Okay, so you’ve set up your own company. That’s a good start. You’ve invested in or made your own website and you’re pretty happy with it. Now it’s time to start thinking about SEO for your startup.
Businesses now have a much greater appreciation for search engine marketing and that’s probably because it’s a no-brainer. We are constantly seeing stats coming through about the great shift to shopping online, whether it be for basic consumer goods or professional B2B services. The simple fact is you need to appear in the search results if you want your startup business to take off.
We work on developing SEO strategies for a number of startups. One thing we often see is young companies who have invested a sizeable amount into their website, but just aren’t getting the traffic necessary to deliver results.
That’s because, unfortunately, the old saying “build it and they will come” doesn’t really apply here. As our own founder puts it, “having a good website and not marketing it is like waving in the dark: you know that you’re doing it, but no one can see you”.
There are, however, some simple things you can do from the very start to make sure that your website is well optimised for search engines. This gives you a good chance of appearing for key search terms, getting that valuable traffic and seeing a return on your website. Here is our basic guide to SEO for startups.
We’re going to assume that you already have a website and that you’ve used a content management system such as WordPress or Shopify (if you haven’t, get in touch and we can recommend a suitable web developer for you).
Before you even begin optimising your website, you need to know your consumer. It’s essential to have a firm grasp of the terminology people are using in search engines when they are looking for your product or service. To do this, you want to use a keyword tool to find out how many hits certain search terms receive each month.
We would recommend using:
Google’s Keyword Planner
To access the Keyword Planner, you will need to set up an Adwords account, create a campaign and enter your billing information to access this tool. However, you can pause the campaign before it even starts so that it doesn’t cost you anything.
You can enter different search terms that you think might relate to your business, and see how many people are searching for these on a monthly basis. This tool is also good for showing keyword trends, device breakdown, seasonality and more.
Moz’s Keyword Explorer
Again, you will need to run a free trial of Moz Pro to access Keyword Explorer. This tool is really helpful as it gives an indication of keyword difficulty, as well as suggesting additional keyword ideas.
Neither of these tools are perfect but if you start with some common sense keywords, they will help you identify where the search market for your product or service lies by exploring alternative words and phrases. It’s important to remember the relationship between search volume (how many hits a search term receives) and competition.
Generally speaking, the more hits a search term receives, the more websites there will be competing for that search term. This makes it more difficult to achieve a high ranking. But a high search volume doesn’t necessarily mean that the search term is high value to you.
Shorter tailed search terms tend to receive more hits but represent a much broader range of user intent. For example, if you have a self-catered holiday cottage to let in Devon, you are more concerned with people searching “self-catered holiday cottage in Devon”, even though it will receive fewer hits than “holiday cottage in Devon”. So, long-tailed search terms can be more relevant to your business and so, despite the lower search volume, will deliver higher-quality traffic.
However, make sure that the search terms you are targeting do actually receive some searches. You are trying to find the ideal balance between relevance, competition and search volume.
Once you have identified the search terms that you want to optimise your website for, you need to work on a content strategy. In basic terms, that simply refers to choosing which pages of the website to optimise for which search terms.
Search engines want to see a clear and tidy content structure on a website. For e-commerce websites, this is usually achieved naturally through product categories. However, for a brochure website, you want to split your services or products between different pages within the website. It’s difficult to optimise a single page for lots of different search terms so you need to choose your keyword categories carefully.
To do this, allocate relevant search terms to the logical and appropriate landing pages of the website and maybe dedicate the home page to the broader, higher volume search terms. We often find that this process requires people to rethink the layout of their website slightly, but often a new, dedicated page can quickly improve your ranking for a relevant set of search terms.
For peripheral search terms, you can optimise a series of blog articles to try and pick up additional traffic there. Blogs are a great way of creating additional web pages that can be optimised for search terms that are still relevant to your business but don’t quite fit in with your key landing pages.
Once you’ve got your content strategy laid out, it’s time to start optimising your content.
Two: Optimise your content
This is often the stage that people jump to without having properly planned their SEO strategy. Fortunately, if you followed our first step and produced a content strategy, this step will be relatively easy.
When it comes to optimising your web content, it helps to understand what the search engines are looking for when they are deciding which website ranks in those top positions.
The primary objective of the search engine is to understand the intent behind a search term and deliver the best possible websites that provide a solution to the user. In order to do this, the search engine sends out an army of bots (no, seriously) that will crawl your website to get an idea of what each page is about.
Then, when someone enters a search term, the search engine looks at the library of websites it has crawled (this is what we refer to as an index) and chooses the websites that it thinks can provide a solution to the searcher.
Example of the search results for ‘independent coffee shop london’. Here, Google has determined that the user wants to see a range of different options in an editorial-style article.
Therefore, you need to think about how to write your content so that it is relevant to the search terms that you are targeting. If your content is relevant, search engines will want to display your website to its users. There are, of course, many more elements to that selection process but this is an important one. If you’re looking for an accountant, a search engine isn’t going to give you a list of websites all about artisan coffee.
Writing your content
The criteria for optimised content changes constantly so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you begin. However, the general objective remains the same. If you follow these basic rules, you will be pretty much on the right track:
Search engines use various metrics to determine the readability of the content so ensure proper sentence structure and a good standard of spelling and grammar. It’s good to break up your copy with sections and headers which allow you to signpost what each piece of copy is talking about.
There has been a shift over the past few years towards rewarding pages with a substantial amount of text content. As a ballpark figure, aim for a minimum around 300 words in your main body of text. Break this up into different sections to avoid overwhelming your users.
Fortunately, search engines have got a lot better at identifying synonyms and so you don’t need to spam your copy with the exact keywords over and over. In fact, relying on keyword stuffing in your SEO will likely put your website at a disadvantage!
