Thursday, 25 October 2007

Trend Spotter Alert !!

This will be a quick post, just to outline, how you should really delve into Web Site Analytics.

It is important to be curious, asking the "Why?", never jump to conclusions and when looking at peaks and troughs, always have an open mind.

It is after that exercise that you can pull out your marketing plan, and say oh, it is because of my Yahoo Banner ad, that I had more conversions, or it's due to that article I submitted to XY directory. But don't look at the plan, until after your 1st review, as you may miss something rather interesting, with the question: Why ?

When on the search for trends (Google Alerts is a good one), look cross industry and notice the changes in customer expectations on and offline. When did X site realise that a helpful online assistant would be essential in their transactions.

I am noticing lately that the social, in social networking is on the rise, with industry experts posting articles on their blog, about their home lives. Connecting in a personal manner is the new way of doing business (Quote: "Sarah G"), it is knowing where to settle which is the issue (Quote: "Sarah G")

My advice and sure would be others too is to not just look at your competition, look outside, get inspiration from everywhere, and do something totally different from the one in which you are next to in natural search or sponsored listings.

Generalising is the key. I will be back with my generalisations shortly....

Sarah G

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Something new in Analytics

The "Big G", Google have announced that in the next coming weeks that they will be adding some new features for its users.


Site search: Find out what people search for on your site

Interaction: Allow you to find out how users on your site interact/engage with Ajax, Flash and Multimedia (to give clearer picture of page view metrics)

Where visitors go: Looking at whether they have clicked on any outbound links on your site – this is an interesting one !

Launched in Beta to review outgoing links.

For more information, see the blog post from Google themselves:

Friday, 19 October 2007

Facebooks getting personal

The Wall Street Journal posted this article about Facebooks plan to launch a new advertising system which will target ad delivery to Facebookers based on the profile information they submit.

It is aimed that in the near future the system will even be able to 'predict' (Minority report stylee: "How's your sweater") what they are interested in, trawling other information on the page, even before the Facebooker submits their interests.

Although Facebook has a higher advertising rate, than other search mediums (aka:Google) it is thought that via enhanced targeting, upmarket facebookers, that this advertising avenue, will definately be one to watch, as right now my thought on the subject is that, it seems logical that Facebook will provide attractive conversion rates.

Interesting times are ahead, could Facebook become the new Google, when looking for and generating customers. Or will Facebookers flock elsewhere if the commercial nature becomes too rife. Already we have flyers along the side and seeing ads being displayed within the new feeds sections.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Optimising content & links

These are all steps I've known about in the search engine world for over 5 years, now putting finger to keyboard and sharing with you.....

Search Engine Optimisation steps to take:

Step 1:

You need to review target audience, what are their needs, optimise site around these needs. Look for online studies for demographic information, visit other sites, social communities where audience reside online.

Step 2:

The selection of keywords should be based on campaign strategy, competition, products & volume. We research keywords using, tools such as WordTracker, Overture keyword checker (currently offline) & data from Google & Yahoo search marketing accounts. E-consultancy reported (2006) that over half of the online audience now use phrases that are 3 words or longer in their search queries, this further indicates need for key-phrase analysis to determine the most appropriate. Studies have highlighted that it is important to note the different themes used in search, when choosing appropriate key phrases:

Search themes (courtesy and thanks sent to e-consultancy) include:

Comparison: compare hotels
Price: cheap holidays
Intended use: family holiday in September
Product type: package holiday
Product spec/feature: Hotel with spa facilities
Brand: Seymour Hotels
Location: Hotel Jersey
Action: Book Hotel Jersey

Google’s keyword tool is a great way to generate synonyms and variations of your existing keywords. It also predicts monthly search volume on Google for previous month, based on campaigns locaiton and language settings, and gives indication (if interested in PPC) of the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword across all of the Adwords.

