How People Do and Don’t find Products

Purchase Channel InfographicIn a newly released study, need for speed: disrupting the omni-channel US Research company Parago have revealed telling insights into how US consumers are now doing their pre-purchase research.

Easily Digested

The infographic based report summary is well worth a look, both in terms of the data but also the way graphics have been used to illustrate what would otherwise be very dry material.
I bumped into this info via an article by Nathan Safran from Search Engine Land and both he and I were stunned by the results – that is where US consumers go to find the products they are going to buy.

How people Do and Don’t find Products

Notably, Social Media and Mobile Apps are consistently the least preferred channels consumers use when deciding on where to buy.

Consumer channel by product segment

In-store displays are preferred for Groceries, Home Improvement and Pet Supplies. Google Search is dominant across the remaining channels, which is consistent with website conversion data I get to see. 

The chicken or the egg?

Social Media is still relevant in terms of building a community of interested supporters, but considering that most products are purchased in a 1-2 day sales cycle there’s simply not enough lead time for a sensible product or supplier review via their social channels. Imagine how hard you would have to drive your SM channel to build trust with 2 day old friends…  I suspect many join your community AFTER they’ve purchased…

There’s an App for that… Sales?

Install an App to review a product or the seller before I buy? I dont think so.
Apps are good for ongoing engagement, so if your client base repurchases Apps should work well for you.

Show me the money!

My concern is the investment in resources &/or $$$ a small business has to commit to drive a Social media campaign for sales returns &/or build and promote an App to drive sales… It seems an indirect and expensive path to a potentially tenuous outcome.

Re-purpose WordPress posts into Social Media

‘Publicize’ is a component in the Jetpack ‘plugin’ for WordPress that re-publishes your blog posts into various Social Media channels including Google+, FaceBook, LinkedIn Twitter etc. It happens automatically and painlessly.  This is a great productivity tool for busy small business owners who want to stay on top of their social media & blogging commitments

I’ve been using Publicize in my site for a while, and it works quite reliably, so I thought it might be useful in your site too.

Jetpack Publicize Configuration

Installation

Installing the host plugin, Jetpack is relatively simple following these instructions
Once Jetpack is installed you’ll need to connect it with your wordpress.com ID
– Dont have one? Go here and make one.

Commissioning Publicize

From the dashboard go to Jetpack | Jetpack and click on the Publize Configure button
This displays all of the Social Media channels you can connect your blogs to, and connect buttons for each. Select your chosen channel click the Connect button and follow the bouncing ball to authorise your blog to connect to the service.
The authorisation process requires you be signed in simultaneously to your blog, have Jetpack connected via your WordPress ID and the individual social media services for configuration. It sounds over-whelming, but once you’re through it once its easy.
Then publicize pushes out the content automatically when you publish a new post.
If you run into issues let me know and Ill see what I can do to help.
For background and help on configuring your social media connections refer: http://jetpack.me/support/publicize/

Publicize Tips and Tricks

Publicize wont re-push a previously published post
I assume this is to stop you from spamming by preventing your from re-publishing the same post over and over to your social channels.

Universal fix
It seem the universal fix for a Publicize issue is to refresh the connection to the social channel

Connection timeouts
I notice that from time to time you’re asked to ‘refresh the connection’ to your Social Channels.
Another spam preventative strategy maybe ?

 

 

 

 

‘Purposeful Blogging’ whitepaper Updated

I’ve updated Purposeful Blogging, a productivity guide for bloggers to reflect changes in Google and WordPress.
Originally written in Jan 2011, Purposeful Blogging has been a popular free reference for DIY bloggers and SEOers.

For the skeptics here’s data for an Adelaide website where we added a WordPress blog to create supplemental content about a year ago.
The blog now direct contributes 33% of the site’s search traffic, taking it to over 320 visitors per day.
Given the industries’ AdWords paid advertising clicks cost around $3.21 each, that’s arguably an estimated $260 per day of value.

New blog life cycle

 

 

Is your SERP working for you? 2014 Edition.

Succinct Ideas SERPSometimes the simple things matter.
SEO has evolved into a sophisticated battle with Google and Online Competitors but its refreshing to see that some things remain the same.

A client was concerned about what appeared in their SERP (Search Engine Result Page result) and rightly so! In their case, it displayed misleading information that was more likely to confuse rather than lure prospective clients to click and visit their website.

Google had retrieved details from the page it selected for the search result, and did its best to assemble what it thought was a relevant description of that page as it related to the search. The end result was a misleading jumble of disconnected phrases and certainty not a relevant sales pitch, for example like ours illustrated above.

