Keyword Research & Web Copywriting

 Content Management  Comments Off on Keyword Research & Web Copywriting
Mar 312012

As a companion to my presentation on Keyword Research and Web Copywriting, this post goes into a bit more detail. I got a lot of the facts I have used here from a very good book, The Art of SEO (which is on our MA reading list) and from the website I believe these to be very good, useful resources that we should get familiar with.

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Conversion Rates: a user on site is worth two in the ether

 DESI1181: Content Management  Comments Off on Conversion Rates: a user on site is worth two in the ether
Mar 312012

What’s that supposed to mean?

This is a look at conversion rates – what they are, how they’re measured and how to improve them. Many web developers focus on increasing traffic – site visitors and total conversions – but the smart ones focus on conversion rates. It pays to make your site more efficient, not just more popular. Read on to find out why.

What is a Conversion Rate?

In eCommerce a conversion is a site visitor who buys something. More broadly, it is a site visitor who completes a desired action – orders a good or service, buys a digital download, subscribes to a newsletter, posts a review, etc.

The conversion rate is the number of conversions out of the total site visitors, expressed as a percentage:

Conversion Rate = (number of conversions ÷ total site visitors) × 100

It is often costly to increase your total site visitors in terms of time and advertising. This cost could be saved and the time better spent improving your website. This would encourage future conversions – return customers as well as new visitors making purchases. To keep this from being a random process you will need to measure the effects of your changes.

How’re they measured?

While there are other options available, I prefer Google’s tools because they’re generally well-designed and easy to use. Also because I already had a Google account.

Google Analytics

Analytics gives you amazingly detailed information about your site visitors. If you manage a website and haven’t used Analytics you should try it the second you finish this post. That goes for the rest of the Webmaster tools too.

  • Site wide page view analysis: allows you to check which pages of your site receive the most visitors and the least, whether certain pages cause users to bounce, where they move the mouse and click. This should direct the changes in design and usability (see below) to ensure potential customers are not lost.
  • Advanced goal definition: set custom conversion targets that are specific to your service.
  • Conversion funnel analysis: in a process like online retailing (view basket, login, payment info, address, etc.) there are a lot of stages where your user can become confused or frustrated and give up. This tool visualises the data giving and instant insight into which part (or parts) of the process are causing users to drop out.
  • Live analytics: real time reports of site visitors – amusing to try if you have a site with regular visitors.

Google Adwords

Adwords campaigns involve a lot of tweaking and testing of keywords, advert text, and landing page design. Depending on the nature of the campaign they’re can also be costly in money and time. Businesses such as eCommerce sites must be sure that they’re not wasting resources on unprofitable activities.

Adwords conversion rates can indicate whether keywords bid are offering value for money and whether an advert is effective at attracting visitors. Once you have attracted a visitor you can again use the conversion rate to measure the effectiveness of the landing page. Used in this way they enable you to monitor and modify each stage independently. Adwords is now integrated with Analytics so all your conversion rates are in one place.

How do I improve them?

With the average rate at a tiny 2.3%, there are many ways to improve your CR. Some are easier, others harder; some expensive, others free; and most should be central considerations of a good web design process. Below is a selection of ways to improve your site and your service.

Understand your user needs and demographics

Analytics and tracking software make a huge amount of data available to help you refine your site. You can make incremental design changes without jumping to conclusions about what your users need. Use demographic data to target your advertising campaigns to make sure you’re not wasting impressions on a non-target audience.

Also be sure to give your users every chance to provide feedback. If you provide a contact form, phone number, post and email address, people will be in touch to tell you what they need.

Users who feel understood will be more likely to buy from you again and recommend your site to others.

Demonstrate your USP

Users have endless options. They can buy anything anywhere anytime so tell them why they should choose you. Understand your Unique Selling Point and show it in every part of your business – the visual design, the copy, and the service. If your users understand you’re offering something that nobody else is, they will be back.

Keep usability and accessibility as priorities

This should be obvious but it regularly needs to be repeated. Keep usability and accessibility as priorities. See? So many websites lose focus on these fundamental aspects of design and lose sales as a result.

  • Usability: sites which are harder to use will frustrate and confuse users more easily and they will simply choose to take their custom elsewhere.
  • Accessibility: of course best practice should be used to ensure your website is accessible to people. It also needs to be accessible to search engine crawlers so your content can be indexed and more easily found.

Maintain user trust

Users will not share any personal information with a website they don’t trust, and they certainly won’t but anything. User trust can be easily lost and, with the number of options available online, once a user is lost they won’t be coming back.

To maintain user trust you must be open, honest, informative and reassuring at every stage of the sales process. Make sure prices (and VAT) are clearly displayed. Include microcopy – short bits of text that give the user comfort about their interaction – pressing a button or entering some information for example.

If a user converts and completes a purchase feeling that they can trust you throughout they are very likely to become a return customer. This can also drive future conversions by improving your reputation through positive word-of-mouth.

Publish content that builds excitement and interest

There are quite a lot of websites. To make yours stand out and encourage return visitors it should be memorable and/or offer value above your competitors. One way to achieve this is to offer unique or exciting content. This is particularly relevant to specialist industries or business-to-business where industry insider knowledge can be offered as an incentive for site visitors to return and convert.

Create goal-oriented design and content

Your users are busy people with a lot of options so your design and content should be crafted to direct them towards the goals you’ve set. Include clear calls-to-action and make sure that microcopy is in place to reassure users that they are on the right track.

User feedback, reviews and testimonials

There is clear evidence that customer feedback can increase sales. They do this by building user trust through independent feedback. Free tools are available to implement user testimonials, e.g. Testimonials Manager for WordPress may achieve this but there are third parties offering a paid-for, independent service which may show more credibility to users.

User incentives for conversion

If you want you users to do something and they’re not doing it, give them more of a reason. This could be anything you think your users would value. A site which focuses on providing great value for money might offer a voucher code for a newsletter signup. An online retailer with a customer review section might simply offer a “trusted reviewer” badge as a reward. Try and be creative and memorable to keep your users coming back, buying and recommending your site.

