Blippar: It Just Isn’t Clear What It Does.

I don't know this coke!

I don’t know this coke!

This post came to me because of an actual app experience I had and couldn’t stop thinking ‘that could’ve been a much better experience’. I’ll go over what happened and how I think app marketers and indie developers can avoid making these mistakes.

I came across Blippar after I saw a advertisement, for Watch Dogs, on the front cover on the free magazine Short List last week. In the advert was a promo for Blippar which stated interactive advert. My thoughts were this could be cool!

As soon as I got a good internet connection (it amazes me that, still!, some cafes don’t offer free wi-fi) I downloaded it. Then I didn’t look at it again for over a week. On Sunday I was standing on Platform B at St Pancreas and saw another Blippar ad advertising Coca-Cola. It didn’t really explain what the app did just that you could Blippar a can of coke. I assumed something cool would happen. I decided to scan a can of Coca-Cola that I had back at the house.

Right after I got home I went for the can of Coke. After about 20 seconds of 70’s Star Trek transporter style graphics on the screen, which I thought was pretty cool, I got the following image.

Blippar Coke Ad

Blippar Coke Ad

You Lied. You Said Scan The Coke and Something Would Happen.

After taking the time to remember to, then go get a can of coke to watch this awesome augmented reality advertising stuff unfold and ultimately improve my life, it didn’t work. I felt exactly like every person that takes the time to use the Blippar app feels.

Using Blipper is something you need consciously do. You need to stop doing something else to use it. It’s interruptive. So when a user takes that time to engage with a brand that they like you need to make it work, first time or gives a good reason to why it hasn’t worked.
Seeing an ad for a brand that Blippar supports 30 minutes prior to testing the app and then being told ‘it’s not a Blippable item’is pretty frustrating and not follow with a good reason or another action to compensate. The experience ends sharply at that point.

Honestly. It’s Not Just Me.

Looking at the app reviews and ratings it would seem that I’m not the only one having problems with Blippar.
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Blippar Adroid Page

Blippar Adroid Page


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Blippar Reviews

Blippar Reviews


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On Google Play Blippar have around 100K+ downloads and 900ish reviews here’s the Breakdown as a percentage:

  • 5 Stars          29%
  • 4 Stars          7.5%
  • 3 Stars          5.7%
  • 2 Stars          5.7%
  • 1 Star            51%

Depending on how you look at it this is good user feedback or at least useful. It may not be as easy to hear as ‘this app is awesome’ but it’s definitely giving Blipper qualitative feedback to work with. Blipper are doing their best to manage the complaints by responding to each negative review, enquiring for more info or explaining how it works. That in itself must be a full time job.

So Where Has Blippar Went Wrong?

This is an outside view and based on the users responses so I maybe wrong. It looks as if they’ve sold the service to users before fully on-boarding the brands.

They have extensive marketing campaign across the UK (I saw one ad in Glasgow and the other in London) across print and other out of home advertising (not cheap!) which I’m sure will have pushed them to the 100+K downloads that they have. In realising the app too soon they’ve angered almost 60% of early adopters and provoked a ‘meh’ response from the rest.

Take Away’s For Your App Marketing

Below are a few points that I think you can use to try defend agains the problems that Blippar are having.

Beta Testing

Hire, yes, as in pay someone. Hire testers to use the app for an entire day. Get 200-300 people from across your target market to test your app. 24 hrs of high volume use from a varied demographic will create a fantastic bug list.

Out Reach To Brand-Crazies

Using social media it’s pretty easy to find brand-crazies (I think they are also called ambassadors, ha!) as I like to call them. These are people that are always posting picks of the latest branded item they’ve bought.
Speaking to brand ambassadors (brand-crazies) will help you, as either a developer or marketer, understand the motivation and process of someone actually engaging with the app. If a person who is addicted to brands and engages with brands, sharing, posting, etc. finds it a hassle to use your app you might need to rethink things.

Soft Launch

Some people hate soft launches. I can’t think why. They allow you time to debug with, generally, a more patient user. I’m not saying a less vocal user but certainly one that’s willing to perceiver with you.

Soft launches also allow you to test that your in-app analytics are working correctly and gives you time to make any last minute adjustments.

You could argue that beta testing is like a soft launch but you need to assume that once someone has got their pay cheque that the app will be removed from their phone and never looked at again.

Is Your Launch Messaging Clear Enough?

Assuming you’ve worked out all the kinks in the app and the UX is perfect you are now ready to launch.

Your big task is now to ensure that when someone sees your ads that they know exactly what to do, what the app does and how it will benefit them. I’m not saying that if you don’t do this that you campaign is unlikely to be successful at all. I’m saying that if you don’t do this your campaign won’t be as effective as it could be.

