Category Archives: SEO

 

If you’ve been planning a re-design of your website, or if you are just starting out and are designing your very first business website, you’ll have a lot to think about. You want effective branding, strong key messaging, dynamic content and a website that lets you stands out from the crowd. You’ll probably be thinking about all the great features that you can include for your customers and prospects – but don’t forget that you also really need to focus on how you can optimise your website for the search engines.

Why is SEO so important for your website?

SEO is all about getting your website found online. You could have the most amazing website in the world but if it doesn’t rank well in the search engines it will be hard to find. This means that you could well miss out on attracting the potential clients that you need to help your business succeed and grow. Whilst SEO can be a complex process, there are certain tasks that you need to make sure are taken into account by your website designer when you begin your site build. There is also some preparation that you can do beforehand to ensure that your site is fully optimised with all the things that Google wants to see.

To help you make sure that all of your SEO requirements are covered, we’ve created a handy checklist which looks at the key SEO tasks you need to prioritise when creating or redesigning your website.

1. Ensure you have sufficient space for your content

Google wants to see valuable content on the homepage so make sure that you have sufficient space to get the content that you need in. We recommend that you should use 250 words as a minimum, but ideally leave space for more than this in case you need to add additional wording. Content really is key for SEO success, so make sure that all your other category pages have enough space too.  Before you start, think about what sort of content you will want to have on there and what your customers will want to be able to learn about your business and your services. You might also want to be able to create landing pages which won’t appear in the main navigation of the site. These can be vital for specific advertising campaigns or for when you want to focus on a particular keyword – so make sure that you have this ability built into your site.

2. Do your keyword research

Keywords are a powerful tool for optimising your website and will ensure that the customers who are looking for your product or service will be shown your website by the search engines. They are often what a search engine looks for to determine whether your site is the right fit for a customer’s search terms. Ideally keyword research should be done before you start developing your website, as it can be useful as a marketing tool too. It helps you identify the types of products or services your target demographic are interested in and the content that they are searching for.

3. Make your URLs SEO friendly

A URL is the address that takes you to a particular web page on the internet. URLs are important to the search engines because they can contain keywords that let Google learn more about what that specific page is about.  For example one of our URLs is http://wagada.co.uk/content-marketing/ so it is clear that this page contains information about our content marketing services. Being able to add the correct keywords into URLs is quite powerful, so when designing your site make sure that it allows you to choose the URL rather than automatically taking the URL from the page title. Another key tip for URLs is to use a dash not an underscore for splitting words. If you are able to do this it will benefit your site. Ideally you want your URLs to be as specific as possible so ensure that all blog articles and all products/services have their own unique URL too.

4. Ensure your site has fast loading pages

A key concern of the search engines is that your website should be useable and user friendly and a large element of this is how quickly it loads. A slow site can cause impatient customers to click away from your site and can be frustrating and off-putting. This can also increase your bounce-rate which can impact negatively on your search engine ranking.  Often slow-loading graphics can be an issue so we recommend using CSS where feasible.

5. Remember that images are important for SEO too

Did you know that images can help your SEO too? People often forget about the images on their website but it’s important to optimise them as well as your text. You should have the facility to add an ALT tag for every image – this will allow the search engines to understand what your images are and you can include your keywords in these descriptions.  Be careful because some content management systems remove the image folder in the robots file which means that search engines don’t index or search the image. Therefore it’s a good idea to remove this feature in order that you can still get found in image searches.

6. Get your tags right

Tags mean that Google ‘bots’ can more easily find out what your pages are about. Try to get an H1 tag on every page which should be editable. This should be the main title of the page where keywords can be added in.  You will also want to make all title tags and meta descriptions fully customisable so that they can be changed and keywords added where and when needed. The titles which appear in the navigation should be independent from the title tag and the main title on the page – this is because if necessary you can have a different title tag to H1 to navigation title if needed.

7. Create a proper 404 page

You’ll probably have been diverted to a 404 page at some point when you have searched online. These are error webpages that are shown to a user when the page they are trying to find doesn’t exist anymore. Companies often use a humorous message and take the opportunity to divert the user back to a page that may be of help to them. It’s important not to just direct users back to the homepage as this can be confusing and frustrating for them as they don’t understand that there has been an error.

8. Don’t change your domain

This is an important one! If you are re-designing your website do not change the domain or move from www to non www. You should also ensure that the non-www version of the site is forwarded to the www. Version, removing any /index.php version.

9. Install Google Analytics

When you have your fantastic new website up and running you’ll need to be able to get stats on how many hits you are getting, which pages people are viewing and what locations they are coming from. That’s why it’s important to install Google Analytics as this programme will be able to tell you these details. This will help you to understand how successful your website is and inform any changes or updates that you may want to make.

As you can see there’s lots of work behind the scenes to be done when creating a website. The front-end design is only half the story and the SEO behind it will be vital in helping your business get found online. At Wagada HQ we always like to tell our customers that ‘we speak human’ and although website creation can get quite technical, we’re always on hand to translate and explain your SEO requirements and to liaise with your designers to help you get the website that works for you!

