Writing for the Independent’s i-news Daily Briefing recently, journalist Ian Burrell reported on how the British Library is using SEO to become a major digital media publisher. With over 150 million items in its archives, including rare manuscripts and original recordings, it’s probably fair to say that the British Library’s content assets are among the most valuable in the UK, if not the entire globe.
Having such an abundance of valuable, original works at one’s disposal must be every SEO’s dream. One of the hardest parts of the search engine optimisation process, especially for businesses operating in quite obscure niches, is in the creation of original and authoritative digital content that people are likely to willingly share upon discovering it. It’s a complex job that starts long before you even begin drafting the content for your website archives. Branding, website accessibility & design, the perception of trustworthiness that your domain projects; these are just some of the factors that can determine whether or not your content assets will be successful at generating backlinks to your site. Understanding who is interested in your content and how they might use it is absolutely pivotal. The digital team at the British Library clearly understand this, as evidenced by the deep links pointing through to some of their internal pages. Here’s a good example:
20th Century Literature
The British Library rank #2 on Google UK (at the time of writing this) for the key-phrase “20th Century Literature”. That’s a highly competitive term with powerful sites such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Open University trailing in the rankings behind them. Almost certainly one of the reasons why they rank so well is down to the highly sophisticated level of digital content curation, banking on their own archives in order to present a page that is genuinely unique and a stand-out in the search results.
The page is beautifully designed and very user-friendly, presenting the 20th century through a mixture of featured articles, theme organised content, significant people and, perhaps most importantly, from a content asset point of view; digital copies of some of the century’s greatest works. Here you can browse a first edition copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses or view handwritten notes by George Orwell in preparation for the write up of his ground breaking dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Few other online resources can compete with this in terms of the exclusivity of the content; its richness and ease of accessibility. The quality of the presentation and curation of the content is evident in the backlinks to the page. Numerous authoritative websites from across the web link directly to it:
Sites such as The Guardian, The Week, Open Culture and American Libraries Magazine all rave about the fact that rare and important works and letters can now be viewed for the first time online, linking directly through to the British Library’s 20th Century Literature page. This is a great example of an organisation maximising their content assets for full SEO benefit.
Improving use of your own organisation’s content assets
Admittedly, your average business does not have access to first edition works of great literature. So, how can businesses make the most of what they do have? I think the first step is in identifying what resources you have available and whether or not there is a public interest associated with any of that content. Perhaps you contracted a market research agency to conduct some bespoke research around your particular product or service a couple of years back? Did that highlight any interesting data or statistics that could be developed into an online presentation? Has a member of your team written interesting research or academic papers, perhaps in a ground breaking area of new technology? If so, can this be made available as a PDF download on your site? If you determine that you have limited content assets, are there experts on your team who could be freed up to create a definitive guide to a specific area of your trade or industry?
This last point might sound like an extravagance, especially for a smaller business with limited human resources. However, this process could potentially help you to clarify your strengths and unique capabilities as a business, as well as with providing a content asset that can be used again and again to market you both on and offline.
In summary, maximising the benefits of your content assets requires considerable input into improving the quality of your online presence, identifying what you have at your disposal that is of public interest, identifying the internal resources who can help you make that content as engaging as possible to your target audience, then executing a plan to get it in front of that very audience. If you can do this in an imaginative and creative manner, then the chances are you will generate the links back to your site that will boost you up in the search results for those competitive key-phrase terms.
Here at Artemis we have worked with pretty much every content management system (CMS) under the sun. From custom built platforms designed for bigger or more specialist companies to very basic systems accompanying free website building software. Every system has its challenges but some can be truly awful to use from an SEO perspective. Those free website builders, in particular, are every technical SEOs’ worst nightmare! The limitations often include: inability to access the site files via FTP; inability to apply 301 redirects and extremely limited control over the architecture and coding of the site. Luckily, only a small minority of our new clients arrive at our doorstep having used a free website builder or having installed a CMS which is detrimental to their search engine rankings. But occasionally they do which then leads to their question “which CMS should we be using, then?” 9 times out of 10, our response is usually:
WordPress, WordPress, WordPress
This then leads onto the question, “well, why WordPress?” I could probably list about a hundred reasons why the vast majority of small to medium size businesses should be using WordPress but I am going to limit it today to just my top five.
1. It’s extremely flexible and easy to use
Some CMSs really overcomplicate matters and, for internal staff who are not especially tech savvy, you will need a Ph.D. in Computer Science just to figure out how to get past the login screen. WordPress is incredibly easy to set-up. If you are building a website from scratch, many website hosting companies will offer 1-click install for WP, meaning you can have the framework installed on your web space in a matter of minutes with no coding or FTP experience required.
