301 Redirects

If you want to manage your website effectively and provide a smooth, hassle-free experience for both users and search engines, the 301 redirect is one of the most important items in your toolkit.

A 301 redirect is a piece of code used to indicate that the requested piece of content has permanently moved to a different location. You should use a 301 if one of your old URLs is no longer in use, as this will automatically redirect the user (or search engine bot) to the new version of that page.

Example of a 301 redirect

Let's say you're the owner of www.my-bikes.coman ecommerce website that sells bicycles. You have a page dedicated to folding bicycles located at the following URL:

http://www.my-bikes.com/folding

Lots of people link to this page, but for whatever reason, you've decided to change its URL to something slightly different:

http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes

Once you've changed the page's URL, anyone who tries to visit the old web address (http://www.my-bikes.com/folding) will see a 404 error message, because that page technically no longer exists.

However, you can use a 301 redirect to ensure that anyone who visits http://www.my-bikes.com/folding is automatically sent to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes instead. Here's how that works:
  • A user attempts to visit http://www.my-bikes.com/folding (perhaps they clicked an old link, or maybe they had it bookmarked)

  • Your 301 redirect tells their web browser to go to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes instead of the defunct URL that was initially requested

  • The user is taken straight to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes and, with any luck, they buy a new bike from you!
This is the correct way to handle a page that has permanently moved from one URL to another, so be sure to use a 301 redirect every time you change a page's URL. You should also use a 301 redirect if you're deleting a page and you think its URL should take visitors another to relevant page instead of an error notification.

Why use a 301 redirect?

301 redirects are handy for a number of different reasons:
  • Smoother user experience. If a page no longer exists but lots of users are still trying to access it, it's a good idea to redirect the old URL to a new, still-active page. Otherwise, all of those visitors will run into 404 errors - not particularly conducive to a satisfying user experience!

  • Prevents broken links. When you delete a page from your website, any links to that page will cease to work. Anyone who clicks those links will be greeted with a 404 error message...unless you use a 301 redirect to point the old links at a new page.

  • SEO juice isn't lost. When somebody links to your website, it's kind of like a vote of confidence; they're saying, 'yes, this is a good site that is worth visiting'. Those 'votes' can have a big impact on your Google rankings, especially if the linking website has a good reputation, because a link passes some of their authority on to you. However, if that high-authority website is linking to a URL that no longer exists, you won't feel the full benefit of the link unless you redirect the old URL to an active URL, thus passing the other site's authority (or 'juice') to a different part of your website.

  • Helps search engines to index your website properly. 301 redirects make it crystal-clear to Google and other search engines which of your URLs you want indexed and which are no longer in use. Also, if you change the URL of a page that already ranks highly in the SERPs, you should put a 301 redirect on the old URL so that you don't have to wait for your site to be re-crawled (failing to put in a 301 redirect will mean that anyone who clicks on your high-ranking page in the search results will be shown an error message, at least until your website is crawled again).

How to Add a 301 Redirect

The method for implementing a 301 redirect varies depending on a number of different factors. In some cases, it's possible to do it yourself, but it's generally a good idea to speak to your web developer or hosting company and ask them to put in any necessary redirect(s) for you.

If you need help managing your website and ensuring that it's fully optimised for user satisfaction and search engine success, get in touch with Designer Websites today.
JSM Responsive Website

JSM Models & Effects called up the Designer Websites office recently because they wanted to give their online presence an overhaul. JSM create all kinds of amazing models and visuals for projects large and small; however, their rather dated website wasn't really doing the company's work justice, and so they asked us to come up with an attractive, modern-looking design that would capture both the attention and the imagination of potential clients.

As ever, our web design experts were more than up to the task, and we believe we've succeeded in producing a website that's worthy of JSM's spectacular creations.

All images courtesy of JSM Model Makers

The new website has a responsive design, which means that it's easy to use and appealing to look at no matter what device you're using. The design automatically adapts to the screen on which it's viewed, resulting in a superb user experience for everyone.

It's always a joy to create a website like this one, because the visual elements (photos of JSM's models, in this case) do most of the talking. That being said, there are a lot of other things to take into account behind the scenes, and we all worked very hard to ensure that every element of the new JSM website was spot on. Our UI and dev teams concentrated on delivering a smooth, intuitive journey through the website, while our SEO specialists collaborated closely with the guys at JSM to make sure that the site copy was search engine-friendly while also appealing to the company's target audience.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable project to work on, and we hope that JSM are as happy with the finished website as we are. To see it for yourself, visit www.modelmakers.co.uk now.

Do you need a responsive website for your business? Whatever your industry, we'd be thrilled to hear from you - give us a call on 01446 339050 or click here to request a quotation.

We are repeatedly reminded of how important it is to enhance our online presence with engaging content, but what use is a great infographic or a highly informative blog tutorial, if no one clicks through in the first place?

A great headline can make all the difference when it comes to engaging your audience, so it’s important to get this right in order to give your painstakingly thought-out content the best chance at success. Of course, no two pieces are the same, and no ‘one-size’ approach will always be suitable, which is why we’ve put together a list of various techniques to keep you inspired.

No matter who you’re targeting, or what the piece aims to achieve, the correct use of the following techniques can massively increase the engagement rate on your content, making the hours you’ve spent creating it worthwhile:

Write With Authority 

If you’re able to generate a sense of knowledge and authority surrounding your piece, then potential readers will be more likely to regard this as a useful source of information, and consider it a worthwhile read.
Examples:
‘The Essential Guide to ______’
‘The Best Way to _________’
‘Everything You Need to Know About _______’

Take Advantage of Title Generator Tools

If you’re a stuck for ideas, or you simply want to shake things up a little, then title generator tools can be a great way to create unusual, striking and thought-provoking headlines. Used in reverse, these tools can also make a great writing prompt if you have a subject of interest or keyword that you would like to target, but aren’t feeling particularly inspired.

