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%

Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: October 15, 2012 11:55 am

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Those in the online marketing profession will likely be inundated with advice on the web about how content is crucial for SEO. Whilst there is no denying the importance of high quality copy for boosting your natural search listings, content for PPC can sometimes become overlooked! Spending the necessary time to create text ads for paid search listings really can make a distinct difference to your campaign’s success. Here’s five ways to get the most from your text ads.

  • Look to your competitors. Before you begin creating your ad text, it is really important to check what your competitors are targeting for the same keyword. With this in mind you can get an idea of what ideas are the most successful. However, the most vital thing to remember here is not to simply replicate these but find your company’s most unique selling point and focus your ads around this.

 

  • Pay attention to your CTAs. Your CTAs, or calls to action should be short, snappy and designed to make an immediate impact on your customers. What you choose should depend on the nature of your keywords, however including a contact number, or encouraging people to receive a free quote are both effective methods.

 

  • Double check your SPG. Common grammatical errors or typos have a notoriously negative impact on your click through rate, especially given the short amount of space given to promote your company.  In order to make your ads appear neater and more prominently it would be a good idea to include a capital letter for the start of each word.

 

 

  • Experiment with the character alliance. With only 25 characters allowed for the heading and 35 for each line, it is important to make sure you make the most of this allocated space as possible. It is worth playing around with the order of the words as well as language to get as close to the word count as possible.

Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: September 4, 2012 1:26 pm

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In this tutorial we’ll be using two resource files. You can download them for free at these two links:

Road
Sky

1) Open up the mountain image in photoshop and add a selection to the mountains in the background. I used the quick selection tool and a radius of 30px. You might want to use the pen tool or the polygonal if you want a finer selection.

Create a selection

2) Create a new layer and add a mask to it.

mask

3) Open up the sky image and add it to the landscape file. Clip it to the mask selection and resize it so it fits nicely into the background.

merge the layers

4) Use the patch tool to get rid of the car, I had to use a brush to get rid off a slight blur the patch tool created.

patch out the car

5) Add a color balance adjustment to the landscape using the below.

Add a a color adjustment

6) You should be left with the final image.

Final Image

Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: August 23, 2012 9:00 am

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Statistics for social media giant, Facebook, show that 48% of 18-34 year olds check the site before they get out of bed in the mornings, yet you’d be hard-pushed to find half of all companies updating their statuses by 7.a.m. Nevertheless timing is everything in the social media world, and the days of simply having a social presence are long gone. Timing your posts to perfection can make your campaign infinitely more successful and help you gain the edge over your competitors.

• Consider when people use social media sites. Popularity within the likes of Facebook and Twitter appears to be at its peak during the evenings and weekends, but before you go about changing your plans, it is possible to schedule these posts in advance. Using a tool such as Hootsuite allows you to schedule updates for when they are likely to achieve the highest levels of success, meaning you don’t have to miss out on a lie-in in order to reach the people who matter.

• Follow this approach for each individual site. It is not enough to make generalisations about when each site is most frequented. Google Plus and Linked in for example have a slightly older, more business focused consumer base and so the best times to post within these may fall within the average working day. Similarly it is imperative to check the habits of your particular audience. This will depend upon the industry you’re in. Those with more social or entertainment focused pages would be best advised to target weekends, whilst those who offer financial advice for example should concentrate on week days.

• Distribute your posts evenly. When you have established the most effective time to make your posts, it might seem natural to stick to these times, however variety is key! Making subtle changes in when you make posts as well as spreading these out throughout the day will ensure your content gets seen by a wider audience.

• Be flexible. Don’t feel pressured to keep to a strict number of posts every single day if you really can’t find something to mention. On the other hand if you have an upcoming event or exhibition on the way, feel free to increase your amount of updates to gather momentum around the occasion.

• If you cover a wide user base don’t be afraid to have separate pages and time your posts differently within these. For example if you are in the event hire industry, you may wish to have one profile for corporate events and one for social occasions, allowing you to create more relevant posts as well as time these better.

Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: July 12, 2012 9:40 am

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Whatever industry you’re in it is impossible not to notice the influx of blogs appearing throughout the internet, but many online business operators have still chosen to ignore the SEO potential of well-constructed blogs. Any text that can be optimised to be indexed, categorised and graded by Google is a significant part of SEO and as such, search experts should be aware of the marketing power this avenue holds, and use it to its full potential.

However, it is not enough simply to set up a blog, and rest on your laurels. For your efforts to be worthwhile, it is important to follow a number of good practices.

1. Adapt your tone accordingly. Take the opportunity to be a little less formal with your audience. People appreciate being spoken to, rather than at, so it is just as important to entertain as inform here, just be careful not to fall into the trap so many do of using this channel as an excuse to become sloppy. Too many blogs across the web see a slip in standards, and when communicating directly with your consumer base, complacency should never be an option.

2. Plan your topics. It can be difficult to find a subject that caters for both your existing and potential customers, but having a strategy in place for your blogs can help make them more interesting (and more importantly, link-worthy). It can be useful to base your posts around recent industry news, so checking Google news for any striking stories can prove to be a great starting point.

3. Strike the right balance between selling and entertaining. Educating and engaging users without the hard sell is a much more effective approach for your blog. And if you update your blog as regularly as you should you won’t need to pitch your products with each post.

4. Don’t be afraid to include your keywords. Many SEO professionals go to great lengths to calculate the optimum number of search terms for their content and meta data but fail to put the same approach into practice within their blogs. As mentioned earlier, search engines still categorise and rank blogs, so be sure to make sure yours is picked up by Google to give your SEO campaign the best chance of succeeding.

5. Perhaps most importantly of all, be active! A static blog which does not get contributed to is little but a waste of time and effort so make sure you allocate time to make regular posts, as this will not only see you ranked higher but allow you to gain more control over your reputation.

Posted by: SEO Positive

Posted on: June 28, 2012 9:34 am

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Anyone in the online marketing industry will by now be used to being bombarded with advice about the importance of good quality, natural sounding content, especially in the wake of the Penguin update. We’re constantly being warned against the dangers of “keyword stuffing” and the detrimental effect of including search terms in your text, but it’s important not to lose sight of the very reason you’re creating this content- to appear within the search engines. After all, it’s all very well impressing visitors to your site, but for them to get there in the first place your site needs to be visible within the first page of search results, so what’s the best way to satisfy both search engines and your audience?

• There are a number of methods you can use to ensure your text reads well and entertains your consumer base, whilst still including your search terms the necessary amount of times to make sure it achieves first page search positions. One way to combine these objectives is to include these keywords in your meta descriptions and headings. By placing your search terms here, you aren’t disrupting the rhythm of your piece, but Google is more likely to recognise the relevance of your site.

• Breaking up your keyword phrases slightly with conjunctives and punctuation is another recommendable way of navigating around the problem. Thanks to the level to which keyword technology has advanced, these subtle changes shouldn’t affect how your site is picked up but they will make a difference to how your copy flows.

• Don’t be afraid to use your search terms slightly less. Before the Panda and Penguin updates, many people worked by the concept that anything up to around 5% inclusion was suitable, but following these algorithm updates, it’s more recommendable to keep to a maximum of 3%. There are a number of tools online that can help you calculate this percentage.

Generally, however, the best advice regarding the content debate would be simply to write from the perspective of your readers first and review from an SEO perspective once this is underway.

