Wednesday, 1 August 2012

"This Site May Be Compromised"

Google responds to hacking and malware potential problems ahead of time for search listings. 

I came up against a problem yesterday. Nothing unusual in that, problems occur every day and it wouldn't be a work-day if I wasn't scratching my head thinking, "How do I fix this??".

The SEO Problem

We host all of our own websites on a secure server. Some of the websites are built in Wordpress, some in Umbraco and others in a number of different platforms. One website we built two weeks ago and submitted to Google was now indexed on Google.

Usually, a websites being included within Google is good. Not yesterday. Underneath the listing was the words "This site may be compromised".

This had me stumped. Nobody would click on this website if they read this, I certainly wouldn't! Further investigating revealed that all of our Wordpress websites were the same.

So I read the information provided by Google, followed the processes and couldn't mind any malware or errors. Finally, I contacted Google to say I'd followed the advice but couldn't identify the problem?

Google's Response

Google replied to my Google webmaster account stating that an out of date version of Wordpress was causing me to get the message.

The version of Wordpress we were running was version 3.4.1, however a more advanced version was available. Operating from 3.4.2 would mean the message would disappear. An out dated version of Wordpress, such as 3.4.1 was susceptible to hacking and Google is protecting their users by automatically presuming the website has been hacked.

Importance of Keeping your Wordpress blog updated

It's obvious that keeping your Wordpress website updated is essential for Google. It will hurt your SEO rating of your website if you don't, plus if users can find your website they will be worried about clicking on your link with a warning underneath it!

I think it's fair to say I learned something yesterday.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Finally a Supermarket with Some Sense!

Followers of the SEO Marketing blog will be aware the majority of our blogs are about Search Engine Optimisation, however, on many occasions we stop and reflect on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly side of other marketing.

In a recent visit to Morrison's I encountered what can only be described as supermarket bliss. I made my usual grunts and groans when exiting my car and couldn't face another boring, dull and ultimately time-consuming visit around a supermarket.

I've always thought that supermarkets are like chores; it's an essential task of life but once which takes up far too much of my time. Supermarkets are crammed full of people who fail to understand the concept of personal space, it's an environment of loud banging, delivery trollies strewn all over the aisles and poor availability and choice of items. As a result, I no longer believe Morrison's to be a supermarket. It can't be described as a supermarket because it does more - it actually understands what people want, not just what they need.

Why is Morrison's a cut above the rest?

For the people yet to visit the new Morrison's stores where the transformation from lifeless supermarket to glorious shopping experience has taken place, this may seem like I'm overplaying a supermarket changing the shelves for new stock. I guarantee you it's not. My local superstore is Anniesland, Glasgow and during my visit I mentioned to the gentleman on the till that the place was brilliant. In a "you're the 100th person to tell me today" tone he said, "Yeah, people like it" and he proceeded to help me with my bags.

Morrison's supermarket has provided consumers with a new style of supermarket. Some of the best things about Morrison's includes;
- Extra wide and spacious aisles (you need never bump into anyone ever again!)
- A fruit and veg section being kept fresh with water being sprayed across them
- Selection and choice in every aisle (it's definitely the largest fruit and vegetable section I've seen)
- A wine aisle which segments by colour, flavour, occasion and price (bottles under £3, £5 and about £8)
- The meat section was fantastic and again the choice on offer was exceptional
- The cafe is huge but also, you no longer have to take your trolley into the cafe because there are secure designated bays to leave your trolley
- Morrison's has developed a deli style section where you can purchase a slice of pizza, a freshly squeeze drink, a baked potato to eat on the go or simply a frothy coffee
- On top of this, Morrison's actually had everything in stock I was looking for and it was my 'big shop'.

Marketing of Morrison's

Morrison's have taken a personalised approach to supermarket shopping. It's important to be honest and say that before this event I was not a Morrison's fan - actually I would go to Asda or Tesco. The reason is that Asda is the cheapest and Tesco is the largest supermarket to me, plus I can get clubcard points on food and petrol. However, Morrison's marketing strategy is a winner for me.

