Most websites that employ search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques usually have the main content pages targeting primary keywords or keyphrases. It's widely accepted that niche or longtail keyphrases can generate excellent Google SERP results. The problem however, is that many of these longtail phrases simply don't lend themselves to having a complete web page devoted to them.
If you want to be found for niche keyphrases then creating blog posts using these phrases can produce surprising results. For example, I blogged about tobacco marketers being lying swines late July. This wasn't a targeted post by any means, but it was interesting to see that within a few days my blog post and blog homepage were #1 and #2 in Google search (with NZ pages ticked).
Not that I want to be found for the keyphrase "tobacco marketers", but it was an interesting exercise. If you apply the same techniques and logic to relevant longtail keyphrases you can generate a massive amount of quality Google result listings.
Does anyone ever experience these?
1) You're watching your favourite TV show, the ads come on, you rush off to make a sandwich.
2) You're driving down the motorway, a 3m x 6m billboard plastered with commercial messaging catches your eye and unwantedly distracts you.
3) You're settling down to the evening meal and the phone rings. The caller tries to sell you insurance (or a myriad of other unwanted products).
4) You open up your email in the morning and are inundated with promises of genitalia enlargement, Viagra, Eastern European women looking for husbands etc.
The list goes on and on...
All of these frequently occurring unsolicited events interrupt us. We never asked for them and don't really want to hear their 'pitch'. This is the old form of marketing and is commonly known as Interruption Marketing. Remember the famous quote from adman David Ogilvie, "50% of advertising doesn't work. I just don't know which 50%."
To be honest, I think he was overly generous rating the effectiveness of traditional advertising. Today it's more likely that 90% doesn't work (an unresearched statistic, but based on anecdotal evidence).
Today, more and more consumers switch off to traditional interruption advertising on television by flicking to alternate channels during ad breaks or by recording shows for later viewing (that's the beauty of digital DVD recorders and TIVO).
Results of research undertaken a few years ago in Britain showed that:
* Only 16% of people admitted to paying attention to commercial breaks i.e. 84% of consumers ignore ads
* 65% no longer trusted TV ads
* 33% said that all advertising irritates or annoys
The result is that advertisers (and their advertising agencies that exist on generous media commissions) may believe that they are reaching a certain amount of consumers based on station and viewer statistics, however effective reach can be substantially lower.
In addition, those consumers that tolerate ads and keep watching are so saturated with messages that they don't pay much attention to the actual advertising message. Survey research also suggests that consumers are generally skeptical about traditional advertising.
So how do we capture the attention (and wallets) of these saturated consumers?
Permission Marketing is a term coined and by Seth Godin, one of today's most respected 'thought leaders'. Permission Marketing is the opposite of traditional interruption marketing. Permission Marketing allows the marketer to build an ongoing relationship of trust and acceptance with their customers. In Seth Godin's words "...turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers."
In a world increasingly cluttered with unsolicited marketing messages, Permission Marketing is a way for marketers to successfully 'connect' with their customers (and prospects) and to build a relationship where the customer welcomes information from the marketer (and probably looks forward to receiving it).
An example of Permission Marketing is opt-in e-mail, where Internet users sign up in advance for information about certain product categories. Other effective Permission Marketing channels are blogs, where followers of bloggers choose to receive information of interest and relevance to them.
Search Engine Optimisation is another, not so obvious form of Permission Marketing. Rather than bombarding a target group of prospects with direct mail or traditional media advertising, Search Engine Optimisation enables prospects to find you at their leisure and convenience. If they like what they see they will hopefully engage in some form of dialogue with you, by email or telephone or they may even visit you.
Permission Marketing is not a 'quick fix' silver bullet, but rather a fundamental approach to the new age of marketing. It is effective because the prospect is more receptive to your message and is prepared to listen to what you have to say. It's centred around the fact that the prospect has given tacit permission to receive information from you.
Permission Marketing is a very powerful marketing concept, however it's not all that simple to implement effectively. As with any sophisticated marketing tool it would be wise to consult a professional who can advise on what's best for your organisation.
Puma Sportswear reportedly pays world champion sprinter Usain Bolt around US$1,5m each year in endorsement fees to wear their range of running shoes. The company claims that the resulting sales this year alone from his involvement is around US$358m. Now you don't have to be an accountant to figure out that this is seriously good value for marketing money.
On the negative side of sports endorsements, Tiger Woods' involvement with the Buick brand has not done any good for General Motors. In the eight years of the Tiger, Buick sales fell from 404,612 in the year 2000 to 137,197 last year, a decline of 66 percent. Who knows exactly how much they pay Tiger, but you've got to believe it's big bucks.
