Switch to HTTPS

Here's something you might have seen recently if you use Google Chrome to browse the Internet:

Chrome Not Secure Warning

This scary red 'not secure' warning now appears in the Chrome address bar whenever you type something in on a non-HTTPS web page.

What does this mean for my website?

If your own web address still begins with HTTP rather than HTTPS, Chrome users will see the warning whenever they enter any information on your site. It doesn't matter whether they're entering their credit card number, searching for a product, or just commenting on your latest blog post - as soon as they start typing, Chrome will display that little red warning triangle and inform them that your website is not secure.

Obviously, this may put people off using your website, particularly if you're asking them to enter sensitive and/or personal information like their name, location, telephone number, email address, card details, etc.

(If your site is already under HTTPS, you don't need to worry - Google Chrome doesn't show the 'not secure' warning on HTTPS pages.)

Why is this happening?

Chrome already showed a 'not secure' warning on non-HTTPS pages that requested sensitive info such as passwords and payment details.

But Google made it clear some time ago that this warning would eventually be displayed on all non-HTTPS pages, and they recently made good on this promise. Now, if you use Google Chrome to visit any non-HTTPS page, you'll immediately see this notice in your address bar:

And if you start typing text into any text entry field on that non-HTTPS page, that warning will turn red, like this:

This is Chrome's way of letting you know that the information you're inputting will be sent over an unencrypted connection.

How can I make sure the 'not secure' warning doesn't appear on my site?

Simple: switch to HTTPS!

If your website address begins with http:// rather than https:// then Chrome will show your users the 'not secure' warning whenever they type something on your website. Under a HTTPS connection, all information is sent securely and encrypted to prevent unauthorised access. The same does not apply to a HTTP connection, which is why Chrome now shows this warning.

Online security is a big concern for Internet users nowadays. By switching from HTTP to HTTPS, you will not only be safeguarding yourself from Chrome's 'not secure' warning but also proving a bit of extra reassurance to your users. This will make them more likely to buy from you, or make an enquiry, or do whatever it is you want them to do. There is also some evidence that HTTPS websites rank better in the Google search results.

If you're a Designer Websites client and you'd like to switch from HTTP to HTTPS, please email info@designer-websites.co.uk or give us a call on 01446 339050.

Life Gear Website

We recently finished work on a brand new ecommerce website called Life-Gear.com. This site is home to a huge variety of different products, including:

  • Climbing equipment
  • Protective clothing
  • Festival gear
  • Off-road essentials

The website itself has a user-friendly design that adapts to the screen it's viewed on, allowing adventurers of all stripes to make purchases on the go using their smartphones. In addition to the secure online checkout system, this site includes the option to pay in three different currencies (pounds, euros and Emirati dirhams), enabling the company to sell their products to a huge international market.

Visit Life-Gear.com now to browse the website for yourself, or click here to request a quotation for your own ecommerce web design project.

Sweets in the City Website

Sweets in the City is the company that's jointly owned by BBC Apprentice winner Sarah Lynn and her business partner Lord Sugar. If you watched the latest series of The Apprentice on BBC One, you should already be familiar with Sweets in the City and the beautifully-presented sweet gifts that they sell. These customisable products make perfect presents for birthdays, anniversaries, and all sorts of other special occasions.

Sweet Gifts

As you may be aware, we at Designer Websites have worked with a number of Apprentice winners in the past, including Ricky Martin, Dr Leah Totton, Joseph Valente and Alana Spencer. After the 2017 final aired and Sarah was revealed as the joint winner (along with recruitment consultant James White), she approached us to ask if we would be willing to work our magic on the SitC website. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity!

The new Sweets in the City website

Work on the new and improved Sweets in the City website is now complete, and you can view it at www.sweetsinthecity.co.uk.

Here are some of the new features that we hope will make 2018 a sensationally sweet year for Sarah and her business:

  • Brand new design - Our skilled designers gave the SitC website a completely new look. We think it perfectly encapsulates the company's high-end credentials (their products are sold in Harrods and Selfridges, after all) while still retaining a strong sense of sweetness and fun.

  • Improved site navigation - We have made it easier to browse SitC's product range and find exactly the right gift for any given occasion. Website users can now search by price, recipient, occasion or theme.

  • Letterbox treats - One of the big ideas that secured Sarah's Apprentice victory was the option for customers to send small, letterbox-friendly sweet gifts through the post. This idea has now been realised, and the new SitC website allows you to choose from 10 different box designs, add your own personalised text, and fill the box with whatever sweets you think the recipient might fancy.

  • Option to buy in bulk - What if, instead of purchasing a lovingly hand-packaged assortment of your best friend's favourite sweets, you just want to order yourself three kilograms of cola bottles? Well, thanks to SitC's new 'bulk buy' page, now you can!

