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What is Google’s advice for hiring a useful SEO?

As a leading Sussex based digital marketing agency, we were very interested to view Google Webmaster’s YouTube video: How to hire an SEO. It covers what an SEO does, the hiring process and wider implications.

This 12-minute video by Maile Ohye explains clearly what to look for in an SEO and what makes a good SEO stand out. It is a ‘must see’ if you are thinking of hiring an SEO, if you work with SEOs or if you are an SEO yourself.

The role of a good SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) covers the entire searcher experience from representation in the search results, clicking on the website, potentially converting to a lead or customer, to ranking appropriately where the website is expected to be seen.

Hiring tip

For long-term success in SEO, there aren’t any quick fixes or magic tricks, and the potential of SEO is only as high as the quality of your website. The SEO should advise and implement best practices to your website, from creating and implementing descriptive page titles to more complex language mark-up. The SEO should also ensure that the website is helpful both on desktop and mobile devices and delivers a good user experience.

To ensure best practice, SEOs should always corroborate recommendation with a documented statement from Google which supports the description of the issue and approach to resolving the issue.

The 4-step hiring process

Google suggest there are 4 steps in the hiring process:


General SEO hiring process

1 – Conducting a 2-way interview

Look for an SEO who not only focuses on ranking but also on helping your business. What makes your business unique? What do your customers look like and how do they find your site? How does your business make money? What other channels are you using? Who are your competitors? If the SEO is not interested in these questions, look elsewhere.

2 – Checking references

Check references from existing clients, and verify specifically that the SEO can provide useful guidance and work effectively with developers, designers and marketers. An SEO should be someone you want to work with, learn from, experiment with and who cares about your business. They should also educate you on how search engines work so that Search Engine Optimisation becomes part of your business.

3 – Technical and Search Audit

An SEO should conduct an audit using Google Search Console and Analytics Data have before touching anything on the website, and produce a prioritised list of recommendations.

The website should be reviewed for issues such as internal linking, crawlability, server connectivity and response codes. The Search Audit should look at branded and unbranded terms. For unbranded queries the SEO should detail the types of queries they think you should rank for, and what your competitors have done. Examples of recommendations could be to update obsolete content, improve internal linking, generate or learn from the competition.

4 – Deciding if you want to hire

 “Good SEOs will prioritise what ideas can bring your business the most improvement for the least investment, and what improvements will take more time but help growth in the long term.” – Maile Ohye, Google

Artemis Internet Marketing offer a completely free SEO consultation and website analysis service for anyone who’d like to find out more about online marketing and increasing enquiries, sales and profits from their website. We are focused on achieving SEO results for our clients using completely ethical, white hat, Google-friendly techniques.


Chrome Extensions

SEO Extensions for Chrome

chrome-extensions

There are thousands of Chrome extensions to use when it comes to SEO, so finding the gems out of all of these is an ongoing task. I tend to add a new extension a week, but often find it has issues or just doesn’t work how I want it to.

Below are my top picks of extensions that I use on a daily basis to help increase my productivity and make my life a little bit easier!

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

This extension gives you an overview of what CMS a website is using, the server information, email information, nameservers and SSL Certificates to name a few.

 builtwith

Redirect Path

This is a great extension that shows you any redirects, 301, 302, 307, and error codes 404 and 500. It is ideal for doing quick redirect checks if you are moving a page URL and don’t want to fire up Screaming Frog to run a redirect report.

MozBar

A pretty standard extension that 99% of SEOs most probably have installed. Doesn’t need much explaining, but gives you basic stats, DA, PA, followed links to name a few.

Google Analytics Debugger

This is extremely useful when it comes to debugging any issues you have with analytics. It shows you every time the GA code is fired, any events that are fired, and any errors.

You start it by clicking the extension icon and then loading the Javascript console (press F12 in Chrome). It will then print the information surrounding the GA code on the website.

ga debug

SERPs Preview Tool

This extension gives you an overview of what your page would look like in the Google SERPs. You can also make on the fly changes within the extension so you can see what any changes you might make would look like in the SERPs.

