What online presence really means

As clichéd as it is, it seems like just the other day that Crawford Publications decided to take its first plunge into the vast sea of the world wide web that is the internet. It was something that we had been toying with for a few years, but at the beginning of 2014, we finally leapt off the diving board, and haven’t looked back since.

For us, professionalism, relevance and the age-old concept of ‘content is king’ remains of the upmost importance to our business, and on the internet, this is no different – it’s about making our site and our content valuable to our readers. If the content is relevant to the user, they will consume it. After all, it is what you have come to expect from our publications. You need to know what your readers want to know. You need to know what they will “Google”, thereby placing yourself, and your content, at the top of the search results when they hit the ‘enter’ button on their keyboard or mobile browsing device like a smartphone.

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But it’s not just about search results and being at the top of the rankings. The internet has levelled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys, and our industry is a large playing field. You have one shot at making a good first impression, and getting that person to return to our sites. This is one of the key strategies that have remained top of mind for us right from the beginning. Sleek, professional layout with an uncluttered user experience is what makes browsing our sites such a pleasure for our users and one of the many reasons why we have a high rate of returning visitors.

One thing that has been of crucial importance to us has been the ability to understand our readers, and for this, the array of software we have installed to monitor and evaluate what our users are doing on our sites has been nothing short of fantastic. For instance, we can tell that a user in France, when searching the search phrase ‘metalworking news’, is guaranteed to see the Metalworking News website amongst the top search results across a number of different search engines including Yahoo! and Bing, as well as the most widely used Google, thereby ensuring he or she will likely click through to the Metalworking News Online website. Of course this expands across a number of different search phrases too.

Six months down the line, exploring the numbers reveals some incredibly satisfying and interesting information. Metalworking News Online now has more than 4 500 unique users, averaging around 50 unique readers a day, and more than 10 500 unique pageviews – in other words, the unique visitors to Metalworking News’s website have viewed more than 10 500 pages over the last six months.

While the numbers are slightly different for Castings SA, they too are incredibly satisfying with more than 2 500 unique users, averaging around 30 unique readers a day, and more than 8 000 unique pageviews during the course of the last six months.

The recent addition of the Foundries page, which is a comprehensive collection of companies that supply and service the various aspects of the foundry industry, as well as a list by geographical region, opens us up to innumerable browsers looking for information about suppliers and the like. Browse for specific information pertaining to the relevant heading, based upon your need, or simply narrow things down to the location you’d like to know more about.

The Castings SA website has now had visitors from 96 countries across the globe, including a large percentage from the US, to the more obscure locations such as Moldova – a tiny country sandwiched between the Ukraine and Romania. Metalworking News has equally as pleasing results on this front, with visits from 112 countries – most interestingly, one from the Vatican City (pope’s browse the internet for their latest metalworking news too, it would seem).

It goes without saying that this is highly beneficial for us because we can tell exactly what people are searching for, and how they are ending up reading our content. At the end of the day, this doesn’t just mean a brilliant brand extension for us, but also to our readers, and of course our clients – some of whom are already experiencing the benefits of joining us on this online journey. We have also created a space for ourselves for opportunity and further growth down the line such as our job listing portfolio – somewhere that you can tailor a listing, and find the right person, saving time and unnecessary job advertising costs.

We now even have users from various parts of the world specifically searching for the online versions of our publications (digital and PDF copies) – users that have likely never before read our magazines, but we know that they now want to read our publications. This is incredibly fulfilling for us, because our brands – and your brands – and now reaching markets that were previously unattainable.

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We all know that the internet never sleeps, and essentially, ignoring the power of the internet and this important potential marketing platform is similar to saying: “I don’t need any new business.” Traditional methods of advertising have not changed a great deal, but to use an analogy – a skeuomorph – where we look at the old through the new – a website that speaks in a sophisticated manner crosses time zones and cultures. For us, it’s simple: The internet is crowded, and people don’t like to look very hard to find meaningful content. Research indicates that 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of search results. So, even if we manage to make it into the first page of the search results, 70 percent of those users don’t trust a website with poor design.

Search isn’t everything, and online privacy is all but a thing of the past – for example, do you read all those terms and conditions when you download that latest ‘free’ app for your smartphone? Chances are you’ve allowed the company that manufactures that app access to your phonebook, email addresses, photographs – and even your camera and microphone.

So, a holistic approach is a necessary one. Nowadays, search engine algorithms are based on the quality of content, and matched to a large degree to a user’s internet profile. These ‘bots’ that decide whether our content is qualified to be of use to you also look at website design and layout – that’s why your user experience flows in the way it does when you visit our sites. It’s easy on the eye, and this all benefits us immensely because we know that our content is going to be related to what our users want to know, thereby increasing our chances that our content will appear on those first pages of search results.

Metalworking News is part of the Crawford Publications (www.crawfordpublications.co.za) stable, which includes Castings SA (www.castingssa.co.za), a business-to-business publication dedicated to the metalcasting industry. Crawford Publications brands are distributed to decision makers – owners, management and senior employees that are involved in decision making, buying and manufacturing – working in metal working and metalcasting facilities of all sizes – from small job shops to OEMs and component manufacturers. They provide suppliers, foundries, job shops, service centres and industry related companies a variety of opportunities to advertise.

Full details on the Metalworking News publication and to see how you can reach a wider market via the Metalworking News website can be found on www.metalworkingnews.co.za or contact the publishers directly on TEL: 011 463 0489 or email online@engnews.co.za.

Onward and upward (in the search rankings), as they say.

Damon Crawford is the online editor at Crawford Publications and has an Honours degree in Journalism from the University of Cape Town.