It’s the new year. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Was one of them to go to the gym to get fitter and lose that Christmas podge?
Well, your website is not dissimilar. Over the years that you’ve had it, it’s hopefully been updated, edited, had new content added and irrelevant content removed. But is it still contiguous?
When was the last time you went through it,
Page by page
Link by Link to make sure everything is still working
Word by Word to ensure all your words still send the right message
Image by image to make sure your pictures are fresh, relevant and up to date.
To check that the navigation doesn’t take a visitor to the wrong page – or even worse, a 404 Error Page
To ensure that all pages load in under 3 seconds
Checking that your Shopping Cart (if you have one) still works
That your shopping cart is easy and logical to use. Ask someone unfamiliar with your site to make a trial purchase and ask for their feedback.
Ensure that the whole transaction process still functions as designed
And that your site is super easy to use on a small (mobile phone) screen
Oh, and the SEO is still top-notch, you’re using the right keywords, your Header Tags are using relevant Key Words, your Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are the right length and not duplicated, that your images have SEO relevant file names, all images have Alt-Tags and all images are of an appropriate size. That your content has keywords featured in the top one or two paragraphs but that keywords are not overly repeated. That nothing’s been missed, no stone left unturned, and your links to your Social Media profiles still work.
It’s so easy to take these things for granted, to trust that your developer has done their job but such complacency could lead to a decline in your business because you’ll never find out until it’s too late. Nobody will tell you if they encounter a problem, they’ll just go to their search engine of choice, probably Google, and look for somebody else to service their need.
Unlike a lot of website SEO evaluations, mine will be carried out by me, not by a machine, so I’ll come back with a far better evaluation and detailed list of recommendations that you can carry out, that you can pass to your developer or you can ask me to implement. And if you book your *Website Workoutby the end of January 2023 you’ll get 100% of the cost back if you choose to let me take on your SEO.
Carry out the in-depth Website Workout yourself (but you might slip up if you are overly familiar with your site so getting a third party to do it for you is always the best option
Get in touch to talk about other options. I can help with your website, your SEO, your Social Media, Email Marketing and much more and I even offer a free consultancy session, or you can just drop me an email or just give me a call on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146.
I recently participated in a virtual networking session. There were more than 40 people attending and we were broken out in to virtual rooms to give us an opportunity to meet as many different people as possible. After going around the room making our introductions a variety of interesting conversations took place before being called back in to the virtual lobby and being put in to a different room with different people
Over all, the experience was really great, fun too. I met some interesting people, learned quite a bit and found the 90 minutes to be a great investment.
However, I was surprised by the number of people who really sounded as though they were joining from a cave, even if their backdrops showed something different, offices, kitchens, lounges, home offices and blurred back-grounds.
The poor audio quality really distracted me from their introduction and contributions. This might just be me – I do have an interest in audio quality after all. From quality music playback (Hi Fi) to sound quality at gigs, both from the audience and as a band member.
And, after all, it does seem that audio is important, the BBC, ITN, Sky News et all seem to think so too – they know that poor quality audio distracts from the message.
So why do people settle for poor quality. I suspect there are a couple of main reasons, the main one being that they don’t know what they sound like. It could be that they are not concerned what they sound like or they simply don’t know how to over come it.
Most of the problems are with laptops and people using the built-in microphone. When we talk in to it, the microphone picks up the direct sound. But it also picks up all of the echoes (reverberation – aka reverb) from the hard surfaces in the room, walls, windows, doors and hard floors. These reverberations hit the microphone fractionally after the main sound and continue to hit the microphone as echoes from different hard surfaces that are farther away. They also hit the other hard surfaces and are reflected (again) back in to the mic. Which is why people sound like they are in a cave.
But why don’t they hear it themselves? Because our brains are really clever at filtering out this reverberation and only picking up on our own voice – which is why people don’t hear what their own room sounds like.
The expensive solution is to muffle all the hard surfaces with sound absorbent panels. If you are Zooming from your lounge, your kitchen or a spare bedroom you might not want to go for “Recording Studio” chic which makes the alternative far more practical can cost effective.
