SEO is for life, not just for Christmas

I am frequently asked “when should I stop doing my SEO?” I suspect that this is because people are looking to stop either working on their website or paying somebody else to do the Search Engine Optimisation on their website

The SEO Triangle of Google, Bing and Yahoo

The answer, which might not be easy listening for some, is that you can only stop when either you have taken over all of your competition, when all of your competition cease to exist, or Google stops updating the way it ranks websites and your business website sites at the top of Page 1

I agree that it would be great if one could create a website, ensure that it is fully search optimised, click “publish” and watch the magic happen as people flock to the website and make purchases or submit enquiries.

And a lot of businesses still think that this is the way that things should be done. Great thought, and money, is invested in the design, the content, the logo, the colours etc but SEO tends to be at the bottom of the list.

I have lost count of the times that I have been asked to optimise a new website and spent time with the owner discussing the changes that are required to ensure that the site can be effectively optimised, rather than just paying lip-service to the requirements.

Sometimes a root and branch rebuild is the only way forwards.

The reality is that SEO should be as an important part of the website planning, development and build as the thought put in to the logo, the colours used, the pages required etc. It should be there, from the beginning – not considered an afterthought.

And once optimised, many website owners think “that’s it, site optimised, job done”.

The problem is that it can take several months for the SEO to have an impact (see “how long does SEO take” for more info). And you will probably find that your site ins’t in the hallowed top spot on Page 1. Your site might not even be on Page 1 so more work will be required.

And while you are doing this, so will your competitors – they’ll be trying to beat your website and working on their sites so you will have to keep working on yours.

And then there’s all the changes and updates that Google makes to the way that it measures and ranks websites – you need to be on top of those in case any changes made by Google have a negative impact on your website. And Google makes, on average, 9-10 changes PER DAY, every day

You should ONLY stop your SEO when one of 3 states is reached

  1. You take over ALL of your competition and prevent new startups from competing with you
  2. Your business is so good that all of your competitors fail
  3. You have reached the top of Page 1 and Google stops changing things

Daily changes to Google Search

In 2018 Google ran over 654,000 experiments. These will have been carried out by Google’s AI engines, trained external Search Raters and live tests. The outcome being 3,234 improvements to search, or 9 a day

We’ll never get to know, and understand, the majority of these improvements because most of them will be tweaks to the system. However, significant changes are often announced by Google or can be tracked by businesses interested in Google’s updates and quite a few people have published lists of known algorithm updates such as herehere and here.

The Competition

Carry out any search on Google and you’ll be presented with millions of results. Even a search for “jumpers for rats” returns over 6m results.

Google Search "jumpers for rats"

And we know, or should know, that a Page 1 result is all that really matters.

Why do Page 1 search results matter so much

That’s really simple to answer. Research shows how few Google users EVER make it off Page 1 of the search results – as delineated on the graph below by the dotted line at “10” – and just 10% make it on to Page 3

Chart showing how many visitors to page 1 of Google and beyond.
Image credit Backlinko

Maintain, Maintain, Maintain. Keeping your site up to date

Once launched, your website is never “finished”. You need to be constantly checking to make sure that it’s performing as required, and investigating where it is performing poorly and put solutions in place.

You need to be frequently adding fresh content (a blog/news page for example), an “un-maintained site is a doomed site” as they say – and Google emphasise this on its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:

Some websites are not maintained or cared for at all by their webmaster. These “abandoned” websites will fail to achieve their purpose over time, as content becomes stale or website functionality ceases to work on new browser versions. Un-maintained websites should be rated Lowest if they fail to achieve their purpose due to the lack of maintenance.

Google Search Quality Evaluator Guideline

In 20 years of SEO I have only had to re-skill myself about 20 times to stay current and up to date. The ONLY thing that hasn’t changed is that SEO is always changing. If your website fails to stay current then your website will wither on the Google vine.

The good sites will prosper, the poor sites – owned by lazy businesses – will be left behind. SEO is not just for Christmas

If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk.Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well

Find me:         https://seo.enterprise-oms.uk/  |  andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Follow me:     Twitter ¦ Linkedin
Phone me:      01793 238020 ¦ 07966 547146

Corona Virus & Marketing

SEO, Email Marketing, Blog, Video and Social banner

Even with Corona Virus you shouldn’t make knee jerk decisions with your marketing budget.

Remember, In the middle of the storm it can be difficult to see anything but chaos but the storm will pass. Your best defence is to do everything that you can to still be standing when the storm passes.

The purpose of this post is to give you some marketing things that you can be thinking about during these troubled times and to make an offer that will save you £50.00 on one of my services so that your website can come fighting fit on the other side of the Corona Virus pandemic.

