SEO is dead – LONG LIVE SEO!

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When I first entered the digital marketing arena almost a decade ago, SEO was the buzzword of the time.

It was a relatively simple concept to grasp and quite simple [yet labour intensive] tactic to deploy. Best of all, there was no need to invest in monthly digital advertising!

Businesses could create a website in a day and use what are known as ‘blackhat’ marketers to dominate the front page of Google’s search results to generate customers on autopilot.

The tactic these blackhat marketers used was rather simple – build as many links as you could back to the website you were trying to rank.

At the time Google’s algorithm treated these backlinks as votes and the more votes you had, the more credible you were and Google would reward you with higher rankings in its results.

I’ve known several people who have turned over millions of pounds and dollars simply playing the blackhat SEO game.

Several fraudsters selling magic potions and pills [you can imagine the sorts] had used Google’s platform to con hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people into buying unregulated crap.

Come 2011, when Google thought enough is enough, it’s time to de-list all of these low-quality websites, it introduced the Panda update.

Thousands of online businesses that had been cash cows for years, suffered a collapse in revenue, literally over-night.

The good ol’ days of gaming Google for a quick buck was over.

Google wanted to improve the user experience it was providing its search engine users, which meant that it had to fix its algorithm to display the most relevant results on its first page.

This was a time when Facebook, which was by now the largest social media website in the world, was looking into entering the search engine market.

Over the next few years, Google has tweaked its algorithm even further with the Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon updates.

The ‘Masters’ of SEO decried that SEO was dead! We had to either start investing in good quality content or venture into paid advertising.

Search engine spamming was surely dead, but could business owners on a tight budget, still use SEO to drive a steady stream of visitors to their websites?

The resounding answer is YES!

However, there is a caveat and that is the process is now a lot slower and SEO is a longer game.

Rarely will you find that you’ve published a new page on your website and it gets ranked into Google’s database over night.

Instead of counting how many backlinks your website has pointing to it, it is measuring the quality of the links.

It is better that you have 10 links from credible websites, than 1,000 links from one-page blogs.

So how can you win the SEO game? Simply invest your time in creating a better user experience for your target audience.

This means fixing up issues on your website, such as the loading time, navigation, page titles – the so-called ‘on page’ elements.

You also need to invest some time in creating quality content both on your website and off your website i.e. on other blogging platforms, videos, etc.

Here’s a couple of things that you should incorporate in your SEO strategy for 2017:

  • Identify websites where you can publish a guest blog
  • Create a content plan for producing more videos for
    publishing on YouTube
  • Get more social – create fan pages on all relevant sites        and link back to the mothership [your website]
  • Contribute to industry/market specific podcasts
  • Put out press releases for any major announcements

All of these tactics will help you to gain good quality backlinks to your website.

The name of the SEO game is still building backlinks, but focus on the quality over the quantity.

On that note – SEO is dead! Long Live SEO!

 

Medium Cross Post – The Only Way Is Digital

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Originally posted on Medium by Abul Hussain:

Having worked with various sized businesses over the last eight years, the greatest opportunity for growth has always been presented on the digital front.

Whilst many baby boomer business owners are struggling to understand the new digital economy, those who are saavy enough to embrace it have been able to thrive.

The dot com bust of the early 2000s may have shaken the belief of some that selling goods and services online was just a temporary fad. However, the evolution of the global digital marketplace should be enough to counter the phobia of the digi-skeptics.

Through websites such as eBay, people are able to sell to the rest of the world, often from the comfort of their own homes.

If you offer a poor service, a negative review on Facebook can be seen by thousands of potential customers in a matter of minutes.

Do I have your attention?

Some of the most valuable companies in the world, such as Google, Amazon and Uber are all possible due to the growth of digital technology and media.

With the growth in digital marketing agencies and the push by the government to create the UK’s own Silicon Valley in the heart of London, small business owners can no longer ignore the elephant in the room:

The best way to grow a business is digital.

So what can businesses do to to surf the digital wave? Well as a first step they can get social.

Build out your social channels in line with who your target audience is. If you’re selling to C Level executives, you probably don’t want to be chasing them on Facebook. A better place would be LinkedIn.

Once you’ve identified your most relevant social channels, build out your social pages and start engaging with the people. Remember, at the top of the buying cycle is the initial conversation.

After getting comfortable with the realm of Social Media, you may wish to explore other paid digital media, such as Google and Bing.

Keep an eye out for future articles on how you can make digital marketing work for you.

Abul Hussain: Responding to allegations of Anti-Semitism

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In September 2010, an allegation was made against me that I had posted anti-Semitic comments on the social networking website, Facebook.

At the time of this incident, I was a member of Respect’s National Council and was the General Secretary of the Tower Hamlets branch.

As a result of this allegation, which was initially made by a blogger, I was expelled from the Respect Party.

The expulsion occurred after a phone call between the party’s top brass [Chair, Secretary and Treasurer], and was within hours of the blog piece being published.

Sadly, the charges were never put to me for comment, before this ad-hoc disciplinary committee decided to expel me.

Essentially, I was tried by the ‘media’ and executed by the party that I had loyally served for two years, without being asked to say anything in my defence.

After the party decided to expel me via a press release [that is how I found out!], a handful of mainstream media outlets decided to pick up on the story.

The chain of events was totally bizarre and incredulous.

Usually in such circumstances, a credible political party would suspend a member pending a full investigation.

Up until now, I have been advised not to publicly respond to any of these allegations.

However, the original allegations and their recent repetition four years on, have warranted a formal and public response from myself.

Firstly, the comments that have been attributed to myself, were not made by me.

