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On the subject of Reputation Management

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.

Money Super Market Comparison engine

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

March 20th, 2014.

Google Goes After Brand Names With Its Comparison Engine.

 

Again, Google gets the backs up of companies investing heavily in its services, though this time it’s not through an algorithm update or a change in the webmaster guidelines. Rather, it’s their comparison feature that has sandbagged the major comparison shopping firms.

If you’re involved in Travel, Finance or Insurance, you need to be aware that Google is interested in controlling these verticals within its own search engine, as much as possible. The opportunity for profit is huge as is the tonnes of valuable data that will be collected.

The Google comparison feature was soon released after they acquired comparison site “Beat That Quote” back in 2011. The feature meant that Google would appear for generic competitive industry related keywords, such as car insurance or mortgages. This is still the case today.

 

Google Comparison Engine

This move was understandable, Google’s desire to keep growing and monopolising the internet means that creations such as this are going to be more and more common. At the end of the day, they’ve reach mass market penetration in the UK, the only way to please the shareholders is to diversify into other lucrative industries.

Brand Bidding is Bad, Unless You’re Google

However, it looks like one rule for everyone else except Google, who haven’t been following their own rules again. Their position as overlords of the internet has entitled them to take advantage of the very companies that are paying them remarkable figures in Google adwords advertisement and other services.

Scratching your head?

Google’s comparison engine has gone a step further than simply appearing for the generic big industry keywords.

A branded search for anyone of the top comparison website rivals will return this:

 

Money Super Market Brand Bidding

They’ve effectively done MoneySuperMarket’s job for them, how thoughtful…

 

Google's comparison search, Sponsored Message

Despite the fact that MoneySuperMarket will probably be paying incredible sums of money to raise awareness of their brand name, all of which supports their offline marketing efforts, which includes extensive above the line media adverts. Their efforts are being sabotaged by Google’s “Sponsored” comparison engine which is essentially hijacking users away from the MoneySuperMarket website. Whilst doing this they’re also trying to force the users to adopt Google’s own engine instead, which features a list of alternative competitor insurance companies.

In a nutshell Google’s comparison engine seems to be a glorified affiliate site.

You thought Google only favoured the big brands…

So what do the big comparison sites do, how would you react? It would appear that they just have to accept it. Thanks Mike… ground breaking revelation there.

This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time that Google have tried to force users to use their platform over a potential rivals, this should sound familiar? Google are being hypocritical of their own guidelines and company mission statement.

We’ve all heard that providing a good user experience and unique authoritative content are what Google rewards the most, which makes perfect sense. So why when companies such as MoneySuperMarket provide awesome content, such as this, are they being pushed further down the SERPS real estate?

Kevin Gibbons recently wrote a great piece on how to beat Google in a vertical search, making the point that relying on Google is always a risky game, it’s your biggest competitor. It has your mindshare whenever want to find something or buy a product.

Kevin, goes onto to give great examples of how MoneySuperMarket are beating Google hand’s down by ultimately using their marketing as an acquisition channel which rewards them for coming back. They’re running newsletters, social media, blog, apps, SEO and remarketing to such an effect that a Google search is becoming more and more irrelevant.

And if all that doesn’t work, well at least they have Snoop Dog.

 

Snoop Dog Money Super Market

231992

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

February 10th, 2014.

Make Your 2014 SEO strategy SMARTER

 

Are you still waiting to implement a winning strategy in 2014? Is the doom and gloom hokum surrounding Google updates preventing you from making the right decisions?

Let me take you back to the past and into the shoes of a university student who chose to follow the straight arrow path of Marketing.

 

Amongst the countless amounts of acronyms and matrix tables that flooded lecture handouts is the classic SMART formula. The formula exists to guide you to defining better objectives.

 

SMART

Specific – Define what it is that you want to achieve. Answer those 5 W’s! Who, what, when, why and where.

Measurable – Quantify your objectives, how are you going to back up your results?