Instead, aim to include the exact keyword early on in the content and then use synonyms and semantic optimisation elsewhere in the text. Think of it as talking about a subject and answering user questions rather than just writing the same phrase over and over.
It’s also beneficial to use the keyword, or a variation of it, in the H1 heading of your page as this will instantly tell both the user and the search engine the context of the content.
Writing your meta-data
Meta-data, otherwise known as the page title and meta description, is the information that appears in the search results for a webpage.
For startups and less established brands, it is important that the search result for each of your pages looks professional and relevant, as this will invite users to click through.
It’s also important to take SEO into account when specifying the data for each page – if you include your keyword, the search engines will recognise this as a highly relevant result.
When optimising your meta-data for SEO, there is a basic set of rules you can follow:
Your page title should be descriptive, concise and include the keywords that best describe the content on that page. Aim for 50-60 characters in total and avoid using the same keyword(s) twice. Remember that this is the most prominent text in the search engine results page (SERP) so you want to engage the user and stand out from your competitors.
Your meta description appears on the search engine results page (SERP) and is the first opportunity you get to relay your brand message to your would-be consumer. First impressions count!
Keep this below 160 characters (including spaces), make sure to include your keywords and write something that will get the user’s attention. A well-written, flowing sentence is better than lots of snippets of information. It’s important to specify a meta description as Google will make up its own from the content of your landing page if you don’t and that often comes out messy, resulting in lost clicks.
You should also keep URLs structures neat and tidy and avoid having key landing pages more than 2 sub-folders into your website, that is, more than two ‘/’ into the URL. Ideally, you want your landing pages to be www.your-domain.com/landing-page/. Avoid using special characters as this is deemed negative for the user experience.
Now that you’ve optimised your content, you want to wave a flag at Google so that it recrawls your website and indexes the updated pages. To do this, you can use another tool in the Google toolbox – Google Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools. You can enter individual URLs into the ‘inspect’ box at the top of the tool and then choose to manually submit pages to the index.
For more information about using Google Search Console, you can read this guide.
Once your website is on track to start receiving more traffic, it’s also important to check that everything works properly and the sales flow (the path a user takes to a purchase or enquiry) is easy and quick to navigate. Next, you need to test your website.
Three: Test your website
Once you’ve got your would-be customers onto your website, you don’t want to lose them due to poor user experience (UX).
One of the biggest causes of drop-off on a startup business website is broken or bad functionality. That’s why it’s really important to work through the key elements of your website and make sure that everything works as it should. You also want to check that navigating the website is logical and easy.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool will run an analysis of your landing page and give a score for both desktop and mobile, with a breakdown of what can be improved. Generally, we find that this tool is quite strict and we’ve tested pages that load well under 2 seconds that have returned scores in the 70-80 region.
In the example below, even Google’s own blog returns an apparent ‘low score’ so don’t worry too much if your website is scoring in the region above 50. Some of the recommended actions to improve your score require some serious re-coding or restructuring.
That said, it’s still a good guide of how quick your landing page loads and you can also test your landing pages against your search competitors!
Since Google announced that more than half of all searches are carried out on mobile, it has put greater emphasis on rewarding mobile-friendly landing pages, including rolling out mobile-first indexing.
Fortunately, they have another tool to help which, unlike the PageSpeed Insights tool, returns a simple yes or no result. If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Shopify, it’s likely your website is mobile-friendly by default.
However, it’s always worth testing your web pages on a range of different devices. Even if your website is technically mobile-friendly and responsive, sometimes buttons and links may appear too small and difficult to use or your imagery might be spoilt due to the resizing process.
A common fault we come across is broken links. Not only is this bad for UX and spoils your conversion path, but broken links are identified by Google’s bots and can negatively affect your startup’s SEO efforts.
Broken links are easily created, even with a sophisticated CMS that automatically updates links. The tool we would recommend for identifying broken links is a simple Chrome extension called Check My Links. This tool allows you to quickly run a scan on a page and will flag any links that return a 404 error. You can then go into the backend of your site and fix these.
Finally, check that your conversion path is well thought-out and is easy to navigate. This is the path a user would take from landing on the website to making a purchase or enquiry. You need to provide clear call-to-actions to allow and even tempt the user to progress through each stage.
Since you were involved in designing your website, you’re probably very familiar with where everything is. Therefore, it’s invaluable to get other people to work through the website and give you feedback. This will help you to identify problems with navigating the site or other functionality issues.
Consumers should be able to reach the checkout or enquiry stage in around three clicks or steps. Therefore, you must ensure that there is a clear conversion path for your users to follow as this will encourage a good conversion rate. Below is just one example of how you can map your website’s conversion flow. Producing a similar flow chart can help you visualise this process and identify unnecessary steps.
You should also test your checkout and enquiry process. We’ve seen drastic attrition (people not completing orders after adding items to the basket or starting to fill out a contact form) due to errors at this stage.
This can be anything from inconsistencies with previous information (i.e. “free shipping” stated on the product page, but then a shipping charge is added in the checkout process) or faulty-looking information. If people are given any cause for doubt, they will likely abandon the process.
Now that your website is well optimised and you’re happy that everything is working as it should, it’s time to promote your content and start extending your reach.
Four: Promote your website
Arguably the most important factor in Google’s decision-making process when it comes to ranking a website is trust. The search engine wants to make sure that the websites that it is rewarding with those top positions in its results are credible and have some authority within their industry.
We use the term coined by Moz which refers to this credibility as ‘domain authority’. Trust is determined by looking at your website in the context of the wider web and looking at who is linking to your content.
