Where do you get your pictures from?

You need pictures for your website, your blog or your email marketing. Pictures helps make it look nice, showcases your products and services, breaks up your text, helps with your SEO and each picture is worth a thousand words, according to the old Chinese proverb.

And Social Media demands pictures. I’m not just talking about Instagram and Pinterest but Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc because using pictures helps you post stand out from the crowd. Does anyone even read a “boring” text update these days?

But where do you get your pictures from?

Do you just go to Google, do a search, filter it by images and look for those that appeal? Do you look at other websites and think “that’s a nice picture, I’ll have some of that”.

Google Images selection of fast carsBelieve it or not, some people still believe that you can use any picture that you find on the internet. It’s OK because it’s there, on the internet, so it’s there for anyone and everyone – isn’t it? Do a Google image search, browse the web, find a picture you like, right-click and choose “Save As” and the picture’s yours to use in any (and every) way you see fit.

That’s the attitude that was very common in the early days of the internet. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.

sketch on a napkinEvery picture on the internet has been taken by a photographer or created by someone, frequently with a particular purpose in mind. As soon as the image has been created the copyright is automatically assigned to the creator. They don’t have to do anything, they don’t have to register it anywhere, mark it in some way or declare that it’s copyrighted. The mere process of creation automatically creates the copyright at the same time. Even a sketch on a napkin.

So where can you get pictures from

Google Image Selection Tool

Well, you can still use your Google Image Search, you just have to be a little selective.
Instead of just choosing the first picture you come across, you can filter the images by “usage rights”. Click on the “Tools” button and a fresh line of navigation appears. Click on the “Usage Rights” and choose “Labeled for reuse”.

It is still advisable to check the rights that the publisher has attached to the image but at least you’re looking at images that should be OK for re-use.

But why use a picture created by someone else or a photograph taken by someone else? Far better to create something of your own. That way, you can be sure that it won’t appear on any other website. Use the camera in your phone, use your digital camera if you have one. Just make sure that your pictures are in focus, well lit and focus on the subject.

Alternatively, if your budget can stand it bring in a professional photographer or use a graphic designer. You’ll be sure to get unique, high quality content and the cost may just be a lot less than you expect. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Of course, there are large libraries of stock images where you search for a picture that suits your needs. When you find one you’ll have to purchase a license to use it. Probably the most well known image library is Getty Images, a vast repository of high quality stock photography – but it’s not cheap. Shutterstock is another – and there are several more.

However, if you are working to a really tight budget, there are a number of stock photo sites that have a wide range of images that are actually free to use – here’s a small selection of ones that I turn to when the need arises

What happens if you get caught

All of the big stock photography libraries have software tools that are always crawling the internet. They are sophisticated enough to be able to tell whether you have cropped an image, flipped it left to right or carried out other forms of editing designed to hid the origin of the image – even if you have renamed it.

If you are caught using an unlicensed image you will be sent a letter from the sites solicitors demanding payment. There is no way around paying, they will hound you remorseless, like the Terminator. The demand will be based on how long they think you have been using the image so it could go in to the thousands of pounds. I have know people who have managed to negotiate the fee down, but they have never managed to negotiate it down to zero.

Even if you “borrow” the image from a website you’ll never know. They may have bought a license to use the image but you haven’t – so you’ll have to pay up.

What’s the solution?

Ensure that you know where every single one of your images has come from and that you have the appropriate rights to use the picture and if you need any help – just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

What is “bad” SEO

SEO writing on a windowThe Art/Science/Discipline (delete as you see fit) of Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, has many branches. However, the first decision is whether you are going to use best practice or try to “game” the system, aka cheat, to get the search results you need.

The SEO practitioners who cheat are known as “black hatters” or “unethical” whilst the good guys are “white hats” or ethical.

Which you choose is up to you, however the impact on your business, if you make the wrong choice, could be disastrous.

How long does SEO take to have an impact on your website?
SEO takes time, months not days, not weeks but months. However, sometimes there are ways to “game” the system that can deliver results far more quickly. The downside is that doing this will be going against Google’s Best practice guidelines & will attract penalties from them.

Yes, your website might rocket up the search engine results but, once your site has been identified as using unethical techniques,Google will apply a penalty.