Posted by: SEO Positive

Posted on: October 21, 2011 9:16 am

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Do you need an SEO app that goes the extra mile for you and your business? With these iPhone apps, it won’t matter if you’re an amateur or a veteran to SEO – they’ll have you covered! Make your daily business tasks easier, bring in more profit and online visibility with fully functional SEO tools right on your iPhone. Stay connected with these functional SEO apps on the go and you’ll always be on top of your site’s ranking.
1. ProSEO. For $9.99, ProSEO makes this app a handy one for any business owner to have. Keep tabs on your site’s tags, meta tags and code listings. Check for the most used phrases with this awesome SEO app.
2. iSEO. Do you want to have SERP analyzer and web dictionary at your disposal in between business meetings, on the subway or will just a random moment in time to kill? Discover how high you rank in SEO and keep one step ahead of everyone else!
3. SEO Ranking. Stay on top of your Google ranking at all times with this wonderful app installed on your iPhone. Admire the graph design that illustrates where your site’s ranking is over specific periods of time.
4. SEM. Ever dream about having multiple calculators to figure out search engine marketing equations? Want to bump up your ranking but need a campaign per action cost or want to figure out how much an email or banner campaign will cost you? Use the SEM app for all of your direct marketing needs!
5. Domainer. As the first SEO app for the iPhone, it’s the perfect basic app for anyone of all SEO level to have. Simple to use and in concept but free to iPhone users, it checks your page rank within minutes and gives you the confidence or information you need to improve your site’s SEO.
6. Domain Tracker. Check available domain names and get notified on which ones are taken, which ones are available, etc. Free.
7. Link Juice. Link Juice is another great app to have for anyone who wants to keep tabs on their page rankings. Stay in touch with backlink data, page authority and URL’s on the domain page that you enter. Whether you’re a specialist in SEO or not, Link Juice helps you to improve to Bing or Google ranking.
8. WebFight. Useful in both your personal and professional life, Web Fight is all about discovering which site of the two has more traffic, leads, etc. As a bonus it provides images of each searchable phrase.
9. Analytics Agent. Manage multiple websites by having access to traffic sources, visitor information and graphs illustrating page visits.
10. Website SEO Audit. As another free iPhone app that’s loaded with convenience, you really can’t go wrong. This app checks all the necessary ingredients of your website to ensure its as SEO friendly as it can be, including backlinks, Google page rank, age of domain and server location.
E. Steadman writes for Amazing Domains, a virtual marketplace for <a href=”http://www.amazingdomains.co.uk“>UK domain</a> names of high quality.

Posted by: SEO Positive

Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:05 am

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Google ChromeGoogle Chrome and Mozilla Firefox both offer extensions that allow Web developers to utilize common SEO tools from within their Web browser. Using these extensions will save SEO experts and Webmasters tons of time in their analysis by automatically cross-referencing all of the different tracking and analysis services, from Google PageRank to Alexa.

Popular Chrome Apps

mozilla firefox

The following Apps offer solid tools for enhancing your SEO marketing efforts from within your browser.

#1: SEO for Chrome

SEO for Chrome provides access to Competitive Analysis, Backlink Checking, PageRank Checking, and Keyword Research. With SEO for Chrome, you can find out how much of a site’s traffic comes from organic Google search results and see how much they spend on PPC traffic. You can also analyze a site’s social media presence, including the number of Facebook likes, Twitter tweets, Delicious bookmarks, Digg digs, and StumbleUpon stumbles.

It offers a full feature set and was able to inform me of everything I wanted to know in one place. Since I prefer Chrome over other browsers, this is my go-to SEO tool.

Pros: SEO for Chrome is the only extension on this list that offers full social media statistics, making it vital for anyone who is focusing their efforts on social media marketing.

Cons: SEO for Chrome is not perfect and has a few bugs. It sometimes errors makes Chrome significantly slower to load.

#2: SEO SERP Workbench

The SEO SERP Workbench addon allows you to compare your search engine result placement with your competitors for different keywords you may be targeting.

For simply seeing how your SEO is influencing your search engine results, this App can’t be beat. Unfortunately, since this is the only functionality it offers, it takes second place to the more fully-featured SEO Tools for Chrome.

Pros: SEO SERP Workbench does one job, but it does it very well.

Cons: SEO SERP Workbench doesn’t offer as much customizability as SEO Tools for Chrome.

Popular Firefox Extensions

I am a huge fan of the following Firefox extensions for SEO analysis.

#1: SEO Quake

Simply the best SEO extension in Firefox. SEO Quake offers a range of functionality for analyzing search engine optimization and seeing how well your keywords are doing. Using the SEO Quake toolbar, you can check the PageRank of your current page, how many pages on the site are indexed (it should be all of them), the number of backlinks pointing to your current page, and other miscellaneous details.

SEO Quake is embedded in your search engine results. You can click on one of the embedded results to be redirected to the page, and you can sort your results by any of the parameters.

Pros: SEO Quake is powerful and extremely customizable.

