bounce back after covid header

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

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

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

Think about the context of searches

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

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

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

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

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

Boots search result for face masks

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

Adapting your website to meet demand

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

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

Holland and Barrett website

Image taken from Moz.com

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

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

Improve filters

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

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

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

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

Offer alternative products

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

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

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

Adjusting your prices

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

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

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

An incentive to buy

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

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

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

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google updates

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

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

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

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

Core Algorithm Updates

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

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

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

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

What should you do if you notice a drop?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Snippet Duplication Update

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

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

What impact will this have on your website?

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

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

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

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

Nofollow Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website design psychology

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

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

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

Structure and Layout

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

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

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

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

Colours

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

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

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

Typefaces

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

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

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

Price Order

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

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

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

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

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

Trust and Confidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Improve website conversion rate

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

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

What is a 'conversion'?

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

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

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

1. Make sure your website is user-friendly.

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

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

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

2. Drive more relevant traffic to your site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Keep your graphics relevant and minimal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Improve your category pages

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

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

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

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

1. Optimising Your Text

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

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

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

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

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

2. High-Quality Images

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

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

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

3. Featured Products

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

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

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

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

4. Filters

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

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

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

5. Search Box

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

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

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

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

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

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what happens when you stop doing SEO

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

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

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

What is SEO & Why is it Important?

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

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

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

organic traffic drop

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

What happens when you stop creating new content?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

traffic drop

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

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

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

What happens when you stop checking for technical SEO issues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

boosted post vs facebook ad

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

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

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

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

What is a Boosted Post?

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

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

How do I set one up?

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

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

boost post button

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

  • What’s your objective?

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

  • What do you want your post button to do?

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

  • What kind of audience do you want to target?

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

  • Where do you want your boosted post to show?

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

  • How long do you want it to run for?

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

  • What’s your budget for the campaign?

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

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

What are the benefits of a boosted post?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

What is a Facebook Ad?

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

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

Setting up a Facebook ad

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

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

  • Choosing very specific placements.

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

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

  • A wider range of ad objectives.

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

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

  • More control over creativity.

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

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

  • Advanced targeting capabilities.

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

So which strategy do I choose?

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

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

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

If you want to:

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

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

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

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

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

A Quick Introduction to Featured Snippets

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

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

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

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

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

How Do Featured Snippets Impact Click-Through-Rates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Can We Take from This?

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

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

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

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

How to Gain a Featured Snippet >

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

It's the end of another busy week for us here at Designer Websites, and it looks like the rest of the tech and marketing world have been up to their eyeballs too! Once again there are a bunch of things on our radar that we'd love to share with you this week; from a double resignation at Google to 2020 website preparations. Intrigued? Just keep reading...

Photo from https://www.theverge.com/

Spotify Wrapped Takes the Internet by Storm

If you've ventured on social media anytime this week you might have seen images like this popping up all over the place. Well, that's because we've come around to the Spotify wrapped time of year, where listeners get an in-depth overview of their musical habits. That's right, those guilty pleasures and Disney-sing-alongs and Karaoke classics are about to be showcased for all to see! This year, Spotify has made their roundups social media-friendly, much to the disappointment of Apple Music users, who haven't been treated to these luxuries!

Google Co-Founders Step Down

It looks like some big changes to the Google management structure are beginning to take shape. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, currently CEO and President of Alphabet, are to step aside leaving Google CEO Sundar Pichai to take the reigns for Alphabet too. They've said they will remain in the company as active shareholders and board members!

Freshen Up Your SEO Strategy

The year is coming to a close and we're starting to see reminders that now is a great time for reflecting and adjusting your SEO strategy. 

If you've been focusing on building engagement on socials, writing engaging blogs or optimising your site content, it might be time to switch things up a bit! Why not dedicate some time to build some valuable backlinks, or pursue adding eye-catching video content to your site?

Start to plan your business goals for 2020 and consider how you can tweak your current strategy to suit them! Our SEO team always recommend at this time of year is a dose of healthy competitor analysis.

