For a lot of people the thought of starting a ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ program can be daunting. All we hear is “Get me to Number 1 on Google!” But it’s time to face reality – it just ain’t that straight forward.

For a practical understanding of ‘some’ of the steps involved in optimising your website for search engines I asked Zaw Win to put together a checklist of the steps he / we follow when working on a program for a new client.

If you’ve ever been down this path, you’ll see this covers the basics, and if you’re an expert in this area you’ll know there are probably a hundred more things we could have listed. But we wanted to keep this list snappy. For the more extensive version of what’s involved ‘google’ any of this information on Google :) Or watch one of Matt Cutt’s videos in Googles Webmaster Tools.

So to kick off, here’s a summary of the steps we follow at the beginning of a Search Engine Optimisation Program;

PREPARATION

Things we will need from you;

  • A minimum of 2 x competitor websites
  • At least 3 x main keywords you want to rank for

INITIAL ACTIVITIES

Activities we will initiate;

*1. Install Google Analytics tracking code*

This provides fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they
arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back.

*2. Set up a Google webmaster tools account to learn and fix any errors
that may be preventing search engines from crawling your site effectively. *

The Google Webmaster Tools will provide detailed reports on your pages’
and visibility on Google.

This will enable us to see how Google crawls and indexes your site and we can learn
about specific problems they may be having accessing it.

In addition, we can find out which Google search queries are driving traffic to
your site.

*3. Keyword research*

Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return
activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the “right” keywords
can make or break your website.

It’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the
right kind of visitors.

Those keywords can be used when writing copy for new pages or when editing existing pages.

*4. Rewriting meta tags with targeted keywords for main pages*

When you search something in Google, you will see the list of search
results. Each has title and short description – these are referred to as meta
tags.

A meta title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a
particular page is.

A page’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a
summary of what the page is about.

*5. Image optimisation*

Image-related information can be provided for by using the “alt” attribute.

The “alt” attribute allows you to specify alternative text for an image if it cannot be displayed for some reason.

From an SEO perspective, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link.

*6. Implement ‘h1′ tags on each page to emphasise important text

*7. Apply ‘nofollow’ attribute *

This is simply to tell search engines that certain links on your site shouldn’t
be followed or to pass your page’s reputation to the pages that it links to (i.e not giving any page ranking credit to the linked page).

*8. Generate an XML sitemap and submit it to Google to educate them about your site
structure*

To share the information about your site with search engines we can inform them of your pages with an XML sitemap file. This can be submitted through Google’s Webmaster tools, which in turn makes it easier for Google to discover the pages on your site.

*9. Create an image sitemap file and submit it to Google *

Sitemaps are an invaluable resource for search engines. They can highlight
the important content on a site and allow crawlers to quickly discover it.
Images are an important element of many sites and search engines could
equally benefit from knowing which images you consider important.

*10. Set up robots.txt*

To restrict crawling where it’s not needed. A “robots.txt” file tells
search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your
site.

*11. Generate search engine friendly URLs*

Having a human readable URL helps search engines to understand more
about your page.

ONGOING ACTIVITIES

To continuously improve your online presence and generate enquiries and more online sales there are a number of activities that can be undertaken. Of most importance is getting the foundations in place so it becomes easier to maintain and roll-out either daily, weekly or monthly.

Ranking strongly within Search Engines is a zero-sum game. You want to know who your competitors are, and on what keywords they are ranking strongly on so that you can either outperform them, or remain in a highly ranked position.

Over recent months, and across 2013 there has been a heavy emphasis on providing original, fresh content and ‘social’ sharing. The important elements of being seen as an ‘authoritative site’, with link-backs from other high reputational sites still remain an important factor but Google have introduced a number of changes focused on rewarding sites that are seen to be adding true value back to the website visitor and online google ‘searcher’.

The goal is to be focused and consistent, whilst speaking the language of your end user (customers) and in a well structured manner for search engines.

Here are a range of activities to include in an ongoing Search Engine Optimisation plan:

- Link building (this can be achieved using different ‘white hat’ strategies)
- Content creation (creating a blog, providing original content)
- Promoting your website through other mediums (e.g other blog sites, social media, newsletters etc.)
- Local + Global Directory submission (identifying priority sources)
- Blog commenting (commenting on other blogs with a reference back to you as the original source)
- Forum participation (participating in online forums
- Continuing to unique page titles and descriptions (maintenance of good SEO practices)
- Page building (adding new & fresh sources of content)

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Taking the first step towards mastering online marketing.

You have an idea, you’ve been reading lots of books and you can’t get it out of your mind…“Retire Young, Retire Rich” “4-day working week”. Sound like you? Or someone you know?

