Do You Know Who Your Target Market Is?

Lesson number one in marketing is ‘know your target audience’. The same is true for online marketing. Whether you use traditional marketing such as search engine marketing, or the latest in social media marketing, the same is still true. Obtaining demographic figures can be difficult, but there are a few sites around that offer them.

For search engine marketing, Google Adwords is one of many that allows ad placement based on demographics. When it comes to social media, you need to know where your audience is before jumping in with a marketing campaign. In either case, it makes no sense targeting areas that have few people in your target group.

Over 30s have been one of the fastest growing groups on Facebook while Myspace continues to be popular with youth (although there are still large numbers of young people on Facebook). Targeting Myspace when your audience is over 30 could be a big mistake.

I know many website owners don’t even consider who their target audience is much less target them. This is a little like using a scatter-gun to hunt ducks – if you spray enough pellets you may hit one or two. In the meantime you waste a lot of pellets.

Determine who is most likely to need your website. Find out where they hang out on the internet (and you could be in for some surprises there) then target those areas with your marketing. The scatter-gun approach is only wasting your time and money and rarely results in any business growth. If you want growth – find an audience that will help you grow.

January 31st, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

Building Geo Targeted One Way Links

For those of us here in Scotland, there are times when it can be difficult competing in the search results for businesses located in England, particularly London. Geo targeting can help build your overall profile in our region. There are numerous methods to use and we have covered some of these over the past few weeks. Today we look at inbound one way links and how to geo target these.

First off, building one way links can be difficult. You can network with fellow business owners in your region and exchange links with them, however, these are two way, not one way. To gain geo targeted one way links, you need to look at basic one way linking methodology.

The basic premise of a geo targeted one way link is that your target area is included in the link. Whether it’s a town, region or all of Scotland, use that data inside your links. How do we get the links? Like I said, back to basics:

Articles: Article marketing is one way of obtaining one way links – and lots of them if you can write great articles. Be sure to include your geo data inside the link in the resource box – be resourceful and make variations.

Web 2.0 Properties: There are a lot of web 2.0 properties around at present. Tumblr is one that has a high PR while HubPages and Squidoo can be pretty popular when it comes to traffic. You could also consider a Ning network. These can all provide one way links (geo targeted, of course) and traffic if the articles are well written.

Video: Video is another web 2.0 tool that is starting to deliver significant results. Good quality videos on sites like YouTube, while only delivering one link, can help to boost a site. If your video is used frequently on other sites, that one link can send a lot of juice to your site.

Directories: submitting your site to directories can also be a source of one way links. The big problem with directories is that many of them don’t allow too much freedom when it comes to anchor text. Where you can create your own anchor text – don’t forget to geo target them.

I hope you have noticed two messages running through this post – number one, write good quality material that is going to attract readers, and number two – use geographic terms in your links.

January 30th, 2010 by Editor | 1 Comment »

E-mail Marketing For Offline Businesses

E-mail marketing is often thought of as an online tool delivering information to online consumers. In fact, one of the most powerful marketing tools for bricks and mortar businesses is e-mail marketing. You don’t even need a web site although it does help.

Bricks and mortar businesses, or offline businesses, are perfectly placed to collect information from customers that can be stored in a database. It is actually one of the oldest forms of marketing using a computer. I was struck over the holiday period by the number of businesses that were offering Christmas hampers as prizes in a raffle draw. How did you enter? You filled in a form that included your email address.

Thinking back, I am also struck by the number of businesses that don’t collect this information. There is an argument that suggests these people are already customers so why spend dollars marketing to them? I have one answer – there is always the potential to sell more.

E-mail marketing is becoming a popular tool again, especially if, as a business, you can value add. This means giving something to your customers, even if it’s only information in the form of helpful articles. Some successful campaigns are now providing customers with discounts vouchers that are only available to newsletter subscribers.

It all comes back to costs. E-mail marketing is one of the least expensive forms of marketing yet. Done well, it converts very highly. Offline businesses have a steady flow of possible subscribers – the tricky part is getting them to subscribe.

