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Last Thursday, members of our agency ‘tech team’ headed down to London for the Digital Elite Day Conference. The Digital Elite Day is an advanced learning conference with two tracks, one for Analytics and CRO experts and one for Search, – if you haven’t been before it’s well worth attending!  I spent the day in the search track. Speakers on the day included Aleyda Solis, Barry Adams, Kevin Gibbons, Izzi Smith, Nils Kattau, Francois Goube and many more!

There was more than enough information to take in during the day, so below I have listed a few of my top takeaways from the day.

  1. PWA’s are the future

One of the most interesting talks of the day for me was by Aleyda Solis – PWA’s SEO: Optimising For The Future Of The Web. Having not really paid much attention to the world of apps over the last year or two, her reasonings behind implementing a PWA was very eye-opening for me. PWA’s definitely look like the future of the web, especially for mobiles. PWA’s are now supported by all major browsers and can also run on desktop. They give you quicker load speed, much better usability and also allows users to add your website to their phone home screen like they would for an app.

You can see the slides from Aleyda’s talk here: https://www.slideshare.net/aleydasolis/pwa-seo-optimizing-for-the-future-of-the-web

  1. Facebook is a great place for link building

Another interesting talk from the day was from Stacey MacNaught which touched on ‘Futureproof-ish Link Building’. One of the key takeaways from this session was about a strategy she had used to gain links. This strategy included creating a really helpful piece of content and publishing it to Facebook. Not so mind-blowing, but then she spoke about how journalists will sit on social media waiting for something that looks like it is about to go viral (so something with a couple thousand shares). To help make her content viral, she simply boosted the post on Facebook with just a £5 budget, the end result was a ‘viral’ content piece which in turn attracted numerous links from journalists.

  1. Merging CRO + SEO + UX

Izzi Smith & Nils Kattau presented a great talk on merging CRO, SEO and UX to create beautiful onsite experiences for your users. Their talk went through numerous ways you can merge tactics to maximise your traffic and ultimately, conversions. Advice included utilising easy to source content (USP’s and services, solving FAQ’s, user generated content, product specifications and more). They also explained about what data Google can easily measure and use on a large scale to factor ranking positions, including time on site, back-to-SERP bounces, other result clicks and query refinements. Also, check out their t-shirts!

As you can imagine, there was plenty of actionable insights from the day, so overall it was a great day out and we’ve got many new ideas to to bring back to Anicca and implement on our SEO campaigns. If you are looking for a new agency to manage your SEO, PPC, Social Media or Site Launch then do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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Is the pen mightier than the sword? Then now’s the time to prove it by applying for our Content Marketing Manager vacancy at Anicca Digital.

If storytelling is your bag and you can turn a few words into a ballad of our age then this is the position for you. Join our merry band of Content Warriors at our forces HQ in Leicester city centre.

You will need to be proficient in all things SEO, with a working knowledge of preparing content for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and be super creative to boot. Experience with video projects and email content would also be advantageous.

The ability to write to specific Tone of Voice and Brand Guidelines is a must. Experience of working with PR and Influencer Marketing would also be desirable.

You will be working on national brand clients from a wide range of sectors, with a slant towards B2B clients. So sector experience in the following would be great;

  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Services
  • Transport & Logistics
  • Healthcare

For the full job description, download the document here.

In the first instance,  send your CV and covering letter to angie@anicca.co.uk.

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Forget using separate approaches for SEO and PR. For a successful campaign that delivers maximum coverage with added SEO benefits, you need an integrated approach from the start.

PR coverage is essential for building brand awareness, but it can also support the type of quality link building that is essential to SEO, while bringing additional traffic to your site.

Google likes websites that publish new content regularly, but recent research from Backlinko* discovered that 93% of B2B content receives zero external links, while only 3% receives links from multiple websites. Overall, only 6% of the content in its research sample of 912 million blog posts sample had at least one external link.

An integrated SEO and PR strategy can increase the number of links to your content, giving you maximum return from your marketing budget.

Links are useful for driving traffic to your website, but quality links are also one of the most important Google ranking factors.

Websites with a large number of high-quality links are viewed by Google as more relevant, more authoritative and more important, and as a result have a higher domain authority – the search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages.

Media outlets generally have well-established websites with a good domain authority, regularly updated content, steady traffic and a high number of quality backlinks, making them a prime target for B2B link building.

However, as many media outlets have streamlined their linking policies, you’ll need to work harder for those all-important links.

B2C campaigns usually stand a better chance of building links, particularly when they’re product focused, giving a natural reason for the journalist to include a link back to the product.

When dealing with B2B campaigns, the art of link building becomes much more difficult, unless you create a need for the coverage to link back to your website.

Here are our key pointers for creating a link-worthy content and PR campaign.

Know your audience

Research the audience and the media they consume. This will inform the ideas and stories that are likely appeal to the right journalists and get your brand into your target media outlets.

Check out our post on building a media list for help on getting started.

Not all links are equal. Ditch the ‘post and pray’ method of distribution to a wide variety of outlets for a slimmed down media list. You want outlets that are relevant to your topic, specifically ones that will drive traffic to your website.

Look at the sites you want to target and consider how your story would fit. Has the journalist covered this topic previously? Research previous news articles and features they have worked on, this will come in handy for your pitch later.

Generate ideas

Link-worthy campaigns start with great ideas that bridge content and PR.

Ideas that generate good PR coverage won’t necessarily earn you links. For example, sales success/growth stories or new appointments may earn you some nice coverage in local and trade media, but they’re unlikely to feature a link back to your website.

Remember: we need to create a reason for the link to exist.

Knowing your audience and target media outlets will help you develop ideas that are fresh and absent from recent coverage. Research competitor campaigns aimed at a similar audience, so you can see what has worked previously and to ensure you don’t replicate what has been done previously.

If you need some inspiration have a look at Buzzsumo’s B2B Content Analysis** of over 50,000 articles, which looks at the best performing types of content for links and shares.

Create an anchor

Use your idea to create a strong content anchor for your website. This should be an in-depth piece of content that provides unique insight or original data, requiring the need for a journalist to link to the source of the information, which can be a landing page or a blog post.

Surveys

Conducting a survey will enable you to create original statistics around your chosen topic. It could ask about skills shortages within your industry, investments in people or equipment or concerns about the industry’s future. Make sure your questions will uncover new information or a new angle not previously covered. A survey can be conducted using a Survey Monkey poll sent out to your own email database or by using a specialist service like Pollfish, which enables you to access specific audience demographics.

Research

Do you have industry data, insight or knowledge that enables you to produce a whitepaper? Presenting an industry problem with suggested solutions makes useful content that can be outreached to journalists to provoke discussion within your sector. Approach industry specific media about an opinion piece, linking back to the full source.

Guides

Advice from thought leaders and industry experts can be compiled into a step by step guide. This in-depth advice could be legal advice for start-ups, applying for loans or grants, or creating a productive workspace. Approaching additional sources within the industry for original comments and advice can help earn additional links, as businesses and thought leaders are likely to link to your content from their own sites.

Infographics

Present useful statistics in an attractive and easily readable format. These could be findings from a survey or piece of research. This encourages links back to the source of the information, but also enables the information to be easily shared on other websites, earning a link to your site to credit the source.

Look for an angle

Use key pieces of your content to create your press release. Has your survey generated some surprising results? Does your whitepaper offer insights into the future of your industry? Or does your guide reveal some unknown secret to success?

