At Artemis, we provide our clients with a
completely open and transparent working process.
This means that we submit relevant monthly reports with details of all of the
work that we have carried out over the month, as well as information on how
this work has affected rankings, conversions and a full range of other metrics.
Here Artemis Finance Supervisor Narciso Baldo sets out some of the dos and don’ts of reporting.
You have to make reporting relevant to the stakeholder, there’s no point sending a report on the general office expenses to the HR department. Focus on creating a report that is going to be beneficial to the person who is going to read it.
People don’t like long reports, even if they’re interesting people don’t hold long attention spans. Keep reporting as concise and to the point as possible to ensure that information is imparted.
Reporting should be formal and professional. It is best to stay away from slang and writing in the first person. You should also proofread the report multiple times to make sure that you have not repeated yourself. The language should be neutral and objective.
There’s no point sending reports that are out of date. Make sure your reporting is current and fresh otherwise it will be redundant and obsolete.
Don’t have spelling errors
You simply can’t send reports with errors.
Doing so reflects poorly on you and the organisation and shows a lack of
attention to detail. There’s no reason why report should ever have a spelling
error when we all have spell checks.
Don’t miss deadlines
Everyone is busy and needs reports at the
right times. Is there ever a legitimate excuse to send a report after the
Don’t forget the contents page
Readers like to know where to look, it
might be simple, but you have to include a contents page so the reader knows
where to look for specific parts.
Don’t have important text straddling pages
Formatting is crucial to how a report
reads. If you have parts straddling pages, it shows you haven’t taken the time
to properly format your report and looks shoddy. Text should be easily readable
and structured well so you don’t have to turn the page for the same part.
If you’re a small or medium-sized business owner you may not have come across the term ‘bounce rate’ or you may have noticed it on your Google Analytics web stats. The reason why bounce rate has always featured so prominently on top line web stats is because it’s a key indication on how engaging your web pages are to visitors. And this has an impact on SEO.
Bounce rate explained
The bounce rate of your website – or a particular page – is the percentage of users who leave the web page they landed on without any kind of interaction with it. No clicks; they simply arrive, decide it’s not what they wanted to see and leave, looking for a more suitable resource.
For this reason, bounce rate is a measure of the quality of a user’s visit and a high bounce rate indicates that the pages people are landing on – your ‘landing pages’ – aren’t relevant to them.
A website’s bounce rate is displayed as a percentage: the total number of sessions viewing the site and leaving without any interaction is divided by the total number of page views for a given time period. In simple terms, a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good!
In Google Analytics, you will see an overall bounce rate for your website displayed in your top line stats and a report that shows which pages have the highest individual bounce rates.
Bounce rate vs. exit rate
Bounce rate is different from exit rate because it measures people who leave without visiting any other pages on your website. An exit rate for a page refers to visitors who leave your site from a particular page, after coming to that page from somewhere else on your site.
A common example of a bounce is someone who lands on your home page from the search results and hits the back button on their browser pretty much straight away. If they clicked on your products page then left the site, the visit would show as an exit from the product page and not a bounce because they’ve visited two pages on your site.
What counts as a bounce?
You may be surprised what counts as a bounce. We’ve already mentioned clicking the back button but there are a number of things a user can do which will also count. If they close the window or tab, that counts. Typing a new URL in the address bar does too. So, does clicking on a link to another website from within your page. They are all ways of leaving your website without interaction.
How it impacts SEO
Google uses a complex set of metrics when ranking web pages but its own user data is pretty critical. Both bounce and exit rate are strong indicators of a web page’s quality and ‘stickiness’ – and Google’s primary aim is to serve up the best quality and most relevant pages in its search engine results pages (SERPS). If your pages have a high bounce rate, it means they’re not relevant to the search terms users typed – and will be less likely to rank well. Conversely, if the bounce rate is low, it means users are spending time on your page, finding content to engage in and exploring your site further.
What is a good bounce rate?
Every industry is different so we can’t give a blanket answer to this. Instead you should compare your web metrics with other sites in your industry. Shopping websites tend to have lower bounce rates as people are more inclined to browse products, whereas a specific geographical landing page for a service industry which contains all the information users need on that page will have a significantly higher rate. This also applies if your website is a simple one-page site. As a guide:
Retail sites should aim for 20-40%
Service industry sites (e.g. Financial services) should aim for 10-30%
Content sites should aim for 40-60%
Landing pages should aim for 70-90%
What can I do to improve my website?
