What are the Google SERP features in 2021

As we continue to move into a digital-first world, businesses – old and new – are increasingly asking: ‘How do I rank my website higher on Google?’ ‘What should I be doing to gain more traffic to my website?’ ‘ What are other websites doing to rank higher than me?’

There are no simple answers to these questions and for different businesses, there are different opportunities and strategies depending on the type of business and content online.

One thing is sure though, and that is the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are ever more dynamic and colourful, with Google seemingly releasing new features on a monthly basis.

So, a good place to start is by looking at what all of the elements in Google SERPs are, what triggers these features to be shown, and how your content can be optimised to stand a chance being featured.

 

What are the basic SERP features?

Depending on the keyword or phrase that is being searched, the various elements that might appear on a SERP will vary depending on how Google percieves the search intent – in other words, is the intent informational or transactional.

Organic Listings

The most simple and well known element in the SERP results are the standard organic listings that show titles, descriptions and URLs.

Titles: 

The standard title tag that appears in search results is usually pulled from the HTML title of the web page. On average the SERP will show the standard ten blue links per page (which are the organic results that are generated from your SEO efforts). It is essential that your website SEO aims to get you onto the first search page, since more than 70% of search engine users being more likely to click on one of the top 5 suggestions in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

What can I do to optimise my titles?

  • Try and include keywords within the title itself (where appropriate).
  • Include the brand name at the end of the title tag
  • Ensure it’s embedded correctly in the HTML
  • Maximum of 55 characters

Meta Descriptions

A meta description (also known as a meta description attribute or tag) is a short piece of text that sits below the HTML title tag. Overall it summarises the contents of a webpage for the benefit of users and search engines. With the meta description being effectively the first line of content a user reads on your site, it is definitely worth spending some time on and even optimising!

What can I do to optimise my meta description?

  • Include the title or pages keyword if appropriate.
  • Usually at the end of the description try and include a call to action, for example ‘Read More!’ or possibly ‘Click here’. This may seem needless however it can improve your click-through rate.
  • Make sure the meta description matches the content of your page and try and stay clear of merely duplicating a meta description for all your pages.
  • Maximum of 155 characters (This takes into account the maximum characters that display in mobile results).

Search Engine URL

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is simply the unique web address given to a web resource on a search engine, and in theory each valid URL points to an individual resource (such as a HTML page, a CSS document, an image, etc). A URL should be a clear indication of what is on that webpage or resource, should be easily readable for the user and search engine and clearly highlight the way the web pages are structured on the website.

What can be done to optimise my URL?

  • Make sure the URL is to the point and easily readable
  • Include relevant keywords within the URL where fits
  • If possible try and highlight what the resource actually is e.g what the page on a website is for

Those are the basics features that appear on any SERP and they’re present on nearly every search enquiry you do.

What is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a “quick answer” that summarizes the answer to the search query, pulled from a relevant trustworthy web page. There are 3 types of featured snippets varying on the type of search query and the format of the answer it will produce: paragraph snippets (the most common type with around 70% of all featured snippets being in this format), list snippets, and table snippets. Snippets are displayed above the organic search results, effectively positioning the website in the top position on that results page and considering the snippet displays the source page’s title tag and URL it can definitely have potential to benefit your website in terms of organic traffic.

What can be done to appear in a featured snippet?

  • Ensure your content is structured using logical heading markup.
  • Optimise the meta data on your site.
  • Where possible, write in short and well-structured sentences and paragraphs.
example of a Featured Snippet from Google Search

What are Shopping Results?

Shopping results also display above the organic results. These are paid/sponsored results called Product Listing Ads or PLAs. Typically they’re displayed in carousel format and include images, price information, product name, retailers, brand, review stars and link.

What can be done to optimise a shopping result?

  • Include relevant keywords within the add titles.
  • These are paid for results and require additional implementation and media spend to appear in.

What is a Google Site Link or ‘6 pack’ result?

If a user searches for an exact business name or domain (where Google can clearly determine that there’s definite brand intent), up to 6 sitelinks might be displayed under the primary listing. This is an extremely useful asset for brands as not only does it make the pages more accessible for their users but if all 6 sitelinks are displayed, they’ll show in 2 columns, effectively taking up the top 5 organic positions on the SERP, therefore pushing any competition further down the results page.

What can be done to optimise for site links to appear?

