Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Online Predictions for SMEs for 2011

by Kathryn Richards

As 2010 comes to an end, I’ve just read a great article over at Mashable with some predictions for Small Businesses online next year.

Here’s my take on 2 of the biggest trends that are coming for 2011: - 1 - Increased Spending on Websites and - 2 - More Focused Social Media Efforts.

1. Increased Spending on Websites

It’s definitely true that smart business owners are now recognising the importance in not only having a website – but a website that gets found in Google. Having a website is not a “one-off” cost – but an on-going project – involving managing your online presence through online marketing.

I think the power and control over websites will also be highlighted in 2011. Smart business owners are now realising they not only need a well-designed, search-engine friendly website – but they need to be in control of it. This means a CMS (content management system) that is both simple and easy to manage. This control is essential both from a SEO point of view (Google loves fresh content) and an empowerment perspective (in-house generated content can not only be more valuable but can also valorise employees).

Another focus is linked to this, for me, will be sustainable web design. With the significant rise in the quantity and diversity of internet browsing devices, respecting web standards (best practices such as W3c validation, accessible code, use of CSS for style…) will be no longer a “nice-to-have” – but an absolute necessity. The same goes for extensive testing for the same reasons – what works in Internet Explorer on a PC may not in Safari on an IPad.

2. More Focused Social Media Efforts :
2010 = Testing, 2011 = Refining the strategy

  
This is another great prediction. 2010 has indeed been a year of experimentation, and testing of the many, many social media platforms and opportunities out there. I think for the beginning of 2011, this will continue. Now is the time for businesses to get out there, see what works best, test, make mistakes and learn from it. By the end of 2011, making mistakes on core platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will no longer be acceptable and may be costly in terms of brand reputation.

In this learning process, both agencies and business owners will certainly be focusing and refining their Social Media efforts. Whereas now, they may have over half a dozen icons flashing next to their blog, in 2011 they will be identifying the platforms that work best for them. It’s simply not necessary – or even efficient – to have a presence everywhere (especially for SMEs) – but instead to be in the same place(s) that your consumers are.

Not only will Social Media campaigns be more focused – but they will be more measured. While, like any PR campaign, it will remain hard to calculate the exact ROI, businesses will certainly be tracking their statistics – whether this is ultimately the amount of sales generated, or indeed in terms of brand management - the amount of reviews left on their e-commerce website, the amount of “likes” on their Facebook page, or the amount of leads generated through networking on Twitter.

The phenomenal speed of development on Facebook means that with the possibilities available with Facebook pages – resulting in almost a “micro-website” within Facebook – mean that businesses will certainly be exploiting this in 2011. Look out for updates to the Art Division Facebook page in the following weeks ;-)


… read here the 5 predictions for Small Business in 2011 (including Increased Adoption of Cloud Computing, Social Shopping and E-Commerce Advancements and the Smartphone Revolution).

Let me know what you think – which trend will have the most impact on your business?

And a Happy New Years from everyone at Art Division !

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

LinkedIn: The Best of Web Video

by Kathryn Richards

LinkedIn has currently over 80 million members, and is considered the world’s largest business network.

Not yet convinced of the opportunities LinkedIn can offer you? Or maybe you have a profile but want to maximise your use – getting introduced to great contacts, expanding your network and building up an impressive online resume – backed up by references, connections and an impressive profile.

Here’s our summary of the best videos on the web to help you with this. Any other videos that should be on this list? Let us know!


Why Join LinkedIn?
Before we even start, watch this video which really explains the power of LinkedIn and your motivation to join.




What is LinkedIn?
The best place to start, as you would expect, is LinkedIns own channel on YouTube. It’s also a great example of business use of YouTube! It has lots of helpful videos, with tips and how-tos.
This video takes you through the basic functionalities of LinkedIn, in simple English.




To Search for a New Job
This video explains simply how to make the most of your second degree contacts – which are likely to be the people that can help you the most in your search.




How to optimise your profile for SEO
Let’s not forget – your profile on Linkedin is an important part of your own, personal web presence. Do you like what you find when you Google your name? Well, having an up to date, completed Linkedin profile is an important step on the way.




LinkedIn Groups
Groups can be based on industry, alumni or professional networks. They’re a great opportunity to share and get involved in discussions with like-minded professionals. Some of the largest groups have hundreds of thousands of members -but be sure not to overlook smaller, localised groups which may in fact offer you better networking opportunities.




Ready to take the next step in LinkedIn? We've already done the hard work for you - here are some great resources to help you on your way:

7 Ways to Get More Out of LinkedIn - Mashable
Where's Waldo? Getting found on LinkedIn - Marketing Profs
10 ways to get ahead on LinkedIn - Econsultancy

Finally, read here about how we successfully used LinkedIn to recruit a new member of the Art Division team back in September and also here to Art Division on LinkedIn

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Power of Testimonials

In the past months, online retailers have really been emphasising customer reviews, feedback and testimonials on their websites. After making a purchase online, it’s even become normal to receive a follow-up e-mail encouraging you to leave a review on their website. Amazon, Topshop, Accessorize… all the big names are doing it. Elsewhere, even the BBC iPlayer website is asking you to make and share reviews and recommendations with your social networks.

How can you integrate the power of testimonials into your online presence?

Your company website is the most obvious place to display testimonials. Of course, the more specific they are, the better.

1 -I enjoyed working with Art DivisionA happy client.

2 - “What I liked most about working with Art Division was the speed and efficiency in dealing with requests, their expert advice and the face to face communication with the team.Donald Ingham, Outerspace Garden Design

Option 2 is clearly better here as we, as potential clients, understand not only why it was a good experience – but the specific reasons. Giving a full name, company, and a photo when possible all add to the credibility and value of the testimonial. Of course, check first with the client their permission to publish their comments. 

Consider not only having a page especially for testimonials, but also weaving them through the site – for example in a side bar - to catch the readers’ eye. Details are important, but they do need to be readable - keep them to 5 lines or so when possible. If you have a very long testimonial, break it up and use different parts in different places over your site.

