SEO in 2016. 5 critical factors You MUST know.

Following are 5 critical factors to consider when choosing a SEO agency in 2016.

# 1 critical SEO factor: Never choose an SEO agency that is based on price alone. I know that you are running a business and you are looking for the best deals going around and looking to save as much money as you can where ever you can. I am the same. At Hopping Mad we try to find providors that offer the best vale for money with the largest return on our investment.

Unfortunately, this simply doesn’t work in the SEO space and the reasons for this are many:

– if you choose a cheap SEO package and you are in a competitive niche, the work needed to make your website competitive is a lot and all this takes funds. If you are paying next to nothing to rank in niches such as: health, trades, tourism, travel, legal, or any type of service you are going to find it difficult. Google is already seriously crowded with existing  and very established businesses occupying page 1. For you to dislodge them it’s going to take a serious effort.

– many SEO companies are going to offer you a ridiculously cheap monthly fee in order to sign you up and lock you into their binding contracts. Once they have you they do nothing. Hard to believe, I know, but these guys are trained professionals at pitching you the SEO sales spiel, saying anything to get you to sign up with them, and then it’s all over. You can kiss your money good bye! Don’t just look at the dollar signs as this is what they prey on. Know your niche, get to understand the competitive nature of this area and know that it costs serious marketing dollars (in some cases) to rank.

# 2 critical SEO factor: Do not rely only on SEO to generate new business leads. Yes, it is still the most important lead generation tool, but also focus on other areas such as your social media and how you are engaging your customer base through platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google +. Many companies I speak to simply ignore their social media marketing and treat it as a second tier option. Believe me when I tell you that this is the wrong thing to do. Social media is now as important as SEO so please what ever you do, make sure you are active in this space.

# 3 critical SEO factor: Let’s be honest here. SEO is a competitive business and there are thousands of agencies out there online competing for the same clients. In 2015 a good percentage of these companies where offering some really nasty sweeteners to get your business and they were in the form of:
SEO Guarantees, Pay on Performance SEO, or try SEO for 1 month and see if you are happy with the results or even do not pay a cent till 20% of your keywords are on page 1.

In 2016 as the SEO space heats up and more cowboys enter the market these types of insane offerings are going to become more prevalent and more targeted to small to medium sized businesses. All I can say is if you cherish your business and want to have the slightest chance of getting any type of rankings, please avoid these ‘shonky’ operators at all costs. This is such a critical point as about 50%-60% of the businesses that call us, have actually fallen for these scams. I know it’s hard to believe but these ‘SEO Guarantees’ are sold with such conviction and such skill that people cannot see the evil behind it.  It’s really not their fault as they are not in the SEO space and are unaware of the scams. If someone was to guarantee me page 1 rankings and I was just a business start up (or someone trying SEO for the first time) I would probably give it a try.

Don’t fall for SEO scams like ranking guarantees!

So why are SEO guarantees as a scam? Because you are dealing with a third party; Google, that will never ever tell you about their ranking algorithm. You can only make an educated guess based on your research.

At Hopping Mad Designs we NEVER EVER make these crazy guarantees. What we do is SEO the right way; through a methodical and proven process. There are no guarantees but what we can say is that you have a better chance ranking with us than by trusting agencies that are out right lying to you from the beginning.

# 4 critical SEO factor: don’t ignore your ‘on page’ SEO. That is make sure your website is completely Google compliant. This includes: page titles, descriptions, URL structure, website speed, and lastly content. Make sure that all your pages are filled with relevant, helpful information with at least 500 words. Skipping on the content and having thin pages with a couple of paragraphs is no longer good enough. You need to start looking at all your pages ( especially your home page and your services pages) and make sure they are beefed up with juicy, unique well worded copy.

# 5 critical SEO factor: what ever you do, don’t suffer at the hands of an agency that is not performing well. If you have been with them for say 6-8 months and you are not getting: proper monthly reports, genuine increase in rankings, open lines of communication with your SEO providor…ditch them and move else where. The digital space in 2016 is only going to get more crowded, with fierce competition online for the same clients. So it’s up to you to make the move and look elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to make the decision to ump ship and try another SEO agency. Remember, it’s your business and you have to do what’s best for it.

