10 Tips & Tools For Getting Found Online in 2020

So before we get going, I just wanted to flag a little warning that the things we’re going to cover in this post (so SEO and Digital Advertising), will only work if your product, service and website is up to scratch and engaging.

I’ve had many clients come to me in the past and ask for me to drive traffic to their websites, which is fine, but if those visitors don’t then go and engage with the business, contact them, or make a sale, then that’s pretty pointless, right?

So making your website clear first is really key.

And why’s that? Well because it takes just 0.05 seconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website and decide if they’re going to stay, or leave. Which really isn’t long to impress.

The fact that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience is another reason to get this spot on first.

OK so once you’ve got that right that, where should you focus your efforts? Well it really depends what you’re trying to achieve, and this graphic from SEM Rush explains it really nicely.

If you’re looking to get more people to your website quickly, then pay per click (PPC) advertising (that could be Google ads or Facebook ads for example) might be the way to go. But as you can see, as soon as you stop that activity, your website traffic will simply drop back down.

And this is why it’s important to always have a longer term plan for growing your audience and business. So here for example you can see that creating great social media content, or generating good PR for your business, are a good way of getting more visitors over the medium term.

But the long-term plan, which will lead nicely onto my first tip, is always great website content, that is well optimised from an SEO perspective. Now yes this is a long-term plan, and takes 6-12 months to really start seeing the benefit, but it’s essential for future proofing your business long-term and ensuring you have customers not just now, but in the future too.

OK onto the tips, and first up, one you’ll have no doubt heard many times, but as far as getting your website found these days? Content really is king. 

TIP 1. Create great content, but make it relatable.

And by that I mean it can be really surprising, but sometimes, even the most basic of topics or products can be hot news. None less than right now.

If you can create content that’s unique, fresh, and helpful for users, then Google will rank it higher on its search engine page results. Google pays special attention to your content quality. No matter how optimized your website is, if your content is not valuable, then you can’t expect higher rankings.

See here for example, these are a few terms I searched in Google Trends to see how many people were searching for them, and you can see the spikes in interest around these products these past weeks.

Now yes these topics might be dry topics to do a blog post on… but for small business owners for example, I could easily write an article including a couple of these. Say ‘5 top tips for small business owners during lockdown’:

  • Tip 1) Inform your staff about the process for applying for a mortgage holiday, and saving money
  • Tip 2) Customers can’t come to you, but why not work with a local taxi firm to organise home deliveries
  • Tip 3) Prepare for going back to the office; order essential supplies now whilst they’re available

OK so there are a few tenuous ones in there, but there’s a really current, relevant blog article that people might just stumble across through related searches right now.

Tip 2. Make sure your website is fast

Now Google has around 200 ranking factors for whether they are going to show your website for particular searches, and one of the key ones of those, is your page speeds.

Google wants your website to load quickly and provide a great user experience for your audience.

Google page speed insights is one great way of doing this; it’s quick, free, easy to understand, and will provide you a detailed report showing just how fast your website is loading across desktop and mobile devices, along with a ‘fix list’ for improving your score in the future.

Tip 3. Don’t obsess with desktop. Get your mobile optimisation on point.

Along with speed, another thing to look at is whether your site mobile friendly or not.

Ever since Google has gone mobile-first in 2019, its key that your website is mobile responsive. Mobile-first means that Google will now use your website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking.

Previously, Google would use your desktop as the primary version for indexing. But with 3.7 billion mobile internet users in the world, it’s no surprise that Google has made this shift.

So, if you want to boost your rankings, now is the best time to make your website mobile-friendly.

Tip 4. Structure, layout and purpose is more important than design.

Tip 4 is that structure, layout and purpose is more important than design. And I can use a good friends websites to show this nicely.

So this is the PE Shed, a website built on Wix (a platform notoriously tough from an SEO perspective) and one that proves perfectly that spending a fortune on a fancy website design isn’t everything. This website gets a lot of traffic simply because:

✓ PE teachers struggle for lesson ideas; it has a purpose.

✓ It splits resources by seasons, times of year and sport; it has a reason for people to look around.

✓ The ‘basic’ resources are free (the hook) but the better resources are paid for; it has a reason for people to buy.

✓ Teachers need to change their lessons every term; it has a reason for them to come back.

And here are some google searches for the key search queries the website wants to show for:

  • PE games
  • Physical education games
  • PE warm ups

And you can see here that he is showing in the top 1-3 positions for these terms. And because of this? He achieves over 10,000 website visitors per month. Which is really impressive.

