Category Archives: Search Engine Marketing

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.

Photobooth Hire in Ireland – SEO Testimonial

Primetime Leisure specialises in photobooth hire for weddings and other events in Ireland and until recently was way down the search engine results page.

I met with Primetime for a coffee and it turns out that there wasn’t much wrong with the site except that it wasn’t targetting the right keywords.

We spent some time identifying the right keywords for the maximum results and went about editing some target pages to incorporate these phrases.  I suggested some other things they could do to their site and regarding link building and at the time of writing Primetime Leisure is now in 5th position on page 1 for their major search term.  We also improved their keyword targetting within Google Adwords during the session.

Primetime contacted me thanking me for the help which is really positive feedback:

Just want to say thank-you for the help in getting my website on the pages of google. When we started if you put up ‘photobooth’ you couldn’t find me no matter how far back through the pages you went.

Since we met, my web site is steadily climbing up the results page. Something I honestly didn’t think was possible.

Once again thanks Cian for the help.”

Robert Nutt – Primetime Leisure

Search Engine Optimisation can Make you Fishers of Customers

boat fishing trolling panoramic rod and reels blue sea

I’ve met with some clients over the past few weeks regarding making their businesses more competitive on the search results pages on Google.

I always start the sessions with the phrase “It’s not rocket science” but like everything there is effort involved.  Nothing happens overnight.

If I had a euro for every time someone asked me “can you get me to no. 1?” I wouldn’t need to do SEO ever again, but the answer is nobody can guarantee it.  You can pay to have an ad appear at the very top if you pay enough but it may not get you a return on your investment. To get to the top of the organic search results is possible, but it’s down to Google and how good your competitors are at SEO.

The beauty of it is that it’s like a sport, you get out what you put in, but the best thing about it is the rewards.  If you get to no. 1 you begin to get leads for your business for free.  A nice prize.

When you’re in no. 1 position, or even the first 3, and if there is business traffic for that key phrase you will get relevant traffic, and if your site does its job you will get leads.  Indefinitely.

Competitive business should learn to enjoy SEO as such and take the bull by the horns and learn the basics initially and then delve into the finer details.  You’d be amazed what a little effort can achieve, especially in local market places as most of your competitors will have done very little SEO.  As with everything the 80/20 rule applies.

I think of it like the old saying,

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

If you hire someone for SEO, you may get some extra business in the short term, but learn it for yourself and you can create something that potentially keep generating traffic for you indefinitely.

The fishing analogy doesn’t end there.  If potential internet visitors are fish, you website is the rod, and the keywords you use on your site are the bait.  You have to use specific bait for specific fish and that is the art of SEO.  Getting traffic to your site that is relevant and that will ultimately generate business for you.

If you need help with your SEO look to experts that actually achieve results, that have love for it and see it as a sport.  There are no tricks, nothing black hat about it, just do it right and the rewards are plentiful.  There have been updates to Google over the years that have removed sites from the results pages, but following a simple 3 step process of keyword research, applying the keywords to content and then sensible promotion through link building and supporting marketing activities will see you rise through the ranks over time.

 

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.

Top 10 Tips for Self Publishing a Book

10-tips-self-publishingI was asked recently on Linked In some questions about publishing a book. Maybe you’ve made a resolution to publish the book that you’ve always had at the back of your mind?

The biggest decision you have to make when you wish to publish a book is whether to self-publish or not.  If you decide to go with a publishing company, and your book gets accepted by them a lot of the work is taken off your hands but so too is a lot of the profit, and rightly so because work should be rewarded through sharing profit fairly.

As a self published author of several irish slang books, I wanted to share my experience of writing and publishing my own books. The first book that I published back in 2007 was a book entitled “The Deise Dictionary of Waterford Slang.”

Here is the list of steps that I went through to get the book published and my tips for each stage:

  1. Research with Passion: Before writing a book you must research the topic adequately and become passionate about it, otherwise the book will not be written because the effort required is far more than you initially realise.
  2. Make a Plan:  You’ve got to have a plan for the book, content, chapters etc. etc.  In order to formulate a plan you should talk to others too.  I had great help from Tom Fewer of Ballylough Books to help me plan my first book.
  3. Write it:  Open up your word processor and begin writing.  It probably helps at this point if you format the page size of your word processor to match the dimensions of the book you want to write.  There will be less fiddling about at the end if you do.  Consider margins etc.  Perhaps even talking to a printing company at this point might be a good idea!  They will provide you with exact page dimensions and optimum margin widths.
  4. Review it:  You should get several third parties to go through the book to help correct grammar and other mistakes.  If it’s a novel you’re writing, this is especially important.  For me the most important thing was consistency.
  5. Design it:  Once you have the content written you need to design a cover, and maybe get some graphic design work done on the inside pages too. It’s probably best to employ a freelance designer for this or perhaps your printing company will have someone that can do this for you at a good rate.
  6. Get an ISBN number:  You need to apply to Nielson to get yourself an ISBN number. When I bought them I received a block of 10 that I can still use.  You then need to convert the ISBN number to a barcode.  Generally you can employ a company to do this for you, they will charge maybe €50 and you can pass it on to your printing company.  There are free tools online to create bar codes such as: http://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/
  7. Print It: You then need to go to a printing company and get the book printed and bound. Go to several as prices vary quite a bit.  They will help you choose the right format, paper quality and will give you a price. Normally the more you print the cheaper it gets per unit.   Before you print the final copy you will need to go through a proof of the book and fix any last minute mistakes.  If you’re sending physical copies of the book across the globe, consider the weight of the paper too.
  8. Publicise it: Once the book is printed you need to publicise it.  Create a buzz on social media, send copies to local media, papers, get a celebrity to champion it. I asked my school friend and magician Keith Barry (host of Tv3 show Brainhacker) to launch my book, which he graciously did for me.  In my case it was picked up by local and national media, including Ryan Tubridy, which was fantastic for sales.  The Deise Dictionary created such a buzz it actually sold out locally that Christmas (2000 copies). I managed to get a second batch printed quickly, and it kept selling well into January which is highly unusual.
  9. Get it on Shelves: I suppose publicity and placement in shops are a bit “chicken and eggish”  it needs to be in the shops before you publicise but it also needs to be publicised before shops will take it.  When it is in the shop, try and ask the shop nicely to position it well.  It will sell far more if it is more visible.
  10. Sell it online.  There are lots of opportunities to get your book promoted online via blogs, news sites, social media, youtube, discusssion forums and so on.  Consider your target market and where they are.  This is where you need to be.  You could create a site to sell the book via PayPal or get it on Amazon and other book selling sites.

Generating Profit

To make profit from a self-published book is difficult.  In order to get it printed you are looking at a cost of maybe 20% of the sale price.  Then you will need a distributor.  Argosy and Eason charged me in the region of 50+%, which included the shops commission.  If you are distributing yourself, typically, a shop will charge 20%-40% commission to sell your creation.

My advice on publishing therefore, is:

  • If you are exclusively selling locally and you can distribute yourself, then if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 40-50% of the the sale price.  If you go through
  • If you are selling nationally you will need a distributor, in this case if you sell all of your books you can expect to earn potentially 30% of the sale price.
  • If you go international, through a publisher, a lot of work will be taken off your hands in terms of publishing, printing, distribution, but you can expect a lot less than 30%. You will still need to do a lot of the promotion yourself.

Some more tips on selling your book online:

for-focal-sake-thumbThese days you can sell your book online also.  Consider creating a web page or blog to go along with your book and selling it online via PayPal.  For one of my books “For Focal Sake-A 32 County Guide to Irish Slang” I created a website to collect Irish slang from across the country.  I then published the book on the site and it’s promoted to this day via search engine optimisation.  If someone searches for a slang term and finds slang.ie, they are possibly someone in my target market.  Through this I have managed to sell this and my other slang books quite successfully.  Of course paypal take a small cut of the sale price and you have to add on shipping costs, but generally you can absorb these costs a bit better for your customer because you are not paying a large comission to get the book onto a shelve and you don’t have to worry about distributing, besides sending the items at your local post office.

If your book is something that people can relate to and you can provide extra information on a blog, some of your content could potentially go viral through social sharing (like button, pinterest pin, linkedin share, google+ etc).  This is a really good way of getting the word out there, but it isn’t easy to be successful.  You have got to find a niche and it has to be sharable, and you need to find a way to get the sharing process kickstarted. Also, once your book becomes popular, don’t forget channels such as Amazon for selling and getting reviews.  Send your book to popular blogs in your target market for review.

Happy writing and best of luck!

How to search Google.com from Ireland

If you’re like me and you want to check out how your site is doing on Google.com Google.co.uk or any other version of Google Search, this blog entry might be what you’re looking for.

Why would I want to search another version of Google?

For example, in Ireland, if you type in Google.com into your browser address bar you will be redirected (in most cases) back to Google.ie.  If you do a Search within Google.ie, it will bias your searches towards listings in your region.  This is not ideal if you want to check how your site is doing in other countries especially if you have an international customer base.

Google NCR

All you need to do is type in http://www.google.com/ncr to go to google.com and not be redirected to your specific country region.  Google NCR stands for “No Country Redirect.”

Examples of Google NCR:

Happy days!

Search Engine Site Explorer

We’ve created a new tool for small businesses and individuals with sites < 50 pages to check their sites for common SEO mistakes.

Please find the SEO Site Explorer Tool Here: http://www.waterfordwebdesign.ie/seo-tools/siteexplorer.php

Simply enter your websites URL in the box provided and our tool will scan your site and report back detailing your page title, meta description, h1 tags.  It will tell you if there are repeated titles (a big no no) and meta tags, and whether any of the titles exceed the recommended lengths specified by the W3C and Google.

Another handy feature is the fact that it shows all inbound links to these pages and the anchor text shown on them which is another important SEO fact.