Target Your Intended Reader 

If your piece is targeted towards a specific audience or readership, then why not make this obvious in the title? Engaging with related communities and influencers is, as we all know, a vital element of content marketing, which means that getting the right eyes on your piece is crucial. If a tile actively calls out or mentions people in a certain profession, or with a particular interest/hobby, they are far more likely to feel a connection to your piece right away, increasing the chances of them clicking through.

Convey a Sense of Urgency 

We’re used to urgency being used as a sales technique, but it can also be remarkably effective when it comes to sharing your content too! Whether you’re delivering a warning, or suggesting a change in behaviour, encouraging your reader to act is always a great way to capture their attention and draw them in.

Use the Power of Lists 

They may be everywhere these days, but there’s a reason why the ‘listacle’ is such a popular format for blogs and online articles. If a piece of content is organised and assigned value by placing it into a numbered list, it not only provokes curiosity, but also suggests that the information will be presented in an easy-to-digest format. Both of these attributes combine to not only to make the piece highly appealing on initial appearance, but also make it compulsively readable once the reader has clicked through.

Use Sensationalism

This is one to be careful with! Readers are becoming more and more attuned to the ‘clickbait’ strategy of luring people in with a controversial headline, only to leave them disappointed with bland content, or a poorly thought-out sales pitch. Despite this, when used correctly, a controversial statement/provocative question can still be used as a great starting point, prompting readers to challenge or decipher the reasoning behind your opening statement. 

Experiment 

If you work in digital marketing, it’s highly likely that you’ll already be familiar with the concept of A/B testing, so why not extend this to your creative content? While you may not wish to edit the title of the piece itself, you can still make alterations to the copy used to promote your piece, as well as the title image used to accompany it. By comparing the results gained by these advertorial headlines, you can gain a better understanding of what is encouraging readers to engage with your piece, and use this information to get the most from your content.

Provide Solutions to Problem Questions

If your piece has a tutorial element, or aims to demonstrate an alternative approach to an existing practice, then you should definitely pitch your blog/article as a problem solving piece in your headline! Of course, you may find the traditional ‘how to’ to be a bit bland, which can be remedied by adding additional value to the information you will be providing. Inform your reader that you will not only be explaining how to do something, but will be highlighting the best, easiest or correct way to do it! 

Let the Facts Speak

If your piece is based on experimental research or even a single revelation, you should exploit the value of this in your headline. When presented with a figure, fact or statement, it stands to reason that the curiosity and problem-solving instincts of your reader will provoke them to discover more; an aim which can only be achieved by reading your article!


Find out how the team of copywriters and content marketing specialists at Designer Websites can help you to produce high-quality, attention-grabbing content here.

M-Commerce Tips

You probably knew this already, but a lot of people use smartphones to browse the Internet nowadays. The total number of mobile web users is almost constantly increasing, and if you have a website, you may well have noticed that more and more of your traffic is coming from mobile devices.

We'll use ourselves as an example. In April 2012, less than 5% of Designer Websites' total site traffic came from mobile devices. By April 2015, that number was up to 12%. Our total site traffic for April of this year was 32% mobile, meaning that roughly 1 in 3 people who visited www.designer-websites.co.uk this April did so using a mobile device such as a smartphone.

Mobile Usage Graph

Bear in mind that our website is primarily targeted at business owners, most of whom are probably sitting at their desks when they discover us; the spike in mobile use becomes even more pronounced when you look at a more consumer-focused website. Here's what that graph looks like when we take the data from www.gadgetinspector.co.uk, an ecommerce (shopping) website that specialises in gadgets and gifts:

Gadget Inspector - Mobile Usage
Thanks to the Gadget Inspector team for giving us permission to share this data.

Make no bones about it: mobile users are a segment of the market that you can't afford to ignore, especially if you have an ecommerce website. According to pymnts.com, over 18 million consumers in the UK alone are estimated to shop using a mobile device on a regular basis (that's 6 times the entire population of Wales!) and this is an audience whose commerce you may be missing out on if your website isn't offering mobile users a good online experience.

So how can I capitalise on the mobile revolution?

If you're ready to enter the m-commerce market and meet the needs of those 18 million mobile shoppers, there are a few important things you'll want to focus on. Here are our recommendations for ecommerce site owners who want to encourage mobile users to buy from them:

Get a responsive website.

The first and most crucial consideration for any budding m-commerce giant is developing a website that looks good and functions well on mobile devices. There are several different ways to approach this challenge, but we recommend using responsive web design techniques to ensure that your site can adapt smoothly to any screen size. A well-made responsive website will deliver a superb user experience across all devices, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets, and it will save you from having to redirect mobile users to a mobile version of your site (e.g. m.example.com) that's separate from - and potentially inconsistent with - the site you're showing desktop users.

Creating an app specifically for mobile users may be a viable alternative to creating a responsive website, but while many businesses choose to explore the app option, this tactic does come with a number of drawbacks. For one thing, forcing mobile users to download an app may put some of them off, as downloading an app (even if it's free of charge) constitutes an extra commitment to your business that many consumers may not be willing to make. It makes sense for an ecommerce Goliath like Amazon to offer an app, as they have many committed customers who will enjoy having that extra convenience, but if your primary goal here is to entice new customers to your business then you're better off letting them discover and access your services via their phones' web browsers instead.

It's also worth noting that, according to searchenginewatch.com, mobile users make more purchases via browsers than via apps anyway. For these and other reasons, we would always recommend creating a responsive website for your business instead of targeting mobile customers with an app, at least in the first instance. The time to start thinking about apps is when you've already got a large base of customers who use their phones to access your business - at that point, perhaps they'll be happy to make that extra commitment in exchange for the added ease of an app.

Keep loading times to a bare minimum.