 

They say that the best things come to those who wait – and this is certainly the case when you are attempting to help your website move up to a prime position in the search engine rankings. SEO is an ever-changing industry, but one thing we know for certain is that it’s not always a quick or easy task to get your website the ranking it deserves.  The fact is, there are only 10 slots on page one of Google, and this means that there’s a lot of competition out there for the top spot! We understand that sometimes it can be frustrating developing and executing a winning SEO strategy, as you want results and you want them now.  However, as we explain in this article, with SEO and digital marketing, it is often proven that slow and steady really does end up winning the race!

At Wagada we like to say that we speak human. We don’t bamboozle you with technical talk or confuse you with SEO speak. Instead we like to explain clearly how optimising your website really works. We’ve taken a look at the reasons why SEO isn’t always easy, in order to help you understand exactly why it’s worth taking the time and effort to get your website to the top.

We provide high quality link-building opportunities

Link-building can have a powerful effect on improving your ranking in the search engines. If you are a relatively new business, then you will benefit from getting links pointing to your site from more established sites with higher domain authority. Google will note that these sites with high authority trust your website and this will transfer some of their value to your pages (this is often known in SEO circles as ‘link juice’). Whilst many SEO agencies will tell you they can quickly get lots of links to your site, these are often from low quality, disreputable sites that may end up doing more damage than good to your site in the long run. This type of ‘black hat SEO’ really should be avoided.

But getting high quality links isn’t a quick or simple process. Obviously, popular blogs and websites are in high demand and get frequent link requests. We find that the best way to get links is to work on establishing a strong long-term relationship with key influencers. This could be done by following them on Facebook, engaging with them during Twitter Hours and sharing their blogs and articles on social media. We also want to show them that we can offer them great content to link to, that is relevant to their audience. Of course all this takes time, but at Wagada we always find that patience pays off and by doing this, we can achieve really great links for our clients that have a positive outcome on their rankings.

We take the time to comprehensively review your website

Google will rank your website based on a number of factors. At the moment usability, content and relevance are seen as forming the backbone of a successful site that has the potential to rank really well in the search engines. Therefore one of the first things we will do is undertake an in-depth review of your website to ensure that we fully understand what is working well and what changes you need to make.

We want to make sure that your site is user friendly for your customers, that the pathway is well signposted to your consumer, and that the content you have is useful and relevant to them. Although this may be time-consuming, it’s time well spent! Think of it as being like a gardener spending time getting the soil just right before planting the seeds. We’ll make sure your website is in tip top condition and will give Google exactly what it wants to see.

We understand the value of organic SEO

We understand that in the long term, organic SEO can reap great rewards for your website. SEO involves helping your website to attain a high ranking without using paid search. This can be achieved by superior content, high authority links, a usable and user-friendly website and engaging social media. Of course all of this will take time to build up, but in the long term it means that your business won’t be reliant on short term paid for campaigns. Therefore, it will save you money as well as helping you to see your website move up the page rankings.

We build long term online influencer relationships

As social media continues to grow in influence and popularity, we are seeing how it can impact on your website’s search engine rankings. However, great social media involves a lot more work than simply setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Engaging with your followers and potential customers is also key to building rapport and getting your voice heard. Social media is also an effective way of encouraging industry influencers to like and share your website content. When it’s done well, this means an increase in visits to your site and a boost to your online followers which will all give Google a great impression of your business. But social media is a pretty crowded market place. So getting your pages noticed and building relationships with others will take time and won’t happen overnight. We know that gaining the trust of customers and getting bloggers and online influencers to help promote your product or service is a really valuable SEO tool, and one that we think is well worth the work and the wait involved.

We know that good SEO is like baking a cake!

We have some pretty fabulous bakers in our team (you might have seen some of our fantastic cupcakes on our social media!) and that’s why we love the analogy of SEO being similar to baking a cake. You can use all the right ingredients but you won’t know what it tastes like until it comes out of the oven. You’ll also be constantly testing and refining your recipe to get the perfect combination. And that’s exactly what we do with your website. We’re always reviewing and testing it. We’ll trial strategies to see what works best and check that the results.

We’re confident that with time and effort we can get the SEO results that our clients want.  It’s important to understand that there is no one magic bullet that will see you rise to the top of the rankings – and beware of any SEO agencies that tell you there is. Getting your website to a good position in the rankings takes a range of dedicated strategies that value long term gains over quick wins, and who better to help you achieve this than the expert team at Wagada HQ.

 

If you run a small business, one thing that you know for certain is that you will always need to keep a close eye on what your competitors are up to. As an SME, you are likely to face competition from other SMEs as well as the bigger brands in your industry. Of course, when you are selling in the digital marketplace, you might also find that your business rivals are not just in your local area but are on a global scale too. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. It helps to keep you on your toes and can encourage you to keep growing and developing as a business. Therefore it makes sense to know what your competitors are doing when it comes to their digital marketing and SEO and to capitalise on these learnings to support your own marketing proposition.

