Targeting Multiple Towns from One Website

How can we target many towns from one office location and one website?

This is a question we get asked a lot by clients we are working with. They have one office in a particular town – let’s say Swindon – and want to get their website found for their products and services in multiple other towns within a set radius from their HQ, such as; Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Cirencester, Oxford, Abingdon, Newbury, Marlborough, Devizes, Chippenham, Bath etc.

Using a Pay Per Click PPC campaign to do this, like Google AdWords for example, would be a fairly simple and straightforward thing to do – assuming you know what you were doing with AdWords – but if this is to be done through a long term and sustainable Search Engine Optimisation strategy, it becomes much more of a challenge. However, getting it right could make a seriously significant contribution to sales and ultimately to your profits.

So how would we go about achieving this objective with an SEO campaign?

Perversely let’s start by looking at some things that we definitely would not do!

  1. We would not try to claim fake business addresses in the target towns and cities. Google takes a very dim view of this practise and as a consequence your website could be suspended or removed completely from search results.

We can only use a legitimate address to describe your business location. In Googles own words;

“PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”

Learn more about this here.

And you certainly can’t use a relative’s flat in Bristol or an employee’s house in Chippenham as local offices! Google is aware of where a given address is and while Google does appreciate that many small business do legitimately operate out of a residential address on a housing estate, claiming to have a string of branch offices, each one in a residential area, will look very dodgy and don’t forget how much information Google can access via Street View!

  1. We would not go and create a stack of new pages with the exact same content on each page simply substituting one town name for another.

You might think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do but if you want to get these specific town and city pages indexed by Google (and the other search engines) this tactic will not work. The reason is that all those new pages you created will be seen as duplicate content and in that case Google will only ever index one of these pages – the others will effectively be ignored.

  1. We would not build any new pages that simply feature lists of city and town names that we are trying to target. This practise is known as “Keyword Stuffing” it might have worked once – 10 years ago maybe – but will only harm your site now.

Ok so having said what we wouldn’t do let’s look at what we would do to get the campaign moving.

Which Locations, What Services?

The first thing to be done is to sit down with the client to gain detailed information about which towns and cities are to be targeted and exactly what services or products can be sold in each of these locations.  It is going to be critical to the future success of the campaign to get as much information about the services being provided and your existing involvement with the target towns and cities. For example do you have clients or customers in these towns already? Can we identify any employees who can be directly linked with these target locations? Do you work with any partners who have premises in the target towns?  Are all the products and services going to be available in all of the target locations?

Who is your Audience?

Your target audience would be a key part of our initial investigative work. It is highly beneficial to understand as much as possible about who you are trying to reach through the website and what their key characteristics are. The more we can understand about your target customers the more able we will be to relate to them and engage them through the website.

Incidentally there is a great site which we regularly use to understand more about how people search for specific services or products. It’s called answerthepublic.com   (I think their home page is excellent – that alone is worth a visit!)  This site allows you to put in a target keyword related to your business and it will give you scores of questions that were asked by people who were searching for that particular product or service. We are working with a Windows Doors and Conservatories Company in Swindon and a search on Replacement Windows returned over 120 different questions! This information can then be used to develop relevant, valuable content for our new towns and cities pages.

Who are you competing with?

We would also need to understand who your main competitors are in each of the target towns and cities. We would then spend time checking out their websites to see what they might have been doing to get their businesses found in that locality. If there are things that they have done that we can capitalise on we’ll happily take that. The more we can discover at this stage the better. It will all be used when we come to start creating individual location specific pages for the website.

Prioritise and Focus

At the same time as part of this information gathering exercise we would also be looking to prioritise the list of towns and cities.  This prioritisation process is important for many reasons, not least because unless a large budget is available then we won’t be able to do everything all at once, but also because there may be compelling reasons why you want to target Bristol and Chippenham over Bath and Devizes.  We might also look to prioritise on profitability too. If the services sold into Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Cirencester are more profitable than those sold into Oxford, Abingdon, Newbury and Marlborough then it makes sense to start with them first.

Creating New Landing Pages

The next stage in the campaign process will be the creation of the individual ‘landing pages’ ideally one for each target location. To avoid the duplicate content issue we need to make each one of these pages as unique as possible. We will however, use the same content elements or content ‘building blocks’ for each page but within these blocks the content will be as unique as possible and highly focussed on the target location.