The diagram below helps to visualise the impact of a well-connected website with lots of inbound links. These backlinks transfer something referred to as ‘link juice’ which increases your website’s domain authority. A link from a website with a higher degree of credibility carries greater value than a link from a website with a lower degree of credibility.
Links from relevant websites with strong domain authorities are seen as votes of confidence. The more of these links you have, and the higher the authority of those linking websites, the greater your own domain authority will be.
There are a number of different methods (some good, some bad) of getting links back to your website. However, we’re going to focus on what we consider to be the best method of getting links organically: good content.
If you write genuinely remarkable, unique content and distribute it effectively, then other people within your field will want to share it and link to it.
Your content can take many forms: blogs, videos, photos, infographics, industry news and so on. Depending on your industry, some types of content might suit your website better than others. Either way, you’ll need to promote it – this is particularly important for startups and newly emerging businesses who might not yet have a big digital presence.
Digital PR is an effective means of improving domain authority and boosting your SEO campaign. Even the most basic digital PR efforts can result in great links from relevant online publications back to your website.
There are a few ways you can go about it. You can connect with relevant industry publications and offer to partner with them to produce a useful tool or content. Alternatively, you may already have some fantastic valuable content that you think certain online publishers need to know about. You can begin to plan a content strategy which involves writing about interesting events and company news – focus on the things that industry giants would want to publish or discuss.
For some industries, this can be a long and difficult process because it requires a great deal of research and content creation. It therefore..
There’s a long-lasting rumour that flight prices will increase if you look at the same deals more than once. A lot of people prefer to book flights in Chrome ‘incognito mode’ or they clear cookies first before booking.
The theory is that flight search websites know you’ve looked at a particular flight before based on your browsing history and increase the price on your second or third look to create a sense of urgency.
But do browser cookies actually increase flight prices? We investigate to find out if there is any truth in the myth.
Aside from being a delicious sweet treat, cookies have another meaning in the digital world. More formally known as ‘HTTP cookies’, they are small data files which are created by a website and then stored by the user’s web browser. They are created when you visit a website and are generally intended to make your browsing experience smoother.
For example, they keep track of your movements on a particular site so that you can resume where you left off at a later time. They might remember your login details and, in the case of e-commerce sites, any items you had saved in your basket.
Cookies contain very small pieces of information so they typically can’t be used to reveal personal information, other than your browsing history on that site. There are two types of cookies: session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies are temporary and are deleted once you’ve left the website. Persistent cookies remain in your browser’s subfolder and are activated again when you revisit the website.
Anecdotes are common and many people are still absolutely convinced that they’ve witnessed flight prices rocket after a second visit. In the past, people have suggested that revisiting the same flights multiple times shows the provider increased demand, which is why prices may increase. Search engine algorithms are becoming more complex and it’s definitely not out of the realms of possibility.
A study carried out in 2016 performed simultaneous searches at various different times to investigate any differences. Some searches were completed on a ‘normal’ browser and some on a ‘scrubbed’ browser (which had cookies and cache cleared).
Among the 372 searches, they found 42 pairs of differently priced tickets for the same flights searched at the same time. This could be evidence that browser history affects pricing.
However, an industry spokesperson suggested that even a difference of a few seconds could have affected the results. Indeed, many in the industry think it’s unlikely that cookies actually increase flight prices.
While prices do fluctuate, this will depend on a number of different factors. For example, like with train tickets, there will be different price brackets for a particular flight and when one sells out, the price will jump to the next one. It will also depend on last-minute cancellations, other people booking places and deals specific to certain days of the week.
I’m still worried – how can I clear my cookies?
The process for clearing cookies will vary slightly depending on which browser you use, but let’s take Chrome as a primary example. Here are the steps to clear your cookies and cache:
1. Open the browser
2. Click the three dots in the top right corner
3. Click ‘More tools’ and then ‘Clear browsing data’
4. At the top, choose a time range (to delete everything, select All Time)
5. Check the boxes next to ‘Cookies and other site data’ and ‘cached images and files’
For a speedier and easier browsing experience, cache and cookies will actually help you out. If your browser remembers your history, it makes it much easier for you to find the websites you’ve been browsing and be automatically logged in without having to remember your details.
However, if you have concerns about your data privacy, you may still want to clear your browser every so often.
It’s all about what you feel comfortable with but, if your only motivation for clearing your cookies just now is for flight prices, it might not be worth it!
Our advice for booking flights online
Opt for mid-week flights
Weekend flights, particularly Fridays and Sundays, tend to be far more popular because that’s when everyone wants to travel. If you can, try to take advantage of the cheaper flights that are generally available during the week.
Book on Tuesday mornings
This is a myth that seems to have a bit more truth to it! Flight deals tend to go live on Monday nights to encourage people to buy so Tuesday mornings are a great time to book.
Compare different airlines
There are plenty of flight comparison sites out there so try looking at deals by different airlines to find the best price for you.
Try to book in advance where possible
One of the reasons flight prices increase when you look back is just because they get more expensive nearer the time. Last-minute deals sometimes come around but, if you know you need a flight in advance, it’s better to book sooner rather than later.
Don’t buy straight away
Although we can’t be 100% sure of whether browser cookies increase flight prices, there’s no harm in shopping around or looking on different devices. It seems that prices are constantly changing, whatever the cause, so the first deal you see may not be the best one.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a few tips when it comes to buying flights online. Keep shopping around and happy holidays!
As we move into the world of voice search and home assistants, you might feel that your business is being threatened. Where people would once be given pages of options by Google, they can now just get a single response from a robot.
However, optimising for voice search can be done and it isn’t really that different from optimising for desktop or mobile. We’ve outlined some of the key things to consider if you’re wondering how to optimise your website for voice search.
