Branding: Secret Weapon to SEO

Branding: the secret weapon of SEO

Standing out from the crowd in the world of business is critical and it’s precisely for this reason that branding is so key – it defines your business and is how people identify your company. But branding has been seriously overlooked as a tool of SEO and digital marketing. So, what is it about branding that makes it so crucial and what role does in play in SEO?  

What is branding?

In the minds of many, branding is just the colour scheme on your website or what your logo looks like. But while these elements are important, there’s far more to branding than just visual details. When branding is done well, you’ll find it woven into the very fabric of your business, from customer experiences to your values and reputation. Tone of voice and messaging, values and personality all fall under the umbrella of branding. In other words, there are non-tangible elements to your business that your branding is responsible for, which help a customer pick you from the crowd. 

Branding: Secret Weapon to SEO

How can branding help SEO?

Google uses algorithms to decipher where a website needs to land in the search results. There are various factors that play a part in this ranking system, from the keywords used and the quality of the content, to links, time spent on page and how quickly a page loads.

The good news is that each of these elements can be tracked and tweaked easily for a higher success rate. Branding is one of these elements, but the difference is that it works indirectly, making it harder to measure. But that doesn’t detract from the importance of it when it comes to page ranking. Here are some of the reasons ways branding affects SEO.

A boost for your inbound links

Inbound links from authority domains are one of the main ways that Google determines search engine rankings, but these links need to be relevant and placed naturally in-context; they need to be earned through editorial merit rather than traded or purchased. When links are included from a trusted, respected brand with a strong reputation, click-through rates will typically be higher due to more people being attracted to the site, which is great news for your business. 

It encourages social sharing

Social proof accounts for a small but significant percentage of ranking factors. In the same way that inbound links indicate that your brand is trustworthy and reputable, a greater volume of shares on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram equates to increased visibility and reliability in the eyes of Google. 

Click-through rates are enhanced

Click-through rates, check-ins and clicks to call are all behavioural cues that tell Google your business is a trusted establishment. For example, if a dependable site ranks lower on the page but users skip higher results to click through to the link that’s believed to have the most dependable information, Google will push this result up in the rankings as it can see that it’s the business that people trust most. 

Branding and SEO can help shape your reputation online

The Search Quality Rating Guidelines set out by Google mention reputation on numerous occasions, particularly in relation to ‘what outside independent sources say about the website’. What this proves is that what others say about your business is just as, if not more, important than what you say about yourself, whether that’s in the form of news articles, forum discussions or third-party rating sites. 

Having a great brand reputation sits at the heart of this and it goes a long way towards where your ranks. It’s for this reason that brand mentions are so critical – when your business has strong branding and a great reputation, more people are naturally going to mention you. 

But while brand mentions are important, so is SEO. The two work together to boost your position in the rankings, as those higher up in the SERPs are more likely to be trusted than those several pages back. In order to build brand awareness and see a positive return on investment from your SEO strategy, you need to develop your branding and vice versa. 

Final thoughts

A thoughtful and considered brand-building strategy will boost your reputation as a business but it will also support your SEO efforts. Both SEO and branding are critical to any business success, impacting your visibility, sales and profits. When strategising, it’s important that these two factors are developed in harmony with one another for the best results. 

At Artemis, we are specialists in SEO and we understand how to use branding to maximise your website in order to boost conversions, sales, and profit. Get in contact with us today if you would like to learn more about our SEO services.


The role of content in boosting your local SEO

The rise in the importance of local SEO has been dramatic – once only a small niche in search, creating content and optimising for local search terms has become essential for businesses with any kind of physical presence. 46% of all searches are looking for local information, which shows just how vital it is for any business to ensure that they rank well around location-based terms.

Content writing has an important role to play in the deployment of your local SEO strategy – and many of the most useful ways to improve your rankings are commonly overlooked. Here we take a look at how written content can boost your local SEO.

Optimising your Google My Business

Google My Business has become a vital aspect of local SEO, as Google has looked to encourage businesses to provide it with the most up-to-date and accurate information about the company. GMB is considered to be Google’s specific tool to help businesses appear as they should in the listings – and an authentic and updated GMB profile should be rewarded with a position in the sidebar space.