If you have a content management system you should be able to make these changes and re-run the tool again to verify that your site has been updated.

Please note that we do not accept responsibility for any changes you make to your site based on the recommendations of this tool. It is a guide only but at the very least it will give you a snapshot of your site as it currently stands and will highlight potential areas for improvement.

Feedback very welcome.

FREE SEO Test For Your Website

If you want to evaluate whether a webpage on your site is optimised for the main keywords customers are using to search for your products or service, we created a handy little tool for you to try here: Free SEO Analysis Tool

Basically what it does is searches for the keywords you specify within the areas of your page that Googles evaluates content too such as title, headings, images, meta description and so on.  It then generates an indicative score based on this evaluation.

Embedding the keywords people are searching for is critical to the success of your site.  By not having the keywords people are searching for on your site means that Google has little or no way of matching your site with a search phrase.

It is worth noting here that there are other factors too in SEO terms that can affect your site’s position on the results page including:

  1. Competition
  2. Back links to your site
  3. Trust
  4. Social networking likes
  5. Age of your site
  6. Overall quality of your site content
  7. Your site’s link structure

This tool is intended as an initial evaluation tool for a single page on your site and is no substitution for a full in-depth SEO analysis.

Tips when Picking an SEO Consultant or Firm

If you haven’t built a site yet, then make sure you talk to SEO experts before building your site! SEO should not be an afterthought!

Lately, I’ve been asked to assist companies more and more with their Search Engine Optimisation. The first thing I ask is why they are not consulting with the firm that built their website? In most cases it comes down to price but also they want to independently verify the work that was done by their web development firm.

The first thing I tell clients is that they shouldn’t expect their website firm to have done much SEO work if they didn’t explicity ask/pay for it. Invariably it is the case that the minimum will be done and sometimes they just don’t have expertise in the area. Most firms put some basic effort into SEO but beyond that, nothing is done. However, if companies charge for it, I’d expect a little bit more and a report of what has been done.

If you are not happy with your site’s SEO and you are seeking an SEO consultancy firm then I suggest you follow these tips:

  1. Understand the basics of SEO yourself, read books, go online, do some research before meeting a consultant
  2. Ask your business networks do they know SEO consultants that have made a difference for them
  3. Ask SEO consultancy firms for the best examples of their work
  4. Be careful that the SEO firm doesn’t have other clients in your niche area, would there be a conflict of interest?
  5. Make sure the service they are providing is clear and what they will need from you
  6. Make sure and get clear reports based on your analytics data
  7. Make sure the price is not ridiculous. In Ireland I’ve heard of some companies charging 1500 per day! That kind of spend would get you a lot of clicks through PPC advertising

In my professional opinion an SEO consultant should be able to assist you with the following:

  • Keyword Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Website Audit
  • Suggest or make changes to your site (sometimes they might not be willing to update the site)
  • Link Building or Link Suggestions (sometimes best to do link building in house)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Advertising Advice
  • Deciphering Analytics and Monitor Improvements

Most of these tasks can be done in house at a fraction of the rates an SEO consultant will charge you, so in my opinion, do what you can yourself based on your SEO consultants advice, however if you do require expertise to fulfil a specific task outsource that aspect of it (e.g. link building, site re-build etc.)

What is Internet Marketing?

Internet Marketing is a buzzword thrown around today like an old basket ball. It’s important if you have a business website to understand the basics so that you can score three pointers on your competitors.

Essentially it is any activity performed online that promote your product or service.

Here is a list of the top most critical Internet Marketing Activities:

  1. Search Engine Optimisation: You have to ensure that your website has the correct keywords embedded within it to have a chance of being shown on the search engine results page.
  2. Google Pay Per Click Advertising or Google Adwords: Using Google Keyword Research you can pay for your site to appear on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Be careful here as you can pay a fortune for ads that aren’t optimised and remember to ditch terms that aren’t giving you a return. These ads can also appear on websites that use Google Adsense.
  3. Facebook Pay Per Click Advertising: Facebook advertising is very exciting for certain businesses as you can target customers by age, location, sex etc. It can be expensive but if you get a customer to join your facebook page you have access to them potentially indefinitely.
  4. Affiliate Marketing: Often there’s a website out there that provides information to your target market. It might be worth offering them a percentage of your profit if they can generate significant sales for you. There are many third party services that link affiliates with merchants such as TradeDoubler. If it’s a niche you could update your site to track who has generated sales for you.
  5. Social Media interaction: It is important to engage with your consumers in a non-salesy way so that they learn to trust you. Building up this kind of relationsip will influence a customer when it comes to future purchase decisions.
  6. Add facebook like button to your site: If people like what you’re offering they may well share it on facebook if you make it easy for them to do it.
  7. Google Places: Don’t forget to add your site to Google Places otherwise know as Google Local Business Centre. When people do local searches these results often do better than regular SERP entries.

There are lots more things that you can do to market your product or service online. This is just a taster of some of the more important Internet Marketing techniques that I use on a daily basis.