‘What is the Fremium principle? – and when is it likely to succeed/fail? ’ – critical review – content management seminar Casey Keppel-Compton

 eBusiness  Comments Off on ‘What is the Fremium principle? – and when is it likely to succeed/fail? ’ – critical review – content management seminar Casey Keppel-Compton
Feb 282011
 
Freemium

Freemium Principle

The Freemium principle, relates to the term coined by venture capitalist Fred Wilson (Fred Wilson (financier) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, n.d.) and it is the basis of the subscription model of media and is one of the most common web business models (Anderson, 2009).  

It can take on the following forms/models:  

  • Time limited (thirty days free, then pay) called “salesforce model”
  • Feature limited (basic version free, more sophisticated version paid example is WordPress model
  • Seat limited (used by up to some number of people for free, more than that is paid) e.g Intuit QuickBooks
  • Customer type limited (small and young companies get it free, bigger and older companies pay example is Microsoft BizSpark

Other good example of freemium – give away low-quality MP3s ,sell high-quality box sets (radiohead), give away demo software, charge for the full version (most video games, you are allowed to ply the first few levels to see if you like it)  

Consider that Freemium as the opposite of the traditional free samples – instead of giving away 5% of your product to sell 95% – you give away 95% of your product to sell 5%.  

This makes financial sense in the online markets where you are selling digital products and the marginal cost is close to zero , so 95% costs little and allows you to reach volume (long end of the tail). The result is that the 5% you convert is 5% of a very big number.  

It has been observed that any company that is entirely or almost entirely based on Free will very likely at some point be replaced by another company (BlackSwan competitor) The Black Swan Theory or Theory of Black Swan Events is a metaphor that encapsulates the concept that The event is a surprise (to the observer) and has a major impact. After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight. (Black swan theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, n.d.). The success of the black swan competitor is based on their skill and speed to market to deliver Free. If they can  build scale and charge less to reach the audience and are differentiated enough and  important enough to the audience they will succeed and they competition will fail. There are many opinions of the success or failure of free ;  

Black Swan

BlackSwan competitor

“Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business” (Anderson, 2009)  

“Free isn’t the future of business, it’s the future of failure.” (Fried, n.d.)  

Where it is likely to succeed   

Sean Ellis, Founder & CEO Freejit (Ellis, n.d.) makes the following observation about successful freemium businesses:  

These basic elements are present  

1) A free version that provides users with a lot of value and at least one premium version that also offers users a lot of value but is clearly differentiated from your free version  

2) Precise metrics-driven execution with a very optimized conversion funnel  

3) Deep understanding of customer perceived value and use cases  

One company that has achieved this is Evernote (Remember Everything | Evernote Corporation, n.d.). Evernote is a two-year-old Web and mobile app and calls itself  “your external brain”. Nearly 3 million + users clip Web articles, take photos, record voice or text notes and store everything in the cloud. Evernote CEO Libin reflects “I wanted a clever product. I wanted that product to reach hundreds of millions of people. And I wanted 99% of them to be using it for free.” Evernote is a great Freemium example of getting it right.Evernote elevator pitch   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmNks09GZ3s&feature=related

Evernote - High Success of Freemium

Evernote - High Success of Freemium

Another good example of Freemium success based on large numbers converting to a profitable base of fee paying customers.

Where it is likely to fail – “Freemium is a numbers game,” “And most companies lose.” Lincoln Murphy, managing director of Sixteen Ventures  

 Phanfare  http://phanfare.comis an online company that offers a service to manage your photos and videos online.The offering was 1GB of storage to free users and unlimited storage to paid users. Classic freemium  (Erlichson, n.d.) and it failed.  

Phanfare

Phanfare - Failure At Freemium

The problems  

Here is what happened.  

  • A surge in registered users.
  • Drastically reduced margins. Customers with less than 1GB but paying our full subscription fee were our most profitable customers. With those at the free level the  margins were down significantly.
  • Lost ability to effectively use CPC search marketing (google). When we had a free trial, it was easy to see which clicks were worth paying for. But with freemium, the conversion funnel was so long (average of nearly a year before the person needed more storage) that any attempt to optimize price per conversion was hopeless. An unmanageable delay in the feedback loop
  • Position as a premium provider lost.
  • Minimal to no network effects to Phanfare which meant that Phanfare participants were low. No social network, just registration of the audience.
  • Advertising did not bring enough profit as the page views per bytes/stored were so low to bring enough revenue to pay the bills  ) that advertising, even if it was welcomed by our user base, would not pay the bills.

 In the end, freemium, for Phanfare did not problem to be a good model because the cost of delivering service to free users was too high. In this scenario freemium proved to be a bad marketing plan for this premium business that was aiming to be a differentiated provider.  

I Want Sandy - Failure of Freemium

I Want Sandy - Failure of Freemium

“I want Sandy” (Sandy — your personal email assistant – System Maintenance, n.d.) http://www.iwantsandy.com/,owned by Rael Dornfest’s company, Values of n, was an automated e-mail assistant which also integrated with Twitter, letting users remotely set reminders while away from their regular e-mail. The company won Webware 100 winner in April 21 2008 but by November 2008 they were acquired by Twitter. Like Six Apart’s acquisition of Pownce, Twitter shut down the business. The offering was Free and the company did not succeed. It is likely if they had charged for their service the revenue achieved could have supported the business.  

In the early stages of a company or product when there is a strong drive to establish the business in the marketplace, Free is a very effective marketing activity. Getting new customers via the Freemium approach works well, and it is because it encourages a lot of new customers to try the product on offer with minimal risk that the end result delivers enough profit to make thing worthwhile. Overtime as the product matures, there are reviews and the general consensus is that it is a good product the need for Free becomes less essential. Analysis of any business’s’ running costs and compared to what financial value a new customer spends is the key to deciding the optimum time period of embracing any Free offering.  

