Sunday, 14 September 2008

Organic and PPC: selling tool

Four steps to sale

Qualification stage: Keyword
Selling phase 1: Adword ad / Organic ad
Selling phase 2: Landing page

Very simply organic and paid search ads are just another way of selling a product. They are small text, sometimes image ads which are clicked on by a qualified visitor. By qualified the potential customer has gained their qualification as they typed in a key-phrase in the search engine which relates to your product or service group. The adwords or organic text ad, is part of selling phrase 1 – on click / arrival to you site, it is time to get their interest by providing the customer with all the information they need.

If I was buying a shirt offline, checked out the spec; it fits, I would want to know if it was available in other colours too, same as if I was online. Other things online are of interest to me ie: I may need to find out about delivery details, as I need the shirt tomorrow, I could consider the sale as being a great deal and look for a ‘recommend a friend to this site’ offer. I then make the purchase and on leaving the checkout I was made aware what else was available after I left the checkout. I have re-qualified, next time I enter could be via the site name; thus I will be taken to special offers appearing on home page straight away. This is why the home page should appear on search for company name.

When picking up potential customers at the qualification stage, prominence should be given to the longer key-phrases, rather than single keyword, as these potentials are more likely to convert. Bear this point in mind when setting up PPC campaigns and Organic strategies.

What potential customers look out for in Selling phase 2.

Selling point 1 should be confirmed
Can they clearly find product or service looking for?
What other info could they need – can they find it?
If ready to buy are you providing them with a clear call to action?
Also consider who they are new v existing customersReview the image what is this portraying to above audience – does it match ad in selling phase 1.

Web Analytics for you

Help with Web Analytics

We can help you verify, analyse and interpret your web site data in line with your business goals.
At the first stage, we will help you define who your customers are, reviewing what they are searching for; what's important to them (voice of customers online community). This process helps us work with you to idenfity your key areas for growth, which will help set your overall goals and a clearer understanding on how to deliver to your online customer base.

Analytic implementation

Correct implementation of your web analytics will help you answer critical business questions of your websites effectiveness and highlight to you how your website is interacting with your customers.

Hint: The structure of the website should be driven by both the company and the customers.

Establishing a successful Web Analytics Framework

Clever use of your web analytics can help you and your company release the insight from the numbers. It will assist with future site design, architecture and indicate clear product / service drivers which will lead to development of a more profitable company site.

Analytics makes your site changes more meaningful and in line with customer habits.

Where to start

Pretty simply, start by defining your business goals and the goals for your website. Should you have separate product-managers speak to them, as each product-group will potentially have different targets / outcome & audience groups. Working with the project managers or solely, it is important to make sure you document and prioritise your goals and that the metrics being focused on can be actionable.

For example if you find an issue in your shopping cart, make sure you have the necessary back up / help to correct this.

Make use of the features in your web analytics package to assist you in reporting. For example; custom reporting and tracking via the use of tags on and off site.Consider how the analytics package can report on both high and medium level goals.

This may involve you setting up separate profiles in your analytics utilising use of filters –ie: you may just want to track success of organic traffic to the site.

Time to Analyse

The general rule is that you should spend 80% of your time on analysis and only 20% on reporting. Hint; make sure you keep a project list of all developments on your site ie: new banner, new page, new tracking – this will help clearly identify results.

Some areas of particular interest to me in analytics is reviewing the paths visitors took around the site, reviewing how they reached the product page and what creative on or off the site led to a purchase.

If you find that a high % are visiting a particular product page and leaving straight away, then, this may be due to your pricing strategy or they could have arrived by accident (see you organic keyword report).

A complete review will allow you to decipher:

1. How you can make your site better (navigation)
2. What customers particular like (engagement, page views, time in category)
3. How you can use the information to devise retention strategies
4. Whether you can make improvements to your calls to action
5. Look at particular market segments coming to your website, think about how the site
can be optimised for that segment. (ie: Review site traffic, build 'compare us' table)
6. etc, etc, etc – read Web Analytics an hour a day by Avinash Kaushik

Room to improve?

Remember analysis may not always indicate room for improvement, at these stages you could test things on the site to see if performance can be enhanced. This may mean moving a call to action button, or change creative (A/B testing), test different copy, give more prominence to certain benefits.

Hint; If there is a problem and you just can’t seem to fix it, speak to a usability company who can lead insight into the cause of the problem the web analytics has defined.

Analysis Paralysis

Don’t get carried away with the review, always consider how what you are finding will effect your overall business goals. If what you are reviewing is not related to overall business gain, then exclude this data. You don’t want to fall victim to a condition known as “analysis paralysis”.

Keep things focused

Develop scorecards of key business metrics, indicating where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. These are also helpful when sharing the information with other members in your company. Ongoing review is critical, to obtain a clearer insight into the need and behaviour of your online customers and will help you identify business opportunities as your customers needs evolve.

Four step process

1. Outline your business metrics
2. Set up your reports in relation to business metrics
3. Analyse
4. Optimise the site / take action

WikiPedia thoughts

Why WikiPedia

Did you know that WikiPedia add “nofollow” on all external links, so that no link gain passes from Wikipedia to an external site. This policy does change the motivation of spammers and SEO professionals to add information to the site, which is a good thing in my opinion.

However just because you can’t get link quality score from WikiPedia, shouldn’t mean that it should be forgot about: as there is still traffic to be gained from having a Wikipedia entry.

The Wikipedia Ethos

The ethos of Wikipedia is that anyone can add and edit anything quickly and easily: however they do have a stringent and high level amount of quality and accuracy checks. It is against Wikipedia external linking policy to add links to sites you own, maintain or represent, so it’s best to add a WikiPedia account that can’t be connected to you. Seems like a dodgy tactic, but it’s true, and based on experience !!