Look for the new or unusual to highlight in your story, but don’t use all the information you’ve collected. Choose key snippets and use your press release to encourage links back to the full story, whether that’s results of your survey, a whitepaper or your in-depth guide.

For more tips on writing a press release, take a look at our helpful blog post.

  

Build those links

Issue your press release to your media list, but instead of sending a generic email to a media list of hundreds, keep it personal. You want to build relationships with journalists. The aim is for them to see you as a valuable source of information, so that you can work together on stories in the future.

Use your initial email to outline the key points of the story, whether that is a surprising statistic you discovered about the industry or how your research fits with the topics they cover. This is where your research on stories the journalist has covered previously will come in useful, as you can reference these articles to demonstrate how your story will fit on their website. If they ask for additional information or comments, be sure to meet their deadlines to maximise the chances of your story getting published and to instil trust.

Be aware that you won’t get a link from every piece of coverage you achieve, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking. If a website publishes your story but doesn’t include a link, ask if one can be added.

When you do achieve coverage, whether it contains a link or not, be sure to thank the journalist and share on social to encourage further traffic.

* Backlinko 912 Million Blog Posts Content Marketing Study

** Buzzsumo Best B2B Content

For help with building an integrated SEO and PR campaign, contact the Anicca Digital team.

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With over 22 million live websites built on WordPress[1], it is the most popular CMS available today.  With thousands of themes available for free and to buy, it has never been easier to get set up with your very own website. But with millions of websites currently live, almost all niches are saturated and it’s more important than ever to ensure your website is the one that is found organically. We’ve curated 5 WordPress plugins that we believe are essential to getting your website off to the best start in 2019.

1. Yoast

Yoast needs no introduction to most, it is essential for ensuring your on-page content is properly optimised and within Google guidelines. Yoast will allow you to create unique Page Titles and Meta Descriptions as well as view readability scores and assign canonical tags to your pages. You can also assign a keyphrase to a page and check how well that keyphrase is optimised on your page.

Check out Yoast here: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

2. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is a caching plugin which allows you to serve static HTML files to users rather than your website having to process the larger WordPress PHP scripts. What this means is that your web page will load much quicker than it usually would, giving you a quicker load time and allowing users to engage with content quicker, it also means you’ll be getting a better speed score from Google, something we know can affect how you perform in the SERPs.

See more about WP Super Cache here: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/

3. Broken Link Checker

Broken Link Checker is exactly that. A plugin which will check your pages, posts and pretty much everything else to scan for broken links. Having broken links on your website is not just bad for Google but also for user experience. It happens to all of us at some point and is incredibly frustrating, usually enough for a user to click off your website right? Once the checker has followed all the links you can either edit the URL or remove the link completely.

Install the Broken Link Checker here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/ 

4. Smush Image Compressor

Smush Image Compressor is another great plugin to be using on your website, especially if your website is image heavy. Smush will automatically optimise images on upload to WordPress, ensuring your images have as small a file size as possible. Large image sizes are one of the most common problems we come across on websites and are one of the main contributors to slow loading pages so it’s essential to ensure you’re optimising images and compressing them.

Find out more about Smush here: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/

5. Autoptimize

Autoptimize is a tool which will optimise your websites coding. It concatenates all scripts and styles and will also minify and cache scripts This helps to reduce your websites HTML size and like Super Cache it helps load the page faster, making the site better for users and also giving you better scores in the all important page speed testing tool.

Check out Autoptimize here: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

Conclusion

These plugins will help you get off the ground with your WordPress website’s SEO in 2019. If you need help getting more organic traffic to your website then take a look at our SEO services and get in touch with one of the team today and see how Anicca can help your business grow.

[1] Source: builtwith.com
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Choosing an SEO agency can be a difficult and daunting prospect. With so many agencies out there, how do you know the good from the bad and which one is the right SEO company for you?

SEO is a deeply complex marketing discipline that spans a wide range of skill sets. Finding an agency that has the requisite knowledge, skills, approach and a style of account management that gels with you and your team is critical in ensuring your precious marketing budget is being put to the most effective use.

Find the right partner and you can expect effective SEO campaigns to help drive your business forward and look forward to a long and successful relationship with your agency. Pick the wrong one, and months of frustration and failure may await.

So how do you choose which is the right SEO agency for your business? Use the quicklinks below to jump to the relevant sections

 – Trust Signals
– Experience and Expertise
– Consultation Phase
– Cost and Budget
– Transparency
– Location
– Warning Signs

Trust Signals

It’s hard to imagine engaging any SEO agency without first checking out their website, so it’s probably a good place to start. A key aspect to be on the lookout for is trust signals. Trust signals are those key indicators that not only validate the fact that this is a genuine business but also a genuine business that delivers great results and experiences for their clients. However, be aware that some of these signals can be easy to fake so be cautious in your assessment of them and no one signal should be taken in isolation.

Case Studies or Portfolio of Work

A great SEO agency will be not only proud to show off their work but desperate that you see how proud they are of their work. Sure, no SEO agency is ever going to be keen to show off anything but their greatest successes but a portfolio of work or recent case studies (you can find ours here) are a great indicator of a company that knows how to deliver.

Case studies should include the client’s objectives, the results achieved against these and some indication as to the timeframe it took. Ideally, those case studies should also include or be linked to reviews or testimonials from that client to support them.

Be wary of case studies that do not include the name of the company. Anyone can fabricate a case study so if it’s not attributed to a specific company ask yourself why that is.

Reviews and Testimonials

When choosing an SEO company, there’s no better confidence builder than direct reviews and testimonials from their previous or existing clients. Again, a client that is proud of their work and have great relationships with clients will be keen for you to see this type of information, so they should be displayed prominently on site. (check out our case studies here)

Testimonials should be ideally be attributed to a specific person, at a specific organisation to prove their authenticity. Reviews should be coming in on a regular basis and ideally through a third-party review platform like Trust Pilot or Reviews.co.uk. (take a look at our reviews here)

Check to see whether the reviews and testimonials look authentic and are for a specific channel or the agency as a whole, as some reviews may not be applicable to SEO.

 

Awards

The digital marketing world has an almost endless number of award ceremonies and categories. For some companies, this is their holy grail and you’ll see them entering, nominated and sometimes winning industry awards that will no doubt be proudly displayed in the footer of their website. What you may not understand about the awards industry is that it is a pay to play game.

These awards aren’t just handed out to the best of the best, you must pay to enter, so whilst they are a great indicator of industry recognition, a company that chooses not to engage in these could still be a great agency for you.

If any agency positions themselves as an award winner, ask them about what it is for, so you can understand whether it has any bearing on the work they might be doing for you.

Their Own Content Marketing

Content is a core component of any SEO project, in fact, it’s part of the reason why this piece has been written. So, take the time to explore the content your prospective agencies are creating for themselves. Is the content of high quality? Is it updated regularly? Does it appear for searches related to the topic it’s about? What formats do they use? Would similar types of content be an improvement on the content you are currently producing? These are all considerations to take on board when you’re trying to gauge the quality of their output.

There is an old saying that goes “the cobblers son has no shoes.” And that can be symptomatic of SEO agencies. They are so busy producing great content for clients that their own content marketing drops to the bottom of the priority list.

