As part of this year’s annual conference Open for Business in the Aviva Stadium on May 12th, Sandra Hennessy of Dynamic Web Marketing will be running a series of one-to-one web strategy clinics. We hold these every year, inviting a member to host them. Sandra may well be known to some of our members, attendees and readers already as she is one of the lecturers on our Diploma in Digital Marketing.
Conference delegates can book a clinic online but as they are one-to-one and run only in the afternoon the places are very limited so please no dawdling! (You can book your ticket for the conference online too and again less of that dawdling at the back please!)
I had a chat with Sandra last week about how she is going to run the clinics this year and here is how she replied
Q. Sandra, you are running a one-to-one web strategy clinic at Open for Business, the IIA Annual Conference on the afternoon of May 12th in the Aviva Stadium. Which key areas are you hoping to help delegates with at these clinics?
A. I anticipate a lot of questions around search engine optimisation and social media but I hope to help businesses identify new ways to increase their online profile and conversions. QR codes are getting popular and a lot of the larger businesses are using them, I am currently on a mission to get Irish SME’s using QR codes in innovative ways to help drive sales.
Q. Some of our delegates and members might recognise you because this isn’t the first time you have helped on the web strategy clinics at our annual conference. Tell us about some of the issues you managed to resolve for delegates in previous years.
A. I am delighted to be sponsoring the clinics, I only recently set up my own business but have been working in online marketing for 9 years now. Over the past few years the clinics have centered around websites evaluations, giving delegates advice on how to improve their website usability, search engine optimistion and conversions. I expect this theme will run into this year but the web is moving and how we attract new business online is changing every day. Setting up and using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter was discussed last year but I anticipate a lot more questions in this area as it is now paramount to any online marketing strategy to include social and business networking.
Q. And in the (2/3) years that you have been doing this and working in this area in general what are the biggest changes/ challenges you have seen for Irish businesses who are coming online or upping their online game?
A. The biggest challenge I have seen since the birth of social media is time. It’s great that we can use Facebook, Twitter etc for free but it does take time to set up and manage. Part of what I do every day is help businesses establish and implement their social media strategy. I help them build social media it into their working day. It eventually becomes habit rather than a chore but it takes time to get to this stage.
Q. If you have one piece of advice for an Irish business reviewing their online strategy what would it be? I know tough question!
A. Three words – PLANNING, DELEGATION and ANALYSIS. Planning will help structure things, plan out a time line for different stages and don’t be afraid to delegate out some of the work to colleagues. Once upon a time looking at your website once a month and making a few changes would suffice but now online marketing is an integral part of any marketing plan so it needs to be planned into every day tasks. Decide when things will be completed and who will complete them. Once they have been implemented, analyse. No point in taking the time to plan and implement if you are not going to review how successful your online marketing campaigns are.
If you do hope to participate please book online. In this form you can include details of the particular issue you wish to discuss so Sandra can prep in advance and you can really make the most of your half hour with her.
Last week after a long process of redevelopment YourLocal.ie, an IIA Member company, relaunched their site. Personally I think it looks rather spiffing but my opinion in this instance is neither here nor there. Josephine from YourLocal.ie has been in touch and is looking for feedback on a very particular aspect of the new site:
“We would love to get some feedback on the search results on our site. There are particular results coming back for searches that make sense in terms of Geo coding however I am not sure these are the best search results for our users.”
So all you search marketing experts out there please visit YourLocal.ie, run a search and let YourLocal.ie know in the comments below what you think of the results. If you need more direction please ask in the comments below – Josephine is on hand to respond.
If you haven’t taken part in Feedback Friday before PLEASE REVIEW THE GUIDELINES before getting all harumphy when I don’t publish your comments. Thanks!
Mark Rodgers, chair of the IIA International Strategy Working Group and Director of Cipherion was a guest on yesterday’s Sunday Business Show presented by Conall Ó Móráin. You can listen to all of yesterday’s show on the Sunday Business Show site or you can subscribe in iTunes. It’s a show filled with many gems so I would recommend it.
Here is the excerpt with Mark speaking with Conall Ó Móráin about internationalising your business online.
This is a guest post from Ann Donnelly of O’Mahony Donnelly E-Business Development who are IIA Members based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork
This week there was a big buzz online about an article posted on Tech Crunch “The Time Has Come To Regulate Search Engine Marketing And SEO”. In the opinion of the anonymous guest author: “Due to Google’s dominance — and the fact that it controls such an enormous amount of consumer behavior through paid and organic search listings – the company in essence governs commerce on the web.” This is a topic that has come up time and again over the past few years in webmaster forums and search industry conferences, but in many cases the complaint comes from those that are looking for short cuts to get results through search engines or those that are focusing on one aspect of online marketing success instead of developing a full, well rounded online marketing plan.
