Digital Marketing Blog

11 Books to Boost Your Leadership and Innovation

We live in an increasingly connected world of shifting environments, agility, and innovation. As customers, workers, and partners continue to relate to organisations in new ways, it becomes especially important to react to this age of increased connectivity by understanding how people interact and adopt a specific focus to keep up with the changing face of business. However, it can be difficult to intuitively know how to realign your business practices in a modern, interconnected world.

In my opinion, there is no better way to help you in re-orienting your digital leadership in the best possible direction than by learning from the success and mistakes of others. It’s also important to note that you needn’t manage staff to develop as a leader; in fact it can be even more beneficial to extend your leadership knowledge before you pick up undesirable habits.

The collection below features some of my favourite leadership books to boost your leadership and innovation:

  1. Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
  2. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
  3. Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools
  4. Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning
  5. Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times
  6. Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live
  7. The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable
  8. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
  9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
  10. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

These texts don’t have all the answers but they start a journey of discovery that you can use to deliver better results in various business environments.

What are your favourite books on leadership and innovation? Feel free to share them below.

Networking as an Introvert needn’t be scary

These days, what matters is not who you know – but who knows you. That’s why networking has become such a talking point within small business circles. Whichever point you are in your career, whether you are a business owner starting a new venture or a professional looking to expand your circle of peers, networking plays a crucial part to the success of any business and can help grow your profile; encouraging you to connect with people who may become an integral part to your business or career plans in the near future.

For many the benefits of networking are vast and I truly believe it’s worth doing. The problem is that, for those of us with introverted tendencies, networking is hell.

Networking as an introvert

I think Andrea Ayres put it brilliantly:

I’m an introvert and people scare the hell out of me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those super shy types but I’m not one to initiate a conversation if I don’t have to. IntrovertIn fact, very few people are fully introverts or extroverts, instead they probably share some characteristics of both but that doesn’t make social situations any less painful for those of us who lean towards the quieter side of that spectrum.

Networking events are usually big, busy affairs with hundreds of outgoing people talking and exchanging business cards. A scene I used to both admire and detest. I’m not good at these events. They, again as Andrea put it, “scare the hell out of me”. they are draining, nerve-wracking and inevitably for me, largely ineffective.

An introverts alternative to “networking”

Disillusioned by networking events, I stumbled on a sweet spot. Back in April 2014, I was honored to be asked to speak at BrightonSEO, a big conference to around 2000 people. I was terrified as I’d never spoken at anything more than a school play before but it was too good of an offer to turn down. Leaving the stage after the talk I felt relieved that it had all gone well. I sat through the remaining talks in my section while I planned how to escape the crowds to get a coffee somewhere quiet during the break when something miraculous happened. People began to talk to me.

One of the most difficult things for a nervous introvert at a networking event is to start a conversation with a stranger. I mean, what do you say? how do you keep a conversation going with a stranger? what if they don’t want to talk to me? what if they think my opinions are stupid? – these have been real thoughts in my head at one point or another. But here I was, networking with no effort expended. The conversation flowed perfectly as they asked me to expand further on the points I had made and spoke about their own experiences with entity search. I had ended up having 5 great conversations with some really nice people I’d have never of dared to approach otherwise.

A few weeks later, I was talking again. A friend of mine was looking for speakers for the Digital Marketing Show at the ExCeL in London, and I jumped at the chance. Hoping to recreate the networking success I had achieved in Brighton, I came off stage to be greeted to a small line of people who wanted to chat to me. That’s when I knew there was something to this speaking malarkey…

After two events I had spoken to more people than I had ever spoken to at the many events I’ve been to over the years. I’ve found no more efficient way of networking as an introvert than giving a talk. I could get my point across, leave my twitter account around for other introverts to chat online, have a few conversations with people who seek me out, then head home to recharge. Bliss.

I’ve since found a wonderful book on this subject called “Presentation Skills For Introverts where the author, Rob Dix, gives further advice on dealing with introversion in networking situations. I highly recommend it.

Do you have any advice or tips for introverts looking to network more successfully? Give us a hand and leave a comment below!

6 Time Saving Hacks for SEOs

The life of a digital marketer is one of constant multi-tasking. One second you are brainstorming ideas for interesting content, and the other you are auditing a website for technical SEO issues. The name of the game is productivity; and the way to achieve this is through better organising your time to waste less on activities that don’t add value and spend more time on delivering for your clients and employer.

That’s why I got in touch with some really smart digital folk to help all of you save valuable time and become more productive and successful SEOs by providing you with their top hacks to help you get more done. Without further ado; let’s get started:

Simon Penson, Managing Director at Zazzle Media

“I spend a lot of time looking at competitor and market data and one of the toughest jobs is to understand how much overlap there is, especially when you are really trying to nail down a very relevant competitor for data dive purposes.

One way of doing this quickly without having to guess or spend hours looking at mountains of Excel data is to utilise a vastly underused little tool hidden within the SEMRush suite. In the ‘Tools’ tab you can find a Domain V Domain option and in here it is possible to paste in your competitor short-list. From here you can see how many keywords they share and it is then very simple to refine the list to a ‘best match’ scenario. From here you can then dive much deeper.”

Kevin Gibbons, Managing Director at Blueglass UK

“My tip is to learn when to switch off – I’m suggesting this because it’s the one I’ve found most difficult personally, but knowing when to stop is essential towards keeping a clear way of thinking.

