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On the subject of Online Marketing

fawltytowers

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Fawlty Towers and Trolls SEO strategy – have you got the balls?

 

We all know that if a customer is unhappy that they are 10 times more likely to complain than if they are happy. Well poor service could be a fantastic opportunity to improve your SEO.

Let’s say you run a restaurant.  Consider a situation where for a day you deliberately gave all your clients appalling customer service – picture a day at Fawlty Towers.  In the past your clients would have just grumbled and not come back, nowadays they’ll be straight online on Facebook, twitter, mumsnet, forums, tripadvisor, restaurant review sites etc. and anywhere else to vent their spleen and to take revenge on your appalling rudeness.

They’ll be so agitated that they’ll post a link back to your site just so that your readers are in no doubt as to where you are and so that they can avoid you.

What a great result!   Fantastic.  Go out into the streets and rejoice.   Think of all those juicy, natural, organic links pointing back to your site. Clever though the poor old Google bot is it cannot determine sentiment very well (or may not even want to) and will treat those links as a good reason to boost your site’s rankings.

This is obviously a very dangerous tactic and not one to be approached lightly but you do see instances of it happening if not deliberately then definitely inadvertently.

Ryan Air are exemplars of deliberate bad PR to attract venom and spite from their clients, who keep coming back, and who presumably keep posting links to their site.

Mothercare were in the spot light last month for its appalling customer service, this was all over Mumsnet for days and other forums just clicking up the inbound links.  What a gift!

Also see here for a case study from american company My Decor Eyes whose poor customer service has catapulted them  up Googles Rankings. Here is an excerpt with a comment from the owner:

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

 

For the ultimate SEO buzz and getting attention online why not try Troll SEO.

It’s dangerous but could be fun

 credit

Indeed it is not all about links on the Internet it’s all about getting attention and this is where Trolls come in.

Online a Troll is someone who deliberately stirs up forum discussion by posting extreme, controversial, rude, occasionally funny, comments just to annoy and cajole other readers.  He is the firestarter, the poker of ants nests.

Get it right and and everyone gets on their high horse and attacks the troll, the number of contributors increases, attention and eyeballs gather and hey presto suddenly everyone’s on your site.

This is maybe how we know about Liam Stacey who used twitter to launch a stream of racist abuse against footballer Fabrice Muamba as he fought for his life.  Is he really such a racist?  Maybe, maybe not but now we all know who he is and he’s got our attention.

Why did I find myself reading Louise Mensch’s (Tory MP) Twitter the other day?  Well she had decided to promote all the sexist abuse she gets on Twitter in her favourites.  Too disgusting to broadcast on the radio I had to see it for myself when I heard about it!  As did thousands of others neatly promoting her profile, her number of followers etc.

But who were these people posting all this sexist abuse?  If you were to meet them face to face would they be so bold?  I suspect not, but online they are Trolls, operating unseen, below the fold of the page, viley expurgating their venom and inadvertently promoting their hosts’ blogs and websites.  Everyone should have a pet Troll.

 

 

Adam Adam

October 27th, 2011.

Google AdWords: Updated Focus on Quality Score

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.

Matt

October 24th, 2011.

The Importance Of The Long Tail – 16% Of Searches Have NEVER been Typed-In Before

Google claim that 16% of more than a billion queries entered every day have never been seen before may sound hard to believe, but perhaps a closer look at how people search online is warranted first.  450 billion new, unique queries have been handled by Google since 2003. All of this begs the question what are users doing that results in such a large number of new and unique queries each day?

Credit SeoMoz

Firstly we need to look at how people actually use search engines. In their early experiences with search portals users tend to put in short, generic terms into the search engine. As users become more skilled in searching for the items or information that they want, their search terms become more specific and descriptive.
Instead of using short, generic keywords when searching for a pair of shoes for instance, the user might be inclined to be more descriptive of the type of shoes they are looking for using far more adjectives, e.g. light brown, leather, high heeled ladies court shoes, in the hope that it would be more specific to get exactly what they want.

