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Professional Digital Marketing from Aqueous Digital - Page 2
Jonathan Guy - Aqueous Digital

Aqueous Digital marks anniversary with £1m vision

We are always happy with a bit of good publicity and the following press release is a bit of a celebration for us. We turned 5 last week and to celebrate we thought it would be nice to look to the future and to our plans for expansion.

A digital agency is celebrating its fifth anniversary with record turnover and plans to triple in size over the next three years.

Aqueous Digital was established in June 2011 by Jonathan Guy, who will be a keynote speaker on search engine optimisation and digital marketing at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool.

The business, founded in June 2011, generated revenues of £300,000 in the year to October and aims to reach £1m by the end of 2019.

Alongside SEO and digital marketing services, Aqueous provides its clients with pay-per-click and reputation management.

Aqueous, which has Google Partner status, employs six staff and is based at The Heath Business & Technical Park in Runcorn.

Its nationwide client base ranges from professional services firms such as solicitors and accountants to hire companies, colleges, online retailers and IT support businesses.

Jonathan, who has more than 30 years’ experience of sales and marketing and previously spent over 20 years at Yell Group, said: “We have achieved steady and sustainable growth in our first five years and we are now looking to accelerate our expansion.

“The digital sector has seen massive growth and this is likely to continue.

“Over 50 per cent of searches in the UK are now on mobile devices, almost 20 per cent of searches on Android phones are by voice. This fundamentally changes the way we have to optimise websites to help our clients’ rankings.

“At Aqueous we are very confident that the future will continue to provide opportunities to deliver additional value for our customers.

“Digital is becoming more complicated by the day, but our packages take away the worry that businesspeople have in understanding and keeping up with the changes.

“Added to that, we have invested a significant sum in technology over the past 12 months to enable us to double our output and keep ahead of the competition.”

Aqueous Digital Birthday

5 years on, how has search and SEO changed?

Today, Aqueous Digital celebrates its 5th birthday. It’s quite a milestone; five years is a long time in the world of digital marketing. As one of the most rapidly changing industries, it can be a challenge to keep up with what’s going on, let alone stay one step ahead.

Fortunately for us, we’ve grown year-on-year since 2011. We’ve had three office moves to make room for new staff and we’ve built a steady portfolio of clients with a 90% plus retention rate. We’re proud of these achievements, particularly as more web design agencies move into the online marketing space.

So what are the major trends in online marketing today, and how has this affected the way businesses reach their audience in our new, digitally-dominated era?

The best companies can adapt

Success online means being willing and able to adapt to ever-changing circumstances in the quest to occupy that hallowed ground of page one on Google, often for an ever growing list of high volume search terms.

For us, it’s a question of never taking our eye off the ball. Search engines are a law unto themselves, with regular – and often unannounced – algorithm changes. In truth, only Google really knows Google, though there are many so-called SEO experts who will try to tell you otherwise.

The rest of us combine the latest knowledge of Google with sound tried-and-trusted marketing techniques in the hope of building our clients’ businesses online. It’s rarely the realm of magic and overnight success, and more akin to a sensible yet creative well-executed strategy.

The good thing is that we’ve seen consistent good practice will keep a company on the first page of Google, regardless of the box of tricks and quick-fire techniques employed by their competitors.

Artificial Intelligence is the future

Google Rank Brain Artificial IntelligenceMany companies are now looking to integrate artificial intelligence into product development. Although true AI is still a long way off, the use of ‘machine learning’ is very much a product of our time. Machine learning, as the name suggests, is where a computer teaches itself rather than being taught by humans or following data heavy programming.

Of course, Google is already ahead of the game – late last year it announced it had developed RankBrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence system. RankBrain is one part of Google’s algorithm that’s used to help process its search results. According to an article in Search Engine Land, RankBrain is designed to help better interpret multi-word or long-tail queries to find the best pages for the searcher.

‘Google can see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches to understand how they’re actually similar to each other. This learning, in turn, allows it to better understand future complex searches and whether they’re related to particular topics. Most important it can then associate these groups of searches with results that it thinks searchers will like the most.’