Get your structure, layout, purpose and basic SEO right? And you could be onto a winner.

Tip 5. Google search console. The must have tool for every website.

Tip 5 is simply to make sure that your website has Google Search Console installed.

I’m amazed at the amount of client’s websites that have been set up by marketing agencies, yet DONT have google search console set up, and it’s really important. It’s a quick and easy way that informs you via email directly how to:

  • Fix any errors or bugs
  • See which other websites link to your website
  • Find out search queries users use to find your business
  • Submit a sitemap (and much, much more)

And this is just an example of what you see when you login to Google search console. 

Here I’ve shown a clients information, so how many times Google is showing their website in search engine results (which is called impressions), and the number of clicks to their website from those searches (total clicks).

And here it shows how those numbers have improved since we’ve been working on the SEO the past 6 months. With impressions doubling, and clicks around 40% up too.

You can learn so much using this tool, and it’s real validation to see the fruits of all of your SEO labour.

Tip 6. Backlinks are essential. No backlinks? No traffic.

Tip 6 is that backlinks to your website are really important. If you don’t have any, you’ll really struggle to get website visitors.

SO first up, what is a ‘backlink’ – A backlink is simply a link from one website to another. Search engines like Google use backlinks as a ranking signal because when one website links to another it proves to them the content is credible. And really, after content, it’s the second most important Google ranking factor.

In fact, content and backlinks go hand in hand, as web pages without any backlinks hardly get any organic traffic whatsoever…

Backlinks or inbound links are like a vote of confidence for your website. Google adds all those votes together and checks if your website deserves to rank in the top 10 results.

If you can get backlinks from high authority websites, you can boost your chances of higher rankings. That’s because by acquiring these links, you’re sending a signal to Google that your content is trustworthy as different websites can vouch for it.

But how do you do that?

Well firstly, START BY LINKING YOURSELF.

Don’t wait for other people to link to your website…

Adding links to 5-8 credible websites per article will really help. Linking to trusted websites shows Google your content is well-referenced / trustworthy too.

And secondly, why not have a go at spying on Your Competitors!

Ever wonder where your competitors get their backlinks from?

You can (quite ethically thankfully) spy on your competitors to find sources for backlinks, look at their organic keywords, top-performing content, social media activities, and more.

To look for backlinks, you can use tools like SEM Rush, which provide a backlink profile of any website address that you enter.

AHRefs also offers great features to see where your competitors are getting their traffic from too.

And the benefit of this is that if these websites are linking to your competitors, chances are they’ll be happy linking to yours too.

So simply sending them a nice personal email with a link to your latest blog post, could well end up in you gaining your first link to that page.

Tip 7. If you’re advertising, try remarketing.

Remarketing you can do through Google or Facebook ads, but why bother? Because on average only 2% of website visitors convert on their first trip to a given site, so you need a way to bring back that lost 98%.

So how does it work? Well you’re essentially putting adverts in front of people that are already interested in your business.

So when a person visits your website, they are then tracked by a cookie on your website. When the person then leaves your website, your adverts will then serve to those people, encouraging them to come back and complete their purchase, contact form etc.

You can even set the frequency / max no. of times people see your ad, before you stop showing it to them; so you don’t waste money on the same person over and over.

And because the people you’re targeting are already aware business, they’re much more likely to convert to a customer or sale.

Tip 8. Get the SEO basics right.

So just to cover the basics of SEO, and SEO is based around keywords. Keywords are essentially the words or terms users use to look up things on Google. 

So, it’s important that your website contains the keywords your audience is searching for. That way, Google can obviously bring up your website in its search results.

To ensure that your website is keyword optimized, you can use handy plugins to guide you along the way, so if your website is on WordPress for example, then make sure you’re using the Yoast plugin to help you get every page or blog post in a good place. It’ll help you to improve your:

  • Title Tags – by including your target keyword at the start of your posts
  • Meta Descriptions – essentially the short elevator pitch so users know what your page is about and click on it.
  • Image Alt Text – Since Google cannot read images, you can add your keywords in the alt text section to explain what the image is about.
  • Add Keywords in URL – Another keyword optimization practice is to include your keyword in the URL of your post.

So all these things are just as important as the content on the page itself. Otherwise? Google will simply struggle to read the page, and won’t show it in the search results pages.

And remember that up to 92% of search engine searches don’t go further than page 1 on Google… so ensuring your business can be found, and easily, is essential.

Tip 9. If you’re going to advertise. Now’s the time to try it.

Online ads at the moment are 30-40% cheaper than they were a few months ago (before Covid-19), mainly due to the fact there is less competition out there now! With less people advertising.

