Search engine optimisation - a few basic pointers

posted 5 Feb 2011, 05:56 by Leigh Tymms   [ updated 5 Feb 2011, 06:30 ]

Search engine optimisation - where do you start first?

There is some great stuff available on the web with regards to search engine optimisation SEO.

It's a bit of a buzz-word at the moment but with so many suppliers saying they offer it, you are right to want to know a little more about what it consists of before doing some basic SEO yourself or deciding you might want support with it and by whom.

Here's some tips we've picked up when we've been supporting clients with their website and SEO requirements.

-It's really important to choose the right website in the first place. Many sites, particularly those built in flash are much less conducive for SEO than their HTML counterparts for example.

-The keywords tools are a useful starting point, to research traffic levels for particule key words / phrases you might wish to target and and how competitive these are.

-Use niche and local terms to supplement the more competitive phrases relevant to your offering (e.g. rather than just optimising for 'books' try 'cheap childrens books in Kent' for example).

-To target your keywords and phrases, apply them consistently throughout the page / tags / titles and descriptions .

-Ensure the website has an XML sitemap in place

-Backlinks are a significant part of SEO effectiveness, some say in excess of 65%. Google, which controls around 90% of search traffic is looking for quality links, quantity is not as important - so that authorative backlink from a newspaper website for instance could make all the difference.

-There are many techniques to develop backlinks - be creative

-Try to ensure backlinks are one way (i.e. from their site to yours) and use anchor text e.g. 'data protection services' as the hyperlink, using the keywords, rather than the website URL - this really helps the search engines.

-Having a good RSS feed / blog and keeping it updated can do wonders.

-Be careful of 'blackhat' techniques, linking to/from dodgy sites, paying for links, keyword stuffing etc  - these can lead to removal of the website from the search engines indexes in the most extreme.

-Avoid duplicate content or the page will not be indexed an will achieve no SEO benefits.

-Use Google analytics / webmaster tools to keep ontop of results, test and improve

This is just the start of it, a few basic SEO techniques to get you goign and hopefully seeing some results. Great SEO takes time, if you would like to talk to one of our experts about how we could support your SEO cost effectively, call us on 0845 118 0053.

"Please click my site potential customer!"

Search engine optimisation is great becasue it gets customers coming to you - removing a lot of the necessary work in the sales cycle. The trick however is ensuring the customer finds you ahead of the competition.

So if you are going to get support from a 3rd party, what should you be looking for?

We would suggest:
  1. The price
  2. Evidence of success of the suppliers own site and client sites performing in the search engines for not just any phrase but well considered ones
  3. A commitment to working with you on an ongoign basis - if that is what you desire.
Have a look at some of the SEO results our team are achieving on our search engine optimisation (SEO) services page.

Startup and small business marketing - what to get in place

posted 5 Feb 2011, 05:18 by Leigh Tymms   [ updated 5 Feb 2011, 05:59 ]

I'm starting up a business - what marketing do I need?

When you're starting up a business, there are so many different requirements on your time and capital – it’s a job to know where to start!

Along with legal advice, company registrations, accountancy, sourcing supplier and setting up the processes for delivering your offering, there is the marketing to attend to.

Why is marketing important and something that should be addressed so early in the process? Well it’s simple really, without marketing, there are no sales - without sales, there is no business to work on. Marketing really is the lifeblood of the company, sales and marketing are generally the only process that brings income into the business, rather than being another cost

You might be thinking - that’s all well and good, but with limited time and budget, what should you tackle first?

Our experience of working with many start-up and small businesses leads us to believe the following are your first marketing priorities:

·           Ensure you have fully thought through the reasons customers will be buying from you and if you have are a niche or new business model, that it has been properly researched or is being test marketed.

·         Work with a marketing expert to develop a marketing strategy and a marketing plan for the first few months that you can work towards. We offer free one hour consultations for such a purpose.

·         Look to get your first 5 customers quickly – start by using your friends, family, acquaintances and business contacts to achieve this. Give them a preferential price, great service and start generating referred business and great testimonials.

