Questions to ask your web designer

There are lots of people out there who call themselves web designers. But if you want a quality website that delivers real wins for your business, there's a huge difference between a professional web design company and an amateur working out of their bedroom.

Thanks to free tools like Wordpress and Wix, just about anyone can put together a basic website using a pre-existing template, and regrettably, there are plenty of so-called 'developers' who will charge you an exorbitant amount of money for something that you could easily have done yourself.

Before you pay someone to create a website for you, ask them the following questions and make sure you're going to get your money's worth!

1. Can I see some examples of your work?

Never agree to hire someone before you've seen what they're capable of. Any experienced web designer will be able to show you a portfolio of their previous work or send you some links to websites they've created in the past. If your prospective developer hesitates to offer you any examples of what they can do, that's a huge red flag and you should probably look elsewhere.

(By the way, if you want to see some of the websites we've created, check out our Web Design Portfolio.)

2. Do you build every website from scratch?

In our blog post about the advantages of bespoke web design, we explained why a bespoke website - built from scratch, specifically for you - is generally a far better investment than a template-type site that's based on a pre-built system.

Of course, a bespoke website will cost you more, but that extra cost will net you the following benefits:

  • A unique design that's tailored to the needs of your audience
  • Ongoing support from professional developers who can create just about anything you want
  • Improved security, making it harder for hackers to target your site
  • Far more flexibility and scalability - crucial for a growing business

Most modern businesses can't get by with just some text on a static web page. Whether you need a booking system, a secure online checkout, or just the ability to add and edit content at the drop of a hat, you're far better off with a bespoke website from a team of developers who can translate your big ideas into user-friendly online solutions.

3. How long will it take to get my new website live?

You obviously don't want to hire a web designer who's going to take the best part of a year to deliver what you need, but you should also watch out for developers who tell you that your new site will be live within a week. If they're able to turn a whole website around that quickly, they're probably not doing a very good job of it.

A well-constructed website takes time to create. When we take on a new project, we spend a fair bit of time...

  • Getting to know the client's market and their target audience
  • Checking out the competition to see what we're up against
  • Performing keyword research to find out what people search for
  • Working with the client to settle on a design they love
  • Mapping out what pages the website will include
  • Optimising the website and its content for search engines
  • Testing the site to prevent errors and eliminate bugs

You wouldn't eat a pork joint that's only spent a few minutes in the oven, and you shouldn't be satisfied with a website that was slapped together with no research or planning.

4. Will my website be mobile friendly?

As of November 2016, more people are browsing the Internet on mobile devices than on desktop computers. When your new website goes live, many of your users - perhaps even the majority - will view it on their smartphones. So you'd better make sure that your site looks just as good on a small screen as it does on your PC.

We've worked with a wide range of different companies over the years. Some of the websites we create get as much as 75% of their traffic from tablets and mobile phones, and even our B2B clients, whose average customer is someone working at a desk in an office, tend to rely on mobile and tablet users for about a quarter of their website visits these days. There's no way around it: if your web developer can't deliver a responsive website that's easy to navigate on all devices, you're going to alienate a sizeable chunk of your potential audience.

5. Will I be able to make changes in the future?

The world is always changing, and while you might be 100% happy with your website when it launches, it probably won't be too long before you want to make some tweaks. Perhaps you'll expand your business and start promoting a new set of services. Perhaps you'll hire an extra pair of hands, in which case your 'Meet the Team' page will need updating. Perhaps there'll be a global pandemic and you'll want to reassure your customers that you're still open for business. Who knows what additions and changes you might require in a few months' time?

Before you settle on a web developer, you should make sure that you'll always have the option to edit and improve your website when necessary. If there's something you'll need to update regularly (e.g. special offers, promotional banners, customer testimonials), you should mention this up front - your web design agency may suggest setting up a content management system (CMS) that allows you to make those changes yourself instead of having to go through them every time an update is needed. Of course, there will always be changes that you can't foresee, so you should also ask your web designer how much they'll charge you for future developments.

If your business needs a new website, Designer Websites can help! Here are some of the things our clients have said about us...

"Working with Designer Websites was so easy - they knew exactly what I wanted and executed it to perfection!" - Alana Spencer, Ridiculously Rich by Alana

"The websites that we have created in partnership with Designer Websites are just incredible. Thank you for your hard work and continued support." - John Sheppard, eTrader

"We are so pleased we chose Designer Websites to overhaul our site. They did an amazing job and were a pleasure to work with." - Andrew Buckingham, Slide Candy

Give us a call on 01446 339050 to discuss your requirements with one of our expert web designers!

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Are you thinking about taking your business online? You're not alone! The COVID-19 pandemic has left many brick-and-mortar shops closed until further notice, but online shops have seen an unprecedented rise in customers since lockdown began.

Countless people are now turning to the Internet for their favourite products and necessities, so opening a digital store for your customers to use is a no-brainer. Here's where to start:

1. Choose a domain name

Choosing a domain name that fits your business is an important first step when you're taking your business online. Ideally, your domain name will be the same as (or very close to) your business name - for example, you can see that our domain name is designer-websites.co.uk. This will help people to match your website to your brand.

Here are a few other things to bear in mind when you're choosing a domain name:

  • Choose a suitable domain extension like .com or .co.uk
  • Avoid domain names that include other people's trademarks - this can cause legal problems

There are lots of different websites you can use to find and register your domain name. GoDaddy and Ionos are two popular registrars. Once you think you’ve found the right domain, you can either register it yourself or ask your website developer to do this for you. Once registered you'll own it for at least a year, so make sure you choose wisely.

2. Set up a website

Once your domain is up and running, it's time to start thinking about the exciting part: setting up your website! There are lots of pre-built systems and free platforms out there, , but in our opinion, these are simply not the best way to go if you want a quality site.

Although pre-built systems might look like a good deal, there are several reasons why we'd recommend a bespoke solution if you're taking your business online. Here are just a few of them...

  • More freedom to customise your website's functionality and design
  • Significantly improved scalability
  • More flexibility to integrate 3rd party solutions
  • Improved website security
  • Much better optimisation
  • Better tracking

The list goes on - read our blog about the advantages of a bespoke website design if you'd like to find out more.

Your website needs to:

  • Be visually representative of your brand
  • Show up in Google's search results
  • Work seamlessly across a range of devices
  • Generate successful sales / enquiries

We know this sounds like an awful lot of work when you're already shouldering all the pressures and responsibilities of running a business, but fear not - here at Designer Websites, we have in-house graphic designers, developers, and copywriters who can do all of the hard work for you. Whether you need an ecommerce website that allows your loyal customers to shop online or a simple brochure site to help you generate more enquires, we can help.

Over the years, we've supported all kinds of businesses as they've made the transition from brick-and-mortar store to online success story. Check out some of our case studies if you'd like to see how we did it.

If you're interested in taking your business online, you can request a free, no-obligation quote here:

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3. Integrate a payment method

One way to help your customers feel secure when they're placing an order on your website for the first time is to integrate a recognisable, reputable payment system. Designer Websites is an official Sage Pay partner, but there are other options like PayPal, Stripe, Wirecard and Worldpay that you might consider too.

For added consumer confidence, you should also:

  • Make sure your website has a valid SSL certificate. This will ensure that any sensitive details (e.g. passwords, credit card numbers) submitted via your website are encrypted and therefore much harder for hackers to steal.
  • Add an express checkout option so new users aren't forced to register an account on your site when making a quick purchase.

4. Follow the law

As you might imagine, selling your wares online comes with a set of legal obligations that may seem a little overwhelming if you've only ever sold in-store. Here's a brief overview to help you get to grips with the basics:

  • You need to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) if you are collecting any personal data from your users.
  • You must clearly display appropriate terms of use, a privacy notice, VAT details, cookie/marketing consent and information about pricing and delivery costs.
  • You should be aware of age restrictions that apply to your good/services and (if applicable) set up a method of verifying age before the checkout.
  • You should be mindful of copyright. Images, text and even the architecture of a website site can be copyrighted. Make sure you're only using digital assets that you have the rights to use.

5. Let customers know you're online

Although you might not be closing the doors of your real-life store for good, it's important to make people aware your business has a new space online. There are many different ways you can reach out to old and new customers to share the good news, including...

