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.

Quick SEO Tips

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

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

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

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

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

2. Submit your sitemap to Google.

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

3. Take a good look at your title tags.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Check for keyword cannibalisation.

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

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

6. Claim your Google My Business listing.

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

7. Link to high-authority websites.

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

8. Share your knowledge in blog posts.

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

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

9. Add alt tags to your images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Won't My Website Show Up on Google?

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

Why does this happen?

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

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

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

Check to see if you're indexed

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

Here's how to do that:

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

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

Google site: search

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

No Results Found

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

If none of your pages are indexed...

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

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

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

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

If your pages are indexed...

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been scrolling through a website and suddenly your view is blocked by a huge advert? Even worse, have you ever been forced to watch at least 10 seconds of said advert before it’ll show you the website you wanted to visit?

If you have found yourself irritated by these intrusive adverts, you’ll be pleased to know that Google Chrome recently launched a built-in ad blocker feature. However, by Google’s own admission, this is more of a ‘filter’ rather than a complete blocker, as adverts that comply with the Better Ads Standards will be able to continue advertising.

If you do advertise your business on the web, this may strike a little fear into your heart. However, this ad blocker is designed to only stop the most annoying adverts which aim to distract users from the website with hard to click exit buttons and other un-user-friendly experiences.

Website operators were given a few months prior to the Chrome ad blocker launch to comply with the new rules and have been given 30 days after the release to conform. If they do not, Google will block both publishers and websites which display annoying adverts from all advertising.

So, what type adverts does the Chrome Ad Blocker stop?

Google is working by the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads which has identified through testing the ‘ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.

On desktop, these include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts pop up as you scroll down a webpage and block user’s view of the content. 
  • Auto-playing Video Adverts with Sound – this type of advert starts playing with sound without any sort of interaction. 
  • Prestitial Ads with a Countdown - appearing before the page has fully loaded, these adverts force a user to wait a set amount of time before they can close the advert. 
  • Large Sticky Ads – these adverts stick to the bottom of a webpage, taking up 30% or more of the screen.

On a mobile, the blocked adverts include:

  • Pop-up Ads – these adverts are the same as the desktop version and block part or the entire screen.
  • Prestitial Ads – showing before the content has fully loaded, these adverts stop users reaching the content they’re looking for right away.
  • Adverts with a Density Higher than 30% - if an advert is larger than 30%, it will be blocked by the ad blocker.
  • Flashing Animated Ads – this type of advert animates or flashes in an attempt to distract users from the content on the page.
  • Auto-playing Video Ads with Sound – same as the desktop version, any advert that auto-plays sound without a user’s interaction will be blocked.
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown – this intrusive format forces a user to wait a number of seconds before they can see the content on the page.
  • Full Screen Scroll over Ads – this advert type hovers on top of the pages main content and hides it from view. They often take up more than 30% of the page and force a user to scroll past it.
  • Large Sticky Ads – this advert also blocks the user's view of the page's content and takes up more than 30% of the pages real estate.

You can read more about each of these advert types in the Coalition for Better Ads Standards.

Why was the Chrome Ad Blocker introduced?

So, you may be wondering how blocking adverts could benefit a company who received an eye-watering £95.4 billion US dollars in advertising revenue last year.

Vice President of Google Chrome, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, said in his recent blog that Google has ‘seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive.’

In simple terms, Google does not want users downloading third-party software to block the adverts. They believe providing a better user experience is more important than losing money from these intrusive ad formats.

However, as one of the tech superpowers of the world, it’s highly unlikely Google introduced the Chrome ad blocker without their best interest at heart.
As hundreds of thousands of people have installed ad blockers over the years which block all adverts, not just the irritating ones, Google’s introduction of their own ad blocker could actually benefit advertisers.

If users feel less inclined to install an ad blocker because Chrome is already sifting away the most irritating ones, more people will see the advertisers who actually fulfil the advertising standards. The companies who rely on ads to make money may also benefit from this update, as their revenue will not be annihilated by the growth of third-party ad blockers which block all of their adverts.

If Google has control over which adverts are blocked online, both advertisers and Google may stand to benefit from this change.

Adblock, the most popular third-party advert blocking tool, actively blocks all adverts on the web. However, Adblock still allows ‘whitelisted’ adverts, which publishers have to pay to use. Unsurprisingly, Google is one of those publishers who choose to pay a fee which allows their adverts to surpass the block. This fee could be part of the reason Google introduced this update, alongside their ambition to make the web more user-friendly.

Furthermore, the whitelisted format Adblock uses could potentially be part of Google’s long-term plan with this update. If a website or publisher is blocked from advertising entirely due to one bad advert, would there be a type of ‘whitelist’ feature introduced to allow them to advertise again? Only time will tell if Google plans to introduce a feature like this.

Will the Chrome Ad Blocker affect me? 

If your website does not advertise or display adverts in the aforementioned formats, you will be unaffected by this update. Websites which only use the acceptable standards of advertising may even find they benefit from this update as their adverts are more likely to be seen.

However, if you use the Display Network for prospecting or remarketing purposes, you may find some of your adverts could be blocked due to where they are placed. For example, if your adverts usually display on a website which Google decides shows too many annoying adverts via Adsense, your ads may be blocked on this website.

Alternatively, if you let publishers advertise on your website, you may want to check they comply with the Better Ads Standards. Google has introduced a way you can check on the new and updated search console, called the ‘Ad Experience Report’.

You can access your Ad Experience Report here to find out if your website displays any adverts users deem annoying. If your website does not pass this test, you have 30 days to sort out any non-compliant advertising and you can request a re-review.

Here’s a video from Google to help you use the Ad Experience Report.

With the introduction of the Chrome ad blocker, it’s more important than ever to ensure your advertising is done right. Our experienced PPC team specialises in this subject and will ensure your adverts comply with the standards. Find out more about how our PPC team can help you here. 

Voice Search: Has It Changed SEO?

Do you have a voice assistant in your home? If you do, you’re not alone. It is estimated that around 8.2 million people own an Amazon Echo device and Google Home is not too far behind, selling more than one Google Home device every second since October 2017.

Furthermore, a study found that 40% of adults now use voice search at least once per day. Voice search has managed to find its way into every aspect of our lives, from finding out the age of a film star to sourcing the cheapest flights. With a reach this large, it is inevitable that the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) would edit and improve its techniques in order to stay on top of the changes voice search has brought.

Voice search and the skills of voice assistants are constantly changing as the teams behind them aim to improve their usability. Recently, debate surrounding advertising on voice assistants has started to heat up, so we thought we would take a look back at how voice search has affected SEO, and where we think it might go in the future.

More...

SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites

A successful ecommerce business is a complex collection of business processes, automation, and manpower. This varies significantly among industries, but one thing is for certain, you need to rank well in the major search engines in order to achieve high-volume sales. Otherwise, you’ll be dependent upon advertising platforms like Google AdWords or Bing Ads.

