LinkedIn Statistics Show Growing Importance as B2B Tool

Found these interesting stats on blogs.forbes.com about LinkedIn use, broken down by career level.
  • Top level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking (22%) and promoting their businesses (20%).
  • Middle management professionals primarily use LinkedIn to keep in touch with other people (24%) and industry networking (20%).
  • Entry level employees primarily use LinkedIn for job searches (24%) and co-worker networking (23%).

Overall, the top activities on LinkedIn are industry networking (61%), keeping in touch (61%), and co-worker networking (55%). As a social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn seems to be delivering on its brand promise.

LinkedIn Usage Frequency Rates

In terms of how frequently LinkedIn users log in and actively use the site, 2 out of 3 members use the site at least a few times per week or more. Specifically, 35% of users access LinkedIn daily and 32% access the site a few times per week. Another 16% log into LinkedIn a few times per month while 8% log in whenever they get an email from LinkedIn.

Compare that to the 2% of users who log in monthly or the 6% of users who access LinkedIn less than once per month, and it’s clear that LinkedIn users are satisfied enough with the user experience that they actively return and want more. Just 1% of respondents to the Lab42 survey indicated that they never access LinkedIn. That’s a rate that a site like Twitter would love to have!




What is Bounce Rate and should I worry about it?

We’ve all been told that having a high Bounce Rate % is bad, but what does it really mean?
Did you know having a high bounce rate doesn’t mean that everyone thinks your pages are rubbish?
So how do I get my bounce rate down?

Right, lets get the sums out the way……….

Bounce Rate is defined by a very simple equation and is the number of people that leave a page without viewing other pages on the same site.

Bounce Rate = The total number of visitors viewing 1 page only ÷ Total Entries to a page

The conditions for a visitor bouncing are:

  • Clicking on a link to a page on a different web site
  • Closing an open window or tab
  • Typing a new URL into the Browser Bar
  • Clicking the Browser’s “Back” button to leave the site
  • Session timeout (nominally 30 minutes)

 Is a High Bounce Rate Bad?

The answer is often No, but you’ve wasted an opportunity.
Bounce Rate - Google Analytics

This ‘Sierra_Rear Differential’ page is No.2 most popular page visited on a site – yet only half of the visitors are being converted or encouraged to look at more pages. I’d like to point out that this particular site is purely a database of information for enthusiasts, but if it was an on-line shop, think of the lost sales. This shop has a great front window and brilliant displays, but the checkout staff are standing around bored.

The page ‘/Sierra_Rear_Differential’ has a high bounce rate – 65.21%
Yet, the average time on page is nearly 8:29 seconds – so the page is obviously interesting.

This could be telling us, the page content is actually too good. The visitor has learnt everything they need to know; all on one page; then left.
It also tells us that this hit has not been ‘converted’. By ‘Converted’ I mean they have not visited the contact page or made a purchase etc…

When is a High Bounce Rate Bad?

If a page has a high bounce rate and the ‘Average time on page’ is only a few seconds (less than 10) then you should consider removing this page from your site; as it is only doing damage. If this page is getting lots of hits – it needs urgent attention!

How to Reduce Bounce Rate

How should I go about get this bounce rate down and increasing my conversion rate?

The page needs to be look at for:

  1. Word Count
  2. Link Bait
  3. Product links
  4. Images
  5. target=”_blank” Links

1. Word Count

If the page has 1,000 words, then consider splitting the page up into different sections. A page really needs 300 to 500 words. Don’t just randomly count the first 300 words and put a ‘Next page’ link, be a little more clever.
Take a look at your analytics to see what words people have been using to arrive at that page.
From within your Google analytics account, click through to the page in question (e.g. /Sierra_Rear_Differential) then click the entrance keywords link (bottom right)
Bounce Rate - Entrance Keywords
This should give you a list of key words and phrases people have used to find a page:
Bounce Rate - Keywords
So maybe this page could be broken down into pages for people looking for ‘Diff Rebuild’ and another for people looking ‘Rear Axle Codes’.
Doing this may not convert all the bounces, it may just split your visitors across more pages. Make sure the links between these pages and very obvious and ‘in context’. Having a link within a hidden drop down menu, is a total waste of time. Accompany that link with an enticing picture.

2. Link Bait

The link to the next page should be very tempting. Use some form of ‘link bait’ – a nice image of something interesting, a leading phrase or question, a freebie, a contact page, a comment button etc….

If you have a page that has a lot of detailed information on it, offer the readers a printer friendly page or a download version. At least then, although you haven’t converted the lead, you will have dropped your bounce and exit rates.

I’ve always found a leading question or phrase quite good. They are unoffensive and people are not scared of clicking them. I hate using ‘Read More’ or ‘Next Page’ links. Try using something similar to : ‘Find out how to Rebuild a Sierra Differential…’ – Couple it to a nice linked image and you’ll see a drop in exit and bounce rates.

