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The importance of link building

The importance of link building

One of the most important SEO tools on the Internet today is Link Building. It is an extremely effective method of getting your site good exposure across the web, by letting people know what your website has to offer. The thing is, to take full advantage of this Internet resource, you have to know what it’s all about and how to do it right to get maximum benefit.

Why is link building so important?

The easy answer is an increase in traffic. The links that you create are doors that lead others to your website and the services you have to offer. The information on your site is your call to action so it’s very important that the links you forge are with sites of similar content, this helps you to target traffic that may be looking for services like yours.

This works on a very simple premise, if you sell dog whistles and you build links with websites in the cake baking sector, it’s unlikely that much of the traffic that comes through will have much interest in what you do.

Improving your search rankings

Links and traffic are taken into account by search engines and the relevance of the incoming links help to boost your rankings. If the visitors coming into your site are being directed to you from sites with related content, then this builds your reputation as a trusted resource on your subject.

Which links are best?

There are two types of links, two way links (also known as reciprocal links) and one way links. Two way links are traditional and are based upon you linking with a site and agreeing to link to each other. This is still valid and of some value, but the better situation is to have one way links coming in to your site with no return link. What this does is show the search engines that others agree with the content you are publishing on your site, once again helping to boost your reputation as an expert in your field and more relevant than your competitors.

Which pages should incoming links go to?

The old fashioned method of link building is to send all the traffic to your homepage. The problem with this is that the content on your homepage won’t be relevant to all your incoming links and leaves visitors with the task of finding the information they came for. They won’t! They’ll just move on! With the use of social media sites, SEO services and a web blog or constantly updated content on your site, you can build incoming links that land directly on the page the visitors want to absorb. Always link to the page that has the most relevance to the site you are linking from, this is rarely your homepage!

Things to remember for a successful linking campaign are:

Be sure that your content is relevant and easy to understand By doing this you can be sure that your readers will appreciate and approve of your offerings, employ the services of a copywriter to get the balance between information and promotion just right. Check your content for spelling and grammatical errors Always proof read your content, this small but often overlooked task helps to remove any signs of non-professionalism and helps to build confidence. You should always have a ‘Privacy Policy’ and ‘About Us’ on your website Remember these are two of the few tools you have to introduce yourself and your business on a more personal level. Make them easy to find so if visitors want to learn more, they can!

Being ranked number 1 is good right?

Being ranked number 1 is good right?

So you have a great looking web site – well, maybe you’re not quite there yet – but you are ready to rock the Internet with your brilliant products or services. All that you need to do now is make sure your site is ranked number 1 on Google.


Well not necessarily…

We are all told that being number 1 on Google is the ticket to riches. You will have even received a marketing email or seen an advert by a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company guaranteeing you top position or your money back.

Be number 1 on Google and:

  • you will be found by customers
  • people in their droves will visit your web site
  • the only way is up for your business.

But the truth is being top of the Google tree offers no guarantees for your business. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people excited that their business web site has made top spot on Google (or they are listed on Page 1) for this, that or the other.

That is not to rubbish their claims. In most cases they are, but that is not the whole story. We had a new client come to us recently in exactly this situation. They had spent a lot of money on their site, had lots of good content and now, with their web site positioned first and second from over 50,000 search results, everything was set up for their business to grow. But they waited, and waited, yet hardly anyone came. So what happened? OK.

I ought to come clean… despite the headline to this blog post, being number 1 on Google can be extremely good for your business, but you need to understand that being number 1 doesn’t guarantee anything. In the case of our client, as is the case with many who are proudly listed on Page 1 of Google yet receive little traffic to their site, the problem was not to do with them being there but the fact that nobody searched on the term for which they were listed top. If that is what is happening to you, then that is why being listed on top for a term that no-one searches on can be bad for your business.

The likelihood is, just like our client, you could be sitting there with days and weeks passing expecting visitors to come to your site, when all the time they are going to your competitor’s web site. So, what’s the answer? The key to your web site being found is to optimise your web pages for the right search terms not just any terms, that is, not just the words and phrases you think people are searching on.

