For years and years the Americans have been very clever with phone numbers, using words to make them memorable, 1-800-468 3647* is quite tough to remember, but using the letters on a phone pad it instantly becomes 1-800 Hot Dogs, which is far more memorable. I also reckon that it made for quite a fight between businesses and telephone companies for the best numbers. The best we seemed to manage in the UK was the fight for “special” numbers – such as 0800 123123
And then came the mobile phone explosion, and the numbers you used were the ones handed out by your mobile phone company, there was no choice. Well, there was, but you had to hunt it down and “special” mobile phone numbers were expensive, because the providers knew the value.
For a long time, companies would display both landline and mobile numbers – and quite a few still do. However, for the last 5 years (maybe more) I have noticed that a lot of companies only use their mobile number. This is possibly sole traders and other businesses who work from home, or a home office. It enables them to easily keep business telephony separate from private. I’ve worked with many people who have 2 mobile phones, 1 for business and the other for personal calls.
I’ve noticed that more and more sign written vans only have a mobile number on them, and in my opinion, this is a missed opportunity. And there are still people who won’t trust a company that only uses a mobile number simply because it used to shout “rogue trader” or similar, a company lacking any form of physical base.
Why should a mobile only number be a missed opportunity?
Simply put, a mobile phone is harder to remember than a geographic number. Mainly because we are familiar with geographic numbers, the one for our region for example. We might also be familiar with surrounding regional numbers and those from the major cities too, 020 for London and 0117 for Bristol for example). This familiarity makes a landline number easier to remember because all you have to do is remember the region and a 6 or 7 digit number (Swindon 123456 for example).
And this is the next benefit. If I see a tradespersons’ sign written van and it has a landline and mobile number, I’ll instantly know whether they are local to me, or “just visiting” and I’ll be far more likely to contact a local trade than one based elsewhere.
But landlines have their own issues too. If you change phone providers, move from one exchange region to another or move from one office to another you may not be able to “take” your landline number with you. This means you’ll have to update websites, your Socials, letter heads, compliment slips, business cards etc. Which is a very good reason for just using a mobile number.
Is there a better way to use phone numbers?
Get an IP (Internet Protocol) phone number. An IP number is a virtual phone number. It’s not associated with any telephone exchange but is based in the Internet. You can have a physical desk phone (but you need one that’s IP Phone capable, not a cheap £10 phone from Amazon). You can use your PC/Laptop/tablet instead. Simply set up an IP Phone App and configure it correctly, have a headset and microphone (Bluetooth is great) and your “good to go”. You can even take IP calls on your mobile phone, yes really. I’ve used a Sipgate number for more than 10 years now. 01793 238020. It’s moved with me from an office, to working from home and then when I got a different office it “came” with me too. I could have gone with Vonage, who offer a similar service. If you are a larger business, you might need something more sophisticated, and there are plenty to choose from and now the Video Conference provider, Zoom, has launched a very competitively priced IP Phone service too. Read about IP telephony on the Money Supermarket website.
And, best of all, when you move location you don’t have to do anything at all. Your phone number comes with you, wherever you choose to go. All you need is an internet connection.
You could even get an IP phone number for the next town/city that you want to expand in to, giving you a virtual presence there and making it even easier for potential clients to contact you.
If you need help with your telephony then I probably know enough to be able to point you in the right direction and if you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
*(1-800 being the US equivalent of a free phone number, known in the States as a Toll Free Number)
Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.
When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:
Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.
I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email email@example.com or give me a call on 01793 238020.
This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing. But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.
Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
What makes you different from your competition?
Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
How well do you treat your customers?
Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?
Have you built value into your pricing?
Are you competitive?
Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
How do you set your price?
Will you discount?
How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
What do your competitors do?
Keep It simple
How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
What are the opportunities to extend these?
If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?
Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
What type of leader are you?
What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.
One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:
Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
How effective is your sales process?