For some people, offering a Freebie is a very good link converter. People don’t mind giving away their email address if they think they are getting something for free – especially if they can’t get it from elsewhere. When I say Freebie, don’t think ‘cuddly toy’, think:

  • ‘download’,
  • ‘discount voucher’,
  • ‘trial membership’ etc…

Some of the Social Media crowd find it great to leave a comment on everything they read. Offer them a chance to register and login, then redirect them to a comment box. In the progress, you converted one hit into many.

3. Product Links

Landing pages are great for getting traffic from search engines, but the trick is converting that hit into a lead. The landing page needs lots of descriptive text and data about the product/subject but these pages are not always part of the shop area of a site. A lot of the traffic to the above page is actually for people looking to buy, therefore even if the product isn’t sold on the site, it would be good to have a page hinting toward it, e.g.

  • ‘What to look for when buying a ……’
  • ‘Top Ten Tips about …..’
  • ‘Looking to buy a ….. Email us here’
  • ‘Download our ….. Brochure here’

If the product is sold then the ideal place is close to the top of the page. The human brain naturally reads from the top left of the screen down. Traditionally, across search engines and auction sites, the right hand column has been filled with annoying adverts, so avoid this area. Therefore, loose that huge banner and place an clear and interesting product image/link close to:

  • Left hand, Top 1/3, of screen
  • Centre, Top 1/3 of screen

Having a product for sale can actually add credence to the rest of the information on the page. The theory being, if you sell or manufacturer an item, then maybe you’ll be an expert on the subject.

4. Images

Images are a great way of getting visitors to click through to your gallery. Place a thumbnail size image on a page, with a link to view ‘Full Screen’. Again you haven’t converted the hit, but you’ve taken them to another page, getting that bounce rate down. Make sure that Gallery page has a back link or link to something else of interest.

Visitors expect commercial pages to be of a certain quality; if they are amateur looking, a purchase is unlikely. If a visitor is looking purely for information; just another generic forum site or blog is good enough. The goal is a get a professional looking page, that is fast to load and instantly has what’s been surfed for on screen. I find sites that have the top ¾ of the screen filled with a slow loading Flash movie unbelievably annoying, I don’t care what’s on the rest of the page – I’ve already left. – loose those big banners, especially on anything other than the home page.

5. target=”_blank” links

What does this mean? It is simple a piece of code that is inserted into the link that makes the page open in a new window.

Where and when should I use the target=”_blank” links? 

  • If you are linking to an external site, particularly one that isn’t yours, use this type of link
  • If you are linking to anything on your site don’t use this type of link.
  • If you are linking to a download then use this link
  • Avoid pop-up windows especially on popular pages.

I’m a little mean when it comes to giving other sites traffic. If they aren’t highly ranked and they haven’t already given me a reciprocal link back, you won’t find me giving my hits away! If I do link externally, I make sure my site is still open in the background somewhere.

When linking to pdf files, i use this link. Depending on a users browser set-up, these will open inside the browser rather than download. Therefore, to get back to the previously viewed page a visitor must use the browser back button.
NB. For commercial sites, I go a little further on downloads. I ask un-registered visitors to fill in their email address (only one field!), I then instantly email out a download link for the file. – a little bit of discrete email harvesting. 




Keywords in the Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is always tricky…..
Do I optimise for the product / service or do I optimise for the Brand Name?

In the old days, for people looking for me by brand name I’d place an short listing in the phone book, for products and services I’d place a big Ad in the Yellow Pages or similar business directory.
Back then it was simple – two listing, if only it were that simple now……

Keywords in the Domain Name

This has been argued to be the 2nd most important on-page SEO factor affecting Search engine position (SERPs). Deciding whether to have your company name as your domain name may be very simple or one that involves a lot of personal pride.

If the Brand Name is well established then it’s simple. Quite a lot of people will be trying to find your site with your brand name and as a result your brand name is your keyword.

If your Brand is new, then things get tricky. Are you launching the company / brand via a massive advertising campaign encompassing all media? If the answer is ‘No’, then may be domain name that describes your services is a better option. As an example, one of the UK’s biggest home improvement wharehouses has the domain name diy.com.

Should I optimise my domain name?

Using this ranking factor is all down to branding.

  • Is your brand well known?
  • Would a potential customer be searching for your company name or simply for the products you sell?

The options :

  • A well known company such as Pepsi, Sony or Toyota would definitely have a domain name containing their company name. E.g. www.pepsi.com
  • A company that does all of its’ business on-line, with no other form of advertising may consider using keywords in domain names instead of a brand name. If someone was searching for a place to stay, then they may use the search phrase ‘bournemouth hotels’. Therefore, having the url www.bournemouth-hotels.com could be an advantage. After all, who can remember all the names of their local hotels? It is important that the domain name reflects the target audience.

