Monthly Archives: October 2011

SEO – Beyond the Rankings

SEO is, by its very nature, about obtaining high rankings in the search engines for keywords relevant to a website’s product and service offerings. This is, however, only part of the story. There are a host of equally critical factors to consider after achieving rankings.

Click Through Rate

Depending on which set of figures you read, the click through rate (CTR) on search engine results pages for the first natural listing could be anything from 15% to 40%! Our own research in this area indicates that click through rate varies wildly too. Reaching number 1 for a big keyword is great – but then it’s about maximising the traffic that this generates.

If you’re number 1 for a keyword with, on average, 100,000 exact match UK searches a month, increasing your CTR from even 20 to 25% will increase visitor numbers from 20,000 a month to 25,000.

Conversion Rate

Whatever your goal is, whether it’s a sale or an enquiry, your conversion rate will be critical to ensuring the maximum ROI on your campaign.

Conversion rate can be improved in a number of ways, by addressing factors such as usability, messaging and trust.

Social Audience Building

If a user does not convert from visit to sale on their first visit, the hope Is that they come back again in the future and convert. And one way to encourage that is to make sure they remember you and are in some way ‘in touch.’ Encouraging users to follow you on Twitter or Facebook is a great way to do that and, as such, social buttons on your site can be very effective.

Social factors are also having an increasing impact on search engine results.

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MC Hammer to Launch a Search Engine

Yes, you read that title right. And yes, I do mean MC Hammer as in the ‘U Can’t Touch This’ 90s guy responsible for an entire decade of really, really bad trousers.

It seems that MC Hammer feels his ‘talents’ are far more suited to helping the world find what it wants online than they are to the world of music these days. As a lover of music, I breathe a sigh of relief. As a lover of the Internet, I quiver in terror.

But curiosity got the better of me and I went over to to sign up for early access when it’s available. Purely in the name of research, of course.

I hope they’ll be improving that Word Art logo before launch. It’s just a little, erm, 90s looking. Deliberate, maybe?

Anyway, there’s not a great deal to see there yet but I couldn’t help but notice the somewhat odd page title.

Am I one of what?

We’ll let you know and share some screenshots as soon as we get to have a look around, of course!

It’s Hammer time!!!! (Sorry)!

Comments Off | Posted on in Search.

Google Encrypted Search Made Default for Signed in Searchers


Google’s Analytics blog announced on 18th October that SSL search will be the default for signed in Google searchers. What this means in terms of SEO is that it will be more difficult for people to analyse the effect of keywords in terms of traffic and conversions.

This is because for users using SSL search (default for signed in users), the actual search query that someone types to find and subsequently click on your website in organic search will not be provided in Google Analytics. You’ll still be able to see organic traffic and goals but for these signed in searches you’ll see (not provided) on the query.


Google’s stance is that this is all about protecting the security of users.


PPC traffic will be unaffected. Forgive my cynicism here but I do wonder why the security of signed in searchers clicking on a result for which Google will earn no revenue is more important than the security of users who click on a result that will earn Google a few quid. As yet, that’s unexplained.

How Many Searches Does this Affect?

Initially, this will roll out only in initially (not or other international variations). It’s a fair assumption that this will ultimately roll out globally.

We’ve been unable to find any exact statistics from Google about the quantity of searches that come from signed in users. However, Matt Cutts confirmed to Search Engine Land that even when this is at ‘full roll out’ he estimates this will account for ‘single digit percentages’ of all searches. So the actual impact will probably be fairly small initially, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see Google account holders increase and thus signed in searches too.

The Problem

The problem with this is that it restricts our data to a degree. If we achieve amazing rankings for a keyword and drive loads of traffic, the SEO team at Tecmark like to be able to fully analyse that traffic (all of it) to communicate to a client exactly how much traffic we drove, what it did on their website and how much revenue that keyword ultimately resulted in.

On the Flip Side

This (not provided) search query data will be an inconvenience, absolutely. However, with that said, it will also give us something of an insight into the quantity of searches that arrive at a site from signed in searchers.

Google also confirmed that Webmaster Tools will supply a list of the top 1000 search queries referring traffic over the course of a month, thus providing some data.

On the Whole

An inconvenience, yes.  The end of the world? Not at all! We’ll still be able to make educated assessments on traffic and conversions though it won’t be as convenient to pick out certain details.

We’ll let you know when this rolls out globally.

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SEO and Your Customer’s Buying Cycle

We know how critical it is that any SEO campaign starts with right keyword choices. But keyword research goes beyond simply finding words with the largest search volume in Google and that are some way relevant to your website.