However, ranking on page 1 of Google or Bing is not as simple as it might sound - especially if your products are very popular e.g. mobile phones. The fundamental requirements to rank well are a high-quality, user-friendly, very fast and mobile-friendly website. Once you have these in order, you can then utilise SEO techniques to further optimise your website for higher ranking. With that being said, let's dive into our SEO tips for ecommerce websites:

If your website is built on an old platform, loads slowly or is not secure, then you need to address these issues before wasting time trying to optimise your site any further. Here are some tools for testing the quality of your website:

Now, let’s go ahead and assume you have a good quality ecommerce website and you just want to focus on the further optimisations. Below you will find a few simple SEO techniques that you can utilise to enhance your chances of higher rankings for your ecommerce website.

Research and use unique keywords per page

You can and should research keywords for your industry, products, services, etc. Find out how your potential customer searches for your products or service by utilising tools like:

Once you have your list of keywords it’s a good idea to map each keyword phrase to a specific page on your ecommerce website. For this, we would recommend that you use a spreadsheet as it can get lengthy and disorganised unless in some sort of manageable order. 

Now, a big no-no in the world of optimisation is duplication, whether that’s duplicate paragraphs or just duplicate keywords. If you’re targeting the same keyword with multiple pages then Google will likely choose to only display one of those pages in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), which may mean you miss out on opportunities to be seen.

For example, let’s say that you have an ecommerce website that sells safety harnesses. You could just label all of the products a “safety harness” and still be factually correct, but the chances are you likely have a “Climbing Harness”, a “Rescue Harness”, a “Fall Arrest Harness” and so forth. Therefore, in order to capitalise on a wider number of searches, you should first find out how your customers search for safety harnesses. Look at how they phrase their search and even the types of questions they ask surrounding that product. The next step is to make sure you address each of those searches with a page for that product, using the keyword phrase that you’ve identified. 

I know the question you’re about to ask... in those examples, isn’t the word harness repeated? Well-spotted. Yes, it is, but rest assured that Google is not that pedantic and will be able to tell the difference in your meaning (they’re quite clever in that way). Duplication is usually picked up from repetition of the same words in the same format. So, if you try to rank 2 pages for the keyword “Rescue Safety Harness” then you would be better off setting the copy on one page as “Confined Space Harness” and the other as “Rescue Safety Harness”. This way, Google will see the difference and potentially rank both pages, whereas if both are just set as the latter then it is highly likely that only 1 of those pages will be indexed.

Ecommerce websites quite often have hundreds of pages for each of their products, so this may seem like a tedious task. However, you should see this as an opportunity to rank for hundreds of different keywords. If you optimise your copy well enough, you may find your website reaches first page positions for a wide range of searches, which will result in much higher volumes of traffic.

Depending on the amount of copy on the page, it is usually recommended to stick to just one keyword per product page. This will allow you to target that keyword more efficiently, than if you were attempting to target multiple keywords at once. If you are instead writing a category page or a home page which usually has more content, you can try to target 2 or 3 keywords if you feel it’s necessary.

Ensure every page has a unique title tag/meta description

When looking at the SERPs, your title tag is your first opportunity to get your consumers attention. The meta description is then the snippet of information which will convince your consumers to click through to the website. This is why it is so important to get these aspects right. 

Google specifies that it is ‘important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page of your site’. This is because it needs to be clear to the consumer what that page entails and shouldn’t be too similar to a page displaying an entirely different product. It is also important to try and include your chosen keyword in your page title and meta tag as this will clearly show Google what your page is about. 

Google recommends branding your titles with your company name, but this is optional and certainly doesn’t have to be done on every page. We recommend including this at the end of the title if you have enough space for it (we recommend no more than 63 characters including spaces), and also separate it with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon or pipe. This means a good title tag will look something like this:

SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites | Designer Websites

Your meta description also needs to clearly explain what your page is about in a couple of sentences. In previous years, meta descriptions were only allowed to be around 160 characters before they were truncated by Google. Now, new SERP changes mean meta descriptions can now be displayed up to 278 characters. This should be more than enough length to include at least one instance of your keyword and create a unique and concise description of the contents of the page. 

Utilise an integrated blog to its full extent

A blog on your ecommerce website is not only good for keeping your customers updated, it’s a great way to target more keywords. When you’re planning each page of your website and choosing unique keywords, there are sure to be a few that don’t make the cut. These can be targeted with blog posts.

Plan ahead and write blog posts around these keywords in an attempt to bring more users through to the website. Try to provide informative content which will help your customers in some respect. This will not only help bring customers to the website, it will also create a level of trust between your company and the consumer.

Another way blog posts can be utilised is to try and achieve the ‘featured snippet’ on the Google SERPs. Even if you’ve not heard of featured snippets before, you’ve most likely come across one. This is the result that usually appears at the top when you ask google a question.

Here’s an example:

To achieve a featured snippet, you need to answer the question better than anyone else. It needs to be clear to Google that you have answered the question as accurately and concisely as possible. That means getting straight to the point and no filler writing (or keyword stuffing).

Featured snippets have been referred to as search position #0 as they come above the search position #1. It has also been found that achieving the featured snippet can increase traffic to your ecommerce website by as much as 500%, in some cases.

Utilising your blog to target keywords and attempt to achieve the featured snippet is a great way of increasing traffic to your website and improving ranking through the use of SEO techniques.

We hope these SEO tips for Ecommerce websites have helped you plan your next steps in the digital marketing world. If you are looking for professional help with your ecommerce website, then please get in touch anytime. 

 

Search Intent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swimming search results

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

How was this achieved?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what does this mean for my website?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Football Boots

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

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

Cheap Football Boots

Creating intent-optimised pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Put your keywords in the right places.

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

In rough order of importance, these are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summing up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEO vs SMO

So, you have a new website. It looks good, it’s quick and user-friendly. There’s just one small problem. No one can find it.

If this is the problem you’re currently facing, you may have found yourself scouring the internet to find a solution. If you have, you’ve most likely been thrown into the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This method of digital marketing works to put your website on the front page of Google for search terms that relate to your business.

If you’ve delved a little further, you may have also come across a term called Social Media Optimisation (SMO). SMO refers to optimising your social media platforms to bring more traffic to your website. SEO has been around since the introduction of search engines back in the 90’s. SMO, however, is a relatively new method of driving traffic to your website and only came about in 2006 when it was first mentioned in Rohbi Bhargava’s article 5 rules of social media optimisation.

Though their abbreviations differ by just one letter, SEO and SMO are vastly different. This article will explore the differences between SEO vs SMO.

What are SEO and SMO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation uses a variety of different methods to make your website rank highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs). These methods include: 

  • Keyword Planning

Keyword Planning is the process of choosing a specific keyword(s) to target on each page of the website. This is vital to SEO as a clear keyword strategy means pages will not compete with one another for the same search terms. Each page will have a specific purpose. 

  • Good Quality Optimised Copy

Each page on the website needs to have unique, optimised copy that focuses on specific keywords in order to rank highly on google. The copy needs to be well-written and easy to understand.

  • Meta Title & Description

Ensuring each of your web pages has a unique meta title (the title of the page which tells Google what the page is about) and a meta description (the snippet of text that appears below the title in the SERPs) is another important part of SEO.  

