How To Make Your Business Do Better – With a better online ranking. Make Yourself Googleable?

Originally written as an article for a trade publication in 2010  – these are the principles and not the tactics ,enjoy.

Make Yourself/Your Business Googleable in 21 days or less.

21 steps or 21 days the choice is yours in relation to how you decide to use this content. Getting a reasonable ranking for your online presence is a fairly straightforward process but you have to use all of the process.

1.What are your customers looking for

Finding out who is searching for what.

Google tools and the internet

2.What part of this niche are you.

3.Your existing website

Content is king – options for finding it.

Video

Audio

Images

4.The importance of Social Media

Strategy’s to focus on

Facebook is about the biggest

Twitter more or less guarantees your blog content will be indexed

Google Plus

Linkedin

Online Forums and specific industry websites

The use of an aggregator, like a  forum or social feed should allow you to put comment in place and then have the system spread the news around your linked site and pages, as well as back to your own website.

And lots of others specific to your niche

5.Interaction

Making available downloads, video and similar things. Checklists , comments, pay with a tweet for specialist content.

6.Search and research.

What are they looking for

The Bastard competition

Google Keyword Tool.

7.Things you must do

Google Analytics

Google Webmaster Account

Gmail Account

Google Alerts

Google Plus

Once these items are done you are ready to pop over to the next stage.

8. Your own domain name, your place on the internet.

Based around your research .e.g

Personal Brand – therichardsmith.com

Business – what you do – widgetmakerswestsussex.com

Don’t feel that you need to use a web designer or agency for this.

If you sell several products then make sure you research and register the domain name for each, your customers or potential customers will not search for you or your business but they will search for what you do.

Don’t get hung up on this at this time, just focus on doing one thing, one presence initially and work on the others in due course.

I recommend you always keep a notepad near you in case you think of niches and names that your customers may search on or for.

 

9.Webspace your own home in the internet

Why you need your own webspace

10. WordPress and the other options for a CMS

Themes

Design

11. Plugins

List of recommended

Images getting some done professionally

Mandatory plugins – little bit about what not to do with plugins.

Mobile

12. Content

Taking your research as a starting point focus on getting some content

Outsource options/VA/PA/ Staff Members

Getting a view from others in your business or organisation is helpful what do you actually sell, what do your sales team think you sell. Focus on the problem you solve and not what you sell.

13.Share the content

Facebook, Video (re purpose content).

14. Keywords and key word density

WTF is that all about, sometimes these new words appear.

15. Analytics, who came from where and what did they do.

16. Branding and Opinion

Matters not who you piss off they are never going to buy.

17.Relationships and Revisits

19. Making sure the look and feel is sticky.

20.Using offline strategy to ensure get traffic to your site.

21. Bringing it all together.

Making the difference in your business immediately and forever.

it’s the internet stupid – a sample of things you Must Do!

The internet is not a new phenomenon, I sent my first email in 1995/6 and had my first ecommerce site in 1999, not that I could accept payments online then. No such thing as PayPal or similar. You could print off and order form and post it with a cheque.

What was I selling, oversize Italian shoes.

It has come a long way since then and there is now a massive shift to ‘the cloud or the internet’ generally.

One of my biggest issues for most small and medium sized firms, consultants and service firms, amongst retailers is they seem not to be getting it. Getting the shift that has started.

Most sales and marketing specialists, and social media experts (how many are there now) are missing the point.

Amazon get it, Argos don’t.

The X Factor team get it, along with Big Brother and the likes of No10 or the PM’s office don’t.

The difference is engagement and this is what I want to get across to you, you need to engage, information and start relationships with your visitors.

2011/12 the start of a new time, a new period and I have named this the ‘Personal Brand’ era.

This your opportunity to shine, to put the spotlight on you are your business in order to increase sales and the amount of business that you are doing, and do it easier.

The Social Media Experts, the Search Engine Optimisation firms all want you to think it’s harder than it is and I want to prove that provided you stick to some well worked out and tested principles, getting a top spot on any of the search engines is remarkably easy: Provided you stick to the principles.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last 10 years or so you will know exactly what I am going on about, and when I mention Google, please do not think that this is the only search engine as there are others. Just remember that works for Google will also work for them.

Why is Google so important? Because it works. It delivers relevant results in a way that helps you. There is no need to remember anything anymore you can find out what you want by typing in the key words via any device.

It is also helpful to note that is was not always like that. In the pre Google era things were a little different and with the advent of mobile devices and a permanent connection to the internet being Googleable has never been more important.

Having something to say, saying it and allowing others to find it has never been easier or required. People are interested, and you as an entrepreneur have exactly the same tools at your disposal as the BBC or News International, really.

As background our firm provides marketing and sales process advice to the Financial Services business sector and one of our main problem solving services is advice to make Websites work and of course the problem most IFA’s have is the opposite of that.

The problems we are finding fall into several camps and I will outline these in a little detail for you.

Nearly all Business and Personal s Websites do not inform.

We live in an information age and your potential clients are looking to the internet to find information and to select possible firms to work with. This applies if you are a Financial Adviser or Plumber.

Your Website must inform!

and then Start a relationship.

If we think of a client relationship as a Courtship, they usually start out a bit like Speed Dating (first impressions count), often the first encounter (only you will not know you had it, a lot unlike Speed Dating) you will have with your potential customer is via your Website or Blog and it is here you need to be making sure you do as much as you can to ‘hook them’ into taking some further action, or at least making contact, or leaving you their details. This is simply missed by all/most IFA’s and they are not alone.

Once you have their details you can then start a relationship, and of course this can be automated. The object of your Website should be to take an initial encounter – Speed Dating or First Date, turn them into Friends, then Lovers, or Husbands and Wives, manage the relationship and of course avoid separation or divorce. Sounds simple.

Your Website/Facebook/Twitter et al must allow you to build and maintain relationships, the real value within an IFA practice is your existing clients. How many times have you heard this? What have you done about it?

Nearly all firms do not have in place accurate methods of recording the number of visitors or what they done when they arrived at your site, and if you don’t know you cannot react.

Does your Website explain that you are qualified, regulated and professional. Great that makes you the same as 95% of the IFA websites out there.

The object of your Website should be to take an initial encounter – Speed Dating or First Date, turn them into Friends, then Lovers, or Husbands and Wives, manage the relationship and of course avoid separation or divorce. Sounds simple.

Personally I have subscribed to countless ‘Newsletter’ services and never had any follow up whatsoever. Not good for credibility I can tell you.

So even those firms that doing something different, are not completing the task. Two firms have been excellent, and of course both of these firms are at the very top of their game. They have a well executed strategy in relation to Marketing and follow it to the letter.

Your Website must be littered with good food for the Search Engine Monster. All of the search engines are simple creatures on the face of it and all provide you with a range of free tools to be able to check and optimise your Web offering. It’s just a shame that too few take advantage.

The role of a Search Engine (the business they are in is Search Results) they just want you to provide relevant information to those searching, your job is to provide that information. Simple.

Things To Transform Your Web Presence

Make sure your site is full of relevant content and is updated on a regular basis.
Make sure your chosen keywords and Phrases tie up with the above point.
Use Email Marketing along with SMS Services to get your customers coming back to your site for more and more information. Post updates on your Website and then tell your customer.
Monitor all activity to really understand who is coming to your site, from where and looking at what. Then act on the information.
Stop doing what is not working.
Do more of what is working.
You will either need to learn or buy in these skills in order to survive the changes that are coming. Oh and don’t bother asking a Web Designer – they tend to know little about marketing themselves. Indeed they got you where you are today.  You do need to consider specialist services.

By using the internet for marketing, sales, advice and outsourcing mundane work your business could be and should be looking to increase turnover and for you to spend more time on the Golf course.

I continue to find it amazing that that many professional service firms are happy to pay £50 – £100 for leads (most of which are sourced using the Internet) but will not spend the cost of 3 leads on some expert telemarketing or the price of 10 leads for a makeover of their web marketing.

In terms of being specific about the power of your online presence I have provided a table of search statistics

 

Search Term
Number of Monthly Searches

Source Google

Now perhaps you can see why the internet is important to you and your business or your personal profile.

Google are right there are over 50,000 searches a month done on specific Financial Services, take into account related searches and you will find that this increases to over 200,000. That’s 200,000 people looking for advices on what you do.

Ignoring this is not an option, maybe you are one of those who are thinking that it may not happen, just look around at the evidence to prove otherwise.

Change is coming whether you want it not, there are clear demand for your services, getting in front of the people that are looking for your help is not as difficult as it once was. The key is, are you going to embrace the change and take some action. We are already finding for those firms that do there is ‘gold in them there hills’.

Research and Your Website – Why you can no longer keep things as they are?

Having spent the ‘best part of two decades’ working within and for a range of businesses there are many issues surrounding marketing and business development that seem, in the main to be forgotten some basic principles that never change. Starting and maintaining relationships and then selling them something has and always will be the only thing your business needs to do. Even a mediocre product or service will sell if you get the relationship and marketing right.

When looking at the use of the Internet, many firms are lagging behind the competition. For me, sadly these burning issues are raised time and time again!!

I am constantly ‘taken aback’ that many businesses ignore these following points

Research in relation to your competition and your business position in the market place is a fundamental part of your business and you will not survive without it.

Often it’s done half heartedly or even worse not at all. I firmly believe that a ‘change in direction’ for all firms is needed and of course have some pointers for you.

Yes I know some of you will have heard this before, and I know that only 1% or so reading this will bother to take some action, as indeed only 1% or less have acted in the past.

There are a range of reasons your business does not stand out, does not present itself correctly in the market place, one of the main reasons is the lack of research and subsequent positioning, and even if you have done research in the past, you have not updated it, or not done it with enough skill and care.

One of the main reasons your website is not delivering for you is content, content that you cannot provide because you have not researched what is required, and then taken some action to meet the demand for the information that you should be providing, Of course Compliance seems to ‘get in the way’, and before you start to shout “but what about Compliance?” – You will need to find a way!!

Those firms that do find a way will be WELL AHEAD of you. If none of you survive, if none of you can engage with your market place correctly, if none of you start to get some of this right. You MUST find a way!

How big is the problem, well let me outline some of this issues.

Some Google Searches

IFA’s

Estate Agency

Aquarium

Rowenta Kettle

 

Having searched Google.co.uk (late 2010) for Financial Planning there is not a single IFA firm in the top 5 positions, and only 3 in the first 10, and then one firm in the search result forgets to mention Financial Planning on the front page of it’s website. Both the Web Designer and the Site Owner should be ‘put out to graze’ or at least ‘retrained’!!

The good thing is that for most consumers is that they are a resilient bunch and will use a range of search terms to find you, however there are a number of websites/business owners in your competitive world that are getting this right.

These are going to be getting the lions share of business in your niche, if not immediately then at some point.

What are you getting found for? If It is not for the things you do or want to do then you need to get some work done as soon as you possibly can.

It gets even worse than that…….If you search for Financial Adviser there is only one Financial Adviser on the front page of Google (in the non paid for listings), a recruitment agency, a few trade newspapers and a couple of WIKI’s, but no IFA firms.

Okay, there were some ‘sponsored links’ but very few potential clients searching will click on those (around 2%) Just out of curiosity I called two of these firms paying for ‘sponsored’ links and asked them if they could provide me with ‘Pensions Advice’ in my local area, two firms paying to advertise at a target market in an area they cannot service…Absolute Madness!

The moral in the story here is if you don’t understand ‘Sponsored Search’ on the Internet LE A V E I T A L O N E it will NOT work and will get you to the ‘poorhouse’ very quickly!

If used correctly the exercise that is coming will transform your business. I know that most firms provide great quality services and products but so what!! For many advisers, your potential clients just do not get to you using the same reference terms as you.

They are not looking for advice, they are looking for a solution to a problem or a potential problem.

The fact remains that in order to survive the coming new order the information age, you are going to have to do things a little differently, and of course need to have a good deal more ‘consumer focus’ and to put yourself on that proverbial pedestal. Levels of income will be plummeting unless you get work done in this area NOW!! Your online marketing and your online positioning needs to be created asap.

So where do you start with your Marketing and your Online presence?.

Research and a Niche. You cannot be and will not be ‘all things to all men’ (who said that) it’s not possible to be a General Practitioner and make the money you need to keep your Wives/Husbands and Children happy, let alone to keep Doreen or Alan who makes the tea in a job.

When considering your options you can have more than one ‘niche’, indeed you could have several ‘niches, which of course means several areas to target and once you have determined these areas you can then progress on to the more interesting stuff!

Your exercise today is to take a single product area that you are interested in and that you would like to generate more business in and have or done ‘good business’ in this area in the past. Brainstorm the number of possible options for naming this class of business, for example Roofing.

Now there are some of the options for Roofing

Slate…

Tile…

Flat…

Felt..

Asphalt.

And a range of roof types in between. Now you have to work out what your potential customers will be looking for, do they use the same words, the same key terms.

For each key business area you are interested in, you should be able to come up with at least a ‘handful’ of different terms for each one of your chosen business areas, you should be able to find out exactly what type of client buys these products or services from you, and what they call it. What is it they are buying? Is that what you are selling?

Go and check out the local competition, check websites, check other local advertising, make some calls, speak to the Insurance Companies, find out who is doing the most business in your area for your target market. Do some research to find out why? What are they doing differently?

For example if you sell Roofing what are your client’s are buying, a cure for leaks, better insulation? What about if they have a thatched roof.

You need to find out and then market to their aspirations!

You should by now be able to identify your target client, now you know what it is they are looking for and what they call it, you just need to focus on where these people are and how much they are prepared to pay for it.

Now, you could find that using the marketing term Roof Repair, attracts a certain type of client, and of course I am not going to go through these now, however for each key term you will be identify a type of client, or potential client. These in marketing terms will be your target, the reason you need to go through this exercise is to segment your target and use the terms that your potential clients use.

Your target market for Roof Repairs is not E V E R Y O N E, not everyone has the money, the inclination or the nous for Pension Planning, but some people do. Just go and find them.

Use the information you have now gleaned to market your products and services in way that is appropriate to your market place, not only in what your are selling, but what your client’s are buying. You are selling Pension Planning, but your clients are buying Tax Efficient Savings, or Long Holidays in the East, post 65. You are not going to sell Tax Efficiency to a client looking for ‘Long Holidays’ – they simply won’t buy it, you will just create pressure and objections to overcome.

You have to be providing what it is your client’s want and your marketing is made easier if you use the same terms and the same language as them. Look the internet makes it very easy to do, you can create pages immediately, post them on your site, alter them, apply different terms, different language targeted at specific clients language.

A little research with a little ‘brainstorming’ will give you a list of key phrases and key terms to target your market with a ‘laser like’ focus. You can then simply use this information to ‘narrow down’ your research and create a ‘unique proposition’ for your market place based on what it is your potential clients are buying. Remember the analogy they are buying ‘holes in the wall and not drills’.

