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Best of 2012: April

Today’s “best of” roundup for 2012 takes us back to April, where amongst other things, I talked about website design, search engine optimisation, interruptive advertising, defensive AdWords and the rise of video in search engine marketing.

1. Many companies don’t realise how easily the looks of their existing website can be updated. If you’ve got a content management system of any kind, there’ll be templates for the pages, and colours, logos, fonts and text sizes can be updated in moments. But even if your website is just a collection of loose HTML documents made in Dreamweaver or some other page design application, it can be quite straightforward to make sitewide amendments. One company recently asked us if it was possible to update some outdated information and links across a 500-page website, and we got it done in a few hours. A full redesign isn’t always necessary.

2. Great sales professionals understand that their first task in a cold sales call is to turn the interruption into a conversation. But it’s much better to join in a conversation which is already under way. When it comes to advertising, this experience has traditionally been ignored: as an advertiser, you’ve been sold interruptive advertising – the equivalent of the cold call – by clever salespeople who know what they’re doing. If you’re going to interrupt someone, there’d better be a good reason, and it’s a rare trade press advert which can overcome that barrier.

3. It appears that if you’re number 1 in the Google results, and run an advert alongside, 50% of the people who click on your advert wouldn’t have visited your website without the advert. So let’s say you get 100 visitors from being number 1 in the natural results, and another 40 visitors at £2 each from the advert, your £80 is actually getting you 20 extra website visitors. That may still be very good value. If you’re halfway down the page, or lower, it almost certainly will be. Here, an astonishing 96% of the people who click on your advert wouldn’t have visited your website without the ad.

4. There’s a compelling reason to start getting videos made, and that’s to do with the search engines. You’ll already know that it’s a thankless task trying to get on the first page of Google results for generic product descriptions, such as “blue widgets”. Sadly, it’s only going to get harder, as the search engines continue to focus on certain brand names. But have you noticed what’s started to appear right in the middle of Google results? Videos.

5. There are many things which can help your site rank better in the search engines. The things which I think are the most important in terms of “on-page optimisation” (rather than external linking) are having the keyword in the page title; getting the keyword in the URL; having a decent amount of authoritative, unique content; and, if I may add a fourth item, to ensure that your pages are all visible and working.

6. Many companies are quite obsessive about monitoring what their competitors are doing. The biggest insight you can get from studying your competitors is, I believe, to understand how you can differentiate yourself from them, not copy them. That’s what’ll make you seem really interesting to prospects.

My favourite quote of the month: The most effective pieces of marketing literature I’ve ever been involved with, at least as far as the sales team have been concerned, are those which are genuinely helpful to their prospects. And don’t get me started on advertising: most salespeople look at their own company’s advertising and wonder why it has to be that boring. The people they’re trying to sell to certainly aren’t that pompous.

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