Friday, 25 January 2013

How to Show your Website Names in your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Website Links 2 You may notice, if you click on various LinkedIn profiles’ contact info, that underneath the links to Twitter you most often see this, which is hardly informative unless you can be bothered to click through.

LinkedIn Website Links What you may not already know is that you can make this space your own and improve your profile instantly by making your website information obvious and your profile page much more distinctive.  I wrote about this recently, but as part of a larger piece about optimising your LinkedIn profile and I felt that it deserved a post of its own, as this, again, is something that everyone should do.

To include not only the name of your website or blog, but also some extra anchor text which is helpful from not only a descriptive but SEO point of view, you need to do the following:
Click through to ‘Edit Contact Info’ in Edit your Profile mode.  You will see your websites and blog listed, usually with the prefix - ‘My Website’, or ‘My Blog’.
Click on the edit icon beside your top website.

LinkedIn Website Link Options 3
Click on ‘Other’ in the drop down menu, and you will see that an extra box appears – here you can add the actual name of your website, plus a relevant keyword or phrase to go with it.  Two pieces of optimised anchor text for the price of one. 
Also don’t forget to make sure that you have your unique LinkedIn profile URL.  Click through to this post to find out how.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Usability Guidelines–6 ‘Hot Shops’ Home Page Rules

IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List of the top 50 UK e-retailers

Unless you have a highly performing website in terms of both traffic generation and conversion to sales you’re likely to be asking yourself ‘what am I doing wrong’?

Frequently a combination of ‘design enthusiasm’ on the part of the client, who often thinks they know exactly what they want (and probably wants to ‘do something different’), and a developer who’s excited by the thought of doing something new results in a website that simply doesn’t work.  Much money is spent, little traffic is generated and what does get through doesn’t convert because the home page is not set up for best practice usability.

There really is no need to try and re-invent the wheel where home page design is concerned, you only have to look at the Hot Shops List from IMRG August 2012 to see that all of the top performing websites lead with a home page template that is very similar, whatever the product.

Header Area – Along with your logo (which should link through to your home page from anywhere on your website) and mission statement/tag line, this area is extremely important and needs to be deep enough to include the following; 

Search Box – centred or to the right
Cart/Trolley/Shopping Bag
Links to Login/Registration/Sign-up
Links to Help/Customer Service and Contact Us

Headline Area

Debenhams Headline Area

Should be underneath the header area and contain your main shopping categories plus ways to shop, such as ‘Brands’, ‘Offers’, ‘New In’.  More and more frequently these main headlines contain drop-down boxes where categories and sub categories can be selected, making the journey for the shopper to their desired product quicker than ever.

In some cases there is also static navigation in the left hand margin although this is now most often reached once a main category has been chosen and is not visible on the Home Page.

Main Image
More and more this  times takes up the full width of the site and fully reflects what the site and brand is about.  Very often rotating images are used, each linking through to a major area of the site.

Linked Area

Whether by use of optimised content, banners or simple column links (or a combination of all of these) there is always an area linking through to ‘hot’ areas of the site, in other words, where the retailer really wants you to go.  To Top 10 products, Best Selling Brands, Favourites, Special Offers – drawing you further into the site with every click, savvy retailers knowing that if they can get you hooked on something that has already proved to be successful, you're more likely a) to buy, and b) to come and visit them again.


The days of finding out delivery details within Terms and Conditions are well and truly over.  Now the footer contains clear links to all utilities including Delivery, Returns, How to Shop, Privacy Policy, Cookie information, Press etc.

Trust Building

The footer should also contain elements of trust building, accreditations and payment methods accepted although these can also be higher up the page. 

There’s no doubt that home page design is getting clearer, making it ever easier for customers and visitors to find what they’re looking for.  As Steve Krug says in the title of his excellent book on web usability ‘Don’t Make me Think’.  So just don't.

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Google Keyword Research Tool–5 Reasons to Keep it Close.

Google Keyword Research Tool

The Google keyword research tool is a tool that everyone who is writing content for the web in any way shape or form, whether website or blog, should keep close.
Note that whether or not you intend to use the Google keyword research tool for Adwords, and you don’t have to, if you want access you have to sign up first.

There are several reasons for using this incredibly useful tool – here are my top 5.

