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It should come as no surprise to learn that at Zool we have earned the Google Partner badge – after all, it is on the front page of our website, and on the footer of every other page. But what does being a Google Partner mean for us, and why should it make a difference to you?

What does a Google Partner Badge mean?

Our partner badge means we are a full service marketing agency who have employees who are certified in Google AdWords, have maintained a certain level of spend in AdWords for 90 days, and we are continuously meeting Google’s standards.

So, the fact that we are Google Partners means that we not only demonstrate knowledge and high performance in paid ads through AdWords but also that we are able to manage paid ads for a variety of clients successfully. Being a Google Partner ensures that we have received training which allows us to help businesses grow online, meaning we can offer you not only exceptional customer service but also a competitive advantage to other agencies.

But exactly what will it mean to you to work with us?

#1 Work with a company who are certified experts

The fact that we have achieved Google Partner status means that you get to work with people who have current Google AdWords knowledge and who meet Google’s strict standards for account management best practice.

#2 Work with a company who are masters of AdWords

In order to achieve Google Partner status, we have to know Google AdWords inside out!  This includes knowledge of ad extensions, ad scheduling, broad match modified keywords, phrase match keywords, split testing with AdWords and so on. Plus, we also need to know how to use them in a way that is profitable for you, the client.

#3 Get the inside track on new features

Google Partners like us have early access to Google’s beta features which means that when Google design a new application or function, we will be able to use and test this feature up to 12 months before the general public. This means that you get access to new Google marketing features months before your competitors do.

#4 Work with an Agency who has up to date knowledge

As we mentioned above, if we want to keep our Google Partner status, we need to refresh our understanding continually, and pass exams in such areas as AdWords Fundamentals, Display, Mobile Advertising, Search, Shopping, and Video. So, our Google Partner badge means that you are working with an agency who have the most up-to-date knowledge of PPC and the best strategies to use for success.

#5 Working with an Agency who only use best practice

Google encourages its AdWords partners to show that they are continually using best practice when it comes to ads – including doing split testing to ensure we are attracting the most significant volume of customers to your site and also making sure we have multiple ads in each campaign group with different keywords and messages targeted.

So, when you work with Zool, you know that you are not only working with an Agency who is partnered with Google and not only lives up to their high standards but who also offer you our guarantee of the highest quality service as well.

The post What does our Google Partner status mean for you? appeared first on Zool.

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So, in case you hadn’t realised, last night the Zool Team attended the Talk of Manchester Business Awards, and what a night it was. With 31 categories and Zool up for two awards – it was set to be a great night!

Best Invoice Factoring Provider (sponsored by The Boardroom)

The Nominees for this award were: ALG Finance, Bibby Financial Services, Orchard Finance Solutions, Positive Cashflow Finance, and Ultimate Finance. The winner was: Bibby Financial Services

Best Corporate Finance (Sponsored by The Boardroom)

The Nominees for this award were: Bennett Verby, FRP Advisory, Grant Thornton, Kay Johnson Gee, and Pomegranate Commercial Finance. The winner was: Pomegranate Commercial Finance

Best Boutique Accountancy Practice (Sponsored by Hatters)

The Nominees for this award were: Edwards Veeder (UK),  In Accountancy, Jon Child & Co, and Langricks Accountants. The winners were: In Accountancy.

Best Accountancy Practice (Sponsored by Venom IT)

Alexander Knight & Co, Bennett Verby, Clarke Nicklin, Kay Johnson Gee, Pomegranate Consulting, Tree Accountancy and Williamson & Croft LLP were all nominated for this award. A special commendation was awarded to Kay Johnson Gee:

and the overall winner was: Tree Accountancy

Best Event Management Company (Sponsored by The Boardroom)

Assured Events, Beyond 90, Brown Bear Events, Connectin Events, Just Watch Events, Ledigo PR, Make Events, Purple Riot, and Tracy Lavin Events were the Nominees, and a special commendation was awarded to Assured Events:

with the overall winner being: Tracy Lavin Events:

Best Business Insurance (Sponsored by The Boardroom)

Buckland Harvester, Crompton Bailey, Insure Risk and LIFT-Insurance were all up for this award, and the winners were LIFT-Insurance:

Best PR Agency (Sponsored by Venom IT)

