Building Your Brand – Why Blog, Why Use Display Ads etc?

“You’ll never get yourself off the treadmill of paid ads, if you don’t build your brand”

Someone on a Search Podcast, 2019


It’s very easy to dismiss online content, blogs, image assets and even display ads as pretty much useless – because you don’t have the instant gratification of seeing leads and/or sales.

This is completely understandable; especially if you have a background in sales – where your job has been to ‘finish off the lead’ and get a sale.

However, if you are in it for the long (or medium) run, then building your brand is a must. Whether you are a tradesman or a giant corporation, your brand’s reputation and the brand-awareness is your safety net when it comes to consistent website traffic, leads & sales.

It takes time to build a brand – but once it is built, those people who come to you direct because they know who you are – are effectively free – or at least very cheap in comparison to some of the cost per click of Google Search Ads these days.

Building a brand is not easy however. Take my other blog for example – Blackbeltwhitehat.com

The blog has over 600 pages of content, lots of it really long, in-depth and time-consuming to produce. The site has 5,000-10,000 visitors per month, but virtually nobody comes to my website via a branded search on Google.

This could be down to one specific reason – the domain name is crap and hard to remember.

I’ve bought a few more memorable domains (like WokeMMA.com “Woke” being an ironic term for self-awareness used in the MMA & Jiu Jitsu communities) and I am currently weighing up the time & effort of re-branding everything like GoogleMyBusiness, TrustPilot etc. – plus all my back-links currently point to blackbeltwhitehat.com (I’m aware of 301s etc. but I’ll still definitely see a drop in rankings).

My blog is ultimately a hobby that I’ve invested less than $50 into over 6 years.  But if I had some more budget – I’d put together a plan to build my brand online…

Logo Design Illustrator
Blackbeltwhitehat.com

How to Build a Brand Online

First make sure you know your target audience & do one of those SWOT analysis. Then make specific goals to establish some brand KPIs.

Here are some ideas on what to do next:

  • Get a relevant, easy to remember domain name!

Learn from my mistake, a short catchy domain name is an easy-win if you are just starting out from scratch. A lot of the best and obvious domain name will be taken however, so you’ll have to do some research first. If you are just starting out, don’t name your business until you secure your domain name!

  • Display Ads

Depending on your niche, you can set tiny max CPC bids in some instances – and they’ll still get thousands of impressions for very little spend. Gmail ads work particularly well for (potential) low CPM (cost per 1000 impressions).

Rotate your display ads’ design & colours to stop people ignoring them due to ‘banner blindness’.

  • Blog & Outreach

Blog are great for reaching people who are researching a potential purchase.

For example, I landed on Perfect Keto’s blog a few times whilst researching Exogenous Ketones. Then ended up buying their branded product on Keto-pro.co.uk; because, for what ever reason, I trusted their brand.

Create great content, with statistics, images and video – and then outreach it – i.e. send it to relevant blogs and websites.

If you can afford it, use “PR-Level” outreach and contact national newspapers etc. This can be done via websites such as gorkana

If you content gets links too – then great – that’s good for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Doing some of your own exclusive research and generating tables of statistics are great for generating back-links naturally i.e. passively.

So consider doing some market research using Google surveys etc. These guys calculated RV/Campervan depreciation in value, just by looking at vehicles for sale online and get hundreds of back-links.

To turn blog’s into direct sales, you can also use relevant ‘CTA’ images below your blog.

For example, if you post a blog about the Walking Path’s of Snowdonia on your Snowdonia-based-bed-&-breakfast website; consider adding a relevant & clickable ‘book now’ and/or ‘get your free brochure’ button with eye-catching image at the bottom of the post. Many people now do this with newsletter sign up pop ups, which are a bit annoying but do work.

Before you start a blog, do your keyword research.

  • Create Tools

Content is great – but tools tend to do better than copy. For example, NerdWallet’s top page in terms of organic traffic – is their mortgage calculator.

  • Reviews

As well as brand awareness, you want some social-proofing of your brand. Start with a free account on Trustpilot and GoogleMyBusiness

  • Video & Social Media

The number 1 mistake people make on social media is to harp on about their brand all the time. Be entertaining, provide useful information and insightful comments. If you are over-promotional, people will not follow you. Build some authority by providing helpful insights that your target market will appreciate.