Learning’s of the Freemium for Thesis Project  

The main winners in the Freemium game rely on converting large numbers of customers from Free to Premium, others are Free entirely but again the numbers for success are high and revenue is generated by utilising this following to generate revenue from advertising and other means. The thesis project is a niche player in the online training game and its low projected initial numbers do not bode well for Freemium success. Therefore a more considered approach is required to use Free to gain a following and other “Free” approaches can be borrowed from other successful online training companies.  

One of the non-cognate websites reviewed previously is (Your CPD Net – Website Technology Profile, n.d.) http://www.yourcpd.net/ and they offer a Free 1 hour verifiable CPD course on “Strategy and You” which requires registration,. Gaining registration data allows instant follow up marketing to close sales of further training and this approach should be borrowed. 

Alison http://alison.com/ offers free independent interactive multimedia training courses including health literacy. 

Alison Free Online Training

The site is extremely heavy on ads – left side, top banner and right side of page layout.

Alison - Overwhelming Ads on Training Pages

On sampling the free health literacy course, it is disappointing and is delivered in a dry powerpoint style with ads on every page you read which is distracting. Free training but the quality appeared very low and the constant bombardment of ads was distracting. This delivery and layout is to be avoided but it may be worth considering posting some content free here to drive business to the paid courses. The site invites course developers to offer free content from commercial publishers for a revenue share with respect to the display of targeted advertising on the site.

Our main competitor Hutton (Hutton, n.d.) offers free exercises but does not require any registration and therefore once the Free training is consumed there is no reason for customers to come back and there are no ways of following up potentially highly interested customers, this approach will be avoided.   

In summary, a completely free model will be avoided as the professional style of the site would be diluted by the need for advetising revenue to make the business wash its face. The Freemium approach for Talkmedicalonline will require all customers to register and they will received a free video training session, one free game and one free download of medical terminology (snippet version with offering to purchase the full version at discount). The data received will be used to follow up customers regularly with email newsletter and offerings. 

References  

  1. Anderson, C. (2009) Free, 1st edition, London: Random House Business Books 2009.
  2. Black swan theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, [Online], Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory [26 February 2011].
  3. Ellis, S. Freemium (Free-to-Premium) | Startup Marketing Blog – By Sean Ellis, [Online], Available: http://startup-marketing.com/category/freemium-free-to-premium/ [25 Februrary 2011].
  4. Erlichson, A. Phanfare Blog: Andrew Erlichson Freemium did not work for Phanfare, [Online], Available: http://blog.phanfare.com/2009/07/freemium-did-not-work-for-phanfare/ [25 February 2011].
  5. Fred Wilson (financier) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, [Online], Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Wilson_(financier) [26 February 2011].
  6. Free Online Courses, Workplace Skills Training, Interactive Education and Multimedia Learning | ALISON, [Online], Available: http://alison.com/ [28 February 2011].
  7. Fried, J. Make Money off Your By-Products | Think Vitamin, [Online], Available: http://thinkvitamin.com/web-industry/make-money-off-your-by-products/ [25 February 2011].
  8. HootSuite – Social Media Dashboard for Teams using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, [Online], Available: Hoot Suite Free Social Dashboard [28 February 2011].
  9. Hutton, A. Medical Terminology, [Online], Available: http://www.medterminologyforcare.co.uk/medical/ [18th November 2010].
  10. Remember Everything | Evernote Corporation, [Online], Available: http://www.evernote.com/ [25 Februrary 2011].
  11. Sandy — your personal email assistant – System Maintenance, [Online], Available: http://www.iwantsandy.com/ [25 February 2011].
  12. Your CPD Net – Website Technology Profile, [Online], Available: http://www.yourcpd.net [5 February 2011].
 Posted by at 7:25 pm

Vitruvian principle for Thesis project on Thai B2B website

 Vitruvian principle for Thesis Project  Comments Off on Vitruvian principle for Thesis project on Thai B2B website
Feb 272011
 

South East Asian particularly in Thailand has many resources of supplier, whom specialise in producing wooden furniture and home decoration products. As a result, these types of products have been very popular for many retailers especially from US, UK and Japan, according Thai trade centre in Bangkok. Therefore, online marketing has becoming essential advertising tool for promote Thai products into international market.

Vitruvius is famous roman writer, who asserting his books Da Architechtura. The structure must include three qualities of firmitas, utilitas and venustas. These mean strength (firmness), utility (commodity) and beauty (delight), according to Wikipedia on Vitruvius. Therefore, these forms explained an outlines by Vitruvius.  Furthermore, a Vitruvius principle for website should include “business” form in order to give overall assessment for purpose of being active on the website and the main revenue steam for site’s business owner.

However, I used Vitruvius principle to analysis two cognate and two non-cognate website regard to business, commodity, firmness and delight. These will be relevant to my thesis project in which the purpose of my website is to promote furniture and home decoration products from many suppliers in Thailand into international level.

Cognate websites

Exclusive Thai Decor LTD (ETD)

http://www.exclusivethaidecor.com/

Business

Exclusive Thai Decor LTD (ETD) is both wholesaler and retailers in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. The company manufacture and sell verity of well design Thai furniture and Thai home decoration products. They also export products to both customers and buyers worldwide by using most secure shipping service for international trading. The company’s main revenue streams are mainly from the sales of their products both online and in store.

Commodity

The site has useful navigation system displays different type of product’s categories, shipping information, company’s information, article and sitemap. The information architecture for this site has well organised structure of information, which enhance users experience in finding information or products more easily.

Exclusive Thai Decor LTD is the only Thai website, which has strong used of various methods for online marketing strategy.  The site has integrated with many social media sites such as facebook, twitter, LinkIn and youtube. Moreover, the site has a functionally that allows users to sign up for newsletter, who wish to receive e-mails about new product or special offers.

