If you run any kind of online business then you’ll have been approached by companies selling retargeted adverts. My own view is that retargeted ads are a waste of time and money. But for those who don’t quite know what I’m waffling about, let me explain a little more.

 

retargeting ads do they work case studies

Those ads which follow you around may not actually work.

In plain terms, these are the creepy adverts that follow you around the internet. They use cookies stored in a web page, so that next time you browse for anything, you might see ads for something you looked at say two days, or even two weeks ago.
Can your Website, Blog or Company make money from Retargeted Ads?
Yes but the amounts will be tiny. For example, one site I’m involved with earned just 70p in a month. That site has over 2,000 unique visitors a day – it isn’t an obscure blog, like this one. So you need huge traffic numbers to get respectable money.

Someone has to click the ad, and then buy something, for the company selling the ad service to get paid. Your blog, magazine or company then gets a commission payment.
Retargeted ads are, in effect, a `race to bottom’ as regards online advertising. The other important point to remember is that just like Affiliate Window, or similar services, the middlemen are skimming off the cream of the cash, you’re getting the pennies.

But Aren’t Retargeted Ads Better than Old Banner Adverts?

 

adverts that work, banners and print

In theory, people come back to your page. Unless they get deeply annoyed at your stalking, or just weren’t interested in the first place.

Possibly. But here are two things to consider; firstly the success of banner ads is judged in terms of clicks, nothing else, which is ridiculous.

Nobody clicks on a TV, radio, or print advert, but do big brands spend big money on all those old fashioned types of advertising? Hell yes. That’s because advertising works like a kind of osmosis, or as marketeers call it, `brand awareness.’

You keep seeing adverts for Santander, Cadbury’s Nokia, Ford cars etc. and after a while that seeps into your subconscious. You begin to `trust’ the brand; you believe it’s a `big’ company, so their products might be worth a look and the company might care enough about its reputation to stand by its guarantee.

So a banner ad can still work like a digital billboard, or newspaper advert. In fact it can work better, as it can move images and text, offering a kind of Gif-like experience to the casual web shopper.

London Business School Study – More Clicks on Generic Ads
A 2013 academic study by London Business School found that consumers were in fact more prone to clicking on generic brand ads, not the specific, narrow focus, retargeted ads served by the cookie creeps watching your every move online.
Read the pdf of the research here by the way
The study itself is of limited value, as it chooses to use hotel room searches as its test methodology. People who look for hotel rooms are generally not casually wandering the internet. Instead, they want a room, they often know the dates and the short list of locations too – they are highly motivated consumers.

 

john lewis bear ad good example of brand values

A good ad translates brand values in a few secods, it makes consumers want to repeat a good experience. Being stalked isn’t a good thing.

The study found that the percentage of those consumers who looked at reviews sites like TripAdvisor, before looking for rooms, only converted at a rate of 6%. That means 94% of people did NOT click and buy a room. Despite all the advertising, of every type.

To me, that highlights how hazy, and unrelated, some search results – and adverts – still are, how badly written many website pages STILL are, and the basic human nature at work in this process. At heart, we don’t always know exactly what we want, but we are willing to be persuaded, tempted, and shown something new and exciting.

If you’ve Already Rejected Something, Why Do You Want to see it 87 Times Again?
There’s another good question for the pedlars of retargeted ads.

To find the answer, we must go back to human nature territory once again, because it boils down to what makes us human; if we look at a web page it doesn’t mean we want to buy that product or service. We are not shopping all the time.
Even if we do browse to shop, that doesn’t mean the company making those smartphones, shoes, cars, bikes etc. has won us over with their badly written, slightly pretentious blog, or `news’ story, cobbled together by a posh intern called Lucinda Chummy-Stringpuller.

So why would we want to see the same ads displayed on almost every other page, as we subsequently browse the net? After seeing the same ad on another ten pages, it goes beyond annoying. Many people will be utterly determined NOT to click on the `stalker’ advert which now loiters in the corner of the page, like a pleading puppy.

Brand Affinity is More Likely to Work Than Just Mapping Your Browsing History

 

jaguar rebranding

Jaguar once stood for `old chap at a golf club, bit Arthur Daley.’ Then Jaguar was rebranded. The cars got better too.