What’s good about having an entry

Having an article mentioned or company entry on WikiPedia can only indicate one thing credibility. Also if you are a new start up, having an entry here could provide the impression that your organisation is bigger than it actually is (more legitimate). In a way having an entry on Wikipedia could be classed as being reputation management, its better to be there than not be there.

A few Wikipedia Tips

Because external links are so hard to add consider adding reference links.

If you do have problems adding an entry – make sure you contact the person who disapproved it, to find out what you could have done differently. If you are not getting anywhere fast, move on.

Make sure you meet the “notability test” and have added a reference to back your entry up, these could be online press releases. Check out Wiki-news, see if anything has been written in there.

Make use of categories, you can place the entry in more than one category via the use of category tags.

Contribute-yourself, to other WikiPedia posts– and build up age history in WikiPedia.

And if all the above fails, become BFF (best friends forever) with a Wikipedian (Editor on WikiPedia).

Good Luck

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Benefits and Pitfalls of Adsense

If you are a niche site and you are yet to start generating revenue, Google Ad-sense would be a good move initially. Later date could look at sponsorship directly with advertisers.

How Adsense works:

Google use their sophisticated algorithm to determine the content and context of your web pages, they then match Google ads to each page.

Before they send out their robot with its algorithm rule book, Google will firstly look at your URL to determine which ads to display, if the site has yet been cached.

There is help to specify what adwords ads you don’t want to appear, just in-case it displays something which doesn’t suit ie: if local food directory focus on organic food – and ad for “Pizza takeaway local delivery” or one of the sites competitor would be unprofitable choice.


Easy to set up, inexpensive and accessible – good for short term cash flow

Useful to identify other related sites – ones to contact in the future – possible collaboration to help each other increase traffic to your sites – help identify new
Marketing routes in future months.

Google does offer a higher % of payment to the website owner than other similar sites, the mode of payment is via EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) directly into your bank account


Could appear that you need extra income, harm credibility with viewers

No guarantees that ads will result in income

White space isn’t always a disadvantage – see the white space which surrounds this page:

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Analytics installed what next?

My friend has just set up a small site, selling high end goods, asked me: "OK I have Google Analytics installed, what's next?".

I recommeded the book Web Analytics an hour a day by Avinash Kaushik.

While they wait for that to arrive, as a starter for 10 here are some key questions I proposed.

Along with what they should be recording to help plan for the future months and measure the success of their site and their on and offline Marketing efforts. Define and measure are key.

Key questions to ask of your Analytic Package

1. Firstly start to discover how people are using your site, where do they go (may need custom reports, filters set up), review words they use in search to find you, do they all relate to your offerings? Note the key entry points, can you fine tune online material to assist conversions, possible communication opportunities. Reviewing your popular exit pages, could these indicate that the shopper is comparison shopper and can see better offer elsewhere ie: Paid Search ad - review your competition on product pages where exits are quick and often.

2. Find out what volume of site traffic was unique, what was the source of this traffic, and on a individual source basis what is producing the most conversions or quality leads?

3. Import to keep track of your new and returning customers, should you enter a new content area and from launch of that find people keep coming back for more, do more of that.

4. Are you tracking every type of conversion, call us, sign up to a newsletter, what value do you give to those leads?

5. What are the current blockages in your customers online recruitment experience, reviewing conversion funnels, where do the customers get distracted or where are they engaged/staying longer?

6. Are customers buying what they searched for, or is the site leading to other purchases, can a colleration be seen between products purchased.

7. You have a sister site, consider how you can leverage off this?

8. What online creatives do the customers like, what offers lead to conversion?

9. What is the ratio between your PPC traffic and Organic traffic how can this be changed for improved ROI ?

10. Have a look at the Geographic report, any suprises there? anything you can do E-Marketing wise to increase reach to specific country or region ? Could understanding customer demographics assist in any way to fine tune creatives.

Writing Commentary Analytics

1. Executive Summary

Include your overall thoughts on performance based on insights in Analytics.

Inc: Key insights on the customer propositions

Section1: Visits here increased by X due to...
Section2: ""
Location1: Increase to visitors from France this month due to
Location 2: ""

2. Key Performance Indicators

New v Returning customers:
Visit to Sale/Lead ratio:
Target Ratio:

3. ROI

Marketing spend: Total spend per customer:Average spend per customer:

4 - 10 Overview of leading figures and ROI.

4. Website performance
5. Customer Journies
6. E-channel performance - on and offsite creative
7. Multi channel behaviour
8. Feedback on new creative
9. Feedback from shops / offices / branches as appropriate - top sellers or site content
10. Cross Sales (off plan/on plan)

Finally remember the 80/20 rule - 80% analytics/understanding - 20% reporting

Search Engine Approx Submission Lengths as at Aug 08

When designing Titles and Meta Descriptions for Search engines, note the recommended averages on title and description length below:


Title: 65 characters with spaces
Description: 160 characters with spaces.


Title: 70 characters with spaces
Description: 160 characters with spaces


Title: 70 characters with spaces
Description: 180 characters with spaces

Averages - recommended

Title: 60 – 70
Description: 155 - 180

Monday, 4 August 2008

Making sure tracking is Robust

I love the word Robust, remembering back to when I was at School we were tasked on Enterprise week with a Marketing project to name, design, package a new AfterShave, my group called our AfterShave "Robust". It seemed to sum up men at that time, who knows what the word would be now !!