A note of caution

Conversion rates are certainly an important and very useful measure. They enable us to make changes to our websites that are based on evidence that directly links back to return on investment. But conversion rates can be misleading. Looking at a site-wide conversion rate may give the wrong impression about a business, especially over time, for example:

  • Day 1: (25 sales ÷ 1000 visits) = 2.5%CR
  • Day 2: (10 sales ÷ 100 visits) = 10%CR

These are extreme numbers but they illustrate the point that even though Day 1 had more visits and more sales – i.e. much greater interest from customers and potential customers – Day 2 had a 4x greater conversion rate. Luckily, as noted earlier, analytics software has the capability to report in a very detailed way so you can avoid being misled.

To conclude

Conversion rates are simple but very valuable pieces of information when used cautiously. They can be used as part of the site optimisation strategy which is implemented during testing and continues post-deployment.

By measuring how they change when you alter your designs and content you can be sure that you are making improvements that contribute to the goals of your business to maximise return on investment. This is also true for changes to online advertising campaigns.

There are many ways to improve conversion rates. They should all be considered but their suitability will depend on the nature of the business. Some have been touched on in this post but there are many others to experiment with.

If you’re a web developer or marketer you should already be using a tool to measure your site or advertising campaign statistics. Rather than focussing on increasing total traffic to your site, set some specific goals with an analytics tool and use this information to refine your efforts.

Use conversion rates to make the most of your existing site traffic.

Conversion Rates: The Presentation (Speaker Deck)

Related Posts from the MA Course

 Posted by at 9:55 pm

Freemium (The Extended blog post)

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Mar 312012

Introduction to Freemium Business Model
What is Freemium?
Freemium is a business model in which the owner or service provider offers basic features to users at no cost and charges a premium for supplemental or advanced features.
Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.
The word Freemium is combining the two aspect of the business model “FREE” and “PREMIUM”
Free + Premium = Freemium

And was coined by Jarid Lukin of Alacra in 2006 after venture capitalist Fred Wilson came up with the idea
Chris Anderson (Wired Editor in chief) likened freemium to handing out muffins on the street to entice people to start eating your muffins. But with muffins there’s a significant cost to giving away each muffin. With digital goods, you can give away 90% of your product for free, without any cost for those goods.
He says ‘free users’ aren’t free loaders, and that it’s okay to let the minority (paid users) subsidize the majority. Because the free users will recommend to friends, it’s a great form of marketing. And for those paid users, many of them are very strong customers — they may be price insensitive, with very little churn.
Importantly, this means that freemium is NOT the same thing as “premium with a free sample.”
A restaurant that offers free appetizers is not a freemium business.

Why You Would Go Freemium
There are basically two reasons to go for a freemium business model:
Marketing. By definition, having a free product makes it really easy to get customers. And internet economics make this very attractive, because the marginal cost of every new free users will be very low. Free users can also be good marketing because even though a free user might not convert, they can invite other free users who might.
Network effects. A network effect is what happens when a product or service becomes more valuable the more people use it. A phone isn’t very useful if you can’t call anyone else with it. But once everyone you know has a phone, it becomes a pretty valuable thing to have. If you’re in a market that lends itself to network effects you’re going to want to have a free basic product because if you don’t someone else will and will use the network effects to crush you.

What Freemium Needs To Work
According to Phil Libin (Evernote Founder/CEO Phil Libin –whose Freemium company is very profitable), here’s what you need to be able to do to make freemium work:
• Get lots and lots of free users. It seems obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind. Freemium is a numbers game: if only 1% of your users are going to pay you, then you need to have lots and lots of free users (millions, typically) to make that 1% enough money.
• Get all of these users to stick around. Also important, as we’ll see.
• HAVE A PRODUCT OR SERVICE WHO’S VALUE TO USERS INCREASES WITH TIME. This is the biggest thing that most people miss, hence the caps. The value of your service needs to increase the more people use it. A classic example is Spotify, where you create all your playlists and organize your music. Once you’ve done that, as investor Sean Parker says, “We’ve got you by the balls,” and you’re much more likely to pay up. The value of Spotify to you has gone up from being just music to music, your playlists and your friends’ playlists, so paying starts to make sense.
• Keep costs low. Also seemingly obvious but actually a big deal: freemium works because the marginal cost of each additional user is low, so you need to keep your operating costs correspondingly low. Again, internet economics, through things like open source and the cloud, help, but that’s not going to be true for everyone.
FACT: with Freemium vast majority of your users use your product for free and a minority pay.

Examples of Freemium
For Services
My favorite example of a freemium service is when I was at college. No matter what bar I went to, they were offering free food such as burgers, hot dogs, peanuts or fried chicken in hopes they would have us pay for something premium, that being a beer or a mixed drink. Did this work on us? Every time!
Another famous freemium is that of a Kirby Vacuum. Have you ever had someone come to your door and ask you if they could setup an appointment for them to do a cleaning of a room for free? You either knew what was going to happen or you said to yourself, heck yes!
Well if you made the appointment, you knew a salesman would come in and clean a room in your house with an outstanding vacuum cleaner. After they cleaned your room, you hoped they would do more with this great product but instead, they wanted you to buy it. You either said yes, no, or have them call you back because you are thinking about it (which is a no).
How is this freemium service? It is a freemium service because they are giving you something free, that being a clean room, and they are trying to sell you something at a premium, which is the vacuum.

Freemium for Web 2.0
If you take a look at the ever popular Flickr website, they use freemium too. Flickr lets their free costumers upload their photos and other items for the world to see. The unfortunate thing is that people can only upload an limited amount. If you want the premium service, that being unlimited storage space, you can buy it for an extra 24.95 a year.
There are a lot of freemium Web 2.0 properties on the web today. It is a business model that is not going away!
Free Digital Photos – Giving free small size digital pictures free on a website whilst the standard size one had to be paid for
Trillian – the basic service is free, but there is paid version that is full featured

Freemium for Software
There are more and more freemium software programs coming out each day. One of the most popular ones is well, any anti-virus program. They let you use it with great protection. Take for example AVG Free Anti-Virus. You get a great program if you download it but if you want added protection, you must pay 49.95 per year.

