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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - November 2008

Welcome to the new issue of our monthly online and search engine marketing newsletter.

This month we look at the ways to optimise video content for search and how this increasingly popular online medium can be used to generate website traffic and new business leads. We also consider the 'bounce rate' metric available within Google Analytics and how this can be used to improve the marketing performance of a website. Finally this month we review the recent data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on the use of the Internet and websites by businesses in Australia.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered.

On to this month's edition...

Optimising videos for search

As bandwidth limitations are becoming less restrictive, online video is increasingly becoming more popular, leading to a rapidly growing use of user-generated content sites such as YouTube. Google is also now including videos within their 'universal' search results, so that optimisation of videos to achieve high rankings and site visits is now vital. So how can your business take advantage of this potential new advertising channel?

SEO techniques for videos can help to ensure that a company's video content attracts as much search traffic as possible, either from within sites like YouTube or as part of a general search that can drive traffic to a website or video. Of course, a business needs a compelling reason to produce and submit a video, such as for a product demonstration, a training guide or a graphic example of what the company can achieve, but this can increasingly be used as a good method of attracting web traffic and new enquiries.

The optimisation of video content can depend on the type of objectives required such as using a 'Monetised Video', such as those used by professional video content publishers to directly generate revenue from a site, where the video itself needs to be protected and stored solely on your own site, or a Promotional Video, which is commonly used as a method of stimulating interest in a product or service and which can be placed in as many online locations as possible.

It is necessary to optimise for both first generation video search engines (older & similar to standard web search engines that rely entirely on metadata for indexing, such as AltaVista & Ask) and second generation ones (which not only spider textual metadata, but also extract meaning from the video itself, such as Blinx and Podzinger). Therefore there are 3 different scenarios for video optimisation which need to cater for video search engines that crawl your site; for video sites that accept RSS or MRSS (Media RSS) feeds; or for video upload sites (such as YouTube).

Some of the main factors that should be considered for all these forms of video search optimisation are as follows:

In addition to these basic principles, the video should be submitted to the appropriate video hosting sites, directories and search engines Google now offers a video sitemap option within their Webmaster Tools. In addition, the file should be provided in as many formats as possible to extend access. It is also recommended to offer a textual transcript of the audio and video content as well as publicising these multimedia files with appropriate RSS/MRSS feeds.

If you already have business videos available or want to consider using this medium to attract search traffic, please contact us now to find out more.


'Bounce rate' explained

The use of statistical information by companies to review how their websites are being found and used is now increasingly important to help understand where usability and marketing improvements can be made. The position of Google Analytics in this sector is now very strong as a free, high quality data source. This newsletter will be covering different aspects of using Google Analytics in forthcoming issues and this month we look at 'bounce rate'.

The bounce rate figure shown within Google Analytics is one of the most useful indicators within a website's activity data and is a figure that's not included in some other analytics products. Bounce rate is described by Google as 'the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page'.

The figure is shown as part of many of the default data tables within Analytics, such as referral traffic by website or keyword, and by page use within the site. Shown as a percentage figure, bounce rate essentially measures visit quality - a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren't relevant to your visitors, whereas a low rate means that visitors have progressed further into the site to find information or to take an action.

Of course, as with much of the Analytics results, you need to infer from the data what might be happening once a visitor enter the site. For example, your web page may give visitors exactly what they are looking for (such as a dictionary or other reference site) and so they leave straight away, which will show a high bounce rate. However, all websites ideally need to develop 'stickiness' that will retain visitors so that they follow links and use more of the site.

From a marketing perspective, high bounce rates can indicate that the site is attracting the 'wrong' type of visitors, or that the landing page is not compelling enough to retain visitors and to convert them into enquiries or sales. If you are running PPC advertising or other online marketing campaigns, a high bounce rate can indicate issues with the keyword targeting and the quality of the landing page, so that changes should be made to the search terms or the content of the page to try to reduce this bounce rate percentage.

If you'd like to know more about Google Analytics and how bounce rates can be used to improve your site conversion, please contact us for further information.


Business Internet activity in Australia

As the use of the Internet as a business tool continues to develop and, in particular, websites as a marketing channel more and more companies are realizing the opportunities available to them. This newsletter regularly reports on the growth of Internet advertising reported by the IAB, but recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides a broader view of how the national market is performing in this area.

The most recent figures published by the Bureau are for data collected in 2006-07. At the top level, Internet access during the year ended 30 June 2007 was reported by 86% of all businesses, while 34% of all businesses reported having a web presence at the end of the period (this includes either a website, home page or presence on another entity's website).

This last figure looks surprising but there is clearly an association between the size of a business and the likelihood that the business is using IT or a website as a marketing tool. For example, almost all businesses with 200 or more persons employed accessed the Internet, while 95% had a web presence. Of those businesses with less than 5 people employed, 84% accessed the Internet and only 24% had a web presence).

Broadband use was shown as widespread with 90% of businesses using this to access the Internet during the period and this figure was not so closely dependent on company size. There will still be issues around the quality of broadband provision, especially outside the main centres, and as has been seen in other countries, the extent and cost of broadband remains one of the main triggers that can boost the Internet economy.

The other main area covered by the statistics was the use of the Internet for commerce. Here, the data showed that 40% of all businesses placed orders via the Internet or web during 2006-07 was 40%, with larger companies again being more active. The proportion of all businesses reporting receipt of orders via the Internet or web during the same period was 24% (this figure excludes transactions where the commitment to purchase is not made via the Internet or web).

More details on these statistics can be found here. Overall there still appears to be a large potential for growth in this market, particularly for businesses to use the web as a marketing tool, either locally, interstate or internationally. As the economic outlook becomes increasingly pessimistic at the moment, online marketing should be considered as one of the most cost-effective methods of generating new business and entry costs remain low in most business sectors.

If you'd like to know more about these statistics and how your business could be taking more advantage of the online economy, please contact us now for a discussion.


Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular web marketing blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:


We hope you've found this month's issue useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.