What is “bad” SEO

SEO writing on a windowThe Art/Science/Discipline (delete as you see fit) of Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, has many branches. However, the first decision is whether you are going to use best practice or try to “game” the system, aka cheat, to get the search results you need..

The SEO practitioners who cheat are known as “black hats” or “unethical” whilst the good guys are “white hats” or ethical.

Which you choose is up to you, however the impact on your business if you make the wrong choice, could be disastrous

How long does SEO take to have an impact on your website?
SEO takes time, months not days, not weeks but months. However, sometimes there are ways to “game” the system that can deliver results far more quickly. The downside is that they will be using something that goes against Google’s Best practice guidelines.

Yes, your website might rocket up the search engine results but, once your site has been identified as using unethical techniques,Google will apply a penalty

Google Penalties
Remember, Google does not have to list you anywhere, it’s of no real benefit to Google to have you in their listings and if you go against their guidelines you will be penalised.

Google is constantly checking results to make sure that the right sites are listed in the right place, to make sure that sites are not gaining unfair advantage and making sure that sites are not cheating the system.

In my experience, when caught cheating Google has three levels of penalty it can apply, depending on the seriousness of the “crime”.

  1. If it’s a relatively minor digression then Google may simply stop monitoring your site. Any updates that you apply to your site will be ignored which means your site will just slowly drift down the pages until your site effectively disappears.
  2. A more serious misdemeanour will see your site actively demoted, perhaps by 5 pages (for example). With only 10% of Google searchers EVER going beyond Page 2 of the results, if you are on Page 5 you may as well be on Page 100.
  3. Total deletion from the Google database. Remember, Google is under no obligation to you.

Google Search ConsoleThankfully, most issues tend to be (1) and (2) and Google will let you know before a penalty is applied and give you time to put a remedy in place. They do this through the Search Console. You do use the Search Console, don’t you?

Simply put, if you click on the “Security & Manual Actions” link in Search Console’s left-hand navigation menu, Google will have posted any penalties that it is looking to apply. You have about a month to resolve so you need to be checking every fortnight so that you have 2 weeks to resolve any issues.

How to overcome a penalty
If Google advises you that you have done something that goes against their guidelines and that they are about to apply a penalty you need to put a solution in place.

The first step is to identify what has caused the problem. Contact your SEO company and ask them what they have done and instruct them to undo it PDQ. If you have done it yourself then you need to undo the dubious SEO tricks that you have applied to your site.

If Google don’t tell you, how will you know that you have been the subject of a penalty
Over the 20 or so years that I have been doing SEO I have fielded a number of calls from business people (not clients of mine) which all went in the same direction.

“Hi Andy, I don’t know if you can help but yesterday my business was on Page 1 of Google search. Now I can’t find it, and I’ve gone to Page 20. What’s happened?”

What’s happened is that they have been hit, and hit hard, by Google and have likely been deleted from their database.

Another way to tell is through Google Analytics, if your web traffic falls off a cliff, for example – as shown in the Analytics grab below.

Google Analytics graph hit by a Google Penalty

 

If you receive notification from Google that they are going to apply a manual penalty then you have time to reverse the activity that was the cause of this warning.

If, however, you are like the people that have called me, and your site has simply disappeared it might be better to bite the bullet, buy a new domain name, build a new site and start again.

In many previous cases, I have worked with businesses to identify what went wrong, put corrections and rectifications in place and then tried to convince Google to relist them. When, after 6 months, there had been no change, my recommendation was to start again.

However, the last time I did this was a couple of years ago so things could have changed

Types of Black Hat Activity
Cheating has changed over the years. Back in the (very) early days of SEO, all that was required was to add keywords multiple times in the Keywords Meta Tag and repeat them multiple times on the page itself. So you’d have a page of content and them across the bottom of the page you’d see the keyword repeated many, many times.

Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword. Keyword, Keyword

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so the web developers realised that this looked bad so they changed the font colour to match the background so the visitor couldn’t see the text but the search engines could.

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so Black Hat SEO people simply made the font size 0. The text disappeared from the page, but was still visible in the HTML that could be read by the search engines.

The search engines spotted this and didn’t like it so the SEO folks went for keyword “stuffing”. Cramming the keyword in to as many keyword places that they keyword possible keyword could

The visitors didn’t like this and went elsewhere.

