Our Daily Articles: Complete Index 2008–2020

Number one for your name. But is that enough?

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?

Minimising the people who leave the store empty-handed

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

Google becoming a business directory: are you on?

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.

Is filling up your title tag with your company name a waste?

Ah, title tags. Such a small thing, such a huge effect. Here at Business Marketing Online, we have a brilliant little tool (available to our Insider Programme Pro subscribers) which crawls your site, and lists all of the pages in a spreadsheet, along with their title tag, meta description tag, headlines, etc. It’s a total eye-opener for everyone who uses it. And the one thing I see time and time again is the same title tag repeated on dozens of pages. The result? You’re not telling Google what’s on the… Read More »Is filling up your title tag with your company name a waste?

Do you have a backup of your website?

Online surveys are great. I’ve been told of someone sitting in a marketing meeting, opening up their laptop, creating a one-question survey, firing it off to 1000 customers, and getting 100 responses back within the hour, while the meeting was still in progress. Now that’s the way to make decisions. Anyway, last week I was going to write about website hosting, and I thought: “I wonder what the readers pay?” Within five minutes I’d written a question, and five minutes later I’d emailed it to all of you. It hardly… Read More »Do you have a backup of your website?

Don’t throw your leads away at the last moment

Another success story for you today, again from an Insider Programme member. This company’s very mature website was producing plenty of name-and-address sales enquiries, thanks to good design which led visitors slickly through the product descriptions and onto an enquiry form. But although most visitors moving on to the form were completing it, some weren’t, and the company wondered if the design of the form might be putting people off. Nearly all enquiry forms on business-to-business websites ask for far too much information, usually because the Sales Director has insisted… Read More »Don’t throw your leads away at the last moment

Show that you’re the authority on the subject

I’d like to share one or two success stories with you this week, as well as report back on our recent survey. To kick off, a tale of how a company (a member of our Insider Programme Pro, as it happens) sailed straight into the top ten Google results for one of its major generic product terms, when it previously hadn’t even been able to get on the first few pages. What was making it hard for the company to get on to the first page of Google was the… Read More »Show that you’re the authority on the subject

Live chat on your website for free

Just a quickie, as it’s a bank holiday – something you might like to consider for your website. You know those “Live Instant Message Chat” buttons you see on some websites? People really like those. Even if they don’t use them, it gives off a nice warm feeling that your company cares. Well, it’s quite possible to put one of those on for free, using Google Talk. If you have a Google account, and your prospect does (and an increasing number of people do), then here’s what you need. You… Read More »Live chat on your website for free

The only way to attract Google’s interest

When you put something new on your website, you want Google to find it quickly. Not just because you want interest from day one (although that would be nice), but because you want your page to be accredited by Google as the primary one about that product, not the page on What’s New in Widgets Online which ran your press release a few days later. Here’s how it works. Google comes to your site. It looks exactly the same as last time. A week later, Google comes to your site… Read More »The only way to attract Google’s interest

Creative thinking required

Today I’d like some ideas from you. A company I know is moving premises (halfway across the country) and is preparing a not insubstantial mailshot (postal and email) to its customers to let them know of the change. The change of premises won’t really affect customers. Here’s the question though: is it appropriate to sneak in any marketing messages with this important update? Could the news be used as a hook to offer something? What do you think? Let us know below.

Do you get your message over quickly enough?

Even if you’re writing about something people are genuinely interested in, such as the Champions League Final, or Star Trek, or cute pets, you’ve only got a few lines to grab their attention and persuade them to keep reading. If you’re writing about pressure transducers, or LEDs, or spectrophotometers, they’re probably bored before they start, only reading about this stuff because they have to. You’re going to have to work even harder to get them enthusiastic about what you have to say. And yet nine out of ten* product pages… Read More »Do you get your message over quickly enough?