What is a competitor analysis?

A competitor analysis takes a detailed look at what your rivals are doing with the aim of using these key learnings to inform your business decisions and your understanding of the marketplace. It’s essential to look not only at what your competitors are doing well but also at what they are not doing or doing badly. In digital marketing, your competitor analysis should incorporate key elements such as their general website usability, traffic, their social media content and engagement.  However you should also focus on a more in-depth analysis such as the specific keywords and phrases that they are targeting. Other things to look out for could be the events they’re attending, the content they’re producing, any PR activity, any paid online advertising campaigns they have invested in. in terms of identifying whether a competitor has invested time and resources into SEO, we would advise you to look at the title tags as a starting point. That is usually quite revealing as to whether SEO has been done and what keywords that are targeting. We would then advise you to look at what pages are indexed. Also take a look at what backlinks the client has – so use Link Research tools to see what their link profile looks like. These will all reveal great insights into your competitors’ marketing and SEO activity, or lack of!

Why should your business do a competitor analysis?

There are only a finite number of customers wanting to buy your product or service, and you want to be the ‘go-to’ brand. Therefore it’s vital to know what your competitors are up to and how successful they are online. Running a competitor analysis allows you to get ahead of the game and also to understand where your business needs to make improvements. Digital marketing is fast-paced and competitors will regularly be reviewing their online processes and activities, so it’s a good idea to schedule in competitor reviews across the year. This will ensure that you are always up to date with the market landscape and can execute effective and impactful marketing plans and campaigns.

Key areas of competitor analysis

Whilst it’s a good idea to have some clear objectives in mind when you begin your competitor analysis, you should also be open-minded as to what you might find! It makes sense to do your analysis under some key headlines of areas that are of importance to your digital marketing. We’ve listed these below, along with some of the online tools that you can use to help your research.

Like for Like Comparisons

One of the clearest ways to see how you compare to rival businesses is to make a direct comparison between the various strands of their online marketing strategy and your own. A great tool to help you with this is SimilarWeb. Their handy analysis lets you compare multiple areas of your business strategy against those of your competitors. What’s more, there is a free version of the tool which allows small businesses to begin their analysis without any heavy financial investment. Here are some of the comparisons that will help you to get the most out of a competitor analysis:

Website traffic

You can take a look at volumes of traffic to your competitor’s websites and where the traffic has come from. You can also see if it has gone up, down or remained the same during the last 6 months.

Traffic sources and referring sites

Of course, once you know how much traffic a competitor is getting, you want to know where it comes from. Are your competitors getting traffic from a paid affiliate scheme or perhaps from a well thought out social media campaign? If a competitor has high traffic coming from a channel that you are struggling with, take a closer look at what they are doing to achieve this.

Paid and organic keywords

You can get separate reports for each of these and it’s a great way to get new keyword inspiration, and also to get an idea of which keywords are working so well for your competitors that they are happy to pay for them.

Social media

Social media is becoming increasingly important for both the search engines and as a way for businesses to market themselves. Take a look at which social networks are driving the most traffic to your competitors.  It’s then a good idea to follow and like your competitors online so that you can regularly review what they are posting and sharing and who is engaging with them. If you use tools such as Moz, you could use FollowerWonk to analyse your competitors’ social media authority too.

Competitor link building

Links from good quality sites can form a valuable part of your SEO strategy. Getting a backlink from a high authority site can confer a higher authority on to your own website. It can be very useful to see where competitors are getting links from and to do this, you can simply use an advanced search option in Google search. To do this you need to type “link:” and then the domain name of the competitor you are researching. It can be extremely interesting to see the types of sites that your competitors are getting links from and can help you to plan your link building strategy going forward.

Keywords

As a small business, it can often be hard to find the right keywords for your business and of course popular keyword phrases can change and evolve over time. A useful tool for providing an in-depth understanding of your competitor’s keywords, including their organic keywords, is SEMrush. Although you do have to pay for this tool to get a more detailed overview, there are still some free reporting options. It’s helpful for you to understand which organic keywords are driving traffic to your competitors and you can then consider how you can make the most of these keywords on your website.

Keeping up to date

It’s important to keep up to date with any changes that your competitors are making to their digital marketing and you can use Google Alerts to help you with this. As well as setting them up for your own brand and keywords, you can also set them up for your main competitors to help you understand where they are getting links and mentions from online.

As you can see there is a wealth of online information out there to help you understand how your competitors are running their digital marketing. This information can be a vital way to make sure that your business can benefit from their online strategies – helping you to capitalise on your strengths and make the most of their weaker areas. Utilise the tools available to ensure that you have a detailed knowledge of how your business compares to that of your rivals. Analysis of their links, social media, traffic and their paid-for ads and organic keywords will enable you to keep one step ahead of your competition and to increase traffic and sales for your company.

