Are you one of those people who occasionally studies their website traffic quite seriously but doesn’t keep a more general eye on things on a more frequent basis? Take a look at Polaris, which is a really great little application which sits on your desktop and shows you all the headline traffic statistics from Google Analytics, with some of the most beautiful graphs ever. It’s free too.
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For those of you labouring with an old and/or badly written content management system, today’s article won’t be that encouraging. It emphasises the need to have nice clear web page addresses, or “URLs”, which in themselves describe what the page is about. In many systems, the URL imposed on each page won’t be something useful like “www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk/widgets/pricelist.html” but will more likely be something horrible like “www.redwidgetcompany.co.uk/dfgy/content.aspx?prod=aXT45&num=34771”. There are two things bad about this. One is that it tells the search engines nothing, and puts your SEO on the back foot… Read More »It makes sense to have URLs which make sense
I haven’t mentioned LinkedIn for several months, and in the meantime it’s quietly been getting stronger, from what I can see. There are a whole load of suggestions as to how you might make more of this business-oriented social networking site in 33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business on Web Worker Daily. If you’re on LinkedIn, go to the group I’ve set up for readers of this blog and join us. Then visit my profile, and “add Chris to your network“. If we haven’t “done business together”, as they… Read More »LinkedIn continues to get stronger
It’s amazing how many people assume that marketing emails which don’t bounce back have been read by their recipients. In fact, the response rate of your emails may be much better than you think. But only because far fewer of them get read than you imagine. After your email has disappeared into the void (and not been returned), it has to negotiate a long list of tricky hurdles: spam filters at the Internet Service Provider level; firewalls at the recipient organisation; personal spam filters; recipients not liking the subject or… Read More »Give your emails a fighting chance
It’s almost certainly not your job to know this, but Google makes changes which might affect the way you present your website almost every month. Just to give you an idea of how much goes on, and how much search engine optimisation consultants have to keep up with, have a read of Google updates – SEO implications of significant first half 2009 changes on Dave Chaffey Internet Marketing. It’s mind-boggling at times. Any questions?
I like to bring you some fun stuff on Fridays, if I have any, and today it’s FutureNow’s Customer Focus Calculator, or “WeWe Monitor”. As usual with these things, there’s a serious message behind it. If you really think that you’re offering what your customers want, you need to be concentrating on their big “What’s in it for me?” question. Come on, you don’t need me to tell you this. So if you’re concentrating on what’s in it for them, you shouldn’t be wasting space on yourself. Customers don’t want… Read More »We-We-ing on your prospects
Here’s a nice “back to basics” article about the elementary functions of your website, which might make you sit up and think. Don’t Promote Your Website, Use Your Website to Promote You! on Search Engine Guide makes the very good point that the web is a little different from traditional media, in that you’re the publisher, and therefore you have to do an extra job – publicising the medium itself. If you take out an advert in Widget Monthly, you can safely assume that you don’t need to alert the… Read More »Your website is supposed to be selling. Is it?
This is a fantastic idea which anyone can do without too much effort. It concerns putting prices on your website, and specifically generating the evidence that it would be a Good Thing to do so. I have never been able to understand why any manufacturer or supplier doesn’t put a full price list of standard products on its website. I once had a discussion with an MD who said “I can give you five good reasons why we don’t”, and who promptly gave me five dreadful reasons why he didn’t.… Read More »If you hide your prices, I think you have something to hide
Here’s a question I get asked quite frequently: “Should I respond to that emailed request from some website owner to put a link to his site on mine, in exchange for a link back?” The answer is “almost certainly not”. But that doesn’t mean that “reciprocal” links are a bad thing. Let me explain. There are two reasons to get links: the traffic they generate directly, and the incremental boost they give you in the search engine rankings. Now, the amount of boost each one gives you in the search… Read More »Should you “swap links” with other sites?
13 Steps That Transformed One Company From Invisible King to Sought Leader is a recent post on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog which looks at the success in the search engine results being achieved by the Swedish medical systems company Elekta. As with any corporate website, there are plenty of things we can spot which might be improved, but it’s a pretty good effort, I’m sure you’ll agree. However, the real story here – as the article describes – is in the things going on behind the scenes which you… Read More »Taking the plunge
I know a lot of companies will soon start making their marketing plans for 2010. At most companies, an arbitrary “marketing budget” is allocated, and different marketing activities then get allocated proportions of that, depending on what appears to be working, or what the MD favours doing, or what the parent company dictates. Within each of these activities, further sub-allocations get made, which finally leads to PR agencies, magazine ad reps or exhibition organisers being asked: “What can you do for £xxx?” I’ve discussed before how the whole idea of… Read More »How much should great online marketing cost you?
