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The art to writing Google friendly copy that won’t turn website visitors away 13 October, 2007

Posted by Adam in Blogroll, Business, General, Web marketing.
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A client recently asked us at Rokk Media how much weight should be given in writing copy to search engine spiders, as opposed to site visitors.

Taking Google as an example, one of the ways that your site will achieve a reasonable Google position is how relevant Google believes your site is when people are searching for certain key terms (don’t get hung up on individual words per se – nobody searches on one word – e.g. Fish – they are more likely to search for a particular type of fish, or a more descriptive term such as “store that sells tropical fish”). A good example of where this is important is with a site we launched recently promoting a local angling club.

This site has Google adverts embedded in the page – and Google decides which adverts to serve up dependent on the content it finds in the site. One of the things I love about implementing Google Adwords in a page is how instantly you get feedback on how relevant Google thinks the content it! Where there is very little text, or where what is there has few specific terms – Google serves up completely unrelated adverts! It’s doing it’s best to match relevant adverts, but without really strong textual clues it doesn’t stand a chance.

So, as an example – “We pride ourselves as an organisation on the quality of fishing that we can offer our members” – is a meaningful and heartfelt opening sentence to you and me – but as far as Google is concerned only one word – fishing has any relevance. What does that mean to Google? It’s a partial clue – but it could simply mean a place that sells fish. Instead it could have been written “As an association of keen anglers and fishermen, we pride ourselves on the quality of fishing available in the rivers and lakes around Anytown”. As you can see the difference is subtle to the reader, but to Google we now have Anglers, Fishermen, Fishing, Rivers, Lakes and a place – Anytown – seven words that can be used to match up fare more relevant adverts (or visitors searching for those terms).

Some sites really go overboard and have reams and reams of keyword stuffed text. Google bait although you also risk being penalised for keyword stuffing. But to casual visitors to the site it can also be off-putting waffle and can just as easily turn them away. Bearing in mind that the object for many sites is to convert visitors into customers that’s the last thing that we want.

So – bear in mind when writing copy that the art is in saying enough without writing too much. Write a list of the kinds of words and phrases you believe your customers may use to find your products in Google –
and make sure these are reflected in the relevant pages of your site. If your site has been up and running for a while, make sure you review what search terms people are actually using to find you by using Google Analytics or a web traffic statistics application, and then better tailor your copy accordingly.

Remember that your customer is king – but Google is the coachman that brings them to you. Without suitable directions your site may as well be at the wrong end of a one-way street!

How to increase website sales conversions 8 October, 2007

Posted by Adam in Blogroll, Business, General, Web marketing.
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We at Rokk Media (www.rokkmedia.co.uk) are being asked more and more these days to check out an existing website with a view to increasing it’s effectiveness.

A recent email for example asked what do about plummeting sales from the enquirers website – despite being right in the middle of their traditional high season!

This was my reply:

There are two major obstacles to success for all websites as I’m sure you’ll appreciate – first get visitors to it, second push the right buttons for conversion once they are there (sales, enquiry, page visit etc).

You have been investing in PPC, which is one way to achieve the first objective (although by no means the only way) – but it’s difficult to know how effective that money was spent without knowing the terms, geo-targetting etc.

With regards the second issue I would say from an initial view of your site that although the e-commerce aspect works well – with some ‘scriptaculous’ to make it feel interesting, it is quite a bland and uninspiring design – particularly given the dynamic nature of the sport itself [note – website sold items relating to a specific sport]! The home page for example contains a good amount of text to help with SEO page referencing – but from a potential shoppers perspective there are no ‘enticements’ to lure me further in such as special offers, client testimonials, etc. For example – all prices include p&p is a great incentive – yet visually it almost disappears in the page in amongst the sea of text. I would want to give that home page a major make over with eye catching imagery and calls for action. as a minimum.

Above and beyond that are questions such as customer loyalty – do you keep in touch with them post sale with incentive deals etc? A professional email marketing solution such as our own at www.KKORespond.com can help in that direction.

Unfortunately all of the above will cost money.

There are a few things that you can do yourself today, at no further cost other than your own time however that could help at least with driving traffic through to your site – create a blog (free – http://www.blogger.com, http://www.wordpress.com etc) and add regular posts in and around the sport with clear and regular links back to your site. Aim for it to become a fountain of wisdom or commentary. This will be used to back-link your site and could dramatically increase traffic throughput with little effort. Approach suppliers, local clubs, colleagues etc to add a link to your site from theirs. Again building back-links. Post comments in other peoples blogs or forums answering questions in and around bowling topics – and add your website link as your signature (don’t use this to blatantly advertise your site as you will get blackballed!).

Hopefully these tips may prove useful for your website as well.

Web 2.0 – a jolly jaunt with cheese 7 November, 2006

Posted by Adam in General.
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I was lucky enough to blag a free ticket, ahem, attend a conferencelast night (6/11/06) in Taunton, Somerset concerning the topic of Web 2.0. Not only was my good friend and colleague Bill Wells (of 2.0 Ltd – I kid you not!) organising the video recording of the event (for future vidcast), but ‘podcast-rockstar’ Paul Boag (http://www.boagworld.com/ – reputedly the worlds’ most subscribed-to web design podcast), someone who was hugely influential in Rokk Media moving to Web Standards, was one of the guest speakers.

The event was well attended, and probably one of the most professional I’ve been to in these here parts – so congrats to all involved.

The theme of the evening was the hot-topic de jour – “Web 2.0” buzz or bizz – hype-full or hope-less!

Speakers included Dan Hilton from Rubberductions, Simon Price from Bristol University (who demonstrated some amazing applications for gathering and interpreting web-based data which he insisted was Web 1.5); and two very eloquent Pauls from the BBC – who showed some amazing web-based applications that the Beeb have been working on. Finally Paul Boag who took a swipe at the hype filling a very entertaining 20 minutes or so.

Most speakers, possibly with the exception of Simon, showed how Web 2.0 can be fairly neatly boxed into a huge take-up of broadband fuelling a massive growth in social network/communicate centric sites that use cool technologies like AJAX and Ruby On Rails (among others), and a clean, matter-of-fact design approach aimed at getting straight to the heart of the proposition. Paul Appleby from the BBC was also keen to point out that the web is Darwinian – evolving, gene-like, and could not therefore be realistically likened to a software application in the version x.0 mould – fair point Paul!

After the speakers concluded with a Q & A (a much nicer term than FAQ – what went wrong there in Web-lore?), a sumptious buffet of rustic fare was provided – apples, cheese, scones and strawberries – oh yes.

On my way back from the event, battling to keep from crossing lanes on the motor-way in a 3 foot visibility pea-souper, I mulled the wise words of the five speakers and something else occurred to me. Thinking back to the eleven or so years that I’ve been involved in web design and development I can see a definite growth-curve emerging – but not so much with regards to the technology or appearance of sites (in fact I can probably show you a duplicate example of anything that exists today that emerged in a previous time). The growth I have seen, is in the understanding and appreciation that clients have for the Web – and how it can enhance and rocket-fuel their individual businesses.

Ten years ago – for example – you couldn’t give away a Web Site! In fact the bulk of our ‘hot prospects’ were “The Internet you say? Oh yes, heard of that – could you come over and show me what it looks like?”. Ten years later and the landscape couldn’t be more different. Clients come to us now knowing exactly what they want out of their web presence, fully aware of the power an online presence can have on their success of their business.

From our point of view this is fantastic. No longer do we have to go through the painful process of convincing our clients that the Web is the way to go!

For me that’s the real evolution of the Web.

Rokk on!