Take a look around competitor sites, find out what they've been doing, who's linking to them and make sure you haven't missed an opportunity to reach new audiences. You might notice your competitors holding festive competitions at this time of year, which is something your audience can really share and engage with!

Here are a few pointers to help you refresh your SEO strategy:

  • Check your existing site content and add extra information where you can. This will give returning users a little extra to read!
  • Consider adding videos to your marketing plan, a splash of eye-catching multimedia can really boost engagement
  • Build your social media following. Have you tried a Facebook boosted post this year?
  • Review your internal links and consider adding new ones, this will help Google better understand the layout of your site and potentially boost rankings!

These are just a few ideas to get you started, keep checking back to see our helpful SEO based blogs throughout the year. We'll see you next week for another DW roundup. Have a lovely weekend!

 

roundup heading

Take a break from the Black Friday shopping to join us for another roundup of the greatest and latest tech and marketing news.

This week saw the introduction of Google's ambient mode, the removal of inactive twitter accounts, the launch of a new social media platform and some very controversial photos of cows in VR headsets.

Are you intrigued? Let's jump right into it!

 

Video courtesy of Android

Google Assistant's New Ambient Mode

 Have you ever wished you could see helpful Google assistant information on your lock screen?

Well, with Google assistant's new Ambient Mode, that dream is becoming a reality! Things like your calendar events, your notifications, information about the weather and smart home controls can be managed directly from your lock screen with Google's Ambient Mode.

The catch... Ambient only works when your phone is plugged in, so you'll have to keep your charger handy if you want to make the most of it!

At the moment, it looks like Google is only giving a select number of devices access to this feature including Nokia phones, Xiaomi phones, Lenovo's Smart Tab M8 and more. Hopefully, with Ambient mode's deep integration into Android, we can expect to see it roll out across most devices in the coming months. 

Do you think this could replace your Google Home, your Amazon Echo? Let us know your thoughts.

twitter heading

Twitter Deactivating Inactive Accounts

When was the last time you logged onto Twitter? If it was 6 months ago (or longer) then you could be in for a shock!!

Twitter has announced that it will be deactivating old accounts to free up usernames and 'clean up' the platform. 

As you can imagine, the idea of deleting inactive accounts has caused a bit of an outrage, particularly amongst people who have lost a loved one. Currently, Twitter doesn't have a way to memorialise the accounts of deceased users, which can make preserving these accounts a little tricky. 

Luckily, Twitter has said they'll delay this process until they've come up with a solution to these concerns. After all, many people hold on to the twitter conversations and exchanges they had with a loved one long after they pass, so it's nice to see Twitter making allowances for this. 

Cocoon

Image from www.standard.co.uk

Cocoon App Created By Ex-Facebook Employee

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more social media platforms, a new app called Cocoon emerges!

Upon initial inspection, Cocoon looks like a hybrid of WhatsApp and Facebook newsfeed. Cocoon offers a space where you can share messages, make video calls, see people's locations and much much more. 

Sachin Monga, who co-founded Cocoon, worked at Facebook prior to setting up this new social business venture, and says that the app has become her 'home on her phone'!

We think this is an interesting concept, and could be a simple way to filter out all the spammy news articles, old school friends and annoying acquaintances that most of us are used to seeing all over our Facebook & Instagram feeds. Would you be willing to give it a try? 

So, that concludes our roundup for this week! So, will you be giving the new Ambient Mode or Cocoon a try? Or will you be logging back into your long-abandoned Twitter account to save it from being re-commissioned? However you're spending your weekend, we hope it's a good one and we'll see you next week for another DW roundup!

Yet another week has gone by and yet again... lots has happened! Here's our weekly round-up of the latest and greatest marketing and tech news of the week. 

Instagram's hidden likes

If you haven't already heard, Instagram is rolling out a new feature in the hope of making Instagram a more mentally friendly place! The new change means users won't be able to see the total number of likes on each other's posts. This is all part of Instagram's movement towards de-incentivising the platform.

At the moment, Instagram is testing this feature so we're yet to see what kind of impact this will have. Instagram reports that feedback has been good so far though, so watch this space!

