SEO: Are outdated techniques harming your website?

SEO Changes

Frustrated by SEO? Picture of blonde business woman tearing her hair

SEO can be frustrating – see these 4 tips

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been changing since Google started introducing major algorithm updates in 2012.

You’ve probably heard of Panda, Penguin and even Hummingbird. These were all introduced to prevent SEO practitioners manipulate Google’s search results.

Thin Content

It’s never been good to have poor page content. You know the sort of thing I mean, pages with very little information on them. Or, worse still for SEO, text copied directly from other websites.

Google has always stated that it gives priority to high quality content. That’s even more important now than ever. But what does that mean you need to do?

Do:

  • Write your own information rich page text
  • Compose over 250 words – especially on your blog
  • Make every page different
  • Go the extra mile (or kilometre if you prefer) to include useful info: reviews, quotations, tell stories, data, history – anything you can think of that your competitors don’t do.
  • Analyse your text for readability: 60 to 65 on the Flesch-Kincaid scale
  • Include other media such as images, video, diagrams, audio

Don’t:

  • Copy and paste from other websites.
  • Use automated text generators (content written by computers to optimise a certain term or phrase).
  • Overuse the keyword or phrase you want your page to rank for (known as keyword stuffing).
  • Rely on rich media sourced from YouTube and other ‘widget’ providers.

Learn more about Google’s guidance to about the thin content trap.

Long Page Titles

The magic number was always 65 characters for your page titles. Not any more!

Google has changed this one so that it’s not the number of characters now but pixel width. 482 pixels to be exact.

Why is this something you need to be aware of? The answer is obvious once you see it. Have a look at this screenshot from Google:

SEO  - How a long page title is displayed on Google

Google can’t display the full page title

To emphasise the point: if Google can’t display the full title then searchers won’t know what the page is so won’t click on it.

Systems vary so you should look out for page title, meta title, title tag or something similar.

Try this tool to help: Title Pixel Meter

Exact Match Domain Names

It seems like a dream. Get the exact domain name and you were ranked number 1.

Google has stated that it has deprioritised exact match URLs. However, it may still help it understand what your content is about. But don’t stress if SEO was the main reason for wanting an unavailable domain.

Unnatural Link Building

Anyone carrying out SEO will tell you links to your site are important. In fact, they seemed to be the main ranking factor for years.

As a result quick fix SEO practitioners abused the system, despite Google’s warnings, until ‘Penguin‘ changed it all. Sites that had paid for links, or links from low quality link pages were hit badly.

Why did Google do this? They kept telling everyone that they don’t like being manipulated. Gaining ranking from randomly linked sites did just that.

Penguin also promoted sites that had ‘backlinks’ from high authority sites due to the quality of the content.

So how does Google determine the quality of links?

Unnatural SEO links are:

  • High link:domain ratio – thousands from one website
  • Too many exact match anchor text link – such as “jewellers in Chester”
  • Links from sites where you can pay to add content and links

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools or free services such as ahrefs.com to find who links to your site and how.

Solving these problems can be time consuming and difficult. If you need advice or guidance we’ll be happy to help you.

How to reduce abandoned carts

Reduce abandoned carts - Add to Cart Button image

Kerching? Not quite yet!

When we look at our web statistics in Google Analytics, Clicky or some other package the headline figure of unique visits is what we tend to concentrate on.

However I’ve often stated that “sales are the only metric that counts in ecommerce, anything else is just vanity”.

However you choose to work out or measure your conversion rate (the ratio of sales to visits) something to really concentrate on is abandoned carts.

These are when a prospective customer has added products to their shopping basket and then not completed the purchase for some reason.

It’s impossible to know what’s in people’s heads so we can only guess that they’ve been distracted.

So how can we stop that distraction causing abandoned carts?

Answer: create a sense of urgency!

This is a very simple one that I picked up from Robert Coorey; add a message to your cart that says something along the lines of the following:

“Stock is not reserved until you complete the checkout”

When a prospect makes a ‘buying decision’ that’s the point at which they want the item the most – if they get sidetracked for any reason the chances they’ll complete the purchase decline rapidly.

By telling your customer at the right moment that they need to get through the checkout process to get what they want or they may lose it you create a sense of urgency.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman theorises that “loss aversion” is a stronger motivator than potential gain.

The upshot of this is that:

Less abandoned carts = more completed sales

Reducing abandoned carts is a much simpler way of increasing your sales than growing website traffic.

Improved “About Page”: new blueprint

Simon Allen Portrait

Simon Allen – yep, that’s me

I get asked regularly, “what should I put on my about page”.

The simple answer is whatever you feel your customers would want to know.

However, as any business transaction is between people then it should focus on giving potential customers a preview of what you might be like to work with or buy from.

Here are three critical steps to follow to create a wonderful “About” page.