1. It's free. Totally, absolutely free - so there's really no excuse not to make use of it.  Just sign up for an Adwords account if you haven’t already and the tool is yours to use every time you write content.

2. It's extremely simple to use.  Just experiment and you’ll see what I mean.

3. It will show you what people are actually searching for, rather than what you think they are. For example - you may think that you should be calling one of your categories 'Fashion Footwear'. It has a good ring to it with a bit of alliteration thrown in for good measure, but take a look at the results in the keyword tool and you'll discover that there were more searches for 'Fashion Shoes'.

Which term should you use, several times over from your title tag to your header to your content? Well obviously - Fashion Shoes.  Or should you, as you’ll notice that the competition for both of these terms is high, both globally and locally.

4. Beat the competition – Rather than just going for the keyword phrase that has more searches, if it is highly competitive (which means that you’re going to have a real job getting up there in the rankings) go further down the search page and look for terms which reflect your products where there is low competition. 

To make this easy click on the Competition tab at the top of the Keyword Ideas you get along with the results of your own search, until you have all the Low ranked keywords and phrases at the top.  Preferably, if you can, pick one of those.  You’ll find getting to the top of Google so much easier.

5. It will save you money - cosy up to the Google keyword research tool before you start spending money on Adwords or any other type of paid marketing. You will be throwing money away if you don't get your SEO right first, and this is one of the most important ways.

Once you've established what people are searching for, and how to use the tool, you'll never look back.

To use the Google keyword research tool, as I said above, you need to sign up for a Google Account which, because I'm sure you're all already using analytics (!), you probably already have. Then just go to the keyword tool and start using it before you write anything.

If you aren't already using the keyword tool have a play with it as soon as possible, everyone who writes content for the web needs to keep it close.  There are other ways of using the tool but these are the basics, I’ll cover the others in more posts about this invaluable tool.
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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

LinkedIn and SEO – Why you Should Optimise your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Profile Page
LinkedIn and SEO go hand in hand, although you may not think it.  There are two types of profile on LinkedIn, and both exist in various degrees – there’s the fully optimised LinkedIn profile which not only gives a lot of information about the person concerned – and let’s not forget that for the moment LinkedIn is still predominantly about people and connections – and there’s the sparse, barely completed profile, with or without a picture, with little information and no attempt whatsoever to optimise for search.

In the case of LinkedIn optimisation really has two meanings, the first refers to making your LinkedIn profile more visible in search.  After all, if you’re a freelance web designer why wouldn’t you put that in your headline, after having done your research and discovered that there are lots of searches for freelance web designers? (and more about using the keyword tool tomorrow).

The second meaning of optimising your profile on LinkedIn is the more traditional one, that of making it as strong as possible so that it can work for you within the network.  There are far too many pictureless, sparsely worded profiles from those who either can’t be bothered, imagine that people will want to connect with them regardless (and why would they?) or simply don’t know how to make it work for them.

Complete your profile with in-depth information about yourself.  Keep it interesting, well written and succinct and please please include a pic.  No-one should sign up to you if you’re in effect trying to hide.  A logo doesn’t do it either.  LinkedIn is about you and what you have accomplished.  Period.
Back to LinkedIn and SEO for search.  Using the keyword tool (or some other tool to find out what people are searching for) should become part and parcel of what you do every day, as optimisation becomes more and more essential.  There’s no point in guessing what people are searching for when it’s so easy to actually find the facts and figures. 

Create a headline that includes what you do, couched in a searchable word or phrase and then use that word or phrase throughout your profile build-up.  You’re much more likely to be found that way, and after all, what’s the point of being on LinkedIn if not one trots up to say hi?  Not much.

Another way to optimise your LinkedIn profile, and add more SEO strength, is to include proper anchor text when linking to your website or blog.  To do this take the following steps:
Click through to ‘Edit Contact Info’ in Edit your Profile mode.  You will see your websites and blog listed, usually with the prefix - ‘My Website’, or ‘My Blog’.

Click on the edit icon beside your top website.

Click on ‘Other’ in the drop down menu, and you will that an extra box appears – here you can add the actual name of your website, plus a relevant keyword or phrase to go with it.  Two pieces of anchor text for the price of one.  If you look at my profile page image at the top of this post you will see how this works.

