Happy World Book Day to one and all! Oh, and to all parents who had to come up with a last-minute costume this morning and succeeded, we salute you! 

Anyway, we couldn’t let this day pass without a little nod to our favourites, so, if you get ten minutes and are looking for some kick-ass recommendations, who better to get some from than us lot at Liberty? Because we like books, we do. 

We got the copy team, as well as some of the more bookish types from the rest of the gang, to contribute with a quick 100 words on their favourite books. 

We’re book nerds and proud, so have a look and then tell us what your favourite is – the aim is to fill up our reading calendars for the next year. 

1,2,3…. GO! 
 

Joe Hickman @JoeHickers

My favourite book is The Wasp Factory by Ian M Banks. Why? Because it has everything you could possibly want from a book. Mystery, violence, murder and humour. There’s a twist that hits you so hard it makes you completely revaluate how you feel about the entire book and on second reading you notice all the subtle hints that Banksy-boy dropped. Classic book. 


Stephanie Lamerton @StephLamerton

I remember celebrating World Book Day when I was little. I was obsessed with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis at the time and my mum made an award-winning Snow Witch costume for me out of silver card and cotton wool. 

As an adult, my favourite book (so far) is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It’s even better than Hosseini’s most famous work – The Kite Runner. It’s a must read! 


Philip Woodward @Philmoomp

“My favourite book is (probably) A Season With Verona by Tim Parks. It’s a sociological travelogue that talks about working-class culture, religion, family, racism, politics and the beautiful ridiculousness of fandom through the ever-sexy microcosm of early-noughties Italian football.

It’s sorta perfect – cooler than a semi-naked Paolo Maldini riding a motorbike.

 

Rachel Bloom @RachelBLiberty

The Shock of the Fall is the debut novel by Nathan Filer, a unique and compelling book that tells the story of a young boy and his descent into mental illness. The story cleverly unravels through the voice of Matt, whose open and honest narration draws the reader in from start to finish.  

Due to Filer’s background as a mental health nurse, he has an amazing insight into the subject and captures Matt’s thought processes in a true and poignant way. It is not overly-sentimental and Filer injects humour along the way – it’s a pleasure to read. 
 

Kris Davies @LibertyOnlineUK

The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson. Joe Simpson is a climber made famous by his ordeal on Siula Grande and subsequently in the novel and documentary film Touching the Void. Simpson has written a string of books that reflect on his own experiences as well as those of other iconic climbers. This particular book has a dark air about it that all climbers can relate to as Simpson reflects on the attrition of fellow climbers over the years and the personal toll exacted by a life spent in the mountains which culminates in his decision to hang up his boots.
 

Jenna Loman @JennaLoman

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.  Cheesy answer but oh well! We all know Harry Potter books - my absolutely favourite book is the first novel of the series. In the first book Harry gets to know he is a wizard, discovers his magical heritage and his life changes as he makes his first friends and fights against Lord Voldemort!

This was the first novel I ever read (at the age of 10, it has 224 pages!) and it really got me into reading. I've read it in Finnish, English and Spanish and loved all the versions!
 

Sam Roberts

If you pinned me down and forced me to pick one book as a favourite, it would probably be East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It is an uplifting tale of two poor families succeeding in reaching their goals, and fulfilling all of their dreams and ambitions. 

It isn’t really. It is about real life stuff. 

 

Rosella Pollard @ZellCopy

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. He’s best known for 1984, but this sobering account of the underworld is - in my opinion – more compelling. The reader is taken on a journey through slimy Parisian kitchens and squalid London dwellings as we follow a young, homeless Orwell struggling to make it as a writer. 

Set in the 1920’s, this semi-autobiographical book is crammed with outrageous characters and vivid descriptions which paint a fascinating picture of life in Paris and London. 

A story which forces you to put life into perspective, I couldn’t put it down. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the classics.


Matt Trevett @TMPRMarketing

Bravo Two Zero by former SAS soldier Andy McNabb recounts his experiences during the Gulf War, where he and a team of soldiers from the elite unit were caught behind enemy lines whilst on a sortie in Iraq. This was a book I started to read and found it very difficult to put down until I had reached the end. Couldn’t help but admire and respect the mental and physical strength of the soldiers as they battled through extreme conditions before being captured and when being tortured by the Iraqi armed forces. I think I’ve probably read the book five times over the years and thoroughly enjoyed it each time.


