The most romantic day of the year has hit once again.
For some, it’s an opportunity to declare their love for their other halves. For others, it’s an occasion for watching The Notebook whilst consuming a life-time’s worth of chocolate.
Yet for online store merchants, it’s a time for winning the hearts of their customers by luring them in with Valentine’s Day deals that they can’t say no to.
But how do store owners make themselves attractive enough to rule out the competition?
Continue reading for some Valentine’s Day tips to make your users fall in love with your store and boost your e-Commerce sales.
1. Spoil Your Customers with Offers and Freebies
Identify your most popular products and increase sales by promoting special Valentine’s Day discounts, free shipping and special offers for your loyal customers. This year, Pandora are incentivising their consumers to purchase with a free gift when they spend £99 or more.
What’s more, combining certain products to create gift sets is a great way to attract those looking to spoil their loved ones. You could even go a step further by offering complementary gift-wrapping to add a final Valentine’s touch.
2. Spice Up Your Landing Page
What better way to promote your Valentine’s Day offers and discounts than by creating a themed landing page? Incorporate the cliché pink and red colour scheme, insert some heart icons and add some cringe-worthy messaging to get your users excited about the most romantic day of the year.
This year, Boohoo.com has dedicated a Valentine’s landing page promoting their date night outfits, keeping very much in line with the Love Island lingo.
3. Write Blogs… Not Love Letters
As special as it is writing love letters to your other half, don’t forget to write enough blog content around Valentine’s Day. Creating content with optimised keywords will help boost traffic to your eCommerce store, which will ultimately lead to higher conversion.
Think about what most users will type in when searching for Valentine’s treats, for example, flowers, romantic, boyfriend, in order to ensure you’re using the most suitable keywords to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
4. Give Some Love to Mobile
With more than half of online shopping done on mobile, it’s vital that your eCommerce store is responsive for mobile shoppers – and it’s only going to get more crucial as mobile commerce is forecast to overtake internet shopping on desktop by 2021.
Optimise your mobile store by ensuring a seamless user journey and easy checkout to encourage users to purchase their gifts on-the-go
5. Give Your Customers Attention
We know you love receiving messages on Valentine’s Day, so why not fill your customers’ inboxes with Valentine’s treats? Be sure to start marketing your sales and offers a few weeks before to start building awareness around how they can benefit from your store.
This year, Michael Kors have been effective in their email marketing, by offering advice on what to wear on Valentine’s Day, whether you’re going for a candlelit dinner with your other half, hanging out with your mates or heading to the movies.
So there you go, those were just a few tips and tricks to help you fulfil your Valentine’s Day wishes. Want to know more? Get in touch with us through the link below to find out how you can optimise your eCommerce store for any day of the year.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Introducing our new Account Director, James Doughty!
James’ primary role will be overseeing Diffusion’s Account Management and Project Delivery, ensuring that all of our clients receive a top class service and high-performance digital solutions that deliver against their business goals.
We wanted to get to know James a little better, so we decided a short interview would be the best way to do this, as well as to officially announce his arrival.
So…here are James’ answers to some of our most burning questions:
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to joining Diffusion…
“I started my career in digital publishing. I fell into this industry straight out of university as I have always had an interest in writing and journalism. I also studied languages at uni and had completed a couple of internships in Paris and Munich, so this felt like the natural path for me to follow.
At this first job I rose up the ranks quite quickly, before discovering that I have a knack for Client Services and naturally progressing into an Account Management role. From there, I made the transition into the Web Design world, joining a London-based digital agency as a Senior Account Manager. In this role I looked after a number of the agency’s key accounts, ranging from big brands to startups and government departments. I also gained lots of experience in Business Development, Project Management and ‘agency life’ in general!”
Which parts of your role at Diffusion are you most excited about?
“I’m really excited to get to know our full client base and just generally get a good feel for who we are working with at the moment, as well as where we want to position ourselves in the future. I can’t wait to establish some strong working relationships with our clients and hopefully find some exciting new ways of working with them to help achieve their goals.
It’s a really exciting time to be joining Diffusion because we’re introducing new ways of supporting our clients, such as advanced SEO, analytics and marketing. This will allow us to bring a more strategic, performance-led approach to all of our projects”
What new initiatives do you plan to implement at Diffusion and how?
“I’m looking forward to building further on Diffusion’s existing processes in order to streamline our operations and improve the way in which we deliver projects for our clients.
