It’s long been said that “content is king” in the modern world of online marketing. It’s no secret – Bill Gates famously made that statement way back in 1996.

Since then, it’s become a facepalm-inducing catchphrase for high-ranking bigwigs the world over, right up there with other classic business BS like “low-hanging fruit”, “moving the needle” and “peeling the onion”.

However, unlike the needle-moving, onion-peeling fruit-grabbers of the world, the “content is king” mantra is actually backed by some pretty solid substance.

Quality content that’s both informative and engaging is a winner on all levels: increasing leads, enhancing brand awareness and strengthening customer relationships, ultimately boosting revenue as a result.

That being said, if content is king, then quality writers are akin to royal advisors, entrusted with providing the king with a healthy supply of quality insight, accurate information and razor-sharp wit.

However, quality writers are hard to find – especially ones that are more gooder!

As such, companies often take one of two routes: hiring in-house writers or drafting in external ringers through outsourcing. Both offer their own pros and cons, but which is better?

 

sourcing content,in house content,outsourcing content 

 

Differences Between In-House and Outsourcing

While both options ultimately offer the same end-result, the fundamental difference between the two is as follows.

Outsourcing involves hiring a third-party that’s independent of the business to provide content for your company. Meanwhile, in-house production (aka insourcing) involves a dedicated team or specified individuals on staff who are assigned to the task of writing content.

Depending on your company’s approach to content marketing, you may be more familiar with one than the other; however, it’s well worth getting acquainted with both. You never know when you may need to flip the script and rely on the road less travelled.

 

Benefits of In-House Content

 Perhaps the biggest benefit of having an on-site team of content staff is their loyalty and connection to the company. An employed team of contributors that are a genuine part of the brand will likely care far more about the company than a team of non-partisan outsiders.

This affinity for the brand often results in a relationship that’s inimitable in an agency setting, leading the workers to be more motivated to positively contribute as a result. This contribution can also be incentivised further by the possibility of rewards, bonuses or even potential promotion.

Meanwhile, a team of on-site staff will also have an in-depth knowledge of your company goals, values and services, effectively streamlining the whole content creating process – from briefing to proofing – while also providing a better level of content contextualisation.

Additionally, a team of on-site workers will answer to one boss and be both governable and supervised, undistracted by other clients’ demands and deadlines. If you need some content done by a certain time, no other tasks will take precedent over yours.

That being said, hiring staff that are inexperienced or underqualified in the pursuit of saving money can be a fruitless labour that does more damage than good. If you are going to invest in an in-house team, don’t cut corners and hire the best candidate, not the cheapest.

 

Benefits of Outsourcing Content

While in-house content can be great for familiarity, outsourcing can be the perfect way to provide a fresh perspective from someone outside of the office bubble. This can often result in new and exciting ideas, a novel approach and a fresh tone of voice that is both engaging and notably different from an in-house team.

Meanwhile, outsourcing also provides you with a team of widely experienced professionals that don’t need any training, coaching or development. From a budgetary POV, this can be extremely useful; not only does it give you access to an entire team of on-demand professionals but it also allows you to fluctuate the workload depending on budget constraints.

Speaking of budget, outsourcing can also be a great option for those companies working to tighter purse strings, that may not have the financial resources to hire full-time content staff. Meanwhile, some businesses may not require such a high volume of content to necessitate a dedicated staff member or team, making outsourcing a cost-effective alternative.

However, while it can be more financially beneficial for businesses that don’t require a high-frequency of work, the phrase “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” is also very applicable here. While it’s always important not to overpay, content writing is very much a business where you get what you pay for and this is one area you won’t want to penny-pinch.

 

Best of Both Worlds

Even if you do opt for the in-house approach, you may find yourself in a situation where additional workload, unforeseen tasks and looming deadlines can see you snowed under in no time. Should this be the case, outsourcing can be a great safety net to have.

A blended approach can be extremely useful, offering the best of both worlds. As such, it may be worth having a trustworthy source in mind for third-party content, should busy periods warrant an extra pair of hands.

What’s more, a cocktail of in-house/outsourced content can be a truly symbiotic relationship that serves to boost both methods. External content can motivate in-house staff and vice versa, creating a healthy competition of sorts.

After all, as they say, you’re only as good as your competition and it’s a lot easier to run fast when you’re being chased. Creating an environment where you’re not restricted to one option can be the perfect sweet spot for a thriving creative environment.

 

For more information on content sourcing or content services from Designer Websites, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 01446 339050 or get in touch online using the button below.

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In the world of SEO and content marketing, there’s no disputing that content is indeed king. However, not all kings are created equally.

Like any monarch, a good king wants to reign for as long as possible and, in the world of SEO, the true king of longevity is undoubtedly evergreen content.

 

evergreen content

 

What is evergreen content?

Okay, before we go any further, let’s put a label on evergreen content so we know exactly what we’re dealing with here.

Taking its name from the evergreen tree that maintains its leaves all year-round, evergreen content is content that stays relevant long after its initial publication date.

For example, a blog titled “Fashion Tips for 2019” will automatically become dated the moment 2020 hits, not to mention the content within it will be very much seasonal and specific to that time period.

Conversely, a blog based on the subject of “How to Get Bigger Biceps” may still be relevant in ten months, if not ten years times, provided the text within it doesn’t refer to anything topical at the time of publication.

 

Benefits of evergreen content

Most content, particularly newsworthy posts and topical reporting, stays relevant for a relatively short period of time.

Take a review of a football match, for example. While the article may receive a lot of attention upon publication, the hits will significantly drop off in next to no time, as the story quite literally becomes “yesterday’s news”.

Meanwhile, evergreen content will remain consistently applicable, regardless of when you view it. As such, the KPIs of evergreen content are a steady flow of traffic over time, self-generating repeated backlinks and healthy amounts of sharing over social media.

When it comes to content marketing ROI, evergreen content also provides excellent economical value. While it may take a little longer to produce and require more time and attention to detail, the end result will last and provide a far greater return over time.

 

Creating evergreen content

If you’re looking to create long-lasting content for your site, there are a number of tips for evergreen content that are well worth keeping in mind.

Here are a few different ways to approach your content in pursuit of evergreen pastures.

 

Get educated

Content that’s designed to educate and inform is a great starting point when it comes to creating evergreen content. “How To” guides and FAQs are prime examples of this, providing a solid base for useful information that can be relevant long after it’s published.

For example, if you own a website that sells musical instruments, a post detailing how to change guitar strings is pertinent and won’t become dated any time soon.

Meanwhile, a history site that posts factual blogs dedicated to historical events is unlikely to feature information that changes over time, barring any new evidence or scientific breakthroughs.

 

Be practical

Similarly, practical content that can be used by the reader can also stand the test of time. This is particularly applicable to content that promotes personal growth and self-betterment.

Useful information that can be applied in the real world in a manner that’s not tethered to a specific time period can live a long and prosperous life, even in the fast-paced environment of today’s modern world.

For a prime example of this, look no further than How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie’s self-help classic was first published pre-WW2 in 1936 and still sells in bundles to this day.

 

Vital statistics

Research, results and statistical information are also key players when it comes to evergreen content. Authoritative content backed by supporting evidence is also a magnet for backlinks, which can be invaluable for SEO.

While date stamping and time referencing is generally to be avoided when constructing evergreen content, research and statistical info are somewhat of an anomaly, as information such as this can often be referred back to after the fact and still be deemed useful.

For example, a post studying crime rates in the UK can be utilised years after the fact as a point of reference for comparative purposes, providing a useful means of measuring positive or negative change and trends.

 

Subject matters

The topic itself can also have a heavy influence on the longevity of an article, with fast-moving industries that are constantly evolving typically breeding posts with a shorter shelf life.