Another good link-building idea for you

More on link-building today (that’s two in a week!), but this time a link to a short article which just happens to have a really good idea on it. Do you have distributors? Do they link to you, or would they be prepared to? Here’s the deal. Do the work for them, and get the links you want. Instead of them giving you a simple link, see if they put a whole page about you (which you’ll provide) on their site, and they can link to that instead. On that… Read More »Another good link-building idea for you

When will you get your last ever magazine ad rep calling?

A contributor to a chat group for PR consultants which I run recently posted a communication from a well-known industrial magazine, which said that from now on the publication “will give editorial preference to those companies who are supporting us whether this is through display advertising or colour separation revenue”. As someone who edited industrial magazines, in print and online, for nearly twenty years, I’m not sure how to take this. If, as an editor, the companies whose news you’re allowed to cover is restricted, your magazine will be significantly… Read More »When will you get your last ever magazine ad rep calling?

A bunch more ideas for getting links to your site

As you know, I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to have a programme in place aimed at generating links to your website. Look, it’s May, and in a few weeks’ time there’ll be no end of self-confident, web-literate students looking for a summer job. I bet that in six weeks, one of these could generate enough links for you that you could increase your Google traffic significantly. Let’s say you get 100 visitors a day to your website, and a stronger presence in Google from a few… Read More »A bunch more ideas for getting links to your site

The geeks will inherit the web

Woah, web search just got a whole lot more complicated. For website owners, that is. Google has wheeled out a whole new bunch of features in its search results, and I’m sure some of them will prove useful enough to eventually become mainstream. If you do a Google search such as this then click the “show options” link and you’ll see a number of new ways of exploring the data. A few have been knocking around for a while, but the new link should make them get a lot more… Read More »The geeks will inherit the web

What to do with pages about old products and events

A common scenario in industry is for the sales manager to stick his head around the marketing manager’s door and say “Now that we’ve got the Red Widget 2, I’d like all references to the original Red Widget removed from the website”, which leads to the marketing manager doing just that, by deleting the relevant pages. This is a mistake for so many reasons. Never just delete pages. Firstly, you’d managed to get your original Red Widget page onto the first page of the Google results for “red widgets”. Now… Read More »What to do with pages about old products and events

Start by defining what a sales lead actually is

As an aside, the article I’m linking to today is a good example of a way of creating good original content for your website – arrange for you (or an expert from your company) to be interviewed for your own website! That’s what Brian Carroll of the B2B Lead Generation blog has done in Using Kaizen to Improve your Lead Generation Results in 90 Days or Less, and there’s no doubt the result is a fascinating read, even if it’s (presumably) only restating the message which the subject of the… Read More »Start by defining what a sales lead actually is

Vanity URLs – not for the vain

A ‘vanity URL’ sounds like a vanity number plate, but it’s nothing to do with showing off. It can be a crucial element in successful web marketing. A vanity URL is a nice, short web address which is used in place of a horrible long one. For example, supposing as marketing manager of the Red Widget Company, you launch a new fastest-ever widget and that clunky old website content management system you’ve been saddled with decides the web page you’ve created about the product is going to be www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/products/database/40765/9432b.html Doesn’t… Read More »Vanity URLs – not for the vain

Being there when they decide to stop doing nothing

Here’s another one of Seth Godin’s thought-provoking Seth’s Blog posts. Pick anything – the calculus of change points out that the default position for most customers is “do nothing”. If they don’t know whether there’s anything in it for them if they do something, then they’ll do nothing. Therefore if you want them to do something, you need to pick the moment when they have to make a choice. Now, for us in industry, it’s difficult to find out when they’re going to have to make a choice (although the… Read More »Being there when they decide to stop doing nothing

The basics of pay-per-click advertising

I find it hard to believe there are industrial companies out there which are still spending thousands of pounds a year on magazine advertising, or in directories, or on online banner ads …but are not using online pay-per-click (“PPC”) advertising at all. Look, by all means, if you’re spending as much as makes sense on Google AdWords, and you still have advertising budget left over, then by all means spread the love a bit. But start at the top, for goodness sake. It’s a bit like being asked “Who’s going… Read More »The basics of pay-per-click advertising