·         It might be appropriate for your business to do some networking locally to meet local businesses

·         Establish a credible brand image from the outset. Otherwise few people will take you seriously. If they look for you on the web and can’t find you, they will most probably go to the competitor they can find. This means getting your core collateral in place:

o   A website with some basic search engine optimisation (SEO) to bring in local leads

o   Business cards and letter stationary

o   Logo design

We offer all of the above in our startup marketing package at a great price.

Once all of these basics are in place, your marketing plan should lead you to more ambitious marketing activity, when time and capital allow.

Best of luck with your startup business – it’s an adventure, not easy but great when you start to see the fruits of your labours coming through.

Marketing Data Privacy and Electronic Regulations 2003, TPS, MPS

posted 16 Aug 2010, 12:59 by Leigh Tymms   [ updated 26 Aug 2010, 05:51 ]

Marketing, data and the law – are you legal?

Spending hours gathering ‘prospect’ data from directories as a basis for a campaign is a very familiar exercise for many businesses. It can however lead you onto the wrong side of regulation all too easily. A well managed campaign is one that considers the preferences of those being contacted, and uses stringent targeting and appropriate channels to communicate effectively and in line with regulations.  

There are many ways to gather data as a basis for a marketing campaign, through purchasing lists, networking, exhibiting or through promotions for example. Just because details have been gathered by such a means does not mean an organisation can promote to them.  Regulation dictates both how the data is stored and used for marketing purposes.

Data Storage:

The  Data Protection Act requires organisations processing data  to follow eight principles, to ensure the data is:
Fairly and lawfully processed 
Processed for limited purposes 
Adequate, relevant and not excessive (only information of relevance is collected and stored)
Accurate and up to date 
Not kept for longer than is necessary 
Processed in line with an individual’s rights 
Secure (e.g files are password protected if electronically stored or locked away if hard copy)
Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection 

The Act also enables individuals to contact organisations to find out what information is being held about them, to which organisations should respond promptly with copies of records. Many organisations will also find that under this Act, where they are storing and using data, they should be registered with the Information Commissioners Office.

Mailing, Fax and Telephone Preference:

Individuals, whether at home or in organisations, have preferences over how frequently they are contacted and by which communications channel – all of which is good practice to build  in to your communications planning. More fundamental  is the issue of whether an individual has ‘opted out’ of receiving such communications by one or more of these channels – which is where more regulation kicks in.

The Mailing (MPS), Fax (FPS) and Telephone Preference Services (TPS) are the centrally held UK opt-out registers.  Marketing lists should be cleaned against these before campaigns are implemented. Individuals can register at any point to not receive unsolicited  communications. It is vital therefore, to check the preference services within 28 days of each campaign or promotional contact, in the instances where no business relationship is previously held. 

Calling numbers on the Telephone Preference Service for promotional purposes is governed by  Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. There are currently over 1.6m individuals in the UK who have opted out  and the fines for breaching this law can be as high as £5000.

In addition to the preference services, individuals are entitled to contact any organisation and say they do not wish to receive promotional communications by one or more communications channels, which the organisation should record and honour in the future.

Email and SMS Marketing:
Electronic marketing is highly regulated. What makes this especially difficult is that there is an onus on organisations, where a business relationship does not exist, to ensure those they send promotional communications to by email (e.g. eNewsletter) actually ‘opt-in’ to such communications to say they would like to receive them. Often this is achieved through a tick box on a website alongside a relevant explanation, a link to a subscription form or a combination of these. In addition to this, the sender should always be given a mechanism, in each communication, to opt out of such future communications.

Common mistakes to avoid:
‘Spamming’ attendance  lists from events or exhibitions or using data from a ‘business card fishbowl’ – did they specifically opt in to receive your promotional communications?
Promoting to individuals out of the blue where the relationship is years old and they’re not expecting to hear from you.