 

As a business, you’re probably already aware of the importance of optimising your website for the search engines. Allowing search engines such as Google to find your site and to understand how you can help their users is a key factor in increasing your numbers of online customers. However, it’s really important not to let your SEO strategy become stale. The digital marketing landscape is one that is ever-changing, so even if your current strategy is working well for you, it’s essential not to rest on your laurels. So why not take the time to look at the changes the last year has brought and create a robust strategy for 2017.

Putting an SEO strategy in place for the coming year means that you can stay on top of your website and will be able to plan comprehensively for what you want to achieve. You can also be confident that your SEO will fit in with your wider business goals. We’ve put together a handy guide covering a range of points that you need to consider when you are planning your stellar SEO strategy for 2017!

  1. Understand Your Business Goals

Before you start working on your SEO strategy, you need to plan and understand what your goals are for your business overall.  When you know where your business is heading then you can start to map this onto your SEO targets. It could be that you want to reduce advertising budgets, in which case you may want to look at how content SEO could drive more organic search – rather than paid for search or online advertising. You might also want to reach out to social influencers to get your site seen and talked about on social media without having to pay for advertising.

Alternatively, you might wish to encourage customer loyalty, by getting customers to visit your website on a more regular basis in 2017 or connecting and engaging with them across social media. You might want these customers to stay on your site for longer when they do visit. In this case you could use your SEO strategy to look at creating more engaging content, setting up a regular blog section on your website or posting ‘how to’ video guides.

It’s important to ensure that your SEO works for your business in its entirety and can support and underpin your company goals for the next year.

Of course once you have your goals in place, you then need to assign ownership and project management to ensure that they are implemented correctly and within the timescales required.

  1. Review The SEO Landscape

Google is always striving to improve the way it understands its’ customers and to learn how to give its users what they want as efficiently as possible. That means that the strategy which saw your ranking increase last year might not be the same one that will boost your rankings this year. Technology also changes rapidly and as it progresses, people may start to search in a different way. Here are some of the key changes that we think will have an impact on SEO strategies this year:

  • An increase in voice search

We already saw how Google reacted to the increase in people searching for products via their mobiles. They released an update which meant that websites needed to become smartphone-friendly in order to achieve good rankings. We’re now seeing an increase in the popularity of voice search and whilst this is not yet massive, it’s definitely something to think about and prepare for.

  • Google instant answers

Google now aims to answer many user queries itself which can draw traffic away from your website. Think about how this might affect your keywords and look at how you can turn this into an opportunity.

  • Simple keywords becoming less important

Keywords on their own are becoming less important and the trend is turning towards long-tail keyword phrases and user intent. Businesses now need to understand that even small variations in keywords can change what the user intends to search for, and you need to learn how this affects your keywords and therefore your strategy.

  • User experience and the customer journey

Speed and efficiency of websites have always been important to the search engines, but Google also views pop ups and overlays negatively. Sites that provide a much better user experience tend to do better in the rankings. There’s also an increasing trend for multi visit buyer journeys. This means that you can’t just consider a single pathway from click through to purchase, but instead you need to consider how you can optimise your site for these multiple visits.

  1. Understand Your Keywords And Review Your Content

Make sure that you understand what your keywords and your long-tail keyword phrases are and plan your content to ensure that these keywords keep delivering for your business. Review these on a regular basis to look at how you are ranking for them and build a rolling plan to make sure that they fit in with your content.

When you are planning and reviewing your content you also need to be aware that Google is now very keen on the idea of comprehensiveness. This means that your content needs to be genuinely useful to your customers. Longer, more in-depth content can add real value for search engine users, and by combining long-tail keyword phrases within high value comprehensive content, you will be giving the search engines what they really want to see!

  1. Keep On Track With Your Strategy And Review And Measure Your Successes

Of course a stellar SEO strategy needs to be flexible and you should make sure that you review the outputs of your strategy on a regular basis. If your business develops or changes, you may need to make changes to your strategy, and of course there’s always the possibility of a Google update that could throw a spanner in the works! You’ll also want to make sure that your SEO is delivering what you want it to, when you need it too. Schedule regular strategy reviews throughout the year and stay on top of the latest SEO news and data. This will ensure that changes can be planned for as much as possible and won’t come as a shock!

So, make sure that your SEO underpins all of your business goals and will help you achieve them. Stay responsive to the changes that occur in technology and the search engines, and of course make sure that you monitor and refine your strategy regularly. This will help you to implement a high-flying SEO strategy that will get you seen and talked about online – and bring more customers to your site.

Working in the search engine optimisation industry we know that great content can really add value to your website. Therefore it was really interesting to read that a recent SearchMetric report has shown that natural, relevant and high-quality content is a must have if you want to help improve your website’s ranking in the search engines. The key focus here is on high-quality content, which must be one of your main priorities if you really want to make an impact on how the search engines perceive your site.

