Category Archives: Blogs

Zero Spend on Marketing since 2008

money-for-nothingI quit a well paid, pensionable job in WIT in 2007 to start my own business.  I was a principle investigator / lead researcher on various projects in the TSSG and brought in lots of funding based on my ideas.

I left the TSSG and went on the SEEPP programme, which was ideal as it offered a level 9 qualification as well as time to develop an idea and a small grant to cover the cost of the day we spent on the course each week.  During that time I developed slang.ie (which needs an overhaul), a book entitled ‘For Focal Sake‘ and a business plan to take the enterprise forward and globalise it. Sadly, I didn’t get the grant funding I required to progress my business afterwards from Enterprise Ireland even though I won the best startup at the South East Enterprise awards that year. 

Slang.ie made some money from google ads and through book sales but it wasn’t enough to sustain a family in Ireland so I had to supplement this with other work so I began contracting out my web development skills.  I had done some work previously obviously with my own projects www.upthedeise.com and www.slang.ie so I knew my way around SEO and viral marketing over facebook.  So I set up UTD Web Design and Waterford Web Design.ie

What I had that maybe some others in the industry did not have is a keen insight into Search Engine Optimisation, and a process that really works.  I implemented a basic SEO plan for both websites and since then I have spent absolutely nothing on marketing and yet I am constantly getting leads through my site.  On many occasions I have turned away business.

What I did was got to the best position for my main key phrases e.g. Waterford Web Design and a many others.    I’ve also blogged on non-related topics that get people in and aware of the brand too.  Only a week ago a client told me they picked my service because I was in the top position (on the advice of  a friend).  They reckoned that if my site was being found so would theirs.

I suppose the disadvantage of not needing to advertise is that it means that I don’t engage as much as I should with local businesses at networking events etc. but I find that any spare time I have is better spent focussing on my own fitness and vitality because I need to stay fit an healthy to provide for my family for the foreseeable future, unless my next big idea really kicks off.

To be honest, I am earning comparable money to what I earned in research, but my quality of life now is 100 times better.  I am not chasing any sort of different life to what I have, I’m thankful for every moment of it, for being healthy, strong and being able to enjoy moments with friends and family every day.  I really appreciate my clients, old and new and most of them understand that if I’m not available, I’m probably up jumping into a lake in the comeraghs or lifting kettlebells or enjoying a coffee in Kilmeaden Cake Supplies or the Holy Cross, or working hard on a niggly bit of code for another client or doing my tax returns (grrrrr!).

I am so thankful.

Simple SEO Social Media Strategy for Business Bloggers

Simple SEO Social Media Strategy for Business Bloggers:A mistake that is commonly made by businesses is that they create a site and then leave it static expecting people to find it and purchase products or contact them for leads.  In terms of SEO, generally, the fewer pages on the site the less effective it can be and the less specifically it can match what people are looking for.

Another mistake then is that businesses put up loads of content up on their facebook pages, images, short messages, competitions etc. and though effective in the short term, they quickly move from the time line and there is no long term SEO benefit.  By following the strategy below you can get that quick win and also get some long term seo benefits.

The three key aspects of SEO are:

  1. Find out what customers are searching for
  2. Ensure the pages of your site match these terms
  3. Get links back to these pages

Finding out what people are searching for is pretty easy using tools such as the google keyword planner.  So once you know this you can then discover how many competitors you have and how well they are doing on the search results page.

With a standard site you can really only focus on key phrases related to the content on those pages and you are limited in terms of what you can target.  With a blog however, you can keep adding pages to your site, so following is a Simple SEO Social Media Strategy for Business Bloggers:

  1. Before you write the blog find out what people are searching for specifically
  2. Use that key phrase and slight variations of it when writing the blog, set the title to that, add it to the content, use it as the alternative description for images
  3. Be the first to share the blog entry on your facebook page or twitter account and ensure there are social share options on the blog so that they can share within their own networks.

You don’t necessarily need to write a blog about your business topics, though tips and tricks, guides, dos and don’ts can be helpful, but be creative.  One of the more popular blogs on this site for example is a ‘how to get to‘ type article.  This is very useful to people in my area and it will be potentially seen by someone looking to get a site done.  If they like what they read they may at a future date decide they need a website and they then are aware of or know about the brand and might feel like they can do business with me as a result.

The brilliant thing about wordpress is that there are plugins that assist with this functionality.  Plugins for social sharing, which facilitate sharing on practically all social networks and are highly configurable. Plugins for search engine optimisation, which provide keyword analysis, checklists and so on.  It can make life very easy indeed.

So in summary, before you make your next facebook post, think about whether it might be more beneficial for you to post it to your blog first and then share the link on facebook.

WordPress White Screen of Death (wp-admin blank screen problem)

If anyone out there is experiencing the WordPress white screen of death i.e. when you go to your wordpress wp-admin folder all you see is a blank screen, you may have been hacked.

