6 Tips to help you get the best return on your investment

22 May 2009 by Kevin Holdridge  
Filed under News and views

You did it. You got yourself a website because prospects and customers kept asking for your web address. And you’d heard how much business small companies could generate from a website. So, you paid a Web developer handsomely for a beautiful site with the latest Flash animations, or had your brother-in-law build it on the cheap.

But your site’s been up for a while and it hasn’t brought you any business. What’s gone wrong? Here are the six things you can do for maximum results.

1 Make it part of your marketing strategy

Be clear what you want the website to do for you and then make sure it’s designed to do that well, whether reaching new customers, providing new services to improve customer relationships or improve cross-selling and repeat orders.

As with any marketing medium, your site must focus on your customers’ interests – not yours. Your site should be easy to use and tell customers exactly what they need to know.

2 Promote a positive image and user experience

Get the basics right so you don’t alienate users. Ensure the site looks professional, works properly, doesn’t oblige the user to install extra software and is user friendly. Websites that are too slow, crash in the middle of the transaction or ask for unnecessary information will alienate users.

3 Embrace Internet marketing

Google currently indexes billions of web pages. For your site to be found by customers and prospects you need to get your Internet marketing right.

The site itself should be optimised to get the best possible results in the search engines for your target keywords. A competent web developer can make sure the site is designed and built optimally. But, you also need to make sure that the text is well written for optimisation and is regularly updated. Use a web-savvy copywriter for best effect.

Get links to your website included on other relevant sites. Done correctly, this will improve your results in the search engines. You might even consider temporarily buying links on premium sites to get a quick initial boost.

Done properly, pay-per-click advertising is easily the most focused, cost-effective, and measurable marketing tool in history. You can easily dip a toe in the water through a small-budget Google AdWords campaign.

4 Reach out – use email

Websites only work when a user goes to them (the ‘pull’ effect). Get better results by combining the ‘push’ approach of using email to reach out to customers and prospects. It’s easy and cheap to reach people through email, and especially email newsletters.

5 Be sticky

'Stickiness’ is a measure of how well a website encourages users to keep coming back. There are some tried-and-tested ways of building stickiness:

  • Regularly give things for free (maybe a downloadable briefing paper or promotional offer). The cost to you can be small with online delivery.
  • Provide an online customer helpdesk
  • Build an area for customers only where they can get access to premium resources
  • Add new and relevant information

6 Stay fresh

Make sure you have good content management facilities so it is quick and easy to update the content and structure of your site without having to pay – and wait for – your web developer to do it for you. Then have a plan to ensure you make at least monthly updates.

Kent House offers a free no-strings appraisal of your site with recommendations for improvement. If you’d like some advice on how to get more from your web investment, give us a call on 0845 638 0700 or drop us an email at info@kenthouse.com.

Search Engine Market Share

This is just a very quick check in to give you the latest update on Search Engine Market Share.

Google is still number one with a share of 73.32% of the search market. Yahoo! comes in distant second with 15.78%. Ask, MSN and Live are at 3.93%, 3.52% and 2.11% respectively.

Although Google has the largest share, it is important to remember that 16% of the world’s internet surfers is a HUGE number and one which could make you millions – moral of the story, don’t forget the little guys when thinking about search marketing. The almost frenzied need to get to page one and number one on Google should not overshadow the fact that  Yahoo!, Ask, MSN and Live are equally as important and worthy of a certain percentage (maybe 16%?) of your time!

Google AdWords Professional

logo_qualified_ind_801Last week I passed my Google AdWords exam and have to admit that it was an unwelcome return to my university days of blind panic and “have I done enough??”.  However, panic was unnecessary, I passed and I have the logo to prove it.

There is remarkably little online outside of Google itself that can help you towards acquiring the accreditation and this really surprised me, surely with the number of people out there working in SEO and PPC someone would have written something, a cheat sheet some detailed help but no! One thing did seem to crop up time and again on forums and blogs– a general consensus that the questions are vague and open to interpretation. I could not agree more and this increases the difficulty of the exam considerably.

However drawing on my experience and the fact that I had swotted up on all things AdWords related in the AdWords Learning Centre, I passed and am safely among the ranks of the qualified for another two years.

