June 19th, 2013
Ever wondered how you can make your organic search results stand out from the crowd? How do some companies manage to get their contact info, event listings, reviews or products to show in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs), while all your company gets is a measly title, description and URL listing?
If you’ve always wondered but were sure it was too difficult to even begin to try to implement, then we have some good news for you so keep reading! Google has made it much easier in recent months to display rich snippets in the SERPs with their updated Structured Data features – including a handy ‘point and click’ Data Highlighter tool and Mark-up Helper and an increased range of data that Google can now recognise with the right markup implementation – including products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants and TV episodes.
Although there is another, more complicated method you can use to help search engines recognise your rich snippet information (which involves editing the HTML code of various pages of your website), Google’s Structured Data Highlighter tool can get you the results in a much simpler way.
While HTML markup gives you greater control over the marked-up content and lets other search engines, not just Google, understand the information you are trying to highlight, the Data Highlighter method can be used to much the same effect (for Google SERPs only) so long as you the pages on your website are laid out much the same (i.e. you use a similar template for all pages you want to markup). The Data Highlighter tool can even work to your greater advantage if you have a large number of product pages that you want to markup and you don’t have the time to edit the HTML code of each and every page.
In case you needed more convincing on the benefits of taking the time to implement structured data mark-up on your website, we’ve outlined the main points to consider:
• Structured Data Mark-up helps Google to understand exactly what the pages on your website are talking about. Instead of your website content just looking like a lot of text and code to the Google spiders, by using structured data mark-up you can highlight key pieces of information in a way that lets Google know exactly what you’re talking about, why the information is important, and how and to whom it should be displayed.
• Armed with this information Google can use your marked-up information to create those ‘rich snippets’ in the SERPs. That’s the extra information it displays below your website’s organic listing, such as event dates and times, product info, contact info or review ratings.
• Google can also use the marked-up information to display your information in other ways, such as in the knowledge graph panel that often shows up to the right on the SERPs (see image) or on one of their ‘Google Now’ cards.
• While rich snippets and the knowledge graph won’t increase your website rankings in Google, they are a good way to increase traffic to your website, as users searching for your products can see more of your information in their search results, giving them more reason to click through to your website to find what they’re looking for.
You can get started implementing structured data markup on your website today. The Data Highlighter tool can be used through your Google Webmaster Tools account – find it in the ‘Optimization’ section in the left hand navigation panel. Once you click into the tool you’ll be asked to input the URL of a typical template page of your website (e.g. a product page), and you can then follow the prompts to tag different sections of the page and indicate the type of markup you’d like to associate the sections with.
Once you have completed the set-up, the changes won’t take effect until Google crawls your site again. In the meantime you can check that the implementation was successful using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
June 14th, 2013
We’re almost at the end of the financial year, which means the marketing budgets for next year have been submitted, approved and are ready to be allocated.
So how will marketing spend in financial year 2013/2014 compare to last year? Has your company’s marketing department made any dramatic changes in terms of direction and budget allocation, and how does this compare to the focus of other companies?
According to the fourth annual Global Marketing Budgets Report from Econsultancy and Responsys, which looks at planned marketing spend in over 800 companies, marketing budgets will increase by 23% in 2013/2014.
The report details how Australian marketers intend to allocate their marketing budgets in the coming year, with a sharply increasing focus on digital marketing. In fact, 71% of companies are planning to ramp up budget allocation in this area by an average of 28%. Of that increased digital budget, it appears the lion’s share will be spent on Search Engine Optimisation, with companies increasing their investment in SEO by 65%. Other top areas include Paid Search (increasing 56%), Email Marketing (increasing 65%) and Lead Generation (Increasing 58%).
Another area Marketers are focusing on in the coming year will be Mobile Marketing, with planned budget increases in the areas of Mobile Apps (47%), Mobile Search Marketing (39%) and Mobile Advertising (34%).
