All posts by Mad Scientist Digital

sangria and some drag queens

Virtual drinks with drag queens

laptop screen with drag queen sangria class on zoom

As a Melbourne-based business, Mad Scientist Digital is in Stage 4 Lockdown. So we’ve all been working from home and meeting online.

So at the start of September – when the Victorian Premier announced we were in for another 4 weeks of iso (aarrghh!!)– we decided that we needed to organise our team a bit of virtual R&R to lighten our hearts and bring us together as a team.

We needed to do some active bonding, and to be reminded that there’s a whole world out there outside our individual iso-bubbles.

So the Friday drinks we used to do face-to-face, we did online. But with a twist (or two, or three, or ten).

We’re in the business of online business, and one of the trends we’ve been watching is the wealth of creative business pivots.

As part of the AirBNB ultimate pivot from physical to virtual, there’s a whole smorgasbord of online experiences that their providers invent new offerings. You can wander Pompeii with an archaeologist, go on safari in Africa, or meditate with a buddhist monk.

We went with “Sangria and Secrets” – and frocked up for the occasion ourselves. It took us WAY out of Melbourne’s dodgy spring weather and our various home offices. A wonderful combination of performance, conversation and kitchen creativity.

It was massive fun AND it created a unique and unforgettable memory that we will all take with us going forward as a team – of shared laughter and relaxation.

drag queens online cocktail class

SANGRIA AND SECRETS: Fabulous Drag Queens will teach you how to make the most authentic, fresh, and delicious Portuguese sangria, ALL from scratch, step by step! We will not only share this traditional secret recipe, but we’ll also be serving up our unique live performances on stage! It’ll be a cabaret-style digital cocktail class you’ll never forget.” 

changing social media

The changing face of SEO, influence & trust

SEO gets people to your website – trust keeps them there

A key element of trust is authority – it’s one of the 7 fundamental principles of influencing that will keep your visitors on your website. Not only will demonstrating your authority keep your initial visitors, it will BRING THEM BACK because they trust you.

We were reminded of that recently, when POD Services – one of our long-term SEO clients – told us the story of their COVID pivot and the award-winning range of “sneeze screens” they’re selling.

It’s an excellent example of how you can use what’s happening in your business to improve your “findability”.

Influencing and trust building

If you’ve been working with us for any time, you know that influencing, trust and authority can be built by supportive content.

“Trust” means different things to different people. And – like health and fitness – there’s a whole lot of “everybody knows” thinking about trust building digital marketing that “just ain’t so” anymore.

In the early days of SEO, if you used lots of your top keywords in your content that you’d get found. (But then a whole lot of people did ridiculous amounts of keyword stacking and now that can earn you a Google-slap.)

Today we need to work a whole lot smarter to build a trusted online presence. One way to do this is to apply the latest know-how on how trust and influencing REALLY work.

The psychology of influence and trust

In recent years, influencing has been broken down into its component elements and studied in detail. It has become a process that you can use to engineer user engagement – engagement that leads to sales.

Robert Cialdini is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He’s written two bestselling books on how influencing works (INFLUENCE and PRE-SUASION).

His 7 Principles of Influencing are a powerful toolset for smart online marketers.

The real game of online business is about connecting with an audience of your ideal prospects, and engaging them – explaining why you and your solutions are the best way to meet their needs.

These principles are a great lense to evaluate everything from your website design to your SEO investment.

A quick tour of the principles of persuasion

  1. Reciprocation
    When people are given something, they have a built in urge to give back. So helpful, supportive content is an important way to give to your prospects.
  2. Authority
    Who’s in the know has mattered ever since we worked out how to chip flint into spear heads. Demonstrate your authority and your expertise – including with content that proves you know your stuff.
  3. Consistency
    “Something’s changed” was hard-wired into anxiety way back when a rustle in the long grass might be a sabre-tooth tiger. Present yourself and your offer consistently in order to build trust. And yes – be consistent about publishing that content over time.
  4. Liking
    People do business with people they like. You can’t be liked if you can’t be seen. No business operates without humans. Showing up as real and authentic people online is SEO gold – as well as conversion gold.
  5. Scarcity / Uniqueness
    No one wants to miss out. And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s prestige in having what others don’t. Appropriate, strategic scarcity can be an advantage. You can’t sell to the whole world – so make yourself awesomely attractive to your best prospects.
  6. Social Proof
    Most of the human race, most of the time (around 85%, according to Innovation Theory) make their decisions based on the opinions of those around them – NOT logic. Social proof from people like your visitors and from people they respect will win you customers. So build social proof into your content strategy.
  7. Unity
    Belonging to a community matters – being part of a tribe kept us alive. Treat your customer base – past and present – as a tribe of like-minded collaborators.

