The team at Fusion Unlimited is proud to announce that we are once again part of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital agencies, appearing in 26th position in the 2022 list. The annual list shines light on the digital specialists putting out some of the best work in the industry that’s worth watching out for.
Rankings are based on a number of factors including balance sheets and shareholder funds, turnover, pre-tax profit, headcount, and ultimately, growth.
What is Prolific North?
Prolific North is a leading hub for the media, digital, marketing, tech, and creative sectors in the North. Since 2013, Prolific North has been the go-to for jobs, events, and breaking news and insights across these sectors, sharing some of the best industry insights and compiling lists of the outstanding achievers and industry leaders operating in the North of England.
Prolific North Top 50 Digital Agencies has shown us that agencies based in Yorkshire continue to thrive, with 7 of the top 10 agencies and 44% of the total list based in the region.
How did Fusion Unlimited qualify as a top 50 digital agency?
2022 marks Fusion’s 25th year of supporting UK brands with cutting-edge digital marketing strategy across fast-moving disciplines such as SEO and paid media. Over the past year, we have:
Added eight new clients.
Grown our turnover by 36%.
Once again been named as a Google Premier Partner – which places Fusion in the top 3% of digital agencies in the UK.
What’s more, we’re one of the top 20 independent agencies within Prolific North’s top 50 list, and we have an extremely efficient working model, with an expert group of strategists developing the accounts of national and global brands.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a Top 50 agency could help your brand become more visible, read more about how Fusion Unlimited has supported some of the UK’s leading businesses across a diverse range of sectors.
Alongside technical SEO and content, link building stands tall as one of the three core pillars of SEO. As brands across the country compete to become more visible in the SERPs, and invest more resources into these core pillars, shrewd marketers seek to maintain an accurate and up-to-date knowledge of which link building strategies and tactics are effective in today’s market.
That’s why we’ve created this link building guide; to help you guide your brand through the sometimes challenging world of link building and keep an eye on what’s currently deemed ‘best practice’.
Is link building still necessary in 2021?
Quite simply, yes. While link building is technically a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines (as of 1st March 2020), the algorithms continue to use backlinks as a measure of a site’s authority in line with EAT principles. Brands continue to see a good uplift in performance from targeted link building activity, and there’s no evidence to suggest that a good link building strategy is detrimental to results.
That said, it’s now more important than ever to get a link building strategy right. Gone are the days in which you could blindly fire out press activity looking to gain backlinks from anywhere and everywhere as part of a shotgun approach.
Rather, Google’s algorithms have evolved to a point where they’re substantially better at determining the relevance of a backlink to your content, and better at spotting both spammy and bought links – which are subsequently devalued.
A modern link building strategy therefore requires a targeted approach, whereby you’re seen by Google to be acquiring quality follow links from sites that demonstrate authority. This could mean, for example, sites that complement your content, or sites that are directly relevant to your business’ offering.
How to do link building
It’s important to build links in a balanced way. Brands looking to rank highly for their product keywords ideally want a good number of reputable domains linking to their site. They also may need a good volume of links pointing to key product categories, CLPs, and advice content – so link destination is an important consideration alongside link quality and quantity.
We believe there’s only one way to generate a high volume of high quality links in a relatively short period of time – which is to run digital PR campaigns. A digital PR campaign involves developing a concept that’s both relevant to your brand, and relevant to your target audience; such as prominent media publications.
If your idea is interesting enough, you’re likely to attract some media attention to the landing page it’s hosted on – and the journalists you outreach to will probably want to cover your story, link to your site, learn more about your campaign, and pay attention to your exciting activity in future.
The impact of digital PR campaigns can be maximised by pushing them out across different channels, such as social media or email. Through this activity, you could look to develop campaign concepts even further to appeal to multiple audiences. There’s even a longevity element to consider; is this a campaign you could come back to in future?
We’ll dive deeper into what a digital PR campaign should look like in a future blog, but how else can you generate links to your site in the meantime – perhaps without even requiring much budget?
The best quick-win link building tactics
Fortunately, there are a range of quick bits of link building activity you can run on a daily or weekly basis to build quality links into your domain. Don’t expect a hundred links at a time, but a slow, steady process that sees you build one quality link at a time. Our picks for the best tactics are:
1. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is a staple of SEO link building. While Google has indicated that some guest blog links are ‘unnatural’ and potentially devalued, many brands have still found that offering ‘free’ content that is both directly drawn from their expertise and relevant to their offering is an effective way of building links.
As far as quick-win tactics go, we still think guest blogging has value. It affords you a lot of flexibility and choice in the types of publications you go after, and allows you to get really specific, deep links to pages of your choosing – rather than general homepage links (which are still particularly useful for weaker domains). We’d recommend only guest blog posting if the publication you’re targeting is directly relevant to your product or brand.
