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

Have you heard of The SMOG* Test?

It’s nothing to do with clean air but IS all about the readability of your website.

Did you know that the average reading age in the UK is 12-13 years and that a significant number of visitors to your website may have English as their second language?

If you haven’t given this any thought then you are probably losing visitors and business because your words could act as an impenetrable barrier and you could be losing custom.

Not only that but Google take more than a passing interest in readability.

There is a simple tool that you can use to calculate the reading age of your site and you really should apply this RIGHT NOW.

All you have to do is go to www.read-able.com, copy some text from your website that you want to test and paste it in to the “TEST BY DIRECT INPUT”

Readability Test at read-able.com

Your words will be parsed through 6 different tests [including the SMOG* test] and the individual results will be displayed together with an average.

Take a look at the Readability Test results

Readability test results

As you can see, the test results for the text that I pasted show that the reading age is 15-16 years and so a little work is required.

The results are provided in both age and US Grade Levels and you can find a simple Grade to Age comparison here.

Alternatively you could also try the “Drayton Bird test” by reading your content out loud. If it sounds like one side of a conversation the you are probably on the right track, if it sounds stilted and disjointed you need to go back to the drawing board!

How to make your text easier to read

If you need help with making your text easier to read you could turn to the free Hemmingway App for help.

Hemmingway App

In the screenshot, above, you can see that the App has highlighted areas for improvement, and as you make edits you’ll see the reading age on the right-hand side of the page reduce, and the highlighted text will start to disappear.

After a “first pass” you can see that the reading age has already come down. And if I paste this text in to Read-Able you can see that the reading age has fallen to 12-13, much closer to the target, and achieved without any Dumbing Down

Read-Able test results

And if you need any help with your website, search engine optimisation, social media, email marketing or any other form of online activity then all you have to do is #AskAndyP

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

*SMOG – Simple Measure of Gobbledygook



How clean is your phone?

Hands texting on a smartphone

I’m not talking about any dodgy apps that you might have, nor any “adult” websites that you might have bookmarked but I’m talking in a hygiene sense.

According to research the average person touches their phone nearly 3,000 times A DAY and the heaviest users touch their phone over 5,400 times, each and every day.

After all, our phones are with us for up to 24 hours a day. At home, at work, on the street, in the car and, ahem, in the bathroom/toilet. Now think about all the things you touch during your average day. Let’s start at home with door handles, who else has used them? Did they wash their hands? Are they well or unwell?

Now let’s go to work. You pop your phone in your pocket or handbag – what else has been in there? It’s dark, warm and humid, a lovely breeding ground for bacteria.

You might open your car door or get on public transport. In the case of the latter, what do you touch in the station, on the bus/train/taxi?

You’ve arrived at your office and casually pop your phone on your desk. A desk which, according to a study by the University of Arizona, has hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat. And this could be your smartphone’s home for  40 hours a week.

Now it’s time for your morning coffee so you head off to the kitchen….who has used the kettle/coffee machine, coffee jar, sugar jar etc.

Toilet with the toilet seat up

How about a comfort break – who has opened the toilet door? Are you one of the 61% of people who regularly scroll while on the toilet (report from the Daily Infographic) because 1 in 6 phones are contaminated with faecal matter? 

Who opened the door to leave the toilet, were they unwell? Did they wash their hands properly? You may as well not bother washing your hands after that visit.

And as if that’s not bad enough, there’s everything else you could touch during an average day, cash machines, PIN entry pads in shops and filling stations, keys, door handles, pens, credit/debit cards, coins, bank notes – how clean are those? Where have they been? It’s almost enough to make you go cashless isn’t it!

Finally it’s the end of the day and time to head home. You put your phone on the kitchen worktop. This should be clean but how about your dining table, your coffee table, side table and bed-side table? How clean are they?

At any time of the day your phone might ring, or you want to make a call. You take your bacterial soup of a phone out of your pocket/bag and hold it to your face transferring bacteria that could give you spots, or worse. It might even touch your mouth and some of the bacteria could then transfer orally, getting inside your digestive system.

A microscope's view of bacteria

According to a study published in the journal, Germs, your phone is up to 10 times dirtier than your toilet seat, TEN TIMES! You always wash your hands after going but do you wash them between touching your phone and eating food?

This is a major issue because few of us bother to really clean our phones (wiping the screen doesn’t count). The germs keep building up. 

Studies have found serious pathogens on smartphones, E-Coli (great for upset tums), influenza, Streptococcus and MRSA (cause of rashes and skin infections) – which is a type of bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics. 

So, the next time you have a spot or rash on your face or go down with an upset tummy or the flu, don’t look at who you’ve been in contact with recently, take a long hard look at your mobile phone.