A concerning but unsurprising statistic from the report indicates company culture is holding back marketers from ramping up their digital marketing spend to the fullest, with many decision-makers still not understanding the huge returns that investment in online marketing strategies and techniques can deliver.
If you would like to increase investment in SEO and online marketing but are having trouble convincing company decision-makers of the benefits of the investment, White Chalk Road can help. Our transparent strategies and plain English reporting techniques make it easy for marketers to clearly demonstrate the ROI to company MDs, CEOs and Directors. Call us today to find out more, and take a look at an infographic summarising the Responsys research below.
June 12th, 2013
We told you in March about some recent studies that suggested ecommerce is the future of retail. Well this month new research has just been released by NAB, and the figures prove that the upward trajectory of online sales can no longer be ignored. If you haven’t got a fully optimised and competitive website by now then you need to get one ASAP!
Between April 2012 and April 2013, Australians spent a total of $13.5 billion shopping online. This represents a growth of 23% year on year, while traditional retail sales (i.e. sales made in brick and mortar stores) increased by only 2.4%.
Western Australia accounted for 12.5% of the national spend on online retail, behind New South Wales (33.1%), Victoria (23.4%) and Queensland (19.1%). Per capita however, online spending in WA was third highest in the country after ACT and the Northern Territory.
Looking at the different regions of each state (metropolitan vs. regional), surprisingly in most states it was not the remote areas that accounted for the highest proportion of online spending, even when taking the per capita breakdown into account. Although metro shoppers have easier access to bricks and mortar stores, they are still more inclined to spend online in the comfort of their homes or offices, with metro per capita spending higher than regional per capita spending in NSW, ACT, QLD and VIC. Western Australia did however buck this trend, with regional per capita spending on online retail outstripping metro per capita spending.
The sectors experiencing the highest online sales remain mostly in the home and personal goods sector, such as fashion, homewares, movies, books, groceries etc., rather than commercial or industrial goods. Below is a breakdown of the sectors experiencing the greatest share of the Australian ecommerce market:
Do you plan to leverage your business website to take advantage of the booming ecommerce market? Are you upgrading to an ecommerce website in the near future? Call us at White Chalk Road today and ask how we can boost the visibility of your website to attract those Australian online shoppers with $13.5 billion per annum burning a hole in their virtual pockets!
May 14th, 2013
Considering the industry we work in, this year is a big celebration for us at White Chalk Road – 2013 is the year that the World Wide Web leaves its teenage years behind and turns the big 20.
The Internet began as a prototype project for information sharing, headed up by by Mr Tim Berners-Lee – founder of the internet and all round changer of the course of history – but it wasn’t until 1993 that the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), for which Berners-Lee worked, made the WWW technology available to the world free of charge.
It’s hard to believe how far the Internet has come in such a short space of time, from a tool used to help CERN physicists share information, to a global phenomenon around which economies, businesses (including our own) and global communication revolve. In fact, by 1995 the Internet was still a novel idea making news headlines, including a (now) hilarious full report on MTV news complete with celebrities, including Sandra Bullock, Coolio and the Smashing Pumpkins, trying to explain the internet in their own words. Terms used in the clip such as ‘just a fad’ and websites described as ‘truckstops along a highway’ show just how far the internet has come in the last number of years. (Unfortunately the clip of this report has been removed from YouTube but you can see some information and screenshots of the MTV report on the Internet here).
To mark the milestone we’ve taken a look at some interesting firsts for the World Wide Web:
The first webpage ever uploaded to the World Wide Web was, not surprisingly, uploaded by CERN, and featured information about the technology, showing users how to set up their own webpages. CERN is planning on digging this webpage out of its archives and bringing it back to life to mark the Internet’s 20th birthday.
The first domain name ever registered was sybolics.com. The website, unfortunately, has not evolved quite as gracefully as the Internet as a whole. It is now just a spammy webpage selling small sections of the page as advertising space with the sales pitch “Own a true piece of Internet history! Advertise your company on Symbolics.com. Be a part of Internet history and claim your spot.”
