Why SEO is important for almost every business

Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, the process of editing your website to ensure that it meets the requirements of the search engines AND delivers on your customers’ needs and expectations.

SEO should be a key part of your marketing strategy.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation is the the process that is undertaken in order to make your website search engine friendly. This makes it easy for all search engines to fully understand your business, your services and/or your products so that your website can feature in the search results when somebody is searching for the things you do, the services you provide or the goods you sell.

But it’s not quite as simple as simply being listed. I work at Search Engine Optimisation and if you do a search for that, Google comes back with nearly 23 million results. And with no more than 10 free results on a page that’s a potential of 2.3 million pages of results.

Obviously, nobody is going to go through 2.3 million pages – there’s a limit to how far people will go. In fact only about 1 in 2 (50%) of us will ever make it from Page 1 to Page 2 and only around 10% (1 in 10) will go to Page 3 and beyond

Graph showing Search Engine Optimisation success

And that’s why, when people talk about SEO they talk about trying to get your business on to the first page of the results, because that’s where all the eyes are.

But it’s not quite that simple, either. Although a Page 1 result is great, the higher UP the results you are the better it gets. In fact, over 50% of the clicks on Page happen take place on the TOP 2 results and over 75% take place across the TOP 3 results with just 3% of clicks happening for the result at the bottom of the page

Graph showing SEO results, clicks Vs position on page

And this is why, when people try to pitch SEO to you, they focus on getting your site on the First Page, and as high up the First Page as possible.

But there are NO GUARANTEES. The position you reach (which will change over time simply down to the way the search engines work) is both a function of your Search Engine Optimisers knowledge, diligence and ability AND how well your competitor’s sites have been optimised. You are not in a battle for perfect optimisation (hint, it probably doesn’t exist) but simply to be better than your competitors.

Even more importantly, you should NEVER lose sight of the simple fact that the search engines are simply a means to an end. They are one of the key ways that customers (both potential and existing) find your business business website BUT it’s what the visitors do whilst they are on your site that is the most important thing. If everybody that arrived from the search engines simply leaves straightaway then you have gained nothing, no matter how good your Search Engine Optimisation is.

Which is why your focus really should be on producing a website that meets the needs of your visitors.

  • Is it fast to load (under 3 seconds)
    • Test your website here
  • Does it work on a small screen
  • Is it easy to navigate
  • Is it easy to read
  • Does it talk about benefits rather than features
  • Does it feature clear Calls To Action
    • Does it tell the visitors what YOU want them to do?
      • Buy Now
      • Subscribe
      • Contact Us
      • Book Now
      • etc.

Hit those buttons and you are well on your way to having a website that visitors will like and will actually do what you want them to do. And, finally, if you are converting more than about 1-2% (1 or 2 in every 100) visitors then your website is doing really well.

And that’s why you need Analytics – if you don’t know how well your website is performing then you haven’t even crossed the start line. But that’s a conversation for another day.

And finally, the pitch.

If you need help 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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there

Top SEO Tips for 2022

As I write this Christmas is just around the corner. That means that it time for some top tips for your SEO for 2022. Now is an ideal time to take a step back from your website and look at all the things that are to do working ON your business rather than the day to day effort of working IN your business.

Your website should be top of the list, giving it an SEO makeover, an SEO refresh or just an SEO tweak could pay dividends by making your site easier to find. After all, if it’s easier to find, then more people will come to visit, take a look around and get in touch or buy something (if you are running an ecommerce site.

Here are the top things that YOU can do to improve the Search Engine Optimisation of YOUR website.

Google Analytics Graph

1/ Monitor and Measure Performance

Following the trusted mantra of “If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you’ve got there” you MUST be monitoring the performance of your website. If you aren’t, then how DO you know whether the investment of time (and possibly money) is actually paying off.

You could be doing something that’s working but what’s worse is you might be doing something that is harming your website. Google Analytics is free to use and easy to get going.

Set it up on your website, understand what the data is telling you and check in regularly to monitor performance.

I know that Analytics isn’t the only performance monitoring tool out there, and if you are using something else – well done. At least you are using something.

2/ Performance Monitoring Pt 2

Once you have Analytic up and running, head over to the Google Search Console. This is another free tool provided by Google. Analytics looks at how visitors found your website and tells you what they did whilst on their visit and the Search Console tells you about HOW they found your site in Google Search (the actual words and phrases typed in to Google Search) and provides recommendations to improve your website.

Again, sign up, visit and learn about the data provided. Turn it in to useful information that you can feedback in to your website design and SEO.

3/ Website Structure

Get the structure of your website in to tip top shape – even if it means a bit of work.

Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Are you using language that’s easy to understand? Does each product or service that you provide have its own, unique, page and are similar products/services grouped together in their respective “families”.

