Friday, 14 November 2008

UK Heads Towards Recession

Its looking more and more likely that the UK is heading towards inflation. Growth was negative in the last 3 months and its projected that, like most of the Euro-zone (with the exception of France), the UK will be officially in recession at the end of this fiscal quarter.

To combat the effects of the credit crunch and oncoming recession, we are pleased to announce two new websites to help you get the most out of your hard earned cash - what could be better for Christmas??

UK Price Comparison
Discount Vouchers, Codes and Coupons

Both sites trawl the UK retailer sites and update daily to bring the latest prices from 100s of the UKs top retailers and online shops. Join the free email update service and receive one email per day with the latest discounts, codes, vouchers and coupons.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Think Like Your Customers

In last week's article, we looked at the absolute importance of understanding your own business before embarking on your SEO journey. If you haven't read that article then I suggest taking 5 minutes to go through it before reading this follow on as, simple as it sounds, it is vital you understand exactly what you are selling before trying to optimise your site.

Too many businesses apply the 'shot-gun- approach to marketing, trying to be all things to all people and failing by ending up appealing to no-one. The key to successful internet marketing is understanding the sheer size of the potential market and then accepting that cornering even a small percentage of that market still means a huge potential client base to market to. And this leads onto today's topic - How To Think Like Your Customer.

Why is it important to be able to think like your customers? Quite simply, 99.99% of all your internet marketing strategies will be reliant on your placings in search engines - when someone is looking for an item on the internet, the first place they tend to turn is their favourite search engine and in the UK, for over 90% of your clients, that means Google.

Lets take a second now to think through the process a potential client goes through in Google to search for the items you are marketing.

1. Client enters a word or short phrase describing what they are looking for.
2. Google takes that input and then applies its own algorithms to try and rank returns in order of relevancy.
3. Client is given a list of websites that Google believes are most relevant to their original input.
4. Client probably restricts themselves to choosing from the 10 returns on page one.

That seem a fair description? In this article, we are focusing on the first part of the process -

"1. Client enters a word or short phrase describing what they are looking for."

This is where many keen SEO enthusiasts make their first and most serious error - you need to identify the keyphrases and keywords your clients may use, not the words and phrases you think they should use. Lets look at an example:

Your company produces and sells a specific component for XYZ washing machines - this component is a '12" galvinised rubber spin-drum grommet'. Although this is the technically correct name for the item, how many clients are going to type that into Google hopeing to find your item? If you were to SEO your website to such a specific description, you may not attact much traffic. So, you need to try and see what words and phrases real clients have already used to try and find such items.

There are a number of ways to try and find keywords and keyphrases and a number of products are available to make this process easier for you. Personally I use a program called iBusiness Promoter as I manage a large number of websites and find it easier to have a program to manage most of the tasks for me. A cheaper method is to take advantage of Google's free adwords system.

Although Adwords is primarily set up to help potential Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisers, you can use the same system to build lists of words and keyphrases that have already been used by people searching Google. Set up an account if you don't already have one and then read the helpful FAQ section before making a start. What you are looking to identify is a short list of focused keywords and keyphrases that have had a number of recent searches and have little existing websites in Google's index.

Using our above example, we could identify keyphrases like:

"sealing washer for XYZ washing machine"
"spare parts for XYZ washing machine"
"XYZ washing machine leaks water"

and so on - but you can see the point I am trying to make - the keyphrases I have chosen are all phrases that your average client might input into Google to find your product. By narrowing the list down to 3 or 4 keyphrases that you know have little or no corresponding websites on Google, you can optimise your own site to include landing pages specifically optimised to these phrases.

Next time »
"How To SEO Your Landing Pages"

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

SEO For Beginners - Lesson 1 - Know Your Business

So, you've been creating websites for a while now - you know some HTML, can cut-and-paste some javascript and have heard about the magical elixir "Search Engine Optimisation". So what is it and how can you use it?

At its most basic, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to do with making your site as attractive as possible to the major search engines and asking them to list you as high as possible in their search engines. But how does it work? Lets start from the other side of the equation first of all - your users.

You need to think about your users for a while - these are the people you are hoping to attract to your site. What kinds of words and phrases would they use to find your website? This is your first foray into search engine optimisation! Before you touch a single line of code, you need to have a list of keywords and keyphrases that your average user might type into Google or Yahoo and expect to find a site like yours. In the pre-internet days, this was called market research and is one of the key lessons you learn in marketing:

"You do NOT sell to people, you get people to BUY from you"

Lets just take a look at that statement for a second because if you do not understand what it means, then you are unlikely to grasp the necessary nuances in SEO activity. Successful businesses run because they have loyal client bases - people who not only choose to buy repeatedly from the same business but who will, in all probability, market that business for free, using the best advertising model of all time - personal recommendation. These clients will associate themselves with the business in question and may also associate that business with a particularly desireable lifestyle. Consider the Marks and Spencer chain in the United Kindgom - they position themselves at the top-end of the social market for food and clothing sales - their goods are not cheap however their customers associate the whole "Marks and Spencer" experience as desireable and are fiercely loyal to the brand.

So ask yourself the question:
"What am I selling?"

You needn't be selling anything tangible - it could simply be a message! In otherwords, what is the purpose of my site. Once you know that then you can start to think about who you want to convey that message to - who is your target audience? These are the people you are wanting to communicate with. Without knowing this, you might as well give up now because very few successful businesses succeed without a very clear understanding of what their business does and who its targetted client base are.

So now we have distilled your message and know exactly who we are targetting, we can move onto stage 2 and work out how to get that message across accurately and efficiently.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Christmas on a budget

Like many families this year, we are already planning Christmas on a restricted budget for this year - and with a little planning, its amazing how much money can be saved.

For example, my son wants some new football boots for Christmas - we know the ones he has his eye on and they cost a fortune in the shops however I've recently discovered the wonderful world of price comparison websites and discount vouchers and its become very addictive!

I did a search for cheap football boots and came across this UK price sport comparison site. They had the boots I wanted for about 20% less than the shops were selling them. This got even better when I found a discount voucher code for the same online retailer that gave a further 5% off!

I'll be ear-marking a few other price comparison websites as I plan to sort all my Christmas presents out on the internet this year.