What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/
Physical Evidence (Brand)
Your brand is defined as
Signs by which you are known and remembered
A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
A reflection of personality
A statement of position.
Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?
Your brand is so much more than your logo. Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto? Will they recognise this as being part of the same business? Have you had your website made mobile friendly? Really important.
A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense.
Just a few from the hundreds of options
Face to face
Word of Mouth referral
Telesales as part of a process
Exhibitions and events
Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
Events and seminars
Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market? Don’t be dazzled by offers…
Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader? Are you making regular blog posts and updates? Have you considered more SEO, more PPC, back links, etc
Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
So then, back to the management version: Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.
Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.
But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.
Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just search Chief SEO Officer
*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”
A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.
But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.
And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.
From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines
Ask.com – Founded 1996
Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity
Baidu – Founded 2000
Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.
Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?
Bing – Launched 2009
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.
They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less
DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either.You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.
Ecosia – Founded 2009
Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine, and is actually CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.
Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.
Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.
Google – Founded 1996
Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK
Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.
Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.
Search-Wise – First Seen 2005
If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.
Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.
Start Page – Founded 1998
StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.
What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.
This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine
Yahoo – Founded 1994
Older than Google, once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.
In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine
Yandex – Founded 1997
Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.
Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.
In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches
What can you learn from this
The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.
What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility
If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.
Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.
Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.
This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.
As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.
However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.
By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.
By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.
Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.
In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.
And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)
Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.
Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.
How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?
How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.
Three Quality Metrics
For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,
Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale 0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare) 21% – 50% = Average +51% – Investigate
In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.
What should the site owner be doing
It’s really simple.
You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.
Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to
Place an order
Subscribe to a newsletter
Make contact to ask a question
Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.
Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – Saving £50 in my autumn 2020 Special Offer.
I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com and we’ll take it from there
Podcasting is simply the audio equivalent of blogging. It’s where you create an audio recording and share it across the internet
Why should you podcast
There are many reasons to podcast. Let’s start with learning types. We all have differing ways in which we acquire knowledge and information but the three primary ways are through the written word, through pictures and video and through listening. All three are equally valid and have their own, unique, benefits and co-exist comfortably alongside each other.
There’s been a huge increase in the range of podcasts over recent years, both the number of pods that you can find and the wide range of platforms that you can listen to them on. You can find Podcasts on Spotify, Apple platforms, Google and elsewhere – they are a simple way to reach a wider, different audience to those who may not receive your email newsletters, watch your videos or tune in to your social media.
How to podcast
You don’t need a sophisticated recording studio. Just a quiet room, a recording device and a decent microphone.
The easiest way to record a podcast is to simply use your phone with some audio recording software – there’ll be loads to choose from in your App Store.
It’s worth remembering that your phone’s microphone is optimised for phone calls and so may not give you the best quality. To overcome this it’s a good idea to invest in a better quality microphone – even more so if you are planning on including other people in your podcast. Tie clip, also known as lavalier microphones are a good place to start. Just make sure to buy one that has the right connection for your phone.
Although a phone is great for recording when you are out and about it’s not the easiest platform on which to edit your audio and my preferred route is to do the majority of recording on my PC and I use free software that’s called Audacity
If you have a laptop, you have a device with a microphone. If you use a webcam on a PC you have a microphone. However, these may not be the best microphones available simply because your recording quality will be heavily influenced by the room that you record in, and in a lot of cases your recording will sound as though it was recorded in a cave. Have a listen to the following clips to hear the difference a decent microphone makes to recording quality.
Once you have recorded, and edited, your Podcast you need to find a way to make it available on the internet.
There are many sites that you could consider. I use Podomatic – it has a free account that’s a good place to start. It also provides an RSS feed.
Click on the link if you want to understand more about RSS feeds but the reason why one is important is that it makes it relatively easy to get your podcast published on all the major podcasting platforms that include
And best of all, there’s no cost. It’s all FREE so all you have to do is market your podcast through your website, Social Media and every other platform that you use to reach your clients.
