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Posts Categorized / Do It Yourself

  • Nov 16 / 2014
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keywords
Do It Yourself, Internet Marketing, SEO

The Basics of Keyword Research

Just about every week someone asks me a question about basic keyword research. With the advent of Hummingbird and semantic search, people were too quick to announce the death of keywords. But their significance has changed.  And of course, Google is encrypting more search data than ever before making it harder to find out what your customers are searching for. The best way of thinking about keywords now is as building blocks. Semantic search has put the focus squarely on visitor intent.  Context is everything.  So keywords in isolation don’t mean very much. But keyword research has to start somewhere.

Think like Your Customers

Before investigating keywords you must have sight of the fact you are trying to uncover what searchers type in Google’s search box.  For the most part these are long strings of words and typically these don’t appear in keyword tools replicated in full.  Generally speaking the shorter the phrase the harder it is to rank and the less useful the keyword. This is because it’s also more difficult to discern searcher intent so shorter phrases tend to convert less well.  A precise phrase, often with three words or more implies the searcher has purpose.

keyword research

So, not all keywords are created equal. Your target is to find the right keywords to bring the right visitors. Searchers don’t search in a linear fashion and they mostly complete online and offline research before they make a purchase. The more expensive a product or service, the more research is required. For example, a searcher may research prices, product reviews, product features and suppliers. It’s no good thinking in terms of only “money” keywords. A site should have content which appeals to searchers at each stage of their search (and buying) process.

Long Tail Keywords

This brings us to long tail keywords or phrases which make up the bulk of searches on the web.  These are the search strings that are more likely to convert but the variety of these searches is immense and hard to predict. If someone types “laptop” into Google it’s unlikely they plan to buy today. This is a head term that gets lots of searches but isn’t useful for monitising. But if someone types in “best price on XYZ model” the suggestion is they are closer to actually buying.

Ultimately your goal is to create clusters of long tail keywords for each section of your website including plenty of variety such as synonyms.  The rest of your content then becomes the context.

Read my blog about concentrating on topics not keywords https://carrieannsudlow.co.uk/2013/12/why-we-should-focus-on-topics-and-not-keywords/

Keyword Research – How to Get Started

Keyword tools, remain helpful, but will only take you about half way where you need to be.  They will however help you to get started. Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner Tool is freely available to Adwords account holders.  One thing to keep in mind is that the same information is available to all Adwords Advertisers. So inherently there is no competitive advantage in generating keyword ideas using the tool. It’s what you do with the keyword data that’s that counts.

You’ll find the Keyword Planning Tool inside your Adwords account. Treat the traffic estimations with caution, just as you would for any other source. Focus on relativities.

adwords keyword planner tool

You must supply details of your product or service, landing page and product category. Use filters to get more precise keywords and phrases. For example, local search is important for many service based businesses.

From there, further ideas for long tail keywords can be found using Google Instant and the related searches feature. Both are under-utilised but very useful. The more sources the better. Established businesses can utilise their own customer research.

Building on Basic Research

I encourage clients to develop keyword plans using lots of variation. When the time comes to create content it’s essential to write naturally. Using marketing psychology will take your research to the next level. This is difficult to do without having some understanding of your customers or if you are a new business, your competitors’ customers. Ultimately, keywords and phrases should be tailored for the persona of your own customers. That way, you can create meaningful, semantic-led content.

  • Jun 15 / 2014
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Google Shopping
Do It Yourself

Linking Your Google+ page with a Business Google Maps Local Listing

It has to be said, that too many Google + pages are somewhat random in flavour, indicating to me small businesses are often just using their Google + presence for SEO value or have walked way.  It’s also the case that Google + automatically creates a Google + listing for any bricks and mortar business. The following, then, needs careful consideration if you have a Google + page that is not in the Local Business category. I myself fell victim to a little confusion when i discovered i had two Google+ pages on the go.

Basically, at long last, Google has created (a somewhat convoluted) way of linking this type of Google+ page with a business’s Google Maps local listing. This has to be a good thing, yes?  Basically you will be converting a brand type page to a local page. This means you will have a better chance of your page appearing in local search results.

