December 6th, 2011.
A few weeks ago we asked a few folks on Twitter to complete a short (okay, maybe not that short) 22 question survey, looking specifically at the business side to working in SEO. We asked the all important questions, including:
- Where are you based?
- What kind of business are you?
- How many people work in the business?
- What other services do you offer besides SEO?
- How many clients do you currently manage?
- Do you contract your clients for a set period of time?
- What is your usual client contract arrangement (i.e. how do you charge for your work)?
- Your average charge per month for SEO services?
- Typical client retention period?
- Biggest issues facing your business today?
- Biggest barrier to sales?
- Biggest source of leads?
- What activities are included in a typical campaign?
- Link building tactics- what tactics do you employ for the majority of your campaigns?
- Do you buy links? (what SEO survey would be complete without this question? ;))
- What 3rd party tools do you subscribe to?
- What keyword tools do you use primarily?
- How long on average do you spend reporting to a single client?
- What metrics do you include in your standard reports?
- How did you get into SEO?
- What skills do you consider to be the most important skills for an SEO?
- Have you ever had a site penalised?
The results of the survey are pretty interesting- take a look for yourself below:
We’ll be releasing the source data as promised in the next few days. Let us know how your company compares to these averages in the comments below!
November 17th, 2011.
One of my colleagues here at Datadial talked about the peculiar QR code and its uses previously on this blog. Fast forward to now and it seems to have evolved (or caught up with Japan who created them, since technically we live in the stone ages in comparison).
eBay are getting in on the act…
A post from the good folks at Econsultancy informs us of a new-age phenomenon set up by eBay, that will see customers sent online to buy goods only after scanning their bar codes with QR compatible devices.
After reading it, I started thinking about the future of shopping as a whole, with Google taking over the virtual world and taking on everyone from Apple (with Google Music) to Facebook (with Google+) are we living in a world where soon instead of buying food in-store we will be asked to produce our phones first, to then scan a code, pay online and wait for said food to be delivered? Could it become as outrageous as to be used in convenience stores for quick snacks like a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps?
If this is the present already, what does the future hold…?
Both funny and annoyingly true right? …and that’s just online shopping. If we are entering into a world of offline/online mergers what else could happen? I mean sure, in theory there are many problems it could solve:
- Store space would no longer be an issue (just like it no longer was for Cassette’s, CD’s and vinyl after iTunes was born)
- No heavy bags to carry home
- Lesser feelings of guilt because money becomes virtual too; if we can’t see it disappear from our purses then we might forget what we spent
- Scheduling goods to arrive at a time that works best for us
However, what if the downfalls included…
- The wrong item turning up at the door
- The annoyance of having to exchange an item and there being no store front to take it to (or in-store employee to blame for the journey)
- No bag to carry (everybody enjoys a little logo-bragging from time to time)
- That silly little “sorry, you were out when we called” card that the postman surely writes before he even knocks the door in anticipation of you taking longer than he’d like to walk down the stairs & answer it…
To conclude, I agree that this pop-up store (due to launch near Oxford Street, London on Dec 1st) is a great PR stunt for eBay, but is there any real use for the QR code if most people are happy just Googling a URL? – Or perhaps it’s just me that really dislikes the matrix-esque appearance of those ugly squares being forced on the nation…
November 17th, 2011.
Affiliate window have released data that shows the huge lead that iPads have gained over other mobile devices when it comes to acquisitions.
The data cover 81.9m visits to merchants and 1.57m sales. Admittedly most of affiliate traffic is usually acquisition traffic but the results are also borne out by other data from other suppliers.
Fashion sites showed the highest conversion rates showing double the percentage of total sales of other sectors. This is not true for other devices.
Ipad users are converting at a higher rate than desktop users despite a poorer user experience in some cases. Why might this be so?
According to Affiliate Window’s Matt Swan:
iPad users typically have higher amounts of disposable income, know what they want to purchase and are using their iPad’s to transact. We typically see that a lot of desktop traffic is where consumers are in the research phase. This traffic is not necessarily going to convert and is why we are seeing lower conversion rates through desktops.
