Monthly Archives

February 2016

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How to Use Social Media for Business Development

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With over 2.1 billion people active on social media, it makes sense to utilise these online communal channels for business. People use social media for business to communicate, engage and share content. It brings forth a means by which business’ can develop a two-way dialogue with their customers. Your social media strategy and campaign will depend on the premise of your business, your target audience and the social network channel in use.

Below we have each of the big social media channels listed, along with ways in which they can be utilised to help grow your business:

 

Facebook

 

As the #1 social media platform worldwide, Facebook can drive a traffic jam of potential customers to your business’s fan page. Cross-promote your fan page and business website by inserting a Facebook widget.

Leverage Google’s Social Search feature to have your Facebook content indexed by Google and drive traffic from search engines. To do this effectively, link your fan page to your website.

Engage with potential customers on a daily basis. Customers can reach out to you and you can even target specific groups by defining your preferred audience by factors such as gender, age, city or country etc. This enables you to hone in on your target audience.

Improve brand credibility and awareness. Facebook is a breeding ground for shares and likes. Viewers can share your Facebook posts with their friends, spreading and displaying your brand’s name in front of their connections.

90% of Facebook users expect businesses to have a Fan Page, emphasizing how important social media for business can be. Whilst most don’t appreciate business’ trying to sell to them on Facebook, you can still connect and strengthen customer relations via Facebook. Post relevant and persuasive content to drive clicks to your main website.

 

Twitter

Twitter accumulates over 500 million Tweets each day. It’s a quick and easy way to connect with customers in a social environment rather than a serious business one, which many people find uncomfortable and off-putting. Many business’ now use Twitter for branding.

Gain valuable customer feedback and insights to help further improve your services or products. Listen to your customers and they will appreciate you for it.

Market your product or services to thousands of potential customers with a simple persuasive tweet. You can also utilise Twitter to keep your followers updated with your company’s latest news or achievements etc. Spark interest with promotions and coupon code giveaways.

Promotional and business tweets are just as likely to go viral as a cute Panda video. This can lead to an increase in sales and ROI.

Twitter is a great way to improve brand loyalty. Engaging with your customers via Twitter and helping them with any queries they may have, will increase their loyalty for your brand. They will be more likely to follow you and re-tweet your content.

 

Google+

Google+ may not be as popular as Facebook, but it would be foolish to ignore it and its 363 million users. Content posted on Google+ is indexed instantly. You could say Google is a little biased here, but who cares when it will do absolute wonders for your SEO efforts? Google+ can be used to rank your business higher in search results, so it’s definitely worth the time!

The Google+ Business Page is one of the main influential ranking factors when it comes to Google’s local search results. By having an active Google+ account posting relevant content regularly, you will see your business climbing the list of local search results.

Collaboration opportunities are available for free. These include video chatting with colleagues and customers via the Google Hangouts feature.

You can have your message reach the right audience with a simple click. It’s an easy way to share content to the right people. In fact, the +1 button is hit 5 billion times per day! So feel free to promote brand awareness, advertise promotions and speak to thousands of potential customers.

Improve B2B marketing with Google+. You can use this channel to engage and establish relationships with other businesses and potential customers. Google’s SnapKnot tool is excellent for B2B marketing as it has an impressive member conversion rate.

 

LinkedIn

As a professional social networking channel with over 347 million registered members, LinkedIn is the ideal place to search, find and promote business and marketing opportunities.

Generate new leads by making connections. Joining relevant LinkedIn groups in your industry can also help to not only spread brand awareness, but to make contact with valuable like-minded individuals who may be seeking your services.

Connect with potential clients and even customers by making personal contact with them. Create personalised messages, avoid seeming too “sales pitchy” and speak to the individual.

LinkedIn can make you and your business easier to find. Implanting a social strategy via LinkedIn will help to gather more quality leads. The possibility of creating inbound leads is more consistent with LinkedIn than with other social channels because it focuses on business above all else, making it perfect for B2B marketing especially.

Build brand credibility and awareness by hosting a LinkedIn event. This will help you to gain more leads by inviting LinkedIn influencers to attend.

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Google Confirms Changes to Ad Positions on Desktop Search Results

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Google has confirmed text ads will no longer appear on the right sidebar of desktop search results. The giant search engine broke the news of this drastic change on 19th February 2016. Rather than appearing at the top, bottom and right side of search results, ads will be positioned above and below them instead.