Achievable – We all like to overreach at times. When setting objectives make sure that they’re likely to be achieved by your team.

Relevant – Make sure the objectives are relevant to the business and in line with the overall marketing plan.

Time based – Set a date for the objectives to be complete (tricky in SEO).

 

A smarter SEO would also add

Ethical

&

Recorded

 

So I suppose you want a SMART example in SEO?

A fictitious Mexican food restaurant business based in the UK … “Guapo – Mexican”

“We want to target food lovers from the UK who enjoy tasting exciting Mexican dishes (specific) to raise awareness to our restaurant (actionable and relevant). We will aim to bring over 30,000 visits to our site (measurable) within 8 months (timely)”.

 

So, how will the SMART acronym apply to your 2014 strategy?

First you must begin to understand how search will change in 2014. So let’s take a look at the predictions.

2013 saw Google unleash the shackles on countless updates. If you weren’t scared at anyone point, then you’re a liar! We saw more frequent Penguin and Panda updates, Hummingbird and the (not provided) debacle finally hit its peak. Enough to send the SEO world into to complete disarray…

It’s safe to say that the SERPS changed in a big way last year. We saw steps to include more localised results as well as better integration of the knowledge graph.

A basic search for “Mexican food” returns a mixture of locally, knowledge based and contextually relevant results.

 

Mexican food local google search

 

To get the most out of your SMARTER objectives for 2014, I’d suggest doing the following:

 

Make the most of local

1)      Get listed on Google local places, claim your profile and add all the bells and whistles (360 Photos and Videos) to make sure that your profile stands out amongst your competitors.

2)      Encourage sentiment and reward customers who review the restaurant on Google, Trip advisor, Yelp, Top table and other platforms.

3)      A mobile version of your site is a must. The majority of mobile searches are for local services, take advantage of this by making your menu and deals accessible and shareable on mobile devices.

4)      Go social… Nothing new there, but certainly a necessary step to taking up more first page real estate. In the case of the above example, the love of food is universal. Therefore a restaurant is blessed with the amount of social media tools available at its disposal. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest can also be used to great effect. You could also top this off by adding a blog to your site. Adding a blog is an easy way to increase the amount of pages, helping you rank for a wider set of keywords.

5)      Add separate pages for multiple locations. This helps Google deliver the best result to the searcher, it’s probably a good call to also add your contact details to many pages.

 

Move away from one type of Analytics

Predicted by Rand Fishkin in Moz’s 2013 predictions was that marketers would need to stop relying on Google analytics as the sole platform for web marketing. He was right by some degree, other platforms such as Mixpanel, Piwick, Omniture and Hubspot did grow significantly last year.

Google’s (not provided) alienated many web marketers who put all their eggs in one basket. Being able to measure and report became tough but that wasn’t the only issue. Identifying opportunities for growth also became difficult. The market is becoming more competitive and margin for errors of ignorance is less forgiving.

 

Heavier correlation of G+ in search results

A Moz report in 2013 found a high amount of correlation in search rankings and their number of Google +1’s.  Cyrus Shepard reported on the findings as surprising, although “correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation”. The post did create some controversy which sparked Matt Cutts to respond to the debate via hacker news  to poor cold water on the findings.

 

Google plus correlation in search

 

Make the most of Google + by building relationships with your audience and like minded businesses in your niche, identify the industry influencers and connect with them. Take advantage of rel=”publisher” and connect your website to your Google+ brand page.

Incorporating Google + tactics in your strategy will be more important than previous years. The research done by Moz and search metrics indicates the social networks significance and correlation to higher rankings. You will also benefit from increased Click through rate, relevant and influential communities as well as growing your brands authority.

 

Content Marketing continues to grow but who’s taking over the reins?

Content marketing has been the buzz word for the last couple of years now and it’s taken some time for many businesses to adjust, but to give you an idea of how far it’s come, it is said that up to 92% of marketers are now practicing some form of content marketing.  But do marketers really know best?