Case Study: I once booked a room near the NEC using Booking.com. I now get an email every BLOODY WEEK from them, telling me there are deals on rooms in Solihull. Does it not occur to brands that I might want to stay somewhere else in the UK, or even abroad?

There’s much more to online marketing than just using cookies and software to look at someone’s browsing history. Yes, it offers a gold mine of data, especially if you can capture a year or two’s worth. But it isn’t a well rounded portrait of the actual person and that means retargeted ads cannot work very well.

Sometimes the ad will be served at exactly the right time; payday just gone, family event on the horizon, necessary purchase of clothes, gifts, hotel etc. has to be made that day.

I’m not saying it can’t happen. But the odds are always going to be long.

Instead, look at how old fashioned adverts on TV and in print continue to focus on brand values and human relationships. It is, in the end, the sheer fun of a day at Alton Towers which sells the experience, or the undeniable luxury feel, and design of a Mercedes, which makes people aspire to own one.

There are many links in the daisy chain of buying. Consumers are different, complex and fuelled by emotions like fear, desire, status, trust, guilt and more.

Finally, just imagine if someone from Debenhams followed you round the High Street and kept tapping on the window as you visited Next, H&M or River Island? You would punch them – hard. That’s what retargeted adverts are; an irritating sales monkey on your back.

And who needs that?

 

There are no `quick wins’ or cheap short cuts in link-building and the recent penalties dished out Google to major brands in the first two months of 2014 prove this theory.

Let’s start with Halifax Bank, which received a penalty back in January for its widget campaign. Halifax buried various keywords, as anchor text links, set inside a widget. This groovy graphic was placed all over web as a handy backlink, driving traffic to Halifax deals and offers, mainly home loans.

The penalty wasn’t that severe and if you search today, you can see how Halifax has recovered good page rank results in SERPs for terms like `mortgages’ (Page 1/Position 2) although for `home loans’ it is still on Page 6, Position 5 on Google UK SERPs. On the upside Bank of Scotland – which is the same company – has a higher result, on Page 3.

halifax bank anchor text widget seo case study UK

halifax seo penalty wasn’t that harsh, but anchor text widgets best avoided.

Does it help that HBOS still spends plenty of cash on PPC each day? Take a wild guess.

For legal reasons, I’m going to say, `Noooo, that would not help a recovery in page rank. It’s deleting the spammy blogs and all that hellish widgetry that helps, then resubmit your site to Google, oh yes.

BAFFLING SEO CASE FOR IRWIN MITCHELL

For the benefit of the few thousand people left in the UK who HAVEN’T made some kind of personal injury claim, let me explain that IM are one of the big names in road traffic injury claims; anything from whiplash to coma, these guys will claim on your behalf.

Again IM were penalised by Google for poor link-building practices. These included posting on forums, posting backlinks on social networks and the usual selection of cheap blogs. Irwin Mitchell were briefly delisted from Google’s search results – well, the dot com version of their site anyway – but after taking immediate clean-up action, they are no back at the top of P1 when you search for them by name.

seo case irwin mitchell

Another case of too many blogs spoil the SEO broth…

Again, there’s a significant spend of PPC, which obviously makes zero difference to Google’s decision. But just out of interest try googling `Irwin Mitchell blog’ and see if you spot the high result for an angry personal blog, accusing IM of fraud.

If I were them, I’d be doing something about this sooner, rather than later.

HUGO BOSS PENALTY RUNS DEEPER THAN GERMANY

On Feb 7th Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Spam tweeted that action was being taken against a German agency and its clients. A few days later Hugo Boss suffered a major drop in rankings in Germany.

hugo boss seo penalty

Hugo Boss fell foul of Matt Cutts and his Spam Police.

The reasons? Site wide links in from blogs, often blogs set up on the same WordPress account too. Other inbound links from sites sharing a server. I had a similar problem with an insurance client who received perhaps 70% of their daily referral traffic from a business partner website – or set of websites – all essentially sharing the same root domain name. Now this looks like `link-farming’ to Google – the Google bots don’t know that your referral site is owned by an investor, and doesn’t care. Why should they?

