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.

Things to consider before sellecting a new plugin for your WordPress Website

Plugins are to WordPress what apps are to a smartphone and in the world of Content Management Systems, and just how the iPhone was one of the first smartphones to offer virtually limitless possibilities thanks to the ubiquitous App Store, it isn’t a stretch to say that plugins have helped WordPress to a similar degree in making it the number 1 choice of Content Management System (CMS) across the world.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as it’s said and with all that popularity comes great security issues to be aware of and take into account before you decide on which plugin to install.

If you’re thinking about adding new features to your WordPress website, this short but useful guide from Diffusion Digital will help you decide on one that is fit for purpose and safe for use.

Ladies & gentlemen, start your plugins.

Your Needs

The first step is to understand what you need from a plugin before you even begin the search for one.

Take time to figure this out and note down the specific needs you would like it to address or any problems it should solve.

This is likely to save you resources in both time and money, and give you ideas on where to start your search.

The Developer’s Reputation

It makes sense to find out how preeminent a developer or the agency is in the world of WordPress plugins as well as how effective their plugins are.

The first step is to check the reviews, ratings, as well as the number of downloads their various modules have.

To state the obvious, a plugin which has had lots of good reviews and comments is a good one to go for.

However, don’t just take your decision based on reviews as you might miss out on identifying recently launched plugins simply because no one has downloaded it yet (there has to be a first one, right?).

A safe bet here is to look at plugins the developer might have released before and how they have performed. Even if they weren’t incredibly popular but has had mostly positive reviews and the developer has a good reputation, don’t hesitate to try a new one and help others by being one of the first to leave a review.

Security

It is estimated that the hacking of about 22% of WordPress websites is purely a result of some security issues within a plugin such as them being out of date or a vulnerability being discovered..

One of the most straightforward approaches to confirm the risk of security breaches is confirming when a particular software lastly got updated.

It is advisable to opt for packages that are often updated, at least within the past two months, and most preferably compatible with the latest version of one’s computer programme or website.

Software that is updated frequently has lower security risk; this is mainly because known issues on previous versions of itself are likely to have been rectified.

Look at the Changelog

A changelog is a record of all alterations done to a programme. By taking a look at the log, one can tell the security issues that have been resolved, if any, as well as what the application has to offer.

It helps one see the additional features that come with each update as well as how often the changes have been affected over its lifetime.

More modifications not only imply that the developers are keen to solve any issues detected but are also eager to tweak their add-on to satisfy client needs.

Client Support

Premium plug-ins have a dedicated team of personnel that works around the clock to ensure that customer experience is optimised. This means that any time a client makes an inquiry, they get a reasonably fast response.

Such a prompt response is critical especially when one is faced with a security risk. With a premium package, it is even possible for the developers to check for issues from their end by accessing your device or website.

Unfortunately, some of these features are not available for free packages usually so if the plugin has mission-critical to your business, spending the additional amount for tech support could be a wise investment. .

Recommendation
It is wise to consider acquiring plug-in bundles. Such a bundle comes with a few modules that work hand in hand. This can spare time and cash, as you don’t have to look for different applications from different companies.

Furthermore, all the applications in a group originate from a similar source, therefore, they are in sync with each other. On the off chance that for reasons unknown they don’t, you need to go to one source for assistance.

It is also more economical to acquire a bundle than purchasing individual modules.

Conclusion

It’s estimated that there are approx. 29k WordPress plugins to cover a wide range of functions and features so if you have an addition you’d like to make to the website, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.

However, taking the additional time to do some research before you make the choice can help make your WordPress site more secure and safer.

Of course, if all of this is simply too overwhelming for you, don’t hesitate to give Diffusion Digital a try, we’d love to help!

The Ultimate Guide To Selecting an eCommerce Platform

By Will Wigram

 

Thinking of building a new eCommerce store or replatforming an existing one?

 

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing an eCommerce platform to help your store get off to the best possible start from the get go.

 

1)        Getting Started / Business Objectives

 

So, what are the key considerations or questions you should ask yourself? Well…

 

What are the reasons behind the re-platforming? What are the key business objectives form this project?

