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!
ABC Leasing

ABC Leasing are a team of car leasing specialists based in South Wales. They provide vehicles for personal use as well as for professional purposes, and they pride themselves on providing great customer service and making the leasing process as fast and as hassle-free as possible for their customers. 

One of ABC's main aims is to provide a straightforward and transparent service, making it easy to apply for a lease and to find the information needed to make an informed decision. With this in mind, they became concerned that their website was somewhat outdated and difficult to use, preventing them from giving their customers a truly user-friendly experience. This is why they decided to get in touch with Designer Websites with the the goal of creating a sleek new website that would be easy to use and comprehend. They also wanted to improve their website's search engine optimisation, in order to attract more business via Google and other search engines.

Our developers worked closely with the team at ABC to create a modern and user-friendly website, with a variety of helpful features that were custom-built to meet their aims. A primary goal for the new design was to ensure that customers were able to browse and search the full range of vehicles with ease, allowing them to select their desired car or van online. To make this as simple as possible for site users, we developed a sophisticated search system that allows users to refine their search by make, model, vehicle type and budget, granting them the ability to add or omit these specifications according to their preferences.

As well as improving the search function on their website, ABC were also keen to make the application process as straightforward as possible, enabling customers to apply for a lease without having to visit the ABC office in person. Their new website's online application page makes it simple and stress-free for users to apply for a lease on any device, thanks to the responsive design, which ensures that the information is presented on smartphones and tablets in an easy-to-navigate format. There is also an additional enquiry form for people who would like to find our more about ABC before making their decision, allowing them to target undecided customers as well as those who have already chosen to commit.

To view the new and improved ABC Leasing site, please visit http://www.abc-leasing.com/

If you would like to discover how an improved website could enhance your business or organisation, please get in touch with Designer Websites to discuss your requirements.
Alternatives to Google

Has any company ever dominated its market quite as thoroughly as Google? With roughly 40,000 search queries processed every second, Google is by far the biggest player in the search engine game; you probably use Google more often than you use your toothbrush. The company's utter dominance is such that the word 'Google' itself has long doubled as a verb meaning 'perform an online search' - it's very much the Hoover of search engines.

Still, if Google's tax avoidance and career-ending April Fool's Day jokes have left a sour taste in your mouth, there are alternatives. Here are a few non-Google search engines that may be worth investigating:

Bing (www.bing.com)

Bing was launched in 2009, but despite Microsoft's best efforts, it has never come close to threatening Google's position as the internet's go-to search engine. Bing has always been the Pepsi to Google's Coca-Cola, and many of the people who do use it simply do so because they don't know how to change their browser's default search provider.

Why you might prefer it to Google: Some people argue that Bing actually gives better results than Google. Granted, a lot of those people work for Bing, but we'd encourage you to at least give Microsoft's engine a try - depending on what you search for, you may well be pleasantly surprised.

DuckDuckGo (duckduckgo.com)

DuckDuckGo has been active since 2008, but the search engine's user base has shot up over the past year or so, largely due to the public's increasing interest in web services that preserve their privacy.

Why you might prefer it to Google: DuckDuckGo is all about user privacy. Whereas Google uses things like your location and your search history to deliver personalised results, DDG doesn't track you or collect any personal information whatsoever. The downside? Since DDG serves every user exactly the same results for each query, the search engine isn't very good at handling searches like hair salon near me (remember, DDG doesn't collect info on your current location). You can, however, work around this by supplying your location in the search term itself, e.g. hair salon in shoreditch.

Blackle (www.blackle.com)

Blackle is powered by Google Custom Search, so it's not a unique search engine in its own right like Bing and DuckDuckGo. However, it does have one advantage over the Google you're used to...

Why you might prefer it to Google: Blackle's all-black design is actually more energy-efficient than Google's homepage, which of course is predominantly white. Blackle's About Us page suggests that, if everyone used their site instead of Google, it could save as much as 750 megawatt hours every year (that's enough energy to power a vacuum cleaner for 85 years straight!) A secondary benefit: by setting Blackle as your homepage, you're providing yourself with a regular reminder to save energy whenever and wherever you can.