  • Improved back-end functionality - In addition to the above, we gave the back end of the SitC website a complete overhaul, making it easy for the company to control the content of their web pages.

The new Sweets in the City website is a fantastic example of what the Designer Websites team can do. Our designers, developers and SEO experts are adept at creating sites that are carefully tailored to the client's requirements and target audience - if you need a new website for your business, please get in touch now to request a FREE quotation.

BBC Apprentice Winners

Quick SEO Tips

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a pretty complex subject. Gone are the days when all you had to do was pick a keyword and stuff it into your page copy as many times as possible - if you want to conquer the Google results in 2018, there are all sorts of different factors you need to think about. And of course, since the algorithms are always changing, you'll need to keep your eyes open and stay abreast of all the latest updates if you don't want to be left behind.

Still, perhaps you're not looking to become an all-powerful SEO guru. Maybe you're just looking for a few quick tips that will help you boost your traffic without paying for ads. If that's the case, we hope that these 10 tips (brought to you by the Designer Websites SEO team) will serve you well:

1. Check your site's health on Google Search Console.

Google Search Console (google.com/webmasters/tools/home) is an indispensable tool that all website owners should use. Once you've added and verified your website, check out our beginner's guide to make sure you know what to look out for.

Oh, and while you're logged in...

2. Submit your sitemap to Google.

Go to the Crawl section in Google Search Console and select Sitemaps. This is where you can submit your website's XML sitemap file to Google - this makes it easier for the big G to index your content, and the Sitemaps tool will also inform you of any problems that are affecting pages you submit.

3. Take a good look at your title tags.

There are many different factors that decide whether a web page makes it into the top 10 Google results, but the page's title tag may be the most important of all. A page's title tag should ideally be no more than 60 characters in length, and it should be a clear, concise, and keyword-rich description of what that page is for.

Use Moz's title tag preview tool to see what your title tag will look like on Google (this is a good way to identify whether your title tag is too long).

4. Make sure your meta descriptions are snappy and engaging.

Unlike the title tag (see above), your page's meta description probably won't have a huge impact on rankings. However, it can make the difference between a Google user clicking on your result and scrolling straight past it.

You know the short paragraph of text that appears under most Google results? Very often, that blurb is pulled directly from the page's meta description.

So be sure to make all of your meta descriptions concise, engaging and punchy. Sell your product/service and explain why people should choose you over your competitors...but try to do it in as few words as possible! (Google recently extended the maximum length for meta descriptions, but we still recommend keeping them short and snappy where possible.)

5. Check for keyword cannibalisation.

Keyword cannibalisation occurs when a website has two (or more) pages competing against each other for a specific keyphrase. It should be avoided, since Google may not be able to discern which page you actually want to rank for the keyphrase in question.

For more information on keyword cannibalisation and how it can scupper your SEO efforts, read our blog on the subject here.

6. Claim your Google My Business listing.

Google My Business listings are crucial for local businesses with bricks-and-mortar locations that are open to the public, but even if your business is online-only, you should still think about claiming your listing. Go to google.co.uk/business and enter your company details so that Google can show more information about your business - don't worry, you can keep your address hidden if you don't want people turning up on your doorstep.

7. Link to high-authority websites.

Some people will tell you that you should never link out to other websites, but the evidence seems to suggest that outgoing links can have a positive effect on your rankings when done carefully. Just make sure that you're linking to authoritative sites that are relevant to the topic you're focusing on.

8. Share your knowledge in blog posts.

If your company's website doesn't have a blog, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to share your expertise and get your brand seen by a wider audience. Google loves in-depth, well-written articles from people who know what they're talking about, and nobody knows your business better than you do, so what are you waiting for? Get writing!

To make sure you're writing blog posts that will actually drive traffic to your website, we recommend using tools like Google Keyword Planner and AnswerThePublic.com to find out what people search for when they're looking for information on your specialist subject.

9. Add alt tags to your images.

Google's bots are very clever when it comes to understanding and indexing text-based content, but they're not so good with images. In order to help them index your images properly (and potentially show them as results on Google Images), you should make sure that every image on your website has an alt tag that gives an accurate description of what the image depicts.

Not only will this help you to capture traffic from image searches, it may also boost the perceived relevance of your pages if the alt tag is relevant to the keywords you're targeting. For example, if you're trying to rank for the term 'how to fix a dripping tap', your page may rank better if it features some pictures of taps, pipes, plumbers, and other related things/concepts.

10. Above all, focus on search intent and user experience.

Search engine optimisation shouldn't be an attempt to game the system or 'trick' Google into ranking your website. Ultimately, your goal should be the same as Google's goal: to give each user the best possible answer to their query.

