Quick SEO Tips

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a pretty complex subject. Gone are the days when all you had to do was pick a keyword and stuff it into your page copy as many times as possible - if you want to conquer the Google results in 2018, there are all sorts of different factors you need to think about. And of course, since the algorithms are always changing, you'll need to keep your eyes open and stay abreast of all the latest updates if you don't want to be left behind.

Still, perhaps you're not looking to become an all-powerful SEO guru. Maybe you're just looking for a few quick tips that will help you boost your traffic without paying for ads. If that's the case, we hope that these 10 tips (brought to you by the Designer Websites SEO team) will serve you well:

1. Check your site's health on Google Search Console.

Google Search Console (google.com/webmasters/tools/home) is an indispensable tool that all website owners should use. Once you've added and verified your website, check out our beginner's guide to make sure you know what to look out for.

Oh, and while you're logged in...

2. Submit your sitemap to Google.

Go to the Crawl section in Google Search Console and select Sitemaps. This is where you can submit your website's XML sitemap file to Google - this makes it easier for the big G to index your content, and the Sitemaps tool will also inform you of any problems that are affecting pages you submit.

3. Take a good look at your title tags.

There are many different factors that decide whether a web page makes it into the top 10 Google results, but the page's title tag may be the most important of all. A page's title tag should ideally be no more than 60 characters in length, and it should be a clear, concise, and keyword-rich description of what that page is for.

Use Moz's title tag preview tool to see what your title tag will look like on Google (this is a good way to identify whether your title tag is too long).

4. Make sure your meta descriptions are snappy and engaging.

Unlike the title tag (see above), your page's meta description probably won't have a huge impact on rankings. However, it can make the difference between a Google user clicking on your result and scrolling straight past it.

You know the short paragraph of text that appears under most Google results? Very often, that blurb is pulled directly from the page's meta description.

So be sure to make all of your meta descriptions concise, engaging and punchy. Sell your product/service and explain why people should choose you over your competitors...but try to do it in as few words as possible! (Google recently extended the maximum length for meta descriptions, but we still recommend keeping them short and snappy where possible.)

5. Check for keyword cannibalisation.

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when a website has two (or more) pages competing against each other for a specific keyphrase. It should be avoided, since Google may not be able to discern which page you actually want to rank for the keyphrase in question.

For more information on keyword cannibalisation and how it can scupper your SEO efforts, read our blog on the subject here.

6. Claim your Google My Business listing.

Google My Business listings are crucial for local businesses with bricks-and-mortar locations that are open to the public, but even if your business is online-only, you should still think about claiming your listing. Go to google.co.uk/business and enter your company details so that Google can show more information about your business - don't worry, you can keep your address hidden if you don't want people turning up on your doorstep.

7. Link to high-authority websites.

Some people will tell you that you should never link out to other websites, but the evidence seems to suggest that outgoing links can have a positive effect on your rankings when done carefully. Just make sure that you're linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to the topic you're focusing on.

8. Share your knowledge in blog posts.

If your company's website doesn't have a blog, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to share your expertise and get your brand seen by a wider audience. Google loves in-depth, well-written articles from people who know what they're talking about, and nobody knows your business better than you do, so what are you waiting for? Get writing!

To make sure you're writing blog posts that will actually drive traffic to your website, we recommend using tools like Google Keyword Planner and AnswerThePublic.com to find out what people search for when they're looking for information on your specialist subject.

9. Add alt tags to your images.

Google's bots are very clever when it comes to understanding and indexing text-based content, but they're not so good with images. In order to help them index your images properly (and potentially show them as results on Google Images), you should make sure that every image on your website has an alt tag that gives an accurate description of what the image depicts.

Not only will this help you to capture traffic from image searches, it may also boost the perceived relevance of your pages if the alt tag is relevant to the keywords you're targeting. For example, if you're trying to rank for the term 'how to fix a dripping tap', your page may rank better if it features some pictures of taps, pipes, plumbers, and other related things/concepts.

10. Above all, focus on search intent and user experience.

Search engine optimisation shouldn't be an attempt to game the system or 'trick' Google into ranking your website. Ultimately, your goal should be the same as Google's goal: to give each user the best possible answer to their query.

So, when targeting a specific search term, make sure your page meets the needs expressed by that term and gives people the perfect online experience. This can mean any number of different things, such as:

  • Making key information stand out more
  • Improving your website design
  • Reducing your prices
  • Giving more details about your products
  • Being more transparent about who you are and what you do with the information you collect from users

These are just a few examples. Put yourself in the shoes of an average website user and go through your website from their point of view - is there anything that could be improved, or any parts of the buying journey that are needlessly complicated or fiddly?

For more help with this, read our blog about search intent.

Do you need someone to take a proper look at your website's SEO? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - we're great at boosting organic traffic and creating smooth user journeys!

Dr Kelly & Associates Website

From Doctorcall to Dr Leah, we at Designer Websites have a proud history of producing high-quality business websites for clinics and healthcare providers. Today, we're able to add another name to that list: Dr Kelly & Associates, a private clinic in the City of London.

Dr Kelly & Associates have been providing independent healthcare since 1989, and they offer a diverse range of services for individuals and organisations:

  • Private GP appointments
  • Home visits
  • Travel vaccinations and visa medical examinations
  • Employee health screenings
  • Walk-in STI clinic
  • Flu vaccinations

Why did Dr Kelly & Associates come to us?

The Dr Kelly team contacted Designer Websites because they needed a functional, professional-looking website that would allow them to showcase their wide range of services to corporate clients and potential patients. They also wanted to make it easier for users to:

  • Book clinic appointments online
  • Request doctor's visits online

We're pleased to announce that the new Dr Kelly website is now live - visit www.drkellys.co.uk to see our latest work. Not only does the website look great, we believe that the online booking system makes it super-simple to select the type of appointment you need, choose your preferred date, and pay for your appointment online.

Do you need a new website for your business? Contact Designer Websites now to request a free quotation!

 GDPR FAQ

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike some companies who have written about this topic recently, we are not running a GDPR course, and so we will not be exaggerating the issues to scare you into parting with your cash. This is merely an advisory post for Designer Websites clients, many of whom have been asking us about the new law that will soon be in effect.

If you're a business owner, odds are you've already heard about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will soon be in effect throughout the European Union. This new regulation is fairly complex, and many different claims are being made about it - not all of them accurate.

With that in mind, we want to do what we can to help you understand the new laws and what they mean for your business, particularly your website. You've probably got a lot of questions about the GDPR, and today we're going to attempt to answer some of them.

Please note that this post is for informational purposes only and should not be mistaken for professional legal advice. Designer Websites Ltd will not be held responsible for any other organisation's failure to comply with the GDPR or any other piece of legislation.