Natasha Aghalar @NatashaAghalar

One Day by David Nicholls, but asking a bookworm to choose a favourite is almost as difficult as deciding on a favourite chocolate bar; there are too many you love to pick just one. However One Day is definitely up there. Follow Emma and Dexter's relationship through snapshots of just one day - July 15th - over the next twenty years. 

Unpredictable and moving, this novel is one you’ll struggle to put down. If you know what’s good for you, it’s best to give the film a miss. The onscreen chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess completely fails to portray the flourishing friendship and romance that’s evident in the book. 
 

Ben Magee @Ben_Magee

For me it was a close call between Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Hobbit just about edges it though due to my lasting childhood memories of reading it front-to-back every year on our family summer holiday when growing up. Despite Peter Jackson’s recent venture which dragged it out into three marathon big-screen films with additional creations to cater for a Hollywood audience, for me, The Hobbit will always rekindle fond memories of summers well spent immersed in Tolkien’s fantasy world relaxing with my family and beginning to travel the world.
 

Lianne Jones @LianneMJones

My favourite book is Angela’s Ashes – an Irish memoir by Frank McCourt. It is a beautiful, funny, and heart-wrenching account of his impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, and later of his new life in Brooklyn, New York. My favourite thing about this book is the sheer honestly; this, coupled with the blunt Irish humour and the grittiness of Limerick life, makes it an excellent read.


Mari d’Antonio @MgLikeTheCar

I love pretty much anything Ian McEwan has ever written, with Atonement being my absolute favourite work of his. The story is about how something as small as a child’s bad decision can change people’s lives forever, and how the consequent life-long search for atonement can shape us. It might have a bit of a slow start, but the end result is absolutely worth it. The movie with Keira Knightley is nice, but it doesn’t come close to how great the book is.
 

Siobhan Tumelty @Shabby_Siobhan

 
I change my mind every single time someone asks me this, but today I’m going to go with Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s the last book I read that, when I finished, I wanted to start again. I felt like I should force it on everyone I know (and for those I nagged, I REFUSE to apologise). 

It’s epic. It spans continents and generations – from the burning of Smyrna to the Detroit riots – and interweaves incest, silk worms, hermaphroditism, and, um zebra skin rugs. There are sentences in it that stop you in your tracks. It’s spectacular. Read it now. 

(P.S. That was 100 words on the nose, BOO YA!) 

What's your favourite book?


So that’s our contribution to this most excellent day, a celebration of all things literary! 

We’re all right with words here at Liberty, too. So if you need some for your business’ website, or perhaps you’d just like us to write you a nice poem, then holler at us

And seriously, let us know what books you’ve all been reading, you can tweet us @LibertyOnlineUK – we’re always on the lookout for something new to dip into. 

Unless you’ve spent the beginning of 2015 off the grid, then you’ll probably be aware that the new season of House of Cards is imminent. 

Regardless of the fact that it’s pay day for the vast majority of workers in the UK, it’s safe to say that this weekend there’ll be more than a few hermits staying in to binge-watch the best show on Netflix.  

Francis J Underwood is a charismatic, wise individual. He also looks a lot like Kevin Spacey, who appeared at Content Marketing World last year

In our book, it’s certainly not a stretch to delve a bit more into some of Frank’s choice HOC quotes and pull out a few tasty content marketing titbits.

The man’s an evil genius. His ruminations can sure as hell be applied to content marketing. So, in the name of celebration, we thought we’d share what we’ve learnt on Frank’s steady ascent to power. 

For those who are just starting out in content marketing, as well as businesses that maybe want to have a dabble themselves, Frank Underwood’s got you covered. 

He is the most powerful man in the free world, after all. 

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS! 


1. “Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.”


Whereas Frank was waxing lyrical about his delicate web of intricately spun lies, we’re going to interpret this little pearl of wisdom in terms of links. 

According to our industry’s own personal Frank Underwood, Matt Cutts,  (ok, he’s a little less murderous but hey ho) guest blogging is on its way out. 