It is also worth considering the search buying cycle as this especially impacts upon conversions.

Firstly think about how you yourself might behave online when you’re researching buying a product.

Taking a typical online purchase for something like a television. You might start with a search query for a very general phrase like TV or television. You’ll see that there are several irrelevant results for our purpose such as the BBC and ITV results, but using the informational properties such as Wikipedia, or the Google shopping results you may then make a decision that you’re looking for a plasma TV rather than an LCD TV.

Of course you may also decide to visit one of the commercial websites listed for these queries, or buy from the PPC listings, but it’s more likely you’ll want to research a bit more first.

Next you’ll probably search for Plasma TV, this is looking a bit more promising, there are several relevant shopping results some reviews websites and a few more relevant commercial sites appearing. After reading a few of the sites you decide that the Panasonic 50PZ800B looks fairly impressive and you want to find out a bit more about it.

Of course you search for it, possibly adding terms like review, test or comparison to bring up the more informational resources.

It’s about now that you feel you’re happy with your choice, you have compared it against other makes and models, you’re happy that it’s what you’re looking for and you want to go ahead and purchase.

To find online shops selling that specific model you may use buying trigger search terms such as buy or cheap, or possibly even adding geographic search terms such as London or UK.

As a site owner you need to be prepared to be targeting as many of these longer tail phrases as you can with your main site, no easy task when you don’t even know what they are!

Try to develop good (great) content on your site, category and product pages warrant special attention for this. Getting this right will result in high levels of targeted, focused, converting visitors.

 

Adam Adam

October 20th, 2011.

Google Trusted Stores

Google trusted storesTrusted Stores is an ecommerce certification program that Google launched early in October. The idea behind the program is that it will give people more assurance in buying from online retailers. At the moment the program is still in beta those ecommerce stores that attain Google qualification will be able to add a badge to their site, proclaiming them a Google trusted store. The program is backed, more interestingly, with a consumer purchase protection package worth $1,000.

Those retailers interested in applying to become a trusted store will need to furnish Google with certain consumer information as the company is of the opinion that retailer’s data is more trustworthy than customer surveys. In order to qualify for the Trusted Stores status internet retailers will need to demonstrate good customer service and a record of shipping goods on time. In terms of customer service retailers must have evidence of resolving any customer issues and disputes in a timely manner.

When customers move their mouse over the Trusted Stores badge, they will see the store’s customer service and shipping grades. Unlike the Google Checkout the company states, there is no connection between the new program and Google Adwords. Google further reiterated that the program is still in its early stages and too soon to speculate on how the program might be enhanced and expanded.

With respect to the purchase protection package mentioned earlier, it appears to work in a similar way to credit card companies that extend manufacturer’s purchase warranties. Google however, does not offer guarantees rather the $1,000 is potentially money back where retailers fail to resolve problems. The customer can only benefit from this package if they have chosen the free purchase protection option. The consumer should contact the retailer first where there is a problem, if this is not resolved, then the customer can call on Google to deal with it, or be able to claim money back. The fact is that Google is capable of getting retailers to find quick problem resolutions.

While Google have stated that their motive for introducing the program was to increase buyer confidence in online retailers, some may suspect the company of having hidden motives. Notions of a future tie in with Checkout or Adwords are at the moment, pure speculation. As yet it’s unclear precisely what data Google will be capturing, but if customers choose the personal protection, the retailer is more likely to have a record of the transactions.

Adam Adam

October 20th, 2011.

Review Sites- How to Deal with Negative Comments

When it comes to setting up and establishing a local business, there are a number of milestones. Getting your business letterhead, a merchant bank account and customers who aren’t family members, are just some of the hurdles that spring to mind. As soon as your business has grown sufficiently to warrant a mention on Google Places or Yelp, then you start to get customers’ versions or reviews of their experiences. The comments on your Yelp page should make you smile due to your conviction that you’ve provided people with excellent service.