Taking it further

A testimonial could be for example a twitter feed managed by an employee or group of connected employees – leading to real social media success. It gives potential clients an “insight” into your company – the chance to get to know a little about you and your culture.

Elsewhere, it could be a review of your product or service on your Google places entry – here is displayed not only reviews that  clients have left specifically on Google places, but also a selection of reviews on your company from around the web. When you do a Google search for your industry in your geographical location e.g. “my industry + town”, do you like what you find?

We haven’t stopped hearing about the power of video this year – why not add video testimonials to your youtube channel or company website? Videos give that much more credibility than a short paragraph of text.

Testimonials can be considered the most powerful type of marketing copy – how will you integrate them into your online presence?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

5 Inspiring Corporate Blogs

by Kathryn Richards

What makes an amazing company blog? Here are some examples of blogs that have caught my eye recently. Get inspired!

PatagoniaThe Cleanest Line
The Cleanest Line has a great mixture of content that is sure to catch the readers eye – not like some blogs with paragraph after paragraph of black text. Here we find an eye-catching mixture of images, video, plenty of cool outbound + inbound links. Not only this, but lots of fresh ideas and opinions, “guest posts”, interactivity and personal accounts. This blog is far from corporate – but at the same time, gives a good, personal impression of the company, and might just make you click through to their site.


innocentDaily Thoughts
Brilliant content, aimed at engaging and interacting with readers. Plenty of photos, thoughts and updates that really give you an insight into the innocent world. As we’ve mentioned before, innocents online presence is surely not only engaging and strengthening its already loyal “family” or fanbase, but also converting passive consumers into active brand ambassadors.


Fiskars Fiskateers
This blog is a great example of engagement. Not only with employees – who are clearly passionate about the products – but also readers. Handling and encouraging comments is key with blogs into turning readers into a community – which is brilliantly illustrated here. The content is also full of added value – full of tutorials, tips and ideas for craft products.


Kodak A Thousand Words
We like this blog as it focuses not on the product (the camera) but the stories created with it by consumers (the photos).
“A Thousand Words is a place for stories from the people of Kodak.”
It is very personal – for each post, the author’s name, position and photo is displayed – you can also click through to their bio. The huge range of bloggers involved suggests high employee engagement – and that they really are empowered in making the blog a success. The range of types of blog posts – updates, how-to guides, personal stories, “photo of the week” is also impressive.


UHandbag- Uhandblog
This is my favourite example, as it is a true small business success story – and I think blogging has been a huge part in this success. The blog is full of how-to guides, advice and updates on making handmade bags and purses, illustrated by plenty of photos, and free PDF instructions. Each post is followed by plenty of comments by happy consumers, or readers asking questions. The sidebars are also very well designed, linking not only to Facebook, Twitter etc, but also to the authors bio, the online shop, and a sign-up for the newsletter.

Which other blogs should be on this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments !

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Focus on : Search Engines

So. Why do I even need to be at the top of Google?

Some interesting statistics for you (thanks to Search Light Digital!) from a study involving nearly 37 million searches, highlighting the percentage of clicks each natural search result is likely to get.



1st place = 42% of natural search clicks
2nd place = 12%
3rd place = 8%
4th place = 6%
5th place = 5%

Top result on page #2 = 0.7 of total clicks

What does this mean?

It’s important to be at the top.

As seen from the statistics, if you're not in the top 3 results, you’re not going to get many click-thoughs. Do bear in mind though, that the search term can be specific e.g. geographically. For example, Art Division is in the top 3 results for “website design Wimbledon”, and even though we’re not in the top 3 for the key phrase “web design”, we still get lots of search engine traffic!

Search engine optimisation means optimising the content of your website, for the relevant keywords you wish to be found for in the search engines. Here it’s great to get the opinion of a professional – this can make all the difference in your search engine success – they’ll be able to give you individual advice on the appropriate keywords/ phrases you should be optimising your site for. Read more in our post about selecting keywords.

Consider how your result will be displayed.

Shocking statistic: almost 50% of searchers in the study did not click on any result at all! This really highlights not only the need to appear at the top of Google, but also need to consider how your result will be displayed.

Let’s have a quick look at how to optimise the appearance of your result.





1. The Title
- This needs to describe clearly and accurately your page and/or website.
- Keep the length to 70 characters
- Read more about page titles here
2. Text displayed
- Google more normally displays here your Meta Description
- So make sure it is interesting + relevant !
- Learn more in our post about optimising your Meta description

You need to monitor and improve your rankings

Being at the top of Google today doesn’t mean you’ll still be there tomorrow!
The best strategy? Update your site frequently with brilliant content. Not only will visitors want to come back, but they’ll also want to link to your site.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Social Media – the importance of a call to action

by Kathryn Richards

“Social Media” is certainly the buzz phrase in business this year. Everyone has heard about it, is pressured to “be on it” and “have a presence”. But even the biggest names can (and do!) get it wrong…

I recently heard from a colleague about a strategic meeting for an online campaign. The quantifiable target of the proposed new online campaign (with a significant investment involved) was to “get more fans on our Facebook fan page than our industry competitors”.

I was pretty shocked for several reasons. Firstly, the Facebook fan page in question was not even an official page managed by the company (a large multinational) –and surprisingly this didn’t seem to be a concern. Secondly, the strategy of the campaign was based entirely on having a presence “because our competitors do”. But what’s more, there was no benchmark of community management, or plan of how these fans would be engaged/ called to action.

This is completely missing the point of Social Media --> interaction and engagement!

Social Media campaigns (whether they be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc…), just like any other online marketing strategy, need to have a clear goal. This could be to engage users, to inform them about your brand, to encourage them to buy your product, to get click-throughs to your website or to create a “buzz” around a specific product.