Back to ol’ Hugo Boss though. The interesting thing about this SEO cock-up is that it affected the search for generic fashion terms, like `mens shirts,’ lederhosen’ and `mens fashion suits.’

I was joking about lederhosen by the way.

The Hugo Boss site – in Germany – stopped appearing anywhere near P1/P1 on Google for those fashion clothing items. Now here’s a little twist that any business should bear in mind; if you search Google UK for `mens shirts’ you will find Boss way down on Page 7, Position 1. Ouch!

On the upside, Hugo Boss are ahead of Harrods and er..Jacamo. But Boden, Liberty, Henri Lloyd, Selfridges and Barbour are all ahead of them.

So a penalty in another country can affect your page rank for certain useful keyword search terms in the UK – bear that in mind when you decide to cheapskate out and use some `offshore’ low budget blogging and link-building services.

It’s your business, your page rank – look after it.

 

 

One of the best times to buy shoes is when there’s a sale on, naturally, and many shoe addicts like me will be waiting for the post-Christmas and New Year sales.

Many of the big High Street names like Next, Office Shoes, River Island, plus online sites like ASOS and TK Maxx start their sales around the 22nd-23rd December these days, but if you like suede, corduroy or softer material footwear, then why wait?

Some shoes are easily damaged by slushy winter pavements, so you can pick up some ace bargains right now.

Here’s a quick scout about;

 

vandellas from delicious junction, sale at atom retro

Winter means sale bargains when it comes to the soft shoe shuffle.

Atom Retro: Vandella Retro Cord by Delicious Junction

Love these corduroy numbers from Delicious Junction.

You wouldn’t want to wear them everyday in winter, but for a night out with some soul boys `n’ girls, matched with a pair of classic cut jeans and a casual jacket, you cannot fault these at £32.50 in the Atom Sale.

 

Zign Lace Up Boots from Zalando

zign mens blue boots, reduced to £55

Zign mens boots, reduced to £55 on Zalando.

These blue boots have leather uppers, brogue type detailing and synthetic soles.

Haven’t bought any Zign footwear myself, but they look well made. I like their chunky sense of purpose.

Blue is one of those colours which go with most jeans and Zalando have these babys reduced from £75 to a more acceptable £55.

You can buy them in brown too by the way.

 

 

 

Debenhams have a sale on at the moment and I quite fancy these J by Jasper Conran brown suede lace ups.

OK, they are a bit pensioner chic maybe, but not every shoe in your foot locker (you DO have a special

debenhams sale jasper conran mens shoes

J by Jasper Conran sude lace ups, down to £32.50 at Debenhams

locker right?) has to be blingtastic, patent leather, or feature fake snakeskin.

Sturdy as you like then, with a solid looking sole these two-tone Jasper Conran’s would do for me at £32.50 and if you like blue, they also have in a navy tone, with a brown panel on the side.

 

 

Hummingbird is now in place and the latest Penguin updates, which Google’s Matt Cutts announced recently, are affecting about 1 percent of all search engine queries. Read Danny Sullivan’s analysis of the Penguin updates here.

Time to do some test searches and see how the results come in.

The interesting thing about Google’s home page now is that News, Play, You Tube etc are gathered under an app-like icon on the top right of the page, not listed as menu tabs.

I think some users are simply too dense/lazy to realise where these tabs have gone, so I estimate that getting content indexed in Google News will become even less important in future, for some brands. People simply won’t click on the tab and open it. In my view, getting your news content shared on G+ and Twitter could be a better strategy.

Test Search Case Study: Jaguar F Type

case study, seo tips, how does hummingbird affect search results?

how does google hummingbird affect search results for the F Type?

A search on Google produces Autocar, Autotrader, Jeremy Clarkson and Chris Evans review content on P1. Interestingly, the top review is from Car magazine and is a group test with Jag vs Porsche vs Audi in the meta title.

One Hummingbird change was that reviews based around DIRECT comparisons – like iPhone 5s vs Galaxy S4, or Tesco cornflakes vs Kelloggs etc would feature more prominently – as Google wants to provide content that answers specific consumer related questions.