A marketing piece that states “Independent Pension Advice”, has a lot less meaning to many groups than “Company Director Tax and Investment Planning” – The fact is in the first quote you are attracting all of the people that want advice about any Pension matter, and of course attracting them all is a quick way to the poorhouse.

In order to maximise your potential you will need to focus on one or more well researched product, or advice areas, planning issues. Your business must be a ‘laser targeted missile’ focused on one or more target areas. If there are two targets you will need more missiles.

Finding that elusive White Rhino – a story for 2010 – For IFA’s and Big Game Hunters.

The summer in the UK will soon be coming to an end, and of course in the southern hemisphere spring is starting, every couple of years  I spend at least  a week game hunting in South Africa. For those who have not been there; the Big Game is well worth going to see at least once in a lifetime.

My story here is about preparation and of course hunting, it is a skill that is easy to learn provided of course you get the basics right.

I wanted to see a White Rhino some years ago and have seen plenty since, but then again I now know where to look and how to prepare.

So here are the steps you need to take to find one of these elusive and rare creatures.

Get yourself to Africa, after identifying it is indeed a White Rhino you want to spot. If you are looking for Northern White Rhino all you need is a Zoo as all the survivors are in captivity. So I trust it will be the Southern White Rhino for you, as it was for me.

Establishing the target now makes life a little simpler, all we now need to do is establish a couple of further points to make our lives a little easier. Some pointers for you (things we need to know).

White Rhino – Habitat – where it lives, where it hangs out, what time it feeds and breeds. White Rhino are grazers therefore living in the African Grasslands (Savannah) if you are not there, the chances are a bit slim.
White Rhino – Feeding and Drinking what it eats, and where it drinks (there is a good chance it will hang out in these places at least once per day). Noting of course that
White Rhino Play Areas – where it meets it’s mate (the opposite sex) as it will often turn up there a specific times, there is a breeding season for most of us.
Once  you have identified all of these things you can start your hunt, however preparation is the key, you will need; basic camping and survival supplies such as sunscreen, bug spray, mosquito netting, a flashlight and first aid supplies, you get my drift. Not forgetting of course some hired help, some maps and of course a decent vehicle (not forgetting fuel).

You will also need to make sure you have enough cash to cover travel expenses and associated costs, and make sure you have all of the right Passports and Visa’s etc etc.

Once you have all of this place you are in a position to hunt Rhino and  I wish you good luck.

You can of course wonder about the relevance of this story and wonder how it fits with the modern IFA world.  It’s simple, replace Rhino in the above text and replace it with “Ideal Client” and you have the start of your Marketing Plan,  in order build your practice you need to identify what it is you want for your business and to make sure  you target only your ideal client.

I have spoken to many IFA’s who tell me that everyone is their target market?

To that my response is All?

Does that include some of these, people with no money, people in serious debt, people with specialists needs, people with needs in areas you are not authorised in etc, etc. Of course your target client is not everyone.

Fact: The more focused your practice the more success you will have.

The solution for today in this frenetic multi media world where were are bombarded with bad news and advertising is to have some focus, hang out where your target is and present to them in way that fits their lifestyles, needs and objectives. Importantly by using the various modern methods you can “get them used to you” using automation.

Once you have them in your sights, you might have several chances to ‘get them’, and sometimes you might have turn up at the water hole at regular intervals in order to get your shot or better a  photograph (even a meeting). What  I can confirm to you is this, targeted preparation is key and of course a prerequisite in this modern business world.

Good Luck and happy hunting.

 

Richard Smith

Suppliers of sunscreen, bug spray, mosquito netting, a flashlight and first aid supplies

You will have to research who your client is, what they look like, where they go, what they do, where they frequent, what they read and market to them using their language. Prove your specialist ability to them and they will buy. Focus on the words they use, the internet search terms they use and alter your Internet presence and ‘present’ information accordingly.


Often an Internet Search, picking up some local magazines or papers will point you in the right direction.

Remember to describe yourself as something a little different and when asked what you do you should be able to reply……’I provide investment planning solutions to those aged over 65 who are retired and are looking to increase their income on low risk basis’.

This sounds more focused than I provide investment advice’ and opens up a range of topics to discuss, of course it narrows down your focus, but then again should help you filter out the time wasters and those that are potentially ‘high maintenance’. Of course high maintenance is good if they are also high paying.

One thing that occurred to me sometime ago was this – Generalist Practitioners are going to find themselves very limited in the new world ‘post RDR’ so get real on this now. We all know that your local GP earns a lot less on average than a Specialist Surgeon.

You need to be selling and marketing what your potential clients are buying/want to buy or all of your marketing, business development efforts will be made a lot harder.

As an aside I can hear you all screaming now, I don’t have the time for all of this, too busy.

Busy doing what? Pushing a piece of paper around your desk. Look this work is £150k per annum work, if you want to earn £18k per annum keep moving that paper, Get a freelancer in, delegate it, don’t do the admin, if you carry on in the same way, you will get same results, you must make a plan now……Deep breath!!

Before you start to implement any form of marketing exercise make sure you have worked out a plan for it, who, how much and over how long, make sure there is a multiple step marketing system in place (Sales Funnel) and of course you should ensure that all of your marketing has a support process in place for it as there is nothing worse than a potential client phoning and your sales process not being ‘up to scratch’.

Finding and Deploying Quality Content For Your Website and Related Marketing

Because we live in a ‘fast moving world’ there is no shortage of information for your website and of course your marketing, however as we discussed in the last article relevance is the most important consideration! I believe there are a two types of IFA firms out there at the moment, a limited few that ‘get’ what I am talking about, and the vast majority that really don’t. For those of you in the larger majority there is change coming and of course if you get it right the rewards are there for the taking.

One of the main considerations when planning and building any website or internet presence is the content, and with that I mean ‘relevant content’. If you look around at enough Web Sites created by Specialists (and I do not mean the local Web Site Designer – most of them know very little about marketing and even less about Financial Services firms) you will find out very quickly that Content is King for your Website!! The better the content, the more traffic you will get and then you will make sales from it, but only on the assumption that your Website is trying to make you sales…unbelievably some seem not to want to do this!

As a minimum your Website should be there to start a relationship, to show that you are a leader in your field, and if not you, then your firm. It is easy to explain why most IFA Websites do not deliver and do not bring in any business for you…..is it because your content is just not relevant for what you are trying to do, or lacks any quality?

Your website is similar to the balance of your marketing, however it should be very fluid, your choice of words, graphics and overall presentation can be altered as and when required, unlike printed material which needs to be designed, printed and then find it’s way on to your clients desk. For those of you with compliance matters holding you back, you must find a way. Compliance departments must get a handle on this Web Based stuff they will be out of jobs very soon. IFA’s are not going to survive doing the same stuff they have been doing for years.

Far too many Websites focus on the risk warnings (that are often irrelevant for the subject of the content) and take up more space and time than is really required.

So when focusing on your content, you must make sure it is relevant for your (target) audience, it must have a desired outcome, it must inform, it must confirm yourself as an expert in your field and get your potential customers to take some action, call, email or at least to do something.

In reality, if you sell investments or investment advice you will need to make sure that your audience hears what you are saying, they are not interested in the most recent updates to the Acme Building Society ‘lending criteria’ or ‘fixed rate’ deals.

I have provided a couple of exercises for you at the end of this article.

So many IFA websites are full of content that is just not relevant, poorly presented and of course badly constructed by Web Designers who are just that, Web Designers! Your business needs more than design!

One of the best things your Website can do is to make yourself stand out a little.

Financial Services Firms miss (mainly due to the focus on Term of Business, risk warnings and oodles of other information) is that your Clients and your Potential Clients want to know what makes you different, what makes you stand out, why they should deal with you. Having an opinion, taking a stance and explaining why you think something is like it is gives you the edge, basically a reason someone should do business with you, rather than your competition.

Your website should be there to inform about a range of subjects, however it should not be a rant, your comment must be ‘thought out’ and supported, but must be a ‘call to action’, and to position you and your business as the ‘go to guy’.

Potential clients should be treated differently than existing clients; they have already taken your advice and therefore need the same information to be provided but in a slightly different way. Certainly this issue of client segmentation is important, and there is no reason for your content not to be segmented and directed accordingly.

Finding Topical Information.

It should not be difficult to find something to say about a topical subject if you ‘take of the blinkers’ and remove some of the information filters, then you will find there is a lot going on. Remember you are seeking to solve problems, and most of your clients have problems that can be solved by you.

Your research sources could be those that have an opposite view to you. Seek them out, look at the respected commentators in your chosen field, Fund Managers, Industry specialists, “Gurus” from Insurance Companies, all of these can provide you with the one line or opinion you need in order to ‘oppose’ or ‘confirm’.

Some further samples of these are Newspapers, comment on Blogs, Internet Sites and Search Engines and subscribe to RSS (really simple syndication) feeds which you can find on any search engine. If you really have not got 5 minutes per day ( and I don’t believe you when you say you have not) get a PA to do it, provided of course your PA is able to, and is a share holder in your business. If not you do it, it’s your future you are working on.

Online Forums – they will tell you where your potential customers have pain, things they would like answers to, which you can then simply turn this into a series of comments on your website. I am not talking about providing answers to questions on some of the bigger consumer finance forums; this will never make you money. The people that hang about there have no intention of spending money, just parasitic creatures who want it ‘all for nothing’. You business will never survive with this kind of client.

You should use email whenever you update your website, or have a comment to make and create a separate page on your website (more information on using some of the Blogging Software is not for here, but will be on the Website), once posted on your website, make sure that your clients know about it asap….use SMS services if very urgent – they must take action!!

If no one knows, no one can react, or even think about ‘buying in’ your services unless you tell them ‘what you are about’ and ‘what you have done’.

How about thumbing through some client files, posting the ‘before and after’ on your Website, people will soon find it if you create the compelling content. There is no need to disclose personal information.

You will soon start to realise that you are now swamped with information, some of it true and correct and much of it flawed, or not telling you the whole story. Most commentators are not qualified to talk on a subject such as financial planning and this is your call to action. Where you have a story (particularly an angle with a human interest) you should make the most of it.

The Options and Mediums for Delivery

Website Pages – Text, Blog Posts, Tweets, Facebook and Social Media Comment, Audio, Podcasts, Emails all duplicated on your website for all to read or even recorded and sent through Itunes as a Podcast for example. I am not sure if there are any IFA’s Podcasting (or is that a stupid question).

Video – both on your website, posted out to your client on CD, or placed on You Tube and other Video sites. If you can talk you can record presentations made using presentation slides and all of this can be recorded using ‘Free Software’ which is widely available.

Graphics – Showing your office, your staff, things that you can do, statistics, images of all sorts. One firm we work with only shows pictures of their home town and much of their internet traffic is derived from people wanting to see these often ‘quirky’ pictures, people looking to connect, so that proves that some human interest will work for you. Guess what….? Some of them even end up buying. Surprise eh!

Use charts – information about the market(s), about product sales and claims history, sample premiums, why buy now etc etc.

Show statistics – Death Rates, Critical Illness Rates. IHT Collection Amounts.

Spreadsheets – Calculators for your clients to use covering topics such as Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax, don’t make them the same as the usual rubbish, but make sure it adds value. You can all use Excel, make sure you brand it and put some links back to your website.

Collect and prepare Testimonials – Success Documents – Mrs Smith’s investment portfolio success story, what her position was when you met, what you did to improve it, and where she is now. Social Proof of what you do….. What pill did she take and for what diagnosis and of course how did her treatment make her feel.

Utilise email – it’s nearly free and with some of the automated options available you can be out of the office and your message is being delivered ‘on the fly’. On this point most of your younger customers will have 24/6 handheld devices and will get your message wherever they are. Always use a PS to add some gravity and always provide options for them to subscribe or receive special offers or secret information.

Post – a hand written note, completed with a Quill Pen and Ink, delivered by Pigeon will always be opened. Save it for your very special customers, the rest can have a stamp, but always hand write the address….It adds a lot. Letters still work. Look, you can post a printed page of an email to them, even posting emails that you would have sent to client’s as you don’t have their email address.

Telephone Message- you can prerecord these, information lines attached to a Freephone number linked from your website are a forgotten method of marketing. Customers love it, there is no pressure, and guess what it’s automated!

Any combination of the above, look lets say you have made some comment about a particular piece of legislation, there is nothing to stop you making the comment, posting it on your website, sending a copy to all of your ‘introducer’s and ‘professional connections’, then getting your PA to call 20 of your clients that you think might be ‘affected’ and telling them about the important content.

From now on in if you are not doing this, one of the local IFA firms will! I know that less than 5% of you will take this on board and less than 1% of you will take action and you had better hope that the 1% are not local to you or sharing your client.

You will find that the most successful firms in any business use a mix of all of the above techniques. Some, or all of these will work for you, however you should start trying them today and as I have said before, if you don’t one of the firms we are working with WILL and then you really will be in trouble.

All of this is really Treating Customer’s Fairly, is cheap and of course ‘in the main’ automated.

 

Before you close this page, go and have a look at the Websites of those in the Financial Industry that are clearly doing more business than your firm. I think you will be surprised or shocked to find that they provide more content on their websites, in a more engaging way and use several mediums to deliver it ( go back through the points already mentioned) you should not be surprised that their ‘Websites Work’ and address each aspect, you could say that take the issue of marketing via their websites very seriously.

 

In fact they take all of their marketing very seriously. Not a surprise they provide advice to more people than you and because of this they are more successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

Starting Developing and Maintaining Relationships

 

Richard Smith – IFA Marketing Expert at the I

 

This week I want to talk about starting, building and maintaining relationships.

 

No matter what you do in your business, now matter how good your product or service is; no matter how good you are, it means nothing if you are not able start, build and maintain relationships.

 

Your clients are no different to Wives and Lovers once you stop talking the relationship is over. Do you remember the early days of romance, the ‘banter’ and fun? Late night phone calls, which of course would now be Email and SMS Messaging. Everything was new, fresh, and you had a lot to talk about, learning all about each other. Some of you may remember those days.

 

There is a simple analogy for what goes on in all Financial Adviser practices today and it’s this. I am sure you are familiar with the term ‘Arranged Marriage’, you see in parts of the world (often out of economic or social necessity) this is normal practice, now no ethnic or political debate here, but what happens is that they take an ‘ember’ and turn it into a ‘Burning Flame’ meaning that love builds slowly when two strangers are ‘drawn’ together. The opposite of that is the English (or Western way) that is to take a ‘flame’ and turn it into ash”. Two opposing views, but this is exactly what happens when your practice first meets a new customer and you do not get the relationship management right in the first instance.