The content marketing institute estimate that Marketers will have to up their game if they want to remain relevant. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s Journalists who are leading the way with great backgrounds in writing and storytelling and information design. They know how to orchestrate content that makes you care, is different to the competition, is new and surprises people. Beyond their storytelling abilities are tech and research skills and the ability to meet strict deadlines.

Marketer’s who can learn to think like journalists in 2014 will reap the benefits of good content marketing.

 

Don’t rely on any one tactic

This is nothing new… perhaps it could just be received as conventional wisdom. Relying on anyone SEO tactic will result in either one of two things:

You’ll get burned

Or

Your gains will be short term and eventually … You’ll get burned

 

Burn your business

Ace job there…

Unfortunately, there will always be digital marketers that will want to get the best returns with as little investment as possible. Hereby lays the problem. The result of this cavalier attitude is low quality content that is happy to be placed on any site that will accept it.

For those of you who pay attention to the latest SEO news might have read about Google unleashing a fire demon on guest blogging this year. My advice to you is, just up your game and you should be fine. Guest posting isn’t dead: Google just raised the quality bar. Matt Cuts has recently blogged about guest posting and its use effectiveness as an SEO tactic. He says, “there are many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community,etc.) Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”

The bottom line is, if you love your brand … why risk its demise? Make sure that you comply with the search engine guidelines and stay up to date with best practices. Try to focus on contributing thought leading articles and information that give you exposure, branding and increased reach. When trying to find a blog to post on, ask yourself … Would you be proud to see your brand exposed here? Does this blog capture my audience? Are the blog’s users engaged in its content?

 

How to be SMARTER in 2014

Specific – Are you taking local and mobile into account? … Your audience probably is.

Measurable – Google analytics is great, but to stay competitive you’re going to need more data.

Achievable – Can your team do the job? Maybe it’s time to look to hire journalists for your content marketing needs. Be aware how the SERP’s have changed this past year, it would appear that the contrast of real estate on the 1st page of Google keeps diversifying, with only 7 positions for some phrase types and 10 for others. Local listings, knowledge graph and semantic markup such as reviews and ratings also mean that there is so much more to play for.

Relevant – Are you tactics still relevant to your business plan. Does local SEO, social media’s integration in search and improved level of guest posting apply to your overall strategy and brand message?

Time Based – Setting a period in which to see results will always be tricky. However, you can set time periods for work to be completed. Reflect on the content marketing strategy, more and more journalist style marketers are going into content marketing not just because they know how tell a story but because they also know how to meet challenging deadlines.

Ethical – Make sure you’re meeting Google’s guidelines. Relying on anyone tactic will get you burned, you have to remember that your brand is at stake.

Recorded – Record the processes that you’re implementing throughout the strategy. Are the tactics working? Are they future proof? Are they following the plan?

 

online-review1

Matt

January 29th, 2014.

How Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Business

Your customer is staring at the screen, hovering over your buy button, and they can’t shake the feeling that they might be about to waste their money.

Finally, their cursor slips back to Google, where they throw “…reviews” at the end of the search query. They don’t come across anyone talking about your product, but instead find few about a competitor.

If people can’t find what others are saying about your product or service, then this scenario is a daily reality for your would-be customers.

Traditional advertising is losing its advantage. People have always trusted their friends’ opinion, and now, just about anyone can be your customers’ friend online.

As consumers we’re predisposed to respond to recommendations, rather than promotions. We trust honesty, skeptical of sales copy. Above all, we want be convinced by people like us to give in to our temptations.

If someone is considering handing money over to you, it means they’re tempted. They will look for reasons to buy.

All you have to do is give them reasons they feel they can trust, which means they can’t come from you.

The Secrets To A Lucrative Review Campaign

Review campaigns are efficient converters if done correctly.

In order to translate into increases in sales, they need to be optimised in four ways

  1. Schema Markup
  2. Persuasion
  3. 3rd Party Reach
  4. Reputation Management

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Schema Markup: Make Your Reviews Impossible for Google to Ignore

People don’t link to reviews, so how are we supposed to get ours some visibility in the search results?