Subjects such as fashion, sport and politics where a revolving door of news is commonplace often feature content that becomes old extremely quickly. Meanwhile, steady topics that remain relatively constant over time – such as health, careers, parenting, etc – can prosper long into the future.

After all, career advice from the 1980s can still be relevant today. Fashion advice, not so much.

 

Stand out

If your site produces content at a rapid pace over the course of the day, week or month, it won’t take long for your evergreen content to become buried beneath other content that may not be as enduring.

To keep your evergreen content strong in the public consciousness, it may be worth adding an additional tab or drop down in your site navigation, such as “Top Blogs” or “Guides”.

This can help highlight these pages and make them stand out from the crowd of daily blogs and content.

It also allows you to expose your visitors to your evergreen content in a far simpler manner, without requiring them to dig through pages of historical content to find them.

 

For more information on content and SEO, give us a call today on 01446 339050 or hit the button below to get in touch online.

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seo tips 2019

For any business that relies heavily on web content and online activity, the importance of SEO cannot be overstated.

Poor SEO can make even the most engaging content underperform and, in some cases, seem virtually invisible to the outside world.

Think of it as painting the world’s most beautiful picture…on the underside of a chair. Regardless of how brilliant it may be, what good is it if no-one can see it?

On the other hand, top-notch SEO tactics can see your website soar, clocking up more traffic than the M25 in rush hour – so its well worth keeping abreast of the trends.

Luckily, here at Designer Websites, we have a few handy hints and tips to ensure your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle this year, allowing your site to get the love and attention it deserves.

 

Google Algorithm for SEO

When it comes to SEO performance, much of your site’s success hinges on the Google algorithm – Google’s way of determining how to rank web pages. If your content plays nicely with the GA, the higher in the rankings you will be; if it doesn’t – sayonara.

To make matters even more complicated, the guys and gals at Google HQ love to keep us on our toes by throwing the odd SEO curve ball our way. In fact, for SEO strategists, it's fair to say that Google has thrown more spanners in the works than an angry mechanic on the verge of a meltdown.

Over the course of a year, it’s not unusual for G-Team to make over 500 changes to the Google algorithm, proving that their algorithm is a dancer and a damn hard one to keep up with on the digital dance floor.

Typically, 2019 is no different. That’s where we come in…

  

seo tips 2019

 

What is the Best SEO Strategy for 2019?

With so many changes to the algorithm throughout the year, creating content that abides by the wants and needs of Google can be like trying to appease a hysterically crying baby.

Does it need its content changed; does it want to be fed with more delicious keywords; or shall I just throw the laptop in the car, take it for a drive around the block and hope it goes to sleep?

Before you completely lose your mind to an SEO migraine, take a handful of these healthy hints to help you shake off the stress and stay ahead of the curve.

 

1. Back to basics

There are a number of tech-savvy ways you can optimise your website to perform at a high level, from adding breadcrumbs and prioritising pages in your site navigation to implementing tracking and making your site mobile friendly.

However, when it comes incorporating SEO friendly content to your site – such as blog posts, web copy and product descriptions – there are a few simple tactics that can have a profound effect on performance, without the need for an IT degree.

Before you tackle the nitty gritty, make sure the following basics have become second nature.

 

Keywords and phrases

Keywords and phrases are naturally the starting point for most SEO strategists. Once you’ve uncovered the best performing keywords for your subject, be sure to incorporate these organically into your copy, including your titles, headings and alt text when relevant.

Interlink with anchor texts

It’s also a good idea to interlink web pages within your site using anchor texts. Links are a crucial factor when it comes to page rankings; internal links to other pages on your site can help spread link equity and prolong site view times.

Optimising images

Compressing and optimising images within your pages can also increase your site speed. Slow loading times can have a negative effect on conversions and, by proxy, a negative effect on SEO. The quicker the site speed, the more likely you are to retain your visitor.

 

2. Fit for re-purpose

If your back catalogue of content runs deeper than the Coronation Street archive, you could be sitting on a goldmine of useful blogs and copy. After all, why let all that history go to waste – especially if the content is still relevant.

Recycling content can be a great way to make the most of what you already have. Updating pre-existing copy to include new keywords and updated information can instantly make it relevant again, enhancing the performance as a result.

Alternatively, you could repackage your text in the form of a video – which brings us nicely to our next top tip…

 

3. Video killed the SEO star

For content providers, video is the ultimate ace up the sleeve for SEO in 2019 and beyond. If you’re not already a dab hand with a digital camera or a wizard with Adobe Premiere Pro, now is the time to knuckle down and sharpen those skills.

According to veteran tech kings, Cisco, online video is set to grow exponentially in the coming years, with projections indicating that video will account for over 80% of all consumer IP traffic by 2022. In light of that info, neglecting video wouldn’t just be bringing a knife to a gunfight, it’s veritable content suicide.

Bulletproof your content by integrating video across your site, while you can also bolster existing videos by updating the titles and descriptions to ensure they remain SEO relevant. Meanwhile, optimising audio/video quality can enhance the user experience, further endearing your site to the gods of SEO.

 

4. SERPs up, man!

Whether you’re penning something completely new or attempting to breathe life into old content, Google itself can be a great resource for keywords and phrases.

If you’re looking to rank for a particular term, Google it and check out the search engine results page in the “People also ask” box for insight on things to include in your content.

Similarly, keep an eye on the “Searches related to…” results at the bottom of the page. Both are great ways to cherry pick a few golden terms for H1s and H2s.

Think of it as a being sat next to the smart kid during a particularly tough test; all the answers are there for the taking, it’s up to you if you take a look and use them.

 

5. Go evergreen with authority

According to Worldometers, well over 4 million blogs were posted via WordPress.com on the day this very blog was written. Multiply that by 365 and that’s a whole lotta content to compete with in 2019.

Needless to say, online content is quickly become an extremely crowded arena, suffering from the effects of over-saturation.

The dramatic rise in content competition has naturally hindered performance, while changes to social media have also seen sharing figures drop dramatically in recent years. However, you can avoid these pitfalls by actively taking your content in a different direction.

Evergreen content is essentially content that maintains its relevance over time, immune from becoming dated (a fact ironically stated in a blog titled “SEO Tips for 2019”). Keep your content from becoming yesterday’s news and tomorrow’s garbage by creating authoritative content that lasts.

Quality evergreen content based on research and reference has been proven to gain backlinks, building traction over time and ranking higher as result. Originality backed by linked references could well be your ticket to the big time.

 

So, there you have it – five simple ways to ensure your SEO content in 2019 is A-OK, not DOA.

For more information on how to become an SEO VIP, click here or hit the button below to get in touch.

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A well-written blog can form an invaluable part of any marketing strategy, allowing you to interact with your target audience and share industry information, tips and expertise. By creating a regularly updated and informative blog, your business will be able to establish a reputation as an industry authority and in so doing improve overall brand awareness.

However, no matter how insightful and informative your blog posts may be if they don't show up in the search results, they are only ever likely to attract a handful of readers. So, what is the secret to optimising your blog? And how do you make sure that people convert when they read your posts? Let's start with the very basics, ideally, your blog posts will:

  • Appeal to your target audience
  • Rank highly in search results
  • Invite your audience to complete an action

So, how do you make these things happen? We asked our SEO team to collate some helpful hints and tips about writing blogs to get you on your way to a successful blog. They understand the importance of creating high-quality content that will help improve a client's Google ranking and boost engagement. So, if you're considering adding a blog to your site, or if you want to optimise your existing blog, then just keep reading!