 

A big flurry of activity and then nothing, once paid many firms forget to engage, of course the odd crappy newsletter that say’s nothing, but of course is compliance approved, no opinion, no call to action’ nothing really worth reading. This is the limit of the dialogue from many firms.

 

Oh, some of you might send the odd email, perhaps even a letter with some fund updates, but I am constantly surprised that the lack of intent to maintain a relationship with clients is so consistent, half ‘cocked’ and often not considered at all. That ‘pile of ash’ is coming quickly.

 

Get the communication right and your business will start to change!!

 

I have said this before, I will say it again (it’s not my line, but makes so much sense, it belongs to a fellow called Robert Craven, if you have not read any of his chapters or seen him present, you should…. there is a link to him from our website). He said “Your business needs to have ‘Raving Fans’, clients that love you and love your business.” Your sole objective with your Marketing is to find Friends, flirt a little, then turn them into Lovers, Marry them, and avoid Divorce. Kids or referrals are optional you just need to ask.

 

The value of your business is directly reflected in the quality of your relationships, the better you are at managing these relationships the better your business will do, the better the process you create for doing this, the more time you can spend on the Golf Course.

 

If you are not sure about where to find people to ‘flirt with’ you should go back and read the previous chapters, ‘flirting or prospecting’ (now called a marketing process) is your starting point, finding people that not only want what you, but want to work in your way are your potential long term ‘mating partners’.

 

You need to develop a system for maintaining these relationships (preferably automated, our own Christmas List was compiled 4 years ago, and is just added to…

Christmas Messages are sent at a click of a mouse, it takes 15 seconds max, are yours?) Then write the system down so anyone in Your Team can do it.

 

You will need several….lists of clients you have done business with, not done business with, lists of professionals, meddlers, time wasters, mouth pieces and they all should be marketed to on a regular basis using ‘automated systems’, you just need to ‘tweak’ the messages in accordance with the relationship.

 

Sometimes you can send the same information to different lists, sometimes the content can be loosely targeted, but whatever the content, whatever you send communication is THE key. Doing more business with people you have relationships with will solve more problems than it creates.

 

Every one of your clients will want information in a different way, for you your objective should be to make it easy for yourself and them. Electronic is best, Email, Blogs, Podcasts, Audio, then Post (we have some very useful systems for automating conventional mail which should be in use by most firms).

 

You will need to ask each client how they prefer to receive updates and information, and then use these preferences. Do a survey today, give them a call, send an email you may even do some business. I know that at least 1 or 2 clients will be pleased to speak to you. Once you have found out the preferred medium use it.

 

Sales Funnel

 

Provided of course you have managed to maintain the relationship with your client you will know exactly where they are in your sales funnel (you do have a sales funnel don’t you?). Most 30 year olds have different needs once they get to 39 or 50 or even 70. As an IFA firm you are very lucky, you can always help them with something, in particular as you ‘know your client’! Lifetime planning means for the whole of their life not yours.

 

There is no point in speaking to single 30 year olds about Family Protection (unless you want a conversation about protecting against a family, but that’s normally reserved for parents). But there are other reasons to talk to them, a little focus on potential needs and life stages will give you an idea of what to say, when and of course how. There’s one funnel for you use, it might be spread over 40 years but it is a funnel.

 

So where are your clients in your process (you haven’t really got one have you?), so go and work one out, and then target your message accordingly.

 

Here are some of your options for communication.

 

Letters
Postcards
Telephone (mobile and landline)
Fax (Broadcast and Personal)
Email
SMS
Website
Podcast
Video
Video Presentation
Seminars
Face to Face

 

You can use any combination of the above, and these combinations are important.

The use of your own style will have an impact on which to choose however you will need to get a process, determine which methods you are going to use within that process and then test them. Once you have found something that works for your business, your clients and your style use it until it stops working. Of course remember to test other mediums to ensure you have a ‘back up’. Plan B and C are always helpful and could support A.

 

Here is an interesting one…. A couple of IFA firms we have worked with have been known to give away Free Wills, prepared by a local Will Writer at ‘cost’. These cost the firm some £30 each and they get to interview at least 3 couples per week. It’s cheaper than buying in leads from one of the Lead Generation firms, adds a lot of value and of course completes a financial planning need, there are no compliance issues and of course this works. Now that is what I call Treating Customers Fairly.

 

What are you doing in your business this week in order to add some value? What are you telling your clients when you right to them? Are you making sure all of your communication is adding value to the relationship and of course the business. You should be willing to do whatever it takes to get your clients consulting with you and course paying for it.

 

In order to manage your relationships you just need to think, where they are now in the process (not sold, sold to, managing), find out what the preferred method of communication is and use that initially. Ever so often send a ‘googly’, by using a different medium. What I mean is that if you usually post letters, send an email telling them to watch out for it, then SMS the day before, and make sure you send the letter in your best Quill Pen Calligraphy and get it delivered by Pigeon with a Wax Seal on the back of the envelope, your response rates will go ‘through the roof’. If they don’t perhaps you need to start flirting with these people again.

 

Monitor all communication and act accordingly, if there is no reaction to your attempt, check your desired outcome – what is it you want them to do? Is that clear from the communication, if it was clear they could be in the arms of someone else – Adultery (where the grass always seems greener)? Action taken now could save your marriage, provided of course you want to ‘save it’. Always be happy to let a relationship collapse where it has run its course. No one ever expects you to marry your first love; sometimes it ‘pans out’, however’ often it ends in disaster or worse.

 

Never Be Afraid To Sack A Client – You File For Divorce!

 

Needy, ‘High Maintenance’ relationships should only be kept if it suits the business, and for no other reason. ‘Needy’, ‘High Maintenance’ clients are ‘parasites’ on your business. Think about this….if you need a specialist Oncologist to treat your Cancer – they do not do home visits at 8pm on a wet Wednesday evening, also you can’t phone Google – perhaps one of the greatest ‘service providers’ on the planet.

 

You have to go out of your way to meet with these specialists, your clients should respect your time and your methods for doing business and be prepared to go out of their way to meet with you.

 

For those clients than want evening meetings, or meetings in Torquay when your office is in Bristol, remember this, they are not ideal clients unless it suits you. Your business cannot afford to work with them. Let them down politely, or agree a different service level, if you are that good at your job (have a very big pedestal on which to stand) then you will have no problem convincing them to work with you on your terms. Come to an arrangement, charge them travelling time (at least the same as you would earn when with a client), there are plenty of options here. Certainly the use of technology will help.

 

Before I end on this subject I think it is worth saying that all of this applies to relationships you have now, have had in the past, to people that have made enquires and that have not done business with you, to those that have been introduced to you by third party introducers and to those that will be introduced to you once you get some of this right.

 

I am absolutely convinced that most IFA firms are not sufficiently profitable because too much time is spent not focusing on relationships…..the value of your business and the quality of your business life is dependent on these.

 

Perhaps the reason your IFA practice is not doing as well as it should be, is because it’s all about you and not about your Systems, and your Marketing Relationships. The fact is your business will never be worth what it should be whilst it is all about you and your poor relationships. There are a good number of IFA firms run on a flexible workforce, with automated systems and written processes. If I take a day off, or even a week the business still continues. Does yours?

 

 

 

Why a call to Action is Important – Why you must have a USP or be able differentiate yourself.

 

Over the course of the last 4 chapters I have produced an outline for you in order to determine who your customers should be and advised methods of finding them along with a system for marketing to them using the various methods. All of these pointers are not new and have been around for years. You will of course need to make them fit your business, and if you take action your business will start to take off in the right direction.

 

With the RDR looming you have no choice but to consider the options for your business, exactly what the proposition will and how you are going to get the clients that will pay you for the advice you will provide.

 

Now just because we all know that IFA’s provide the best kind of financial advice and that these are the ‘guys you should go to’ does not mean that they will. It’s your marketing and your marketing message that will ‘put you on the pedestal’ and position yourself as the expert. Once you have done so there will be no shortage of business as indeed there is now for those getting all of this marketing stuff right.

 

For the final instalment I want to cover the most important things you will have to do in order to make your marketing work for you.

 

USP – Unique Selling Point (or Proposition) – How is your business different from the rest of the competition.

 

Whilst this might seem obvious to you, try this simple exercise. Pick up one of the local ‘business pages’ and find a list of Financial Advisers, look at there ad’s. You will not be surprised to see that they all say the same, often the same font, layout and choice of words. “Want Decent Mortgage Advice, Call Us – We’re Independent”, what happens the prospective clients just thinks to themselves – so what.

 

Often the copy within the ad goes on to explain about how they are authorised, how professional they are, boring and the same. Do you think for one minute when you walk into the offices of one of these firms the experience is the same, do you think for one minute that the levels of service or expertise will be the same? Of course not. So why advertise in the same medium, using similar copy and content. It’s madness and has gone on for years.

 

It gets worse, often there are local campaigns “Wally the Butcher Celebrates 50 Years In Wallington” is the front page of the local newspaper, and you have been invited to ‘buy special’ advertising on the same page, please ask the question, why do you want your business linked (even psychologically) to Wally the Butcher and ever other business in the area. Is it because you look like Wally, are based next door to Wally?

 

I thought not, the reality is that your business is different and you need to find out why it is, and then use this for your marketing message and never ever position yourself close to or next to another business unless there is clear symbiosis indeed this should be discussed and confirmed beforehand. I am happy to explain why – email me through the website.

 

It gets easier though, if you have done the work that leads up to the Advertisement correctly you would already have identified the kind of client you want to work with, the kind of business you want to be doing and you can make yourself stand out with your marketing.

 

Lets say your target is those over 50 with Pension Pots of more than £50k who are looking to retire at 55. Your marketing message should be focused on them and therefore making yourself different, a sample message could be Over 50 looking to retire sooner rather than later, have a substantial Pension? Acme Advisers providers a specialist service to facilitate this. We have produced a Free report outlining the “10 ways your pension can be used to facilitate early retirement, and the action you must take now” you can get this from our website at…..

 

Now if someone wants mortgage advice, they probably wont bother downloading the report, but those in your target market will. Which of course is the desired outcome for you.

 

The advertising and the report makes you out to be the ‘specialist firm in the area’ and of course only our clients are doing this at the moment. The rest of the competition are yours for the taking.

 

Have a look at all of your marketing today and check to see if it’s targeted, actually do one step more than that get all of your Marketing Material out on your desk or take it home with you tonight.

 

Look through it after Eastenders (I have lots of reasons why you should never watch any TV soap, but that’s not for here) over a glass of wine. Does it fit with any of your targeted markets? Does it compel your likely clients to think you are the specialist?

 

I can almost certainly guarantee that it does not. Anything that is generic, should be binned, recycled. Just got rid of, use your website as the sole source of information, make all of your brochures downloadable, reserve printed copy for a handful of that pay more than anyone else and do not own computers. In all fairness if your clients are not Web savvy in 2010 then realistically you probably cannot afford to service them post RDR anyway. They will not want to pay for your time driving backwards and forwards along with printing and postage costs increasing all of the time.

 

Find your target, focus your marketing, copy and presence on them and nothing else.

 

Everything you do should be focused on them, once you start getting results monitor them and amend accordingly.

 

 

 

Why a Call to Action is important

On this subject of a call to action, there is no point in making contact with any of your customers or potential customers without providing a call to action, telling them what to do next. Visit a website, call a Freephone number, send an email, complete a survey, anything.

 

Look your clients are time short, and need some prodding. Imagine your client as an overweight, lazy Sloth like creature. Stuck in front of the TV watching some daytime TV reading your Newsletter and reads some interesting new things about Pension Planning but is not sure if it’s for him (or her) yet. The phone is just out of fingertip reach on the Coffee Table so he needs to reach in order to pick it up, however being a Sloth is finding it easier to roll back on the sofa and carry on the previous task.

 

What are you going to say to that potential client to make them reach to pick up the phone. Now say that!

 

Give them a choice of response, they could send a text message, return a post paid card, email, visit a website. If you don’t do this another firm will, perhaps one of the firms we are working with. Not complicated at really is it.

 

Most large businesses in the world spend many millions on marketing their brand, and indeed if we consider Soft Drinks, some Alcohol brands along with the major retailers all market their products based on a ‘brand model’ and if you have really deep pockets or a large global business this would be great for you to do. For most Financial Advisers this kind of marketing is pointless and will get you to the Poorhouse very quickly.

 

The term call to action is one that a lot of marketers and business owners miss but if used correctly will change your marketing from bland and unsuccessful to fantastically profitable and in just a few steps.

 

In any of your sales messages you need to tell your customer, client whoever what to do next, call, phone, send and email, clip a coupon, enter a prize draw what ever it needs to get them to move to the next stage. You need to prod them into making the next move. Sometimes they need prodding quite hard.

 

Whatever you say in your copy or message needs to prick there conscious enough for them to have an AHA moment, one of those must do moments, getting them to take action is most important. Which is why I love the use of the PS, it just gives you another chance if all else has failed.

 

You simply need a call to action indeed you may need several call’s to action for each different marketing target. Some will want to phone, others email, perhaps even downloading a free report, listening to a Podcast, applying for a Free CD or an Invitation to a Seminar, the list of course is endless. You must make the ‘Sloth’ react.

 

If there is no attempt at getting them to take further action all you have done is paid for message to be sent in the hope that your message will get through the thousands of marketing messages that are seen every day.

 

Hope of course is not a plan, hope is wasted opportunity.

 

There is nothing wrong with altering your message from Contact us today, to “we have saved clients like you from certain financial failure, if you want to avoid being the next victim download the free report, send an email to, listen to the podcast’.

 

Now I know that most IFA firms will not want to disturb or upset, but the truth remains are you going to leave a potential client to suffer at the hands of a poorer quality, less specialised Adviser just because you did not disturb them enough to call you. Sell solutions not advice or product. (Have we been here before).

 

You need to get this right, you need to be persuasive enough with all of your marketing to ensure your potential customers take action, getting them to do what you want them to do. Failure is an option and if it does that means your marketing spend and effort will continue to do a disservice to you and your business.

 

It’s interesting to see a small number of IFA firms getting this right, I am not saying you have to be aggressive with your marketing or that you have to be overly exuberant, however in a crowded market place where demands for your products have never been greater (I have the evidence to prove it if you want it call me – just google Internet Consultancy or IFA Marketing Expert, you will find me) you just need to find a way to be different to stand out and to tell your potential clients what you want them to do next.

 

There are now so many mediums you have the option to use however your message must change, you must be focused on your target market using words that they would use and of course place a call to action at the beginning middle and end of any marketing message.

 

Just have a look around at what your competition is doing, what the other IFA firms are up to, get a PA to have a look at some Websites, check some marketing. When you have found these samples do the comparisons I think you will be shocked in that your business is no better then the others in the market place at the moment and less than 1% of the IFA’s reading this will take action (what a damning statistic that is) this fact alone should spur you into taking some action.