Another danger with email marketing is that where it is not opted into, junk mail filters and the chances of being ‘blacklisted’ as spam can heavily impact your chances of communicating in the future.

All of this might seem a bit onerous but why waste resource promoting to individuals that would rather not receive such communications? These regulations can actually help your targeting, increasing the likelihood of a better response rate when implemented as part of a well conceived campaign.

For more information and advice, including sourcing clean data lists of prospects, cleaning your lists, implementing secure data storage or campaign management, contact

Marketing planning and research for the budget sensitive business

posted 16 Aug 2010, 12:46 by Leigh Tymms   [ updated 26 Aug 2010, 05:53 ]

Marketing planning and research for the budget sensitive business

Many organisations neglect producing a marketing plan of any real depth or conduct any specific market research, instead focusing purely on promotional activity.

So why is marketing planning and research important? Without these processes, the organisations marketing can be like a shot gun, scattering shrapnel widely, in the hope of hitting their target. By contrast, having the right planning and research can make the marketing more akin to a sniper, with precise targeting and high effectiveness.

So if your business could be a tough, hard-hitting super sniper, why is it that many organisations  skip research and planning in favour of a scattering of varied promotional activities? Often it’s a lack of marketing understanding or an assumption that senior management, that by conducting day to day business, they know the marketplace inside-out. It is therefore important to be crystal clear as to what both market research and planning involve and the ways they can drive a solid return on the much valued marketing investment.

Market Research:

The Royal Statistics Society describe market research, as being “a means for providers of goods and services to keep themselves in touch with the needs and wants of those who buy and use the goods and services”. Research will often also consider additional parties to the consumer, such as competitors, associations and other stakeholders.  

There are a multitude of cost effective methods for gathering research, from online surveys, to interviews, focus groups, utilising internal management information, tests, asking the question on social media , tools provided by Google, referencing (often freely available) published research and much more. What is appropriate will depend on the objectives of the organisation and research programme. The various types of research can all be used towards the following:

· Understanding the changing dynamics in the marketplace allows potential opportunities to be found and negative changes to be prepared for
· Knowing more about the customer allows an organisation to understand exactly what it is they want, their expectations needs and objections. This helps the proposition and marketing message to be tailored more closely to their needs
· By understanding the range of potential customers in the marketplace, their volumes, potential value and requirements, an organization can target the segments to which it can focus its efforts, making the communications more focused and impactful
· Researching the competitors strategies and communications allows the researching organisation to replicate the best approaches, deploy defensive tactics and differentiate

Marketing Planning:

“For organisations, operating in an increasingly hostile and complex environment, it is vitally important to move rapidly beyond basic forecasting and budgeting systems to strategic marketing planning if they want to achieve real success in their market places” (Malcolm McDonald, 2006). This is particularly relevant to the budget conscious business and it need not be a laborious, expensive task to create a marketing plan  - it often it boils down to getting the programme of activity scoped out on one page. 

An effective marketing plan can help deliver the following:

· A clear, targeted and measureable part of an organisations overall business planning
· Leverage the market research and create effective approaches to help gain competitive advantage
· Establish strong foundations for the organisation to make management decisions – by understanding the typical response rates , associated costs and likely return on investment, activities can be prioritised, so precious budget is spent where it will have the greatest impact
· Set realistic business expectations as to the amount of business likely to result from the marketing campaigns, enabling the operational side of the business to prepared to deliver this
· Strengthen a brand and boost response rates, through delivering integrated and consistent messaging
· Inclusion of testing strategies, to systematically go about finding the approach and message that works best, to get the optimum return on investment each time it is used
· A working document – to support the development of the business and to assist briefing suppliers and partners in delivering their aspects of such activity

The utilisation of market research and creation of a marketing plan, perhaps with fewer, more focused activities is more important for the budget sensitive organisation than any other. A little investment in putting these processes in place will pay dividends down the line. 

For more information and advice, including market research, developing marketing strategies and plans, or sourcing clean data lists of prospects, contact or call us today

1-4 of 4