A SERP is your prospect’s first contact with your business when searching; it is effectively your online classified ad in Google. Quoting from my 2007 newsletter  Is your SERP working for You? The SERP is one of the most critical pieces of copy in online sales.

What can you do ?
You can influence Google to display a nicely composed SERP by astute use of the Title and Description metatags, however if Google decides it may use other information on the page to compose its SERP.

Succinct Ideas Long SERPThe Long SERP
Here’s something more about SERPs – If you use 5 or more elements in your search Google will display an extended SERP – it has a higher character count for both lines.

Site Links
Succinct Ideas Sitelinks SERPThe big Daddy of SERPs is displayed when Google decides that the search is closely related to your site. Google provides previews of your site’s important pages and throws in other info like your Google+ page. Google shows a popout infographic on the right hand side.

Notably Google doesn’t let you nominate what pages it selects to display, but it is possible to remove pages from your Site link display using WebMasters Tools.

Update April 3: This excellent article by Damain Thompson from HitTail provides suggestions on how to compose the Title and Description meta tags to attract attention, then persuade prospects to click through to your site

Don’t get punished by Google.

Google targets a guest blog network

In the latest stage of Google’s evolution into the ‘Internet Police’, Matt Cutts from Google’s Web Spam Team announced that they have targeted a large ‘Guest Blog Network’ for not playing to their rules.

So its official now, Guest Blogging is yet another high risk activity that you should avoid if you want your website to rank successfully in Google.  Ann Smarty, owner of the affected site has this to say about it. Undoubtedly this will have an impact on the commercial viability of this business, and I feel for her because her case seems genuine.

Beyond this though, what does that mean for business folks, who at least in part depend on their websites for sales leads ?
Here’s selection of things that Google now considers ‘naughty’ and may indiscriminately cripple your website’s ability to generate online sales leads if it finds them in your site:

Paid Ad Links
A ‘technically naive’ online advert, including unsolicited ones that you don’t even know about.
Be very careful with ads and anything that can be misconstrued as an ad eg advertorials etc
The acknowledgement of your support on the local kids club site might be killing your sales leads…

Poor quality back links
From backlinkers who either don’t care or don’t know or both.
Again these can be links that you didn’t initiate or condone.
Backlink quality is critical since Penguin 5, Oct 2013.

Over-optimization
Obsessively and unnaturally repeated keywords throughout the site known as ‘keyword stuffing’.

Internal errors
Google wants your site to give visitor’s a good experience.
Broken pages, links and images aren’t consistent with this.

Hidden links & text
You can’t hide stuff from Google to gain a benefit. Don’t even try.
In fact any ‘deceptive’ characteristics in your site wont bode well.

Website performance
Poorly coded sites, a slow web server, overweight images and more will impact user experience and so your ranking.
If your website is unreliable – it goes down, or fails regularly this will hurt you too.

Too much advertising
Too many ads displayed on your site, particularly at the top of the page (ie ‘above the fold’) will cost you more than you gain.

Copied and/or ‘Thin Content’
Text borrowed from other sites will just land you in hot water with Google, as will pages that don’t provide any real value for visitors.
Write your own, or invest in a good copywriter.
Your investment will pay for itself in online leads.

Hacked website
Yes – if your site is hacked and Google finds it they will put a scary notice in your site’s search result, and a scarier page if you try to visit that site.
Expect to drop in rankings or even disappear.
Oh, prospects aren’t going to risk visiting your site either anyway…

Poor mobile pages
Google will judge your site’s ability to provide a good experience to mobile users too.
This are a growing portion of searchers, and predicted to out-strip desktop searchers very soon.
Clearly Google wants to particularly look after mobile searchers – it’s a growth segment for them.

Guest Blogging
Don’t respond to emails asking to put guest blogs in your site.
Treat them like they came from Nigeria.

Are Google softening their approach to Small Business or just taking over?

Google’s Matt Cutts has indicated that an upcoming release of Panda (Google’s website ‘Quality Assessment’ sub system) “should have a direct impact on helping small businesses do better.”

Historically Panda has been heavily critised for giving an unfair advantage to larger sites – read larger businesses. Small sites (typically associated with smaller businesses) may have a greater risk of incurring Panda penalties and there have been some spectacular examples.
Saving Small Business presents a passionate argument on this matter.

As a small business owner myself, of course I’m happy to gain from arbitrary changes Google might make. But on reflection it does bring into question the dangerous amount of influence that Google now has over global online sales. An arbitrary change on which sites Google ranks at the top of searches can dramatically impact business globally. Even locally in little old Adelaide I am aware of several local businesses that have suffered devastating commercial impacts by Google’s algorithm changes.

