Internet Marketing « Datadial Blog
0208 6000 500

On the subject of Internet Marketing

2919452629_15d3c63157_b-e1367377636409

Matt

December 7th, 2014.

How Not To be ‘That’ Annoying Company On Social Media

Social media is a truly unique platform for businesses. With social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you are able to form much stronger relationships with your customers and potential customers. You are able to interact and engage with them, in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. According to statistics, 74% of consumers say that social media influences their purchasing decisions, making sites like Facebook an invaluable tool for businesses.

If you use social media sites the right way, you will increase your company’s visibility, further increase brand awareness, and even increase your conversion rates. When social media is done wrong, however, it can have a negative impact on your business. Through mediocre posts, ill-timed tweets and poor social media management, companies can end up ruining their reputation. There are certain things that you simply don’t do on social media sites, if you don’t want to be known as “that annoying company”.

Mix Personal and Professional Accounts

Putting photos of you and your family on holiday next to photos of your products looks very unprofessional. Posting what you ate for lunch or your weekend plans is also unprofessional. Those types of postings are fine for your personal social media profiles, but not for your business. Keep your personal and your professional social media profiles separate, and you’ll increase your company’s credibility.

Overshare

Having an opinion on a matter is fine, but sharing that opinion on social media often isn’t. Always be careful when it comes to your opinion. Oversharing can have a very negative impact on your business and it can ruin its reputation. So next time you are writing a post, ask yourself whether this post is relevant or useful to your readers or whether you are just using social media as a platform for your opinions. If it’s the latter, don’t post it.

82894449362364757_XcftxUat_c

Get into Arguments

People have always complained, even before the Internet. However, the Internet is making it easier than ever for people to express their views and opinions on everything, from TV shows to services. On your social media profiles, you will find negative comments. If you want to maintain your reputation, and build a strong brand, you need to deal with these comments in the right way.

If someone has a legitimate complaint about your company, do not ignore it and definitely don’t delete it. Instead, reply to their post over social media, so that everyone else can see that you deal with customer issues professionally and efficiently. In your response, tell the customer that you would be happy to discuss the issue and that you will send them an email address or a phone number in a private message, where they can contact you about their issue.

Sometimes, people online, often known as trolls, will simply leave negative remarks that may have nothing to do with your business, just for the sake of it. In this situation, simply ignore it. Never get into an argument with someone over social media, as it looks unprofessional, and it certainly won’t create a good image of your brand. The last thing you want your customers to see when they first visit your company’s Facebook page is an argument between you and a customer.

Ignore or Capitalise on Current Events

Keeping up to date with current events is important. You could accidently post something offensive, without realizing it and your business appear extremely tactless. Also, do not try to capitalise on current events. For example, during the Arab Spring uprising, Kenneth Cole, a designer, used the hashtag circulating for the incident, which was #Cairo in a tweet to advertise his spring collection. The tweet, which said, “millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available online”, was incredibly tactless and disrespectful. The tweet damaged his reputation.

egypt-tweet-kc

Be Inconsistent

Posting sporadically on your social media profiles is a guaranteed way to turn off consumers. If a person visits your Facebook page, for example, and sees that you haven’t posted anything for a month, they will start to wonder if your business is legitimate. They will wonder whether your company is still active too. If you want your business to be an authority it its field and increase its visibility, then you must be posting at least three times per week on your social media profiles.

Consistency isn’t just important for the frequency of your posts, but also for the personality and the voice that you use in your posts. Your company should have its own voice and personality. If your company is laid back and casual, then your tweets and Facebook posts should reflect this. Make sure that all of your profiles, posts and tweets have the same personality, tone and voice. Don’t post a formal tweet followed by a casual one, or you’ll simply confuse your customers. Your social media profiles should provide your customers with a strong sense of your brand’s personality and values.

Post too Much

Filling up someone’s Twitter feed with inane tweets will only annoy your potential customers. People don’t need updates on Facebook or Twitter every ten minutes. Posting too much is a mistake that companies often make. They feel that in order to target potential customers and increase their visibility, they must always be posting. Ultimately, customers don’t want, or need, constant updates on your company.

Use your Profiles just to Advertise

It’s true that social media profiles are an effective tool for businesses. They can improve customer relations, make your company seem more credible and help you to attract and retain more customers. However, if you want your social media profiles to achieve the results you want, you must avoid over-advertising. Using your Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles just to advertise your products or services is a bad idea. Instead, your social media posts should be useful, valuable and relevant to your potential customers. Use your profile to link to your company’s blog post, to share tips and to share links to content that your potential customers may find useful.

72% of people who use the internet are active on social media sites, making social media a highly effective platform for businesses. If you want to utilise social media to boost conversion rate, and improve customer relations, then don’t be that annoying company on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure that you avoid doing things that will simply annoy your customers. Instead, use social media to engage with your customers. If you do social media right, you’ll build much stronger relationships with your customers.

reddit_logo_Startup_380x285

Matt

November 30th, 2014.

How the Reddit Algorithm Works

Reddit is a social networking platform and news website. On Reddit, users of the site can share links to content online, and also post their own unique content directly to the site. Other users can then up-vote or down-vote this content and leave comments. While Reddit is primarily a social platform, it can be a valuable asset for online businesses. Ecommerce sites can use Reddit to promote their content, and increase the visibility of their products or services. With 114.5 million unique visits each month, Reddit is a platform that can vastly increase your businesses’ visibility.

Using Reddit

When you visit Reddit, you’ll see a front page that lists links posted by other users. The website also contains subreddits, which further categorise content into areas of interest, such as fashion or fitness. Each subreddit has its own front page too. Having your link feature on the front page of Reddit provides you with maximum visibility. Many Reddit users aim to get their link posted on the front page. To find out how Reddit ranks its content, you need to understand how the Reddit algorithm works.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-27-at-11.52.02-PM1

The benefit of having your content featured on Reddit is , outside of the huge traffic that it brings, it gives your content exposure to influencers. Bloggers and journalists often use Reddit for story ideas, so getting visibility on the platform often translates into exposure on other prominent sites a few days later.

reddit-billion

How the Reddit Submission Algorithm Works

As Reddit is an open source website, its code is freely available. The site’s algorithms are written in Python and the sorting algorithms are executed in Pyrex. Reddit has a story algorithm that it always uses, which is called the Reddit hot ranking. With the Reddit story algorithm, the number of votes and the submission time of a link have the largest effect on where a story will rank.

This is because Reddit implements a logarithm function in its algorithm. With this type of algorithm, the first votes on a link are more valuable than later votes on a link. For example, the first 10 up-votes will have the same value as the next 100 and so on. This means that as a link gets older, its ranking will slowly degrade, as the impact of the up-votes it gets becomes less significant. Conversely, it is also important to get some initial traction on a submission in order to give it early visibility.

Reddit ranks an item by calculating the number of votes a link has and then subtracting points based on how old that link is. This means that newer links generally rank higher than older links. This keeps the front page fresh, and ensures that links with thousands of up-votes aren’t stuck on the front page for weeks or months at a time. Stories that get a more equal range of up-votes and down-votes will generally be ranked lower than stories that have a larger percentage of up-votes.