  • Social Media

Use your existing social media channels (or set some up) to make a bit of noise about your new website. There are so many platforms to choose from, you'll have no problem reaching your target audience in no time at all.

We'd recommend tailoring your posts to suit each platform; for example, you could post a detailed announcement on Facebook and a more casual mention on your Instagram story. This gives people lots of different ways to discover that your business has moved online. (Don't forget to include a link back to your new website whenever possible!)

  • Email / Newsletter

A great way to let your existing customers know that you've moved online is to send them a simple, informative email. You could include a promotion to encourage them to make their first purchase on your online store. While this won't directly help you to attract new customers, it is a great way to keep your loyal customers in the loop.

Operating as a stand-alone offline business is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Don't get left behind and lose sales to your competitors. Take your business online with a little help from the Designer Websites team.

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bounce back after covid header

Since the UK went into lockdown on 23 March, the ecommerce landscape has changed rapidly. All of a sudden, 'non-essential' brick and mortar stores were closed down and customers were forced to fulfil their shopping needs online. If you run an ecommerce store, this is music to your ears, right?

Well, with a massive surge in digital shoppers and increased pressure on supply chains, some ecommerce stores have struggled to keep up with demand while others, like luxury brands, are seeing a significant drop in sales as fewer people have excess cash to splash.

So, while some ecommerce stores are seeing a huge spike in orders, others are falling behind. Wherever your ecommerce business falls on the spectrum, we're sure you're starting to think about your post-lockdown strategy. Here are a few tips to help make sure that your business bounces back after COVID-19.

Think about the context of searches

The way that people search - and the context behind certain queries - has changed over the last few months. It's important that your ecommerce store responds to this shift in intent appropriately to ensure a steady flow of sales. But what do we mean by a change in context?

Let's take, for example, a popular beauty brand like Boots. This time last year, it's likely that Boots had a high volume of traffic from users searching for face masks.

Of course, in this context, people were mostly looking for face masks of the cosmetic variety. With hundreds of skincare brands on offer, Boots was well equipped to give these users what they wanted.

Now, of course, users searching for face masks are probably looking for something completely different: a face covering to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Although the keyword face masks is the same, the intent behind this search has changed.

So how have Boots responded to this? They've added a section to their website that focuses predominantly on face masks and face coverings. This category features prominently on their homepage and ranks highly for the term face mask (as shown below).

Boots search result for face masks

We recommend looking at the keywords and queries that are most valuable to your business in relation to COVID-19. Do these terms still hold the same meaning that they held 6 months ago? If not, it might be time to reconsider your product line and optimise your website accordingly.

Adapting your website to meet demand

As someone who runs an ecommerce business, you already know how important it is to make sure users can find what they're looking for quickly. With competition for certain products at an all-time high, optimising the user experience can make the difference between a sale and fail in the post-lockdown market.

Moz's Luke Carthy pointed out in a recent article that searching for coronavirus on Holland and Barrett's website previously showed no results, which is hard to believe when products like hand sanitisers, paracetamol and other medications that they offer were highly sought after.

Holland and Barrett website

Image taken from Moz.com

What went wrong here? It's possible that the health and wellbeing giant didn't look at their on-site search box to see how customers were searching at the time. Therefore, they didn't have a page set up to show relevant products when a search for coronavirus was made. Without a dedicated page for coronavirus-related products, it's likely that Holland and Barrett missed out on sales!

Learn from this and apply the same logic to your ecommerce website. Take a look at the things people are searching for on your site. Do you see many searches for coronavirus or other related terms? If so, what results are your users seeing? Make sure relevant products appear - it could boost conversions and win sales over competitor sites.

Improve filters

As well as adding new landing pages, sections, and products to fill gaps in the market, you should also consider making it easier for users to tell what you do and don't have in stock.

With online shopping booming and supply chains under immense pressure right now, your users might be looking for things that seem to be out of stock everywhere! Reduce hassle and keep your customers happy by:

  • Adding a filter to your site so users can quickly see what's in stock and what isn't
  • Creating a form that allows users to sign up for an email notification when a certain product is back in stock

The filter might help you secure a sale there and then, while the email notifications can help make sure customers return to your site rather than going with one of your competitors.

Offer alternative products

Even if you make all the changes that we've suggested so far, there may still be times when you just can't fulfil the exact needs of your customers. However, there are still things you can do to boost your post-COVID sales.

Let's say, for example, that you've seen a huge influx in orders for your bird feeders during lockdown because people are spending more time in their gardens. That's great, but you had no way of predicting this unusual spike in sales and now all of your bird feeders are out of stock!

What can you do to combat this? We recommend adding a section to the bottom of your product pages to show your customers other relevant items that are currently in stock (e.g. a bird bath or bird house). Although this isn't exactly what the user was looking for, it might capture their imagination enough for them to place an order.

Adjusting your prices

As lockdown restrictions are eased, social distancing measures need to be implemented in all work environments.

As an ecommerce business, it's likely that you have a warehouse or depot where your products are kept. Just like pubs, hairdressers, and offices up and down the country, you'll need to put some new measures in place to keep the working environment safe and hygienic.

Whether you're providing sick pay for unwell employees, ordering PPE, or making physical modifications in the workplace, everything comes at a price. Your customers shouldn't be too surprised about a justifiable price increase to help cover these unavoidable costs, but be mindful of the way you go about it. After all, you don't want your customers to feel like they're being ripped off!

An incentive to buy

While you might need to increase the price of some items, there's nothing stopping you from giving people an extra reason to buy from your brand. As we move into the transitional post-lockdown period, people are returning to work and might be looking for a bit of a pick-me-up.

Whether you contact loyal customers and offer them an exclusive discount code, or you offer a multi-buy discount on your best sellers, people are more likely to make an order if they feel they're getting a good deal.

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of how your ecommerce business can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the months ahead. If you're interested in an ecommerce website makeover to make your brand stand out, you can get a free, no-obligation quote here.

Ecommerce Web Design   Contact Designer Websites

google updates

Google is always tweaking and updating its algorithm to provide the best possible search experience. These improvements are a constant, ongoing process, and business owners and webmasters should expect to see some gentle fluctuation in the ranking and performance of their websites from one day to the next. This is perfectly normal - no cause for alarm.

On occasion, though, you might notice a particularly pronounced change in your website's rankings - even though you haven't made any changes to the site itself. This may be a sign that Google has released a more significant algorithm update.

It's important to keep an eye out for big Google updates, understand what impact they can have, and monitor the performance of your websites for any significant shifts. In 2020 so far, Google has released two core algorithm updates and two stand-alone updates: one that prevents featured snippet URLs from appearing in the organic SERPs, and one that changes the way Googlebot views nofollow links.

In this blog, we're going to take a look at these recent updates and the impact they've had, so you know what to look out for on your own website. Let's dive right in!

Core Algorithm Updates

Of all Google's updates, core updates make the broadest changes and happen most frequently. They're designed to improve search results pages so that Google can deliver the most authoritative and relevant content to its users. This year, we've already seen Google roll out two core algorithm updates: one on the 13th of January, and one on the 4th of May.

It's common for Google's core updates to have a drastic impact on your website's keyword rankings. Some sites experience severe ranking drops, others will see an impressive ranking boost - it's hard to predict!

Why does this happen? Well, Google's Webmaster Central Blog gives us a great way of looking at the situation:

"One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It's going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realise they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before. The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren't bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them."

What should you do if you notice a drop?

If you notice that your website is ranking much higher than it did before the update, bravo! Google thinks your content is highly relevant for its users.

However, if you notice that a particular page, an old blog post, or your website as a whole has slipped down the rankings following a core update, then the first thing to remember is that it doesn't mean your content is 'bad'.

What it does mean is that, if you want to reclaim those top positions in the SERP, you might want to revisit the content on these pages and make them better.

  1. Start by looking at the pages that now rank above you. What do those pages have that might make them more authoritative/relevant for a user?

  2. Re-assess your own content through a critical lens.
  • Can you provide a more substantial description of the topic?
  • Can you add links to authoritative sources?
  • Could you re-write the content to make it clearer/more concise?
  • Can you provide a more suitable heading?