 

I trust that having come to the end of these chapters your business is now better positioned than it was, with some clear targets being set along with a process for finding new business that will only improve with work.

 

Of course the RDR proposals are going to become fact and of course you will need to adapt, some of course will retire and like Darwin’s theory others will evolve with better businesses, better levels of advice and of course higher levels of income. Put yourself on that pedestal, straighten that Halo and lets do some business.

 

Critical Mass, Email Lists – One Rule for you and another for the rest

This morning I had an email (the reason you need an email list is to use it) from one of the large retail chains – you know the one that sells everything except food . I have been happy with the service they have provided in the past and have spent a good deal of money with them over the years, it remains to be seen if I will purchase any financial product from them.

They have my email address and I am happy to receive emails about special offers and such like from them. Now there is nothing new in the use of email or in large retailers using their buying power in order to expand into other markets like Financial Services.

Nearly all of them use a “white label financial product’ which means all they bring to the party is a list of customers and some branding, logo’s etc. The firm offering the white label is obviously happy to have the critical mass that these retailers bring.

What I found interesting was the fact they manage, at a few clicks of the mouse and a brief legal agreement (covering commissions etc) to get a complete website up and running that add’s value and delivers for those visiting the site. It’s shame the same cannot be said for most IFA Websites.

Interesting to note though that these websites and others like it, is really driving a ‘coach and horses’ through the regulations that seemingly prevent nearly all IFA’s from having websites that work.

I hear all of the time that content needs ‘compliance sign off’ or “it’s a financial promotion, we will have to get that approved” and then of course that becomes all too difficult and you end up with the same bland comment on your site that every other IFA firm has and there is nothing to make your firm or your service stand out.

But a good number of sites and firms are getting away with this and I wonder why.

Yes of course they are a larger organisations and they have economies of scale, of course they do not provide any form of advice – all sales are non advised conveniently, and having spoken to a couple over the past day or so seems that they do not really understand the issue of ‘independence or not’.

Now I know that you all know that this goes on and will continue to go on and the internet, the web is going to be the medium of choice for many consumers in the future extending out the present usage even further but finding a way must be a goal for you.

To allow your customer based to be eroded so substantially by these organisations that clearly do not care about advice, or indeed it seems about the issue of regulation (or have found another way) is a crime being committed to IFA firms across the country.

So I have a solution, sort your website out, white label a ‘gas electricity, general insurance comparison site’, cross sell everything via the use of email and every other method at your disposal, but do it with a difference. Do it with genuine concern for your customer, a genuine concern for quality advice and product selection. This is your niche, this is where you will shine amongst seemingly stiff competition.

It is possible to automate much of your marketing and your relationships making this easy to do, question is with most IFA’s being so busy moving paper and focusing on that which is not important I doubt you will.

For those that do the brave new world coming is very exciting indeed.

Richard Smith
IFA Marketing Expert

IFAs and Social Media – Reasons you should take action elsewhere – The Goats Milk Story.

Thursday night is a Rugby night in our house, that normally means takeaway food and a couple of beers for me. This week was a little different, whilst my eldest trained in Horsham Park I popped over to Sainsbury’s for some Goats Milk (making Cheese this evening).

Whilst making a decision about how much I was going to buy Dee Blick appeared next to me. Now Dee and I have met a good number of times before and her background, like ours is Financial Services and it was interesting to chat to her again.

For those of you who have not heard of Dee her website is http://www.themarketinggym.org, her book on Business Marketing is a BESTSELLER on Amazon and she is a thoroughly nice lady to spend some time with. If you do not have her book you should rush and buy it now.

Anyway back to our chat, we both provide a range of services to business owners, and Dee of course is a brilliant speaker. You could say that there is a symbiosis between us, there is a definite desire to help Business owners solve their marketing problems.

Now what was interesting is that we laughed about the Social Media Frenzy that everyone is frothing about, everyone seems to be thinking that IT [Social Media] is the solution to all marketing issues for ever. It is not!

Making millions from Social Media is a false hope, so many users are the 12- 14 year olds that are bored in the evening, and others are just those bored at work . Hardly ideal client material. It is banned in our offices. It’s called work for a reason.

It’s also interesting that the FSA is taking a keen interest in Social Media, perhaps they all bored in the office as well (another story there).

This is the reality, yes Social Media has it’s place in modern marketing- maintaining relationships world. It is quick to update large groups of people. However to spend valuable time and money on courses, seminars and strategies is a complete waste unless you have taken time to make it accurately fit your overall marketing plan.

Now I know there will be some of you emailing to say how much you have made from your strategy etc etc. And frankly I don’t believe you. If the owners of these Social Media sites are not making it, then I honestly don’t believe you are.

What you should have in place is carefully crafted process for building and maintaining customer relationships, like the good old days. You might remember some of these from those dusty sales and marketing books, the letter (even a hand written note), the telephone (if not from you then from a member of staff), press releases, email, fax, newsletters and presentations to name a few. Just plain old customer service.

Yes of course you can move some of these online and I recommend you do so,  however you should not be blinded by the next new thing. We do live in a rapidly changing world and you do need to adapt but ignore the stuff that really works at your peril. Your customers have not changed, they still want the same thing.

As I have said before most IFA’s are happy to buy in leads at £50 – £60 per time but resist spending 30 minutes making phone calls to existing clients who really want to hear from you.

Before you run off and spend hard earned money on the next new thing think about your options, where did your last sale or fee come from? How did you get it? Do some more of that first and only then start to focus on the next new thing.

It was interesting to see that Google have produced some White Papers arguing for further spending by Financial Firms in order to meet the need of consumers and the number of searches carried out for financial products has been increasing. The reality is many of these searches are not from people wanting to actually do business. The 100,000 searches a month done for Financial Planning would swamp the industry if they all turned into enquiries. Which suggests to me something else is going on.

Importantly I have not seen many IFA Websites that actually deliver the information that customers are looking for, nor do many have the correct levels of interactivity and nearly all are not optimised for the Search Engines. Spending good money on marketing a pretty bad website will be a poor return on investment.

You have been warned.

Meanwhile pop over to Dee’s site and download some of the great stuff she has provided there free of charge, and of course if you want to discuss Goats Milk at any time Dee and I can be found in Sainsburys at Horsham most Thursday evenings.

Richard Smith

www.theerichardsmith.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging to the Bank – The Ultimate Guide to Business Blogging.

 

Version 4.01 updated March 2011

 

 

 

R ichard Smith – Therichardsmith.com and Sussex Enterprise, present “Blogging for Business”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard writes extensively for the Financial ‘Trade Press’ on subjects such as Lead Generation, Internet Marketing and Relationship Management.

 

Home is in Worth, West Sussex, however is originally from Winchmore Hill, North London.

 

 

 

This manual…. both the ‘Free’ Version and the paid for ‘Ultimate’ Version are ‘Work in Progress’. The internet changes so fast with products and services coming online, so please make sure you have the up to date version by downloading it again and those fortunate to have the ‘paid version’ will be updated automatically.

 

 

 

Where I have included technical details I have assumed some level of knowledge, as always if you do not know what I am going on about please feel free to contact me in order to ‘ask the question’.

 

Blogging Basics – who needs a Blog?

Since 1994/5 when email first started to show in our lives, there has been a need for business owners to adapt to the changes, and this change has not slowed. Indeed with the Dot Com Boom of the 90’s everyone started to be aware of the internet.

 

As I update this manual the Barak Obama campaign for re election in the USA has already sent Half of One Billion emails, and that makes the overall emails sent since he started his campaign for Presidency to over 4 Billion. Now if email did not work……!!!

 

The fact is this…. Email is the Killer Application for the Internet, still is and will be for a good deal of time to come. Handheld and mobile devices (Iphone and Android Phones make email even more personal).

Blogging of course is really the next thing on from that, and a combination of the two gives you a ‘killer business presence’.

 

Change has come fast and now we have the likes of Google as the main starting point for business owners and individuals when doing research about products or services. ‘Google it’ or ‘just search for it’ has been in popular phraseology for a good number of years and for a very good reason.

 

The current reality for business owners is this, consumers and business will often use the internet as the whole or at least in part for research about you, your business and your products. No findable presence means no or less business.

 

In all of this manual where I use the term (s)

 

Website/Internet Site/Blog/Wordpress

 

These words mean the same and are interchangeable… not that most Web Designers would agree with that.

 

Just to remind you about what I said in the paragraph before, No findable presence means less business, it is as simple as that and the reason I recommend that all business owners start with a WordPress blog is very simple. Basically they work.

 

It was Matt Cutts, over at Google who stated in 2009 that in order to do better in Google, get a Blog, and better still use WordPress. So who should know more about getting found on the internet, Matt Cutts (4 or 5th in command at google) or a local Web Expert, this is simple. Choose your counsel wisely, only do what works and forget the rest.

If anyone tells you they have found a magic solution for Web Profits they are wrong, just wrong there is not one. There are some tried and tested principles that clearly work and this is what you are going to find out about.

 

Why WordPress?

Now there are other options, you could use Blogger, Typepad and a range of others, many Website Designers recommend bespoke coding for the work they do (well they would wouldn’t they) and all of that is not necessary.

 

If Matt Cutts recommends people to use WordPress, who is going to argue with that, we certainly wouldn’t, in any case you know full well that swimming against the tide is far harder than swimming with it. Please note he did not even recommend Google’s ‘in house’ package of Blogger, and I am not surprised.

 

So our recommendation is that for all of your Blogging and indeed for the whole of your web presence you only use WordPress.

 

Get used to telling it all

Get used to making every little detail known about your business and products via your blog, technical updates, amendments, everything. Publish it all. You never know how it is going to be read or indexed.

 

If this means you need to create several Blogs or sub blogs for each part of your business then that’s good as you will find out sharing is good.

 

Some businesses work in several sectors, you could be a HR consultant working in Film and TV along with Manufacturing, your Web Presence (your Blog) should reflect this across 2 or more separate sites.

 

A simple example is:-

Baby Clothes, now you could have several Blogs selling and commenting on everything from Hat’s to Matinee Coats (are they still called that) from Socks to Jumpers, from First Shoes to Mittens.

 

Each item could form a page in your blog, with images and pictures, buy now buttons etc etc. The content and description of the item could come from the manufacturer or be made up by yourself.

 

 

 

WordPress works so well you do not need specific Ecommerce software to sell stuff, really!

 

 

 

You could have separate blogs covering Hats eg. Hats.billysbabyclothes.com or www.billysbabyclothes.com/hats with each sub page titled Pink Hats or Blue Hats, Woolly Hats etc etc.

 

Doing this within your website (s) creates lots of content that is all very different, content that allows the search engines to index them in different ways.

 

 

 

 

H ere we have a Spiders Web, with your Blog at the centre, and your keywords and phrases are spread out in the radiuses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have no idea what your potential customers are looking for until you have done some research, and you therefore have no idea how they are going to find your website.

 

 

 

So until you have done some research, here are some tips.

 

Create pages on your website alled hats, which contains content about Pink Hats, Blue Hats or whatever hats you sell. Single pages of ‘blue hats and pink hats’ are is indexed very differently to single pages with mixed content.

 

If it’s a product, surely it make sense to give it the reward it deserves, it’s own page on your site.

 

Starting to understand a bit more now? I hope so. So lets start to do some research before we make any decisions.

 

The Wonderous Wonder Wheel – a Free Tool on Google.co.uk/or .com

Look how one of the Google tools (The Wonder Wheel) shows the related searches, and you will get a feel for how People search online and how google presents the results.

 

 

 

 

 

Specifically with Hats below.

 

 

 

In the image below we can see a lot of more connected information starting to come out, all of course relating to Hat’s which is the search term Google thinks you are most interested in.

 

 

If we alter the search term you will get a different set of results which is why you must focus on some research before you start building your web presence.

 

Keyword research is a vitally important part of creating your web presence and should be done initially and on an ongoing basis. First. Remember it takes the same amount of time to create a business that goes bankrupt within 2 years as it takes to build a business that succeeds beyond you wildest dreams, the same is with websites.

 

Don’t get ‘hung up’ on research but do some. Remember your internet site is not like having brochures done in print, you can alter adapt and amend it whenever you want to and of course you should do, changed content is always rewarded with a better position in the search engines.

 

The key problem with all websites is the fact that business owners often want a branded web presence rather than something that works. As a business we have never ‘done pretty’, there is no need to, what we do works. Branding is also good, primarily as you have the basics in place. For now let’s do what works.

 

The purpose of your internet presence should be to maintain and build relationships, without traffic to your Blog or Website you can never inform, without people coming back to your site you can never build a relationship with these visitors, without relationships you do not have a business.

 

Your website allows you to closely target your views and product information around the market areas in which you wish to work, it allows you to build links (online links) in places where your likely target market hangs out. If you want to find White Rhino, hang out at the water hole. Eventually they will turn up for a drink. Provided you have what they want, you will have found a visitor who will click through.

 

If you want to attract Rhino, then build a water hole in the middle of the African Plain…..Simple!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more pages you create, the more parts of the puzzle you build, the more traffic you will get and the better you will do in the internet search engines. Google works by using links, in their eyes the more links to your web pages, the more links to your information the better it treats you in search engine results (this is only one part of the story, but an important one).

 

Please note that at this time I am only talking about a certain kind of Website, and this is based on WordPress.

 

Targeted PR.

 

I am sure your businesses reads the trade press, normally there are journalists working for these papers that are desperate for high quality content and most of the time the information and news is boring or does not stand out.

 

The big issue for you is to focus on some ‘low hanging’ fruit first, now lets say HR Weekly runs with comments on Redundancy Counselling Best Practice in Finance Departments, and you have some knowledge of the same in Manufacturing or any other department.

 

A quick blog post outlining your views and experience (a story) emailed to the author of the article after making it relevant to the original article, adding some value will often mean that the publication will provide a weblink back to your blog from the original story. Simply because they want to add some value back to their readers, provided your comment/article adds some value they will do this.

 

What will happen once you have done this a few times is that you will be contacted by the Trade Publication who will want your comment. They will then publish the comment, the next thing is that you are now well on the way to becoming the specialist, the go to gal (or guy).

 

And it all started with a Blog Post.

 

I have done this many times and have had articles and comment published in the Financial Times/Professional Adviser Magazine/Money Management Magazine to name a few.

 

Far too many business owners prefer to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results….Poor souls.

 

Types of Blog

You do have several choices here and the simplest way of getting something published on the web is probably Blogger, you should be able to set one up in a few minutes and start posting your content.

 

The downsides are that you do not own the content and most Blogger sites look a little disappointing and seem not to do well in the Search Engines (Mat Cutts who works for Google, uses WordPress).

 

There are some other ‘freebie’ options and these are ranked below in order of my recommendation

 

1. www.wordpress.com highly configurable, and well supported by a range of Plugins for specific jobs.

 

2. www.typepad.com – very similar to WordPress and very search engine friendly.