But content can also play an important role in optimising your GMB profile to ensure that the description of your business includes relevant keywords and phrases. These won’t affect your search rankings in any way, but they can help your profile stand out and reinforce to potential customers what you do.

 

Strengthening meta descriptions and title tags

Sometimes overlooked, meta descriptions and title tags are still important – especially to local SEO. When a customer makes a location-based search, they are shown the SERPs and at that point in many searches it is still only the title tag and meta description that provide any information about what is contained on the page.

A well-written meta description should include the location term you are targeting so that it shows up in bold in the SERPs. And a strong title tag reinforces and reassurances the potential visitor with what they are clicking on.

Expert local content

Google is getting smarter and is increasingly learning what constitutes great content on a website – and how to best serve up that fantastic content to searchers. Writing remains an absolutely invaluable form of content that is useful not only from Google’s perspective, but also for the user. Providing great local content related to your industry can be a huge benefit from a local SEO perspective, as Google begins to associate your site with valuable local information.

This could include anything from educational content to local events and news – anything that is relevant to your business and incorporates the local area. Creating this kind of content is a fantastic way to discover a market niche that can bring visitors back to your site again and again. Spend some time conducting research into who your local customers are, and what they are interested in. This will allow you to develop a smart content strategy.

Content for local intent

It is also important that you should create pages and support content around local keywords and search terms. This is vital in narrowing the competition for the terms and reaching the audience that you are interested in. Ultimately, Google needs a good number of signals that your website serves a local audience – when the algorithms understand this, they are more likely to rank your page highly for local results.

It is important here that you should utilise local schema markup as this is still underutilised by businesses;  this can be a great way to gain competitive advantage over them.

Local link building

Links are still arguably the most vital currency in SEO – and this is no different in local SEO. In fact, it is magnified. Local links have fantastic relevance to your business, as Google is able to understand that a local site linking to another is a great indicator of the quality of that site. The sophistication of Google’s algorithms continues to grow, so the importance of gaining high-quality local links will only become greater.

Creating excellent resources and useful content is still an excellent way to earn high-quality links back to your site from authoritative local websites.

 

Encouraging reviews

Reviews are absolutely essential to local businesses, so it is no surprise that they carry a lot of weight from an SEO perspective too. But many businesses can be accused of not really doing enough to encourage customers to provide reviews of their products or services.

However, high-quality content writing can help here too. Smart messaging and strong calls-to-action (CTAs) can have a huge effect on customers, and can be the difference between them leaving a five-star review for your site, or clicking away.

Writing for specialist local directories

There are many directories that your business should be listed in as a matter of course – this differs by industry but could include anything from TripAdvisor and Yell to Yelp and Thomson Local. But many businesses fail to utilise strong local directories with a good reputation. These can be an extremely valuable place to list your business.

On these directories you will need a short description of your business, and content writers can create these for you. Good business descriptions should include all of the relevant details about your organisation. And in case you’re thinking of copying the text from your homepage, be aware that many directories will not allow the use of duplicated content.

Final thoughts

Content writing has a major role to play in all aspects of SEO, and it is certainly true of the work you are doing to get your business ranking on local search terms. It is a great idea to work with specialist content writers who understand the needs of SEO, as well as how to write excellent content.

And of course, it should also be stated that while content is extremely important, there are a huge number of other elements that make up a strong local SEO strategy. At Artemis, we have years of experience in SEO, keeping up-to-date with best practice and helping businesses with all aspects of digital marketing.

If you would like to learn more about our range of services, get in contact with our friendly team today.


Learnings from Google’s January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google has had a busy January making significant changes to its algorithm and search results. As large updates are usually not implemented in the run up to Christmas, January is often the month where we see quite a few changes in the search results. Here are the three main changes that have happened in January:

Core Algorithm Update

Google makes regular updates to its core algorithm but the one in January was quite a large one, resulting in significant changes in search results across the board.

There are no details of what the core algorithm change was focused on, these are never released by Google, but the update has very positively benefited Artemis clients’ websites. Our initial assessment of this update is that it is focused on content quality and better rewarding content that deserves to rank higher, due to higher relevancy, accuracy and presentation, but which may have lower PageRank authority than other websites targeting those same key phrases.