By building better and more relevant web pages, you should start to see your website moving steadily up the rankings following a core update. Get in touch with our SEO specialists if you have any further questions about recovering dropped rankings.

Featured Snippet Duplication Update

On January 22nd, Google implemented an update that changed the way featured snippets appeared in the search results pages. Prior to the update, URLs that appeared in the featured snippet could also appear high up in the rankings, essentially giving that website twice as much exposure.

Post-update, you won't see duplicate URLs in the SERPs. If your webpage claims the elusive 'position 0' and is featured in Google's snippet, then it won't appear anywhere else in the rankings.

What impact will this have on your website?

Google has advised that the featured snippet position (or position zero) and position 1 are usually considered as the same position in most rank tracking tools, so you shouldn't see any dramatic drops in ranking.

In terms of your click-through rate, there are a few theories. Our own research suggests that holding the featured snippet is valuable for your website because it's the first port of call if a user wants to find out more information on a certain topic. Even on occasions when a user doesn't click through to your website, they're still being exposed to your brand and your featured content - so it's a win-win situation!

Sceptics argue that some users might choose to skip past all the on-page features like knowledge panels, featured snippets etc and head straight to the organic results. If this is the case, then this featured snippet update could be detrimental, but we're yet to see such an impact on our clients' websites.

Our advice? Keep an eye on your rankings and your inbound traffic. While it's unlikely that you'll see a drop as a result of this update, you can always re-work your content to gain a more beneficial ranking if you see that certain pages have been affected.

Nofollow Update

We've known that Google was changing the way it treats nofollow links since the end of 2019, but it wasn't until the 1st of March this year that the update actually went live.

Following this update, nofollow links will be treated as a 'hint' when Google is crawling and indexing your site, and might even affect your ranking.

Previously, nofollow links could be used to tell Google to disregard a certain outbound link. Essentially, you could tell Google "Hey, I don't want to endorse this website even though this link is relevant to my users". That's no longer the case.

When announcing this update, Google said, "Links contain valuable information that helps us improve search, such as how the words within links describe the content they point at. Looking at every link we encounter can help us understand unnatural linking patterns".

Generally, nofollow links will be treated as they were before, so the impact on your website should be minimal. As far as actions you should take, Google recommends using one of two new link attributes to identify the purpose of your nofollow links. For example:

  • rel="sponsored" to identify links that have been paid for, e.g. adverts and sponsored articles.
  • rel="UGC" to identify links in user-generated content, e.g. blog comments.

Google has said that they might still use these "sponsored" and "UGC" links as 'hints' when crawling your website, but using the correct identifications increases the likelihood that Google will understand why you've used a nofollow link, and they will assess the link accordingly.

Google updates happen all the time - it's part of an ongoing effort to perfect their search engine experience. On the whole, Google updates are nothing to be worried about, but having an awareness of them can help you identify the cause of traffic and ranking fluctuations. Contact us for more information about our search engine optimisation services.

Website design psychology

Did you know that every detail on your website, from the colours to the typeface, has a psychological impact on your users? Website designers can influence the way someone feels when they visit your site by choosing design features that have a desirable psychological impact.

You're probably thinking: "Surely if my website looks nice, that should be enough?" Well, not necessarily. You can have a website that looks great, but if it doesn't appeal to the mindset of your target audience or reflect your brand positively, it probably won't convert as well as you'd hoped for.

Don't worry - you don't need a degree in psychology to understand the impact of different web design features. We've put together this helpful guide to introduce you to the psychology of web design. It's worth keeping these things in mind if you're thinking about a new website, but of course, our specialist website designers are always on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Structure and Layout

The structure of your website is fundamental to its success. Why? Because you want your users to find the things that they're looking for quickly, but you also need to add clean spaces for their minds to rest.

Websites that are over-cluttered and messy can be incredibly difficult to digest, so even if your page features all the photos, videos, and information that you deem necessary, you might be overloading users and driving them away.

We always recommend a website design that orders things in a logical way and features clean spaces between page elements and in margins. Keeping the features of the page relevant and concise will also help users to decide whether or not your website is a good fit for their query in a matter of seconds.

A clean, well-organised website is bound to make a good first impression and will psychologically reassure users that you aren't going to waste their time.

Colours

You've probably heard of the link between colour and emotion before, but in web design, this takes a more sophisticated form. Thinking beyond the typical 'red equals danger, blue equals sadness' conventions that we learn in school, colours can convey a lot of information about your business, so it's important to choose your colour palette carefully.

You've probably noticed that websites tend to have a neutral colour like white, grey, or mauve as the dominant colour throughout. This is because neutral shades are a great base for more interesting pops of colour, and they aren't too overwhelming for the user.

Different colours can be used to hint at the nature of your business. We tend to see cooler tones like blues and greens on more professional or 'serious' websites (our own site is just one example). Meanwhile, warmer tones like pink and orange might indicate a more creative or 'fun' business - take our clients Sweets in the City, for example. You can learn more about the relationship between colour and web design in our in-depth blog on this topic.

Typefaces

In the same way that the colours of your website can impact the way a user feels, so too can your chosen typeface. There are some typefaces that we subconsciously associate with traditional/professional businesses. These tend to fall under the category of serif fonts (fonts with feet). Some examples are Times New Roman, Georgia and Palatino.

In contrast, sans-serif fonts (without feet) have a more contemporary feel and are often used by tech companies to suggest modernity. Some examples of sans-serif typefaces include Helvetica, Arial, and Tahoma.

That being said, there are hundreds of different typefaces to choose from, so don't feel limited to the examples listed here. As a rule of thumb, choose a typeface that complements your brand while still being easy to read across all devices.

Price Order

We've already discussed why the visual layout of your site is important, but did you know the order in which you list your products and services has a profound psychological effect too?

One psychological phenomenon that online shoppers are subject to is anchoring bias. This meant that the user's perception of your products rests on the very first products they see (and become anchored to).

For example, if you list your most expensive products first, everything that the user sees afterwards will appear cheaper. Conversely, if you put your budget items first, you risk making your main line of products look overpriced.

Psychological studies have shown that anchoring bias is almost impossible to avoid; however, people who are more familiar with your products and pricing are less susceptible to it. With that in mind, it's important that you anchor products to the top of the page that are reasonably priced and a good reflection of your product portfolio.

When users land on your category page, you want them to see products that are cheap enough to be a good deal, but not so cheap that they're compromising on quality. Here are some more tips to help you make your category pages convert.

Trust and Confidence

The final thing to consider is whether or not your website design establishes trust and confidence. Whether you're providing legal advice or selling clothes, you need your users to trust you if you want them to convert.

We live in an age where digital scams and computer viruses are an everyday threat. At a brick-and-mortar store, customers can see the people behind the brand, ask questions, and even base their buying decisions on how friendly/helpful the staff are.

Online, you rely entirely on your website to provide the same great experience and make customers feel secure enough to part with their cash. There are a number of web design techniques you can utilise to help with this.

For example, you should refrain from asking for personal details like email addresses right off the bat. An immediate invasion of privacy before someone has had time to become familiar with your brand might be enough to send them elsewhere. Similarly, avoid adding multiple pop-ups and overlays, as these can appear spammy and make it difficult to browse the site smoothly.

Make a good first impression with a clean and logical structure, make it clear what you expect from your users at an appropriate time, and put security measures in place to put users at ease. Use a secure, well-recognised payment system like Sage Pay or PayPal, let users create password-protected customer accounts to store their personal details, and make sure your website is protected with an SSL.

Get all of these web design features right and you can create a website that's psychologically pleasing to your customers. If you're looking for web designers who can help create the best possible website for your business, get in touch with Designer Websites today!

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Improve website conversion rate

The nature of your website and the specific goals of your business will dictate what a conversion looks like for you. If you have a high conversion rate, congratulations! This is an indicator that your marketing strategies are succeeding, your website works well, and your users are satisfied.

However, if you've noticed that your conversion rate is lower than you'd like, there are a few things you can do to improve it.

What is a 'conversion'?

Every time a user completes a desirable action, we count it as a conversion - but conversions look different on different websites. For example, if you're a blogger, you might consider each subscription to your blog as a conversion; if you have a brochure site that tells people about your services, you might consider enquiries as conversions; and if you have an ecommerce website, you'll count every successful sale as a conversion.