If you have any PPC or SEO questions, give me a call or send me an email, I am always happy to help.

Search Engine Optimisation FAQs

17 February 2009 by Yvonne Conway  
Filed under Search Engine Optimisation

Whenever a prospective client comes to meet with us about a new SEO Project they always have a list of questions relating to their SEO Campaign and I have compiled a list of the most popular questions below. Hopefully after reading through them you will get a better idea about the limits and the benefits of SEO and perhaps start to see how it could help you and your business.

Can search engine optimisation techniques be applied to any website?

Yes, as long as your site is not password protected as this will not let the search engine spiders collect information about your site. Poor website design and development, as well as unsuitable website technologies can also hinder the search engine spiders. As search engine optimisation is used to improve a spider’s ability to index sites more easily, this would be achieved by removing these barriers when the website is redeveloped.

Will the appearance of my website change after it has been optimised?

This will depend on the structure and coding of the site. Usually, the coding and underlying navigational structure can be improved for search engine optimisation without changing the appearance of the website.
Changes to the look of the website may only be necessary if it uses elements that cannot be replicated by the use of alternative techniques. These include elements such as frames, JavaScript navigation, Flash, dynamic content, or pages that require the user to login in order to see the content. However, in most cases, the use of alternate techniques and coding can mean that the look of your pages remain visually unchanged.

How do you know which keywords and phrases should be used?

Firstly we take a list of keywords and phrases provided by the client. As the client is an expert in their field, they often have a vast knowledge about their clients, products, services and customers, which leads to the generation of the first keywords and phrases list.
Secondly, the words and phrases are analysed and the KEI (Keyword Efficiency Index) is generated for each of them. This is a statistical score that is generated from the number of times the word or phrase is searched for, against the number of competing pages. This allows us to see which words and phrases would be best used on your site, and for which search engines it would be best for.
Thirdly, after seeing our evidence-based report advising you which keywords and phrases will be the best for you, you make the decision which ones you want to use and which ones you don’t.

What is the difference between ethical and unethical Search Engine Optimisation?

Ethical search engine optimisation involves using only high-ranking keywords and phrases that are relevant to the content of the website in order to improve its position on search engines result pages (SERPS).
Unethical search engine optimisation involves deliberately using high-ranking keywords and phrases that are unrelated to the content of the site in order to misdirect traffic to the site and artificially inflate the website’s ranking in the search results. This reduces a search engine’s ability to return relevant search results, and so many of the main search engines have identified a number of search engine optimisation techniques that are unacceptable to use on web pages. If a search engine finds that a website has used these techniques, they may impose a ranking penalty or ban the site from their index.
An ethical search engine optimisation will not involve any technique that is recognised as being unacceptable to any search engine and our company takes pride in offering the most ethical SEO services to our customers.

How quickly can you see the results from the search engine optimisation?

Unfortunately, it can take some time for search engine optimisation to generate results. It depends on a number of factors, but primarily the competitiveness of the keywords and keyphrases used in the search engine optimisation. This can be anything from under a month for uncompetitive key phrases, from 3-6 months to get into the top 30 of a large search engine, or up to a year to achieve stable first page rankings in the main search engines. On average, Google requires an extra three months to get the same results. We therefore recommend that clients who need instant website traffic initially have a “pay-per-click” advertising campaign alongside the SEO.

I have been with an SEO Company for the past year, but still have a page rank of 0 and I am not appearing anywhere near the first page on Google – why is that?

Like most web related areas, SEO has a number of unethical companies promising first page results and high page ranks in the first few months but delivering very little. This poses a huge problem for both the client and experienced SEO companies offering good results based on genuine research and hard work!
In order to combat this what we would suggest is asking your SEO company to deliver regular reports on your website’s performance for a set of targets that you set, this way you can challenge the results they are getting for you and you will soon know what type of company you are dealing with! However, be realistic in your goals and know that you are never going to be top of the search results for very competitive keywords like “toys” or “bikes”. A good SEO company will be able to target keywords that suit your company and which you have a realistic chance of doing well with.

I want to appear top of Google by next week – what can I do?