I accept that the Facebook account used was mine and the childish comments that were posted around 3am, were the result of a phenomenon that is colloquially known as a frape.

A friend had gained access to my autosaved login credentials – through me using their device to check my Facebook some hours earlier – and decided to post some silly ‘statuses’ on Facebook.

Their motivation for such actions was simply boredom. Do bear in mind that I was 22 around that time and my friend was younger than me.

On one of the statuses, the word Jew was used multiple times to describe my supposed selfish and money-hungry behaviour.

Growing up in the Eastend of London, the word ‘Jew’ was and still is very loosely used by many working class communities in a derogatory manner.

I fully accept that the use of such words were and are crude and stupid.

However, the intent behind their use by my friend [pretending to be me] was not anti-Semitic, nor designed to incite any hatred or violence towards the Jewish community.

Naturally, I appealed against my expulsion from the Respect Party and was readmitted and reinstated to my roles, a few months later – I have the documents for anybody who wishes to review them.

Now, the real question is this… why was I targeted?

The answer to that is simple. I was active in local politics and had stood in the council elections in May 2010.

I was also one of the community organisers working to elect the independent mayoral candidate, Lutfur Rahman, who had falsely and viciously been smeared as a sympathiser of Islamic extremists.

By targeting and character assassinating myself, certain members of the right-wing press wanted to further tarnish the reputation of Mr Rahman.

There is a strong contingent in the mainstream media that does not like articulate British Muslims engaging in public life and is hellbent on destroying them.

I believe I have been a victim of such gutter journalism, which seeks to divide communities and incite anti-Muslim sentiment.

I have spent countless hours working on interfaith initiatives that aim to foster unity amongst different faith groups, including working with the Jewish community. I also have many friends who are ethnically Jewish.

Having been a victim of racism in my childhood, I abhor and condemn all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

I hope this statement will finally lay to bed these allegations, which have significantly tarnished my reputation amongst my peers.

 

All Is Fair in Love, War & Marketing!

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For decades we have seen a kind of Omerta followed by the advertising departments of large corporations.

They never directly & openly targeted their rivals in advertising campaigns.

It was a breach of an unspoken protocol for a company to openly fire shots at its rivals.

When Sir Richard Branson smashed a Coca Cola billboard on Fifth Avenue in 1998, it sent shock waves across the marketing world.

This PR stunt was initiated for the launch of Virgin Cola in the United States. Branson knew it was going to be an uphill, David vs Goliath battle, to take on Coca Cola.

So he couldn’t just run a national ad showing happy Americans drinking his brand of cola and expect sales to come pouring in.

Unfortunately, the drink never really took off in the States… or anywhere else for that matter!

Branson’s stunt was an audacious affront to an established household name, by someone who was regarded as a maverick entrepreneur.

In the digital age, things are changing.

What was great PR 10 years ago, will be regarded as a cheap gimmick now.

PR stunts are not enough to engage with a technologically advanced audience.

Attention spans are decreasing, as more and more marketing messages are thrown at people every day.

To really ingrain a message to their audience, brands have had to become more aggressive.

Mass marketing is being replaced by “precise interest” marketing.

The Omerta has been torn up and multi-billion dollar companies are now “wrestling” each other to attract new customers.

So here are two ads that I’ve come across in the last two weeks, where one brands misfortune has been cherished by their competitors.

Round 1: Paypal vs Apple

For over a decade, Paypal has been the global leader in online payments processing.

Surely, an established brand shouldn’t feel threatened by a new comer, especially when the competing service isn’t fully trading?

Well when the new comer is Apple, nothing can be taken for granted.

Apple has over many years built an ecosystem of “i” products, which are used by millions of fanatical users all over the world.

Although it’s still speculation, Apple Pay can have a severe impact on Paypal’s position as the world’s favorite payment processor.

Therefore, it is understandable when Paypal took out a full page ad against Apple two weeks ago.

Some of you maybe aware that there was recently a hack into Apple’s iCloud service, where nude pictures were stolen from celebrity’s accounts.

The following day Paypal put this ad in all major US publications:

 

paypal-ad (2)

Round 2: Samsung vs Apple

Apple and Samsung have been battling it out in US Patent Courts for many years over patent infringement issues. Their relationship is almost as acrimonious as that of Coca Cola and Pepsi.

For those of you who have kept up with the new iPhone 6 launch. You will be aware that many users have reported that the iPhone 6 Plus seems to bend, when it’s confined in tight pockets.

You may have seen images like this one floating around social networks:

Users are raging against the Apple machine with the hashtag #bendgate

Samsung was not going to let this opportunity pass!

Here’s what Samsung’s marketing team have launched today:

So what lessons can Small Businesses take away from this post?

Well there’s quite a few:

  • Get SocialYour users are more social than you can imagine. You are being discussed with their connections across various Social Networks.

    For you to really benefit from their feedback, you need to be aware of it. Find yourself on Facebook and other Web 2.0 pages, and start taking charge of negative feedback.

    Better still, create and own the Web 2.0 pages where your users can come and leave feedback.

  • Plan to DominateYour audience is being harassed by smart marketers every day. You need to get more aggressive in how you reach your market.

    Do SEO, do PPC, do Social PPC, do Remarketing – do whatever it takes to get in front of your market, more often than your competitors are.

    As the sales guru Grant Cardone would say: “Don’t Compete – DOMINATE!”

  • Have No Fear!So your competitors suck? Great, let their customers know!

    However, you need to be an iron fist in a velvet glove. Your audience should not perceive your negative marketing as an unjust attack on your competitor. Nor should they perceive it as an act of desperation.

    So be witty in your material and laugh all the way to the bank…at their expense! 😉

Add your thoughts below.