He says it’s becoming an increasingly spammy practice that’s boiling down to money for links. And that’s not cool. 

It’s a bummer, what started out as an authentic way to share quality content has become a low-effort, quick-win tactic that’s spawned thousands of shoddy guest blogging sites and even shoddier posts.

Google is pretty much definitely going to penalise this type of blogger and your link is going down with it, so don’t use them. 

This isn’t to say that guest blogging is completely useless – it’s great for exposure, branding and increasing reach – just that flogging your wares to all and sundry is a pretty pointless tactic these days. 

Think big multi-author blogs (like the CMI, where we recently got a cheeky mention) and shoot for the stars! 

You want Raymond Tusk (pre-arrest) on your side, not (and I’m sorry to say it) little fish like Freddie’s BBQ. 

Frank doesn’t hesitate to cut out those who can harm his rep, and neither should you!  


2. “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.”


Oh Frank, you’re so wise. This little gem comes from Frank’s less than subtle efforts to influence foreign policy in early season 2, but, like so many of Frank’s insightful sound bites, it can be applied to content marketing, too. 

This point is all about innovation. If you’ve tried your standard written blogs and you’ve dabbled in an infographic or two, and you’re still not getting the results you want, then it’s time to flip that table. 

The CMI defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action”. 

The best stuff, the stuff that turns the tables, has elements of the useful and the inspirational, and evokes empathy in the people who see it. 

A tired old once-a-week ‘how to’ guide isn’t going to do that. 

Think clever curation and crowd-sourcing, behind-the-scenes brilliance and quality, brand-building concepts that will stick in the mind of your audience. 

Before you panic – innovative doesn’t have to mean technical. Take a look at this beautiful travel guide to Vietnam. All they’ve done is develop existing content and present it in an inventive way – kind of like how Frank remodelled Peter Russo in season one. Before he, you know, offed him. 


3. “Sometimes, the only way to gain your superior’s respect is to defy him.”


Another of Francis J’s classy asides here – but instead of straight-up saying ‘no’ to the most powerful man in the world like Frank, we’re just going to recommend a subtle ‘do one’ to the most powerful search engine instead.  

This is a risky one, but we’re going to put it out there anyway because it’s damn useful to small businesses that can’t afford to keep on top of the constantly changing minutiae of Google’s algorithms. 

SCREW GOOGLE. 

Wow, we said it. It feels so naughty – do you think they heard us? 

OK – before we get penalised and sent down to the depths of page 101 (it’s like room 101 but SO MUCH WORSE) we’d better qualify this statement. 

According to Rand Fishkin himself, no matter what they tell you, you don’t have to keep up with Google’s day-to-day changes.  

We’re not talking to SEO professionals here – just those trying to get a grip on content marketing. Our pal Rand over at Moz says that despite being constantly refined, Google’s algorithmic evolution is heading one way. If you can keep your eye on the destination, then over time, the journey will be pretty irrelevant. So, forget the silver bullets and focus on quality.
 
Here’s the quote: 

“If, in 2004, you balanced SEO best practices with usability/user experience needs and created a site with content that was optimal for people and engines, you probably had an SEO strategy that would still work today.”

Take that Garett Walker. And Google. Pretty much anyone who stands in our way. 


4. “Treading water is the same as drowning.”


One thing we have in common with Frank here at Liberty Marketing is our dissatisfaction with stagnation (that, and how damn sexy we look in all-black lycra running gear).
 
We believe that maintaining an average position isn’t good enough. We, like Frank, want to be the best, and we want our clients to be the best too. 

So what does this mean in content marketing terms? 

You may be doing reasonably well, you may be pleased with your metrics, but you can always do better. 

5. “Generosity is its own form of power.”


Once again, Frank’s hit the nail on the head here, but instead of dangling a sprat to catch a mackerel (and no, despite our use of that lovely turn of phrase, we won’t be collecting our pension any time soon) we’re talking about purpose-driven content marketing. 

At its most basic level, cause marketing involves the cooperative efforts of a for profit business with a non-profit organisation for mutual benefit. 

It’s a great way for your business to bond with its target audience over a shared interest – namely supporting a cause dear to their hearts. If, as a by-product of your charitable efforts, you happen to create some quality content, then that’s all-the-better for everyone. 