It is important to make sure that your Web Analytics package is 'strong', to add weight to what you will be presenting at the top table. The below is something relatively simple, but often a formula that is overlooked, sharing with you now.

When comparing one months data to the previous months data for volume figures such as volume of traffic, conversion rates - make sure that you work out the percentage increase or decrease by taking into account the days of the month.

The below outlines the forumula to use, and is based on visitor figures:

Step/Column 1:
Current month visitor figure 'divided by' days in current month (July)

Step/ Column 2:
Previous month visitor figures 'divided by' days in previous month (June)

Step 3/ Column 3:
Working out % change adjusted for days in the month
Current month 'take away' Previous month then divide by Previous month

Answer: Despite indications that visitor numbers have increased there is a % descrease in July in visitors to the site of around 0.32%.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Online biggest driver of brand engagement for Retail brands

Newsflash: Retail

A recent study from IAB has identified that online ad spend delivers the biggest impact for retail brands within the media mix. Online was seen to drive 40% of brand engagement, whereas Press received 31% and TV 19%.

Another interesting statistic was that the retail brands surveyed spend 2.5% of their marketing budget online, seems pretty low considering these statistics.

See further details on the brand engagement study from the IAB here:

Brand engagement measurements for the store brands reviewed are listed below, the results indicate that store reputation and whether they could associate themselves with the retail brand (Affinity) provided the highest %.

If it is affinity they want (only women surveyed) then it is my opinion that online is place to give it to them, with opportunity to segment, talk in their voice, get them chatting to you (Blogs, Facebook Fan pages etc etc).

I am confident that we will see the brand engagement level for online rise this year, as more retailers turn to the web for their online promotions.

It was only yesterday that I found myself completing an online competition for Primark to win a £200 shopping spree (times are hard!).

Interesting brand engagement measurements and results from the New IAB study on retail brands:

Affinity (24.3%) - whether the store has a good reputation, and is for 'people like me'

Quality (19.3%) - that the store sells well known, high quality brands ·

Fitting one's needs (16.5%) - relating to store convenience, and whether it suits a consumer's particular tastes ·

Presence (14.7%) - a readily available, traditional store, with a national high street presence

With recession looming and purse strings tightening, businesses may want to cut back on marketing spend and for retail sites, this study indicates that online is the way to go especially as you have the ability for tighter targeting and of course have the ability to truly measure the ROI of your marketing efforts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

All about Affiliate Marketing


The below provides an introduction to Affiliate Marketing, outlining the key considerations when setting up an Affiliate Marketing campaign. I wrote it a while back, but all still relates.

What is Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a practice where other sites advertise your products or brand. These are called “affiliates” and in effect can be classed as an ‘online sales force’, a secret army to increase your conversions. Should a user then click through to your site from an affiliate site and make a purchase you pay the affiliate a commission on that purchase. Commissions vary from sector to sector, but I would expect to start at 2% to 5%.

Management, tracking and payment to affiliates can be handled direct with the affiliates but it is best practice for management to take place through an independent 3rd party; an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks handle all of the day to day tasks involved with operating an affiliate program. Along with you they make sure the ‘online sales force’ are happy.

They usually operate on a tiered management system, where you decide the level of involvement you require, from “basic” where they host your product information feed, pay the affiliates, provide an online management control centre, and then leave you more or less to it, to a managed account where they also provide an account manager who will dedicate time each month to optimising your program, acquiring high quality affiliates for you, Basically, actively promote your program.

There are a number of Affiliates networks out there each with a varying number of Affiliate clients. They all perform a similar function to a greater or lesser degree. They are generally judged or measured by the number of affiliates they have, the commission level they charge, and the service they provide to you.

Set up Costs:

Networks usually require a one off setup fee – usually £1,000 to £2,000.

Operating Costs:

Commission - Starts at around 5% - this is what is paid to the affiliate site and is percentage of the sale value.

Override fee - This is paid to the affiliate network – usually 30% of the commission paid to the affiliates.

Management – Depends on level of service required and network, but for a reasonable network £220 per month for basic package and £500 for managed.

Affiliate programs take time to become established but in the long term can be a highly cost effective method of customer acquisition.

Affiliate Marketing campaign goals

Consider the purpose/aim of your affiliate campaign:

• Bring new customers to the site• Deliver incremental business• Compliment existing advertising for brand recognition.• Build relations with your secret sales force

Choose approach

• Incremental sales and brand awareness – campaign structureUse Affiliate marketing to fit in with current campaigns, offers, top sellers. Maximise HALO effect of other marketing media

• Steady sales – flat structureProvides consistent volume of traffic from the affiliates based on small number of ads. Disadvantage of this is that Affiliates can become complacent and tiered commission level remains the same even if products become uncompetitive.

Compliment existing advertising

When using Affiliate marketing to integrate with other online activity and when looking for incremental sales, consideration needs to be given to the below:

• % AD spend: Fixed budget versus unlimited
• Channel conflict: Agency PPC vs Affiliate PPC
• Brand Management: Volume v Control
• Measuring effectiveness: Cost per acquisition and Return on Investment

Monthly reporting can include

• Success of creative and changes required, creative held on central hub
• Sales funnel analysis
• Review quality of customers by each affiliate
• Long term profitability by individual affiliates
• Maintain creative consistency across all affiliate sites
• 30 – 90 day review of affiliate sites.
• All the above working to a 90 day plan from launch – and into the future, be ready to surprise your Affiliates with some great offers.

Another tip

Set up a twitter account to shout about your promotions to your affiliates. Make your Affiliate link shorter using

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Web Analytics – It’s simple really !

