The Art Of Internet Marketing

Last week, I had a rather nice discussion with a top SEO in Liverpool. It was regarding the tricky subject of SEO outsourcing. Like others, we receive lots of unsolicited emails from companies who wish to partner with us. It’s very tough, as our reputation is the key component of our business strategy. To make sure we find the right candidate, we try to have a discussion around current marketing issues and this brought up some interesting points…

The way advertising used to work, is by interrupting you, by intruding on your TV or radio show, or with full page ads in print. Then the smart companies – all of whom produce very average products like soap and toothpaste – would take everything they earned and reinvest it back into more ads. Eventually, having heard or seen the message enough times, you might try the blue box instead of the yellow box, next time you’re in need for what’s in the box.

These days… the best advertising comes from your friends. From social networks. From the conversations of people with like minds and tastes.

What you need to do is to create something remarkable. Special enough that it evokes emotion and compels people to leave comments on your blog and discuss the idea. To be successful in today’s market, you need a product worth talking about.

Then you need to create a story. It’s the story that people will relate to, claim as their own, and repeat to anyone who would listen. If you tell a better story, you can ask a lot higher price for your product. Then having a remarkable product, and an exceptional story, people will find you, and buy your product for the story. They’ll want to tell their friends, family, coworkers and anyone else who will listen.

Suddenly everyone is running around telling your story. They start doing the interrupting, that the advertising used to do. That’s what it means to be remarkable. In the near future… who knows? Maybe you’ll create something remarkable, package it in a marvellous story, and have everyone talking… doing the interrupting, that advertising used to do.

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Analytics – Basic Help We all Need

Analytics, it all sounds rather easy, but where do you start? Everyone should always be testing. But you need to start with the idea of a scent, and grow from there. Let’s take a look. Summit online marketing our Liverpool based SEO company, has always tried to provide tips for our readers. Read this post for some basic Analytics help.

Tip Focus on the high traffic areas with big revenue potentials: landing pages, site overall, internal site search pages, and leaky funnels.

How do you know if the page is actually broken, or the keywords?

Lets start with a metaphor: Imagine a map of Liverpool. Now you’ve just been hired you to minimise traffic accidents in the city. What will you do first? Look for: where is most of the traffic? Where are the most accidents occurring? Do we have wrong or no street signs? Seasonality issues like rain or snow? Timing: any events going on at the Echo arena?

It also helps to know your website. Maybe you want to watch a friend click about, and navigate through your site.

I know from experience that when you start going into the reports, the data is overwhelming.

Have a look at a standard Google Analytics report. Look across the top at the traffic over time for a selected date range. Do you know what bounce rate is? It’s when people leave right after coming to your website. Below that, we tell you geographically where people come from, and then virtually where people come from. On the left side navigation, we start with the visitors, the content, the goals, then the e-commerce.

Understanding that mental model and applying it can really help.

The most relevant part of the reports is in the content section. Any one of those sections will have great data for you to look at. Number of entrances and landing pages, bounces and bounce rate. Bounce rates are a big opportunity.

Next is funnel reports, one of my favorites, do you know about this? People can enter through the center or side of funnels and you want to look at where people are leaving the funnels, the leaky pages. It’s valuable to know something about your site. Where people are exiting is a great place to start.

Then I have a look at site overlays, where people are clicking, converting, buying. It’s very useful. Just looking at this you can come up with some great ideas. Maybe switch placements of products or services on the page. It will give you some ideas.

Internal site search: basically, if you have a search box on your website, are people using search within your website? We have a whole section of reports on site search. Where did visitors start their searches and which page did visitors find?

Back to the question: how do you know if it’s the ad or the page?

We have Analytics pages on landing page optimisations: shows keywords and entrances. You select “non-paid” keywords, and take a look at the bounce rates. Take a look to see if the page is the problem. Select “paid” keywords, and it tells you 0% bounce rate! So that means it’s not the ad copy that needs rewriting, it’s the page that needs attention.

One practical tip: I’ve worked for small and big companies; sometimes in a small company you can go to the main point of the website. But in a big company you sometimes need some consensus building: I believe in something but I really needed my client to believe in it. So start small, focus on improving one area of the site.

