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SEO for Indian website: What is it going to take?

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With paid advertising getting more expensive by the day, SEO is a critical part of any digital media plan. Not many businesses in India are doing a good job at SEO, which leaves an opportunity for young businesses to capitalise on the growing digital market. So, where does one start? Below are the key aspects of SEO of executing an SEO plan.

SEO in Chennai

1. Pre-work to SEO: The first step is to analyse competition and where one stands relative to them. Importantly, one needs to finalise the target keywords by combining data on (a) focus areas for the business and (b) intensity of competition for those keywords. Google Adwords Keyword Tool it the best way to research relevant keywords. It’s a good practise to place some paid ads to test the effectiveness of the keywords. Tools like SEOMOZ are also useful in assessing competition and their strategy.

2: On-page SEO: Once the keywords are finalised, the website needs to be made as informative as possible for the consumer and for search engines. For the search engine, the critical factors are

  • Appropriate Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Internal Links and site structure
  • Valid Sitemap
  • Error free website (no 404 errors)

Search engines value what consumers value – which is, relevant and original content. Professional reviews or reviews from consumers, blogs, articles, case studies will add significant value to a website.

3. Off-page SEO: Given the intense competition, on page SEO is usually not enough to start ranking high. Especially in India, some sectors, such as ecommerce, have seen a lot of off page link building. A link is considered a “vote” by google, about a websites popularity. While it’s easy to go for “paid links”, the path is very tricky and businesses deploying such strategies have been severely penalised by google in the past. Building links from high quality sources (relevant blogs, mass media, consumer blogs and social media) is a much more viable and long term strategy. Finally, For local businesses, it critical to rank high on Google Places. More about that in a future column.

No discussion on SEO is complete without understanding how search engines rank websites. The key factors they look at are:

  • Relevance: How relevant is your page to the search query? Are the search terms part of your page title and page content?
  • Popularity: Have you got links from other websites for the content related to the search term? What’s the ranking of such sites?
  • Recency: How recently was your content posted? Is it old material which needs to be refreshed or is it up-to-date relevant material?

SEO continues to be a excellent customer acquisition channel and any business investing in it will see returns in 3-6 months, depending on the competition in the category.

Designing effective online ads with images

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Design effective online ads through clear images


It is getting increasingly expensive to advertise online in India, across sectors, including ecommerce, healthcare, education and entertainment. Prices have gone up for PPC and PPM across Google, Facebook and channels such as retargeting. It has become imperative now to optimise the ads to increase effectiveness and make the most of our marketing budget. How do we do that? Simple. Images decide over 80% of the ads effectiveness. Below are 6 of the best ways to improve the effectiveness of your online ads through images:


1. Keep the image simple and clean: Focus on one aspect in the image, which is obvious even when the image size is very small. Acknowledge that the customer is not on a particular page to view your advertisement. Your image needs to be clear to stand out and attract a click.


2.  Communicate the USP of your brand: Pick your image based on the USP of your business. Are you showcasing the most desired brands or are you showcasing your unique products or services? Ensure that the image you pick showcases this USP. If you retail a brand people love, ensure that it’s prominently called out in the Image. If it’s unique products that you represent, ensure that the image clearly establishes that in the users mind.


3. Show images with a model: Your product may be great, but for the customer, she is looking at how it fits into her life. Bring it alive for her by showcasing your product on or with a model wherever possible. Images with models have a significantly higher click through rate.


4. Call out a sale or deal: We Indians love to bargain and in the online world, that’s substituted with a deal. Highlight the best deal you are running, with a % off sign.


5. Stand apart from the interface: Any communication needs to breakthrough through the clutter. Ensure that your image and copy stand out from the rest of the ads and the environment where it’s being showed. For example, if you are advertising on Facebook, ensure that the image does not have a white background as it will blend into the Facebook interface.


6. Test, Test, Test: Finally, there is no easy answer to optimising your advertisement. Test different type of images and copies on different target segments and track which ones give you the highest conversion rates for clicks and transactions.


Why your website is not delivering results?

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An interesting article written on this subject highlights why many small and medium businesses have not been able to leverage their websites and online presence.

The first and most important thing is that the websites are not responsive or compatible across platforms (PC, tablet, smartphones, mobile etc). Consumers are increasingly browsing the internet on the go even in India. This means the websites should be accessible and viewable on any device.

The second finding from the study is even more revealing. Almost 80% of businesses do not feature their social media properties on their website. Social virality starts only when there is a critical mass in social media. Only if website users and traffic from the website is targeted towards social media, the critical mass can be reached.

The study also shows that not all websites call out the email address, phone number or contact form (if necessary for the business)  clearly on the homepage or header/footer. Print and TV advertising have already shown us that a strong call for action is required and the same is true for the web as well.

