Future Proofing A Website

By Rupert Rowe

‘Future-proofing’…….. What a ridiculous term.

If you want to cut to the chase and jump straight into Diffusion’s tips on future-proofing a website, then skip the next few paragraphs to “FOR THOSE WHO DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MONKEY ON MY BACK”, because there is a monkey on my back and I want to get it off!

‘Future-proofing’ is often taken to mean making sure that something will not become ineffective or meaningless in the future.

As a small cog in a digital agency, I’d expect that everything we do would be in the interest of maintaining relevance and functionality down the line. There is no doubt we all – in our own particular fields -strive to create things that will stand the test of time, however, this is far easier said than done.

If you find yourself talking to an agency who promises you a ‘future-proof’ website, as I have heard from several people speaking to agencies in recent months, then proceed with caution as there is no way of definitively ‘future-proofing’ anything in the digital world.

The speed at which tech moves makes ‘future-proofing a website’ an almost impossible task and I believe, is one of those terms that’s used to pull the wool over potential clients’ eyes.

The reality is that what is in now, will likely be ‘sooo last year’ tomorrow, or in a year or so.

This is not for lack of ambition, creativity or skill – I work with some of the most talented designers, coders and UX-ers in the industry, and they’re all at the forefront of innovation within their respective fields, but their own ability in itself make their own ideas hard to future-proof against.

Trying to ensure that a product or system is future proof is often a fruitless labor. While certain aspects of a system remain fairly consistent - such as the materials used to build it – the design and capabilities are bound to be outdone as improved versions are released
Techopedia

 

 

(Admittedly, for someone who doesn’t like the phrase ‘future-proofing’, it might seem odd that I’ve mentioned it so frequently in such a short space of time.

I apologise. I’m actually a SEO and ‘future-proofing a website’ is where the search volume in this particular case is, and as an SEO I’d be going against my better judgement not using it.

This is not to say that the content isn’t relevant – it absolutely is! Sorry. Again. (I’m also British and have the tendency to apologise too much. Sor…..hmmmm)

 

Making your website future-proof

This all said, those of us who have worked in this game for a substantial period of time can see patterns form and make relatively sound judgements as to what will be happening over the coming year or two. From there we can attempt to make a product or service that will stand the test of time –  in our case, a website.

 

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MONKEY ON MY BACK

(Long rant over – I apologise.)

In late 2018 into early 2019, as expected, we’ve continued to see a substantial move towards mobile first, the terrifying rise of AI continues, marketplace eCommerce is becoming more popular for big brands, the move towards voice-search continues, Google’s ‘E.A.T’ core algo update is becoming clearer, and so on. This is not to say that AI won’t be restricted down the line, or Google changes its algorithm again (it will), or voice search becomes defunct, but currently, this is where the trends are heading.

When it comes to web design/development there’re four key parts; the design, the user experience (UX), search engine optimisation (SEO) and the code. Each evolves at its own pace, however, each has its own intrinsic impact on the other elements. So, without further unnecessary to do….

CODE

You know what – as an SEO I’m not going to pretend to be an authority in this area. Coders are a rare breed of people and only they can fully explain the intrinsic world of computer language and more importantly, provide an insight into where this alien place is heading.

But if you’re looking for a quick fix then our friends at Forbes have written a concise judgement on where they think code is heading.

DESIGN

Whilst I know what I like and what I do not, my design experience doesn’t extend beyond my doodling, so again I must defer this to someone whose skills revolve a little less around a bic and notepad.

This said, I will say one thing…

Why are blogs posts often visually so dull? (This one included!)

For what’s worth I believe more attention needs to be paid to the design of blog posts. They need to be pretty (for want of a better word), engaging, even encouraging…. They’re often the first page new visitors land on your site and forgive a well-worn expression, ‘first impressions count’, whether you like it or not.

User Experience

In danger of sounding like a broken record, there are people who are better placed to talk about this and so, once again, one of my colleagues will contribute to this down the line.

 

 Search Engine Optimisation

 

Remarkably I’m not going to deflect this part onto one of my colleagues. No, I have arrived in my little world of expertise. So the following is an overview of areas that I believe will continue to be in focus over the next few years, or not as the case may be!

