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Content – an easy route to success?

Content is a business’ best friend – that’s what we’re told and to some extent this is true. However, publishing copious amounts of content is not a sure-fire way of improving your search engine rank. This misconception is one that many business owners and marketeers have, resulting in missed targets and the belief that content doesn’t work for them.

Let’s set the record straight – content does work, but making it work takes a lot of skill and effort.  Here are some tips on how to take your content to the next level.

Get a strategy 

Before you start writing any content you need to have a clear idea of who you’re writing for. Depending on your business this audience may well be different for each piece of content you produce.  The more specific you can be in who your audience is the more successful your content is likely to be. Now you know who your audience is you need to start creating content topics that will address their specific information requirements. Conduct some basic research to find out what questions your target audience have and what their needs are and then tailor your topics accordingly.

Don’t just create content

You’ve identified what your audience wants to know so now you need to create content that compels them to do something positive – that ‘something’ could be to purchase, to continue to other pages of your site and investigate your offering further, to react to your content, to share your content each of these is a metric that can be measured and used to determine your content’s success.  The more your audience interacts with your site once they’re there, the higher regard the search engines will have for it.

In order for that positive action to take place your content needs to be relevant to your audience and engaging.

Optimise for success

Without properly optimising your content you may as well not bother producing content at all.  SEO and content go together like gin and tonic – don’t judge, it’s been a long day. The problem is many people writing content aren’t copywriters and either don’t think about optimising their content for search engines, or try and cram in so many keywords that it loses its meaning and purpose. Both of these approaches will have a negative effect. Keywords should be considered before writing commences and remain front of mind so they can be inserted strategically and coherently.

Also, it’s all too easy to regurgitate old content to save time, but in order to really make your content favourable with the search engines you should be looking at creating original content. Repurposing content should be saved for new channels.
The next two pointers are where the magic can really happen.  A bit more time and dedication is needed but focusing on internal and external link building can take you from the realms of ‘nice results’ to ‘fantastic results’…

Internal link building

By using internal linking within your website, you can strengthen it in the eyes of the search engines. So, every time you create content and publish it on your website, link it to and from other relevant areas of the site.  Put some real thought into your links and make them as user friendly as possibly, avoiding the common ‘homepage’ and ‘contact us’ links.  Maybe it’s a link to another article that addresses a related topic, maybe it’s a link to a product mentioned in the copy; the key is to link to lesser viewed content deep in your site. You want to keep visitors engaged with your site for as long as possible, visiting as many unique pages as possible and internal linking can help you achieve this.

External link building

Your content will show higher up the SEO rankings if it is linked to from high quality external websites.  Therefore, it is highly advantageous if you can spend time distributing your content for other sites to pick up on.  Collate a list of contacts such as journalists and highly-regarded bloggers in the aim they will cover your news or product launches and link back to your site.  Distribute your content via social media sites and people will pick up on it too.  But, link building is only as good as your content.  If your content sucks then no one will link to it.

 

 

How important is Good Customer Service?

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Customer service is an issue which affects each and every company. Yes, there are many important factors, whether it’s cost, profit, manufacture or promotion. However, customer service can have particularly influential effect on the overall reputation of a business and therefore its relationship with consumers. In fact, a survey conducted by American Express found that a staggering 78% of customers left a transaction due to bad service. Let’s take a look at how companies can combat this problem.

Respect

Respecting your customer should go without saying but unfortunately many companies still have a problem with the way in which their employees deal with clients. How many times have you read a negative review or heard first hand from a friend about how poorly they were treated by a service agent. This shouldn’t be happening but it’s a problem that is fairly easy to remedy. Training is key, of course, however companies should look into other issues. For example a hostile work place will lead to unhappy customer service agents. If you treat your staff well, this will be reflected in the way they treat customers. You could even provide incentives for agents who go above and beyond when helping clients.

Transparency

Some companies have taken the bold move of offering complete transparency of their customer service. They do this by showcasing their most recent reviews and ratings from consumers. This may seem like a risky move, as you leaving yourself open to negative critiques. However in our current climate of commercial mistrust, honesty is respected above all else. Even if you do receive a bad review, you can attach a reply which illustrates your attempt to resolve the issue. This signals that you are committed to solving any and every problem a customer may have.