When I was working as a business consultant during the 2008 recession I heard of many businesses who chopped their marketing budgets as a reaction to the turn-down. They then wondered why they weren’t attracting any new business and as their competitors recovered they were left behind.

Businesses that I was working with at the time recognised that there was an opportunity to step in to the gap left by companies which appeared to have disappeared. They took more considered action, reduced their marketing budget and put plans in place to ramp marketing back up once it was clear that the recession was coming to an end.

This put these clients in a prime position and they went on to prosper.

In these troubled times this is the action that you should consider. I know that times are dark, and likely to get darker, but if we don’t think positively and plan to still be here when the Covid-19 pandemic recedes then I know that some of us won’t be in business when that time comes around. 

The role technology plays in business continuation

Working from home, and in self-isolation, will be new to many people. Technology will have provided you with an opportunity to work from wherever you, and your staff, are with the only requirements being a device (desktop/laptop, phone or tablet) and an internet connection.

Cloud based audio and video conference solutions help maintain teams and enable client communications. SkypeMicrosoft TeamsZoomWebexSlackWhatsApp and more prove both free and subscription options to communicate, train, make presentations and simply remain in touch.

As more of us work form home it’s likely that online search behaviour will change as more people mix business searches with personal during their working day.

How will your business cope? 

As with any crisis, how your company responds is key, are you calm and taking action or are you panicking?

Either way, here are a number of things that you can be working on when faced with the current situation

Stay ahead of your competition

If you pause your marketing activities and your competitors don’t who do you think will be in a prime position when things begin to improve? Stay in touch with your clients using eMail, Video and Social Media, Keep an eye on search trends, are there any opportunities that you can make use of.

Remember that SEO is a long term strategy

I know that SEO is one of the services that I provide but it is worth remembering that it IS a long term strategy, taking weeks or months to have a proper impact so give your Search Engine Optimisation due consideration when reviewing your marketing budget. Google’s servers and algorithms won’t be taking a break.

Don’t buy cheap SEO

I know that it might be tempting to take up one of those “all you can eat” SEO offers at £75.00 per month but the risk to your business could be a lot greater than the small amount of money that you’d save. As the marketplace improves you could find yourself left with no rankings, no traffic to your website and possibly penalties from Google from trying to game the system.

Move offline marketing spend online

If people aren’t going out and about they are not going to be looking at advertising hoardings and billboards. They’re not going to be seeing “in-store” marketing either so think about whether you could shift some of your offline budget online to make up for this.

Understand search trends

By understanding trends in search you’ll be in an ideal position to leap on any opportunities and’or changes in direction. By keeping an eye on how people are searching you’ll be able to create content that meets the needs of those searchers. Google Trends is a really great way to stay on top of this

Produce more digital content

Consider using this as an opportunity to create those webinars you’ve been thinking of. By 2025 research is estimating that online learning will be worth about $158 Bn. Lessons learned now will be incredibly valuable going forward. Think about adding video conferencing and video calling to your communication options to reduce face-to-face meeting but stay in touch with key contacts, potential clients and your market. 

Free 40 minute Website and SEO Consultancy

I’m still offering my Free Consultancy sessions and am more than happy to conduct them over the phone or by video link

Detailed Website and SEO Review – Special Offer

Save £50.00 on an in-depth website and SEO review

And if you want something to listen too, have a listen to some of my Podcasts, you can find them on SpotifyApple Podcasts and my website.

If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat and I’ll be only too happy to talk.

Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well

Ring Me:      01793 238020      07966 547146
Email Me:    andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Find Me:      Linkedin     Twitter
Visit Me:      Bowman House, Whitehill Lane, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts, SN4 7DB

What is “bad” SEO

SEO writing on a window

The Art/Science/Discipline (delete as you see fit) of Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, has many branches. However, the first decision is whether you are going to use best practice or try to “game” the system, aka cheat, to get the search results you need..

The SEO practitioners who cheat are known as “black hats” or “unethical” whilst the good guys are “white hats” or ethical.

Which you choose is up to you, however the impact on your business if you make the wrong choice, could be disastrous

How long does SEO take to have an impact on your website?
SEO takes time, months not days, not weeks but months. However, sometimes there are ways to “game” the system that can deliver results far more quickly. The downside is that they will be using something that goes against Google’s Best practice guidelines.

Yes, your website might rocket up the search engine results but, once your site has been identified as using unethical techniques,Google will apply a penalty

Google Penalties
Remember, Google does not have to list you anywhere, it’s of no real benefit to Google to have you in their listings and if you go against their guidelines you will be penalised.

Google is constantly checking results to make sure that the right sites are listed in the right place, to make sure that sites are not gaining unfair advantage and making sure that sites are not cheating the system.

In my experience, when caught cheating Google has three levels of penalty it can apply, depending on the seriousness of the “crime”.

