Tuesday, 10 December 2013

What To Ask An SEO Consultant Before Hiring Them

If you’ve decided to outsource your SEO to improve your company’s online presence then it’s vital you hire the right person. If you don’t take your time choosing them then you could well end up with someone who doesn’t have enough expertise or just isn’t right for your business. If this happens you are essentially throwing away the money you spend on them. 

On the other hand, if you get it right then a good SEO consultant can greatly enhance your visibility and increase your customer base. 

With that in mind, here are just some of the questions you could ask a potential consultant to find out whether or not they’re what you’re looking for:

How Long Have You Been In Business?: SEO started in a rudimentary form in the 1990s when it was more of a niche specialisation. Nowadays you are likely to be able to choose from hundreds of firms. To whittle them down, therefore, it’s a good idea to find one with a good few years of experience behind them.

How Would You Improve My Company’s Online Presence?: This is a vital question to ask and the way that the SEO consultant answers it should go some way to telling you whether they are worth hiring or not. When you ask this question, rather than going into an incomprehensible spiel about their own methods and how they work, they should pay attention to what makes your company unique. They should be asking you what you want to achieve and then discussing ways they might help you achieve this which are appropriate to your own business sector and customer base. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ with SEO, and a good consultant should know this.

What Previous Results Have You Had?: Any consultant you talk to should be more than happy to provide you with details of previous satisfied clients so you can contact them if you wish to ask about the service they received. Conversely, it can also be a good sign if they are willing to talk about projects that did not go so well, and what they learned from this.

What Guarantees Can You Give?: This is something of a trick question, but it’s worth asking if you’re unsure. Remember that there can be no guarantees with SEO, so anyone who claims that they can get your website No.1 Google rankings or something equally unrealistic is lying to you to get your money. What they should be doing is suggesting and implementing ways to help you get the best from the Internet and showing you how to proceed in the future. 

How Do You Charge?: You need to be sure about this before you sign up to anything. Some SEOs will charge a flat fee for their services and others will charge per hour or per individual project. As long as you have agreed in writing exactly what you are paying and compared this with what other SEOs are offering you should be ok. Never go into this kind of business relationship without signing a fixed contract or you may find yourself being charged extra for ‘additional’ services.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Your Web Marketing Blueprint – Ticking the Right Boxes

Get it right and web marketing can bring any business the kind of success no other marketing method in the world comes close to. Today’s daily web traffic on a global scale is largely impossible to measure accurately – suffice to say it is gigantic and continues to grow by the day. And when you consider that tens of millions of these web surfers are looking to spend some sum of cash on something somewhere, you begin to realise the potential the right marketing strategies can have for you and your business.

Of course, getting it right isn’t an easy business in the first place – quite to the contrary in fact. There’s a good reason why the biggest brands on Earth spend millions on their web marketing efforts every year – hitting the nail on the head making sure it stays hit is a rather deep and intricate task.

But it’s not impossible and nor does it have to be out of the reach for any business. The secret? Well, it’s all about acknowledging all of the boxes that need to be ticked in order for a campaign to stand any real chance of success – something of a blueprint to follow along the way.

So with getting this elusive ‘it’ right in mind, here’s a quick introduction to said blueprint and the boxes you’ll need to tick if you want your campaign to succeed:

A Solid Plan

Right off the bat, a marketing plan with no solid plan in place is like a journey with no destination or directions…you’ll never get there. With planning comes structure and measurable goals you can actually reach – it’s effectively like giving yourself the recipe for success you can then follow one step at a time. With no plan in place, you’re pretty much opting for pot-luck and chances are it will never roll your way.

Optimisation for Search Engines

It has never been more important to stand out at least modestly prominently with the major search engine. If you can’t be found on Google, Bing and others of a similar calibre, you will miss out on about 90% of the web traffic out there…which is a lot. So whether you take care of things yourself or outsource to a third-part, you need strong and ongoing optimisation efforts in place to prevent your site being passed-over altogether.

