11/09/11
Google Vs Facebook – Clash of the Titans

I’m sure by now you have heard about Google+ and you may well have signed up to it. But it is hard enough trying to keep up with your ever increasing Social Media workload without adding another network into the mix.

Google Vs FacebookWhether or not you should jump in and embrace it is a matter of some debate. Although I have a google plus account I am not investing much time into it at this stage but am trying to keep abreast of the latest developments so that I am well enough informed to make a decision to invest more time in it when I feel the time is right. Let’s face it Google have had their fair share of failures and have touted a whole manner of services as being ‘the next great thing’ – Google Buzz or Google Wave anyone?

Google makes a living out of data but they must have looked at Facebook and been a little bit irritated that the likes of facebook gather a massive amount of marketable data without even trying. People volunteer information about their likes and dislikes, music, films, holidays etc without even being prompted so it is understandable that Google wanted ‘in on the act’.

But Facebook are in an incredibly strong position with 30 million users in the uk alone. One social network is more than enough and most of you reading this are probably using two already, Linkedin and Facebook. There is no way I have the time or the inclination to become embroiled in another so the only way I can envisage moving allegiance to Google is if my current network of friends move with me. I like to keep friends and business acquaintances fairly separate as the tone of my communication with both groups is different. But of course nothing is that cut and dried and there is a definite overlap with some friends being business associates and many business associates becoming friends over time. The way we could look at this is like a venn diagram. Now if only Linkedin and Facebook could be merged together – cue Google+ circles!Google Circles Explanation

Of course you can arrange your friends into groups on Facebook although in my opinion the way that operates is a damn site more clunky than Facebook. Google are trying to combine the best elements of Facebook with the best elements of Twitter to expand your network beyond people people that you physically know as you can on Twitter so you can follow the status updates of people in your industry for instance – cue Facebook subscriptions!

Google have got it all to do and Facebook can ride on the back of their work. When Microsoft rolled out Microsoft Bing, Google were just rubbing their hands. Bing knew they couldn’t compete in the short term on the quality of their search so what they concentrated on were all ‘the bells and whistles’ that would give their customers a better experience. So Google just sat back and integrated any of the nice knew bits from bing that they felt appropriate into their own product.

Facebook are now able to do the same. Their customer base is fairly safe as long as they keep moving so they can now just sit back and cherry pick the Google innovations that they like and integrate them into their own platform.

But you can rest assured that Google will be making Google+ a priority so it isn’t going to fall by the wayside in the near future. They have to make it a priority, with Facebook search being powered by Bing and Facebook being the starter page for so many online sessions (48% of 18 – 34 year olds check facebook as soon as they wake up) Google stand to lose a substantial market share despite the low quality of Bing search results – convenience is everything!

The final problem that Google face in this battle is the fact that Google plus already has and will continue to have SEO benefits. Well surely that is a reason to sign up to Google+ I hear you say. Well on the one hand it is but the biggest problem they face is that it is open to abuse. Within the first few weeks millions of false profiles were set up. They are trying to address this but ultimately a Social Network has to be about real people!

One thing is for sure though. These battles can only be good for us. Facebook can no longer be complacent, they need to listen to what people want and keep innovating. I don’t keep the comments open on this blog at the moment but why not join the conversation on our on our facebook page.

10/28/11
The Importance of Setting a Preferred Domain for SEO

Firstly if you are not using Google Webmaster Tools to help you manage and maintain your site then you need to get it set up straight away. When I sat down to write this I thought about the title and the only thing I could come up with was ‘url canonicalization’, but this is just jargon and means nothing to the layman.

The Problem

In short depending on how your server and site are set up you may find that you have multiple versions of your site indexed by the search engines the www version and the non www version. If you can put http://yoursite.com into a browser and http://www.yoursite.com into a browser then you have a problem. For the more geeky readers you you can read Matt Cutts explanation but basically the search engines will see duplicate content and this will affect your rankings and any work you do to try and get your site to rank higher will be diluted and can split the link juice between pages. Damn there goes some more jargon but rather than reinvent the wheel here here is a brilliant explanation of link juice.

The Solution

Log into Google Webmaster Tools click on Site configuration and then click on Settingswebmaster tools preferred domain and where it says Preferred domains set to either display urls as www.yoursite.com or just yoursite.com. I always go with www but the important thing is not which one you choose but that you choose one. As you can see a very simple step but the benefits can be very far reaching although it will take time for these chamges to perculate.

Lets not forget although we have done it in Google Webmaster Tools there are other search engines out there, and therefore you should also set up a redirect. You can do this by putting the following 301 redirects into your .htaccess file (replacing landingnet.co.uk with your own site name).

www version

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.landingnet\.co.uk$
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.landingnet.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

non www version

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^landingnet\.co.uk$
RewriteRule (.*) http://landingnet.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]

If you feel confident enough to do this yourself then ‘bobs yer uncle’ and the net result is to redirect your whole site to your preferred domain (type http://landingnet.co.uk into a browser you will see it redirects to the www version).

If you would like help with any of the above then you can call us on 0843 289 0120 or email us

04/26/11
The Importance of Website Analytics

It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t track the visitors to their site or if they do have access to their website analytics they don’t take advantage of them and just look at the top level number of visitors and fail to analyse the data to help improve their website conversions and boost profits.

A website should be seen as a ‘living thing’ which through a process of fine tuning constantly evolves. It is very easy to become focussed on the bottom lineanalytics manand see an increase in the number of visitors as a success. Obviously an increase in traffic is a good starting point but it is the constant evaluation of your traffic and fine tuning of your website that will bring long term commercial profitability.

There are many different tools for measuring and analyzing website traffic and although we are familiar with most of them here at Landingnet the default that we recommend to all new clients is Google Analytics. This is not meant to be an analytics tutorial but just an overview of the data available within Google Analytics and the way it can be used to help improve your website and your business. If you would like us to setup you website analytics then please get in touch.

There are 4 main sections within the analytics interface which I shall discuss in a bit more detail:

  • Visitors
  • Traffic Sources
  • Content
  • Goals

Visitors

This section allows you to analyze your visitors and see where in the world they are, the type of equipment they used to view your website, whether they are a new or return visitor and the ‘bounce rate’ which measures the percentage of people that enter the site and leave without viewing other pages.

It is exceptionaly important to keep an eye on what technology your viewers use to access your website. the type of browser and screen resolutions of your visitors should always be taken into account and your website should be tweaked as trends change to give people the optimum web experience for their setup. It is not so long ago that the majority of visitors were using screen resolutions as low as 800 X 600. But a quick look at our stats show that this now accounts for less than 0.5% of our visitors with more than 20% of all visitors viewing our site at a resolution of 1280 X 800 thus necessitating new layouts every so often to take advantage of the extra space available.

A few years ago internet explorer accounted for about 90% of all users this has changed enormously in recent years with firefox and chrome both grabbing more market share at the expense of i.e.

Google analytics browser statistics

This information is important as different browsers handle html differently. Any web design company ‘worth its salt’ should design for cross browser compatibility but new browsers are constantly entering the market and of course lets not forget the advent of smartphones. So if, for instance, your site was designed a few years ago it may not look good in Chrome or may not even work properly or in the case of one site I was asked to review recently, may not display at all!

I will cover the other main areas within Google analytics in part 2 but in the meantime if you aren’t using any form of visitor tracking on your site or you need help to get the most out of your analytics then feel free to contact us and we can get you up and running.