internet and web
The figures just released on Retail Sales over the Christmas period is a good indicator on the power and continual rise of online shopping and trading. Increasingly it is not just components such as cameras, computers and non perishable easily posted items that are purchased online. Retail businesses generally and particularly in creative, fashion and [...]
The figures just released on Retail Sales over the Christmas period is a good indicator on the power and continual rise of online shopping and trading. Increasingly it is not just components such as cameras, computers and non perishable easily posted items that are purchased online. Retail businesses generally and particularly in creative, fashion and interior furnishing sectors need to focus on how they can maximise sales and drive their margins by using online marketing channels.
As a case in point a Client I have worked with over many years contacted me a couple of months before Christmas. He had recently been appointed as marketing manager of a specialist, sustainable flooring company in Bristol and looking to see how digital marketing could expand sales of new products, drive special offers and stimulate interest and imagination in potential customers. Whilst their core business was in providing personalised, high quality carpeting and flooring solutions for commercial and domestic customers locally, they now wanted to reach beyond their business base in Bristol and the South West.
I therefore spent some time going through their business marketing model and identifying where modern technologies and marketing channels could be used to drive the business. They already had a good working web site so the key areas were identified as follows:
1. Email promotion of special offers and new products to their existing customer database.
2. Instore digital signage to create product awareness and stimulate customer interest.
3. Website promotion of special offers, fashion items and accessories.
4. A new web module enabling web customers to create their own flooring design from a wide range of options, have it made and delivered all online.
5. Using Social Media channels to create conversation, interaction and awareness.
Following these initial discussions in October Applause has now provided the following digital media solutions:
- Product photography
- Digital signage programme running on plasma screens in store
- A new special offer sustainable rugs feature on the Naked Flooring website
- A ‘Happy Christmas and New Year email to existing customers with special offers on fashion items and new product and we are shortly to go live with a new ‘My Rug Creator’ feature.
- If you would like your own customised Sisal Flooring - click here!
I am also now working with their team to develop and create engaging social media conversations through SM channels. In addition I will be helping their team analyse web traffic and direct sales result to determine the return on their investment.
Postcript: ROI achieved in within four weeks of the site module going live!
The Wales and West Wine and Beermakers Festival is traditionally held on the late spring bank holiday and this year coincided with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The event was a huge success attracting some 450 enthusiasts from all over the country. After the event the management team were straight on to working on the 2013 [...]
The Wales and West Wine and Beermakers Festival is traditionally held on the late spring bank holiday and this year coincided with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The event was a huge success attracting some 450 enthusiasts from all over the country.
After the event the management team were straight on to working on the 2013 event and immediately realised that because all the promotional material had been themed to the Jubilee a complete refresh would be required. A good point then to rethink the whole strategy and an opportunity to start with a fresh new look. Applause were asked to look not only at a new concept but to come up with ideas on how potential visitors who are not necessarily involved with clubs and affiliated associations could be attracted to the show
We suggested the potential of getting online retailers on board; as they are in regular contact with individual home brewers who buy supplies from them, by providing them with mailers to send out with orders WWWF could reach out to these potential customers. The idea was well received and we subsequently were able to sign up 8 major retailers who were happy to help.
WWWF were also keen to make their website more up to date and to consider creating an online booking facility. The existing site was now showing its age, built in 2006!, so they had had their money’s worth but time to refresh. The intervening years have seen the development of much more sophisticated and easy to use content managed systems such as WordPress, Joomla and many more. It was felt the WordPress would be the easiest to set up and understand and we have therefore created the site on this platform.
We have created a DL size mailer for the online retailers to send out providing a postal tear off, plus email and links to their new web registration facility. The usual 6pp A4 brochure plus 2pp booking form and A5 leaflet were redesigned and the website rebuilt from scratch using the WordPress platform. This provided the additional advantage of a CMS system that would allow members of the management to update pages themselves and also make a much easier transition when volunteers joined or left the team.
There are almost 15 billion online searches every month. Is your website sharp enough to capture those searches that relate to your business and create potential sales? Virtually everyone who uses a computer understands that Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines are designed to find relevant answers to the queries you make. [...]
