How Social Should I Be With My Business

How Social Should I Be With My Business

A recent study showed 72% of businesses that have a online marketing strategy include Social Media within that strategy.

The biggest challenge though is how do you measure a return on investment, especially as the more time you give to Social Media, the more it can take.

In this video we discuss how social you should be and how you can ensure you’re getting the best result for the time you invest.


7 Basics Every Website Needs To Succeed

7 Basics Every Website Needs To Succeed

Getting found in the Search Engines, Bringing in Traffic and Getting Customers from your website come back to 7 simple principles. In this video we cover the different ways people view your website and the foundational areas you need to have a website that flourishes now and in the future. These really are compulsory if you want to GROW your online presence.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Linking

The Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Linking

How you structure and set up your website plays a BIG part on how your website ranks in the Search Engines. In this video we discuss the importance of Internal Linking and how you can you can either have amazing results or have your site crash and burn if you ignore these basics.


Supporting Content and how it fits within the Quality Content Model

Supporting Content and how it fits within the Quality Content Model

In this video we delve deeper into the idea of Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness and explore the idea of supporting content.

If you want to gain more search engine visibility then this video is a MUST!

Quality Content, Google and E.A.T.

In this video I discuss changes to Google’s quality guidelines and the concept of Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.

If you would like to ensure you’re getting the best results for your online presence then you need to watch this video.

Does Google Adwords Impact Organic Rankings?

Does Google Adwords Impact Organic Rankings?
I’m asked this question a lot, so thought I’d cover it off in a short article.

The short of it… NO!

The 2 algorithms are separate and they the organic algorithm ignores the adwords algorithm.

I have come across the question a couple of times and one person that was certain that there was a direct correlation.

In this instance it was a mis-configuration of their analytics, which was not flagging their adwords traffic correctly so they presumed it was organic.

Paid Vs Free Traffic
Adwords When Used Correctly Can Boost A Sites Traffic!

With all of this in mind and although there is no benefit on organic ranking (directly from the using adwords), I have seen an impact on organic rankings (when used correctly) as a result of paid ads.

This has happened when trying to increase the quality score on an ad for adwords, which indirectly impacted the keyword density of the page that was ranking organically.

The moral of the story here… Make sure you use landing pages in your campaign and keep your adwords and organic separate.

Also, if you use you adwords data (CTR and Bounce Rate) in correlation with your Organic struture, you can improve your overall traffic.

Sources, Sources, Sources…

You’ll notice I’m only grabbing sources that are direct from Google as these are monitored and audited by Google.

The people that have responded have earned a higher member level (which is earned from Google based on accuracy, number of posts and knowledge)

Also, this is a youtube video from Matt Cutts (from Google) where he states there is no correlation –

The Growth of Mobile Users and Mobile SEO

When I was a kid I loved watching Star Trek. The idea of mini computers you could hold in your hand (called tricorders and communicators) to communicate, interact with the environment and to use as a medical tool seemed so futuristic. All I ever wanted as a kid was my own tricorder.

Fast forward to 2013 and while we still don’t have transporters, the whole idea or concept of a tricorders and communicators are old school as the worlds population use something far more advanced… A Smart Phone!

A man searching for another way

Although the text on their phones is way harder to read than the text on a regular PC, users feel the need to connect anytime, anywhere and is a major player driving technology right now.

They just NEED to update their Facebook status right away, tweet about the traffic, upload a picture of their fancy dinner, take a selfie to Instagram it, or check in on Foursquare at a fastfood chain. And while you used to do that on your desktop (just a few years ago), using your desktop in younger eyes is seen as and archaic thing of the past.

The Cold Hard Data On Smartphones

A recent survey (from BI Intellegence) supports this dramatic increase of smart phone users.

Global Internet Device Sales Chart

Although Ericsson were the first phone company to release what they called a ’Smart Phone’ in 1997, noticeable growth started in 2005 and then rapid growth in 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone.