I am quite surprised by how often I hear this and how often I spot that ‘look’. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just a projection of myself, whether I’m searching for assurances myself, or if it’s the circles I’ve been moving in.

But then again, no suprises here – EtradingGroup was formed on the back of setting up an online business and leveraging these skills to help others do the same.

Do I have any words wisdom for you? Can I help you as you tackle the menagerie of choices in front of you?

Of course, here are my 3 key things;

1. Educate and empower yourself
2. Take the first step
3. Manage your risk

Educate and empower yourself
I’ve been working a lot with people who have either had a lot of corporate experience and are looking to set up their first venture, or with people who have been in business for some time but are now starting to get more serious about their options for online marketing.

So there do tend to be a lot of questions and a process of discovery. This is also the reason why people gravitate towards someone, or a business they trust or has been recommended to them. I also see a little bit of anxiety, in the sense of ‘not knowing what you don’t know’.

For this reason I’ve put education and awareness high on the priority list. Do enough research to make you feel comfortable about your options. But at the same time don’t go overboard as this is not a D.I.Y operation, i.e you are not the person who is expected to know and do everything, but you are the final decision maker in terms of what projects go ahead – Yes, No, How About.

Take the first step
Here’s another one for you. Have you also been in a position where you’ve read and read and read, and asked so many questions until you (or that other person) are blue in the face. Once again, you’re not alone. But – questions and answers are only going to get you so far – I know, what a cliché’. This place of inertia is something I’ve seen over and over again and I know there are a number of things contributing to this. Time, money, knowledge, finding the right solution. But at the end of the day, if you do nothing, ahem… nothing will happen.

To help you get over ‘action’ indecision it’s probably worth considering point number 3 I’m about to make.

Manage your risk
I’ve spent a little bit of time in the Banking Industry (so something had to rub off on me huh). One very large factor in assessing financial decisions is balancing the risk-reward equation. If I do this, then what is the potential maximum ‘gain’ and what is the potential maximum ‘loss’.

To spur you into action, it’s this point where you should be looking at the upside of moving forward, whilst minimizing your exposure if there is a ‘belief’ that things may not go to plan, examples may include, spending too much money, not getting the final design you wanted, not reaching enough clients, not knowing how to maintain your online assets.. plainly…things just not aligning with your master plan.

Clearly, you’re the only one that can determine your risk factor.

But it is for this reason that I’ve recommended assessing these 3 factors. 1 – educate yourself, 2 – take the first step, 3 – manage your risk-reward.

There are a number of opportunities to open yourself to new channels of marketing & ways of raising awareness for your business. Or for some, it’s about creating stand-alone online entities that operate as windows of commerce.

As part of the ETradingGroup blog series I would love the opportunity to keep you informed on ways you can market your business online. This will include the following topics and use examples and case studies of ‘how to’. Plus I’ll haul in the heavies when I need to (subject matter experts).

  • Developing your online business idea
  • Creating your digital marketing plan
  • Branding
  • Website development
  • Content development
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Email marketing
  • Automating your business

All the best

Here if you need us (yes, I know it’s a passive sign-off – but I’d rather have your buy-in – it’s just a blog)

Aroha
Director, ETradingGroup

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Marketing your business

Posted by Comment (0) January 29th, 2013

The Rule of Seven is a term used which says that a prospect needs to see or hear about you at least seven times before they take action.

Essentially, it is an ongoing process of marketing & communication that aids the sales process.

The best analogy I can think of is one I’m sure we can all relate to – just think back (..far back) to the dating and courting stages. For example, it starts with awareness (hi..look at me), interest (..pick me, pick me), desire (..I’m the one that you want) and finally action. Then in between all of this are messages to keep each other ‘top of mind’, and for the courter (or courtee) multiple communication channels are being used throughout. See.. the marketing process is not that far off from the dating process, especially in todays world of multi-channel communication!

But back to Marketing your products and services. Why do people need to hear your messages so many times before they take action? You’ve got a great product, you’ve told a few people about it. So what next and what’s getting in the way of that next great sale.

Let’s break it down even further:

Here’s some great advice from an article standing the test of time.

Source & Extract from: http://thebabyboomerentrepreneur.com/category/information-marketing/.

1. Noise

In today’s world, people are being bombarded with messages constantly. It is truly difficult to get past all this noise and be heard.

The first few times someone sees your message its likely it won’t completely register with them. We all have marketing blinders we’ve built up over time – otherwise we’d be overwhelmed with the constant noise from businesses clamoring to be heard. It’s no different with your prospects. They’re not sitting around waiting for you to show up. They’re busy living their lives and you may not even be a blip on their radar.