Somehow, already in the first three weeks working here, I have managed to gain a reputation for being good with spreadsheets! In general, I suppose I’m looking forward to implementing as much new structure as possible, allowing us to work more efficiently and more commercially.
My aim is to get stuck in with all areas of the agency, from Account & Project Management to Design and Development. I’m also excited to get involved with the Marketing side of things, helping to make sure we shout about all of the excellent work we are doing!”
What attracted you to life and culture at the MOF group?
“That’s a good question. I love the fact that we have a central HR function with people dedicated to the wellbeing of the staff. This makes such a big difference and makes sure everyone in the group is happy with the social side of things, as well as their day to day work.
I also appreciate how involved the Directors are with the agency culture. For example, having a quarterly presentation makes everyone feel really involved in the group and that they are part of something exciting.
The social calendar here is also great. We have a lot of events booked for Halloween and Christmas. It’s really exciting.”
If you had a boat, what would you call it and why?
“I mean obviously it would have to be the RMS Diffusion. Just because our team is like a well-defined crew on a ship, each with their defined roles.”
If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“At the risk of sounding really cliché, I’m obsessed with pizza. My favourite toppings are chicken and sweetcorn, despite my new teammates at Diffusion trying to get me to have Bovril and Sriracha on everything!”
What show are you currently watching on Netflix?
“Oh, I’m watching the new Paul Rudd show. It’s really cool. It’s called ‘Living with Yourself’. The episodes are only about 24 minutes long, so it’s great if you just want something to watch for half an hour before you go to bed. Also, Paul Rudd is great.”
by Will Wigram
By Rupert Rowe
Finally… your Shopify store is set up and, sure enough, it looks great.
Now, the biggest challenge that you will have to contend with is generating traffic to your site.
Getting to page 1 of Google’s search results page isn’t easy whether in organic search (SEO) or paid (Pay Per Click (PPC). However, this detailed guide by Diffusion Digital ought to put you in the right direction.
***If you haven’t started building your site yet, it is so much easier to introduce these changes at the beginning of a web build so get in touch with Diffusion now and we’ll talk you through best practices***
Start with optimising your Shopify structure
How you organise the content on your page is very important when working with SEO. If your website’s structure and features allows shoppers to find the things they’re looking for easily, then they are likely to spend a substantial amount of time on your website and view more pages.
And, since page engagement is a Google ranking factor, when visitors visit more of your pages and spend a lot of time on your site, your website’s search engine rankings will automatically improve.
Besides this, it’s important you make your site simple to navigate by using a streamlined structure that enables search engines to crawl it and therefore index and rank your pages and products. A good way to do this is to minimise the number of clicks it takes for visitors to access a product from your home page or a landing page.
Improve user experience
Improving user experience can significantly help you to boost the SEO rankings of your site. First, boost the speed of your website. When your site moves quickly and is easy to navigate, users will spend more time on it. So use small optimised images, avoid using sliders, and remove any apps that aren’t necessary.
Second, use a responsive design for your site because they render well on any device screen, including tablets, smartphones and mobiles. Generally, responsive themes can significantly improve the user experience and retain visitors on a site for longer.
Since Google considers that the time spent on a page correlates with the value of the site, an easily navigable website will considerably improve your rankings and will ultimately lead to more traffic, more conversions and, eventually, repeat customers.
Select the right keywords
Keywords are at the heart of good SEO.
They tell Google who you are and what you sell. To find the best keywords, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and know what they are searching for to find products like yours.
When selecting keywords, you should differentiate between standard SEO and SEO for Shopify.
For Shopify, use a phrase or keyword that suggests an intention to buy. So, try to modify the phrases or keywords to incorporate active words such as ‘buy’, ‘cheap’, and ‘best’.
It is important that each page on your Shopify site – including your home page, product pages, categories and blog pages – rank for different keywords.
Therefore, you should try and carry out keyword research before building your site, where possible, to know the pages you should create. Or you should regularly update your site’s pages to include those optimised for keywords.
For example, some pages may target searches for information or tutorials, while others may target intent to buy, as already mentioned.
Finally, use Google Keyword Planner to conduct keyword research; it will give you ideas for which keywords to use and their search volume. This tool will give you a rough idea of the number of monthly searches for any keyword you would want to use.
Place your keywords in the right places
You’ve now identified your keywords, great. Next, place them where Google search engines can locate them quickly.
