Displaying items by tag: content marketing
Over the years I've encountered a regular misunderstanding by potential clients regarding web design. It's the scenario where someone focuses solely on aesthetics at the expense of everything else.
In fact with some people, critical elements like content quality and user friendliness don't matter one bit. All that matters is their personal vision of what it should look like, with no regard whatsoever to the needs and expectations of their target audience. It's what I describe as "Flowery Syndrome".
Points to consider:
1. Websites are business assets whose sole focus must be to achieve specific business objectives. They are not your own personal scrapbook.
2. Google doesn't rank your site on how artistic and pretty it is.....it doesn't care. And quite frankly neither do your target audience.
3. In a similar way that the user and Google doesn't care if your artwork is on a par with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, they're also not interested in whether you have the literary expertise of an Oscar Wilde. Communicate in plain language with no ludicrous catch phrases or ambiguous cliches.
4. Content must engage the readers and involve them.....it's not a platform for you to give a speech about "me, me, me".
5. Understand that your website is no more than a marketing tool to enable you to generate business. Don't trivialise it with self indulgent ideas that are not related in any way to making money. Logically, why would you want to put anything on your site whatsoever that is not a business initiative?
6. You want stunning visuals? Then introduce great pictures relating to your business which will generate a need and desire within the user to purchase your products or services! Random pieces of meaningless artwork, (or even worse, cartoon elements) littered around your site are not going to do that. You're just diminishing your credibility to prospective clients.
7. You are building the website for others.....not yourself. Just because you'd like the site to have every colour of the rainbow in it doesn't mean that everybody else would!
8. If you're looking for a web designer, make sure you get one that understands how business actually works in the real world. Because you will need their input to advise you on best practices so you don't fall into the situation I've described.
Now don't take all these points as meaning the appearance of your site doesn't matter....because it does! A lot! Your site needs to have a professional appearance, it needs to be user-friendly, and the content must relate to the user while delivering value to them.
When somebody gets to your site you definitely need the "WOW" factor to hit them. But let's back it up with some quality content that actually imparts information, along with a great user experience. That scenario is infinitely preferable to introducing the useless, distracting trivia and irrelevance associated with "Flowery Syndrome".
So are you taking FaceBook seriously? If not, maybe it's time to reappraise the situation? Simply because FaceBook is now referring more traffic to websites than Google.
A new industry study shows that in July 2015 FaceBook pulled ahead by three percentage points in referral traffic to 38.2% compared with Google's 35.2%. Contrast that with 2012, when Google had 50% and FaceBook 10%......and you'll see that the balance of power has completely changed.
This is something that I've noticed for some time with this site, as we generally get a lot more hits from FaceBook than from Google's organic search. And that's despite the fact that we sit on the top of the search engine rankings. At first I thought this could be just an isolated occurrence, but it's now been confirmed by recent industry studies from www.parsely.com.
Want to improve your Social Media performance? Well in my experience, the best method to employ with all social media marketing is a little and often. Bear in mind that the average post on these networks has a "shelf life" of about 6 hours, so you need to be feeding information through on a regular basis. Just a few minutes a couple of times a day is all you need.
Be aware that you need to get a wide network of friends, followers etc in order to maximise your outreach. Because there's no mileage whatsoever in just talking to yourself. Try to engage with people by posting content that they'll want to share and interact with......but pick your times carefully. Early on in the morning and then again early evening is when you will reach the maximum audience. It goes without saying that a link to your site must be included, and the biggest attention grabber is a great image! The lead image is critical!
It's a numbers game! So the bigger the numbers the more you increase your odds of success. As an example, I have over 10K friends, likes, followers etc across all the networks. So in principle, this content could be seen by many thousands of those today. Nothing like this has ever been possible before, so use it to your best advantage. And best of all it costs you nothing.....other than a few minutes of your time!
The fact of the matter is that Google is now not the only show in town. So don't ignore the power of Social Media referrals or you could end up "outside looking in". It was possible to get away with that back in 2012, but those days are gone. And they're not coming back!