This is less of a ‘how to’, and more of a commentary of areas that I believe will be dominating SEO for the foreseeable future.

Voice Search

 

There is a lot of chatter around voice search and whilst people are starting to look into optimising their websites for voice queries, traction, as yet, has been quite slow as webmasters are being quite tentative in saying when they think it will be a front and centre consideration of SEO and indeed, UX.

Leading mobile, digital, online market research specialists Juniper predicts that 8bn voice assistants will be in use by 2023. Despite this, however, it is still unclear how much voice-search will be used as so far we’ve only seen a few highly specific types of questions being asked.

 

Where have we seen voice search gain traction so far?

 

Local search: Where is the nearest chemist? What is the weather like?

Regularly brought products that are easy to reorder and don’t require visual scrutiny so to speak: I.e. “Hey Siri, buy Aerial washing up powder”

Historical questions: i.e. How old was Mohammed Ali when he fought George Foreman?

Music: Alexa? What song was last on shuffle?

 

Beyond these sorts of questions, well, the jury is still out. Will voice search takes over the world as has been predicted?

I’m not so sure.

But once we get over the slightly uncomfortable feeling of shopping through voice search, which is inevitable, there is no doubt that those websites who have optimised for it will benefit greatly.

One of the focuses of the industry is how to design well for voice-based user interfaces (VUI). Once again, as a humble SEO I’m going to leave this one for a (VUI) designer to tackle, but essentially when designing for VUI, you’re using sounds or lights rather than images. Think of the beep and blue blinking light when Alexa activated – that has been designed by a VUID. (I made that acronym up I think – Voice User Interface Designer, I think it’s a winner!)

Facebook Pixels — Re-marketing

 

This obviously depends on your business and what products/services you are selling, and to who, but increasingly people are less likely to convert on the first visit to a website.

Pixel remarketing is nothing new, especially for websites whose products take a long time to sell, i.e. three or four visits before conversion. How many visits did it take you to a website before that favourite pair of trousers you are now proudly wearing? (No, well you know what I mean.)

Whilst social shop fronts are increasing, in other words, where people enter your store/website, organic search is still is the biggest driver of traffic, generally speaking, and the cheapest in terms of ROI.

Getting people to convert at visit #1 is tricky and, so as to not lose this potential customer,  a pixel allows you to track your visitors and market to them down the line.

Again, nothing new.

What is, however, is that we’re seeing SEO KPIs move towards volume being the most important metric (quality traffic of course), NOT conversions. The conversion KPIs fall under the remit of those who are heading up the remarketing. Once again this depends largely on the type of website but for most eCommerce sites this is increasingly the case.

 

 

Marketplace Optimisation

 

With products and services increasingly being delivered directly from websites to the SERPs (search engine results pages), optimising your site to ensure search engines are able to capture these products is increasingly important, especially as more people are converting directly in the SERPs.

Many SEOs argue that this is bad because the website in question is not receiving any of the traffic hits, thus potentially undermining its authority. However, the reality for most retailers is that, if they can sell directly on the SERPs then they should.

pursuit of excellent web design

Site Speed

 

We are impatient.

That is pretty much all I need to say about this.

But just to drive home how impatient we really are, here are a few stats from 2018:

  • 46% of users say waiting for a page to load is the most frustrating thing to them online.
  • It takes a shocking average of 15 seconds for mobile web pages to load
  • With websites that load in less than 4.5 seconds there is a 70% increase in session duration
  • A 100 millisecond delay causes a 7% drop in conversion
  • 79% of shoppers say that if they experience something negative on a webpage they will not return to that site – even bad grammar, so I’m buggered
  • Pages that load in under 2.5 seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%. This increase to over 38% if the load time takes longer than 5 seconds

 

 

Mobile First

 

It’s here and it’s here to stay.

If you aren’t already, then you should be prioritising mobile over desktop, or at least giving them the same amount of attention during the design phase.