Determine the Purpose of Each Blog

So, where do you start? We recommend that you start by considering the purpose of your blog post. Having this in mind as you write each blog is essential, it helps you make sure that each blog is staying on topic and fulfilling its purpose throughout! There are thousands of reasons you might write a blog, here are a few common goals of blog writing:

  • Attracting new customers
  • Promoting a product or service
  • Sharing important news related to your business or industry
  • Answering a question that's relevant to your business

Or something completely different! Blog posts are great because they offer a blank slate for you to address current topics and engage with users in a very direct way. Whatever you choose to write about, make sure that your writing has a focus to avoid creating convoluted, unnecessary content.

Select and Use Appropriate Keywords

As with website optimisation, choosing and using the right keywords is incredibly important when it comes to getting your blog posts to rank in search engines. Firstly, to select appropriate keywords you need to consider two things:

  • What keywords does your site currently rank for?
  • What keywords do you want your site to rank for?  

You need to be careful not to cannibalise (use the same keywords) as other, more important pages on your site. Why? because you don't want a blog post to outrank an important product page, for example. You can check what keywords and queries your site is currently getting impressions and clicks for by taking a look at the 'performance' section on the Google Search Console.

Instead of targeting the same keywords over and over again, you should consider using your blog posts to target keywords that aren't already targeted on your site (despite being highly relevant). When choosing keywords for your blog posts, you want them to grab your audience's attention so consider this; what topics do your readers care about that you haven't already addressed somewhere on your site? You can use Google's Keyword Planner tool to find hundreds of relevant keywords & check search volume!

Writing your Blog Posts 

Once you've decided the purpose of your blog, selected some interesting and relevant keywords - you're ready to start writing. Your first few blog posts might take you a little bit of time to craft and perfect, but the more blog posts you write the more your personal writing style will develop.

Readers will return to your blog time and time again if they like your writing style, so don't be afraid to add touches of your personality as you go along.  

Besides writing content that your readers will love, you need to ensure each post is properly optimised. Here are a few tips to make sure that your blog posts always add value to your site:

  • Be conscious of the keywords you are targeting and try to include them throughout the blog post.
  • Choose a compelling title.
  • Use sub-headings and bullet points to break up long passages of text.
  • Add some quality links to high domain authority sites (ones you want to grab the attention of!)
  • Include quotes from notable people within your industry.
  • Write a clear call to action - this will increase the likelihood of readers converting.
  • Optimise: Add a meta title & meta description.

Write Frequently to Maintain Engagement

As you build up a group of loyal readers, they will enjoy coming back to find new, relevant blog posts while - for the purposes of SEO, regular posting will ensure you're constantly targeting new keywords and will (hopefully) keep you high in the search engine results. But how often should you post?

Posting Every Day: 

Posting every day does have its benefits, it allows you to develop your writing style, engage with new readers and quickly build up lots of interesting posts on your site. However, writing and sharing blog posts every single day can be time-consuming and might even put your readers off.

Posting Once, Twice, or Three Times a Week:

Many bloggers argue this is the perfect blogging schedule. Having small gaps between blogs helps to keep your readers interested without overloading them with 'spammy' content. Giving yourself time to plan each blog properly will ensure you create in-depth and genuinely useful blogs, rather than blogs that don't add much value to your site.

Promotion via Social Media

Promoting your blog posts on social media will help maintain a steady flow of readers. We recommend setting a page or profile for your business on each of the following platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram 
  • LinkedIn

Each of these social media platforms is different in terms of the way the posts are structured and the type of audience they appeal to. Therefore, you need to tailor each social media post to suit the platform you're working with. For example, Instagram is largely image focused so is the perfect place to share pictures and blogs related to products or completed projects.

As well as promoting your blog on your own social network pages, encourage others to do some of the work for you by including Facebook and Twitter ‘share buttons’ in your blog. One of the amazing things about social media is that people will always be inclined to share things they find interesting with their friends - so take advantage of this!

If you'd like to find out how our search engine optimisation team could help you manage your social media, click here.

By following these blog optimisation tips you will find that your blog performs really well and helps to drive conversions. If you are interested in finding out more about our blog development services, simply click the button at the end of this blog. If you have any other queries, give us a call on 01446 339050.

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Published - September 4th 2017 / Updated - March 18th 2019

Unless you own a website or you have a keen interest in online marketing, you may not have heard about Google Ads before. This platform plays a huge part in the world of online advertising, but many Google users may not know what exactly it is or what it does.

To help you better understand, we have put together the following simple guide to understanding Google Ads.

Google Ads Show First on Search Engine Results Pages

First things first, a brief introduction. Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google, which allows businesses to advertise on the search engines' results pages.

For example, as you'll see from the image below we have searched for ‘women’s clothes’. Now, the first 4 text results (marked with a green 'Ad' label) are Google Ads Text Ads; which are followed by normal non-paid 'organic' results, which in turn is followed by 3 more Text Ads (bottom of the page). On the right-hand side, you can also see Google 'Shopping Ads', which are a different style of paid-for adverts within Google Ads.

All of these businesses are employing Google Ads to show their adverts whenever someone searches for the phrase ‘women’s clothes’.

Every Click Costs with Google Ads

Unlike offline advertising methods, you only have to pay for your Google Ad if it gets clicked, making Google Ads one of the best advertising platforms on the planet in terms of ROI. However, managed poorly it will simply bring you lots of irrelevant traffic that will not convert into sales or bookings. 

Managing Google Ads can be complex, however, the Google Ads tool allows you to organise your adverts into campaigns and groups, which then give you greater control and organisation of your adverts. 

In simple terms, you choose the keywords that work for your business and allocate a maximum click cost, which is essentially how much you are willing to pay Google for a person to click your advert. You organise your keywords into appropriate groups and campaigns and then set a budget on what is the maximum you want to spend on each campaign. When your budget runs out, the adverts stop showing. So, the higher the budget you set, the longer your adverts will be displayed, and therefore the more clicks you can achieve.  

There are many complexities to running successful Google Ads campaigns and the depth of this complexity will depend upon your business, i.e. how many products and services you offer, whether your competitors also run Google Ads campaigns, how popular your keywords are, etc.

Google Ads Uses a Complex Bidding System

Though this may seem simple (pay for an ad = get shown on Google), it's really not that easy! As you can imagine, there are millions of clothing shops across the world. All of these clothing companies, if they’re marketing savvy, will be aiming to have a Google Ad on top of the SERPs. So, with so much competition, Google employs a bidding system to decide who gets those top spots, for how much time, and at what cost.

You can envisage the Google Ads bidding structure as a straight-up auction; whoever is willing to pay the most per click, wins! Google is the auctioneer, the product is the top spot on Google for say "women’s clothes", and the auction hall is full of eager clothing businesses across the nation, or even the world.. how much are you willing to pay for a click?

As I alluded to, this auction is not that straight forward. You can also win by providing high quality and highly relevant adverts, which land on highly relevant pages within a highly user-friendly website, all scoring points with Google and meaning that you may pay less than your competitors for those top spots. Google wants advertisers to see a relevant advert to what the user searched. For example, I search "women's dresses" so I want to see an advert that suggests something relevant, and then I want to land on a page showing dresses i.e. not the home page of a clothing store website... unless it only sells dresses of course. Google rates the relevance of your advertising and they call this their quality score. You need a very high-quality score to keep your click costs competitive. The complexity runs deeper, but for now, we'll leave it there.

Google Adverts & Landing Pages

While this may seem a bit strange,  more often than not Google Ads will not take you straight to the homepage of the website. Instead, they take you to something which is known as a 'landing page'. Landing pages are often dedicated pages, but usually, are the product (or service) specific page, that is most relevant to the term you searched e.g. "Women's Clothing".