Contents:

  1. What is the GDPR?
  2. When will the new law take effect?
  3. Where does the GDPR apply?
  4. Why does my organisation need to be GDPR compliant?
  5. Who is responsible for ensuring that my organisation is compliant?
  6. How can I make sure I'm ready for the new law?
  7. What steps do the ICO recommend?
  8. Are Designer Websites GDPR compliant?
  9. Do I need to do anything about my website?
  10. Can Designer Websites help with GDPR compliance?
  11. Useful links

1. What is the GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU regulation that aims to improve data protection for individuals within the European Union. The regulation will give individuals more control over their personal information and how it is used.

Under the GDPR, organisations that process people's personal data will be expected to keep that data secure, be transparent about its use, and report data breaches promptly when they occur.

Here in the UK, the new data protection law will be enforced by the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). An in-depth guide to the GDPR can be found on their website.

2. When will the new law take effect?

The GDPR was adopted in April 2016, but it is not yet in effect. It will be enforced from 25 May 2018 onwards. Your organisation will need to be compliant with the new law by that date.

3. Where does the GDPR apply?

The GDPR is an EU regulation, and thus it will apply to all EU member states. This will include the United Kingdom, even after Brexit.

The GDPR also applies to any organisations who process the personal information of individuals within the EU. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn are both based in the USA, but since they hold personal data on EU citizens and residents, these companies will be expected to comply with the new regulation just as if they were based inside the EU.

4. Why does my organisation need to be GDPR compliant?

Once the new law is in force, your organisation will be required by law to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. After 25 May, if you are found to be in violation of the GDPR, you will be breaking the law, and may thus be subject to a number of sanctions.

That said, the ICO have made it clear that they view fines as a last resort, and will only use them to punish companies who "systematically fail to comply with the law or completely disregard it". Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has stated the following:

"The ICO's commitment to guiding, advising and educating organisations about how to comply with the law will not change under the GDPR...we intend to use [our increased] powers proportionately and judiciously. And while fines may be the sledgehammer in our toolbox, we have access to lots of other tools that are well-suited to the task at hand...the GDPR gives us a suite of sanctions to help organisations comply - warnings, reprimands, corrective orders." [source]

So don't panic when you see people using scaremongering tactics and telling you that you'll be fined millions of pounds if you aren't GDPR compliant by 25 May - this is simply not true. The important thing is that you're making a reasonable effort to comply by being transparent about your data collection practices and keeping people's personal information secure.

5. Who is responsible for ensuring that my organisation is compliant?

Short answer: you are. If it's discovered that your organisation is not complying with the GDPR, it's your organisation that will be held to account.

The long answer is a little more complicated. The new regulation makes the following distinction between what the EU call 'controllers' and 'processors':

  • Controllers determine the 'purposes and means' of processing personal data (e.g. if you collect information about your customers and use that information to either communicate with them or make decisions about them, then you are a controller).

  • Processors are the ones who actually handle the data on behalf of a controller (e.g. companies like Sage, Salesforce, Infusionsoft and MailChimp are processors because they provide a service that involves processing data on behalf of controllers).

It is quite possible that you are a controller and a processor of some personal data.

Both controllers and processors have some responsibilities under the GDPR. Processors must keep accurate records of the data itself and of processing activities; they are responsible for keeping people's personal data secure, and will be held legally liable in the event of a breach. However, controllers may also be held liable if they use a processor without ensuring that the processor is GDPR compliant.

Since virtually all organisations process some personal data themselves - even if it's just their own employee records - nobody will be off the hook when the GDPR comes into force on 25 May. So now let's answer the most important question of all...

6. How can I make sure I'm ready for the new law?

The most important thing is to demonstrate that your organisation has made a reasonable effort to comply with the GDPR and protect the rights of the individuals whose personal data you store and/or process. As you've already seen, the Information Commissioner's Office will only be issuing fines to the very worst offenders - they're more interested in helping businesses to understand and comply with the new law in order to protect individuals' rights as best as possible. In fact, if this whole thing has you feeling completely lost, you may want to make use of the ICO helpline (open 0900-1700, Mon-Fri).

So what exactly will you need to do from 25 May onwards? Well, the right approach will differ from one organisation to the next, but here's a good rule of thumb: before you collect or process someone's personal data, make sure you...

  • Have a clear reason - and a lawful basis - for doing so. Know why you're collecting other people's information, and know whether that reason is defensible in the eyes of the law. Under the GDPR, there are 6 valid legal reasons for organisations to collect personal data: consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public task, and legitimate interests. Details on all 6 lawful bases can be found here; for the majority of businesses, the most applicable basis will either be consent (the individual consented to you collecting and processing their information) or legitimate interests (you have a valid business reason for collecting the data, and you are not infringing on the personal rights of the individual).

  • Are only collecting what's necessary. You should only ever collect/process personal data if it is necessary to your stated goal. For instance, you might reasonably collect a customer's name and contact details so that you're able to reach them, but that's no reason to also collect information on their race, nationality, date of birth, etc.

  • Know how long you will be holding on to that data. The GDPR doesn't allow organisations to keep people's personal information indefinitely just because. Once you know why you're collecting personal information (see first point), you should also assess how long you'll need to keep the data in order to meet that goal. This doesn't necessarily need to be a specific number of days or months - it could just be 'for as long as that person remains a customer' or 'until that person unsubscribes from our newsletter'.

  • Will be able to keep this data secure. This may mean installing security software or making organisational changes to ensure that only authorised personnel are able to access the collected information.

  • Will be able to respect the individual's rights to access and erasure. Under the GDPR, individuals have the right to view all personally-identifiable information that an organisation holds on them. In addition, they usually have the right to request that this information be deleted. Ensure that your data subject(s) will be able to make these requests, and that you'll be able to honour them in a timely manner - requested information will need to be supplied within 1 month of receiving the request, and while there are certain circumstances under which you can refuse to delete personal data (see 'When can I refuse to comply with a request for erasure?'), you will generally need to comply with deletion requests as quickly as possible too.

7. What steps do the ICO recommend?

The ICO have put together a helpful list of 12 steps that organisations should take ASAP in order to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation. By now, you hopefully have a reasonably clear idea of what your responsibilities will be under the new law, but if you're not sure what actions you now need to take, this list is a great place to start.

So let's go through the 12 recommended steps in a little more detail:

1) Make sure everyone's aware of the new law.

Speak to the key decision-makers within your organisation and ensure that they understand the new law and what it requires of them.

2) Document all personal data you currently hold.

You probably already have at least some personal data on record. Now is a good time to review:

  • What data you hold
  • Where it came from
  • Whether you still need it
  • How you're using it
  • Who has access to it
  • Whether you have a lawful basis for keeping it

An information audit may help with this step.

3) Review your privacy policy.

People who interact with your organisation should be able to access a copy of your privacy policy (most companies publish it on their website). Read over your privacy notice and revise it if necessary to ensure that it complies with the GDPR.

If you're not sure what your privacy policy needs to include, you may wish to refer to our own privacy policy as an example - however, please bear in mind that every business is different, and your privacy notice may need to cover certain things that ours does not.

4) Make it easy for individuals to make information requests...

As we've already covered, data subjects have the right to know what information you have on them. Try to make it as easy as possible for data subjects to submit information requests - for instance, you might put a contact form on your website for this purpose, or set up a dedicated email address for right of access requests.