You might track multiple conversions to make sure that all aspects of your business are growing and working in unison. For example, with an ecommerce site, you might consider sales as your most important conversion while still keeping a close eye on the number of newsletter sign-ups, social media interactions and enquiries too. Together, these conversions will help to give you a more detailed picture of your site's overall performance.

Over time, you will start to see which things convert well on your website and which things don't. It's normal for things to fluctuate a bit, but if something is performing particularly badly, try the following tips.

1. Make sure your website is user-friendly.

Put yourself in the shoes of the user and test your website from their point of view. Does it work well across different devices? Do you notice any areas that could be improved? Did everything work properly? Think about it: if someone visits your website and struggles to figure out where something is or comes across a technical issue, then your conversion rate is likely to be much lower than it should be.

Improving the user experience is a great place to start if you want to improve your website's conversion rate. Here's how you can do it:

  • Tweak the menus so they are easier to navigate
  • Ensure your site works across all devices
  • Check the functionality of buttons/forms across the site

2. Drive more relevant traffic to your site.

If you notice that your conversion rate is low in comparison to the number of visitors arriving on your site from day to day, then you might be driving the wrong kind of people to your site. Investing in a range of marketing strategies like Google Ads, social media and email marketing can help boost relevant traffic to your website.

Why? Because you can use these tools to target audiences who are likely to convert. For example, people who have visited your site before or people who are already interested in your industry.

Here are a few things to consider when you're trying to boost relevant traffic to your site:

  • Include a call to action in your marketing material so users what you want them to do
  • Invest more money in the marketing strategies that convert well
  • Refine your target audiences
  • Produce content that will appeal to them

3. Make sure your web pages are easy to digest.

Users don't interact with websites in the same way they'd interact with a book or newspaper. In fact, unnecessary long-form text can actually do more harm to your site than good. If users don't find what they're looking for quickly, it's likely that they'll lose interest and move on to a different website, at which point, you've lost all chances of conversion.

What can you do to combat this? Start by taking time to craft your copy so that it's easy to digest, engaging and highly relevant to your site. Embolden anything that you think needs extra emphasis and break longer points up using paragraphs or bullet points.

Revise the layout and copy on your website so that your main selling points and call to actions are more prominent. Drawing the user's attention to these things will make it easier for them to decide whether to convert or not.

4. Keep your graphics relevant and minimal.

Images are a necessity, especially on ecommerce websites where customers need to see the products they want to buy. They can show off your products or promote a spectacular deal, but all too often they are overused.

Having too many graphics on a page can distract people from their objective and reduce your chances of a conversion, so finding a good balance is key.

There are plenty of platforms that you can use to share photos and graphics related to your business. Instagram and Pinterest are two of the most popular, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Perhaps you would be better saving those 'behind the scenes' shots for your social media rather than sharing them all over your website.

By reducing the visual clutter on your website, you make the journey on your site more streamlined and improve your page loading speed. Faster pages and an overall better experience on your website feed back into better usability, thus encouraging more conversions!

Note: Improving your conversion rate is not something that will happen overnight. We'd recommend trying one of these tips at a time and leaving your site alone for a few weeks to accurately assess the effects. If you make multiple changes at once, you'll never know what worked and what didn't.

If you'd like to talk to our experienced team of developers and SEO specialists about improving your website, don't hesitate to give us a call on 01446 339 050.

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Improve your category pages

When you're trying to design a category page that will help drive sales, it's crucial to keep the customer's experience at the forefront of your mind. By navigating through your category pages, users should be able to easily find the products they're looking for and place their order.

At Designer Websites, we've been designing category pages for years, so we have a great understanding of what really works for our clients. We spoke to our lead designer, Jenna, and asked her what makes the perfect category page:

"We would always recommend that you use good images that are relevant and high quality, an interesting H1 heading that includes your page's keywords, and text that's short and relevant. Try to put your best-selling / most popular products towards the top of the page, and change them frequently so the pages look slightly different for returning customers."

Let's look at some of these different elements in more detail. You might find that some of these features are missing from your category pages, in which case, this might be a great opportunity to make some improvements.

1. Optimising Your Text

You want the text on your category pages to be concise, relevant and properly optimised for search engines. To achieve this, you should make sure that your category pages include a keyword-rich H1 heading and relevant information about your products.

Think of your category pages as a means for customers to get an overview of your products before making a purchase. You should try to describe the products or services on a category page using a few concise, easy-to-digest sentences, so users can quickly determine if they've chosen the right category.

In terms of SEO, you should try to include a range of keywords that are relevant to your category to increase the likelihood of your page ranking highly in the search results.

For example, if you own a cake business and you want to optimise the text on the category page for 'chocolate cakes' you might target keywords like, 'best chocolate cakes', 'chocolate sponge cakes' and 'chocolate birthday cakes'. You might find it beneficial to keep the text under the H1 (that users will see first) short but include more keyword-rich text towards the bottom of the page to improve your chance of ranking.

If your site is optimised effectively, someone searching for a 'chocolate birthday cake' should be taken to your category page where they can view all the chocolate cakes you offer. Someone searching more specifically for a 'vegan chocolate cake' might be taken straight to a product page instead, where they can read a detailed description of the vegan chocolate cake you supply and place their order.

2. High-Quality Images

When your business operates through an ecommerce website, customers are deprived of that real-life touch, feel and browse experience. It's important to use relevant, high-quality images on your category and product pages to really bring your products to life!

One thing that online shopping allows for is a comparison between brands. Your customers might be considering products from several different competitor sites as well as yours, so you want to provide the best possible experience you can and secure the sale.

Going back to our cake business example, imagine a scenario where a customer is looking for a great chocolate birthday cake. They're considering three or four local cake suppliers, including you. If your chocolate cake category page is filled with high-quality photos of truly tempting chocolate cakes, and your competitors have a few low-resolution images to compare to, you'll (probably) win the sale every time!

3. Featured Products

Highlighting products on your category page is a great way to boost sales. Moving products towards the top of the category page and adding a bold border or an eye-catching sticker is a great way to draw the user's attention towards the products you want them to buy. It also provides users with a sense that they are getting the best option or deal available.

Even if users only spend a few minutes on your category page before moving elsewhere on your site, the emboldened products are likely to stick in their minds. They might even decide to come back for a second look if they feel they've missed out on a good deal.

With that in mind, you should use the featured products section of your category page to focus on best-selling products, products included in special offers, and products that you want to shift quickly.

Keep your category pages fresh and engaging by rotating your featured products regularly. That way, returning visitors won't be greeted with the same products over and over again.

4. Filters

If your business boasts an extensive portfolio of products, you might want to consider adding filters to your category page so users can quickly find the items they need. Filters are a popular feature of most ecommerce websites because they break down categories into smaller, niche groups of products that more relevant to the user.

Let's say you own a shoe store and a customer visits your site hoping to buy a new pair of black high heels in a size six. They're going to a party at the weekend and (as usual) they've left it until the last minute to organise their outfit. When they land on your site, they see hundreds of different types of shoes organised into categories by style.

Luckily, your 'high heels' category page allows them to filter the shoes by size and colour. This instantly refines their search so they can browse all the pairs of shoes that fit their criteria. They spot a fabulous pair and place their order - success! That's one more happy customer who might recommend your shoe store to a friend or leave a positive review.

5. Search Box

No matter how well structured your site navigation is, there will always be some users who prefer to head directly to specific products. That's where the search box comes in handy.

It's important that your database is organised so that the right products show up for the right queries - you wouldn't want a user searching for 'black heels in size six' to be faced with an array of blue trainers, would you?

Data from the search box can also provide you with insights into the products that are most frequently searched for by your customers. Perhaps they're struggling to find the products they're looking for; in which case you could tweak your site navigation so frequently-searched products are easier to find.

Alternatively, frequent searches could indicate that a certain product is very popular with your customers. In this case, you might decide to run a special offer or add it to your 'featured products' section to boost sales. Either way, having a search box on your category page will benefit you and your customers.

If your ecommerce website needs an overhaul, Designer Websites can help. Our experienced team of designers, developers and SEO specialists understand what websites need to succeed - contact us now to discuss your requirements!