There was a lot of competition in this group, with nominees including Context Public Relations, Ledigo PR & Events, Lex Rex Communications, Philosophy PR,  Purple Riot, RMS, Roland Dransfield PR, Rumpus PR, Social Sugar, Sugar PR, The Harris Group, The Vault Group, Thirty 30 Media, Toast PR and Vital Management and Publicity. A special commendation was handed to Toast PR:

The Award for Best Events PR went to LediGO:PR

The overall winner though was the team over at Rumpus:

Best Law Firm (Sponsored by Run2)

Another popular group, the nominees for best law firm included Ashwood Solicitors, Boote Edgar Esterkin Ltd (Bootes), Brandsmiths, HCC Solicitors, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, JMW Solicitors LLW, Latitude Law, McHale & Co, Regent Solicitors, Slater Heelis LLP,  Trowers & Hamlins, Turner Parkinson, and Ralli Solicitors. The winners were JMW Solicitors LLW.

Best Personal Injury Law Firm (Sponsored by Run2)

The Nominees for this award were Ashwood Solicitors, HCC Solicitors, Howard’s & Henry’s Solicitors, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Khan Mather Solicitors, and Ralli Solicitors. The winners were Khan Mather.

Best Conveyancing Law Firm (Sponsored by Venom IT)

Nominated in this group were Connells, Gorvins Solicitors, JMW Solicitors LLP, and LPL Property Lawyers (A Division of Read Roper & Read). The winners were Khan Mather.

Best Family Law Firm (Sponsored by Venom IT)

The Nominees were BPS Family Law, Evolve Family Law, Hall Brown Family Law, McAlister Law Firm, Maguire Family Law and Merrick Solicitors. The winner was Hall Brown Family Law.

Best Video Production Company (Sponsored by Run2)

Nominees in this category included Bank of Creativity, Basement Multimedia, Bellyflop TV, Reels in Motion, Rob Whitrow, Standby Studios, Sugar PR, The Gate Films, and WhiteNoise Media and the winners were Whitenoise.

Best IT Support Company (Sponsored by The Boardroom)

The Nominees for Best IT Support Company were Comcare Technology, Everything Tech, LEAP Legal Services, Midshire Business Systems North West, OneTek Business Solutions Ltd, San IT, Seamless Technologies, Stonegate Technologies, Tech Align and Venom IT. The winners were Eventura.

Best SME Support Business (Sponsered by Khan Mather)

Another hotly contested category with Nominees including ALG Finance, Arena Creative, Horgan Legal Limited, LEAP Legal Services, Making You Content, Mandata Contracts Limited, Marmalade Marketing, Matthews & Godman, MiPA, and MSCT Training. The winners were MiPA.

Best Brand Agency (Sponsored by Khan Mather)

The nominees for this award were BGN Agency, Noir, The Harris Group, Thirty 30 Media, and Trust Brand Communications, and the winners were: Noir.

Best Full Service Agency (Sponsored by jam)

Nominees in this group included 9y Creative, BIG Partnership, C21 Creative Communications, CTI Digital, Dawn Creative, One Brand Magic, Onside Creative, Purple Riot, RMS, Thirty 30 Media, Think Design Manchester, and Seventy7. The winners were Thirty30.

Best Digital Agency (Sponsored by RWE Genesys)

This is the award that we have won two years on the run so we had everything crossed. Nominees were ActiveWin Media, Ampersand, Bring Digital, Candid Sky, Cantarus, CTI Digital, Different Gravy Digital, Dreamr, Electric Circus, Icebox Designs Ltd, Platform 81, Pole Star Digital, Nine Yards Creative Communications, Trust Brand Communications, Ultimedia, Zool (That’s us!) The winners were Zool!!! Yes, we won again – for the third year on the run!

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A lot of focus of many marketing businesses these days is digital marketing– basically anything that is done online. However, printed materials such as banners are still an essential part of the mix and always will be, no matter how technology develops. A brave statement you may think, but not really, as it is based on two facts about printed material:

  • They are straightforward
  • They are highly effective

Printed banners are a particularly useful form of advertising as they can be used in a variety of locations, and they have proven to be really successful in attracting new customers and getting company’s brand names out there. Here are some of the benefits of using printed banners:

Audience Engagement

One of the best ways to get customers interested in your business is to interact with them in some way. Banners are an excellent way to do this as they are a subtle way to introduce the customer to your business when they take notice of your banner. Customers these days are really savvy and don’t want to be overly sold to, and so using a printed banner is a great way to make them aware of your company and the services you provide while allowing them the option to make the decision to find out more by themselves. A well-designed banner will help to entice a customer in.