Here are some dos and don’ts for optimising for the right search terms:

  1. Check out the terms your competitors are using but don’t assume they are using the right terms either. You need to do some more research.
  2. Ask some trusted friends what words or phrases they would use to search for your products and services, but don’t feed them with suggestions. Allow them to decide themselves.
  3. Having gathered some suggestions, try them in Google’s free keyword tool. This will give you some useful suggestions based on the words you enter and will also give you an idea of how many searches use those terms per month both nationally and globally.
  4. Don’t optimise a single web page for more than one term, but do optimise for terms that include more than one word. A single term can contain several words that people will be searching for, e.g. ‘luxury hotel breaks’ will be indexed by Google for that term but also for ‘hotel breaks’, ‘luxury hotel’ and ‘luxury breaks’.
  5. If your business operates mainly locally or within a defined geographic region then consider including a city, county, state or country in the term, e.g. ‘luxury hotel breaks uk’.
  6. Once you have decided on your search term, you can then set to work on optimising your web page. There is a lot you can do to refine this, but you must as a minimum do some basic optimisation. Essentially, you need to make sure your search term is represented in the Title metatag of your web page (this is what appears in the caption bar at the top of your browser) as well as the Description metatag (which can be more descriptive).

There will be more on metatags and SEO another time, but for now Happy SEOptimising! But if you are stuck not being sure what to do next, then please visit our SEO Services page to find out more.

Don’t be afraid to give away your knowledge

Don’t be afraid to give away your knowledge

Social media sites, such as Twitter, facebook, etc, have changed the web into a wonderful place where we can meet new people, stay in touch with friends and generally be social with the whole world. Is there more to Social Media? In a word yes! How do you find out about things?

  1. Phone a local specialist
  2. Look in the telephone directory
  3. Type your question into a search engine like Google!

More and more people are turning to the instant knowledge base that is the internet, a place where you can search for anything and almost certainly find the answer. By using social media tools, your business is able to showcase work and give out free yet valuable information about the work you do. By doing this your business can very quickly be seen as the expert in its field, and the place to come for accurate and relevant knowledge.

Why do I want to give out free information?

The keywords here are ‘Relevant’ and ‘Accurate’, search engines love, no they crave relevant and accurate information. There are millions of people out there, searching for answers, and by filling your website or blog with such information, then using your social media links to tell the searching masses where to find it, you are pushing traffic to your site, the search engines will take notice, others will tell people of the golden nuggets to be found on your site and you become the trusted expert.

Who do people call when they need help?

It’s already a given that the best form of advertising is ‘word of mouth’ and by becoming a trusted expert to many people, and backing this up using written, audio or video testimonials you’re increasing your credibility and building confidence in potential clients.

In a world where true knowledge and skill comes at a premium: Can you afford not to give away your knowledge for free?

An Introduction to SEO

An Introduction to SEO

Search Engine Optimisation – SEO

SEO is a complex balance of all the aspects within your website. Think about the different elements that come together to make your website, including the text content, images and titles through to layout, navigation and even the code that gives every page its structure. When everything that makes up a website works in harmony you have a firm foundation that will give the search engines an easy time indexing your site, and therefore you increase your chances of a high ranking.

But SEO doesn’t end there!

SEO comes in many forms which can be simplified in to two areas –

On Site and Off Site optimisation. The on site optimisation involves everything that can be done within your site to increase your search engine rankings. These are usually quite simple things that should be put in place as the site is built, and include elements like a descriptive domain name, page naming, clean code, accessibility and navigation.

Get all this right during the build and you stand a better chance of fulfilling the search engines requirements of having easy to find and relevant content for its users. Off site optimisation is all about exposure through avenues such as social networking sites (twitter, facebook, etc), relevant forums and bringing credibility to your site through content syndication (informational videos, articles, etc).

These techniques are more time consuming and take a greater amount of effort, but when used in tandem with on site optimisation they can really make you stand out from the crowd and should never be overlooked. SEO is a swirling cauldron of ingredients that can deliver you a successful and measurable strategy, but many agencies use underhand methods that can get you pushed to the bottom of the searches, or worse, struck off the list completely.

