A&L Scrap Car Dealers Website

A&L Scrap Car Dealers, the new addition to A&L Vehicle Recycling, is a family-run scrap car dealership located in the heart of Barry, South Wales. With more than 10 years’ experience within the scrap car and recycling industry, A&L provides professional and reliable services that their customers within the local and surrounding areas can trust. A&L’s business has been developed throughout the years on the excellent recommendations of their loyal customers in both scrap car and scrap metal services. However, without an established online presence apart from a few listings in local directories, A&L weren’t fully able to reach a wide range of customers that could elevate their business to the next level. That’s where we came in!

How did we help?

A&L approached the team here at Designer Websites as they were looking to build the online presence that the company desperately needed. Having been without a website, potential customers were having to find information on the company and the services that they provided via directory listings or through the business’ Facebook page, both of which contained scarce details. We were tasked with creating a functional website that delivered the important information about the company and the services that they offered as well as integrating a quote system that potential customers could use to discover the value of their car if they were looking to scrap it.

As A&L had no previous website, our design, SEO and development team had to work from scratch to deliver what was needed. As a result, comprehensive keyword research was conducted in order to identify industry-specific search terms, so that pages could be designed and created to include optimised copy and SEO. This enabled A&L to better capture online searchers and rank highly within search engine results. Once the design and copywriting were complete, we created the unique quote system that allowed users to input their car’s registration number and receive a free, no-obligation quote for the value of their car. This was developed in-house with every step of the process carefully curated, including a postcode lookup, which helps populate address fields. The quote system has been integrated with https://ukvehicledata.co.uk/pricing in order for accurate and reliable vehicle data to be pulled and displayed to the user.

We are proud to announce that the new A&L Scrap Car Dealers website is now live and can be viewed here!

If you are interested in having an existing site re-designed or having a new, bespoke site developed for your business, then please feel free to get in touch with the Designer Websites team below.

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Voice Search & SEO

It’s pretty safe to assume that what was once dubbed a ‘fad’ that was destined to fade away, has now surpassed all expectations and has become a staple in the lives of millions of people across the world.

Over the past few years especially, voice search has experienced a monumental increase in use and popularity offering online users a different way to search the internet and gather the information they need, with 55% of teens and 41% of adults using voice search more than once a day (Google) and voice search alone growing 35x since 2008 (KPCB). The growth of voice search isn’t expected to slow down either, it is predicted that by 2020 50% of all searches will be made by voice (Comscore).

But why has voice search grown so much? Lets’ take a look!

There are 2 main reasons behind the rise in popularity:

  1. Searching with your voice is faster than typing - According to Bing, searching with your voice is 3.7x faster than typing. With faster searches comes faster results, so there’s no surprise as to why more people are choosing to use their voice rather than a keyboard.
  1. Voice search is perfect for mobile searches – The popularity and increase in accessibility to mobile devices have, in turn, resulted in the increase of voice search. With 60% of mobile searchers using voice at least ‘some of the time’ (Stone Temple).

 

The features of voice search

Searching with your voice is very different from searching through typing, so naturally, its characteristics and features are going to differ from traditional search. This is something SEO’s will have to bear in mind and consider if they are to cater for this new, emerging search market and take advantage of the changing online landscape. Again, there are a number of driving forces behind voice search; how people search, when people search and what people search for.

 

How people search

The emergence of voice search has changed the way in which people search for information in 2 ways. Firstly, searches are now longer and secondly, searches are more conversational.

Traditionally, when we use a keyboard to search for information, we tend to use short phrases to find what we need because it saves physical effort. Using voice search on mobile phones and voice assistants such as the Google Home or Amazon Echo, allows searches to become more conversational, however, as these devices are powered by artificial intelligence, making them smarter the more we use and interact with them. Therefore, there is less need to use shorter, ‘computer language’ searches with a now greater emphasis on natural, human-like dialogue.

When searching for the best way to clean a composite deck on your computer or phone, you may type ‘composite decking cleaning’ into the search bar. This is what we would consider, ‘short, computer language.’ When using voice search, however, you’re more likely to say ‘how do I clean composite decking?’ The first search is shorter, only containing 3 words, whereas the second is longer with 6 words. Purna Virji of Moz found that speech searches tend to be longer through the tail.

It’s important to remember to not make the mistake of likening voice search optimisation to using long-tail keywords within your content. Voice search is much more likely to contain question phrases, which has a big impact on how we conduct keyword research and on-page SEO.

Content needs to give users direct answers to the questions they’re asking, otherwise, it’s going to be very difficult to get your content to the people who need it. A great way to find commonly asked queries around a particular subject is to use a tool called Answer the Public. Simply enter a keyword to receive a bunch of related questions around that keyword. Here’s what we get when we search for ‘composite decking’.

 

Each one of these natural language phrases is an insight into the mindset of your target audience that allows you to tailor your content to match their queries.

 

When people search

As a result of voice search being much more convenient, people are using it in more places and on a more regular basis than ever before. According to Google, ‘near me now’ searches have increased by 150% over the last two years, with these searches happening in places that you may not expect.

A survey conducted by Stone Temple found that users were significantly more likely to use voice search in public places last year in comparison to the previous year. Places such as gyms, cinemas and even public toilets! Proving that searchers have a lot more local intent when they’re searching on their mobile phones.

As a result of this, SEO’s can gain increased traffic by carefully incorporating a number of distinct keywords into their content. Such as

  • Landmarks around businesses
  • Including ‘near me’ in title tags, meta descriptions, anchor texts and internal links
  • Including phrases that people use to describe the area around your locations
  • The titles of local organisations that are relevant to your business

This is further emphasised by the fact that in 2016, 22% of people used voice search to find local information (Internet Trends Report) and that 50% of local mobile searches by a consumer lead to a store visit in a day. There’s no greater incentive to optimise for voice.

 

 

What people search for

Voice changes how users get their search results. Slowly but surely, Google is moving away from a search engine where people go to gain masses of information, to a place where people go to gain instant answers. This trend is emphasised by the introduction of SERP features such as Knowledge Panels and Featured Snippets, which has resulted in the number of organic clicks dropping as the information and answers that users are searching for are appearing right there in the results.

Google is implementing the same answer-focused algorithms to provide voice searchers with results as the intent of their searches change. So, enabling your content to answer the common questions that searchers are asking by targeting SERP features such as Featured Snippets is the best way to be shown for voice searches.

 

Optimising for Voice Search

Now that we’ve looked at the main characteristics that voice search has changed about traditional search and briefly on how you can manipulate your content to satisfy these changes, we can now delve a little deeper into the technical aspects of how to optimise your website and business for the best voice search results.