  • Ensure all page titles and meta descriptions are optimised with keywords where it is appropriate.
  • Increase internal linking to the key pages of your website.
Example of Google's Organic Site Links

What is the Google Image Pack?

Image packs can appear at any organic position, and they show a horizontal row of images that click through to a Google Images search. If Google determines that visual content would be a valuable answer to the query, an image pack could be displayed. It can be a great way to gain attention to your website if you have visual aspects you feel your users may be interested in seeing.

What can be done to appear in an image pack?

  • Ensure images are marked up correctly in alt-tags.
  • Include keywords within the image’s URL / filename to make it easier for the search engine to distinguish what it is.
Example of a Google Image carousel

A good example of taking up as much space in the SERPs as possible for branded search, shown here for the Diffusion client Paper London which owns all of the above-the-fold listings including, Shopping Ads, Text Ads and the Organic result with a ‘six pack’ extension.

At the very least, businesses should be trying to own all of the listings on page 1 for branded search.

Example of an optimised listing in the search results for a branded search with the brand listing shopping ads, text ads and a full 6 pack organic listing.

What are Google Knowledge Panels? 

Knowledge cards typically appear at the top of the results page, they are similar to featured snippets however instead of pulling through the answer from an authoritative webpage, they tend to be information that’s in the public domain. Overall the information within a knowledge panel is pulled from various sources, including Google data partnerships, human-edited sites like Wikipedia, and data from the Google site index. While you can’t target a generic knowledge panel with your SEO efforts, you will be able to influence what shows up in the knowledge panel for a brand search for your own company (or your client’s company).

What are Google Top Stories?

If the search query is broad or not easily answered with a featured snippet, Google sometimes displays in-depth top stories. Three articles appear in the block, and while they look almost exactly like the standard organic results, the block only “counts” for one organic position. These articles are almost always articles from huge publishers with massive authority which would be very difficult to compete with because of the amount of page authority they have.

What can be done to appear in a Google article widget?

  • Trying to compete with articles from an SEO perspective will be very difficult because of the amount of page authority news publishers have. However if applicable to your website you can possibly reach out to one of these news publishers / bloggers to include you in one of their articles.

What is a Google Local Pack / Google My Business? 

If the search query has local intent, Google will display a local pack in the SERP. The local pack feature takes up around half of the results page on Google and is even more space-dominating on mobile. The local pack includes a map with three locations, with address and phone number information displayed for each location. Depending on the type of local query, the pack will also display links for directions, the website and pricing information. The difference between this and a local teaser is that local packs don’t include reviews.

What can be done to appear in a local pack?

  • Get your business set up on Google My Business with the correct name, address and location.
  • Keep information up to date whether that be a change in anything listed or add additional information (e.g if you have multiple locations).

What is Google’s “People Also Ask”?

People Also Ask is a selection of questions related to a search query based on what Google determines could be a related question. The positioning of these on the results page can vary depending on the particular search although they generally appear on the page with Featured Snippets. Each question has a drop-down icon that includes a short answer along with a link for any further research.

What can be done to appear on People Also Ask?

  • Optimise by researching the questions around the keywords you are aiming to rank for and architect your content based around those People Also Ask questions.
  • Include FAQ modules marked up with structured data
  • Use clear headers so Google understands the content on your page.

Here at Diffusion our Digital Marketing team can help you optimise your website through a variety of different techniques both paid and organic, that will help increase your search presence. In our next article, we will look into how to monitor your website’s appearance in search reults. If you have any questions before then, get in touch with one of our team below 🙂

What you need to know about the 2021 Google Page Experience Algorithm Update

Whilst Google has declared it will not be rolling out any more core updates to its algorithm in 2020, it’s time to prepare for what stands to be a bit of a game-changer to website rankings in 2021, with the introduction of the Page Experience core algorithm update.

 

The new google algorithm update 2021, In Google’s own words:

“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”
Google

“Make the web more delightful” is what really stands out here and as with previous big core algorithm updates such as BERT, Penguin and E.A.T, again, Google is placing emphasis on understanding the user and delivering them not only what they want, but what they will seemingly ‘delight’ in. 

Google Algorith update - image of Google search in browser

 The page experience update was supposed to be pushed live in mid 2020 however, with the world pushed to the edge of sanity already, and with hundreds of businesses rushing to move their proposition online, they have decided to give us time to make sure we’re set. 