  1. If it’s a relatively minor digression then Google may simply stop monitoring your site. Any updates that you apply to your site will be ignored which means your site will just slowly drift down the pages until your site effectively disappears.
  2. A more serious misdemeanour will see your site actively demoted, perhaps by 5 pages (for example). With only 10% of Google searchers EVER going beyond Page 2 of the results, if you are on Page 5 you may as well be on Page 100.
  3. Total deletion from the Google database. Remember, Google is under no obligation to you.
Google Search Console

Thankfully, most issues tend to be (1) and (2) and Google will let you know before a penalty is applied and give you time to put a remedy in place. They do this through the Search Console. You do use the Search Console, don’t you?

Simply put, if you click on the “Security & Manual Actions” link in Search Console’s left-hand navigation menu, Google will have posted any penalties that it is looking to apply. You have about a month to resolve so you need to be checking every fortnight so that you have 2 weeks to resolve any issues.

How to overcome a penalty
If Google advises you that you have done something that goes against their guidelines and that they are about to apply a penalty you need to put a solution in place.

The first step is to identify what has caused the problem. Contact your SEO company and ask them what they have done and instruct them to undo it PDQ. If you have done it yourself then you need to undo the dubious SEO tricks that you have applied to your site.

If Google don’t tell you, how will you know that you have been the subject of a penalty
Over the 20 or so years that I have been doing SEO I have fielded a number of calls from business people (not clients of mine) which all went in the same direction.

“Hi Andy, I don’t know if you can help but yesterday my business was on Page 1 of Google search. Now I can’t find it, and I’ve gone to Page 20. What’s happened?”

What’s happened is that they have been hit, and hit hard, by Google and have likely been deleted from their database.

Another way to tell is through Google Analytics, if your web traffic falls off a cliff, for example – as shown in the Analytics grab below.

Google Analytics graph hit by a Google Penalty

If you receive notification from Google that they are going to apply a manual penalty then you have time to reverse the activity that was the cause of this warning.

If, however, you are like the people that have called me, and your site has simply disappeared it might be better to bite the bullet, buy a new domain name, build a new site and start again.

In many previous cases, I have worked with businesses to identify what went wrong, put corrections and rectifications in place and then tried to convince Google to relist them. When, after 6 months, there had been no change, my recommendation was to start again.

However, the last time I did this was a couple of years ago so things could have changed

Types of Black Hat Activity
Cheating has changed over the years. Back in the (very) early days of SEO, all that was required was to add keywords multiple times in the Keywords Meta Tag and repeat them multiple times on the page itself. So you’d have a page of content and them across the bottom of the page you’d see the keyword repeated many, many times.

Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword. Keyword, Keyword

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so the web developers realised that this looked bad so they changed the font colour to match the background so the visitor couldn’t see the text but the search engines could.

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so Black Hat SEO people simply made the font size 0. The text disappeared from the page, but was still visible in the HTML that could be read by the search engines.

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so the SEO folks went for keyword “stuffing”. Cramming the keyword in to as many keyword places that they keyword possible keyword could

The visitors didn’t like this and went elsewhere.

Next came Link Building and Link Farming. Buying back-links from websites that simply published lists of websites on thousands of pages, for a fee. These pages effectively looked like a phone directory where the only content was links to websites.

But Google didn’t like this and link farm users were likely to find them,selves deleted

So, the next technique was cloaking. Your web-server can differentiate between you and I visiting a website and a search engine. Black hat SEO folks learned this and created content that was precisely what the search engines were looking for and only showed this content to the search engines. It was a bit like putting a honey pot at the end of the garden to attract the wasps when you’re having a picnic in the garden on a sunny day

But Google didn’t like this and  users of cloaking were likely to find their sites deleted

How can you tell the difference between White and Black Hat SE Optimisers
If someone approaches you, offering to do your SEO and they guarantee to get you on Page 1 then I’d be inclined to avoid them. Nobody can guarantee this unless they are either

  1. Running a Google Ads campaign – but they should tell you this
  2. Running a Black Hat campaign.

If you ask an SEO agency how they will optimise your site, they should tell you what they will be doing. They should also tell you that they can’t guarantee results, just that they will use their skills and experience to move your site higher in the search results.

Avoid being hit by a penalty, give me a call to discuss ethical, White Hat SEO for your website by giving me a call on 01793 238020 or dropping an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

You’re thinking of PPC Advertising – but where should you place your money?

Screen Shot of Bing Ads, PPC

In my experience, when thinking about advertising on the the web, most people think of Google and Facebook Ads and that’s about it but there’s a wide range of Pay per Click (PPC) opportunities available and the key to success is deciding which are the platforms most likely to deliver the best results.