Nobody likes waiting an eternity for a webpage to load, but long loading times are particularly toxic when your users are on the go. Smartphone users want their content right away, and if you take too long to deliver it, a sizeable chunk of your traffic will bounce back to the search results and end up on a competitor's website instead. This infographic from KISSmetrics contains lots of interesting stats about load times and how they affect user engagement, but perhaps the most compelling titbit is this one:

"A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. If your ecommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year."

Every second counts in the world of m-commerce, so make use of tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to ensure that nothing is slowing your website down.

Make the payment process as simple as possible.

Once the user has finished browsing your website and filling their basket with all of your amazing products, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to complete the checkout process and finalise their order. Remember, convenience is key in the mobile market, and just as people won't want to wait ages for your site to finish loading, they might not have the time or the patience to register for an account and fill out loads of little boxes in order to finalise what may have been a spur-of-the-moment purchase in the first place.

So how can you make the last part of the purchasing process quick and painless for your site's users? The key here is payment integration; for example, many people have PayPal accounts, so if you can offer PayPal as one of your payment options you'll potentially save a lot of customers a lot of hassle.

If you allow (or indeed force) users to create an account with your business when they place an order, you may want to review that system before you attempt to conquer the mobile market. The idea with this sort of thing is usually to make life easier for repeat customers; by creating an account, these people are saved from having to enter their payment and delivery details anew each time they buy from you. Registering for an account is inconvenient in the short term because you have to fill out even more boxes, but it's more convenient in the long term because it means that future orders can be completed by simply entering a set of login details.

But here's the thing: the majority of mobile users probably aren't interested in that long-term convenience. They're not planning ahead, thinking of the precious seconds they'll save later if they take the time to register now - they just want to finish what they're doing as quickly as possible and get back to scrolling through Twitter. With this in mind, you may decide that it's better to scrap the 'Create an Account' step altogether, or at least offer an 'Express Checkout' option for users who aren't interested in registering.

HenStuff Checkout Page

Here's an example from the checkout page of www.henstuff.co.uk, an ecommerce website specialising in hen night accessories and party supplies. Registered users simply enter their login details; new customers can either create a new account ('Register Now') or checkout without creating an account ('Express Checkout').

Review and improve!

Websites are often very different  when it comes to how users interact with them, and so it's unlikely that you'll nail the mobile shopping experience right away. That's OK, though - you just need to keep an eye on how people are interacting with your website and make ongoing improvements as necessary. Tools like Google Analytics are great for reviewing mobile use of your website and identifying areas that need work; for example, if a particular landing page has an abnormally high bounce rate on mobile devices specifically, you may want to reassess that page's design and alter it to ensure that your mobile users are getting the same great experience as your desktop visitors.

Need some help with your m-commerce efforts? The Designer Websites team are here to help! Here are some of the services we can provide:

by Joseph Valente, Managing Director of ImpraGas and BBC Apprentice winner 2015

 
Joseph Valente
I'm a big believer in doing things your own way. Here in the UK, you're told from a young age that there's a specific route you're meant to take through life: pass your GCSEs. do your A-levels, go to university and find a job once your degree's in the bag. But I didn't choose that path, and I doubt that my life would be as good as it is right now if I had. Things got off to a bumpy start when I was expelled from school at 15 years old, but this setback quickly turned into an opportunity when a local plumbing company allowed me to join their team. I agreed to work for free because I knew that the experience and the practical skills I stood to gain would be far more valuable than cash in the long run.
 
In 2006, I decided that I wanted to take the next step towards a career as a tradesperson and enrolled on a plumbing apprenticeship course at Peterborough College. After that, I trained in London and became a qualified gas engineer. In 2012 - by which time many of the people I had known in school were graduating from uni and taking their first uncertain steps into the world of work - I took out a £20,000 loan and started my own business, ImpraGas. At first it was just me and my van, but the company soon began to grow, and now I've got a whole team of gas engineers, a fully-staffed office, a fleet of vans, and Lord Sugar as my business partner.
 
Joseph Valente and Lord Sugar
 
The reason I mention all of this is to illustrate that there's always more than one way of doing things. Tradespeople should be more aware of this fact than anyone else: I've spoken to countless people within the plumbing and gas industries, and many of them have stories that are very similar to mine. Taking up a trade often goes hand-in-hand with choosing not to go to uni, and if you were to ask the average tradesman or woman, they'd probably tell you that at some point they made a conscious decision to reject the 'standard' path that goes school > university > job.
 
And yet, for a field that's all about doing things differently, the trade industry is in many aspects surprisingly set in its ways. Most of the tradespeople I meet rely mainly on word of mouth to find new work, and those that do bother to actively promote themselves tend to stick with old-school platforms like newspaper ads and the Yellow Pages. While there's nothing wrong with any of these tried and tested methods (word of mouth in particular will always be valuable in this industry), it seems to me that people are potentially missing out on a lot of lucrative work by ignoring the possibilities the Internet has to offer.
 
We recently relaunched the ImpraGas site with some help from the team at Designer Websites, and I have to say I learned quite a lot over the course of this project. Now that the new and improved version of www.impragas.co.uk is live and we're starting to reap the benefits of all the hard work that went into it, I'd like to share a few suggestions with my fellow tradesmen and women on how they can grow their businesses on the World Wide Web:

Have a website.

Okay, this probably seems blindingly obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many plumbing and heating companies don't even bother to tick this box. Your website should form the foundation of all your online marketing efforts, so make sure you've got one and make sure it represents your business in the best possible light. With more and more people browsing the Internet on smartphones nowadays, it's probably also a good idea to go for what's called a responsive website (a site with a flexible design that changes to fit the screen you're viewing it on).

Get on Google.