2. Acquiring your competitor’s lost and broken backlinks
Over time, publishers edit and update their websites. This sometimes involves culling certain content to avoid over-egging the pudding if, for example, the site has twenty Father’s Day card ideas guides. As your competitors lose backlinks, or as they break due to this activity, you can look to capture them for yourself and provide your own relevant content to which publishers can link.
It’s incredibly easy to keep an eye on your competitors’ backlink portfolio, and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer has dedicated functionality to reveal lost and broken backlinks. Given this tactic is fairly quick to execute, and has a decent chance of you placing a link, we’d highly recommend it.
3. Creating visual assets; infographics and interactive landing pages
In a digital age whereby people’s attention spans drop further and further each year, serving content in creative formats rather than as long written articles is a great way of capturing attention.
Naturally, you’ll need to host that infographic on a campaign landing page within your website, and probably include some copy to accompany it, but infographics can make for attractive outreach emails that journalists love to engage with. That’s because studies have found that journalists prefer multi-media campaigns that include images, video and other engaging formats to make news more accessible.
It can require a little resource and touch of magic to create an infographic that’s truly special, but if you consider that journalists are more willing to cover your content if it’s interesting, and that coverage is a prerequisite to acquiring links, we’d give infographics a pass mark on a quality link building tactics test.
4. Link Reclamation
Link reclamation refers to finding lost and broken links that are pointing to your or your competitor’s website, and taking action to replace them with a better suited URL.
These are potentially very quick win opportunities, especially if they’re linking to a page that does not exist anymore. All you would have to do is provide your target site with a new URL, pointing out the damaged or missing link via a polite email.
You can identify these links by accessing your backlink profile on Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
For most sites, you’ll see a steady influx of broken or lost links each month, so tapping into them makes for a nice bit of link building activity.
5. Unlinked mentions
These refer to online mentions of your brand such as the brand name and specific products or services. If you spot branded mentions via social listening tools, such as Ahrefs’ Content Explorer or Google Alerts, and those very mentions do not currently link to your site, then there’s a great opportunity for you to reach out to the publisher and place links.
6. Social Media Links
Another great time-saving tactic is to check whether publications are linking to your social media channels, instead of your website. These links might not provide as much direct benefit as a blog link placed within the main content of a page, for example, but they’re still useful signals to Google and are probably worth picking up if you have some spare time.
You can check for them through Ahrefs’ Backlink profile, and compare an export of social media profile backlinks to a similar export of backlinks pointing to your domain – using conditional formatting to find gaps and opportunities.
7. Domain misspellings
We’re all human, and even the best of us can make mistakes. Even with something as important as a domain name.
So, checking for domain misspellings is a great way to find warm links from sites that already link to you, but maybe just not to the exact location you’d hope for. Just enter your correct domain name on Domain Check to get a list of misspellings related to your domain.
Add these misspelled domains into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to identify any sites that should be linking to your correct domain with this useful tactic.
8. Reverse image search
Do you produce creative assets? If so, keep an eye out for sites that are using your creative without linking back to you.
You can find who is using your content through the ‘Search Google for Image’ option. Just right-click on the asset published on your website and you can quickly access a list of web pages that have published your content. Easy links, minimal effort, and this activity does not need to be done too frequently.
One final strategy to gain quick links is to look for hot news topics that are directly related to your brand, and share your expertise with publications that are active in that niche.
The best way to make the most of the opportunity is to send out a quick press release in response to a current news event and specify your company’s stance on the topic, or add value to the topic through your internal expertise.
For example, if your business produces an eco-friendly product and you’re renowned within that industry, you could serve your CEO’s expert insights via a press release in reaction to some breaking news about newly announced environmental laws that will affect your industry. We’ve had a lot of success with this tactic as publishers crave genuine expertise, and would rate it highly.
We hope you have found this guide helpful in explaining what link building is, why it is essential for SEO, and which tactics you can use to get great backlinks to your website.
The fast-paced world of digital marketing means we need tools at our fingertips to help automate, predict, replicate and scrape where we can.
We put the feelers out amongst Team Fusion to find out their must-have Google Chrome Extensions that make our jobs just that little bit easier.
First off, we’re heading over to our paid media…
Search & Paid Media Chrome Extensions
1) Redirect Path
This handy tool lets you know if you’ve been redirected whenever you hit a landing page. Good to use when testing to see if any ads need their final URLs updating (boosting quality score in the process).
Ghostery is a powerful privacy extension that can block ads, suppress tracking code, and show a list of sites that are trying to track you and serve you advertisements. By doing so, it speeds up your browsing experience.
3) Facebook Pixel Helper
Establishing a tracking pixel on Facebook is an incredibly important prerequisite to quality data gathering, but what if your pixel breaks? The Pixel Helper extension can flag this for you, negating the need for manual checks.