Google Penalties
Remember, Google does not have to list you anywhere, it’s of no real benefit to Google to have you in their listings and if you go against their guidelines you will be penalised.

Google is constantly checking results to make sure that the right sites are listed in the right place, to make sure that sites are not gaining unfair advantage and making sure that sites are not cheating the system.

In my experience, when caught cheating Google has three levels of penalty it can apply, depending on the seriousness of the “crime”.

  1. If it’s a relatively minor digression then Google may simply stop monitoring your site. Any updates that you apply to your site will be ignored. This means your site will just slowly drift down the pages until your site effectively disappears.
  2. A more serious misdemeanour will see your site actively demoted, perhaps by 5 pages (for example). With only 10% of Google searchers EVER going beyond Page 2 of the results, if you are on Page 5 you may as well be on Page 100.
  3. Total deletion from the Google database. Remember, Google is under no obligation to you.

Google Search ConsoleThankfully, most issues tend to be (1) and (2) and Google will let you know before a penalty is applied and give you time to put a remedy in place. They do this through the Search Console. You do use the Search Console, don’t you?

If you click on the “Security & Manual Actions” link in the Search Console’s left-hand navigation menu, Google will have posted any penalties that it is looking to apply. You have about a month to resolve any which means that you need to be checking every fortnight, giving you a good 2 weeks to resolve any issues.

How to overcome a penalty
If Google advises you that you have done something that goes against their guidelines and that they are about to apply a penalty you need to put a solution in place.

The first step is to identify what has caused the problem. Contact your SEO company and ask them what they have done and instruct them to undo it, PDQ! If you have done it yourself then you need to undo the dubious SEO tricks that you have applied to your site.

If Google don’t tell you, how will you know that you have been the subject of a penalty
Over the 20 or so years that I have been doing SEO I have fielded a number of calls from business people (not clients of mine) which all went in the same direction.

“Hi Andy, I don’t know if you can help but yesterday my business was on Page 1 of Google search. Now I can’t find it, and I’ve gone to Page 20. What’s happened?”

What’s happened is that they have been hit, and hit hard, by Google and have likely been deleted from their database.

Another way to tell is through Google Analytics, if your web traffic falls off a cliff, for example – as shown in the Analytics screen grab, below.

Google Analytics graph hit by a Google Penalty

 

If you receive notification from Google that they are going to apply a manual penalty then you have time to reverse the activity that was the cause of this warning.

If, however, you are like the people that have called me, and your site has simply disappeared it might be better to bite the bullet, buy a new domain name, build a new site and start again.

In many previous cases, I have worked with businesses to identify what went wrong, put corrections and rectifications in place and then tried to convince Google to relist them. When, after 6 months, there had been no change, my recommendation was to start again.

However, the last time I did this was a couple of years ago so things could have changed

Types of Black Hat Activity
Cheating has changed over the years. Back in the (very) early days of SEO, all that was required was to add keywords multiple times in the Keywords Meta Tag and repeat them multiple times on the page itself. So you’d have a page of content and them across the bottom of the page you’d see the keyword repeated many, many times.

Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword. Keyword, Keyword

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it & the web developers realised that this looked bad so they changed the font colour to match the background so the visitor couldn’t see the text but the search engines could.

The search engines soon spotted this and didn’t like it so Black Hat SEO people simply made the font size 0. The text disappeared from the page, but was still visible in the HTML that could be read by the search engines.

The search engines spotted this too and didn’t like it so the SEO folks went for keyword “stuffing”. Cramming the keyword in to as many keyword places that they keyword possibly keyword could

The visitors didn’t like this and went elsewhere.

Next came Link Building and Link Farming. Buying back-links from websites that simply published lists of websites on thousands of pages, for a fee. These pages effectively looked like a phone directory where the only content was links to websites.