So my tip is incorporate more `versus’ type content onto your company website, especially the news and new products sections.

Test Case 2: How Smaller Car Insurance Sellers Can Compete with The Big Comparison Sites

For the last five years or so UK car insurance selling online has been dominated by big comparison sites like Go Compare, the Meerkats, Moneysupermarket, Confused.com and Moneysaving Expert ( which is now part of Moneysupermarket.com by the way)

A typical short tail keyword search like `cheaper car insurance’ reveals the same old faces peppering P1 of Google. But if you’re a smaller broker or underwriter, how can you compete with the big boys TV, radio and PPC adwords spend?

answer a question to get good SEO page rank

Answer a question when you blog, research typical questions asked via social networks too.

You can do this by researching longer keyword searches, analysing social media and checking forums for typical

questions. For example, if there’s a thread on Mumsnet that ISN’T about beakers, breastfeeding fascism or wayward children, then its often about the cost of things. So see what phrases crop up and build a spreadsheet so you can figure out your own Google trends.

I checked on Mumsnet and words like `telematics, black box, younger, fronting, no NCD’ and many others kept popping up in the threads.

So if you produce a page on your site, or a blog post, with a nice even spread of these words, PLUS a direct `quote vs quote’ sample for say a 19 year old new driver, you could well get a high page result in what is arguably the most competitive SEO sector in the UK.

I typed in, `best insurance for new driver telematics’ and found a G+ blog post (quite a spammy, recycled press release one at that) was placed very high, with content from the Daily Telegraph and This is Money also on P1. A You Tube video by Confused.com also had a good result.

Google tips, advice, boost page rank, optimise your website content

Google is ranking its G+ content as high as it can, so get blogging there.

All that demonstrates two crucial things;

1. Google related content on OTHER channels ( G+ blog posts and You Tube) is getting an artificially high result.

2. Penguin and Hummingbird mean that original reviews, with properly researched facts and figures are also likely to rank a bit higher now than say 12 months ago.

The SEO game has changed on Google – but it’s still Google’s game. Never forget that.

Hummingbird is the latest update to the Google search algorithm and it’s a reminder to many UK businesses to finally get their act together and create good, original content.

hummingbird search engine update, changes explained, seo tips and advice

Hummingbird is the latest update to Google’s search engine

Companies should be creating good content and uploading it at least two or three times a week to their websites to meet Panda and Penguin changes. Hummingbird will make that process even more necessary and here’s why.

In a nutshell Hummingbird is a response to the rise of mobile devices and voice searches, rather than typed in search queries. Google say that search results will be based on analysis of the entire search query, so those sites which still mainly target narrow keywords may see a drop in page rank for some content, which is built around say `car insurance’ or `iPhone 5 reviews.’

Another feature of Hummingbird worth noting is that it will refine results based on direct comparisons. For example `iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy 3,’ or Is the Jaguar F Type better than a Porsche 911?’

Greater Emphasis on The Knowledge Graph

The update also makes more use of Google’s Knowledge Graph – a feature which one `SEO expert’ informed me, `would make very little difference to SEO’ about 8 months ago. That expert used to work for a Manchester agency by the way, and has since `moved on.’

The world of SEO really can be very fluid indeed.

author rank tips and SEO advice

Author rank is part of your site’s page rank.

If you aren’t sure what the Knowledge Graph is, or how to use features like Google Authorship then you really should start thinking about using writers who are experts in your business niche.

Author rank has become a big part of Google’s overall aim to provide search results with `expert credibility.’

This is why links from sites like the BBC, mainstream daily newspapers or TV channels still carry some weight, and are worth pursuing. Good PR often translates to good site traffic in under 12 hours.

Your site needs fresh content as often as possible. The content needs to be identified to Google’s bots as relevant, useful, shareable, and don’t forget the human factor – make it readable. Entertain and inform, just like the BBC mantra from days of old.

