Posts Tagged Search engine optimization

How to boost your online sales

As we gradually emerge from the global recession, those businesses that have been lucky enough to survive should now focus their attention on creating new ways to sell their products or services online. After all, the Internet accounted for over $150 billion worth of sales last year, a jump of 17% on the previous year. Ignore these figures at your own peril.

The reality is though, and might come as a shock to some, but selling online is pretty much the same as the old traditional methods of selling. In order for your business to succeed online, it is essential that you use the knowledge that you’ve obtained about your business over the years, readjust it (with the help of an expert) and there’s no doubt your business can flourish online.

The Basics
Right now, it’s not uncommon for businesses to offer cut price deals to attract new customers. Everywhere we look there seems to be a retailer with a new sale on. But after you’ve won that order from your new customer, the key is to continue to provide a great experience for them so that they keep coming back for more, even when times are good again.

The same applies to the Internet, you need to treat each customer as if they were visiting your physical shop.  You should constantly look for ways to improve user experience and give your website that competitive edge. And what’s the best way to know what makes your customers tick? Yes…just ask them! You should get as much feedback as possible from your customers and action on those things that your customers feel are most important.

Marketing
In every downturn, the first item on the list to be cut is generally the marketing budget. Trying new channels is probably worth the effort. Spending more money in one area and less in another, but this isn’t worthwhile if you can’t quantify the return on investment from each channel.

The beauty of online marketing is that there are so many free tools available to you to build a dynamic marketing campaign. Having the ability to quantify the success of your marketing campaign is easy and in real-time! Unlike traditional methods, you can be reactive and respond quickly by modifying your campaign in response to user behaviour.

Google, unsurprisingly, lead the way in terms of offering free tools to website owners to help them establish a great online presence. Not only do they provide tools to help you research and find what your potential customers will be looking for online, but they also offer many tools to help you quantify the success of your campaign.

Take Google Analytics for example, an enterprise statistics package that will allow you to analyse visitor behaviour which in turn can help you quickly establish the areas of your website or campaign that need improving. In conjunction with the their Conversion Tracking feature, you will be able to establish the chain of events user by the visitor to complete a transaction or an area that is making the visitor leave your website before completing the transaction.

Couple this with another great weapon from Google; Google Website Optimiser, you can get down to the finest detail to find out what makes people react more positively to your website. Google Website Optimiser allows you to run free A/B split tests on your website.

Search Engine Optimisation
If I’m completely honest, Search Engine Optimisation bores me. It’s not because I’m tired of seeing just about everyone jumping on the gravy training and suddenly offering becoming an SEO an expert, that does annoy me, but it’s not that. No, my problem is that I believe every website regardless of how big or small should be designed with the search engines in mind. SEO is an integral part of any online campaign. If your website cannot be found, really what’s the point in having it in the first place?

SEO isn’t rocket science and I believe anyone who wants to promote their business online should know the basics. And when I say basics, I mean the basics! Search engine optimisation is an interesting topic and as soon as you start doing a bit of research you quickly find yourself being drawn into the inner workings of it all. However, a lot of the information that you find on the web (if you don’t know where to look) is either inaccurate or completely out of date.

Since SEO is the foundations of every website, your focus should now turn to conversion optimisation. Spend more time working with your designer to create areas of increased conversion opportunities on your website.

Social Media Marketing
It hasn’t taken long for this phrase to be on the tip of every Internet sales guys tongue. According to most Internet marketing gurus, Social Media Marketing is the future of the web. In fairness I do believe it is and will be an important part of online marketing, but at the moment it is too difficult to quantify the real return on investment.

Engagement is the key word here. To get anything back from your social media marketing, you need to engage with your customers. A lot of companies with Facebook pages prevent people from posting on their wall in fear of one unhappy customer posting scandalous remarks about their business. But believe it or not, a lot of potential customers are happy to see how you, the company, deal with customers like this. Engaging with even the most insane customer to attempt to resolve their issue publicly could actually work in your favour.

Twitter is a different beast altogether. A lot of companies believe the strategy for Twitter should be to simply post as many links to their blog, products or any other article related to their area of expertise. In fact, this strategy is most likely going to damage their reputation. Twitter is about networking – it’s no different than going to your local business network meeting only that it is done online with no particular agenda.

To summarise what we have discussed above, boosting your online sales should be approached in same manner as you would your off-line business. The customer should always be your core focus of attention. Regardless of how you attract the customer, their experience should be the best it can possibly be so that they continue to comeback for more and recommend you on to their peers.

If you need help building a web strategy that will boost your sales online, why not contact me to see how I can help you. Email tom@2bscene.ie or phone +353 1 2190223

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Bing takes a larger bite of the Search Market

REDMOND, WA - JULY 29: The Microsoft name is d...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Since it’s relaunch in June of last year, Bing has been well received by a lot of people inside and outside the search industry. This has been mainly due to added functionality and some improved usability features. On its launch, Bing took a small gain of market share in the search world, mainly at the expense of smaller, lesser know search engines. But now all their hard work seems to be paying off.