For example, this is H&M’s homepage:

And this is a H&M landing page for ‘women’s dresses’:

As you can see, there is a distinct difference between the two. H&M’s homepage includes everything the website stocks, whereas the women's dresses section on the site is used as the "landing page" for the adverts for this search term; directing searchers who hit their adverts to the exact products that they were searching for.

Google Ads does not impact your websites organic ranking

Though Google Ads can indeed play a big part in increasing traffic to your website and conversions, it has no direct link to the organic (non-paid listings in Google) search results pages. Even if you are running hundreds of Ads and spending millions of pounds, it will not increase your organic ranking.

Conclusion

Google Ads can be a fantastic tool for driving instant traffic to your website but consider the difference between extra traffic and extra customers/buyers. There is a significant difference between the two. Making Google Ads work for your business requires intimate knowledge of the advertising platform itself, along with knowledge of your business and its competitors. 

You can run Google Ads yourself, however, if you want to maximise the ROI our experts are here to help. Click below to learn about our PPC services! 

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google

What’s happening?

Google are officially rebranding Google AdWords – it’s been a long time in the coming, and after more than 17 years, Google are consolidating their Ad products to fall under one umbrella name & service. Henceforth, Google Ads will be the catch-all title for the vast majority of Google’s Ad tools. Other related products will fall into the categories of Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

Why?

After nearly 20 years of AdWords, what has triggered this rebrand, I hear you ask? Well, to answer that question we have to consider a few different strands. The official word from Google has come mostly in the form of comments from Sridhar Ramaswamy – Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google.

Ramaswamy stated that the rebrand is at least partially a response to “consistent feedback” that the duplicity of Ad products offered by Google can lead to a confusing experience for the user.

Many have also predicted that the removal of the term ‘word’ from the brand name indicates an incoming departure from keyword driven advertising. Ramaswamy himself has been quoted saying the brand change “is indicative of where we have been directing the product” – but exactly how this new direction will play out remains to be seen.

When?

The AdWord rebrand was first announced at the end of June, but the official changeover is scheduled to take full effect on 24/07/18. From this point on, all users who wish to continue using AdWords will have to do so using the rebranded Google Ads platform.

Out with the old, in with the new

At a glance, we’ve considered some of the pros & cons of the new Google Ads interface.

Listed below are some of the ostensible & more significant differences produced by the rebrand:

  • Pro: advancement in reporting style – in the new Google Ads interface there is a greater level of detail afforded to the way data is displayed; including the ability to create graphs to visually display data from Ads.
  • Con: The major change in layout has meant those familiar with AdWords have had to learn how to navigate the new layout to find what they’re looking for; the new look is akin to the dashboard style used across other Google services. For the time being this change is making things a little frustrating for marketers.
  • Pro: Showcase Ads – this new Ad product allows advertisers to display a group of products (rather than just one) along with a small amount of text so that brands can more comprehensively introduce their business to a new prospect.
  • Con: Columns in the new Ad interface have been reset meaning specified information is no longer displayed when accessing Google Ads – the upshot of this is more time is spent  seeking out information, when you could already be processing it.
  • Pro: Promotion extensions – this new feature gives advertisers the ability to show and link to specific offers within Ad text. This new addition should result in far greater click through rates, which is always music to marketers’ ears…

 The bottom line

As with anything new, Google Ads has been met with a certain amount of reluctance; infamously, people don’t tend to like change, but we’re sure that brands and businesses will begin to adapt to the features of Google’s Ad rebrand – just as Google’s Ad products will continue to evolve based on feedback from users.

 

Chatbots

The demand for customer service via instant messenger has recently reached new heights; since the revelation that messaging apps are more popular than social networking sites, companies have been scrambling to find a way to use instant message to their marketing advantage.

The result? Businesses are investing in more forms of live chat – from those manned by humans, to 24/7 automated chatbots.

What are chatbots?  

Chatbots are a piece of automated computer software; they are programmed to mimic human conversation through a chat interface.

 As Artificial Intelligence (AI) develops, more advanced forms of chatbots are being released.  AI chatbots can utilise machine learning to convincingly replicate human conversation, and consequently improve the user experience.

For the most part, though, businesses are still using simpler chatbot software for customer service and marketing. In these instances, chatbots work on a rule-based system – they look out for trigger keywords and provide what is deemed to be the most relevant response. For example, if a user mentions a particular product and the word ‘stock’ the chatbot might reply with a stock update for the specified product.

Why the popularity?

In our world of convenience, user patience grows continually thin. We already know that mobile speed is an absolute must-have for successful websites and is even used as a ranking factor by Google.

Thus, it naturally follows that consumers don’t want to waste their time on hold when making a phone call or waiting for a response via email. Instant messaging provides a space where customers can submit a query and instantly receive a response. This service has business and marketing benefits too – quicker response time means the chance of your prospect going elsewhere before converting is greatly reduced.

The pros and cons: human live chat v chatbots

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both chatbots and live chat systems manned by human assistants. Here we weigh up the different considerations for both options:

24/7

 One of the most obvious benefits of chatbots is their availability. No matter what time of day or night, a chatbot can be active and open for queries – this is a pretty appealing prospect when the digital realm demands that information be readily available at all times.

Complications

Chatbots may be able to accept customer enquiries 24 hours a day, but one thing they can’t do is handle niche or difficult questions. The nature of a chatbots programming means that if a user asks a question which doesn’t correspond to a specific query or keyword, it won’t be able to help.

 A live chat assistant can be far more responsive to customer’s needs, meaning a more tailored customer service experience for the user.

The cost

Creating a chatbot is significantly cheaper than employing a team of live chat assistants. While having a single live chat operator may be effective for very small companies, in most instances one person isn’t capable of handling multiple enquiries at once – the upshot of this is delayed response time, which defeats the purpose of live chat in the first place.

 A chatbot can respond instantly to a large pool of enquiries at any given time, meaning no customer is left frustrated.

Human touch

Speaking of frustrations, chatbots aren’t without their own enraging issues. As touched upon before, chatbots can only respond to queries they’ve been specifically programmed to understand. They can even be tripped up by spelling errors and typos.

Comparatively, a human assistant would not struggle with a more complex query or typo. Having a real person responding over live chat means they can also provide the additional service of salesperson, adding to the marketing benefits of live chat.

A chatbot can –  in a limited function –  recommend products based on what they think a user is searching for, but it’ll never be as persuasive or convincing as a personal recommendation from an actual person.

To conclude…

When it really comes down to it, on a one-on-one basis a chatbot could never beat the customer service provided by an actual human being. However, on a larger scale, the waters become more muddied. What works best for your company will depend on your particular business and the size of your customer base.

 Many organisations take the middle ground, using chatbots in the first instance, with a small team of human chat assistants ready to take over when things get more complex.  

With the current speed of AI advancements, we’re certain that most of these chatbot flaws will soon be a thing of the past – but for now, best not to hand everything over to the bots just yet.

 

Whether you're a Millennial, a Generation Z, or just someone who spends a lot of time online, in this day and age we now expect to be able to get what we want almost instantly. Need somewhere to eat? Google it. Need new headphones? Amazon it. Need to get hold of someone? Facebook them

The internet has given us all the expectation that instant gratification can be had at the push of a button, but how impulsive are we when it comes to parting with our money? How has the online search game changed the way we shop?

Well, although it is much easier now to shop online than it is to elbow your way through in-store January sales, many will still choose to research a product before buying. This will vary between shoppers; some will choose to look at a product in a shop and find it cheaper online, and others will do some online research before going into stores. Either way, online research and instore/online shopping now come in hand in hand and that's something to keep in mind when creating your online marketing campaign.

