the art of blogging

A snip of a snippet

Google rich snippets are the new way forward for good presentation and higher positioning on the infamous search engine.

What are rich snippets? No one knows, they are closely guarded secret known only to a few warlocks found only on the mountains of Lotharious where full details of these snippets are found carved in four millennial old treated beechwood plaques written in the ancient language of Griddorian Moot for which there is no translation.

I know what you are thinking, how can Google use these things then if only a few Warlocks actually know what they are. There is a greater suspicion within the technical communities that Google itself employs these warlocks within its organisation and only the senior management actually know who they are.

There is a vague and unfounded rumour that one warlock serves teas and coffees both within and without the Google empire and feeds back much of the tittle tattle and gossip that eventually forms much of their search engine content.

Of course it is just possible that Snippets are, in fact, HTML highlighted text ‘snippets’ of content within a website that Google uses as a descriptor under a specific search term.

Personally, I prefer the first explanation.

But the importance of using snippets cannot be under-stated. In any Google or any other search engine for that matter, the list that comes up after entering a search term should proudly display the search link, usually the page title being referenced, then the ‘snippet’ which is the descriptive text that will appear under the link.

This link is usually drawn from the content of the site or more specifically the ‘meta-description’ built into the referenced page. If you fail to provide a ‘meta-description’ then often the search engine will pull what it feels is the most pertinent content from your page, usually the first paragraph up to a defined number of characters.

It therefore makes sense to detail and create your own descriptor or ‘snippet’ to better seduce searchers into visiting your page.

A typical search result would look something like this:

Timber Yorkshire Decking | Railway Sleepers | Yorkshire
Welcome To TimberClick Yorkshire. Timber Merchants delivering to Yorkshire, Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and the York area. Decking stockists, Railway …

With the top being the title link and the bottom the snippet. An incorrectly formed snippet can result in the search pulling the first html search reference content it finds such as alt-tag information or header text.

So getting this right can be a crucial factor in achieving better search engine positioning.

Unless, of course, you know where to find the warlock.

Backlink concept

The Constant Struggle to market online

To many people, marketing is ongoing struggle.

You manage through hard work and diligence to be able to get your site within the top five of your chosen keyword on Google after months and months of hard effort, only to move onto the next project and begin the process again with a new site, then to return to find that your hard work has been destroyed by your competitors who, while your back has been turned, reviewed your site and done additional SEO work on their site, building even more content into to knock you off the first page.

SEO is a relentless and time consuming exercise in futility where the businesses with the biggest resources and manpower have the greatest advantage. All the while you feel as though Google are sniggering at your efforts and just waiting to press a button that will see ACME Corporation jump into the space that you spent months and months of serious effort to attain.

The simple fact is SEO is a mugs game. Unless you are possessed of an endless pot of money and the staff to write copious amounts of significant and relevant trending content it is unlikely that you will be able to compete with the major multi-nationals on any level.

Site titles, page titles, meta descriptions, content and media are all for nought if you do not possess the resources to be able to then market throughout social media, advertising, affiliate building, back link building network creation and standard physical marketing processes.

The content and titles just do not seem enough or relevant when compared to major TV campaign where you can offer a free Ipad to everyone who can name the 2 Dwarves whose names start with the letter ‘D’.

Suddenly the internet is ablaze with the competition and link on link explode across the inter-world that provide your competitors with the kind of backlink PR nirvana that you can only dream of.

So how do you compete?

There is no easy answer. Ultimately you have to look to provide something that your competitor can’t. Inside knowledge, a tool for measuring the widget that clips onto the thingamabob that you sell.

But be prepared to do this in the full knowledge that within a few weeks your major competitor will have produced a better, slicker and more effective version, knocking you off your spot once more.

There is no doubt that money talks in the marketing game and SEO is a constant struggle that few SME’s can afford to compete in. The only thing we can do is try to be smarter and more innovative, in full knowledge that your ideas will be stolen by the enemy.

the art of blogging

What, How, Where and When to Blog – the simple guide

What to Blog

Finding the right topic upon which to pontificate is a daily ritual for many bloggers, whether professional blogger or toe dipping business amateurs. Finding the subject matter and then forming the necessaries is often a task more daunting than actually sitting down and writing what you need to.