So it seems that after many years of speculation, Google does have a heart when it comes to releasing algorithm updates.

This is what they said:

“A note on timing: We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months' notice before they’re rolled out. We're providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.”
Source: Google May 28 2020

Google has given us due notice:

 

“Today we’re announcing that the page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021” (Nov 10 2020)

 

The clock is ticking and with this much lead time you can bet that the negative impact on websites that don’t meet Google’s Page Experience standards will be substantial

So, what is this page experience update all about?

 

In May 2020, Google Chrome announced the new ‘Core Web Vitals’ that many of us picked up on when it was pushed live in Google Search Console. This new set of metrics aims to give site owners insights into the user experience of their website by tracking metrics such as page speed, responsiveness and visual stability.

 

 

Here are the main metrics now highlighted in Google Search Console:

 

Largest Contentful Paint

 

As has long been the case, websites should aim to achieve an LCP (load time) of less than 2.5s

Google Pagespeed Insights tool has been around for a while and is the benchmark for checking your sites load speed. However there are many variables to take into account such as server and location, as well as the platform your website is hosted on.

It is important to bear in mind that different platforms have their limitations when it comes to page load times. For example, many custom sites will often score an average result in page speed insights, and this is fairly well documented and even the biggest brands out there (see Penguin below) who currently dominate search, struggle with poor site speed. There comes a point where a compromise is necessary because those custom sites that really do take into account user experience, often use several plugins and it is these plugins that will affect page load speeds. It will be interesting to see how these sites fare when the new update is rolled out.

 

Screenshot of Page Speed Insights - how to prepare for the Google Algorith Update

EXPERT TIP:

It is absolutely worth getting your site speed as quick as possible now. However, it is widely recognised that some platforms’ websites run slower than others. For example, using several plugins on Shopify can have a negative impact on page load times. But this may be the same for your competitors. It is worth benchmarking your page speed compared to that of your competitors around you in the results for specific keywords, as well as against those who are a few pages beneath you, or above. This will give you an idea of whether you need to do in order to defend your position from a site speed perspective, or you can continue as you are with caution. Once the algorithm rolls out, see how rankings have changed and which sites are ranking top – what is their site speed compared to yours? 

 

Interactivity (First Input Delay FID):

 

This is a metric to measure the load responsiveness of your web pages. It helps evaluate how a user will engage with pages that are unresponsive – a low FID shows that the page is usable. A low FID is considered anything less than 100ms.

 

Stability

 

Everyone has experienced websites that shift when you try and click a button and you end up checking out, or losing your basket, right at the crucial moment. The Cumulative Layout Shift check, assesses how much your content moves during load and as a user scrolls down a page, this is a direct check on the responsiveness of a website. The number to aim for is 0.1 or less.

 

EXPERT TIP:

Interactivity and stability are both areas that need to be looked at by developers. If your website is built using a template on a well-known platform (Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify), most of these areas should be ticked off. However, if you’ve gone down a more custom approach, you may run into some issues and it is worth getting your developers to have a look if any problems are being flagged.

 

Alongside these innocent-sounding tracking metrics (hmm?), Google is also including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS and non-intrusive interstitials as part of the latest ranking factor.

Mobile Friendly

This is an oldie but a goodie – is your website responsive? Check mobile-friendliness here

Increasingly users across all industries are using several sizes of screen a day to interact with content online and Google wants to ensure that websites are delivering their customers the best possible experience when they’re on the move, as well as when they’re at work or at home.

Safe-browsing

Google wants to drive users to websites that aren’t going to attack them, so it checks website to ensure that there are no potentially damaging downloadables or dangerous software. You can check your website to see if there are any suspected files in the Security Issues report.

HTTPS

Another factor that’s been on our minds for some time, but it remains equally important as it did when it was first introduced. Ensure your customers’ data is safe!

Interstitials

Hmm, this one is a topic for debate and whilst Google’s guidelines are clear, this can dramatically affect how people engage in websites. For example, many websites have country and language selector popups once you land on their website – this is within Google’s guidelines. What Google is trying to knuckle down on are those aggressive salesy ads and popups that frustrate users. The guidelines state that the size of the popup or interstitial is a key factor so this is one to watch. Read Google’s guidelines on interstitials for further clarification and we’ll be writing another article on this soon so sign up for update.

