Monday, 29 July 2013

The Changing Face of SEO - 4 Ways to Stop Wasting Your Time

SEO has changed a great deal in the past year.  You'll no doubt have heard over and over again that quality for your readers wins hands down over quantity.  That meta keywords don't count any more (actually they haven't for a while), that all of us have become publishers of content which will only work if it's relevant, interesting and attention grabbing to your market.  That over-use of keywords is a no-no.  That highly competitive keywords won't work well for you.  And content has always been king.

That's all very well, and it's been a lot to take in, however there are some SEO changes and activities it's well worth getting fully clued up about, and others to lose from the list. 

Some of the changing face of SEO works well in your favour, as you can cease some time consuming activities you may have been continuing with, and save money by not paying someone to do them for you: the best type of content is created either by you or by someone who really understands your business.

Article Marketing - Articles for the sake of getting content out there are no longer of value.  Article spinning is a total no.  So if anyone comes along and offers to write articles for you on any subject of your choice and get them spread around the web so you can be 'number 1 on Google' drop them from a great height and forget them.  What you want are well thought out intelligent articles posted to where they will be of interest.  That's all.

Directories - Most web directories were created just for link building.  They have little value any more, and can act against you if it's obvious that that is what they are (and you're there).  This is not the same as a directory or guide that contains websites (and links) of interest to a niche audience where content is added regularly. 

Comments on blog posts
- unless you have something really interesting to say forget about these.  And in any case don't try and use them to post links.  Most have woken up to that tactic and your comment will simply be deleted.  Better to use your profile and say something that others will want to read, you'll create far more interest that way.

Meta Keywords - Don't bother.  A web developer recent told me that he leaves the field in as 'clients expect to see it', giving them the opportunity to fill the space with duplicated keywords and phrases.  Not only will they for the most part be ignored, therefore wasting your time, but they can also be held against you as 'keyword stuffing'.  Wise up and leave the field blank.

The whole point of SEO today is quality vs quantity, readers vs rankings, and if you want your content to be considered by the search engines as anything other than spam you need to keep that in mind at all times when creating content for the web.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Graphic App - Think Before you Click – How to Catch a Hoax on Facebook or Twitter

Think Before you Click A couple of days ago on Twitter I read a re-tweet ‘a baby is born…..George Michael Windsor’.  And then stopped and thought for a moment before passing on this happy news, and went to the BBC News website where of course there was no news of any such thing.  I have no idea how many were caught by that one but I suspect quite a few (thousands?).

Then yesterday a good friend of mine told me of a message he had received from a friend (a highly respected lawyer) on Facebook, regarding new Facebook privacy setting which were needed as a result of the ‘new Facebook Graphic App’.  This is nonsense.  And you only have to do a search on Google for ‘Facebook Graphic App’, to realise that it is a hoax.  However it took me a while to get there.

I have to confess that this one nearly got me because of its provenance, although once I looked at it closely the instructions didn’t make sense, particularly having checked my Facebook privacy settings, and so having done a bit of research and come across endless posts on Google about the hoax like this one, I saw it for what it was.

The problem is that anyone can be fooled by a tweet, retweet or Facebook message particularly when it’s from someone you trust.  The answer is don’t trust anything you read unless you know for a fact that it’s accurate, and if it’s big news check on the news websites first before sharing.  And no matter how trusted your ‘messenger’ is he or she may have posted something received from someone else in good faith. 

A hoax will go viral as fast as anything else (or probably faster if it’s sensationalistic).  Be the one to think before you click.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Content Marketing Strategy and SEO Best Practice

Keywords So all business have now become publishers in their own right,  every webmaster has a content marketing strategy, and they’re churning out reams of content all over the web in the hope that some of it will encourage visitors to their websites and win them gold stars with the search engines. 

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on how intelligent their content marketing strategy and how relevant their content is.  To their market, that is, not to search.  And with Google responsible for between 90% and 95% of all search on the web let’s just call ‘search’ ‘Google’ for the purposes of this post and apologies to the others.

Keyword research is what you have to do before writing anything.  It’s what anyone involved in optimisation (of anything) will spend time on before they start to write.  If you’re writing content, no matter how enthusiastic you are about your subject, before researching your keywords and phrases then think again.  There’s a far better way to get results.

The whole point of doing keyword research (and I use the Google Keyword Tool) is to find out how others are searching for your products or services on the web.  If you don’t do your research you’re guessing at best, and wasting time at worst.  Take the time to find out a) what terms are being used most on the web and b) what the competition is – and look for other than high competition keywords and phrases.  Your content marketing strategy, no matter how involved, is wasted otherwise.