So there you have it. A handful of critical SEO factors to watch out for. If you need further explanation about this or want to discuss your SEO with a digital agency that can produce real results, please give us a call today on 02 9360 8514. I will clearly outline any issues with your current website & SEO campaign and show you how we can turn your rankings slump around.

We have been doing this since 1998 so in terms of timings that’s probably one of the oldest SEO companies in Sydney. We are still here so we must be doing something right!

How a Social Media Strategy Launched a Surf Travel Company

Well, times have changed and the digital landscape has evolved to a point where social media now plays just as an important role in building your business as Google. Yes, it’s really vital to do SEO, but this should be in conjunction with your social media. They should both be a part of your marketing mix and focusing on one and not the other, is a recipe for disaster.
The emergence of social media and the popularity it now plays in the business environment is really the by product of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. These platforms have become so intertwined in everyday life and so part of the fabric that connects us, that to think of life without these social connections is almost unfathomable. I mean, how could you let a day go by without somehow getting on your Facebook page and seeing what’s happening. It simply doesn’t happen any more. People, and your customers live their lives through these social media channels and this trend is only going to increase.

As generations of kids grow up with an iPhone in their hands 24/7, surfing the net, checking out Instagram, the rise of social media will get to a point that if you are not on it, and actively engaging with people or businesses on this, you are going to be an out cast. Essentially, you are going to be off the grid and out of the business mix.


This is why all businesses no matter where they are or what they are selling or offering MUST be actively promoting themselves on all social media platforms. Without doing this they simply might as well shut their doors. Social media marketing is now as important in generating a buzz about your brand than ever before.

Working at Hopping Mad Designs, I have personally witnessed the rise in the demand and huge need for businesses to start a social media campaign. Previously, let’s say around 2 years ago, everyone I met just wanted us to handle their SEO and be as high up on page 1 of Google as we could get them. How times have changed! Now everyone wants us to manage their social media as well. This is great news as it opens up so many new opportunities for businesses who are finally seeing the light and realising the potential of social media marketing.


Social media strategies that seriously work!

I wanted to, in this blog article, to highlight how effective social media has been for a client of ours World Surf Adventures. The owners of this company approached us about 12 months ago to handle all their digital marketing. This included; web design (incl responsive), SEO, copywriting, content marketing as well as their social media marketing.

Breaking into the Australian  surf travel market was never going to be an easy task. I mean the place is saturated with existing tour operators that have been dominant in the surfing space for years. Getting into this digital space required a very aggressive search engine campaign (currently the rankings are doing really will with over 20 main core ‘high traffic’ keywords on page 1) as well as a targeted social media campaign.

We knew our target audience well. Men aged between 25-55 who were Australian that had a high disposable income. The type of guy that was looking for a surf adventure and could afford to pay for it. These guys would either travel in groups or as singles and wanted to go for about 10 days. They would either go on a surf charter or stay in a surf camp of resort. 
We knew our customer base very well so in a way it made it easy to target them via regular posts on Facebook and Instagram. These posts showcase what World Surf Adventures was offering and the pictures were all of the fantastic surf breaks and luxurious resorts. Getting followers was the easy part. I mean all surfers wanted to be part of this and see awesome surfing pics from all over the world.

They also wanted to see the latest last minute specials and offers and this was all easily done through quick posts on Facebook.

The results through our social media efforts have been unbelievable. We have in the last 12 months managed to propel WSA to the second largest surf travel agency in Australia, with an average of over 3000 unique visitors per month. These results have all been achieved through our really hard efforts in SEO as well as social media. I know our social media team work incredibly hard on posting quality content, keeping the followers entertained and informed – the perfect social media mix.

So if you would like to see the same kind of success that our surfing friends have achieved for their business, why not get in touch with us here on 02 9360 8514. We will clearly define a social media strategy for you, all at business friendly prices. You will find that the world of social media is a great place to take your company and you will start to see the results fairly quickly. This is not a sales pitch to try and get you to call us, this is the reality of how it is now. So it’s really up to you. Either you step up and be proactive or you let your competitors take the initiative and get all those new business leads, begging to be had.

Packaging Design Nightmares How to Avoid Them

The trick here is to follow a set of strict guidelines and if you rigorously adhere to these then you should be on the right path to having the best-looking packaging.

After all, the packaging is what sells the product.