Next came Link Building and Link Farming. Buying back-links from websites that simply published lists of websites on thousands of pages, for a fee. These pages effectively looked like a phone directory where the only content was links to websites.

But Google didn’t like this and link farm users were likely to find them,selves deleted

So, the next technique was cloaking. Your web-server can differentiate between you and I visiting a website and a search engine. Black hat SEO folks learned this and created content that was precisely what the search engines were looking for and only showed this content to the search engines. It was a bit like putting a honey pot at the end of the garden to attract the wasps when you’re having a picnic in the garden on a sunny day

But Google didn’t like this and  users of cloaking were likely to find their sites deleted

How can you tell the difference between White and Black Hat SE Optimisers
If someone approaches you, offering to do your SEO and they guarantee to get you on Page 1 then I’d be inclined to avoid them. Nobody can guarantee this unless they are either

  1. Running a Google Ads campaign – but they should tell you this
  2. Running a Black Hat campaign.

If you ask an SEO agency how they will optimise your site, they should tell you what they will be doing. They should also tell you that they can’t guarantee results, just that they will use their skills and experience to move your site higher in the search results.

Avoid being hit by a penalty, give me a call to discuss ethical, White Hat SEO for your website by giving me a call on 01793 238020 or dropping an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

What to do when launching your new website

It’s a scenario I come across almost every month, a website gets relaunched after a major rebuild, perhaps the migration from an old site to something that’s (finally) mobile friendly or that’s the result of a corporate rebranding or a migration to e-Commerce or, or……well, you get the picture.

Then the problems start. Google Analytics starts reporting high Bounce Rates, the site falls down in the search engine results and visitor numbers start falling.

So, what’s happened?

Unless your relaunch is carefully planned, there’s a lot that can go wrong but one huge problem is Google. Your old site might have built a lot of respect with Google that hopefully translated in to great results when people were looking for you. However, if you just launch a fresh new site it’s highly likely that all of that respect is lost.

Not only that, but your old pages will keep popping up in search results, people might have added your old site to their favourites and when they visit – they are met with a 404 (page not found) error

What you need to do

Image result for 301 redirect

And yet, it’s so easy to prevent this. Before you press “go” to launch your new site you need to create a list of all of the pages on your existing site.

Next thing to do is to remove all of your previous site from the internet (or just make it inaccessible). You can do this by deleting your web files or simply by copying them to a new folder. Keeping a copy is essential, just in case anything goes wrong with your new site you can always revert back to your old one provided you have a copy of it but you need to take it off line to avoid any confusion.

Next thing you do is to map your old pages to new. So, for example, mywebsite.co.uk/about on the old site should be mapped to mywebsite.co.uk/about-EOMS on the new site. I use a spreadsheet with two columns to make this process easy to manage.

Then you ask your web developer to put “301 Redirects” in place that map the old pages to the new. What now happens is any visit to one of your old pages will automatically transfer the visitor to the relevant new page.

Not only that, but a 301 redirect also carries forward a fair percentage of that Google respect I mentioned earlier,

If you need some help with the relaunch of your new website, need a new website, need help with your SEO or anything else to do with your online marketing then don’t hesitate to drop me an email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call 01793 238020

4 plug-ins every WordPress site should have

WordPress Logo

A Content Management Systems (CMS) is a tool that business owners, web developers and others use to build their websites. There are loads to choose from, depending on your specific requirements, and WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Umbraco, Squarespace, and Wix are some of the most popular.

If your website uses WordPress(WP) then you find yourself in good company. It’s by far and away the most popular CMS, being used by 32% of all websites. WordPress is popular for a number of reasons, the software is free (but you’ll still need hosting that will cost), it’s pretty easy to use and there are thousands of “themes” (designs and templates) that you can use to define the way your website looks and many of them are free to use. There’s lots of places you can turn to for advice and support and lots of professional developers who can customise your site so that is does exactly what you need.

Customising WordPress

WordPress is not perfect though, it may not do everything that you need. However, it’s an open system which means that if you understand how to write software you can create your own enhancements. You don’t even need to be a software developer to benefit. Somebody, somewhere has probably already had a similar need to yours and written something to do the job. Thousands of people have created additional enhancements and have made their tools available to everyone. These enhancements are called plug-ins. A lot are free whilst others require a payment, although the majority of these are inexpensive.