So whether you’re considering Google Ads, Facebook Ads or another platform? It’s a great time to try it.

Tip 10. Give Google Shopping & Facebook Shops a try.

And finally on the topic of advertising, if you have a product that you sell, then shopping ads are well worth looking into. 

Shopping ads are the ads you see at the top of the page with the products in a nice carousel.

They are generally cheaper than search ads (around ⅓ of the cost) but drive 76% of retail search ad spend now which is a huge amount.

And on mobile well you can see that shopping now takes up not most of, but the WHOLE page when you land on it. So naturally click through rates are increasing all the time, and shoppers aren’t even making it to the usual text ads anymore…

It’s also worth noting that Google express is growing, which is Google’s attempt to take back some product searches from Amazon. It’s basically google shopping but on a page where you can filter by product type, brand, size etc – and show you the best places to buy the product from based on that criteria.

And as of very recently, is Facebook’s announcement that they’re launching ‘Shops’

The initial stage of the Facebook Shops rollout has been brought forward and extended because of Covid-19 in an attempt for Facebook to help small businesses with their sales during this time.

The stores will appear on business pages, Instagram profiles and through targeted ads, and enables users to buy products directly through Facebook or Instagram, rather than having to leave the platform to complete the purchase.

And with 2 billion users to target? It’s definitely worth looking in to…

If you have any tools that make a real difference to your business, then let us know in the comments box below so that we can make sure we check it out. Or get in touch to have a chat about how we can help you with your digital marketing needs.

Why writing a business plan doesn’t have to be scary…

Office desk tidy flat lay

Now if you’re reading this post because you just LOVE the idea of writing a business plan for your business, then I applaud you… the reality however is that just the thought of it scares the ‘bejesus’ out of most of us. But, why?

The English Dictionary states that a business plan is “a detailed plan setting out the objectives of a business, the strategy and tactics planned to achieve them, and the expected profits, usually over a period of three to ten years”, OK, so that’s why…

In reality, a business plan needn’t be so scary. Is it the blueprint for your business? Yes. But does it have to be a 20, 30 or 100 page document that takes you two months to write and a further one to proof read, re-write and finally be in a position where you’re happy to share it? Absolutely not.

My advice is to start small, and write your plan on one piece, and one side of A4 paper. Yes, really! Using the below sections as a guide will help you to have the first draft of your business plan ready in no time.

Vision: where do you see your business in the next one, two or three year’s time? Maybe your vision is to be a best-selling author, or to have your very own product listed in a high street retailer? Whatever your ambitions and dreams for your business, state these here.

Market: arguably the most important part of any business plan is understanding who your customers will be, and who you are competing with to reach them. Do your research to be sure there is a place in the market for your product or service. If not, you will need to find your niche before moving to the next stage… how are you different? How can you be sure that your customers will choose you over the competition? Be sure that you are completely confident in your business idea before moving past this stage, as it could save you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run…

Objectives: now is the time to set some goals. Do your sums and determine what success looks like for your business. This could be anything from ‘selling 100 books in year one’ to ‘generating £1,000,000 in revenue by year three’! When setting your objectives always check back to your ‘vision’ and ‘market’ sections to ensure that you are being both realistic, but ambitious enough to achieve your goals.

Strategy & marketing plan: so your objectives are set, but how do you achieve them? To ‘sell 100 books in year one’ for example your strategy and plan might include:

  • Get book published and network with other authors to raise awareness
  • List book on an affordable online platform like Amazon
  • Raise awareness of book through social media, word of mouth and other free media
  • Ask for reviews from friends, family and customers
  • Attend local book clubs and events to sell directly

Be sure to list anything here that might help you to achieve your objectives. This will be a useful checklist in the future, and you’ll be surprised how often you refer back to it.

Action plan: if you’ve got this far, then there’s nothing holding you back. Write down a list of realistic dates for completing the above tasks with your objectives in mind, and keep referring back to your one page plan. Also, don’t be afraid to add to it over time! The truth is that as any business grows, so does its business plan; as you start to sell more, get more customers and your business develops, everything that you’ve written can be tweaked, added to and improved.

If you need help developing a plan for your business then do get in touch, we’d be more than happy to talk you through the process, or help to develop your plan for you (contact us here).

The free marketing tools that every business should know about…

Example of search engine results page

Working in digital marketing, you learn quickly that no two projects or clients’ needs are the same. You also learn that time is precious, and whether we’re tasked with creating a logo for someone, executing an email marketing campaign, or developing a detailed strategy and marketing plan, you find yourself coming back to the same handy, easy-to-use and free tools to help you along the way.