The rise and rise of localised search

Being found for a localised search is increasingly important, as recent research by Google found. Their study showed that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. Importantly, 18 percent of local searches lead to sales, compared to 7 percent for non-local searches.

For businesses looking to take a share of this highly valuable and potentially repetitive custom, this has had serious implications for the way in which they approach their online marketing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a multi-national high street retailer or a small, one-town store, your customers expect to be able to find you online and get directions, store opening hours and a host of other information, all at the touch of a button.

Everything is mobile

Mobile phoneAccording to Ofcom , smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online. Two-thirds of the population now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two hours every day. In fact, we now spend almost twice as long online with our smartphones than on laptops and personal computers.

This trend has implications for companies marketing themselves online. It’s no longer enough to have a good website, you have to have a responsive website. A responsive website is one which alters the way its displays information based upon the device being used to access it. A mobile-friendly website will be designed with a smaller screen view and touch screen navigation in mind.

Plus, because mobile-friendly sites make for a better user experience, Google now uses this as a ranking factor and as a way of improving its own user experience. Visit any search results page and you’re likely to see the ‘mobile friendly’ label against a selection of results.

Increase of paid-for options in search

Not so long ago, Google displayed three Adwords at the top of its results page and a long list of Adwords on the right-hand side. Now, there is a myriad of options open to any company with an online advertising budget.

Just a few months ago, Google added a fourth Adword slot to the top of its results page, and a further three Adwords at the bottom. It removed the right-hand side ad panel and now only shows ad displays from Google Shopping when it feels it would benefit the searcher.

No doubt, this continual flexing of its advertising power muscles will continue to evolve. For companies operating in competitive marketplaces, there’s no getting away from it – for competitive search terms the first page of Google is a crowded place. Organic real estate is being crowded out by paid for options and long tail organic is now the holy grail for many companies.

Social media became the place to become famous

Facebook logoSocial media is, without a doubt, one of the most influential marketing channels available today, and Facebook leads the way.

The most recent research on Smart Insights says that 63% of smartphone owners use the Facebook app on an average of 15 days per month. However, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest – these are all social media channels which get phenomenal levels of engagement. In the business environment, there are many LinkedIn advocates who swear by the platform as one to not only promote themselves and their business but as a great lead generation tool.

The result is that marketers have had to re-think the way they reach and influence their audience, hence the rise in social media and content marketing roles across the digital sector. Many marketing teams now comprise social media specialists – there’s certainly an art to building an audience and turning it into your biggest fan base.

What are your thoughts on the biggest challenges facing online marketers today? And what trends do you see on the horizon? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Customer Retention

Mythbusting Customer Service; less is definitely not more!

Have you ever been in the situation where the phones go quiet and you assume it’s because all your customers are so happy with your service that they are happy to leave you alone to carry on?Sometimes it can be true, but quite often it can be the prelude to customers leaving. This amazing infographic below from

Sometimes it can be true, but quite often it can be the prelude to customers leaving. This amazing infographic below from

This amazing infographic below from Salesforce was created in 2013 but still rings true today. Most customers with a problem simply don’t tell you about it until it’s too late.

It’s a commonly held business adage that it costs less to keep a customer than it does to get a new one, so what could you be doing to retain your customers? Could your website design and layout be of help? How about your online presence? Think about all your customer touch points and see if there’s a way to improve any or all of them.

5-customer-service-myths

 

 

SEO & PPC

The magic of combining SEO and PPC together to deliver more sales to your business

Did you know that by running SEO and PPC campaigns together you could double your conversions overnight?

We use this strategy with so many customers that it seems hard to conceive of anyone doubting the validity of this but if you are still doubting that there is a benefit, take a look at this infographic from CJG Digital Marketing in the Philippines, who have neatly summed up the main advantages.

One of the main benefits, of course, is that with PPC you actually get to see the keyword data which is routinely hidden in Organic search and this alone is generally worth the cost of the PPC campaign. This data is hugely useful for optimising the main pages on your website as you get to see what people are really typing into search engines.

Does this list make sense or have you got any others you can add to it? Let us know in the comments underneath.

