Website Conversion Rates – One Tip to Double Your Conversion Rate

June 30th, 2010 by Peter Cullen

What one ongoing change could you make to your website that might double your website conversion rate? What one single change might transform your business?

Amanda Simmons posted a decent blog over at Search Engine Land today outlining 5 Tip to Improve Conversion on B2B landing pages.

One of these tips really stands out for me and from what I’ve seen it’s of the most underused conversion rated task that businesses engage in online.

Think about your local high street for a  moment, or stores at the local mall or shopping center. Have you ever stopped and taken a long hard look at the shop windows you pass every day? Have you noticed, (maybe you have sub-consciously)  how the shop windows change from season to season, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Spring? Even mid season changes seem to be becoming more and more fashionable. What are the the shore owners doing? Why are they changing their shop windows every few weeks? It amazes me the time and effort even small store owners put into changing their window display.

Why do they do it and what’s it got to do with my website?

Obviously the reason they change the store windows is that they are trying to attract you into their store. They are trying to stand out from the competition and show you something that is more compelling. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen people stop at a store front and be lured in by what’s in the front windows,  special offers, sales, new season range…etc.

These store are always trying something different in the hope that more passing trade will be lured into their business. They are always testing new ideas, new concepts. The more creative they are, the more they stand out, the more people are attracted to their store.

Now, let’s turn this around and ask you a very simple question – ‘How often do you change your website store front?

How often do you take a critical look at your website and think about what it is saying. What is your website trying to sell?

How often do you ask new/existing clients, ‘What was is about our company in particular, that made you do business with us?’ How often do you take this feedback and communicate it on your website’s homepage (store front). What you are trying to understand  and condense here to a few simple words is your value proposition. You’re trying to answer the question that is on every new prospects mind, ‘Why should I do business with you, What’s in it for me?’

Amanda gives a great example of the value proposition from rhapsody.com, shown below.

Example of great Value Proposition

Another great example of a company experimenting with their homepage is Google, take a look at two of their early homepages.

Google Homepage Early Days

or what about this one…

Google Homepage early version

and eventually of course to the super streamlined, very user friendly current homepage…

Google current homepage

The one thing that can and will double or triple your website conversion rate is testing.

Testing different calls to action, testing different value propositions, testing different images.

Get one thing straight about your homepage, your traffic doesn’t care about you, about your company, about how many awards you won. They only want to know one thing – How Can You Make My Life Better?

Start testing today and start measuring the results. A/B testing is the way to really make an impact on your online sales. Getting tons of traffic is great, getting tons of traffic that is converting in ever increasing numbers is the key to stellar success.

So, what’s the problem, why is every company online not engaged in rigorous testing of their homepage and their value proposition?

Honestly, I don’t know. At Interleado we change our homepage about once every quarter, probably should even be more frequent than that. Maybe those responsible for your company’s website lack the time or motivation when it comes to improving your sites conversion rates.

What would happen to the store on the high street if they didn’t change their store window? Would they be losing customers by failing to keep up with the changing seasons?

What’s your thoughts? Why are website conversion rates so poor and why do many business not change their web store front?

Have you been involved with a company that continually evolve their value proposition on their homepage? What results did you see?

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Search Engine Marketing Ireland – Who’s Responsible?

June 29th, 2010 by Peter Cullen

As part of a recent marketing campaign, Interleado have been talking to a lot of companies in Ireland about their website.

Three very clear pictures emerged from our campaign about the attitude Irish companies have to their website…

  1. In larger SME’s it often very unclear who is actually responsible for the website. The IT function invariably get landed with the responsibility of talking to anyone about the company’s  website requirements.
  2. When there is a non-IT person tasked  with looking after a company’s website, very often this person has other responsibilities and find little time to actually develop a clear plan for marketing their company’s wares successfully online.
  3. There is still a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding the differences between organic search activities, paid search activities, Local Search..etc

Naturally the first question is, ‘Is it only Ireland that has a problem with defining internal responsibilities when it comes to Search Engine Marketing?’

I’d like to get your feedback on this one. From my our own experience, similar issues exist with UK companies, but not with US companies.

Let’s take a look our three findings and tease them out.

The IT Guy Approach to Internet Marketing

When a company gets a new website, the IT guy is sometimes landed with the ongoing responsibility of managing site. This can be anyone from the IT Director to the tech support guy. Probably because it’s seen as a more technical role, what with the ftp details, uploading changes, domain registration,  email related issues, spam fighting – it’s all technical right?

The obvious problem with approach  is that the IT will only ever look after the IT related stuff and will never get involved in thinking about promoting your latest products or services. I think this approach is maybe a legacy of the days before content management systems (CMS) . Before the days when anyone who would write a sentence in Microsoft Word could edit a webpage or even god forbid develop  a new page from scratch.

Some of the  CMS solutions on the market today are very easy to use, the likes of Wordpress or Joolma spring to mind, but some still leave a lot to be desired in terms of usability for the complete technophobe.

The marketing executive approach to Internet Marketing

Picture the scene! You have a very competent, very experienced person that is key to your business. You have faith in them, proven years of loyalty to the company. Everyone is talking about the web, everyone’s getting business from the web these days, we need to ‘up our game’ on the web. The only thing we need to decide is who will look after our new web strategy.

Who’s going to be the internal champion for our new strategic online marketing plan? Who can we trust. Who wants the responsibility? You have a management meeting and you decide to give it to a member of your team that is doing a great job on the marketing side of things. They have proven themselves in supporting the sales guys over the last few years. They know the company inside out and know the customers. You give the responsibility to Jane.

Now, notice I said you give the ‘responsibility’, not the job. This is inevitability where the problems starts, because now Jane not only has to continue to deliver on her existing responsibilities, she now is responsible for marketing the company online. Can you guess where Jane is after 3 months? Frustrated?Annouyed? Left the company?

What happens is that nothing happens. Jane’s primary responsibilities will always win out over the new online marketing responsibilities. What also sometimes  happens in this situation is that nobody is quiet sure what responsibilities one person has over another. The IT Guy looks after part of the website, Marketing another, Sales another, Support another. You end up with nobody really taking the responsibility or managing the development of the business online.

I know this is changing and more and more businesses are appointing staff whose sole responsibility is to manage the online marketing of the company, but I still get the feeling that there are many many companies who are still trapped in the traditional sales and marketing roles that have dominated the last 30 years.

The advertising approach to Internet Marketing

If you are running an advertising campaign with Google Adwords, or Yahoo or Bing, does this mean your business is running an Internet Marketing campaign? Let me put it another way, if your business is targeting 25% of the online market, are you running an Internet Marketing  campaign, or are you just dipping your toe in the water?

Internet Marketing, like everything else these days is becoming more and more fragmented. Putting all your eggs in one basket is selling your business way short. Internet marketing these days is so much more…

Search Engine Marketing Overview

As the channels to market fragment, so does expertise. It very hard to get one person who knows everything about marketing your business online. Point three is really a fallout from point one and two where nobody rally takes the role of online marketing seriously and you get an ad-hoc approach and possibly the easiest approach to getting visibility is taken. Running a small Google Adwords campaign takes very little time to setup and manage. Running a successful Internet Marketing campaign takes, time, money and serious management backing.

Can you identify with any of the cases above?

Have you been in that situation before?

Are there cultural differences to how business run their business online?

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Is Traditional Publishing on its way out?

June 25th, 2010 by John Trenaman

  • What direction is Traditional News Media going?online news media
  • Recent Developments of Leading Publishing Companies
  • The Future of Online News Media
  • New York Times  & Financial Times Online Strategies

Now that the web offers nearly infinite ad space, display advertising has become a commodity and newspapers find it difficult to compete with ad networks that specialize in more efficient, targeted advertising packages across multiple platforms.