So, when targeting a specific search term, make sure your page meets the needs expressed by that term and gives people the perfect online experience. This can mean any number of different things, such as:

  • Making key information stand out more
  • Improving your website design
  • Reducing your prices
  • Giving more details about your products
  • Being more transparent about who you are and what you do with the information you collect from users

These are just a few examples. Put yourself in the shoes of an average website user and go through your website from their point of view - is there anything that could be improved, or any parts of the buying journey that are needlessly complicated or fiddly?

For more help with this, read our blog about search intent.

Do you need someone to take a proper look at your website's SEO? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - we're great at boosting organic traffic and creating smooth user journeys!

Dr Kelly & Associates Website

From Doctorcall to Dr Leah, we at Designer Websites have a proud history of producing high-quality business websites for clinics and healthcare providers. Today, we're able to add another name to that list: Dr Kelly & Associates, a private clinic in the City of London.

Dr Kelly & Associates have been providing independent healthcare since 1989, and they offer a diverse range of services for individuals and organisations:

  • Private GP appointments
  • Home visits
  • Travel vaccinations and visa medical examinations
  • Employee health screenings
  • Walk-in STI clinic
  • Flu vaccinations

Why did Dr Kelly & Associates come to us?

The Dr Kelly team contacted Designer Websites because they needed a functional, professional-looking website that would allow them to showcase their wide range of services to corporate clients and potential patients. They also wanted to make it easier for users to:

  • Book clinic appointments online
  • Request doctor's visits online

We're pleased to announce that the new Dr Kelly website is now live - visit www.drkellys.co.uk to see our latest work. Not only does the website look great, we believe that the online booking system makes it super-simple to select the type of appointment you need, choose your preferred date, and pay for your appointment online.

Do you need a new website for your business? Contact Designer Websites now to request a free quotation!

Why Won't My Website Show Up on Google?

It's frustrating when your website can't break onto the first page of Google results for that high-volume keyword you've been trying to target, but it's even more frustrating when your website isn't showing up on Google at all.

Why does this happen?

In order for a page to appear as a Google result, it has to be included in Google's index.

When Google notices a new website for the first time, its bots 'crawl' the site and report back so that the site's pages can be added to the index. However, Google don't index all pages indiscriminately – even they don't have the luxury of unlimited server space.

For this reason, if a page doesn't meet certain requirements, Google won't bother to index it. Their algorithm might even decide that none of your pages add any value to the Internet, in which case your whole website may be excluded from the index. And if you're not in the index, you can't show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Check to see if you're indexed

If you think Google isn't showing your website in the search results – even for terms that you really ought to be ranking for – the first thing to do is find out whether or not you're even indexed.

Here's how to do that:

1. Open Google Chrome (or go to google.com).

2. Type your website's URL into the search bar, preceded by 'site:'. For instance:

Google site: search

3. Hit search. Google should now show you a list of your web pages - if none of them are indexed, you'll see a message like this:

No Results Found

If you use Google Search Console to manage your website, you can instead log in and take a look at the Index Status report. This tells you how many of your pages Google currently has indexed, if any.

If none of your pages are indexed...

Here are some of the most common reasons for Google to exclude an entire website from the index:

  • Google hasn't noticed your website yet. If your website only recently went live, it may just be that Google's bots need a little longer to get around to crawling it. You can hurry them along by adding your site in Google Search Console and submitting your sitemap file in the Sitemaps report (or using the Fetch as Google tool – be sure to click 'Submit to index').

  • Google's bots can't access your pages. If your web developer has mistakenly a) blocked your website in the robots.txt file, or b) placed a 'noindex' tag on pages that are supposed to be indexed, this will prevent Google from accessing and indexing your content. If neither of these apply, there are several other reasons why Google may be unable to view your site – perhaps your site was down when Google attempted to crawl it, or maybe your pages take too long to load or cannot be viewed without logging in.

  • Google has penalised your website by de-indexing it. Sometimes, Google will exclude websites from the index as a punishment for breaching the search engine's guidelines. If you have been engaging in unnatural link building practices, filling your site with low-quality or duplicated content, or otherwise doing something you shouldn't have been, your absence from the Google SERPs may be a direct result of your bad behaviour.

If your pages are indexed...

So you've checked, and your website is indexed – you're just not ranking for the keywords you care about. Here are some possible explanations for that:

  • All of your pages are indexed...except the one that matters. Just because most of your site is indexed doesn't necessarily mean that the bots haven't missed something. It may be that a crucial page has been excluded, probably because its content is too similar to that of another page on your site. Google won't waste server space indexing two pages that are near-identical, so make sure your key landing pages aren't being edged out by other, lower-priority pages.

  • Your content needs to be improved. It may be that you're not ranking for that high-volume keyword because Google doesn't think your content meets the needs that the query expresses. Look at the sites that do rank for your chosen keyword, then compare them to your site – what do they do that yours doesn't? Do they provide a better answer to the searcher's question? Does their user interface provide a better, smoother journey? Do they offer a better product range, or more information on the products they sell? Ask yourself these questions and make sure your pages are as good as they can be.

