Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: November 27, 2012 10:23 am

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Dragon’s Den terrifies me, it’s addictive viewing but I find it provides more hiding behind the sofa moments than any episode of Doctor Who ever did! Sunday night rolls round and there I am, on the sofa, glass of wine in hand preparing to cringe and watch through my fingers!

The first pitch was pleasantly surprising though, Emma Jones and Mark Ferguson from Cheshire came up with the idea for ‘My Bungee’ whilst relaxing on a skiing holiday, the ingenious rubber cord was designed to help prevent mobile phone loss and breakage, and it fitted any phone from the latest smart phones to ancient Nokias. An ex headmaster and celebrity PA they had knocked on doors, been persistent and had secured 12 distributors including one in Australia, but they were struggling to secure a network in the UK. Emma blamed this on many businesses in the UK having a ‘no name policy’ when you cold call them, I found out early in my career that in the absence of a Dragon to mentor you and give you access to their contacts then buying high quality lists was vital to achieving good sales and distribution.  Whilst he wanted the biggest stake in the business asking for 35% it was Peter’s promise to get them ‘in front of the top 50% of mobile phone retailers in the UK overnight’ that was the most compelling.  This offer of none financial support and access to UK distribution channels was almost more valuable than the original £70,000 sort .

Next up a .com business, skill sharing site called ‘Amazings’, it promoted and sold the skills of the  over 60’s, examples included knitting lessons and hairdressing.  It was really hard to see how money could be made from it, as the Dragon’s got into the figures it became clear that despite recruiting 25 Amazings it had failed to return a profit. They were making a small bit of commission on each of the lessons sold by the ‘Amazings’ but this had only turned over £6,000 last year. The Dragons liked the idea but they advised the entrepreneurs to keep it ‘not for profit’. It is very difficult to for something so altruistic make money, people like the feel good factor but they are not prepared to pay lots of money for services like these.

DJ Mark Thompson was next to hit the decks and treated us an excruciating role play that involved two scantily clad females dancing in extremely high heels . It was all in the name of some insoles he had invented to combat women’s achy feet at the end of a night out. His idea had some from his time as a club DJ he had made the revolutionary discovery that women a. like high heels and b. they hurt when you’ve been dancing on them a few hours! It was a good idea but as Deborah Meaden pointed out, Scholl party feet already provide a solution to the problem and his invention wasn’t different or unique enough to warrant further development or investment. As she said ‘what reason does the consumer have to leave the market leader and buy into a newcomer in the market place?’  Mark had already invested a lot of time, money and heart into creating his product, he was not though, as pointed out by Hilary Devey, ‘a natural born marketer or sales man’, he had been unable to shift 2,000 units for over a year. Mark had fallen into the trap of failing to be honest with himself regarding his business limitations and wasn’t going to make this business work.

A bit of light relief was provided by the CARBQ: a BBQ in the bonnet of the car! Danny Kean & Phil Austin,  two amiable chaps from Gloucester, had created the CARBQ to be the envy of their friends and neighbours!  They had sold ‘two and a half’ models to date! Whilst they enjoyed the pitch none of them were biting, the feeling in the Den was summed up by Deborah Meaden when she said they should enjoy doing what they’re doing and not formalise things with an investor. Important point that, not all hobbies make good businesses!

Lastly it’s a classic ‘behind the sofa’ moment for me, two blokes so nervous it made for very uncomfortable viewing. Luke Booth & Chris Eves are design graduates from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Focusing on the food and drinks carriers they were showcasing two of their revolutionary designs. By their own admission they aren’t business men, they are designers. It soon became apparent that they need investment in them and their designs rather than the business, without a Dragon’s mentorship they wouldn’t be able to move the business forward. Yet again for different reasons we see that none financial support is just as important as the money. After a bleak start their passion, intelligence and talent managed to convince Theo to take a punt, they eventually did the deal for £50,000 for a stake of 30%

The world of social media crosses boundaries, this is because it is not limited by the geographic location of a place, the idea of social media is to allow one person or user to connect with virtually everyone and anyone in the world, as long as he or she is of course a user of the same social media network. It is because of this vast reach of social media that many entrepreneurs have taken their marketing strategy beyond the traditional ones. By conducting online marketing strategy using social media they have found a cheaper way of advertising their products or services where their reach is not limited locally but rather reaching a worldwide audience.