2. Popular with developers and easy to customise
Many developers specialise in designing good looking WordPress sites, including our own here at Artemis. For clients on a shoestring budget, there are literally thousands of WordPress themes that you can quickly and easily install that will pretty much work out of the box (some faffing about with xml imports required and, of course, setting up your pages and menus). Unless you have a very specific business proposition or technical brief, WordPress is likely to be able to handle whatever it is you need to do; from basic brochure site and lead gen through to complicated eCommerce functionality – the framework to do what you need is likely to already be there.
3. Great for SEO
Google seems to love WordPress sites, dependant, of course, on how the theme is coded. Originally built as a blogging platform, many businesses have adopted it as the engine behind their main website front, in part because it is so search engine friendly. There are some technical issues which often need to be addressed after your theme is designed and your pages are up, but plugins such as Yoast are incredibly easy to install and (with a bit of knowledge) easy to configure. Yoast can sort an awful lot of the technical SEO basics, from ‘noindexing’ specific pages to whole archives or remedying common issues to WP.
4. Big Community
Because WordPress is open-source, it has a huge community behind it. If you’re having a technical issue with your WP site, a quick Google search containing a few keywords about the problem will normally return the answer you need to get it fixed. A big community also means masses of development – there are themes and plugins available for almost anything you can imagine; from Mailchimp integration to job board functionality.
5. Great for blogging
Might sound a bit obvious, given that it’s a blogging tool, but WordPress is great for keeping your customers, clients and database up to date with your latest news and articles. Hugely flexible in terms of archiving, author branding and displaying news content; it can be adapted well to meet the requirements of simple local businesses through to professional journalistic organisations.
Like any platform there are always the downsides. WordPress requires frequent updates and security is a major concern; especially for any businesses dealing in sensitive customer data or payments. Security software is an essential must-have, for any business of any size, and you will need to ensure that both WP and any plugins running on the site are kept up-to-date.
The Guardian newspaper recently asked its readers the question “has the age of quantum computing arrived?” In the world of search engine technology the short answer to this question is “yes”. Google has been testing and utilising the power of quantum computing for some time now in an effort to improve its search results. In October 2015, Google announced the existence of the artificial intelligence component of its algorithm known as RankBrain. Whilst many in the SEO sphere had been anticipating AI developments in search, the announcement still surprised many people as Google also stated that this new component was one of the most critical factors in determining the ranking of resources on the web. It’s almost certain that RankBrain’s deployment and announcement wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of quantum computing.
There is plenty of evidence to link Google’s use of quantum computing to their RankBrain algorithm. Prior to the launch of RankBrain in 2015, they made the following announcement:
“GOOGLE IS UPGRADING its quantum computer. Known as the D-Wave, Google’s machine is making the leap from 512 qubits—the fundamental building block of a quantum computer—to more than a 1000 qubits. And according to the company that built the system, this leap does not require a significant increase in power, something that could augur well for the progress of quantum machines.” Source.
Certainly, computers with this level of computational power will assist with the ultimate aim of RankBrain, which is to sort through, understand and learn from billions of web pages then deliver the most relevant results. This is the basis of semantic search, which has been at the heart of Google’s development strategy since their inception.
How does quantum computing assist RankBrain?
I’ll readily admit that I’m no expert on quantum mechanics, the subject is notoriously brain taxing and has perplexed some of the greatest minds in physics. So, I will keep the science brief! In simplest terms, quantum computing provides the computational power required to do extremely complex calculations quickly by borrowing the concepts of superposition and entanglement as theorised in quantum mechanics. In regular computing a bit can be a 0 or 1, however, through superposition each quibit in Google’s quantum computer can be 0 or 1 or 0 and 1. What this means is that Google can perform two equations at the same time and, as the Guardian article states “two qubits can perform four equations. And three qubits can perform eight, and so on in an exponential expansion. That leads to some inconceivably large numbers, not to mention some mind-boggling working concepts.”
Whilst increasing Google’s computational power without increasing their use of resources is clearly a key aim in the adoption of quantum technology, the desire to make a breakthrough in artificial intelligence and create computers that can “think” like a human is of paramount ambition. This makes perfect sense for an organisation like Google whose ultimate concern is with truly understanding the intent of its search engine users. Who can better understand what someone is trying to look for than an actual human being who is an expert on the subject matter? By investing heavily in AI development, Google hopes to replicate the reasoning capability of a human with the extended capability of being able to sort and understand a vast amount of data quickly.
