Friends are good – using digital marketing to do good stuff pt1.

Making the most of your existing online relationships

Webinar on the 26th Jan at 4.30 GMT

The websites, people and social media followers that your business currently interacts with online can help your digital marketing efforts.

It is common for Marketing Directors and business owners to feel overwhelmed by digital marketing. A major contributing factor to this is not knowing where to start.

I have a solution, the place to start. A full audit of all the existing online relationships the entire business has, including all the online relationships that everyone that works for the business has.

This is not about using those relationships for some sinister purpose but about thinking how can we be of service to those relationships.

The first part of this task is to define what is meant by online relationships and then to go about mapping these relationships in a way that will add true value and not just make things even more complicated!

If you are interested to attend the webinar on the 26th Jan at 4.30 GMT in which I’ll share the processes I use to map out these relationships please register by leaving a comment.


The SEO Pyramid

This is hardly new, dates back to 2008, yet it is highly relevant and a useful, visual way to help understand SEO.




The Flax Farm: Case Study


The Flax Farm
The Flax Farm has been growing linseed (also known as flax) in the heart of West Sussex, England for more than twenty years. It offers cold pressed linseed oil and a whole range of linseed-based products for their health benefits and because they’re just so tasty!

You can buy products directly through their website, find out more about the properties of linseed, and get some great recipes to try out on your family and friends.


Our work with The Flax Farm started in January 2010.

Where they were – and where they wanted to be

The site was receiving traffic from over 1500 key phrases (such as Linseed, Linseed Oil), 120 of which produced visitors that converted into customers (we set up Google Analytics and tied it into the back end of the site to track which phrases converted).

Once visitor numbers had been going up for some time, we turned our attention to increasing the conversion rates.


  • Traffic to the site increased by more than 300%
  • Turnover through the online store increased by more than 400%. This has enabled The Flax Farm to make significant investments into growing the business in the retail sector.

How we did it

By examining the data from Google Analytics we could see that many potential customers were dropping out at the shopping cart stage. We improved the cart by removing one whole section of the checkout process. This reduced this dropout rate dramatically and produced a marked increase in sales.

We had to be incredibly creative when it came to the keyword research and competitor analysis, as there was so much competition from less than scrupulous online pharma and healthcare operations.

By focusing on honest relationship building with reputable information resources the profile of Flax Farm grew substantially month on month.

In short

The high quality of the relationships we built on behalf of Flax Farm has made our SEO work sustainable. This means that 6 months after completing our 18-month contract with Flax Farm the results are still standing.


The Dolphin Experience: Case Study


The Dolphin Connection Experience
Based in Brighton on the south coast of England, The Dolphin Connection Experience (DCE) is a fantastic little company with big ambitions. Since 1995 they have been working their flippers off to offer the best dolphin swimming and whale watching holidays in the Azores, with a team of people who have dedicated their lives to marine conservation and to finding sustainable ways to introduce humans into the world of dolphins and whales.

DCE is now extending its dolphin swimming experiences – and its holistic philosophy – to the Red Sea in Egypt.


We worked with DCE from November 2009 to September 2011.

Where they were – and where they wanted to be

When we started to work with DCE the site was towards the bottom of the first page of Google for the term ‘Whale Watching Azores’ – this generated a small amount of traffic and an even smaller number of enquiries.

  • Our first goal was to get into the top 3 in Google for ‘Whale Watching Azores’.

After careful keyword research we decided to go for the much more competitive term ‘Whale Watching Holidays’.

  • So our second goal was to get into the top 3 in Google for ‘Whale Watching Holidays


We achieved our first goal within 6 months and our second within 18 months.

At the time of writing, DCE is number 1 in Google for ‘Whale Watching Holidays’, coming ahead of much larger tour operators.

November is the traditional peak time for DCE and August the quietest. However, even comparing this typically quiet month this year (Google Analytics statistics from 21 July 2011 – 20 August 2011) with the busiest month in 2009 shows that absolute unique visitors have increased to the site by 331.85%.

We are working on many more key phrases for this site and are currently getting significant traffic from more than 550 such phrases.

