Posts tagged: online marketing

Jun 28 2010

Are SEO services worth your money?

* I am not sure that there are definitive answers. Would you be thinking of a specific area of SEO?

Much of what I consider to be SEO involves the underlying code of a website. As a freelance website designer, I have made a point of following best practice not only for SEO but also for accessibility. I’ve become wary of people who ask me ‘just to take a quick look’ at their websites because I can pick up on all sorts of things that need amending, yet I’m often left with the question, What are these people trying to sell, and why? And why should I buy from them?

When looking for a product myself, I rarely click on advertising and if I do, I don’t necessarily buy from the company that advertised. Invariably I buy either from a company listed on the first page of organic results or a company with which I’m already signed up. I read reviews of products. If I’ve had good service, I return to buy again. I don’t necessarily search the web once more for a new supplier.

I am influenced by the copy on a website and in asking your question, perhaps you may be thinking more particularly of the work involved in keyword analysis and incorporating this into the written copy.

Has ‘impartial’ research been done on how successful this is at attracting potential customers? Are there industry indicators on RoI? eConsultancy is one such company. You’ll need to pay for the market reports.

You’re more likely to show up higher on Google if you rejuvenate your website with new items and copy. Websites can’t remain static and expect to retain high positions in search results.

Whether SEO is worth the money could be a variant on ‘How long is a piece of string?’ To do a thorough job on a variety of SEO tasks requires somebody’s time. That somebody should be someone who knows what they’re doing and understands the way the net is moving. The SEO professional should also understand the need to liaise with the website designer. Is the business owner willing to pay the price for that knowledge, the liaison and the time required?

You can do SEO yourself, which is why eBusiness Club puts on seminars for business people. But how much time and effort are you prepared to devote to the task? Would you be better off outsourcing the work? Do you use analytics programs to measure response rates to structural and content changes in your website? How well do you understand the analytics? The seminars are probably better suited to familiarising business people with what they should expect from a SEO practitioner.

As a business owner, are you quite clear about your Call to Action and your USP? Are you prepared to continually oversee your web presence?

The goalposts are moving constantly on the web. Analysis shows that Facebook now accounts for more website traffic than Google and that social networks and forums have overtaken search engine traffic in UK this year. The implication is that many b2c companies need to have a Facebook presence in order to make contact with clients. And companies need to be alert to what is being said about them on on social networks. Customers may not be finding you via Google because they ask other people on Facebook about the best product, the best holiday, the best airline, the best car hire company, instead.

Watch out for SEO companies offering social media management.

* Sarah Whitticase posed this question on the LinkedIn Group, Business Scene – East Midlands – How visible are you?. This post is the text of my reply.

Dec 30 2008

Now offering SEO and Online Marketing

I’ve just refurbished my website and its companion blog, SoozNooz.

October through to December, I’ve been very lucky to be able to attend several business seminars sponsored by East Midlands Business Link, paid for by the East Midlands Development Agency.

The seminars have come at an auspicious time for me, covering issues of online marketing, search engine optimisation, selling online, pay-per-click advertising and social networking.

I’ve already implemented many of the practices suggested, which means I’m on the right path. All the same, I learnt something new in every session, making the investment in time very worthwhile.

I’ve discovered over the last year or so, that when I tell people that I design websites, they ask me to take a look at theirs.  “I’ve just paid out all this money on a new website, and I’m not getting any business from it!” they complain.

It takes no time at all on clicking through to their sites, to discover that the designers have not optimised them.  Simple things like Flash animations without entry text, no page titles, lack of copy text on the home page and generally, no targeted proposition or call to action.

I think there is going to be more and more emphasis in the future on making your website work for you, rather than just on building websites to have a directory presence on the web.  Online marketing is all about connecting with your customers.  Use your experience in dealing with customers face-to-face combined with web 2.0 technology to sell online.

For example, I’m hoping to have my bathroom overhauled in January.  It makes sense to me to look at bathroom websites to see what ideas bathroom companies can offer and evidence of their work.  Very few of the tradesmen who came to see me had an understanding of this need, often dismissing their websites as ‘something the wife does.’

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a structured process which aims to lift your website to the top of Google search engine results for your particular product or service.  There’s no mystery about how it’s done.  There’s plenty of websites out there falling over themselves to offer advice.  In fact, Google offers some of the best resources.  See my page on SEO for some starter links.

In the end though, do you have the time?  This is work that you can out-source. Or you may like some guidance on how to set up your own SEO strategy and maintain it yourself.  These are services which I am now offering.  Call me on +44(0)1509 650759 to talk through the options.

Dec 29 2008

Gothla.co.uk up and running

I have joined a cooperative of enterprising ladies, including my daughter, who are organising a gothic bellydance event in Leicester in June 2007.  We've found that we've been able to do most of our PR and marketing via the web so far, using niche groups at Tribe.net and LiveJournal.

The website was created with one page initially to which the MySpace diverted enquiries.  Our aim was to collect email addresses of people who were interested in attending the event.  I use List Messenger Pro to manage the database and to send out email newsletters.

List Messenger also allows people to confirm their subscription and to opt out.  I haven't used the facility to design forms to collect preferences yet. 

Paying for the software meant that I did get a personal reply from the creator, and I can use the ticket system to get priority support but otherwise, I have to use the forum just like everybody else.  A free version of the software can support 100-200 subscribers.

The Gothla website is designed for a specific event, and thus is likely to have a limited lifetime – unless the weekend proves so successful that the organisers decide to do it again.

Thus we have focused on just the information likely to be required by attendees.  We've used PayPal for bookings, but also allow people to download a booking form to send with a cheque if they prefer.  We've used a Google map to highlight the whereabouts of the different venues, bus and rail stations and hotels.

Each member of the cooperative has her own email address.  One of the benefits of doing the website is that it seems to have focused the organiser's attention on their specific roles – a great aid to management of the project.

I commend Compila, the webhost, which was in turn recommended to me, for the facilities it provides for just £20 a year, with second year free.  250Mb web space, unlimited POP3 email addresses, 2 MySQL databases and unmetered bandwidth.

We have also used MySpace and YouTube to garner interest.  And I have learnt how to convert a video in DVD format to something that you can see and hear on the web.  Every web project pushes the boundaries that much further.

First published 15th February 2007.

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