Larger companies may choose to provide an automated system to allow their customers to view, update and delete their own personal information manually. However, developing a tool like this would probably be overkill for small/medium-sized businesses who do not expect to receive many requests.

5) ...and ensure that you're able to respond to these requests.

In addition to the above, you need to make sure that your systems allow you to quickly retrieve and, if necessary, delete people's personal information when they request it. Ensuring that this can be done in a timely manner will help you to comply with the GDPR, and it will save you valuable time if and when a request is submitted.

6) Identify a lawful basis for your data collection / processing.

Remember, there are 6 lawful bases for processing data - make sure you understand them, and identify which one applies to your activities. Bear in mind that you can't change your mind later (e.g. if you collected a customer's contact details on a 'consent' basis because they agreed to receive promotional information from your organisation, you cannot use those details for other purposes on the basis of 'legitimate interests').

Your choice of lawful basis should be documented in your privacy notice - see step 3.

7) Check how you establish consent.

If you collect people's personal data on a 'consent' basis (see above), you need to:

  • Give individuals a clear way to give - or withhold - consent
  • Make it clear what individuals are consenting to

For instance, if there is a form on your website that requires people to enter their contact details, you need to be EXPLICIT about what you plan to do with those contact details. If you're going to send promotional emails, say so. If you plan to share the individual's details with your partner companies, make this clear.

Consent should never be the default option. Here's something you've probably seen quite often on the Internet:

☐ Tick this box if you do not wish to receive promotional emails from us.

In this example, users are automatically consenting to receiving emails until they tick the box. Under the GDPR, this sort of thing will not be allowed - the message above would need to be changed to 'Tick this box if you wish to receive promotional emails from us' or something similar. Make sure you're ASKING for consent instead of giving the option to withdraw it.

8) Think of the children!

Children under the age of 13 cannot legally consent to the collection and processing of their own personal data. A parent or legal guardian must consent on their child's behalf.

If you think that children may interact with your organisation, it may be necessary to implement some kind of age verification system on your website and/or set up a simple way for parents and guardians to consent to data processing activities.

9) Know how to respond to a data breach.

If a security breach allows unauthorised personnel to access the personal data that you hold, you will be expected to respond to the breach properly. Make sure you have an established procedure in place for detecting, reporting and investigating data breaches. (Remember, if you're based in the UK, breaches must be reported to the ICO within 72 hours.)

10) Familiarise yourself with the guidelines.

You're already reading up on the General Data Protection Regulation, but now is also a good time to familiarise yourself with other relevant guidelines, especially the ICO's code of practice for conducting privacy impact assessments.

11) Designate a data protection officer.

While everyone in an organisation has a role to play in keeping data secure and complying with the law, you should appoint (formally or informally) a data protection officer to take overall responsibility for compliance and security.

12) Determine your lead data protection supervisory authority.

If you solely operate within the UK, your data protection supervisory authority is the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). If you hold information on individuals in other EU member states, you should identify the authorities for each of those countries and determine which is the 'lead' authority for your organisation.

8. Are Designer Websites GDPR compliant?

Yes, we are. In fact, we have always been compliant; from the very beginning, we were always extremely careful to store / process customer and staff details securely.

We keep our servers (which hold the data we collect and record for our customers) in a purpose-built secure data centre with firewalls, secure access and activity logging. We have our own defined procedures in place for tracking and using the data that we record. We have always had a designated data protection officer, and we have an up-to-date privacy policy.

When an enquiry is submitted via our website, we do not store the submitted information in a database - we simply receive an email containing the content of the submitted form. These emails are deleted after 12 months.

9. Do I need to do anything about my website?

As stated earlier, all businesses - and all business websites - are different. We can offer some general guidance to help you ensure that your website is GDPR compliant, but please remember that it is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the new law and ensure that every part of your organisation is following it.

With that said, we recommend the following:

  1. Update your privacy policy and cookies policy. Make sure these documents are accurate and exhaustive. Explain all the ways you collect people's data through your website, how that data is used, and how people can contact you to request access to / deletion of their information.

  2. Review the forms on your website. If your website contains any forms that ask users to enter personal data, you must declare why you are capturing that information and what you intend to do with it (e.g. 'we will use this information to inform you about future offers' or 'we reserve the right to share this information with our partner companies'). This should be stated on the form itself as well as in your privacy policy (see above).

  3. Stop making consent the default option. If you use pre-ticked checkboxes on your web forms (or require the user to tick a box to opt OUT of something), you will need to stop doing this before the GDPR comes into force. Ensure that users cannot consent to anything through a lack of action - for instance, users should have to tick a box when they DO wish to be added to your mailing list, not when they want to be kept off it.

  4. Make sure you have consent for any data you already hold. If you have collected people's personal details in the past, you should make sure they are still happy for you to keep hold of them. For example, you may need to make it easier for people to unsubscribe from your mailing list if they no longer wish to be on it.

  5. Ensure that people are able to view and delete their personal information. As we mentioned earlier, you may wish to set up an automated system that allows your customers to manage their own personal data, but a contact email address is sufficient if you're not expecting a lot of requests. Just make sure that anyone looking to access their personal data has a clear way to do it.

10. Can Designer Websites help with GDPR compliance?

It is ultimately your responsibility to comply with the GDPR law, but if you need any help from the Designer Websites team then we will of course assist you wherever possible.

For instance, if you need us to make your web forms compliant, or if you need help with your website's privacy policy, please email info@designer-websites.co.uk and ask for assistance. This work is chargeable (our usual rates apply), and each website is different, so we would have to add you to our list of requests and assess how much time would be needed to make your site compliant. Please bear in mind that we manage hundreds of websites, and it may be some time before your changes can be made.

11. Useful links

Why Won't My Website Show Up on Google?

It's frustrating when your website can't break onto the first page of Google results for that high-volume keyword you've been trying to target, but it's even more frustrating when your website isn't showing up on Google at all.

Why does this happen?

In order for a page to appear as a Google result, it has to be included in Google's index.

When Google notices a new website for the first time, its bots 'crawl' the site and report back so that the site's pages can be added to the index. However, Google don't index all pages indiscriminately – even they don't have the luxury of unlimited server space.

For this reason, if a page doesn't meet certain requirements, Google won't bother to index it. Their algorithm might even decide that none of your pages add any value to the Internet, in which case your whole website may be excluded from the index. And if you're not in the index, you can't show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Check to see if you're indexed

If you think Google isn't showing your website in the search results – even for terms that you really ought to be ranking for – the first thing to do is find out whether or not you're even indexed.

Here's how to do that:

1. Open Google Chrome (or go to google.com).

2. Type your website's URL into the search bar, preceded by 'site:'. For instance:

Google site: search

3. Hit search. Google should now show you a list of your web pages - if none of them are indexed, you'll see a message like this:

No Results Found

If you use Google Search Console to manage your website, you can instead log in and take a look at the Index Status report. This tells you how many of your pages Google currently has indexed, if any.