New Desktop Search Results Appearance

In 2019 Google changed the look and feel of the mobile search results to include a favicon for each listing and placing the web address (brand) above the page title.

In January Google copied this same set-up across to the desktop search results. This layout may work well on mobile screens but for desktop it does not work well at all.

 

The new desktop results were so poorly received that the backlash caused by this change prompted Google to make the unprecedented move of admitting that maybe it wasn’t the best update to the interface and that they would begin to experiment with further alternatives.

We have now already seen the favicons removed from the desktop search results and we can expect further changes over the coming weeks.

Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is presented in the search results when Google’s algorithm believes that an enhanced result may be very useful to the user based on the search query entered.

Ever since the feature was introduced, a website could enjoy two listings on the first page of the search results: The featured snippet and the organic search result itself, for example:

 

This double listing was often deemed unfair by many and in January Google changed this set up so that if a website had the featured snippet, the same page would not appear again in the organic search results.

This change has advantages and disadvantages. If a listing had a featured snippet and a first place organic listing, this update will result in a loss in traffic as now there is only one opportunity to click through to that page. However, for those websites that rank low on the first page of the results, to get the featured snippet is a way of getting to the top of the search results without needing to be first organically. There can only be a traffic increase in this scenario.

 

As with all changes there are always winners and losers. The latest changes have been very positive for Artemis’ clients and it is a reflection of our constant attention to detail, optimisation refinement and very high-quality link building activities. We expect the Artemis approach to SEO will continue to have an increasingly positive effect on business for all of our clients throughout 2020.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s updates and how Artemis can help your business stay ahead of them, please get in touch with our experienced team today.


What we can learn from pre-Christmas online sales

What we can learn from pre-Christmas online sales

With the new decade beginning, it is interesting to look back at what has changed in recent years in terms of online shopping behaviour. The advent of extensive pre-Christmas sales has changed online shopping behaviour significantly over the festive season. But what does that mean for 2020 and beyond?

Christmas sale signs with snowman

The changing face of online sales

Traditionally, sales were only available after Christmas with the Boxing Day Sale and the famous January sales encouraging shoppers to spend what little money they had left. However, over in the US, sales have traditionally started the day after Thanksgiving; the day known as Black Friday. The concept of Black Friday has filtered into Europe over the last five years, increasing in popularity every year.

Following Black Friday, for those who are too busy to go shopping straight after Thanksgiving, in the US they have further sales on Cyber Monday, which is the first Monday after Black Friday. This has now extended into ‘Cyber Week’ for those who want to enjoy lower prices for even longer in the run-up Christmas.

These US habits have now become ingrained in shopping behaviour in the UK and much of Europe and it’s permanently here to stay. It has significantly changed how businesses sell online in the run up to Christmas and meaningfully impacted profits too.

The impact on the bottom line is particularly problematic for businesses as Christmas has traditionally been the time where many businesses have made their most sales and profits.

Focus on mobile and conversions

Mobile usability and conversions are key for online success today; and this is even more critical when analysing Christmas shopping behaviour.

You will no doubt have been inundated with marketing emails in December from every website you happened to have given your email address to, websites you probably can’t even remember using, all offering you amazing deals for Black Friday, and the entire week after it.

In today’s mobile driven world, we are mostly likely to open an email on our phones and then click through to the mobile version of a website. The need focus on mobile usability and conversions has never been so important.

Most mobile websites sill convert at a rate of half that of desktop, most still don’t load as fast as they should and most aren’t set up as effectively as they could be for conversions on mobile.

Hand holding a mobile phone

What should you focus on in 2020?

In 2020 the focus on mobile needs to be even greater to ensure increased sales/enquiries and optimal conversions, especially in light of the significant shift in online shopping behaviour.

At Artemis we are completely mobile focused. We understand that since Google switched to its mobile first index, it has become essential that businesses improve their mobile optimisation and user experience. This is even true for B2B companies who may still get more traffic and conversions through desktop users.

We work with all clients to continuously improve conversions, page load speeds and usability across their mobile websites. It’s a constant process of learning, testing and refinement what works best for each website, in each market and for each type of customer.