What the search engines are looking for at the moment is not only lots of content, but also content that is truly relevant to your customer’s wants and needs. They want to see you offering something of real value to your readers. SEO experts have noted four main criteria that you should include in order for your content to meet all of the requirements of the search engines. So if you can keep these in mind when planning and writing your website, then you’ll know that you are providing the quality content that Google wants to see – and that your potential customers want to read!

In this blog we’re going to take a look at these five factors and talk a bit more about how you can use them to improve your website content.

  1. Make sure your content is covered in a rounded and comprehensive way

When you write your content, you need to make sure that you think holistically about the general topic as a whole – rather than simply focusing on just one keyword. It means that as well as writing about the key topic, you also need to look at related issues and sub-topics and include those as well. As the Google algorithms get more sophisticated, they are now able to work out words that relate to each other and are likely to be relevant to each other. This is known as co-occurrence analysis. So, if you were writing a blog about bridal hair styling, it would recognise that hairdryer and hair salon were complementary phrases. However, if you included the word restaurant in the same blog, the search engines would pick up that it was not relevant to that topic.

It’s all about context and so before you write your content, consider which subjects complement each other, and think about the other sub-topics that your readers may want to find out about, which could be a good fit within that article.

 

  1. Ensure that your content is the right length

It’s very tempting to think that because people are often time-poor these days, that this means that content which is short and snappy would be more popular. Statistics show that this is not the case, and in fact, sites which have longer content are more likely to rank higher in the search engines. It’s also really interesting to note that content which had between 3000-10000 words actually received more social shares too. The reason for this could be that the longer an article is, the more value it actually adds to your readers, as you can include far more in-depth information and a greater and more helpful level of detail.

 

  1. Include engaging images and videos

Research has shown that including engaging images or interactive videos in your content can really help your search engine rankings. Google can tell when you have enriched your text with images and it definitely correlates to a higher ranking for sites that take the time to do this. It has also been found that posts which included videos or pictures gained twice as many social shares as those without. When you add images to your text, make sure that they are optimised as well to make them easier for Google to find.

  1. Make sure your text is readable

We all know that consumers want websites which are easy-to-use, and a user-friendly website is valued highly by Google too. Part of making a site usable is ensuring that any text or content is easily readable. When high-ranking websites were reviewed, it was found that they all had content that was easy to read. When you have written your content you can review it using one of these readability tests. It’s also worthwhile re-reading any old content on your site to make sure it meets the readability requirements that the search engines require.

  1. Encourage social sharing

Although Google says that they don’t currently use social signals as part of their rankings, it has been noted that many articles which do have a high Google ranking also have a large number of social shares on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. We feel that encouraging customers to share your articles on social media still has an influence over your site optimisation as it means that more people visit your site, and it will help you to build and increase your brand profile.

As you can see the quality of the content on your website can have a huge impact on where your business sits in the search engine rankings, and there is a lot that you can do to review and improve your content to support your online proposition.

Firstly, think about your content holistically and consider the sub-topics that might add relevance or bring real value to your readers.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to make your content longer and in-depth.

Thirdly, add images or video clips that will bring your articles to life for your customers.

Fourthly, when you have finished writing your content, check it over for readability to make sure that it will be easy for people to read.

Finally, encourage online influencers to share your content on social media to get more clicks to your site and improve your brand profile.

By focusing on what your customers want to see on your site, you’ll also be giving the search engines what they want to see and helping your business to rank higher in the search engines.

When it comes to optimising a site, it’s easy to focus on earning more traffic and gaining ranking success. For any business, it’s clearly beneficial to have more visitors to your site. However, visitors don’t necessarily equate to sales or profit. For SMEs especially, it can be much better to focus resources on conversion rate optimisation to really utilise the traffic and visitors that a site is already getting, rather than trying to attract more. Despite a shift in focus sometimes being required between CRO and SEO, this doesn’t mean the two are independent of each other. Indeed, conversation rate optimisation is an important factor in SEO success. To understand the relationship between the two, it’s important to understand exactly what conversion rate optimisation is and how it can impact your website.

So, what is CRO?

Simply put, conversion rate optimisation is a means of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers or, more generally, take a desired action on a webpage.

If the desired action is, for example, to sign up for a newsletter, then CRO for the page would have the ultimate goal of increasing the number of visitors who click to sign up. On the surface, it may seem that to achieve better sign up numbers, work would simply need to be done on the call to action button, with some A/B testing to determine where improvements can be made. Whilst this would answer the question of ‘which is the best call to action’, comprehensive conversion rate optimisation delves much deeper than just examining the final engagement that triggers the conversion. Instead, the process looks at every step of the visitor journey and the factors that persuade them to take the plunge:

  • CRO assesses whether the design of the site is user friendly and intuitive
  • CRO examines whether the copy is engaging enough to lead the user towards a conversion.
  • CRO analyses the hierarchy to determine if it is easy to use.