The initial glow of customer reviews may not last, while it’s great to read the rave reviews about your business, it’s likely that you’ll see some that are bad, and possibly even a fiction of the writer’s imagination. The following should give you an inkling of the experiences of review sites that have befallen business consulting clients of mine.

  • Customer is unhappy not to receive a refund when they have eaten their meal at an eating establishment, and to further his argument, adds other fictional complaints.
  • Competitors who believe that bad mouthing someone else’s business is a valid marketing strategy.
  •  A negative review that was actually about a business other than yours

We could go on, but you get the picture. To some extent the kind of reviews you get will vary depending on what type of business you’re in and where it’s located. In some cities bar owners try to get along by arranging to have special nights or offers at different times, while in others the thing is to try and beat your competitors to the floor. No matter what your experience, you will need to find means of dealing with reviews of your business, and below are a few tips.

 

1. Even if a Customer Declares War, They are not Your Enemy

When there is a customer dispute, especially in the current economic crisis, and following reports of labor abuses, the business owner is always in the wrong.

Don’t respond to negative reviews and even downright lies with more of the same, if you do, you will harm your business even further. Take an approach that assumes the customer is genuinely mistaken, and maintain a professional manner.

 

2. Offer to Find a Solution to the Problem

If you want to safeguard your reputation, don’t admit to any wrongdoing, but offer to help the customer with their problem. If you’ve had a false detrimental review, try responding with something like the following (depending on what business you’re in)

Hi Paul, sorry to hear you thought we overcharged for your Pizza. We do our best to ensure that customers get exactly the toppings they order and all the prices are listed on our menu. We’re actually on the list good value for money pizza parlours. Please contact me, either by coming into the pizza parlour or giving me a call on the above number to see whether we can resolve this situation. Look forward to hearing from you, Steve.

If you already know the customer, it’s probably easy to get hold of them, sort out the problem and you may even persuade them to take the review down. You need to be careful when you contact a customer directly as it requires more tact than you might need on a review site, so take a sympathetic approach to the issue.

 

3. Be Ready to Accept that There Might be a Real Problem

While I’m not suggesting that the customer is right, if there is even a hint that the complaint is legitimate, then you still have to resolve the situation, and you need to ensure that the same thing never happens with another customer. You may find that your staff need retraining or you might even have to let a person go. Managing and training staff is extremely important, especially when they are in constant contact with customers and only earning minimum wage.

Perhaps your ingredients are not as good as you thought and you either need to improve them, change the supplier, or lower the price you charge. Sometimes it is possible to contact the review site and have a review removed, especially if the reviewer seems to be making a personal attack on you alone. If you have lots of positive reviews than the impact of one bad one should be minimal, ask all your satisfied customers to leave reviews as this will further boost your credibility against the occasional bad one.

 

Martina Martina

July 25th, 2011.

How to create the perfect return-customer!

If you take a look at what you eat, where you shop or even what you wear, you’ll discover that the most effective brands and businesses in your life are successful because of their ability to keep you trapped in their rotating doors. You’ll buy that same beverage maybe twice a week, and go to that same supermarket at the end of each month- all because you’ve convinced yourself you like the design on the plastic bags, and the staff are friendly. Actually, there’s more to it and I’m about to tell you exactly what that is…

Brand evolution…

You frequent a brand because it grows with you and becomes something that understands you. For example, after McDonalds understood the issue the population began to have with societal obesity, they reduced portion size (although I blame inflation) and boosted the nutritional value of the food through the choice of ingredients used. This became acceptable to parents, who then were more inclined eat there with their families.

An example of an industry that arguably did not readily embrace evolution and suffered greatly as a result, is the music industry. After the birth of the digital age of music, illegal downloading and iTunes, the archaic business model of selling CD’s showed a huge decline in sales. Failing to catch on quickly enough meant that some artists suffered (and the customary private jet was downsized to a regular limousine).

Whatever your line of business, you need to understand the importance of evolving with the customer, if you sell tube-socks and make a great profit in winter, introducing a pop-sock range for the warmer months would mean that you have something to offer customers all year round. Alternatively, if your business is to provide SEO services (and you are doing this well) – then perhaps you could suggest Pay Per Click (PPC) services too.