Blippar didn’t communicate what their app actually does. I took leap of faith and used my intuition and it didn’t work out. The experience caused me to write this blog post. Which could be perceived as good or bad.

The app isn’t user focused and indeed Blippar the business isn’t user focus. I came to this conclusion after looking at their website. The sites tone talks to potential brands first and has very little to say to the user.

My thought on this are: App’s don’t exist without users. Keeping the user happy will ensure that you have prime real estate for advertising partners in the future.

Going To Stick With Blippar?

Augmented reality advertising still interests me. I found the process of figuring out what it is that Blippar does then it failing to work very frustrating.

For the time being I will be uninstalling Blippar. If I were them I’d pull back in pushing to users until they’ve got a lot more brands on board or fix the technical problems they are having. Then I’d start talking to my users and build a community around the app. Not just push via their clients.

In saying that all of that. Blippar are certainly doing something right to get the clients and exposure they have had. Keep Going and Good luck Blippar!

p.s. This is a blog. Which means if you disagree (or agree) you can post below and tell me why. Unless it’s offensive or totally off topic I won’t be censoring comments.

App Store Optimization: Don’t Chase The Algo

Chasing The App Store Algorithm

Chasing The Algorithm Will End Badly.

The smart person learns from their mistakes, the genius also learns from the mistakes of others. Learning from the world of search engine optimisation can help you avoid the pitfalls of not just individuals but, arguably, the entire industry.

Firstly, note that the SEO world and the ASO (App Store Optimisation) world are closely linked due to their alogrithmic nature as well as the fact that Google is a controlling player in both.

Next, if you are involved in SEO you’ll know that this week we were issued with the news that all organic traffic phrases will be hidden from us – check out this article on seo round table. This makes it very difficult for SEO’s to do their job from now on. Not impossible, just difficult.

This latest development is a further blow from Google following their ramp up of algorithm updates since 2011: take a look at this Moz’s algo update timeline, which has been catalysed by those who game the algorithm, understandably, to earn more money.

App Store Optimization (ASO) will see the same happen in the future. If companies continue to leverage apps to game the algorithm to sell their app or gain popularity, we will see a shift to spammy results then to tighter app store guidelines with retroactive penalties.

What Happens When Google Turns The Screw?

Here are some examples of what happened to the traffic for site whose owner didn’t obey Google’s terms and conditions and didn’t earn their rank.

Google Search Penalty example 3

Google Search Penalty example 3

Google Search Penalty example 2

Google Search Penalty example 2

Google Search Penalty example 1

Google Search Penalty example 1

Let’s Try A Little Role Playing…
Imagine that this was your app business. Imagine that the salaries of you and your employees were paid from the revenue generated from the traffic which you lost overnight. Think about this situation. It’s happening all the time with online companies which don’t have the brand awareness to prop themselves up after a penalty.

Coming Soon: App Store Penalties

To quote Raekwon: “It’s in the wind, I’m tellin’ you…”

In all honesty I’m thinking out loud at the moment. But it’s more than feasible that Google will apply its spam team to its app store if they feel the manipulation and spamming of results is ruining the user experience. Apple will do the same, though it’s far easier for Google to do so. If this happens, expect retroactive penalties aplenty.

Google is pushing everything through Google+. This means that when you spam you are doing it through Google+, a system over which they have complete control.

Ask yourself, ‘How easy is it to identify a spammy Google+ profile?’. It’s pretty easy, isn’t it? It would take you five seconds using a couple of key identifiers: usage, profile location, profile’s recent posts, past app interaction, etc. Spam social media accounts are pretty obvious and easy to identify.

Ask yourself another question. ‘Could I automate the identification of profiles with the key characteristics I choose?’. Yes you can and pretty easily too.

Fake-it Till You Make It, Might Break-It

Celebrities are the best at this all you need to do is look at a with and without makeup post, Mela Klunas:

Mila Klunas with and without

Mila Klunas with and without

Let’s imagine that you’ve got a great app, people use it and it has a whole bunch of real reviews. But in the early days to get people to find your app you used some questionable techniques. I’m not blaming you, it’s tempting. You’re thinking ‘It’s cool though, that was in the past. I’m white as white now, right?’. Wrong.

If Apple’s App Store and Google Play decide to look at profile quality in more detail and dish out penalties or remove apps based on poor quality scoring. You. Are. Toast.

An algorithmic penalty might just lower you position but a manual penalty could be a removal from the store. Either way could be catastrophic to your business.

You Sunk My Battleship
One day you wake up, check your rankings and BOOM. They’re on the floor. The app that was paying all your bills just bombed. Do you have a backup plan? Probably not. Do you know how to correct the penalty? Probably not. Do you have enough cash to bridge until you have a plan? Hopefully you do.