10 things to always consider when planning SEO in your site:

  1. Include the most relevant keywords in your title tags
  2. Consider professional copy, to ensure original, keyword optimised and informative textual content
  3. Fill in ALL meta, alt and description tags throughout the site
  4. When using a dynamic site, such as a CMS, always try to use search engine friendly page names
  5. Name your navigation links to match the page name and don’t over fill your navigation with unnecessary links. (See Below)
  6. Use a sitemap to give search robots access to pages not in your navigation
  7. Avoid using scripts or flash to build navigation lists, text versions are easier to optimise and for robots to follow
  8. Build reciprocal links with relevant website partners, only link with trusted sites that have a good reputation across the internet.
  9. Always name incoming links correctly and don’t link to your homepage only.
  10. If you turn to an SEO specialist understand that results cannot be guaranteed as it takes careful testing and a variation of techniques to get the results you desire

We’ve just scratched the surface of what is an endless subject. If you get the basics right you stand every chance of attaining the results you desire. Happy SEO!

Meantime, if you are stuck not being sure what to do, visit our SEO Services page to find out more.

Top tips for Successful Email Marketing

5 top tips for running successful email campaigns!

Email campaigns are very similar to direct mailing campaigns via snail mail, with the same principals applying to both. The better the quality of the message, the creative design and the higher the quality of the mailing list the higher the conversion rates are likely to be.

You may have all these elements correct and you send out to your list, sit back and wait for the flood of business. There are numerous other factors involved in running a successful email campaign starting with targeting the right recipients, measuring critical data such as open rates, click through rates and conversions.

Here are 5 top tips for running your own in-house email campaigns:

  1. Your emails should be thought of as a conversation, when writing your copy imagine that you are delivering it in person. Try and remove the remote online element from your message.
  2. Promotional material that works in a brochure doesn’t necessarily work online! Email is quite a personal method of communication, so your message may be more hard hitting but at the same time could come across to the reader as being too pushy. Try to include information that will be useful to your prospects rather than sticking to the hard sell.
  3. Give the “from” and “subject” fields of your message as much thought as the content. Once your email arrives these are parts of your message that will stand out and asked to be opened. Use a pertinent email address not just a name and use the subject line as your headline.
  4. “Call to Action” Think about the objectives of your message and the reaction you want to provoke in the recipient i.e. do you want them to pick up the phone, visit a specific web page or request a brochure. Don’t confuse the reader by offering too many actions.
  5. Consistency is everything in a marketing campaign of any type. You give the marketing department the task of writing your email campaign, and then use the same easy to understand language on subsequent contact, ordering or information pages. No matter how successful your marketing is, if the ordering process is over complicated or at all confusing, there’s a good chance that potential orders will be lost at the final hurdle.

Social Media is Easy right..?

Social Media management is easy right..?

Anyone and everyone does it so yes it’s easy…

You sign up for an account at Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Linked In or any of the many other emerging social media portals and start posting..!


Successful social media campaigns take dedication and awareness…

If your goals for Social Media are to improve your profile and create business opportunities, then the content you produce needs thought and focus if it’s to be productive for your business.

The first job is to clearly define your key objectives for social media by preparing killer branding and content to back up your posts. Have a clear vision of how you want the social media world to think of you. Do you want people to think of you as a provider of high quality, fast turnaround, customer friendly or maybe cutting edge in your field. It’s very important to narrow your branding messages as being all things to all people rarely works.

Why build Social Media connections?

Social media is all about building connections and building connections takes time. Whether in the virtual world or the real world connections are all about trust and providing useful, trustworthy content is the first step. The social media world is constantly changing so be sure to stay abreast of updates to social media functionality such as uploading images, videos and other content, keep an eye out for new portals in your field that can be tapped into and don’t waste time on ones that miss your target audience.

Always measure the results of your work on social media sites. After your social media campaign has been running for a while, determine whether you are making any progress and if so is it meeting your goals.