If none of your pages are indexed...

Here are some of the most common reasons for Google to exclude an entire website from the index:

  • Google hasn't noticed your website yet. If your website only recently went live, it may just be that Google's bots need a little longer to get around to crawling it. You can hurry them along by adding your site in Google Search Console and submitting your sitemap file in the Sitemaps report (or using the Fetch as Google tool – be sure to click 'Submit to index').

  • Google's bots can't access your pages. If your web developer has mistakenly a) blocked your website in the robots.txt file, or b) placed a 'noindex' tag on pages that are supposed to be indexed, this will prevent Google from accessing and indexing your content. If neither of these apply, there are several other reasons why Google may be unable to view your site – perhaps your site was down when Google attempted to crawl it, or maybe your pages take too long to load or cannot be viewed without logging in.

  • Google has penalised your website by de-indexing it. Sometimes, Google will exclude websites from the index as a punishment for breaching the search engine's guidelines. If you have been engaging in unnatural link building practices, filling your site with low-quality or duplicated content, or otherwise doing something you shouldn't have been, your absence from the Google SERPs may be a direct result of your bad behaviour.

If your pages are indexed...

So you've checked, and your website is indexed – you're just not ranking for the keywords you care about. Here are some possible explanations for that:

  • All of your pages are indexed...except the one that matters. Just because most of your site is indexed doesn't necessarily mean that the bots haven't missed something. It may be that a crucial page has been excluded, probably because its content is too similar to that of another page on your site. Google won't waste server space indexing two pages that are near-identical, so make sure your key landing pages aren't being edged out by other, lower-priority pages.

  • Your content needs to be improved. It may be that you're not ranking for that high-volume keyword because Google doesn't think your content meets the needs that the query expresses. Look at the sites that do rank for your chosen keyword, then compare them to your site – what do they do that yours doesn't? Do they provide a better answer to the searcher's question? Does their user interface provide a better, smoother journey? Do they offer a better product range, or more information on the products they sell? Ask yourself these questions and make sure your pages are as good as they can be.

  • You need to boost your website's ranking signals. If all of your pages are indexed and your content is utterly perfect...and you're still not showing up in the SERPs...it may simply be that your website doesn't carry as much weight as other sites do. Google's algorithm takes dozens of different factors into account when deciding which websites should rank the highest, but links are among the most important ranking factors of all. If your competitors have links from lots of high-authority websites (e.g. trusted news outlets, authoritative academic resources, popular content platforms like Buzzfeed), then you'll probably need to get some similarly high-powered links – AND make sure that your content is better than everyone else's – in order to outrank them.

If you need help getting your website ranked, please get in touch with the website optimisation experts at Designer Websites. Contact us now to discuss your requirements.

New Google Search Console

About a month ago, Google announced via their Webmaster Central Blog that the new version of Search Console (originally made available to a limited set of users in August 2017) was going to be released to all site owners who use the tool. The big roll-out has taken a few weeks, but the majority of users are now able to access the redesigned Search Console interface.

Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) in an indispensable tool for website owners, and so we'd like to take a moment to walk you through the new version and explain hpw it can be used. The new Search Console is still being built, and certain reports have not yet been migrated into the new version, but what is there is well worth exploring if you're serious about looking after your website's health.

How do I view the new Search Console?

To access the new version of Google Search Console, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to www.google.com/webmasters and click the big green 'SEARCH CONSOLE' button.

  2. Sign into your Google account to continue.

  3. Once you're on the Search Console home screen, select the property (website) you'd like to manage.

  4. Go to your Messages (under 'Dashboard' in menu).

  5. Look for a message with the title 'Introducing the new Search Console for [website URL]' and open it up. (If you haven't received this message then you probably don't have access to the new Search Console yet - it is still being rolled out, so be patient and you should be granted access soon.)

  6. Click the 'Open the new Search Console' button in the body of the message.

I'm in! So what's new?

The first thing you'll notice upon accessing your new and improved Search Console is the sleek new design.

New Google Search Console

As we've already mentioned, the new Search Console doesn't yet offer as many different reports as its predecessor. The main features of the new version are as follows:

  • Performance
  • Index coverage
  • AMP
  • Sitemaps

Let's familiarise ourselves with these reports one at a time...

Search Console Performance Report

Performance

The 'Performance' report is more or less identical to the 'Search Traffic' report in Search Console Classic. The interface is a little different, and interestingly, there appears to be some disparity between the data in the 'Performance' and 'Search Traffic' reports, but it's still essentially the same tool. Use it to see which queries drive clicks/impressions for your website.

 

Search Console Index Coverage Report

Index coverage

Of all the features that the new Search Console brings to the table, its 'Index coverage' report is unquestionably the most exciting. One of the most frustrating things about using the old Search Console was spotting that Google hadn't indexed some of your pages...but having no way to find out which pages the algorithm had passed over.

The 'Index coverage' report aims to give site owners a clearer idea of which pages have and haven't been indexed (and, more importantly, why). Blind Five Year Old wrote an in-depth blog post about this report back in October, but here's a quick summary of what 'Index coverage' shows you:

  • Error - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed because of some kind of error (e.g. server error).

  • Valid with warnings - Pages that HAVE been indexed, but with some issues that you may want to inspect.

  • Valid - Pages that HAVE been indexed successfully.

  • Excluded - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed, usually (though not always) intentionally. For instance, a page with the 'noindex' tag or a canonical tag that points to an alternate URL will show up in this section of the report.

This report makes it easier than ever before to see which of your pages aren't getting indexed, and to establish what you need to do about it.

 

Search Console AMP Report

AMP

If your website includes any AMP content, this report is worth keeping an eye on as it will inform you of any errors on your accelerated mobile pages. This isn't anything new, though - the old version of Search Console includes a very similar report under Search Appearance > Accelerated Mobile Pages.

 

Search Console Sitemaps Report

Sitemaps

Again, this is just a nicer-looking version of a tool that we've been using for years (find it in the old Search Console under Crawl > Sitemaps). You can submit sitemaps and check the status of all submitted sitemaps here; handily, you can also click through to an 'Index coverage' report for each sitemap you've submitted.

And that's just about it - for now, anyway. Google are still building the new Search Console, so keep your eyes peeled for additional reports as 2018 progresses.

Do you need an expert to look after your website and make sure it's running at peak performance? Contact Designer Websites today - our website optimisation specialists will help you to achieve online success!

Have you ever been scrolling through a website and suddenly your view is blocked by a huge advert? Even worse, have you ever been forced to watch at least 10 seconds of said advert before it’ll show you the website you wanted to visit?

If you have found yourself irritated by these intrusive adverts, you’ll be pleased to know that Google Chrome recently launched a built-in ad blocker feature. However, by Google’s own admission, this is more of a ‘filter’ rather than a complete blocker, as adverts that comply with the Better Ads Standards will be able to continue advertising.

If you do advertise your business on the web, this may strike a little fear into your heart. However, this ad blocker is designed to only stop the most annoying adverts which aim to distract users from the website with hard to click exit buttons and other un-user-friendly experiences.

