SEO, come again?

I got lost on the A-something the other day on my way to The E Word headquarters for a lightening speed introduction to Search Engine Optimisation Marketing. Thrilling I know. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to the method website owners use to increase their Search Engine rankings.

Al Mackin of The E Word, an award winning specialist SEO Consultancy, chaired the event for me and a few other webbies to learn all about ranking boosting tactics FOR FREE. Mackin began by letting us in on some industry stats. First and foremost, Google pretty much are King. 92% of all online searches performed in Jan 2010 alone were through Google, 3% for Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo and 1% for the rest of the little ones. Of these searches 60% performed on Google were successful and linked searchers with their desired site, 80% performed on Yahoo were also successes. Despite this dip The E Word still spend 89% of their client’s money on Google advertising and SEO initiatives.

What was interesting about the presentation was the introduction of SEO via Social Media. The E Word credit sites like Facebook as valuable tools to advertise with, free company pages are also a clever way to increase both Google rankings and general website traffic. Mackin also said that Twitter is important to website owners wanting to boost Google ratings. If Twitter feeds are linked to websites, their regular updates can boost visibility to Google. Regular updates to websites are also needed to help websites remain on the surface of the web and for Google to see them easily. 100+ updates pcm would be best, websites owners can get close to this with editorial sections to their sites.

Why do all this boosting? What’s in it for you and your website? Well, a jump from Google position two to one can see a visitor increase of 300%… wait for it, from number ten to one, an increase of 2200%! I know, scary.

So, link a Twitter feed to your site, get a Facebook, either update an editorial section regularly or link in a blog. AND. There is one more tip to help your SEO stats for free. Leave HTML tags on other sites and blogs. When commenting on Newspaper articles, BBC pages and forums leave tags as this will help Google see your URL more easily. If you can get sites like the BBC, your local creditable newspaper etc. to link your site on their pages all the better as Google favours ‘authority’ sites.


Making It: PR & Marketing

The two panelists, Amy Young and Jessica Lowe.

My attempt at explaining Affiliate Links!

I went to a little get-together the other day at The General Store on Deansgate in Manchester and got the chance to find out a little bit about the world of Fashion PR & Marketing.

Jessica Lowe from Harvey Nichols Manchester and Amy Young from Jacobson Group (Parent company of Gola et cetera) sat, nervously, in front of a sea of students, lecturers and people working within PR & Marketing to divulged a little bit about their careers, how they got to their level and what it is like being a PR in Fashion.

The event tackled questions like the current economic climate, whether Universities prepare student for the world of work, and began to sound a little bit like a BBC Radio 4 discussion being broadcast at 5:35am but needless to say the ladies were well prepared to answer any question and were generally a rather brilliant advert for the career choice!

The topic of conversation that I brought up was that of Affiliate Links as a marketing tool within the Online/Social Media sector. I addressed my question to Amy because her role demands national press relations where as Jessica’s concentrates on the customer catchment area for Harvey Nichols Manchester specific.

For those of you that don’t quite know what Affiliate Links are I’ll do my very best to tell you briefly, as I did to the audience that very night. Affiliate linking is a method of generating money for your website or blog based on HTML coding and Hyperlinks. If you own a website or blog and are signed up to an Affiliate scheme, you will be able to gain access to HTML codes from retailers that agree to engage in an Affiliate relationship with you and your website. These HTML Codes, when embedded within your web content as a Hyperlink, can let your chosen retailer know that a click to there website has come from yours. If this click then generates a sale (a process called Click Conversation) you can get a percentage of the transaction amount paid. If, however, you’re an experienced Affiliate linker you can engage in special deals with certain Affiliate providers that enable you to generate an income based solely on clicks, with no purchase necessary! Click here for more information (don’t worry I am not just saying that to get money :D)

After I explained all that Amy answered, “at the moment no, for Gola online at the moment we use a lot of PPC with Google … we’ve only been online for just over a year and it’s traditional PR & Marketing so you’re learning on the job with Online Media!” Which was such an interesting answer because it proves how new and progressive Online Media is. Even the PRs are having to catch up with the opportunities available to them!

