with the exact piece of clothing or a duplicate. Sosander has mastered this technique incredibly well, focusing on celebs who are aspirational to their demographic, such as Holly Willoughby, Amanda Holden and Kate Middleton (Source).

Karma-based link building

Gaining links as a result of promoting your company’s charitable work is called karma-based link building. 

Fast fashion retailers don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to corporate responsibility. Therefore charity partnerships and products which fundraise will earn you some positive press whilst giving back. For example, Boohoo released a hoodie with all proceeds from the sale donated to Manchester Foundation Trust Charity’s NHS Staff Appeal (Source) which earned them some positive press and great links.

However fast fashion retailers must tread carefully. On the contrary, Boohoo was slammed for their “For the future campaign” (Source) which many argued contradicted their business model and got press coverage for all the wrong reasons. 


From our investigation, it’s clear that fast fashion retailer’s link building strategies have a heavy product focus. This is no surprise given the threefold benefits listed earlier, as well as the fact that these brands can have new and topical products made up for PR purposes at the drop of a hat. Though not all companies have this at their disposal, there are still many techniques here that can inspire link building strategies for eCommerce clients of all natures.

For more inspiration, check out our blog post ‘Backlinks and Brainteasers: a marriage made in SEO’ about one of our top-performing Christmas campaigns. 

manchester marketing agency

Why We Love Being A Manchester SEO Agency

Our Director, Amanda Walls, set up Cedarwood Digital after working in digital marketing for several years. Amanda has created training courses for Google and knows more about SEO than most people know about themselves. Having travelled all over the world, she tied her flag to Manchester’s mast and decided to start her own digital marketing company.

A different SEO agency

It’s the norm nowadays to have account managers who are assigned to individual clients. It ties things up neatly and assures one point of contact. But what if the norm isn’t necessarily the best way? One of things we all love about working at Cedarwood is how hands on it is. Every team member works with every client and gets to know them as a person, not an account number. We’re basically an extension of your in-house team. So, if your PR needs a push, you speak to our PR hero, and if you’re interested in Google Ads, our PPC whizz is at the end of the phone (or video chat if we’re being topical).

Being in Manchester doesn’t matter when it comes to our clients. They are based all over the UK and we build personal relationships with them wherever they are. Aside from working in an office with a free barista service, it’s one of our favourite things about working at Cedarwood.

manchester seo agency
We’re based in Spinningfields in the heart of Manchester

Where We Work

Our offices are part of a shared workspace where table tennis at lunch is the norm and morning pilates is offered as standard. The culture of working amongst other young, flourishing businesses keeps us motivated, and people bringing in their dogs is also an unexpected perk. Amanda chose We Work in Manchester because it’s the right mix of work and play, and gives us the space we need to be creative and to focus on growing.

Manchester is also host to several digital marketing award’s ceremonies. We’re proud to have been finalists in a few of them, including The Northern Marketing Awards. Obviously there’s friendly rivalry and we find a bit of competition is a great motivator, but it’s also great to be able to celebrate the achievements of digital marketing and SEO companies in Manchester. It’s an energetic city full of exciting businesses and a crazy amount of choices for after-work drinks. Our team comes from the North, the South and even Australia but we all agree that being an SEO company in Manchester is one of the best places we could be right now.

The ping pong Table in the We Work offices

The growth of e-commerce and the turn towards a much more digital world makes working in SEO and digital marketing exciting and challenging. We never want to rest on our laurels and being in the cut and thrust of a thriving city, in an industry that continues to grow, is more than worth the early morning tram ride and the occasional rainy day.

Find out more about our team on our About Page.

Have a look at what our Manchester based SEO services can do for you


6 Reasons Why Your Website NEEDS A Blog

In a recent marketing survey, 52% of respondents agreed that blogging is their most critical content marketing tactic (Hub Spot).

“But, why is blogging so important?” I hear you ask. Sit tight while we convince you why you should start a blog immediately.

Why are blogs important for your website?

  • To increase the SEO of your website
  • To highlight your expertise
  • To give your company a voice
  • To engage with your audience
  • To provide long-term results
  • To outperform paid advertising

1. Increase the SEO of your website

Google loves content that helps its users find what they’re looking for. So, by creating blogs on topics that your target customer is interested in, you can drive traffic back to your website through search rankings. 

Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website than those who don’t (Hub Spot). Plus, the more useful and valuable your content is, the more likely people are to share it within their own content or social media channels.

2. Highlight your expertise

Let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy for anyone with an internet connection to set up a website these days. So why should your target customer buy from you? Because you have a wealth of authoritative, well-written content on your blog that showcases your expertise (amongst other awesome trust signals).

Consumers rarely make a purchase instantly. 53% of consumers consume 3-5 pieces of media before making a purchase or speaking to someone from that company (EliseDopson). Customers want to shop with credible, authoritative businesses online that they know they can trust with their money – so don’t make it hard for them. Tell them why you’re the best. Or better, show them with great content.

3. To give your company a voice

As business guru, Seth Godin, once said “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories & magic.” And with consumer trust wavering, it’s more important than ever to get real with your customers.

Blogs are a great way to show the human element of your business and the thoughts, feelings and stories of the people behind your brand. Be authentic, honest and strip back the corporate jargon. Show your customers the people that their custom impacts.

4. Engage with your audience

Speak your customer’s language! Show them that your company is interested in the topics they’re interested in, you know their concerns, you understand them. All through great blog content. 

Engagement isn’t just about social media. Open up the comments on your blog, ask readers direct questions or even publish customer reviews or opinion pieces to create conversation and a community with your customers.

5. Blogging has long-term results…

Companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog (DemandMetric). Blogs are not just a one-off, they are a long-term strategy that continually provides value to your consumers.

6. … and can beat paid advertising

70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than advertisements (DemandMetric). Blogs are a trustworthy source of information for consumers that acts as free advertising for your company.

Oh, and one more thing…

Did we mention that its FREE?!

Many businesses don’t realise that they often have the skills, expertise and customer understanding to produce high-quality blogs in-house. All it takes is investing in a little bit of time. But if you want to speed up the process, then a marketing agency can give you direction on which are the best topics to write about, keywords to include and even produce the content for you in the tone of voice of your business.

If you have any questions regarding creating the perfect blog, then get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]

The Future of Search

Voice search: the future of SERPs?

If you think voice search is just a gimmick, think again. According to the Comscore, half of all online searches will be made through voice in 2020.

So, with the use of voice search on the rise, now is the time to lay foundations for a strong voice search strategy.

What is Voice Search?

Voice Search is a tool that allows users to search through speech rather than by typing a query on a desktop or mobile device. As the trend for voice search increases, queries must adapt to reflect the style of language used for voice search.

How to Optimise for Voice Search

Voice Search is more conversational and natural than searches made by typing in one or two keywords. So, whilst a user might search for ‘best restaurant in Manchester’ using google on their desktop, they’re more likely to a ask this as a question – ‘which are the best restaurants in Manchester?’ when conducting a voice search. This means that voice search queries are longer than typical keyword search queries.

Target conversational search terms

To optimise for this change in search queries, businesses should target more long-tail keywords on their websites. When carrying out keyword research, it is important to consider more conversational search terms and to think about how people talk and ask questions. Think about the questions that customers ask when they call your business and make a note of the queries that you receive. If there are common queries then it would be useful to start targeting them on the website for your business by creating articles in the blog section with the long-tail keyword being the main focus.

Featured Snippets

It is common for a business to focus on ranking first in the search results, however, this can be very difficult to achieve in a competitive market. Aiming to answer long-tail keywords within your content will also help to obtain a Featured Snippet. Additionally, making small changes such as stating and answering a question consicely, including bullet points and tables will help to gain a feature snippet for a given search query. This can be more valuable than ranking first as this content will be above every other search result. 

Create FAQ pages

Most businesses have FAQs pages on their website – which is great news. FAQs pages are a strong way to target conversational terms that are likely to be popular voice searches. And they’re really easy to set up. Try focusing on question words such as Where, How and What as to target relevant question-based searches. What do does the business do? What are the main opening hours? A sports clothing retailer might sell running trainers and these pages could have an FAQ section where common questions can be answered. But don’t just stick to questions directly related to your business – branch out to common queries. For example, Search terms such as ‘What are the best running trainers for wet weather’ can be targeted along with a list of recommendations.

