SEO: pitfalls for the unwary

I received an email today suggesting that my website SEO could be improved. I'm not the only one to get such an email. Is what they say correct?

Selling via content

An article in today's Financial Times ( "Corporate tales to boost sales" ) describes using content to sell products. Such a technique is not new; it has just never been fully accepted by the companies involved.

Using search to find (or not) what you sell

I'm sure you've been in the same situation. You go to a shop and see something you would like to buy. For whatever reason, you don't buy it at that moment, but when you come home you look up the same item on the store website. The surprise is that you cannot find a product that you saw with your own eyes in that shop just a few hours earlier.

How can this be? Perhaps the shop doesn't make all their products available in their online store. But since the product is on sale, you would think it reasonable to describe it on the website and state it is available in-store.

Print to digital: the case of The Guardian

The Guardian's annual results for the year ending March 2012 make for grim reading. A loss of £48m for the media group [as reported in the FT, Nov 5 2012] indicates that digital revenues are never going to grow fast enough to make up for the print losses. Total digital revenues grew 16 per cent to £45.7m. But this is total revenue, while the larger figure is the annual loss. Is there any way out of this situation?

He wouldn't say that, would he?

Cengage Publishing is one of the major players in digital publishing, with over 30% of their annual revenue coming from electronic sales. In an interview last week, CEO Ron Dunn stated "our objective is to be a digital-first company"
( "Cengage backs textbooks and ebooks", Financial Times, 28 September 2011). Then he continued "I'd never in a hundred years try to learn organic chemistry on a Kindle."

The Trainline - show you trust your customers

A little example of customer support reveals what companies think about their customers. In the case of The Trainline, their website and customer support suggests a pretty low opinion. They don't reveal charges until the end of the e-commerce process, and their customer support is uncomprehending. Any online e-commerce site is based on a relationship of trust with the customer, and while it is easy to design a site with hidden charges, the breach of trust that can result is difficult to repair.

Apple: an object lesson in exploiting a market for content

Apple has announced ( "Apple demands 30% slice of subscriptions sold via apps", FT 16 February 2011) any subscription-based content available for the iPad must also be sold via the Apple App Store. This means Apple will earn 30% commission from all sales via the App Store.

How much is a website user worth?

News of The Huffington Post’s sale to AOL for $315m was interesting for the details it revealed of The Post’s advertising revenue. The Financial Times revealed that HuffPost (let’s be nice to it and call it by its cuddly friendly name) has some 25 million unique users per month, and has a total advertising revenue last year of $30m. Assuming those monthly unique users are the regular visitors to the site, my arithmetic tells me that each unique user is worth $1.20 per year.

How free is Ordnance Survey data?

Many people will be aware of the launch of "OS OpenData" in April 2010. However, this does not mean that all the Ordnance Survey data is now available free of charge.

Only selected datasets were released at that time. The most popular map series for print publication (the 1:25,000 scale maps) were not included, nor were postcode sector boundaries. The result is therefore a compromise - not quite all that The Guardian had campaigned for (in its "Free Our Data" campaign).

Comparing online and print circulation - the real figures

The magazine HR Future was recently praised for achieving an online circulation six times higher than its print sales ( What's New in Publishing, 2 Sept 2010). This is certainly an impressive achievement, but is it unique?