When designing a website there are far more important factors that have to be considered than just how the site looks on the screen. Many websites are built with this visual concept in mind as the main objective. This is all very well but SEO services will also have to be considered.
Companies often introduce a website to an SEO expert when the website has been completed and hosted on a server for the world to see. This is a critical mistake.
The SEO expert will insist on making changes to the site that will result in excessive expenditure when these key SEO design point could have been implemented into the design process.
Occasionally, depending on the build, there may be parts of the site that will be impossible to change; this will ramp up the costs dramatically as the site may have to be rebuilt again.
Constant amendments to the site will affect visitor conversions and trust in your product or service.
Make sure that both elements are incorporated together.
The internet is a very fluid network that can’t be tamed or controlled 100%. Reputation is very important to a company and can be a very difficult thing to improve, but a very easy thing to lose. So, if you were developing an online reputation, how hard would it be to achieve?
We have seen how agencies, the press and other media can harm the reputation of public figures and celebrities. Once the word is out there is no stopping it.
A bad moment, comment or option can be sent to many people in a blink of an eye. Social Media is a classic platform that will boost the exposure of this type of information. For example, a single video can be viewed thousands of times an hour, occasionally more when attached to Facebook links and sharing on Twitter. This can be a nightmare right in front of you and there is nothing that can be done.
A social network user can’t be approached or sued for a Facebook comment or a Tweet. This comment or tweet is an opinion and that is what Facebook is all about. Traditionally fighting back will only add more fuel into the fire, apologising just for the sake of it shows that you are guilty.
Any bad comments that affect your reputation are not just on social networking, with the way that most search engines index their pages and how organic/natural listing work, search results are also an effective battle ground. The search engine then becomes a listing ground for bad news and if this attack infects your organic/natural results – that is a monumental issue.
So, how can this disappointing news be combated?
This will involve using specific SEO tricks that will help bury news and sweep bad news under the carpet, while making the positive news even brighter.
The auto fill on the Google Search box does not help, but traditionally with a strong SEO site, the negative results won’t be showing on the 1st page of the listings. Having negative or damaging sites on the same page as your result is really bad practice.
When these bad reviews or comments come along – apologies and an acknowledgement can be spun into a positive, not only do you get feedback on an issue but with the audience that are engaged you can answer and handle them right to boost your reputation. Your SEO needs to highlight the positive and the good on your site as a counter weight for the occasional bad.
A customer blog is a good way to do this as comments can be made and the negative ones can be filtered. Perhaps even have a Hub that can host content that can be monitored before it’s published. These types of ways will limit any negative attacks and kick out the pesky auto-fill issues in the process.
With more and more people turning to the internet for so many essential and non essential duties, the internet is developing into the first point of contact. Managing a brands online presence might appear to be a bit of a military operation. However, you can challenge these concepts and turn them into a positive aspect that will improve your online marketing strategy. So, the three biggest challenges are talked about below.
As we perhaps all recognise, we get hundreds of marketing messages thrown at us every day. The main issue that a brand has is getting noticed. As with all brands, the larger your brand is the easier it is to overcome this exposure issue. A strong brand icon/logo has an instant connection to a service or a product that stands out on a search engine results list. Plus, as a strong and reputable brand you may have links to your website from customers that have already experienced your services and have made comments on your brand that could help your search campaign.
For the lesser brands that are normally just online based, the efforts to promote brand awareness are a far bigger challenge. First of all, getting noticed is difficult, if you do achieve this then you have to engage and interact with them online. The way to improve this is to find an appropriate strong position for the website. This will involve monitoring SEO and collecting search results. The SEO will be a critical cog in the website; the more affective this is, the stronger the brand, just like traditional brand management. The website with SEO is essential to building brand awareness in connection with Online Brand Management – this will then engage with customers and forces a mental link from the brand to the service or product.
Using SEO is a strong start towards managing an online brand. However, there are more aspects that have to be combated. One of the other aspects that need to be managed is control, or perhaps the lack of control. The lack of control over content that is published about brands that is established and unknown is another key issue.
The number of forums, blog platforms, and even review platforms is always increasing and what is written on one is normally copied onto another. What customers write and post on these websites is beyond the control of any brand manager/team. So, is this impossible to eradicate? Yes, is the short answer.
However, as a part of the strategy, there should be allocated time that includes reviewing the review sites and the forums to make sure that there are no negative or damaging comments. If they are found, it is good practice to investigate the claims and make sure that they don’t happen again and attempt to rectify the problem. On the flip side of that is to thank those that have left positive comments/posts to add creditability to the brand name.
