Chromebook diaries – Should you buy a Chromebook?

Dell Chromebook, a viable Windows alternativeIn July 2014 I bought a new laptop. It wasn’t a Windows device, nor an Apple Macbook- it was a Chromebook. Having been a business/power user of Windows since the mid-90s it was a major leap. Although it was less of a leap than it might seem because I  still kept my main PC in the office for most of my work, my laptop being used for working away from the office, making presentations, delivering coaching and use at home.

I wrote a number of posts on the subject,

So, as the end of 2018 approaches, and my Chromebook is 4.5 years old – how has it been?

Well, 1st off, it’s the longest time I’ve ever kept a laptop.

From a software perspective, it’s totally up to date, still receiving automatic updates from Google central and, what’s more, unlike every one of my previous Windows laptops, performance has not fallen off. I can still open more than 10 tabs in my browser without any slowing down. I can access all of the Google Docs suite for word-processing, spreadsheeting and presenting, I can use Office 365 in the cloud for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, still read the news, play a few games and do whatever I need to do.

The only thing that has slipped is battery life. I reckon it’s down to about 4.5 to 5 hours now so I cant go a full day anymore. However, that’s a battery issue, endemic to all devices and a simple battery swap would soon restore the status quo

Do I need a new laptop yet?
No.

Would I like a new laptop?
Of course, I’m a techie and a geek and we thrive on new stuff but it’s not a priority.

When it comes to a change, what would I do?
Now, that’s a tough question. I still use Windows in the office and still have a need to work when out and about so nothing has changed in that respect. There are many more lightweight Windows laptops around with long battery lives but to get any decent performance the price is still too high. Way beyond any value that I would obtain so, when it’s time it’ll be another Chromebook although I would go for one with a higher resolution screen. And that’s it – that’s all that I’d ask for.

How much should you budget for SEO services?

How much does SEO cost?

Person looking confusedThe real answer is “how long is a piece of string” but you don’t want to hear that, you want to nail down your costs so that you can shop around and get the best deal for your business – note that I did not say “cheapest”

The first problem is that every SEO requirement is different, there are many variables that impact on the amount of work required and here’s a small selection;

  • How up to date is your website?
  • How SEO “friendly” is your web design?
  • How fast do you need SEO to take effect?
  • How does your site compare to the competition?
  • How many competitors do you have?
  • How well optimised are their sites?
  • What’s their likely budget?

This latter is not about understanding their absolute spend, more about an overview based on the simple fact that the larger the competitor the more likely that they will have a greater budget than you.

Good, Cheap, Fast. Yoou can have any 2 but not all 3Looking at the Quality, Fast, Cheap Venn, you’ll see that you can have

  • Cheap & Fast
  • Fast & Good
  • Cheap & Good

but you can’t have Cheap, Fast AND Good, it’s just not possible

In reality, it’s not about how “good” your SEO is, it just has to be better than the competition. I’ve worked with a couple of businesses where the competition was clueless about SEO so it was a relatively simple task to push them higher in the rankings but most businesses these days are aware of SEO so the task is tougher.

Expectations & Reality

A recent survey reported that less than half of all small businesses have an SEO budget. Of those with one the majority (71 percent) spent less than £100/month. That’s right – 71 percent of small businesses budget £0 – £99/month for SEO.

This is further supported by the inquiries I receive from prospective clients. Here’s the breakdown for a pretty typical quarter in 2017

Monthly SEO enquiries/budget

This is why your inbox is spammed with promises of “guaranteed first-page results” for £99. SEO spammers know the market. Their promise of first page results is hard to resist and, in my experience, most business owners have no idea how SEO works, they are far too busy running their businesses to spend time learning SEO and so may very well opt for the least expensive quote.

Most businesses are process driven, to get from A to B you follow certain process to get there. A lot of people assume SEO works in a similar way, they tend to treat it as a commodity and, as a consequence select their SEO on price, frequently choosing the least expensive [cheapest]

The Cost of Cheap SEO

I’ve been doing SEO since 2001 and over the years I been a member of many internet marketing groups on Linkedin and I never cease to be amazed by the number of people with a little knowledge who pose as SEO professionals and take on clients. How do I know they lack experience? It’s questions like “I have just taken on a client that wants to rank for “keyword x” – how do I do it?” that tends to give the game away.

A close second to asking “how” is the use of link schemes, specifically private blog networks (PBNs), without ever explaining the risk to clients. If you were to simply throw your money away by hiring an incompetent to carry out your SEO that would be bad enough. The problem is that the damage does not stop at the waste of money – it’s far more serious than that. The damage that someone who does not know what they are doing can go much deeper. It could attract a Google penalty and virtually wipe out a website’s visibility on the web.

As a consequence, even if you don’t choose EOMS to conduct your SEO I would encourage you to insist on using tactics that comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines, as I do.