Plug-Ins

The downside to plug-ins is that each one you use makes your website run a little slower, and with Google beginning to penalise slow sites the speed of your website is something you need to keep an eye on. This means that you shouldn’t just keep adding plug-ins. You should make your choice, install your plug-in, give it a test and if it doesn’t do what you need then uninstall it.

Example of WordPress Menu

Not only should you keep your plug-in count to a minimum but each plug-in MUST be kept up to date. The authors regularly update them, some updates patch security flaws, some improve performance and/or add extra functionality and some updates are required to make sure the plug-in runs with the latest upgrades to WordPress itself – so you need to be regularly checking, unless you have a program that monitors then for you. Best case scenario is that nothing happens, worst case scenarios are that the unpatched plug-in breaks your website or a security hole lets a hacker in .

Three Ss and a B

Security, Speed, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Back-up

Security

WordPress Plug-in Menu

Your WordPress site needs to be secure so that hackers can’t break in and do their hacking thing. Which could be to use your website host malicious software and force it on the computers of all that visit. They might create pages with links to their web pages, or look to capture details identifying visitors to your site. Thankfully, there’s a plug-in that will fortify your WordPress website against attack.

Speed

Your website has to be fast. To stop people drifting away, your pages need to open within 3 seconds. Slower that that and people will not wait. Slower than that and Google may start to penalise your site by pushing it down in their search results pages. There’s a plug-in that will keep WordPress running as fast as possible.

Search Engine Optimisation

In order for your customers to be able to find you in Google (or Bing, or Yahoo or one of the other search engines) the search engines have to be able to understand what it is your website is offering. The discipline that enables the search engines to understand your website and hopefully put your site on Page 1 of the results is called Search Engine Optimisation. There’s a plug-in that makes it easy to search optimize your site – so long as you know what you are doing.

Back-up

Hopefully you regularly back-up your business data. Well, you also should be backing up your website too. If you make an editing mistake and break your site, you can restore a working version, if something else breaks your website then you can restore a working version and if you have a problem with your host then a back-up will make it relatively easy to move your site to a new host. Guess what, there’s a plug-in for that too

So, which are the best plug-ins to use?

I can’t tell you that because there are thousands of the things but I can tell you which are the first ones that I install and configure on every WP website that I work with, in my mind they are essential and should be installed before you even think about developing your WP website

4 free plug-ins every WordPress site should have

WordFence for security

WordFence is a security enhancer. It is an “endpoint” firewall which means it cannot be bypassed, unlike a Cloud Firewall. This means that everybody trying to access the admin area of your site (both you as the site admin and the bad guys – the hackers) have to get past WordFence first.

It defends against “brute force” attacks, where a hacker attempts to guess usernames and passwords and after a certain number of failed attempts (you set the limit) it blocks the attacker, effectively making your website invisible to them. WordFence keeps a blacklist of known hackers (by their IP address) and automatically blocks them. WordFence also sends you an email when one of your plug-ins requires updating, making plug-in management a whole lot easier.

It scans your WP files for malicious software and if you need even more functionality (most users won’t) then the Premium version is just $99

Learn more about WordFence

Updraft Plus – for back-ups

Updraft Plus is a back-up plugin for WP. Now that you have secured your site from external threats you should look to guard yourself from internal problems, accidentally deleted pages, server/host issues, and (in the unlikely event of an intrusion) issues caused by hacking and penetration. It could even be something as simple as a WP, or plug-in, upgrade that breaks your site

To do this you need to be making regular back-ups of your WP installation and your content. Updraft Plus will do this for you. You can set a schedule so if you want an automatic hourly, daily, weekly back-up you just set the plug-in and it does the rest. You can even save your back-up to your Google, Microsoft or one of many other Cloud accounts,

Should you need to restore your WP site, Updraft Plus makes this easy too.

Find out more about Updraft Plus

WP-Rocket – for speed

WP-Rocket is the only plug-in on this list that doesn’t have a free version. However, the cost for a single site won’t break the bank at just $39.

What WP-Rocket will do for your website is make it faster to open on a visitors computer.It uses a number of tools to achieve this. It compresses your site for faster transmission across the internet, it manages images so that the only images downloaded are those that are visible on screen, if allows a web browser to cache key elements of your site so that they don’t have to be reloaded every time a visitor navigates to a different page. You can see everything that WP-Rocket does here.

