Really Wild Bird Food are family-run business based in Hampshire, who specialise in growing, harvesting and supplying seeds and feed mixes for garden birds. Since their business was first set up in the early nineties, their selection of products has expanded rapidly, which means that their website is now a one-stop shop for a variety of garden bird and wildlife products, including:

  • Suet products, peanuts and live/dried mealworms 
  • Bird feeders, tables and stations
  • Feeder cleaning and hygiene products 
  • Bird baths and nesting boxes 
  • Food, habitats and accessories for attracting other garden wildlife 
The farm and business is headed by husband and wife team Richard and Lesley, who came to us with a vision of a new, user-friendly ecommerce website, which retained their approachable, hands-on image. In addition, they also wanted the ability to easily manage their product listings and company blog, which was especially important for a couple with such a long to-do list!
 
We are now happy to say that the website has been completely revamped, to include an eye-catching, user-friendly design, highly optimised SEO and copy, and a functional content management system that's easy to use. In addition to these many benefits, the site is now fully responsive, making it easy to navigate on mobile devices, and optimised to perform well in mobile search results.
 
Whether you're looking for seeds and wildlife products for the budding bird-spotter in your life, or you'd simply like to have a closer look at the new design simply click here to visit the new and improved Really Wild Bird Food site!
 
Would you like a functional, attractive and SEO friendly ecommerce site for your business? Get in touch now to request a free quotation.

If you’re familiar with the dilemma about whether art imitates life, or life art, you’ll probably agree that it’s rather a fitting analogy for the world of social media these days. With each platform becoming increasingly competitive in order to retain users and advertisers, it’s become a case of cyclical imitation that makes it hard to keep up with who thought of what first.

While imitation hasn’t always worked for Twitter, as was evident in the outrage caused by the announcement of a non-chronological feed and possible character change earlier this year, the company is still persevering with ways to tackle its main competitor: Facebook. 

We’ve heard countless stories over the course of the year, about how Twitter is failing to retain its user base due to a lack of identity, features, and failure to sufficiently deal with the levels of harassment and hate speech being spread across the platform. We’ve also heard about their struggle to compete with the increasing dominance of Facebook (and Instagram), in the paid advertising market, which has seen Twitter’s own performance screech to a grinding halt. Combine this with the repeated loss of top-level employees, and it’s safe to say that this year has been anything but stable.

While the platform’s main competitor has seen its fair share of problems this year, between the controversy surrounding fake news and the revelations regarding miscalculated metrics, there has been one key area in which Facebook has managed to thrive during 2016: Live Video. Since launching the capability for users to share real-time updates from their phone cameras, the feature has proven to be a hit with audiences and content-creators alike, taking the platform’s capabilities beyond that of a simple status update or image share. 

For the average user, this provides the ability to share important moments with your friends and family as and when they happen, in a more instantaneous and impactful way than it is possible to achieve with traditional methods of posting. For brands, Facebook Live has provided a platform which combines, ‘behind the scenes’ exclusivity with the appeal of video content, to create an experience which has value for the viewer, as well as the ability to generate engagement and instant feedback for the creator.

This feature, of course, is far from being an original idea, which is something of a theme when it comes to the company’s developments. Facebook-owned platform Instagram almost directly copied Snapchat’s famous ‘story’ feature this year, integrating it into their app for an enhanced range of capabilities. Let’s not also forget Facebook’s move to integrate ‘trends' back in 2014, which until then had been a distinct characteristic of Twitter as a social sharing platform. 

Regardless of who thought of what first, the importance of these developments is not their level of originality, but the move towards a one-stop, all-encompassing social sharing platform. This is exactly what Twitter seems to be aiming for by integrating Periscope into the existing Twitter app, making it easy for users to share live videos from a single platform.  We’ve heard about the impact of video content endlessly throughout 2016, and it’s no secret that Twitter has been lagging behind its social counterparts when it comes to delivering these capabilities for users. While it may have been a case of too little too late when it comes to Vine (which will now exist as Vine Camera), the move may manage to bolster Twitter’s ability to engage users in 2017. 