Be very aware of the numbers… Check the number of people responding to your posts and social media offers, make a note of the number of people who are subscribing to your content and connection lists. Most of all pay particular attention to responses you’re getting to posted content.

Only by doing this will you start to understand what you need to change to improve your online reputation with killer content that really hits the mark…

Working for your customers can be bad for business

Working for your customers can be bad for business

This is an odd one but stick with it…

Customers can be a real pain can’t they?

Our best advice is that you should never work for another customer again.

We never work for any.

It really isn’t a good thing to do and your business would do a lot better if you did the same!

So, that’s a joke – right? Well a little tonge in cheak let’s say…

Working for customers is extremely bad for your business. But before you go off and tell others that Cracking Media are Crack Pots – wait a moment… It is true that customers can be a real pain – we have all had customers like that.

It is also true that you should never work for any customer, BUT we do wholeheartedly recommend that you should work with your customers.

So not for but with!

The difference in the two statements above is a subtle but important one. You will have heard people say of a sales person that he/she could sell snow to the Eskimos. It’s as if we should be impressed at how brilliant the person is at sales. But did anyone ask the Eskimo if he needed any snow?

The fact is, he didn’t! But that’s the same thing that happens when you are so obsessed with the things you can do for a customer – because selling a solution is really the focus of your attention – that you fail to understand the problem your customer needs solving. Many companies have great products or services, but are really poor at listening to their customer.

Rather than taking the time to fully understand the problem their customer needs solving, they impose a solution on them. This often results in the customer spending lots of money and the company they employ solving very little. In fact, in some cases, the solution has solved nothing and ended up costing the customer even more.

They were sold snow but didn’t need any! Finding the right solution for your customer comes about when there is a marriage of expertise. Your customer is an expert at what they do and so will understand their business better than you do. You are of course an expert at what you do – your customer wouldn’t expect anything less – but the key to providing a successful solution for your customer is to work with them not for them.

  • That means listening to your customer – the expert on their business.
  • That means taking time to understand the problems they need solving.
  • That means working with your customer to work out how you can best help them.

It sounds simple, but many businesses fail their customers because they get carried away with finding and imposing a solution without ever really understanding the problem. That doesn’t mean you should be passive in your relationship with your customer. Listening and understanding the problems your customer needs solving is an active role but it is only part of your role.

As an expert in the products or services you provide you must also be an educator. It is your responsibility to give your customer advice and direction whilst remembering that although the customer isn’t always right, they are always the customer. So, if you want to be successful at solving problems for your customers then start working with them.

And if you are a customer looking for a business to solve your problem, make sure you find a business that will listen to you and work with you, not for you.

Graphic Design and Print

Graphic Design Counts

The correct design is an important part of successful communication and user experience (UX). Graphic design implemented through high quality print or website can help you to maximise the power of your marketing collateral, brochures and marketing literature. Our service includes optimisation of existing copy, also content creation and design of new exciting releases… 

Print and Graphic Design

We are honest and uncomplicated when it comes to graphic design. We have years of experience and won’t blind you with jargon, we don’t sell you more than you really need, so whether you are looking for a glossy brochure, office stationary, flyers or website redesign we always aim to give you great value and great quality.

You know how to run your business, and our graphic design can help you to do that by giving you the materials you need to present your business with an air of authority and professionalism.

Contact us today for a no obligation chat…


Understanding Why Your Website isn’t Working

Why Your Website isn’t Working

Posted on August 8, 2012 by Amanda Ferris

Do you want the visitors that flock to your website to be converted into profitable customers?

Are you disappointed in the lack of response you received from website visitors? Is trying to understand ‘Internet Marketing’ and the options available confusing to you?

understanding-internet-marketing-300x158There are some common misconceptions held by website owners. Changing these ideas and using proven solutions will help you improve your Internet strategy and bring in customers more effectively.