Also don’t forget to make sure that you have your unique LinkedIn profile URL.  Click through to this post to find out how.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Affililate Marketing - Should you or Shouldn't You?

Firstly, for those who aren’t affiliate savvy, affiliate marketing is a way for those with websites – affiliates - to advertise retailers who have goods and services to offer online – merchants – and to earn commission on the sales they may thereby generate. So far so simple.

Almost all large online retailers (merchants) now run affiliate programs, usually in conjunction with one of the affiliate marketing ‘middle men’ such as Affiliate Window, Linkshare and Trade Doubler who offer management services between the affiliate and the merchant, running the programs, creating reports and handling payments.

It’s easy to decide whether or not to become an affiliate, as it’s an obvious way to make money from advertising and selling other people’s goods. It’s harder, as a merchant, particularly if you’re small to medium sized, to decide that affiliate marketing will work for you. Which affiliate management provider should you go to? How much will it cost you? Those are simple questions (just ask me).

Whether or not affiliate marketing is right for you is an entirely different matter and it’s hard to get answers from the management providers who are trying to tempt you to sign up. Affiliate marketing does not work for everyone, and there are risks involved (and great benefits if you get it right).

Here are a few things to consider first:

Do you have a broad enough range online?

Is your website well designed and are your products well photographed?

Are you happy with your conversion rate (or thereabouts)?

Are you fully aware of your customer profile to ensure you sign up to the right affiliates.

Have you fully analysed the costs and risk implied if you don’t make any sales this way?

Do you have the manpower to handle any of the work in-house if you can’t afford to fully utilise the services of an affiliate management provider?

Do you understand about text ad and banner creation, and what is likely to make people click through from another’s website to yours?

By far the best way to get involved in affiliate marketing is to talk to several of the affiliate program managers and create a schedule of your likely outlay including commission percentages. Contact me (see below) if you would like a broader list of who to consider.

If you decide to set up and run your own affiliate program be aware it will put some time-short potential affiliates off, as it is very easy to work with merchants via just a few service providers and can be a nuisance to try and work with individual schemes.

And Note – If you do sign up to one of the affiliate management providers make sure that you retain control of who is allowed to sign up to you. Always. If you value your brand image.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Buffer App – The Twitter App you Really Need

Buffer App

I was helping one of my daughter’s friends with her LinkedIn profile last week and then we started talking about Twitter, and Tweetdeck, and Bufferapp (as you do when you’re like me and get carried away).

I take all of these for granted, using them every day, and somehow imaging that everyone uses them all – Tweetdeck (to me, anyway) as the best desktop Twitter software – you may disagree and please do – and Bufferapp, which I have installed on my PC and laptop to schedule my tweets and links as and when I need to.

By the way Bufferapp is not an excuse to not connect and respond to conversations on Twitter, any more than any of the other Twitter scheduling apps are, although sometimes they appear to be being used that way.  What it does do is make sharing links and blog posts incredibly easy. 

Buffer Logo

You set up your schedule of tweet times and then add to your ‘Buffer’ by using the downloaded bookmarklet which looks like the stack above.  Literally.  Reach the page you want to share… on the Buffer bookmarklet…..and voila – another added to your store.  You also have the opportunity to post to LinkedIn or Facebook, and to post immediately if you want to.

This is a very neat tool that I use every day so have a look and consider using it.  Particularly for days when you know that you’re not going to be sitting at your PC or laptop and don’t want to lose the flow, or when you’re travelling.

Set up a separate posting schedule for each application such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and make sure you deselect whichever you are not intending to post that particular link to otherwise you will end up posting to all.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

How to Re-tweet your Blog Posts

How to Re-tweet

So you’ve spent hours researching and then writing an in-depth blog post containing valuable information you don’t want to disappear into the depths of your post stream without ever being seen again.  How to re-tweet this without being obvious is a conundrum.

Many would say that you should be creating new content all of the time, and so you should, however why should you lose something that you’ve worked so hard over, and why shouldn’t new readers (and old, who may have missed it the time before) be able to reap the advantages of your sage words…….?

I have read many times that obvious re-tweeting is bad and will lose you followers, and tried to make my most popular posts more interesting, I’ve re-tweeted using the original title, and also by thinking up something different, usually in a hurry.  Neither of these work very well.