  • You need to boost your website's ranking signals. If all of your pages are indexed and your content is utterly perfect...and you're still not showing up in the SERPs...it may simply be that your website doesn't carry as much weight as other sites do. Google's algorithm takes dozens of different factors into account when deciding which websites should rank the highest, but links are among the most important ranking factors of all. If your competitors have links from lots of high-authority websites (e.g. trusted news outlets, authoritative academic resources, popular content platforms like Buzzfeed), then you'll probably need to get some similarly high-powered links – AND make sure that your content is better than everyone else's – in order to outrank them.

If you need help getting your website ranked, please get in touch with the website optimisation experts at Designer Websites. Contact us now to discuss your requirements.

New Google Search Console

About a month ago, Google announced via their Webmaster Central Blog that the new version of Search Console (originally made available to a limited set of users in August 2017) was going to be released to all site owners who use the tool. The big roll-out has taken a few weeks, but the majority of users are now able to access the redesigned Search Console interface.

Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) in an indispensable tool for website owners, and so we'd like to take a moment to walk you through the new version and explain hpw it can be used. The new Search Console is still being built, and certain reports have not yet been migrated into the new version, but what is there is well worth exploring if you're serious about looking after your website's health.

How do I view the new Search Console?

To access the new version of Google Search Console, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to www.google.com/webmasters and click the big green 'SEARCH CONSOLE' button.

  2. Sign into your Google account to continue.

  3. Once you're on the Search Console home screen, select the property (website) you'd like to manage.

  4. Go to your Messages (under 'Dashboard' in menu).

  5. Look for a message with the title 'Introducing the new Search Console for [website URL]' and open it up. (If you haven't received this message then you probably don't have access to the new Search Console yet - it is still being rolled out, so be patient and you should be granted access soon.)

  6. Click the 'Open the new Search Console' button in the body of the message.

I'm in! So what's new?

The first thing you'll notice upon accessing your new and improved Search Console is the sleek new design.

New Google Search Console

As we've already mentioned, the new Search Console doesn't yet offer as many different reports as its predecessor. The main features of the new version are as follows:

  • Performance
  • Index coverage
  • AMP
  • Sitemaps

Let's familiarise ourselves with these reports one at a time...

Search Console Performance Report

Performance

The 'Performance' report is more or less identical to the 'Search Traffic' report in Search Console Classic. The interface is a little different, and interestingly, there appears to be some disparity between the data in the 'Performance' and 'Search Traffic' reports, but it's still essentially the same tool. Use it to see which queries drive clicks/impressions for your website.

 

Search Console Index Coverage Report

Index coverage

Of all the features that the new Search Console brings to the table, its 'Index coverage' report is unquestionably the most exciting. One of the most frustrating things about using the old Search Console was spotting that Google hadn't indexed some of your pages...but having no way to find out which pages the algorithm had passed over.

The 'Index coverage' report aims to give site owners a clearer idea of which pages have and haven't been indexed (and, more importantly, why). Blind Five Year Old wrote an in-depth blog post about this report back in October, but here's a quick summary of what 'Index coverage' shows you:

  • Error - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed because of some kind of error (e.g. server error).

  • Valid with warnings - Pages that HAVE been indexed, but with some issues that you may want to inspect.

  • Valid - Pages that HAVE been indexed successfully.

  • Excluded - Pages that HAVEN'T been indexed, usually (though not always) intentionally. For instance, a page with the 'noindex' tag or a canonical tag that points to an alternate URL will show up in this section of the report.

This report makes it easier than ever before to see which of your pages aren't getting indexed, and to establish what you need to do about it.

 

Search Console AMP Report

AMP

If your website includes any AMP content, this report is worth keeping an eye on as it will inform you of any errors on your accelerated mobile pages. This isn't anything new, though - the old version of Search Console includes a very similar report under Search Appearance > Accelerated Mobile Pages.

 

Search Console Sitemaps Report

Sitemaps

Again, this is just a nicer-looking version of a tool that we've been using for years (find it in the old Search Console under Crawl > Sitemaps). You can submit sitemaps and check the status of all submitted sitemaps here; handily, you can also click through to an 'Index coverage' report for each sitemap you've submitted.

And that's just about it - for now, anyway. Google are still building the new Search Console, so keep your eyes peeled for additional reports as 2018 progresses.

Do you need an expert to look after your website and make sure it's running at peak performance? Contact Designer Websites today - our website optimisation specialists will help you to achieve online success!