To what extent this will help Twitter compete with the likes of Facebook isn’t exactly clear, particularly as the latter’s own live video service remains in the very early stages itself. What is clear, however, is that Twitter has to create a more inclusive experience for users and marketers if it wants to put itself on a level playing field with other social sharing apps. While Twitter’s biggest struggle has always been the dilemma between adding new features, and retaining its loyal users who were attracted to Twitter for the very reason that it wasn’t like other platforms, there’s no doubt that the platform has to diversify if it wants to keep up with the growing prominence of video content throughout social media.

Twitter’s choice to integrate video may not be the answer to all their problems, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to throw their name into the list of platforms offering this service. For those who already use Twitter, be it for recreational or commercial purposes, they now have one less reason to go elsewhere if they want to experiment with this feature. If Twitter could manage to grow its user base and brand appeal, that would be a huge achievement for the platform, but if it can manage to retain and engage its current users at the very least, that would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Reduce High Bounce Rates

If you've ever logged into Google Analytics and seen a mountainous spike in your site traffic, you'll know how good it feels to get a nice influx of new users. Whether it's because a carefully-planned marketing campaign is paying off or because someone unexpectedly linked to your blog on r/TodayILearned, a healthy increase in sessions never fails to get those endorphins rushing.

But as pleased as you may be with that big traffic boost, it won't actually benefit your business much unless those visitors are sticking around long enough to make a purchase (or fill out a contact form, order a free sample, join your mailing list...you get the idea). All the web traffic in the world won't affect your company's bottom line if every user leaves your site within seconds of arriving.

If your website gets plenty of traffic but shows a very high bounce rate, be sure to keep reading - we've got some very straightforward tips that will help you to convert more of your visitors into customers. But first, let's just make sure we all understand one key piece of terminology...

What does 'bounce rate' mean?

Your website's bounce rate tells you how many people visit the site and then leave without any further interaction - in other words, how many people 'bounce off' after hitting your site. It is expressed as a percentage of the website's total traffic.

For example, if your website received 1,000 visits in November 2016 and Google Analytics is showing a bounce rate of 60% for that month, it basically means that 600 of your 1,000 visitors didn't get any further than the page they landed on to begin with.

Google Analytics shows a bounce rate for each individual page of a website as well as for the website as a whole. You'll usually want every landing page's bounce rate to be as close to 0% as possible, since a high bounce rate tends to indicate that users aren't getting what they want from your content. That being said, a bounce isn't always bad - for example, the following positive outcomes would still count as bounces:
  • A user arrives on your homepage, then calls you on the phone without navigating to any other pages.

  • A user arrives on a blog post, reads it from start to finish, then leaves your website to share the post on Twitter.

  • A user arrives on your 'Contact Us' page, makes a note of your email address, then closes the tab and sends you an email using their own email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook).

  • A user arrives on a product page, makes a note of the price, then visits your bricks-and-mortar shop to purchase the item in person rather than ordering it online.
By and large, though, a high bounce rate is bad news for your business and a clear sign that you need to make some improvements to your website.

What improvements, you ask?

1. Focus on making a good first impression

It may be that people are leaving your website quickly because they're put off by the very first thing they see. Prominently displaying any of the following things on your homepage (or another key landing page) will almost certainly drive up your bounce rate:
  • Intrusive ads/popups (or 'interstitials', as Google calls them) that appear as soon as the page has loaded and get in the way of your actual content

  • Large swathes of text that the user will have to comb through in order to find the information they need

  • Dull and/or poor-quality images that fail to engage the user and risk making your brand look outdated, unprofessional, or unwelcoming

  • Potentially offensive, disturbing or triggering material that may shock, disgust or distress some people (it doesn't have to be a graphic depiction of violence or nudity - for instance, arachnophobes may click away immediately if you have a photo of a spider on your homepage)
Examine your landing pages carefully, or ask someone else to look at them with fresh eyes (they may notice issues that you've missed due to over-familiarity). Think about the first thing each site user sees: are you doing anything to irritate them, upset them, intimidate them, confuse them, or otherwise put them off?

2. Make it snappy!

While we're on the subject of first impressions, we really should mention site speed. Every day, countless website sessions are curtailed prematurely because the page simply didn't load quickly enough - you've probably given up on a fair few sites yourself after watching that loading icon spin for a little too long.

As a UX-conscious website owner, it is absolutely imperative that you minimise your site's loading times. Use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool to test your key landing pages, then follow the tool's recommendations as best you can (you may need to ask your web developer to make some changes for you).

