I’ve been delighted to have helped a couple of clients set up company blogs this month, and I’m excited to see how they develop. One of the biggest challenges, which both of these go-ahead companies seem ready for, will be to come up with ideas of things to write (or to get written, because it is quite permissible to commission writers for your blogs, you know!). And this is another area where Google Alerts can be really useful. If there are any of you who don’t already use Google Alerts,… Read More »Google Alerts keep you on top of the industry
Our Daily Articles: Complete Index 2008–2019
The most common sentiment I hear nowadays from companies which don’t do email newsletters for customers and prospects is along the lines of “well, we’ve never done one”, implying that “we wish we had, but it’s too late now”. That makes no sense whatsoever. You’re not in competition with anyone! Look at it this way. Do you wish that you (or your predecessors) had set up an email newsletter for customers and prospects years ago, so it would have built up a really nice circulation by now? Well, if you… Read More »It’s never too late to start your email newsletter
It took me years to get my head around the concept of “unique visitors” to a website, as mentioned in your friendly local web analytics program (probably). Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik explains what they are, and what the different types you hear about mean, in Standard Metrics Revisited: Daily, Weekly, Monthly Unique Visitors from his Occam’s Razor blog. It’s a long article, but straightforwardly-explained throughout, so do bear with it, and you’ll be rewarded with an understanding of a crucial concept. Most importantly, it will explain why “Daily”, “Weekly” and… Read More »The types of Unique Visitors to your website you should avoid
Those of you who have looked at our new home page will be aware of the range of contract and advisory services which we’re now able to offer here at Business Marketing Online. Google AdWords Management is attracting the most interest at the moment, from all of these types of clients: Companies who have looked at AdWords, but aren’t using it because it seemed like hard work (it is!) and they know they won’t have the time; Companies who are using AdWords but who know they’re not spending enough time… Read More »Why you should get us to manage Google AdWords for you
Google Webmaster Central announced the other day that we’re going to be seeing a lot more one line sitelinks from now on. If you’re thinking “one-line what?”, have a look at the post, and be sure to read on. Sitelinks are those “additional” links you might get in the Google results for your company name if your brand and website is considered to be strong enough. Industrial examples include tesa and Lee Spring. See all those smaller, secondary links underneath the main result for the company? They’re the links which… Read More »Take advantage of those one-line sitelinks
There are many good sources of advice on writing for the web, but when you’re knocking out copy for your site, it’s not practical to keep referring to checklists. You need the right way of doing things to be second nature. Sadly, the only way this is going to happen will be if you regularly read articles on online copywriting, so I shall regularly point out good ones here, in the hope that you’ll have time to read them and the suggestions will begin to sink in. Ten Copywriting Tips… Read More »Keep reading the copywriting tips until they sink in
OK, here’s one of those things you can have a bit of fun with, although you might be peering through your fingers in embarassment at the results if you use it on your own material. Gobbledygook Grader analyses text you paste in (like your latest press release) and grades it for corporate jargon. It’s fun, and I’d recommend you read the author’s The Gobbledygook Manifesto while you’re at it. My only criticism is that it appears not to highlight use of the word “solution”, my own bete noire for many… Read More »A leading-edge marketing communications solution
For those of you who instinctively think that because you sell widgets, you need to throw everything you’ve got at getting to number one in Google for “widgets”, here’s another good article to make you realise that you can spend your time more productively. How to make money with SEO on Seth’s Blog says that you’re wasting your time, for two reasons: you’ll probably never get to number one, and anyway, do you really want all that traffic from such a general enquiry? Unfortunately, search engine consultants can make more… Read More »This one won’t go down well with some of the SEO consultancies
If you’re wondering if (or to what extent) your company should get involved in social media, there’s a good article called Is social media effective for B2B lead generation? on the Sales Lead Insights B2B Marketing blog which suggests that there’s not much evidence (to the author, at least) that it can produce sales leads. And for most of us, that’s what this marketing lark is all about. I agree; I’ve not seen much evidence either. The likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc definitely have a role to play if… Read More »Can you get sales leads from Twitter, Facebook, etc?