Be in the Pre-susasion game, not the sales game

Perhaps one of Cialdini’s biggest contributions was to explain framing.

What’s most important online is what you do BEFORE you go for the sale. How you frame your business and your offer will contribute enormously to GETTING you the sale EASILY.

POD Services, authority and trust

So when fine arts services provider POD – who have been investing in SEO for over 7 years – told us of their pivot and their award-winning new product, we knew it was a prime opportunity for them to turn that story into content.

Over the years, we’ve been able to give them page 1 / number 1 results for their selection of niche, targeted keywords and phrases. This year their investment paid off for them in unexpected ways when COVID hit.

POD are designers and innovators, working in a specialist niche with museums and art galleries. They design and build products to display, store and package fine art items.

They’re seriously smart, creative and entrepreneurial. So when COVID-19 hit, they did a fast pivot. They moved into designing, producing, and installing high-quality sneeze guards and point of sale protection – a bit of a change from museum installations.

Their products look – and are – top-notch because these guys are designers who know how to make things look good without distracting from what they protect.

They decided to give their very different product range its own website – called Counteract. (Which we did a great digital strategy for.)

Building authority online

Recently, POD won an award from The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre for their high-quality CounterAct screens.

So we’re working with them on strategies to use that award to build their authority.

  • Firstly, they can display their award above-the-fold on their new website.
  • They can also write content for that website about the award, explaining the features and benefits of their protective screens.
  • They can even blog about it on their existing niche website, sharing how their design skills and materials know-how helped them deliver a superior product.

What’s been surprising for them is how many sales that their existing client base has brought them. The ultimate pivot became a helpful value add.

Is your content supporting your authority?

The right supportive content builds authority and trust.

Supportive content (and copy) is most powerful when it pre-suades your visitors about your authority and your authenticity.

So take every opportunity to demonstrate your authority and authenticity in your content.

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and let us help you with the right supportive content strategy for your needs.

How to Avoid Digital Marketing and SEO Rip-Offs

As a business owner, digital marketing (and SEO) is maybe something you are very confused about. However, you may have found yourself to be a victim of some fast talking sales person’s pitch or an email which promised you ‘guaranteed number 1 rankings’ on Google  in a very short period of time. Needless to say, more than likely it never happened. All that did happen was that your bank account was a little less full.

In an attempt to clean up the industry which is full of con artists and snake oil merchants, we have put together a small series of Google Hangouts with a list of what to watch out for BEFORE you sign ANY contract with an SEO company.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss how to avoid being ripped off when you engage the services of a digital marketing company.

expert seo services

Geek out on Google!

  Mad Scientist Digital Algorithm Banner

We’re mad enough to enjoy the constant challenge of keeping up with Google and the other search engines – it’s the core of what we do. We listen to what Google tells us they’ve done – and then we test it to find out what else is happening.
We’ve been known to pick up Google algorithm changes way before they’re announced, giving our clients early responder advantages.

Here are the most recent Google algorithm updates.

1 Feb 7, 2017 Google Algorithm Update on Feb 7th
Although less than a week has passed since the previous shift in rankings, it appears that Google is
rolling out another ranking algorithm update. Many webmasters and tracking tools, including
SEMrush Sensor, have reported significant rankings changes in Google search results.

Feb 1, 2017 Google Algo Update Seems to Target PBNs
Webmasters and the BlackHatWorld forum have reported that there seems to be a Google update
penalizing PBNs (Private Blog Networks), a black hat SEO technique. Although these claims are
supported by data from different tracking tools, including SEMrush Sensor, Google has not officially
confirmed this update.