With some, the decision and indeed the process is an easy one. They simply write whatever they want on the subject that interests them the most and hope that the content is sufficiently interesting that others who are similarly interested will be able to zone in and enjoy your ‘verbiage’ without falling asleep. (Yes, verbiage is a real word!)

So in the ‘what’ to write section you need to consider ‘what’ your core reader/customer/potential client would be interested in. For instance if you are a Kitchen Fitter you would be interested in style related articles, latest trends, fashions and strong epoxy’s. A subject which almost certainly would not appeal to accountants.

Twitter can give some idea of current trends as can Google, but really it is best to write about what you know.

 

How to Blog

Website, wordpress, blogger, log in, type and blog innit!

Commitment to blog is more important in some ways to the actual content. For if you cannot motivate yourself to get up each day and bang a keyboard then limited and sporadic content can be less than helpful in any coordinated attempt to raise your blogging profile.

Look at the reasons you want to blog. For most it is to promote a website, service, product or weird hobby. In which case you need to motivate yourself regularly to keep coming up with content and reasons for people to want to read your blog. Simply bashing out a few pieces every month is unlikely to win you customers, but banging out a constant stream of relevant content suddenly makes you an ‘expert’!

It is also more likely that one of your blogs will contain elements of relevance to other people, the more you have, so they are more likely then to link to your exhaustive and encyclopedic blogs for reference.

With that in mind it can be as simple as dedicating the first hour of every day to writing your thesis for the day.

You can blog in simple ways, Microsoft Word (should you prefer such a reprehensible medium) offers a simple blog link  in allowing you to connect your word documents directly into your wordpress site. Or you can simply log directly into your blogging platform be it wpress, buddy, Joomla, Modx or others.

 

Where to Blog

Another good place to blog is social media platforms such as Google+, LinkedIn, Faceache or others where you have a direct connection with an existing community. Not that it guarantees that anyone would read the blog or even give a passing glance. But it all helps.

Blogger.com is a fairly useful and dynamic blogging platform that links nicely into other Google sections. Also blogging direct onto WordPress.com makes you ‘community’ and is often just as likely to get read by other ‘community’ bloggers.

One of the best venues, however, is always going to be someone else’s blog. Guest blogging is a growing phenomenon and one that works well for everyone as it gives you direct access to someone else’s core readership, with very useful and nice link backs to your website and or blog.

A good discerning blogger will be careful who they invite to ‘Guest Blog’ on their own site as they won’t want anything too controversial or damaging to their own reputation or online name. That said there are many benefits to opening your blog site to other bloggers, not least of which is constant stimulating content that certainly can’t hurt your main blog at all and will lead you to open your category selection and widen the variety of your own online content. The result being a larger group of wandering input junkies lusting after your site.

 

When to blog

Right now. Seriously, what are still doing reading this, you should be writing!

Current thinking is that most people search at all times for all things that interest them at any time that is relevant to them. As long as your blog is well optimised and the content relevant, they will find your piece. So when you actually blog is largely irrelevant……..except when you are blogging on trending issues.

For instance there is little point in blogging about England’s poor performance in the last game if there have 6 games since the one you are talking about. The dates on blogs will help visitors to understand the context but make sure you blog within an appropriate timeframe for current affairs.

 

So there you have it – a simple overview on how to blog. (you got this far!?!?!)

 

 

Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks

How Social Media platforms impact on small retail businesses

Social media platforms have completely changed the way businesses can get in touch with their customers through social marketing. There is no other media channel which allows your business to access over 1 billion people instantly and initiate direct contact with them. Whatever the size of your business, you should consider social marketing via Facebook and other various social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Facebook has provided a diverse platform where you can reach customers who are geographically and demographically placed for you to access in order to make online sales, discuss how they view the product and what improvements they would like to see, address their concerns and complaints quickly and promptly, and allow them to spread the word about your brand and company amongst their family and friends.

