Cluetrain Original

Cluetrain has New Clues – time for newbies to read the original!

I listened to the FIR podcast #790 and found that Cluetrain has been updated!

Cluetrain Original

Cluetrain Original

New Clues published in January and numbers 52-67 apply to our marketing communications world in particular. [see below]
Oh, and also pay attention to number 100
You want to know what to buy? The business that makes an object of desire is now the worst source of information about it. The best source is all of us.
It will be hard to adhere to them – because marketers are busy fouling their own nest, much as we did with banner adverts, SEO and oh-so-many other internet tools which we over-exploited so the makers ended up changing the rules to exclude our actions.
Seems to me ever more of a message about the quality of content, ease of discovery and honesty of presentation.

Your marketing strategy for 2015

If your marketing strategy for this year even remotely resembles what you did for the past 5 years tear it up.  Forget it.  The businesses who will thrive understand Cluetrain, they present their wares at least in part in a Cluetrain-format and will reap the $$ rewards accordingly.
Just call us if you think you want to change and don’t know how.

Rant over.

Now, what do you think?
I’m going to get my whole team to read Cluetrain original next week as their homework!

New Clues for Marketers

The New Clues that directly relate to the practice of marketing. Numbered from the original. Read more

The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO – The Easiest Way To Appear On Google

Google SEOGoogle’s new update – Hummingbird has changed Google’s algorithm. Fortunately, there are SEO properties that have and will remain constant. This article will illustrate the easy way to ensure your website is run optimally for both man and machine – the visitor and Google’s bots (crawler).

What you’ll find in this guide are a more concrete set of guidelines which are unlikely to change in the near future.

This means, delicate topics such as keywords and keyword density etc will not be discussed in this article as the rules surrounding them are prone to change.

As many of you will be aware, search engine optimisation is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. Only when viewed collectively will results begin to be noticeable – so don’t give up early on is the moral of the story.

 

Without further ado – The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO.

Page Titles

Page titles should define in a few words the content of the page. Effective page titles draw visitors to your site and give an indication to search engines the context of the page’s content.

  • Do: Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content
  • Don’t: Choose vague titles that have no relation to the content on the page or a default title such as “New Page 1”.

 

Metatags and Descriptions

Metatags and descriptions allow you to describe and/or summarise your pages content. Descriptions will be the snippet provided by google to help the visitor determine the value of the page before opening it. The text in the red box below is what the user sees.

MetaDescription

  • Do: Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description as a snippet in a search result.
  • Don’t: Write generic descriptions or use only keywords. Although no longer common, people have been known to paste an entire paragraph as the description.
  • Don’t: Repeat the same tags and descriptions across multiple pages.

 

URLs

*Changing your URL structure is not a small job! If it is ok currently then leave it as is.

Page URLs are often a difficult thing to effectively change if you’ve got a large website and/or have been using it heavily for a while. The reason for this is by changing the structure, all previous links will no longer work. The quick fix is of course to set up a redirect however this is far from ideal – to best utilise your site’s existing SEO capabilities you would have to correct all of the links. You’d probably still have to set up a redirect anyway as external sites linking to your page would also stop working.

  • Do: Your URL should contain words which are both relevant to your site and the individual page the URL links to.
  • Don’t: Choose generic page names such as “page1.html”
  • Don’t: Use unnecessary parameters/ID numbers
  • Don’t: Use excessive keywords, else risk getting the individual URL or even the whole site banned by Google.

 

Navigation

The menus on your site help visitors navigate your site. They also provide a template for creating an effective XML Sitemap which will help bots crawl your site. Having an effective menu layout is a win-win situation.

