The following guest post is written by Leon Quinn of Reverb Studios Multimedia & Web Design. Reverb Studios recently rejoined the IIA which I was really glad to see. Leon Quinn, the company owner, had been on my radar through twitter and had made some valuable input to the Social Media Working Group’s recent blogging workshop through the live twittering (You’ll hear me passing on his inputs in the podcast where I mistakenly say that he is based in Co. Clare when he’s actually in lovely Leitrim – my bad!)
I ask all new members what prompted them to join the IIA. Leon told me that “Good key worded anchor links from a site like the IIA’s with a Google page rank of 6/10 and Alexa rank of 135,562 should help promote my web site so I guess you could say I’m mainly using the IIA site for link backs but in return you should get some useful content via my 2 blogs through your excellent RSS feature.”
Over to Leon:
The dominant mood in the current economic climate amongst the general public and businesses especially is to cut costs, save money and look for deals. Bearing this in mind, and if you run a business looking to increase your sales leads, now might be a good time to look at your marketing methods and spend.
‘Old fashioned’ marketing methods such as Print, Radio, TV, Brochures, etc.. remain effective at least in a local context but they also remain very expensive. If you are a business manager who has managed to avoid going down the online route to find leads until now then you should realise that according to recent statistics more and more people are using the internet to find services and purchase products online and you may not be able to afford to ignore this fact for much longer.
Web Design companies, if they have morals! will realise that companies may turn to the net in the current crisis to service their sales needs and therefore will hopefully lower their prices in the face of greater competition so hiring a web development company should no longer break the bank like it used to.
So what are the benefits of having a web presence over traditional marketing means?
- The web has a much greater reach, anyone with a PC and internet connection, anywhere in the world can find your site and potentially do business with you.
- The web never sleeps. Your website will not keep normal business hours but will continue to sell your services 24/7.
- It’s easier and quicker to find a product or service on the web thanks to excellent search engines such as Google therefore people will use this method to find companies much more.
- You can say more and sell yourself better on a web site than any other media. Consider the cost of an ad in something like the yellow pages and what you get for that price as opposed to a web site on which you can have text, photos, audio, video, news and as many pages as you like!
- The ongoing cost of a web site is quite small compared to other media. If you are managing the site yourself then the only repetitive costs will be your domain name and hosting and these should be reasonable.
- Spending money on something like Google Adwords to get people to your site is a much more efficient way of spending your marketing budget and you can monitor the effects of a campaign much more closely.
- You can use Google Analytics on your web site for free and gain very useful information about the type of people visiting your site and what they looked at most while there. This information can allow you to optimise your site to maximise the amount of people who actually contact you and give you a valuable sales lead.
Article by Leon Quinn
Reverb Studios Multimedia Design, Leitrim
This Online Marketing Training course is being delivered by the Digital Marketing Institute and has been created FOR the digital marketing community BY the digital marketing community.
The Irish Internet Association and SureSkills today announced that they have teamed up to provide an Executive Education Program in Online & Digital Marketing. This 12 week course is being delivered by some of Ireland’s leading Online Marketing professionals and is designed to meet the rapidly growing demands for up-skilling digital marketing experts. Further information is available at www.DigitalMarketingInstitute.ie
"The demand from our members for professional training in this fast-moving sector is immense", explains Fergal O’Byrne, CEO of the Irish Internet Association (IIA). "A recent survey of Ireland’s marketing decision-makers by IIA member company Amas found that 56% of marketing professionals spend over 10% of their budget online. Respondents to this survey cited value for money and measurement as the key factors in choosing to spend their budget online. (See State of the Net Issue 10)
"In challenging times, marketing professionals need to be able to offer their clients a full range of services." O’Byrne continues, "They must be aware of the marketing their clients are being exposed to and will therefore seek to emulate. This training program will provide marketers with access to the latest thinking and techniques in online and digital marketing. Delivered by Ireland’s leading practitioners in digital marketing, this program will provide the highest quality knowledge to attendees."
Steven Long of SureSkills adds: "As leaders in the provision of high level management and technical training, we have been actively searching for partners in this area. The IIA is the logical fit. Our initial feedback is that there is a huge demand for this course."
About the Course
This course is delivered in 24 separate modules, including Search Engine Optimisation, Pay per Click Advertising, Blogging, Site Analytics, Banner Advertising and Email Marketing. This course commences on Thursday 22nd January 2009. To suit busy timetables, delegates can elect to attend the course by day or as an evening course. More details and registration available at www.DigitalMarketingInstitute.ie
The SureSkills training division provides the most comprehensive training schedule available in Ireland. SureSkills also provides a fully managed training service and has extensive experience developing and implementing bespoke training solutions for its larger corporate clients. More information available at www.SureSkills.com
A guest post from Will Roche who works with IIA Member company Bluecube Interactive with some great tips if you are looking into starting an AdWords Campaign on Google to attract targeted traffic to your site. Will previously worked with Google so he knows a thing or two!