With the increase of different online search applications, we see more people turning to online resources to find instant real time information. Consumers now use several different media sources when searching for information on the web. Where does this leave traditional publishing companies?

According to Mashable, last year ad spending on newspapers was down 9.7% (magazines were down as well), while Internet ad spending had increased 7.5%, as did TV (up 10.5%) and radio ads (up 6%). The future doesn’t look any better for print, with Internet revenue set to overtake newspapers by 2014 or possibly sooner.

forester research

With new improved devices such as the iPad, smartphones, laptops and netbooks , there is no doubt that younger generations are more tech  savvy and increasingly mobile.

The convenience of digital  distribution means that many consumers no longer need or want newspapers or other  forms of print media.

With mounting print and distribution costs and the loss of classified advertising  revenue to websites like eBay, Craigslist and Google, traditional media is losing ground.

According to Mashable, in the States alone, Newspaper revenue fell by 28% in the first three quarters of 2009, after declines of 17.7% in 2008 and 9.4% in 2007.

As the number of subscribers dwindled, so did the value of print ads on a per-ad basis. Weekly news magazines suffered to a lesser extent; between 2002 and 2009, Newsweek lost 25% and Time lost 18% of its subscribers, while U.S. News & World Report closed its print edition and moved its operations fully to the web.

Recent Developments of Leading Publishing Companies.

As print media revenues continue to dwindle traditional media companies are beginning to look at partnering with Internet marketing companies in order to move into the online marketplace.

McClatchy

The McClatchy Company is the third largest newspaper company in the United States, with 30 daily newspapers, 43 non-dailies, and direct marketing and direct mail operations. McClatchy also operates leading local websites in each of its markets which extends its audience reach. These websites offer users comprehensive news and information, advertising, e-commerce and other services.

The McClatchy Company has recently been offering WebVisible’s online marketing solution to local businesses in several markets, including Kansas City, Mo., Tacoma, Wash., and Fresno, Calif.

The program has been so successful  (advertising sales in March were roughly five times higher than the previous month) that McClatchy and WebVisible are planning to add new markets every month through the end of the year.

The move gives McClatchy’s local advertisers the most efficient way to get found by customers no matter how they’re looking — in newspaper listings, newspaper web sites or search engines, or via mobile phones or navigation devices.

Together with its newspapers and direct marketing products, these interactive operations make McClatchy the leading local media company in each of its premium high-growth markets. By using Web Visible the McClatchy Company is embracing the shift in advertising from traditional publishing to online media platforms.

Gannett Localgannettlocal

Gannett has recently become the latest to hop on this seismic shift in advertising trends.  The USA’s number one publisher recently opened GannettLocal, a small business marketing division based in Phoenix.

They will be selling online marketing services to small/local businesses and those services include SEO and local search marketing

GannettLocal chief Brad Robertson: “GannettLocal is a new business model focused on working with small and medium sized business to provide them a high-touch marketing consultation and a suite of multiplatform solutions (search engine marketing, e-mail, digital display, website, and geo-targeted print/flyers) delivered by a team of dedicated experts over the phone.”

The Future of Online News Media.

It seems the only way for news publishers to survive is by investing resources into innovation online. However, many newspapers while moving to the online marketplace cannot ignore the fact that their audience expects to read their news for free.

Experiments and testing has started in terms of looking at the behaviors of news consumption with digital and interactive forms of storytelling. More importantly, business models are needed that will help generate revenue while still keeping regular traffic flowing to these news sites.

The advice of Financial Times editor, Lionel Barber is;  ”figuring out what is special, distinctive and original about a news organisation’s content and focusing on that in terms of charging.”

Many people believe that these companies may need to come up with new methods of advertising on their sites as the online marketplace is also being squeezed. If they don’t act soon, the future could look bleak for many of these news publishers.

What to do?nyt

Some news media websites have tried using Paywalls in the past to charge people for reading their content, but these rarely worked and in many cases have lead to a huge decrease in online traffic to various news media sites. The simple fact is, if people need to find out information on the web they will go somewhere else and find it for free.

In January 2011, The New York Times will go behind a paywall. However it’s not a complete paywall, it more like a regulator for allowing only a certain amount of articles to be read for free during a given time period.

FINANCIAL TIMESThis regulated paywall is currently being used by the Financial Times and is described as a “metered system”, whereby visitors are limited to five articles per day before being prompted to pay for further access.

Whilst other publications fiddle with adapting their business models to mirror that of the Financial Times, it must be remembered that FT occupies a unique position in the market, enjoying the majority of its circulation amongst businesses as opposed to individuals.

It’s unlikely that The New York Times will remain one of the most-linked-to news sources on blogs or other social media platforms in 2011 if a paywall is in place.

The big question remains to be answered – Would you pay to see news articles from your favorite news sites?

What online news sites would you pay for? What ones would you not?

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Mobile Phone SEO-How is it Evolving?

June 21st, 2010 by John Trenaman

  • What is the future of the Mobile Webmobile seo strategy
  • New browsing habits & Information Sources
  • Your Mobile SEO Strategy

Mobile Web Evolution

The mobile web is growing at a rapid pace, and the way in which people browse it is becoming very different from traditional desktop browsing.

People trying to build up a web presence on the mobile web must realize that the majority of your mobile audience are usually not looking for the same information that your desktop audience is looking for.For this reason it is becoming increasingly hard to create a mobile SEO strategy for your business.

Before the introduction of Smartphones, mobile advertisers were confined to the small screens of traditional mobile units. Web access was unappealing and expensive/ slow web pages on those phones often consisted of nothing more than a few hyperlinks and some text.

The introduction of the iPhone has changed the way we surf the web on our mobile handsets. Mobile web browsing has been brought to a new level of functionality thanks to the introduction of a full touch screen HTML browser. Now, the use of the web on mobile handsets devices has started to make more sense for both smart phone users and advertisers.gps

Click here for a broader explanation of the Mobile web

The Future of the Mobile Web:

Lately we have seen a huge increase in Location based and real time searching on mobile handsets. More and more applications are being used to browse the web in different ways as opposed to just using Google as the only means of search.

How/Where does this leave advertisers to access their web audience? Do they stick with Adwords and organic search techniques or do they find new & different ways to boost traffic to their websites via mobile handsets.

mobile webFollowing Google’s recent acquisition of AdMob, they have introduced “Click to Call” ads. Your business ad now shows up in the SEPRS on the mobile web but there is a clickable telephone number link that connects directly to the business via your Smartphone.

This proves that a lot of people who browse the web are looking for instant information or “on the go” information and may not even want to enter a website.

Most search applications on smartphones are now using your GPS location to give you more personalized and real time search results. Also, with new “check-in Apps” like Foursquare and Gowalla you can now advertise directly to an individual’s mobile when you know they are in a nearby location of your business. This is making Mobile SEO increasingly hard to track and analyze.

These applications are bringing mobile SEO to a new level, where businesses can track down potential customers based on location, instead of having to wait to be indexed in Google’s SERPS (search engine results pages), where they might not ever be found. These “check in” Apps, could be the way of the future for many advertisers. It brings about a whole new meaning to localized searching.

foursquareFoursquare and Gowalla are the two most popular “check-in apps” out there at the moment, with Google Buzz attempting (but failing) to capture some of this market too.

The thing about Foursquare and Gowalla, and these check-in apps, is that they create a connection between yourself and the merchant (business owner). It tells your friends where you are, and then in the aggregate, it tells the services like Foursquare and Gowalla what places have the most activity about them at any given time.

