Odyssey bloghelping you leverage the potential of the internet

Beware of Telephone Salesmen Purporting to be from Google

10. May 2009 14:46

Unfortunately there are people that do not want to make an honest living and decide instead to set-up businesses which scam people into handing over their hard-earned cash.  The Internet is no exception.

While the majority of search marketing firms are legitimate businesses, there are a few bad eggs that give the industry a bad name.

There are people that are ringing up website owners purporting to be from Google, offering top rankings for certain search phrases and putting them into contracts of 6 months or so.

If you are approached by a company who are trying to sell you something on the telephone, get them to send you an email with their contact details and end the conversation.

Do not make a decision on the spot, say you need time to think about it.  This will give you time to research the company and make a more informed decision.

Trading Standards give this advice:

“There are a number of steps you can take to avoid rogue publishers such as never agreeing to an advertisement over the phone, always asking for written details…”

If and when you get an email with their details, perform a search on the company name, look at their website and then at other results your search brings back.  If they are using free web-mail email addresses, such as @googlemail.com, or @hotmail.com be suspicious.

If their email address is not a free web-mail address such as @badcompany.com, do a look up on their domain name to see who it has been registered to;  Use a Whois service to do this.

Try doing a search for their telephone number as this sometimes brings up interesting results.

If you have already entered into such an agreement, then you should contact your local Trading Standards office.


Category: Search Engine Marketing

Create a Google Business Listing to Help Increase Visitors

8. May 2009 14:48

Google has a facility that allows you to add your business listing to its search results all for free!

The business listings are part of Google Maps and appear embedded in Google’s search results. I searched for Plumbers in this instance and based on my location, Google displayed plumbers in my local area.

This is an invaluable marketing tool, which you should take advantage of, as you may get many more click-throughs to your website from one of these listings than you would have done relying on your organic search ranking alone, and the best thing is its free and easy to set up.

Setting Up Your Listing

Go to Google’s Local Business Center page and click the “Add new business” button to sign-up.

You will need to fill in a form with your business’ details so that Google has enough information to create a Google Maps listing. Be sure to write a good description as a lot of people leave this blank; this is a your chance to “sell” your services and stand-out from the crowd!

Once you’ve entered all your details you’ll have to verify your listing before it goes live, this can be done by telephone, text message or post. On receiving the verification code, you’ll need to enter it into the Google Business Center control panel. Once this has been verified your business listing will go live within a day or so and you should hopefully start to get more click-throughs and more sales as a result!


Category: Search Engine Marketing

Determine Your Long-Term Website Total Cost of Ownership

5. May 2009 15:02

Your website is a shop window for your business, which will need to grow and change with your business and be able to inform your customers of your latest products or services, news, awards etc.

A common pitfall sometimes overlooked by new website owners is the on-going cost of ownership. There are very few website owners who will be happy leaving their website unchanged since the day it went live, but they don’t often factor in the cost of maintaining and keeping the website up-to-date. 
Likewise many people forget that a website will not magically sell itself.  Time and money will need to be invested in search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in order to bring new customers in.  The same can be said for retaining existing customers, where keeping a database of names and addresses can be very beneficial to communicate with your existing client base.

If you are looking to get a website built or re-designed it makes a lot of sense to spend a few minutes thinking about the total cost of ownership (TCO).  How much will your website actually cost beyond the initial design and build stage?

You should consider the following: 

  • Website design & build
  • Search engine optimisation (on-page and off-page) – Off-page SEO is an on-going specialist task which will help your site in Google’s “organic” listings
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) – Pay per click advertising e.g. Google Adwords
  • Website maintenance – Updating the site text, adding new sections etc
  • Content management systems – Enabling you to update the website yourself
  • HTML newsletters design, build and broadcast costs

Some web design companies will offer all of these services, whereas some agencies will specialise in only certain areas. 
It makes sense to look at the track record of companies you hire in order to make sure not only you can work with them, but that they can work with other agencies you hire to deliver the type of service you require, in the time-frames your business demands.

Domain Name Registration Length Can Impact Google Ranking

24. April 2009 14:35

Whether you’ve just bought a domain name for your website or its up for renewal, you may wish to consider the fact that Google and potentially other search engines take into consideration the length of time you’ve purchased the domain for during their ranking algorithms.

They do this and other domain related checks to try and determine whether the domain is potentially a throwaway or spam domain, rather than a quality website they wish to place in their index and send visitors to. 

So it is always wise to spend a little extra and renew a domain for longer than the minimal renewal length, which is normal between 1 and 2 years.  After all domain name purchases aren’t very expensive, and the benefits are clear.

Even if your domain is not up for renewal in the foreseeable future, most Domain Name Registrars will allow you to extend the domain registration period.

Introduction to Content Management Solutions

23. April 2009 14:38

The idea behind a content management system or CMS is to enable websites to be updated easily without the need to have any knowledge of how to write and update web pages using HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Unlike HTML which is a standard as defined by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), content management systems are not, and because of this they vary a lot. Some are open-source and are free to download, install and use, whereas some are bespoke implementations created for especially for specific websites or organisations. None are created the same and all have strengths and weaknesses.

Basic Elements of a CMS

A content management system usually has a log-in area, usually a web interface where you log-in to modify the website content or upload documents/images to the website. When you save your pages they normally get saved into a database, which will store a lot, if not all, of your websites’ content.

The actual web-facing part of your site, that visitors see when they type a domain name into their web browser, “looks” at the database of content, and gets the content for each particular page when it is requested by a visitor.

Most pages on your website will probably use a common CMS template; this template features all the elements of your site that don’t change from page to page. The template also features empty slots for your page text and images etc. These slots are filled from the content in the database depending which page you request.

Content management systems are really good if you want to be able to modify your website content on your own, and you don’t have any web page authoring experience. However the amount of work required building a CMS onto your site is quite substantial and therefore expensive, and as such you should have a good think about how often you will actually make changes to your site and therefore benefit from a content managed web solution.

Downsides of CMS

Because of the complexity of CMS however, you might find that you aren’t able to change absolutely everything on your website through the content management interface. So it’s important to define your requirements prior to CMS development, as such modifications may be costly and time-consuming once the development has begun.

Content management systems can be written in different programming languages and because of this most are restricted to a specific type of web server/web hosting platform, they will probably have been built for one flavour of database too, so if you plan on using your existing web hosting you may find you need to upgrade or change hosting arrangements, or host your website with the company who is building it for you.

Search Engine Marketing and CMS

A lot of content management systems while enabling you to edit your own website weren’t designed to allow search engines to easily index your website. In a competitive market place, where most people use search to find everything, it is paramount that your website, content managed or not, doesn’t hinder search engines like Google, Yahoo and Live from indexing your web pages and getting your products and services found.

There are lots of techniques for helping a search engine to index your site, and these go far beyond meta tags, which are considered obsolete by most modern search engines, so make sure you ask the right questions before you choose a content managed solution.