Common Search (about.commonsearch.org)

At time of writing, the Common Search search engine only exists in the form of a UI demo. However, the idea behind Common Search is well worth talking about: as their mission statement points out, one of humanity's most important resources (the internet) is currently in the hands of "profit-seeking companies", but Common Search's nonprofit search engine will eventually provide web users with an alternative. They aim to be "open, transparent and independent...just like an arbiter should be".

Why you might prefer it to Google: Since Common Search won't be run for profit, there will be no adverts (unless they have "exhausted all the other ways to be financially sustainable") and the organisation's decisions hopefully won't be influenced by the possibility of financial gain.

If you're a business owner looking to climb the Google (or Bing, or DuckDuckGo) rankings for your industry's top keywords, our Search Engine Optimisation specialists can help. Contact us now to request a quotation.

If you're an Instagram user, unless you've been hiding under a rock all weekend, you're likely to have noticed some unusual goings-on in your feed over the Easter break. In place of the usual selection of posts, you will no doubt have been bombarded with a repeated message from many of the accounts you follow, urging their audiences to 'turn on post notifications' in order to continue seeing their content. The reason for all of this panic and uproar? Instagram's latest algorithm changes. 

Sparked by the same issue that launched the #RIPTwitter tag only a few months ago, the outpouring of complaints from users came after the image-led platform announced that it would be abandoning the traditional reverse-chronological feed in favour of a system which will order posts by 'relevance'. Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram's changes mean that you will no longer see the newest post from your followed accounts on your feed first; instead, you'll see those which have been selected by the algorithm. 

While the idea of having curated content specifically targeted to your previous likes and interests may seem like a move towards user-friendliness, the alterations have come under considerable scrutiny since their announcement. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the new system is said to include 'post-engagement' as a factor in its ranking process, which for many is seen as a move towards social media elitism. This is due to the fact that those with the greatest number of followers are likely to appear first, due to the large number of 'likes' which their posts regularly attract. Until now, Instagram has been the go-to platform for many self-made businesspeople and demi-celebrities (outside of YouTube, of course!) Everyday users have been able to build up large and loyal followings based on the quality of their content and their post timing/tag intelligence alone, but this pathway could be derailed for future users thanks to these changes.

This change has also come under considerable scrutiny by businesses established outside of Instagram, who until now have made use of the platform's growth and popularity to get their posts noticed by existing and potential customers. This is largely due to Instagram's affiliation with Facebook, and the perceived similarities between the former's latest update and the latter's own new algorithm change haven't helped. The current panic and outrage from businesses is somewhat justified, based on the negative impact documented in the wake of Facebook's own non-chronological feed change. After the changes were brought in, businesses reported all-time-lows from their organic post reach, a move which many viewed as a method of forcing companies into resorting to paid Facebook ads.

And here lies the core problem with content filter changes on social media platforms and search engines: the issue of profits over people. In the eyes of many users, life is being made increasingly difficult for average users and small businesses, as the ability to reach your desired audience without the boost of a large existing following or financial investment becomes increasingly elusive. The prospect of an organic, indiscriminate form of online networking seems to be a dim and distant dream for many, but are the objections to this latest set of algorithm changes justified?

One factor which could go against the presumption that the new change is bad for business is the fact that Instagram does not currently discriminate between business and personal accounts. This means that unlike Facebook, posts from 'real people' are not unfairly prioritised over those posted as part of a business's brand awareness and marketing strategy. While this may not completely solve the question for smaller accounts and those just getting started with Instagram, it does force users to be smarter with their use of trends, analytics, and overall post quality. Popular post times, trending hashtags and calls-to-action should all factor in to the post-algorithm Instagram strategy, which could even mean that those who strive to cater to their intended audience will be rewarded over those who simply take for granted that their posts will be seen. Lazy, repetitive content leads to a decrease in engagement, likes, and eventually followers; this means that, while the new algorithm may give those with an established follower-base a head start, it will still force all users to maintain post quality.

