Your online presence is key for Manchester

Article date: Thu, 08 Jun 2006 15:48 GMT

Lawrence gives 3 rules for success onlineOn Wednesday night Lawrence Jones, Managing Director of Internet service provider UKFast told Manchester's top marketers that they can't expect to compete in a businesses environment without investing more seriously in their online infrastructures. Jones was talking at the Optimise Your Online Presence seminar, in conjunction with Manchester Digital at Cube in the centre of Manchester. The event is part of UKFast's campaign to improve the fortunes of Manchester based businesses and rival London as the nations Internet capital. “We host thousands of serious businesses across the UK and they all have one thing in common,” explained Jones. “They understand that the speed and resilience of their website is crucial for their business. It's because of this, that many of our clients sit amongst the top 2% of Internet profiteers in this country, making 75% of the online revenue.” In his talk, Jones cited the ancient Parable of the Sower to illustrate the importance of a fertile grounding. “If you plant your seed on stony ground then, quite simply, it will not grow. Your website is your seed and you must place it in an environment that allows it to flourish." He uses online business as an example. “When we discovered they were taking £1m a year from one site, we immediately looked at the graphs and realised that their potential was far greater. By investing £300 more per month into the infrastructure, the business is now reaping the rewards. One simple change has resulted in a boost in revenue of £73,000 per year."
Clare Johnson of Adoofa
Clare Johnson, Managing Director of digital marketing company Adoofa gave the audience of marketing professionals an insight into avoiding the 'dark arts' when dabbling with search engine optimisation. The key message was to work with the search engines and manage your website wisely by including relevant metatags, labelling your images correctly, using well written copy etc. Heather Hopkins of Hitwise was able to provide the audience with a series of popularity statistics that clearly indicated some online marketing strategies that worked and others that didn't.
Heather Hopkins of Hitwise
Very informative was her discussion on keywords and the distinction between brand search terms, generic search terms and 'tail terms.' Tail terms are more specific searches that intend to find for instance a 'Canon PowerShot S2 IS' rather than a 'digital camera.' The emerging use of this search trend prompts marketers to think about the keywords they choose and the importance of providing exact and relevant matches to consumers' searches.
Peter Cobley of Yahoo
Peter Cobley, regional account director of Yahoo Search Marketing, was the final speaker. He gave an insight into the new Yahoo system for Pay Per Click as well as plenty of information about how search has evolved to become the most important area of Internet Marketing. Despite his obvious bias for Yahoo, he told the audience that they should use all the engines, especially Google to find a balance for their online spend that brought them the best return on investment. Peter spoke in particular about the importance of well written and relevant copy on your websites. After the sessions there was a lively Q+A discussion, in which the panel went in depth on the subject of ethics in online marketing. Lawrence Jones supported the view that the only way you can truly find out what the search engines respond to is to test them on what is acceptable and to try things out in a testing environment. Clare Johnson of Adoofa was more cautious and felt that people should abide closely to the rules that Yahoo and Google specify.
Lawrence Jones answers audience questions
Peter Cobley added a search engine perspective by commenting that the engines are still evolving their methods and certain approaches would become more prevalent in time and others would be unacceptable. All agreed that the workings of the search engine algorithms were not understandable and experimentation is the only way to find out what is right for each individual business.
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