Plenty of aspects of search engine optimisation are contentious. When it comes to page titles (that’s the title which appears on the top of the browser, not the headline on the page), I always recommend that you keep things to 70 characters or fewer, so that Google will reproduce the title exactly as you wrote it, in full, in its results. We cover this, and other related subjects, early on in our Insider Programme. However, there’s evidence that Google does take into account what happens after that point in longer… Read More »Should you write longer page titles?
When you spend a lot of your time advising people how to do something, it’s only natural that they’ll look at your activities with a critical eye. So as I (proudly!) announce a new home page on the Business Marketing Online website, I have a slight degree of trepidation as to what you all might think. Did I remember my title and meta description tags? Does the site fall to pieces in Internet Explorer 8, or look strange on enormous monitors? I’m sure you’re going to take great delight in… Read More »Our new website launches a range of marketing services
Although most of us are fixated with pages deep within websites, where people with highly specific searches in Google usually arrive, we shouldn’t neglect our home pages. Now, I’m assuming your website’s home page isn’t still stuck in the 1990s with the fatal words “skip movie”, or “sign in to access the site”, or “please tell us what country you’re in”. I think we can safely assume that most B2B sites have moved on from that, and now try to explain concisely that the company does indeed do what the… Read More »What does your home page tell you?
If a page on your site can be accessed with more than one URL (http://….), this can cause difficulties with the search engines, which might consider you’re repeating the same page over and over again, even though you’re not intending this to happen. The search engines may divide up the “strength” of the pages between the different versions they think they can see, and indeed, external links may be divided between the versions too. But do you suffer from this problem? It’s hard to know. In Quickly Find Your Site… Read More »Do you have a problem with duplicate content?
This six-and-a-half minute video really made me laugh, but there’s also a good message in here to for any of us who send out emails to our customers, and I would just love to grab many of the authors of the B2B marketing emails I receive and sit them down in front of this. Sadly, the people who are most likely to find it funny are probably also the same ones who realise what they’re doing wrong. Still, terrific stuff. The video is by Email Marketing Reports.
If your company’s website is run using a “content management system” which allows new pages to be added easily by non-IT people, and which enables changes to the design to be made across the site quickly, then you’re lucky. If not, you may have had occasion to think “there must be an easier way”. And indeed there is. WordPress began life several years ago as an application for publishing blogs; this blog is run with WordPress. The reason WordPress became so successful, apart from the fact it was free, was… Read More »Running your company’s website on WordPress
I’ve been playing with a tool called Linkscape a lot recently; although it costs money, it provides some fascinating insights into your website, and it’s the sort of tool which is essential if you’re undertaking any “search engine optimisation” (aka “get my site ranking better in Google!”) programme. One of my favourite reports from this tool is a list of the Top Pages on a Domain, i.e the ones which probably carry the most clout with the search engines. Why do you need to know this? Because these are the… Read More »Finding those hidden gems on your website
The art and science of Google AdWords advertising has a level of complexity which none of us with other responsibilities will ever be able to cope with. Even if you have nothing to do with AdWords, have a quick glance at Do Not Overlook the Importance of the Display URLs in PPC Ads on SEOmoz. This article reveals some fascinating results on what’s normally considered the least important part of an AdWords ad, the fourth line with the company URL on it. Look at the length of the article! If… Read More »Why you’ll only ever scratch the surface of AdWords
Calls to action can make or break any advertisement, online or offline. One of the nice things about online marketing is that it’s easier to test one call to action against another to see what works; but as I’ve said before, we often don’t get enough response in business-to-business marketing to be able to compare things in a statistically valid way. I just looked through a well-known engineering trade magazine and a well-known laboratory news website, and in both cases, the display adverts fell into three roughly equally-sized camps: those… Read More »Read this article; you’ll be glad that you did
Yesterday I discussed at the first of two changes from Google, the increased length of the “snippets” in the results. Today I’ll look at the other development, which is a little more vague at the moment. It’s the introduction of “a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search” – in other words, although you might have typed in one word, Google will understand that you might just as easily have typed in another related one, and so it should show you results mixing both.… Read More »Better related searches: another step towards SkyNet
Google rolled out a couple of updates last week, and here’s my take on the first of them, and how it affects you. If you’re using a search engine optimisation consultancy, make sure you ask them how their advice to you is changing as a result. The more instantly obvious of the changes concerns the description or “snippet” part of the results. Traditionally Google has served up the title of your page and then two secondary lines of text, which would be your meta description tag if that contained the… Read More »Google’s snippet scissors get a little larger