Instead of leafing through the Yellow Pages every time they need a plumber, most people these days just go to Google. If your website's done right and properly optimised, you'll hopefully get some referrals from Google anyway, but the most important thing for tradespeople is to get listed with Google My Business. There's no fee for this; all you have to do is fill in some basic details about your company - what you're called, where you're based, what area(s) you cover - and Google will start including you in its local results when somebody nearby searches for the service you provide. You know when you Google something and the first thing you see is a map with local businesses dotted around it? If you want your company to show up on that map, signing up with Google My Business will give you a much better chance of getting there.

Google Local Results

Sign up for social media.

There are a lot of people on sites like Facebook and Twitter. A lot of them are probably located near you, and some of them could one day be among your most loyal customers. Set up a Facebook business page and ask all your friends to 'Like' it, then create a Twitter account and get involved in the conversations that are local to you and/or relevant to your trade. Both Facebook and Twitter are free to use, so what have you got to lose?

Get people to link to your website.

There are two reasons to ask people to link to your site. The most obvious benefit of a link is that people might click it, take a look at your site, and perhaps end up giving you a call or sending the link to their friend who needs a new boiler. But links are also important in the eyes of Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. As far as they're concerned, when somebody links to your website they're basically giving you a seal of approval, and the more seals of approval you get, the more confidence Google and the others will have in your company and its website. This will mean that you're more likely to show up towards the top of Google's results pages. That being said, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links, and it's EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to make sure you're not getting links from websites that are spammy or low-quality as these can actually do more harm than good as far as your Google rankings are concerned. You ideally want links from popular, high-quality websites that are reasonably relevant to the field you're in.

Britain is still suffering from a skills shortage at the moment, so there's lots of work out there for skilled, qualified tradespeople like us. However, we as an industry need to realise that an overwhelming majority of people now use the Internet to find the right person for their job, and if we're not willing to embrace the online revolution and make an effort to be seen online then we'll quickly get overtaken by other tradespeople who are.
 
If you need a website designer or someone who can assist with your company's online marketing efforts, I'd strongly recommend that you contact the team at Designer Websites. They're friendly, they're professional, and they're exceptionally skilled at what they do - click here to request a quotation for your project.

BBC Apprentice Winners

ImpraGas website

If you watched the latest series of The BBC Apprentice last year, you'll probably remember Joseph Valente: he's the plumber from Peterborough who triumphed over dating expert Vana Koutsomitis in the final and won a £250,000 business investment from Lord Sugar.

Lord Sugar and Joseph Valente

Joseph's business - the one that benefited from Lord Sugar's £250k investment - is named ImpraGas, and we're pleased to report that the company's brand new website went live at the end of last week. ImpraGas offer an elite boiler installation service to customers right across the UK, and we believe that the website we have designed for them (www.impragas.co.uk) will help the business to scale new heights and reach countless new customers nationwide.

Among other useful features, the new and improved ImpraGas website boasts a sophisticated yet straightforward boiler quote builder that allows potential customers to get an accurate boiler quotation in minutes. This tool is incredibly easy to use - all you have to do is answer a few simple questions (e.g. 'How many bathrooms does your home have?' 'Whereabouts is your current boiler located?'), and you'll be presented with a quotation for your new boiler based on the information you've supplied. Easy!

Here's what Joseph Valente himself had to say about his company's new website:

"When I won The BBC Apprentice in late 2015, I knew that it was the beginning of a bright new chapter for my business. With this in mind, we decided that it was time to give the ImpraGas website a makeover; the old site had served us well, but it was clear that we'd have to up our game if we were going to achieve the results we wanted. I knew that Designer Websites had worked with a couple of BBC Apprentice winners in the past, and so they were an obvious first port of call for us – after one meeting, I was certain that DW were the company for me. Their previous work really impressed me, and it was great to meet people who knew how to be both professional and totally approachable.

"Collaborating with Designer Websites to create the new ImpraGas site has been a really great experience. They were always ready to listen to our ideas, and they paid close attention to all the feedback we gave them. One of my concerns going into this project was that our web designers would just churn out a site without really thinking about whether or not it suited the business, but I could tell very early on that Designer Websites weren't that sort of organisation – they really went above and beyond to ensure they understood what we were going for and how the online stuff would fit into our operation as a whole.

"Having seen the finished website, I have to say I'm over the moon with the job that DW have done. It's professional, it's modern, and I think our customers are going to find it a joy to use. I particularly like the boiler quotation system, which allows people to get an accurate quote for their new boiler by simply answering a few quick questions on the website. All in all, I'm completely satisfied with the new ImpraGas website and I'd be only too happy to recommend DW to any business looking to revamp their website."

- Joseph Valente, Managing Director of ImpraGas

Huge thanks to Joseph for such a glowing review. This is actually the third time we've developed a website for a BBC Apprentice winner - we also worked with science recruitment specialist Ricky Martin to create the Hyper Recruitment Solutions website, and with Dr Leah Totton to build a site for her cosmetic skin clinics. We're very proud of our track record, and we're pleased to say that both Ricky and Dr Leah were just as pleased with our work as Joseph!

If you'd like to us to design and develop a new website for your business, click here to request a quotation or give us a call on 01446 339050 today.
Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly know as Google Webmaster Tools) is an indispensable tool for site owners who wish to maximise their organic Google traffic. Search Console effectively allows you to view your site through the eyes of the search engine, so you can see which pages Google has indexed, which pages it thinks could be improved, and which potentially problematic errors it has spotted.

There are roughly two dozen different sections within Search Console, some of which deal with fairly complex stuff. For this reason, Search Console can be a little overwhelming when you see it for the first time, particularly if you don't know what phrases like 'structured data' and 'robots.txt' mean.

It's a good idea to learn about each section and check them all on a regular basis. However, if you're just starting out with Search Console and you only want to see the most important pieces of information for now, here are 5 key areas that you should be keeping a close eye on - we recommend checking each of these at least once a week to ensure that your website remains in tip-top condition.
Messages

1. Messages

If you only ever look at one part of your Search Console account, make sure it's the Messages window. If anything serious happens in any of the other sections - for example, if there's a sudden influx of crawl errors, or if Google's crawlers are unable to access your site - you'll get a message to notify you about the problem, and this is where you'll find it.