There are almost 15 billion online searches every month. Is your website sharp enough to capture those searches that relate to your business and create potential sales?
Virtually everyone who uses a computer understands that Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines are designed to find relevant answers to the queries you make. Type in ‘Patio Barbeque’ and you will be rewarded with suppliers from all over the country. However since you may prefer not to drive hundreds of miles, perhaps a more local search would be useful. Modify the search to ‘Patio Barbeques in Bristol’, in my case, and this will return the local suppliers required.
From the opposite perspective if you run a business selling barbeques how will your website capture my search and entice me into your store. OK, that’s an easy one – by having a great website and being ranked first on page one.
You’re not there? Find out how you can apply a sharpening stone to your business website, generate traffic, website rank and sales.
- The search engine quest
- Key words and phrases for my business
- The tools you will need
- Tens, hundreds or thousands?
- The competition
1 – The Search Engine Quest
A search engine’s job for life is to supply accurate and appropriate answers to people’s questions. For example ask Google how many centimeters in a foot and 30.48 comes back instantly. Search engine companies spend huge sums perfecting the process of matching queries with answers. If you want to figure in their answers you have to help them, read on to see how.
2 – Keywords and Phrases for my Business
Researching and establishing the right key words and phrases for your business is really the first thing to be done even before you build a website and will save a lot of work later on. However its fair to say that most site owners approach this after their site has been constructed. It is a threefold process: 1. research relevant key words, 2. identify the amount of search traffic they generate, 3. determine the strength of the competition. This will be time consuming but worth it when done properly. You often see advertisements from companies asserting that they will get you on page one instantly, however, more often than not, if you probe deeper you will find these listings of little or no value simply because no-one is actually using those terms. The first two tasks therefore are to find key phrases that relate to your business AND potential customers who are using that term, the third is to analyse just how strong the competition is for those key words. For example, if you run a small book shop and want to rank for the phrase ‘books and novels’, you’ll find your competitors for page one are Amazon and nine other massive organisations all of whom have thousands of pages on their website, millions of backlinks and mostly page rank 5 and above. Forget it, you’re not going to get past them! The trick therefore is to find key phrases that, to go back to my restaurant theme, are little back street gems. They relate to your business but perhaps in a more niche area, and Amazon is nowhere in sight. The Google Adwords key word research tool is ideal for this task.
3 – The Tools needed to help Search Engines to find You
When a search engine looks for an answer to a query, it goes through the billions of pages in its databases looking for matches and those that it finds are graded in order of importance. Of course we would all like to know exactly how that grading process works and needless to say they aren’t going to tell us! So common sense is probably the best measure here – if you want to find a good restaurant what do you do? Ask your friends, look for a recommendation in a local publication, see how many stars it has, is it busy, does it look inviting. If a restaurant passes all these tests you walk in. Although the methods and algorithms are incredibly complex this is pretty much what a search engine does to determine whether a site is worth recommending. So apply these principles to your webpages; is the page relevant to the search, ie does it contain the search term in all the right places; does it have interesting and unique content; is it easy to navigate and are related topics all linked and easy to find; do other people find the website’s content valuable and interesting and have shown this by linking to it.
These are the basic building blocks of well optimised, professional web pages and Applause can provide help and advice for anyone who needs more information on how to achieve this, but here I want to concentrate on how to determine what those key phrases should be in the first place and how they affect your web strategy.
4 – Tens, Hundreds and Thousands
So to summarise, the essence of keyword and phrase selection is to work hard on finding those still relevant to your business with hundreds or thousands of searches per month but with less then ten large competitors. Remember, do not be disheartened if there are a number of insurpassable competitors on page one; like the joke about the two missionaries who come face to face with a lion, when one puts on his running shoes, the other exclaims ‘ you’ll never outrun that lion’ to which he replies ‘no, I just have to outrun you!’
5 – The Competition
So you have identified the key phrase search terms that you want to target, now you need to assess the competition. To do this you need to consider the key metrics search engines use to determine the importance of a website and compare your competitors’ to your own.
- Age of website
- Page rank
- Amount, relevance and uniqueness of content
- Presence of key words in domain, title, description, meta tags, head and content of the web page
- Links within the website
- External links
- Links to recognised web directories such as DMOZ
Take each key phrase, if you find the competition is too strong move to another until you find competitors who are within range. Do not spend months optimising your website for a key phrase where you have little prospect of surpassing the competition.
