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So where exactly is Number 1 in Google Nowadays?

Once upon a time, website owners were constantly bombarded with wannabe SEO “experts” namely from another country that could promise to rank them number one in Google.  A lot of people took it for what it was:  a steaming pile of bull; while some went along with this expert and may have got some rankings but only for a very short term.  After which, Google had wised up that yet another fool was gaming the system and dropped the offending website from its listings.

You don’t really get that nowadays, do you?  There is a reason for that:  The natural listings for Google now start halfway down the page.

It was an ideal world when you could rank your website with little or no effort without having to pay a penny, but since then Google (et al) came up with Cost-per-click where adverts were made for specific keyphrases and you just pay when someone clicks onto your ad.

To make things more difficult, the search engines other branches including, videos, images and business search.  Great news for the searcher, not so great for the website owner.

Let me give you an example:  We have recently had our patio laid so the trade is still quite fresh in my mind, so let’s do a Google search for “Landscape Gardeners in Colchester”

landscape-1

Ok, the top 4 positions are all paid adverts.  All well tailored to match my query and to help me make an informed choice.  Google have also identified that I am looking for a trade in a specific area so they’ve also included a map showing some of the local businesses in that specific area, couresy of Google MyBusiness.  But this is the first page, above the fold and so far there is no sign of any natural search listings yet.  So lets come down the page.

 

landscape-2

So Google My Business (Used to be Google Places) list the top 3 landscapers in Colchester and provides a link to their website and directions.  Below that begins the first top 10 listing of the organic listings followed by 3 more paid adverts at the bottom of the first page.  I might add, that the number one listing in hese results is a directory of tradesmen in that local area.

Lets try another example:  I do a lot of work for an office furniture supplier.  My son could do with a snazzy new student desk, so let’s try with “student desk uk”.

 

desksA slightly different format as I am searching for an object not a company but Google assumes that I might be looking to buy a desk so other than the top 2 listings being paid adverts once again Google have also provided a little box listing the top products for Student desks for the UK from their shopping channel.  These are also paid ads also known as PLA’s (Product Listing Ads).

the number 3 position in this case (circled above) is now the top natural listing which is Amazon, followed by Argos, Ikea and then Desk Warehouse.

Ok one last try,  another company fresh in my mind, Videographers in Colchester once again.  Zap.

Videographer SERPs

Now this is interesting.  A videographer in Colchester is named again courtesy of Google My Business (this is a full profile).  Below they list similar companies that people have listed for.  But the top 4 adverts are (you guessed it) paid adverts.

I should add that when I did the same search yesterday there were only 2 adverts listed,mainly because by early evening, most people’s daily budgets have been reached.  Even so, top of the natural listings is by no means top.

So why would you now pay to be top of the Google search results when in effect the top is halfway down?  Simple answer: you wouldn’t.

If you really are advertising your company on a tight budget, then Google My Business is your best bet.  If done correctly this will get you on the first page for your trade and area, but if top is your sole aim, then contact an AdWords specialist (preferably a certified one) and heed everything they tell you.

Hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll be listed on there as well.

SEO in 60 Seconds: Little & Often

I have just realised that my last Blog post was back in February.  In my defence,  since my last post I have moved into a new office, had the new half of the house decorated, and run a half marathon.  But this 60 second SEO tip is simply this:  regularly contribute to your SEO campaign.

Writing a tweet about your latest products, tweaking your Adwords campaign in anticipation for Easter or just take a good old-fashioned analysis session, schedule a small amount of time (preferably at the same time each day) to focus on your SEO efforts.

No one has the time to focus all day solely on SEO.  Just like my 15+ miles per week half-marathon training is set out over 3 sessions of 5 miles.  Doing one session of 15 miles, wouldn’t be practical and would leave me feeling very exhausted and less likely to do anything for the rest of the week.

Some things may require more time and energy, but getting into a regular pattern of doing regular SEO can make the difference of being up there or down here.

And yes, I do practice what I preach.  🙂

This is one in a series of SEO Shorts. For more short-term tips. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter or RSS Feed

SEO in 60 Seconds: A Quick Word about Links

One way links to your website are good.  Very good.

But here’s the scoop: Getting your site listed in every online directory you can find no longer works.  Google saw to that with their Panda updates. The old tricks of commenting on other peoples blogs and forums is no good anymore as most of these have a nofollow setup, meaning that Google won’t … You guessed it.  So how can you get inbound links while Google make it so increasingly hard?

Google has and always will strive to become an resource and you should do the same, after all you are the expert in your field, right!

For example, If you’re a private tutor specialising in children taking their 11+, it would be good to write about the new changes to the exam. It would be even better to provide a few old test papers that children can complete and calculate their score.

You could also offer your expertise on other people’s websites.  Approach them & courteously explain what you can offer them and why they would benefit from your expertise.

It would certainly be more beneficial to your website and more fun, than wasting your time submitting the same information to directories that don’t even work anymore.

This is one in a series of SEO Shorts.  For more short-term tips.  Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter or RSS Feed

 

Google is Gospel and Other Snippets from the Experts

I really hope that by now I have demonstrated that I am an web design and search marketing expert.  But now and then, even the experts need to take time out and gear up on what like-minded and other experts are telling the world.