Expert Tip:

Don’t be too aggressive in pushing discounts and signups as soon as people land on your website. Give them time to browse and then move in with the more disruptive marketing tactics.

What’s more, as Google has done in the past, it suggests that it may even add icons in the search results that show what the experience of the page is like. As we know from previous trials they’ve run in the results, getting the nod from Google and having these icons displayed next to your listings will increase the click-through rates to your pages.

Covid has held the world in submission for the majority of 2020, and finding positives are few and far between. However, with the enforcement of national lockdowns, the shift to digital has accelerated and many businesses have been busy creating their digital platforms for the first time.

This is brilliant as even digital skeptics are reaping the benefits from their online offering and they will continue to do so once retail returns to normal.

As many are finding, the move to digital presents a steep learning curve and the competition to achieve visibility is often fierce, but people have been able to sustain their livelihoods and start generating incomes online in a year that is largely worth forgetting. Google has recognised this move to digital, and to speculate on Google’s feeling, they understand that many people are feeling slightly downtrodden owing to the current climate. As a result of this, or maybe by coincidence, this ‘grace period’ has given us all an opportunity to improve the way we sell online.

Feel free to get in touch with one of the Diffusion team if you have any questions about any of the above, we’re happy to help.

 

The Time is Now for Purposeful Content & Brand Integrity

by James Doughty

With businesses of all sizes struggling to adapt to a rapid change of pace and shifting consumer needs, marketing teams are faced with the challenge of deciding where best to apply their efforts and budgets. 

Now more than ever, the saying ‘Content is King’ rings true. It’s vital that you keep up engagement with your customers and that your brand offers up digital content that is unique,  meaningful and above all useful for your audience. 

Brands will be judged by the way in which they communicate during this time of crisis, so a well thought-through and sensitive digital content strategy is absolutely vital for keeping your valued customers on-side.  

 

1. What do you really want to say?

Take a step back and think about the message your brand is putting out into the world and your digital footprint. Are you communicating your services effectively and with integrity? Is your content purposeful and does it inspire engagement? Is your tone of voice consistent and truly reflective of your values?

Now is the perfect time to review the content of your website and ensure that it is still meaningful for your users as their world view and buying behaviours continue to shift.

Above all, avoid content that is self-serving. Your users want to know that you stand by their side during these complicated times and any ‘hard sell’ is bound to go down like a lead balloon. 

 

Additionally, do not fall into the trap of thinking your content needs to be crammed full of keywords. It doesn’t. Keywords can help define the topic, however your content should be written with the reader in mind – not search engines. If the article is well written it will be shared, linked to, liked on social media and this is how content campaigns drive SEO value.

 

2. Build your online community

With people spending even more time scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, they are bombarded with negative messages that build stress and anxiety. 

As a respectful brand, you need to show your customers that you will stand by their side through thick and thin. Post useful, insightful content that gives them hope and reassurance. How can you apply your particular knowledge or expertise to help your audience navigate these uncertain times? 

Leveraging Social Media will no doubt be key to continued customer engagement, but avoid self-serving posts at all costs. Take this opportunity to build up an online community of loyal followers that believe in the integrity of your brand.

 

3. Keep ’em coming back

Invest some time in carrying out a full review of your website’s analytics and identify trends in user behaviour: 

  • How have people been interacting with your content?
  • Which areas of your site are the highest-performing? 
  • Where are people dropping off? 
  • What content drives the most engagement?
  • What content has attracted the most backlinks? 
  • What are your competitors doing well?

Maintaining a strong understanding of these areas are crucial to running successful content campaigns.

Think also about your keyword strategy and how to increase organic traffic to your website. Having your site appear on the top positions of the first page of Google when markets recover will be vital for keeping a step ahead of your competitors. By supporting your core landing pages with optimised blog content, and by building a strong backlink profile to the website, you’ll help your pages climb the rankings. 

Whilst traditional marketing budgets have been significantly cut over the last few weeks and months, now is the time to ensure your digital presence is leading the way and your website is easily found in organic search.

 

4. Develop your creative roster

Make the most of this time to build up your bank of creative content. Design impactful digital brochures, banners, or even carry out a full website redesign; anything that will help you to effectively communicate your brand values and prepare you for when things inevitably bounce back. 

Think about where you stand in relation to other businesses in your market. If your digital content is lacking impact and purpose, now is the time to invest some time and make sure you stand out from the crowd.

