Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Can I have a rescue package from the Government too please?

I don't think I've made any huge blunders in investment or expansion decisions.
I haven't traded in a way that I knew would produce unacceptable risk.
I haven't paid myself huge bonuses for making a loss.
I haven't stashed away any cash that was laying around into untouchable pension funds either.

All I've ever done is worked honestly and to the best of my ability with my customers interest foremost.

So what determines that some industries can have buckets full of cash thrown at them to keep them afloat in the interest of job retention?

What about the 'industry' of hard working small businesses that are going to the wall every day with the loss of 1000's of jobs?

Seems somewhat unbalanced to me - especialy when it's not us that caused the problem in the first place.

Bangers 'n Mash and the Internet

Pay Per Click advertising, through Internet search engines, still remains a bit of a mystery to many business owners. Not just the mechanics of making them work, but the core of why they can be so cost effective.

I always try to make things simple with real world analogies. So here goes.

Imagine you are a butcher specialising in rather exclusive sausages.

I'm delving into a personal fantasy here. My favorite meal, you may be horrified to know, is bangers and mash and my favorite 'restaurant' is a cafe tucked under the M40 flyover on Portobello Road in West London. They always have a choice of 6 or 7 unusual and delicious sausages, several mash combinations and few different varieties of gravy to finish it off. Absolutely superb!

So, back to the story, you're a butcher specialising in unusual sausages and you want to open a shop. But rather than opening your shop in the general high street you choose an unusual cul-de-sac. Here EVERY shop is a Butcher specialising in sausages.

Is that commercial suicide? Not necessarily.

The good news is that every person who wanders into that street is a potential customer, they just wouldn't be there otherwise. The bad news is that they may only buy from one shop.

But there's further good news. You will only pay your costs of being there on footfall through your door. In other words you will only pay when you actually attract someone into your shop and potentially sell some sausages.

So your job as a butcher is to make your shop window the most appealling and attractive in the street.

You can count the number of people who walk past your window and those who walk through the door. You can also measure the number that actually buy and how much they spend against that charge you pay for everyone that walks in.

Armed with those ratios and cost per sale, you can change your shop window as many times as you like to test the effect on your ratios and ultimately your profit.

But you're not restricted to how many times you change the window, so you can refine it constantly to maximise the results. Unlike many other forms of advertising, you are only paying for a defined result - someone walking through your door.

There's one more important aspect too. There will undoubtedly be some spots on the street that 'perform' better than others. If your shop window is effective in getting larger percentages of passers by into the shop, you'll be promoted to a better spot.

But you can short cut that promotion too by changing the amount you are prepared to pay each time someone walks in your door to try and secure the shop position you want. The more you are prepared to pay the better your position.

If you're still with me, I'll relate that to Pay Per Click advertising and make our butcher an internet business.

Your cul-de-sac is the phrase that potential sausage buyers might type into a search engine such as Google. They might type 'Wild Boar Sausages'. Your shop can sit in any number cul-de-sacs of key phrases that may be typed in by sausage buyers.

Your shop window is the 4 line advert that appears on the right hand side of the search results page. How good your ad' is determines the number of people who walk through your door into your website - the point at which you pay.

The final part, the one that decides if the project is worth while, is how effective the inside of the shop is in getting customers to buy. Are your potential customers seeing what they expected after being attracted in by your window display, or do they see Beef and Lamb joints with the sausages tucked right at the back of the shop out of site? That's the landing page on your website that you send visitors to.

Pay Per Click (PPC) can, if managed correctly, be a very effective and productive way to increase sales and profits. It should be considered alongside more traditional forms of advertising. Once you've tasted it's success you may find that your advertising spend will be reviewed in the light of it's results.

If you need help to make your website produce profit through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising contact me at Alloy CRM.

A simple guide to website ranking with links

One of the key factors influencing how your site is indexed, and ranked, in the search engines is that of inbound links.

These are hyperlinks to pages on your site from other sites on the web. The basic theory is that the more links you have, the higher the value of your own site. Why? Because the search engines will assume that, if all those other people think your site is interesting enough to link to, then it must be important.

That was the premise a few years back, but sadly that assumption was abused by the darker side of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). They set up thousands of sites that were just 'Link Farms'. Pages and pages of listings with links to other sites. The more links you had on these sites, the better value you appeared to have, thus skewing the listing results.