This started a massive upward spike to the end of 2011, where Smartphone sales outnumbered the sale of desktop computers. This trend is expected to continue as users shift away from desktops and laptops, toward Smart phones and tablets (as you can see by the sharp growth of laptops).

Global Internet Device Sales Survey Results

The rapid growth of smart phones can be accredited to the new sleek designs, new applications, better mobile OS, more affordable prices, Convenience and User Experience.

Even more recently, the heated competition between Apple and Android is making things better for consumers as they get better products and better choices as both companies try to out do each other.

What Do Users Do With Their Mobiles?

Many smartphone users have an ongoing relationship with their phone. Their phone is the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they look at before they go to sleep. Whether on the toilet or out for a walk, people feel the need to stay ‘CONNECTED!’

So, what are the top activities people do on mobile devices?

Mostly, they play games, listen to music, share and look at pictures, engage social networks like Facebook and Twitter, browsing the Internet and watch movies.

It’s important to note that people are also shopping more using their phones. This is a combination of reference shopping (reviews, investigating, forums) designed to form an opinion of their final purchase or decision. For businesses, this still means huge opportunities to expand reach online as long as you’re developing a smart phone strategy as a part of your overall plan.

U.S. Smartphone Owners Activity in Retail Stores Survey Results

Designing and SEO for Mobile

When it comes to SEO and mobile, there are a few ‘house keeping’ rules to consider to ensure your online presence is optimised for a smaller device, but also to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to find.

Fortunately the search engines are pretty transparent when it comes to what they want and Google have released a whole bunch of literature around the subject.

A few points from their documentation:

Google uses a different bot or spider for mobile sites. You may have a mobile version of your website, but are you sure it’s being crawled by Google? For mobile sites, Google is using Googlebot-Mobile for indexing pages.

If it’s a new mobile site, you can submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools just like you would in the case of a regular website.

Test against site:operator to check if your mobile site is being crawled. If the mobile site is not appearing, it could be that something is blocking Google’s mobile crawler. Make sure that you are allowing Googlebot-Mobile to access your site.

No flash support. Some videos are not playing on some smartphones because the platform does not support flash. Furthermore flash is not as transparent to the search engines (and is old clunky technology). In order to offer a more universal experience (and make it easier for the search engines) you should consider other Search Engine compliant technologies (like HTML 5).

Serving different URLs. The mobile version of a site can be structured in many ways, but one of the more common methods is to place the mobile version under a different URL path, for example You could potentially end up creating 2 sites under the same URL.

The search engines are very specific here and would prefer the same content on the 2 sites. If you are optimising for a more compact experience on your mobile version, use the same content snippets to ensure Google don’t think you’re trying to fool them in some way.

One last point… If you are cross-referencing within your site, you have to make sure that your mobile version links to a desktop-enabled site. This will allow your end user to visit your desktop version, and will also allow Google to access (and cross reference the 2 versions easily.

Is Responsive Design the Answer?

Currently, there is no single standard for mobile friendly web page design. Google’s number 1 recommendation for mobile sites is the responsive design. Basically, responsive design adjusts the presentation of the webpage depending on the resolution of the device.

In responsive design, you are only using one HTML and serving one URL for the desktop and mobile version. This is made possible by some changes in the CSS (this is the code that defines the layout of the site). For example, instead of using the ‘width’ attribute, you use ‘max-width’, and instead of ‘height’, ‘min-height’ is used.

This makes it less complicated to deal with Google crawlers. Because there’s only one URL for both desktop and mobile versions, it’s also easier for users to interact with your website. There won’t be any need for complicated redirects.

If you want a quick illustration of how responsive design works, check out the redesigned About Google page or the Chromebooks page. You can even test this on your desktop. When you decrease the size of your browser (try making the browser narrower), the page will render as it would on a smaller screen like on a smartphone or a tablet.


You will still face issues with the responsive design because needless to say, web development, whether for desktop or mobile, is never easy. You will need all the help you can get to make the mobile site deployment a success.