Cons: SEO Quake offers a lot of information by default, and it places itself in your browser in three separate places. It takes some configuring to make this less obtrusive.

#2: SearchStatus

The reason I sometimes prefer SearchStatus over SEO Quake is the intrusiveness of SEO Quake. It does seem to put itself all over your browsing experience. SearchStatus offers the same information, but places it at the bottom of the page, on your status bar.

SearchStatus is particularly useful for quickly checking keyword densities and noticing when links are marked nofollow.

Pros: SearchStatus offers all of the relevant information, Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, and Compete.com ranks, but does so unobtrusively. It can also break down the analysis to focus only on title tags and header tags, important SEO metrics.

Cons: SearchStatus does not offer as much information as SEO Quake or SEO Tools for Chrome.

Posted by Greg Henderson, an Internet Marketer and SEO Associate an email search site and free public records site: RecordsProject & MyFreeEmailSearch.

Posted by: Peter Andrease

Posted on: October 7, 2011 8:36 am

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This tutorial will show how to create a simple, attractive form effect in photoshop to appear as though the fields are indented like that shown below.

Open a new file in Photoshop and add a nice background of your choice, in the example I have used #595959. Now create a white box like that shown using either the ‘Rectangular Tool’ or the ‘Rectangular Marquee Tool’ and fill in solid white.

Duplicate this box and put below like shown in the image, then duplicate again and put below for the button layer. Double click on this third box, select gradient overlay and click on the gradient colour. Now select a nice colour for your button and blend into a lighter version of that colour, the example uses #e27822 into #e88f47 like shown in the box below:

Now we just need to create the background of the boxes to make the indent. Create a new layer below all the previous layers and CTRL + click on the first box layer to select its outline. Now go to Select > Modify > Expand, enter 2 pixels and hit OK. Fill the selection with any solid colour as we are now adding a gradient.

Press CTRL + D to deselect and then double click the new layer, select gradient overlay as before and click on the gradient. Now leaving the bars where they are, double click the left colour and colour pick the main background of your image then drag the colour accross to a slightly lighter version of the background, my example uses #7c7c7c. Press OK and do the same for the right side colour but make slightly darker, my example uses: #3e3e3e.

Now like before simply copy theses background graidents twice so that sit under each of the boxes and button like in the example. Simply add your text for the fileds and the button and you are done.

Posted by: SEO Positive

Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:21 pm

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In this day and age having a website to represent your business online is integral to the success of your business and having that site appear at the top of the search engines is even more important.

The big question is which keywords should you focus on when performing search engine optimisation?

Below we have provided a step by step guide on how to choose the correct keywords for your business.

Step 1 –

Visit: https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__u=1000000000&__c=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS#search.none

This is Google’s keyword tool and is ideal for keyword research for your website as it will provide historical data on the number of people searching

Step 2 –

Type your keywords in the top left box, for example:

Electronic Cigarette

Electric Cigarette

Step 3 –

Type in the security words and click on the search button.

Step 4 –

On the left side of the page you will see an area for ‘Match Types’.

Make sure that the only box ticked in this section is [Exact].

The page will now automatically refresh and you will see a large list suggested relevant keywords on the right hand side.

The important information to take from this list is firstly the suggested keyword itself, then the global and local monthly searches.

Global Monthly Searches is an approximate 12 month average for searches run on the keywords.

Local Monthly Searches is an approximate 12 month average for searches run on the keywords within a country specified by you. This should automatically be set to United Kingdom.

Step 5 –

Above the list of keywords you will see a small box with ‘Download’ written in it.

Click on this and then click on the word ‘All’ which will open up a download box in the centre of the screen.

Click ‘Download’ and open the file in Microsoft Excel.

From here you will be able to sort the columns by the various headings.

Step 6 –

Sort the spread sheet data by local monthly searches and begin deleting any keywords that are not relevant to your business and what you are trying to achieve.

Step 7 –

From the remaining keywords you should type each keyword into the search engines to check the amount of competition.

By downloading something like the SEO Book toolbar you will also be able to see how many backlinks your competitors have and where they are from.

Once you have all of the information you will be in a much better position choose the keywords that will be not only achievable but also those that will make a positive difference to your business.

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