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.
Printmet Website

Printmet Ltd is a metal fabrication and engineering company that's based right here in South Wales. We're big fans of theirs since they fabricated and installed the large curved sign that now sits outside our building and advertises our services to passers-by.


The Printmet team recently asked us to create (or fabricate, if you will) a brand new website to promote the company's specialist services online. They needed a site with:
  • A responsive design
  • An appealing, professional look
  • Great SEO
  • Superb usability
  • An easy way for potential customers to get in touch
Our hard-working designers, developers and SEO specialists took all of the above into consideration, and the result is www.printmet.co.uk, Printmet Ltd's brand new home on the web. This mobile-friendly brochure website features information about the services that Printmet offer, along with images of the work they've completed for clients in the recent past.

The guys at Printmet are remarkably talented - remember, we've seen the fruits of their labour first-hand - so if you're looking for a skilled team of metalwork specialists, we strongly recommend that you visit their new website and request a quote today.

At the INBOUND marketing conference 2016, Rand Fishkin of Moz, delivered an insightful speech about how we as SEOs, can keep up with the ever-changing demands of Google. While it may be impossible to truly understand the inner workings of the search giant, the data included in this presentation provides a useful insight into how Google itself, along with user demand, is influencing the way in which marketers can make the SERPs work for them.

Here are a few key points to take a closer look at:

1.) Ten Blue Links are now the ‘Endangered Species’ of the SERPs

This is far from big news to us, but the figures go to show how hard it is for marketers and users alike, to discover a results page that’s free-from Google products and promotions.  In fact, MozCast put the figures for result pages like these at only 3% (excluding obscure, long tail queries), making them a highly rare opportunity for SEO professionals.

While this does make life harder when it comes to the vast majority of queries, for those who are able to identify these terms, they provide valuable spaces for targeting untapped sources of potential traffic. 

2.) Google is Cutting Your Clicks 

Data showed that a whopping 40% of searches don’t result in a click, which is naturally due to the fact that Google answers many of our questions, without the need to click through to a page for more information. In addition, Google’s own properties take up 49% of clicks, in the form of Youtube videos, Maps, Ads and more. 

3.) Your Traffic Sources Should be Diverse

Chrome allows Google to keep track of how traffic flows, so if your site earns the majority of its traffic from Google, they may begin to question and scrutinise your model more closely. For this reason, it is absolutely vital that your site earns its traffic from a diverse range of sources, in order to avoid becoming completely reliant on Google ranking. 

4.) Social Remains a Small Factor When it Comes to Driving Traffic

Data from Similar Web showed that direct traffic remains the biggest source of online traffic at 43%, followed by search at 27.79%, and referrals as 21.13%.

Perhaps the biggest shock in these results, is that social media remains such a small influence on website traffic, accounting for a mere 5.81%.  This goes to show that while they may have an ever-growing influence on our online habits, their influence in driving visitors to your website is still minute in comparison to search.

5.) Target Alternative Search Engines

While the presentation was primarily geared towards strategizing for Google itself, Fishkin made a point of highlighting the importance of targeting alternative search platforms in your SEO strategy. This included the likes of Youtube, which while being owned by Google, is a recognized platform in its own right, and is the second largest search engine after its parent site. Fishkin was also right to mention Amazon as an incredibly underrated search engine, with a large portion of ecommerce related searches taking place here, and not on Google.

For marketers, the ability to target a variety of platforms can be a great way to enhance the diversity we already discussed in point 3, and will also help you to compete and differentiate yourself from your competitors. In the presentation, Fishkin discusses the use of search tools to investigate current traffic sources for you competitors, but it can also be highly valuable to lead the way, by targeting a platform that isn’t already populated with competitor sites. 

6.) Answer Boxes Can Make or Break Traffic 

Single column formats that mimic mobile results are becoming more and more common, particularly in relation to questions and area-focused queries. This means that the vast majority of organic results will fall below this, making these key areas to target and work with going forward.

The important thing to remember, is that while these results can provide a much needed boost to your traffic, allowing you to outrank competitors by appearing at the top of the page, they can also prove to be incredibly damaging in some cases. Pages pulled into carousel results, for example, have lost upward of 50% of their traffic due to these changes, which would prove to be a huge blow to any previously ranking site.

7.) Keywords: If you Wouldn’t Target it in Paid Search, Don’t target it in SEO

Fishkin highlights the rarity of SERPSs that aren’t dominated by Google at the very beginning of his presentation, however, he goes on to demonstrate how profitable these results can be in terms of generating a good click through rate for pages that appear here. The analogy used in the presentation is simple:

Why pay X amount for two ads, knowing that one is getting half the clicks of the other?

This means that relative click through rates should be a far bigger focus point when performing keyword research for SEO purposes, in order to identify the potential not only to appear, but to be clicked. 

8.) Keyword Matching is not Enough!

While keyword targeting is far from being irrelevant, it is no longer a competitive advantage when it comes to ranking for your chosen search term. The growing sophistication of Google’s ability to analyse and interpret content (as well as its desire to satisfy searcher intent), means that content comprehensiveness and quality are now a vital part of modern SEO. This means that while intelligent keyword targeting remains important to ranking ability and click through rate, marketers also need to consider how they can exceed the value being offered in existing search results, by creating a page that considers all possible aspects of the target searcher’s intent.