 

Our focus for 2020 is very much on maximising the performance of the mobile websites for all of our clients. If you are interested in learning more about what Artemis could do to improve your business’ mobile website, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Local SEO tips for businesses with multiple locations

Local SEO tips for businesses with multiple locations

If you run a business that depends on a certain amount of foot traffic and face-to-face interaction with customers, local SEO is one of the most essential facets to your overall digital marketing strategy. A recent report from Uberall revealed that 82 per cent of mobile shoppers have used a ‘near me’ search – showing just how common it is for users to search locally.

You’ve probably been aware of this goldmine for a while now, and been doing everything you can to make sure your physical premises has a strong profile for local organic search. But what happens when your business expands into two or more physical locations, after you’ve put all that time and effort into local SEO for one store or office?

This exciting milestone can feel daunting, for more reasons than just the search implications, which is why we’ve put together this helpful guide to approaching SEO when you have multiple business locations.

Overhead view of model town with signposts to multiple locations

 

Give each location its own page

When customers need to interact with your company in person to make a purchase, it’s essential to set up landing pages for each individual location.

If you keep information on all your individual branches in one big list on a single page, you can’t expect Google to serve this result up to anyone who searches for a town or region which just so happens to appear somewhere on that page.

We advise that you come up with a standard format to use for each individual location page, covering basic things like the address, landline number, and opening hours, along with anything else that may be unique to the branch, like certain items that are kept in stock or specialist staff who work there.

While it helps to go in with a template for these kinds of pages, it’s obviously important to make sure there’s no duplicate content across your site. Take some time to come up with unique, compelling content for each location page. If it’s a newer branch, perhaps you can tell the story of how the business expanded into this location. If it’s the original headquarters, you may want to go over the founders’ professional history and the personal connection they have to the region.

The URLs for location pages should also have the same structure, with the individual town or region included wherever possible.

You should also add PostalAddress schema properties to your localised pages. This will maximise the chances of rich results popping up in SERPs when a potential customer searches for “(your business type) in (your location)”. If you’re not all that familiar with schema markup, we have a great beginner’s guide here.

Optimise your Google My Business listings

Once you’ve split your business branches into their own, localised pages, you can create separate Google My Business listings under a single location group. This will create a unique listing for each location which will be served up to customers searching in the corresponding area.

You should always exercise caution here. One thing that will always grind down the value of a GMB listing is inconsistencies between the information on a listing and the information that Google can find elsewhere. Take some time to list all the places where details of your business premises appear online; social media profiles, directory listings, your shiny new localised web pages, and make sure they show the exact same information as your other citations.

Be sure to set up social media pages, directory listings and so on for your new branches before their Google My Business listings go live. Inconsistencies can cause Google to either bump your business down local SERPs, or update listings with incorrect information, causing you to miss out on localised impressions and traffic.

Google search results page

Tempt reviews for each Google My Business listing

You’re probably doing everything you can to get positive online reviews for your business as a whole, but now you need to start thinking about location-specific GMB reviews to ensure the healthiest possible organic profile for each individual branch.

You probably know the basic best practices for getting reviews on Google My Business. First of all, just ask! Secondly, avoid shifty black-hat tactics like review gatekeeping or spinning negative reviews of your competitors.

The next thing to cross off your list is to ensure you’re making it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review once they’ve bought your product or hired your service. A lot of brick-and-mortar businesses do manage to ask their customers for reviews, but make them go through the whole protracted process of going to their GMB page, finding their specific branch, and filling in the review form for the first time.

The one simple change of adding a link to your Google My Business review form in confirmation emails and thank you pages can have a massive positive impact on the overall number of GMB reviews your business earns, and in turn, the amount of paying customers who visit your store or office!

Build local citations

Aside from your Google My Business listings, which are powerful citations in themselves, you should aim to build a large and healthy repertoire of citations as part of your local SEO strategy.

Go in with a plan to build a healthy mix of the three main types of citations: structured citations, citations from industry-specific sites, and unstructured citations (essentially normal backlinks) from local news sites, blogs, and community social media pages. If you’re a stranger to citation building, there’s a wealth of knowledge about how to approach it online, along with tools to make the whole process easier for you like MozLocal and BrightLocal.

