By Liz Lancashire
Google has announced it is to make some major changes to the way its search algorithms work. Users have for some time been making complaints about the quality of the results in their searches, sometimes claiming up to 30% of search results are effectively junk. The problem is, many sites that appear highly in a search result are 'content farms', websites which churn out a large amount of low quality content which is loaded with keywords, but devoid of any real value or interest. Many of these articles are copied from other websites or bullet pointed keywords, or the web page contains a lot of ads which contain the relevant keywords. These articles are written in such a way that they will appear highly in Google search results but in reality they offer little or no real value or insight to the reader.
Google's new search method, currently being rolled out now in the US, awards more merit to well written content and researched articles and white papers containing original thought.
So what does all this mean? Well, an original piece of work should now have more of a chance of being seen by a wider audience, who will be able to make the decision themselves as to whether it is a valuable piece of work, rather than the reader having to sift through page upon page of keyword packed blurb before reaching a web page of any real worth and relevance.
Of course, keywords still need to appear in copy, it's what makes your search results relevant. But hopefully, as a result of these changes, you will start to see better quality content returned, and therefore more valuable information. The age old adage, content is king, still rings true, with that extra ‘quality’ thrown in. Don’t overlook the quality of copy when building, revamping or refreshing your website. You might have the prettiest or flashiest site in your sector but if it has no quality content it might remain an unseen masterpiece and you will lose out to other sites whose visitors convert into paying customers.
By Deborah Wroe
A new follower on the Owl Marketing Twitter
account got my interest yesterday. We always check the bio and recent tweets to see if we want to follow back. For a personal account it’s personal choice whether you are a ‘follow all my followers’ kind of person, for a business account it really doesn’t make sense to follow all, but there’s a whole other blog post on that. Anyway back to this particular account, Colin Lally
, the bio made me laugh, and piqued my interest, I clicked through to recent tweets and the interaction between that account and Leslie English
and was immediately suspicious. Both accounts had also posted a pic showing an invite for a dating event in Oldham.
Aha, I thought, on to you, clever... fake accounts promoting a dating service. Cockily (some might say), I immediately tweeted that I had ‘discovered’ these accounts, and congratulated them on a clever idea (without ‘outing’ them). I have seen this type of clever social media strategy before but it was the first time I had seen it locally, though I was thinking it was probably part of a national strategy with similar accounts set up across the country, I was also thinking, darn it, why they didn’t they use Owl Marketing to come up with the idea and manage it!
Anyway….I then clicked the pic again and saw it came from the OTW account, OTW, isn’t that Oldham Theatre Workshop I thought. Yup, turns out that what I thought was a clever piece of social media strategy to build brand awareness and drive sales for a dating agency was in fact a very clever use of social media by Oldham Theatre Workshop for their production The Wedding
. Brilliant idea, innovative, of the minute and one I shall be following with interest. Hats off to you all.
By the way, the title of this blog….I am currently very much enjoying re-reading Alexander McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The antics of Precious Ramotswe send my imagination into overdrive and I truly believe I could be a detective. Maybe I should stick to the day job?
By Liz Lancashire
While traipsing up and down the supermarket aisles searching out cornmeal for an American recipe, I began to think of all the Americanisms that slip into every day chat. (Also on my list was cilantro, ground beef and egg plants, I was there all day). It's quite common to say I guess so rather than I suppose so. Do you ask to take an OJ or do you ask if you can have an orange juice? Do you meet with your sister or meet your sister? American English is quite different to standard English, we have our quirks, they have theirs (but ahem, who invented it?).
Many of those differences occur in the written languages too, often the American version of a word crops up in copy in the UK. If your markets are global this is fine, as American English is more often taught than British English to learners. But if realistically your market is the UK, American English is a bit of a no-no.
I'm not knocking American English. In many ways, it makes sense. Those savvy state-siders took the decision to iron out all the British & Irish quirks to make it easier to learn and to make better sense. So, if it sounds like a Z, then they use a Z. Does the word sound end with 'er'? Then they spell the word with 'er'. Does the word need two mm's or two ll's. If not they simplify it and take one out.
So do you watch a programme or a program? Are you centred or centered? Do you have neighbours or neighbors? Do you recognise, analyse and standardise, or do you recognize, analyze and standardize?