Earn Your App Rankings

Earning your rank by being a better, more outward facing business is a concept that smart and ethical SEO’s have been trying to float for at least five years. It didn’t work until recently. Until Google reacted to the spamming and then devastated businesses overnight, people wouldn’t listen. Don’t end up like this. I’ve spoken to companies who have literally had to start again. It’s sad to see but this is the nature of spamming.

Avoid An App Slap
Work to communicate with your customers and users. Keep you apps up to date. Try new things and do real-world stuff. Generally be a better business and you’ll avoid the wrath of Apple’s App Store and Google Play’s spam team.

Feel Differently?

If you have any opinions, ideas or thoughts on app store penalties, stick a comment below. We love to hear others ideas on the subject. Because learning is earning 😀

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Appy Christmas Everyone: App Marketing At Christmas

Santa on a mobile

Santa on a mobile

Please don’t go crazy when I say that Christmas is just around the corner. There are few industries where Christmas time is a quiet time and mobile app downloads is not one. So what have you got planned for your app marketing this Christmas?

Why App Marketing is Important at Christmas

Mobile phones and devices are definitely on the list at Christmas. Whether it’s someone specifically asking for one or that you think it would make a great gift – for example last year I bought two tablets as gifts both were for people over 60 years of age.

The table below is a combination of Google search volumes for terms which contain mobile, phones and Christmas.

Christmas Mobile Related Terms

Christmas Mobile Related Terms

As you can see a huge uplift in search phrases occurs from September to October, then goes stratospheric into December. After December search volume comes back down to earth. You can download the list App-Marketing-Christmas-Terms.

This data would suggest that shoppers and users are highly engaged with their mobile during this period and two themes emerge from the snapshot of keywords: personalisation and purchase. Both themes are interesting to you because personalisation will allow you to engage with your current users, and every new purchase of mobile devices creates more potential customers.

What’s Christmas Got To Do With My App?

I’m currently working on a campaign, of which I will disclose more information after the campaign has run (it’s Top Secret). This campaign is not for a seasonal mobile app and in time will also exist as a hardware product. With that considered it is still possible to create an app marketing campaign for Christmas to boost downloads of the app for new devices.

Suggestions for App Marketing At Christmas

Based on the keyword pool I provided you can take a few approaches. Assuming that you all use social media and email marketing (if not email, social media will do) for distributing content and communicating with your customers and fans, you will get feedback pretty quickly.

Christmas Phone Wallpapers

Nothing puts you in the mood for Christmas like a festive wallpaper. It sounds simple but why don’t you provide Christmas Wallpapers for mobile devices? Something cute, Christmassy and subtly branded with your logo. One up on that would be to make the wallpaper ‘Live’. Making the wallpaper interactive and providing a way to easily share the wallpaper with their friends may not get you immediate downloads but will reinforce your app’s brand.

Wallpaper Terms

Wallpaper Terms

It’s Christmas. Switch It Up!

How often do you change your apps creative? Start thinking about changing creative content regularly. I don’t mean entirely I mean tweaking it here and there for short periods of time. Google do this with their homepage and it gets lots of attention.

Updating your app’s creative with a seasonal theme will help float your app to the top of the user’s mind. Android currently allows automatic updates, and provided that your app is set to do this the user should receive a Christmassy themed app with no effort at all. And in a worst case scenario they will receive a notification to update the app which will bring the app to their attention.

Easter Egg App at Christmas??

Competitions provide an outstanding way to gain interaction with users. The temptation of something for free is too much for most people to resist. They’ll be crawling over one another like zombies to get at the juicy (brain) prize.

Zombies for competitions

Zombies for competitions

Putting some sort of Easter egg in the app which leads to a prize is a good way to increase time and interaction with the app. And the interaction with your company and the customer come collection time will be binding.
A good example of this, from a personal experience, is a few weeks ago I won an HP Slate7 tablet. As much as the tablet isn’t as good as the Nexus, I do now have a much better opinion of HP and an awareness that they make tablets; I didn’t know this previously. Now when I’m in the market for an upgrade, HP will be in my list of devices to compare.

If you can’t crack out a cool Easter egg competition, find a way to give something way for free in return for downloads. Facebook ‘Likes’ campaigns are a good example of this. They give out prizes based on tiers of ‘Likes’ and pick the winner at random.

Don’t Let Christmas Fly By

These are only a handful of ideas which you could use from just one start point. You can do more research into the relationship between mobile and Christmas terms using the Google’s Free Keyword Tool which would yield loads of ideas for you to play with.