Also, and forgive me for perhaps stating the obvious, it’s always worth bearing in mind that the design you implement on desktop, might take longer to load on mobile.

Read our article on how to build accelerated mobile pages 

 

Authority

 

Not page authority as in Moz’s mectric. No, Authority as in – are you an authority or expert in your field?

As has been crudely demonstrated in this post, don’t write about things you don’t know about.

Since Google’s medic update in 2018 (although there is still speculation as to the impact of it), being an expert or authority in your field is a significant ranking factor.

This doesn’t only apply to authors of blog posts/articles, your website as a whole should have a direction and theme that needs to be maintained if you are to see yourself move up the rankings. Nothing new again, but with search engines improving on understanding the meaning of their searchers’ queries, people with authority around the subject will naturally benefit. So, essentially, don’t write a load of tosh to try and boost you up the rankings. Keep it relevant. Keep it simple.

An example of this is that many people claim that post the update their rankings fell, but when they simply attributed their blog posts to the ‘expert’ who wrote it (I’m sure many fib), their rankings recovered.

We’ll write more about this in a later article.

 

Artificial Intelligence

 

This falls more towards UX but, improving your customer journey by putting relevant products in front of them more quickly, will naturally increase dwell time and the number of pages per session, both of which are taken into account in search rankings.

There are countless new softwares and plugins that can be used to improve the functionality and usability of a website, most of which are designed with one thing in mind – increasing conversion.

Read more about out top artificial intelligence apps to improve conversion.

CONTENT

Content has been and will continue to be at the forefront of SEO for decades to come. Who produces this content however seems to be changing. Whether it’s traditional copywriters, SEO writers or journalists, the role seems to be changing with the times.

Over the years UX has become an increasingly important aspect in web design and development. The importance of understanding customer flow and engagement is paramount to success in the ever more fickle world of eCommerce.

In 2019 though, UX seems to be pushing the boundaries further, and with a futuristic sounding topic like ‘future-proofing’, it only makes sense that the roles, or names of roles, evolve alongside.

Let me introduce you to the UX-writer.

(I sense a lot of tut-tutting scepticism. Or it could just be me….)

User experience is all about flow and encouraging a user to move down a page or through a website and towards the point of conversion.

Previously copywriters were responsible for creating the copy to fill in the gaps in the most engaging and entertaining (where appropriate) way, and indeed it still is, people are just creating new niches to try and upsell to their clients in order to add a little more to the profit margin.

But this new role may well be short lived I’m afraid. It seems before too long, robots and AI will be out-Shakespearing Shakespeare.

Security

 

Probably one of the more important areas and I’ve actually written an extensive post on this for another website. So if your nerves can take it – read more about keeping your eCommerce website secure.

We have to recognise change is coming and in doing so, we can build websites in such a way that they can absorb changes as quickly as possible.
Author

Conclusion

 

To quickly recap, whilst I wanted to offer a very brief insight into what we expect to come, my main point is that things change and change quickly, especially when it comes to design, functionality and programming. These are spaces that move astronomically quickly and this should always be taken into account when working in these areas.

We have to recognise change is coming and in doing so, we can build websites in such a way that they can absorb changes as quickly as possible.

I fully appreciate that the list above doesn’t cover the half of it, but if you think I’m way off the mark then please get in touch through the button below.

If you’d like to chat about how Diffusion Digital can ‘future-proof’ (grrrr) your website, then also follow the button below. As a leading eCommerce agency, we specialise in giving brands a digital presence that they can be proud of and their customers recognise and enjoy engaging with for years to come.

All your questions on AMP answered

By Rupert Rowe

 

What is AMP?

 

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Page(s) and on the very basic level, think of it as a stripped-down version of a full-on web page designed to perform better on mobile and non-desktop devices.

AMP was an initiative by Google and was launched to be a competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles.*

Since its launch in 2015, several of the biggest publication and tech companies such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and WordPress have adopted the technology with the AMP version of their website and others beginning to show up within the Google search results page in and around 2016.

In fact, AMP has grown in popularity so much and so fast that in 2017, only a year after AMP pages started to become commonplace, Adobe reported that AMP accounted for 7% of all webtraffic for the largest publishers in USA.

