The power of Local Search for SEO

local searchLocal search can have real impact on the effectiveness of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) SEO  is, in essence, about getting a link to your website to appear on Page 1 Google. (Other search engines are available but Google is the pack leader – and in general the development of search tends to follow the same path whichever search engine you consider) As the internet grows, both in terms of the sophistication of the Google algorithm and the sheer number of websites competing for listings, traditional approaches to SEO become more challenging (for which read time consuming and expensive!) As we have discussed in other posts, simply making sure you regularly update your website with good relevant content pertinent to your business and the marketing propositions you offer to customers, can offer great benefit to your SEO, particularly if you operate in one or more niche markets.

Geography still matters in Local Search

Unless someone is looking to make an online purchase, it is highly likely that any web search for a product or service is likely to include a geographical reference – they are making a ‘Local Search‘ (Even with e-commerce most people prefer to buy from a UK supplier.) You may notice that when you search on Google, the top listings often relate to a map showing business location. This is ‘Google Places’. Being listed in Google Places can be one of the easiest ways to get high search rankings for your region To get your business listed on Places is straightforward here is a link to details how from Google. You will need a Google account but the process takes about 5 minutes to get a basic listing. Be aware getting your address authorised by Google or making changes to your address details, can involve Google sending information to you by post. This can take a few weeks. If you would like to discuss how local search can help your business, give us a call  

Let's start talking about effective/non effective SEO?

Effective vs Non Effective SEOI came across this post on the SEOMOZ site this week, that I thought would be worth sharing. It looks at the issues surrounding good and bad SEO, and I think it makes some very good points,  suggesting that the discussion needs to move from “Ethical/Non ethical” to “Effective/Non effective SEO techniques. It also suggests that whilst few if any non ethical techniques have long term business benefits, increasingly there are plenty of SEO activities which might seem legitimate and ethical, but which still do not deliver any long term business benefits.

So what does it say about Effective SEO?

In summary the key points of this post are:

  • SEO that is done purely to give search ranking benefits is questionable in the long term
  • Always take a long term rather than short term approach to search marketing
  • Effective SEO needs to be seen in the context of your wider marketing

Take this approach, and the chances of your efforts being wiped out by a change to the Google algorithm are significantly reduced! You can read the full article here

Lights Camera – Action: The Rise of Video

Video has always been one of the tools in a marketers kit bag but historically it has been the domain of corporate marketing with big budgets. The internet has changed all this and now video as a marketing tool is within the reach of most businesses! What’s more, video SEO is rapidly becoming a vital part of any search marketing strategy. Arm yourself with an inexpensive digital video camera and some software (eg VideoPad), and you have everything you need to make a corporate video. If you don’t fancy yourself as the next Steven Speilberg, there are an increasing number of professionals who will create a video for you on a very modest budget (Created by a local Videographer Jack Hoad, the video below cost less than £300). [responsive_vimeo 44887638] The marketing benefits of video are also on the rise. With Google’s purchase of  Youtube, video should now be a key component of any search marketing strategy. Youtube is now ranked the number 3 website globally (behind Google and Facebook) and as such having a good presence here can really reap benefits.

Creating a Brand Presence on Youtube

As with other social network sites Youtube allows you to create a branded “Channel”on the site. This channel allows you to mix your own marketing videos with collections of other relevant videos thus creating an information resource that can really enhance your brand image. A good example of this is the Avande UK Youtube channel through which, amongst other things, they use “talking head” videos to answer questions posed by their customers. Simple to create, and engaging for their audience.

Video SEO

When considering video as a marketing tool, we should not forget the SEO benefits it offers. Youtube and Google are now one and videos are now increasingly included in Google’s listings. Making sure that you have well optimised videos (if you are using WordPress, Yoast offer a great plugin for Optimising videos.) should be a key element of any SEO strategy.

 Video and Email Marketing

Finally a word about videos and email, although we can not recommend embeding videos in the content of email, placed on your website and linked from emails, they offer some great benefits. One emailer estimated that inncluding a video in their emails reduced unsubscribe rates buy 75%, whilst another estimated a 51% increase in conversions when video was used. You will find some other interesting stats related to the use of video here.

Effective Networking – Joined-up Marketing – Part 3

Effective Networking is an important element of joined-up marketing

Effective Networking – build your contacts.