Things to look out for my considering Freemium
It is important that you require as little as possible in the initial customer acquisition process. Asking for a credit card even though you won’t charge anything to it is not a good idea. Even forced registration is a bad idea. You’ll want to do some of this sort of thing once you’ve acquired the customer but not in the initial interaction.
Don’t require any downloads to start. Don’t require plugins. Support every browser with any material market share. Make sure your service works on various flavors of Windows, OSX, and Linux. In short, eliminate all barriers to the initial customer acquisition.
And make sure that whatever the customer gets day one for free, they are always going to get for free. Nothing is more irritating to a potential customer than a “bait and switch” or a retrade of the value proposition.

Does Freemium Work?
It does. You can tell it works because more and more companies are using it especially in the phone and software world.
Danny Rimer, the London-based venture capitalist with Index Venture said Freemium works because you reduce the main stumbling blocks of product adoption. He said web-based users who don’t have to pay for it will often start evangelizing the benefits to others.



 Posted by at 9:40 pm

Forums and Communities on the web

 webstuff  Comments Off on Forums and Communities on the web
Mar 312012

Back to the future

Originally roman forum was a public square, reserved primarily for the vending of goods like marketplace. In addition to its standard function as a marketplace, a forum was a gathering place of great social significance, and often the scene of diverse activities, including political discussions, debates and meetings.

Internet forums perform a function similar to that of dial-up bulletin board systems and Usenet networks that were first created starting in the late 1970s. Early web-based forums date back as far as 1994, with the WITproject from W3 Consortium and starting from this time, many alternatives were created.

An Internet forum is a discussion area on a website. Website members can post discussions and read and respond to posts by other forum members. An Internet forum can be focused on nearly any subject and a sense of an online community, or virtual community, tends to develop among forum members. Continue reading »

Community & Social Media: Facebook for businesses (Extended Blog Post)

 Content Management  Comments Off on Community & Social Media: Facebook for businesses (Extended Blog Post)
Mar 312012

With the development of the Web 2.0, there was the emergence of various online marketing tools, as is the case of social media. Also known as social networks, it can be defined as “tools that allow the sharing of information and creation of communities through online networks of people” (source: Some examples include Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, MySpace and Facebook. This last one, created in February 2004, has already over 500 million users. It is worth analyzing the statistics. Facebook is used by 1 in every 13 people, with over 250 million of them (over 50%) who log in every day. Over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook, 20 million applications are installed per day and over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis, across 2 million websites. Over 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone. 48% of young people said they now get their news through Facebook.

In just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent. Statistics taken from here (

After all, what are the advantages of a business account on Facebook?

  • Create a page is free. This is especially important for small businesses that do not have the budget to pay a web developer.
  • It is easy to create and anyone can update the account.
  • Comment integration can be especially interesting for creating an online social community.
  • The like and share buttons help viral marketing campaigns or the so-called word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.
  • The business-customers interation is more direct, fast and personal. People like dealing with people and through honest answers to customer enquiries / complaints, it is a great opportunity to show your business’s human face and provide an excellent customer service.
  • Unlimited fans.
  • Facebook pages have been showing up high in search engine positions.

How to create an official Facebook page for the business?

To learn how to grow a business with Facebook’s marketing tools see, Here,, is where Facebook Inc. updates the community on Facebook Page upgrades. To create a Facebook page for your business, you must be logged in your personal Facebook account and follow these steps, First, there are 6 categories in which the business can be inserted and later you can choose something very specific to that category. If you want to change the category in the future, you can do it. Unlike the name that will be seen within the URL of your Facebook page (extremely important for SEO). The next step is the customization of the page.

  1. profile picture: is the representation of the page in an image. In searches, the icon chosen is one of the first things that attracts  users’ eyes.
  2. about section: brief description of what the business is about.
  3. likes: ideal to promote and associate all your other pages.
  4. page title and category: 25 likes are required before can be used as URL however, you are only able to edit the name of the page if you have 100 or less fans. Afterwards, it is permanent. The category can be edited anytime.
  5. page body: where you post new information and have feedback from others.
  6. administrative links: only the admin can see them. Facebook Ads (the pay-per-click program), notifications, Facebook statistics and suggestions of friendship are part of this area.

The final step is to publish the page.

If happens what the image below shows, check if you are already a fan of your own page (a page with 0 fans will not be published) and make sure you have published some content in the body area. You must post regularly, your posts should be useful and interesting and use all media you have available (videos, photos, text).

Should you create a Facebook group or a Facebook fan page?

Before answering this question, it is necessary to analyze the characteristics of each. A Facebook fan page is static, like a web page. It gets updated by you, as a blog or a website. According to the settings, it may not allow users posts. The right use for it is to promote your small business, your personal website or something you have legal rights to. In other hand, a Facebook group is like a message board. It does not support Facebook Markup Language (FBML) neither Facebook Apps, so it is not as interactive as could be. It gets moderated by you and the conversations are posted by you and other members. It is central around calendar events and updates and it is moderated by you. The right use is for a cause, a local community or a discussion forum.

For a business, you should create a Facebook fan page. Why?

  • Pages get internal promotion on
  • Pages have more options for customization
    Groups seem chat rooms where there is no real look and feel. Pages are customizable by addition of new tabs, graphs, static information.
  • Search Engine Visibility
    Pages can be seen by non-Facebook users and can be found by search engines. Facebook groups can not.
  • Anonymity
    Pages are completely anonymous. Nobody will know that you are the owner, unless you inform users.
  • Groups can be annoying
    You will get an email every time someone comments under your comment. This is a default setting. In pages this also happens but groups are more like chat rooms than pages.

How to promote a Facebook page?