How the Reddit Comment Algorithm Works

For comments, Reddit uses a different algorithm, as using the hot ranking algorithm wouldn’t be practical. For comments, it is most logical to list the best rated comments prominently, rather than giving precedence to the older comments. Instead of using the hot ranking algorithm, Reddit uses a confidence sort algorithm based on the Wilson score interval for its comments.

With a confidence sort algorithm, the best rated comments that the system has the most data for will be ranked the highest. For example, a comment with ten up-votes and 1 down vote will rank higher than a comment with only 1 up-vote and no down-votes, even though the latter comment has a 100% up-vote rate. The comments are ranked by data sampling and the date the comments are submitted isn’t an active factor.

Understanding the basics of the Reddit algorithm can help you to better understand the way that the platform works, and be able to use it more effectively.

crowdbooster

Matt

November 14th, 2014.

10 Great Social Media Tools For Marketing Managers You Should Know About

As more and more companies become aware of the importance of social media and the impact a well-run social media marketing campaign can have on their business, the need for clear, effective and efficient analysis of performance, reach, and the wealth of data available is ever greater.

Social media allows businesses to interact with their customers and create interest and excitement around their products and services, build their brand and ultimately generate revenue.

Knowing your audience, understanding how they behave and finding out what works and what doesn’t is key to helping develop a successful social media marketing strategy.

Below are 10 great social media tools for marketing managers to help you gain greater insights into your audience and manage your social media campaigns more effectively.

1. Google Analytics

GAProbably the most well-known analytical tool, Google Analytics has a whole host of features including social reporting which allows you to measure how visitors use your site, where they came from and how you can keep them coming back.  Social reports help you measure the impact social media has on your business goals and conversions showing you conversion rates and the monetary value of those conversions that occurred due to referrals from each social network.

The Social Plug-in report shows which articles on your site are shared and through which social media channels (Facebook like, Twitter Tweet, etc.) while tools such as Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution show how all your campaign elements work together so you can concentrate on those that work best .

While there is a free plan, the Premium service is designed for larger organisations and the more detailed insights they require.

 

2. Hootsuite

HootsuiteHootsuite is a Social Media Management Tool which allows you to manage multiple social streams like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and many more in one place.  It enables you to monitor and track what is being said about your brand or product and help you to respond instantly.

This is a useful tool if you have a team rather than one person managing social media as it allows you to delegate responses to different team members ensuring that no fans or followers are overlooked.

Although there is a free plan for personal use, the Pro versions costs £9.99 per month for up to 9 team members, 100 social profiles and unlimited RSS while there is also an Enterprise package for larger corporations (demo available).

 

3. Socialbakers Analytics Pro

Socialbakers Analytics Pro allows you to analyse the performance of your competitors on social media in order to gain a better understanding of their social business strategy across media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, etc..

Learning from their successes and failures helps you to create more effective social media campaigns for your brand.  Features include competitive analysis, visual reporting and Fan and Follower Insights as well as Mobile App Support.

There are various pricing plans starting from $120 per month.

 

4. Crowdbooster

crowdboosterCrowdbooster is a tool which helps you achieve an effective presence on Twitter and Facebook.

With Crowdbooster you can track the growth of your audience, know who your most interactive and enthusiastic fans are, and schedule posts for both Twitter and Facebook.  Crowdbooster also highlights the key information you should pay attention to, such as new and influential followers, so that you can engage with them.   You can also manage multiple accounts and share access with colleagues and clients.

There are a variety of pricing plans starting from $9 a month with a free 30-day trial.

 

5. Postling

postlingPosting describes itself as “your all-in-one inbox for all social activity about your business”.    From one social inbox, you can monitor what’s being said about your business on the web and respond to messages from your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.  You can also be alerted whenever a word or phrase you are tracking is published on Twitter, Facebook, Google News and WordPress.

Another feature is that using Postling you can publish to a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook Photos, and YouTube.

Pricing starts at $1 for the first 30 days and $10 a month thereafter.

 

6.  SocialBro

socialbroSocialBro is a tool specific to Twitter which helps you better target and engage with your audience while also providing analytical insights.  It informs you when’s best to tweet, how to indentify your influencers and discover new users, and analyse your Twitter competitors.  SocialBro works alongside Twitter scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and has a complete suite of tools designed to meet the needs of all types of user from individuals and small businesses to large enterprises.  Pricing plans range from free to paid to tailored.

 

7. ArgyleSocial

argyleArgyle Social is a B2B Social Marketing platform which ensures your efforts add value to your marketing through monitoring prospects, aiding engagement and tracking conversions.  Segmented campaigns, multi-network reporting and integration with sales platforms such as Marketo and SalesForce help prove the true value of social interactions.

Argyle Social helps you to qualify and quantify better leads, and build and maintain stronger relationships with your audience.

There are three monthly pricing plans with different features ranging from $200 for small marketing organisations to $600 for professional marketers to $1100 for large marketing teams.

 

8. Spredfast

spreadfastSpredfast is an enterprise social media management system that allows an organization to manage, monitor, and measure its performance across multiple social media channels.

It enables companies to , increase audience engagement through integrated campaigns and discover relevant topics from the moment they start to trend facilitating the creation of inspiring authentic content.

Spredfast’s listening and analytics solutions provide end-to-end visibility into the social data that helps companies understand their audience and make better business decisions.  It can be Integrated with your existing digital analytics applications like Omniture, Google Analytics, Brandwatch, Crimson Hexagon, and more.

Request a demo to see what it can do for your business.

 

9. Shoutlet

shoutletShoutlet is an Enterprise Social Relationship Platform which enables companies to understand their market, reach and engage target customers, grow their social database and plan and execute social content.  The ability to link different platforms together means site management efficiency and enables companies to see what products are popular with their customers.

It’s designed for social media marketing professionals who need a streamlined solution to creating social media content and managing interactions.  A demo can be requested.

 

10. Wildfire

wildfireFor enterprises and agencies, the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite enables you to turn separate social media tactics into effective strategic campaigns.  Features include Social ads which helps you reach the right audience across a variety of networks, the creation of interactive landing pages and promotions using pre-built templates or your own custom design and the management of conversations with your audience across social networks from a single dashboard.  Integrations between Wildfire, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager provide the insights to measure social ROI.

shutterstock_164465630

Matt

November 7th, 2014.

40 Ways to Increase Your e-Commerce Conversion Rates

You have built a website and sell product from it. You have entered the wonderful world of e-commerce. The question is, how well is your site performing? How are your e-commerce conversion rates?

There are a number of relatively straightforward ways to improve the conversion rates of your e-Commerce site. Here are forty ideas that you can use to ensure that potential customers find visiting your site a pleasant experience; a place where they find it worth their while spending their hard-earned money.

1.      Define your engagement strategy

It is vitally important that you determine exactly how you intend to engage with your potential customers. You want to ensure that these customers perceive that you are giving them value

2.      Use social media as a sales channel

There is a considerable amount of marketing done using social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest etc. Firms use these channels because they work

3.      Have a clear, navigable product page

Make it as easy as possible for people to find their way around your site and make a purchase. People are not going to be bothered if it is hard to work their way around your site

4.      Make product features prominent

Customers really want to know about your product. Therefore product features should have the highest prominence on your page.

