Tag Archives: SEO

Why Brand Content is a vital part of your website


branded content websiteWho are we? No, it’s not some kind of weird existential musing, but the question every brand should be asking themselves. Who are we? What image do we want to project to potential customers? What do we offer them? Thousands, if not millions, of pounds are spent by brands across the world answering these questions through careful social and search strategies, impactful design, and innovative web builds. But there’s something somewhat simpler that can have an equally important, though often overlooked, impact: brand content.

High quality branded content is often overlooked by brands in favour of more elaborate and glamorous content. It’s hardly a surprise, really. When weighing up the pros and cons of diverting budget into brand copy or high profile campaigns, alluring competitions, and social activity, the latter three almost always win because they’re the most compelling and exciting options, and therefore the most obvious candidates to generate views and increase engagement. There’s no competition really.

But while branded content won’t draw consumers to your site in their droves, it performs a number of key functions that makes it an utterly indispensable element of your brand site’s make-up. These roles are listed below.

It offers always-on content

Campaigns, competitions, and activations are great at generating peaks of interest and should, of course, always play a part in any strategy, but they are by their very nature short-term. They pique interest over a certain period of time, and then end, along with visits to the site and all the other benefits they brought. Always-On content eliminates that problem and offers a regular point of interest that consumers can keep returning to.

It negates damaging false information

The internet is a haven for false information, whether spread intentionally or accidentally, and it’s important for brands to negate this. Research suggests that internet users are keen to find reliable sources of information, and there are few places more reliable than a brand website. By offering clear, concise information about the brand in an easily accessible place on your website, you are giving consumers what they want and covertly acting to negate any false information that may be around.

It’s good for SEO

It’s always been true that optimised copy is good for SEO, but with recent introductions made by Google over the last year or two, it’s become even more significant. Google’s pushing of the Knowledge Graph and Answer Box makes brand content even more significant as it gives brand sites the best chance of appearing prominently for both. It’s particularly true of the Answer Box, which generates a concise answer to a question that the user types in based on content from the site Google deems most relevant. The more information you can add to your brand’s site to answer questions about it, the more chance you have of appearing in these Answer Boxes and pulling in relevant traffic.

Consumers look for origin

History has become more important than ever to brands, with consumers placing a heavy emphasis on brand origin. It’s what sells brand trust and gives the clearest indication of quality. “Consumers value authenticity and will gladly pay a premium when the brand’s connections to origin run deep,” Zane Radcliff argues. “…We put provenance before price and availability when shopping for food and drink. ‘Made In’, ‘Made By’ and ‘Made Since’ all matter.” The same can be said for a strong brand page, which can concisely and engagingly put across all this information and more. Brand content isn’t just a chance to shout about your history then, but an effective sales tool.

Best in Class

Brand content doesn’t have to mean boring content. There are a number of brands out there creating engaging, multi-media brand content that still ticks all the necessary boxes for SEO. A few of the best examples are below…

Coca-Cola

coca-colaLeading the way, as it so often does, is Coca-Cola. Thanks to its rich history, Coca-Cola has been able to craft a detailed corporate site that features an in-depth and engaging History section. Featuring an overview, a Heritage page, and an area dedicated to its world-famous advertising campaigns, this section is engaging, colourful, and emphatic about the long-standing quality of the brand. It does all this while also filling the page with relevant copy about the brand to satisfy Google algorithms and to do everything possible to ensure that Coca-Cola’s official pages will appear highly in the search rankings when searched for.

Heineken

heinikenTaking a more visual approach, Heineken has created an interactive video page that allows users to “create their own Heineken story”. Though there’s very little copy on this page (so it will have limited impact on SEO) content such as this is innovative and exciting enough to act as an always-on point of engagement. Consumers will visit the site just to play with this video creator, which will help boost traffic, and due to the level of user involvement it requires, engagement. Moreover, it puts across an image of the brand as innovative and exciting, therefore helping push brand values in a subtle fashion.

Peroni

peroniBlending rich copy with interactivity, Peroni has delivered the best of both worlds. Channelling its reputation as a premium quality world beer, the Peroni site features a range of written content, including serving suggestions and a visually presented heritage timeline that gives consumers an appreciation of where the brand has come from and how it plays into their modern-day values. Adding multi-media to the mix, Peroni has also included a handful of videos which help convey brand values in sound and vision, as well as through writing. It makes for a powerful site, both for the consumer and for search engines.

Conclusion

Brand content is not the be all and end all of a website, but it’s a vital part of the mix that’s all-too-often overlooked. Good brand content allows you to put your best foot forward, give consumers correct and reliable information, and compete strongly in search. You know who you are – so why not tell the world?

Do you want to unlock the potential of branded content? If you’re looking for support, why not contact our team of content marketing experts to see how we can help?  Let us know in the comments below or via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+, we’d love to hear from you!

If you found this article interesting, you may want to find out more about how to create content with consumer science in mind. Simply click on the image below to read more 

 

content-consumer-psychology-fastwebmedia



A Beginner’s Guide To Keyword Research – Part 2


beginners guide to keyword researchWelcome back to the second part of our beginner’s guide to keyword research. In part one of the guide we discussed:

  • The importance of gaining a wide scale view of the site you want to optimise through crawling it.
  • Developing a keyword map to visualise and organise your optimisation efforts in an easy and scalable way.
  • Gathering historic ranking data from your website through Google webmaster tools.
  • Downloading historic Adwords keyword data.
  • Gathering in-site search data to understand what users search for on your site.

