We work with big brands to help them raise their visibility online. Clients include Disney, Debenhams, Kempinski hotels, CBI, Lloyds Pharmacy, Pets at Home, John Greed Jewellery, JD Sports, JD Williams.This is a presentation about how and why creative content has a place at the heart of a search marketing strategy.Search is changing, internet driven by ideasCorrelation doesn’t equal causation
Back to the dawn of GooglePatent for PageRankLinks as a measure of a websites quality and therefore of where they should rank in search engine results pagesStill the case today, a link is a vote of confidence from one website to another.But there were, and still are, major flaws in this:The link became a form of currencyOnly site owners could ‘vote’People bought links to manipulate the results, and an entire industry was born
Brands have embraced SEO, Google has embraced brands.2009’s Vince ‘brand algorithm update’ update sought to bring search behaviour and click patterns into the algorithm, so if you were searching for keyword ‘x’, couldn’t find anything of interest and then searched for ‘Lonely Planet’ then you’d inadvertently be helping Lonely Planet rank for that keyword even in the absence of usual ranking signals). Its based on the idea that what users search for can tell search engines about the strength of a brand.Brands can get away with more (high profile television campaigns driving natural links, and a link profiles)But bad SEO can still damage a brand – JC Penny, other big brands have been penalised recently from spammy practices
But search is changing, its too simple to say that if ‘people find it interesting then people will too’ but its not far off. The birth of the social web changes things. If people find something interesting on the web they can ‘vote’ for it, its not just the site owners anymore. Liking, Tweeting, Digging, Stumbling, Reddit… a whole host of ways to shareSocial signals are still relatively minor importance to search results at the moment, although that is changing with Search Plus Your World (watch this space on social wars going on between Twitter and Facebook and Google).So what can brands do? Keep doing the same old same old (lots of low quality spammy links) waiting to get penalised by Google or become a brand, make a site that can rank for anything rather than a limited set of keywords that you think are important.Google is looking for brand traffic and keyword traffic, all of these brands are supported with TV, PR, press ads – good brand awareness that builds brand
250 million Tweets per day
So social metrics are growing in importance, that’s not to say that traditional link building is dead. Yet. But its on the way out.This visual is all about the importance of brands thinking in two ways: one as the traditional destination (people talking about the right things in our space), and one as being in the ether (always on, distributed on the web, reaching audiences where ever they are).So to generate brand traffic and brand and keyword traffic you need to act like a brand (especially if you are one already!)Traditional PR / marketingHave an opinionCreate reasons for people to talk about you and reward the people who promote youEmbrace your community and build networksGenerate brand anchor linksThe black hole effectSocialAnd search can be at the heart of this new vision for links.
A brave new world for SEO… beyond the infographic!!But this comes with caveats… creative is great but it has to have a purpose. We create content that responds to problems identified in an initial link gap analysis. You create content to get a specific type of link. This is not creativity for creativity’s sake.
Sorry, this is a slide with bullet points on!What we’re seeing is a breakdown of the silo mentality in marketing and digital teams – the media owner, the brand owner, the content producer, the PR team, the social media ‘ninja’ in the corner. There are many reasons why its great that this silo mentality is breaking down – the end of mass markets, digital communities, increased competition for consumer attention, technology but fundamentally because intelligent marketers are switching on to the importance of rigorous data analysis. Some people are even saying that the marketers of tomorrow will be analysts, with a reputation for scientific scrutiny.Some people have commented that this could spell the end of the search marketing agency, but I don’t buy into that for reasons that I’ll explain later on. At Epiphany we know its about reverse training for content marketers or traditional SEO’ers. Search an be the linchpin for all of this.We’ve been working in this area for twelve months, testing ideas, educating our team and clients. We got ourselves a nomination for Econsultancy’s Innovation Awards by investing £300k in three new departments – copywriting, creative development and online pr to help us adapt to this fundamental switch in search.
Example one: Waterstone’s Vampire TimelineTimely: released at HalloweenInteresting: appeal to a specific community ‘bite and bonk’ or ‘shag and shudder’ depending on who was in the roomSocial: brand presence but also to catalyse the speed of link acquisition and volume of links pointing to the siteRemarkable: picking up high DA links in mainstream mediaWe all love Vampires and our Vampire Timeline contained some of our picks of the best Vampire fiction books through the ages.Front page of Digg, Huffington Post, the Ultimate Goth Guide (DA of 95!), press association, But the important thing is that this is one element of a highly coordinated SEO campaign. Creative at the heart, underpinned by search specialism.
Example two: Staveley Head petrol pricesThis piece used data from…Interesting and on brand: solving a problem for the audience.Social: catalysing volume and speed of links.Newsworthy: released to coincide with budget.Interactive: playful.Scalable: local as well as national attention.Brand neutral: increasing the chance of being embedded.Picked up links in The Telegraph, regional press in Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Portsmouth, Birmingham Post, Daily Mail,
Castle Cover:Changing price of utility prices in the UK (gas, electricity, water and coal) for the last 21 years, normalising the data at 1990 levels to show rises and falls.Supported by FOI requests from councils around the UK.Rather unsurprisingly, all four demonstrate price hikes over the period, though some are more dramatic than others. Electricity and gas - the two most-used household energies - have nearly doubled over the last seven years of the index, owing to their ties with oil prices, as well as a number of other factors. The industrialisation of foreign nations, plus growing international prices for the commodity, has forced coal costs higher for UK citizens.Picked up links from the mirror, the express, daily mail, this is money.co.uk and, in a weird turn of events for a search marketing agency, got into the print edition of the….
There is still a knowledge gap. Its important to set these projects up in the right way – making sure that they are as attractive to search engines as they are to human beings. When we set our online pr team up they spent 3 months in our offpage SEO team, learning how to apply SEO knowledge to what they already knew about PR. When we run these projects they involve a large team… we have an SEO analyst, an account manager (who represents the brand), a PR person and a link builder from our offpage SEO team. Each one of those people is critical to the success of these projects.We’ve seen some campaigns that were nearly great but had images positioned in the wrong place, the wrong file format or the wrong promotional mechanism. All things that require search marketing expertise rather than simply a talent for PR or creative.
Thank you, I’ll be in… if you’d like to talk to me or Robin. We’ve got copies of our white paper on this area with us which we’ll happily give to you.The white paper is also available on our new website that is launching today, so please check it out epiphanysearch.co.uk.
Search Marketing Theatre; The New Formula for Search. How innovative search strategies have interesting, creative and remarkable content at their heart
tom salmonmarketing director
the anatomy of a large-scale hypertextualweb search enginesergey brin and lawrence page, 1998
the new formula for search 1.a different view of creative content• Engages the right audience • Useful, solving a real whereever they are on the problem or identifying an web. unknown need.• Competes for finite • Interesting, funny, entertain consumer attention. ing, timely.• Continuous and always on. • Online, sharable.• Gets the right links. • Seeded appropriately• Leverages value by being (authority and targeted driven by data. networks).• Part of a wider brand • Understanding marketing and search aggregation, communities strategy. and platforms.
in brief• search has changed• brand & social signals are crucial for search engines• creative content should be used strategically develop a community around your brand• networks are everything• it’s a truly exciting time to be in search• the time to change your approach is now