I had a nasty little hack where link code was being injected into the footer of every rendered page. It was difficult to find as the links that were being injected were injected by an encoded script that had infected several files (especially in my themes folder). I went through each file and deleted the script from them. In this case, if you’re not experienced with code you would be safer to do a full re-install of your blog.

The result of the clean up was that several files had spaces injected into them at the top and bottom of the page. I did a full re-install to restore all the important files in the system and I still was experiencing the blank screen. Obviously wp-config.php wasn’t part of the update and so I cleaned out a blank line on the top of this module and I could finally log back in again.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Note: If you have been hacked, change all of your passwords, database, ftp, wordpress etc. and make sure that all file permissions on your server are set up correctly, be pessimistic.

Why should I set up a Blog?

There are various reasons why you should set up a blog, maybe you have thoughts in your head that you just want to share with the world, maybe you  are the public relations officer for a group and you want to disseminate information, maybe you are a story teller or an amateur reporter who wants to comment on topics relevant to the world today.  These are all valid reasons for setting up a blog but the no 1 reason people should set up blogs in the business community is to help them generate revenue, be it directly through advertising products on the blog itself or by indirectly advertising their own products or services through friendly advice. For example this blog, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that this blog was set up to help me promote my business.

So how can blogs help you earn money?

A regularly updated, well constructed blog will be monitored by Google and other search engines, therefore every blog entry you write has the opportunity to capture more visitors to your site. It is therefore important that the title of your blog and the content in the first paragraph and throughout the entry targets the keyphrase that you know users are searching for.  For example this particular blog entry is called “Why should I set up a blog?” If we look at the Google Keyword tool, 18,100 people each month search for “set up a blog” which is contained within the title of this blog.  This means that if someone types in “Set up a blog” into google it could potentially match this page.  Of course other factors such as page popularity, region etc. come into play but the potential is there.

The great thing about blogs is that you can endlessly post pages to your site, unlike on your business website, which displays your products and services.  There’s no way that you can cover every topic that someone might type in to search for your products and services on your business website, it would just get too messy and customers would not enjoy the experience.  Your company site is about converting traffic into business. Your blog on the other hand and delve down into very specific issues and can have a personal touch.  People reading blogs are looking for the solution to a problem or a author’s opinion on something so when you are constructing your blog think firstly, what would a user search for and then solve or comment on that problem. You should look at the Google Keyword tool to help you make that judgement.  Once you have your topic and the correct keywords write your blog naturally and just make sure you mention your key phrase once or twice throughout. Your new blog entry then essentially becomes a lead for your business.

What you are trying to achieve is to get new visitors to your site based on long tail key phrases.  These are key phrases that consist of several words that further qualify a key phrase e.g. “Cars in Waterford” could be a considered a relatively generic search term, whereas “Honda Civic Cars Waterford” is much more specific or long tail.  Long tail phrases may get you less traffic on their own but combined over time they will lead to significant, and more importantly, more focused traffic to your site. In other words, if a potential lead is typing in a very specific search phrase and their search turns up your site, they are likely to have found what they are looking for. It’s about casting your fishing net further, wider and more accurately than your company website ever can.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding long tail keywords:

” These phrases individually are unlikely to account for a great deal of searches, but when taken as a whole, can provide significant traffic. The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate by nature of their specificity and relevance is worth investigating.

“Comprehensive long-tail keyword research can be a highly effective strategy, since people making long-tail searches are arguably further along in the buying cycle, so conversion rates can be higher. Recent long-tail keyword research has found that long-tail searches often exhibit a higher conversion rate by up to 200% compared to short-tail keywords, and can be extremely profitable for search engine marketers in terms of a lower cost per action and higher return on investment.”

If a blog entry is good it may be linked to or tracked by the blog community or commented on which is the ideal situation (this means it is being read).  Sometimes you will hit the jackpot and get tonnes of visits, other times you will see nothing but tumbleweed blow across the screen.  Over time if you consistently blog, it will average out as more visits to your site each month so once you start blogging, make sure you keep blogging!!!

How do I set up a blog?

There are a number of ways of doing this. You can host the blog on your own server or you can use an online blog service.  WordPress is probably the best known blog software in the world and you have both options here.  You can set up a blog on their server and you might get a domain such as yourbusiness.wordpress.com or you can download wordpress from wordpress.org and install it on your own server (you might need a web developer/designer to help you with this).  There are other online blog solutions such as blogger and livejournal. One advantage of using a hosted service is that you get a free link back to your main domain which will help your SEO.

So that’s pretty much it really, set up that business blog and start telling your customers what they want to hear through sensible advice and providing potential solutions to problems they might have. Oh and at the bottom of each blog entry you could also end with a gentle ad for your business.

E.g. for more information on setting up blogs or if you need a blog set up and managed for you please contact info@utdwebdesign.com

😉