The navigation bar of Sitemap page is useful for SEO (Search engine optimisation) purpose, as it contains the list of internal link to every web page for the entire website. It also enhanced usability and accessibility standard. The sitemap page has improved user experience, as it provides alternative options for the users to access to any pages within the site more easily. The site also has Partner Links page, which show that the site has exchanged links with others popular Thai websites as part of SEM (search engine marketing) strategy. As the result, this could improve the site’s page rank significantly.

The downside of this website is that, if you click one of the products on the home page. It will change to another page, which consist of shopping cart. This method does not take users to the landing page of the products chosen. Consequently, this could have bad impact on user’s experience on the site.

Firmness

This website is built with XHTML 1.0 Transitional, CSS, and JavaScript for client-side technologies. Furthermore, this site developed with Joomla CMS (Content management system), which has php and MySQL for server-side technologies. Joomla CMS has many useful features such as member login, newsletter, integration with social media sites, dropdown menu navigation bar and much more. Therefore, this site has convinced me to use Joomla cms for my web thesis project.

Delight

The overall design of this website has used Thai art work that applied to the site, which has an impression of Thai aesthetic looks and feels. The background colour has nicely design pattern combination with brown monochromatic colour schemes that look appropriate to the nature of the business. Therefore, the design concept is in the right approach as the majority products on this website are traditional Thai products.

The only criticisms about this website are the hierarchy of information structure, position of images and page layout that appear to be unorganised. Also, these have no clear evidence of using grids system to organise the structure of text and images.

Intress

http://www.intress.net/

Business

Intress.net is well established company in Bangkok, Thailand. They are exporter of woven furniture from Thailand. The website has wide range contemporary design furniture such as furniture for living rooms, dinner room, bed rooms and for gardens. The company has used their website as advertising tool to promote their products worldwide. Their main revenue streams are from the sales of their products within Thailand and from other countries worldwide.

Commodity

The main functionality of this website is the flash slideshow banner on the home page. The technique used of slideshow in flash has interactive movement. Therefore, this could grab attention to the users and it could give impression to the user that the site is well reputable band.

Furthermore, another interesting functionally for this website is called “Catalog Online” which appears on the top right hand corner of the website. This functionality allows the users to interact with catalog in online format. They can enjoy using drag and drop function to change pages to another and allow them to view verity of products within the catalog. Therefore, this has enhanced user experience of the site.

The information architecture of the site has well organised structure on navigation bar. The navigation bar has divided the products into different categories include living room, bedrooms, dining rooms and outdoor.  This has made it easy for the users to find the products on the site.

Firmness

This website is built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for client-side technologies. The site also used PHP web programming in order to create a modular pages. Moreover, the flash slideshows is built in Adobe Flash programme.  

Delight

The over design aspect for this website has very modern looks and feel as the majority of the products on the site contain various contemporary design furniture from Thailand. The image on the technique use in flash slideshow has enhanced an impression of modern design website. This site used mainly brown monochromatic colour schemes, which matched well with the colour of the product’s images and also flash slideshow images.

However, there are some negative points about this site. The font size is a bit too small to read, which does not meet readability standard. The site has poor page layout on the home page with unbalance position vertically on text and images.

Non – Cognate websites

Alibaba

http://www.alibaba.com/

Business

Alibaba.com limited operated as a B2B business-to-business e-commerce company in china and internationally. They are the world’s largest online marketplace for wholesale goods. They provide services that connecting small and medium-sized between buyers and suppliers worldwide. Their main source of income revenue stream is by charging listing fees to the manufactures and trading companies that adverting products on the sites.

Furthermore, Alibaba also earns substantial revenue through the hung “products sourcing trade shows” in China, Hong Kong and other countries every year. However, Alibaba also has other source of revenue steam come from different website called TaoBao.com. This website is the subsidiary of from Alibaba groups; they have been dominated in e-commerce mainly within China. Alibaba is valued at 77.61 billion Hong Kong Dollars (almost $10 billion USD), according to Alibaba website.

Commodity

Alibaba’s website has functionality that is user-friendly to both buyers and suppliers. The Alibaba website has search functionality that allows all users to search for specific products, buyers or suppliers. There is a functionality that allows buyers and supplier to register for member login area. This will allows both buyers and suppliers to list their company profile, manage product listing, access contact list and able to communicate with trade partners in real-time.

The product search box is very useful functionality that allows the buyers to search for specific products. Then, this will display all list of products with supplier’s contact form. This is one an example here. The buyers can e-mail to supplier directly if they are interested to purchase the product. The left navigation bar on the site has list of product’s categories display in alphabetical order. Therefore, this helps the buyers to find the products on the site more quickly and effectively.

Nevertheless, the site also contains forms that allow suppliers to add product’s detail, description and upload products images into the website. Thurs, these data will be transferred to Alibaba’s web database.

Firmness

This website is built in XTML 1.0 Transitional, CSS and JavaScript for client-side technologies.  Moreover, the site also make intensive advance used of PHP and MySQL for server-side technologies, in order to built the functionalities for both suppliers and for buyers such as register form, member login, contact form and upload product’s images and description.

Delight

The overall design of this site has basic used of colours mainly white, black and blue. However, the home page contains the three sliceshow images that have well design typography, combination with great images and verity of background colours. The sliceshow look very professionally well designed and each image has strong business focus targeting to both buyer and supplier visitors. This is a very good example of my thesis project.

The font is colour mainly in dark blue and black colour with white background. The font is also in reasonable size. These make the text easy to read and meet good readability standard.

Hot products section part is very useful to display new product on the home page. Therefore, this could attract user’s attention. This part could make the visitors to re-visit the site to check if there are new products changing.  This could be good ideas to keep buyers coming back to the site.