Be Personal

The way in which companies and consumers interact has changed drastically in recent years. Thanks to social media, businesses have the opportunity to talk with their customers directly- creating a much more personal relationship. More and more people are choosing Twitter, over email and phone calls when they need to get in touch with an organisation.

Try to utilise different forms of social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. As well as using these feeds to stay in touch with your base, you can also promote blogs, videos or just post thoughts and feelings- which helps to humanise the company. Some businesses go as far as sending personalised notes, discounts or gifts to loyal customers. These are all things that clients remember when considering who to do business with.

Take Ownership

Complaints are just a way of life, the important thing is how you deal with them. Of course, there will be times when it isn’t your fault but this is just another opportunity to show your customers how much you care. Advise agents to take ownership of problems, this will signal to those complaining that you are hearing them and that you want to help.

There is also a lot to be said for customer service agents having the autonomy and clearance to deal with problems themselves. Many consumers are sick of being passed from pillar to post when they need help with a simple issue.

Survey

If you want to know how successful your own customer service is, just ask your customers. Surveying large amounts of people will allow you to see a broader spectrum and therefore any potential patterns. Many companies now ask for customer feedback, immediately after a conversation between an agent and consumer. This feedback can be invaluable in showcasing where you are doing well as well as where you could improve.

There are many ways in which you can survey your consumers. Of course you can call them directly but this can often come off as “cold calling”. Using other methods such as email, social media and text messages, may be a better way of garnering results.

Test Yourself

The only way to get a full understanding of how well your customer service is, is to test it. There a few different ways in which to do this but one of the most informative is the mystery shopper approach. You can choose to use either one of your own staff, or an independent person and ask them to contact your customer service team with a problem. The way in which they deal with this problem will showcase how they are dealing with every problem and therefore what may need working on.

Conversely, you can also use the mystery shopper approach in another way. You, or a member of your staff could pretend to be a consumer and interact with the customer service team of a competitor. This may give your some good ideas on where you could improve on your own system.

The truth is, customer service can make or break a business. This should inform every aspect of the way in which your organisation deals with clients. If you need a little more convincing, a study by Lee Resources found that 91% of customers who are unhappy with a company will choose to never do business with them again. You can’t argue with those numbers.

What are the Simplest Steps to Promotion?

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The majority of working people feel like they are owed a promotion. Whether its long days at the office, being underpaid or sacrificing precious time with your family, we all expect to be rewarded for hard work. So, why are so many employees stalled on their way up the career ladder? There are a number of potential reasons why. Here, we will look at the main reasons why your promotion is eluding you and how to tackle these problems.

Be Deserving

It may sound harsh but this is the problem facing many individuals who are looking to advance. You have to remember, the people who are promoted are those who exceed expectations. If you are putting in the minimum effort, or even an adequate job, this is usually not enough to stand out. You may believe you are sacrificing a lot for your job but you need to examine your work objectively- are you really doing enough to warrant a promotion?

The good news is, all is not lost- there is always time to aim higher. Those who are given greater responsibility, usually earn it through hard work. This means putting in more hours and using this time to give your boss more than they asked for. Productivity is incredibly important and this should be one of your main goals. Once you are excelling within your current position, ask your boss if you could take on more work. Yes, this does mean increasing your workload but this is usually what it takes to garner success.

Be a Leader

The majority of promotions facilitate a move into a position of leadership. Therefore leadership skills are paramount. If you are working hard without reward, you should ask yourself whether the problem could be to do with your potential as a leader. Qualities such as trustworthiness, teamwork and the ability to remain cool under pressure are all prized among employers.

Fortunately, there are ways in which to improve on your managerial potential. For example, ensure you have a strong working relationship with your peers. This illustrates your ability to work within a team, something that will be noticed by your boss. Conversely, although team work is important, don’t be afraid to stand out for all the right reasons. Also, try to approach every obstacle in a calm and positive manner- even if you don’t particularly feel like it. Managers are faced with problems on a day to day basis and potential candidates will need to be able to cope with this pressure.

Be Vocal

It may seem obvious but you need to make sure that your boss actually knows that you are looking for a promotion. Those who quietly get on with their work may appear settled within their role and therefore could be overlooked when a position opens. In fact, there are many workers who don’t like the idea of a managerial position so you could forgive your boss for making that assumption.

