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Think Visibility Live Blogging – March 2011

It’s that time of the year again where we pull ourselves out of bed early on a Saturday morning and catch the train to Leeds for Think Visibility.

Please see below for our Think Visibility live blogging notes (updated throughout the day).

Paddy will be covering:

- Reviewing sites that have been submitted (to provide link suggestions)
- Generic link building tips
- “Shadier stuff”

First website reviewed: thefoodplace.co.uk

Link Analysis

Think about what type of links you need before just getting any links.

Their current profile has lots of sidebar/site-wide links for The Food Place.

So what do they need?

More domain diversity. They have too many links from linking pages, as opposed to domains.

Easy win?

Link bait; “Top 10 Restaurants in Leeds”, etc. Play on people’s ego’s to get links. If you’re mentioning a restaurant then they are likely to be interesting. Try to mention restaurants that are active socially, to give you the best chance of getting some engagement from them (ie. a link back from them).

Consider running a survey before hand, asking people for their favourite restaurants. This will allow you to contact the restaurants before hand, by encouraging them to send people to vote for their own restaurant.

Using Twitter for Links

Paddy took a sample of 50 of their followers, and 38 of them had websites. Why not try to get links from them? They are all following the restaurant for a reason – and may be willing to link to the website.

Qwerly.com – Let’s you pull information (such as user’s websites/bios) from a list of followers without having to login to Twitter. You can scrape this using Google Docs rather than manually looking for everybody’s websites. Use Friend of Follow initially to get data from your users (export via CSV), then import this into Qwerly.

Links from Customers

Feature customers in a news letter, give them a specific discount (asking for a link back).

Next website: smartcatlearning.com

Currently, they are lacking domain diversity, although they have some good strong links.

Opportunities

- Schools
- Parents
- Mummy Bloggers

There are so many mummy bloggers. Once you’ve searched Google and found a good mummy blogger, click the ‘similar’ link in the search results to find similar ones.

Search Twitter bios using Follower Wonk for mummy bloggers.

Next website: shopsafe.co.uk

This website would be great for “ego bait”…

Provide awards for websites = give badges to the winners to get links back. They have 30 or so categories, so do it for every one of these categories. A lot of potential link opportunities.

A “blue sky idea” = become a review aggregator…

Push customers to add more reviews, they could then become an authority and act as an independent review website. Let the retailers use these reviews on their website (including a link back).

Next website: acorn-printing.co.uk

They are fair trade. This is gold for getting links, as not all competitors will be fairtrade.

Use Google to find fair trade links to get links from various link pages. This is an easy win.

Fairtrade.org provide lists of local campaign groups, there’s potential to get links from them.

They provide t-shirts for universities and charities, try to get links from these.

Link bait idea

Someone holds the record for wearing 155 t-shirts at the same time. Try to beat this record wearing branded t-shirts, and push this out through YouTube, Twitter, etc. Likely to get links to your website.

General Tips

Guest Blogging

Find targets and do outreach first. Contact people before you write any content, just provide them with the ideas, perhaps give them 4 or 5 ideas.

Add links at the top of your articles instead of the bottom. Bigger click-through rates + Google likely to give more authority to links at the top of articles.

Ecommerce

Get a link from SafeBuy. This is a pricey process, but you get a handful of good links from their website. If you submit to them, submit 4 or 5 different categories, as you can get multiple links.

To get links to product pages, create YouTube video of the product (a demo of it, etc). Provide the embed code for people to share this video, but get a link back to your specific product page.

New Startups

Smarta.com are always interested in start-ups, and are likely to give you a link if you do an interview with them, etc.

Links from Journalists

Use JournalistTweets to find journalists within specific niches and topics they are talking about. Reach out to them if you have relevant content.

Paddy now goes on to talk about the “shadier stuff” which he’s asked us not to blog.

Mind Games: Using Brainwashing, Psychology and Cults to Boost Your Conversion Rate – Stephen Pavlovich

Steve will be talking about conversion rate optimisation.

Conversions is not just about buttons. You can’t just tweak little things on a website in the hope that things will improve. You need to persuade people. Find out why they aren’t converting, and what can be done to encourage them to convert.

Persuading People

When doing split tests, think about why somebody isn’t converting.

Persuasion has been going on a long time. None of this is new.

Stop looking at other websites for inspiration – look to other forms:

- Spam junk mail: These are very finely tuned pieces of persuasion in action. These off-line letters are typically much better converting than typical online spam. These have been split-tested over long periods of time.

- Time Me Out (yes, the TV show): The principle ends up being people wanting to beat the other person to get the goal (ie. two girls fighting to impress one man). The same applies online on eBay: people end up getting competitive and try to out-bid each other, even if it means paying more for the product than they would pay in a shop.