January 29th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

Promoting Social Media Marketing From Your Shop Front

Social media marketing is a new arena for many business owners, particularly those that have a bricks and mortar store. Having a web page and claiming their business through Google Local is often as far they go. For those that are taking the next step, are you targeting your region or are you targeting the world?

If you’re involved with social media marketing, who are you telling? You can work long and hard on some social sites but at the end of the day, have very little in the way of local contacts to show for your troubles. Whilst I don’t suggest you stop working away at gaining new contacts and promoting your business, there can be easier ways to build numbers.

Are you promoting your online presence from within your business? This may sound like a waste of time. After all, they are already your customers. That question is, What is going to work in your favour? They are your customers and if they are repeat customers, they must be fairly happy with your products and services. Use that to advantage by prompting them to join you online.

There are several ways you can prompt them. A sign inside your shop displaying where you can be found online often works. Printing up small flyers that you can include with their purchase is another suggestion. If you are willing to do the work, get your customers to fill out a survey that asks them which social media sites they prefer and whether or not they are willing to be added to your list of contacts – if they are, don’t forget to get their details so you can find them.

You have the perfect base of contacts in front of you everyday. By adding your business to their list of contacts you are making yourself available to their list. Chances are, if asked, your customer will recommend you and they will add you as well – every new person added is potentially a new customer. You will be surprised at how quickly you can grow your social media marketing contacts list using this method. You don’t need to work harder – just a little smarter.

January 28th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

How To List Your UK Business In Yahoo! and Bing Local

Getting your UK business listed in Google Local is fairly easy. Go to Google Local and follow the guides to claim your business. Try to do the same with Yahoo! and Bing and you will hit a blank wall. There is very little in the way of information to help you list your UK business for these two search engines. Never fear, we have done the hard work for you. You get the easy part – filling in your business details.

Neither Yahoo! nor Bing maintain a local search directory in the UK. For Yahoo!, you need to go through a third party site called Infoserve. Their web address is http://search.infoserve.com/. Fill in the details of your business and they will contact you to complete the listing. You can also get listed with CityVisitor and Sky Search Local using the one form.

For Bing, first observations suggest that Bing is not delivering local search results in the UK. Search users will tell you differently so after some convoluted research, I found the third party – or in this case, the fourth party.

Bing sources local search information through MultiMap.com. Multi Map is the web’s oldest mapping service and has been acquired by MicroSoft and added to the Bing network. However, don’t go to MultiMap – they source business information through MarketLocation.com. As with Yahoo!, fill in the form and they will handle things from there.

It seems strange that neither Yahoo! nor Bing have clearly labeled links to these sites. Perhaps they don’t want users knowing that they are not the primary source of the information. Whatever the reason, if you have a business in the UK then you do need to appear in as many local search databases as possible.

A third, smaller option, is UK-Local-Search.co.uk. Although smaller again than Bing or Yahoo!, it is still worth entering your business details. Every listing helps, even if it only delivers a handful of traffic.

January 27th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

Adding Geo Data To Your Meta Description

If you target local search then you need to find every little tweak possible to lift your site’s profile within the search engines. Meta tags don’t do a lot on their own, yet little by little they can work to your advantage. Take the description tag as an example.

Your meta description tag is the first place that search engines like Google look at when determining what information to include as the snippet with your listing in search results. If the data is relevant to the search term then it used as is – if it isn’t then Google will look elsewhere on the page for more relevant data. You can make that snippet more relevant for your location by including geographical information.

Google is one search engine that is now looking at the user’s IP address and determining where they are in the world. Based on this information, Google will try to deliver results relevant to them. For example, if a user searches using a search term such as “buy used tyres” and their IP address indicates they are from Glasgow – there is a good chance that Google will deliver results from the Glasgow area. Results that include used tyres from London would be useless for the searcher.

