Best Use of Video DADI Award Nomination for…Us!

We are positively thrilled to announce that a project for Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky has been nominated for Best Use of Video at the Drum’s 2016 DADI Awards. Come the 19th October we will be presenting ourselves in London for the prize-giving ceremony.

But first, a little backstory. On a rather dark and miserable November afternoon, we presented an idea for a campaign celebrating Burns Night to Glengoyne. Not long before Christmas, after an anxious wait, the email came through from the Marketing Director giving us the green light, at which point it was all hands to the proverbial pump to make sure we could deliver on the very tight schedule.

The idea centred around Glengoyne’s Family database, comprising over 50,000 fans of the brand from around the world, many of whom engage on social media on a regular basis. How – we asked ourselves –  can we bring all of these people together to celebrate our national poet’s life and showcase the incredible global reach of the Family?

Then it came to us: invite all of them to record a verse of Robert Burns’ infamous poem ‘Tae a Haggis’, collect them all, then edit the videos together to take the reading around the world, one line at a time. We were absolutely amazed by the response, with videos flooding in from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, England and Scotland.

The result – we think – speaks for itself.

Sláinte…and naturally we’ll let you know how we get on, if we don’t see you there!

SEO Is Not Dead

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You’ve heard the rumours. You’ve seen the think-pieces discussing a year-on-year drop in organic traffic and how native mobile-apps hoover up all ‘traditional’ searches. It all points to one thing, they claim – the end of Search Engine Optimisation.

If you work in digital marketing however, you know the truth: SEO is far from dead. Now, perhaps more than ever, the fundamental principles of search engine optimisation are crucial to any successful digital marketing strategy.

But how can we prove it?

At the end of February, one of Mackerel Media’s clients came to us with a problem. Despite being a well-know, large Scottish based firm, their organic search listings  weren’t appearing on the first page – what could we do to help them?

Now anybody will tell you that, unlike the relatively fast gains that can be made through PPC marketing, search engine optimisation is about playing the long game – but there can be some quick SEO fixes that can make a real difference in a reasonably short period of time.

Our initial investigation into the client’s website revealed, among other SEO quick-fixes, that most of the firm’s pages were missing H1 headings. The H1 heading element of a page has long been a stalwart of on-page search engine optimisation – but opinion has been divided over just how much influence it has on your final position on the SERP. However, with everything else seemingly set up correctly, the missing H1’s seemed a logical explanation for the underperforming pages. The next step was to get creative…

Working closely with the client, Mackerel Media was able to introduce around sixty new H1s to pages across the clients site – ranging from sector specific keywords to high volume sector terms, retroactively adding them to complement the existing site content. In total, all of the H1s were added in less than a day.

As a result, search positions have increased dramatically, with the number of our client’s pages ranking on the first page of Google up a massive 40.74% from last month. What’s more, the number of pages which now rank in first place for our client’s keywords has increased by 52.63%.

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In just one month, Mackerel Media’s client saw a 22.72% increase in total pages ranked simply thanks to some in-depth investigation and the introduction of H1 headings. If SEO truly is dead, then we’re yet to see any evidence.

And while this is a single example, it is far from an isolated case. Every day here at Mackerel Media we see the effects a well structured, planned and executed SEO strategy. Whether a site requires a technical overhaul, on-site content improvements or an off-site outreach programme – each change you make will have an effect on how Google, and ultimately the internet as a whole, will rank your page.

So next time somebody tells you SEO is dead, remember: the right changes can make a huge difference to where your site ranks amongst its competitors… who are almost certainly all making SEO improvements as well.

Meeting Moz Local

Moz have recently come out with Moz Local, a new tool that checks all of your Local Listings and makes sure that they are up to date and accurate. You enter your business’s URL and Postcode and you’re given a pretty graph that telling you what’s complete, incomplete, inconsistent or any duplicates you may have. Sounds simple, right?

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The Moz Local Dashboard Report

Getting the graph and information was free (which is the best price ever for a tool and pretty useful to get a general idea of where your weaknesses may be), but what Moz then offers is to get these all sorted for you, in one fell swoop. I thought I’d give it a go.

My initial use of Moz local has been good so far. Previously I would have had to think about all the places that our company could be listed and then see about creating an account on each one of them and then updating them one by one.

It took me around 5 – 10 minutes or so, from clicking on “Start Using Moz local” to entering business information (and asking Nick for the company credit card) to being on the dashboard with a quick click through tour of what’s available.

Filling Out Content

Adding Mackerel’s information was quite easy and straightforward. Overall there are four sections to fill out : Basic Information, Additional Information, Additional Contact Information and Advanced.