You need an higher quality external microphone that you can plug in to your laptop or desktop and place closer to your mouth, either on a boom stand or desk mount.
This is where it gets challenging because there are hundreds, thousands of microphones to choose from – so where should you start.
First off, if you only want it to improve the quality of your Zoom, Teams call etc then you can look at the lower end of microphones and go for a USB device that can plug straight in to your computer.
If you are thinking about making some videos, or recording a podcast you’ll want something better. If you are still looking to only record one voice then a decent USB microphone will still suffice but if you want to record two or more people then you’ll want a microphone each – for the best quality. You can still use USB microphones but you will need a device to enable to connect both of them to your computer. Alternatively you can invest in a small, desktop, mixer – this is really territory for my forthcoming “How to Podcast” eBook but I touch on the subject below.
USB Microphone Option 1 -Tie Clip / Lavalier Microphones
As used by news broadcasters the world over. A lavalier microphone discretely clips to an item of clothing and can do a great job of improving sound quality
This Movo M1 is a great example, and it’s only £22.95 on Amazon at the time of writing. It’s genuinely “Plug and Play” so all you have to do is plug it in and select it as the microphone you want to use when making Zoom/Teams etc video calls.
With a 6m cable it doesn’t matter how far you are away from your computer, either
As well as the mic you get a clip to enable you to attach it to your tie (hence the name “tie clip microphone” but you can clip it to lapels, shirts and blouses too), and 2 foam windshields to help minimise wind (and breathing) noises.
Yes, you can buy cheaper but I wouldn’t recommend it.
USB Microphone Option 2 – Dynamic Microphone
A dynamic microphone is typically what you’ll see used on stage, by singers, at concerts. They are robust and offer great quality. A step up from an inexpensive Lavalier. There are hundreds to choose from, from well established brands – such as Shure, AKG and Audio Technica – which guarantee great quality – to a myriad of no-name Chinese brands which have no track record and which I wouldn’t trust.
It’s actually a bit of a bargain because not only does it have a USB connection but it includes a socket for headphone monitoring, and a headphone volume control. If you make the next step and start having guests and you start using a mixer and multiple mics you can also plug this in to your mixing desk using the built in, professional standard, XLR connector.
Helpfully, for desktop recording it also comes with a desktop stand and three cables. USB C to USB C (so you might be able to use it on your Android phone), USB C to USB A to connect to your computer AND an XLR cable to connect to your mixing desk,
USB Microphone Option 3 – Condenser Microphone
Condenser microphones (also called capacitor microphones) are the high quality microphones of the recording world. They can offer the best recording quality of all the microphone types so if you are really serious about recording quality then a condenser microphone is the one to go for, and yes, you can pay £thousands. But you don’t have too.
My current microphone that I have connected to my main PC, which I use for Zoom/Teams calls, and which I used for recording my first 150 or so podcasts is this Marantz Pro MPM1000U. Again, it’s a USB microphone, so it’s plug and play. At the time of writing, it’s £49.99 but I have seen it reduced to around £35.00 on many occasions. Sound quality is first rate and reliably has been superb.
It comes with the all essential USB cable but to keep the cost down, it doesn’t ship with a desktop stand so you should factor in £20 or so for one, this Neewer is £16.49 at the time of writing. And you do need a stand because if you try to hand-hold the mic every time you change the way you hold the microphone the sound will be carried across to your call.
Microphone Accessories you might find useful.
In my little Podcast recording studio I have a small mixing desk, so I can use two or more microphones, boom arms for my mics – so they can be pushed up out of the way when not in use and pop filters.
Pop filters help reduce the plosive consonants, those that are made when words start with a P, B, T, D, K and G. They all produce a puff of air. You probably won’t notice them but your microphone will and they can totally overwhelm your recordings.
I use a small mixer too. It extends the range of microphones you can use (and the number too) and can also add tone controls, adding (or removing) bass, treble and sometimes middle frequencies add sound effects, such as reverb, echo etc.