Website operators were given a few months prior to the Chrome ad blocker launch to comply with the new rules and have been given 30 days after the release to conform. If they do not, Google will block both publishers and websites which display annoying adverts from all advertising.

So, what type adverts does the Chrome Ad Blocker stop?

Google is working by the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads which has identified through testing the ‘ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.

On desktop, these include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts pop up as you scroll down a webpage and block user’s view of the content. 
  • Auto-playing Video Adverts with Sound – this type of advert starts playing with sound without any sort of interaction. 
  • Prestitial Ads with a Countdown - appearing before the page has fully loaded, these adverts force a user to wait a set amount of time before they can close the advert. 
  • Large Sticky Ads – these adverts stick to the bottom of a webpage, taking up 30% or more of the screen.

On a mobile, the blocked adverts include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts are the same as the desktop version and block part or the entire screen.
  • Prestitial Ads – showing before the content has fully loaded, these adverts stop users reaching the content they’re looking for right away.
  • Adverts with a Density Higher than 30% - if an advert is larger than 30%, it will be blocked by the ad blocker.
  • Flashing Animated Ads – this type of advert animates or flashes in an attempt to distract users from the content on the page.
  • Auto-playing Video Ads with Sound – same as the desktop version, any advert that auto-plays sound without a user’s interaction will be blocked.
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown – this intrusive format forces a user to wait a number of seconds before they can see the content on the page.
  • Full Screen Scroll over Ads – this advert type hovers on top of the pages main content and hides it from view. They often take up more than 30% of the page and force a user to scroll past it.
  • Large Sticky Ads – this advert also blocks the user's view of the page's content and takes up more than 30% of the pages real estate.

You can read more about each of these advert types in the Coalition for Better Ads Standards.

Why was the Chrome Ad Blocker introduced?

So, you may be wondering how blocking adverts could benefit a company who received an eye-watering £95.4 billion US dollars in advertising revenue last year.

Vice President of Google Chrome, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, said in his recent blog that Google has ‘seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive.’

In simple terms, Google does not want users downloading third-party software to block the adverts. They believe providing a better user experience is more important than losing money from these intrusive ad formats.

However, as one of the tech superpowers of the world, it’s highly unlikely Google introduced the Chrome ad blocker without their best interest at heart.
As hundreds of thousands of people have installed ad blockers over the years which block all adverts, not just the irritating ones, Google’s introduction of their own ad blocker could actually benefit advertisers.

If users feel less inclined to install an ad blocker because Chrome is already sifting away the most irritating ones, more people will see the advertisers who actually fulfil the advertising standards. The companies who rely on ads to make money may also benefit from this update, as their revenue will not be annihilated by the growth of third-party ad blockers which block all of their adverts.

If Google has control over which adverts are blocked online, both advertisers and Google may stand to benefit from this change.

Adblock, the most popular third-party advert blocking tool, actively blocks all adverts on the web. However, Adblock still allows ‘whitelisted’ adverts, which publishers have to pay to use. Unsurprisingly, Google is one of those publishers who choose to pay a fee which allows their adverts to surpass the block. This fee could be part of the reason Google introduced this update, alongside their ambition to make the web more user-friendly.

Furthermore, the whitelisted format Adblock uses could potentially be part of Google’s long-term plan with this update. If a website or publisher is blocked from advertising entirely due to one bad advert, would there be a type of ‘whitelist’ feature introduced to allow them to advertise again? Only time will tell if Google plans to introduce a feature like this.

Will the Chrome Ad Blocker affect me? 

If your website does not advertise or display adverts in the aforementioned formats, you will be unaffected by this update. Websites which only use the acceptable standards of advertising may even find they benefit from this update as their adverts are more likely to be seen.

However, if you use the Display Network for prospecting or remarketing purposes, you may find some of your adverts could be blocked due to where they are placed. For example, if your adverts usually display on a website which Google decides shows too many annoying adverts via Adsense, your ads may be blocked on this website.

Alternatively, if you let publishers advertise on your website, you may want to check they comply with the Better Ads Standards. Google has introduced a way you can check on the new and updated search console, called the ‘Ad Experience Report’.

You can access your Ad Experience Report here to find out if your website displays any adverts users deem annoying. If your website does not pass this test, you have 30 days to sort out any non-compliant advertising and you can request a re-review.

Here’s a video from Google to help you use the Ad Experience Report.

With the introduction of the Chrome ad blocker, it’s more important than ever to ensure your advertising is done right. Our experienced PPC team specialises in this subject and will ensure your adverts comply with the standards. Find out more about how our PPC team can help you here. 

Voice Search: Has It Changed SEO?

Do you have a voice assistant in your home? If you do, you’re not alone. It is estimated that around 8.2 million people own an Amazon Echo device and Google Home is not too far behind, selling more than one Google Home device every second since October 2017.

Furthermore, a study found that 40% of adults now use voice search at least once per day. Voice search has managed to find its way into every aspect of our lives, from finding out the age of a film star to sourcing the cheapest flights. With a reach this large, it is inevitable that the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) would edit and improve its techniques in order to stay on top of the changes voice search has brought.

Voice search and the skills of voice assistants are constantly changing as the teams behind them aim to improve their usability. Recently, debate surrounding advertising on voice assistants has started to heat up, so we thought we would take a look back at how voice search has affected SEO, and where we think it might go in the future.

More...

Bespoke Online Solutions

Truly successful online businesses don't just need a website that's user-friendly and optimised for search engines. More often than not, they need specialised functionality, a significant level of automation, comprehensive administration portals, integration with other business solutions...the list is long, and of course, every business has its own specific requirements.

In this post, we'd like to show you 10 quick and simple examples of the bespoke online solutions that we've created and implemented for our clients.

More...

Science Quiz

When past apprentice winner Ricky Martin came to us asking for help on a new project we were more than happy to help. We originally designed the Hyper Recruitment Solutions website back in 2012 and have been working closely with them ever since to make sure their website continues to grow alongside their business.

Hyper Recruitment Solutions is a recruitment agency that specialises in scientific and technological jobs, aiming to pair talented and passionate job seekers with the latest job opportunities in the science industry.

Ricky came to us with the idea of creating a fun and useful quiz that will answer the question 'What Type of Scientist Am I?' So, he gave us full autonomy over the format, design and questions, which our team relished.

We planned the quiz, wrote the questions, designed the characters and developed the website, and frankly, we thoroughly enjoyed it!

We designed the quiz based on a personality test, with 10 questions and 5 potential answers for each. Based on the answers chosen we would suggest which type of scientist they would be most suited to. This would not only give people an entertaining way to see what job they may be well suited for, but also create more brand awareness for HRS.

The task included creating a lot of content from scratch, which included:

  • Researching the scientific roles and developing appropriate questions and answers for the quiz
  • Designing the algorithm for determining the result of the quiz
  • Writing content for each scientist profile
  • Designing 20 characters for the scientist profiles
  • Designing the host of the quiz, in the likeness of Ricky himself
  • Developing the code for the quiz

If you want to try the quiz for yourself you can follow this link:

What Type of Scientist Am I?