But Google didn’t like this and link farm users were likely to find themselves deleted

The next technique was cloaking. Your web-server can differentiate between you and I visiting a website and a search engine. Black hat SEO folks learned this and created content that was precisely what the search engines were looking for and only showed this content to the search engines. It was a bit like putting a honey pot at the end of the garden to attract the wasps when you’re having a picnic in the garden on a sunny day

But Google didn’t like this & users of cloaking were likely to find their sites deleted

How can you tell the difference between White and Black Hat SE Optimisers
If someone approaches you, offering to do your SEO and they guarantee to get you on Page 1 then I’d be inclined to avoid them. Nobody can guarantee this unless they are either

  1. Running a Google Ads campaign – but they should tell you this
  2. Running a Black Hat campaign.

If you ask an SEO agency how they will optimise your site, they should tell you what they will be doing. They should also tell you that they can’t guarantee results, just that they will use their skills and experience to move your site higher in the search results.

Avoid being hit by a penalty and do your SEO the right way. Give me a call to discuss ethical, White Hat SEO for your website on 01793 238020 or drop an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

How to Use Twitter Lists

Twiter logo heading up a post about Twitter lists

Twitter’s great isn’t it? Really good for keeping in touch with your Followers, for keeping up with the latest news, raising awareness of your business, demonstrating that you know your stuff and acting as the starting point for conversations that could lead to business.

But……….if you’re following more than 100 people it can become quite a challenge to find Tweets from people that are of particular interest due to the speed your Twitter news-feed fills up with new Tweets.

But there is a solution that makes things so much easier – and it’s called Twitter Lists

What is a Twitter List

Simply put, Twitter Lists are like filters. You add people you follow (and you can add people you don’t follow too – more on that in a bit) and when you only want to see their Tweets, you simply choose the relevant list and all the Twitter noise from everyone else is immediately filtered out, just leaving you with updates from people on your lists.

Types of Lists

There are two types of list, public and private. A Public List is one that all Twitter uses can see and a Private List can only be accessed by yourself.The types of lists that you could have include

  • Current Clients,
  • Previous Clients,
  • Suppliers,
  • Prospects,
  • Affiliates,
  • Partners,
  • Influencers,
  • Local Community,
  • Friends,
  • Family,
  • Topics of Interest,
  • TV Shows

If these were my lists then I’d set the business related to “Private” so that my competitors can’t easily see who my clients are etc.

Now, when I want to interact with my clients to see what they’ve said, and to add my own thoughts/comments all I have to do is click on the relevant list and the rest of the Twittersphere goes away.

Making your First Twitter List

Create a new Twitter list

There are two ways to make a list. The first is to navigate to the drop-down menu you get by clicking on your image or avatar at the top right of your screen and selecting the “Lists” option. If this is your first list you’ll be presented with a “Create a List” option.

Give the list a name and write a brief description (if you want to add a description). Then you choose whether to make the list Public or Private and click “Save List”

Now Twitter will show you a box which will enable you to add people to your list. Conduct a search and when you come across someone you want to add you simply click on the three dots and choose the “Add to list” option and you’ll be shown all of your lists and you can choose which list or lists that you would like this person added too.

Adding People to your list from your news-feeds

When you are reading tweets and come across someone that you’d like to add to one of your lists, all you need to do is click on their Twitter name to go to their profile and click on the three dots menu by the “Follow/Following” button and use the “Add or remove from lists” option

How do I see what people on my lists are sharing?

All you have to do is head back to the drop-down menu that you get from clicking on your image/avatar and select “Lists”. You’ll be presented with all of your lists and you just click the list you want to see.

See, it’s easy and a really useful way to manage your Twitter followers

Shadow Lists

When you follow someone they receive a notification that you have followed them and so they might follow you back and you might not want them to know that you are keeping an eye on them. So don’t follow them, just add them to a list, and make it a Private list

Look at other Twitter users LIsts

Andy Poulton's Twitter feed

If you look at someone’s profile you’ll be able to see how many they have simply by clicking on “Lists” – you can see that I have 33 lists and if you click on any one of them you’ll see an option to “Subscribe” in the top left – click this and you’ll be Following the list and you’ll also be able to see all the members of the list.

What’s Next

Go away, set up some lists for yourself, add some people and have a bit of a play to get the hang of the way they work. You can thank me for saving you lots of time later.

Joking aside, if you do need any help with Twitter, Social or SEO just give me a call on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or share your question with me on Twitter or LinkedIn and I’ll be delighted to assist.

You’re thinking of PPC Advertising – but where should you place your money?