As a first step to improving your website bounce rate you should identify which pages on your website users land on most frequently. You can do this in Google Analytics. These are the pages you should focus on to do the following things:
Ensure the content on the page is relevant and engaging – you may consider rewriting it, breaking it up, adding images or video and links to other relevant content. Ensure there is enough detail for users if they want it. If you’re worried about having too much visible content on the page, you can use ‘read more’ links.
Ensure the design of the page is engaging – clear layout, easy to read font, clear journey through the page and jumps off to relevant content. Perhaps get someone who’s never seen the page to take a test drive through it.
Ensure any links to external sites open in a new window by using the target=”_blank” attribute in your links.
Link to a glossary that explains industry terms or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Ensure the page loads quickly. We recommend aiming for a 5 second page load time. To measure this, use a tool like GT Metrix or Google’s own Page Speed Checker (NB this will check your mobile page speed as Google now looks at mobile ahead of desktop).
Get rid of any pop-up ads – they annoy users.
If your page has adverts, consider where they’re placed. Too many, too prominently on the page are a turn off.
Check that your site navigation is clear and the user journey through the website is planned out.
Include plenty of internal links to other, useful pages on your website – e.g. similar products and services, customer reviews, relevant blog or news posts and contact page
Include clear calls to action (CTAs) as buttons or banners to prompt users to click on them.
If you implement the above points on your key pages, you will not only improve your bounce rate but also the SEO for that page – and in turn should see more users from organic search. But remember, nothing happens overnight so keep checking those web metrics every month!
Website ownership is a complex subject which often does not receive enough attention from business owners, probably due to the technical nature of the matter.
There are many instances where a business owner loses control of their website, and in some cases, forever. Or they may find themselves in a situation where they have to pay a significant ‘ransom’ to their previous developer to be able to access the site which they believed was theirs.
A website is a valuable business asset that represents the brand online, and it is protected by various intellectual property laws, such as trademark, database, and copyright law. Losing control of your website can lead to a number of disastrous consequences, such as loss of property rights, loss of rankings, loss of historical data, and ultimately result in serious financial implications.
The different components of a website
In order to fully understand who owns or controls a website, it is important to understand the elements that make up a website. One part of a website is what a visitor to a web page sees on their screen, and the other part is the technology behind it that makes the website visible online. The first part consists of the text, images, layout, colours, and other visual design elements.
The second part consists of the programming code and the software that support the visual layout, and also the online hosting of the files containing them so they are accessible via the Internet. Most of these elements are governed by copyright law.
You or your web designer?
One of the common misconceptions is that you become an owner of the website elements created by the web designer you contracted and paid to do the work. Usually this is not the case, as the contractor will continue to own the copyright in the product they created, indefinitely, unless stated otherwise in the contract. To complicate the matters even further, some elements of a website cannot be owned, but are licenced to the end user.
The customer should always check the Web Development Agreement, preferably with a specialist lawyer, to ensure that they will in fact retain full control of all website elements designed by the developer even after the contract with the developer terminates. As with anything else, it is up to the customer to understand what it is exactly that they are getting for their money and on what terms.
There are many reported cases where a web development company would offer a low-cost monthly instalment plan to design and host a website, but if a customer terminates, they suddenly find themselves unable to access their website as the rights to it still belong with the developer. A developer might ask for a hefty payment to hand the site over, but failing that the only solution is to rebuild a website from scratch – provided the customer is the registered user of the domain name.
Do you own your domain?
Domain name registration is perhaps the most valuable element of a website. There are many business owners who have unsuspectingly lost access to their domain name, either because they did not renew registration or because they were not the registered owner in the first place. The domain name cannot be owned, it can only be used exclusively for an annual fee. Unfortunately, sometimes an unscrupulous web developer might register the domain name not in the name of the customer but their own name and hold your website hostage.
The easy check on https://www.whois.com/whois/ will confirm if you are in fact a registered user of your domain name. If you are not, immediate action needs to be taken to remedy the situation. Depending on the circumstances of the claim, it may be even necessary to file a domain name dispute with the World Intellectual Property Organisation. If the domain name cannot be recovered, the brand’s online footprint will be erased resulting in a long-lasting damaging effect on the business.
What about the host…
If you are satisfied that you have the rights to your domain name and your website files, another element to consider is web hosting. A hosting company is needed to store your website files on their server from where it will be accessible to online users.