In this post I’ll be looking the top 8 platforms that you should think about,

  • Bing Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Ads
  • Linkedin Ads
  • Pinterest Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Yahoo Ads

Bing Ads

Run by Microsoft, Bing is the search engine that seems to be forgotten but is in daily use by millions of people. My experience is that clicks are cheaper than those from Google and frequently of better quality. It gets better because if you have a Google Ads campaign, Bing Ads have a tool that will import all of your campaigns at the click of a button.

Bing also powers the Yahoo Ad network so you’ll have the added benefit of your Ads appearing across Yahoo too.

Look hard and you’ll also be able to take advantage of £100.00 credit to get you going (there are terms, of course but essentially, it’s free advertising)

Facebook Ads

Facebook, largest Social Media platform on the internet. 2.2Bn users worldwide and about 32m in the UK so why wouldn’t you want to advertise here. Well, if you have something to sell to consumers then you should give it some thought. You can have image ads, text ads, video ads, sponsored updates and much much more. 

Not only that but you can target specific audiences and markets through the demographic data that Facebook hold, making it a far more targeted campaign than other platforms.

However, if you are in the Business to Business market, Facebook may not be the ideal platform for your ads.

Google Ads

Not the longest running Ad platform but certainly the most well established, the most popular and the one with the greatest reach, with more than 3.5Bn searches taking place on Google every day!

Google ads can be placed on Google, YouTube, the Content Network as well as Google Search Partners.

You can have simple text ads, image ads as well as responsive ads targeted at mobile phone users.

Google Ads is also a great way to waste money if you don’t think carefully about where your Ads are displayed, to whom they are targeted and the way your search words are formatted and used. Campaign management (either in-house or outsourced) is essential to get the most from your Ads investment.

Linkedin Ads

Linkedin is home to over 520m professionals and so if your business is focussed on selling things to, or providing services to, a business market place than Linkedin is the natural home for your ads.

You can focus your ads on almost any of the demographic metrics that Linkedin collects, whether geographically, job title, seniority, job role and much more.

Traditional ads are shown on the right hand side on your Linkedin home page and across the top whilst promoted posts appear in the newsfeed and hate works best are hints, tips and white papers.

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is quite new to the paid advertising market but is rapidly catching up, as demonstrated by it’s initial valuation before going public on the 18th April 2019 at $19/share valuing the company at $12.7Bn.

With more than 200m active, monthly, users who are researching trends, looking for ideas and inspiration it’s an ideal place to sell “things” – especially if your target market matches the key Pinterest demographic with 70% of Pinterest users being women and 40% earning more than $100,000 or more

Twitter Ads

Twitter is used by 330m people every month and is recognised as a key source of breaking news. 

Unlike a lot of the platforms mentioned here, Twitter ads stay on Twitter and so can be particularly effective and remain fully under your control. Your ads can be simple text but photos work better and videos are event more effective.

Yahoo

Yahoo was one of the original sellers of search ads and was the model that Google based Adwords on. Yahoo still stumbles on as part of the Oath network (Yahoo, AOL, Huff Post and Tumblr). 

Yahoo has a partnership agreement with Bing which means that your Bing Ads will also be displayed on the Yahoo network (and vice versa) and your ads can be simple text, images, video and any other supported media across the network

Conclusion

There are numerous Ad networks fighting for your advertising spend. My advice is to start small, test AND measure. If, after a couple of months, it seems that one of the platforms isn’t working for you then stop and switch to a different one until you find the right platform for your business.

And, if you need any help, I’ve been doing this since 2003 so give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, initial chat to see whether I can improve your existing campaigns or help you launch something new.

We all need more visits to our websites…..

It’s true isn’t it? We all need more visits to our website because more visits means more opportunities which equate to more inquiries which lead to more sales – right?

Wrong
Before looking to bring in more visitors take a long, hard look at your website, if it’s not generating inquiries for you today, bringing in more visitors does not mean that enquiries will increase tomorrow, they’ll just do what every other visitor does.

You need to….

  • …make sure that your content focuses on your visitors – that’s less “me” and more “you”
  • …stop talking about the things you do – you should be talking about the benefits a client will gain from engaging with you (tip – it’s the latter that people use when making their buying decisions)
  • …make sure your website is easy to navigate
  • …ensure that your site is easy to read – copy and paste key content in to read-able.com to make sure that the average reading age is no higher than 13
  • …have clear calls-to-action on every page so that visitors know what is expected of them. “Buy Now” and “Browse for More” work really well on e-commerce sites whilst “Call“, “Email“, Subscribe Now” work for more serviced focused businesses.
  • …make sure that your pages open quickly – you only have about 3 seconds to capture a visitors interest so you have to be on the ball. Google Analytics and Pingdom are valuable tools to help assess the speed of your site.
  • …make good use of your USP – that special magic that you do that sets you apart from your competition?