The first image uploaded to the Web was by Mr Berners-Lee. It was of parody girl band called Les Horrible Cernettes. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
The first big news story to break online was the story of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. These days it’s unusual for paper and ink headlines to shock or inform us – we’ve already seen the breaking news online the day before. But when DrudgeReport.com broke the news of President Clinton’s affair with his intern in January 1998 there was uproar. The Drudge Report scooped Newsweek Magazine, which had held off publishing the story as it could not validate some of the facts. The incident raised questions about control of information published on the internet and the responsibility of those posting information to make sure their facts are accurate. These topics are still debated to this day.
The first SEO service offered to businesses for their websites was… a tricky one to pin down. Webmasters and Website Designers began optimising their websites in the mid-90s, but the first time the phrase ‘search engine optimisation’ was used was around the year 1997, as documented on this archive page of the Multimedia Marketing Group website.
We would like to wish the World Wide Web a Happy 20th Birthday and extend our gratitude to Tim Berners-Lee for his ingenious invention. The world would be a very different place without it.
Posted in News |
May 6th, 2013
Following complaints made by the European Union’s Antitrust Authority, the EU Commission, Google will roll-out changes to the way its search results are displayed on the EU versions of the search engine, including google.co.uk, google.ie, google.fr etc.
The main changes being made will see Google alter how their search results are displayed, with a clearer labelling of Google’s own promoted content and services, such as Google Maps, Google News, Google Places and its ‘Shopping’ and ‘Flight Search’ results. Google has also agreed to display search results from competitors and link to their services.
According to the EU Commission Google must “display links to three rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users.” For example, TripAdvisor results (a competitor to the Google Places service) will be displayed prominently, along with other similar competitor results, alongside Google Places links in the EU SERPs.
The EU Commission is also forcing Google to address its dominance in the online advertising market, prompting Google to make changes to allow marketers in the EU to buy ads on rival networks.
Despite the widespread proposed changes, Google says its algorithm will remain unchanged for organic, non-promoted search results.
The EU Commission has been carrying out an investigation into the issue since 2010 amid concerns Google might be abusing its dominance in the EU, where they enjoy a 90% share of the search market, by decreasing the visibility of its competitors in search results, thus stifling its competition.
The Commission has ruled that once the changes are implemented they will be market tested for a month, during which time competitors can make comments and vote on whether the changes are sufficient. Once the changes are accepted as sufficient by the EU Commission they will become legally binding. A breach of the terms could result in the Commission imposing a fine on Google of up to 10% of its annual global revenue – amounting to an estimated $5 billion.
Internet users in the EU will not see the changes implemented until the Commission and Google’s competitors have approved the proposed changes and an agreement is settled. This will most likely be achieved by the end of 2013.
Google also dominates the search engine market in Australia with a 92% share. However, search results will remain unchanged on google.com.au for now.
April 3rd, 2013
Incorporating testimonials into your company’s mobile site is a great way to convince possible customers to use your service. In fact, BusinessWeek found that 70% of customers consult reviews or ratings before purchasing. Not to mention, mobile tends to convert faster: mobile restaurant searches have a 90% conversion rate, and 64% of conversions are happening within a mere hour, according to xAD and Telemetrics.
The concept of social proof can be boiled down to one main idea: people tend to believe what others believe, even if the opinion is coming from someone they don’t know. Building testimonials into your mobile web design will naturally bring about a sense of urgency, trust and credibility.
The ultimate goal of placing testimonials on your mobile site is to show potential customers that you are providing a quality product or service; you’re credible because customers say so. Be sure to include all of these key components in your testimonials:
• Though you want to be thorough, if you are using them on your mobile site, keep testimonials short and sweet- you don’t want to take up too much screen space.
• You can also include a thumbnail photo of them and information about their company and their position that might make their opinion more influential.
• Place testimonials near checkout, contact or payment information to reassure possible customers of your reliability and overall quality.
