Advertising and SEO

It is easy to presume for everyone nowadays that they know the first thing about advertising. After so many years of being invaded by publicity everywhere we turn, we know the sales pitch, we can see a mile away what the product is about and whether or not it satisfies our needs. Since everything has more or less been done or said before the customer is now educated and therefore very hard to impress and surprise. And thanks to Mad Men, the customer has now a bit of background information about the business of advertising as well.

Adverts are history. Nobody watches an advert and says “hey, I really wonder if that product is what I’m looking for!” anymore. Sure, ads are still part of a selling campaign, but the tactic has begun to change. It’s no longer about the art of presenting a new product to the market, it’s about who is supporting that product. Big brands like Virgin, Gillette, Volkswagen and many others have asked the help of celebrities to advertise for their brand in order to push their sales forward. People nowadays are too distracted by their own busy life to stop to look at an ad and reflect on it. If they want something they would simply go online and look for what they want.

Big brands have begun to tailor their ads to fit in with the modern man. Google has been for a few years now the go-to place to find everything one needs. Like a town’s elderly, what Google says goes. As a result, business owners need to get their website, which advertises for their business, ranking as high as possible in the Google result pages. And that’s not all. To get that high ranking, a website has to have an impeccable content describing the business, advertising for it and offering information to the potential customer at the same time. Google gets the customer through the door, the website itself has to convince the customer to buy the product.

If anything, building a business website is making a sales pitch that doesn’t look like a sales pitch. And this sales pitch has to convince the google search engines first and foremost. They are operated by algorithms that process information in a very mathematical, yet secretive way. SEO experts are still trying to identify the exact factors that get one website to rank higher than another. They advise website content writers to think about the customers reading their content, and not about the crawlers that process the information in order to rank it on Google.

Target audience is always one to bear in mind when writing content for a website. Just like writing for an ad, only thinking at a larger scale. Content editing and web usability are all part of the SEO strategy of advertising. Online advertising has become much more popular than our traditional commercial viewing while watching TV. People nowadays spend much more time in front of their computers than watching TV, therefore businesses need to change their medium and tactic in order to have success and gain more customers.

Just like an ad on TV that prevents one from changing the channel, the website has to be appealing enough at first sight in order to prevent the web user from surfing away from the page. The website has to mirror the same values as the product the business is trying to sell. It has to have an appealing layout, it needs to be easy to browse through, be informative and focus on one thing, a page at a time. By offering the web user a good experience while visiting one’s website, one can be sure that the user will visit again that page and more often than not, become a regular customer, recommending the business to other people as well.

Its name is Words. Keywords

For those who want to have a successful business on the internet, managing keywords is one of the most important things of SEO. Looking back to the beginnings of the internet age, Google search engines were not as complex as today. The algorithms were clearer and simpler and it was easier to know how to get to the top of the search results: use the keywords relating to your business as much as possible.

The algorithms have evolved and now the search engines, the crawlers, have become much more sophisticated. They are looking at more than just finding the same keywords a hundred times in a 600 word content on a page. Keywords are still very important but the context in which those keywords are being used has become part of the search algorithms as well. Not only that, but the way in which keywords are used is not to be disregarded by content writers. Search engines are able to identify words that are synonyms with the established keywords on the page and will rank well pages that use a wider range of well chosen words describing a service.

For the better use of keywords on the page, Google has created the AdWords tool. It helps businesses to learn which keywords  and keyword combinations are looked for the most by potential customers. Thus they know what combination of words they should use on their page to go up in the search result hierarchy.

Let’s take a practical example. Using Google Adwords, someone who is in the business of selling phone insurance can check what are the most popular searches, what are the average monthly searches on those particular keywords on a 12 month period and even the average cost per click, which helps create an advertising plans for one’s business.

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The Keyword tool by Google AdWords is showing in even more detail the habits of web users and acts as an inspiration of writers. Using the same example of the “phone insurance” keyword search, one can discover multiple combinations of words and improve on their website content. For instance, many web users are looking for “cheap phone insurance”, “mobile phone insurance” and most often than not they specify the type of phone they are looking insurance for. This gives writers ideas on how to mix up their keywords with their content for great Google search engine rankings.

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Keywords are not the only factor that one has to take into account in order to have a successful business online and rank well on Google search engines. A website creator has to consider other things such as content, design, meta descriptions, links and their anchor text. These are of course made up of carefully chosen words, which should be derived from the main keywords on the page. Links from well established websites are useful in supporting a page by directing its customers to it. Social media is a very useful and important tool used to advertise one’s job and to get as many websites to link to their page. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn to name a few, are helpful in creating contacts and generating these supportive links.

Google algorithms are only known by Google operators. SEO experts can only guess how information on the web page is fed to the Google search engines, but continuous research is made on the subject, just as continuous updates and improvements are made on anything that has to do with technology every day. This leads to continuously improved SEO strategies of online marketing and to strongly built websites.


Cary Grant vs the Production Code

Cary Grant wasn’t born in Bristol in 1904. Rumor has it he was born on the set of She Done Him Wrong in 1933, having been spotted on the studio lot by none other than Mae West. She cast him in the movie and a long successful career was thus started. And what could be easier? He was young, tall, dark, handsome. He had a lot of charisma, talent and sex-appeal. He also seemed to fit very well into that mad world of 40’s and 50’s Hollywood.