 

Utilise structured data

Schema markup, also known as structured data, is a great way to optimise the content on your website for search engines to pull it and offer it to voice searches.

If you do not know what schema markup is, visit our previously written blog here to learn more. Essentially, schema markup is metadata. Data about the information on your website, which is found within your site’s source code. Searchers cannot see this data, but it helps search engines to organise and classify your content such as opening hours, contact information and address.

As previously stated, voice searchers usually want instant answers. By enabling search engines to classify essential business information as such will give you a greater chance of being ranked over competitors. Google has recently announced support for new FAQ structured data. Making it easier for your answers to commonly asked questions to be classified by Google and presented to users in both normal and voice search.

Submitting a detailed sitemap to Google and ensuring your structured data pages aren’t blocked by robots.txt and other control methods are greats ways of getting your content classified also.

 

Claiming your Google My Business listing

As we touched on above, voice search experiences a high number of local queries by searchers. Therefore, it is essential to claim your Google My Business listing, where you can input your business’ name, address, contact number and description.

Another important feature is choosing relevant categories that your business falls under. Selecting the correct category can be the difference between your business appearing at the top of voice search results or not.

 

Become mobile-friendly

As mobile phones are one of the main devices in which voice searches are performed, you need to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Google recommends a responsive website that loads fast, which again you can learn more about in our blog here. With voice searchers wanting instant answers to their questions, your website will need to load information as quickly as possible.

Once your website design and speed are up to scratch, you can now focus on your content. In order to rank for voice searches, ensure your content is optimised for it to be scanned quickly. Leave a lot of white spaces, use short sentences, small paragraphs with simple words and engaging sub-headings.

 

Answer customer questions in blog posts

We identified above that voice search has changed how people search. With robotic keywords being replaced with longer, more conversational keywords as users look to receive direct answers for commonly asked questions around a particular topic and even provided a tool to help understand the common queries around a particular search term. This is a great starting point to understand what information searchers in your industry are looking for.

Once you understand the questions commonly asked by searchers, you are then able to create content to cater to them. One way to do this is to create a FAQ page which provides short and concise answers to all of the frequently asked questions from your customers. Another is to create dedicated blog posts that focus on single questions. Here you have more freedom to answer a question in more detail, giving search engines more content to choose from and give back to voice searches.

Creating content around your customer’s common queries dramatically increases your chances of appearing higher in voice search results.

Voice search and its impact on users and businesses over the last decade has changed dramatically. Its future is unpredictable, but recent years have shown us that it is not slowing down anytime soon. Therefore, it is important that marketers and business owners do not ignore this trend and instead understand how to best optimise their website and content for voice. It is not easy, but by optimising for voice search your content will become more ‘human’ and will accommodate will ever-changing dynamic of online search.

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

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

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

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

Determine the Purpose of Each Blog

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

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

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

Select and Use Appropriate Keywords

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

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

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

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

Writing your Blog Posts 

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

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

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

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

Write Frequently to Maintain Engagement

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

Posting Every Day: 

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

Posting Once, Twice, or Three Times a Week:

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

Promotion via Social Media

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

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram 
  • LinkedIn

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

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

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

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

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Published - 26th February 2018 / Updated - 12th March 2019

New Google Search Console

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

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

How do I view the new Search Console?

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

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

  2. Sign into your Google account to continue.

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

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

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

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

I'm in! So what's new?

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

As we've already mentioned, the new Search Console doesn't yet offer as many different reports as its predecessor, many reports are still to be migrated over in the coming weeks but a number have been included in the new design. The main features of the current version are as follows:

  • Performance
  • URL inspection
  • Index coverage
  • Sitemaps
  • Mobile Usability 
  • AMP
  • Products
  • Manual Actions 
  • Security Issues
  • Links

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

Search Console Performance Report

Performance

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

 

URL Inspection

The 'URL Inspection' tool offers website owners detailed crawl, index and serving information about web pages, directly from the Google index. Here you can view the last crawl date, the status of the last crawl, any indexing or crawling errors and the canonical URL for a page. It will provide information on successfully indexed pages, any AMP and structured data errors as well as any indexing issues. The URL Inspection tool also allows users to run live tests against a live URL. Details are not provided on the last time Google indexed that URL but on what Google sees on that URL in real time.

 

Search Console Index Coverage Report

Index coverage

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

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

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

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

  • Valid - Pages that HAVE been indexed successfully.

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

This report makes it easier than ever before to see which of your pages aren't getting indexed, and to establish what you need to do about it. This report now uses mobile-first indexing data when available, instead of using desktop indexing data for sites that have already switched to mobile-first. This only impacts the data related to the 'error counts' and 'new issues' in the report.

 

Search Console Sitemaps Report

Sitemaps

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

 

Mobile Usability 

The Mobile Usability report is an important tool for all site owners as it provides critical information to help fix mobile usability issues. With Google using mobile usability as a factor in their ranking algorithms, it is important for site owners to keep a close eye on this report to ensure that issues are fixed when they appear. Issue names are the same as in the old report, but users are now able to submit a validation and reindexing request when an issue is fixed.

 

Search Console AMP Report

AMP

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

 

Products 

The Products section of the new Google Search Console helps users to see how well their product markup is performing in Google's search results. This is an important feature, especially for e-commerce sites in managing their product markup. This report allows e-commerce site owners to quickly see what issues they have with markup and fix them. In order to be able to see this report, site owners will need to add product markup to their products to show up in GSC. This can be used on a product page to describe a single product or on a shopping aggregator page that displays a single product.

 

Manual Actions

The Manual Actions section of the new Search Console is the same reporting tool that you've been using in the old console with a fresh, new look. Manual actions are issued by Google against a site when a reviewer from Google has determined that pages on the site are not compliant with Google's webmaster quality guidelines. Therefore, it is an important section that needs to be regularly checked. 

 

Security Issues

The Security Issues section of GSC will let site owners know if Google finds any security issues with the site, pretty self-explanatory. The types of issues can include hacked URL's, deceptive pages, malware, harmful downloads and more. This feature was available in the old the Search Console so users should be familiar with it and the information provided. For a full breakdown on the details on the security issues monitored, click here

 

Links 

The Links section of the new Search Console consolidates the functionality of the 'Links to your site' and 'Internal Links' reports found in the old Search Console. This updated link report, according to Google, is "more accurate" than the old Links to your site report. For a more detailed analysis of the data, you can get in the links report, click here.

And that's just about it - for now, anyway. Google is still building the new Search Console, so keep your eyes peeled for additional reports as 2019 progresses.

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

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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.

In this modern day and age, we are all very much accustomed to using apps on a daily basis.