Integrating, and actually wanting customers’ opinions…

When listening to a friend or colleague talk about something they care about, you always feel that little bit of gratification when they ask you your view on the subject and genuinely care about your answer. Imagine this never happened – if people talked at you, telling you their views and never asking about yours…you would get tired of listening to them, and they would eventually emigrate to a world of bias where only their opinion matters.

Feedback is a wonderful thing, and to guarantee any kind of success you need to be engaging the people whom that success relies upon. There are many ways this can be done such as market research, comments sections and incentives.

Personally, I dislike the emails I receive asking me to ‘spend 2 minutes’ of my time filling out a feedback form, but interestingly, when shopping online – the reviews section about the product I am interested in, is the first place I look before pressing the ‘checkout’ button. If you struggle to get feedback, try using incentives in exchange for it, offering a discount or a token for free software after a few important questions are answered, is a ‘quid-pro-quo’ way to dig out helpful information that could help you better your business.

Offering alternatives…

Nestle’s chocolaty awesomeness is far from limited. Nestle offer a range of sweets and treats making them one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world. If Nestle was limited to just one chocolate bar, sure that bar of chocolate would taste good to those that enjoy it, but after years of just a milk chocolate bar, people would stray – they’d try praline, white chocolate, plain chocolate – and so on. If Nestle weren’t the ones to provide these different types, they’d be losing out on possible revenue and brand awareness.

The power of a brand comes from its ability to churn out good ideas and give people choice. This isn’t limited to types of product or service offered, your business alternatives should extend to forms of payment, methods of contact and more. Yes this is 2011, but believe it or not, some people prefer to send a postal-order or a cheque rather than use their credit or debit card online. Similarly, some people like to mail a letter to you rather than send you an email – and some people like to call you on the phone, instead of using Skype.

Being savvy is important, but it is important to remember that you could alienate a whole market simply by not catering for it. If you sell online, offer WorldPay, PayPal and the ability to pay by card – by doing so, shows customer consideration which is exactly what you need to do!

Avoiding over-saturation…

An unexpected text message from an old friend, is often the perfect segue for reconnecting, because sometimes it’s the subtleties in life that we enjoy the most. However ‘broadcast-message’ after Facebook invite from that annoying person you’d probably cross the street to avoid, will never get the attention they want. This is because there is an important difference between the two – in the first example, you feel as though that person put thought and care into the message and in the second, you feel undervalued, someone just making up the numbers.

Your business works the exact same way, its quality over quantity. Flooding prospective customers with emails about what their missing might cause them to report you as spam, and maybe even tell others to do the same. However, providing them with worthwhile information they may not already have gathered, might prompt them to subscribe to your blog, or enquire about your business.

Acknowledging loyalty…

Many businesses have cottoned onto the positive effects of personalisation, sending out post with only your first name as the title as if they’re your buddy, addressing you with “hi” rather than the traditional “Dear” and sending out seasonal gifts and confectionary. Even if it’s slightly corny and obviously not based on some fantastic rapport you have with them, they do it in hopes that you’ll feel appreciated causing them to stand out.

Even if a thousand others receive the exact same gift, unlike the Facebook invite example above and more like the Google+ invite in its beta stages – it makes you feel all special.  Using this method is an added charm, especially if the customer is new to you; it works almost as a reminder to them of their importance to you. Consistent use of this technique might eventually convince that customer that you are important to them, because you obviously ‘care’ about them enough to remember them personally.

Customers will keep coming back if they are fully catered to. Whilst I am not suggesting that if you are not doing all of the above perfectly, you will fail – including these tips into your already operating mode of business, will help boost ROI and customer satisfaction. A ‘win-win’ outcome! :-)

Martina Martina

July 8th, 2011.

5 reasons to blame yourself for a bad SEO experience…

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.

SEO :
This team will mainly be in charge of making sure that SEO is being carried out for all your online needs
Online Marketing:

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.
Web Developers:

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! ;-)

 

Adam Adam

March 11th, 2011.