An agency producing huge volumes of content isn’t automatically better than one who produces one piece a month so try to judge on quality rather than quantity. (You can check out our blog here)

 

Organic Visibility of Their Own Site

If you’re specifically looking for an SEO agency then part of then you’d hope that they could deliver a reasonable level of organic visibility for their own site, Afterall, the proof is in the pudding. However, a site that ranks well doesn’t automatically mean they are a great agency. Correlation very much does not mean causation in this instance. I know of several agencies that compete with our own site that are using somewhat shady tactics to increase their visibility, some of which directly fly in the face of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

So, whilst you would hope that the best agencies would be delivering a level of organic visibility for themselves, there are great agencies out there that simply cannot compete in this vertical. They may be newer agencies, smaller agencies, specialist agencies that only deal with certain aspects of SEO and they could be the perfect partner for your needs.

Instead of just looking for broad phrases to see whether they appear organically, also look how they manage their presence for their own brand searches and whether they take full advantage of all the search page results features available.

Examples of Companies They Work With

This trust signal is probably the weakest one in the list and therefore the one to be taken with the biggest pinch of salt. On digital marketing agency websites, you’ll often see other company logos dotted about. These agencies may well have worked with these companies, although it’s very easy to add a logo and hope no one checks, they give no indication as to the work they did for these companies.

Was it for SEO or was it another channel? Perhaps it was a one-off consultancy piece and you’re really looking for an agency that works with big clients on longer retainer projects. Perhaps the relationship ended terribly, you just can’t tell from a single logo.

When you speak to your shortlist of agencies, specifically ask them about these clients they are associating themselves with to find out what they did and whether they are still working with them.

 

Experience and Expertise

So, you found a couple of agencies you think might work and you’ve been through their site to get a feel for what they do and whether you feel they are trustworthy. The next step is to contact them to begin the process of narrowing down your potential options. This early stage is a great opportunity to start digging a little deeper.

Staff Experience

Whilst it’s easy for an agency to claim to have been around for years or even decades, what really matters is the level of experience of the team that you’re entrusting your SEO too. Don’t be shy to ask about the experience of the team and your potential account manager or team working on your account.

You want to know your account isn’t going to be assigned to a junior member of the team who will be left to learn on the job. Everyone must start somewhere but you want to make sure you have the right people from the agency working on your behalf.

Most agencies will have a ‘Meet the Team’ page or similar. Spend some time browsing these, reading the bios and getting to understand which people you might prefer on your account.

Do They Use Outsourcing?

Whilst you’re talking about their staff and the people potentially working on your account, ask about their policy on outsourcing? At some point or another, I image a lot of agencies have had a need to outsource work due to the volume of work, understaffing or simply tight deadlines bunched together. Outsourcing shouldn’t be considered a dirty word. But what is important is where is that work being outsourced to?

An agency with a small network of highly skilled and highly trust freelancers can still deliver great work and you’ll probably never tell the difference between the outsourced work and the work done in-house. But an agency that uses cheap foreign labour, from people that possibly don’t have English as a first language would be somewhat concerning.

Be confident to ask about whether the agency will potentially use outsourcers and if so, how do they manage this process and ensure standards are maintained.

Sector Experience and Client Size

Take into consideration not only the clients they work with and the size of these businesses but also the sectors prospective agencies have particular experience in. Whilst you may not wish o work with an agency that also works with a direct competitor, there may be some significant benefit to working with an agency that already has expertise and knowledge of your sector.

This may not always be in terms of direct work with a client. There may be members of staff that have a particular interest or passion for what you do and that could offer added value that you may not get with other agencies.

You may also want to consider the size of clients they work with. Do you want to be the biggest fish in their client pond or do you want to be aspirational in your choice and work with an agency that has the experience of much larger clients?

Other Channel Service Offerings

At this juncture, you may just be looking for an SEO company to work with. But potentially down the road, you may want to engage an agency on other aspects of your online marketing. Picking a specialist SEO only agency now, means you’re potentially going to have to repeat this agency review process if you want to bring someone onboard to handle PPC, Social Media or Conversion Rate Optimisation in the future.

An agency that offers multi-channels not only has a broader skillset but is also able to integrate these channels into a cohesive and strategic digital marketing strategy for you in a way that engaging multiple agencies just can’t do. It may also give you a stronger negotiating position on price too.

Don’t just think about the immediate need just for SEO. Think longer term and whether the multi-channel experience of a full-service agency may outweigh the benefits of a single channel SEO specialist agency.

Consultation Phase

Now you’ve had the chance to speak with some prospective agencies, it’s time to meet them face to face. This face to face interaction is critical for you and we’d strongly suggest meeting at their offices rather than your own, as this can give you the opportunity to start to see how they work, how big the teams are and how they work. So, what should you be looking for?

Initial Meetings

Prior to the meeting, find out who it is you’ll be meeting with? Will it be a business development person or with an SEO specialist? An initial meeting may just involve a business development person that has a basic understanding of SEO but if you want to ask more complex questions or dig deeper into the specifics of potentially working together, request a member of their SEO team is available too.

These first meetings can be thought of as ‘chemistry meetings’. It’s about both the agency and you as a client getting a feel for each other and determining what your objectives are, how the can deliver against these objectives and understanding how the two parties would work together. Subsequent meetings though should include someone with a high level of SEO knowledge.

Find out who will be included in these initial meetings and if possible, try and take a meeting at the agencies office so you can get a better feel for how they work

Do They Offer An Audit?

Audits are often the backbone of the business development process of SEO agencies. Most of the time these are free of charge providing you meet the lead qualification requirements (hint, we know when someone just wants some free information and has no intention of giving us work). Audits vary hugely in terms of depth and comprehensiveness so it’s a good opportunity to gauge how hard an agency is willing to work to earn your business.

Audits are often completed between the initial phone conversations or the first meeting and the follow-up meetings so that results can be presented to you in person. These audits help inform the focus of the SEO proposal and project so ask if they produce these.

An audit is the first piece of work the agency is delivering to you, even if it’s free. It’s a chance to gauge the quality of work, knowledge and depth of understanding of your prospective agencies.

Goals and Objectives

Knowing your goals and objectives and understanding how your chosen SEO agency will achieve these is key to making the right decision. An agency should be asking you about these in order to help design a proposal and project that achieves them or working with you to revise them if your budget and expectations don’t match.

If you aren’t certain, ask how they measure the success of their projects for other clients. What KPIs do they use to measure success and do these align with your overall business goals? If possible, ask to see an example or two of monthly reports so you understand how they’ll be reporting progress to you on a regular basis.

You must align your SEO objectives with your overall business objectives. Remember, organic traffic doesn’t pay your bills, so whilst traffic increases are a good indicator of progress, it’s leads and sales that drive your business success.

Ask Questions

You’ve probably already committed a reasonable amount of time on researching and building a shortlist of agencies, initial calls and meetings. Now you’re sat in front of them, use the time wisely and ask as many questions as you can about not only your potential project but wider questions about the way they work and how they deliver on what they promise.

Some good ideas you could include are;

– How do they structure SEO projects? – do they front load time, spread it evenly over the contract and how do they decide what to spend your time on?

– What will time be allocated to which aspects? – an audit should give the agency an idea of where they need to focus their time. Find out what time will be allocated to what elements of the project and why.

– How flexible are they? – how flexible are they with the proposed project and the use of time? You don’t want to be locked into a project where the agency isn’t willing to be flexible to your needs.

– What are their techniques? – ask them how they go about certain tasks they’ve included in the proposal. Satisfy yourself that these are not blackhat techniques that could cause you issues in later years.

– Do they have developers to support technical work? – almost every SEO project I’ve worked on has required some involvement from developers to address site issues. If you don’t have an in-house developer, you want to know if you’re going to need an additional budget or whether web development work is included within your proposal.