AMP mock up example

*Startup Grind has an interesting article on this subject suggesting that part of the reason AMP was launched by Google is to combat the rising use of ad-blockers (almost 20% of US internet users use one now) which means much less ad revenue via its Google Adsense platform. Amongst other reasons, AMP is meant to be a solution to improve the user experience on mobile devices which had taken a hit by unobtrusive ads which led to the rise of ad blockers in the first place.

 

Why is AMP important?

 

AMP is important as it helps web pages load faster on mobile devices which means happier users. And happier users means potentially more sales for eCommerce businesses, more leads for businesses and more page views and therefore ad revenue for publishers

 

Standard format vs Accelerated Mobile Pages

 

Is AMP important for SEO?

It certainly is and for several reasons, here’s just a few:

First, as the traffic from mobile devices continues to rise and having overtaken desktop traffic a few years ago, there’s a very good chance that a majority of the visitors to your website are now using their mobile devices to view your content (heck, I’m guessing you even?) so the more user friendly an experience you can deliver to them the better it is for your own business.

And, in case it wasn’t obvious as to why, the engagement of your website is a ranking factor which means the more your audience engages with your content (whether that is filling out a form, viewing a video, reading a blog post) the more Google sees this as a sign that your website is better than others and rewards you by way of higher rankings.

Second, Google switched to a mobile-first index almost 2 years ago now which means that the content on your website is going to be gauged from the mobile version of Google’s index first and therefore even if you think mobile users are less important to your business than desktop, you still want to make sure your site works just as flawlessly on mobiles.

 

The importance of website speed

 

This graphic perfectly illustrates the impact of speed on revenue for the biggest publishers and eCommerce businesses. 

Finally, even though AMP itself isn’t an official ranking factor (yet), there’s a very good chance that it will have a direct or indirect impact to your rankings because AMP pages are built for speed which is proven to improve user experience and therefore ROI so anything that helps with this has to be a good thing.

 

Some AMP myths

 

  1. AMP isn’t just for news websites. Any website that can benefit from improved speed and loading times can use AMP to improve performance. NoBroker which is a property rental company in India that matches potential renters with tenants is one such company that experienced an increase of 10% time on site and 20% lower Bounce Rates since they incorporated AMP.
  2. AMP isn’t just for Ecommerce websites (anymore). It is perhaps true that when AMP was launched, it was aimed at media companies and publishers primarily. However, 3 years is a long time in the world of tech and a lot has changed since then – several Ecommerce companies including Myntra which is one of the worlds largest Ecommerce retailers based in India have benefited since they incorporated AMP.
  3. Less bells-and-whistles isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we discussed above, part of the way that AMP sites work is by doing away with a lot of the effects and transitions but several studies and polls carried out would suggest many users actually prefer this, especially on mobile devices.
  4. Don’t forget to verify your site with Google Search Console

 

 

AMP for WordPress?

 

If you’re thinking about implementing AMP for your WordPress website the best thing to do would be to contact a professional firm to do this for you.

For those of you who would like to try this for yourself however, here are a few quick steps to get you started:

  1. Install a tried and tested AMP plugin such as AMP or AMP for WordPress  
  2. Most AMP plugins will give you a few customisation options so select the ones you think are best
  3. Test if pages are working by testing them by simply adding a ‘amp’ at the end e.g. http://example.com/2016/10/my-blog-post/amp/
  4. Don’t forget to verify your site with Google Search Console

 

Google Search Console amp

 

Are there any downsides to AMP?

 

Actually yes, there are a few cons to AMP websites that you should be aware of.

First, the improvements in speed is a result of stripping away some of the bells and whistles of a web page which also means you will lose some of the “oomph” you might get from the full-on version.

Then there’s the question of ease of implementation (or lack of it).

Building validated, fully-functional AMP pages isn’t exactly a cakewalk and since the technology is new as well, putting together the right resources and then executing it can take time and cost money.