If you’ve nailed all of the above – then it’s time to start looking for more web traffic and you can make a start today by giving me a call – 
01793 238020 or by sending an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a confidential, free, and zero obligation chat

4 plug-ins every WordPress site should have

A Content Management Systems (CMS) is a tool that business owners, web developers and others use to build their websites. There are loads to choose from, depending on your specific requirements, and WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Umbraco, Squarespace, and Wix are some of the most popular.

If your website uses WordPress(WP) then you find yourself in good company. It’s by far and away the most popular CMS, being used by 32% of all websites. WordPress is popular for a number of reasons, the software is free (but you’ll still need hosting that will cost), it’s pretty easy to use and there are thousands of “themes” (designs and templates) that you can use to define the way your website looks and many of them are free to use. There’s lots of places you can turn to for advice and support and lots of professional developers who can customise your site so that is does exactly what you need.

Customising WordPress

WordPress is not perfect though, it may not do everything that you need. However, it’s an open system which means that if you understand how to write software you can create your own enhancements. You don’t even need to be a software developer to benefit. Somebody, somewhere has probably already had a similar need to yours and written something to do the job. Thousands of people have created additional enhancements and have made their tools available to everyone. These enhancements are called plug-ins. A lot are free whilst others require a payment, although the majority of these are inexpensive.

Plug-Ins

The downside to plug-ins is that each one you use makes your website run a little slower, and with Google beginning to penalise slow sites the speed of your website is something you need to keep an eye on. This means that you shouldn’t just keep adding plug-ins. You should make your choice, install your plug-in, give it a test and if it doesn’t do what you need then uninstall it.

Example of WordPress Menu

Not only should you keep your plug-in count to a minimum but each plug-in MUST be kept up to date.

The authors regularly update them, some updates patch security flaws, some improve performance and/or add extra functionality and some updates are required to make sure the plug-in runs with the latest upgrades to WordPress itself – so you need to be regularly checking, unless you have a program that monitors then for you. Best case scenario is that nothing happens, worst case scenarios are that the un-patched plug-in breaks your website or a security hole lets a hacker in .

Three Ss and a B

Security, Speed, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Back-up

Security

WordPress Plug-in Menu

Your WordPress site needs to be secure so that hackers can’t break in and do their hacking thing. Which could be to use your website host malicious software and force it on the computers of all that visit. They might create pages with links to their web pages, or look to capture details identifying visitors to your site. Thankfully, there’s a plug-in that will fortify your WordPress website against attack.

Speed

Your website has to be fast. To stop people drifting away, your pages need to open within 3 seconds. Slower that that and people will not wait. Slower than that and Google may start to penalise your site by pushing it down in their search results pages. There’s a plug-in that will keep WordPress running as fast as possible.

Search Engine Optimisation

In order for your customers to be able to find you in Google (or Bing, or Yahoo or one of the other search engines) the search engines have to be able to understand what it is your website is offering. The discipline that enables the search engines to understand your website and hopefully put your site on Page 1 of the results is called Search Engine Optimisation. There’s a plug-in that makes it easy to search optimize your site – so long as you know what you are doing.

Back-up

Hopefully you regularly back-up your business data. Well, you also should be backing up your website too. If you make an editing mistake and break your site, you can restore a working version, if something else breaks your website then you can restore a working version and if you have a problem with your host then a back-up will make it relatively easy to move your site to a new host. Guess what, there’s a plug-in for that too

So, which are the best plug-ins to use?

I can’t tell you that because there are thousands of the things but I can tell you which are the first ones that I install and configure on every WP website that I work with, in my mind they are essential and should be installed before you even think about developing your WP website

4 free plug-ins every WordPress site should have

WordFence for security

WordFence is a security enhancer. It is an “endpoint” firewall which means it cannot be bypassed, unlike a Cloud Firewall. This means that everybody trying to access the admin area of your site (both you as the site admin and the bad guys – the hackers) have to get past WordFence first.

It defends against “brute force” attacks, where a hacker attempts to guess usernames and passwords and after a certain number of failed attempts (you set the limit) it blocks the attacker, effectively making your website invisible to them. WordFence keeps a blacklist of known hackers (by their IP address) and automatically blocks them. WordFence also sends you an email when one of your plug-ins requires updating, making plug-in management a whole lot easier.

