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! 

Our PPC Advertising >

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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.