In my experience, when thinking about advertising on the the web, most people think of Google and Facebook Ads and that’s about it but there’s a wide range of Pay per Click (PPC) opportunities available and the key to success is deciding which are the platforms most likely to deliver the best results.

In this post I’ll be looking the top 8 platforms that you should think about,

  • Bing Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Ads
  • Linkedin Ads
  • Pinterest Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Yahoo Ads

Bing Ads

Run by Microsoft, Bing is the search engine that seems to be forgotten but is in daily use by millions of people. My experience is that clicks are cheaper than those from Google and frequently of better quality. It gets better because if you have a Google Ads campaign, Bing Ads have a tool that will import all of your campaigns at the click of a button.

Bing also powers the Yahoo Ad network so you’ll have the added benefit of your Ads appearing across Yahoo too.

Look hard and you’ll also be able to take advantage of £100.00 credit to get you going (there are terms, of course but essentially, it’s free advertising)

Facebook Ads

Facebook, largest Social Media platform on the internet. 2.2Bn users worldwide and about 32m in the UK so why wouldn’t you want to advertise here. Well, if you have something to sell to consumers then you should give it some thought. You can have image ads, text ads, video ads, sponsored updates and much much more. 

Not only that but you can target specific audiences and markets through the demographic data that Facebook hold, making it a far more targeted campaign than other platforms.

However, if you are in the Business to Business market, Facebook may not be the ideal platform for your ads.

Google Ads

Not the longest running Ad platform but certainly the most well established, the most popular and the one with the greatest reach, with more than 3.5Bn searches taking place on Google every day!

Google ads can be placed on Google, YouTube, the Content Network as well as Google Search Partners.

You can have simple text ads, image ads as well as responsive ads targeted at mobile phone users.

Google Ads is also a great way to waste money if you don’t think carefully about where your Ads are displayed, to whom they are targeted and the way your search words are formatted and used. Campaign management (either in-house or outsourced) is essential to get the most from your Ads investment.

Linkedin Ads

Linkedin is home to over 520m professionals and so if your business is focussed on selling things to, or providing services to, a business market place than Linkedin is the natural home for your ads.

You can focus your ads on almost any of the demographic metrics that Linkedin collects, whether geographically, job title, seniority, job role and much more.

Traditional ads are shown on the right hand side on your Linkedin home page and across the top whilst promoted posts appear in the newsfeed and hate works best are hints, tips and white papers.

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is quite new to the paid advertising market but is rapidly catching up, as demonstrated by it’s initial valuation before going public on the 18th April 2019 at $19/share valuing the company at $12.7Bn.

With more than 200m active, monthly, users who are researching trends, looking for ideas and inspiration it’s an ideal place to sell “things” – especially if your target market matches the key Pinterest demographic with 70% of Pinterest users being women and 40% earning more than $100,000 or more

Twitter Ads

Twitter is used by 330m people every month and is recognised as a key source of breaking news. 

Unlike a lot of the platforms mentioned here, Twitter ads stay on Twitter and so can be particularly effective and remain fully under your control. Your ads can be simple text but photos work better and videos are event more effective.

Yahoo

Yahoo was one of the original sellers of search ads and was the model that Google based Adwords on. Yahoo still stumbles on as part of the Oath network (Yahoo, AOL, Huff Post and Tumblr). 

Yahoo has a partnership agreement with Bing which means that your Bing Ads will also be displayed on the Yahoo network (and vice versa) and your ads can be simple text, images, video and any other supported media across the network

Conclusion

There are numerous Ad networks fighting for your advertising spend. My advice is to start small, test AND measure. If, after a couple of months, it seems that one of the platforms isn’t working for you then stop and switch to a different one until you find the right platform for your business.

And, if you need any help, I’ve been doing this since 2003 so give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, initial chat to see whether I can improve your existing campaigns or help you launch something new.

What to do when launching your new website

It’s a scenario I come across almost every month, a website gets relaunched after a major rebuild, perhaps the migration from an old site to something that’s (finally) mobile friendly or that’s the result of a corporate rebranding or a migration to e-Commerce or, or……well, you get the picture.