HTML Improvements

2. HTML Improvements

This part of the Console is all about your website's title tags and meta descriptions. Google will put a note in this section if it spots any of the following issues on your site:
  • A page's title tag is too long or too short.
  • A page's meta description is too long or too short.
  • A page doesn't have a title tag.
  • Multiple pages have the same title tag and/or meta description (duplication).
  • A page has a title tag that Google considers 'non-informative'.
  • Google finds some content on your site that it cannot index.
It's a good idea to stay on top of these issues and fix them as soon as they arise (this is usually a question of simply rewriting the title tag or meta description in question). Good-quality title tags and meta descriptions will benefit you in two ways: firstly, they will encourage people to click on your site when it appears in Google's search results, and secondly, they will help Google itself to identify which term(s) it should list your site for.

Mobile Usability

3. Mobile Usability

More and more people are using mobile devices to browse the Internet these days, so it's important to make sure that your site is providing a good experience for mobile and tablet users as well as for PC owners. In the Mobile Usability section of your Search Console, Google will flag up any issues that might affect your site's performance on smaller screens (if you have a responsive website design, this section should be clear at all times).

Index Status

4. Index Status

How many of your website's pages does Google actually have indexed? To discover the answer to this question, simply head to the Index Status section of your Search Console. You'll be presented with a number (e.g. Total indexed: 100), along with a line graph showing how your site's index status has fluctuated over the past 12 months.

Index Status Graph

If this graph shows a sharp drop, you may need to do some further investigation to find out why. If you've recently removed a lot of pages from your site, then the drop may not be a problem - it could simply mean that Google is no longer indexing all those old URLs that no longer exist. Conversely, it may be that Google has de-indexed large swathes of your site because it decided that a lot of your pages were too similar to one another, in which case you'll need to do some work on your site copy in order to get everything indexed again!

Crawl Errors

5. Crawl Errors

When Googlebot attempts to crawl one of your pages and something goes wrong, this is where you'll be told about it. Search Console's Crawl Errors section lists:
  • 'Not found' URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that go to 404 error pages)
  • 'Server error' URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that trigger a server error)
  • Blocked URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that Googlebot is blocked from accessing)
  • 'Soft' 404 errors (i.e. URLs that don't exist, but don't return a 404 error for some reason)
When an old URL shows up in the Crawl Errors section, it often means that there's still a link to it somewhere, even though the page itself has been taken down. You may also see misspelled URLs here if somebody typed your page's URL wrong when they linked to you. This is another section that it's really important to check frequently, especially if you have a large ecommerce website with a large, ever-changing range of products on it - errors can pile up very quickly on sites like these, fast becoming totally unmanageable!

Sitemaps

6. Sitemaps

Once of the first things you should do upon logging into Search Console for the first time is head to the Sitemaps tab and submit the URL of your website's sitemap file (e.g. www.example.com/sitemap.xml) to Google. This will help the big G to index all of your pages a little faster. You should also update and resubmit your sitemap file every time you add or remove pages on your website - resubmitting in these cases is a good way of notifying Google that there's something new to see, or that some of the pages they've currently got indexed are no longer in use.

Google may occasionally spot an error in your sitemap file, and if this happens they will notify you in the Sitemaps section. Sitemap errors most commonly occur when you delete a page but forget to remove its URL from your sitemap file. Errors can usually be fixed by simply regenerating the sitemap file and resubmitting it in Search Console.

Need help looking after your website? Struggling to figure out why you're not showing up in Google results? Our search engine optimisation experts can help - get in touch today!

All roads lead to mobile search - that's certainly been the story for some time in the world of SEO, but it looks like Google could be taking this one step further. 

Speaking at SMX, Google's Gary Illyes announced that they were still working on a mobile-only search index, which could mean big changes in the world of SEO if and when the project develops. As things currently stand, there is little difference between the ranking signals used for desktop and mobile searches, which means that there isn't a huge disparity between the search results for desktop and mobile.

To test the validity of this claim, we used Rank Tracker to assess the desktop and mobile search rankings some terms associated with one of our client's sites. We ran searches on 56 terms in total, and found that only 5 of those showed up in the same position on both desktop and mobile. While this would suggest that there is, in fact, already a notable difference in how pages rank for terms on both devices, the lack of diversity in these results helped to support the original claim that mobile and desktop results are not very different at all.

On average, there was only a difference of around 3.5 positions between searches conducted on either device, which proves that while mobile and desktop results are rarely identical, there is also very little chance of them being completely different either. It would be interesting to witness how much a separate index would alter these results, but there's also no denying that it would also be a somewhat daunting prospect from an SEO perspective, if webmasters are attempting to compete in a completely separate set of search results simultaneously. 

Of course, we've experienced a similar set of speculations and worries in the lead up to last year's 'Mobbliegeddon', AKA Google's mobile friendly update, which while having some impact, was vastly over-estimated in its ability to alter search results. Despite this, it's clear that if a mobile-only index does become a reality in the next few years, it would almost certainly be capable of altering results far more dramatically than any current or future mobile updates.  We're all aware of the fact that mobile search has officially overtaken desktop, and a mobile-only index could be Google's first move towards officially cementing itself as a 'mobile first' service.

Currently, it is almost impossible to assess  how this will alter how we implement SEO and adapt websites for mobile, due to the fact that we have no idea how different the ranking signals used for this separate index will be. We also have no idea of how this new index will be set up in analytics and webmasters, and whether or not it will be integrated into the current system, or be kept as a completely new and independent set-up. What we can be sure of, however, is the fact that having a mobile-friendly online presence is becoming increasingly important for businesses and organisations, regardless of how much time and effort they currently spend on SEO.