4) Google Tag Assistant
When activating Google Tag Assistant, you’ll see an analysis of each of the tags active on your website of choice. It can also display additional information about tags at a glance, making troubleshooting easy.
5) UET Tag Helper
This nifty extension from Microsoft Advertising is another highlight for our paid team (who absolutely love their tags). Once clicking the UET (Universal Event Tracking) Tag Helper extension, you’ll see a breakdown of which tags are active on the page and whether they’re working. You can also get quick insights into whether your Dynamic Remarketing lists are correctly configured, as well as your conversion goals.
Not going to lie, it’s kind of fantastic. It pulls a Google Trends chart into search results when you carry out a query. Useful for getting an idea of seasonal SV fluctuations at a glance.
Content Marketing Chrome Extensions
With Colorzilla you’re only one click away from finding out the colour of any pixel on a webpage. Unbelievably speedy for when you’re looking to match client presentation colour palettes or mocking up a quick bit of creative.
In a similar vein, it can be difficult to know your clients’ web font without trawling through their brand guidelines. That’s what Whatfont can help you with- after only one click.
9) Edit Anything
This extension is as abstract and crazy as it sounds. You can literally edit anything on a rendered webpage, replacing copy, deleting elements, and the likes. It’s really useful for visualising changes to page copy and for ideating around design changes on the fly.
Not the wordsmith you hoped you were? Fear not! Grammarly goes where Spellchecker only dreamt it could – everywhere you go.
Whilst copywriters may roll their eyes at Grammarly’s claim that ‘everyone can be a great writer’ it sure does help when you’re firing off a quick email and forget to include a pesky comma along the way.
This effective screen capture tool can capture an entire webpage. It’s handy given most screenshot programs limit you to capturing only what you can see without scrolling.
Maintaining momentum for long periods of time is difficult when you’re busy. That’s where the Momentum extension can help. It opens a new tab featuring a personalised dashboard of to-do’s, inspiration, and even throws in a weather forecast – helping you to procrastinate productively.
Technical SEO Chrome Extensions
To throw a few quick helpful extras in from our tech team, check out the following:
13) Alt Text Tester
Gone are the days of traipsing through a page’s source code to identify whether images have alt text. With Alt Text Tester, you can hover over images to see not only whether it has alt text, but what that text is – speeding up page optimisations.
14) View Rendered Source
This helpful tool enables you to spot the difference between a page’s source code, and its fully rendered final form. Handy if you’re trying to identify issues that may affect how a page is crawled and indexed.
Wappalyzer is a fantastic extension that can tell you a lot about a website without you having to trawl through its source code. This plugin can reveal virtually everything about a websit’s technology stack – including which CMS it is using, its hosts, which analytics integrations it has, and the list goes on. It can also show you a site’s security certificates and metadata at a glance.
Speed up your day-to-day with the right extensions
We hope you’ve enjoyed our top picks for the best chrome extensions- as voted by all the digital marketers at Fusion Unlimited. There are hundreds of hidden gems out there so we’re sorry if your favourite pick didn’t make our list – but please be sure to let us know what you would’ve included via our socials.
Owning the top spot for each Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that is directly relevant to your brand. Broadly speaking, that’s the goal of virtually every business in the modern world when it comes to SEO, right?
Well, what if I told you that not all SERPs are built equally, and that the way you engineer your organic content to target specific types of SERPs determines whether or not you can own that treasured #1 spot.
You might say, ‘Tom, I’m an SEO nerd, show me how to get the snippet already’ – but if you aren’t familiar with featured snippets, here’s a quick run down of what they involve and why they matter.
What is a featured snippet?
A featured snippet, often referred to as ‘position 0’, is essentially a selected excerpt of content chosen by Google’s algorithms that is seen to directly match the searcher’s intent.
Let’s say you’ve identified a decline in sales during lockdown and want to ramp up activity to compensate for this with a deadline set for restrictions lifting. As with many problems these days, the first step to solving it may simply be to google ‘how to generate more leads’, which would the following result:
This is a featured snippet – confirmed by the little ‘about featured snippets’ button below each result. There’s a good chance that the text within a featured snippet is THE result you’ve been searching for- hence it being displayed above all others.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the featured snippets take up a good chunk of space in desktop results, and even more so on mobile devices- where you’ll find snippets covering around 50% of the screen. They’re difficult to miss, by design.
Types of featured snippet
Slick paragraphs aren’t always the most helpful way of answering a question. That’s why Google’s SERP Features includes four main types of snippet. These are:
Lists (bulleted or numbered).
Within each snippet type, you’ll see content that really captures the essence of the searcher’s intent, whether they were Googling tax legislation or how best to recruit new team members.
There are also knowledge card or entity carousel snippet results, but these are typically difficult to optimise for and niche in use- so let’s focus on what you can action.