After my hard morning's labor in the aisles of the store, I eventually found out that after all this pondering, all I actually needed was maize flour, so I paid for my quart of milk, and with rutabaga in hand, I loaded up the trunk, filled up with gas, and went back to my crib.
By Liz Lancashire
Not me. No, I love bread. Not for me the Atkins or Zone diets. Even as a committed carnivore, I'd rather give up my rib eyes and roast dinners before I give up my poppy seeds bloomers and toasted teacakes. No this was a lady selling posh bread on a market stall in Manchester on Saturday, moaning to the stall holder next to her.
Her bread display did look lovely, all walnut loaves and focaccias laid out on a cutesy gingham tablecloth. But when I heard her mutter those words, I walked straight on by. Talk about top tips on how to repel customers! If she doesn't believe in her product, who else will?
I did however get the impression that, in an Eastenders style, she was holding the stall for someone else. And yes, it was a cold and grey day, so who could really blame her for being a bit miffed? It's a fact of life that for many people work is a necessary evil, a means to an end, a way to fund the weekend or family life. Most people do not live to work, its just something to get out of the way before the fun can start. And we've all got one. That friend on Facebook that regularly updates their status with, 'it's the weekend...woop woop!' then again on Monday morning with, 'urgh, Monday again.' But that's normal for most people, apart from maybe the chap who is charged with managing the uninhabited Australian tropical island. I doubt he ever updates his status with, 'just hit snooze for the fifth time, really can't face work today.' I bet his employer never has to come up with incentives to keep him a happy worker, 'here you go Joe, here's a high street shopping voucher to say thanks for discovering that new species last week'.
Essentially employees do need to have a degree of belief in your product or service, just like this lady really did need to show a bit more loaf love, otherwise they're plainly in the wrong job. But on the other hand, there are lots of things an employer can do to enthuse their staff and make sure they are showing your products and services in the best light. You can invest in advertising and getting your marketing message right and consistent across all channels but your frontline staff need to be ‘on brand’ and ‘on message’ at the crucial moment i.e. when a potential customer is right in front of their stall, otherwise the bread will go stale and you’ve lost the sale.
By Deborah Wroe
I had my feet eaten by fish on Friday. Technically that’s not true, I just had a Garra rufa fish pedicure, or to give it its real name ichthyotherapy. I was there with my Mum, who loves a pedicure, as I bought her a voucher for Christmas and it was valid for two people – result! I was not entirely sure what to expect as none of my friends have had it done, and it is after all relatively new in this country. So what was it like? A little tingly, a bit like pins and needles (very mild ones) and not altogether unpleasant. My feet were a little softer but nothing miraculous.
But, what struck me more than the experience itself was the lack of information in the shop/spa. As this is a relatively new concept in this country, consumers have lots of questions. Where did it originate? Who first put their foot in bowl of fish and thought it was a good idea? What are the benefits? How often should you have it done? These were all questions being asked by my Mum, myself and the other women in there at the same time.
Whilst nicely decorated, the walls in the shop/spa were bare. I think they missed a trick, they could have had boards on the walls giving this information out in a stylish but simple manner. And maybe a short film on a loop, showing the history and the whys and the Garra rufa fish in Turkey, people talking about the benefits and what it had done for them – simple but effective marketing strategies to ensure repeat business. Apparently they have had 700 people through their doors with this voucher offer. I wonder how many will go back?
By Deborah Wroe
You may have read about the new site www.police.uk
a crime mapping website for England and Wales. The site allows you to see the offences reported in your local street by entering your street name or postcode. According to the BBC, the Home Office said the site is receiving up to five million hits an hour, or some 75,000 a minute and cannot cope with the volume of traffic. It is hardly surprising that the site will be a hit (pardon the pun) with people wanting to see just how safe or not, their local area is. But the fact that so many people can’t access the site highlights the problem of not getting your ducks in a row. Imagine if this was a product launch site and potential buyers couldn’t access your site? If you had spent a big chunk of your marketing budget on a new site and marketed it so well that no-one could even see it due to overwhelming demand on the server? Nice position to be in, in theory, (demand outstripping supply) but in reality it would result in loss of consumer confidence, damage to your brand and crucially, loss in sales. So, this serves as a wake up call, make sure you plan for the best possible outcome when marketing a new product or service and ensure your systems can cope with the onslaught of enquiries.