In addition to this, the number of text ads shown above organic listings will be increased to four, not three. This will occur for those considered to be “highly commercial queries”.

Advertisers are dying to know how these sudden changes to ads on desktop search results will affect their own ad performance. Factors such as CPC (PPC), CTR and average position etc. are at the top of the growing list of concerns executed by online advertisers.

 

Here’s what Google has confirmed so far about the recent changes:

·         Text ads will no longer appear on the right side of desktop search results.

·         For “highly commercial queries”, four text ads will be served above search results instead of three.

·         A maximum of seven text ads will be displayed on a SERP.

·         No more than three text ads are to be shown below SERPs.

·         Relevant queries will display Knowledge Panels and Product Listing Ad Blocks on the right rail of SERPs.

·         All of these recent changes and updates will be implemented worldwide (regardless of language), on both Google.com and each of its search partners. These changes are permanent.

 

Should We Have Expected This Shift?

Back in 2010, when Google first began to test the notion of four ads shown directly above search results it appeared to be just that, a notion. However, those experiments continued for an additional several years. So, should we be kicking ourselves for not seeing these changes coming sooner?

No, not exactly.

Whilst slight changes were seen by users in the past, this was by no means expected to be permanent. In the beginning, Google experimented with simple mortgage queries. Users noticed that instead of having three ads on top of their organic results, there were four. In some instances, no ads appeared in the right sidebar whatsoever. This was perhaps the first clue that there were bigger changes to come.

So why didn’t any of us see it coming?

Google denied these changes were going to be permanent. As a result, people turned their attention elsewhere and desktop ad changes were put away in a tiny box at the back of our minds, never having to be dealt with. That is, until Friday 19th February happened.

 

More about Highly Commercial Queries

Highly Commercial Queries (aka, the ones where four ads will show instead of three) are seen by Google as being queries where the user is intent on making a purchase. For the time being, this is unlikely to affect ad tests in Knowledge Panels or Product Listings. Instead, Google will continue to run various experiments in Knowledge Panels and with Product Listing Ad layouts, despite the recent changes to the right rail of SERPs.

 

What Does all of this Mean for CPC?

Many are worried that the cost of CPC will rise as a result of there being less ad space available. However, there may not be as much interest to place ads at the bottom of organic search listings as there were for having ads on the right side of SERPs. Until more data is available on the subject, we can do nothing but speculate according to prior knowledge and the information that Google has currently provided us with.

We can guarantee, however, that advertisers running bid-to-position strategies are likely to need to make relevant updates. These updates may cause an auction fluctuation period. This will settle once advertisers become accustomed to Google’s changes to ad layout on desktop search results.

Keep an eye on our blog for more updates as this story unfolds.

 

 

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10 SEO E-Commerce Rules your Business Should Abide By

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SEO should be at the top of your business’ online strategy. You need it to build a firm customer base, boost organic traffic and climb the search engine ladder. But for an SEO strategy to work, you need to learn what NOT to do.

Follow these 10 SEO Rules to avoid being smite by the big guy…who in this case, happens to be Google.

 

1. Don’t Use Duplicated Content

 

In the digital sphere, stealing content is a crime against Google. To avoid penalisation, evade duplicated content at all costs. Ensure that your site uses original, relevant and useful content. Don’t bombard your web pages with pointless jargon.

Develop high quality content strategies and update your content regularly. An on-site blog can help with this. Google will punish sites that don’t abide by this rule, so take heed and listen.

 

2. Don’t Cram Keywords

 

Yes, your website needs relevant keywords to attract customers. However, this doesn’t mean it’s okay to stuff your content with them. In the past, cramming keywords into the content of your E-Commerce site may have helped your sites performance. But times have changed and you need to keep the number of on-site keywords to a minimum.

Only use relevant keywords that will help search engines see the value of your site. Avoid cramming keywords as this will be seen as an attempt to fool Google’s algorithms.

 

3. Don’t Use Black-Hat SEO

 

The battle between Good and Evil has been going on for centuries. On the internet, this battle is alive in the form of White Hat and Black Hat SEO strategies.

Avoid the dark side and try to use white hat SEO tactics to improve your website’s performance. This will help to make your website more valuable and relevant to users. Your site will be more likely to perform better as a result.

 

4. Don’t Include Too Many Ads

 

A good user experience means giving customers what they want. If your website is crowded with ads, this can be extremely irritating to your site’s visitors. Loose and “scrawny” content alongside all these ads is even worse.