It is a good idea in principle but I advise exercising caution. You will find information from your maps listing will transfer over into Google +.  This will include your reviews and business hours and more.  If this information supports your Google + presence then it’s worth linking the two of course and benefiting from extra traffic (hopefully). However if your Maps information is out of date or reviews are misleading you may want to make changes or wait until your reviews have improved.

Google has of course set up a page giving very detailed instructions on how to make the changes. Note when the link is created it may remove ad campaigns associated with the old Google + page. You will also find that the old page will still display in Google +. However it will retain posts, followers and managers (which also transfer to the new page). The change is a one-time deal and is not reversible, so if in doubt don’t rush to make the change.

Log in to Google+,

  • Select Pages from the right-hand navigation ribbon, and click Manage This Page on the local page.
  • Go to the top left hand corner and choose Settings on the Dashboard.

google plus profile

 

  • Scroll to the profile section
  • Go to “This Page is Connected to Google Maps”
  • Click, “Connect a Different Page”

google plus maps

  • Find the “Link a Different Page from this Location” dialogue and pick the page you would like to connect to Maps
  • Click Next
  • You’ll see the Google + page you are disconnecting from Maps and a description of the changes to the newly created page.
  • Click Confirm

Developments like this are good opportunity to review old information – in this case your Google Maps local listing and your Google + activity. You are not restricted to one Google + page as the new development above shows, but if you decide to add more pages there should be distinctive logic to them. You could, for example, have Google + pages for events.

  • Oct 29 / 2013
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Carrie-ann Sudlow
Do It Yourself

Encouraging Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Regardless of whether you’re differently-abled or not, there is a certain freedom that comes from working from home.

Of course, like me, you may have to attend client meetings, but the point is you are very much your own women or man.  This freedom doesn’t always make you rich, but it can make you very happy.

There’s nothing quite like running your own business. It’s your talent that counts and nothing else. All entrepreneurs need persistence and drive. Running a business becomes addictive and takes you out of yourself.  You become less pre-occupied with your own problems – whether they are physical or financial, and more focused on the outside world.

To anyone out there reading this who has concerns they can’t run a home business because of their circumstances I say this: Create a business around your circumstances. I did and I haven’t looked back. That’s not to say becoming an entrepreneur is hassle-free. It isn’t. But if you can find something you love doing, it will get you a large part of the way there. And if you’re competent and professional the last thing clients will notice is your disability.

work from home

For those of you with the inclination and aptitude for business, you’ll find working from home as an entrepreneur is emotionally very rewarding. That’s good for both body and soul.  I love what I do and really enjoy seeing clients and their businesses grow. My business is a big part of my life. Believe it or not it helps my pain management.  That’s because business keeps your mind strong and focussed and in my case helps me block out high levels of pain.

How?  Well if you concentrate on building a business around what you can do and excel at, you’ll get massive levels of satisfaction that keep you motivated on bad days. Anyone running a business simply can’t afford to be focusing inwards. In my experience, involving consultancy type assignments keep my mind occupied, and this means I stress less about health issues.

Entrepreneurs face obstacles whether able bodied or not and all at some point will suffer a crisis of confidence. But if you stick with what you are good at, your confidence will eventually increase as a result of doing a good job. And the obstacles?  Whether its money, mobility, pain, or something else, becoming a successful entrepreneur has always meant finding a way round problems. There’s no difference there.

Working from home does bring freedom. I can testify to that.  But it also brings commitments and obligations. And it’s certainly not right for everyone whether differently-abled or not. You need grit and determination to propel yourself through the bad times. However the rewards are immeasurable.

In my case, I have now got to a point where clients never mention my disability. Politeness? I thought so, until one Finance Director said to me, “Dear you know so much that you appear very tall”.

I firmly believe too many people write-off the idea of starting a business before they have properly explored it. Being differently-abled shouldn’t hold you back.  Believe your capabilities outweigh your incapacities.

  • Sep 18 / 2013
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Design your own logo
Do It Yourself

Designing Your Own Logo Tips

It’s probably true to say that a business’s logo is one element of marketing everyone has an opinion on. For some it’s a waste of time. Others will be involved in protracted logo development projects. If you are starting a new business there are more important things to worry about than your logo, although for some it may not seem like that.

Here are some tips to help you create a logo that supports your business objectives.