Your keyword search should take into account your specific customer’s buying cycle – the process they undertake to reach a decision on what to buy and where to buy it from. This varies massively based on the products and services you sell, whether you’re B2C or B2B and other factors. But let’s use an example (completely unrelated to anything we’re working on at Tecmark) to illustrate what we mean.

Our Fictional Example Sells Trainers

So, let’s say you sell trainers. You sell all types of trainers from all kinds of brands and for all sorts of purposes. You sell exclusively online and so it’s critical for you to get people onto your site and buying. You’re not interested in driving them to a store (because you don’t have one)!

Consumer Buying Cycle

We have a customer who is about to run a marathon and needs a pair of running trainers. This customer, depending on how much they already know about their needs, could very realistically enter a buying cycle that looks like this:

  • Generic search for ‘trainers’ or ‘running trainers.’ Browse a number of stores and the brands they sell.
  • Research some of the individual brands within those various websites.
  • Identify a brand that they are particularly keen on.
  • Identify a product within that brand’s range that fits their needs.
  • Find that product at a good price from a trustworthy online seller.

Search Cycle

In online retail, that means the search cycle could follow a pattern of searches that looks something like this:

This is purely for illustrative purposes! I don’t personally know whether a Supernova Sequence 4 is the best running shoe, for the record! But what we see in a buying cycle across many sectors is searchers refining their searching the more they find out.

This sequence of searches or similar searches is a realistic pattern – though let’s bear in mind that different searchers are already armed with varying levels of knowledge and, as such, some enter the cycle closer to the point of purchase than others.

Incorporating this into a SEO Campaign

  • It’s not particularly feasible to rank for every single variation of every single keyword that someone looking for any single one of your products might type in. But a keyword list that balances some broader keywords as well as some higher converting specific keywords is an effective approach for ecommerce websites.
  • An on page strategy that focuses on best practice techniques for the product pages will give you a massive start (before you even think about link building) on the more specific product names, for example.
  • In ecommerce, the more generic the keyword, (certainly in this example) the more traffic it is likely to generate but the lower the conversion rate these visitors will have.
  • The more specific the keyword, the lower the search volume but the higher the potential conversion rate of traffic from this keyword.
  • If you have thousands of products, though, ranking well in search engines for your product names can equate to more traffic overall than high rankings for a handful of generic keywords.
  • Being visible for a number of searches a consumer types in throughout the process reiterates your brand to that consumer. If they keep seeing you popping up in search, by the time they reach the purchase stage, they feel ‘familiar’ with your brand.

Your Website

The internet makes it easy for consumers to find what they want quickly and easily. No matter how many times you appear in search, if your prices seem unjustifiably higher than the average for a product or your site doesn’t look trustworthy, the customer can and will go somewhere else to make their purchase.

Comments Off | Posted on in Search.

Super Social Media – O2 and Three Mobile

On Friday morning, (iPhone 4S ‘available for pre-order’ day) before 9am, I was already looking on the O2 website in an attempt to find out what they were offering in terms of tariffs for the forthcoming iPhone.

I was incredibly disappointed to find that, while Orange and Vodafone had their prices out and online ordering ready, O2 still had no info. The logical thing to do, of course (for someone who is as much a compulsive hashtagger as I am, that is), is to take to Twitter to whinge about it:

Before long, I was engaged in conversation with others on Twitter talking about various tariffs and someone suggested I might want to go to 3 mobile for their upgrade. This resulted in mentions of me and these providers together in a number of Tweets.

What was impressive is how quickly both O2 and 3 (despite iPhone 4S day surely being a busy one) responded directly.

O2 reassured me the tariffs were coming (though wouldn’t give me any specific indication as when I could expect them).

Three Mobile, by now seeing that I am just out of a 2 year contract with O2 and eager to get my hands on an iPhone 4S, in the first instance told me to let them know if there was anything they could help me with and then Tweeted me directly to let me know as soon as they launched their tariffs!

As a consumer, this was great social media on both parts. I was able to get answers through a platform I engage with every single day (rather than having to go off and hunt down customer service numbers). I was alerted the moment the tariffs went live. I did seriously consider a move to Three Mobile off the back of their tariffs – tariffs I wouldn’t have seen had their social media team not been in touch with me via Twitter.

Great social media on both parts (O2’s use of my first name in their opening Tweet to me is a particularly good call).

Fast response, personal approach and direct engagement. All essential for big brands on Twitter.

iPhone 4S – To Upgrade or not to Upgrade?