Social Media Case Study - Green & Blacks


The campaign “a piece of Green & Blacks” was launched in October, with the supposed aim of recruiting an “assistant taster” for their Head Chocolate Tester. Promotions include a short video advert (shown in cinemas + online), while the campaign is based on their website http://www.pieceofgreenandblacks.co.uk/, strongly linked with their Facebook page and twitter stream.

The campaign offers the job of your dreams - to test chocolate on a daily basis, trying out new flavours and sourcing new ingredients. Whether it is an extreme PR stunt or a genuine HR need is debatable –but this campaign is a brilliant, simple example of consumer engagement.

1. A clear call to action – click through to the website
The video and online advertising have a clear call to action – to click through to their website and apply for the job/ for free chocolate.

2. Obvious incentives to become Facebook fan
We are constantly exposed to brands demanding us to become fans on Facebook. But often lacking is the incentive. What’s in it for us if we become a fan? Here, the incentive is clear – free product samples.

3. Converting passive consumers into active ambassadors of the product
To date, almost 3000 engaged readers have answered the “question of the week”, in the hope to win a box of G&B chocolate. The viral factor (and indeed the automated Facebook status update as below) means that G&B are surely on to a winner here.
However, I was disappointed to find that their youtube channel does not seem to be linked to the campaign. After a little more investigation, I discovered also that there is no “careers” section to their regular website – which suggests that this campaign is indeed a clever PR stunt.

This campaign appeals to us on an emotional level – many of us must have had childhood dreams to become chocolate tasters – and it is successful in creating a buzz around the brand. A long-term, engaged Facebook community? I’m not so sure.

Nevertheless, a call to action remains highly important – just like everywhere else on the net. Next time you see an online campaign based around Social Media, have a think – what are you, the viewer, meant to do? Become a fan on Facebook (if so what is your incentive?), visit a website, buy the product?

Any thoughts? All comments welcome…

Monday, 1 November 2010

Google Indexing : Let the search engine spiders come and play!

by Kathryn Richards

So. You’ve got a shiny new website.

I know, I don’t need to convince you of the importance of being found at the top of Google.

You’re already aware that 50% of users click on the first organic link to appear, and that just 23% of users will click-through to the 2nd page of results.

You’ve had the help of an SEO expert, and your site is full of interesting, relevant, search-engine friendly text, nicely littered with carefully selected keywords and broken up into titles and paragraphs. You’ve done all your Meta Data, given your images alt tags, and, naturally, have designed your site to be user-friendly.

You’ve submitted your site for indexing by Google, uploaded your site map through Google webmaster tools and added your business to Google Places.

The spiders should be racing here, no?

Not so fast.

Google indexes sites by sending out spiders - robots which crawl through the internet, grabbing content from sites and adding it to the search engine indexes. Most sites take at least 2 - 4 weeks to get indexed by Google (want to check? Type in “site:myURLname” to Google to find out how many and which pages of your site Google has indexed).

So, how can you speed up this process, and get the spiders to your site faster?

The answer = link to your website. Where? Wherever you like that’s online. This could be your blog, an online directory, another website.

Spiders can only follow links from one page or site to another. This means that the amount of links to your site (inbound links) is super important. This will give the spiders a path to your site – meaning there’s much more chance they’ll come across it on their travels.

3 top tips for linking to your website:

1. Google places almost all importance on the 1st link in a page
2. Choose keywords specific to your website
3. Make sure the links point to nice fresh content

Want to check how many inbound links you have to your site? Find out by typing in "links:mysiteurl" to Google.

Good luck – happy linking!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

SEO Myths - 50 apples a day will keep the doctor away

They won't. They'll make you sick. Very sick.

We're constantly told that five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for us. But there are always those that take it to extremes, eating nothing but carrots and bananas and become very sick as a result.

Well surprise surprise this gluttony holds true for more than just healthy levels of fruit consumption.

Yes - the same philosophy can be used for SEO and in particular the length of page copy.

Many experts will tell you 'the more text you have on your site the better'. Whilst the origins of this sentiment hold some truth, here are some reasons to be cautious in your approach:

1) Research tells us that website users don't like to scroll (down a webpage). So if your web pages are too long you're unlikely to still have the attention of the reader at the bottom of your copy. Why is this important? Well many web pages have their call to actions and important links/forms at the bottom of the page. If people don't reach this important area of the page it'll be having a large (negative) impact on the success of your page.

2) Boredom and impression. If a visitor lands on your web page and can't see what they're looking for they won't invest the time to read anything, let alone paragraphs and paragraphs of convoluted copy. Make sure your page copy is clearly broken up with the use of H tags. It pays to be clear and concise.

3) Usability. Research again tells us that visitors don't read web pages (unless it's a news article - like something you might find on BBC news) they scan them. Time is a precious resource and visitors to your web page certainly don't want to waste it. If they can get to where they want to be with the minimum amount of time invested they will.

With this in mind long page copy will only hinder this process giving the visitor more reason to click that dreaded back button (and leave your page, or worse, your site).

As a general rule ask yourself if your page is specific to one topic/product or service. If it isn't, break the topics up and introduce a larger number of shorter, more specific pages. This in turn should improve the success of each of your pages.

Not only will you be able to more specific for search engine marketing but it will also prove easier to capture the attention of visitors looking for specific information/products/services.

As a final note of caution - remember you need more than fruit and veg to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same is true for the length of your web pages and their relative success.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The importance of keywords


This topic seems to come up all the time.

A website is being developed, lots of thought has gone into the design, plenty of cool features have been added to the website and you've got those all important links to your social media presence. That must have it covered then. Job done. Complete. Finished.

Not quite.

Keywords are vital if you want people landing on your site who are interested in the products/services/information you have on your website as Google and the other search engines will start to rank your webpages according to the relevancy of its content.

However, the importance of keywords isn't just restricted to getting to the top of Google (although this is still the no.1 reason why you should research your keywords). It's often overlooked but keywords also help with navigation (when used correctly in your Meta title or as anchor text on links).

That's great but they still have a wider significance.