1. You have a brilliant website, but nobody knows about it:

It’s simple; you need to drive people toward your website. The only way to do that is to market your website as part of your ‘Internet Marketing’ strategy. Try not to fall in the trap of thinking the design of your website has a link with how many people visit your site, this is a mistake commonly made with Internet Marketing. The quality of the content on the site and how it helps visitors has far more to do with driving traffic to your site than how it looks.

2. Your website is all about you:

 This is possibly the biggest mistake made by website owners. Unfortunately this is not the case, visitors are only interested in what you can do for them. If your website is worded to focus on solving their problems rather than how good your service is, then it will dramatically change the performance of your site. Many websites are written by sales people and don’t give away any useful information to visitors.


If your site is written this way visitors will more likely move on to the next site to find their answers.

3. Getting visits to convert to Enquires/Sales:

You need to think about what you want people to do when they visit your site. Do you need them to buy something from the site or do you focus on getting their contact details, so that you or your sales team can follow up?

A big move in Internet Marketing is the shift from sites that sell products or a business, to sites that want to build ongoing relationships with their customers. This has become known as ‘Permission Marketing’, acquiring a customer’s permission to communicate with them. If you’re using your site to get customers’ contact details, they will need a compelling reason to offer those details. Possibly the best way to do that is to offer something ‘free’ in exchange e.g. a newsletter or free sample of a product, but it needs to have value. Follow that up with a good email campaign and a proportion of those people will convert into customers.

If you are interested in getting sales when potential customers visit your site, then it’s a combination of the written content, images or video that explains and shows the benefits of the product that will possibly guarantee the purchase.

Things to look into:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Being listed in what are called organic search results costs nothing other than the time involved to make sure each page on your website is optimised for search engines. Try to identify what words or phrases people use to search for the products or services you sell and make sure those words/phrases are represented in the pages of your site. If you only market to customers that are local to you then make sure you include the name of your local area when you optimise each page. You can find out more about SEO in our post on Search Engine Optimisation.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Using Google AdWords, you only pay for the visitors that click through to your website making it one of the most cost effective advertising solutions available. Beware though as your ads need to be written clearly and targeted at the correct audience so that costs don’t get out of control.

Video Search

YouTube is now the second most popular search engine in the world and Google also uses video content in its regular search results. Obviously, the only way to be listed in YouTube is by using video, but it is well worth considering as video content is more and more sought after and the cost of producing video has fallen.

Get into the Testing Habit

Don’t forget to test and experiment, find out what works for your website. Always use analytics to measure the results from your different strategies. Google’s own analytics tool is free to use and is being improved all the time. The results may astound you.

Has the “Inspiring a Generation” Games inspired your business?

Has the “Inspiring a Generation” Games inspired your business?

After 17 days during which we have watched 26 sports, over 300 competitions, and over 950 medals awarded the Olympic Games 2012 is over. We have seen some extraordinary drama and witnessed the ecstasy and agony of the world’s sports men and women striving to achieve their dream. It has been truly memorable.

Games Chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe said, “The spirit of these Olympic Games will inspire a generation”. The genuine hope is that it will, but what was it that inspired this generation of Olympians and what can we learn from the stories they have told about their journey to success? For today’s generation of people in business, is there anything the Olympic athletes can teach us so that we can be, as their motto says, faster, higher, stronger?

You need to have a dream

London 2012 saw US swimmer, Michael Phelps, become the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, 18 of which were gold.

The BBC’s swimming presenter, Sharron Davies, asked Phelps, “When you started out your career all those years ago, did you ever see this? Was this what you were dreaming of?”

Phelps’ replied, “I dreamt of being the greatest, and Bob (Bowman, his coach since 11 years old) and I have worked together to become that. We’ve been able to do everything we have ever wanted.

Double gold-winner at 10,000 and 5,000 meters, Mo Farah, said, “When you have a vision and you have a dream, you dig in more.”

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you do well (which should be what you enjoy doing well) and set your sights to be the best that you can. Having and maintaining a clear vision motivates you and those around you who share that vision. Motivation gives you energy and helps you to reach beyond the ordinary.

You need to plan your course

Whilst it’s very important to know where you are heading, how are you going to get there? What can you do to be better at what you do?