Facebook has its own search engine. Fan pages are important as the results show all Facebook fan pages at the top. Facebook uses an algorithm just like all search engines. Facebook pages that are constantly updated (contributions from fans are also valid) and continue getting fans (especially ones who interact with the page) will appear higher in Facebook page search results. This has nothing to do with the number of fans that each page has.

There are several ways to advertise the new Facebook business page. One is through social networking such as tumblr, youtube, wordpress, vimeo, flickr, linkedin, orkut, myspace and many others. Another is to suggest it to your friends via facebook option. And a third is put a Facebook like box on your blog, It is a widget that you can access through the administrator menu of your page, This is a good practice due to the fact that the number of fans and the direct link to your facebook page are visible, making it easier to share your page or website.

You can also include a share button to your website posts and include the URL in your e-mail signature.

Facebook page analytics

Facebook has analytics for Facebook pages. There are five main components.

  1. This week’s statistics: This is a brief of what happened this week in terms of page fans liking, commenting and posting on your page wall. The more activity the page has, higher will be the numbers. Would be a good idea to invest in your brand’s personality through interacting with customers through social media.
  2. Interactions graph: This graph takes your weekly statistics and puts them in graph form. The drop-down gives you options for interactions, interactions per post, post quality, posts, discussion posts, reviews and mentions.
  3. Demographics: It lets you see which gender, male or female, and age group is most engaged with your Facebook Page.
  4. Fan Data Chart: This chart gives you a visual representation of total vs. unsubscribed fans. The additional drop-down options include new/removed fans, top countries, page views, etc.
  5. Fan Data Demographics: This bar-chart version of the data mentioned in the Fan Data Chart gives you the same data, but in numerical format. It also includes gender and age.

However, these analytics are only available when Facebook considers your page to have significant number of fans and interactions.

Some examples of successful businesses with presence on Facebook.


Pringles differs itself by using one of the most shared online content, the video. It captures the fans through notification of new content, discussions and interactive games. They found out that their type of audience reacts well to comedy and now use the Facebook page to spread funny videos with viral potential. It is free advertising.


The main focus of Starbucks is the constant status update. A page with new content always gives the fans a reason to return. This page is a great example of how the focus on quality of content, rather than applications, can also result in high involvement of the fans. The content is generated by the company and the fans.

In addition, defining the approach is important because the Facebook page should transmits what the business is in real life. Special offers and competitions are two possible approaches to give a good reason to like your page or to maintain followers.

In conclusion, apart from the personal use that most people do from Facebook, this is a tremendously valuable business tool.



 Posted by at 12:19 pm

Sponsored Links – Extended Blog

 My Blog  Comments Off on Sponsored Links – Extended Blog
Mar 312012

Sponsored Links



“A keyword advertising system in which ads appear as “sponsored links” on the Google results pages as well as the results pages of Google’s partners, such as AOL and The advertiser chooses keywords and a short one- or two-line text ad, which is displayed on the results pages when the ad keywords match up with the search keywords”


The Beginnings and the History, Google,


1998 – Google was born, originally named as “Backrub” Google was created by two students from Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.


2000 – Google introduces AdWords, keeping in the trend of others like ASK by listing them in the right hand side under the banner of “Sponsored Links”


2008 – Google started to factor in the loading times of the main landing pages of those ads/links that appeared in the searches. The over all quality score of the ad/link also influenced the position of the ads/links on the Google pages in addition to the calculation of the keywords minimum bid.


2010 – Google Renames the “Sponsored Links” to “Ads” it is rumored that this change from Sponsored to Ad’s increased the CTR (click through rates) by approximately 11.4 % – Monday, November 15th, 2010 by Alec Green

2010 – Google’s total revenue from AdWords was rumored to be in the region of 28 Billion US Dollars (“Financial Tables”. Google Investor Relations. Retrieved 2008-01-31.


How It Works

Google’s search engine works on the criteria that the user query’s it with, these search criteria will generate what Google call “MOMMENTS OF RELEVENCE”


The Google Adwords service allows webmasters to search for keywords that will enable the products, services or sites to appear in the sponsored links/ads sections. Google provide a simple web based program that will help and enable webmasters to find keywords or phrases with very little difficulty in order to find the keywords that will increase the sites exposure.


Considering the keyword choice is a factor that can improve the quality scoring of a site, which in turn can reduce the costs of the adverts.


The Auction.

Google uses a system to display Sponsored Links/Ads, this operates similarly to an auction, the sponsored links that are due to be served up to the user searching, are entered in to a bidding process where a number of factors are taken in to consideration, the primary one is based up what known as a quality score.  Some of the criteria that affect the quality score are, The relevance of the advertisement to the search criteria, i.e. Hats on a search for Cakes shaped like hats, The relevance of the keywords to the Sponsored Link/Ad, the relevance to the landing page to its Sponsored Link/Ad, historical Pay Per Click (PPC) Click Through Rate (CTR) of the Sponsored Link/Ad.

Figure 1. Google Auction cycle,


The Costs of Poor Keywords in Quality Scores.

The cost to company’s that use a poor keyword strategy is that they could find that the quality score that they receive is very poor. An example of poor keyword selection would be along the lines of the following, A Cake shop that wants to sell cakes used the keyword “Cakes” isn’t going to do very well, however if the webmaster was to use “Popping Candy Christening Cakes” this would. If this Sponsored link/Ad was to appear in the top of the page the person is more likely to click on this as it is more specific to their search and because of this it could convert to a purchase.



Google Recommendations

  1. Use keywords 2-3 words long, – try not to be too specific,
  2. Use negative keywords, – don’t include the ad if some one was to include the word cheep
  3. Use the Keyword tool – the free tool provided by Google.

What’s the Cost?

How much will it cost, who gets paid! It is important for the Webmaster to understand the costs per click (CPC) made on any sponsored link/ad that is displayed and clicked on as this is what is going to cost the owner of the site actual cash. The Owner of the site is able to set the levels in what they are prepared to pay for every click through that is made, this can be set through the Google Adwords account that the webmaster and owner has access to.

The CPC option available allows the Webmaster to enter a “Maximum CPC bid” this is representative of the highest amount that will ever be paid for a click through made.