There is no question that B2B networking has really grown over the past 3 or 4 years and it can be a great way to meet new contacts – so long as your networking is effective networking. As with most marketing, the reality can sometimes fail to match up to the hype. In my experience, many people will join a group then drift away after a few months because they don’t see anything coming out of their effort. This can be a mistake because face to face contacts are undoubtedly the best and strongest business contacts you can make.  Strong contacts lead to good relationships and in turn, to good business. Here are my tips on how to make the most of your networking:

1. Focus on relevance

Different networking groups attract different types of business. Many of the formal networking groups attract a very broad range of (normally) small businesses. If you operate in a niche sector, maybe you need to find suitable sector specific network. If you can’t find one, why not start one!

2. Think quality, not quantity

Don’t see a network meeting as an opportunity to meet as many people as possible. You will soon be seen as a ‘card collector’ who is looking for contact names rather than business relationships. You are better to have 2 or 3 good conversations where you can make an impression. You should be ready to network regularly so there will be plenty of opportunity to meet more people at future gatherings.

3. Relationships matter

Networking is not a quick fix! Good relationships take time to develop. You should be prepared to visit a networking group regularly for at least 12 months before making a decision as to how effective it might be for you. This is one reason why you need to find a network of people where there is a ‘fit’ with your own business. In my experience you can meet some great people through networking but there should be a realistic chance that there are business opportunities for you too. There is often a focus in the general networking groups on the idea that it’s not the people you meet but the people they know. While this approach has merit, surely it is better fish in a pond that contains the fish you want to catch!

4. Networking is not just networking

Most formal networking groups are generalist. They are businesses in their own right (often franchises)  and try to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. As a consequence, most businesses you find at these networking groups tend to be smaller service companies. Also, most of this type of networking group have a cost – either an annual fee or a meeting fee, or sometimes both. This can get quite expensive – another reason you need to see a return. If your’s is a niche business that doesn’t really deal with very small service businesses then effective networking can be quite tough in these groups. An alternative approach might be to look for organisations who have a role to support businesses in your target sector. For example:

  • Local Authorities
  • Training Agencies
  • Professional Bodies
  • Sector Bodies
  • Business Support Agencies
  • Health Authorities
  • Education Authorities

By partnering with this type of organisation, perhaps using your specialist knowledge and expertise to facilitate workshops and seminars, you can get valuable access to contacts in businesses where your products and services can have real value.

5. Consider volunteering your time

Delivering a workshop or hosting a seminar attended by 10 or 12 (or more!) contacts from your target sectors can be a really effective networking approach that puts you in a valuable position. If you charge a fee for your time, you just become a supplier whereas if you can do it for no cost, you are a partner! By taking the ‘bigger picture’ the longer term business potential can be significantly enhanced. As we discussed above, regular networking normally has a direct financial (as well as a time) cost to you so actually, delivering a seminar for free (to the right people!) can be a really good deal for you.

6. Join-up your networking

You may only get good opportunities to network every month or so, and each time there is no guarantee that you will meet the same people to start to grow your relationships. Effective networking should be joined-up with your other marketing. If you take the business cards you are given and add these contacts to your database you will make sure you can keep ‘tapping them on the shoulder’ as we discussed in a previous post (you can see it here) I try to do it regularly. Typing information into a database can be really tedious but taking the line of ‘little and often‘ definitely make things easier. If you wish to discuss networking, email marketing on your marketing in general, do get in touch.

Responsive Websites – What are they and do I need one?

responsive websitesYou may have heard the phrase “Responsive websites” over the past few months and indeed they are being touted as the next big thing in web design, but what are they and how are they likely to impact in the real world.

What is a “Responsive Website?”

Put simply, a responsive websites is a way of designing a website that take into account the fact that it may be viewed on different devices with very different screen sizes (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc). A responsive website is one which will “reconfiure its layout depending on the size of the screen on which it is viewed”, so in theory it will look as good on a small smartphone screen as it does on a 23″ widescreen desktop. Website Design specialists have produced an infographic giving more details on responsive web design – take a look here

Do I need to make sure my website is responsive?

Consider this: “Do I need to make sure my website is appropriate for my market?” Clearly the answer is “yes”. So if your market regularly views your website from a range of different devices then a Responsive website may well be worth considering. Google analytics is a great tool for answering this. It includes extensive stats on the platforms used by visitors to view your website. But be aware that currenly developing a responsive website adds a significant amount of complexity to the design process and thus will add to the development costs. Taking this into consideration, ROI must always be a part of this thought process. To find out more about Google Analytics and Responsive websites, get in touch

Is Facebook right for your business?