In this second part of the guide we will look at how to extend, clean and combine this data into a single, relevant keyword list, how to expand the list even further through keyword discovery, and finally how to select target keywords for your website.

Step 7: Organising Your Historic Data

If you are optimising a new website or were not able to gather data through steps three, four and five in part one of the guide you can skip this step.

If you followed part one of the guide (and assuming that you are performing keyword research for an existing site with the above information available), then at this point you should have a significant amount of data to work with.

Step 7a: Extending the data

At this point you have three very different sets of data.

  • Webmaster tools will give you keywords, clicks, impressions, average ranking and average click through rate (CTR).
  • Adwords (depending on your setup) will provide you with keywords, clicks, CTR, impressions, cost per click (CPC), Cost etc.
  • In-site search will give you the keywords, the number of searches, the number of results page views per search and so on.

Using the Google keyword planner, research and find the average monthly search volume for the keywords in each data set, and insert them into the relevant spreadsheets.

google keyword planner image

In addition to the number of actual visits/searches/clicks each keyword represents, you should now also have an idea of the total opportunity size of each keyword too.

Step 7b: Cleaning the data

Now comes perhaps the most time consuming part (depending on how much data you have). Assuming you do have a lot of data, you will need to be ruthless in cutting the list down.  The following steps are our recommendations on making the list more manageable, but please remember to use your own judgement above all.

  1. Read through the keywords and identify question-based or long-tail terms that could be targeted through blog content. Set these aside in a separate spreadsheet for your content team. To get the most out of your content you may also want to read our blog: How to create content with consumer science in mind.
  2. Delete all keywords with 0 average searches per month.
  3. Sort through all the keywords, deleting any that are not relevant to the company or its service offerings.
  4. Delete any misspellings of keywords.

Step 7c: Combining the data

At this point, you should have managed to cut your keyword list down by a reasonable amount, and only have relevant (correctly spelled) keywords with at least 10 searches per month left. Next you need to combine the data from each of the three sheets.

Using the WMT sheet as the base sheet, copy the keyword, search volume and clicks/searches columns from the Adwords and in-site search sheets and paste them in the WMT sheet.

Tip 4: At this point you may wish to colour the cells from the Adwords and in-site search sheets in case you wish to identify them later on.

Step 8: Identify More Keywords with Keyword Planner

Now that you have a full list of relevant historic keywords, it is time to conduct further research to identify any relevant, frequently searched keywords that your website may not currently rank for using Google Keyword Planner.

google-keyword-planner-2-fastwebmedia

Tip 5: It is also important to note that Google keyword planner only allows 1,000 keywords to be inputted at a time and, as such, several searches may be required if your keyword list exceeds this.

There are three methods for doing this.

Method One: Page by Page Keyword Research

Firstly, you can insert the URLs of your website’s pages one by one into the ‘Your landing page’ field, after which Google will crawl your page and suggest relevant keywords based on its content. The benefit of this is more granular data, allowing you to effectively organise your keywords on a page by page basis. The drawbacks are the time it takes (especially for large sites) and, if your page is not well optimised or is thin on content, Google may not recommend relevant keywords.

Method Two: Bulk Keyword Research

The second way to identify more keywords with keyword planner is to paste your keywords from step 7 into the ‘Your product or service’ field. The benefit of this method is that it is the quickest way to gain additional keyword ideas. However the drawbacks of this method are that it does not provide keyword data on a page by page basis and, if the keywords inserted en bulk are diverse, Google may not provide all possible relevant keywords.

Method Three: Group Keyword Research

The third and final method is to separate your existing keyword list into groups of closely related keywords, and paste these into keyword planner. The benefit of this method is that it minimises the risk of missing keywords as described in the second method. However, the drawback is that it is also time consuming.

Select whichever of the above three methods is most appropriate to you, and download any relevant, high volume keywords you identify and add them to your existing list. At this point, you should have a very comprehensive list of potential target keywords for your site.

If, for any reason, you feel you could use more keywords, we recommend using http://keywordtool.io/ in conjunction with your existing list and the methods above to find more.

keyword tool screenshot

Step 9: Selecting Target Keywords

Now that you have an extensive list of relevant target keywords, it’s time to reopen your Skeleton Keyword Map from part one of this guide. Your keyword map should have a separate row for each page of your website, and an adjoining row for target keywords for each page.

skeleton keyword map

On a page by page basis, sort through your keyword list and select the top 2-3 relevant keywords with the highest search volume, and insert them into the page’s target keyword cell (note that brand keywords should be included where relevant regardless of search volume). Repeat this for each page listed in your keyword map. Once finished, you should have 2-3 target keywords for every page on your website. If, for any reason, some pages do not have target keywords, we recommend that you use Step 8 – Method One alongside http://keywordtool.io/ as mentioned above to identify the most relevant, high volume target keyword possible for the remaining pages.