9.) When it Comes to Link-Building, Prepare for Short-Term Failure 

According to Fishkin, modern link building should combine the best of new (contend-led) and old (short-term hacks) link-building practices, in order to provide a strategy that delivers long-term results. It should also be noted, that quality link building is often a time-consuming practice with very few ‘quick-fix’ results, which means that there is often a long period of disappointment before positive outcomes are noted. When positive results do come in, however, they tend to work in a ‘flywheel’ fashion, leading to better positions and increased opportunities in the future.

10.) Machine Learning is Growing, so Keep Your Users Engaged 

Engagement data is playing an increasingly important role in how content is ranked, as Google’s algorithm experiments with results to understand which pages satisfy, or fall short of the searcher’s intent and expectations. This means that engagement is likely to become even more important to marketers going forward, which means delivering a great user experience in terms of both technical functionality, and content quality. 

Watch the full presentation below:


Are you looking for help with your SEO strategy? Our team can provide strategic analysis and high-quality content to help you achieve search engine success. Read more about the services we provide here, or get in touch today!
How to List Your Local Business on Google
 
Over the last few years, Google has been getting better and better at serving up local search results based on the searcher's current location. If you're out for walk and you fancy a bite to eat, technology has now advanced to the point where you can simply whip out your smartphone, type in 'where to have lunch', and instantly receive a list of cafés and restaurants that are within walking distance of wherever you happen to be standing. Google can even show you an aggregated star rating for each establishment and - in their new feature - warn you if your chosen eatery is currently super-busy.
 
These capabilities are great for users, and they can actually be a huge boon for businesses too. If you're one of the establishments that comes up in the so-called 'local pack' when someone performs a search near you - and you've got a good rating, and your place isn't too packed right now - there's a good chance that Google may end up driving a lot more people to your doorstep.
 
Local Business Listing Map Pack
 

What type of local businesses can you list on Google?

Just to be clear, you don't have to serve food to benefit from this phenomenon; Google seems to be showing localised results for more and more searches every day, meaning that just about any 'local' business can have a presence in the local pack. Here are some examples of searches that now serve map results on Google:
  • I need a plumber
  • rock climbing
  • professional graphic designers
  • shoe repairs near me
  • aromatherapist
  • art gallery
And that's just scratching the surface. Suffice it to say that any business or establishment with any sort of localised presence can potentially appear in that local pack.

How can I appear in local search results?

If you want to show up in local Google results then there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of making the map pack. Here's a beginner's guide to local search success:

1. Add your business using Google My Business.

If you only bother with one of the points on this list today, make sure it's this one. A google my business listing is perhaps the most important part of getting your local business listed on Google. Go to google.co.uk/business and click 'Start Now' (you'll need to sign into your Google account, or create one if you're not already registered).
 
Next, you'll be prompted to enter your company's address, and then you'll have to 'verify' your business in order to manage its Google listing. Usually, Google will send a postcard to your business address with a PIN that you'll have to enter online, although if Google already has a number for your business you may be able to get verified over the phone instead. This process is in place to ensure that a) you are a genuine representative of the company you're trying to claim, and b) the business really is based where you claim it's located.
 
Once you've claimed and verified your business, you'll be able to edit your contact details, upload photos of your business, and add extra information like your opening hours, your website URL, a short description of the service you provide, and so forth. This information is held by Google themselves, and it helps them to work out what sort of searches your company should be showing up for (and in which locations). It is possible to show up in local results without setting up a Google My Business listing, but the odds of this happening will be a lot longer and there's a chance that Google may get some of your details wrong (since the search engine will be trying to piece together a profile of your business from whatever information it can find on the Internet).

2. Make sure your contact details are consistent throughout the web.

It's very important to ensure that your company's contact details - especially the address, telephone number, email address, and company name - are exactly the same wherever they're listed. In other words:
  • Make sure the information on your website matches the information you've submitted via Google My Business (see point 1, above).

  • Check any other online listings you have (e.g. Yell.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor) and make sure they match the details on your website as well.

  • If your company details change in the future (e.g. because you moved to a new building or set up a new phone number), be sure to update EVERY instance of the old details across the Internet.
Why is this important? Because Google can see every web page that features a mention of your business, and if every listing says something different, Google will be unable to confidently guess which set of details is correct and they won't list you in local search results in case they've got the wrong address.

3. Encourage people to review you on Google.

One great way to give your business an edge in the local Google results is to collect positive reviews and ratings on your Google listing. Ask your loyal customers to Google your company's name, click the 'Write a review' button, and share their fondness for your establishment with the world!
 
Not only do positive reviews encourage potential customers to visit your business instead of somebody else's, they also persuade Google that your company deserves to appear prominently in local search results. At the end of the day, Google's #1 goal is to satisfy its users, and when the search engine algorithm spots that you have lots of 5-star ratings from satisfied shoppers, it will think, 'Hey, this looks like a company that can really make our searchers happy!'