So last Friday I attended the Great British Business Show at ExCeL London.  Despite it actually being Summer outside,  I sat through about  4 hour’s worth of seminars, a networking board (the busy person’s way of networking) and obtained a stash of pens and a couple of toy freebies to keep the kids happy.

The seminars were the most valuable of all:  I sat through the seminars of Simon Coulson, http://simon-coulson.com/, Kimberly Davis http://www.sarsaparillamarketing.com/ to name a couple.  There were a few more, but  these three were the most inspirational.  I apologise for not remembering the others, and for not being able to hear James Caan properly, but the live feed room had the sound quality of bees playing comb and paper.

So here it is the best snippets from what I learned last Friday:

90% of UK Search is from Google.   Yes you read that right.  Google is definitely gospel in this country.  If you’re operating in the UK and not ranking in Google, then if I were you, I would work on  reversing this!  In America this figure is about 67% with Bing progressively rising to 17%.   If however, you are covering China, then don’t bother:  Google has only 15.6% of the market share http://www.chinainternetwatch.com/1972/china-search-engine-market-share-in-2012

YouTube is the 2nd most popular resource for search.  YouTube isn’t just a resource for watching Susan Boyle’s first audition or the cat that can say “No”:   It has become a resource for step by step advice, to find out more about a company or product, breaking news or a simple behind the scenes.  A lot of companies and brands have even set up their own channels on YouTube.  Jamie Oliver’s Food tube is a prime example https://www.youtube.com/user/JamieOliver.  A more recent channel that caught the news was the McDonalds behind the scenes photoshoot by McDonalds Canada https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSd0keSj2W8

94% of websites don’t work.  Now I am sketchy on this particular snippet.  I don’t think that 94% of websites have an online form that doesn’t work or their Twitter button directs to the wrong page: More likely, its a case of 94% of websites are not getting their message across.  This particular conversation stemmed from site owners that decided 2 weeks before launching their business that they should really have a website.  So cue either stressed business owner trying to put together a few hurried pages with no clear message or purpose or cue stressed web designer putting pages together for stressed business owner.  This is why I always stress that it is so important to plan what message you are going to portray on your website as soon as you’re thinking on setting up a business.  And for the “don’t work” reason, this is why constantly monitoring your website is vital.

Google has the reading age of a 14 year old  Have you ever been onto a website where you could read about 3 pages and still not understand what the company is about or even trying to promote?  People at different levels are going to visit your site from beginner to expert:  if they’re new to your sector, why scare them off with technical jargon?  And referring to my first snippet, why would you want to scare off Google?

Write well-written content that’s engaging. Other adjectives were used here:  topical, human, relevant.  This snippet isn’t just for web pages, it also applies for social media and blogs.  If you’re wanting to engage with others, and gain their trust give them something to engage with.   What does everyone think about a latest development in the news?  Note that on Social media, keep it short and snappy, on Twitter you only have 140 characters!

On social media its tell, tell, tell not sell, sell, sell  As said before, you want to engage with people and gain their trust.  As soon as you launch into a sales pitch, the trust is broken, they drop you like a hot potato and others will certainly follow.  So share things that are topical.  Connect with like-minded people,  share your content, like and share other companies’  content (Tip:  if you’re promoting your company page, like and share and contribute under your Company name)

So at this point, I bet you’re asking yourself, so why use social media to promote my business, sounds like a waste of time.  But its not all for this little snippet:  85% of people rely on online people to make buying decisions.   Just last week I had a friend on Facebook asking her friends if she should buy the new iPhone 5 or the Blackberry Z10.  I myself have asked advice about what the best family car is to buy or asked advice on getting the back off a watch.  In every case, someone gave me  their recommendation or pointed me in the direction of a handy YouTube step by step guide.  Now if any of those friends mentioned that  they followed a local jeweller that supplies the tiny flathead screwdrivers needed for getting the back off a watch then definitely would not have been a waste of time.  If you tell others, share your knowledge in your online network then in turn those followers or friends will do the telling for you.

Google is a big popularity competition  I know, I’m back on the subject of Google, but it does tie in with what I have just covered:  Just think of Google as the year book and your website as the average Joe that wants to be one of the popular kids.  If Joe is spouting rubbish and sales spiel to all the other kids then chances are he’ll be left to do his own thing with no one paying attention (and after quite a bit of abuse).  If however Joe’s creating content that is engaging enough that people listen and interact with Joe and then go on and share Joe’s content with their friends, then Joe gets a good reputation for being an expert (“hey, my friend Joe told me about that”), Google will reward Joe for and his popularity stakes will go up higher.

Test your website Whichever stage you are at with your website, regular monitoring is just the reality check you need.  So take time out to analyse your website regularly using either your web analysis software or Google Analytics.

One area of testing that was mentioned more than once was A/B testing.  A/B testing is a simple way to test changes to your page against the current design and determine which version produces positive results.  A/B Testing can now be set up in Google Analytics but can also be used in email marketing campaigns

And I thought I’d save the best bit until last so here goes:

You can get on the first page of Google within 2 weeks  which was news to me because Google have always emphasised that it is a progressive thing,  but apparently if done correctly, and with a lot of hard work and strategy, it is possible.  But you will need £2500 and 3 days in Heathrow to find out how.

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