5.      Don’t forget about mobile

In mid-2014 mobile internet usage exceeded computer internet usage. It is absolutely vital that your web presence is usable by people on mobile sites. It is a very good idea that your site is fully responsive, and (unless you have a separate mobile-specific site) your site scales down appropriately for mobile usage

m-commerce

6.      Think carefully about your online copy – use key words and SEO

Always write with SEO (search engine optimisation) in mind, to ensure that the potential customers have a good chance of finding you in a Google or Bing search.

7.      Make certain that your content is original

Your products may be the same as those on many other websites, but you need to ensure that your product descriptions are not a direct copy of those elsewhere. You need to reword each description to ensure that it is different to your competitors’ descriptions. The search engines look for, and penalise duplicate content.

8.      Use photos

The internet is a visual medium. Web surfers spend much of their time looking at pictures and graphics. Potential customers want to know what a product looks like, showing the product in use if relevant.

9.      Use lots of variety in your product photos

As customers cannot physically feel your product, they expect to be able to have a good view of it. This depends to some extent on your product, but in many cases potential clients are far more likely to buy your product if there are photos of it from different angles, giving an all-round view. A number of the better sites even have 360 degree viewers.

bridge55images

10. Provide tools to zoom in on your product photos

Another way to utilise photos of your products is to give potential customers the ability to zoom in and look at the fine details of your product.

11. Use videos if relevant

Many people browsing your site will be converted when they see a video of your product in action, particularly if it makes it clear that your product is useful and easy to operate.

12. Use a well-designed drop-down menu

If you have well-designed drop-down menus as navigation on your site it makes it easy for potential customers to find their way around your site. Avoid having these menus go more than 2 levels, though, because it can get confusing after that, and you lose the responsiveness for mobile browsers

13. Have a good site search function on your website

Site search makes it easier for customers to find what they want. Surveys show that up to 30% of people visiting a site use the site search function.

14. Offer complementary products on your product pages

Customers thinking of buying a particular product may choose to buy these complementary products, e.g. batteries beside electrical products, or on book sites show other books written by a particular author.

15. Make certain that you appear trustworthy.

There are too many fly-by-night firms on the internet. Customers want some evidence why they should trust you. Include a genuine telephone number. Include genuine reviews. Offer guarantees. If you use a certification brand, like McAfee Secured, make sure their logo is displayed in a prominent position.

16. Display a free phone number

Customers expect to be able to talk to you. Reputable firms use free phone numbers, so it is essential to your firm’s reputation that you do too.

17. Make chat available as a means of communication

It is all very well to offer a Freephone number and a Help or FAQ section on your site, but the easiest way to get interaction with a potential customer (well a reasonably computer-literate one at least), is to have a chat facility. It’s as close as you can get to there being a salesman in person to answer the customer’s questions

18. Consider offering video-chat on your site

This is even better than normal chat – your customer can see and interact with a real person, who could even demonstrate some features of the product

19. Make certain that your prices are clear and obvious

You don’t want disgruntled customers leaving, either because they can’t find the prices amongst all the guff on your page, or because they get to check-out only to find hidden costs added on. Prices need to be totally clear to your customers at a glance

20. Price competitively to your opposition

On-line customers have far more ability to do price comparison than brick and mortar customers. They can, and will, do price comparisons. You do need to be price competitive.

21. Look at offering Price Match

Being prepared to match your competitors’ prices will build up trust in you by potential customers. You may not earn as much from a particular sale, but hopefully you will make up for it with future sales. This is probably one to test over a period of time, because it will not be suitable for everyone.

22. Give limited time discounts

A classic marketing trick. Make your customers think they have to rush their decision and make a choice now, before they lose a discount.

Fila Promo Banner 3.2.12

23. Make payment easy for customers

The more payment options you have available the more potential customers will shop at your site.

24. Make a point out of offering free shipping

This is, of course, only viable if your margins can cover the free shipping. If so, then it will often be the deciding factor when a potential customer is trying to decide between you and a competitor –albeit the customer is still paying in a more indirect way

25. Offer quick delivery times

Customers like speedy delivery of products ASAP, and will often be willing to pay a premium for urgent delivery.

26. Show your daily cut-off delivery time on your site

Indeed it is very useful if you show a timer, indicating how long your customers have left to be able to get goods dispatched for delivery today. This probably depends on where you sell stock to – if most of your sales are overseas, it probably makes little difference whether the stock is dispatched today or tomorrow

27. Show your returns policy

It removes potential customers’ doubts if they can clearly see the ease with which they can return goods. If you offer Free Exchange, or a Money Back Guarantee, display it prominently.

28. Have low stock indicators on your site

It helps your customers if they know whether you have a particular stock item on hand (and if you don’t, how long will it take you to get replacement stock?

29. Use product reviews by customers

Customers like to see how others have found using the products they are considering buying. Include product reviews to assist potential buyers.

funny-amazon-reviews-three-wolf-moon-shirt

30. Show your seller ratings if you are operating in a community marketplace

If you are just one seller amongst many, for example a store in the Amazon Marketplace, displaying your seller rating (and other information about yourself) will build up trust.

31. Have clear Call to Action buttons

Make certain your call to action buttons are clear and obvious. Make certain that you test these out before they go live.

32. Use coloured buttons to direct customers through your check-out process

If you want to direct potential customers to take a certain path, highlight the button you want them to push a clear and obvious colour.  Conversely, make any buttons that reverse you back through the check-out process, grey.

33. Make certain there are no programming errors visible to your customers

Nothing looks more amateurish to website browsers that when an error message comes up when they try and order from your site. Only the most determined will continue forwards – anyone else will leave your site almost instantly.

34. Use test shoppers before your shop goes live.

You do not want real customers to find flaws in your system. It is far better if you hire a few people to act as test shoppers first, and take good notice of any flaws they find navigating and using your website.

35. Use relevant tools to optimise your site

There are some tools specifically aimed at optimizing your conversions, e.g. Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, Qualaroo, The Cart Closer etc. Try them out and keep using the ones that suit you best

36. Ensure your check-out fits on a single page

Multi-page check-outs send potential customers away, and a number pull out of the transaction part-way through the process. Make certain that the plugin or whatever checkout method you are using enables the check-out process to occur on a single page

UniqloSinglePageCheckoutScreenShot

37. Avoid compulsory registration at the checkout

Customers are often turned away because of the rigmarole of going through a compulsory registration process. It is far better to have an optional registration process once the order is processed

38. Only ask for essential information from customers

Potential customers get put off by having to fill in too much information. The simple rule is that if an item of information is not absolutely necessary, do not ask for it. Have a clean, stream-lined check-out page

39. Use automatic address recognition at your check-out

There are various apps / plug-ins that simplify the process for a customer entering their address. A customer is more likely to go through the purchase process if they do not have to make too much effort to get through the check-out

40. Use one-click process to speed up the check-out

Add an Amazon or PayPal button to your checkout to speed up processing of orders for your customers.

I suggest that you take a close look at your website and see how it rates in relation to these guidelines. If need be, make some changes. They will almost certainly be worth your while and the outcome should be increased sales.

link-bait

Matt

November 5th, 2014.