Google got smart to this idea and, in an attempt to reduce the effect, they introduced a system of ranking each page it indexed. It's ranking process included a host of factors but was mainly designed to weed out the Link Farms. In fact sites that were/are still found to be listed on these sites are often penalised heavily and their own indexing can be severely impaired making it difficult to appear in any of the results listings.

So let's go back to the beginning. Inbound links are important, but they have to be carefully chosen and prepared links.

Here are the three key factors you should consider:

1: What is the Page Rank (PR) of the page and site that will show the link? The higher the PR the better as it seen as an important site and it's outbound links are valued higher too. Not only that but it will 'feed' some of it's high ranking across to your page as a bonus.

2: Is the site relevant to yours? As an example let's say your site was about pet products. If you had a link on a site with heaps of information all about dogs - that would make sense to Google and be valued. A link on a dating site would be seen as totally irrelevant and virtually ignored.

3. Use good 'Anchor Text'. Having a hyperlink to your pet product site showing as on that dog information site is not so effective, and meaningful, as having the hyperlinked text saying 'Buy dog baskets, leads and dog food'. Google sees and understands the relationship between the wording on the information site, the anchor text and that of your site - so it will value the link higher.

So to summarise, links to your site are good, but not all links. Be careful about accepting offers of links, especially if they are asking you to pay. Take time to consider those key factors before you commit.

Finally there is the issue of reciprocal links - the 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine' of the internet world.

You may be offered a link to your site in return for a link to theirs. If you accept this and the link to them is shown on, for example, page 2 of your site and the link to you on their site also points to your page 2, it will easily seen as reciprocal and not a 'vote' of confidence in your or your website, therefore valued less.

Turn that around based on the 3 key factors earlier in this blog. If the link from them is on a page of information about dogs, the anchor text reflects that and the page on your site which it points to is about dogs that's good.

So in return, work something on the same principal but using different pages, perhaps about cats. That way the links are less likely to be seen as reciprocal.

I hope that all makes sense, but you can always talk to me about how to maximise your website profits at Alloy CRM, Sales & Marketing Strategists

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Effects of Facebook?

There have been a couple of articles in the Daily Mail recently about the effects of the internet, specifically social networking sites, on us and children in particular.

The first was suggesting that social networking sites could produce cancer. At first glance you would probably say rubbish. However we need to dig a little deeper beyond the media headline hype.

Our bodies have evolved to be a socially interactive animal. Devoid of that element in our life can cause mental, and physical, problems. This is well documented by prisoners and hostages over the years. On the surface, social interaction via sites such as Facebook fulfills that requirement in our life. But does our body understand that?

Is our body hard-wired to determine the required social interaction as being face to face where it can receive not only words but also facial expressions and body gestures? The internet removes all of that. How many times have you misinterpreted an email, got the wrong end of the stick and reacted inappropriately?

So if you take the case of someone who's life revolves around the internet and they just don't meet anyone, how is the body going to react?

Dr David Mickel, the GP who discovered the possible cause of ME, believes that the body generates symptoms, and sometimes real illnesses, in an attempt to force a change in circumstances to rectify the life balance.

So if that's the case, maybe the theory of Facebook causing cancer may not be so far fetched.

Thankfully, for the vast majority of us, social networking sites are just a relatively small part of our life and we live, most of the time, in the real world.

The second article was a front page headline suggesting that the same social networking sites are causing our children to have remarkably short attention spans. Well if you've got this far down my blog you certainly don't suffer from that!

In this case I think we need to look at the wider world that our children are brought up in. It's a world of short, sharp messages and multi-tasking.

Most informative programes on television are broken into micro-segments with several themes running in tandem throughout the show. Flipping backwards and forwards between them with quick updates to remind you what's happening. I find that type of programming quite frustrating as I'm used to the traditional format but it must be popular as they all use it now.

Written media has taken the same direction too. The popular press and magazines consist of snippets supported by photographic images, almost a comic style, with no real substantial essay type material.

And then, of course, there is texting. Rapid, word truncated, conversations that are conducted whilst doing something else.

So is Facebook causing the problem? I doubt it. I think it's more about the new world we live in - good or bad is up to you to decide.

If you want help to make use of the internet to produce profit for your business contact me at Alloy CRM

What's your page rank and what is it's influence?