Scientist Quiz Results

Following the design and development of the quiz, we also helped with marketing once live. This involved creating a social media plan that would extend its reach by making use of the quiz's share functionality. We also utilised Facebook advertising and Twitter to get the quiz out into the industry.

If you would like to talk to us about quirky marketing techniques for your business then we’d love to hear from you. We are not only high-quality bespoke website designers, but we also have over a decade of experience in the world of online marketing and advertising techniques. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for your business.

Top .NET and Ecommerce Developers

We at Designer Websites are very proud to announce that we've been featured in not one but two lists of the UK's very best web developers. Clutch, who describe themselves as a 'data-driven field guide to business buying decisions', included Designer Websites Ltd in the following lists:

As ecommerce specialists, we were particularly pleased to learn that we'd made Clutch's list of the UK's leading ecommerce developers. Our experienced designers and developers work hard to provide high-quality ecommerce solutions that are tailored to each individual client, and it feels great to be recognised for the quality of the work we do.

Visit our Ecommerce Web Design page to find out more about the bespoke ecommerce solutions we provide here at Designer Websites.

More Useful Links:

UPDATE 30/01/18: We have also been named among Clutch's Top UK Inbound Marketing Agencies!

What Does The Facebook Newsfeed Update Mean For Marketers

Aah Facebook, from fake news to dog memes you have been keeping us on our toes.

Recently Facebook has been ruffling feathers of its advertisers, which seems strange considering the huge amounts of revenue it creates for the social media mogul. But how much will this affect the way we use Facebook to reach out to our customers? Why the sudden change?

Well, a recent Facebook announcement explains how this isn't a random change, it's their attempt to return to their roots. Mark Zuckerburg announced how:

 

"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us"

 

But Mr Zuckerburg explains that this is something that Facebook has lost sight of, and it's time to change that. He goes on to explain how they would like to make a positive platform where its users share 

 

"relevant content [that's] helping you have more meaningful social interactions."  

 

So what does that mean for the newsfeed?

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

 

That's apparently enough to have marketers and advertisers shaking in their boots. Sharing useful, meaningful content that people want to see and share? That doesn't sound very us? To an extent, it's not.

Most Facebook users are used to seeing brands flogging their products and services and most users have grown accustomed to scrolling away from this newsfeed clutter. But what about the occasional conversion this can encourage? Is it really as bad as everyone seems to think?

As usual, the Facebook announcement itself is quite lengthy, but lacking specifics that many marketers are waiting for. For instance, none of the official announcements have specified if this will this affect paid ads. Presumably in some shape or form, but no one has actually mention paid advertising, so maybe those who use paid Facebook ads won't notice too much of a change.  However, for those who use Facebook to reach out to people for free, it seems like we'll have to take a different approach.

This video may clear things up a bit more for us all:

 

 

 

Okay, so Facebook plans to rank content depending on how useful and meaningful this post will be to you, with person to person posts ranking more highly above business and brand posts. Facebook has previously brushed off criticism about its influence during elections and other news scandals and have avoided accusations concerning social media's negative effect on people's mental health. However, this change seems to be an attempt to combat the negative influence Facebook can have and instead become a more positive platform

What does this mean for marketers? 


Honestly? We can't be 100% sure. As with most announcements concerning the digital marketing world, there a rush of panic before we receive all the information. Until these changes roll out at some point this year we won't know the full effect. However, we can prepare in a few ways:

  • Quality over quantity seems to be key. - Posting lots won't matter if it’s useless spam. Facebook will value posts that will encourage meaningful interactions, with other people and the post itself. Start creating content that not only shows off your brand but really helps or interests the reader. It something we should all be doing already, but now it's time to really put your back into it. 
  • No more clickbait - It just won't work, it won't show up on a newsfeed so there's really no use in it. Besides, titling your blog "You'll NEVER believe this!" to reveal something mundane and misleading is just going to bother readers and do your brand more harm than good. Time to stop with the "Share/like/comment for your chance to win!" posts too, Facebook will just outsmart this transparent tactic.  
  • Use the "Prioritise Friend" feature - you'll have to encourage followers to use this tool, we imagine it will take some convincing but if you can it means you'll still show up first in all your most valuable customers feeds.

Although this may complicate how easy it is to get your brand out there on social media, it may result in more meaningful responses for marketers too. Long has it been difficult to prove that social media leads to conversions, so perhaps better quality content will help you connect with those with a genuine interest in your business.

In theory, this change will value genuine interactions between people, so that when a happy customer of yours recommends you it will actually count for more.

As we've said, the other online marketing experts and ourselves can only make educated guesses as what is to come, you'll have to watch this space to see the real impact. As always, when we know, you'll know.


If you need any help with your online marketing strategy we are more than happy to help. Call our team of friendly experts for advice on your website design or digital marketing. Please get in contact with us today by clicking here

 

Whether you're a Millennial, a Generation Z, or just someone who spends a lot of time online, in this day and age we now expect to be able to get what we want almost instantly. Need somewhere to eat? Google it. Need new headphones? Amazon it. Need to get hold of someone? Facebook them

The internet has given us all the expectation that instant gratification can be had at the push of a button, but how impulsive are we when it comes to parting with our money? How has the online search game changed the way we shop?

Well, although it is much easier now to shop online than it is to elbow your way through in-store January sales, many will still choose to research a product before buying. This will vary between shoppers; some will choose to look at a product in a shop and find it cheaper online, and others will do some online research before going into stores. Either way, online research and instore/online shopping now come in hand in hand and that's something to keep in mind when creating your online marketing campaign.

Here are some of the ways search effects the buying process and what you can do to capture this traffic: 

Online Inspiration

People want, but they don't always know what they want. It's human nature; we get an idea but we want to know what everyone else is doing before making a final decision. So to start the research process we turn to a search engine; "cool room inspiration", "Secret Santa ideas", "hair inspiration", sound familiar?

With so many options to browse through its no wonder that people look online for ideas when they at a loss as to where to start.

Pinterest has built its empire on people's desire to be inspired. Losing the need for any written information, this visual platform gives us everything we need to get inspired all in one place. Social media is a great way to capture customers in their research stage. For visual inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram are great. To extend your reach and try to inspire those who didn't know they wanted to be inspired, Facebook and Twitter are very helpful too. Use hashtags to appear on relevant searches and capture this attention.

For more product specific searches, such as "flooring inspiration" a blog is a fantastic way to inspire and inform at the same time. Blogs are a vital way of not only inspiring customers but also for getting them to the products you actually sell, which is often where social media can fall short. 

Relevant, well-ranking blogs don't only attract organic website traffic, they can also give the customer examples of options they can get from you. Although they still may not be ready to make an actual purchase, your brand will be in their mind when they do.