Rediscover Email

If you quit email marketing some time ago because it didn’t work for you, quite frankly this means it’s you that got it wrong. In the right hand and with enough effort, a targeted email marketing campaign can be hugely effective on both existing and new customers alike. It takes time and effort to get right, but nobody ever said marketing online was going to be an easy ride.

Analysis and Action

Again you can do this yourself or bring in the pros, but whichever approach you take, it remains 100% vital to your success. It is only by conducting or commissioning full web performance analysis that you are able to identify what is and isn’t working, in order to give you the building blocks for your marketing campaign.

Spread the Word

If you think what you have to say is worth sharing, then share it. If you wait for folk to come to your site to read the good words, you’re selling yourself immensely short. So, make the effort to use social media, forums, newsgroups, blogs and so on to get your message out into the open and hook their interest outside your home turf.


And finally, there is really nothing in the world worse than a social media page, blog, forum or discussion group of any kind that’s 100% devoid of contribution by those that are supposed to know the industry or niche best…as in YOU! It is unfair and unwise to expect healthy debate, discussion and sharing to be prompted if you yourself aren’t willing to get fully involved in it yourself and perhaps steer the conversation in your own favour. From responding to comments to kicking-off discussions and right through to supporting the messages your rivals put out, interaction means everything and one-way communication channels have no place in your strategy.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Why You Should Hire A Website Designer

Every company needs a well-designed website – both in terms of how it looks and how it functions. If you’re not somebody who possesses design or web development skills then trying to do it yourself can be a waste of valuable time. With something as important as this, it really is best left to the experts. Remember that your website is the base from which you will build your online reputation so it has to create a good impression.

You may have been told that designing and building a website these days is a simple affair with all the tools that are available to you. And yes, it’s true that with enough time pretty much anyone can put one together. But whether it will be any good is another matter. To create a really impressive website that will wow your customers and build sales takes skill and experience. If you try to do it yourself it can be difficult even trying to figure out where to begin. Even something as simple as creating a link will take time, and if something goes wrong with any part of the site you probably won’t know how to fix it.

Aside from the probability that your website will be a mess if you try to do it yourself, another reason for hiring a designer is that it gives you the ability to focus on running your business. You can be making contacts and working out other practical details, safe in the knowledge that a professional is building you a site that will promote your business in a positive way. Spending unnecessary time learning how to build a website yourself in order to cut costs takes your attention away from what you do best.

Web designers will know how to make your site beautiful and visually striking – but perhaps even more importantly they will know how to make if function quickly and efficiently. This is important because if clients don’t have a good experience of using your site they are unlikely to return any time soon. A good website is a speedy website, and a skilled web designer will be able to optimise aspects such as images and other graphics as well as using file compression and many other practices to ensure nothing is slowing things down unnecessarily.

Bear in mind also that not only does your website have to look good and work well, you also need to optimise its visibility on search engines or you won’t get the visitor numbers you need. Search engine optimisation, or SEO, can be a complicated business for the novice so an added bonus of hiring a good website designer is that they will be able to take care of this for you.

Lastly, consider that, far from depleting your resources, hiring a web designer is actually saving you money long-term. For one thing, they will be able to do the work quicker than you could, meaning your website is up and running and ready to make your money sooner. Also, as mentioned above, a well-functioning site means happier customers who are more likely to come back again and again and buy more products from you.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tips For Trade Show Success

Trade shows can be the perfect opportunity for your company to showcase its new products and make important business contacts. But they require careful strategic planning on your part, otherwise all the time and money you have invested into your booth will be wasted. If you’ve signed up for a big event, here are some things to remember that should ensure you make the best use of your time there:

The Right People: It’s very important that you find the perfect delegates to send to the trade show. If, for example, you’re looking to forge new partnerships or win new customers you should consider sending executives and key sales people. If you are targeting a niche market then you should send an employee who is an expert in this field. It also might be worth arranging for a team member to speak at the show in order to set your company up as an authority. If you do, then obviously you need to pick a member of the team with great public speaking skills.

