Joined-up Marketing – a better way to drive web traffic? – Part 1 – The SEO problem

Joined-up marketing - Grow your businessThere is no question that having a website which effectively and clearly says what you offer is a vital tool for any business. This said, the best website only has marketing value if people visit it. For several years now, Search Engine Optimisation has been touted as the route of choice to grow website traffic and there are thousands of companies and individuals who say they can ‘Get you to the top of Google‘ – for a fee.

“Joined-up Marketing is a better way to drive web traffic”

We believe Joined-up Marketing is a better way to drive web traffic. In this series of 3 articles…

  1. The SEO Problem
  2. Keep in touch with your contacts
  3. The power of networking

…we will explain why and show you how you can get the benefits of Joined-up Marketing in your business

The SEO Problem….

There is, a fundamental issue with Search Engine Optimisation. Google only lists 10 entries per page and everyone is fighting for the same 10 ‘Page 1’ listings. The more SEO companies there are, all aiming for the same listings, the more difficult, time consuming (and expensive!) it gets – and there is no guarantee that because you have a page 1 listing this week you will keep it next – again a function of the growing SEO competition. OK, there is the opportunity to focus on more niche and specialist terms. These may be easier to get high rankings for but there are more of them so again, more work for the SEO specialists. Even these terms will steadily become more competitive. So whichever way you look at it, ‘traditional’ Search Engine Optimisation is going to get harder and more expensive. This isn’t to say it is all a waste of time. On the contrary, if your site does not include content that specifically uses your target search terms, you will find it difficult to get listed for those terms. Equally if your site isn’t regularly updated with good quality, relevant content it’s authority in search listings is likley to decline. See our post here

The Solution…

So what is the alternative? I say joined-up marketing. Don’t just rely on SEO to get your website found on search engines. You are adding good, relevant, new content to your site (aren’t you?) so why not tell your contacts rather than waiting for them to find it – and when they do, who knows who they might tell! We’ll look at Keeping in touch next time      

The Role of 'SEO' in Joined-up Marketing

Over the last couple of posts we may be accused of having a go at the SEO industry, suggesting that spending time optimising your site so it can be found on search engines is a waste of resources. Since over 70% of traffic is still driven from search engines, this would obviously be a strange approach for someone who advocates joined-up web marketing, and the fact that you are still reading hopefully suggests that you understand that this is not what we are saying! Here we want to look at what you should be doing to ensure that you are found on and valued by search engines. If you want to call this SEO then OK, but remember, this is a marketing issue and NOT a technical one! The starting point is “Search engines love good, relevant, new and authoritative content“. If your site is full of good, relevant, new and authoritative content, search engines will want to find it. The good news is that if you have been following our recommendations you will have a site with a news section/blog and you will be continually be adding good and relevant content that you can then use this as the basis for regular email newsletters to your contacts. If this is the case then the hard work is done and the final step to join-up the marketing process is to “Optimise this content for Search Engines”! We aren’t talking about the old fashioned SEO of bulk building links and spraying the net with thinly disguised copies of your content linked back to your site, but using the even more old fashioned concept of keyword optimisation, and the newer ones of content sharing and authorship tagging.

  1. Old Fashioned Keyword Optimisation: Even though Google no longer focuses on the Keywords metatag, keywords and keyphrases are still vital, and central to the operation of search engines. Google’s algorithm centres on matching the keyword entered by the searcher to the content of pages in its index. Ensuring that the relevant keywords are appropriately represented in your content is still key to being found on search engines.
  2. Make sure Google knows who wrote the content: You will pick a book because you like the author, or read a paper because you like their reporting style. So, unsurprisingly, there is much talk at the moment about whether Google uses authorship as a ranking factor. Although the jury is out, the suggestion is that they currently don’t use it as a direct factor, but that it does influence the results indirectly (see this post for more info on the subject). Furthermore, if they are taking bets on whether or not it will be a direct ranking factor in the future, the odds-on-favorite answer must be “Yes”, so make sure Google knows who wrote the content. You will find details of how to atribute content authorship here.A by-product of the authorship process is that your Google listings will have your picture alongside them, thus making them stand out.
  3. Share your content using relevant social networks: There are many good reasons to share your content on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in etc.:
      1. Google used social interactions as a direct ranking factor (if your post gets shared on social networks it will help your search rankings)
      2. Content publishers use social networks to find content & stories. I have heard on numerous occasions of people having their story picked up by magazines & papers  from a tweet they have made.
      3. It gives you a direct connection with your customers, gives them a route by which they can communicate directly with you, and acts as a measure of what your audience think of your content. If they like it, they will share it.
      4. It is very simple & straightforward to do so there is no reason not to.