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SEO spring clean

Keeping your SEO up to date is a vital part of maintaining your website and growing your online audience. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned expert, spring is the perfect time to adjust your SEO strategy with a few easy tips and tricks.

If you want to give your search engine rankings a boost this spring but you're not sure where to start, Designer Website's search engine optimisation specialists have got your back. Here are our top tips for a thorough SEO spring clean.

Identify new keywords

The world is constantly changing, and it could well be that lots of new keywords and topics have become relevant to your business since your last big SEO check-up. You may be missing out if you have not updated your content to reflect up-and-coming trends; roughly 15% of all Google searches are completely new queries, so you might be able to capture a lot of extra traffic if you add extra keywords to your SEO strategy.

Whether you update your existing website copy to address current search trends or add extra content via blog posts, this is a great way to stay ahead of your competitors and give your site a nice spring boost.

Keep things fresh

Think of SEO like dating. When you first starting optimising your website, it's really easy to build your online presence and create new content that helps your site to rank. You might feel genuinely excited every time you publish a new blog post or add an informative new page.

But as time goes on, the thrill begins to wear off. Your content no longer ranks as well as it used to, and fewer people are visiting your site and engaging with your brand. You might even consider giving up and abandoning SEO entirely (though as we recently discussed, this is seldom a good idea!).

If you haven't released any new content in a while, we thoroughly recommend updating your website with some fresh new landing pages or a string of blog posts. It's important to remember how much search engines (especially Google) love fresh new content - as with relationships, a little commitment to your SEO can go a long way!

Minimise duplicate content

Content duplication - where the same piece of content appears on two or more web pages - can have a huge impact on your SEO strategy if you let it get out of hand. Few website owners create duplicate content intentionally, but it can sometimes happen by accident; for example, if you write similar or identical descriptions for two subtly different products, search engines may only index one of those pages, which will prevent the other one from ranking.

Try to make every page on your website unique, and if you can't avoid repeating a significant amount of content across multiple URLs, use canonical tags to tell Google which version you want indexed.

Don't neglect local SEO

If you have a brick-and-mortar business that's open to the public, you need to make sure potential customers can find you. Local SEO is hugely important - it's been alleged that 43% of Google searches are for things in the searcher's local area, and in the USA, an estimated 80% of disposable income is spent within 20 miles of the home.

So make sure your local SEO factors are in shape for spring. At the very least, you should create a Google My Business listing and make sure your company's address and contact details are correct and up to date wherever they appear on the web.

Master Google Search Console

Checking technical issues is an important part of SEO. You've created your new content, you're targeting new keywords, and you've even eliminated all duplication from your website - now you should carry out a Google Search Console check to make sure your website is working as it should.

Search Console can tell you all sorts of useful things, from how many of your pages are indexed to whether your pages display correctly on mobile devices. If you're new to Search Console, Google have some videos to help you learn the ropes, but you might be better off hiring a team of SEO experts to look after this side of things for you.

Remember: it's important to keep your SEO strategy fresh and efficient if you want to maximise your organic search traffic all year round. If you want to get more from your website, the Designer Websites team can help - our SEO specialists work closely with our experienced team of designers and developers to deliver the best possible results for our clients.

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what happens when you stop doing SEO

We create new websites for our clients all the time, and two questions we often get asked are, “do I need to do SEO?” and “how long will I need to do it for?”

The simple answers to these questions are, “yes you do need to do SEO” and “indefinitely or until your business stops trading… whichever comes first!” We really do believe in a long-term relationship with SEO if you want your website to be successful. It’s a bit like going to the gym – you can’t expect to come first place in a marathon if you don’t bother training for it, can you?

If you stop doing SEO – improving key pages, publishing new content, and so on – there’s a good chance that the search engines will gradually lose interest in your website. Google’s algorithm in particular loves fresh content; if you’re not doing SEO any more, you’re giving your competitors a great opportunity to overtake you in the search results. But why does this happen? Let’s start by taking a look at the purpose of SEO is and the reason it’s important.

What is SEO & Why is it Important?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is the process of increasing the volume and quality of traffic to your website. Unlike paid advertising, SEO looks to improve the performance of your website organically so potential customers can find you easily when they’re looking for products or topics related to your business.

You can see our beginner’s guide to website optimisation if you want to take a closer look at some of the most common SEO strategies. Things like keyword analysis, blogging and link building are used by digital marketers to keep their clients’ websites at the front of the pack. Continually refreshing, updating and fixing things tells Google that you’re an active website worth showing in the search results, perhaps even in the number one spot!

If a client suggests taking a break from SEO or stopping altogether, it can be hard to predict the exact implications it will have for their site. It might not even have any effect at all… at first. But one thing is certain, giving up SEO for good, will inevitably damage your website and its position in the search results pages.

organic traffic drop

For example, this graph (taken from Google Analytics) shows you how one of our client’s websites was impacted when they decided to give up on their SEO strategy altogether. You can see the steady decline in organic sessions that’s been worsening ever since. This shows that while stopping SEO won’t immediately remove your website from the google rankings, it will have a long-lasting negative impact.

What happens when you stop creating new content?

When you decide to stop creating new content, you’re essentially hoping that the online presence you’ve built so far is going to be robust enough to keep things ticking over. Here are just a few things that can happen when you stop creating new content.

  • You’ll stop ranking for new, highly-relevant keywords, limiting the number of people finding your website as they search for terms related to your industry.

 

  • You’ll stop gaining links from websites with authority. If the information on your website is not up to date, no one will want to link to it. Having a strong backlink profile is important if you want your website to rank well.

 

  • People will stop engaging with you on social media. Social media is all about the ‘here and now’ and puts you in contact with hundreds (if not thousands) of customers. If your website ceases to exist in this space, people may think your business has stopped trading altogether.

 

  • You’ll drive away returning customers. If people visit your site more than once and just see the same boring content over and over again, they won’t bother coming back. New content makes people excited about your brand.

traffic drop

One of our clients decided to stop updating their blog on a regular basis and as you can see from the above graph (again taken from their Google Analytics), they started to see a noticeable decline in their organic traffic.

When we highlighted this dip in traffic, the client conceded that blogging was a necessity if you want to grow organic traffic and thus, we started blogging more frequently again.

Once we started publishing blogs regularly, they saw an increase in their organic traffic. In fact, their return to SEO drove more traffic to the site than they had before the dip!

What happens when you stop checking for technical SEO issues?

Besides keeping your website alive on the surface, there is a lot of technical SEO that goes on under the surface to keep your website working properly in the ever-changing search engine that is Google.

There are a few different ways you can keep track of technical SEO issues; for example, you could use an SEO software service like Moz to carry out site audits, check backlinks and keep track of your rankings. The most common tool used to track technical problems with your site is Google’s Search Console. You can read more about Google’s Search Console and how it works here

Here at Designer Websites, our SEO team carry out weekly Search Console checks to make sure that our client’s websites are working as they should be.

Failure to keep on top of your website’s technical SEO can leave a myriad of problems including:

  • Pages not being indexed correctly
  • Server errors
  • Problems with mobile usability
  • Slow page speed

And much more! Google is constantly changing, updating its algorithm and introducing new features, that’s why regularly checking your website’s technical SEO health is so important.

It’s also important to periodically check that other businesses aren’t duplicating your content and publishing it on their own site. When Google sees two copies of the same page, it will only index one (and there’s no guarantee that it will choose yours). All the time and effort you spent optimising your pages to rank for certain keywords will be for nothing if you don’t spot the duplicate content and act on it quickly.

If you do find duplicate content, here’s what you can do:

  • Contact the offending company and ask them to take the content down.
  • Rewrite the content on your own website so that it’s unique.

So, as you can see, deciding to stop doing SEO is going to cause some serious problems later down the line. If you’re not currently doing SEO for your website, we highly recommend you consider it! Learn more about our SEO services here.

boosted post vs facebook ad

If you really want to make the most of your marketing strategy in 2020, you need to be utilising some kind of paid promotions or ads.

There are a few major players when you look at the digital advertising landscape. Google, Bing and Facebook all offer a service that allows you to pay to put your content in front of targeted and relevant potential customers.