With the increased popularity of people shopping online through mobile devices, this new buying habit has created revenue opportunities for various small retail businesses. Facebook has provided an online market platform for both large and small businesses. Large companies are spending significant budgets on this social commerce and marketing trend, but this doesn’t mean that small businesses cannot benefit from this phenomenon. They too can leverage the new social marketing trend to generate increased revenues. Here are top 5 ways to benefit from Facebook as a small retail business:

1. Be more personal
Large companies might not be able to provide individual attention to every customer on their social media page. They might appoint other individuals to stay in touch with customers, but transparency and quality control in the way they handle customers can be uncertain and inconsistent. On the other hand, small retail businesses due to their size can pay attention to individual customers and be more personal with them by taking time out to address each and every concern they have. Effective dialogue and genuine engagement is what creates long-term and loyal customers and gives rise to a robust social marketing campaign. You can encourage and motivate customers to share their experiences and take the opportunity to resolve their issues in “real-time”, bringing you much closer to them as compared to a large corporation.

2. Keep customer service first
For many people a company Facebook page is a platform where they can voice their ideas and feelings about the company and its brand. Therefore, you wouldn’t like them to share any negative experiences since this page is being followed and “liked” by millions of people. In order to avoid such situations, it is best to stay on top of your customers. A proactive behaviour will help you resolve all queries within 12 hours and provide customers with a rapid solution to their issues, resulting in an effective social marketing approach. Large corporations have many other things to consider and might not be able to concentrate on what issues the customer is voicing. As a small retail business your company can provide a personal and individual service towards your customers which will make them feel valued and looked after.

3. Optimise your Facebook page
In order to run your company’s Facebook page it isn’t necessary for you to have significant IT knowledge. A simple review of your page and effective feedback from your customers will help you optimise your page. Also by concentrating on what you expect to generate from your Facebook page will keep you on a straight path. Differentiate between whether you are interested in boosting online sales or attracting “likes”.

If you are looking to boost online sales, then your Facebook page will act as an advertising platform for your business. This involves creating external website ads, which when clicked on, will direct the customer to your web page. On the other hand if you are interested in created a viable and robust online presence you might be looking to attract substantial “likes” from your Facebook page. This encourages interaction between customers and your company. It gives you greater opportunity to talk to them about your product, arrange polls/surveys and other activities that will keep them engaged.

Whatever your reasons might be to promote your company online through social marketing, creating a Facebook page is essential for any size and type of business. There are various ways this and other social media platforms can benefit your company, whether you have a geographically dispersed customer base or a local customer base; either way it can help you generate revenue and boost sales. A great example about how Twitter can help small retail business is www.timberclick.com who use it for the promotion of special offers and timber stock clearance.

Don’t get bitten!

New algorithms used by google mean don’t put link backs in your footer areas.

The new algorithm is actively penalising misused keyword links on websites, specifically where that keyword link is used for the purposes of promotion and keyword marketing.

Rules are now just provide a site link with a brief explanation or better attach a no follow instruction to google bots!

How is it possible to get noticed?

Having spent £300 and a week of time promoting a website for the term conservatory film, including everything from on site advertising, forum posts to Google adwords. The simple fact remains that the best promotion is word of mouth and announcements.

Twitter is a useful gimmick used for social commentary but in terms of marketing it is a poor substitute for well formed content, complimentary links and targeted wording.

The fact is that those who have the time to spend and get the most out of Twitter rarely are the type of individuals who would be potential customers. The nature of its construction also means that the backlinks created on Twitter are either hidden behind a membership requirement or are shortened for practical purposes which provides no search engine benefit for the link.

So, the Conservatory Film supplier UVShield is better to use Twitter purely for the purpose of creating followers and a network of potential customers by word of mouth.

So do you know anyone who can make our conservatory cooler? I know of a company called UVShield who supply conservatory film that reduces the heat by 40%! They mentioned on Twitter just last week!

As with your website, it is not what you say but how you say it and to as many people as possible.

ESSENTIAL CONTENT BASICS

Content is the driving force on your website. Getting your content right is crucial to having an effective website both in terms of marketing but also to provide your visitors with value for taking to the time to access your site.