User Signals

Looking at these factors is at the heart of CRO and helps to identify exactly where users are straying from their intended conversion journey. When users deviate from an onsite conversion journey, these are commonly known as user signals. It is these signals that bring CRO back to work alongside SEO. The most common user signals include:

  • Bounce rate
  • Click through rate
  • Time on page
  • Number of pages visited
  • Engagement with content

How does this affect SEO?

These user signals are not only a sign that your page isn’t creating the correct journey to a conversion, but also an illustration that the overall quality of the page might not be good enough. Google assesses factors such as click through rates and time spent on a page when determining where a page can be ranked. For example, if your page has a high bounce rate this may illustrate to Google that your content isn’t engaging or relevant enough. If the time spent on a page proves to be very short, it may seem like the content doesn’t contain the answers the user was looking for. With user intent becoming increasingly important in SEO, signs like this can negatively impact Google rankings.

The good news is that conversion rate optimisation and search engine optimisation can work extremely well together. Great SEO copy is well-written, engaging and unique and those are the exact qualities that conversion-driving copy also possess. A visually engaging site that is easy-to-use will have far more success in leading a user to convert, as well as encouraging them to spend more time on the page itself. It’s vital to consider on-site optimisation of any kind not as entirely separate processes, but as several factors of the same strategy which can affect and inform each other.

If you’re looking to convert more of your web visitors or want to understand more about the user journey on your website, Wagada are here to help. Get in touch and let Wagada wake up your website.

One mistake that many people make is believing that the Search Engine Optimisation for their webpage is static. So, they build a fantastic website with great usability and then optimise it for the search engines and that’s that – but this isn’t where it ends!  The world of SEO is constantly evolving as is the online world in general. So business owners need to be aware that what Google was looking for in a website last year is likely to be quite different now.

To make sure that your SEO is as up to date and efficient as possible, you need to give your website a clean-up on a regular basis to ensure that your SEO is still effective. Periodically reviewing your website can prevent any errors or duplications leading to a Google penalty and a fall in the rankings. When you are going through your website here are the 4 key areas you need to review:

  1. Get rid of any low-quality pages

You may have a number of pages on your site that were set up in the past for specific reasons such as an AdWords campaign or a new product launch. However, if these pages now have low engagement, thin content or offer no value to customers, they could be damaging your whole website.  Google Panda means that Google views your domain as a whole not on a page-by-page basis, so if you have too many of these low-quality pages, it can cause Google to downgrade the ranking for your whole site.

  1. Remove duplicate content

Websites can often become unwieldly and you could end up with duplicate content being featured on a number of pages. Google really dislikes duplicate content and it can also make your site repetitive, with some pages adding very little additional value to customers. Luckily you don’t have to trawl through every word on your website to help you identify duplicate content, as there are a number of online tools that you can use. You can set the parameters of these yourself, so for example, you could ask them to find pages that have 80% duplicate content.  Once you have identified pages, you can decide if you simply want to remove them or if you want to do some work on the content to make it more relevant and unique.

  1. Review your links to and from your site

Getting links from high-quality websites can be great for your website and can bring over some fantastic “link juice” to help your domain authority. However, if the links come from a low quality or spammy site, it can cause Google to view your site as spammy too. There are two ways you can remove unproductive links. One is to contact the webmaster of the sites that are linking to you and ask them to remove these links. This can be difficult though, so if you are unable to get them removed you will need to submit a disavow report to Google Webmaster to show that you have no connection with these links.

  1. Review your site to make sure that it meets Google’s current requirements

Finally, it can be a good idea to do a regular audit of your site to make sure that it meets the requirements of any new updates that Google has put in place since your last review. For example, this year Google announced that pages that were not user-friendly for mobile users would move down in the mobile search rankings, so you would need to make sure that your website worked for mobile users.

Keeping your website up to date and giving it regular “spring cleans” is a vital part of a good SEO strategy. Make sure that you are always aware of the latest Google updates and how they affect your site. You should also make sure that the online influencers that you are connected with and websites that link to you still have a good domain authority, in order to make sure that they are not negatively impacting your site.

Due to the way that Google alters how it works behind the scenes, SEO practices must constantly change and evolve to keep up. Unlike most technological updates and innovations from other companies, Google doesn’t publicly announce the work that has been done or the way in which these changes will affect its ranking and results pages. Whilst there was no official confirmation, on September 1st 2016 SEO experts experienced a big change in the way local search works following a Google algorithm update. The change was so significant that up to 64% of local search engine result pages were altered following the update.

Within the local search community the algorithm change has been named Possum. In nature, a possum is infamously known to play dead only to be still alive and well and playing possum has become a popular term for when someone is laying low. The changes made by Google in the Possum update have caused many business owners’ Google Business pages to do the very same and no longer show in search results, which has caused  a bit of confusion and panic. The pages themselves, however, have not actually disappeared and have still been effected by the new filtering changes.