All of this makes your site easier to use AND helps Google understand what it is that you provide.

4/ Keyword Research

Do your keyword research. Understand the words and phrases that your customers are using when they are looking for your website. The Google Search Console is a treasure trove of information but tools such as UberSuggest will also help.

Each page on your website MUST be uniquely optimised for the product/service that’s featured on the page and you should filter out the 3-4 top keywords for each page. Allocate no more than 3-4 key words per page. These are the words/phrases that you will be optimising the pages for.

5/ Where do the Keywords Go

Now that you know which key words/phrases are going on each page (you might find a Spreadsheet is a great way to mage the lists) then you need to ensure that these keywords are “woven” in to the page in the places the search engines check out. If the terminology confuses you, then check out my SEO Glossary of Terms

~ Meta Title & Meta Description tags
~Header Tags (H1, H2 etc)
~ Web Page URLS https://mywebsite.co.uk/service-type
~ Image and File Names
~ Alternative Attributes
~ File Download Names
~ Main page content, ideally in the first 50 – 100 words
~ Selected text in bold

Use the Google Search Console to identify third-party websites which Link to yours (backlinks). Conduct a backlink audit by checking every single one and make sure that you are happy with the quality of the originating site AND the relevance.

If you are a decorator, then a link from the local butchers has no relevance and it may be worth breaking the link. Check for unsavoury content and poor quality sites too – sites where there’s more adverts than proper content for example. Google will penalise you for this.

One of the key ways that Google judges the value of your website (and the higher the value the higher in the results your site will appear) is by the number of links that point towards your website from third party websites so you need to build links to your website. Not just any old link though. They MUST come from trusted, high quality sites that are relevant to your business.

So, no links from click baity sites, no links from pages that are 70% Ads and 30% content, no links from sites with poor quality (or scraped/copied) content and no links from sites that have absolutely no relevance to your business.

It’s NOT easy but hard work will pay off.

8/ Fresh Content.

Ensure that you regularly add NEW content to your website. It’s not a case of subtly rewriting content but it has to be fresh and new.

Why? There are loads of reasons.

a/ It keeps Google happy.
b/ It gives a reason for people to come back to your website.
c/ It gives people a reason to LINK to your site
d/ It provides you with content that you can use elsewhere – such as email newsletters, Social Media, podcasts, videos etc.

Imagine that you didn’t add anything new to your site – how would Google know you are still in business and why, therefore, should Google give you a good ranking on the Search Results Pages (SERPs)?

Your blog/news page is a great way to do this. You can even write specific content with SEO in mind but don’t over optimise. if you do you’ll be creating content that people won’t read – defeating the purpose of your website.

9/ Speed Speed Speed

Google site speed test showing 100%

Website speed, so important I mentioned it three times.

Your website MUST be fast. If pages take more than 3 seconds to open your visitors will leach away. We have NO patience when it comes to the internet, pages must open fast, both on desktop/laptops AND on phones. And if people don’t like slow pages, and leave almost straight away why should Google promote sites that it knows people leave almost straight away? And Google doesn’t.

Slow sites make their down the search results pages, exactly the opposite of what you need.

10/ Monitor Results

Monitor your results. Use Google Analytics, the Google Search Console AND carry out manual searches to see where your site come up. Keep a record (a spreadsheet’s one good way to do this) and keep working on your SEO.

11/ Have patience

SEO doesn’t have an impact straight away. It can takes weeks, frequently months to have an impact so don’t panic. SEO is a Marathon not a Sprint. And, if you’ve not seen a change in a couple of weeks DON’T assume that your SEO hasn’t worked. Keep at it.

Keep measuring, look at visitor sources in Google Analytics to see whether the visitors come from. Is the percentage of traffic from Google and the other search engines on the increase?

And remember, SEO is NEVER finished. You can always tweak, review and continue to make improvements.

12/ Mobile Phones

Most websites have been getting more than 50% of their traffic from mobile phones and tablets for years now. I would hope that your website is Mobile Friendly – and if it’s not, then it needs to be.

Google looks at the mobile version of your site FIRST.

Don’t take it on on trust that your site is mobile friendly, make sure that it is fast to load and easy to read.

Go to it on your phone, how does it look? Is it easy to read? Does it convey the right messages and is it easy to navigate? Can you even find the navigation?

And finally

If you need help with your SEO then all you have to do is get in touch. I’ve been working on SEO since 2001, so that’s more than 20 years, and have a good feel for what needs to be done. Not only that, but I talk in English and don’t use jargon. This means that I’ll be easy to understand when we have conversations and I won’t baffle you with bullshit. I’ll tell it as it is and if I don’t think I can help, I’ll tell you why.