Great Examples of Linkbait used on eCommerce Sites

Content is an important part of any eCommerce site’s marketing strategy. Driving traffic to your website, generating links, increasing your websites search engine rankings and branding and PR are important factors for eCommerce sites. Linkbait is a very useful method for influencing all of these factors. Whether it’s a quirky video or a humorous infographic, linkbait can be very useful.

What is Linkbait?

link_baitingLinkbait refers to content, like a blog post or a video, which is designed to get people to link to (or share) that content. Search engines, like Google and Bing, take into account incoming links, and the quality of those links, when ranking a website. Organic, unpaid, won on merit links to a website are highly valued, so using linkbait is a very effective way for a site to increase its search engine rankings.

There are many different types of linkbait, but the most popular, and arguably most effective are:

  • Humour: Humour-based linkbait is very effective. People like things that make them smile or laugh, so funny content, whether it’s a video or a fake product page for an outrageous product will likely be shared with others.
  • News: If you provide updates on breaking news, or offer a news feed, or the latest news on one industry, this is called news linkbait. Using news stories is an effective method for getting more traffic, and repeat visits to your site.
  • Contrary: Content that is controversial or offers a viewpoint on a subject that is contrary to popular opinion is an effective type of linkbait. While a little risker, controversial content can draw in high numbers of traffic and it can generate a buzz about your website.
  • Resource: A long article, blog post, guide or eBook can act as an informational resource for visitors. Resource linkbait is one of the most successful forms of linkbait, because visitors are very likely to share it with others, and return to the resource themselves frequently. For example, a blog selling bridal veils may offer a guide to choosing a wedding venue.

How can eCommerce Sites Implement a Linkbait Campaign?

 Free Guides

Posting an extensive guide, walkthrough, or how-to, on your site is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website. A perfect example of using a free guide as linkbait is, Moz.com. Moz.com offers a “Beginners Guide to SEO”, which has proven incredibly popular. People have shared this guide with others, and have revisited it many times themselves too. It’s a good example of resource link bait. Think about what information would be truly useful, relevant and valuable to your customers. For example, if you sell supplements, fitness and nutrition based guides would be ideal. Don’t be scared of giving away too much here. The better and more extensive your resource, then the more successful it will be. Branding yourself as an expert or authority on a topic will pay dividends in the long-run.

Use a Constant Promotional Page

Create a page that has a static URL, and keyword optimise it. Then, place your offers and deals on that page. This is your incentive linkbait page. On this page, also highlight give-aways or contests. Keep this page for each and every deal, giveaway or promotion that your site hosts. Eventually, with each deal, you will get more and more links to that page, and therefore increase your website’s rankings.

Video content

Video content is a highly effective form of linkbait. Statistics show that after watching a video, website visitors are 64% more likely to make a purchase, and that if a webpage includes a video, it is fifty times more likely to rank in the first page of the search engine results. Video links can also generate a great deal of traffic on social media sites.

Infographics

As infographics combine images and information, they are becoming an increasingly popular form of content for websites. Infographics are very diverse in that while they deliver statistics, facts and information, they are also aesthetically pleasing, making them ideal for sharing on image based sites like Pinterest and also being referenced and republished in blog posts.

Blog Posts

From controversial opinion based posts to top ten style posts, done well blog posts are a very effective form of linkbait. When creating blog posts, think about what your target audience wants. What content would they find useful, and interesting enough to share? If you sell hiking equipment, you could write a post on the top ten hiking spots in the UK. Make it extensive, make it evergreen, focus again on being a resource, keep it updated and it will attract links over time.

Examples of Effective Linkbait Strategies

13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak

REI sells hiking and camping equipment. Its 13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak infographic, is the perfect example of linkbait. Combining the elements of humour and resource linkbait, this guide garnered REI a great deal of attention. It also leverages the popularity of zombie shows and movies, like the Waking Dead, to create a piece of content that is truly share-worthy.

ZombiePan

Tactical Duty Kilt from 5.11

5.11 Tactical is an eCommerce store that sells a wide range of clothing items, accessories and equipment for law enforcement, tactical operators, first responders and recreational enthusiasts. As an April Fool’s joke, the company announced its “Tactical Duty Kilt”. This joke product garnered the company a great deal of attention, so much so that 5.11 Tactical actually decided to really make the Tactical Duty Kilt. It’s the perfect example of how humorous linkbait, and fake product pages can really help an eCommerce website.

Blendtec Will It Blend? – iPad Video

Blendtec is a company that sells blenders. It has managed to not only increase traffic to its site through linkbait, but also differentiate itself from other similar companies on the Internet. The company has done this through its Will it Blend video campaign.

These videos show the founder of the company, Tom Dickson, blending odd items, from credit cards to mobile phones, in order to demonstrate how powerful the company’s blenders are. These videos have proved incredibly popular, but the Blentec Will it Blend iPad video is one of the most viewed.

Volkswagon Fast Lane – The Slide Video

Volkswagon had the ingenious idea to put a slide on the stairs of the Alexanderplatz subway station in Berlin. The company named the slide the Fast Lane. The subsequent video showing the slide in use asks the question, “Are you Ready for the Fast Lane?” Fun and thought-provoking, this video is the perfect example of how, when done well, video content can be an ideal form of linkbait.

 

Google-Panda-and-Penguin-Updates-and-What-Works-Best-Now

Matt

October 31st, 2014.

Google, Penguins, and Unintended Consequences

Changes to the status quo will often have unexpected and far-reaching results; so said Robert K Merton in his Law of Unintended Consequences back in 1936.2_142

Changes that are made by governing bodies and organisers to complex structures are almost unavoidably likely to have an impact on uninvolved bystanders; such is the nature of any system.

Modern economists make frequent use of the law to explain how decisions at a governmental level have significant unintended consequences further down the food chain.

Examples of the law in practice include wind farms that actually harm the environment by killing birds. Laws used to promote green vehicles which with the help of an enterprising salesman resulted in free golf carts for businessmen, and the Australian law making cycle helmets mandatory that actually resulted in an increase in the risk of death and serious injury to cyclists.

So what does all of this have to do with Google?

In the search engine world, there’s little doubt about who makes the rules; and with its recent Penguin update, Google has left some innocent websites suffering in its campaign for good SEO practices.

Some Early Examples

Now of course there is some history here. There are many early examples of unintended consequences that have arisen from decisions and courses of action that Google have taken,

  • Using Pagerank to dictate that links had value resulted in the link economy, blog networks, comment and forum spam and a proliferation of low quality web directorie
  • Google AdSense for publishers led to an explosion in content scraping, copyright theft and MFA (Made For Adsense) sites.
  • The introduction of rel=nofollow led to Pagerank sculpting and siloing.

So Where Does The Penguin Update Fit In?

The Google Penguin update was introduced in April 2012 as a means of identifying and demoting websites that had previously benefitted from aggressive SEO techniques.

According to Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s WebSpam team), the update targeted ‘all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site.’

To put it bluntly, it was designed to demote websites that appeared to be benefitting from undeserved backlinks.

The principles behind Penguin meant that it was welcomed by most web users. It would ensure that websites that engaged in link-spamming and other underhanded black-hat techniques would drop down the rankings. Google speculated that the first update would only have an impact on 3.1% of English search queries and 3% on searches made in the German, Chinese, and Arabic languages.

The Reality?