New Label Source Website

Label Source are a UK-based business who supply a comprehensive range of labels, tags and signs to customers all over the world. Their product range is too diverse to list in full right now, but here are just a few examples of what they offer:

  • Asset tags
  • Electrical warning labels
  • Workplace safety signs
  • Pipeline identification tape
  • Quality assurance labels
  • Warehouse markers
  • Shipping labels

Label Source recently asked us to give their old website a new, more modern-looking design; more specifically, they wanted to make it easier for smartphone and tablet users to view Label Source's products and make purchases online.

We're pleased to announce that Label Source's new and improved website is now live - visit www.labelsource.co.uk now to see how it looks.

What's new?

In addition to the clean, professional new look that we created for the Label Source website, we also made the following changes:

  • Responsive Design - As mentioned above, one of this project's key aims was to ensure a good user experience on smartphones and other mobile devices. The new Label Source site has a fully responsive design that looks great and is easy to navigate on screens of all sizes.

  • HTTPS Encryption - The entire Label Source website is now under HTTPS (as opposed to HTTP). This means that all information entered on the Label Source site is now sent securely, so the company's customers can place orders safe in the knowledge that their data is encrypted.

  • Improved Back End - We also updated the back end of the Label Source website to make it easier for the company to manage their product options and category pages.

Do you have an ecommerce website that's in need of a redesign? Contact Designer Websites for a quotation!

Slide Candy's new website

Ski season is upon us once again, and with many thousands of people set to hit the slopes between now and the spring thaw, Slide Candy - a ski equipment rental company serving the Méribel and La Tania resorts in France - wanted to make sure that their online presence was in peak condition.

The Slide Candy team asked Designer Websites to give their site a modern new look that would appeal to skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. Their new and improved website is now live - visit www.slidecandy.com to view it.

Here are just a few of the features that we built into the new Slide Candy site:

  • Responsive Design - Slide Candy were concerned that their old site was difficult to use on mobile devices. Our designers came up with a stylish new design that (in addition to looking great) is totally mobile-friendly, making it easy for skiers to book equipment and make use of Slide Candy's call-out service while out and about.

  • Improved User Interface - The Slide Candy site allows snow sports enthusiasts to reserve their equipment in advance via an online booking system. While overhauling the website, we made this booking system better-looking and simpler to navigate, making it easier than ever to get the right equipment for your French skiing holiday. You can even choose whether to pay in pounds or euros.

  • Product Information - On the new website, the products that Slide Candy sell (including skis, snowboards, boots and helmets) are conveniently sorted into four different categories: Blue, Red, Black, and Kids. This makes it easy to find the right ski equipment for your ability level, and the high-quality product images make sure you know exactly what you're hiring.

If you like the look of the new Slide Candy website and you want the Designer Websites team to create a responsive ecommerce site for your business, please get in touch today to request a quote.

New Sandison Easson Website

With offices in both Cheshire and London, Sandison Easson & Co. are among the UK's leading medical accounting firms. Catering exclusively to clients in the medical and dental fields, the Sandison Easson team provide a wide variety of specialist services, including:

  • Annual accounts
  • Tax declarations
  • Bookkeeping
  • Business structure advice

The firm's clients include GP practices, consultants, registrars, and dental clinics.

Why did Sandison Easson come to us?

The Sandison Easson team got in touch with Designer Websites because their website was old, dated, and not particularly representative of the highly professional service they provide. We were asked to design and develop a responsive brochure website that would meet the following criteria:

  • Design tailored to Sandison Easson's target audience (doctors, dentists, practice managers, etc.)
  • Information about the firm's services presented in a clear, easy-to-digest format
  • Emphasis on Sandison Easson's status as highly knowledgeable and experienced specialists

In addition to the mobile-friendly design and easy-to-use enquiry form, the new Sandison Easson website features a professional-looking 'Meet the Team' page, a client login function, and a blog where the firm will be able to share all their latest updates and insights. See the site for yourself at www.sandisoneasson.co.uk.

If you need a professional-looking website for your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Designer Websites. Request a free, no-obligation quote for your project here.

One Wales Energy website

The people of Wales spend approximately £1.4 billion on electricity and gas every year. Very little of that money stays in Wales, with most of it going into the coffers of large energy suppliers based in other parts of the UK.

But a new Welsh energy company called One Wales Energy / Un Ynni Cymru are looking to change that. All of the company's operations (including their contact centre) are based right here in Wales, meaning that their customers' energy fees will be going back into the Welsh economy instead of leaving the country. One Wales Energy / Un Ynni Cymru have also pledged to improve the wellbeing of Welsh communities via a Charitable Foundation and a Community Affiliate Scheme that allows local groups to raise funds by recommending One Wales to their members.

As a proudly Welsh company, we at Designer Websites were very happy when One Wales Energy asked us to create a new website for them. Their goal was to drive pre-registrations from people who are interested in changing energy suppliers (the company are planning launch their service in early 2018), so we knew that the site would need to communicate the company's key selling points - competitive rates, simple tariffs, a commitment to working towards sustainability, and of course the benefits for Wales and its communities - in a clear, appealing fashion.