With online growing at a rapid pace, it’s important to consider how you are optimizing your mobile presence, considering that 7.96% of web traffic is mobile, according to Pingdom. Testimonials will be beneficial in improving your mobile SEO.
• Google ranks recognized company names (as a result of citations on other websites, and not necessarily including direct links) higher than ones it has never seen.
• Testimonials add a localized copy for search engines to index and link to.
• Micro-formatting reviews and testimonials helps Google recognize them as testimonials and allows them to act as off-site citations for your Google+ Local Page.
• If you can connect your testimonials to specific products, Google can display the micro-formatted data in its search results, leading to an increase in click-through rates.
Balance is everything- especially if you are looking to include testimonials on your mobile site. You might think at first that having as many positive reviews as possible is a good thing, but it can also hurt you if your site is too cluttered or takes too long to load.
• Even if you don’t post them on your site, keep all of your testimonials for marketing collateral to show potential prospects in person or as requested.
• Sprinkle them throughout the site and don’t confine them to a single page.
• Make sure you have reviews on other directories such as Yelp. Compete.com discovered that traffic on the top 10 review sites grew on average 158% last year. Citations that mention your company’s name and info are valuable even if there is no direct link. Google also uses these other sites to verify that your contact info is up to date.
As you find new ways to include testimonials on your website, mobile or not, be sure to keep track of which methods work for our business and which do not. Marketing efforts are only success if you monitor them. Testimonials can be a great way to bring in new clients and help to demonstrate your company’s dedication to customer satisfaction.
March 26th, 2013
It seems that another Google Panda algorithm update was rolled out last week, and it marks the final manual Panda update from Google. A Google algorithm update is a change in the algorithm that is used to determine the page rank of sites on Google search – in other words it is an added filter that tries to prevent poor quality sites from showing up in search results.
At the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in the US this month, the head of the Google webspam team, Matt Cutts, announced that Google Panda will now be a rolling algorithm update, which means that after this month Panda changes will occur more frequently, but its affects will be less drastic.
However, it’s not time to breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Matt Cutts also discussed the next Penguin algorithm update at SMX, and it seems as though it might cause some big changes – Cutts predicted that it will be one of the most talked-about updates of the year. Although it is not known exactly what the next Penguin update will target, Cutts mentioned at SXSW that one of his teams’ objectives this year is to crackdown on low quality ecommerce websites and dubious online merchants.
He said: “We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.” Search Engine Land provides some more details about this planned crackdown on ecommerce websites.
One thing is for sure – it is becoming increasingly important to stick exclusively to white hat SEO practices, such as those employed by White Chalk Road, to ensure client websites are not penalised by Google’s algorithm changes.
March 20th, 2013
One of our Account Managers, Adam Rowles, better known as ‘the hairiest one in the office’, decided to ‘brave the shave’ this week in the name of the Leukaemia Foundation.
Adam trimmed is bear-like beard at home before bringing in his clippers and letting the White Chalk Road team take turns to obliterate his brown locks.
Adam has more than tripled his fundraising target of $100, raising $320 so far! You can still sponsor Adam by visiting his Greatest Shave page. Donations will help the Leukaemia Foundation support those with blood cancer from the moment they are diagnosed, free of charge, as well as help to fund Australia’s best blood cancer research.
Posted in News |
March 8th, 2013
According to Forrester research jointly published in 2011 by PayPal Australia, Nielsen and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, Australian online commerce was forecast to be worth $37.7 billion by the year 2013. The figure for 2011 was $30.2billion, up from $27billion in 2010.
And according to a more recent report from a leading US Digital Marketing Firm, eMarketer, Australia is the fourth largest eCommerce market in the Asia-Pacific region. The same report used research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics “Household Use of Information Technology Report” to back up its findings, which showed that 98% of the Australian population has access to the Internet, and 68% of internet users purchased something online in the past 12 months.