We use native apps on our phones for waking us up, planning appointments, tracking our fitness, speaking with our friends, checking public transport times, the weather, the news… the list is endless! It is for this reason that companies are often drawn to developing Apps for their customers, because it allows for better interaction with those customers, or at least that is the theory.

One of the problems with Apps is that they are very expensive to develop and maintain, especially as they have to be developed for multiple platforms i.e. Android and iOS. Another significant drawback is that it is often impossible to gauge how useful the intended audience will find the App, or whether it will be used at all. On top of this they are not indexed in the major search engines, so you have to do some level of marketing to create awareness of the App, which again is another cost.

Progressive Web Apps are significantly cheaper to develop, are very easy and cost-effective to scale, are directly integrated by default with your website, and can be indexed by the likes of Google. This makes having an App considerably more cost effective for your business.

If you’re up to date with the latest development technologies then you may have heard about Progressive Web Apps before now, but if not, and you are considering having an App developed for your business then read on.

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps are fundamentally web pages that can look and feel like a native app on your phone. They combine the best functions of mobile apps (offline functionality, background updating, push notifications, shortcut icon) with the accessibility and shareable nature of web pages.

Not only is a Progressive Web App highly functional, it is also at the forefront of modern web page design, utilising the very latest technologies and coding practises. Another significant benefit is that through the use of something called ‘Service Workers’ these Apps can be used both offline and online, making them incredibly accessible. In fact, Google themselves vouch for Progressive Web Apps, stating that they are reliable, fast and engaging!

By combining the best parts of the web and mobile apps, Progressive Web Apps provide a seamless and immersive experience for the user.

What Are the Benefits of Progressive Web Apps?

Now you know what a Progressive Web App is, you may be wondering how it could benefit you. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using a Progressive Web App for your business.

  • Progressive

They are named Progressive Web Apps because they are built with progressive enhancement as their main goal. By nature, they must work on all devices and take advantage of the user’s device and browser which is what makes them progressive.

  • Offline Functionality

As mentioned above, the addition of a Service Worker means that Progressive Web Apps will work on low-quality networks and even offline. The Service Worker essentially allows your device to cache pages and functionality, meaning that they can work without an internet connection, as long as they have been visited/loaded at least once with a connection. The Service Worker also allows the App to take advantage of native device functions, send push notifications and allow background synchronising. These features help to keep your customers engaged.

  • Responsive

Progressive Web Apps are built to fit on all devices, meaning they are completely responsive from the very beginning. This extends the reach of your Progressive Web App and will provide a great user experience wherever a customer accesses it.

  • App-like Feel

Through the use of an Application Shell, Progressive Web Apps can feel very much like using a native app. An App Shell separates the functionality and the content, meaning the ‘shell’ of the Progressive Web App loads before the content. This is then cached, so it instantly loads on repeat visits. This ensures a great performance for the user each time.

To add to the app-like feel, a shortcut to the Progressive Web App can be added onto any device. This provides easy access and background caching, just like a native app. 

  • Easy to share/discover

The main benefit of being a web page that looks like an app is that it can be easily shared and discovered. Progressive Web Apps can be shared through its URL, extending its reach significantly. These Apps can also be indexed by the likes of Google, meaning that you can simply optimise them for additional traffic.

  • No Installation

Users also do not need to download Progressive Web Apps in the app store. This is a considerable benefit, because it has been found that on average an app loses 20% of its users for every step between the first contact and beginning to use the app. Progressive Web Apps limit the number of obstacles between your business and the consumer.

Case Studies

Alongside the many impressive benefits, case studies have also proven that Progressive Web Apps are delivering on their promise. Many popular brands have noted the benefits of Progressive Web Apps and have decided to make the change. It has been found that Progressive Web Apps provide higher user engagement, increased time on page and increased conversions.

For example, India’s biggest e-commerce website watched their conversions increase by 70% when they made the change to a Progressive Web App. User time spent on-site also tripled, and their re-engagement rate increased by 40%.

With stats like that, it’s hard to not be convinced by the allure of Progressive Web Apps.

A few more familiar faces such as Whatsapp, Airbnb and Trivago have also developed Progressive Web Apps for their businesses. Just head to any of these websites to get a feel for how seamless and immersive Progressive Web Apps can be for the user.

Airbnb Progressive Web App

We have recently delivered a Progressive Web App to a Property Maintenance company, who use complex site audit forms to provide engineer assessments. Their engineers visit sites all over the country and often end up in basements, or in areas with little or no signal, so this App allows them to complete the complex forms on their device and submit them quickly and easily on site.

If the engineer has no signal at the time of submission, the App will save the data and submit it once they do have a signal. This Progressive Web App is a massive time-saving tool, which also saves considerably on printing and hand-completing forms. It is one example of how a Progressive Web App can deliver superb functionality in a very practical solution.

To see more case studies of Progressive Web Apps which have provided great benefits for the businesses, you can just head to Google’s case studies section.

So, are Progressive Web Apps for you?

Progressive Web Apps are redefining the way we look at native apps, and even websites. Since 2015 when the term ‘Progressive Web Apps’ was coined by designer Frances Berriman and Google Chrome Engineer Alex Russell, this new web technology has been on the rise. We think the technology is fantastic for businesses that want to take advantage of an App, whilst keeping costs down, and maintaining use of the very latest in scalable technology.

So, if your business is looking to develop time-saving functionality, or a highly interactive customer App, or even a series of forms that can be submitted offline, then we recommend that you take a close look at Progressive Web Apps, as they bring undisputable benefits to many business processes and client interactions.

If you would like to talk to one of our expert developers about a Progressive Web App project then please give us a call anytime, or drop us an email with your project brief and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.

Long Tail Keywords 

Trying to rank on search engines, like Google, is becoming more and more difficult, especially with the ever-changing face of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and the growing competition online. Finding ways to capture traffic to your website is absolutely crucial to online success, and often this means attempting to get your website in a top position on the front page of Google, the holy grail of search engine traffic – but how can you achieve this?

We all want our websites to be found on page 1 for broad search terms that represent our business, but this can be extremely hard if your business faces significant competition online, especially where the competition is very large brands with deep pockets for marketing. However, all is not lost, in fact, this often means that you just have to work a little harder at long tail keywords, which more often than not can drive the most valuable traffic to your website.

In this article, we will be explaining what long tail key words are, and how targeting them can help to drive valuable traffic to your website.

What are long tail keywords?

A long tail keyword is a search term that is typically around 2-4 words long, albeit they can be longer. A long tail key word is mostly defined by how specific it is rather than its length.

Example broad search term: Exercise Class

Example Long-tail keyword: Boxercise Classes in Cardiff

So, unlike broad search terms, long-tailed keywords are far more specific, and therefore usually have substantially lower search traffic volumes. So why use them? We want MORE traffic not less, so why target phrases with substantially fewer searches?

