Posts Tagged Web search engine

SEO : the biggest con of the 21st Century?

It seems like an age now since Eoghan McCabe of Contrast wrote his controversial “SEO is Bullshit” blog article back in 2008. That article was followed up a few weeks late with an article titled “SEO is Still Bullshit” which included discussions and comments from some of Ireland’s most respected SEO experts.

At the time, Eoghan’s article and subsequent comments irked me quite a lot. He, like every other SEO sceptic totally ignored the value and definite “need” element of SEO and focused purely on the usability issues that were generated by poor techniques used by most SEOs in order to get websites ranked in the Google search results.

In hindsight and after many more years in this business, seeing the rise (and fall) of (too) many so called SEO expert individuals and companies; I’ve finally woken up to the fact that SEO is in fact total bullshit.

Yes that may sound quite alarming coming from someone who has sold the importance of Search Engine Optimisation for over a decade. But the simple fact is that SEO has probably one of the biggest cons of the 21st Century.

I say this with complete sincerity and assure you that this is definitely not an article designed to create linkbait as was suggested at Eoghan’s reasons for his original article.

Let’s look at the very basic facts surrounding SEO.

  1. Ranking a website is easy!
    Yes believe it or not it’s quite easy to get your website ranked on Google or any other search engine. Granted, the more competitive the key phrase wish to rank for, the harder it is to rank.

  2. Google wants to find Good websites with relevant content
    A very simple fact of the matter is that Google wants to rank websites that are relevant to the search being performed. Searching on Google would be a waste of time if the sites it ranked in the top results were not relevant to what you were searching for. A simple rule of thumb is to build a website that a user likes to visit and is easy for a search engine to find relevant content. That’s not rocket science is it?

  3. SEO is not Rocket Science
    I’m sure you’ve been there before, discussing search engine optimisation with a so called expert and he/she talks in riddles and makes SEO seem extremely complex. Well it’s not – there can be quite a lot to it if you are targeting a competitive key phrase, but in most cases it’s pretty straight forward.

  4. SEO only drives traffic!
    One major misconception I come across with people who know a little about SEO is that they sell SEO as a way to drive business through your company. Well the fact is that all is SEO does is drive traffic. Of course with more traffic, it should in turn produce more sales – putting more effort into focusing on building a website site that will convert as many visitors to your website as possible will in the long run be more useful than having a website that only a search engine can understand.

  5. SEO does not Educate!
    A lot of SEO’s sell SEO as the holy grail in terms of marketing your business. The fact is that SEO only targets people who already know about a service or product you provide. If you have a brand new concept or product that n0-one knows about – SEO will not help you get in front of the people that are likely to buy your product or service.

  6. SEO is just Good Web Design
    Every website we build now includes FREE on-site search engine optimisation – we just call it building search engine friendly websites. A lot of SEOs like to class themselves as elite God like beings that are more important than Web Designers themselves. But they’re not and the reality is that you should be thinking about making your website search engine friendly from the time you start building your website. I used to be shocked at how little HTML knowledge a lot of SEO experts actually have. Iif you don’t understand how a website is built under-the-hood, how the hell can you really understand SEO??

  7. SEO Forums / Blogs aren’t always right and are often taken out of context!
    One of my pet hates is discussing SEO with someone who has read up a little about SEO and automatically assumes that the information they have read is the Bible truth. If you happen to be reading an SEO article online, please check the date the article was published. Chances are the information you have is incorrect or well out of date.Also, please ensure you are taking everything in context and not just jumping at conclusions without testing. SEO is all about trial and error – NEVER assume anything!!

    For a classic example of how unconfirmed theories send shockwaves through a whole industry, read this article – a prime example of an out there theory… http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7594-is-email-reputation-now-a-google-ranking-factor

  8. Matt Cutts is not an SEO
    Yes I’m sorry Matt lovers, but have you ever seen any websites that Matt himself has personally performed a search engine optimisation job on? Well I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t of course! 

    Yes, one thing he has got over us all is that he has inside information. How much is questionable as he rarely seems to throw out anything more than the obvious.

    He’s constantly being taken out of context, with a lot of people taking what he says as “fact”, without reading into the actual meaning of his comments in the overall picture of things.

SEO? The bottom is that anyone can can do it. That sole reason is why we now have a market saturated with SEOs that claim to be God’s gift to Number 1 rankings on Google.

The SEO industry has become one that preys on vulnerable companies who will never truly understood how the web nor search engines work, but believe the hype that is discussed at length at nearly every business seminar across the country.

There’s no doubt SEO is important, but its value in most cases has been greatly over exaggerated. For any website to be a success, you must create a search engine friendly website at the very least – whether you should go further depends very much on the competition in your field.

SEO is in the gutter as far as I’m concerned – from the companies that offer you “guaranteed No. 1 spots on Google” to companies who offer “link building services” from websites with little or no value. And of course we have the SEOs who think 301 redirects are the solution to all your problems, it just gets more ridiculous as time passes.

Maybe Eoghan saw all this long before the rest of us, one things for sure… he certainly seen it before me.

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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

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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

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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! 😛

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Google gets new look, it’s nice but there are somethings I just don’t get!

Google rolled out their new look to the Google.ie website this morning and it’s fair to say that most people probably didn’t even notice.

Google have decided to add a bit of life and colour to their much loved search engine, which makes it a little easier to spot some of the really cool features they added a little while ago. Things like the ability to search news, blogs, books and videos are now pretty much in your face and hard to miss, unlike the “show options” link they had in the past.

They’ve also decided to style the old looking “search” button and joined it with the actual search box on the inside pages. The logo is a lot more striking and clear than it has been in the past. Overall, they are pretty much subtle changes, but they have a nice fresh feeling effect to it.

There is one change that I really don’t get the concept behind and it’s this… If you visit the homepage of Google, e.g. www.google.ie and don’t move or click your mouse OR enter a search term, all you see on this page is the logo, the search box and the search buttons (as per image below).

However, when you do interact in some way with page, whether that be a mouse over, a click or enter a search term, the other elements fade (yes fade) in (as per image below)…

For the life of me, I just don’t understand why they’ve done this. Is it someone thinking it’s funky and cool??

This is appears to be a feature that is in complete contrast to the reasons given by Marissa Mayer as to why they value their copyright notice so much… Read why Google value their copyright notice so much

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