If you need help recording your Podcast – just get in touch. I can provide advice, help, support and even have a small Podcast studio. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there
I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.
Then people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. If you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.
Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.
As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter
SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords
This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claim that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.
In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites
SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density
If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.
Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.
If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit howe. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.
SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks
Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “Back Rub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.
When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.
That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.
For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.
If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.
Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking
“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was than no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.
As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.
From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details
SEO Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO
If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).
Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.
Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.
And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.
What’s the solution? The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.
SEO Myth 6 – SEO is dead
At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.
Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website
SEO Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days
It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.
If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.
And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.
SEO Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO
Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.
However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.
SEO Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors
When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.
I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.
The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?
SEO Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load
It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?
The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.
Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.
A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
SEO Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1
With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.
And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.
And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good
Joke 2 men in the forest were faced by a huge bear charging towards them. One gulps and says to the other “we can’t outrun this bear” and the other one says. “I know, but all I have to do is run faster than you……byeeeee”
SEO Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO
Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.
It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website
SEO Myth 13 – SEO is a one-time thing
No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.
SEO Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content
Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.
From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.
So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.
A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs
Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have
It looks as if we are looking not at the beginning of the end but at least the end of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. The government has slightly relaxed lock-down and hopefully will further relax things as the infection rate and number of deaths continues to fall.
There is no doubt that the UK government has thrown a vast sum of money supporting businesses with the aim of helping them survive coronavirus and ensure that they are able to restart and ramp up.
However, nobody knows how the economy will recover. There’s been talk of a quick return to business normality in a V shaped return.
However wise minds think it could be a U shape with the economy bobbing along the bottom until things pick up, a W shaped return should there be another peak of infection or even an L shaped recovery, which would be no recovery at all.
With over 20 years of supporting small businesses I have been through a number of recessions and know that businesses that really WANT to trade, and even increase their market, can do so provided their business is fit and well and ready to return to the fray.
What I do know is this, there will a lot of companies hunting for new business but a lot of them will have just re-opened and be hoping that what worked before lock-down will work post lock-down.
You have an opportunity to pull ahead of your competition
And it’s not difficult. You can take advantage of one of the government support packages to give your marketing activity a boot. The coronavirus Bounce Back loan is perfect for this.
If you are a small to medium sized business that has been effected by the pandemic then it is highly likely that you will be eligible. You must be
is based in the UK
established before 1 March 2020
adversely impacted by the coronavirus
And that’s it. The loan is 100% backed by the government and so the ultimate risk to lenders is negligible.*
You can borrow between £2,000 and 25% of your turnover, to a maximum loan of £50,000
And here come the best bits
There is nothing to pay for 12 months, and the loan attracts no interest either
Then you pay the balance back over up to 5 years at an extremely attractive interest rate of just 2.5%
What could you use the loan for
You could use the loan to play for a completely new website
You could use the loan to fund some training
You could use the loan to pay for professional support and consultancy
You could use the loan to pay for your SEO
You could use the loan to fund a Pay per Click campaign such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads etc
IT could be used to pay for a complete rebrand
Printing of marketing collateral
Running a mail shot campaign
You could could mix and match any from the above – as the following example demonstrates
New website – £3,000
12 months SEO support – £2,160
Google Ads campaign – £500/month -£6,000 for a year
12 months Social Media management – £2,880
12 months email marketing support – £2,160
Total £16,200 + VAT
You would pay nothing for the first 12 months
Then just £303.75 per month for 60 months bringing your total borrowing in at £17,229.38 – a loan cost of just £1,029.38*
That’s just £14.30 in interest per month, over the lifetime of the loan
If you wanted/needed less, here’s what £10,000 and £5,000 loans look like
Monthly Cost – £187.50
Total Cost – £10,635.42
Total Interest – £635.42
Monthly interest equivalent – £8.83
Monthly Cost – £93.75
Total Cost £5,317.71
Total Interest £317.71
Monthly interest equivalent £4.41
Don’t delay, start today
But I wouldn’t put it off. Only the government knows when the loans will need and your competitors may already be seizing this opportunity and as more companies take advantage the waiting list for your chosen professionals will be growing
Note that you are only eligible for one Bounce Back Loan so please make sure you have every eventuality covered.
