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The importance of being number one in Google (and how to get there…)

Every business owner we have ever met aspires to rank number one on Google.  Of the huge variety of businesses and industries we have worked with over the years, this is the one thing guaranteed to unite them.  And of course, this is the case – they know, and we know, that 93% of all online buying decisions start with an online search.  The average person conducts 3-4 online searches every single day (and I know there are some of you reading who will go way over this average).  Make no mistake – your target audience is out there, cash in hand, actively looking for a product or service just like yours at this very moment.  And we get it, you want to be there, first in line, ready to speak to them.

It’s all about Google

Let’s just get one thing cleared up – yes, there are multiple search engines that people use on a day to day basis.  However, you won’t be surprised to hear that not one business owner has ever come to us saying “Get me to the top of Bing!” or “I really want to rank in Ask.com”.  It’s always Google.  Google has a whopping 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide. According to SEO Tribunal, there were 5.8 billion searches every day on Google in 2018 – this works out as 63,000 searches per second.

So whilst we shouldn’t ignore these other search engines (and your web developer will still ensure your site map is submitted to the others), SEO strategy should predominantly be focussed on Google.

What is SEO, exactly?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and this is the art and science of working on your website’s ranking to move it closer to the top.  SEO should always include two elements:

  1. On-site SEO: This is all the work done on your website content to improve its appeal to Google.  It includes things like keyword optimisation, use of metadata, subject relevance and content building by, for example, writing blog posts.  The content building should always be focussed and driven by your SEO strategy, keywords and relevance.
  2. Off-site SEO: This is work done elsewhere on the internet, away from your website.  Ultimately, you want to accumulate links on other people’s websites back to your own (called ‘link building’).  In theory the more links you have the better, BUT you also need to ensure these are high-quality links from trusted and well-liked websites, which is measured by a ‘domain authority’ score.  There are websites out there that will sell you hundreds or thousands of link listings at a seemingly low price, however, invariably these sold links are on poor quality websites with rock-bottom domain authority and Google may penalise you for this. As well as link building, off-site SEO includes social signals (your presence across the social media channels) and local signals, which applies to all businesses with premises or local audience.

Organic vs paid rankings

There are two ways to get to the top of Google.  The first is organic SEO – this is the on-site and off-site work we have just described and this will gradually (organically) increase your rankings.  The second way to get to the top of Google is to pay for advertising.  This is called Pay Per Click, or PPC.  You decide which keywords you would like to rank for and Google will give you a price for that keyword, put you to the top of the page and then charge you every time someone clicks on your listing.  The price per click varies, but evidence suggests that across all industries, the average click cost is about £2.07.  As a rule of thumb the more popular the keyword, the more expensive it will be because more people are searching for this term, and it also varies across industries.

Monthly spend on PPC can build up to the hundreds (or even thousands) quite quickly, and you need to make sure you are making this money back in the sales it brings in, so this approach isn’t for everybody.  It can be part of a strategy alongside organic SEO, but we firmly believe that all businesses should also (or solely) be doing SEO.

Why all businesses should be doing SEO

Imagine you and all your competitors are at the starting line of a race.  Every time one of them updates their website or uploads a blog post, they take a step forward.  Every time someone else likes their content and links back to it, they take another step forward.  They get a great review on Google or Trustpilot – another step forward. Some of these businesses are taking hundreds of steps forward every month.  Meanwhile, you are doing nothing and getting left further and further behind.

This is how SEO works.  In the good old days of early Google, it was possible to hit the top spot by accident, or with almost no effort at all.  “Hurrah!” thought those lucky few.  The smart ones kept working on their content and kept their pole positions.  Others rested on their laurels and quickly got overtaken.  The days of ‘accidentally’ getting to the top of Google are long gone – when you do a Google search and see the person in the top spot they have got there by sheer and continuous hard work on SEO.

And all the evidence suggests that the effort is worthwhile.  If you work on your organic SEO, not only will you edge yourself ahead of the competition organically but it will get you more traffic and a higher quality of leads as people inherently trust Google, and those that are at the top of Google are also trusted.  It is also ‘free’ – you will need to spend time on your content writing etc and may choose to pay a specialist to do some/all of the SEO work for you, but you can benefit from an unlimited number of free clicks through to your website without having to foot the PPC bill.

How much SEO should I be doing?

