Best of 2012: October

October saw some of my favourite articles of the whole year, including a look at why you should own a series of domain names, a critique of companies’ results on a typical Google search, and how to build an “exact match domain”. Enjoy them (again)…

1. It’s important for your company to own many domain names. They’re cheap to buy, and it’s never too late to start doing so. There are three areas I’d investigate. The first is overseas versions of your company name. The second area is variations or misspellings of the company name. Finally, there are the domain names for generic product types, which will be useful if you ever want to set up “authority sites” as a soft way of introducing your company. They’re also useful if you want to quote specific domain names in print adverts, so you can measure response.

2. The “favicon” is the tiny icon which appears in browsers next to website and page names. It’s just a little thing, but it’s a finishing touch which has an impact out of all proportion to its size. In many browsers, when people pull down their lists of “favorites” (sic), all the websites have attractive little icons next to them (below). Those websites where the designer forgot to add a favicon have a plain “page” icon and just look, well, unprofessional. Call up your own website and check you’ve got something in place.

3. Just because you appear on a Google results page doesn’t mean somebody’s going to click on your result. Getting there is only half of the battle. Now you need the result to shout: “click on me!” But many companies take this open goal and blaze it over the bar. The most important element is the heading, in blue (purple if it’s already been clicked). And you write this.

4. Let’s look at a real example of a Google search, and offer a critique of the top results. I’ve chosen an area I know well, automation engineering, and a product type which has been one of the most heavily marketed of the last 20 years, pneumatic cylinders. The leading manufacturers include Festo, Norgren, SMC, Parker and Bosch Rexroth, so I would expect to see those companies right up there …but are they?

5. “Exact match domains” are websites about a single subject, with that subject as the domain name. In this article I outlined how to build one. The first thing to do is to research the term you want to rank highly for. You can’t spend too long on this. Then we build a website around the search term, imagining that we’re writing the best ever Wikipedia entry on the subject, and ensure that it’s all new material, never recycled stuff from elsewhere. If you have access to a web-savvy young marketing assistant, it’s a brilliant project for them.

6. The slow demise of print magazines and newspapers is starting to accelerate. We might prefer print editions, but we’re not prepared to pay for them in terms of the cover price, the wait or the amount of advertising required to make them even remotely affordable. In the trade sector, few magazines have ever bothered to build a rapport with their readership, or even develop a personality, so few are mourned when they quietly cease publication. I can think of many ways in which printed magazines can be improved, but I don’t know how to save them.

Quote of the Month:
Unless you’re 100% a backroom person, never emerging blinking into the daylight, people will visit your LinkedIn page. You owe it to yourself to keep it up-to-date and to improve it continually. You may not routinely look at others’ LinkedIn pages before meeting them or talking to them, but trust me, many people do.

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