A simple question via email from Graeme asking what do I know about marketing on Facebook and Google led to my reply being a bit longer than I expected but as my response flowed out I began to think this is worthwhile for others to read so the email has been transposed into this article. Graeme owns TIS, an electrical Compliance and Testing company.

The initial question from Graeme as he is considering what he wants in his new website was, "D you know much about marketing through facebook and also google??"

In reply I said,

I am allergic to Facebook, I even have it banned on my modem router so I don't have to see all the silly adverts and tracking cookies extra they inflict on you. :)

More seriously though I don't believe the hype and the way it is considered a must have for Business etc. It is all marketing by the people who sell these services and if you think about it if I had your company come out and tag and test my equipment and pay you money, why would I suddenly want to be your friend, and your friends friend.
As a communication channel to your customers I think a 'newsletter' style mail out where you can control the content and image/layout to match your business image is a more professional and less intrusive. If you did work for me and once a month or two i got an email from you with a little bit of useful information, a reminder that I need to keep current and maybe you have a special on for this month I would find that more professional and less of an interruption. Twitter falls into the category also of irrelevant interuptions.

Another aspect is that Facebook is already on the nose for a lot of people in regards to privacy personal information, its business model means the only real way it can make money is to sell your information to 3rd parties, and now with more investors the pressure will be on to do that more. The other thing is ask around your friends and clients and find out how many really use Facebook and you might find it is very few of them. If your target audience is under 30's and you want to engage them to wearing TIS clothing then it would be a different matter, but your clients are not really looking for new friends or becoming socially involved with TIS.

In a way it comes down how often you need to be in touch with your clients and how often they need or want to hear from you and in your business that woulf be on a 6 monthly or yearly cycle so having a FB or twitter presence that works on a Daily cycle would be a lot of work that is working against you.


The Google aspect is generically called SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, and it has spawned its own industry of experts and sharks and there are various disciplines within the scope of SEO. For my part when i build a website I follow what is generally considered the primary techniques to make sure the website is Search Engine Friendly(SEF) and that involves using META values, putting keywords on images, labelling links, tableless HTML with CSS and other aspects that make the website easy to read to the search engines and gives lots of information about what it is you do. I also set up the sites with Google Analytics that is like a information resource about the traffic
and searches coming to your site.

Once the website is built you or I can start looking through the reputable sites where potential clients might be looking for your services and getting an entry and link to your business in there. The big ones are Truelocal, Yellow Page and perhaps industry service directories. Other than time all this is free and links from good websites help your rankings.

The next phase or level of attention becomes Keyword Optimisation which is something I am by now means an expert, but have started getting more knowledgeable about over the past six months. This involves researching what are the keywords people are using to find the sites at the top of your industry and determining what words should be included to again help your rankings. Then as you build up a list of Keywords you back through your website and on each page where it might be relevant try and work whatever Keywords you can back into the text and META and images etc. So while the website was created it might use what we think is the most likely words and at this stage you replace some of them with more targeted keywords with out making your content sounding like an un-natural sales pitch.

There is some logic behind doing the Keywords research beforehand but it is a bit of Chicken and Egg in that until you see the content written down you really don't know where the Keywords are going to fit in and if you write the content based on the Keywords you are going to sound like and cheap Infommercial. There is also the money factor in that you can spend two or three days researching and building up your list of Keywords and there is nothing to touch or see for client, therefore I prefer to build it up in stages and so you get a SEF website up and getting traffic first and somewhere to send potential clients and once it is making money for you then you can spend more to optimise it further for the cold calling from a search engine potential client.

The next level is where the big money is spent, Google Adsense, which I understand to a degree but haven't worked with at all. It is roughly a weekly blind auction for highly sought after keywords that will help you appear in the 'paid for' sections to the right and top of the normal organic Google search results. There is also a belief that pay Google for Adsense keywords will help your position in the organic search as well. Depending on the keyword(s) you are after as to how much it costs and there are business that solely focus on this aspect, because it is the most lucrative, and some are good and others used to sell snake oil.

The thing to understand about SEO and in particular with Google is that nobody really knows the exact criteria for their search algorithm and they do modify to keep a abreast of new tricks by SEO companies to try and cheat the organic search results. So everything, including my view, is based on interpretation, assumptions and experience, and this is why the SEO industry is simple not a case of pay money and my website will be at the top of the list, it doesn't work like that as everyone is competing for the first page or two and not everyone is going to fit.

The generally acepted wisdom, as promoted by Google, is to have

  • Good orignial Content that doesn't appear elsewhere
  • Fresh Content so that Google sees the website is dynamic and changing and they come back more often to visit.
  • Fast and easy to read from a Spider/crawler point of view(visually it can look like crap) as they will come back more often to sites that don't take long to read. For example if they can 20 pages in the one minute they spend on your site then they will prefer you over a site that is going to tie them up for a minute reading only 5 pages.
  • Good site information is the META info, image descriptions, link tags etc. that make it easy for Google to understand what you site is about so it knows which searches are relevant to you.
  • Don't get involved in Keyword stacking, Link Farms, buying content and generally trying to fool Google into being something your are not.
  • Have incoming links from good sources and this can comes from having good fresh content where other sites link to you because you information is better than they could write.
  • And traffic, the more traffic the more popular Google thinks you are the higher up the list you go. Traffic comes by having good fresh content.


To pinch an old saying, "A website is not just for Christmas" you need to work on it over time and not just set and forget it. I build them with a CMS base so if the owners want to take the time invest in the skills and knowledge to work on their sites and keeping the content up to date and fresh they can, or I can do it for them but it does cost and I am really not the best person to be writing content about plumbing , electrics, wine or security doors. I would rather see the website owners start by learning to add content and then i can polish it up for SEO/SEF and then as their own experience grows I am less involved and they are more comfortable.

Regards,
Terry

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