What are the key changes?

The most noticeable impact for business owners is the way in which Google now filters local search results. In an attempt to only show the most relevant results, Google will now filter out profiles that are affiliates rather than a main profile. For example, searching for a dentist would previously have returned the main dentist pages as well as potentially the profiles of each dentist practicing at the surgery. The results are now likely to be filtered out to ensure that the results returned are more diverse and, in theory, useful in answering the search query posed. Whilst it’s not been confirmed, it has been suggested that the age of the listing as well as factors, such as the number and frequency of reviews, may play a part in Google deciding which sites to filter.

Outskirts no longer means outsider

Another important change that the possum update has brought about is a higher chance of being ranked in the top local searches for companies who are situated a little further out on the outskirts of towns and cities. Previously, more central locations would be rank higher simply due to where they are. Now businesses further away on the edges of towns and cities are more likely to rank, providing they practice general good SEO and produce quality content. There is also now much greater importance placed on the location of the searcher. For example if you do a search without location services active on your phone for a ‘St Albans plumber’ you’ll retrieve different results to someone who has carried out the same search with their location services on.

Small variations make a big difference

Using similar but slightly different search terms would have previously brought up the same results. To take the previous example, if we were to search ‘St Albans plumber’ and ‘plumber St Albans’ we would have received similar search results prior to possum. Since the September update small keyword variations like this will now retrieve different search results in an attempt to offer  more diversity.

As with all Google updates, changes are still likely to be made in the coming weeks and months. For the user carrying out the search, Possum can be seen as good news as more variety in local results should be displayed. For businesses, and especially those located centrally in towns or cities who have lost local search ground since the update, the focus must be on continuing good SEO practices and producing great content on their websites. Rather than any particular local SEO tricks or variants, it is by maintaining a comprehensive on site SEO strategy that will help to yield the best local results.

At Wagada our team are experts at working with small businesses. We’re passionate about helping them to build their brand and increase their website traffic through high quality search engine optimisation. However, one question that we often get asked by small companies is “how on earth can my SEO compete with the big brands?”. Of course at first glance a local hairdresser may appear to have little chance of competing with a national brand such as Toni and Guy, and a small fabric shop may wonder how they can ever have an advantage over a company such as John Lewis when it comes to SEO!

It is true that big sites do have a number of advantages when it comes to SEO and you would often expect a popular brand to benefit from the additional finances that they have to plough into their website optimisation. They are often working with digital marketing budgets that stretch into millions of pounds which would be unheard of for smaller businesses. This large budget also means they have the ability to invest in their website as a priority when it is required such as at the run up to Christmas or if another new big competitor comes onto the market.

Another benefit for large brands is that their website often has a very high domain authority. This can be due to a range of factors. Firstly they are likely to have a high number of good quality links coming into their website and bringing them the all-important ‘link juice’. These links will often come from a diverse range of trusted websites, all of which will influence the search engines to rank them higher than a much smaller or newer site. Large brands are also seen as trustworthy by online customers. It is often the case that they have built up their brand and reputation over a long period of time and therefore consumers have faith in their products and services. A smaller business still has to work very hard to build up their authority within their market and to gain the trust and loyalty of their customers.

So, whist the big brands may seem to hold all the cards when it comes to SEO, don’t worry just yet – we’re here to show you that in fact there are many benefits to being a small business that can help your website to appear higher in the search engine rankings. In fact, there are a number of ways that you actually have an advantage over the more established names within your industry.

How Small Sites Can Have An SEO Advantage

 

  1. Flexibility and Creativity

Large companies mean large teams and this can often lead to a long-winded decision-making process about digital marketing campaigns that may involve a large number of people. This means that any changes to their SEO can take time to make, and then they still need to be approved and communicated to separate web design, marketing and PR teams. But, with a small business you don’t have any of this to worry about! Instead the small size of your team means that you can be extremely reactive to changes, both in the business and online world. If a new Google algorithm comes out in the morning, you can start to make the relevant changes to your site that very same day. Lack of bureaucracy means that small businesses are perfectly placed to get things done, whilst larger brands are still discussing them in the boardroom.

The same rationale applies to creativity. Long approval processes in big brands can stifle the intuitive creativity that often needs to be applied to your website SEO. In a small business you have the luxury of breaking boundaries – and you can quickly turn your blue sky thinking into tangible results.

  1. An authentic voice

When you run your own company, you become the voice and face of your business. This means that you can often be far more authentic with your digital marketing and social media than a larger brand. Big companies often appear ‘faceless’ to their customers and you can capitalise on this by showing your potential clients that you’re a real person. Write about your own personal experiences and show them you are there to help. Answer them directly on social media and let them get to know you as a person.

  1. Working in a niche

Large brands often have to be all things to all people and it can be difficult finding a voice through their advertising that hits all of their target demographics. Getting their marketing wrong can mean that they alienate a segment of their clients and they often struggle to appeal to everyone. This is where small businesses can really come into their own. You can pick a very specific target market that you know and understand. You can really work to build up their trust in your company so that you become the go-to business for that particular group of customers.