So what does all this mean for Australian businesses? It means they need to act now to keep up with Australian consumers, who are changing the way they shop and the way they spend their money.
A study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority showed that, of those who shop online, only 53% buy from Australian retailers, while 19% buy from overseas retailers and 29% buy from both overseas and AU retailers equally. When asked why they buy from overseas retailers, 56% said it was because the product they wanted was not available in Australia. The reality, however, is that it’s more likely the product is available from an Australian retailer, but their website is not optimised well, so they don’t show up in the search results when buyers are searching for their products. Thus they are losing out on sales to overseas retailers simply because they have not invested in SEO and Online Marketing services.
While all businesses should act now to boost their online rankings and website traffic to take advantage of the growing ecommerce market in Australia, some sectors are losing out more than others if they neglect investing in SEO.
The eMarketer report mentioned above also looked into the types of products Australians are buying online. Fashion retail came in at number one, with 50% of shoppers buying clothing and jewellery online. Entertainment and travel were also high up the list, outlined below:
• Clothing/Jewellery – 50%
• Music/DVDs/Books – 47%
• Electrical Items – 43%
• Travel – 37%
• Toys/Games – 28%
• Cosmetics and Beauty Products – 25%
• Food & Groceries – 17%
• Sporting Equipment – 14%
• Pharmaceuticals – 10%
• Furniture – 7%
• Other – 19%
Contact us at White Chalk Road today to find out how we can help you to take advantage of the booming Australian ecommerce market.
March 5th, 2013
For the past number of years businesses have been told from all angles (by PR, Marketing, SEO and Digital Media consultants to name but a few) that they should set up a blog on their website. Oftentimes, those who have followed the trend have only done so because ‘everyone else seems to be doing it’, and as a result usually let their blog updates lag until finally their blog becomes neglected.
However, if businesses really understood the value of a blog it would help them to keep the momentum going, and even help them to decide what it is they should be blogging about. So below are the top five reasons you need to set up a blog for your business (or start blogging again if you’ve been neglecting your blog).
One of the core benefits of adding a blog to your website is to improve your search engine rankings. A blog gives you a location on your website where you can regularly post relevant and up-to-date content that internally links to your key landing pages.
This will benefit rankings in a number of ways:
a) Search engines like when you keep your website regularly updated with new and informative content, as they like to provide the most up-to-date and useful content to users
b) The more pages of relevant and informative that includes you major keywords you have indexed by search engines, the greater chance you will be included in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those keywords
c) Including links within your blog articles to your key landing pages, using relevant anchor text, will boost the authority of these key pages.
If you’re struggling to come up with new blog post topics, the best way to begin the brainstorming process is by simply asking ‘what kind of information do my customers and potential customers want to read about?’.
By including content that addresses the major questions your customers want answered, they will be more likely to a) find you when searching for those answers online, b) come back to your site to find further information, and c) share the information they find with their friends and colleagues via email or on social media sites, thus boosting your traffic.
For an advanced look at how to find out what information your customers are searching for, take a look at this article on the SEOmoz blog about how to access this information via your Google Analytics account.
Blog posts are a great way to demonstrate your business’ expert knowledge in your niche or sector. Potential customers who come across your website via your blog will be able to see that you know your stuff and make an effort to keep up to date with the latest news and trends in your industry.
Keeping your blog updated with interesting and helpful articles will not only boost your reputation with customers, but with search engines too. By keeping your website constantly updated with shareable content will mean more links pointing to your site and more relevant content for search engines to crawl, which will boost your website’s authority, and thus your rankings and your traffic.
On this point it’s important to note that blog posts should not be used as a sales pitch opprtunity. However, if you are blogging about a particular issue that your customers may come across, as well as providing some helpful tips that could help them resolve the issue, you could also link to another page of your website that details the product or service you offer that would help to combat the issue. This page should have a good call to action and a simple ‘one click’ step to your ‘enquiries’ page so that you can easily convert a potential customer’s interest into a sales lead.