How and why you need to analyse and measure your website traffic

There are many software programs and online tools available that give you the ability to analyse and measure your traffic. However, most experts consider Google Analytics to be the most advanced and up to date.

Google Analytics

Google-AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a great tool to run on your website. It allows you to track your website traffic, see where your visitors are coming from and helps you to make informed changes to your site.

What’s more it’s free to use so all you need to do is have your web developer add the code to your website. To set up a Google Analytics account and profile visit http://www.google.co.uk/analytics

The type of information that you will be able to access is;

  • Number of visitors, including unique visitors.
  • Visits by day.
  • Visits by keyword.
  • How long visitors stay on the site.
  • Which pages people visit.
  • The average number of pages that are visited.
  • Where the visitors are coming from e.g. Google searches, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.,) and other site links.

Benefits of Google analytics include;

  • Overall site performance, see your KPIs in action.
  • Monitor the impact of page content so you can understand which parts of your website are performing well and which pages are most popular so you can create a better experience for your visitors.
  • Understand which online marketing campaigns (e.g. social media, PPC) are working so you can make sure you’re spending your budget effectively.

Before you delve in too far make sure you decide on your objectives, whether that be to increase sales, grow audience traffic or monitor new products or services. That will help you focus on the areas that are important to you.

How to optimise your website

One you have developed your keyword strategy it’s important to use search engine optimisation techniques to increase your chances of ranking for those keywords.

Search engine optimisation can essentially be divided into two categories –

  1. On the page SEO – which is basically how well your website’s content is presented to search engines.
  2. Off Page SEO –  refers to your site’s overall “authority”, determined by what other website say about you.

On page SEO should be your starting point as it can usually be fixed quickly.

The most important elements of on page optimisation are;

1. Page Titles

These are one of the most important on page SEO factors. Page titles are the text you see at the top of your browser window when viewing a page and are also the title that is presented in search engines.

2. Headings

Text in the headings is more likely to be read by search engines as keywords than text in the rest of the page. So, it is good to include keywords in your headings whenever possible.

3. Meta description and data

Meta data is the text seen as the description of a site in Google search. These words attract a searcher’s attention and indicate if a search result is particularly relevant to the searcher.

4. Images

Using images can improve the user experience, but don’t use images excessively. Also make sure that you include keywords in image file name and also use alt text.

5. URL structure

The URL Structure of your website is about how your different pages connect with each other. Having a clear and logical structure will help your SEO.

6. Cascading style sheets

Make sure you use a cascading style sheet (css) to define the style of your web page, don’t use html to do this.

7. Domain info

Your website may be ranked higher if your domain is registered for a longer period of time.

8. Google crawl date

Make sure you add fresh content to your website regularly as this will help Google crawl your site more often.

That’s it for now, I’ll cover Off page SEO in my next blog post, keep your eyes peeled…

 

Why build a keyword strategy for your website?

Search KeywordsA keyword basically just refers to the word or phrase that a person enters into a search engine like Google to gather information on a subject online.
As more and more consumers are finding businesses online through search engines using specific keywords it makes sense to take advantage of this behaviour by optimising your website and social media profiles around keywords that are relevant to your business.

How to build a keyword strategy

1. Identify 3-5 keywords that are relevant to your business

Think of the words and phrases that a consumer would use if they were searching for your product or service online.

The greater the volume of searches on a keyword, the more competitive it is and therefore it make sense particularly for small to medium sized business to choose less competitive keywords that are more specifically related to your business. You can use Google’s keyword tool to help with new keyword ideas.

2. Design and optimise your website around your keywords

Once you have chosen your keywords you should include them in your website. Your keywords should be included in the content of your site, images that you use should also include alt text that reflects your keyword strategy.

In future posts I will go into more detail on optimising your site.

The 7 essentials to include in your brand guidelines

Brand Guidelines (also commonly referred to as “brand standards”, “style guide” or “brand book”) are essentially a set of rules that explain how your brand works. These guidelines typically include basic information such as:

  1. An overview of your brand’s history, vision, personality and key values.
  2. Brand message or mission statement – including examples of ‘tone of voice’.
  3. Logo usage – where and how to use your logo including minimum sizes, spacing and what not to do with it.
  4. Colour palette – showing your primary and secondary colour palettes with colour breakdowns for print, screen and web.
  5. Type style – showing the specific font that you use and details of the font family and default fonts for web use.
  6. Image style/photography – examples of image style and photographs that work with the brand.
  7. Business card and letterhead design – examples of how the logo and font are used for standard company literature.

If you’re just starting out and you only require a few key marketing tools at this point, focusing on the above areas may be enough. However, to make sure all your bases are covered, you may choose to go with a more detailed Brand Book that also includes:

- Design layouts and grids
- Social media profile page applications
- Brochure/flyer layout options
- Website layout
- Signage specifications
- Advertising treatments
- Merchandising applications
- Copywriting style (a.k.a. “tone of voice”)
- Editorial guidelines

Brand guidelines should be flexible enough for designers to be creative, but rigid enough to keep your brand easily recognizable. Consistency is key, especially if you need the brand to extend across multiple media platforms.