Again, a Hosting Agreement needs to be carefully checked, making sure that you are not being locked into a long-term plan with no termination rights, that the company will assist with moving your files from or to another hosting company, and provide adequate security and a backup of data, to name just a few important points. Again, it is best to check the contract with a specialist lawyer as unwanted consequences are likely to be long-lasting and costly.
To summarise the above, on a practical level a website owner should have the following:
Domain Name registration and annual renewals in place
A satisfactory Web Development Agreement
A satisfactory Web Hosting Agreement
Access details for your website’s admin control panel
Access details for your website’s hosting account
Access to any additional software if it was used (such as plugins, theme updates, etc)
Access to analytical data (such as Google Analytics and Search Console)
If you have any questions about your website please contact us for further information.
The purpose of this post is to give an overview of why keywords are still so important, for business owners or marketers without a detailed SEO knowledge.
I was inspired to write this post, as I regularly see new clients’ websites that are missing the most basic keywords, even those who have previously hired an SEO agency.
Many things are written about the keys to a website search engine success in 2019, for example this blog post lists over 200 factors that Google considers.
It is worth taking a step back to look at the function Google provides. If someone types in (or speaks) their query, like “plumber in Brighton”; Google’s algorithm looks at all the web pages in its index and serves what it considers to be the ‘best’ results.
While Google looks at over 200 factors, if you are a plumber in Brighton, you are certainly going to make your job of achieving top ranking much harder if you do not have ‘plumber’ or ‘brighton’ written on relevant web pages.
So, despite all of Google’s advances since it was founded in 1998, keywords are still the key to websites’ success, here are the six reasons why:
1. People still search using words
Despite technology advances, people still search using words, whether typing on mobile, desktop or using voice search. Words are therefore the basis of every search.
2. Keywords relate to 11 of the 59 page factors that Google looks at for rankings
According to Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2018), keywords are directly related to 11 of the 59 on page factors that Google looks at when deciding where to rank your website in its natural listings. So, defining the right keywords in the correct places are still extremely important for your website’s rankings.
The ads in their search results work on a keyword cost per click model. So, the advertiser will bid on a keyword they wish to rank for, and the more commercially viable that keyword the more they will bid. So, it is worth remembering that keywords drive Google’s income, so they are going nowhere!
4. Keywords help your website to clearly define what you are selling
The right keywords can help you to clearly and succinctly define your product or services, from the more general such as ‘plumber’ to the highly specific such as ‘Emergency boiler repairs in Brighton’.
So, for example if you where this firm of plumbers:
Home Page – this should include more general keywords such a ‘plumbers’ and maybe your locations
Services pages – you should have an ‘Emergency Boiler Repairs’ page and maybe your locations
5. Keyword research helps you match your site to what searchers are looking for
Google provides data to the precise search queries people use. Tools like Keywords Everywhere make accessing this data quick and simple.
Knowing the number of searches for one keyword versus another can be extremely informative in how you write and structure your website.
Let’s say you are a firm of plumbers and you offer ‘boiler installations’ and ‘heat pump installations’ but Google tells you that there are no searches for ‘heat pump installations’ in your area, this tells you to focus more efforts on the ‘boiler installation’ content on your website. See actual results:
boiler installer brighton: 30 Google searches a month
heat pump installer brighton: 0 Google searches a month
6. Keyword research helps you target more commercially viable search terms
As Google makes money from selling Ads and knows the price people will bid for specific keywords. This gives you as a website owner extremely valuable information as to the commercial viability of a keyword.
Let’s say you were considering two pages on your plumbing website, one about your Emergency Plumbing Services, and one about Small Plumbing jobs. But the cost per click for the two search terms where as follows:
emergency plumbers brighton: £12.74 per click
small job plumber brighton: £2.03 per click
This indicates that ’emergency plumbers brighton’ is a much more commercially viable term, and that your site will generate higher value enquiries if you spend more time optimising writing content for ‘emergency plumber’ related keywords.
We are delighted to be supporting our partner charity, Kangaroos, at the Cuckfield Church Christmas Tree Festival at the parish church of Holy Trinity. This year, the festival is partnering with Kangaroos to raise much needed funds for this amazing charity, so we of course wanted to be involved.
Every year local businesses sponsor trees at the festival and half of the funds raised go to the chosen charity. Businesses are invited to decorate a tree in the church either to a Christmas theme or to represent their organisation.
The first festival was held in 2003 and due to its tremendous success, it has become an annual event the local community look forward to every year.