Update your business listings
The first thing that you need to focus on when it comes to voice search is your business listings. This is because people will tend to voice search things like ‘find the best fish and chips near me’. Voice search is becoming all about localisation and businesses which don’t have relevant information on the search engines will fade into the background.
This will primarily include updating your Google My Business profile, but some voice assistants, such as Alexa and Cortana, will automatically use Bing as their search engine so you should also take a look at Bing Places.
Example of a GMB profile which includes business name, address, a brief description, opening hours, contact number and, importantly, reviews!
Important information to have on your online business profiles includes a business address, contact number, opening hours and photos. You can also include commonly asked questions and links to your social media profiles.
Perhaps the most important feature of Google My Business or Bing Places is the reviews. Your voice assistant will search for highly-rated local businesses and those with a large volume of good reviews will come up tops. Encourage your customers to leave reviews wherever possible.
Use structured data
Structured data or schema markup is a type of code you can use on your website to tell search engines important details about your business – this is important when optimising for voice search. Structured data enables Google to display a ‘rich result’ or one that has additional information about your business.
Example of a rich search result for a recipe, including reviews, time to make and calories.
For local businesses, structured data will include stating the type of business, name, address, phone number, email, opening hours and a description. Just as with Google My Business listings, an important feature of the schema mark-up will be displaying reviews. Google will reward business websites with a high volume of good reviews, which will benefit you when people use voice search.
Writing primarily for your audience is something you should be doing anyway but it becomes even more important with the increasing popularity of voice search. Rather than typing in quick combinations of words that wouldn’t necessarily make sense in written or spoken language, people are asking their voice assistants questions.
And it’s your website’s job to answer them as best as you can. This will help you get chosen for voice search queries, as your web page or article will be seen as providing the best information for the user.
In terms of keywords, it’s all about choosing those long-tail search queries to optimise your website for. Increasingly, the search market is moving towards longer phrases so it’s important to take that into account when planning your content strategy.
For example, instead of typing in ‘coffee shop Exeter’, someone will ask their voice assistant ‘what is the best coffee shop in Exeter?’. Understanding this shift will be vital for informing the way you write.
On a related note, it’s important to make sure that you have a dedicated FAQ, insights or information section on your website. This gives you the opportunity to explore lots of consumer questions and position yourself as an authority. By creating a dedicated page for each question, you can begin to build a presence.
If you use voice search on your mobile, Google will choose the snippet of information that answers a query in a clear and concise way.
Therefore, if you’re able to answer highly specific commonly asked questions in your articles in a clear and concise paragraph, you may be chosen more often. And although users might not click through to your website with voice search, they will hear your brand name in the intro!
Focus on building your brand
It’s a competitive search market out there and, despite your very best efforts, you can still get lost among the results. This is why building your brand is essential when considering voice search. If people have already heard about you and your work, they may well search directly for your company.
You can do this by creating a strong social media presence and differentiating yourself from your competitors with unique imagery and compelling content. Position your company as the experts in your field and you’ll keep a captive audience.
There’s no set recipe for building a brand, but you need to understand your competitors, look for gaps in the market and think about ‘why’ your business exists in the first place. This will help you create a strong message that will resonate with your audience and help you safeguard against voice search.
If you need help with optimising your local business for voice search, drop us a line and see how we can help you.
Google, Amazon and Facebook all collect phenomenal amounts of personal data from their users. This collection is facilitated by an implicit trust in these tech giants. We don’t mind them knowing everything about us as we assume they are ethical and that our data is safe. It’s also part of the trade-off which makes our lives more convenient.
However, over the past few years, people have become increasingly concerned about the role of Facebook in our lives. How safe is it? Who can access our personal information? Is it possible for data to be sold without our permission? These are important questions that we still don’t seem to have a completely concrete answer for.
For so long, Facebook has relied on the concept of providing a safe space for people to connect with friends across the world. But what happens if the trust fades?
The Facebook disaster story
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke at the beginning of 2018, Facebook has taken a big hit in trust.
A graph showing the increase in active Facebook users up to 2017 and the subsequent decline of active users.
The natural conclusion to these types of privacy scandal is that data collection will need to become more regulated.
However, the main issue with this is the sheer scale of social media platforms like Facebook. Developments in AI might become more central in regulating and preventing security breaches as humans alone will struggle to ensure the safety of such a vast network.
Facebook and other social channels will be required to adapt to this new world of constant scrutiny over data collection processes by prioritising the user over the advertiser. There will need to be more control over how much data is shared with third parties.
All of this raises questions around whether Facebook will be able to continue with its data-driven advertising model and whether it will need to make significant changes to the way it operates. Some have suggested that their business model may shift toward advertising in private messaging, but it could be harder to carry out data collection with high levels of encryption.
Does all this mean Facebook will be more safe?
Probably. But is it too little too late to win back the trust of users? Only time will tell.
Some people make the mistake of putting their SEO objectives before a positive user experience, and even before the content itself. A piece of content with nothing worthwhile to say, no matter how much traffic it gets due to its optimisation, will only turn audiences away.
Conversely, the most insightful, well-written content has little use if no one sees it. Even the very best content needs to be optimised so that it can appear high up the search engine results and be easily found by your target audience.
To create quality online content, therefore, a careful balance needs to be struck between user experience and SEO. Here are some key points to help achieve that.
Proper use of keywords
Keywords can either be the most subtle form of SEO in your content, or the most transparent. Sometimes, your keyword research brings up search terms that can be easily integrated into your text while maintaining a natural patter. Other times, your keywords will be much more unwieldy and clunky, and you’ll be hard pressed to get the entire phrase in a natural sentence once, let alone multiple times.