Tip 6: To ensure the same keyword is not inserted as a target keyword for multiple pages, we recommend colouring the cells of a keyword once it has been used.

Conclusion

That concludes part two of our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research. What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions you would like to add? If so please share them in the comments below. The third and final part of this guide will follow soon, so check back for the latest!

Are you looking for an agency to take your digital strategy to the next level? With our SEO and Data Analysis services, we can help! Get in touch today for more information.

Click on the image below to read part 1 of our Keyword Research Guide

beginners guide keyword research



A Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research – Part 1


beginners guide to keyword researchIt needs no introduction, keyword research is the lifeblood of any organic or paid search campaign. It helps you decide how to structure your website, name your pages and define your content. It helps you understand your target audiences’ mind-set when they search for your product/service, measure their intent and identify the most common words or phrases they use to describe your offering.

For all the beginners out there, here is part one of our step-by-step guide for how to conduct keyword research for an existing site and create a keyword map to optimise key meta elements for each page of that site.

Before we get started, one thing to remember while reading and implementing these steps for your own website is that search engines seek to provide users with the best possible user experience and the best websites relevant to a query. As such, never compromise user experience on your website for the purpose of optimisation. If you think your website could use some user experience improvements in addition to the optimisation described in this blog, take a look at one of our recent articles with 6 Ways to Improve the User Experience on Your Website.

Step 1: Crawl Your Site

The first thing you should do is get a feel for the current size and structure of your website. You can do this using a tool called the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. Basically, this tool will crawl your website in a similar way to a search engine and display all the identified pages with any relevant SEO information such as Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and so on. Use the link above to try a free version.

screaming-frog-data-fastwebmedia

Once you have run a crawl of your website, you can export the data for the next step.

Step 2: Create a Skeleton Keyword Map

I’ll explain. What I mean by keyword map is an excel sheet laydown of your entire site (or just the sections/pages you want to optimise) on a row by row basis. Each row accounts for one page, and each column accounts for an element of that page you plan to optimise. An example of what I mean is displayed below.

skeleton-keyword-map-fastwebmedia

As you can see, each row accounts for a different page e.g. Home, Products, Tops and then Nike. In the example above, I opted for a staggered approach to visualise the site structure i.e. sub-levels of products are Tops & Jogging Bottoms while their sub-levels are Nike & Adidas and then Mens, Womens, Boys & Girls respectively. Personally, I find this useful when defining URL structures for a site e.g. examplewebsite.co.uk/products/tops/nike/mens.

Tip 1: It is important to remember that your URL structure should always contain only live pages. For example, if I opted for the URL examplewebsite.co.uk/products/tops/t-shirts/nike/mens, but the website did not have a page for t-shirts, any person or search engine who then tried to visit examplewebsite.co.uk/products/tops/t-shirts would get a 404 error.

You can also see that for each page there are columns that allow me to input my target keyword(s) for the page, a proposed URL, Title Tag, Meta Description and so on. Edit/structure this document however you see fit to suit your own needs & preferences.

Step 3: Gather WMT Search Query Data

webmaster-tools-menu-fastwebmediaWhile the curse of [not provided] exists, making effective SEO strategy more challenging, there is an alternative to getting keyword level performance data for your website.

Google Webmaster Tools offers search query data for up to 90 days and includes the number of clicks, impressions, click through rate (CTR) and average ranking position for each keyword.

In a modern day industry where growing attention is given to CTR as a potential ranking factor, this data is invaluable for Meta Title & Description optimisation. Especially when GWMT also offers this information at landing page level.

To access the landing page information, navigate to the search queries page as seen on the left and click the ‘Top Pages’ tab at the top of the screen. Clicking on a landing page will also let you view which keywords are driving the most traffic to each landing page.

webmaster-keyword-data-fastwebmedia

Download the above mentioned keyword data, and begin sorting through the keywords to find which are most relevant to your brand & webpages. Make a note of or add relevant keywords you find for each page to the keyword map.

Step 4: Gather AdWords Data

If you have not run an AdWords campaign for your site in the past, or cannot get access to it, you can skip this section. The great thing about AdWords is that you can target ads to specific landing pages, and then find out which keywords performed best for those landing pages based on clicks and click-through-rate (CTR).

adwords-keyword-data-fastwebmedia

For each campaign adgroup you have run in the past, run a search query report for the maximum duration of the campaign and download the data. When you are doing this, make sure to make a note of which landing page each set of data was targeted to.

Once you have the data, compile it in to a single worksheet and begin sorting through the data to identify which keywords performed best and are the most relevant to the target page; if you have conversion data based on these keywords this would be even more valuable. Make a note of or add relevant keywords you find for each page to the keyword map.

Step 5: Gather In-site Search Data

adwords-menu-fastwebmediaIf your website doesn’t have a search function whereby users can search for content within your site, you can skip this section. If you do have this set up on your website, you are in the unique position to identify exactly what people are searching for on your website, and therefore what keywords they are using to describe your products and services!

If you have it set up, Google analytics can provide this information for you by visiting Behaviour > Site Search > Search Terms. If not, here is how you can set it up. If all else fails, your developer may be able to provide you with the information.

Assuming you have access through analytics, download the last 3 months’ worth of data (or whatever data you have) and repeat the same method as in steps 3 & 4.