Christmas can be a very busy time for mobile app downloads and you want to take advantage of that as much as possible. Find your niche, identify KPI’s and unwrap the creativity!

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Pay-Per-Gaze: How Google Glass Could Affect Paid Ads

We’re all hearing the noise around Google’s Glass. And if we were to fully accept Google’s ad campaign we would believe that the brave new world of Google’s Glass will be run by nerds and smoking hot women, just as fashion changes to that of StarTrek. But let’s try to see through the hype, as well as the Glass.
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Model wearing Google Glass

Model wearing Google Glass


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Another Model wearing Google Glass

Another Model wearing Google Glass


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That's 3 models wearing Google Glass

That’s 3 models wearing Google Glass


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Terminator Google Glass

Terminator Google Glass


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Sergey Brin Wearing Google Glass

Sergey Brin Wearing Google Glass


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Geek wearing Google Glass

Geek wearing Google Glass


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The implications of the technology are more than skin deep. Marketers – ‘Eye’s Up‘!

The Technology

Google Glass isn’t a one way technology. Google are pushing the user benefits of having augmented reality, the capacity to take photos and videos without a clumsy handset. As well as being able to access useful information using voice commands.

Look into my eyes

What Google aren’t publicising as highly is that while you are looking at Glass, it’s looking right back at you. Monitoring eye movement, dilation and focus. This has obvious privacy implications and what they could do with that data is mind boggling. But for now we will stick to its effect on advertising.

Google Glass Gaze Tracking System

Google Glass Gaze Tracking System

The Effect on Ad Creation

We’ve all seen the Google search results heat map. And if you haven’t don’t worry because here’s one they made earlier.

Google result heat map

Google result heat map

For years Google has been trying to understand how users interpret their results before clicking on them. While heat mapping with cursor and eye movement studies have pointed them in the right direction and have been relatively accurate in expressing what part of the page people engage with, it’s nothing compared to what eye tracking millions of individuals could do to the way they display their ads and results.

It’s a long way off and probably a few heated legal battles will ensue, but Google Glass could revolutionise the ad industry as we know it.

Quality Score
Imagine a world where your ads are measured by the emotional response to the content. Not just how it matches the keywords on the page and how many people clicked it. Badly written ad copy or pictures of Miley Cyrus could cause your ad to plummet in quality score.

Ad Prices
We thought it was bad when Google introduced first page bid prices. Ads based around emotional response would make this look like a blip.

Ad prices could rocket for those who don’t have the creative talent and as for small businesses, well, you can forget it. We’ve all seen the state of account setup but the owner of a business who’s mentality was ‘this isn’t so hard’. It will certainly bode well for agencies and in-house PPC managers who know what they’re doing. But for those who are winging it and muddling along it’s maybe time to think about seriously upgrading your skills or getting another career.

You’ve Got Time

Google has no plans to introduce ads to Glass any time soon. Just keep it in the back of your mind that one day you are going to need to seriously up your creative skills to induce a strong positive emotional response when someone reads your ad.

Here’s a different way to look at this patent: it could be a huge PR stunt by Google. With that in mind don’t go running away telling your boss the end is nigh and we need a new paid search strategy (like some have done with a certain Google +1 post).

Adding A Business To Yelp

Setting up a Yelp business page is relatively straightforward. It does require a lot of waiting and confirming.

Like Google, Yelp tends to change its processes quite a bit. For example prior to writing this post you would have had to confirm your business with Yelp via a phone call and a pin. Now, however, it goes off to a mysterious place where – from a remote location nowhere near your business – a person decides whether you are a real business or not. I’m not sure how this method could work better than calling the business. But, hey, who am I to argue.

As usual I’ll be providing screen shots of all the pages you’ll see in the process so you can be fully prepared.

This is a 13 step process which includes verification to setup a Yelp business listing. You need a fair amount of copy in the form of:
Specialism of the business
History of the business
A bit about the owner

As with Google Places you’ll need photos.

The verification process takes a few days. You’ll receive an email which will tell you to login and set up your account.

Creating a Yelp Business Listing

Calling it a business section makes it sound very official but you don’t need to pay for this service.

To get to the business centre good to the footer of the page and under Help and click on Business Support Centre to add a business to yelp. Then click the big red button to get to the details page where you will fill out contact details.

The Yelp Business Centre

The Yelp Business Centre

Another nonsense page with a big red button you need to click again.

Create a Yelp business account

Create a Yelp business account

Now we are getting to the nitty-gritty. Input your business name and location and look it up. If it appears you need to claim your listing. If not, go to the bottom and click ‘add my business to yelp’.

Is your business already registered with Yelp?

Is your business already registered with Yelp?

Fill out the form with the appropriate details and click add.