So, choose your cause, be authentic, commit to it long-term, share your tangible results and you could benefit from a halo effect generated by your generosity. 

Not that that worked for Zoe Barnes. But that’s beside the point. 


6. “Of all the things I hold in high regard – rules are not one of them.”


Rules tell you the way that the average person does things most successfully. Applying them consistently can set you on the route to moderate success, but blindly following them is never going to take you to the top of the pack. 

The advice we’re going to distil from this Underwood utterance is this: 

Aspire to more. Yes, it’s scary to step outside the realm of rules and instructions, but when you throw away the paint by numbers, you could potentially create a masterpiece. 

Over the past decade, digital marketers have self-curated a whole stash of unwritten content marketing rules that are often referred to by industry novices. You don’t have to follow these down to the very last detail. 

For example, let’s take a pretty basic content marketing ‘rule’: develop a plan and stick to it. 

While we’re not going to profess to breaking this one every day, we find it certainly helps to be flexible and to adapt as the environment changes around us. 

When you become rule-bound, you set yourselves up to be average. Listen to your customers’ requirements and make up your own rules to reach new heights. 

And if you find Frank Underwood to be a less-than-palatable revolutionary rule-breaker (although we can’t think why you would), think Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, who all flouted a few rules on their way to the top. 


7. “Nobody can hear you, nobody cares about you, nothing will come of this…”


Alright, Frank. No need to put such a downer on everything. 

He’s right though. 

Even if you write the most revolutionary blog post in your industry, create an infographic that explains the theory of relativity in five easy steps, or film a video tutorial of cats doing contouring (that weird makeup thing, FYI), if your content isn’t seen by anyone, it’s useless. 

First and foremost, you need to optimise your content so that people can find it. We know this.

It’s distribution that we’re going to focus on in this point – feeding information to the right people and places, with as much careful aforethought as the former Chief Whip. 

After all, Frank wouldn’t put all his eggs in a search engine’s basket, now would he? 

In content marketing, distribution is everything. 

Content marketers need to think about all of the different pathways people take to find great things. We need to identify how big brands like BuzzFeed are getting their content out there and let it inform our own distribution process. 

Social media, e-newsletters, email signatures and reaching out to influencers are all tried and tested ways to expand your reach. 

Don’t forget things like hashtags relating to topics in your blogs, as a huge percentage of Twitter users regularly monitor hashtags they care about. 

And last but not least, ask your employees. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it works. And Frank wouldn’t blink twice before asking Doug Stamper to do his dirty work for him. 




The Roundup


Yes he’s a murderer, a master-manipulator, and, quite frankly (ha, FRANK-ly!), a maniac. But the man talks a lot of sense. 

So much sense that we’re going to wrap-up this piece by going for a triple whammy (read it out loud in a devilish Southern drawl, if you please…). 

In content marketing, don’t get disheartened by incremental improvements, after all, “that’s how you devour a whale – one bite at a time.” 

Remember, “we are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal”. Half the battle is just being present and being a part of the conversation. 

If you’re not talking to your customers, they’re not listening to you. They won’t know you’re there, and they won’t give a hoot. 

And finally, if you want a bit of help with your content marketing efforts, give us call. “It’s so refreshing to work with someone who’ll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.”

*BANGS RING ON TABLE TWICE*


We’ve been speaking at Figaro Digital again; did you see us? If not, don’t worry, here’s a quick round up of what you missed.

Is Content King? 


So you’ve all heard about the importance of content on a website, right? We talk enough about it in this blog. 


Whether it’s regular blogging, guest posts to build links or optimised site copy, digital marketing has seen a huge shift towards quality content over the last year or so, and it looks set to continue into 2015. 

Figaro Digital know the importance of great content and decided to hold an educational event focussing on it. Our very own Digital Account Coordinator, Richard, stepped up to the stage at the Content Marketing Seminar to give the crowd an understanding of the difference between content marketing and marketing content. Do you know the difference? 

Here’s a copy of Richard’s presentation from the 19th February 2015: 


How Did it Go? 


The event was a great success. The Hospital Club in Covent Garden was fully booked for a great afternoon of expert talks on content’s increasingly central role and how to measure its value to your business.  