“The noblest search is the search for excellence”
-Lyndon Baines Johnson
Advertising on search engines is one of the most effective methods for driving qualified traffic to your website. Compared to traditional forms of advertising, it is more cost-effective, you can measure performance from the very beginning of the campaign and you will be reaching out to potential customers at the precise time when they are looking for information on products and services they want to buy.
At its very heart, this form of advertising is wonderfully simple – a user sees an ad based upon their search – but there are many factors that you must consider to ensure you don’t pay more than necessary and that the clicks you receive are actually contributing to your profitability.
With this in mind, Bluecube Interactive has created this guide to help you get started in this much-misunderstood area. The advice that follows will help you to lay the foundations but remember, our search team is always available if you need to take your advertising to the next level.
The structure of an AdWords account is vital to achieving a great return on your investment. The right structure will ensure that users are served the most relevant ads at all times and it will make reporting, account navigation and optimisation much easier.
The ideal account structure is one which separates the products and services offered into their own campaigns. A good example would be a company who offers two services – web hosting and web design.
Each service should have its own campaign. This has numerous advantages. For instance, if web hosting is the more prominent service, a greater proportion of the overall marketing budget can be allocated to that campaign. It also makes comparing the cost-per-click performance of both services much easier as you can see at a glance which campaign is driving the most traffic, achieving the most conversions and is providing better value for your business.
Within each campaign, there should be numerous ad groups which group related keyword phrases together that are reflected by specific ad text variations. Examples of ad groups would be:
- web hosting
- website hosting
- UK hosting
- Linux web hosting
The goal should be to make your account as granular as possible and to think about the user who is searching for your keywords. If they are served an ad that relates directly to their search, the user is more likely to click on your ad and convert into a sign-up, lead or sale.
As mentioned previously, keywords should be as specific and targeted as possible and they should relate directly to the ad that the user sees. If a user is searching for product codes or other specific terms, they are likely to be further along the purchasing cycle than those searching for more general terms and therefore, more likely to convert on your website.
General keywords like ‘photocopiers’ or ‘printers’ can be very good for driving large volumes of traffic and can also be beneficial for branding purposes. However you should be aware that general terms are also more expensive and may not lead to the same return on investment that can be achieved with specific keywords.
Another keyword type that you should be aware of is the negative keyword. Almost as important as the keywords which trigger your ads, this type of keyword prevents your ad from showing on irrelevant or unrelated searches. For instance, if your keyword is ‘printers’, this term is liable to be expanded to show for searches like:
- inkjet printers
- laser printers
- free printers
- screen printers
- second hand printers
If your business only sold inkjet printers, you may not want your ads to be displayed for searches on laser printing terms so you could add ‘laser’ as a negative keyword and reduce the amount of irrelevant impressions on your ads. This would result in the same amount of clicks, less impressions, a higher clickthrough rate and because Google’s system rewards highly targeted advertisements, you should see a reduction in your average cost per click.
The actual ad text shown to users searching on your keywords is very important and we recommend using three variations which the AdWords system will rotate evenly until it determines that one variation is performing better than the others.
As mentioned previously, the ad must relate directly to your keywords. It is also very good practice to have the keyword in the ad text itself. If the searched keyword is part of the ad, that text will be highlighted in bold letters and makes your ad stand out to your prospective clients.
Another best practice is to give the user an idea of what you expect them to do once they reach your website and you should certainly use call-to-action phrase to do this. Phrases like ‘order online now’ or ‘contact us today’ can be very effective in driving conversions. If your goal is to have potential leads call your sales team, you may wish to try an ad variation which has your phone number. In this way, you could potentially solicit leads without the need for any chargeable click activity.
Once a user clicks on your ad, the landing page is the next important step in ensuring a strong conversion rate and ROI. More often than not, advertisers use their home page as the destination for their ads but if you have many products or offer different services, you should choose the webpage that is most relevant to the keyword searched and the ad displayed to the user.
It is always worth remembering that more you make a user click, the less likely they are to convert. Generally speaking, if a user is searching for ‘accounting software’, you should bring them to the page with all the relevant information about that software to make their purchase decision. We would also recommend not bringing users directly to ‘contact us’ pages unless those pages contain an adequate amount of information on the product or service itself. Landing pages which only contain large contact forms and no information tend to have very high bounce rates (the amount of users who leave your website) and do not convert very well.
