Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Finding your way through the Blogosphere

If you are barely familiar with the word ‘blog’ and feel like this RSS thing is over your head, but you’re thinking that this all sounds very cool, then you probably want a quick rundown of how the blogosphere works. This is a very basic overview for people extremely new to the area, don’t expect any blogging revelations here!

Browsing other People’s Blogs 

A lot of people now read blogs instead of newspapers. They offer a more realistic and wholistic view on current events because you get a thousand different perspectives – some from right within the action, and virtually no one relies on their blog for their income – so they feel no pressure to keep the advertisers happy. In recognition of this, many services have cropped up to show you the most talked about stories and allow you to search for topics that interest you.

Good Blog Search Engines/ Trackers to get you started

Evntually, you may find that your browser bookmarks are full of blogs you regularly enjoy visiting, and you waste a lot of time having to go to each site to see if the blog has been updated,

This is where Blog Aggregators/ Blog Readers Come In 

There are quite a lot of blog readers cropping up. A while ago we profiled netvibes, which is a blog reader intergrated into a bunch of other cool applications, other popular ones are:

 How Blog Readers work

Good Content is Your Best Advertisement

With all the buzz about search engine optimisation and directing traffic to your site, using the right key words and the best key word infilteration percentage, urls, link text etc etc, the major way to market your business on the web is all but buried in the heap.

The number one secret about search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) in itself, is worthless. So, your website is perched nicely at number one, you’re getting a hundred visitors a day, life is looking up. However, a close look at your web stats shows that out of the hundred hits you get, the average visit to your site lasts about 3 seconds and noone comes back.

A search engine expert can do everything in their power to trick Google into convincing web surfers that your website is where it’s at, but all they are doing is tricking an algorhythm, people are a lot more difficult.

So what can you do? 

The web is like the perfect marketplace, there are just so many options and no real barriers so you have to actually be what you want people to believe you are. You do this through content, because no matter how many thousands of people you manage to get to your site, not a single one will stick around unless they like what you have to say.

It may seem like a hassle to have to regularly take the time to maintain your website, that’s why you hired a web designer right? Well, not really. We’re here to help you present your business on the web, but you must do the presentation.

But what do I write about? 

  • Any updates about your product/service
  • Things that are happening in your industry
  • Satisfied customer profiles
  • Industry news – things you take for granted, but what may be novel for your visitors.
  • News from within your business (new employee, awards etc)

As with anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. The web is not a place for hardened structure either, have a few people writing updates to share the workload and bring in fresh perspectives. Not only will Google like you and therefore make your website easier to find, once found, your visitors will like you too.

 

People are Impatient and No-one Looks at Screens

I’ve just been over at webdesignfromscratch.com. The site is mainly targeted at web designers themselves, but I think a few pages at least are good value for anyone looking at getting a new website designed. Obviously a web designer is never going to expect you to be an expert in site creation, but it’s always good to have a healthy understanding of the rules behind one of your biggest marketing channels.

People are Impatient. 

Maybe I am repeating myself, but this is one of the most overlooked design rules in the history of the internet. People Are Impatient gives you a very good background as to why this is the case.

Noone Looks At The Screen. 

Even reading this article made my eyes start to hurt. There are so many reasons why people hate looking at screens, this is why computer geeks end up wearing glasses and why you should always have a site designed for your users not for your personal design preferences.

Writing Good Copy 

This is more important for the average person. Keeping your content fresh is one thing, creating content that your visitors will want to read is a tad more tricky. Here’s some more tips about writing for the web

 

How Websites are Developed

I am often amazed at how many people view their website as a necessary hassle. It appears that not a lot of thought is put into the process by businesses embarking on a new website, they seem to view their webiste as being outside their overall marketing strategy.

We are often struggle to get input from our customers, I think people still view websites as pretty graphics and splash pages not as extremely useful marketing tools. Many people are skeptical about the solid benefits of a web presence, and they have every right to be, given the history of the web is dotted with the splash paged, graphic laden, content poor sites described above. However, a website that is virtually your business represented on the web can offer incredible results.

Recently, we saw the results of a good collaborative relationship with a customer. We worked with the team at Southport Health Club to redesign their website. Their policy is to offer a free trial to all potential members and immediately, they were receiving about 5 enquiries a day from new customers – the numbers are incomparible to any other form of marketing they currently use.

The difference between their old website and the new one was the massive improvement in content and a site design that we were able to create to make the content really work.

Basically, like everything, if you’re going to do it, do it well. Don’t flick your web designers a 10 year old word document that we’re supposed to decipher and translate into a successful site, plan to spend some time, and bask in the glow of success.

Writing Content on your Website

One of the best ways to maintain search engine ranking and visitor interest is fresh, informative content that people will want to read. If you’re used to writing lengthy business documents or academic essays and are appointed in charge of website maintenance, then this is for you.

People who read on the web aren’t like people who read off the web. The same person changes their reading habits dramatically if they are confronted with the local newspaper, a good novel or a webpage… So the content you offer has to alter accordingly.

A few facts about reading on the web 

  • Reading off a screen is way harder on the eyes than reading off paper
  • People hate reading advertisments (or anything that looks like one, so hold off on the self-promotion)
  • Like things to be short and snappy – get to the point quickly, then leave it. This is not the place for waffle
  • Are extrememly goal focused – browsing the web is anything but what the name suggests, people read each page in order to get to the next point in reaching their goal

As a result, people don’t read your content word by word, they just scan it. This means you have to use text styles and formatting to help them along

Good Practise for web writing

  • Write content in small snippets
  • Seperate content using lots of informative headers
  • Use lists instead of paragraphs
  • Provide a lot of relevent links within or outside of your site
  • Make everything informative – headers, link text, article titles, don’t try to be tricky or clever, just say it how it is.
  • Good grammer and spelling are vital. Not for the same reasons they were at school, but because unless people can understand what they are reading they will not read it.

If this all sounds very fascinating and you want to find out more about how much the experts know about your web reading habits, read ‘Be succinct’, and ‘how users read the web‘, both by usability Guru, Jakob Nielson (in 1997!). Or (slightly) more recent ’10 tips on writing the living web’ by fellow usability experts at A List Apart.

Why Blog?

I don’t want to write another article about what a blog is, a quick search in Google will uncover a few thousand answers to that question. What I do think is important though, is to outline a few, solid, tangible benefits of starting an ongoing dialogue with your customers/friends/partners/interested parties.

1. Cheap, easy, effective marketing 

Even if you have a website, a blog is still a brilliant addition to your marketing strategy. Not only do search engines love blogs and reward bloggers extremely well (ie. Up your ranking), when you write regularly on a topic you know a lot about – your business, you stand to become a ‘thought leader’ in that area. A well done blog will get visitors from all over the show for all sorts of reasons and can successfully lead people from your blog and into your business.

2. Getting to know your customers 

Static About Us pages are so 3 years ago… Everyone clicks on the About Us page because they are interested in you and your business, what they like even more is being able to interact with you to find out what’s going on and possibly add their own comment. Write regularly in a blog and you’ll build a community around your business where communication flows two ways.

 3. Writing Down your ideas

Most people are full of half hashed ideas. Thinking about releasing a new product? Wondering about a new service? Get in the habit of putting down your ideas in a blog. You get a record of what you’re thinking, a place to develop your ideas and a community to offer feedback.

Unsure about writing a blog? Read this whitepaper with tips and advice from Business Logs