10 Amazing Results of Combining SEO and PPC (Infographic) - An Infographic from CJG Digital Marketing

Embedded from CJG Digital Marketing

If you need help with your PPC campaign then call us on 0800 285 1424 and let us review your campaign for free.

User at computer

20 simple tips to optimise your PPC campaigns

Targeting the people who want the products or services you sell is fundamental to online marketing, and Pay Per Click (PPC) is a great way of doing this.

The problem, however, is that far too many business owners are seduced by the Google ‘free money’ offer and give it a go, only to be disappointed. Before they know it they’ve burned through hundreds of pounds (or dollars) of cash with nothing to show for it.

Sound familiar?

If you can relate to this then perhaps the following infographic from Marketing Infographics might help.

Published in 2015, we like this one as it has 20 actionable tips at the bottom which can help you to focus on what is important and make a difference to your PPC campaigns.

Get it right and it can be the difference between burning cash and making a profit.

Remember, PPC adverts appear at the top far more frequently than organic results and almost half of searchers can’t tell the difference between paid and organic adverts.

So go on, give PPC a try and if you have already tried and found it didn’t work then speak to a Google Partner agency like us and let us help you turn your fortunes around

ppc-optimisation-infographic

Website Security

Want to secure your WordPress website? Here’s a simple checklist

With over a quarter of the world’s websites being created on WordPress these days, it has become the number one target for hackers.

Despite the WordPress framework being a secure environment, the addition of themes and plug ins creates an instant vulnerability for most sites. There are various ways of mitigating against these threats and the following infographic from Wordfence does a good job of describing the sort of things you should be considering when securing your website.

By coincidence, it also happens to describe all the features of the current Wordfence plug in. They are not the only ones to produce a security plug in for WordPress but Wordfence is definitely one of the best.

How-Best-In-Class-WordPress_Security-Plugins-Protect-Your-Website

The Evil of Negative SEO

Why is your WordPress website vulnerable to hackers? This infographic will tell you

It seems like hardly a day goes by without a story about website hacking, data leaking and the business problems that arise from this activity.

If you have a WordPress website then the dangers of a hack attack are even more real as WordPress can be extremely vulnerable to certain types of attack.

The problem arises from the fact that over a quarter of the world’s websites are now on WordPress, and with the same logic that hackers used previously, designing viruses for Microsoft products as most of the world were on PC’s, today they are devising hacks for WordPress.

The key question though, is how do the hackers know what to attack?

We particularly liked this infographic from the fabulous people at Wordfence which shows you quite clearly, who is hacking, what they are looking for and by default, what you should be locking down.

infographic-who_is_attacking_your_wordpress_website

google-local-pack-filters

Mobile is shaping our future more than you might think, and removing ‘free’ from Google’s vocabulary

The thing about mobile traffic is that local really does become local. It doesn’t matter where you live, local is where you are standing at any point in time

As an example, local to me is my house and where I live but when I come to work in Runcorn, local is a completely different place. In fact, I don’t know the local environment near my work half as well as I know the local environment near my home. It stands to reason really as I come to work, spend all day here and then go home. Generally, I don’t feel the need to venture out for anything.

So when I want to find a local restaurant, or locksmith, or car valeting company in Runcorn, I have to start searching.

If I use Google to search from my desktop it already knows where I am based on my IP address, but other search engines struggle as they don’t geo locate me in the same way.

On a mobile, everything changes.

My mobile GPS coordinates are available to my phone and as such they are available to my search capabilities on the phone. Google knows this and cleverly uses this data to send me results which are truly local.

google-local-pack-filters

image courtesy of SEO Roundtable

This means that if I happen to go to London for the day, or Southampton, or Edinburgh, then I can simply use my phone to find the services I need locally.

Google have been developing a lot of functionality recently around the local services, the local pack in the results and as we wrote a few months ago, the way that local information will later be used to monetise these listings for Google.

In the US Google are testing a new set of filters which are aimed to improve the way this looks, as you can see on the right.

Key here is that you can further filter the results you see so you can include or exclude businesses based on your own criteria such as distance, opening hours or ratings.

At present this is only a test but our expectations are that this, or something like it, will soon become the mainstay of the local offering from Google.