Step 6: Look at your website

In the midst of all the above tools and analysis, it can be easy to forget to use common sense. Look over the keyword lists you have built, now look at your website. Are there any other words or phrases you would use to describe your products or services? If so, add them to the planner.

Tip 2: If you want to get really granular with your research, and have products that have multiple variations based on factors such as colour, you can easily create potential keyword combinations using merge words.

Tip 3: If you have done all of the above, and still find yourself short of ideas, why not give uber suggest or keyword tool a try? They are free and give great ideas.

Conclusion

That concludes part one of our beginner’s guide to keyword planning. What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions you would like to add? If so, please share them in the comments below or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. Part 2 of this guide will follow soon, so check back for the latest!

Are you looking for an agency to take your digital strategy to the next level? With our SEO and Data Analysis services, we can help! Get in touch today for more information.



Google+ Split into Photos and Streams: What You Need to Know


google plus split into photos and streamsSince its launch in June 2011, Google’s social network, Google+, has struggled to gain traction and a clear place in the market. Its value as a tool to assist in a site’s search ranking is clear – the search giant has sought to leverage its social network by using a good presence on the site as a key indicator in the SERPs. However, in most other respects, many brands simply don’t see the worth in a Google+ presence. It’s not Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, but rather an amalgamation of some of the best pieces of functionality of all four that never quite adds up to a complete whole. Getting on Google+ just seems like another channel to maintain.

Last month, however, Google sought to etch out a clear place in the market for its social network by splitting it into two distinct products: Photos and Streams. The announcement caused a significant amount of online buzz, and instigated a lot of misinformation as some commentators misunderstood the announcement and suggested the site is closing. It’s not, but the new Google+ certainly ain’t your Daddy’s Google+.

What’s changed?

Quite a lot, obviously! Whatever way you slice it, dividing the network into two distinct parts is a big shift – a total functionality shift, really – and it’ll take brands and users some time to really get to grips with it. The Streams half of the site is relatively simple to understand. Think of Streams as Facebook’s News Feed, or your Twitter Feed. This is where you dump all the status updates and random ponderings that pop into your head. So, when you sit down for your dinner and think, “This is a really nice ham and cheese sandwich. I wonder if anyone else is having a similarly tasty dish?” and take to Google+ to express that thought, here’s where it’ll appear.

The Photos section is where the biggest changes are happening. From now on, Google will automatically sift through any photos you upload to Google+ and choose your best photos, and rearrange them into a scrapbook-style layout that you can edit and add captions to. Google is calling this feature Stories, and to account for the speed at which digital life runs, these Stories are generated quickly and you’ll be notified once the process has finished.

So, if you wanted to demonstrate the unbelievable loveliness of your ham and cheese sandwich and took a few pictures of the delightful dish to upload to Photos, Google+ could rearrange them into a Story, making it easier to share and, ahem, digest. It’s a reflection of the fact that visual media is by far the most significant form of communication on the internet at the moment, and to make those images come alive even more, Google has created a GIF-creator, allowing you to form photos taken in quick succession into a GIF.

As you’d expect from a company whose bread and butter is search, Google has also revamped the search functionality on Photos. Now, you can just head to the search bar, type in “my photos of [that incredibly fantastic ham and cheese sandwich]” and you’ll have them all there to view. The photos are separated into Albums based on date or location, and shows you the ones it deems to be the best or most significant. You’re unlikely to get what you’re looking for right away, every single time, but it’s a good start and a step in the right direction.

Hangouts

The one thing we haven’t mentioned so far is one of Google+’s most unique and valuable elements: Google Hangouts. Even as Google+ has struggled, Hangouts has regularly been cited as the best part of the site, and Google has constantly sought to keep improving it with new features and functionality. There was never any chance it would fall by the wayside in a restructuring of Google+; in fact, if the site were to ever get put to pasture, it’s the one feature that would definitely survive the cull.

Indeed, Google’s Bradley Horowitz, who will now head up the restructured Google+, said in December, that Hangouts is seen less as a part of a social network, but its own independent, all-purpose communication tool: “It’s texting, it’s telephony, it’s one-to-one, it’s many-to-many, it’s consumer, it’s enterprise… We’re trying to do something broader that helps people communicate wherever they are using whatever products they prefer.”

Conclusion

And that is, perhaps, the biggest takeaway from Google+’s restructuring. The site is by no means dead, but as a social network may well be – if it’s not, it’s certainly entering its final days.

Google has now realised that it can’t play Twitter and Facebook at its own game. Those two companies are too well-established, and their users are too entrenched in them, for any site to pierce the bubble. A new angle must be sought, and by restructuring its social offering into what is essentially a multimedia communications network featuring text, imagery and video, Google has taken the first step on its way to finding that new angle. The next step is for it to distance this useful and engaging functionality from the tarnished legacy of Google+ and take Photos, Streams, and Hangouts into what should be a much brighter future.

 

What about you? What do you think of Google+’s restructuring? Get in touch if you’re looking for a trusted agency to take care of your social community building requirements.  