Google’s Helping Hand

The associated cost implications for the PPC (Pay Per Click) can be a deterrent to some small business, however Google are very helpful and offer to people/companies the sign up a £60.00 credit in their account to try the system out.

The Final Result

Once the auctions have been won


Organic Links Vs. Sponsored Links

What are Organic Links? Why use Sponsored Links over Organic? The previous questions are what most people new to optimizing their web performance results ask.

The organic listings are based around the content and use of keywords related and contained within the content, the uniqueness of the content, the frequency of update’s made to the information on the site, the number of inward bound links to the site.

Obviously this takes time for a new site to achieve and therefore move up the listing on a search engine, especially Google. Over time, yes this is very important top achieve but for a new site it is harder, especially when establishing the inward bound links between sites.

The cost of the organic listings are low as this is more about time invested rather than actual pounds shillings and pence, whereas sponsored listing are


Yahoo Sponsored Links

Yahoo like Google offers the facility of having a sponsored link. Yahoo operate a very similar system of displaying the ads/links to the visiting/searching user but with one difference, Yahoo use three areas of displaying sponsored links and ads this is spaced above the organic listings (similar to Google) to the right of the organic listings (again similar to Google), but however Yahoo unlike Google place sponsored links and ads at the bottom of the organically listed results. This increases the opportunity for the company’s that have used the service to be displayed on the results pages. However this could lead to a negative result as this will mean that there is more competition on the sponsored results and organic results. This would also mean that the webmaster on implementing this service would need to carefully select “Killer Key Words” to enable the pages to be listed often to give a more substantial chance of receiving a click through.


Yahoo’s steps for creating a sponsored link is as follows, (as recommended in the instructional video supplied by yahoo)

  1. Selection of “Highly Relevant Key Words” to the site.
  2. Creation of the ad which consists of a Title, Description (this is a short description that best matches the company’s products and services) and finally the URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
  3. Set the price for the ad, this is the PPC amount, which is the maximum that the Webmaster is prepared to pay.

As with Google, Yahoo do not charge the owners of the sponsored ads if they are displayed on the results pages of some one searching for a particular item, they only get charged if the user clicks on the ad.


Not Just Yahoo!

The service supplied by Yahoo doesn’t just relate to Yahoo! Yahoo are in partnership with Bing and other search engine, this enables the Webmaster and the client the ability to cover a number of popular search engines and services that are used.

How It Works

As mentioned before the Yahoo system uses ad’s that comprise of, Title, Description and Url, and these are served to the person searching based on the keywords used in their search. However the ad that is served can change from time to time as the web master can create “ad groups” the Webmaster can create upto 20 unique ads that meet the guidelines, these ads will then be rotated for the keywords that related to that ad group. One option available to the Webmaster is that the most successful ad from the group be displayed more oftern. Another option availble is that the bidded keyword that featured in the users search criteria be dynamically insterted in to the ad that is dispayed, in its title and or description.

Not as Clear as It Seems

Yahoo’s pages relating to the sponsord links are not very intelegable for any prospective Webmaster or client, this could be inpart due to the colaboration between Microsoft and Yahoo and the links between the systems. After doing some searching it appears that you have to sign up through Microsoft, once registered the screen below is presented to the Webmaster.



This is very similar to that of the Google dashboard allowing the user to create their own campaigns and use tools to search and test keyword popularity.

And again, as with Google, Yahoo allow the Webmaster to set their own budget requirements for each ad and campaign.



To evaluate the Sponsored link/Ad topic, these systems will enable the client/organization to market themselves and their company through the strategic selection of keywords relating to their product and services and connecting these to created ads and sponsored links that will be positioned on search engine results pages.


Though this system small and new business’s can improve their corporate presence on  the internet and increase their market brands to new and potential customers and suppliers.

There are many systems available, such as Google Adwords and Yahoo’s Sponsored Search, both offering similar schemes but with some differences. It would be suggested that to raise an organizations image and brand that the Webmaster would use both these systems as this would cover a extremely wide range of individuals that use these search engines, as they are in the top 5 of those used.


 Posted by at 11:46 am

Google Analytics

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Mar 312012

Google Analytics (GA) is a free programme from Google that allows traffic to a website to be monitored and analysed. A vast amount of data is gathered and broken down. Key tracking data includes how many visitors a site has, what visitors are looking at, how long visitors stay on a site, what the bounce rate is and what the conversion rate is.

GA collates how many visitors a site has over a given period. This is further broken down to how many are new and how many are returning visitors. GA breaks down where traffic comes from by country, providing a map of the world with the percentage of users per country. This can then be additionally broken down by city.  It can also display which browser the majority of visitors to a site are using. This can be incredibly useful for determining if older browsers need to be catered for as a priority. It also reports on which device is being most widely used to view a site e.g. desktop, iPad, mobile etc. allowing a site to be optimised for the most widely used. GA is able to report on how visitors got to a site. Did they come directly by using the web address? Were they directed from another site and if so, which site? Did they come via a search engine and if so what keywords did they use? Enabling the webmaster to see what marketing strategies have been most effective; whether it is their keyword strategy or Ad words and so on. There is a site overlay function that displays what traffic different parts of a site have received by hovering the mouse over it. Informing the webmaster where key information should be placed on a page in order to increase the chances of it being read.

GA illustrates which pages are most popular and what the average number of pages a visitor to a site looks at. There is even a function called visitor flow that demonstrates the path that visitors take through a website; indicating whether the navigation is a help or hindrance to achieving certain goals. It presents the average time each visitor spends on the site as a whole as well as on particular pages. It’s worth noting that the way that GA does this is by calculating the time between clicking on two different pages on a site. So the time spent on the last page that a user looks at cannot be calculated. It allows the webmaster to see what the bounce rate is i.e. how many people are only looking at one page on a website before immediately exiting. This is therefore less useful on blog sites as typically people just read the latest post. However in other cases it might suggest that the keywords are misleading or the homepage isn’t engaging. GA displays a timeline that not only compares one month with the preceding month(s) but breaks down how many visits a site received on any given day. A particular period in time can be selected and compared with that same period the previous year or that particular time last month and so on. As of November 2011 GA also provides real time analytics giving live updates of visitor activity.