If your snippet stated “Glasgow’s leading supplier of used tyres” or similar, it may just win that click from the searcher. It makes sense to include your geographical details in the snippet if you are providing a service to a particular area. The meta description tag is where you place this data and hopefully Google and the other search engines will use it.

There is the added advantage that it reinforces the fact that you are providing a search for that particular region. When it comes to geographical information, you can be as broad as necessary. You can target Scotland as in “Scotland’s leading supplier of……”; UK, United Kingdom or just Britain. You are not limited to just your local area. A well crafted web site will have pages that have been optimised for each of those regions if it’s applicable.

It’s such a small change yet it can increase your traffic significantly. Ironically, the more successful click-through’s you get, the higher up in the rankings you will go. If you target local search, every little tweak helps.

January 26th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

Are Rich Snippets The Next Big Issue For SEO?

Rich snippets – your first thought is probably, “What are they?” Let me start from the start.

SEO is all about getting your pages listed as high up as possible in search results. Everyone longs for that coveted number one spot – but guess what, you can have number one and still get little in the way of traffic. So SEO is not just about rankings; it is also about getting traffic – targeted traffic at that – onto the right page of your site for the right keywords. If your site is set up properly, it will do the rest of the work.

Converting your number one position in the search results to viable traffic is all down to one thing – the snippet that appears with your listing. You can try to influence this by having a good meta description, however, Google, for one, will decide for itself what it thinks is most appropriate for that snippet. Enter the latest in cool strategies for SEO – rich snippets.

Search engines are not currently implementing these across the board. However, many feel that it is only a matter of time, and that 2010 could well be the year of the rich snippet. Rich snippets add extra information that search engines may find useful. This information could include reviews, product information such as prices or product launch dates for example.

Rich snippets are added using either microformats or RDFa (Resource Description Framework (a)) scripts. WebProNews describes it as:

a W3C recommendation, which adds a set of attribute level extensions to XHTML for embedding rich metadata within web documents.

Should you use it? It’s early days yet. However, if you’re serious about SEO then I suggest you keep your eyes open on the topic over the next 12 months, particularly when it comes to Google and whether or not they will incorporate rich snippets across all sites. For users, it will certainly add more information to help them make decisions. For site owners, whilst it creates a little more work, it may just help to sell your snippet when it appears near the top of the search results.

January 25th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

UK Search Up 35% In 2009 – Who Says Search Is Dead?

If anyone tries to tell you that search is dying or dead – don’t believe them. At least, if you check the statistics from comScore for search 2008-2009 it may open your eyes a little. Year on year for global search, the numbers are up 46%. That represents a huge jump.

Breaking the numbers down, it may seem that a couple of anomalies could have swayed these figures. Russia, for example, was up 92% – however, in the bigger picture, Russia only accounts for around 4% of all searches so, while their increase was huge, it won’t have had a major bearing on the overall numbers.

The numbers that do interest us is the rise in search here in the UK. That is up by 35% – or in pure numbers, an increase of around 1.6 billion searches. The UK was the fourth highest behind the US, China and Japan in terms of search numbers. France saw a growth of 61% and Germany 38% so the rise in search in Europe in general is also up.

When it comes to search properties, Google still leads the way with growth at 58%. Microsoft properties rose by 70% while Yahoo! could only manage a 13% increase in volume. Other sites of interest include eBay up 58%, Facebook up 54% and the Ask network up 43%.

What does this mean for the future? Search is still strong and still growing. The increase in search for properties like eBay indicates an increase in consumer spending, or at least curiosity. I won’t go so far as to say an increase in consumer confidence until more robust statistics on general trade come out. However, a huge increase in eBay numbers mean that more people are starting to look at buying.

If you maintain a business that services the local community here in Scotland, now is the time to develop an online presence. With search numbers increasing, particularly when it comes to local and mobile searches, having presence may lead to an increase in traffic through your business. People are looking – will they find you or your competitors?