4. Get some links from high-quality websites with local relevance.

Links are still an important ranking factor for Google's algorithm. If lots of authoritative, well-respected websites link to your pages, that signifies to search engines that your own website is of a very high quality, and your search rankings should improve as a result. This applies to local rankings, too - you are more likely to rank highly for localised queries if your website has a lot of links from other sites that are:
  • Authoritative (use moz.com/researchtools/ose to check a site's domain authority - try to get links from sites with a higher score than your own)

  • Relevant to your business (e.g. if you own a pet grooming business, a link from a local pet shop or veterinary clinic would be more valuable to you than a link from a local sports club)

  • Associated with the same local area as you (if you're trying to influence your local rankings, you ideally need links from influential people and organisations within the area you're targeting)

  • Not spammy (steer clear of any websites that sell links, link to porn and/or gambling websites, or engage in other shady practices like hiding text)
Building high-quality links is a tricky and time-consuming task; as a local business owner, your best bet is probably to network with other local businesses, particularly those who operate within the same niche as you but aren't your direct competitors. Once you have built up a good relationship with another business in your area, they will be more likely to consider placing a link on their website.
 
Coverage from respectable local news sources will also be hugely beneficial to your business, particularly if the articles they publish include links to your website.

5. Be seen on Facebook, Yelp, etc.

Google sends a lot of traffic to local businesses, but it's not necessarily the only place you want your brand to be seen online. As a general rule, if you're a local business that's open to the public, it's a good idea to set up the following in addition to your Google listing:
You may also wish to encourage customers to review your business on TripAdvisor if you want to promote yourself to tourists who visit your town. Businesses that may benefit from being seen on TripAdvisor include hotels, restaurants, cafés, attractions and landmarks.
 
Being seen in the places listed above (and collecting positive reviews from people who use these sites) will increase your overall online visibility while also sending yet more signals to Google that yours is a local business worth shouting about.
 
If you want to grow your business online, Designer Websites can help. We can design your website, help you to take orders online, and optimise your pages for search engine success. If you want, we'll even take care of your company blog and social media accounts!

Christmas is often a highly stressful time for businesses and customers alike, which makes it an ideal opportunity to earn year-round loyalty, by going the extra mile for clients and consumers during the festive period. Whether you’re a retailer or B2B service provider, we’ve put together a few tips to keep in mind before and during the Christmas holidays, which point out ways in which you can use your marketing channels to be a helpful business this year:

Christmas Gift Guides & Quizzes

Gifts are one of the biggest Christmas dilemmas for most, which means that it's highly likely that many of your existing and potential customers will be actively looking for this type of content. This can be provided in the form of blogs, infographics, quizzes and more, depending on your resources and how creative you'd like to be. Gift related content can work well for many types of businesses, but of course, is particularly effective for retailers who are looking to market a specific range of products. It can also see you through to the very end of the buying period, if you're able to target last-minute shoppers who are frantically looking to find a suitable gift.

Advice-led Content

Along with gift guides, there are many other ways that you can tailor your content and services to suit the festive season, whatever your business may be. To do this, you’ll have to consider how the Christmas period affects both your organisation and your customers, in order to create resources that are both useful and engaging. For example, if your business provides financial services, it may be useful to publish advice on topics such as spending and budgeting, which is a prominent issue for many during this time of year. This content can be tailored to suit virtually any sector, and will depend on both the services you provide, along with your target demographic. When properly executed, it can provide a welcome boost to your SEO efforts, and work to improve or renew customer confidence in your product/services.

Social Media Engagement

It's common knowledge that you should be using social media to extend your marketing efforts and customer service all year round, however, these efforts should be reassessed in time for Christmas. This relates to both your own outreach endeavours, as well as customer contact, both of which carry additional weight in the case of online retailers. In terms of outreach marketing and promotion, you should be on the lookout for relevant hashtags and commonly asked questions, in order to make the most of the useful resources that you’ve spent time putting together. You should also be keeping a close eye on your inbox and brand mentions, in order to address customer queries and complaints as quickly as possible. 

Email Updates

Email marketing is particularly important for retail businesses in the run up to Christmas, naturally in order to promote deals, but also as a direct means of sharing the resources we mentioned in our first point. In addition to it's value as a promotional tool, however, email is also vital to the process of aiding and informing your customers, allowing them to plan their holiday spending and activities efficiently. For example, email allows you to provide customers with stock updates, which inform them when an item is close to selling out, or is back in stock, allowing them to plan their purchases more efficiently. In addition to this, it's also the most direct way to share information about your closing times and altered Christmas hours,  to ensure that you make every effort to avoid confusion. 

Rewards

Christmas rewards are the most simple but effective way to make your customers feel appreciated at Christmas, and can be executed on almost any scale, depending on your resources and budget. One of the most simple way to reward customers is by providing free resources, much like those discussed in our first and second points, although this can also be extend further than tips and guides. One example, could be free printables, which can be offered as a one-off resource, or even as a daily offering in the run up to Christmas. This would work particularly well for businesses in the creative industries, as well as those targeted at families with children, who may offer craft and learning resources to keep little ones entertained in the lead up to the big day.

