Tag Archives: SEO

How to survive the end of the world in 2012

5 Dec

Monk watching tidal wave in 2012

I read this very enlightening post on B2C entitled The Future of Marketing: 46 Experts Share Their Predictions For 2012.

I suggest you take a look.

One thing that everyone can agree on is that no one agrees on anything.

The future of marketing next year is either mobile, social media, consumer data, results, apps, targeting advertising, KPI, brand control or one of several dozen other must-haves.

There is a sense of intense singularity around what you need to do next year to survive. So where does that leave you? Do everything and cover off all the bases?

The future is a snake in your sleeping bag. The instinct is to thrash around and try to kick the living crap out of the thing. But maybe it’s better to just lie still and assess.

Here at least are 4 essentials components of success in marketing in 2012. And surprise, they’re no different than 2011.

1. Ensure your website is killer. By that I mean engaging, simple to navigate and constantly updated. It is your most important selling tool, likely your first impression and the hub of all your marketing efforts.

2. Have an SEO strategy in place. Google “Marketing and advertising Victoria BC” and see what comes up first. Optimum search placement is the result of a smart SEO strategy. No point having a killer website without this one.

3. Offer a mobile-friendly website. No point having a killer website and a smart SEO strategy without one of these. Don’t have one? Drop me a note and we’ll get you one toot sweet.

4. Invest in knowing your customer better. Spend some time and some money on this because content might be king, but knowledge is power. And kings get assassinated by their snaggle-toothed lieutenants all the time.

If you’re doing all four, you can focus on growth and stop thinking about just surviving.

Good luck to your business in 2012!

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Is SEO now a complete waste of time?

17 Nov

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is the mystic – or so the ‘gurus’ will have you believe – art of ensuring your website’s content is found organically by search engines and clambers to the top of search results. To clarify, when I say search engines, the efforts of SEO experts are generally focused on one search engine, the omnipresent Google. This is understandable as the SEO industry was born alongside Google and like the Pilot fish, has been swimming alongside, feeding off its oblivious benefactor ever since.

But has Google switched direction leaving the SEO experts out in the cold(water)? This may sound like a statement to bait a response – sorry I’ll leave the fish analogy here – but try typing ‘mobile phone’ into Google and what do you see? It’s probably something like this:

Google kills Search Engine Optimisation SEO

This is a screenshot from my desktop PC. The area inside the black tint is the full extent of a browser maximised for a typical 1024 x 768 screen, the green speech bubble is from the first organic result after web-traffic giant wikipedia which is nearly always going to appear first.

What this example shows is that three quarters of the available content space is devoted to ads. The organic – or non paid – links start appearing way down the page, below the initially visible screen real estate! This is fine if your digital marketing strategy is to ‘hope-users-ignore-everything-that-first-appears and scroll-down-to-find-your-result’. Good luck with that!

Is this indicative of a move away from organic search listings? Not quite – would you still visit Google if all you got was ads? It’s still going to provide relevant content to users, but the balance has definitely shifted to showing you relevant paid ads over relevant organic results.

The argument that Google is prioritising paid content is enforced if you look at your analytics. In October Google announced that for non Google verified sites it will no longer show you what keywords people used to get to your site organically (here’s a clearer analysis of the announcement). These ‘referer’ links are like gold dust for website owners and provide you with free keyword analysis with which you can further optimise your site.

Returning to the original premise. Is SEO a waste of time? Well, if your product or service is in a saturated or crowded market, and if you’re relying on your website’s organic performance in Google search results to drive business then there’s a good chance the answer is yes.

However, the good news, for the moment, is that SEO for organic traffic is still worth pursuing if your product or service is not in a fiercely competitive market. From my tests, search results for non saturated markets attract fewer, or no ads leaving plenty of space for your business listing to compete organically. A good SEO strategy will keep your content fresh, which will always appeal to customers and encourage repeat visits to your site. Additionally, if you buy  keyword based ads with Google, the cost of your ads is in part determined by the relevance of the content on your website.

Moving forward, to me it seems that to ensure your business gets found online you will soon need to widen your focus. Worry less about your placement in organic search results and start budgeting for keyword based ads. With Google starting to withdraw the freebies, the ad space is going to get more competitive. Unless you’ve Apple’s cash pile this means that the stakes are raised for every dollar of your online advertising budget.  Keyword analysis, online copy-writing, integrated marketing strategy and media expertise – to place, monitor and optimise the ads – are all going to be more important.

The free ride is coming to an end.

5 things a small business should be doing to weather the storm

23 Dec

Yes it’s a slog for many small businesses at the moment.

Tourists are staying home. Consumer spending is enjoying a brief holiday spike but we can all guess what that hangover is going to feel like. Rents are high; the competition are slashing their prices.

But the strong will survive and you can be one of them. There are 5 things you absolutely can and should be doing right now to boost your business and create sunnier days ahead.

1. Optimize the content on your website. You need to perform well for the Google masters. Your home page should be rich with searchable terms and you need to refresh your content constantly. These tactics have been shown time and again to boost your performance in search. Your customers will be looking online and there is every reason why you should make a good Search Engine Optimization strategy your first priority.

2. Market yourself. You need to let people now you’re there. When everyone else pulls their marketing budgets to weather the storm, there’s your opportunity to have a more dominant voice in the market. And take advantage of some great media offers. They’re hurting for business too. Otherwise, you’re invisible. Never a good business strategy.

(Christmas ad for a Victoria business created by Copeland)

3. Blog. Oh I know: you’re tired of hearing about blogs. You don’t really care that a website with a blog gets 55% more traffic than a website without, why should you? Could it have anything to do with the content optimization point above? More than that. A blog invites your customers into your business by offering them your expertise and seeking their comments. You are creating engagement when you blog, which in human terms means you are building relationships. Always a good business strategy.

4. Build relationships in social media. You are doing it already of course, so there is nothing that needs to be said here. Will it lead to the short-term wins you need to keep the doors open? Only if you have a strategy in place for all the social media time you are investing. Don’t have a strategy? Tch. Call me.

5. Learn. Do not spend another moment feeling sorry for yourself or bemoaning the state of the economy. There are people out there who know more than you do and can help you get your business in gear. Seek them out. Ask people you trust to recommend consultants, speakers, seminars – ad agencies too. Things are changing fast in the world of marketing. You need to get up to speed because the days of same old-same old are done.

How many of the 5 are you already doing?

(Artwork courtesy of explodingdog)