2. They don’t need you … yet

Even if you’ve closely targeted the right people, they may not need your product or service today. And if they only see your marketing message once, it’s not likely they’ll remember you tomorrow or next week or next year when they suddenly do need you. When it comes to marketing out of sight is definitely out of mind.

3. They’re worried about the price

In these troubled economic times, price may very well be an issue. However, objections about price are usually code for “I’m not really sure I need/want your product”. If someone really wants what you have to offer, it’s amazing how quickly they’ll figure out how to pay for it.

If a prospect sees your message and is interested but worried about money, it just means you haven’t quite convinced them of the value of your offer. The good news is you’ve gotten past the noise. If they continue to see powerful marketing messages from you, they may get closer to seeing your value and forgetting about their price concerns. That’s why you need to keep marketing.

4. The main reason: they don’t know, like and trust you

The real reason people don’t buy the first time they run across your marketing message is they don’t know you from a hole in the ground. Remember what I said about noise. It’s not just there are too many messages; there are too many messages that aren’t true.

Do you take every commercial, flyer or email marketing message at face value? Or do you have your own personal BS meter that’s shouting “yea, right” when someone makes a claim? Of course you do. I do to. If someone wants to sell to me, they need to prove they can do what they say.

This is the real truth about the Rule of Seven. It takes time for people to get to know you – remember your name, your offer, your message. Once they know you, they need time to get to like you – and your business. Over time, they’ll eventually start to trust you. Once they trust you – trust that you’re honest and provide true value – then, and only then, will they be ready to buy.

How long does this process take? Probably not in seven contacts. It really depends; it depends on the value of your offer, how badly they need it and how many charlatans they’ve run across before.

How do you use the Rule of Seven in your marketing plan?

First, never rely on only one type of marketing method. Even if you are getting stellar results today, that might change in the future. Think of internet marketing. Email used to be much more effective than it is today. That’s why the spammers got involved. Now with spam filters, it’s harder for legitimate marketing to get through.

The same may be true of other marketing methods. Some factor outside your control may change how easily you can reach your prospects. So even if you have discovered a method that is getting you all the customers you can handle, add a couple of other tools to your marketing toolbox to ensure you don’t get blindsided by unexpected changes.

The Rule of Seven is why “information marketing” is so effective. By providing free information to your prospects on a regular basis, you are building a solid relationship. Information offered in a newsletter or blog doesn’t set off alarms because it’s not a sales pitch; it’s a genuine attempt to educate and help.

Finally, simplify or automate the process as best you can. Too many entrepreneurs only market sporadically because they are “too busy” to market themselves. Then they wonder why they don’t have enough clients. Set aside regular times to engage in marketing activities, even when you’re busy. If you continue marketing even when you’re busy, you’ll have fewer slow times.

Here’s a snapshot of what CEO’s think of this “thing” called social media and the impact on their business.

The data, recently released by IBM is based on the views of 1,700 CEO’s across 64 countries and in a nutshell it highlights that the king pins of business are not as ivory towered as one may think.

Currently 16% of CEO’s use social media as a primary way to interact with customers, but over the next 3-5 years they predict this will increase to a whopping 57%. Face-face and sales force interactions are currently the No.1 platform for customer interaction (at 80%), but this drops slightly to 60%. The largest decline in customer engagement over the next 3-5 years is predicted to be in traditional media, dropping back from 39% to 15%.

There is already a little eye brow raising over this “thing” called social media and with a few shouting “get me some of that!” vs “agghh too hard”. However it does feel like the rallying has already begun as CEO’s, business owners and those fronting your sales and marketing look beyond the traditional to new ways of doing things. I can raise my hand (ever so cautiously of course) to vouch for the fact that the effective use of social media can be a superb opportunity to create meaningful engagement between your brand and your customers and perhaps even more powerfully between customer-to-customer.

Take a look at this infographic and see if you agree.

Source:  IBM - A study of 1,700 CEO’s in 64 countries

CEO's view of social media

CEO

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The cloud, the cloud

Posted by Comment (0) April 8th, 2012

Oi you…yes you.. have you got your head in the cloud or what? We don’t blame you if you do, but is it the good cloud, or a cloud with your head under a pillow.

I’m going to be a straight shooter here and answer the question you’ve been wanting to know..

What the “#$%bleep” is cloud computing?

In layman terms, without scientific testing of my answers “..it’s the delivery of a computing product as a service. It’s something you would typically subscribe to rather than have a piece of software downloaded and installed onto your individual P.C or network”. The provider of the service (e.g Salesforce.com, Basecamphq.com) is responsible for the creation of the product as well as the central hosting and I.T requirements for this service.

What are some examples of cloud computing?