This also extends to gift vouchers and competitions, which can be integrated with both your social media and email marketing campaigns. The channel you choose, will largely depend on how exclusive you would like your reward to be, and whether you are simply using this as a gesture to all existing and prospective customers, or as a way to reward your most loyal followers. 

Would you like help with your content creation, social media or email marketing strategies? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today to find out how we can help, or follow us on Twitter for more digital marketing news and tips!

If you're having trouble generating relevant site traffic that will convert into paying custumers, then you should very much consider using infographics as part of your content marketing efforts. With a huge number of tweets and videos being uploaded to social media every day, getting your content noticed can be a difficult task, so what you need is something that will stand out and grab the attention of your target audience - something like an infographic.

Infographics are a way to visually represent information and data and make these things easy to comprehend. Rather than displaying a page full of written information, infographics break down that information into an image-based format, making it easier for the user to digest.

It's been scientifically proven that the human brain loves infographics. Your brain can process information very quickly when it's illustrated using an image - certainly a lot faster than when you're reading through lines and lines of plain text. And infographics aren't just great at displaying data; they're also a great way of gaining natural links. A well-designed, well-targeted infographic will be shared all over social media and on relevant websites. This is the type of link building that can earn big rewards from Google in the form of improved SERP rankings.

If you're thinking about incorporating the use of infographics into your digital marketing strategy, here's how you can ensure that your infographics will stand out from the crowd and provide you with plenty of engagements and conversions:

Keep it Simple!

The reason why infographics are so beneficial is because they display info and data that is easy for the user to consume. Therefore, it's extremely important that you create an infographic that is both visually appealing and easily digestible. If there is too much going on with your graphic, then the person viewing it will lose focus and they will not be able to understand the message you're trying convey.  Stick to one style, limit the number of colours and fonts, and ensure that there are clear visual connections between the various sections of your graphic. Above all, aim to keep things simple and clear.

Make it Stand Out!

Your infographic needs to stand out from the crowd - there are plenty of infographics out there, and consumers are unlikely to engage with it if it's similar to the hundreds of others they've already seen. Your graphic needs a design that will grab the user's attention and stand out from the rest; in other words, it needs to pack a punch. As with a news article or blog post, if your infographic's headline doesn't provoke the consumer's attention then they're probably not going to interact with it. If your graphic isn't unique and attractive, consumers and other websites are less likely to share it. Remember that the main purpose of an infographic is to display information and data that is easily digestible in a way that will attract the target audience's attention.

Be Relevant!

The infographics that are most likely to drive conversions are ones that appeal to the target audience's needs and concerns. One mistake that many people make is creating an infographic that aims to be universally popular rather than targeting a specific audience with specific interests. Your infographic should be interesting for your target audience, rather than for the whole world. Figure out what content your audience shared the most and drove the most traffic recently, and then you'll be able to come up with a topic that will interest your audience and gain conversions.

Make Sure it's Easy to Share!

An infographic works best when it's being shared across social media platforms (like Twitter or Facebook) and other websites. Of course, this can't happen unless you make it easy for people to share it. Once you've created your graphic and posted it to your site, you should share it across your social media accounts and make sure you're using a social sharing widget to allow readers to easily share it on their own accounts (this will help your infographic to reach people outside your own follower base). We also recommend that you make the graphics HTML code easily accessible so that other websites can display the graphic whilst linking back to your original post. This is an excellent way to build high-quality, mutually beneficial links - the website sharing your graphic will benefit from hosting your engaging content, and you'll benefit from the inbound link.

If you take all if these points into consideration, you should be able to create an infographic that is engaging and will result in a healthy number of conversions for your business.

Need help with your content creation or social media strategies? Whether you need us to create an infographic or an entire website for your company, we at Designer Websites are more than up to the task - contact us now to request a quotation!

ABC Designs are a team of signage and display specialists based in Barry but working with companies across South Wales and South West England. With more than 30 years of experience, the ABC team are capable of designing, manufacturing, and installing a vast range of different solutions, including:
  • External signage (shop fascias, outdoor banners, car park signs, engraved plaques)
  • Internal signage (desk wraps, large-format prints, wall vinyls, raised lettering)
  • Vehicle graphics (signs and graphics for cars and vans)
  • Exhibition displays (roll-up banners, pop-up display stands)
If the company's name sounds familiar to you, it may be because you read our recent update about our brand new meeting room - ABC provided some of the room's most eye-catching design elements, including these great 3D wall signs:

Meeting Room Signage

As you can see, ABC Designs are capable of truly outstanding work, and so when they asked us to design their new website we knew that the standard would have to be high. We're pleased to announce that www.abcdesignswales.co.uk is now live, and we hope you'll agree that it has a great look and a professional finish that's entirely worthy of this business.

The new ABC Designs Wales website is completely responsive, and its modern, image-centric look was specifically designed to show off the company's work in the best possible way. As you browse the site, you'll see myriad examples of what these skilled craftspeople can produce, and this will hopefully help you to imagine what they might do for your own premises.

If you need any sort of signage / graphical / display solution, we'd strongly recommend ABC Designs Wales for the job - their new website can be found here.