Well, in the example above, the chances are that your business offers more than just Boxercise classes. So now the next step is to consider a page targeting each keyword term e.g. Spin Classes in Cardiff, Zumba Fitness Training, Hardcore Fitness Class, etc. Through this, you can start to build the volume of traffic up, and all you’ve done is negate the types of broad searches that may not have resulted in a buyer anyway.

Over the last decade, consumer searching habits have become more defined as users have become savvier with search engine result. This means that people tend to understand that a broad search for anything will not necessarily deliver what they are looking for, so they now naturally provide more specific search terms.

You can take advantage of this new method of search with long tail keywords. A lot of big companies rely heavily on the broad terms as they believe this provides them with a stronger position, but invariably it actually doesn’t. This is why long tail keywords will work in your favour as there is less competition from the larger companies. 

Why should we use long tail keywords?

The most important thing on your website is your call to action. So in this case, you want someone to sign-up for a class, right? Therefore, what you need is traffic that results in conversions, not just random visitors which makes long-tailed keywords very useful. Imagine you're a gym based in Cardiff and ask yourself this: will it be easier to convert someone who searched “Exercise Class” or “Boxercise Class in Cardiff”?

Long-tailed keywords are now natural searches for result-savvy consumers, but for the not so savvy searchers, they tend to come a little later. For example, a user might start by searching for “exercise class” and then realise that it’s not really what they were looking for, or the gyms advertised were national and not local, so they decide to search for “exercise classes in Cardiff”.  They then find gyms but not necessarily the classes they want, so next, they search for something even more specific, like “Zumba classes in Cardiff”, and finally they receive the results they were looking for. Either way, we all usually end up searching for what we want via long tail keywords when we are serious about buying or booking.

With that being said, in some cases, it may well be necessary to target obvious ‘broad’ search terms for your business. However, it is highly likely you will be faced with a high-budget battle against your competition. In this case, we recommend working on your long tail keyword opportunities first and then focusing on the broad terms for your business.

Long tail keywords also apply to PPC advertising

If you run pay per click (PPC) advertising for your website, then it would benefit your business to consider the same strategy. For example, setup your campaigns to focus on the long tail keywords first, and then work backwards to include some of the broader search terms for your industry in tightly budgeted campaigns. This usually results in much better conversions on the long tail keywords, and a mopping effect on the broad terms, which tend to be more expensive.

Long-tail keyword focus will reduce your bounce rate

The bounce rate on your web pages essentially tells you how many people search for a term, or hit a link to your website, and only read one page before leaving. High bounce rates are generally-speaking very bad because it likely means someone who found your website left before navigating around - although, of course, there are instances where this is acceptable behaviour.

A typical example of a searcher who bounces is where a consumer has searched for, say “exercise class”, and they hit a page showing a gym not local to them, or doesn’t have the specific class they are looking for, and so they leave within seconds. This will happen a lot if you focus heavily on broad search terms.

If your website focusses heavily on long tail keywords instead, then you will attract searchers who are looking more specifically for that product or service and are therefore less likely to bounce, and more likely to buy.

How to choose the right long tail keywords?

Do your research

You need to spend time doing valuable keyword research. You may assume that your customers think about your brand, products or services in the same way that you do, but that doesn't mean they will search for you in the same way. Although you may be an expert in your industry, it is still vital to research what is actually generating search traffic to figure out what keywords you should target.

Tools such as Google's Keyword Planner allow you to see statistics concerning search volume and estimated bid costs for different keywords. This provides you with an opportunity to weigh up your options and make a logical keyword plan.  There are other keyword research tools out there, but these are beyond the scope of this article.

Identify niches

As discussed, long tail keywords allow you to better target consumers who are more focused in terms of what they are looking for. This often occurs once the person has done their product/service research and have a better idea of what they are looking for, and will naturally narrow their search term.

So, we talked about exercise class types and using the niche terms for these, but colours are often a good niche in certain markets too. For example, someone who may be interested in buying decking may have looked through various websites and information. Following this research, that customer has learned more about the product that best suits their requirements. Through this product research, the customer has arrived at the conclusion that they would like “grey composite decking”, which is now the term they search for, therefore targeting this niche term and bringing you closer to capturing a sale.    

Your keyword research should include as many niche terms as you can think of, as these often produce highly valuable search terms.

Keep it balanced

As discussed earlier, a wise place to start is to focus on the long-tail keywords first, and then later consider the broader terms, which should result in a balanced strategy.

Remember to focus on a small set of keywords per page, and do not contaminate other pages with the same keywords (read more about why you should avoid this here). Good luck! 

For expert advice on this subject, or any other online marketing subject, our team of friendly SEO Experts would be more than happy to assist, so if you need help please get in touch with us!

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.

5 reasons to give your website an update (even if it's only a couple of years old!)

New Website Design

How old is your business's current website? One year old? Two? Three? Older?

You may feel like your website is as good as brand new, but things move quickly in the world of web design, and it's a good idea to rethink your site every couple of years. Why, you ask? Well, for a start, it's important to keep your website in line with all the latest guidelines and best practices from the likes of Google, but you also need to ensure that it's frequently reviewed from a usability perspective as well as from a performance perspective.

Over the past 12 months, there have been a huge number of changes to the way in which Google, Bing, and other search engines source and deliver their results. Additionally, voice and mobile usage are changing the way we browse and interact with the Internet in general - search engines have adapted accordingly, but has your own website kept up with new behaviours and technologies?

Today we'd like to highlight five relatively recent changes that, even if your site already has a modern look and a smooth UI, may convince you that it's time to think about a new website design...or at least a bit of an update!

1. HTTP to HTTPS

Back in August 2014, Google made the following announcement on their Official Webmaster Central Blog:

"Over the past few months we've been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal."

Since then, Google have been giving HTTPS websites increasingly preferential treatment in their SERPs; in other words, your website will have a better chance of ranking highly on Google if you switch from HTTP to HTTPS.

Last July - approximately 2 years on from the original Google announcement - Moz.com published some numbers illustrating just how much Google now preferred secure HTTPS websites. They found that, prior to August 2014, only 7% of first-page results used the HTTPS protocol, whereas in June 2016, over 32% of first-page results were HTTPS-secured.

Google want to keep their users as secure as possible online, and over time, there'll be less and less room for non-secure (HTTP) pages within the top results. Switching to HTTPS will safeguard and future-proof your site's ability to rank, and it will give your users a little extra peace of mind too.

Further reading: Why Convert Your Website to HTTPS?