Why do snippets matter?
The cop-out answer here would be a generic ‘because visibility is important, and sitting atop the SERPs is the best way of boosting visibility’. More interestingly, though, featured snippets comprise around 19% of SERPs according to a recent study by Search Engine Journal. That’s a huge amount.
What’s more, 70% of featured snippets found in this study were text-based, meaning integrated text that’s optimised into your existing content writing could be an easy way of maximising the return on your efforts.
Conversely, neglecting featured snippet considerations and never really looking at what type of SERPs are generated for your target keywords could result in missed opportunities.
The risk of excessive snippet visibility
For full disclosure, snippets aren’t always the best friend of a content marketer. Think about it, if you’re appearing #1 in search results for quick questions with your precise information, users may absorb that information, then get back on with their day- exiting search results.
That ultimately means that your content could drive less clicks, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A 2017 study by Ahrefs looked at what percentage share of clicks is driven by different positions on the SERP. It found that featured snippets (position 1) drive only 8.6% of clicks, while the next highest ranked page sees roughly 19.6% of clicks.
This sounds like a doom and gloom stat for featured snippets, however it’s important to also understand that zero-click searches have gradually increased over the years – and around 50% of searches today yield no clicks.
So, there’s more to the story than click data alone. Instead of a tunnel-vision approach on CTRs, it’s probably best to build a broader picture of how visible your brand is, and lean more heavily on rankings as a performance metric. Besides, SERP features can fluctuate as algorithms evolve and update, which we simply can’t control.
How to find and capture a snippet
Let’s focus, then, on what we can control.
We can identify which SERPs return snippets.
We can optimise our content to pinch those snippets.
Here’s exactly how.
Navigate to the ‘Site Explorer’ tool within Ahrefs. Input your target domain, I’ve used Yorkshire Tea as an example considering that we’re based in Yorkshire, and that you’ll have earned one shortly.
From there, navigate to ‘Organic keywords’ via the left menu. Now that you’re looking at a list of organic keywords your brand ranks for, you can filter these further using various options within ‘SERP features’.
Once these filters are applied, you’ll see a list of keywords your brand currently ranks for that actually return featured snippet SERPs. If you’re ranking in position 1, then congratulations- you own that snippet!
If not, however, then there’s a clear opportunity to optimise for queries for which you’re ranking in positions two or lower. Yorkshire tea here could improve their /how-to-make-a-proper-brew/ URL to better answer searches for ‘how to make tea’.
This individual URL could potentially capture featured snippets within two SERPs that ask the exact same question in slightly different ways.
We’ve identified that owning the snippet may not result in more clicks, but there’s an unquantifiable value to being presented as the source of knowledge when a user searches for ‘how to make tea’, and quotes Yorkshire Tea as the source when telling their friends what the ‘right way’ is.
Clever ways of using featured snippets
We’ve covered why feature snippets matter and the value they can bring to your business, but let’s take a look at some practical ways in which you can actually optimise for them.
Optimising existing content
In line with the approach we outlined earlier in the piece, you can look for featured snippets that are relevant to your existing content, then optimise for these snippets as best you can.
Find featured snippet opportunities within new content
If you’re doing your keyword research within ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool, you’ll find a similar ‘SERP Features’ button that allows you to indicate which keywords return snippet SERPs – irrespective of whether or not you rank for them.
This more proactive approach to snippets could enable you to factor snippets into your content planning, meaning you can design your content to target them, rather than producing a bunch of content and retrospectiveley optimising it.
Researching competitor snippets
It could also be worth looking at how competitors optimise for snippets as part of their content strategy. You might identify that actually snippets form a huge part of competitor targeting, which may give you insights and inspiration as to how you could shape your own strategy.
You can review competitor snippets exactly as you view your own within ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool – so if you have the time to dedicate to research, look at the most effective optimisation tactics competitors are using to acquire snippets and factor them into your own business’ workflow.
Our approach to featured snippets
So, featured snippets are all about improving visibility, serving users your expertise succinctly, and being presented in a special position above the rest of organic search results at the potential expense of a few clicks.
The real question is: ‘how do you fit featured snippet optimisations into a wider content strategy?’
It requires a complex answer, but one piece of food for thought is that there’s a trend within content whereby long-form, substantive guide articles are reportedly performing incredibly well. Assuming this content format is at the heart of your approach, you could look to optimise normally around your core terms, while also targetting specific featured snippets within h2 and h3 sections; increasing the amount of keywords your article ranks for.
It’s commonly accepted that acquiring strong rankings is in of itself a good indicator to Google that your content is authoritative/trustworthy, and so picking up featured snippets where possible is rarely a bad idea.
If you’re interested in learning how to maximise the use of SERP features for your site, reach out to us for a quote on the impact a cleverly crafted content strategy could have on your traffic.