A Keyword Rich Domain Name

  • http://www.formula-one-racing.com/

How to choose a domain name

When a company is well established, there is an advantage in the domain name reflecting the company name. Use dashes to hyphenate the domain name, where the company name contains more than one word. If the domain name is hyphenated e.g. www.first-second.com, the site will rank better for the first word and less for the second and so on. Do not use more than 3 dashes.

Before choosing a domain name for your website it is important to investigate the possible monthly traffic and also to gauge the competition. Where it is possible, analyse existing keyword entry word analytics for the most commonly used search terms people arrive at a site with. This information can be used to choose new domain names.

If your company name is the same as popular phrase, visitor’s maybe expecting to see a ‘Wikipedia’ style definition of that phrase. When they see an on-line store they will instantly leave, giving that site a ‘bounce’. For instance, there maybe a sandwich shop named ‘Bees Wax’ yet honey does not feature on the menu.
Also many words have alternative meanings, for instance ‘turf’ maybe related to ‘turf accountants’, garden centres, or local ‘odd job’ workmen.

Look at all the competing websites. This is where some web skills become an advantage.
For each competing website make a note of:
Domain names

  • Meta description tags
  • Meta keywords
  • Title tags

Use our SEO domain name keyword tool here:

Once you have generated a list of all the potential keywords that you would like to be found for, feed them into a keyword suggestion tool and keyword traffic estimator.

Choose a Domain Name
Try :

  • https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Google Adwords

  • http://www.google.com/trends

Google Trends

  • https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox

Google Traffic Estimator

It may seem that all the popular domain names have been taken, but with the use of hyphenation, it is still possible to come up with optimised keyword domains.

Once you have you domain check to see if it passes the ‘earshot’ test:

If you here a domain name across a room, could you still type in it an hour later? You are looking for a domain name that is instantly understandable and doesn’t require being spelt out slowly character by character. Try to keep the domain name under 15 characters.

 

Which domain extension is best?
Some domain extensions (Top Level Domain – TLD) are giving a rankings boost if they are government or education related. However, these domains are only issued to institutions.

  • .gov sites seem to be the highest status
  • .edu sites seem to be given a high status
  • .ac.uk sites seem to be given a high status (UK)
  • .org sites seem to be given a high status

Domains ending in .com are easy to remember but are favoured by less reputable sites and spammers. Search engines therefore scrutinise and penalise these sites more readily. Hence if you choose .com make sure that the content is clean and un-offensive.

When trying to remember a domain name, if unsure, the first extension chosen will be ‘.com’. It is easier to say and easier to remember. Even if it was clearly state ‘.net’, the brain will store ‘.com’. Several studies have proven that .com domain names get higher traffic than their .net counterparts and are remembered more accurately.

After .com the next will be the most popular national extension, such as ‘.co.uk’

Opinion is divided on many of the very new extensions. For now, the advice is still .com, .net, .biz, .tv, .co.uk.

When starting a new on-line business principles are similar to that opening a shop. Start locally, and build upon success.

Re-using an Existing domain name

The last thing to consider is whether the domain has previously been registered. Previously, registered domains can demand higher premiums plus they may also come with un-wanted baggage. Only re-use a domain when you are 100% sure of its’ history and there has been no down-time. Only buy existing domains with a Google ranking of 5 or above.
Worse case:
Imagine if the previous owner of the domain had left huge debts and thousands of disgruntled customers. It may not only be this url that gets bad traffic, but potentially hundreds of forum sites crammed angry customer’s comments. You could be the victim of mistaken identity. If the url has been banned by search engines for offensive content or illegal activity getting, it re-listed may be virtually impossible and a fruitless time consuming exercise.
Other issues:
Visitors to the site may be expecting certain content. Those visitors’ maybe human or automated spiders. When the expected content is absent, a human will instantly leave, giving the website a ‘bounce’. A spider will penalise the site for missing urls (404 errors), dynamic content and down-time. It will take months, if not years for this to correct itself.

When purchasing an existing domain, try not to instantly change all of the content, this will get the site a ‘dynamic content’ penalty. Keep the theme of the site close to the original.

How do I know if a domain has been previously used?

  • Check if a domain is currently registered by using our Domain name checker to do a Whois look-up.
  • Type the domain name into the search bar of as many browsers you can find. Check the first 10 pages of all results.
  • Using Google, type ‘site:’ directly followed by your domain name.
    • site:www.domain-name.com

What is Website Canonicalisation?

If http://domain-name.com gives the same result as http://www.domain-name.com then there is an issue known as canonicalisation. Essentially two web addresses give the same content. For this you will receive a duplicate content penalty. It is important only one url exists. The other should be re-directed (301 redirect) to the chosen target.

Should the www be included in the url?

It is possible to omit the www from urls. However, most visitors will automatically type the ‘www.’ without even thinking. It has become expected and a phrase starting with www will be instantly recognisable as a web address.