The only criticism about this site is that page layout does not follow the grids systems.

Puji

http://www.puji.com/

Business

Puji is well established furniture retailer in UK. They sell variety of contemporary teak furniture with eastern inspired accessories handcrafted. Puji selected the best design products from their suppliers and import them mainly from Indonesia. Thurs, majority of the products on Puji’s website has mainly top-quality design, craftsmanship and materials. Their revenue steams are mainly from product’s sales online and in store.

Commodity

Puji website is based in e-commerce website, which allows customers to purchase their products online. The site also customers to make payment online by credit card (Master card, Mastro, Visa and Visa credit card) through sage pay. The site also integrated with social media sites such as facebook and twitter for online marketing purpose. The site also allows customers to register with the Puji’s site so that the customers can reviews the products they have purchased. There is a search box which allows users to search for more specific product, range and code.

The information architecture on the navigation bar is well organise of products categories. The title name of the navigation bar help the customers to find the products they want more quickly. The font colour and size are easy to read.

Firmness

This site builds with XHTML 1.0 Strict, CSS and JavaScript for client-side technologies. The site also integration with shopping cart with the used of php and MySQL for server-side technologies. These will store customer detail and product’s detail on the MySQL database system.

Delight

The overdesign on this website looks clear, modern and professional approach. Despite, the majority of Puji products are mainly from Indonesia, Far East Asian country. However, the design concept of this site is more representing as well established UK company website.

The design page layout of this site has used four columns layout with grids systems to organise the position of text and images. The site also shows strong used of typography on the home page on special offers in order to grab attention to the users.

The colour of this site is many dark brown colours and white background as it matches well with the colour of wooden furniture images. However, the site home page contains lots of products images with products categories name. The images allow user to click, which will bring to users to see more of their products within the website.

Summery

After analysis for both cognate and non-cognate websites, these have given me many useful idea on what I should to implement on my web thesis project and what I should be avoided. Therefore, I selected mainly useful points of each website in order to plan for my own thesis project in relation to Vitruvian principle.

Vitruvian principle plan for Thai furniture B2B website

Business

For web thesis project business plan is to promote furniture and home decorations products from many suppliers in Thailand, by using a website as an advertising tool to reach target buyers internationally. Moreover, the revenue stream will be from advertising revenue from many suppliers within Thailand, who wish to promote their products onto my website. Alibaba website is an example for business plan and revenue stream. However, my website’s objective is more niche markets; it aims to promote only best furniture and home decoration products for every supplier mainly within Thailand.

Community

Alibaba website has useful functionalities that will implement to my sites for supplier and buyers. My plan for my websites is to include supplier’s functionality that allows mainly suppliers in Thailand to register, upload their products images and product’s details.  Moreover, the functionality for buyers is to include products search box and supplier’s contact forms. Thurs, this will allow buyers to e-mail suppliers directly if they are interested to purchase the products.

The website called Exclusive Thai decor LTD is a great example that has many useful functionalities for online marketing purpose such as integration with many social media site and newsletter feature. The information architecture on navigation bar include list of products title and site map page that enhance user experience in finding products and other pages within the site.

Intress website is another great example that has inspired my idea to include flash slideshow banner to my site. Because, I think that flash slideshow banner will make the site looks more interesting and also looks different to other competitor’s site. I also consider having catalog online on my website in future.

Firmness

My site will buid with xhtml, css and Javascript for client-side technologies. The site will used Joomla CMS (Content Management System) to manage product’s images and text within the site. Joomla CMS have many feature that can be useful for my site such as integration with social media site, newsletter, member login, dropdown menu and much more.

Delight

My design plan for Thai furniture website has derived from the design concept of Puji’s site. Because the products of my website will be mainly furniture and home decoration from Thailand and the target users of the website are mainly entrepreneurs of furniture retailers within UK. Therefore, I think Puji web design concept has given me an inspiration to design a Thai furniture website that looks clear, modern and professional approach directly to target users.

 Posted by at 11:45 pm

Keyword Research and Strategy using Wordtracker

 Content Management Seminars, Keyword Strategy  Comments Off on Keyword Research and Strategy using Wordtracker
Feb 262011
 

Keyword research is really important for any website and in finding out your keywords and phrases you can gain a better understanding of your audience and their needs.

In order to find your keywords for your website, a keyword analysis tool would aid you. This research tool gives you the search volumes of the amount of people searching for your keywords or phrases and also gives you other related keywords or phrases that they are searching for. There are different keyword analysis tools, the main one is Google Adwords, which is free. The one I would like to write about today is Wordtracker.

Wordtracker offers a free one week trial with limited features. Monthly subscription costs $69 and yearly subscription costs $379 (pricing as of February 2011).

First of all I would like to mention about how to go about creating a keyword strategy.

Keyword Strategy

    In order to create a strategy with the most important keywords and phrases for our website, we need to be clear as to what the website is for. It will thus be crucial to write an elevator pitch which details why we are creating our website and the value of the site in terms of its business. This will give us an idea of the most important keywords that we must include in our site in order to attract those that are using those search terms.
    Next we must pick a handful of keyword and keyphrases to begin keyword research.
    We then need an indication of search volumes for these keywords, and this is where tools such as Google Adwords and Wordtracker will come into play. Also by using a keyword reserach tool, it will throw up other keywords or phrases that we may not have thought of. It is also best to look up synonyms of our keywords to see whether users may type in a different phrase to answer their queries.
    Competition analysis is also extremely important and part of the analysis should include the keywords that they are targeting and see if there are any keywords that they are not targeting.
    Our strategy will then bring all these elements together to create a hierarchy of the most important keywords for our site.