2. Mobile-Friendliness

Did you know that the majority of Internet usage now takes place on a mobile device? If your website was designed for desktop users and can scarcely be used on a small screen, you could well be missing out on a lot of business (since mobile users will likely abandon your site in favour of a mobile-friendly competitor).

Mobile's share of the market will only continue to increase as desktop computers become less commonplace and handheld devices insinuate themselves still further into everyday life. Furthermore, Google started prioritising mobile-friendly websites in its results last year, so you risk losing organic traffic as well as revenue if you do not have a responsive design that provides a mobile-friendly experience.

We recommend using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to assess the mobile-friendliness of your website, then switching to a responsive website design if you score poorly.

Further reading: What is a Responsive Website?

3. Structured Data

A good web developer will use schema tags on your website to help the likes of Google understand the contents of each page. There are loads and loads of different schema tags, but here are some of the most commonly-used:

  • The Product tag is used to identify a product or service.
  • The Review tag is used to identify a review or rating.
  • A tag such as startDate or DateTime may indicate when an event is scheduled to begin.

Using schema tags (also called 'structured data') enables Google to embellish your search results with additional pieces of information known as rich snippets. Rich snippets look like this:

Review snippet

In this example, Google is able to display a rating and a price for the product in question thanks to the website's use of structured data.

Or like this:

Events snippet

Here, schema tags allow Google to display a list of events (complete with dates and venues).

Rich snippets increase the visibility and usefulness of your website's Google results, and there's a chance that Google may one day give websites that use structured data a small ranking boost. If your site doesn't already use schema tags, you should strongly consider adding them in as part of your next redesign/update.

See also: Google's Data Highlighter Tool

4. Featured Snippets

Whereas rich snippets are dependent on your website's code, featured snippets (also known as rich answers) are dependent on your website's content. Here's what a featured snippet looks like:

Featured snippet - What is a web sling?

A featured snippet may also include bullet points, a table, or - as shown below - a numbered list.

Numbered list snippet - How to remove your oven door handle

If you phrase your Google search in the form of a question (e.g. 'where was lord of the rings filmed' or 'how do antibiotics work'), the top result will very often be a featured snippet. This applies to voice search as well as to traditional text searches - for instance, a Google Home device will usually respond to a question by simply reading out the featured snippet for that keyword phrase.

Google is showing featured snippets for more and more searches as time goes by (we've even started seeing them for non-question queries like 'safety goggles'), and if Google starts displaying your competitor's content in a big box at the top of the SERP, there's a very good chance that your organic traffic will plummet as a result.

For this reason, it may be worth rewriting some of the copy on your site with question-type keywords in mind so as to snag as many of those 'featured answer' spots as possible.

Further reading: How to Gain Featured Snippets

5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are Google's solution to the increasingly prevalent expectation that online content should load instantaneously - especially on mobile devices. Website owners can now create 'accelerated' versions of their pages specifically for mobile users, and this is definitely something to bear in mind if you're determined to deliver an outstanding mobile browsing experience.

An accelerated mobile page is essentially a stripped-down version of a normal web page that is specifically designed to load very quickly. AMP pages were originally available only to well-known publications like the Telegraph and the Independent, but the technology is now open to all, which means that you can create lean, fast-loading versions of your key pages in order to please mobile users and (potentially) rank more highly in Google's mobile results.

Using AMP on your wensite will significantly improve the speed with which your website is delivered to users. It may also give you an advantage on the Google AdWords platform to boot.

Does your website need an update or a redesign? Request a FREE quote from the Designer Websites team!

Reduce High Bounce Rates

If you've ever logged into Google Analytics and seen a mountainous spike in your site traffic, you'll know how good it feels to get a nice influx of new users. Whether it's because a carefully-planned marketing campaign is paying off or because someone unexpectedly linked to your blog on r/TodayILearned, a healthy increase in sessions never fails to get those endorphins rushing.

But as pleased as you may be with that big traffic boost, it won't actually benefit your business much unless those visitors are sticking around long enough to make a purchase (or fill out a contact form, order a free sample, join your mailing list...you get the idea). All the web traffic in the world won't affect your company's bottom line if every user leaves your site within seconds of arriving.

If your website gets plenty of traffic but shows a very high bounce rate, be sure to keep reading - we've got some very straightforward tips that will help you to convert more of your visitors into customers. But first, let's just make sure we all understand one key piece of terminology...

What does 'bounce rate' mean?

Your website's bounce rate tells you how many people visit the site and then leave without any further interaction - in other words, how many people 'bounce off' after hitting your site. It is expressed as a percentage of the website's total traffic.

For example, if your website received 1,000 visits in November 2016 and Google Analytics is showing a bounce rate of 60% for that month, it basically means that 600 of your 1,000 visitors didn't get any further than the page they landed on to begin with.

Google Analytics shows a bounce rate for each individual page of a website as well as for the website as a whole. You'll usually want every landing page's bounce rate to be as close to 0% as possible, since a high bounce rate tends to indicate that users aren't getting what they want from your content. That being said, a bounce isn't always bad - for example, the following positive outcomes would still count as bounces:
  • A user arrives on your homepage, then calls you on the phone without navigating to any other pages.

  • A user arrives on a blog post, reads it from start to finish, then leaves your website to share the post on Twitter.

  • A user arrives on your 'Contact Us' page, makes a note of your email address, then closes the tab and sends you an email using their own email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook).

  • A user arrives on a product page, makes a note of the price, then visits your bricks-and-mortar shop to purchase the item in person rather than ordering it online.
By and large, though, a high bounce rate is bad news for your business and a clear sign that you need to make some improvements to your website.

What improvements, you ask?

1. Focus on making a good first impression

It may be that people are leaving your website quickly because they're put off by the very first thing they see. Prominently displaying any of the following things on your homepage (or another key landing page) will almost certainly drive up your bounce rate:
  • Intrusive ads/popups (or 'interstitials', as Google calls them) that appear as soon as the page has loaded and get in the way of your actual content

  • Large swathes of text that the user will have to comb through in order to find the information they need

  • Dull and/or poor-quality images that fail to engage the user and risk making your brand look outdated, unprofessional, or unwelcoming

  • Potentially offensive, disturbing or triggering material that may shock, disgust or distress some people (it doesn't have to be a graphic depiction of violence or nudity - for instance, arachnophobes may click away immediately if you have a photo of a spider on your homepage)
Examine your landing pages carefully, or ask someone else to look at them with fresh eyes (they may notice issues that you've missed due to over-familiarity). Think about the first thing each site user sees: are you doing anything to irritate them, upset them, intimidate them, confuse them, or otherwise put them off?

2. Make it snappy!

While we're on the subject of first impressions, we really should mention site speed. Every day, countless website sessions are curtailed prematurely because the page simply didn't load quickly enough - you've probably given up on a fair few sites yourself after watching that loading icon spin for a little too long.