Similarly, banners are also a great way to target different customers and different audiences – which is great for businesses with more than one target market. Banners are great value for money, and you can produce different ones with varying messages on so that they are more effective in the long run. Of course, the branding and company theme should stay the same, so that the messages are not confusing.

Branding

Your business branding is a great way to impact on your customer base and an ideal opportunity to send them an impactful message. You could focus on a unique selling point of your business or use a memorable image which they will then associate with your company.

Brand Reinforcement

As long as you get permission, you can literally put your banner anywhere there is high traffic of potential customers. You can also leave your banner up for an extended period of time so that new customers can see it every day, and existing customers also see it time and time again. This reinforcement will not only help them to remember your company’s name, but also the services you offer and so they are more likely to remember your company when they need one of your services.

Credibility

Every business wants to make a good impression on their customer base, and one way to do this is through effective advertising. Using a top-quality banner as part of your marketing mix will help you project a degree of professionalism and credibility.

Effectiveness

One of the main benefits of a printed banner is how effective it is. They are not easy to miss, and so customers are likely to take notice of them as they will catch their eye. Well-designed banners will give your business the best chance to attract more customers and so the design should always be taken into account. Wording should be kept as simple as possible so that customers can easily understand them, and they get a good idea of what your company is about without having to spend a long time reading them.

Reusable

As we have said in the point above, banners can be placed in lots of different areas – at exhibitions, in reception areas, in the corridor that leads to the work canteen and so on. They can also be left for months at a time (as long as you have permission). This means that printed banners are very cost effective and they can have a very positive effect on sales and therefore profits.

As you can see, banners are a very effective method to promote your business when they are used correctly, so it is essential that you use an experienced company to do the design as they are something that the customer will associate with your business for a long time.

The post Printed Banners: Are They Still Worth It? appeared first on Zool.

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As we have talked about before, we are starting to notice a difference in the way that people are consuming content – and this Is having an effect on SEO services. The rise in the use of technology, specifically mobiles, means that people now want to consume content quickly while they are out and about – and Google is starting to sit up and take notice of this trend. In fact, they are even beginning to have an impact on it with the introduction of ‘Google Discover’ which is set to take the place of ‘Google Search.’

What is Google Discover?

Most people’s understanding of Google search is that it operates on queries and returns results that are based on what the user was searching for. Which was true – until last year. Actually, the change started back in December 2016, when Google updated its app by introducing a series of cards which were aimed at ‘helping you stay organised and in the know about the things that matter to you.’  The user’s feed was therefore organised in a way that kept them updated on their interests such as entertainment, news and sports. This information was delivered to users as soon as they opened the app before they even started searching for anything – so you could use the Google app even if you didn’t know what you were looking for.

Then in July 2017, Google updated the app again, using their machine algorithms to anticipate better what its users found interesting and important, which they called The Feed. And now, Google is updating The Feed and calling it Discover. Three fundamental shifts drove this change in search:

  • the shift from answers to search journeys
  • the shift from the text-based search to the visually inspiring.

Let’s now take a closer look at the way Google Discover differs from the old feed:

Content Headers

Google seems to be following in Instagram’s footsteps with the introduction of content headers. What Google is trying to do with this is to discover more about what you are interested in – without you having to search for it.  If you click on one of the content topics that Google has pre-loaded for you, then you will see other content that relates to that topic. You also have the option to ‘follow’ that topic which will signal to Google that you are indeed interested in this topic.

Long Lasting Content

When Google focused on The Feed, it concentrated on news cycles – so you saw the most recent news and sports events first, for example. The difference with Discover is that it also highlights long-lasting content, also known as evergreen content.  So, when you are searching for information on the next place you want to travel to, for example, Google Discover will show you articles related to the best sights to see or places to eat – and these may be from a couple of months ago, but they are still relevant to you. Google is cottoning on to the fact that the best answer for a query is not necessarily the most recent answer.

Google’s other project, the Knowledge Graph, is also useful for the Feed as it helps Google to get a better understanding of your knowledge of the topic you are looking at so that it can serve you articles pitched at your level of expertise.

Personalisation, but not overly personalised

Google gives you an option to tell them if a topic is really interesting to you, or you are not interested in it at all – however it is easier to tell them what you are interested in than what you aren’t. You can self-cater your preferred content in general, but Google will still try to offer you a variety of perspectives as well.