Keyword research for chineserecipesforall.com using Wordtracker

So Wordtracker is a useful tool which emulates the Google Adwords Tool. You’re able to choose between keywords from Google or from Wordtracker and in any location. I have chosen to find keywords from the Google database and from the UK specifically as I am targeting my site towards UK audiences so I would like to know the terms that they are searching for.

In terms of the results that Wordtracker provides there are different columns that come up in its results.

Search:
The searches column provide figures which show the approximate number of search queries matching your keywords that were performed on the Google search engine and Search Network during the last month, for the territory you chose.

This is equivalent to broad matched “Local Search Volume: Last Available Month” on the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Competition (IAAT):
Competition IAAT stands for ‘In Anchor And Title’.

It tells you how many pages for which the keyword appears in both the title tag and the anchor text of an inbound link. These are two of the most important metrics that search engines use to determine which sites should come top of their results pages.

KEI:
KEI stands for Keyword Effectiveness Index.

The KEI compares the number of searches for a keyword with the number of search results.

This KEI figure will go up when the keyword’s popularity increases, i.e. 100 searchers 1000 results = 1/10, so if the number of searchers increase the resulting KEI will be higher.

This KEI figure will go down when there is more competition for a keyword, i.e. 100 searchers 10000 results = 1/100, if there were more search results (competition) than this KEI number will be lower.

Looking at both the Competition and KEI metrics can help you spot niches with high popularity and low competition.

So in the above example, we see that ‘chinese recipes’ has a KEI of 36,600, thus this is an extremely popular search term, with high competition (in relation to the search volume). So we would not rely on just these keywords to attract search visitors.

However if we look at ‘beef chinese recipes’ and ‘lamb recipes’, they both have a significantly large KEI in proportion to their search volumes with low competition IAAT. Thus they are extremely popular keywords, but with low competition. I would aim to target these in my site.

Once you have searched your keywords for these details you can see the kinds of words that you may want to include into your website as follows:

Related keywords and synonyms:

As well as giving you keyword searches that include the keyword you entered in their system, Wordtracker can give you related keywords that people are searching for (see orange column in first image above). This is useful incase you have missed a certain word that you should be targeting.

You should also look up synonyms for your keywords, which will provide a useful insight into other terms that people may use that are not so obvious.

Competition analysis

Typing into Google your keywords will bring up your competition for those keywords and also the market volume for them. Once you have one this you should:

    Check what words people are typing to get to your competitors (use Alexa.com, Compete.com)
    Check that their SEO tags are optimised with keywords
    Check their inbound links
    Check their page rank

Bringing it all together to form your strategy

Once you have researched into your keywords, your competitor keywords and the search volume for these words these will form your keyword strategy which you should refer to when creating your site. They will influence your information architecture, navigation, links, body content, title tags, meta description and meta keywords.

Please find my powerpoint presentation for this seminar here.

References:

ENGE, E. et al, 2010, The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization, Second Edition, USA, O’Reilly Media
MICHAELGAASSTERLAND, 2010, michielgaasterland.com, Developing a Keyword Strategy. [Online, accessed 21 Feb 2011]
SMITH, J., 2008, Get into Bed with Google: Top Ranking Search Optimisation Techniques, UK, The Infinite Ideas Company Ltd.

 Posted by at 4:56 pm

Keyword Research

 Content Management  Comments Off on Keyword Research
Feb 252011
 

For my seminar this week, I gave a presentation on why keyword research and planning is at the heart of web content planning.

I thought it best to start with a brief description of what keyword research actually is. In short, keyword research is a practice used by web developers and SEO professionals to find and research actual search terms which are entered into search engines.

In a highly competitive market, it is essential for a company to understand the terminology, keywords and phrases that their online target market is using (Wikipedia, 2011), so it is extremely important for a company to conduct extensive keyword research. Keyword research is undoubtedly at the heart of any good SEO/SEM campaign.

What does keyword research help to achieve?

  • It can improve a website’s search ranking (as part of a good SEO/SEM strategy) which should drive much needed traffic to a website.
  • It enables a company to learn more about its customers. What they search for, how they search and the terminology they use.
  • With keyword research you can “predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are already actively seeking.” (SEO Moz, 2010)

Daniel Lew states in his article ‘How Important is Keyword Research?’ that “[k]eyword research can affect your whole online personality.” Businesses have been known to change their angle of attack after finding that their target users are more professional or more relaxed than they thought. This leads to the whole personality of a site being altered to better suit the user and may affect the type of content chosen further down the line.

Basically, conducting effective keyword research could have a huge impact on your online business both now and in the future.

How is keyword research done?

  • You can use online tools such as Google AdWord: Keyword Tool.
  • Google AdWords allows you to insert a website or a word or phrase and it will come up with an extensive list of suggested keywords and phrases.
  • Many webmasters will automatically focus on the keywords which have the largest number of searches, but these often have high competition from other websites, so it may prove more effective to focus on keywords and phrases with medium to low competition.

Once you have decided which keywords and phrases to use/target, they must be implemented into your website. Keywords should be included in the URL if possible, title tags, meta data, headers, the main content, navigation, image filenames, anchor text and alt attributes.

However – it is important to use keywords appropriately. Search engine spiders will discriminate against sites which have placed keywords inappropriately (whether in the text or in the code) in order to try and raise their search ranking.

How does keyword research affect content planning?

  • Keyword research can help a company to really understand their target user. Understanding what they search for and how they search for it can affect the way a website’s content is put together.
  • The website’s tone of voice may be altered in order to suit the target search market. For example, you may discover that your average user is looking for a site that is less formal than you were planning to create.
  • The keywords and phrases you choose to target is likely to affect the content hierarchy of a website.
  • The way navigation is set out – keyword research may enable web designers to help users to reach what they are searching for more effectively. For example, if many users are searching for one particular product, it should feature either on the landing page or be easily found in the main navigation.
  • Content on the website should be planned with careful consideration of where keywords are placed. They should be repeated appropriately.

