Out-thinking the competition

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Approximately 10 million websites, or just one per cent of all sites, use schema markup to improve their SEO according to Schema.org. Incidentally, this statistic was delivered to us from Search Engine Watch via Google’s featured snippet function — something that Schema.org could well have dominated if it had been marked up accordingly.

By Thomas Roden, junior account manager

Schema is one of the latest, greatest tools in a digital marketer’s toolkit, and it’s one that will only become more powerful in the years ahead. Essentially an intuitive means of making web page semantics easier for search engines and web crawling software to understand, it’s the key for many brands to capitalise on the growing number of digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Even if you don’t think that your target audience will necessarily use voice search to find information related to your brand, marking up pages with schema is invaluable in taking advantage of Google’s featured snippet function.

At the outset of the article, we cited Search Engine Watch as the source of a statistic from Schema.org. This is because Google’s algorithms identified that the article from Search Engine Watch was the most appropriate answer to the question of “how many sites use schema markup” and presented it in the featured snippet. This is despite the fact that the original source of the statistic is Schema.org. However, because the article on Search Engine Watch more accurately answers the search query, the Google algorithm considers this more relevant.

Most marketers and general search users will be familiar with the featured snippet area, as it appears above the organic search results with a pull-out quote answering the search query. Interestingly, these snippets are not necessarily taken from the search result that is ranking at number one, presenting an opportunity for marketers to leapfrog their competitors and reach what SEO specialists refer to as position zero.

Marketers can achieve this in two complementary ways. The first is to ensure that page content is relevant to what their target audience will be searching for. This can be done by identifying keywords, researching the long-tailed search queries typically associated with those keywords and then creating web copy that gives a simple, elegant answer.

Crucially, marketers need to understand the best format for these answers to ensure they are a strong contender for position zero. This will vary depending on the question posed by the user, ranging from a short Q&A response to a bulleted list of answers. Many digital marketers bring in SEO content specialists and digital PR agencies to improve the chances that their content hits the mark.

While using the right copy and answering the right question will significantly increase a brand’s chances of appearing in position zero, schema markup increase this likelihood.

For example, an article on “how to apply an industrial degreaser” could be written in a list format and marked with a HowTo schema, indicating to search engines that this entry is an informational one. From there, each entry would be marked according to whether it is a HowToSection or a HowToDirection, which allows the data to be clearly and easily distinguished.

With only one per cent of websites using schema markup, it’s the perfect complementary tool to help marketers get one step ahead of their competitors. By using schema alongside captivating copy that answers the questions your audience is searching for, marketers can earn the coveted position zero in search rankings — and be their audience’s first port of call for insight and information.

Three quick AdWords checks to carry out now

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Plants. Friends. Hair. High maintenance is never a good thing. Google AdWords campaigns certainly require ongoing maintenance, but it needn’t be unmanageable. Here are three quick checks you can do today, to ensure your campaign is maximising conversions.

Carla Mateus, senior account executive at Stone Junction.

Are searches relevant?
Your AdWords dashboard will show which search phrases are triggering ads to be shown on search engine results pages (SERPs). For example, if your website supplies industrial robots, you wouldn’t want your advert to be shown for ‘toy robots’. If you find that your searches aren’t relevant, you can add certain phrases to the negative keywords. In this case, you could add ‘toy’.

This list of negative keywords tells Google that your advert shouldn’t be shown for searches containing this term. As a result, it saves your ad budget for more relevant search terms that are more likely to convert.

Check the location
Are your adverts being shown to in the right location? Click the location tab to make sure. If you’re a local business, you don’t want to be spending budget on adverts outside of your local region. Equally, if you’re a global business, you don’t want to be excluding international target markets.

If you find the locations aren’t optimal. It’s an easy fix. Click the blue pencil icon in the location section of AdWords, select the campaign you’d like to update, and click the blue pencil icon to add relevant locations.

Click ‘Ads & Extensions’ to make sure your ads are making use of all the available extensions to your advert. The most important is the call extension. This presents ads with your company phone number, so that mobile users can call your business at the touch of a button.

Adding the call extension is easy. Click the blue plus icon and then ‘+ call extension’. These numbers can be altered based on the location of the searcher. For example, showing the UK number to UK searchers, and the U.S. number to U.S. searchers.

For help managing your AdWords campaign, give us a call on +44 (0) 1785 225416 or email me directly with any questions at carla@stonejunction.co.uk.

Getting the most from Yoast

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In past blog posts, we’ve explained the importance in optimising websites to rank highly on search engine results pages. However, for WordPress hosted sites, there is a nifty plugin that brings big return in terms of SEO ranking insight. Yoast has been described by GoDaddy and Forbes as one of the most powerful WordPress applications available. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer.