  • Do: Create a natural flowing hierarchy which makes it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your site.
  • Do: Use text for navigation as often as possible – not everything has to be in a dropdown menu! (what this means is that often you can navigate visitors to other pages effectively using text on the page as opposed to everything being exclusively in the menu)
  • Do: Submit an up to date XML Sitemap to Google for both your main site and any mobile sites you may have – (update regularly)
  • Do: Have a useful 404 page. Many 404 pages simply have an error. Include a link back to a useful page such as your home page or main news page.
  • Don’t: Create a difficult, complex linking structure by either linking to too many things (that the visitor is unclear what to click) or by breaking your content up (so to increase number of pages but the visitor has to visit multiple pages unnecessarily)
  • Don’t: Have a navigation system based entirely on dropdown menus. As mentioned before, not only can this be frustrating for the user, it also has adverse SEO consequences.

 

Keep Your Text Easy To Read

Obvious really – the DON’Ts however will explain how Google can punish you for making your content hard to read.

  • Do: Write content that is easy to follow, concise and organised by using formatting options such as headings, bullet points etc
  • Do: Create fresh, unique content which is designed for your users, not search engines.
  • Don’t: Overuse headings/bolds/italics etc
  • Don’t: Use pictures to replace words. Pictures aren’t read by search engines which reduces SEO friendliness. Pictures also make it difficult for readers to copy/paste from your site (which although you might think this is a good thing, many would argue that the purpose of the internet is to share information).
  • Don’t: Deceptively hide text from users but displaying it to search engines (Such as having white text on a white background).

 

Links

Links on your page (both internal and external) are an important way of guiding visitors around your site. They also however help Search Engines decipher the page’s content and purpose.

  • Do: Try and describe what the link is linking to in the text. Hyperlinking keywords or phrases which define the link’s purpose will both help your visitor and Search Engines know what the link is pointing to.
  • Do: Format links so they are easy to spot (don’t try and trick visitors into thinking that normal text is actually a link). This means highlight them with a different colour.
  • Don’t: Use generic anchor text such as “click here”.

 

Images

Images help beautify a site. They also slow down loading speed so only use them sparingly and avoid using high-definition photos unless needed. Slow sites appear lower on Google’s search results.

  • Do: Use brief, descriptive filenames and alt text. This will help search engines know what the picture is about and will serve a double purpose if the picture doesn’t load, the visitor will know what should’ve been there.
  • Do: Supply alt text when using images as links. Similar to what was said in the Link section of this article to help describe the link.
  • Do: Supply an updated image sitemap file
  • Don’t: Stuff keywords into the alt text – it can get you blacklisted from Google!
  • Don’t: Use only images as links for your site’s navigation
  • Don’t: Overuse high-def images as this will significantly reduce site speed

 

Headings

Headings should be used to help visitors scan your page for the applicable information. Avoid using them for unimportant content.

  • Do: Use headings as an outline – the reader should be able to read just the headings and have a clear understanding of what the page is about.
  • Don’t: Place headings that don’t help clarify the page’s structure and summarise the page’s content
  • Don’t: Erratically change heading tag sizes or put all of the page’s text into a heading tag.
  • Don’t: Use heading styles when italics or bolding may be more appropriate

 

Robots.txt

Robot.txt

Robots.txt files tell search engines what to crawl and what to ignore. Used effectively, they can help bots crawl your pages more effectively and reduce spam. Used incorrectly – your whole site could disappear from Google. To find out more about Robots.txt files and how Google utilises them, check Google’s developer pages

  • Do: Have an up to date robots.txt file – perhaps even a second if you’re attempting to block ssl pages.
  • Don’t: Allow search result-like pages to be crawled.
  • Don’t: Allow URLs created by proxies to be crawled.

 

Promoting Your Site On Google

There are many ideas you can utilise to appear on Google. So long as you don’t spam or buy your links – you should be fine.

  • Do: Sign up for Google Places if appropriate to appear on Google Maps and web searches.
  • Do: Include your website URL in all of your online mailings (blogs, newsletters and social media posts).
  • Do: Guest blog and comment on other’s sites with links back to your own.
  • Don’t: Sign up for schemes where your content is artificially promoted to the top of selected services.
  • Don’t: Purchase links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank instead of traffic.
  • Don’t: Spam link requests to all sites related to your topic area.