Is this the future of linkbait?

I’ve just come across The Print Effect by Cartridge Save. If you haven’t already seen it go take a look (then come right back… I’ll wait).

What is it? It’s a Twitter app that creates an infographic-like page for each Twitter user you enter. There have been similar things in the past, and this particular one I think is genius:

Barrack Obama twitter timeline

Why is this one a little different to the others? It appears the output content changes for different users (take a look at mine and Matt’s- I’ve got badgers, Matt has cows!)

 

Why Do I Think This is Such a Cool Idea? (Aside from the cows, obviously)…

Linkbait is getting harder and harder- people are getting bored with infographics and the sharing element to infographics is somewhat limited (I’ll happily forward on and link to good content but I’d do it even more if it’s about me, the selfish human that I am). This takes on a new twist- linkbait via dynamic infographics!

What I like about this is it’s a little different for every user, and people want to share (and link to) interesting things that are about themselves!

As an SEO I would’ve implemented a different URL structure to prevent creating hundreds of pages for each user, however judging by the shares this has already received I’d be surprised if it doesn’t pick up a decent amount of links too.

Perhaps it’s time to get a web developer involved as well as the designer or content writer when crafting your next linkbait campaign?

Martina Martina

March 10th, 2011.

A few things companies should know about their website… ‘meta-speak’

The Meta Description Tag

The Meta-description tag is a excerpt of HTML code that belongs inside the ‘ <meta name=”Description” content=” description goes here /> section of a web page.

This tag can definitely come in handy in your overall SEO campaign but the keywords and phrases you use in your Meta description tag actually have no effect on your page’s ranking in search engine results.

What does this mean?

Well you might have thought that these tags help your pages rank highly for the words you use within them, or spruce up the description a little bit in terms of what is shown in the search engines when they are typed – well if you did – you were wrong. In actual fact, similar to the Meta keywords tag, the information you place in this tag really isn’t given any weight in Google’s ranking algorithms.

In other words, whether or not you use your most important keywords in your Meta description tag, it simply won’t affect the position of your page in the results. So essentially, you could leave a description out altogether!

It almost sounds like you don’t need these tags at all, should you bother with them then?

Well, if you’re already happy with the excerpts of text that the search engines post from your page in any given search query, then there’s no reason to have a Meta description tag on your page(s). You might want to remember though, that the excerpt the engines use varies depending on what the searcher types into the engine.

Okay, so…?

In Google, if you search for a site by URL, the excerpts you see in the lists results returned are the first instance of text on that page. However on some pages an ‘image-alt’ tag that looks like this: <img> (the code that embeds an image in an HTML page), is the first instance of words on a page. In these cases, that is what would show up as part of the “excerpt” for your search.

For the most part the people searching with URLs are site owners checking whether or not their pages are indexed. So generally, you don’t need to worry about this.

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Okay so a normal search wouldn’t usually involve a full URL. You would probably put in 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) keywords describing what it is you were looking for (known as a long-tail keyword) – In this example let’s say you searched for “pink ballet shoes” – however if none of these keywords are used in the Meta description tags on any site that is returned in the search results or/and they aren’t on the landing page as a complete phrase in that order, then Google will simply gather a list of pages that contain any of the words ‘pink + ballet + shoes’ near each other and it will use any words surrounding these ones as the excerpts for those pages.

If “pink ballet shoes” were a product you were selling, then a great idea would be to adjust the page to include these words in the Meta description tags and also somewhere in the body of text on your page(s). Remember however, this isn’t in attempt to rank any higher but would simply be a way to make your site more search friendly when the user types these keywords into a search engine.

The Meta Title Tag

Completely unlike the description tag, the title tag will is and always will be one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings.

Put simply – ensuring you have strong title tags on each of your pages can generate significant differences to your rankings. This is because the words in the title tag are what appear in the links on the results pages returned after a query is put in (the bold, blue underlined text on Google when you put in a query and press ‘enter’) – therefore these are this is your first chance to impress the user.
They can’t be THAT important, can they?

