Business quiet? So you have given up with sitting next to the phone and waiting for it to ring. The first initial course of action (after recovering from the hot sweated panic) is to actively get the team together and throw a few ideas about for a ‘Marketing Plan’. Maybe an advertisement shot in the local paper and a few thousand flyers to go out ‘door to door’. I don’t think that will save you in the long run!
Its good news when the economy is flowing well and you have been able to sit on your hands and enjoy that wonderful sound of the phone ringing blissfully all day in the office. From a starting point that is where the problem originally festered itself! Complacency is a killer for any business and ‘complacency’ normally wipes out many small businesses within the first three years of operating. Well at least now you have a plan or more bluntly aware that the phone is not playing any tune for you right now and picking it up every hour to make sure it still has a ring tone is like kicking the tyres of a £30’000 car you’re going to buy. Sadly, your marketing plan should have been full steam ahead when things were going well – It’s called future planning.
You have launched the website a few years ago and it did some work for you and now it’s dead, so you have decided it’s not going to work for you again!
Stop for one moment and think ‘Lateral’ - you must exhaust all avenues and you must ‘speculate to accumulate’! Yes, the internet has evolved so much over the last few years and you must think ‘did you keep up with the changes?’ – Probably not.
You can do a lot of research on your website and come up with a specific plan to kick start it off again without spending a penny!
Let me give you a few indicators on how you can do this and if you follow it through you will find yourself motivated and in your possession you will have a specific plan to put to action.
Who are your competitors?
You probably already know who your competitors are but you don’t know why they are doing better than you – you have thought about ‘BT’ conspiracies while lying in bed with worry but reality tells you that’s not the reason. So you need your writing pad and pencil and you need to write a few things down!
Firstly, you need to identify your ‘Keywords’ that you are fighting for in the market place. Say for example you are a ‘water vending machine hire’ company based in Manchester, now you have your initial keywords to start off with.
Play around with a few different types of searches in Google such as:
Water Vending machine hire Manchester
You will see that it does bring up your competitors at the top of Google, but trust me when I say it’s not by accident and it’s not because Google uses their machines in their offices! There are number of logical reasons why this is happening.
Pay per Click
Firstly at the top of the page you will see a slightly shaded box with a number of competitors in that box and at the top of the box it will say ‘Ads related to Water Vending machine hire Manchester’ or check out the right hand side column of the search results and you will see a number of ‘box’ ads in here with ‘Ads’ displayed at the top. Any of your competitors who appear in here are paying Google for Pay per Click (PPC).
I am not going to go into too much detail about Google’s Pay per Click but in a nutshell:
And more reading can be found at Google Ad Words
So now you know they use PPC its a starting point!
If your phone is quiet and you know your competitors are using PPC then maybe you need to consider using it. You can set a monthly budget say for 4 months and review it after this time. You will need to consider the Keywords you want to use on PPC and more importantly know how much each keyword is going to cost you.
When you’re getting down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of working on your keywords to use in PPC you need to use Google’s ‘keyword planner tool’. If you don’t have an account, open an AdWords account which is completely free and look under ‘tools’. From here you can play around with a few ‘Keyword’ searches for pricing and more importantly it will indicate estimates of ‘Click Through’ and costs.
Check your competitor Meta Tags
Okay so you have sat up now and taking in a little bit of interest – that’s good. So let’s go back to the Keywords and start off fresh again. It will not solely be the reason your competitor is on top of page one of Google by using PPC but it is playing a significant part.
We want to look at their website now and see what important words they are using and then you can compare the information to your website data (Bit like being back at school ‘My Ball is bigger than your ball’.)
The competitor who is on the top page of Google simple click on the website link to visit the page. In my case I have selected http://www.ultimatecarevending.co.uk/
Now you have the website up and running we are now going to check out some important data in their code! We are going to check their ‘Source code’.
Simply press ‘Ctrl + U’ on your Keyboard or ‘right click’ your mouse and select ‘View Source’ either way will bring up the backend code. Do not let this put you off with all the coding you see. We are simply looking for 4 lines of code. These being:
Basically the Meta Tags feed the ‘search Engine Robots’ important information about the website which is used to index it. Have a look below at the source code. The image below is only for illustration and you best look at the real source code from this link http://www.ultimatecarevending.co.uk/.
Lets break down the Meta Information that’s being sent back to Google:
<meta title>Ultimate Care Vending – Vending Services Manchester | Vending Machines Northwest | Freedom Vending</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Ultimate care vending are an independantly owned and run company who offer reliable vending equipment and services for in and around the Manchester and Stockport areas. ” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”vending machines manchester, vending machine, vending services manchester, vending machines north west, vending services northwest, freedom vending, water coolers northwest, water coolers manchester, vending stockport, vending, manchester, vending cheshire, vending high peak” />
The Title tag will describe the website page document. It is the second most important SEO element (the first being your content). Your tag should be no longer than 70 characters in length, anymore than this and Google will simply cut off the wording after character 70. The closer your keyword to the start of the title tag will help with your rankings.
Use it well and make it specific to your website page.
The Meta Description is a powerful way of getting your site noticed, basically it will tell the search engines what your page or website is about. The Meta Description should include your keywords in a well written format. Do not attempt to ‘keyword stuff’ it, otherwise Google will penalise your site. This tag will also help with the clicks to your site because the Google algorithms will match the ‘search’ to the website that has the closest match to the ‘description’.
Keep your Meta Description length to 156 characters!
The only search engine that looks at the keywords anymore is Microsoft’s Bing – and they use it to help detect spam. To avoid hurting your site, your best option is to never add this tag. It is more of an old redundant tag from the early days of Web compliance that doesn’t really serve any purpose.
If you are still with me at this stage then you have found out some important information about your Competitors website and your own. So what next….
Content is King
Hopefully, with your own analysis and notes of your ‘Keywords’ and your competitors ‘Keywords’ you now have the information to make a real difference to your website. This is a crucial part and I keep telling my clients that ‘Unique’ and ‘relevant’ content will make or break you.
Do not copy and paste from a competitors website – Google has some powerful algorithms in place and it knows that you have plagiarised the content.
Plagiarism is NOT the highest form of flattery
You do not have to be the author of a best selling novel and why would you get someone in to write about your business when you know it best. Focus on the Unique Selling Points (USP’s) of your business and just jot down your bullet points for now. Look at different income streams, can you offer a repair service for the vending machines? can you offer other forms of vending products? you just need to be a bit more creative. By adding other services you will be able to add a few more pages to your website and much more content that will include a whole new range of Keywords. That means you have a better chance of being indexed and actually showing up on the Search Engine Results.
Now you need to write your content in a comprehensive way and make sure you include all your good selling points. Pass it round the office and ask your staff to read it and make changes accordingly until you are happy with the wording.
If you have access to your website and its on a WordPress platform then you will be able to update ALL of the above information yourself. If you now have the content written out and you need a web designer to upload it then I would think it would cost no more than £75.00.
Changes to your website will not happen over night however, if you have access to Google analytics you should see some activity within a two week period. By week four you should see that the page you have worked on is enjoying new visitors. This may give you the ‘Bug’ to write more content and on a regular basis.
If its working for you then you need to take it to other platforms and start looking at Social Media such as Facebook. Revive that old account you had years ago and start writing original content in there too!
The above process can be the most successful marketing plan you have ever done and although it may take a bit of your time up it doesn’t cost the earth and could be the biggest return on your investment.