So Google might be softening their approach to Small Business, but who gave them the authority to make that call on behalf of the global economy ?
It’s time that Google’s algorithms are independantly policed before this gets out of control…

 

Will ACCC stop false online reviews?

Several clients have expressed concern about the damage of negative reviews that they believe were ‘planted’ by unscrupulous competitors (even a bitter Ex in one case)  There just didn’t seem to be a way to persuade the ‘review platform’ to have these removed, but that is now being addressed by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

ACCC’s new section on Advertising and Promoting your Business places a level of accountability on the reviewing business and also the ‘review platform’ as outlined in this extract:

  • If your business or the ‘review platform’ are aware a review is fake then they are breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
  • Reviews may mislead consumers if they are presented as impartial, but were written by:
    • the reviewed business
    • a competitor
    • someone paid to write the review who has not used the product
    • someone who has used the product but written an inflated review to receive a financial or non-financial benefit.
  • The ACCC considers conduct such as the following to be misleading. You should not:
    • encourage family and friends to write reviews about your business without disclosing their personal connection with your business in that review
    • write reviews when you have not experienced the good or service reviewed or which do not reflect a genuinely held opinion
    • solicit others to write reviews about your business or a competitor’s business if they have not experienced the good or service.

Further, this article at www.melbournegastronome.com provides more specific details and recent background and is well worth a read. Many thanks to Nick Morris for bring this subject to my attention.

ACCC also provides these related references:

 

What legals do you need on your website?

Are you uncertain about what ‘legals’ you should provide in your website ?

  • Do you need Terms and Conditions ?
  • Should your website have a Privacy Statement?

A number of people have asked these questions, and although we are not able to provide legal advise, you may find this infographic from Legal123.com.au helpful:

++ Click Image to Enlarge ++
What Legals Do I Need for My Website
Source: What Legals Do I Need for My Website? from Legal123.com.au

If you are still uncertain about what legals you should have on your website, we recommend you speak to your lawyer or Legal 123 who specialise in this area. Once you do know, get back in touch with us because we can offer some great deals on Website Legals including Website Disclaimer, Privacy Statement and Terms and Conditions.

Don’t loose your Google Places account

Google Places Changes
Google Places is changing again, and it looks to be for the better. Places for Business has changed dramatically both on the front end (the public facing bit) and the backend (where you make edits to your business’ details).

Email Alerts
Importantly, Google Places are also cleaning up irreverent, redundant and spammy Google Places – about time!
They are sending emails out to any Google Places records they suspect fall into these categories, asking for action from the registered ‘owner’. Check your emails for the subject Important changes to your Google Places account and I suggest act promptly to avoid loosing that important Google Places registration. While you are there, update your business details to make sure the it reflects how you want your business to be seen online page.

Google Places

Do this by searching for your business name then click on the Places ICON

I’d also strongly recommend you don’t cross any of the Google Places Quality Guidelines because Google have definitely moved from the carrot to the stick approach in other areas, so I’m sure it would also apply here…

 

 

 

Agony free WordPress blogging using Word™

The agony of blogging
Not just currently, but frankly from the very dawn of SEO, blogs have been fabulous resources to attract search engines and then visitors, but when I mention the word ‘blogging’ to clients there’s the inevitable groan of anticipated agony.
Creating a blog article in WordOnce we get passed the normal objections including…

  • What can I possibly write about?
  • How frequently should I write a post?
  • etc

…then we bump into the crusty question of using online editors to create the precious posts. Yes even the WordPress editor is a little clunky, even strange, if you havent used online editors before.

Create and Publish from Word
Publish from Word rather than SavingI usually suggest creating the post in Word then copying and pasting the completed article into the WordPress editor to reduce agony, but it is also possible and even less agonising to create your blog posts in Microsoft Word then publish then directly into your WordPress blog.

You, like many people may not have noticed when creating a new document in Word the New Blog Post template icon, right next to the Blank Document icon.

Use this template to make writing posts a breeze; you get all the great capabilities Word offers to help you to productively create, format and spell your blog post.

Then there’s the moment of truth – how do I push or ‘publish’ my shiny new post into my blog? You will need to  ‘Register an Account’ which is simply entering your WordPress login details into Word as a once only activity. Got more than one blog ? No problem: ‘Register’ a second account then select this when publishing your posts.

Register WordPress in Word

Make sure you don’t remove /xmlrpc.php from the end of the Blog Post URL or it will all go pear shaped very quicky.

Check out this comprehensive article by Katherine Murray on Blogging with Word 2007 which explains how to deal with images, selecting categories etc  

Finally, don’t forget to have a look at our free Purposeful Blogging paper which will help you squeeze all of the SEO goodness you can from your blogging efforts. Yes it is from 2011, but curiously everything old is new again in SEO.