B2B or B2C: These Days It’s All About Talking Around Your Product

Two examples of what I mean. Both illustrate the realities of what can only be called a new, skeptical age of marketing.
1. An entrepreneurial young man starts an executive dating company and it takes off. So much so that he is invited to speak on “The Today Show,” a stalwart national morning TV program that’s watched by millions of Americans. He’s excited and expects to pick up a lot of business. The result?  A few more visitors to the web site, but that’s it. Are you kidding? National TV and not one new customer? Only months later, after his company is mentioned in various blogs related to online dating, does my young friend realize a significant amount of new business. These blogs did not talk about his company directly… they were speaking about the problems of online dating and, ‘oh, by the way, there is a company that supposedly helps executives find dates’. That simple line delivered by someone other than a company spokesperson is all it took.
2. A now best selling author releases his first ‘how to’ book and does the usual talk show rounds. The response? Same as above… not much. But… the release of the book is blogged about on a very popular lifestyle site – ‘oh, by the way, has anyone read this book’? – and sales go through the roof. Literally 10,000 copies fly out of Amazon.
You see a pattern, don’t you? Cynical consumers do not believe most of what companies and their agencies say about a product. The idea of speaking directly to a possible consumer about your product is seen as ‘sales,’ as hype, as one step up from snake oil.
(One very important caveat: if you have the money to run with enough frequency, forget all of the above. Frequency works and it doesn’t matter if the creative is good or not. Keep showing the ad and people will eventually get on board – like Goebbels’ ‘big lie’ theory of propaganda.)
Today, consumers believe something when they get the message in a more round about way… which is the beauty of social media (because it’s the engine that powers ’round about’ information distribution). When design engineers, for example, are exchanging ideas on LinkedIn about robotics systems, and one of them says, ‘I saw a machine today that used Brand X flexible cables’, that kind of talking around the product is seen as real, unbiased, truthful and leads to sales.
If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few months, I know what you’re thinking: “You always say that social media allows you to talk directly with customers, now you’re saying that companies shouldn’t do this?”
No that’s not what I’m saying. You can and should talk directly to potential customers, but about things like new technologies, problems and solutions, general industry developments. This seemingly ‘direct’ communication is actually a form of talking around your product. But as soon as the discussion turns to, “our product is the result of years of research, making the new XB-1000 a world class walnut cruncher,” you’ve lost the sketch and the customer’s attention.
It’s tricky… there’s a fine line… this is not direct response so new business isn’t going to develop overnight, it rarely does in B2B. But talking around your product (and getting so-called unbiased experts to give you the nod) is the way to go these days, unless, as I said, you have very deep advertising pockets!
What a tome I’ve written. I apologize. Let me put it simply.
If I walk into a party and say “Hi, I’m Nick and I’m very cool,” people hate me. If I walk into the same party an hour after two women were talking about how interesting Nick is, well… I’m golden.



Keywords in url - Is this important?

This is alleged to be the most important factor in SEO.

What is a keyword in url? :

How do I optimise a url for a keyword?

  • www.domain-name.com/keyword.html – place the keyword as close to the domain name as possible.

Unless in a strongly ‘themed’ branch, keep keywords close the domain name in the folder structure

Not www.domain.com/folder-one/sub-folder-two/another-folder-three/keyword.html

  • If you have two keywords, use hyphenation. www.domain-name.com/key-word.html
NB.The first keyword in the url will always take priority.(in this case ‘key’)
  • 3 hyphenations maximum
  • Less than 30 Characters (60 absolute maximum)

Keep the whole url as short as possible

  • Use Static Url structures like:

/category/subcategory/page.html  – i.e. the site structure is fixed and not constantly changing.

In contrast, dynamic structures are like : ‘index.php?cat=3&subcat=4&page=11 – these should be avoided

  • Do not stuff the url with keywords. Instead concentrate on just one keyword or phrase.
  •  Link well ranked pages to other well ranked pages. Loose links to pages you don’t care too much about.
  •  Include the file extension. Without it the browser will have to check the folder, for possible candidates. This will slow page loading.
When people use search engines, they often have either a general search terms or a company name in mind. If you are optimising for a company name see ‘Keyword in Domain’. However, because domain names often reflect a company name, it is reckoned that keywords deeper in the url are given priority.
We all know how hard it is to remember a domain name, remembering a dynamic url would be next to impossible. Therefore, for important pages and keywords, it is often a good idea to create a landing page with a short easily remembered url. Use short basic words that do not require a language degree to spell. Try to keep the whole url under 30 characters.