Consumers will first buy with their eyes and this is why professional packaging design is a critical step in the success of your business.

Rule # 1: Never choose a packaging design agency purely based on the price they offer. Basically, if you really want you can offshore this design service at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay in Sydney. In fact, if you look hard enough there are companies out there willing to cut their design service fee just to get your business. The BIG issue here (especially if your offshore your designs) is the quality of work. Recently a business start-up came to our office who had tried to save some money by getting their concept work done in China. Their aim was to sell their product Coles & Woollies, but when I saw the designs I was floored. They were beyond bad. They were shocked and needed to be thrown away.

It is one thing (and I am not saying this is a bad thing) to shop around for the best deal, but to try to go to market with a sub-standard pack design is a big mistake. Nothing good can come of it. The worst part about this is that if you end up going and printing thousands of boxes or cartons you are going to waste a lot of money once you soon realise that your products are not selling.

Rule # 2: Try to find an agency that doesn’t specialise in one particular niche. Many of the larger packaging design houses will tend to focus on one industry. This is great if you are a large pharmaceutical or FMCG business and are looking for an agency that only does this type of packaging. But, if you are looking for a creative agency with an out-of-the-box mindset, one that is very nimble that can cover many niches and industries then you need to go with an agency with more of a graphic design slant.

Also Read: Tips for choosing a creative graphic design agency

Most people think that pack design MUST be done by specific pack agencies. This is WRONG and far from the truth. The best packaging design comes from talented graphic designers ad this is why you should be on the lookout for an agency that has strength in both disciplines.

Rule # 3: Make sure that you get a team that can handle all aspects of the graphic design process. This includes product photography, copywriting, barcodes as well as print management. Any decent agency will be able to handle all of these for you this way the whole process is managed under one roof. You do not want to use different people and companies for this. If there are too many people involved it will complicate the process. Keep it simple and get a studio that is proficient ( or at least has the resources to draw upon) in all these areas.

Rule # 4: Don’t leave it till the last minute. If you have a deadline prepare for this well in advance. Remember, you need to get printing done and this can take time. Plus you do not want to rush your graphic design team. Give them time enough to come up with the creatives. Pushing them to meet a time frame can constrain those creative juices.

Rule # 5: Be flexible in your approach to design. Allow the creative’s input and give them the freedom to be creative. Your brief to them might be specifically based on what your competition has on the shelf. But, give them the opportunity to show you designs that are serious ‘out of the box. Designs that literally blow your competition away. Let them push boundaries and be free to be innovative with their designs. This is how great products become even more successful. By limiting the creative process and placing restrictions on design packaging becomes stale and boring. Every product ends up looking the same and they all take on a similar style + feel. The logic behind this is, that if it works for one brand it should work for another. Note that the newest most successful products you see on supermarket shelves all have their own very different personality. Bear this in mind when speaking with your creative team.

Rule # 6: Having your product designed is one thing but try to look for an agency that can help market this for you in the digital space as well. You are going to need a website, some social media marketing, and perhaps some SEO as well. Think about it. Imagine you are selling a children’s line of clothing or perhaps you have a new medical device you want to market. Yes, you do need packaging, but you also need all the other sales and marketing material to go along with this.

Rule # 7. Don’t be upset if it doesn’t work the first time. Go back again. learn from your mistakes and improve the pack design. Remember that you won’t always crack it the first time so be prepared to go through the process again and think of the positive; at least you know what not to do.

This is where choosing an agency like Hopping Mad Designs is so perfect. We straddle all these areas and can take a product from the concept stage, design the packaging and then market the website online through various social media and online marketing platforms.

How to Find a Seriously Hot Social Media Marketing Agency in Sydney

Strategising and executing a social media campaign that is in line with your brand is not as easy as it would seem.

Many people think it’s just a matter of posting a few articles on Facebook or putting a few tweets out there.

Updated 4 February 2022

Well, if you think that’s going to work, think again, cause it won’t. Executing a successful social media campaign that delivers a return on your time and investment requires planning, creativity and preferably a team that knows what it’s doing. If it’s handled properly the rewards are huge.

If it’s implemented in an ad hoc, random manner, then the results will be poor. All that will happen is a lot of wasted time, effort and unfortunately potential business.