SEO isn’t something you only do once, it is a long-term strategy.  A solid SEO strategy will mean you doing small amounts of regular SEO work on an ongoing basis.  The amount you need to do will depend on what your industry is, what keywords you want to rank for and how much work your competitors are doing.  But you need to be doing something, regularly.  The results of a well-implemented strategy will mean your rankings will increase as time goes on and if Google picks up and rates one of your pages highly this can yield results for months, or even years.

Can I do this myself or do I need an SEO-specialist?

There is regular SEO work that you can do yourself.  You can update your website content, write blog posts, promote your business on social and build backlinks.  All of these are great practices.  However, Google ultimately decides how highly to rank each of your pages for specific search terms.  It is believed by industry experts that Google uses over 200 different factors when deciding how to rank your website and pages.  An SEO-specialist will be able to do a thorough analysis of both your website and your competitors’ websites, tell you your domain authority score (and your competitors) and help you come up with a much more focussed strategy.  This will let you know what type of content you should be producing, how much of it, what keywords you should be using, how many mentions they need, what your social strategy should look like and how you should be building backlinks.  This more focussed strategy will stand a better chance of success.  An SEO-specialist will also be able to provide you with monthly reports which closely analyse your progress and that of your competitors so that you can use this evidence to constantly adjust and improve your strategy.

What is SSL and Why is it Important?

What is SSL and why is it important?

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is currently the industry standard for encrypting traffic sent between the web server and web browser. Its primary use is to prevent sensitive information such as customer details and credit card information from being read by an unintended third party. By not having an SSL you may deter potential security-conscious customers from using your website.

Other notations we use when referring to website security are:

  • HTTP – the default protocol for browsing webpages.
  • HTTPS – the secure version of HTTP, tells the webserver to communicate using the SSL certificate.

So how do you know if a website is secure? Usually, the easiest way is to check this is if the address bar has a green padlock in it, this means that the website has an SSL certificate and is loading the content securely. It can vary from browser to browser but there should always be a green padlock somewhere there.

Some websites may have an SSL certificate but not automatically tell your browser to load the page via HTTP, you can check by changing the HTTP part of the address to HTTPS. Some websites may be configured to redirect you back to HTTP automatically. If it is successful, you will be directed to the secure version of the website and you’ll either see a green padlock or one of the following:

Red Padlock or HTTPS crossed out – The page has attempted to load securely but does not have an SSL certificate. It may also pop up with a warning in some browsers.

Yellow Padlock or No Padlock – The Website has an SSL but is loading some resources insecurely, it might be an image, a JavaScript library, external resources from a website which doesn’t have SSL set up, any number of things.3

Not Secure – Chrome and Chromium-based browsers as of recent have put a larger focus on SSL certificates with one of the more recent updates (Chromium 62), adding a “Not Secure” message in the address bar of websites which lack an SSL certificate. This occurs when the user starts entering data on a page loaded via HTTP, for example in a contact form or checkout. [1]

What types of SSL are there?

There are three different types of SSL certificate Extended Validation (EV SSL), Organization Validated (OV SSL) and Domain Validated (DV SSL).

Domain Validated (DV SSL)

This is a simple certificate that just validates a domain, it ensures that the information is encrypted but since it does not have company information it doesn’t identify who is on the other end. It is quick and cheap to obtain since it doesn’t require any additional information, it is the most common type of certificate we set up.

Organization Validated (OV SSL)

Similar to the Domain Validated but this requires some company information to be submitted, this information is displayed in the certificate if the user wishes to confirm it; however, just displays the green padlock in the browser like the Domain Validated one. It’s a bit more expensive and takes longer since the information needs to be submitted to the Certificate Authority (CA) for vetting.

Extended Validation (EV SSL)

Extended Validation certificates are the newest and provide the greatest level of authentication, unlike the previous two this one displays the company name in the address bar next to the padlock and requires a large amount of verification, for this reason, it takes the longest and costs much more than the previous two.

Consider what you really need for your website when buying, the Extended Validation SSL looks very professional but is not really necessary for small businesses or blogs. Also, if you have multiple domains and/or subdomains, upgrades to multi-domain and wildcard SSL’s will increase the price.

If you are interested in getting an SSL certificate, then feel free to submit an enquiry online or call us on 0333 444 3551 to have a chat!

Note: We can only set these up on websites hosted on our servers if you have other hosting you’ll need to contact that provider.

Ten Reasons Why Website Visitor Tracking Software Can Enhance Your Business Performance

B2B Website visitor tracking is becoming increasingly popular for companies looking to add value for sales and marketing in a world where digital marketing and online presence are so vital for success.