 

5. Plan for the future

This won’t last forever. Spend some time now to think ahead – what will be the need for your products or services in 3-6 months’ time? How do you want your brand to be positioned in the market when consumer behaviour regains some degree of normalcy?

If you’d like to talk to a specialist, get in touch below and we’ll schedule an hour long consultation with one of our Content, SEO or Social Experts, from which we can get an idea of your pain-points, current marketing activities and most importantly, your short and long term goals. From this we can put together an action plan identifying the low hanging fruit, as well as laying out a longer term strategy for continued success. 

SEO Link Building For Your Website

By Rupert Rowe

Let’s imagine that Diffusion Digital has just built and launched your new website and SEO/UX best practices, from structured data to meta tags to optimised conversion paths, have been set up with one goal in mind – to attract traffic that is likely to convert.

However, this shiny new website is just the foundation – the work is really about to begin.

Let’s assume this is a new company with no prior history or authority online. Getting your chosen keywords up to the top 3 in Google, which is where you’ll get the clicks (close to 60% of clicks go to the top 3 organic results), in most cases is no mean feat and requires a significant amount of effort.

You’ll hear SEOs rave on about how content is King, and it is, but there is a Joker in the pack and generally speaking, it is the Joker that wields the cards.

The Joker, in this case, refers to backlinks.

pack of cards - the dark arts of link building

What Are Backlinks? 

Backlinks are hyperlinks coming from an external website to your own. The number and quality of these links are a determining factor on whether or not search engines trust your website and subsequently send traffic to it.

The majority of Google’s core algorithm updates since 2011 including Panda, Penguin, Possum, Hummingbird and most recently Bert – are in some way focused on improving search results by delivering the most relevant and useful page to any search query i.e. what people type into Google.

These updates all look at quality in some way. Yes, the quality of the on-page content and the setup of the site from a technical perspective is important. But increasingly the quality and quantity of the domains linking to your website will see your site either rise to the top of the pack, or slip into insignificance.

However, since Google’s Penguin update in 2012, not every website provides positive backlinks and the quality of links that you’re website receives, as well as the regularity of how often it gains new links, will dramatically affect it’s overall ranking in the results.

You'll hear SEOs rave on about how content is King, and it is, but there is a Joker in the pack and generally speaking, it is the Joker that wields the cards. The Joker, in this case, are backlinks.

What Are The Different Type Of backlinks?

Whilst Google and other search engines do not officially rank websites, or apply a score to them – so to speak, there is a definite correlation between getting links from high/low quality websites and your website’s position in the search rankings.

There are tools out there such as Majestic that assign trust scores to websites based on the number of quality links pointing to their domain.

To be honest, anything with a score over 20/100 is worth getting a link from as long as the website/article is relevant to your offering.

So, what are the best websites to get links from, and which are the ones to avoid?

Tier One Websites

News Sites, Digital Magazines, Top Listing Sites (i.e. Trip Advisor)

The holy grail of websites are, perhaps ironically in somecases, News sites and Digital Magazines. These are generally sites with very high readership and generate 1000s of links from external website. Needless to say these are the hardest ones to secure and either you have to be doing something relatively groundbreaking in your sector, or you’ll have to dig deep into the piggy bank.

Example: The Guardian

Trust: 84

Generally, most digital magazines and news publications have huge authorities so getting links from these sites is like gold dust, no, not dust, a gold bar. However, unsurprisingly, these are the hardest links to win.

Backlink From The Good Web Guide

Tier Two Websites

Review sites, Industry/sector-leading websites, Influencers

In every sector there are people who have built up an enormous authority and expertise specific to their industry that sees them as go tos for their knowledge around a specific subject matter. This can range from fashion influencers to awards websites to people who are simply experts in their fields. Receiving a link from their website is generally a good thing.

This said, there are cases where influencers are strong on social media, yet their website has an extremely low trust flow and subsequently, it is not worth it. For example, if you’re in eCommerce or fashion, Lucy Williams might drive a lot of quality traffic to your website through her social media, however her website only has a score of 10/100 – so a link from her website might means very little.