As a UX-conscious website owner, it is absolutely imperative that you minimise your site's loading times. Use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool to test your key landing pages, then follow the tool's recommendations as best you can (you may need to ask your web developer to make some changes for you).

3. Don't make promises your content can't keep

If your organic search traffic is showing an especially high bounce rate, it may be that Google or Bing is showing searchers a snippet that isn't particularly representative of your actual website. For example, imagine typing 'pizza near me' into Google and seeing this result:


'Great,' you think, 'just what I'm looking for.' But then you click onto Super Pizza's website and you quickly realise that it's not a pizzeria at all - it's a trendy digital marketing agency with a quirky name. Disappointed, you click your browser's 'back' button and return to the search results page to try a different website.

This is quite an outlandish example (though not necessarily that outlandish), but it illustrates the way in which misleading search results can lead to high bounce rates. Look at the words being used to advertise your website in the SERPs: does that little snippet of text promise something you're not delivering? Are you purporting to sell a product or provide a service that you no longer offer? Are you failing to clarify that you only serve customers in a specific part of the country? Are you roping people in with claims of low prices, then showing them a page full of products that are actually fairly expensive?

If so, you need to make a change. Ensure that each page's title tag and meta description give a fair, accurate, and up-to-date representation of what the user will find if they click through. And, if it's not already too late, you obviously ought to give your company a name that actually reflects the business you're in instead of trying to think of something...ugh...'random'.

N.B. If your bouncy traffic is coming from a source other than a search engine (e.g. social media posts, directory listings, banner ads on another website), this rule still applies. You should always do your best to ensure that people are getting exactly what they expect when they click a link to your site.

4. Keep your keywords on target

This one is a little trickier, because it's not always clear what people are Googling immediately before they land on your website. However, if you are getting a lot of high-bounce traffic from an organic search engine like Google or Bing, it may well be because your site is showing up for the wrong keywords.

Here's an example. Let's say you own a company that sells swimming pools and installs them in people's back gardens. Your website gets a lot of traffic, but the vast majority of visitors bounce because they were looking for a public swimming pool that they could visit with the family.

Now, you may well be able to fix this problem by doing as we recommended in point #3 and rewriting your title/description tags to more clearly indicate the exact nature of your business. But your site shouldn't be showing up for searches like 'swimming pools in nottingham' at all, and if it is, you may need to pick some different keywords and adjust your site copy accordingly. In this example, you ought to be targeting keywords that are specifically related to buying swimming pools, or to the swimming pool installation service that you provide.

And your keyword focus should be reflected in the copy you write - for example, this might be a sensible statement to include on your pool website's homepage:

Here at Petunia Pools, we sell a wide variety of home swimming pools to suit every budget. Furthermore, our pool installers have been in the business for thirty years, so they can be relied upon to get the job done quickly and professionally.

Whereas the following excerpt might well mislead the search engine bots and cause them to send the wrong sort of traffic to your website:

Looking for a swimming pool in Nottingham? We are Petunia Pools, the local business of choice for swimming pools in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area. Get in touch today and get ready to go for a swim!

Recent developments in semantic search technology mean that Google et al are now far more adroit when it comes to recognising the meaning of a piece of writing in the same way a human would. However, that technology effectively relies on word association, so make sure you're sending out the right signals and using the right words in your website copy (e.g. 'buy', 'installation', 'home' instead of 'swim', 'Nottingham', 'local').

5. Don't forget the mobile mob

More and more people these days are yanking themselves away from their desktop computers and browsing the web on their smartphones instead. Log into your Google Analytics reports, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview, and take a look at what percentage of your site traffic currently comes from mobile devices. Given recent trends, we're guessing it'll be quite a high number; in fact, some of our clients are now getting around 80% of their traffic from smartphones.

With so much online interaction now taking place on a pocket-sized screen, your website's high bounce rate could well be a result of your failure to provide a good user experience on mobile devices. If that's the case...well, unfortunately, this one isn't such an easy fix. You ideally need a responsive website that functions equally smoothly across all devices - this should ensure that, no matter how big or small their screen is, each visitor finds it easy to navigate and interact with your site. Remember, the desktop PC is no longer the default platform for Internet use, and if you're serious about user satisfaction, you'll want to treat your mobile and tablet users just as well as you treat the people using a traditional mouse-and-keyboard setup.

If you need a new website design that will engage users and minimise bounces, Designer Websites can help. Get a quote for your project today.
301 Redirects

If you want to manage your website effectively and provide a smooth, hassle-free experience for both users and search engines, the 301 redirect is one of the most important items in your toolkit.

A 301 redirect is a piece of code used to indicate that the requested piece of content has permanently moved to a different location. You should use a 301 if one of your old URLs is no longer in use, as this will automatically redirect the user (or search engine bot) to the new version of that page.

Example of a 301 redirect

Let's say you're the owner of www.my-bikes.coman ecommerce website that sells bicycles. You have a page dedicated to folding bicycles located at the following URL:

http://www.my-bikes.com/folding

Lots of people link to this page, but for whatever reason, you've decided to change its URL to something slightly different:

http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes

Once you've changed the page's URL, anyone who tries to visit the old web address (http://www.my-bikes.com/folding) will see a 404 error message, because that page technically no longer exists.

However, you can use a 301 redirect to ensure that anyone who visits http://www.my-bikes.com/folding is automatically sent to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes instead. Here's how that works:
  • A user attempts to visit http://www.my-bikes.com/folding (perhaps they clicked an old link, or maybe they had it bookmarked)

  • Your 301 redirect tells their web browser to go to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes instead of the defunct URL that was initially requested

  • The user is taken straight to http://www.my-bikes.com/folding-bikes and, with any luck, they buy a new bike from you!
This is the correct way to handle a page that has permanently moved from one URL to another, so be sure to use a 301 redirect every time you change a page's URL. You should also use a 301 redirect if you're deleting a page and you think its URL should take visitors another to relevant page instead of an error notification.

Why use a 301 redirect?

301 redirects are handy for a number of different reasons:
  • Smoother user experience. If a page no longer exists but lots of users are still trying to access it, it's a good idea to redirect the old URL to a new, still-active page. Otherwise, all of those visitors will run into 404 errors - not particularly conducive to a satisfying user experience!

  • Prevents broken links. When you delete a page from your website, any links to that page will cease to work. Anyone who clicks those links will be greeted with a 404 error message...unless you use a 301 redirect to point the old links at a new page.