  1. Hook ‘Em
    Ask a question that your customers are looking for an answer to. For example; “Sick of foul tasting water?” Or, “Looking for a simple to use accounting system?” Or how about, “Tired of a drab looking garden?”You get the picture. Your visitors aren’t going to stick around to find out what you have to say – they just won’t care unless you hook them somehow. You may think your ‘about’ page is centred on you but it needs to be aimed directly at the person your customers are most interested in: themselves. So this is about what you can do to solve their problems. Demonstrating that you identify with them and understand their pain.
  2. Your story – with benefits
    After hooking visitors with your ‘pain question’ you can move on the telling your story about the same pain you suffered and how your solution will take your customers’ pain away too.I’m working on the new ‘about’ page for 1Ecommerce, which is what prompted this post, and I’ll use it as an example.Hook: ‘Are you fed up with ecommerce charges even when you don’t sell anything?’
    Story with benefits: ‘I spent £20,000 on my first ecommerce website and it took months before it made any sales. I didn’t have any cash left for advertising because it had all gone on the software. That’s when I came up with the idea that most sites do the same thing; they just look different. So I created a low cost system for other small businesses to get a great ecommerce website free so they could spend their money on marketing – then they pay a small fee for each sale. Bingo – problem solved.”It’s very important to make authentic claims; honesty helps build confidence in your brand so don’t be tempted to exaggerate or make false promises.
  3. Proof
    You’ve told your visitors how great you and your business are but you need to back that up with something solid. This is where customer testimonials and expert endorsements are great.Your credibility with potential customers will soar and they’ll trust you to deliver what they want when they buy from you.Ensure you ask for reviews and comments from previous and existing customers so that you can keep the ‘body of evidence’ fresh, also use pictures and logos if you can.

New Statistics Reveals Mobile Overtakes Desktop

Looking at iPhone in cafe

Is he shopping?

We knew it was coming, the question was when it would happen.

The advance of mobile web traffic has been fast but it was unclear quite how it would affect ecommerce.

According to research carried out by IMRG Capgemini 52% of visitors to retail websites in the UK are doing so from their tablet or smartphone.

However, that’s only part of the story; breaking down the figures for sales gives some insights into developing future updates to your online shop:

  • 64% Desktop/laptop
  • 29.5% Tablet
  • 6.5% Smartphone

I’ve been agonising over the best way to provide mobile commerce for a couple of years. The trouble has been that I only had a ‘gut feel’ that people weren’t actually buying much on their phones, instead using them to browse.

As a result we made the decision to develop responsive website templates that alter to suit the device being used.

These figures support that decision, especially when you consider that, according BBC Business News, the use of apps is declining as people get over the initial excitement of something new.

So what should you be doing to keep up with these developments?

Firstly, don’t panic, most websites will work well enough for 93.5% of the visitors who are likely to spend their cash.

Secondly, you should be updating your website every couple of years, so plan the next one to be responsive.

And finally, if you need help or advice visits Ecommerce Secrets and ask the community

Scott Bywater – Copywriter

Marketing & Advertising Cheat Sheets by Scott Bywater Copywriter image

Marketing & Advertising Cheat Sheets by Scott Bywater

Scott Bywater has just completed a brand new guide “7 Ways to Get More Customers” which includes a swag of “Advertising Cheat Sheets” for getting results fast.

Download it for free by visiting
Scott Bywater – Copywriting That Sells
www.adcheatsheets.com

 

 

 

 

Scott Bywater is a top copywriter from Australia. He’s also someone whose work helping others improve their business communications I admire immensely.

I recommend downloading Scott’s report to help you learn more about how to to write copy that makes your prospective customers take action.

Everything he talks about can be applied to website selling.

Cheers

Simon

Where do you find free images?

Girl getting splashed

Make a splash with your pictures

Have you spent a small fortune on royalty free images for your business?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’ll really like the information I’m about share with you.

There aren’t many resources available for free images for business use, and it’s a problem I’ve faced myself when building websites for clients and even just creating a post like this one. We all know that pictures vastly improve the ‘friendliness’ of a web page.

So to help here’s a list of places to get free images for commercial use. Some do require you to attribute the pictures you sue to the photographer or designer so make sure you follow the rules of each service.

If you use any of these sites please come back here and tell us your experience – click ‘leave a reply’

Clean and Quirky

Clean and Quirky

Do You Want to be More Productive?

Business pen

Write more business

It got me down every day. I’d arrive at my office at 9am, switch on my computer and sit down at my desk to do my day’s work.

At 9.05am the phones would ring, e-mails arrive and colleagues would come to me.

All of it ‘urgent'; all of it mundane.

By 5pm, when everyone else was finishing for the day, I’d actually start what I’d set out to do; but after 45 minutes I’d be exhausted and frustrated wondering why I couldn’t be more productive.

I know this is common to many, if not most, business people and, like most, I’ve read countless articles on how to cut through the daily dross.

None of it seemed to be something I could stick to and after a day or two I’d be back doing the same old things.