 

Diffusion encourage brands who are reaching out to influencers, to include a blog on the influencer’s website with a link to the client site as part of the influencer deal

 

Example: thegoodwebguide.co.uk

Trust: 45/100

For Diffusion’s sector, The Good Web Guides is a good example. Simply by entering one of our websites for a reward we can easily win a backlink.

how to get backlinks from blog articles

Tier Three Websites

Natural blog articles, commercial partners, press release sites

You’ll hear a lot of talk about guest blogging and blogger outreach and this generally applies to websites in this tier three category. These are people generally with less authority in their sector than the tier two sites, however, they still pack a punch and are generally fairly amenable when being approached for links. This is the creme of the crop for SEOs and generally speaking the easiest links to achieve, although it still requires quite a bit of effort in terms of the manner in which you reach out to them.

Exmaple: The Bump

Trust: 39/100

Through competitor backlink research, you can identify relevant blogs who are talking about your service or offering and subsequently reach out to them. As an example The Bump is a website about pregnancy however they wrote a blog on “The Best Vacations For Families With Young Children” and in it included a link to the luxury resort Tranquilo Bay. All Tranquilo Bay did was sent out a press release which was picked up and written about by The Bump. +1 backlink with a strong authority : ) 

are links from web directories okay

Tier Four Websites

Web Directories, Forums 

We’re starting to get into dangerous territory and entering the realms of web-directories and forums.

Don’t get me wrong there are good directories out there specific to each industry that are well worth reaching out to. However little weight is generally given to these in the eyes of search engines – but something is better than nothing.

Equally, an old trick played by SEOs was to comment with a link on other people’s blogs/websites that were relevant to their own. It’s a quick but moraless win however can pay a dividend if you’re being selective in your approach to who.

Example: Clutch

Trust: 46

It is definitely worth identifying and signing up to as many relevant directories as possible. These are super easy links and whilst sometimes you have to pay a subscription (always check the websites authority before paying!), there are many that are free.

image of a toxic domain/link farm

Tier Five Websites (Don’t even consider it!!)

Link farms, paid links, gambling sites, pornographic sites, unnatural blog posts (spam)

These are the sites that Google’s trusty Panda update was sent out to penalise. Simply put, having links from spam sites or link farms can get you penalised by search engines and see youe pages dropped from the listings if not dealt with quickly.

Now you might think, ‘why on earth would I ever try and get a link from a gambling or porn site?’

Well, there are several reasons your websites could end up listed on one of these, it could have been an old strategy, pre Panda, to try and get easy backlinks.

Alternatively, and worryingly it’s becoming more evident, someone else could be adding your links to these shadowy domains. ‘Someone else’ being a competitor or the like.

This is another good reason to hire a specialist SEO agency to monitor your backlink profile and ensure that you aren’t being attacked with so-called Black Hat SEO.

Example: The Globe

Trust: 0/100

It isn’t the end of the world if you find your website listed on a site like this, however it is definitlely in your interest to disavow these links, i.e. ask search engines not to consider them.

How to form a backlink outreach strategy?

There are thousands and thousands of websites out there all bleating about the same thing. The trick is in identifying those who are bleating about the kind of thing that is relevant to your specific service, and also those who are willing to link to your website.

Enter the research phase!

  • Firstly you need to see who is ranking for the keywords that you are targeting simply by typing into Google the keyword and listing who is in the top five positions (although you’re only interested in the actual competitors’ websites – ignore news/reference sites as you will not compete for these places)
  • Using Majestic tool, identify all of the website linking to the domains you’ve identified in the top positions of Google http://majestic.com/
  • Export all the backlinks pointing to your competitor’s website
  • Categorise each backlink using the different tiers as seen above

This is all incredibly timeconsuming and people find it hard to justify categorising 1000s of links into tiers.

I can hear 100s of interns out there now quaking in their boots at the thought of their next ‘research’ task.

But, done well and when their target keywords start climbing the rankings and enquiries are through the roof – they will be the heroes! (Although I’m sure someone else will take the credit – I know they did to me, you know who you are!!!)

Excel sheet showing how to categorise backlinks

Outreach

This is where a bit of finesse comes in as we all have very little time to read emails, especially those from people not in our contacts. But it must be done.

Now that we have a strong list of tier 2-4 websites, it is time to reach out and try to convince them your website is worth linking to. You have this list because all of these websites have in some way linked to a competitor so you know that they are interested in your services.

As to how you should reach out to them? Well, that really depends on your industry/service/offering. Perhaps you can get the conversation started with a friendly email saying that a blog they have written is highly relevant to your service, or simply send over a press release. Try and see what they come back with – but don’t send a characterless, un-personalised email, these are sure to be ignored.