It’s easy to get in touch. Google me, your Chief SEO Officer, reach me on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 5471456 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk. Alternatively, if you fancy a FREE, no obligation consultation then book a slot with me here.

What does your Phone Number tell people about your business

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.

Telephone keypad showing letters and numbers

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.

A sign written van with just a mobile phone number

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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk 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)

Farewell Google Bounce Rate. We loved you

Google Analytics Screenshot

When I’m asked to evaluate a website I always ask for access to Google Analytics, GA, (other analytics packages are available) so that I can get a feel for how the site is performing. After all, if it’s performing well then there’s probably little to gain from tweaking the website but if it’s not performing then the website needs to be fixed BEFORE any more marketing takes place. If not, the fresh marketing effort is simply wasted. If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got.

And I like to take a very quick “snapshot” to see whether I need to take a deeper dive in to website performance. To do this I look at 3 key metrics, over a period of 6 months. This gives me a very quick “feel” for how well (or not) a site is performing, and those three metrics are

Bounce Rate

This is possibly the most useful single metric that tells me a great deal about how well your website is working, at a glance. And yet it’s so simple. All it records is the number of site visitors who leave the site from the page they landed on, almost immediately, and without doing anything. And “anything” is clicking to visit another page, clicking to watch a video or simply spending more than about 10 seconds on the page.

Average Pages Per Visit

This is simply the average number of pages the typical visitor takes a look at. To get the most out of this it’s vital to understand what the goal of a given website is, and the path through the website to get there. A 2 page site can only ever have a maximum of 2 pages per visit but a multipage site a visit should comprise of several pages per visit although there is no right or wrong figure. It depends on the size and goal of the website but the more pages per visit the more that visitors are engaging with the site.

Average Visit Duration

This is the length of time that the typical visitor spends on the site. Like Average Page Views, it will depend on the size (and goal) of the website, but typically the longer the average visit length the more engaged visitors are likely to be.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Bounce Rates

I’ve been using Google Analytics for many years, probably since it was introduced by Google. But what is a good, bad and really ugly Bounce Rate? In my experience, it looks a lot like this –

  • 0%-20% – exceptional. Visitors are well engaged
  • 21%-45% – average. A lot of the sites I look at are within this range
  • 46% – 60% – feeling a little nervous and think about understanding why it’s this high
  • +61% – investigation required. Remember, this means that pretty much 2/3rds of visitors are leaving without doing anything at all. This will be the outcome of new marketing too, if remediations aren’t put in place.

Bounce rate is driven by many things but some of the key ones are

  • Page is too slow to load, 3 seconds or faster MUST be your goal
  • Page just looks unattractive
  • Page fails to meet expectations set by marketing messages
  • Page navigation is either broken or simply not obvious

As you can infer, the Bounce Rate gives an almost instant view of a website’s health – but Google is killing it off.

Google Analytics moves from GA3 to GA4

Some of you will already be on Google Analytics 4 (GA4), especially if you have only just set up Analytics on a new website so you may not know what you’ve lost. Some of you will have been moved across by Google, some will have been contacted by Google “offering” the choice to migrate to GA 4 and a lot of you may not have heard anything, yet.

There are many changes in both data and presentation, but for me the greatest loss of the switch from GA3 to GA4 is the switch from Bounce Rate to Engagement Rate.

Rather than simply measuring what a site visitor does as soon as they land on a page, Google have broadened their measurement and are now measuring Engagement, and to qualify as an “Engagement” a user must do at least one of the following.

  • Be actively engaged with the website (or App) by having it in the foreground for at least 10 seconds
  • Trigger an “Event” – perhaps clicking to watch a video, clicking to subscribe to a newsletter or by carrying out anything else that you might have tagged as a “Conversion Event”
  • Carry out at least 2 Page Views

As a consequence, Engagement is not simply the inverse of a Bounce Rate. This is simply because the criteria to count as “Engaged” is broader than that for a Bounce

Only time will tell whether this is a “good thing” or a “bad thing”. My brain tells me it’s a better (and more sensible) measure of visitor activity but my heart is bidding a sad farewell to the Bounce Rate.

If you need help understanding what Google Analytics is telling you about your website, whether that’s GA3 or GA4 then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer


*Although GA is free to use for most SMEs, very busy websites will have to pay but the real cost is data. When you add Google Analytics to your website, Google gets access to an absolute firehose of data about the way people interact with your website – and every other website that GA is installed on. This data is used to inform SEO, not impact but inform. For example, if somebody finds a website in Google Search and clicks to visit it but returns to Google Search almost instantly, Google might take interest. If loads of people click through to the site and leave straight away Google will take a lot of interest. These visitors might have found, for example, that the site was slow to load. If lots of sites that have a high Bounce Rate were also slow to load then Google could infer that web users didn’t like slow websites. If that turns out to be true (after more research) then Google could decide not to promote slow websites on Page 1 of the Google search results and if you launch a new website that’s slow, then when you do your SEO you’ll already be trying to push water up a hill.