I no longer feel like castle being dragged in, hauled around the aisles, bumping into people and then taken through a conveyer system to leave again, minus a large chunk of my money.  I don't mind paying more for the excellent experience of walking through a Morrison's supermarket. Also, I love the variety of choice from Morrison's which I can't get at Asda. I would still use Tesco for clubcard points but on petrol (which is about the same everywhere).

A supermarket should either be the cheapest, the best quality or the most convenient. My local Tesco is a Tesco Metro, so for me I would utilise this shop for day to day items. There is a premium for shopping this way but I'd rather pay 20 pence on a carton of milk than drive 10 minutes to the larger supermarket. Asda is the cheapest supermarket but struggles with availability, which Tesco has managed to resolve through the use of their clubcard. For me, Morrison's is the best quality supermarket, and I include the more expensive Marks and Spencers and Waitrose in this list.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Morrison's conducted market research on 10,000 customers and asked them how to improve the supermarket. They've listened and actually delivered a supermarket to be proud of.

Morrison's: The Place to Shop

Perhaps I'm in shock and awe at the transformation of Morrison's, or that I never really expected a supermarket could be an enjoyable experience. I've since visited Morrison's 4 more times at various points throughout the week and continue to get the same great service, excellent variety and a fantastic ability to browse the aisles as I wish.

It's not difficult to provide a fantastic experience but it takes a genuine understanding of your customer and a lot of harder work on your proposition to deliver it. When people in their early 20's Facebook each other saying "have you been to the new Morrison's", you know you've done something right.
I won't stop using Tesco because it's useful for my local shop and for petrol but I'm not loyal to any supermarket so I would rather spend a little extra money for an enjoyable experience at Morrison's than visit Asda.
The lesson here is, being the cheapest doesn't make you the best. People always, always want value and being the cheapest often means reduced profit which consequently hinders a business's ability to interact with customers and change with market trends.

Friday, 20 January 2012

SEO Company in Glasgow

Today, being a glorious Friday and with the sense of "it's been a good week", I thought i'd write about my own city of Glasgow. In particular, I'm focussing on (as always!) the SEO impact of companies looking for SEO support.

SEO company in Glasgow

North Star Marketing is an SEO company based Glasgow. Ultimately, search engine optimisation doesn't have a permanent address; it's an international service. However in Glasgow, or even Scotland, companies seem concerned with relationships, building strong ties whilst continuing to deliver profitable online marketing. In this regard it's very like the far East where relationships are key and contracts are worthless pieces of paper.

At North Star we help clients as far away as California (visit on company expenses... one to ponder) and as close as a company we work next door too. However, the fact is the majority of our clients are based in Scotland.

When I asked them, "why do you use an SEO company in Glasgow", there answer wasn't "because you're the cheapest" or "you were high on Google for SEO". The answer I received was because we were recommended and local; we could meet, have coffee, talk to you face to face and come direct to you with our SEO problems in your office.

This feedback came from a variety of companies across different sectors, one of which was a bluechip company which operated world-wide already. It's fantastic that business has globalised and from an SEO perspective North Star has benefited from the world-wide online promotion industry. However, there's a part of me glad to be from Glasgow where the cheapest price isn't always what counts, instead it's about value for money and building strong, long-lasting relationships to enable success to thrive.

Long live SEO in Glasgow

There are a number of SEO companies in Glasgow and each have their own way of communicating, building business, creating their brand and shouting about what they do. I've met some fantastic companies who really have a firm understanding of SEO principles, yet they can't convey their unique selling points (USP's) to their target audience. Conversely, there are companies who can drive in new business all day but can't provide the same level of SEO service in Glasgow.

We've covered some of the ways SEO companies in Glasgow generate new enquiries.