Is Facebook right for your business?Back in 2009, we launched our company page on Facebook. A while later, we took the decision to close it down. This decision came up in conversation with a client recently while discussing the role of Facebook in a marketing plan. When asking the question “Is Facebook right for your business?” , the answer lies behind a second question “What is my target market & how do they use social media?” Answering this question will ultimately inform your decision concerning Facebook (and other social platforms). In broad terms, individuals will interact with social media wearing either their  ‘business‘, or ‘consumer’ hat. Thus Facebook, which is predominantly used by people wearing their ‘consumer hat‘, is most relevant if your customers are using your products as consumers. But is much less relevant if you are interacting with customers in their role as business buyers. Although it is rarely this black and white, this thought process should help is making decisions about the use of Facebook and if you are using it, how to build your Facebook marketing strategy. When making this decision,  a few of points are worth noting:

  1. Although Facebook can be a great marketing tool, this is only true when it meets your marketing objectives in terms of your target market
  2. You should always be reviewing your marketing activities, and not focusing on media simply because it is “trendy”
  3. Always focus on your marketing objectives & remember your target market when making decisions about where to expend your resources

A good example of this thinking actually came out of the discussion with the client that prompted this post, a manufacturer of accessories for dog owners. Predominantly, their products are targeted at kennel owners and businesses who house dogs professionally. For this market where customers are targeted as professionals, Facebook may seem to have little relevance. However, in this specific case, it is likely that many if not most kennel owners will also be dog lovers and will interact with other like-minded people on Facebook in this capacity (This facebook group in our local town is a good example). Thus promoting their products to the consumer market as “the professional choice” may not sell many products to the consumer market, but will definitely re-inforce the value of their offering to those Facebook users who are also kennel owners and would form a legitimate part of a joined-up marketing strategy. So back to the question: Q: Is Facebook Right for your business? A: It Depends! If you would like to talk this from an unbiased marketing perspective, we would love to talk to you.

Joined-up Marketing – a better way to drive web traffic? – Part 2 – Keeping in touch

Joined-up marketing - Keeping in touch to grow your business

Keeping in touch – the ‘Tap on the Shoulder’

In part 1 of this series we looked at Search Engine Optimisation and the fact that despite so many businesses focusing their web-marketing strategy on getting page one rankings on Google rather than also looking at the value of keeping in touch.

The Problem

1. Are you looking for customers who deal with you once or do you want to build real business relationships? Google listings can certainly help generate new traffic to your site but have limited benefit in building long term customers. If someone visits your site after finding you on Google, and then contacts you, do you have a strategy for keeping in touch with them? If you don’t, you have missed an opportunity to build a business relationship and are ‘back in the mix’ with your competitors next time that customer is looking to buy. If you keep in touch with the contacts who engage with your business, they can get to know you better, find out more about who you are and what you offer and, most important, not forget you! 2. Are you happy to rely on Google or do you want to have some say in what messages you communicate? The content that appears in Google Listings is drawn from the Google database, NOT directly from your website. Depending on how frequently the Google robots visit your site, the information displayed by Google may not be your latest message. 3. Are you sure you can maintain your Google rankings? As we discussed last time, there is more and more competition for page 1 rankings which means you  have to put more and more resource (time or money – or both!) into maintaining your position – so no, organic SEO rankings are not free!

The Solution

Contact maintains awareness By keeping in regular contact with your customers, you remind them you are still there, ready, willing and able to serve them. As you may know, we recommend email newsletters as a great way of keeping in touch. Even if someone receives your e-newsletter and doesn’t have time to read it, it is still a ‘tap on the shoulder‘ bringing your name to mind, with (hopefully!) positive thoughts about your business. Relevance maintains interest We  also recommend that your e-newsletter should focus on content that is, first and foremost, interesting and relevant to the reader. Promoting specific products and services can , and should, be secondary. If people know your offering and have positive opinions, they will bring their enquiries to you. ‘Joined-up’ drives traffic Don’t feel you need to say everything in your e-newsletter. By keeping the email short, it is easy for readers to scan to get your headline messages. If possible, link to more in-depth content on your website. By encouraging readers to visit your website to ‘Read More…’ they also then have the opportunity to browse around your site. ‘Joined-up’ works This graph shows traffic to the that is directly attributable to e-newsletters emailwebtraffic Guess when we send them! Email newsletters clearly deliver real web traffic. And never forget; more, relevant contact and more, relevant traffic means more enquiries means more business – This is what it is about!