In cases like these, it isn’t good practice to jam the keywords in and hope your audience sticks with you. For starters, Google’s algorithms are clever; they will know if your content is disrupted by incongruous keywords. Instead, it’s best to get creative. Do the keywords fit better as separate sentences? If so, can they be split by punctuation or line breaks?
Trying to get your keyword in too many times is also bad practice, as it makes them overly transparent and once the user can spot the keywords, they may begin to question the validity of the content, seeing it as a piece of marketing and undermining your authority on the subject.
As you can see in the above example, Google favours those search results which directly answer user questions, rather than those which are stuffed with one particular keyword phrase.
An effective digital marketing campaign requires a range of SEO strategies including in-depth keyword research and compelling content creation. Find out what we offer here.
Use of headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings are excellent formatting tools for optimised content. From an SEO perspective, they are often the easiest place to include keywords. As well as getting them into the title of your piece, the subheadings can include the keywords as a kind of theme. This helps Google’s algorithm to understand the context and value of your article.
The other great thing about headings and subheadings is that they create a much better user experience. Subheadings break up long, off-putting passages of text and act as signposts for the user to navigate around the content.
Perhaps they are only looking for one detail within your much larger topic and will be able to find the relevant information much more easily if it is under an appropriate subheading. Users are always grateful when they don’t have to read irrelevant content just to reach the information they are looking for.
It’s easy to format your blog posts with headings and subheadings on platforms like WordPress.
Visual appearance and site structure
The visuals of your webpage can be just as important as the content itself. Users will be equally put off by a page that is plain and dreary as they will be by a page that is visually noisy and garish. Some websites simply look unprofessional, and this is almost entirely down to layout and structural choices.
A clear and simple website that reflects your brand message is best. Good page layout, fonts, well-written text, and quality of images and graphics all contribute to the positive user experience of your page. Low-resolution images, childish fonts and grammatical errors will turn users away.
Navigation is also key, as a clumsy site structure will discourage your audience from staying on your website.
Good site structure benefits your ranking as well as user experience. Search engines prefer a clear site layout when considering the suitability of your page. It will take into consideration how easy the site is to navigate, whether it is mobile-friendly and how quickly the different pages load.
Google’s algorithms also draw on user analytics when considering your site’s ranking. This data includes how long people spend visiting your website, and how many pages and links they click on. A positive user experience is therefore instrumental to your SEO, and the two combine to increase your search engine ranking.
Beware ‘Black Hat SEO’
Black Hat SEO techniques aim to raise a site’s ranking through practices that violate the terms of service of the search engine.
There are a number of SEO techniques that fall into this category, but as a general rule, they all aim to raise the ranking of a page without offering anything of value to the user – the antithesis of user experience and SEO working in harmony.
Some examples of specific black hat techniques are:
– Hidden text and links
– Keyword stuffing
– Duplicate content across pages, subdomains or domains
The discovery of any black hat techniques on your pages could result in your site being banned from search engine results. These techniques also amount to a very poor user experience, severely damaging their opinion of you and your authority.
Avoid black hat SEO at all costs; any short-term success will be significantly outweighed by the long-term damage to your brand.
User experience and SEO working in harmony
SEO is no longer about trying to manipulate Google into believing the validity of your site by stuffing it with keywords.
While including keywords is still an essential part of SEO, the best strategy to raise your ranking within the search engine results is to provide the best user experience possible. This can be achieved through relevant and engaging content, a clear and aesthetically pleasing design, and a site that is quick and easy to navigate.
As Google’s algorithms continue to develop and become more intelligent, the trend will only continue in this direction.
Repurposing can help give new life to some of your most successful content by exposing it to a new audience and revitalising the interest of previous users. Repurposing blog content isn’t lazy; if done well, it can be a shrewd bit of content marketing that speaks directly to your key demographic.
Occasionally, you’ll create a piece of content that just clicks – it reaches your target audience in unprecedented numbers, it gets shared along with positive feedback and, as a result, your business or brand experiences a boom of fresh interest.
It’s these pieces that you should be looking to repurpose. Pieces that have proven drawing power often have more to give and should be taken advantage of. Finding more interest for content that you know works is a lot easier than creating new content and, at times, can be more effective too.
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First, you need to find your top-performing content. You might have a piece that you are really passionate about and want to spread around again or expand upon, but if the content wasn’t well received the first time, there’s a good chance it won’t be again.
This doesn’t mean that this kind of content can’t be revisited, revived or rejuvenated, after all, the more quality content you can produce the better. However, to yield the best results from repurposing your blog content, you need to be using your top-performing content.
There are a number of ways you can find out which content this is:
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics can show you which of your pages get the most views, so you know which of your topics are of the most interest to people. You can also see how long people chose to stay on a particular article, and whether they then went on to view more content.
In Google Analytics, you can view the engagement of your blog under the Behaviour > Site Content report.
You may not know exactly how people reacted to the content with this method, but a high level of traffic and lengthy average page view suggests that something about the blog topic or style has piqued people’s interest.
2. Google Rankings
Finding out which of your blogs or pages are highly ranked on Google is also useful for repurposing. If any of your articles are on the first page of results from a Google search for related keywords, then you know that this particular piece of content is easily discoverable, and therefore, a prime candidate for repurposing.
You can use Google Search Control to identify the search terms that people are entering your site with – and match these to your blogs.
3. Social Media Buzz
The amount of response or reaction your blog has received on social media is also a good barometer of its suitability for repurposing. If people have been talking about, sharing or generally responding positively online to your content, it is likely that repurposing this content will find a similarly enthusiastic audience, if it’s done well.