Word of mouth

It won't be a surprise to read that one of the most popular routes to generate new clients is via word of mouth. We constantly get new clients referred to us because of the high standards we set. This in turn reduces our marketing budget and helps us keep costs down (which client's like!).

Google

I've lost count of the number of companies who ask the question, "Where do you rank for the phrase 'SEO' on Google". The answer is nowhere near it. There are companies who have been established for 20 years+ providing an online SEO service with huge marketing budgets striving to be top for key phrases like SEO. The client eventually pays for their marketing budget with £7,000 per month SEO campaigns.

Companies still aim to be the top for these phrases, however honesty is a valuable trait in the SEO world. Client's don't want to throw good money after bad chasing an impossible dream, when they could drive just as much traffic under another search term. It's the same for an SEO company which like North Star was conceived in the last 5 years - optimise for success.

PPC

Pay Per Click is another popular route to generate SEO clients in Glasgow. I've spoken to a number of Glasgow SEO companies who say they regularly spend money on paid search campaigns with Google and get value for money. I've tried this to test the theory but in truth the enquiries proved to be short-term agreements with little substance. Yes there's quantity but the quality didn't seem to match up.

Off-line advertising

One SEO company in Glasgow also tried offline advertising within the national press. It's not an area i've been tempted with before as i've thought it to be too mass market however it's another route to

Free ways to get SEO clients

Other than word of mouth, there are free ways to generate new SEO clients and it's exactly what North Star did when it first launched. One route as an SEO company in Glasgow to generate new clients is to look at your current client bank and offer an incentive to introduce new clients.

Secondly, you've probably been working for a number of years - tell people about your service and spread the word. People know people and word of mouth often spreads as long as it starts somewhere.

Finally, the most important tips to meet new SEO clients for free is to go to networking sessions and meet, speak and learn from other people. In Glasgow there are business seminars and breakfast meetings where a wide variety of companies will be eager to hear about your service.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Being a DMOZ Editor

Last year I applied to become a DMOZ editor and I was accepted for the position. I'm sure you can imagine the surprise on my face when I found out. I've kept it quiet for months for two reasons,

What is DMOZ?

DMOZ is the largest human edited directory in the world. Volunteers are required to ensure the database is maintained and kept up to date.

DMOZ has multiple benefits for websites, none more important than being able to tell Google that your website is on the most successful internet directory. Some people also search for companies and organisations using the directory so it can be beneficial for this purpose too.

How did I become a DMOZ Editor?

The truth is I had to submit my entry to DMOZ three different times to be successful. It was not easy. However, each time I did I learned something else about the process and eventually my persistence paid off.

If you are trying to join for your own website this is allowed, however penalising other websites and failing to support the DMOZ project is frowned upon.

I gave an honest account of DMOZ and why I thought I could add value.

Tips for becoming a DMOZ editor

We've created some tips to help you with your application to become a DMOZ editor. It's simple to apply. You visit the DMOZ website, navigate to the category you wish to become an editor for and click "volunteer to edit this category" in the top right hand corner.

Tip 1: When selecting a category drill down to a category with less than 20 submissions to date. This will improve your chances of success.

You will be asked to complete the application form. This should take about 1hour.

Tip 2: You can only edit one category initially so before you complete your application be sure you are happy with your DMOZ category and can demonstrate your knowledge in this subject.

When completing the form you will see a section "What is your internet experience"

Tip 3: At the internet experience section you want to keep it short and punchy. List the experience you have both personally and professionally. For instance, what type of websites do you build, do you manage PPC campaigns, can you CMS websites or build database etc.

You will then have to demonstrate why you are interested in joining DMOZ.

Tip 4: It's imperative that you don't say "I want to become a DMOZ editor to get my website listed". Your application will be deleted.

Tip 5: Explain your passion for becoming a DMOZ editor. Also, identify that DMOZ is the largest open directory worldwide and being part of this would be an honour for you.