With potential customers sharing their locations means businesses can provide a real-time call-to-action to get them inside their establishment while they’re nearby. Search marketers can utilize location with APIs.

Foursquare is beginning to take off in some major cities and has over 1million users worldwide with ten “check- in’s” per second. Business owners are getting great visibility by interacting with potential customers who are in their locality and reeling them in by offering them discounts on certain products.

For more information and examples of these “check-in” apps click here

Does this pave the way for more methods of “on the go” or location based advertising techniques? Do people have similar browsing habits while on mobile phones when compared to desktop searching?


New Browsing Habits & Information Sources

Downloadable search applications for Smartphones have different input mechanisms that can make them more fun, more interactive or more useful, and in many cases, the results tend to be more specialized and provide more information than a regular mobile web search.

yelpMobile Search Applications are altering mobile SEO. Mobile searchers are actually turning to mobile search applications instead of web search. These include search applications like WikiTude,UrbanSpoon,RedLaser,Trip Advisor,Yelp and Shazam and many more.

For more info on these search apps click here

As the web quickly becomes more mobile and social than ever, we see these kind of Apps filling voids that were mostly left empty throughout the history of search and social media. We see more and more people not using web browsers on mobile phones, they just use different Apps associated with different websites due to their ease of use and quicker download time.

appleWith Apple dominating the Smartphone market, other well known mobile phone brands are constantly playing catch-up. This is due to the popularity and functionality associated with the Apple brand and its hugely popular iPhone. The new 4G iPhone is due to be release next month, with Mashable announcing yesterday that the first batch of devices available for pre-order were already sold out.

Your Mobile SEO Strategy:

Mobile SEO greatly differs to traditional desktop SEO methods. A lot of questions are still being raised about how mobile sites are indexed. Mobile search engines do not index your website for search in the same way as your traditional desktop search engines would.

Whether you create a separate mobile site on a sub domain of your existing domain or you create different css style sheets for different mobile devices, it’s important that website owners understand that your mobile audience usually wants to see very different information than you desktop audience.

seo page 1Most popular social media websites or any websites that have a significant user interaction on desktop devices still saw it fit to “trim” down their existing sites and introduce handy Apps. This allows mobile users to use the main functionalities of these sites while chopping out all the extra information that is not seen as hugely relevant to the mobile market or that could contribute to slower downloading time or rendering issues.
By making your website more appealing to mobile search and attacking rendering issues on different mobile devices you can greatly increase your chances of being found for different key word searches.

For more detailed information on how to tackle Mobile SEO you can check out our webpage devoted to exploring how to create a mobile SEO strategy for your business.

This webpage goes into more detail about rendering issues across multiple handsets, best practices for mobile SEO, as well as all the risks involved with mobile SEO including content duplication and different ways of getting around it.

Read more about your mobile SEO strategy here

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Social Media Audit – Is your Website Utilizing Social Media?

May 25th, 2010 by John Trenaman

In this Posting we will examine:social media audit

  • How to Integrate Social media with your website
  • How to get better Rankings using  Social Media
  • How make your website more interactive

Your Blog

In one of our previous posts we talked about the importance of content syndication. By producing well planned, informational blog articles you can achieving good rankings for both medium & long tail keyword phrases in Google’s SERPS.

This not only helps create brand awareness through organic search. If used correctly, your blog can be used to syndicate your website content to many different sources all over the web.

content syndicationFirst of all, to maximize your websites visibility,your blog should be attached to your domain name. Frequently, I see companies that use external blog URLS’s on Blogger.com or Wordpress.

For example, they might have www.myblog.wordpress.com. Implementing a blog this way is only building the authority of the Wordpress site. When you eventually migrate to your own hosting solution, e.g. www.mydomain.com/blog, any backlinks you’vre built up will be lost when you migrate!

Search engines and people like fresh content. If you are starting a company or personal blog, try and get into the habit of posting an article once or twice a week. This is obvious right? Of course it is, but starting and maintaining a blog is not something you should get into lightly. You need to set aside 3-4 hours per week to research, write, edit and publish one or two really good articles.  If your company is starting a new blog make sure that the person responsible has enough time within their diary to actually write the content.

If you produce good content, the page rank of your blog URL will increase over time from people linking back to your articles. When your page rank increases, any additional internal cross linking and other link strategies become much more effective, leading to greater visibility for your website.

Open Source CMS:

Joomla and Wordpress are two of the most popular open source content management systems (CMS). Many websites and blogs run on either Wordpress or Joomla because they are flexible platforms with large user support communities, and they’re free. They allow you to get access to some great plug-ins which can really create a different methods of customer interaction on your blog page.

In terms of choosing a publishing platform, I would highly recommend Wordpress as my preferred blogging tool. It’s really easy to integrate with your website. The learning curve is very gentle and as it’s open source there are tons of plugins to enhance the functionality of the tool.

You can even design your own webpage or blog themes for different content management systems using a program called Artisteer. It’s really easy to use and when you’re done you can simply extract the theme as a plug-in and upload it to your server.

Some of the social media plug- in’s you can implement in WordPress also really help with content syndication, allowing you to build up a huge network of followers and help promote your brand off your website.

By installing Twitter and Facebook plug ins your can help spread good “word of mouse” campaigns across different social networks, making your website content visible to people all over the web.

It might be a good idea to set up both email and RSS applications on you blog page too. Feedburner is the most common RSS application.This brings your news and articles to your audience, instead of them coming looking for it.

The SERP’s are competitive enough as it is, so if someone reads an article that they like on your blog, they should be given the option to receive regular updates from that blog.

Twittertwitter

We all know how powerful Twitter is. Anyone that reads one of your blog postings or views an interesting webpage should have the option to tweet (syndicate) that URL to all their followers.

When you check your web analytics you’ll be able to check  how many visits you received from Twitter , right down to the actual  individual piece of content.

Twitter can give a specific webpage even more visibility on its network with some of its recent developments, including Twitter Search and Google’s Real Time Search.

Twitter search is great for people searching for “real time” content.Its quite a handy PR tool in that sense too. You can now see any fresh content that is tweeted in a matter of seconds without having to wait for Google to index it! Try searching for recent tweets related to your business using Twitter Search.

tweetReal time search is now becoming a big feature on Google’s organic listings page. When you search on certain topics you will now see a live feed of tweets that are related to that topic. See below for an example.

You can also track each tweet using Hootsuite. This application also has a handy PR tool which will allow you to see who is mentioning your brand across the Twitter Network.

real time search

Twitter is now integrated with Social Networking Giants’ Facebook and Linkedin. So when you “tweet” it can automatically go straight to both your profiles on these social sites.

If you produce a good article there’s no telling how many times it can get tweeted. The more places the article appears, the more chances it has of being re tweeted.

Images

Image optimization is another strategy that is often overlooked. Flickr is one of the best online photo management and sharing applications on the web. Anything you upload onto its network should really be traceable back to your website.

Flickr acts as an “image search engine” and can be very effective in driving traffic to your website. If you tag your images appropriately when you upload them to Flickr or any other photo sharing website, you will increase your chances of being found for different keyword searches on these websites..

You can also attach your Facebook or Linkedin profile information to images on the Flickr Search network, making even more sources available for people to see you brand when they search for an image related to your business.

Video

YouTube is now the second largest search engine on the web. In recent posts we discussed how important it was to optimize your Youtube tags. Any videos that you make for your business, should be uploaded to Youtube and easily traceable back to your website.

More and more people are beginning to explore brands on YouTube . People are now using it as a learning center. Whether it’s companies promoting their brands, or individuals just reviewing different products, Youtube is becoming a huge information source for web users.