Google knows that vast numbers of searches are done daily for local goods and services and the better it gets at delivering and refining these results the more opportunity it has to introduce its advertising platform into these results. Of course, it may first need to define exactly what it means by ‘top rated’ so we all have a chance of getting there, but that is just a minor point.

The reality is that as the original organic listings were supplanted by advertising, so will the local pack.

So enjoy the good times for now as Google delivers your free traffic. It won’t last forever.

Birthday cake

Aqueous Digital shortlisted for two categories at the Halton Business Awards

The team at Aqueous are buzzing with the news that they have been shortlisted for the second year running at the upcoming Halton Business Awards.

The awards, due to be held this Friday 22nd April 2016 at The Holiday Inn, Runcorn, mark that time of year where Halton based businesses are recognised for their efforts.

This year Aqueous are shortlisted in two categories; Marketing Excellence and Excellent Customer Service.

Naturally the team are all excited and looking forward to finding out if we have won anything, as it is always nice to get public recognition of a job well done.

We will keep you posted with tweets on the night and celebrating the success of business from all over Halton. Whoever wins, we will all be able to celebrate that businesses in Halton can grow, thrive and survive and become world class businesses.

You can find out more about all the finalists on the Halton Chamber website and if you want to wish us luck please like and share this on social!

The Custodian Of Marvels

Interview with ‘steampunk’ author Rod Duncan

As a bit of a departure this week we are privileged to have something of a scoop on the Aqueous Digital blog.

This week we have an interview with the excellent author Rod Duncan who is responsible for the ‘Gas Lit Empire‘ series of books and who was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 2014 for the first in this series, ‘The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter’.

I’ve know Rod for many years and having read his recent ‘steampunk’ novels I was struck by how he was able to reinvent a modern day Victorian version of England and make it so real. On that basis I started by asking him about who his writing influences were when he was growing up.

If you had to pick a single influence, which author would you say most compelled you to become a writer?

Douglas Adams – though it is an unfair question, since no single author compelled me to become a writer. But when I was fifteen, I heard the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the radio and for the first time became aware of authorship. Someone made that, I thought. A single human being came up with all that magic – dreamed it up out of his head. How amazing!

Growing up, which was your favourite book?

I was late in learning to read. I didn’t read much until I was in my late teens. But I did have stories read to me. My father was a big science-fiction fan. He read to me from Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. He also read Sherlock Holmes stories to me. So perhaps it’s no surprise I now write science fiction set in a Victorian-esque world.

Some writers suffer from creative block; what do you do to generate fresh ideas?

Creative block doesn’t come from a lack of fresh ideas. Not for me, anyway. It comes from being overly critical of one’s own work. I see it this way – there are two writer personalities inside each of us. One is the creative genius. The other is the critical editor. They vie with each other for supremacy. If the creative genius is too powerful, you tend to write large amounts of rubbish. If the critical editor is too powerful, you can never get started because nothing seems good enough. We call that writers block. The trick is to get these two writer personalities balanced. Good writing flows when they are in an equal partnership.

Fresh ideas generate spontaneously when you are writing. The more you entertain them, the more readily new ones arrive. But if you are blocked, you’re not writing.

How difficult was it to get your first novel published?

The first novel is something of a myth. Most novelists will have gone through a period of writing things that never got published before they reach the breakout moment. So my ‘first’ novel was actually my fifth. I guess that probably answers the question of how difficult it can be to get published.

What would you say are the key differences between writing for print and writing for the web?

Stand in a bookshop and watch people browsing. You’ll see them glance at the cover and the back blurb before turning to the first page to read. They’re trying to decide whether it will be worth their time and money. If they decide to buy it, there will be a significant commitment.

That interaction with the first few pages of the novel forms a kind of contract between writer and reader. The writer is saying, I will provide you with a book that maintains this style and genre and lives up to this promise. The reader is saying, OK, I’ll commit to this story, intending to stick with it to the end. If it gets slow or confusing for a chapter or two, I may still read on, trusting that I am being prepared for something worth the effort.