The Penguin Update was largely successful, resulting in the demotion of a hundreds of thousands of websites that had been ranking unfairly. Unfortunately it also affected some sites that hadn’t knowingly engaged in shady link-building practices.

For example, the specialist WordPress site WPMU.org was crushed by the update, dropping from 8,580 daily visits to a paltry 1,527 after it was introduced.

Despite the site’s owner, John Farmer claiming that there had been no keyword stuffing, link schemes or had any problems regarding quality. Matt Cutts came forward with the claim that the site had been penalised due to a few bad links pointing to it.

Largely it was felt that due to the nature of the site (a WordPress resource); there were bound to be links to the site indicating authorship and design of blogs often of a lower quality – links that were keyword heavy and in footers, blogrolls and often sitewide.

Even so, the damage had been done and it was left for WPMU to rebuild their rankings.

One major unintended consequence of the Google Panda Update was the ‘bad-by-association’ approach to some sites. If one site was penalised, sites associated with that site were shown to be affected negatively. In an online discussion Michael Martinez of SEO Theory said, ‘what they are seeing is a Cascade Effect where the websites that link to them suddenly lose value. So the real problem lies 1 or 2 tiers back. These are not false positives, although they are collateral damage.’ However we define this problem, it is clear that some websites have experienced a drop in traffic and money-earning potential through no fault of their own.

The Target Changes…

Some leading SEO experts have revealed that some more aggressive (and less-ethical) SEOs have posed as their rivals and petitioned sites with fake requests for the removal of perfectly good links. Such tactics have been adopted as a means of reducing competitor’s website rankings. Thankfully as yet this problem doesn’t seem to be widespread.

When fake emails aren’t enough, there have also been some reports of unscrupulous webmasters building spammy links to rival websites hoping to see them penalised as a result.

Even examples of blackmail threats made to websites with the threat of black-hat SEO and possible penalties.

Members of the specialist SEO Forum Traffic Planet revealed how devastating this tactic could be by test-targeting two websites with ScrapeBox blasts. This involved the creation of thousands of anchor-text based backlinks and resulted in a substantial ranking drop for the sites targeted.

The Traffic Planet case study was just one way of outlining the effects of a wide reaching problem. Danny Sullivan, the Editor in Chief of Search Engine Land pointed out that, ‘As for not accepting there’s no negative SEO, I’ve repeatedly said that it is possible … perhaps it [is] more viable now because it’s cheaper now. That’s exactly the opposite or refusing to accept that links could be cheaply and trivially pointed at any site. What remains unclear is how serious a threat it is to the vast majority of sites out there.’

The cautionary message here appears to be: as much as Google’s addressing of black-hat SEO may make for a quality content-driven user-experience, it’s by no means flawless. When in doubt, leave it out and play it safe.

dominos-pizza-sitelinks-1

Matt

October 24th, 2014.

All You Need to Know About Google Sitelinks and Mini Sitelinks

For some time Google has shown a number of sitelinks under some of its search results. In 2009 they expanded on this system and introduced mini sitelinks, also known as one line sitelinks.

So what are sitelinks? And what is the difference between normal sitelinks and mini sitelinks?

Sitelinks

The older form of sitelink appears to be relatively rare nowadays – they have tended to be superseded by their little brother. The traditional sitelinks appear under a few search terms, mainly well-known brands, and they show additional links within that particular domain. They will only appear on the top ranking result in a search, will show up to eight specific links on a site, and will appear in two columns (and therefore up to four rows).

sitelinksAn example of a traditional sitelink occurs if you search for “BP” in Google.com. The top ranking result for that search is, not surprisingly, BP Global, at www.bp.com . At the bottom of this search result are four sitelinks (they are in the two-column style, so are clearly traditional sitelinks, not mini sitelinks) which are Careers / BP United Kingdom / BP Australia / BP America. These are clearly delineated sections of the BP website, and different people are likely to want to go to the different links.

Another example of a search term with traditional sitelinks is “BBC”.  The first result belongs to the homepage of the BBC itself – www.bbc.co.uk. At the bottom of this result there are six sitelinks: BBC News / BBC iPlayer / Sport / Football / Weather / Radio. These, presumably, are six of the most frequently visited sections of the BBC site, and it is probable that people visiting the site only choose the one area that they are really looking for.

As can be seen from the examples I have chosen these traditional sitelinks generally only appear to show when you search for particular brands. Sitelinks only tend to be triggered when there is one specific authorititive site that is relevant for a query – in the vast majority of cases this is a brand result for a brand query. A search for “BP Oil” does not bring up traditional sitelinks, nor does “BBC Television”. Indeed a search for some very well-known brands does not bring up a result with traditional sitelinks at all.

Although Google has kept its criteria for deciding on when to display sitelinks secret, it appears that it will only show traditional sitelinks when there is a clear and obvious first result in a search, and where there are sufficient different sections of a site that people would want to see, that match what people are likely to be searching for.

Mini Sitelinks

Mini sitelinks have now become much more common than the traditional variety. As their alternative name (one-line sitelinks) suggests these are all displayed on one line, and there are usually four of them. There can even be more than one set of them for a particular search term. Quite a number of search results that do not make it to number one in the search list still qualify to have a row of mini sitelinks placed on them.

The key differences between the two types of sitelinks are:

  • Sitelinks seem to be (generally) limited to branded searches, although the mini sitelinks are not
  • Sitelinks only appear beside the number one result in a search, but mini sitelinks can appear beside lower ranked results
  • Mini sitelinks can appear beside multiple search results for a term
  • It is even possible for a particular domain to appear more than once in a search of a specified term, and there can actually be different mini sitelinks on the different appearances of that site in the results. A particular domain can even show with traditional sitelinks at the top of a search, but with mini sitelinks further down the results.

The specific search term used is very important. A particular domain may appear in the results with traditional sitelinks, mini sitelinks or no sitelinks depending on what search term has been used. In particular there will be no sitelinks when rarely used search terms are used. If you search for “Starbucks” you will receive results with the Starbucks website in the number one position, showing traditional sitelinks. A search for “Starbucks brewed coffee” will still bring up the Starbucks website as the number one result, but is will show mini sitelinks. A search for “brewed coffee” will bring up the Starbucks site as the number two result, but neither it, nor any of the sites listed, have any sitelinks.

Google keeps its sitelinks’ algorithm very much under wraps. However, there do seem to be a few common features of sites that have triggered mini sitelinks. If you aim to get these links on your own site, you might want to consider the following:

  • Is your actual site content relevant to your overall site theme? Google rewards consistency and clarity
  • Does your site have credible content that is clearly unique? Google loves quality content on a site.
  • Can Google clearly understand your site’s structure? Again, the clearer it is, the better it is for Google
  • If you did have sitelinks, is it likely that your users would click on the links?
  • Do inner/hub/category pages on your site attract links?

Of course, much of this is basic SEO. So clearly a site needs more than just good SEO. It needs to also have good traffic, and that traffic needs to be going to clearly delineated sections of your site. There may well be an unidentified threshold traffic figure that Google uses in their decision making.

cocacolaApart from ensuring that you are big enough to attract a high front page ranking for well-targeted high-traffic keywords, there are a few other techniques which appear to help sites attract Google’s attention for their mini sitelinks. You need to have a very clear navigational path through your site. This needs to tie in with a simple site structure that matches clear HTML and XML sitemaps.

