Starting From Scratch: How to Generate Traffic For a New Site

Starting a new site is equal parts exciting and dreadful. The latter is because making a site successful takes a lot of effort and you can’t always be sure it will get there.

After all, building an audience is not done overnight. At the same time, it’s also not rocket science but something that has been done countless times.

Read More: Starting From Scratch: How to Generate Traffic For a New WordPress Site

Search Engine Optimising Tips

A special guest post this time, from 2020Media customer John Allen.

This is his take on SEO, after a Business Gateway Scotland course and of course real experience.

Over to you John:
1. Review your online competitors and create your website/e-business plan
Who are your top-5 online competitors – using the techniques learned on the workshop what terms have they optimised their websites for?
How are they positioning their content and their overarching offers?

2. Do your search term research
Trying to identify what your potential customers may be searching for is an important early part in the process of deciding what web content to write and how to structure it.  There are quite a few tools out there but the ‘search term’ tool we discussed in the workshop was the Google Keyword Planner.  If you don’t already have a Google account then you’ll need to create one to get access – once signed up and logged in go to Keywords Planner .  Please be careful not to start a paid advertising (PPC- pay per click) campaign by accident !

Other free tools include things like Google Trends & Insights.  There are others like wordtracker.com that usually offer some form of free trial.  I use a few other tools but they aren’t free.

3. Start planning (or improving) your website content
Ultimately it is about writing unique, interesting and compelling content that people in your target market will want to read (and are searching for).  Yes, plan your content so it is SEO (search engine optimisation) friendly but as important is to make sure it reads well and is targeted for the human site visitor.

4. … Take on-site action and optimise your web presence
It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of info that you’ve absorbed in the workshops but, in my experience, there are usually a few simple fixes that can be made fairly quickly to existing websites.  Get those changes made and once you start seeing the improvements you’ll want to do some of the more advanced stuff.

Start by using some of the initial on-page techniques we covered – for example set appropriate title and description meta tags and make sure they fit closely with the visible content and headers (H1s etc) on each page.

Then think about things like xml sitemaps (make sure it is setup and working properly), Google webmaster accounts (there are versions for other search engines) and creating accounts to improve your effectiveness in ‘local search’ results, e.g. Google MyBusiness (maps etc), Bing maps etc.

And a special reminder to watch out for breaching the rules relating to the Google algorithm changes (as we discussed in a bit more detail at the workshop).  If something feels suspicious then it probably is (or it will be seen as suspicious by Google at some point in the future).

If you get through all this then ask for a more advanced course.

5. Prepare your overall digital marketing plan
There may be multiple streams in your digital marketing plan depending on your online objectives and aspirations.  Take stock and check that your plan is feasible/sensible and that you understand the resources (time and/or money) that you’re going to be putting into it.  It might be worthwhile seeking impartial advice to ensure you’re on the right lines.

6. Optimise by starting your link building campaign
Building ‘ethical’/‘quality’ links is still important so at least get your research started – as discussed it is all about building your internet footprint and done well will improve your search engine rankings and bring more ‘referrer traffic’ to your website.

**Quick Tip** – if you’d like to see who is linking to your competitors then you can get a partial (fairly sketchy to be honest) snapshot by going to Google and typing in “link:” (i.e. ‘link’ then a colon) followed by the web address of the competitor you’re trying to assess.  Bear in mind that Google only shows a selection of the links it knows about using this method.  When I have time in the workshops I also show how to monitor your own backlinks using google webmaster tools.
Note. There are various other tools out there but the ones I use are paid versions.

6a) Get your business listed on the online business directory of the relevant local council, professional body, association etc (and get a link to your website if they allow it)
As discussed in the workshop.

7. Optimise by being social and encouraging social signals
Decide which social media channels might be suitable for your business.  Then build your social media footprint and start encouraging social signals.

8. Email marketing
If you’ve found this email useful enough to get this far down… then remember that email marketing can also be a great source of web traffic both for new customer acquisition and for customer retention.

9. Monitor regularly, continue making improvements and be patient.
Most aspects of digital marketing (including SEO) take time and effort, so keep the faith and do keep going with it.

Update 2017

We’re recommending this great free resource – https://firstsiteguide.com/ – find in-depth online guides with downloadable PDF’s, video tutorials and other web development resources. There are also how to’s on creating great content.

SEO – is a SLA necessary?