Here are some of the ways search effects the buying process and what you can do to capture this traffic: 

Online Inspiration

People want, but they don't always know what they want. It's human nature; we get an idea but we want to know what everyone else is doing before making a final decision. So to start the research process we turn to a search engine; "cool room inspiration", "Secret Santa ideas", "hair inspiration", sound familiar?

With so many options to browse through its no wonder that people look online for ideas when they at a loss as to where to start.

Pinterest has built its empire on people's desire to be inspired. Losing the need for any written information, this visual platform gives us everything we need to get inspired all in one place. Social media is a great way to capture customers in their research stage. For visual inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram are great. To extend your reach and try to inspire those who didn't know they wanted to be inspired, Facebook and Twitter are very helpful too. Use hashtags to appear on relevant searches and capture this attention.

For more product specific searches, such as "flooring inspiration" a blog is a fantastic way to inspire and inform at the same time. Blogs are a vital way of not only inspiring customers but also for getting them to the products you actually sell, which is often where social media can fall short. 

Relevant, well-ranking blogs don't only attract organic website traffic, they can also give the customer examples of options they can get from you. Although they still may not be ready to make an actual purchase, your brand will be in their mind when they do.

Research and Rethink 

We want answers and we want them now, and luckily it's actually as easy as that. Of course, the internet is full of bias and misguided articles, but we still seem to trust a lot of what Google tells us. For instance, let's look at two of the biggest searches from the Christmas period:

"Which is better, Android or Apple smartphones?"

"Should I get an Xbox or a PlayStation?"

So following my initial search of "which is better, Android or Apple smartphones", Google gives me three relevant, recent articles. However, none of which give me my answer in the visible description, I could click but with my need for instant gratification my eye quickly goes to the "People also ask" snippet which gives me an instant answer: 

The top result in the snippet box actually seems a lot more bias, with a leading question of "Is an iPhone better than an Android". It seems like the same question I asked originally, but before i've even read the description it gives me the impression that Apple has the edge, later confirmed by the description, so I don't even need to read the full article. Despite this being an older article than the top result, it answers my question quicker. 

Without even searching for my next question, Google anticipates that I'm also needing advice regarding my Xbox/PS4 dilemma, another 2016 article lets me know that PlayStation comes out on top. So there we go, I'm getting an iPhone and a PlayStation 4 for Christmas (lucky me, right?). 

Of course, it's not as simple as that, many people will do further research before parting with the money particularly for these pricey items. Which is exactly why blogs are still so important for capturing organic traffic for those who do want more information.

However, it does highlight how important Google featured snippets have become, which is why we have previously written a blog about how to capture a snippet. With any of these products, a large part of it is personal preference, but for those with no opinion formed already, search research may be the thing that swings them either way. 

It's important to find out what your target audience is trying to research and create useful content that answers their questions, remain informative and interesting to get your opinion across - and do it quickly.  

Browse before you buy

In a way, search does also make the selling process far more competitive than when people shop in person. Although you may be able to find a product a couple of quid cheaper somewhere else, half the battle is won by the time you're in the store. Often, it's easier to be slightly unaware that a product is available for a couple pounds cheaper in a different store than to physically go store to store checking, and having to go back to find wherever the cheapest one was. 

But that's easy to do online so can make all the difference. It takes seconds to whip out your mobile phone and find out where to find the cheapest deal can be found. Amazon even makes a point of pointing out to you that you can find it cheaper somewhere else, which is great for me as a consumer as I look for that new PlayStation 4 of mine: 

Now I can see the cheapest option, the reputation of the seller and the delivery cost. If I'm quick I can pay a bit extra and get it tomorrow - instant gratification indeed.

Clearly, this puts pressure on ecommerce websites who now need to stand out in an over-saturated online market. Be sure to compare your prices and deals with your competitors, ask yourself: How much am I charging for my product/service? Is it still a good deal after delivery? Does my website make the product/service stand out from my competitors?

We recently did a blog on how to make your ecommerce website stand out, which you may find helpful. You can find it by clicking here

In Conclusion

The way we research online before means that creating relevant content is more important than ever to not only attract traffic to your website but to inform potential customers that what you're selling is worth buying, whether they buy from you instore or online.

Inspiring them to aspire to have your product/service is the first step, then its time to explain why you're the best place to make that purchase. Keep an eye on your competitors, the quality of your website and products, and what your customers need from you in order to make the most of search

If you want any advice on your online marketing, from website design to SEO we can help. Contact us today to get help from our friendly specialists.

Should You Outsource Digital Marketing Strategy

Marketing your business online is a multifaceted task that often takes place across many different platforms. Nowadays, a typical digital marketing strategy might include any or all of the following:

  • Responsive website (fast, mobile friendly, optimised for search engines)
  • Conversion optimisation (tweaking content and layout for performance)
  • AMP development (faster mobile pages)
  • Blog posts and other content (including infographics, videos, etc.)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.)
  • PR and link outreach (e.g. articles, external blog posts)
  • PPC advertising (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads)

You may also choose to combine the above strategies with more traditional avenues such as TV, radio and/or print advertising.

With the fight happening on so many different fronts, it's not hard to see why a lot of business owners decide to outsource some or all of their marketing to external agencies. Indeed, it's not uncommon to hire a different firm for each task: one company to design your website, another to write engaging content for your blog, another to handle your AdWords campaigns, and so on.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing

But is this a good way to get results?

The obvious benefit of this approach is that it allows you to hire a specialist for each part of your multi-platform digital marketing effort. You want a professional-looking website, so you hire an experienced web developer who's capable of providing this. You want to get your brand name in front of more people, so you pay a highly-rated PR agency to get the word out on your behalf. Nobody in your organisation knows the first thing about Google AdWords? No problem - hire a PPC expert to set up some campaigns for you.

On the face of it, then, choosing the best person or company for each job on a task-by-task basis seems like a pretty sensible tactic. The problem is that while PPC advertising, SEO copywriting, website design, et cetera are all distinct disciplines that require very different skillsets, they don't exist independently of one another. All digital marketing platforms are intrinsically linked, and trying to separate them all out can cause a lot of headaches.

Here are some examples:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critically important part of website development that ideally needs to be taken into consideration at the planning stage. When building a new online home for your business, you might be tempted to hire a designer to create the website itself, then turn the project over to an SEO expert who can select the keywords and write the copy for each page. As a general rule, though, you'll definitely get far better results in the end if your website developer has a strong working knowledge of SEO too - that way, they can make suggestions from the get-go and help you to construct a highly-optimised site hierarchy instead of just hashing in some keywords as an afterthought. Optimising a website is significantly more than just content and keywords - it’s having a modern and responsive site architecture, handling URLs properly, hosting the website in a way that make it fast for the end user, and so much more!

  • If you're thinking of using Google AdWords to drive extra traffic to your website, you may be wondering exactly how much each click will cost you once your ads are up and running. The answer to that question depends on many different variables, but more than any other factor, the amount you pay when somebody clicks on one of your ads is determined by its quality score, which is derived from the combination of keyword, advert and landing page. The lower your quality score, the more you'll have to pay for each click (since Google don't like sending their users to irrelevant or low-quality web pages). But your average PPC manager can't achieve a good quality score just by fiddling around in AdWords - it requires collaboration between your web developer, copywriter and PPC manager to get those ads and landing pages just right.

  • Finally, let's imagine that you've hired a social media guru to grow your audience on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. In order to craft successful social campaigns and keep your accounts running smoothly, that person will have to co-ordinate their efforts with the person who writes your blog posts, the person who handles your PR, and possibly several other parties like your web developer, your sales team, and whoever is responsible for determining the overall direction of the company. That's a lot of plates to keep spinning!