If Google is planning to prioritise mobile search, this could not only impact the existing requirement to provide a positive user experience on mobile websites, but could spark the need to develop completely new online marketing strategies, which are focused solely on mobile audiences. It may no longer be a case of providing an equally useful and positive result across platforms, but could mean that marketing and SEO for mobile becomes entirely its own territory. 

If you'd like to improve your website's performance on mobile devices, or if you require a tailored SEO strategy to help you succeed in the search results, Designer Websites are here to help. Whether you're looking for a professionally designed responsive website, online marketing expertise, or both, get in touch with our team today, either by calling on 01446 339050 or by requesting a free quote.
Does the Fold Still Matter?

The last few years have seen some major changes in the way people consume information online. Most notably, mobile devices are now the most popular means of browsing the Internet, and that's a fact that web designers cannot afford to ignore: if your client's customers would rather shop on their smartphones than on desktop PCs, then you're making a huge mistake by designing primarily for full-size screens.

One big debate that's popped up as a result of the mobile revolution concerns the fold and whether it's still a useful concept for web designers to bear in mind. Today, we're going to take a closer look at this issue and find out if the fold still matters in a world where most people view the internet on mobile devices.

What is the fold?

When you first arrive on a webpage, the fold is the line that separates the stuff you see right away from the stuff you don't see until you scroll down. If content is 'above the fold', it's visible from the moment the page loads; content that's 'below the fold' is not visible until you scroll further down the page.

How do we know where the fold is?

Back when desktop PCs were the only option for people who wanted to surf the web, it was fairly easy to identify whether a given piece of content would be above or below the fold, because you could assume that your website would look more or less the same on every monitor. It's trickier nowadays because internet-capable devices come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes: content that's above the fold on a laptop may be way, way below the fold on a smartphone or tablet.

Unfortunately, it's not even as simple as a desktop/tablet/mobile trichotomy, because different phones and tablets often have vastly different screen sizes (for example, the fold is unlikely to be located in exactly the same place on both an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy). Shrewd use of responsive web design techniques will ensure that your website looks good and functions well on every device, but this doesn't change the fact that parts of your homepage will be above the fold on some screens and below it on others.

But is this a problem? That's the question we're really here to answer today: should you be worried when a critical piece of content falls below the fold, or has the entire concept of the fold become outdated and irrelevant?

Here's why the fold isn't as important as it used to be

The argument against the fold having any bearing on modern web design hinges primarily on the idea that present-day web users are happy to scroll down in order to find what they're looking for. And when you think about this, it makes sense: smartphone screens are relatively small, and it's rare to see a webpage that fits the entirety of its content into that limited space. When you read a news article on your phone, for example, you often can't see anything beyond the headline until you scroll down a little:

Not shown: 900+ words about Donald Trump and 'battleground states'

As we mentioned earlier, the majority of Internet use now takes place on mobile devices, and as a result, there's really no reason to be afraid of forcing your users to scroll down any more. Unlike the PC owners of yore who didn't even have mouse wheels, mobile users generally don't mind scrolling to reach the meat of your webpage; in fact, their daily online experiences have arguably conditioned them to expect it. Whether you're scrolling through your Twitter feed, a Spotify playlist, or a list of products on an ecommerce website, it's plain to see that scrolling, not clicking, has become our primary method for interacting with the Internet. Heck, you've probably seen at least one website that consists of just one page and is navigated simply by scrolling through the entire thing.

(If you haven't come across a website like that before, www.tacklestore.net is a good example - note that clicking an option in the header menu simply causes your browser to auto-scroll straight down to the relevant portion of the page.)

So, given that your customers' thumbs will be poised to start scrolling as soon as your website loads, there's no need to worry about the fold at all, right? Even if your Enquire Now > button is buried all the way down at the very bottom of the page, all those hours spent flicking through Facebook posts have left people perfectly content to scroll more or less infinitely, yes?

Well...not necessarily.

Here's why 'above the fold' still matters

While the fold is no longer a Bermuda Triangle-esque vanishing point for user engagement, it's still important to think hard about what's at the very top of your webpage. It's true that most users in this day and age don't mind a spot of scrolling, but you have to give them a reason to scroll or they'll just go away and visit somebody else's site instead. And when Google spots that its users are consistently leaving your website almost as soon as they've arrived, your rankings will disappear faster than the last bacon-wrapped sausage on Christmas Day.

The key here is to think about your website from the perspective of a hypothetical user. Look at your page on a variety of different devices (desktop, mobile and tablet) and ask yourself these two questions:
  • Is this what the user will be expecting to see? If your website sells laptops, and you're primarily targeting people who want to buy laptops, then the topmost thing on your homepage should NOT be a blog post about how to use Google Docs. It may be a brilliant, insightful read, and it may even be of interest to some of your customers, but the main reason they're on your website is to shop for laptops. Your above-the-fold content should first and foremost aim to welcome users to the page and confirm that they're in the right place.

  • Are we giving the user a reason to take further action? Reassuring the user that, yes, your website is the one for them is half the battle. The next thing you have to do is encourage them to take action. That doesn't have to mean buying something or telephoning your sales team, at least not right away. But while it's no longer necessary to place your main call-to-action at the top of your page, you at least need to entice the user to go further with their investigation. The first thing users see on your site should be something that makes them want to read more, or click through to view some examples of your work, or follow you on Twitter because you're clearly the greatest wit of your generation. Be sure to bear this in mind when you're thinking about your above-the-fold content.

Examples

Here are a couple of websites that, in our opinion, have managed to get their above-the-fold content just right:


Access Training Academies

This company delivers accredited trade training courses across the UK.
  • Is this what the user will be expecting to see? Yes - the heading immediately confirms the company's name and gives a rough summary of what they do ("Electrician Courses, Plumbing Courses & More"). Whether the user was specifically looking for Access Training Academies or simply researching potential training providers, the above-the-fold content makes it clear from the off that this site has what they're after.