Yes they can! Title tags are one of the main elements given algorithmic weight by search engines – in fact, if not more so, they are equally as important as the visible text highlighting your pages.
So what information should go in the title tag?

The name of your business should be the main thing here. Whatever else you add is entirely up to you, this can range from taglines, to descriptions of what your business does, to location details (so using the example from before you might add something like “Smiths’ Ballet Retailers – Middlesbrough”).

So the main thing was…?

This is the first thing users will see! Don’t miss out on a huge opportunity by not including the name of your business here.

To Surmise…

  • Meta keyword tags/description tags are not related to how you are ranked in a search engine, but it would be silly to leave them out.
  • The Meta description tag summarises what’s on your page and the keyword tag supplies a summary list of the important words on your page. Both types of tag make the page more search engine friendly.

Good luck!

Matt

February 24th, 2011.

How does a paywall change your link acquisition rate?

The current trend of Newspaper sites to publish their content behind paywalls seems to be gathering speed. The recent Google announcement of its OnePass payment system can only increase the process by making payment technology available to a wider audience.

I thought it would be interesting to look to see how the move to paywalls has affected the news sites backlink acquisition rates.

So far the main newspapers that have added Paywalls have been,

  • The Financial Times – 2002
  • Moneyweek – 2005
  • The Times and The Sunday Times – April 2010
  • The News Of The World – November 2010
  • The Telegraph is set to add a paywall in September 2011

Taking the two most recent examples of The Time and The News Of The World, and using the excellent Majestic SEO graph functionality we are able to see changes on their backlink acquisition rates.

We can see clearly from the graph above that following the addition of the paywall in November 2010 over the next two months inbound links to The News Of The World fell by more than 50%


Similar, but less dramatic results for The Times. This is slightly more confusing as the paywall coincided with a domain change from timesonline.co.uk to thetimes.co.uk. We can see clearly that link gains to the old URL start to decline without the new domain ever really gaining links as a comparative rate.

Where I see some really interesting data is in the rate of acquisition for competitors sites who chose not to implement a paywall. A close online and offline competitor to both The Times and NOTW is The Daily Mail.

Their acquisition rate starts to climb sharply from the date The Times paywall goes live, and their highest ever month coincides with the NOTW adding their paywall. It’ll be interesting to see if the following two low months, December and January are a result of incomplete link data or some other trend.

It’s an interesting theory to see of the final few content producers within a market start to perform far better in terms of finance and popularity than those that eventually choose to follow the paywall route.

Martina Martina

February 23rd, 2011.

Why it is now impossible to rank as #1 in search engines…

The evolution of the Internet shows the constant change in the way search engines fetch you the information you want when you put in a query. Gone are the days, when a uniform set of results would pop up irrespective of who you are, where, when and how you searched a particular term.

One such example was just 2 years ago in the huge viral campaign for the blockbuster movie ‘2012’. The online marketing behind this movie was so clever that consumers were told to “just search 2012” in a search engine, as part of the teaser. Indeed if they did, a quick search in Google would return about 1, 000 websites and over 150 books based on the idea that 2012 marked – the end. Scary!

Localised and Personalised results.

Two years later, things have changed. With Google collecting just about every smidgen of information available to them from the online user, they have found away to return results that are ultra personalised all depending on the users’ settings. This is great in terms of relevance. For example, a Londoner living in Chelsea putting in a search for “local plumbers” or even just “plumbers” would be in for a treat. Google would collect her I.P. address which would determine roughly which area the search has come from, her domain name, (which in this case would be ‘.co.uk’), and even the similar searches that have been carried out in the past, to finally come up with some options that would best relate to that user.

This seems great for the person wanting a local plumber. But is it great? The answer is yes…and no – and here’s why:

  • It causes some businesses or products to not be shown, limiting the users opportunity to try something new/go somewhere else.
  • Other businesses might not draw customers from certain locations because they are not being shown in results.
  • Most importantly: nobody ranks number one!