Content Building Blocks

Our building blocks might consist of some or all of the following;

  • An introductory text block – explaining what you do, what you offer, why people should use you etc. but very location relevant.
  • A Google based map of the town/city
  • Testimonials from existing clients based in the location
  • A case study from a relevant city based customer
  • Local news section
  • Local Partners text block
  • An invitation to leave a review
  • An Image Gallery – all images in the gallery and any used elsewhere on the page would be correctly geo-tagged.
  • Video – if there is an opportunity to get video onto the landing page you should definitely take it (assuming it is good quality). For example a short 30 – 60 second ‘talking head’ message or a customer testimonial, or a before and after video, would be a great piece of rich content and help boost the page. Of course the video must be town specific.

We would arrange these content building blocks in different ways on the different town landing pages so that, as far as possible, no two pages looked the same in terms of layout. Depending on the number of pages to be created this may not always be possible but as long as the content in each of these blocks is different then the duplicate content problem should not arise.

Once the pages have been launched there would need to be ongoing management and development of these pages over time, for example we would look to build links back into these landing pages and keep the content refreshed and up to date, just as you would expect to do for the rest of the website too.

So this is how we at Pink Fish Associates would go about the process of optimising a website for  client with a single ‘bricks and mortar’ presence but who needs to be found in multiple other specific towns and cities.

If you have any questions at all or if you would like to discuss this subject in more detail please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call Steve on 01793 886294 or email him steve@pink-fish.co.uk. We would be delighted to talk to you and to help you achieve your website marketing objectives.

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Website Design Companies – How do you make the right choice?

Five tips for selecting the right website design company for your business.

So you need a new website, maybe it’s your first ever website or you have outgrown your existing website and need something that better represents or services your business today. Regardless of your situation here are some fundamental things that you should consider before placing your new website business with a web design company.

What do you want your website to do for your business or organisation?
Before you even start looking for the right website designers to build your new site you need to understand the answer to this key question.

What do you want your website to do for your business or organisation?You must be clear about what your new website needs to do help your business. What objectives and goals do you have for the website in the short medium and long term? Is your website going to be a “brochure style” site or will be a more interactive resources website where your site visitors can download information – maybe as pdfs of podcasts (audio based) or vodcasts (video based) or do you need a full e-commerce site? If right now all you need is a brochure site think about how you expect your business to grow and develop – will you need an e-commerce capability in a year or two?

Only you know how the new website should work for your business. But once you have it clear in your own mind the website design companies that you choose to get quotations from should be very proactive in understanding the requirements, goals and objectives that you have set for the new website.

We can’t speak for others but here at Pink Fish Associates we always spend time on understanding exactly what it is our potential new clients want from their website development project. We have a very comprehensive questionnaire which we work through with our clients. This draws out a lot of really important information which we need to understand before we can even start to put together a proper quotation. If we didn’t invest time upfront with our clients to do this we could never produce an effective quotation – and we certainly could not create a website solution that is going to work effectively for our client!

So the key point here is if the website design company you are interested in working with is not interested in spending time to really understand your website requirements then they are not the web designers for you. The web company should be asking questions about your business and really listening to your answers. If they don’t do this they can’t possibly give you the best website solutions. If they are only interested in talking about themselves and what they have done or about the technology they use and how great it is they cannot build you a website that will really work for your business and payback as an investment. And that leads me to the second key point when choosing the right website design company.

View your website as a long term investment.
Your website should be treated as a long term investment. The word investment is key here because your website should really work for your business and pay back on your investment in it. Your website should deliver a real return and not simply be a cost to the business.

How you view your website will have a real impact on the kind of website you end up with. We see this all the time with our own clients. If you view the website as a cost or an expense then you will be looking to reduce that cost as much as possible, therefore you will be looking to save money at every turn and that will have a significant impact on the type of website you end up with.