As we move at great speed towards 'online optimisation' instead of just search engine optimisation (this incorporates everything that you're doing online) the need for accurate keywords is growing by the day. This is because Internet users are using so many different platforms from which to start their online journey.

From tagging a YouTube video to designing facebook ads - keywords are everywhere!

If you haven't already take a look at our optimising your keywords post and if you have any questions - ask!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

What can you expect (realistically) from an SEO campaign

It's a common question. Agencies and SEO specialists ask companies to spend significant amounts of money from their marketing budget and very often don't explain what they'll be doing in return. What then can you expect and in what time frame?

In an attempt to be as clear on the subject as possible here's what you can expect broken down into three (hopefully) easily digested points:

1) You won't hit the top of Google straight away (it doesn't matter what keywords you've used).
Google needs to send its crawlers to your site before your site can even be considered for indexing in the search results.
As a webmaster or SEO professional you can submit an XML sitemap to Google to ensure it knows how many pages your site has - but it won't necessarily speed up the process of becoming indexed. This process can take up to 6 weeks.

2) Once Google has visited your site there are several things that can happen.

a) You may get on the first page of the search results
b) You may end up on the 4/5/6th etc page
c) Your web pages, initially at least, won't be found anywhere in the search results

Why is this? Well it's all down to how well optimised your web pages are for your targeted keyword and how competitive that keyword is (there are other factors but these are the two most important at this stage).

For example if you are targeting the keyword 'tennis equipment' you may not rank initially or your page may be found on the lower pages - which no one will ever see. However, if you've added geographic search terms to your optimised page you may find that search queries with your keyword + your geographic location rank much quicker. For example, 'tennis equipment in Covent Garden' may go straight to Google's first page.

The distinction here is that the more generic 'tennis equipment' will be much more competitive than 'tennis equipment Covent Garden' and hence the difference in results.

3) For those more generic terms it is a question of patience and perseverance. Google will not favour, initially at least, a domain (especially if it's brand new) over an established competitor - even if you think their website is awful. This is because Google takes two things into account when choosing which websites to place on its first page; authority and relevance.

Relevance is (generally speaking) concerned with how well the content on a particular page will meet the needs and requirements of the user who is looking for something.

However it's authority which we're more concerned with here. Domain age and in-bound links are two of the more important factors here and if you have a new website/new web page it will take time to convince Google that your webpage is worth ranking above others that are already established and linked to.

Again, this takes time. It might take 3 months it could take 3 years. It depends on the levels of competition and the strength of that competition. This is one of the reason why in-depth research is needed before selecting the keywords your website/web pages will use.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Online content - what will people pay for?

What a great question. If we knew the exact nature of what people would pay for online it would simply be a case of advertising it to the target market and success would follow.
Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. However I have recently come across a great article about the most likely reasons why people will part with their cash online - despite traditions of the 'free' nature of online content. And with the online newspapers experimenting with pay per view models, perhaps it's time to start re-thinking your online strategy.
You can access Miles Galliford's article below but here are my three most important reasons which might tempt people to subscribe and/or pay for online content:
1) Offer something that users can't get anywhere else. The more exclusive the better.
Think FT.com - the online service of FT.com is unrivalled in its ability to offer the latest national and international business news and hence can ask users to pay a premium for it.
2) The aggregating of information. As more and more information floods across the Internet this will only become more important. People will also be prepared to pay for a service that saves them time - everyone is wanting the answer to their question immediately (again a trend set to continue).
3) Community and exclusivity. There are a whole host of examples where people pay to set themselves apart – we love to be exclusive. From spending more money on fashion products to joining an expensive sports club, a large part of the increase in price for these goods or services is often perception and exclusivity. The task for businesses is to create a community online that people really want to be a part of.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Use your contacts and social media to recruit new staff

Many people start a job search with trepidation. How much will I end up paying? How much time will I have to spend dedicated to finding the right person? Will I be bombarded with CVs? The list goes on...

It's true that the recruitment industry is changing. More and more is being done online but this isn't necessarily improving the service that businesses experience.

When Art Division started looking for a new member of the team the usual routes led to an inordinate number of telephone calls and emails from recruitment consultants promising to have the next best candidate that you 'absolutely must meet'.


Not only is this intrusive and disrupting to the every day work the business is focused on but also massively ineffective. Not one of the recruitment consultants asked any questions about what Art Division were looking for, the type of person we would like to interview, the skills and experiences the candidates should have.

It was simply a case of matching job title with prospective job title.

But there is another way and it involves the social and the media elements online.

For a small initial outlay a job advert was posted on LinkedIn. Then, once live, LinkedIn allows you to forward that job spec to your LinkedIn contacts. We carefully selected the people that we thought would be best placed to help promote our search for a new staff member.

24 hours later and we received an email from a candidate. The trail, we found out later, led to one of our initial contacts sending out the job spec on our behalf to some of their contacts. An endorsement was given about the team at Art Division and was subsequently passed onto another round of contacts. It was at this point the job spec was passed to someone who was looking for just such a position. Bingo.

What are the benefits of this?

Well most of them are obvious. An almost instant result, a personal, word of mouth recommendation of a candidate that matched the job spec, good will towards towards the contacts that joined in on spreading the message - all done at very little cost.

This demonstrates that there are a number of ways small businesses can benefit from using social media and online platforms. The ability to share information instantaneously is making conversations much much easier between people who would never usually get to meet.

Click here to Art Division on LinkedIn

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help small business to succeed online


Most small to medium sized enterprises nowadays have some sort of web presence, however, if you look deeper into their web strategy (if there is one), some companies are just hoping for customers to place orders because of the information seen on their website.

There is no secret formula to make your website an overnight success but good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can certainly help. SEO incorporates a number of techniques that can be used to help make your website more visible in the search engines.

If your site is managed and optimised using the right keywords (which can help differentiate your business online) then results should follow.

Here are some tips to help you get more from your website:

1) Check how good your current SEO is by going to: http://www.seobrowser.com. Input your url in the search box and see the results for yourself.