I learnt something new today when reviewing my analytics report. Not sure why the thought hadn't come to me previously, I will call it Analytic Evolution. Blogging about my experience to help me understand it further.

I noticed that my own domain was appearing in the ‘top referring sites’ and ‘top referring page’ in my Analytics reports.

Firstly considered what a referrer is:

“It is a site/page that refers a visitor to my site by linking to it”

Secondly looked for answers as to whether this is normal, good news it is. Great... but why is it good ? mainly becuase I understand the reasons, these are listed below:

The reason why my domain was appearing as a referrer can be due to a number of reasons, outlined some key findings below:

1. A user of your site may browse then leave to put the kettle on make a bit of lunch, leaving the browser open. On return they start to browse again and since the user session has timed out, the referrer to the site will be the page they were on before they left.

2. Could occur if IP switching occurs, which basically means the users IP address changes when browsing your website. As a new IP appears then the Analytics will treat this as a separate user and thus the referrer will be the previous page (of your site). However this only happens if tracking definition is set to use IP/User Agent.

Also would like to blog that I found out that ‘No referrers’ often appear in the analytics, typically due to the below reasons:

1. User accesses site directly
2. Site could be made home page by the user
3. User may access via a bookmark or favourite
4. Or they access via an email link
5. The event that started the visitor session was a hit to
something other than a page, such as an image.
6. User came to your Web site by way of a java-script-based
Redirect ie: a pop up.

Also some duplicate URLs, (same page different URL dependent on function on site) were appearing in my report, so off now to use a tool called URL search and replace to tidy up the log files.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Integrated Marketing Communications

I have always been a fan of integrated marketing and the joined up approach, and have seen as a marketer and customer the benefits of a joined up consistent message.

It is all about delivery of a cohesive message across all sales and marketing media, rather than them operating on there own. Having this consistent message enables the marketing campaigns to work harder towards a common set of measurable results.

It is surprising through that many industry leaders are not following this practice. I have just Googled a few companies who have an obvious strapline – finding out that these straplines are not presented to me in paid or natural search ads, sometimes the message isn’t even present on the main website home page. Strange !

I just Googled Halifax – they have another repetitive ad on the TV at the moment all using their common term “Extra”.

Good news is that they are following the practice as shown in search in their natural and paid search ad – both of which mention – “extra”. Great. See below:

Halifax Online Banking - UK Banks, Finance, Personal, Telephone ...Halifax Online Bank UK - Our online banking service always giving you extra with your finance and money - mortgages, savings, current accounts, credit cards ...

Unfortunate news is that the strap line isn’t doing them much favours, with people in forums and review sites using the “Who gives you extra” term – as a way to highlight what they believe to be their limitations. Should Halifax read this then suggest that they should put the story straight on these forums, it can only build trust in the long term with the current or ex customer and potential prospects finding your response.

The negative feedback on these review sites is a good example of why you should give consideration to your multi channel behaviour of your customers. For example, it is estimated that a finance customer will touch 14 sites before committing to registering with a new finance product, it is also likely that they will visit the comparison and review sites for advice before this commitment (especially with Credit cards).

Putting a positive spin is that the ads that Halifax produced, have gone Viral, with Howard (from the ads) receiving his own fan base. However how many You Tube video pass ons will lead to a new customer is limited. You Tube.

Another good example of integrated message is:

Car insurance and home insurance - Sheilas' WheelsSheilas' Wheels - Cheaper car insurance and home insurance online for women.

On arriving a their site – the heavily advertised on TV “Car insurance for women” product, is more prominent than what they also offer (home insurance) – even the Get Quote sign is bigger. They have given consideration to their brand name and that most people will arrive looking for the ‘car insurance’. Also as they have stuck to the name and not advertised “we have the best deals ever” they have (maybe without thought) stopped the possible critique in forums.

I came across quite a good process for measuring and thinking about customer behaviour in a multi channel environment from the book Web Analytics and hour a day by Avinash Kaushik, 2007. The diagram which can be also found in a section called non line here: It’s a flash site ! So quite contradictory as this section 'non line' which I wanted to find, will not appear in search, spiders have trouble reading flash.

Below paragraph explains the diagram quite clearly taken from Avinash’s book as quoted above:

“The diagram provides a simple representation of customer behaviour on two different channels. The physical acts are different but it is essentially the same process of moving from research to selection to qualification to purchase”.

The diagram highlights how customers move at their own pace across on and offline mediums before making their decision. The process can work for both services and products, it is one that I will be revisiting again, when highlighting the importance of the intergrated message, so thanks to David Hughes of Non Line Markeing for producing and apologies for the ‘quite contradictory’ point, but it is true.

As I find good examples of the integrated message, will revisit and post them here.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The importance of product descriptions

“Product descriptions are very important on retail sites” Sarah G July 20th 08

Wouldn’t it be great, if you could web cam in one of your in-store sales representatives and place them right inside you website. There are developments for this – Woopra – however it is slightly scary for someone to pop up and say “Hi, have you chosen yet” – but as we get more involved with the interactive internet – sure this could be a possibility. Find out more about real time features here.

Before we move onto Web 4.0 and lets assume that the sales rep is currently on leave from the site.

Here are my thoughts on optimising product descriptions using an example of a fashion site.

Something that many fashion and retail websites currently lack is the persuasive sales representatives together with the tangibility of “feeling the garmet” to help the customer make their decision. (Think about how M&S describe their food, "these are not just fish fingers, these are M&S fish fingers, made with the finest cod, crumbled breadcrumbs etc etc).

Giving attention to your product descriptions can help let the potential customer know that they must have “this” designer piece, how glorious it is, the fit, the style, the feel, the experience of wearing it and buying it.