I’ve been arranging for some website redesigns for clients recently. I don’t actually do the designs – there are graphic designers who can whip up a site in a quarter of the time it takes me – but I act as the interface between the person who knows their industry (that’s you) and the designer. Sometimes a little knowledge of both sides of a transaction isn’t a dangerous thing, it can be very useful. Good website designers know what works online, but they often have problems communicating that to clients,… Read More »Sensible tips for your next website redesign
Where do you want to be in the Google results? Top, presumably. But is second position nearly as good? What about third? The bad news for those of us with websites targeting informational queries (rather than transactional – i.e buying – queries) is revealed in SEO and Eye Tracking for Informational & Transactional Queries on Blogstorm. It would appear that anywhere in the top four is fine if you just want people to see your result, but unfortunately, unless your title in the results is extraordinary, just seeing the result… Read More »Why there are no runners-up prizes in Google
I’ve got a really exciting announcement to make today. You’d be excited too, if you were relaunching your company’s main product with some great extras …and an 80% price reduction compared to its predecessor. Because that’s exactly what we’re doing today here at Business Marketing Online, with our Insider Programme. We know there are a lot of you who love the idea of being taken through every aspect of your website, email marketing and online advertising, but need it to be at a really low cost. We’re responding. The new… Read More »Announcement: The £100 Insider Programme is launched
There’s some discussion going on in the more academic marketing world at the moment over whether emotional marketing has finally been beaten by rational marketing. This might seem a world away from our everyday concerns in the business-to-business sectors, but it does have some relevance. In Right-Brained or Left-Brained Branding? on Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog it highlights that this move might just be a misreading of consumers wanting reassurance rather than indulgence, a situation which most industrial marketers will take for granted as being normal. The article suggests that… Read More »Empathy has always been the key in industrial marketing
Running AdWords without conversion tracking is like flushing your money down the toilet. That’s a quote from Google AdWords Conversion Tracking 101/201/301 on Search Engine Journal, an in-depth article which ought to be of interest to you if you’re running a serious Google AdWords campaign. Those of us who routinely manage AdWords campaigns wouldn’t dream of not tracking response all the way through to some sort of conversion, but it’s obvious that many businesses don’t bother. And although it might come as a surprise, I can understand why they don’t.… Read More »The AdWords advantage, and why you should take it
Early in my career, I worked for a magazine whose publisher insisted on having weekly meetings to analyse all the competitive magazines’ latest issues. The meeting was not designed to discuss what our rivals had done well; it was supposed to generate ammunition with which to criticise them in front of customers. It was a pointless, negative waste of time, dreamed up by a middle management with no creative ideas. At the other extreme, football managers often say “I’m not worried about what our rivals did elsewhere tonight, I’m just… Read More »How to determine what your competitors are doing better
Within your company (whatever its size) is a massive resource of “how-to” information, much of it stored in the heads of tech support, installation and sales people. For almost every one of your company’s product lines, you could write general “how to install” or “how to use” articles; not designed for users, but designed to demonstrate to prospects what they’ll be able to do with your product, and (with any luck) how easy it is to do it. Couple this with the steady increase of “how-to” websites on the internet,… Read More »Why we should all become teachers
How many of us write an article, or a sales email, and only write the headline, or the subject line, at the very end? (Glances around audience) Yep, thought as much – that’ll be quite a lot of us. Although it goes against some of what I learned on my journalism training many years ago, I now firmly believe that every article or sales letter we write should start with the headline. Here’s why. Firstly, there’s a reason we’re writing the piece. If we know what that reason is, we… Read More »Three reasons why you should begin with the subject line
Advertising on search engines (e.g with Google AdWords) – or even optimising to appear high in the Google results – is hard if your product or service isn’t something which people seem to be looking for. Your technology may not be particularly well established, for example, or it might be unknown outside of the industry. I’ve managed an AdWords campaign for a client selling a technical product to relatively non-technical customers, who know what they want to do but don’t know what technology would achieve it. How Do I Use… Read More »Try to visualise yourself in the customer’s position
Thanks to the Hallam Communications blog for pointing out a small but interesting development for AdWords advertisers, in last Friday’s posting AdWords Displaying Favicons in Search Results. It would appear that Google has been testing putting little logos from the advertiser next to AdWords ads, and you can bet that this will become standard if it results in more clicks on the adverts, which I suspect it will. The logos are what are known as “favicons” and it gives me the excuse to tell you what these are and why… Read More »What is a “favicon”, and what’s the newest reason to have one?