Google tests a new feature that corrects your pronunciation

It was announced this week that Google plans to launch a new feature to help people check and correct their pronunciation of new and unfamiliar words. All you'll need to do is speak into your microphone, then, Google will use its AI technology to analyse your pronunciation and provide helpful feedback. Perfect for people learning a new language!

Search Console training series

For digital marketers looking to brush up their Search Console knowledge, Google is planning to release a new series of videos to walk you through the platform step by step. We know that Google has (and is continuing to make) some pretty significant changes to the format and features of Search Console, so this will be really beneficial for marketers everywhere.

So far, we can only see the trailer... but we'll definitely be checking back to watch the episodes as Google starts to roll them out!

Exciting tech releases

It's no surprise that with Christmas quickly approaching, big tech companies are rolling out new and attractive tech an alarming rate! This week alone, Apple released a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Motorola released a new Razr (which looks deceivingly like the original model we all know and love), and Disney+ launched.

That's right, you can now find hundreds of Disney TV shows and films all in one place... 

So, if like us, you're going to spend the entire weekend binge-watching Disney movies then we'll see you next week for another round-up!

Clear Choice Stairlifts is a new and exciting brand that emerged onto the mobility equipment market back in 2018. The company began its life as a stairlift installation company working on a contractual basis, but since then have gone on to become an independent brand of their own.

They offer a range of professional stairlifts as well as comprehensive installation and maintenance services - the whole package for people who need a bit of extra help moving around their homes and gardens freely.

Working solely with market-leading stairlift providers Handicare, the Clear Choice team wanted a website that would showcase their mobility products and services in a professional manner. The site needed to reflect the tone of the Handicare brand, echo their outstanding reputation, but also represent Clear Choice as a brand in their own right.

It was noted that many of their potential clients are likely to be elderly and may struggle to use a site that was unnecessarily complicated. Therefore, it was important that we created a website that was simple and user-friendly while still delivering all of the necessary information.

What did we do?

When Clear Choice approached us, they didn’t have an existing website or online presence so we really had a blank canvas to work with! We spoke extensively with the client to make sure we had a good understanding of their business and the products they offer. Then we got to work…

To get things moving, our copywriters wrote fully optimised website copy to capture traffic for brand and industry-specific terms and phrases. This would ensure that anyone wanting to add a Handicare stairlift to their home was highly likely to come across Clear Choice Stairlifts in the Google search results.

The new website is fully responsive which means clients can browse Clear Choice on any device, so whether they use a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop, the Clear Choice website will provide an impeccable user experience.

We also set up a YouTube channel and published a range of videos showcasing their products and services, which are also embedded throughout the new website. We knew videos would be especially beneficial to their clientele because they provide a quick, simple and visual way for users to digest information. Customers can also see each of the Handicare stairlifts in action before making a purchase.

When customers are ready to discuss their options, they can simply complete the enquiry form on the website, and then it’s over to the Clear Choice team to work their magic to help the client move freely around their home again. We’re confident that this new website will help Clear Choice Stairlifts build a happy and highly-relevant customer base in no time at all!

Check out the new Clear Choice Stairlifts website here.

If you think that your business would benefit from a bespoke website, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation web design quote.

Get a Quote >

Here we are again, the end of another busy week and there's plenty to report on! Amazon has rolled out a new fleet of Echo products, Google has rolled out its latest core update and we had a smashing coffee morning here in the office to support Macmillan! Let's dive into the details...

Google turns 21 years old!

This time 21 years ago, Google was emerging into the world, an infant search engine with unbelievable growth ahead. It's hard to believe that Google's creators had no idea how quickly they would monopolise the world of internet search. Here we are, September 27th exactly 21 years later and Google has become the most popular search engine worldwide! To mark the occasion, BBC Newsround shared 21 unusual facts about Google, we thought we'd share a few of our favourites with you here.

  • The first Google server was kept in a custom case made of Lego!
  • 15% of the searches made every day on Google have never been searched before.
  • Google has tonnes of little tricks that you might not know about. For example, when you Google the word 'askew' it makes all of your search results crooked (give it a try!)