A valuable tool for this analysis is Market Samurai or the SEOMoz toolset amongst other alternatives.
6 – Winning
Finding and competing for the right key phrases is critical. Even if many hours of work moved your site from position 100 to position 20 for a given phrase it might look, and is, a huge achievment but it is unlikely to generate any return for the investment of time and energy. Spend your time building site performance in less competitive areas, once you have successfully built page one status, traffic will increase and generate links. As the relevance of your site builds so will page rank and soon you will be able to compete at a higher level, taking on the competitors who, at the outset, were considered to be out of reach.
I hope reading this article will give an insight into what you need to do to give your website a competitive razor edge. Applause is an small independent business specialising in digital media and marketing. If you would like help or advice on any of the aspects of the above article please call 0117 933 4416 or browse these web pages for more information.
Why your social media persona is important. How you can create a professional visual presence for free. Once upon a time to market your business all you needed were some business cards a telephone and perhaps if you were flush with start up capital – a brochure and an ad in [...]
Why your social media persona is important.
How you can create a professional visual presence for free.
Once upon a time to market your business all you needed were some business cards a telephone and perhaps if you were flush with start up capital – a brochure and an ad in yellow pages.
How times change; in today’s multi channel marketing world a whole variety of tools are at your disposal each requiring it own discipline. And, the pace of change gets faster and faster new technologies are almost tumbling over one another to gain ascendancy. One of the newest, and probably most controversial, is Social Media Marketing sometimes referred to as Socialnomics, only a few years old but now experiencing huge exponential growth, and whether you believe they are a complete waste of time or valuable tool enabling direct contact with your target audience one thing is certain, this style of communication is here to stay.
From a business perspective, although there are a host of browser based software options, the recognised front runners are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (use these links to connect if you like !) and although these are very different marketing platforms they have one thing in common – the ‘Avatar’ or the little square picture sitting top left of screen. This was the point during your signing up for an account with one of these social media vendors when you were presented with an ‘upload your photo’ button, and thought, “Good grief, where can I find a photo”. Rummaging in the attic and finally resorting to the one of you grinning at the camera whilst in the Costas. Much in the same way as in the past you might have thought “I need some business cards” and nipped down to the local copy shop.
The result is largely the same – unprofessional, creating negative impact and damaging the perception of you and your business.
Why so? When you are having a face to face communication, you have an opportunity to build rapport and create a good impression, the business card is secondary, albeit still important. Not with #SM when someone links to you that little picture is all they’ve got. That’s why it is important.
So I thought it might be useful to provide a few hints and tips on how to create an Avatar that will give a professional impression and it won’t necessarily cost a bean.
Firstly consider how want to use Social Media and what you think the viewer will be looking for. If you are marketing a product you manufacture – a picture of it; a service that you provide – a photo of you; an abstract, like a community or charity could be an iconic image or logo.
Secondly bear in mind size. Avatars are a tiny squares and you want yours to convey your message. A photo of you in front of your wonderful new premises looks great on the website and press release but will be reduced to unidentified blobs at this size.
Here’s how – First off, get out the digital camera and take your picture. Now I did say ‘for free’ so YOU have to take the picture but if you really don’t get photography then employ the family camera enthusiast or bring in a professional there are super people around who will do this for less that £100 and provide you with range of shots you can use in a variety of ways. Here are some I hadshot by Blue Skies Photography in Redfield, Bristol [OK it did cost me something!). Note the composition and usage of a plain grey or my brand colour background to provide a space to superimpose a logo or keyword.
If DIY is your choice here are some handy hints:
- Use natural light but not direct sun and not flash (window light is good for portraits)
- Make sure the background is uncluttered (there won’t be room for much background anyway)
- Wear clothes that contrast with the background and convey your style (professional, trendy etc)
- Make the subject occupy at least a third of the picture area (cameras today have plenty of resolution for this purpose but bear in mind you might want to use this shot for other purposes)
- Consider using some bright colour (background, clothes flowers perhaps)
OK so now you have your picture and imported into the computer the final stage is to prepare the image for upload. You will need some image editing software to do this, if you are lucky enough to have a copy of Photoshop or Fireworks you are good to go. But there are many free applications you can use, GIMP is a good example that will do all you need (‘FREE but do make the donation).
