Marketing Success Blog

Forum Link Building – Is it Evil?

Building forum links has been a favourite tactic of link builders for many years, but like most link building tactics, it has been abused.

In my opinion, whether forum linking is evil or not, depends completely on how you do it:

  • Are you respecting the forum owner and the people who frequent the forum?
  • Are your links adding value to the people on the forum?

All too often the answer to this, is no.

Just like comment spam, you get fly by night link builders turning up, creating an account posting a link, then disappearing.

Forums can be used in two ways to build links:

  • The first is to actively participate in forums that are relevant to your subject and post links in your signature back to your website, as long as your links are relevant most forums see no problem with this.  You may be required to make a certain number of posts before you can have links in your signature
  • The second is to have great content on your website, then when a user posts a question about a topic that is relevant to you, provide a body link to the useful content on your website.

Quality link building companies will respect the forums in which they post.

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What will a web designer sell you?

Sounds like a crazy question, eh?

Well in many ways it is, because the obvious and right answer is (drum roll please) – a Web Site!

Wow thanks for the amazing insight, Greg.

My point is this:

When most companies want to improve their web presence, their first reaction is to contact a web designer, who will point them in the direction of building a new website.

The client then dutifully stumps up thousands for a new site only to find it doesn’t perform any better than the last one, or sometimes even worse.

The critical thing here, is that building a new website isn’t the only option!

Many companies spend their entire budget on their websites and are left with no money to promote it.

In many instances building a new website is not the best course of action, there are other options:

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Social Media is a two-way interaction, Old Media Dinosaurs

“We are the newspaper, we write the content and your job dear reader is to turn up and read it.”

Today I had a run-in with an old media dinosaur.

I follow the football team from my home town, to keep up with the latest news around the team I ‘like’ the local newspaper’s page that relates to the my team.

Whilst the local newspaper have improved and have stopped only releasing truncated content onto the web, they still only want to do business on their terms.

Yes, they have a Facebook page a Twitter account etc, but they still can’t get out of old habits, old media dinosaurs still want to control everything.  They just can’t let go, or take part in a proper two way conversation.

They have done the minimum, they provide a comments box on their blog posts, but they don’t interact with their users.  All the communication is push, push, push.

We are the newspaper, we write the content and your job dear reader is to turn up and read it.

Whilst these newspapers don’t want to communicate with mere mortals like me, it turns out they don’t want anyone interacting with their Facebook page either.

I posted a link on their Facebook page pointing at an article and provided some commentary to elicit feedback and comments from the community who also follow this page, but it got deleted straight away.

It appears they just want to use their page to push and promote their own stories, they just don’t ‘get’ social media, they don’t want to join a conversation or allow their followers to converse, they just want us to consume their content and visit their website to earn ad revenue.

The part they are missing is, if they allowed more communication, they would get more followers and thus more traffic.

It is sad to see a Facebook page where there is only one poster – the owner of the page.

Local newspapers need to drag themselves quickly into the modern day before they become completely extinct, just like the dinosaurs.

Please leave your feedback, comments and questions, I do want to converse with my site visitors.

What is Bounce Rate in Google Analytics?

This is one of the questions that I get asked most.

The bounce rate is simply a measure of how many site visitors only look at one page before leaving your website i.e. they don’t progress any further than the page that they landed on.

Why is Bounce Rate Important?

The bounce rate is important as it can be an indicator of poor quality.  In general if a user finds your content interesting and relevant they will spend longer on your site and visit more than one, if not several pages.

When is Bounce Rate Misleading?

A high bounce rate can be misleading where a user is looking for very specific information, they land on your page, find the information then leave, that could be considered a success i.e. a user may be looking for your phone number and address and get it from the page they land on.

Another example is where you have built specialist landing pages with a defined goal in mind, in this case a user may land on the page, take the required action, then leave.  This would also be considered a success.  In this case it is important to make sure you track this goal in your analytics to measure the success of this page.

How Should I Use Bounce Rate?

In your Google Analytics account, use bounce rate to find under-performing pages.  Look for pages that have an especially high bounce rate, the higher the percentage the worse the page is performing.

Take a look at these pages, you may need to work on the content to improve it, or modify the keywords you are targeting for that page.  Take a look at the keywords that are driving traffic to this page, are they relevant?  If not you may need to do some optimisation and link building to this page.

When using paid ads, like Google Adwords, you should monitor bounce rate very carefully, a high bounce rate may indicate areas where you are wasting money by driving untargeted traffic to pages.

Don’t forget to leave your comments and questions below.