It is also worth noting that urging followers to 'turn on notifications', is probably one of the worst steps that an Instagram user can take in the wake of these changes, particularly those running business accounts. For the network's average users, it was puzzling and slightly laughable to see Instagrammers with hundreds of thousands of followers posting these messages, as one would naturally presume that these accounts will have a better chance of being prioritised under the new system. For followers who weren't already irritated by the barrage of notification posts, it is highly likely that the deluge of notifications facing those who did decide to 'switch on' will strike a decisive blow. As any good social media marketer knows, spam is never a positive or fruitful way to target users, so your main priority regardless of these changes should be the production of relevant, high-quality content.

While it may be easy to attack the faults and motives of Instagram's latest update, it is worth remembering that, unlike previous alterations to the online experience, these changes should not pose an instant impact for users. Instagram themselves have explained that the roll-out will be gradual, and will involve an extensive testing process, suggesting that they are interested in maintaining Instagram's user-friendliness. Though it is important to question the business motivations of companies like Instagram, it is also important for users to see the bigger picture in order to adapt and account for changes beyond their control. 

If you're looking to improve your business presence and brand image on social media, click here to find out how we can help.

South Wales UPVC Ltd. are wale’s longest running double glazing firm, established in 1990, they have since become marketing leaders in their industry. The company started 25 years ago, and only offered double-glazed windows and doors to their customers. Now, in 2016 South Wales UPVC Ltd. have been going from strength to strength and have expanded their services and now offer expert conservatory and porch installation.

Having worked with Designer Websites before they were more than confident in our abilities to create exactly what they require from a website.  South Wales UPVC Ltd needed a website that could effortlessly reflect the quality of their products.

As Always, the team at Designer Websites created a stunning website that is not only responsive and user friendly, it reflects the standard of their work with ease. Their new home page has a minimal and particularly easy to navigate. With South Wales UPVC Ltd. being a welsh company they felt it was important to maintain their welsh identity, so opted for the White, Green and Red colour scheme which remains prominent throughout their new website.  

Word of mouth advertising and reviews are an incredibly valuable source of information for potential customers of South Wales UPVC Ltd. So to let people see just how outstanding this company is we have provided links to their trust pilot page so people can easily see their reviews and we have updated their enquiry form to make it quicker and easier for people to get in touch, or get a quote from desktop and mobile.

If you would like to see what our designers have done with this website, visit http://www.southwalesupvc.co.uk/ now.

Facebook Ad Images

Earlier this week, Facebook changed their guidelines regarding ad images. The images that accompany Facebook ads were previously allowed up to 20% text coverage, meaning that up to one-fifth of your promotional image could consist of written text; however, Facebook's Guide for using text in ad images now states that their "preferred image style" contains "little to no text". Advertisers must now strip most if not all text out of their ad images if they wish to continue reaching the largest possible audience.

This change came into effect on Tuesday the 22nd of March, but you'd be forgiven for missing the memo - there seems to have been no official announcement from Facebook, and the alteration appears to have gone unnoticed by mostof the online publications who would usually cover this sort of thing. Even the people paying to advertise on Facebook were not notified of this change, meaning that many people will have seen their ad reach plummet over the last day or two.

If you're concerned that this change may have affected your company's ads, here's a quick primer on the updated guidelines and how to comply with them:

OK, Low, Medium or High?

As of Tuesday, text coverage is now defined by four different categories. The category into which your Facebook ad falls will determine a) how many people you'll be able to reach, and b) how much the ad will cost to run.
  • OK: These ad images contain little or no text. A photograph overlaid with your company logo will probably fall into this category as long as there's no other text present.