Make sure that your site keeps ads to a minimum. Google will pick up on low quality content, which does not bode well for its online performance.

 

5. Don’t Install Hidden Text

 

Many sneaky business owners have tried to hide SEO text from the Google bot. These tactics include putting white text on a white background with the aim to show different text to site visitors and Google. However, this method of improving organic traffic will not work as well as you might think.

Algorithms can detect cloaked and hidden text. This results in the immediate drop of your site down search results listings.

 

6. Don’t Use the Same Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

 

Avoid using the same title tags for each page of your website. Focus on the specific details, services or content included in specific web pages.

If you use the same title tags throughout your site, this can prove to be damaging towards your SEO efforts. The same goes with meta descriptions. Make them unique and persuasive to encourage viewers to click on your link.

 

7. Don’t Choose Link Quantity Over Quality

 

Too many websites are focusing on how many links they have rather than the quality of these links.

A single link from a high performing blog for instance, can do wonders for your site. Whereas having many links from low quality directory links won’t do you any favours. Google sees high quality links as a reliable measure of website quality.

 

8. Don’t Create Microsites

 

Once upon a time (before the Panda algorithm came along), the creation of microsites were used to boost rankings and traffic. The sites usually contained thin content and where used to link back to the main site.

However, Google’s Panda algorithm update has swept these mini sites off the face of the internet, making them completely redundant.

 

9. Don’t Use Link Farms

 

One of the best SEO tactics is to have links coming to and from your website. You’re more likely to get noticed if your content includes links. These should be from outside sources such as quality blogs or social media pages etc.

However, this only works if it happens organically. Never use link farms or link-swapping methods which will trigger a red flag, resulting in the possibility of finding yourself on Google’s black-list

 

10. Don’t Spam Customers or Google Maps

 

Spamming will send you so far down the ranks that it would take God himself to pull you back up into the first page of search results. Just don’t it. Also, don’t bother creating a false listing on Google Maps either.

Many businesses have done this AND paid the ultimate price for it. This is seen as an attempt to fool Google, which (as you probably gather from the other 9 rules) will result in the harsh punishment of your website.

 

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The ABC’s of Digital Marketing Acronyms

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The digital marketing sphere is bombarded with tons of acronyms. At first, it may seem like a little much. After all, how can one industry have that many abbreviations? It’s a bit excessive, to say the least.

You’ve probably come across some of the most important ones already. Terms like SEO, CTR and ROI roll off the tongue so often that you begin to pick up on them early on. However, their definitions seem to get lost in the mail.

To save you the hassle of ‘Googling’ each Digital Marketing acronym, we have taken the time to compile this handy guide for all the newbies out there:

 

API – Application Program Interface

The API is a set of tools used for building software applications such as routines and protocols.

 

ASP – Application Service Provider

This allows web page scripts to be implemented by internet servers.

 

B2B – Business to Business

B2B is when a business approaches another business to make a commercial transaction.

 

B2C – Business to Consumer

B2C refers to the process of a business selling directly to consumers.

 

CMS – Content Management System

A CMS allows the convenient management of content such as modifying, deleting, editing and publishing etc.

 

CPA – Cost per Acquisition

An advertising method whereby the advertiser is required to pay when an advert acquires an acquisition.

 

CPC – Cost per Click

The CPC refers to the individual cost you will pay each time a user clicks on one of your ads.

 

CPL – Cost per Lead

Cost per Lead is the cost an advertiser pays for a sign-up from a customer. This is otherwise known as online lead generation.

 

CPM – Cost per Thousand

The cost an advertiser pays to reach one thousand people.

 

CR – Conversion Rate

The conversion rate measures the percentage of people who convert. This could a desired action such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.

 

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

CRM is a type of customer and company relationship strategy that can help to increase loyalty.

 

CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation

Want to increase sales and conversions? CRO is the system used to increase traffic that is more likely to convert.

 

CTA – Call to Action

A CTA is a clear instruction to encourage an immediate and desired response such as “Buy Now” or “Go to Checkout” etc.

 

CTR – Click-Through Rate

The click-through-rate measures the number of users that clicked on an advert or link. It is used in online advertising campaigns to help measure success.

 

DNS – Domain Name System

The DNS allows domain names to be both located and translated into Internet Protocols.

 

ESP – Email Service Provider

Your ESP is the company you use to market via email or one that offers various email services.

 

HTML – Hypertext Mark-up Language

This is a mark-up language used for labelling web pages.