    1. Don’t let logo creation hold you back. For most businesses there are numerous logos that will work for a business. You just have to choose one you’re comfortable with. Your logo can be tweaked further down the line.
    2. A logo needs to be able to work across different media. Therefore making a logo as simple as possible is probably one of the most effective things you can do.
    3. It helps to have some design input rather go the DIY route. Designers think differently from the rest of us.
    4. Your logo should say something about your business. Here a designer’s input is helpful because they can tease things out of you that you’d find hard to put down on paper.
    5. Look at competitors for inspiration if you’re stuck. You’ll get a feel for what works in your sector.
    6. That said, your logo should be distinctive, not to be confused with other companies branding.
    7. It’s often said a good logo is memorable. That’s true. But it has to be memorable for the right reasons.
    8. Don’t make the mistake of trying to ape big brands. They pay agencies 6 or 7 digit figures to come up with these logos. You’ll are almost certainly be on very limited means.
    9. Some colours are more common in some sectors than in others. This is again where competitive research is helpful. You can move away from the norm if it’s related to your business’s approach.
    10. Try to get customer feedback on early logo designs before you have spent too much time and money on your logo project.
    11. Personal opinion will always be a factor in logo selection but don’t let it override what your customers or prospects  say.
  • Feb 05 / 2013
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Do It Yourself

How to Network at Business Networking Events

If you are running a new start-up it’s important to make business connections. But networking can leave you exhausted. Business NetworkingWhen I first started working as a marketing consultant I went to many B2B events and morning breakfasts. My time was spent talking to only a handful of people and conversation was never kept on topic. Network like this and you’re left with poor leads.  The turning point came when I was lucky enough to have some face to face time with a former apprentice contestant. She advised me to change tactics. She told me to go to networking events with one goal, to collect as many business cards as I could. Then in the comfort of my own home I personally emailed all the contacts I had from the business cards. I was then able to determine which would be the most worthwhile pursuing.

I have not attended any networking events for many years. But if you are just starting out here are some tips to help you make the most of your networking opportunities.

Your main goal should always be to collect information about other people. That usually means collecting business cards. But networking isn’t a one- way street, so be prepared to add value in your conversations with others. Of course you’ll have your personal introduction off-pat, but look for opportunities to be helpful. Don’t be too stiff when you introduce yourself.

Any event has at least three key people: the organiser/host, the speaker and the person doing the registrations. The person handling registration is often over-looked, but chatting to them is a good opportunity to find out more about the organisation, and having signed people in, can point individuals out to you.

Introductions are important. Some people will advise to have a self-commercial in mind, but this isn’t the time to sell. Rather, get your pitch across succinctly, but focus on making conversation. Ask the people you meet about what they are up to and what their background is. Don’t feel you can never go off topic. But digress in a measured way. Above all else, listen well.

People who are new to business often focus on giving out as many business cards as possible. The truth is the cards you give out aren’t as important as the cards you collect. One tip I picked up early on was to make notes on the backs of cards as you receive them. That way you are less likely to run into problems putting a face to a name. If you promise to send someone anything of value, do it.

When you leave the event make sure you say goodbye to the key players. Thank the speaker if there is one and the host and the person on registration. To maximise the investment you have made in terms of your time, make sure you follow up your contacts with an email. Just as I did, you’ll quickly suss out the most promising.

But before I finish I just want to mention one more opportunity.

Networking on Social Media

Social media gives people the opportunity to network. It’s less time consuming than conventional networking, but needs a lighter touch. Create opportunities to meet some of your network face to face when the opportunity arises. If you seek opportunities where you can add value or build rapport you won’t go far wrong.

  • Nov 22 / 2012
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Do It Yourself

Time Management Tips for the Self-Employed

One of the struggles of being self-employed – particularly if you work from home – is to manage your time effectively.  Once the structure of a 9 to 5 routine is gone it can be the devil’s own job to be as productive as you feel you should be.

Who’s not heard of someone working 5 am until 11pm? Some of us thrive under pressure. Time Management Tips for the Self EmployedBut surely most of us want to work effectively, leaving more time for family and friends? So here are my best time management tips for the self-employed.  In a sense I am saying take back what’s yours: Your time.

