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2009 June | direct-to-market

Archive for June, 2009

SEO – What it means to be in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google

OK, so your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is doing pretty well and you’re on Google’s front page, but what position are you in and does it really matter anyway?

I recently stumbled upon a blog publishing figures that, it claimed, were the results of Google’s research into users’ “click patterns” on the result sets derived from 20,000,000 search queries. Setting aside the fact that many search engines handle more search queries than this per day, so it’s a comparatively small sample in real terms, it’s still worth taking a look even if simply because it’s the only set of figures we have available and any indication is worthwhile!

The figures (below) show that, in the sample, more than 40% of people click on the first result that Google offers them.

So if there are 1,000 searches per month for a keyword or key-phrase that you are targeting, these figures suggest that on average you will get 422 clicks if you are in position 1 on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) but a much lower 119 clicks if you are in position 2, and by position 5 barely one tenth of the click-throughs in position 1! Notice too the dramatic drop in click-throughs between positions 10 and 11, i.e. the first result page versus the second.

Take a look at the numbers below to help you understand how important search engine optimisation (SEO) is to your business:

SERPS Position Percentage Click Through
1 42.25%
2 11.93%
3 8.46%
4 6.04%
5 4.87%
6 3.99%
7 3.38%
8 2.97%
9 2.96%
10 2.82%
11 0.65%
12 0.55%
13 0.51%
14 0.48%
15 0.46%
16 0.38%
17 0.35%
18 0.33%
19 0.33%
20 0.31%

So it’s clear enough that you want to move yourself as far up the SERPS as you possibly can, ideally into the first position. That much is definitely true.

But as always raw statistics can be misleading if you don’t understand how and where they were created. For example, the ratio of click-throughs to SERPS positions could vary with:

  • Geographic location in which sample was taken;
  • Time of day at which sample was taken;
  • Day of week on which sample was taken;
  • Niche in which the sample was taken (if any);
  • Niche in which the website actually sits;
  • Number of keywords in search string;
  • Etc.

The ratios may also vary between different search engines, but in this case we know they all came from Google so at least that’s a constant. But did you realise that Google naturally tends to bias click-troughs towards Position 1? Take a look at Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button sometime, that you can click as an alternative to “Google Search”, and then consider that this takes you straight to the top-ranking result without even displaying the others.

But the figures are still highly relevant because most of our own UK-based websites, and those of our UK-based clients, derive around three quarters of their search-engine traffic from Google with Yahoo and MSN/Live/Bing (or whatever MS are calling it by the time you read this!) having a roughly equal share of what remains.

Note too that even if you can’t quite make the first position on Google, perhaps only number 2 or 3, there are still things that you can do with your webpage title & description to influence your click-though rate, and if you do it well and your competitors above you don’t, you may still get more click-throughs than them.

And to get a sense of perspective, even if you’re only in 20th place with a lowly 0.31% of the traffic, if the search volume is 1,000,000 searches per month then those 3,100 clicks you’ll get will still be worth having (although there’s no denying that 400,000+ would be better still).

Above all though do bear in mind that getting people to visit your website is only part of the story, albeit a very important part, because if they go there and you then fail to either turn them into customers or at least capture their details so you can build a relationship and turn them into customers later …your efforts in getting a great search-engine ranking will have been substantially wasted.

But it doesn’t matter how well your website can convert visitors into customers if nobody goes there in the first place! So you need traffic! And one of the bays ways to get that traffic is through good SEO. If you are targeting a specific geographic area, then what you need is well-aimed search engine local optimisation.

So now you know exactly how important SEO is to your business, click the appropriate link below and let us help you get more visitors to your website:

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Local Optimisation

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Top of Mind Awareness – Brand Awareness

You may not have heard the expression Top of Mind Awareness before but I’m prepared to bet that you’re familiar with the idea of Brand Awareness. In simple terms, it’s about making sure that whenever your prospect thinks of a particular product or service they automatically think of you as their most-likely (and first choice) supplier.