Basic Information is fairly straightforward, however under the categories section we have a message from Moz saying :

“Enter between 1 and 5 categories for your business separated by commas. Categories should be added in the order of importance for your business. Checkout Category Research to see all categories.”

To which I thought,  “Great, where do I find these categories?“ but there was no link on the page. Having a look later, I found my answer in the Moz Q&A Forum. It’s here by the way: https://moz.com/local/categories .

Additional Information seems to be related to Foursquare which doesn’t really apply to us but I do have a few clients in mind. Here you’ve got a 150-character Description, Opening Times, Photos (which you add using URLs), and Payment Types.

Additional Contact Information  is just in case you want to add extra numbers, secondary lines, mobile and Fax (apparently still a thing).

Finally there’s your Advanced section which asks for a URL to your logo, a display URL, Social Media URLs, any External Media URLs, Promotions (links to menus, product, discounts), Brands you stock, Certifications, Neighbourhood your listing is found, Containing Location (If you’re in a mall/shopping center) and a Store code (a unique ID for each of your listings to distinguish them from each other.

The Dashboard

When you first arrive at the Dashboard, you’re welcomed by a quick click-through tour telling you what each section does.  Your main sections here are: your Listings, Distribution, Performance, Visibility, and Reputation.moz-local-published

Each of your listings is set out nicely with your distribution score, and the progress of each of the local listings that Moz Local has sent your info to. I immediately saw a jump as some as the listings updated straight away, but Moz does then tell you that some could take a couple of weeks and you’ll get an e-mail when it’s all up-to-date.

Listings and Distribution cover your general information that you’re looking at getting updated.  Performance, Visibility and Reputation however, are extras that you can purchase that allow you to get your Google Analytics and other Insight information in the same place. When you click on these, get to use these on a trial basis to check them out, though it seems to take a little while for them to get up and running.

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Almost there…

The largest annoyance that i’ve had so far is that Moz Local is reporting I have possible duplicate listings, and saying that I should “Simply ‘close’” to delete them. There’s just one thing; there’s nothing to close.

For now I find that this is a great wee tool for getting all the info in one place, and saving a bit of time getting your company’s information distributed to the local listings. It seems like Moz still have a few bugs to sort out, but give it time and it will definitely be a resource to add to the proverbial Toolbox.

Ian from the UK reads from Tae a Haggis

Toasting Glengoyne Fans Around the World

Every once in a while, an idea, an audience and a client willing to take a risk conspire to create an opportunity to do something special for a brand. We were delighted to get the go-ahead from Ian Macleod Distillers on such a project for Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky.

The idea was simple: showcase the global Glengoyne Customer Family by asking them to celebrate Burns Night through a reading of ‘Tae a Haggis’, to be released in time for the 25th January. Their contributions would be edited together to create a single reading of the poem that circled the globe.

To kick things off, emails were sent to the Glengoyne Family database in late December 2015, asking them to contribute in the most passionate way they could imagine. We were amazed by the results! Family members from around the world donned their kilts, set themselves up and read their favourite verses of the poem with amazing enthusiasm. Submissions came from a snowy forest in Saskatchewan, from a sunny tennis club in Melbourne, from Sweden, from New York, from a warm New Zealand, from Taiwan, from the frozen Norwegian Countryside, from Germany, from Switzerland and of course from Scotland itself. Some of the Distillery team were kind enough to contribute as well. Editor extraordinaire Marc Grundy pulled everything together against a very tight deadline and delivered an amazing final film.

We were delighted with the end result, as was the client. Just shy of 40,000 people were reached by the campaign on Facebook, the video was viewed over 22,000 times and – most importantly – we celebrated Robert Burns’ birthday in a way only the Glengoyne Family could. Enjoy!

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Google Testing 100%-Paid Local Profiles & Listings?

Over the last few years, Google’s focus on Local Search and Local Business has undergone a huge number of changes, with perhaps the most significant being the shift to Google My Business, which took on the mantle of Google Places, Google+ Local and the other myriad personalities their Local product had adopted. What has remained constant throughout these changes is that the service is ‘free’ to the business owner. However, if some recent tests are anything to go by, that might be about to change, and Google might be looking to take a major slice out of the small business web site market.

The Background

For many years Google has featured some sort of map-based listings in its organic search results, and over the years the format of the product, its name and its positioning has changed. Starting out as Google Places, the product has evolved and morphed to become in the most recent iteration Google My Business, which offers the business owner an ostensibly easier way to manage the profile for their business. The product is now tightly integrated with Google+, and from our experience is certainly easier to manage than it has been. Complaints abounded for previous iterations – business owners often found their details out of date, despite having updated them; claiming profiles for business was often a tortuous process; from time to time business profiles were hijacked and owners had to fight to get them back and there seemed little rhyme or reason to when, how and where these listings would show up in search results.