Depending on how strong authority a website has, they might ask for something in return – a product, a stay at your hotel, a free sample. What you given in return is up to you.

 

In our next post we’ll be talking about how to rescue your website from a Black Hat SEO attack. Until then, let London’s leading eCommerce agency know if you have any issues.

How to Migrate your Website Correctly

By Jojo Taylor

 

Are you are considering re-designing your website? Do you want to move your site to a new CMS platform? Or do you just want to change your domain name?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you are considering a ‘site migration’.

Unfortunately, site migrations are not always as simple as they may seem and can hurt your digital presence if not done well.

But don’t worry! This article will help you understand the risks of site migration, how to mitigate them and how to recover your traffic when a website migration goes wrong.

 

What Happens When you get it Wrong?

 

Loss of Website Traffic:

Perhaps the biggest risk when it comes to migrating your website is the potential for a loss of website traffic. While this may often be temporary, in the worst cases a site may never recover.

Decline in Search Rankings:

Loss of traffic is often paired with a decline in Google’s search rankings. An initial decline in Google’s search rankings is all but inevitable when migrating your website. However, a bad migration can mean a site may never reach its original search position and it may even be dropped from Google’s index completely!

 

Things to Consider when Migrating a Site:

 

Sound a bit scary? Don’t worry, there are steps you can take!

While there are indeed a number of SEO risks that come with migrating your site, a successful site migration can improve your digital presence in the long-term.

This site migration checklist highlights the common mistakes that people make, how to avoid them, and what actions you should take to migrate your website successfully.

To make it easier for you, we have split the stages of migration into four: Plan, Test, Launch and Monitor.

Plan:

You need to consider any potential issues that you could run into before they happen. Here are some actions that you can take to plan for your website migration:

  1. Consider your timing – Even with a well thought out migration strategy, you are still likely to lose website traffic during the first couple of weeks after you launch your new website. Choose to migrate when business is quieter, and your temporary loss of traffic won’t be such a blow.
  2. Engage with your audience – Engaging with your audience by informing them of the website migration will help them find your website much easier when you first launch.
  3. Audit your current website – To conduct a website audit, you need to examine thoroughly how well your website works. How fast are the pages on my website? Which pages are generating the most traffic or conversions? Which pages rank highest on Google? Are there any broken links on my website? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself as you go through your site. By answering these questions, you will be able to find out which parts of your current site you should carry over to your new one, and which parts need to be changed so that you can optimise the new site after you migrate.
  4. Create a redirect spreadsheet – Make a spreadsheet that shows how all the URLs on your current site will correspond to the URLs on your new site. This will come in handy later when you need your old URLs to point to new pages on your site!
  5. Make an XML sitemap for both your current site and your new site

Test: 

A surprising number of people underestimate the importance of testing their site first. The testing stage of the process helps you to identify any problems with your new site before it goes live. This allows you to fix them before they affect your search ranking.

The most important thing to remember when testing your site is to make sure that your testing site is not being indexed by Google. This will stop your current site (and your new site) from being penalised by google for duplicate content, and stop users being able to see your site prematurely.

You can do this using a few methods, but we recommend using a ‘noindex’ meta tag in the site’s code to tell Google not to index it. You can also protect your test site with a password to be extra safe.

 

Launch:

Having prepared for your site migration and tested your new site, the day has finally come to migrate your site! Once you have migrated the site successfully, there are some steps that you need to take immediately to retain web traffic and search rankings:

  1. Remember that redirect spreadsheet that you made with your old website’s URLs? Now is the time to use it! You will need to add a 301 redirect to every URL from your old site so that it directs your customer to the appropriate page on your new site. This will prevent returning customers from getting lost on their way to your site.
  2. Add your Google Search Console and Google Analytics tracking codes to your new site and check that they work – you will need these working to keep track of how your new site is performing.
  3. Remove any meta tags or passwords that might prevent your site from being indexed by Google.
  4. Submit your XML sitemap. This will make a big difference when it comes to SEO. Submitting sitemaps allow Google to understand the structure of your site and to identify important pages quicker.

 

Monitor: 

If you think that the hard work is over, you’re wrong. It’s important to keep a close eye on your site after a migration as issues are most likely to appear in the first few weeks.

