Making your web design work for mobile


Increasingly our life on the web is mediated by our mobile phone, or other portable devices. This means that websites need to be able to cater to a mobile friendly market place, which may mean changing your current design spec. In some sectors more than 25% of searches are now made using mobile phones, so to make sure you’re not missing that traffic, you should ask yourself, is your website design mobile friendly?


Mobile friendly websites

If you would like to skip out worrying about mobile design for your site altogether then there are some really great shortcut options available. You could use responsive themes if you are using WordPress, which can be picked up at great value. These themes basically consider the platform viewing the page for every viewer in order to format your page most appropriately. Alternatively sites like squarespace or wix will do the job for a nominal monthly fee. Or finally you could setup a sub domain at m.example.com.


Mobile first

A growing trend among designers says that when creating a new site today, the mobile site should be first priority. This way you can build your site to address the concerns of your mobile viewers. Unlike the confusion pages designed for the desktop might encounter when viewed on a mobile, it is no issue when done the other way around.

If your site is already in place, and you simply want to deliver a seamless user experience by mobile then there are a few universally common features to bear in mind.

Are your icons finger friendly?

– Fingers are less precise than the mouse cursor, make sure your viewer can easily move around your site without the constant need to zoom.

Page width!

– the distinguishing feature of mobiles is… They’re small. For this reason make sure your site isn’t full of empty wasted space, and make your page width as slim as possible.

Be vigilant

– new changes and updates are plenty and frequent. Make sure that as well as your usual inspections you keep an eye on how your site behaves on mobile. Is the font legible? Or are there any overwhelming blunders? Finally use simplicity when designing for the mobile web, many viewers will click away if your page takes even 30 seconds to load.


Should Your Site be Using SEO or PPC


SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) advertising are the two most commonly and effectively used strategies used to market and drive in traffic to websites.

As you may know SEO refers to ways in which your site registers with search engines, so that your content can be pulled up when a viewer searches for relevant terms. There are a number of ways that strong SEO can help to boost your business, and to help you to appear on the first page of search engine results. The most popular include utilizing the best keywords in your content, meta titles, and page descriptions, to reach your target audience. Other techniques include making sure your site backlinks to other trusted, popular, and relevant pages on the web.

PPC is a very different way of marketing your business online. Whenever you search a term in a search engine, if you see “sponsored link” or “ad” or “google-ad”, then you are seeing a demonstration of PPC. When using PPC you pay for each click that the search engine refers someone to your site.


Benefits of PPC

When using PPC it is very easy to know and measure the success and value. If you are paying say $10 for clicks this month, and you can see that those clicks have helped you generate an extra $200 in turnover for the period, then you have a successful campaign. Similarly if you earn money through your site using advertising then simply compare the money that you make from on site ads to the money you’re spending.


Benefits of SEO

Whilst it may be harder to measure in terms of value for ROI (return on investment), SEO is a far broader, and in many ways, is a more substantial long term investment. If you have been using PPC, and decide to stop the service then your marketing efforts come to a halt. SEO is a more gradual process which, once put into effect will continue to pull in valuable traffic into the future, with no extra costs. If you apply keyword research to 10 pages of great content, that same content will keep hooking new visitors for as long as the page exists.


Which is right for you?

For websites which sell products online, PPC advertising is a quick, simple, and measurable way to successfully target your audience. If however your website provides information, entertainment, or anything else which means that you earn your money by selling advertising space, then your content should be the focus, and SEO should be your marketing method of choice.

How often do you click to Google’s second page?

(or: How To Achieve First Page Ranking)

So what’s that you were saying? Google has a second page?

For the vast majority of internet searches, the user already knows the destination they require. For the rest, search engines are very proficient at ordering the most relevant pages so as to help you to find your solution as quickly as possible. The only necessary proof of this is by asking yourself, how often do you need to click beyond the first page of results when using a search engine?

Exactly! So how is it that you might one day hope to see your web page(s) ‘up in lights’, peacock proud, displayed on the first page of the search results for your given term?

