Monday, January 26, 2009

7 quotes and 3 enquiries today....

Not only did I make it up to London and meet a potential new client I got back to find 3 more enquiries for SEO on top of the 7 detailed quotes I have to send out. I am predicting 5 out of 7 take up my services which always puts a nice big smile on my face.

Bring it on I say!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why be a wannabe SEO Rockstar?

I've been optimising websites for 8 years now and I've seen many people new to the SEO and internet marketing world immediately wanting to be treated like a world class guru or SEO Rockstar by others who already have an established and fantastic profile for these types of services.

The mistake most wannabe's make is that they jump straight into forums, blogs and other types of social media stating facts that everyone's known and discussed about years ago or stating such way out comments in an attempt to attract any kind attention.

So you want to be an SEO Rockstar then wannabe?

Let me tell you something, you've really got your work cut out and I think you would be better off chasing paid SEO work from clients and making money than attempting to try and stand out in a very saturated (and becoming increasingly so) market.

If you do decide that SEO and web marketing is where you want to carve out a niche, be respected and "famous" amongst your business peers then let me suggest you start at a local level. Build up a relationship with people local to you.

Get some word of mouth advertising about your ability to get websites ranked in Google. Trust me do this right and people will talk about and recommend you.

Ensure your own website shows up organically on Google's first page for competitive targeted keyword phrases of your own, basically put your money where your mouth is when you say you can SEO.

Maybe visit SES or SMX London or turn up for drinks at London SEO parties and quietly and confidently (not arrogantly there's a fine divide) build up contacts there.

Make sure during any of your networking activities you are looking out for the other person's interests you are talking too, help them and trust me karma will come round and give you back some.

Might take a while but it will work.

But please, please don't go online straight into the nearest forum making out your the next best thing in SEO, social media or PPC when no-one has a clue who you are. Trust me do this and you'll quite simply look a) desperate b) clueless c) ignorant d) very likely all 3!

I get results for my clients by positioning them on Google. I spent years building up a loyal customer following in the city I operate in. I regularly participated in forums to do with business and SEO. I slowly got to know people in the web marketing industry. I never tried to make out I am the best in business when liasing with people in this industry who I hold in the highest respect, though that's not say I'm pretty good mind you. ;)

The common theme for a lot of us successful in SEO is that we've put the hours in and we continue to do so. We do our own research to ensure clients achieve high rankings. We formulate our own thoughts and processes for SEO tasks. We build successful businesses knowing they won't very likely take off overnight. Do this and you too can be successful in the SEO world and make a very good living. Want too much fame too soon and unless you are one of the very, very lucky ones you'll end up potentially envious, bitter and twisted of others success.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

5 simple things to lift the conversion rate of your website

Some of you may have seen this type of thing before but for others looking to CONVERT more of the traffic that reaches your website then this is for you!

People arrive at your website and in this day and age a savvy user expects more than just a basic online shop front (whether consumer focused or B2B service orientated). Having a simple brochure website, especially in a recession forcing everyone else to lift their game, may as well say "don't bother with us, we don't respect our online visitors so go look at another website that will be more use to you."

So to help here's a brief list of 5 things you really should add to your website (and other pages where possible) to take that visitor and make them believe in your business and what good you are going to do for them.

They really are real simple and can be implemented at next to no cost.

1) The Power of Calls to Action

You've sold your product or service, listing its features and benefits to enhance someone else's life so now you have to make the visitor to your site do something. What thing do you want them to do? Buy in? Download a white paper? Ask for more details from you?

You'd be surprised how many business websites let/make the user figure out where to go next, this is frustrating to some, even more so if your navigation system is awkward to use or figure out.

Some examples of calls to action:

FREE Download Here
Buy Now
Add to Basket/Cart
Contact us here for more info
Sign up here for even bigger savings
Buy Today - 50% OFF Click Here

These are great but next to useless if your site is heavily laced with text. What you'll need is to create some buttons to stand out from the page - try this free button generator here

Make sure the text leading upto the button really solidifies what it is you are trying to promote, to reinforce to the user they really should be getting ready to do something (that "thing" being in your favour and not lactually eaving the website).

2) The Power of Testimonials

I built my first ever commercial website way back in 2000 and advised the client a few testimonials would be great. He did one better and sent through 3 pages worth.

The more testimonials you can incorporate on a page, the better. I believe users buy in from third party comments, so ensure you place testimonials prominently on your website's pages. The more people see what others think of you the more they are prone to wanting in and taking up your product or service! Its really that simple.