The new One Wales Energy / Un Ynni Cymru website is now live - click here to view it. The site features:

  • Responsive, mobile-friendly design
  • Bilingual content (site can be viewed in English or Welsh)
  • Blog engine for sharing news and updates
  • Search engine optimisation to improve the site's online visibility
  • User-friendly enquiry form for those interested in changing suppliers or becoming an affiliate

Does your business need a new website? Contact Designer Websites today to request a quotation.

Search Intent

Since it was launched all the way back in 1997, Google Search has grown increasingly sophisticated and intelligent. Where once it simply looked at your search term and gave you a list of web pages containing that term, the search engine's algorithm can now understand and interpret queries on an almost-human level.

This acute understanding of search intent is visible in the highly-tailored results that Google now delivers whenever a search is performed. Here's just one example:

  • The search term 'swimming pool' usually indicates an intent to go swimming, and so Google responds to this query with a list of local pools and leisure centres.

  • However, if you type 'swimming cap' into Google, the results page is dominated by shopping results. This is because the algorithm has deduced from your search term that you're looking to buy something.

  • Now type in 'swimming rules' and notice how most of the results are information-based. There's a featured snippet, along with a 'People also ask' section that answers a variety of swimming-related questions. All of this indicates that Google interpreted your query as an attempt to learn about swimming.

Three very similar searches, three very different sets of results.

Swimming search results

This example demonstrates just how much Google (and its competitors - you'll get similar results if you try the same experiment on Bing or Yahoo) can now read into our search queries. Superficially, the phrases 'swimming pool' and 'swimming cap' are very much alike, but modern search engine algorithms have a very strong grasp of what different words mean and - more importantly - what we mean when we use those words.

How was this achieved?

Google and the other search engines didn't get this clever overnight. Their current level of sophistication is the result of years of testing and fine-tuning and gradual improvement.

In Google's case, a technology called RankBrain is largely to thank for the algorithm's advanced understanding of search intent. RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that learns as people search; when you google a phrase that RankBrain hasn't seen before, it makes an educated guess based on the meanings and common usages of the words you entered, then serves up results accordingly.

Here's what this process might look like in action:

  • You want to go and see the new family movie Penelope and the Magic Pencil at the cinema.

  • You go to google.co.uk and type in 'penelope magic pencil screenings'.

  • Google's algorithm doesn't immediately understand what you mean, but RankBrain knows that the word 'screenings' is semantically related to movies and cinemas.

  • Armed with this insight, Google now looks for cinema-related results that contain the words 'penelope', 'magic' and/or 'pencil'.

  • The best results are served to you via the Google results page. If Google can see your current location, the results are probably sourced from cinemas in your local area.

(In reality, of course, Google's all-knowing algorithm would already be aware of the Magic Pencil film and would thus have a far better clue as to what you were after. This is just a hypothetical example that shows how RankBrain can infer meaning from what looks at first glance like a string of random, unrelated words.)

So what does this mean for my website?

As Google has become more and more sophisticated, website owners who rely on organic Google traffic have had to become more and more sophisticated in their tactics. Ranking on the first page of Google results is no longer as simple as picking a popular keyphrase and using that phrase a certain number of times within your page copy; even if your page has a tonne of great links from high-authority websites, this won't necessarily guarantee you a high organic ranking in the current search climate. Google now prioritise search intent above all else, which means that webmasters and SEOs must do the same.

In order to get the very best results, search intent should be kept in mind throughout the entire website optimisation process, starting with keyword selection. Let's say you're setting up a new online sports equipment store - you're trying to decide what kind of searches you want to show up for, so the first thing you do is visit Keyword Planner and type in 'sporting goods' to see what gets the most searches.

When you order the resulting list of keywords by number of searches, it looks something like this:

  • sprinter (12,100 searches per month)
  • sporting (9,900 searches per month)
  • sports clothing (8,100 searches per month)

Lots and lots of people enter the words 'sprinter' and 'sporting' into Google every month, but trying to capture that traffic with a sporting goods website would be virtually pointless because the vast majority of those people won't be looking to buy sports equipment. Instead of picking the most popular term you can find that's vaguely related to sports, it's far better to pick a term that reflects the intent of your target audience.

Here's another example. According to Keyword Planner, 1.5 million people google the word 'tennis' every month, whereas the term 'buy tennis shoes' only gets a few thousand searches in an entire year. However, the 'buy tennis shoes' people are a far better match, intent-wise, for your ecommerce website than the people who simply type in 'tennis' - they could be looking for player rankings, or match reports, or information on the sport itself, whereas you wouldn't type in 'buy tennis shoes' if you weren't at least thinking of buying some tennis shoes.