It is worth noting that it can be a bit temperamental and doesn’t always pick up the meta description.

serp preview gif

Fat Rank

Fat Rank is a very easy to use one off rank tracker. You can quickly check the rank of any keyword in any country for the website you are on.

fatrank

You just navigate to the domain you want to see the rank for, enter your keyword and away you go. You can export up to 50 keyword ranks to CSV for Excel which is nice!

fatrank export

Ayima Page Insights

This extension gives you information about the page that you are currently on. It flags up any issues, graded by severity (Yellow, Orange and Red).

It identifies some on page issues such as no or too long a title tag and multiple H1s. It also flags up more technical issues such as the canonical tag pointing to a different URL.

ayima

Tag Assistant

This is an extension by Google that flags up any tracking codes that you have on the website. It shows you if any of your tags have errors, and how to fix them.

tag assistant

It also shows how each tag is being called if it isn’t hard coded into the website, for example if your Analytics code is being run through Google Tag Manager

tag assistant2

LinkMiner

LinkMiner is a great extension that helps you very quickly identify broken links on a page. Be it for checking your websites, or for outreach when checking a links page to outreach to a site owner as an example.

In a matter of seconds, it shows you how many links there are on a page, how many are working (with a 200 header status) and how many are broken (4XX or 5XX header status). You can then export this data to a CSV file to play around with in excel. The links on a page are then highlighted green or red to show if they are working or not.

linkclump
On page highlighting of live and dead links
On page highlighting of live and dead links

 

A more recent feature that was added to this extension was to run it on a SERP to see stats about each website that is returned for a keyword.

linkclump serp

Link Clump

With this extension, you can very quickly open, copy or bookmark links that are on a page. You can set it up to work with a shortcut, or in my case I choose to have it activate when I right click my mouse.

I find it works best when you want to get some more detailed stats about URLs by using URL Profiler or SEO Tools for Excel, as you can very quickly copy the links off a page into these two tools.

Awesome Screenshot

Does what it says on the tin! You can very easily screenshot a section of the webpage, what is currently visible or you can grab the whole webpage.

Once you have taken your screenshot, you can very easily write notes, or add symbols to the shot to share with colleagues.

If you create an account with Awesome Screenshot, it enables a few more options including being able to share a screenshot with others and allow them to add comments to the image.

awesomeSS

February 2017 updates

Full Page Screen Capture

Sometimes Awesome screenshot can be a bit buggy when it comes to Parallax sites or sites with sticky headers. This is a great alternative to grab a screenshot of the whole page. No fancy extras like cropping or being able to add boxes and arrows, but works great!

Pushbullet

This plugin is great for quickly sharing links, pictures, text, in fact pretty much anything you can think of, between browsers and mobile devices. You can also add your friends to the plugin, so you can quickly send anything to them as well.

Another feature is that it can display mobile notifications, such as text messages and phone calls on your desktop and allows you to interact with these. So for example, you can reply to text messages direct from your browser, and see any calendar notifications etc.

All in all, it is a great plugin that helps save time!

Page Ruler

Page Ruler is a quick and easy way of measuring the size of anything on a web page. It not only gives you the dimensions of the item selected, but also the top, bottom, left and right pixel sizes which is great for workign out the margin and padding if you are a web developer as well.

Ruler

ColorPick Eyedropper

This plugin gives you a few different pieces of information about any colour on your screen. You can highlight anywhere and it gives you a box with the hex code, RGB, and HSL (Hue, Saturation and Lightness).

This is handy for very quickly grabbing Hex codes for if you are designing any banners, or need to change the CSS.

Colourpick

I hope that you find these handy, and if you have any extensions that you use and want to be added to this post, then leave a comment below, and I will check them out!


Love Keyboard

Valentine’s Special: 7 writing secrets to help you create seductive content

Love keyboard

Content creation is a bit like wooing a beautiful girl. You’re clear about the end goal, but what’s the best seduction technique to get you there? When it comes to writing compelling web content, you need a similar strategy to attract readers to your page and keep them engaged so they stay there. But how?

It is a well-known fact that your typical online visitor has the attention span of a love struck teenager. And while SEO managers can analyse session durations, dwell times and bounce rates all night long, what it really comes down to is that you only have a few precious seconds to sweep your readers off their feet.

As it’s the month of love, let’s take a look at a few winning ways of spicing up your web content in an effort to seduce your online readers.

