Organic Listings

“So what is it that you actually do?”

Hmmm. I’ve heard that question a lot recently.

Basically, most businesses spend a lot of money on advertising in media that has been around for a long time. Strategies that they understand. Physical directories in book form or local newspapers. It’s expensive but, historically, it’s had a relatively good success rate.

Over the last few years, these traditional methods of advertising have experienced strong competition from online services which offer a similar product on the internet. Again, it’s expensive, but if someone comes round offering to provide you with your own website and the marketing to go with it, if you don’t understand computers, you bite off their arm.

However, whilst these companies can be very successful in getting your company ranked on Google, they are in it for themselves, not for your business.

This means that, in many cases, the Google juice acquired from the website that bears your name actually goes to the advertising company. The data relating to ‘your’ website is, often, either too generic to give your company any real help or actually drives the Google spiders towards their website. A lot of the time, this is because the people designing those websites don’t understand how meta data or keywords work.

Another way of advertising is to use Google Adwords. Specific keywords that relate to your business and which are given a monetary value that you agree to pay every time someone clicks on that link.

"organic-listings"So, on the Google search pages, the top two or three returns will be ‘paid’ or ‘sponsored’ links. As will all those in the right hand column. If anyone clicks on them, the companies to whom they link pay Google the agreed amount, a figure which varies depending on how high up the listing you want to be. The url at the top will have agreed to pay the most money every time that link is clicked.

The other links on the page are known as organic listings.

These are sites that the Google spiders, scouring the internet on your behalf, have decided are the best match to the terms of your search.

In days gone by, the sponsored links would get as many as 30% of any clicks on the page. However, recent data shows that only 2-3% of searchers actually click on the paid listings at the top of the page and only 1-2% for the column on the right-hand side.

Averaged out this means that if you’re spending as much money as you possibly can advertising on Google Adwords, you’re still only able to get 4-5% of the available clicks on that page.

This is because the general public are becoming more internet-savvy. We now know about the composition of the page and that the person at the top of the paid listings might not be the cheapest or, indeed, the best. More and more, we are turning to the free organic listings which are decided through popularity.

As a website owner with a site optimised for a specific keyword, you want your business to show up in the top ten results on that page.

The site at position Number One will get as many as 45% of any available clicks.

Position Number Two will receive between 11 and 18%.

7-15% of users will plump for the url situated at Position Number Three.

Sites ranking from 4th to 9th will get 2% of the clicks – equalling the performance of the best paid rankings at the top of the page but without any monetary input. That’s right, they get the same number of clicks for free.

Curiously, because people ‘scroll’ down, the site in 10th place is better placed than the six sites ranked above it, achieving 3% of the page’s interest.

So that’s what I want to achieve for my clients – front page ranking for their chosen keyword but, better still, getting them slotted into the top three or tenth spot on the free organic listings.

And, I tell you this for nothing, I’m a hell of a lot cheaper than Google Adwords.

I Don’t Speak Geek

"i-dont-speak-geek"It’s no good, I have to admit it.

Despite aspirations to the contrary, I find computer technology really difficult.

I just don’t speak Geek with any fluency.

Being a woman, I am not necessarily the most logical of humans. Being this woman, I find it extremely hard to try to translate what a techie is saying from Geek into English.

As I explained to the computer guys at my new hosting company, who are busy writing manuals to assist new users, you have to remember that newbies are not only not competent, they are actually more likely to be incompetent in terms of working with computers.

When producing a help guide, you have to write in words of one syllable and never take any level of understanding for granted. Even down to logging in where necessary.

And then, after you’ve proof read your document, you need to find a non-Geek to work through the instructions and test that they can be followed.

Most software manufacturers do not do this. And I have fallen foul of their inability to explain clearly on numerous occasions since I first started to become involved in Internet Marketing.

I’ve spent two days now trying to change a site from one hosting company to another. That, in itself, would not have been too difficult. What’s causing the problem is that I have a lot of sites that I want to put on one account – I’m far too thrifty to consider shelling out for separate hosting for each of my sites when I can get them all together for one smaller payment plus a bit of techie work on my part.

The guys at the hosting company did offer to do it for me but the problem with that is that you never learn from that arrangement. It’s not that I want to become a techie, just that I want to have a better grounding than I do currently – so some bloke can’t tap me on the head, patronisingly, at a future date and try to blind me with science – as plumbers and electricians have done regularly on the domestic front.

I guess, at the end of the day, that I want to be able to offer a properly rounded service to my clients. Sure, I will learn how to delegate those things that I’m not so good at in order to focus on my strengths.