Now, don’t misunderstand the point here – there is nothing at all wrong in getting the best possible deal but if you approach your new website with the mind-set that says ‘this is just a cost to my business and I am going to get it sorted for as little as possible’ then you will close down many great opportunities to end up with the website that your business really needs. Why do we say this? Quite simply because you will be focussed on cutting costs and saving money and will therefore not make the necessary investment in your website that will allow that website to really work for you as an effective business tool. View your website as a long term investment.You will not end up with the best design style or include the features and functionality that your new site could have and therefore you will significantly limit the ability of your website to deliver a return in investment. It is true that you get what you pay for and it’s especially true in the website business. The internet is littered with websites that simply look poor and don’t deliver any value back to that business – in fact it can be worse than that – a bad website can devalue your business.

So the point here is view your website as a business investment, not a cost. In this way you will get a website that can work effectively for your business and deliver a return on that investment.

This leads us on to point 3.

Make sure you select a website design company that will be there for you over the long term.

We just spoke about your new website being a business investment and so you will want that investment to be managed and maintained for the long term. Therefore you want the website company that you select to build your new website to be able to support you with that site over the coming months and years.

When we meet prospective clients for the first time we emphasise that our aim is always to seek to develop a long term business relationship with our clients. We want to create a business partnership with our clients which delivers real value to both parties and will last many years. We are not just interested in building their new website and then riding off into the sunset!

So when choosing the web development company you are going to work with make sure they are a stable business, ideally they will have been in business for several years, they need to be big enough to meet your website requirements but also they need to be committed to building a long term business relationship with you. They should have the knowledge, expertise and experience to help you to gain the maximum advantage you can get from the internet. Make sure the web design company you pick is truly capable of doing what they say it’s too easy to set up a website that looks great and makes claims that sound fantastic etc. but do take the time to view their work, check references etc. Above all make sure you take time to meet with them – see their people, hear what they have to say and how they approach the project (don’t forget, they should be asking lots of questions of you, to get a real understanding of your requirements and objectives – as highlighted in point one) at the end of those meeting ask yourself; do I feel comfortable with that company? Do I trust them? Can I work with them? Positive answers to those questions probably means that you have found your website development business partner.

One man band businesses typically don’t meet these criteria. You will find the people who place their website development business with these single player web designers are typically those who see their websites as a cost and not an investment. This leads us neatly to the 4th key point of what to consider when selecting a web development company.

Can your web designers do more than just build the site?
When selecting a web design company to work with think about what you really want from them.
Can your web designers do more than just build the site?A great new website obviously but what else? Consider these requirements, and whether they are important to you;

  • Your new website will need to be hosted (more information on website hosting) who will host it for you?
  • Will you want to have a management and support contract with the new site?
  • Would regular reviews to measure the performance of the website and analyse the many various statistics that Google will provide via its free Analytics package be useful to you?
  • Do you need advice and guidance about getting the most out of your website investment?
  • Will you need Internet marketing assistance such as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, or Paid Search Marketing (PPC) to get the website found quickly by your target audience?
  • Do have your own content creators or will you need help with creating new content for your website?

If you want your new website to be a valuable asset for your company then you will need a strategy or at least a plan for maintaining and developing the website. At the very least you should be adding new content that is relevant to your target audience, to the website on a very regular basis, and you should have an internet marketing strategy in operation if you really want to get the maximum benefit from your new website.

When we talk of website content creation we are not just referring to words on the pages. Content can be anything that goes onto your site including; images and graphics, video, audio podcasts etc. You should have a plan for Content Creation with a view to enhancing the value of your website for your target audience so that when they do visit your site their needs are met. This will significantly improve your website conversions – i.e. turning site visitors into prospects and customers.

The bottom line here is that when selecting your website development company consider the things that will be important for your business after the website has been built. If the website company you choose is able to offer a full range of additional services this should be a real benefit to you as they will already know your business and your website objectives and so will be able to provide you additional services and support to help you achieve those goals and objectives and helping to make your online strategy a success.

The internet is a very dynamic space, full of opportunities for all businesses and new “stuff” is being created all the time. Ideally you want to have a partnership with a web company which has the experience, knowledge and expertise to help you to gain the maximum advantage from putting your business on the internet.

Finally then, the last major consideration when selecting a website company has to be a financial one.

It’s not about the price tag – it’s all about value.
We have covered the point about why you need to view your website as an investment and not simply as a cost. But that investment has to be a good investment, i.e. it needs to deliver a return on the investment you are making or to put it another way your website needs to provide real value for money.