Another important thing about product descriptions, is that you can use them to include the key terms that a potential customer may use when searching for the product.

So by optimising your product descriptions, you can not only benefit your search engine rankings for key phrases relating to your brand, but you could also potentially increase your sales too.

An eloquent description talking in the brands natural voice should offer the customer confidence and amusement when browsing through the selections.

What information should you write:

Consider this example: Shopping for Vivienne Westwood Dress

One site says: “Vivienne Westwood Sweety Dress”

Another says:

“This stunning dress, encompasses everything this British designer set out to accomplish. The corset style front with the drawstring bust gives the edge to the dress through fantastic tailoring, making this a Vivienne Westwood classic. The clean lines and shape give a timeless look and appeal to be in everyone’s designer ladies wardrobe. Team this with the Vivienne Westwood XY bag to create a style which says “I have arrived”

Even better would be to have a link to more information: ie: “History of Vivienne Westwood Fashion” “New collections from Vivienne Westwood designer clothing range”

It is clear that the second example will have more appeal to the style hungry shopper, and helps persuade consumer to buy (everyone wants a classic!). Remember that unlike shops (the bricks and mortor) online you do not have the support from your sales representatives, thus your product description will become your most valued friend.

Few more points

You can also add some key points to your description:

Key points
1: 96% Cotton
2: 4% lyocell
3. Contrast Fabric 100% cotton.

Other points could mention, other product:
1: Logo on front lower left side
2: Double Collar
3: Three button round collar shirt
4: Reversible shirt (Yes Reversible)

Some people do have problems writing the product descriptions, finding it hard to expand further on “it’s a pair of jeans” however it is likely that the people in store are experts in the designer clothing field, so use them, how they talk about products in the shop can echo online.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Social Web is here or should I say is working !

If you can just search what your friends think and prioritize this over every other social network online, then I am predicting that Friend Feed could become a very powerful recommendation engine.

I am strangely attracted to this new search engine/social network "Friend Feed", it is all about “easily searching content created by people you trust”. Could this be the new search engine of the future, going to find sites that your friends are making recommendations on?

It certainly could be powerful, if advertised right. (See link below from Venture Beat).

Great feature is that you can create your own room to discuss, comment on sites or news stories that your friends have found note worthy. Personally would find this useful.

I really love it, however not sure how many people I know will sign up right now, maybe with a few more years on Facebook, or maybe a year, they will then move over to friend feed – when become aware of ads interrupting their social browsing.

First things first, I have my preferred log in name, so will revisit in the future. Find me and my currently limited online connections here:

Interesting times…..

For more information on the recent use and future uses of Friend Feed see the article here from Venture Beat titled FriendFeed imports more usefulness into rooms

For more information on the future of the social web from Joe Kraus, Google’s director of product management see here: he was quoted as saying “Social is the new black”, so wish I had said that first… oh wait I can, off to Twitter it now.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Managing redirects notes & links

Managing Redirects

When designing landing pages with new unique marketing URLS, alerts need to set up a redirect to the correct page. If the site is indexed by search engines, the traffic needs to redirect seamlessly and correctly to avoid any problems with crawling and indexing.

The way to achieve the above is to implement a permanent re-direction (HTTP status code 301) to the pages which need to be moved.

Important to remember that 301 redirects – are server side redirects which are generally set up in the .htaccess file (Apache server) or in the control panel (IIS server).

Process being to use either the PermanentRedirect or mod-rewrite to redirect the page.

If on a Linus or Unix – system then placing redirects into a .htaccess file will be the best and easiest way.

The.htaccess file is just a text file which can be created in with a plain text editor (ie: Notepad). When uploaded to the root level of the website with the main index page, it will work alongside the server and handle everything.

It can even redirect from htm to asp – see below:

Redirect 301 /old-file-name.htm

Important to note that meta refresh or javascript redirects are not best practice when it comes to SEO – to find out more I recommend the below links:
Useful links for more information

IIS Redirects – 301 & 302

Apache Domain Redirects for SEO

301 Parking and Other Redirects for SEO

Draw backs and options

Setting up the redirects does mean that for every incorrect URL request, you will in turn be asking the browser to go and fetch a new URL (in effect 2 requests). However it is enabling you to not show to the search engines 2 URLs of the same content, which is bad practice.

Another option with regards to marketing landing pages, is that if all landing pages are set up in a separate directory - you can inform spiders not to index the pages, by disallowing that area for all spiders in the robots.txt file.

Setting up an internal 302 redirect will cause the original URL to be indexed, but the content found will be that of the destination URL – not the previous URL.

Duplicate content revisited

Redirects are also used to help solve duplicate content issues. It is important to make sure that 1 page can’t be reached by more than 1 URL. You can sometimes see sites with more than one URL for the same content example being:

Such as:


Should people (bookmarks) sites (Href) link into these pages then by having 3 separate URLS will mean that you will fail to maximise on all your incoming links.

The number of incoming links is very important for SEO – and if you fail to get control on how people could link to your site – then you are immediately reducing ability to appear higher in the natural search results.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Multiple Domains there not big or clever !

I had a query recently from a friend – who was hosting 2/3/4 domains of the same content. They had noted that Google was now mainly indexing one URL and not the other. They had also seen shifts in the search results, this is my advice….site names have been deleted to protect the innocent! And it was an innocent mistake.

Although written on here about Duplicate content penalties before, thought to share my comments here (in a different tone) and could be useful for others to refer to in the future – as the duplicate content issue will never change on Search Engines.