The internet is going mobile. If your business has not adapted to the mobile revolution, you risk losing important audience and customers.


* special thanks to Business Insider for the data reference slides


Why You Don’t Want a Picture That Tells a Thousand Words

Over 65% of the world’s population are visual learners. Whether it’s in a classroom or out in the big wide world we are bombarded with visual queues that stimulate our senses. If I mention your favourite colour or food, 65% of you are visualising it right now.

Where it gets interesting is how I visualise that food may be very different to how you visualise that exact same meal. Components of that meal may appeal to me and at the same time you may totally disregard them in preference to another part that draws your attention.

So this raises the question… if I wanted you to focus on the key elements of an image and to link those images to the message I’m trying to get across, what other supporting methods could I use?

Furthermore, if you’re looking at achieving this online what steps do you need to take to capture your visitors.

What animal do you see?

A Picture Can Tell a Thousand Words

Let’s be honest… most people seem to have attention deficit when they’re surfing the web. There are simply too many distractions and in the online world it’s easy to get hit with information overload.

Using images can help catch the attention of visitors, but when it comes to a website it’s important to focus on the type and use of those images. Your website is your representation on the web. Everything that you put on there must be representative of you whilst ensuring you’re not confusing and befuddling your visitor.

To better understand this we first need to look at the concept of above and below the fold.

Above the Fold Design

Steve Thompson coined the term ‘Above The Fold’ (in 2000) for web development, to refer to that portion of the webpage that you see without scrolling down. This portion changes from one screen resolution to the next with 90% of screens with a resolution higher than 1024 x 768 (as of 2013).

In earlier days of the internet, it has been suggested as a standard to put everything above the fold to save people from scrolling down. This still holds true today, with the average internet user clicking making their decisions based on the information instantly presented too them above the fold.

As this is the first thing that a first-time visitor sees it’s important to consider how a visitor to your site would react when they first visit your site and whether you present the most important points ‘above the fold’ to make it easy as possible for them to navigate your site.

Above and below the fold of a website

You Only Have One Chance To Make A First Impression

A common issue we come across (which is now improving – thank goodness) is the use of a massive image above the fold (this was very common in Real Estate). No explanation, just a dirty big image that shows a picture of local scenery. What does it mean? Who Knows?

Sure there are a few sites this idea works on (like photographers and clothing shopping carts) but on the whole it’s simply a waste of space and opportunity.

A Little Research

To gain a better understanding, I started doing a little of my own research by asking website owners their reason behind adding a big non-descriptive image that takes up most of their space above the fold.
I asked 27 business owners why they used big images with no real message attached to them and the most common response.

Not surprisingly, one of the most common answers I received is the ‘a picture tells a thousand words’.

It seems almost as if someone at the top passed this concept down and so many people not understanding how to fill the space effectively used the term ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ as they simply did not know how else to respond.

Let me share another example.

I recently spoke with a lawyer that had a massive stock image of a happy family on the homepage of his site. I always had a perception of a lawyer as someone professional, older, well-read, etc. Yet to the business owner this image represented freedom, a stress free environment, family, love and so on.

See how the gap could easily be formed?

What the business owner perceived or what they’re trying to project is not always what the user or the viewer will get.

David Hasselhoff - misunderstood?

Proper Use of Images

When designing a web page, it’s important to think about your user (the person that visits the site). Understand that you are dealing with different types of people, coming from different backgrounds and exposed to different experiences that are not the same as yours. It would be dangerous to assume that they think the same way you do.

If you are going to use images on your site, you need to remember some important points:

• Don’t let the image take over the site. Whilst your site may look fancy and pretty, make sure that it’s also functional. Avoid using extremely large images that takes all the attention of the user. Can you use large images on your website? Yes, as long as it’s a supportive image that displays a clear message about your products and services (like a gallery).

• Overlay text on your images. There is nothing wrong with using images, but make sure that your message is clear. You can do this by overlaying text on the image. This will direct the thought of the viewer.