As a direct result of our work, DCE has had to employ more staff to cope with the increased demand. It has also developed as a responsible tour operator. This came about as we consulted with Amanda, the founder of DCE, to bring out her passion for cetacean research, conservation and ending dolphin captivity and encouraged her to express and share this passion. We could then build the online relationships with other responsible tourism organisations and cetacean research charities that benefited her SEO so significantly.

How we did it


After the initial keyword research, we made sure that every element of the site was easy for Google to find and understand (and, most importantly, use for its rankings).

To do this we changed or updated:

  • page titles
  • H1 tags (the code that tells Google this is the main heading within the text on the page)
  • navigation headings
  • content

Link building

The all important link building or digital PR work started almost immediately in month one.

Ethical SEO soon became experts in the world of cetacean research as we formed relationships with charities and organisations around the world on behalf of DCE.

We also examined the link building strategies of DCE’s competitors and followed the best of these in a transparent fashion, making sure that the client kept full ownership of the work.

Other key relationships:

    • with educational establishments and online resources that specialise in informing the public about the lives of whales.
    • with international media – resulting in mentions in articles in the print press, online media (including BBC news), slots on prime time European media, and a video on BBC Blast (the BBC’s online portal for teenagers).

In short

The work we have done with DCE has delivered a staggering return on investment and has done so in a way that has been incredibly interesting and rewarding.


Stop claiming to be an ethical business – prove it

A better world is possible.

A world where business better serves people and planet.

We all have a role to play in making this happen. A good place to start is by considering what businesses are telling you and why, and whether it is reasonable to expect more than comforting words.

I am in no way anti-business. Not for a moment. But I am anti-bullshit.

Businesses are essential to deliver the goods and services we all need and they do so in a pressured and highly competitive environment.

‘Licence to operate’ is essential yet paradoxically, in the pursuit of good reputation, businesses have ended up less trusted, not more. This is because too many have declared themselves ‘part of the solution’ to the environmental and social challenges we face without adequate justification. In hiding or disguising their negative impacts, overplaying the positives or quietly pursuing practices that are unethical or unjustifiable, businesses destroy public trust.

Spare us the greenwash

People want openness and honesty. They will accept individual acts of community investment or environmental responsibility as laudable but, if overshadowed by a company’s adverse social or environmental impacts, individual acts become just token gestures.

The perception is that businesses seek to project a false image. We all know of advertising campaigns that portray a business as values-driven – one that cares deeply and is at pains to look after its customers come what may – yet our own experience of that business are to the contrary. Such experiences ingrain our cynicism.

Business is disconnected. It is failing to reflect society’s concerns and the public considers it to be short-sighted, self-serving and the cause of social and environmental problems, not the solution.

A tool for truth

However, real solutions do exist and Profit Through Ethics is potentially one of the most powerful. We have created a tool which enables businesses to prove their responsibility credentials and restore public trust. This tool has been built – and is now being calibrated – in collaboration with numerous civil society organisations including ActionAid, BUAV, Christian Aid and Tax Justice Network.

Businesses are currently being invited to join the Profit Through Ethics project to help tune the tool. To participate in the medium and longer term, businesses will be required to demonstrate openness and honesty in an unambiguous and unequivocal way.

In addition, they must commit to certain values (for example, integrity and fairness) and to basic tenets of behaviour such as commitment to achieving social and environmental sustainability; accepting responsibility for all their actions and impacts; and/or not exploiting others.

What we are talking about is real transformation: by providing proof and rebuilding trust, companies not only benefit themselves – by differentiating from their competitors – they also create a symbiosis that will make business work better for all.

Profit Through Ethics will empower people who wish to reward responsible businesses through their consumption, employment and investment choices. In turn, with the support of increasingly engaged, inspired and loyal stakeholders, trusted businesses will be able to compete on the ingenuity and ambition of their social and environmental practices, as well as on price and quality.

Unless and until businesses are competing on these terms, our chances of making the transition to more sustainable ways of living are slim.

So, the next time your come across a business telling you it is responsible, ethical, sustainable, a good corporate citizen or ‘part of the solution’, for all our sakes, please ask it for proof.

Michael Solomon, director of Profit Through Ethics