3. Don't make promises your content can't keep

If your organic search traffic is showing an especially high bounce rate, it may be that Google or Bing is showing searchers a snippet that isn't particularly representative of your actual website. For example, imagine typing 'pizza near me' into Google and seeing this result:


'Great,' you think, 'just what I'm looking for.' But then you click onto Super Pizza's website and you quickly realise that it's not a pizzeria at all - it's a trendy digital marketing agency with a quirky name. Disappointed, you click your browser's 'back' button and return to the search results page to try a different website.

This is quite an outlandish example (though not necessarily that outlandish), but it illustrates the way in which misleading search results can lead to high bounce rates. Look at the words being used to advertise your website in the SERPs: does that little snippet of text promise something you're not delivering? Are you purporting to sell a product or provide a service that you no longer offer? Are you failing to clarify that you only serve customers in a specific part of the country? Are you roping people in with claims of low prices, then showing them a page full of products that are actually fairly expensive?

If so, you need to make a change. Ensure that each page's title tag and meta description give a fair, accurate, and up-to-date representation of what the user will find if they click through. And, if it's not already too late, you obviously ought to give your company a name that actually reflects the business you're in instead of trying to think of something...ugh...'random'.

N.B. If your bouncy traffic is coming from a source other than a search engine (e.g. social media posts, directory listings, banner ads on another website), this rule still applies. You should always do your best to ensure that people are getting exactly what they expect when they click a link to your site.

4. Keep your keywords on target

This one is a little trickier, because it's not always clear what people are Googling immediately before they land on your website. However, if you are getting a lot of high-bounce traffic from an organic search engine like Google or Bing, it may well be because your site is showing up for the wrong keywords.

Here's an example. Let's say you own a company that sells swimming pools and installs them in people's back gardens. Your website gets a lot of traffic, but the vast majority of visitors bounce because they were looking for a public swimming pool that they could visit with the family.

Now, you may well be able to fix this problem by doing as we recommended in point #3 and rewriting your title/description tags to more clearly indicate the exact nature of your business. But your site shouldn't be showing up for searches like 'swimming pools in nottingham' at all, and if it is, you may need to pick some different keywords and adjust your site copy accordingly. In this example, you ought to be targeting keywords that are specifically related to buying swimming pools, or to the swimming pool installation service that you provide.

And your keyword focus should be reflected in the copy you write - for example, this might be a sensible statement to include on your pool website's homepage:

Here at Petunia Pools, we sell a wide variety of home swimming pools to suit every budget. Furthermore, our pool installers have been in the business for thirty years, so they can be relied upon to get the job done quickly and professionally.

Whereas the following excerpt might well mislead the search engine bots and cause them to send the wrong sort of traffic to your website:

Looking for a swimming pool in Nottingham? We are Petunia Pools, the local business of choice for swimming pools in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area. Get in touch today and get ready to go for a swim!

Recent developments in semantic search technology mean that Google et al are now far more adroit when it comes to recognising the meaning of a piece of writing in the same way a human would. However, that technology effectively relies on word association, so make sure you're sending out the right signals and using the right words in your website copy (e.g. 'buy', 'installation', 'home' instead of 'swim', 'Nottingham', 'local').

5. Don't forget the mobile mob

More and more people these days are yanking themselves away from their desktop computers and browsing the web on their smartphones instead. Log into your Google Analytics reports, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview, and take a look at what percentage of your site traffic currently comes from mobile devices. Given recent trends, we're guessing it'll be quite a high number; in fact, some of our clients are now getting around 80% of their traffic from smartphones.

With so much online interaction now taking place on a pocket-sized screen, your website's high bounce rate could well be a result of your failure to provide a good user experience on mobile devices. If that's the case...well, unfortunately, this one isn't such an easy fix. You ideally need a responsive website that functions equally smoothly across all devices - this should ensure that, no matter how big or small their screen is, each visitor finds it easy to navigate and interact with your site. Remember, the desktop PC is no longer the default platform for Internet use, and if you're serious about user satisfaction, you'll want to treat your mobile and tablet users just as well as you treat the people using a traditional mouse-and-keyboard setup.

If you need a new website design that will engage users and minimise bounces, Designer Websites can help. Get a quote for your project today.
Google SERP

Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) have changed a lot in recent years. Once upon a time, you could type just about anything into Google and you'd only ever get ten blue links on the results page:

Ten Blue Links SERP
Pictured: a dying breed.