The answer is that you need to cater to the search engine by ticking all of the boxes for a successful implementation of professional search engine optimization techniques.


Beware of quick-fix solutions

If you found this page then the chances are that you searched something somewhat similar into your chosen search engine. You may also have come across a flurry of results advertising “first page placement in the time it takes to boil the kettle”. Suffice to say, this is a little like an advert for “the perfect bikini body in a fortnight”, perfectly true if you’re already almost in such a position. For Keith, 45, with his 38″ waist, and furry shoulders, though, it probably isn’t a reality.

All quick-fix alternatives to growing your website’s success will be so temporary as to only have a degradative effect in the long term.


The healthy way to the top

If you take your business seriously and have long-term goals for your website’s success, then these are some of the things you need to succeed.

Great quality content
Expert keyword research
Effective link building
Clean simple web-design
Social Media presence

An SEO guide to Google Hummingbird


What is Hummingbird?

Like Panda and Penguin before it, Hummingbird is the name of the latest and greatest update to the Google search algorithm. This dictates how, what, and where web content appears given any particular search term. Many existing and familiar features remain the same as before, whilst overs have been tweaked, removed, or reinvented. The most important and exciting change though, which I want to explain here, is the application of their smart semantic search feature, and what it means for SEO. 


Semantic search

The way search once worked required all parties to speak the language of the search engine. It was important for the content, but also for the searcher.

Today search engines are learning to speak human on all sorts of levels. This means that jargon, technical terminology, as well as slang can be picked up and understood more readily so as to be placed in the proper context.

Essentially what semantic search means is that rather than matching keywords from search terms to web pages, the underlying meaning is taken and analysed from both sides.

If you search for terms which have recently become obsolete without your knowledge, as opposed to presenting older information, search engines would now look to deliver web pages that explain why your search is obsolete, and what you instead should be searching for.


What this means for SEO

As always, the best SEO professionals need to stay ahead of the curve to keep up with search engines and this is no exception.

As mentioned precise word matching takes on slightly less of a role, and a greater need for Adword research takes it’s place. Also quality of content takes a centre stage in this new type of SEO. Your reputation will also become increasingly relevant to how search engines treat your content. Are you being well reviewed? do your customers or viewers return frequently? Are they sharing your links with others? All of these considerations now become crucial.

Google’s Smart Semantic Search Means Quality is (Finally) King

All of the biggest and best search engines are continually striving to improve their service for the customer, and to therefore provide the best service available. Recent developments in Google’s Hummingbird update are a big step forward, and it is essential to be up to date so that you can make the most for your SEO strategy.

There are a great many factors which go into deciding which pages will appear when a search term is entered, and where these pages will be placed. Conventional means like analysis of page-rank, and keyword use still feature as critical elements, but with a twist.

The new algorithm used by hummingbird makes the user experience far more conversational than ever. You can now easily type “great taxi firm nearby” as opposed to needing to rely on the location keywords. Further the more specific your search terms, the more google works to filter out irrelevant pages. It manages this by analysing content more than ever, by taking the gist of the content, the summary, or particular subjective viewpoints into consideration, the search engine can move away from keyword reliance to focus on precisely what the content explains.

All this means progress for how the web is used, though as a part of your SEO strategy it may mean more hard work for some. Repetitive, or low quality content will be discriminated against in favour of more clear, concise, and informative content. Be creative and diverse, make use of synonyms which rank highly in Adwords rather than drowning your viewer in the same keyword two dozen times per page.

Since the beginning of time (in SEO terms) content has been hailed as king, though there have always been ways that certain companies get around the requirement. Updates in how search engines work, particularly the smart semantic approach of hummingbird, seems as if we are heading very much in the direction where high quality becomes an absolute necessity.

What Local Internet Marketing means for Small Businesses

Most search engine entries looking for goods or services, particularly those where the consumer intends to make a purchase, will be looking for a point of sale that is local and therefore practical for them. Whether you own a clothes shop, or a cafe, most of your regular business will come from the local community. So how do you plug in and make the most of this demand in your local community?