Managing Your Resources

With Google using more than 200 ranking factors it’s easy to become intimidated and paralysed. However, there are some key areas that, if properly managed, will go along way towards great SEO results. Your site should 

  • be easily accessible to search engines.
  • follow Google Webmaster Guidelines for SEO best practices.
  • perform quickly (pages opening in 3 seconds or faster).
  • work well on all devices, mobile, tablet, and desktop.
  • feature content that is unique,interesting and of value
  • have regular fresh content added

Set Goals

As with everything in business, Goals are good. They help focus the mind and ensure that everybody knows what’s expected.

When setting goals, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Your goals need to be SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic – Stretch goals are fine, but pie in the sky benchmarks can actually work as a disincentive.
    • Timed – You need to give the campaign time to work. According to Google, “in most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”

At one time, success was measured solely by where your website would be featured on the Search Results Pages. While this remains an important metric, it’s no longer the most important metric. The most important are those that deliver real value, such as:

  • Improving organic sessions by x percent.
  • Increasing conversions by y per month.
  • Increasing revenues by z percent.

Developing a Budget

And here we get to the nub of the matter. Your goals will define the strategy required needed to succeed. This will then provide the information required to develop an action/implementation plan which defines the work required and, consequently, the budget necessary to achieve the desired goals.

Remember though, that the budget needs to take account of the time to properly plan, implement and tweak a campaign in order to evaluate its success.

That said, the right budget is one you can afford, without losing sleep, for a minimum of four (and ideally 12) months and the lower the budget, the longer the journey

How much should you spend on your SEO?

Well, £99/month just isn’t enough to do it properly. If you are hiring an SEO company expect to pay from £200-300 per month.

If you can’t afford to retain a top level SEO, there are some options. The most common being a one-time website SEO audit with actionable recommendations that you could implement yourself.

Just fixing your website will often lead to a meaningful boost in organic traffic. Content development and keyword analysis are other areas where you can get help from a pro for a one time fixed rate. Another option is to become an expert and do it yourself.

SEO Cost Calculator: Measuring Organic Search (SEO) ROI

Following is a calculator commonly used (incorrectly) for measuring return on investment for SEO.Best Widget Ever - ROI calculator

 

 

 


Of course, the above calculation has a major flaw,
it fails to take into consideration the lifetime value of a new customer.

Online businesses need repeat orders/sales in order to grow. By not calculating the lifetime value of a new customer the true ROI is grossly understated.

The right way to calculate ROI is to build lifetime value into the calculator as seen here:

Best Widget Ever - ROI over a customer lifetime

 

 

 

 

The Takeaway

Unlike Pay Per Click – (Google/Bing Ads etc) an organic search campaign won’t yield immediate results and, even when executed to perfection, it takes time for Google to recognise and reward these efforts.

That said, the traffic earned from these efforts is often the most consistent and best converting among all channels.

 

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 control“OK Google”, “Siri”, “Alexa” “Cortana” and soon “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.

More changes on the way from Google

On 24th May 2016 Google held one of their annual seminars, the Google Performance Summit and announced a number of changes to Google Ads, many of which have been driven by the streamlining of the way that Google Ads are displayed on Search Results Pages (SERPs)

1/ Longer Text AdsOld Google Ad
Previously, Google Ads comprised of a headline of 25 characters, 2 descriptive liners of 35 characters and a web address together with a “hidden” link that takes people to the most relevant page for their search.

Later this year, Google will roll out a new format, to enable Ads to make better use of the space they now have at the top and bottom of Google Search Results,

  • 2 Headlines, each of 30 charactersNew Google Ad
  • Single description line of 80 character
  • Auto Selection of most appropriate landing page (with a manual over-ride)

2/ Better Device Targeting
At the moment, you can target your Google Ads at Desktops (desktop and laptop computers) and Mobile devices (phones and tablets) by setting a bid value multiplier, so you could bit for a desktop keyword at £1.00 per click (for example) and use the multiplier to set a different bid value for mobile devices so, an Ad targeted at Mobile devices could have an 80% multiplier meaning that you’d be bidding £0.80 per click.

Later this year, you’ll be able to target each device uniquely by setting unique multipliers for phones and tablets

3/ Promoted Pins on Google MapsGoogle Ads Promoted Pins
With 1/3rd of all mobile searches being people looking for something in their area Google will be launching the ability to promote your business in Google Maps so that uses will see Promoted Pins along their route – or nearby.

4/ New Look Local Pages
Along with the ability to promote your business through Google Maps, Google are also overhauling their Local Pages so that you’ll be able to include more information, including product inventories, discounts and promotions to encourage visits

5/ New Google Ads Management ConsoleNew Google Ads interface
The current Google Ads management console is now more than 15 years old, New features have been bolted on and, as time has passed, the interface has become less intuitive and harder to understand and use. As a consequence, the Console is getting a complete overhaul and it’s likely that there will be a greater focus on Ads targeting Mobile devices.

As mentioned at the start, these changes are being rolled out this year although the changes to the Management Console are being rolled out more slowly and most of us probably won’t see the new interface before 2017.

If you are having trouble with your Google Ads, or just want it to work better for you, then please get in touch andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020