Nowadays, it's very rare to see a SERP that's exclusively populated by blue links. The modern Google SERP is a far more colourful place to be, often incorporating some combination of the following:
  • AdWords ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Featured snippets (also known as 'answer boxes')
  • Image results
  • Video results
  • Map results (for local businesses)
  • News stories
For example, take a look at the results you get if you perform a search for 'wedding ideas' - there are some standard organic text results (the blue links) but they share the SERP with AdWords ads, a row of images, and even some recent tweets from Wedding Ideas magazine!

Wedding Ideas Results

This is all part of Google's ongoing effort to give every searcher exactly what they're looking for as quickly as possible. Hence, if you type in 'how much does a Kodiak bear weight', the answer (1,500 pounds) will appear right at the top of your SERP, and if you Google 'Kristen Stewart' or 'Brad Pitt', you'll be greeted by a smorgasbord of different media - including photos, news stories, movie posters, quotations, and biographical titbits - that Google has collected from various corners of the Internet in the hope that one of these things will be what you were after.

What does this mean for website owners?

Google's increasingly diverse results pages are something of a mixed blessing for webmasters. On the plus side, there are now numerous different ways to appear on the first page of Google results for certain juicy keywords: even if your site doesn't rank among the top 10 traditional text results, you may still be able to achieve some level of visibility as an image/video result or a dot on the map in certain locations.

On the other hand, many websites that previously received a lot of hits from organic Google searches have seen a noticeable decrease in traffic since the SERPs started getting smarter. Securing the #1 slot in the blue link list no longer means that you will necessary appear at the very top of the SERP - your link may be pushed down the page by adverts, featured snippets, and/or image results if Google decides that these things will result in a higher level of user satisfaction.

This issue is exacerbated in the ever-expanding world of mobile search, where SERP real estate is scarcest of all. For example, B&Q's website www.diy.com occupies the #1 organic slot for the term 'garden decking' at time of writing, but because Google prioritises its own Shopping and AdWords results, you have to scroll quite a long way down before you even come to that supposedly 'top' result:

Decking SERP

This iPhone user searched for 'garden decking' using the Google app, and only reached the top organic result after scrolling past a row of Google Shopping ads and 3 AdWords results.

The lesson here is that, for many search terms, a high organic ranking is no longer the be-all and end-all when it comes to driving lots of traffic. If you want to maximise your website's search engine visibility, you need to be seen in all the other parts of the SERP too.

Not sure how to do that? Don't worry - the SEO experts from Designer Websites are here to provide you with your very own AAA pass. Read on to find out how to get your website showing up in four different parts of the modern Google SERP:

Introduction: Your Music Shop

Now, the SEO/SEM tips we're about to dish up can be applied to a broad variety of different businesses, but for the purposes of this blog post we're going to need a single, versatile example.

So, for the next few minutes, please imagine you own a shop that sells musical instruments. Your bricks-and-mortar store is located in Birmingham, but you also sell instruments online and ship them to customers all over the country. You take online orders through an ecommerce website that ranks well for terms like 'buy musical instruments', but it's recently become clear that your visually appealing, user-friendly website isn't getting anywhere near as much traffic as it ought to be getting.

And that's why you're reading this article - because you're trying to find a way to boost your music shop's visibility in the Google SERPs.

1. Google AdWords

As noted above, your website ranks reasonably well for the term 'buy musical instruments', but you're concerned that a lot of potential customers are ignoring your link in favour of the AdWords listings that appear at the top of the Google results for that query.

Musical Instrument ads

Google selfishly gives its own ads pole position in the results for this search term, so if you want to appear at the very top of the 'buy musical instruments' SERP, you'll need to set up an AdWords account and pay for some ads of your own.

Google AdWords operates on a 'pay per click' (PPC) basis, which means that you will be charged a certain amount of money every time somebody clicks your ad. The exact cost of each click will depend on how much you bid for each keyword - the more you bid, the higher up the page your ad will appear when somebody searches for that word or phrase.

Cost per click is also dependent on your page's quality score: when you create an advert, Google will look at your landing page and give it a mark out of 10 based on how well it 'answers' the query you're targeting. If you get a low quality score, Google will be reluctant to show your ad to users, and you'll have to pay more for each click as a result.

