Pinterest’s own quick answer is “Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” From my perspective it is essentially a bookmarking site with a strong visual theme.
Who is Pinterest for?
Anyone can use it, but so far the majority of users are female (between 60 & 70% depending on the source of the information) and almost half of the users are in the 25 to 44 age range (again final numbers depends on the source of the statistics).
When planning a major home project (for example a new kitchen or other renovation), many of us collect samples, cut photos from magazines and save brochures and other relevant items. This exactly the behaviour in Pinterest’s original concept behind. But instead of collecting physical objects, Pinterest helps you collect digital equivalents of those objects.
Pinners (users of Pinterest) can link to images (or pin images) and create collections of photos called “boards”. Pinners can create as many boards as they want and typically they are organised by theme or project.
Unless the board is “secret” any visitor to Pinterest can see the board and it’s pins. Visitors can elect to follow the board or the pinner and will be notified any time new items are pinned.
What about for businesses?
So far it may not sound too attractive to businesses. But if you have a product where appearance is critical (furniture, furnishing, jewellery, food, and hundreds of other product areas), Pinterest may be an option.
There are two ways for a business to involve Pinterest - one passive, one active. Let’s consider the passive approach first.
You may not want a Pinterest account but that doesn’t stop users from “pinning” images of your products to their “boards”. If you show your products in galleries the addition of social share options, such as the ubiquitous “like” and “tweet” buttons, to all photos makes the share process very simple. Why not consider including a “pin it” button as well. This is potentially rewarding as the pinner may be making a decision about which product to buy. Apart from a little development time (I’m happy to supply a quote), this passive strategy costs you nothing.
If you are prepared to embrace this platform actively, you will want to create an account, add some boards and start pinning photos. This takes some time setting up and adding new images periodically. How often you pin photos will depend on your available time and your supply of quality photos. Start small and grow is an OK strategy. Think of this as a marathon not a sprint. Once you start activity, get your web developer to add a link on your website to your account Pinterest account. That will be the first step in promoting your use of this platform.
I plan to publish some additional material on Pinterest in the weeks ahead. This will be around specific tactics, which I hope you will consider reading and implementing. In the meantime, start by adding the social buttons to your gallery pages to make it easier for visitors to share your content.
It’s interesting what you notice sometimes in search results when you’re looking for something else. I was checking results for a customer’s site when I noticed a site listed with a title of “Your SEO optimized title”, as seen in the above image of the Google result page.
My first thought was the site was undergoing a face lift, perhaps a totally new design being implement, maybe a new designer is just finding his way. So I checked the site in Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. This title is first listed on 20 April 2013. Now a month and a half later it is still showing. That’s too long for a Work In Progress. The designer and SEO consultant acknowledgement in the page footer is consistent from July 2008.
The text “Your SEO optimized title” is embedded in the title tag for the home page. In the majority of cases, and definitely in this one, Google takes that text and uses it for the primary link in the search results. This is also how it appears in Yahoo and Bing.
In the SEO industry, most practitioners agree the Title tag is a key factor in setting the keywords for which a page will rank. Who wants to rank for “your SEO optimised title”?
Assuming the page ranks for an important keyword despite the page title, would that text encourage a potential customer to click the link? I suspect many would find it disconcerting and be very reluctant to click the link.
We also know the page title is visible in the header of every modern web browser (at least for notebooks and desktop devices). That implies no one, either in the development team or the company itself, has paid much attention to the way the website looks.
Don’t think this is a mistake on an isolated website. I found several other instances of this phrase.
Have you found other incomplete titles in your searches? Tell us the best ones you’ve found.
This is accurate and well intentioned but shouldn’t be seen as a complete recommendation. Let’s think about why the alt attribute (not tag) is used. If an image is not displayed (either images are turned off, the image has been moved or deleted from the server or the visitor is using a screen reader) the alt text is used to replace the image. So the purpose is to give meaning to the image. But some images have no meaning, they are purely decoration. Thus my reply ..
@seogroup agree the thrust of your alt tag #SEOTIPS, but I suggest empty alt text for images that are purely decoration.
It is true search engines will read the alt text and use it to give context to the image and rest of the content on the page. It will be one of the clues the search engines use to decide to show that image in response to an image search.
My first concern about that tweet is that we shouldn’t make decisions about web pages based on what is best for the search engines. The primary users of a web page are the human visitors. They should be the reason we make decsions about the construction and content of a page.
I alluded to my second concern earlier, not all images add meaning to the page they are purely included for design purposes. In these cases the alt attribute should be included but the text should be empty (i.e. alt=”“). It should not be the name of the image or the image dimensions (often the defaults in prior generations of web building tools).
When we go looking for tips it is important to look for the complete story before implementing them.