I am yet to hit peak capacity but I’ve already had a couple of client take advantage of the Bounce Back Loan and have asked me to ramp up the marketing and coaching work that I do for them
So, don’t miss out – plan what you want to do. Get in touch for a quote, apply for your loan and then we can get started
Get in touch for an informal chat by email (email@example.com) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk. Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well
*Unfortunately, I can only offer this opportunity to businesses based in the UK. For international customers, my standard consultancy fee of £60.00 applies (paid in advance)
*I am not a financial adviser and you should take expert advice from your accountant, business adviser or other professional before proceeding. My figures come from the Lloyds Bank Bounce Back Loan Calculator
Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions accept no responsibility for any action that you might take after reading this post.
It seems that every week I am asked whether “X” would be a good thing to do, or perhaps “Y”. “What do you think Andy?”, “which path would you take?”
The reality is that even after 20 years of experience, I don’t know with any great certainty. All I can do is reflect on past experiences and understand how a particular course of historical action could be overlaid on contemporary actions and offer some thoughts and guidance.
The key question, though, is this. When it comes to most forms of marketing, how do we know what works and what doesn’t?
The reality is that we don’t – until we give it a try.
But before you try any form of new marketing activity you need to really understand your expectations. What do you want it to do and what do you NEED it to do. You should approach it with a plan in mind, the 6 Ws.
The 6 Ws
Who, What, Why, When, Where and hoW. There are loads of variations on a theme but here’s a simple example as to how the six Ws can help with the initial planning of your new campaign. And to use a cliche – “fail to plan, plan to fail”.
Who are you looking to reach (personas can really help identity and visualise your target market
What are you looking to sell to them
Why would they choose you as their supplier rather than your competition
When will they be ready to buy
Where will the marketing be posted/published?
How will the sale take place & delivery occur. How will you measure the performance.
You should always have a goal because, as the cliche says, “without a goal, how will you know when you have arrived”
The 6Ps could also apply – Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance
OK, I’m done with cliches, for now, back on topic.
I have worked with many people who strive for perfection. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the focus on perfection has a time and place. From a marketing perspective they
– have an idea
– create an outline,
– add flesh to the outline
– review it
– ask others to review their plan
– make changes to reflect people’s comments
– and go around the circle again & again
A camel is a horse designed by committee
Seeking absolute perfection can be a trap, the danger being that you want a horse but end up with a camel.
This often means that the plan at the end looks nothing like the initial plan, that the initial goals have become forgotten and the time taken to refine and finesse the plan means that key opportunities are missed or have made it likely that the plan will never be executed.
My preferred approach is to come up with the campaign aims, agree them with my client and quickly work back from there to understand the target market, which platforms they are likely to use and to understand the best ways to put my client in front of them.
I sometimes get it wrong. I’ll have explained my plans to the client and explained the risk. If a plan is going to fail I like it to fail fast. I accept that it’s OK for a plan to fail, it really is. However, this approach will only work with goals that are understood and research to understand why the goals were not met.
From there, you can take the learning, update and improve the campaign and go again.
So, Why IS marketing like the Space Race
NASA would follow the route to perfection. Testing each individual component of the Apollo program (for example) then they’d put some components in to a module and test the module. Then they’d put some modules together in to an assembly and test the assembly.
Then they’d put some assemblies together in to a stage and test the stage. Then they’d test the stages, assemble them in to a 365 ft tall tower of power and launch the rocket.
And even after all this testing there were still problems – look at Apollo 13, and the two Space Shuttle disasters for evidence.
