Content is still king, but localisation is the trump card

One of my favourite websites recently has been, the holy bible for home renovators and decorators. Having purchased a lovely home in Sydney a couple of years ago (what can only be described as a ‘renovators delight’) I’ve been drawn to Houzz’s deliciously informative and inspirational articles for ideas and motivation. Addicted you might say.

There aren’t many websites out there that do content better than Houzz. Every day there are new and interesting articles and features, coupled with vivid photography and commentary on associated product placement. The gallery contains over 3.5 million images, and all the site content is brilliantly classified and tagged to provide one of the best search experiences out there. Topping it off, the site is backed by a solid community of DIY enthusiasts, building and design professionals and bloggers who provide a constant feed of news, projects and ideas for users to explore, engage in and fantasise over. It really is property porn at its best.

However Houzz was let down in one regard; as a global website you would often find yourself salivating over an amazing design feature, only to discover that it was the work of a US based manufacturer. Or being drawn to a wonderful pendant light or piece of furniture, but the retailer doesn’t ship internationally. You’ve been out on a date, finished dinner and were happy to pay the bill, only to be left outside on the porch at the end of the night!

You’ve been out on a date, finished dinner and were happy to pay the bill, only to be left outside on the porch at the end of the night!

Houzz wasn't the first website to cause me grief in this regard, nor will it be the last. Pinterest is another great example of torment, where you're 100% sold on wanting THAT amazing wedding dress (for the ladies), only to find that the designer is based in Europe. Etsy follows suite... and then there is my personal favourite - This Is Why I'm Broke - where I've compiled a favourite list full of great Christmas present ideas, only to find that half of the products simply aren't available in Australia, nor can they be shipped here, AND all the prices are shown in USD. Instant disappointment and utterly gutting that I can't own that awesome Aquarium Bed.

So I was delighted this weekend past to receive an email from Houzz spruiking their new localised version of the site. Still all the same wonderful content from all over the world, but now with a dedicated local team and a domain. And immediately, I was impressed. I spent nearly an hour clicking through all the new Aussie content, learning about the best paint colours to use under the Australian sun, reading articles about uniquely Australian design issues and being educated on the history of housing in this country. Designer pendant lights and trendy bathroom tiles are all available from a distributor at the local homemaker centre, or can be shipped in no time. Projects that are being showcased were happening just down the road or in the next suburb, not on the other side of the world. For a nice change, I found an article that was talking up the best vegetables to plant during spring, that wasn’t being forced upon me on the cusp of a bleak winter. Fantastic!


It’s a small world after all

Globalisation has taken off with the invent of modern technology, and the Internet has lowered the price of entry for a whole slew of international businesses eager to expand into new markets and territories. We’re seeing thousands of websites do this well… eBay, ASOS, Apple. And of course, some not so well... When you’re into eCommerce it’s a pretty standard formula to get it right. Offer competitive pricing, free international shipping and when it comes to localisation, make sure that you pay attention to the small details. A familiar phone number, pricing displayed in the local currency, payment methods that consumers understand, dates/times and customer service hours in the relevant time zone, and of course ensure you are talking in a language that people understand!

Of course, Houzz isn’t selling products like the examples above (at least, not yet). But what impressed me about Houzz was, there was a website I was already a fan of, going that extra mile (or should it be kilometre?) to ensure that my experience was even better. They recognised – through fantastic analytics, tracking and research – that Australians represented the fifth highest nationality in terms of traffic to their international domain – over 700,00 users per month. Going out and localising content and registering the ‘’  to enrich the down-under experience was a genius move, and the co-founder Adi Tatarko has been on a tour of duty in Australia just this past week spruiking the new site with great fanfare.

The .au domain can only be a winning move in terms of boosting SEO rankings. Google will love the new localised content and anyone using will be presented with content that Google knows is relevant to Australia, over any international content.


Big Brother is Marketing (!?)

I was involved in a client workshop the other day where the aim was to bring together a number of ancillary travel services to form a single product. Travel money cards, insurance, sim cards, itineraries.. all under a single brand and managed via a one-stop-shop web portal. A great idea, and listening to the marketing guru go on about their ambitions and requirements was quite an eye opening experience.

The big business requirement that was driving the new product was a desire to know more about their customers and to be able to track and consequentially market to them after they had walked out of the store – something which they basically had no ability to do at present. Being in the travel industry, once the customer was on holidays, they were simply unreachable.

What the client did have however, was the ability to track any customer who had purchased their travel sim product. With relative ease the staff could load a web interface (integrating Google Maps) and see in real time the exact location of any travel sim that was connected to a GSM phone network. This is where things started to get exciting, and just a little bit scary. If we could find a way to ensure one of these new cards ended up in the hands of every customer – especially those travelling internationally – we would not only have legally verified who they are (upfront ID check) but be able to associate real names to all those thousands of pins (sim cards) moving about on the map. We could then target content to them that was relevant to their demographic, budget, purchasing trends, location and destination.

Imagine how powerful it would be to zoom in on a map of New York City, where hundreds of your customers are on holidays. Clicking on any one of these individuals would reveal a whole host of information, such as which ancillary products they have purchased from you, which ones they might need based on their travel itinerary, and even tell you how much money they have on their pre-paid currency card. “Low on US dollars? Top up your card in the next 48 hours and we’ll give you 20% discount on entry to the Empire State Building…” How about an email or SMS with a deal for a local restaurant that you’ve just literally walked past? Provided you pay with the right card of course!

This form of content delivery is going to take off, and whilst I’m sure it will have privacy advocates in a spin, it is an exciting future. Let’s face it, people are going to be confronted with advertising everywhere they go for the rest of their lives. At the very least this makes it more relevant to the individual, and empowers businesses to spend their marketing budgets more wisely.


It’s all in the timing.

One final thought, is that it’s worth noting the way Google can reward sites through consistency of new content, which is something that is not given a great deal of attention in comparison to the focus we all put on quality. Nobody likes a stale website less than Google and if your content has been sitting there, even for as little as a few weeks, without having been refreshed or added to, then you’re probably in a ranking landslide.

It’s debatable how often you should be adding new content to your site but it’s generally agreed by experts that somewhere between a couple of times a day is optimum, or at the very least once per week. It all depends on the type of website you’re operating of course. A news site or a blog should receive regular new postings (just ask Rob, he’s always on our back to publish to the Wiliam Blog, and for very good reason!). Static content on a brochure-ware site of course, less so.

Don’t let your site go untended for months and then suddenly upload 100 articles in one day.

Interestingly, it’s been found that publishing on a regular basis is much more beneficial to SEO than people appreciate. Don’t let your site go untended for months and then suddenly upload 100 articles in one day. That’s not going to help anywhere near as much as if that content was spread out and posted over regular intervals.

So, there you have it. For a long time we’ve known that ‘content is king’. But it’s not the royal flush until you have localisation, relevancy, timeliness and demographic knowledge… then you’ll start seeing your loyal customers returning over and over again.