In the late nineties, as an engineering magazine editor, I would often talk to industrial companies who still didn’t have a website, and were realising that they couldn’t get away with not having one much longer. What’s more, with their competitors having had one for some time, they were already at a disadvantage which it would be hard to overcome. It had been a bad decision not to go along with this new idea, as many were having to admit. Ten years later, I’m getting the same feeling about business… Read More »I think that every business should have a blog
Because I care a lot about search engine optimisation, and because search engine optimisation is primarily about the words, I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of graphical images on a website. By that I don’t mean the product photos (which are also important), but the little touches which can make all the difference to readability and – ultimately – conversion rate. Let’s face it, a page of text is ugly. It needs breaking up, and not just with endless rules and boxes. In web design, the nicest… Read More »Icons – decoration, yes, but so much more
I was helping one of our Insider Programme members last week with setting up a new email marketing programme, and it was a joy to be working with a company which is so open to new ideas and which wants to know what’s working at the moment (it made me do some homework!). I’ve tried to find an article for you all which summarises – and backs up – the advice I’ve given them, and here it is. “Purchasing email lists is NEVER a good idea. Ever.” on BeRelevant! gives… Read More »Emails: why buy or rent lists when you can make your own?
Thanks to Check Your Site Backlinks with LinkVooDoo on Search Engine Journal for alerting me to an excellent new online tool called LinkVooDoo which will analyse the incoming links to your site with an impressive level of sophistication. Checking incoming links is an important exercise in proper search engine optimisation, because you can’t really set about a link building campaign if you don’t know what you’ve got already. Also, if you can investigate the links to competitive sites, you can often find some great link opportunities. We already produce personalised… Read More »Check who’s linking to your website today
Website design today, and a nice post from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog which should make all of us take a second look at our own websites. In 9 Ways to Optimize Your Links and Draw Attention to Your Calls to Action we’re reminded that the most important links on every page need to stand out. Do yours? This is a really good article, with every one of the nine points having some merit – especially the one which reminds us to put a “call to action” link (the most… Read More »Gently nudging people in the right direction
Here’s one for those of us who are still not exactly convinced that “social media” should be high up the list of priorities for industrial business-to-business website managers. How does social media rank in influencing business technology purchase decisions? on Sales Lead Insights delves past the headline statistic in a recent report which shows how much technology decision-makers actively participate in social media. The article uncovers the less exciting, but far more important conclusion that “social media has yet to effectively influence a large part of the technology buying process.”… Read More »They’re not using Twitter to choose their suppliers yet
Is your advertising really aimed at enticing potential customers to do something you want? It should be. Unfortunately, if you browse through any trade magazine or website, you’ll see adverts which don’t seem to have any justification for having been placed at all, unless they were just to get rid of an ad sales rep who wouldn’t go away. Those small ads, sometimes as many as 12 on a page, at the back of magazines, telling you a company’s website address – what on earth are they all about? What… Read More »Why the response to most B2B advertising is so poor
(Note: if you want to get notifications of these posts via Twitter, you can join us at http://twitter.com/bmon/ ) The reason I believe businesses like yours should learn how to improve your own websites is because once you know what to do, you can do the job so much better than any affordable specialist consultant or third-party. Today I’m going to point you towards just one of the many advanced website optimisation techniques out there, and tell me if you think anyone chipping away at the edges of your website… Read More »Interlinking pages internally – (only) you can do all this
Aaron Wall, one of the most highly respected search engine experts in the world, reckons that the Google rankings have just undergone one of the most significant upheavals ever. The article Google’s New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding on his SEObook site is a complex read for anyone who only has a passing interest in the machinations of search engines, but it concludes that Google is now promoting brands more strongly. What does this mean? It means that you’re going to be more likely to see the… Read More »Your brand continues its inexorable rise to the top
The always-fascinating Marketing Sherpa website has produced a fantastic free document which I’d recommend everyone to go and download right now. The Marketing Wisdom 2009 Report is 50 pages of “real life stories and lessons learned” from its readers, many of whom are marketing managers in everyday businesses. There are 94 tips and anecdotes, the majority of which I found interesting – and a few of which I found really noteworthy. Go take a look.