  • Link Building

Link building is a part of SEO which aims to gain links from other websites. Each link to your website from a reputable source is a good sign to Google, as these links are effectively ‘votes’ for your website. Combined, this alludes to the popularity of the website. The aim of link building is, therefore, to gain high-quality links in order to improve the ranking position of the website.  

  • User-Friendly Website

The user-friendliness of your website is relevant to SEO. If your website is unresponsive, slow and difficult to use – it’s not going to get a good ranking on google. 

Social Media Optimisation (SMO)

Social Media Optimisation is a digital marketing method which focuses on making your social media platforms engaging enough to bring traffic to the website. 

  • Create Shareable Content

Increasing social links through SMO involves developing content that people want to share and link to. Creating a blog on your website, for example, is ideal for this method of SMO as it is easy to link to. 

  • Make Sharing Content Easy 

This method of SMO involves adding share and social link buttons to your website and blog in order to encourage sharing, recommending or bookmarking. 

  • Providing Value to Users

This includes adding outbound links into your content even if it doesn’t help drive traffic to your website. This helps your website as you will gain a loyal follower base who will see you as a fountain of knowledge. Valuable content also helps with SEO as Google’s rank brain algorithm decides that useful resources should be at the top of the SERPs.  

  • Rewarding Loyal Followers

This type of Social Media Optimisation involves rewarding your loyal followers with the occasional ‘thank you’, follow back, or even competition prize. By letting them know you value their support, you will gain a loyal follower for life.  

Do SEO and SMO help one another? 

Whereas SEO mainly focuses on improving your websites ranking and the ability to drive visitors through the likes of Google - SMO focuses on driving traffic via social media platforms. Both SEO and SMO operate in different spheres, but they do impact one another.

The main priority of both SEO and SMO is to drive traffic to your website. It makes sense that they should work together to bring as much traffic in as possible.

Though no one truly knows precisely how much different factors affect the Google ranking position of a website, it has become clear that social signals do affect SEO rankings indirectly. In fact, in 2010 retweets on Twitter were even described as a ‘new form of link building’. More recently, another study was conducted which concluded that a larger presence on social media does gain a higher place on the SERPs.

In fact, to see SMO impacting SEO, just search the name of a popular brand on Google. It’s more than likely their Twitter account will be listed within the first 5 results.

Mcdonalds SMO

This is clear evidence that Social Media does have an impact on SERP’s.

Likewise, if you’re spending time and money on SMO, directing people to your website from social media, or trying to gain links from other businesses via social media, then it is important that you have a high-quality website with a good user experience.

Driving visitors to a website with a poor user experience will just result in a high bounce rate (single page visits). The user-friendliness of a website is part of SEO. Therefore, it is clear to see that SMO can also be impacted by SEO.

Why SEO and SMO Should Work Together

 SEO is a fundamental part of digitally marketing your business and SMO is gaining importance as social media becomes a larger part of everyday life. If you do one without the other, it is likely that your business will be left behind.

Google changes their ranking factors frequently, so it is important that your social media platforms are fully optimised. The value of social signals could change in the future, so SMO will ensure you’re prepared if their value increases. Furthermore, SMO is a good way to drive traffic and increase brand awareness.
However, you also need to ensure your website is fully optimised as this is where your conversions will happen. This is why SEO is essential and should be used in conjunction with SMO.

Depending on the business, the benefits from SMO can sometimes be seen quicker than the benefits of SEO. However, if you stop updating and optimising your social media platforms, the traffic can bottom out quickly.

SEO, on the other hand, is more long-term. If you achieve a high-ranking position for your website through SEO, it is less likely that you will lose mass amounts of traffic if you pause SEO efforts for a day or two.

Therefore, though they have different methods of driving traffic, every business marketing strategy should ensure SEO and SMO work together in harmony to drive as many unique visitors to your website as possible.

Do you need help with either SEO or SMO for your website? Get in touch with our SEO experts today to find out how we can help you.

Even though search engines are complex and technologically advanced systems, they are by no means perfect, and often, are not as effective as we'd all like them to be. For instance, search engines can sometimes struggle to interpret website data. To help search engines better understand the information on our webpage, we can 'mark-up' our webpages with something called 'schema markup', which makes page data easier for search engines to read and interpret.

Although schema markup has been around for a while, and is a very a powerful form of optimisation, very few sites actually use it and are missing out on potential benefits. In some cases, this is simply down to lack of knowledge, so with this article we hope to help our readers understand schema markup, and how to best use it.

What is Schema Markup?

Implementing Schema markup is the process of adding structured data elements to the code in your webpages. These structured elements make it easy for search engines to quickly, and easily read your web page, so that they can interpret your data and represent it in the correct way for appropriate searches. As a result of this structure, the search engines can very quickly pick out elements from your pages to show in the appropriate search result formats e.g. images, price lists, reviews, etc.

For example, let's assume you're writing an article about Philadelphia - the film that allowed Tom Hanks to pick up his first academy awards - you can mark it up using the 'movie' item type to inform the search engine that your page is about a film, and not the city, or the brand of cheese, and that way it will be picked up by the search engines and potentially displayed as part of their search results.

 

So, as you can see from the above snippet, Google have output a result that represents the film, gathering their images, links, dates, etc. from a variety of sources online. If you use schema markup correctly then they would potentially use your site as a source, and provide a link to it for the user to follow.

If your webpage isn't marked up in this way, it can still be read by the search engines of course, but essentially the easier and faster you make this for the likes of Google, the more likely your site will be shown in results like this. So, adding structured data allows you to provide clear context to your information.

Another example of the use of structured data can be seen below, and in this instance the searcher has entered a term that Google have interpreted as - this person wants to see a film reel type result of batman films by date. This type of result displays a chronological order of the Batman films based on the search term 'Batman Film Series'. 

There are in fact many different structures or layouts in the search engine results these days, and they all essentially come for schema markup from within appropriate websites. For example you've probably seen location-based results, image or product based results, event driven results, news feeds, etc.

Deciding what structured data to use can be difficult, and you may be worried that not every search engine will be able to understand your structured data markup - but there's no need to be concerned because this structured data has a standard which is controlled by Schema.org. In fact, if you want to learn more about schema you can visit their website, which is a great place to start when your planning your structured markup content.

Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Yandex collaborated - yes, you read that correctly -  to develop a specific vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can implement directly into your HTML, to help you define the different elements of your content - like reviews, opening times, dates of events, or images. This vocabulary helps to standardise schema markup and is fundamentally an agreed-upon set of code markers, or tags, that inform all the major search engines exactly what to do with your data.  

How Does Schema Benefit SEO?

Schema markup helps to clearly define data elements in a page, often referred to as microdata, which in turn will make it easier for search engines to pull out the relevant parts of your webpage as and when they need it.

Search engines often refer to this microdata as Rich Data, Rich Cards or Rich Snippets, which essentially means that these bite size chunks allow them to produce richer results for their customer – the searcher. 

So, by making it easier and faster for the search engines to index and retrieve your data, you in turn increase your chances of them choosing to show your website in search engine results, increasing your visibility and potentially your revenue.