The point is that - as the old proverb goes - too many cooks sometimes spoil the broth, and dividing up your marketing efforts can hugely diminish your results. Assigning each task to a different specialist opens you up to a lot of potential problems, especially if any of your marketers cannot see:

  • Accurate sales and traffic figures for your business
  • The growth plans you have in place
  • What everyone else is working on

Of course, there are numerous tools and pieces of software that can be used to co-ordinate several groups of people who are all working towards the same goal, but these solutions tend to only work as well as the people using them. No matter how you slice it, trying to synchronise half a dozen different agencies and get them all reporting back to you in perfect harmony can be a huge and frustrating task!

So is there a better way?

A simpler route to digital marketing success

You want to make life simple for yourself, but you're still keen to check all the digital marketing boxes and get your brand seen in as many different places as possible. How do you achieve both of these goals? Well, you could try one of the following:

1) Hire in-house marketing talent.

Instead of outsourcing your marketing efforts to external agencies, you may decide to hire your very own PPC expert, SEO guru, social media manager, etc. That way, all the necessary skills will be in your own office and on your own payroll.

The drawback: Hiring your own marketing team will cost a lot of money and use up a lot of time. You'll have to do all the legwork - posting job ads, looking through CVs, interviewing applicants - yourself, and if you're hiring several people, you'll have to do it all multiple times. Successful candidates might need to be trained up, and they may take some time to properly settle into your organisation.

And that's assuming you can even find the talent you need. Unfortunately, most skilled digital marketing professionals would rather work for an agency (where they would get to work on a variety of different projects) than for an ordinary business (where they would have to the same thing every day). If you do choose the in-house route, you may find that scouting out a suitable candidate for each position is harder than you expected!

2) Find an agency that does everything.

Hiring an agency means that you don't have to face the hassle of recruiting new employees for your own company, and if you can find an 'all-in-one' digital marketing agency who know how to craft engaging content, build successful AdWords campaigns, get seen on social media, AND design a winning website, this will also make it far easier for you to keep your digital marketing efforts tidy, efficient and effective.

The drawback: Marketing agencies that do everything are hard to come by. It's fairly easy to find a company that's great at SEO, or at social media, or at pay-per-click advertising, but finding a company with the skillset and vision necessary to do it all - and do it well - can be quite a challenge.

Additionally, some business executives may be reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket by entrusting absolutely everything to a single company. Will they be vigilant, honest and communicative when it comes to reporting back and keeping you in the loop? And what if this other company were to go under? Where would that leave you, the client?

Clearly, both of the above approaches have their pros and cons. But there is a third option: simply take a little from column A and a little from column B.

3) Hire a skill-rich agency and your own marketing executive.

First, you hire a talented person to serve as your company's internal marketing executive. This person will need to have great communication and planning skills, along with a good deal of digital marketing experience, but they don't necessarily need to be an expert on everything. They won't necessarily be the one setting up AdWords campaigns and tweeting the latest blog posts - their main role will be to co-ordinate your overall marketing strategy and communicate with the people carrying it out.

Once your new recruit is in place and the two of you have come up with a digital marketing plan that identifies goals and highlights key areas of priority, the next step is to find a digital marketing agency that's capable of delivering on your aspirations. You should still look for a company with a diverse array of skills at their disposal - after all, our original point about the multifaceted nature of modern marketing still stands - but since your internal marketing executive will be working closely with the external marketers, you don't have to worry about drifting out of the loop.

This approach is superior to the others for a number of reasons. Yes, you'll still have to interview, hire and orient a new employee, but it's just one person rather than a whole team. Yes, you're still entrusting much of the actual work to an external company, but it is just one company - which should keep things relatively straightforward - and you'll have a dedicated employee of your own to hold them to account, answer any questions they might have, and track their progress to ensure that your overarching marketing strategy is moving in the right direction.

Internal Marketing Executive - Responsibilities:

  • Planning overall marketing strategy
  • Coming up with new ideas for the company
  • Acting as a point of contact for external marketers (and providing them with extra info if needed, e.g. photos, videos, sales figures)
  • Ensuring that all work is completed to a high standard and in a timely manner
  • Using analytics tools to track progress of marketing campaigns
  • Keeping you in the loop

External Marketing Agency - Responsibilities:

  • Putting your marketing executive's vision into practice (this could mean anything from scheduling Facebook posts to contacting journalists or creating and managing PPC campaigns)
  • Making additional suggestions that will boost your company's profile
  • Monitoring / analysing progress and results
  • Reporting back to the marketing executive

Done correctly, this approach will ensure accountability, straightforward two-way communication, and steady forward progress towards your digital marketing goal.

Designer Websites is a talented team of developers, designers, SEO specialists and digital marketing experts. No matter what you're looking to achieve online, we have the skills to help you do it - contact us today to discuss your requirements.

ai in digital marketing

On the 25th of May 2017, Google’s AlphaGo AI beat the world’s best Go player in a three game match. The highly complex strategy board game is known for its difficulty and huge set of possible moves, which is what makes this victory such an impressive feat for the champion gaming bot.

Increasingly, we’re hearing about the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence, with many of us encountering and interacting with this technology in our everyday lives without even realising it. With audiences becoming more and more attuned to traditional advertising methods, as well as using a huge variety of tools and platforms to consume and distribute information, it has become the marketer’s primary focus to harness the latest technological innovations in order to reach and engage users.  In addition to the demands of consumers, marketers are also looking to exceed the expectations of their clients by using tools and strategies that will allow them to deliver their services more efficiently.

When they’re not busy toppling board game champions, these rapid changes to the marketing landscape are being led by Google, with the tech giant already playing a huge role in shaping the use of digital technology for both businesses and consumers alike. In fact, their CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced a move from ‘mobile-first’ to ‘AI-first’ over the coming years, which gives a strong indication of how instrumental this technology will be in the future of search. The same can also be said of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose own investment into AI technology and machine learning has been well documented, as have the efforts of many other influential companies and emerging start-ups.

While AI is often discussed in terms of its future relevance, it is important to remember that this technology is already being implemented by companies throughout the world, across a variety of industries. To provide us with an introduction to some of the tools and techniques that are being used, and to predict where this may lead us in the near future, here’s a closer look at how AI is shaping the world of digital marketing:

Ads

AI is already influencing ad creation, targeting and measurement, which is only set to increase over the coming years. One of the most interesting examples of these innovations in recent news was the revelation that Mattersight would be using voice analysis to deliver personalised ads on home assistant devices. According to reports, Mattersight will be using their voice analysis technology in order to deduce speaker personality traits, allowing advertisers to target users based on this information.

In addition to ad targeting, companies are also using AI to gather performance data that will allow them to measure the efficiency of their marketing efforts, which in turn will also contribute to greater accuracy in future campaigns. Google recently outlined how they will use this technology to provide attribution precision to users of their Analytics, DoubleClick and AdWords services, debuting ‘Google Attribution’ at their annual marketing conference. The aim of this service is to give users a clear picture of their marketing performance across devices and interaction points, allowing the contributing sources to gain their deserved recognition, as opposed to attributing all credit to the user’s last click.

While creativity is often the most downplayed aspect of AI innovation, it has actually been used to create visual ads for quite some time now. Back in 2015, M&C Saatchi created what was dubbed as the ‘world’s first’ AI Ad for coffee brand Bahio. This was powered by an algorithm which continuously tested design and copy changes, gradually eliminating elements which failed to engage while reintegrating those which proved successful. In more recent times, the same agency has used IBM Watson to create ad campaigns for Toyota, using behavioural data from Facebook to personalise the content.