So pay attention cheapskate business people; don’t buy in some cheap blogs, or use dreadful syndicated PR fluff on your site, or think that employing a semi-literate intern, on pittance wages, to recycle copy thieved from the web will work. It won’t.

seo tips and how to get content onto page 1 on google

Good SEO result for this news story, big spike in traffic over the summer.

Unless You Hire Trained SEO Content Producers, Your Business Will Be Nowhere On Google

I hate to break bad news to the Alan Sugars of this world who think that business is all about selling, and that creativity and knowledge doesn’t really matter. Because when it comes to getting your content on Position 1, Page 1 of Google, it still does.

Yes, you need geeks like Web Developers and Designers to make your site work and meet the technical criteria that Google and Yahoo prefer. PPC campaigns can help Page Rank, plus using TV, radio or even newspaper ads can also drive traffic, because they prompt keyword heavy search queries.

But all that marketing spend is just a part of the SEO strategy – you do have a strategy, right?

Without the magic words, and photos and video too, your site will be almost invisible, somewhere on page 4 or 5 of Google’s search results. You need well written copy, SEO-optimsed when uploaded in the CMS and make sure all your photos are tagged and described properly too. `phone pic 1′ doesn’t tell Google much, does it?

Fact – People Are Lazy

Here’s one fact worth knowing; Cornell University used eye tracking to discover that about 80% of people click on the TOP THREE page results.Read the study results here.

No matter what people say about scrolling through pages of search results, the reality is people are impatient and lazy – we all want it now. So get your SEO act together.

Or see you on page seven. Maybe.

 

 

seo tips and how to get content onto page 1 on google

Decent SEO result for this news story, good traffic today.

News values matter; Hot weather, search Twitter…see people complining about shortage of paddling pools and get the story done.

Quotes from retailers in there, best prices vs worst prices, make it `talk about ‘ content…there y’go.

Page 1 Google – I’ll take that any day of the week.

It  means traffic, not just any traffic, but people looking to buy things. Always good.

 

Content marketing is the hot thing now for many companies. It isn’t rocket science, but it requires you apply newsroom values and discipline to make it work well. Fact is, there’s no quick fix, SEO isn’t a `black art,’ it is a skill set rooted in journalism.

You need trained journalists because your brand is competing with media outlets for P1 on Google. It’s a shark pool out there.

getting content to page 1 of google, marketing tips and advice.

If you want your content on Page 1 of Google, recruit an SEO trained, experienced writer. It works.

You could cut corners, use an outside agency or freelancer who syndicates blogs and re-writes press releases in a keyword-stuffed kinda way, circa 2009. But it probably isn’t going to work.

So read the papers, watch the TV news, use Google Trends, Alerts, trade journals, websites, forums and Twitter to see what’s hot in search volumes. Both within your business niche and the wider economy.

Never forget human nature; people are greedy, they love something for nothing, like PPI compensation, dodgy insurance claims, cheaper petrol, designer clothes reduced by 50% in the Debenhams Sale, or vouchers for a free meal at their local restaurant.

Give them news about freebies, shops going bust and selling stock cheap, big brands dishing out voucher codes.

NOT ALL CONTENT IS LINKBAIT

You need some values, something beyond keywords.

This is where most companies lose the plot because they often see content as essentially subservient to commercial needs – every article has to make money, or gather data.

santander, abbey national, compensation news. how to claim.

Good content can get your brand a top position on Google’s search pages.

But business is about brands too, and the trust you build into a brand has a tangible, cash value. Ask John Lewis, M&S, Aston Martin, Apple, the BBC, or Moneysupermarket.com who paid Martin Lewis £87 million for Moneysaving Expert, because readers TRUSTED what they read there.

Give your readers true value; like the knowledge to avoid online scams, or ways to buy something expensive that bit cheaper than your neighbour. People want knowledge and the internet is a knowledge economy, still developing its true potential and power.

In a decade there will be no UK High Streets as we understand them now.

There will be leisure shopping experiences, places that are fun, pleasant, safe and packed with major brands. But we will make all our essential, everyday, `distress’ purchases online. Content marketing will ease the sting of that impersonal process, empower some consumers with wisdom and expose the shabbier, more obviously dubious companies.

We live in interesting times, chronicle them.