2) Optimise every page title. This is a crucial part of on-page optimisation and it’s amazing how many website’s don’t get this part right.

3) Ensure that your site has links that work and that your home page is as Java script free as possible.

4) Time and age are very important factors online. Google uses measurements such as domain age and in-bound links to help it to asses a website’s authority.

5) Google loves fresh, new content. Why not introduce a blog to your website and write relevant content and update it on a regular basis.

6) Keywords: I find it amazing how many companies spend thousands of pounds on a website and use generic keywords like ‘business consultant’, ‘fast food supplier’, ‘plumber’, ‘electrician’, etc. Using those words may be relevant to your business but it will take you a long time to get found and you may never achieve a page 1 ranking in Google – for keywords like this it is just so competitive!

For example, the word ‘plumber’ will retrieve almost 10 million results; ‘plumber Purley’ will retrieve 33,000 hits. When attempting to get to the much coveted top 3 or 4 positions in Google you have to give yourself a realistic opportunity to do so in a time frame that will work for you and your business. You can find out how popular certain keywords are by visiting: Google's AdWords tool.

7) Once you have decided on your keywords be consistent. Use them across titles, h tags, your page copy and alt tags (but don’t be tempted to over do it – Google may consider it spam!)

Remember, above all your website should be targeting your human visitors. Ask yourself what is it you want them to do when landing on your site? Is it to purchase? Learn? Recommend?

Good luck.

Peter Gerlach helps companies, business owners and individuals to build successful and lasting organisations through practical, hands on sales and revenue development strategies. 

Friday, 3 September 2010

Alt tags - what are they and what do they do?




Alt tags (or alternative text tags) are used to describe images that are used on a web page. They're used for a number of reasons, not least of which is to help Google identify what an image is (they're working on image recognition software but aren't there yet). You also need alt text present to validate your XHTML.

So what is an alt tag and how do you write one.

Well to answer the first part of this question I will refer you to the following video by Matt Cutts of Google:







As Matt tells us, the alt text shouldn't be too long and shouldn't have keywords stuffed in to it.

However, there are some hints and tips we can share to help you get the most from your on-page images. Before I get onto that however I'll make a very obvious statement. If you would like to optimise your images, think carefully about which images you select. The better, more relevant the image, the easier it will be to legitimately optimise your web pages' images with quality alt text.

1) Follow image search and type in your domain (eg: artdivision.co.uk). The images that are retrieved are the ones that have alt text.
2) Remember that the use of alt tags is not only for the benefit of Google spiders, but also for overall accessibility ie. for partially sighted people where a browser may read out the alt tag descriptions to the user
This will indirectly help your google ranking because you will be complying with accessibility regulations.
3) Make sure you save your file with an accurate description or keyword before uploading it. For example image1.jpg isn't much help. However, 'wavesonbeachinfrance.jpg' is much more descriptive.
4) Perhaps you won't be able to describe the image in the alt text. There are other tags you can use such as the longdesc tag.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Expanding your website's landing pages should be a high priority - a CMS and keyword research will help

By Jon Paget

We're often asked the following question "Great - the website's finished and we've optimised our products and services pages, what's next?"

And it's a good question.

What we remind those asking the question is that you don't optimise a web page for the sake of it. You design and build a new website and then optimise the web pages for one very simple reason; you want more traffic to your web pages and by playing by the SEO rules you're hoping Google will help you achieve this.

So to answer the question we need to have the objective firmly in our mind.

Of course one of the first obvious answers is to create more optimised landing pages allowing you to expand on the number of keywords/phrases that you are likely to rank for. This naturally expands the size of the target market you're likely to appear in front of.

To back track a second, before any website copy is written keyword research is necessary. This should allow you to target your website copy and web page's meta data to a keyword or phrase that offers an opportunity to found by those searching in Google for whatever that phrase or keyword happens to be.

Whether you're starting off big or small (optimising dozens of pages to just a few) creating additional content (in the form of web pages) on an on-going basis is a great way of developing and expanding your website. When you invest in that keyword research add an additional 20% onto the number of keywords that you wish to be presented with. That way you can expand the number of web pages your site has without the need to return to the process of keyword research.

And remember, Google greatly favours new, fresh content over tired and repeated copy. Don't expand your website unless you're prepared to invest the time (or money) to do it properly otherwise it won't be just the search engines that stop liking your site.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The purpose of blogging for business

By Jon Paget

I saw this image and thought of the Where's Wally books I grew up with. Try as you might, it's difficult to pick out any one individual unless they're wearing a crass red and white stripey top - and even then it's tough!

This is how businesses can feel when trying to stand out online. There are so many 'me too' competitors it's hard to stand out.

I was asked this morning about the benefits of businesses blogging. I gave almost exactly the same answer as I did when asked the same question last week; it depends.

It depends on who you are, who your clients/target audience are, what's the topic, what's the strategy, how much time you can dedicate to it...the list goes on.

I am often surprised by the way things can just arrive in front of you just when you need it. Take the article I'm about to share with you. It's one of the most concise articles I've read in terms of how to generate leads from your blog - one of the most important elements in deciding whether to undertake any marketing activity should be whether it will generate leads or not.

Let me know what you think of the article and whether you have anything to add!

A B2B Guide for Blogging Lead Generation

Happy blogging.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Creating a following on twitter - everyone's allowed a bit of help

Much has been made of how to create a following on twitter. Keeping up to date with the latest tools, how to use them and what they do would be a full time job by itself - such is the speed of development of third party programs.

To make things a little easier here is a breakdown of some of the most commonly used programs and what they can offer:

1) Tweetdeck

This is one of the most common programs used for managing tweets and twitter followers. Integrate with LinkedIn and facebook profiles, manage followers into lists and much more.

2) CoTweet

Positions itself as the business level program for twitter users. Allows you to easily manage multiple users and accounts, the scheduling of future tweets and the ability to tag tweets you wish to follow up (at a later date).