Just in case anyone thinks the alt text is an opportunity to stuff a few keywords. Don’t! This is very “spammy”. Search engines may ignore the keywords, but they always have the option to penalise the page or the website in the worst cases. It’s worthwhile to remember the true intent of the alt attribute. Everyone using a screen reader on the page will get monumentally annoyed by hearing the same keywords repeated relentlessly as they try to consume your content.
When talking with clients and potential clients I am often asked if they can make the changes to their website themselves. The fact that they are asking me to build or set up their website tells me they don’t know much about the construction of websites and so the only option for self management is the use of a Content Management System (CMS) of some kind.
It’s the client’s website, so if they want a CMS website then that’s what I will supply them, but I won’t do it before making the alternate case to them.
Some may argue that I am likely to make more money from not letting them have self management, because I get to charge them for every minor change. While that logic has an appeal perhaps that position is a little less certain if you consider all the costs over time.
When it comes to CMS there are two broad categories - self hosted (Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress are the big names) and software as service (Tumblr, Weebly and Wordpress [again] are some of the names). Some of these use proprietary code and others are open-source. All have very different pricing implications and ease of learning issues.
For the current discussion let’s consider a common solution - Drupal, which is open-source (no cost for the software) and runs on most hosting platforms. Let’s also assume we can buy a packaged template (design) for the website.
What are the cost differences between Drupal and a hand built website?
This is an overview of costs for a small operation with only minor growth in their website content. I have ignored the annual cost of hosting. Obviously every business will be different
Why have I included refresh education every 2 years? In my experience, when so little use is made of the CMS, the operator forgets some of the key activities and needs help. Ongoing education costs will also arise if the staff member responsible for the website leaves the company or changes roles.
If that table is extended, the cost for the hand built website doesn’t exceed the cost of the self managed Drupal implementation until the 9th year of operation. And I have not factored in the cost of upgrades to the Drupal software that need to be performed regularly, at a minimum annually. Allow another 180 per year for maintenance and forget the breakeven point. The costs hand built site will never catch up.
There are other factors at play here. What other core business activities could the person managing the website perform to contribute to revenue or reduce costs while updating content or sitting in education? Will that person be capable of optimising all the of the content published to the website and will the CMS website itself have all the features needed in the ever changing SEO landscape?
Do you still want your own Content Management System? Perhaps it’s not as cut and dried as you think.
Before discussing the pros and cons of these forms of website promotion, let’s make sure we understand what these terms mean.
PPC (Pay Per Click) is a form of advertising where you agree to pay for an ad to appear on a website. You only pay if someone clicks in your ad. Perhaps the best known example of PPC is Google’s AdWords. This uses an auction mechanism where you bid an amount you are prepared to pay for each click. You’ll see ads on the top and /or sides of most search results in Google (and most of the other search engines).
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a process that increases the probability a website will be displayed near the top of the search results. Google is another great example. The results displayed by Google, after the ads, are ranked according to a set of algorithms that Google has decided will produce the best results for the users of their search facility.
The benefits of the different approaches will determine how appropriate they are for your circumstances.
you are in control of the budget so you can predict the cost
you are certain your ad will be shown at least until your budget is exhausted
ads will begin almost immediately, making them very useful for start ups, new products or short term requirements
ads will only appear while you keep paying (ongoing cost)
ads are only displayed in response to keywords you bid for
majority of cost is upfront
can be slow to start
no certainty of results
once results start they are likely to continue until someone else’s website begins to rank better (no way to know how long this will be but months are likely, years are possible)
your website can be shown in response to unexpected search strings not just the ones you are bidding for
Many in the industry believe the long term results are possible from SEO at a lower cost than PPC. This is hard to prove as the results will vary significantly for different companies and different industries.
Again it’s hard to prove for all cases but there is some evidence and logic to suggest there is value in combining both approaches. Here are the main points ..
SEO improvements will help to reduce cost per click, which will generate more clicks for the same budget or the same number of clicks at a lower budget
some searchers will not click paid ads so the organic result acts as failsafe
increased opportunity for traffic across a mix of paid and non-paid keywords
organic traffic continues past the point where the PPC budget is exhausted
(this is the hard bit to prove) when organic results and paid ads appear on the same results page the probability of a click rises. The increase in click rate will be heavily dependent on the industry and quality of the information displayed.
Have you a preference or are you using both approaches? Please add comment below and tell us about your experience.
This is a challenging question for some business. “It will scare off customers.” “My competitors know too much about my business.” These are the typical sorts of responses I get when I discuss this with my customers. Perhaps you are of a similar mind.
While every business has to make its own decision, there are some compelling reasons to consider this option. Here are some reasons why I think you should seriously consider it ..
Prices are everywhere on the web. Customers are expecting access to this information. Your failure to supply it may remove you entirely from consideration.
Customers interested only in price may waste a lot of your time and theirs before becoming aware of your price structure.