When you can’t see the wood for the trees

When I was young I used to wonder what this expression really meant, “wood for the trees, eh?”

Recently though I have seen a number of examples that illustrate this expression perfectly.

Whilst watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA last night I saw an example of a restaurant that was failing, it had many problems, but the main issue was that the food was terrible!

So in effect, their core product was dreadful, sub-standard mush that was driving their customers away.

I just sat there screaming at the television:

“how could they be so blind!”

“they can’t see the wood for the trees!”

“It’s so obvious, why can’t they see it?!”

“Their product stinks, their chef who is overseeing their production is lazy and incompetent, it’s so obvious!”

This blindness though is very common.

When you end up in the mine, digging away each day in the dark, it is easy to miss the bleeding obvious, sometimes all it takes is an objective eye to “point out the trees in the forest”.

So don’t struggle away in the dark, slowly driving yourself insane, ask for help!

Market Test Your Ideas First

A Romantic Pitfall

In my last post I talked about the crazy way that many new business owners fall in love with the idea of owning a shop. When I use the phrase “fall in love with the idea” that is exactly what I mean they don’t fall in love with the reality of:

  • Paying the rent
  • Staffing the shop themselves, six days a week
  • Paying back the loan they took out to buy the stock
  • Waiting for somebody, just somebody to walk through the door and buy something

You need to fall in love with the idea of servicing customers, not with the romantic notion of owning a business

Instead they should be falling in love with their customers wants, they need to fall in love with the idea of servicing their customers, stocking the things they want to buy and making it easy for them to buy.

In my last post I used an example of a bathroom shop that was set up by a guy who fell in love with the idea of owning a shop.

He spent his entire budget on a lease, signage, but the majority of his budget was spent on stock.  This was before he conducted any market research at all.

He managed to last 12 months, we did speak with him about helping him sell online, but by that time it was too late and he had no money left to take a different path.

So what should he have done?

Before going out and spending tens of thousands on stock, he should have done his research.

You can conduct market research whilst putting money in your pocket, invest once you have proven your concept

The key is to identify the market you are targeting and then finding out what they want to buy, sounds simple eh?

Instead of sinking your life savings into a pile of stock that you don’t know if it will sell, spend some money on testing the market and seeing what will sell.

How about setting up a simple website, with some select products, run some PPC advertising, take some orders, drop ship the products or give a realistic delivery date that will enable you to source the products.  Then reinvest the money in more advertising, this way you will be conducting market research whilst putting money in your pocket.

All this without forking out thousands on stock.

Use some of your marketing budget to direct market homes in your target area, use a direct response approach, offer your customers something of value, you’ll be amazed at home many people will invite you round or visit your website for more information.

Only once you have a great handle on your business, with a proof of concept should you consider investing in a retail store.

I would bet though, that by the this time you may not want a retail space any more, you may find that you have fallen in love with selling 100s if not 1000s of units out of a warehouse direct to your market.

So instead of sitting in a shop, surrounded by stock, waiting for someone to walk through the door, you could be sat at home pawing through your analytics and analysing your latest successful SEO campaign.

Don’t forget to leave your comments, thoughts, ideas and feedback below.

STOP! Don’t sign that shop lease!

Time after time I see shops open that clearly have zero chance of success.  It has become so crazy that I can accurately predict a shop’s lifespan to within the nearest couple of months.

Setting up a shop is a costly business there is:

  • The shop lease
  • The shop fit-out and signage
  • Stock
  • Utilities
  • Staff
  • Insurance
  • Plus a myriad of other smaller costs

The issue with most physical shops is their location, they rely heavily on the footfall of passing trade.  Unfortunately the majority of small businesses cannot afford the premium rents of high football areas, they therefore lease properties in cheaper areas where there is little to no footfall, or the wrong type of footfall.

In most cases this is a false economy.  Little footfall means little turnover and even smaller profits, in most cases these shops don’t ever reach break-even.

Just a small number of real life examples include:

  • A barber shop that opened up on a block where there was already 2 other established barber shops, this barber shop had only one seat, how could they ever expect to make money, with one seat and close competition they lasted less than 6 months
  • A pet shop opened on a quiet high street within weeks of another pet shop going bust on the very same high street just weeks before, they lasted less than 6 months
  • A bathroom store spent tens of thousands on a shop lease a tons of stock, they lasted 12 months

The sad fact is that the majority of these personal tragedies, sorry I mean business failures could have been avoided with the right planning.

When looking to take on a shop lease ensure you have the marketing fundamentals in place and you know which market you are serving and that the market is big enough to sustain your business.

Don’t forget to leave your comments, thoughts, ideas and feedback below.