With Google’s new interface, vertical search engines (images, video, blog, news) are going to used even more. SEO professionals tasked with doing a website audit are going to have broaden their scope to include all areas of online marketing, not just on-page and off-page SEO.

Bookmarketingdigg

Social bookmarking allows web users to search, share, organize, and store the bookmarks of different web pages. This can be done publicly or privately (in private groups), or a combination of the two.

People who are allowed to view the bookmarks can view them using a variety of different functions to sort and tag them. If used effectively, social bookmarking can have a very positive effect on the visibility and authority of your website.

bookmarketingThe tagging and descriptions used in bookmarking is referred to as external meta data and can have huge benefits in SEO, because the information used in the tagging is not controlled by the site owners, but by the public.

In essence, the information in external meta tags can be much more valuable than external inbound link anchor text.

Remember, if a social bookmarking sites uses nofollow links, then your website will not gain the link juice benefits from back links.

However, don’t overlook the power of social bookmarking, especially for the major sites which use No Follow, because their tags and external Meta data can still be used to qualify and classify major sites.

Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon are two of major social bookmarking sites to join because even if you don’t get the long-term link benefits of a No Follow, you’ll have the long term benefits of external Meta data, votes and traffic.

Facebook

Facebook enables you to create a buzz around your product or business in a familiar environment for the customer. Having your Facebook integrated with your website is very beneficial for increasing its visibility. This has been done up to now very successfully via Facebook Connect.

Facebook IconAny webpage on your website that has a frequent flow of traffic should have the Facebook Connect icon on it. It’s a simple way of branding your website at absolutely no cost or effort.

The “F share” button is also a useful icon to have beside any blog posting on your website to allow readers to syndicate your content  to all of their friends on Facebook with just the click of a mouse.

Due to the recent implementation of Facebook’s new “Open Source Protocol“, we saw it fit to implement the Facebook “like” button to all our blog postings. Facebook seems to be heading on the direction of creating a Social Search Network, so why not jump on the bandwagon early!

Your Faebook page will also usually rank very high in SERPS. Sometimes even higher then your website for certain keyword searches! So waste no time in setting up a presence on this Social Networking giant.

Linkedin

Some Social Networking sites like LinkedIn have the “follow” attribute enabled so you can put your company website on your public profile and your website will gain some benefit due to LinkedIn’s high authority.

You can also engage with your industry specific audience by starting discussions or posting news articles in the appropriate groups. This can generate a huge amount to traffic to your website.

I’d recommend you download Hootsuite. This free piece of software provides you with a very efficient way of posting links to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook at the same time. This saves you time and effort by not having to log into your accounts in all of these sites and post your links separately.slideshare

Slideshare

Slideshare is another great way to increase you brand awareness. This allows you to upload different presentations which can then be traced back to your website. Its integrated with Facebook and Linkedin now also, giving you more channels to show off your presentations to different audiences.

What about your experience of Social Media? Have you  or your business used it successfully? Was it to drive sales or customer engagement?

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SEO Audit – 5 Key Areas Every SEO Website Audit Should Look At…

May 20th, 2010 by Peter Cullen

Last week I blogged about the evolution of Google and how this evolution is forcing web marketers to broaden their definition of a website audit. This new Web Business Audit included all elements of an online businesses marketing activities, including:

  • Visibility
  • SEO
  • Usability
  • Product/Service Promotion
  • Email Marketing
  • Online Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Analytics
Web Business Audit

Web Business Audit

In this blog post we’re going to ask the question, ‘What should a SEO Website Audit look like? Let’s expand the SEO node above to explore the key areas, including:

  • Keyword research
  • Content Analysis
  • Website Authority Analysis
  • Webmaster Tools
  • Code Quality

Keyword Research

Keyword Research and Analysis are the foundation of any SEO Audit or ongoing SEO campaign. A business needs to know what keywords they are targeting otherwise any search engine traffic sent their way is more a result of accidental marketing rather than focused SEO effort.

A lot of businesses can judge success in the search engines just by seeing their website returned when using the company name or a brand related keyword. If your brand is big enough this maybe is enough, however even big brands are missing out on search engine traffic opportunities. Consider the difference in traffic between a number 1 position and a number 3 (five times less traffic) or a number 4 position (7 times less traffic).

Choosing the right tool(s) to do keyword research is one of the first steps you need to take. We wrote a blog about these last week, comparing some of the more popular keyword tools.

Content Analysis

How do you audit content? There are two ways of auditing your content and how you approach this task will probably depend on the size of website or organisation you are doing the audit for.

For very small sites and companies, where the content is updated infrequently and mostly by the same person, the major focus will be looking at how optimised the content is.

For larger businesses and websites, where you have several departments and multiple content developers, as well as looking at the content in terms of how well optimised it is, you should also ask to review the existing content development guidelines that the company issues to their employees (if they have one!).

You may also want to review the content management system these larger organisation are using and review whether it is SEO friendly.

What content related factors should you be looking to report against as part of the audit?

  • Font – What’s the best font to use on your website? Some may say it’s probably quite a subjective thing, but an independent authority on the subject have listed Arial, Helvetica and especially Veranda as one of the most effective fonts designed for reading text on website.
    There is an excellent article explaining the differences in web fonts here.
  • Content Length – How much content should be on each page? Should your articles be long, short? Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way – keyword density - forget about it! The important thing about your content is that it is easy to read, from a human perspective.Remember that your typical searcher has the attention span of a goldfish! Writing long sales type pages of content is not going to engage your reader and won’t endear you to potential clients.
  • Visual Layout – If your message is clear, concise and easy to take action against, users will be more likely to trust your brand.  Sounds easy right? Think again. Good design is hard to implement as competing stakeholders can insist on adding their ‘bit’! For guidelines on how to approach designing your website, check out, ‘The Golden Ratio in Web Design‘ article from Net Tuts
  • CSS – Although Google no longer has strong recommendations about the size of your page, having smaller pages results in faster load times and lower abandonment sates. Do faster load times for web pages influence search rankings?
  • What about code to text ratio? The less code you have on a web page, the easier it is for a search engine to crawl and index the page, right? The CSS Zen Garden recommends separating your content layer from your presentation layer.

  • Content Uniqueness - Do you or your company develop content that is unique? If your content in the eyes of the search engines is not  ’unique’ enough, then your web pages will probably not manage to get listed in their indexes! But what is unique content?
    • 30-50 unique words that form unique parsable sentences that other sites/pages do not have.
    • Unique html text content – not unique with just different key verbs or nouns. Replacing key geographical terms on pages hoping to target different locations is not going to do you any favors!
    • Unique title and description tags.
    • Unique image/video/audio content. With Google’s recent change to their GUI, vertical search engines are going to become more and more important in terms of sending traffic in your direction.
  • Optimised Content – Now this may sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but make sure  your target keyword(s) are actually on your web pages, and check for the following SEO text factors
    • Keywords in title and description tag
    • Keyword in breadcrumbs (if possible)
    • Keyword in heading tag
    • Alt Text set on images
    • Different types of tagged content, e.g. audio, video
    • Appropriate ’on topic’ external links
    • Internal links to targeted pages with link text using keyword
    • Keyword(s) used in opening paragraph of body text
    • Keywords in bold or strong tags
    • Keyword used in page name, e.g. www.mydomain.com/keyword1.html
    • Existence of sitemaps, both on site and uploaded to Google Webmaster Tools
  • Duplicate Content – There are two main types of duplicate content. The first is content that has been scraped illegally from websites and re-trashed into a new page. The second type of duplicate content is when a website has two or more versions of a web page – same content , different URL’s. As part of an SEO audit you can check for duplication as follows:
    • Check to see if your non www version of your website 301 redirects to the www version.  Type into the command line of the browser,  http://mydomain.com and it should return www.mydomain.com
    • Check to see if there are pages on your website that have duplicated content. As part of an SEO Website Audit how would you check for duplicate content issues on this website?Check out the short video below to see how you might do this. We’ve picked a random search phrase , ‘new laptop battery‘ and picked a random website, http://www.laptopbatteriesshop.co.uk/

  • Geo Location – Less of an issues these days. but if your target market is in the UK, then ideally your website should be hosted in the UK. As I said less of an issue these days as having a .co.uk domain can do well even if  hosted outside the UK. If you have a choice though, I’d go with hosting in your main target market country.

