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Search Marketing

The Whiteclick SEO blog aims to keep you up to date with the latest in the search engine optimisation and marketing industry and the company.

Are you a purple cow? Case Study: How to use social media to differentiate your business from the crowded paddock

Jessica Graham - Friday, June 24, 2011

A few weeks ago I attended a networking seminar where online boutique Shoes of Prey entrepreneur Jodie Fox spoke about the inspiration behind her custom-made shoe manufacturing business and the key role social media played in helping to build their loyal customer base

The key take-aways were:

  • Always remember that your customers have a choice - as a brand, you need to be personally relevant online or your target audience won't be engaged. The onus is on the brand to inspire the customer, and that can't be achieved by a one-sided advertisement spruiking your products.
  • The Purple Cow theory - Imagine you are driving past a field of cows, how much notice do you really take? Now imagine that same field of brown cows, but this time there is a purple one grazing smack bang in the middle! - would you stop the car, or turn around to take a closer look? Of course you would!What are you currently doing to differentiate your business from the crowd?
  • Customer service is a marketing expense, NOT an operations expense - with the rise of online networking, brands really can't afford for a customer to have a bad experience as more than likely they will vent online to their network; yet visa versa if you provide a fantastic service, their personal recommendation can act as a powerful advertisement for your products.
  • Constantly run searches on twitter and facebook for mentions of your company - how can you be an ambassador for your brand if you aren't aware of what is being said about you in the marketplace? Don't ignore negative comments - address these personally and turn a negative into a positive.
  • Measure everything you do - nothing is anecdotal, and a huge advantage of social media is that it is a highly visible marketing tool - you can instantly see what is working for you and what is not.

As she spoke it was obvious how passionate Jodie is about her business, and more importantly how the daily interaction she strives to have with her customers on a personal basis through sites like twitter, facebook and direct email really do set Shoes of Prey apart from their competition.

It got me wondering how other businesses engage with their market online - Do you? If so, how? What has worked? And what hasn't?


Google Stops Supporting Older Browsers

Pranil Singh - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On the 1st of June Google announced their plans to no longer support older browsers for a range of their web applications. But there's an interesting bit of text that says "we'll support the current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis". What does this mean? Well, it's something that Apple do with iOS development. Only the most current version of the software, and the prior release will be supported, officially. And there's no mention of Opera, which is raising a few eyebrows. A quick skim of the comments on the page highlights this.

As a developer, it's great news. There is a shocking amount of time invested in making websites (and web applications for that matter) compatible with old browsers. Yes, I'm talking about you IE 6. Those older browser flat out don't support new technology like HTML5 and CSS3. And don't get me started on transparent images...
But it's a necessary evil, especially when dealing with corporate/enterprise/government clients. A large amount of these clients are running Windows XP, with, you guessed it, IE6. Why? That is a great question. Most likely the IT administrators don't trust the newer versions of Windows. And maybe they're not interested in upgrading browsers across multiple client machines. Microsoft stopped mainstream support of XP Service Pack 3 in April 2009. Yes, over 2 years ago...however it will still be supported in a 'reduced-support' phase until 2014.

In any case, with moves like this from search engine companies like Google we can only hope that people start upgrading browsers, enabling developers to spend less time fixing bugs, and more time creating outstanding websites and applications!

Google's Social Search Update

Giles White - Monday, February 21, 2011

20 things I learned about the web

Brad Hook - Friday, December 24, 2010
If you're looking for some web-related festive reading you can't do much better than 20 Things I Learned About the Web, which is a beautifully crafted website created by some people who appear to know a lot about the internet. They're called Google, or something like that.

http://www.20thingsilearned.com/

You'll learn a whole lot about the evolution of the web, how browsers work and just how cloud computing is going to transform our lives. Best of all, the site is completely developed using HTML5 and CSS3, effectively showcasing coding technologies of the not-so-distant future. 

Tip: Use Chrome or the latest version of Firefox for maximum viewing pleasure.