 

Perhaps its your global growth ambitions that is spear-heading this, or potentially to reduce costs and management overheads.

 

Whatever the reasons are its key to make sure that these have been discussed, considered and that everyone is in agreement.

 

What are the key success metrics of the website?

 

Increasing overall sales is probably up there but what other metrics can you attribute to the success of the website?

 

Knowing these is extremely helpful for both you and us when we take on a project as we can link back all of activity and proposed work to these to make sure we are achieving these initial goals.

 

 

If applicable, how is the current website failing?

 

What are the current pain points? – This could be user experience / navigation issues, it could be inflexibility with scaling or a dated look and feel.

 

Whatever they are, it is imperative they do not crop up again and therefore need to be made clear from the get go.

 

But also think about the successes that we can develop even further going forward.

 

What are the main features and functionalities that you want?

 

Of course you will refine this as you go through this process (and we’ll discuss this more in a minute) but its useful to lay everything out on the table to start with. From here you can try to organise them into must haves and nice to haves.

 

Knowing what the priorities are is really useful as it can help point us to the most appropriate platform, and in cases where there are budget limitations, it can help us put together a phased project plan.

 

There are a huge amount of factors that can and will consider in this process, but beginning with the four points above will get you off to a good start.

 

I think one of the most important takeaway’s here is to make sure you involve all departments in these initial discussions. As you go through the process it won’t always be necessary to have all departments involved, but including everyone at this early stage is only going to result in a much more rounded view of the needs and objectives.

 

2)        Product Make Up

 

At the core of any eCommerce website are the catalogues of products. Again on the surface this may seem quite straight forward – items for sale, different colours, different sizes, prices, descriptions and images. But actually, the make-up of these catalogues can be quite intricate and there may be certain limitations on some platforms that could prevent you from running your business effectively.

 

Some of the SaaS platforms (like Shopify & Bigcommerce) are more suited to less complex catalogues than the likes of Magento. For example the number of variants a product can have cannot exceed 100 on Shopify. There are ways around this but it involves customisation and/or the use of a third party app.

 

In isolation this is not that much of a problem but if this type of customisation is needed throughout your product offering, it can become a bit of a pain to manage.

 

So, to alleviate the risk of this happening here are some of the the product questions you should be asking yourself:

 

  • How many products do you want to sell online? Quantity in isolation is rarely an issue but it’s good to know this nonetheless as it will have implications in various ways such as design and site speed optimisation.
  • How many categories and sub categories will you have? This could be quite small to begin with and then grow, so future ambitions is good to also bare in mind at this stage.
  • How Complex is your product taxonomy? Think about the number variants each product will have – colours, sizes, types etc. Will these be presented as single products or as SKUs within the products
  • Is there a requirement to be able to group / bundle products? This has implications for stock management so it’s good to know
  • Will products be sold on a subscription basis? If so, what are the rules here? What does this model look like?
  • Is pre order a requirement? If so should this be triggered automatically when a product is out of stock or manually? Can pre order be managed through other channels such as by phone?
  • Do you have a BTC and BTB product offering? How do these differ and should they be set up completely separately?
  • How will your product make up change and grow over the next few years? Linking back to what I mentioned earlier, what are the ambitions for all of the above?

 

Ultimately it is preferable to choose a platform that can accommodate as many of your requirements as standard features of the platform. Of course, one of the great perks of many of the eCommerce platforms out there, is the vast range of third party apps/plugins that are available that you can bolt onto the website to enhance functionality (we get to this later).

 

However from experience, it’s not advisable to have heaps of plugins as this can have a negative effect on overall site performance and speed.

 

If the majority of the functionality of your website comes from third party plug-ins, it’s probably a pretty clear sign that you are not on the most appropriate platform.

 

This is why it’s important to have all of this detail clearly available when selecting a platform, to alleviate the risk of choosing a one that restricts you and does not allow you to create and evolve in a hassle free manner.