Jade Ziola-Sammons, senior account executive at Stone Junction

Yoast was created way back in 2006 by Joost de Valk in the Netherlands. The software currently runs on more than eight million websites and on nearly twelve per cent of the top one million sites in the world.

The main feature is a traffic light system on the WordPress admin and page screen. The plug-in indicates, in real time, the effectiveness of your optimisation and gives suggestions on what you could do to improve it. This includes analysing the readability of the copy using the Flesch Reading Ease score system and showing the top five words or phrases used on the page.

The plug-in provider also has an extensive FAQ section and knowledge base on its website as well as a range of YouTube video tutorials.

While the free version offers ample tools and tips, the Premium version, which is £79 annually, certainly packs a punch in terms of added benefits. Access to 24/7 support, link suggestions and optimisation analysis are incredibly valuable tools that will supply you with the competitive SEO edge.

Using it on some client sites as part of our extensive SEO management offering, it is hugely satisfying to transform a page that started out with a red sad face, into one that is green and happy.

Of course, we appreciate SEO can be a daunting and time intensive task for some. That’s why we take care of it all for you. Whether you use WordPress or not, the Stone Junction team can support you in making your page stand out in web rankings. To talk through your SEO needs, give us a call on +44(0)1785 225416 or email sayhello@stonejunction.co.uk.

E-mail marketing tips you may not know

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73 per cent of marketers rated e-mail as the best digital channel for return on investment (ROI), according to the Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census. This is no surprise considering e-mail marketing allows you to place your message directly in front of your target audience. Here are three e-mail marketing tips you may not have thought of, which could help you increase your ROI. 

By Ellie Clifford, account executive

E-mail marketing is a great way to help you increase brand awareness, website sign ups and sales. To ensure your e-mails are opened, read and actioned, there are certain things you should do.

Call to action
Your e-mail may well impress the reader, but if they don’t know what to do next, how can you expect them to do it? If you want them to visit your website, download a document or buy a product, give them a big button to click on. If you want them to get in touch, make it clear how they should do so and why.

Optimise for mobile devices
Do you read your e-mails on your mobile or a desktop? A study by Litmus found that 46 per cent of all opened e-mails were opened on mobiles, so it is essential you optimise your e-mails for these devices.

The key is to keep it simple. Keep all images no wider than 600 pixels and make sure your text is large enough to see on a small screen and displayed in a single column. And don’t forget — the call to action must be clear and easy to find.

A/B testing
You should continually work to improve your e-mail marketing strategy. Perhaps try sending your e-mails on a different day or at a different time of day, or try a new layout or a different way of addressing the reader.

However, if you change more than one thing at once, you won’t know which change has had the effect. Change one thing at a time. If it has a positive impact, maintain the change and if it has a negative impact, revert to the original. This takes patience but is a great way to maximise the potential of your e-mails.

So, if you would like to get more ROI from your e-mail marketing, or if you would like help getting started with e-mail marketing, e-mail me at ellie@stonejunction.co.uk.

Tips for positioning your technical brand

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Whether you’re a pioneer in polymers or a savvy systems integrator, you want your business to be the frontrunner in your industry. However, this can be easier said than done. One of the best ways to stand out from the competition is to position your brand as an industry leader. Here are our top three technical marketing tips to help B2B marketers get started with positioning technical companies.

By Molly Gould, senior account executive

Be authoritative 

If you want to be a leading brand, you need to speak like a leader that is authoritative on industry topics. 

This should be reflected in marketing material copy. This copy should be written in a voice of power and authority that positions your business and brand as trustworthy and, above all else, the expert. Your voice should take the conversations in your industry forward and add something of value to readers, positioning you as a thought provoker and leader. 

Remember, you also shouldn’t just be the expert on your own products and technologies. Focus on the issues affecting your customers that your products and service solve, and be the expert that confidently consults and guides them to solving their problems.

Find your niche 
There are niches in every industry, so being as specific in your area of expertise is crucial in positioning yourself correctly. This is particularly important in engineering, where specialisms — whether it’s electrical or structural — are highly diverse. But identifying your correct industry niche is only part of finding your brand’s position. 

You will still need something that stands you apart from your competition and that makes you unique. This can be controlled with your messaging on specific industry issues. Crucially, you need to have a unique stance on industry issues. For example, engineering companies shouldn’t hold a general stance on trends such as industry 4.0. Saying something different, and focusing on specific facets of the issue, can set a brand apart. 

This may take some time to craft but it is crucial to create that point of difference, not only to make you stand out but to also elevate you above others. This will make your brand memorable to both current and potential customers.

Build a profile 
So, you have a voice and you have a niche. Now, you need to build your profile. Once you have established who you want to talk to, you need to map their journey from where they can be reached, at what times, to what media they consume. Effectively, you need to truly understand your stakeholders. 