– Can you see examples of creative work? – ask for examples of their creative work. These could be written pieces, videos they’ve produced or design work. You want to understand how the content work they produce looks and feels.

– How do they get links?– Links are still incredibly important for SEO so should be a core component of any SEO project. Ask about how they do this and watch out for outdated techniques like directory submissions, social bookmarking, story submission sites or directly buying them.

– What  KPIs do they measure and how do they report on them? – most agencies will reply at least a monthly report as standard. Ask to see an example and look for the KPIs and performance metrics used in these reports and how they relate to the overall objectives.

– What length contracts do they offer? – SEO takes time, so most agencies will want you to commit to a contract of at least six months in order to prove their effectiveness. However, check whether they offer discounts for longer contracts and whether they include performance-based exit clauses so you aren’t tied into a contract if they can’t deliver.

– What will be required from you as a client? – SEO is a collaborative process. The best projects come from the client and agency working in harmony. Ask what the agency will be requiring and expecting from you as a client to ensure you aren’t surprised once you’ve signed an agreement.

Cost and Budget

Cost is perhaps the single largest driver of a lot of decisions when it comes to appointing an SEO agency. You can find out more about how SEO pricing is decided and what you should be paying here. But, paying a lot for SEO is no guarantee that the work will be better. Those London agencies have to pay for their fancy offices somehow and that’s usually why their day rates are higher, not because they always deliver better results.

Budget

Just like your objectives, you want to know your budget too. A good agency will want to know what both your budget and objectives are so that they can ascertain whether the two align and they can deliver what you need with the money you have available. Don’t think that because they ask for a budget, they are just trying to find out how much you’re willing to spend so that they can charge you that exact same amount.

Work with the agency to discover how they would utilise this budget. Most will charge on a day rate basis for retainer contracts but there’s nothing to say someone charging £600 a day is better than someone charging £500 per day. It all comes down to how they use this budget to achieve your objectives.

Negotiate. Most agencies are willing to work with you on day rates especially if you’re willing to sign up to a longer commitment.

Additional Third-Party Spend

On occasion, there may be a need for additional third-party spend but you should be made aware of this from the outset, even if they can’t be concrete on an exact figure. For example, sometimes you can get greater digital PR coverage if you’re also willing to pay for some advertising in publications. That is a cost decision the account manager should make you aware of and discuss with you.

Some SEO agencies don’t have in-house developers, graphic designers or videographers. That means you need to know whether these services are included in your contract. If not, are you aware that you may be asked to provide additional revenue to cover these services if required?

Some agencies likely don’t have the need for a full-time in-house designer or developer so may outsource this work within your budget but be sure to ask before you sign your contract.

Transparency

The SEO world is one that has developed a somewhat shady reputation that good agencies are working hard to change. One way we’re working to achieve this is to be far more open and transparent with everything we’re doing, the techniques we employ the tools we use and the results we generate.

At Anicca, one of our core values is transparency, even sometimes to the point where a client feels like they might be able to take the work in-house as we’ve taught them so much. A good SEO agency will be open and transparent..

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Having undertaken many SEO projects over the last seven years, from small local campaigns to international projects in a variety of niches, we have found that many businesses believe their competitors to one group of companies but when it comes to search, it turns out that it’s a different group of companies entirely.

One of the first things we do in our initial kick-off meetings is to establish a list of competitors from the client so we can find out how they perform against each other. Much of the time we find that businesses aren’t competing with who they think they are when it comes to search. This blog post will take you through a few key points to ensure you know who your competitors are in the SEO world.

Compile a List of Your Business Competitors

The first thing to do is compile a list of your main business competitors, these are the businesses you can think of off the top of your head. If you offer multiple products or services then you might want to split your competitors out by topic. You can also mark your competitors as to whether they are a primary competitor or secondary competitor based on the level of crossover of products or services.

This is the type of list we’ll typically receive at Anicca which we can use as a starting point.

Analyse the List

Once we’ve got this list, as well as an understanding as to the topics we want to target for the client, we can then begin to analyse the clients and see how they perform. For this, we use our SEO tool of choice, SEOmonitor. As you’ll see below, we have collated a list of topics for the services we offer, and for each of those topics, we have separate lists of competitors for each that we have identified.

Now, this is a good starting point, some of the competitors we identified are ranking for the phrases we want to be visible for. But, these five competitors wouldn’t even make a full page in the Google results so it’s clear there are going to be thousands of other websites wanting to be prominently placed on Google for these phrases so now it’s time for us to find some new ones.

This can be done a number of ways including Googling some of the phrases and putting the websites that rank into a list. However, this will take quite a bit of time if you’ve got hundreds of phrases being tracked!

Instead, what we do is use SEOmonitor to identify the domains that are ranking in this topic. Most high-level SEO tracking tools will have a similar function to help you identify competitors in this way.

As you can see, straight away we’ve got a list of websites that rank well for the group phrases we want to rank for. This is a prime example of how your competitors might not actually be the competitors you originally thought. For example, the first suggestion there is Forbes.com, a website that is by no means a competitor to us whatsoever, but their incredibly high domain authority means anything they publish relating to the marketing industry is likely to rank well.

We can also see here that our main competition is not actually businesses or other marketing agencies, but news websites and industry blogs.

Once we have this data we can then use a secondary table to add in the actual competitors along with the competitors we originally had and compare which sites rank well. Usually, we find that most of the list is compiled of websites that SEOmonitor suggests rather than the original list. You can also grab their domain scores too, as this will give you a clear indication of whether they are ranking primarily because of their large domain authority or whether it’s because the content is of a high standard.

So, now you have this data what do you do with it? It’s all well and good knowing who the real competitors are but the real question is, how do we beat them?

Look at the Competitor Websites

First off, we need to look at the competitor websites to see what they are doing, specifically on the pages that rank highly. Are they optimising their website well, using call-to-actions, the pages loading quickly and offering a great user experience?

Is there a similar structure to the content on these pages, such as the use of lists, video, images and use of semantic terms. Is their blog or landing page clearly linked to and visible on the website and linked in the navigation for example?

Crawl Their Website

You can use a free tool such as Screaming Frog (for up to 500 URLs) or a paid tool such as Deepcrawl to crawl these websites. The aim of this is to understand how they structure their page titles, meta descriptions, are they adding ALT tags to images? Try to find patterns across all the websites E.G are all the page titles for sites on page one of Google under 55 characters, contain a specific word, have their brand name at the start or end?

Create a Checklist

Once you’ve analysed the competitor websites, record down the similarities you see through these sites and you can then use this as a checklist for your own website. You know that these pages perform well in search and therefore must be satisfying both user and Google’s needs well, so use this to inform your own pages. Your checklist might look something like the below example. Once you’ve created it you can go through everything and mark off what you have and haven’t done.

Once you’ve ticked everything off the list and you’re happy that your website is as well optimised and easy to use as your competitors you need to ensure your content is more helpful and has more insight.  Take a read of the competitor websites and see if they are missing any important information, did you get everything you wanted to know from their website? If not, then be sure to include that on your own website!

Conclusion

Hopefully this guide will help you uncover your true competitors in the SERPs and help you get ahead of them. It is incredibly useful to know who you’re competing with in the SERPs, as it will also give you an indication of user intent. If you’re an e-commerce store but every site that ranks for terms you want to be visible for is a blog or news website, you know that there is little chance for you to rank unless you struture pages in a simlar way.

By following these steps you will be well on the way to getting your website ranking in those all-important top Google positions.