• If the page, particularly the homepage, is carrying a big image, it has to be clear and direct to the point. Avoid using images that can confusing or send varying messages to the user. Also ensure that big image isn’t negatively affecting the load times of your site as your visitor could leave your page due to their lack of patience.

• Whilst you can add images with text overlay avoid replacing paragraphs of text with text in images. Remember, we have to consider the Search Engines too and they need text to understand your sites theme.

• Every image ‘above the fold’ should be an opportunity to lead a person through your sales funnel or to re-enforce your product or service. Make sure you use that space wisely as it’s your chance to show people that your business is all about.

• Your banner should clearly display the main method you would like people to use to get in contact with you. If it’s your phone number it would mean anyone visiting any page on your site could pick up the phone and immediately give you a call. This makes it as easy as possible for people to deal with you.

A scientist conducting an experiment

Creating a successful website involves real science combined with testing and measuring. By following a few simple elements within your images you can dramatically increase conversions from your site (and lead people down a funnel to whatever goal you would like to achieve).

Consider the most successful websites (for example Ebay or Amazon). Notice their pages are not dominated by huge images and every image contains a description as opposed to leaving it up to the end user to figure it out.

A picture tells a thousand words. Why not invest a little time to narrow it down from those thousand words to offer a clear, concise message that explains exactly what those images are all about?


Quality Content V’s Keyword Stuffing

Content is King!!!

This is a common term that is thrown around in the world of SEO.

It does lack one small element… Quality!

Although Google have always encouraged quality from the very beginning, due to Google’s more recent Algorithm updates (over the last 12 months) this focus is coming into the foreground as SEO’ers, and content creators alike are feeling the squeeze.

Why Does The King Feel So Content

Basically; when it comes to content creation, there a few different mythologies that used to work in the past which are being fazed out with the intention of supplying the end user with the most relevant piece of information as quickly as possible.

What is this older school technique called? Keyword Stuffing

Let’s be honest… Keyword stuffing did work in the past. The issue though is when the end user was searching for content they were getting low quality information filled with keyword stuffed content. Google understood if they were to stay on top they would need to continue to develop their algorithm. Because of this, Google have invested a lot of time (and continue to) enhancing their algorithm to weed out the bad content from the good content.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing can be defined using several different methods. My take on it would be to say:

The excessive use of keywords and fluff in content designed to influence the search engines, rather than to provide compelling, interesting content that end users would like to read and share.

Like any heavily saturated industry, there are a number of SEO’s who are not updated with the times and believe that a certain percentage of the content should be keyword stuffed.

The main problem with keyword stuffed content is in the creation. It is usually fluff with little or no meaning, where an end user would not a gain any real value.

Though the overall theme should flow through your content (in synonyms, etc.) content should be created with the main focus of your end user wanting to read and share it!

Want to see this in action? Take a look at any popular news site and you’ll see they create content for their visitors to share and discuss.


What are the Key Elements of Quality Content?

While quality content is important, it’s also important to understand the purpose and the use of that content.

A couple of important pointers:
– Make sure your content is ‘More Than’ a couple of words strung together and includes other elements to make it ENGAGING
– Create content your visitors would like to know about (you can understand this by looking at Google Analytics data)
– Create NEW content that is relevant to your end user
– Constantly keep your finger on the pulse, searching for new topics
– Use engagement to spread the word
– Create content with consistency

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

Defining Content

Before generating content, it is best to know first what constitutes “content.” Content is not limited to written text as many people would think. Content can also be videos, images and sounds.

When delivering a message to your readers and target customers, it will be more interesting if you could include videos from your YouTube channel or share beautiful images of products you distribute.

Visuals can make a big difference. They can bring substantial traffic to your site. A lot of people look for videos and images online. In some cases videos and images are the first thing they want to see. Take for example, how-to’s and instruction content. Many people will prefer seeing a demo video to understand the instructions better.

Define Your Niche

Think of ways to distinguish yourself from the competition. Find a niche so that people will look for you when they think of that niche.