If you need more information on how to give your business an online presence, contact us. We can help you with everything from web design and hosting through to search engine optimisation and social marketing.

January 24th, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

Use A Blog To Target Local Long Tail Keywords

Blogs are one of the most useful tools available for any business that has an online presence. One of the benefits (and some say downfalls when it comes to time), is your ability to write something new and fresh every day. Not only that, you can target every possible variation of your main keywords using long tail phrases. This is especially useful for including local data that helps to lift your site in the rankings when it comes to local searches.

I have mentioned local search a few times just recently. I want to pause and point out one very important fact when it comes to local search. If you have claimed your business through Google Local then you may find you have significantly increased your profile when it comes to general searches. Google is now displaying local search results above fold for any relevant general searches. If you can take advantage of it – target local search factors. Blogs can help significantly in this area.

Take our region here in Scotland. Our business is based in Dundonald so if we were targeting Dundonald as search engine optimisation professionals, for example, it would make sense to mention this factor frequently in blog posts. This is even more important if there were significant search queries being made for ‘Dundonald SEO’, for example. Having said that, even if there are no searches made for this term, frequent use of the term will signal to the search engines that this is a location that we service.

There are many examples that I could use, these include:

  • Using photos of your shop front(s) in posts with all the right attributes
  • Using photos of products – again with all the right attributes
  • Including address details at the end of posts – eg, this item is only available at our store located at …….
  • Including trading hours – eg, our Dundonald store is open Monday-Saturday from 8am-8pm
  • Including telephone contact details – eg, contact our Dundonald store on 01563 850 072
  • Mentioning local events that your business may have sponsored. If not sponsored, make it a local interest story if you attended and can tie it into your niche

This is just a short list. If you put your mind to it, I am sure you could come up with a few more examples. The aim of these posts in a blog is to frequently mention the areas that your business services. If you target all of Scotland, for example, or all of the UK, then mention that wherever possible.

The end result is that your business will be strongly associated with these regions, towns or cities. Google, for one, is now targeting search results to users based on their geographic location. This is where you will have a distinct advantage over all of the big players.

January 23rd, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »

SEO For Scotland – 12 Basics Steps To Success

Businesses in Scotland serving a customer base in Scotland need to target their SEO to the Scotland region. That sounds logical, if a bit of a mouthful. But what does it take to target your SEO for a Scottish audience? Here are the basics which, if you can get right and follow religiously, will help you climb to the top of the search results.

  • Use a TLD (top level domain) that is appropriate to our region. In this case, a .co.uk TLD.
  • Have your domain hosted within our region – this means obtain hosting for your website at the very least, in the UK. If possible, get it closer to home here in Scotland.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools to geo-target our region.
  • Localise every page – this means to ensure your business contact details are on every page and that these contact details include the word Scotland – preferably the town (or towns) that you service.
  • Local directories – have your business listed in as many local online business directories as possible. Some charge a fee but in the the bigger picture, the fee is quite small.
  • Claim your business through Google Local.
  • Incorporate a social media campaign, particularly in UK based social sites. Be sure to use a language that frequently includes your town (or city) and the word Scotland
  • Include local place names, towns, or the word Scotland in your list of long tail keywords.
  • Use localised spelling, including terms and jargon that are applicable to our region.
  • Structure your link building program so that you gain as many inbound links from related .co.uk TLD’s as possible. Your aim should be to have more local inbound links than non-local.
  • Target press releases to local press organisations rather than firing them off to the world in general.
  • Include a blog and write regular posts related to your business, your products, and how they relate to Scotland. Be location specific where ever possible.

That’s a pretty good list of tasks to complete. However, once completed and carefully aimed at a Scotland customer base, you will find that your web pages will steadily climb the results pages for any local searches.

Better yet, if anyone requests a search using your targeted keywords and the words Scotland, local, or the name of a town you service, your pages should appear, if not number one, at least very close to the top. Target Scotland in your SEO and you’re on the road to success.

January 22nd, 2010 by Editor | No Comments »