Then the problems start. Google Analytics starts reporting high Bounce Rates, the site falls down in the search engine results and visitor numbers start falling.

So, what’s happened?

Unless your relaunch is carefully planned, there’s a lot that can go wrong but one huge problem is Google. Your old site might have built a lot of respect with Google that hopefully translated in to great results when people were looking for you. However, if you just launch a fresh new site it’s highly likely that all of that respect is lost.

Not only that, but your old pages will keep popping up in search results, people might have added your old site to their favourites and when they visit – they are met with a 404 (page not found) error

What you need to do

Image result for 301 redirect

And yet, it’s so easy to prevent this. Before you press “go” to launch your new site you need to create a list of all of the pages on your existing site.

Next thing to do is to remove all of your previous site from the internet (or just make it inaccessible). You can do this by deleting your web files or simply by copying them to a new folder. Keeping a copy is essential, just in case anything goes wrong with your new site you can always revert back to your old one provided you have a copy of it but you need to take it off line to avoid any confusion.

Next thing you do is to map your old pages to new. So, for example, mywebsite.co.uk/about on the old site should be mapped to mywebsite.co.uk/about-EOMS on the new site. I use a spreadsheet with two columns to make this process easy to manage.

Then you ask your web developer to put “301 Redirects” in place that map the old pages to the new. What now happens is any visit to one of your old pages will automatically transfer the visitor to the relevant new page.

Not only that, but a 301 redirect also carries forward a fair percentage of that Google respect I mentioned earlier,

If you need some help with the relaunch of your new website, need a new website, need help with your SEO or anything else to do with your online marketing then don’t hesitate to drop me an email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call 01793 238020

What information do I have to publish on my website?

Andy, checking out websites as part of his workAs you might imagine, I spend quite a lot of time looking at websites. I look at client sites to see what can be improved, I look at potential client sites to put bids and proposals together and I look for sites that I can prospect to. I also look at other sites to keep my knowledge up to date – and that’s just during the working day.

I see good sites, OK sites, indifferent sites and some real shockers but it does not matter how good (or how poor) the site, whether pennies, pounds or thousands was spent on the development loads miss out on the provision of basic information. A lot of which is a legal requirement when a business is using a website to promote themselves.

As an example, a lot of businesses provide a web form as a means of communication despite the fact that a lot of people don’t like forms – especially ones that ask for too much information. Part of the dislike is due to the fact that sending a form leaves no record of what was sent, nor when it was sent, unless it automatically forwards a copy to the senders email address but there’s no way to know this – until you’ve sent the form (unless the form actually informs you of this)

Gavel - representing a legal requirementThere was a piece of legislation passed in 2002 called the eCommerce Regulations that applied to ALL companies using the internet, not just those selling online and perhaps that’s why a lot of businesses don’t comply. Either that or it’s simply a lack of knowledge either within the organisation or by the web developer. Either way, ignorance of the law is no excuse – as the law says.

So, what does the law require you to publish in an “easily, permanently and directly available location” on your website?

Minimum information to be provided on your website

  • The name of your business, which might be different from the trading name and any difference MUST be explained. For example, ABC.co, is the trading name of ABC Enterprises Ltd.
  • The geographic address of the business must be provided
  • Your email address. A “Contact us” form without providing an email address is not sufficient
  • Your Company Registration Number, if yours is a Registered business, together with the place of registration
  • Your VAT Registration Number, if you are VAT registered
  • If you are subject to an overseeing body, such as the FCA, then you need to provide the governing agency AND your registration number.
  • Prices – if you are quoting prices (or selling) online your pricing should be clear, unambiguous and state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs, or not.

If you need help with compliance, or with anything else relating to your website or marketing activities then give me a call for an initial, free and zero obligation chat on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

To Carousel or not to Carousel, that is the question.

Carousels, (aka Image Sliders) the name given to those annoying sliding images that seem to feature on most websites these days. As you might have gathered, I’m not a fan but is my dislike subjective (taste) or objective (they don’t add anything).

It’s objective and here’s why

1/ the human eye doesn’t respond well to movement – or maybe it responds too well.
We may not live in the jungle anymore, but we did once. Our brains are wired to react to sudden movement, and this movement is called a saccade. It’s our retina’s uncontrollable response to movement, and the speed of movement during each saccade can’t be controlled. The eyes move as fast as they are able.