Website Authority Analysis

What should you be looking for here? Well, you want to find out:

  • How many backlinks a website has coming into it
  • What is the quality of those backlinks?
  • What countries are the backlinks coming from
  • What rate the backlinks are coming in at
  • Where are your competitors getting their backlinks from?

Numerous tools available to check this sort of stuff, from free tools in Yahoo Explorer to our very own SEO Workbench.

Webmaster Tools

Both Google and Bing have tools that allows you to identify crawling issues with your website and manage your indexed pages.

Some of the things you can do with the Webmaster Tools:

  • Upload a site map, gives you the opportunity to list your website pages for the search engines
  • Manage any change of address – domain name changes, not office location :-)
  • Set preferred target countries
  • Find out where and what pages are getting listed in the search results pages
  • What keywords do the search engines associate with your website?
  • Diagnose crawl errors

And many more cool things. As part of your website audit, getting access to the webmaster tools can really help diagnosing SEO issues.

Code Quality

Alway no harm to check the quality of a website code, both the html and CSS quality. WC3 allows you do both from here:

http://validator.w3.org/

http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

So what about your experience? What else would you include in your website audit?

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Keyword Tool Options-Which one to Use?

May 14th, 2010 by John Trenaman

  • Keyword Tool Comparisons -Which one to use?seo strategies
  • Inconsistencies of different Keyword tools.
  • Where do Keyword Tools get their keyword data from?

How to chose the right keyword tool

There are so many keyword tools out there I’m beginning to lose count! They all have  strengths and weaknesses, none are perfect by any means! The challenge is trying to find out which one suits you best and which one will help you succeed with  your Internet Marketing Strategy!

Each keyword tool uses different datasets which provide you with the keyword data that you are looking for. Some use only a fraction of the data when compared to others which can lead to inconsistent keyword data being returned from different tools.

seo funnelKeyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO campaign. Using the wrong keyword tool can limit the opportunities for your business and may result in choosing inappropriate keywords.  If you have never used a keyword tool,  you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which is more accurate?
  • Which one has the functionality that suits you best?
  • Is there one Keyword tool that is more intuitive than another?

The most productive thing to do, could be to use a mix of 2-3 different keyword tools and develop your keyword strategy decisions based on pooling the data and functionalities of all three together.

Try using the strengths of each product while also being aware of their inconsistencies. Explore the different functionalities of each tool and try to find out as much as you can about the dataset they use, i.e. where do they get their data from?

As we’ve said a Keyword research task is the foundation of any internet marketing strategy. All website strategies are built around different keywords as they define your target market . It’s essential to keep up with changes in keyword trends and find those keyword niches that are going to drive targeted traffic to your website that results in sales.

Just quick note on that, what type of keyword phrase are searches using?  The graph (stats from Hitwise) below gives a very good insight into how searches search and the impact for online sales:

Keyword Phrase Length

Keyword Phrase Length

You can see that as searchers evolves, they are using longer and longer words in their search phrases. This is an important note to keep in mind as you develop your keyword strategy.

The purposs of keyword research is not just about finding out which keyword phrases people are using in their everyday searches and choosing a selection of those to target for your website.

It’s also about new keyword generation, discovering niche keyword strategies and drilling further down and finding as many different variations and descriptions of different keywords that will help drive more traffic to your website.

Let’s have a look at a few different Keyword tools including; Wordtracker, Wordstream, Google’s Keyword tool and KeyWord Discovery.

So where do they get their data from?content syndication

Let’s start with Google’s free keyword tool. This tool allows you to generate keywords by either pointing to a website directly or by typing  in keywords, either way will result in a list of keywords with monthly stats.

Google Trends allows you to view up to five years of trend data on searcher behavior. The Traffic Estimator provides insights into potential traffic and predicted CPC for a given keyword.

All of Google’s tools only pull data from Google’s database which is the biggest by far! Let’s face it, there’s not many search engines or news portals that are not on the Google Network at this stage.

competitor analysisSome keyword tools like Google’s tend to return results that are more focused on what is most popular instead of maybe giving you some good ideas for potential long tail keywords. It’s these long tail keywords that are most likely to open up new niches for your business and help you grow sales.

Just because a keyword has a high search volume doesn’t mean it will be worthwhile to try and rank highly for. I thought the Wordtracker KEI was useful in that respect, because I was able to just concentrate on keywords that had a higher probability of ranking highly for rather then just seeing lists of very popular and competitive keywords.

In some cases some inferior keyword tools pull data from small meta search engines with very limited data sources.

Wordstream boasts that it aggregates over 1 billion unique keywords, representing over a trillion search queries and hundreds of millions of related terms from diverse keyword sources including search engines, Internet service providers and browser tool bars.

This huge database enables them to supply thousands of long-tail keyword suggestions – far more than most subscription-based tools like Key Word Discovery or Wordtracker.

That’s great if you’re looking for keyword suggestions, but what if you want the exact number of searches that people carry out on a keyword? Google’s keyword tool is probably the most comprehensive in this field.

You need to make sure your keyword tool gets it data from both major and minor search engines, and will give you data from a variety of heavily trafficked sources.seo world wide

Word Tracker boasts that it has a keyword database of over 350 million queries and an advanced keyword suggestion tools.

It also has some useful search features like; datasets from book listings on Amazon, web page count information from Google, listings information from eBay, web site usage information from Alexa. But again, how accurate are these? Take a look at the following examples:

When I did a broad match search on the populatity of the key word: iPhone using the Keyword Discovery eBay listings search Tool it showed the following results:

ebay database

How could there only be 923 searches for the term “iPhone” on eBay in a whole year. Yes, it does show that this particular keyword is significantly more popular then others underneath it but I would imagine its no where near the real number of times people did a search for “iPhone” on eBay in the last year. So why have this functionality? Is this not misleading for a Search campaign?

In terms of keyword suggestions and keyword idea generation, Google doesn’t compare with some other keyword tools. The “drill down lists” that Wordstream will provide for you are astonishing. If you’re looking for keyword suggestions it will bring back thousands of key word variations in both broad and specific categories, you can then email these lists to yourself for free.

Using Wordstream I can use the related keywords to build out a better keyword list than I can get from WordTracker, alone, and perhaps, from Google’s Keyword Tool – which is more focused on sales.

Lets see how key word data can be inconsistent on different keyword tools. If I search for the term “Swimming Pools” in Keyword discovery, Wordtracker and Google’s Keyword tool what will happen?

I used Keyword Discovery &WordTracker for searches on “swimming pools” for the past year in their so called “Google Databases“:

I got these results:

  • Wordtracker: 2,240,000 per year
  • Keyword Discovery: 806 per year (how could there only be 806 searches for “Swimming Pools in Google for one year)

I then did the same search in Google’s Keyword Tool for one month and 2,200,000 searches were done.

This just shows you how much less data some keyword tools use when compared to others.Thats not to say they are useless, they may have a lot of other useful functionalities for keyword research such as competitor analysis and suggestion tools. In terms of Search Volume results though, I think Google’s Keyword Tool is the most comprehensive!