He was no longer Archie Leach. Archie Leach was left in Bristol, still performing pantomime at the Hippodrome theatre. If anything, Archie Leach remains in movie history as the clumsy and naive barrister played by John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda (1988). In fact Cleese was paying a tribute to Cary Grant, borrowing his real name for the protagonist of his award winning comedy.

Funnily enough, by coincidence or not, the film that made him a star, She Done Him Wrong, prompted the creation of The National Legion of Decency. The sexual chemistry between Cary and his co-star, the sultry Mae West did not go unnoticed by the censors, the film being banned in Australia, Finland and Austria, as well as the state of Atlanta. Cary Grant’s career would soar from this point on and his talent as both a comedian and a dramatic actor would gain him international fame and respect in Hollywood.

It is easy to forget that the Production Code was set in place for the majority of Grant’s career, forcing quite important restrictions on his performance. He was one of the many actors to be working within the boundaries of the Code, but he was one of the few that seemed to thrive on it. His comedic talent of delivering double entendres helped him keep things decent enough for the censors and exciting enough for the audience to enjoy.

He helped create the fast paced kind of comedy, based on extremely snappy and witty dialogue. Comedies like Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), to name a few, were very much ahead of their times and are still getting big laughs out of a modern audience. Even in more serious roles, Cary Grant was showing his suave leading man attributes. His collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock on films like Notorious (1946), North by Northwest (1959), To Catch a Thief (1955) has become legendary. Hitchcock never took the risk of casting Cary Grant in a role as a villain, but he did state that Grant was willing to take such a step, not shying away from challenges in his career.

He expressed a particular dislike in the style of Method acting and its three main representatives: Marlon BrandoMontgomery Clift, and James Dean. He was quoted as saying “Some producer should cast all three of them in the same movie and let them duke it out. When they’ve finished each other off, James StewartSpencer Tracy and I will return and start making real movies again like we used to”. (source

He showed thus lucidity in observing that times were changing and acting was changing as well. His style of acting belonged to the golden era of Hollywood, where the Code was making things difficult and exciting at the same time and where braving through a restrictive set of rules to make a picture was a work of art in itself.


Film Studies and SEO

What does cinema have to do with Search Engine Optimisation?

One might say the two have nothing in common and that might very well be true.

Cinema is all about creative ideas, putting one’s visions into practice and giving shape to one’s fantasies. A filmmaker has to find the perfect way to capture his abstract thoughts and structure them in a way that can be understood by the audience. There are of course exceptions to the rule, where filmmakers deliberately choose to play with the audience, giving new and original shapes to their visions, creating new types of cinema.

But if we were to look at standard traditional cinema, it is quite similar to SEO. For someone who can understand film and has no notion of SEO whatsoever the concepts are quite similar:

  •  SEO, like films, is about getting the best out of an idea and structuring it so that it can be understood, seen and liked by as many people as possible.  Well structured movies are easy to follow and enjoyed by a wide audience. The same thing applies to the process of website optimization. 
  • Like most mainstream films, SEO focuses on sending a message. If a film tells a story, then it has a message for the audience. Doing SEO for a website is about presenting that story in a compelling way for the viewer/reader. Sending the message across and having an impact is one of the most important things to do when optimizing a website.
  • Daring filmmakers are most often hailed as geniuses. They manage to get a simple idea across in a very original, cutting edge manner. Doing good SEO for a website is about doing the same thing. Getting a website to rank high on Google search engine is about being daring and creating original content that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
  • Movie stars are the best publicity a film can get. Most people check the cast before going to the cinema. They even look for a movie starring their favorite actors. In SEO world, the “movie stars” are the keywords: before accessing a website, people look for the keywords they’re interested in. Depending on the SEO ranking, they will click on the top websites out there.
  • In order to get to the top of Google ranking, websites have to have killer content: simple, but original and straight to the point, exploiting well those keywords, using their power well on the page. Similarly, to earn that much coveted Oscar, movies have to have a brilliant script: expressive, well structured and just like website content, exploiting well those movie stars and enhancing their power on the big screen.
  • Links are very important for good website optimization. When a website is being referenced by another website, and then another, people, as well as search engines, start trusting that website as somewhat of an authority in that particular domain. At the same time it helps people gain more perspective and knowledge on the subject. Similarly, in cinema, word of mouth and critical reviews are just as important for movie promotion and box office success. When a friend recommends a movie to you, and then you read a positive review in a movie magazine, your urge is to go and watch that movie.
  • Promoting a film and a website works in strikingly similar ways. Wording is very important for both domains as movie/website titles have to be catchy, memorable and to summarize well what the movie/website is about. Good metaphors work as well, as they stimulate the audience curiosity and make them want to read the article/watch the movie. Another thing that has to do with website promotion are meta descriptions. These work like movie tag lines, offering that little extra information about the website, just enough to get the reader to click on the website.

Ultimately both cinema and SEO are all about selling a product or an idea and getting to be at the top of the box office or the Google search engine results. Both processes require practical skills, creativity, originality and structure. Essentially, the film industry can benefit a lot from SEO and online marketing, thus finding yet another way to promote their product.