We all use search engines to find products we want, and we all want faster results that are easier to decipher without having to click through lots of pages. So, this is what the search engines recognise, and schema markup allows them to get that data to the screen quicker, and present it in a smart way.

Take the below result for example, we don’t have to click on the page to see the price, the review rating, or whether they have stock of the Java Peanuts, it’s done simply in the search engine result itself with the aid of schema markup.

 

Here is an example of a website using schema markup 

Now, schema by itself will not necessarily improve your rankings, but the more user friendly and search engine friendly you make your website, the more likely it is that you’ll appear high up in the search engine results. As discussed, schema markup will improve your visual offering and make it easier for the search engines to reach-in and pick out appropriate information; so really, it’s an obvious choice to include them. 

Not only that; as we're in the age of artificial intelligence, and as voice search becomes more and more popular, the need to make your web pages easier for search engines to read is becoming increasingly more important.

Despite all this, only a small factor of the web uses schema markup on their websites - with schema.org claiming that only over 10 million websites have implemented schema markup, which is around 1% of the total number of websites in the world wide web.

So, what's stopping SEO's and website owners from implementing schema into their websites?

Why Aren't People Using Schema Markup?

If you're new to schema, or you struggle to understand code, marking up your webpage can be difficult, which is why most SEO's are put off by use this SEO technique. Even tools such as Google's Structured Data Markup Helper, which was designed to help you implement schema independently, requires you to have a good understanding of schema in order for you to use it to mark up your webpage. 

Also, many SEO's struggle to understand schema markup vocabulary, and find that the information provided on the schema.org site hard to follow, and due to the lack of help and resources, many just give up trying to implement schema to their webpage, missing out on all the benefits.

Many people are also put off by using schema markup, because they feel it provides zero benefit in terms of traffic, with some SEO's even suggesting that they lose traffic from featured snippets because the web searcher can find what they're searching for without having to click through to their site. In most cases, this isn't going to be strictly true; of course if you're result shows data like a higher price, zero reviews or no stock, compared to the next result showing the opposite, then yes you just shot yourself in the foot, but to the end user this was useful information, right? So like anything its a case of strategizing how you present your markup in the results. 

Despite the misunderstandings of schema markup, it is a seriously beneficial and useful SEO technique, and is one that is relatively easy to utilise if you have the understanding, and coding ability to implement. Here at Designer Websites, we have a team of expert web developers and SEO specialists that can optimise your website using schema markup, among other techniques of course, so please get in touch if you'd like to discuss further. 

To request a quote or for more information on our website optimisation services, please click here.

With billions of daily website views coming from traffic on search engine results pages, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is vital to any digital marketing plan. Across the globe, businesses desperately strive to achieve the top spots on Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in order to generate the most traffic to their business. However, in order to achieve these positions, it is much more complicated than simply having a fast website or just targeting keywords. With the most popular search engines constantly tweaking and altering algorithms, businesses are constantly kept on their toes in an efforts to master SEO.

There is no quick fix to achieving and maintaining a space on the front page of SERPs (no matter what some dodgy SEO companies may tell you!). It takes a combination of techniques to fully optimise your website. Ultimately your website should be very easy and quick to use, it should contain valuable unique content, it should be hosted professionally, it should properly handle errors, redirects, sitemaps, indexing bots, etc. In fact the list of boxes that your website should now tick is very long indeed, and most of these elements are very technical and will need properly qualified and experienced people to implement them. 

SEO now comes hand-in-hand with user experience optimisation, and Google will no longer accept cheap tricks to get to the top of the results page. Instead, Google explains that"Search engine optimization is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.With that in mind, when considering how to SEO, below are some things to consider.

Keyword Analysis

Although we’ve already mentioned it’s not the only way to help rankings, it remains a very important part of SEO. It involves researching what people are searching on Google when they’re looking for a service like the one your business provides. Then you can target this traffic by having the keywords appear in all the right sections of your website (such as the title tag, Meta tags, page headings, etc) and ads. 

SEO Copy Writing

In the not too distant past, website optimisation experts were often guilty of filling up pages with keyword-rich copy, but these days it's absolutely vital to make your content more user-friendly and readable, but this doesn't mean you forget keywords altogether, it just means you need to work harder to include appropriate keywords, whilst making the content engaging. Copywriting is a balancing act between targeting keywords and providing interesting and useful content for the user. No one wants to visit a website that’s full of useless information, and Google will penalise you for cutting corners. Instead of flooding your copy with keywords, it’s key to maintain readability and an appropriate keyword density.

Coding

To ensure your website can be easily indexed by search engine bots, and that it will run at an optimum speed, it’s important to get your coding correct. You want code-light pages that load very quickly, you need to use the latest compression algorithms, you need to utilise the latest coding standards and include important meta information, rich cards, schema tags, etc. If you want to rank highly across different browsers, your coding has to up-to-date, it has to be responsive to ensure it works on any device, and is cross browser compatible. Avoid template type solutions, or systems where the coding structures are likely to be old and out-dated.

Optimised Website Hosting 

Providing super fast and reliable website hosting is absolutely essential to a well-optimised website, otherwise, all of your other SEO efforts will have been in vain. Correct error handling procedures and redirecting is also really important. You either need a dedicated web server or at least a host who has a very high end dedicated server and holds fewer than 50 websites on it themselves. The speed of the server is significantly more important than it's location, so make sure that the response times are very good. 

Link Outreach/Building

Not to be confused with dodgy link-building of the past – a technique that led to a steady stream of dodgy links spamming the internet (through directories, etc), which is now often branded a black-hat technique. Trying to acquire links synthetically can earn you a Google penalty, which can get you removed from SERPs. However, there is still value in worthy links that are achieved by content creation specialists liaising with site owners. Google still uses inbound links as a part of their algorithm, but now they are more interested in the value of these links rather than the quantity you've amassed. Make sure you avoid any dodgy link building tricks, just focus on networking effectively, and making sure your content is interesting and easy to link to. Ideally, generate content that naturally generates links and shares from real users.

Social Media

With the majority of people checking their social media before they’ve even got out of bed, it’s now more important than ever to make sure your business is within the social matrix. Although there is still some debate about how valuable (if at all) social media is, it's good for brand awareness and potential back links.  By having a well-oiled social marketing plan, you can potentially improve your rankings on the search engine results, so it's worth doing! 

Mobile Friendly Websites

Another development that highlights how SEO is constantly evolving to fit in with the daily lives of users. Search engines such as google value the way your website translates onto other devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

 

When considering how to optimise a website the above is simply a brief introduction, and is by no means a comprehensive list of techniques. Website optimisation is actually a varied and a constantly evolving process, which requires the expert knowledge of SEO practitioners. Here at Designer Websites, the wealth of experience we have developed over the past decade ensures we understand the technical aspects of website optimisation better than anyone else.

Click here to learn more about our SEO services or request a free quote for our SEO services here today. 