 

Check out this article below to learn how to set up your Google Places and Google+ Local for your Business.

set up google local and google plus places



Mobile for ecommerce brands: what are the benefits?


mobile commerce and the user experienceIt’s no secret that brands only stand to benefit from making their online experience accessible on mobile devices, especially due to the consistent increase year on year of mobile devices not only being responsible for driving increasing numbers of traffic to e-commerce websites, but having an increasing contribution on revenue generated. The ‘Year of the Mobile’ tag has been used to represent the last couple of years, however this term does seem appropriate for 2015, with ecommerce brands seen to benefit substantially if done correctly.

Ecommerce Performance to date

In 2014 Shopify analysed data from its 100,000 ecommerce stores that use the Shopify platform, and discovered that 50.3% of traffic came from mobile devices, as opposed to the remaining 49.7% coming from desktop.

Compare this to a report released by ShopVisible in 2013 that also analysed ecommerce website traffic and found that only 30% of website traffic was attributed to mobile, and you can see how the figures have grown. While both of these reports analyse slightly different amounts of data, the trend is clear to see and brands would be foolish not to factor in a mobile strategy into their 2015 digital marketing strategy, if not done so already.

While generating website traffic is one thing, the primary objective for all ecommerce brands is to generate revenue. Creating a smooth and flawless customer journey could be the key deciding factor on whether a user purchases or not, and providing a mobile friendly website goes a long way to achieving this. While ecommerce brands may have got by until now providing a desktop version of the website through mobile devices, more and more users are searching for that smooth buying process, and brands may have lost potential and existing customers by the time they finally catch up.

IMRG released figures in February 2015, which state that mobile was responsible for 40% of all online sales during the period from November 2014 – January 2015, which is up from 37% the previous quarter, and up from 32% when comparing year on year.

What does the future hold?

There are numerous forecasts regarding the impact on ecommerce websites through the increased usage of mobile devices. In a report published in February 2015 issued by PayPal, it states that mobile commerce is currently growing three times faster than ecommerce on a global level.

MyCustomer.com also released an article predicting mobile to account for half of all ecommerce traffic by the end of 2017. The article highlights 2 main reasons for this:

  1. The increased usage of mobile digital assistants such as Google Now, Cortana and Siri
  2. Improvement of mobile payment ‘wallets’, which according to MyCustomer.com “are likely to improve consumer trust in making transactions on alternative devices, so much so that in a Worldpay Global Guide to Alternative Payments report released last year, it was predicted that alternative payment methods (APMs) will overtake card payments by 2017.

Brands are having to increase the budget assigned to mobile device experiences, with mobile expected to be responsible for 83% of the total search spend, a staggering increase from 13% in 2012.

In fact a report by Forrester released in February 2015 states that online spending in China is expected to reach $1 Trillion, with the increase in mobile ecommerce the main contributing factor to achieving this figure, more specifically the increase in popularity and usage of mobile apps.

Impact of Mobile Apps

For brands planning on implementing a mobile strategy in 2015, one question they will face is whether to provide their users with a mobile app or not. User perception of mobile apps has changed over the years; while back in 2012 Neilsen released figures showing that users much preferred a brand’s mobile website as opposed to using an app, fast forward a year and an article in Econsultancy features results from a report conducted by Compuware that states 85% of users now prefer using apps over a mobile website. The three main reasons users gave for these results were:

  1. More convenient
  2. Faster
  3. Easier to browse

The main advantage of creating a mobile app is, despite users having to download and install the app, businesses have more control over their presence on a device than they would with a mobile website. For instance, a mobile app can be closed or inactive, but still work in the background to send geo-targeted push notifications and gather data about customers’ preferences and behaviours.

One key point to emphasise is all brands should look to have a mobile friendly website, with an app being seen as a bonus in user experience and an ability to gather further user information.

Impact on Search (SEO)

With Google still being the primary search engine for the majority of internet users, any algorithms or changes in ranking signals have to be taken into serious consideration by all brands. As of April 21st 2015, Google stated that websites that are ‘Mobile Friendly’ will see an increase in performance in the mobile search results, as opposed to websites that aren’t. By doing this Google is demonstrating that providing a good user mobile experience is going to be vital moving forward, and brands that are yet to achieve this are in danger of being left behind.

Another interesting development that has come out from Google in February 2015 is the trialling of red slow warnings in mobile search results (see image below). This is to signify if a page speed is slow and is likely to result in a poor user experience. This may also influence whether a user clicks on the link for this website or not, giving an advantage to websites that do provide a website with good page speed.

slow-warning-mobile-search-results-fastwebmedia
Source: Search Engine Land

 

With multiple ecommerce brands selling similar products, any advantage in the organic search results could be very lucrative, especially as users have a habit of going back to brand websites if a good user experience was achieved.

SciVisum undertook a study where product pages on the top 10 UK retailers’ websites were analysed in the build up to the 2014 Christmas period on both desktop and android devices, and found that 2 of the top 10 websites still don’t serve mobile friendly results. Another top retailer didn’t make the mobile version automatically accessible to mobile users, as well as not providing any links to it.

In the ever competitive industry of ecommerce, the user journey is influential in the consumer buying process and may well be the thing that makes or breaks a user purchasing from a specific brand. With mobile marketing a major force in 2015, combined with the increased usage of mobile devices for product and service purchasing, providing a flawless mobile experience has no longer become an option, it has become a necessity.