 

3)        Content Requirements

 

Content is at the core of every website and different platforms offer different solutions to the variety of different elements that you may or may not require, some making it easier that others.

 

Types of Content:

Ediorial – Blog, News, Press – archives

Campaign – Projects, Case Studies , Look Books

Brand – About, Philosohy, Process / Craft, History,

Social – integrating 3rd party content

 

Again, try to think about how this will evolve as well as what you’re launching with. How often are you going to be adding new content to the site?

 

If this is regularly (as, of course, it should be to help your SEO rankings) it is so important that it is an easy to do, otherwise it will cause such a headache to whoever has this job, wasting their time going through a tedious process or even worse deterring them from adding any new content.

 

WordPress, is a great option for content rich sites as there is no real limitation from a creative or management point of view. We have historically connected this with WooCommerce to offer a powerful eCommerce solution for our clients – and this is definitely a combination we still recommend.

 

Bigcommerce has recently developed a WordPress integration that creates a really powerful solution giving you all the benefits of WordPress, but weaving this into a very capable and solid ecommerce platform.

 

Shopify is also improving as a content management system and whilst it used to be tricky to manage editorial style content, this is no longer the case.

 

4)        Technical Requirements/Integrations

 

You will find that a lot of the more common integrations are easily achieved with ready made plug ins available. These include:

  • Connecting to email marketing platform to capture newsletter sign ups
  • Connecting to Payment gateways – to allow a seamless check out experience
  • Feeding your instagram account onto the site to offer fresh and dynamic content

 

But it’s not always this straight forward. The recommend approach therefore is thinking about which integrations are going to add value for your customers and your business, rather than going off what you have on the existing site or copying current trends.

 

Once we have this list we can start to evaluate how these can be executed on different platforms, and what level of integration is needed.

 

As mentioned, on the one hand you don’t want to be in a position where you are having to completely customise and bolt on hundreds of apps to achieve your desired offering

On the flip-side you also don’t want to buy into an expensive enterprise level solution when you actually only need 2% of what they offer and are therefore hugely over engineering the situation.

 

We’d be here all day if I was to attempt to list all of the different types of integrations that could be incorporated into your site, but these are some of the potentially more complex but really useful ones that definitely need consideration, and will really help with the seamless running on your business:

 

  • Stock Management
  • Accounting
  • ERP Systems – he
  • Taxes and Duties
  • Multi Currency Check Out – internationalisation
  • Multi Language
  • Fulfillment / Shipping

 

Internationalisation especially, is often one of the biggest factors that will shape platform choice. Giving your customers a local shopping experience, and allowing your business operations to work efficiently on a global scale is essential.

 

Up until now we would only have suggested the more enterprise level platforms – like Magento or Shopware, for this type of requirement.

 

This said a lot of the SaaS platforms are now getting up to speed with this.

 

For example, implementing Shopify to target several countries around the world was always the biggest deal breaker as the only option available previously, was to clone the store in order to enable check out in another currency. However now, multi currency checkout is available through their premium offering -Shopify Plus. In 2019 the road map for Bigcommerce also has Internationalisation at the top of its agenda.

 

As the capabilities of every platform is constantly evolving, it is really important to think about what your technical requirements are and what integrations are needed so that we can help pair you with the a platform that’s the best fit, now and in the future.

 

5)        Costs and Timings

 

And last but by no means least – money! Ultimately one of the determining factors in this process is going to be the available budget and deadlines.

 

The time (and therefore cost) it takes to build an eCommerce website will vary hugely based on the size, complexity and platform you are using.

 

Whether you choose to disclose your budget with your agency at this stage is up to you – from our point of view this is helpful as we can tailor an appropriate solution.

 

Either way, though, it is just crucial to have these figures worked out in good time.

 

So, there are two key factors that must be considered and budgeted for:

 

  • The initial cost of the build of the website
  • Ongoing costs to keep the site running.