Take Social Media Management Global

If you are one of those who would like to take their business global by way of advertising through your social media network then you will be tapping a huge source of traffic and potential buyers. In doing this you will be able to increase your visibility online and will have the chance to gain an increase in your return of investment.

Things to Consider

Taking your social media presence Global of course does not have the same considerations as when you are conducting social media management where you target your local clients. There are several factors that you should take into consideration before you can make proper social media management that would reach a global scale. The Following are some of the said factors for you to consider.

1. Time Zone – since you are going global you want your every post to be seen by a lot of people in your network. If you have people in your network who are not from within your locality and are actually living abroad then you have to take time zones into consideration. When you post your advertisement via your social media network you have to be sure that your target countrys’ online community are online, your efforts would be futile if you post your advertisement on the time when everybody or majority of the population of that area is asleep. Learn the time zones and make sure you find out when would be the best time for you to post in order to capture the attention of your potential clients.

2. Type of Social Media Network – you might think that Facebook is all you need when it comes to social media marketing. This is where you are wrong, because Facebook has not yet penetrated some countries. Take for example in China, where Facebook is not even in the top three social media network, maybe it has something to do with the fact the Facebook actually is banned from China. The point however is it is better to do your research first rather than having your online marketing efforts go to waste just because you were using a social media platform which is not popular in a particular country that you are trying to advertised your products or services.

3. Language – of course some of your probable clients in other parts of the world would like to read posts that they would understand, this is why although English could be considered as the universal language online, it is better to also have your posts be translated using other languages preferably the language being used in the country that you are trying to target for your social media campaign.

Conclusion:

The importance of social media marketing have been regarded as an essential part of online marketing and every SEO company and SEO consultants have actually recognised this fact. This is why for every SEO Campaign a Social Media Campaign is not too far off.

Google just recently updated Page ranking for all websites and of course many SEO Companies were happy to see their rankings go up and some are actually sad because their rankings went down. On another note there are some who would not care about page ranks and would rather focus more on their SERP or otherwise known as the search engine results page ranking. This therefore started the debate on what is really important increasing Google’s page rank for your website? Or climbing up the rankings for the search engine results page?

What is Page Rank?

Page rank is a patented ranking system from Google, developed by its founder Larry Page, this focuses on evaluating the value of a webpage based on its relevance and authority. The page rank basically ranks websites from zero to ten where ten is the highest value. The page rank of a website relies heavily on the following factors:

1. Link Quality – a website must link to your website in order to gain a page rank but with Google Penguin algorithm there is already a strict requirement that the link going to your website should be of high quality, which means it must be relevant and it must also be an authority site thus the higher the page rank of the site linking to you the better.

2. Structure of the Website – your website must also be structured in a way that it is easily crawled and that the links within your site are connected based on relevance. Every page in your website must be linked properly with each other and no web page in your website must stand alone.

What is SERP

The Search engine results page ranking on the other hand is focused on the ranking of your website on the search result page based on the keyword that you have chosen to optimise your site. As for Google and other search engines the SERP depends on a lot of different factors. For Google specifically, there are said to be more than two hundred ranking factors and every algorithm introduced by Google seeks to refine their ranking of the websites in the SERP. Among the ranking signals or factors for Google is said to be the site’s page rank, site structure, content development quality, loading time and even social media signals such as the plus one from Google Plus.

So which is More Important?

Focusing on your sites’ SERP does give you the advantage of having to drive traffic to your site based on the rankings you have. If you are able to reach rank one on page one of Google for a very difficult keyword then you have a huge advantage of getting traffic, where as we know traffic also equates to your websites’ possible revenue. As for page rank we believe that this is a strong ranking factor which means that in order to push your site further up the SERP ranking for Google it would be necessary to also increase your websites’ page rank, however SERP should be of your primary concern and if you do that you would automatically put your Page Rank into one of your sub-priorities.

Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: October 30, 2012 11:47 pm

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Content is said to be king, of course for a search engine optimisation consultant or company one must always qualify the statement. This is because content is already being scrutinised by the search engines in general before it actually is considered as such. The quality of content plays a big part in saying that the content is actually king. Gone are the days when content is being duplicated, replicated and or spinned to produce multiple copies of an original content. Today, with the incorporation of the Google Panda algorithm content should always be of the highest quality. It should be written in such a way that grammar and spelling is never compromised. This is why content developers have gained popularity since there is really a need for the website owners to develop great content.