Not sure about all this “social media” stuff when it comes to your business? Are things like Facebook and Twitter really relevant to selling blue widgets to serious-minded industrial buyers? Don’t worry, I’m as sceptical as the next person, although every time I see someone doing something clever with this stuff, I get just that little bit more open-minded about it. I did recommend LinkedIn to you all a couple of weeks ago, after all. So, can we use Facebook to our advantage? The Hallam Internet blog suggests it’s easy… Read More »Facebook: you might have some fans out there
Google Analytics has quickly become the website traffic analysis application of choice for small and medium sized businesses, because it does just about everything you could want, and it’s priced really attractively (that’ll be free then). But although it’s fairly easy to set up, there’s a steep learning curve if you’re really going to get anything useful out of it. Books have been written, and training courses are available, but one of the best resources I’ve seen has been produced by the Marketing Optimization Blog. Sure, it’s just a list… Read More »Google Analytics: an iceberg of tips
Unless you’ve been saddled with a really unlucky company name, you’ll be top in Google for that search. This is very important, because a large proportion of the people who want to find your company website nowadays just type your company name into Google, rather than type in your website URL in the address bar at the top of their browser. That’s why, if you look at your website stats, the top “search term” for traffic coming from Google is probably your company name. So if you’re “top in Google”… Read More »10 reasons to do AdWords for your own company name
Some of the stuff these “Search Engine Optimisation Consultants” (SEOs) do really scares me. Just as frightening is the trust which some people put in them: if you’re using one, do you know exactly what they’re doing? You really should do, and the good ones will tell you, of course. Search Engine Optimisation consists of two things: improving the “off-page” aspects of your website which are relevant to the search engines, and improving the “on-page” aspects. The “off-page” aspects are the ones which don’t modify your site, primarily generating good… Read More »I thought we’d got over “keyword density” by now
This is a neat idea. You’re probably all aware of the importance of the URL, title, description and headline on a page (our Insider Programme members certainly are!) but have you actually planned them all out? It’s quite a sensible strategy, because it allows you to see how they all work with each other, and as all you need is a grid, a fine tool for this is good old Microsoft Excel. The tip comes from Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO on Search Engine… Read More »Using a spreadsheet to get an overview of your web pages
A lot of businesses consider launching “microsites” away from their main website because they want to build something around a particular product, or campaign …or because they want to build an independent resource away from commercial considerations. These can really work well. Another reason to build a microsite, which I often see (but is rarely discussed) is because a company has no control over its website (“it’s all run by the Germans, I’m afraid”) …but realises it can get away with doing its own thing on a separate domain just… Read More »Microsites – a smart way to sidestep global HQ
There’ll always be a place in this blog for articles about wider marketing issues. And here’s a classic issue: how to handle customer complaints. In Learn to love negative feedback on B2B Marketing it reminds us that if things go wrong, the best and cheapest way to resolve complaints is to ask the customer what would make things right, as they’ll usually want less than they’d settle for if things got as far as negotiation. And critically, it’s been argued that customers who have had a problem which was successfully… Read More »Turn customer complaints into loyal business
Today I have a tremendous article which I want you to file away somewhere safely for the day when you decide to “redesign” your company’s website. Redesigning Your Website: Who’s Taking Care of the Content? on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog discusses the most important omission from almost every corporate website redesign: what is actually going to go on this great new website. If you talk to website designers, you’ll find that nine times out of ten, when they’re approached by a client, they’re told: “We’d like a redesigned,… Read More »Website redesign from the inside out
OK, this one’s going to sound a bit geeky, but it’s important enough that you should try to follow it through. The major search engines have announced that they are recognising a new tag which will help many websites, and which will probably result in some big changes in the search engine rankings. However, I suspect few will get around to implementing this new feature, so there’s a competitive advantage if you do. Here’s the problem. You might think that each page on your website only has one address, or… Read More »New Google “Canonical” tag specifies real URL of page