Keyword Cannibalisation

'Cannibalisation' is a very scary-sounding word, isn't it? It certainly conjures up some very grim mental images. While keyword cannibalisation isn't quite as grisly a concept as its name might suggest, it can cause big problems for your website, making it difficult for search engines to identify each page's purpose and potentially dragging down your rankings as a result.

If you're unfamiliar with the idea of keyword cannibalisation, fear not - in this article, we'll talk about what it is, how it happens, and how to rectify it.

What is keyword cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalisation is what happens when your website contains multiple pages that target the same keyword(s). Ideally, every search term you wish to rank for should be targeted on one page and one page only - otherwise, you're just forcing your own pages to compete with ('cannibalise') one another.

Here's an example of how this might happen. Imagine you own a second-hand furniture shop, and you want your website to be the #1 Google result for the popular keyphrase 'antique furniture'. In order to achieve this, you:

  • Use the phrase 'antique furniture' numerous times on your homepage
  • Dedicate one of your internal category pages to 'antique furniture'
  • Write a blog post all about antique furniture, sharing lots of helpful information for potential customers

This may seem like a strong strategy, but what you're actually doing is making it difficult for Google and other search engines to identify which of your three 'antique furniture' pages they should actually be listing as a result for that query.

Why is keyword cannibalisation a problem?

As mentioned above, the problem with keyword cannibalisation is that those pages with the same keywords will be competing against one another in the SERPs. As a result, some or all of those pages may not rank for your chosen keywords at all, or all may just rank lower than if just one page was targeted. That's an issue, because in spite of the keywords they share, each of the competing pages may actually serve a totally different purpose from its brethren.

Generally speaking, Google will not list 2 or more pages from the same website among its top 10 results for a given query UNLESS the algorithm is pretty certain that the user is looking for that specific website. (For instance, Googling 'eBay toys' will bring up a number of pages from eBay, whereas the top organic results for 'antique furniture' are gathered from a variety of different sites.) Google like to hedge their bets, and in most cases, they've got a better chance of satisfying the user if they show 10 results from 10 different sources rather than taking multiple pages from a single site.

This means that, when Google's crawlers look at your website, you want it to be absolutely crystal-clear which page is best suited to which search term. If you're presenting several different pages as possible responses to the query 'antique furniture', Google will get confused and may pick the wrong page to rank (e.g. a blog post rather than your main 'antique furniture' category, which might have had a better chance of driving clicks and conversions). Worse still, if none of the competing pages particularly stand out from the crowd, they may even decide not to rank any of your pages for that keyword at all.

Here are some other issues that may occur as a result of keyword cannibalisation:

  • Content Quality - It would be difficult to have a plethora of pages on the subject of  ‘antique oak furniture’ (for example) and ensure that each one was made up of interesting, useful and original content. Spreading your content too thinly across too many competing pages will inevitably reduce the overall quality of your website, and when it comes to ranking, unique high quality content beats quantity hands-down. Poor content not only leads to poor user experience, it also leads to high bounce rates and discourages people from sharing pages.

  • External Links - Even if you do manage to make your competing pages share-worthy, you risk splitting your link equity and diluting the search engine 'juice' you receive when other websites link to yours. It's far better to have a single page/resource for each subject you wish to cover, because that way, anyone who links to you will easily be able to identify which of your URLs they should send their users to. If 10 people want to link to a page about 'antique oak furniture', you ideally want all of them to link to the same part of your website - this will have a greater impact on your rankings than dividing those 10 links between multiple destinations.

  • Internal Links - The above applies to internal links, too. Internal links are a big ranking factor; in order to determine the hierarchy of your website (i.e. which pages are most important), Google and the other search engines pay close attention to which of your own pages you link to from other parts of your website, how often you link to each page, and what words you use when you do so. If you've got just 1 page about 'antique oak furniture', you can simply link to that one every time you mention that subject elsewhere on your site. If there are 30 'antique oak furniture' links on your website - 10 to a category page, 10 to a specific product, and 10 to a blog post you wrote - it will be difficult for the bots to ascertain which of those linked pages might make the best result when somebody types 'antique oak furniture' into a search engine.

What can I do about keyword cannibalisation?

If you’re over-using keywords on purpose because you believe it will boost your rankings, we would strongly recommend that you stop right now. Keyword cannibalism often happens by accident, but some site owners, and even some online marketing agencies, mistakenly think that using the same keyword in multiple titles and headings throughout a website will help that website rank better for the cannibalised keyword. As we've explained, though, that simply isn't the case.

Hopefully, you’re now in a position to avoid keyword cannibalisation from the get-go. When creating a website, you can avoid this error by making sure you have thoroughly planned the site architecture. Every page should be detailed, unique, and serve its own distinct purpose. If two of your pages are giving users more or less the same information on the same subject, then one of them is a waste, and likely damaging your rankings. Furthermore, all keywords, titles and header tags should be unique to their page. Once you know what pages you need and what each one's function is, it should be relatively easy to choose the keyword(s) for each page using a tool like Keyword Planner.

If you’ve already got a cannibalisation problem (not to be confused with a real-life cannibal problem, which we unfortunately cannot help with), then it’s time to clean up your pages. Start by going through your website and identifying groups of pages that are targeting the same keyword; then, review each group and pick the ONE page from each that you think best addresses the search term in question. (Tip: take a look at which page currently ranks highest for that keyword on Google - it's probably safe to assume that that page will have the best shot of climbing higher once the cannibalisation issue is resolved.)

Once you've selected one page for each keyword, you have 2 choices regarding what to do with the other cannibal pages:

  • Get rid of them. If the cannibal pages don't actually serve any purpose to the user, the best thing to do is delete them and use 301 redirects to send their URLs to the good-quality page you've chosen to keep. This will mean that any links to the cannibalised pages pass their ranking 'juice' to the good page instead. Anyone who attempts to visit any of the deleted pages in the future will be redirected to the page you kept.

  • Retarget them. If your cannibalised pages are important to the broader user experience on your website, then you can keep them, but what you'll need to do is de-optimise them and target different keywords instead. For instance, let's say that you've decided to use a category page as your landing page for the term 'antique furniture' - that keyword also appears heavily on your homepage, and since you obviously can't delete your homepage, you should instead do a bit of keyword research and identify a different search term to target there. (Perhaps a more generic term that covers your entire offering, rather than just your antique line.)

The golden rule when it comes to keyword cannibalisation is that every page of your website should offer something unique. If every page serves a different purpose, there's little risk of crossover between keywords, page copy, and meta tags because you'll need different words to describe each page's function. Keyword cannibalisation can be a pretty good indicator that you have multiple pages stepping on each other's toes and offering basically the same information/service to the end user - if that's the case, either strip those unnecessary pages out or justify their existence by giving them their own unique focus.

If you need help with your website’s SEO, our team of experts are more than happy to help. Contact Designer Websites now to discuss your requirements.

When most of us want to buy something, find a location, or get the answer to a question, we go to Google, right? We like the results, we’re used to how it works...we even use the word 'Google' as a verb to mean 'search for information about'. No wonder Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of Internet users.