Along comes Save Publishing by Paul Ford who many of you may know about but I only discovered recently, which is the answer on how to re-tweet and makes it so simple.  Save Publishing highlights re-tweetable excerpts from your posts in a new window.  Click on the one of your choice (and then you can alter it or edit completely) and post to your Twitter stream with your new quote/headline/snippet.

All snippets are of course 140 characters or less, To use Save Publishing click on the link and download the bookmarklet to your browser.  Read carefully some of the snippets, many of them don’t really make sense and you’ll think of your own, but that’s what this does – it sometimes comes up with snippets you’ll want to use, and otherwise provides food for thought.  Either way it’s well worth taking a look at.

You can post your tweet immediately or send it to Buffer.  And more about Buffer tomorrow.  Surely the most useful Twitter app…….

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

How to Write Title Tags for 2013

Your title tag is the single most important tag on your web page and is the hero of your SEO.  It not only contains the keywords and phrases that are directly relevant to each page, but it tells everyone, from web visitor to search engine alike, what that page is about. 

The most important rules are:

Don’t make your title tag longer than 65 characters
Put the most important keyword or phrase at the front
Each title tag must be unique (do not duplicate)
Do not keyword stuff your title tag.
Use the pipe bar | (shift forward slash) as a divider between key words and phrases
Consider the readability for users of your title tag.

There are two thoughts on actual construction, one includes pipe bars to divide your title tag into key phrases, and the other does not.  If you’re not sure which to follow - and neither will lose you ranking - create a sentence containing your main key phrase at the front, followed by a readable second phrase and then either use a pipe bar or not before your brand name. 

I prefer not to, but this is not an exact, perfect world.  The emphasis is on relevancy and readability, stick to both of those and you shouldn’t go wrong.

Writing Great Title Tags for Google
The Importance of Great Title Tags
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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Create your Custom Twitter Header

 Twitter Custom Header

As social media becomes more and more developed it gets harder to keep up, and those who were at the forefront what seems a few moments ago are now lagging behind with old style URLs and blank Twitter headers. 

Yesterday I wrote about customizing your LinkedIn URL and today webhints is about creating your custom Twitter header.  For anyone who’s already designed and uploaded their Facebook Timeline cover pic – and who hasn’t – this should be a breeze, with a few things to note:

Your Twitter header should measure 520 x 260 px
Darker backgrounds will show up your profile content better than lighter ones
The busier your background, the harder your content will be to read.

This is a perfect opportunity to back-up your brand, although I still think that your profile content is what matters, so you want to make sure that it stands out.

You can use Adobe Photoshop to create your Twitter header, but if you find that complicated the alternative is the brilliantly simple  If you haven’t used it before have a play with different pictures, using the crop, rotate, re-size and, if you upgrade to the Royale version, remove blemishes and air brush your pics……..

Design a Custom Twitter Header
Pic Monkey
How to Customize your Twitter Header with Pic Monkey

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

How to Get your Custom LinkedIn URL

LinkedIn Logo I was just going through some of my connections on LinkedIn and was amazed to see that so many, MDs of large companies, even online marketing and e-commerce advisers, had numbers after their names on their LinkedIn URLs looking something like this /0/17b/b46/.

This really doesn’t look good, particularly if you put your signature on your emails etc (ok I have a 1 after my URL at but that’s because someone else got there first).

It’s totally unnecessary to have this string of numbers after your name on your LinkedIn URL. 

To get your custom LinkedIn URL just click on ‘Settings’, on the drop down menu under your name, at the top on the right of your profile page.

Then go to ‘Edit your Public Profile’, underneath the ‘Settings’ header on the next page. 
Three quarters of the way down the right hand column you will see a header; ‘Your Public Profile URL’, go to ‘Customize your public profile URL’ underneath this and make your LinkedIn URL your own.  Get as close to your first and last name as possible.

Note:  This is not Facebook.  Avoid anything that is not totally straightforward here.  No nicknames, nothing daft.

For anyone who has not yet done this, this is a priority.  In the same way that your profile picture, your summary, your experience and great content count everywhere, customizing your LinkedIn URL makes it look as though a) you care and b) you know what you’re doing.

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