When someone reads from the Web, there need be no such contract. If reading a novel is like a marriage, this is a one night stand. If it stops being fun or interesting, all you’ve got to do is click and you’re gone.

Both forms of writing need to be concise. Both need to be as good as they can be. But you can’t easily play the long game with writing on the web. You can’t give the reader a slow build-up, knowing that their intensity of experience will be worth it in the end.

How much has the internet changed the way you write?

The Internet has changed the way I research. If I want some obscure piece of information, I don’t need to plan a trip to the reference library. For example, things like Google’s Ngram viewer allow me to figure out how word usage has changed over the last couple of hundred years – vital for me in writing a Victorian-esque novel.

The Internet also allows readers to get in touch. People even send me messages before they finished reading the novel, to let me know how they’re getting on with it. That brings me a lot of joy and encouragement.

How important is the blog tour in sci fi/fantasy?

Science fiction and fantasy writers are also science-fiction and fantasy readers. We’re privileged to be part of a community. And that community is well networked online. The blog tour – writing a series of guest posts on other people’s blogs – is a natural way of participating in that community. It is part of a conversation that continues in conventions and through social media. Which is a long way of saying that I think the blog tour is very important.

How many articles do you have to write and what sort of response do you get to what you write?

The number of articles can vary widely. To give it a ballpark figure, I’d probably hope to write between ten and thirty posts to come out over a period of a couple of months. Ideally that would form a tight cluster leading up to the publication of a new novel. I’m always hoping that next time I’ll meet that ideal!

As for the response – the only metric I have for that other number of friendships that are forged through the process. I ‘meet’ people that way in the virtual world, stay in contact through social media and hope to meet them face-to-face at conventions.

It may be that I end up selling more novels that way. But if that ever became my primary motivation for writing guest blogs or participating in social media, my readers would surely sense it. I don’t think it would work. For me, it’s all about relationships. That’s why I have a twitter account and a Facebook page. It’s part of the conversation. And so are my novels.

Have a look at my Twitter feed @RodDuncan and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. The Facebook page is here:  https://www.facebook.com/gaslitempire/

Where did the idea come from for the Gas Lit Empire?

The Gas-Lit Empire is an alternate history that began a couple of hundred years ago. I won’t say exactly what caused it – that’s one of the secrets you’ll unravel if you read the books. But the result was a Luddite inspired revolution. With the Luddites in control, science and technology have been artificially held back. Time has passed but the world still looks much as it did in 1900.

The idea for it came originally from the built environment of Leicester, where the story begins. If you walk around the city today and look carefully, you’ll see hints of the Victorians who built it. I remember walking down a backstreet and seeing a place where the road surface had been damaged. A thin skim of asphalt had crumbled away, revealing cobblestones underneath. It was as if the Victorian world and the modern world were both present.

That gave me the seed of the idea. But it was when I ‘discovered’ the protagonist, Elizabeth Barnabus, that the idea turned into this extraordinary adventure story.

In your latest book, what surprises do we have in store for us about Elizabeth Barnabus?

The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter was the first book in the series. That introduced Elizabeth and the strange world of the Gas-Lit Empire. The adventure continued in book two, Unseemly Science. But as readers pick up the story in book three, the Custodian of Marvels, they still don’t know exactly how the Gas-Lit Empire began. Nor does Elizabeth. But through her most dangerous exploit so far, she is about to find out.

How did you feel to be nominated for the Philip K Dick award?

Amazing! It is one of the most prestigious juried awards in science fiction, so to have reached the shortlist was a great honour. I had a wonderful experience going out to Seattle to the award ceremony and reading an extract from the novel in front of the great and the good – including George R.R. Martin. In the end, I didn’t win it. But I don’t feel bad about that, since the very wonderful Meg Elison got it for her novel The Book of the Unnamed Midwife.

What is next for you in your writing career?

I’m writing another novel set in the Gas-Lit Empire. I’m keeping the details of that under wraps for the time being. Meanwhile, I continue to work on screenplays in collaboration with other writers. A horror film that I co-wrote is in production. It is called Acid Daemons. You can find out more about it here.

Thanks for that Rod, it was great to chat to you and we wish you all the very best with your latest project.