Maxys Personalising the Web

Maxys - Personalising the Web, looking at digital media communication and internet video for business sales and marketing.
Tag » SEO

This is a Digital Media Strategy Beginners Article.

Local Search Results

One of the biggest failures of the web to date has been the generally poor results you get from a local search - particularly here in Australia where only around 30% of small businesses have a website.  The poor performance is understandable when it's only logical that if your business doesn't have a website, then it's hard for Google to know you exist and for people to link to your site.  

Coffee Shop Dolls PointThere have been many attempts over the years to address this gap, from the old, once dominant, Yellow Pages type paper advertising directories (which have finally migrated to online directories); Government and commercial initiatives like Google and MYOB (leading Australian Small Business accounting software); consumer comparison and ranking website portals; through to customer generated content - forums, bloggers; Facebook Places; Fourquare; Twitter; new Google+ and my new favourite service www.quora.com (founded last year by the ex CTO of Facebook).

From a business owners perspective it's a Catch 22 situation - if your immediate sales are not generated from the web then why as business do you need to invest the time, energy and money to develop new skills; keep information up to date; maintain the website; and also communicate through these online channels - "I sell coffee I'm not some computer nerd!" they cry.   

The answer to that question is very simple - depending on what report you're reading then 50-90% of new customers will search online before purchasing - Online Retailing's SOBO "Search Online Buy Offline". 

If you're not actively marketing and communicating online then there's a very high probability your competitors are or will be.

Opportunity and Competition Drives Innovation  

Ten months ago, I wrote about a new coffee shop which opened in the local neighbourhood "Foodies Deli Cafe" which brought a refreshing new competitor to the local coffee drinking marketplace - back then as a test I asked how long would it be before they commented on my blog post.

Today, that moment arrived, Matt - one of the owners told me they'd launched a website a couple of months ago; that it wasn't ranking in Google and if I could take a quick look (contra coffee).

Sensing a potential mutual win relationship (and also content for my blog) once back in the office the first thing I did was a test search in Google

Foodies Deli Cafe: burgers worth scrapping over

www.smh.com.au/entertainment/.../foodies-deli-cafe-20110401-1cnou.html
2 Apr 2011 – Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 0.5 a star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 1 star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 1.5 stars Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with ...

Foodies Deli Cafe

www.smh.com.au/entertainment/.../foodies-deli-cafe-20110401-1cnot.html
2 Apr 2011 – Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 0.5 a star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe ...

Foodies Deli, Cafe, Dolls Point Part I « Eat My Shots!

eatmyshots.com/?p=204 - Cached
4 Nov 2010 – Foodies Deli, Cafe, Dolls Point 

 

As Matt said the website http://www.foodiesdelicafe.com.au/ doesn't rank at all, so we take a look at source code.  If you right-click on your website from your browser there is usually a "source code" option - it's gobbly gook stuff Google sees.  Without going into finer details the website is not search engine optimised (SEO) and in its current form I doubt it will never rank in the top three search results.  Yes, the web developers didn't mention that!

As mentioned there are many elements which influence search engine ranking but the most important is the "Search Engine Term" your potential customers will use.

The Future of SearchSearch Engine Term and Inbound Links

The key point to note is that most people will NOT search for the name of the coffee shop, they will search for "coffee shop Dolls Point" or "coffee shop Sans Souci" or maybe "best coffee shop in St George area".  The most important element to SEO is the title of any external websites inbound link to your site.  

The higher the Pagerank of the external website "referring" the more influence that will have on your page ranking and your subsequent search results listing. For example, A Sydney Morning Herald food guide review will have a greater link importance than my website blog (except when it is published in my Istrategy blog post).

Example - The top three results "Best Coffee Shop Sydney City" includes one of my favourites Vivo Cafe - Vivo has a SEO website plus Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare accounts - all roads lead to a destination. 

Social Media is the New Search 

We are increasingly using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube etc and applications like Trip Advisor to ask friends or other web users for their feedback.  On top of the social media layer, services like Google+; Linkedin Q&A (think corporate Facebook) and the previously mentioned http://www.quora.com/ are facilitating question and answer and developing expert status.

Google is already indexing this high quality content (except where it has very recently been precluded - ie Twitter real time results and public Facebook Status) and you are beginning to see this data influence rankings. 

Social Media Pureplay

Another local coffee shop I must mention is social media marketing pure play Montgomery St Cafe, headed up by the highly talented Internet Chef and Electrolux brand ambassador Bridget Davis and Twitterati Iconic88.  They did an exceptional job at building awareness prior to opening through Facebook status updates, #mostreet and regular Youtube videos.  

Increasing Competition

Last week another new local coffee shop opened - "Kiss the Barista" at Georges River 16ft Sailing Club; and another around the corner couple of weeks. 

There are now three new coffee shops that have opened within a short (less than 500m) distance within the last 10 months making a total six.

As you can see even at the local coffee shop level it's a highly competitive online marketing but you know the most important thing?  The customer experience they then share.

How do you rank on Google and what are your customers saying about you on social media?

Media Convergence

A new potential client has just been referred by a trusted source.  They are a Chamber of Business organisation in a region heavily focused on tourism so I'm definitely interested.There's a fair bit of information below and I hopefully don't drown you in it. 