Fill in your companies details

Fill in your companies details

Now check the email account that you entered for the verification email. Follow the process outlined in the email.

Look for the verification file

Look for the verification file

Manually Verifying A Yelp Business Page

After verifying your account you will need to wait until the details you entered are manually checked by Yelp. This can take a while, at least a week.

Now you wait on the Yelp team getting back to you...could be a few days

Now you wait on the Yelp team getting back to you…could be a few days

Once you get your manual verification email you will be sent to this page. Login.

After receiving you email sign in.

After receiving you email sign in.

Confirm again.

Confirm you account

Confirm you account

Time To Add The Business To Yelp

Now the fun starts. Get your copy and images to hand. Click the big red button in the lower middle of the page.

Start setting up your Yelp business page

Start setting up your Yelp business page

What you need here is a bit of copy explaining what your services are. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

Start filling in the details.

Start filling in the details.

Add some photos of your business, logos or maybe the dishes or work you’ve done in the past.

More details

More details

In this section you’ll want to talk about how your business was formed. The ethics, standards etc.

and more details

and more details

Because the nature of Yelp is local you are expected to have a little blurb about the owner. A ‘get to know the boss’ section.

Almost there...

Almost there…

YAY! We’ve completed the setup process! You can go in and add extra information, tweak or refresh whatever is there whenever and as often as you like.

Whoohooo you've completed the profile section of creating a yelp account!

Whoohooo you’ve completed the profile section of creating a yelp account!

It’s a bit of a process but..

Just like an episode of Strictly, setting up Yelp requires a lot of steps, but it really doesn’t take long if you have your copy and images at hand.

Another tip about Yelp. Reviews are super important but don’t go faking them, buying or in any way try to game Yelp. They have very clever systems which can identify this and will strip your account of all your ratings – yes, even the legitimate ones.

I hope this helps you, adds to your understanding of Yelp and clarifies what to expect when you set up a Yelp account.

How To Set Up Google Local/ Place/ Maps

The Benefit of Google Maps

Appearing in Google’s local search results can be immensely beneficial to most businesses. Especially small hyper-local businesses, who gain from the online equivalent of passing trade. Someone could be in your area, round the corner for instance, looking for exactly what you sell or provide. That person uses their smart phone to Google “…in Your Street” and if you’re set up correctly you will be at the top of their list of results. You are encouraging an easy sale and who doesn’t like an easy sale?

The question is, what’s the most efficient route to maximum opportunities? Sit back and relax while I take you there.

Google Local

First, be aware that Google has changed the name of the product so often that I don’t know what to call it anymore – Local, Maps, Places, Business, Whatever. Different names, same thing. Let’s go with ‘Google Local’.

Setting up Google Local is pretty easy and quick. The only downside is the length of time it takes for Google to verify the listing.

In order to do this you will need a Google account. If you don’t have one then create one here. You’ll be using this account for other Google services which we will discuss later in the series.

1. Create A Google Account
2. Enter Business Details
3. Pick Your Business
4. Verify Your Google Local Listing

1. Create A Google Account


If you follow the link above you can start to create a Google account. Click the Sign Up button at the top right of the page. The first page you’ll come across is the Personal Details page.

Create a Google User account

Click to enlarge

Enter details into Google user sign up form

Click to enlarge

Fill out your details and move to the next stage.

If you’ve not got a Google account you’ll hit a page which will entice you to sign up to Google+. They use clever wording to disguise what they are doing. Ignore it for just now. We will return to it later in the series.

Google will try to get you to sign up to Google+

Click to enlarge

2. Enter Business Details


Next you’ll land on the page where you’ve to enter your business details. Google have simplified this process and it’s far easier that it used to be, simply because they want you to sign up to Google+ to develop your business profile.

Google business details form

Click to enlarge

Google business listing with service area map

Click to enlarge

Fill out these details. Make sure that the map point is in the correct location. Google doesn’t always get this right.

3. Pick Your Business


More often than not, the next page will have other options of similar or closely located businesses. Sometimes it will have your business. This is because someone else set it up before you. If this is the case claim the business. If your business is not there then click ‘none of these match’ and move on to the next stage.

Claim your google local listing

Click to enlarge

4. Verify Your Google Local Listing


We are at the end HURRRRAAAAH! It wasn’t that hard, was it? You will see a text box where you enter the recipient’s name. Do that then click. You will see a confirmation overlay showing an example of the verification postcard. This is what Google sends you and inside is your verification pin.

Verification postcard from Google

Click to enlarge

Now. You might be thinking ‘Awesome! That’ll be here by the end of the week and I can start earning my place in local listings.’. Wrong! The time it takes for a card to arrive varies greatly. I’ve seen it go from one week to six. Make sure you don’t miss it because you have a long wait on another card.