Yes it’s true, they are still a long way off the massive market share that Google owns, but this time they have managed to take a slice of Google’s share rather than the smaller search engines. This can only be seen as a great achievement by Bing, as much as we hate saying it – Microsft have done well to grab a little of Google’s dominant share.

According to comScore – Bing’s US search market share grew 88% in the past year. They know command a respectable 9.85% of the search market. This compares well with Google who have seen a fourth consective month drop in market share to 62.6%.

Another interesting report by comScore shows that Bings ad impressions and clickthroughs have also experienced a rise. On the other hand, Google and Yahoo‘s ad impressions and clickthroughs have either been flat or on the downward spiral.

For more on this report visit : http://econsultancy.com/blog/6240-comscore-bing-is-gaining-on-google#blog_comment_33174

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Advertising? Just Google ‘Advertising’

You gotta love the way some companies advertise their business online. I love seeing a quirky ad that urges people to visit a website that promotes a brand or product. But there is one thing that we’d always recommend steering clear of when promoting a business online, that is relying on search results. Whether it’s the organic search results or even paid listings, basing an advertising campaign on the search results is such a bad idea.

Not so long ago I wrote about how Imagine were playing a dangerous and costly game with their ad ” WiMax, Google It”. The fact that Google Adwords is a pay per click system, means that you are ultimately paying for traffic that is pretty much useless. I guess you could easily say the same about TV adverts, but this is the web and one of the major benefits of it is that it’s quantifiable.

On my way home in the car this evening, I heard another advert that uses the Google verb. Yes, a company called “First Advertising” are running adverts on TodayFM and Newstalk in which the great employee suggests his boss should Google ‘Advertising’ and choose the first company that appears on the list.

Now for me, that is just suicidal! Nevermind that fact that no-one is in control of the search results other than Google, if I were in direct competition with First Advertising, I could easily turn on a Google Advertisement and be number 1 within minutes.

The other obvious scenario that they have clearly overlooked is the fact that if you do perform a search in Google (.ie) – it is Wikipedia that is actually the first result, in fact it’s not even in second place. Not until you choose “pages from Ireland” on the left hand side of the screen (which is harder to see with the new Google layout) do you actually see this company’s listing. Worse still, if you search on Google.com, they don’t appear on the first page at all!

On their website they state they are running these ads to celebrate their “clear dominance” of the Google search results. Dominance in a search results page that has no more than 2 other real competitors (pages from Ireland search).

I’m sure First Advertising are a great company, but they are just leaving so much open to chance that for me it’s a complete waste of money.  I wish them great success with the campaign and I really can’t wait to see how many of the top SEOs will try knock them from their perch!

Oh and of course…. If you want someone to look after your Google Advertising campaign, you could always contact me! 😛

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Web design search volume in decline


As the recession hit, most web design companies were busier than they had ever been before. There seemed to be a sudden rush of businesses trying to get online. In the majority of cases it was a knee-jerk reaction to prop up their falling incomes. During the latter half of 2009, this sudden rush seemed to have abated. There are many stories flying around that some of the major web design companies in Ireland are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and offering well below cost websites in order to generate some sort of cash flow.

Although they say that 99% of all statistics are made up, it’s still worth looking at some… :)

Google Trends is a great tool for researching keyphrase search popularity over a number of years of traffic on Google. So I used this tool to run a few searches on terms relating to web design to see if it could paint any sort of picture of what the state of the web design is in.

Web Design Search Stats - Google Trends

As you can see from above graph, the search term “web design” has been on a massive decline since the recording of the statistics began. Interestingly, if you take a close look at the latter quarter of 2009, you can also see a steady decline in searches for “web design”.

December is generally a slow time for new business in web design terms, so there are no surprises when you see the massive dips in searches across all years. Also quite interesting, is the steady performance of the term “website design”. In fact, there’s possibly a slight growth in searches for this term throughout 2009.

Does this mean that the web design industry has finally entered the recession with everyone else?

Only time will tell I guess…

Looking at the other side of our business; online marketing, it appears to be performing quite well. There is an obvious increase in searches for “SEO” – everyone seems to know what it is now or at least know someone that fancies themselves as one. There is a decline in searches for “Internet Marketing” though, maybe a phrase that has been lost to the popularity of “SEO”.

Although it’s hard to see from this graph, there has been a surge in searches for “Social Media Marketing“, which started showing up on the radar in 2007. No surprises there, since it’s the latest and greatest buzz word on the planet!

Online Marketing Search Trends

We’ll never get a true picture of the web design or online marketing industry from statistics like this. For example, the searches for “SEO” are being diluted by people trying to figure out how to market their own websites rather than actually looking for those services. None-the-less it’s interesting reading for anyone in or trying to get into this industry.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments

Business Blog or Not?

Here’s a little scenario I’d like you to think about. It’s something we come across on a regular basis.

