It’s hard to imagine that it has already been 3 years. We started Annelle Digital as a means to improve our craft for SEO – learn and earn at the same time. Being in the SEO industry for almost 8 years at the time, starting a small agency would be another feather in our cap.
My husband and I, together with a very close friend, all with an SEO professional background, started Annelle Digital, a digital marketing agency in the Philippines. We talked to friends and family to ask for referrals to find clients for our small business.
3 years later here we are, 8 employees strong, with international and local clients under our belt. We started with SEO, link building, and web development services, and now Annelle Digital handles social media management. It is fun to think that it started as a side hustle.
Every company event during our initial year was special. It was our first in everything. From our first meeting as an agency to our very first company outing. Every second was savored and cherished, it was sheer bliss..
On our 1st year anniversary, the whole Annelle Digital team traveled to Singapore. We spent 4 days and 3 nights taking in all the tourist spots Singapore has to offer – Little India, Chinatown, the iconic Bugis Street, and Gardens by the bay. Universal Studios Singapore was a whole day affair, to be honest, a whole day is not enough to go on all the rides.
And it is not a vacation in Singapore without a photo at the Merlion, Singapore’s Merlion is known to be the official mascot of Singapore, showcasing a mythical creature with a lion’s head and fish’s body.
We planned our next anniversary celebration to be as fun as the first, but faith has something else in mind.
2020 kicked off rough, with the Coronavirus pandemic and all. We had to cancel any travel celebrations due to Covid restrictions. But it didn’t stop the team from celebrating. Yes, we celebrated still, virtually that is. Be it the 2nd anniversary, or the Christmas party later that year, video conferencing bridged the gap for us to have fun.
Even though the year started not as planned, we are still blessed. Our families are still healthy. We helped a couple of businesses with their SEO. We also gained a new team member.
This year’s third-anniversary celebration will be no different, the pandemic has not yet passed, travel restrictions are still imposed, gatherings are narrowed to a minimum. But we will still have fun and celebrate virtually. And with the distribution of the vaccines, we are optimistic that the future will be brighter for all.
We at Annelle Digital would like to thank everyone who has been a part of our journey. We are always striving to create better services and help more businesses to reach their goal. Our grit and dedication are reflected in our appreciation for quality service. We look forward to working more with you!
I often see various people on social media groups who are new to marketing, people starting a freelance career, or people starting a business and all of them ask the same line of questions.
The who-what-when-where-why-how of marketing.
These are all valid questions, and I understand that people shifting into marketing are unfamiliar where to start. And I’m glad that there are people in these communities who help and guide these newbies with all their concerns.
However, I feel like there is a topic that is frequently overlooked. And in my opinion, this should be the foundation of all our marketing efforts. It’s called “Branding”. And believe it or not, having a branding strategy is vital for any business.
When you hear the names Apple, Coca Cola, Nike or McDonald’s what comes to mind? Did you think about the products or services they offer? Did you think about an experience you had with them? Did a person, commercial, piece of advertising or a specific color come to mind?
If you associated a combination of elements, a color, a product, an experience or an identity to any one of those businesses, you have an idea of what a brand is.
History of branding
The term Brand derives from the Old Norse word brandr or “to burn,” and refers to the practice of branding livestock, which dates back more than 4,000 years to the Indus Valley.
Cattle owners would brand their mark or name into their cattle. This would help them tell one cattle from another.
Branding evolved and eventually this method of distinguishing the maker of a particular product became important when a craftsman or producer would want their goods to stick out on a store shelf. They would put their name, logo or signature on it.
As time passes, consumers would come to know and trust a producer’s product over another.
Today, a brand is much more than a product with a name on it.
“A brand as the intangible, sum of a product’s attributes, its name, packaging and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised” – David Ogilvy, the father of advertising
And that’s exactly what brand is, a summation of attributes associated with the business that make up an experience about that business. A brand can consist of the products or services it offers, a brand is the feeling you get when you step into that business’s location or log on to their website, their logo and the colors or images they use, the words they use and the voice in which they communicate, the stories they tell about what they do, the principles or the values they stand by, the connection they make and how it makes the consumer feel in relationship to them.
Ultimately, creating a brand is creating a personality or identity for your business that differentiates you from your competitors in the marketplace.
“Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” -AMA, Keller (2013)
Why you should have a Brand
We as consumers may think to buy a product mainly on how it tastes, how it feels or what it does, but there’s a lot more association going on at a deeper, experiential level than we think. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should have a brand,
Brands build trust. Brands tend to have a history connected with them. And people who had positive experience with a product or service will probably trust the brand as well.