Easy, eh?

That’s it. Fairly straightforward, eh? The other stages of local optimisation are just as simple. Stay tuned.

Small Business SEO – DIY SEO For Small Businesses

When you’re out and about you tend to meet people from all walks of life, from billionaire bankers to sandwich shop owners (we go out and about in some remarkable places). The former have no interest in what we at Miratrix do for a living, while the latter usually do and bombard us with questions on how to boost their footfall. This article, then, is the first in a series of blog posts dedicated to the little guys, the real heroes of the contemporary economy (so if you’re a billionaire banker, cool your Lear jets for now: we’ll get back to you soon).

Making hyper-local searches super-effective

To be even clearer, the series is designed to help those businesses who’d benefit hugely from hyper-local searches such as ‘cafe in’, ‘restaurants and bars in’ or ‘clothes shop in’.
We decided to create a resource to suit businesses that are small and entirely local; businesses of a scale that cannot justify the cost of hiring a search marketing expert.

If you have a business which you think would benefit from ‘in’ search terms take your laptop or tablet, head to the nearest coffee shop, order a drink and read this. If you own a coffee shop go to a quiet corner and read this.

Contrary to the belief of many who deal with SEO’s (or what you might believe by reading other articles on local searches) the easiest, most influential thing a small business owner can do is not keyword research and calling the developer to update the title tags.

Setting up and claiming local listings will be the first and most effective things a small business can do.

Before you start setting up local directories you will need:

  • Your business info
  • Blurb/back story about your business
  • Photos (don’t have any? Get some!)
  • Videos (if you have them)

What Will We Be Covering?

As I see it, if you cover the bases below you are in good stead to improve your local SEO traffic.

  1. How To Set Up Google Places/Maps/Local – whatever you want to call it
  2. Set up Qype
  3. Set up Google Authorship
  4. Content ideas

These posts are for small business owners who aren’t search savvy. If you are one of those people and are finding trouble with the tutorials please let me know where you are having problems and I’ll amend the posts to make it easier.

Over And Out!

Copywriters Versus Someone What Thinks He Can Rite

Here’s a list of things I consider undervalued:

  • Pizza
  • Fresh air
  • Copywriters

That’s an abbreviated list but you see where I’m going with it. Copywriting is important and just like pizza and fresh air the quality of the copywriting can mean life or death.

The other day I was discussing copywriting with a client, who had chosen to write their own copy.  That’s fine, but as a believer in high quality copywriting I decided to try to explain why copy is so important. It’s hard to explain. It’s better demonstrated.

I go Mano-a-Mano with a Copywriter

When pulling together the Miratrix site I originally wrote the content. After writing our content marketing page I re-read it and I was brutally honest with myself. It wasn’t inspirational and didn’t flow. Here’s my version of our content marketing page:

Content Marketing

Content marketing has become a bit of a buzzword recently, but what the heck is it?

Put simply, content marketing is creating content that shows off your great products and services.

Offering your company’s products for sale on the internet isn’t enough to make sure you close the deal. Unless you are the cheapest provider for everything you offer, then you need to differentiate yourself and convince the public that they should buy from you.

Content marketing can help do this and here at Miratrix we are experts in documenting all the knowledge within your business and using this to generate you revenue.

Every business in the world exists to solve a problem for someone and content marketing is a way for you to demonstrate how you can help. It’s a diverse channel of business which can range from the straight forward to the biggest :

  • Writing an FAQ section to answer the questions your customers have and your rivals don’t even know about building a campaign to get the attention of MPs for a topic that concerns your customers and the people in your industry creating videos that show just how amazing you and your products are we plan the campaign, gather the knowledge and show you how to benefit, from making sales to building your brand.
  • With content marketing you can make your company the ‘go to’ website/store/office/phone number (we want to help improve every channel of your business, not just the website!) for solving customers problems and gain yourself a useful advantage against your competitors.

Final Draft

Now here’s the professional copywriter’s take:

Content marketing is a buzzword, but what the heck does it mean? And when was the last time a customer bought a buzzword?

Put simply, content marketing is online content created to maximise the appeal, value and uptake of your products and services, and their benefits.

Setting yourself apart and a great deal more

Offering your company’s products for sale on the internet doesn’t guarantee you’ll close the deal. You need to develop distinctive and effective ways to differentiate your business and convince your target market that buying from you is a good idea.

Professionally produced content marketing can help you do this and here at Miratrix we are experts in mining all the knowledge within your business and using this to generate more revenue for you. Experience tells us that you probably already have numerous solutions to build business, right under your nose.