But I also think it is very important to have a working knowledge of all areas so that anyone I employ to help me cannot ‘extract the proverbial’…

Anyway, with my usual tenacious determination, I will persevere and, by the end of the week, I will understand how the new WordPress template works with multi-users… and, as a result, I will have improved my understanding of the platform generally.

Onwards and upwards… with a few frustrated curses for good measure.

Vegan’s Diet

"vegans-diet"I had my ‘accompanied shop at Waitrose’ today.

Since they took over what used to be the local Somerfield, local shopping has become so much more pleasurable. Sure, I love to use the local stores – and Greens Health Food Shop in particular – but shopping at Waitrose is such a civilised experience.

It is cool, calm and collected with relaxed, helpful staff and a real variety of produce – both exotic and every day.

So, when I saw the advert asking for applications to take part in an ‘accompanied shop’, I jumped at the chance.

My initial understanding was that it would be a ‘free’ shop and I had visions of Dale Winton and Supermarket Sweep as I made my way down the organic meat aisle using my widespread arms to hoover up antibiotic-free, fairtrade consumables.

However, as it transpired, I was followed around by the silent Sue, who took a lot of notes at my various moments of indecision or calculation. At times it was a little unnerving as she scribbled down comments on my selections.

I think the main reason I was chosen for the gig was because I do a lot of shopping for some very different dietary requirements. I have teenagers who need to be tempted with delicacies that will encourage them to stray from their traditional foodstuffs of pizza and pasta. But I also have my own predilection for avoiding all foods containing yeast, processed wheat and sugar, which precludes a whole raft of pre-prepared ready meals. And then there is my regular visitor who follows a vegans diet. (Apostrophe deliberately not used for keyword purposes – before you tut about my punctuation.)

So, just to recap, that’s no meat, no eggs, no fish, no dairy, no wheat, no sugar, no yeast – you can see the problem.

The adults tend to eat a lot of vegetables and pulses, which the kids would find abhorrent.

To be honest, when I was first introduced to the idea of a vegan diet, I thought I would starve. But, whilst there is no way I could become a full-time vegan, due to my love of a nice little lamb chop from time to time (organic, of course), I have discovered a whole range of meals that the old me would never have considered. Wild rice, couscous, quinoa, sweet potato noodles, corn pasta, bulgar wheat, pearl barley and the ubiquitous lentil. They all provide a nutritious and delicious base to a variety of recipes which can be adapted to suit both the vegan and the carnivore.

As a result, I spend a lot of time scouring the ingredients in the deli section, working out who can – or will – or might be persuaded to – consume unusual combinations of falafals and stuffed vineleaves and the like. This is what I love about my local Waitrose – even though it is a fairly small supermarket, it has a big range of interesting products from all over the world designed to spice up the standard meat and two veg of the normal British weekday dinner.

The reason they indulge in these little experiments is to assess ways in which they can improve customer service, store lay-out and product placement, and the appeal of current stock.

It was great to be able to chat to Sue afterwards about my reasoning for choosing one item over another and for not selecting from the fresh produce stand – I hadn’t even noticed the fresh fish counter! To be able to put forward my pet bugbears like not putting sugar in the tomato pasta sauce, not putting egg or milk into all the deli products and producing vegetarian/vegan friendly ready meals that don’t automatically include cheese was a great opportunity to vent a major frustration.

And then to get £30 off my next shop.

What’s not to like?

Women Small Business Owners

It’s been a fairly exciting day… if a little mundane in places… and my poor client has been inundated with free listing sites trying to make him upgrade to a paying package.

That’s the downside of the process of getting to the front page of Google for your chosen keyword. The phone rings a lot and not necessarily with interested customers.

Looking at the success of the strategy in terms of quick success, I know that I shall have to do it for my own business. The problem is that I don’t have a shop front that I can use as an address. All the listings seem to require a physical presence and I really don’t want my home address and phone number plastered all over the web in conjunction with my name. The privacy vs publicity factor must be a concern for a lot of women small business owners – especially at a time when there can be so many strange people about.

I have the registered address of the business, but that is in London so no good really for local listing purposes.

I considered asking one of my clients if I could use their address for this purpose, since they are all nearby but most of the listings specify that only one listing is allowed per address.

In the end I spoke with one of the listing companies and they have said that the town and postcode will be sufficient for my purpose.

So, even though this still leaves me feeling rather exposed, I see no option but to go ahead on this basis.

I need more area-focused publicity to showcase what I am trying to do for my local businesses.