A small number of these people are using techniques that some would consider unethical to promote their own websites, or are using these techniques to provide such services to others. Some are using ethical techniques, but using dishonest or hard sell marketing to promote their services. This sort of behaviour happens across all industries (we all trust used car salesmen, right?), but in our industry the consumer is particularly vulnerable, as he often feels he doesn’t have the technical knowledge and doesn’t listen to his own common sense – and there is such an enormous amount of bad advice out there.
It may sound harsh, but those people that have knowingly chosen these methods will probably laugh at what I am saying here and will continue in the same manner, full throttle, and may get very rich from it. On the other hand, I have met a number of people in the industry that honestly feel that these are legitimate methods and don’t see that they are limiting the type of results they will get from their businesses. Why do I care about these people? Their behaviour causes consumers to distrust the industry as a whole. A customer that has had a bad experience shopping online will avoid shopping online again. A business that has gotten poor results with their website because the web developer they chose was inexperienced, will just feel that online marketing won’t work at all for them.
There are also a large number of young men and women, as well as those recently made redundant, that are starting up their own businesses and are looking to those of us already established in the industry for guidance on the way to go with this.
It’s up to each business owner to decide what sort of methods he will use. Do you want to sign on a large number of customers that will use your services once or over a short period of time or do you want to develop longer term relationships built on old fashioned, good service and hard work?
If you choose the first method and are tricking people into signing up for your services, not providing good value and are not getting results for your customers the bad news will get around quickly enough and you may end up out of business. This is especially true with so many people using social networking web sites. News of bad service travels much faster than good reviews.
Are you providing the best products and services? If not, are you providing better value for what you do? Do your customers fully understand what they are getting for their money? Take a look at your business and see if you can develop a business model that’s good for your customers as well as for yourself.
Let’s go back to “Big, Bad Google”. They state on their Corporate Overview page: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They do this by providing “an easy-to-use free service that usually returns relevant results in a fraction of a second.” Looking just at the search side of Google’s businesses the changes they have made over the years have all focused on returning “relevant results” not because they are really nice guys, but because that is what makes people come back to use the Google search engine again and again. Focusing on this has brought about the “dominance” that is resented by their competitors and search marketing professionals that are looking for short cuts to success.
This resentment is even stronger now that Google AdWords have brought financial success as well. Google has made their products and services easy to use, with full documentation and helpful videos. They now have staff speaking at most industry conferences and using social networking tools to more fully communicate and assist users of all of their products.
This shows the importance of setting the right mission statement for your business and, once you have done this, maintaining your focus on that mission to bring best results for your business. What do you want to achieve in your business? Are you looking to just make a living or are you looking for greater satisfaction in helping others achieve their business goals; or do you need to be the best (in number of sales, awards, publicity)? Are you looking to build up your business to a point where you can sell it on to another bigger business? Your goals are going to be based on the type of products/services as well as what your personal needs are. I am not judging any of these goals, just saying that it’s important to define them and remain focused.
By developing the best mix of products and services with the right pricing structure you then have a business that is financially viable and, hopefully, lucrative with a base of happy, loyal customers (as well as happy, loyal suppliers) that are with you for the long term and referring you to their friends and colleagues – working with you to build a successful business that is around for the long term. Just have a look at “10 Things Google Has Found to Be True”.
Her business O’Mahony Donnelly E-Business Development specialises in Search Engine Placement &
Offering a full line of Online Marketing Services:
- Web Design & Development
- Shopping Carts & Payment Processing
- Search Engine Placement
- Email Marketing
- AdWords Campaign Management
- Social Networking (Blogs, Forums, etc.)
- Online Customer Service
No doubt many of you heard on Morning Ireland that Microsoft have a launched a new search engine called Bing. You may even have seen the chair of our Online Marketing Working Group talking about it on the RTÉ News. While Microsoft are touting it as a “decision engine” (as in “It’s time to Bing & Decide”) which will give you the right answer and not more confusion, others are wondering whether it will be a Google-killer.Whatever else their big bucks marketing and PR campaign which rarely goes unmentioned in posts and online articles seems to be working: if you’re on Morning Ireland, you’re mainstream!