Keyword Research for Global Organisations

Grant Hilton - Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Another new nifty tool from Google has just been released called the “Global Market Finder”.  The tool allows you to find the geographic distribution of a keyword and is very handy for multi-national companies selling products.

Why is this so?

It provides business owners and online marketers to see the difference in popularity of products in different global markets. For example “Product X” may be popular in the USA and receive thousands of searches per month but that doesn’t mean “Product X” is popular in “Japan” or even neighbouring “Canada”. Therefore the new “Global Market Finder” tool can be used as a marketing tool to identify which products will be popular by country or alternatively identify relevant keywords to a product that are more popular to a specific country.


Google Global Market Finder

There are a number of other useful tools that can be used for keyword research and they include the following:


Now the latest SEO keyword tool to add to the list is the Global Market Finder!

Even Faster Websites

Brad Hook - Friday, October 29, 2010

The aroma of freshly ground coffee greeted delegates arriving for Web Directions South 2010. As one of the industry's most anticipated events it was with excitement that I planned out my schedule for the day. There was everything from digital publishing and design interactions using storytelling through to HTML5 and CSS3. But appropriately, after four coffees, the afternoon session I found myself jittering towards was "Even Faster Websites" by Steve Souder.

Steve is seriously nerdy. His obsession with finding the most efficient way of performing tasks become apparent when he recounted his university days and how he calculated the number of steps across a range of different routes to the computer room. Of course it wasn't just a case of straight step count: Steve would have factored in corridor bandwidth, student traffic levels, server load (i.e. his leg energy) and the numerous other considerations a great mind such as his might take into account. I would have been more concerned about my search visibility and ranking whilst passing by the female dormitories.

But I digress. Now employed at Google, Steve knows what works on the internet and so it was to a packed main auditorium that he starting explaining just how and why websites should be faster.

"Making websites faster affects the bottom line" Steve stated simply.

And he backed this up with statistics showing exactly how much of an affect it has. Thoroughly convinced, the audience willed him to reveal how we can make our websites faster. Our collective desperation was tangible.

Steve stepped forward with a slightly tilted head and dropped the bomb, revealing that despite the goodness it gives us in terms of user interaction: Javascript is the main culprit. Having all those scripts loading in the <HEAD> tags of a web page creates a bottleneck that stops the page content from being delivered. Due to browser constraints on the number of concurrent downloads and the fact that scripts take priority, only once all of your Javascript has loaded will the page's <BODY> start to render. If you're serving JQuery, mootools, scriptaculous and who knows what else then in those extra seconds of wait time - especially on the user's first page view which is arguably the most important - concentration wanes, frustration increases and you can almost hear potential revenue ticking down the drain.

So how do we increase speed and conversions whilst retaining the interactivity Javascript enables?

Load it asynchronously by dynamically appending your scripts to the DOM (Document Object Model, which is the page as an entity) after everything else has loaded. It's simple but very powerful. This means that as soon as a user hits your page the text and image content starts rendering and they feel that your website is responsive: they are not left staring at the white screen of wait. And by the time they are ready to take action your Javascript will have loaded in the background.

Examples of sites that have harnessed this approach effectively are Google (of course), Facebook and Twitter. Bing apparently is the best, which is quite something coming from a Google employee. But you do get the sense that Steve is not swayed by corporate politics or bias. What he cares about more than anything is making websites faster.

From a technical perspective adopting this approach does require a fair bit of crafting by web developers. It also requires a lot of scoping to ensure correct implementation across larger sites - and, of course, testing. But if you have a need for speed (and who doesn't?) then the extra build time is worth it.

Steve finished off by providing some great tools for measuring website speed. These include:


You should also install Firebug in Firefox and then get the YSlow and Page Speed add-ons for more in-depth analysis and recommendations for improvement of live web pages.

Steve's session was my unexpected favourite of Web Directions South 2010. His unpretentious manner combined with his vast expertise and real passion for the subject made a long-lasting impression.