 

HTTP – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol

An application protocol used for collaborative, distributed and hypermedia information systems.

 

IP – Internet Protocol

The procedure of sending data from one P.C or laptop to another via the internet is referred to as the IP. An IP address is given to each computer to identify it from the rest.

 

ISP – Internet Service Provider

Your ISP is the company providing your internet access and related web services.

 

KPI – Key Performance Indicator

A KPI is used to measure the performance or success of a specific activity.

 

OS – Operating System

An operating system is present in every computer and used to run applications and programs.

 

PHP – PHP Hypertext Pre-Processor

A PHP is HTML-embedded scripting language. This is used to write web pages.

 

PPC – Pay per Click

This is a type of internet marketing and refers to the price paid by an advertiser each time someone clicks on one of their online adverts.

 

ROI – Return on Investment

This is used to determine a company’s profitability as well as how cost efficient various investments are.

 

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

SEM is used to increase a sites performance and visibility on search engines through paid advertising.

 

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimisation, is used to increase a websites visibility and success on search engines organic search results.

 

SERP – Search Engine Results Page

The list of results that show up after a search term is entered is referred to as the SERP.

 

SMM – Social Media Marketing

This is a type of internet marketing via social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

SSL – Secure Sockets Layer

In order to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser (client), an SSL is used which acts as a type of security technology.

 

UI – User Interface

The User Interface is the way in which a computer system and the user can interact.

 

UX – User Experience

UX means User experience and basically refers to the experience a user has when using a certain service, system or even a product.

 

 

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Why is My Site Not Seeing Immediate SEO Results?

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The main purpose of SEO is to drive high quality traffic to your website, so why is it taking so long to see any results?

 

Speedy SEO is Suspicious

Google does not take too kindly to links that have gained remarkable popularity in a short space of time. This flares up a red flag warning that there could be something more devious going on.

Now, that’s not to say that lots of links will send your site to the dumpster. It’s all about finding the right links and avoiding “link spam”. This is why an SEO provider will gradually build links instead of gathering hundreds for you at once.

Unnatural links to your site doesn’t look good, especially not to Google who can hit you with a penalty.

 

Building Quality Links is Time Consuming

Finding backlinks with authority is a time consuming and often difficult pursuit. The main aim is to find links that will help boost your site’s ranking. To find these hidden treasures, the usual process involves creating a type of database. This should contain all the links connected to the top pages ranking for your chosen keywords.

Having this information is just one step towards discovering and obtaining credible backlinks. Only those with enough authority can boost your sites rankings. However, this takes time because most high quality sites are already undergoing heavy use.

 

Eying the Competition takes Time

Analysing your competitors requires a great deal of time and effort. Most of your competitors who rank well have been working on their business for years or even decades. The problem lies with getting your site on the same level as your toughest competitors.

Your competitors have probably focused on the best performing keywords, making the competition for these even more difficult. Overcoming this and similar competitive issues takes time.

 

Getting Everything Together – a Team Effort

Obtaining necessary information and content from site owners can drag out the process. Procuring links can be done in different ways. These include guest posts, link bartering, content creation, paid link placement, site creation etc.

Gathering all this can take time because there could be many people involved which could lead to delays in obtaining the required data.

 

Changing Algorithms

Google and other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms and SEO needs to change with it. The Penguin and Panda updates are the most recent and dramatic of Google’s updates.

Sites have either stayed the same, dropped or climbed as a result of these and other changing algorithms. Therefore, it is important that your SEO keeps up with these changes.

For more information on search ranking factors that were important back in 2015 view SEO MOZ Ranking Factors.

 

 

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20 Creative ways YouTube can Help Grow your Business

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YouTube receives over four billion views a day, making it the second largest search engine online. Thousands of businesses have leveraged its grand popularity to promote their brand and services. You too, can use YouTube to expand your business and target a wider audience.

 

Visual Stimulus

Whilst written content helps to engage customers, people just can’t say no to videos. We are visual creatures by nature. Most customers will watch a related product or service video before deciding to make a purchase. Videos are well worth the time and effort it takes to make them. Trust us.

 

Social Network

YouTube is a social networking site. It allows potential customers to interact with your brand and leave feedback. This helps you to build a larger following.

 

YouTube Ads

Advertising on YouTube is fairly straightforward. There are even a few paid options available which work in a similar way to PPC campaigns. This mode of advertising opens your business up to a larger audience.