Many organisations will incorporate Google Analytics and do business with those that get in touch with them directly.

But when you consider that around 95% of your daily website visitors will leave your site have not made contact with you, it places you in a restricted position where you have the insight that there are lots of companies exploring your service, but you’ve got no actionable leads to follow up with.

Here are ten reasons why using a platform which can identify the companies coming on to your website and displaying their journey, can enhance your business’ performance going forward.

1 – Additional leads

Most obviously, website visitor tracking software is going to provide you with additional leads which you would never have been able to access otherwise.

These leads may be of all different qualities and strengths but it is more opportunities for your sales team members to work with and monitor, which can only be a positive aspect.

Coming on to the dashboard every morning and approaching the companies whose metrics appear to be showing lively activity is a simple but extremely effective way to instigate new business.

2 – Monitor leads in your sales process

Alternatively to leads which you would never have had, the leads which you are attempting to progress through your funnel can also be tracked using a website visitor software to identify when they are returning to your site for further inspection.

By setting a trigger alert on a specific company, or by adding them to a custom category, you can see exactly when they are visiting, which pages they have looked at and for how long they might have been browsing. This can be for any page such as pricing, billing or particular products/services. Therefore you can instinctively get a feel for when a follow-up might be most appropriate.

3 – Automation

The beauty of website visitor tracking software is that many of the benefits are automated, saving you time to work on separate projects and tasks until the vital moment.

All data is real-time and automatically filtered into an organised dashboard, and once you have set up you customised triggers and categories, the system will structure the relevant instructions without your intervention for ultimate convenience.

4 – Demographical insights

The demographical insights from website visitor tracking can be amazingly useful for discovering new markets and areas which you can include in your ideal customer profile or monthly reports.

Seeing that you are receiving frequent website visits and interest from a certain country can qualify that it might be worthwhile intensifying your marketing output in that region.

5 – Learn more about your website performance

You will be able to see which pages are getting strong quantities of traffic and those which are not. Therefore you can take the action to improve the visualisation of the underperforming page in order to increase interaction.

6 – Align your sales and marketing departments

Website visitor tracking software can act as a hub for both your sales and marketing departments to feed on and work off. It offers value for each and information can be gathered, discussed and new direction planned from there.

7 – See your competition movements

Website visitor tracking tools will enable you to watch your competition’s movements on your website.

This might give you an idea into what they are planning for their next move or it can just be nice to know they are checking you out because you are a threat to them.

By setting a trigger to their business, you will see all of their activity going forward on your site and be informed of their instant arrival on any landing page which you choose.

8 – Enhance your marketing campaign results

You can add value to all of your marketing campaigns by putting a business name to the traffic which derives from it. Especially your paid marketing efforts. You are able to collect a genuine contact rather than empty traffic numbers which may or may not convert. You now have the option to follow up or continue to market in their direction.

9 – Data reporting

Having a report of visiting companies available for monthly or weekly reports can be a vital piece of data. And, of course, these can be customised to your exact needs and requirements.

A Zapier integration allows you to sync into 100’s of everyday tools meaning your website visitor tracking data is far more conveniently used and adaptable to the way in which you work. Data reporting and sales processing could not be easier.

10 – Amazing ROI

With the price at which is charged for access to website visitor tracking software, when used correctly and efficiently, you will comfortably receive a return on your investment, month after month. Long-term proving to be a worthwhile tool for business success.

Is it time to turbocharge your website?

Google is currently on a mission to make the internet more accessible – especially for mobile users, in their valiant effort to do so, they’ve started penalising websites that take ‘too long’ to load. This means that if your website has a lot of large images and takes ages to display properly – your Google ranking is likely to take a hit. Not only that, but users will tend to get frustrated by slow websites, with the standard of websites ever-increasing, user experience is king.

How to check if your site is too slow

Fortunately, Google has created a nifty tool that ranks your website out of 100 in terms of page speed. You can access this tool by going to their PageSpeed Insights page, pop in your web address and click Analyze. To quote Google themselves, “a higher score is better” so you want to get as close to 100 as possible.

Don’t understand the tool or want to increase your score?

Don’t worry if you don’t understand or don’t know what you need to do to improve – we’re here to help. Our team of web designers and developers know just what to do to tickle Google in all the right places. Give us a call on 01223 902 701 or send an email to [email protected] to find out how we can help.