1 – Heading for success

Did you know that your choice of title is more important than the actual article? It makes sense when you remind yourself that web visitors skim read for information. If the header doesn’t instantly turn you on, why would you click through to see the rest?

Try to find an interesting or unusual angle to an otherwise unsexy topic. Make it specific, informative, engaging, entertaining, shareable. Rather than ‘Home made romantic sweets’, say ‘5 tempting nibbles for your Valentine’. Be honest, which one would you rather read?

2 – Give it body and soul

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In other words, if your article doesn’t deliver what the title so enticingly proposes, it’s no better than click bait. Choose a juicy topic that gives you a platform for;

  • education and information sharing
  • action and empowerment
  • humour and feel good entertainment

Most importantly, write assertively and with authority but without losing the reader’s attention. Use ‘you’ (not ‘I’) to better connect with your audience. Write with a mass audience in mind rather than the select few.

Have you heard of the inverted pyramid method? It’s a way of structuring your article that puts the key information and any conclusions you are drawing at the beginning of the text, not the end.

Content words on iPad

3 – KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid

When you’re writing for the web, keep it short and keep it simple. Complicated vocabulary and technical jargon turns people off quicker than you can pucker up. Short, easy-to-understand paragraphs separated by white space are best. Stick to one thought per paragraph and don’t make it more than a few lines long – five is good, three is better, and single sentences can really stand out.

Employ text formatting and structure to make your webpage, blog post or article easier to navigate. Headers and subheaders are a great idea, and bullet points are a good way to break up solid text. Try using numbered lists instead of paragraphs.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

4 – Are you linking?

Same as in writing for print, it’s good netiquette to reference your sources. Apart from being the right thing to do, it also lends authority to your opinions, assertions and any figures quoted. Add a hyperlink (and do choose the option to open it in another window, so your reader doesn’t bounce away from your site!) when you mention another organisation by name.

Government or other official sources, press articles, professional bodies, charities etc. should all be linked to, though I probably wouldn’t go as far as linking to competitor sites. Doing this can help you get valuable backlinks, and if you’re really lucky you may even get a reciprocal link or quote. Now that would be a result!

5 – Love your language

This one is very simple: if you write professionally, you need to have an expert grasp of the English language. Nothing says amateur more like a page of goofy grammar and toe curling typos – it will have your would-be readers run a mile!

Proofreading is a key ingredient to ensure your copy is nothing short of perfect. Take a break after you’ve finished writing and check it with fresh eyes later-on, or better still get a fellow word lover to do the job for you.

Proofread

6 – Add some magic keywords

Writing keyword-based posts can present a bit of a double-edged temptation. What’s more important: a blog or web page that is keyword-rich and will make your copy more search engine friendly, or one that is inherently engaging and shareable? Achieving both must surely be the Holy Grail of content creation.

While content writing for the web should always be driven by SEO strategy, keyword cramming is never ever the answer. In fact, if you stuff keywords into your copy willy-nilly, you’ll be watching your readability, conversion rate and SERPs rankings plummet faster than you can fall out of love, as your readers bounce off the page and Google penalises your site.

Much better to cleverly insert relevant keywords organically throughout the text, particularly in the first and last paragraphs, and otherwise focus on beautifully crafting your content.

7 – Give them more

All good things come to an end, unless you add a call to action. Where can your reader learn more? Is there an interesting video to watch, a newsletter they can subscribe to or an expert they can contact? Obviously, provide hyperlinks that can be clicked on to fulfil the action.

It’s a great idea to prolong the positive web experience in this way as it plays straight into your hands. Let the content work its magic by encouraging web visitors to share the information gleaned, or by directing them to other areas of your site.


website optimisation

SEO Basics – Title Tags, what are they and how can they help?

website optimisation

When you’re browsing a website or looking through Google search results, you will without a doubt end up seeing title tags on almost every page that you click on. When done correctly, title tags can be very beneficial for you, your business and the people visiting your website. A good title tag will also improve the overall optimisation of your website and improve click through rates. In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at what title tags are and how they can help improve your click through rates and overall SEO.

What is a title tag?

