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Archive for July, 2009

This is just here as a reminder

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I wanted to post this as a clear reminder of the day Scott challenged me to a fight in the car park. This is what I sent as a warning!

I’ll also leave this here as a warning – this is what will happen if any more of the hard work spent on our website gets covered over by bloody clouds!!!

WTF pic No1

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


This has been doing the rounds for years. It deserves to be first.


Marketing Interview

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


Our Account Managers interview. Kind Of.


Jackie Chan embraces the web

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

In my inaugral post on the Serious Digital website I thought it would be a great idea to kick off with my favourite ad of July 29th 2009.

This, apparently, is what actually happens in your computer when you install Kaspersky software.


IPA Effectiveness Awards 2009

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The IPA Effectiveness Awards have released the names of the creative agencies vying for the 2009 awards and we are one of them! We entered a 3,000 word case study on a campaign we did with London Business School based around social online marketing and advertising.

Anyway if you want to see more look up Perpetual Marketing Model on this website to see how you do it.

The shortlist for the awards gets announced in September, so fingers crossed.


Image search marketing

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

It’s probably fair to say that most of us know about image searching on SEs like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask but we keep noticing that many people totally ignore the potential of this search type to market their websites. Not to put too fine a point on it but you can often achieve very good results by using image search optimisation – you just have to think a little about your offerings and the related image keywords you would expect people to search for. For example if you are a travel agent then you may want to optimise your images for the keywords “Air Travel” or “Aeroplane” – or if they are destination based then name them after the destination name.

For a list of image keywords which are popular you could try looking at sites like iStockPhoto or Flickr

In order to optimise your images for image search make sure you pay close attention to the use of the actual image file name and the image “title” attribute as well as the standard “alt” attribute. Try to keep names and attributes under 5 words. And if possible make them relevant to your overall page for further on-page SEO.

Once you’ve got your image SEO in place you can use Google Analytics to track visitors coming from image searches – although to track the keywords used you would need to slightly modify your GA JavaScript code to add and others as the referring search engine – see here if you need more details on achieving this:

The case of the web page

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

OK so this may sound like a really boring murder mystery title but what I actually mean is the letter case of the page URL. A very medial thing you are all probably thinking but I’m not too sure. I’m pretty confident that the case of your URL has no significant effect in SEO but consider the visual power of uppercase URLS in search listing. Here’s an example – try doing a search for “windows” in Google and you should see something like this:

Letter case search results

You can see that result #2 has got the word Windows in capitals (plus Google makes it bold) – and result #3 has the URL in sentence case. Now I’m sure it’s not just me but I feel these links both stand out better and are easier to read. It follows the same idea as Google AdWords’ “Display URL” – if Google can see the benefit of honing your visible URL then I think it is something we should all think about – and not just for our PPC campaigns.

Are microsites a good idea?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Ok this post may open a can of worms but I thought it worth discussing. We get loads of our customers wanting microsites for various reasons – usually to push a specific product but sometimes to drive more traffic to their main site. This is all fine in principle but it is worth mentioning that it is often the case that a microsite is not the best way to go.

A microsite which has unique content on and is specifically optimised for a single set of keywords will often do well – mainly because it is so easy to optimise and the content is always relevant. Yes this sounds like a dream opportunity to get all your preferred keywords linking through to different site that you own, however, you would need to think of the consequences your main site would face. If you externalise all that good, relevant content onto microsites all with different domain names then you essentially turn away potentially thousands of backlinks from your main site to this microsite. Now if the microsite is the site that will bring in the money and your main site is just a brochure about your company then you may be happy with this – but I would say you need to think long term.

Google (and the other SEs) love old and well established domains which have a proven track record of delivering valuable content over the years. If you externalise all your valuable content then your main site will not build that trust relationship with Google and it will be consistently harder to market over the years rather than getting easier.

