14 SEO Myths

Myths about SEO

I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.

Then people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. If you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.

Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.

As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter

SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords

This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claim that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.

In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites

SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density

If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.

Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.

If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit howe. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.

SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks

Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “Back Rub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.

When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.

That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.

For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.

If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.

Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking

“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was than no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.

As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.

From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details

SEO Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO

If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).

Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.

Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.

And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.

What’s the solution?
The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.

SEO Myth 6 – SEO is dead

At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.

Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website

Headstone with the words "RIP SEO"

SEO Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days

It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.

If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.

And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.

SEO Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO

Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.

However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.

#UseMorePictures

SEO Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors

When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.

I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.

The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?

SEO Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load

It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?

The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.

And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.

Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.

A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics

SEO Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1

With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.

And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.

And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good

Joke
2 men in the forest were faced by a huge bear charging towards them. One gulps and says to the other “we can’t outrun this bear” and the other one says. “I know, but all I have to do is run faster than you……byeeeee”

SEO Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO

Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.

It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website

SEO Myth 13 – SEO is a one-time thing

No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.

SEO Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content

Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.

From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.

So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.

A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs

Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have

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

Kick start your marketing with government support

It looks as if we are looking not at the beginning of the end but at least the end of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. The government has slightly relaxed lock-down and hopefully will further relax things as the infection rate and number of deaths continues to fall.

There is no doubt that the UK government has thrown a vast sum of money supporting businesses with the aim of helping them survive coronavirus and ensure that they are able to restart and ramp up.

Covent Garden, London in lockdown
Covent Garden, London in lockdown

However, nobody knows how the economy will recover. There’s been talk of a quick return to business normality in a V shaped return.

However wise minds think it could be a U shape with the economy bobbing along the bottom until things pick up, a W shaped return should there be another peak of infection or even an L shaped recovery, which would be no recovery at all.

A graph representing and economic crash
A graph representing an increasing economy

With over 20 years of supporting small businesses I have been through a number of recessions and know that businesses that really WANT to trade, and even increase their market, can do so provided their business is fit and well and ready to return to the fray.

What I do know is this, there will a lot of companies hunting for new business but a lot of them will have just re-opened and be hoping that what worked before lock-down will work post lock-down.

You have an opportunity to pull ahead of your competition

And it’s not difficult. You can take advantage of one of the government support packages to give your marketing activity a boot. The coronavirus Bounce Back loan is perfect for this.

If you are a small to medium sized business that has been effected by the pandemic then it is highly likely that you will be eligible. You must be

  • is based in the UK
  • established before 1 March 2020
  • adversely impacted by the coronavirus

And that’s it. The loan is 100% backed by the government and so the ultimate risk to lenders is negligible.*

You can borrow between £2,000 and 25% of your turnover, to a maximum loan of £50,000

And here come the best bits

There is nothing to pay for 12 months, and the loan attracts no interest either

Then you pay the balance back over up to 5 years at an extremely attractive interest rate of just 2.5%

What could you use the loan for

  • You could use the loan to play for a completely new website
  • You could use the loan to fund some training
  • You could use the loan to pay for professional support and consultancy
  • You could use the loan to pay for your SEO
  • You could use the loan to fund a Pay per Click campaign such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads etc
  • IT could be used to pay for a complete rebrand
  • Printing of marketing collateral
  • Running a mail shot campaign
  • etc.

You could could mix and match any from the above – as the following example demonstrates

  • New website – £3,000
  • 12 months SEO support – £2,160
  • Google Ads campaign – £500/month -£6,000 for a year
  • 12 months Social Media management – £2,880
  • 12 months email marketing support – £2,160
  • Total £16,200 + VAT

You would pay nothing for the first 12 months

Then just £303.75 per month for 60 months bringing your total borrowing in at £17,229.38 – a loan cost of just £1,029.38*

That’s just £14.30 in interest per month, over the lifetime of the loan

If you wanted/needed less, here’s what £10,000 and £5,000 loans look like

£10,000 loan

  • Monthly Cost – £187.50
  • Total Cost – £10,635.42
  • Total Interest – £635.42
  • Monthly interest equivalent – £8.83

£5,000 loan

  • Monthly Cost – £93.75
  • Total Cost £5,317.71
  • Total Interest £317.71
  • Monthly interest equivalent £4.41