@LibertyRichF definitely no need for nerves. Great presentation at

Just got followed by @neilpatel and did a Figaro Digital talk all in one day

And as well as our previously deemed ‘Dynamo’ of the digital industry, there were brilliant talks from: 

Andrew Marcus, Deputy Head of Communications, Museum of London
Ian Harris, Founder and CEO, Search Laboratory
Ollie Lloyd, CEO, Great British Chefs 
Stephen Kenwright, Head of Search, Branded3

Take a look at the Figaro Digital website for a round-up of their talks as well as a copy of their presentations. And while you’re there take a look at some of the great upcoming events Figaro have planned for the next few months. Will we be seeing you there? 

Whether you blog for your business or enjoy cataloguing your life’s achievements in your very own virtual diary, you probably want it to be the best it can be, right? Well, here are a few of the most common blogging errors we have seen across the blogosphere. We call them the 7 deadly sins:


#1 Copying 


Although it is a good idea to see what is already out there to figure out what works and what doesn’t, you should never ‘borrow’ work and certainly don’t copy! How would you feel if someone did it to you?

Prevent getting into trouble by telling your readers where the information comes from. Cite it at the bottom of the piece or just write an original piece. 




#2 You Don’t Know Your Audience


Do you know who you are writing for? If you don’t then your copy will become generic and unengaging. Yes you want a lot of people to read your blog but you can’t personally speak to them all. Pick a conversation with your largest demographic and talk to them as you would a friend to make your writing more interesting.  

#3 Blog Uploading is Inconsistent 


How often do you publish articles? Do you use a programme to automate your uploads at regular time intervals? The number of articles you post should be consistent. Don’t upload one a week for a while, forget for a few months, and then shove a load up on the same day. 

A publishing schedule should be predetermined and have a structure to it. Many readers will be put off if they don’t know when (or even if) you are going to post your next piece. 

#4 You Keyword Stuff


Being aware of SEO practises such as using keywords in your copy is great but be careful not to overkill it. Remember: You’re writing for your readers, not the robots that trawl the internet. Don’t keyword stuff! Fit it in naturally only a few times or you will look spammy. Quality content is the most important factor when writing a blog. 

#5 It’s Too Complicated 



Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Joey tries to make his letter of recommendation to the adoption agency sound more intellectual? He ended up making it worse because they thought a child wrote it. 

So step away from that synonyms button and keep it simple and to the point. Using long words won’t make you sound clever or like you know what you are writing about. Next time you write, read through it and see how you can simplify it. Don’t dumb it down, just cut out the waffle. 

#6 You Don’t Show Your Personality


A blog is all about what you have to say, so make sure that it sounds like something you would say. There are probably thousands of blogs out there writing about exactly the same topics as you, so add a little personality to make yours stand out from the rest. 

Your voice and experiences can make a post unique and readers will return to hear from YOU. So be controversial and speak against common beliefs with some added humour. That’s more interesting than conforming. 

#7 Not Engaging With Readers 


There is the ability to leave comments on articles for a reason – so your readers can engage with you! They can ask questions, further your point or maybe just say “well done, that was really interesting!” Make sure to reply to these comments and engage with your readers to make them feel valued and build relationships. They’ll be more likely to remember your blog and return then. 

So do you have any sins to confess? Tweet us and let’s talk about it!




If you have created or paid for an infographic to be made to represent your business and it has not had a good ROI then it may be down to a number of different reasons. 

You may like it but your infographic may stink! Or maybe it just didn’t get enough eye balls on it, but how do you know? Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of infographics and a few tips for creating them. 

Which category does yours fall into?  

The Good



For an irresistible infographic you first need an original idea that is current and relates to your business. For example, this snippet from a Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo infographic relating to their new Lion enclosure which arrived in summer 2014. 

And once you have the idea you need a creative eye. You can’t just shove a few pictures into a blog post and call it an infographic. An infographic makes information interesting and easy to digest in small chunks. The most important information should be larger to draw attention to it and the whole thing should have a natural flow, so use bright colours and size sensibly to create something eye catching. 

The Bad


(full infographic source)

You may have the most beautiful infographic in the world but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good – it may not have the right impact or translate the information correctly!