Research and Rethink 

We want answers and we want them now, and luckily it's actually as easy as that. Of course, the internet is full of bias and misguided articles, but we still seem to trust a lot of what Google tells us. For instance, let's look at two of the biggest searches from the Christmas period:

"Which is better, Android or Apple smartphones?"

"Should I get an Xbox or a PlayStation?"

So following my initial search of "which is better, Android or Apple smartphones", Google gives me three relevant, recent articles. However, none of which give me my answer in the visible description, I could click but with my need for instant gratification my eye quickly goes to the "People also ask" snippet which gives me an instant answer: 

The top result in the snippet box actually seems a lot more bias, with a leading question of "Is an iPhone better than an Android". It seems like the same question I asked originally, but before i've even read the description it gives me the impression that Apple has the edge, later confirmed by the description, so I don't even need to read the full article. Despite this being an older article than the top result, it answers my question quicker. 

Without even searching for my next question, Google anticipates that I'm also needing advice regarding my Xbox/PS4 dilemma, another 2016 article lets me know that PlayStation comes out on top. So there we go, I'm getting an iPhone and a PlayStation 4 for Christmas (lucky me, right?). 

Of course, it's not as simple as that, many people will do further research before parting with the money particularly for these pricey items. Which is exactly why blogs are still so important for capturing organic traffic for those who do want more information.

However, it does highlight how important Google featured snippets have become, which is why we have previously written a blog about how to capture a snippet. With any of these products, a large part of it is personal preference, but for those with no opinion formed already, search research may be the thing that swings them either way. 

It's important to find out what your target audience is trying to research and create useful content that answers their questions, remain informative and interesting to get your opinion across - and do it quickly.  

Browse before you buy

In a way, search does also make the selling process far more competitive than when people shop in person. Although you may be able to find a product a couple of quid cheaper somewhere else, half the battle is won by the time you're in the store. Often, it's easier to be slightly unaware that a product is available for a couple pounds cheaper in a different store than to physically go store to store checking, and having to go back to find wherever the cheapest one was. 

But that's easy to do online so can make all the difference. It takes seconds to whip out your mobile phone and find out where to find the cheapest deal can be found. Amazon even makes a point of pointing out to you that you can find it cheaper somewhere else, which is great for me as a consumer as I look for that new PlayStation 4 of mine: 

Now I can see the cheapest option, the reputation of the seller and the delivery cost. If I'm quick I can pay a bit extra and get it tomorrow - instant gratification indeed.

Clearly, this puts pressure on ecommerce websites who now need to stand out in an over-saturated online market. Be sure to compare your prices and deals with your competitors, ask yourself: How much am I charging for my product/service? Is it still a good deal after delivery? Does my website make the product/service stand out from my competitors?

We recently did a blog on how to make your ecommerce website stand out, which you may find helpful. You can find it by clicking here

In Conclusion

The way we research online before means that creating relevant content is more important than ever to not only attract traffic to your website but to inform potential customers that what you're selling is worth buying, whether they buy from you instore or online.

Inspiring them to aspire to have your product/service is the first step, then its time to explain why you're the best place to make that purchase. Keep an eye on your competitors, the quality of your website and products, and what your customers need from you in order to make the most of search

If you want any advice on your online marketing, from website design to SEO we can help. Contact us today to get help from our friendly specialists.

New Label Source Website

Label Source are a UK-based business who supply a comprehensive range of labels, tags and signs to customers all over the world. Their product range is too diverse to list in full right now, but here are just a few examples of what they offer:

  • Asset tags
  • Electrical warning labels
  • Workplace safety signs
  • Pipeline identification tape
  • Quality assurance labels
  • Warehouse markers
  • Shipping labels

Label Source recently asked us to give their old website a new, more modern-looking design; more specifically, they wanted to make it easier for smartphone and tablet users to view Label Source's products and make purchases online.

We're pleased to announce that Label Source's new and improved website is now live - visit www.labelsource.co.uk now to see how it looks.

What's new?

In addition to the clean, professional new look that we created for the Label Source website, we also made the following changes:

  • Responsive Design - As mentioned above, one of this project's key aims was to ensure a good user experience on smartphones and other mobile devices. The new Label Source site has a fully responsive design that looks great and is easy to navigate on screens of all sizes.

  • HTTPS Encryption - The entire Label Source website is now under HTTPS (as opposed to HTTP). This means that all information entered on the Label Source site is now sent securely, so the company's customers can place orders safe in the knowledge that their data is encrypted.

  • Improved Back End - We also updated the back end of the Label Source website to make it easier for the company to manage their product options and category pages.

Do you have an ecommerce website that's in need of a redesign? Contact Designer Websites for a quotation!

SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites

A successful ecommerce business is a complex collection of business processes, automation, and manpower. This varies significantly among industries, but one thing is for certain, you need to rank well in the major search engines in order to achieve high-volume sales. Otherwise, you’ll be dependent upon advertising platforms like Google AdWords or Bing Ads.

However, ranking on page 1 of Google or Bing is not as simple as it might sound - especially if your products are very popular e.g. mobile phones. The fundamental requirements to rank well are a high-quality, user-friendly, very fast and mobile-friendly website. Once you have these in order, you can then utilise SEO techniques to further optimise your website for higher ranking. With that being said, let's dive into our SEO tips for ecommerce websites:

If your website is built on an old platform, loads slowly or is not secure, then you need to address these issues before wasting time trying to optimise your site any further. Here are some tools for testing the quality of your website:

Now, let’s go ahead and assume you have a good quality ecommerce website and you just want to focus on the further optimisations. Below you will find a few simple SEO techniques that you can utilise to enhance your chances of higher rankings for your ecommerce website.

Research and use unique keywords per page

You can and should research keywords for your industry, products, services, etc. Find out how your potential customer searches for your products or service by utilising tools like:

Once you have your list of keywords it’s a good idea to map each keyword phrase to a specific page on your ecommerce website. For this, we would recommend that you use a spreadsheet as it can get lengthy and disorganised unless in some sort of manageable order. 

Now, a big no-no in the world of optimisation is duplication, whether that’s duplicate paragraphs or just duplicate keywords. If you’re targeting the same keyword with multiple pages then Google will likely choose to only display one of those pages in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), which may mean you miss out on opportunities to be seen.

For example, let’s say that you have an ecommerce website that sells safety harnesses. You could just label all of the products a “safety harness” and still be factually correct, but the chances are you likely have a “Climbing Harness”, a “Rescue Harness”, a “Fall Arrest Harness” and so forth. Therefore, in order to capitalise on a wider number of searches, you should first find out how your customers search for safety harnesses. Look at how they phrase their search and even the types of questions they ask surrounding that product. The next step is to make sure you address each of those searches with a page for that product, using the keyword phrase that you’ve identified. 

I know the question you’re about to ask... in those examples, isn’t the word harness repeated? Well-spotted. Yes, it is, but rest assured that Google is not that pedantic and will be able to tell the difference in your meaning (they’re quite clever in that way). Duplication is usually picked up from repetition of the same words in the same format. So, if you try to rank 2 pages for the keyword “Rescue Safety Harness” then you would be better off setting the copy on one page as “Confined Space Harness” and the other as “Rescue Safety Harness”. This way, Google will see the difference and potentially rank both pages, whereas if both are just set as the latter then it is highly likely that only 1 of those pages will be indexed.