If you need any help with uncovering further insight about your competitors then be sure to get in touch with us here at Anicca. You can find out more about our SEO services by clicking here.

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With 55% of people paying more attention to video compared to any other type of content, many businesses need to play catch up if they want to maximise the opportunities.

Samantha Hearn, Content Manager at The Watches Of Switzerland and a specialist in e-commerce digital marketing, offers her advice on creating effective video content.

Not sure if it’s for your businesses? The key stats might make you think twice:

  • 50% of internet users look for video content of products before buying
  • Users retain 95% of a message when watching a video, compared to 10% of read content
  • 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words

But, as 84% of video content has little to no impact, with customers having no brand recall, how do you create effective content?

Samantha’s top tips for effective video advertising:

Start with an amplification plan

  • Where is your audience and who is going to consume this content?
  • Not all content can be used for an ad campaign, so consider how your user base consumes video content on different platforms.
  • Video formats are key, with landscape working best on YouTube, square for Instagram and vertical for Facebook.
  • 80% of Facebook users will watch a video without sound, so subtitles are essential or people won’t pay attention.
  • 95% of people on YouTube will have sound on, but keep in mind that subtitles can talk to everyone.
  • Duration is important. Longform content works on YouTube because that’s what users are there for, but shortform content performs better on Facebook and other social media channels, with 15 seconds being the optimal video length.
  • Are your users passive or active? On social media users are passive, while YouTube users are active viewers, which is essential to keep in mind when tailoring content.

Key takeaway – Always keep the user journey in mind. Start with nine minute video for YouTube, but chop it into shortform content for social audiences. Remember that there is no one-size fits all approach. Look at your own audience and understand how you can use assets for all channels and decide where you will amplify your content before you start.

Sequence it

Maximise your video content by interacting with customers everywhere they are. All channels now feed into the purchase funnel, so video content is now about converting, rather than just brand awareness. As the customer journey now follows consumers through Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads and more, it requires more than one hero asset. A co-ordinated approach through channels enables brands to nurture customers through their journey.

  • Key customer points to keep in mind: inspire, explore, purchase. Know who your audience is for each category, as this defines the creative.
  • Inspire – this involves storytelling designed to get customers on their first step into the funnel.
  • Explore – get customers interested in your brand.
  • Purchase – show customers the product and only talk about the product, as this is the conversion stage.
  • Think about the platforms that suit each of the above. For inspiring customers you need longer content with storytelling on YouTube. For explore brands should consider YouTube bumper videos at just five or six seconds. Link this with your wider digital marketing strategy, including paid search, to convert once the customer is ready to purchase.

Key takeaway – Don’t silo content, amplify it across channels and edit for different steps of the customer journey.

Don’t rely on traditional storytelling techniques

  • Ignore traditional story arcs, which build at the middle and end.
  • Consumers have short attention spans, so this approach would take too long to get to the relevant information.
  • Create multiple peaks to keep the attention of the viewer, constantly give them something to consume and take on board.
  • Superdry’s ‘This is the Jacket’ example featured multiple peaks, changing content every five seconds. The result was an 164% uplift in jacket sales.
  • Create brand moments within the peaks as this works best for brand recall. Add brand into peaks by using product shots or anything that defines brand, not your name as this can be off putting to customers.

Key takeaways – Use peaks within your content to improve brand recall and front load brand mentions within the first five seconds.

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Performing international SEO for a brand is an exciting concept as you are essentially multiplying the number of opportunities available for driving additional traffic and conversions from each new country. If you are an SEO consultant, experienced or not, this can be a juicy project to undertake as there is always something to learn from each region’s technical and cultural requirements.

At the same time, this can also be daunting, as you may also have multiplied the number of stakeholders, KPI’s and limitations or roadblocks to manage.

There is a way to account for all of this and create an international SEO strategy that is scalable. We will look at the main considerations for forming a strategy and work through examples of how this can be done.

The thought process of creating international SEO strategies:

  1. What are your global digital KPIs?
  2. What are the target countries and their viability to drive traffic?
  3. What SEO tasks do we need to achieve the KPIs?
  4. Map SEO tasks against people and a timeline
  5. Report on the progress of your KPIs
1. What Are Your Global Digital KPIs?

This is always a good place to begin as you can start to build a global strategy around these targets. Let’s say a brand with a lead generation website wants to achieve a 20% increase in revenue year on year and up to this point their marketing efforts have been focussed to the UK. They now want to expand marketing to four other countries.

So, if we need an additional 20% revenue, the question is how many additional visits and conversions do we need to achieve this?

We can base this on existing Google Analytics data to start investigating how to achieve this:

  • Say the revenue gained from the last 12 months was £200,000
  • This was generated from 800 leads with an average order value of £250
  • These leads came from 200,000 website visits
  • And the conversion rate was 0.4%

Based on this and calculating the difference, we can say our global digital KPIs could be:

  • Drive an additional 40,000 sessions
  • To gain an additional 160 leads worth £40,000 in revenue
  • And try to increase the current conversion rate from 0.4% to say 1% to help further increase both KPIs

This discovery exercise is good because we can plan the SEO tasks needed to achieve these KPIs. We also know that if we can increase the conversion rate we can also increase those KPIs, making the user journey more effective to convert more of them.

Note: you may also need to discuss targets with each stakeholder as they have other KPIs to investigate, such as; an increase in brand traffic, social media engagement, white paper downloads, sales for specific products or services per region etc.

What we need to do next is determine which countries you need to target (if you do not have an idea already) and how much work is needed to achieve these KPIs. This work will allow you to decide on whether the KPIs are realistic or if you need to aim lower/higher, based on the resources available and any time constraints you may have.

2. What Are The Target Countries and Their Viability to Drive Traffic?

Whether you know the target countries at this stage or not, you will need to look at where visitors are coming from and their behaviour to determine how much work needs to be done in each country:

  1. Go to Google Analytics and pull-up the reports “Location” and “Language” (Audience > Geo > Location/Language)
  2. Apply a segment for “Organic Traffic”
  3. Look at the acquisition, behaviour and conversion data to get an idea of how well these are performing

In this example, we see that a few regions are quite strong, but South Korea, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Mexico are quite weak.

At this point you would make a note of the stronger and weaker regions, so you can investigate the keyphrases driving this traffic later.

Here we see the languages used to visit the site. This is important to note as you will need to determine whether each country needs to see native content on their versions of the site, or just English, or a variation of the two options.

This will determine how much work is needed to transcreate content and keywords.

Note: Transcreating is the process of completely re-writing content with the local culture in mind. For keywords, this means sticking to the topic of the keyword optimised on the same page across different country variations, but finding the actual terms people would use instead (this may differ if you are simply just translating a keyword).

Now you know which regions and languages are strong/weak, you can prioritise which ones to do keyphrase research for to get an idea of the opportunities for additional traffic, then set other SEO tasks to start gaining visibility in those regions.

For example, you could perform set-up tasks for every region you want to target, regardless of current performance (technical SEO, geo-targeting etc) to form a foundation to build upon. You can then implement a phase one project, to just focus on optimising the weaker regions to bring them up to par with the stronger ones.

A phase two project might then include focussing on all regions, performing ongoing SEO on them.

We offer International SEO services (click here to find out more) where we can help you develop your strategy from the ground up, with relevant KPIs and setting specific SEO tasks needed to achieve them.

3. What SEO Tasks Do We Need to Achieve The KPIs?

Focusing on the example KPIs we discovered, where do we get 40,000 additional sessions from? With SEO we can perform on-site, off-site and technical SEO to varying degrees to achieve this. Therefore, we just need to figure out what tasks within these areas we need to do.