The biggest obstacle facing AI ad targeting is the objection to data use, which will be particularly challenging in the European market, due to new European Union laws which will come into place in May 2018.  Companies who use data in what is deemed to be a discriminatory or irresponsible fashion could face huge fines, demonstrating the barriers that technology will face as lawmakers seek to ensure that legislation keeps up-to-date with these advances.

Visual Recognition Tools

While their use in security applications may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to visual recognition tools, they are also proving to be incredibly influential in the world of digital marketing, both in terms of user engagement and in data gathering. From live videos to memes, a huge portion of our online interactions take place in the form of images and video content, which means that we must have the tools to enhance these mediums and monitor their impact on audiences.

Visual recognition tools have played a vital role in the development and widespread use of augmented reality applications, which have drastically enhanced the ability of brands to engage their customers and cultivate user generated content. Crucially, these tools bridge the gap between ‘real life’ and digital experiences, providing marketers with greater control and insight into user journeys, and providing unique experiences which encourage addictive use (as is exemplified by the surge of business using Pokemon Go to attract customers in summer 2016).

The most recent example of visual recognition being used to enhance online search is the announcement of the ‘Google Lens’ tool at this year’s I/O conference. Combining image recognition and information about the user’s location, the tool uses the camera feature on Google mobile devices to provide detailed information about these locations or objects. This information ranges from simply identifying an unfamiliar object, to performing more complicated tasks, such as logging into a wifi network using an image of the password sticker on the router.

Aside from the obvious ways in which these tools are able to enhance user engagement, they also provide tech companies with the ability to capture data and further enhance their learning ability. Despite the differences in how Facebook and Google are using visual tools to serve users, their aim to use them in order to understand and respond to user needs is fundamentally the same, as this Variety article points out.

Content Creation

If you regularly read news articles and reports online, it’s highly likely that some of the content you’ve consumed has been composed using artificial intelligence. The most famous of these tools is ‘Wordsmith’, a platform created by Automated Insights which turns data into coherent pieces of content. Wordsmith has been used by several high profile names in the industry, including The Associated Press, who have used it to generate sports coverage and quarterly earning stories, freeing up journalist time and extending their ability to cover multiple events.

To give you an idea of how prominent these tools could soon become, technology research and advisory firm Gartner estimated that by 2018, 20% of business content will be authored by machines, listing reports, press releases and legal documents amongst the range of content that could soon be produced using AI. This is supported by the number of content writing tools that have popped up in the past two years, one of the most recent being PingGo, a start-up which allows users to generate press releases based on answers to journalistic questions on their chosen ‘story’. The company was founded by Sarah Lee, the owner of a PR firm, with the aim of making press coverage more accessible to small businesses and projects that do not have the budget to invest in traditional PR.

Although most content writers are quick to point out that machines lack the ‘humanity’ needed to inject personality into writing tasks which require a high level of emotional sophistication, research shows that audiences are finding the content produced by bots to be increasingly informative and coherent, evidenced by Christer Clerwall’s study ‘Enter the Robot Journalist’. For now, computer-generated content still falls short in terms of its readability and persuasiveness, however, this could drastically improve in the coming years.

Another limitation of current content production technology is its reliance on human input, which is required in order to map out the content and provide the facts needed to produce it. This could change as computer intelligence improves, providing content bots with the ability to understand and produce natural language. Back in 2014, Google’s Ray Kurzweil predicted that computers would be more intelligent than humans by 2029. Considering the progress that has already been made in the past few years, it is not difficult to imagine that bots could become capable of highly sophisticated writing in the not-too-distant future.

While it’s safe to say that AI marketing is still a developing platform in the world of digital communications, it is far from being a distant, futuristic entity that has yet to be harnessed. Brands across the world are using AI throughout their campaigns, while tech companies are piling resources into pioneering the technology needed to facilitate these services for users and businesses alike.

Are you looking to work with a forward-thinking organisation who can provide cutting-edge digital solutions for your business? Get in touch with Designer Websites today to find out more about our bespoke website services.

Dementia Tax Google Ad

If you have been following the recent political campaigning for the snap election on June the 8th, you may have read about the recent criticism regarding the Conservatives ‘Dementia Tax’. This policy, which may require the elderly to pay for their care at home with the value of their house, has come under fire by opposing political parties and the public alike.

The policy coined the name ‘dementia tax’ due to the likely-hood it will be the sick and elderly who will face the brunt of this new policy. As many people would also like to leave their home to their families once they pass on, this proposal seems to have struck a chord with many British families.  

In response to the negative press the Conservatives received for this policy, they decided to use Google Ads to advertise their own version of the policy under the title ‘The So-Called ‘Dementia Tax’ – Are You Getting the Truth?’ whenever someone googled the phrase ‘dementia tax’.

Here’s a look at why buying Google Ads for ‘Dementia Tax’ backfired on quite a big scale for the Conservatives.

  • Buying the adverts for ‘dementia tax’ legitimised the term Dementia Tax

Despite the general consensus, Dementia Tax is not the actual term for Theresa May’s policy. However, by buying the adverts for the ‘dementia tax’, the term has now become legitimised with around 448,000 exact match results on Google Search.

By legitimising the term, this also provided journalists with every right to run articles with the term ‘dementia tax’ which lead to an onslaught of articles criticising the Conservatives tactics.

A lesson to take away from this if you’re looking to use Google Ads for your business is to ensure you bid for the correct term and provide users with the exact thing they are searching for. The issue with the Conservatives advert was that if someone was searching for ‘dementia tax’, they most likely already knew about the negative press the term was receiving. 

Dementia Tax Legitimised

  • Google Ads are open to everyone, even your rivals

 Soon after it was discovered that the Conservatives had bought a slot on the front page of the ‘dementia tax’ search, with their article ‘The So-Called ‘Dementia Tax’ – Are You Getting the Truth?’, the Labour Party also bought their own Google Ad for ‘dementia tax’. Their article named ‘The Dementia Tax – Get the Real Facts’ with a meta description ‘The Tories Have Failed to Tackle the Social Care Crisis’.

Not only did this article undermine the Conservatives article, it also made it clear to the public that these were bought adverts. Because it is an advert, it may lead the users to believe they will receive a skewed version of events by clicking on it.

Dementia Tax Rivals

  • Google Ads cost money per click

Traditionally, Google Ads are used by businesses that wish to advertise what they’re selling. This is because the sale of their products will even out the cost of the advert.

In the case of the ‘dementia tax’ Google Ad, the conservatives are not gaining any revenue through their Ad and are instead losing money advertising for this term because it is purely just information on the policy.

Another unintended effect of this campaign was that some Twitter users even proclaimed they would click on the ad only to lose the Conservatives money.

Dementia Tax Cost

  • Google makes it clear that an advert is an advert

As can be seen in the pictures above, Google Ads come with a neat little ‘Ad’ box in light green next to the article. This makes it obvious to the user that this search engine result is an advert which has paid to be in the top position. Although it has been found that 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online, this may not work as well when the advert is for an article.

Many users will have a preference for their source of journalism, and so might bypass the Conservatives ‘dementia-tax’ Google Ad altogether. Advertising about policies is marginally more difficult than advertising a product, and the Conservatives lack of understanding in this department is what led to their downfall with this campaign.

After reading this list of how not to use Google Ads, if you did want some help with your own PPC Advertising our experts are here to help. To request a quote for help with PPC, just click here.

by Alana Spencer, Ridiculously Rich founder and BBC Apprentice winner 2016

Many inspirational business success stories start with humble beginnings, and my handmade cake business is a textbook example of how something small can grow into something huge.