Access high quality response

Every business in the world exists to solve a problem for someone. Content marketing is just another showcase for you to tell the world about how you can help. And clever content marketing will stimulate high quality response. Consider three proven fixes:

  • Write an FAQ section to answer the questions your customers have and your rivals don’t even know about. Build a campaign to get the attention of MPs for a topic that concerns your customers and the people in your industry
  • Create videos that memorably show just how effective your products are
  • Miratrix can help you plan your campaign and gather the knowledge. We can show you how to benefit, from making additional sales to building your brand.

With tailored content marketing you can transform your company into the ‘go to’ website/store/office/phone number (we want to help improve every channel of your business, not just the website) for solving customers problems.

To gain these advantages, take advantage of Miratrix know how, now.

Spot the Difference?

I didn’t find it hard. The final copy is concise and more engaging; it no longer just talks at the reader. There’s relevant detail without being wordy. It still reflects the Miratrix tone of voice.

Letting a skilled copy-writer distill your content is one of the best things you can do for your website. Because copy-writers are skilled in writing. and not in your area of your business, they can be objective. They can, with an open mind, a load of honest questions and a determination to achieve clarity, help you filter out all the jargon and unnecessary statements. You end up with text which can motivate a reader to perform the intended action, and feel more positive about your service, product or opinions.

Numbnut Alert

Be warned. A hard-working copy-writer is prepared to look a complete numbnut in pursuing the essence of what you are offering: in asking seemingly stupid questions, the writer can learn more, faster. Sometimes, just sometimes, when faced with a barrage of idiotic questions, clients realise that they’ve spent years (and fortunes) missing the point about their own products (and their brand, but that’s another kettle of worms). When you get down to the words, you get down to the cold, hard reasons why people buy stuff.

You are Five Questions from Being a Copy-writer

Many people believe that they can write effective copy and they assume (especially in marketing departments) that it’s their job to write it or no one else will. To those people, I ask:

  • Are you truly, ruthlessly critical of what you are doing?
  • Do you believe you can write better than someone who lives and breathes copy-writing while you dabble?
  • Can you differentiate between shouting and getting your message over quickly?
  • Do you have the technique to create twenty good headlines (or more) in order to find the great one?
  • Have you the courage to ditch copy that is stunningly clever but irrelevant (a situation known to gnarly old copy-writers as ‘drowning your babies’)?

If the answer to all those questions is YES then good luck. If your answer to any of those is NO then it’s time to call in the professionals.

PS My copy-writer has many more great pointers on generating productive copy, but he’s keeping them to himself, and I’m keeping his name to myself. Hell, you may be a competitor of mine, and Miratrix wants every edge it can get.

Never Mind The Rankings, Feel The Content

Websites which aren’t utilised make me sad. I mean, you pay good money to put up a website and then you go and let it languish, fall into disrepair and become increasingly irrelevant to your customers. The poor thing only gets updated when someone in the office bothers to remember.

Would you treat a shop on the high street or your office with the same disregard? No, you wouldn’t, because they are important, forward-facing parts of the business.

So is your website.

I hear and understand the argument that begins, ‘Our contracts/products/services are too big/expensive to be sold online’. If this is the case, then it means that those who are thinking about buying from you will need considerable persuasion and will take time before making their purchase. Should you not be doing EVERYTHING possible to convince that person that your company is the one to buy from?

Who’s Your Receptionist?

It’s unlikely that traditional advertising, pamphlets, flyers, quarterly brochures and so on will instantly convince a potential client that your company is cutting edge, relevant and competent. I’m not saying that those media have no impact – they do – just that they now act more as brief introductions and reminders rather than tools to convert. They have a place in the marketing toolbox, but they tend to be ephemeral and are more likely to be dismissed. That’s why printed matter, radio commercials, etc, carry the web address. Your website is now a crucial reception area for your business. So why not give customers an impressive reception?

Ask Yourself Two Honest Questions

If you were the owner of a company where deals are done face to face, through meeting the right person, I’d like you to ask yourself, ‘Where is that person likely to look first to find out more about my company?’ and, ‘Where is the person who is doing the procuring going to point their boss?’.

I’ll be surprised if you opt for any of the traditional mediums I mentioned above.

What I Understand

If you don’t want to focus on ranking for keywords that’s fine. I understand why you wouldn’t want to waste resource on link development for key phrases which will only drive a few hundred visitors a month (and most of those keywords only loosely qualify anyway).

What I Do Not Understand

What I cannot understand is that you have a static website carrying very little information and which consists mainly of sales copy. I don’t like reading sales copy. It’s usually easy to spot: it’s self-congratulatory, self-indulgent and often peters out into a list. I like to know why your product/service is innovative and awesome in ways that can help me; and then I like to see examples of awesome in practice. Ideally, I’d like the content to entertain me, but hey, maybe I should get out more. Finally, I want to hear from the expert in the field. YOU.