So make sure to add these websites to your bookmarks, as hopefully they will help to save your small business invaluable time (and money) too…

1) Look like a design pro with ‘Canva’

Let’s face it, we live in a visual world. Consumers these days expect companies to look professional, and brands to look beautiful. Luckily, both of these are easy to achieve with Canva. From simply resizing images to creating stunning flyers, social media graphics, website banners and more, Canva’s simple drag-and-drop builder means that it is intuitive and extremely easy-to-use. Plus it has tons of free fonts, illustrations, templates and images too, quite simply making both marketing, and graphic design tasks a breeze.

2) Stay on top of your market with ‘Google Trends’

Now we’ve all been there and had a light bulb moment for a product or service that is going to change the world. But in our excitement and haste it is imperative to check that that is in fact the case, and, well, people really do need it. That’s where Google Trends comes in, and it’s a real gem. Google Trends allows you to compare different search terms that real-life users have searched for over time. So you can type in your idea, and get a clear of idea of just how many people have searched for it, where these people live, and how that phrase or term has ‘trended’ over time.

So the next time you think you have a great idea for the ‘next big thing’, and you’re adamant that millions of people need it… give Google Trends a check first. It’s the quickest and cheapest “why has no-one thought of this yet?” research tool out there.

3) Make sure you’re not losing customers with ‘Google Page Speed Insights’

I don’t have shares in Google I promise, but this is another great tool that you need to check out. Most small businesses have a website these days (if you don’t, you’re really missing a trick…), but did you know that for every 1 second your website page takes to load (yes 1 second) you lose up to 7% of potential conversions from your website?

Now this is huge, and a mistake that as small businesses, we simply cannot afford to make. Google Page Speed Insights lets you check how quickly your own website pages are loading on both desktop and mobile devices, and not only that, it also gives you a bunch of handy tips for how to best optimise your pages too. So your website can spend less time loading, and more time selling.

4) Bring your email campaigns to life with ‘MailChimp’

Email marketing is imperative to the success of many small businesses. The impact of your loyal customer base cannot be underestimated, and email marketing is one great, free way to stay in touch with them.

E-mail provides an intimate interaction between you and your customers, and tools like MailChimp can do so whilst offering you everything you need to control and effectively nurture your leads. MailChimp is not only free, but it is also easy for newbies to learn with a drag and drop builder to create the perfect template(s) for your business needs.

Plus you can simply upload your existing customer database to send emails to directly, easily see who has opened and clicked links within your emails, and importantly you can send email campaigns out from your mobile, so you can still drive sales whilst sipping cocktails on your summer holidays…

5) Get invaluable customer research through ‘SurveyMonkey’ or ‘Google Surveys’

Have you ever thought about just how valuable your customers might be to you? Not just financially, but in that they know you and your products, and they’re not afraid to say what they do and don’t like what you can offer them!

Surveys are a great way to collect consumer information, engage customers, uncover trends and secure tangible insights on your business. One of the real benefits of SurveyMonkey is that it is incredibly simple, in just a few minutes, you can design, create and publish your own business survey. And the results are where you really win; learn what your customers like, what they don’t, and which product or service you just have to launch next.

Google Surveys is another great alternative, so take a look and see which works best for you and your business.

If you have any tools that make a real difference to your business, then let us know in the comments box below so that we can make sure we check it out. Or get in touch to have a chat about how we can help you with your digital marketing needs.

3 Facebook ad types you need to try…

male browsing on a mobile phone

So before we get started, why should you advertise your business on Facebook? Well quite simply:

  • Facebook has more than 2 billion daily active users; an audience size that most businesses simply cannot afford to miss out on.
  • People spend an average of 35 minutes on Facebook every day; yes, EVERY day. So as the saying goes, ‘fish where the fish are’.
  • 93% of Marketers use Facebook advertising regularly; and let’s just say that there’s clearly a reason for that…

But with so many businesses doing it, and the fight for space in your customers’ news feeds as fierce as ever, what ad types should you be using? And how can these benefit your business? Well to help you see the wood through the tress, here are our 3 top Facebook ad types right now:

1) Lead Generation Ads

In 2020, actually speaking to your customers is harder than ever. But what if you could get them to voluntarily share their name, email address, phone number and other key contact information with your business? This would be a great opportunity to build more of a relationship with them, right? Well facebook lead generation adverts give you the chance to do just that. Simply create a compelling advert that they will want to find out more about, and in return they will give you their personal contact details. Winner winner…