We said that you get what you pay for when investing in a website. If you are looking for the cheapest options you will end up with a cheap looking website, and that could actually damage your business instead of enhance it. But by the same token you don’t want to throw money at the new website buying functionality you don’t require and having something created that is over designed and over specified.

It’s not about the price tag – it’s all about value.So the optimum result would be getting the website you really need to develop your business, meet your immediate requirements, goals and objectives but with the ability to expand and develop as your business grows and develops. Furthermore you should be looking for a website that you can edit and maintain in-house so that you are definitely not dependent on the website company who built it – we have taken on many clients who were effectively being held to ransom by their website developers because only they could do anything with the website.

The price for developing your new website needs to be a fair one and that means fair to both parties, you and the web development company after all – as we discussed earlier – you want your website partner to be around in the months and years ahead it is in your interests that they are.

How do you know what is a fair price representing good value for a website? Getting in a couple of quotes is always a good way of checking prices but do make sure that you are comparing like with like otherwise the exercise is pointless. Also asking to see examples of previous work and checking on reference sites.

At the end of the day however you will need to make a decision, and going with the web design company that has taken time to understand your business and your goals and objectives, that ticks all the boxes that are important to you, and the one that seems to make sense and “feels right” for you is usually the correct decision.

We hope this helps you in selecting the best website company to build your new website and to support you in the years ahead.

Pink Fish Associated Ltd. is a Website Design and Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Swindon, Wiltshire. From this location we cover the South West and the South Midlands and the M4 corridor from London to Bristol, though we also have many clients from further afield.

Established almost 10 years ago we have since created over 500 websites. We currently provide services to over 100 active UK clients covering a wide range of industry sectors.

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Creating and Delivering Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

In the modern business environment, email marketing can provide the solution to two of the most important commercial requirements: finding new customers and keeping the ones that you already have.

At Pink Fish we have the expertise and experience of working across a wide variety of consumer and business to business markets to create effective e-marketing campaigns to meet the needs of businesses large and small.

We understand the parameters of budgets and timescales and work with our customers to ensure that their goals are achieved by drawing on the comprehensive range of skills and resources that we have at our disposal.

Generating New Business

Gaining new customers is the lifeblood of any business and in today’s world, email marketing is the most cost-effective method of achieving this objective. Hundreds, indeed thousands, of prospective new customers can be targeted and contacted with powerful and persuasive sales messages.

We work with our clients to identify the triggers that stimulate interest and create email marketing campaigns to generate enquiries for their products and services. New business e-marketing campaigns can be structured to achieve a wide range of objectives including:

  • Introducing a new business
  • Launching new products or services
  • Penetrating new market sectors
  • Increasing share in existing markets
  • Following up previous sales enquiries
  • Maximising the return from other marketing or sales activity

Maintaining Current Business

It is often quoted that a significant percentage of customers are lost through neglect. It is essential therefore that contact is maintained with current customer portfolios not only to make sure that you are not forgotten but to ensure that customers are fully aware of the benefits that you can provide them with.

Innovative and timely email marketing campaigns can not only maintain regular contact with your customers but also introduce them to extra products and services that they may be sourcing elsewhere.

E-marketing integrates with your CRM strategy to improve the effectiveness of customer contact and enhance knowledge of what they require both now and in the future. This is a valuable asset when planning the commercial development of the business. Typical strategies include:

  • Newsletters
  • Special Offers
  • Limited Edition Vouchers
  • Invitations to Events
  • Priority Announcements
  • Loyalty Schemes and Rewards

Whatever you wish to communicate, to both existing and potential customers, Pink Fish Associates can create and deliver cost effective email marketing campaigns that really hit the mark.

Contact us today – we’d be delighted to talk to you about your e-marketing requirements.

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Google Wants its Search Engine to Think Like You…

Mid 2012 Google introduced the Knowledge Graph into their search engine results. The idea behind it was to further enhance the Google search experience by helping us to find answers to search queries more quickly and easily.