A title tag is a short snippet of text that shows the title of your page in search result pages and browser tabs. For example, if you hover over the tab for this post in your browser you will see the title tag we have added. A good title tag is typically short, contains one or two keywords related to the page, a pipe command (This character: | ) and then your company name. This helps to show your readers what the page is all about, as well as sending positive signals to Google.

 

Title Tag

 

The recommended length for a title tag is 50-60 characters. A title that is too long will not display properly on Google, so it is important to keep within this limit. However, different devices may only be able to show title tags at different lengths. You might have written a great title tag that displays correctly in Google on a desktop, but it could be too long to show correctly on a mobile device.

As with all aspects of Search Engine Optimisation, keyword stuffing is frowned upon. This looks spammy and will drive away potential customers, as well as sending negative signals to Google which will result in your page ranking much lower.

Luckily if you’re using WordPress, you can easily add title tags in using plugins. If you’re on a different Content Management System (CMS) you will probably need to add this to the html on each page in head section, for example <title>Internet Marketing and SEO Agency in Sussex | Artemis</title>. Speak to your site administrator to find out the best way of adding these in on your website.

Why are Title Tags useful and how can they improve my SEO?

Title tags have two main benefits. Firstly, they are a great way of getting visitors to click through to your page from search result pages. A short and tidy title tag with a clear message could make all the difference when a potential client is looking through the search results. Good click through rates from well written title tags also send positive signals to Google, making your page more likely to rank higher. If you have a poorly structured title tag, you could end up unintentionally sending prospective clients to competitors with better title tags.

Keywords in title tags help to send signals and let Google know what your page is about. Not having a keyword in your title tag can dramatically reduce your chances of ranking higher, especially if your competitors are using well-structured title tags with the terms that you’re trying to target. Having the keyword close to the start of your title tag will also help Google to see it easier. Remember not to use too many keywords and to write a nice, short title tag, as Google will be more likely to rank this higher.

A quick recap

  • A title tag is a snippet of text that shows in search results and in browser tabs.
  • Keep your title tags short and make sure they are well written. Avoid keyword spam!
  • Title tags help customers know what your page is about and improve click through rates.
  • A good title tag will send positive signals to Google, making your page likely to rank higher.

If you would like to discuss the subject covered in this blog or any other SEO concerns, get in touch with our professional SEO team today. Keep an eye on our blog for more SEO advice and updates.


Top Tips for Optimising Images on GMB

Top Tips For Optimising Images on Google My Business

Many businesses lack a diverse range of images on their Google local listings, yet they are an essential element to having a well optimised Google My Business listing. Google’s algorithm will look fondly on a business with a range of well optimised photos. It’s so important that GMB Insights will even tell you how your photos perform against competitors in your local area.

Business Photos

Your image dashboard can be found by logging into your GMB profile and clicking on photos in the menu.

You will first be asked to add a Profile, Logo and Cover Photo to your local listing. Your profile and logo should both be different and measure to 250 x 250 pixels. The best dimensions for your cover photo are 2120 x 1192 pixels.

Once you have uploaded these, click the ‘What are these?’ link. This will allow you to select the photo you recommend to show first on Google Maps and Search. Make sure to keep track of what image is being pulled through on Search in your business knowledge box, Google will typically show the latest image you uploaded.

GMB Image Dashboard
Neither Google or potential customers are interested in stock photos, it’s highly recommended that you use real photos which ‘tell the story of your business’ as Google’s guidelines stipulate.

Google's Guidelines GMB

Image Optimisation

For best practice, here are Google’s guidelines on what size your images should be:

  •  JPG or PNG
  • Max 10 KB and Min 5 MB
  • At a minimum 720px tall and 720px wide
  • Your photo should represent reality and be well lit. Do not make excessive alterations.

Photo Categories

At its basic level, depending on the business category you have chosen, you will have 5 image categories which you are encouraged to fill out. These usually include:

  • Interior Photos (of your office or shop)
  • Exterior Photos (of your office or shop)
  • Photos at Work
  • Team Photos
  • Additional Photos

You should add a minimum of three photos into each segment.

GMB Image Dashboard - 3 Photos


Don’t stop there

Once you have uploaded your well optimised and real life images, you need to ensure you manage and check your photos and insights.

Periodically adding more images to these categories is a great way of keeping your profile active, a necessary strategy to ranking well as Google suggests ‘business with recent photos typically receive more clicks to their website’.