Firstly I see your site is built in asp now this was designed and released before SEO became the talk of the town. However it is performing well for some key terms, well done on that, and it certainly does the job at converting visitors with great help areas and calls to action.

Should you be building the site right now, the first bit of advice I would give you to plan early for SEO, considering how your sites architecture is going to be laid out. Building relevant link paths of relevant content – good thing about the fact it is a “Holiday site” is that you can dig down deeper from UK to South East to Berkshire to Reading to Reading East. You could look at adding content as appropriate ie: events in area, places to see, restaurants etc – lots of lovely content for spiders and most importantly the site visitors. Your site has a community feel too, you could build on that, get others to send you the information (information on this blog on building communities).

Hopeful that you will already be using Google Webmaster tools to help you with SEO really useful, especially the ranking information plus suggestions on how to improve your site for indexing.

If you are not using it, start today. With digesting & implementing data from Google, the comments below and keeping your current internal linking, headers and content, will put you on the right path.

First step

Before beginning to develop new key word rich content (density of around 3% for 250 words) and implementing tools as required. You need to tackle a pretty big issue of duplicate content.

Firstly I am unsure why you thought parking more than one domain was a good idea ! If you think it would increase your presence in search engine result pages, you would be mistaken.

To be even more blunt this is Pretty Old School !

By having more than one website – showing the same content on multiple domains you are taking away the uniqueness & richness of your content – Google want to supply searches with unique and relevant data. Check out the Google Rules in Webmaster help, it tells you clearly there that duplicate content is a no go.

Several site owners actually use, to check if people are using their content – which can some times happen and decrease their relevance quality in Google.

Google only want to present one website, not a big list of similar websites.

It makes sense

Imagine what a dull place a search engine would be if that happened all the time, ie: presented you with the same site, over and over again. After while (the big G) will work out which one/site it prefers – there are lots of algos (rules) to determine this, however the main one would probably be links into the site from external sources. Another option is to think you are up to something dodgy and ban you (it does happen!).

It is likely that the site that remains has more external links (links in) than the other site – it could be bookmarked by more people.

As this site does mirror another site, your quality score of relevance is diluted this is why you are seeing a shift in search results as Google struggle to make up its mind.

You are making the spiders job difficult. Don’t.

Another thing is that the spider won’t come back as often if you make its life difficult, think customer service, give it what it wants and it will come back. (as mentioned earlier see Webmaster help).

Second step

I do hope that you don’t have a link from one site (of same content) to another as if Google doesn’t see it, a competitor may, and they can very easily submit a spam report across the 3 major search engines. Outcome being as above, you will be banned from search results.

In effect by having multiple sites you are cheating the system as you are putting out more relevant words…… Google is highly focused, clever, and getting clevererererer so beware.

Third step

Query: Is it 3 domains you are supporting or more ?

Most people don’t realise that the below URLS are not the same:

Search engines would view these as 4 different sites – and this isn’t even counting your other domains. (However note - if your site has history, Google does work out in the end that is the same as - takes about a year).

So if you create content which the search engines can get to with or without the www you are decreasing your uniqueness and duplicating the content.

On a positive – it is pretty easy to resolve your issue of having a number of domains with same content.

Finally: Sorting it all out

Lucky for you, your IIS server does have a built in ability to sort this out.

You will need to create a permanent redirect in IIS. In the Virtual Directory – it will say when connecting to this resource content should come from - …Tick ‘A redirection to a URL’ – and then place in Redirect to: Make sure you also tick ‘ Permanent redirection’. So when requests are put in for your other domains – the server will issue a Permanent redirect.

You will want to check who is linking to you too, you could request for some sites which have wrong link, to change it to the correct one.

You can but ask !

It will be OK not to change the URLS though, the only downfall is that your server will have to work a bit harder as it is having pull 2 pages (the first one and the correct one).

With regards to links, IMO the best place to check links is Yahoo Site Explorer UK, rather than Google (using inlinks:) obtain the little snippet of code in Site Explorer and keep check of those links in – and keep building them (good links, not link farms, and don’t submit to more than 25 link directories a day – Google have eyes and see this too). I have spent quite a while sourcing those good directories, think about 3 yrs in total.

With regards to which URL you should pick, first thought, which has the most external links pointing to it and also consider the name.

Note although Google doesn’t have URL name/wording in their algos/rules – (some people think they do, as appear highlighted in search results, this is just conditional formatting) – a positive about having two main keywords in your URL is useful in link building exercises – as Spiders do read the link text. Positive move for you was using a hypen, between two keywords relating to your brand, reason being is Google read underscores as continuation of a word (due to historical codey stuff) – hypens separate the word.

More information on SEOing your site for visitors and search engines on the blog.


Friday, 9 May 2008

Linking historic Google Analytics with new Adwords

Recently found out that - if you didn’t link you Analytics account to an Adwords Account with you signed up for Google Analytics you can still do it.

It is best practice to:Sign up for Adwords account under same name as Analytics account

If you didn’t then go to your Analytics account and add your Adwords account as a user with admin privileges. Then you go to your Adwords account and add your Analytics account as a user with admin privilages.

Once above is complete

Click the Analytics tab which is situated across top of your Adwords account portal
In the page that follows click the box that says I already have an Analytics account

You will then be presented with a drop down which lists the accessible accounts

Defaults will appear ticked to have auto tagging on and to apply cost data from Adwords to your Analytics account. Decision as to whether you want to use auto tagging will depend on whether you currently tag your own data. Keep ticked cost data which is the whole reason why you would want to link the two anyway. Next step is to click: Link Account and that’s it.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Google Sitemaps - The Benefits & How to set up

What are XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are the best format to use to record and montior pages on your site, benefits include:

* Supported by Google, Yahoo & MSN see:

* Up-gradable (can add extra info at later dates)

* Can separate website blogs into separate site maps or jumble together

* Where have more than one domain, make it possible to tell the search engine the preferred URL.