A Visit From The Phantom? Yes it's true.....we've all had a visit! And we didn't even know it!
What I'm referring to is a Google algorithm change called Phantom 2 that's been going on invisibly (hence the name) for the past two months. And because it was done without any warning, unlike Mobilegeddon, there have been complaints from businesses that have suffered because of it.
The reality is that they only have themselves to blame, because the evaluation criteria in Phantom 2 was nothing new. It was just a reinforcement of what had been previously advised about acceptable website standards. Except in this case, Google tightened up on it much more than before.
The alarms went off in the aftermath of Mobilegeddon when sites that were actually mobile compatible started inexplicably dropping from searches. Google initially denied that something was going on, but later admitted it was a "Quality Update" rather than a major algorithm change like Panda or Penguin.
Who was affected? Sites with poor quality content (yes I know we've been here before), sites who had plagarised other sites' content, sites with excessive banner advertising, sites with popups, and sites that had videos or music on autoplay. Basically anything that was cheap, tacky, and annoying!
For those who complain about Google's continual changes, there's one thing you have to take onboard! Their goal is to deliver the best quality search results to it's users. So in this context as a site owner, what you want just doesn't enter into it. It's all about the user experience. Google are more than willing to reward site owners with favourable positioning (think of positioning as a recommendation by them) but you need to prove yourself by delivering value to users and establishing a trustworthy status.
Google's First Commandment is “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. In fact, I would suggest that you read their "Ten things we know to be true" mission statement if you haven't done so. Because you'll find that their initiatives of recent years are just the more sophisticated implementation of those original goals!
The thing is, you can't have it all ways. No doubt virtually all of you go straight to Google for internet searches, and you receive a list of site options that best meet your criteria. How many times have they delivered a page full of worthless results to you? Probably never! So you're happy with the results they give you!
Yet when you look for your own site with keyword searches you're annoyed because your site doesn't show up. Now you're not happy with the results they give you!
Now why do you think that your site doesn't show up where you think it should? Maybe it's because Google doesn't think think your site is delivering the value that others do? Just because you like your content and user experience, and you think it delivers value, doesn't mean that Google (or anybody else) actually agrees.
Just remember the mantra..."Focus on the user and all else will follow".....and make user experience your top priority. Google will like you all the more for it you know!
I think you may find this very interesting......and hopefully it will change your way of thinking about the processes involved with attaining good search engine positioning. Because once and for all I'm going to explode the myth of the SEO Magic Bullet!
To get the full picture, let's take a trip down Memory Lane back to 1996 at the very dawn of the Internet, when Bill Gates made his famous "Content is King" speech! It's long since been deleted from his page, but I managed to trace the full article on the WayBack Machine.
Some of the many interesting (and prophetic) points that he made were these:
"Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet" and "If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will".
So what Bill Gates was saying is that Content would be the primary driving force behind the growth of the internet. Now here we are 20 years later.....and what's changed? In my opinion.....only peoples' perceptions of what is actually important to their websites. Because many still believe in this mythical Magic Bullet of SEO practices being the be all and end all of how successful their site will be.
It's understandable they think that way.....just look at the never ending wave of BS and white noise they get bombarded with via e-mails trying to peddle various SEO services that supposedly "guarantees" them Google number 1. Plus, let's not forget the mass of self appointed SEO "experts" giving advice on their Google Adwords funded blogs, and of course the guy down the pub who has got "connections" at Google.
I do accept that certain onsite initiatives can influence Google's assessment of your site, but these cannot counteract poor quality or non-existent content on your website. I've told people this for years, but invariably they don't want to accept it.
So I'm going to put this SEO Magic Bullet myth to bed once and for all! To do this, I ran 3 SEO audits using one of the highest rated and most precise professional analysis tools that are available.
Here's Site A....which was WebSpain! And what do you know?.....we got a fairly respectable 88%.