Why is it important?
Local visibility is key for any business that might want their customer to know their whereabouts, which it would seem, probably covers pretty much all businesses. However for businesses which make direct face to face transactions I.e. The retail sector, this is a necessity.
SEO marketing is one of the most valuable and popular ways that companies reach their target audience. By considering your local area, SEO can be driven with an initiative to cater to your locals. Whether you sell online, or use your website to promote your small store, customers feel comfortable buying from local providers, so if your SEO only targets “ladies footwear” for example, you may be missing out on sales you would have gained by adding  “South London” to your keywords.

Take advantage
There are a number of location based services online to host your business information, google places, yelp, among others. These are for the most part completely free, and will catch anyone local to you who is in search of something that you sell. Making use of these fantastic free services will make sure your customer knows where you are, how to contact you, and even allows reviews to be left for new customers to see.

Make your voice heard
Get involved with local activities, sponsor school sports days or other local projects, and advertising your business through local community, and industry specific blogs. Most towns, or Burroughs will have websites dedicated to your local area, and it’s up to you to make the most of them.

Social Media presence
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media outlets are not going anywhere but up. If your business still isn’t making the most of social media then you really must. Having a strong Facebook account for your sandwich shop builds buzz, and your customers can even interact with you, and one another. Your social media campaign makes your customers feel like club members, maintaining a sense of store loyalty, and keeping a line contact between you and your customer.


Building Legitimate Backlinks

Backlinks or Link Building has always served as one of the most important and powerful features of a strong SEO strategy, but the ways we use them has changed enormously. This is one of the reasons why an up-to-date SEO expertise is so key to online success. Those still implementing techniques which a few years ago were hailed as miraculous will find themselves lacking, and their website struggling.

Bad Backlinks
It is very possible, easy even, to acquire hundreds of backlinks with very little hard work, ever to an empty website. Some techniques involve link-swapping with others, or spamming links to your website onto other blogs or forums. Some recommend linking your website to dead links, by using wikipedia for example, and there are very frowned upon techniques too where numerous websites are set-up solely to be used as back-links.

None of these carry any benefit however, search engines are on to the tricksters nowadays. The only excitement which bad backlinks may make for a website will be extremely short-lived, and if you want to advertise using space on your blog or website then think again.

Good Backlinks
If however you make use of high quality backlinks, the rewards will most likely be very rich indeed. By networking online, and working in cooperation with other relevant websites, you can enjoy a connection of your mutual audiences via your own recommendation. If you are a web based business selling football boots, then bridge your website to other sites with information about boots, buying guides, as well as sites which sell balls, kits, goal-posts and so on. No successful business will associate with undesirables as their own reputation would be at stake.
These backlinks will be used again and again, and will for the most part be long-term associations.

Quality over quantity is rewarded by search engines today. The trick to building up great backlinks is taking your time. It may be more work than the shortcuts out there, though if you want backlinks which will keep your traffic flowing long-term, it is undeniably worthwhile.

The A, B, C’s of Affordable Website SEO

The world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) may often seem daunting, with constant updates and ever changing jargon. If you are new to the world of SEO, or are new to running a business online then this is applies especially. But it needn’t take years of ardent research, setting up affordable SEO techniques that anyone can apply is more simple than is often made out.

Regardless of trade, design may be the most widely understood language of all for establishing user-preference. The wonderful part is, that people like simplicity! Flashiness had it’s time, but novelty wore in and the people have spoken, a smart, clean, and concise design is king whether you’re baking, selling professional music equipment, or opening an online jewelry store. Do not make a homepage with long movies, or seizure inducing graphics, and certainly don’t startle your viewer with an eruption of impromptu music on every page.

The most effective way to target your audience is to go via the search engine. Google, Yahoo, Bing and others relate the users search to the words you use in your content, especially titles, page tags, and page descriptions. So be savvy and make sure the proper vocab, jargon, or terminology is being utilised on your site to attract higher traffic volume.