Elon Musk and Space X take a different approach. Elon came up with the idea of a reusable rocket. It was designed, a rocket was launched – it failed. The reasons for failure were designed out of the next iteration. There was a different failure. The reasons were investigated and designed out and now launching, AND landing, Space X Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets is as near normal as you will find and progress continues.
At the time of writing Space X are planning on returning US Astronauts to the International Space Station using an American rocket for the first time since the Space Shuttle was withdrawn from service.
If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk.Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well
I am frequently asked “when should I stop doing my SEO?” I suspect that this is because people are looking to stop either working on their website or paying somebody else to do the Search Engine Optimisation on their website
The answer, which might not be easy listening for some, is that you can only stop when either you have taken over all of your competition, when all of your competition cease to exist, or Google stops updating the way it ranks websites and your business website sites at the top of Page 1
I agree that it would be great if one could create a website, ensure that it is fully search optimised, click “publish” and watch the magic happen as people flock to the website and make purchases or submit enquiries.
And a lot of businesses still think that this is the way that things should be done. Great thought, and money, is invested in the design, the content, the logo, the colours etc but SEO tends to be at the bottom of the list.
I have lost count of the times that I have been asked to optimise a new website and spent time with the owner discussing the changes that are required to ensure that the site can be effectively optimised, rather than just paying lip-service to the requirements.
Sometimes a root and branch rebuild is the only way forwards.
The reality is that SEO should be as an important part of the website planning, development and build as the thought put in to the logo, the colours used, the pages required etc. It should be there, from the beginning – not considered an afterthought.
And once optimised, many website owners think “that’s it, site optimised, job done”.
The problem is that it can take several months for the SEO to have an impact (see “how long does SEO take” for more info). And you will probably find that your site ins’t in the hallowed top spot on Page 1. Your site might not even be on Page 1 so more work will be required.
And while you are doing this, so will your competitors – they’ll be trying to beat your website and working on their sites so you will have to keep working on yours.
And then there’s all the changes and updates that Google makes to the way that it measures and ranks websites – you need to be on top of those in case any changes made by Google have a negative impact on your website. And Google makes, on average, 9-10 changes PER DAY, every day
You should ONLY stop your SEO when one of 3 states is reached
You take over ALL of your competition and prevent new startups from competing with you
Your business is so good that all of your competitors fail
You have reached the top of Page 1 and Google stops changing things
Daily changes to Google Search
In 2018 Google ran over 654,000 experiments. These will have been carried out by Google’s AI engines, trained external Search Raters and live tests. The outcome being 3,234 improvements to search, or 9 a day
We’ll never get to know, and understand, the majority of these improvements because most of them will be tweaks to the system. However, significant changes are often announced by Google or can be tracked by businesses interested in Google’s updates and quite a few people have published lists of known algorithm updates such as here, here and here.
Carry out any search on Google and you’ll be presented with millions of results. Even a search for “jumpers for rats” returns over 6m results.
And we know, or should know, that a Page 1 result is all that really matters.
Why do Page 1 search results matter so much
That’s really simple to answer. Research shows how few Google users EVER make it off Page 1 of the search results – as delineated on the graph below by the dotted line at “10” – and just 10% make it on to Page 3
Maintain, Maintain, Maintain. Keeping your site up to date
Once launched, your website is never “finished”. You need to be constantly checking to make sure that it’s performing as required, and investigating where it is performing poorly and put solutions in place.
You need to be frequently adding fresh content (a blog/news page for example), an “un-maintained site is a doomed site” as they say – and Google emphasise this on its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
Some websites are not maintained or cared for at all by their webmaster. These “abandoned” websites will fail to achieve their purpose over time, as content becomes stale or website functionality ceases to work on new browser versions. Un-maintained websites should be rated Lowest if they fail to achieve their purpose due to the lack of maintenance.