2 Jan 10, 2017 Intrusive Interstitials Mobile Penalty
Google has announced that starting January 10th it will be penalizing mobile pages with interstitials
that impede user access to content. Here are the examples of techniques that could be penalized: –
Pop-ups that cover the main content – Standalone interstitial that needs to be dismissed to access
the main content – Hiding the main content below the fold

3 Dec 7, 2016 Desktop Search UI Update
Google has updated the UI of its desktop search, bringing it closer to mobile

Information thanks to SEMRush.

Mad Scientist TV

Hosted by Ian Hopkinson & Andrew Radics, Mad Scientist TV is a daily digital focused program for businesses (and in some cases ‘tech-heads’) hoping to quickly navigate the slippery slope of online promotion. We cover a vast array of interesting topics and there’s a lot to learn while having a laugh – as is Ian and Andrew’s enigmatic style. With 60+ recent episodes to view there’s something there for everyone.

 

SEO Myths Debunked – it’s the Wild Wild West now, not the World Wide Web. Every so-called expert or god-forsaken guru has an opinion. Who do you trust? SEO Myths Debunked is an ongoing quick fire bust up of these misconceived notions.

 

Google Bashing – yes we have all criticised Google for something at one time or another, but some ‘crazies’ are out to get Google, it’s an all out attack. Find out why and who and throw in your opinion too.

 

Google Authorship – this is for the writers of content and techies, Google has some functionality for bloggers that helps them be heard and found. Recently there’s been some big updates to how this is displayed in search results.

The Streisand Effect – this is when you attempt to have something taken down from the internet and the publicity from trying to do it in facts increases the popularity and newsworthiness of the particular video, image, text, or reference you are trying to have deleted or surpressed.

 

“SEO Companies Robbed Me Blind…”

Ian Hopkinson - SEO Companies Robbed Me Blind

I’ve heard this a lot recently and it’s a frustrating start to any real conversation about SEO’s place in the marketing mix. It’s easy to blame the SEO company and a new and unruly industry where constant change is a given.  Yes, there are players who will take advantage of the complicated nature of the service they deliver. But it’s also about being an informed purchaser of one of today’s essential marketing services, so…

What do you need to know to buy SEO that works?

You need to know:

  1. What SEO is – and what it ISN’T
  2. How to choose a good SEO agency.

You don’t need to know the detailed technical side of SEO, any more than you need to understand how a clutch works to drive a car.  You do need to know enough to check the tyres, put petrol in the tank and get the vehicle you trust your life to serviced regularly.  You do need to know the environment you’re operating in – the road rules and what traffic signals mean.

What is SEO?

Search Engines such as Google are like the index of a cookbook.  They help you get found online under a particular set of categories.  Search Engine Optimisation is setting up your online presence to be found by Search Engine users as effectively as possible.

Unlike a fixed book index, the “index” or ranking a Search Engine gives a web page or a site changes all the time.  It changes because:

  • To try to add value, providers like Google continuously improve their indexing and evaluation processes.
  • Search Engines don’t just index, they also attempt to evaluate sites and pages for interest, quality, reliability, trust and expertise.
  • Millions of businesses are going on line, more every day.  The ones that are already there are constantly adding and changing their content.

The process of optimising your site for Search Engines is a process of making it as attractive as possible to:

  1. Search Engines; and
  2. The people that Search Engines bring to your site

 

What SEO ISN’T!

SEO is not a one-time or annual purchase.  The days of buying an annual Yellow Pages Ad are pretty much over.  With more content online every day and Search Engine criteria changing every day, SEO is like housework – it’s never “done”.

SEO is not a global process – it requires clarity and focus on who you want to find you and what you want to be found for.

SEO is like gardening – it requires time and a good gardener to deliver results.  Focussed SEO and quality content input will grow a better return on your investment.

Choosing your SEO supplier

To get the most out of your SEO dollar, you need to do the legwork to find a quality service provider.  Key questions to ask include:

  •       Is SEO your core business?

(If they’re a graphic designer, a developer or a hardware supplier, they’d have to be very good to be doing their day job AND keeping up with Google.)

  •       How long have you been doing SEO?

