By Branduin Team member Bee Primrose
There have always been those in marketing who think that using jargon puts them in a superior position to their clients and there will always be some clients who are intimidated by these tactics. The fact is, as one generation learns and moves on, another moves in and the patterns are repeated. This article provides some insight into Internet Marketing to help dispel the mystique.
If you lack confidence in your technical knowledge or lack self-belief when presented with gobbledegook, read on. Primary advice is: Don't Panic!
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
- First, taking a step backwards: do you need Internet presence? The probable answer is yes but there are many different reasons. You may want people to find you or you may just need a convenient place to store information in case you need to refer someone to it. It's probably cheaper than printing and reprinting. This is not the same question as 'do you need a web site?' For example, Internet presence may be satisfied by a blog that most people are capable of updating for themselves.
- Assuming you have a web site, has it been Optimised? Optimisation refers to the quality of content and coding conventions. Your web site should be reviewed every two or three years to ensure that it still performs on the most popular browsers - what looks fine on Internet Explorer version 6 can look completely different on IE7, IE8, FireFox, Opera or Chrome.
- You can help search engines to find your web site pages and site structure with a sitemap. This is not the same as a site map with links for people to browse your site content, it is a file that search engines use for site information, usually called sitemap.xml and uploaded to your root directory. The easiest way to create a site map is to use a free service on the Internet and follow the instructions. You can find one by searching for 'sitemap generator'.
- Do you know how to view the source code of your own web site? On most browsers, Page Source can be found under View. Now what? You see source code but it may as well be hieroglyphics? Along the top bar will probably be a Find or Search function, which may be under Edit. Look for the word 'title' between less-than greater-than symbols, i.e. <title> which will usually describe your web site page content. This is of great importance for search engines to establish the keywords you believe are most important on this page therefore it should not just say 'home page' but rather something like this: "unique green Martian jellies and sweets for sale by UK jelly mould manufacturer and jelly confectioner, Jolly Jellies of Harwich."
- Check some of the other pages of your web site. All the page titles should be unique and relevant to the page content.
- Each page should have the most important information as a header between <H1> and </H1>, similarly, sub-headers can use <H2> </H2>, <H3> </H3>, etc. in order of importance.
- If there are images on your web site, hover over them to see whether descriptive text is displayed. In the source code, Search/Find <img src (without the closing >) and in the tags there should be alt="xx" and title="xx" (where xx is a meaningful image description). These will display the descriptive text on IE and FireFox/Chrome respectively. One or both of these are commonly omitted by designers and some source code generators. Describing the image is a further opportunity to put relevant text on the page for search engines as well as to enhance the information for partially sighted or those who have images turned off in their browsers.
- Now for the easy bit - written content. Well-written content with relevant words is best for both search engines and people looking for whatever it is you're telling them. Use nouns rather than pronouns to add clarity and keyword content. Whenever there is a real opportunity to link a specific word or phrase to further information on another page of your web site, link it in. If you are linking off-site, consider having the new site open in another page or tab. Unless you are comfortable with coding in html, don't do it yourself.
By all means, let a professional review and make suggestions but don't pay someone to intimidate you!
Page 1 Google and Pay Per Click
Some companies guarantee to put you on page 1 of Google. Be aware of the differences between SERPS (search engine results pages) also known as organic results and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising results. With PPC, anyone can be on page 1 at a price. This needs to be the subject of another article.
Only Google is in a position to guarantee page 1 organic results on their pages and they don't (not for money). Decide which keywords are important to you - the shorter the keyword search phrase, the harder it is to be unique and to be on page 1. It's easy to be on page 1 with keywords that are too precise to relate to anyone else, e.g. "the gas powered roller skates company" but there is a lot of competition for more generic terms such as "roller skates" so make sure the important keyword or phrase is prominent in the content of your web site: in the page <title> tags, in <h1></h1> tags and, where possible, in links from the same or similar phrase on other web sites, blogs, etc., pointing to your web page.
It doesn't matter if you can't code and upload this for yourself. What matters is that you have enough knowledge to understand what you are paying for.
Internet Marketing - boosting your web site rankings
Links from other web sites, blogs etc. indicate to search engines that your site has valuable content. If you are able to spend time creating blog posts, do so regularly (at least once a month) and include links from keywords in the blog text to the relevant page of your web site. You may also be able to write and submit press releases and articles. You could also use Twitter and Facebook as promotional tools.
Whatever you choose to do has to be done on a regular basis which is why, if you don't have time, it is worth contracting a freelance professional to spend an hour or two a month to provide this service for you. Yes, they will pester you for content and this is a good thing. Take a benchmark at the start of the contract and review the service and results every 3 or 4 months throughout the relationship.
You are then free to focus on your core business.