Artemis have sponsored a tree at this year’s festival for the first time in support of Kangaroos. We decided on our theme ‘SEO stardom’ and to represent the ethical side of our business we voted to handmake all of our Christmas decorations (not a plastic decoration in sight!). Well done to the Artemis crafters! You did a great job!
A bunch of the Artemis team have been busy over the last few weeks getting together (at the pub) to make a zillion stars (well not a zillion, but it felt like it!) and today we headed down to the church to decorate our tree, ready for the festival which runs over this coming weekend (Friday 7th December – 9th December).
We were blown away by the wonderful displays and we think we did an amazing job with our tree too.
Please go and support Kangaroos this weekend. There is a rich music programme running all weekend with choirs, instrumental performances and singers. See the programme of events here. We can’t recommend this event highly enough.
Pop in and see our tree. Some of the Artemis team will be there on Saturday afternoon helping out on the Kangaroos stall. Do come and say hello if you can make it. It’s the perfect event to get you in the Christmas spirit.
We’ve been really proud of our efforts to support Kangaroos over the course of 2018, raising nearly £6.5K. Kangaroos run fun and social activities in a supported setting for children and young adults with learning disabilities and we know how much this charity means to the young people and families who use their services.
We are looking forward to working with Kangaroos in 2019, which will be their 25th anniversary year and hope to smash our fundraising target of £6K again next year.
This week’s blog is provided by guest writer Vlad Koval from Ahrefs.
Mobile search has been revolutionising the SEO world for several years now. Google recently rolled out their mobile-first index along with AMP (accelerated mobile pages) which led to a certain confusion among website owners and SEOs, as it was unclear how much it will affect the rankings and what needs to be done.
And seeing that the ratio of smartphone searches to desktop ones increases each year, a mobile-friendly site should be at the top of your priorities list. But what exactly does it take to create a mobile version of a site that not only complies with the recommendations by Google but also brings a huge amount of organic traffic?
In this article, we take a look at five key things to consider when you optimise your website for mobile search.
First things first, responsiveness is something most of the website owners fail at. And it can be very challenging since you need to check if everything is intact on so many screens and resolutions. And it is still common to see a broken slider, unusable navigation, overlapping sections, and countless other issues. It makes the whole user experience an absolute disaster. Which means that your website will suffer a big loss in credibility in the eyes of your potential customers.
Not only does it scare people off, it can have a negative impact on your rankings since Google indexes and accesses your mobile version and, as many SEOs believe, also behaviour aspects such as dwell time. And even though Google might rank pages with responsiveness issues, chances are it will gain more significance as a ranking factor in the future.
So, don’t hesitate, grab your smartphone and check your site right now. Although, the more efficient way would be to use specialised tools, like Device toolbar in Chrome:
As you can see, you can choose between the most common mobile devices and test how your site appears on them. The tool is highly accurate and can be recommended. Note that Apple devices can render your site differently; make sure to compare Android and IOS views (and maybe Microsoft for that matter).
The same goes for browsers. Cross-browser compatibility has been a thing for a long time and is still one of the first things to check when optimising for mobile search. At the same time, it probably wouldn’t make much sense to optimise your site for every single browser. Focus on the most popular ones: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
Another important aspect that you shouldn’t ignore landscape mode which is also used when browsing the Internet. Click the toggle button in Device toolbar to check that view:
Mobile versions tend to have less information on the screen which is understandable. But sometimes it comes at the expense of the amount of content a page could have compared to desktop.
Google have explicitly said that both versions need to be equivalent and that includes images, videos, etc. It might be related to Google’s mobile-first index. According to that, the mobile version is prioritised for indexing by Google.
Screen sizes are constantly changing. And you, as a site owner or an SEO, want to be sure that your site works equally well on each of them. And this is what viewport is for. Each of your pages must include a meta viewport tag which gives instructions to browsers on how to control the page’s dimensions and scaling.
If you are a curious, you might’ve seen one of those in source code:
If it’s not set for some reason, the mobile browser will return the desktop version of your site. And this is unarguably bad user experience. You can find out more about it at w3schools.
When you are done tweaking your website to make it look fabulous on mobile devices, it’s time to move on to its usability. This part is less straightforward and usually requires more time to fix. How do you determine if your website is handy on smartphones? There are a huge number of factors that come into play.
Start with the basics, like font; its colour, size, boldness, and font family. Some things work for desktop, but turn out to be a bad choice on mobile. Ask someone to check your page with a fresh set of eyes and ask them if they experience any difficulties and where.