How to use social media to help define your company’s image

I’ve made a few comments recently which suggest that when it comes to industrial marketing, I don’t think much of the “social media” stuff which is exciting so many people at the moment. I was really just trying to say that you shouldn’t invest time or money in (say) setting up a Twitter feed if your main marketing aim at the moment is to find new ways to generate sales enquiries. But as I’ve also written, social media doesn’t necessarily require substantial investment in time or money, and in terms… Read More »How to use social media to help define your company’s image

Why you need to learn to be a copywriter

If you’d been doing the job you’re now doing thirty years ago, you’d have had a secretary to type stuff up for you, but over the years – in the dubious name of efficiency – it’s been decided that it’d be better if you’re made to type your own stuff up, slowly, and the company can save the cost of the secretary. You’re expected to have those skills, even if you almost certainly haven’t been trained in them. Similarly, more and more marketing people are doing their own copywriting, when… Read More »Why you need to learn to be a copywriter

“Better than chocolate” (it says here)

It’s a bank holiday, we shouldn’t be fretting about our websites, we should be having fun. So go and have a play with sloganizer.net – just type in your company name, products, services or whatever. It’s quite addictive.

Does your website reflect your customers’ buying process?

The vast majority of business-to-business (“B2B”) websites fail to acknowledge what makes many B2B sales different from High Street sales: the long buying cycle, often involving different people. While you know how your customers’ buying process works, does your website reflect that? Does it provide something for every stage of the buying cycle? I bet it doesn’t. A good illustration of this is given in Can your Website Handle the Complexity of your Sale? on FutureNow’s Marketing Optimization Blog. It suggests, rightly, that the minimum your website should offer is… Read More »Does your website reflect your customers’ buying process?

I just want to see you doing some (any!) form of link building

As you know, I’ve promised to bang on about link-building until I hear that more of you are doing it. I can’t understand people who are happy to throw hundreds or thousands of pounds at “search engine optimisation” consultancy (which rarely includes a good link-building component) but wouldn’t spend the same on hiring a part-time administrator to get some good links to the website – an exercise which would be far more profitable. It’s an ideal job for that school-leaving marketing assistant. Here’s what to do. Find out who your… Read More »I just want to see you doing some (any!) form of link building

Everything I know, and more, for just £100.

If you missed our earlier announcement, we have a new low-cost version of our Insider Programme available, and as most people like to join at the start of the month, today would be a good day for you to give us a call and get on board. We’re offering a package of three genuinely great things to UK industrial businesses, for the incredibly low cost of £100 a month. There’s no commitment, so you really must be able to find £100 to give it a go for the first month.… Read More »Everything I know, and more, for just £100.

Google Alerts keep you on top of the industry

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

It’s never too late to start your email newsletter

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

The types of Unique Visitors to your website you should avoid

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

Why you should get us to manage Google AdWords for you

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

Take advantage of those one-line sitelinks

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

Keep reading the copywriting tips until they sink in

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

A leading-edge marketing communications solution

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

This one won’t go down well with some of the SEO consultancies

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

Can you get sales leads from Twitter, Facebook, etc?

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?

Should you write longer page titles?

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?

Our new website launches a range of marketing services

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

What does your home page tell you?

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?

Do you have a problem with duplicate content?

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?

Watch this video

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.

Running your company’s website on WordPress

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

Finding those hidden gems on your website

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

Why you’ll only ever scratch the surface of AdWords

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

Read this article; you’ll be glad that you did

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

Better related searches: another step towards SkyNet

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’s snippet scissors get a little larger

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

Sensible tips for your next website redesign

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

Why there are no runners-up prizes in Google

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

Announcement: The £100 Insider Programme is launched

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

Empathy has always been the key in industrial marketing

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