If you're not sure whether the keywords you've chosen are a good fit for your website, google them! The results that pop up should give you a pretty good idea of what people mean when they use each term. For instance, most of the results for 'best football boots' are informative articles and lists, suggesting that Google sees this as a learn term rather than a buy term.

Best Football Boots

This keyword might be worth targeting with an informative, well-written blog post, but your shop page probably isn't a good fit.

By contrast, the results for 'cheap football boots' are all online stores where you can buy football boots, indicating that this term is a better match for your store's footwear department.

Cheap Football Boots

Creating intent-optimised pages

So you've chosen a good set of keywords that are highly relevant to your website and what it has to offer. The next challenge is actually ranking for those keywords (i.e. appearing among the top results when somebody types one of those keywords into Google). To do this, you'll need to create content that meets the needs of your target audience.

What that doesn't mean is writing a thousand words about your chosen topic. As we explained earlier, it's not enough to just repeat your keywords over and over again and hope that Google will take the hint. You need to properly assess the intent behind each term you're targeting, then craft a high-quality web page that satisfies that intent.

We've already seen several examples of what that looks like in practice. You want to be the #1 result for 'best football boots'? You need to research the latest products and write a thorough article that lists the best boots and explains what makes them so great. More interested in showing up for 'cheap football boots'? In that case, you need to make sure you've got a secure, smooth-functioning ecommerce website that makes it easy for people to buy boots online, and at genuinely low prices.

Again, if you're not sure what kind of content you need to create for the keyphrase you're targeting, head to Google and see what already ranks on page 1. This will tell you what Google considers a good, relevant result for that query.

Do I still have to worry about writing keyword-rich copy?

This debate has been raging for quite a while now. Back in the day, targeting a particular keyphrase meant including that phrase in your website copy as many times as you possibly could. Known as keyword stuffing, this practice is best avoided in 2017 because the Google algorithm now penalises websites that do it.

With that in mind, it's best to take a more cautious approach these days: use your keyphrase frequently, but NOT to the point of sounding 'unnatural'. The litmus test is to read your content aloud - as long as it sounds like something a human might actually say, you're probably safe. Here's an example...

  • OK: Looking for cheap football boots? You've come to the right place! Here's at Charlie's, we've got a huge range of brand-name football boots at bargain prices. Our boots may be cheap, but they're certainly not lacking in quality - check out all these 5-star reviews from our previous customers!

  • NOT OK: Welcome to Charlie's cheap football boots store, the best place to buy cheap football boots online! We have a huge range of cheap football boots to choose from - order your cheap football boots now, or read our reviews to see what other customers think of our cheap football boots!

Nowadays, most SEO authorities agree that keyword density is nowhere near as important as tailoring your content to search intent. In other words, identify the need that you're trying to meet, then write copy that's suited to that need. Somebody who wants to buy a toaster is going to be more interested in your prices, your website layout, and the security of your online checkout system than in how many times you've written the word 'toaster'.

However, while this principle - 'make web pages for users, not search engines' - sounds reasonable enough in theory, it's a bit muddier than that in practice. While search engines are incredibly intelligent, they're still nowhere near as intuitive as actual human beings, and Google do still rely on keyword matching to some extent. Remember our Penelope and the Magic Pencil example from earlier? Your cinema won't show up for a term like that unless you've got the name of the film somewhere on your page, just as your sports store probably won't rank for 'cheap football boots' unless you've used the word 'football' in your copy at least once or twice.

Put your keywords in the right places.

The main difference between SEO in 2007 and SEO in 2017 is that, when it comes to keyword insertion, quantity doesn't really matter. Don't worry about keyword density or anything like that - instead, focus on making sure that your keywords are present in the places that count.

In rough order of importance, these are:

  • Page title tag. This should be a succinct summary (approx. 40-60 characters) of what your page is about. You definitely need to include your primary keyword here if you're going to have a shot at ranking.

  • URL. We're not suggesting that your domain name ought to be www.yourkeyword.com (in fact, Google have penalised unnaturally keyword-rich domain names in the past), but it's a good idea to look to your keyword list when choosing URLs for your internal pages. This isn't essential, and you definitely shouldn't create spammy-looking URLs just for the sake of getting your keywords in, but it makes it easier for search engines if your football boots page is actually called /football-boots rather than /store/category/footwear/46.

  • H1 heading. As long as it makes sense from the user's point of view, you should try to include your main keyphrase in your page's main (h1) heading. Some people will tell you that your h1 and your title tag have to be different from one another, but Google won't mind if they're identical; indeed, this might make more sense from a user perspective, since the heading on the page will match the heading of the Google result they clicked on.