Schema markup and social signals are all the search engines really have to go by.

We’re covering social signals in section two, so here’s an overview of what you need to know to have your reviews indexed and properly organised to make them accessible to search engines.

Schema.org markup is the metadata convention that the major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!), agreed to use as the standard way to make web content more accessable to them.

Implemented properly, it makes sense of, and helps to organise structured data structured data.

The Markup

Use the “itemscope” attribute in a <div> tag to tell the bots that everything in this division is about one particular “thing”, which you’re about to specify.

<div itemscope> </div>

Use the “itemtype” attribute to link to Schema’s page about reviews, telling the search bots where you’re getting your markup from. This leaves it looking like this:

<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>

Finally, add an “itemprop” attribute to this tag, and every other tag within it that you want the machines to understand. The itemprop name for a review is simply “review”, so our division ends up like this:

<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>

Let’s look at an example taken from the Schema.org webpage on reviews.

Example Review

Webpage Text:

5 stars – “A masterpiece of literature”

by John Doe. Written on May 4, 2006

I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential challenges people face as they try to make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.

Schema Markup:

<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Review”>

 <span itemprop=”reviewRating”>5</span> stars -

 <b>”<span itemprop=”name”>A masterpiece of literature</span>” </b>

 by <span itemprop=”author”>John Doe</span>,

 Written on <meta itemprop=”datePublished” content=”2006-05-04″>May 4, 2006

 <span itemprop=”reviewBody”>I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential

 challenge people face as they try make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.</span>

</div>

You can go further into the world of Schema.org markup and make full use of all the attributes and properties that it offers you, but the above is all you need to get started and to label the essential elements of a review in a way the search engines will understand.

If it’s all a bit daunting there are a few markup generators out there which you might want to try-out.

reviewA bit of Schema markup makes your reviews stand-out in the search results. Searchers prefer to click on links that have a picture and/or a line of stars next to them which will have a huge impact on your click-through-rates. If you’re running ads in Google Adwords, why not give your landing page every advantage it can get?

2. Persuasion: Turn Customers into Spokespeople

Ask and you’ll receive.

Companies are constantly leaving opportunity on the table when it comes to reviews. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, considering how easy it is to tap this resource. Take this chance to get an edge.

There a a few ways to go about it:

Follow up email. You have your customers’ email addresses, so make use of them. Make it a simple one-click-at-a-time process, perhaps with the words, “Are you satisfied with our service?” and a binary option below, which opens up a fast-loading page with the words “…almost done.” at the top, and a single extra box to fill in a quick reason for their answer. Don’t ask your customers to fill out a survey. Most people imagine they’ll be committed to pages of questions.

Calls to Action. Where would it be appropriate in your site to ask for a review? Perhaps at the end of a tutorial blog post that helps your customers solve a common problem? Blog comments are better than nothing, but perhaps it’s worth directing people’s attention to something a little higher in return.

Social Media. People like to talk. And nowhere do they talk more online than on social media sites. On-site reviewing presents a mental barrier. The customer isn’t used to your domain, or your interface. It’s new and scary. But they’ll turn around to tweet in the next moment without hesitation. There is opportunity in the connection you have with the social web, and exploiting it can be as easy as tweeting, “Tell us what you think.” Consider having a section of your site that displays the best tweets you’ve ever received.

Incentivise. Asking nicely works on some people. Others need a little more of a push. Stay well away from gifts that could be construed as paying for reviews (i.e. discounts on future purchases), as this will discredit the reviews that you do manage to get. We’ve been trained to be suspicious of internet content at the best of times, so do everything you can to maintain trust. A good alternative is to offer a prize draw, or to donate to a cause. Any kind of incentive is risky to your reputation with not-yet-customers, so to be safe keep these offers to follow up emails and make it very clear that the incentive doesn’t depend on whether the review is positive or negative.