The task is to adjust and crop the image to the size required so that you have exactly the right image to upload. If you have Photoshop likely you’ll know what to do so I’m leaving you to your own devices. If not download and install the GIMP from here http://www.gimp.org/ . Here’s quick ‘how to’ adjust and crop a photo for your avatar:
1. Open a photo file, I’ve picked a flower photo so we can assume this is for a florist’s Twitter avatar photo.
3. Now you crop the area to select the portion of the image you want to use. On the tool panel on the left find the ‘craft knife’ icon (I’ve ringed it red on my screen image) and select it, you can now draw an area over the image, you can also fine tune your selection by dragging the corner handles (remember you want to end up with a square format). Once you are happy hit <enter> and save your image (use a different filename if you want to keep the original. All that remains is to set the image to the correct size, most Social Media programmes use 100 x 100 or 200 x 200 pixel images for avatars. Go to the <Image>/<Scale Image> menu to adjust the size of the final image the whichever size you require and do a final save.
This is clearly a very quick snapshot and there are a host of tools and features within the software that will allow you to manipulate your avatar photo in a host of ways. Have a play and see what you come up with – but remember the final photo will need to reflect the professional image you want to portray so don’t get too carried away!
London property developer London Wharf plc came back to Applause to revamp the site produced for them in 2006. Formed in 1993, London Wharf PLC has forged a reputation for developing high quality homes in and around London and is one of the capital’s leading niche property developers. Through meticulous detailing from the initial concept [...]
London property developer London Wharf plc came back to Applause to revamp the site produced for them in 2006.
Formed in 1993, London Wharf PLC has forged a reputation for developing high quality homes in and around London and is one of the capital’s leading niche property developers.
Through meticulous detailing from the initial concept stages to final completion, bold innovative design, and the fusion of modern and traditional building techniques, has resulted in recognition by numerous industry awards.
Director David Lewin said ” We were delighted with the clean design and clear message of the original site but wanted to take advantage of the latest modern search engine optimisation techniques and the larger screen sizes now common. Applause have now refreshed the site and provided advantage in design and optimisation.”
In 2004 AMD Lofts commissioned Applause to build a web site for them combined with a multi-media CDROM which would assist in marketing the company and drive traffic to the website. The website and CDROM have worked extremely well for the company in the intervening years, creating a professional high quality image that proved to [...]
In 2004 AMD Lofts commissioned Applause to build a web site for them combined with a multi-media CDROM which would assist in marketing the company and drive traffic to the website. The website and CDROM have worked extremely well for the company in the intervening years, creating a professional high quality image that proved to be key in winning major building and loft conversion contracts.
However the original site, designed to work well with the smaller computer monitors and dial up internet connections of the day, now needed a makeover to optimise today’s technologies. AMD came back to us to provide design ideas and costings and once again chose Applause to carry out the web revisions which included a larger screen format, high quality images, interactive portfolio module and streaming audio testimonials.
The latest thinking on search engine performance, social media marketing of the company and web analytics has also been integrated which enable the Directors of AMD to monitor and assess the return on their investment [ROI].
A further module is planned for the new year which will encompass full 3D flythrough of key projects.
One of the unique attributes of Applause is that we build long term, trusting relationships with our clients. Although cost is always a key element in any business transaction we consider that, in most cases, it isn’t the primary element because people want to do business with people they like, trust and can rely on. [...]
One of the unique attributes of Applause is that we build long term, trusting relationships with our clients.
Although cost is always a key element in any business transaction we consider that, in most cases, it isn’t the primary element because people want to do business with people they like, trust and can rely on. Of course they also want competitive pricing!
To illustrate my point, two clients with whom we have built such a relationship have just commissioned us to rebuild their website. One originally developed in 2004 the other in 2006. Sure proof of their trust in our reliability, competence and value for money.
Specifically they are using our services again because:
- Doing business with us was a very positive experience.
