In the Office

SEO: Good writing is more important than keywords

How to write SEO contentDespite recent news to the contrary, good writing has, and always will be, important for those in the communications field. In fact, in a recent poll by PRWeek, respondents say PR majors should continue to take advanced writing courses.

A big reason to focus on writing skills – SEO. Over the past six months, we have seen Google’s Panda 4.0 make strong writing even more crucial. Keyword stuffing won’t cut it any more.

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The Week in Marketing: Super Bowl Ads, Real-Time Marketing and the SEO-Social Media Connection

1. Brands Take Advantage of #Blizzardof2015 with Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is a popular trend among today’s marketers. Brands are getting smarter about leveraging sensationalized events such as the latest snowstorm or State of the Union Address as an opportunity to get their name out. The latest use of this technique came this week with #Snowmageddon2015, also known as #Blizzardof2015. The snowstorm might not have been historic as it was predicted to be, but that didn’t stop brands from seeing the opportunity at hand. Dairy Queen, DiGiorno Pizza, Honda, McDonald’s, and Netflix are just some of the notable brands that took advantage of the snowfall.

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Marketing All Things Manly and Cool

SwagDaddy logo

We are excited to be representing, a new ecommerce site dedicated to providing the best in guy gear.

First we conducted a competitive landscape analysis and developed an integrated consumer engagement strategy, involving SEO, social media, as well as blogger and media relations. Now, we are working along side SwagDaddy to implement that strategy.

SwagDaddy selected Howard/Merrell to be its agency of record and launch the new ecommerce website, help increase brand visibility and site traffic. As SwagDaddy continues to grow as a brand, it will seek further integration and involvement with its followers, a task with which we have a history of success.

We enjoy working with entrepreneurs at SwagDaddy, who allow us to help them strategize and implement the marketing behind the vision for the company. Check them out:

Developing A Killer SEO Strategy

What does SEO mean anymore? Is it still relevant? I mean, it’s 2014, after all. We’ve seen the rising tide of keyword optimization and SERP reports finally start to ebb. Did SEO go with it? Let’s think about that for a second.

Businesses still exist. Potential customers are still out there seeking out solutions for their problems. Search engines still exist too, and they probably will for quite a while. So shouldn’t companies still try to compete for real estate on Google’s front page? That question is an easy one to answer – the bigger question is “How?” More »

Google Hummingbird Update: Friend Or Foe?

Google, the not-so-secret ruler of the Internet, has completely changed its search algorithm-without anyone noticing. This week Google announced that its new algorithm, Hummingbird, has been running for a month right under our noses.  This new algorithm, named for being “precise and fast,” is the biggest change in algorithm since 2001, according to Google search chief Amit Singhal. More »

Looking for: Digital Associate Account Coordinator

Social media, digital analytics and SEO are key parts of any digital campaign. We know it and so do the companies we support. Help us develop and implement digital programs for our clients.

We are searching for a Digital Associate Account Coordinator.
Responsibilities include the development and management of clients’ social media profiles, blogs and online content, as well as assisting with the preparation, analysis and tracking of marketplace, technology and consumer demographic trends both within and across multiple industries. Ideal candidates are strong writers, who have a basic understanding of digital marketing strategies including search marketing, ecommerce, lead generation and web analytics.

A bachelor’s degree is required.

For a full job description click here.

Weekly Wrapup #2

JESS3-Brian Solis Brandsphere1. Twitter reaches 100 million active monthly users

Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, announced on Thursday that the platform is broadening its user base. According to Mr. Costolo, there are now 100 million worldwide active Twitter users monthly — up 82 percent since Jan. 1 — and half of them log in every day (with some 55 percent of them being mobile users). What constitutes “using”? Apparently 40 percent of them don’t tweet, or haven’t tweeted in the last month. He also noted that Twitter is on pace to add another 26 million active users in the next four months, equaling the total added in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined. What are your thoughts on the micro-blogging platform’s future? Read the full article at Ad Age and tweet us @hmandp.