Google Screenshot SERPS

Featured Snippets in 2020: Everything You Need To Know

The pursuit of featured snippets is well-practised across the SEO industry and has helped to shape onsite content development in recent years. This guide will run through the latest developments surrounding featured snippets, most notably touching on Google’s January algorithm update and whether pursuing a featured snippet is the best use of your (or your agencies) time. Here’s a quick snippet of what we’ll run through:

  • What is a Featured Snippet?
  • Benefits of a Featured Snippet in 2020?
  • How do I get a Featured Snippet?
  • How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

What is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a Google search engine result that appears when Google deems a snippet of information to be helpful in response to a certain search query. Often referred to as ‘position 0’, A featured snippet provides the user with information at the top of the organic results, without the need to visit a website to satisfy their query. This information is pulled from web search listings and can appear in three different formats: Paragraph, List and Table snippets. SEJ (2017) reported that paragraph snippets are by far the most common type of snippet, with 81% of featured snippets pulling through as a paragraph snippet. See an example of a paragraph snippet below:

Benefits of a Featured Snippet in 2020?

The measurable benefits of a featured snippet have somewhat changed in recent months since Google’s update. Before January, it was possible for a website to rank organically in position #1, whilst additionally holding ownership of a featured snippet in position #0. This was, in some sense, the crème de la crème of organic search optimisation, as a single domain could dominate the SERPs for a given search term.

In January, Danny Sullivan announced that there will no longer be duplication of search results. If a web page listing appears as a featured snippet, then its organic position is relocated off the first page.

If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily. Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.

— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2020

As you may expect, this came as a huge surprise and was met with an extremely mixed response in the SEO industry. Although there is a variety of reported statistics on the benefits of a featured snippet, it’s generally accepted that having a featured snippet is beneficial for capturing search traffic. However, an alternative argument is that Google is transitioning to keeping people on the SERPs for longer. They can use snippets to answer voice searches on smart devices, as well as answer queries to questions without the user ever visiting the web page that’s providing the answer. Some may say that this relationship works in harmony, Google uses your snippet and you appear at the top of the SERPs. You both benefit, correct?

For many in the SEO industry, there is a fear that by having no organic presence on the first page, outside of the featured snippet, it would negate all of the hard work put in to achieve an organic #1 – such as years of link acquisition practices. Google’s take on the matter is that you would have an organic presence – it’s the featured snippet!

Irrelevant of the disagreements, it appears as though Google are steadfast in their transition so it’s now a waiting game to see how organic click-through may change over time. Many are now looking to opt-out of allowing their data to pull through as a featured snippet to favour the strategy of ranking organically as a standard web listing. We’ve detailed how to opt-out in our section below: How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

How Do I Get A Featured Snippet?

The acquisition of a featured snippet can be a difficult process, as there are several factors that likely go into securing a snippet. However, we’ve outlined a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way:

  • One of the key factors is your current organic ranking. Although there is a range of different speculated assumptions as to where you need to be positioned, it’s fair to say you need to be on the first page of search results – #1-10 – in order to pull through as a featured snippet.

  • Follow the best practice of the current snippet owner! If the snippet is a list snippet, ensure that the content that you’re trying to rank is in a list format and is eligible to be pulled through as a list with the relevant tag in place (<li>).

  • Answer the question. Google is constantly tweaking the SERPs to match results for relevance. We’ve had circumstances whereby a very small tweak in content has secured us the snippet. An interesting report from Moz (2019) suggested that if the snippet is constantly changing, then Google may be testing several links to find the most relevant answer to a search query.

Acquiring a featured snippet can take time. As there are so many factors that will go into which result works for the snippet, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to allocate resource. One way this can be managed is by focusing time on long-tail search terms with a healthy search volume. From there, analyse the current snippet owner (if there is one!) and see whether you think it answers the query well.

Additionally, the snippet owners domain rating and link profile will also factor into the equation. We’ve found that competing with domains such as Wikipedia can be an extremely difficult process and poor allocation of your time. Instead, focus on snippets where you genuinely believe that your content is better suited. Focused on answering the question and matching the users intent, whilst playing the format game that Google is using as a part of their relevance matching process.

How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

As mentioned above, some in the SEO industry are choosing to remove the ability for their content to be pulled through as a featured snippet. This is easily done by using a ‘data-nosnippet’ tag. For example:

<p> This content can be pulled through to the SERPs

<span data-nosnippet> Whereas this content cannot. </span></p>

Why Are Links Important For SEO

Why are links important for SEO, and how can I get them?