If like us, you are bombarded every day with emails about search engine optimisation, perhaps you’ve been tempted to give them a try?

First Rank is a local Winnipeg based search engine marketing agency. If you’re interested I’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss a few options you could implement to help grow your business using online marketing.

The emails promise the earth, but how will you know if your money is being well spent?

We strongly believe that we have an excellent opportunity to increase the number of visitors to your website through our white-hat SEO services at a very affordable price. Email us back to get a full proposal.

One way to do this is to set out clear deliverables, just as you would expect when you contract with any other business service.

Is this your SEO provider?
Is this your SEO provider?

When defining the SEO services, great care should be taken to ensure that both the service provider and the client are fully aware of the services that are to be provided, and how they are to be provided. Both positive and negative obligations (e.g. the client may not wish the service provider to bid for certain keywords without authorisation) should be set out.

Services being provided should be explicit. There are a broad range of SEO services ranging from simple on-page optimisation to combinations of copywriting, PPC campaign management, social media management and more. It is therefore up to you to define the scope of the SEO services precisely and in depth in your agreement.

You may also have your reputation to consider – you don’t want your brand to be tarnished by so-called “black hat” SEO techniques. Provision should be made for the client to provide so-called “brand guidelines” in which they may specify how their business name, trade marks, image and other related aspects of their brand may be used by the service provider in the course of managing their SEO. Such guidelines may be particularly relevant when considering aspects of SEO such as PPC campaigns and social media management.

SEO typically has the aim of increasing traffic to the client’s website. Other targets can include higher social media engagement (eg more “Likes” on Facebook, more followers on Twitter). These are measurable things, so in an SEO service level agreement, these should be clearly set out. Never settle for a non-measurable result. It’s a clear sign of something shady going on.

Your SEO consultant hard at work?
Your SEO consultant hard at work?

Various options are available to deal with the eventuality of the service levels not being met, including the provision of cost-free services to make up for deficiencies and a right to immediately terminate the contract in the event of multiple failures. However, sometimes the cause of such failure can be attributed to the client (who may, for example, have failed to provide certain information or authorisation on time) and so the service provider is absolved of responsibility.

Key SLA schedules

  1.  The SEO Services
  2. The Service Levels
  3. The Deliverables
  4. The Fees
  5. The Client’s Brand Guidelines

Whilst the prospective provider of SEO services may well already have a contract, if you are intending to invest significant resources in SEO this should be read carefully. Vague promises in an email by a junior salesperson could be interpreted very differently in the actual terms and conditions of the provider.

Deliverables? How Long is a Piece of String?
Deliverables? How Long is a Piece of String?

We’ve found an excellent template SEO Service Level agreement from Simply Docs. This can be used as a standalone agreement with a SEO company, or provider a check-list to compare against their own terms and conditions and promises.

Their SEO SLA template can be found at  simply-docs.co.uk/Service-Level-Agreements/SEO-Service-Level-Agreement. We believe it costs £35+vat but this does give access to 580 other business documents.

Do you have any stories to share about SEO consultants? What has worked well for you?

2020Media does not offer Search Engine Optimisation and we’ve usually gone for in-house optimisation work for our own websites. We do provide a couple of great tools that help you with SEO – both if you do it yourself, or if you use a outside provider.

SEO Panel

SEO Panel is a open source tool provided by 2020Media to all it’s customers. The tool tracks the presence and position of websites in the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. We send monthly reports by email. Read More…

Piwik Analytics

Piwik analytics is not a widely known name, but they offer a private version of website visitor analytics in a very similar style to Google Analytics. They are easy to understand and give detailed figures for visitor numbers, page views etc. Custom variable can be setup for deliverable tracking.  Read more…
Good luck with your SEO!

Usergroup Roundup and news from EU

It’s been a busy week with a Joomla and WordPress usergroup sessions, as well as a meeting with Eurid, the registry for .eu domains.

Joomla Usergroup

Joomla Usergroup London logoThe regular monthly meetup of the London Joomla usergroup took place on Tuesday. Phil from SoftForge gave us some insights into the Akeeba Backup tool. Many people already use the extension to make backups of their site. What is not so well know is that the Pro version (a very reasonable $50 or so for unlimited sites) easily adds the ability to copy the backup to offsite storage. Currently DropBox and Amazon Storage are available. Phil also pointed out the security feature of Akeeba to setup a secret key as attackers could trigger your backup repeatedly and cause a Denial of Service (DOS) attack. This setting is in the top right Parameters button. Akeeba Backup is even being used to non-Joomla websites.