  • Low: These ad images contain some text. Ad images with one or two lines of text will fall into this category; while these ads will probably reach fewer people than ads in the OK category, you may decide that the image text is so important that you're willing to sacrifice a portion of your impressions in order to deliver your full message.

  • Medium: These ad images contain a lot of text. Placing text in several different parts of your ad image will probably land your ad in this category. Facebook will still show these ads, but they are likely to reach a very small number of people under the new guidelines.

  • High: These ad images contain too much text. Facebook will not show an ad like this (unless the ad image is covered by the list of Exceptions - more on that in a moment).
Here's the infographic that Facebook have released to help advertisers understand the new guidelines.

Facebook Ad Image Guidelines
Image from facebook.com

Exceptions to the new rules

Facebook have stated that certain types of image will be exempt from these stricter image saturation guidelines. If any of the following apply to your ad, you can probably disregard everything we've said so far:
  • Book or album covers
  • Posters promoting concerts, music festivals, comedy shows, sporting events and films
  • Text-based businesses (e.g. calligraphers)
  • Screenshots of apps and games
  • Legal text
  • Infographics
  • Pictures of products (where the entire product is visible - no zooming in on a specific area)
Unfortunately, this list of exceptions does not cover logos, watermarks, or numbers - all of these things count towards the total amount of text in your image.

What should I do now?

If you're already running any adverts on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you log into your account and check the images that you've used alongside those ads. Pay close attention to the number of impressions your ad has achieved over the last few days - if that number has dropped since Tuesday, there's a good chance that your ad images no longer comply with Facebook's preferred style. Even if your impressions have remained stable, it's probably a good idea to swap any text-heavy images for images containing little or no text, just to be on the safe side.

Going forward, you will need to make sure that any new Facebook ads you create place are accompanied by images containing as little text as possible. You can still use text in the ad itself - just try to keep it out of the image or your campaign may not reach the audience you're targeting.

If you would like our social media experts to assist with your company's Facebook ads, please contact Designer Websites today - we can help you to create a compelling advert that reaches the largest possible audience.
UPDATE (12th Dec 2016): Google recently announced that HTTP websites that collect sensitive data (e.g. passwords, payment details) will soon be flagged as 'not secure' when someone attempts to view them on the Google Chrome web browser. This means that, if your website requires users to enter login details and/or personal information, it is now even more important that you follow the advice given below and secure your site by upgrading to HTTPS. Failure to do so ASAP may lead to a sharp decrease in site traffic as Chrome begins to warn people away from your site.

Why Convert Your Website to HTTPS?

There’s lots of chatter on the internet, and particularly within the SEO community, about implementing site-wide HTTPS for websites, and you may be wondering why. In the first instance, website owners are making the shift predominantly because Google have (relatively recently) suggested that, because HTTPS is inherently more secure for internet users, they have added this as a ranking factor within their SERP algorithms. There are other reasons, of course (chiefly the added security), but most website owners whose websites were not previously secured by an SSL are having to think about the switch simply to stay ahead of the competition.

We’ve been building secure websites for ecommerce for over a decade; this is normal practice when handling transaction and customer details, but not so much for basic brochure-style websites. However, we recently converted a brochure-only website for one customer to a more secure HTTPS website; take a look at composite decking suppliers TimberTech.

Timbertech are among the first of our customers to switch to a site-wide HTTPS website, and we’re very closely monitoring their rankings to see if this has any effect on the SERPs. We anticipate carrying out this task for a great many of our customers over the coming months, and we think that if you have not already done so, then you should seriously start thinking about doing this for your website. Here are two reasons why:

1. A more secure browsing experience for your users.

All data sent via HTTPS is encrypted, meaning that it cannot be read by anyone but the intended recipient. As mentioned, we always use the HTTPS protocol at the checkout stage of our ecommerce websites, thus ensuring that each customer's payment details and personal information are handled securely. However, many non-ecommerce site owners are now opting to switch to HTTPS too, and it's not hard to see why: even if no payment information is sent via your site, it can still give users extra peace of mind to know that any other sensitive information they enter (email addresses, telephone numbers, login details, etc.) will be safely encrypted by your website.