If you are interested in providing your customers with a great user experience, no matter what device they’re using, get in touch with our development team to find out how we can help.

improve user experience on your website

If you liked this article, you may be interested to read about how you can improve the user experience on your website, click on the image above to read more.



Get your Zombie App to the Land of the Living


Zombie app optimisationIn 2014, mobile stopped being the ‘future’ marketing strategy and became an integral part of any current strategy and this is somewhat down to the popularity of mobile applications. This was a year when consumers started to successfully download apps not just for fun and games, but for eCommerce, healthcare and utility and actually use them! Apple’s App Store billing outgrew Hollywood Box Office in the US and Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19bn. Companies have added apps to their portfolio to increase brand loyalty, improve customer service, and increase revenue and many new companies have been created especially for this emerging market.

So what has this meant in the app market?

At the end on 2014, there were over 1.5 million apps available to consumers across all devices. Even when you separate this number into different genres and geological markets, the numbers are still staggering. However, the marketing channels within the app stores haven’t changed in the last 6 years since their inception, using ranked lists to promote popular or new applications on the market.

There are around 40,000 of these lists on the app store and it is considered that if you do not rank on any of these then your app will never be found organically. Currently 83% of apps are not ranked in any of these lists and these apps are called zombie apps. They sit within the app store with no way to find them except for specific search terms, usually the name of the app.

So how do you create an app which will live?

This isn’t the first time that volume of results has inhibited brands from being visible in organic search results. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is one of the key online marketing strategies used by companies online to be found by people looking for their products or services, and best practice has been refined over the years to give websites a competitive advantage and to keep up with Google algorithm changes.

Traditional marketing is vitally important when looking at your strategy as your app is just the same as any other product or service that is of value to consumers. However, ASO, or App Store Optimisation is an increasingly overlooked opportunity when trying to create traction and growth in the app market.

Here are the key factors you should consider from an ASO perspective:

App Title – Keywords in the title

Adding target keywords to the name of the app is not immediately obvious. Very rarely do companies name themselves after their product or service, however according to MobileDevHQ apps with keywords in their title rank 10% higher. SimilarWeb reports that the renaming of the ‘Amazon’ app to ‘Amazon Shopping’ saw a jump from #14 to #3 for the shopping search term and took 10% market share for this term, up from 2.18%. Other apps have followed suit including Gmail – email from Google and Spotify Music.

Google only allows 30 characters, so take into account which keywords are most important. An iPhone screen tends to see 35 characters, but all the keywords are relevant for search in the app store, so an approach like Map My Run pictured below takes this into account and includes the brand name first while still including relevant keywords.

map-my-fitness-app

Keyword field

This is more obvious: add more keywords and be found for more search terms. Google Play has a description field with a 4,000 character limit, whereas Apple has a keyword field with a 100 character limit on iTunes Connect, therefore you will need to optimise differently for both versions.

For Apple, it is best to separate your keywords by commas but do not use spaces: “keyword1,keyword2″ will be just as effective as “keyword1, keyword2″ but will save space. Apple’s search algorithm can combine keywords, so use single words with commas even if it is a phrase. The description field content does not count into keywords so remember here it is just about convincing the reader rather than loading it with keywords.

For Google, keywords should appear 5 times to be optimal in the description. As you might expect from Google, this is more akin to more traditional SEO and therefore it is up to you to find the best balance of keywords and useful information for the reader.

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings mean rankings. And not just any ratings, an app requires positive ratings to be considered a popular app and make its way onto the ranked lists. This usually starts with the people you know. Even if you’re aiming for world domination, you need to start somewhere and getting 10 honest positive ratings from friends and family can give users the motivation to download and use your app.

Once you start getting downloads there are techniques you can use to get further good ratings and reviews. A “share the love” button can be a better call to action than ‘leave a review’. If you are using notifications, make sure these are at the right times and to the right people, ignoring these factors could lead to negative reviews and worse rankings.

There are however people that are going to have bad experiences. The ideal scenario in these cases is that they contact you and not leave a bad review. If you include a form of contact in your app description like email address, a Twitter or Facebook account, this can become a source for feedback which won’t affect your rankings. Websites can also be used for feedback and include review bars for positive feedback from people who originally wanted to complain.

If you do get bad reviews, the most important thing is to listen, reply and fix problems as quickly as possible. Not many successful apps launched without bugs and various issues, but dealing with them in the right way can lead to success.

What else can you do?

Other important factors when creating your product are your logo, the app screen shots, and App Updates.

Your logo should be simple. Avoid using words in the icon, the design is going to be quite small so it is best to be consistent with the app but also stick out from the crowd. You should consider using a border so it works on a variety of backgrounds as the image should be visually impressive when it is on the phone as well as when it is in the app store.

Screen shots in the app store are the clearest visual indication of what experience the user will have before downloading the app. Google and Apple give 8 and 5 respectively so use them to full effect. The best screenshot is one that reflects what is so great about you app; it sometimes appears in the search results so take that into consideration too.

App updates occur semi-regularly and can be an annoyance to users. Inform the user thoroughly by filling in the ‘what’s new’ field with all the relevant details, and add a call to action to encourage users to download.