 

3. http://www.blogger.com/ easy to set up, you don’t own the content

 

Now as a starting point you can adopt a package with Blogger as this gives you an immediate start. Once done, and after you have had some time to consider the next part of your ‘cunning’ plan for world blogging domination you can import the information you have already posted into the package of your choice.

 

In terms of personalising your blog (to make it look like a website) your research will be important, and it is possible to utilise Graphics from your existing website/stationary to give a similar look and feel. But you can only do this with WordPress and Typepad effectively.

 

Installation instructions on the setting up of WordPress are contained in the premium version of this manual.

 

More important than your choice of graphics though, is the choice of your Domain name – your home on the web and your content. We all know that for Argos it is important to own the domain Argos.co.uk/com however for AWB Plumbers Ltd it is not quite as critical. However Plumber in West Hampstead might be.

 

Always think about your customers, how would they find you?

 

Your domain name should always be focused on your product or service, if you offer 3 products then 3 domain names should be purchased.

 

If your business is primarily UK based then a .co.uk domain will be sufficient, however you may prefer a Globally respected domain and go for a .com.

 

Personally I own over 150 domains in different areas of activity. Some are for past projects and some are for projects I have yet to start. Some I have sold and some I hope to sell. With the Internet not going away anytime soon, owning your own part of web must be considered carefully. For the price of a couple of Coffee’s you can secure yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Hosting – The home on the internet for your Blog.

You have several options here, there are a good number of Internet Service Providers however not all make it easy.

 

Hostgator is the firm we use for all of our Hosting Services this offers a one click install of WordPress. the cost of this is around $5 per month with no set up fee and no long term contracts (in fact no contract).

 

If you want to go down the DIY route (it’s not really that complicated) you can do so here

 

http://secure.hostgator.com/~affiliat/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=richardvc1

 

Our done for you service starts at £20 per month, which means we set up the online presence for you and all you need to do it start posting content.

 

WordPress Themes

There are many themes available for WordPress and all of these are a simple install, not all work as you expect. However many of the free one’s are highly effective.

 

Once WordPress is installed on your site you should change the theme, you can browse hundreds online from inside your WordPress Installation or purchase a ‘premium theme’ the one I use the most is below, it’s called Socrates and was designed for Online Marketing. It’s perfect for new and old users alike.

 

The link is below.

 

http://www.socratestheme.com/cb/go.php?id=richardvc

 

 

 

In order to get any installation of WordPress up and running for you correctly there are a range of options and plugins you will need to make WordPress

S U P E R effective rather than just effective.

 

These are all free add on’s that have a further paid for addition which is optional. I only ever use the free option.

 

Before you can use some of these plugins you may need to set up accounts with Google Analytics and Yahoo (Webmaster) Account. These are not mandatory but will simplify matters later and make your overall blogging experience better for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So which plugins….?

 

Akismet – prevent loads of Spam Comments being left on your site.

 

All in One SEO Pack – Configures your blog for the search engines.

 

WP-Login Security – Prevents your site from being accessed by the Bad Guys.

 

Social Media Page – provides links to Social Media Pages

 

Digg Digg – provides links to various News/Bookmarking sites.

 

Twitter Tools – Links to your Twitter Feed

 

WordPress Mobile Pack – As many of your visitors will be on an IPHONE/Mobile Device this plugin automatically switches your theme to one more compatible. Also includes IPAD – with over 20 million sold you can’t ignore them.

 

Google XML Sitemaps – If you don’t have a sitemap you can wait for months to get your content indexed by Google. This plugin creates one for you and tells Google when it has been updated.

 

Contact Form 7 – Makes it easy to build a Contact form for your visitors to send you email messages.

 

I have not made these available for download as they are updated on a regular basis, you should install the latest versions once you have installed WordPress.

 

As and when this manual is updated I will provide an update to any of these plugins.

 

Content for your Blog

Any form of internet presence must have decent, well spelt and grammatically perfect information. Actually it does not have to be perfect but it does really help.

 

If you are selling Medical Equipment then spelling is more important than if you are selling Baby Clothes, it is your market and you choose how much time you spend on gramma and spelling.

 

You should make sure you run all of your content through your word processor before posting it live on to the internet.

 

Before you post any content on the Internet you should make sure it is spelt correctly and grammatically correct.

 

You can simply cut and paste your content into Microsoft Word and use the built in tools.

 

Make sure you select “Show readability statistics” via the Tools Menu and Options.

 

 

This means that once you carry out a Spell Check you will be left with some further statistics.

 

All of your copy on your Website should have a low score for readability.

 

 

 

From Wikipedia The Flesch/Flesch–Kincaid readability tests are designed to indicate comprehension difficulty when reading a passage of contemporary academic English. There are two tests, the Flesch Reading Ease, and the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level. Although they use the same core measures (word length and sentence length), they have different weighting factors, so the results of the two tests correlate approximately inversely: a text with a comparatively high score on the Reading Ease test should have a lower score on the Grade Level test. Both systems were devised by Rudolf Flesc

 

You should be aiming for a readability score of 8 – 11 (this equates to a reading age = equal to year 8 children (12- 13) if you can make it lower please do so. The easier it is to read the more sales you will make.

 

The King James Bible scores 7 on average.

 

So far this manual is 9.7 okay but higher than I would normally expect.

 

Roald Dahl’s Boy is 7.8

 

It is vital that you use the following when writing for the Web and or in Email, actually in any form of communication.

 

 

 

 

Make it as complicated as it needs to be and no more so.

 

 

 

This may take a little practise but the effort is very much worth it.

 

Finding Content.

I walk around with a little notebook in my back pocket, and make notes whenever I think of or see something that I think can be used.

 

Use your phone, take a photograph, record a note and come back to it later, you will be surprised about how much you can find out by listening and watching.

 

News stories are a great source of relevant content; remember you are just looking to add some value to your readers, your clients or customers. But don’t ever watch the news for the sake of it, far too depressing and there is often little you can really gain from it! (Whoops another opinion).

 

Focus On

Remember if you are selling Baby Clothes your customer is buying a Warm Baby in attractive, modern clothing. Focus on what it does and not what it is.

 

It takes around 10 minutes to type 400 words, and if you can add a photo or image this will add further information for the search engines.

 

By setting up WordPress correctly all of the information and content will be presented to the search engines in the right format.

 

Images are vitally important to your Blogs as they make words seem even more interesting, but they also help greatly with Search Engines, as you can increase relevancy. But be careful with this as It’s not a ‘black art’ yet (any Rubgy Players will know what am talking about) and can be used with the wrong result in mind.

 

Here is an example

 

is the name of the page/post

 

 

 

 

This is the page title.

 

The above is the sub heading and part of the content.

 

 

The image is called “pension advice…| RBS_Fined_Logo

It is called that because it gives us another relevant phrase in the post which of course has a factor in the search results. The image could have been of anything, as Google’s imaging skills are not that good yet. Be warned however they are getting better, and have been known to use people (shocking I know).

 

 

 

This post appears on page 5 within google for the term “RBS Fined”

 

 

So that’s 40th amongst 283,000 highly competitive results. Not really good enough, but remember my bit about the Spiders Web, you never know where your visitors are coming from.

 

Even better than that, the image below shows the real effect on Search Engine results just by focusing on relevant content and structuring it in the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

For the key phrase – ‘Pension Advice More Important Than Ever’ the real reason for this post shows one of our client sites at the top of google, and there are nearly 4 million other pages shown for the same phrase.

 

Now we don’t know how our clients are going to find these pages, however the term is a widely searched term one and one that was taken from a National Newspaper. We just filled the post with relevant content and let the search engines do the rest.

 

It is that simple.

 

Remember that all of the content posted on your Blog or website should be designed to a) be found by people searching for your phrases or words and b) should provide information. It’s called the information super highway for a reason.

 

Researching Key Words and Phrases

There are a number of ways of searching for and determining what comment you should post on your blog, and the simple answer to this will be research, research and more research.

 

In the first instance you should look at your competition, see what they are up to, what choice of keywords they are using and focusing on.

 

Other methods include your Trade Press and Industry Websites, often you can find information and topical content there.

 

There are some simple ways to find critical Keywords and Phrases for your business and I have covered some of these above, using the Google Wonderwheel is one and another is the Google Keyword Tool.

 

http://bit.ly/fFySKY this is a shortened link
You can see below the input pages for using this tool, remember this takes real time information from Google and provides you with a starting point for your blog content.
If no one is searching for what you do, optimising your site for the Internet will not provide you with any more business from it. It might well be that you are naming it the wrong thing, you might be an Accountant but your potential client might think of you as a Bookkeeper-because you do the books. Search terms are therefore very personal.

And the results

 

 

This shows that there are 240,000 searches per month for the term baby clothes. Great a competitive market.

 

 

 

If we widen the search terms

 

 

We get some different results.

 

 

But it also shows up some connected phrases and words that you should also consider.

 

As mentioned before, research is key, then relevant content.

 

Once you have found the key phrases for your site you can then move on.

 

Finding Content.

 

There are various methods of finding good relevant content, and the starting point I have outlined above and is included under the section about research, which will give you a start.

 

From there on in, your customers, buyers, account execs who pop into sell you stuff are all great sources of information about the market place. As mentioned before Newspapers and the trade press will all provide fodder for you to write about.

 

However, there is one key. The internet and your customer base are full of Geeks, Freaks and Weirdo’s, they also spend money on products or services.

 

They might be looking for an alternative view. (Just because you would not dress your child in Black Clothes, does not mean they wont’) Ignore these at your peril, they are human and have money to spend. Some of the most successful sites on the internet focus on Geeks Freaks and Weirdo’s.

 

Discrimination means your Blogging will be less successful and less profitable. Of course you will not cater for everyone from one site, consider your market carefully, do some research and target the market accordingly.

 

Finding Content using Google Reader/Alerts

 

This tool will save you hours and alone is worth many thousands of ££’s or $$.

 

If you have not already got one, open a Google Account today (it’s free).

 

Google reader will allow you to have a range of options pre defined so as Google finds content that matches you search phrase it will save the content and the link for you.

 

With Google Alerts they will send you an email every time they find content for your relevant words or phrases.

 

 

In the image below we have found fees for Baby Clothes

 

 

This content is updated in real time, so you can find out what the rest of the world is talking about and provide similar content for your readers.

 

Google Alerts is a similar service except it sends you an email every time your key word or key phrase is indexed.

 

 

One great use to find out what your competition is doing.

 

Enter the information in the boxes and click create alert and you will get an email every time there is an update.

 

Do you need more information than this?

 

We employ a number of Freelance Researchers (some are Students, some are Retired) we use them by the hour to go and find stuff on the internet for us, others read the Trade Press – we send them the papers and they send back a Word Document with all of the information contained.

 

A very powerful method of keeping on top of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why you must build links from other Websites.

There is a whole industry being built from links, and the latest Algorithm changes at Google meant a lot of websites found themselves deranked.

 

I guess losing a number one or two position within Google must hurt.

The key is this….For many of these websites they were very light on relevant content, and were relying on ‘black arts’ – much link building in order to gain them top positions.

 

Google of course sell search, and relevant search at that is that. The reason most searches online are done on their servers are because they deliver a good deal of content and this content is relevant. This is how they [Google] earn their money.

 

It was certainly the case that up until February 2011 the quality of information provided from Google was poorer than it is now. If you are looking to maintain ranking in the search engines over the longer term make sure your relevant content is good and up to date.

 

Other things you must do:-

 

Use Twitter, cross link your Twitter output with your Blog (there are Twitter tools for this), link to your Facebook – Fan Pages and the rest of your content if you use Facebook for business.

 

Make sure the link to your blog is in the bottom of all of your email signatures.

 

Find out who is talking/writing about your products and services. Find out who is asking questions about your products or services, post comments on their websites, answer questions on community forums, write a ‘how to solve’ guide and let the let the local papers know.

 

In summary, spread the word. That you are the go to firm in the region/country/world.

 

Using Video

Video is a great way to share information, no matter what quality the footage, it should all be used.

 

You can download a free screen capture software, Camstudio, get yourself a cheap microphone and create a simple Powerpoint presentation. (no matter if you have not got a full version of Microsoft Office, you can download Open Office from here and it’s free).

 

All you need is a clip on microphone , prepare your presentation and speak.

 

Record your presentation using the Camstudio software and very quickly you will have Videos on your Blog.

 

We use one of these for making short personal videos Kodak Playsport on Amazon for less than £100 (used) and £149 new. Simple to use/edit and upload to your blog.

 

Use Youtube, make some simple videos about your business and your services, post them to your Youtube account with a link back to your blog, also use Viddler.

 

Linkedin is a valuable tool for creating a presence if you are a specialist or have an ‘angle’ on something, alternative views or a different ‘slant’ on a popular subject always help. There is no point in being the same as everyone else, that only gets you the same results as they get. Often not the one you want. I urge you to try and do other things, they really work.

 

Google Places/Google Webmaster Account – by making sure you list your blog within these options sites you will be getting a ‘backlink’ within one of the most powerful search engines in the world.

 

You can also do the same with Bing – search for Bing Websmaster Account.

 

You need to claim your Google places listing if you have not already done so, and cross link this with your Blog/You Tube Accounts.

 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – what the experts won’t tell you.

 

On one level SEO is really simple, present information to the Search Engines in a manner they like, and voila you are home and dry.

 

The big problem of course is that most websites don’t do this. Luckily for you the benefit of using WordPress is that it delivers most of what is required ‘out of the box’ and only need some tweaks.

 

Fortunately for you, most of your competition will be in the hands of poorly organised and informed website designers who do not/will not focus on the important stuff business owners need. Websites that can be found and your website need to deliver one thing and one thing only which is BUSINESS.

 

No more of that for you.

 

In order to be successful with your SEO you need to do the following:-

 

Use words on your site that are relevant to/connected to your Keywords and Phrases.

 

Make sure the quantity of these words fits; there is no point in stuffing your website with words that do not make grammatical sense, just make sure that you publish content that reads correctly and is peppered with the desired words.

 

If you have the premium version of this manual you will see exactly what I mean.

 

 

 

 

You need to get and receive links from other Websites and Blogs, you can do this by using a simple search query, finding some sites that have linked or relevant information and posting comments. Make sure they add value and are relevant.

 

In order to make sure your blog is linked to as many sites as possible it is possible using the plugins provided to make sure that Google, Bing and Yahoo know when your site has been updated.

 

Importantly there are a lot of other sites that should also know and you should give your visitors the option to link to your post or pages within your blog.

 

You can link to DIGG/Facebook and other News Feeds or Link Engines, however these are the sites I would recommended that you add your content to the first of theses sites as minimum.

 

Action you must take.

 

Once you have your own version of WordPress in the settings options under Permalinks change the setting, you will need to type in the /%…..