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Igniting your Viral Campaigns

Online marketing strategy will usually involve Viral marketing.

What is viral marketing and social media? Which methods work, and what typically goes viral?

Viral marketing: A top SEO will tell you it’s to spread information quickly. At it’s essence, word of mouth marketing online. Supercharged. The web allows things to move quickly.

What is social media? In short – a giant conversation online. So many different avenues, networks – places for people to talk online.

Who has a company blog, who has a personal blog?

Blogs and microblogs: Check out Technorati directory. Blogs are highly consumable. Easy for people to read and they get it. People are used to it. Good place to put message. Allows comments, discussion, linking. On the other side, you want bloggers to link to you and talk about your stuff. You have to look at it from both ways.

Social networking: Ask most people – they will say Facebook and Twitter, once upon a time it was Myspace. Just one component. These are the big ones. There are more niche ones – like myartspace.com which is for artists that share a common interests. Look and see beyond the big ones – look at the ones in your niche – the ones you should build a presence on.

Online video: More than uploading and telling friends. A place where people can comment and respond. A quick way to spread message. A good video like ‘will it blend’ spreads easily. Youtube makes it easy for people to link directly.

Forums and groups: Often most overlooked. Forums are most powerful for expert advice and groups. Strong and passionate communities. One key take away regarding forums is a site called Bigboards.com which ranks forum sizes. The biggest ones are niche – Paintball, Volkswagens, Bodybuilding. Look at the forums in your niche and build a presence. Get involved. Talk to people. Look at logs of a viral campaign to see the forum activity.

Social news and bookmarking: The big guys are Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious (although some on this list may close soon). They’re more than just bookmarking. It’s about allowing people to see what your interested in. With Digg there is a large barrier to entry because its competitive. In any niche, there’s a social news site for you.

Our SEO training If your content gets to the top of Mount Digg, it will result in millions of viewers. The traffic is good. But most important is how it influences other sites. Bloggers need Digg and social network to find content and information. Gets popular and people bookmark it, IM, email it. Reporters also use these sites to find content. It’s a way to get people who know nothing about you to find out about your company. Lots of eyeballs and info spread.

What is good content that goes viral?

* Lists – Lists work. Shows 10 commandments which started the trend.
* How To’s – People love how to’s. “how to tip like a gentlemen”, etc.
* Surveys – “top 25 best nights out “. Don’t have to interview thousands of people to get this content.
* Comprehensive – Something that’s comprehensive, that will be a strong resource – that a .gov will want to link to.
* Strong opinions – It can backfire – if it’s controversial it can go viral bot not in the best way.
* Best of lists – People love best ofs. Best of the Beatles. They love it.
* Calculators, tools, anything that helps people do something better. Great ways to get people excited about your stuff.
* Video: Must be interesting and makes people go “wow”. Will it blend is the classic example of a boring product made interesting in a video.
* Widgets – great for people to put things on their site and builds links.
* Quizzes, badges – makes people put them on their site or pages, and spreads.

Ending tips:

Have clear goals and objectives. Lots of people come to Summit Online Marketing asking to do something on Facebook – but why? What’s the goal? Promote great content. Don’t do something half-baked. Do something great – take extra time. Contribute to communities. Find the right communities that make sense to you. Build relationships on these sites. Give back. Make the sites work better.

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Adwords Quality Score Help Part 1

As an Online marketing company with our web SEO and PPC training it’s very common to get questions on Google Adwords quality scores.

More and more, ranking positively in paid search listings is less about how much you pay and more about the “quality” of your ad campaign. But what goes into making up your quality score? We’ll take a closer look at quality factors and give tips on increasing the perceived relevancy of your campaigns.

What is a Quality Score? The old model is kind of a bid to position situation. Quality score essentially is a dynamic value assigned to each keyword, and is the basis for defining quality and relevancy of your ad. So the higher your quality score, the lower your minimum bid and the higher your ad placement.

Google rolled out Quality Score in 2005, and they revised the algorithm in 2007 to incorporate landing page relevance, and then later on allowed their users to see it

The key thing is that Google believe that delivering more relevant ads would create more value for users. If search engines can deliver more relevance that makes them look good and then you look good.