Today, we'd like to take a look at whether this pronounced user preference for Google might wane due to the ever-changing appearance of their results pages, or if - on the contrary - these changes have helped to make the search engine even better. Before we can answer this question, we first need to understand which aspects of Google have changed and the effects of those alterations.

As you probably know, the pages that appear when you search for something in any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) are known as SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Over the past year or two, Google have repeatedly changed the way their own SERPs look, and the compounded effect of their changes - particularly in the last year - has seen the traditional organic results pushed further and further down the page.

In this article, we’ll attempt to assess the impact of the changing face of the Google SERPs on organic results.

So How Have Things Changed?

More Ad Space

Firstly, there are now more paid adverts at the top of the SERPs than ever before. In February 2016, Google began to show as many as 4 AdWords ads at the top of the SERP, where once there were only 2 at most. This inevitably began to push organic results further down the page. (Interestingly, up to 3 ads now appear at the bottom of the results page too.)

At the present time, paying for ads through Google AdWords is the easiest way to gain visibility on the SERPs - provided you have a big enough budget, of course! Google place their adverts before organic results because it's in their financial interest to do so - they get money every time somebody clicks an AdWords ad. Google ads have been around for many years and most users are more than used to seeing them at the top of the SERPs, and so it seems unlikely that people will stop using the search engine because of this change; however, if Google continue to increase the number of ads displayed before their organic search results, the number of people clicking on those organic results will likely get smaller and smaller.

Here is a typical Google SERP in which the ads are prioritised and take up most of the space above the fold (the point where you have to scroll down to see more). Notice that the only non-paid search result displayed above the fold is the location of a nearby retailer. 

Google SERP for 'tiles'  

Note also that each individual AdWords ad takes up quite a lot of space by itself - this is due to the addition of 'ad extensions' such as review ratings and additional links.

Featured Snippets

Another relatively new feature that pushes the traditional organic results further down the SERP is the featured snippet, which is now considerably more common than it used to be. In short, a featured snippet is a brief extract from a web page that Google thinks will serve as a handy, concise answer to the query you entered. Although these are organic rather than paid, they still take up a fairly large chunk of real estate near the top of the SERP.

Featured snippets are a game-changer for the simple reason that, when they appear, they appear above all traditional organic listings. For some searches, all that's now visible above the fold is a featured snippet and the paid ads section, meaning that these snippets are now arguably more valuable than the coveted #1 organic position. (Some people have even called the featured snippet slot 'position 0' or 'rank 0'). The introduction of featured snippets has changed the way people use Google as they provide users with answers without even requiring them to click onto a web page.

Here's what a featured snippet looks like:

Featured snippet for 'what is a web sling'

Click here to find out how to gain the featured snippet spot for your keywords.

Rich Cards

Rich cards are another way for Google to give you information in the body of the SERP itself (instead of requiring you to click through to a web page). For example, if you search for the title of a film, a rich card with the movie poster, release date, ratings, et cetera will all appear in the form of a rich card:

Rich card for the movie 'Titanic'

Other types of rich cards may be displayed when searching for courses, recipes or events: Google will supply a list of what it finds on offer, rather than having the user manually compare lots of websites one at a time.

As with snippets, this feature allows Google users to get the answers they need without ever having to click onto a website. Rich cards and featured snippets have definitely made things easier for the user, but whether they have made things easier for business owners is a different question.

Local Results (Map Pack)

The map pack is what we call the group of localised results that appears when Google thinks you're searching for a business or a location in a specific place. For instance, if you search for 'tile shop' and Google sees that you're currently in Dinas Powys, your SERP might include a map pack like this one:

Map pack

This is a vastly useful feature for Google users as it allows them to see what's around them at a glance. These results are organic (not paid) and display business information clearly and concisely, so it is a useful feature for business owners as well. The only thing you need to do to be included in this section is to provide your business information to Google through Google My Business.

Shopping Results

Google Shopping Results

AdWords ads aren't the only paid results you might see within the Google SERP these days. There are also Google Shopping results: product-specific listings that appear when your query indicated a desire to buy something. Each Shopping ad includes a price, a picture, and the name of the product in question, along with the name of the website that sells it. Once again, this has definitely improved the experience for the user as they can view and compare an array of information right there on the SERP.

However, as the size and volume of these Shopping ads increase, the organic search engine results are getting pushed further down the page and becoming more visually unappealing compared to the snazzy product images. This decreases the chance of organic search results gaining clicks/conversions, while potentially increasing the number of businesses that might wish to start using Google Ads.

AMP Results

Google AMP result

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) results appear when a website has stripped their pages down to the bare necessities so as to improve loading speed on mobile devices. This means taking out unnecessary styling, formatting, bells and whistles while compressing image files and the like to make them as small and as speedy as possible. When a search occurs on a smartphone, Google may prioritise AMP results as these will theoretically deliver a superior user experience.

Many sites are now striving to make their web pages as lightweight as possible using Google's AMP technology. This may mean that non-AMP pages are increasingly left behind as users learn to favour organic results that load more or less instantaneously.

Less Space

With all of the above features and listings jockeying for position, the competition for space on the Google SERP is tougher than ever before. Even if a business ranks towards the top of the traditional organic listings, it will now be much lower down the page overall.

 Google SERP

In this example, not a single traditional organic result is visible above the fold. Instead, the screen is filled with AdWords ads, map listings, and Google Shopping results.

What is the impact of these SERP changes?

As you can see in the image above, paid ads now dominate the top of many SERPs (particularly where the search term is popular and highly competitive). The face of the Google SERP is in constant flux, but it's a fairly safe bet that AdWords will continue to be prioritised. This means that businesses who rely primarily on organic Google traffic may be in for a rough time; for instance, ranking in the 6th organic position for a popular keyword might have driven a lot of traffic to your site in the past, but that #6 slot may now be so far down the page it scarcely receives any clicks at all.

However, it's not necessarily all bad news. Although the traditional organic listings have been pushed down, there is still plenty of organic opportunity above the fold in the form of featured snippets, rich cards, and the map pack.

At the beginning of this article, we looked to address whether all of these SERP changes will impact the way people use Google. To answer that question, we believe Google works to make their SERPs the best they can possibly be for the user (while also endeavouring to maximise their own profits in the process). Google users can gain information quicker than ever before and the SERPs help them make shopping decisions more easily by comparing multiple websites' offerings at a glance. Increasing the number of AdWords ads at the top of the SERP seems to have been chiefly a money-motivated decision, but to be fair, the increasing prevalence of Shopping ads is arguably a user-motivated development, making it easy for searchers to view and evaluate lots of different products in seconds. Businesses may have been adversely affected by the decreased focus on standard organic results, but at the end of the day, Google are more interested in satisfying the people who use Google to search than in placating the business owners who use Google to drive traffic to their websites.

What can businesses affected by these changes do? 

The preference for paid ads over organic results doesn’t look like a trend that will reverse any time soon, meaning that businesses must continue to work harder at their SEO to appear towards the very top of the organic search results. To boost organic traffic and CTR, try to write content that targets the featured snippet box, and make sure you're listed on Google My Business so that you show up in the map pack.