GMB Tip
In December 2016, Google My Business added insights for photos. Ensure you keep track of your GMB Photo Insights, you’ll be surprised just how many of your photos have been viewed, but most importantly keep track of your competition in the ‘photo views’ section. You can also view the photo quantity in comparison with business like you, a great metric to judge if you should be adding more images to your profile.

GMB Photo Views
As we mentioned before, you should keep track on which image Google is showing on Maps and Search as it is subject to change to the latest image uploaded.

GMB Flag ImagesBeware! Anyone can add photos to a business’s location and those photos are likely to display on search. If it’s a malicious attack the images are unlikely to be anything to do with your business. In this case, you will need to flag the images to Google, this can take a few days to resolve. Click to enlarge the image and look for the flag. We recommend flagging the image by three different accounts at a minimum.

If you would like further advice or a free consultation about your Local SEO get in touch today, we’d be happy to help.


British Library

Making the most of your content assets for improved SEO

British Library

Writing for the Independent’s i-news Daily Briefing recently, journalist Ian Burrell reported on how the British Library is using SEO to become a major digital media publisher. With over 150 million items in its archives, including rare manuscripts and original recordings, it’s probably fair to say that the British Library’s content assets are among the most valuable in the UK, if not the entire globe.

Having such an abundance of valuable, original works at one’s disposal must be every SEO’s dream. One of the hardest parts of the search engine optimisation process, especially for businesses operating in quite obscure niches, is in the creation of original and authoritative digital content that people are likely to willingly share upon discovering it. It’s a complex job that starts long before you even begin drafting the content for your website archives. Branding, website accessibility & design, the perception of trustworthiness that your domain projects; these are just some of the factors that can determine whether or not your content assets will be successful at generating backlinks to your site. Understanding who is interested in your content and how they might use it is absolutely pivotal. The digital team at the British Library clearly understand this, as evidenced by the deep links pointing through to some of their internal pages. Here’s a good example:

20th Century Literature

The British Library rank #2 on Google UK (at the time of writing this) for the key-phrase “20th Century Literature”. That’s a highly competitive term with powerful sites such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Open University trailing in the rankings behind them. Almost certainly one of the reasons why they rank so well is down to the highly sophisticated level of digital content curation, banking on their own archives in order to present a page that is genuinely unique and a stand-out in the search results.

20th century literature

The page is beautifully designed and very user-friendly, presenting the 20th century through a mixture of featured articles, theme organised content, significant people and, perhaps most importantly, from a content asset point of view; digital copies of some of the century’s greatest works. Here you can browse a first edition copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses or view handwritten notes by George Orwell in preparation for the write up of his ground breaking dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Few other online resources can compete with this in terms of the exclusivity of the content; its richness and ease of accessibility. The quality of the presentation and curation of the content is evident in the backlinks to the page. Numerous authoritative websites from across the web link directly to it:

Links

Sites such as The Guardian, The Week, Open Culture and American Libraries Magazine all rave about the fact that rare and important works and letters can now be viewed for the first time online, linking directly through to the British Library’s 20th Century Literature page. This is a great example of an organisation maximising their content assets for full SEO benefit.

Improving use of your own organisation’s content assets

Admittedly, your average business does not have access to first edition works of great literature. So, how can businesses make the most of what they do have? I think the first step is in identifying what resources you have available and whether or not there is a public interest associated with any of that content. Perhaps you contracted a market research agency to conduct some bespoke research around your particular product or service a couple of years back? Did that highlight any interesting data or statistics that could be developed into an online presentation? Has a member of your team written interesting research or academic papers, perhaps in a ground breaking area of new technology? If so, can this be made available as a PDF download on your site? If you determine that you have limited content assets, are there experts on your team who could be freed up to create a definitive guide to a specific area of your trade or industry?

This last point might sound like an extravagance, especially for a smaller business with limited human resources. However, this process could potentially help you to clarify your strengths and unique capabilities as a business, as well as with providing a content asset that can be used again and again to market you both on and offline.