GA facilitates the setting up of goals and displays what percentage of visitors reach a particular goal; whether that’s buying something, looking at a particular article or filling out a registration form. Custom reports can be designed using filters to focus on a particular dimension within GA e.g. focus on a particular location that people are visiting from and analyse time spent on site, bounce rate etc. Enabling analysis as to whether particular campaigns are working better than others. All reports can be easily exported and emailed. Goal funnels map out the path to conversion enabling analysis of when and where a process is abandoned by a visitor. Suggesting parts of the process that may be too long or unconvincing e.g. can a visitor see how far through the process they are; does a site look secure at the point of entering payment details and so on.

The above is a breakdown of some of the key features of GA and by no means an exhaustive list. All the data is displayed in a variety of easy to read graphs. It is easily installed on any website through signing up for a GA account by providing an email and web address. A short piece of JavaScript is provided that then needs to be placed in every page or linked to in the <head>. A filter can then be added to remove the administrators’ computer from the analysis ensuring that the data isn’t skewed by the person running the website.

GA can be linked to a site’s Google Ad Words via the Ad Words account. It is then advisable to set up goals and assign monetary values to them. This might not be suitable for every site but it enables analytics to show return on investment and what the goal conversion rate is. If linked to Ad Words GA is then also able to show how many times an ad was shown compared to how many times it was clicked on. The total cost of the traffic and the average cost per click and compare it to how much was made from those clicks, giving an overall return on investment. GA can go so far as to break down return per click and return on investment down to the keyword used. This can be a fantastic guide as to what keywords should and shouldn’t be used in a campaign. It sends automatic alerts if there is a sudden spike in the number of click throughs from an ad and custom alerts can be set up e.g.  To monitor traffic from a particular campaign or site and inform the webmaster when a particular target has been reached.

For Ecommerce sites you need to add a short script to your ecommerce transaction page in addition to the standard Google analytics tracking code. Sales can then be tracked and analysed in a number of different ways. Visits to purchase reports can be produced calculating how many visits a visitor generated before they converted to a sale. This can be compared with time to purchase reports to better understand how much time passes between a visitor’s initial visit and their “conversion” visit. If visitors tend to visit several times before purchasing, it may be worth getting them to register with an email address so that targeted marketing can be sent.

There are lots of other web analytics tools out there. Chart Beat is an alternative free analytics option. A key feature is the real time analytics which constantly update. This is particularly useful for seeing the immediate impact of new blogs or tweets on traffic to a site, beyond this it’s necessity largely depends on how ‘of the moment’ a site is. This is less of a pull away from GA since they also introduced real time analytics towards the end of last year. Another key feature of Chart Beat is Scroll Mapping which enables the webmaster to see how far down a site a visitor scrolled and where they paused/ focused their attention. Hitstats is another free service which offers all of the basic functions of GA but doesn’t appear to enable such easy reporting and comparisons or the benefit of linking to Ad Words. Some reviews also suggest that it is not as accurate as GA. Woopra is a pay for option, $12 – $150 per month depending on which package is chosen. A few of the key features are: that it enables the monitoring of multiple websites simultaneously in a tabbed window; It can provide an audible alert when a particular tagged visitor returns to the site; it can send a notification to a mobile phone each time a sale is made along with the customer name, product and amount of sale. Woopra has been developed by former Google employees and received some very good reviews. Overall it seems so have slightly clearer interfaces than GA but doesn’t appear to do anything special enough to warrant a fee unless analysis is needed for a large company with several websites.

So does Google Analytics improve websites? Yes, if you use it properly says Steve Chou author of the website My Wife Quit Her Job which offers advice on getting started in Ecommerce. Steve and his wife set up their online business and as sales were coming in they assumed their website was doing a good job. It was only upon inspection of their GA that they realised they were losing a huge number of customers at key parts of the online selling process. For example by setting up a sales/ goal funnel report they discovered their cart abandonment rate was huge, particularly at the point when people went to put in their card details. This inspired them to add testimonials from satisfied customers to the side bar of the payment page and increase the number of security badges and trust logos. Almost instantly their sales increased as customers felt more comfortable handing over their details. Through GA they also discovered that customers were dropping off due a poor search results function and at the point when they were asked to register an account with the website. Again both of these things could be easily rectified by loosening the search terms and making registration optional. These improvements increased sales drastically. Without web analytics they would never have known how easily they could improve sales on their website.

When used intelligently Google Analytics can be an incredibly powerful tool for guiding a webmaster as to how to improve a site; both in terms of user experience and increasing the goal conversion rate. All websites should take advantage of this free, easy to use tool to further develop their website.


Analytics and Competitor Research Extended Blog Post

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Mar 302012

Analytics and Competitor Research Extended Blog Post


The Analytics and Competitor Research Definition:

Definition: Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service


Why is it Important to Understand who Competitors are?

It is very important to understand the meaning of competitor research and what it can achieve. For example you can discover who your key rivals are, how they accomplish their rankings and the moves that make them successful!

I discovered the quote below and found it very relevant.


Just as you do for your own brand, it is YOUR job to be on top of what your competitors are doing, LISTEN and be attentive of what is being said about them. YOU need to be aware of what they are doing well and what they are doing not-so-well.” (

Search engines are useful tools to help identify your competitors. I found for example that if you simply enter ‘Avery Hill shops’ and note top 20-30 you can discover who your competitors are! It is recommended that you check all major search engines. For example Google, Bing or Yahoo! (Bing now owns Yahoo!) Ask Jeeves, Aol etc. As sometimes new information can be revealed not all search engines provide the same data in the same ranking so it is important to be thorough.


Where to Start? – Competitor Research

First it is important to look at the competitor sites yourself. What’s good and bad? What do you like? What do you hate? What doesn’t work? What annoyed you? What is the aim of the site? EVERYTHING!