Sitting against these changes are two broad market developments:  firstly the decline of print-based local advertising and the growth of mobile. Looking at the first of those, for many years the Yellow Pages, or the Thomson Directory was the first port of call for anyone looking for a local service. Google’s growth and huge market dominance has – for want of a better description – utterly destroyed the Yellow Pages, leaving the old book format completely redundant. Whereas previously business owners could rely on the Yellow Pages to find customers and services respectively, nowadays Google is where people go, and Google AdWords has become the de facto source of business for many of these companies. As an example, I spoke to a locksmith in Edinburgh who happily (I’ll emphasise that: happily) pays Google around £600-£900 a month as it’s such a strong source of business.

In a slightly ironic twist of fate, the Yellow Pages morphed to become Yell.com, and from there became Hibu, which offered to manage Google AdWords campaigns and build up web sites on behalf of small businesses – thereby feeding the very company that had destroyed it.

The growth of mobile also plays an important role – users on mobile devices often use them to locate local services such as cafés, restaurants, service providers and others, and Google has worked hard to react to this. Search results are mobile-oriented, Ads are more suited to mobile devices and after Apple developed its own Maps product for iOS and Mac OS X, Google released an excellent Google Maps app which has a huge user base. The fight for eyeballs is clearly on, but what about the fight for revenue?

The Puzzle, and a possible solution

As I’ve mentioned, barring AdWords, all Google’s Local products are free, and to me it has been something of a conundrum that Google has never really tried to monetise the product as – let’s face it – they are very good at driving revenue from practically every single other product they put out. There’s clearly a market out there, as hibu’s existence attests, and other players such as Johnston Press are getting in on the act in the UK, so why not Google?

An eagle-eyed observer in the USA may have the answer: they recently noticed Google testing a completely paid-for set of Local Listing Ads, effectively turning a 100%-free product into a 100%-paid-for product. Cast your eye over the screenshot here and you’ll see three maps-based ads for ‘Stores for gas grills near you’, which features Lowe’s, hhgregg and Walmart. All three are ads, all three will cost the retailer if someone clicks.

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Of course, Google tests product variations all the time, so this on its own isn’t definitive, but if you consider some other recent developments and the language Google is using, we might be able to pick a path to a future where Google’s local business products become a substantial source of revenue, and the likes of hibu are squeezed even further.

Yesterday, Google published an article on their Webmasters blog titled “Bring your local business online — no website required!”. The advice goes on to tell small business owners that they don’t need to set up their own web site, rather they can simply use Google’s products and others to gain a place on the web, market themselves, engage customers and grow. This of course is entirely true – it’s entirely possible to build a profile for your business using Google My Business, TripAdvisor, Laterooms.com, LinkedIn, Yelp or whatever web site or directory is suitable for your business and do well from it.

However, and it’s a BIG however, if all these local businesses are using Google products to market themselves, and if a Google My Business or Google+ page becomes the central hub for a small business’s marketing, in my view it’s almost inconceivable Google will not want to monetise that activity, or in other words take a cut of the transactions and relationships that ensue. Google has already been enormously successful in its monetisation of web search traffic, and the huge recent developments in Google Shopping show both that there is plenty more to come in terms of innovation and there is also plenty more to come in terms of what will be free and what will be paid-for traffic.

The search engine is superb at understanding what is and is not a commercial search query, so whilst I’m wary of making sweeping predictions, I don’t think it will be long before we see the same intelligence being applied to local business’ Google+ and Google My Business Presences, and business owners being given the choice of paying Google for leads, enquiries and business, or staying free and finding themselves relatively invisible on Google properties.

Local SEO – End of the Road?

An elephant in the room with all of this is the impact on Local SEO and those who make their living providing such services to local businesses. Clearly, if Google ’s Local Listings move to a 100%-paid model, the landscape will shift dramatically, and the ability of Local search experts to promote their clients may diminish, which in turn would reduce their income. This is a larger subject area, and worthy of a deeper exploration, so watch out for a longer blog post on that in due course.

In the meantime, interesting times for all concerned!

New Search Strategy & Website for Chippendale School of Furniture

I’m delighted to announce the recent launch of a project we’ve been involved in for some months – a new web site for The Chippendale International School of Furniture, based in the beautiful Haddington countryside, not far from Edinburgh.

My first encounter with the school was on a dark, wet night in November last year when I ventured out to meet Anselm Fraser, the Founder and Principal, and Christopher Lamotte of Real Marketing, who led the project. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was completely amazed when I walked through the small round doorway into the warm, bustling workshop, where a full score of students were hard at work on their woodwork projects.

A panoramic photo of the Chippendale Furniture School workshop.

