5 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing

This was posted on July 27th, 2015

improve-online-marketing

 

Online marketing is the biggest generator of business for the vast majority of sectors. Most people these days go straight to Google or another online resource to find a product or service. Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages, so what can you do to boost your chances of generating new business through the web? Here are 5 ways in which you can improve your online marketing efforts.

1. Social Media Marketing

With more than 2 billion people using social media around the world, this is one of the biggest arenas in which you can advertise your business. Facebook alone has nearly 1.4 billion users and advertising revenues have risen enormously on the site, with mobile advertising being a particularly heavily growing sector.

2. Backlinks

Ever since Google first launched, backlinks have been at the core of its algorithm. This is still the case — and arguably even more so since recent algorithm updates — but in a slightly different way to the past. Quality links (as opposed to quantity) are vital, as well as guest blogging efforts, diverse anchor text and tying in your linkbuilding with social media efforts. Keeping it natural and steady is always the best way.

3. Response, Mobile-Ready Design

Responsive design is vital in the modern marketplace. A staggering 1.9 billion searches will be carried out on smartphones in 2015, which means it will overtake desktop PC and laptop searches for the first time. In fact, 4 out of 5 consumers currently shop regularly on their smartphones, so mobile responsiveness is absolutely vital if you’re going to take advantage of the way the online world is changing.

Most people won’t buy from a site which doesn’t respond and adapt to mobile usage — that’s a fact and stat which becomes more and more prevalent all the time, with mobile users wanting a faster, more streamlined experience. Mobile ready websites convert much better than other sites, too, meaning the result will be a huge increase in business. It’ll also help boost your SEO, with Google loving mobile-ready sites.

4. Marketing Your Content

The web is all about content. You need to ensure your website contains quality content which can be readily shared. Keeping content regular and enticing will ensure people are more likely to share it and effectively do the job of marketing for you. Content doesn’t just cover text, either, but images, events, video, infographics, reports, eBooks and more.

5. Plan Ahead, Create a Strategy

A lot of people treat their SEO efforts as something they can do every now and again, perhaps building a few links or putting a video on YouTube. The fact is that you need a plan, a strategy, to enable you to structure your online marketing efforts and tracking your success. That way, you’ll know what works for you and can tailor your strategy to ensure that you’re able to build on your success as you move forward and continue to get bigger and bigger gains from online marketing.

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The Google Algorithm and How to Make the Most of It

This was posted on July 20th, 2015

google-algorithm
One of the biggest topics in online business is how to make the most of Google. Google is the starting point for most online browsing, and the potential rewards on offer are enormous if you can harness the power of Google to drive potential customers to your website.

Google’s whole intention is to give users the most relevant answers to their search queries, and becoming that relevant answer is the key to success.

Understanding Google’s algorithm changes is key to understanding the whole ethos behind what they’re doing and what their aims are for users. If you know what Google wants (and that’s ultimately based on what Google users want) then you’re one step ahead of the game in providing that and being able to take advantage of the benefits of increased traffic and business.

Believe it or not, Google updates its algorithms between 500 and 600 times a year — most of them only small tweaks, but still crucial to your online success. The first public announcement of an algorithm update was in September 2002, but Google had been ‘dancing’ for years before that.

The first named algorithm change was Boston, with updates since focusing on prioritising local results, combating link spam and dodgy SEO practices and emphasising fresh and useful content. Here are some of the more recent Google algorithm updates and the ways in which they’ve changed the way search results are displayed.

The Panda update

The Panda update hit in early 2011, and was focused on rewarding sites which provided good-quality content over huge amounts of links and low-quality content. This helped to eliminate spammy websites from the results.

Websites which added nothing to the internet were weeded out and even pages filled with advertising were penalised and saw a significant drop in their rankings.

The Penguin update

This rolled out in early 2012, and focused on relevance of search results. It was intended to penalise websites which violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and quality guides, as well as sites which used dodgy linking practices.

Sites with over-optimised link anchor text were penalised, as were sites linked with gambling, pharmaceuticals and adult sites. Sites found to be buying links were penalised heavily

Penguin has been rolled out incrementally in six versions, with the most recent hitting in late 2014.