 

This initial cost can include:

 

  • Discovery costs – could be UX, brand work, concepting, SEO
  • Design and build costs
  • Data import
  • Content creation – copy writing and photo shoots
  • Third-party integration costs,
  • SEO Set Up

 

Once the implementation is completed, you have to account for the ongoing cost. Items included in this are:

 

  • Maintenance and support retainers,
  • Ongoing host fees,
  • Platform licence costs
  • Payment gateway related fees,
  • Third-party apps / plugin subscriptions
  • Ongoing SEO and marketing

 

Depending on the type of platform you choose, some of these costs might not apply which might be a deciding factor for picking one platform over another.

 

So, there we have it. Once you have a good idea about all of the above points, let’s organise a time to sit down and discuss which eCommerce platform will help propel your business forward.

 

 

What is Google Optimise and why you should be using it?

By Rupert Rowe

You may not have heard of Google Optimize yet. You may not even be familiar with what Landing Page Optimisation is. But, I’m guessing you understand why testing all your marketing activities is important…whether that is the ad copies on your Google Ads campaigns, your SEO keywords and perhaps above all else, the pages where you direct your marketing traffic to.

This is where Google Optimize (GO) comes in.

Similar to the first generation of tools such as VWO and Optimizely, Google Optimize is brought to you by Google to make the task of A/B testing your landing pages easier and in typical Google fashion, it brings you a range of enterprise-level software for free.

And, this really is the biggest selling point of GO.

Most of us are already using Google Analytics which means getting started with your A/B testing is not only super easy, you will get access to far more metrics and KPIs to measure, test and evaluate than you would with a 3rd party solution such as VWO.

This deep integration also enables the storage of most of your testing data in GO of course but also Google Analytics which is a huge time-saver if you’re running tests frequently.

The other benefit is the shorter learning curve in learning how to use GO compared to other tools.

If you’ve never setup an A/B landing page test you’re not alone. Although, majority of most small business budgets is spent towards traffic acquisition as opposed to conversion, landing page optimisation is extremely important as the cost of implementing any digital marketing strategy whether that is SEO or PPC or Social rises every year as competition heats up and after a certain point, maximising your website’s conversion rate is where you will get the additional rewards.

VWO and Optimizely are the 2 other biggest landing page testing tools and whilst  none of them are particularly difficult to work with, they aren’t as effortless as working with GO.

What’s more, if you’re familiar with the dashboard of other Google products such as Google Analytics or Google Ads, you’re likely to find GO rather easy to use.

Here’s a quote from Krista Seiden, Google, who looks after GO

“Your test stats are available in the Reporting tab within the Optimize UI. They are also available in Google Analytics in a number of ways: Every hit from Optimize is sent to GA with an Experiment Name, Experiment ID, and Variant number automatically attached. This means that you can get much more creative with how you analyze your test data outside of the Optimize UI. You can:

 

  • Segment and add secondary dimensions to a report with Variant #, Exp ID, and Exp name

 

  • Create audiences and segments based on previous test behavior, and even target to future test experiments based on being a part of a prior test” (via Digital Debrief)

 

Finally, GO offers quite a few options on what sort of test you want to set up and whilst that can be a bit overwhelming at first, esp. If you’re new to the world of A/B testing, getting the hang of it won’t take too long.

Here are some examples of tests you can carry out in Google Optimize:

 

Optimisely examples for split testing

 

A/B – The most basic type of test where you compare one element against another. You could test one landing page vs another or a headline or a call-to-action…the list is endless.

 

how to split test different web pages

 

Redirect tests – Similar to a A/B test excepting that you’re testing the 2 elements separately. For example, before launching your new website, you could test it with real users showing only one version to one set of users and another to a different set.

 

Split Testing Example three

 

Multivariate tests – Think A/B/C/D… You can test multiple variants of multiple elements at the same time. In other words you can combine testing landing page with the headline on one version with the call-to-action on another and so on….

And there you have it.

We hope this serves as an easy to use starting point if you want to try out Google Optimize.

We highly recommend it not only because it’s fairly simple to use once you get used to it but as importantly, because split testing is a great way to improve your conversion rates and your ROI from your marketing efforts.

Of course, if you ever need help with setting up Google Optimize or split tests for you, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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!