06/08/07
Google Webmaster Guidelines

How well your website ranks in Google’s search engine depends on many different factors, such as:

  • How competitive is the term you are targeting
  • How old is your website
  • How many links do you have in comparison to your competitors
  • How large is your website
  • How well optimised is it
  • How well is it structured

The list can go on.

If you new to Search engine optimisation and a bit unsure how to go about getting your site listed in the search engine’s (Google inparticular) Google have provided basic guidelines to help you.

Of course, Google are not going to give too much away, all the guidelines do is tell you how Google want you to structure your site in a way that suits them, and in return, they say your website will at least be indexed in their search engine, and will rank. There are never any guarantee’s about the position your website ranks, but it will at least rank somewhere.

So, here are a few do’s and dont’s for you to consider when trying to get your website indexed and ranking in Google.

Design and Content

  • You should try to make every page reachable from at least one static text link
  • Include a Sitemap
  • Create useful unique content
  • Use keyphrases on your site that people are searching for relating to your products
  • Use text instead of images as spiders to not understand the text in images (I’m not actually convinced of this one as they also suggest to make use of ALT text in images which spiders DO understand as far as I’m aware)
  • Check for broken links
  • If you use dynamic URLS such as www.domain.com?1234 be aware that not all search engines spider these URLS
  • Try to not add more than 100 links to an individual page

Basic “Quality” Priniciples

  • Create a site for users not for search engines
  • Don’t trick the spiders by using unethical tactics
  • Don’t submit to link farms

Specific “Quality” guidelines

  • Don’t use hidden text
  • Don’t use cloaking or sneaky directs
  • Don’t spam pages with your keywords
  • Don’t create lots of websites with the same content
  • Don’t use pages to install viruses, trojans or other badware/spamware
  • If your site is an affiliate, ensure your content is unique and add’s value

So there we have it. This is how Google would like you to design and conduct your website. This of course it their guidelines, you website is your own and what you choose to do with it is your business, but if you want to give it a chance to rank in Google and not be pulled up for anything Google doesn’t like, then this is at least a good guideline to go by.

06/06/07
10 Years of Ad Spend

Revolution Magazine have this month published an article regarding how the digital sector has evolved over the last 10 years. It show’s that strategies that once worked, may not be relevant in today’s online Ad spend.

Here’s how things have panned out over the last 10 years:

banner.gifJanuary 1997 – Banner ad’s reign supreme
Banner ads were first created in 1994 by a firm called Modem Media for AT&T and Coors Brewing Company. By 1997, they were the principle online advertising medium.

January 1998 – Real Media and Double Click
Ad serving companies launch in the UK to help advertisers set up their online ad campaigns.

September 1998 – Google is founded
A small company called Google, co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin was recognised has having potential by Andy Bechtolsheim who writes out a cheque of £50,000 to help out the company which now has a turnover of around £5 billion a year.

October 1998 – BMG Campaigns receives 61,000 leads
BMG Interactive runs a banner ad campaign for a CD-Rom game You Dont Know Jack which has 41,000 downloads and 61,000 leads.

October 1998 – Lastminute.com is born
The travel and leisure services website becomes an icon of the dotcom boom. More than 7 million people subscribe to their newsletters and they become one of the first companies to harness the power of email marketing.

January 1999 – Big Spenders
Low interest rates help increase start-up capital to enable people to set up internet ventures. Entrepreneurs are able to sell their ideas to investors because of the novelty of utilising the web.

spender.jpgMarch 1999 – E-commerce boom
Domino’s Pizza trials an online service in Milton Keynes aimed at office workers.

FT.com relaunches its UK website and embarks on a £37 million international advertising campaign in the run-up to launch its US website.

January 2000 – Humbling times
Zealous venture capitalists trip over themselves to plough money into online investments only watch their ventures die a death only a short time later.

May 2000 – ValueClick is here
Some of the world’s biggest online ad sectors merge to show ad spend is hotting up. DoubleClick spots the potential in the market and invests £40m into US Group ValueClick to bring them into the UK.

May 2000 – Boo.com booed off the stage
Boo.com goes into receivership after burning through £60 million in just 6 months.

December 2000 – Banners go downhill
New-media agencies rush to find the next best thing as Banner ads are on the wain. Companies look to invest in pop-up boxes, microsites and viral messages via email.

January 2001 – Companies merge to survive
Real Media and 24/7 merge to stay afloat!

May 2002 – Online Banking takes off in the UK
Egg finds that 6.6 million people bank online and EMarketer reveals that 8.7 million people have bought products online.