KeyWord Tool Comparisons

I prefer Google’s Keyword tool or Wordtracker to a lesser extent because it has a significantly larger number of search queries in its database. As seen above when you are using Keyword Discovery, you are only getting the numbers (KEI, Count) for a tiny percent of the total number of search queries on all search engines. This is due to inability to access the same information that Google has access to regarding keyword searches.

There really isnt much between Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker.  Keyword Discovery does provide more search features and returns a larger keyword list. It’s also better suited to people building AdSense sites, but Wordtracker has been around a long time and has many admirers.

Wordstream has gone for a totally different approach. It offers the same keyword suggestion capabilities as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and similar tools, but layers on keyword analytics, keyword grouping and organization, and integrated content authoring tools.

From what I can see its almost like a content management system for keyword campaigns!You also don’t have to pay for keyword lists unlike both Keyword Discover and Wordtracker.

Being able to link your AdWords account allows you to automatically push the changes you make in Wordstream directly to your AdWords account, saving both time and money. You can also set up Ad campaigns and set bidding prices for PPC campaigns in Wordstreams interface.

seo searchIts integration with Google Analytics means that the keywords you research in AdWords will be based on actual keywords that people are searching to find your site. That in itself makes the keywords entered into AdWords more relevant, reduces guesswork, and eliminates the need to input your keywords into AdWords manually.

With its Keyword Niche Finder Tool, marketers can type in terms related to their business and receive a list of the most popular and relevant keywords for their websites, along with the most interesting keyword niches or clusters.

Marketers and website owners can leverage the results from The Keyword Niche Finder to build and structure intelligent website information architectures or create new subsections of their existing sites to drive traffic and collect new business opportunities.

After doing this research I’d probably use Wordstream for keyword generation and for setting up and managing niche keyword strategies. Id use Google’s Keyword tool for providing me with the comprehensive search volume results of keywords which not many other keyword tools can accurately provide.

Have you used these Keyword Tools? What other tools do you suggest? How many keyword tools would you use for the same campaign?

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Website Auditing – 5 Key Areas Your Website Auditor Should Analyze

May 12th, 2010 by Peter Cullen

Where should a website audit begin? Should it be more accurately called a ‘web business audit’?

With Google new interface being rolled out this week, vertical search engines (images, video, blog, news) are going to used even more.  SEO professionals tasked with doing a website audit are going to have broaden their scope to include all areas of online marketing, not just on-page and off-page SEO.

No matter what the size of your business online, a website audit should now begin to look at all aspects of your online marketing efforts, including

  • SEO
  • Visibility
  • Usability
  • Social Media
  • Analytics
5 Essential Website Audit Components

Website Audit Components


When starting the Website Audit where should you begin?

Benchmarking where you are now is always a good starting point. Before you start getting into the nitty gritty of what might be wrong with your online marketing strategy, take the time to look at your online landscape.

I would recommend that the first area to look at is the visibility of the business online.  Online visibility, in the traditional sense, meant looking at the keyword rankings for a website. I think this approach needs to be evolved, you should be digging a little deeper and might want to start looking at the following areas:

  • Search Engines
    • Rankings
      • Google
      • Bing
      • Yahoo
      • Target Keywords
      • branded Keywords
    • Indexed Pages
  • Social Media
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • YouTube
    • Flicker
Website Audit Visibility

Website Audit Visibility

Finding out what your website’s visibility is in the search engines is easy enough, you can manually check the rankings or use software like the SEO Workbench.

But what about your visibility in terms of indexed pages? How do you find out if a search engine has indexed all your pages? Some may argue that this component of the website audit should reside in the SEO section, but I think it’s important before you even look at the website, to find out what the search engine think about it in terms of indexed pages.

To find out how many of your websites pages are actually indexed in the search engine you simply go to any of the search engines and type in the command, site:www.yourdomain.com

It’s interesting to see the difference between the search engines. I tried this command for the domain www.getslipcovers.com and these were the results:

  • Google 91 pages
  • Yahoo 39 pages
  • Bing 146 pages

How many pages are actually on this site?  It’s actually quite easy to find out using a web crawler, one that you’ve configured yourself! Seriouly though, there is a really quick to intsall and relatively easy to understand web crawler at WebSPHINX

According to WebSphinx there are 39 pages on Getcovers.com. As part of a website audit, the natural question to ask here is where are all the other pages coming from in Google and Bing?

If you actually try to go through Google’s and Bing’s SERPS to find what the last pages indexed are, you’ll find that both only allows you go as far as page 4 and Google reports 36 pages, while Bing is at 25 pages – interesting!

Why is that? Why would the search engine report a larger number of pages on an initial search and then only give you access to a few?

The larger number of pages are all the pages that a search engine has indexed from a website. When you dive a little deeper, it will only return those pages that the search engine deems to have enough quality.

In this case the search engines are reporting more or less the actual number of pages on the website. The thing to look out for when doing this yourself or getting someone else to do it for you, is are the search engines only indexing a small portion of your website? If they are, you can start looking at ways to address this. Maybe it’s an issues with your internal linking, or navigation?

After you have your benchmark in terms of visibility for pages and pages indexed, next you want to audit your Social Media visibility.

How do you find out (for free!) what people are saying about your brand online?

  1. Twitter

    There are numerous Twitter clients available to track  what people are saying about your brand, here are some:-

    - Hootsuite
    (My favorite)
    - Pluggio (New to me, but looks very interesting)
    - Twirl

    Or, you can just query Twitter itself at http://search.twitter.com

    If we use the example from above,  www.getslipcovers.com lets see what Twitter returns. In this case nothing is returned , so not a lot of activity on Twitter for getslipcovers.com. Interesting though, if you do a search for ’slip covers’ on Twitter , quite a lot of activity, and consequently quite lot of opportunities for getslipcovers.com to engage with people who are talking about ’slip covers’.

  2. Google Alerts

    This service from Google allows you to get notified when your brand or website, or any keyword for that matter, is mentioned on Google’s vast network. You can get notifications from the following sources:-

    - News
    - Blogs
    - Web
    - Video
    - Groups

    Google Alerts

    Google Alerts

    This is  an incredibly powerful (free) service that lets you keep track of your major keywords and brand names.

  3. YouTube

    This may not seem like an obvious one, but YouTube is the second most searched on ’search engine’ on the web!

    Search for your company name or brand name to see if people have tagged videos with your keywords. For our example above,  ’slip covers’ on  YouTube returns 870 results  (videos) for this keyword term.

  4. Flickr

    Another website where you may not think of looking, but again, doing a keyword search on ’slip covers’ returns 6,186 results. Again, could be a good place to find people who are using images tagged with your brand/products  and maybe you don’t like it?
  5. LinkedIn

    This is more competitor analysis than social media monitoring, but you can find out who your competitors are for chosen keywords and see what they are up to on LinkedIn.
  6. Facebook

    Again more competitor analysis, but very useful to keep close to your community, acting essentially as customer service online.

Lots of free opportunities to find out where people are mentioning your brand and what they are saying about you. Visibility uncovery should be a major part of any audit of your business online.

In the next post we’ll look at the next step in auditing your online business and find out what are the important components of a the SEO audit!

What areas do you think are important when auditing a business online?

Do you think Google’s new interface is going to change the way you audit a business?

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Link Building Strategies – Cross Industry Comparisons

May 7th, 2010 by John Trenaman

Linking Strategies
How to Start a Link Building Campaign:

1. An Explanation of page rank & authority
2. Cross Industry comparisons of Link Building Strategies
3. Checking up on your competitors Backlinks
4. How  to find good BackLink Sources

Website Authority & Page Rank

As many of us know, your websites Authority in Google’s SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) is mainly determined by the quality of its Backlinks and the context in which you receive those backlinks. The concept of using backlinks as an independent way to measure a site’s importance was first made popular when Google implemented its page rank algorithm.