* Search Engines will use the sitemaps to enhance their crawl and discovery process, it does not however guarantee that those pages/URLs will get indexed.

* See:

NB: There is a limit of 50K pages, although nested sitemaps can be submitted to get around this.

Why Submit

Submitting a Google sitemap – lets Google know about the URLS on your site.

It is also helpful tool to make sure that some of your pages are not easily discovered by the spiders for example, pages that are only accessible via a form.

From a web design perspective Google sitemaps can identify potential crawling problems, broken links, robots.txt or crawling problems arising from the CMS.

From SEO perspective Google sitemaps also give indication on the top performing phrases by country and identify trends. This information is available elsewhere however useful to have link information and keywords in one place.

Reason to set up

Along with providing information to Search Engines, so that they can better understand the site, making sure they know about the URLS.

Another reason for setting up a sitemap in Google (Webmaster tools) is that you can capture statistics such as how many of your URLS are indexed.

Which is really useful on launch of a new site, new category/section.

No guarantees

Google do not guarantee that having a site map will increase your rankings, however it does increase your chances of getting crawled, as using site maps we can let them know about new URLS, and help them prioritize them, ie: know where to start the crawl.

Having a Google site map can however lead to increased visibility in the search engine result pages.

Understanding about setting priorities in the sitemap

Google state: "priority only indicates the importance of a particular URL relative to other URLs on your site, and doesn't impact the ranking of your pages in search results."

Adding priority 1 or another level to all of our pages, does not mean that they will rank any higher or be crawled faster than another site who has all their pages set at priority 0.7 for example.

Also by only indicating that all of your pages have the same priority is the same as not providing any priority information at all.

The default priority is 0.5 and many web masters make the decision to leave it on the default. See evidence at the Sitemap help forum.

Google mention ‘relative to other URLs’, so should priorities be set then
it may provide them with indication on how to crawl your site, ie: start at home / about us, then dig deeper into categories, subcategories and products.

In effect the priority order can only provide hints to Google about the importance of the pages. There is also an area to state how often page is updated, similar to the Robots revisit rule, which is known not to have an impact. Due to this I see no pressing need to update this area. Spiders will revisit regardless of updates.

It is however believed that by giving hints on updates, will be of benefit when a new section of site, or new site is launched.

Adding meta data to Sitemap

If all the meta data is 100% the same, then there is no pressing need to include the tag in the sitemap.

The reason for the meta data is to Google can distinguish the difference between each URL.

Where should a sitemap be placed

With sitemap cross submission, you can place it just about anywhere as long as the sites are verified in your Webmaster Tools account.:
Steps in Setting up Sitemaps – from Dave Chaffey – E-Marketing Guru

1. Go to personal Sitemaps page at Google Webmaster Tools requires Gmail login.

2. Create Sitemap format in correct format: See

It is limited to 50K URLs, but for larger sites you can create a sitemap index file that references more than one sitemap file.

1. Verify site - there are two methods - see I don't see any particular merit in either approach - use that which is most convenient, but remember the security implications of publishing your sitemaps.

2. To create site maps you could use the Google sitemap Generator or hidden on the site are these third party tools

I have personally found the free downloadable tool which crawls a site automatically on this list best for creating mine:,

Remember that Yahoo! have now launched an equivalent in Yahoo! Site Explorer

More answers can be found at: Sitemaps Help Group

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Google Analytics

Understanding Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to identify, measure and compare the performance of search engines, campaigns and mediums. It allows you to determine how profitable your keywords are across different search engines and to review performance of your online campaigns.

Online campaigns may include: email newsletter, affiliate network campaigns, referral sites, as well as paid for keywords and those found in natural search. Suprisingly Google Analytics will also let you track conversions from third party sites including Yahoo Stores and Ebay (see the Google Adwords conversion tracking guide).

Along with measuring the performance of your customers online journey, you can also identify where your best online customers come from and which target audiences are the most profitable.

Value of conversions

If you understand what value a conversion is to your business, and the percentage of pay per click customers who do convert (conversion ratio) this makes it easy to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for your Google Adwords campaigns.

For a positive ROI you are looking at the following equation:

Conversion amount * Conversion Ratio > than Average CPC

£10 * 3% = 0.30

If average CPC is 0.20 then this is a positive CPC.

Implementing Google Conversion tracking

Google supply a special tracking code that can be added to the result pages on your site.

To enable Conversion Tracking for your website, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google AdWords account.
  2. Click the link that says Conversion Tracking
  3. On the page that follows, click the button that says Start Tracking Conversions.
  4. Once Conversion Tracking is setup, you have to get the code to insert into your site.

How it works in Adwords

When a potential customer clicks on one of your Adwords ads, Google then places a cookie on their computer to track there customer journey.

When this potential customer arrives at a conversion page decided by you (ie: order confirmation) then a conversion is recorded and reported within Adwords.

As part of the tracking: Google notifies users that they are being tracked, this notification is supplied by the Google code you enter at the results page. The tracked user then sees a message titled Google Site Stats with a “send feedback” link when the results page is opened. This allows users to find out more about Google’s Privacy Policy. At this stage users can reject the Google tracking cookie if they wish (meaning you loose that conversion data).

Cross channel conversion tracking

As well as measuring success from Google, the cross channel conversion tracking feature within Analytics allows you to see conversion traffic coming into your web properties from other advertising networks ie: Yahoo, MSN.