How To Develop Your Content

1. Think of Your Audience – when conducting article writing you have to put your audience into focus. Write the content according to their needs and not according to yours. Your content must always be relevant to the niche that you are targeting and not divert away from such focus. Your ideas should be put into focus with relevance in mind.

2. Write Using Proper Grammar and Spelling – the language you have chosen to write your content does not matter, what matters is that you are to write such content using correct grammar and spelling based on the language you are using. Make sure that your content is written in proper grammar and spelling and also you have to make sure that your content is cohesive enough that they actually convey information or a thought instead of sounding gibberish.

3. Make it Interesting – aside from putting your niche or audience into focus write the content in an interesting manner. If it were information about your site, write it as interesting as possible. For a blog content how to’s or information that you think your audience would be interested in would be the content that you should be writing.

4. Call to Action – of course there is also a need for your content to engage your readers, whether to ask them to purchase your product, comment on your post among others, you have to call your audience to action. Engage them and make them do an extra action based on your desired goal.

5. One of a Kind – You should also make your content one of a kind, or at least it was not just copied from another resource. Duplicate content is being penalised by the search engines as their way of protecting the intellectual property of the different content developers.

Conclusion

Writing a great content is essential nowadays as the search engine optimisation arena is fast changing into favoring quality content over contents that were spinned or those that does not convey any message.

For a lot of search engines giving the best user experience is one of the ranking factors, that is being sought after by SEO companies, where such is of course broken down into several aspects. One of those aspect is the websites’ page layout, it is believed by search engines especially Google that the page layout must show the content of a website rather than giving every site visitor the runaround. This is why Google has released an update to its algorithm dubbed as the page layout algorithm.

The Reason For the Update

One of the major reasons why Google has incorporated the page layout algorithm in their search engine ranking factors is the fact that the company has received several complaints about websites ranked in their search engine results page which does not outright display the content users want. For example, a user searched for a particular website using a specific keyword via the search engine and after being given the search result, clicks one of the link to a particular website. However, such particular website has a page layout that was structured in such a way that the actual content is already being swarmed by different advertisements which of course does not give a good user experience.

Therefore, in order to make sure that Google search engine results page would not foster such practice in a websites’ page layout, they have de-ranked websites’ that utilises a page layout that does not show their content above the fold and have utilised ads instead.

Are Ads Above the Fold Bad?

According to Google, they understand that placing advertisements about the fold are the ones that converts best, this is why the page layout algorithm only seeks to penalise websites that uses too much advertisements above the fold that it already is covering up the content of the web page making it a lot more difficult for a site visitor or user to locate the information or content that he or she needs.

Total Effect and Solution

According to Google the total global scale of websites that would be affected is around one percent, which means that one in one hundred websites will be affected. Among the different algorithm changes by Google this might be the easiest search engine optimisation problem to solve, if you see your content being pushed down below the fold and only ads are seen above the fold of your website then it is time for you to redo your websites’ page layout, and make sure that your content is highlighted by pushing it upwards above the fold which could be done by removing or resizing your advertisements.

According to many SEO Companies when you conduct search engine optimisation campaigns you should forget SEO. Before you react of course allow us to quantify the statement. During the start of online marketing search engine optimisation was one of the most sought after strategy in order to gain traffic for their website. However, as time goes by many people have started to feel lazy in conducting SEO campaigns that they have relied on software and automation tools in order to conduct their content development and link building processes. Thus, black hat SEO strategies were born. Black Hat SEO is a combination of different SEO strategies where it’s purpose is to manipulate the search engines into thinking that such websites are better optimised only to find out after a closer look that the links and contents that were developed were actually of low quality and does not give great user experience.

One search engine, Google seeks to change that and in pursuit of their goal to make sure that their search engine results page return only the most relevant and accurate search results they have updated their search engine algorithm at a regular basis until they have developed the Google Panda and Google Penguin algorithms which were developed in order to combat low quality content and links respectively.