An example

A couple of weeks ago, I analysed the SEO/SEM of some websites that relate to my thesis project. One of those websites was Crumley Equestrian. This is a business that desperately needs to undertake some keyword research as part of an SEO plan.

Google AdWords suggested keywords and phrases

There are no keywords in the meta data (no information at all actually), all alt tags are empty and no key words or phrases in particular seem to have been targeted. “Horses for sale” is an extensively searched for phrase with a lot of competition. The important of adding a geographical location to this phrase should not be overlooked.

Google AdWords suggests “horses for sale in Sussex” as a phrase for Crumley Equestrian to consider. If Crumley Equestrian were to undertake some keyword research and alter their content accordingly, their SEO would undoubtedly improve and this might ultimately lead to a rise in horse sales.

Conclusion

In conclusion, keyword research and planning is at the heart of content planning because it is a fundamental part of SEO. Keyword research helps a business to understand its target market, allowing it to plan the website content accordingly. Finally, keyword research enables a company to respond to market shifts and build websites tailored to produce the products, services and content that searchers are already seeking.

Keyword research is vital to online business success!

References

Enge, E. Fishkin, R. Spencer, S. and Stricchiola, J., 2010. The Art of SEO. CA, USA: O’Reilly Media.

Lew D., 2010. How Important is Keyword Research? [online] Available at: http://www.danlew.com/how-important-is-keyword-research/ [Accessed 20 February 2011].

SEO Consult, 2010. Is Keyword Research the Most Important Part of SEO? [online] Available at: http://www.seoconsult.com/seoblog/keyword-research-and-search-engine-optimisation/is-keyword-research-the-most-important-part-of-seo.html [Accessed 21 February 2011].

SEO Moz, 2010. The Beginners Guide to SEO: Keyword Research [online] Available at: http://guides.seomoz.org/chapter-5-keyword-research [Accessed 21 February 2011].

Wikipedia, 2011. Keyword research [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyword_research [Accessed 20 February 2011].

 Posted by at 4:40 pm

Vitruvian analysis of cognate / non-cognate websites

 code, Coursework, music, Thesis Project, Uncategorized, Web Design  Comments Off on Vitruvian analysis of cognate / non-cognate websites
Feb 232011
 

The sites I am looking at are:

  • nin.com –  the Nine Inch Nails industrial rock band website and brainchild of founder, Trent Reznor
  • indabamusic.com  – a cloud music collaboration service and social network
  • Subtraction.com – a blog run by a New York designer

Continue reading »

3 Websites – Analysis of SEO

 Coursework, Design, SEO, Uncategorized, Web Design  Comments Off on 3 Websites – Analysis of SEO
Feb 232011
 

For this assignment I will start by looking at a couple of websites that are relevant to my thesis project.

1. nin.com

nin.com is the website of Trent Reznor’s band, Nine Inch Nails. Reznor has pioneered innovative approaches to digital distribution of music as well as allowing non-restrictive interactivity with original audio content. This is particularly relevant to my current thesis project. Continue reading »

Vitruvian Principles – comments on MAGDA post

 Content Management  Comments Off on Vitruvian Principles – comments on MAGDA post
Feb 232011
 

Interesting review of the poster thesis idea by Magda. There is one common theme that I observe is that thegeneral rule of both cognate and non-cognate sites reviewed is that none of them are “niche ” players with respect to the type of art they focus on. I feel that this what would help distinguish your project apart from competitors and would allow the tight focus required to create something very different in the marketplace. I see that  AllPosters.co.uk does try and provide more depth and interest in the way that it provides in depth comment on the subject matter and also reviews by the online audience. This works well but is lost in the swamp of all the different genres and types of art being offered for poster sale. There is ideas to be borrowed from the format offered in the allposters individual picture pages.

The overall busyness of all the websites reviewed does concern me – the worst of the bunch is http://www.gbposters.com/ and the navigation and the choices on offer are too overwhelming. For the thesis I feel that this “bucket of facts approach” should be avoided where a thimble should suffice – so condieder focusing on a few carefully selected genres /designers – a boutique offering could work well. Overwhelming choice can be off putting.

I think it would be worthy of the visual impact of your project to try and borrow the banner heading idea from GB posters (strong (image selection) for each of your main areas – really does work well and worth bulding in.

Good review of sites and would like to see more “boutique” or niche art sites to get a feel for what can be achieved when you narrow the field down.

 Posted by at 10:45 am

Seminar – content management – keyword analysis tool – kc005

 Content Management  Comments Off on Seminar – content management – keyword analysis tool – kc005
Feb 212011
 

“Show how a keyword analysis tool can be used to produce a keyword strategy for your thesis project, and present the strategy graphically”

Keyword analysis is also known as keyword research and “it is one of the most important, valuable and high-return activities in the search engine marketing field” (Enge, 2009).  The keyword analysis tool to be utilised for this review is the updated version of the google search based keyword tool (previously http://www.google.com/sktool/# ) and now found here  https://adwords.google.com. The value of a keyword research tool is that they allow you to retrieve every search phrase that is typed into an engine.

Before any meaningful analysis of keywords can be completed, it is essential to find out what keywords should be selected. There are some simple intuitive methods which are based on traditional approaches which focus on domain expertise and site content analysis. This will be used to kick start the selection of keywords and then a more technical solution involving the use of a keyword analysis tool will be used to augment the final keyword list. The right keywords are not always as might be expected as a number of factors like search volumes, popularity, timing, niche, financial constraints (recession) come into play.