A new homepage

Although many people use the Google app, there are also fair few that also use the Chrome or Safari app instead – which means that they won’t have the chance to interact with Discover. Until now, that is! Google has just rolled out Discover as their new mobile homepage meaning you can now start your search via Discover or through a query as you are used to.

So, is this a good change from Google or not? We can see why Google is going down the route of trying to be more like Facebook and Instagram: after all, the majority of people spend the majority of their time online on these sites. But at the end of the day, Google was designed as a search engine. People still want to be able to ask it a question and be given an answer – without having to scroll through a ton of information. Google Discover is still new and developing, and so it is probably too early to say. We will keep an eye on it though, and let you know.

The post An Introduction to Google Discover appeared first on Zool.

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We have focussed a lot on content recently, which most people think covers the written word. However, just concentrating on words is not enough to get shares of your content or even solid links: you need to use visual content to achieve that. Statistics show that:

  • Over 65% of the world’s population is composed of visual learners – who need charts, diagrams, graphs and models to help them to process the information they are reading.
  • Humans process visual data better – in fact, 90% of the information that is passed to the brain is visual.

So, what types of visual content can you use to help your content to be seen?

#1 Images

If you are producing blogs on subjects within your niche, then you should be breaking up text with high quality, compelling images which entice your audience to carry on reading your post. As humans, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, thanks to the oversaturation of digital content out there; therefore, big blocks of text are a real turn off for the majority of people.

  • Search Engine Journal recently revealed that their research had shown that the articles they posted with images in received 94% more views than those without images
  • They also found that tweets with images received 150% more retweets than those without
  • Buzzsumo also had similar findings for Facebook, stating that photo posts experienced 2.3x more engagement than those posts without photos

So, now you are convinced of the value of images, what sort of images can you use?

  • Image quotes always go down well as long as they are educational, motivational or even just funny! Come up with your own quote or find one from an influencer – just remember to keep them helpful and practical.
  • Emotional images that capture a mood, feeling or lifestyle without you having to write anything else can be truly exceptional – anything that surprises your audience (in a good way) or makes them curious to find out more will always generate more click-throughs
  • Questions and puzzle images tend to get shared a lot as people want to challenge their friends and family.

Screenshots

These differ to images, as they can give your potential customers a quick overview of the functions of your service – a first-hand idea of how your service works and also helping to boost your brand creditability. For example, if you are promoting an app, you can use screenshots to prove that your app does what it says it does. To increase the likelihood of your screenshot being shared, you could accompany it with a witty caption or add some notes to give a deeper understanding of how your service works.

Of course, screenshots are still images as well, therefore come with all the benefits mentioned above.


Memes (pronounced meems)

Memes are everywhere these days and are defined as images that are accompanied by a funny caption – get it right and you could quite quickly go viral. Memes are great for generating positive feelings towards your business from your target audience, but you need first to make sure that your target audience will respond favourably to them.

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to present more complex data to your audience in a way which they will find more understandable. They need to be done well, with the right combination of colours, fonts and shapes to make sure the information is clearly conveyed. Again, if your infographic connects with your readers, it will get shared and attract backlinks too. If you want to boost further your chances of getting it shared, then add a short introduction to it.

Presentations

Now when you think about presentations and slides, you probably think about board meetings, but they are also an excellent tool to use online – with sites such as SlideShare making them easy to upload. Using slides can help you to break down a lot of complex information into smaller chunks that are easier to understand. Again, like infographics, they depend on colour and design to get the message across, and they should be uncluttered and clear. They should also contain information that is practical for the reader, and actionable as well.  Colour, design and font should be consistent across all slides so that the message stays streamlined.

Video

Video content is still one of the most effective ways of educating your customer about your product or service in a way that is engaging and entertaining. It will take more time and effort than other image options, but there are a lot of statistics out there to show why it is worth doing. For example, Animoto found that four times as many consumers prefer watching a product video to reading about it. Hubspot also found that landing pages with a video achieved an 80% increase in conversions than those without a video. It is the same for social media as well, with organic posts containing videos having an organic reach of 8.71%.

The use of videos can offer significant benefits for your business, but you need to be selective about the type of videos you use in order to make sure they enhance your brand. You could use customer testimonials, product demonstrations, explainer videos with animations or even how-to videos – the choice is endless.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of visual content available to you to help boost your marketing campaign. The popularity of visuals is probably due to them helping audiences to interpret visual content more easily than text.