The way in which you broach this subject with your employer will depend on you, your job and the relationship between the two of you. As a rule, it’s best to approach the subject softly- after all you don’t want to put them in an awkward position. Organise a meeting with your boss to discuss your role within the company and the potential for advancement. Try to appear eager but focus on factors such as taking on more responsibility and personal productivity as opposed to positions and wages. Once your employer is aware of your ambitions, there is a much greater chance that they will consider you in the future.

Earning a promotion can take a lot of hard work and determination but the potential benefits are definitely worth the extra effort for those seeking a step up.

 

 

Simple Ways to Improve your Adwords Performance

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Google Adwords. What the Dickins…? I know. If you suffer with Googlephobia creating high ranking Adword campaigns may seem impossible, but don’t worry, you’ll be pleased to know that Google Adwords isn’t as complicated as it may seem. In fact, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can be on your way to creating successful Google Adword campaigns before you know it.

Google Adwords

So, the purpose of Google Adwords (if you’re not familiar) is to generate traffic to your website, which in turn will help generate conversions. When key search words are entered by a user on Google, the highest ranking ads that correspond with the search terms will appear at the bottom and the top of the page – the top of the page being the preferred and most beneficial position. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google Adwords a fee (your bid).

Google Ad Rank

It’s important to explain Google Ad Rank before we go any further. The position of your company’s ad will depend on your ad rank. This is determined by the combination of your bid (the amount you are willing to pay each time your ad is clicked on) and your quality score (determined by a Google metric based on your ad’s clickthrough rate [CTR], keyword relevance and the quality of your landing page).

Now, it’s fairly easy to create Google Adword campaigns; once you’ve logged in, followed the prompts and entered your billing information, you’re away. The tricky bit (some might say) lies in the ability to create successful Adword campaigns in terms of rankings and clickthrough rates.

Choose the right keywords

Well-chosen keywords and phrases will give your ad the best chance of being displayed to the right people. Your keywords should match the search terms customers would enter into Google to find products or services like yours. Your keywords should also match the keywords on your landing page. Your landing page must then, of course, meet the user’s expectations as expressed via their search query. To get ideas for keywords, you can use Google Keyword Planner. This is a free Adwords tool that helps you choose relevant and high-ranking words for your ads. The Keyword Planner is also useful for selecting the most relevant keywords from your own website – the quality of this will depend, however, on the quality of the content on your website.

Identify Negative Keywords

This might sound weird, but makes sense when you think about it. As a pay per click (PPC) advertiser your objective is to attract traffic that will lead to conversions. It’s therefore important to avoid key words or phrases that are too general as these may lead you to pay for clicks from people who aren’t at all interested in what you have to offer.

Once your Adword campaigns are up and running you can use Adwords to view the search terms that are triggering your ads to be displayed. Search terms that aren’t valuable to you can be added as negative keywords which will prevent your ad from being displayed when those keywords are entered.

 

Use all relevant ad extensions

Ad extensions are an Adwords feature that enable you to display additional information with your ad. Various ad extensions are available such as sitelinks, callout extensions, location extensions, reviews and more. Use the ad extensions that are relevant to your business to help your business stand out from your competitors.

Optimise your ad text for longer headlines

The most important part of your ad is the headline as this is the part that will most likely grab the viewer’s attention. Google now enables you to place more information in the headline where it’s most likely to be noticed. By doing this, ads have a 6% increase in CTR compared to ads with the standard headline and description. It’s important to note that headlines must be a complete phrase or sentence and end in punctuation such as a full stop or question mark.

Review

As soon as your Adword campaign is running, Adwords will start collecting data regarding the ad’s performance. You can use Adwords to see performance statistics for your campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on this on a regular basis (weekly) to see how well your ad campaign is doing and whether adjustments can be made to your ad based on the data.

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is a free AdWords tool that enables you to find out how many ad clicks are turning into actual customers. It can also help you identify which ad campaigns and keywords are proving to be most successful to your business. It’s a great way to review progress and make adjustments where necessary.

Final Thought

Google Adwords can be a great way of driving traffic to your website. It’s not for the fainthearted that’s for sure, but with the right knowledge, Google Adword campaigns can lead to a great return on investment. Kerrrching!