The strategy for meaningful analysis of keywords will follow a logical flow as follows;

Step 1. Prepare list of keyword and keywords phrases

  1. Traditional selection from knowing the business of the thesis web site (brainstorming and using online glossaries (http://www.usingenglish.com/dictionary.html ) Here a list of one – to –three phrases will be gathered that describes our online training offering, consider synonyms with a review of these selected keywords via interview of likely users. Express the findings in an excel sheet
  2. Competitive analysis – Add to the list keywords and phrases that are most used by competitors by researching what they are using and what order of priority they are used in. The seomoz tool term extractor http://www.seomoz.org/term-extractor   is useful for this. Add findings to the excel spreadsheet of keyword results. 

Step 2.  Run these top keywords and phrases through the google keyword analysis tool and use the results to examine what keywords are generating the most search activity and therefore likely to drive visitors to the site. Consider customers from other countries in all activities as long term plans are for worldwide sales. Note that a google adword account is required to get to the detail keyword analysis tool.

To assist with brainstorming of the keyword research it is worth considering how to graphical represent the findings:

Method one – utilise a mind mapping tool – online version can be found  here :http://www.spicynodes.org/a/da975de7558bc3987c66b4fe82e00ef9  . This tool is useful as it produces a graphically representation of keywords and related /suggested keyword searches and allows you to get a visual feel for the main phrases and keywords that potentially will drive business to the site. The   tool allows further brainstorming and review of the overall keyword strategy.

keyword mindmap

Method 2 -utilise google insights http://www.google.com/insights/ – graphical representation of keyword analysis – interest over time, regional interest and other related search terms and rising searches. Using the graphs for each keyword and phrase allows analysis of any key factors in selection and prioritisation .

where searches are coming from

keyword searches

 

Step 3. Build keyword and phrases into content

The final activity is utilization of selected keywords in the thesis HTML and content and the following points are important to overall search engine optimization results, particularly for goggle searching customers:

  • Don’t assume that keywords in your site’s navigation template will be worth anything at all. Google looks for full sentences and paragraphs. Keywords just laying around orphaned on the page are not as much as when used in a sentence Goggle Hacks (Dornfest, 2003)
  • Generally accepted that search engines place the most weight on the words that appear at the start of a title, so the most important keywords should at the start of the title tag, but make sure to avoid keyword stuffing (Dornfest, 2003)
  • Keyword stuffing, which is repetitively placing keywords, in the early days into every HTML tag but now is seen as overuse of the keywords on a given page of content . This disregards usability humans and results in devaluation of your pages and bring search engine penalties and should be avoided (Enge, 2009).  
  • Keyword density is the frequency of a keyword in a page, it’s considered natural if the keyword density is seven percent or lower. Keywords should be included in the copy, but only where they would naturally fir. Search engine penalties are simply too great, to risk stuffing content with keywords (Walter, 2008). Use of a keyword density analyzer tool www.ranks.ni/cgi-bin/ranksni/spider/spider.cgi allows adjustment of both the prominence and density of keywords allowing optimisation of instances on the page. 
  • Placing keywords in your content- some of the most important areas include (Walter, 2008) :     
    • <title>
    • Heading tags especially <h1><h2><h3>
    • <strong> and <em>
    • Link labels
    • File names(logo image file name, external CSS file name)
    • Alt attributes
    • Title attributes
    • Table elements such as <th> , <caption>and the summary attribute
    • <acroynms> and <abbr>
    • First line paragraph of page
    • Meta description
    • Within the URL
    • Avoid keyword cannibalization, this refers to a site’s targeting of popular keyword search phrases on multiple pages, forcing engines to pick which one is most relevant. The effect of this is that a site will compete with itself of ranking and dilutes the ranking power of internal anchor text, external links and keyword relevancy (Enge, 2009). To avoid this you need to do the following :
      • Plot your most important terms on a visual flowchart and note what search terms each page is targeting
      • Where pages feature 2/3/4 word phrases that contain the target search phrase of another page – link back to that page within the content with the appropriate anchor text

Final consideration on the keyword strategy is that it is a living piece of work that required re-visitation on a regular basis to consider new trends, updates to the thesis content/offerings and indeed all new business activity. The flow of keyword research must therefore be repeated again.

References

  1. Dornfest, T.C.&.R. (2003) Google Hacks, 1st edition, O’Reilly & Associates, Inc.
  2. Enge, E. (2009) The Art of SEO Mastering Search Engine Optimization, 1st edition, O’Reilly Media , Inc.
  3. Google Insights for Search, [Online], Available: http://www.google.com/insights/search/# [20 February 2011].
  4. Spicynodes:Home, [Online], Available: http://www.spicynodes.org [20th February 2011].
  5. Walter, A. (2008) Building Findable Websites, 1st edition, Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
 Posted by at 12:35 pm

Vitruvian Principles

 Content Management, Coursework, Thesis Project  Comments Off on Vitruvian Principles
Feb 192011
 

Searching for Vitruvian Principles (Business, Commodity, Firmness, Delight) in cognate and non-cognate websites

COGNATE

GB Posters

Business

This is an online poster shop. Their revenue comes through selling prints, badges and framing services. This a good and clear way of making money.

Commodity

GB Posters is a very complex website but it’s categorized in a clever and logical way. Primary navigation runs across the whole width of the page and also occupies the left sidebar, indicating number of posters available. Besides, under the top one there are also other tabs that link to latest and most popular categories. Secondary navigation, located in the footer, is dedicated to customer services and information about the company.
Header is quite complex because it contains: logo, strap line, basket information, small advertisement, social media and registration links.
I think it’s a good idea to make each section in different colour. It adds a bit of personality to the website. However, I don’t think it’s useful when the colour of the logo changes in relation to a sub-page that is viewed.
I like the fact that main content occupies the middle space and features, promotions, blog feed are moved to the right sidebar.

Firmness

I like the usage of Javascript widget called Lightbox. It allows to view the image full size without moving to another page.
I think that a big advantage of this website are its large blue buttons – calls to action (consistent throughout the whole site) and modern banners that match the overall design.