But how does that relate to our position on Google? We're always around the top.....we have been for years in fact. Same on Bing and Yahoo too. So initially it appears as if the onsite initiatives that we did have got us to that position. But one test proves nothing......so let's look at one of our clients' sites.
This is Site B, who is one of our clients......and it's also 88%. Which demonstrates that there's nothing been done on our site that hasn't been done to our clients' sites. In fact everything is the same including the software! Presumably this one should be number 1 or thereabouts as well? Well it isn't....it's at the bottom of page 3. What? Look at the SEO score....it doesn't make sense! When I had this result I then went to the top ranked site in their industry (who's not a client of ours) and ran the test.
This is Site C, who is not one of our clients.....and they scored 75%, which is a fairly decent result. But it's obviously a long way behind the 88% of our client's site. So we have a strange situation here! A site with 88% SEO on the bottom of page 3, while another site with 75% SEO that is ruling Google! How can this happen?
It happened because the technical audit for onsite SEO initiatives is not sophisticated enough to assess the quality and relevance of the content in the way that the Google searchbot does it. After examining Site C, I came to these conclusions:
1. Site B (done by us) looked visually better and had more technical optimisations than Site C. So everything we were physically able to do, we had done.
2. Site C (not done by us) looked the poor relation, but their content was very good indeed for that genre. It was educating and informing readers, telling them what to look out for, giving them tips and ideas, and answering any potential queries.
So what can we learn from this? Site A (WebSpain) had the technical initiatives and the content, while Site B (our clients) had the technical initiatives, but was let down by a lack of quality content. And Site C (not our clients) overcame the lack of technical initiatives by having good content that delivered value and information to the users.
It validates everything we've ever said.....no amount of SEO enhancements will ever compensate for lacklustre content.
And what did Bill Gates say 20 years ago? "Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet".
He wasn't wrong! And not just any content.....he was referring to quality content. Don't fall into the trap of thinking any content is good.....it's not! It is quality not quantity that gets results!
The best way I can sum all this up is to say that it appears that Content is still King......but be aware that Content Marketing is now Queen.
Last September we published this article: SSL for SEO! It related to Google announcing that sites which had HTTPS/SSL encryption would be looked on more favourably in terms of search engine positioning. This represented a major step in their stated initiative of making the internet a safer place.
At that time it wasn't clear how big a ranking signal it would be, and since then no major changes were really noticed....until 10 days ago! Because since then, Google’s ranking data for HTTPS pages has increased by 9.9%......which is a huge swing. You can get the full analysis Here!
But be aware that this doesn't mean that having SSL encryption on your site is some sort of SEO magic bullet, it just means that the priority given to secure sites appears to have been increased. There are numerous other factors involved in the process of search engine ranking......with content and mobile compatibility being the main ones.
Nothing has been officially announced by Google, other than changes in algorithms were coming up. And even then, they wouldn't be drawn on exactly what those might be. But in light of the massive revision in the status of HTTPS/SSL sites over the last ten days, it appears that this is the direction they're taking.
Just to recap, HTTPS/SSL is a 2048bit data encryption method that encrypts the connection to sites giving a higher level of personal security. Essentially, users have a secure connection to the site to prevent the theft of personal and private information. In many cases the data may not be highly sensitive, but setting up a HTTPS connection ensures that no external party is spoofing addresses to retrieve information from users that they would not normally divulge. This activity is now becoming more common and a HTTPS connection safeguards against these attacks.
Strengthening web security benefits everybody, and by implementing this process on your site you'll be demonstrating to users, and Google, that you take this very seriously. Our position on this is that we certainly wouldn't want to be in the position whereby fingers were pointing at us as being responsible for the theft of users' data. Which is why we have always had SSL security on this site.
The difference now is there seems to be measurable search engine positioning benefits that you can gain from it as well. So it's a win-win situation for everybody.....except the cyber criminals of course!
As you know, the way that people use the Internet is changing. We're experiencing a move away from the traditional desktop method into a more mobile centric environment.
So if your focus is only based around attaining high Google rankings, then you need to stop and evaluate everything you do right now......because Facebook are launching their own in-house app to corner the search market.
Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm change that occurred on April 21st has now created a scenario where mobile searches are critical. And Facebook has been more than happy to take advantage of the new opportunities this presents by developing an in-app keyword search engine specifically for use with mobile devices. At present, search returns via this option are sorted by relevancy, though recently published articles that have attracted a high degree of social engagement are also in the listings.
Why is this happening? Mobile ad revenue is big business, particularly on Facebook. Their ad revenue is increasing and businesses are now willing to pay more for FaceBook ads than Google ads......so obviously they must feel that this avenue represents a better return on investment than traditional methods.
This is indicative of the power of social media advertising, and now with the search ap being launched we could be heading towards a situation where potential clients ignore Google completely and do their searches on FaceBook. So if you don't have a clearly defined and well established presence on there, you could find yourself outside looking in.
Still not convinced? Then I'd suggest that you factor in the statistic that Facebook attracts 1.44 billion active users every month! That is a massive outreach. And if they are going to offer the opportunity for users to do a full search on their platform, effectively eliminating the need to go to another search engine, then it's going to be a game changer.
Google has clearly defined the criteria that mobile based internet communications are critical, and now Facebook appear to be seizing this opportunity to grab a big share of the market.
They've already established themselves as an outstanding platform for businesses, advertisers and users.....so they have the numbers behind them to seriously challenge Google's dominance of the search market. And over a longterm basis, through the introduction of different initiatives, they have the potential to render the conventional search engine, as we know it now, virtually obsolete.
Therefore, I would strongly advise that you maintain a serious and active Social Media presence across all platforms (particularly Facebook), with ongoing daily promotional activity. What you posted yesterday is no longer relevant, and I always suggest the "little and often" method because 75% of engagement occurs within the first five hours. Additionally, make sure you expand your user base with more friends, likes, followers, circles etc.....or you'll end up just talking to yourself.
In the past all SEO activity has been based around the results of traditional desktop searches on Google......but now we have to prepare for the changing face of search. Don't get left out in the cold!
Essentially this relates to a situation that I've seen occur at different times with different people. It refers to the scenario where people over-analyse and obsess about their site to the nth degree.......while totally missing the big picture.
The catalyst is normally their competitors are grabbing all the business.....so their only answer is to play with their website. Their mindset seems to be that because they're not doing much business.....it must be the website's fault! They believe that if they change a few words here or there, or change a photo of a tree to that of a bush, it's going to turn everything round!
Now if you find yourself in this situation and your only business plan is to play with your website.....then the bad news is that you haven't actually got a business plan! So let's focus on real world initiatives, not time wasting exercises on your site that nobody (least of all Google) is interested in.
Examples of intiatives:
1. If your domain name is expiring in the next few months, renew it now!
Reason: Google checks the WHOIS register and likes to see a long timeframe before expiry, because they don't want to recommend somebody who may not be there in 3 months time. So put a couple of years on it to demonstrate that you're in this long term.
2. Dedicated IP address and SSL security encryption!
I have SSL running here now (see the padlock in the browser address bar).....it shows professionalism, demonstrates security, proves your identity, and complies with what Google expect....so you get SEO benefits! Read this article for more information: SSL for SEO!
3. Google loves new content! This is the absolute cornerstone relating to how your site will be assessed.
But it's quality not quantity that's important. You need to generate unique well-written content that delivers value. And if you have great content that people want to read, then Google will prioritise you. They'll give you more respect, take you more seriously, and you'll gain credibility as an authority figure within your industry.
4. Social Media is another Google listing trigger! And I'm talking FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and Pinterest. You need to cover them all with quality content encouraging interaction and shares! If you leave one out because you don't like it.....then you're taking shortcuts. Ignore them at your own risk!
5. Networking....both in real life and on business networks like Linkedin. But don't waste your time by interacting with people who are not "influencers" within their respective business sectors. There is no mileage whatsoever in having a network of business contacts who are either consistent under-achievers or serial failures. Be selective!