3) Twitpic

By far the most popular site for uploading images to twitter.
4) Tweetmeme

This site displays the most popular links posted on twitter displaying an image (if available) the number of times a link has been retweeted, number of comments and author of the original tweet.
5) Tweet Adder

A desktop application that helps you grow your list of followers - and fast! Some of the site's functionality includes the ability to schedule tweets (which is ideal for businesses that use twitter to promote short run deals and offers), keyword searches, MP3 file sharing and much more. 
There are of course dozens (if not hundreds) of programs and websites that offer services for twitter. These are just a select few. Have one you would like to share? Tell us and leave a comment.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Improve site search to improve website conversions and ROI

By Jon Paget
My last post discussed how to make the most of your product pages and effectively communicate what it is your business has to offer. This is of course of vital importance.

However, visitors to the site need to reach your product pages for this to even enter into the equation. There are a number of ways to achieve this, one of which is a site search. Site search is important for speeding up the visitor's journey through the site.

I've found an article that I want to share with you which I feel makes some great suggestions for how to improve a site's search facility.

The link for the article is below but here are the three considerations I'd like to highlight:

  1. Make all of your site's content searchable. There's nothing that will frustrate a visitor more than if they can't find what they're looking for. Buying criteria can vary enormously from wanting to learn more about the company and seeing previous work to delivery and after sales service. All of this and more should be included.

  2. Use of good quality images - this is surely a no-brainer. If you haven't already read it, take a look at Successful selling online.

  3. Use of video. A company featured in the article (below) gathered statistics that showed visitors who watched video were 85% more likely to buy. Wow! That raises the obvious question. How do we get more people to watch video? Making videos available through the site search is a great (and obvious) first step...

So, those are my three key points but the full article is well worth a read:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Successful selling online - more than just an online shop

By Jon Paget


I spoke to a business owner recently that sells hand made goods and luxury items through their website throughout the UK and across Europe.

For this to happen the business' website requires ecommerce functionality (which has its own complications). However, there are other, simpler problems that businesses can run into online.

The business mentioned had had a sale had go through from a customer in mainland Europe. The item was shipped and arrived in perfect condition. However the client wasn't happy and returned the item immediately.

Why?

The answer is simple. The client thought they were buying one thing and had actually received another.

The explanation starts with the way products and services are communicated online. In this case the image used for the product wasn't clear enough to accurately display the product.

This isn't the only thing to consider though. Here are three things to think about:

1) Does each product have its own page eg: http://goo.gl/BXlS

This is important so that each product page can be very specific and focused upon that sole item. It will also allow you to personalise that page to that specific product including the use of model numbers, brand names, special features, etc, can be used.
This will then directly improve the visibility of the product or service in the search engines.

2) Is there a clear informative description?

Is there enough text and technical information so all the details are passed onto the reader? Are you using the right keywords and/or using each page's meta data in the right way?
Is there a chance to learn more, ask a question, see reviews - there are so many things to consider here but ask yourself what you like about the website's that you use to buy online.

3) Images.

Yes, good quality images are crucial. Are the images consistent (same background, lighting, size etc), can you view more than one angle, can you enlarge the image. What about ALT text?

Whether you're selling online (taking payments) or using a website to simply display your products or describe your services, it's vital to do it effectively and clearly.

Good luck.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Shocked in Paris - take control of your web presence

By Jon Paget

A weekend away from London (and an insight into how a large business approaches its online activities) identified some interesting, if bizarre, practices that I'd now like to share with you.

I found it astonishing when I learnt that key individuals (in charge of the company’s web presence) in the department knew nothing about their own website or what the term SEO meant. Even worse was the fact that these key individuals were taking agency recommendations (they outsourced the running of their website to a 'specialist digital agency') without thought or question to the implications or costs.

I then discovered that one of the company’s websites had a content management system (CMS) which the company didn’t have access to. In other words it was only accessible by the agency - therefore guaranteeing the agency's ongoing involvement and complete control of the website.

Irrespective of size, if a business is going to have a CMS and/or employ an agency for help online there are some basic things to consider which will mean you as a business retain an element of control and aren't at the mercy of the 'experts' sitting opposite you.

1) A CMS allows you to make changes to your website's content - and quickly. Even if someone else is to help with new content for the website, having access yourself is a strong recommendation. What would happen if the relationship between you and the agency broke down?

2) Read up a little on key topics. If you're looking for SEO services go into the meeting knowing the basics otherwise you're likely to have little idea of what's going on and the value of what's being suggested.

3) Get a second opinion. There are so many different options available and each agency will have a different way of approaching campaigns. All reputable agencies will be happy to discuss your website with you – offering you their opinion with feedback on your website – with no obligation to work with them. Why not take the time to contact a few and see which one fits best with your business.

Good luck!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Blogging a dead horse - it's all about communication


By Jon Paget

I've spoken to a number of marketing executives and managers recently and I've noticed a common theme throughout.

The conversation would follow along the lines of "we know we need to do better online, we know we need great engaging content but where can we get it or who can we ask to create it".

On one hand this is an improvement. At least online content is now having value attached to it.

However, I've believed for a long time that this kind of content should be generated by the individuals within a company that are undertaking the various tasks (whether it’s the ones talking to clients, delivering the service, making the product, etc), not by an outside source.

Before I go any further I'll draw clear lines about what I'm talking about. Websites, editorial, online brochures or presentations - all of these can (and should) be written by a professional copywriter such as Jon at FullStopNewParagraph.

However, I’m talking about the many blogging and social media platforms available to businesses. For things like Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and company blogs, your in-house employees are often poised to offer greater insight, respond more quickly and with more authority about a given subject than an external writer (such is the immediate nature of the world online).
Having content created by people within an organisation who aren’t professional writers also has a lot of advantages. It'll be genuinely authentic (written by the experts), on-message and may draw out nuggets of information that would otherwise remain hidden. It might just empower those asked to contribute too.