Videos & podcasts can be costly in terms of time. If you don’t want to set up your own podcast, guest-appearance on other people’s podcasts can generate valuable awareness and also back-links to your website (important for Search Engine Optimisation/Rankings).

  • Build an amazing product and/or service

This is your foundation and one of the reasons that Apple is so successful. An LSD-fueled Steve Jobs came up with some amazing ideas and concepts. The brand also turned itself into unique hybrid of tech & fashion thanks to their pioneering products.

The big, light-up apple on the back of Macbooks no doubt was a design aimed at building brand awareness too!

Please note – I realise this blog has a rubbish social media following. But that’s due to lack of time/money investment. I generally just use this blog as somewhere to record my thoughts & to remember how to do all things marketing related. E.g. here are my notes so I remember how to use Screaming Frog to scrape OG tags.

See my 2019 guide to Keyword Research by Clicking Here.

KW Research in 2019

Hello,

Just thought I’d write a post about how I go about doing my SEO & PPC Keyword Research these days.

  1. Add head term to google search bar in chrome

Make a note of the suggested searches & predicted searches

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.29.22
Predicted Searches in the Address/Search Bar

suggested google searches
Related/Suggested Searches at the Bottom

 

 

 

2. Google ‘Alphabet Soup’

Put in your main head term and then add a

then b, then c and so on

Make a note of the relevant suggestions

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.18Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.21Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.23

 

For product related KWs, this also works if you go to the desktop version of the Google Play Store.

 

3. Have a Quick Look on Reddit & Amazon

Have a look at any relevant subreddits on Reddit – e.g. https://www.reddit.com/r/jeffbridges/

Do a quick search for “KW” site:reddit.com

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.41.49.png

 

Have a look on Amazon, just search your head term and see what products appear

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.42.40.png

In the example above .- “The Dude and the Zen Master” might be a decent KW

Other forums can help too. For example, when looking for KWs for my MMA blog, I’ll look on sherdog forums for trending & frequent topics.

 

 

4. Add Competitor Domains to Ubersuggest

https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ or use the SEMRush plugin.

If necessary, we could export the KWs in this report, and then filter in Excel for those containing “Jeff Bridges”

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.46.34.png

 

5. Upload your Final KW List to Keyword Planner

 

https://ads.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/

 

A final note on search volumes.

For some blogs and websites, even keywords with 0 monthly searches may be relevant.

My other blog – blackbeltwhitehat.com has built all of its traffic off KWs that Google KW planner says has 0 searches.

It all depends on how authoritative your website is and your competitors are. You can go after bigger, more popular KWs if you are a huge website with a DA of 90. It’s a different ball game if you are running a personal blog with a DA of 15

Try and include a number of the relevant searches in your articles etc.

Brexit, The EU & Small Businesses

European Union (EU) referendum decision day is almost upon us and no-one truly knows what the implications of an exit from the EU will have on businesses or our day-to-day lives.

We can take an educated guess though, so here are some of the ways an EU exit could potentially impact small businesses in the UK.
What is an EU exit?

The UK is currently part of the EU, a politico-economic union of 28 member states across Europe that enjoy freedom of trade and movement of workers. These trading rules also apply across the wider European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

On June 28, 2016, the UK will held a referendum to decide whether or not the UK should remain as part of the EU – and we all know the result…

PPC mistakes

 

 


How does EU membership benefit UK small businesses?

EU membership means small businesses can move goods and services across both the EU and EEA without paying any customs duties, a system which opens up greater opportunities for small businesses to trade across the continent.

It’s estimated that being part of the EU has increased trade between the UK and some European countries by as much as 50%

This trade arrangement provides a standardised set of rules when it comes to customs procedures and this reduces a lot of the paperwork and admin faced by businesses doing business internationally.

If this freedom of movement is removed, not only will it make it more difficult for UK businesses to trade across Europe, it’ll also mean there’s more red tape to negotiate.

There is also free movement for all workers across the EU, which means talent can be brought in from a much bigger pool than if businesses were restricted to only employing UK nationals, else encounter more red tape.
confidence


How does EU membership hold back UK small businesses?

Current EU regulations on patents are strict and this can stifle innovation and hold back industries trying to enter new markets and attract new customers. It’s believed an EU exit will instantly see much of this red tape removed and allow imaginative small businesses to prosper.

The UK pays an annual net contribution of around £8.6 billion – that’s more than £23 million per day – to be a member of the EU, money which the pro-leave campaign argue could be invested directly back into UK small businesses to help both new start-ups and existing businesses.