Example

Zappos in the US list on their website “only 3 left!” on their product pages. This implies that there aren’t many left, and people have to buy now so they don’t miss out. They could take this further, and tell the visitor how many other people currently have this in their basket – bring out the competitiveness of people to encourage them to buy.

Steve then moves onto a Q&A from the audience…

Q: Have you noticed a difference in persuading someone from a social outlook, as opposed to a standard search outlook. How would you convince someone from Facebook, for example?

Steve: Don’t lead straight in with the sale. It’s about building the relationships (and email marketing is one of the best forms of doing this if you can grab their email address).

Q: Steve is asked to review smartcatlearning.com – a website to provide dyslexia test for children.

Steve: Testimonials are key. Although the page currently contains some of them, don’t underestimate the power of testimonials – flood the page with them. Video testimonails would also probably work well.

Work on the authority angle. Try to get positions from the members of the school – are they the head teacher? Include this information, make the testimonial stand out more.

Q: How do you get more email addresses from people online?

Steve: First analyse why people are coming to the website. If you don’t know, use Kiss Insights to capture the data to specifically ask them once they arrive. Take that data, and you can then tweak your website to provide related products etc, and also incentivised ways of grabbing email addresses.

Create content that will target people coming to your website. Monitor the incoming search terms and create things such as buyers guides, trends, etc. Give away this valuable (free) content, then perhaps begin testing whether you can get people to enter their email address first.

Play on the principle of giving somebody something first, then asking for something in return:

1. Make a download available for free
2. Ask for their email address before the download can begin
3. Let the download begin

In this example, the person has got something for free, but then they need to enter their email to confirm it. They are likely to be much more inclined to enter their address at this stage.

Avoid adding email newsletter fields within a checkout process, but add a note asking them to sign up to the mailing list after they have checked out on the site. This page could also be used to get feedback on the site.

Q: Do you have any benchmarks on conversion rates?

Steve: The only conversion rate you can be happy with is 100%. The thing about conversion rate is that it’s not a very good metric to use. Ultimately it depends on the industry, the website, the traffic, and how much a conversion is actually worth to you.

Branded traffic will typically convert much higher.

Ultimately the conversion rate of a website can only be compared against itself after a period of time to judge the difference/improvements.

If you’re doing a split test, that’s when the conversion rate of a website becomes important.

Q: If you could recommend ONE thing to improve your conversion rate, would would it be?

Steve: Look at where the traffic is going. Analyse the sales funnel, and look where an improvement in the conversion rate would give you the biggest benefit (ie. a checkout page for example).

Speak to your customers. Are they concerned about delivery? Split test some actions based on the insights. Don’t test anything too small – there’s no point. Do big, bold, changes, and use that data to refine.

Use surveys (via email) to everybody who has bought from the company: ask them what one thing would stop you converting on our website? They might suggest they haven’t seen the product in the flesh, and you can change this by providing hands-on videos, demonstrations, etc.

You’ll never know what the objections are, until you’ve asked them.

Adventures in Outsourcing – Paul Madden

Types of outsource:

Coding and Admin:

- oDesk
- Elance
- V Worker

Design

- Code my Concept
- P2H

Business Admin

- Free Agent

Human Being

- Crowd Flower
- Fiverr

Crawling

- 80Legs

oDesk

Paul’s favourite tool for outsourcing. oDesk provide a tool to let you take minute-by-minute desktop screenshots of the people you employ.

Use English skills of 5 as it’s absolutely vital you can communicate effectively.

Chose providers that are affiliated with a bigger provider – don’t just use individuals. This means you can deal with a manager of a team, and outsource various tasks to his team.

Get the owner of the team to sign an NDA.

Don’t interview – just give them a small task (paid) to test their skills for future projects. Also try to speak to them on instant messenger and have a proper conversation with them.

Set an hourly limit to pay them (ie. 20 hours a week).

Add them to Basecamp. Ensure all providers are added to Basecamp, get them to track their time and communicate via the messages (client’s can also be added to this).

Make it nearly impossible for them to get things wrong. Break tasks down into the very littlest detail to ensure it comes out meeting the exact requirements.

oDesk also have an iPhone app – which is great for tracking progress.

Outsourcing

Narola Infotech are a 30+ staff provider on oDesk with 5+ years experience. Compare them to a solo provider, there’s a lot of risk involved, and are likely to go off if they get a better offer.

Are you exploiting people by outsourcing? No, not from what Paul has seen.

Stereotypes

Coding (PHP/MySQL)

General:
- India (organised)
- Pakistan (independant)
Typically $9 an hour

Specialist:
- UK
- USA
- Canada
Typically $20+ an hour

For design, he’s never had any success outsourcing apart from the UK. The same applies for content – if you need good quality content then you should use native speakers.