 

 

This makes WordPress present the page name as

http://www.theinternetconsultancy.com/another-post-about-widgets

 

instead of http://www.theinternetconsultancy.com/?P=123

Which is about as welcoming to a search engine as Stomach Cramps before Christmas dinner, great if you want to be found for the term P=123!

 

Still in general settings | Writing

 

At the bottom of the page you will find a box. “Update Services” make sure you cut and paste the following list of services into the box

 

List of services

 

============

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/

http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2

http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

http://1470.net/api/ping

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/RPC2

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://bblog.com/ping.php

http://bitacoras.net/ping

http: http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc

http://blogmatcher.com/u.php

http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatt

http://www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/

http://ping.amagle.com/

http://ping.bitacoras.com

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/

http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc

http://ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/

http://ping.exblog.jp/xmlrpc

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://ping.myblog.jp

http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://ping.weblogs.se/

http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2

http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/

http://rpc.blogbuzzmachine.com/RPC2

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/

http://rpc.newsgator.com/

http://rpc.pingomatic.com

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://topicexchange.com/RPC2 //blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC

http://trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php

http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b

http://www.bitacoles.net/ping.php

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogoole.com/ping/

http://www.blogoon.net/ping/

http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates

http://www.blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1

http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

http://www.blogsnow.com/ping

http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi

http://www.mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatter/ping.php

http://www.newsisfree.com/RPCCloud

http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php

http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php

http://www.snipsnap.org/RPC2

http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/

http://xmlrpc.blogg.de

http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

http://www.blogsnow.com/ping

http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://topicexchange.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other sites that will add some further distribution for you however you will need to add to these sites manually

 

http://www.free-press-release.com/members/login.php

 

http://www.npr.org/

http://www.betanews.com

http://www.directionsmag.com

http://www.nanotech-now.com

http://www.prlog.org/

http://www.downloadjunction.com

http://www.newswiretoday.com/

http://www.pr-inside.com/

http://www.24-7pressrelease.com

http://www.pr.com/

http://www.prleap.com/

http://www.free-press-release.com/

http://www.clickpress.com/

http://www.pressbox.co.uk/

http://www.filecluster.com/

http://digitalmediaonlineinc.com/

http://www.onlineprnews.com/

http://www.i-newswire.com/

http://www.cgidir.com/

http://www.przoom.com/

http://www.openpr.com/

http://www.sbwire.com/

 

Some of these will require you to register, and you can then submit your own news update to these services with a link back to your own website for the full story.

 

So what about posting your comments to Twitter, this tool is very useful indeed and it is something you cannot really forget to use. Make it a ‘must use’.

 

Twitter Hash Tags

Twitter uses Hash Tags in order to separate information # is what they look like.

 

 

This means that you post a tweet with a link back to your Website and at the same time target your audience with a hash tag or #

 

Let me give you some examples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The list is endless, find your own ‘niches’ and post using your related #tags.

 

This is not meant to be a definitive manual on twitter, just a sample of possible uses.

 

Email Autoresponders

One of the best things about using the internet is the use of automation, being able to send automated content to your Blog Viewers is a powerful method of building relationships.

 

This is not the manual to cover this area of marketing indepth, the subject is just to vast for here, however make sure you collect email addresses from all of your visitors using a software package and then use email to send them further messages and updates.

 

I recommend 2 options.

 

The first which is AWEBER

 

However if you would prefer complete ownership of your data (regulated firms for example or those that have a Data Protection Licence) you will need to have a different type of service, this starts at a one off cost of £350 with no monthly fee’s and save the cost of hosting the service.

 

It is something you really must do, and the quicker you get this working for you the quicker your business will become self sufficient in terms of leads.

 

Blogging to the Bank – The Ultimate Guide to Business Blogging.

 

Version 4.01 updated March 2011

 

 

 

R ichard Smith – Therichardsmith.com and Sussex Enterprise, present “Blogging for Business”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard writes extensively for the Financial ‘Trade Press’ on subjects such as Lead Generation, Internet Marketing and Relationship Management.

 

Home is in Worth, West Sussex, however is originally from Winchmore Hill, North London.

 

 

 

This manual…. both the ‘Free’ Version and the paid for ‘Ultimate’ Version are ‘Work in Progress’. The internet changes so fast with products and services coming online, so please make sure you have the up to date version by downloading it again and those fortunate to have the ‘paid version’ will be updated automatically.

 

 

 

Where I have included technical details I have assumed some level of knowledge, as always if you do not know what I am going on about please feel free to contact me in order to ‘ask the question’.

 

Blogging Basics – who needs a Blog?

Since 1994/5 when email first started to show in our lives, there has been a need for business owners to adapt to the changes, and this change has not slowed. Indeed with the Dot Com Boom of the 90’s everyone started to be aware of the internet.

 

As I update this manual the Barak Obama campaign for re election in the USA has already sent Half of One Billion emails, and that makes the overall emails sent since he started his campaign for Presidency to over 4 Billion. Now if email did not work……!!!

 

The fact is this…. Email is the Killer Application for the Internet, still is and will be for a good deal of time to come. Handheld and mobile devices (Iphone and Android Phones make email even more personal).

Blogging of course is really the next thing on from that, and a combination of the two gives you a ‘killer business presence’.

 

Change has come fast and now we have the likes of Google as the main starting point for business owners and individuals when doing research about products or services. ‘Google it’ or ‘just search for it’ has been in popular phraseology for a good number of years and for a very good reason.

 

The current reality for business owners is this, consumers and business will often use the internet as the whole or at least in part for research about you, your business and your products. No findable presence means no or less business.

 

In all of this manual where I use the term (s)

 

Website/Internet Site/Blog/Wordpress

 

These words mean the same and are interchangeable… not that most Web Designers would agree with that.

 

Just to remind you about what I said in the paragraph before, No findable presence means less business, it is as simple as that and the reason I recommend that all business owners start with a WordPress blog is very simple. Basically they work.

 

It was Matt Cutts, over at Google who stated in 2009 that in order to do better in Google, get a Blog, and better still use WordPress. So who should know more about getting found on the internet, Matt Cutts (4 or 5th in command at google) or a local Web Expert, this is simple. Choose your counsel wisely, only do what works and forget the rest.

If anyone tells you they have found a magic solution for Web Profits they are wrong, just wrong there is not one. There are some tried and tested principles that clearly work and this is what you are going to find out about.

 

Why WordPress?

Now there are other options, you could use Blogger, Typepad and a range of others, many Website Designers recommend bespoke coding for the work they do (well they would wouldn’t they) and all of that is not necessary.

 

If Matt Cutts recommends people to use WordPress, who is going to argue with that, we certainly wouldn’t, in any case you know full well that swimming against the tide is far harder than swimming with it. Please note he did not even recommend Google’s ‘in house’ package of Blogger, and I am not surprised.

 

So our recommendation is that for all of your Blogging and indeed for the whole of your web presence you only use WordPress.

 

Get used to telling it all

Get used to making every little detail known about your business and products via your blog, technical updates, amendments, everything. Publish it all. You never know how it is going to be read or indexed.

 

If this means you need to create several Blogs or sub blogs for each part of your business then that’s good as you will find out sharing is good.

 

Some businesses work in several sectors, you could be a HR consultant working in Film and TV along with Manufacturing, your Web Presence (your Blog) should reflect this across 2 or more separate sites.

 

A simple example is:-

Baby Clothes, now you could have several Blogs selling and commenting on everything from Hat’s to Matinee Coats (are they still called that) from Socks to Jumpers, from First Shoes to Mittens.

 

Each item could form a page in your blog, with images and pictures, buy now buttons etc etc. The content and description of the item could come from the manufacturer or be made up by yourself.

 

 

 

WordPress works so well you do not need specific Ecommerce software to sell stuff, really!

 

 

 

You could have separate blogs covering Hats eg. Hats.billysbabyclothes.com or www.billysbabyclothes.com/hats with each sub page titled Pink Hats or Blue Hats, Woolly Hats etc etc.

 

Doing this within your website (s) creates lots of content that is all very different, content that allows the search engines to index them in different ways.

 

 

 

 

H ere we have a Spiders Web, with your Blog at the centre, and your keywords and phrases are spread out in the radiuses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have no idea what your potential customers are looking for until you have done some research, and you therefore have no idea how they are going to find your website.

 

 

 

So until you have done some research, here are some tips.

 

Create pages on your website alled hats, which contains content about Pink Hats, Blue Hats or whatever hats you sell. Single pages of ‘blue hats and pink hats’ are is indexed very differently to single pages with mixed content.

 

If it’s a product, surely it make sense to give it the reward it deserves, it’s own page on your site.

 

Starting to understand a bit more now? I hope so. So lets start to do some research before we make any decisions.

 

Now Updated

The Wonderous Wonder Wheel – a Free Tool on Google.co.uk/or .com

Look how one of the Google tools (The Wonder Wheel) shows the related searches, and you will get a feel for how People search online and how google presents the results.

 

 

 

 

 

Specifically with Hats below.

 

 

 

In the image below we can see a lot of more connected information starting to come out, all of course relating to Hat’s which is the search term Google thinks you are most interested in.

 

 

If we alter the search term you will get a different set of results which is why you must focus on some research before you start building your web presence.

 

Keyword research is a vitally important part of creating your web presence and should be done initially and on an ongoing basis. First. Remember it takes the same amount of time to create a business that goes bankrupt within 2 years as it takes to build a business that succeeds beyond you wildest dreams, the same is with websites.

 

Don’t get ‘hung up’ on research but do some. Remember your internet site is not like having brochures done in print, you can alter adapt and amend it whenever you want to and of course you should do, changed content is always rewarded with a better position in the search engines.

 

The key problem with all websites is the fact that business owners often want a branded web presence rather than something that works. As a business we have never ‘done pretty’, there is no need to, what we do works. Branding is also good, primarily as you have the basics in place. For now let’s do what works.

 

The purpose of your internet presence should be to maintain and build relationships, without traffic to your Blog or Website you can never inform, without people coming back to your site you can never build a relationship with these visitors, without relationships you do not have a business.

 

Your website allows you to closely target your views and product information around the market areas in which you wish to work, it allows you to build links (online links) in places where your likely target market hangs out. If you want to find White Rhino, hang out at the water hole. Eventually they will turn up for a drink. Provided you have what they want, you will have found a visitor who will click through.

 

If you want to attract Rhino, then build a water hole in the middle of the African Plain…..Simple!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more pages you create, the more parts of the puzzle you build, the more traffic you will get and the better you will do in the internet search engines. Google works by using links, in their eyes the more links to your web pages, the more links to your information the better it treats you in search engine results (this is only one part of the story, but an important one).

 

Please note that at this time I am only talking about a certain kind of Website, and this is based on WordPress.

 

Targeted PR.

 

I am sure your businesses reads the trade press, normally there are journalists working for these papers that are desperate for high quality content and most of the time the information and news is boring or does not stand out.

 

The big issue for you is to focus on some ‘low hanging’ fruit first, now lets say HR Weekly runs with comments on Redundancy Counselling Best Practice in Finance Departments, and you have some knowledge of the same in Manufacturing or any other department.

 

A quick blog post outlining your views and experience (a story) emailed to the author of the article after making it relevant to the original article, adding some value will often mean that the publication will provide a weblink back to your blog from the original story. Simply because they want to add some value back to their readers, provided your comment/article adds some value they will do this.

 

What will happen once you have done this a few times is that you will be contacted by the Trade Publication who will want your comment. They will then publish the comment, the next thing is that you are now well on the way to becoming the specialist, the go to gal (or guy).

 

And it all started with a Blog Post.

 

I have done this many times and have had articles and comment published in the Financial Times/Professional Adviser Magazine/Money Management Magazine to name a few.

 

Far too many business owners prefer to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results….Poor souls.

 

Types of Blog

You do have several choices here and the simplest way of getting something published on the web is probably Blogger, you should be able to set one up in a few minutes and start posting your content.

 

The downsides are that you do not own the content and most Blogger sites look a little disappointing and seem not to do well in the Search Engines (Mat Cutts who works for Google, uses WordPress).

 

There are some other ‘freebie’ options and these are ranked below in order of my recommendation

 

1. www.wordpress.com highly configurable, and well supported by a range of Plugins for specific jobs.

 

2. www.typepad.com – very similar to WordPress and very search engine friendly.

 

3. http://www.blogger.com/ easy to set up, you don’t own the content

 

Now as a starting point you can adopt a package with Blogger as this gives you an immediate start. Once done, and after you have had some time to consider the next part of your ‘cunning’ plan for world blogging domination you can import the information you have already posted into the package of your choice.

 

In terms of personalising your blog (to make it look like a website) your research will be important, and it is possible to utilise Graphics from your existing website/stationary to give a similar look and feel. But you can only do this with WordPress and Typepad effectively.

 

Installation instructions on the setting up of WordPress are contained in the premium version of this manual.

 

More important than your choice of graphics though, is the choice of your Domain name – your home on the web and your content. We all know that for Argos it is important to own the domain Argos.co.uk/com however for AWB Plumbers Ltd it is not quite as critical. However Plumber in West Hampstead might be.

 

Always think about your customers, how would they find you?

 

Your domain name should always be focused on your product or service, if you offer 3 products then 3 domain names should be purchased.

 

If your business is primarily UK based then a .co.uk domain will be sufficient, however you may prefer a Globally respected domain and go for a .com.

 

Personally I own over 150 domains in different areas of activity. Some are for past projects and some are for projects I have yet to start. Some I have sold and some I hope to sell. With the Internet not going away anytime soon, owning your own part of web must be considered carefully. For the price of a couple of Coffee’s you can secure yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Hosting – The home on the internet for your Blog.

You have several options here, there are a good number of Internet Service Providers however not all make it easy.

 

Hostgator is the firm we use for all of our Hosting Services this offers a one click install of WordPress. the cost of this is around $5 per month with no set up fee and no long term contracts (in fact no contract).

 

If you want to go down the DIY route (it’s not really that complicated) you can do so here

 

http://secure.hostgator.com/~affiliat/cgi-bin/affiliates/clickthru.cgi?id=richardvc1

 

Our done for you service starts at £20 per month, which means we set up the online presence for you and all you need to do it start posting content.

 

WordPress Themes

There are many themes available for WordPress and all of these are a simple install, not all work as you expect. However many of the free one’s are highly effective.

 

Once WordPress is installed on your site you should change the theme, you can browse hundreds online from inside your WordPress Installation or purchase a ‘premium theme’ the one I use the most is below, it’s called Socrates and was designed for Online Marketing. It’s perfect for new and old users alike.

 

The link is below.

 

http://www.socratestheme.com/cb/go.php?id=richardvc

 

 

 

In order to get any installation of WordPress up and running for you correctly there are a range of options and plugins you will need to make WordPress

S U P E R effective rather than just effective.