Going back to our second point, make sure you’re not so caught up in expanding your local SEO profile that you neglect to think about your premises’ basic information. Make sure the company name, address, contact information, and any other important details, are consistent across all pages on your site and everywhere else they appear online.

Follow these steps, and soon enough every physical branch of your business will be fighting fit when it comes to local SEO. There’ll be obstacles along the way, and it will probably take some time to see any measurable impact to your organic traffic and conversions, but building a strong foundation for your local online profile is the first step towards roaring success!

 

If you are looking for help with local SEO, the team at Artemis has years of experience in helping small and medium sized businesses. Get in contact with us today for more on what we could for you.


Google introduces new speed report in GSC

Google introduces new Speed report in GSC

We have recently seen a couple of significant algorithm updates which were not publicly announced or confirmed by Google. It is important to note that Google applies updates to its algorithm on a daily basis and most of them go relatively unnoticed. However, sometimes particular updates can cause the search results to noticeably shift the rankings for certain keywords.

Apart from those unconfirmed updates, the most interesting news last month was about the introduction of the new Speed report in Google Search Console (GSC). Google has been testing this new tool for the past six months and is now available for all websites.

It is listed under the Enhancements section but it is still in an experimental stage so it will likely change and improve over time.

Google Search Console speed report

 

There are two reports available, one for mobile and one for desktop.

The results are then broken down into three categories:

  • Slow (longer than 3 seconds)
  • Moderate (longer than 100ms)
  • Fast

Each category then list the specific URLs that fall in that category.

GSC speed report example

 

Interestingly it groups similar URLs, understanding that similar pages, for example blog pages, may all have a common theme contributing to the speed issue.

Why is this important?

Speed metrics have long been available in Google Analytics but the introduction of these reports in GSC is a further reflection of the current and growing importance of page load speeds for ranking purposes.

However, fast loading pages are not just beneficial from a ranking perspective; users are less likely to get frustrated with a website if the pages load quickly resulting in an increase in enquiries. Website visitors have little patience and often little loyalty. Improving the user experience is vital for good conversions.

SEO is a continuous process of refining pages, content, optimisation and authority whilst being relevant and useful for a given search query. A significant part of this process now is also the ongoing task of refining the pages to improve load speeds.

We have known for some time now that page load speed is a ranking factor for mobile results and the significance of it will increase over time. Working towards fast loading pages to create a great user experience is a key SEO factor going into 2020.

 

At Artemis, our team our highly experienced SEO professionals keep up-to-date with all of the changes Google rolls out so that our clients don’t have to. If you are interested in learning more about what we can offer, get in contact with our team today.


Artemis blog Google video 2

Goal setting video from Google

You might have recently seen the fantastic beginner’s overview from Google explaining how Google search actually works. If you enjoyed it, you might be interested in watching the second video in the series – Setting goals for your website (and why it matters). This video explains the various types of metric that you could consider tracking, including queries, impressions, and clicks, and introduces important analytics tools search as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

If you’re interested in learning more about Google and how SEO can revolutionise your business, contact the team at Artemis today.


how-google-search-works

New Search Overview Video from Google

For anyone interested in learning more about how a search engine decides what results to serve up for a given search query then Google has released this simple overview video, if you’ve no understanding of indexing and algorithms then this is an easy non tech introduction.


GMB Reviews blog

Why it’s so important you respond to GMB reviews

Google My Business (GMB) is an increasingly important part of local SEO. It is no longer enough simply to fill in your profile and leave your GMB listing as it is – your listing should be regularly monitored and updated in order to ensure that potential customers are seeing the correct information.

One of the most vital elements of managing your GMB listing comes in responding your GMB reviews. Anyone can leave a review about your business, so it is important that you respond positively to a good review, or provide information and your side of the story in the event of a bad one.

Here we take a look at some of the reasons that it is now crucial to your business to respond to any GMB reviews that you get.

GMB Reviews

Freshness signals

The first reason to respond to GMB reviews is simple: freshness. From an SEO perspective (and from a customer’s perspective) it is good to see that the business takes an interest in what people say about it. It is an indicator that this is a real business with real people.