If you want to include some properly executed graphics and other visual content in your next campaign, then we are here to help. Talk to us today about images, slides and even videos.

The post Why is Visual Content so Important? appeared first on Zool.

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We talk a lot about algorithms on this blog, and what SEO strategies we can use to help our clients’ websites to rank better. However, although it is important for you to know what strategies we are using, it is also worth knowing exactly how the algorithm works in the first place. This will not only help you to understand why we are using the strategies we are but also what we are trying to accomplish and how.

What is an Algorithm?

If you search the term ‘algorithm’ and ask Google to define it, the answer you will get is: ” a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.”

It is not entirely clear really, but what it does tell us is that contrary to popular belief, an algorithm is not a formula. In fact, the easiest way to really understand what an algorithm is is to think of it as a recipe.

If we think about a good old-fashioned Sunday roast, for example, the meat portion of this recipe needs to be seasoned well and cooked for just the right amount of time. Seasoning the meat is one formula, calculating the temperature and length of time the meat needs to be cooked for is another formula, and so on and so forth.  Gathering the formulas together for all of the items on our plate would give us an algorithm for creating the end meal. We might then decide to add another formula which would take into account the number of different foods I want on my plate, and then perhaps add a formula for each person who is joining us at the table as they will all want different things.

But what do these formulas and algorithms have to do with search engines?

If we take a look at a few of the core characteristics of a website, such as content, images, page speed, links and URLs, then each of these areas can be divided again using formulas or sub-algorithms. And this is another important point to grasp – although there is one over-riding algorithm, there are also many other formulas and algorithms covered by this as well. The chief algorithm’s job is, therefore, to determine how much weight it puts on each of the other formulas and algorithms in order to produce the final results we see on the Search Engine Results Pages.

What this means is that when we are talking about algorithms which impact search results we are generally talking about the under algorithms and not the main one. So, when we refer to Google’s algorithm, we are actually referring to a large number of formulas and algorithms it uses to determine rankings. These include:

  • The ‘Panda’ algorithm, released in February 2011, which was aimed at tackling content and probably included a lot of other algorithms within it.
  • The ‘Penguin’ algorithm, released in April 2012, which was aimed at addressing spam, which probably relies on data from other algorithms which look at the value of links and try to understand common link spam characteristics as well.
  • Algorithms that are task-specific, such as Document Relevance Ranking
  • Algorithms that organise information, such as keyword matching 

The use of Entities

So, now you have a better understanding of how algorithms work, now we need to think about entities. Google has started to focus quite heavily on entities, which it defines as: “A thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.’

In the past, Google has focused on assessing websites and pages as a collection of words, whereas this new focus means they can now more easily classify how websites interconnect and classify them as a whole.

This is important because in the past Google judged the relevance of a page to a search query by using word proximity, word density and other such elements which can easily be misinterpreted. However, with entities, either the page is about an entity or it isn’t – entities are far less open to interpretation.

So, back to the original question:

How do search algorithms work?

  • Context is important. When you hear about algorithm updates in the future, you should now understand that the thing that is being updated is just a small piece of the very large puzzle. Most algorithm updates are adjustments to certain aspects of websites and will fit into the main objective of the search engine in some way.
  • Entities are also important and becoming increasingly so. Understanding this should help you to write better content and work out which links to use as well.
  • Last but not least, User Intent is also key. At the end of the day, all of the changes to the algorithms that search engines make are concerned with producing the best search results for searchers.

If all this is a little confusing then don’t worry, we can help. As an award winning search engine optimisation agency based in Alderley Edge, we keep on top of every little tweak to the algorithms on our client’s behalf. Get in touch today to find out how we can do the same for you.

The post Everything you wanted to know about Search Engine Algorithms appeared first on Zool.

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SEO is changing. Identifying keywords and gaining links is still important but how we, a  search engine optimisation company optimise for these keywords has changed drastically. Just identifying keywords is no longer enough; now we need to have a deeper understanding of what these keywords really mean, what information we can provide that will really put these words into context, and also what exactly is the user’s intent when they search for these keywords. Welcome to the age of semantic search.

In this post, we will take a closer look at what semantic search means, what impact it is having on SEO and what we can do to optimise your content to take semantic search into account.