  • SEO juice isn't lost. When somebody links to your website, it's kind of like a vote of confidence; they're saying, 'yes, this is a good site that is worth visiting'. Those 'votes' can have a big impact on your Google rankings, especially if the linking website has a good reputation, because a link passes some of their authority on to you. However, if that high-authority website is linking to a URL that no longer exists, you won't feel the full benefit of the link unless you redirect the old URL to an active URL, thus passing the other site's authority (or 'juice') to a different part of your website.

  • Helps search engines to index your website properly. 301 redirects make it crystal-clear to Google and other search engines which of your URLs you want indexed and which are no longer in use. Also, if you change the URL of a page that already ranks highly in the SERPs, you should put a 301 redirect on the old URL so that you don't have to wait for your site to be re-crawled (failing to put in a 301 redirect will mean that anyone who clicks on your high-ranking page in the search results will be shown an error message, at least until your website is crawled again).

How to Add a 301 Redirect

The method for implementing a 301 redirect varies depending on a number of different factors. In some cases, it's possible to do it yourself, but it's generally a good idea to speak to your web developer or hosting company and ask them to put in any necessary redirect(s) for you.

If you need help managing your website and ensuring that it's fully optimised for user satisfaction and search engine success, get in touch with Designer Websites today.
Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly know as Google Webmaster Tools) is an indispensable tool for site owners who wish to maximise their organic Google traffic. Search Console effectively allows you to view your site through the eyes of the search engine, so you can see which pages Google has indexed, which pages it thinks could be improved, and which potentially problematic errors it has spotted.

There are roughly two dozen different sections within Search Console, some of which deal with fairly complex stuff. For this reason, Search Console can be a little overwhelming when you see it for the first time, particularly if you don't know what phrases like 'structured data' and 'robots.txt' mean.

It's a good idea to learn about each section and check them all on a regular basis. However, if you're just starting out with Search Console and you only want to see the most important pieces of information for now, here are 5 key areas that you should be keeping a close eye on - we recommend checking each of these at least once a week to ensure that your website remains in tip-top condition.
Messages

1. Messages

If you only ever look at one part of your Search Console account, make sure it's the Messages window. If anything serious happens in any of the other sections - for example, if there's a sudden influx of crawl errors, or if Google's crawlers are unable to access your site - you'll get a message to notify you about the problem, and this is where you'll find it.

HTML Improvements

2. HTML Improvements

This part of the Console is all about your website's title tags and meta descriptions. Google will put a note in this section if it spots any of the following issues on your site:
  • A page's title tag is too long or too short.
  • A page's meta description is too long or too short.
  • A page doesn't have a title tag.
  • Multiple pages have the same title tag and/or meta description (duplication).
  • A page has a title tag that Google considers 'non-informative'.
  • Google finds some content on your site that it cannot index.
It's a good idea to stay on top of these issues and fix them as soon as they arise (this is usually a question of simply rewriting the title tag or meta description in question). Good-quality title tags and meta descriptions will benefit you in two ways: firstly, they will encourage people to click on your site when it appears in Google's search results, and secondly, they will help Google itself to identify which term(s) it should list your site for.

Mobile Usability

3. Mobile Usability

More and more people are using mobile devices to browse the Internet these days, so it's important to make sure that your site is providing a good experience for mobile and tablet users as well as for PC owners. In the Mobile Usability section of your Search Console, Google will flag up any issues that might affect your site's performance on smaller screens (if you have a responsive website design, this section should be clear at all times).

Index Status

4. Index Status

How many of your website's pages does Google actually have indexed? To discover the answer to this question, simply head to the Index Status section of your Search Console. You'll be presented with a number (e.g. Total indexed: 100), along with a line graph showing how your site's index status has fluctuated over the past 12 months.

Index Status Graph

If this graph shows a sharp drop, you may need to do some further investigation to find out why. If you've recently removed a lot of pages from your site, then the drop may not be a problem - it could simply mean that Google is no longer indexing all those old URLs that no longer exist. Conversely, it may be that Google has de-indexed large swathes of your site because it decided that a lot of your pages were too similar to one another, in which case you'll need to do some work on your site copy in order to get everything indexed again!

Crawl Errors

5. Crawl Errors

When Googlebot attempts to crawl one of your pages and something goes wrong, this is where you'll be told about it. Search Console's Crawl Errors section lists:
  • 'Not found' URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that go to 404 error pages)
  • 'Server error' URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that trigger a server error)
  • Blocked URLs (i.e. URLs on your site that Googlebot is blocked from accessing)
  • 'Soft' 404 errors (i.e. URLs that don't exist, but don't return a 404 error for some reason)
When an old URL shows up in the Crawl Errors section, it often means that there's still a link to it somewhere, even though the page itself has been taken down. You may also see misspelled URLs here if somebody typed your page's URL wrong when they linked to you. This is another section that it's really important to check frequently, especially if you have a large ecommerce website with a large, ever-changing range of products on it - errors can pile up very quickly on sites like these, fast becoming totally unmanageable!

Sitemaps

6. Sitemaps

Once of the first things you should do upon logging into Search Console for the first time is head to the Sitemaps tab and submit the URL of your website's sitemap file (e.g. www.example.com/sitemap.xml) to Google. This will help the big G to index all of your pages a little faster. You should also update and resubmit your sitemap file every time you add or remove pages on your website - resubmitting in these cases is a good way of notifying Google that there's something new to see, or that some of the pages they've currently got indexed are no longer in use.

Google may occasionally spot an error in your sitemap file, and if this happens they will notify you in the Sitemaps section. Sitemap errors most commonly occur when you delete a page but forget to remove its URL from your sitemap file. Errors can usually be fixed by simply regenerating the sitemap file and resubmitting it in Search Console.

Need help looking after your website? Struggling to figure out why you're not showing up in Google results? Our search engine optimisation experts can help - get in touch today!

Is SEO Dead?

We've seen a lot of articles in the last few months with titles like this:

"Yes, SEO Really is Dead!"

"Stop Doing SEO - It Doesn't Work Anymore"

"SEO is over. Here's the new way to get your site seen!"

Invariably, these pieces will talk about the supposed demise of search engine optimisation as a worthwhile practice. They use the following arguments to convince readers that SEO is, indeed, a thing of the past:

  • Link-building doesn't work anymore. Seeking out links from external websites used to be a huge part of SEO, but inbound links are no longer an automatic guarantee of high rankings - these days, quality is far more important than quantity, and it can be very difficult to manufacture a really good link to your own site. Also, Google are getting much better at spotting unnatural and/or manipulative links and punishing the sites on the receiving end; this has put an end to linkbuilding as an effective means of boosting rankings, or so some bloggers would have you believe.