Keyword Rich Url

Taking care not to over-stuff a url with keywords, this can be very effective. If you are trying to optimise for more than one keyword, then use hyphenation. For instance if you were trying to optimise for ‘target keyword’ then use example of a keyword rich url:
  • www.domain-name.com/target-keyword.html
Choose keywords that aren’t super popular, choose ones that are still ranked by Google but are slightly more specific
  •  www.formula-one-racing.com/ferrari/schumacher-f2007.html
Search engines use periods and dashes as word separators, some people argue that you can also use an underscore or indeed other characters but this is very controversial and should be avoided.
What happens if you were to use a url stripped of hyphenation? :
  • www.domain-name.com/targetkeyword.html
Obviously ‘targetkeyword’ isn’t a real word and therefore would not be ranked. That’s not to say that a search engine cannot read these url’s as they often highlight partial matches, but when ranking the page it’s not going to e given the same priority.

You can use Google to list websites with a given keyword in the url. Use ‘allinurl:’ directly followed by a keyword or hyphenated phrase

  • allinurl:key-word

Or simply type your chosen keyword into a search engine. Some search phrases may get unexpected results.

For urls that are advertised elsewhere, there is a string argument to keep the whole url link as short as possible.

How to choose a keyword or key-phrase

Use a keyword traffic estimator such as:
Google Adwords
Google Trends
Google Traffic Estimator

If competition and traffic for a given keyword is high, choose a different keyword or phrase to optimise for. If traffic is high then there will be dozens of highly ranked, well established site perfectly optimised for that phrase. Competition for the phrase ‘cherry pie’ would be huge and a battle not worth fighting, yet competition for ‘soft cherry pie’ would be much lower and a much better bet.

Consider the order words appear in. With the advent of ‘Google Instant’ the importance of word order and use of phrases has risen drastically. Now as you begin typing a word or phrase into the search box, Google tries to predict what you are searching for, by offering a drop down selection of phrases. Unfortunately, these predictions are often the top most highly contended. Make a note of these phrases.

Investigate the competition:

With a lot of search engines, only a very small ranking bonus for meta data is given, yet some search engine still display this data is search result listings. Unfortunately, this data also gives away what the page has been optimised for. Most web pages are not that well optimised yet it is definitely worth checking out the competition.

To do this you will need to view the source code of the page and look for:

  • <meta content=”Some text to describe the page” name=”description”>
  • <meta content=”keyword, key word, keyphrase, keyphrase” name=”keywords”>
  • <title>name of webpage</title>
  • <meta content=”Name of web page” name=”Title”>

Start a spread-sheet with a couple of tables:

Source

Meta Description

Meta Keywords

Meta Title Tag

Title Tag

www.site_one.com

Some text to describe the page

Keyword, key word, keyphrase, keyphrase

name of webpage

Name of web page

www.site-two.co.uk

Page description

another keyword, another key phrase

Another Title

Another Title

Google Instant Prediction

 

search key word

 

 

Now use Google adwords on all the phrases you have found:

Keyword

Global Monthly Searches

Local Monthly Searches

keyword

1,290,045

9,916

key word

720,920

3,205

keyphrase

650,123

2,712

key phrase

456,864

1,934

Name of Webpage

25,789

311

Another Title

8,114 91

Organise the results so they are in order of Global Monthly Searches. Key words or phrases at the top of the list will be highly contended and will have many well established sites competing intensely for top spot. For a new page, pick a key word or phrase close to the bottom of the list. Typically, these will be longer key-phrases and not singular keywords. These are your money phrases.

Before going too far, you now need a double check on key-word trends. The popularity of certain phrases and keywords varies over time. A keyword related to a recent breaking news story will have a sharp increase in popularity, but after 6 months traffic for this keyword will have dropped right off. Some keywords have a much gentler trend, as they simply go into and out of fashion. The trick is to pick a keyword on the breach of a rise and not one in decline.

p>Google Trends

Domain name themes

When urls contain more than one sub-folder, the keywords that are contained within a ‘themed’ parent folder are given a higher ranking than if they were unique to the whole site. For instance a recipe would get a higher ranking if there were hundreds of similar recipes on that site.

A ‘cherry pie’ recipe, would gain a higher ranking status if it was in the following structure.

  • www.recipe.com/cake/soft-cherry-pie

www.recipes.com
|
____________________________
|||
BBQCakesVegetarian
|
____________________________
|||
Crusty Cherry PieCherry SpongeSoft Cherry Pie

Notice, the sub folders are related, with each folder having a logical parent. However the url is not keyword stuffed. Stuffing a url with keywords will receive a penalty. When choosing parent names, there is some balance issues. You are looking for a logical parent but without being too general. Parent names such as ‘sales’ or ‘store’ are too generic.

A badly stuffed url could look like:

  • www.cherry-pie.com/pie/cherry/recipe/cherry-pie-recipe.html

Suppose somebody types Soft Cherry Pie into a search engine and finds two sites containing that term. The site which returns twenty Cherry Pie recipes will be picked over the site with just one. A search engine thinks the same way as a human choosing a book. The one that has several pages of similar theme will always win.