3. 3rd Party Reach: Have Spokespeople Everywhere Online

Google-Places_reviewsThe most powerful place to have positive reviews is on 3rd party sites.

72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, as long as they find them on an impartial review site such as Reevoo or Epinions, or on the marketplace site where they reached your brand, such as Amazon or Google Checkout.

Google Shopping seller ratings are aggregates of ratings pooled together from all relevant review sites on the web, including reviews left on your own site, so long as you’ve implemented Schema markup properly (see above).

While social media can be powerful, the highest return on time investment will always be spent on the sites where people go specifically to talk about products and services, and to either persuade or dissuade others from using yours.

Enter into these targeted conversations and take an active role.

Answer people’s questions or deal affectively and professionally with concerns that are raised, and don’t be shy about linking to pages that list your product or service. Remember, 3rd party reviews are seen as more trustworthy, so encourage them!

4. Reputation Management: Use Everything to Your Advantage

A bad review will help you.

Consumers who go out of there way to read bad reviews are 67% more likely to convert than the average shopper, and 30% suspect censorship when there are no negative reviews to be found. I know I fall into that category.

A caveat to this is that if the majority of reviews are negative, the impact is of course to deter most potential customers. There is a balance.

In order to strike it, we need to manage our online reputations by tackling negative reviews head on. Listen to what’s being said, as the feedback alone can be invaluable. To stay completely on top of it, keep a spreadsheet of negative reviews. This way, you can search and compare what customers wish were different. See what’s cropping up repeatedly, and if it’s clear something needs to change, you can now allocate resources to solving a problem that you can be sure will boost your business in the future.

 

Link Reclamation basic wins

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

January 16th, 2014.

Link Reclamation – 7 Basic Wins

 

What is link reclamation?

Link reclamation is where you’re looking to re-establish links or mentions that were directed towards your site in the past. There are many reasons why previous links may have disappeared but usually it comes down to technical reasons, such as updated pages or a wrong redirect put in place. You could argue it necessary to carry out a link reclamation project every time a website is being redesigned and content is migrated.

Put simply, link reclamation is the process of locating, contacting and fixing broken links to yours or your client’s website. It also has the added benefit of being a totally organic process, with virtually no risk attached. You’re only making the most of current mentions of your company.

Link reclamation is the perfect go to method when starting any link building campaign. It’s simple, quick and will give your campaign a steady footing right from the word go. Examples of where to look for previous links could range from charity work, local or national press, sponsors, exhibitions and review sites such as trust a trader or trust pilot.

Shall we begin… Exciting!

 

 

Yippie!

Yippie!

 

For this you’ll need:

Moz’s Fresh web explorer

Webmaster Tools

Excel

Screaming Frog

Majestic SEO

 

Brand Misspellings 

One for brands is to look for misspellings. Frequently people will have webmaster error and for whatever reason, they will misspell your domain name.

For instance if you’re a big brand, say Renault or something, you could look for alternate spelling mistakes for your brand (Renualt.com) and where people have linked to the wrong site. From there, it’s simple enough to get in contact with the source of the link and ask that the link be corrected, helping both “our” users.

John Henry Scherck wrote a fantastic post on building links from brand misspellings, all you need is excel, majestic and Aaron Wall’s keyword misspelling tool and you can scale this to another level.

 

Reverse image search

Have any interesting images on your site? What about your logo? YES! This one is easy. Use the Google reverse image search. This can be a very effective piece to your link building puzzle. Monitor your images and see who’s used them without crediting you as the source. There are other tools out there that can help achieve the same, such as Tineye, Creative commons and Compfight.

You can take this a step further by using your competitor’s images or logos and see what websites are linking to your competitors. A good attitude to take from here would be to try and analyse why they’re using your competitor’s images over yours. It could be that they have a direct interest in your industry and therefore a chance to outreach presents itself.