International Keyphrase Research

Looking at on-site SEO as an example, we would typically start with some initial keyphrase research to gauge what kind of keyphrase traffic we’re getting already how much more traffic we can get from each region.

Find Existing Keyphrases and Traffic

You can use Google Search Console or SEOmonitor, which will identify ‘not-provided’ keyphrases for you (other tools like SEM Rush can do this too).

Within the “Search Analytics” report we can see the search queries, impressions, CTR and position data. From this, we can look for keyphrases driving the most clicks against impressions, CTR and positions, to determine what brand and non-brand terms you have visibility for and how well they perform to drive traffic.

We use SEOmonitor to determine which keyphrases are driving visits to a website, with individual profiles set-up for each target country. With this data we can see the keyphrases with the estimated search volumes and other key metrics. We would then move potential keyphrases to research groups where we can get the actual search volume figures along with visitor data from Google Analytics.

Find New Keyphrases and Potential Traffic

Assuming you have done some keyphrase research for each country (remember the regions you may have chosen from your discovery work in the previous sections), we can use a tool like SEOmonitor to create campaigns for each county. This will give us the estimated traffic figures based on each country’s Google version (google.es, Google.com US etc).

Note: we are skipping the detail of this task as we are focussing on the overall strategy of a campaign. However, if you are researching keyphrases in different languages you would need to use people native to, or familiar with, the country you are targeting to find the most relevant keyphrases that will convert.

An example of campaigns set-up in SEOmonitor.

Structuring your newly found keyphrases, for each country, in this way will allow you to view the collective search volumes they could generate (search volume = average searches generated / month). From this, you can then calculate how much additional traffic you will gain.

In this example, we can see that the keywords I found targeting the US (Google.com) generate a search volume of approximately 826,000 searches a month.

Note: Search volume is a rough estimate Google provides you via Google Ads data and it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Because of this, you should always aim for an estimated traffic figure that is about 20% larger than your KPI requires, just to be safe.

We know that the new keywords we found could generate roughly 826,000 searches, but of these, roughly how many people would click from the Google SERPs to the site?

There are several factors to calculating this (the average CTR of each ranking position in Google, whether it’s a text, image or video ranking result, the industry you are in etc). We use a forecasting tool in SEOmonitor to calculate this, which uses all the latest research figures on these factors and calculates, based on the regional Google version, to give us estimated traffic figures for the coming months.

In this example, the tool is telling us that if we get within the top 10 search results for these new keywords we will gain 223K additional organic sessions over the next 12 months.

The figure in this example is large of course and you may see smaller figures, so when you do this you would need to repeat it for each country, add-up the additional forecasted visitor numbers then compare it to your KPI figure for additional sessions needed.

List Your SEO Tasks

In this example, we are using the initial keyphrase research and additional visitor numbers we need to help decide what other SEO tasks we need to list. There are also other SEO tasks we can perform that are not informed by keyphrase research.

Here are some examples:

  • On-page optimisation x 5 countries
  • Technical SEO (indexation, tag, speed, mobile and UX optimisation) x5 countries
  • Geo-targeting work x5 countries
  • Backlink audit x5 countries
  • Link building x5 countries
  • Content audits x5 countries
  • Content marketing x5 countries
  • Conversion rate optimisation

Note: there are several factors to consider before deciding on which tasks you require and the time it will take to implement them. Examples include; whether you have one large website with multiple country directories or separate sites and hosting for each, resources available (agencies or staff members) in each country, budgets and time constraints.

Other Task Considerations Site Structure

You can either use one website to host each version of your website for each country, or you can get additional CCTLD’s (country code top-level domains) with hosting in each country or a CDN network.

There are pros and cons for each option you consider (costs for management, work required and effectiveness) which you need to weigh up. See this guide from Google on the pros and cons of each.

Geo-Targeting and Hreflang Tags

You will need to target the specific regions and their search engines to see your site (or regional directory) as the preferred version to display in their search results. For this, you will need to perform some geo-targeting work.

This includes:

  • Placing Hreflang tags on the sites/directories to tell Google and other search engines which country and language you are targeting. They also combat duplicate content issues, as you may need to use English versions of your site in multiple regions, thus displaying the same content on the site technically – link to a guide from Google on this
  • Create Google Search Console profiles for each country you target and select target countries – link to a guide on this
    • You will have to set up sitemaps and do other configurations for each profile too
  • Look at other search engines which are prominent in each county you are targeting and target these too
    • You will need to set-up Search Console profiles for each based on whether they have enough market share to target them
    • You may need to check their search quality guidelines to see what work you will need to do to get in and stay in their index
    • Guide on the global search engine market share by https://alphametic.com/global-search-engine-market-share

4. Map SEO Tasks Against People and a Timeline

You know what tasks you need to perform to achieve this, you now then need to figure out who you can work with and use to help complete these tasks and structure a campaign against a timeline.

If you have project managers and marketing consultants in each country, you can allocate tasks against them.

This is a rough example of an Excel sheet. There are many tools you can use to streamline this and collaborate with stakeholders, such as Trello and SmartSheets.

Ideally, you want to complete set-up tasks at the start of the campaign and start the ongoing work immediately after this, running through to the end of the campaign (e.g. link building and content creation). You also want to allow extra time in each month for problem-solving or implementing any new tasks you may discover based on developments in your industry, Google algorithm updates, delays from stake-holders etc.

5. Report On The Progress of Your KPIs

Reporting on your campaign will complete the loop and inform you and your stakeholders on whether you are on target with the current KPIs and highlight any additional task opportunities that you can add to your global strategy.

We know our example KPIs are:

  • An additional 40,000 sessions
  • An additional £40,000 revenue
  • Try to increase the conversion rate of 0.4%

You can report on this using the following tools:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • SEOmonitor

We use Google Data Studio to collate all this data and display in the user-friendly way that both technical and non-technical stakeholders can view and use to action any strategy changes.

We offer Google Data Studio Dashboard service (click to learn more), where we will set-up custom reports to match your KPIs. We can even help you develop those KPIs.

We Can Help You with International SEO

Anicca Digital specialises in International SEO for lead generation and ecommerce, whether the scope of your project is small or large.

We can join you right at the start of the project with strategy creation and KPI-setting, managing the complete campaign. We can also join mid-way or complete smaller, consultancy pieces for you, contributing to your larger strategy and KPIs.

Click here to read more about our International SEO Services or feel free to get in contact and speak to our SEO team.

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Writing for social media can be daunting. With multiple platforms that touch different target audiences and potential customer bases, plus the real-time nature of networks such as Twitter, no one would blame you for sitting in front of a blank screen, thinking ‘what do I do now?’

Well, help is at hand with our short guide to writing for social media by platform.

Writing for Facebook

Facebook may appear to be the easiest platform to write for; its target audience is broad and it has the fewest physical restrictions in terms of character count etc. However, for Facebook, tone and content rule; with the mindset of those who visit the site largely in a personal space, people respond negatively to the hard sell. Also, the sheer variety of content formats available on Facebook can make it a daunting prospect. However, follow our guide to ensure success for your Facebook copy.

1. Avoid the hard sell. People visit Facebook for largely personal reasons – to catch up with friends, to see pictures of grandchildren etc, so producing posts that are very technical or sales-y can turn people off. We recommend keeping to an 80/20 ratio in terms of content that informs, inspires or entertains versus product or sales posts.