Using all three of these methods to identify your top-performing content will give you a great idea of which blogs you should be repurposing. If a piece of your content has had a large number of views, appears on the first results page of a Google search, and has had a positive reaction on social media, it will be perfect for repurposing.
For more information about understanding your data from Google Analytics, Google Search Control or your social channels, you can Order Tramadol Overnight Uk and see how we can help.
Recycle, don’t republish
Repurposing blog content doesn’t mean simply finding a new website to post the same piece. Whilst you want to capitalise on what made the original blog successful, the key is to either continue the story in some way or help it find a new audience through a different medium, rather than just a different location.
Republishing the same piece on a different platform will only create duplicate content issues and make you seem lazy to your audience.
The trick to repurposing blog content is to find ways to expand upon the key themes presented in the original. If the original content was a case study, a follow-up on the subject’s progress since the first post can be very effective, to show their success was built on lasting foundations.
With informative or opinion pieces, has any new information come to light regarding the subject? Has the social or political landscape affected the views or predictions posted? Addressing issues like these is a perfect way to make your content topical and relevant without seeming contrived.
On a more aesthetic level, how does the content look? Is there anything you would change to the design, the arrangement or the formatting? The beauty of online content is that all these things can be rectified.
If the content is from a few years ago, the page may look dated, and this could prevent it from reaching new audiences. If the content is still relevant, giving the page a modern redesign could be an easy way to generate new interest. On reflection, is the medium of the piece still the most appropriate, or would the information be better received as a video or an infographic?
With all of the above in mind, to really get the most out of your revitalised content, you need new platforms to share it on. There’s little point in spending time recycling your content if no one is going to see it.
Taking your content to a new platform can provide backlinks to your website that will improve your SEO. You will also have a second page addressing the topic that can be found through search engines, increasing the likelihood that yours will be the content users find first.
As successful as your site may be, your audience might have been the same for some time. While loyal customers are essential to the promotion of any brand or business, expansion depends on reaching new people and winning them over. Posting your content on a different platform places it in front of a new, pre-existing audience immediately.
There are many different platforms you can utilise, depending on your content. If you have repurposed your blog into a video, video streaming sites like YouTube and Vimeo are the obvious places to publish it.
Supplementing your blog with video content and publishing on sites like YouTube are a great way of enriching your content. A good example is the Whiteboard Friday blogs and videos from Buy Cheapest Tramadol Online.
While the audiences of these sites are less specialised, engaging visual content can appeal to people outside your usual demographic. Turning your old content into infographics or slide shows can also find a new home on sites like LinkedIn SlideShare.
Your content doesn’t have to be changed visually, however. If your content is engaging enough, it may make a good podcast, that people may find easier to engage with on-the-go.
This doesn’t just have to be an audibly-pleasing recital of the content, it could involve discussing the subjects of the content or a spirited debate with another party. This could also be a way to draw attention to the topics contained in other blogs you may be looking to repurpose.
Guest blogs can also be a great way to get more out of your top-performing content. A reputable site with a high domain authority that accepts guest blog submissions can be the perfect platform for your refreshed content.
These sites will already have their own dedicated following, much of which may not overlap with your own, but if the site’s subject areas are similar to your own, this new audience will likely be responsive to your content.
Question and Answer Websites
Your content may also find new life on forum sites like Tramadol Fedex Visa, where users are looking for direct advice and solutions to their questions. While the whole repurposed blog may not be appropriate here, an informed and engaging response to the question with a link back to the full article could help establish your authority within the forum community.
If you have plenty more to say on the subject of your blog, turning it into an eBook may be a worthwhile venture. The required length of an eBook is a lot more fluid than print publishing – you don’t need to write a novel to make a successful eBook. A successful eBook can lead to a subscriber list, and can also provide its own platform for future relevant content you may want to repurpose.
There will always be new platforms you can utilise to revitalise your content. Focus on updating, expanding upon, or changing the format of your content first, and then find the most suitable platform for the new content.
Soon, you’ll be reaping the benefits of quality engagement with a new audience without spending time on original content creation.
Google Trends is mostly viewed as a fun tool which helps us get a glimpse into what’s going on in the world. Much like the trending function on Twitter, we can use it to find news updates, learn about scandals and keep an eye on cultural shifts.
But, if it’s used correctly, it can also be a really useful SEO tool.
In this article, we’re looking at how it works, what we can learn about the failure of the Google Flu predictions and how you can successfully use Google Trends for SEO purposes.
What is Google Trends?
Put simply, Google Trends is a tool which allows you to see search terms that trend on Google. It really is that straightforward! You can refine your searches by looking at particular topics, keywords, locations and timeframes.
The ‘Trending Searches page is a good place to start because it gives you an insight into what’s creating buzz online. In “Real Time Search Trends”, you can look at different categories, such as Entertainment, Health or Sci/Tech.
Data privacy is a particularly hot topic at the moment, with many people losing trust in the digital giants such as Facebook as there are increasing concerns over who can access our information. When scandals like this happen, you will often see trending searches related to how to ensure digital safety.
Google Trends is a great way to get an insight into how people respond to news stories and scandals. You can refine your search too, and take a look at what’s happening in your particular sector. If you are interested in particular trends in your industry, you can input your chosen search term and it will show you how people search over time.
Google Trends is just one of the many free marketing tools that Google has available for use. If you want some tips on how to get started with Google, feel free to drop us an emailto see how we can help.
What can we learn from the failure of Google Flu Trends?
The potential of trends data has always been an exciting prospect for Google. Since their data collection is so vast, and gives us an insight into people’s behaviour, there is a chance that it could help us predict the future. And that’s exactly what they tried to do.