Again, there’s a myriad of mixers to choose from. In fact it’s a potentially confusing and complicated market if you are new to it. I prefer well established European and US brands for their proven track records and ability to get repaired should they break down. My current mixer is a Studiomaster, but I’d be more than happy with the Behringer you can see on the right if I were starting out.
I use my mixer with a selection of microphones, a non-USB Marantz MPM1000 condenser, my new Shure dynamic microphone, my old (and trusty) Shure SM58 – as seen on stage used by the majority of artists – and a couple of other microphones, two boom arms and two pop filters.
And on the mixer front, you won’t find one that will take USB microphones and if you choose to make a different choice, remember to look for one with USB outputs to make it easier to connect to your computer.
If you need help with your audio recording, or Podcasting, you can always get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone me on 01793 238020, call (or SMS) 07966 547146 or hunt me down on my Socials, LinkedIn and Twitter, and I’ll be only too happy to help.
You’ve had a website for years, you’ve just updated your website or you’ve just launched your website and are worried that your website is invisible and your customers won’t be able to find it. What can you do, what should you do and what must you do?
Don’t panic, this simple guide will take you through the steps you must take to ensure that Google can find your website in the online jungle, how to make your site visible in Google search and even point the way to creating a website that actually works, rather than just look good. And if all else fails, or you want to shortcut the process – just get in touch and I’ll step in and help out.
How does Google find your site?
Let’s start with Google Search – used by over 90% of people who use a search engine, and that’s around 80% of web users so that’s a lot of people. Google uses software called Robots to scour websites. They send these Robots out on the World Wide Web to find as many websites as possible. They do this by following the links between websites, the Robots look at all of the pages they can find and take all of the information back to the massive Google database of websites, Google calls this database their “Index”.
If you don’t have any links (Backlinks) to your website there is a very real danger that Google will miss your site so you need to install the free Google Analytics website performance tool and sign up to the free Google Search Console. This brings your site to the attention of Google and guarantees a visit from the Robots. However, this does not guarantee that your site will feature in the search results – it needs quality, non-spammy content for that and even this does not guarantee a place ion the top pages. You need SEO for that
How does Google rate your site?
Google wants to understand the purpose of every singe page of your website. To do this, it needs to be able to visit every page. This requires good navigation links on your site AND, if you have a large site, the use of an XML Sitemap so that Google, and all the other search engines, can find all of your pages.
Then, once your pages are in the Index it’s ready to be found. When somebody searches for the services you provide or the products you sell, Google checks its Index for all the words that have been entered in the search box. It very quickly finds all of the pages in the Google Index and applies an algorithm to those results. The algorithm is a set of mathematical tools, instructions and filters that measures every page of each website by looking at more than 200 different signs and signals and the results that most closely match the search terms appear at the top of the Search Results Pages (Page 1) and the poorer the match, the farther down the results the sites appear. And remember only about 50% of search users EVER make it to Page 2 whilst just 10% make it to P3 and beyond. Making P3 a great place to bury bad news.
How do you make your website more visible
First off, make sure your website is fast (if it’s slow people won’t stay so it doesn’t matter how great, or naff, your site is you’ve already hampered your business). Then ensure that it’s full of great relevant content with positive calls to action. Your website MUST be for your site visitors and clients and “created to help users” – that’s directly from Google. This means that each page must be user centred and designed to –
share information about a topic
share personal or social information
share pictures, videos or other forms of media
express an opinion or point of view
sell products or services
allow users to post questions for other users to answer
allow users to share files or download software
provide something of similar quality
Next up is to install the free Google Analytics tracking software that will help you understand how well your website is performing with your customers. Then authenticate with the Google Search Console, another free tool from Google that will give an insight into what Google thinks of your website.
By doing this, you bring your website to the attention of Google which means they know where to send their Robots to Spider your website and take everything back in to the Google Index.