I'll leave this blog post here as I'm now getting far too excited about coding some Ferrari-fast web pages of my own.

'Til next time remember, "Rendering first and executing JavaScript second is the key to a faster Web."

Not running regular search term reports? You could be wasting your AdWords budget on irrelevant clicks…

Samantha Hasler - Thursday, October 28, 2010

One of the many pitfalls of AdWords campaign management is failing to monitor the actual search terms triggering your adwords ads.

Why?

Because irrelevant search terms could be sucking up your daily budget…You must take action now!

By regularly running search query reports you can reveal new keywords to include in your campaigns and also to identify those pesky irrelevant keywords you should be setting as negatives.

If you’re running broad match keywords in your campaign you’ll see a feature of broad match is the broad-session match keyword. Broad-session match looks at other queries that the user has entered during their current search session to target ads - these queries are marked as "Broad Match (Session-Based)”.

The problem with broad-session match is the lack of control you have over your ad appearing for what Google deems a ‘relevant’ search query in the same user’s session. It’s impossible to plan and exclude every possible search a user may type in during the same session.

Because Google’s mechanism for identifying relevant broad match and broad-session match keywords is far from perfect, it’s vital you keep a close eye on your search query reports and add irrelevant search queries as negative keywords where required. Your vigilance should extend across your entire campaign on a monthly basis at the very least.

Historically, the query match column within the search query report has shown how close a user's search query was (in terms of match type) to an actual keyword in your account. Now you’ll find query match data under the campaign tab within your account.

How can I see the actual search terms used to generate my ads?

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click the Keywords tab.
  4. Click the See search terms button above your statistics table.
  5. Select All from the menu to analyze the search terms for all your listed keywords. To only see search terms for specific keywords, first select the checkboxes for the keywords you're interested in, then click Select from the menu.

Your search term data appears on the next page. And don’t forget to schedule the report to be sent to your email on a monthly basis.

Secrets of white-label PPC

Giles White - Friday, October 22, 2010

OK, so you want to offer your clients pay-per-click but are unsure of the value in outsourcing it to a PPC agency. Convenience? Yep, that one’s an easy win. Cost? Yep, you’ll have to pay (sorry I couldn't resist that one) but of course cost is relative to ROI, so you’ll have to figure out what constitutes success in monetary terms to properly answer that. Value? What does the white label PPC agency bring to the table?

If you are an experienced PPC campaign manager, you will be able to identify missing strategies, analytics potential, and tactics such as keyword selection, keyword matching options, Ad text & variations, campaign settings, landing pages, etc... and you will be able to tell your client how you can help them.

We often get asked to take over PPC campaigns on a white-label arrangement and there is a common theme to what needs to be fixed:

Strategy
No clear strategy
Doesn’t cover all products/services being offered
No integration with SEO strategy
Keyword Selection

Not enough long tail+ high converting phrases
Too many general keywords
Ad groups with confused keyword themes
Too many keywords per adgroup
No use of negatives
Campaign/Adgroup Structure
Structure does not mirror sitemap of website
No hierarchy of categories
Keyword Matching
Usually always broad match
Incorrect or ill-conceived use of matching options
Campaign Settings
Day-parting
Under spending budgets
Too many campaigns
Ads/Creatives
No call to action
No use of DKI in any of the ads
Either too many or not enough variations
Landing Page selection
LP is too generic – e.g. a homepage
LP has no conversion mechanism
Measurement
No long term tracking of cause-effect
No conversion tracking set up
No goals set in analytics

Conclusion:
There are many cost-saving and revenue-producing aspects of pay-per-click campaigns you may not have considered important. It's vital that you understand the truth about an existing PPC campaign – and the pages to which its ads point, before you make promises to your client.

So, what is the secret? A: Honesty. A good white label PPC agency with high standards can help you set realistic expectations. Honesty is the best policy and the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure.