The Current Website

I've had a preliminary look at the site and yes, there are a number of ways to improve.

First, a couple of questions.

1. Is there a ball park budget in mind?  How much it will cost is a bit like an open string.  What I've done is give you some thoughts and costings below.

2. Is there an Economic Development Plan/ Marketing Plan/ Research which we can derive a more detailed, specific brief?

Do you know what is the profile of the most desired target customers - couples, families at XMAS time; all year round retirees?

Why here? Corporate escape? Holiday?  Weekend?  What are the USP's (Unique Selling Points)

Benefits? Which target group provides or contributes the most economic and social benefit/ spends the most money;

Who are the desired target market influencers, are they online and where are they? 


Engaging Maxys

From a maxys point of view we can either help as a digital media consultant/ project manager; new website development and/or ongoing website development.  

It basically comes down to size of the business, budget, resources and the nature of the relationship.

Digital Marketing Strategy

A website is just once piece of an overall marketing and media strategy - I'd argue in today's media world the most important element.

All media should include a tag for the website.

Maxys can help you develop a highly effective digital media strategy.

Some other marketing questions -

Why would people choose you?  Family friendly, not overly developed etc.

What is the competition?  Typical SWOT analysis.  

All these type of questions help define "the brief" - the content and structure of the website. 

Web Development

From a web development point of view

Here are a few pointers.

1. Yes, Search Engine Optiminisation (SEO) is very very important - this is where most new customers begin their search.

Looking at the existing website source code, the current site is not optimised for search engines at all.

Today most people begin their search on Google.  What that means is knowing the most important keywords being searched - for example - "holiday Byron Bay", "holiday Yamba", "accommodation north coast" etc and then rebuilding the website so that it incorporates SEO throughout the design and content.

There's then a whole lot of other technical things including ratio of keywords in content; keywords titles; links from high ranking sites etc that increase your search engine ranking but that all comes into design and development.

As an example -

Here is what we did for one of our business partners - RidgeFilms a Sydney corporate video production company by optimising their website (which we built).  

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=corporate+video+production+australia

http://www.ridgefilms.com.au

You know may on Google the top bar and the right column are paid listings BUT the most important (but difficult to achieve) is the FREE indexed content below the paid ads.  (Most people click on the indexed search results).

Ridge have been ranked #1 on indexed content on Google for their targeted keywords now for over five months.  
95% of new customers now come through Google.  They have implemented a customer centric/ testimonial driven approached.

Google is constantly reindexing so Ridge have an ongoing program to make sure they stay #1.  This involves the management of Ridge actively participating in online forums, press releases, updating news and event etc.  For their part the revenue generated far outweighs the cost and time.

Cost:  Initial SEO is included in new site design.  Ongoing depends on what skills and resources you have available - outsource or DIY.  

2. Website Development

From a technology point of view we develop all our websites now with the very popular Open Source Content Management System (CMS) called Joomla.  Basically Joomla is highly functional and gives you, the business owner the ability to easily update and manage your website content.  Please note, there is a requirement for ongoing investment, either time or money is maintaining the website - Google loves new content.  

Cost: Most of the Joomal code is FREE but some modules are commercial (average $50).  The real cost is in design and implementation. You can create a good basic website from $5-$10K depending on what functionality and features are required.  

3. Online Customer Engagement - When visitors get there.

Most website are pretty boring and ineffective so you need to cut through and grab attention.  Facts are people are busy and impatient - you basically have less than 15 seconds to grab attention before they'll flick to another site.  

CLIVE

To get attention I'm a big believer in using video to bring a website to life and our new CLIVE technology to increase online customer engagement  http://www.clivevideo.com.au

A CLIVEvideo overlay is $3,500 for a 30 sec clip production which would include script writing and talent.  Three is also a monthly streaming cost.  3,500 plays per month would be $35.

Have a look at our customer showcase

http://www.clivevideo.com/About-CLIVE/The-CLIVE-Project/clive-customer-showcase.html

Corporate Video

CLIVE is very good but we also recommend video to tell a story - a corporate video.

A corporate video for example the SSHED http://www.sshed.com.au or Sutherland Shire Council http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=v-yQXE73FpU production costs range from $7,500 to $20,000 for a 1-2 minute promotion video.

Note: The key issue with video will be what sort of bandwidth the majority of your potential customers will be on.  If your visitors are from the major population areas with good broadband then video works great.  The other important element with video is making sure it is FAST and served via a global video server - what that means is a dedicated video server close to the customer.  Youtube is a cost effective video server (FREE).

4. Social Bookmaking.

The only other thing I'd add is the need to create community (local business directory; local blogs etc) around the website and incorporate social bookmarking technologies (links to Facebook/ Twitter/ RSS feeds etc).  

What you may want is to have someone actively building your online brand - tracking what people are saying about you and your competitors on conversation platforms such as Twitter.  http://www.twitter.com

This is interesting...

Twitter search on "Yamba" http://search.twitter.com/search?q=yamba

Twitter search on "Byron Bay" http://search.twitter.com/search?q=byron+bay


Look forward to speaking with you soon.