Couple this with the fact that online channels encourage much less formal communication with your target market (communication that's two way and more like a conversation) and there really aren't many barriers left to overcome.

There's so much knowledge within an organisation that the various online channels open to each business are crying out for genuine, value adding content (in the form of twitter feeds, blogs, articles, emails - even video) – it’s just a question of making time to create it.

The conclusion?

What really needs to take place is a change of mindset from traditional-thinking marketing departments. Creating quality online content for their online audiences should become an in-house priority.

At Art Division we can advise you on how best to do this, but genuinely engaging online social content has to come direct from the horse’s mouth. Otherwise you could be flogging a dead one.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

How England’s World Cup failure could help your business

By Jon Ryder

It’s the World Cup semi-finals tonight, and England aren’t there because they’re too tired.

That’s not to say they’re missing it because they fancy an early night.

The reason they won’t be playing is that, according to their manager, they didn’t have the legs for international football.

After being hammered by Germany a couple of weeks ago, Fabio Capello must have been asked a hundred times: “Why have England crashed out of the World Cup?”

For the first 60 or 70 times, he would have said the reason was that the players weren’t good enough.

A valid answer, but that’s not going to wash with the dirty newspapers. The reporters probably kept asking over and over, hoping for a quote they could do something with.

So eventually, Capello cracked, and said maybe the players were tired after a long domestic season.

The next day, the papers of course screamed: ‘Fab’s Pathetic Excuse: Rooney Was Tired.’

He was forced into making excuses, then hung out to dry for doing so.

It may actually have been worse.

A journalist could have asked him if he thought the England players were tired because they play longer seasons than other nations. He said yes, because that’s the only answer he could give, and the headline wrote itself.

This isn’t a football blog, so it doesn’t matter if Fab was a flop.

But it’s interesting, because with your business, the way you ask your questions makes a big difference to the answers you get.

And this is particularly true when it comes to web testimonials.

Customers are more likely to buy your stuff if they can read a quote from another happy client on your website.

But most of the time, you’ve got to ask for these testimonials.

So to get the best ones, copy those journalists. Ask recent customers for a sentence or two, but be specific.

If you ask them if they like your Gizmo, you’ll get:

“I liked the Gizmo, so I bought one.” Hopeless.

But ask them why their new Gizmo makes them feel safer on horseback, and you could get:

“I’ve tried lots of other things, but the Gizmo is by far the best, and makes me feel safer on Peaches than ever before.” Much better.

Be careful though, because the way people tend to repeat your question in their answer can backfire.

Don’t ask them if the Gizmo provides them with an unrivalled ergonomic-equestrian delivery system, boosting their past-time satisfaction quota immeasurably.

They may just parrot all that back, and nobody’s going to believe that’s a genuine quote from a real customer.

People will think you’ve written it yourself, because, well, you have.

So don’t copy journalists exactly and force words into people’s mouths, but remember that if you don’t ask specific questions, you don’t get.

*************************************************************************************

Jon Ryder of FullStopNewParagraph is a freelance copywriter who has spent the last 12 years crafting words for a living.

He has worked for the public, private and third sectors, both online and on paper. His clients include the NHS, government, and design agencies, as well as individuals who don’t have a big business to promote, but do have something important to say.

Today is the second of his guest posts for Mission Imbloggable.

See his site at: newparagraph.co.uk

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Why great copywriting wipes the smears off your shop windows

Would you go into a shop if there was a load of junk cluttering up the window?

What if the ‘speshul offer’ sign was spelled wrong?
Or what if there was nothing on display that looked remotely like something you wanted to buy?
Of course you wouldn’t.
And the shop owners would only have themselves to blame.
Customers need to be enticed in, they need to know exactly what delights are available inside, and they need to know they are dealing with professionals.
Yet for some reason, all that obvious stuff often gets forgotten with websites.
Online, the home page is your shop window. It’s how you tempt in passing trade, and how you reassure buyers that you mean business.
And the words you choose to put on there are absolutely crucial. Which is why you don’t want to have the web copy equivalent of whopping great smears across the glass.
Spelling mistakes and apostrophe catastrophes are bad enough, but even if it’s all grammatically correct, you can still be turning customers away.
And the quickest way to do this is by not calling a spade a spade. By calling it ‘a fully portable soil displacement utility’ instead.
Customers are not shopping for ‘innovative holistic solutions’, so if you put that on your home page, you’ve lost them.
Instead, describe your things the same way your customers describe things. Nobody ever types ‘bespoke visioning package’ into Google when they want something, so why describe your business like that?
Don’t tell customers you’ve got a productivity tool. Don’t tell them it’s an integrated portfolio of services. And definitely don’t tell them it’s state-of-the-art technology.
Just tell them what it actually is.
If it’s as good as you say it is, that’s all they need to know.


Jon Ryder of FullStopNewParagraph is a freelance copywriter who has spent the last 12 years crafting words for a living.
He has worked for the public, private and third sectors, both online and on paper. His clients include the NHS, government, and design agencies, as well as individuals who don’t have a big business to promote, but do have something important to say.
Today is the first of his guest posts for Mission Imbloggable.
See his site at: www.newparagraph.co.uk

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Article Marketing: A Great SEO Technique

By Kathryn Richards

Did you know?

63% of searchers will click on a result on the 1st page of Google listings, and just 23% will click through to the 2nd page. Getting your site in a top position in Google search rankings has never been so important.

So, what’s the best way to optimise your site so that it gets the top ranking it deserves?

As ever in SEO, content is king. It’s undeniable that results come directly from great quality content.

Article Marketing is right at the heart of this concept- and leads to quality content from you being promoted and distributed all over the web. You’ll benefit from not only more traffic, but more highly targeted visitors, higher visibility in Google and certainly more interest in your products or services.

It all starts off with a high-quality article. The best articles offer something to the reader- perhaps advice (for example, a home improvement company might offer tips about redecorating) or a tutorial (a florist might offer a guide on how to preserve the life of flowers) - or anything, really, that is of interest or adds value to the reader.