You will need to check daily that all of your internal links are working correctly. If there are any broken links that lead to 404 error pages, it is best to identify them as soon as they happen to avoid any collateral damage for your website traffic. You will also need to keep an eye on GoogleAnalytics. If you notice a drop in traffic, you will need to figure out the reason for this as soon as possible.

 

How to Recover from a Bad Site Migration:

You may be wondering if you can recover from a bad site migration. The answer is yes, you can. However, the journey to regaining traffic and search ranking is long and perilous.

To recover from a bad site migration, you will need to start by identifying your problem areas, and this can be a very time-consuming task.

To do this, you will need to conduct a full audit of your site and address all the errors that you find. These will often include problems with redirects, your sitemap, meta tags, canonical tags, links and badly optimised content. Sadly, fixing any number of these can be difficult, and it will be much harder to recover your site once the damage has been done.

 

Fortunately, there is always expert help available! Diffusion Digital is an eCommerce agency who specialise in WordPress and Shopify as well as digital marketing, so if you’re thinking about migrating your website, we’ll be able to help you through all stages of the process.

 

 

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads – Which suits your business best?

Ask most online retailers what their preferred eCommerce platform is and more often than not, they’ll mention Amazon.

And, for good reason too because when it comes to selling online, Amazon reigns supreme…by a long margin.

But you knew that already.

What you may not know is that you’re leaving an awful lot on the virtual table if you’re only selling on Amazon.

Enter Google Ads and Facebook.

Google Ads popularity for selling products has been on the rise and as of this writing, it is still the number 1 threat to Google.

Facebook’s platform for selling products has been proving popular and effective too over the last couple of years and that’s a good thing: more choices = more competition = higher value.

If you’re an online retailer that want to increase your sales and expand your brand presence it is a must that you start exploring platform beyond Amazon and the 2 that we’ll discuss here are Google Ads and Facebook.

Comparing Google Ads with Facebook Ads

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads Cartoon

To get started, you should first understand the fundamental differences between the 2 platforms in terms of sale, buyer and cost attributes.

Buy intent

Buy or commercial intent refers to the level of ‘intent’ the click or keyword has. In other words, what is the likelihood of that click converting into a sale and more often than not, Google Ads will outperform Facebook here.

That shouldn’t seem surprising either when you consider that the buyer’s search was initiated on Google with an objective in mind: finding that product or service to purchase.

A click from Facebook on the other hand has less buy intent. No matter how targeted your Facebook campaign, your prospective buyer wouldn’t have started browsing through their Facebook feed with the goal to make a purchase which is why you will find that Facebook’s cost per sale is higher.

Digital Marketing - what platform is better poster

Cost per sale

The higher buy intent on Google means that the total number of clicks it will take to generate a sale is lower than from Facebook. This means that the cost of generating each sale on Google will be lower than Facebook.

This is something you want to bear in mind if you’re deciding between the 2 platforms. If your profit margins aren’t enough and you could only sell on the 1 platform, start with Google.

Return on Investment

If you’re looking to maximise your ROI above all else then Facebook might be a better choice for you.

Wait, what?! I thought we said the cost per sale from Google is lower so how can Facebook deliver a higher ROI?

The reason for this is compared to Google, Facebook is still a much more untapped marketplace with lesser competition so if you’re selling something that is even a little bit unique but you’ve setup targeted selling campaigns, while your cost per sale might be higher you may end up selling more.

And, that is because of the targeting tools available only on Facebook (we’re talking about custom and lookalike audiences here) and Facebook’s ability to allow you to scale your campaigns.

Scalability

If you’re looking to scale your Ecommerce business and cost isn’t a barrier then Facebook can give you a higher chance of making that happen than Google.

With Google, you’re limited by the no. of searches across all your target keywords across your target location.

With Facebook however, you can target customers based on several parameters which means that you can scale your campaigns more and quickly, too.

So, which platform is right for you? Google or Facebook?

The simple answer is both.

If you’d budget allows for it, you want to sell on both platforms so you can compare the results from the 2 and then gradually allocating more resources to the platform that is working better for you.

If you don’t have the necessary resources to sell on both however, then our recommendation would be to start with Google and if possible have a small retargeting campaign on Facebook to try and capture those visitors who didn’t convert during their initial visit via your Google Ads click.

If you need help deciding on which Ecommerce platform is right for you, check out this ecommerce guide which will help show you the way. Hint: It’s Shopify.