Finally, websites seem to be lacking Search Engine Optimisation. Most websites have over 35-40% traffic coming from search engines and now increasingly from social media, emails and affiliate marketing. This means search engines and Google in particular should be the first place to start for building traffic to the website. Its not just off page SEO that is missing, but basic onpage SEO that is lacking in many websites.

So when are you going to move to a a search engine optimised responsive website with a clear call to action?

US digital marketing spend averages 2.5% of revenue

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Gartner has recently reported that across USA, companies spend 10.4% of their revenue in marketing of which 2.5% of revenue (or almost 25% of their entire marketing spend) on an average is spent on their digital marketing efforts. The more interesting finding of this survey is that this number is expected to rice to 9% this year. The survey was done with over 250 marketing executives from across 6 industries in USA towards end of 2012. The complete findings of the Gartner’s US digital marketing spending report can be found on their website.

The largest chunk of digital marketing spend went to digital advertising, possibly with Google Adwords leading on this spend.  Such increased spends are increasingly being seen even in India. However this also means that ROI on digital marketing needs to be more specific and tangible than ever before. The digital marketing spends and efforts need to be measured with sales growth, brand recall and actual market penetration.

Gartner also reported an increase in spends on content management and content driving marketing. So while digital advertising pushes customers to the brand, content marketing actually pulls customers and creates a community where brands can interact and excite customers.

Should E-Commerce in India position itself for women?

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In a recent article on this subject, Damodar Mall (Currently Director, food strategy at the Future Group) said to Forbes India that “Ecommerce is a new game for everyone. People will have to try different things. In the grocery space, I would like to say that most of e-commerce is imagined by men and designed by men. As long as you do that, I believe you cannot crack most categories except for a few like gadgets. Till you design it for women customers and till the woman customer bites into it, they won’t succeed. It has to be e-commerce later and shopping first. Right now, it is for men and by men”

In our view, women love shopping (in India or otherwise). The question is how do you create the WOW experience online. She loves window shopping, trying out clothes and looking at new designs, colours etc. So how do you create this intimate shopping experience. Moreover, its a social activity. So how do you create an interface which tries to replicate the experience online. Ofcourse for a category like grocery, Damodar Mall might have a different take but for lifestyle products creating a social shopping experience is essential.

Read the entire Forbes article here.

Brands make the best use of IPL cricket connect

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This IPL dozens of brands are making the best IPL and the connect with cricket on social media. Rajasthan Royals recently teamed up with Operation Smile India, which provides free surgery to repair cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities in children.

The company decided to use the power of social media to drive social change. Through a campaign developed by Ogilvy India, consumers are exhorted to express support for the cause by tweeting. The goal is to reach one million tweets by April 30. Though the company is in talks to bring corporates on board to help with funds, and is engaging with telecom majors to monetise the tweets, its first priority is the mass awareness of cleft deformity and available medical solutions. Besides Twitter and Facebook, YouTube and other platforms are in use.

Corporates are adding cricketers to the social media mix. Virender Sehwag wearing corrective prescription glasses attracted immense attention late February in Bangalore, during the Australia tour of India. Godrej Consumer Products used social media for its Cinthol brand.

The best case study is probably that of hashtag (#InViratsHead) which invited Indian cricket fans to answer what was going on in Virat’s head. Within three hours and without any media spends, the hashtag was trending worldwide. In just one day, the campaign generated 7,000 tweets and had 400+ followers in a five-hour time frame. The current reach: over 730,000. The campaign has reinstated the power of social media.

You can read the full article by Business Line here.

India is the fastest growing SME market for Google AdWords

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Search Engine Optimisation SEO Search Engine Optimisation SEO

Google recently reported that India is its fastest growing market in the small and medium business category for Google Adwords.

Small and medium size enterprises (SME) in India are increasingly using the digital medium to target local customers and generate more leads or sales. Google’s advertising platform, AdWords can be crucial in targeting advertisements at prospective customers searching for a product/service. When targetting a specific customer in a specific locality or to a customer searching for a specific product there is no better means to taget than Adwords. Facebook advertising may be a way to build the brand from a long term perspective but Google Adwords is excellent for short term sale and conversions.

Knowing the number of SMEs in India (which Google puts at 47 million) its no wonder that India has surged ahead to become the fastest growing SME market for Google. So have you tried it for your business yet?

Tips for managing Social Media in Small Business

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Forbes recently had an interesting article on 10 Time Management Tips for managing Social Media in Small Business

The tip that we find most interesting is “Focus on one tool at a time”. We also believe that as you start on your social media strategy, it is important to excel in one social media tool initially and then expand into others. Moreover, one social media tool should be at the epicenter of it all. For some businesses Facebook is the epicenter, for some it is youtube or blogs and in some rare cases it is twitter.

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