You wouldn’t trust a condiment or a toothpaste, but you would trust Heinz or Del Monte, or Colgate because it’s quality consistency.
A brand connects through believes it communicates, and draws in customers who share the same beliefs. An example would be the global outdoor lifestyle brand – Timberland.
Timberland announced in 2019 a new commitment to plant 50 million trees around the world by 2025 as part of its pursuit of a greener future. This bold goal builds on Timberland’s longstanding commitment to make products responsibly, strengthen communities, and protect and enhance the outdoors.
Those who want to purchase apparel but also want to connect to a bigger story will be drawn to Timberland.
Brands are a signal to consumers about what they can expect from the product and who it belongs to. Disney is a great example. Disney is considered as one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Disney’s brand is so well known that if you see three interconnected black circles you probably think of Mickey Mouse.
But brand recognition does not only help big name companies. It can be as simple as knowing that a second location of your favorite restaurant will have the same quality, feel, products and services as the first.
Ease of selection
Brands also create an ease of selection for a consumer who has had positive interactions with that brand before. You may always buy Del Monte ketchup because it is a trusted brand, or you may always buy coffee from a local cafe because you grew up buying coffee there.
Branding benefits both the business and the consumer, and it takes the guesswork out of choosing a product on the consumer side and solidifies a returning customer for the business.
Consumers may want to be like the people that will typically use the brand because they want to signal that they have the values or lifestyle that a brand presents.
People may want to purchase Under Armour basketball shoes because they want to be like Steph Curry and revere his Christian values with Steph’s bible verse mantra printed in his signature shoe.
A brand nurtures loyalty that become sticky enough that your customers will follow you to new products and innovations. If your business decides to sell new products or offer new service, consumers will be more accepting of it’s release.
Reduces price sensitivity
Customers loyal to a brand may also have less pricing sensitivity as well. You see this with Starbucks. Even though their coffee costs 10 times more than a cup of Nescafe, loyal customers to the Starbucks brand will readily pay for their coffee.
A nutty twist to snacks
A very good example of a local business that happens to establish a strong brand is Nutty.SelectionsPH. Nutty Selections is a local seller of healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, and dried berries.
Since most healthy products in the Philippines are costly, Nutty Selections’ aim is to promote a healthier lifestyle and snacks to each and every household at a much affordable price.
By sharing their customers nutty selection stories in their instagram account, the business fostered a connection with consumers wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. They also created loyal customers, that in turn, became brand ambassadors for their brand.
Every business is built on a foundation of values and meaning. Today, customers are seeking to engage with the brands they use, so it’s important to articulate what you stand for.
Start Marketing on Social Media
Considering there are billions of people on social media today, it’s easy to see why so many businesses and marketers use the channel to promote their products and engage with customers.
If your company’s social media course of action seems intimidating, Annelle Digital is here to help. We are a team of digital marketing professionals with extensive experience managing local, regional, and global campaigns.
Let us know your business objectives and we’ll create a bespoke digital strategy to help you grow your business.
Upgrading your website is not as simple as changing the template or your color scheme then expect for traffic to come in from social media and search engines.
The best way to put it, redesigning a website is like renovating your home. And just like any major home renovation, it is not a walk in the park. First, you tear down what is not up to code, then you set the foundation in place, then you finally start building.
Renovations may take weeks or even months. It’s not as simple as seen on TV. After a brief video montage and poof! your home is finally done.
Renovating a website may also take time to complete. Especially if your goal is to optimize SEO
This is what we did for BellyBind.com, a wellness business based in Hong Kong that is dedicated to the overall well being of mothers and their child. Supporting clients for over 15 years, the owner Rhy employed the services of Annelle Digital to revamp her website and make it more searchable on Google.
BellyBind’s website is already pleasant to look at by us humans, but that is only one side of the coin. It should also be easily readable by Google spiders.
A new logo
Rhy wanted to redesign her logo first and foremost. She wanted to convey her brand of helping pregnant women. However, she doesn’t want to erase her butterfly logo which she loves so much.
After a few iterations to the logo design, we retained the butterfly wings and added a vector of a pregnant woman. Rhy loved the end result.
BellyBind’s owner Rhy wanted to target keywords that could bring in more traffic to her business. And for small businesses targeting the local market, long tail keywords are more suitable as they are easier to rank for and lead to a higher conversion rate since the search intent is easier to predict.
Targeting long tail terms with search demand will be the first step for Belly Bind and Babies by Rhy then eventually more competitive queries will be targeted when the website gains more authority.