Google Flu Trends was a project which existed from 2008 to 2015. Its central aim was to use data regarding how people searched for flu-related terms to predict when an outbreak might happen. However, although successful for a short while, it was not able to accurately predict several flu epidemics and it’s data varied massively from that provided by the Centers for Disease Control. The plug was pulled on the project.
Perhaps Google Trends isn’t so useful for predicting the future. Particularly when it’s used for something as important as global public health issues. It’s safe to say that, while trends data is incredibly interesting, it cannot be relied on to save the world just yet.
However, don’t write off Google Trends completely. It can work really well on a smaller scale, particularly if you are targeting a particular location or interested in seasonality. You will be able to find consistencies in searches, as well as related topics that people search for.
Let’s take a look at some of the key methods for using Google Trends when creating an SEO strategy.
How to use Google Trends for SEO
Find seasonal trends
This one is particularly important to new businesses who might be trying to understand the mindset of their audience. You will likely already have some idea of the seasonality in your industry, but Google Trends can confirm that for you and provide you with the data you need to create a seasonal marketing strategy.
In the example below, you can see that “sterling silver necklace” is a particularly popular search in November – the lead up to Christmas. This may seem like common sense but now you have proof! Plus, you can get an idea of the exact dates for when people start carrying out their initial research.
Identify potential blog topics
A great feature of Google Trends is the ‘related queries’ box. Say you want to put in a fairly generic search term, such as “digital marketing” because you know this is the area you need to focus on. Scroll down and you will find other search terms which are more suited to editorial content, such as “digital marketing trends 2019” or “benefits of digital marketing”.
You can then click on that long-tail keyword and get an idea of its popularity at different times of the year. Does it appear to be more popular in the summer seasons? Then you know to schedule that particular blog post for June or July.
Target specific locations
Another good way to use Google Trends for SEO is to get an idea of how search markets vary between different locations. For example, if you are an outdoor clothing brand, the climate variations between different locations will affect how many people are searching.
As you can see in the below examples, the US has more of a defined seasonal peak for “outdoor clothing brands”, whereas the UK has peaks throughout the year (likely due to the more unpredictable weather!)
This is particularly useful if you are a business interested in targeting multiple places – for example, England and the United States. You can tailor individual pages to suit those audiences, and make sure to create content that relates to both locations.
Is Google Trends the future of SEO?
There are a number of ways that Google Trends can complement your SEO strategy and provide you with a whole set of interesting data. Use it as a research tool and spend a decent chunk of time delving into the different options and it can be incredibly useful.
However, Google Trends should not be the only tool you use for your SEO strategy because there is a high risk of coincidence and it’s easy to make assumptions. Plus, when you are only looking to target extremely popular keywords, it can be difficult to compete with high-authority websites.
We would also recommend trying out different tools but make sure that you are combining a number of different methods and test what works for you!
For our latest “Spotlight” interview, we caught up with Amy from Studio Illicit to chat about all things web design.
From the popularity of mobile-first features and minimalist designs to the importance of balancing creativity with reality, she gave us some really interesting insights into the process of creating a website and how designs should respond to the demands of the user.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing in web design?
It’s difficult to predict a single future revolutionary event, though a number of growing trends do spring to mind. You can expect websites in 2019 to appear visually ‘bold’, using large images, typography and interactive elements. Modern page layouts offer the appearance of minimalism and open space as this helps to signpost visitors and draw the eye to the right places.
Immersion is also is on the rise with elements like ‘microinteractions’ – those are the satisfying user-controlled animations based on hovers, taps and other gestures.
These trends are essentially related to the dominance of ‘mobile-first’ design which works in the service of a simple, engaging user experience and a streamlined look that works across all devices.
What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
There have been so many! We’ve been really lucky to strike up long-term relationships with local Devon-based companies such as Roastworks and Touch Design Group, as well as newer London-based clients DCT8 and Kingdom Creative.
I think these projects have been so successful because the clients are creatives themselves, so they appreciate that a lot of careful craft needs to go into marketing their incredible products.
Do you ever find it challenging to balance client expectations, creative freedom and technical possibilities?
Absolutely. We always try to maintain a high level of honesty with our clients about what is achievable and what is best for the user. Equally, we have to be honest with ourselves.
From a design point of view, I occasionally find I have to rein in some of my wilder ideas as it’s tempting to create something artistically beautiful and conceptual, but if it isn’t helpful to the visitor, and usability is being sacrificed at the altar of good looks, I have to think again.
Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to designing or building a website?
In our work, we have to overcome technical issues frequently, the most challenging of which are when unexpected issues happen outside of our control. This might be applications not working as expected, browser glitches and hosting problems to name a few.
There is an expectation that we resolve or work around these ourselves, which can be something of a time-sink.
If you had to recommend just one website improvement to every business out there, what would it be?
In the broadest terms possible, less is more. For design and content, knowing what to leave out is just as important as knowing what to include. For example, no visitor has the time to read through an essay on your web pages. It’s also essential not to clutter your pages with a ton of visuals or superfluous features just because you like them and you think they look cool.
Think of the audience and always assume that they have very little time to decide whether they are going to stick around. Once you achieve that mindset, then a great website is within your grasp.
So there you have it, a window into the world of web design. Thank you very much to Amy from Studio Illicit for giving up her time to chat to us – the design of your website is such an important factor for businesses large and small!
For the past few months, Huawei have been caught in quite the data privacy scandal, with senior officials around the world accusing them of carrying out cyber-espionage.