Originality is key when creating infographics. You should learn from others’ successes and failures but don’t copy, develop a unique style. At the same time however don’t go too out-there or make it too complex. It should be easily understood with you being able to describe the topic in one sentence. 

Many people don’t think about their target audience before making an infographic. You would for a blog post so why not for these? An infographic is not just there to build links. A bad infographic will look bad on your business. 

Also be careful not to be too self-indulgent! Yes you are talking about your own product or services but you don’t want to throw it in people's faces. There is no need to be a sleazy salesman, instead use humour and interesting facts to engage your audience and they’re sure to look up the creators of the infographic (that’s you!). 

The Ugly

(image source)

The same goes for an infographic that has the content but is ugly. Yes, they say that true beauty is within, but how will anyone know if they don’t click to open it up. You want your infographic to have it all. 

To make yours look ‘pretty’ limit your design to no more than 2 fonts and think about how readable it is. Do you have subheadings? Do you have to strain your eyes in order to read the small print? And is there coherence throughout? (That last one is very important) 

Limit your colour palette too – you don’t want it to look like a rainbow has thrown up over your computer screen. The finishing touch is a headline that grabs attention. Keep it short and make people curious about the content so that they read on. 

Before you start clicking and publishing make sure to do some essential checks first. Is everything spelt right? And are all your facts correct? Just because they sound interesting doesn’t mean they are true. Quote your reputable sources for credibility. 

So does your infographic stink? Or could you just improve your outreach? Get in contact for more top tips on infographics from us here at Liberty Marketing. 

When it comes to social media it is surprising how many industries are still dragging their feet. If the majority of internet referral traffic comes from Facebook, then you’re missing a huge potential market by not utilising it. 

There is a huge deficit in social media for charities – surprising when you consider that this is a free way to advertise your charity and approach a wide audience. These four tips will help to increase charitable donations and awareness of your cause: 

Like Word of Mouth, Only Bigger 


As a charity you already know the importance of word of mouth, it is one of the driving forces behind charitable donations after all. By making good use of your social media you can reach more people than ever before. You’ve probably already heard about how this can help you, but how can you make the most of it? 

This really is very simple. Ask people to share their stories, photos, recommendations of your charity on their profile or tag your charity in their status. Not only will this make more people aware of the work you do, but it also boosts your online reputation marking you as an authority. 

Complete Your Profile 


Another big mistake is not creating a custom URL or neglecting to fill in the entire profile. This is such a simple process that can make a world of difference when people search for you – search engines always scan URLs first and content second. So, by having a vanity URL with your charity’s name and a full description of what you do, you’ll find a lot more people are able to easily find you through social media. 

Share Content from Your Website 


If your website has a blog, and it should, then you can share content from it over social media to help drive more traffic to your site. The more people sharing it, the better the content appears to Google – shooting you up in the search engine results and driving even more people to your site. 

Why should you care how many people are on your website? Every person that visits your website is a potential donation, so even if only 5% of your visitors donate the more people you have on your site the bigger your donations will be. If you’re creating quality content designed to pull on people’s emotions, then sharing this on social media can help to give you the attention you deserve. 

Know Your Audience 


Optimisation isn’t just about search engines, most importantly it needs to be about hitting your target audience. If your number one goal is to create a fantastic experience for your audience then the search engines love you for it. Create content and posts that people will want to read about and share themselves – figure out when the best time to post is and what kind of post they like the most. 

By following these four simple steps you will see a huge increase in the amount of interaction you receive through social media, and if done correctly a significant influx of traffic to your website. All of this will help you to create stronger brand awareness and boost your donations. 

If you are looking for help that’s completely tailored to your charity then get in touch with us! At Liberty we love doing whatever we can to give charities the help they deserve. 




If you have your very own online business then you will be familiar with the comments and emails from companies promising that they can get your site enormous amounts of traffic and to the top of Google in only a few weeks. These companies are probably practising black hat SEO techniques. 

What is Black Hat SEO?


Think back to old Western movies, and you may remember that the good guys wore white Stetsons whereas the baddies wore black ones. This is a simple way of differentiating good from bad, and has been adopted in the world of SEO – white hat = ethical SEO and black hat = unethical SEO. 