I hate consultancy which does the job but doesn’t educate at the same time. We always try to explain everything we’re doing for our clients (or at least we answer any questions they have), but I can never find enough time to do that job quite as well as I’d like. That’s why I make a point of writing this blog, which I hope provides a little education, albeit in a random stream of subjects! Not all consultants are keen to explain the tricks of their trade, but occasionally you… Read More »Top tips for business to business AdWords campaigns
Stop Press: Great to announce that this blog was the “marketing category” winner in the Summer 2009 Blog Competition at MurrayNewlands.com – I’m deeply humbled! And now here’s today’s article… It doesn’t really matter if your website has a blog or not, one way or another you should be adding new content to it every week. Visitors like new information, search engines love new information, and more words on your website means more chance of hitting the bullseye with those millions of obscure “long tail” searches being made on search… Read More »Ideas to expand your website
I’ve just had one of my worst web experiences for a long time. In fact, one of the worst customer relations experiences, because I gave up on the offender’s website in the end, and went for the telephone option, only to be given three levels of “options to help us serve you better”, none of which were relevant. The website concerned was The National Lottery, which you might think looks pretty clear at first glance. What I wanted to do was to buy a 52-week subscription for someone as a… Read More »Does your website do what your visitors need it to do?
Here’s one of my regular articles imploring you to set someone the task of getting links to your website. Honestly, there is no better way of improving your search engine traffic, yet because it all sounds a bit woolly and seems a bit hard, I bet you haven’t got a link-building project under way. I know, I know… you don’t have the time to do it in-house, and you haven’t subbed it out either, because you don’t fancy the idea of some consultant contacting loads of websites on your behalf.… Read More »How not to go about getting links
A bit of fun for a Friday morning, but with some serious undercurrent. Take a screenshot of your website* and upload it to www.feng-gui.com. The site will, apparently, use artificial intelligence to simulate human vision during the first five seconds of viewing your page. Whether it’s accurate or not, it does give you an idea of what people probably do, and it’s almost certain that they don’t just look down the page in the linear order you expect them to. Do the places they see first actually tell them the… Read More »To see ourselves as others see us
According to Search Engine Journal in Google Opens AgencyLand, the world’s biggest search engine is developing an online resource to try to promote its advertising products to advertising agencies. I wish them luck. Despite the inexorable rise of pay-per-click advertising over the past five years, many of the B2B advertising agencies I know have looked the other way, stuck their fingers in their ears and mumbled: “na na not listening”. But although Google AdWords lends itself to a do-it-yourself approach, many marketing managers still want to contract out the work,… Read More »Ad agencies partying like it’s still 1999
In technical business-to-business marketing, the most effective medium for keeping in contact with your market is email, no contest. Snail mail is too expensive to do regularly enough, and “social media” (including newsfeeds) is still a jumble of different things lumped together to increase their importance. If you’re an email reader of this blog, you’re in a group which outnumbers the RSS readers by about 10:1 and the real Twitter followers by around the same ratio. We all know the importance of keeping your message in front of prospects, so… Read More »Your prospects are all individual people
Blog directory and search engine Technorati has indexed well over a hundred million blogs worldwide, up from a hundred thousand in 2002. With more blogs coming online every day, the chances of there being a new blog related to your area of activity are better than ever. And if someone’s writing about your market sector, whether they’re an end-user, a researcher or a supplier, there’s potential for you to get publicity and those all-important links from them. If you doubt that anyone would write a blog which even touched on… Read More »People really are writing about your technology
There’s a nice honest post by Matt McGee, a search engine marketing consultant in the USA, on his Small Business SEO blog, which discusses the cost of getting search engine optimisation work done on your website. In Small Business SEO: Costs, Expectations & Realities, he addresses the strange situation whereby businesses seem to think they can get someone to “sort out their website” for a couple of hundred pounds a month. Now, you know and I know that a consultant in any type of business is going to charge three… Read More »Excellent! A consultant who’ll work for £10 an hour!