Title tags, Alt-tags and Meta description
BellyBind’s title tag length and meta description should be unique for every page and are ideally within the character limit so as not to have this element truncated. These page elements including headings should be keyword-rich for search engines to understand the page and associate it to various queries.
All of the images in BellyBind’s original website are missing alt-tags. Alt Tag is a short text description of your image and it’s used to give context to search engines regarding the said image
We updated the title tag based on keyword research and meta description for all pages. We also added alt tags for all images on the website. We properly set the H1 for the pages to represent what the page is about.
We found internal linking opportunities to the site. Search engines use links to find out what content on your site is related and the value of that content.
Adding internal links helps search engines understand the relevance of pages, relationship between pages and value of pages. Using the target keywords as anchor text can help the landing page to be deemed relevant to the keyword by search engines.
The website restructure can further allow us to add keyword-targeted internal links
The bulk of the redesign of the website fell on the services page. There are no dedicated pages for the services that should have allowed the page to rank for the specific name of the massage services being offered
To improve the services page, we created 5 new pages for each of the services of BellyBind. Added a service from the existing as well. Not only will Rhy explain her services better to clients, we could optimize to target keywords.
Service Page Before
Services Page After
Each service, once clicked will send you to a separate page describing the service in more detail.
A blog page in my opinion is one of the important parts of a website. A blog is the most effective way to build brand awareness, while providing relevant and useful content to your target audience through consistent blogging.
BellyBind is missing out on this opportunity to connect to their audience.
Blogging is an inexpensive way for small businesses to drive traffic to their site, enhance inbound marketing efforts and attract more prospective customers.
We added a blog in the menu and wrote 4 articles related to the business in order to build authority in the industry and have a chance to rank for more keywords.
Renovating a website, like renovating a home, one must be prepared for delays. A Lot of factors can go wrong. And most of the time you don’t have control when things go south. Having a contingency plan is a must.
Annelle Digital forecasted a 3 month timeline for the project. Good thing everything fell into place and we delivered ahead of schedule. We also threw in 4 social media posts for each of the blogs as a bonus.
It has been a great learning experience to work with Rhy on this project. Who knew pregnant women can get a relaxing massage too? Not only is it safe, there’s a lot of benefits as well.
Have you ever changed your website’s domain then all of a sudden, there is a drop in site traffic? Or added or removed a page from your site, or changed your site’s structure and wonder why you’re getting low website visits after?
Well, if that’s the case, you haven’t migrated your website correctly.
A website migration is a term used to describe any event whereby a website undergoes substantial changes to the site’s location, platform, structure, content, design or UX.
If done improperly, these changes may affect the traffic that your website receives thereafter. For most people, they would not care, thinking traffic will return eventually. But for us SEOs, this can be bad for business.
And this is the topic that Growth Marketer Academy in Hong Kong wants to discuss with its community of professional marketers. On the eve of January 26, 2021, GMA invited Annelle Digital’s co-founder, Rhea Teves, to share her expertise on the matter.
In a webinar entitled “The Role of SEO to website migration – How to keep your organic search performance post-website migration”, Rhea shares the essential factors of the entire site migration process – from strategy, optimizing, through to improving performance post-migration, and explains why you can stand 100% chance to execute a site migration without suffering significant losses.
Rhea Teves is not new to the digital marketing scene. Aside from being the co-founder of Annelle Digital, a digital marketing agency based in the Philippines, she also is a well-rounded SEO professional with over 10 years of experience managing global and APAC region SEO projects, both from in-house and agency roles. Along with this, she has experience managing regional website migration projects.
“When you’re migrating a website, you must make sure it (the website) is crawlable or indexable. You must think of the technical SEO elements. And technical part is the foundation of any SEO project” was Rhea’s opening statement.
“If you don’t want to incur a huge cost or expense post site migration, you must consider SEO at the beginning (of site migration).” She then added.
This is true in so many ways. In an article in BBC last 2019, they ran a story of how ASOS, a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer, reported an 87% decline in profits since 2018, with SEO and organic traffic partly to blame.
“To stay competitive, the retailer launched 200 versions of its website depending on which country the customer is in, which had a negative effect on ASOS’ search engine rankings.” according to the BBC article.
The 200 versions of the ASOS website that the BBC is referring to here are 200 different regional domains used to rank for different languages and regions around the world. ASOS suffered from this, thus the 87% decline in profit.
Any site launch, domain change, or large site change should have an SEO strategy in place to ensure that organic performance is protected.