2) Messages Ads

Another great option if you’re looking to speak to your customers directly, is to try Facebook’s ‘Messages Ads’. These adverts send the user straight to your messenger inbox to start a conversation with you. And if that’s not enough, you can also make their lives even easier by curating a set of replies that they might want to use in response to your advert, so they don’t even have to type anything. Talk about convenience… 

3) Video, Video, Video

Now this isn’t an ad type per say, but whatever advert you do decide to use to reach your audience on Facebook, please consider using video as the content for it. Now we’re not asking every small business out there to create amazing, cinematic content for their ads, or become an expert with fancy ‘movie making’ software. This can be as simple as using some of your existing images, along with Facebook’s easy to use video creator to make simple yet effective videos that will help you generate a better click through rate on your adverts.

If you have any questions at all regarding advertising your business on Facebook, then get in touch with us today.

3 SEO tips for getting your website seen on Google…

website user paying e-commerce website

If you’re a bit new to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and are wondering why getting your website to the top of the Google results pages matters, then the fact that websites that show on page 1 get over 95% of all clicks, will hopefully hit it’s importance home. That means that less than 5% of users are prepared to scroll past page 1 when making a search. Less than 5%!

Now as with most things there is of course a ‘quick win’, which is to put a bit of money behind Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) so that your website shows above all others (this is not guaranteed by the way, but that’s for another day). But what happens when you turn that advertising campaign off? I’d take a good guess that the visitors stop coming…

So if you are looking for a long term fix, just how do you get your website to the pinnacle, the elusive ‘page 1’ of the search engine? Well you will be pleased to read that there are lots (lots!) of simple things that as a business owner you can do to help your website climb the rankings.

That being said, I appreciate that you are busy people, and don’t have all day to read our top 100 SEO tips! So here are 3 top tips that if you ensure to action, will help you to get much closer to the top of the pile.

1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

In today’s world, it’s estimated that over 51% of website traffic comes through mobile devices. This is huge! And it also makes it clear why Google ranks this so highly. But how do you know if your site is optimised for mobile devices? Visit Google’s free pagespeed insights tool here, pop in your website address, and you’ll see out of a score of 100, just how well your site is set up for mobile.

If your website achieves over 90/100 then you don’t need to worry, but if your site doesn’t perform so well, you will see at the bottom of the page that Google provides you with some helpful ‘optimisation suggestions’. Feel free to have a go at actioning these yourself, but if you get stuck, then don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask for some help.

2. Answer people’s questions!

Did you know that the terms that we search for are ever changing? For example in the past two years there has been over 80% growth in mobile searches for “should I” (“Should I quit my job?”, “When should I sell my house?”). This because we are always looking for answers and solutions to our perceived problems. So make sure that your website is answering these questions, and Google will look at yours much more favourably… but how do you do this?

Well each month you could add a couple of new frequently asked questions to your website, and answer these questions head on. Or how about writing a monthly blog post to answer one on the questions that you get asked by your customers most regularly? These are really simple ways of helping your website gain credibility with Google, and most importantly bump you up the search engine results pages.

3. Please, please, please use Google Search Console…

Now we don’t like to diss other agencies, but if your website doesn’t have Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up, then you seriously have to question why.

Having a website is great but if it’s not showing up in search results, and people aren’t visiting it, then you have to question why you bother having one at all? The simple fact is that if you have a website and intend on it generating business for you, then you must understand how to get more people visiting it.

Google Search Console is one way to do just that. Take a look at the image below, this shows the search queries that users have made in order to reach this particular website, and there are so many learnings we could take from it. Just a couple of these being:

  • The websites ‘average position’ (this being out of all google searches, the average position the website has shown up in search engine results pages) is 53.2. And given that Google shows 10 results per page, this means that on average, this website appears on page FIVE in the Google search results. So to get this website into the top 10 results (and show on page one) there’s some work to be done.
  • The click through rates (or CTR; this being the % of people that clicked this website when it showed for the relevant search query shown in the first column) for terms including ‘tips’ are much higher than those without it. This tells them that people are looking for tips, so their content should reflect this, and adding more hints and tips to their website could really help to increase their number of visitors, and in hand improve their positioning.

Now as we said earlier, there are many, many more things you can do to improve your websites performance. We haven’t even touched on the basics of your websites setup, title tags and page descriptions, keyword research, or getting the most out of Google Analytics, but what we have done with these SEO tips is scratch the surface of a topic that, if you start making steps today, you will see a real benefit of in the future.

If you’d like to learn further how to improve your websites search engine results, then please do get in touch with us today.