In summary, maximising the benefits of your content assets requires considerable input into improving the quality of your online presence, identifying what you have at your disposal that is of public interest, identifying the internal resources who can help you make that content as engaging as possible to your target audience, then executing a plan to get it in front of that very audience. If you can do this in an imaginative and creative manner, then the chances are you will generate the links back to your site that will boost you up in the search results for those competitive key-phrase terms.


Google Confirms: Penguin Update Imminent!

 

facebook-google-confirms-penguin-4

 

John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, recently announced they are working on the announcement for the launch of the latest Penguin algorithm; version4.0. Yes, you did read that correctly, they are working on the announcement itself, which may or may not mean they have finished work on the actual update. It could also mean the update may have already been fully tested as Google is not known for announcing something before it happens. It has been almost two years since the last Penguin algorithm update which rolled out in October 2014, however, in the interim time there has been a great deal of talk about the functionality of Penguin being written into part of the main Google search algorithm and so negating the need to ever run a specific update again.

Skip to the 44 minute and 30 second mark for announcement…about the announcement itself.

For those of you who may not know the Penguin algorithm is designed to identify poor quality and unnatural backlinks. A site that is hit by a penguin update can be severely penalised and knocked a long way down the rankings across a wide range key terms. Many sites which were penalised by Penguin 3.0 have attempted to clean up their backlink profile using Google’s disavow tool in preparation for the next update, in hope they may recover from their penalty but it is still a point of some debate whether or not it is even possible to regain old rankings after a penalty.

It remains to be seen what the announcement will bring and some people are even suggesting Mr Mueller may be playing a slight prank on a lot of over eager SEOs by describing the work on the announcement itself rather than the update. Throughout all of this current wave of debate the critical fact remains that link building is critical for good rankings and taking short cuts leaves sites at great risk. After all, why sit around hoping for an update that might fix a mistake made by you or your SEO agency when you could have avoided the penalty in the first place by sticking to top quality links.

If you would like to discuss this subject or any other SEO concerns, contact us today.

Keep a look out on our blog or social platforms for further updates as our SEO Team keep up to date with SEO news, day and night.


Why WordPress is the essential CMS for SMEs

wordpress-cms-essential-sme

Here at Artemis we have worked with pretty much every content management system (CMS) under the sun. From custom built platforms designed for bigger or more specialist companies to very basic systems accompanying free website building software. Every system has its challenges but some can be truly awful to use from an SEO perspective. Those free website builders, in particular, are every technical SEOs’ worst nightmare! The limitations often include: inability to access the site files via FTP; inability to apply 301 redirects and extremely limited control over the architecture and coding of the site. Luckily, only a small minority of our new clients arrive at our doorstep having used a free website builder or having installed a CMS which is detrimental to their search engine rankings. But occasionally they do which then leads to their question “which CMS should we be using, then?” 9 times out of 10, our response is usually:

WordPress, WordPress, WordPress

This then leads onto the question, “well, why WordPress?” I could probably list about a hundred reasons why the vast majority of small to medium size businesses should be using WordPress but I am going to limit it today to just my top five.

1. It’s extremely flexible and easy to use

Some CMSs really overcomplicate matters and, for internal staff who are not especially tech savvy, you will need a Ph.D. in Computer Science just to figure out how to get past the login screen. WordPress is incredibly easy to set-up. If you are building a website from scratch, many website hosting companies will offer 1-click install for WP, meaning you can have the framework installed on your web space in a matter of minutes with no coding or FTP experience required.

2. Popular with developers and easy to customise

Many developers specialise in designing good looking WordPress sites, including our own here at Artemis. For clients on a shoestring budget, there are literally thousands of WordPress themes that you can quickly and easily install that will pretty much work out of the box (some faffing about with xml imports required and, of course, setting up your pages and menus). Unless you have a very specific business proposition or technical brief, WordPress is likely to be able to handle whatever it is you need to do; from basic brochure site and lead gen through to complicated eCommerce functionality – the framework to do what you need is likely to already be there.

3. Great for SEO

Google seems to love WordPress sites, dependant, of course, on how the theme is coded. Originally built as a blogging platform, many businesses have adopted it as the engine behind their main website front, in part because it is so search engine friendly. There are some technical issues which often need to be addressed after your theme is designed and your pages are up, but plugins such as Yoast are incredibly easy to install and (with a bit of knowledge) easy to configure. Yoast can sort an awful lot of the technical SEO basics, from ‘noindexing’ specific pages to whole archives or remedying common issues to WP.