Panoramic photo of a huge woodworking workshop? No problem for the iPhone 5s.

Since then we’ve worked closely with Christopher and the team at Inigo Media to plan, design and develop the site. Built using WordPress, the site consolidates three previous sites into one, presenting a single international voice to the School’s highly varied international audience.

Our role was plan a new structure, content and optimisation strategy for the site, working with the extensive data available. This also involved creating a plan for the merger of the aforementioned three sites (one for each of the US, the UK and Spain) into a single domain.

Christoper had this to say of the launch:

The Chippendale International School of Furniture’s new website is much more international in outlook, combining our UK, US and Spanish websites all together in one larger international site. We have always attracted some international students, particularly from the US, however we want to significantly increase the proportion of our 22 students from overseas.  The new website, built by Inigo Media, should appeal to students from all around the world, as well as from across the UK.

The School has been a Scottish success story for over 25 years and is increasingly regarded as the UK’s leading furniture design, making and restoration college, especially for intense one year courses  – with the support of the team at Mackerel Media we aim to build on this considerable pedigree, and ensure we have a stronger presence globally.

Have a look at the site in all its brand-new glory at www.chippendaleschool.com.

Seasick Steve – Brilliant Integrated Online Marketing

SeasickThe word ‘integrated’ is used a huge amount these days by anyone and everyone in the marketing industry and a lot of the time it doesn’t really mean much at all. However, I saw a superb banner ad for Seasick Steve’s new album this morning and realised firstly how good banners can be and secondly, how good a real integrated campaign can be.

For those of you who have been under a rock (or a rusty ol’ combine) for the past few years, Seasick Steve is a blues guitarist and singer who made his first major public appearance on the Jools Holland show back in 2006. Since then his ‘authentic’ and pared-down music has found favour with a massive audience around the world. I saw him in Hyde Park earlier in the year and was hugely entertained by his sliding, twanging and hollerin’.

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We Have Been Busy

An internet marketing firm will always tell you that if you’re going to start blogging, write regularly and widely. However, in a classic case of cobbler’s children, our blog has been somewhat neglected of late.

The truth is that we’ve been very busy on some very interesting client projects and precious little time has been left for the blog. So, apologies to our regular readers. Unfortunately we can’t talk about the projects we’re working on – they’re strictly confidential – but when the right time does come we’ll be able to explain exactly what we have been up to. Until then, not a word!

Incidentally, we’ve just passed a year in business – the time has flown by. As always, thanks to our clients for their support and business and thanks to our colleagues and partners for their hard work.

Despite the enormous economic turmoil going on all around us, the digital sector (as far as we can see) remains relatively buoyant. We’re finding that the recession is positive for us, in that clients are looking to squeeze as much as they can from their marketing budgets and that those niggly SEO and PPC problems that were overlooked are now being given attention – all the more work for the likes of us.

For what it’s worth, we think the downturn will also be positive for the internet marketing industry as clients become much more selective about how they invest their money and with whom they do so. That will only lead to us all having to up our game, proving that we can and do deliver a return and showing clients exactly where their money is going.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to chip in and get the discussion going.

Making the Most of Local Review Web Sites

Here at Mackerel Towers, we’re big fans of a number of review-based web sites. We use them to aid our own choices and to aid our clients in making the most of the opportunities out there for locally-based promotion and in upping their search engine optimisation efforts.

One of the key considerations we espouse is maintaining a profile rather than simply setting it up. Why? Because then you’ll know what people are saying and be able to respond accordingly. However, problems can arise from time-to-time, as a recently settled lawsuit involving a review posted on Yelp.com about a Chiropractor in San Francisco. So, what should you be aware of, how can you make the best of it and what should you do when something goes wrong?

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Spotify – the iTunes Killer and new advertising platform in one?

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In the past I’ve been a bit of a die-hard when it comes to digital music. Although I’m a huge fan of iTunes and I’m on my second iPod, thus far I’ve been a little resistant to purchasing digital-only music. I have purchased a couple of iTunes plus albums, but apart from that everything in my collection has been ripped from CDs I’ve bought. Why am I boring you with this background? Well, I was recently introduced to Spotify and I think it might have completely turned my attitude to digital music upside-down. And, if it’s done that to me, chances are it will do the same for thousands, if not millions of other music-lovers.

But why? It totally removes the need for an on-disk music library. It has the potential to be an iTunes killer, and an Amazon MP3 killer, and in fact the death knell for any other download-based music service you’d care to mention. By eschewing the traditional model of downloading tracks to your PC or Mac, Spotify streams the music to you, on demand. Unlike the other ‘iTunes Killers’ that aim to replace the desktop application and/or  subvert DRM, Spotify totally changes eliminates the music-ownership model.

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