Some search engines, such as Google list several results for the same page indented below the Primary find. Therefore, you are taking up more of the visible part of search results, with the competition being pushed off the bottom of the screen.




Vertical Markets and Pyramids

Vertical Markets, Pyramid Websites and Themed Trees 

Pyramid Websites may be a big leap for those new to SEO, but in fact the principle has been around for many years. ‘Themed SEO’ is about addressing specific Vertical Markets with targeted information.

Vertical Markets are the different sectors that a business trades within. These sectors might include OEM, Corporate, Service, Distribution, etc.

Pyramid Websites and SEO are often considered a ‘black art’ and outsourced, as a post-production task, to a specialist company. The relationships between a company’s suppliers, distributors and clients are broken. If all concerned parties were contacted up-front, a websites search engine ranking could be increased with no need for coding knowledge.

Vertical Marketing is about stepping back and looking at your business as a whole and compartmentalising your market sectors.
Google takes a similar approach when it indexes a site; starting with a broad theme, then working its way down. Google will read and index a webpage into its library and for a page to be found within search engine result pages (SERPs) it needs to be stored within the right section.

Vertical Marketing and Pyramid Website Advantages

From a Marketing standpoint there are huge advantages in tracking which market sector a visitor is from.

  • Improved Market Specific Analytics
  • Long term planning and strategy insights
  • Less effort than the competition
  • Faster reaction to market fluctuations
  • Opening unforeseen opportunities
  • Identifying niche markets
  • Providing focussed content
  • Brand recognition within market sectors
  • Higher search engine rankings

Some sites think they can gain this information by asking every visitor to fill in lengthy forms. Lets face it, nobody likes or trusts these; so it makes much better sense to track what pages are popular within such tools as Google Analytics and AWStats. The resulting statistics can be used in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the website and long term, to identify trends within individual markets. Ask existing clients what subjects they would like more input or need with and build from there.

Vertical Marketing and Theme Pyramid

SEO Value WebSite Structure (sub content categories)
1 No value Main Site Root or Index Page
2 Low value
Primary single keywords
On index pages
(hallway pages)
Sub Topic A /
Market Sector A
Sub Topic B /
Market Sector B
Sub Topic C /
Market Sector C
 
3 Medium value
Secondary 1-2 word keywords
(Cornerstone pages)
Medium
a1
Medium
a2
Medium
b1
Medium
b2
Medium
c1
Medium
c2
4 High value
2-3 word keywords and / or phrases
on high content pages
High
a1a
High
a1b
High
a2a
High
a2b
High
b1a
High
b1b
High
b2a
High
b2b
High
c1a
High
c1b
High
c2a
High
c2b
5 Money!
2-4 word keywords and / or phrases
on prime targeted pages
£
a1c
£
a1d
£
a1e
£
a1f
£
a2c
£
a2d
£
a2e
£
a2f
£
b1c
£
b1d
£
b1e
£
b1f
£
b2c
£
b2d
£
b2e
£
b2f
£
c1c
£
c1d
£
c1e
£
c1f
£
c2c
£
c2d
£
c2e
£
c2f

When generating your Vertical Markets or Google Themed branches, start with broad content, then work your way down through each sector. Horizontal Market sectors should be controlled or co-ordinated by a parent section authority. Each section should be linked vertically to one parent and multiple siblings; being mindful that haphazard linking will dilute the Vertical Market or Google theme and a strongly themed page will benefit from higher rankings within SERPs.

If linking one page to another could support or strengthen the theme, the link should pass indirectly via the target’s ‘hallway’ or ‘cornerstone’ parent. This will not only categorise a page but encourage click through, increasing the sites’ hit count.

Using section 5 as an example, to link ‘£ a1c’ to ‘£ a1d’, the flow through of links would look like:

‘£ a1c’ » ‘High a1a’ » ‘£ a1d’

To link horizontals from different market sectors, the page linking flow might look like:
 

‘£ a1c’ » ‘Sub Topic B’ » ‘Medium b1′ » ‘High b1a’ » ‘£ b1c’

Coders can prevent theme dilution with the use of the rel=”nofollow” linking tag. This can be particularly beneficial when large drop down menus are present. For a site linking matrix to be affective, it needs to be constructed leaving no page, a ‘dead end’. If this strategy is used in conjunction with a CMS, the linking matrix should be kept up to date and checked regularly by someone with coding knowledge. A simple link ‘breadcrumb’ and a sub menu can overcome many of these issues.

  • Home >> Category One >> Page One

Google uses algorithms that filter and categorise pages depending upon the relevance of inbound and outbound links. Several Google patents pay close attention to the keywords used within a links’ anchor or text. If that link is outside of a menu and placed within the main content, it can be worth as much, or more than an inbound external link. Contextual links are considered to be more important, as they often closely reflect a pages theme.