Don’t use more than six words on one line for mobile view. Otherwise, the text gets smaller and smaller making it harder to read. The more effort it takes to check your site, the less time your visitors will spend there. Here’s a great video on top 10 on-page SEO plays which includes tips for enhancing user experience.
Another thing to consider is your buttons. People tend to forget that mouse pointer is much thinner and smaller than a human’s finger. This is why buttons need to be spacious enough for us to be able to click on them. Here’s an example:
If you use any animations, like gifs or video, make sure they are playable but not set to autoplay. Best practice is to let the user decide to play the video or not.
We have been talking so far about things that can improve your website, but there are some that are a big no-no. Some examples include huge newsletters or pop-up windows that cover the whole screen. They are also known as interstitials and can be a reason for penalising. There are three types of pop-ups that are deemed unacceptable by Google:
A pop-up appears immediately after a user navigates to a page through search results and covers the screen
A standalone pop-up that user has to dismiss before viewing that actual content
A layout where the pop-up window is placed at the top, and the rest of the page is in-lined below it
But there are some ways that you can use pop-ups:
Cookies or age verification banners, basically, legal obligation types
Login dialogs where the content is not publicly accessible e.g. the content put behind a paywall
Banners that don’t occupy much space and can be easily dismissed
Instead of bluntly shoving your message into visitor’s faces, try to find a more sophisticated way of delivering it. As a workaround, you can use in-text hyperlinks, CTA buttons, etc. Something less intrusive and more user-focused.
AMP, or accelerated mobile pages, is an open-source library aimed at loading mobile pages in a matter of milliseconds. You might not know that this is not actually Google’s initiative, but a project sponsored by them. There has been a lot of talk around whether this will boost sites’ rankings or not. And the main question is: do you need to create new, AMP-based versions of your pages?
Let’s start with some facts. Google officially stated that they index a non-AMP version of the page first. Which means this is not a compulsory change that everyone needs to implement. At the same time, it’s unlikely they support an idea that wouldn’t make any difference in how Google works.
And AMPs do load pretty much instantly. This icon in the search results indicates that the page is powered by AMP:
However, you do need to sacrifice something to get that awesome page speed:
Style sheets – first of all, AMP is a simplified version of your page which can make it look generic. Prepare to see plain text and images instead of the fancy styles you deliberately picked.
Cache – one of the things that contributes to your pages loading faster is that Google uses a cached version of your content. It is delivered via CDN which makes tracking a lot harder than it used to be. And caching is a core part of the AMP system, so you can’t disable it.
Backlinks – if someone finds your piece of content awesome and wants to link to it, the link will go to google.com. Because Google is the one that serves the content. As a result, you lose a potential backlink. Drawback? Definitely.
AMP is still a great step towards standardised mobile optimisation, it’s just that it’s not perfect and has some flaws to consider. But nevertheless, you can experiment with some of your content anyways to see if it works for you.#
4. Page Speed
Obviously, page speed is related to AMP and usability. But it’s such a huge topic that it deserves its own section. Especially, if you have a regular mobile page. Page speed, bounce rate, and dwell time together have an enormous impact on your rankings. And here’s what you can do to make your pages load faster:
Hosting – no matter how hard you optimised your page the hosting will always be in the way of great speed results. Unless it’s top-notch and works at its highest capacity. You don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive one; it’s more a question of what kind of CMS (or any other solution) you use. For example, Magento 2 websites are very resource-consuming and require a powerful hosting plan.
Minified CSS and JS files – a simple but effective trick. Get rid of spaces between the lines of CSS and JS code so that the browser can load the files faster.
Optimised images – images are the ones that usually take the longest to load resulting in additional seconds no one wants to wait. You can simply compress them to reduce the size.
Use a caching system – again, this depends on the platform you chose for your site. WordPress users can try WP Super Cache plugin. Magento and Prestashop have their own built-in cache functionality. Find the best option for you and get the most of it.
Redirects – too many redirects can cause a significant delay in opening your page. Try to get rid of them or reduce their number where possible.
On having implemented the optimisation tips, you might be wondering how well you did. You can test it with the Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool gives a speed grade for both mobile and desktop views along with some tips and hints on how to fix them.
Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool that helps you find on-site SEO issues of your site, has page speed report based on all the pages crawled within the project:
Run a crawl of your website, get a list of the pages with slow loading speed and fix them using actionable hints.