If you’re in the digital marketing world, you’ve undoubtedly heard that getting backlinks from other websites is crucial for SEO. It’s important to utilise anything that can help to boost your website’s search ranking, so we’ll shed some light on why links are so important and teach you how to build them yourself.

Why are links important for SEO?

Building backlinks to your website (getting other websites to link back to yours) sends out a trust signal to Google that your website has good authority, and therefore should be ranked higher. However, this depends on the type and quality of the website that posts the link. Essentially, if a quality website which Google trusts links back to your site, Google determines that you too are a quality website, so should be ranked higher. You can work out the quality of a website by checking its domain rating on websites such as Ahrefs or Moz: the higher score the better.

However, Google can also penalise for backlinks which it sees as unnatural. For example, spamming forums, creating tonnes of directory listings, paying bloggers on fiver to link to your website are unnatural ways to build links, which in turn will lower your position on Google. It is far better for SEO to secure a few strong links a month than to build hundreds of low-quality backlinks in a short space of time.

Hence, you should always ensure that links have a natural connection to your business, which you can achieve with the following techniques.

Brand reclamation


It’s always great exposure when a publisher features your brand in their article, though sometimes they will mention a brand without linking back to the brand’s website. Whilst this can be frustrating, it’s easy to maximise this opportunity and secure a link from a high-quality website. Most of the hard work has already been done because a journalist has already noticed and written about your brand. Simply drop them an email thanking them for featuring your business and request a link to your website be added to the page in case their readers want to find out more.

Tracking brand mentions online is very easy to set up so that you don’t miss these opportunities. There are several web-monitoring tools that help you do this, such as Google Alerts (free), Ahrefs alerts and Gorkana. Some publications may have editorial policies not to include external links, but it’s always best to email and check.

Media tools


Now that GDPR is in place, media databases with opted-in contact details of journalists are more important than ever for sourcing good quality PR opportunities and contacts. There are a variety of tools you can pay for, as well as free databases that scrape public email addresses from across the web.

One relatively cost-effective way to find feature opportunities is through journalist alerts. These are email alerts that journalists send out to source contacts or information for the features that they are writing. You can then respond to queries that are relevant to your brand, offering information, images, product reviews or quotes. Not only do these tools allow you to effectively build links in a natural way, but they also allow you to develop relationships with key journalists in your market without the need of a pricey media database. Building your own database of journalists that you have successfully worked with makes it easier to work with them again in the future, as you can either contact them with valuable content or they may contact you with relevant upcoming features to you.

Local links


Big-budget content campaigns can bring in a lot of high quality links, but exploring your local link opportunities can also be a good cost-effective way to build links on a smaller scale. Investigate whether you have any current connections that you could source a link from. Is your Managing Director an alumni of a prestigious university? If so, perhaps they could make a donation or share their business expertise on their website. Is there a local charity you could work with? Or a local group linked to your industry? Explore current connections that your staff and management have to see if there are any natural links that could be secured by sending an email.

Competitor analysis


If a key competitor outranks you for several of your keywords, performing an analysis of where their links are coming from is a great way to see what kind of outreach work they are undertaking. Tools such as Ahrefs enable you to identify which publications your competitors are receiving links from, as well as spark ideas for potential outreach content.

Are there any high quality review websites that your competitor has a link on? If they do and your brand doesn’t, then this can be an area to explore. Do they have any links from high quality bloggers? Again, if they do then you can contact the blogger who wrote the article to introduce your brand and highlight what you can offer them, should they be planning any articles which you could contribute to.

When to start marketing for Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day search data: key trends for your marketing campaigns

Valentines Day is fast approaching, and for many businesses is a crucial time to get your products or services noticed by potential customers. Whether you’re offering a romantic dinner location, a flower delivery service, or even hosting a singles event, the high amount of interest in February needs to be utilised.

Needless to say its important to plan your digital marketing strategy in advance – but when is the best time to push your campaigns? To get an idea of what people are looking for and when it’s most popular, we’ve used Google Trends to examine keyword data from February 2018 to look for trends in Google searches in the UK. Using this historical data, you can get into the mind of the consumer, and try to get your business in front of them at a time when they’re willing to spend.

Searches for Valentines dates

So when do people start to plan and book their Valentines dates? Most typically, these plans will fall into the food and drink sectors, so we’ve delved into keyword data related to restaurants and bars to see when people are starting to research.