Contrary to most peoples’ expectations, your target keywords and phrases should be at the bottom of the tree and not the top. The keywords at the top of the tree should encompass the theme without be too long or specific, whereas keywords at the bottom can be longer and more industry specific. Pages at the bottom of the tree are more likely to bring in higher volumes of traffic.

How do I monitor Pyramid Websites? 

Simple. Firstly install Google Analytics onto your website:

http://www.google.com/analytics/

Secondly, once you have capture say one month’s results, underneath ‘Content Overview’ click ‘view report’
Google Analytics Content Overview

Within the next page click ‘View Full report’

Google Analytics Pyramid Websites

In the next window at the bottom complete the filter box with your branch name.

for your ‘Blog’ branch, you’d type:

  • /blog/

Google Analytics and Vertical Markets




B2B SEO can be Make or Break

It’s true, SEO can make or break any on line B2B company. It’s important to get your message across and to get as much traffic as possible to visit your website. If you trade on-line and web traffic is low, it is unlikely that business will boom.

How many websites have you seen where the only content is a few stock photos of the receptionist and some generic text about the company history? Yawn…ZZZzzzzz

Internet Marketing can involve a lot of research into the latest methods, but one thing always remains constant and that same principle has stood solid since the dawn of advertising. Provide the customer with what they are looking for.

Sure, I’m always quite pleased when I find a new technique that could increase traffic or sales and these days they seem to be coming thick and fast, but if the content wasn’t on the page in the first place “I’d be flogging a dead horse”. The algorithms used by search engines change daily and often just minor tweaks are needed to keep on top.

The ill informed; will suggest using ‘Black Hat’ techniques and sure on the day you try, they might produce good results, but a Search Engines’ goal is to provide their users with quality content and if that content has sneaked to the top through underhand methods, they’ll tweak their algorithm again and your website will disappear for a long time. Lets face it, if you cheat, you’ll get punished. If your customers don’t want to be on your website, they’ll leave fast; so entice them in with ‘attractive goodies’ and reward them before they leave.

What is very important, is not just to gather Analytics but to understand what they mean. Simply expecting them to go up with time is the first mistake people make with analytics. For even a very new website with barely any visitors you can gain info, such as whether the traffic is B2B or B2C, whether they know your brand name and what they thought of your website.

My Parents ran a sucessful shop for 40 years and always refered to ‘Foot Fall’, ‘Checkouts’ and ‘Sales’. Foot fall being the number of customers through the door in a day, checkouts the number of times the till draw opened and Sales being the ££££. Analytics are no different, they will reflect exactly the same figures (For B2C, even if everybody is on the beach: not shopping!) These days you don’t have to go by a persons accent to see how far they’ve travelled to buy goods or services; you’ll get a nice map.

In the old days, you might have gauged what people wanted simply by talking to them. The same is very true today, but now you are listening for ‘Keywords’ and these are one factor that will drive traffic to a website. There are many different approaches for gaining a list of keywords, some easy, some slow and some more successful than others.

Once you have a list of keywords it is then important to understand that placing them in the url, linking text on external Forums / Blogs etc can produce positive effects. Use them as anchor text, for keyword stemming, theme generation, for social media tweets etc…

Some people look at a website and see the pictures, I don’t. I don’t quite see the code ‘Matrix style’ but I can soon see if a site is SEO and analytics friendly. Within minutes, even without access to their analytics I’ll be able to determine a companies web presence, social media presence, whether they are doing anything active to drive traffic to a site, what qualifications the web developer has, who wrote the content, how long they’ve been trading, how often they update or add copy, are they in the news? etc. Our Graphic Designers, will see me as rather special and make comments about my icons being un-enticing to visitors – In other words one persons’ opionion is just that, it’s a team effort, that needs to be co-ordinated.

Planning is the key, if a websites’ structure is correctly laid out then it becomes easier to add filters to the analytics to identify markets, gauge success of keywords, branding or market sectors. I’ll publish more on pyramid websites and theming of web branches at a later date. For instance at this company we have various experts, I’ll mostly be ‘blogging’ within the SEO section, therefore I’ve set up some filters to just monitor the traffic to these pages, I’ll monitor ‘click through’ and also Social Media presence of articles.




A Simple Answer

Sometimes, maybe most of the time, we tend to over think things. It’s human nature… we want to know everything about everything before we make a decision, even small decisions. (I once took six months to purchase a pair of Fry boots from eBay: what colour? what price? what style? how much to ship? can I return them? I finally bought a pair and have worn them no more than four times in the past year.)

So, when someone asks “Why should my company participate is social media?” agencies and marketers and B2B gurus tend to reply with esoteric answers about the changing nature of the relationship between company and consumer, the rise of scepticism, any number of (often valid) reasons.

Here’s the simplest and perhaps most profound answer.

Approximately 50% of your best customers prefer to receive information via one or more social media platforms. This percentage is for the USA, UK and Europe… in some Asian countries, the number is much higher.