 

20 Creative ways to utilise YouTube for Business

 

1.      Demonstrate your expertise by uploading videos containing useful tips to potential clients. “How to” videos do particularly well on YouTube.

 

2.      Upload presentations and share the slides to help showcase your public speaking skills.

 

3.      Bag yourself an interview with a specialist in your market.

 

4.      Expand your reach by converting podcasts into short videos.

 

5.      Get yourself and your brand out there. Engage with the online community. Upload video responses and comment on relevant media.

 

6.      Don’t hide customer video testimonials, show them off to boost credibility even further.

 

7.      Explain the basic concept of your business with a unique video. The best way to sell a product is to show it in action!

 

8.      Has your business hosted an event? Promote it by uploading its video content.

 

9.      Make the most out of YouTube’s special features. These include audio swap, quick capture and annotations.

 

10.  A Staff introduction video will expand your brands credibility and trustworthiness.

 

11.  Give your viewers a glimpse into life at your office. A mini tour will promote your business in the best light. It will also help to increase the connection between your company and its customers.

 

12.  Cross-promote with others via video product placement agreements etc.

 

13.  Ask your staff members to share video content on their social networks.

 

14.  Consider hosting a competition or contest on YouTube to encourage customer engagement.

 

15.  Use Google Analytics and YouTube Insight to keep track of your channel’s performance.

 

16.  You can earn some extra money if you enter into a YouTube partnership.

 

17.  Include CTA’s in your videos and provide basic contact information.

 

18.  Include a video in a blog entry to give your written content more ground to stand on.

 

19.  Consider embedding relevant and useful videos on different web pages.

 

20.  If your customers have a problem, give them the solution via an insightful video.

 

 

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Algorithms: How to Stay on Google’s Good Side

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Over 40,000 search queries transpire on Google every second. That’s over 3.5 billion searches per day! It’s become a shared theory that if you have a question, Google has the answer. This search engine seems to be an all-knowing entity, but where does it get its power from?

Does it have access to a secret pool of wisdom?

Is there an alien base unit hiding at the Google HQ feeding out info to the giant search engine?

Nope, not even close.

syour queries into answers. Each of these algorithms rely on over 200 different signals to best judge which web pages contain the most relevant data.

So, how can you make sure Google’s algorithms pick up on your web pages?

Remember those 200+ signals we discussed before? Those are the secret ingredients of algorithms. In their core essence, they are basically a range of unique ranking factors.

Below we will go through 10 of these important ranking influences:

1. Domain Existence Period – Google can predict the legitimacy of a domain judging by how long it has been used. Valuable domains are usually booked years in advance whilst the less beneficial ones fade away. The expiration date plays a huge role in determining a domain’s legitimacy.

2. Keywords in Domains – Keywords in a domain shows that the webpage is relevant. Google hasn’t been favouring this one as much as it used to but it is still effective. If you are going to do this, try to have your keyword appear as the first word in your domain because this gives your page an advantage.

3. Content Length – The longer your content is, the better. Google favours web design that uses more words because they offer a wider pool of information and are seen as being more relevant.

4. Keyword Density – This is a tricky one. You don’t want to go overboard with keywords but you still want just enough to grab attention. Google uses keyword density to evaluate a website’s topic.

5. Page Loading Speed – Google uses the time it takes for your page to load as a factor towards ranking. A page’s code and file size are just two components measured by Google’s algorithms to help determine the speed.

6. Duplicate Content – Avoid duplicated content like the plague. This can have a seriously negative impact on your website and it’s search engine ranking placements.

7. Optimised Images – Images play a role at determining how relevant a webpage is to the search query. Make sure that your images are optimised and include a file name, alt text, title, description and image caption.

8. Outbound and Internal Link Quality – The links connecting to and from your website are important. With regards to SEO, linking to high quality and influential sites will help to establish credibility and trust signals to Google. Internal links are also essential to Google’s algorithms. Internal links from sites with low PR or none at all won’t do your site any favours.

9. Usability – Your site must be user friendly. The main content should also be immediately visible. These are the sites that tend to rank higher on Google’s search results.

10. Mobile Optimised – Google ranks sites that are optimised for mobile higher than others. If your site is not mobile friendly, Google may penalise it in mobile search.

Follow these SEO guidelines and you will have a better chance of staying on the good side of Google’s strict algorithms. Algorithms change all the time though so it is important to change right alongside them to stay on the top of search results.