What does this mean for the future of SEO?
Google’s investment in AI is likely to lead to its ever increasing capability to assess and understand the theme of a web page and the authority of that page on the domain it is served on. For businesses, this means it’s increasingly imperative for them to focus on and display their expertise via their web properties. This is especially critical for organisations who provide services based on knowledge and experience. Businesses should be thinking about how they can better address the needs and questions of their customer base, so that those searching on a particular topic are more likely to encounter their content. This requires a renewed focus on content strategy and on improving the quality of web pages. Detailed and in-depth pages should result in the “long-click”, keeping users on your site longer and helping Google’s RankBrain learn from each users’ action.
When I was first tasked with the job of ‘learning more about SEO’ in order to improve my content, it seemed like an impossibly daunting task. Although I’m a relatively fast learner, I had never before dared to delve into more technical elements of how Search Engines work and until recently I have been perfectly content with my ignorance.
However it is becoming more and more important to keep up with Google’s latest algorithms in order to make sure that your SEO remains on track and up to date. After all, if your site or business is penalised by Google, boom, there goes a sizeable chunk of your traffic and subsequently, your business. Fewer visitors mean less custom for your site, which is never good for a commercial business!
As Told by Google
So in order to ensure that your site remains green listed by Google, everything has to be running smoothly and in accordance with the mysterious guidelines set out by Google. This includes the site content, as this is what Google and all visitors to your site will see once they click that link. Actually even before they click that link, they’ll see a meta-description hopefully pointing them in the right direction, so content is very important in keeping your site at the top of Google’s Listings!
We need to make sure that our content appeals to both Google and our site visitors so it is important to know what is relevant and what isn’t when it comes to adding in the key terms for your website. On site content needs to be:
Rich in related keywords but not over-saturated with keywords
Written with your audience in mind (informative if needs be, using key terms and phrases etc.)
Written so that it reads well and is is inclusive of those outside your potential intended audience
Broken up into clear paragraphs with good headings.
Relevant to your business!
Written with a call to action at the end (such as call now or contact us here)
There are more but those bullet points are just what I can think of off the top of my head. What is important is that you don’t just write what you want willy nilly and then post it online without checking it through. There are limits to what you can feasibly do with your content, and limits to what is acceptable by Google’s standards so it is important to keep these in mind.
Starting off – The Scary Part Broken Down
Starting off learning about any topic that is as random and constantly changing as SEO can be quite a challenge, particularly if you don’t quite know where to start. There are countless resources available to those who look for them, you just need to pick a starting point and try to springboard from there.
The trouble with learning about SEO is that it is always being updated as Google learns new things, but of course in order to learn from the past we must also look into its mistakes. In fact any book about SEO is often out of date by the time it comes into print, but that doesn’t stop it from being useful as an entry point into SEO.
I personally have started with the infamous Dummies series in using “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) For Dummies”, but there are a wide range of options available, including Google’s own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.
The worst part about learning a new thing is worrying about it, so get started today and stop your worrying! It is easier than you think!
The future is Bright! We were very happy to hear our first radio advert today on Bright FM, being a company that spends every waking hour making sure our clients get enquires from the internet this may seem a strange medium for us to be using. However, we do understand that not every business is aware of the power and potential of SEO and as a result are not even looking for help.
So, with the help of the guys at Bright FM, we are reaching out across the county with a simple message and an offer of help for businesses that are struggling to get enough or any business from their current website.
Did you hear our new advert? What did you think of it?
We deal with lots of local clients large and small, get in touch for a free review and let us help you get the best out of your website and online profile. Call us now for a free consultation on 01444 645018.
Last Friday we packed up our server, emptied the tea bags into our cars and headed over to our brand new offices! Located just slightly further up Balcombe Road heading out of Haywards Heath, the new Artemis offices boast an openly laid out space with more desk room, high ceilings, skylights and an iconic design as the whole premises are a converted stable and a Grade II Listed building.
Over the course of the past few weeks we have been busy planning the move. Having been at Borde Hill for just over a year now, it is sad to be moving out, but with a growing team the move is a real step forward for us.
The office overlooks a stunning courtyard built in the 19th century where members of the team will be able to have lunch, with colleagues and clients alike looking to take five minutes out of their day to enjoy a breath of fresh air and relax amidst the beautiful countryside and rolling hills of Sussex.
There are still a few things to be taken care of, with a water cooler on the way and plans for a few tropical fish to be added to the Artemis team, but for the most part we are well settled in the new Artemis Offices!
We are really excited about starting life in a new office and we hope that our new office will help us to bring an even better online marketing service to all our customers, both old and new.