 

Fresh Web Explorer – Moz & Google Alerts

Fresh web explorer really has to be one of the easiest ways to locate mentions of your brand that are being scattered around the web. Simply enter your URL or Brand name and search. You’ll hopefully be rewarded with a list of recent mentions that may have passed under your radar. You can also search for multiple phrases at a time, which is handy.

Similarly, you can use good old fashioned Google alerts. You can set this up to track your keywords, brand mentions and even Url’s. If someone mentions you, you’ll get an alert sent through to your email. From there, you can decide if you’d like to get a link from the resulting website.

 

Use webmaster tools

Go to crawl > Crawl errors, click on your URL’s to see where they’re linked from.

 

Webmaster tools crawl errors

 

 

Simply click on that link and you should have a pop that gives you a more detailed look. From here, click on “linked from”.

 

Webmaster tools link reclamation

 

 

This should give you the complete run down of who’s linking to you. From here, you can decide if these links are worth keeping or not. If they are and you have another page that is up to date and has thematic relevance to your 404 URL, simply place a 301 redirect in place. Then click “mark as fixed” and let Google get to work.

 

Webmaster tools mark as fixed link reclamation

 

 

This is such a simple fix that it would be a crime to leave it out.

 

Moving Links to your Primary domain

Many companies have more than one domain. Perhaps it was that new intern that recommended a new domain or mini site that you’ve completely forgot about. It could even be an old product that is no longer available.

Going through all your old web assets can sometime uncover some golden opportunities, sometimes going beyond links. Perhaps you’ll rekindle an old business or promotional partnership that served you well in the past. By resolving this issue with a 301 redirect, you can transfer link equity from the unfavoured to the favoured.

Important note: Don’t redirect an old site to the new if it suffered from a Google penalty. You’ll only be breathing new life into those spurious links that caused you all that bother.

 

Redirected Pages & Server response errors

Using the scraping frog tool, scrape through the depths of your site, as deep as you can possibly go.  Make an export of the crawl and pay attention to the response codes that are being found.

 

Screaming Frog status code

 

 

If you’re seeing server errors pop up, you can run backlink checker and identify problem areas. Pay attention to 302 redirects, change them to 301’s if possible, allowing previous link equity to pass through. You can also use a header checker tool to follow redirect paths. My favourite tool for doing is Ayima’s redirect tool. I can simply follow the previous redirect path for any problem URLs.

 

Links to tweets

This is a slice of genius from Ross Hudgens at Siege Media. If you have an active twitter account for your brand, you can make use of your historical data and create an archive of all your tweets and interaction, which can be done by going to account settings. You should then receive an email with instructions to download the zip file. This may take away depending on how active you are.

 

Twitter archive link reclamation

 

Place into a CSV and upload using screaming frog. Once it’s been crawled, you can easily see which web addresses have linked to tweets in your archive. If you’re responsible as the source of that content, try getting in touch with that web-master and ask if they can kindly change the link to your site instead of your Twitter handle.

 

Screaming Frog Twitter archive

 

 

This is just a handful of easy ways to reclaim or identify links that you should be making the most of, a great way to get a link building campaign off the ground. I’m always up for learning, so if you know any other cool little tricks, please comment below. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even be kind enough to link to you in the future.

 

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 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 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! ;-)

 

Rob

April 12th, 2010.

Comparative charity advertising – the new online battleground?

I read an article on Marketing Week “Advertising industry and green charities welcome code changes“.

The story reports on some changes in the codes guiding TV and radio advertising, and one significant change will be that charities will be allowed to run adverts comparing themselves against another charity.

The new advertising code takes effect from September 2010.

Image from Charity Muggers by Ross McCulloch

Image from Charity Muggers by Ross McCulloch http://blogs.sundaymail.co.uk/thirdsectorlab/2008/11/charity-muggers.html

I believe it is unlikely that this kind of advertising will go out during prime time TV, or drive time radio; it is too expensive and finger pointing in the middle of Coronation Street isn’t the best way to open up the nation’s purses and wallets.