In 20 years of SEO I have only had to re-skill myself about 20 times to stay current and up to date. The ONLY thing that hasn’t changed is that SEO is always changing. If your website fails to stay current then your website will wither on the Google vine.
The good sites will prosper, the poor sites – owned by lazy businesses – will be left behind. SEO is not just for Christmas
If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (email@example.com) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk.Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well
Even with Corona Virus you shouldn’t make knee jerk decisions with your marketing budget.
Remember, In the middle of the storm it can be difficult to see anything but chaos but the storm will pass. Your best defence is to do everything that you can to still be standing when the storm passes.
The purpose of this post is to give you some marketing things that you can be thinking about during these troubled times and to make an offer that will save you £50.00 on one of my services so that your website can come fighting fit on the other side of the Corona Virus pandemic.
When I was working as a business consultant during the 2008 recession I heard of many businesses who chopped their marketing budgets as a reaction to the turn-down. They then wondered why they weren’t attracting any new business and as their competitors recovered they were left behind.
Businesses that I was working with at the time recognised that there was an opportunity to step in to the gap left by companies which appeared to have disappeared. They took more considered action, reduced their marketing budget and put plans in place to ramp marketing back up once it was clear that the recession was coming to an end.
This put these clients in a prime position and they went on to prosper.
In these troubled times this is the action that you should consider. I know that times are dark, and likely to get darker, but if we don’t think positively and plan to still be here when the Covid-19 pandemic recedes then I know that some of us won’t be in business when that time comes around.
The role technology plays in business continuation
Working from home, and in self-isolation, will be new to many people. Technology will have provided you with an opportunity to work from wherever you, and your staff, are with the only requirements being a device (desktop/laptop, phone or tablet) and an internet connection.
Cloud based audio and video conference solutions help maintain teams and enable client communications. Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, Slack, WhatsApp and more prove both free and subscription options to communicate, train, make presentations and simply remain in touch.
As more of us work form home it’s likely that online search behaviour will change as more people mix business searches with personal during their working day.
How will your business cope?
As with any crisis, how your company responds is key, are you calm and taking action or are you panicking?
Either way, here are a number of things that you can be working on when faced with the current situation
Stay ahead of your competition
If you pause your marketing activities and your competitors don’t who do you think will be in a prime position when things begin to improve? Stay in touch with your clients using eMail, Video and Social Media, Keep an eye on search trends, are there any opportunities that you can make use of.
Remember that SEO is a long term strategy
I know that SEO is one of the services that I provide but it is worth remembering that it IS a long term strategy, taking weeks or months to have a proper impact so give your Search Engine Optimisation due consideration when reviewing your marketing budget. Google’s servers and algorithms won’t be taking a break.
Don’t buy cheap SEO
I know that it might be tempting to take up one of those “all you can eat” SEO offers at £75.00 per month but the risk to your business could be a lot greater than the small amount of money that you’d save. As the marketplace improves you could find yourself left with no rankings, no traffic to your website and possibly penalties from Google from trying to game the system.
Move offline marketing spend online
If people aren’t going out and about they are not going to be looking at advertising hoardings and billboards. They’re not going to be seeing “in-store” marketing either so think about whether you could shift some of your offline budget online to make up for this.
Understand search trends
By understanding trends in search you’ll be in an ideal position to leap on any opportunities and’or changes in direction. By keeping an eye on how people are searching you’ll be able to create content that meets the needs of those searchers. Google Trends is a really great way to stay on top of this
Produce more digital content
Consider using this as an opportunity to create those webinars you’ve been thinking of. By 2025 research is estimating that online learning will be worth about $158 Bn. Lessons learned now will be incredibly valuable going forward. Think about adding video conferencing and video calling to your communication options to reduce face-to-face meeting but stay in touch with key contacts, potential clients and your market.
Free 40 minute Website and SEO Consultancy
I’m still offering my Free Consultancy sessions and am more than happy to conduct them over the phone or by video link
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