Some sites, however, attract sitelinks when they do not want them. Even some of the big sites have somewhat bizarre sitelinks attached to them. If you search for Coca Cola, the first thing you notice is that despite being a big brand there are no traditional sitelinks. The mini sitelinks that appear beneath the first result (for www.coca-cola.com) are Coca-Cola / Nigeria / Angola / Djibouti … a somewhat odd choice unless you were living in Africa.

This instance supports the view that navigation is an important factor in triggering sitelinks and which sitelinks are chosen.

If you feel your sitelinks are inappropriate, or would prefer not to have them at all, you can block them using your Google Webmaster Tools. There is a chance that, assuming you already meet the criteria to have sitelinks, you might be able to suggest to Google more appropriate links (again in your Google Webmaster Tools). However, ultimately it is up to Google to decide who will receive the links and what these will be.

twitter-645x250

Matt

October 22nd, 2014.

How should your company use Twitter?

Twitter can seem like an alien world to people who have never used it; 140 characters of plain text per tweet, so how can you get anything out of it that’s actually useful?

Well of course, it’s more than just plain text, with hashtags, hyperlinks, and an increasing choice of multimedia formats.

Embedded images were among the first supported media types, Twitter’s own Vine application adds the possibility of videos (albeit only six seconds long) and Audio Cards extend the media types to include streaming audio.

So how can you capitalise on the wealth of possibilities put forward by the microblogging platform?

Outreach

Outreach is one of the key uses for Twitter, with a fundamentally public audience – more than on any other social network, it’s possible to reach Twitter users who do not actually follow you yet.

The benefit of this is simple: it maximises your potential audience and allows you to build your customer base by reaching people who might otherwise have never heard of your brand.

A potential downside is that you will need to invest quite a lot of time and energy into tweeting if your profile is going to look active and approachable to people who are unfamiliar with your company, but it should be worth it for the final payoff.

Focus your efforts by joining in with an active hashtag in your industry area, or your geographical area: good examples of both include #journorequest for PR and journalism professionals, and #NorthWestHour for firms based in the region.

Focus on developing a list of bloggers and journalists in your industry and monitor their requests and interact with them.

Customer Service

One of the best uses for Twitter is customer service – the ability to quickly respond to queries, and to acknowledge comments that wouldn’t ordinarily warrant a full reply.

It’s a platform on which people often ask the little things that can keep them interested in your brand, but which they would be unlikely to go to the trouble of contacting a Tech Support email address for.

Good examples of this include telecoms firms such as Virgin Media, whose account is almost solely used for customer support.

And within their recent tweets, a particularly fine example of how Twitter can allow you to tweak your tone of voice is a thread from a customer who opened his enquiry with: “What’s occurin’ gorgeous?”

1

Virgin Media’s response blamed his issue on their web page being “a little bit of a diva”, a great example of replying to the customer in their own terms, and of how the social aspects of Twitter can keep things light, even when people are experiencing problems.

Just be careful if you are taking this approach – some people will feel you are not taking them seriously enough, so be certain that you only adopt a light-hearted tone of voice to those customers who used one in their own enquiry.

PR

Perhaps the best example of using Twitter for positive PR occurred on the day when Google unwittingly started displaying a parody of the bakery chain Greggs’ logo in search results.

The logo appeared in Google’s summary box of facts about Greggs on related search pages, and said the bakers had been “providing s**t to scum for over 70 years”.

Greggs responded in good humour, tweeting a photograph of their donuts to Google and adding: “Fix it and they’re yours!

2

Soon after, another photograph followed, this time of the Google logo spelled out in sausage rolls, and a suggestion that Google might use it as their Doodle for the following day.

OK, so that may have been a rather audacious suggestion – but Greggs got near-universal positive feedback on the stunt, with Twitter user Claire Dauria calling it “the best pastry-based social media bants ever“.

The best example of a Twitter PR campaign that backfired is probably MasterCard’s #PricelessSurprises hashtag.

As a campaign itself – giving people the surprise of a lifetime – it was not badly conceived, but MasterCard famously tried to force journalists at the Brit Awards 2014 to use the hashtag, whether they wanted to or not.

The response was outrage from the journos and from Twitter users in general, and while the campaign definitely got the company’s brand name in the headlines, it was for the wrong reasons.

Be careful when using Twitter – or any social network – for PR, and remember that a little self-deprecation goes a long way online, whereas trying to force your brand on to people will always be met with hostility in return.

Branding

Building a brand on any platform can be a challenge, but on Twitter the expectations are a little different, and small businesses in particular can often gain a substantial following by allowing their personality to shine through – perhaps because they tend to be a little more modest than the big brands, and don’t make the same mistakes.

A good example of this is Alyssa Smith, an award-winning jeweller who has picked up several celebrity customers and is a regular tweeter.

3

With an approved charity range of Formula 1 jewellery and appearances in print and on Channel 4 News – not to mention gracing the back end of a bus as a poster girl for her university – Alyssa is a shining example of how Twitter can help transform an individual or small firm into a fully fledged brand.

She is friendly and approachable, replies regularly to all of her customers and brand advocates, and strikes just the right balance with tweets about new product launches and special offers.

Again, it’s not always easy to do this, so don’t assume that it is, but the massive public audience and easy access to celebrities and media outlets makes Twitter a great tool for the job.

A view of Facebook's logo May 10, 2012 i

Matt

October 10th, 2014.

How to Target Your Competitors Facebook Fans

You’ve heard that having a Facebook page is all the rage for business nowadays. You think that you should be part of the Facebook trend. You possibly use Facebook personally and see that it could help you gain new customers and communicate with existing ones. You even wonder whether you can use it to promote yourself to some of your competitors’ fans. So what should you do?

Setting up Your Own Page

Obviously before you can even think about using it to attract customers, new or those of your competitors, you need to build up a professional, attractive Facebook page yourself.

It is a relatively easy job to set up a Facebook business page, but there are a few clear steps that you need to follow.

Begin by clicking on the downwards facing triangle towards the right of the blue bar across the top of any Facebook screen. A list of options comes up; choose “Create Page”. Select the most appropriate of the following options:

  • Local business or place
  • Artist, band or public figure
  • Company, organisation or institution
  • Entertainment
  • Brand or product
  • Cause or community

facebook-cover-photo-dimensionsFill in any relevant information you are asked for. Note that it is not possible to change your category without having to create a completely new page, so think carefully before you choose it. If there is any doubt at all, this might be a good time to look at your competitors’ pages. How have they classified their pages?

Fill in all the basic information and upload your main profile image (sized 180 x 180). As this is the image that appears beside all of your posts it should ideally be your logo. Also, think carefully about how you describe yourself in the About Me field. This is what will appear on the front page, and is what any casual visitor will see about you. Make it count. Again, look at your main competitor’s description, and try and produce something better than what they have written.

The next section looks at your Admin Panel, which will be an area you will work from regularly. One job to do here is to write an expanded About Me section for the fan who is interested enough to click on the shortened version on your front page.

It is time to check your opposition again. Generally, what is the first thing you will notice when you go to their site?  It will probably be the cover photo that they drape across the upper section of their front page. You need to ensure that yours is equally as striking, or preferably more so. Remember that the measurement is 815 x 315 – get this right, otherwise you will be disappointed by the results.