Amazon release a range of new Echo products

This photograph was taken from www.theverge.com

Amazon have been very busy developing a new range of Echo products, all of which debuted this week! What's obvious from this product launch is that Amazon wants us to be able to take Alexa with us wherever we go. 

Alongside a new high-end Echo speaker, an Echo with an impressive smart display, and Echo Dot with an LED display, Amazon introduced a range of Echo products designed for use while you're out and about. The new Echo Buds are sure to be a contender with Apple's Airbuds, they're designed to reduce ambient noise and can access Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant depending on what phone you have. Handy!

Some of the new Echo products definitely fall into the category - Experimental Tech. For all you tech-savvy spectacle wearers, the Echo Frames might be of interest to you. The frames are designed to carry your normal prescription lenses but have Alexa built into the frame. When you ask Alexa a question, the frames use special speakers to project the response down into your ears so that others around you can't hear it. We're interested to see how consumers react to these, although so far responses seem good! 

Another original product is the Echo Loop. This is another way Amazon is allowing you to keep Alexa with you at all times. The Echo Loop is a small device that you can wear like a ring, it has a button you can press to access your Assistant, and you can even use it to receive and answer calls. So far, the experience of using the Echo Loop has been described as, like whispering secrets to Alexa and having her respond. Some may find this creepy, some may think it's ingenious, we'll leave you to decide. 

Google rolled out its core update

The September 2019 core update started rolling out this week. These core updates alter how Google ranks websites and how it determines what the most relevant content for each query is. You might see some changes in your website ranking, but Google provides advice on how to improve your ranking if your site is hit.

You can read it here >

Macmillan Coffee Morning

Ok, we had to give this an honourable mention. This morning we had a Macmillan coffee morning! The whole team put on a great spread, people baked and contributed a ton of delicious treats and we've raised over £100! 

To keep up with updates from around the tech and digital marketing world, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

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As we approach the end of September, the tech world doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Google has been rolling out some more exciting features, Huawei has released its next instalment of flagship phones and Apple's iOS13 is here! Let's take a look at the news highlights of the week...

Huawei Mate 30 Phones Launch Without Google Apps

This photo was taken from bbc.co.uk

So, let's start with some (potentially not good) news for Huawei users. It looks like their latest smartphones, the Mate 30 Pros, are launching without many of the pre-installed Google apps that Android users have come to expect. The apps missing include YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail amongst others.

As if that wasn't offputting enough, the phones don't have access to the Google Play store and instead rely on Huawei's equivalent app store, Huawei App Gallery. But will users tolerate this? Well, it's pretty safe to assume that these phones aren't going to appeal to everyone.

There might be a few die-hard Huawei users who are willing to tolerate the lack of Google services, but it's unlikely that these phones will be as popular as previous models.  Huawei is hoping the new hardware including four professional cameras will draw in the punters. We'll have to wait and see!

Google Search Introduces 'Key Moments' For Videos in Search

This picture was taken from searchengineland.com

It looks like Google have introduced another feature to help users find what they're looking for in YouTube videos quickly. The name of this feature? 'In this video' a tool that breaks videos up into useful chunks and highlights them on a timeline so the user can skip to the most relevant parts.

If you want this feature to work on your own video content, you need to make sure you're adding timestamps in the description of your videos. But why bother? Well, Google is all about getting content to the user in the quickest and most convenient way, so it's fairly safe to assume that videos with timestamps will rank higher than those without. We'll have to keep you updated on that though.

iOS 13.0 is Here

This photo was taken from theverge.com

You might remember from last week's roundup that Apple revealed a bunch of new products, but this week, the software update went live! iOS 13.0 is here and ready to download... but... it's not without faults. In fact, there are so many faults with iOS 13.0 that people are questioning if they've released it by mistake. Some of the key new features include dark mode and a new photo app, it's just a shame that they're accompanied by a bunch of bugs. Fear not though iOS 13.1 is just around the corner. 