What is Semantic Search?

We have talked a little about semantic search in previous blogs, where we have mentioned Google’s recent algorithm updates and how they have been focused on user intent. The name given to this new focus is semantic search, and what it means is that the search engines are now trying to understand the relationship between words in the way that a human would.

For example, if you were having a conversation with a friend and asked them ‘what is the tallest building in the world?’ and then when they replied, you asked them, ‘Well how tall is it?’, they would know that the word ‘it’ is referring to the answer to the previous question, ‘Burj Khalifa.’ In previous years, search engines would not necessarily have known this though and would offer users results pages that related to the phrase ‘how tall is it?’, rather than ‘how tall is the Burj Khalifa’.

Therefore, semantic search means that search engines are now able to differentiate between people, places and things and can use search histories, user locations, global search history and spelling variations to determine a user’s search intent.

But how did semantic search develop?

History of Semantic Search

Back in 2012, Google started talking about the Knowledge Graph, which is essentially a vast database of public domain information and property entities. The Knowledge Graph is the basis for all the large-scale algorithm changes that have happened in the past few years. Take the Hummingbird Update, which rolled out in 2013; this was focussed on ensuring that pages which matched the meaning of what the searcher was looking for ranked better than pages that matched the keywords but not in the context of what the searcher was looking for.

In 2015, Google then went on to launch RankBrain, a system based on machine learning which offered smart query analysis AI and was also a ranking factor as well. It worked in a similar way to Hummingbird but also included the machine-learning component which hadn’t been used before. What the machine learning element does it to look for similarities between pages that searchers are finding useful, and continuously analyse them. Because it is always learning, Rank Brain may class a page on your site to be an excellent response for a searcher, even if your page does not contain the exact words that the searcher is looking for.

What does Semantic Search mean for SEO?

Semantic search has had a significant impact on SEO in recent months, with the main reason being the rise in the popularity of voice search. More and more people are using voice search on their mobile phones, as well as in their home, using Google Home and Amazon Smart Speakers. Creating content for voice search is very different from traditional content creation, as you need to make sure that it gets to the point immediately and is more conversational as well.

How to Optimise Content for Semantic Search

  • The first paragraph of any content you create should clearly and concisely answer a common query. You can then go into specifics in the rest of the post.
  • Use Schema structured data to help search engines understand your content and the context you are using your keywords in.
  • Instead of focussing on keywords, think more about broad topics in your niche that you can cover in depth and create original, high-quality comprehensive resources for your readers.
  • Technical SEO is as important as content when it comes to semantic search
  • Even with this move towards semantic search, Google’s search engine is still not smart enough yet to fully grasp meanings on its own, and so optimising your site in a way that will help it to understand your content is key to the success of your content:
  • Keywords still matter and so you should include them in your title tags, header tags, meta tags, URL and body text as long as this is done in a natural way
  • Authoritative link building is still important so make sure you are using proper internal linking structures and prioritise content that you think will naturally attract links to it
  • Eliminate redirects as much as you possibly can, and aim to get it down to at the most one per page.
  • Site speed has become more important recently, and so you should make sure your website speed is as fast as possible

To summarise, Google is getting better at understanding the context of content, the relationship between concepts, and user intent – so the content that you post on your website needs to be built with both people and search engines in mind. This can be a hard balance to strike, and so if you need help with that you know where to come! Call us on 01625 238 770 or email us at hello@zooldigital.co.uk.

The post Semantic Search: What is it and how does it affect content creation? appeared first on Zool.

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On August 1st, Google announced (via its SearchLiaison twitter account) that it had released a broad core algorithm update:

This was confirmed by many of the webmasters that we follow, as well as algorithm trackers such as SemRush:

Danny Sullivan, who is Google’s public search liaison charged with helping people to better understand search, and also helping Google to hear people’s feedback, confirmed that the update was a global one:

But he refused to elaborate any further than that:

What type of sites did this update impact?

When Google says ‘global’ they don’t just mean worldwide, they also mean every type of site and every niche could possibly be impacted. However, early data about the sites that had lost rankings after the update, seemed to point to sites in the health and medical niche, as well as so-called YMYL sites.

YMYL is a website/landing page classification mentioned in Google’s ‘Search Quality Rating Guidelines’ and stands for Your Money or Your Life. These are websites or pages which “can have an impact on your current or future wellbeing (physical, financial, safety, etc.)

