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 - the online service of 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: 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: 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.

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