Black hat SEO is a term generally used to describe the breaching of a search engine’s terms of service and the use of shortcuts in order to increase a page’s rank in a short period of time. 

Typical Black Hat SEO Techniques


There are a number of ‘quick win’ techniques that black hat SEO specialists use. These include: 

Keyword Stuffing – This is the overuse of certain ‘key’ words to raise awareness of a page and rank highly when such terms are searched for. 



Hidden or Invisible Content – This is a way of keyword stuffing a page without the words being noticed by the naked eye. For example, colouring the font so it blends into the background and is completely unnoticeable. Keywords can even be hidden within comment tags. 

Link Farming – Link farming is based on the idea of exchanging links with other sites in order to boost the number of inbounding links and improve your SERP. 

These are usually forums or directories, with this aim as the sole purpose. As a result search engines think your site is more popular than it actually is. 

Doorway Pages – Also known as ‘bridge’, ‘entry’, ‘gateway’, ‘jump’ and ‘portal’ pages, are spammed with certain words or phrases in order to rank with search engines. These pages then funnel traffic to a main site page, which reaps the benefits. 


Why Should Black Hat Techniques be Avoided?


Black hat SEO isn’t a scam, it is however unethical, and in some instances illegal. As a result, if Google detects such techniques have been used on your site there can be some serious repercussions. 

Once upon a time the more backlinks you had the better, but as more and more quickly figured out how to abuse the algorithm, Google altered the way they qualified pages to rank and many sites were punished. Sites that use black hat techniques continue to be smacked by Google. 

Firstly, a site will lose its top spot and get moved to the bottom of the last results page. There is then a penalty of a fine, and then the website may be suspended or even permanently banned. And once a site is banned it can never be brought back to life. 

So the risks are high. Not only will a site using these techniques look suspicious and drive away customers, but it can effectively shut down your business. Would you take the risk? 

So Why do People Use Them? 



A lot of small business owners fall for the trap of a black hat agency as it is usually cheaper than white hat. White hat techniques focus on analytics, data and website content, it therefore takes more time and more money. 

The decision of whether it is worth the risk comes down to you. Black hat techniques can bring you some short term success, but this increase in traffic is short-lived. Google is constantly developing ways to tackle these black hat techniques so if you are looking to have longevity in your online business, black hat may not be the tactic for you. 

Although black hat SEO is effectively seen as the bad guy in the world of digital marketing, some good does come of its actions. It keeps the search engines on their toes, requiring them to constantly develop and adapt their technology to improve their service. And with these changes, the good guys (white hat SEOs), reap the benefits. 

Wonderful White Hat SEO


Black hat SEO may not have the best effect on your online presence, so it may be a good idea to look into an ethical SEO digital marketing agency. We’d happily recommend one - US!

There are so many technical terms thrown around the internet and this can easily create confusion among those who are not in the know. One of the most common terms is ‘longtail keywords’ but what exactly does this mean? We will explain: 

What Are Longtail Keywords? 


Put very simply, longtail keywords are search terms which are longer. These are more specific, but tend to be searched a lot less than ‘head’ keywords, which are the most popular terms. Generally speaking, because they are less searched for, they are also less competitive and much easier to rank for than ‘head’ terms. 

What Are They Good For? 


Absolutely nothi… no, that’s not right. Longtail keywords are actually good for a whole lot of things, including: 

Finding less competitive keywords to rank for 
Increasing relevant search traffic 
Targeting a niche market 
Gain an advantage over larger competitors 
Get more traffic on a lower PPC budget
Have several long tail keywords pointing to one product or page 

All these benefits make using longtail keywords extremely beneficial, whether you’re a large, authoritative online business or a relatively new starter. By focusing your attentions on this type of search term you can start ranking quickly and see a huge increase in relevant traffic. 

Finding Trends 


Longtail keyword research is excellent for finding new search trends that pop up on the internet. For this reason it pays off to carry out regular research to keep up to date and stay ahead of your competitors when chasing these search terms. 

When looking at trends there are several aspects you can look at, from seasonal queries, new trends in fashion, technology or innovation and even the way in which people are searching now. 

The way people are searching has changed massively over the last couple of years. Nowadays, if someone is looking for places to find used cars they are more likely to search for “Where can I buy used cars near [Location]” rather than “used cars [location]”. 