- The original work was of a quality and design to last 3 and 5 years respectively.
- Mutual trust has developed over time because of our reliability, attention to detail and the level of support we have provided.
- The price was right for the project both times.
Sceptical? Check out our linked in profile where you will find testimonials from clients we have been working with for up to 15 years. http://uk.linkedin.com/in/applause
There is just one way to create such a relationship and that is to build it. And a good place to start is with a phone call – 0117 933 4416.
Here are some of the ways we build trust and get Applause!
- We do what say we say going to do.
- We follow up and ensure you are happy with things.
- We are interested in what you do.
- We find out what you want and exceed your expectation.
- We stick to the price.
- We set out an understanding of requirement.
- We communicate, communicate, communicate.
- We are always helpful, the reward is always worth the time.
Here I will help you understand what makes a web page perform well in Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. I’m considering linking rather than page structure and content, I will do that another time, for now we’ll assume that you have a search engine friendly website full of pages with interesting content about what you [...]
Here I will help you understand what makes a web page perform well in Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. I’m considering linking rather than page structure and content, I will do that another time, for now we’ll assume that you have a search engine friendly website full of pages with interesting content about what you do.
Like me you probably use search engines in two ways. Your either searching for a product or service for yourself or you’re wanting people to find you when they are searching for a product or service that you provide. The search engine, for its part, wants to keep everybody happy by responding with relevant and useful information. Of course for every subject there will be thousands or millions of pages, so to determine which are the most relevant the search engine analyses each and gives ‘brownie points’ or pagerank according to all the positive elements it finds. When asked the search question it then presents those pages in descending order.
So ‘brownie points’ for our pages is what we’re looking for and a primary source of these are backlinks or links to your page from another page. Sources of these can be directory listings, forums, links from other web pages and published articles but vary considerably in the value (number of points) they give to your page. Consequently it is a useful exercise to understand how this process works so that you can intelligently apply the time you spend building links according to their value.
Let us take a look at how search engines assess your page. Taking Google as an example when it analyses a page the first thing it will do is search for links to that page in its index, links on pages outside of the index will not be seen and therefore will not count. Secondly, having found pages, it will look at the overall site pagerank (0-9, the BBC have a 9) then analyses them for local rank, that is, do they contain key words or phrases that are also contained in your page and the targeted search phrase.
Imagine someone gives you a bag of ‘pick n mix’ at the cinema, you like big sweets (pr 9s), strawberry flavour and jellies; so you go through bag picking all the strawberry flavoured sweets and all the jellies but the very best are the big strawberry jellies.
Ok so all our links will be big strawberry jellies – ideal maybe but tough, because likely these pages will be your competitors and they are not likely to provide you with links; and if you do get a link on the BBC site let me know how! But we can improvise our way round these problems by writing our own pages containing the keywords we seek and post them out to other sites with good page rank that will be in Googles index. And don’t forget, using my analogy, you will still be munching the other sweets in the bag. Lesser links whilst not favourites still add value such as directories and social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
To summarise, think about the key phrases you want to be found by and the relevance of the links you seek; manage your time between building easy links which can be done quickly, such as directories and social media, but don’t add huge value; and writing article submissions, building a blog, posting to forums and engaging in social media which do take time but provide high value.
Plan and execute your strategy carefully and be patient, Google aren’t known for speedy responses, and you will be rewarded with highly ranked pages which lead to more traffic and more business.
Today most companies and SMEs have a website. Often start up businesses develop their website before they find an accountant or finalise their business plan. However once the site is up and running and despite all the current hype about search engines, social media and mobile communications, often the poor old website is then left [...]
Today most companies and SMEs have a website. Often start up businesses develop their website before they find an accountant or finalise their business plan. However once the site is up and running and despite all the current hype about search engines, social media and mobile communications, often the poor old website is then left completely to its own devices.
This is not unreasonable, many SMEs have their work cut out managing the day to day running of their business and actually getting the work done that pays the bills; and the processes involved in measuring the performance of a website historically have not been exactly user friendly.
Nevertheless consistent marketing of your business is key, especially in difficult market conditions and your online presence is one of the most important tools in communicating to potential customers. So it is important to get the very best return on the time and money invested in it.