While it would never be a simple case of splitting this money between all small businesses, the suggestion is that there would be more money to go around.


How does EU membership benefit UK consumers?

EU health and safety legislation means that any products designed and sold within the EU must adhere to strict safety regulations and stand up to scrutiny under stringent quality control, which means it’s harder for companies to cut corners and sell unsafe goods to turn a profit.

If UK companies no longer have to meet these stringent safety regulations we could see businesses selling sub-standard, even dangerous, merchandise.  This issue could impact a number of manufacturing industries, but farmers and food distributors have voiced their concern regarding an array of chemicals, preservatives and farming methods, that are currently banned in the UK, but not in the USA.  With a UK exit from the EU, the entire industry and food processing itself, could be changed drastically.


So what will an EU exit mean for UK small businesses?

It’s impossible to say whether UK small businesses will sink or swim if the ‘leave’ campaign is successful, as there are pros and cons for each eventuality – it really is a trip into the unknown.

The Open Europe think tank has estimated that while an EU exit could see UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grow by 1.6% by 2030, it also forecasts a worst-case scenario could cost the UK 2.2% of its GDP.

There are so many potential implications for UK businesses that could be impacted by either staying in, or voting out of the EU.

For example the EU data protection rules that became law in 2018 affected everyone in the EU. If we leave the EU, it could mean less restrictions on data – great for people working in digital marketing like myself (it’s much easier to target specific buyer-personas and demographics when I manage USA accounts vs UK ones), but is this in the interest of the consumers and internet-users?

This is one example of how subjective things can easily get. As a business owner you may prefer ‘looser’ laws around data, but the general public may not. To put this into context, let’s say you own a vegan food shop in Manchester, stricter EU laws make it more difficult to target vegans living in specific parts of Manchester…

One thing’s for sure, Brexit appears to be having a very positive impact on UK tourism and with more Brits likely to stay at home this summer, thanks to the push by protesters concerned with global warming; there could be a real boom in the industry.

Here is some suggested further reading:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/05/this-is-why-businesses-ba…
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/02/uk-small-businesses-are…

How to Buy Bitcoin…

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency have come a long way since the days of Magic the Gathering. It’s now seen by every Wall-Street-Hero with a Mercedes, as a legitimate and sensible place to invest a few quid.

bitcoin logo

It literally takes 10 minutes maximum to buy some Bitcoin..as long as you can find your wallet…

Make sure that you are on a legitimate site and not a scam-site, always check for the https in the address bar of your browser before submitting sensitive information too.

Also, don’t try and explain Bitcoin to the Motherinlaw, as you have no chance.

How to Invest in Bitcoin

  1. First grab your credit card, a valid photo driving license or Passport for ID & your mobile phone
  2. Go to CoinBase
  3. Follow the instructions – firstly sign up and verify your email address
  4. Verify your Mobile Phone number
  5. Upload your ID – You just need to take a picture…it didn’t work for some reason when I choose to verify my ID with a mobile phone picture, but worked fine when I used my webcam instead
  6. Enter you Credit Card info.
  7. Buy Buy Buy!

How to Buy Bitcoin
At the end – Click the Massive blue “Buy Bitcoin Instantly” Button at the bottom

 

If you wish, you can also buy other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum.
Whatever you do, keep all your login information safe!

I bought £50 worth last year and still can’t find my login details! #bellend

You should also get yourself a Bitcoin Wallet. This will mean that if Coinbase gets hacked, you’ll have an offline, backup of your Bitcoinage. You can also get App version for your phone, but it is recommended to get an offline version too.

 

 

Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing

online marketing

My friend has an interview on Tuesday for a marketing manager role, and has never done any online marketing, so here goes my introduction to it…

About the title-image, sorry it’s a bit sexist – studies suggest that faces looking at you are the best for Calls to Action (CTAs) and for thumbnails on Youtube videos.

The above image is used for my marketing video and thought it would double up to get people to click on my blog post. May as well embed the video now! Here you go:

Internet Marketing Jargon

Online marketing has so many abbreviations, that if you don’t know them, it sounds like another language

What is a “Browser”?

A browser is Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari on an Apple device or Opera. It’s a piece of software for navigating the internet and downloading/rendering websites.

DO NOT say that you use Internet Explorer in an online marketing interview. Say that you use Chrome.