It’s much more difficult and time consuming to put together a pamphlet or brochure than it is to write a post on a trending topic in your field. And that’s before we mention that these days print is frequently far less effective than online at generating buzz about your business.

Who Else Is Doing This?

Many companies use their websites to promote themselves. You don’t need to be an intergalactic conglomerate to do it effectively. To be honest,  it’s probably harder to write about your subject if you are in a large multi-national because of the tangle of red tape, guidelines and protocol that you need to fight through to make it happen. Small to medium size companies are more nimble, though there are exceptions.

Example of companies who make their websites work hard:

  • Salesfore – Huge global company.
  • Kutz & Blum – Legal company in North Carolina, USA.
  • Miratrix – Yes. This is how we promote ourselves above our competitors.

We Aren’t Back To ‘Build It And They Will Come’ Thinking Are We?

Once you’ve created your blog post (it doesn’t need to be a blog post, it could be a video, graphic, guide, glossary, anything at all) you need to let people know it’s there.

Have you got an email data base? Tell them! Got friends in the industry? Tell them!

If yours is  a less technophobic company that likes twitter, facebook or LinkedIn, use those channels to start a conversation. Don’t just push it out saying, ‘Oy! Here’s a link read it!’

Communicate and Engage, Don’t Broadcast

Ask followers to give you feedback or to share it for you. You’d be surprised how happy people are to help you out. Just ask.

Your blog posts won’t work for you if you don’t push them. Think of your posts if it they were flying lanterns. You need to get them up in the air first. Once they’re up, they’ll get noticed; people will point them out to each other; if they are well written, topical and relevant, they’ll more than take care of themselves.

miratrix-syndicate

What I’ve just discussed here is called a couple of things – content marketing, inbound marketing or as we like to call it at Miratrix “Talking About Your Business”.

I Know We Said Forget The Rankings But…

‘Talking About Your Business’ doesn’t just have a positive effect on how new business perceives you it also helps gain traffic from search engines. You are killing a flock of birds with one stone. Earning new visitors, developing trust in your industry, promoting your business and expanding your client base.

In the long term it’s the most cost effective and enjoyable way to promote and develop your business. You never know, you might actually impress someone enough for them to contact you before they meet you in person.

What Penguin Did To Black Hat SEO Scene

Keep this under your hat, but I like looking at Google Trends. I find it useful for understanding what’s happening in sectors and with brands. It is trend based so not to be taken as gospel but from my experience the predictions are usually accurate.

The other day I decided to investigate if people were still talking about black/white hat SEO. Not sure why it popped into my head, it just did. Maybe my head was cold and I needed a hat.

Anyway, the results were interesting and to me they made a lot of sense.

White Hat SEO versus Black Hat SEO

The trend for black hat SEO has been around from as far back as Google Trends can show you. White hat SEO seems to have had made an appearance about one year later.  I feel that the phrase white hat SEO was created to counter black hat and help differentiate the two when selling in to clients.

I prefer the phrase ‘ethical SEO’ but as you can see from the graphic it’s never really taken off. Unlike hats, which are easy to take off.

What Country do We Most Associate
with Black Hat SEO?

It’s not a surprise that black hat SEO attracts greater interest than white hat. Using it you can either spam the competition, boost your traffic or both simultaneously. What is worth noting though is that the country we most associate spamming with is the country which seems to have the greatest interest in black hat SEO. That’s right, India!

No longer can we say ‘they didn’t know what they were doing’.

A Penguin Ate My Black Hat

When Google released Penguin, its job was to destroy link spammers. I was happy when this update hit. A lot of sites which didn’t earn their SERPS were hit hard. Unfortunately, as in most wars, there was collateral damage and some good guys got taken out, but in general it was a helpful update.

Penguin created a shock wave in the industry and beyond. If we are to compare Penguin to natural disasters I’d liken it to a meteor blast. Why? According Google Trends it’s caused lasting damage which over time may lead to the extinction of black hat SEO or at least people’s interest in it.

RIP, Black Hat

In May 2012 the search phrase ‘black hat SEO’ dropped off a cliff. While the phrase ‘black hat SEO’ still gets more interest than ‘white hat SEO’,  people’s interest in black hat techniques are in free fall and unlikely to return.

Although black hat techniques still work and it is possible to rank using spammy techniques it would seem that Penguin has put the frighteners on people. Nobody wants to talk about it, they live in dread of the shadow of the Penguin!

Maybe black hat SEO will evolve and another term will take its place. Crash Hat SEO, maybe. Or how about Top Hat SEO? Any other suggestions out there, that you’d like to hang your hat on?