Tom runs a landscape gardening company and has a small 5 page websitewith the following structure:

Home Page
About Us
Services
Examples of Our Work
Contact Us

At the moment, Googlehas listed all 5 pages from his website on their search results. Tom knows that he shouldn’t really target more than 2-3 keyphrases per page and that his contact page and examples page have very little content, so therefore would be pointless to use for keyword targeting.

That leaves Tom with 3 pages that he can use to target Google for his chosen keyphrases. He thinks to himself, “surely there’s an easier way to get more pages on my website, so I can target more phrases”.

Tom notices that there’s a one day seminar being run in his local enterprise centre on online marketing. So he decides to attend. An apparently well respected Online PR expert recommends that he should use a blog as it will “significantly increase his ranking on Google”.

So after the seminar, Tom’s mission is to install a blog on his website. The first article he write is titled “how to create a perfect lawn”. He remembers the Online PR expert mentioning that most blogshave a system whereby they “ping” Google to let it know that you have published an article. In most cases, your article should appear pretty quickly on Google, in some cases in less than 15 mins.

After publishing his article, he does a quick check on Google to see how many pages of his site they have indexed (site:yourdomainname.com). “Brilliant”, he exlaims! “I now have a 6 pages listed on Google! If I keep going at this rate, I’ll have hundreds of pages indexed by Google in a few weeks. This is gonna be great!”, Tom thinks to himself.

As days go by, Tom keeps a close eye on his website statistics and notices that the site is getting a lot of traffic for “how to create a perfect lawn” and “a perfect lawn” etc. Surprisingly for Tom, he hasn’t yet got one sales enquiry. “Why could this be?”, he thinks.

Tom contacts his local SEO expert and asks for some advice. The SEO expert quickly points out that anyone searching for “how to create a perfect lawn” are unlikely to be looking to hire someone? “Isn’t it most likely that they will be trying this themselves since they searched Google on how to do it?”, the SEO expert says. “Ah, that makes sense”, says Tom.

So the next day, Tom decides to create an article that is more tailored towards the keyphrases he wants to target, rather than providing free tips and tricks. His new article is called “Landscape Gardening in Ireland”. He doesn’t want it to appear as a spam article, so rather than just filling a page with keyphrases, he spends quite sometime researching and writing a post on “Landscape Gardening in Ireland”.

After a few days, he checks his website stats again… “YES!”, he exclaims. “I’m being found for “landscape gardening in Ireland” and Google has 7 pages of my website indexed!”, he says.

Tom is delighted, this is great news. Tom thinks, “But why have I not got any sales enquiries?”. “Surely this time, people searching for “landscape gardening in Ireland” are looking for a landscape Gardner?”, Tom thinks to himself.

On further inspection of his website statistics, Tom notices that most people finding his website are going directly to his blog article and then leaving the website. They’re not even bothering to have a look at his wonderful portfolio page of all his great work. Tom’s unsure where to turn next. He has wasted time writing these articles that he doesn’t even enjoy doing and he has plenty of other things that he could. On top of this, he’s not too sure what to write about next… But what should he do??

Does this sound like you?

The simple answer to this is – Tom should talk to someone who can help – www.2bscene.ie would be a good place to start! :)

The above scenario is similar to situations we encounter on a regular basis. Website and business owners are led to believe that blogging is the be all of a successful online marketing campaign. The simple fact is that they can be, but NOT for everyone.

The truth is that most of those requesting a blog have been ill informed about the true value a blog provides. Most don’t really understand how to use a blog successfully as part of an online marketing campaign. They expect miracle results even though they’re not sure what exactly a blog does or can do for them.

The increase in requests for blogs can lie squarely at the feet of fly-by-night SEO Experts and “social media and online marketing experts”. These guys love to talk the talk, but most have never really walked the walk. They hype blogs as the saviour in terms of promoting and marketing your website. Unfortunately, they only give away half the facts.

To get the answers you need to see if you it’s worthwhile you need to ask them the following questions:

  1. Do you think it would suit my business?
  2. Do you think I could generate business from a blog?
  3. If so, what would my best approach to doing this be?
  4. Have you examples of clients you have helped create a return with a blog?
  5. If so, can I talk to them!

That should be enough to have them either running away or helping you understand how a blog might help your business.

Here are the simple facts:

  1. Blogs DO NOT increase your search engine ranking
  2. Google loves content – the more you have – the better (ideally it should be related to your area of business)
  3. Blogs DO help you create more content for the search engines – therefore, you should increase the traffic to your website, because your website is likely to be indexed for more search terms
  4. Blogs are a great way of building your profile and help promote you as an authority in your field

Whatever your reason for wanting a blog, please don’t be fooled by those selling it to you as a “magic bullet” solution for search engine rankings. It’s not, if it was everyone would just install one rather than hire a SEO expert.

Blogs can be good for your business, but you need to seriously consider why you are creating a blog. You also need to consider if you plan to create business from your blog and if you do, what is the best approach to achieve this.

Tags: , , , , ,

1 Comment