2. Potentially higher Google rankings.

The primary aim of any search engine is to deliver the best possible results to the end user, and since online security is a major concern for many web users right now, companies like Google and Bing are always looking for new ways to identify secure, high-quality websites.

Google announced some time ago that HTTPS had been incorporated into their algorithm as a "lightweight" ranking signal, potentially giving HTTPS websites a slight advantage over standard HTTP sites in the search engine's results. We've seen a lot of debate over how much difference HTTPS can actually make to a site's rankings, but while it would be foolish to suggest that HTTPS is some kind of miracle solution, it seems fairly safe to say that converting to HTTPS can at least make a small difference to a site's organic search positions. This blog post from ahrefs.com suggests that HTTPS, when implemented properly, does correlate with higher search rankings.

However, that brings us to an important point: if you're going to make the leap from HTTP to HTTPS, it's important to ensure that it's done properly. Among other things, you will need to implement the proper redirects throughout your site, and make sure that there is a single canonical version of each URL.

If you'd like the Designer Websites team to help you upgrade your site from HTTP to HTTPS, please get in touch - we will ensure that the changeover is handled properly, giving you the best possible chance of achieving higher rankings and meeting the expectations of your users.

A few days ago, we found out that Google would be removing all PPC ads from the right-hand side of the search results page; an announcement that has since sparked widespread debate amongst SEOs. The search results page now has 4 paid ads displayed at the top of the page, which means that it takes longer for users to reach the stream of organic results than it would have previously. While Google have attempted to compensate somewhat by adding a greater number of organic listings below these ads, with 9 blue links being displayed, there is still  a great deal of concern from those who rely on organic rankings.

Previously, side adds would have been more obvious to viewers due to their positioning aside from organic results, which helped to highlight the fact that they were ads. Reserving them for within the list of organic searches means that they viewer has to look through these ads, making it more likely that they will get clicked. This has come as an unwelcome change to many SEO professionals, who are concerned that Google is prioritising its commercial gain over the experience of its users. Results that would once have appeared near the top of the page, have now been pushed closer to the middle, giving an almost entirely new meaning to the prospect of coming out 'on top' in organic rankings. 

Naturally, there are both positive and negative aspects to these changes with regards to the user, which will depend largely on how aware the specific individual would have been of paid results previously. The more street-wise internet users may be irritated by the fact that they now have to scroll through even more paid results, while those who pay little attention to ad markers may even find the new layout refreshing in comparison to the somewhat cluttered appearance of the previous format. The users least affected by this will be those who conduct their searches largely by mobile devices, on which side ads were not present prior to these changes. 

This change has also led to much debate amongst paid search marketers, who fear that the loss of side ads will drive up the price of PPC campaigns, as the competition for the top position becomes more intense.However, some have been quick to dismiss these fears, due to the fact that these ads were already accounting for a low percentage of the total click volume. Wordstream founder Larry Kim also notes that all ads will now be able to use additional add-ons such as sitelink, location and call-out extensions, allowing them to take up a larger area, and providing them with a chance to stand out amongst their competitors. Additionally, he also drew attention to the fact that desktop now account for less than half of all searches, suggesting that perhaps these changes would have had a gradual impact over time regardless, as people gradually migrate from desktop to mobiles.

Whether you view these changes as a positive progression towards better quality ads, or see them as an inconvenience which serves as proof of Google's prioritisation of financial gain over user experience, there is no doubt that you will have to adapt your approach to suit these new developments. As with any updates and alterations in the world of SEO, it is doubtful that the affects of these changes will be felt straight away, however, it is important that people start to examine new strategies straight away to avoid being left behind.

To find out how we can help to improve your visibility in search engine results, or assist you in targeting the right audience with your Google ads, get in touch today.