Link anchor text, link relevance,  link authority and link trust are the four factors that Google looks at when determining the relevance of web pages for inclusion it their search results.

Having good content goes hand in hand with your back linking strategy, especially for developing long term relationships with potential customers.

The authority of your website is greatly influenced by the quality of  web page that links to your website. Generally speaking the higher the page rank of web pages that link to your website, the more “link juice” will be passed on to you (assuming it’s not set to ‘no-follow’). The more quality links your website gets, the more authority it will achieve in Google’s search listings for different key word searches.

Planning Your Link Building Strategy:

You can put together a link-building campaign in many ways, and making the wrong choices can lead to a poor ROI. What people need to understand about link building is that it can and indeed should take time.

It’s not like PPC campaigns where you can buy your way to the top of the pile. Yes, good content is still important for PPC but a huge emphasis is still put on bidding prices for certain key words, which let’s face it, aren’t getting any cheaper!

A lot of  people decide to outsource their Link Building Campaigns. You should be careful when doing this. All over the web  many “agencies” offer you “X” amount of links  in “X” amount of time. It shouldn’t work like that.

black hat seoYou need to know where your inbound links are being placed. You dont want somebody placing 500 links to your website from “link farms” and “spamming link” sites. This will do more harm than good for the authority of your website as Google seems to be cracking down on this type of manipulation.

You should find out which Link Building strategy best suits your business. Every day we read articles claiming that “content is king”. I don’t disagree with this.

But what about industry sectors that have traditionally shyed away from having an online presence? A local hardware shop or a plumber looking for some online visibility. How are they going to reach out to people online?

How can these types of businesses build the authority of a new website? How would they differ from to an internet marketing agency with a clear understanding and healthy budget or a new hotel looking to develop a brand awareness campaign.

Whatever business your involved in, your link building campaign has to start somewhere!seo

Let’s take a look at how 3 different industries might begin a link building campaign:

1. Hardware/ DIY Shop:

Let’s take a typical hardware/DIY shop in Ireland. This could be seen as a small scale link building process. But if done effectively it could drive a huge amount of people to the shop. They will probably be relying on local search, which isn’t a bad thing. Nowadays 40% of searches are of local intent.

To give you an idea of the type of keywords being searched on in this sector and the numbers;

  • hardware stores – 368,000 global searches monthly , 2400 monthly local (Ireland)  searches
  • online hardware store – 6,600 global monthly searches, 46 monthly local (Ireland) searches

So, there you are, a hardware store owner with your new website! How do you start building the authority of your new website?

To start off, you should make sure you are present in as many relevant local directories as possible. To cover themselves in the UK for example, they could use homeandgardenlistings.co.uk/ and for a more local intent they could start off with Homewise.ie.

These directories are have numerous listings of DIY shops  and will give them greater visibility on the web as well as increase their websites authority by creating an inbound link from a directory.These directories will be just the fist two of hopefully many beneficial link sources for this Hardware/DIY Shop.

You could also get in contact with any websites that promote the local area and see if they can place an ad or a link on their website. Google condones these so called one way or indeed reciprocal (2 way) linking tactics but it should be OK as long as you are not paying for links coming from “link farms” or directories that are just full of spam links.

Setting up an ecommerce website just isn’t feasible or realistic for many people. A presence on eBay would be very beneficial to them too.

eBay has massive authority, so if someone was to search for a niche product that they happen to sell, there would be a good chance that it would rank highly in Google’s SERPS (Search Engine Pages) if it was on eBay.

They should take part in all DIY blogs and discussions, this a great way to get build up some inbound anchor text links as well as discussing industry related topics.google places

Google Places (formally Google Business Centre) :

It would be wise for a Hardware Shop to register their business with Google Places. You don’t even need to own a website for this but it could dramatically increase your brand visibility.

Having your business present in local directories is of huge importance for Google’s Local Search indexing algorithms. It will increase your chances of getting into the original 7 pack listing for searches with local intent. If you are part of that listing, there is no telling how fast your customer base will grow.

The search below was done on: “Hardware Stores Dublin”

local search listings

So how do we Find Good BackLink Sources for your Business?

- Spy on Your competitors

If you click  “reviews“ (on the right side of all the search listings above)and you scroll down to where it says:”More about this Place” (see below) you will be able to see exactly which directories different companies you compete with are registered with.

  • This is a great way to see how your competitors are building their inbound links from different link sources.
  • This is a great way to find reputable directories  that you can register your website with also. (Highlighted in Yellow)

Google Local buiness Center

To Check any backlinks of any website:

Go to Yahoo.com and type in: site: “www.anywebsite.com”. This will give you a full list of Link Sources that a webpage uses.

You can also check the page rank of any website or directory you are thinking about getting an anchor text link from by using the page rank checker. If it ranks below 2/10 then its probably not worth using it for inbound links.

There’s also numerous plug-in’s for all browsers that show page rank of all web pages as they are listed in Google’s SERPS. (Search Engine Results Pages)

2. Hotel Linking Strategy:

A hotel will look to get as much visibility as it can in the online hospitality sector. They could start by becoming partners with aggregator websites that also have booking engines.

Cheaphotels.ie, www.goireland.com or www.bookassist.com are all very useful directories which carry page ranks of between 4-6. Their page ranks are so high due to the amount of websites linking to them due to their commercial nature and value.

These Aggregator websites allow for hotels to be categorized so Google can index them accordingly. They have onsite search engines that bring back lists of hotels for anyone who searches for one under many different categories/locations etc…

page rankMore often then not, they have a decent page rank(4+) due to the amount of online business linking to them, so a sufficient amount of authority or “link juice” will be passed back to your website form any inbound links they accept.

Even promotion for the restaurants within the hotel could be used by submitting links to menupages.ie for example. Link Building is never ending once you begin!

Holiday directories, booking engines and any tourism related websites that promote the local community are all more examples of where they could begin looking to get backlinks.

It’s key to research any directory or advertising site before you use them. Some of them could have already been black listed as “spam link” websites and being associated with them could seriously harm your websites authority. Make sure that the directories or advertisement websites are reputable and do not use a “no follow” linking attribute.

Do a Google Search on a well known business you might see in on direcroty site. If it comes up on the first page and is associated with the URL of that directory, chances are its good one!

3. Online Marketing Agency Link Strategy:

content syndicationAn online marketing agency has a variety of tools at its disposal; they have the power to write good quality content and syndicate it all over the web, which will lead to a huge amount of other websites linking to them over time.

They might have the healthy budget and time to plan a large scale online marketing campaign which could involve Search and PPC campaigns and the optimization of all different pages on their website for different key words and anchor text links.

They can build up link profiles form numerous social networking and social media sites on a daily basis. Social Networking sites like LinkedIn have the follow attribute enabled so you can put your company website on your public profile and your website will gain some benefit due to LinkedIn’s high authority.

These companies can implement easy link bait strategies such as the new Facebook “like” button which automatically creates a permanent link from your Facebook profile information page to the website unless you manually delete it.

They have the negotiating power to pitch link partnerships with high authority sites that could be highly beneficial to their websites page ranking.

Source Diversity:diversity

Search engines value diversification. If all of your links come from a single class of site it can appear as manipulation.

Depending on your business, you could for example start out by targeting; university sites, media websites, social bookmarking sites, directories, social media sites. The list goes on and on. The important thing to remember is that it takes time and you will not see instant results.

Have you tried link building strategies and been disappointed with the results?