For Shopify, you should put your keywords in five important places. They are:
- Page title
- Meta description
- Image description & alt tags
- Headers and titles
- Product descriptions
Use only one H1 (header 1) tags on your pages. The H1 tag is often used as the main headline, and it usually has the page’s main keywords. Since Shopify page titles are generally the default H1 tags for any page created on the platform, avoid adding a H1 tag anywhere within the page.
Currently, Google frequently displays the first 50 to 60 characters of most page titles, so your page titles should be within 60 characters to avoid being truncated in search results.
Also, position your keywords near the beginning of the page title.
Google doesn’t have a precise character count for meta descriptions, so keep yours punchy and, preferably, under 155 characters.
Remember to include your most potent copy and target keywords at the beginning of the meta description.
For Shopify, store owners should always remember that the page title is the default URL. Include your target keywords in the page title but keep it short and straightforward by avoiding the use of filler words.
Ensure that all the images in your shop have all descriptive alt tags and filenames. With Google accounting for close to 23% of all web searches, you should name each file with a descriptive, keyword-optimised name and use a similar alt tag to explain what the image is.
Connect your content and pages with internal links
The more connected a website is, the more Google understands your store and the products you sell. Therefore, links, as well as keywords, are essential when it comes to SEO. Throughout your site, use internal links to connect content and pages. Ensure that your category pages are also clearly linked from the home page too. Moreover, create links to your products and category links from the content in your blog.
Create backlinks to your store
To effectively rank your store, Google assesses the other websites that link to your eCommerce site. Google uses an algorithm that assesses the authority of the sites linking to your store, as well as the number of backlinks, to determine the rating of your eCommerce site.
There are several ways of generating links back to your Shopify store. You can choose to email websites requesting them to link or review your products or agree to write a guest post with a link to your site, among other ways.
Create redirects for old product pages
Any eCommerce site will, at one time or another, run out of stock or discontinue products. If you delete the item, any links to the product will direct customers to an error page. Google doesn’t like error pages, and having them appear on your site may increase your bounce rate, not to mention cause you to sink down the rankings. To avoid such a scenario, create 301 redirects from your old product pages to new pages. If you don’t have an equivalent new product then at the very least you should redirect them to the home page.
Encourage customer reviews
Gone are the days when using optimised alt-tags and keyword stuffing was the easy and sure-fire way to get high rankings on Google’s search engine results page. Google is continuously evolving and, increasingly, customer reviews have become a vital part of SEO.
Google has a soft spot for regular updates, unique content and evidence of high user activity. Customer reviews on a site provide all three and increase sales. So, if you’ve never seen your customers as content creators, it’s important to note that Google perceives them as such. Whenever they leave a review, Google is given new content to crawl, which can increase your SEO ranking.
Provide content by using the Shopify blog feature
Shopify has an inbuilt blog feature that is greatly under-utilised. Develop a content strategy and start writing exciting articles consistently. Blogging is essential for SEO because it enables you to generate more backlinks and squeeze in some keywords, thereby improving your site’s Google rankings. Moreover, good content can allow your store visitors to remain on your website for longer and see you as a trusted authority.
For most shop owners, deciding on the content they should provide is the most challenging thing. However, in reality, it doesn’t have to be. You may wish to compose a list of the things your customers frequently enquire about and generate content around those topics, or find out what you think your customers need answers on and write something relevant (such as a how-to guide or insights on the latest trends). This isn’t the place to go into detail about your product information; your content needs to focus on engaging them and providing real solutions to their questions and needs.
The content you use on your site will give your customers and potential customers a chance to familiarise themselves with your brand without necessarily selling. It is one of the most uncomplicated ways of using backlinks and keywords to rank highly on Google.
Use Shopify apps and tools
Shopify has a number of apps and tools to use that can greatly help you to boost your site’s ranking. These include:
The app enables you to look at the SEO issues on your site which require attention, helping you to improve your ranking while saving money and time. It performs regular checks on your meta descriptions, page titles and headings, article structure, speed, content, and more to ensure that your site is search optimised.
The app enables you to generate relevant meta tags for your products and alt tags for product images. Additionally, the tool directs your store information to search engines by using JSON-LD data that is configured in a way that search engines prefer.
As a rule of thumb, having plenty of high-quality images on your site can significantly increase your conversion rates. An image optimiser helps you to keep your site’s speed up.
Like Yoast the ubiquitous SEO tool for WordPress, SEO manager is a tool with the aim of simplifying your Shopify SEO. It uses a traffic-light system to show you how effectively placed your chosen keywords are and how readable your content is.