It scans your WP files for malicious software and if you need even more functionality (most users won’t) then the Premium version is just $99 

Learn more about WordFence

Updraft Plus – for back-ups

Updraft Plus is a back-up plugin for WP. Now that you have secured your site from external threats you should look to guard yourself from internal problems, accidentally deleted pages, server/host issues, and (in the unlikely event of an intrusion) issues caused by hacking and penetration. It could even be something as simple as a WP, or plug-in, upgrade that breaks your site

To do this you need to be making regular back-ups of your WP installation and your content. Updraft Plus will do this for you. You can set a schedule so if you want an automatic hourly, daily, weekly back-up you just set the plug-in and it does the rest. You can even save your back-up to your Google, Microsoft or one of many other Cloud accounts,

Should you need to restore your WP site, Updraft Plus makes this easy too.

Find out more about Updraft Plus

WP-Rocket – for speed

WP-Rocket is the only plug-in on this list that doesn’t have a free version. However, the cost for a single site won’t break the bank at just $39.

What WP-Rocket will do for your website is make it faster to open on a visitors computer.It uses a number of tools to achieve this. It compresses your site for faster transmission across the internet, it manages images so that the only images downloaded are those that are visible on screen, if allows a web browser to cache key elements of your site so that they don’t have to be reloaded every time a visitor navigates to a different page. You can see everything that WP-Rocket does here.

Yoast – for SEO

In order to stand a chance of being found on the internet, your website needs to be “Search Friendly” which means that Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go etc can find your site, visit all the important pages, understand what’s on offer and (hopefully) put your site on the first page of the search results when someone is looking for your products, goods or services.

However, WordPress doesn’t make it easy and this is where the YOAST plug-in comes in to play. As long as you understand the requirements for effective SEO then the YOAST plug-in makes it easy to implement key SEO requirements.

Find out more about YOAST

So, there you have it, four essential plug-ins for your website before you start working on the design, the look, the feel and your content and if you need more help with your website, no matter what CMS you are using, your SEO or digital marketing then all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk an email

How many words is enough?

A lot of you will know that I keep my finger on the pulse of SEO, it is what I do 60% of the time, after all.

I always push the need for “fresh content” on website because it’s well known that it really helps with your SEO. However, I am often asked how long a blog post or web page should be.

Graph showing Total Word Count Vs Google Position

If you search on Google for the answer, you’ll find that people are recommending 1,000 to 2,000 words as the minimum for “optimum SEO” and in a recent post Backlinko quote research that indicates that the average piece of content that ranks on Page 1 of Google contains 1,890 words.

However, just because you can write the magic amount of words doesn’t mean your post will gain a P1 ranking and here’s why.

There are over 440m blogs across the internet but if you take Medium and Tumblr in to account then there must be over 1 billion blogs and with billions of searches conducted every day, and thousands of new updates posted everyday, there’s an awful lot of competition so, how do you win the content war?

First off, throw away the word count target.
Why?

Because if I tell you to write 1,890 words you’ll aim to do precisely that and a short update will be padded and padded with unnecessary filler which means that even if it does rank – people just won’t read it. On the other hand if you need 3,000 words to do a subject justice you’ll edit it so heavily that it just won’t wont make sense. So here’s my first tip.

Tip 1 – make your content as long as it needs to be

Obviously, from an SEO perspective, the longer it is, but you also need to write really well to maintain reader engagement.

Tip 2 – Be Original & Ride The Wave

Sounds contradictory I know but If you piggyback on a news article you’ll simply be one of many “me too” writers, so use your knowledge, skill and experience to approach a topic from a different angle. Tools such as UberSuggestBuzzSumoand Google Trends will help you find popular topics to use your skills and experience on.

Tip 3 – Ask your readers

You could use Social Media and Survey Monkey to actually ask your readers what they would like to know about. I know, daring isn’t it!

Tip 4 – get writing

Remember, once you have written something, find some relevant images to illustrate your message and then re-read what you have written to make sure it makes sense. Use tools such as the Hemmingway App and Read Able to ensure readability (aim for a reading age of around 12-13) and then, finally, read it out loud to yourself.

If you read in your head, you’ll read what you think yo have written but by reading out loud your brain has to analyse every word and translate the visual signal in to an audio signal and you’ll frequently find yourself thinking “I’d never say things like that” and every time to reach that point then go back to the edit screen and revise.

All that I would like to add is a hearty “good luck and good writing” and if you need any help with your content just get in touch – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or 01793 238020 for a no-fee, obligation free chat.

Oh, and how long is this article? It’s just 568 words

And if you need any help with technology, websites, SEO or marketing all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk an email for a free, zero obligation chat about your needs.

What information do you have to publish on your website?

Laptop on a table being used by Andy, checking out websites as part of his work

As you might imagine, I spend quite a lot of time looking at websites. I look at client sites to see what can be improved, I look at potential client sites to put bids and proposals together and I look for sites that I can prospect to. I also look at other sites to keep my knowledge up to date – and that’s just during the working day.

I see good sites, OK sites, indifferent sites and some real shockers but it does not matter how good (or how poor) the site, whether pennies, pounds or thousands was spent on the development loads miss out on the provision of basic information. A lot of which is a legal requirement when a business is using a website to promote themselves.