So Quality Score is a way to make searches more relevant.

Where to find the Quality Score? You need to drill down to the ad groups and specifically shows each of the keywords, you need to click on “customise columns” and then quality score. So it gives you a feeling of how good or poor your keywords are.

Historical click through rate for each keyword affects your Quality Score, the relevance of the ads and the quality of landing page. Also your account history, history of all click through rates and ads in your account. Of course there are factors as well that won’t be revealed to us.

Relevance and landing page are the key things.

Case study: We had a client who came to us as part of their whole SEO outsourcing requirement. They were managing their own campaign and they currently had an average minimum bid of 40 pence, and 5 ad groups, and each ad group had 100 keywords. It turned out that 72% of their keywords had poor Quality Scores.

So the first thing we did was come in and create more, smaller, more relevant ad groups. Then we developed more relevant ad copy for each group. Then we optimised the landing page using Google’s web optimiser. And we tested to see what was and was not working. So some results: the average minimum CPC went down to about 8 pence, click through rates went up about 11%, conversions went up from 2.6% to 4.2% within 2 weeks, the quality score for over 50% of the keywords went from poor to great. And then after a month, anything that still had a poor rating, we just deleted them altogether.

So the key thing is you need to test and keep an eye on quality score. Many people miss out on this.

Hot tip: You probably should allocate about 10%-15% of your budget specifically to testing. You will learn what’s working and what’s not working.

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404 or 301 Your Old Pages? Which is Best For SEO?

We’ve had a bit of a discussion at SEO Liverpool about getting did of multiple subpages & not get penalised. The discussion is around the topics of using different techniques when removing or redirecting pages.

Which is better to do for SEO? Do you want to 301, redirect a page, or 404, return a not found status, a page?

I can tell you that the best SEO companies think about this fairly frequently. At Summit we take different approaches for different sites. I try, try hard, to not think only about SEO and think what would also benefit the user.

Here is my guide:

301 redirect everything you possibly can, when it makes sense. If you have a page about big blue pineapple chairs on the old site and you are moving it to the new site, 100% use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. However, sometimes it is not that easy.

Sometimes you have a site with hundreds, if not thousands of pages, if not more. Manually redirecting each page is a huge chore. When we can, we set up logic based 301 redirects, to redirect the old URL to the new URL dynamically. That can result in thousands of redirects, but Google should handle those fine over time.

For all the pages that do not match that pattern or logic AND for sites where there is no logic (large, old, non-database driven sites), you want to manually redirect the most important pages. So make sure you have analytics installed on the previous site, way before launching the new site – this way you have the 301 redirects in place, on the most important pages, when you launch.

Then, all other pages, I typically set up a 404 page, returning a valid 404 status code, plus it is set up as a custom 404, so users who land on it, have an avenue to find the right page.

Some people have suggested that sometimes you should think about setting up what is called a “soft” 404 page. Basically, a soft 404 page, is a page that looks like a page not found page, but returns a server status of 200, meaning, the page is valid and active and should not be deleted. The only issue I see with that, is that the URL of the page will be different but the content of the page will be very similar, if not exact, to the other soft 404 pages you set up. Of course, if you are a smart coder, you can look at the Google referrer or the old page’s data and serve up contextual relevant product or content on that page, which would make the page’s content more unique.

So, like I said, it totally depends on the situation and your search engine marketing experience.

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How to Create a Social Media Storm

At Summit Online Marketing we’re frequently asked as part of our Search Engine Optimization Training the same question. It usually starts with… “we’ve really good content that we want to get thousands of visitors to, how do we do it”?

This short guide should come in useful.

With social media optimisation (SMO), it helps an awful lot if you either know the right people or are active in the places where you are looking to target. Once you do or are it is fairly easy. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your good content and your SMO campaign, for once you find your feet:

Forget Digg: I know it has been said many times, but it is even more true then ever now. For nine out of ten sites Digg is a big waste of time and getting any kind of e-commerce site on the homepage is virtually impossible. The only people who look in the upcoming section are the digg staff and fellow marketers. Spend 30 seconds getting your free link and then move on.