 

Google’s Webmaster Tools

Google’s Webmaster Tools are a great way of monitoring and optimising your site – USE IT!

  • Do: Use it regularly to keep up to date with how Google’s bots see your site and whether there are any issues which can be resolved to make your site appear higher.
  • Do: Rectify any issue which Webmaster tools suggests.
  • Do: Utilise analytics and other tools available to optimise the most visited pages and help navigate users around your site.
  • Don’t: Do anything reckless which you don’t fully understand – you could block your entire website from appearing on Google if care isn’t taken.

Website not showing up in Google: BNI New Business Development tip of the week

THis week I’m focusing on a client whose website was not showing up on Google – not for pages and pages.

He knew this was a problem and had been overcoming it by paying for SEO to put it onto the top of search.  But he knows this is a short term solution which he doesn’t want to continue.

We investigated and found 3 quick things to correct

  1. Site meta tags were not populated
  2. Blog was created as a page not posts
  3. Photo Alt tags weren’t used and images were uploaded with the camera image id (long string numbers)

So some easy quick fixes.

Medium term, we’re teaching them how to use links and key words in blog posts which will reinforce search queries as well as social sharing and reciprocation.

 

Check out Otautahi Tattoo’s amazing story as refugees from the Christchurch earthquake and relocation, growth and reinvigoration in Auckland – the photo is of All Black Keven Mealamu having his latest ‘rose’ design added.

Otautahi Tattoo with Keven Mealamu All Black rugby player

Otautahi Tattoo with Keven Mealamu All Black rugby player

How to use List.ly as a Marketing tool

What is List.ly?

List.ly is a list building website that allows you to build and curate shareable lists. These  are then viewable by others.

People can ‘like’, ‘dislike’, comment or even add items to the list.  This results in a list that re-organises items based on their popularity.  You can then embed these lists in your website or blog. So, rather than directing traffic to lists you’ve built on Facebook or Twitter, you can keep that traffic on your own site!  One of our first principles of marketing: build your own audience on assets you own.

Getting started with List.ly

Customised list header on list.ly

Creating lists is simple. Go to the list.ly site and click create a ‘new list’, then put in a name and description. Then all thats left is to add your content, simple.

By delving into the advanced options you can also create branding on your list. The advanced options allow you to add tags, a header image and links back to your website.  This means that Listly will also help you promote your brand through the header image, and also give you another backlink to your website.

How can brands and agencies use List.ly?

Product FeedBack

There is huge potential for brands to leverage Listly in order to gather customer feedback. Feedback is key in developing new products or making adjustments to existing products. Listly can be leveraged to create feedback, and even to get new insights into what your customers want.

Simply create a list of your products (or even future product ideas) and watch how customers interact with it. They will vote up the products they like, and vote down the products they don’t or they can leave comments.

In addition to this give them the opportunity to contribute their own ideas. If they add something to the list that resonates with your other customers it will climb up the ranks and give you new products/developments to consider. The best part of this is that not only are you getting ideas that your existing customers want and will buy, you’re getting them for FREE!

As a bonus you will also receive alerts from Listly when someone adds an item to your list. So you always know when something is added to your list, as well as who added it. You can also follow other peoples lists. This feature helps you to stay up to date with the how lists you’re following are changing and the new ideas that are being added.

Lists of Tips

Creating an industry specific list of tips allows you to easily find out what content your followers engage with the most. By following what tips people are voting up or down you are able to see what they want to know more about. This allows you to better plan out your blogs to appeal directly to your audience and will help to prevent you wasting time producing content that your audience isn’t interested in.

These ideas only highlight some of the potential that list.ly can offer in terms of content and product development strategies.

Do you have any other strategies? Have you used list.ly? Let us know your thoughts.


Alexa Rank Demystified: Part 2 – How to interpret Alexa Rank

Alexa provides users with 7 different categories of information that can be used to get an idea of how their website ranks.