The Facebook family of apps now includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, giving you a range of different platforms to work with. There are an estimated 2.89 billion people with an account on at least one of these platforms, and over those 2.26 billion people use them daily. 

People of all ages are hooked into the captivating world of social media, and with such a huge audience to engage with, you really do want to consider your advertising options carefully. After all, thousands of people might be out there looking for a business just like yours… so how do you make sure that they’ll find you? Let’s find out.

What is a Boosted Post?

A Boosted Post starts its life as a regular old Facebook post. It could be anything; a photo of a new product you’re introducing, an offer you’re promoting or a competition you’re running.

When you boost a post, you apply money to ‘boost’ or ‘show’ your Facebook post to an audience of your choosing. Boosted posts are quick and easy to set up, meaning they’re a great option if you are new to Facebook advertising.

How do I set one up?

To create a boosted post, you need to look out for this big blue button. You’ll find it underneath your Facebook post on the right-hand side.

As you can see, the post in our example hasn’t had any organic engagements, so this might be a good candidate for boosting to try and generate some interest. Of course, you could also choose to boost a post that’s already doing really well to maximise its performance! The choice is yours.

boost post button

So, you’ve identified the post you want to boost, and you’ve clicked the big blue button. Now you need to tell Facebook a bit of information so they can make sure your post is boosted to the right kind of people, for the right amount of time, and in the right places. You’ll fill in a form that asks you the following:

  • What’s your objective?

Do you want users to comment on and share your post? Do you want them to click through to your website, or would you prefer to connect and chat with them over WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger?

  • What do you want your post button to do?

You can choose from pre-set call to actions like; ‘Learn More’, ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Sign Up’. Then you can set a destination for users to be taken to when they click the button.

  • What kind of audience do you want to target?

What are their interests? How old are they? Do you only want to target people in your local area? Defining your audience will help to make sure that your boosted post is reaching relevant people.

  • Where do you want your boosted post to show?

This is known as placements. You can let Facebook automatically choose your placements to maximise your budget, or you can choose the placements yourself. Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are a few placement options.

  • How long do you want it to run for?

This is where you set the total duration of the campaign. Here at Designer Websites, we often advise our customers to start with a short 7 or 5-day campaign to see how effective the chosen audience and budget performs for you.

  • What’s your budget for the campaign?

You can use a small budget of £10/£20 or a larger budget of £100+. The more you spend, the more people you’ll reach.

Once you’ve successfully answered all of these questions and entered your bank details, you’re pretty much good to go. You’ll probably have to wait while Facebook approves the boosted post, but once they’ve given it the all-clear, your post will start to be shown in your audience’s timeline.

What are the benefits of a boosted post?

  • You can reach new people who might be interested in your business or Facebook page. People might tag their friends, comment on the post or share it to their own personal Facebook page which is great for improving brand awareness.

 

  • You don’t have to design a fancy advert from scratch, you can use an existing post. This means you can set a boosted post up quickly and easily.

 

  • Boosted posts appear on your Facebook business page as well as being shown in your audience’s timeline. Facebook ads don’t appear on your business page, they work in the background.

 

  • You can use Facebook Insights to get a detailed summary of your boosted post’s performance. This will show you how many people you reached as well as showing you how many clicks, reactions, comments and shares your post received.

 

Ok, this all sounds great – but what are your other options? Let’s take a look at Facebook ads to see how they differ.

What is a Facebook Ad?

Facebook ads are a slightly different type of promotion that offers a lot more creative control than a boosted post. Facebook ads are created through their own Ads manager, a feature that might be a little trickier for advertising novices to navigate.

Rather than starting with a simple Facebook post you can build your Facebook ad from the ground up using advanced customisation options. You can optimise your Facebook ad to help you reach a wide range of business goals as well as engaging with a targeted audience of your choosing.

Setting up a Facebook ad

When you’re setting up a Facebook ad, the questions Facebook ask you are almost identical to those listed above – so we won’t bore you by cycling through them all again!

Instead, let’s focus on the things you can choose to do when you’re setting up a Facebook ad that you might not be able to do when you’re setting up a simple boosted post.

  • Choosing very specific placements.

While boosted post allows you to choose Instagram, Facebook or Messenger as your placement, Facebook ads take this one step further. You can decide exactly where the ad will show.

Do you want the ad to show in the News Feed, in Facebook’s Instant Articles, or as an Instagram story? These are just a few of the many placements made available in Ad Manager.

  • A wider range of ad objectives.

Tailoring your objective is much easier with a Facebook advert. Yes, boosted posts allow you to choose from some great goals like driving website clicks and generating post engagement - but again, Facebook ads take this one step further.

Facebook ad objectives are really quite extensive, covering everything from brand awareness to store traffic. This helps create an ad that’s perfect for your business needs.

  • More control over creativity.

When you create an ad through Ads Manager, you can choose a design that suits your brand and goals. Our PPC Specialist Andrew Gill said:

“We trial different kinds of Facebook ads for different clients every day! We’ve found that carousel ads and short video clips are the most successful ad format across the board. They’re more engaging than a standard picture advert and tend to convert really well”.

  • Advanced targeting capabilities.

Knowing who your target audience is is the key to success in the digital landscape. With Facebook ads, you can go beyond someone’s age and interests and target people who ‘look like’ users who’ve already interacted with your page, you can exclude people who’ve already interacted with a similar post and much more.

So which strategy do I choose?

So now you know the key differences, here are our recommendations. If you want to:

  1. Maximise engagement with a particular post
  2. Improve brand awareness
  3. Get an ad set up quickly

Go for a boosted post. They’re easy to run, easy to manage and are great for pushing your existing content further afield.

If you want to:

  1. Have full creative control
  2. Run a longer, more advanced ad campaign
  3. Show a promotion, product or service to a very specific audience

Choose a Facebook ad. They might take a little bit longer to plan and set up, but you can really make the most of your advertising budget through Facebook’s Ad Manager.

At Designer Websites, we can help with your Pay-Per-Click and Social Media Management needs. Get in touch if you’d like to make the most of your social media marketing strategy, we’re more than happy to help.

Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Local SEO refers to the process of enhancing your local online presence in order to attract more business from relevant local searches. It can be classed as ‘the practice of optimising your brick and mortar business for location-focused keywords and search terms’; such as “web design Barry”.

These searches can be performed across several different search engines, but with 90%+ market share in the UK alone, these searches are typically performed on Google, with the hope of being included in something called the ‘Google Snack Pack’.

The Google Snack Pack, also known and referred to as the ‘local 3 pack’ or ‘map pack’, is the boxed area that appears on the first page of Google search results when a local online search is performed. The Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search query and contains it’s very own search algorithm and set of rules. But why is it important for local businesses to appear in the snack pack? Let’s find out!

 

Why is local SEO important?

Optimising your local SEO means increased website traffic (if you have a website), leads and conversions since your efforts are placed into becoming more relevant to your base of local customers. It is a way to help smaller businesses compete more effectively against larger national organisations who have significantly greater amounts of resources at their disposal. By focusing on specific local SEO tactics, smaller firms are able to limit the impact of these bigger businesses that often optimise content for broader keywords and search terms and rely on brand recognition, rather than value offerings, to bring in footfall.

Further strengthening the case for local SEO are the fascinating stats that surround it. 46% of all searches performed on Google have ‘local intent’ (SER), “near me” searches are increasing 150% faster than traditional, local-based searches (Google) and 29% of all Google search engine result pages contain a snack pack in the results (RankRanger). 

With all of the advantages and buzz around local SEO, it comes to no surprise as to why so many businesses are battling it out to be included in the local 3 pack. So, what can you do to get in there? Here are the best ways to optimise your business for local SEO.

Improving your local SEO

1.       Create & Optimise Your Google My Business Listing

First things first, to get started with local SEO, you’ll need to create a Google My Business listing. For no charge, this establishes your business’ online presence and means you will appear on Google Maps. Not only will your business appear in search results across a variety of devices, but if Google authenticates your listing as a legitimate business, it could also appear in the sidebar space of a Google search.