Now it’s time to build your Google My Business(GMB) profile to help Google understand your NAP, that’s your Name, Address & Phone Number. Once you’ve completed your GMB profile you should register with a number of key web based directory websites.
In the meantime you should be adding fresh, new, relevant and search engine optimised content. That’s because people love new stuff, and so does Google – it informs Google that your website is active and your business is still trading. It also demonstrates your EAT to Google, that’s your Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. If you are in the financial sector you need to be concerned with Google’s YMYL – Your Money or Your Life.
YMYL content is content that impacts on a reader’s happiness, health, safety or financial stability which, if presented incorrectly, might have a direct, negative, impact on people’s lives
Writing something new about once a month should do it – keep your eyes open for my forthcoming post that’ll be all about writing great, search optimised, content for your website and if you need any help with your content, your SEO or anything else to do with your digital marketing, you know to do.
And not forgetting your Social Media. Every time you create new content don’t forget to share it on your Socials. That helps spread the word and the right posts, of the right content, will attract visits to your website. Google Analytics will show you which platforms are delivering the best traffic. As well as your Socials, don’t forget email and video marketing as well as podcasts.
And if you don’t have the time or need professional help, I am just a call or an email away.
I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.
Then people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. If you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.
Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.
As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter
SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords
This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claim that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.
In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites
SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density
If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.
Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.
If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit hole. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.
SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks
Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “Back Rub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.
When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.
That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.
For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.
If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.
Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking
“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was than no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.
As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.
From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details
SEO Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO
If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).
Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.
Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.
And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.
What’s the solution? The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.
SEO Myth 6 – SEO is dead
At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.
Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website
SEO Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days
It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.
If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.
And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.
SEO Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO
Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.
However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.
SEO Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors
When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.
I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.
The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?
SEO Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load
It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?
The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.
Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.
A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
SEO Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1
With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.
And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.
And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good.
SEO Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO
Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.
It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website
SEO Myth 13 – SEO is a one-time thing
No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.
SEO Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content
Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.
From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.
So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.
A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs
Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have
For years and years the Americans have been very clever with phone numbers, using words to make them memorable, 1-800-468 3647* is quite tough to remember, but using the letters on a phone pad it instantly becomes 1-800 Hot Dogs, which is far more memorable. I also reckon that it made for quite a fight between businesses and telephone companies for the best numbers. The best we seemed to manage in the UK was the fight for “special” numbers – such as 0800 123123
And then came the mobile phone explosion, and the numbers you used were the ones handed out by your mobile phone company, there was no choice. Well, there was, but you had to hunt it down and “special” mobile phone numbers were expensive, because the providers knew the value.
For a long time, companies would display both landline and mobile numbers – and quite a few still do. However, for the last 5 years (maybe more) I have noticed that a lot of companies only use their mobile number. This is possibly sole traders and other businesses who work from home, or a home office. It enables them to easily keep business telephony separate from private. I’ve worked with many people who have 2 mobile phones, 1 for business and the other for personal calls.
But there are still people who won’t trust a company that only uses a mobile number simply because it used to shout “rogue trader” or similar, a company lacking any form of physical base.
I’ve also noticed that more and more sign written vans only have a mobile number on them, and in my opinion, this is a missed opportunity.
Why should a mobile only number be a missed opportunity?
Simply put, a mobile phone is harder to remember than a geographic number. Mainly because we are familiar with a range of geographic numbers (020 for London, 0117 for Bristol for example) and this makes them easier to remember – and the pattern is more familiar too. Especially if it’s the geographic descriptor for your local area (01793 in my case).
And this is the next benefit. If I see a tradespersons’ sign written van and it has a landline and mobile number, I’ll instantly know whether they are local to me, or “just visiting” and I’ll be far more likely to contact a local trade than one based elsewhere.
But landlines have their own issues. If you change phone providers, move from one exchange region to another or move from one office to another you may not be able to “take” your landline number with you. This means you’ll have to update websites, your Socials, letter heads, compliment slips, business cards etc. Which is a very good reason for just using a mobile number.
Is there a better way to use phone numbers?