Some examples of YMYL pages are:

  • Pages the offer advice on major life decisions, e.g. purchasing a home or vehicle, or parenting
  • Pages that offer advice on major life issues that may affect your finances or feelings of happiness, e.g. financial or legal advice
  • Pages that offer health or medical information that, if followed, could impact on your physical well being
  • Pages that are used for monetary transactions, e.g. pages that allow you to buy something when you enter your credit or debit card details
  • Pages that ask you to enter personal information that could possibly be used for identity theft, e.g. bank account details or driving licence details

Google seems to be focusing on these pages because the information contained on them could potentially have a negative effect on the health, finance or security of the person reading them. This theory is also backed up by the fact that Google recently made changes to their Google Quality Rater Guidelines for the first time in about 12 months. If you are not familiar with this document (which is 164 pages long!), it is a guide for Google’s search quality raters, who it uses to help evaluate its search results. Each rater is given a list of searches to conduct, which Google draws from all of the searches undertaken, and the rater then has to rate the quality of the pages that appear in the top results – following the Google Quality Rater Guidelines. These raters cannot alter the search results directly by marking the page as low quality; instead, the data that these reviewers generate is used by Google to improve their algorithms.

The changes that Google recently made to their quality search guidelines focused on content again, specifically EAT considerations – Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. In this extract from the guidelines, Google can be seen to be focusing more on sensitive content:

  • High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organisations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation.
  • High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
  • High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organisations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent a well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.

At first, web chatter seemed to focus on the thought that the sites that were most affected by this update were those in the medical and health sector. If we look at the figures since then, it was actually across the board. Let’s take a look at SemRush data for the day:

This seems to show that there were significant fluctuations across the majority of categories (except travel), and not just medical and health.

What can you do if you have been affected?

 So, we have covered what Google has said about the latest update, and what type of sites may have been affected. But what can you do if your site is one of the ones that was negatively affected?

Well, as Google themselves say, there isn’t actually a lot you can do:

As with all of the algorithm updates that Google has done recently, the signs are that you need to keep focusing on good quality content and a good user experience. We can help with all of this, of course, so please get in touch with us today for a discussion.

The post Quick Guide to the latest Google Algorithm Update appeared first on Zool.

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If you run a business and you are working hard at promoting it to the world, one of the tools you would use to do this is a print brochure. Print brochures are great, aren’t they? You can use them to tell people a lot about your business, you can post them or hand them out at events, and they are cost-effective. Right? Well, yes – to a point. But how do you know if anyone is reading them? And how do you calculate your return on investment?

If you are thinking of creating a brochure, or even updating your current print one, just stop and think for a minute. The world we live in today is increasingly a digital one, with people preferring to access news on their smartphones and tablets, so why not give them the option of interacting with your company brochure online as well? Not only is it a more sustainable option than using paper, but it will also give you much more insight into the reader’s behaviour and the impact it has on them.

Here are four reasons why we think your next brochure should be a digital publication:

Video Rather than Photography

There are some absolutely staggering video statistics out there, including:

  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week
  • One-third of online activity is spent watching video
  • 92% of mobile video viewers share the video with others
  • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined

If that doesn’t convince you that adding video to your interactive brochure is the way forward, then we don’t know what will! We can produce a video for you for a variety of reasons – a customer testimonial, a foreword from your director or even a product demonstration – the opportunities are endless.

Using video helps you to make your story really interesting and brings your company to life. Yes, you can include the ‘dry’ stuff that you want to get across, but then break it up with interesting videos and short stories to really illustrate what your business does and what value it can bring to customers.

More Insight into your Readers

We touched on this above, but when you send out a printed brochure you have absolutely no idea at all whether it is being read or not, and if it is being read, which pages are the most popular in it. With a digital brochure, you can not only track time spent reading the brochure, but also social shares, video plays, which page people exited the brochure on, and so on. You can also look at things such as which content was the most popular, and which pages no-one read – so you can tweak your content to give people more of what they like and less of what they don’t. You could also use this information to run a retargeting campaign, which will allow you to follow up on your readers’ interests at an individual level with content that is personalised to them.

More Interaction with your Readers

Online brochures can also really help you to interact more with your readers as you can do things such as insert a survey, ask them to fill in a form, get comments on your articles, and so on. You can also include links in the text which you can use to drive customers to your website or e-commerce store.