Top 3 Fundamental Google Mistakes

Here are my favourite features of our Google Fundamentals Package that in my experience are the most likely to be overlooked:

1. Submit your website to Google Search Console
Want Google to index all of your pages? Make sure Google knows about them by submitting a valid sitemap through Google Search Console. We can do this for you, ask how.

2. Claim your Google My Business Page
Search for our company name: “MyWork“. Notice the big area on the right dedicated just to our business? This didn’t cost us anything, Google put it there for free because we correctly setup our Google My Business Page. Let us set this up for you.

3. Mention your services on your homepage
Google needs to read the words you want to rank for on your website. For example, if you’re wanting to rank for “plumbing south side” you need the terms “plumbing south side” to be included on the page you’re looking to rank. This may seem obvious, but it is incredibly common to see this vital step overlooked. We can do this for you, ask how.

Give us a call on 0333 444 3551 or drop us an email if you need help with any of the above.

3 ways to boost your website rankings

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your organic (free) search engine results. It is a massive topic and there are whole companies that focus exclusively on SEO tools, techniques and applications as their core business. Most people have heard about SEO and know how important it is but may not be sure what it means or how it all works. The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics and provide some direction for those who want to improve their rankings.

After putting considerable time, effort and expense into your website it can be very frustrating if it doesn’t rank well with search engines and therefore can’t be found. If your website is buried amongst the thousands of others out there, then potential new customers could be lost to your higher-ranking competitors. There are many different reasons for poor search engine rankings and some can be easily identified and resolved if you know what to look for.

The most common culprits and the first three things to check are:

  1. Content
  2. Links
  3. Site structure

1) – Content: There have been radical changes in the way that Google ranks websites recently, due to two major upgrades (Penguin & Panda) and many subsequent minor ones. Fresh high-quality content has always been important, but more recently it has become fundamental to achieving optimum page rankings. The whole point is to direct users to the best possible source, of the latest information, for the search query that they entered. For example, if a user keys in ‘website design Auckland’ then the sites that have the most recent content, with the most relevant information, and multiple mentions of the key search word or phrase will rank the highest on the page (amongst many other factors).

To improve and maintain high rankings it is important to keep your website content up to date. Page content should contain the relevant keywords and be updated on a regular basis, in particular, the home page. Blogs are a great way to do introduce fresh content, and new pages (ideally the blog would be on the same website address as your page, i.e not on Blogger or Blogspot etc). Blogs also act as a powerful tool to help communicate with your customers and keep them updated with changes in your company and industry.

2) – Site structure: Technical issues can affect how well your site ranks. Google uses what’s called the Googlebot, sometimes also referred to as a ‘spider’ to crawl your website and determine where to place it in the rankings. It is important to ensure that your website content is structured well for Google and any crawl errors are identified and quickly resolved. Cluttered code that is difficult for Google to read will slow down the crawl process and impact your website rankings. One way to ensure that your site is Google friendly is to check it against the latest W3C Web Standards. Quality web developers build websites within W3C guidelines making things very easy for search engines such as Google. To determine if your site is compliant with these standards you can go to http://validator.w3.org/ key in your URL and run the check.

3) – Links: Google has always been big on linking, information sharing generally is key to the philosophy of how Google works. In fact, an earlier version of Google was called ‘Backrub’ and sites with more ‘inbound’ links are still heavily favoured. There are different kinds of links; inbound, outbound and internal links and they all impact SEO.

Inbound links are particularly valuable as each one is essentially a vote of confidence for your site; some are much more influential than others. Internal links are hyperlinks from different pages within the same website. Internal links to relevant, related topics are important to help optimise your website for search engines. It’s almost like creating a map or a path for the Googlebot to follow within your website structure. Internal links also allow easy access to each page to ensure all content can be ‘crawled’ and therefore contribute to your page rankings. It is also very important to consider the ‘anchor’ text, which is the text inside the link, and ensure that keywords are positioned here. For example: “Our recent blog on responsive website design suggests”… Outbound Links are links to other websites and can often ‘bleed’ search bots and can negatively impact your page ranking ( PageRank) if not done correctly.

Finally, if your website is not getting good search results for your selected keywords, there is a lot that you can do to improve the situation. Investigating the three areas mentioned above would be a good start and could have a major impact on your search results. The issues could be easily resolved and therefore worth a try before resorting to other more expensive options. NB: There are many many pitfalls with SEO and sometimes a seemingly harmless change (like overstuffing keywords on a page) can have negative repercussions with search engines, so consider all changes carefully.