Need a website for your business? Designer Websites are the people to call - click here to request a quotation.
Google's New Mobile Index

We've discussed this rumour before, and now it looks like it's really happening: Google have confirmed that they are creating a completely separate index for mobile searches, meaning you may soon see two completely different sets of results for the same Google search on your smartphone and your desktop PC.

This revelation isn't completely out of the blue, of course. Google's mobile and desktop results have been gradually looking less and less alike for quite some time now - in fact, we're already at the point where many websites rank highly for their keywords on desktop but not on mobile (or vice versa). However, all results are currently still pulled from the same Google index, and the forthcoming split could have a big impact on the SERPs when it happens.

And that's not all. Google's latest statement included the assertion that, to quote Search Engine Watch:

"This mobile index will become the primary Google index. The newly separated desktop index will not be kept as up-to-date as the mobile one."

In other words, the new mobile-specific index will take priority over the current index. This may seem surprising at first, but it actually makes perfect sense; more than half of all Google searches now come from mobile devices, so of course the company would want to ensure the quality of their mobile results above all else. 

With that in mind, the question that SEO-savvy business owners should now be asking is...

How can I rank highly in Google's mobile results when the new index arrives?

Some people will be reading this because they've already got high mobile rankings and they're anxious to keep them. Others may be here because they've never had much luck in Google's mobile SERPs, and they're wondering if this new index could be their big opportunity to change that.

Whichever boat you're in, here are a few tips for making sure you don't get left behind when Google's mobile-only index eventually comes into play:

1. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

This is a no-brainer, but since a lot of business websites still aren't optimised for mobile users, it's worth stating anyway. The best way to ensure that your website will work well on smartphones is to plump for a responsive design that automatically adapts to fit the screen it's viewed on - more on that subject here.

Some non-responsive websites have so far managed to slip through Google's net and rank reasonably well in mobile SERPs even though they're not mobile-friendly. However, the forthcoming mobile-specific index will almost certainly put paid to that, so it's a good idea to upgrade now and use Google's own mobile-friendliness testing tool to ensure that you're giving smartphone users the best possible experience.

2. Minimise your page loading times.

If there's one thing that we all hate to see when browsing the Internet on a mobile device, it's a webpage that takes ages to load. Excessive load times discourage mobile users from interacting with your website, and if you don't speed things up, Google will quickly boot you out of their mobile rankings in favour of a site that doesn't force visitors to wait around.

In order to ensure that your website is loading as quickly as possible, test it using Google's PageSpeed Tools. This will inform you of any changes you can make to boost your site's load speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights

You may also wish to consider using AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages), a recent Google initiative that aims to make the web instantaneously accessible on mobile devices - learn more here.

3. Optimise for local searches.

If your mobile customers have their location services turned on, Google will serve them local results for certain queries. Here's what that looks like:


If this so-called 'local pack' shows up for your primary keywords, that's a good indicator that you need to be thinking about local SEO. You want your shop (or restaurant, office, clinic, etc.) to show up prominently in Google results when someone in the area searches for your service, and this can be achieved by:
  • Add your business on Google My Business. Add your opening hours and a short written description of your organisation; you may also wish to embellish the listing with images.

  • Ensure that your company name, address, and contact details are consistent throughout the Internet (i.e. on your website, your Google listing, your social media profiles, and any other listings you have online).

  • Encourage people to review your business on Google, as well as on other well-known websites that publish reviews of local businesses (e.g. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook).

  • Ask other local businesses to link to your website (but only if they are reputable, their website is of a high quality, and the link is relevant to your business - e.g. if you own a hair salon, a link from a grocery store may not benefit you, but a link from a wedding dress shop might if they're encouraging people to visit your salon for a haircut before the big day).

4. Use Google Search Console to stay on top of potential issues.

One final piece of advice (and this applies even if you're not interested in the mobile SERPs): add all versions of your website to Google Search Console and check the dashboard frequently to ensure that everything is as it should be and nothing is going wrong on your site. Of particularly relevance to today's topic is the Mobile Usability report, which can be found under Search Traffic on the left-hand side of the console.

Mobile Usability

This blog post highlights a few other reports that it's important to check regularly once you've added your site on Search Console.

* * *

If you want to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and fully-optimised for this upcoming Google change, Designer Websites can help! Click here to request a quote, or select one of the following services to find out more about what we can do for you:

Thursday marked the release of Google's brand new phone - the Pixel! This phone is crammed with plenty of great features, including the highest rated smartphone camera ever, a battery that lasts all day and charges fast, and we mean fast! And It also has an unlimited storage for your photos and videos, but the one feature the stands out the most to us, is the new Google Assistant

Google is taking on the likes of Siri and Cortana with its very own smart service called Google Assistant. Google Assistant combines all the features from Google Now and “Ok Google” with a new AI experience, to provide you with a virtual assistant that you can have an ongoing two-way dialogue; it’s basically your very own personal Google.

So with new advancements becoming available and with voice search becoming increasingly popular, we take a look at how this may affect how people search online and how you can adapt to benefit from it.

How Will Voice Search Impact SEO, & How Can You Adapt?