 Create a Routine

Creating a routine that works for you is one of the secrets behind self-employed people who seem to get a lot done! Structure your day to suit your circumstances and to take account of when you’re most productive.    A 9 to 5 routine may not suit you. If you do all your best thinking in the small hours (and some do), then factor that in to your routine.

Creating a routine is even more successful when you learn to prioritise. It’s not just a question of putting the most important tasks at the top of your list but also scheduling them for the time of day when you’re at your most productive. For example, if you’re a morning person, that would be the best time to get those big jobs done or the things you find difficult.

Use Tools and Resources If Helpful

Tools exist to make life easier and there are certainly services you can use to help make the best use of your time.  Large chunks of your time may be devoted to bookkeeping or appointment making or fielding calls.  To make bookkeeping easier, think of buying in specialist accounting software or outsourcing the task.

When it comes to making appointments or handling inbound calls think about using a virtual PA service.  Delegating or outsourcing can be very liberating! But don’t be a slave to systems and software if it’s not you. The same goes for Internet Marketing, you can’t always do everything yourself! outsourcing your website marketing is a wise move.

Create a Sense of Achievement

We’ve all had days when we feel as if we’ve not achieved anything or at least not accomplished what we set out to.  Here’s what I do to avoid this. I write list of 5 important daily things to do. These can include non-work related tasks such as paying a household bill. If you always complete your daily 5 important things, this will give you some sense of achievement. It’s the best way  I know of avoiding feelings of under- accomplishment and keeps you focused.

  • Aug 10 / 2012
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Do It Yourself

Choosing the Right Keywords for SEO

You may already know what keywords are but do you know how to choose the best keywords for your site and your SEO campaign? The dilemma for webmasters is that keywords with the highest search volume usually have much lower conversions or conversions of lower quality.

One useful way to think about keywords is to break them down into different categories. The most general keywords are usually called ‘umbrella’ keywords and the most specific are called ‘long tail’. Long tail keywords have the least search volume because they are longer phrases. But because they are more specific they convert well. In between these two you have branded keywords. They have a middling search volume but don’t convert as well as long tail keywords.

Each type of keyword can be further subdivided into commercial and informational.

Keyword Category
Gas Cookers Commercial Umbrella
Gas Cooker Problems Informational Umbrella
Smeg Gas Cookers Commercial Branded
Smeg Gas Cooker Comparisons Informational Branded
6 Ring Smeg Gas Cooker Commercial Long Tail
Should I buy a Smeg Gas Cooker? Informational Long Tail

 

The thinking behind the classification is that people searching on the internet use different words depending on how close they are to a buying decision. The more specific the search the closer the searcher is to making a decision. But at all levels of search from broad to narrow people may be seeking further information or details of a product category through to details of a specific model.

If your site only has generic umbrella terms it is likely that you will struggle to get found.  Likewise if your site only has long tail keywords it may not provide the more general information that your buyers require. It makes sense then to structure a website using words from all categories. This will please your visitors and the search engines. The hierarchy of keywords you use should be reflected in the structure of your website.

Many inexperienced web site owners assume they know what keywords are the best for their site. Whether you use tools or not, speaking to customers and researching competitors will help you to determine whether you’re on the right lines. For many small businesses commercially available tools don’t yield productive results.

If you need help deciding the right keywords, my one off Internet marketing consultancy is just what you need.

  • Nov 29 / 2011
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Do It Yourself, SEO

How to survive the Google algorithm

If you regularly keep watch over your Google rankings or subscribe to various internet marketing newsletters, you will be aware of the panic that has left many website owners stressed out and confused.

You can’t fool Google, sooner or later they will weed out the spam and penalize you.

Why have websites dropped in rank?

The simple answer is Google algorithms. Without getting technical, Google regularly crawls sites and decides what keywords sites should rank on search engines for. Google uses various deciding factors when determining which keywords to award you high ranking with and periodically those ranking factors change. Why? Because website owners and SEO companies find ways of pushing sites up the rankings rather than allowing a natural climb.

Google is dedicated to providing searchers with quality results and therefore has a big task of weeding out spam sites and only showing the quality ones. Google does this by releasing new algorithms and that’s why websites see a sudden drop in rankings.