Blended results

Blended results further add to this difficulty of ranking at the very top of your field. These are integrated in the results that are returned when you search any particular term. For example we already know that a search for “local plumbers” combines a series of data to produce personalised results. Blended results are the effect of vertical search engines gathering information. For example in Google, there are additional tabs you can click to get certain results: (images, news, books, blogs etc.) These are placed adjacently between organic results. So you might search “plumber” and return: 1. A Google page listing of a local plumber, 2. The Wikipedia definition for the word, 3. A directory result and 4. An image of a plumber (just kidding on this one :-) but you get the idea.)

Therefore ranking at number one is not really generic. This doesn’t mean however, that you can’t rank at the top for your field if you utilise tools such as Google AdWords and create a very powerful and successful campaign with all the right keywords. After all, you only need to appeal to the intended audience, and this is exactly what Google assists in doing!

Happy Searching.

Martina Martina

December 15th, 2010.

An introduction to pay-per-click (PPC)

There are tales of retired businesspeople or sometimes new parents who leave jobs to raise families, who then get bored of monotony and decide to try and use the internet to cure their boredom. Perhaps this idea was launched after they stumbled across Google AdWords and PPC, both helpful tools in allowing companies to bid on certain keywords and phrases.

It works like this – if their bid is high enough,  the winning bidder pays the bid price which ranges from pennies to pounds depending on the competition for those words. Once paid for, a short advert from that bidders company will appear alongside the search results of anyone typing those keywords or phrases into a search engine or a website. Whatever the winning bid price was, is paid every time someone clicks on the ad. The benefits come from the traffic that is drawn to the site mentioned in the advert.

This may sound great, fantastic even – but there are ways to get it wrong, so read on for some handy tips in getting the most out of PPC:

Measuring Click-Through Rates

The success of pay-per-click is found in how many time someone clicks on your ad. This is called the click-through rate. In theory, a high click-through rate equals one click for every four times the page containing your advert is displayed. However you should remember that you are paying for any clicks, therefore – if no business is gained by the ad being clicked, you are potentially losing money.

This is why decisions about your campaign should be focused on getting customers to spend money on the product or service you supply, rather than simply getting them to click on your ad. Completely removing ad that gets lots of clicks but rarely results in a transaction is an idea; perhaps replacing this ad with of one that isn’t as big of a click draw but ultimately entices more transactions would help.

Understanding Conversion Metrics

Online ads allow for you to calculate the money you will make based on what you invest. Although it can be pretty straightforward in some cases, in others it may not, especially if you are using many different forms of marketing already. Google has conversion-tracking tools designed specifically to determine the rate at which people come to your website through clicking on your ad and actually go on to complete a transaction. This can be in the form of making a purchase, signing up for something or simply joining a mailing list. By telling these tools what different types of clicks on your site are worth, it can calculate what your total return will be.

Setting Manageable Budgets

Figure out where you are getting a positive investment and base your budget primarily around that – and that alone. If you are making money, continue to spend more and keep doing so as long as you are making money. Only stop this if it is absolutely necessary, or becomes too much of an outgoing each month to pay. If you are not making money on a campaign then fix it, or walk away from it but do not throw money away month after month in the hope that things will improve, chances are they won’t.

You’re Job Is Never Done

Make constant changes. Such changes include better ads, better keywords and better methods of converting ad clickers. There are some helpful tools provided by Google that assist you in doing so, such as ‘Bid Simulator’ which predicts how new keywords will pan out. Never assume you can do no better, there is always a way to make extra money, or to ‘right’ any wrongs.

Being Realistic

If your keywords are not highly sought after by other advertisers, then you will probably be just fine. But if you are in a crowded industry facing stronger competitors, then prices can get extremely high for keywords.

You can save some money by using more obscure keywords reflecting your businesses strengths and niches. Also, an ad that makes it to the second or even third page in a search engine is not a bad ad. You can save money this way – instead of doing all you can to land on the first page, which new businesses cannot always afford to do.

Good luck!

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