The Hummingbird Update

This rolled out in late 2013 and focused on providing quick, precise results which understood the user’s intent in their search. This was a true algorithm change which completely amended the way Google chose its results.

The focus was on semantic or conversational search, enabling Google to work out the end user’s intent and display results which would help them more directly, rather than users having to refine their own searches later on.

The Pigeon Update

Pigeon rolled out in the summer of 2014 and focused largely on local search, with Google then providing more relevant and useful search results based on a local perspective. Geographical locations and distances were all taken into consideration and results were skewed to give greater relevance to local businesses and websites.

All of these Google updates affect the way in which your website ranks when people search for products or services online. Understanding the aims of Google and their reasons for implementing these algorithm updates is key to enabling you to make the most of them and to tailor your website and online marketing strategy to fit.

As has always been the case, trying to game Google never works. Google is always one step ahead and you’ll only ever be one algorithm change away from being kicked out altogether. Keeping on top of the game with quality content, giving users what they really want and ensuring that your website is a great resource on the internet will ensure that you always rank well in Google’s eyes.

If you’d like to make the most of the online marketplace and increase your online visibility and conversions, we can help you. We’re a specialist design company who can create your website to fit around not only current design trends, but also web usability standards and search engine optimisation practices, which will make sure that your website looks great, performs brilliantly and brings you new business.

To speak to us about how we might be able to help you, call us today and we’d be delighted to talk through the options with you.

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Mobile Web Usage — Quick Stats

This was posted on July 13th, 2015

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Mobile web usage is growing all the time, and it’s often difficult to comprehend its importance. Here are some quick stats on mobile web and how it could affect your website.
  • 47% of mobile web users explore other companies if they can’t call you directly from your mobile website at the touch of a button.
  • 35% of the above feel ‘disappointed’ in your company. 47% feel ‘frustrated’ or ‘annoyed’.
  • 61% of customers want to speak to you on the phone before they buy.
  • 65% of customers who start browsing your site on their phone browse again on their desktop or laptop computer afterwards.
  • Putting the call to action above the fold on mobile sites can improve call conversion rates by 200%.
  • Making your phone number clickable on smartphones will increase call conversion rates hugely.

It’s tempting for us to think that people want to browse online purely to avoid speaking to people and want to browse in private. The truth is far from that.

The stats above show the importance of linking your website to your phone lines. Why’s that? Because smartphone browsers are already on their phones. Someone browsing on a desktop computer has to go and get their phone, key in your number and call you. On a smartphone, they just need to tap the clickable link to your phone number and it’ll automatically call you.

Yet again, it’s ease of use and taking out the intermediate steps which boosts conversion rates and brings you new business. People want a simple life. They want what they want and they want it now. If you make life easier from them, it’s ultimately you who will profit.

If your site doesn’t have a mobile optimised version, you’re likely to be missing out on an enormous amount of potential business. If you’d like to see what we could do to boost your conversion rates and help your business profit from the mobile internet, contact us today.

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10 Surefire Ways to Put Web Visitors Off

This was posted on July 6th, 2015

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If you’re using your website as the online shopfront for your business, the last thing you want to be doing is putting people off. It’s the equivalent of your high-street shopfront having a smashed window, cobwebs all over it and letters missing from your name sign. It’s not a good look and people are likely to go to your much smarter competitor next door.

Keeping users on a website might sound fairly easy and straightforward, especially using the analogy above, but the online world is very, very different from the offline one — particularly when it comes to attention spans and what people find appealing and off-putting. That’s why so many website owners get it so, so wrong.

Here are 10 surefire ways to make sure your potential customers disappear as quickly as possible and head straight for your competitor’s website:

1. An outdated design
Just because you think it looks great, that doesn’t mean anyone else does. Design trends move incredibly quickly online and having an outdated website design tends to send signals to potential customers that your company isn’t all that bothered about its image or keeping ahead of trends.