In addition, the way in which people are using Ipads and tablets may also impact this. People use their iPads at home, perhaps browsing while in bed on a Sunday morning, or on the sofa while watching TV. In short, it’s more of a lean-back experience. The fact that jumping between websites on an iPad is also slightly more painful on an Ipad may diminish the desire to price compare in great detail, particularly if price is not the largest decision factor.
Only 16% of companies are conducting any kind of usability testing on tablets, but these stats show that retailers (ad fashion brands especially) need to take notice of the iPad.
October 27th, 2011.
Earlier this month Google announced changes to the importance Google AdWords places on Quality Score, which is likely to affect a number of advertisers. Based on tests carried out in Brazil, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Spain and Portugal, Google’s Adam Juda announced that the update will be rolled out globally over the coming weeks.
The update places more importance on the relevancy of a landing page when calculating Quality Score- a component in the formula which determines where your ad displays in search results and your cost per click when competing with other advertisers. Essentially- it’s now more important than ever to ensure that landing pages used for PPC are as relevant and optimised as possible- rewarded by higher positions with lower cost-per-click costs.
In an interview with Search Engine Land’s contributor Pamela Parker, Google’s Director of Product Management- Jonathan Alferness suggests that the current user experience for AdWords users could be improved:
What we’ve seen is that there are ads available in the auction that are as good a quality as the top ads. But the landing pages — the merchant sites, the advertiser landing pages — are of much higher quality than the ads that we see at the top of our auction… This means the user experience isn’t what it could be…
In the end, we believe that this will result in better quality experience for the users.
How will this change affect you?
With added emphasis on landing page Quality Score, it’s important to be aware of this change and now is the time to assess your current landing pages. We can expect to see an initial change within AdWords as this change initially rolls out to the rest of the world:
As the changes roll out, some campaigns will see variation in keyword Quality Scores and typical ad position. Within a couple weeks, things should stabilize and we expect most campaigns will not see a significant change in overall performance.
Past this, sites with lower quality landing pages may expect to see lower quality score values, lower ad positions, and possibly higher cost-per-click prices when competing against advertisers with better quality landing pages.
October 17th, 2011.
Findings from Marin Software’s Paid Search Quarterly Benchmarking Report, suggest that if you use one of the new tablets, as opposed to a PC, it’s possible to increase the click through rate on paid ads by more than a third. The research was based on a mapping of how much was spent on paid search by almost a thousand agencies and advertisers across the world, giving a total for all of £1.3 billion.
More than 90% of the annual cost of spending on paid search came from PCs, tablet users spent only 2% and the other 5% cam from smartphone users. The trend tracking was undertaken in the third quarter. According to the report the CTR or click through rate for the ads on tablets was much higher than on PCs. However, when it came to the advertiser’s average CPC or post per click the rate on tablets was 29% less than on smartphones and PCs. The volume of clicks for advertisers with Bing and Yahoo was up 43%, yet there was a drop of 10% in CPC.
The growing use of tablets could mean a shift in advertisers’ strategies for paid search ads, according to Ed Stevenson, the Managing Director of EMEA and APAC for Martin Software He further added may change their strategies for advertising and spending to cope with the shift in browsing habits to things like the iPad. More importantly, advertisers may need to work on device specific programs to improve results. Coincidentally this report was released at the same time as the quarterly report from Google, stating that in the three months finishing the end of September, earnings rose to £6.16bn ($9.72bn), a rise of 33%.
August 24th, 2011.
…a wheelbarrow in an open field that you drag along every day filling it with this and that – each thing you add to it has some significance and some use.
Now imagine you never empty the wheelbarrow. Each day, not only do the things you found the week before now lie at the bottom covered by the newest additions, but the device also becomes increasingly heavy to pull until eventually, it becomes almost impossible.
