This week saw the launch of the Search & Social Media Marketing programme at the University of Salford – and as one of the course partners, MEC was out in force to support the opening night of learning.
Over the next ten weeks, twelve individuals – myself included – will be given an insight into all aspects of how search engine optimisation, PPC and social networking can form part of a successful marketing campaign. Along the way, we’ll be getting to know more about things like advanced keyword selection, Google rankings, as well as site auditing and structure. In addition, the programme will endeavour to teach us about how an effective project can be created, managed, monitored and reported – earning all participants while an industry recognised qualification on completion.
The course is the first in the UK to earn a SEMPO Institute accreditation and forms part of a wider collaboration between some of the North West’s leaders in digital marketing. In this initial session, the group was invited to indulge in some light refreshments while getting to know a little more about one another. The collective was as diverse in their backgrounds as the set of skills that lay on the curriculum before them, with web developers, writers, entrepreneurs, students and others asked to share their hopes and expectations of the course with the group.
Looking at how search and social networking have grown over the past few years, we were then taken through research that shows exactly why businesses of all sizes now need to be one step ahead of their competitors in the digital world. With online marketing budgets bucking the trend of more cautious spending elsewhere, companies are waking up to the fact that search engine result pages are a battle ground being fought on both paid and organic fronts. Looking at the differences between selling and marketing and how this impacts traffic and conversion, we began to form a picture of how professionals might begin to build a campaign. And for our first task, we were asked to develop a keyword plan that would support our future investigations down the rabbit hole of SEO.
Tools and tips for understanding page rank were next on the agenda, but it wasn’t long before the long-awaited appearance of MECs own Ben McKay. As an SEO director, Ben was obviously well-equipped to impart all kinds of knowledge upon the group – and so started by dispelling the myth that SEO is to be feared. It is not complex and fraught with peril, he suggested, but is instead, an artform that can be practised with a good understanding of rank, quality content and the honest expectations of the client. It was noted that with accessibility, relevancy, authority and a little help from Google, a successful SEO campaign can be built and, while approaches to this may be subjective, there are fundamental basics that form a great place to start.
Looking forward, it’s clear the Search & Social Media Marketing course will offer a great deal of knowledge for use in my role at MEC. In addition, I expect there will be plenty to enhance my wider understanding of an industry that demands its players keep at the absolute forefront of developments. Watch this space to see if I’m correct…