Facebook turns 10 today, the 4th February, so happy 10th birthday Facebook! Facebook has grown immensely as a social network, a media sharing site and as a site that promotes traffic to and from other businesses. Since the dawn of the internet age social media has grown massively in popularity, from one form to another, and nowadays there are countless ways to share every aspect of your life with people from across the world. Facebook is certainly one of the leading facilitators of modern life when it comes to social media, but will it stay that way?
The past few years have seen a huge leap in terms of using social media as a way to connect with people, for both personal users and businesses, and the number of social media platforms is astounding. There are simpler ‘status’ platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, whereas bloggers who want to collate their longer written works tend to collaborate over WordPress and Blogger. For the artists there is Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr and for the production and video artists we have Vimeo, Vine and the hugely successful YouTube.
All of these social media sites have the idea of bringing likeminded people together, and the concept of being able to link your profile on different platforms serves to further connect people over the internet. And now with mobile social applications, you can stay connected to these people even when not at home or at a computer.
So far Facebook has done a very good job of collating all these social media platforms together, and it works as a general ‘middle man’ of social media, because by joining Facebook, you can begin to connect with people, who suggest websites, Youtube videos, interesting artwork, and then links are directed to accounts on other platforms. Linking possibilities become endless, and due to the constant changing nature of the internet, a post which may have become lost in the ‘news feed’ can appear months later, and garner a whole new audience just through activity on social media.
In order to move forward into the future, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg plans to reduce the necessity of Facebook credentials, as the ‘Pressure of only doing real identity things..is somewhat of a burden’ and this is certainly true, particularly when you consider that the internet is frequently used as a means of ‘escaping’ the world in which you identify your normal self. The idea of having an alternate profile online, allows users that anonymity, and could perhaps make breaches of personal privacy a thing of the past.
One of the dangers of Facebook has always been that users share too much. An inappropriate photo could soon become viral, gaining the user a lot of unwanted attention which often begins to affect the user’s offline profile and daily life. Jobs have been lost over throwaway remarks on Facebook.
One thing is certain however, although the popularity of Facebook seems to have slowed down in conjunction with the rise of several other different social media platforms – all of which offer the user a slightly different media sharing experience – it seems far from a dying platform!
For expert advice in managing your business’ social media campaigns, whether via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere else, why not get in touch to see how Artemis can help. We offer full training in the effective use of social media platforms and can even manage all your activity for you to ensure your business stays on top.
In the past year the Search Engine giant has been methodically buying robot makers, supervised by Android developer Andy Rubin. Recently Google has also bought out Boston Dynamics, makers of the ‘world’s fastest four legged robot’ the Cheetah, which is said to reach speeds of up to 29 mph. Both Google and Boston Dynamics have declined to comment on this new deal, leaving us of the internet and worldwide to wonder, why?
Google has long been one of the companies leading the modern world, and Andy Rubin’s last project; Android, took the world by storm as a valid, competent operating system competitor to Apple’s dominant iPhone ecosystem. It has become plain to see that this is not just a side project, as Google has invested quite a lot of money into robotics companies, and big names such as Ray Kurzweil – a leading articifial intelligence and engineering expert – in the past year.
Boston Dynamics are an innovative Robotics Company established in 1992 that have worked with several large companies, such as Sony, and are contracted with the US Military. It originally focussed on computer intelligence and simulation systems, but later specialised more and more into dynamically moving systems and artificial intelligence.
So what is it all for? There have been suggestions that Google is planning on focusing on the automation of delivery services like Google Shopping Express in order to compete with retail giant Amazon. Possibly in the future, Google has plans for a fully automated packaging and delivery system, with a robot delivering your package straight to your door! From recent announcements made by Amazon and their progress in the field, it certainly looks to be heading that way.
Currently Google Express is lagging behind retail giants such as Amazon and eBay in terms of content and experience, but this new step towards using artificial intelligence could make a lot of difference in the years to come.
As we approach the end of 2013 and start getting ready for the New Year, we at Artemis will take a look back at one of our busiest years yet. There has been a huge amount of growth in the company, with us taking on challenging projects from both veteran clients and new clients we have taken on.
We are always kept on our toes here at Artemis, dealing with a wide range of clients from all specialist areas, from business phone systems to ground source heat pumps to bespoke cycling jerseys. With Google’s recent algorithm changes, we’ve really had to be at the top of our game, but we can confidently say it was a challenge we met head on.
We would like to say a big thank you to all of our wonderful clients; it has been a pleasure to work with you this year and we are thoroughly looking forward to doing it all over again in 2014!