Monday, 23 March 2015

Google Algorithm April 21 Update Confirms Importance of SOcial, LOcal & MObile (SOLOMO)

Google indicated last year that extra emphasis was going to be given to mobile responsive websites. Furthermore, the early adopters of integrated mobile ready sites with quality local search capabilities are going to be the standout winners with the next Google update slated April 21.

Mobile Responsive Websites Not An Option Anymore:

The latest round of Google updates will continue to focus on the increasingly high reliance on mobile devices for product research during the decision making consumers make for products and services. The natural extension of this process is to create a positive purchasing experience for mobile devices and Google is pushing Digital businesses to lift their game.

As search from mobiles and purchases continues to increase, the updated search engine algorithm will reflect the shift towards mobile friendly websites and online stores, directly responding to consumer centric search.

Users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices" Google Webmaster Blog

Google's focus on mobile isn't new - last year the global search giant put the main eCommerce players on notice, stamping their authority yet further as the pivotal force within the Digital economy. This time, the focus on smaller players to update their websites and to adopt Mobile Responsive practices:
  • Flash based sites marked down - not supported on many mobile devices (thanks Adobe!)
  • Sufficiently readable text for mobile devices with need to zoom on screen
  • Resizes and relocates content so user does not have to zoom or scroll horizontally, such as used in Gantry style templates
  • Links that are easy to use on devices, preferably graphic based but more importantly with white space surrounds

Social, Local, Mobile (SOLOMO) now ‘front and center’ of Googles search parameters... we've been monitoring and discussing this movement for the past 18 months… no surprise to us!

While a continued shift to mobile is even more important, the following website best practices are also required to keep up with your competition:

  • Keyword research - Precise keywords and long-tail keywords ever more important
    • don't focus on generalised, industry related keywords - brute force approach penalty
    • spend time crafting keywords through quality research tools, create effective funnels for conversion, don't focus on just 'the sale'
  • Performance of websites:
    • Higher performing sites will be given better rankings by Google
    • Considerations for Page Load speed, bounce rates and time on site
    • Indication for quality user engagement
  • Content above the fold:
    • Focus on immediacy of relevant content open page loading
    • While Bing indexes first 100k - Google does whole pages but also indications of emphasis for first 100k
  • High Quality Content a Priority
    • What web users want AND where it can be found
    • Humanising the web, focus back on the consumer

Have you received a Google notification email recently about Mobile friendly sites? 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Why You Absolutely Still Need A Business Website!

Over the years, every now and then when attending networking events, we hear a familiar remark - ‘I don’t need a website’... we respond by saying ‘Good luck with that!’

The role of the website is still as important than it was a decade ago, some may see that social media or apps can replace the humble website, but there is overwhelming evidence that (in the foreseeable future) websites will remain as the ‘central hub’ for all digital marketing and exchange, with all other channels and communications feeding into it.

Owned Media:

Firstly, your website is yours… commonly identified as Owned Media; you have the ability to quickly control and change content and respond to opportunities in the marketplace with your own publishing platform. Websites can operate all day and night, servicing clients from all over the globe and are very cheap to run considering this global reach (try that with a ‘bricks and mortar’ only business!). Your business website can deliver a positive user experience and build trust in your brand and business culture.

Other ‘Owned Media’ include other digital assets that you have created for your business, such as Blogs, Technical Papers (White Papers), eBooks - but they too are an adjunct of your website… again the central digital focal point for your business. We will write more about Owned, Earned and Paid Media in another Blog soon, but in the meantime you might want to read this article from Forbes here.

Free/Cheap Sites:
Another thing we hear a lot is how business owners have developed their website for free or very much on the cheap.. is great for those businesses who are starting out on a shoestring but a well developed website with a consistent content management strategy will accelerate a new brand tremendously.

At the end of the day free or cheap websites have their place, but invariably tend to end up costing more than they are worth and sometimes can damage your brand and reputation in the process as well. A lot of low end sites are developed using a service with limited number of templates, as such business owners will notice similar looking sites; this is part of observation selective bias phenomenon, but also because due to the limited template selections.

Every now and then we hear of some seriously frightening horror stories of business owners having their domains or hosting held to ransom as they try to relocate their digital assets to new providers, or free/cheap website providers refusing to close down a web page created for the business, which creates confusion in the marketplace.

Doing marketing on your site can be problematic under these arrangements, especially SEO in particular, as you business site are grouped under a generic domain so any attempt to optimise will benefit website supplier

Centralised Marketing:
An independent business website is essential for Integrated marketing and is the central point for all marketing channels, driving traffic to specific landing pages, offers  products and other owned media such as fact sheets, white papers etc. This whole process is your marketing funnel, thereby drawing traffic from a variety of sources; the end result when working as effective as possible will be increased sales, customers and retained clientele.

Building Trust with Domain Emails:
Another important element of owned media is the humble email account, there has been numerous situations at networking events where we’ve been given a business card and the email address is a Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail email address. Granted it’s a small thing, but all the small things are picked up when prospective clients are deciding to do business with you…. email is still important today.

Optimising Your Funnel - Your Digital Presence:
While this is not strictly regarding business websites, we believe it’s often an overlooked aspect of drawing traffic to business websites. As the Internet has matured there are sites out there that have redundant business information, such as contact details, logos and product/services. A simple search for your business on third party sites such as business directories can give you an interesting sample. Monitoring and updating redundant details can be difficult and laborious but essential… but more about that in a future Blog!

'An operator of a truly sustainable business will recognise the value of securing and maximising the effectiveness of their digital space.'

Monday, 2 March 2015

What Do I Want From Networking?

I have recently started to extend my networks and attended a few new events, just to see what they are like. I have found meeting new people to be refreshing, and guess what even some doors have been opened for opportunities - I like that!

Sometimes you just need to step out of your comfort zone and also the safety of the groups that you currently network with and look for new connections. That is what networking should be about.
The new events I attended were a mix of stand around with a glass of wine, and a speed networking event - guess which one was of more value to building my network, yep the speed networking one! In a room of 70 people I spoke to about 35 people, collected there business cards and gave them mine. I followed up with most of them and made 4 great connections - 2 which could lead to immediate work, 1 which will lead to more networking and speaking opportunities and 1 which is just a great contact to have! The stand around and have coffee one I exchanged cards with about 5 people, followed up with all, increased my social network and well maybe one day there will be an opportunity - or I will see them at the next event and start to build trust with them?

So what do I want from networking? I want to be able to meet enough people to ensure that my time has not been wasted. I want to be able to re-connect with those who I think there might be opportunity of working together. I want to see value in the number of qualified and warm leads I can leave the room with.

If a networking event has done those 3 simple things, then for me it is of value. These for me are the highest priority events to attend, This is why I will always put speed networking at the top of my priority list for events to attend and be part of.

Come along to Speednet Ballarat's next event - follow this link to their website for more information