SEO – the ugly duckling of online?

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) has been around for decades. Officially beginning back in 1990, it wasn’t until 2001 that many saw the real value of SEO. However, 15 years on and this value is doubted by some, refuted by others and the rest have merely given up.

But should this be the case? Personally, I don’t believe so.

SEOphoto credit to http://www.bullhorn.com

It seems SEO has become misunderstood. The forgotten toy of the digital arena.

When you first had it, it was exciting, intriguing, you couldn’t get enough of it. But as time wore on your interest wavered. Newer toys were coming out, making yours seem less shiny and perfect, you spent more time with  the newer toys, and so less time with the old one. As time with the old toy dwindled, you forgot about it more and more until suddenly no one was playing with it at all.

So, when you came back to it after a while, remembering that toy you used to be so fond of, it seems even more dilapidated and unappealing than you remember. You look back fondly on how you once thought it was top notch but figure that as time has gone on it’s now outdated. But really, time away from it has made it dusty, its quality diminishing as it has gone unattended to, until all that time you played with it becomes a distant memory to you both.

After that, you do a big clear out and deciding the old toy is only taking up precious space. It’s best just to throw it out, it wasn’t any good anyway. SEO is boxed up and sent away, but that nostalgic feeling remains – and one day you will look back and regret ever giving it up.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Many believe SEO is difficult, provides little value or costs a tonne, but this just isn’t the case.

It takes some work, yes, but anything worth doing will take time and it really doesn’t have to cost much if you know what you’re doing. If you find it’s providing little value or appearing ineffective perhaps something isn’t quite right and you need a bit of extra guidance.

Below I’m going to dispel three common myths that are hindering your SEO, to start you on your way.
  1. Many believe they can just stuff numerous tags and keywords and that will make their SEO effective because more really is more right? Wrong!
  2. The same ‘more is more’ idea is also being applied to link. Companies are continually linking to other sites and their own but not thinking about the quality of these links. For instance some blogger on page 2 of Google is unlikely to provide the quality link you need. Equally, if you’re linking an ‘SEO’ story to a story about your favourite recipe this is not going to do much more than annoy users – keep it relevant, keep it factual and keep it quality. But also, keep it in the text – don’t just add in random links wherever you want – figure out a way to keep the text flowing and hyperlink in the text. Don’t break your flow just to put in a link, it won’t be recognised as important or relevant.
  3. Just create content and, if SEO is good, it will all be a success. That’s just not true – you need to know your audience otherwise the content will be unappealing and quickly people will be turned off. If people are turned off, guess what? Google will be too.

If you’re still in doubt over SEO, or would like more information, there’s going to be a great, free event in Guildford, Thursday 7th July, where top SEO expert, Simon Schneiders, will shed light on SEO and how property company, Zoopla, went from zero to £1 million in just seven years with SEO.

Full disclosure: DigitalSurrey is a subsidiary of theblueballroom – an internal communications agency I work for. However, I am under no obligation to promote this event outside of work or across my own channels and am not paid to do so. This blog has been written of my own accord and with no payment, bribe, cohesion or request.

What is a friend?

Today is national best friends day and it got me thinking about my best friends, and why they are so dear to me.

Growing up we have a lot of friends, some come and go – we drift apart, we fall out, life gets in the way. But others walk into our lives and we know, whether immediately or in time, that our lives will never be the same.

Over time, we can’t imagine life without them, they are our rocks, our family.

But what separates these people from the ones who leave our lives? What makes a best friend?

For me,  my best friends are the ones who are there, without hesitation, through thick and thin. Who will help me out without question, and who would destroy anyone who dare hurt me. Who I would go through hell and back for. They are the people who are loyal, who say;

“Ugh, she’s got so ugly!” Or “have you seen what he’s doing now?” Just to cheer you up. Or the ones who tell you everything will be okay, offering you a cup of tea to take the pain away. The ones who don’t even have to think about your birthday because they know you so well. Hell, you even buy each other silly gifts at random times just ’cause.

They are also the people who will tell you if you’re being stupid, who make an effort with your other friends or partner and know you have to wait and see for yourself if they’re no good. They are the people who never let distance, work, or life force you apart. They are the people you stayed up all night with, telling stupid jokes and watching crap TV, who even as you grew stayed by your side telling you the same  stupid jokes and reminding you who you have always been.

They are the ones reminding you of your embarrassing stories, always telling the most embarrassing first to everyone you know.

They are the ones that pick you up when you fall, raise you when you feel low. The ones who can tell when you’re lying, when you’re not okay, when you need a helping hand.

They are your home away from home, your rock, your safe place. They are your best friend and without them life would be downright dull.

So, to my best friends today I say, I love you, even if you can be a pain in my butt, even if you’re the ones making fun of me, I  couldn’t imagine my life without you. Thank you.

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Is it time businesses start considering pet bereavement leave?

Employers often provide bereavement leave for staff if they have lost a family member. But, what if that family member is a cat, dog, or hamster even?

It still remains to be the case that the loss of an animal is not considered to justify leave. Yet, the death of a beloved pet can be a huge loss to the owner, and in many cases, illicit a grief similar to the loss of a person.

Many employees do not have the courage to ask for leave while they cope with their loss and employers do not think to offer it. But, according to research, this could be detrimental to well-being and engagement, as well as productivity.

A study from the University of Hawaii found that of the 106 pet owners interviewed, 30 percent reported grief that lasted six months or longer. 12 percent reported severe grief that resulted in major life disruption.

Furthermore, many owners report feeling a loss of their childhood or their children’s childhood, because as many of us know, a pet is a strong presence growing up. On top of all this, psychologists state that we see our pets as self-objects, meaning we imagine they have our own traits. We think we understand their feelings and they understand ours, making the loss feel deeper and more personal than many would expect.

I believe an employee who has not had the time to process their loss is likely to be unfocused and distracted at work. This can lead to mistakes, a reduction in productivity, and a less engaged employee. Additionally, the stress of loss can lead to actual sickness causing them to take sick leave, whilst parents may find they have to take time off to care for their grieving child. This can mean taking time out of their own holiday leave or taking the day unpaid, which inevitably results in stress and further upset.

The business case for employee engagement and a focus on well-being has long been established. A happy worker is a productive, loyal and motivated one. Employees carrying on under the weight of loss is not likely to produce these results. Furthermore, perhaps by offering this leave you could find candidates are more attracted to the company as a caring one, with such traits becoming increasingly desired among workers. It could also help retain employees by proving to them that you care about their lives outside of work, keeping their well-being at the heart of the business.

I can understand why many are unsure about introducing pet bereavement leave – for instance, it can be hard to know where to draw the line or how severe the grief must be. But, with many companies beginning to introduce PBL and proving it can be a success, is it time more companies start considering pet bereavement leave?

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