Number of downloads is one of the biggest factors when ranking. This is why traditional marketing approaches are important to the success of the app. Looking at all of your marketing channels and your audience will give your app the best possible chance for success.

You’re now ready to start App Store Optimisation to get your Zombie app back to the land of the living. Comment below if you have any feedback or questions, or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

 mobile payments 2015

To find out more about the evolution of Mobile in 2015, click on the image above to read about how we think Mobile payments will go mainstream in 2015.



20 Search Marketing questions you’ve always wanted to ask (part 2)


SEO Q&A Fast Web MediaLast week we brought you part 1 with 10 Search Marketing related questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but were too afraid of looking like you didn’t ‘know your stuff’.

We’ve got 10 more questions coming up, but feel free to get in touch if there’s anything we’ve missed out. Comment on the article, or get in touch via social media, we’ll gladly add a part 3 if we need to!

 

11. What are the Penguin, the Panda, the Hummingbird and the Pigeon algorithms?

For a really in-depth explanation of all the updates and what they mean, check out this post by Moz Blog. We’ll give you the summarised version. Basically, Google updates its algorithm as people’s search habits evolve and as less-than-white-hat practices emerge, giving sites an unfair advantage in the search engine rankings.

The Pigeon update took place in July 2014, and referred to a major update in local search listings, which resulted in some local businesses seeing their YELP listings ranked above their own branded websites. Categories like real estate and jobs were negatively impacted while others, like hospitality, were positively impacted.

The Hummingbird update referred to a shift in Google’s search algorithm to include signals about context, intent and semantic signals. This started with Knowledge graph and further advanced with the introduction of Google Now. We wrote a blog post about it at the time, which includes more info.

The Panda update was designed to reduce rankings for low quality sites; having the biggest effect on those sites that were practicing SEO tactics like placing keyword stuffed, low quality, duplicate content all over their sites. Sites with original and informative content reaped the benefits of this update. This update has been updated several times since its announcement in February 2011.

The Penguin algorithm updates penalised those websites that were practicing less than white-hat linkbuilding tactics. Sites with over-optimised inbound links, links from article marketing sites with thin content, poor quality and non-relevant inbound links, spammy keyword use in comments, user names, page titles, footer links and other such tactics, saw their rankings dropped and their overall search visibility diminished.

12. Why can’t I just buy a domain with our keyword in it and rank #1?

Because it is not as easy as that. There is a lot of competition in the marketplace and therefore sites have to work harder to appear higher in the Google search results.

13. What are rel=canonical tags?

A canonical tag is a piece of code you insert into your pages. With a rel=canonical tag you can tell search engines that some pages are the same as others, and tell the search engine which one of these should be indexed; you basically show the relation between pages. This way you prevent getting penalised for duplicate content.  For example, if you’re selling digital cameras you might have 20 of the same pages, the only difference being the amount of pixels and price, but search engines will see these as 20 duplicates. When 19 of them have a rel=canonical to the cheapest camera, search engines won’t see them as duplicates.

14. If I have more pages than my competitors, will I rank better?

Not necessarily. If the pages aren’t high in quality, you won’t rank well. Instead of actually helping you, adding too much content, especially mediocre content, can hurt you.

The Panda update explained in question 11 specifically targeted sites with low quality content. Such sites got penalised, and their search traffic dropped. A good example of this is Wise Geek. They once dominated the rankings due to their large quantity of content, but they got hit hard by Google’s Panda update due to low quality content.

The lesson to take from this is: Don’t create sites with thousands of pages. Focus instead on creating high quality content.

15. Do you need to know HTML to do SEO?

Yes, it is important to understand HTML and know some of the coding as it does impact SEO. However, you don’t need to be an expert at it, so understanding the basics should already give you a strong foundation.

16. Does every business need a blog? What is the benefit?

We do recommend that businesses add fresh content regularly. Search engines look at so many different things when deciding where to place you in the rankings, and “freshness” is one of them. For most businesses a blog is the perfect solution to add regular new content to show search engines your website is up to date. These blog posts will also give you ways to link build and give other people reasons to link to you. If the blog is informative and answers the types of questions your customers might have, then it can also help you convert those visitors into customers.

17. Is SEO alone going to make me rank higher?

Although it definitely helps you rank, it doesn’t give you more conversions or leads if your website is irrelevant to the user. You need to make sure your website is up to date, that it has good functionality and provides a good user experience, and that it answers the user’s search query. SEO won’t do much for you if you never update your website or never add any fresh content.

18. Will I rank better if I put lots of text everywhere?

Yes and no. Text helps search engines understand what your website is about. You will need text on your pages, but by overdoing it you’re creating a bad user experience. Adding loads of text purely for the sake of SEO will likely get you penalised. Only add text that is relevant for the user.

19. What is semantic search?

Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, to generate more relevant results. This is done by looking at natural language interpretations of a query instead of just a strict definition according to a keyword “exact match”. For more on this, refer back to question 11 where we discussed the Hummingbird algorithm update.

20. How can PR and SEO integrate?

The PR department can influence a variety of key areas that are important components of SEO and therein lays the opportunities for the PR pro to contribute to – and benefit from – the company’s SEO program.