What links do they have? Keywords – long tailed? “calls to action” – e.g. sign up here, buy now!

Analyse all the key metrics available to get a full understanding of what they are doing and what is working or not.

Look at other media – TV, radio, newspaper, direct mailing etc – what else are they doing?

Really try to get inside the head of your competitors!


Competitor Research – Keep an Eye on Business!

To expand your business, it is important to keep an eye on your rivals regularly. You cannot avoid the fact that they are after the same customers. If it is watched on an on going basis you get to know their behaviour and can predict what is likely to happen. Then strategies could be planned, so that you win customers (not steal) from competitors. Also there are techniques to get jobs well done for next-to-nothing!

No doubt that research projects should begin with a simple Google search or visiting rivals websites. There are also a variety of tools supplied by Google or other search engines. The following tools are very good keeping an eye on your competition.


  • SpuFu – Very Good assets used to research, which keywords as well Adword items that competitors purchase


  • Google offers a free tool called Google Trends. This site shows traffic and estimates country locations. It can also use the top 10 related keywords as well as giving data for fairly high traffic websites. Google also offers Insights. This can use keyword trends, hot keywords and top geographic regions by keywords.


  • Google Alerts is a content monitoring service, which automatically notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and or discussion groups matches a set of search terms selected by the user and stored in the Google Alerts service.

There are also some great ways (as well as cheap) to use for checking up on your competitors online or offline. A good way is to check regularly what analyst firms are announcing about the industry as well as organisations and advocacy groups. These companies are researching and studying formats to evaluate your competitors. Other sites that can be used to find information about rivals include: Alexa, Complete, Keyword Spy and Hoover.


Competitive Intelligence Analysis

Speaking to customers is one of the best as well as cheapest ways of receiving and gathering real information about competitors. Whenever you win a new customer ask them who it was that they used to use before, as well as why they switched to you. For example why they were dissatisfied with the previous supplier. If you gather enough of this information, you will become very clear on what customers prefer. You can then adjust the offers to beat the rivals.

Attending industry trade shows as well as conferences and joining industry associations can be a great way to learn about who competitors are, as well as what they offer.

Attending conventions and visiting competitors’ booths, then observing the interactions with customers and checking the quality of the products can be very helpful.


Panel-Based Measurement

A group of people are recruited to form a panel. Their behaviour on the Internet is watched and the information is analyzed.

ISP-Based Measurement

Data is gathered-up from different ISPs around the world. This data is combined and supplied for analysis.


Search Engine Data

Increasingly top search engines, for example Google and MSN are allowing entry to data, which they have collected. It is also free!

With Hitwise many details about your online rivals can be discovered. Using the program you will have the ability to measure the traffic that you are gaining and compare that to you competitors. It would show you at a glance the companies that you are against and you cannot only see your performance industry wise. You can also create a separate table just showing your rivals key information.

You will even be able to see where visitors go next after leaving your site!

Free Tools



Is a free website that shows the Traffic trends for competing websites. One site, which covers the same, is, but it offers a paid search analysis tool as well.


Shows traffic & demographic trends, as well as details and downloading a list of their top 1million websites. Overall it’s a helpful site, which I would recommend.

Is helpful for finding out the age of a site’s archive by using Wayback Machine,. Screenshots can be shown of the way that the site’s home page used to look.


Paid Tools


Is a competitive research program, which covers AdWords, keyword value & volume and other features as well. The company, which own SEMRush also own SEOQuake, WhoRush

(Formerly AdSpy) and used to run SEODigger.

The program Ahrefs offers SERP ranking data & link data.

Searches analytics and shows keywords that send competing sites the most traffic. HitWise

Is similar to and searches analytics. The problem is it can cost from $0 (unlikely) to over $100,000!

A great site for showing keywords that competitors are buying is KeyCompete. KeywordSpy

Is also extremely good and can be used for showing keywords, but with more data!


Covers in the paid terms, showing terms of competitors, buy or rank for organic search engines.




Nine Facts that can be discovered using Google Analytics

1. How many people have been visiting your website.

2. The keywords that are being used to uncover your site on search engines.

3. Which website, passed them on them to you.

4. The first page that they saw.

5. How long they were on your site.

6. How many pages they visited.

7. The last page they were on.

8. The geographic location of your visitors.

9.Which browser the blog readers used.



The Three Important Web Analytics Outcomes

  • Increasing Revenue
  • Reducing The Company Costs
  • Expanding Customers’ Satisfaction




Outline of a Process

It is difficult to decide, which link-building strategy to use because of how open you are to choices. A well-organised approach may help to decide which are the best choices for the website. Below is an example.


Sites That Could Link 

  • Noncompeting sites in your market space
  • Major media sites
  • Bloggers
  • Universities and colleges
  • Government sites
  • Sites, which link to your competitors
  • Related hobbyist sites


Find Out Where Rivals Find Links

To receive a list of companies, who links to your competitors website is easy! There are several sites that you can look it up on. These are: linkscape, majesticseo, linkdiagnosis. Each of these will give you a list of your competitors’ sites.

Yahoo! Site Explorer used to be another site that showed who links to rivals, but now it has closed as it has been taken over by Bing. It isn’t a problem as the data supplied by their website didn’t ever keep up to the standards of the other website available. It was always more limited.

When you have that data, take a look at the strongest links that they have (as measured by PageRank or mozRank / mozTrust) to identify opportunities for you website.


SEO Usage and Demographics

In UK there are around 90,000 searches (and growing) on search engines every minute! Measurability, return and investment are all better online than offline.

88% of males and 86% of females in United Kingdom say they find the information that they are searching for!

Younger women are more likely than younger men to be online; older men are more likely than older women to be online: 86% of women ages 18-29 are online, compared with 80% of men that age. On the other hand, 34% of men 65 and older use the internet, compared with 21% of women that age.

A study in USA 2009 by EightFoldLogic revealed that now 78.43% of search engine traffic uses Google.