 

There are several ways in which you can optimise your GMB listing to ensure Google not only sees your business but chooses it to appear in local search results. These are:

  • Keeping everything consistent between your listing, website & other online listings
  • Filling in every data point available i.e. Name, Address, Bio and Shortname
  • Keeping crucial business data updated such as opening hours and holidays
  • Get more reviews and engage with any that you do get

 

2.       Gain Regular Reviews

The last point that we made above is an important one. Getting your customers to leave glowing reviews about your business doesn’t just help to optimise your GMB listing and presence, but it also encourages more local customers to buy from you. The more footfall that your business experiences can lead to further positive reviews which then helps to build more signals to Google that your business is legit and worthy of ranking highly in local searches. Some tips to encourage your customers to leave positive reviews are:

  • Respond to existing reviews in a professional way, addressing any negative reviews that you may get and thanking reviewers for sharing their positive experiences
  • Asking for a review in-person after a sale has been made
  • Send post-purchase communications asking customers to leave reviews

 

3.       Optimise for Voice Search

Voice search has been rapidly growing over recent years, especially in terms of SEO. Therefore, it is crucial to optimise your content into a voice search-friendly manner, focusing on the way people ask questions when they speak rather than when they are typing. When performing voice searches using specific devices such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home or a voice assistant such as Siri, searchers opt for more long-tail keywords compared with regular search. As a result, you’ll have to adjust the SEO of your content to fit the more conversational tone of someone talking. A good tip here is to focus your efforts on traditional question starters such as who, what, when, where, why and how.

 

4.       Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Online mobile searches have also grown in popularity over the last decade with the increase in accessibility to mobile devices. In fact, in 2017, Google released its mobile-first indexing search results that prioritised mobile-optimised content over non-optimised content and even made it their primary index. This confirms the strategy behind optimising websites and content to be mobile-friendly, not just for local SEO, but for SEO as a whole.

Some tips for making your website more mobile-friendly are:

  • Ensure your website loads quickly
  • Use images and website copy only when needed and avoid filler content
  • Use bigger fonts that are easy to read
  • Implement an enhanced user interface for a great experience

 

 

5.       Greater Focus on Local Keywords

One of the most obvious ways to rank for local search results is to focus on local keywords, right? Of course, it is! Google’s own Keyword Planner allows you to filter keyword searches based on location, so you can get a better idea and understanding of the popular search terms for a specific area. This enables you to form a list of relevant local keywords that you can target to give yourself a better chance on ranking. Once you have these keywords, you can begin to implement content, meta tags and URLs to match.

Another great tactic that you can implement to increase local SEO results is to include mentions of location-specific landmarks and hotspots in your site’s content. For example, if your business offers web design in Cardiff city centre, including references such as “web design near Cardiff castle” could also bolster rankings in local search results.

 

6.       Implement Location Pages or Location-Focused ‘About Us’ Pages

If your business operates in more than one location, then location pages are a must. These pages allow you to target very specific location-based keywords around a main keyword e.g. “Cardiff decking” and “Slough decking”. At the minimum, each of these pages will need to provide the following information:

  • Opening hours
  • Name, address and phone number
  • Reviews
  • Promotions
  • Google Maps location

When adding these pages to your site, it’s important to remember that standards SEO rules still apply and content should be unique.

If your business only operates in one location, then having an ‘About Us’ page that focuses on local, relevant information is imperative. If you run a coffee shop, for example, your About Us page is the perfect place to provide information that you supply the coffee and cakes for local fundraisers each year. This reaffirms your commitment to your local community and provides potential customers near you with confidence in your business, which can lead to increased levels of business and many of the aforementioned benefits such as positive reviews.

 

7.       Take Advantage of Online Directories

Websites such as Yell, Yelp, YellowPages and Foursquare are online business directories that help to get your business name, address and phone number (NAP) on the web, which is one of the most important, if not the most important element of local SEO. NAPs act the same way as backlinks do to a website and let Google know that multiple places on the web are talking about or mentioning your business. The key thing to remember when adding your business to these online directories is to ensure that all information remains consistent.

Online business listing should include the following basic information:

  • Accurate business name, address and phone number which is consistent across all directories
  • A backlink to your website if you have one
  • A thorough description of your business

 

8.       Build High-Quality Backlinks

According to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors study, ‘link signals’ were ranked number one and number two respectively in the most important factors for ranking in local organic rankings and the local pack and snack pack. Link signals are backlinks that point back to your website, so it’s important to get as many of these as possible, however, you do need to focus on their quality more than anything. The more relevant and authoritative the backlink is, the greater the signal is going to be to Google that your business is legitimate and also relevant to the local search being performed.

Some tips that you could follow to create high-quality backlinks to your website are:

  • Guest blogging on reputable websites that have a high domain authority
  • Produce high-quality content on your website that others want to link to
  • Engage with local businesses and influencers to link back to your website

 

SEO is a fast-moving and ever-changing industry, so you never know when Google will introduce new and innovative features to its search engine results page for local searches, but they are more or less guaranteed. Therefore, it is vital to keep on top of changes that can impact your local SEO. By starting off implementing the above eight points, you will ensure that your business not only takes advantage of lucrative local search opportunities but builds a solid platform that can be taken forward and progressed further when new and exciting local SEO features are announced.

Want to know more about how Designer Website can help your business with its local or national SEO, be sure to visit our search engine optimisation page today to see the professional and quality SEO services that our team of experts can provide. You can also get in touch with us if you require anything else!

 

Our SEO Services >

Search results is constantly changing and evolving so it’s important that marketers change their strategies if they want to achieve and maintain high rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Gone are the days where the SERPs are filled with hundreds of plain links. Now, featured snippets, rich cards and local results are the first things users see when using Google. But what impact are these features this having on website click-through-rates? Let’s find out.

A Quick Introduction to Featured Snippets

We’re sure you’ve come across Google’s featured snippets before but, just in case, let’s quickly get you up to speed on what they are.  

A featured snippet is a short summary of information from a trusted source or website that sits at the top of Google’s search engine results page (a position often referred to as ‘position zero’). Featured snippets appear above all other organic results and are shown for a wide range of questions, queries and keywords. They take up a huge section of the search results and might look something like this…

As you can see, typing ‘How to clean a car?’ into Google will show you a featured snippet with a step by step list of instructions and a labelled photograph. This quickly gives you all the information you need to get the job done, without requiring you to click through to a website. Helpful, right?

This isn’t the only style of featured snippet that we see in Google’s search results, in fact, there are 3 common types of featured snippets; paragraphs, lists and tables. Of these three types, paragraphs are by far the most common, currently making up around 80% of all featured snippets on Google.

Did you know that featured snippets are also the first point of reference for Google’s voice search results? With more and more smart devices and voice-activated assistants making their way into people’s homes, it’s clear to see why featured snippets are becoming more prominent in digital marketing strategies.

How Do Featured Snippets Impact Click-Through-Rates?

Google introduced featured snippets way back in 2014 to (in Google’s own words) “help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description and when they click on the link to read the page itself”.

Since featured snippets were introduced, SEO specialists have been increasingly concerned about their impact on click-through-rates. After all, why would users bother to click through to a website, if all the information they need can be found in the search results?

To tackle these concerns, Google adds a link to the source of the snippet of information prominently and cites the source website whenever Google Assistant reads it aloud as a spoken result. Google even sends a link to the Google Home app so users can ‘click to learn more’ if they so wish. But is this enough? How often do people click to learn more?

According to a recent study carried out by notorious SEO specialist, Rand Fishkin, “less than half of all Google searches now result in a click” (as shown in the chart above). Of course, this doesn’t mean that ranking highly is becoming less important, it just means that digital marketers need to be clever about generating content, adding schema markup to sites, and satisfying Google’s requirements if they want to gain maximum exposure in the search results.

Let’s take a look at a featured snippet we were able to gain for a client in 2019, to see whether gaining this top spot has had a positive, negative or no noticeable effect on click-through-rate.

This blog (shown above) ‘The Most Common Garden Weeds in the UK’ was published in March 2019. By mid-May, we started to see a huge spike in traffic to the website, and more specifically, a dramatic rise in the number of people visiting this blog.

A quick investigation found that this blog had been selected to sit in the exclusive ‘position zero’ for keywords related to common lawn weeds uk. (We gave ourselves a pat on the back).