Plan Meetings: Don’t just turn up at the show and expect to be overrun with new contacts. To help you hit the ground running you should have planned meetings well in advance with potential customers or business partners. In addition to individual meetings, a good idea for wider networking is to hold a cocktail reception or something similar in your hotel suite and give a brief presentation. Invite as many people as possible to this, and hold it early on during show so you can reap the benefits of those new contacts.

Marketing Is Key: If you’re not going to put as much effort into marketing your appearance at the show as you do into your strategy whilst you’re there, then you might as well forget it entirely. Prepare a press release about your presence and distribute it through all available channels – email mailing list, social media, industry portals and so on. This should highlight what you intend to be showcasing and where you can be found.

But in addition to pre-show publicity – and this is one thing that many companies forget – your marketing efforts should carry on after the show has finished. Have somebody there taking pictures or compiling video footage so you can post recap blogs or send out press releases after the event, reminding customers what you were showcasing and how successful it was.

Plan Your Booth Well: Pay attention to the design and placement of your booth. Ideally you want somewhere with a high level of footfall; but supposing you are not able to secure a great spot, you will still want it to stand out and draw people in. Make sure it’s large and eye-catching with some attractive visual displays. If you’re showcasing new products, they should be the focal point of your entire set-up and clearly and succinctly described. It’s a good idea to have some kind of interactive element to the product display so visitors can really come and engage with them. A few free giveaways never hurt as well, as they give a good impression and also serve as visual reminder of your company once the show is over.

Don’t Just Sell: This may seem strange given that the purpose of your presence at the trade show is probably to generate new business. But this is not the time to make a quick buck: visitors will quickly melt away if your delegates give the hard sell as soon as they get within a certain radius. The people you send should be your relationship builders – those who can network and secure good contacts to follow up on when they return to the office. Make sure you are listening to potential customers – asking about themselves, their business and their needs.

If you are not sure of all the marketing angles you should be promoting at your trade show or exhibition then search out an expert in exhibition marketing to assist you.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Growing Your Business

Have you invested a lot in getting your business off the ground but now feel as though it’s reached a plateau? 

Launching a business successfully is hard enough in this day and age but achieving growth once you’ve done this is something else altogether.

If you want to take your business to the next stage there are plenty of strategies you can use to achieve this. The ones you choose will depend upon what kind of company you are and exactly what kind of expansion you are going for. 

Here are some areas you might want to consider:

Form An Alliance: Setting up a partnership with a similar kind of business, or one that complements your own, can be a very effective method of expansion. To give an example on a small scale: if you’re running a wedding planning business why not form an alliance with a catering company? Yes, you may have to shell out some of your own money initially to make it happen, but in the long-term the synergies between your companies should increase your prospects immeasurably.

Expand Online: If you don’t already have an online presence, you’re automatically missing out on a huge opportunity for growth. You need a well-designed website with clear descriptions of your products and services. So many people these days would rather buy online but they will expect to be able to do so quickly and easily, so you should make sure that the check-out system you use is highly efficient. To ensure your website has good visibility, hire an online marketing expert to implement an SEO strategy and teach you about other effective strategies – such as email marketing – to make the most of your online presence.

Open Another Site: If you have one shop or office and it simply isn’t meeting your needs anymore, it may be time to expand elsewhere. This could be to extend to another area of the country, or simply to give you further space to take on new clients or stock more product lines. Yes, physical expansion is always a risk but at some point you will have to take a leap of this kind if you want to take your business to the next level. Just make sure you have a strong, experienced management team in place to run it, that you have created a solid business plan and that you have done your homework in terms of consumer and economic trends.

Diversification: If you have taken your existing product or service offering as far as it can go, it may be time to look at selling complementary products or services. As a growth strategy, this is a fairly safe bet as you are simply building on your existing success and client base. It allows you to have several streams of income to increase sales and profit margins, and well as potentially dealing with seasonal slumps.