This information can be extremely effective when trying to determine where the strengths and weaknesses of your website lie, and how to go about fixing any weakness. However at first glance, these tools may not appear as self-explanatory as you might think, but once you understand them they can provide you the insights you require to improve your overall Alexa rank. In addition to this, these analytics can be directly compared to competitors in order to gain an idea of the areas where each website is lacking, or holds an advantage. Here is a run-down of the statistical tools that Alexa can provide;

  • Daily Traffic Trend: The Daily Traffic Trend does exactly what it says it will. It tells you your daily traffic and how this trends over time.
  • Daily Reach (%): The Daily Reach lets you know what percentage of internet users, monitored by Alexa (ie. Toolbar users) that you reach on a daily basis. Therefore a ranking of 1 means you reach 1% of all traffic reported to Alexa.
  • Daily Page Views (%):  Daily page views are a request to load a single page off of your website.
  • Page Views per User:  This takes the page views a step further. This tool tells you how many pages each visitor views once arriving at your page.
  • Bounce Rate (%):  This is the amount of times that a visitor will load only a single page of your website. This is where the tools get more interesting. A high bounce rate can suggest that there are problems with your website, which need to be addressed in order to improve your standings.
  • Time on site (Minutes): This once again does what the name suggests; it tells you how many minutes are spent viewing your website.
  • Search Visits (%): This tool shows you what percentage of your visits come from search engines, once again this can help identify issues, especially if you have a high bounce rate.

What can these tell me?

Well these seven tools can be used to gauge where your websites strengths lie, and also what weaknesses need to be remedied. For example a website that receives huge amounts of traffic, but has a high bounce rate, and low minutes spent on the page suggests people are being drawn in, but does it not fulfil on the promises used to get people onto the page. Combine this with a high percentage of search visits and you get the message that your SEO is effective, but your content is letting you down, and letting your visitors escape.

So what’s next? If you can, search for your website’s statistics, and try to find where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so that you can determine where you need to make changes, and let us know how you go in the comments.

If you can’t see more than your page rank, the next post in this series will be all about improving your ranking, so this will be for you.

Pay-with-a-tweet: helpful content marketing tool

Are you a business that gives away your content free (as we do)?

Pay With a Tweet

Want to get some reciprocal publicity from your work?

Take a look at Pay with a Tweet from the creative folks at Innovative Thunder

We got a free download e book from Naked Marketing Manifesto

They got promoted using our twitter account

Symbiosis and ‘payback’ all in one!

Name checking tool for social media sites

Awesome, lovely superb…. just finding which social media sites exist today is hard but having to chase round and research available ‘names’ on each one for a new client – time consuming.
Thank heavens for the wonderful people at NameChk.com

They do the grunt for you.

Now all I need is to go register the name…. there’s a handy text download file option that gives you the URL you could get for each one.

Just don’t expect me to know what they all do!

NameCheck social media name availability

Top 10 must-read Business Development Blogs

If you are in business development, it’s important to stay connected to the buzz in the marketplace.  One of the hard things is to find a single place to gather all your news sources.  Biz dev can be written about in marketing magazines,  books, industry magazines, online in blogs and forums.  It’s a disparate subject and isn’t easy to collate for easy consumption.

I find two main sources helpful – Twitter and RSS feeds.  If you aren’t using a feed reader, it is really useful because it gathers all your RSS sources into one place.  Consider trying out Google Reader or Feedly.

Today I publish the ones I read most often

  1. Fuel Lines
  2. B2B Lead Generation
  3. Social Media B2B
  4. Creative Brief
  5. RSW
  6. Alchemis New Business
  7. Blowin’ in the Tradewind
  8. Digital Body Language
  9. BL Ochman’s Blog
  10. Web Liquid

I should add that the last couple are more about internet marketing but they often give me great ideas for campaigns and articles to write for CreativeAgencySecrets.

Any more biz dev blogs I should be reading?  Send over your suggestions.

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time