This might have been great when hunting prey in prehistoric times whilst trying to make sure the odd sabre toothed tiger can’t creep up on us, but today, it’s your slider fighting for your attention.

2/ They take control away from the visitor
Visitors like to be in control when they arrive on your website. They don’t want to see something they have no use for, and frankly, the whole point of your website should be to give your visitor what they came for.

When you put an auto-rotating image slider on your homepage you take control out of your user’s hands and give it to the slider. You know what follows? Disaster. Image sliders keep rotating, attention keeps being grabbed and web visitors loose patience. This is not only frustrating, but is terrible for usability according to UX Movement.

3/ They take up Space and hardly get clicked?
How many times have you watched a slider waiting for something useful to appear? If it’s more than once then you’re in the minority.

You already know image sliders are so fast and distracting, visitors tend to ignore them. Erik Runyon ran a study at Notre Dame University  to test and measure the number of clicks made on the sliders in comparison to homepage visits and you know what?

The study revealed a mere 1% of visitors clicked on a feature on the slider. That’s like the unicorn of bad conversions.

4/ They reduce visibility
The Neilson Norman group (founded by Jakob Nielsen, “the Guru of website usability” New York Times) group ran a usability study, where a user was attempting to search special deals on Siemens washing machines. The user arrived on the Siemens homepage that looked like this with a deal on a washing machine at the top of the page.

  • The user didn’t spot the deal
  • She ignored the offer placed in a small box in the left-hand corner.
  • Then she ignored the big banner splattered on the page, even though it had an image of a washing machine on it.

Because the image slider looked so much like an ad, she left the website without buying the machine, costing Siemens an easy sale.

Jakob Nielson also pointed out that international users and users with low literacy get easily distracted and frustrated by the image sliders, as they are unable to read through one offer before another slides into place.

The bottom line is image sliders are ineffective. And to reinforce this idea, here’s a slider by WebAIM. [If you only follow one link, you should follow this one]

Why you should not use an image carousel

And if you need help with your SEO and/or anything else to do with your website and digital footprint then please get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or send an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, zero obligation chat.

Why you should be sending letters

Bank Robber Willie SuttonWillie Sutton is a well known American bank robber (bio on Wiki). Although always taking a pistol or Thompson sub-machine gun he never killed anyone, in fact he never even fired his weapon. When captured, his gun was always found to be empty and when asked about this he simply replied “I never carry a loaded gun because somebody may get hurt”. In fact if a woman screamed or a baby cried he stopped the robbery and left.

Why are we talking about Willie?
Simple, he made a statement that has ramifications on your marketing even today, when asked why he robbed banks Willie replied “Because that’s where the money is

So, how does that reflect on marketing? Simple – when you are marketing your business, you should always look where the money (your customers) is.

Where is the money?
According to marketing expert Drayton Bird, Millennials may not be the ideal target, they are buried in debt, apparently 40% of 18-34 year olds live with their parents and struggle to find well paying jobs.

Baby boomers, on the other hand are less stressed about money having enjoyed decades of cheap housing, safe jobs (some guaranteed for life), solid pensions and huge stock market gains. So, perhaps that’s who your marketing should be focussing on.

A recent survey has also turned up some very interesting statistics about Baby Boomers. Apparently they respond better to offline advertising

  • Less than 10% prefer hearing from a new company through email
  • 73% prefer getting new product/service offers by mail
  • Only 31% say they discard unopened commercial mail

So, what’s the message?
Don’t ignore “snail mail” – take a look at what arrives in your letterbox. Mine’s almost empty for most of the week so a well targeted piece of direct mail is likely to be opened, and that’s half the battle. After that, it’s down to the quality of your letter, the words, the pictures AND ensuring that there’s a positive call to action (CTA) and whilst on the topic of CTAs, every page of your website should have one and every email you send.

What’s next?
If you need help with any aspect of your marketing, get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020, drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or link up on LinkedIn or Twitter.


That’s my CTA, btw.

How much is a Page 1 result in Google actually worth?

Elements of Search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need their site to be found higher up in the Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached) consultants offering to this but have balked at the fees.

Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty easy to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet many still believe that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

If you’re confused by the SEO jargon, have a look at my SEO Glossary of Terms for clarification.

Is this possible and what’s the real value of good SEO?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the UK about 85% of the population use the internet. With a population of 65.64m (Worldometers) and this equates to around 56m individuals who are online. Of these, 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for, that’s about 45m people and at least 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice, 42.75m people.

Now, let me ask the question “how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?”

TV Advertising

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing.

According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £201,000.

Clock - how much does a 30 second TV ad costThen there is the cost of your slot. This will vary based on a number of factors

  • your target channel
  • whether you want a regional or national ad
  • the time of day, the product to be advertised
  • the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted
  • etc

So, putting your ad on screen at peak viewing, 9pm, is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower

As a very rough guide, an evening slot on ITV will cost around between £60,000 and £75,000 and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

However if you want your ad to go during something like the X-Factor then a 30 second slot cost will set you back a cool £200,000.

Radio and Print Advertising

So, you may look at radio or the print media, both of which have lower costs (production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a one-off and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

What’s next and a Shameless Plug

Are you happy with the place your site has reached in Google? If not, get in touch today – call me on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

My SEO rates start at £150.00 + VAT per month, peanuts compared to TV, radio and most forms of print advertising.

OK Google, get ready for Voice Search

Amazon Echo with Alexa voice controlOK Google”, “Sir”, “Alexa”, “Cortana” and “Bixby” are all commands that wake your device up and prime them to expect a voice command.

The reality is that your Android Phone, Google Home, Windows 10/X-Box, Apple iDevice, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Echo are always listening, it”s just the command that alerts them that an instruction is incoming.

And because phone keyboards are harder to use than those of their desktop/laptop cousins more and more people turning to voice control and voice search purely for ease and convenience.

As a consequence, it”s vitally important that you understand what you need to do to make sure that your site is easy to find – even when the search is through voice recognition.

Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence

Google Home with "OK Google"Google, in particular, is using artificial intelligence to better understand our spoken instructions and to encourage more conversational searches, such as “Where can I get my Jeep serviced” rather than a more traditional desktop search “Jeep servicing Bristol”.

According to Google, 20% of searches on Android devices are now voice searches and the number of searches continues to increase as users realise that voice recognition accuracy is improving all the time. According to KPCB Internet trends 2016 Report, the accuracy of voice recognition now exceeds 92%

Searching for local businesses

A lot of people use voice to search for local businesses, “where’s the best Pizza restaurant in Bristol” for example so, if you sell pizza in Bristol you need to ensure that your pages are optimised for “Best pizza restaurant in Bristol” and written in “natural language” (written in a similar way to the way you’d speak) which really helps with voice search results.

Optimising for Voice Search

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandWith traditional SEO, you’d have researched the words that people were typing when looking for your products or services and built your site optimisation around those. Now you have to get your head around the types of question that they might ask, just as if they were asking their friends, family or colleagues, as demonstrated in the above example about Pizza restaurants.

One way to start addressing this issue is to consider a dedicated Q&A page where you can pose these questions and add your answers – remembering to keep them more conversational than you’d perhaps feature elsewhere.

The pages that you have optimised for voice in this way need to feature in your Site-Map so that Google and Bing can easily find, and index, them. You do have a sitemap (sitemap.xml) don’t you?

You should even look to include microdata, schema, rich snippets and so on because these little pieces of code give the search engines even more information about your business.

Hi, I'm Cortana, ask me a questionYou’ll also need to ensure that your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business is up-to date and accurate because that’s where Google and Cortana will look for the location-specific search results. You should also check out the other business directories that have your business listed, Yell, Thomson, Yelp etc and make sure that your address details are correct. This simply ensures that there’s no ambiguity about the right address for your business.

Responsive Website Design

Don’t forget that because most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly (Responsive) then Google won’t direct people to you. You can use this free Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website and if you need further help with your site, SEO for voice search, making your site mobile friendly or anything else related to your website then you should give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And Finally

A bit of fun. If you use Google voice search and make an animal related enquiry, try adding “fun facts” to the end of your search to learn something about the animal you have been searching on.