If you are a Formula One fanatic and make money with a site dedicated to the topic, then make and contribute to a blog, and engage in discussion with other similar sites. This is the proper way today to acquire high value, long-term back links which drive in business to your site, help your associates, and makes for a more user friendly experience.

Localise your business
Take advantage of the numerous opportunities to connect your business to it’s physical location by adding your address and contact information, the yellow pages for example allows you to submit your exact location and allows customers to post reviews.

Social Media
Whether you’re Barack Obama, or the new expendables movie, you need a Twitter and Facebook accounts. Social media is a vast new frontier for marketing, and you can go far with very little or no budget at all. Encourage your customers to add you, add relevant associates yourself, and engage to make the most.

Organic SEO: Then and now

Search engines are continually evolving, Google for example update their search algorithms around 500 times each year, and keeping up requires marketing specialists more than ever to be on their toes. Here is a little run-down of the evolution of search engines, and organic SEO as a result.

As search engines evolve, so does the role and the workload of SEO specialists. The overriding direction of search engine tweaks are toward creating an online environment where the consumer / webuser wins. The highest quality, most original content which resonates with it’s readers will shine through, and old techniques will leave once successful, perhaps reputable businesses to fall off from first page placement into the shadows of page 2 and beyond…

Fortunately though it isn’t (as it often seems) a battle, search engines constantly provide in depth guides to navigating and understanding their updates, which great SEO experts will be able to apply. Here though are the most important developments to be aware of:

Focus on Return on Investment
Once upon a time page ranking was the crowning glory of successful SEO, though not so much any more. Now a focus on the Return on Investment (ROI) prevails as SEO specialists focus on each and every page of content, and not merely the general performance of the website.

Long-tail Keyword Focus
Traditionally Keywords for search terms were short, and general terms targeting the widest possible audience reach. Recent changes in the way search engines function means that long-tail phrases are now far more important than ever. This means that if a mechanic wants to search for a very specific part, rather than finding suppliers for parts in general and trying to narrow down the options to find the part, now search engines are more apt at finding relevant web page for even the most specific searches. This is also really handy as these searches often occur at the point of purchase.

Quality Backlinks
No more will websites profit from spamming backlinks, link-farming, or link-exchanging. Instead today’s backlinks require experts in the field to come together and form relations to connect the most relevant content. Links which become valuable themselves as pathways through content which organically relates. Imagine the different stages of building a house for example, which might connect the expertise of plumbers, roofers, bricklayers and so on.

Ways To Boost Your Local Internet Marketing Opportunities

When people are looking to find a particular business where they live, more often than not they turn to the Internet.  This is why using local internet marketing opportunities is vital.  Especially if you want it to stay one step a head of its competitors.

There are many ways that you will be able to boost your local Internet marketing opportunities.  The ones we discuss below, provide you with the potential to make it easier for customers to find you.

  1. It is important to make sure that your website is using the right SEO strategies. It should be optimized through using keywords that are specific to your industry.

You need to make sure that the keywords included are ones that are particular to the area that your business serves.

  1. As the owner of a local business, it is important to make sure that you have been listed in Google Places. This is a free service.

Having entered your information into it, you get further coverage.  Then when potential customers search on Google for your type of business in the area you serve, yours will appear before them.

  1. PPC or pay per click is another great way to boost your local Internet marketing opportunities. You should be using this if you are in an industry where competition is high.

Make sure that you bid only on keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business.

  1. Okay, social media might not be the way that most customers are likely to find you at first. But it is,a great way to be able engage with customers, who are already loyal to your business.

Using Facebook and Twitter, is a great way to boost your local Internet marketing opportunities.  It helps you engage more with your customers both old and new, plus it allows customers to provide feedback much faster.

Don’t expect these ways to boost your local Internet marketing opportunities fast, it is going to take time.  But building up a solid foundation means that you are more likely to gain the trust of those who visit your website.