March 2002 – Dell the Dominator
Dell is responsible for 4 of 10 widespread campaigns during March. Freeserve, eBay and Zurich bank are among the rest.

itvdigital.jpg

April 2002 – ITV Digital folds
ITV Digital, the pay-TV platform jointly owned by Carlton Communications are left owing £178 million to football clubs after collapse following a deal to broadcast football league games.

January 2003 – Broadband in UK homes
Oftel reveals that 14% of UK homes have broadband. The average customer spends 10 hours a week online.

February 2003 – Search Marketing is noticed
People grasp the understand of where search marketing fits into online marketing. People are more aware of their return on investment with Pay per click campaigns.
Yahoo! acquires Overture and Findwhat.com proposes a merger with Espotting.

April 2003 – Budgets on the increase
Internet advertising is one of only two sectors to see an increase in budget.

March 2003 – Big names are back
Big names in digital make a return. Procter & Gamble signs its first pan-European internet advertising deal to promote Pampers on MSN.

July 2004 – Online ad spend up 53%
Advertising Association predicts a rise of 4.8% year on year in advertising expenditure in the UK. The online sector is set to increase the most.

July 2004 – eBay Wins
eBay is the top-ranked brand in the UK, beating Google. Alex Burmaster tells Revolution

Everyone seems to be using eBay. It isn’t just the preserve of the young and web-literate; eBay is pretty much used by as many over 50′s as by those aged under 25. the site has a broad appeal, which is probably responsible for attracting large numbers of first time users.

Sept 2004 – First Viral online ad
Guiness claims the first viral online ad with it’s “Dancing man” campaign which found it’s way all over the world.

January 2005 – It’s the Digital Decade
Bill Gates dubs the next 10 years as the “Digital Decade” and foresees a home/work scenario by 2010.

You’ll have a wristwatch like Dick Tracy’s that will just give you ‘glanceable’ information. You’ll have your pocket-sized device, which will be the successor to the phone but far more capable

buzzword.gif
2006 – Integration is the Buzz word
Yahoo! say they are seeing big planning agencies and traditional media agencies pulling digital up into their everyday planning. They say a seat for digital has been long overdue at the top table.

March 2006 – Getting together
Cable, satelite and telco firms are clamouring to buy up more channels to offer services of TV, telephone and broadband in one. BskyB buys Easynet and Carphone Warehouse acquires AOL UK. NTL and Virgin complete their merger and soon after 3 and Yahoo! sign a global deal to provide rich-mobile services to 3 customers.

March 2006 – Rich-media ad campaigns proliferate
With banner ads now out of fashion, new types of media see the proliferation of podcasts, mobile media and online video.

May 2006 – Content is King
User generated content and social networking experience huge increases through portals such as YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, Piczo, Wikipedia and Flickr. Savvy brands set up their own profiles on social sites.

June 2006 – Taking digital seriously
MSN takes on Google’s dominance with ad-centre. Elsewhere Google announce three major online advertising deals with MySpace, MTV and eBay. Vodafone hires its first digital UK agency, Dare.

October 2006 – Online platforms populated
Ofcom says 17.7 million UK households have access to digital services at the end of June 2006.
The Mobile Data Association reveal that 40.7 million people used their mobiles to access the internet during Q3 2006.

December 2006 – A star is born
Online ad-sense overtakes print ads in national newspapers. Guy Phillipson, chief exec. of Internet Advertising Bureau said that online is now worth 10.5% off all ad spend in the UK.

March 2007 – Publishers invest milliions
Major publishers invest millions in online initiatives. Newspapers are falling over themselves to invest in online initiatives recognising the platform for growth.

05/31/07
UK Companies Ignor Emails

44% of major UK companies are losing revenue by ignoring their emails from their customers!

Research performed by eGain taken place between December 2006 and March 2007, queried 125 major UK companies across an array of industry sectors.

egain.gifAnalysts acted as potential customers and submitted forms and emails regarding the companies products or services to see what kind of response they would get. These companies were then evaluated on the speed and quality of response.

The survey revealed that a massive 38% of companies did not respond to emails and 6% did not even offer email contact on their websites!

The study also revealed that 67% of companies failed to respond within 24 hours and only 18% of companies sent an automatic acknowledgement as an initial response to customer’s emails.

Telecommunications services were the worst performers where 58% of emails sent were totally ignored, whilst the retail sector were the best performers who gave some kind of response to 70% of emails sent.

The survey has proved to be shocking! It really is an area that seems to be lacking and must be very frustrating for the consumer. How do companies expect to sell their products and services to potential customers if they let them down at the first hurdle? First contact is something that is stressed upon in most businesses, and for those who submit forms and send emails, how you respond as a company will determine whether the potential customer will purchase your product or take up your service.

This really is a lesson for us all and a reveals an area in customer service that businesses are lacking.