Adapting To SEO Changes

Grant Hilton - Thursday, September 23, 2010

Search engine optimisation is a great industry to be in because it’s constantly evolving with search engines changing algorithms to enhance the quality of their results regularly and clients requiring constant monitoring and adjustment to maximise and respond to these changes. That is the joy and challenge of SEO and I’m sure there are plenty of SEO’s out there that would agree that it shouldn’t be any other way.

Surely I can’t be the only one that finds it strange that people seem to panic when something new is introduced to the industry such as Google Instant. Before that it was panic about Google and behavioural search or personalisation search or Google introducing more blended results (video, images, news, blogs, etc) into search but still the industry remains strong and quickly adapts. Working hard to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in SEO and improving your client’s organic traffic still remains the focus as was before these changes were introduced. So why the big alarm for concern now? Are people afraid of adapting their strategies for the benefits of their clients and if this wasn’t an option beforehand perhaps your SEO strategy is too narrow focused or ancient?

Since the release of Google Instant there has been mixed reactions from SEO’s worldwide. Some cringe at this news similarly to watching Tony Abbott appearing in the news in his speedo’s but others that have been around (not that kind of been around) know that this is merely another challenge to SEO and should be viewed positively rather than the doom and gloom of search engine optimisation. Personally I am a big fan of Google Instant and don’t see it as a threat to SEO but there is a case for it distracting searchers to other topics whilst typing what they originally intended to search for and lack of relevancy of results based on what’s popular at that time. For example, if somebody searches for “sydney hotels” only goes as far as the first 3 characters (“syd”) the following results appear:

These results would be great if searching for information about Sydney but if you specifically wanted “Sydney hotels” not so much in the organic search results. These results favour the Adwords sponsored links because they appear to be far more relevant to the searchers intent. The question that is a concern for SEO’s is does the searcher continue typing more of the keyword or will they be distracted enough to click on the top Instant results or sponsored links? This is difficult to determine without further study and analysis especially when it roles out in Google Australia but my personal opinion is that the common Internet user is generally quite savvy and are quick to realise what is relevant to them and what is not.

Therefore if more of the keywords were typed such as “sydney h” would this provide more organic search results?

 

Unfortunately the answer here is “no” for both organic and sponsored links but at least “sydney hotels” does appear in the suggestions box this time. Whilst this is not the case for every query it is pretty clear that for more than one keyword the full query is often required or selected from the suggestion box, thus no change to prior Google Instant.

As with any new changes in the industry the primary objective remains and that is how to achieve great traffic and results for our clients and not to fear changes but to embrace it.

Has social media impeded or enhanced communication?

Grant Hilton - Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Do you remember the days when you would have to phone friends on a landline to have a chat and if you didn't have their number you would either have to ask them for it and write it down with a pen on paper or get out that big bulky book called the White Pages? Obviously things have changed substantially since then with mobile phones and email but the introduction of these did nothing to negatively affect the way we communicate with each other. Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and many more social media channels that we use for communication but has this made us lazy and restricted the way we verbally communicate with each other?

Firstly it is important to state that the introduction and evolving nature of social media is great for business and has no doubt had some very positive influence on many of our personal and professional lives. Whilst it is now relatively easy to keep track of what our friends or colleagues are doing through status updates and wall posts in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, it is more likely that this convenience has stopped you from calling a friend and having a chat simply because you already know what’s been happening in their life. It seems that at times we are too obsessed with using Facebook over picking up the phone and calling people simply because it’s more convenient, there is less time required to commit to that person and it’s generally easier.  The argument could be made that it has reduced the level of spoken communication but enhanced written communication and general awareness of our friends or colleagues movements. Whilst these resources are good for online promotion and networking our ability to form substantial offline relationships is limited because the majority of the communication is not in person or verbal. Therefore there are obvious elements missing to the relationship and had social media not existed would we still be in contact with many of the friends that we are connected with?


Food for thought.....


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