Inevitably, it may also be time to review your paid marketing strategy (or indeed implement one for the first time). If Google AdWords and Google Shopping continue to dominate the top of the SERPs and it is your goal to be a part of that space, budgeting more money for paid advertising may be key. Ultimately, it is a good idea for businesses to try to appear in both the organic and paid results to maximise their visibility, so refreshing your content and paid advertising strategies is the key to staying relevant in the ever-changing SERP landscape. 

Need help driving organic or paid traffic to your website? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - our experts will be more than happy to assist you!

Google Fine Digital Marketing

Following a seven-year investigation by the European Commission, it was revealed today that Google will be fined a record-breaking £2.1 billion for abusing its power and dominating search results with its own AdWords-driven shopping services. This is the largest fine to be given out by the EU for a monopoly abuse case.

The case concludes that Google has been favouring its own comparison shopping service and the products on Google Shopping in the SERPS, thereby demoting competitor sites. Under EU antitrust rules, this is classed as illegal and a distortion of the market. The European Commission believes that this practice has denied other companies the ability to compete based on their merits, as well as denying consumers an accurate choice of products and services.

Google fervently denies these claims and stands by their opinion that their method provides consumers with the best shopping experience, making it easier for them to find the products they want.

However, despite their denial, Google has been given 90 days to cease these practices or face further penalties.

So, what could this mean for Digital Marketing?

Well, if Google have to change the appearance of its search engine results, something that they've systematically changed to dominate the online advertising space, then surely this will have a huge impact on their income streams, and on how we advertise websites! Google have 90% of the search market share in Europe alone, and whilst this form of advertising is becoming more and more expensive with its auction-style bidding, there's unfortunately no getting away from the fact that it works, and many businesses rely on it heavily for their businesses.

At the moment, Google generates a massive amount of its income through its advertising platform, and this fine whilst seemingly huge and record-breaking, is nothing compared to the loss they would incur if they had to stop using it. It's hard to see how they will get around this anti-trust ruling, but it will surely have an effect on millions of companies employing the advertising platform, and all those companies like ourselves who are work very closely with it.

Year by year, Google Ads are becoming more of a priority to Google, with the current number of Ads standing at 4 at the top of each SERP. This, along with the introduction of Google Business and local services, means that no organic search results are shown to users ‘before the fold’.

Google Ads

As can be seen in the image above, the entire right-hand side of the page is dominated by Google Shopping adverts. These are also paid for adverts, as can be seen by the small ‘sponsored’ badge at the top of the page. Due to this, most of the SERPs are dominated by adverts which have been paid for by those advertising companies. Google Ads even appear at the bottom of the page, meaning only the middle 10 results are organic. From this, it is easy to agree that consumers may not be provided with the best possible choice when it comes to shopping on Google.

You have to take your hats off to Google for their genius. Where else in the world can you find an example where a business owner pays an advertising company hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds in advertising spend, where you can't speak to anyone, you can't get any loyalty discounts, and you even have to rely on their own statistics about the click costs, click stats, fraud clicks, etc. They absolutely dominate this space, they most definitely monopolise, and they do of course favour anything that earn's money for Google! But, is this unfair practice worthy of a fine, or just a phenomenally intelligent advertising platform?

It is unsure what changes Google may make to the world’s most popular search engine, but if they do impose changes it is likely that they will create a new way to fill the gap left by the favouritism of its own Google Shopping channel. Digital Marketers may need to change their methods to fit in with the changes and come up with new marketing strategies. It will definitely be interesting to see where this goes.

However, there is also a chance that Google will not impose any changes at all and just pay the higher fine after the 90-day period. This fine is the first in the three-pronged investigation into the companies practices and so over the coming months, we may see the super-power fined for other anti-trust practices.

For more updates on this story, you can follow our Twitter or our Facebook here!

Linking to your own website

When attempting to achieve high Google rankings, there are lots of different factors to take into consideration. For most keywords, you won't get anywhere near the first page unless you have a user-friendly website that is technically sound, loads quickly, and contains excellent content that is ultra-relevant to the topic in question and ultra-helpful for your site visitors.

If you've ticked all of those boxes, congratulations, but the bad news is that you're still not guaranteed a prominent position in the SERPs. There's another ranking factor that still carries a huge amount of sway: links.

How search engines use links

To search engines like Google and Bing, links from one website to another are like votes of confidence. If somebody links to you, then as far as Google's bots are concerned, they're effectively saying 'I endorse this website and believe that it is interesting, helpful and/or entertaining'. Even if the link was created because somebody was trashing your company on a forum, the link itself will still pass 'juice' to your website and therefore improve your chances of ranking in search results.

Of course, it's not quite as simple as 'more links = better rankings'. For one thing, some links are worth considerably more than others - you might have a hundred links from obscure blogs and local businesses, but if a competitor gains one link from a well-known, high-authority website (think BBC News, the Financial Times, a government page), they may well blow you out of the water overnight.

Furthermore, certain links can do more harm than good when it comes to your SERP rankings. Google's quality guidelines warn against creating manipulative links - this means that your website may be penalised (i.e. lose its rankings) if:

  • You pay for links on other people's websites (adverts should be marked with a 'nofollow' tag so as not to pass link juice)
  • You build a lot of links from websites that aren't relevant to yours in any way
  • You deliberately create links for the sole purpose of affecting your organic rankings
  • You participate in shady link exchange schemes, private blog networks (PBNs), etc.

Your rankings may also be adversely affected if you have a lot of links from spammy and/or low-quality websites. For instance, you probably don't want any online casinos or pornography sites linking to you (although this may not apply if your own website falls into one of these categories).

Why not just create a whole bunch of websites and link to yourself?

Genuine organic links from high-quality websites usually don't come along on their own, and link outreach (contacting other site owners to ask if they'll link to your page from theirs) is a time-consuming task that is by no means guaranteed to get results.

With that in mind, it's not hard to see why some webmasters - and some SEO/marketing agencies - have the following thought:

"Why bother begging other people for links when I could just create a few websites of my own and link to myself?"

Here's an example: if your main website is an online store that sells laptop computers, you might set up a blog on a different domain, write a couple of articles about how to choose the right laptop, and cleverly include a few links to your main site - your 'money' site - in the body of each post. You might then repeat this process a few times so that you end up with a number of different domains all linking to your laptop store.

From one point of view, this is a sound enough strategy. Whereas you can spend hours researching and emailing link prospects that you may never hear back from, it doesn't take long to create a simple site using Blogger or Wordpress, and you're guaranteed a new link at the end of it. But is this really an effective way to bolster your link profile and boost your organic rankings?

We'd argue that no, it isn't. Here are three reasons why:

1. It's potentially manipulative - and thus leaves you open to Google penalties.

At time of writing, there's nothing in Google's guidelines on link schemes and unnatural links that specifically forbids creating new websites and linking them to your main site. However, here's what they do say:

"Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site."

This statement is deliberately vague - it puts the onus on you, the webmaster, to judge whether your link creation tactics are manipulative or not. If you participate in any questionable linking practices, you're potentially opening yourself up to present and future Google penalties, and as anyone who saw their rankings fall when Penguin and Panda were first brought in will tell you, that's not a risk worth taking.