(Lots of people TRY and do SEO – not many are good enough to keep delivering value that their customers can measure)

  •       How do you keep up with SEO developments?

The other set of questions to consider is the questions that your SEO supplier is asking you – (or not asking).   SEO is one element of a targeted marketing strategy, so they should be asking:

  •       What is the value you deliver to your customers?
  •       What is your Unique Selling Proposition?
  •       What is your marketing strategy?
  •       Who is your ideal customer?
  •       What social media channels are you using to communicate your value?

If they’re not making SEO just one component of a full digital marketing strategy, the value you get will be limited.  If they just want to apply their toolkit, you’re at risk.

It’s a jungle out there

The Internet hasn’t been around all that long, and there are lots of risks in this new market place.  There are good digital marketing agencies out there – there are also lots of ill-informed amateurs and the usual sprinkling of crooks.  Choose your SEO supplier the way you choose your dentist – carefully.

 

Ian Hopkinson is the original “mad scientist” – a digital creative who is passionate about the online market place and its potential to enable businesses to compete on a global stage. He is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Mad Scientist Digital.

Great Expectations: Have you been sold Digital Bullshit?

Ian Hopkinson - Great Expectations Have you been sold Digital Bullshit

A lot of so-called internet “experts” are spruiking digital bullshit that’s creating a whopping pile of impossible expectations.

Picture this: the business owner or marketing manager is sitting in front of a digital strategist/marketing guru and listening to a barrage of technical information that is based on very little expertise or experience. It’s one thing knowing the technical side of things, it’s another  thing to have the deep understanding of marketing strategy along with the years of experience necessary to make the technical stuff deliver real business results.

Here’s the deal though (in my humble opinion) – if you don’t know how to give the client proper context and paint the right picture as to what they can realistically expect – you will have a room of people drinking the Kool-aid, handing over suitcases of cash, and loving the buzz of the journey they think they are about to embark on.

Later though, they end up hating you for smashing their dreams by selling them a bunch of high falootin’ digital bullshit.

Dicken’s novel Great Expectations is a long story but  a classic read. Even though it’s been over 20 years since I read it – I do remember how haunting it was when the main character Pip – after coming from great poverty and being supported by a mysterious benefactor into the life of a city gentleman  – found out that this secret investor was a criminal he stole food for from his crazy neighbours house when he was 6 years old.

His life changed for the better and he certainly found a new way of looking at the world – but when he found out it was all backed by a man of questionable ethics Pip felt like he’d been living a lie.

I’ve arrived at meetings with many businesses who are feeling like Pip did. Their original great expectations have been betrayed, and the reality in the end was cold. They’ve invested substantial time, energy and money – and they don’t have the results they were promised.  For example:

  • They paid a lot for “SEO” but their rankings haven’t increased.
  • Their website is getting more visits – but those visits aren’t converting into sales.
  • They’re paying a fortune for Adwords or Facebook Ads without getting sales.

The right person with the right expertise and education at the right time is of a high value. Finding a digital consultant that can be real with you and not under the pump to sell you the world may be difficult to find – but they do exist.

Here’s a few tips on what to look for:

  1. A technical person who can still explain things in plain english – and in terms of marketing strategy rather than programming
  2. A consultant who is not attached to a single product solution or service deliverable.  They will not just want to sell you on that marketing channel and apply their solution (but make sure they have a background with hands on experience in technical delivery and service)
  3. The right personality to fit your business – ready to collaborate with you and recommend and vet service providers that fit your needs

Jim Rohn said “We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.”

The right consultant will enable  you to move forward with good explanations and a clearly defined path. They’ll deliver tangible results and make sure you understand what will and won’t be possible. Hitting the right strategic marks in marketing your business can return exciting rewards.

Shopping for the right service provider can be frustrating – particularly if you’re starting from a desperate position.  But if you fall into making knee jerk decisions based on unrealistic promises, you may ultimately end up wandering longer in the dark while falling further and further behind.

Ian Hopkinson is the original “mad scientist” – a digital creative who is passionate about the online market place and its potential to enable businesses to compete on a global stage. He is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Mad Scientist Digital.