I was hoping for an iPhone 5 launch yesterday. I was as excited as a child on Christmas Eve before the announcement. But by the end of it, I was as deflated as I was the day I found out Santa was an elaborate lie. However, things always look a bit better in the morning, don’t they? And I’ve now had chance to have a real look at the additional features the 4S has to offer over my iPhone 4.

General thought is that iPhone 3G and 3GS users will be the key ‘iPhone upgraders,’ and that there may not be enough in the 4S to tempt those who already have an iPhone 4 into an upgrade.

I’m an iPhone 4 user and am now faced with the ultimate question – to upgrade or not to upgrade (21st century problems, eh?).

Why Upgrade from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S?

There are a LOT of new features, including:

  • Dual core A5 chip. That means 2x faster performance and that graphics will be 7x faster and what that means for me is that gaming will be better. Yes, these things matter to me.
  • 1080p HD video recording. This, on a mobile, is really quite impressive.
  • 8MP camera. They made a real song and dance about this in the launch yesterday and it’s easy to see why. They’re touting it as ‘possibly’ the best camera ever on a mobile device. Another reason to upgrade.
  • Siri. Now this looks pretty good based on the demos I have seen. How well it works in practice remains to be seen of course but essentially it’s a voice control system for the phone. Apple have, quite rightly, identified that users in general are not making much use of voice commands on their phone. If you ask me, that’s because people feel like utter fools walking down the street holding their phone in front of their face and saying over and over again (slowly and loudly as though they were ordering beer in a Spanish bar) ‘Call Mum. I said MUM. Caaaallll Muuuuum.’ Apple reckons it has the solution though with Siri. It’s conversational and, from what I’ve seen so far, intelligent! For example, if you have your hands full, your phone in your pocket and you get a text message, you can say ‘read message,’ to have it read aloud to you before telling the phone whether you want to reply (then dictate your reply) or whether to close it. And that appears to be one of the more basic uses of Siri. Check out the demo below for some of the really impressive stuff. It remains to be seen how well it will work with extreme accents of course, but nonetheless, it’s a selling point for me, particularly as this will be exclusive to the iPhone 4S. Note though, it has been released as a beta.

  • iOS 5 boasts 200 new features, including Twitter integration and some pretty impressive notifications capabilities. This will be available to me on my iPhone 4 as well, of course, so I wouldn’t necessarily have to upgrade to benefit. But surely it makes sense to have a shiny new phone to accompany the shiny new OS? Maybe? That’s my excuse anyway!
  • Antenna. For me, my only complaint with the iPhone 4 has been with its performance as a phone! It cuts out too often and I know other iPhone 4 users who experience the same issues. The 4S will have 2 antennas for improved performance as a phone.
  • Battery life is improved. 8 hours 3G talk time, 9 hours talk time if you’re connected to Wi Fi, (as well as matching the iPhone 4′s 40 hours music playback and 10 hours video playback).

Why NOT Upgrade?

Well, there are of course sensible concerns like the fact that upgrading on contract with most of the UK networks (who are yet to announce their tariffs at the time of writing) will mean being stuck in an 18 or 24 month contract and the smartphone giant will undoubtedly announce another model in that time. But surely that’s just a fact of life with a Smartphone? New models come out all the time and it’s only ever a matter of a couple of months before something more advanced than you have is on the market. So for me, this isn’t too much of a concern.

The one flaw for me is that while battery life has improved in many respects, the standby battery life is lower in the iPhone 4S than the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S is quoted as having ‘up to 200 hours’ standby battery life compared to the iPhone 4’s ‘up to 300 hours.’ But again, considering how infrequent it is for me to ever have my phone purely on standby, this isn’t a major concern for me.

Who Am I Kidding?

Of course I’m going to upgrade. Even thinking about not doing is just me trying to convince myself that I’m not one of the people eager to get their hands on the new device and playing right into Apple’s hands.

In case you haven’t heard, release date is 14th October, but you can pre-order online from 7th October. We’ll post here when the UK networks have announced their pricing!

Comments Off | Posted on in Apps.

Scott Hague Completes Skiddaw Challenge

Tecmark’s Channel Partner Manager, Scott Hague has successfully completed a walk up England’s 4th highest mountain, Skiddaw, in aid of JDRF.

At Tecmark, we’ve been carrying out Internet Marketing activities for JDRF for several months now and have all come to know and appreciate the research the charity carries out into diabetes. So we all gladly sponsored Scott and sent him off up a mountain with a pat on the back!

The walk, which took just over 5 hours, took Scott to an altitude of 2,761 feet. So far, he’s raised £525 for the charity and you can still donate here.

Congratulations, Scott!

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