2020Media will setup Akeeba for any customer using our hosting competely free of charge. Just ask!

WordPress Usergroup

Two talks this week – WordPress SEO and a newbies guide to Custom Post Types. The evening began with a quick roundup of WordPress news (download the podcast).

  • WordPress 3.3 is almost out. New features include a drag and drop interface for adding images and other media.
  • Akismet, the anti comment spam service is continuing it’s march towards a paid model
  • There’s a plugin to check your website for vulnerability to the tomthumb problem.
  • WP Install Profiles is a Drupal-like idea for developers who want to pre-fill their installs with their favourite plugins and themes.

David Bain speaking at WordPress LondonDavid Bain, an internet marketing expert who uses WordPress in his work, talked about getting your WordPress website noticed in the search engines. David talked us through his 3 “P”s – Preparation, Publishing and Performance. Lots of great tips and well worth attending if you were able to get to London. His slides and our podcast will be available soon. Download the podcast

Keith Devon speaking at WordPress LondonKeith Devon gave us a great introduction to Custom Post Types, which was very useful for the new developer or designer. Simply put, setting up Custom Post types allows you to add a new section to the admin menu for a adding content to a specific type of page that you design. For example if you had staff profiles, you can create a page entry that has boxes for their name, position and job description, and then on the front end display this in a particular way. Download the podcast.

Eurid Meeting

Aliette Boshier from Eurid
Aliette Boshier

The team for the .eu registry were in London to convince the euro-sceptics in the UK that getting  a .eu domain is a good idea! Whilst the argument “show you are European” may not be terribly popular at the moment, the EU is still Britains largest overseas trading partner. If you run a business that trades with the European area, a .eu domain is a wise choice to link to your website.

The .eu domain is 5 years old this year and is now considered a well established and trustworthy domain extension. There are over 3 million .eu domains in use, and it’s the 5th most popular extension in the UK (behind .uk, .com, .net and .org).  .eu domains are now available from 2020Media with multi-year periods of 1 to 10 years, and were one of the first domain extensions  in the world to offer a registry-backed DNSSEC (secure DNS) support.

 

 

Privacy Matters

watcher of the watchers - Julian AssangeGoogle adverts and many others set cookies in your browser that allow them to track you across the web. Google (as an example), uses this information to display adverts that it thinks you are more likely to click on, based on the kind of sites you’ve visited in the past. Here’s how the world’s 3rd biggest search engine Yahoo! describe it:

“To make our ads more relevant and useful for you, we make educated guesses about your interests based on your activity on Yahoo!’s sites and services.”

Quite apart from the privacy concerns this raises, it can make SEO (search engine optimisation) of your website harder to do. If you are checking keywords in search engines, how do you know if you are seeing the same results as an ordinary user who’s never heard of you before?

Fortunately you can opt out of these networks (well most of them).

Because the default behaviour is opt-IN, these methods set a cookie that tells the advertiser to stop tracking. If you clear all your cookies, this preference it lost and you will have to revisit these pages again to opt-out again.

Location information is also commonly being captured by search engines so it’s important to clear this as well when you are doing research on your website’s search engine ranking. Google call it location-based customization.

2020Media can help

SEO Panel screenshot
SEO Panel

Use the links above to check your browser’s current settings – if you use more than one browser you will need to use each in turn.

2020Media are beta-testing a new free service to all customers – SEO Panel. This is a complete open source seo control panel for managing search engine optimization of your websites and works independently of your browser settings. If you’d like to be in the trial, let us know.

Communication preference settings on the 2020media portalCustomers can update their communication preferences with 2020Media by logging in to the customer portal, clicking My Profile and editing the Bulletins tab.

 

2020Media takes privacy matters extremely seriously. We have a privacy statement on our website. This describes the policy that is in place to protect your personal information.

When changes are requested to your services, website or email, expect us to be robust in challenging the person making the request to prove they are authorised to do so, especially when the change requested could affect the availability of that service. 2020Media prides itself on being “small enough to care, large enough to cope”; so our staff attempt to speak to each and every contact during the service. This helps improve security as well as emphasises that we are not just a faceless supplier – we’re trusted partners in your internet presence.