Get an IP (Internet Protocol) phone number. An IP number is a virtual phone number. It’s not associated with any telephone exchange but is based in the Internet. You can have a physical desk phone (but you need one that’s IP Phone capable, not a cheap £10 phone from Amazon). You can use your PC/Laptop/tablet instead. Simply set up an IP Phone App and configure it correctly, have a headset and microphone (Bluetooth is great) and your “good to go”. You can even take IP calls on your mobile phone, yes really.
And, best of all, when you move location you don’t have to do anything at all. Your phone number comes with you, wherever you choose to go.
You could even get an IP phone number for the next town/city that you want to expand in to, giving you a virtual presence there and making it even easier for potential clients to contact you.
If you need help with your telephony then I probably know enough to be able to point you in the right direction and if you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email email@example.com or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
*(1-800 being the US equivalent of a free phone number, known in the States as a Toll Free Number)
Although people seem to use the terms WWW and Internet interchangeably, the two are actually very different beasts
There is a belief that the Internet came about through military research. The US government needed to find a way to send the “launch” message to ICBM silos in the event of the telephone network being disabled.
Although the US military contributed to the formation of the internet it was a lot more than this, and was mainly in the academic domain.
In the early 60s various projects in the US, UK and France had the aim of building, and interconnecting, computer networks, particularly the Super Computers of the day, for data sharing and data transmission.
In the early 80s the American National Science Foundation funded a number of supercomputers at several US universities, provided interconnectivity between them and also built a network that allowed by other academic institutions for research. This marked the beginning of the internet.
The first Internet Service Providers emerged in the USA & Australia in 1989 and in 1990 a small number of commercial entities in the USA were provided with private connections to this network. Connectivity increased rapidly, and the Internet as we know it, was born.
The Internet is the structure along which data travels when going from A to B and can be likened to a road network. And, like a road network, there are some routes that are faster than others and even the fast routes suffer from occasional issues and blockages which slows things down.
The World Wide Web
In 1989-90 research at CERN, in Switzerland, by British computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee (now Sir Tim) saw the development of a technology that linked hypertext documents in to an information system which was then accessible from any node (connection) on the network.
Sir Tim released his research in tot the world and allowed it to be used without any license fees and this allowed it to become the defacto document standard for the world wide web. This is why all web addresses start with HTTP, it defines the protocol to be used to transmit documents, Hypertext Transmission Protocol although we are now more familiar with HTTPS where the S adds Secure.
Basically, the Internet is the structure along which the data travels (the road system mentioned in the previous section) whilst the World Wide Web is the data that travels across that network, like traffic on a road.
If you need any help with your presence on the World Wide Web, from your website through Search Engien Optimisation (SEO), Advertising or anything else I’ll be more than happy to have a free chat to see how/where I can help your business. All you have to do is call me on 01793 238020, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just search Chief SEO Officer.
Back in the early 80s, when I was undertaking quite a bit of management training I became familiar with 7Ps. Proper Preparation & Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance*.
When I moved from IT Support Engineer and Consultant in to Internet Marketing I learned about a different 7Ps, the 7Ps of Marketing:
Sometimes, when I introduce myself as a marketing professional, some conclude that I work with “advertising”. As you’ll see as you read on, you’ll see that advertising is just one part of marketing communications, which is one of the 7 Ps of marketing.
I’ve touched really briefly on the various elements of the marketing mix – but please get in touch if I can help you work through anything in particular, email email@example.com or give me a call on 01793 238020.
This is just a snapshot of the breakdown of marketing. But it is good to sit back from your business and challenge yourself with some of these questions.
Is there a market for what you do? How do you know?
Why should people buy what you offer at all and why should they buy from you?
What makes you different from your competition?
Who is your competition – when did you last do a competitive SWOT?
What are the overall growth trends in your sector?
What is your sales pattern? What area of your sales is strongest and why and can you harness this strength elsewhere?
And what area is weakest? What are you doing about it?
How well do you treat your customers?
Which profitable customers can you win from whom? Who? How? Why? Where? When?