Next you should identify why you are interested in this category.

Tip 6: Explain your experience of the category and what you can bring to the subject. Be descriptive and give examples.

You will then be asked about websites you are associated with. This means listing the websites you've built, created content for, build databases for etc.

In the last section you will have to list 3 submissions for your chosen category. Please take your time here and do research.

Tip 7: Check that you suggested listing meets the DMOZ guidelines and that it's not already listed within DMOZ. If there is a more appropriate category don't use this listing.

Your suggested websites should be appropriately formatted (e.g http://www.) and the description should start with a capital letter.

From behind the DMOZ curtain it's easy to understand the frustrations of people submitting their listing. When I was given my category there were 20 listings already waiting for me, some of which dated back to 2006! There are simply not enough resources to cover every section, however with that said, DMOZ is extremely selective over who they choose to become an Editor. Ultimately, you have to be getting involved for the correct reasons and demonstrate your passion for the category you wish to write for.

Paying DMOZ Editors for listings

There has been highly controversial suggestions that DMOZ editors accept money in exchange for listings within the directory. I applied to DMOZ for two reasons, 1. I wanted to list a website I was working on and 2. I actually wanted to contribute to the success of the most powerful directory in the world.

Under no circumstances did I think, OK let's make money. My stance is that it's immoral, unfair and greedy.

Monday, 9 January 2012

1&1 SEO does it equal 2?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not always as simple as implementing metadata, website content and link building.

We were asked by a company to optimise their website for the major search engines. As a company providing SEO in Glasgow we are more than capable of delivering successful SEO campaigns. However, often external factors must be taken into account when deciding if a campaign is managable or not. Whilst our expert SEO specialists have the skills, fundamental problems often exist.

1and1 SEO

In this instance, 1 and 1 equalled 5 and a fundamental change was required. The client had a Wed Eden website which restricted their metadata and the content which search engines could read on their website.

When we spoke to the client they had spent thousands of pounds with a company building their website so didn't want to spend anymore.

What did we do?

When you face a challenge you can see it as a threat or an opportunity. The threat was that the new client would cancel and decide not to pursue an SEO plan with North Star. Alternatively, they may go to another SEO company who would happily take their money for 6 months with no benefit to the company.

Our view was to consider it as an opportunity to build a long lasting relationship with a new company eager to develop their web presence. Our website developers and SEO specialists got together and decided to take an initial loss and build the client a new website, with a new domain name and custom built tools. This designing and building of the website took two weeks. However, the SEO client was so happy with our service and flexibility that they agreed to sign up to a SEO agreement for 12 months.

Long Lasting SEO Relationships

In the competitive world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) it's important to ensure you look after the client and that the relationship is mutually fufilling. The SEO client used the Web Eden site as a corporate website and the new website we designed, built and manage as an SEO / lead development proposition.


Keywords

1&1 website SEO
1and1 SEO
Expert SEO specialists
Free website and SEO help
SEO in Glasgow
SEO Client

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New Year Resolution

It's the time of year for New Year resolutions and one advert I watched recently reminded me that whether it's a personal or business goal, there are certain requirements to succeed. The Nike "No Excuses" advert is intelligently created with US Basketball player Matt Scott and should be watched, regardless if you're a sports fan or not.

Setting business goals

If you're not currently setting yourself business goals, then it's time to start. What do you want to achieve and by when? You can use SMART to ensure you are setting appropriate goals. SMART means each goal should be;

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Timed

For instance, "Throughout 2012 I will write a new blog post at least 3 times a week of at least 400 words". It's specific, measurable, achievable (if I plan my week properly!), realistic and set against a time.