Have you Outsourced your link building and seen very little impact on the authority or page rank of web pages on your website?

What do you think are the best ways to build your website’s authority?

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Facebook Personalizes The Web

April 28th, 2010 by John Trenaman

An insight into Facebook’s new vision of the web:Facebook Icon

  1. An explanation of the new Open Graph Protocol.
  2. Why/How the web will be more Personalized and Social.
  3. What the significance of the new “Like” button really is.
  4. Why Facebook Connect will soon be a thing of the Past.

The recent announcement by Facebook to implement “the Open Graph protocol” across the web has been the first major development since the launch of Facebook Connect over two years ago.

By using Facebook Connect we were dramatically able to increase the brand awareness of our website by using the Facebook network and its tools. But now Mark Zuckerberg has explained how Facebook is ready to take the next step by creating a personalized and social web experience.

In his conference last week Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook) claimed that up until now, the web was just been a series of  unstructured links between static pages, but now he wants to create a new type of web, one that involves a greater deal of connectivity and personalisation.

The New Social/Personalized WEBWEB

Facebook now believe that Social platforms should now focus on the web, not social platforms themselves.

Zuckerberg claims that the “Open Graph Protocol” puts people at the center of the web and will provide an instant personalised and social experience for all users involved.

The main aim of the Open Graph Protocol is the theory that you should be able to connect with people from all different walks of life out on the web, not just on Facebook itself.

For example; you don’t have to just “like” bands on Facebook or join a Facebook fanpage, you can now like bands on external websites that will be on the Open Graph Protocol Network and this will automatically go onto your Facebook profile under certain category headings.

Introducing the new “Like” Button?

I have already seen many people complaining or not understanding why Facebook took away the “Fans” on Fanpages. It’s important to understand that this new development was not aimed specifically at fanpages per se, more that it was aimed at promoting pages off Facebook, web pages that have embraced the open graph protocol.

Fanpages are now just part of a much greater scheme of things. Facebook now believe that our identity is defined by things all around the web, not just by things on Facebook.

like buttonAnd by creating the new “like” button amongst many other social plug-in tools (explained later) we will now be able to interconnect with so many other people on the web.

Zuckerberg boasted that he hoped to have over 1 billion like buttons on web after first 24hours of the launch of the Open Graph Protocol.

How Sharing Information is Changing …

In the past Facebook allowed you to integrate website content with via the F share button. It has been seen as an effective tool for syndicating content like newspaper articles or once off pieces of information.

When a URL is shared via Facebook Share we all know that it goes into the streaming sequence in the Facebook user’s homepage, but after 2-3 hours it will be virtually out of sight, depending on how interactive the user is on Facebook.

If I “like” a certain band and regularly visit their webpage. I should be able to receive regular updates from the webpage itself to my Facebook and not have to rely on the Facebook fan page for updates which may or may not even exist.

By implementing this new “like” button it’s not just represented on Facebook…it’s now a long term communication channel between websites and users. When you “like” something anywhere on the web, it will be permanently put on your Facebook  profile Information under a certain category and you will get constant real time updates from that website.

The idea of the Open Graph Protocol is also to connect all these channels into one big network of interests which will result in a more personalised and social experience while browsing the web.

How and Why the Social Graph is implemented?

There are already 30 main partners that have embraced the open graph protocol. These 30 websites cover so many different interests with the aim of bringing together people from all walks of life onto one network.CNN

Some well known ones include:    

  1. SKYIMDB
  2. Pandora(music networking site)
  3. New York Times
  4. CNN (news portal)sky
  5. ESPN (news &sports)
  6. YELP (online urban city guide)
  7. IMBD (Movies)

By these sites embracing the Open Graph Protocol we will begin to see a lot of Facebooks tools and widgets more frequently on them. This will be done by a series of Social Plug ins which will help Connect all of these Partner sites into one big network of interests for individuals.All of these sites can now publish real time updates to all the people who have connected .

facebook connect

facebook Open Graph

We will also now be able to get different, more personalized content, on searches we do on certain websites like Yelp, depending on our interests and what we “like” across the network.

How? – Here’s an example:

  • YELP is an online urban city guide. As I have mentioned, now websites on the Open Graph Protocol (above) are allowed store a users search data for as long as they want.
  • So, if I log on to YELP.com and search for a restaurant, it’s going to bring back results to me which will not only be effected by what my friends find interesting or “like” but it’s also going base those results on my interests and likes all over the web that now appear on my Facebook Profile.
  • Information will be taken from my Facebook profile and pervious searches to help give me more of what I’m looking for. (Or at least, what they might think I’m looking for).
  • Thus, bringing a more personalized feel to the web and a different set of results for different users.  How will this impact on SEO? Does this limit what we will be able to search for? Only time will tell. (more examples to follow)


The new Social Plug in’s for Websites:

1. If you have never even been to a website before, you can now see what sort of activity your friends have been doing on that site.

For example, which articles they “like” most. This is a great way to get people to be more interactive with websites that they may not be too familiar with. If they’re friends like its content then there must be something there for them too!

2. The Recommendations plug in is great way for sites to deliver different pieces of content to different users across different websites  based on what their likes and interests are all over the Social Graph.

recomended plug inThis way each website seems to feed off another by providing more and more information about an individual user. Publishers can show different users different recomendations to browse based on their “likes” on their Facebook Profile.

3. The Activity feed from Facebook can now be on these websites too. So you can see what your friends are doing without having to go onto Facebook itself. It’s clear that Facebook is trying to bring all the useful functions of its trade to external sites, so we don’t have to keep relying on Facebook itself.

4. There’s also a “social bar”, which can provide “an all-in-one social experience” with a “like” button, Facebook chat, and friends list information that seems to be very much in the league of Google Friend Connect or the Meebo chat toolbar. You can stay in contact with friends while browsing different sites on the Open Graph Protocol.

All of these Social Plug in’s are really easy to install, most of them being just a few lines of HTML code. There is no need for downloads or anything that would take more then a couple of minutes effort.

Open Graph Protocol – More Good examples of how it is implemented!

The best way to describe the plug-in’s is to use examples of what’s already out there:

1. CNN: If you visit this well known news website you can see that there is a Facebook activity feed now on the right hand site of the page. This embraces the idea of bringing the Facebook news fee to individual WebPages. You can see what activity your friends have done on this site.You can also see different articles, which your friends have liked or recommended that you read.

This screen grab is taken off the CNN homepage:

CNN SOCIAL PLUG IN

This creates much more engagement on websites and of course the more people who “like” certain things on websites, the more defined their personality becomes on this new web structure.

By having the news feed on external websites there is less incentive to log onto the Facebook Website itself.

2. ESPN Sports: can publish updates to all Facebook users to give them real time updates to all people connected via Facebook to ESPN – The open graph gives a long term communication channel.

3. IMBD: the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database is using the Open Graph Protocol to mark up pages for each individual movie.

Hitting the “like” button on an IMDB movie page will automatically add that movie to the “Favorite Movies” section of a Facebook user’s profile.

4. Pandora: For a new user of this site, when you log on it will start playing music form bands that you liked all across the web. It will show you which bands your friends like too. This is the kind of social and personal experience that Facebook is now looking for.

If we can now promote any webpage through Facebook, is this the beginning of the end of the Facebook Fanpage and Facebook Connect?

Will we see more websites bringing Facebook to you, instead of you logging on to the Facebook site?

If websites on the Open Graph can store user details for as long as they want, resulting in personalized search, what are the implications for SEO?

Will Google be thinking about integrating Facebook in their search results pages so that you can see what you friends like and recommend?

Would this be a positive step, or does too much personalization remove the opportunities of finding new ideas/people on the web?

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