Using organic SEO, this is not going to be possible for you to achieve and do not believe anyone who tells you it is. In a situation like this when you are not willing to wait for organic SEO to take its course you should look at Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising. This is a great way to get yourself on the first page of Search Engines overnight. People are often worried about PPC because they are not aware that you can set a daily budget for the amount of money you want to spend, this means that you will not end up with a huge bill at the end of your campaign. Instead you can monitor or get an outside company such as Kent House to monitor your campaign on a weekly basis and judge how successful it is for you and make little tweaks that can have a big impact on your results.

Understanding SEO and other nasty internet marketing acronyms

30 January 2009 by Yvonne Conway  
Filed under Search Engine Optimisation

Before I get started let’s deal with SEO, Search Engine Optimisation. It is easy for those of us in the know to talk about SEO, SEM, PPC, CPC, keywords and so on but are we aware that there is a whole world of people out there (some of them marketers!) who do not talk in acronyms, do not understand them and do not therefore understand us?!
As a marketer, I am always keen to ensure my message is being understood so for my first few blog entries I am going to do a basic jargon buster and SEO breakdown to help people understand the ABCs and 123s of SEO and other internet marketing abbreviations and terms. Of course I’m not going to make you an expert in a few short articles but perhaps in future it will save you from being “acronym-ed out” of high-brow marketing conversations!

The Internet Marketing Jargon Buster

SEO        Search Engine Optimisation

The act of “optimising” your website so that it appears higher in search engine results for your chosen keywords. In its most basic form, this involves working with your website to improve content, architecture, labelling and ease of navigation as well as getting some relevant inbound links to your site. It can also include the length of time your website has been in existence for, your page rank and your hosting provider. Search Engine Optimisation does not occur overnight but can take from 3 to 6 months to see any improvement – but it is well worth the effort!

PPC        Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click advertising is a fantastic way to achieve 1st page Search Engine results overnight. Things I love about PPC include the ability to set a campaign budget, set maximum cost per click values and how trackable it is! Most of the major search engines offer this service from Google’s AdWords to Yahoo!’s Search Marketing to Microsoft’s adCentre.

CPC        Cost Per Click

Cost Per Click is a PPC Advertising term and basically means the amount of money it will cost or does cost you when someone clicks on your advert. With most PPC Advertisers you can set the maximum amount of money you are prepared to spend for a click for each of your keywords (yet another reason I love PPC Advertising!).

SEM        Search Engine Marketing

This term covers both SEO and PPC and deals with any marketing activity involved with improving your position in the Search Engines. It is also worth noting that some people are only referring to PPC Campaigns when they talk about this.

Keywords

I guess I am now as guilty as everyone else, I have used this term several times already and you may not know what I’m talking about – sorry! There must be some words and phrases that you want to be found under when a searcher searches – very simply put, they are your keywords. They may include your business name, your main product and service and some other details about you such as “books – next day delivery”. Before you start optimising your site you need to come up with a list of keywords and then work your optimisation strategy around these words and phrases.

Impressions

Everyday millions of searches are done online, each time someone searches for a keyword you have included in a PPC Campaign and it is shown on the search results page that is an impression – you should not be charged in PPC for impressions just for Clicks. Impressions are also a measurement used by online publishers who sell advertising space on their site for example www.thesundaytimes.com. They will sell advertising space – banners, skyscrapers and buttons – based on the number of impressions your advert will get.

CTR    Click Through Rate(s)

Leading nicely on from impressions… Click Through Rates take the number of clicks your advert has had and express it as a percentage of the number of impressions your advert has had. CTRs can sometimes look depressingly low but it is very dependant upon what the nature of your business is and also how much competition there is in your area.

These are the basic terms used in internet marketing but I will delve deeper into each topic as 2009 progresses. If you have any questions on SEO or would like me to do an article on any particular marketing subject send me a quick email to yvonne.conway@kenthouse.com and I will be happy to oblige!

The dangers of do it yourself search engine optimisation

4 November 2008 by Kevin Holdridge  
Filed under Search Engine Optimisation

SEO and the DIY electrician

I’ve always thought search engine optimisation (SEO) is a bit like electrics. If you’re brave enough, willing to read up on the basics, prepared to buy some tools, and have the time to spare, you can probably do most home electrical work yourself (let’s ignore the legal requirements for certification right now as they get in the way of this slightly tortured analogy). Read more