Now while I’ve been fluting around with it and the other new kid on the block, Wolfram Alpha, only a tiny little bit I wonder how they will manage to break the ubiquity of the Big G. We’ve been busy here in the IIA over the last month with Congress and the Net Visionary Awards and when I did have the urge/ time/ need to search, trying out the search in a new engine was not top of my priorities. Add to this that Google is in my face every time I get a Google alert, check my mail or my feeds etc. etc. And I’ve got the Firefox toolbar and it’s my default search engine in my browser. It’s amazing I even heard about any new search engine!
In the article linked above about whether or not Bing will be a Google-killer, the author, Jordan Golson, makes the very valid point that it’s not neccessarily that there is anything wrong with any given search engine but that searchers do not know how to search to get the results they want or the right results. I can avow to this when I think of the numerous phone calls I receive in relation to certain member companies. I inwardly grimace when I hear some member companies running an ad campaign on the radio knowing that I will be fielding calls from their potential customers. Obviously the IIA does not want to be getting your calls; we do not want to be appearing in search results for our members’ products or services. So if on the one hand the searcher knew a little bit more about how to get the results they want and what to do with the results when they get them that would improve search on any engine. However I do think that Bing’s preview will hopefully steer people in the right direction and away from our phone!
These developments in search highlight the fact that now that consumers have a new improved way to reach your site it becomes ever more important to develop your site as a searchable site. Search algorithms are constantly developed to make them more and more “human like” so that the most popular content among real humans (you and me, like) is served first for certain keywords. That’s not necessarily the most often changed content: the algorithms have become far smarter than that. How often do you change a blog post? An example? Do a search on Google for “dreech” Or ahem indeed bing it! I have never changed this content (I know what you’re thinking – maybe you should change it drastically and delete it!) but the IIA blog is still considered the most useful site for that keyword. This may be because anyone else writing about the word dreech doesn’t update their site all that regularly. But I’m no SEO expert so I would welcome any comments on the topic. I’m sure the boss will be delighted that we are coming up no. 1 for the word dreech….
You might like to check out some of these other articles about Bing too:
Mashable: Bing: Microsoft Launching New Rival to Google? (Look at the retweets on that item!)
Well not quite! Channelship have recently completed two sites for a client and would love a bit of feedback before putting the sites to bed entirely. Both sites focus on products and services for fixing cracks and potholes and beautifying driveways and roads. I doubt there’s a person in Ireland who doesn’t know a spot that could use that kind of TLC! But what about the sites themselves? Are they a bumpy ride or as smooth as silk? Over to Fred Caballero Project Manager with www.channelship.ie to tell us a little bit more about what they would like you feedbackers to focus on when looking at the sites:
The idea would be to have comments on the usabilty, general look & feel, Search Engine Optimisation, coding and any helpful comments that people might have, since we are still on time to make a few changes. If you can think of more aspects to cover let us know!
Don’t forget that we have some guidelines when giving feedback and I will be moderating all comments.
The following guest post is written by Leon Quinn of Reverb Studios Multimedia & Web Design. Reverb Studios recently rejoined the IIA which I was really glad to see. Leon Quinn, the company owner, had been on my radar through twitter and had made some valuable input to the Social Media Working Group’s recent blogging workshop through the live twittering (You’ll hear me passing on his inputs in the podcast where I mistakenly say that he is based in Co. Clare when he’s actually in lovely Leitrim – my bad!)
I ask all new members what prompted them to join the IIA. Leon told me that “Good key worded anchor links from a site like the IIA’s with a Google page rank of 6/10 and Alexa rank of 135,562 should help promote my web site so I guess you could say I’m mainly using the IIA site for link backs but in return you should get some useful content via my 2 blogs through your excellent RSS feature.”
Over to Leon:
The dominant mood in the current economic climate amongst the general public and businesses especially is to cut costs, save money and look for deals. Bearing this in mind, and if you run a business looking to increase your sales leads, now might be a good time to look at your marketing methods and spend.
‘Old fashioned’ marketing methods such as Print, Radio, TV, Brochures, etc.. remain effective at least in a local context but they also remain very expensive. If you are a business manager who has managed to avoid going down the online route to find leads until now then you should realise that according to recent statistics more and more people are using the internet to find services and purchase products online and you may not be able to afford to ignore this fact for much longer.
Web Design companies, if they have morals! will realise that companies may turn to the net in the current crisis to service their sales needs and therefore will hopefully lower their prices in the face of greater competition so hiring a web development company should no longer break the bank like it used to.
So what are the benefits of having a web presence over traditional marketing means?
- The web has a much greater reach, anyone with a PC and internet connection, anywhere in the world can find your site and potentially do business with you.
- The web never sleeps. Your website will not keep normal business hours but will continue to sell your services 24/7.