2. Badly organised content which is difficult to read
It’s tempting to think that potential customers want to know everything about your company. They don’t. They don’t want the history of how Arthur Tipplethwaite founded the company in 1862 from his father’s old apple cart. They want to know how you can help them. What do you offer? What sets you apart? What makes you exciting? Keep it simple. Most people just want a price, timeline and to be sold an ideal.

3. Use of Flash, Java, Microsoft Silverlight…
As a general rule, keep plugins to a minimum. And by a minimum, we mean aim for zero. There’s practically no-one who has every plugin installed on their machine, and if they do they’re going to give up on their computer’s loading time long before they ever get anywhere near the internet, never mind your website. Don’t put people off by making them install a plugin before they can contact you. Again, the rule is to keep it simple.

4. Advertising! Advertising everywhere!
People go online to buy things, sure, but they don’t go online to be sold things. The little gem to remember here is this: People shop or look for companies online because, whether they know it or not, they won’t be hassled by salespeople, won’t be coerced into impulse purchase by clever in-store placement and won’t feel pressurised into buying there and then. They can bookmark the site and come back whenever they like. You can’t really do that with a shop without getting odd looks. If you bombard them with adverts and sales speak, what advantage do they have of using your website? None.

5. Auto-playing videos
Having video on your website is absolutely fine. As long as it’s actually useful and is going to help, knock yourself out. But what I don’t want is to be sat on my laptop in a nice quiet coffee shop somewhere, browsing the internet quite innocently when Arthur Tipplethwaite IV pops up to tell me, very loudly, how his great-great-grandfather started the business out of the back of his father’s old apple cart. The quickest way for me to shut him up is to leave the website. And I will.

6. Confusing or unclear navigation structure
Navigation structure is more of a science than an art. Funnelling visitors through a website in a logical and sensible manner is something which is very difficult to do, but to summarise let’s just say that someone who’s not a web usability expert is best keeping away from it. Again, users want a quick, easy way to get the information or result they’re looking for.

7. Slow loading times
People’s attention spans on the internet are short. Stupidly short. By which we mean you’ve got about two seconds for your website to load else 60% of them will be off elsewhere. That’s brutal, but it’s the truth. What’s more, it’s perfectly achievable if your website is well coded, doesn’t contain lots of plugins or redundant code and uses servers which respond quickly and effectively.

8. Why should I buy from you?
So you’ve told us all about Arthur Tipplethwaite’s eureka moment in the back of the apple cart, you’ve mentioned how you had special industrial premises built in 1972 to cope with the new demand from the huge deal with the Russians and you’ve told us all about your current MD’s favourite sandwich filling. We know you better than we know our own grandmothers. But why should we buy from you? What are the benefits and advantages? Are you cheaper? Better? Unique in some way? Tell us!

9. How do I buy from you?
Not just buy, but how do I do what you want me to do? All websites want users to do something. Even yours. After all, you had it built for a reason, didn’t you? Was it to get people to buy online? To call you for a quote? To enter your competition? To sign up to your newsletter? To put their name on a petition? What’s the endgame? Find out and funnel your users towards it. A strong call to action is always needed to show users what you actually want them to do, then entice them to do it.

10. Server problems or hacking
Sadly, this happens. If your servers are either slow, keep falling over or are vulnerable to hacking, your site’s going to be inaccessible to potential customers. What’s more, it makes your company look unprofessional. If the site’s been hacked, it makes you look careless when it comes to security, too, which is never great when you’re asking people for permission to handle their money.

If any of the above ring a bell with you, it’s time to do something about it. Any one of the ten things above is likely to be putting off a large percentage of your customers, and if you think you might be guilty of more than one you’re going to be doing serious harm to your business’s chances of online success.

We are experts in web design, online marketing and site usability, and we can help guide you through the process of making your website attractive, usable and successful. We’ll help to grow your conversions and really make your website work for you. Web design shouldn’t be an expense; it should be an investment, and it should be an investment which works and pays for itself.

If you’d like to speak to us about updating, revamping or redesigning your website — or even just fixing one or two of the issues listed above — give us a call and we’ll see what we can do.

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