Given the demographic of the readers of this blog, I would suggest that the  focus should probably be Twitter first & Linked-in second with Facebook a somewhat distant third. Conclusion

  1. In discussing SEO, we are starting from the assumption that people would want to read your content if they could find it and, on this basis, search engines will want your content to be high in their rankings. What we are advocating here is ensuring that it is easy for them to put it there.
  2. Much of what we are advocating here is not SEO as a separate activity, but SEO as part and parcel of a joined-up marketing process of producing and publishing good content for your site. Good  search engine optimisation comes from having the right philosophy and mindset when writing content, rather than in employing someone to “optimise your site”! (You will find an expansion of these thoughts here: Is SEO an individual or team event?)

Does email marketing work? Yes it does

There is plenty of information out there about email marketing, and how it can improve ROI, but there are few straightforward facts on the effectiveness of email in the real world. To address this, we have put together a case study on how BSA are using email marketing to help one of our clients secure additional, profitable business, and how the effectiveness of email compares with other marketing tools like SEO. The Client – Mettricksbutchers.co.uk Mettricksbutchers.co.uk is an ecommerce site offering high quality meat from local producers. The website is promoted using a range of tools including:

  • Search marketing
  • Off line brand development
  • Email marketing

Objectives The project had 2 main objectives

  1. Building the contact list
  2. Generating sales

These objectives were approached by Encouraging visitors to the site to create an account, and join the emailing list. Regular email marketing to account holders,  reinforcing the Mettricks brand and encouraging the placing of orders. Results Building the mailing list Through sustained on and off line marketing, we have succeeded in consistently growing the emailing list over time. The graph below illustrates how the customer list has grown over the past 12 months. Generating Sales As the site is an ecommerce site, we can measure sales directly, and through Google Analytics we can establish the traffic sources generating orders. Through these tools we can measure marketing effectiveness through tracking e-commerce conversion rates for various marketing media: The Traffic sources tracked are: General searches (for example)

  • online butchers
  • butchers
  • online butcher

Brand specific searches (for example)

  • Mettricks
  • Mettricks butchers
  • Mettricks Glossop

Visits triggered by email For each of these traffic sources we can measure Conversion Rate (% of visits that become an order) and Average Order Value. The graphs below illustrate the breakdown of traffic, and the conversion rates for these three traffic sources They demonstrate that although the number of visits from email is significantly lower than the number of visits generated from generic search keywords, when it comes to revenue generation the email visits are much more valuable. This is further reinforced when we look at conversion rates on visits generated from email compared with search keyword visits. For site visits from general searches, less than 1% convert to orders. this figure rises to just over 5% for site visits from brand specific searches and up again to almost 6.5% for visits originating from emails – a total improvement of over 600%! We must however also consider order values. Although, in our study, visits from general searches did deliver the highest order values, the range across the 3 revenue sources is only + or – 4%. The higher conversion rate from email is much more significant Conclusions

  1. Search engine marketing & offline brand promotion encourage people to sign up to the site
  2. The most valuable website visits come from email & people performing brand searches
  3. Visits from emails have a conversion rate over 7 times higher than general searches

Although SEO and search marketing are important for helping to build a good emailing list, real success comes from developing relationships with contacts through email & brand building. Successful marketing needs to be an integrated process utilising the appropriate marketing mix. This is the essence of the BSA Marketing approach

Is Search Engine Optimisation dead?