Ridiculously Rich (or Narna's Cakes, as it was known in the early days) started in the kitchen of my parents' home in Aberystwyth. Inspired by a chocolate-making book given to me by my mum, I began whipping up my own sweet treats when I was still in my teens, and after some early success selling homemade cakes and chocolates to my friends I felt compelled to take things further. I would make all sorts of tray bakes - brownies, rocky road, that kind of thing - and sell them at local markets and other events in Ceredigion and the nearby area. This proved to be a good way of making money, and people seemed to like what I was offering - so much so, in fact, that I was eventually asked to supply a couple of local shops with goodies to sell!

From there, my business grew and grew. As you may be aware, Ridiculously Rich is now co-owned by Lord Sugar, who invested £250,000 to help grow the company into a nationwide success. When I became the latest BBC Apprentice winner, I think a lot of people were surprised by Lord Sugar's decision to invest in what began as a small homemade cake business, but his faith in me is already paying off, and with our regional ambassadors now representing the Ridiculously Rich brand all over the UK there are even bigger and better things still to come.

While Narna's Cakes started out as a grassroots, do-it-yourself sort of enterprise with little to no online visibility, the Internet has been crucial in getting the business to its current level, and our online efforts will continue to form a very important part of Ridiculously Rich's future success. Modern technology - the hyper-connectedness, via the Internet, of everyone and everything - makes it easier than ever to grow a small business into a big success; no matter where you live or what sort of niche you occupy, there are all kinds of opportunities now available to people who know how to seize them.

I hope that these tips will inspire you and help your business (whatever that might be) to reach new heights online.

1. Start with a winning website.

Your website is the foundation - the hub, if you like - for all your online marketing efforts, so it's important to get it properly spot-on before attempting to score big wins elsewhere. Things like Wordpress make it easy for IT novices to create nice-looking websites nowadays, but there's still a lot to be said for going to a bespoke web development agency and working with them to create a truly professional site for your business. An experienced pro will know how to:

  • Create a fast-loading, smooth-functioning website that users will love (and you'll find a doddle to manage)
  • Represent you and your brand in the best possible way online
  • Get your pages ranked highly on Google and other search engines

2. Think carefully about keywords.

The Internet runs on keywords.  If you want people to find your website on Google, Bing, and other search sites, you need to think very carefully about the words and phrases that you want to show up for. One good approach is to make a big list of all the search terms that you think are relevant to your business - my own version of that list, for example, might look something like this:

  • handmade cakes
  • salted caramel slice
  • buy chocolate brownies online
  • baked goods

And so on. Once you've got a list of keywords covering every aspect of your business (every product you sell, every service you provide, all the different words people might use, etc.), paste that list into a tool like Google's Keyword Planner to find out how popular each keyword is. Use the most searched-for phrases on appropriate pages of your website, ensuring that each keyword is represented on one page only - if done properly, this will get your site showing as a result for each of the terms you targeted.

This is another area where it's a good idea to consult a professional web developer - they will have a good grasp of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and know exactly how to fine-tune your website in order to maximise your chance of ranking highly within Google's results. Beware, however - many of the companies out there claiming to be optimisation experts are actually just salespeople looking to make easy money. Make sure you ask them for examples of times where they improved a client's traffic and sales, and don't be afraid to ask for a reference from the customers they name.

3. Be seen on social media!

Google isn't the only tool people use to find things on the Internet - social media, too, can be a huge driver of leads, purchases, and brand awareness. There are many different social media platforms to choose from (Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest...) and while some people manage to do well across all of them, it's generally a better idea to pick the handful of social platforms that best suit your business and focus your energy on them.

For instance, if you sell very aesthetically appealing products, it might be a good idea to promote them on Pinterest, whereas a less visual business may do better by joining conversations on Twitter and advertising their professional credentials on LinkedIn. Snapchat and Instagram are good for sharing photos/videos of the inner workings of your company, while Facebook pages are great for collecting customer reviews and interacting with your audience via messages and comments.

Whichever social site you choose, be sure to stay active once you've set your account up. If a potential customer searches for your business and finds a Twitter feed that hasn't been updated for months - or a Facebook page on which people's questions are going unanswered - this may damage that customer's perception of your organisation.

4. Think outside the box

But OK - all of your competitors have websites, all of them are on Twitter, and all of them are going after more or less the same Google keywords. What can you do to really distinguish yourself from the other businesses in your industry?

Once you've established your business online, there are all kinds of different ways to grow your business. All you need is an idea! This could be an unusual, attention-grabbing social media campaign that portrays your brand in a good light, or it could be a huge business initiative that leverages the Internet's ability to connect people across huge distances. Whatever you come up with, the infrastructure to do it almost certainly already exists online. You may need some help from your web developer to turn your ideas into realities, but don't worry - a good developer will always be up to the challenges you set them!

Here's one example. As mentioned above, Lord Sugar and I recently started selecting regional ambassadors to represent the Ridiculously Rich brand at food festivals, farmers' markets, and other local events across the UK. Would-be ambassadors apply online, and if they're selected, we send them everything they'll need to set up their very own Ridiculously Rich stall and sell our cakes in their area. By promoting this money-making opportunity online, we're able to reach eager cake lovers in every corner of the country, and each approved ambassador gets their own dashboard on the Ridiculously Rich website to help them manage everything. This initiative has already proved hugely popular, and it looks set to grow even more over the coming months!

5. Provide the best possible service at all times.

While it is possible for businesses to achieve massive growth via online marketing avenues, that growth is often accompanied by a decline in quality. When you've got a bricks-and-mortar shop that only serves people who walk through the door, it's relatively easy to ensure that each customer has a good experience; when you're serving thousands of people online and sending your products all over the world, it's far harder to maintain that high standard.

As your business gets bigger, you'll inevitably have to accept that some things are simply out of your hands. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your reputation doesn't suffer as everything else builds up:

  • Keep an eye on your website. If people are interacting with your website instead of an actual company representative, it's up to you to ensure that your site is doing a good job. Be sure to look at the site on a regular basis to make sure that nothing has gone wrong; you may also want to register your site with Google Search Console, as this will inform you if there are any issues that may affect user experience and/or Google rankings.

  • Choose your courier wisely. Do you send products to your customers through the post? If so, it's crucial to select a courier / delivery service that will do you proud. Above all, the two factors that will most affect the customer's lasting impression of your business are 1) whether their order arrived on time, and 2) whether it arrived in good condition. This is partially up to you, of course - you're responsible for ensuring that everything is packaged properly and posted promptly - but all your hard work may be spoiled if you leave the final stage of the ordering process in the hands of someone who's happy to let your customers down. Be sure to do your research - other companies will have left reviews online to help you avoid shoddy services.

  • Handle any complaints in a speedy, polite, and helpful manner. Just about every business gets the occasional complaint or bad review - it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's possible to turn a negative comment into something positive if you (or the person you've appointed to interact with customers) handle the situation properly. Be polite and apologetic and do your best to resolve the problem in any way you can. Your aim should be to make the unhappy person happy, but if you can't do that, you can at least demonstrate to other people who read the bad review that you take customer satisfaction seriously and don't take complaints lying down.

The team at Designer Websites, who I've been working with recently, gave me a lot of great insight into the world of doing business online and how to do it properly. If you're keen to grow your business online, I would definitely recommend them!

BBC Apprentice Winners


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

Christmas Gift Guides & Quizzes

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

Advice-led Content

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

Social Media Engagement

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

Email Updates

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

Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it Simple!

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

Make it Stand Out!

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

Be Relevant!

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

Make Sure it's Easy to Share!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write With Authority 

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

Take Advantage of Title Generator Tools

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

Target Your Intended Reader 

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

Convey a Sense of Urgency 

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

Use the Power of Lists 

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

Use Sensationalism

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

Experiment 

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

Provide Solutions to Problem Questions

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

Let the Facts Speak

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


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