3) The Power of the Return Visitor

You will need analytics software such as Google Analytics (its free to use and simple to deploy in a basic format) to understand how many people return to your website.

Why do you want return visitors?

Because they are easier to convert into new business, they already have visited your website so know what to expect to a degree, trust what they see and are beginning to trust you as a business with some potential integrity.

I solved a business owners website in a matter of minutes last year due to him only wishing to focus on new visitors to the website. Sure they are important but we had set up goals on analytics tracking percentage of spend and the following figures came out:

In one month £10,000 was spent online by visitors to his website.

Roughly 10,000 to 12,000 people visited his website. For ease of calculation lets be conservative and say average 10,000 visitors per month.

8000 visitors were new to the website.
2000 visitors returned to the website.

£8000 was generated by 2000 RETURN visitors to the site whereas only £2000 of sales was generated by new visitors. For months this business owner had targeted new visitors to the website, only wanting people to buy from him "without going elsewhere"... I advised he was wasting energy as his thoughts were not consistent with web usage patterns generally (i.e. comparison shopping).

By ensuring he used better calls to action (with time limits) and making regular use of offers to entice people back to the website, increased that sales figure even further. Yes, new visitors are important to your online venture but make their visit to your website a positive, memorable one. This will increase the likelihood of leading them back at some point in the future, increasing your chances of a sale or enquiry.

4) The Power of Sticky Content

How do you make sure people stick around your website when most people's attention spans are traditionally very low when surfing the web?

A few things you'll need to consider:

  • Is your text too small to read?
  • Is it too closely spaced together making it difficult to read?
  • Is the content suitable for your audience's reading style?
  • Do they want in-depth content or just an overview with the option to delve deeper into the website?
Make your content easy to read, entertaining and on topic. When required use imagery to enhance the page as this tends to slow a readers pace down. Refer back to the Calls to Action section above but do remember to place CTA's strategically in your content, though do not overdo it as this can be tiresome and annoying for a reader.

Other ways are to place offers on your web pages and keep your content updated. If possible announce that your website has new content and if you keep a list of emails to market to then let them know. You want an offer that will really get people talking. These days too many businesses seem to offer such mediocre offers that float no-one's boat so with a little creativity you will be able to stand out from the crowd.

News items are great but unless you are dedicated you soon will have a website looking out of date especially when your last news item is showing as posted over 4 months ago!

5) The Power of Social Media

Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Delicious and more like blogs such as Wordpress and Blogger... you can waste hours or even days on these types of Social Media websites however they need to be reviewed as potentially useful tools for your website to generate interest from the online public.

It's best that you start by building a up a network of like minded folk who can help you promote your pages from a third party basis and you'll need to take care as too much self promotion is frowned upon.

If you can think of a social aspect to your business and apply leverage in the correct manner (i.e useful information pages, blogging, interesting or funny images) this can all help increase overall exposure to your website (and the number of links to it).

In Conclusion

These 5 relatively simple things you can do will all bring dividends, whether direct sales, more phone enquries or even greater brand exposure (i.e. with users spending more time on site). The principle activity your website needs to consider is monetizing every visitor to your website.

Let us know how you get on!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Optimisation doesn't always have to mean traditional SEO

Welcome to 2009!

I've been away for Xmas in the exotic location of Peterborough enjoying the company of my in-laws and putting on the pounds even more usual. But now the festive season is over I'm back and raring to go. I've already had 3 SEO enquiries in my first day back so its not all bad, apart from the New Year diet the wife's put me on! But then again I've 2 stone to lose (28 pounds) and I'm sat here pretty much starving, which will continue until my body gets used to it or I succumb to a pint of beer and a pie.

The upside today is that one of those enquiries asking for SEO lead me to discuss with the owner of the site to consider implementing a professional visual design first BEFORE the SEO takes place. The chap was adamant he would prefer web optimisation but my professionalism lead me to advise him that just because a website is optimised doesn't always have to mean it shows up organically high on Google.

My main concern is that having a properly optimised website that only offers a poor user experience is not going to help convincing a website user that your compamy is the one to do business with.

Yes it is a numbers game but if you are receiving 30 to 50 visitors a day and getting no conversions into sales then what are your chances if you increase to 300 or 500 (or more)? I'd say it will stay at 0%.

Better then to take those 30 visitors and impress them enough visually to convert say 3?

So if you are thinking of SEO I would recommend you consider the Visual and User based aspects of your website design (i.e. optimised web design) before you spend your money on potentially expensive Web Optimisation that leads to little or no conversions.

Its not always about the traditional SEO activity that will make you the pennies you're after.

Labels: ,