As we discussed on this blog back in May (Is SEO a Science? Yes, probably; but is this the right question?) the SEO industry has grown exponentially over the past few years often suggesting a tantalisingly easy fix to driving traffic to your website with a consequent rise in business opportunities – the magic wand of marketing? But as we all know (do we?) there is no such thing as a magic wand and now it seems a cloud is descending over the promised land of SEO This post which came in over the weekend from Forbes.com is definitely adding fuel to the fire of the SEO debate.

Naturally it is always interesting to get the views and opinions of others; Here is a quote:

Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete, SEO will be dead in 2 years.”

Quite something! But actually, if you read the article, you will see a great deal of common sense. Take this extract:

The bottom line is that all SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one:  Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search.  If you generate content and place it all over the web promoting and linking to your specific content, it is obviously fake. (And that is basically the SEO industry....

Undoubtedly SEO services will be around for a little while yet, but there is a growing school of thought that devoting significant resource to ‘engineering’ high search engine rankings may be coming less worthwhile. We always recommend that, particularly for SME businesses, getting good, relevant content on your website and making sure that it is regularly updated is an essential element of your marketing and a valuable contribution to ‘catching the eye’ of the Google algorithm. Furthermore, it is something you should be able to do yourself (if you can’t, give us a call and we will show you how you can). However, to suggest that any one approach is the answer to your marketing prayers is equally inappropriate. This said, businesses often look at marketing activities in isolation,  project by project, tool by tool (networking today, advertising tomorrow, email on Thursday, pay-per-click on Friday etc.) Actually, the real value comes from seeing each as part of the whole and ensuring that your marketing is joined-up and consistent.

Is SEO an individual or team event?

Sorry, but in this Olympics week I had to get the sporting reference in there somewhere! It is also a very valid question, and one that was raised recently in a post  on the e-consultancy website “Will Panda kill the freelance SEO star?” They are not saying that SEO is no longer valid, but more that given the increasing sophistication of search engine (read Google!) algorithms, they are suggesting that it is no longer the realm individual technicians who can tweak the structure and content of your website to deliver good search results. Rather good search results are a result of good marketing.

  • Understanding your market
  • Understanding how you can deliver value
  • Ensuring that your website contains good content that your market value
  • And finally making sure that  this content is delivered on your site in a way that makes it easily for search engines to find it.

As the article concludes, an individual with a skill set that can deliver all these things (Market Analysis, Customer Psychology, Copy Writing, Web Design) and who fully understands the inner workings of Google, would be in such demand that few could afford their services. Good SEO is not something that can be delivered for a couple of hundred pounds a month by an individual freelance SEO practitioner. From our perspective, this means that when looking to promote your business, the staring point should always be Marketing. Understand your objectives, understand your market & build a sustainable marketing programme using the most appropriate tools. Unfortunately it is not a quick fix, and can rarely be delivered by a single individual. But when done well it delivers long term sustainable results. If you want to discuss how we may be able to help you with joined-up marketing for your business, please get in touch. It costs nothing to talk! If you want to read more about what we have said on this subject in the past, here are a few links you may find interesting:

   

Brain Teaser – Ream Quandry – THE ANSWER

 

The Question

Missed the question? Check it out here or go straight for the answer:

The Answer

Yet again, easy when you know…if a bit tedious…. You weigh every single packet and record the results. The smallest difference between any 2 results equates to the smallest difference possible in the number of sheets, i.e. one – a single sheet. Therefore the smallest difference between two weighings equals the weight of one sheet of paper – result! Remember though, this only works if you if you have a large enough sample of packets that you can be fairly sure that you’ll have packets with consecutive number totals – and like I said, we had a HUGE number of packets. You could do extra checks by checking if your answer is a factor of all the other weighings. If it’s not then you might have to do a bit more calculating that we aren’t going to go into here as we have better things to do and, as I said, we had a HUGE number of packets. Have a great summer.