What should we do? Well, you can buy anti-bacterial cleaning packs specifically designed for electronic devices, or you could use standard rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel. Use cotton buds to get in to those nooks and crannies and, finally, don’t forget to take your cover off and clean that too.

Now, I can’t help you with your phone hygiene but I can help keep your SEO nice and clean so why not get in touch, 01793 238020 or andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and we can have a chat about SEO, Social Media or any other form of digital marketing.

Why would anyone want to hack my website?

log on boxWith the news that 30m credit and debit card details from US customers and over 1m sets of card details belonging to visitors to the US, have been put up for sale on the Dark Web following a malware attack against US convenience retailer Wawa I thought I’d take time out to explain why small businesses are just as at-risk from hacking as large organisations.

But first, let’s take a look of some of the major security breaches that occurred last year. According to Risk Based Security’s Data Breach Report there were 5,183 breaches by the end of September 2019 alone. These exposed more than 7.9 billion records. This was a 33.3% increase on the same period in 2018.

Here are some of the worst breaches.

  • Orvibo Smart home products – 2 billion records discovered on an unprotected database. These comprised of private individuals, hotels and businesses who were using Orvibo’s smart home devices. The data included email addresses, passwords, user names, family names and addresses.
  • Dream Market Breach – 617m online account details stolen from 16 hacked websites, including MyFitnessPal (151m). Data stolen included user names, passwords and email addresses.
  • Canva – 139m records stolen, names, user names, passwords, email addresses and location.
  • Capital One – 106m records hacked with names, addresses, credit scores, email addresses, dates of birth and more stolen.
  • Words with Friends – 218m records stolen, including names, email addresses, passwords, phone numbers and, where linked, Facebook ID info

However, these are just some of the ones that hit the headlines. Thousands don’t,  particularly attacks on smaller businesses. Research indicates that nearly 70% of SME’s experience cyber attacks (Ponemon State of SMB Cyber Security 2018) but why SMEs?

I talk to many people who believe their businesses are too small to have anything of value to the hackers. However, the truth is that they are too small to have a dedicated cyber security officer/specialist and so are easy targets.

Let’s take websites – most businesses use WordPress – over 1/3rd of websites use it. There’s nothing wrong with WordPress but, as the world’s most popular web development tool, it is also the hackers main target. (A bit like the way Windows is targeted compared to Apple’s operating system – its all in the number of targets)

WordPress is pretty secure and there are Plugins to make it more so BUT you have to keep everything up to date. Keep WordPress up to date, keep your plugins updated too because if you don’t you might be leaving holes in your security for the bad guys to exploit. 

But why would they?

  • Small companies are frequently connected to larger organisations and they might be a way in
  • Hacked systems can store illegal material
  • Hacked systems can be used in attacks on other websites (DDoS)
  • Hacked systems can host Malware
  • Hacked systems could provide access to valuable Intellectual Property
  • Hacked systems could provide easy access to other valuable data

Malware

Safer Internet DayImagine you have a reasonably popular website. Hackers will look to gain access to your site and plant malware on it that will automatically download (and install) itself on the computers of everyone who visits your website. The malware could allow the hackers to record the keystrokes of infected machines, could enable the hackers to take remote control of infected machines or turn them in to storage depots for illegal material.

Imagine how your reputation will suffer when this comes to light. 

  1. Keystroke recorders
    A keystroke recorder does what it says on the tin, it records every single keystroke made on a keyboard and secretly transmits it to a malicious 3rd party. This could be bank/card details, online shopping details, log-in user names and passwords, and much more
  2. Remote Control – DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack)
    With the ability to remotely control your PC, and hundreds or thousands of others, malicious 3rd parties can “take down” target websites simply by overwhelming them with more web traffic than the website can cope with. Remember what happens to the Glastonbury website when the tickets are released – although not malicious the number of people desperate to get their tickets tend to bring the website to its knees as soon as tickets are made available

    Imagine a bookmakers website going off line a week before a major betting event. They’d be contacted by the Cyber Criminals who will admit responsibility. The bookmakers will then be told to “pay up” or their website will be blocked again, much closer to “big day” and prevent bets being placed.
  3. Illegal data storage
    Imagine the scene. There you are working in your office and there’s a battering ram through the door followed by police storming in with a warrant to take ALL of your computing devices. Your business will grind to a halt but why have you been targeted? Simples, as the meerkats say – the police have identified one or more of your computers/servers as the source of illegal material. This could be pirated software, music, films or worse. In the worst case scenario this information hits the local (and possibly national media) and your reputation is trashed. And you may not even have been at fault!
  4. GDPR
    Under all of the above scenarios you’ll probably have to report the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) under GDPR. After investigation, If your security and procedures are found wanting then you might be liable for a fine. GDPR states that fines can be up to 4% of your turnover, and that’s no laughing matter

How do I prevent this happening to me

No security system is 100% watertight, there are just too many variables and access points. The closer you get to 100% the more expensive it becomes to close those last few security percentage points. However, like home security, your job is to make sure that your security is as good as it can be so that the bad guys choose an easier target.