Our Top 3 Ideas To Help Small Firms Compete With Larger Brands

Hopefully after reading about all the advantages that you have as a small company you’re now feeling a lot more positive about how you can gain a competitive advantage. At Wagada we know that there are a number of ways to help you compete and here are our top 3!

  1. Choose your niche and build positive relationships with your target audience

Earlier in this article we looked at how building a very specific niche was a key advantage for a small business. Therefore, it’s vital to spend time considering your target customers, so that you can start to really understand what they respond to and what they want from your business. You could run some focus groups to discover what your potential clients want and you should think about what you can offer them that larger brands can’t. For example, a small fabric shop may not be able to offer the range of products that a competitor such as John Lewis can, but they could offer more unusual brands or focus on Fairtrade material. They could also offer clinics to give advice to people about sewing and dress patterns.

Small companies can also reach out to online influencers and build personal relationships that can’t be replicated by corporate PR teams. These strong relationships with bloggers, local business communities and the local press can help build trust in your brand and will also see your social media and blog content shared more frequently.

  1. Make sure your website content provides value and don’t be afraid to pursue harder-to-monetise content

A small business can often put much more time and effort into one piece of content than a larger brand may be able to. Because you really understand your niche and the keywords that they will be searching for, you can focus on creating content that meets this need. This in-depth content will also help to build authority for your website in your target market and help you gain trust and loyalty from your clients. Whereas, large websites are often looking for a quick route to monetisation, you can focus on creating relationships and providing content that keeps customers coming back to your website.

  1. Focus on keywords that larger companies won’t be using

Keywords are obviously vital for successful SEO. Big brands will often choose specific keywords to focus on but there will also be a large number of keywords that they will not target as well – and that’s where a small business can find success. High profile companies will often target shorter and more popular keywords so you could focus instead on the more specific long-tail keywords that your clients could be using. For example John Lewis may use ‘beautiful fabrics’ as a keyword but a small fabric shop could target the phrase ‘best place to buy ethically produced fabrics in Hertfordshire’.

You will also find that large companies won’t often attempt to compare themselves to another large brand, but as a small company you can do this and make the most of using comparison keywords. This is also the case with editorial keywords. A small business can find these keywords very powerful and they are not constrained by the business relationships that a larger brand may have. Therefore they can definitively recommend one supplier over another due to their personal experience.

As you can see, small businesses can actually benefit from many advantages when it comes to SEO, compared with the larger brands. You have the freedom to focus on what you need to do, when you need to do it, without facing complicated approvals processes. You can really capitalise on the creativity of your team and build up a niche audience where you can develop trust, authority and positive relationships. Remember to focus on the keywords that large companies choose not to use and really invest in high quality, in-depth content that your target customers will love.

When deciding where to position a site in their search engine rankings, Google uses a number of complicated algorithms to determine how to award the places. Usability, high-quality links and good content are just some of the factors included. However, because the algorithms are fairly fluid and are regularly updated, they incorporate many other elements too, one of which might be click through rate.

Click through rate measures the number of people who click onto your site via a search engine query. For example if you were to search for “the best pizza restaurant in Hertfordshire” you would see the results listed on your screen, and the one that the majority of people chose to click through to would have the highest click through rate.

Many SEO professionals are starting to notice that click through rate could work as a ranking signal – but is this really the case? Google have not given a definitive answer to this question and some SEO companies feel that measuring the click through rate for the vast range of search terms used would be too hard to implement even for Google! However several digital marketing experts have decided to do their own experiments as to whether click through rate can actually impact on ranking. Rand Fishkin of the popular MOZ blog performed a trial last summer that showed that when he spent over an hour clicking on a particular site for a particular search term (he used the search term ‘best grilled steak’) he saw that site quickly move up from number 4 to number 1 in the rankings. However there was a query as to whether this was a short term fix and whether this intensive clicking would only produce short term results.

Search Engine Land contributors Cesarino Morellato and Andrea Scarpetta have also conducted a detailed experiment into whether click through rates have affected a sites ranking in the search engines. Interestingly their experiment did show significant results. After a week of activity, the clicked URL improved its ranking from the 10th to the 3rd position and maintained an average rank for the rest of the time between the 4th and 5th positions!

If you would like to find out more about the full experiment it’s definitely worth a read. To summarise, their conclusion was that whilst they couldn’t say that click through rate was definitely a ranking factor, they did believe it to be a significant offset which would change the search engine results so that there was a correlation between the clicks and visible ranking of a query. This means that making sure your page has an engaging title and well written meta description, in order to encourage people to choose your site to click through to, can have a really valuable effect on your rankings.

We thought this was a fascinating message. At Wagada we have definitely noticed a link between the click through rate and page ranking – and have been testing this out for a number of our clients to great effect!