The introduction of the Knowledge Graph marked a fundamental shift in the way that Google’s search engine responds to a search enquiry – the Knowledge Graph enables us to more effectively search for ‘things’ rather than keyword strings so a level of intuitive ‘intelligence’ or ‘understanding’ has been introduced into the Google search engine, with the goal being to make the search experience more comparable to the way that we humans understand the world around us.

What am I going on about? Well to see the Knowledge Graph in action try a search for “Avatar”. Google knows that Avatar is a particular entity type (i.e. a film) because it understands that, it can now relate this specific entity with a set of associated or related entities e.g. film directors, actors, theme music etc. This additional information is displayed down the right hand side of the page alongside the traditional organic search results. There is also a “people who searched for this also searched for…” feature as well, designed to second guess your next question or to open your mind to other possible sources of information which you may not have considered.

avtar google search

By the way, Google also knows that Avatar is a Swedish death metal band from Gothenburg and Avatar: The Last Airbender was an animated TV series in the states. But as neither of these are as popular in search terms it assumes you wanted Avatar the movie and puts that information first.

So what we are seeing now is Google basing the search results on an “understanding” of what the thing (entity) is that you have searched for and presenting that to you with a range of other “things” (information) related to your search. Not only that but Google through the Knowledge Base understands the inter-relationships between all these various  things, that means it can present you with stuff that you may never even have thought of asking for in relation to your original search but which proves to be valuable or which leads you to open up a whole new area of search around that initial entity. In effect Google is trying to anticipate what you might want to search for next and giving you a head start on that information.

This is highly significant in the search space because the Knowledge Graph is just a step along the path to the ultimate search engine which Google is striving to create.

Google have said “We’ve always believed that the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want. And we can now sometimes help answer your next question before you’ve asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for.”

The Knowledge Graph is a stride into the realms of Semantic Search i.e. “thinking” like humans in the way we understand our world.

THINK large Tshirt

When the Knowledge Graph was launched it already had over 500 million objects (entities) in its database and it knew more than 3.5 billion facts about, and relationships between, these objects and Google’s“intelligence” is growing all the time.

So what does this mean for those who want to make their websites or their Internet based information visible to their target audience?

Well – the schema that Google has utilised to help them deliver the Knowledge Graph is publicly available at Schema.org. and is a collaboration led by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Schema.org organises the world into a number of ‘primary’ entity types (Events, Organisations, People, Places, Creative Works, Product, Reviews). It also identifies a wide range of related or associated entity types (e.g. Local Business).

Schema.org provides a collection of schemas, i.e., html tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognised by the leading search providers. The search engines use this markup to improve their search results.  How? Because on-page markup enables search engines to better understand the information on web pages and so provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web.

Markup can also enable new tools and applications that make use of the structure and we are seeing lots of these coming through quickly now such as Wordlift a WordPress Plugin that provides an easy-to-use method to enrich user-created text (a blog post, article or web page) with HTML Microdata compatible with schema.org specifications using semantic web based content enhancements.

Wordlift claim that using this markup improves the display of your search results (e.g. creating Google Rich Snippets) all of which means that is “easier for people to find the right web pages and increasing the Click-Through Rate of your pages.”

Google support the following microdata types:

  • Reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses and organizations
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Music
  • Video

So if your website contains any of this sort of content, you can benefit from use of microdata which will boost your visibility in the search space because you are making it easier for the search engines to identify relevance and connections with entities in the Knowledge Graph.

If we understand the way that search is developing we can see the impact that this is going to have on the need for more original, relevant, and up to date content. I can’t overstate the need to review and develop your website content against this context. Content undoubtedly is key to achieving better results going forward, but creating more content just for the sake of it will not be sufficient. The content needs to be connected, and shared and placed in context through links with ‘authority’ websites and commented on and reviewed via social medial sites. This will mark it as of interest and of value which in turn will help your website to gain in authority.

We also understand the schema that Google and others are using to organise and arrange the information they are serving up in the search results, so we can ensure that our own content and the structure of our web pages mesh with that approach and include semantic markup to enhance the presentation of search results.

The world of search is changing, understanding how and where it is heading will give your business an edge in getting your website found ahead of your competitors.

If you would like to know more about how you can improve your web content to gain more website visitors and boost your business online, please just call us on 01793 886294 or contact us for a friendly, no strings chat. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

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