If you are an online store for dresses, for example, you may have to say you’re featuring a certain set of designers. What about if you are offering repair and maintenance services? You can focus on the repair of a certain type of vehicle, like Saab.

Highlight what makes your business different in the content that you are producing so people will know the benefits of your products and services.


Contribute Something New

To be noticed on the big maze of the internet, you should stand out.

Bring something new to your audience and offer your opinion on that new piece of news. It could be a piece of existing information available on the web, but make sure you expand on that information with more detail.

If you sell smart phones and there’s a new model on the market then review it. Share the specs, but also let them know what you do and don’t like about it. You can even have that video transcribed and added to your site for people to read.

Delivering original content with your ‘take’ on that subject will help build your online reputation and increase your chance of getting referral links from other sites.

Finding Topics – Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

Research what people are asking. If you’re only starting to develop content for your business website or blog, then you shouldn’t be having problems thinking up topics.

If you start to find it hard to come up with topics, check out other sources. A few that comes to mind are-
– Google News – Where you can see the latest trending news for your industry
– Search for people in your industry and follow them. You can do this with Google Reader (or other services like Feedly as Reader is going to be discontinued in July 2013)
– Google Trends – Google share trending subjects within a specific niche
– Surveys – Where you ask your existing clients their biggest ‘Problem’ within your industry

Discussing what’s actually going on in the industry through the data you gathered will show your customers and prospects that you are a market leader in your industry.

Understand What Really Drives Traffic

So you’ve written a really good quality post, but what’s driving people to your site? Work on gaining solid followers to build your reputation online using social media. Along with components of existing SEO techniques, the use of social media will assist with ‘User Engagement’.

If you stick to creating really good quality content for users, eventually your site will gain traction. Don’t depend on short-term successes. With certain techniques, you may get yourself at the top of search results, but if the content is lacking in quality, then it will lack CONVERSIONS.


Just Do It

There are many reasons that turn up when you focus on consistent quality content. It could be procrastination, you’re too busy, you don’t think your opinion matters, or a number of other reasons.

In reality, whatever you have to say counts but like any skill, it does take practice. The more you practice the more you improve and the more people will get to know you.

As my grade 3 piano teacher taught me: ‘the key to learning piano begins with the 3p’s. Practice, Practice, Practice’.

By investing the time, creating with consistency and ‘Just Doing It’ you’ll be on the path to creating quality content opposed to keyword stuffed fluff content. This will encourage your reader to share your content (which will increase distribution) and will position you as a leader in your industry.


Beware: Google Penalties… Is Your Website Safe?

If you look around on a number of SEO forums, you’ll notice every time Google release an algorithm update that there are a slew of site owners complaining about losing traffic.

Let’s be honest… Google employ some of the worlds leading minds to ensure they are not only constantly developing measures to rank sites, but also to ensure they are on the most popular kid in school.

BBC Gets Slapped By Google

One surprise recently was that BBC, a very well known brand backed by a solid global reputation was penalised for unnatural links.

Not only was it a little surprising that such a big company with what you’d expect to have a solid online strategy was penalised, it also showed that if anyone steps over the lines of Google quality guidelines, that they would pay the price.

The BBC website is not alone…

Another popular website, Digg, also got accidentally penalised while Google was scouring the site for spammy submitted links. Earlier, Interflora, a popular flower seller in the UK, was penalised for its use of advertorials to boost its ranking.

Al Pacino's 'Scarface' machine gun

What is the message? There are no big brands or big companies when it comes to Google penalties and everyone has to follow the rules.

What does this mean for your company and how do you keep yourself protected and what are the rules?

Fair Playing Field

First things first… Here are the rules –

These are clearly laid out and do require a little technical know-how to ensure you are covering each step correctly.

A lot of the rules actually listed in this link relate to the sites structure, use of quality content and the type of links that come back to a specific site.