4. Big Community

Because WordPress is open-source, it has a huge community behind it. If you’re having a technical issue with your WP site, a quick Google search containing a few keywords about the problem will normally return the answer you need to get it fixed. A big community also means masses of development – there are themes and plugins available for almost anything you can imagine; from Mailchimp integration to job board functionality.

5. Great for blogging

Might sound a bit obvious, given that it’s a blogging tool, but WordPress is great for keeping your customers, clients and database up to date with your latest news and articles. Hugely flexible in terms of archiving, author branding and displaying news content; it can be adapted well to meet the requirements of simple local businesses through to professional journalistic organisations.

Like any platform there are always the downsides. WordPress requires frequent updates and security is a major concern; especially for any businesses dealing in sensitive customer data or payments. Security software is an essential must-have, for any business of any size, and you will need to ensure that both WP and any plugins running on the site are kept up-to-date.

Advice

Need advice moving over to WordPress or building a new WordPress site? Give us a call today, we’d be happy to help!


PPC versus SEO

SEO Strategy in an Increasingly PPC Dominated World

The layout of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) has changed dramatically over the years. With maps, videos, images, featured snippets, the Knowledge graph, news and various personal suggestions all claiming their place, the first page of Google’s SERPs is now almost unrecognisable.

As marketers, one of the biggest shakeups we’ve seen this year is the increasing real estate given to paid search.

In February of 2016, Google announced (after years of testing) that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right hand side of the SERPs and that for ‘highly commercial’ terms, they’ll show an additional ad at the top, thereby increasing the space given to paid advertising from three places to four.

Four paid search ads and Local within SERPs

 

Paid search ads that didn’t make the top four places were moved to the bottom of the page. This meant that for some ‘highly commercial’ queries, you could see no less than seven paid search ads, which severely limited the number of organic possibilities.

The reasoning behind this shift was fairly sound and understandable. With the explosion of mobile usage and the corresponding local signals, Google wanted to standardise the listings across devices.

For many brick-and-mortar businesses, this meant a renewed interest and push for better local listings. The reward for appearing in the local three-pack was never more attractive. With the local listings appearing just beneath the top paid ads and above the normal organic ones. In essence, jumping into first place for anything organic.

More recently, and somewhat more controversially, Google has started to offer paid listings in the local finder as well, reached after clicking “More places” from a local three-pack in the main Google search results.

This is yet another piece of prime real estate that has been sold to advertisers.

Paid search ads in local listings

What does this mean for organic listings?

Before answering this question, it’s important to understand the reasoning behind these changes.

Search engines and Google, in particular, have become increasingly good at understanding user intent. If I’m searching to buy a laptop and search the exact laptop model with the words ‘buy’ or ‘purchase,’ Google knows and understands this intention, and being a strictly commercial one, they’d most likely present me with a series of paid search ads.

Is this a bad user experience? The answer, in most cases, is no. I’m looking to buy a laptop, I know what kind of laptop I want to buy and at this stage in my decision making process I just want to be presented with options of where to buy it. My intent is purely commercial and transactional. Displaying a series of paid ads is more relevant to me and provides better performance for advertisers. In many ways, a win-win situation.

It’s the informational ‘Micro-moments’ that SEO strategy should be attempting to target. The billions of queries that are not highly commercial and offer some scope for branding and connection.

There are over 3.5 billion searches on Google a day. Over 15% of these search queries have never been seen before.

Google’s engineers now feel confident enough in RankBrain’s ability to sift through these unrecognised queries (sorting them into vectors and assigning a ‘probable’ meaning to them) that they’ve recently announced RankBrain is now used in every search. It has become the third most important ranking signal (after links and content).

As we mentioned in our article about semantic search, we’re moving away from strings to things. Towards meaning and providing true value to the user.

A combined PPC and SEO search strategy

Having a combined SEO and paid search strategy is a good way forward for many companies. Particularly for e-commerce sites.

You’d have a carefully targeted PPC campaign with different landing pages for the commercial ‘I-want-to-buy-now,’ moments and a strong organic presence for people at the informational and research stages. Rather than competing with each other, these different listings would compliment one another, reinforcing your brand and presence at every stage of the decision making process.