- It’s easier and quicker to find a product or service on the web thanks to excellent search engines such as Google therefore people will use this method to find companies much more.
- You can say more and sell yourself better on a web site than any other media. Consider the cost of an ad in something like the yellow pages and what you get for that price as opposed to a web site on which you can have text, photos, audio, video, news and as many pages as you like!
- The ongoing cost of a web site is quite small compared to other media. If you are managing the site yourself then the only repetitive costs will be your domain name and hosting and these should be reasonable.
- Spending money on something like Google Adwords to get people to your site is a much more efficient way of spending your marketing budget and you can monitor the effects of a campaign much more closely.
- You can use Google Analytics on your web site for free and gain very useful information about the type of people visiting your site and what they looked at most while there. This information can allow you to optimise your site to maximise the amount of people who actually contact you and give you a valuable sales lead.
Article by Leon Quinn
Reverb Studios Multimedia Design, Leitrim
A guest post from Will Roche who works with IIA Member company Bluecube Interactive with some great tips if you are looking into starting an AdWords Campaign on Google to attract targeted traffic to your site. Will previously worked with Google so he knows a thing or two!
“The noblest search is the search for excellence”
-Lyndon Baines Johnson
Advertising on search engines is one of the most effective methods for driving qualified traffic to your website. Compared to traditional forms of advertising, it is more cost-effective, you can measure performance from the very beginning of the campaign and you will be reaching out to potential customers at the precise time when they are looking for information on products and services they want to buy.
At its very heart, this form of advertising is wonderfully simple – a user sees an ad based upon their search – but there are many factors that you must consider to ensure you don’t pay more than necessary and that the clicks you receive are actually contributing to your profitability.
With this in mind, Bluecube Interactive has created this guide to help you get started in this much-misunderstood area. The advice that follows will help you to lay the foundations but remember, our search team is always available if you need to take your advertising to the next level.
The structure of an AdWords account is vital to achieving a great return on your investment. The right structure will ensure that users are served the most relevant ads at all times and it will make reporting, account navigation and optimisation much easier.
The ideal account structure is one which separates the products and services offered into their own campaigns. A good example would be a company who offers two services – web hosting and web design.
Each service should have its own campaign. This has numerous advantages. For instance, if web hosting is the more prominent service, a greater proportion of the overall marketing budget can be allocated to that campaign. It also makes comparing the cost-per-click performance of both services much easier as you can see at a glance which campaign is driving the most traffic, achieving the most conversions and is providing better value for your business.
Within each campaign, there should be numerous ad groups which group related keyword phrases together that are reflected by specific ad text variations. Examples of ad groups would be:
- web hosting
- website hosting
- UK hosting
- Linux web hosting
The goal should be to make your account as granular as possible and to think about the user who is searching for your keywords. If they are served an ad that relates directly to their search, the user is more likely to click on your ad and convert into a sign-up, lead or sale.
As mentioned previously, keywords should be as specific and targeted as possible and they should relate directly to the ad that the user sees. If a user is searching for product codes or other specific terms, they are likely to be further along the purchasing cycle than those searching for more general terms and therefore, more likely to convert on your website.
General keywords like ‘photocopiers’ or ‘printers’ can be very good for driving large volumes of traffic and can also be beneficial for branding purposes. However you should be aware that general terms are also more expensive and may not lead to the same return on investment that can be achieved with specific keywords.
Another keyword type that you should be aware of is the negative keyword. Almost as important as the keywords which trigger your ads, this type of keyword prevents your ad from showing on irrelevant or unrelated searches. For instance, if your keyword is ‘printers’, this term is liable to be expanded to show for searches like:
- inkjet printers
- laser printers
- free printers
- screen printers
- second hand printers
If your business only sold inkjet printers, you may not want your ads to be displayed for searches on laser printing terms so you could add ‘laser’ as a negative keyword and reduce the amount of irrelevant impressions on your ads. This would result in the same amount of clicks, less impressions, a higher clickthrough rate and because Google’s system rewards highly targeted advertisements, you should see a reduction in your average cost per click.
The actual ad text shown to users searching on your keywords is very important and we recommend using three variations which the AdWords system will rotate evenly until it determines that one variation is performing better than the others.
As mentioned previously, the ad must relate directly to your keywords. It is also very good practice to have the keyword in the ad text itself. If the searched keyword is part of the ad, that text will be highlighted in bold letters and makes your ad stand out to your prospective clients.