The tool helps you to identify underused and overlooked keywords that you can use on your site to increase traffic and conversions.
Knowing how to make your Shopify website rank better isn’t difficult when you know what the search engines, and your customers, are looking for. Or, take a shortcut and following this guide to help you get there faster.
If all else fails and you need an expert’s help, the folks here at Diffusion Digital would be delighted to hear from you.
Post-Black Friday Review
Another Black Friday record has been broken this year, with the British retail sector enjoying £7 billion in profit. Unsurprisingly, the majority of this expenditure took place online.
The shift in consumer behaviour this year has resulted in a changing nature of Black Friday. We’ve seen a decline in reports of horror stories of shopper stampedes and never-ending queues due to a reduction of in-store traffic and an ever-growing increase in online retail traffic.
Who were the winners and who lost out?
Every year, we hear of success stories whereby stores fully take advantage of the holiday shopping season and maximise their revenue by following the Black Friday strategy which we laid out below in our previous blog. Black Friday horror stories do still exist, however, especially for e-Commerce businesses.
Let’s take a look at who were this year’s winners and losers…
Who was prepared?
As we noted prior to the big event, it is vital to inform potential customers of holiday sales and deals in advance.
Amazon reaped the rewards of the bonanza, by informing consumers of their free holiday shipping service to non-Prime members at the beginning of November. By doing this and expanding their physical footprint by creating a paper toy catalogue, Amazon sure were winners in this year’s retail frenzy.
Who rewarded their customers?
Promotions and rewards to loyal customers were implemented by many online retailers. Kohl’s hit a record number of online sales this Black Friday, partly thanks to their “Kohl’s Cash” loyalty program.
Kohl’s were also on the ball with their in-store experience for consumers, placing this offer both online and in-store.
Who optimised their website?
It appears J. Crew overlooked this vital point of preparation this year. Although they offered 50% off all items online, the brand left many consumers frustrated and confused as to why such a big franchise hadn’t ensured optimal website performance for the most profitable day of the year.
“Black Friday is an incredible opportunity for online retailers to offer their best deals, but preparation is key. There’s nothing more frustrating than spotting a product you like and clicking through to a website that’s too slow to load.” – Lawrence Jones, UKFast
Who maintained their inventory?
Stores such as Nintendo Switch did not best prepare their stock inventory, as they sold out way before Thanksgiving was over!
Multiple out-of-stock popup messages appeared on customers’ browsers, which amounted to an approximately $120 million loss for the retailer.
Optimise Your E-Commerce Store This Black Friday
Black Friday has been a key part of Thanksgiving celebrations for decades. Although, surprisingly, its roots refer back to something much darker than the joys of discounts, rewards and freebies. Instead, the term “Black Friday” was first coined in the 1800s in light of a stock market crash.
Over time, those negative connotations have worn away and Black Friday has transformed into a 24-hour retail frenzy, which sets the tone for generous spending over the holiday season.
Last year saw a new Black Friday record, with UK consumers collectively spending £1.4 billion online and the US generating $5.03 billion from online sales – a huge proportion of which took place on mobile.
But have the gloomy undertones of Black Friday’s history disappeared for online retailers?
Let’s check out some lessons we’ve learnt from past Black Friday events while we anticipate what’s in store for us this week.
Research shows that over 50% of US retail consumers begin planning their holiday shopping months before Black Friday.
This only creates more opportunities for e-Commerce stores to lure in their existing and potential consumers. It’s important to give these retail enthusiasts a taste of what’s to come by sending out targeted email marketing campaigns, offering rewards to loyal customers and circulating promotional content across all social media channels.
Plan your sales
Not only should retailers prepare their marketing strategy, but it is also essential to plan which discounts will be applied to which products and on which dates.
Shopify has drafted a Black Friday sales plan to help online retailers avoid a last-minute rush to try and get rid of everything in their store.
Create an attractive Black Friday landing page
Having a clear and engaging landing page is a great way to take advantage of early bird buyers. AO.com’s landing page for 2017 exemplifies how this should be done:
A clear contact form to keep potential customers updated with upcoming and present Black Friday deals, a direct link to the shop and promotion of their free delivery service form a great strategy to increase conversion.
Prepare for increased demand and traffic
A steep increase in traffic and conversion to your online store is exactly what you want. Right? But not if it’s going to freeze and crash your website.