So why do we need to have a website migration?
Here is a list of the main reasons why.
Add or remove pages
Rebranding or domain change
Site hierarchy change
SEO driven changes
http to https
mobile first indexing
introduction of accelerated mobile pages
Rhea then shared that there are 4 factors to consider when optimizing your website for SEO during website migration
4 factors to consider when optimizing your website for SEO during website migration
Factor 1: Audit the website and discuss Technical requirements to developers
In website migration, you need first to audit the existing website to see what’s working well or not working well in terms of SEO.
.After gathering audited data, you need now to come up with technical SEO requirements with the given findings that you will then give to your developer.
The objective of the technical SEO requirements is to make sure that the website is crawlable, indexable, and equipped to rank.
Technical SEO requirements
Infrastructure and Components
Status Code and Redirects
Robots file and XML sitemap
CMS Functionality for on-page SEO
Factor 2: Make sure you have the right tools
Here are the essential tools that an SEO specialist must be familiar with in order to perform our roles.
1. Crawling Tool
We need to know the current and on-page SEO elements. Examples are Screaming Frog / DeepCrawl / OnCrawl
It shows us the website performance i.e., the pages with traffic and conversions, and what channels are being used. Examples are Google Analytics / Adobe Analytics
3. Google Search Console
This is a free Google tool that provides reports that can help measure your site’s search traffic and performance.
4. Backlink Tool
This shows what are the landing pages of your website’s backlink. Examples are Ahrefs/ Majestic
5. Ranking Tool
Tools that show what pages have migrated and how they are performing pre and post-migration in terms of ranking for important keywords. Examples are BrightEdge / Accuranker / Advanced Web Ranking
Factor 3: Gather and Analyze data
Use the SEO tools to gather and analyze data needed for website migration.
First, gather a list of active pages and determine what are the must-have pages to migrate.
Second, determine what pages not included in the must-have list that are receiving the most traffic or bringing the most conversions.
Third, create a list of the old URLs including HTML, pages, PDF, images, and paid media landing pages
Lastly, extract the keywords driving traffic to the site and pages receiving organic traffic and then track them.
Factor 4: Retain existing website authority
Probably one of the most important factors in site migration. You need to redirect pages to keep link equity.
Link equity is a search engine ranking factor based on the idea that certain links pass value and authority from one page to another. Links that pass equity are one of many signals that Google and other search engines use to determine a page’s rankings in the SERPs.
So, it is important that if you have existing link equities, to redirect them to your new site via a 301 permanent redirect or a 302 temporary redirect.
Steps to take to keep and further improve your SEO performance
The four factors mentioned earlier is just to ensure that the existing website’s performance is retained. But your SEO effort must not end there. It is a continuous effort here on out, to better improve your website’s SEO performance. You need to consider additional strategies to increase SEO performance.
Track SEO performance
Prepare a pre-launch performance report and a post-launch performance report in order to compare the data and see how you are doing after site migration.
Check the ranking, organic search traffic, page loading speed, Google search console queries and pages, and if there are any 404 pages or broken pages.
Conduct quarterly website health check.
You should conduct a quarterly website health check in order to see if there are any irregularities in your site. By using the crawling tool like Screaming Frog, you can see if your site’s internal links can be crawl.
You can check if there are missing, duplicate, too long/too short tittle tag, meta description, and H1. If you have broken links, missing canonical tags, and no-index and no-follow directives.
Analyze data and determine growth opportunity
By using the Google data studio dash board, you can determine opportunities for your website’s SEO performance to grow.
You can optimize your content or on-page SEO as a quick-win strategy. Or create a new page and target new relevant keywords. You can also collaborate with publishers or synergize your SEO and SEM efforts.
Move on to off-page SEO
Off page SEO refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages.
Think about off-page SEO as building your site’s authority, and without this, your site won’t outrank those that already have higher authority. It is important for businesses to build citations for the brand to be recognized.
Google tend to give preferential treatment to recognizable brands leading to the website to rank easier, generate better click rates and less likely suffer from SEO penalties.
Link building is often considered to be the main off-page tactic, but this also includes tactics such as content marketing, social media, appearing on podcasts, landing reviews, building local citations, and more.
Don’t stop optimizing your website for SEO
Optimizing the SEO of your site is a continuous process. Just follow the SEO cycle. Keep yourself updated with the algorithm updates. And adjust your SEO strategy accordingly to changes in the algorithm.
And with that ends the webinar of Growth Marketer Academy. Present marketers learned valuable insights regarding the migration process, and the importance of SEO in site migration.