Videos are great for business, and still a hugely under-used marketing tool in most B2B sectors. You don’t have to spend thousands on them: bring in a modern video camera, get a decent salesman to demonstrate a product in a well-lit room, and you can have the results up on YouTube up before elevenses. It’s a great thing to point prospects towards, and it’s another tempting item for bloggers and news sites to include. The problem with video is in getting it to convert, even to website traffic. That’s because… Read More »Now it’s really worth uploading video content
Back in the mid-1990s, many companies didn’t have websites (my son, est.2001, doesn’t believe this). Those which did have one wanted to shout about it. Sensing an opportunity, many magazines (including the one I edited) introduced a section where advertisers could show pictures of their websites and – with any luck – attract a few readers to type the URL into their copy of Netscape Navigator. Well, there weren’t really any search engines then, so telling people about your website was the only way to get visitors. I think this… Read More »I’ve got a website. Gosh, really?
Jackie West writes: One of the attractions of Business Marketing Online is that it’s aimed specifically at helping business-to-business marketing, and in particular, the manufacturing, scientific and building sectors. So we thought it might be useful to look at the training side of things, and see if our approach proves as attractive to you there too. We’re arranging a couple of workshops (in September and November) which will be hosted and presented by Chris Rand, together with an expert guest speaker. The cost for the day will be £400, and… Read More »One-day Workshops this autumn
Susan Hallam has had a right old go at BT’s “Web Clicks” service, and her controlled demolition is well worth a read. She reports that there seems to be “a carpet bombing telemarketing campaign” on this one, so you’d be well advised to know your facts when they call. It seems that despite all the sources BT claims it will get you “contacts” from, it’s likely that most will come from good old pay-per-click advertising. Funnily enough, the fixed-cost approach to managing PPC advertising (e.g Google AdWords) is one which… Read More »A closer look at BT’s “Web Clicks” service
I’m delighted to be able to tell you that Jackie West has joined us on the Business Marketing Online team. If you haven’t met Jackie before, she was most recently the marketing manager for Pro-Talk, and before that was, for many years, the Marketing Communications Manager for SMC Pneumatics in Milton Keynes – so she will certainly understand the opportunities and problems you’re facing at the moment. A number of you have started to ask us for additional services, such as AdWords campaign management, and Jackie will be ensuring that… Read More »A new friendly face on the team
Today, like yesterday, I’ve been inspired by Mark Simms, Editor of Industrial Technology magazine. I was his predecessor there, and I think he’s just passed my ten years in the hot seat, so we’ve seen a lot of changes between us. Mark reckons that the immediacy and effectiveness of modern product advertising, coupled with a decline in brand advertising, could be detrimental to the quality of product design. If a component which will just “do the job” can be sourced quickly and cheaply, without any real advice from a knowledgeable… Read More »A long drawn out engagement
We seem to have a bit of a theme going on this week. Following my article on Monday about the problems being faced by trade magazines, I got into some interesting correspondence with my former colleague Mark Simms, Editor of Industrial Technology magazine, one of the few titles which is refusing to panic in the current market conditions. Mark has some fascinating theories about the trend away from brand advertising towards measurable response advertising, which I’ll mention tomorrow. This sort of thoughtful analysis is why I’m sure that independent publishers… Read More »Filling the advertising vacuum
If you’ve got 3 minutes spare to watch a video, take a look at this one by Matt Cutts, one of the few public faces of Google’s search team, talking about why some directories are great to be in, and others are considered “spam”. I guess what we can take away from this is to avoid being in directories which clearly don’t have any “editorial quality”, and certainly never consider paying to be in them. I firmly believe that the only use for directories is in the value Google puts… Read More »Don’t waste your time on directories
Yesterday I mentioned Michael Jackson’s untimely death last week, pointing out how – for once – the daily newspapers got a chance to be the place where many people first found out about the story. But did the web cover itself in glory on this one? Well, the story was broken on a website, it’s true. But for most people, the web is the search engines (especially Google), and as Search Engine Journal illustrates in Microsoft Bing FAILS in Coverage, Twitter and Facebook Break News, the search engines were all… Read More »Things are changing. Tell your friends.