Another topic discussed by both ladies was the idea of Networking as an important part of their job. Jessica said, “I get most things done just by knowing people”. When asked about starting out and getting those few first contacts Jessica answered “it is something that you build up slowly … get yourself on Twitter! I think it is amazing how many people you meet through Twitter … I only saw Jordan’s face for the first time last night but we’ve had many a conversation!”

And on that note I shall direct you to a recent Guest Blog post I wrote for The University of Manchester Fashion Blog which demands that Twitter become part of everyone’s life! End.

An audience with Sarah Curran, CEO of and Lauren Stevenson Director of PR

I recently attended an audience with Sarah Curran, CEO and Founder of and her Director of Marketing, Lauren Stevenson.

The evening was chaired by Dale Hicks of MFN who introduced the ladieswho then in turn told the audience a little bit about themselves. Curran left school at 18, skipping University and heading straight for London where she worked for various companies including L’Oreal. Sarah eventually found herself working with News International, the parent conglomerate behind The Sun and The Times, which saw her land a job as sub-editor with The Times Online. “I was very lucky” says Curran, “falling into a sub Editor on the Times Online, no one wanted to be it … we were shoved right in the corner by the toilets … that was in 2000/02, it’s amazing how things have changed”.

Lauren Stevenson studied Marketing at University and whilst studying gained work experience at top stylist agency Aurelia who boast clients such as Versace, Jaguar and Krug Champagne. Stevenson had always wanted to be a Stylist but after witnessing the industry first hand whilst interning in PR she felt she was better suited to PR and Marketing. Upon graduating Lauren took a job at Versace and worked in PR which soon led to a PR job at Ketchum, “I went from working with Versace to working on Whiskers Cat Food” says Stevenson, “but what the job did me was excellent experience in Marketing communication”. Stevenson then moved then to competitor agency Hill and Knowlton which is where she met Sarah who was to become, firstly her client and eventually, her employer.

You can read all about what was asked and answered regarding the company’s Marketing strategies by visiting the MFN report here. But the remainder of this blog will focus on what was said about the company’s recent introduction of Menswear in February of this year.

Curran and Stevenson sought out Luisa de Paula to head up their buying division; Paula has experience in both womenswear and menswear from the likes of Selfridges and Liberty. But also poached Steven Spears from industry magazine Drapers to come onboard as PR Director for Menswear. Assigning specific roles to tackle the menswear fight back from ASOS is a clever move as the two genders are never as far apart as they are in fashion.

Curran admitted that introducing and marketing menswear had been difficult as they, at first, approached the advertising in the same way as they had approached their womenswear. Sarah went on to say that “guys don’t actively seek out fashion page in magazine or newspaper” their strategy quickly became to latch onto other modes of communication that men were interested in and “accepting we weren’t going to the primary mode of communication in that piece”. After introducing the menswear arm earlier this year Curran admitted that it had “not had that ticking point” and that the split for sales was 20%-80% to womenswear.

The work carried about my the etailer with focus groups and data collection lead Curran to conclude, rather exasperatedly, that “men are far more complicated”. Where the etailer found that women were impulsive and active in their approach to fashion the webstore found that men were more passive and were harder to attract in store. Stevenson said of their findings: “men only shop for a reason, a festival, a gig, a holiday” but Stevenson sees this as an opportunity for the etailer to maximise on its offering. She gave her husband’s approach to shopping as an example “he hates shopping” she said, “his worst nightmare would be walking into Harvey Nichols and being pounced on by a Sales Assistant.” Stevenson went on to prove that online provided a platform for men like her husband, who hate shopping but like designer gear, to shop without any of the negative to dissuade them from spending, “no hot changing rooms or sales assistants”.

I am not quite sure where I stand personally within the gender split, impulsive or passive, but what I can be sure of is that much care and attention is being paid to it by and it is refreshing to see a dedication to a menswear marketing strategy revealed.

Photographs by Jennifer Urwin