Between the time the blog was published (March 29th) and the end of the year (December 31st) this blog single-handedly drove over 50% of all new users to the website, more than any other page on the website! The number of clicks through to the blog totalled an impressive 70% of all clicks through to the website, so the positive impact that this featured snippet had for our client was unprecedented.

When considering why that is, it’s likely that the topic that this snippet addresses is driving users to click through. The common garden weeds are listed in the featured snippet, but users might want to find out more information such as; when the weeds are most prevalent and how to get rid of them.

What Can We Take from This?

What this shows is that users are certainly becoming less likely to click on webpages and ads because, quite frankly, they no longer need to. Google is finding the information they need and presenting it to them in an easily digestible way.

However, what our client’s results show is that featured snippets are an incredibly valuable feature that can drive lots of people to your website. Gaining ‘position zero’ puts your site directly in front of the user, and if they do want to find out more, then it’s your site they’re most likely to visit.

It’s important to bear in mind that even users who don’t click on the featured snippet are still being exposed to your brand, whether that’s visually or audibly. This improved brand awareness and authoritative position can only have a positive impact on your business in the long-term.

So, gaining featured snippets is certainly something that business owners and digital marketers should aim for as part of their marketing strategy. You can read more about writing to gain featured snippets in one of our previous blogs.

How to Gain a Featured Snippet >

If you’d like help increasing brand awareness, boosting your Google rankings or keeping your website content fresh and up to date, find out more about our SEO team here.

DJay Plumbing & Heating

DJay Plumbing & Heating is a professional plumbing company based in Dinas Powys, South Wales. Having no real online presence, DJay contacted us here at Designer Websites to help take his business further with a fully functional, responsive website that displayed his wide range of services and could help with future enquiries.

After some initial discussions, DJay decided that the best option for him was a modern-looking brochure site that was easy to navigate, offered the most important information about his business and services and allowed his potential customers to contact him easily. Once this was agreed, our professional design team got to work on creating the sleek design of the website’s homepage and internal pages.

How else did we help?

Once the designs of the website were signed off, our SEO team got to work on the site’s unique and enhanced copy. Armed with a list of services that DJay offered, our professional copywriters conducted thorough keyword research that helped to create optimised copy for each page. This enabled the site and the web pages to be more visible to search engines like Google and Bing and to rank high in search results when online users searched for the services that DJay offered.

Once these searchers found the site, however, they required a way to contact DJay if they were ever in need of his services. To do this, we implemented a simple enquiry form on the site’s contact page that allows users to submit their details and the nature of their enquiry. In addition to this, we also added a boiler quote form at the top of every page, enabling users to request a free boiler quote anywhere on the site.

The end result was an eye-catching website that worked extremely well across a variety of devices, allowing users to find and interact with the site at home or on-the-go. You can visit it here - https://www.djayplumbing.co.uk/

If you’re in need of a new website for your business, Designer Websites can help - request a free web design quote today!

More Examples of Our Work >                     Contact Designer Websites >

New Ladders UK Direct website

Because ecommerce website design is something of a speciality for us here at Designer Websites, we frequently get enquiries from business owners who are looking to boost the visibility of their online stores.

We recently received such an enquiry from Ladders UK Direct, an ecommerce business selling a wide variety of ladders and work platforms. They wanted to improve their website's usability and drive more organic traffic to their products, and after looking at some of our previous projects, they decided that we were the right team for the job.

The new Ladders UK Direct website is now live - click the link below to have a look!

Visit Ladders UK Direct >>

Here are some of the improvements we made:

  • Fresh new website design
  • Search-optimised landing pages
  • Improved site navigation and product pages
  • Brand new back-end admin console
  • Ongoing SEO and marketing support

If your business needs a brand new website, the Designer Websites team can help - request a free web design quote today!

christmas social media, social media for christmas

With December well underway and Christmas rapidly approaching like an unstoppable festive asteroid, the time to give your digital content a seasonal overhaul is overdue.

After all, you’ve probably already decorated your home with all the festive trimmings, so it’s only fair that your social media presence gets the same treatment.

But just how do you encapsulate the palpable ambience of Christmastime within the confines of a single social media page? Where to begin?! Won’t somebody think of the children?!!

Hold your horses there, fella. Take a hearty sip of eggnog and calm it down – we’ve got you covered right here.

Trim up your social media for Christmas with our five top tips for Christmas social media.

 

Tips for Christmas Social Media

Step into Christmas by stepping up your social media game this yuletide and ensure your followers have themselves a merry little Christmas experience whenever they view your page.

 

christmas social media, social media for christmas

 

Seasonal Imagery

It’s long been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so, by that rationale, a quality social media image can save you a whole lot of ad copy.

Think of your social media profile as your digital shop window. What self-respecting shop would let December come and go without decorating their storefront in festive furnishings?

Start by sprucing up your profile and cover images with a healthy dose of red and a festive font. This is an easy way to inject a bit of obvious Christmas spirit into your branding without having to completely overhaul your existing assets.

You may also want to include other Christmas visuals – such as snowflakes, baubles, holly, etc. – in your cover image to further hammer home the point with festive fervour. The Christmas flavour will provide a welcome change for regular followers while also make for a memorable first impression to new visitors.

This is also a great avenue to advertise any festive products or services you may offer. Meanwhile, this is also a good opportunity to incorporate and highlight any seasonal offers you may be running over the Christmas period.

Which brings us nicely to our next entry…

 

Festive Offers

If you’re running seasonal offers over the festive period, congratulations – you’re showing your customers that you value their business and repaying their brand loyalty at a time of the year where it counts. If not, shame on you and it may be time to rethink your festive strategy.

Christmas is a time of year where the public is expecting their brand loyalty to be rewarded with sales and cut-price goods/services. What’s more, chances are, your competitors are probably going to be doing the same, so it’s a necessity if you want to keep up.

So, assuming you are indeed running some offers over the Christmas period, where better to highlight such offers than on your corresponding social media page? Make it overtly obvious by pinning it to the top of your page and/or boosting your offer post and you can’t go wrong.

Additionally, it’s also possible to customise posts to include specific background colours and themes, which is a simple yet effective way to also get your social posts in the festive spirit. The combination of the two is a sure-fire way to get your audience’s attention.

 

Spirit of Giving

As we all know, Christmas is the time for giving, peace on earth and goodwill to all. Why not soak up the yuletide ambience and take that festive message to heart by running a Christmas competition?

With gift-giving such an integral part of the Christmas experience, it’s only fitting that your brand follows suit and play Santa Claus to one or more of your followers.

A simple yet effective way of inciting social engagement, giveaways are like a hard-working postman – they never fail to deliver.

Whether it’s the allure of an attractive prize or the simplicity of the entry process, running a social media competition at Christmas is a fool-proof tactic that will only further endear you to your audience.

 

Santa’s Workshop

A great way to humanise your brand/company while still providing some excellent and engaging content for your audience is to give your followers a peek behind the curtain at what goes on behind the scenes.

Christmastime is the perfect period to provide such insight into daily operations, as it typically entails a happier office, a joyous atmosphere and – presuming Christmas decorations are out in force – an overall scenery that looks a lot more upbeat than at other times of the year.

Whether it’s a team lunch, exchanging Secret Santa gifts or simply showing off some of the best (and worst) Christmas jumpers to pass through your office doors, why not record any festive fun you might be having in the office during this time?

It all makes for great content, showing that your company is more than just a faceless logo and one that has a very human heart at the core.

 

Yule Blog

Blogs are a great way of attracting web traffic to your site, so why not pen fresh, festive-themed blogs and share your Christmas content on social media?

Christmas-themed articles are some of the most reliable and consistent content in terms of performance during December and some of the best is that which revolves around useful tips and advice over the festive period; e.g. “How to Save Money on Your Christmas Travel”.

While it might take a little thought to get there, if you can take the overall Christmas concept and connect your goods or services to the festive period, you’re on to a winner. Once you do, pen it, publish it and share away!

Run a gardening company? How about a blog on festive garden decorations? Operating a ladder business? What about tips for hanging Christmas lights? Offering web services? Why not write a blog on Christmas social media tips… wait a minute!

 

For more advice on social media for Christmas or additional Christmas social media tips, why not drop us a line today? Call us direct on 01446 339050 or click the button below to get in touch online now.

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