Have you built value into your pricing?
Are you competitive?
Is your cost enough for you to work with profit?
How do you set your price?
Will you discount?
How will you avoid being always known for discounting?
What do your competitors do?
Keep It simple
How easy/convenient is it for your customers to buy from you?
Where and how are you currently selling your products and services?
What are the opportunities to extend these?
If you are selling a service on the web, are you supporting with testimonials and case studies?
Are your people one of your main strengths of your business?
Or are you the bottle neck in your company? Are you better than everyone else and does everything have to come through you first?
What type of leader are you?
What is the path for your team to voice their concerns other than coming through you?
Are your people your best ambassadors or are they whinging about you/the business as soon as they are out of the door?
Are they as well trained as they can possibly be?
Did you involve your team when you last undertook a company SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) –really powerful.
One of the vital Ps but often overlooked and often designed for the company’s benefit rather than the customer’s. Ask yourself:
Can your team deliver a consistent level of service to all customers and at all times?
Customer retention is critical.. how failsafe is your process to ensure you don’t lose any?
How effective is your sales process?
What processes have you in place for telephone answering/billing/communication with your clients/recommendations/operations/
Physical Evidence (Brand)
Your brand is defined as
Signs by which you are known and remembered
A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
A reflection of personality
A statement of position.
Have you thought about/discussed what does your company stand for? What’s its personality and philosophy? What’s your one key brand promise to your customers?
Your brand is so much more than your logo. Think about a new visitor’s journey to your web site – does this reflect the look and feel of any communication they have had from you hitherto? Will they recognise this as being part of the same business? Have you had your website made mobile friendly? Really important.
A few hours spent on this are far from fluffy nonsense.
Just a few from the hundreds of options
Face to face
Word of Mouth referral
Telesales as part of a process
Exhibitions and events
Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
Events and seminars
Advertising but think carefully before you embark here. One off random ads are a waste of time and money! Is it the right target market? Don’t be dazzled by offers…
Website and how are you pushing your web? Does your copy talk about ‘you’, ie the reader? Are you making regular blog posts and updates? Have you considered more SEO, more PPC, back links, etc
Online videos on YouTube – how to/ about/testimonials – so many options.
Social media – which platforms should you invest time in?
So then, back to the management version: Just think how powerful your marketing strategy will be when you combine the planning from my original 7Ps with the focus provided by the 7Ps of marketing.
Combining your marketing knowledge to create a good strategy/plan using the 7Ps of Marketing coupled with the the 7Ps of Management managing implementation will surely lead to improved business performance.
But there are few quick wins when it comes to marketing, the more you work at it, the better it becomes. So, remember to take time away from working IN your business, (doing the business stuff) to work ON your business, doing the stuff that makes your business better. Set aside time on a weekly basis – little and often on a regular basis.
Remember though, I’m an Internet Marketing specialist although I’ll be more than happy to talk over other elements of your marketing activities and help where I can, Digital Marketing is where my skill set lies. If you have any questions, call me on 01793 238020, email firstname.lastname@example.org or just search Chief SEO Officer
*Oh, and of course we didn’t learn “pretty poor performance” we used a far more pithy term than “pretty”
A lot of the work that I do for my clients is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This involves working on websites to move them higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Most of the time, when talking about SEO, I talk about Google because Google is, by far and away, the most used search engine on the internet. Notice I say “used” rather than “loved” simply because a lot of people use it because it’s Number 1 but they don’t trust Google due to the amount of data it grabs and the huge power it wields.
But enough of the pre-amble, I want to tell you that there are other search engines available and there may be excellent reasons for using them. If you regularly check Google Analytics, or other web analytics applications, you may already be wondering about the traffic sources that appear.
And if you are not regularly checking a web analytics program to understand how your website is performing, the see me after class.