Case closed – unless you think this 50% isn’t worth the effort.

“Why should I be on Facebook?” – because almost half of your best customers are there.

“Why should I have a LinkedIn page?” – because almost half of your best customers are there.

Now let’s say it’s 1995 – “Why should I advertise in a trade magazine?” – because almost half of your best customers are there.

The logic is the same. There’s no complex reasoning. Your customers have migrated from trade magazines to social media platforms. As a marketer, you have to follow. That’s all the logic you need, really.

(By the way, does this mean you should abandon traditional platforms? No, the other 50% of your best customers are still there.)




How not to create your company website

One thing that really gets my back up is the lack of intelligent thinking that some B2B technology companies put into planning and creating their new website.  Particularly, given that a company’s website is probably the single most important communications tool required today.

I was reminded of this again recently during a credentials meeting with a director of a B2B technology company and potential new client for Vertical.  Having agreed the importance of the new website to his customers, prospects and international channel partners, he explained that we would only be required to design the site, and that a young lady in his admin department, armed with a GCSE in English, would be writing the copy, and a guy in despatch, who recently received a digital camera from his girlfriend as a birthday present, would be producing the photography.

Does this mean that all you copywriters and photographers, who studied for years to attain professional qualifications, since which time you have gained many more years of real world experience, need to dust off your CVs and retrain as office clerks or for a position in ‘goods despatch’?

I informed the director that no website created by Vertical’s professional designers would feature such copy or images and promptly left.  But not before suggesting that he should buy a copy of Dreamweaver for the lady on reception, whom I ascertained studied art at school, so that she could design the site.

The moral of the story?  Stick to what you do best….we do!




Getting your Website ranked

  • Submit your website to 1,000 search engines instantly.
  • Top 10 search engine ranking overnight

We’ve all seen adverts and emails like these, but are they true?

The unfortunately answer is ‘NO’ and also “it’s complicated”! After all, if it were that simple, every website on the planet would be Number 1. Just because your site is registered with every search engine on earth, does not mean any of them rank you highly. In fact, by submitting a poor website to them all, you’ll destroy any chance of ever getting ranked. Sharp increases in popularity, especially for new sites, are often viewed with extreme suspicion by search engines. Is this site employing dodgy tactics?

Search Engine Optimisation is a constantly evolving and ever more confusing art. It’s one of those jobs that, with just a little knowledge, most developers could do quite well at. It’s also one of those jobs; that would be easy to make into a science.

The good news is, most websites are awful in terms of SEO. If you were to create short bullet points of the mistakes made on the average page or site, you’d cover several sheets of paper. Why is this good? For a lot of search terms; it shouldn’t be too hard to get a well designed website, ranked close to the top. Everyone else’s weakness could be your strength.

The first and often most significant SEO mistake?

SEO is done by geekie anorak wearing nerds, working from their mums’ dark basement- Right? WRONG!!!!! – HUGE BIG FAT WRONG!

  • SEO is done in the boardroom
  • SEO is done by all employees including and not exclusively the marketing office and web developers
  • SEO is done from existing, establish material
  • SEO is done by people with no knowledge of coding
  • Most importantly, SEO is done form info supplied by your customers, suppliers, distributors and possibly competitors.

Sure, some areas of SEO are best left a ‘nerdie mystery’ but hopefully, we can help you, to help yourself. The best advice is DON’T LEAVE CONTENT AND COPY TO YOUR WEB DESIGNER!

  • Web designers have to say they understand SEO: it’s their job
  • A lot of web designers think that SEO is about adding a few lines of code.
  • When working within teams, web designers often compete to over complicate sites, leaving them invisible to search engines, irritating to visitors and slow to load.

The Biggest SEO Mistake?

The SEO expert is brought in after the website has been ‘finished’. SEO is not an afterthought and should be looked at as the foundation upon which a solid site is built. Before even a single line of code is written, a clear site map, a list of goals and draft copies of all content and graphics need to shown to the SEO guru. If this is not done; even for professionally created sites; an SEO expert may recommend that deleting and starting over to be the best option. SEO is integral to every aspect of design: content, code, graphic design, branding, scope, functionality, marketing……………

Every web developer thinks they have some secret way of doing SEO, but the simple fact is Search engines try really hard to keep websites that have quality content close to the top of rankings, not those that have ‘tricked’ search engines. Keep your content original and informative.

Remember, what gets your site listed today, might not work tomorrow and changes during the design process may have unexpected impacts upon future on SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages). Finally, even the best SEO expert will struggle to overcome some decisions made in the boardroom. The more work done up-front; before you even pick up the phone; the less labour intensive, time consuming and indeed successful the whole job will become. When you talk to the SEO expert, stay flexible, as some of the recommendations may not be what you want to hear. A balance must be struck and the implications understood.