Voice search is becoming increasingly popular, with Google reporting that currently 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search every day! And it’s continuing to become a fast growing market, with the ratio of voice searches growing quicker than type search, and with Google Assistant just becoming available, voice search could become the new way of searching for content. 

In order for you to benefit from voice search, various SEO techniques should be implemented to allow search engines to extract answers from your content. 

Adapt Your Content

The rise of voice search has fundamentally changed the way people use search engines. People don't search the same way with their keyboards as they do using their voice. Voice search has led to people using more conversational queries when searching for something, which means the queries become less keyword based. In order to ensure that your webpage appears on the first page of Google's SERP's, it's important that you understand the consumer's conversational speech. Research what phrases and language people use, and adapt your content appropriately. You may find that consumers will be make queries that are unsuitable to have as a page title but you can use parts of it to help you create content to adapt with your consumers language.

Take advantage of Schema Markup


Schema is an add-on to the coding of a webpage, which provides the search engine with information that helps them understand the content of the webpage. This helps search engines return more informative results for consumers. Schema doesn't just inform the search engines what is in your content; it also informs them what it means. This enables the search engine to provide richer search results, making it easier for the consumer to find the relevant information. The more the search engine understands what is on your page, the better chance you have to appear for search engine queries.

Make the whole experience quicker

More than ever before, consumers want quick answers and immediate access to what they're looking for. Users are looking for direct answers to their questions, so it's vitally important that your content is optimised to allow search engines to identify quick answers from your content in order to answer the popular queries and questions.

If you're worried that your content isn't up to scratch to adapt to this incoming change, then Designer Websites are the people to call. Email info@designer-websites.co.uk or call 01446 339050 to discuss and SEO content strategy for your business.
Travel Booker System

Travel Booker is a UK-based company that sells ski holiday packages. The Travel Booker team have specialist knowledge of Andorra and its many popular ski locations, and they provide holidays to Arinsal, Soldeu, and several other resorts.

There are lots of different things to consider when organising a ski holiday in a foreign country. In addition to making hotel reservations and travel arrangements, skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts may also wish to book:
  • Lift passes
  • Professional ski lessons
  • Rental equipment (e.g. skis, boots, helmets, snowboards)
  • Transfers between the airport and the resort itself
Instead of leaving their customers to sort all of this out alone, Travel Booker wanted to offer an easy way to take care of all the bits and pieces online. To achieve this, they got in touch with the team here at Designer Websites.

Our experienced web developers constructed a sleek, user-friendly booking system that's perfectly tailored to the needs of Travel Booker's customers. This system has been incorporated into a number of websites owned by Travel Booker, so no matter which resort you're planning to visit, you can take care of all your extras with ease. Since the booking system has a responsive design (created by our expert web designers), you can even take care of everything on your smartphone or tablet - the user interface works equally well on all screen sizes!

Click here to visit one of Travel Booker's websites and see their new booking system for yourself. Alternatively, if you've got a web development project that you'd like to discuss with the Designer Websites team, get in touch now - no matter how complex your requirements, we're always excited to take on new projects!
We're huge fans of BBC One's The Apprentice here at Designer Websites, and so we're obviously very excited for the start of show's twelfth series. Episode 1 airs tonight at 9pm - we can't wait to see who's a pretender and who's a contender this time around!

Speaking of contenders, did you know that we've worked with a couple of winning candidates over the past few years? As fans of the show will know, the winner of each series receives a £250,000 business investment from Lord Sugar, and we've designed and developed the websites for not one but two of the companies that have benefited from that cash injection - not to mention the guidance and wisdom of Britain's most successful self-made businessman.
 
Here's some more info about the websites we've created for Lord Sugar's business partners:
 
 
Recruitment company specialising in the science and technology sectors
 
Ricky Martin, with his biochemistry degree and years of experience in the recruitment industry, won the eighth series of The Apprentice in 2012. He used Lord Sugar's £250K investment to found Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS), a recruitment company that caters exclusively to the science and technology industries.
 
We worked closely with Ricky and the HRS team to create www.hyperec.com, a modern and professional-looking recruitment website that allows jobseekers to browse hundreds of science jobs and submit applications online. It also makes it easy for employers in the scientific sector to list vacancies online and find talented individuals to work for them.
 
 
 
 
Elite clinics offering rejuvenation treatments, fat reduction, hair removal and more
 
Ricky Martin was obviously very happy with our work on the HRS website, because he recommended our services to his successor, Dr Leah Totton. Dr Totton - a physician from Northern Ireland - became the ninth BBC Apprentice winner in 2013 and used Lord Sugar's investment to open her own cosmetic skin clinic in London. The Dr Leah Clinic proved to be a great success, and a second branch opened in Essex earlier this year.
 
The Dr Leah Clinics website, www.drleah.co.uk, was designed and developed by the team here at Designer Websites. We collaborated closely with Dr Totton and her team, working hard to deliver a high-calibre web solution on time and on budget. The responsive website allows users to browse the many innovative cosmetic treatments available at Leah's clinics and book appointments online with ease.
 
 
 
If you're impressed by this brace of big projects and you'd like to discuss your own online requirements with the Designer Websites team, please give us a call on 01446 339050 or click here to request a quote.
 