Salesforce.com or Zoho.com are examples of subscription services where you can  subscribe to their services and set up a CRM or sales force monitoring program. The data you enter (e.g your customer list) is stored within your account (i.e viewed by you only), but is hosted on the suppliers servers and networks. The service provider (e.g Salesforce or Zoho) is responsible for product upgrades and the IT infrastructures supporting the management and storage of their services – this is probably where the term “stored in the cloud” comes from. The hosting is with them, not you.

Why would I want this?

Cloud computing and the various services offered by many suppliers is not for everyone. BUT a vast majority of businesses and companies are increasingly seeing the benefits. There are cost benefits (e.g minimal cost of monthly service programs vs customised/bespoke services). There are speed benefits (things can be up and running about as fast as the extent of your research and ability to use their sign up forms). There are support benefits, e.g they have teams of software developers responsible for the efficiency of the service they deliver, and not only that as many of these services have thousands (or millions) of customers they hear soon enough if something in their service needs to be fixed.

How Has ETradingGroup used the Cloud and So What?

In setting up ETradingGroup.com.au and then TradieExchange.com.au we used multiple cloud services. We did this for 4 main reasons:

1) Efficiencies for our business(s)

2) Cost to subscribe

3) Speed to implement

4) Collaboration – we needed to manage projects with people situated in different locations

Examples of services we use (or have used and tested) include; Basecamphq, Zoho, Salesforce.com, CampaignMonitor, Invoicemachine, Oliveapps.

We certainly have a number of hi-tech high security things we store within our own network, but the above are good examples of services we have found to be ‘fit for purpose’ and about right for our needs at the time needed.

So with much ado, and a multitude of opportunities ahead of you – we would recommend you take a look at alternative ways of doing business. Speak to others, do your research and take the opportunity to trial some of the offers so you can decide where or if there is a good fit.

We have worked with many start-up businesses and are having increasingly more discussions in this area. Not because we offer this as a service but because people just want to know how they can run their business more efficiently, or want to launch their start-up with efficiency and speed. We are in no way super experts in this field, we’ve just had practical experience and a bit of trial and error working through the services that suit us best. We wish all new businesses the best of success and encourage you to look ahead at how to maximise your opportunities within the world of online and e-commerce.

Found This Video On YouTube… Explaining the “Cloud”

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Spreading the Word

Posted by Comment (0) August 30th, 2011

Life’s too short. And for some it’s even shorter and we don’t know why…

The team at ETradingGroup are proud as punch to be driving the Social Media crusade for the Stay In Bed Day campaign. Find out more about it here and how you can get involved.

On Sunday 25 September people all over the world will stay in bed to raise awareness and much-needed funds for mito disease, a debilitating and potentially fatal genetic disorder that affects children and adults and has few treatments and no cure.

There are several ways you can get involved and contribute to Stay In Bed Day. Register to become a fundraiser and have your family and friends donate money on your behalf. Can’t spend the day in bed? Sponsor somebody who is. Or make a donation online.

Mitochondria are the power houses of the cell providing the body with over 90% of the energy it needs to sustain life. Mitochondria take in sugars and proteins from the food we eat and produce energy called ATP that our bodies use to function properly. Mitochondrial disease (mito) is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that reduces the ability of the mitochondria to produce this energy. When the mitochondria are not working properly, cells begin to die until eventually whole organ systems fail and the patient’s life itself is compromised.

The above information is intended as a general guide to help you understand the symptoms of mitochondrial disease and where to go for support and help. It is not intended as a substitute for your practitioner’s advice. For me information Visit the Stay In Bed Day website

Our team at ETradingGroup developed the Social Media strategy and have been actively building up Facebook Fans and Twitter followers. Just 6 weeks into our crusade we had amassed 3,000 fans and we’re now climbing past the 5,000 mark. Here here! Bring on the fundraisers and donors and spread the word!

It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s the best. A social network for Tradies. The place to be for Tradies in Australia.

www.TradieExchange.com.au it’s here!

A new and unique Business-Consumer and Business-Business internet service connecting trades professionals, tradies and customers.

Tradie Exchange was originated on the view that there was a lack of a single internet site where Tradies and Trade Professionals could;

• buy, sell or swap ‘stuff’ they had picked up on sites (recycle, re-use)

• create an online profile to advertise and source work from the general public

• discuss various issues affecting their respective trades/specialized skills/industry or post problems and questions that they experienced in their work activities, and

• create networks for colleagues to source or allocate work between each other.

Essentially what was needed was a “Facebook for Tradies”. Simply, the goal of Tradie Exchange is to connect tradies and trades professionals to help them to be more productive and successful – that is,
help make them more money!

Connecting trades professionals (B2B) and connecting trades professionals with customers (B2C). It’s here!

Follow the action online www.TradieExchange.com.au

And check out the live feeds on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tradieexchange

Tradie Exchange

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