Forums as opposed to review sites tend to be more locally based and concentrate on an individual organisation. They are crucial to be reviewed as a massive amount of feedback can be discovered (both positive and negative), including the type of consumers that their brand attracts, what they feel they need in addition to what is currently offered and also data for new markets and innovations. So, being registered on local forums would be a part of the strategy.
Blogs take a slightly different twist on things as the content that is posted is traditionally by industry experts or perhaps the trend setters in a specific market. If the content on the blog is negative it will persuade others to take on board these negative comments. It is massively important that the blogger is contacted and explains the content – this must be handled and changed while investigating the evidence.
Any negative reputation will not go away over night, stats show that if you have a bad experience you will tell more and write more about it in contrast to a great experience. The perception of a brand that occasionally receives poor comments; this has to be offset by long term positive comments. When the positive posts and comments are submitted they should be embraced and recognised.
Developing a business profile is a great way to increase awareness. Unfortunately, there can also be danger at your door, as an online business profile can be duplicated in your business/brand name with no need to verify them. This will affect business and your brand if this happens. If it does this may cause more bad content on review sitse and forums against your brand name that has nothing to do with you.
Keeping a close eye on business directories is important. The business directories details need to be accurate; otherwise you will be missing enquiries and potential business. Making sure you are aware what websites your business details are on i.e. Yell.co.uk, is good practice so that they can be reviewed and made sure they are right. Plus, if you have to change addresses or a sales email address you don’t have to search for these sites, because you already have a list.
Finally, people have the ability to interact on social media with one-another, but it is also used for checking out brands. Let’s be honest – that was going to happen anyway. The brands do have the facility to edit the post and comments on a public domain of social media. Social media is a good platform as long as the content that is posted is accurate and interesting. Perhaps including top offers, amusing office pictures and the occasional embarrassing charity events, as long as the audience is entertained this will increase brand awareness and brand trust.
Without trust, the marketing message that is shown is nothing and is never going to result in a purchase. The level of difficulty does vary depending on the status of the business (established or unknown). Trust can be encouraged by having a very simple and transparent order process that includes a process line. Each page should have a contact number or a chat window for assistance and a statement that highlights their data protection procedure after the order is placed.
Once these areas have been improved, you will see a gain in orders and revenue. The next stage is to embed a customer’s loyalty to your brand. The internet has made it very easy to shop around and compare. So, when the brand identification and awareness is growing, how are you going to defeat the shopping and comparison and build that loyalty?
Within all marketing plans/budgets, all aspects have to be considered. However, the debate that has been raging for some time is all relating to SEO and Social Media. Occasionally, reports are published that highlight the fortunes that people have earned via a specific SEO plan and the new market audience that is attainable via Facebook or Twitter.
Most experts believe that social media does have a potential to generate new business. The audience is massive with a very low cost to connect to them; you can create your own brand and investigate new opportunities. However, will the social media improve your website? Or is it better to invest your funds and time in SEO campaigns?
Experts believe that social media is not at the moment, a real enhancement to your website for a number of reasons:-
Targeting traffic is a key part of any marketing plan and unfortunately social media is generally not as good as SEO. With social media there is a very high click away percentage. On the other hand with SEO the target market is very focused and defined so enquiries are relevant and convert better in to business. As much as the internet is on all the time, so are the search engines that will provide lots of traffic with good investment. The equivalent time spent on social media will not produce the same results.
In terms of negativity, SEO won’t work against you, even if your SEO technique is relatively poor. Major social media platforms do leave open the door that bad press can walk through that will leave you either red faced, embarrassed or even low on visitors. Also the social media is prone to attacks and so it can’t be considered as bullet proof. If subjected to an attack – a lot of marketing efforts can be destroyed in seconds.
There is a maintenance issue that also has to be considered in this mix – because there are many social network sites including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, you will have to update all of the websites that you decide that you are going to use because the impressions need to be even. There is a multi post option but you will still need to check that the post is accurate. Any none relevant posts could be damaging and leave you relying on good relationships across many forms that can’t be guaranteed. In contrast there are many good search engines and with a good SEO, rewarding rank will be very easy to develop without external factors being in the way.
Social Media is a developing and dynamic, users do spend a lot of time on these types of sites. However, it can be very volatile as users can change between websites almost instantly and so reducing the relevance of the marketing message that is being displayed. What’s in today is not in the next day. SEO should always provide a site with strength, structure and a bold position to improve rank within the main search engines.
Let’s not get confused, this is not a social media put down. Social media will develop and be more rewarding but as we have seen it should not replace SEO. They are two separate channels and should be kept this way. It needs to be considered but not prioritised.
Want to get free visibility for your business? Then you need to advertise in classified ads. This is a fantastic way to connect with the local market, create visibility and increase sales. Some of the classified ads websites also allow you to link back to your site meaning extra SEO benefits.