With regards to competition analysis, the below tool could be used to identify the most common key-phrases listed on each page of competitiors sites, showing 2nd, 3rd and 4th most popular key-phrases.

We also use the advanced search syntax for competitor benchmarking in Google and identify pages that perform well through googling [“keyphrase”].

Step 3:

Base site architecture and navigation on the audience & keyword research in step 1 and 2, ie: If site sells Shampoo, consider how could categorise so people find what they are looking for in natural search, ie: are people looking for Shampoo for Coloured Hair or are the searches more brand related. Set themes, as this will assist with setting future objectives, performance, and ongoing optimisation. For example for retailers themes would be based around product ranges, categories and subcategories.

Structure of the site is also about labelling content in the most appropriate way & making link journeys relevant for spiders and humans with this in mind place appropriate keywords in filenames.

Step 4:

Make sure the website is suitable for users and search engine spiders. Spiders are unable to fill out forms, read JavaScript links, and they sometimes have trouble with Flash. We can use these areas, as long as we make sure that we provide alternative HTML links in the navigation. Ask E-scape Interactive about the document (in continual progress) titled ‘code considerations’ document for more details.

Step 5:

Where possible you should look as every link as an opportunity, and be descriptive (within reason) with every link, be it general more information ‘on subject’ link, link to image, video clip – it is important that using Alt & Title attributes that we let the spiders know what they can expect at the other end of the link . The online sitemap should be given close SEO attention.
We have experiene in optimising both videos and images, ask E-scape Interactive for details.

Step 6:

Search engines need to read keyword rich text to help them determine what the website is about. As mentioned before the copy produced should be based on the chosen keyword phrases and the sites target market needs. Looking at generating a keyword density of 3 – 7%. (No more than 10%) within the text.

Step 7:

Place the important and page relevant keyword phrases into each pages unique Title Tag. Typically between: 10 to 15 keywords (60 – 70 characters). The information you place in this text will appear as clickable link in search engines. Also make sure that the meta description is focused on the page content. Remember that just 15-20 words (approx: 150 – 180 characters) of the meta description are visible within the SERPS of Google. Keywords in the meta data are now not deemed as vital, however useful for engines which use meta crawlers. Use 5 to 8 keyphrases maximum otherwise there will be a dilution effect which will decrease keyword density

A good example of keyword density can be found by Googling, Yahooing, or Live searching for Cycle breaks Jersey: There are 266 words on this Seymours page (which ranks 1 or 2) 10 of which are the keyphrases, giving a keyword density of 3.75%. Which is about right for number of words on the page, note also the link off the page.

Step 8:

All the search engines place weight on the sites overall link popularity when determining the natural search engine placement. With this in mind it is important to make sure that the site is link worthy ie: is it full of useful information, updated content. Then people will link to the site without asking. Another way of creating links is contacting directories (relevant & quality ones), increase reach in Blogs, Forums, niche portals, and if e-commerce site shopping portals (ie: Froogle & Ebay).

Hint 1: You can find people to link to by putting this into Google "niche word""add url" or "niche word" "add site".

Hint 2: You can find all links to your site by putting this into Google to exlude internal links put in, and to find niche directories put in: intitle:"word directory".

Link building is an important practice, as with all other steps, relevancy is key. Steer away from link farms and be selective in who you decide to create link partnerships with.

The best way to assess links in is to use the Site Explorer tool at Yahoo, placing relevant code within your meta data.

This is your basic list - next step is integrating your results with your sales & marketing strategies.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Ebay Optimisation

Useful Ebay stats

  • Ebay was founded in 1995, Ebay UK was launched in 1999.
  • Ebay has a global consumer base of 244 million registered users (as at 10/9/07)
  • At any given time ebay UK has 3 million items listed and growing.
  • Ebay UK is the 2nd most popular site in the UK with 2.51% market share.See:
  • The most expensive item sold on eBay to date is a private business jet for $4.9 million.
Two strategies for using Ebay

1. Sell products

2. Use as a customer acquisition tool, and sell products at minimal profit, grow customer base.

Making Ebay a customer acquisition tool

Advice is to include a link to the off eBay website in the: “About me” page. You can also place on opt-in form in there to collect people’s e-mail addresses, so you can build relationships with customers and promote products to the customers in the future. The “About Me” page is the most important area, some do’s to use this page properly.