One of the best examples of this for many years was the vacuum cleaner, as manufactured by the Hoover company (http://www.hoover.co.uk). How many times have you said “we need a new hoover” or “I’ll just hoover the carpet” without even thinking about it? Their name, and thus the word, has become so common in the English language that we have even started to use it as a verb!

Hoover is 100 years old this year, so it’s taken them a while, but they have definitely achieved top of mind awareness. Dyson is pretty much there too now, of course, but not so ingrained that we use their name as a verb, as in “I’ll just dyson the carpet”!

As a business owner you should strive to achieve this same top of mind awareness with your own prospects and customers to ensure that, when they need to purchase whatever you are selling, you are the first person they think off. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant or run a beauty parlour, an estate agent or provide a septic tank emptying service, sell newspapers or the fish & chips that once used to go in them …the principle is the same.

Whenever somebody thinks of whatever it is that you are selling, you must ensure that you are right there – at the top of their mind – as the most obvious, and first realised, solution to their need.

You do this by keeping your name – your brand to be precise – in front of them, at the top of their mind, hence the term top of mind awareness. And it really is as simple as ensuring that your brand is the first one they think of: i.e. brand awareness. If you run a large company then obviously the company name is the brand, but if you are a sole trader or small partnership it may well be that your own name is the brand of which people should be aware: “Bodgit & Scarper Builders” for example.

If you have a huge advertising budget then it’s easy enough to keep plastering your name and logo in front of people, but we’re in a recession at present so for most people throwing money at advertising isn’t as easy as it once was. The answer then is to use effective and well-targeted advertising (as should really have been the case all along anyway).

For most small businesses the most cost-effective advertising by far is to keep in touch with your existing customers: build a list of them and then stay in touch. Your current customers are almost without doubt your business’s most valuable asset (I’ll cover the psychology behind this in another post) so don’t neglect them; keep yourself, and your brand, at the top of their mind. After all, you don’t want them saying “I know that the last time I bought XXX from YYY I was really happy with the product and the service, I just can’t remember who I bought it from!” …and then going to your competitor, do you?

So stay in touch with your customers.

The same principle applies to prospects too (you know, those browsers that take up your time and then leave without spending any money). They expressed an interest in you, your brand, your company and what you sell. You have spent time and money educating them; you have begun to build a relationship. So don’t now sit back and let them go and buy from one of your competitors.

Stay in touch with your prospects.

Achieve Top of Mind Awareness – Brand Awareness – with all your prospects and customers by making, and maintaining, regular contact. And if you use direct-response marketing to do this, your messages are laser-targeted and thus very effective (a high ROI).

Does this need to cost you a fortune? Absolutely not! Certainly postage is now becoming expensive and by the time you have printed a letter, folded it, stuck it in an envelope and (the most expensive part) stuck a stamp on it you can easily find yourself approaching a cost of £1.00 per letter. If you need to contact 1,000+ people each month, that can become very expensive, very fast.

But how much does it cost to send an email?

The answer is nothing if you do it yourself, but you do need to ensure that you don’t spam people (send them unsolicited email they didn’t ask for and don’t want), handle requests from those that wish to unsubscribe from your list, manage those that want to stay subscribed but change their email address etc. So while it’s cheap, it can take up a lot of your valuable time, and time is money!

The good news is that we have systems in-house that can do all this for you, and as we’ll even write the sales-letter (sorry, monthly newsletter :)) for you if you wish, achieving and maintaining that vital top of mind awareness with your prospects and customers can take as little as 15 minutes of your time each month, for the phone call to tell us what you want in the email.

Our prices are very reasonable too, and I can practically guarantee that you won’t find a cheaper way to stay in touch with 1,000 (or whatever) people each month, or achieve a higher ROI on your advertising spend. To learn more about how we can help you cut your advertising costs and simultaneously increase your sales, either phone us on 0333 444 0340 (and leave a message if you get voicemail as we are often busy with clients but we will always call you back) or send us an email through our Contact Us page.

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