There is a much more natural pattern to the questions asked, and therefore a lot more ways for it to be asked. If we were to use the example of used cars, you could probably find long tail keywords such as:

Where are used cars salesmen near [long list of locations]
Where can I buy a cheap used car
Where to find good second hand cars 
Where is the best place to buy a used car


This list goes on and on, providing you with search terms that are not so highly searched as the ‘head’ keyword of used cars, but can provide you with a healthy amount of traffic. 

As with most things, the more long tail keywords you try to rank for, the more traffic you are likely to get – so even if the predicted traffic is only 20 hits a month, if you target five of these keywords that’s 100 relevant visitors a month off what SEO experts like to call ‘easy wins’.

Got it? Don't be shy if you don't - get in contact today! 



The Secretary of State for Wales visits Liberty Marketing


Today we had the pleasure of welcoming Conservative MP and Secretary of State For Wales, Stephen Crabb, to headquarters to hear about our exciting expansion plans. 

Stephen wanted to get to know our team and the work we do here at Wales’ largest digital marketing agency – and to learn what the future holds for us. As the Secretary of State For Wales, Stephen is currently meeting with some of the country’s most innovative, exciting businesses to see how the Conservatives can help further Welsh success. 

During his visit Stephen said: 

"Liberty Marketing is a Welsh success story and the perfect example of a business that is investing, growing and creating jobs in Cardiff.  It was fantastic to visit this ambitious company today and find out how they are not only expanding themselves but also helping other companies grow their own businesses. 

“Liberty's exciting expansion plans show that our long term economic plan is working for Wales and I am sure their success will encourage other companies to invest and grow."

Our £5m expansion plans


While visiting our Cardiff office, the Secretary of State For Wales announced our big plans for the future. In
the next 3 years we plan to increase our turnover to £5million, and double our staff from 40 to 80.  

Since Gareth Morgan established the business in 2008 the company has seen constant growth with no outside investment. In the last financial year we turned over £1.5million.

In 2014, with a growing workforce, we moved into our spacious new 6,200ft office building in Cardiff Business Park, Llanishen. Last year we received an Investors in People accreditation, won ‘Most Innovative Business in Wales’ at the 2014 FSB Worldpay Awards and were named the 17th fastest growing business in Wales. 

We are now also a Google Top Tier Agency Partner, one of only 6 partners in the UK and the first and only Welsh digital marketing company. 

So far our growth has been 100% organic with the majority of business being referred from existing clients and other businesses. We now have well over 100 retained clients and have international companies starting work this month, so 2015 looks a great year for business growth. 

We’re confident that we’ll meet our goals


Gareth Morgan, our managing director, said: 

“Digital marketing is a growth industry sector. Client spend now exceeds traditional marketing including TV and press. We have directly experienced clients allocating more of their marketing budget to digital campaigns and anticipate a growth in demand for the services we provide. 

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in digital marketing and Liberty has the resources in place to compete head to head with other leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. Our proven track record in terms of achieving results for clients is very impressive and we can recruit from an ever growing local talent pool of marketing professionals.”

“The next three years will be challenging and ultimately very rewarding for our employees as we aim to achieve all of our business objectives and become a market leader in our industry.”


We’re welcoming 2015 by adding a brand new member to the Liberty Marketing copywriting team. Say a big hello to Siobhan Tumelty!

Siobhan was born and raised in Cardiff, and despite her many attempts to leave on several occasions (mostly through exotic travels) she can’t keep away from her hometown – she’s like a boomerang, she keeps coming back! Which is lucky for us. 

When she’s not in work she enjoys reading, writing, watching films and listening to music, as well as the previously touched upon, travelling to faraway lands. 

She’s also a dab hand when it comes to social media. Her favourite channel has to be Twitter. She once got a Twitter ‘high five’ from Caitlin Moran which made Siobhan’s life. 

Want to know an interesting fact about Siobhan? She’s petrified of cotton wool! She was once chased through school by a ‘friend’ who’d made a cotton wool monster. She still has nightmares about it to today. 

Do you have any unusual fears like Siobhan or perhaps you’d like to get to know some of the other Liberty Marketing team? Then take a look at our Meet the Team blog segment! 

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