Late on Thursday evening, the most famous pop star in the world died. I wouldn’t have liked to have been working on a daily newspaper that night (talk about “clear the front page!” chaos) but the timing was extraordinarily fortuitous for the UK papers: a massive story which broke after most people had gone to bed, but just in time for it to be splashed on their front pages. There’s about a one-hour slot each day when that can happen. But it doesn’t happen often enough, which is one reason… Read More »Gloomy times for your favourite trade magazine
I’ve let the first anniversary of this blog slip past without any acknowledgement, so belated happy birthday, blog. I’ll download you a new plug-in or something. Anyway, although I’m delighted to have over 500 of you getting this by email every day, as well as a decent number of RSS readers and of course all the casual web traffic, we need to push on. So I’m just wondering, if I ask very nicely, if you’d do me a favour and recommend this to a colleague or two. Or perhaps you’re… Read More »Onwards and upwards
Naming product ranges, or even individual products, is more important than ever. While consumer electronics companies still think it makes sense to present the public with full engineering part numbers (despite nobody ever saying “Have you seen the new KDL46W4000U at Currys?”), they are at least investing in the ranges’ brand names nowadays. In the technical sector, however, some manufacturers still seem to think it’s almost an admission of weakness to give products a brand, or an image of any sort. And this despite the fact that both sales teams… Read More »Naming names
A short post – Conversion Rate Exercise: Why Should I Do Business With You? – on the Marketing Optimization Blog puts forward a couple of good ideas inspired by social media which might help you clarify what your company’s unique selling propositions are. The majority of businesses we come across in any walk of life seem to find it hard to focus on what they’re offering that others aren’t – and consequently give you the impression that they have no better reason why you should buy from them other than,… Read More »People should buy from you. But why?
Another great post from Smashing Magazine – Informative And Usable Footers In Web Design – looks at what to put in this small and neglected but important part of your website. What do people expect when they scroll to the very bottom of the page? It would appear they want “About” and “Contact” information, some sort of link to an index or site map, and (on long pages) a “Back to the Top” link. Obvious really, but does your site have these in place? I run about 20 websites, and… Read More »The importance of the footer
The Marketing Optimization Blog is amongst a number of blogs in the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which has been making uneasy noises about the subject recently. In Will Google Judge You Guilty of SEO? it hints that a dramatic Google update might be coming (there’s no real evidence for this) and that sites which have been manipulating Google results might be caught out. Now, I’ve been to some search engine optimisation conferences, and although many of the people working in the area are very smart indeed, I’ve never… Read More »Search Engine Optimisation: risky business?
Keeping an in-house database “clean” is such a dull job that it can hang around at the bottom of the to-do list permanently. In 10 signs your in-house database needs help BEFORE you launch another program, the B2B Lead Blog lists the sort of problems lurking in most databases. I’m sure many of you will recognise more than one of them. In the comments, there’s a reference to a claim made last year that clean data can scale up to huge gains in revenue. I’m sure it’s true. And one… Read More »How’s your in-house database looking?
Once upon a time we used to get really irritated when a web page didn’t load instantly, because it was so large, and our connection ot the internet was so slow. Nowadays we all have fast connections, but as everyone knows, there are still plenty of pages out there which take ages to load (or don’t even load properly at all) …and that’s probably because they’re badly designed, and are making calls to outside elements which aren’t loading quickly enough. The “Web 2.0” design philosophy which has swept the web… Read More »How big is yours then?
The ever-fascinating Copyblogger discusses the use of language in copywriting in Five Ways to Persuade Like a Silver-Tongued Trial Lawyer. After I supported the consensus the other day that most press releases are rubbish, this is a nice companion piece. Copyblogger says that lawyers have to understand how to make their language accessible to the “man on the street” when addressing juries. But although this is an astute observation, the lesson for us all is to write with the end-user in mind. That may mean making our writing more technical… Read More »Talk to your audience at their level
Google Webmaster Tools updated recently with a new design and a load of new information. If you don’t have this set up on your company website, ask whoever set the site up why they didn’t include this as standard (well, after you’ve finished slapping them) and get it installed right away. It’s free, and gives you loads of great information about your site, including what searches you’re appearing for, and which ones you’re actually getting clicked on for. If Google has problems crawling your site, or if there are broken… Read More »What’s Google found on your website?