Savvy PR pros will understand and use the keywords that have been identified by the SEO team within all PR correspondence. Keywords can be used in press releases, blog posts, integrated into spokespersons’ language and media training. Doing so will increase the likelihood that articles and blog posts about the organisation will contain those keywords. We wrote a blog post about optimising PR campaigns, which provides more info. Developing relationships with bloggers and linking back to their blogs (via trackbacks) within your own blog when appropriate will also contribute to SEO and ensuring that PR coverage contains links to the website will aid linkbuilding activity. Savvy PR pros will consider how publicity efforts can support and leverage the organisation’s SEO strategy- to produce better results that are highly measurable.

Spending some time understanding your organisation’s SEO strategy and learning how those results are measured will open up new and exciting opportunities for your PR campaigns.

 

So… have we answered all your questions? If not, then get in touch by commenting below or Tweet us @FastWebMedia and we can post a Part 3!

If you missed it, check out Part 1 of our Top 20 Search Marketing Questions & Answers, click on the image below:

seo q&a part 1 home




Google Hummingbird Algorithm update – What’s new?


 

Google’s latest algorithm; Hummingbird, was pushed live around a month ago, although it was only officially announced on Friday 27th September 2013.

What is Hummingbird?

Google’s Hummingbird, named so as it will make Google “precise and fast” will affect around 90% of all searches; allowing Google to apply more context to users’ search queries. The update focuses more on Google’s Knowledge Graph– an encyclopaedia of more than 570m concepts and relationships that allows Google to anticipate information you may want to know about your search term.

Hummingbird is Google’s solution to the changing way in which people use search engines across different devices, in different locations, and at different times of the day.

With the increase in mobile searches, and capabilities such as voice search, people are interacting with search engines in very different ways; using very different keywords, and often more likely to ask questions.

Better Search Term Understanding, Context, Semantics

Hummingbird puts far more emphasis on context, than individual keywords. It brings the capability of understanding entire phrases and questions, rather than individual words within them.

It also allows Google to consider other signals in its results, such as the user’s location, time of day, previous searches, and other information previously shared with Google. This gives a far more personalised and accurate set of results to the user, making for a better overall experience.

Conversational Search

One of the most significant changes to the way Google works is ‘conversational search’. This has been live in Google Chrome for a number of months, using specific pieces of information, but has now been rolled-out to the whole Google Index.

Conversational search allows users to conduct a search or ask a question; which can then be followed-on with another search where the previous search will be considered for context!

For example: If you start by asking Google “who is in the latest Calvin Klein perfume advert?” and follow up the search with ‘where can I buy it?’, Google will take into account the context of the first search when giving you results for the second search. Historically, it would have treated them as separate search queries and would not have given you brand information in the second search.

What has the impact been so far?

It’s still early days, but even though Hummingbird was implemented a month ago, most website owners haven’t noticed significant changes. It’s safe to say the short term impact hasn’t been very dramatic.

However,  it’s likely that websites with a developed content strategy that have carried out on-site SEO over the past 12 months will benefit from the algorithm update more-so than thinner websites.

SEO will likely change and focus more on the following:

  • Creating good quality, interesting and unique content, with the aim of appearing in more places and giving sites a chance of being ranked higher.
  • Less keyword stuffing, more use of conversational tone.
  • Telling Google more about your website by using, for example, Structured Data Mark-up.
  • Optimising for mobile searches, as these, and voice searches, are undoubtedly where the market is moving.

What Do Brands Need to Do?

As SEO becomes less about keyword data and more about customer engagement, websites need to provide users with quality, engaging, shareable and linkable content.

Sites that have focused on providing genuinely helpful and relevant content and have adopted a conversational approach will reap the benefits and certainly gain more visibility. Conversely, sites that offer poor quality, thin content and have tried to “cleverly” stuff keywords in strategic places, will most likely need to re-think their strategy or face losing a significant portion of visibility.

Hummingbird will require brand owners to take a more serious approach to the use of their websites. Over the past few years, there has been more emphasis on using social platforms, which is not incorrect; but should not be done to the detriment of brand websites. It shouldn’t be one or the other, as they’re two different tactics in the inbound marketing mix.

The lesson is obvious; be the best, provide the best answers by knowing and serving your customers and Google will reward you.



WeatherFIT is ‘shaping marketing’s future’


Econsultancy has named weatherFIT as one of the seven innovative new technologies that will revolutionise marketing.

The piece looks at a wide range of significant digital innovations and includes products from ITV and Ikea amongst others.

Of weatherFIT, Econsultancy’s Matt Owen writes: “We’ve covered FWM’s weatherFIT in the past, but it definitely bears a repeat look.

“It’s hardly surprising that what’s going on outside (especially in temperamental Britain) affects what users search for online… So being able to align online offers in real time based upon what is happening outside has obvious benefits.

“Essentially a weather-activated ad management tool for Google AdWords, the weatherFIT software allowed Lingerie and swimwear retailer Bravissimo to tailor its online promotions and advertisements to suit the browser, based on the individual web browser’s location and local weather conditions, with a huge impact on PPC revenue.”

weatherFIT was also featured on the recent Channel 4 documentary, The Human Swarm.

Find out how weatherFIT can help you boost your online sales by controlling the weather and do feel free to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.