The search engine Google works hard to identify the websites that it believes would be the best option to show at the top of the listing when we type something into their search box.

Google takes loads of different factors into consideration to determine that all important list. Bottom line is that Google wants to keep us using their search engine above all others and rightly believes that, if it offers the best and most useful sites for us to visit, we'll keep coming back.

As a guide to how important Google thinks a site is, they have a Page Rank system. Ranging from 1 to 10, with 10 being the top, each indexed web page - note I said page, not site, is allocated a ranking number.

You can see the Page Rank for any site quite easily. First you need to install the Google toolbar for your web browser here:
By default the Page Rank (PR) tool probably won't be on there, but you can add it in easily by right clicking on your newly installed Google Toolbar.

With that done every web page you visit will show the Page Rank. You will find that lots of pages have a PR of less than 2, maybe even 0, which means that they are unlikely to show up in Googles search listing other than for very unique phrases such as your own business name if it's unusual enough.

At the other end of the scale are sites like which has a PR of 9 - even they can't make 10! The difference between each rank increases enormously as you go up the scale. So you might be able to move from 2 to 3 reasonably easily, but the move from 6 to 7 is enormous.

So how can you influence your own PR and stand a better chance of ranking better?

Three key factors really:
1: Make sure that Google understands what your site is about by the careful selection and use of keywords throughout your content.
2. Relevant content, more relevant content and even more relevant content! The more there is on your site the more Google will absorb and value your site accordingly.
3. Links into your site from other sites. The higher the PR of those linking sites the better. So if you could get a link to you from that would benefit you tremendously.

I've been fairly simplistic about how the PR system works and can be influenced. There are a whole host of factors to be taken into consideration and I may well delve into those a little deeper in another post.

If you want to improve your standing in the PR stakes give me a call or click here to improve your website profit

Alloy CRM helps businesses to increase sale, revenue and profit

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Get your business to the top of the Google rankings - For Free?

No this isn't some scam - It's simply using Google's own Google Maps based free business listing.

This facility allows you to set up your own business listing with a web address, real address and contact phone. You also have the ability to write a description of your business with opening times and a number of other bits and pieces.

If you set up your listing the same way as you would the SEO of your web site, that is with keywords and phrases in the description, you have a good chance of your listing being shown when a web searcher includes a geographical reference. For example, 'plumber in norwich' (go and do that search now) brings up a Google maps list of plumbers who have taken the trouble to create their own listing.

Just like any SEO work you may have to be a bit smart with the keywords and phrases you use, especially if it's a competitive sector, but it's worth a try for free surely?

If you need help maximising your Google listing drop me a mail or visit my website.
Need help to make your website produce profit?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How are you selling?

Sorry to keep harping back to this again but I just think it's so important - especially in the current climate.

I guess that in your business you will have, or do, one of these things:
1. Have a retail shop
2. Have a trade counter and display
3. Have a demonstration area or showroom
4. Have an exhibition stand for trade shows
5. Have a presentation you use either one to one or at events
6. Used a designer to create your ads and leaflets

If you are serious about growing and increasing profit through sales you will have spent a great deal of time and care making sure that these are right.

By that I mean you would take care to make sure that your products and services are presented in a way that fits the environment and client you are targeting.

If you were looking to buy a Bentley you would expect the showroom to have a certain ambiance and appear upmarket. Buying produce from a farmers market you expect it to look fresh and presented well but may feel cheated if it was all laid in cardboard boxes that seemed to come from a wholesaler rather than directly from the fields. Would you man your exhibition stand in jeans and tee shirt if you were hoping to sell to business leaders?

We are all influenced significantly not just by the product but also it's presentation. That presentation needs to reflect, and tap into, the likely reason for buying.

It is said that there are 3 reasons people buy:

I have yet to see ad ad for a Bentley parked outside a roadside layby cafe surrounded by white vans and lorries. It's more likely to be on a beautiful country road, outside a stately home or the Savoy hotel, building a desire to be part of that lifestyle.

Where am I going with this?

Fire up your web browser and look at your own website.

Does it have the right ambiance? Does it look how a buyer would expect it to look?

Help your customers understand what they will gain, save or avoid by using your product and you will have a better chance of getting the result you want from your website.

Maybe you need to look at your other advertising, not just your website, in the same way too?

If you need help with sales have a look at our Sales Accelerator
If you need help with your wesite take a look at our Website Profit Program