The most interest in restaurants for Valentines Day was actually on February 14th – so prepare your marketing efforts for last-minute bookers

To look into search trends from last year related to restaurants, we compared terms such as ‘valentines day meals’, ‘romantic restaurant’ and ‘romantic meal’ which can be seen on the graph below (or in a more detailed look here). Granted, some people may be looking for romantic destinations regardless of Valentines Day, but all of the terms show similar patterns nonetheless. It seems there’s a steady amount of interest from the end of January until around 7th February when there’s a notable spike in interest. Funnily enough, the results show that the most interest in restaurants for Valentines Day was actually on February 14th – so it’s worth giving marketing efforts a real push on Valentines Day itself judging by the amount of last minute bookers!

Similarly, those opting for Valentines Day drinks share a similar search pattern. We compared terms such as ‘romantic bar’, ‘bar on valentines day’ and ‘valentines day drinks’ (see more here), and notably the first term with ‘valentines’ in the phrase had a significant increase on February 1st. There is also a considerable amount of interest on February 13th with much fewer people Googling the terms on Valentines Day itself.

Judging from this data, it would seem that for dates and activities marketing efforts should begin in early February, and bearing in mind that there is a rise in interest around the 7th and then again around the 13th / 14th of February.

Searches for Valentines gifts

Flowers? Chocolates? Or just some inspiration for something less cliché? If you’re looking to promote gifts for Valentines Day, its important to bear in mind the generic terms people will be searching for, and when they’re looking to buy.

It seems lots of people are looking to be inspired which is the perfect opportunity for sales. We examined popular keywords including ‘valentines day gifts’, ‘valentines day gifts for him’ and ‘valentines day gifts for her’ (see all terms here), which again indicated that it’s worth considering starting promoting your products from around January 29th. Again there is a spike in interest around 6th/7th, and a peak at around 12th February which is worth noting.

Obviously, those choosing to buy flowers for their partners won’t be looking to make their purchase until just before Valentines Day itself to avoid them dying, but it’s worth thinking about how much people pre-plan their retailer of choice. As expected, when looking at a range of flower related (including ‘florist near me’, ‘flower delivery’ and ‘valentines flowers’ – all visable here) interest only really picks up momentum around 12th February and is at its highest search volume on Valentines Day itself! The term ‘flower delivery’ has the most hits on February 13th, so next day delivery promotions may be worth taking into consideration.

By comparing the searches ‘valentines gift for boyfriend‘ and ‘valentines gift for girlfriend‘, you can see an interesting difference between the searches. The top dates for those searching for gifts for their boyfriend were January 31st, February 5th, and February 12th, whereas when searching for gifts for their girlfriends, this was most common on 8th February. Its worth noting that people shopping from boyfriends seem to be interested from an earlier time but are also much more last minute, so it may be worth running a longer marketing stretch if you’re promoting gifts for females compared to gifts for males.

And those who are single?

The market of singletons on Valentines Day is not worth forgetting about! After investigating a range of topics that singles may be searching for around Valentines Day – from spa days, to dating apps, to gym memberships, to singles events – but found that the trends were generally inconclusive.

One thing we did notice was the interest in ‘galentines gifts’ (see more here), which has a high search volume between the 8th and 13th of February, and could certainly be capitalised on. They may not be useful for your marketing campaign, but we did see an amusing spike in people searching for ‘Bridget Jones’ on Valentines Day (graph here) and ‘cat adoption’ shortly after Valentines Day on February 16th (graph here).

Google Update Septemebr 2018

Google birthday update: has your site been affected?

Google has confirmed that a small algorithm update occurred on the 27th September to coincide with Google’s birthday. It has been described as being smaller than the update that took place in August, as experts report that it has not impacted as many websites as the August update.

It is important to be aware of and monitor Google Algorithm updates because they can lead to significant changes in traffic levels.

How do I check if my site has been affected?

Tracking tools such as SEM Rush help to identify if traffic levels have seen a positive or negative change. If no change is identified, then It is also possible that this recent update hasn’t had any impact on your website – which can only be seen as a positive.

As always, there are varying opinions on the impact of the update. Several industry experts are questioning whether this update has been a reversal of the “Medic” algorithm update that occurred in August, as some websites have experienced positive impacts.