As I said before in a previous post ‘Write for Readers and not Rankings’.  Your content needs to be relevant, friendly, interesting and engaging.  And optimised.

Share your work or you won’t reap the benefits.  Once you’ve produced optimised, well written and interesting content relevant to your niche you need to share it via social media channels, your blog, and email marketing.  This is the only way to get your content shared (and increase readership), and without sharing you won’t generate backlinks.

I haven’t gone into the SEO worst practice tactics of article spinning and those who promise to get you on Page 1 of Google in a nano-second.  But anyone who promises you the latter and indulges in the former (changing your content and chucking it at the web in the hope that some of it sticks) should be avoided at all costs.  There’s far more hard graft involved in SEO now, and it starts with intelligent, optimised writing.  There are still those operating in the dark ages before Google’s updates.  So don’t put pen to paper without thinking about it first.

Follow and Contact Me:Twitter:!/ShopaholicGuide
And contact me at

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sales Forecast for Online Retailing – IMRG and Retail Research

I’m always looking for a clear sales forecast for online retailing, if only to convince those wedded to bricks and mortar that they should be making a move right now into the online sphere and those with poorly responding websites that they need to do something fast.  And yes there are still those out there, nothing like as many as there were, who have not yet taken the plunge, and there are still thousands of poorly responding websites, usually because of a combination of poor design, badly set up SEO limited or no content marketing and a poorly thought out product range.

In a nutshell, online retailing, according to IMRG, was up by 20% year on year in June.  This is the highest recorded rise since 2011, heralding more recovery to come, and with clothing and home and garden sectors seeing the strongest growth, 29% and 35% respectively.

Mobile shopping was up 136%, and mobile conversion rates increased from 1.37% to 2.03 in June 2013.  This is still behind the average desktop conversion percentage but obviously catching up.  Conversion rates from tablets are higher than those from smartphones. If you want to read a more in depth article about e-commerce conversion rates click through here to on E-Commerce Conversion Rates

Looking Forward to 2018
The Centre for Retail Research has published ‘Retail in 2018 – Shop Numbers, Online and The High Street’, forecasting that total store numbers will fall by 22% (which I suspect will surprise no one), and that by 2018, total online retail spend will be accounting for a huge 21.5% of total retail sales, up from 12.7% today.

If any of this needs to make you think, it’s obvious that those who are still lagging behind in this omni-channel marketing world need to get a move on.  Just going online isn’t enough, there’s a great deal to do to make a website work, but a usable, navigable site with a well thought out product range is a start.  After all, Christmas is practically tomorrow and the countdown has begun………….

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Writing a Blog – How Long Should Your Posts Be

Facebook 2012 Writing a blog is a time consuming exercise if it is done properly.  One of the things I notice on many retailers’ blog rolls is a series of very short posts, a picture with a headline maybe, which is not what writing a blog should be about.

So why are you writing?

A blog has one main focus, that of containing regularly updated, interesting and relevant content for your readership and customer base. 

The SEO element
However, as you want also to reap SEO benefits from your blog, you need to do your keyword research before starting to write, to ensure that your keywords and phrases are not just relevant in your mind but also being searched for. You can’t just sit down and write any old thing for the sake of it.  Or at least you can, but it probably won’t help you very much.

Some things are easier to write about at length than others, so of course some of your posts will be longer than others.  Some people will tell you that a minimum of 400 words is needed, but for what, precisely?  Basically your post should be a long as it needs to be to capture the interest of those you are writing for.  Too short and you quite possibly won’t get their attention.  Too long and they’ll have left you long before you’ll have finished unless you have a seriously devoted following.

Basic Recommendations for Writing a Blog

Concentrate on quality rather than quantity
Preferably make all your posts longer than 250 words. 
400 – 600 words is ideal
Make sure your post is broken down into digestible bites.
Use sub headings to break up your post
If you’re tempted to write a very long post, consider breaking it down into a series of shorter posts.

You May Also Like These:
Content is King:  How to Write a Blog Post,
How to Optimise your Blog,
Link Within:  The Simple Way to Link to Past Posts and Increase Engagement,

Follow and Contact Me:Twitter:!/ShopaholicGuide
And contact me at

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Re-Order Revolution – 5 Ways to Get Customers Back Time and Time Again

Lenstore Contact Lenses There are some products, many, that are just one offs and that you wouldn’t think to re-order.  That new dress, garden furniture, food mixer, handbag etc.  You buy them once and don’t repeat.  You go on to something else.  Different.