 

These are all free add on’s that have a further paid for addition which is optional. I only ever use the free option.

 

Before you can use some of these plugins you may need to set up accounts with Google Analytics and Yahoo (Webmaster) Account. These are not mandatory but will simplify matters later and make your overall blogging experience better for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So which plugins….?

 

Akismet – prevent loads of Spam Comments being left on your site.

 

All in One SEO Pack – Configures your blog for the search engines.

 

WP-Login Security – Prevents your site from being accessed by the Bad Guys.

 

Social Media Page – provides links to Social Media Pages

 

Digg Digg – provides links to various News/Bookmarking sites.

 

Twitter Tools – Links to your Twitter Feed

 

WordPress Mobile Pack – As many of your visitors will be on an IPHONE/Mobile Device this plugin automatically switches your theme to one more compatible. Also includes IPAD – with over 20 million sold you can’t ignore them.

 

Google XML Sitemaps – If you don’t have a sitemap you can wait for months to get your content indexed by Google. This plugin creates one for you and tells Google when it has been updated.

 

Contact Form 7 – Makes it easy to build a Contact form for your visitors to send you email messages.

 

I have not made these available for download as they are updated on a regular basis, you should install the latest versions once you have installed WordPress.

 

As and when this manual is updated I will provide an update to any of these plugins.

 

Content for your Blog

Any form of internet presence must have decent, well spelt and grammatically perfect information. Actually it does not have to be perfect but it does really help.

 

If you are selling Medical Equipment then spelling is more important than if you are selling Baby Clothes, it is your market and you choose how much time you spend on gramma and spelling.

 

You should make sure you run all of your content through your word processor before posting it live on to the internet.

 

Before you post any content on the Internet you should make sure it is spelt correctly and grammatically correct.

 

You can simply cut and paste your content into Microsoft Word and use the built in tools.

 

Make sure you select “Show readability statistics” via the Tools Menu and Options.

 

 

This means that once you carry out a Spell Check you will be left with some further statistics.

 

All of your copy on your Website should have a low score for readability.

 

 

 

From Wikipedia The Flesch/Flesch–Kincaid readability tests are designed to indicate comprehension difficulty when reading a passage of contemporary academic English. There are two tests, the Flesch Reading Ease, and the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level. Although they use the same core measures (word length and sentence length), they have different weighting factors, so the results of the two tests correlate approximately inversely: a text with a comparatively high score on the Reading Ease test should have a lower score on the Grade Level test. Both systems were devised by Rudolf Flesc

 

You should be aiming for a readability score of 8 – 11 (this equates to a reading age = equal to year 8 children (12- 13) if you can make it lower please do so. The easier it is to read the more sales you will make.

 

The King James Bible scores 7 on average.

 

So far this manual is 9.7 okay but higher than I would normally expect.

 

Roald Dahl’s Boy is 7.8

 

It is vital that you use the following when writing for the Web and or in Email, actually in any form of communication.

 

 

 

 

Make it as complicated as it needs to be and no more so.

 

 

 

This may take a little practise but the effort is very much worth it.

 

Finding Content.

I walk around with a little notebook in my back pocket, and make notes whenever I think of or see something that I think can be used.

 

Use your phone, take a photograph, record a note and come back to it later, you will be surprised about how much you can find out by listening and watching.

 

News stories are a great source of relevant content; remember you are just looking to add some value to your readers, your clients or customers. But don’t ever watch the news for the sake of it, far too depressing and there is often little you can really gain from it! (Whoops another opinion).

 

Focus On

Remember if you are selling Baby Clothes your customer is buying a Warm Baby in attractive, modern clothing. Focus on what it does and not what it is.

 

It takes around 10 minutes to type 400 words, and if you can add a photo or image this will add further information for the search engines.

 

By setting up WordPress correctly all of the information and content will be presented to the search engines in the right format.

 

Images are vitally important to your Blogs as they make words seem even more interesting, but they also help greatly with Search Engines, as you can increase relevancy. But be careful with this as It’s not a ‘black art’ yet (any Rubgy Players will know what am talking about) and can be used with the wrong result in mind.

 

Here is an example

 

is the name of the page/post

 

 

 

 

This is the page title.

 

The above is the sub heading and part of the content.

 

 

The image is called “pension advice…| RBS_Fined_Logo

It is called that because it gives us another relevant phrase in the post which of course has a factor in the search results. The image could have been of anything, as Google’s imaging skills are not that good yet. Be warned however they are getting better, and have been known to use people (shocking I know).

 

 

 

This post appears on page 5 within google for the term “RBS Fined”

 

 

So that’s 40th amongst 283,000 highly competitive results. Not really good enough, but remember my bit about the Spiders Web, you never know where your visitors are coming from.

 

Even better than that, the image below shows the real effect on Search Engine results just by focusing on relevant content and structuring it in the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

For the key phrase – ‘Pension Advice More Important Than Ever’ the real reason for this post shows one of our client sites at the top of google, and there are nearly 4 million other pages shown for the same phrase.

 

Now we don’t know how our clients are going to find these pages, however the term is a widely searched term one and one that was taken from a National Newspaper. We just filled the post with relevant content and let the search engines do the rest.

 

It is that simple.

 

Remember that all of the content posted on your Blog or website should be designed to a) be found by people searching for your phrases or words and b) should provide information. It’s called the information super highway for a reason.

 

Researching Key Words and Phrases

There are a number of ways of searching for and determining what comment you should post on your blog, and the simple answer to this will be research, research and more research.

 

In the first instance you should look at your competition, see what they are up to, what choice of keywords they are using and focusing on.

 

Other methods include your Trade Press and Industry Websites, often you can find information and topical content there.

 

There are some simple ways to find critical Keywords and Phrases for your business and I have covered some of these above, using the Google Wonderwheel is one and another is the Google Keyword Tool.

 

http://bit.ly/fFySKY this is a shortened link
You can see below the input pages for using this tool, remember this takes real time information from Google and provides you with a starting point for your blog content.
If no one is searching for what you do, optimising your site for the Internet will not provide you with any more business from it. It might well be that you are naming it the wrong thing, you might be an Accountant but your potential client might think of you as a Bookkeeper-because you do the books. Search terms are therefore very personal.

And the results

 

 

This shows that there are 240,000 searches per month for the term baby clothes. Great a competitive market.

 

 

 

If we widen the search terms

 

 

We get some different results.

 

 

But it also shows up some connected phrases and words that you should also consider.

 

As mentioned before, research is key, then relevant content.

 

Once you have found the key phrases for your site you can then move on.

 

Finding Content.

 

There are various methods of finding good relevant content, and the starting point I have outlined above and is included under the section about research, which will give you a start.

 

From there on in, your customers, buyers, account execs who pop into sell you stuff are all great sources of information about the market place. As mentioned before Newspapers and the trade press will all provide fodder for you to write about.

 

However, there is one key. The internet and your customer base are full of Geeks, Freaks and Weirdo’s, they also spend money on products or services.

 

They might be looking for an alternative view. (Just because you would not dress your child in Black Clothes, does not mean they wont’) Ignore these at your peril, they are human and have money to spend. Some of the most successful sites on the internet focus on Geeks Freaks and Weirdo’s.

 

Discrimination means your Blogging will be less successful and less profitable. Of course you will not cater for everyone from one site, consider your market carefully, do some research and target the market accordingly.

 

Finding Content using Google Reader/Alerts

 

This tool will save you hours and alone is worth many thousands of ££’s or $$.

 

If you have not already got one, open a Google Account today (it’s free).

 

Google reader will allow you to have a range of options pre defined so as Google finds content that matches you search phrase it will save the content and the link for you.

 

With Google Alerts they will send you an email every time they find content for your relevant words or phrases.

 

 

In the image below we have found fees for Baby Clothes

 

 

This content is updated in real time, so you can find out what the rest of the world is talking about and provide similar content for your readers.

 

Google Alerts is a similar service except it sends you an email every time your key word or key phrase is indexed.

 

 

One great use to find out what your competition is doing.

 

Enter the information in the boxes and click create alert and you will get an email every time there is an update.

 

Do you need more information than this?

 

We employ a number of Freelance Researchers (some are Students, some are Retired) we use them by the hour to go and find stuff on the internet for us, others read the Trade Press – we send them the papers and they send back a Word Document with all of the information contained.

 

A very powerful method of keeping on top of things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why you must build links from other Websites.

There is a whole industry being built from links, and the latest Algorithm changes at Google meant a lot of websites found themselves deranked.

 

I guess losing a number one or two position within Google must hurt.

The key is this….For many of these websites they were very light on relevant content, and were relying on ‘black arts’ – much link building in order to gain them top positions.

 

Google of course sell search, and relevant search at that is that. The reason most searches online are done on their servers are because they deliver a good deal of content and this content is relevant. This is how they [Google] earn their money.

 

It was certainly the case that up until February 2011 the quality of information provided from Google was poorer than it is now. If you are looking to maintain ranking in the search engines over the longer term make sure your relevant content is good and up to date.

 

Other things you must do:-

 

Use Twitter, cross link your Twitter output with your Blog (there are Twitter tools for this), link to your Facebook – Fan Pages and the rest of your content if you use Facebook for business.

 

Make sure the link to your blog is in the bottom of all of your email signatures.

 

Find out who is talking/writing about your products and services. Find out who is asking questions about your products or services, post comments on their websites, answer questions on community forums, write a ‘how to solve’ guide and let the let the local papers know.

 

In summary, spread the word. That you are the go to firm in the region/country/world.

 

Using Video

Video is a great way to share information, no matter what quality the footage, it should all be used.

 

You can download a free screen capture software, Camstudio, get yourself a cheap microphone and create a simple Powerpoint presentation. (no matter if you have not got a full version of Microsoft Office, you can download Open Office from here and it’s free).

 

All you need is a clip on microphone , prepare your presentation and speak.

 

Record your presentation using the Camstudio software and very quickly you will have Videos on your Blog.

 

We use one of these for making short personal videos Kodak Playsport on Amazon for less than £100 (used) and £149 new. Simple to use/edit and upload to your blog.

 

Use Youtube, make some simple videos about your business and your services, post them to your Youtube account with a link back to your blog, also use Viddler.

 

Linkedin is a valuable tool for creating a presence if you are a specialist or have an ‘angle’ on something, alternative views or a different ‘slant’ on a popular subject always help. There is no point in being the same as everyone else, that only gets you the same results as they get. Often not the one you want. I urge you to try and do other things, they really work.

 

Google Places/Google Webmaster Account – by making sure you list your blog within these options sites you will be getting a ‘backlink’ within one of the most powerful search engines in the world.

 

You can also do the same with Bing – search for Bing Websmaster Account.

 

You need to claim your Google places listing if you have not already done so, and cross link this with your Blog/You Tube Accounts.

 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – what the experts won’t tell you.

 

On one level SEO is really simple, present information to the Search Engines in a manner they like, and voila you are home and dry.

 

The big problem of course is that most websites don’t do this. Luckily for you the benefit of using WordPress is that it delivers most of what is required ‘out of the box’ and only need some tweaks.

 

Fortunately for you, most of your competition will be in the hands of poorly organised and informed website designers who do not/will not focus on the important stuff business owners need. Websites that can be found and your website need to deliver one thing and one thing only which is BUSINESS.

 

No more of that for you.

 

In order to be successful with your SEO you need to do the following:-

 

Use words on your site that are relevant to/connected to your Keywords and Phrases.

 

Make sure the quantity of these words fits; there is no point in stuffing your website with words that do not make grammatical sense, just make sure that you publish content that reads correctly and is peppered with the desired words.

 

If you have the premium version of this manual you will see exactly what I mean.

 

 

 

 

You need to get and receive links from other Websites and Blogs, you can do this by using a simple search query, finding some sites that have linked or relevant information and posting comments. Make sure they add value and are relevant.

 

In order to make sure your blog is linked to as many sites as possible it is possible using the plugins provided to make sure that Google, Bing and Yahoo know when your site has been updated.

 

Importantly there are a lot of other sites that should also know and you should give your visitors the option to link to your post or pages within your blog.

 

You can link to DIGG/Facebook and other News Feeds or Link Engines, however these are the sites I would recommended that you add your content to the first of theses sites as minimum.

 

Action you must take.

 

Once you have your own version of WordPress in the settings options under Permalinks change the setting, you will need to type in the /%…..

 

 

This makes WordPress present the page name as

http://www.theinternetconsultancy.com/another-post-about-widgets

 

instead of http://www.theinternetconsultancy.com/?P=123

Which is about as welcoming to a search engine as Stomach Cramps before Christmas dinner, great if you want to be found for the term P=123!

 

Still in general settings | Writing

 

At the bottom of the page you will find a box. “Update Services” make sure you cut and paste the following list of services into the box

 

List of services

 

============

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/

http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2

http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

http://1470.net/api/ping

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/RPC2

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://bblog.com/ping.php

http://bitacoras.net/ping

http: http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc

http://blogmatcher.com/u.php

http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatt

http://www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/

http://ping.amagle.com/

http://ping.bitacoras.com

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/

http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc

http://ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/

http://ping.exblog.jp/xmlrpc

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://ping.myblog.jp

http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://ping.weblogs.se/

http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2

http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/

http://rpc.blogbuzzmachine.com/RPC2

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/

http://rpc.newsgator.com/

http://rpc.pingomatic.com

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://topicexchange.com/RPC2 //blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC

http://trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php

http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b

http://www.bitacoles.net/ping.php

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogoole.com/ping/

http://www.blogoon.net/ping/

http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates

http://www.blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1

http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

http://www.blogsnow.com/ping

http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi

http://www.mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatter/ping.php

http://www.newsisfree.com/RPCCloud

http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php

http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php

http://www.snipsnap.org/RPC2

http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/

http://xmlrpc.blogg.de

http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

http://www.blogsnow.com/ping

http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.feedburner.com

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://topicexchange.com/RPC2

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other sites that will add some further distribution for you however you will need to add to these sites manually

 

http://www.free-press-release.com/members/login.php

 

http://www.npr.org/

http://www.betanews.com

http://www.directionsmag.com

http://www.nanotech-now.com

http://www.prlog.org/

http://www.downloadjunction.com

http://www.newswiretoday.com/

http://www.pr-inside.com/

http://www.24-7pressrelease.com

http://www.pr.com/

http://www.prleap.com/

http://www.free-press-release.com/

http://www.clickpress.com/

http://www.pressbox.co.uk/

http://www.filecluster.com/

http://digitalmediaonlineinc.com/

http://www.onlineprnews.com/

http://www.i-newswire.com/

http://www.cgidir.com/

http://www.przoom.com/

http://www.openpr.com/

http://www.sbwire.com/

 

Some of these will require you to register, and you can then submit your own news update to these services with a link back to your own website for the full story.