This makes the SEO strategy that people came to know to now be obsolete. If during the early days of SEO people seeks to create lots of contents and try to create lots of links, according to present day SEO this is not always the case. According to them in order to make an efficient SEO campaign one must forget SEO this does not mean that you have to forget the tenets of search engine optimisation, rather, it means that you have to change your mindset or perspective about search engine optimisation.

If during the early day you consider SEO as a process of gathering contents and links and focusing mostly on the quantity of links you must now look at SEO as a process of gathering quality links, regardless of the quantity as long as your links or contents are of the highest quality then your site is considered to be properly optimised.

Forgetting SEO means forgetting the old ways of implementing search engine optimisation, SEO is not dead it just evolved to a more challenging form but this time this form allows little or no room for any black hat search engine optimisation techniques.

Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: October 20, 2012 3:15 pm

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In the field of Search engine optimisation, there are several things that are constant and clear one of them is the fact that search engine algorithms are changing. With this change in the algorithm comes several consequences, it might be something positive that it would increase your websites’ ranking or it could be something negative which will decrease your websites’ ranking in the search engine results page. More often than not the negative effect outnumbers the positive effect. One of the latest algorithm change was done by Google where they released the so-called Penguin algorithm update. In the Google penguin algorithm update it focused on penalising websites that are using low-quality links to their websites. It has been known before that links are easy to acquire through automation tools and through different black hat link building strategies, and using such strategies one can manipulate the site rankings in the search engine results page. Google Penguin algorithm update seeks to put an end to such practice.

Why Do Link Auditing

From the statements above of course you can already extract one reason why you should conduct link auditing.

1. Determine Harmful Links – with the incorporation of Google Penguin not all links are now considered to be beneficial, there are links that are now considered as harmful. If you have been building links prior to the Penguin algorithm update it is necessary for you to conduct a link audit process, in order for you to determine if the links you have built previously for your website is doing harm to your rankings or not.

2. Competitive Analysis – another reason why you should be conducting link auditing is to analyse your competition. If your competition has better ranking than yours they might be doing something right especially on the side of link building. This is why it is necessary for you to conduct a link audit in order to determine if your links are matching up to the links built by your competition. This way you will be able to map out a plan in order for you to create a link building strategy that would go beyond what is being done by your competition with the hope that you will be able to increase your ranking better than your competition.

Conclusion on Link Audit

With Link auditing you will be able to better prepare your website from different algorithm changes, remember that a search engine algorithm does not remain stationary, it is dynamic and it changes every time. So if you want your site links to last you need to conduct regular link auditing processes.

Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: October 19, 2012 4:47 pm

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matt cutts tweet

There was a time when people were buying domains that would correspond to their chosen keyword. This technique is known as the exact-match domain strategy. The reason for doing this is to incorporate keywords into the domain of the website since it was believed that having the keywords in the domain name makes it easier for the website to be indexed and ranked in that particular keyword. It was believed that web crawlers or spiders crawls the URL first before crawling the different parts of the web page and it is believed that if the keyword in found first by the search engine crawlers such web page would be ranked first using such keywords.

This strategy has been found to be very effective until the end of September 2012, when Google through Matt Cutts, has announced that they have incorporated an algorithm update where in it would penalise low quality exact match domains.

Who Will Be Affected?

Websites that are usually in the field of affiliate marketing where the use of exact match domains is rampant would be the first ones to be hit by this algorithm update. Affiliate websites are using the exact match domain strategy because of the fact that previously it makes the site easily indexed and ranked in the search engine results page ranking. According to several reports many affiliate sites have been de-ranked and have lost considerable or significant amount of traffic and consequently return of investments.

Generally, people who utilise exact match domains will be affected especially if their SEO strategy involves other processes that are frowned upon by the Google search engine. According to the announcement made by Matt Cutts those that would be affected are low-quality exact match domains so those that utilise black hat strategies coupled with exact match domains will be those that are going to be greatly affected.

Looking Forward

What is clear is that Google is trying to eliminate websites that were designed to manipulate ranking without giving high quality content and links done through proper content development and link building efforts. SEO strategies is not considered by Google as generally bad and should be stricken down one by one, rather Google is only banning SEO strategies that are within the realm of black hat, strategies that would intend to manipulate rankings instead of focusing in giving users the information that they need as well as focusing on giving a good user experience while such users or visitors are on their website.