5. Schema Structured Data
Schema Structured Data is a universal semantic vocabulary used by Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! It allows the search engines to read the data on your site on another level and return it in a more meaningful way the on results page. This screenshot shows how much information you get just by looking at these product cards:
In this example there is an image, model series, ratings, and category. You might also see price, availability, product description and much more. Basically, you explicitly tell the search engines what types of information you have. But how does this benefit you? There are two main ways:
Higher rankings – as you know, the goal of search engines is to serve the most relevant search results to a user’s query. If you help them make sense of your data, they can easier evaluate the relevance of your page and, theoretically, rank you higher
More traffic – you get the advantage of showing more information at the very first stage of searching. Which means that you will more likely attract users to your site. It’s been known for a while now that features snippets get a lot of traffic
If you check the full tree of elements of schema.org, you will see that there are countless possibilities. It’s quite easy to get overwhelmed by them. You need to focus on things that really matter in your business and highlight them with the mark-up.
Mobile search is an important trend in SEO and its future. If you don’t want to fall behind, you need to make sure you address every aspect of it properly. Start with the technical part and check your site’s responsiveness on mobile both manually and using specialised tools, like Device Toolbar in Chrome.
Then, test how handy your site is. You might discover some issues with fonts, pop-ups that you want to work on. AMP is a cutting-edge solution to slow mobile speed. You should at least consider it but keep in mind that it’s not perfect yet. Additionally, it’s worth going through the list of possible factors that can cause issues with loading speed. Like hosting, minified files, cache, etc.
Finally, schema structured data is a great way to enhance the look of your search results and generate more traffic. This is not something you can ignore if you take your business seriously.
At Artemis, we are specialists in optimising for mobile search and if you are interested in learning more please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.
I joined Artemis as Finance Supervisor in September 2017 – it was my first time working in an SEO company, and there were a few things I found quite different from my experience in other finance roles. If you are thinking of taking your skills in finance into digital marketing here are five things you can expect from a role with an SEO company.
1. No Paper
Gone are the days where every sales and purchase invoice are printed on paper. There may still be companies using reams and reams but when you work for a digital marketing and SEO company, there is no paper anywhere! Of course, this means you need to make sure that your IT department is top notch as they will need to ensure your files are secure.
2. Cloud Accounting Software
There are lots of accounting software around but cloud-based technology is the only way for a progressive SEO company. All your financial reports, bank reconciliations, receivable and payable lists are safely stored in the cloud. This also means you can work from home or even login on your phone with some apps!
3. No more manual
How many sales invoices can you raise in a day? It’s irrelevant now, with automatically generated recurring invoices every month the need for high volume data entry is less important now. Most SEO companies invoice based on ongoing monthly work so there is less chance of error if you are billing the same every month – just make sure you get it right at the start!
Every self-respecting finance professional should know how to use spreadsheets. This is especially true working for an SEO company which constantly requires data analysis. Make sure you know your pivot tables!
5. Fun Atmosphere
Finance has a reputation for being boring, mundane and repetitive. But this is not the case at all when you work in an SEO company. From banter with the account managers to team building days and Netflix in the kitchen at lunch, it can make for a really fun and exciting work atmosphere.
Of course, SEO businesses require skills from many other industries. If you’re interested in working for Artemis, check out our careers page for current vacancies.
As marketers, we can spend all day writing about our fantastic products and services; how it works, what the benefits are and answering FAQs. But customers are increasingly savvy – they understand that any company can create great marketing copy, and where can they find content that they can really trust; customer generated content, of course.
“More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online—the third-most-trusted format.” – Nielsen
Word-of-mouth marketing should be at the forefront your online strategy. Embrace user-generated content with effective strategies including testimonials, case studies, social media feeds, enabling comments and social sharing.
A classic; written testimonials. There are plenty of tools available to help you collect and manage reviews. Choose from third-party suppliers or review plugins to generate review ratings, testimonial sliders, rating badges and more.
Ask your customer directly, share with them how delighted you’d be to receive their feedback.
Make it simple, provide customers with a direct link and ensure the process is as straight-forward as possible; the less a customer has to do, the better.
If you have physical premises, setup in-shop tablets to collect reviews then and there, ideal for service providers.
Create ‘case studies’ by working with your customers to share how your business helped them. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your work and how your products or services have impacted the lives of your customers.
Consider the title of this section, ‘case studies’ isn’t necessarily the most enticing tile. Consider ‘recent projects’, ‘customer stories’ and ‘clients we’ve helped’.
Introduce your ‘case study’ with a testimonial from your customer, whether it’s captured on video or written in a quote, this creates an engaging introduction for your potential customers.