Google recognises when GMB profiles are updated, and responding to customer reviews is definitely a positive from the search engine’s perspective.

Optimising for keywords

On the subject of SEO, responding to customer comments and reviews also gives you an unusual opportunity to optimise for keywords. When you take the time to reply to the reviews you should make sure that you find a way to add in key phrases for your business.

As with all aspects of SEO, you should never ‘stuff’ your keywords – just use them in a natural way during your reply.

Google likes to see reviews

It’s not only for optimisation reasons that you should be responding to Google reviews, however there’s a final SEO point to be raised here. Remember that Google likes to see reviews of websites – it’s an indicator that these websites are being used – it also likes to see businesses responding.

Ultimately, this is a feature that Google has added, so it is something that it wants websites to get involved with.

Dealing with bad reviews

Of course, it is great to see positive reviews about your website, and you always want the feedback to be good. But it is natural for businesses to also receive negative reviews. Firstly, don’t take it personally – all businesses get negative reviews, and remember that a customer is 21 per cent more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than after a good one.

When you respond to a bad review, you have the chance to present your side of the story. This can actually be a great way to show this customer that you do care about their experience, and from a broader perspective, your willingness to interact with customers is a good thing.

GMB reviews

Check the reviews are real

It is important to also make sure that the reviews that you are getting are real. Responding to negative comments is important, but if you suspect that a review is not genuine, there are steps that you can take to remediate the situation. You can dispute GMB reviews that you believe may be fake, as posting a false review is a violation of Google’s policy.

Encourage interaction

It is always good to have people talking about your business – it means that you are making a name for yourself. Responding to your GMB reviews is an encouragement to your customers to leave comments. Customers enjoy it when they see their reviews responded to.

 

Managing your GMB listing has never been more important – but it can be a very time-consuming job, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. At Artemis we manage the GMB listings of many of our clients, and we would be happy to do the same for you. For more information get in contact with our friendly team today.


IMAGES FOR CRO

Making better use of images for CRO

Images are an extremely important part of your website, not only from an SEO standpoint, but also in terms of conversion rate optimisation (CRO). As you prepare your site to convert more often it is vital to take a look and what you are currently doing with images, and what you could be missing out on.

Here we take a look at some of the ways that your website can use images (and make better use of them) to improve your conversion rates.

Size matters

Image size can have a huge effect on CRO for a number of reasons. And one of the major challenges here is finding the right balance between small file size and high quality, both of which can influence your conversion rates.

From a size perspective, it is ideal to have images that are 100kb or less. Images that are much larger than this can significantly slow down your website loading speeds. When pages load slowly it has a very negative effect on conversions; one study found that pages that load in 2.4 seconds have a 1.9 per cent conversion rate, while at 4.2 seconds that number had nearly halved to less than 1 per cent.

However, of course it is also necessary to have images to the correct quality. In some instances, if you need high resolution images it can be acceptable to use larger file sizes – however, it is best to keep these images off of your key landing pages.

CRO Image

Visual CTAs

One smart way to use images to improve your CRO is to place calls-to-action (CTAs) in them. Making images clickable and including text in the picture can be a powerful way to foreground the next step in the process for the customer. It also gives you the chance to make your CTAs more descriptive, so that customers know where the next click will take them.

Having descriptive CTAs is recommended by Google as a valuable part of improving the user experience (UX) on your site.

Showing off your credentials

If your business has any kind of professional accreditations or industry standards then it is a very good idea to show images of these on your website. Displaying your credentials shows off to potential customers that you are trusted at the service that you provide.

It also gives your website a more official and professional look – so ensure that these images are visible on your homepage.

Be unique

It is important to use unique images wherever possible. Remember that some customers will engage more with imagery than they will with text, so you should try to use as many different images as possible when they are appropriate with the page.

Don’t overload

However, it is also crucial that you shouldn’t overload your site with images. Aside from adding to the page loading time, it can also be overwhelming visually and have the opposite effect on your conversion rates.

 

Are you interested in learning more about conversion rate optimisation? At Artemis we have years of experience using images to improve websites. If you would like to learn more about what we could do for you, get in contact with us today.