Now think of the wheelbarrow as your website, and think of its contents as the factors affecting its speed – Let’s explore these factors…
- Empty spaces between code (This only adds to processing time)
- Missing tags (Causing internal errors & bugs in the site)
- Bulky HTML (such as using unnecessary tags where something more CSS compatible would work better e.g. using the tag “font-size” rather than just “small”)
- Background colour being the same as text colour (making all text unreadable)
- Hyperlinks that fail (Devaluing your site in terms of credibility, and possibly increasing bounce rates)
- Missing images
An overload of HTTP requests:
Whenever your web browser fetches a file from a web server, for example when it loads a picture, it does this by using HTTP which stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol”.
HTTP is an action whereby you’re computer requests for a particular file. One example is a request for ‘home.html‘ (the homepage of a particular website). The web server then sends a response to the computer that says something like: “Here’s the file you asked for” which is followed by the actual file itself.
Understandably, if your server is receiving a very high volume of requests for a range of different things, such as pictures, graphics, photographs, music players and video rendering, it can take its toll and end up really slowing your website down.
Too many cookies:
HTTP Cookies are used mainly for personalization and authentication purposes. A series of saved information is exchanged between the web server and the browser in order to remember things about how you are using the internet. For example if you are shopping online and exit the website returning at a later date, a cookie will enable the site to remember what you had in your shopping cart so you don’t have to spend time finding the same items again.
Web hosting is the business of providing storage space and access for websites. Bad web hosting happens when said storage space is overloaded with many websites, yours is added to the list and so runs slow. Other issues caused by a bad web host include:
- Search engines being unable to crawl your site resulting in a fall in Search Rank
- Your website being “down” (not working, sending out 404-errors)
- Not being able to contact your web host to fix the issue (since the service is so bad the system has probably crashed)
Excess of external media:
Embedded YouTube videos, actually embedded anything that is coming from another website can potentially slow yours down. When you embed something from another site, you are relying on that sites web server, that sites speed, and that sites ability to ensure the embedded item is working properly there, so that it works properly on yours site. Often, even when it works just fine, it might add an extra few seconds to a certain page loading…a few seconds a potential customer may be unwilling to wait!
Spam is so much more than just a bunch of annoying emails. It slows down the Internet and it increases consumer fees.
The internet is a network where spamming effects everyone that uses it. To push spam around the internet relies on a process; it begins with global networks that pass the spam along to their destination, and ends with the message being received by the recipient.
Simultaneously, time, money and resources are used trying to catch and prevent spammers from infiltrating mail servers resulting in higher costs to the consumer because providers are forced to add more security to their servers and hire more staff to manage and prevent the problem.
Be sure to spam proof all web forms by adding “captchas” or similar.
A ‘favicon’ is an image (as shown above) that stays in the root of your server. It’s definitely needed because even if you don’t care about them, the browser still requests one. If there isn’t one, it will respond with a 404 error (meaning not found). Any error message, such as a 404 or 301, is an extra message sent that adds time to the processing of a site.
This image or lack thereof, interferes with the processing sequence by requesting extra components in the load, and since the favicon is the first thing that is downloaded before these extra components, if there isn’t one, the first thing downloaded will be an error.
Too many advertisements:
Any time a site uses advertisements, you are adding to other processes a site goes through in order to function correctly. Programmes like Google Adsense and Microsoft adcenter are external, and reputable, however it is logical to practice the same rules as with external media; everything in moderation – besides, sites with too many ads look un”site”ly! :-P
If any of these apply to you, take active steps to protect your website against sloth! Speed be with you!
July 8th, 2011.
1. You didn’t explain exactly what it was that you wanted…
Did the SEO agency you chose actually understand what it is you do? Did you assume they would? I bet you did! Well that was a rookie error – just because they know SEO, it doesn’t mean that automatically they’ll know all of your business goals and aspirations. It certainly doesn’t mean that through SEO, all of your dreams will come-true overnight. Covering things such as budget and goals are essential in order for us to devise the appropriate strategy for you.
2. The SEO’s weren’t told what already worked (or didn’t work) for you…
Were you clear about what the best features of your online endeavours are so far? Did you talk about what proved successful, or things you tried and that were unsuccessful?
All conversions can be tracked which shows any progress SEO’s have (or haven’t) made. However, if you don’t inform the SEO’s of what already works or doesn’t then you can’t argue if there are repeat mistakes.