Briefly outline the challenge or problem, relating the story to other users.
Provide a summary of results, driven by facts, statistic, graphs or photographs. Use colourful, custom images. A picture is worth a thousand words; even stats can have visual appeal.
You’ve probably spent months, even years building great social profiles by engaging with customers daily. Don’t miss the chance to showcase this social proof on your site using social feeds. You may even increase your social follower count at the same time – it’s a win-win.
Add social feeds to your site, pulling through social engagement. All those likes and comments you’ve received demonstrate just how popular your brand is.
Start a #hashtag campaign on Instagram and add the feed into your website. Push bright and vibrant user-generated content to your website.
Written a great blog post recently? Allow your customers to express thanks and contribute thoughts by enabling comments.
Allow for nested comments, letting customers interact with each other and allowing you to reply directly.
Communicate with customers, keep an eye out for any questions they have or show your gratitude for their engagement by replying.
Whether it’s a product, service or post give your user the option to share the page on social media or email it to a friend. Pages with high levels of social sharing help to capture users’ interest by portraying positive engagement for other users.
Add social sharing buttons to your posts and products.
Demonstrate social proof by choosing social sharing buttons that display the number of shares received.
It’s all about the conversion
Combine user-generated content with clear and bold requests to users. Improve your conversion rate by capturing users who have engaged with your content.
Add calls-to-action to your case studies
Tell users to share your page.
Take the next step after checking out a ‘Recent Project’
Keep track of your feeds, ensuring content displayed on your website hits the mark, but don’t be afraid of a challenging review or comment. Embrace the opportunity to show customers that you care by replying and resolving.
Enjoyed this topic? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts about customer-supplied content.
In Part One of our series on artificial intelligence (AI) and search engines, we looked at how AI is changing the way the users search and how search engines function. Welcome to Part Two, where we will be taking a closer look at the ways in which the SEO industry will have to react to AI and what it will mean for your website rankings on Google.
For as long as there have been search engines used by millions of people, there have been advantages for those websites and businesses that have been able to influence the rankings in their favour. As early search engines used relatively crude methods for determining results, it was historically relatively easy to optimise a site. However, over the years, algorithms have expanded and become more complex. AI is just the latest factor in this constantly evolving process. And to understand how AI is changing SEO, we need to first understand how SEO has evolved over time.
How SEO has evolved – a brief history
Today, SEO is big business: companies are willing to spend significant portions of their marketing budget to attempt to rank above their competitors in Google’s search results. The earliest recognisable search engines emerged in 1994 and the algorithms they used in order to rank the websites were fairly basic. Factors such as how many times a website used a specific word, whether that word was in the URL and the meta data, were crucial in determining where websites would be placed. This meant that a website owner simply had to ‘stuff’ their pages and their URLs with keywords to rank well – early SEO was simple.
The first major advancement in the intelligence of search came when they began to factor backlinks into their algorithms. When Google launched in 1998 it was revolutionary in the way it ranked pages because it looked at the internet as a whole, not just the content on the one website. It was able to see which websites were linking to others, and it recognised these links as an important factor in determining the importance and relevance of a site – akin to the way that a university essay cites sources. However, initially the algorithm worked on a relatively basic premise – the more links that a website had pointing towards it, the more valuable and powerful was deemed to be.
This led to a situation in which if websites wanted to perform well in Google’s search results they could continue to utilise keywords, but also boost their site further by building a huge number of links, regardless where these links came from. For a period of time this was standard practice. However, when Google realised that many businesses were using these sorts of underhand tactics to receive an artificially-inflated ranking, they deciding to do something about it. This saw the launch of two large scale updates to Google’s algorithm: Panda, promoting the value of high quality content, and Penguin, punishing sites with large numbers of links coming from poor quality sites.
This is where SEO became a far more complicated and delicate process, and website owners and SEO specialists had to think very carefully about everything they did to a website to ensure it wouldn’t fall foul of the new rules.
A more advanced algorithm
The fallout from Penguin and Panda was enormous, and it indicated that Google was going to be continually refining its algorithm to attempt to make it impossible to manipulate or artificially enhance a website’s position. The next major update, which was known as Hummingbird, focussed on a shift towards natural language.
While webmasters and site owners had become used to using text and content to serve a purpose (to drive sites up the rankings), Hummingbird placed a greater preference for sites that used ‘natural’ language. This meant that websites that were filled with useful and interesting content ranked higher than those that simply contained a good density of relevant keywords.