Not only that, an online brochure brings you the freedom to really ramp up the creative on your brochure design. Elements of motion on your pages or a spot of animation can really catch the attention of a reader and improve engagement with your brochure. And, as is the nature of online content, you have the opportunity to immediately update your content whenever you need to, rather than wait until your next print cycle – so it’s always up-to-date and relevant.

Other things you can do is encourage the collection of your customers’ emails and also drive your fan base on social media channels as well. This is a great way to build up your customer database.

Personalisation

With the advent of the internet, the amount of information that individuals have access to can sometimes seem overwhelming. The businesses that are succeeding in the modern world are those that are producing content which is high quality and relevant for their readers. When you create an interactive brochure it allows you to fine-tune your content to suit your readers.

Personalisation also dramatically increases the chance of your brochure actually being opened.

We’re not suggesting that you switch to digital as your only means of communication – there are pros and cons of both. If you are thinking about making the switch to digital publishing, then get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. You can call us on 01625 238 770 or email us at hello@zooldigital.co.uk.

The post Why Your Next Brochure should be an Interactive Brochure appeared first on Zool.

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We’ve talked a lot about VR recently as it seems to be slowly making its way into mainstream life with the development of more affordable and consumer-friendly virtual reality headsets. Many businesses are looking into how they can use this innovative technology to progress their business, through the use of augmented reality and the virtual reality experience allowing customers to experience places that only exist in a virtual world.

One of the fields of business that is leading the way in the use of virtual reality systems is the medical field, and technology is really making a difference in the lives of many patients already. Here are just some of the ways that VR is helping medical professionals:

Meditation

Stress and anxiety are quite common complaints nowadays for most people, and meditation has made a bit of a resurgence as a practical tool for people to use to help them to cope with this, and to banish panic attacks. One of the early forms of virtual reality is meditation apps – such as the Oculus Rift Guided Meditation VR app – which helps the user to take long breaths in and out by using their breath as the controller for the game. This way of controlling your breath helps to calm people down and also is helpful at allowing people to control their emotions better.

Pain Management

Researchers at the University of Washington Interface Technology Laboratory recently developed a VR experience which was specifically designed for burn victims. If you think about the recovery process for burn victims, it can not only be long, but extremely painful as well. Nurses have to undertake quite an intense wound care programme including removing staples and stitches, clearing away dead skin, cleaning wounds and so on. A lot of these actions are painful and so patients are usually given drugs to help ease the pain, but these can often not be enough.

What the researchers at the University of Washington did was develop a game called ‘SnowWorld’ which acts as a distraction while the treatment is being undertaken. It is a simple game which takes into account the fact that the patient is not only in a great deal of pain, but also probably heavily medicated. Users of the game score points by throwing snowballs at various frozen items, including penguins, snowmen and flying fish. What the game does is to overwhelm the pain pathways in the brain, thereby reducing the amount of pain felt while undertaking physically demanding tasks.

There have been many studies undertaken relating to SnowWorld and how effective it is at reducing the amount of pain felt in burn victims who are undergoing treatment. VR is working here, as it is not only reducing the amount of concentration the brain has on the pain, but it is also affecting the way that the brain is processing the pain signal.

Treatment of PTSD

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has been defined as ‘a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault,’ by the National Centre for PTSD in America. As you can imagine, many soldiers suffer from PTSD and it not only has an economic cost but also a personal and social burden. There have been decades of research on how to treat it, but there is still no real consensus on the best treatment for the psychological and psychosomatic symptoms.

One of the more recent treatments trialled is the use of Virtual Technology to help create the illusion of the patient interacting with a computer-generated environment. The sessions on the reality player are guided by a therapist who regulates the virtual scenario to ensure it doesn’t get too much for them. Early research has found that repeated exposure to a particular fear-inducing environment in the virtual world, has actually reduced the severity of PTSD symptoms. It has also been found to help patients to spot mental triggers that affect that behaviour in a way that can be destructive to themselves and others.

These are just a few examples of how VR is currently being used in the medical profession. We really believe that Virtual Reality can help improve many medical processes in the long term, not only with helping patients but also manufacturing and producing new products.

If you are interested in virtual reality and want to know how it can help your business, then please get in touch with us today. You can contact us by phone on 01625 238 770 or send an email to hello@zooldigital.co.uk.

The post Virtual Reality Technology for Medical Purposes appeared first on Zool.

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