Once you have mapped and tracked them, you need to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time to communicate your brand to them and, of course, let them know what you stand for. For B2B brands, specific trade media titles are the prime location to reach target customers. In many cases, a full-page feature in Design Engineering magazine is more valuable to an electronics components manufacturer than a mention in The Guardian.

These tools and tricks combined will get you off the starting block and, if you get all three right, you will be well on your way to becoming a leader in your industry.  

If you need some coaching to find your voice or a hand with developing your brand, give Stone Junction a call on 01785 225416 or e-mail me at molly@stonejunction.co.uk.

An idiot's guide to idioms

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Being fluent in a language requires more than just knowing the meaning of words. In addition, there are fixed English phrases with meanings that cannot be inferred simply by translating the individual words. 

To translate, or not to translate? When taking your PR content into international waters, making sure that idioms are not lost in translation is important for maintaining continuity. 
International PR, multilingual, content PR

By Courtney Cowperthwaite, account executive

Idioms are a more casual way of talking about an idea and can be more concise than alternative wording.

Take the well-known phrase in the doghouse, for example. If worded literally, we could say “somebody is angry with this person for something they did or said”. To put it idiomatically, this alternative doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Lost in translation
Companies often commit huge amounts of time and money to the development of their messaging, carefully crafting campaigns to appeal to their audiences. However, messages do not always translate well into a new target language.

In 2014, Coca-Cola faced its own marketing blunder when the company attempted to contribute to New Zealand’s push for increasing the number of Māori speakers in the country. However, by emblazoning vending machines with the slogan “Kia Ora, Mate”, Coca-Cola actually greeted consumers with the phrase “Hello, Death”.

A well-placed popular idiomatic expression, perhaps tweaked for your product or service, is a common and highly effective base for a marketing slogan. The problem is that a common phrase in your home dialect and region may have a very different equivalent somewhere else, or have none at all.

For example, if something is expensive in England, it may cost an arm and a leg. In France, the same product would coûter les yeux de la tête – meaning that it costs the eyes in your head. Although subtle, this example demonstrates how directly translating idioms risks losing the meaning of the phrase. When considering languages such as Chinese or Russian, smart plays on words could be even trickier to translate.

Translation vs transcreation

After thinking about idioms, it’s easy to picture how confusing some cultural cornerstones might be to international audiences. Instead of solely thinking about effective translation, companies should also consider adopting a transcreation strategy. This involves modifying copy, to keep the spirit of the original message without leaving room for confusion.

Successful transcreation of your brand and marketing messages will ensure they have the same power as they do in their home market. It can be challenging enough to successfully launch products or services in an international market, without something as fundamental as language stifling your chances. Although they’re often a means of injecting some casual humour into your copy, effectively conveying idioms is an essential part of maintaining the continuity of your campaign.

Our multilingual team has the expertise to take your PR campaign to new places. We fluently speak eight languages, so there’s no need to get lost in translation. To find out more about how our international PR services can help your next global campaign, give me a call on +44 (0)1785 225 416 or e-mail me at courtney@stonejunction.co.uk

A famous scientific face

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Scientific PREarlier this week, the Bank of England revealed 817 nominees for the new £50 note, which is set to feature a British figure who has made a considerable contribution to science. The list includes computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, early favourite, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the physician who discovered penicillin, Alexander Fleming, as well as several lesser known and more surprising entries. 

By Leah Elston-Thompson, senior account executive at Stone Junction

The new individual will replace the individuals who are currently featured, Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who were famous for their work during the industrial revolution.

Since the nominations opened four weeks ago, the Bank of England has received 174,112 nominations. To be considered, the nominee must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK in some way.

Some surprising people have met the criteria and made the list — including Margaret Thatcher. Before becoming Prime Minister, Thatcher studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and worked as a research chemist at food company J. Lyons and Co.

The list also includes some big names including Stephen Hawking, expert on black holes and Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. Bookmaker William Hill currently puts Stephen Hawking as the favourite, with odds of 7/4. Next in line is Dorothy Hodgkin, the Nobel prize winning chemist, at 4/1.

The public can continue to nominate scientists until December 14, after which, the decision will be made by the bank’s Banknote Character Advisory Committee. If there’s a famous British scientist that meets the bank’s criteria who has inspired you, why not nominate them?

Female role models
After the addition of Jane Austen to the £10 note last year, I think it would be interesting to feature a female scientist on the next new note. Women continue to be underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and we shouldn’t underestimate the power of strong female role models.

Of the shortlisted individuals, over 600 are men and almost 200 are women. Ada Lovelace, Dorothy Hodgkin and Rosalind Franklin are all strong contenders for the position.

While we can’t get you or your company onto the new £50 note, we can certainly get you in the media. For more information on Stone Junction’s scientific PR services, give me a call on 01785 225416 or e-mail me at leah@stonejunction.co.uk.