2. Ramp up the emotion. As people visiting Facebook are in a personal space, they respond better to posts which evoke emotions. Use this handy list to check your own posts against.

  • Inspires – you will see loads of inspirational memes on Facebook
  • Unites – content that creates a sense of community, petitions, surveys etc
  • Warns – other people’s mistakes, safety warnings, appeals for missing people/ pets
  • Advises – guides, advice, handy tips all work well on Facebook
  • Amuses – think crazy cat videos!
  • Amazes – ‘you’ll never believe…’
  • Gives – promotions, competitions, exclusive information, VIP treats

3. Keep it snappy. Facebook has relatively few restrictions on posts but it does truncate lengthy posts with a ‘…See More’ after 400 characters. While this doesn’t necessarily affect the performance of the post, you may want to include ‘Call To Actions’ and key messages within the top part of the post. Surveys into Facebook success report that posts with as little as 40-70 characters perform the best in terms of engagement.

4. Change it up. Facebook offers a bewildering array of different types of post from simple text and images, to activities, feelings, emojis, polls, live streaming and mini blogs that sit within the feed. The Facebook algorithm actively rewards you for engaging with different posts and content types, for example using Facebook Live will send you to the top of the Newsfeed. Get creative and try these new post types – Notes are like mini blogs and can be designed like Word document but without leaving the feed. Polls are great for gauging audience reaction to a product.

5. Facebook is ageing. Literally. As the first successful social network, Facebook experiences everything first. In this case, it’s demographic is significantly changing. The Guardian reports that the amount of young people leaving the platform (for competitors such as Snapchat and Instagram), combined with the amount of over 45-65s joining, means that Facebook is becoming a platform for older users. 

Writing for LinkedIn

As a business platform, LinkedIn requires somewhat different writing skills; in contrast to Facebook, people visit LinkedIn in a professional mindset, so they expect more informational and educational posts that will help them in their careers. This is true of text, images and the way people interact with each other. This can mean that what works for other social networks can bomb on LinkedIn – it can appear counter-intuitive. However, follow our tips for certain LinkedIn success. The full survey of LinkedIn success tips can be found at OKDork.

1. Keep posts short but make content long. Statistics show that people on LinkedIn respond similarly to other social networks in terms of the length of post – they prefer it short. Posts that are 40-49 characters perform the best in terms of engagement, followed 30-39 characters. However, in terms of the content linked to, people on LinkedIn prefer a long read – articles of 2,000-3,000 words get the most shares – demonstrating the appetite for in-depth ‘Thought Leadership’ content.

2. Remove the emotion. In direct contrast to Facebook, posts that use emotion perform poorly in LinkedIn. People want professional contacts, and statistics show that any emotion – positive or negative – will adversely affect the performance of a post. So keep it neutral.

3. Use trigger words. People are looking for a certain type of information on LinkedIn, normally associated with improving their own careers. Words such as ‘habit’, ‘leader’, ‘successful’ all positively impact engagement rates, as does ‘mistakes’.

4. If in doubt, don’t ask. In contrast to other social networks, particularly Twitter, LinkedIn sees questions perform relatively poorly. Lacking the real-time urgency of Twitter, trying to start a conversation or elicit a reaction is less effective on LinkedIn. 

Writing for Twitter

Twitter can be the Wild West of social media. Operating in real time, fads, rumours, scandals and news can blow up, and blow over, within a matter of hours.  For brands, it is a customer service hotspot with complaints and even trolls running rife on the platform. With its short form copy and time sensitivity, Twitter can be intimidating. Follow our handy tips for Twitter success.

1. Twitter is all about the art of conversation, so remember to talk to, rather than at your Followers

2. Lights, Camera, Action! Twitter is a real-time platform, home of breaking news and irate consumers. So tweets that contain a sense of urgency and lots of verbs (action words) perform the best. A survey of over 200,000 tweets showed that those that contained more verbs and adverbs outperformed those that contained more nouns and adjectives.

3. Hashtag it. Using hashtags on Twitter is a great way to increase the audience reach of your tweet. However, there is an optimal level of hashtags – using one or two hashtags can increase engagement by as much as 21% but use three or more and watch engagement drop by up to 17%.

4. If in doubt, DO ask. A survey by sales platform Salesforce showed that a tweet that asked to be re-tweeted received x12 times higher re-tweet rate than those that do not. Using the shortened form, RT, results in a x10 uplift. This demonstrates the conversational nature of the platform.

In summary, when writing for any social platform, remember to write for your audience, with a clear purpose and ‘Call To Action’. Knowing who your audience is, what you want your post to achieve and what you want your audience to do, will make objective setting easier and also assessing success. Be prepared and you won’t go far wrong.

For more information contact the social media team at Anicca Digital.

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According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2018 report, “55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority”. With content playing such an imperative role in digital marketing, (check out our top 12 reasons why content marketing is an important part of your marketing mix) there’s a constant challenge for marketers, and content marketers in particular, for how to come up with content ideas.

With “75% of marketeers increasing their budgets for content marketing” (Curata) the need for new, creative, innovative content ideas, that elevate you above others in your vertical, is going to continue to grow.

As an agency that offers content marketing services, we know the struggle all too well ourselves. Our approach, when we are developing ideas for clients, is to initially determine a topic to focus our research around. By deciding on a specific topic, it helps to narrow the scope and focus ideas. We’ve put together  an extensive list of our favourite ways of stimulating and inspiring new content ideas to help you generate your next great content marketing idea.

Content Tools

The rise of content marketing has seen the emergence of a number of new content tools, designed to help kick start your ideation process. These content idea generators can be a great starting point but there are plenty of other tools out there that were not initially designed for content purposes that can be great sources of inspiration.

Content Ideation Tools 1. Answer The Public

Answer The Public is probably the leading content ideation tool out there and is certainly a favourite of our team. Answer The Public requires you to enter a topic, subject or keyphrase and then utilises Google’s auto suggest results, that you often see as you type a query into Google, to generate a list of searches related to the term initially entered.

It conveniently separates results into easy to digest visuals that are organised by questions, prepositions, comparisons or simply arranged alphabetically by associated words. The broader your initial term or subject the more results it will likely generate.

The idea behind the tool is to help marketers get a better idea of how they can “answer the public’s” questions and informational needs by knowing what it is they are searching for around a specific topic.

2. Portent Title Maker

Portent’s Title Maker is a content idea generation tool is aimed more towards helping you come up with a title for a content piece than broader content ideas. Simply enter a subject you need an idea for and the tool will generate a title relating to that subject.

Titles can be a hit and miss but you can click the refresh button over and over to keep generating new title ideas really quickly. Titles tend to be less formal in style and often rely on clickbait type phrasing but they can come up with the perfect idea from time to time.

3. Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator

Another idea generation tool is Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator. Similar to the two previous tools, you need to enter a topic or keyphrase (specified as a noun) and this tool allows you to add up to five at a time. The tool gives you five ideas initially but if you’re willing to register your details, they deliver you an 250 additional ideas that can be downloaded as a convenient CSV file.

Again, suggestions can be a hit and miss and can be over reliant on Buzzfeed listicle style titles, but for some industry verticals this might well be the perfect fit. With tools like these you’ve got to approach them with the mindset of they are sources of ideas rather than a quick and simple way of giving you the perfect content title.

Keyword Tools 4. Google Ads – Longtail Keyphrase Research

Anyone working in SEO will be familiar with using Google Ads Keyword Planner tool for keyphrase research. When conducting keyphrase research you’re often looking for head terms that can be used to optimise category, service or product pages but it can be a great source of inspiration for content ideas too.