From my perspective, the work that I do on SEO actually works for ALL of the search engines out there so, without further ado, and in strict alphabetical order, here are the world’s top search engines
Ask.com – Founded 1996
Ask.com, started out as Ask Jeeves, a butler style service to help you find the answers to your important questions. Ask Jeeves has quite some history. It was founded in 1996 but in 2006 dropped “Jeeves”. Ask uses a unique algorithm to help you find the answers that you are looking for. It is designed to answer questions (hence the name) and favours expertise on a topic – instead of popularity
Baidu – Founded 2000
Baidu was founded in 2000 and is the dominant search engine in its country of origin, China. They have a market share of 75% in China whilst Google comes in with 3.76% – which is surprisingly high seeing as Google is banned in China. As with most Chinese entities, they are heavily policed which means certain images are censored and pro-democracy websites are blocked. Even so, if you are looking to break in to the Asian market, Baidu is were you have to be.
Like Google, they are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars. Sound familiar?
Bing – Launched 2009
Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it was launched in 2009, which was when it replaced MSN Search. Later that year they also started providing search results to Yahoo, added AOL and Ecosia to the list of sites they support and Bing accounts for around 10% of US searches.
They are competitive in the Ads market too, although their total share of the market is small, compared to Google, so the impact is a lot less
DuckDuckGo – Founded 2008
DuckDuckGo is the search engine that looks after your privacy, touting itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you”. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you, and it doesn’t collect or store any information about you either. You’ll still see Ads (powered by Microsoft) but they won’t be personalised, based on your browsing history.
Ecosia – Founded 2009
Ecosia was launched in 2009 and it’s the first environmentally friendly search engine.
Ecosia is CO2 negative. To achieve this Ecosia donates 80% of profits to tree-planting projects which means that for around every 50 searches carried out on Ecosia, a tree is planted.
Ecosia have also built a solar power generation facility so that it can run its servers on clean, eco-friendly, energy.
Ecosia buys search results in from Bing and tweaks them with their own, unique, algorithms.
Google – Founded 1996
Founded in 1996 Google is the search engine of choice for millions around the world and has over 86% of the search engine market globally. As well as powering Google itself, the company also provides search results to a range of smaller search engines, such as ASK
Google has tremendous computing power but it comes at a cost to the environment.
Huge data centres dotted around the world use huge amounts of electricity and although Google is working hard to mitigate their environmental impact a lot of CO2 is generated by every single search.
Search-Wise – First Seen 2005
If you watch a lot of TV, particularly Dr Who and EastEnders, when actors are using a search engine they’ll use Search-Wise to carry out their internet searches.
Search-Wise is actually non-existent. It has a “home” page that has been mocked up and that’s all you ever see – there’s no technology behind it. Search-Wise is a digital prop, that’s all.
Start Page – Founded 1998
StartPage may just be the perfect search engine. It was launched in 1998 and is based in the Netherlands.
What makes it the almost perfect search engine is that, like others in this list, it buys in its results from elsewhere. StartPage actually buy their results from Google but StartPage’s USP is that it doesn’t track you, doesn’t pass your IP address to Google and doesn’t use trackers to gather data about you.
This means that you get the benefits of access to all of Google’s search nous but none of the privacy threatening downsides. See what I mean when I said that StartPage might just be the perfect search engine
Yahoo – Founded 1994
Once upon a time, Yahoo was the Number One search engine and was a mighty company. How things change. Yahoo now buys results from Bing and has about 3% of the global search market. Although a small percentage, that 3% translates in to 1 billion users, 600m of whom use Yahoo on their phones and tablets.
In a cross business deal, Microsoft makes use of Yahoo’s Ad engine to provide Pay per Click advertising.
Yandex – Founded 1997
Yandex is a Russian search engine, Yandex standing for Yet Another iNDEXer and the domain Yandex.ru was launched in 1997. Yandex is where you need to be if you are targeting Russia for business.
Yandex is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belarus. It’s available in both English and Cyrillic.
In 2011 Yandex went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the search engine currently powers 42.35% of Russian searches
What can you learn from this
The reality is that no single search engine covers 100% of the World Wide Web although Google probably has the most comprehensive index. However, it’s a trade off between depth of coverage and the value you place on your privacy.