3. You didn’t indicate the importance of having one main person oversee the account…
Because any reputable SEO agency isn’t made up of just one person behind a desk and computer handling every enquiry made, but is rather formed of a team of people ranging in size (the team not the people, although this applies to both :-) ) that help manage your account – it is likely that, much like a ‘Chinese-whisper’, your goals, aims and dreams are somewhat diluted to anyone that didn’t speak to you directly.
For example, when person 1, explained the information to person 2, who made brief notes and handed those to person 3, person 3 wasn’t following your direct instructions. They might not have fully understood the notes…however, you don’t have to accept this. If you only feel comfortable with one person in particular handling your account, request that only that person have access to it. This way, any changes made by you won’t come as a surprise to the SEO.
4. You didn’t understand the amount of work needed and so were surprised when costs were higher than expected…
Good Search Engine Optimization will get your site discovered in online search results. There is however, more to it than that. Many people in an SEO agency work to get your site to its optimum, and you need to be aware of just how much work goes into this.
This team will mainly be in charge of making sure that SEO is being carried out for all your online needs
This team works alongside the SEOs to help get you publicity online.
Usability & Design:
This team will have the job of creating a smooth user experience for all users that come across your website.
This team will develop, build and ensure things work – such as buttons on your site, conversion tracking and more.
Providers of Content:
This team will ensure that good content is maintained, and optimised so that people can find it.
5. You didn’t maintain a good relationship with the agency…
Chances are, you started off all guns blazing, before slowly falling into a pattern of laziness, assuming the agency would take care of everything the way you wanted – meaning you wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Further, you were unavailable for meetings, you didn’t specify what kinds of reports you wanted, and changes were (or were not) made that you caused dissaproval. When (on your say-so) these changes were reversed, rankings and conversions fell and this caused (even more) tension between you and the agency.
Remember, rankings and conversion rates can see-saw and any changes made to your site can take time to show the positive affect they are having. You should try not to ignore advice about possible re-designs or new pages that should be added to your site. Other things to consider are using services to monitor your online reputation and testing better versions of your website to get the best results.
Good luck! ;-)
June 18th, 2011.
Does anyone know this Matthew Fox from a company Fox Draper. He also goes under the name of Matthew Terry.
The little weazel conned me out of some money for telemarketing services which I stupidly paid for upfront and he has now disappeared.
Do you know him? Have you had a similar experience? please let me know.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN DEFRAUDED BY MATTHEW FOX PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW SO THAT WE CAN COLLECT EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM AND RECOVER OUR MONEY
Here’s the ruse he used:
He promised to bring in leads and said I would only pay him the remainder of the funds once he had bought in an agreed volume of qualified meetings.
He asked me to set up an email account which he could use in our name. He provided a contract and an address at Witheringdon Hill, Burwash Common, TN19 7JN, or at Unit 3 Bedgebury business Park, Goldhurst, TN17 2QZ (or 2Q2)
All seemed legitimate but once the money was paid we never heard from him again.
Since posting the blog post I have spoken to two companies who were about to deal with him but found this blog post first. For them he claimed to have worked for Eroll E-commerce, D3R Media in Chichester. For us he claimed to have worked for Screen Pages.
If you do speak to him and confront him then he will pretend that the reason I have posted this blog is that we fell out. This is not true – we never had a chance to fall out as he disappeared with my cash before we even got started.
Anyway please do add your comments below if you have had a similar experience or know how I can get hold of him.
Subsequent to this post and the subsequent uncovering of further businesses who have been similarly affected Matthew Fox/Draper/Terry was arrested in April 2012. He initially pleaded not guilty to the 16 charges of fraud against him.
The day before trial he pleaded guilty to the offences.
On November 22nd he was given a prison sentence of 18 months for all crimes to run concurrently (so 18 months in all). Below you can see the posts that started this process off.
Personally it gives me no pleasure to see Matthew in prison but hopefully some good will come out of this. I believe all victims are still waiting for their money to be paid back which I presume is unlikely.
Thank you to all those who found my post and commented