  • Keywords are more complicated than ever before. Once upon a time, you could achieve high rankings for a search term like 'cheap sofas' by simply mentioning 'cheap sofas' a hundred times in your site copy. Nowadays, the system is a lot more complex - search engines are aware of things like synonyms, closely related topics, and a whole variety of other ranking factors that don't have anything to do with keyword density. Also, Google and their competitors have learned to spot keyword-stuffed content from a mile away, and the penalties for this can be just as severe as the slap you'll get for dodgy link-building.

  • Sites should be optimised for users, not search engine bots. The problem with a lot of old SEO practices (particularly keyword stuffing) was their tendency to make things unpleasant for the user. You can write a 500 word essay that uses the phrase 'best mobile phones' in every other sentence if you so desire, but even if it ranks highly, it's not going to make especially riveting reading; in fact, all of that keyword stuffing might well make it harder for your customers to find the information they need. Nowadays, a good user experience is valued above high rankings, and since aggressive SEOing can quite easily get in the way of a strong UE, those practices no longer have a place on most websites.

Now, these are some good points - keyword stuffing and link farming do more harm than good, and we would certainly advise any webmaster to stay well away from these practices if they value their site traffic. But SEO isn't just the black hat stuff; those three letters may have picked up some negative connotations over the years, but search engine optimisation is still alive and well, and if you want your website to have any kind of presence on Google, Yahoo! and Bing, you absolutely must take it into consideration.

First of all, you need to stop viewing SEO as a shady effort to fraudulently boost a site's rankings. SEO is actually a very important part of website design, and it starts with the code itself - our developers have spent the last decade building sites in a way that's easy for Google and other search engines to digest. We also work hard to create lightning-fast pages, user-friendly functionality, and so much more; all of this is as much a part of SEO as strategic keyword placement.

But we won't bore you with an in-depth dissection of good quality code. Instead, allow us to address the points above, and demonstrate why SEO remains very much alive:

  • Links are still important. Building a lot of low-quality links to your site is unlikely to do much for your rankings nowadays, but remember what we said about quality and quantity? That's an important thing to bear in mind - Google themselves have stated that inbound links are still a major part of their algorithm, it's just that they're now more interested in the value of your links than in how many you've amassed. Of course, since artificial links can land a site in very hot water, it's better to focus your SEO efforts on creating a site that encourages people to link unsolicited - make it easy to link, and make sure you provide something that's worth linking to. This is what really impresses search engines at the moment.

  • Keywords still have their place. Modern SEO demands a rather less ham-fisted approach to keyword placement, but that doesn't mean you should forget about keywords altogether. When creating your website, think about the search terms you would like each page to show up for, and then tailor your copy and any other content to those keywords. Make sure you're providing potential users with the clear information and the useful resources that they are likely to be looking for, and this will make each page's purpose clear to search engines as well.

  • User optimisation and SEO are, in many ways, the same thing. User optimisation makes your site more appealing to humans. Search engine optimisation makes your site more appealing to search engines. These two practices are very closely related, especially as search engines get smarter and more capable of thinking like humans. The articles we've read always tell you to forget about SEO and concentrate on the user experience, but this is misleading - they are two equally important undertakings that will yield sizeable rewards if done properly in tandem.

To answer that million dollar question, then: no, SEO isn't dead, it's just different to what it was a few years ago. Mind you, this shouldn't surprise anyone (least of all the type of people who are liable to write 'SEO is Dead!' aritcles) - SEO has been an ever-changing entity since day one, but none of its transformations have ever negated its usefulness as a practice. In fact, as web designers, optimising for search engines is one of our most important jobs!

 

The winner of The Apprentice 2012, and business partner to multi-millionaire business magnate Lord Alan Sugar, is Ricky Martin. Shortly after winning the Apprentice Ricky began work on the website for his new business with Designer Websites.

The brief from Ricky was to design and develop a highly functional and very professional website to represent Hyper Recruitment Solutions. The website itself would specialise in science jobs, science and technology being a field of considerable expertise for Ricky himself. The website would fully integrate with their chosen recruitment software solution, to make managing and posting jobs on the website automated and easy.

Ricky Martin Ricky has worked in the scientific and technology recruitment industry for many years and is a well-known and respected recruiter in this industry, thus proposing this as his business plan was both clever and attractive to Lord Sugar. 


When we learned that Ricky wanted to work with Designer Websites to develop the HRS website we were most pleased and honoured. We immediately began work on planning and designing what we now feel is the best recruitment website on the Internet.

 


“We chose Designer Websites over many other companies for the HRS website because they have a great track record and obviously have the skills to produce a high quality website, which was absolutely imperative for this venture. Working alongside Lord Sugar is a great privilege, but it comes with very high expectations, so choosing the website developer required much consideration. Thankfully we chose the right web developer and our website is proof of this. Designer Websites completed the work on time, to expectations and without fuss. The team at Designer Websites were easy to work with, full of ideas and extremely cooperative in all areas of the project. We now have an excellent working relationship and hope to continue working together in the future. HRS would like to thank Designer Websites for all their hard work and for producing an excellent website for our business.”

Ricky Martin BSc (Hons) MIRP CertRP MRSC
Managing Director of Hyper Recruitment Solutions


The Apprentice, of course, is the wildly popular television programme in which aspiring young entrepreneurs battle it out for a chance to become a 50:50 business partner with Lord Sugar who would invest £250,000 in to their company.

With Hyper Recruitment Solutions, Ricky Martin is aiming to provide a specialised, professional and highly compliant recruitment service for the science and technology industries. Jobseekers and employers alike will find the HRS recruitment website incredibly useful; applicants can find science jobs with some of the biggest names in the industry, while companies can use the website to recruit highly qualified candidates. It’s a great deal for both parties, so whether you’re looking for employment or looking to recruit some talented new employees, Ricky Martin and the HRS recruitment website can help.

We’re thrilled to have been given this opportunity – it isn’t often that you get to work with such high-profile clients. Apprentice winner or not, we think that Ricky Martin has come up with a brilliant business idea, and we know that he and Lord Sugar have worked hard to bring Hyper Recruitment Solutions to life. We’ve been working hard too, and we know that the HRS recruitment website that we’ve developed will be up to their high standards.

The site went live today; you can find it at www.hyperec.com.

Cardiff Airport Taxis - Bay Cars

These are the 2 websites that we have recently launched for a Cardiff-based taxi and executive cars company. We actually developed the first version of websites for the taxi company way back in 2005, so this time we have just refreshed the websites to make them look even better than before!

We have all personally used the company for taxis and can vouch for the professionalism of the company. They are very reliable and extremely courteous and professional.

So if you are looking for a taxi in the cardiff area or need a taxi from cardiff airport, then look no further..

Cardiff Airport Taxis - Bay Cars