Now Applause has an answer to the problem; we are offering a free visual website profile that will give you a simple visual analysis of how your website is performing and how it measures against those of your competitors. It will also tell you what you need to do to outrank the competition and you can opt to receive a monthly update showing how improvements are affecting the profile on an ongoing basis.
Our FREE profiler presents the following information in a simple and easy to understand graphical format : 1. Three key tasks you can complete to improve web performance; 2. Your google page rank for your top ten chosen key words you would like to be found by; 3. your ten nearest competitor websites (very useful for subsequent analysis).
We can also provide an in depth analysis report which provides the following information:
Overview: SEO score, Content score, Visibility Score, Top 3 Issues, Key Performance Indicators, Keyword Analysis, Competitor Keyword Analysis, Links to research and related articles.
SEO Score: No of incoming links, Link authority, Keyword cloud, Link domain, Link domain extension, Dmoz listing, Yahoo listing.
Content Score: Internal/External link analysis, Content/tag analysis
Visibility Score: Best search engine positions by key phrase, Overview of visibility, Best SE positions, Monthly evolution reports, Graphical evolution key performance indicators
Competitor Analysis: Top ten competitor analysis by keyword/by search engine/by competitor
Keyword Analysis Tool
If you would like to out rank the competition and take advantage of our no obligation free offer call 0117 933 4416.
Once you have embarked on social media networking one of the hardest things in the beginning is building your network because at the start you don’t know anyone. Networking to your existing clients and colleagues gets you going but what you really want is to find new people, who you may have something in common [...]
Once you have embarked on social media networking one of the hardest things in the beginning is building your network because at the start you don’t know anyone. Networking to your existing clients and colleagues gets you going but what you really want is to find new people, who you may have something in common with, be able to give or share information and ultimately who may help you find new business.
Perhaps you have already acquired a Linked In, Facebook, or Twitter account or more recently signed up for Google Plus, established your profile and put up a photo of yourself or business logo. Do remember that people will use this ‘Avatar’, as they are known, and your username (my Twitter ID is instantApplause) to find you and get an idea of who you are and what you do. A social media software page is a crowded place, rather like meeting someone at a station where you wear something brightly coloured, you need to be visible to be instantly recognised. A similar amount of effort needs to go into designing your identity as your business card or brochure. Many social networkers change their ID monthly, I think it is a mistake. Successful companies rarely change their identity and you shouldn’t either.
You may also have fed your email address list into the social media software application to see if anyone you have emailed has a profile; and signed up for some groups that you feel are relevant to your business. All of these techniques will build your network and set you on your way but in some instances can be very time consuming.
Here is a method that you may not have considered which involves querying Google with some structured search requests aimed at the specific networking software you use. The idea is that every profile page contained on the web will have key interests listed. Say for instance you run a small business selling rare formula 1 posters and catalogues, by searching for ‘Formula 1′ you will pick up anyone who lists Formula 1 in their profile. You can locate people who may have an interest in your business that you would not easily be able to find in any other way.
Of course having found this information you will need to consider how you might introduce yourself. You need to avoid being regarded just as a spammer and rejected, and in many applications there are penalties for this. LinkedIn for instance will terminate your account of you persistently have people returning ‘I Don’t Know This Person’ in response to your introductions. Perhaps in this example offer some free historical information or a list of rare posters you have to offer – just use your imagination to come up with an approach that will attract the person you want to connect with. At the end of the day everyone registered with a networking facility is looking to expand their network, gain new information and connect with people. Provided your approach is honest, respectful and does not amount to 500 words of ‘buy from me buy from me’ people will respond to you.
Here is a list of search terms you can Google.
Linkedin: site:linkedin.com inurl:in ‘formula 1′
Facebook site:facebook.com/people ‘silverstone’
Twitter site:twitter.com inurl:status ‘grand prix’
MySpace site:profile.myspace.com inurl:myspace inurl:fuseaction ‘cosworth’
Bebo site:.bebo.com inurl:profile inurl:bebo ‘brands hatch’
Finally remember this; although it may seem daunting at first and progress creepingly slow it does gather pace exponentially. As your network grows the faster it will expand, connect to us if you like using the links that follow, we’re always happy to network.