  • Does this give the user a reason to take further action? Again, yes - the 'Course Finder' tool makes it easy for budding tradespeople to find the area they're interested in and skip straight to the relevant course(s). The telephone icon that appears in the top-right corner of the page when it's viewed on a mobile device also makes it apparent that customers can contact the company directly if they require any assistance.

Floormaker

This is an ecommerce website with a wide variety of flooring products on offer.
  • Is this what the user will be expecting to see? Almost certainly - there's confirmation that Floormaker is a "flooring supplier" directly under the company's logo, and references to the likes of laminate and solid wood flooring give customers further reassurance that this website is likely to feature the type of product they're after.

  • Does this give the user a reason to take further action? Yes. Visitors to the Floormaker website are presented with several options right off the bat: browse the laminate or solid wood ranges, use the search bar to find something specific, or use the live chat software to speak with someone who knows what they're talking about. Note also the icons underneath the search bar (free samples, free delivery, 5 star reviews, etc.), which offer the user some very good reasons to stick with Floormaker and investigate the company's website further.
If you'd like a business website that's designed by professionals with a firm grasp of all the latest web design techniques, please call Designer Websites on 01446 339050 or click here to request a quotation.
PalleTrucks-Trolleys
 
PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com is a brand new ecommerce website that sells a wide range of materials handling products, including site trolleys, pallet trucks, material lifts and more. The site was designed and developed by the Designer Websites team, and it went live yesterday - please click here to view it.
 
This project came about because one of our existing clients (a company that offers a huge variety of different products, including heavy lifting equipment, height safety gear and PPE) wanted a separate website that specifically centred on their range of materials handling equipment. The primary purpose of this new website would be to target a broad array of search terms related to pallet trucks, site trolleys, and so forth; while these product ranges are represented on the company's main website, we agreed that a new site with a more concentrated keyword focus would have a much better chance of conquering Google's SERPs.
 
Our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts performed extensive keyword research to ensure that every page of the PalleTrucks-Trolleys website was targeting the best possible search terms in the proper manner. PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com is a responsive website, meaning that it looks great and functions smoothly on screens of all sizes; this is another important consideration when it comes to search engine optimisation!
 
Visit PalleTrucks-Trolleys.com to see the results of our hard work, or click here to request a quotation for your own ecommerce website.
Infusionsoft integration

A few years ago, we were asked the following question:

"Hey, can you guys integrate Infusionsoft into my website?"

Our answer was "Yes, of course we can!" We at Designer Websites are experts when it comes to API integrations, and we had the initial integration - which used the standard Infusionsoft API - working in no time.

However, we did notice that there were certain drawbacks to using Infusionsoft's standard API functions. The biggest disadvantage? The integration of the enquiries/sales forms were slowing down the site dramatically, and this affected page speed (a critical SEO factor) as well as the overall user experience.

To overcome this problem, we developed a custom integration solution the provided full Infusionsoft integration as required without having a detrimental effect on site speed or usability.

Over the years, we've integrated Infusionsoft forms into websites for a number of clients, and we would thoroughly recommend using a custom integration for this if your are focused on delivering a responsive service to customers who use your website.

If you'd like to speak to the Designer Websites team about a custom Infusionsoft integration, please get in touch today.
Qinec integration

Qinec
 is a comprehensive healthcare management solution that's utilised by many of our clinic- and surgery-based clients. These clients asked us to develop a full integration of the Qinec functionality into their websites, which we were happy to provide. The integrations we developed were unique to each client, but fundamentally, the system enables patients to:
  • Register with the clinic/surgery
  • Book appointments
  • Pay for appointments and products
  • Book specific rooms and/or doctors
These are real-time integrations, so there is no need to worry about double booking or over-selling.

There's no getting away from the fact that the integration of Qinec is quite a complex task - it is a very comprehensive solution in itself.  However, having integrated the solution several times for a number of different clients, we at Designer Websites are extremely adept at Qinec integration. Our API integration experts are capable of integrating Qinec in many different ways to suit each client's specific requirements, so if you are looking to get Qinec integrated within your website then please feel free to get in touch for a free consultation.
No Comply Brands

Do you consider yourself a drinks connoisseur? If so, you may well want to take a look at our latest website!

No Comply Brands are a branded drinks agency who work with small, independent drinks businesses and help them to get their products to a wider audience. Their partners include Two Birds, who craft a variety of English countryside spirits, and Original, who make tonic water that's infused with the tastes of the Mediterranean.

Two Birds Spirits & Original Tonic Water

No Comply asked us to create a dynamic, modern-looking website that would show off these brands in the best way imaginable. We worked closely with them to ensure that the new site met their expectations, and we're pleased to announce that www.nocomplybrands.co.uk went live yesterday. The website includes:

Responsive Design 
No Comply wanted their new site to look just as good on smartphones and tablets as on desktop PCs. With this in mind, our web designers created a sleek, responsive website that adapts to the screen on which it's viewed.

Serving Suggestions
The beverages sold by No Comply's partners are perfect for cocktails, and so the company asked us to build a blog engine into their website to allow them to upload cocktail recipes and share them with followers on social media.
Cocktail recipes
Contact Form
The No Comply website makes it easy for interested parties to get in touch with the company, either via the online enquiry form or via the company's various social media accounts.

Would you like us to create a responsive website for your business? Get in touch now to request a quotation.

My-iClinic specialise in modern eye treatments. Offering their patients a range of services from cataract treatment through to macular degeneration treatment, they have a modern eye clinic based in North Finchley, London.

My-iClinic wanted a website that reflected the clinical side of their business, but also elaborated on the modern style of the business. Our team here at designer websites have a wealth of experience creating websites for doctors, clinics, physicians, naturally they chose us to build their modern website.