Some Tools

Crowdflower

Typical tasks include:
- categorising images
- looking for particular information on sites
- helping out with account creation

Fiverr

A community you can have some fun with.

Providers will do anything for $5.

Paul shows us some examples:

- “I will walk into a shop and shout your brand name for $5″

Paul setup a job with him, and asked him to shout Think Visibility.

He got a message from the provider, saying he was arrested outside Walmart for filming illegally.

Paul’s second attempt at Fiverr was getting somebody to record a video of dancing puppets shouting Think Visibility.

Paul goes on to talk about some bits that are probably left unblogged (one for attendees only).

Twitchhiker – sharing, not selling – Paul Smith

Unfortunately my laptop battery died for this session. Sorry.

One Domain, One Hundred Days, One Result – Gary Taylor

Gary is up next to talk domains.

The challenge (set by Dom): You’ve got 100 days. Pick a domain, get it to rank, then generate a sale /sell it.

Where would he recommend to buy establish domains/websites?

- Sedo
- Acorn Domains
- Your Main Domain
- Deal a Site
- Site Point Market
- A4U Forum

What was Gary looking for as part of the challenge?

- An enjoyable niche
- Retail product availability (ie. you can actually see stuff)
- Existing traffic and potential to improve
- Established rankings (but not number 1 rankings)
- Buy it now price of £1,000 – £2,500

Overall he wanted an established domain, but something that he could get his teeth stuck into and improve.

If you’re going to develop a domain/website, you simply have to enjoy the niche, otherwise you’re never going to continue developing it/be committed to it.

The domain niche Gary decided on for the challenge was: Dogs.

Rottweilers.co.uk was available for sale on Sedo, and Gary bought it for £1,500. It’s an existing domain, 3 years old, 60-100 uniques a day with a premium WordPress theme.

Comparing this domain to 3DReadyTVs.co.uk that Gary had setup from scratch (registered 2008) and developed from the ground up, the Rottweilers one proved to generate many more visitors.

How do they compare (revenue)?

Rottweilers: he’s earned £3.50 in the past 7 days.
3DReadyTV: he’s earned 90p in the past 7 days.

You’ve got to put a price on your time – as as any PPC or SEO would, domainers have to be aware of the potential revenue value of developing a domain before committing to it.

Q&A from the Audience

Q: Will exact match domain’s “bubble” burst?

Gary: Google are putting focus on brands recently, but who is to say keyword-rich domains aren’t brands? If you’ve got a good keyword-rich domain, you’ll have the advantage over your competitor. Ultimately a lot of it comes down to how much you develop the domain (in terms of content and links). Keyword-rich domains also benefit from type-in traffic.

Q: Have you ever lost rankings when you’ve purchased a domain from someone?

Gary: Yes. People may do things to make domains look to be ranking better than they are (ie. short term rankings). The key is to do your research – make sure the domain has been treated well (no dodgy links, etc).

Dave’s Den – Dave Naylor

Dave’s talk was analysing some websites submitted by the attendees.

To analyse webistes, Dave typically uses:

- Xenu
- Screaming Frog
- Microsoft IIS SEO Toolkit
- My Playground Tool
- Majestic SEO

Run sanity checks on your website. You can do manual site reviews, but sometimes you need to use the basic tools to go back to basics and understand the website from a technical point of view (and links).

Some on-site tips from Dave’s site reviews:

- Don’t include lots of links on your home page.
- Avoid making the footer links too spammy, try to incorporate these links within more useful content on the page.
- Avoid having thin content pages. Content is so cheap now – get some good quality content throughout each of the key pages. Use Content Now to get content written.
- Avoid linking to unrelated websites from links pages (his example is a mobile phone website linking to a car insurance website – avoid these)
- Make sure your headings include what your site actually does – avoid being too generic (+ include keywords!)

Dave suggest avoid linking out to large PDF files (no matter how useful) without providing some of the content on your website. If you have a PDF document that’s 60 page long, it’s a good thing to link to it, but why not do a summary of the PDF that then becomes an authoritative article on your website?

For navigational menus, Dave suggests replacing bland menu options with CSS image replacement, then using the text to include keywords.

Make sure you have actionable title tags for your pages. Every page is a potential landing page from the search engines, avoid having generic title tags.

Avoid using pipes within title tags to split keywords without any thought for people who may be reading them. It’s lazy SEO.

Nofollowing internal links on your website is just plain stupid. If you don’t want search engines to follow your links, then don’t link to it – simple.

If you don’t have a lot of content on a page, but you have a lot of good customer reviews, why not incorporate some of the snippets from the reviews into the content page, so you end up with a really rich page of content.

When changing site URLs, make sure you update all of the internal links rather than just lazily 301 redirecting them all.

If you’re going to use infographics on your website, that’s fine, but don’t just do infographics, also include some good content that will help drive you sales rather than views.

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