Get in touch with a good IT company or Cyber Security company or you could #AskAndy. Drop me an email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020 and we can start the ball rolling. I know that I’m not a security consultant but I know quite a bit and can always point you in the direction of a trusted third party if you need more help.



Christmas is coming, don’t let the hackers get fat

Christmas is nearly here, people are beginning the big “wind down” and it would be so easy to let your guard down too.

Andy, checking out websites as part of his work

Well, let me tell you, the hackers and cyber criminals won’t – it anything they’ll be ratcheting up their activity because they know that our minds will be on other things.

You know, things like Christmas parties, gifts, food, television and everything else that’s associated with the season of goodwill.

So, vigilance must remain high, both in the office and when working from home. Keep your eyes open for suspicious looking emails, especially those coming from unexpected quarters, with messages that promise much, such as tax refunds or deliveries of items you don’t remember ordering. Also beware of emails with links to websites that look OK but in reality will do harm.

It’s also a good idea to take a fresh look at your password security. SplashData have just released their ninth annual “Worst Passwords of the Year” list which has been compiled from more than 5m passwords that have ended up on the Dark Web after being purloined by hackers.

Unfortunately, not a lot has changed over previous lists

  1. 123456 (same place as 2018)
  2. 123456789 (up 1 place)
  3. qwerty (a return to the top 5 for this old favourite)
  4. password (slips two places)
  5. 1234567 (up 2)
  6. 12345678 (falls out of the top 5)
  7. 12345 (falls by 2 places)
  8. iloveyou (this perennial is up 2 places from 10 in 2018)
  9. 111111 (yes, people do use this although it’s fallen 3 places from last year)
  10. abc123 (up 7 and breaking in to the top 10)

You can see passwords from 11 to 25 here.

SplashData estimates that at least 1 in 10 people have used at least one of these poor passwords.

Data breaches are inevitable but by using strong, unique passwords for each individual account that you have makes the theft of one password much less of a disaster than if you use the same (or close variant) across all of your accounts.

3 simple tips to make your digital life more secure

  1. Use passphrases (random word combinations) of 12 characters or more with mixed character types
  2. Use a different password for each of your log-ins so if you loose one password you haven’t lost all of the keys to your digital empire
  3. Use a password manager to secure your digital assets, to generate random password combinations, store them securely and make them available across all of your devices

And PLEASE, if this applies to to you – STOP USING PASSWORD or 12345678 and use one of these instead

Top Password Managers (in no particular order)

Have a great Christmas, a happy new year and I look forward to communicating with you in the new year. If you need any help, please, just ask. You can reach me by phone – 01793 238020 – email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or just hunt me down on Social Media.

However, I hope to enjoy Christmas too so may be slower than normal in responding to your requests. I’ll be back in the office on January 2nd.

How Google’s BERT helped catch a cow fishing

Google logo

I know, I know, you can’t really catch a cow when you go fishing, can you? Well, you can when you realise that a cow is actually another name for a large, striped, saltwater game fish.

And BERT  (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a major update to the Google search algorithm that has nothing to do with Transformers films or toys

What does BERT do?

Google has been consistently trying to understand the context of the words used in Google searches. In the early days of Google they just searched on the words used in the query without attempting to understand the context. So, if you wanted to go on holiday to Majorca and wanted a hotel with a swimming pool you might search using “Hotel Majorca Swimming Pool” for example.

However, your results might include the Hotel Majorca on Swimming Pool Road in Lowestoft or a hotel on Majorca Avenue in Andover or other results based on any combination of the words without understanding the real nature of your search.

Next up came semantic search which was Google’s first attempt to understand context of searches but my experience was that it wasn’t really that much of an improvement on what went before.

And this is where BERT comes in, BERT is a “deep learning algorithm that is related to natural language processing” and it helps a machine to actually understand what the words in a sentence mean, and can take in to account all of the nuances that are included in human speech.

Roger Monti of the Search Engine Journal was looking for a search phrase that he could use to demonstrate how context was interpreted and settled on “how to catch a cow fishing”.

Before BERT, Google returned a lot of results based on livestock and cows in particular. However, following the BERT roll out Google used “fishing” to understand the context and the same search, conducted, by Roger, at the end of October was full of striped bass and fishing related results.

A striped bass being held by a fisherman
A Striped Bass

Do I have to do anything on my website?

Not really. You just need to make sure that you continue to deliver quality, focused content and continue to use synonyms where relevant and appropriate.

BERT is currently rolling out globally and so may not have reached a Google Server near you, yet,

If you DO need some help with your website, search engine optimisation and/or your social media and email marketing you can always get in touch for a chat – 01793 238020 or andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

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