If you are mostly interested in driving phone calls to your sales teams, I would recommend having your contact details and phone number on every page of your website. Once again, this prevents the user from having to navigate your site for the information they require. As with all things related to Google advertising, the focus should always be on the user experience and how you can make their conversion as easy as possible.
About Bluecube Interactive
We are a small company with big ideas, and we have a lot of big ideas about search engine marketing. Our experienced search specialists offer a range of services to ensure the success of your campaigns.
Our Services include:
After researching your existing online environment we will create keyword lists, text ads and calculate your optimum cost-per-click settings to ensure your ads appear on the first page of results for the most relevant searches. Our expertise will ensure detailed campaign performance analysis and increased budgetary control.
One of the key success factors with a PPC campaign is the continuous refinement of keywords and ad texts based upon historic performance. Our specialists can recommend and implement changes that will noticeably improve the performance of your campaigns.
We use traffic analysis software that allows us to see how valuable each keyword really is, if your conversion goals are being met and what we can do to maximise these conversions.
We offer full-time account management services that make us solely responsible for the success of your PPC campaigns. We will discuss your marketing goals, research the online environment for your industry and create the campaigns that will deliver strong results. We also provide regular reporting on account performance and how users are interacting with your website
Our account management service ensures that all areas of your search engine marketing are in the hands of experienced professionals who will be in regular contact with your marketing team.
Damien Mulley is running another innovative competition to find the best Search Engine Optimiser in Ireland. The competition has become known as the Geansaí Gorm Competition. (although I think it is being spelt “geansai gorm” without the accent. I’m sayin nuttin! :)) This phrase was chosen so as not to pollute the rankings of actual businesses because it was unlikely that there are many trying to sell geansaithe goirme online (bang goes the Spailpín Fánach’s line in blue jumpers…)
The competition runs until 3pm on December 1 2008 so if you are really good there is still time to get ranked in Google for geansai gorm. I’m really looking forward to seeing the resuls. I’ll be keen to see how much social media helps the winner or whether the purchasing of AdWords helped. I’ll keep you posted on the results.
Now I’m off to sell all the mentions above of geansai gorm to the contenders… 😉
The following post was contributed by Colman Kelly, a web developer with PillarProjects Ltd, a member of the IIA, who are currently developing their own site. He attended last week’s Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing Course and offered to write a review of it. As he knows from the course and as I mentioned myself in a previous post becoming a guest blogger is a great and legitimate way to generate links to your own site.
I recently attended the SEO/SEM course organised by the IIA.
It was a one day course at the IPA, Lansdowne Road given by Micheal Heragthy, CEO of Heraghty Internet Consultants.
There was a full attendance, which I wasn’t surprised at given Michael Heraghty’s reputation, and the importance of SEO/SEM to all businesses today.
The pace, and detail, of the morning session was prepared and presented in such a way as it could be followed by all there.
There is a good atmosphere in the IPA, and all the class mingled and chatted during the tea break, and at the lunch across the road.
The afternoon session was a practical one where we stepped through the process of creating a (commercial) pay-per-click advertising campaign using Google AdWords.
As a web devoloper these were skills that I needed to learn. Many of us created a live campaign right then and there, and Michael took time to get his hands dirty and give us one-on-one help and advice.
From what I have read and heard there is no more knowledgable man on this topic than Michael Heragthy, and it was obvious the class appreciated this in their eagerness and application in the afternnoon session, and with the questions and answers at the end.
A very worthwile day.
If you plan to attend an IIA event or have attended on in the recent past and would like to write a review of it, please contact me, Roseanne at roseanne at iia dot ie.
Last Thursday I attended the IIA Event “Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing (PDF 2 MB)”. While I was happy to be there to represent the IIA as always, I was primarily there to learn like many of the other participants. Some of the other participants were there because they were planning to get their hands dirty and develop some killer AdWords campaigns for their own companies; some participants were there because they had found the “if you build it; they will come” approach hadn’t gone quite to plan; and some were there because they were planning to recruit SEO executives and wanted to ensure they were recruiting people with real knowledge and experience. Well more knowledge and experience than they got from a one day course! We were absolutely full to capacity and as the afternoon session was hands on and PC based we were lucky to be able to fit everyone. Lesson 1: if you see an IIA event that would benefit you or your company, book it immediately!
The trainer for the day was Michael Heraghty of Heraghty Internet Consultants and his coverage of the topic was extensive. It was apparent very quickly that he has the SEO knowledge and the passion for SEO that will keep that knowledge fresh in a fast changing area. I had been to a seminar on AdWords about two years ago and so much has changed even since then that I really learnt a lot. The content of the workshop also boosted my confidence in developing Google AdWords Campaigns. I think the main thing to remember in Search Engine Optimisation and AdWord formulisation is that all the Search Engines want to offer their users the best experience possible, which means serving them results with the answer to their query, preferably in the number one position. Therefore they are constantly tweaking and improving their search engines in order for them to search like humans who know where they are and who they are. I know that I am a thirty something in Dublin so when I throw the single word query “hairdresser” into a search engine I want to see results about hairdressers in Dublin. (There aren’t many with great websites anyway but that’s another day’s post!)