Don’t delay, start today

But I wouldn’t put it off. Only the government knows when the loans will need and your competitors may already be seizing this opportunity and as more companies take advantage the waiting list for your chosen professionals will be growing

Note that you are only eligible for one Bounce Back Loan so please make sure you have every eventuality covered.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I am yet to hit peak capacity but I’ve already had a couple of client take advantage of the Bounce Back Loan and have asked me to ramp up the marketing and coaching work that I do for them

So, don’t miss out – plan what you want to do. Get in touch for a quote, apply for your loan and then we can get started

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

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

*I am not a financial adviser and you should take expert advice from your accountant, business adviser or other professional before proceeding. My figures come from the Lloyds Bank Bounce Back Loan Calculator

Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions accept no responsibility for any action that you might take after reading this post.

Why marketing is like the space race

The mighty Saturn V rocket on the launchpad

It seems that every week I am asked whether “X” would be a good thing to do, or perhaps “Y”. “What do you think Andy?”, “which path would you take?”

The reality is that even after 20 years of experience, I don’t know with any great certainty. All I can do is reflect on past experiences and understand how a particular course of historical action could be overlaid on contemporary actions and offer some thoughts and guidance.

The key question, though, is this. When it comes to most forms of marketing, how do we know what works and what doesn’t?

The reality is that we don’t – until we give it a try.

But before you try any form of new marketing activity you need to really understand your expectations. What do you want it to do and what do you NEED it to do. You should approach it with a plan in mind, the 6 Ws.

The 6 Ws

Who, What, Why, When, Where and hoW. There are loads of variations on a theme but here’s a simple example as to how the six Ws can help with the initial planning of your new campaign. And to use a cliche – “fail to plan, plan to fail”.

  • Who are you looking to reach (personas can really help identity and visualise your target market
  • What are you looking to sell to them
  • Why would they choose you as their supplier rather than your competition
  • When will they be ready to buy
  • Where will the marketing be posted/published?
  • How will the sale take place & delivery occur. How will you measure the performance.

You should always have a goal because, as the cliche says, “without a goal, how will you know when you have arrived”

The 6Ps could also apply – Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance

OK, I’m done with cliches, for now, back on topic.

I have worked with many people who strive for perfection. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the focus on perfection has a time and place. From a marketing perspective they

  • – have an idea
  • – create an outline,
  • – add flesh to the outline
  • – review it
  • – ask others to review their plan
  • – make changes to reflect people’s comments
  • – and go around the circle again & again

A camel is a horse designed by committee

Seeking absolute perfection can be a trap, the danger being that you want a horse but end up with a camel.

This often means that the plan at the end looks nothing like the initial plan, that the initial goals have become forgotten and the time taken to refine and finesse the plan means that key opportunities are missed or have made it likely that the plan will never be executed.

My preferred approach is to come up with the campaign aims, agree them with my client and quickly work back from there to understand the target market, which platforms they are likely to use and to understand the best ways to put my client in front of them.

I sometimes get it wrong. I’ll have explained my plans to the client and explained the risk. If a plan is going to fail I like it to fail fast. I accept that it’s OK for a plan to fail, it really is. However, this approach will only work with goals that are understood and research to understand why the goals were not met.

From there, you can take the learning, update and improve the campaign and go again.

So, Why IS marketing like the Space Race

A Space X Falcon 9 first stage landing

NASA would follow the route to perfection. Testing each individual component of the Apollo program (for example) then they’d put some components in to a module and test the module. Then they’d put some modules together in to an assembly and test the assembly.

Then they’d put some assemblies together in to a stage and test the stage. Then they’d test the stages, assemble them in to a 365 ft tall tower of power and launch the rocket.

And even after all this testing there were still problems – look at Apollo 13, and the two Space Shuttle disasters for evidence.


Elon Musk and Space X take a different approach. Elon came up with the idea of a reusable rocket. It was designed, a rocket was launched – it failed. The reasons for failure were designed out of the next iteration. There was a different failure. The reasons were investigated and designed out and now launching, AND landing, Space X Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets is as near normal as you will find and progress continues.

At the time of writing Space X are planning on returning US Astronauts to the International Space Station using an American rocket for the first time since the Space Shuttle was withdrawn from service.

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

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.