However, not long ago I downloaded a paper by Nigel Botterill (a successful UK entrepreneur) and read a number of suggestions, many of which I’d seen before. But, on this occasion, he put it in such a way that one thing stood out – ’90 MINUTES PRODUCTIVITY’.

The one thing that all the really successful people have in common is that they all do about 90 minutes work before anyone else starts their working day.

It’s that simple; that hour and a half is their most productive time where they can concentrate on money making activities.

I’m not an early riser by nature but I am committed to making my business a massive success. That motivation is stronger than my desire to stay in bed.

I’m in my third week of getting to the office at 7.30am and it’s really working well. I’m getting through more of the list of tasks that add value and leaving work at a decent time with a sense of progress and satisfaction. I’m less stressed and nicer to be with too – bonus.

My suggestion to you, if you’re serious about growing rich, is not to work harder but work earlier for 90 minutes every day.

Is Everyone Else is Doing Better Than You?

Computer Key - 'Help'

Where is the ‘HELP’ key

It’s easy to think that everyone else is doing better than you are. Many people have come to me to talk about the difficulties they’re having at the moment.

Yes, business conditions are tough at the moment, the economy may well be growing but it seems that trading conditions are as hard as they’ve ever been.

But you can only feel your own pain, so it seems that it’s worse for you than anyone else. It’s easy to look at other businesses and say to yourself, “It’s easy for them, they’ve got…” the reasons you come up with are countless.

The reality is that even the biggest companies are having massive problem too, let’s look at the evidence.

The world’s biggest ecommerce company continues to make losses, Amazon sells in huge volume but recently announced yet another loss making quarter.

Tesco, previously the most successful grocery retailer in the UK forced it’s Chief Executive to step down after falling sales and profits warnings.

Take a look at ASOS’ website and you’ll see massive discounts on almost everything on offer; this aggressive marketing has been running for some time to maintain revenue – but at the cost of profits. ASOS has issued two profit warnings in 2014 so far.

The main reason cited by most of the companies is competition; reducing prices in the marketplace has made it harder to make a profit even if you’re selling lots.

There are two lessons I’m seeing here; the first is that virtually every business is finding it difficult at the moment – so don’t think it’s just you.

Secondly, reducing prices isn’t the answer, all that does is cut your profits and make it even harder. Plus, it damages the market for your goods or services.

So what is the answer?

That’s easy, maintain (or even increase) your prices, do more advertising and marketing but change your message to sell BENEFITS of buying from you.

That may seem a glib statement that’s easy to say but difficult to implement – if that’s the case get in touch and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Start by commenting on this post.

mands-shotIn my long experience of building ecommerce businesses I’ve often come up against designers who ‘want to do something different’.

It’s a nice idea, or so it seems.

However, I’ve often said that there are no prizes in ecommerce for making it difficult for your customers.

Marks and Spencer’s new website design is a good example of why keeping it simple works better than flashy design – their site is failing them.

Ultimately, sales are more important than design awards when you’re in business.

And this is the lesson that M&S have learnt having had an 8% drop in sales value since February 2014.

So next time you have your website redesigned, I recommend every two to three years,  ask friends and selected customers to test it for you before setting it live.

Remember, if you hear comments like ‘it looks great’ more than ‘it’s really simple to use’ then you may need to have a rethink.

1E logo

New 1Ecommerce Logo

I’ve been reflecting on my business since I started in 2003; there have been a lot of changes since then – some have been for the better some less so.

The website I ‘inherited’ from the original developers of Shopfitter.com was a bit basic but was probably OK in its time. One of the first things I did was redevelop it – then again a couple of years later.

But on the fourth rebuild we saw a big leap in traffic that increased rankings and visitors tremendously – that was in 2006. Sadly, fashions and technology in web design mean that it was looking a bit tired by 2008 so a new design was implemented but without the sort of jump we’d seen a couple of years previously.

As with any major change it’s important to give it time to settle down, refine components and work continuously on the content. It still didn’t help grow us any further so we rebuilt again in 2012 – this time with an inbuilt directory for our users to add their website entries too.

The next change came in July 2013 when we altered the business name to 1Ecommerce and with it came a completely new logo and look and feel – along with a new website. Once again we didn’t see a big increase as we had done in 2006.

So here we are mid way through 2014 and we’ve done a lot of soul searching, listened to many people’s opinions, sought a variety of perspectives and redesigned our branding and website once again – this is iteration number eight.

We’ve had a load of positive feedback with this new version – which is gratifying :)

The point I want to make here is that if something doesn’t work the way you’d hoped then you have to change something; and keep changing until you get the results you want.

It will never be perfect because the one thing you can be sure of is that things change – and your also business has to keep pace.

Keep working on the different facets of your business and improve it incrementally – all these small successes will add up to bring the huge rewards and successes you strive for – giving up is the quickest path to failure.

Cheers

Simon