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.

The importance of a marketing strategy, and how to build one…

Lightbulbs representing ideas

The importance of a clear and measurable marketing strategy for all businesses cannot be understated. But what is a ‘strategy’ exactly? And what’s the process behind creating one?

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

If you look closely behind any wonderful piece of creative, it’s likely that you’ll find an equally wonderful strategy. A good strategy is an amalgamation of intensive research, business understanding, and creative thinking, all combined to enable a brand to direct its resources towards the opportunities that will not only increase sales, but help them to achieve a sustainable advantage over the competition.

So a great strategy is a key part of any businesses marketing, but here at Chapter, how do we go about creating one, and how do we ensure it does our client justice?

1)      Getting to Know You

Sadly when it comes to creating an impactful strategy, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Your products, services, customers, and even budgets are unique, and that’s why before we get to work on creating one, it’s important that we truly understand what drives a business. What are your goals, opportunities and challenges? Knowing what you’re trying to achieve is essential in order for us to make recommendations for your business.

2)      Competitor and Market Research

The next step is to thoroughly understand the space that you’re operating. Who are the competitors and how are they performing? What are the trends in the market? Using various digital tools at our disposal we take a deep dive into your market to define, measure and quantify where the opportunities lie. We also get to grips with your customers and build user personas through social profiling, internal and external market research, and even customer surveys. This research helps us to identify their needs, desires, and truly understand how we can meet them.

3)      Scope and Define

Now we’re in a position to get in to the detail. Here we get to grips with what your business KPIs are, and we detail the strengths and limitations within your business to understand the challenges we need to overcome. This work is essential to guiding a bespoke strategy focused on profitability and growth, and is a key part of the process.

4)      Brand Positioning

So we understand where you want your brand to be. But does your positioning match your ambitions? Reviewing your branding and tone of voice helps us to detail your mission, value, purpose and vision. These elements help us to ensure that everything that we’re saying and doing from a marketing perspective is truly representative, and does justice for your brand.

5)      Marketing Strategy

The work to date is the foundation for which is our brand strategy is built. The strategy combines the market research with our agreed goals and KPIs, it reflects the brand positioning, look, feel and tone of voice at all times, and essentially organises the channels and activities that will be best suited to achieving these goals. But most importantly, it outlines just how we plan to achieve to a profitable sales growth for your business. After all, that’s what we’re here for, right?

6)      Marketing Budget and Plan

Then, it’s on to detailing the marketing budget and plan. This document is the blueprint that outlines your advertising and marketing efforts for the year ahead. It details your key business and calendar events, along with all marketing activities in a set time frame. This document also splits the agreed budget by month and activity, to ensure that our strategy and plan is both measurable and timely.

7)      Evaluation and Review

And we’re not finished there… equally as important as all of the above work is the evaluation phase. What learnings can we take from our activities to date? How can we tweak and further tailor them to provide even more impact?

If you are interested in devising a new marketing strategy for your business, then get in touch with us today.