These are the articles that promote your company, and its services or products the most effectively.

To get the best results, the article is then taken and, by using only entirely human copywriters along with a specialist licensed software tool, promoted and distributed with unique versions of your content being submitted all across the web.

Every time your articles are published, your site will benefit from a backlink, in addition to your company details appearing next to every publication. What’s more, you can re-use the content in the articles for blog posts, Tweets, or Facebook updates.

It’s pretty simple really- and above all, a great illustration of the importance of quality content when it comes to online marketing.

Minimal effort, low-cost and proven results- is article marketing an SEO technique your business can afford to ignore?

Monday, 7 June 2010

What is Foursquare (and why should you use it?)

By Jon Paget

I first downloaded the foursquare app for my phone several months ago (I'd been told it was the new facebook emerging in 2010) - but it wasn't long before I'd got bored with it and considered it to be one of the many flash in the pan platforms that come and go.
The fact I'm writing this blog post several months later would suggest otherwise...

So, what is Foursquare?

Simply put it's a location based social media platform that encourages users to check in when they visit certain landmarks (which includes pubs, sports clubs, famous places and an ever increasing number of restaurants).

Once checked-in you can leave hints and tips for others to see when they log-in and for each check-in you score points.

OK, but what's the point of Foursquare?

Good question! This is what I struggled with. Social platforms after all are based on their communities. Foursquare currently only has around 1 million users and, with many of those in the U.S, chances are your community on foursquare will be pretty small. This being the case, scoring more and more points seems, well, pointless...

But, one of the best things about Foursquare is the ability to link it with your other profiles on facebook or twitter.

What's the attraction for business?

It's still very early to be definitive about this, but the cafe in my example benefited from being on foursquare...

Earlier this month I checked-in to a cafe near London Bridge (which I'd found by using the Foursquare app). This, having flashed up on my facebook page, led to a couple of friends of mine joining me. And, because of its ability to add comments to each check in, I was able to raise positive awareness to everyone on my facebook profile.

What next?

With the Co-founder of Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, being courted by all and sundry (Google, facebook and twitter to name a few) it seems as though Foursqaure is worth taking a second look at.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Target Language...Target Country: Multilingual Search Strategies for Multicultural Marketing


Asia accounts for over 40% of the world’s internet users, with China alone having almost a third more people online than the US. Crucially, three quarters of the Earth’s residents speak not a word of English – that’s a lot of people.
It’s safe to say that anyone looking to make money online is missing a very big trick by not tapping into the many millions of people in cyberspace that don’t speak English.
But how do you go about developing a multilingual online marketing strategy? Should you focus on language or country...after all, many countries speak the same language as each other? Or is it more important to focus on the dialectal differences between countries?
We’ll let you decide what’s best for you, but it’s perhaps worth considering the following points before arriving at a decision.
There are pros and cons to targeting markets either by country or by language. It’s important to plan correctly BEFORE initiating a strategy, rather than trying to engineer your website backwards after launching your foreign language portal.

Focus: Language

The Pros
If you decide to focus on language rather than country, then hosting your website in target countries isn’t as important, as you aren’t trying to focus on one specific nation. Having a separate top-level domain (TLD) for each country can be expensive to manage and maintain, and all that before we even discuss optimising your site for each country. So not having to worry about this can save you a great deal of time and money.
Language is one of the core defining characteristics of any culture, and by reaching out and speaking to a group of countries in their native tongue will earn you significant brownie points as a marketer. By translating your website into French, for example, you can make inroads into France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and various other French-speaking population pockets in Africa and further afield. The same applies to Spanish, which is spoken in Spain (obviously...), most of South and Central America and across much of the US.

The Cons
There’s no getting away from the fact that SEO is one of the fundamental and important tools available to online marketers. If you adopt a ‘language-focussed’ strategy, SEO can be a bit of a problem. This is because search algorithms are normally all about the locality of the search – so if you want to rank at the top of Google in Argentina, for example, you really want a top level ‘.ar’ domain that’s hosted IN Argentina. Google uses geolocation data in its search results, so you have to be as much ‘in’ the target country as possible to rank highly.
Furthermore, the French in France is different to the French in Canada or Switzerland. For example, ‘Lunch’ is déjeuner in France, but dîner in Switzerland and Belgium. And to confuse matters further, in France dîner is the word for ‘evening meal’. In Spain, coche is the word for a ‘car’, but in many Latin American Spanish countries, coche means a baby-stroller. For UK readers, a baby-stroller means a ‘pushchair’ or ‘buggy’.
You get the picture though – it’s safer not to ignore the significance of dialects in marketing campaigns. And this is why there’s a strong argument for having dedicated websites for each target country.

Focus: Country

The Pros
By placing your online marketing focus on countries rather than languages, we’re talking about localisation rather than globalisation.
As we’ve discussed already, in-country TLDs will benefit your search engine rankings in your target markets. It also means you’re competing with fewer other websites for your desired industry keywords, which has significant ramifications for your search engine rankings.
Trust will help any international marketer go a long way. If an online consumer sees your website is written in the precise dialect of their country, and it’s hosted on a domain that is unique to their country (e.g. ‘.fr’ for France), then it helps build a sense of trust between you and them.

The Cons
The main disadvantage to adopting a country-specific approach is the cost. Individual domains, in conjunction with fully localised and optimised websites for each market will necessitate that some money be spent. But considering almost 200m people speak Brazilian Portuguese, developing a separate strategy for Brazil really is money well spent.
Also, you won’t always need a separate strategy. For example, UK and US English is largely the same and you really don’t need to write two separate texts for each website – just make sure you avoid any blatant colloquialisms and points of reference that could alienate any other English speakers around the world.
Hopefully these pointers will help you decide which strategy to adopt in your international marketing endeavours...good luck!

About the author
Christian Arno is founder and Managing Director of Lingo24, a UK translation and localisation company with operations spanning four continents, clients in over sixty countries and a turnover of £3.65m.

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