Ecommerce websites quite often have hundreds of pages for each of their products, so this may seem like a tedious task. However, you should see this as an opportunity to rank for hundreds of different keywords. If you optimise your copy well enough, you may find your website reaches first page positions for a wide range of searches, which will result in much higher volumes of traffic.

Depending on the amount of copy on the page, it is usually recommended to stick to just one keyword per product page. This will allow you to target that keyword more efficiently, than if you were attempting to target multiple keywords at once. If you are instead writing a category page or a home page which usually has more content, you can try to target 2 or 3 keywords if you feel it’s necessary.

Ensure every page has a unique title tag/meta description

When looking at the SERPs, your title tag is your first opportunity to get your consumers attention. The meta description is then the snippet of information which will convince your consumers to click through to the website. This is why it is so important to get these aspects right. 

Google specifies that it is ‘important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page of your site’. This is because it needs to be clear to the consumer what that page entails and shouldn’t be too similar to a page displaying an entirely different product. It is also important to try and include your chosen keyword in your page title and meta tag as this will clearly show Google what your page is about. 

Google recommends branding your titles with your company name, but this is optional and certainly doesn’t have to be done on every page. We recommend including this at the end of the title if you have enough space for it (we recommend no more than 63 characters including spaces), and also separate it with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon or pipe. This means a good title tag will look something like this:

SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites | Designer Websites

Your meta description also needs to clearly explain what your page is about in a couple of sentences. In previous years, meta descriptions were only allowed to be around 160 characters before they were truncated by Google. Now, new SERP changes mean meta descriptions can now be displayed up to 278 characters. This should be more than enough length to include at least one instance of your keyword and create a unique and concise description of the contents of the page. 

Utilise an integrated blog to its full extent

A blog on your ecommerce website is not only good for keeping your customers updated, it’s a great way to target more keywords. When you’re planning each page of your website and choosing unique keywords, there are sure to be a few that don’t make the cut. These can be targeted with blog posts.

Plan ahead and write blog posts around these keywords in an attempt to bring more users through to the website. Try to provide informative content which will help your customers in some respect. This will not only help bring customers to the website, it will also create a level of trust between your company and the consumer.

Another way blog posts can be utilised is to try and achieve the ‘featured snippet’ on the Google SERPs. Even if you’ve not heard of featured snippets before, you’ve most likely come across one. This is the result that usually appears at the top when you ask google a question.

Here’s an example:

To achieve a featured snippet, you need to answer the question better than anyone else. It needs to be clear to Google that you have answered the question as accurately and concisely as possible. That means getting straight to the point and no filler writing (or keyword stuffing).

Featured snippets have been referred to as search position #0 as they come above the search position #1. It has also been found that achieving the featured snippet can increase traffic to your ecommerce website by as much as 500%, in some cases.

Utilising your blog to target keywords and attempt to achieve the featured snippet is a great way of increasing traffic to your website and improving ranking through the use of SEO techniques.

We hope these SEO tips for Ecommerce websites have helped you plan your next steps in the digital marketing world. If you are looking for professional help with your ecommerce website, then please get in touch anytime. 

 

Ecommerce Website Design Ideas

When you're trying to succeed in the world of ecommerce, there are lots of different factors to consider. Nowadays, most online shoppers expect ecommerce websites to meet each of the following criteria:

  • Secure checkout system
  • Appealing, mobile-friendly design
  • Minimal loading times
  • User-friendly site navigation
  • Extensive product information (so that people know exactly what they're buying)
  • Competitive prices
  • Positive feedback from other customers
  • Ability to contact the seller with ease

Consumer trust is key to the success of any ecommerce website, and you will probably need to tick all of the above boxes in order to earn the trust of the average online shopper in this day and age.

With this in mind, here are three helpful ecommerce website design ideas from the ecommerce experts here at Designer Websites:

Use engaging, good-quality product images.

Most people won't purchase something online unless they're certain of what they're paying for. Detailed product descriptions are important, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and a few good images will generally sell your product a lot more effectively than a few paragraphs of text.

Both quality and quantity are important here. You need detailed images that make your items look enticing, but you should also try to offer a variety of images for each product. Try to cover all bases: one no-frills image that clearly shows what the product looks like; one or two photos of the product in use; a picture to show what the product looks like in its packaging, and another to show what's actually inside the box. You get the idea - your product images should aim to answer every question the average customer might ask.

Of course, you should also ensure that the images on your website aren’t so large that they slow the whole page down. Loading speed is a critical issue for Internet users these days, and even an extra second or two can have a disastrous impact on your website’s conversion rate, so make sure those beautiful images are optimised for a smooth, speedy browsing experience!

Put lots of emphasis on customer reviews.

We all seek approval from other people, and this tendency can be clearly seen in the behaviour of online shoppers: by and large, we're far more likely to buy something if several other people say they did the same and had a good experience.

For this reason, you not only need to gather reviews from your satisfied customers, you need to put those reviews right where everyone will see them. Your ecommerce website design should ensure that every potential customer sees all the 5-star ratings and positive comments that your other customers have left. It should also be clear how many people have reviewed each product, since a 5-star average rating is a lot more persuasive if multiple people have given the product full marks.

Shoppers see positive reviews as seals of approval - they have a hugely reassuring effect on the potential buyer, so make sure those ratings and recommendations aren't buried way down at the bottom of the page.

Make it easy for users to find what they're looking for.

The modern Internet user is an impatient creature, and the more barriers you put between them and what they're looking for, the more likely it becomes that they'll leave your website and shop with one of your competitors instead. As we mentioned before, it's important to ensure that your pages load quickly, but it's just as important to make the journey from one page to the next as seamless as possible.

This can be achieved in a number of different ways:

  • Make sure your website's search function works properly, and ensure that the search bar is easy to find no matter what page the user is on

  • List 'related products' (or similar) on your product pages. That way, if the user decides that the product they're looking at isn't quite what they need, it's easy for them to find a suitable alternative.

  • Put important information - your delivery options, your returns policy, and so on - somewhere that's reasonably easy to spot so users don't waste time trying to find it.

  • When designing your site hierarchy (i.e. your categories and sub-categories), put yourself in the shoes of your average user and try to come up with a sensible structure that's easy to navigate even if you've never seen it before.

  • Make your homepage as helpful as possible. It may be tempting to simply fill your homepage with the products you're most keen to sell, but this may not be best for the user. Again, you should endeavour to put yourself in their shoes: if someone arrives on your homepage, are they looking for a specific product or piece of information, or are they just browsing for ideas? Do they want to know about your company, or do they want to see the newest additions to your range?

Essentially, your aim should be to minimise the number of clicks / actions the user has to perform in order to achieve their goal.

If you need a bespoke ecommerce website designed by professionals, we at Designer Websites are the people to call. Request an ecommerce quote here!