As well as tracking conversion to campaigns & keywords you can also get loyalty and engagement metrics. You can also determine which pages, categories on your website where you are loosing the most of your online customers – this feature is called Funnel Visualisation which tracks a users journey to the conversion page. This is useful feature in deciding whether improvements are needed to your site navigation.

For more information on Google Analytics:

Points to note


If inaccuracies do occur in tracking conversation via backend systems and analytics, it could be due to one of the below:

Obvious one: Tracking code is at the bottom of page, user gets bored clicks on another page and tracking code isn’t’ logged (as page not fully loaded)

There has been a restructure of the site navigation and conversion funnels not been updated (conversion tracking is broken in Analytics)

If "No Referrers" appears in the conversion/order confirmation page? This may be because people are book-marking the site from that page or they are using their History file which may show that as the most recent, so every-time they visit the page it is throwing off conversion data.

outine quality checks

It is always worthwhile to conduct a few days' worth of extensive tests to ensure tracking properly installed.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Optimising Press Releases

How to write a press release

Along with formulating a writing style to your press release which will resonate with your brand, you can also SEO optimise your press releases to increase presence of your company in the Search Engine Result Pages.

Word of caution though is to avoid keyword stuffing press releases, as not surprisingly this will reduce the credibility of your news to the readers. A good SEO copywriter will be able to incorporate the keywords into a press release at the same time satisfying any creative requirements for a compelling read.

Writing a press release for SEO is the same as writing a web page for SEO, looking for relevant links and relevant content on subject matter with keyword density of around 3% - 7%.

For step by step guide on considerations when writing a press release see the criteria at

More information on writing Press Releases can be found at the BBC and WikiHow:

Where to distribute

For maximum impact, where to distribute your press release is also an important consideration. Dependent on your industry and importance of the news story will decipher whether you pay or opt for a free press release service.

Remember that wire press release services will send out your press releases to a number of mail boxes, in effect Spamming mail boxes, thus you need to consider whether you want your company associated with that practice.

List of Press Release Distribution Services

The number of press release distribution services are growing, however at this current date, these are the ones I recommend:

Press Coverage free:

Press Coverage cost: Members news releases will be found on Google News, Google Search, Yahoo!, MSN, News, My favourite is PRweb.

RSS Feeds

Another strategy on getting press coverage on your news story is to pull journalists to you by making sure you have good visibility on places where they will be looking ie: RSS feeds in search results.

Make sure that the news is available to this network of readers ie: every article or press release distributed is available as part of a RSS feed. Should news stories be updated daily or weekly on your site then you could be eligible to qualify for Google News. Other criteria for Google News include: editorial needs to be written by more than one person, regular news stories on the site and these can’t be a duplicate of a news story found elsewhere on the site.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Optimising for You Tube

Optimising for You Tube

By making the most out of You Tube you will be able to:
· Promote videos
· Promote business
· Increase traffic to site
· Target niche groups related to company

Information on building & optimising your own YouTube Presence

1. Create your own channel (Creating on sign up to YouTube account)
2. Create your own profile and link back to your website URL
3. Create your own How to guides – more people likely to subscribe.
4. Join a group, create a new one (public or invitation only)


Review customised options in your channel settings:

Thoughtfully select 9 videos to appear on your channel profile page. Make sure you target your content by choosing the most appropriate account type

Info on account type: Account type is found within the channel info page, in here you will asked if this is Standard account, Director etc…in general most people will choose standard….so as you are experts in your field choose Guru. The Guru/expert account type lets you choose a custom logo and allows you to link to other websites within your profile page. Also people can search by account type.

Choose appropriate video length:

You have more chance of your videos being highly viewed if length is no more than 5 minutes. Bear this point in mind when choosing videos to appear on your profile page. It is also good to stay in the file size limit of 100Mb. Should you have longer videos you could create play-lists – allow viewers to decide whether they wish to watch at later time (when have more time).

Choose the right category:

Make sure you choosing the right category and tags for video. Do not rush this. Check popular videos in your niche, view how these have been tagged and placed in categories.
If you are uncertain of the category, run a keyword search for similar content and take note which category they belong too. Also look at less popular categories, as this will reduce competition and place you as most popular video with a specific category.

Tag it right:

Add as many keywords / tags that you can think off as tags allow your video to be tagged alongside other YouTube Channels, as a relevant video and this will increase awareness of your Channel and your profile and most importantly your site.

Create niche targeted play-lists:

Gather individual videos into niche groups, so that viewers can find related content more easily.

Don’t forget that YouTube is a social community:

There are options to email other YouTube users, promote your channel, comment on others videos. Make sure when contacting that user is in your target market. Also take advantage of Bulletins (short messages) on your profile and on others. Bulletins are a way to leave messages for users on their profile pages, increase your audience. Promote new videos or simply news about company. If they like your videos then they may even subscribe, also Bulletins lets visitors know you are active YouTuber. As mentioned earlier it is important to make sure you target the right audience correctly.

Join or create a group:

This is a great way of reaching out to your target audience. To monitor responses you can choose whether posts/messages, can be posted freely or whether they need approval. If objective of your group is to generate awareness then remember to open it to the public, another option is invitation only. Main aims of group set up though are too share videos.

Extra way to increase awareness

You can turn on (newish feature) ‘Active sharing’…which allows you to drive traffic to your profile. How ? This service is aimed for those who which to form opinions on subject matter, or for those interested in video trends. Basically, if you turn on ‘Active sharing’ then your YouTube name will appear under the video, people watching the video maybe interested to click on your name and see what else you have been watching. This is within your profile, where link to your site sits.