Planning is Everything: Make a list of all of the social media websites you are going to submit your content to and then work out roughly how long you think it is going to take for your content to go popular on each site. For example with Reddit you can be fairly sure that if your content is going to go popular, it will do within and hour or two. With Mixx it will normally take a good 6 hours and with Stumbleupon you just can’t tell, so you leave that out of the equation.

Once you have done this you need to choose a time for when you are going to plan to have all of your submissions go popular. You might say to yourself, I want all of my submissions to be going popular 7 hours from now at 11.00pm. Then you add the time you need to submit next to each social media site on your list.

Go to work and do everything as planned. If you have submitted to all of the major social sites and if all of the elements are in the equation, then when the time comes you should be able to make it into the top 10 on popurls and you should be getting a load of traffic from JimmyR.com. I have had over 3,000 uniques from popurls.com and I have had over 2,500 uniques from JimmyR.com. If you make it into the top 10 on popurls you have won and you will generally receive over 50,000 unique visitors in a short space of time and lots of trackbacks.

Once you have started to go popular on some of the social media sites our SEO training has shown us that you can make your content go a lot further by dealing with negative comments. There are lots of different ways to do this and trying to talk to the negative commenter(s) isn’t always the best one, here are a few ideas:

* Have all of your friends down vote the negative comments heavily
* Take the mick out of the negative commenter(s) or their comments
* If they have a good point, you might want to think about possibly changing your content

With good SEO SEM planning you can consistently get content to go popular on the social media sites, generate buzz and generate trackbacks.

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Tips for finding Niche Keywords Part 1

These days, most search engine marketing companies have access to all the common research tools. For this post we’ll explore one of my all-time favourites, Wordtracker (You should all know the link). Let’s start with a short intro, and talk about solving some common keyword research problems. Then I’ll share some quick and easy “how to” tips that will help you find a profitable niche.

A few years ago, I wrote an post about Wordtracker. After publishing the post, I had the privilege of dealing directly with Wordtracker support, and answering all sorts of keyword related questions. I spent months teaching companies how to tap into keyword phrases, trends and niches. But the real treasure I discovered, is that many customers were not finding the best keywords, because of the natural tendency to “guess” at keywords, rather than open up and fully explore the existing data, to reveal a wealth of information along the way.

First tip: Stop guessing about keyword phrases that people “might” be entering into the search box.

One of the biggest hurdles is trying to “dictate to the data, which keywords that you ***THINK*** are most relevant, instead of letting the Wordtracker system reveal the best information to you. Look at it this way… if you think in the identical fashion that everyone else thinks – by relying on keywords that are already lodged in your mind based upon your experiences – then the more you will be thinking like the rest of your competition. The more we rely on our thinking process for keywords that “make the most sense” to our brains, the more we tend to discover exactly the same keywords, that the rest of the world is discovering and targeting. That’s why it’s easy to get disappointed and feel like there are no untapped niche phrases available. In this mindset, we find only limited results based on logical guess work. What this usually means is… huge numbers of competing pages, all trying to rank for deadly dull, obvious phrases.

You can build your SEO skills to compete in highly competitive phrases – and you can win the game too – but that’s not the point. A much wiser approach is to learn how to “think differently” and explore the data that 99% of the competition never will see or find. When you research single keywords using Wordtracker’s powerful comprehensive search functionality, you will discover multiple instances of how a specific word is being used within different phrases, but without any guess work at all. Try working with a single, action related “root word.” Now listen carefully. Your root word does not have to be a word that your logical thinking dictates. For example… what happens if you research a term in its most generic form, and let Wordtracker piece together HOW that word is being used. This is one of the rare times when using human brilliance – or natural logic – can actually prevent you from seeing the most powerful truths.

The next post will give you a few creative examples to get you started…

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Some Excellent Search Marketing Advice

Some quick tips for budding SEO company or in-house SEO’s

Strategy deployment and competition

Check your competition… simply try and have more content rich pages than them. Assuming you have the same amount of content and same amount of links. Treat it like a head to head race. Then improve your navigation and architecture to get the edge.