Potential customers often search for phrases that include “cost” and “price”. How do you expect to be found for these types of searches if you don’t include relevant information in your content”
Honesty is a great way to establish trusting relationships with possible customers.
Do you show pricing? What has been your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please add them to the comments.
While David talks about larger businesses, the logic is equally valid for small and medium businesses. The difference for smaller organisations is they may not have a specific budget allocation for marketing. Content creation then appears as a demand on already limited time or requires external resources, which implies unexpected costs.
This produces a significant dilemma, which every business needs to solve for itself. However, the first step is to decide if content creation is worthwhile.
Everyone’s mileage is different but a well documented example of content creation saving a business is how Marcus Sheridan, now blogging under the title The Sales Lion, turned around the fortunes of River Pools and Spas through blogging. These days Marcus uses the knowledge he gained to help other businesses. If you would like some of the background on Marcus search for “swimming pools sales lion” in Google.
Is the traffic to your website currently below the levels of years past? Perhaps it’s a result of the lukewarm economy. Maybe your competitors are attracting an increasing share. What are you prepared to do about it?
Have you been approached for your business to sponsor a sporting club or local not-for profit? You aren’t alone. This often arises when your kids are involved in sport or their school or pre-school has a fund raiser.
The pitch from these organisations often includes an offer to show your logo on their website. While the decision is mostly about support for the community activity and your capacity to budget for it, rather than what you can expect to get back, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t maximise any potential opportunity to connect with potential customers.
Recently I discovered traffic to the website of one my customers, Craig, that came from a local junior sporting team’s website. This was the first visitor from that source this year, so I did a little investigation. My client was sponsoring the club.
On the home page of the club there is a section that rotates through a series of banner ads for their sponsors. The club is trying to do the right thing by their sponsors by displaying a series of images and links on the home page to the websites of their sponsors. I have 2 issues with the way these images are shown:
the rotation speed is too quick. Nominally the cycle time is 6 seconds, but 3 to 5 seconds is more typical
the image Craig supplied a logo had different dimensions to the space allocated on the web page. The logo was stretched to fit the available space, which seriously distorted the image.
With a little care on both sides of this transaction the value to both parties can be improved.
For a business owner, don’t be afraid to showcase your sponsorship on your own website. This gives benefit to the club and will help the search engines identify the communities in which you operate. Definitely an advantage in when location is becoming a serious factor in ranking decisions.
I have 3 customers in 3 very different industries who receive traffic to their websites that have originated from web forums. This traffic did not require any action on their part.
What is a forum?
An Internet forum is a website where conversations take place. Though perhaps a little less popular now than the time before major social media networks, forums still exist and attract a large audience There are any number of forums and most develop into specific interest areas.
Benefits of forums
Forums are a convenient place to ask questions or help out someone who is encountering the problems you have already solved. But for business owners, a forum can provide information about:
what questions potential customers are asking
what myths and misconceptions exist in the product space
These are great sources of ideas for additional content, either as new pages for your website or new questions for a FAQ page.
In addition, forums may be one of the locations where a business’s online reputation is influenced. Any negative references provide an opportunity to solve a problem early and prevent escalation to a serious problem.
Business owners may be the best people to answer some of the questions asked by novices in the forum and create good will in the process. It may not lead to new business but it can provide a solid basis for an online reputation. If you elect to participate in this way, make sure you don’t treat it as an opportunity to market your name and products. All posts should be helpful, positive and accurate. The occasional positive reference to a competitor may do wonders for your credibility.
Find forums in your industry
Web logs (talk to your webmaster) will reveal if you are already getting traffic from forums. This are a great starting point.
Your favourite search engine will help. Try searching for relevant industry keywords and include “forum”.
If all else fails, try talking to your customers. They can be an amazing source of information.
I came across this video courtesy of a tweet that I can no longer locate. I’m a geek and a coder and was easily attracted by the premise - everyone needs to learn coding.
The video shows Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others speaking of their backgrounds in writing code. Somehow the seed is planted that these people owe their fortunes to learning to write code, with the implication that a fortune waits for anyone else who steps up.
Do the stars of the video owe it all to cutting code? Certainly it played a role in their lives, but without luck, good ideas, dedication, colleagues and an entrepreneurial spirit I don’t think code cutting alone would have been sufficient.
Every person alive needs skills and to be exposed to ideas and different ways of thinking. School is a great time and place for that to happen. Learning about computer code can certainly play a role, but so can maths and science and music and history and language and literature. Does anyone really think the only thing Bill and Mark ever learned was writing code? Think again. Zuckerberg didn’t even learn it at school. He’s self taught.
This is a piece of marketing for CodeOrg the organisation that put the video on YouTube. For anyone to like it, pin it or one of the other ways of sharing it under the misguided belief it is a great way to secure the financial future of someone’s kids or is somehow a giant leap for mankind is being gullible. It is spam dressed up as mutton.