As an example, a lot of businesses provide a web form as a means of communication despite the fact that a lot of people don’t like forms – especially ones that ask for too much information. Part of the dislike is due to the fact that sending a form leaves no record of what was sent, nor when it was sent, unless it automatically forwards a copy to the senders email address but there’s no way to know this – until you’ve sent the form (unless the form actually informs you of this)

Gavel - representing a legal requirement

There was a piece of legislation passed in 2002 called the eCommerce Regulations that applied to ALL companies using the internet, not just those selling online and perhaps that’s why a lot of businesses don’t comply. Either that or it’s simply a lack of knowledge either within the organisation or by the web developer. Either way, ignorance of the law is no excuse – as the law says.

So, what does the law require you to publish in an “easily, permanently and directly available location” on your website?

Minimum information to be provided on your website

  • The name of your business, which might be different from the trading name and any difference MUST be explained. For example, ABC.co, is the trading name of ABC Enterprises Ltd.
  • The geographic address of the business must be provided
  • Your email address. A “Contact us” form without providing an email address is not sufficient
  • Your Company Registration Number, if yours is a Registered business, together with the place of registration
  • Your VAT Registration Number, if you are VAT registered
  • If you are subject to an overseeing body, such as the FCA, then you need to provide the governing agency AND your registration number.
  • Prices – if you are quoting prices (or selling) online your pricing should be clear, unambiguous and state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs, or not.

If you need help with compliance, or with anything else relating to your website or marketing activities then give me a call for an initial, free and zero obligation chat on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

How much should you budget for SEO services?

How much does SEO cost?

Person looking confused

The real answer is “how long is a piece of string” but you don’t want to hear that, you want to nail down your costs so that you can shop around and get the best deal for your business – note that I did not say “cheapest”The first problem is that every SEO requirement is different, there are many variables that impact on the amount of work required and here’s a small selection;

  • How up to date is your website?
  • How SEO “friendly” is your web design?
  • How fast do you need SEO to take effect?
  • How does your site compare to the competition?
  • How many competitors do you have?
  • How well optimised are their sites?
  • What’s their likely budget?
Good, Cheap, Fast. Yoou can have any 2 but not all 3

This latter is not about understanding their absolute spend, more about an overview based on the simple fact that the larger the competitor the more likely that they will have a greater budget than you.Looking at the Quality, Fast, Cheap Venn, you’ll see that you can have

  • Cheap & Fast
  • Fast & Good
  • Cheap & Good

but you can’t have Cheap, Fast AND Good, it’s just not possibleIn reality, it’s not about how “good” your SEO is, it just has to be better than the competition. I’ve worked with a couple of businesses where the competition was clueless about SEO so it was a relatively simple task to push them higher in the rankings but most businesses these days are aware of SEO so the task is tougher.

Expectations & Reality

A recent survey reported that less than half of all small businesses have an SEO budget. Of those with one the majority (71 percent) spent less than £100/month. That’s right – 71 percent of small businesses budget £0 – £99/month for SEO.

This is further supported by the inquiries I receive from prospective clients. Here’s the breakdown for a pretty typical quarter in 2017

Monthly SEO enquiries/budget

This is why your in-box is spammed with promises of “guaranteed first-page results” for £99. SEO spammers know the market. Their promise of first page results is hard to resist and, in my experience, most business owners have no idea how SEO works, they are far too busy running their businesses to spend time learning SEO and so may very well opt for the least expensive quote.

Most businesses are process driven, to get from A to B you follow certain process to get there. A lot of people assume SEO works in a similar way, they tend to treat it as a commodity and, as a consequence select their SEO on price, frequently choosing the least expensive [cheapest]

The Cost of Cheap SEO

I’ve been doing SEO since 2001 and over the years I been a member of many internet marketing groups on Linkedin and I never cease to be amazed by the number of people with a little knowledge who pose as SEO professionals and take on clients. How do I know they lack experience? It’s questions like “I have just taken on a client that wants to rank for “keyword x” – how do I do it?” that tends to give the game away.

A close second to asking “how” is the use of link schemes, specifically private blog networks (PBNs), without ever explaining the risk to clients. If you were to simply throw your money away by hiring an incompetent to carry out your SEO that would be bad enough.

The problem is that the damage does not stop at the waste of money – it’s far more serious than that. The damage that someone who does not know what they are doing can go much deeper. It could attract a Google penalty and virtually wipe out a website’s visibility on the web.

As a consequence, even if you don’t choose EOMS to conduct your SEO I would encourage you to insist on using tactics that comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines, as I do.