Why you should have brand guidelines

Every business has a brand even if it doesn’t act like it. The brand is reflected by the look, feel and tone of voice of your website and marketing collateral. It can also be reflected in the way your staff communicate and deal with customers.

As a business it is key that your message is consistent at every point that your customers come in to contact with you, whether that is by talking to one of your team over the telephone or receiving a tweet from you.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand GuidelinesBrand guidelines essentially summarise what the brand stands for and also provide guidance on how the brand identity elements such as logo, fonts, colour palette should be used and communicated. Brand guideline usually also include guidance as to the “tone of voice”.

 

Why you should have brand guidelines….

  • Ensure that your brand message is communicated consistently across all marketing channels and customer touchpoints.
  • Provide guidance for designers to ensure a unified look and feel in every new piece of collateral and marketing material that you develop.
  • Provide company employees with focus and direction to ensure that they mirror the messages in their day to day work.

In my next blog I will talk about the elements that you need to include in your brand guidelines.

Is your brand consistent?

In a previous blog So what’s your focus for 2012?, I mentioned the need to ensure that your current marketing activity is integrated from a brand perspective.

Retaining brand consistency across all your marketing channels whether offline or online is so important as it helps you project a professional image. Having an inconsistent brand promise could easily lose you a client or customer.

Brand Many companies create brand guidelines which define aspects such as the logo usage, typeface, colour palette, tone of voice etc., along with the brand message and positioning. If you have brand guidelines, make sure you refer back to these when reviewing the consistency across all your on- and offline marketing.  You may be surprised how some aspects of your marketing have moved away from these guidelines.

Remember that your brand may actually have evolved since the production of the guidelines so you may want to update them, the key is to ensure that you build a plan for updating any parts of the mix that remain inconsistent or off brand in any way.

How you represent your business online is becoming more and more important and with the new channels available to us it’s easy to think that you can do whatever you want on your blog or facebook page, for example.

Don’t send out the wrong message make sure you keep everything consistent for optimal branding.

In future blogs I’ll be looking at how you can build brand guidelines without the need to engage with an expensive brand agency and also how you can update your marketing channels for brand consistency. Watch this space!

Are you taking advantage of local SEO?

Google PlacesGoogle’s focus on local business has resulted in a dramatic change in search results compared to the past. This really levels the playing field for small businesses that now have an advantage over national competitors – a local address.

Local search is one of the most powerful tools for increasing awareness and generating leads. Google says that 97% of consumers search for local business online so it’s key to be there. It is also really easy to set up and FREE!

Here’s how to do it

If you haven’t already got one then you’ll need to create a Google account for your business, you’ll need this to claim your listing but also to make any changes and updates to your listing. I would recommend creating an account that is related to your business rather than personal so I would go with something simple like mybusinessname@gmail.com.

Then all you need to do is go to Google Places where there are clear directions on how to build your page.

Your Google listing essentially includes details of your business – contact details etc and also a category listing i.e. what type of business it is, but you can also add photos and videos.

Business Details

Remember if you have different business locations you can create a listing for each, it’s also beneficial to provide a local telephone number for maximum impact.  If you have
multiple specialities in the same office you can create a listing for your office and a separate listing for each practitioner.  Make sure that the business information you
provide is consistent with that on your website.

Categories

Google places categories should say what your business is, not what it provides. Get as specific as you can within categories. Say you have a book shop, try to choose a specific category like ”comic books”, “used book store”, “new books”, or “rare and antique books”.

Complete your listing

Make sure you complete your Google places listing. So many businesses go half-way and provide the bare minimum but a thorough, complete Google places listing will rank better and provide a better user experience. This means photos, videos, coupons – Google allows you to include a lot of information and remember: It’s ALL FREE.

Verify your Google listing

Google will give you the option to verify your listing by phone or by postcard. You’ll be given a pin number which you will need to enter for your listing to go live.

Ask customers for reviews

Customers can add reviews to your Google business listing, and obviously positive ones are a powerful factor for users in deciding which business to contact.

So what’s your marketing focus for 2012?

Social Media IconsSearch and social media is high on my agenda, not only from
building nifty marketing’s online presence but also to looking at what my clients should be doing to keep ahead.

Last week I came across an article on search engine watch that talks about the top 5 trends for search and social media in 2012 which certainly makes some interesting reading.

But before jumping into thinking about how you can keep ahead with these trends, it is worth reviewing your online presence to ensure that your current activity is integrated from a brand perspective. Sounds obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many companies lose the consistency of brand promise and position between their website, blog and social media activity.

Here’s a link to the article – http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2133532/Top-5-Trends-for-Search-Social-Media-Marketing-in-2012

Welcome to my first blog post!

Well at the start of the New Year I’ve finally managed to
get nifty marketing’s blog up and running – something that’s been on the list for a while!

As all business owners will know, it’s sometimes difficult
to spend time nurturing our own business when we’re busy with work for our
clients. That’s why it is so important to identify what elements you should be
focussing your time on rather than trying to do everything!

As we start the New Year thinking about personal goals such
as losing weight and drinking less, we should also be looking at our business
focus for the forthcoming year.