Third, although Google Analytics is supported with AMP pages, it does require a different setup which means adding a piece of code and tag manually to all your AMP pages and not getting this right might mean your AMP site data not showing up in GA properly at best and having a negative impact to your mobile rankings at worst.

 

—-

 

If you’ve already jumped on the AMP bandwagon and not seeing your pages yet, there’s a good chance you haven’t configured them properly or they don’t conform to the standards set by Google. Only valid AMP pages are going to show up and you can check for this by using the AMP HTML Web Validator, the Chrome or Opera Extension or through a more automated process such as a cron job to make sure all content is valid.

Of course, if all else fails, Diffusion Digital will always be happy to help!

How Klevu Can Change Your eCommerce Experience

By Gabby Coughlan

 

Do you ever find yourself searching for something in a store online, yet no matter what keywords you type in, your search results just aren’t doing it for you?

I’m sure the majority of you reading this have experienced this frustration and thought “if only the search bar could understand what I’m looking for…”

Enter Klevu.

Klevu is an AI powered search integration tool, which incorporates a range of features to help consumers find exactly what they want when they search.

We had the honour of meeting Klevu’s UK Sales and Partnerships Manager, Claudia Ditriwho, who shed some light on their personalised search integration.

As a full-service digital agency, we were deeply impressed by the opportunities and competitive advantage Klevu provides for online retailers, so we thought we’d share what we learnt with you here.

 

What exactly does Klevu do?

 

Let’s explore some of Klevu’s core, and exactly they help to improve conversion, UX and the overall functionality of search for e-Commerce stores.

 

1. Machine Learning

 

Klevu’s search offering uses machine learning to monitor consumer behaviour i.e. what are users searching for to generate optimal search results that fulfil specific user needs.

Not only does this improve the user journey, but it’s also a great way for e-Commerce retailers to promote certain products or areas of their site. For example, a fashion retailer such as Zimmermann have invested in Klevu to integrate a ‘popular search’ dropdown that appears when the user first clicks on the search bar:

 

zimmermann ecommerce website personalised search suggestions

 

That said, Klevu is a very effective way of giving online merchants the opportunity to showcase a certain range of products to their everyday consumer through suggestions, which has been found to boost conversion rates.

 

 

2. It’s customisable

 

Another amazing thing about Klevu is its customisable search results page, thanks to its open CSS code. This means that the page will be aligned with the overall website brand and layout, so when the user hits ‘search’, they don’t feel like they’ve been redirected to another website with a list of their search results. This lends itself to a seamless user journey.

Klevu uses its technology to rank the products by preference of the online merchant i.e. if you want to push conversions for a particular product, Klevu can apply scores to raise its position on search results.

 

3. Content search results

 

Not only does Klevu generate search results associated with the keywords you type into the search bar, but it also pulls content relating to those keywords. For example, OSPREY (another Klevu client) suggests more than just products when you search “keyring”. The search dropdown offers suggestions relating directly to those keywords, other pages around the site that contain the same keywords, related categories, and of course the products:

 

 

osprey london search results content suggestions pages category products

 

4. Natural Language Processing

 

But that’s not all, the search tool doesn’t necessarily identify content and products that include the exact keywords you enter. Klevu uses Natural Language Processing to pull keywords that are similar to or often associated with the searched term. For example, the search results for “keyring” generate products that not only contain that specific keyword, but also products that contain similar features such as “tassels”.

Similarly, Klevu uses its intelligence to piece together broken sentences e.g. a search term such as “garden sofa” will produce search results that include synonyms to the keywords you’ve entered, such as “outdoor furniture”.

 

osprey keyring keyword search results bags tassel

 

Are you a fashion e-commerce store? Check out how we can help!

 

5. Analytics

Just as important as implementing a personalised search tool onto your online retail store, is to monitor its performance. Klevu offers analytics for its customers, which allows merchants to optimise keywords, oversee the keywords that are driving product search and conversion data. Additionally, you can integrate your Google Analytics account into Klevu, so you can manage your analytics all in one place.

So, there was a really brief summary of just a handful of Klevu’s unique features. Are you a fashion brand looking to optimise your site? Then why not check out more of what Klevu can offer you by clicking here.