1. Include link to the off ebay website in the ‘About me page’ – and encourage visitors to see other products.
2. Include an opt in form on the page, to encourage sign up add promotion, newsletter, something free.
3. Also in the auction listing encourage people to visit the ‘About me’ page. Possibly ask them to read FAQ – about shipping & delivery.
4.When someone does buy something from ebay, important to get in the habit ofsending out a ‘thank you for your custom/order’, if available invite them to sign up tonewsletter, so that you can then get this customer on the ‘opt in’ list. Important tonever email, without ‘opt in’ as the customer could complain and ebay will close theebay shop.

Make sure you follow the ebay rules:

  • Don't include any links to your off-eBay website in your auction listings.
  • Don't include any links to your website in your eBay store or custom pages.
  • Don't include an opt-in offer in your auction listings or eBay store.
  • Don't automatically add your auction customers or visitors to your opt-in list.

Basically the above means don’t try and send people off eBay or collect their information for marketing purposes on your auction listings, your eBay store or any of your customer pages.

How do you take advantage of eBay?

1. Recommended: Selling Manager Pro

Monthly fee – this application will: automatically list and re-list items for you plus:
Inform buyers by auto notification
Let you know when payment has been received
Tell you what items you have shipped
Provide Auto feedback upon buyer payment
Allow the scheduling of items
Offer Reporting
Allows you to Design Professional Listings
Restock alerts

It also allows client to create professional & business like listings which are similar to company website. Mimic the company website for integrated brand communications. Example of company using Ebay as a successful sales and customer acquisition tool:

Ebay shop example - good integration from ebay shop to site

About us section
Public website

EBay Shop set up – four quick steps via Ebay

1. Build and customise shop (Your online marketing agency can assist with this)
2. Manage listing and sales
3. Promote shop
4. Track shop traffic & sales.

Useful Ebay Firefox Addon

Understanding social media & social network marketing optimisation

It is important to think beyond Google, Yahoo, MSN (main road) as traffic drivers to your site (via search engine marketing) and to consider the potential of the social side streets (new neighbourhoods).

Hitwise (June 07) state:

“Social networking has firmly established itself as one of the most popular online activities, with the top 20 social networks accounting for 4% of UK Internet visit, up 79% year on year”.

This growth has increased the amount of traffic that they distribute to commercial websites as Social networks are not just about finding friends, they are also about sharing interesting content. Businesses can take advantage of the networks by listening to what their target market is saying and engaging them with relevant content.

Social marketing is about making your data/messages available to potential site visitors no matter where they are on the web (ie:YouTube, Directories, Flickr, Image search). It allows for the design of more targeted messages to groups found in online communities.

For further information on implementing social media into your marketing strategy read on:

Social Marketing Optimisation

The main goal in social marketing optimisation should be, to deliver the right message to the right people and for those then to pass the message onto others. That is known as viral. An additional benefit of Social Marketing Optimisation is increased presence in the search result pages & increased traffic into your website. Two tactics for optimising social media are listed below;

*Create Compelling copy that people want to pass on.
*Optimise on Text, Images and Videos by tagging and indexing them properly.

Words of advice for people new to social media

Before you can determine social media goals it is important for you to:

*Go online without an agenda and listen to conversions – especially those around your brand.

*Participate in conversations

*Comment in blogs

*Set up own blog, group, community based on popular themes or possibly missing themes.

*Start to use social media sites that will be useful for you: such as Digg or, Stumble upon.

*Consider how social networks can be matched to your target audience ie: for SEO audience Sphinn better than Digg.