What’s the Difference between the WWW and the Internet?

Although people seem to use the terms WWW and Internet interchangeably, the two are actually very different beasts

The Internet

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.

A visual representation of the Internet by The Opte Project
A visual representation of the Internet by The Opte Project

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 1974 research was published that evolved in to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet protocol (IP), the basic technologies that are used to send computer data from one location to another.

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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just search Chief SEO Officer.

The 7Ps that make a great marketing strategy

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:

  • Product/Service
  • Price
  • Place
  • People
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence
  • Promotion


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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk 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.

Product/Service: 

  • 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?

Price

  • 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

Place

  • 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?

People

  • 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.

Process

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. 

Promotion (Communication)

Just a few from the hundreds of options

  • Off line
    • Face to face
    • Word of Mouth referral
    • Networking
    • Telesales as part of a process
    • PR
    • Exhibitions and events
    • Direct marketing and sales letters with appropriate follow up driving to the web
    • Postcards
    • 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…

On line

  • 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?
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest advertising.
  • Email news and updates

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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk 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”

There’s Google and then there’s the others

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

EastEnders viewers left confused over Dot Cotton's hilarious X-rated  technical gaffe | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV | Express.co.uk

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

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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

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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

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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

Pie Chart of Search Engine Market Share, Globally and UK

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.

Call me on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk. We can even schedule an introductory, FREE, 40 min call over Zoom, or Teams or any other platform.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak

Elmer Wheeler, selling his sizzle

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.

Automatic, front loading, washing machine

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 that it 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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk. 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

Is having a Responsive website enough?

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.

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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.

The first iPhone

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,

Bounce Rate Mobile Vs Desktop Vs Tablet
Bounce Rate Mobile Vs Desktop Vs Tablet

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

  • Buy Something
  • Place an order
  • Subscribe to a newsletter
  • Make contact to ask a question
  • etc

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 andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and we’ll take it from there

Podcasting, what is it? Should you do it? How do you do it?

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Podcasting is simply the audio equivalent of blogging. It’s where you create an audio recording and share it across the internet

Why should you podcast

There are many reasons to podcast. Let’s start with learning types. We all have differing ways in which we acquire knowledge and information but the three primary ways are through the written word, through pictures and video and through listening. All three are equally valid and have their own, unique, benefits and co-exist comfortably alongside each other.

There’s been a huge increase in the range of podcasts over recent years, both the number of pods that you can find and the wide range of platforms that you can listen to them on. You can find Podcasts on Spotify, Apple platforms, Google and elsewhere – they are a simple way to reach a wider, different audience to those who may not receive your email newsletters, watch your videos or tune in to your social media.

How to podcast

You don’t need a sophisticated recording studio. Just a quiet room, a recording device and a decent microphone.

The easiest way to record a podcast is to simply use your phone with some audio recording software – there’ll be loads to choose from in your App Store.

It’s worth remembering that your phone’s microphone is optimised for phone calls and so may not give you the best quality. To overcome this it’s a good idea to invest in a better quality microphone – even more so if you are planning on including other people in your podcast. Tie clip, also known as lavalier microphones are a good place to start. Just make sure to buy one that has the right connection for your phone.

The one on the right costs around £20.00 from Amazon, for example.

Although a phone is great for recording when you are out and about it’s not the easiest platform on which to edit your audio and my preferred route is to do the majority of recording on my PC and I use free software that’s called Audacity

If you have a laptop, you have a device with a microphone. If you use a webcam on a PC you have a microphone. However, these may not be the best microphones available simply because your recording quality will be heavily influenced by the room that you record in, and in a lot of cases your recording will sound as though it was recorded in a cave. Have a listen to the following clips to hear the difference a decent microphone makes to recording quality.

Short audio clip using a laptop microphone
Short audio clip using an inexpensive Lavalier (Tie Clip) microphone
Short audio clip using a quality microphone

Once you have recorded, and edited, your Podcast you need to find a way to make it available on the internet.

There are many sites that you could consider. I use Podomatic – it has a free account that’s a good place to start. It also provides an RSS feed.

Click on the link if you want to understand more about RSS feeds but the reason why one is important is that it makes it relatively easy to get your podcast published on all the major podcasting platforms that include

Apple/ iTunes
Google Play Music
Spotify
Amazon & Audible
Pocketcasts

And best of all, there’s no cost. It’s all FREE so all you have to do is market your podcast through your website, Social Media and every other platform that you use to reach your clients.

If you need help recording your Podcast – just get in touch. I can provide advice, help, support and even have a small Podcast studio. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and we’ll take it from there