Your name is not Chris! (An email from an exotic land)

Ian Hopkinson - Your name is not Chris (An email from an exotic land)

Just to set the scene a little. We have all got spam emails from random SEO companies in our time.

Have you?

In fact, with all of our clients starting an SEO campaign with us, part of our process is to warn them that getting these emails is a sign of greater visibility and that the work that we are doing is already working. Once you get to Page 3 or Page 2 for your keywords or sign up to local directory listings, many of these spammy companies (who are monitoring the search results with automated software) drop you into their database and start emailing you. Here’s one of those emails I got recently from Chris Morris (an Indian gentleman?). I have put my thoughts in bold and in [brackets].

N.B – Please also know that this post is not meant to offend anyone, what I am laying out here is exactly what happens everyday.

Hi

I am, Chris Morris, SEO Consultant.

[Your name is not Chris]

Advertising in the online world is one of the most inexpensive and highly effective methods of promoting a business.

[Advertising online can be much more expensive then many digital mediums, but I thought you were emailing me about SEO – that is not advertising]

I was surfing through your website and analyze that despite having a great design;

[Our website is being redesigned at the moment, it’s launching in a few weeks because I think the design is outdated]

It was not ranking on any of the search engines (Google Yahoo and Bing) for most of the keywords relating to your business.

[Our website is ranking very well, after all we’re an SEO company, in fact we just got a phone call from a prospect who searched for a keyword and found us on page 1]

I am affiliated with an SEO company based in India that has helped over 200 businesses rank on the 1st Page of Google for even the most competitive Industries.

[Are you are actually telling me that you are based in India? Is your name really Chris Morris?]

We assure you that our SEO prices will give you good amount of margin in your pocket. Also, Your Company and your customer information will be confidential.

[How can you tell me what it will be, you have clearly not looked at my site or done an audit, you also haven’t told me your real name so how can I trust you]

Let me know if you are interested and I will send you our company details or create a proposal so you can see exactly where you rank compared to your Competitors.

[Up until now you haven’t told me who you work for!! Just that your name might be Chris? Also how desperate are you for business if you are emailing random people you don’t know lying to them and hiding behind a pseudonym]

I look forward to your mail.

[I look forward to your response too, as I will be publishing my journey through this process with all of my Linked-in followers]

Warm Regards

Chris

[I would like to conclude that my new friend Chris Morris emailed me from a gmail address and does not have a website].

 

Google Bashing

Why do people think it’s cool to bash Google, there are so many positive things they have done for the world, just to mix it up a bit we thought we’d do some horn tooting on Google’s behalf.

Episodes in this playlist:

Google Adsense: Does it make sense or just cents?
Is there a method to the madness Microsoft?
Are people suffering from tall poppy syndrome?

Google has become so big that people see it as a big fat cash cow. Some are also threatened by the power Google wields in the digital world and want to cut them down to size with frivolous law suits and wild allegations. But is this attack on Google and its properties justified?

Google Bashing: Why some people think it’s cool

An Example of What Some SEO Experts Do

I’m not usually in the business of criticising what other search engine optimization companies or individuals do but the other day, I came across this site that was set up for the pure purpose of search engine manipulation. The article that was written, made no sense at all. It was just a page designed to fill with text that was pure jiberish and stuffed with keywords and links to a web site. This makes the concerned website that the links go to look rather untrustworthy. I for one would not buy from that site if I came across articles such as this one. I have posted the article below.

 

bad seo practice

Click on Image to Enlarge

The problem I have with this type of thing is this: I don’t really care what people do to their own websites to get rankings in Google but I do care when ‘seo experts’ use these type of methods for their clients and potentially wreck their websites. Is it any wonder that legitimate search engine optimization companies find it harder to get new clients when there are such hacks out there who promise fast results with such dubious methods as the example above.

 

The bottom line is this. Whatever search engine optimization company you engage to optimize your website, KNOW what they are doing. Always ask for a full report that states the link to any article they write, comment they make, post they post and what type of sites they are linking your website to. Never take it for granted that they are doing the right thing just because they say they are or because they don’t really say much at all for you to be concerned about.

 

Thank you for visiting.
Andrew Radics

For more information on all things digital, you know the drill