One of the most useful points, I thought, that Michael made was all about what I like to call “Link love” (a quick search of WordSpy suggests that it hasn’t entered the general lexicon however Blogossary (not a receptacle for dead blogs but a glossary for blogging terms) defines it as “posting a link to sites or blogs, usually unsolicited, that you enjoy, admire, or find useful.” The beauty of link love for the recipient is that it increases your ranking with Google because Google not only looks at the content of your own site but the content of the sites that link to yours and why they are linking to yours. It works out the “why” by examining their content and if it contains some of the same keywords, it’s a good link, a real link, a link full of love. The more links of love your site receives the higher you rank in the search results. However, this only holds if, for example, you are one of my mythical hairdressers in Dublin and your site contains the keywords hairdresser and Dublin and sites linking to yours contain the keywords hairdress and Dublin EVEN IF those sites are saying “Roseanne’s Hair Salon is the WORST hairdresser in Dublin” with links to my salon’s site, Roseanne’s Hair Salon. The old adage that it’s better to be talked about than not at all really holds true for search optimization. The next trick is to engage the aforementioned dissastisfied customer of Roseanne’s Hair Salon and see if you can put it all to rights. This is something which will no doubt feature in Thursday’s half-day event “Improving Online Results using Web 2.0” and which Keith Shirley discusses when he was writing about last week’s inaugural meeting of the Social Media Working Group.
02/09/2008: I am editing this section to clarify a number of points. You can see from the comments that it has generated some interest among bloggers.
Michael mentioned that a great way to boost your link love was to write a guest blog post (HINT!! HINT!!). EDIT: Also I also imagine that leaving comments on blogs that are likely to be published (i.e. helpful, objective and “soft” sell comments (Edit: Please see clarification on my use of the term “soft” sell below.)) is another way to get those lovin’ links going. It also occurred to me that another great way to increase your link loving is to log into the IIA extranet and post information (news, appointments, vacancies, special member offers) about your company. Another link in the chain of love that will help you creep closer to that coveted number one position. I look forward to reading all your news!
With all of this in mind I would like to make a suggestion. If you have tended an IIA event and are a fully paid-up member and would like to write a review of that event and how you feel the material will feed into your work and your internet strategy, I would love to hear from you. Post a comment below or email me at members at iia dot ie.
(By the way if you can’t get enough of this SEO stuff, Heraghty Internet Consultants have plenty of case studies in the Clients section of their site.)
EDIT: Soft sell: Let’s be clear, the IIA is a business association and so our members are in the business of turning a profit. This is the main goal of all resources spent on company time. The reason that they will undertake any blogging or commenting on blogs is that they hope that their engagement will reflect well on their products and services which in turn will lead to new customers or sustain relationships with existing customers. Like all other engagments there are rules. You wouldn’t roll into a meeting with potential clients unprepared or do a radio intervew without planning. Writing a blog or commenting on somebody else’s blog has the potential to attract as much attention as a radio interview. However as an employee of the IIA when I comment on a blog in a professional capacity I will always be doing it with the IIA’s mission and strategic goals in mind. It will, after a fashion, be a soft sell to encourage members to take a more active role or to encourage non-members to consider joining etc. even if I never mention these goals explicitly.
Our mission is the realisation of your business benefits through successful projects. We believe the success lies in the attitude & skill set the person brings, combined with the support that is given to our people.
Attitude, skills, support: you could say the three pillars of business wisdom!
You might be wondering why are all these people joining the IIA? I’ll tell you!
Membership is like Neapolitan Ice Cream with three flavours allowing companies to choose between Corporate (50+ employees,) SME (Up to 50 employees), or Individual (Less than 3 employees). We can generate usernames and passwords for all staff within a member company which allows lots of flexibility in the use of our extranet.
Members of the IIA get considerable discounts on all our events and access to member-only events. As a member-driven and member-focussed organisation we rely on members’ input to ensure a vibrant and cutting edge programme of events and therefore welcome all suggestions from our members. We welcome input from members as guest bloggers and as speakers at events throughout the year.
All members are welcome to post industry-related press releases, tenders, publications, vacancies and appointments via the IIA extranet. Members can also avail of special offers made available by members, discounts on events run by the IIA and member-only resources such as whitepapers, research and reports.
But sadly there is no free ice cream. So far. I’m working on it.