Click here for the full Usain Bolt story.
I quite often make mention in my blog of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it's also known. I wondered how many followers understand what SEO is, so I thought I'd post a brief explanation of the key elements.
The purpose of search engine optimisation is to develop certain elements of a web page in a structured way so that it will appear high up in Google searches (being the predominant search engine, we generally optimise web pages with Google's requirements in mind).
Keywords or keyphrases are the foundation of SEO. Keyword research is done to discover what words or phrases people use when they make a search in Google. There are various strategies to determine which keywords or keyphrases are the most popular or valuable relative to a specific subject.
The actual page URL name is a very important area where targeted keywords are presented. An example of an optimised URL for a website promoting holiday accommodation in Tauranga could be…
(this is a dummy link i.e. it won't connect to a website so don't click on it)
The use of the keywords 'holiday accommodation tauranga' tells Google exactly what the page is about.
Hidden in the source code of a website are a number of Meta tags that are amongst the most important elements in SEO.
Title tag – this is the phrase that appears in the top bar of your browser window. Including your keywords in the title tag is a critical element for Google success.
[Example] title = ‘Luxury Holiday Accommodation In Sunny Tauranga’
Keyword tag – your keywords are listed under this tag. It’s not an important element and Google pays little credence to it.
[Example] keywords = ‘holiday accommodation, luxury accommodation, tauranga’
Description tag – this is a paragraph about the web page that shows up in Google search results. It must contain your keywords and should always closely relate to the content within the page.
[Example] description = ‘Enjoy our luxury accommodation in sunny Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. You'll love our affordable seasonal rates.'
The placement of your targetted keywords within the actual page content is important. The general rule of thumb is to insert your exact keywords or keyphrases once or twice in the opening paragraph and again in the closing paragraph.
This refers to how many times your keyword appears relative to all other words on the page. Previously, a high density was desirable, but Google has reduced importance on keyword density in the quest for more visitor-friendly page content. You can imagine how irritating it would be to read the following paragraph on a website…
"Our holiday accommodation in Tauranga is one of the most scenic holiday accommodation facilities in Tauranga. If you visit Tauranga and are looking for good quality holiday accommodation in Tauranga you should call us for holiday accommodation rates. We promise you will be delighted with the holiday accommodation that we offer to Tauranga visitors."
Not pretty, is it? In fact, Google will probably penalise your site if you go overboard with keyword stuffing like in this example.
You can also create an invisible 'Alt' tag for an image on your page, helping you to increase keyword density without stuffing your page copy.
INBOUND LINK BUILDING
One of the primary factors Google uses to determine the importance or relevance of a web page is inbound links. In short, if another website creates a link from their site to yours, it is an inbound link. But not all inbound links are equal. The more highly regarded the site providing the link to you is in Google's eyes, the more valuable the inbound link to your site will be.
Don't be tempted into using the many link building offers touted on the net. These are usually link directories which are generally not well regarded by Google. In fact, you may even do your site more harm than good by subscribing to these services
Much of the information in this article will be well known by many readers, but I hope for those of you that are not that familiar with search engine optimisation, this basic explanation will give you the interest to do your own SEO research on the web. Everything you need to know is out there and it's free. It just takes some time and effort. Alternatively you can engage a professional company that specialises in SEO.
Check out this massive outdoor billboard alongside one of the busiest motorways in Johannesburg.
It's about the size of six standard billboards and consists of two separate panels to catch traffic from both directions. Interestingly, it's built onto the rear of a 4-storey building! I noticed another building under construction that also had two massive billboards as the back wall.
Looks like a smart way to pay the rent and outgoings! Pity it's such a blight on the landscape, but the resource consent requirements in South Africa seem to be non-existent.
I saw this really funky, well crafted wine bottle label the other day for Fat Bastard Chardonnay. When you compare it to the classic label on this very expensive bottle of French Chateau Angelus Semillon (~NZ$800) it certainly is a contrast. Actually so was the flavour!!
It illustrates just how graphic design is changing and that the old rules of branding are not sacrosanct. From a consumer perspective, the Fat Bastard Chardonnay would be the one most likely to be picked off the shelf. You would have to be a wine expert (wealthy one at that) to spot the Semillon for the outstanding wine that it is.
Just shows - you can never judge a book by it's cover, or is that a wine by it's label. Viva la difference!
One of the great things about search engine optimisation (SEO) is that no matter where in the world you operate, there are a set of constants at work that are unparalleled anywhere else in the discipline of marketing.