*Consider how much time you can invest to communicate to your target audience.

*Don’t jump straight in and promote your company in the networks, this is bad practice, it is important to pay attention to the ongoing conversions, spend time their, build up your authority to ‘related or unrelated to your brand’ answers. This will provide you with credibility & trust which on click on link through to your website, will lead to improved ROI.

*Note that in the terms and conditions on the majority of social network sites, it states that profiles made are for personal and non commercial use only, so strong word of advice: make sure you don’t directly sell and are using it for the objective to increase awareness and traffic to your site.

Interested in social media optimisation steps to take

Seek help as to why you need to move into social media and how it could benefit you. Link the social media planning into the goals in which you are trying to accomplish within your own marketing campaigns. For example should you wish to promote your brand then YouTube (engaging videos) may be the most successful place for you to send out a viral message.
Alternatively if a major focus is that you wish to generate more links and increase your reach then creating content that can be promoted on a social news-site could be best. As well as compelling text it is also important to make sure that all the social media campaigns are optimised for search engines.

Should you be running an E-commerce site, then note that several recent studies have indicated that word of mouth has the greatest impact in purchase decisions. If a customer can see on/off your site what people with similar interest and needs are buying then this is likely to sway their decision.

In summary it is important to:

*Identify where your influencers are online
*Create the right content
*Let the consumer take control.

Create your own network

The biggest opportunity within the social network arena is to build a community within your own site, so your visitors can share their experiences and if applicable shopping lists.

Word of advice would be to set the tone right for your target market, to make sure you reach out to those people who have a particular admiration or enthusiasm for your product or service.

Should you be running an E-commerce site then you will know that consumers no longer just shop, but they also share insights into their shopping experiences and purchases. This has been named ‘social retailing’. Social retailing on or off your site can be used as an information gathering tool. Example of social retailing on a site could be: “Save products in your locker, share you locker with a friend or someone who is interested in same products as you”.

To entice this activity provide a reward scheme, where they receive points for contributions and best answers. Possibly you could provide incentive if reach X amount of reward points.

Should you run a social network off your site then it is important you make sure you follow the rules (T&Cs) at the social network sites, as several state that use of page can be for personal use only meaning no direct selling.

Did you know ? that Expedia have a Myspace page – in which they invite customers to share their travel experiences with the opportunity to win a holiday. Travelocity & Priceline also have MySpace pages. I wonder which page has the most friends……

If your social network site / page has a non commercial focus, make sure on launch you invite your readers/visitors to let you know what they would like to see on the group, whether an application (Facebook) would be useful and whether they have any ideas. Get the community involved, create a dialogue and build a relationship. Never sell directly, but do engage and build trust.

Spread the love

Best practice to spread links in the social marketing arena is to create compelling copy that people would want to share and discuss. Consider the potential of creating a simple way for your readers who have other Web sites to easily syndicate your content on their own pages.
Also if creating your own social network remember that constant innovation/something different is key to capture and keep your target.

Developing a social media plan

*Learn what people are looking for online and give it to them.

*Understand about the different target markets in social networks, ie; how does Facebook differ from Myspace & Bebo.

*Identify who are the major social influencers in social media in your industry.

*Consider creating an index, feedreader to track what they are saying. Utilise Google Alerts.

*Consider that these influencers are additional targets to reach.

*Develop a plan should you fail to deliver and people comment on poor service /product. Make sure all acknowledgements are dealt with promptly & honestly.

*Consider creating an internal blog for your employees, they can share tips and ideas on how to grow the site and consumer base.

Challenges in measuring the success of a social media campaign

*Instead of tracking page views, engagement has become the new buzz word in social marketing ROI tracking.

*Review whether visitors arrived from a social network? Which network?

*Review whether there been an influx of visitors 3 months after posting RSS news story on company.

*Review any interaction with marketing messages on and off the site?