I do think though that the temptation to run comparative adverts during day time TV will be  irresistible to some young up and coming marketing manager.  The cheaper costs would be quite a lure, and let’s face it, day time advertising is really boring.

Where I see the some real change happening is in the search market, and given that Google has relaxed its stance on bidding for brand names, we can expect to see a whole raft of guerrilla style PPC campaigns such as “Donations to us go to good causes, not to fund new offices” or “We’re better as we don’t use chuggers” triggered by searches for charity names.

The meta description section of HTML code will become the marketing manager’s secret weapon, and will be “optimised” to within an inch of its life with remarks the activities of other charities alongside traditional calls to action.

The meta description content does not appear on the pages visitors browse, and is only ever seen as a summary of the page in natural search results.  Where better to put some unsettling comments and inconvenient truths about charities competing for the hearts and minds of the donating public?

Any bets on which charity will be the first to step up?

Rob

April 8th, 2010.

Social Media Principles from Coca Cola

 

This document is a great guide for anyone company setting up a Social Media policy for their company and employees.

Coca-Cola’s approach is mature and shows the situation that we have arrived at: that is to say that they cannot restrain their staff from writing about their job and their company in which they work but that in doing so this also comes with (social) responsibility.

I cant remember where I first found this but it was floating around on the Internet so apologies if you have seen it before.

Coca-cola – Online-Social-Media-Principles-12-2009

Matt

March 22nd, 2010.

The Social Media Penetration Of The Major UK Political Parties [INFOGRAPHIC]

With the UK elections fast approaching I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how well the major UK political parties were using social media to connect with voters.

With Barack Obama famously using social media to court the youth vote in the US elections, social media is now a viable  platform for politicians to connect with people on a large scale.

All of the UK parties are maintaining a social media presence, with Facebook pages, Twitter and YouTube accounts prominently linked from their respective websites. To take a snapshot of activity and a gauge of its success I recorded the following metrics,

  • Facebook page friends
  • Twitter followers
  • Twitter tweets
  • Twitter reach
  • Klout score – a measure of Twitter influence
  • Compete score – a measure of website traffic

While all parties get points for maintaining a social presence on the major social sites The Conservatives are way ahead of their competition when it comes to the number of raw followers and the reach of their campaign. The Green Party received the highest Klout score, a measure of their influence and interaction on Twitter.

Interestingly enough the extremist BNP received by far the largest level of traffic to their website, but were one of the lowest scorers when it came to followers and interaction levels – perhaps an indication of voters researching their headline grabbing policies, but a degree of unwillingness to follow and interact with them, will this translate into a lack of votes?

On the whole though the UK parties are doing a fairly poor job of leveraging and interacting with social media users. Compare the Conservatives 23,000 Facebook page friends with Obama’s profile currently over the 7.5 million mark. Even allowing for a smaller population and  lower levels of social media engagement it’s clear that campaigns are failing to achieve what they should be doing. It’s difficult to tell if this is due to campaign mis-management, or simply voter apathy after recent political events.

Matt

December 2nd, 2009.

Datadial Launch Their Reputation Monitoring Tool

overviewDatadial are pleased to announce the launch of their online reputation monitoring tool. Designed for business and agencies that wish to monitor the online profiles of their brand, products, key staff and competitors.

We have designed the user interface to be as intuitive as possible, with an emphasis on speed of use and productivity, while at the same time a feature-rich interface gives in-depth data about the source of mentions and enables you to tag, comment or share mentions for further action.

  • This service should be seen as part of any effective online marketing strategy.
  • You will be able to track and measure what is being said.
  • Armed with this information you will be able to see the effectiveness of your campaigns, gain customer insight, learn how your brand, products and services are being perceived and also join in the conversation and, if necessary, react to any adverse publicity.
  • The results will help you with planning for future campaigns, enabling fine-tuning and therefore saving you money.

At this point the software is still at a beta stage, so we are inviting as much user feedback and suggestions as possible on design and functionality. Signup to track one phrase is free, so please go here to signup for an account.

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