Google is the predominant search engine and looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future, despite early progress made by Microsoft's new Bing search engine. The ranking and search results algorithms that Google employs are identical worldwide, no matter where your site is indexed or where you make a search.
Granted, results are customised by region, but the mechanism and process of indexing and ranking sites is the same. The exciting aspect is that we now have access to the actual keywords or keyphrases that searchers have used in searches in any country.
This allows SEO practitioners to work with clients anywhere in the world, and to be just as effective as if we were working in our own backyard. It also allows us to share knowledge and understanding, enhancing the entire genre of search engine marketing.
If you own a website and are not actively implementing or considering implementing search engine optimisation, you are missing out on one of the most effective forms of lead generation.
Having watched a few days of TV here in South Africa, it made me realise just how boring and bad television advertising is in New Zealand.
I mean, just about every 2nd ad on NZ TV is a retail ad promoting some form of 40% or 50% sale. They are crass and lack any form of creativity, thought or brand building element. The cheapest offer is deemed the best.
In contrast, by far the majority of TV ads in South Africa are noticeably more sophisticated and drive a very strong brand value proposition or market positioning message. Very few retail sale ads at all.
The long term result of retail sale/discount based advertisng is that these brands become devoid of any value add and are simply judged on the day based on their current product price. On the other hand, brands that invest in developing a strong value proposition through their advertising campaigns will be far better positioned to command an ongoing price premium.
There's nothing wrong with the occasional, well-timed and promoted sale, but when you offer a new sale virtually everyday of the year like Briscoes, Rebel Sports, Big Save Furniture and several other major retailers do, you build a low-price market position from where there is no coming back.
How I sympathise for those advertising agencies that have (chosen) to churn out this crap week in week out.
Many advertising campaigns based on a message of fear are ineffective. My anecdotal observation of the road safety campaigns run in New Zealand is that TV viewers watch the ads a few times and then tend to switch channels when they repeat. These unpleasant images are intrusive and uncomfortable, so we just switch off mentally to them. This is part of our inbuilt coping mechanism.
Many road safety campaigns target youth drivers, yet we continue to see reports of road deaths of 15 and 16 years olds at an alarming rate. Statistics indicate that for all the good money spent on these campaigns, actual accident rates have not shown a relative improvement within the target market, certainly not the level of return you would expect from a commercial ad campaign.
For these campaigns to be effective they need to be far more interactive and engaging at an emotional level. Transit NZ could do a series of roadshows to schools, displaying actual crashed cars, blood stains and all. Perhaps we are just to PC for this level of 'hard hitting' campaign, but the reality of seeing it in the flesh would be far more emotionally engaging than seeing an accident simulation on TV. I have even seen a campaign overseas where crashed cars were parked at the side of the road at dangerous stretches, creating a hard-hitting static display.
One of the more successful campaigns has been the intersection series, where the wheel of life is spun by the creepy old guy. You're never too sure of the impending result, which I personally find quite compelling. They have supported this suspenseful TV campaign with static displays at many of the dangerous intersections across the country, which brings a certain realism to the message and really makes you think twice about the potential risks.
Interestingly, the horrific images on cigarette packs and stern warnings that they cause cancer and death don't seem to have had any meaningful reduction in cigarette smoking either. And now tobacco marketers use an even more effective promotional method by having actors smoking in movies. (The money previously earmarked for traditional advertising is now funneled to the movie studios). These popular role models that smoke on screen are a powerful and obviously highly effective form of emotional engagement.
For 'fear marketing' to be effective, advertising agencies developing these campaigns need to find ways to engage the target market much more effectively at an emotional level than they have done so far. I suspect that a cross-platform campaign that leverages traditional media combined with a strong social network and new media presence may be more effective. I hope someone can get it right soon.
With the exponential speed at which new online media options are developing, the advertising and marketing world are scrambling to get to grips with how best to use the exciting new social media and online networking tools.
If you follow marketing and social media marketing blogs you quickly realise that the new online networking services such as FaceBook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube etc can be valuable components of a marketing and media strategy.
Some interesting successes are appearing but right now it's still a bit of a journey of discovery for all of us. Compare this to traditional media - print, press, magazines, TV, radio etc where we have had decades to learn, understand and leverage these vehicles. There are traditional media experts everywhere.
The speed of the developing online new media space is staggering and is not likely to slow down. Unfortunately we simply don't have the luxury of time to get to grips with it. Those marketers that are the early pioneers and learn how to effectively harness new media vehicles for commercial ROI will be the winners.
If you're still hanging onto your traditional media arsenal and aren't actively researching, participating in and experimenting with these new vehicles, you're destined for extinction.