There is no doubt that the tactic of creating new websites for the express purpose of building PageRank-passing links to your 'money' site could be classed as manipulative. The new sites will likely add no value whatsoever to the web, and the links themselves will probably be a dead giveaway, making it clear that your satellite websites were set up for unnatural SEO purposes and not to serve any particular need.

2. The links will be practically worthless anyway.

Broadly speaking, it's good to have inbound links from a variety of different domains, and it's true that creating a dozen simple Wordpress blogs and giving each one its own unique web address is a quick and easy way to grow your list of linking domains. But here's the thing about links: quantity is less important than quality. As mentioned above, a single link from a high-authority domain is worth more than a hundred links from low-authority websites, and a brand new blog that was created in a hurry and doesn't contain any real content is about as low-authority as it gets.

In other words, you can spend weeks setting up new websites and linking to yourself, but any positive impact on your rankings will be minimal - you're better off spending that time looking for genuine link/collaboration opportunities that will actually benefit your website. (At least then you won't be at risk of getting hit by a thin content penalty!)

But okay - let's assume that you're taking a slightly more considered approach to this. Instead of creating a basic blog page, publishing one or two keyword-stuffed posts containing over-optimised links to your main site, then repeating these two steps ad infinitum, let's imagine that you've taken the time to create a high-quality website that really does add value to the web. You've written a lot of genuinely useful, insightful content; you've given the site an appealing design instead of just using a template; and you've only linked to your 'money' website where it's actually appropriate to do so, perhaps scattering a few other external links throughout the new site for balance. Maybe you've even done such a good job that several other people have linked to your new website, thereby boosting its reputation in the eyes of the search engine bots.

But here's the thing...

3. Why not put all of that effort into your main website?

Creating good content and building a website's reputation is extremely time-consuming, and if you're prepared to do all of the above to ensure that the links on your satellite site(s) will actually have a positive effect, it rather begs the question: why aren't you prepared to do that on your 'money' site?

Instead of using your time and resources to convince Google that your linking site is legitimate, it's surely better to create high-quality content for your main site that will drive more traffic and increase user engagement in the place where it actually affects your company's bottom line.

* * *

One final clarification: what we're not necessarily saying here is that you should never link between two websites that you control. If you own two separate websites, each with its own independent reason to exist, then it's fine to link between them as long as there is a natural reason to do so.

For instance, if you have one website that sells laser printers and another that sells toner cartridges, it may well make sense to link from one to the other - not only will this potentially benefit your Google rankings, it will also provide a better online experience for your users (since someone who buys a printer will naturally want to know where they can buy toner for it in the future).

Worried about your website's link profile? Not sure of the best way to climb the Google rankings? Our SEO specialists can help - contact Designer Websites today to discuss your requirements.

At this year's Google Marketing Next Keynote 2017, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Bhanu Narasimhan, Bill Kee, Karen Yao, Roshan Khan and Jennifer Liu announced a range of new and exciting Google updates which will be provided to the public before the end of the year. Many of these updates strive to make many everyday marketing tasks quicker and more accessible to everyone, alongside working to improve every businesses conversion rates. 

If you happened to miss this year's Google Marketing Next Keynote, we've put together the top 10 useful features and insights we took note of while watching the presentation.  

1. The Introduction of Google Lens

Google lens will now allow you to view the world through Google. Whether it is a restaurant you want to see the reviews for, a flower you don’t know the species of or the password on a wifi router, simply direct your Google lens at it and all the information you need to know will become available. 

2. New Beta AMP Landing Pages

With each second your page needs to load, the bounce rate increases by 20%. Google is introducing the option to have new AMP landing pages wich will speed up your ads vastly, leading to an increased conversion rate. 70% of people search for something before they buy it, so it is in your best interest to ensure your ads are the first thing they see. 

3. Introduction of Location Extensions and Store Visits

Google will soon be introducing location extensions to the general public, which means that when your video advert is displayed, your businesses location, opening times and distance away from the nearest store will appear beneath the video. This will hopefully improve the rate of consumers visiting businesses in person, which can then be tracked through the store visits data Google introduced 2 years ago. 

4. New Tools to Measure Store Sales Will Link Google Ads to Offline Sales

91% of people decide to buy a product after seeing a relevant ad, which is why Google are introducing two new tools which will allow you to see how your ads directly related to offline sales. The first will allow you to import transaction data into AdWords to see store sales and revenue at the campaign level you use for search and shopping campaigns.

The second new tool will allow you to take advantage of Googles 3rd party partnerships to get store sales data. Their partnerships cover 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the US, and paired with the previous store visits Google map data, this new feature will be able to link offline purchases to online ads. 

5. Customer Patterns and Life Events To Link to Google Ad Targeting

New Customer Pattern and Life Event data will help businesses understand where people shop and when life's biggest events take place such as graduation, moving and getting married. This key information will allow businesses to make their ads even more targeted to their key consumers.

6. Follow Your Customers Buying Path with Google Attribution

Instead of all your data being based on last click attribution, Google Analytics will soon let you see precisely what adverts lead the consumer towards buying your product. Therefore, instead of the analytics stating your consumer came through organic traffic, you will now be able to see if they saw an advert for your product 1 week ago, watched a youtube video for your product, had a retargeted ad and then finally searched for your product directly. 

Through unique reach information, you will be able to see exactly how well your adverts performed which will contribute to making more precise marketing decisions in the future. 

7. Google 360 Will Manage All Campaigns in One Place

It has been found that there is a shocking 40% higher bounce rate from mobile landing pages when compared to desktop. Google is working to improve this figure with new landing page features on Google 360. A new landing page tab will include reports about each of your current campaigns, so you can keep an eye on it at all times and pay attention to the pages that are not performing as well as they should be. 

8. Google Adwords and Google Optimize Will Soon Integrate

Adwords will also be integrating with Google Optimize, meaning different variants of your landing pages can be tested on different members of your audience. This A/B split testing is available for use on web pages at the moment, but bringing it to landing pages is sure to provide the most insightful analytics for business.

9. DoubleClick to Introduce DoubleClick Bid Manager

This feature will use machine learning to analyse past campaigns and recommend the right inventory, audiences and budget based on your goals. It will also provide an estimated impression volume and reach, which will be a useful insight for many campaign managers. This is currently available in beta and will be provided to all customers in the coming months. 

10. Google Home To Develop Local Inventory Knowledge 

The Google Assitant is getting smarter and can now tell you precisely where you can find a shop selling the product you are searching for. If a company would like their business information to be available to Google assistant, they must submit their local inventory data to Google. Google Assistant will then be able to provide your consumers with directions, opening times and price of the product consumers search for. With 20% of all searches now being made by voice, this update will be widely useful for many businesses across the globe.

For more information about any of these features, you can watch the full presentation below:

If you'd like to use some of these new features for your business but need some guidance, then you've come to the right place, our development teams and SEO team are already working with these features and can help your business take advantage of them too. Contact us today to request a website optimisation quote.