Whilst the search volumes Google provides should be taken with a pinch of salt, if you’re a furniture supplier for example, knowing that there’s a reasonable enough level of searches for the phrase ‘funky dining room chairs’ for Google to assign it a search volume value is an indicator that there’s a user search need you can satisfy.

Whilst it’s highly unlikely you’d create a category page for chairs of this characteristic, you could easily create a content piece showcasing some of your funkier designs.

5. Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a tool that’s been used by SEO’s and marketeers to assist with keyphrase research pretty much since the birth of SEO. Back in early 2017, Ubersuggest was actually purchased by well known digital marketeer Neil Patel, and despite the redesign, it still works in the same way.

Enter a topic or search term and it uses Google Ads and Google Suggest data to return a huge list of phrases that contain your original search term. These are organised alphabetically to make it easy to review as the list of terms can often be extremely lengthy (a search for ‘content marketing’ returned 962 related terms).

Lists can be exported to make it easier to review and pull a list of topics and ideas together for you to explore and mull over.

6. ‘People Also Search For’ Results

Google has always shown ‘Searches related to’ results at the foot of search results pages but back in February 2018 Google launched a new look for ‘people also ask’ results. These results are shown on the search results pages underneath organic listings or once you’d clicked into a result and then come back to the original search results page.

This information is coming directly from Google and shows searches related to your original one that other users have made. This gives a really strong indication as to the type of information users are looking for around a topic and can be a great way of discovering multiple, interconnected ideas you can build into your content marketing plan.

7. Google Analytics Site Search

If you have a search function built into your site, you can easily set up tracking to record the search terms your visitors are using in their searches if you haven’t already. In your admin settings, navigate to your primary view and then under ‘Site Search Settings’ toggle this to on.

You will also need to know the query parameter. If you don’t know this, simply conduct a search using the search function on your site and the parameter is the element of the resulting URL that sits between the question mark and the equals sign. For example, on the anicca.co.uk website, our query parameter is the letter ‘s’ as highlighted below.

Whilst a lot of the search terms are likely to be very broad, you can occasionally find nuggets of gold in here from users who are trying to satisfy an informational need but are struggling to find that information on your site.

8. Google Trends

Google Trends is another handy Google tool that often gets forgotten about and doesn’t get the publicity it deserves. It can be utilised in your content idea generation process in a number of ways. You can search Google Trends by entering a topic and this will give you data about the trends around this topic and related searches around your chosen topic.

You can also use it to identify topics that are currently trending and seeing a large volume of searches around at that particular time. For lot of businesses this information may not be relevant but understanding search trends can give you an idea of current hot search topics or topics and searches where user interest is beginning to wane away.

Websites For Content Idea Inspiration 9. HARO

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and gives content marketers a direct connection with journalists who are looking for sources to feature within their stories. Understanding what it is journalists may be writing about in your sector can give you a strong indication as to the subjects they feel are of interest to their audience. If they need a source, why not create the content to satisfy that need or update and amend an existing content piece to meet their requirements.

This way, not only can HARO be a source of inspiration for your own content ideas but it can also become a valuable distribution channel for your content and earn both links and referral traffic for the content you have created.

10. Medium 

In their own words Medium “taps into the brains of the world’s most insightful writers, thinkers, and storytellers to bring you the smartest takes on topics that matter”.

Medium hosts thousands of content pieces across a huge range of subject matters and has been adopted as a publishing platform by some highly influential people. It’s a wonderful source of both learning and inspiration for your own content.

Simply search by topic or keyphrase to identify stories in your niche and as with many publishing platforms, there’s an appreciation measurement, measured here in Claps, as well as a comment section for each piece to allow you to get involved in a discussion.

11. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed somewhat divides opinion. To many it is seen as very soft, clickbait style content that is overly reliant on listicle style articles. And whilst that has been true in the past, it is starting to become a more trusted news site and publishing platform.

However,  the short form content pieces that they produce can give you an idea for a longer form piece on the subject or a better way of presenting that subject to your audience. Just be careful not to fall into the Buzzfeed mentality of going too heavy on the listicle format and be sure to ensure your piece has the depth that Buzzfeed can sometimes lack.

12. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo serves two primary purposes. First it can analyse what content performs best for any topic and secondly help you find influencers to pitch to share your content with. From an idea generation standpoint, it starts once again with searching for the topic you’re writing about. This will then return a list of the content related to that has the most shares on social media.

This can give you an idea about the content that has most resonated with your target audience. However, it is worth remembering that correlation doesn’t equal causation and there’s a lot more factors at play that could have resulted in the high number of shares and that replicating that same piece will not automatically deliver the same results for you.

14. SparkToro*

*Disclaimer – the next two tools are very much for those in the digital marketing and content marketing sector.

SparkToro is a new tool on the block from Rand Fishkin, the former CEO and Co-founder of Moz. Since leaving Moz in February 2018, Rand has been working on a new project called SparkToro and the Trending Tool is the first free tool they’ve released.

The tool is designed for web marketers and uses Twitter accounts that users have connected with the tool, to create a trending list of what digital folk are talking about. This is an example of a very specific tool for a certain industry and whilst it may be one of the first of it’s kind out there and not your industry, keep an eye out for similar tools targeting other industries that may come out as a result.

15. Zest*

Zest is another example of an industry specific tool. In this case, the tool is designed for content marketers, as channel for promoting their content to a wider audience. They use a team of real humans to review submitted content so that only the best of the best is added to their curated feed.

Once subscribed your feed is displayed every time you open a new Chrome tab, which to be honest can be a little distracting if you’re in the middle of working on something, but it does ensure you’re served fresh new content on a regular basis. For content marketers this can be a gold mine for new content ideas and, as with SparkToro, you may see similar tools sprouting up for other industry sectors in the future.

15. News Aggregators – Flipboard/Feedly

A great way to stimulate ideas and cut down on research time is to utilise sites like Feedly and Flipboard, that allow you to subscribe to RSS feeds from a wide range of sources and then aggregate them into a single news stream for you.

Both Feedly and Flipboard are ideal for this purpose so it’s really a matter of preference as to which you choose to use and both have IOS and Android apps for researching on the go. Search for news sources and RSS feeds from within your industry (think industry publications, competitors, associations etc) and simply subscribe. This then delivers a steady stream of content relating to your industry into your feed and is a great place to start your idea research from.

The more niche your sector, the less feeds or sources that will likely be available but both sites do a great job of recommending new related sources for your feed.

Other Online Sources 16. Q&A Sites

Sites like Quora and Stack Exchange are just two popular examples of Q&A sites out there where users are seeking guidance as they haven’t been able to find a definitive answer elsewhere on the web or simply want to bypass the search process altogether.

These sites can be a great source of content inspiration as you get a clear idea of the problems your audience need help to resolve or information they are struggling to find. The process of finding your inspiration is far more manual than with some of the tools mentioned but it can certainly be worth your time.

If you do already have content that satisfies these users needs then be wary of being overly self promotional. Also, don’t forget that this is an opportunity not just to find new content ideas but also to strike up dialogue with your target audience so don’t be afraid of getting involved in the conversations whilst you’re there.

17. Industry Publications

Industry publications are probably something you’re consuming already, be it in print or digital format. Often these publications are leading the conversation around your industry and so can be the source of new content ideas for you. Even something as simple as an interesting data point, such as those used at the start of this piece, can spark an idea for a new content piece or a whole campaign.

Industry news pieces can..

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