Focused effort is so much more valuable – find the environment that allows you to block out any distractions and get the best results. One thing that helped me was to remove all social apps from my phone last summer and I haven’t missed them since – an even more surprisingly, I did the same with email 6 weeks ago and the world has kept turning too :)”

Gareth James, Freelance SEO at SEO Doctor

“Lots of automation tools are great for helping digital marketers save time, but my best time hack has been to actually work more efficiently. I started using the Pomodoro Technique last year and found it worked really well for me.

You basically work for 25 minutes then have a break for 5 minutes completing tasks in each time slot. Sounds simple, but it actually trains you to get tasks done faster and avoid other distractions like social media or watching Jeremy Kyle if you’re a freelancer.”

Kirsty Hulse, Head of SEO at Found

“Re-purpose old content. Often it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to inject new life in to successful old content than creating something new from scratch.

Got an infographic from a few months ago that worked well? Use a tool like Powtoon to turn the infographic in to a short video animation; or take similar content, give them a refresh and group them to create a “guide”. If you work in a fast paced industry – take snippets from old blog content and discuss new perspectives and how this may have changed.”

Steve Morgan, Freelance SEO at Morgan Online Marketing

“As part of my freelance work, I’ve done a bit of link removal/disavow work for clients who have been affected by Penguin and/or have acquired a Manual Action penalty. The fiddliest part of the work used to be grabbing the inbound link data from multiple sources (Google Webmaster Tools, Majestic, Open Site Explorer, etc.) and then removing the duplicates while keeping hold of the most information (as – for example – the GWT data only gives you the linking URL, but other tools give you more data, such as anchor text, Domain Authority, the page being linked to, etc.).

I found out about URL Profiler from someone and gave it a try. If you put all the data files into it, it automatically strips out the duplicates and gives you the data that you want for each and every URL. It saves so, so much time. My current licence ran out, but the next time I’m doing this type of work for someone, I’m renewing it straight away.

I also like to use the CONCATENATE formula in Excel to speed up with the disavow file creation process, which combines bits of data together from multiple cells into one cell. Fill Column A with “domain:”, put the actual domains in Column B (e.g. “”), use the CONCATENATE formula in Column C – grabbing Columns A & B’s data – and it’ll combine them to make “” in every instance. URL Profiler can even give you just the domain for every link, making Column B really easy to put together, too.”

My own time-saving top tip

Reporting is the bane of digital marketer’s lives; regardless of their in-house/freelance/agency status. The measurable nature of the platforms we work on mean that we are required to constantly report on a number of metrics. My top time-saving tip is to spend a little time gathering reporting requirements and use those to automate as much as possible. Tools like AWR Cloud allow you to automate regular ranking reports, social media follower growth and (my personal favourite) visibility tracking for a large number of keywords.

Bonus tip for in-house SEOs – Have multiple product lines? Use automated Visibility Reporting through AWR to offer product / section level performance tracking to add value to the business on a more useful level.

So there we have it. A few time-saving ideas that have hopefully got you thinking about ways you can minimise wasted time within your working day. If you have any time-saving hacks you’d like to share; pop them in the comments. I’ll be updating the post to include the best ones.

How to get Social Profiles on the Knowledge Graph

As you know I’m a big fan of talking about semantic search so hearing the news that Google have recently opened up the Knowledge Graph to include social profiles for brands meant that I had to investigate. In this post we look at how we can use JSON-LD markup to add your social profile information to the Google Knowledge panel for branded searches.

What social profiles can be marked up?

There are a whole host of social media platforms out there but which ones can you add to the Knowledge Graph? Well; using structured data specify social profiles from:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • LinkedIn
  • Myspace

Although you can’t get other social profiles to currently show within Google search results, it’s still a pretty good idea to include other accounts where you can.

What structured markup do I need to add to my business’s website?

The vocabulary and JSON-LD markup format are an open standard for embedding structured data in web pages. If you’re not familiar with it Aaron Bradley over on SEOSkeptic wrote a fantastic post on JSON-LD and it’s relationship with the Knowledge Graph that can help you out.

Essentially it’s pretty straightforward and requires only a few elements:

  1. The Organisation type
  2. Your business name
  3. Your websites official URL (homepage)
  4. Links to your social profiles referenced through the SameAs attribute
  5. The social profiles in your markup must also exist on the same page.

Here’s the template for a business to specify their social profiles in their Knowledge Graph (assuming they have a Knowledge Panel in the first place):


What about my personal social profiles?

Well, I’m a sucker for hacking the Knowledge Graph for my own personal amusement and it seems that you can add personal social profiles to the Knowledge Graph too. Though this may not work for everyone; it is a clear step in giving search engines a much bigger hint at who we are and where we converse online.

Here’s the template for a person to specify their social profiles in their Knowledge Graph (assuming they have one):

You can see this code in action on the blog; just view source.

You can insert these tags into any area of a HTML page on your company’s official website, whether that be the or happy in the knowledge that it won’t affect how the webpage looks to users. Furthermore, thanks to Google’s improved  Structured Data Testing Tool, you can now verify that your JSON-LD markup can be processed properly; so when Google next crawls the page, your social profiles will become eligible to be used in search results.

Simple eh?

Will you be using this? I’d love to hear how you are using structured data to deliver more information to crawlers in the comments!