If you want to see a full list of the new iOS 13 features, click here >

Amazon To Order 100,000 Electric Delivery Vans

This photo was taken from theverge.com

This story seems very fitting in the wake of the global Climate Strike taking place today! In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has supposedly ordered 100,000 of these electric delivery vans from Rivian. This announcement formed part of Besos' plan to combat climate change.

You may not have heard of Rivian before, but they've been releasing electric vehicles under the radar for some time now! The first of their vehicles, an electric pickup truck, was released just under a year ago, but it sounds like we could be seeing a lot more from them in the coming years. 

It's great to see such a huge and influential company taking steps towards a greener service this week. It's easy to imagine the vast carbon footprint Amazon has at the moment when you consider just how many Amazon parcels get delivered in a single day (somewhere in the region of 20 million). Let's hope that this is a step in the right direction that will inspire other companies to consider their environmental impact too! 

To keep up with updates from around the tech and digital marketing world, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

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It's been a short week for us here at Designer Websites as we all enjoyed a long weekend for August bank holiday. However, the SEO, PPC & technology worlds never stand still and plenty of exciting things have been happening this week! Let's take a look...

Competitor ads appear on local business profiles

This week people started noticing Google ads appearing in local business profiles. Up until now, businesses have had a perception of ownership or exclusivity on their business profiles, but of course - like everything else that appears in search results - business profiles are owned by Google. Here's an example of what these ads look like:

Photo from searchengineland.com

Here you can see a business profile for a Chrysler store in California. Below all of the contact options, you can see an ad for Valley Hi Toyota, a different car dealership that's over an hour away from the Chrysler dealer.

Will this be helpful for users? In a way, yes, especially when you're doing something more mundane than buying a new car. Let's say you're trying to find a Chinese restaurant for your Friday night takeaway, perhaps the one you select is closed tonight, but Google advertises one that's open - it will save users time and they might even like the new restaurant more! 

For business owners, this feature is likely to be more of a nuisance and, so far, the SEO community agrees. Google is essentially drawing potential customers away from your business as they view your business profile. Worse still, businesses can't pay to remove the ads so they're here to stay. 

Can humans keep up with AI?

Alibaba's Jack Ma and Tesla's founder Elon Musk took to the stage at an event in Shanghai to share their views on the potential future impact of artificial intelligence. Despite being two of the most influential leaders in the technology community, their predictions for the impact of AI couldn't have been any more different.

Photo from bbc.co.uk

Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma was 'quite optimistic' about the future of AI and suggested it's nothing to be scared of. Musk's response, 'I don't know man, that's like famous last words'. Musk believes that humans are simply the 'boot loader for digital super-intelligence', in layman's terms, a simple catalyst for its creation that will eventually be no longer needed. To avoid this fate, Musk suggests that we need to find a way to connect our brains to the computers so we can "go along for the ride with AI".

Despite their conflicting opinion on this topic, the two businessmen did agree that one of the biggest issues we face worldwide is population collapse. As more thing become automated and people starting to use more of their time for pleasure, both men predict a severe decline in population. They suggested that using AI to help people live longer and healthier lives could be part of the solution. 

Google tests content highlighting

Google have confirmed they are testing a new feature that will take users directly to the most relevant information on a page, depending on their query. Yep, Google is finding even more ways to serve users the information they want as quickly as possible, and we're not mad at it! Google originally introduced this feature on mobile, but it's now being trialled on desktop too.

Photo taken from searchengineland.com

So, here's how it works. Certain queries will show a featured snippet, the content of which is pulled from a source that Google considers highly-authoritative on the topic. When a user clicks the website shown in the snippet, Google with move the view down to the passage featured in the snippet to show users the most relevant content. 

 

Photo from searchengineland.com

This should provide an extra stream of traffic to well-optimised content as more chunks of it appear in search results. The best way for SEOs to stay on top of this is to keep an eye on whether their websites are doing this in Google search and rearrange or replace ads/call to actions in a more appropriate location on the page.

To keep up with further news and updates from around the tech and digital marketing world, be sure to follow Designer Websites on Twitter! See you next week. 

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