Visit this link to see the deck that we have used in the webinar:
Gone are the days of the classic company Christmas party. We Filipinos welcome Christmas uniquely among any other nation. We boast the longest celebration for the yuletide season. As early as the “Ber” months start, as far as the celebration of the Epiphany, Feast of the Three Kings, which is 12 days after Christmas. Now that’s four months of Philippine Christmas mania.
The Christmas of old
Imagine entering the mall on September 1st and hear the echo of Christmas songs played on the mall speakers. Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in our hearts” and Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” graze the ears of mall-goers. Christmas flash sales pop up every week.
We head to the streets and marvel at larger-than-life Christmas decorations on building facades, lamp posts, and homes. From Christmas trees, inflatable Santa, parols, and unending Christmas lights, Christmas is truly more fun in the Philippines.
And now we come to the office Christmas party. Office Christmas parties are a tradition to every adult Filipino. It is time we get to relax after a year of hard work. The time we strengthen the office camaraderie by exchanging gifts with work friends, the office salo-salo, playing games, and the Christmas raffle. And above all else, the office Christmas party is the time new hires go up the stage and perform a dance or song number. Some say it is tradition, others, initiation. A coming of age if you will, “If hindi ka pa sumayaw sa Christmas party, hindi ka pa officially empleyado”(If you haven’t danced at a Christmas party, you are not yet officially an employee) a buddy of mine jokingly uttered in the past.
The pandemic killed the office Christmas party
At the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, everything went haywire. The world stopped. Lockdowns after lockdowns in order to curve the spread of the virus. Restrictions have been placed in order to limit the number of people that may gather in certain places. And just recently, one of those restrictions was that companies cannot celebrate their annual Christmas parties.
How technology saves Christmas
As the world adapts to the new normal, we too slowly change the way we interact with others. Gone are the days of physical contact. The accustomed social norms are shifting to virtual. Virtual meetings, virtual hangouts with friends, online classes, it seems the internet paved the way for people to still be connected though not in arms reach. With the restrictions of not more than 10 people allowed to gather for Christmas, the internet becomes the spark to still celebrate the yuletide season.
Annelle Digital hops on the virtual Christmas frenzy
Annelle Digital too did not back down from the pandemic. The Manila-based marketing agency recently held its virtual office Christmas party via Google Meet.
Annelle Digital’s new hire social media marketer – Paolo Limpiado was introduced to the agency. The agency’s Employee of the Year award was presented to the agency’s Link Developer, Joe Cabriana.
To lighten up the Saturday afternoon, the team played “The price is right” where they figured out the price of various products, in this case, toiletries. Unlike the U.S. game show with the same name, they don’t get to bring the item home if we got it correct. The next game played was the “Bring Me” game where, as the title suggests, bring certain items required by the host. The fastest one wins. These games may be simple, but we had fun and surely our comradeship grew.
We went virtual, but we still have food!
The office Christmas party salo-salo is the much-awaited part of the celebration. Not knowing what food the company will serve, experiencing new flavors, fighting for that last crispy lechon skin. And knowing the fact you can go back to the buffet station and refill your plate.
Annelle Digital’s virtual Christmas party too had food. The agency surprised their employees with delicious meals delivered to their homes.
Hotties Gourmet Sausages is a gem located in Marcos Highway, Antipolo. They serve 8-inch sausages in a bun (or with rice), served with the toppings of your choice, together with fries or onion rings. Another must-try from their establishment is their famous Hungarian Sisig and Flaming Wings.
Big Boy Shawarma is a local favorite hangout spot in Deparo, Caloocan. They serve mouthwatering 100% beef shawarmas, either served in pita bread or rice. A crowd favorite are the nachos and cheese sticks. And if you happen to visit them, try their sizzling meals, for sure it will sizzle your food cravings.
Shamtea is the King of Teas located also in Deparo, Caloocan. From mozzarella sticks to their saucy chicken bites, their unique take on finger foods will surely satisfy your cravings. Best paired with their specialty milk teas, and you have a winning combination.
Goldenarc Food Business is an establishment in Deparo, Caloocan that sells frozen packed foods. But that’s just one of their repertoire. They also serve quality and affordable cooked meals to customers.
Capping the event with a photo, or in this case, a screenshot of all the people that make Annelle Digital a successful digital marketing agency. Life may throw a stone at you. But nothing can dampen the human spirit. Strong, relentless, and adaptive to any situation. We will come out of this pandemic stronger. Merry Christmas to everyone! Wishing you a fruitful New year!