  • Alt tags. Every image on your website should have an alt tag (a piece of HTML that tells search engine bots - who can't see pictures like we can - what an image depicts). If the images on your page are relevant to that page's content, it should be relatively easy to include your keyphrase in at least one alt tag. Consider using synonyms and variations of your keyphrase so that you're not using the same tag for every image - for example, if you've already got an image tagged 'football boots', you could use 'soccer boots' or 'nike football boots' for the other images on that page.

  • Meta description. The meta description (usually) serves as the little snippet of text underneath your link in the Google results page. This should be around 150 characters in length, and while it doesn't seem to have much of an impact on ranking, it's worth including your primary keyword(s) here too if it's reasonable to do so. However, the main aim of your meta description is to give readers a reason to click through to your website - so make sure it's enticing!

As far as the actual body text of your page is concerned, you shouldn't really have to think about whether or not to include your keywords: it's difficult to write even a few sentences about football boots without using the term 'football boots'. Bear in mind also that RankBrain assesses meaning and relevance based on the semantic relationships between different words and phrases, so a page that mentions 'football boots' over and over again probably won't rank as well as a page that uses lots of different football- and boot-related terms (goal, pitch, striker, tackle, kick, grip, studs, and so forth).

Summing up

Here's a basic plan to follow when trying to optimise a website for search intent:

  • Identify keywords that are relevant to your website and express clear intent to do/buy/learn whatever it is you're offering.

  • Use Google to see what sort of content currently ranks for those keywords. In-depth articles? Online shops? Local business listings?

  • Create content that meets the needs expressed by the keywords you're targeting.

  • Be sure to use your keywords in the right places (title tag, h1 heading, et cetera) while still focusing on helping the user and meeting their needs.

Of course, this is just the first step - links, reviews, blog posts, social shares, and lots of other things are often necessary to make it onto the first page. However, if you follow this plan, you'll have a strong chance of eventually achieving high rankings and capturing lots of high-quality traffic that actually converts.

If you need help driving organic traffic to your website, get in touch with Designer Websites - our SEO experts can help you to select the right keywords, create the right content, and reach the right people.

Go Theory Website

One of the most daunting parts of learning to drive is taking your driving theory test. If you're worried about failing your theory test or missing something important during the hazard perception video, our latest project may well be of interest to you: Go Theory is a new service that allows learner drivers to revise their theory knowledge, take practice tests, and even watch sample hazard perception clips online.

Designed and developed by the team here at Designer Websites, the Go Theory site also features an audio description service (for people who prefer to learn by listening) and a number of display options for dyslexic users. It really is the ultimate way to prepare for your driving theory test, and we're very proud to have worked on such a useful and inclusive website.

All Go Theory users get a free 48-hour trial of the service - to create your account, go to www.gotheory.co.uk now!

Silver Fern Therapy Website

Silver Fern Therapy provide a variety of services across England and Wales, including:

  • Locum wheelchair therapists for clinics, nursing homes, etc.
  • Wheelchair assessments to help wheelchair users get the right chair for their requirements
  • Ergonomic consultants to help companies design and manufacture people-friendly products

Silver Fern recently contacted us because they needed a functional, professional-looking brochure website through which to advertise these services. That website - designed, developed and optimised by the team here at Designer Websites - went live earlier this week, and you can view it here: www.silverferntherapy.co.uk

In addition to the responsive design that we created for Silver Fern Therapy, we also provided the following:

  • Enquiry forms that make it easy for visitors to enquire about the company's various services
  • CV upload option that allows therapists to apply for work
  • Blog engine, allowing the Silver Fern team to publish news and updates with ease
  • Search engine optimisation, targeting a range of relevant keywords

Do you need a user-friendly website for your business? Click here to request a quote from Designer Websites.

Recently, a long-time client of ours got in touch to ask if we could help him to expand his business into a potentially lucrative new realm. As an experienced ISO 9001 consultant specialising in the planning and implementation of  quality management systems, he wanted to offer small- to medium-sized businesses a faster, easier way to get ISO certification, and that's where the idea for ISO Accelerator came from.

Launched last week, ISO Accelerator is a new website that allows British organisations to get their ISO 9001 certification sorted out online. In case you've never been through it yourself, the ISO 9001 accreditation process tends be rather drawn-out, usually requiring multiple site visits and consultations before certification is finally awarded. However, with ISO Accelerator, small/medium-sized businesses can condense the whole process down to as little as 7 days.

This service is explained in detail over on the ISO Accelerator website, which we designed to ensure that the fast-track certification process really was as smooth and as streamlined as possible for each user. The website is responsive (so it works just as well on mobile devices as on desktop PCs), and the clear, professional-looking design instils trust in the user and helps them to understand every step of the process before getting started. Visit www.iso-accelerator.co.uk to take a closer look.

Do you need a winning website to get your business idea off the ground? Contact Designer Websites today!