The downside of trying to find a decent social media marketing agency is that there are just so many of them; especially in Sydney. So many web and SEO agencies feel that just because they happen to play around on Facebook with their mates, they know what they are doing. WRONG! Using social media for personal use is entirely different for B2B or B2C. This is why so many social media campaigns turn sour. Businesses choose the wrong company to begin with and they end up stuffing things up completely.

My advice once you have found a few social media companies is to first visit their office so you get a better idea of their setup and how they operate. After all, this is your business and you really want to get a feel for the people to who you are entrusting your social media too. There are so many different agencies out there online that you need to find the right fit. A face to face is the very best solution. If you are a small business looking for a small social media presence then you probably won’t want to hook up with a big agency. Finding the right fit and personality is vital. At Hopping Mad Designs we have used a freelancer in the past called Social Salad Co and the results were remarkable. The owner of this agency was extremely hands-on and was able to give us advice on both Instagram and Facebook marketing.

Also read: Great Ways to Promote Your Business on Facebook

When you are meeting with them, you should be posing questions like who have they worked with in the past, what are the results you have been able to achieve and what are your processes in terms of delivering content, what reporting systems do you use and most importantly who will be doing the actual work? If you like what you hear then go for it. If any of their answers raise warning flags, it would be a good idea to bail at this stage. Essentially, they need to sound legitimate and know what they are talking about.

A reputable social media agency must be able to give you on the spot answers to your questions. A great one to give them is ‘what platforms would suit our business and demographic’. They should be able to answer this ASAP. They should be able to pick the right platform immediately. For example, if your brand demographic is under 18, then Instagram is the ideal platform. If your business is B2B then LinkedIn is ideal. Picking platforms are super easy and they should be able to do this at your initial meeting.

Social media is all about tweaking interest in your brand or business and for this to happen content needs to be published regularly. This can come in various forms, blogs, competitions, news items, specials, gift offers, basically anything to get people to sit up and take notice. A lot of businesses nowadays will try to find social media influencers with a huge following to promote your brand. People can pay a lot of money for this but in many cases, the dividends are huge especially if the influencer has a wide reach and can speak to your audience. The Sydney Morning Herald tells us that Influencers and social media stars have fast become some of the most sought-after names in fitness, lifestyle, fashion, travel and creative industries, and the biggest platform for influencer marketing is undoubtedly Instagram, with brands lining up to be associated with popular social media personas.

Obviously, influencers are OK if you have deep pockets but many SME’s need the help of a social media agency that can offer more budget-friendly solutions.

You need to ask your potential agency how they intend to deliver this content and the frequency of this. You also need to ask them if they have an in house graphic design team that can manage the artwork associated with the campaign. If they have good answers to these questions and they seem to be very organised in their reporting system and scheduling of social media posts then this is a good sign.

If they seem flakey, inattentive, non-committal about when they will implement content, unable to give you case studies, or worse simply hand you over to some account manager with little experience ( that keeps saying they will get back to you with an answer to that question) then this is a sign of things to come.

Be a dominant player on social media

Most businesses really don’t know what they are looking for when it comes to social media and this may affect their decision-making process. Nearly everyone I speak to tells me that they want more followers on Instagram and more likes on Facebook. This is not really how social media works. What we need to do is define the type of results you are looking for; whether they are more traffic to your website, more consumer engagement or higher conversion rates? All of these variables need to be considered before starting any type of social media campaign and these are the types of questions that they should be asking you.

If all they promise is 1000’s of extra ‘likes’ then this is again a bad sign. You can have all the ‘likes’ in the world but does it translate into extra sales or revenue?

In summation, here is a snapshot of traits you should be looking for with your social media agency:

  • Be able to come up with platforms in the initial meeting with some great ideas
  • Clear articulate strategy. No fluffing around or getting back to you later with answers. An experienced team and not someone operating from home or a serviced office. Reliability is key here. Freelancers are dangerous as they can decide to drop your account or go missing in action leaving you exposed – unless they can show you past work and prove their ability. They may be worth a try but never sign lengthy contracts.
  • Precise scheduling of content, even over holiday periods like Xmas. This is critical as you need to seem to be active during these times.
  • Know your market and what they are looking for and what they want
  • Great reporting system with structured reporting on a monthly basis
  • Longevity in the industry with a really good record of previous successes
  • An accountable team that treats your business with respect and not just as a number.