Then there are those products that you buy or re-order regularly, certain foods, household goods, vacuum bags, contact lenses, bathroom staples.  You always order the same brand because you’re loyal to it.  You want the best price and a quick service.  And you want the whole process to be easy.  Ideally there would be a mechanism for taking the daily grind out of this.  And of course now there is.

One website that achieves this brilliantly is Lenstore.  For those who wear contact lenses, many of which now are daily or monthly lenses, you just want them on tap.  Some may order for six months at a time, and others month by month.  Lenstore makes it so easy you can re-order on a train journey, which I have done in the past (both one son and I wear daily lenses).

To get customers back time and time again Lenstore offers the following:

A very well designed and clear website.
Customer reviews
Two click re-ordering
Speedy delivery (next day as well as standard)
Reminder service

In the same way that you create your ‘favourites’ list at an online supermarket, you need to spend time at the start putting in your prescription.  But once you’ve done that you’re all set up to re-order.  And this company makes it a breeze, showing everyone else how to do it on the way, not necessarily with contact lenses, but with any other product you need to re-order regularly.

And not forgetting the all important follow-up:  If you haven’t ordered for a while they’ll also send you a discount or free delivery code as part of their content marketing strategy. 

If you’re an online retailer looking for ways to get the customer to return, and you have any products that fit into the re-order category, Lenstore is well worth taking a look at.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

5 Ways to Make LinkedIn Work for You

LinkedIn Logo More then 225 million people have profiles on LinkedIn.  Needless to say not all will be relevant to you, but undoubtedly some will be.  If you’re not set up properly and using LinkedIn positively then you’re missing one of the best opportunities in the social media sphere.

There are a lot of people who put up a very basic profile on LinkedIn, leave it to sit there, and then think of LinkedIn as a waste of time.  Well of course for them it will be.

LinkedIn is a great opportunity, to get yourself out there, to say what you do, what your areas of expertise are, and to communicate with others, whether in the same industry or one you’re interested in.

The first way to make LinkedIn work for you is to either set up your profile, or go back, revisit and augment it, this really doesn’t have to take very long although it’s your starting block and so worth the effort. 

Make sure your headline reflects who you are and what you do and you’ve completed properly the experience section with regards to your Summary, and Work History. Don’t even think of leaving any of these as one liners.  People don’t want to read essays, but they go to your page to find out about you, and so you need to make your information succinct but interesting.

Then put up a profile picture.  There are so many out there who haven’t bothered to dFacebook 2012o this, either because they’re not sure how, or they don’t think they’re photogenic, or they don’t have a good picture.  This is simply detrimental to your page, and will cause many (like me) to disappear as  soon as they land on it.  Let me put it simply….if you don’t have a picture people will wonder why. 

Your LinkedIn picture must not be a daffy Facebook or Twitter picture, but should reflect what you look like in a way that is commensurate with what you do.  So wear what you would wear to work, whether glamorous, or arty, or lawyer-like.  And look friendly.  You don’t have to give a bared teeth smile, but if you look friendly and interesting people are more likely to be drawn to you.  This is mine.

Make your page look professional by customising your LinkedIn URL.  This is really easy but it’s amazing how many haven’t taken this simple step.  Why would you want a series of numbers after your URL rather than your name?  I have written about this before so you can find the instructions as to how to customise your LinkedIn URL here.

Make sure your contact details are correct, so that if someone wants to reach out to you they can.  LinkedIn is the place I will always go first if I want to get in touch with someone as it makes it so easy.  You can use your business or personal contact details.  Or you can put your mobile number if you want to (although most don’t).  But put something at least and don’t make people have to go to your website, and then call your company and ask for you there.  The whole point is that LinkedIn makes it easy.

Connections – Reach out.  I don’t go down the whole ‘connect with everyone in my contact list’ idea, I prefer to go to people in my industry and related industries with whom I may be interested in starting a conversation.  I don’t befriend everyone who comes to me either.  Yes again if they’re related work-wise and industry-wise, or people I have worked with in the past.  But no if they’re from a totally unrelated field. 

This is just the start – there are plenty more ways of making LinkedIn work for you and I’ll be coming up with the next steps in the next week or so and another post, however if you haven’t got around to these……I suggest that you do them today.