Another best practice is to give the user an idea of what you expect them to do once they reach your website and you should certainly use call-to-action phrase to do this. Phrases like ‘order online now’ or ‘contact us today’ can be very effective in driving conversions. If your goal is to have potential leads call your sales team, you may wish to try an ad variation which has your phone number. In this way, you could potentially solicit leads without the need for any chargeable click activity.
Once a user clicks on your ad, the landing page is the next important step in ensuring a strong conversion rate and ROI. More often than not, advertisers use their home page as the destination for their ads but if you have many products or offer different services, you should choose the webpage that is most relevant to the keyword searched and the ad displayed to the user.
It is always worth remembering that more you make a user click, the less likely they are to convert. Generally speaking, if a user is searching for ‘accounting software’, you should bring them to the page with all the relevant information about that software to make their purchase decision. We would also recommend not bringing users directly to ‘contact us’ pages unless those pages contain an adequate amount of information on the product or service itself. Landing pages which only contain large contact forms and no information tend to have very high bounce rates (the amount of users who leave your website) and do not convert very well.
If you are mostly interested in driving phone calls to your sales teams, I would recommend having your contact details and phone number on every page of your website. Once again, this prevents the user from having to navigate your site for the information they require. As with all things related to Google advertising, the focus should always be on the user experience and how you can make their conversion as easy as possible.
About Bluecube Interactive
We are a small company with big ideas, and we have a lot of big ideas about search engine marketing. Our experienced search specialists offer a range of services to ensure the success of your campaigns.
Our Services include:
After researching your existing online environment we will create keyword lists, text ads and calculate your optimum cost-per-click settings to ensure your ads appear on the first page of results for the most relevant searches. Our expertise will ensure detailed campaign performance analysis and increased budgetary control.
One of the key success factors with a PPC campaign is the continuous refinement of keywords and ad texts based upon historic performance. Our specialists can recommend and implement changes that will noticeably improve the performance of your campaigns.
We use traffic analysis software that allows us to see how valuable each keyword really is, if your conversion goals are being met and what we can do to maximise these conversions.
We offer full-time account management services that make us solely responsible for the success of your PPC campaigns. We will discuss your marketing goals, research the online environment for your industry and create the campaigns that will deliver strong results. We also provide regular reporting on account performance and how users are interacting with your website
Our account management service ensures that all areas of your search engine marketing are in the hands of experienced professionals who will be in regular contact with your marketing team.
Damien Mulley is running another innovative competition to find the best Search Engine Optimiser in Ireland. The competition has become known as the Geansaí Gorm Competition. (although I think it is being spelt “geansai gorm” without the accent. I’m sayin nuttin! ) This phrase was chosen so as not to pollute the rankings of actual businesses because it was unlikely that there are many trying to sell geansaithe goirme online (bang goes the Spailpín Fánach’s line in blue jumpers…)
The competition runs until 3pm on December 1 2008 so if you are really good there is still time to get ranked in Google for geansai gorm. I’m really looking forward to seeing the resuls. I’ll be keen to see how much social media helps the winner or whether the purchasing of AdWords helped. I’ll keep you posted on the results.
Now I’m off to sell all the mentions above of geansai gorm to the contenders…
The following post was contributed by Colman Kelly, a web developer with PillarProjects Ltd, a member of the IIA, who are currently developing their own site. He attended last week’s Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing Course and offered to write a review of it. As he knows from the course and as I mentioned myself in a previous post becoming a guest blogger is a great and legitimate way to generate links to your own site.
I recently attended the SEO/SEM course organised by the IIA.
It was a one day course at the IPA, Lansdowne Road given by Micheal Heragthy, CEO of Heraghty Internet Consultants.
There was a full attendance, which I wasn’t surprised at given Michael Heraghty’s reputation, and the importance of SEO/SEM to all businesses today.
The pace, and detail, of the morning session was prepared and presented in such a way as it could be followed by all there.
There is a good atmosphere in the IPA, and all the class mingled and chatted during the tea break, and at the lunch across the road.
The afternoon session was a practical one where we stepped through the process of creating a (commercial) pay-per-click advertising campaign using Google AdWords.
As a web devoloper these were skills that I needed to learn. Many of us created a live campaign right then and there, and Michael took time to get his hands dirty and give us one-on-one help and advice.
From what I have read and heard there is no more knowledgable man on this topic than Michael Heragthy, and it was obvious the class appreciated this in their eagerness and application in the afternnoon session, and with the questions and answers at the end.
A very worthwile day.
If you plan to attend an IIA event or have attended on in the recent past and would like to write a review of it, please contact me, Roseanne at roseanne at iia dot ie.