2. Brandology – what’s in the mix?

With the vast assortment of online media opportunities, a brand has the opportunity to pick and choose where it decides to operate. Among so many assets there are five different types of media according to Brian Solis and JESS3 – paid, owned, earned, promoted and shared. By combining these types of media each brand’s “Brandsphere” can allow the brand to drive online experiences, conversation, and create new opportunities for the company. Find out more at Pop-ology.

3. Duke Study reveals social media marketing spending is on the rise

Social media is proving its worth to marketers. In fact, according to a new Duke University survey, marketing exec’s are planning to increase spending in social media in their overall marketing strategies, from the current level of 7.1 percent of their overall marketing budget to 10.1 percent during the next year. They also expect to see this percentage increase to 17.5 percent in the next five years. Despite the data, many U.S. companies still have not integrated social media into their overall marketing strategies. I think it’s safe to say that social media is not just trend, it’s a tool and for many a necessity. Check out the Triangle Business Journal for details.

4. Public Relations proves valuable in pharmaceutical brand growth


While pharmaceutical marketers have long used public relations to support their brands, recent field research from Best Practices, LLC suggests few companies have utilized the full potential of PR campaigns across the entire product lifecycle – preparing, launching, growing and extending the commercial life – of a brand.

According to the study, the phases that showed the most effective and active use of PR tactics are the pre-launch, launch and brand-building years. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of all research participants assessed many PR tools – both new and traditional – to be effective during launch and brand-building years.

5. Google works to ensure clean SEO business practices prevail

In the past, it’s been difficult for honest companies to rank well against some businesses using questionable SEO tactics to move their pages to the top. But that’s all changing as Google works feverishly to ensure that users get the most relevant results, eliminating scandalous SEO practices and rewarding innovative and engaging online marketing. Since Google’s 2011 Panda update, “black hatters” are suffering the repercussions of years of questionable practices, and ethical marketers are seeing their sites moving into the places they deserve. There are still important technical SEO principles to keep in mind, but since Panda, transparency, authenticity and creativity are more important than they’ve ever been.  Three cheers for the SEO good guys!

Image by – JESS3 & Brian Solis Brandsphere

Learn to leverage press release SEO

In an ideal business world, an organization has successfully increased search engine optimization (SEO), is now directing traffic to its website, and has created a salient brand. However, in the real world, companies are constantly looking for ways to improve their SEO and web traffic.

I recently listened in on a webinar from Business Wire, presented by Joseph Muller, Business Wire product manager for Enhanced Online News, and Alison MacDonald, Business Wire account executive. The session, entitled “Beginner’s Guide to Search Optimization for Press Releases” discussed leveraging press releases as an additional method to build SEO.

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Creating a Website? Improve Your SEO

The most important thing to keep in mind when optimizing your website is the page title.

According to Chris Haddad, inbound marketing consultant at HubSpot, a page title is an important aspect search engines look at to figure out what the site is about. How effective or ineffective your page title is will determine how strongly it is pulled up in the appropriate search. More »

The Share Economy

Brian Solis recently published an article addressing the shift of referral traffic from traditional search to social networks. He notes that more people are sharing and finding resources using various social sources.  Again, the trust factor comes in to play as people are more likely to take recommendations (in the form of links, brand mentions, product reviews) from peers than from a paid search or faceless results page.  Search optimization cannot be ignored outside of the traditional big-name engines.

A few of my favorite points from the article:

  • In the share economy, currency is defined by likes, links, retweets, updates, comments, shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, MySpace, et al.
  • With the advent of social feeds… consumers can more easily rely on trusted personal relationships to determine what’s worthwhile to read, watch, play and buy online.
  • Create paths that define and engender the experience you desire with destinations and calls to action integrated to close the loop.
  • By creating a connected social experience, we activate our content and community and empower a new genre of branded information catalysts.