QR codes it seems are a new technology, it may surprise you then to learn that they were invented 8 years ago by a company called Denso Wave in Japan which is a subsidiary of Toyota. It’s perhaps common knowledge that Toyota have been at the forefront of lean production since the early 1970s and QR codes or quick response codes were invented to track components as they travelled through the Toyota production plants. Luckily Denso Wave haven’t upheld the patent rights and so QR codes are licence free. So that’s the history lesson over with, lets have a look at what use QR codes are to your business.
From an SEO point of view the only benefit that a QR code will give is that if you put one on your website it will be classed as new content and we all know that the search engines like new content. As I write however Google isn’t reading QR codes so you’ll still need to attach alt tags etc for google to know what the image is about. There is little point therefore of including a QR code on your website for SEO purposes just yet. So what possible use is a QR code to your business?
In Japan and the USA QR codes have been used over the past few years by quite a lot of the big players. In the UK they have seen a rise in popularity too especially since the introduction of smart phones. Most smart phones can now download a free QR reader. This uses the lens of the phones camera to quickly scan (less than a second) the image and read it’s content. So what content can be put into a QR code? Anything you like really, Text, a website URL, contact details, offer codes etc.
With this in mind its easy to see how you can then use QR codes to drive traffic to your website. A quick search on Google for “QR code generator” will give you a list of sites where you can generate your own QR code for free in less than a minute. You can then do what you like with this image, For instance, if you still use newspaper advertising then include the QR code on the advert. It could contain a special offer or just a link to your website or anything you like! Scan the image at the top of this page. I won’t tell you what it is but I’m sure you’ll find a way of letting me know if you do
Another great idea is to get some small stickers made, maybe an inch square in size. Given that most young people have smart phones then if your business is aimed at younger people, for instance you own a fashion boutique or coffee bar etc then you could stick these on bus stops, train stations, outside colleges etc. Young people will scan them purely out of curiosity and you’ll get your message or website link across. Simple eh?
I have to admit the motive for writing this post was that I’d received an email from a client. She runs a beauty treatment and therapy salon in St Helens, She was asking about QR codes and something she asked got me thinking. She mentioned putting one on her website, on her car and in her salon window. Initially I discounted the idea and went on to explain pretty much the same information as you’ve just read. It was only today however that I started to think about other uses for QR codes. I did a bit of research and it turns out that there is no physical size limit for the image. So in theory you could cover the Big Ben with a QR code and as long as you were stood far enough back your phone would scan it. It’s general consensus that you will need to use a 10:1 ratio so a QR code at around 1 inch square could be scanned at a distance of up to 10 inches away. So if you were to put a banner sign for instance out side of your premises then assuming a scan distance of 30ft you’d need to make the image 3ft square.
So as usual, I do most of my thinking in the shower and this is what I came up with this morning. Some of the ideas you’ll find aim at certain demographic markets. Bear in mind it’s curiosity that will make people scan the QR code so don’t take that away by putting your company name or anything under it. Use the code to promote your website, an offer, your facebook page, Google+ page etc.
The list is endless, I only showered for ten minutes else I’d have given you a longer list!
With a bit of thought you can take advantage of the fact that most people are curious, The picture on the left fails I think, they would have been much better to leave the URL out at the bottom, They’d have got far more scans.
Hopefully I’ve given you an insight into QR codes and how they work. I know its strictly not web design or SEO related but QR codes can be used to effectively drive traffic to your website.
This article was written by Gwiz
SEO Geek, Web Designer and Online Marketing Advisor. Steve works with businesses of all sizes across the UK and blogs about small business, marketing, web design and SEO at http://stevegrady.org