This is the last thing any consumer or online retailer wants to see on their screen amidst the Black Friday mania:
To avoid going down the same road as Argos and Currys, make sure you test your server load capacity.
As well as this, ensure that all other areas of your supply chain are prepared for an increase in demand, for example, suppliers, shipping service, inventory levels, and make backup plans incase worst case scenario arises.
The “phygital” trend
As we are all aware, digital influence is rising within e-Commerce. But that’s not to say that physical retail is dead. In-store experiences drive around 37% of online traffic, therefore it is crucial that retail businesses combine their physical and digital (“phygital”) efforts to promote Black Friday.
To keep user experience at an optimal level, e-Commerce sites must be responsive across all devices and browsers. According to eMarketer, around 58.9% of online transactions over this past year were made through mobile phones, therefore, this Black Friday a huge proportion of purchases can be expected to be made on mobile.
No matter if you have a beautifully rendered website, or a stunning portfolio you won’t get very far if you’re lacking sufficient SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The thing is, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are extremely objective when it comes down to things like sitemaps, alt tags, and keywords – just to name a few. Understanding the terminology isn’t really that important, but understanding how to improve your SEO is.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process in which the traffic to your website is improved from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing via organic or algorithmic search results in search engines. The higher a website appears in search results, the higher the number of visitors the page will receive from the search engine. There are several methods to improve your pages ranking without submitting to the paid schemes offered by search engines. Listed below, and in no particular order, are 10 that we believe are absolutely vital!
1. Page Titles
The title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results, as well as appearing at top of the browser. These tags tell search spiders and users what your page is about. Google only displays between 50 – 60 characters in their title tags, therefore its important to keep descriptions short, compelling and relevant. Keywords and page topics should feature towards the front.
The placement of keywords throughout your site is perhaps one of the most important SEO tactics. It’s useful to take into account how someone would search for information on the specific service or product you are offering, as the keywords they use are likely to be the keywords you want to be using. BUT make sure you don’t add ridiculous amounts of keywords, especially if they are unrelated as this can lead to your site being flagged as spam. Search engine spiders are programmed to ignore ‘keyword-stuffing’.
3. ALT Tags
Each image and video that you have on your site can have descriptive words added to its imprint. These are known as alternative text descriptions. These descriptions allow for search engines to locate your page using the keywords found in your image and video descriptions, as well as the usual text throughout the site. Therefore increasing the opportunities your site is found, which consequently raises its page ranking.
A sitemap – a page specifically listing and creating links to all the other major pages on your site – allows for search spiders to locate pages quickly, and with more relevance to the search in question. Therefore every page is easier to find for both the spiders and users alike, and can be reached with significantly less clicks.
5. Mobile Site
‘With nearly 40% of organic traffic coming from mobile devices in 2015’, its hardly surprising that websites with a mobile friendly interface will rank higher in Google searches. Ultimately Google is trying to provide the best user experience – so really the better the user experience on your site, the better you will rank with Google.
6. Don’t Use Flash
Many small businesses like to run their sites using Flash as it is easy to launch and is fairly cheap. However, Google always ranks Flash sites lower then sites running on alternative platforms – partially because you cannot link to an individual page. Changing a Flash-based site to WordPress will hugely increase your search engine rankings.
7. Update Content Regularly
I’m sure this is something you would be doing regularly anyway – but even so, it’s an absolute must! Regularly updated content is viewed as one of the best indicators of a site’s relevancy. Make sure to keep it fresh.
8. URL Structure
A URL is up there in the first things that a search engine uses in order to determine a page rank, hence why it’s vital to make them easy for spiders to search. This can be done by keeping the URLs short (which also enhances the user experience), keeping them relevant to the page’s topic and keywords, and by ensuring the URLs help categorise the site pages.
9. Grow Natural Links
Another key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm is the number of organic and quality inbound links to your site. This works because Google ranks the reliability and relevance of your site partially as a result of how many times it has been recommended by third parties. Therefore it is important to monitor how these links are growing.
10. Monitor your Progress
You won’t know if all your hard SEO work is paying off unless you keep track of your search standings. Keep an eye on your page ranking via tools like Alexa and the Google toolbar. On top of this its important to check your referrer log so that you can see how your visitors arrive to your site, and the search terms they are using to get there.
Want to find out more about SEO – follow this link to learn more about the intricacies of boosting your search engine ranking. Or follow the link to view Diffusion Digitals SEO offering.
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