Ok well this is not a tool that would make your website Penguin-proof rather it is a tool that will help you if you were hit by the Google Penguin Algorithm. Recently, Google has released in their webmaster tool a new utility that will help webmasters recover from penguin. Although there are already some options made available like the reconsideration form the new tool was developed to help block links that are potentially harmful to your websites’ ranking. Just to refresh our memories the main function of the Google Penguin algorithm is to de-rank or suspend websites that are using black hat techniques to increase their link quantity where these links were taken or gathered from websites that are low in quality thus making the link also poor in quality. Further, Google has stated that one of their ranking factor is the Pagerank and because of this many people tend to manipulate page ranking by incorporating different black hat strategies like link buying and link scheming. These are the different linking strategies that are being penalised by the Google Penguin algorithm.

However, there are instances where you are focused only in doing white hat link building or SEO strategies but in the process have gotten links that are detrimental to your ranking than beneficial. You might also be a victim of negative SEO strategy which is being done by your competitor. In these instances of course it is not your fault that you have gotten negative links or low quality links but your site is being punished for it. To help webmasters who fall victims to this unfair competition strategies by some unscrupulous people Google has incorporated the Disavow tool in Google’s Webmasters Tool. Basically, the Disavow tool is for webmasters to tell Google about the different links that you want Google to disavow. These links will then be ignored by Google when the website is already recrawled and reindexed.

For webmasters that have fallen prey to negative SEO strategies hitting their websites the disavow tool is going to be very useful especially so that you can specify which links would be ignored by Google when your site is recrawled or reindexed. Care must of course be taken when using this tool since you do not want Google to block links that are of high quality and are actually helping in increasing your site rankings. Always keep an eye out for poor quality links and if the website owner does not want to remove such link pointing to your website the disavow tool will be your alternative solution.

 

Posted by: Ben Austin

Posted on: October 17, 2012 12:44 am

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Many search engine optimisation companies and even consultants are always looking at Google as their focus when conducting search engine optimisation campaigns. This is because of the fact that Google is considered to be the search engine with the highest number of users worldwide. For several years the number of users’ share from Google is about sixty to seventy percent, more than half of the total number of users worldwide. This is why many have experienced an increase in their return of investment if their website ranks first in page one of Google’s search engine results page. This is why trying to understand Google’s search engine algorithm is a must for every search engine optimisation company. This also means that you have to look at the company beliefs of Google, and if you happen to wander around that are you will realise that some of those beliefs that Google has are applicable to search engine optimisation. Here are some of the beliefs of Google which we think is very much SEO-centric.

1. Focus on the User – Google believes that if you focus on the user everything else will follow. In search engine optimisation the focus on the user is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This is because of the fact that user-friendliness of your website allows you to gain loyal visitors to your website. If your website is easy to navigate and all features are easy to use that it doesn’t require a higher level of technical knowledge then your visitors will love you for that. According to Google they have been focused on giving the user the best experience and makes every part of their development even their advertising to be geared towards making a great user experience, this is why their advertising offers only relevant content as well as placed in areas where such are not distracting to the user.

2. Do One thing Really Well – Google focused on the development of their primary product and that is search, by making sure that their product on search is at its peak level they were able to provide the best service for their visitors or clients. From search other products have spawned and thrived, like Gmail, Maps among others. What Google want’s to tell us is that we have to concentrate on one niche and continuously improve on that from there other products will come to light. In SEO this could be applied to Keyword research and ranking. If you first focus on ranking a high level keyword or head keyword chances are you will be targeting a lot of traffic and once settled you can just do maintenance SEO and then focus on ranking other keywords.

3. Fast is Better than Slow – Google, values the time of its users this is why they want to deliver information faster, this is why they aim to make sure that every product they give to their clients would be delivered at a fast rate. This is also applicable in search engine optimisation because Google has incorporated as one of their ranking factor the increase speed of loading time. According to many SEO companies it was noticed that websites’ that loads faster than its competitors would get a higher ranking. This is why it is very important to make sure that your website is loading fast enough not only to appease the search engines but most of all to give your users the best user experience since you actually make sure that their time is of your paramount concern.

These are the three things that Google believes in which we think are actually applicable to your SEO campaign and if you closely look at it you will realise that indeed Google has been incorporating their company beliefs into their search engine algorithm.

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