Google treats all sites as equal. Certain sites results in the search engines are different due to their reputation (and other earned measures), but Google will penalise all sites the same way irrespective of the size of the brand.

Matt Cutts, head of the Google webspam team, said that big brands are penalised quite often. They just don’t get into the news much because it’s not in the brand’s best interest.

In reality, if a big guy is doing something illegal, they will be punished. A smaller or medium-sized company can actually outdo a multinational company online just by following a number of basic principles.

This then makes you ask the question… If you’re a big or small brand, what basic steps should you follow to ensure you’re keeping the search engines happy?

Caution Protection Required

Basic Methods To Protecting Yourself

If you are not doing any prohibited SEO techniques, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’ve hired an SEO company and that SEO is using techniques that go against Google’s policy, then you may have an issue.

Here are some sure ways you can avoid being penalised.

Generate original, quality content. One good way of making sure your site do not get penalised by Google is to deliver only good quality content. This is Google’s primary rule. They want give the public the information they want and need.

Originality is also a big concern. You don’t want to be copying or rewriting content from another website. The best way to handle this is by providing content based on your field of expertise. Your site’s content should be helping prospective customers in a way.

In creating content for your site, think about the users first, not the search engines. Give advice, reviews or opinion on a topic related to your business.

What is quality content? Content that informs and educates the visitor to your site on your niche/ industry. This can be words, sounds, videos and other methods to interact and engage your users. Avoid fluff and duplicate content.

Stay away from spammy activities. Many SEO activities have been linked to spam and illegal activities which are really not meant for the best interest of the user. And that’s what makes them bad in the eyes of Google.

From Google Guildines… ‘Activities that you should avoid include buying or selling links, linking to web spammers and participating in excessive link exchanges – this is the old practice of ‘You link to me, I link to you.’

Gone are the days when spammy techniques helped sites get ahead in search results. If you do that now, you can get in trouble dealing with penalties. Worst case scenario: your entire site can be taken out of Google search results.

Google Webmaster Tools is a MUST. Your site administrator should be checking Webmaster Tools regularly to check the health of the site. It is through the Webmaster Tools that you will get notified by Google if there are spammy activities going on in your site. This was how BBC found out about the penalty. Regularly check it to see if there are errors when search engines crawl your site or if there is malware present.

Side Note: this is one example of hundreds of ways you can use Webmaster Tools to enhance your online presence.

Monitor and protect your site from hackers. Make sure you remove any hacked content that tries to get into your site. You should also protect your site from user-generated spam. Part of the responsibility of a web administrator is to monitor the site for spammy content. This unwanted content can do a lot of damage to your site. Installing good security will help a great deal in protecting your site from these attacks.

What Can You Do If You Get Penalised?

It’s not the end of the world if you get penalised by Google. There are solutions to every problem including this. Remember the prime rule in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic!

Here are some important things you can do if you get penalised.

Reconsideration. Google is not unforgiving. All you need to do is look for the spammy links or content in your website. Have them removed – you might need to contact a website to remove the unnatural link to your site.

You then submit a reconsideration request to Google. The reconsideration request can be done through Google Webmaster Tools. Your SEO should have this as a minimum requirement. If not, it’s time to move on.

Here’s a direct link to a reconsideration request form –

Get other venues to get traffic to your site. If your site’s been removed from Google search results, you can still get traffic while you fix the problem. This is why social engagement is very important.

If you have a good amount of followers on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, your site can still get the traffic you want. It’s a good backup plan and will go handy in times like this.

BSB band member 'AJ' shows peace sign

The trick to pleasing Google and search engines is simple. Think of your users, be honest and keep it clean. In other words – Keep It Real!

SEO is always an organic process that succeeds through honest efforts. Don’t be fooled by shortcuts and promises of instant results.

It can be a jungle out there if you don’t know where to look for help. Develop a trustworthy SEO strategy that’s good for users and eventually good for you. Google wants to help businesses and customers get the best from the search engines. This will ensure you’re getting the right message across and pleasing the Google Gods at the same time.