Content

The absolute key to your business Facebook page is to have regular engaging content. You need to ensure that somebody is given the task of regularly updating the page, and keeping conversations going. You can easily set up rights for different staff members in the Administration Pane.

You can create tabs with content. Again check how your opposition use their tabs. You want your visitors to have a good user experience, so it is often best to restrict yourself to the four tabs that remain visible without scrolling. If you were a British firm in the fast food industry, you might notice that the McDonald’s U.K. site uses far more than the four basic tabs, and have them listed in a somewhat eclectic order. The four main tabs, in order, are Timeline / About / Photos / Students. These are followed by More, which if you click on brings up McDonald’s Breakfast / House Rules / Likes / Locations / Videos / Search Jobs / Visit Us / McNuggets Saucy Challenge.  Burger King, on the other hand, chooses to only have three items under their More tab, obviously relying on their customers navigating to the more visible tabs.

Make certain that you post regularly. Analyse what your readers seem to like and engage with. Do they like images? Do they like statistics? Do they click on particular types of links? You can find this information out by clicking on “View Insights” in your Admin Panel. From there you can monitor reach, engagement etc., and determine what works and what does not.

If you have any particularly important posts, maybe they are about a particular promotion or some key item of news about your business, you can make these posts stand out by clicking on the star at the top right of any post. This highlights the post horizontally across the entire page.

Targeting Your Competitors

So specifically, what can we do to target our competitors? There are a number of strategies, although many of these have had to change quite recently as facebook-business-newFacebook has altered its terms and conditions, limiting the activities that it considers acceptable within its rules. They have cracked down hard on tracking add-ons recently, and it is now quite difficult to get detailed information about pages that are not your own.

Firstly you should analyse your competitor’s internet strengths and weaknesses. You can get basic statistics about a domain’s popularity on Facebook by entering the following url in your browser:

http://api.facebook.com/restserver.php?method=links.getStats&urls=http://www.insertwebsiteaddresshere.com/.

e.g. if you want to know statistics relating to McDonalds, you could enter:

http://api.facebook.com/restserver.php?method=links.getStats&urls=http://www.mcdonalds.com/

This will bring up an XML file that will include the number of Facebook likes, shares and comments, relating to the particular domain. So, in the McDonalds.com example there are currently 2913 likes, 6800 shares and 4448 comments, but their McDonalds.co.uk site has only 17 likes, 102 shares and 2 comments.

You can find some more information by using http://graph.facebook.com/facebookname,

e.g. for McDonalds:

http://graph.facebook.com/mcdonalds

Some useful information you can learn here is their site ID number (which can be substituted for their name in the address bar), the category they have chosen for their website (have you chosen the same category?), their Facebook likes (a huge 32153757 in the case of mcdonalds.com), their username and a number of other statistics.

You can find some interesting information by going to https://www.facebook.com/competitorsname/likes, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/McDonaldsUK/likes tells you the number of likes on a day-by-day basis. It also tells you that McDonalds UK’s most engaged fans are Londoners aged from 18-24.

The next area to look at is what your competitors’ fans are writing on their Facebook wall. Go to their Timeline page, and scroll down the left sidebar until you come to the Posts to Page section. Click on that. You will now have a page of the most recent posts made by the visitors to their site.

Read these comments. What do their fans like about them? What can you do to emulate the things that they are doing successfully?

Just as importantly, what are these people complaining about? On the day I looked at the McDonalds UK page, there were fans complaining that most of the vouchers they were given were years out of date. Immediately you know of something to watch out for yourself. There were also many other complaints about poor service and even dishonesty by a particular branch. While there is obviously not any proven veracity as to the truth of some of the complaints, it is still a good guide as to public feelings about your competitor’s performance.

You can learn a lot from how your competitors respond to the complaints, either from the good techniques they use or the bad ones. Notably, the McDonalds technique was to not respond at all.

You can learn more information about your competitors’ Facebook pages (as well as interesting and useful statistics about your own page) by subscribing to Fanpage Karma. There is a 14 day free subscription option if you only want to use it once to get basic information. It can tell you what kind of posts attract fans and encourage engagement, e.g. do the fans react best to pictures, links, videos or offers etc. In the case of McDonalds you discover that they only post pictures. Fanpage Karma also shows you statistics about what days result in the best interactions. Clearly the most successful McDonalds posts are made on Fridays. This does suggest that if McDonalds was your competitor, you should be making Friday posts.

You can use the History and Benchmarking tab within Facebook Karma to see what kinds of posts have done well for your competitor. Maybe you could benefit from producing more posts like those with high engagement. While you are on that page you can see who the top influencers are, and you can look to see why they have been successful. At the time of writing the most successful food and beverages page is actually the Starbucks one. Make certain to record these successful competitors’ ID numbers, which you can use when targeting your Facebook advertising.

Targeting Your Facebook Advertising

One way that you can really target your competitors is by targeting your advertising towards the people who like your competitors’ pages. You can even design ads that focus on the problems that you have seen mentioned on your competitors’ pages. For example, a UK fast food restaurant, could make a point of advertising how they do not hand out dated vouchers.

Facebook_News_Feed_adWhen you set up your Facebook ad it is recommended that you use the Power Editor option. This gives you a number of choices to help you specifically target your ads. If you click on Ads, then Audience and scroll down you will find a section on Demographics. Within that you will find a section on Internet Behaviours and Categories. To target your competitors’ pages, search for them by name in the Interests section. So, for example our fast food restaurant would target their ads at people who list McDonalds as their interest. While you are at it, you may find that it might be a good idea to choose to target a Lookalike Audience for your existing fan base in the Audiences section.

If your competitor is too small to appear in the Interests field, you can at least target the same demographic. As McDonalds UK targets 18-24 year-old Londoners our fast food restaurant could also target the same group.

It is no longer easy to get specific lists of your competitors’ supporters. Facebook have made it clear that you breach their conditions if you try. There used to be quite a few applications that would strip out for you the I.D. codes of the people visiting your competitor’s Facebook pages. There is no longer an easy way to do this. However if you do your homework and follow the techniques I have outlined you should be able to focus on your competitors’ fans with your targeted advertising dollars and promotion, combined of course with high quality appropriate content on your own page.

GoogleTrusted-img

Matt

October 1st, 2014.

Google Trusted Stores Now Open In The UK

In 2012, Google launched its Trusted Stores program in the USA. Now, the search engine has opened the program to UK retailers, aimed at creating a better shopping experience for both consumers and eCommerce websites.

What is Google Trusted Stores?

Google Trusted Stores is a program that is beneficial to both consumers and eCommerce sites. With the Google Trusted Stores program, retailers that meet certain criteria get a Trusted Stores badge, which displays on their site, and on paid search engine results. This badge allows stores to show they offer fantastic customer service and consistent, on-time deliveries.

gts

 

Benefits to Consumers

The Trusted Stores Program benefits consumers in a number of ways. As online stores have to meet strict criteria to join the program, consumers are able to shop with more confidence. Online, there are thousands of stores for consumers to choose from, and often, consumers don’t know which ones are going to provide them with the best shopping experience.