 

So what about posting your comments to Twitter, this tool is very useful indeed and it is something you cannot really forget to use. Make it a ‘must use’.

 

Twitter Hash Tags

Twitter uses Hash Tags in order to separate information # is what they look like.

 

 

This means that you post a tweet with a link back to your Website and at the same time target your audience with a hash tag or #

 

Let me give you some examples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The list is endless, find your own ‘niches’ and post using your related #tags.

 

This is not meant to be a definitive manual on twitter, just a sample of possible uses.

 

Email Autoresponders

One of the best things about using the internet is the use of automation, being able to send automated content to your Blog Viewers is a powerful method of building relationships.

 

This is not the manual to cover this area of marketing indepth, the subject is just to vast for here, however make sure you collect email addresses from all of your visitors using a software package and then use email to send them further messages and updates.

 

I recommend 2 options.

 

The first which is AWEBER

 

However if you would prefer complete ownership of your data (regulated firms for example or those that have a Data Protection Licence) you will need to have a different type of service, this starts at a one off cost of £350 with no monthly fee’s and save the cost of hosting the service.

 

It is something you really must do, and the quicker you get this working for you the quicker your business will become self sufficient in terms of leads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This document outlines the ‘how to’ for your new site.

 

I have also added some further information about software (all free) that you will need sooner rather than later, I have also provided some best practices and other useful resources.

 

They are all optional.

 

Any typo’s in this document are intentional, it gives some people something to criticise and comment on. Please feel free to comment.

 

It is work in progress and is updated as and when things change.

 

 

 

 

Richard Smith

Home page

0845 226 9106

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access your Webmail on line you should go here

 

http://www.thejudysharp.com/webmail.

 

 

Click on horde, you will be taken to a login page, click on login and then “judy”

 

 

 

 

Your passwords are here

 

Login: thejudys

Password; 59414667

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should see my comments about backing up and take note.

 

We have provided Industrial Strength Web Hosting for your site (s)

http://www.thejudysharp.com:2082/frontend/rvskin/index.html

Logins are the same as above.

 

Here you can access, your emails, set up new accounts, manage Spam Filters (Industrial Strength) and you have access to lots of different software packages and tools. You have a choice whether to use them or not, if not now then in the future.

 

Don’t delete any packages unless you are sure.

 

 

 

I have set up an email forward so that when an email is sent to judy@thejudysharp.com it will be automatically sent to your gmail account. You should configure your gmail account so you can send from ‘judy@thejudy….’ From your Gmail Account go to Settings |

 

And click on

Send mail from another address.

 

Go through the process and you will then be able to send email from your judy@thejudy… From your gmail account.

 

 

 

There is not much you can break when you are inside of this software, if you delete anything, there is a chance it’s gone forever, but there is a failsafe.

 

 

 

If you decide to ‘edit’ anything (in the Appearance menu there is an option)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gets you a view similar to this.

 

 

If you edit/alter/change or adapt anything in here you will fundamentally change the way the package works. You have been warned. We will charge for a reinstall, and of course if you have not got your data backed up you will need to start again.

 

So lets get going when you first login.

 

You will see this

 

 

This is the centre of the first screen you will see, you are not able to update this theme as you need a developer code, we will update this as and when required. This is a premium theme that is licensed to ourselves for use on your site. There is no need to change or alter this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the menus on the left have drop down arrows, click on the down arrow and another menu opens.

 

 

 

 

 

You have an option to add Pages or Posts. Pages are permanent features of your site and can be added (as many as you want).

 

Posts are updates, comments, or words of Wisdom. The recommendation is that you stick with the important stuff – the services you offer, terms and conditions should all be pages. If it’s fixed it’s a page, if it’s a view it’s a post.

 

Your comment about the under population of Norway etc should be a Post.

 

When writing for your website/blog or email I recommend you use Microsoft word or similar as an editor.

 

CTRL A means press the CTRL and A at the same time.

 

When complete, press CTRL A to select the entire document, then CTRLC to copy the text, paste it into Notepad (CRTL V), then CTRL A again, CTRL C

 

 

 

 

This takes all of the Microsoft Word information from the text in your document allowing you to paste it in to your Website/Blog .

 

Use CTRL V

 

 

 

So we add a new page like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then click

 

 

And uncheck both of these, at this stage comments can be a pain, and the bad guys (spammers) love them. At some stage in the future you can reintroduce them.

 

 

 

 

You can then click on publish. Which means this will appear on your site.

 

If you want you secure the content with a Password (lose it and there is no way to recover it) or defer publication to a certain date when it will be done automatically, or save it as a draft.

 

 

This is what the pages look like on the business end of the site.

 

The menu bar on your site has not been configure because you do not have any content on the site.

 

 

 

 

Once you have done this, drop me an email and I will configure the menu. You have room for about 5 links, important pages!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posts

 

 

Always start the post off with your Keyword or Phrase, you can if required use box below the heading (permalink to alter it)

 

Lets say you are selling Dog Leads, your post should be called “dog leads” or at least start with that phrase. Your post body should also have the term Dog Lead in it, are you getting my drift now. Content is king, but it must be relevant and presented in the right way, don’t make the post idiotic, just use the range of key phrases so that it makes sense.

 

You will need to categorise this post using

 

 

 

 

 

If it does not fit in with one you have already, create one, either as a parent or child – eg. Parent Category – Dogs, Child Cat – Dogs Lead, Dog Collar, Dogs Flea Spray… got it.

 

Then set tags, these should be broadly in line with the category.

 

You can create from new or choose an existing one.

 

 

 

Once you publish the post it will show like this

 

You can change the headings of these ‘widgets’ to whatever you like.

 

 

Important is the heading on your site

 

As shown on the site.

 

 

 

 

You should tweet all updates (please see twitter).

 

 

 

Email Autoresponder

Advanced Email Marketing is a must for any website owner.

 

We have set up for you an account with mailchimp and your login codes are above, you should familiarise yourself with this POWERFUL piece of kit ASAP. There will be separate ‘month’ covering the use of an Autoresponder.

Mailchimp is free up to a point, once you get savvy with it and start to grow a list of subscribers you can expand it to suit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you see this once logged in then please update the plugins and or the main installation of WordPress click on the “Please Update Now” and you will see the following

 

 

 

 

Click on Update Automatically and this will be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for the final success.

 

Back Up, if for whatever reason your site crashes or data gets corrupted we are not able to restore your content, we can rebuild the site as it looked when you started using it. But no more.

 

You are responsible for securing your own data backups. Just to make it clear, YOU are RESPONSIBLE for your OWN DATA and CONTENT.

End.

 

 

 

 

How to back it up.

 

Click on Export

 

 

 

 

Choose ALL.

 

Save this on your Hard Drive or somewhere safe, Hard Drives do crash with alarming regularity, so offsite secure storage is recommended.

 

As a simple option, take the file created and using your Google Mail Account email the file to yourself. A permanent record will be created within your mail account. This of course means you will not have a Local Copy and one on another server, unlikely you will crash both of them on the same day.

 

Twitter

Every time you update your blog you should ‘tweet’ the content. This is not the document to cover twitter at any length, but you should use it. Build up some followers by following them, many will follow you back. Give them some witty and erudite comment and it will drive traffic back to your website.

 

Make sure you complete your Bio.

 

When using Twitter you should use a domain shortner. Recommended is

http://goo.gl/

 

It takes a really long and boring Website page name and turns it into some more useable for Twitter http://goo.gl/2LXCc

 

 

 

Given than you only have 140 characters it makes sense. You do have an option not to use Twitter, but you would be foolish not to, really.

 

 

 

Some of the points below you may want to skip, the choice is yours. There could be a good deal of overwhelm initially, but an hour per day is all it takes.

 

Your first week with your new site.

 

Make sure you get a Gmail Account and let me know this email address.

 

I have already setup Analytics for your site, so there is no need to do this.

 

Once you know how it works you can then move forward.

 

The pages below are the second stage.

 

As you know I advocate an Hour Per Day strategy initially, and the process below will take you 5 hours or so and finish your first week.

 

Where I have not provided direct links just Google the name of the site or software package.

 

Please take sometime to customise and view your new online packages, have a play with them, get used to how to they work, look through the helpfiles. You are going to be using them a lot over the coming months.

 

Where you are asked to describe, add text that you think is important save it in one of your Google Documents, or inside a folder on your computer called Business (go on create it now) then make sure you back it up (more on this later).

 

Sometimes you will find something on the internet, and want to save it and here my tips for this.

 

Create a document file and call it Swipefile, and always have it open this should be a word document (or open office) whenever you see something that makes sense or ‘grabs’ you save the link, take a screen dump (more on this later) or similar and store it. You will always be looking for a reference or a story and you should make sure it is saved. Swipe files are better kept on your local drive and then saved to Google Docs later. For some reason this is one area of weakness in the Google Documents software. Can’t have it all I guess.

 

Important Hot Keys

Ctrl + A = Select All

Ctrl +C = Copy to Clipboard

Ctrl +V= Paste from Clipboard

Alt+Tab = Tab across open programmes

Windows Key +M = Minimise all

 

These are just a few.

 

I will assume you have good internet access and preferably a dedicated Home Computer or Laptop. If not get or use one.

 

Any software or packages recommended are all Open Source or Free, however where there is a paid for option I will provide some further detail. Initially you should opt for the free alternatives.

 

For all Web based services I am recommending you use the Free Accounts or Free Options where appropriate. Do not under any circumstances opt for the Paid for versions at this time.

 

If you not done so yet please download a copy of Microsoft Security Essentials –which is a Free Virus Scanner and protection, it forms part of your Operating System (assuming you are running a windows XP/Vista/ Windows 7 Machine).

 

There is no point on you trying to set up an online business when one of the main tools you require is full of dodgy software and possibly viruses.

 

Download a copy of the Mozilla Firefox Browser and then the Google Toolbar. Microsoft Internet Explorer is full of bugs and security holes. The Firefox Browser has plenty of support for Plugins (little bits of software that make the browser far more useful).

 

 

 

Open a Google Mail account at www.gmail.com

 

Google Mail is a fast changing and responsive account, with and excellent Spam filter. You can get access to it worldwide and also brings with it several other benefits.

 

Google Docs – a fully functional Word Processing and “Office Package” which will allow you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can also share documents and email them directly from the Google Docs site.

 

As an alternative you can download the Openoffice Suite which will reside on your computer, I my opinion it is an equal to any other office package.

 

Once open create a document called Accounts, and use this to record all of your Internet Accounts and Password like this.

 

Provider Website Related Email Account Account Name (User) Password

www.Viddler.com Richard@gmail.com richard 123456

 

 

 

 

make sure the document is saved and now you have all of the information you need in one place. This will save hours of time and once your business grows you can share these details with your outsource or assistant.

 

Then create a document called Will Do.

 

Cut and past all of the information below into this document, now you are truly working “in the cloud”, you can access your plans and the rest of your work wherever you are in the world. Congratulations.

 

Install lastpass – which is a secure (and Free)Password Login package. http://lastpass.com/ set your account up.

 

Go over to Google Calendar, configure your settings, and link your Mobile Phone to it, you can then select SMS reminders (which are free on most networks). You will never forget your appointments or reminders again.

 

You will then need to open a Google Analytics Account. This will allow you to monitor and observe the amount of traffic your Websites are generating.

 

A Google Adwords Account in order to carry out some Keyword Research.

 

Why Google Accounts – in my experience these are proven to have been the most suitable accounts to hold, certainly the offering from Bing (Microsoft or Yahoo) seem not to offer the same level of functionality.

 

Google Webmaster Account – not needed yet, but you will need it at some time.

 

Then pop over to Youtube.com (open an account) this maybe done for you automatically, however if not make sure you tie up your Google Account with your new Youtube account, you should then do the same with Viddler.com and the same at metacafe.com, and then dailymotion.com. Please make sure you use your Gmail Account as the email for all of these.

 

For all of these you will have to enter some Personal Settings and for the time being leave them blank.

 

Once these are done you can then press “ctrl t” that’s the CTRL button and your T key on your keyboard, whilst in your Firefox browser and a New Tab will open, a Tab is a new window within the browser.

 

So you Gmail Account is open in one tab within your browser, press “ctrl and t” and a new tab opens.

 

In this new tab go to the site tubemogul.com open an account, you will be asked to enter your Youtube. Viddler, Daily Motion and Metacafe account details. Now when uploading Videos and Presentations you will only have to upload to them to one site and not several, time saved H O U R S.

 

If you have a built in microphone your laptop or desktop, then please make sure you download Skype and set up an account (log your user name in the Google document)

 

From there on in, open a Facebook account, and set up a public profile if you have not already do so.

 

Twitter.com open an account, don’t pick a CB style handle (name for yourself) make it business like, I have a couple of accounts, One is theinternetcons as close as I could get in all fairness, however I could use or choose richardsmith, richardbiz. Whatever you can change it later if you wish.

 

Record the login details in your Google document.

 

Now you have done these, log back into your Gmail Account | Settings and change your signature to read something like this.

 

Richard Smith – is internet business

Office 0845 226 9106

Mobile 0774 007 6226

 

Live Updates – Connect with me : Facebook:billythebadger Twitter:theinternetcons Skype:richardvsmith

****************

Website:http://www.theinternetconsultancy.com

***************

 

Select, Copy and Paste and then Save this to a Google Document and call it ‘signatures’ you may end up with sever of these.

 

Save your signature and then this will be placed in the bottom of every email you send.

 

 

 

Paypal.co.uk open an account sometimes this will take a few days and they may not allow a gmail account.

 

Clickbank.com open a ‘seller’ account with them.

 

Next download and install Camstudio – for making and preparing presentations.

 

Download and install Paint.net for amending and altering Pictures and Graphics

 

Download and install Gadwin Print Screen for capturing your Computer Screen. When you set this up make sure you use a ‘different default’ folder to save a copy of anything you copy, and then make sure you use the .jpeg format.

 

Download and install Audacity used for recording your voice directly from your Laptop microphone.

Dowload and install Winrar (http://www.rarlab.com/) this is a File Compression Utility for making large files smaller.

 

Download and Install Truecrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/ this will allow you to protect sensitive data on your hard drive from prying eyes.

 

Offsite Back Up – All of the information you create and download must be kept in a secure and safe environment. Now this can be done in many ways, external disks etc, etc. My certain recommendation is that you do this. Store all of your sensitive data offsite in a secure area. My preferred choice is Amazon Webservices, however this is charged. Once you have made some money this will be an option for you. Meanwhile http://mozy.com/home is the recommended source for 2gb of offsite secure data storage, open an account and make sure you use it.

 

 

 

All of that should take about 10 hours but at least you are now prepared to do battle.

 

 

 

Second Week

Create a page on your site explaining who you are, what you have done, put some personal pictures on the site, explain some more about you. You are trying to get someone to connect with you. Don’t make it boring, focus on all you have achieved.

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