Don't forget to tune in and catch The Apprentice on BBC One at 9 o'clock tonight!
Built by our clients for our clients, Designer Websites' new meeting / training room is finally ready!

We've been struggling for some time with a single small meeting room, so we decided to reshuffle our premises somewhat to create a new room that's perfect for meetings, presentations, and training sessions. Work on the room is now complete, and as you can see, the results look great!

Meeting Room

Practically everything you see in the photo above was provided by one of our clients. These are businesses with whom we've worked very closely over the years, and we thought that explaining 'who did what' would make a great talking point within the meetings we'll be having in this space.

Who did what?

The first thing we did when renovating the room was install a luxury vinyl floor from Floormaker, long-time clients of ours who supply all kinds of high-quality flooring to homes and businesses throughout the UK. Here's what the stripped-back room looked like once the floor was down:

Meeting Room Floor

Then came the task of plastering and painting the new meeting room, which we split between ourselves. We also took care of hanging the blinds, rewiring the electrics, and sorting out the radiators.

After that, we turned to our friends at ABC Designs, signage specialists based right here in South Wales. They created a sign similar to the one in our main office, along with some entrance signs, door vinyls, and car park signs - all of which, in our opinion, looks absolutely awesome!

Meeting Room Signage

We also commissioned Printmet to build us a bespoke meeting room table (with a parquet insert from Floormaker, who we mentioned before) and a bespoke TV stand, which we designed specifically for the new room.

Meeting Room Table

Then came the pièce de résistance: a quirky, modern-looking partition with a hidden door. This was designed by the brilliant Modelmakers Ltd, who normally specialise in architectural and exhibition models but clearly have a bright future in this sort of work! We already had an idea of what we wanted, so after a few design concepts and discussions with the guys from Modelmakers, a plan was agreed upon and they installed this unique wall in no time.

Partition with Hidden Door

And with that, our new meeting room was finished!

New Meeting Room 2

Our meeting room has gone from being boring and run-of-the-mill to being exceptionally cool and contemporary, and everyone here at DW absolutely loves it. None of this could have been achieved without the help of our brilliant clients, so if you are ever looking for a superb signage company, an amazing model maker, a fantastic bespoke metal furniture supplier, or a high-calibre flooring company, you know who to call!
How to Bring Customers Back to Your Ecommerce Website
 
Previously on this blog, we shared 5 top tips for instilling trust in first-time customers and encouraging them to buy from your ecommerce website. Today, we'd like to look at the next step: enticing those customers back to your website for a second purchase.
 
Converting one-time customers into repeat customers is arguably an even bigger challenge for ecommerce retailers than securing that key first transaction. According to Entrepreneur, only 32% of ecommerce consumers placed a second order with an online seller within a year of their first. However, it's well worth making an effort to clear that second-sale hurdle; once a customer has made two purchases from your website, there's a good chance they'll make a third...then a fourth...and so on.
 
But how can you magically transform your one-off buyers into regular customers? Below are five useful tips from the ecommerce experts and marketing specialists who work here at Designer Websites - read on to learn how to bring customers back to your site time and time again!

1. Marketing Emails

The most obvious and most popular way to bring customers back for a second purchase is simply to email them. If the customer entered their email address at the checkout (and opted in to receive correspondence from you in the future), it's definitely in your best interest to stay in touch with them, and services like MailChimp have made it easier than ever before to do this.
 
When constructing an email marketing campaign, it's important to strike a balance between silence and spam. If you don't email your past customers often enough, they may well forget all about your brand and the service you provided for them; send too many emails, however, and your customers may get annoyed and unsubscribe from your list altogether. Think carefully about how often you'd want to hear from a company like yours - once a month is usually a fairly safe starting point, although the ideal frequency will depend on the industry you're in and the actual content of each email.
 
Rather than including your entire customer base in every generic email campaign, you may get better results if you split your mailing list into segments (e.g. 'People who bought shoes', 'People who made a purchase near Christmas') and send tailored mailers to each of these segments.
 
Here are a few ideas, with specific examples given in bold:
 
Arrival of a new product that's similar to one the customer bought previously.
We know you love Adele - her new album is available now!
 
Special offer on a type of product the customer purchased previously.
25% off all perfumes and fragrances

One year on from a seasonal purchase the customer made previously.
Autumn is here again - do you need a new coat? 
 

2. Social Media

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are perfect for keeping in touch with past customers and making sure you stay on their radar. Once a customer has followed your company on Twitter, for instance, all you have to do is tweet regularly and your brand - your logo, your company name, your latest news and updates - will keep appearing in their feed, reminding the customer that you exist and that your online shop is still very much open for business.
 
Of course, the tricky part is actually persuading people to follow you on Twitter (or Facebook, Instagram, etc.) in the first place. Here are a few ways to accomplish this beyond simply asking people to follow you when you send them the receipt for their order.

Be easy to find.

Display recognisable social media icons prominently on your website and in emails, and make sure that these buttons actually go to the right URL when clicked. Far too many companies put the Twitter logo in their website header but forget to actually link it to their Twitter account!

Post well and post often.