Advertising your products on classified ads sites is a good way to reach out to your local community and is perfect for a small business. Not only is it very simple and quick to do, it’s usually free.
So what are the benefits of classified ads? Well, most of them are free and can result in a search engine listing. As mentioned earlier, some ad sites will let you leave a link back to your site. Not only will this increase your link profile, it will also push the right type of traffic to your site. The idea is to put relevant content in your advert so search engines understand the background of your domain.
We have listed a handful of the more prominent classified ad sites below:
It’s worth remembering that most ads will expire after 90 days but you will usually receive a reminder.
Within SEO circles it’s well known that getting heavily imaged websites indexed by search engines can be a problem. This article will offer tips and advice on how to optimise images on websites.
This is a good way to optimise images on your pages. This allows you to match an accurate description of what the image is and is placed in the code.
In the above image, an example Alt tag would be: “pictures of all the main national UK newspapers”
The purpose of Alt tags is to provide a description of what the image is. This is particularly useful when a browser or software is unable to display the image. It is also very important for blind people as they need an accurate description of what the page is displaying.
Where possible, you should use a relevant keyword in the description to help SEO. However, don’t just stick keywords in anywhere as they need to be relevant and make sense to the users.
The file name is also a useful way to optimise images, particularly if your site uses a CMS. The file name should include targeted keywords and be descriptive but shouldn’t be as long as the Alt description.
Large image files will affect download times, not to mention annoy your customers. It can also affect your page rank because page speed is an SEO factor. We recommend that you resize images prior to uploading them to your CMS. This will help reduce the loading time and make your pages more user friendly.
Is there a future in images and search engines?
Speculation suggests that search engines already have the technology to read images and its already being used by other applications such as Google Goggles. Therefore, it may only a matter of time before image reading is incorporated into algorithms.
The latest suggestion to boost SEO efforts is to include a physical address on your website. According to a recent article, putting a physical address on your site will increase the probability of your site appearing in results.
Even if companies are keen to keep their address anonymous, they could still set up a PO Box in a nearby location.
The article went on to say: “By doing so, you’ll not only place your website in a prominent location, you’ll also have the strongest possible centroid from which to get links.”
Another advantage to including an address is trust. Many online users will only deal with companies that have an address that they can contact if need be. It will also help avoid Google identifying your website as spam.
Companies issuing press releases should consider including targeted keywords in the article according to Search Engine Watch. They advise that this will make them more SEO friendly and increase their online marketing results.
Lisa Buyer of Search Engine Watch says there are numerous ways to take advantage of social public relations opportunities. “Like in website writing, press releases and all social media content should be optimised with keywords and links,” she says.
Ms Buyer also recommends using SEO services to undertake thorough research of keywords and phrases to determine what works best.
Of course, we can’t afford to forget about the social networks. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are an excellent opportunity for businesses to interact with customers.
As mentioned in previous Storm Marketing blogs, now is the time get on board with mobile marketing as the sales of smartphones continue to increase.
Leading information and technology research and advisory company, Gartner, recently advised that there was 72.1% growth in smartphones during 2010.
If this isn’t enough to get the attention of marketers we don’t know what is. Companies need to visit their SEO strategies to cater for mobile marketing.
Carolina Milanese, research vice-president at Gartner, said: “Strong smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 pushed Apple and Research In Motion up in our 2010 worldwide ranking of mobile device manufacturers to the number five and number four positions respectively.”
Research In Motion (RIM) are the company responsible for producing all the BlackBerry devices which are rivals to Apple’s iPhone.
In a recent survey undertaken by the Association of National Advertisers and the Mobile Marketing Association, 75% of digital marketers have plans to increase their investment in mobile marketing.
Businesses eager to get into marketing their company online need to undertake thorough research in order to take advantage of its benefits.
According to Search Engine Land, users of SEO and PPC services should look to do their research before designing and building their websites.
Search Engine and recommends: “Use your data to learn demographics, task completion – or not -, page abandonment and new search terms.” The article went on to suggest: “Analytics and server logs help uncover mysterious behaviour and traditional usage too.”
The belief is that undertaking such research can save businesses millions in salaries and lost sales.
Internet users have varied habits and needs so it’s a dangerous game to assume that site designers know what customers want and how they will use the site.
Blog Posts Calendar
- Is the Internet going to be the television replacement?
- Google to Launch Cloud-based Music Service
- Skype is in demand but not from members or users.
- You may have the content right, perfect images and a great customer journey on your site, but is it quick enough?
- 4.3.3 is available for download, now Apple can’t track you…(for as long!)