Posts Tagged Web search engine

It’s not all about your homepage!

Are Your Landing Page Forms Naughty or Nice?
Image by HubSpot via Flickr

In trying times, many businesses rightly try to save money where they can. One of the areas that possibly suffers most in a downturn, is the company website.

This is a real shame (of course I’d say that right), especially since your website is possibly the most cost effective tool that you have at your disposal to help promote your business.  And of course, if you decided to invest in a content management system, updating your website shouldn’t be too much hassle!

But what if you don’t have a CMS or you think your website is starting to look a little dated? A lot of companies think that by making “a few amendments” of their homepage will suffice. Generally they don’t understand the amount of work involved and they certainly don’t know how useful it will be when it’s all done. Unfortunately, making even the smallest amendments aren’t that straight forward. In fact, it can sometimes take longer to create a new homepage design with your additions than it was to create your homepage design in the first place!

Regardless of this, it must be noted that improving your website is not all about your homepage. We see this question on a regular basis:

“why does Google show my inside page when I search for X and not my homepage”

The simple answer is that Google will show the most relevant result to the search query performed. So therefore, if your contact page has more relevant information to the query, it will display this page above your homepage (in the majority of cases). For this reason, it is essential that you treat EVERY page as a landing page and not just your homepage.

If you thought you were doing an excellent job by creating many strong call to actions on your homepage, think again. You must include these call to actions on your inside pages too. You simply can’t tell where the user will land on your website after finding your website in the search engines. Of course, by studying your website statistics, you can see where people are coming from and what pages they are landing on after they have found you for a particular search. You should use these statistics to improve your call to actions on those landing pages.

So the next time you plan to make a “few small amendments”, try thinking of the bigger picture and how very likely it will be that you will have to make a lot more than just changes to your homepage!

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Mugurdy – The New Irish (made) Search Engine

I always love to see new indigenous Irish companies getting a break. But when I read a newspaper article about an Irish company who were about to launch a new visual search engine, I thought to myself “oh no, someone else has been duped into parting with their hard earned cash!”.

A “visual search engine” is nothing new by any stretch of the imagination. There are a number of high profile visual search engines already up and running on the web for some time. In fact one of the leading visual search engines (searchme.com) has recently shut its doors. Their once innovative website sits looking deserted, with what can only be described as a desperate plea to raise cash by selling their IP to anyone who will take it off their hands! In the company press release, they stated that they needed to raise at LEAST $100 million to compete with the likes of Google, Bing or Yahoo!. This should be a stark reality check for Mugurdy, since it’s straight from a company that had already pumped $44m into their doomed idea.

But who cares huh?
We’re Irish after all and we all love the under dog… Surely Mugurdy can pull this one out of the bag with their Irish fighting spirit!

Wrong…

I stumbled across the sites release after reading a post on Boards.ie which said:

“I just thought I’d drop in a link to http://www.mugurdy.com which is a search engine we’ve been working on for a while now. It’s not finished, is basically still in beta, but I’d be interested to hear any feedback on it!”

I’m not entirely sure what Mugurdy’s strategy is here. If this is their plan for promoting the website, they really need a reality check. Remember, Microsoft pumped $1 billion into the marketing of their new Bing search engine to try compete with Google. If Mugurdy think that posting a link on one of Ireland’s most popular web properties is the way forward, they should really think again. I do hope they have a better strategy for promoting their site than this.

Anyway, I decided to play around with the search itself, to see if I would ever use a search like this. Now I know from using other visual search engines, that they just don’t give me what I expect from a search engine that I would be someone hard to please. Let’s face it, I search for information, not for pictures. I can see a use for a visual search engine for certain things, like looking for the prettiest website in a particular sector or to find a website that I a visual memory of what the website looked like. But for finding specific information, visual search just doesn’t cut it.

The first thing I noticed when I visited mugurdy.com was the homepage… They obviously went for the simplistic look made famous by Google. But they left out one key element of the Google homepage that Google value so much, their copyright notice. I’ve spoke before about why Google value their copyright notice (click here to read) and if Mugurdy want to compete with the big boys, they need to start researching in depth why things work so well for Google. There is plenty of free material available out there with studies on how people interact with Google.

As I continued on, it was clear that Mugurdy simply didn’t have the quality results that Google would have. I don’t knock them for that, we’ve seen how hard it has been for every other search engine on the web to come up with the quality of results that Google possess.

It didn’t take me long to realise (again) that visual search just isn’t for me, and never will be. For me, it’s much quicker and easier to hold my ctrl key and click each link on Google results to open a new tab. I can click 4 or 5 that interest me and by the time I’ve clicked the fifth result, the other 3/4 before that will have loaded into a full browser window in a new tab. You just can’t beat that simplicity.

It really makes you think about how companies are getting investment in Ireland. In the past year or two I’ve seen a lot of good start up businesses with great web ideas struggling to raise investment. Then you see companies like Mugurdy being invested in when they clearly have little chance of success. If our investors keep investing in ideas like this, we’ll have no money left to put behind really high potential start ups.

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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.

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Google Experts or are they?

Over the past few months, we’ve had a number of clients contact us here at 2bscene to inform us that they’ve been offered these great deals by so called “Google Experts”.

Not only are these Google Experts promising them the sun, moon and stars, they are also insinuating that they are better than any other SEO company out there because of the speed at which they can get you to the top of the Google search results.

Quite frankly, they’re lying. Any SEO company that tells you “they can guarantee you a number one position”, “are better than other SEO companies” or that “they have inside knowledge of how Google works”, are quite simply lying and trying to scam you out of your hard earned cash.

Any true Google Expert will know that there is no way to control the results that Google presents in it’s search results, so therefore guaranteeing no. 1 position is impossible.

Yes, there are ways that SEO experts can manipulate the search results by carrying out specific search engine optimisation techniques on and off your website – but that’s really all that they can do for you. unfortunately, there is NO magic bullet when it comes to appearing at the top of the search results in Google.

In a way I’m glad there isn’t because it would probably mean that there wouldn’t be an SEO industry there for us to work in.

So what are those signs that you should look out for if someone is offering you a great SEO deal? Well here’s a few things you should know…

  1. You won’t be cold called by a Google Expert – the best SEO companies aren’t likely to need to ring you, they will most likely have a lot of business already and if really good, will be getting a lot of business from the web!
  2. If they promise you the sun, moon and stars – such as a No. 1 spot on Google – they are unlikely to be a genuine company.
  3. Promise to get you to the top of the search results for the name of your business – only 15% or so people searching the web will look for you business name, plus it’s one of the easiest things to do in terms of SEO.
  4. If they tell you the have inside information on how Google works – they are lying.
  5. And if they tell you they are the best…. well what can I say….

It’s like everything else in life… if it sounds too good to be true… it probably is!

If you receive one of these calls (or emails) – please don’t hesitate to contact me for some advice. Or of course, if you need help with your online marketing strategy contact us at www.2bscene.ie

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Bing – a better way to search?

Microsoft‘s latest attempt at taking the search world by storm… www.bing.com

The full search service as described in their launch video doesn’t seem to be live yet (certainly not in Ireland) – You can view their demo video by clicking here.

Some features look great, like how you can search for holidays from within the search engine itself, which means you don’t have to visit loads of different websites. The shopping system is very similar to Google‘s Froogle, but more integrated.

I’m not sure that we really need another search engine, but this is certainly an improvement on their last attempt at making an improvement. I just fail to see the innovation from Microsoft, but maybe they simply can’t be innovative anymore?

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