When a consumer sees the trusted stores symbol on a store, it differentiates that site from others. It allows shoppers to more easily identify stores that offer a high quality shopping experience. Merchants with the badge will also offer free purchase protection from Google.

Benefits to Businesses

For retailers, the program can be highly beneficial. It provides merchants with the chance to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The Trusted Stores badge immediately makes a store stand out.

For example, a person searching for a floor lamp on Google will see an abundance of stores. However, if they see one store is displaying a badge, they are most likely to visit that particular store.  This increased level of visibility will attract more customers, and therefore, increase sales and conversion rates.

Most importantly, however, the objective data offered to consumers through the program can drastically increase a store’s customer base. When a consumer places an order with a site, they want to know that it offers a good shopping experience. The Trusted Stores Badge provides consumers with more objective information on a store’s quality level.

When a consumer hovers their mouse over the badge, they will see a report card. This card offers information on a store’s customer services and shipping reliability. Also, it will display overall data on the store, such as returns, delivery times, email response times and the overall shopping experience. This data is collected through an independent shopping evaluation company called StellaService. With this symbol, the consumer is given an objective review of the site, and will be more likely to purchase with that store.

Applying: Who should Apply and How to Apply

Stores can apply to the Google Trusted Stores program, only if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • Process a Certain Number of Orders: Your site must consistently process at least two- hundred orders, over twenty-eight days to be eligible.
  • Use Shipping Tracking Numbers: On the majority of the orders your site ships, you must use shipment tracking numbers. This is so Google is able to see how quickly your shipments were delivered, and how many were delivered.
  • Cannot Sell Restricted Items: If your website sells any restricted items, such as tobacco, weapons, and certain pharmaceuticals, it won’t be eligible for the Google Trusted Stores Program
  • Must Offer Reasons for CancellationsIf your site becomes part of the Trusted Stores program, it must provide reasons for cancellations. When an order status changes to cancelled, you will be taken to a pop-up screen. On this screen, you will have to state the reason for the cancellation. In order to keep your Google cancellation feed up to date, you have to enter this data.
  • Deal with Customer Escalations Promptly: If a customer is not happy with one of your employees, and wants to talk to someone in a higher position, this issue must be resolved within one working day.
  • Use a Custom Domain and Have an SSL Certificate: Your website must have its own custom domain, and have an SSL certificate to participate in the Google Trusted Stores program.

Launching in the UK, the Google Trusted Stores program is sure to have a big impact on eCommerce and paid search, and  may helpincrease conversion rates for many stores.

PPC-pie-graph

Corina

September 16th, 2014.

Starting up a PPC campaign: Keywords & Text Ads (The old ball and chain)

 

The reason behind writing this post is simple. Although AdWords is a very performant and user friendly platform a new user might get caught in a web of settings and technical procedures – the post you are about to read intends to make things easier to understand.

Keywords & Text Ads 

No matter how newly accustomed you are to the AdWords platform you must have heard about the famous Quality Score and about the advertisers’ task to make it bigger and bigger.

By now you must now that the bigger the Quality Score is, the better your campaigns will convert and the higher your ROI will be. So let me clarify the rules a bit.

Keywords

Customers search on Google for different things and advertisers try to target these searches by using keywords. A very important aspect of the keywords is that they have to match the clients’ search terms.

When you are starting a keyword list you should try to enclose all the search queries your clients might use. You should also add the main categories of your business or of the services you provide. Also, break your keywords into related themes – it will make tracking their performance much easier. Remember – your campaigns should look neat and organised!

P. S. If you are running out of ideas when adding new keywords you can use the Keyword Planner to get that much needed inspiration!

Text Ads

The Text ads are those ads that inform the client about your business. You want them catchy and interesting? If yes, just try to apply these simple suggestions:

  • Inform your clients about that feature that makes you better than your competitors. Doesn’t matter if its “discreet delivery” or “lowest price guaranteed” what matters is that your “unique” services should be advertised.
  • Include the promotions and the prices – let the clients know that your great offers are time-limited.
  • The Call-to-Action should be loud & clear. Invite your clients to “order” or “sign up”.
  • Remember those keywords we were speaking earlier? Add some of those in your text ads!
  • Landing pages should match your keywords and your text ads and present exactly the services you are advertising.
  • Location extensions & Call Extensions & Callouts are AdWords’ way of helping you become more visible. Say “Thank you, AdWords!” and make them really work to your advantage.

And remember the quality and the relevance of the keywords and of the text ads are going to have an impact on your CPC so try to make them relevant to your business!

 

https

Rob

September 3rd, 2014.

How should you respond to Google’s announcement that Site Security is part of the ranking algorithm?

We’re always telling our clients that following Google’s best practice is the best strategy to ensure longer-term success in the search results.

So it’s no surprise that every small announcement of changes to their algorithm now gets picked up upon quickly and generates a rush to ‘comply’ regardless of the detail.

Recent announcements about site speed and site security have prompted clients to immediately worry about how their sites will fare, and in most cases these worries are simply unfounded.

Site speed

In our opinion site speed is really important for the user. Whilst Google will also look at this metric it is way down its list on important factors affecting page/site rankings.  Matt Cutts himself even stated that these changes would affect less than 1% of all queries,

You’ll notice that the current implementation mentions that fewer than 1% of search queries will change as a result of incorporating site speed into our ranking. That means that even fewer search results are affected, since the average search query is returning 10 or so search results on each page. So please don’t worry that the effect of this change will be huge. In fact, I believe the official blog post mentioned that “We launched this change a few weeks back after rigorous testing.” The fact that not too many people noticed the change is another reason not to stress out disproportionately over this change.

Site owners seem happy to panic about site speed and security before addressing more fundamental (and infinitely more important) aspects such as page mark-up, site structure and hierarchy, and on-site copy.

It goes without saying that a fast site will improve usabiltiy and help conversions and this is as good or better reason for addressing it than for a Google announcement.

HTTPS

Recently Google announced that they will treat sites served with https better then sites that aren’t using a secure certificate.

https (1)This means that you would need to buy a secure digital certificate.  (Apparently google is part owner of a large SSL company, so this might explain things).

As with site speed metrics, this is way down on Google’s list of priorities in the ranking algorithm, and we do not consider that it is a particular band wagon to be jumping on with the aim of improving search results. Google themselves admit that

“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

Google certainly has history of implementing changes which website owners feel obliged to comply with, only to backtrack on them later.

So our advice is to implement HTTPs on your site only if you feel it is required for other reasons than just search (eg customer confidence), we have outlined the possible pros and cons for you below,

Pros

  • Your site is protected by an additional SSL layer
  • A minimal algorithmic gain in rankings, implementation is certainly unlikely to result in any visible rankings changes
  • An increase in trust from site visitors, especially important on sites offering more sensitive data or transactions

Cons

  • The initial connection to your site may be slower, especially if you have to implement 301 redirects from non https pages
  • Cost of an annual SSL (if you don’t already have one)
  • In some cases you may lose referral data
  • You’ll need to ensure all https pages are correctly 301 redirected to the newer https versions
  • Need to update your internal link structure if you’re using relative URLs for internal links
  • You may find that many products don’t support the use of https

« Older Posts

Recent Posts »

Our work »

What we do »

Who we work with »

Got Questions? Lets Talk »