SEO Marketing

SEO can be very helpful in various forms of marketing from lead generation. Direct marketing, branding to managing one’s reputation.


Branding: –

Using the search data to stay on top of your brand and other results to boost brand recognition and authority.

Ensure also that you get your brand to the top of the search rankings as this has a positive impact and perceived authority for your brand.


Lead Generation: –

Use when you do not have an ecommerce transaction to rely on. In order to attract traffic you will need a good external link to other sites as well as on site optimisation with other parts of your website (with good anchor text) to ensure direction to the appropriate area.


Reputation Management: –

This is a key factor as your identity and worth is so valuable.

If for example you received negative comments you would obtain other postings higher up the search to push down the negative reviews. This is a powerful way to ensure your reputation is not harmed.


SEOQuake Features:



The whois site shows a lot of information about websites and who created them. For example the IP address of the creators.


The Alexa tool ranks the global viewing popularity of the site you visit. When the site’s Alexa link is simply clicked on under the SEOQuake toolbar some other features from the Alexa site are shown on an official page.


Under what is called ‘Age’ it tells the viewer how old the archive of the company is. It is usually similar to the company’s age. If that section of the toolbar is clicked, it will take you to waybackmachine, where some archive screen-shots can be seen.


A lot of different features from SEMrush are featured on SEOQuake.


SEO Programs:

This is my favourite, I would recommend having a look.
I thought looked highly professional, but it costs $79 month, which is very expensive. But it does have some very useful free features.

Another program that I would definitely recommend is SEOMoz! There are free trials on the website, but you need to remember to cancel! It is very expensive, so if you forget for example it goes from Pro, which is $99 month, up-to Pro Plus $199 month, up-to Pro Elite $499 month!

Another site, which gives out lots of information, is Linkdiagnosis and it is free!

It is also very expensive when you buy SEOBook. It is $300, but there is also a free 7 day trial which I am signing up for! You get quite a lot from it including you are able to download a few vouchers for top websites. Also when people who are not signed up there is a lot of information that can be read.

Another site that looks very professional is Searchengineland. I would recommend it to people, on the down side it is $199 a year, but there is a lot to see! Again if you want to sign up for the trial, you need to remember to cancel it in time!


SEO Household Usage Data

It was reported by ComScore that the number of search queries on the Internet in December 2008 was roughly 12.6 million. They also announced that on a certain day in January 2009 just fewer than 79 million people in the USA were using a search engine. The users were slightly more likely to be women than men (50.4% vs. 49.6%).

ComScore also reported that the Internet usage usually increases with a household’s income.

Below is an example:


$15,000 – $24,999         …         5,792

$25,000 – $39,999         …         16,108

$40,000 – $59,999         …         39,716
$60,000 – $74,999         …         20,947

$75,000 – $99,999         …         28,995
$ 100,000 or more         …         44,627


In the ‘info’ areas of SEO people may look at your site and then leave, but there is quite a big chance that they will come back.


Internet Search Breaks-down

This test below is showing how searches on the Internet breaks-down into subjects and popularity


Social Media Connection

Twitter and Facebook can be used to search competitor’s messages! It is also good to see customer’s comments, company’s replies to their followers and supporter reactions. There is the option to see how many followers your rivals have, and then it is a good idea to try to out do those! On the social media sites you can look for business info to see if they promote discounts, share articles, fun facts, videos and photos etc

LinkedIn is also a great site for finding information about the competition! For example research, sales, company growth and graphs. Also employees should be connected to the company, you can then find out their names and other information about them

But my favourite option of all is to see what has been successful for rivals on the social media sites and then copy and improve it!

Blogs are another great idea to follow your competitors and their fans on. Through that you will hear a lot of news!


It is also a good idea to keep an eye on your competitors on Yelp or other similar social media / programs to connect with businesses. This will help you to stay one step ahead of them!

Facebook Analytics is another very well made program. It is used to analyse data from adverts which are added to Facebook.

Return on investment for social media is still mainly anecdotal – companies invest time and money to check metrics such as brand awareness reach etc. But the main benefit of social media still seems to be overwhelmingly to attract new traffic to the site.

It is still beneficial to take, as many learning’s as possible from social media and combine this with other key metrics such as on-site behaviour and offline customer data to provide a more complete picture.


How this would help you Manage your site? – Summary

Make sure that you keep your features on top form and match your competitors in quality! (If possible better!)

Ideas can also be found from your competitors!

In web analytics it is much better to offer for analysis and planning within the organisation

– BUT need context – competitive data and context from outside …

– Optimise marketing strategy

– Develop competitive advantage

– Analysis of the past – as an aid to better planning and decision making in the future

Make sure you are just as popular with users as your rivals, if you can even more so. So try to keep your eyes on them at all times!

Make sure nobody changes their mind and leaves the site without buying a product, which they were going to.


Analytics Books and Blogs – I Recommend

The analytics books, which I have recommended are the two by Aninash Kaushik. The one that I would advise most strongly would be ‘Web Analytics 2.0’, but I would also suggest his other analytics book called ‘Web Analytics An Hour A Day’.

His blog is also very helpful, sometimes more so! It could be because there is a greater variety of different subjects, so I would strongly recommend it. The blog address is

For SEO I would recommend the blog –


Additional Learnings from Lesson: –


Feedback / Comments on my presentation: –


Others: –

–       Liked the basic structure & content of the presentation

–       Could have added more detail on analytics

–       Further analysis on SEO would have been helpful


Myself: –

–             Agree with feedback from others – this would have strengthened my research (will add to extended blog)

–             The importance of clear, well structured research to really understand the market and how competitors are operating.

–             This is also really useful to help you to understand how you can best structure your own site.


Other Class Member Presentations: –

–             Good to experience many different styles and structures of presentation. This will help me with my future projects.

–             Wide range of subjects discussed and as each person had a different topic we covered a ‘lot of ground’. This helped to build my knowledge of tools such as Google Webmaster, Ecommerce and Content Strategy.

–             I also found the section on advertising through social media useful as a live example of buying an ad was demonstrated in class.