The key to running a successful AdWords campaign is finding the right keywords. You need to identify popular search terms that your customers frequently type into Google, but you ideally want to steer clear of ultra-competitive keywords with a high cost per click (since you'll have to pay a lot of money to consistently appear in a prominent position for these terms).

2. Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping)

AdWords ads aren't the only sponsored results that Google likes to display above the organic listings. Let's imagine you've got a lot of Yamaha keyboards in your music shop that you'd like to sell - how do you show up at the top of the SERP for the term 'Yamaha keyboards'?

Keyboard Shopping Results

Those links with images above them are called product listing ads. They tend to show up when the user searches for a specific product or type of product - think of them as Google's way of saying, 'It looks like you want to buy something...and we reckon we've got just the thing right here!'

Unfortunately, the guys at Google won't list your products out of the goodness of their hearts - you have to pay to appear in those shopping slots. Google Shopping operates on a PPC basis, just like Google AdWords, although product listing ads are arguably a little easier to manage than AdWords campaigns because you don't have to worry about finding the right keywords to target.

Here's a quick introduction to Google Shopping ads courtesy of the search engine giant itself:


3. Local Results (Google Maps)

Since you sell your musical instruments in a bricks-and-mortar shop as well as through an ecommerce website, you'll definitely want to be appearing in the Google Maps results for certain terms. For example, if somebody Googles 'music shop Birmingham', that probably indicates that they're looking to walk into a local shop and buy something in person, so you should absolutely be aiming to rank among the top results for that search term.

But once again, you'll have to jump through a couple of hoops to make that happen.

Google Map Results

The good news is that Google's local results are not sponsored listings, so this part won't cost you money like the AdWords campaigns and the product listing ads did. All you have to do is go to Google My Business and enter your shop's details - you will probably have to verify the business either by taking a phone call or entering a code that Google sends to your address on a postcard.

Once that's done, you can customise your listing with photographs, add an enticing description of your music shop, and display your opening hours for everyone to see. You will also be able to collect reviews from Google users who have visited your store and want to tell other potential visitors about their experience.

4. Featured Snippets (The Answer Box)

Google seems to be displaying featured answers for more and more queries with each passing day. They're designed to provide digestible answers to question-type searches, and they look like this:

Google Answers
These snippets are great for the sites they're culled from - being featured in Google's answer box means that your link gets pushed right to the top of the organic results and given an extra wallop of visual emphasis that really helps you to stand out.

In order to rank as a featured snippet, you'll first need to identify a frequently-asked question that's relevant to your business and to your specialist knowledge. Here are some examples that could drive some good traffic to your hypothetical music shop's website:
  • why do guitars go out of tune
  • easiest instrument to learn
  • how to stop drumsticks breaking
All of these are examples of search terms for which Google might reasonably serve up a featured answer. And if you want that answer to come from your website, all you have to do is write one!

This is a really good use for a company blog - answering popular questions that are specifically related to your niche or industry. Simply pick a question and make that the title of your blog post; aim to provide a short, simplified answer in the first paragraph of your blog (the idea being that Google will use this excerpt for their featured snippet), then use a few more paragraphs to explore the question in more detail.


We hope you found this blog post useful and that you enjoyed reading it. Remember, the Designer Websites team can help with all your search engine marketing needs - get in touch today to discuss your requirements with us!
MJM Cleaning Website

MJM Cleaning & Maintenance Ltd is a cleaning company owned by Martyn Madden, a former prop forward who played rugby for the Scarlets and the Welsh international team before starting his own business in 2002. MJM deliver a wide variety of services, including:
  • Office and washroom cleaning
  • Builders cleans
  • Window cleaning
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Deep cleans
Martyn recently asked us to give his company's website a comprehensive update: an eye-catching new look, revised SEO, and a user-friendly design that would function equally well across all devices.

As ever, the Designer Websites team were only to happy to rise to the challenge, and our hard work can now be seen at www.martynmaddengroup.co.uk. In line with the brief we were given, the new and improved MJM Cleaning website has a responsive design, improved search engine optimisation, and a smooth user journey that we hope will lead to lots more enquiries for Martyn and his team.

MJM have offices in Cardiff and Llanelli, so if you're based in South or West Wales and you need a professional cleaning service to keep your business looking good, be sure to get in touch with MJM - we think you'll find their new online home a real pleasure to use.