This was an incredibly exciting project for Designer Websites, as their new website required many different elements.  First and foremost we have incorporated the ability for them to have a live stream from their clinic, so patients can see what their operation entails, and what it will achieve.  My-iClinic host regular CET meetings at their clinic, so they required a bespoke booking system to make booking on to these meetings as easy as possible. My-iClinic also needed to have a portal in which opticians could log in and make client referrals to their clinic.  

As always we rose to the challenge and we recently put this mammoth site live, and it is just as good as we expected. We have created a sleek, modern website that looks great on bot desktop and mobile devices, and because the website is aimed at people with eye problems, we have used a clear font so the text is easy to read.

Visit http://www.my-iclinic.co.uk/ to view their new and improved website.

If you feel like your website needs a revamp, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Mobile Ad Optimisation

Did you know that 70% of mobile searches lead to that person taking action within an hour?

That action could be a customer calling through to your customer service team, making an online enquiry, visiting your bricks-and-mortar shop, relocating to a desktop PC to finish their transaction, or - if the procedure is simple enough - making a purchase, signing up to your newsletter, or downloading your ebook right there and then.

We Are Social conduct a study into the digital landscape every year. This year's study shows that the percentage of total page views that take place on mobile phones is increasing year on year:

Mobile Study

This is why devising a mobile strategy for your paid search adverts is more important now than it has ever been before.

The landline is a thing of the past. Mobile devices now dominate the communication world, and we're not just talking about making phone calls and texting - we're talking about social media, emails, free messaging services, and much more besides. But young people today aren't just communicating with friends and family members via their mobiles; they're also communicating with businesses like yours. Perhaps they're conducting a search to find out where your shop is, maybe they're passing time on their daily commute with a spot of online shopping. Whatever they are looking for, it's important that you and your business are visible in the right places at the right times.

It is no secret that people - including your customers - are conducting more and more searches using portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. We have been told this on a daily basis by Google, other search engines, and SEM influencers since the age of the smartphone began.

Google reportedly processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day. Last year, the search giant announced that over half of those searches happen on a mobile device. This is just one example of why mobile marketing is a must for any modern business.

How can Designer Websites help with your mobile ad campaigns?

Here at Designer Websites, we have a team of experience PPC specialists who can help your business to get the best possible return from Google AdWords and other pay per click platforms. Before we optimise your paid search campaigns for mobile devices, we will develop a detailed, mobile-specific strategy that's tailored to your business and the market you operate within. This strategy will take the following factors into consideration:
  • How your customers are searching on mobile devices
  • What their situation and intentions are in that moment
  • What type of marketing message they are most likely to respond to

Getting results for your business

Below is a graph showing one clients' conversion performance after we implemented a mobile-specific advertising strategy for them:

Mobile conversion increase

We can clearly see that, while this company's mobile conversions were always higher than tablet and desktop conversions, their mobile conversions grew significantly after we implemented a comprehensive mobile strategy. Furthermore, this business's mobile conversions are continuing to grow even now, with each month surpassing the previous month's total.

So how can you reap the benefits of mobile marketing using paid search? Here are four tips from the mobile search experts here at Designer Websites:

1. Create mobile-specific adverts

The adverts that you see when browsing the internet on your phone are formatted differently to the adverts you see on your desktop PC. In order to ensure that your adverts look great on the small screen, it is vital to create adverts that are formatted correctly.

Creating mobile-specific adverts not only helps with the formatting of the advert, it also helps with the performance of the adverts as a whole. Generally, mobile-specific adverts have a higher click-through rate (CTR) and a higher conversion rate than non-mobile-specific adverts shown in a mobile search.

2. Create relatable ad copy

Creating ad copy that is relevant to your customer's current situation is key.  Consider this example:

A potential customer is enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake whilst out shopping. She suddenly remembers that she wanted to find some luxury curtains for the living room, and so she reaches into her bag, pulls out her mobile, and types (or speaks) 'luxury curtains Cardiff' into her Google app.

As luck would have it, you run a fabric store just around the corner from that tea shop. However, since your ad copy doesn't state your location or feature a call to action such as "Come visit our Cardiff store", it is likely that this particular lady will just scroll past your advert.

The same goes for online stores: you cannot guide customers to your shop because you don’t have one, but you can point out to them just how easy it is to buy from your site using their mobile phone. Possible calls to action could include "Buy direct from your mobile" or "Easy purchase from your mobile device". 

People will be able to relate to these adverts because they are addressing their situation at that time. This leads to a higher click through rate and a higher conversion rate.

Mobile CTR increase

In the graph above, we can see that - after implementing more relevant ad copy - this client saw an increase of nearly 3% in their mobile CTR.

3. Create mobile ad extensions

Mobile ad extensions are exactly the same as desktop ad extensions, but they conform to mobile formatting, making them better-looking and easier on the eye. They also provide customers with vital information when they search for your product or service using a mobile device.

It is said that roughly 1 in 3 searches are conducted because the user wants local information. It is vital that you provide this information to them, and this is why location extensions are a must. Not only do location extensions provide users with the ability to search for your business on Google Maps and use a sat nav to find your location, they also provide additional info such as opening times.

Call extensions are another must-have for any mobile advert. The call extension gives searchers the ability to call your store or your customer service desk directly from the search results page.

4. Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly

We're always amazed by the number of mobile adverts we encounter that don't direct users through to a mobile-optimised website. We're always saying that it's crucial in this day and age to have a responsive website, and that truth is getting harder and harder to ignore as mobile users increase.

If your mobile ads are to be successful, your business will need to provide a website experience that is fully optimised for mobile users. The key to mobile advertising success is to make the whole experience as seamless as possible, and this means that your website has to render quickly and correctly on every mobile device.

Not sure if your website and its paid search campaign are optimised for mobile users? Contact us for advice, or follow us on Twitter for more SEM and web design news!