So what’s the solution? Well it is really quite simple – do what Microsoft, Apple, Google, the BBC etc do and have your microsites part of your main site – consider these URLs:

All of these URLs are microsites running with their own dedicated content and their own design theme. Each has its own niche and promotes a different section of the overarching company, however all of them are part of the main domain structure and each of them pass their weight back up the chain to the main site. These microsites are true assets to the company and are not unruly children who need reigning in.

For more on microsites and how they do not pass on link popularity see:

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I’ve been reading quite a bit recently about SEO and stuff (as you’d expect) and it becoming more apparent that if you have big competitors in your industry who are pretty much everywhere online you do actually have the ability to piggy-back a little off their success rather than get totally trampled down by them.

My main reason for thinking this is that it appears the major search engines are actually focusing more and more on unique content and also on the relevance/context of links. So with a little bit of guerilla SEO you can actually use your competitors success as marketing leverage. Let me explain a little:

1) It is becoming more and more apparent that relevant outbound links from your site to another can boost your ranking. Imagine Google’s position – for each search query they want to return sites which provide good quality, relevant and regularly updated information. I’m confident that most sites provide relevant content to what they are talking about but not everyone has the time or energy to continue to write streams of content and keep updating their sites. But – it’s probably true to say that your competitors do – so why not link to their new content and maybe even provide a quick critique of it on your site. This way you get regular, up-to-date content on your site and the ability to control the context of how it is delivered. Now I agree that this is not always something you can do because you want to avoid sending your visitors to your competitors – but if you can then it’s a great way to build new content quickly.

2) If you’re not confident enough to link directly to your competition, you could always align your incoming links against theirs – by using co-citation techniques. Just search out who is linking to your competitors and try to get your link placed next to theirs.

3) Another method is to find out what search terms your competitors are paying for (or optimising for) and then blog on any relevant forum/blog using those terms, citing your competitor but also providing relevant information about yourself.

4) Learn from their tactics – work out what they are doing to advertise online and what keywords they are using. Analyse their web pages and their SEO – then take the bits which you feel are working well for them and copy.

5) If all else fails try creating an affiliation with your competitor for mutual benefit. There are loads of ways businesses can work together online to benefit each other’s sales and not damage their own brand position. The only thing to be careful of is to stay well away from anti-competitive practices – I would not recommend you artificially inflate/deflate keyword prices for your own gain – it’s not a good tactic if you want to stay in business!

I’m sure there are many other ways of using your competitors as marketing leverage – I’d love to hear some of your suggestions so feel free to comment below.

Copyrights can kill

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

As an agency we build loads of websites, microsites and other online items for our clients and, like everyone else, we like to put a little copyright statement at the bottom of the template which says we did it and links back to our site (client permitting!). Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, well we would agree with you but recent research has shown that these links, if used on every page, can actually have a detrimental effect on your search engine placement.

These site wide links are now being frowned upon by the major search engines as they are more likely to be purchased links or, in this case, used to further advertise another entity which is not actually relevant to the site content. One would normally feel that the major SE’s would just give lower weighting to these links compared to more unique links, however, it is appearing that Google in particular is going further and actually penalising you for site wide links. See this article for more information:

So – how do we get around it? We obviously want to keep our copyright statements on these pages and ideally we would like to provide a link back to our own website for interested users – but we don’t want to get penalised for this. So, in comes our friend JavaScript to lend a hand. We find one page on the site which either is most relevant to our services or generates the most traffic and we put a standard link on that one page only – this gives you a single unique link which is always useful for link building. Then on the other pages we put the same statement (or different if you prefer) but we create the link by using JavaScript – this link is not followed or indexed by the search engines and so will not flag as a site-wide link to the SE’s. We did look at using the nofollow tags but after much debate we didn’t want it to look like we didn’t trust our own sites – better that the link is not visible at all than seen as untrustworthy!

So there you have it – you now get a good quality unique link, copyright information on all pages and a link which can be followed by human visitors on every page – all with no detrimental effect to your SERPs position. Fab!!