The path to purchase is fragmented and non-linear. More so now than ever before.

The consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making moments at every stage of the ‘buyer’s funnel’—from inspiration to purchase.

For SEO to succeed, we need to address these ‘Micro-moments.’ We need to answer people’s questions, exceed their expectations and meet them at whatever stage of the decision making process they are currently in.

As a recent study by Google concluded – you need to be there, be useful and be quick. Therein lies the key to success online.


Google Analytics

Integration of Search Console in Google Analytics

In May Google announced that Google Search Console could be deeper integrated with Google Analytics but what exactly does this mean, what insights will it give and how do you enable this feature?

Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps website owners and marketers manage and monitor how they appear in Google organic search results. Google Analytics focuses on the data that the traffic creates once it has reached your website.

Search Console allows you to analyse a websites performance in Google search. It shows you data on Total Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position for keyword phrases that the website is ranking for. These phrases may not have been identified as phrases to target but could still be driving significant traffic to your website.

Anyone wishing to analyse, understand and improve organic traffic from Google will be interested in this update. Essentially the Search Engine Optimisation reports in Analytics have been replaced with a Search Console section. The new reports combine Search Console and Analytics metrics, allowing you see the data for organic search traffic from both in one report.

What do the reports show?

The reports pull in the following data from Search Console – Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position and the following from Analytics – Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages/Sessions, Goals/Ecommerce, Conversion Rate, Transactions and Revenue. For the first time this data appears side by side.

landing-page-report

There are 4 new reports – Landing Pages, Countries, Devices and Queries which are found in Analytics under Acquisition.

analytics-searchconsole-reports

Landing Pages Report

Each landing page appears as a separate row within the report and allows you to see at glance how the organic search traffic performs for that specific page, how visitors reached the website and what they did when they go there.

What does it all mean?

It means greater actionable insight into the performance of a website for organic search results. The landing page report joins acquisition data with behaviour and conversion data. You can therefore see at landing page level how many clicks, the average position, bounce rate and conversion rate that page gets.

Let’s say for example you had an optimised landing page for pink girls bikes – mymadeupsite.co.uk/pink-girls-bikes with a form set up as a goal, you would be able to see the keywords that had driven traffic to that landing page and at a rolled up level what happened to the visitors when they were on the site. Did they bounce? Did they navigate further into the website? Did they convert? It creates insights which creates actions to better optimise the landing page.

Devices Report

This report allows you to deep dive into the devices – desktop, mobile and tablet and how they arrive and navigate your website, You can see at a glance the comparison between Click Through Rates (CTRs) and Goal Conversions of desktop, mobile and tablet and the landing pages and search queries behind them. This is incredibly valuable data. Back to Pink Girls Bikes you might see that the conversion (remember a form was setup as a goal) is better on desktop and mobile than a tablet. This might mean you review how the form looks or is setup for a tablet user to help improve that conversion rate. You might also notice that some landing pages perform better on mobile than desktop and therefore may look at why that is.

This all sounds great but how do I enable it?

You will need to link your Search Console and Analytics properties through Analytics.
Step 1: Navigate in Analytics to Acquisition > Search Console where there are 4 reports – landing pages, countries, devices and queries. Select one of them and select “Set up Search Console data sharing”:
Step 2: Select “Property Settings”
Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Adjust Search Console”
Step 4: Select the site to be linked, Save and Select “add a site to Search Console”
Step 6: Start gaining valuable insights

Summary

In summary integrating Search Console with Analytics will enable a deeper understanding of search data from beginning to end and enable actionable insights such as:

  • Understanding the search queries that are ranking well for each organic landing page rather than the website as whole
  • Examining how desktop, mobile and tablet users find and interact with the website
  • Improve landing pages in two specific ways:
    • Improving the landing pages where many users are arriving at the landing page (high click through rate and impressions) but not spending time on the website by navigating through the site (pages/sessions), immediately exiting the website (bounce rate) or not converting to a goal (eg: filling in a contact form).
    • Improving the search presence of landing pages where the users are navigating further through the website and converting but have a low click through rate.

All of these insights should help build a better user experience and in Google’s eyes a better search experience too.