In order to make your social media page an appealing prospect to potential followers, you need to demonstrate that you're a) active, and b) interesting. You'll have a hard time attracting new followers if your last post was six weeks ago, or if every single post is just a link to a product on your website.
 
You - or your social media manager - should be aiming to post frequently, and to post a good variety of content that is nevertheless consistent with your brand and the wants and needs of your customers. It's a bit of a balancing act, for sure, but get it right and you should find that your customers are far happier to follow you online.

Make your company's brand compatible with the customer's personal brand.

Individuals have their own 'brands' just like companies do, and if a person considers their social media account to be an integral part of their personal brand, they won't follow anyone who is inconsistent with that brand. Someone who sees themselves as being glamorous and trendy might be reluctant to follow, say, a pest control company on Twitter, even if they frequently use that company's services.
 
With this in mind, here's a useful exercise. Ask yourself who your customers are and how they perceive themselves; now, ask yourself how your business fits into that perception. If your customers are serious, no-nonsense business owners, then present yourself as a serious, no-nonsense business on Twitter. If your target audience mostly consists of stay-at-home parents, then tailor your social media posts to stay-at-home parents.
 
This isn't just a question of tone (although that's certainly part of it). Think of it this way: if, every time you liked a Facebook page or followed a company on Twitter, you had to put a bumper sticker on your car saying 'I ❤ [Company Name]', which companies would you follow? Which brands fit your personality well enough that you'd be happy to endorse them to the driver behind you at all times?
 
This may sound like an odd comparison if you don't really play the social media game yourself, but a lot of people curate their 'following' list very carefully as they consider it a reflection of their own personality. Your goal is to be the sort of company they don't mind associating themselves with.
 

3. User Accounts

Allowing your customer to register an account on your website will make it a little bit easier for said customer to come back sometime in the future and place that all-important second order. If, while finalising purchase #2, Mr Jones can simply enter a username and password instead of typing in all of his personal details from scratch, this will give him a better overall experience, thus increasing the chance that he'll both complete this order and use your website again the next time he needs a present for his mum.
 
A word of caution, however, while some customers will happily create an account in order to save time in the long run, others will resent you for forcing them down this route instead of just letting them check out as quickly as possible. The best idea is to let people decide for themselves: many of the ecommerce websites we've built let people register an account if they want to, but also offer an 'Express Checkout' option for people who want to go straight to the payment screen.
 

4. Personal Notes

If you want to turn a one-time customer into a customer for life, it's crucial that you do whatever you can to endear yourself to that customer. The most important part of this is just providing a solid service, both while they're on your website and afterwards; in other words, you need to make sure that your website is easy to use and that your courier delivers the goods on time and as described.
 
Ticking those two boxes lays a good foundation for consumer loyalty, but in order to really seal the deal, you need to go the extra mile - do something that will set you apart from the competition and make sure the customer remembers you fondly. The easiest way to win hearts? Include a personal note in package you send to the customer - not a generic form letter, but something genuine that's specifically for that one person.
 
There's no need to write an essay here, nor to hunt down your customer's Facebook page so that you can include specific details about their personal life. Simply thank them for their custom in a genuine way that makes them feel like a valued part of your business. Here's an example:
 
Hi Edward,
Just a quick note to say thanks very much for using our website. Hope you enjoy the book - I read it myself when it first came out and I have to say I couldn't put it down. Fingers crossed you find it just as compelling!
 
If there's anything else we can help you with, please don't hesitate to ring the office or drop me an email. You can also find us on Twitter, so feel free to say hello if you're on there too!
 
Best regards,
 
Signature
 
Georgina R. Owen
Managing Director of Great Reads Online
 
A note like this shows the customer you care and gives them a glimpse of the real people behind the company - often a sticking point for retailers who sell exclusively through an online storefront as opposed to a bricks-and-mortar shop that's staffed by smiling faces.
 
As an added bonus, these letters also give you another place to plug your social media accounts (as in the example above) and/or offer the customer another little incentive to revisit your website soon. What sort of incentive, you ask?

5. Loyalty Discounts

Here's another version of that note from Georgina R. Owen, the fictional boss of fictional company Great Reads Online:
 
Hi Edward,
Just a quick note to say thanks very much for using our website. Hope you enjoy the book - I read it myself when it first came out and I have to say I couldn't put it down. Fingers crossed you find it just as compelling!
 
In case you fancy exploring the rest of our crime section, here's a discount code for you to use next time you're on our site. Just type this into the box on the basket page and it'll knock 15% off the total cost of your order:
 
GR8RDZ123
 
If there's anything else we can help you with, please don't hesitate to ring the office or drop me an email. You can also find us on Twitter, so feel free to say hello if you're on there too!
 
Best regards,
 
Signature
 
Georgina R. Owen
Managing Director of Great Reads Online
 

Not only does this letter endear the company to the customer and encourage him to follow the company on social media, but it also gives Edward an extra reason to go back for another purchase. Once he's finished his book and needs something new to read, he'll know that he can get his next page-turner for 15% less if he goes back to Great Reads.

 
If you need an eCommerce website that functions flawlessly and keeps customers coming back time after time, we at Designer Websites are the people to call. Click below to request a quote, or telephone 01446 339050 to discuss your requirements.