There is no doubt, then, that Google’s algorithm was evolving and becoming more advanced with each change. But at this point they all had in common that there were ideas that were programmed into the algorithm by humans. However, this changed with the deployment of RankBrain.
The rise of RankBrain
Google began using RankBrain as a factor it is search results in 2015. It is an AI system that is considered to be the third most important ranking factor, behind content and links. RankBrain uses AI to analyse words and phrases that it has never seen before – it can then make a guess at the meaning of the phrase based on similar phrases. This means that it is extremely effective at showing relevant results even if it does not necessarily understand the query.
As search has become more conversational and in the form of long-tail, complicated questions, this AI is designed to help the algorithm translate the questions into something it can understand and provide search results for. Data from previous search queries is fed into RankBrain and it is uses this data to learn how connections are made between topics. It is also able to spot patterns between searches that might appear unconnected.
This is one of the first examples of AI being used to improve search results, but this begs a question: how should website owners optimise their sites for an algorithm that is learning by itself?
This is good news for SEO!
It might seem as if the addition of AI to Google’s algorithm spells trouble for those in SEO – after all, as AI learns more about websites and what kind of content a user is searching for when they use a particular search query, it becomes much harder to manipulate or influence the system in any way. However, on closer inspection, this is actually excellent news for SEO – or, more specifically, those businesses using ‘white hat’ SEO techniques.
Reputable SEO agencies and experienced professionals already know the steps that they need to take to ensure not only that their site will rank well in search results, but also won’t fall foul of penalties under the algorithm: focus on creating the best possible content and achieving links that the website deserves.
However, it has always been frustrating for white hat SEOs when they can see competitors utilising black hat techniques and getting results without being punished. Not only will AI reward reputable and genuine SEO, it will make it easier for search engines to spot poor practice. AI is definitely bad news for those agencies and companies using underhand methods to artificially inflate their rankings.
What this means for content creation and link building
Let’s take a look at what Google itself describes as the two most important ranking factors in its algorithm: content and links. These will be affected by the rise of AI.
For example, Google’s is AI becoming better at recognising the difference between genuine high quality content and simply average, non-duplicated text. This means that those websites that create the best possible content that is genuinely useful and interesting to their audience will see the rewards. This effectively means that the best advice is to carry on with the same plan that Google has been recommending for a long time: create amazing content that answers the questions of your audience and provides value to the reader.
In terms of links, things have moved on dramatically from the early days when a link from any site would do. And yet, links remain a vital aspect of determining the quality of a website. This means that websites that focus on gaining strong, earned links from powerful and relevant sites will continue to see a benefit.
Additionally, as we have seen with RankBrain, Google is getting better at understanding search intent – what the user is trying to achieve with their search term. This comes from the AI being able to more clearly understand what a user means when they type in a query or use voice search. From an SEO perspective, you can take advantage of this by tracking how visitors use your site and drawing conclusions from the behaviour of those who convert.
How to prepare your site for AI
So, what should you do in order to prepare your website for the increasing use of AI in Google’s algorithms? The truth is that AI itself will not make any changes to the way that the algorithm operates – nor will it change Google’s priorities. The use of AI is to make it easier for Google to meet its main goal: providing the best possible search results for its users.
This means that to prepare for AI you simply need to follow the same advice that Google has been suggesting for a long time. Firstly, create the best possible content that is going to be genuinely useful and informative for the user; never has the phrase ‘content is king’ been more relevant.
Remember additionally that AI is constantly getting better at understanding natural, conversational language. This means that when you create your content you must always do it with a human reader in mind. Gone are the days that you could trick the search engine with content that was ‘optimised’ – if Google spots content that looks forced or unnatural, it will be able to tell the difference.
You also need to ensure that you are earning your links. With the help of AI, Google is getting better at noticing patterns and trends. So if you are still engaging in the practice of buying links this is something that Google will notice, more so than ever before.
Finally, it is more importantly than ever to stay up-to-date with what search engines are looking for from sites. As Google and others increasingly utilise AI it will make them more capable than ever to enforce their algorithms. So it is vital to stay ahead of the game. Working with experienced SEO professionals is crucial, as the development of AI in search is fast and it can be easy to get left behind without expert advice.
We hope you have enjoyed our series on artificial intelligence and search engines. This is still very much an emerging field and an exciting part of the future of SEO. Please check back to the Artemis blog regularly as we will be updating our content which further specific developments in AI and search engines, as well as providing insight into all areas of SEO best practice.
And if your business could benefit from our SEO expertise please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today.