What I can say, though, is that if you are looking at targeting China or Russia you really need to focus your efforts on the search engines that cover these territories, Yandex and Baidu, for maximum visibility
If you need help with making your website more visible in the search results, increase visits to your website AND increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Elmer Wheeler got his start in sales shortly after losing his job at the newspaper that employed him. After his boss told him all they needed was more people in sales, Wheeler decided that he was going to work in sales. It was as a salesman that he coined his now-famous phrase “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.” Which is why Wheeler is known around the world as Mr Sizzle. But what does “sell the sizzle” actually mean?
When we buy steak, we buy the sizzle in the pan, the smell as it cooks and the taste as we salivate over the delicious flavour. We don’t “buy the cow”. But how does this translate in to the sales you try to make on a day to day basis. How do you SELL your sizzle, not your steak?
I reckon that at least 7 out of 10 websites that I am asked to evaluate fail on one fundamental content presentation issue. Businesses love to talk about their cow (features) but rarely mention their “sizzle” (benefits). That’s because it is so easy to talk about the things we do, to list the things we love doing, which makes it easy to overlook the benefits that our customers gain from engaging with us.
And yet, if you go through any form of sales training, you’ll learn that people (you and I, customers in other words) buy benefits not features.
As a bit of background, a long time ago I used to sell washing machines for a living. I also used to train new sales staff. When a new model arrived the sales people would give it a once over to understand where the key controls were and then take a deep dive in to the spec list to see what it could do.
Untrained sales people would focus on things like the spin speed, the weight of the load and the number of programs. Staff who had benefitted from sales training would latch on to the facts that a high spin speed meant that it would be better at drying clothes, that a large load meant that it could wash a family’s clothes in one go, saving cost and that it would have enough programs to wash every item of clothing in a wardrobe.
What they were doing was converting features in to benefits and by focussing on what people actually base their decision on, they were the ones making the sales.
It’s easy to convert your own features in to benefits. Simply take a feature, “this washer has a 1,200 RPM spin speed“, and use the phrase “which means that” to convert it in to a benefit. “This washing machine has a 1,200 RPM spin speed which means thatit gets your clothes drier than the competition can manage“.
Soon, salespeople don’t even need to mention the actual spin speed, they go straight in with the benefit – “this machine gets your clothes drier than all the others here“. They keep the feature in reserve in case they’re asked how the benefit is achieved.
Salesperson: “Mr and Mrs customer, this is the machine that will dry your clothes the best”
Customer: “Oh, how does it do that?”
Salesperson: “By having a 1,200 RPM spin speed”
This is how the conversation could go, but in my experience about 85% of the time, the follow-on is not needed – but by having product (or service) knowledge, it’s there, in the sales armoury, to be deployed, but only when required.
I provide a wide range of marketing services*, and they all have features but it’s far simpler to talk about the benefits, and the core benefit is increased profits. [More enquiries lead to more opportunities which lead to more sales which lead to increased profits]. That’s why my sales pitch is based around 2 key benefits, “win more customers, make more profit“.
The “how” is a conversation that can be had, if required, but always with benefits.
I’ll take care of your search engine optimisation. This will make your business easier to find in the search results, drive more people to your website, encourage more enquiries which will lead to more sales – provided your website has been put together with this goal in mind.
If you want to increase your profits then all you have to do is get in touch.
Call me on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.
*SEO, PPC, Website evaluation, Social Media Marketing, Blog writing, podcasting, email marketing and more
When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.
Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.
Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.
This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.
As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.
However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.
By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.
By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.
Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.
In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.
And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)
Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.
Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.
How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?
How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.
Three Quality Metrics
For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,
Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale 0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare) 21% – 50% = Average +51% – Investigate
In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.
What should the site owner be doing
It’s really simple.
You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.
Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to
Place an order
Subscribe to a newsletter
Make contact to ask a question
Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.
Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – Saving £50 in my autumn 2020 Special Offer.
I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there