There are many other articles on this site about keywords, search engines and marketing, but the fundamental truth is that you wanted a website for a reason.

Why did you want the website in  the first place? To sell? to advertise? to make money? to advise? to inform?

The fact of the matter is that in order for any site to be effective it has to give.

Content is what you would use in order to provide that which your site is giving. It is the words, the framework the imagery and the sole purpose of your websites existence.

It is also the reason for the search engines to bother to review your site. The more interesting and open your content is then the more successful it will become. Ultimately what you are trying to do is get visitors to your site – not search engines.

Search engines have had years of tricks and techniques by search engine marketing people who figure out how the search engines automatically place sites and then over emphasise an aspect of that methodology to achieve high rankings within those search engines.

At the end of the day – if you are looking for a dog grooming parlour or a local vet, you do not want to find the first two pages of your search results taken up by Pet Insurance companies. Up to a few years ago the biggest transgressors for this type of ‘in your face’ marketing was very much down to clever marketing techniques designed to put sites in your line of view that were not wholly relevant to your search.

The search engines responded by making content the key even then. Leading to many SEO companies using their key marketing words like pet, dog, grooming as hidden words on pages (same font, same colour as background) so that the search think that the level of relevancy of the keyword used was very much related to those search terms.

This lead to the search engines ignoring content that was the same colour as backgrounds, forcing the SEO companies to redeploy the keywords and repeating them in the live content. Which then led to the search engines penalising repeated uses of words… and so on.

Consequently search engines like Google and Yahoo have to constantly change their techniques to ensure that their results are relevant and accurate.

So now it is finally getting to the point that if you want to have a highly placed website with any of the searchyou have to have good relevant content that clearly establishes what you are, what you do and how you achieve it.

  • Make your site clear
  • Give your visitors more than they need and all they could ask for
  • Provide something that others would like
  • Make your site a valuable resource
  • Maintain it regularly

There is no need to resort to tricks to ensure good search engine positioning. Honesty and clarity are all everyone has ever wanted.

Your content reflects what you do and retrospectively confirms to the search engines what you do. So make your content relevant, tell visitors less about who you are and more about what you do.

Like the Kevin Costner film said – ‘build it and they will come’

This page has been optimised to reflect the word content. It’s is not a big search term but it will hopefully demonstrate how a word can be built into a website to reflect the ‘what I do’ element.

The other aspect to having good content is also that were you to provide knowledge, information or images that no others could or would because you are a specialist then more people are likely to reference your site as a source of information, increasing your importance within the online community and thereby increasing your Google page rank.

So giving a little actually gets you quite a lot.

Simple Steps to online Marketing

This checklist will allow you to tick off the elements of your website that you need to adapt and change to maximise your marketing opportunities. The SEO checklist helps you to evaluate your website bearing in mind the basic tenets of search engine optimisation.

1. Primary Keyword/s– although you have a vast number of keywords throughout your site, the search engines place relevance on the most prominent keywords used on each page. So before you even start your site, you need to have a focus and explain what the site is about. That becomes your primary keyword

2. Usage – Once you have your keyword or words you need to use them effectively. Most search engines use the ‘cloud’ system, which identifies the strongest keywords on a page and takes that as an indication of how relevant your site is to certain search criteria. Obviously it has to make sense and the last thing you want is to ‘spam’ or create gibberish on your page. After all, whats the point of getting people to your site and then confusing them.

3. Links – Internal links can be just as important as external links. More importantly, keyword links have greater value in everything and helps the search engines by directing them to relevant content.

4. Friends– Whether they are partners, friends or affiliates, the more you can get good quality sites to link back to your site will help your site to achieve good position in the search engines, especially Google.

5. Clarity – After all the effort on the optimisation front, don’t lose the clarity of the website by using techniques over service. Remember you are doing all this to drive people to the site. In return they are going to want easy navigation, simple services and a website that answers their questions.

That is only the start but by having these basics your site has a greater opportunity of achieving your ultimate goals.

Above all else the site has to have a clearly defined purpose. Get your site right and the SEO will follow.