Delight

The visual design is modern and clear. It communicates in a pleasant way, through logical navigation and good images, the purpose if the website.
I like the fact that each sub-page has it’s own banner which can be treated as a header of each sub-section.
Colours are very vivid and make the site look fresh. I think it also adds a bit of fun and makes the website look ‘cool’.

AllPosters.co.uk

Business

This is another online poster shop. Their revenue comes through selling prints and offering framing services.

Commodity

Primary navigation runs across the header. Categories are also repeated in left sidebar, including a section dedicated to special products. Secondary navigation, located in the footer, contains links to other countries’ sites and information about the company.
Header consists of plenty of information. Main element is occupied by the logo and cart information. The rest, including strap line, contact number, and order details in written in smaller font. Right underneath there is a large search box and main banner. I have the impression it all look a bit cluttered.


I think the way a path on sub-pages is displayed is very clear, logical and user friendly.

The fact that special offers and promotions are moved to the right sidebar keeps main content focus on prints. Each element in the layout has its own purpose.

Firmness

AllPoster uses Javascript to enlarge hovered image. Apart from a picture of viewed poster the box also includes details and an ‘Add to cart’ option. I think it’s brilliant that without clicking and moving to another site we are able to see an image in detail. Besides, providing the viewer with additional information and giving the option of purchase is also good from the business point of view.

The site dedicated to a particual poster has got plenty of useful information (example: Van Gogh, The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum). To me this is a very good example of well-used technology on a website. JQZoom allows magnify easily a web image. ImageFlow, another Javascript plugin, creates a nice and beautiful image gallery – pictures are changed by user.

Delight

In general, I must say I am impressed by the amount of features offered on AllPosters website. They enriched my experience and made it more exciting to browse.
Even though I’m not very keen on the header which seems to spoil the overall design, I like the usage of red and grey to highlight main features.

NON-COGNATE

MycroBurst.com

Business

MycroBurst encourages clients to post paid advertisements for logo and other designs. They offer quick turnaround and great variety of designs submitted online by website users. Although I think it is a good idea to make a clear statement about revenues and to pay someone for his/her effort, I wouldn’t place this information at the very top of the website.
In general, there are a few advertisements on the website. Homepage links to affiliate magazines.

Commodity

The website functions as an online community. It’s aim is to sell graphic design projects online, by organizing competitions and enabling users to submit their projects. I like the way it joins business with designing.
I think the website is currently being redesigned – I can see a slight inconsistency in terms of page layout between the homepage (looks better than the rest) and the other pages. Homepage has got a very logical structure and is easy to navigate.
To me it is a good idea to have two navigations to separate main and most important section from complementary information. There is a primary, very straightforward, navigation which directs to projects and designers. Above in the header there is an option to register and log in. Secondary navigation is located in the footer. It’s far more developed than the top one.
I like the fact that people can also comment on designs and projects.

Firmness

The primary navigation is very useful and clear. Social media buttons are well incorporated to the overall design. Main features are pointed out by putting them inside boxes and large buttons.
Unfortunately main navigation tabs in sub pages aren’t highlighted and a user might feel a bit lost finding a way.
I like the usage of Javascript to zoom in a particular design.

Delight

In general I think the website looks a bit vague. Although I like the combination of light blue and green with grey, there is no identity which will help define the purpose of this website.

AltPick.com

Business

There are a few revenue streams on AltPick:

  1. selling Alternative Pick magazine and books;
  2. offering a list of classifieds;
  3. selling art;
  4. promoting AltPick associations.

I like the idea of having a community website under a name of online business.

Commodity

This is an online community website. Artists create their profiles and update projects. Non-artists users can also register and select what are they interested in. It’s good to put together artists and people who admire their work.
Website looks professional, is very clean and has got a logical layout and navigation. However, main menu is quite long. To me also the font is too small and doesn’t make it prominent and inviting to move forward.
I like the division into main sections on the homepage. It points out in a very clear way what can be find on the website.
I also think the search box ‘Find an artist’ at the top is a very good feature

Firmness

Quite long navigation may cause confusion to the user. I think it would be better to reduce its size to the main options and put the side links into a secondary navigation.
Logo doesn’t link to the homepage, which to me is confusing. Besides, there’s no ‘Home’ tab in the navigation so going back to the main page is quite tricky…

Delight

Although the website looks creative and interesting, I think it doesn’t show its aim in a clear way through images. The choice of colours and layout makes it clear which element is the most important.
I like the serif font used for titles but I’m not very font of MS Trebuchet that is visible inside paragraphs.

Web Design Stuff

Business

Main revenue stream is through advertising – banners can be found on the right sidebar. Web Design Stuff also uses Google AdSense. I like the idea of moving advertisements to the side and not spoiling the main design with large banners.
It also gives a directory of web design agencies and other services.

Commodity

Website has got two navigations. The primary one consists of tabs that link to the main sections, whereas the secondary one consist of directory of related companies etc. I believe this division is very logical and lets separate side information from essential content.
Web Design Stuff is quite content heavy. There are plenty of examples of websites, web design agencies portfolios, directories and also a blog. It all seems well-organized but at the same time looks boring.
I think it gives good examples of users’ feedback in primary and secondary navigation.
It’s interesting that people can suggest sites they admire.

Firmness

Layout and design are consistent and logical throughout the whole site. However, I think it would be more exciting to see this content in more complex layout, rather than as a list of links in one column.

Delight

I like website’s colour scheme. Dark navigation bar and white font makes it clear where to go. Besides, main content is on a light background and stands out from the whole design.
Header suits a website that is related to creativity.
Possibly font size could be a bit larger, especially in articles and lists.

 Posted by at 10:57 pm