Assume we all have healthy marketing budgets to allocate towards these strategies. What do we do? We allocate a % towards each strategy. Because we know it works, and have demonstrated this. That’s what the bigger firms do. Implement as many strategies you can within that budget. Choose the ones based on looking at your competition. Not hard to find out the strategies they’ve deployed already. If you conduct good research, you won’t need to deploy all these strategies. Implement as many as you can afford and make sure you have conversion processes.

A bit about conversion.

Create a measurable goal for each page. Lots of pages have great filler and content, but don’t compel readers to take action. Capture an email, lead, sale, etc. Have a clear call to action at the end of the page to get to the next step. Put an phone number on there, or a simple a link that advances the process. Don’t make users search for the call to action.

When collecting personal info, make people feel secure about it. Get a security certificate. Some laws require it. Make the contact page have multiple mechanisms of communication. This is your opportunity to increase conversion rate.

Your ideal SEO team:

Designer
Web Developer
Content Writer
Marketing Manager
Wiz Technical Manager
Expert SEO Specialist
Expert Strategist that’s done it more than once

SEO Liverpool would appreciate your feedback

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7 Proven Tips That Will Get You To Number 1

Some SEO tips from the offices of SEO Liverpool company Summit Online Marketing.

Now everyone has heard that content is king. It’s really all about the text, video, images in a keyword rich environment.

* Tip 1: Get good copy to support the keyword research. If it’s an appliance part – find images and text to support it. Video too.

* Tip 2: Navigation and architecture. Ability to choose structure that the engines can index. Be careful of certain types of Javascript and other non-indexable navigation.

* Tip 3: Blogs. Another form of content. Pictures, text, images served in a slightly different manner. It’s a strategy. You don’t need to use all these strategies to dominate, but in a competitive arena, you need to deploy more and more to compete.

* Tip 4: Quality and keyword rich inbound links. Utilise keywords in link text – avoid using your company name. Helpful resources at Google Webmaster Central, and on the Thinkprofits website. Yahoo! Site Explorer is a great tool to measure inbound links. The bottom line is you want links from other websites to your own.

* Tip 5: The database you install is important. Make sure the engines can index the content in your database. It’s well worth the investment to get the right database in place.

* Tip 6: Electronic press releases. There is so much we can do with PR to get sites on Google often within 24 hours.

* Tip 7: Domain name strategy. We do find many people are missing out on this. When the opportunity arises to purchase a keyword rich domain, although not always possible, if the opportunity is there – set it as primary domain. Get extra points for that e.g. LuxuryYachtCharters.com will help rank. Register your domain for a long term, because it may give you more points. Another idea is to register your keyword rich domain, and forward it to your primary site. Also assist in getting more traffic by address bar navigators.

Hope you enjoy these quick search engine optimisation tips

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The SEO Way of Working

SEO Liverpool is currently between offices. Therefore I’m trying a new way of working!

Not may people know this but I love discussing with other search engine marketing consultants office situations and working patterns. I suppose I’m nosey but it can also be a very lonely business and it always helps to know your not the only one in a particular situation. Recently I’ve been working from home and decided I just couldn’t take the boredom any more.

From the posts I’ve read over the last couple of years and the conversations I’ve had, lot’s of creative types have been working a strange nomadic existence where you travel between wifi coffee shops. My favourite in Liverpool FACT (the name of the venue) where I’ve been working over the past couple of days. It’s a fantastic place, cinema / coffee shop / bar, with the added art installations that I must say are phenomenal.

SEO Liverpool seems to work really well within this environment as it has some bustle about it… I’m not one for working in total silence.

Unfortunately, I’ve come across two major problems with this system of working

1) Cost; although its much cheaper than office space what’s the etiquette for buying coffee/tea per hour so I don’t seem like some sort of hobo.

2) Toilet breaks; without wishing to be crude the copious amounts of tea, coffee and hot chocolate do take a toll. Shooting off to the loo my result in the table with the socket being taken by a fellow enthusiast.

With the latter in mind should I pack up my laptop and carry with me for the interlude? Should I strike up a conversation with the closest person and ask them to ‘keep an eye’ on the valuable tool I have? Should I only take it if I go for… a longer break.

Help!

An added dimension is I’ve already met some great creative types and even some SEO consultants, in fact (no pun intended) this place is a networking hotspot.

What is a man to do?

Your thoughts

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