The main reason that people use Chrome and Firefox is that you can get plugins/extensions for Google Chrome. The most popular in online marketing is probably the ‘Mozbar’ which helps you see the ‘Domain Authority’ of a website.

What is a CMS?

Content Management System.  A typical CMS is WordPress. This site is made using the free version of wordpress that uses the WordPress hosting platform, a free design template. The wordpress software can also be used when hosted with a different company such as GoDaddy, and the paid WordPress software allows plugins.

What are “WordPress Plugins”?

They are add-ons to your site that allows you to add ‘functionality’. For example you might add a Paypal plugin that allows you to create a shopping cart and payment system on your site to make in an online shop/ecommerce site.

What does “SEO” Stand For?

Search Engine Optimisation. This is the process of ranking as high as possible on Google and other search engines such as Bing.com.

Some terms to be aware of in SEO:
Meta Description – This is the description that you add the theof your website page’s code that shows in the Google Results. It just described what is on the page. Meta Descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

Meta Title .- this shows at the top of the tab in your browser and in the Google results pages.

meta-description
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What does “CRO” Stand for?

Conversion Rate Optimisation. This is the process of getting people who visit your website to buy things or sign up for a newsletter or submit a form. If you have an online shop, a ‘conversion’ would normally be a purchase on your website.

What does “PPC” Stand for?

Pay Per Click advertising (not Payment Protection Cover as I thought in my interview at the bank I used to work at). The 2 most popular forms of this are Google Adwords and Facebook advertising. Facebook is usually more effective on a smaller budget.

SEOmoz-PPC-vs.-SEO2

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What is HTML?

HTML stands for hyper text markup language. It structures websites whilst something called CSS – Cascading Style Sheets.

The best place to start learning HTML is w3 Schools. It can be overwhelming at first, but it’s easy when you get the hang of it. It’s just a load of numbers and letters inside angle brackets <> to remember. There’s no working out or formulas to remember, just letters and numbers.

HTML is one of the ways a websites ‘talks’ to a browser, so that the browser can render the website and show you what’s on there.
CSS makes it looks nice, adding colours, styles etc. For example the CSS might tell the browser to make all the main headings red and all the list items italic.

What is DA?

DA stands for Domain Authority. DA is an indication of how ‘powerful’ or authoritative a website is. The higher the DA (score of 1-100), the more valuable a link is from that website.

What is a Link?

A link or a hyperlink is a bit of text or an image, that you click to go to another website. For example this red underlined text is a link to a fitness blog. When you click it, you should be taken to another blog.

The more links a website has, from high quality websites, the more likely it is to rank higher in Google. You can gain links by creating great content, you can create and run marketing campaigns that people will want to write about, or you can be naughty and pay for some links.

What is Guest Posting?

Guest posting is an old school tactic to gain links to your website and rank on Google. You create an article/blog post, send it to a blogger in an email and ask if they would like to use it on their website. The article will contain a link back to your own website. The typical response from a blogger is either “no thanks” or “okay, that will cost $50”.

Now, this is against Google guidelines and you can get penalised by Google for doing this. People still do though. In theory, if a blogger accepts a payment to link to another website, in any form, whether it is via a blog post or sidebar-link or banner, then it should be a ‘no-follow’ link.

What is a NoFollow Link?

A no follow link has the HTML code – rel=”nofollow” added to it.

This tells Google NOT to count this link and not factor it in to it’s ranking algorithm.

What is the Google Algorithm?

It’s the formula that Google uses to work out where to rank websites on their results pages. Apparently nobody knows all of it, but it looks at how many other websites link to yours, the quality of the websites linking to yours, the quality of your website and its content and how fast your website loads.

What are Keywords?

Keywords or KWs, are search terms used in Google. If I search for “Red apples” then the keyword is “red apples”.
Rather confusingly, search phrases are also called keywords. You want to find KWs with lots of monthly searches, that don’t have lots of competition and add them to your content and headings in a natural format.  Don’t stuff them in everywhere.

Use the Keyword Planner Tool to find KWs with lots of monthly searches. And do a Google search to see which websites rank for those terms. If the top 10 websites for that KW are the likes of the BBC, Fox News and Amazon, you probably aren’t going to rank on the first page for that term.

Long Tail Keywords are less popular KWS, with less searches but often ‘convert’ to sales etc. better.

