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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
6-Reasons-Why-Your-Website-Needs-A-Blog

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 hello@cedarwood.digital

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.

Did you know: Cedarwood Digital offers Search Engine Optimisation designed to make your website convert. View our full list of SEO services here.

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.

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.

 

Looking for more tips on outreach and link building? Check out these easy-to-action tips we picked up at Brighton SEO in how to secure links for your website.

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).

READ NEXT: How to target customers with google ads audience targeting

5 simple lead generation ideas

5 simple lead generation ideas

At Cedarwood Digital, we tend to generate most leads for our clients through Google Ads and custom lead capture landing pages. However, there are many other simple ways that we have utilised to successfully generate leads: here are our top 5 recommendations.

Create engaging content

Relevant and engaging content in this digital age remains the best way to get someone’s attention and bring them to your website. What makes content engaging, you may ask? Check out tools like buzzsumo.com or ahrefs.com which show the most shared pieces of content in your field that have gone viral, and get some inspiration from there. 

The golden rule for any piece of content, according to entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, is to give value to the reader. Forget about trying to sell your stuff. Put out great content and expect nothing in return. By providing valuable content you establish readers trust in your expertise. This lays a foundation that can lead to a conversation about your product or services.

Don’t hesitate to give a lot of value: research shows that posts with 2,400 words get shared the most.

Also, don’t forget to add share buttons, like these…

Create “how to” videos

Youtube is the fastest growing online platform by engagement rate, and online video viewership surpassed TV viewership in 2017. More and more people are looking for the right videos to solve their problems. Search queries containing “how to” are growing 33% annually. This creates an ample opportunity to create video content, ranging from how to create pivot tables in Excel, to how to paint your ceiling.

You should really think about what expertise you have that could solve a problem for your customers. Again, this is giving unconditional value to build your credibility. As a result of watching your video, a prospect could visit your site and get in touch with you.

Use customer reviews

If you are providing an online platform, no matter how big or small, make sure that you sign up to online review platforms like TrustRadius.com or G2Crowd.com. These reviews will massively boost the visibility and authority of your products and services. Review sites such as these usually have a high rank for many software comparison searches. Backlinks from these sites are also very valuable in terms of SEO.

References and referrals are one of the key aspects that influence buying decisions between two similar products. If you ask your happiest clients to contribute to these platforms it will go a long way in terms of building credibility, and prominence of reviews on these platforms has the potential to bring you inbound leads.

Add a quiz or estimate calculator to your website

If you get users to your website, it would then be of value to have an interactive tool available. There you could ask them a few questions and dependent on the subject area, provide them with an answer which will be of interest or value to them. For example, on our website, we have an Ad Spend ROI calculator. Users will enter their industry and monthly ad budget to get an estimate of a number of leads generated. This is a great way to capture prospect emails and generate engagement, literally.

Another example is the lead capture form on Airsorted, a service for Airbnb hosts. On their website, users need to enter their postcode and number of bedrooms to get an estimate of much money their property could earn on Airbnb, whilst providing useful information for the business. 

 

Host a webinar

Finally, online webinars are a quick and easy way to communicate with prospects, customers and employees Pick a topic that is relevant to your industry and find the best expert within your company or among your clients. Set a specific date and time, and create an event landing page with a simple lead capture form.

Promote the webinar everywhere you can – Linkedin Ads are great for this, because you can place them in front of the most relevant audiences. As you get signups, remember to send reminders both before and after the event. Furthermore, it gives your sales team an reason to get in touch with those prospects and engage in conversation.

Find more lead generation advice over on our blog.

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.

 

Did you know: Cedarwood Digital offers Search Engine Optimisation designed to make your website convert. View our full list of SEO services here