Google’s AdWords system works brilliantly for certain products – ones which people need, and are looking for. Conversely, if your product is something people didn’t know they wanted, it’s useless; although as an advertiser, it won’t cost you anything if your ad never shows or gets clicked on. The real waste in AdWords spending turns out not to be in advertising products which nobody’s looking for. It’s in spending too much and not looking at the return. Think about AdWords like you would eBay. The highest bidder wins the day,… Read More »Think about AdWords like eBay
Keyword research is so important. What are your prospects typing into search engines? You need to know before you can start optimising your website to rank higher in Google, and you need to know if you want to set up an Adwords campaign. I suggest to our Insider Programme members right at the start that they try to compile a list of 20 to 50 priority search terms from the outset, because these can affect so many areas of website development. There are plenty of tools to help, and plenty… Read More »Keywords: the answer may be in the question
B2B Rainmaker covers a subject I’ve been banging on about for years in Why most press releases suck and are a waste of time. As an industrial trade magazine editor for nearly 15 years, I probably read (or at least glanced at) anything from 50,000 to 100,000 press releases, and as editor of Engineeringtalk from 2000 to 2007, I either edited or supervised the publishing of another 50,000. I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen just about everything. And it’s true: most press releases are rubbish, including those from… Read More »Who are your press releases written for?
Too many companies redesign their websites for the same (poor) reason they like to redesign their logo: because they can’t think of anything better to do. However, there are a number of good reasons to redesign and relaunch your website, including getting rid of an outdated content management system, updating presentation for current browsers, or reflecting a change of company circumstances. It’s not surprising then that web design agencies are still fairly busy, even in recessionary times. It’s a fact though that designers are rarely given a really good brief.… Read More »Two things to remember before redesigning a website
Blogstorm reports that a website in Holland has lost a lawsuit brought about by its Google results seeming to imply that a company had gone bankrupt, despite not actually saying that on the page. This has some wide implications. If you type in a two-word query into Google, the search engine will return a list of pages which feature both words. For each page, you’ll see the title, and under that, a couple of lines of text. If the two words are in close proximity on the page, those two… Read More »Can you get your Google results changed quickly?
If you thought Google Analytics just analysed page views, it’s time to think again. A feature called “Event Tracking” has been slowly introduced (it was first announced nearly two years ago) and it’s now available on all accounts. What Event Tracking does is to allow you to record actions which aren’t page views on your site, such as downloading a PDF, clicking an outbound link, watching a video or even those smart interactions with your website which don’t involve a new page being called (usually done with what’s known as… Read More »Google Analytics Event Tracking – an introduction
We all know the call to action on every advert, every sales letter and indeed, every web page, can make or break all the effort you’ve put into creating it. So every time I come across another decent set of reminders about what to put in your call to action, you’ll see it here. It’s something we all need to absorb by constant repetition. 7 Tips for Effective Calls to Action on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog says that you need to be urgent, specific, well positioned, easy to follow… Read More »A better call to action
Ron Brauner’s Blog reminds us of “one of the most successful marketing headlines of all time” in Free Marketing Headlines. What is it? The customer testimonial. However, getting customer testimonials can be awkward and even embarrassing. When asked directly by someone to say something nice about them, can you say no, even if you want to? And you don’t want to put customers in a difficult position. Here’s a technique I recently used for a client, which produced results that bowled us over (and not just the one from the… Read More »Avoiding awkwardness in getting customer testimonials
I’ve been digesting a fascinating article about the taxonomy of search today (don’t worry, I read these things so you don’t have to), and it’s given me a number of ideas for subjects to cover in future articles here. However, I’d like to pull out one almost incidental statistic from the article and discuss its implications: the volume of searches looking for your company name. Apparently, nearly a quarter of web searches are “navigational”; in other words, the searcher just wants to find your site. They either don’t know or… Read More »Number one for your name. But is that enough?
Sometimes there’s an assumption that because we’re in the business-to-business sector, our websites are entirely informational and we’re not really involved in selling online. I’m guilty of making that assumption, which suggests I don’t know my audience; I just had a look at the websites belonging to ten random readers, and two offered online shopping. If the sample can be scaled up, that means over 100 of you have to address the particular technology and operational demands of a “web store”, a task which can be tricky. Anyway, here’s a… Read More »Minimising the people who leave the store empty-handed
Have you ever seen Google results for companies where there are maps, photos and business information? These are are actually part of Google Maps but appear in the Google search results and are all part of a wider move from Google to be able to provide the same services as business directories. Claim your Google listing, now! on B2Blog suggests that you “claim” control of your business’ listing immediately, and add the relevant details. I agree, and I’m off to get our entry sorted right away.