Managing Your Resources

With Google using more than 200 ranking factors it’s easy to become intimidated and paralysed. However, there are some key areas that, if properly managed, will go along way towards great SEO results. Your site should 

  • be easily accessible to search engines.
  • follow Google Webmaster Guidelines for SEO best practices.
  • perform quickly (pages opening in 3 seconds or faster).
  • work well on all devices, mobile, tablet, and desktop.
  • feature content that is unique,interesting and of value
  • have regular fresh content added

Set Goals

As with everything in business, Goals are good. They help focus the mind and ensure that everybody knows what’s expected.

When setting goals, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Your goals need to be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic – Stretch goals are fine, but pie in the sky benchmarks can actually work as a disincentive.
  • Timed – You need to give the campaign time to workAccording to Google, “in most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”

At one time, success was measured solely by where your website would be featured on the Search Results Pages. While this remains an important metric, it’s no longer the most important metric. The most important are those that deliver real value, such as:

  • Improving organic sessions by x percent.
  • Increasing conversions by y per month.
  • Increasing revenues by z percent.

Developing an SEO Budget

And here we get to the nub of the matter. Your goals will define the strategy required needed to succeed. This will then provide the information required to develop an action/implementation plan which defines the work required and, consequently, the budget necessary to achieve the desired goals.

Remember though, that the budget needs to take account of the time to properly plan, implement and tweak a campaign in order to evaluate its success.

That said, the right budget is one you can afford, without losing sleep, for a minimum of four (and ideally 12) months and the lower the budget, the longer the journey

How much should you spend on your SEO?

Well, £99/month just isn’t enough to do it properly. If you are hiring an SEO company expect to pay from £200-300 per month.

If you can’t afford to retain a top level SEO, there are some options. The most common being a one-time website SEO audit with actionable recommendations that you could implement yourself.

Just fixing your website will often lead to a meaningful boost in organic traffic. Content development and keyword analysis are other areas where you can get help from a pro for a one time fixed rate. Another option is to become an expert and do it yourself.

SEO Cost Calculator: Measuring Organic Search (SEO) ROI

Best Widget Ever - ROI calculator

Above is a calculator commonly used (incorrectly) for measuring return on investment for SEO.

Of course, the above calculation has a major flaw, it fails to take into consideration the lifetime value of a new customer.

Online businesses need repeat orders/sales in order to grow. By not calculating the lifetime value of a new customer the true ROI is grossly understated.

The right way to calculate ROI is to build lifetime value into the calculator as seen here:

SEO Return on investment table incorporating lifetime value

The Takeaway

Unlike Pay Per Click – (Google/Bing Ads etc) an organic search campaign won’t yield immediate results and, even when executed to perfection, it takes time for Google to recognise and reward these efforts.

That said, the traffic earned from these efforts is often the most consistent and best converting among all channels.

And if you need help with your SEO then please get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or send an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, obligation free chat about your SEO and/or anything else to do with your website and digital footprint

Why you should be sending letters

Bank Robber Willie Sutton

Willie Sutton is a well known American bank robber (bio on Wiki). Although always taking a pistol or Thompson sub-machine gun he never killed anyone, in fact he never even fired his weapon.

When captured, his gun was always found to be empty and when asked about this he simply replied “I never carry a loaded gun because somebody may get hurt”. In fact if a woman screamed or a baby cried he stopped the robbery and left.

Why are we talking about Willie?

Simple, he made a statement that has ramifications on your marketing even today, when asked why he robbed banks Willie replied “Because that’s where the money is

So, how does that reflect on marketing? Simple – when you are marketing your business, you should always look where the money (your customers) is.

Where is the money?

According to marketing expert Drayton Bird, Millennials may not be the ideal target, they are buried in debt, apparently 40% of 18-34 year olds live with their parents and struggle to find well paying jobs.

Baby boomers, on the other hand are less stressed about money having enjoyed decades of cheap housing, safe jobs (some guaranteed for life), solid pensions and huge stock market gains. So, perhaps that’s who your marketing should be focussing on.

A recent survey has also turned up some very interesting statistics about Baby Boomers. Apparently they respond better to offline advertising

  • Less than 10% prefer hearing from a new company through email
  • 73% prefer getting new product/service offers by mail
  • Only 31% say they discard unopened commercial mail

So, what’s the message?

Don’t ignore “snail mail” – take a look at what arrives in your letterbox. Mine’s almost empty for most of the week so a well targeted piece of direct mail is likely to be opened, and that’s half the battle. After that, it’s down to the quality of your letter, the words, the pictures AND ensuring that there’s a positive call to action (CTA) and whilst on the topic of CTAs, every page of your website should have one and every email you send.

What’s next?

If you need help with any aspect of your marketing, get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020, drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or link up on LinkedInor Twitter.

That’s my CTA, btw.