The GB cycling team had an incredibly successful Games, winning an amazing 12 medals, 8 of which were gold. David Brailsford, Performance Director for British Cycling told how they work on a system of what they call marginal gains.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together. We really figure out what it takes to win whatever it is we want to win. We then prioritise because you know you cannot win everything.”

Of course it takes talent to be successful, but by improving what you do – even if only marginally on a few things – you improve your chances of being successful.

You need a good team

Whilst it is the athletes that win the prize, no athlete can ever be successful by just their efforts alone. They need people around them to support, guide and encourage them.

Team GB’s, long jump gold medal winner, Greg Rutherford had considered retiring after failing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and repeated injury problems. After winning gold at London 2012 he said, “I think I am very fortunate to have a fantastic team and fantastic family around me.”

So many of Team GB’s winning athletes testified to the difference the crowd made to their performance. Ed Clancy, who won bronze in the Men’s Cycling Omnium event said, “I felt really rubbish until the crowd started cheering, but then it was like a light switch had been turned on.”

Where do you draw your support from? Who guides and challenges you? Who cheers you on when the going gets tough? In business, especially if you are on your own, it’s hard to stay on track and it’s easy to be discouraged, so you need support and you must avoid becoming isolated. Maybe you can join a local learning and support network or find someone you trust who’s been successful in business to guide and encourage you.

You need to believe, work hard and not give up!

The margin between the medals is often be a very small one. It’s been said that often the most disappointed athletes are those that win silver, just missing out on gold, and fourth, missing a medal by just one place.

At 36 years old, Kath Grainger entered the London 2012 Olympics as the most decorated British woman of rowing. But despite winning six world titles, for more than a decade the prize of Olympic gold had eluded her, instead winning a trilogy of silvers.

It would have been easier to retire and look back on a fantastic career, despite never winning gold. However, Kath Grainger, described by Anna Watkin, her partner in the women’s double sculls, as the ‘life and soul’ of the British women rowers , has a self-belief and determination that rowed her and Anna on to gold.

Anna Watkins said, “You don’t get a medal just for believing”. For champion athletes it is that ability to believe and to act on that belief that sets them apart, a determination to persevere and not give up that carries them over the line ahead of their opponents.

When we fail (as all champions do) or negative thoughts or opinions stand in our way, it is how we respond that can make the difference between winning and losing.

For six races in sailing’s Finn class, Team GB’s Ben Ainslie could not beat Dane Jonas Hogh-Christensen. He was trailing in the standings and in danger of missing gold, but Ben was not ready to accept defeat. Ainslie was angered when Hogh-Christensen and Dutchman Pieter-Jan Postma teamed up against him saying he had hit a mark, forcing him to do a penalty turn. “They’ve made a big mistake,” Ainslie said, “They’ve made me angry and you don’t want to make me angry.”

Ainslie could have been defeated by the negative, but instead he used the energy of his anger to turn it into a positive which then became the spur to him winning his fourth Olympic gold.

How do you deal with defeat and demotivating negative thoughts or opinions? Do they take the wind out of your sails causing you to give up or do you look at the clouds and find a shift in the wind that gets you moving forward again?

Have a goal and be extraordinary

The final word goes to Samantha Murray, winner of the silver medal in the last event of the Games, the Modern Pentathlon. Four years ago, Samantha was doing her A Levels and although competing at that time in the event, she was well short of international level.

“Honestly, if you have a goal – if there’s anything you want to achieve in life – don’t let anybody get in your way because you can do it. There are so many people and so many things that will feel like they are trying to set you back. But honestly, find the path that you want to take in life and follow it and stick to it because if I can do it, and I’m a normal girl, anyone can do anything they want to do.”

The “Inspiring a Generation” Games has been inspiring and we have been in awe of the great champions like Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. But most of all, perhaps London 2012 will be remembered as a story of many stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things – not just the stories of the world’s best athletes but also of the people behind the scenes like their families and coaches, and by people like the Games Makers that helped to make the Games such a success.

Has the “Inspiring a Generation” Games inspired you?