Succeeding with your business goals


After setting your goals it can often be difficult to ensure your goals meet your business need and enable your business to move forward. The attributes to succeed in a personal goal are the same as business goals. You must be;

- Honest: I've owned and run my own company for years now and one of the challenging factors is being honest with myself. That can sometimes mean learning that the goal I set was too advanced or that I needed a swift kick up the backside to meet my goals. Being honest with yourself is essential to save time and develop your business.
- Determined: There are days when you can make multiple excuses for not meeting your goals. For instance "I had too much other work", "Someone else didn't do their part" or "I felt sick". You have to make your goals happen with preparation and a focussed mind.
- Have the ability: I once wanted to be a footballer, but I lacked two key ingredients; Speed and any talent whatsoever. It was, in hindsight, an unrealistic objective. You need to ensure your business objectives are potentially possible. If you have the ability, coupled with a determination to succeed and an honest outlook then what can stop you?
- Luck: Finally, you can't control what your competitors are doing, arguably some market conditions are also out with your control and in the end you require a bit of luck.

If you have all four of these attributes your objectives are far more likely to be a success.

Nike Excuses Advert

The Nike "No Excuses" advert drives the message direct to the consumer's face. As my grandfather once said, "a job worth doing is worth doing well". This advert reminds me of that message.




Setting 2012 Goals

Good luck setting your 2012 goals. An important reminder is to evaluate your objectives frequently. Ideas for setting goals could be;

- Improving your social media numbers
- Improving your website ranking (position on Google)
- Improving your profit with an advertising campaign
- Creating a digital marketing campaign to drive brand awareness
- Starting a Public Relations campaign to improve your profile
- Set a budget for 2012 marketing
- Create a tender proposal to find a new marketing agency
- Redesign our corporate profile with a new logo and leaflets
- Use SEO techniques to drive 10% extra sales

P.s. These are not SMART objectives, but just ideas of what you may wish to achieve.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Improve My Alexa Ranking

What is Alexa?

Alexa is an online analytical system created in 1996 and purchased by Amazon in 1999 for $250 million. Since 2002 Alexa has built strong ties with Internet power-houses Google and the Open Directory Project. These two organisations are considered to carry incredible influence for website success.

Why would I want to improve my Alexa ranking?


The model Alexa works with is flawed, it can only track and analyse data from people who have an Alexa tool installed. As a result, some of the world's largest websites have a less than impressive Alexa ranking.

So, does it matter? Well, research and studies show that one indicator of the size and influence your website holds is in your Alexa ranking. If your Alexa ranking is high (in the millions) then this data will influence your website position on search engines.

As a consumer would you rather by from a website ranking 10,000 or 1,000,000? If you’re like me, you’ll choose the larger brand (if all other variables are the same).

OK, I want to Improve my Alexa ranking!

There are numerous ways you can improve your Alexa ranking. The main improvement you can make is to create your toolbar and spread it far and wide.

Toolbar

We've found one of the quickest ways to improve your Alexa ranking is to create a custom built toolbar. We've made one already for money advice charity Debt Support Trust.

Test out the Debt Support Trust toolbar by downloading here

By creating your toolbar you can share it will your customers and followers. Alexa will then be able to see how many times people visit your website and improve your Alexa ranking.
Other Routes to Improve Your Alexa Ranking

There are lots of ways you can improve your Alexa ranking. Some of these may depend on your business model, but these include;

Traffic Widgets

You can improve your Alexa ranking by creating traffic widgets for the bottom of your website. You can see it at the bottom of this post. If you want to create your own posts http://www.alexa.com/siteowners/widgets

Social Marketing

Creating additional traffic from people with the Alexa toolbar installed is one way to improve your Alexa ranking. Most people with the Alexa toolbar will be webmasters so social marketing, such as Stumbleupon, will help to improve you social marketing ranking.

Write about Alexa and link back

You can improve your Alexa ranking by writing about Alexa and linking back to your Alexa page. For instance, the Debt Support Trust Alexa page can be found here. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/debtsupporttrust.org.uk

Try to see how quickly you can improve your Alexa ranking.

P.s. when writing this article our North Star Marketing Alexa rank was over 6 million. Let's see what we can improve it to.