How to avoid ranking drops

 
Patience
The first thing you need to do is get rid of any impatience that makes you want to be at the top of Google now! If you want to get to the top of Google quickly then you must use pay per click, getting high search engine rankings naturally takes time, SEO takes time!

Fresh content
Google has hinted that it will look more at sites that provide regular updated content. If you haven’t got a blog on your website get one now. Write quality posts that are unique and informative.
Don’t overdo the links
Saying a site does not need links is just daft. Your backlinks are a big deciding factor when it comes to getting your site ranked but quality over quantity is essential!

Mix up your keywords
Keyword research is essential for a successfull internet marketing campaign. It is crucial that your site targets keywords with high search volumes. Aswell as short competitive keywords, you should also target broad keywords which can still bring good traffic. People use Google search to ask it a question so don’t dismiss the potential of long tail keywords.
Check duplicate content
You may not be aware that other sites or directories are using your content, this can impact your ranking. Use tools like copyscape to check for duplicate content. If you find some, send the website owner a polite email to ask them to remove it.
If you are doing SEO yourself then take a step back and review your search engine optimisation techniques.

If you think you are doing something that might get you penalised in the future, it is best not to do it.
If you are using the services of an SEO consultant then give them a call or drop them an email to ask what kind of techniques they are using. A good SEO specialist will be only too happy to have a quick chat about their work.

  • Jul 14 / 2011
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Do It Yourself, Google +1, SEO, Social Media, Useful Tips

Google +1

With the new launch of Google +1, this page is subject to change.  The new social tool launched by Google is still in it’s testing period.

FAQ

 

What is Google +1?

The reports are, Google have been trying to compete with Facebook and Twitter for sometime now, the new google +1 button feature is a big step in helping the mighty G achieving that goal.

You may have noticed the buttons appearing on some websites, particularly next to bog posts (just like this one you’re reading :) ).  By clicking on one of these buttons you are basically sending out a signal to other google users stating that you like what you read!  Those familiar with facebook and digg will notice the similarity in ‘like’ feature.

Who can see the +1 buttons?

Only Google logged in users can see the buttons appear next to websites on the search results.

Will it be a popular feature?

Early indications imply that its going to be but previously released apps and social media extensions launched by Google have been brought in and at the same time vanished without any recognition so everyone is watching this space to see how it develops.

Should I implement the button on my site?

I would recommend you do add it to your site, i cant do any harm. Its far too early to predict how Google are going to roll this out but its enough so far to get webmasters adding it to  their sites.

How to get the Google +1 button on your site

http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/index.html

  • Jan 09 / 2011
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Do It Yourself, Niche Websites

How to start a Niche Website

What are Niche Websites?

Niche websites are sites that have a theme and are clearly focused on one subject, product or market area.  If you are building a site to make money from, then a niche website is the perfect place to start.

Most websites are themed and can be broader than others. As an example, a gift website is very broad, but a gift website primarily selling gifts under £5 is niche.

Benefits of Niche sites

Niche sites benefit both the consumer and the site owner. Niche WebsitesIf you’re a site owner, a niche website can help you reduce the amount of competitors you have, you can also gain greater success in the search engines by narrowing down your target search terms (keywords).

Consumers often know what they want and have to trawl through sites to find specifically what they need.  By clearly being a niche site you can focus on capturing these consumers that are looking for your website.

Often site owners create a site that has a much wider audience than they can handle, this results in scattered marketing that struggles to convert for them.  It is always best to start small and work your way up. Let’s look at an example of the niche ‘House Swap’ a person may be looking for a House swap in Cheshire, yet stumble on a site that is new and claims to cover the whole of the UK.  If the site owner has not taken the time to first regionalise the site, they will lose visitors fast.  Visitors to a site instantly need to be reassured that the site owner knows their stuff.

How to find a niche

When looking for a niche, research is vital.  Make sure keyword research is one of your top priorities.  Once you have decided on a niche don’t proceed unless you are sure of the following 3 things:

  1. Is it winnable?
  2. Is There enough demand to make it profitable?
  3. Can You monetise the site?

 

Building your niche website

Check out your competitors sites, many themed sites have a particular colour and feel, if for example your niche site is about driving lessons, you should look at other sites on the same subject and see what you could do better! WordPress is a very good platform to start with, it enables sites to be built professionally and modified as your niche and success grows

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