6. E-Mail Newsletters! Sign up to MailChimp and send out e-mail newsletters to potential clients using your latest site content. If you're in business to business then research potential clients and make the first contact. If you're dealing with end users as in property sales, then start off with the mail addresses of previously interested parties and keep adding to it.
To summarise, these initiatives are not industry specific, they are good practice across all genres, and is exactly what we do. There are no guarantees of getting more business, but you're now actually taking proactive steps to build the brand (branding is going to be the next big thing on Google), and hit a wider target audience in different ways.
This is not SEO.....it's marketing and promotional initiatives while building brand awareness. So it's not a matter of doing things on your site, it's a matter of doing things with your site in terms of presenting it to more people across all media channels and on multiple levels. But it all starts with content.....that is the driving force!
So don't fall into the trap of wasting time on things that make no difference! I know for a fact that if my site looked better than it does, it wouldn't bring me any more business. Conversely, if my site wasn't as good as it is, I wouldn't lose any business! Therefore I don't waste my time playing with it! I focus on real world initiatives.
Because the reality of the situation is that the site is not my business.....it's just a tool that I use in conjunction with my business. No more, no less!
Every business wants favourable positioning on search engines. While it isn't the life or death situation that many people believe it to be, it does help.
However, I want to debunk a myth that still exists, because there is a gross lack of understanding about SEO related practices. These have been fuelled by a mountain of misinformation, generated by various self appointed SEO experts over many years!
While it's true that certain unscrupulous practices could have got you prime positioning in the past.......these loopholes have now been closed! To the extent that some of the sites that went down this dubious path have now been blitzed by Google, simply because they were caught cheating. This has resulted in an explosion of reputation management companies turning up to clean up the mess. At a price!
Businesses fell for the myth that SEO was all about pieces of secret code that could be put on the site, which would bring untold riches and an immediate promotion to the lifestyle of the rich and famous! Well the truth is, there never has been a magic bullet, and there never will be......and this is what I've been telling people for years! If businesses had focussed on providing users and search engines with what they wanted instead of trying to figure out ways to cheat the system, they wouldn't be in this mess now.
While it's true that onsite SEO optimisation to deliver the content in the right way is very important, just bear one phrase in mind....you can't polish garbage! You may try to enhance it somewhat by rolling it in glitter, but it's still garbage! So your content has to be grammatically correct, relevant, and deliver value.
So what can you do?
Generate unique content of value to the user and search engines! Never copy content from other websites.....you will be penalised!
Quality is more important than quantity. So you should try to deliver information that informs the user clearly and effectively, and whenever possible, delivers solutions. Internet searches are much more complex now....gone are the days of one and two word searches. People are putting in specific questions and your content should provide the answers in a clear, concise, and grammatically correct manner.
Stop talking about me, me, me! Deliver the information, and demonstrate the benefits of the product or service to the user. People want to know what you're going to do for them.....they don't want to hear your self promotion speech.
Make sure you include a related image.....images are important, especially for Social Media display to attract attention.
Use one or two (no more) long tail keywords within the content.....for example "web design for British businesses in Spain".
When you've got content on your site, then keep distributing it on Social Media. A little and often is the key! But try to engage with users on Social Media.....encourage people to share, reply and interact.
You don't need the literary prowess of an Oscar Wilde to be able to do this effectively. You know your business, and you should know your customers' needs and requirements. If your spelling and grammar is lacking, then get a friend to check it over. Be aware that professional content writers do not come cheap....and really good ones are hard to find. So employing somebody to do this is not going to be an option unless you have a very generous budget.
Remember that you can make a difference! Be organised, be disciplined, and aim to provide content that people will want to read and share! Build yourself into an authority figure within your industry, and then users and search engines will sit up and listen.
All I've done is just tell you what I do.......in fact, it's what I've always done. No secret code or hidden mysteries to it whatsoever, just plain common sense! But does it work? Just search for "Web Design Spain" on Google and draw your own conclusion.