A Head Term might be “Tennis Balls”
A Long Tail Keyword might be “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK”

“Tennis Balls” will have a much higher volume of monthly searches but will be very hard to rank on the first page of Google for. “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK” will have less search volume each month, but will be easier to rank for and people searching for that term are more likely to buy/convert.

Tools for Internet Marketing

A CMS – such as WordPress so that you can create a website

A Keyword Tool such as the Google Keyword Planner. So that you can see what keywords to try and rank for or advertise with if you’re using PPC ads.

Google Analytics – to see who is coming to your site, where from and to what pages.

Google Chrome and some extensions such as the Moz Bar

Screaming Frog for Technical SEO. This gets all the information from a website and downloads it into an Excel Spreadsheet.

SEO Mofo – to make sure your meta titles & descriptions are the correct length. Add a CTA – Call To Action such as “Book Now!” or “Learn More” at the end of your descriptions.

Yoast SEO Plugin – This makes it easy to add meta titles and descriptions as you make your webpages and blog posts.

WordPress Site Security

Security threats are not just about tangible properties like your house or car, as there are also security threats online. In fact, there are several of them and they can attack your WordPress blogsite if you do not have the proper protection.

Your blogsite is considered as your home in the digital world. It contains everything that allows you to run a successful blog, which is needed to ensure that you keep your followers interested and entice more to read your posts. A security breach on your site could ruin its content and this could lead the entire blogsite to its downfall.

This is something that you do not want to happen, especially if you are using it for your business. You must secure your WordPress blog from these potential threats, just as you would keep your most valuable properties secured. You can do this by gaining awareness on the security risks that could put your blogsite in jeopardy. If you know the risks that you might be facing, you can plan ahead so they can be prevented and you wouldn’t have to deal with them.

We prepared an infographic that lists some of the most usual security attacks on WordPress sites that bloggers like you might face.

Get the list from our illustration below:

10 Most Common Security Attacks That Will Kill Your WordPress Blog

Surprised with the threats that might put your WordPress at risk? Learn more about how to secure your blogsite and other blogging tips at http://www.startbloggingonline.com/.

Getting Focused on Work or Studying

Get a binaural beats study ‘soundtrack’ on youtube:

Proven (to a certain extent) to aid focus, mood, reduce anxiety and some aspects of creativity.

Set and start a Pomodoro timer – http://tomato-timer.com/

This allows you to work it ‘sets’ of 25 minutes, with 5 minutes break in between. Ideal for focus.  Wait until your 5 minute break to think about what else you need to do etc.

And off you go…

 

If you don’t like binaural beats, instrumental rock (or any music without vocals and with a beat) seems to work just as well for focus.

 

Here’s an interesting infographic too – cancel all meetings is the basic, underlying message by the looks of it!

optimizing-workflow-infographic.jpg

Image Source

 

 

How Important is the Right Accountant?

When someone goes about starting a business, the nervousness and the excitement is highly motivating, and it’s easy to get straight stuck into doing all the interesting stuff, like the marketing, sorting out the website and creating your company logo.

Accountants in Chester
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It is important however, to get the basics in place first, and to give the fundamentals, and the ‘boring stuff’ the same thought, care and enthusiasm as the more interesting and rewarding elements of starting your own company.

Choosing the right accountant for example, is not the most exciting task, but can be pivotal in regards to your businesses success.  It’s pretty interesting, but also a bit worrying, that any Joe Bloggs can call him or herself an accountant without any relevant credentials or qualifications.  In spite of this fact, very few business owners speak to a number of potential accountants, or research around them and their reputation. This is potentially a huge mistake.

Ensure that any accountant you are considering hiring, are qualified through one of the main associations/accrediting bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW),the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

It goes without saying, or it should do, that you should also look into how you will pay your accountant. Are there set fees, or does he/she charge an hourly rate?  If possible choose someone that can audit and advise you in regards to your business, as well as being a bookkeeper. Ideally your accountant will have experience in your business sector; but not conflicts of interest.

Ensure that you do not choose an accountant, just because they are situated right next to your office. It is an important decision, that should not be just a quick decision or after-thought.  They will after all, be in charge of your money.  Look what happened to Mike Tyson!  (he wasn’t screwed over by an accountant, but still…).

I live in North Wales, right on the border with England, and my accountant is based in Chester.  It’s definitely worth looking outside your home town. I did have an accountant based in Wrexham, but it was impossible to speak to, or get in touch with him, via phone or email, so he may of well be based in Australia.  Good customer service and ‘contactability’ are also crucial.