In spite of these concerns, The Daily Telegraph reported that the UK government was still preparing to give Huawei access to 5G network. Information regarding the Huawei 5G contract was allegedly leaked from a high-level National Security Council meeting to the Daily Telegraph. Just yesterday, the UK defence secretary Gavin Williams was sacked over this leak, with the prime minister stating she had “lost confidence in his ability to serve”.
Some have even suggested that using a Huawei phone could be a compromise to national security. In an interview with Tech.Co, a senior international defence expert suggested that it was ‘entirely plausible’ for the Chinese government to demand access to data collected from Huawei technologies.
This new development in the world of data privacy has caused concerns for mobile users worldwide. As you can see in the image below, searches for the phrase “are huawei phones safe” rose significantly once people become aware of this data scandal.
As the owner of a Huawei phone, I was initially alarmed like many others. But not alarmed enough to do anything about it. In 2019, there’s a certain resignation to the fact that we are being “spied on” by our phones – it’s something we’ve become used to. From Google to Facebook, big corporations having access to our data and being able to use it however they please is not a new story.
While this may not be the case with the Huawei scandal, when it comes to Facebook and Google, it is fairly easy to change your privacy settings once you know. You can turn off location data, ad preferences and choose the amount of data that is shared or stored.
A quick browse of the web will provide you with plenty of how-to guides for turning off all of these elements but a lot of people just can’t be bothered or don’t really care.
We willingly post personal information on social media
Whether we’re checking in at a gig on Facebook or posting our holiday destination to Instagram, we are constantly sharing our personal information on social media platforms. We love to document every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to our outfit choices.
Personalised ads make our decision-making process a little bit easier. They pop up with suggestions of things we might like, and a lot of the time they help us find what we were looking for.
When you go to turn off your adverts on Facebook or Instagram, you are kindly reminded that “you’ll still see ads, but they won’t be as relevant to you”. They’re asking: ‘what would you prefer? Rubbish adverts for things you don’t need or adverts which have been lovingly tailored to you?”. And they have a good point – if you have to see adverts, it might as well be for things that you’re interested in.
The idea of personalisation also comes into play with services like Netflix and Spotify. We love the fact that they record our preferences and give us suggestions of what to watch or listen to. In 2018, Spotify used their customer data to create a series of billboard ads which reflected user habits in a humorous way. Sure, it is a little bit creepy, but it’s also fun!
Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have been receiving more criticism recently, and rightly so in many cases. Allowing personal data to be manipulated for use in political campaigns is an extremely worrying prospect, which is why the Cambridge Analytica scandal caused such a ripple. Data leaks which breach national security are even more concerning, which is why the idea of Huawei having access to the UK’s 5G network is so scandalous.
However, at this point, we’re in too deep. Can you imagine a world without the convenience of searching on Google? Without Spotify or Netflix making recommendations on what you might like? Without the instant connectivity that social platforms provide? It would certainly be a struggle to move away from the digital technologies that are so ingrained in our lives.
As the crackdown on the digital giants continues following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, officials are beginning to question Google’s extensive location tracking and data collection. News reports state that, earlier this week, members of the US Congress wrote a letter to the CEO of Google, raising concerns about its enormous database ‘Sensorvault’.
In the letter, the lawmakers have demanded an overview of how the Sensorvault data is used and shared, whether it is collected from any consumers who have requested that their data is not shared, as well as details of any third party involvement.
In the wake of the backlash against Sensorvault, we’re looking at the scale of Google’s location tracking so far and asking whether they will keep getting away with it.
Big Brother in action
All of this comes as a New York Times article reveals how the Sensorvault database has been used by police in the US to place a potential suspect at the scene of a crime. Jorge Molina was told by police that they had data from his phone which tracked him to the site of a shooting in Phoenix.
Sounds exciting, right? A great new resource for solving crimes and keeping people safe? Not so much. The suspect was later found to be innocent and, although he wasn’t charged, the accusation cost him his job and his car was repossessed.
Allegedly, the Sensorvault database holds location information from hundreds of millions of Android users, dating back to at least 2009. What’s more, Google have been known to respond to a single police warrant with location data from hundreds of devices. Many have raised concerns about the use of this data for law enforcement, as it is not necessarily an accurate way of collecting evidence.
Understanding the scale
A study titled “Google Data Collection” was carried out by Professor Douglas C. Schmidt in August 2018 and the results reveal the extent of Google’s ability to track our daily movements. The study found that 35% of all data samples sent to Google are related to location information.
The scale of data collection is enormous, particularly from Android phones, with the research showing that a “resting” Android phone will communicate location data to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period.
Not only can Google access your current location, they also keep a history of where you’ve been. Unless you know how and where to delete it, this will remain.
Perhaps most scarily, Professor Schmidt’s research also found that Google is able to connect the “anonymous” data they collect to individual users through their advertising technology. This is used to help advertisers understand consumer behaviour.
While this is relatively easy to discover online, it may not occur to people who believe that they’ve turned off their location history with just one click. That’s why the scale of the location tracking has raised so many concerns – until you realise it’s happening and understand how to stop it, Google has access to every single one of your movements and are able to share this information with third parties.
It is unlikely that Google will remain free from scrutiny now that the US Congress is demanding more transparency from them. Considering the increasing concerns from the general public over data privacy, the unpoliced power of tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Google shouldn’t really be able to continue.
However, the main issue is that Google provides us with convenience. We rely on the search engine to discover almost every piece of information we’re after and we willingly enter clues about ourselves on a daily basis. Google Maps is the tool used by most people for navigation and tailored adverts actually make our lives that bit easier when making decisions. Now, Google can even help our police to solve crimes and maybe even keep us safe. Are we willing to give that up to stop Big Brother from watching us?
If you enjoyed this blog post, you can check out our recent article on Google Maps AR and its marketing potential.