Yoast – for SEO

In order to stand a chance of being found on the internet, your website needs to be “Search Friendly” which means that Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go etc can find your site, visit all the important pages, understand what’s on offer and (hopefully) put your site on the first page of the search results when someone is looking for your products, goods or services.

However, WordPress doesn’t make it easy and this is where the YOAST plug-in comes in to play. As long as you understand the requirements for effective SEO then the YOAST plug-in makes it easy to implement key SEO requirements.

Find out more about YOAST

So, there you have it, four essential plug-ins for your website before you start working on the design, the look, the feel and your content and if you need more help with your website, no matter what CMS you are using, your SEO or digital marketing then all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk an email

How long does SEO take?

Hourglass - representing the time that SEO takesSEO, easy isn’t it. Write some content, mess with the Meta Tags, get your image names and Alt Tags right and Bob’s your uncle, right? Instant SEO love from google and a rush up the search engine results pages (SERPs)

Wrong………SEO takes time. Despite the amount of technology and artificial intelligence devoted to managing Google’s (other search engines are available) search results it actually takes some time for your changes to search to actually take effect.

If you are not familiar with key SEO terminology then pop across to my SEO Glossary

But how long does it actually take?

Google certainly isn’t telling but a number of people have carried numerous experiments and a number of conclusions have been reached.

The first is an answer that you don’t want to hear – “it depends”. And it depends on so many things, more than 200 according to Google.

Like everything, SEO should be planned and can be broken down into a number of phases, the first of which is

Research and Discovery

Audit your website to see what needs to be done, have a look at your competitors, think of the ways that people might be looking for the things you do.

CalendarImplementation

The next step is to take the results of your research and start to build it in to your website. The “Technical SEO”. You should be auditing your back-links to make sure that they are of a high enough quality

Next up you need to start creating new content. Writing blog posts, creating FAQs, writing white papers etc. You should be sharing these through your Social Media channels, email campaigns etc.

By month four you should begin to see some improvement in your position in the search results – an indication that your work is paying off – but don’t stop.

Management and Tracking

You should be paying attention to Google Analytics to see how much traffic is visiting your site and how many leads, sales, enquiries are being made. If traffic has increased but actions haven’t then you are either reaching the wrong people, sending the wrong message or your site is not working particularly well. Now is the time to look at all of the issues and put resolutions in place.

Continue with your content creation. Too many companies opt out of SEO after 3-4 months because they don’t feel that it’s working for them. The reality is that their SEO may only just be getting going. A time frame of 6 months to a year is where you should be aiming. SEO is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The more you work at it, the better things will get but the marathon never ends.

But remember

It’s no good being number 1 in the search results if your website isn’t playing its part in the role and converting those visits in to leads, enquiries or sales.

Not only that but SEO is just part of your marketing mix, you also need to be effective with your Social Media, email and Video marketing and everything else that you do to promote your products, services and your brand.

And if you need some help with any aspect of your SEO, from a site review to a full package just get in touch for a free, no obligation conversation and we’ll see where it takes us.

If you need help with your search engine optimisation (SEO), your website or anything else to do with your marketing all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk an email

Posted in SEO

How much should you budget for SEO services?

How much does SEO cost?

Person looking confusedThe real answer is “how long is a piece of string” but you don’t want to hear that, you want to nail down your costs so that you can shop around and get the best deal for your business – note that I did not say “cheapest”

The first problem is that every SEO requirement is different, there are many variables that impact on the amount of work required and here’s a small selection;

    • How up to date is your website?
    • How SEO “friendly” is your web design?
    • How fast do you need SEO to take effect?
    • How does your site compare to the competition?
    • How many competitors do you have?
    • How well optimised are their sites?
    • What’s their likely budget?

This latter is not about understanding their absolute spend, more about an overview based on the simple fact that the larger the competitor the more likely that they will have a greater budget than you.

Good, Cheap, Fast. Yoou can have any 2 but not all 3Looking at the Quality, Fast, Cheap Venn, you’ll see that you can have

  • Cheap & Fast
  • Fast & Good
  • Cheap & Good

but you can’t have Cheap, Fast AND Good, it’s just not possible

In reality, it’s not about how “good” your SEO is, it just has to be better than the competition. I’ve worked with a couple of businesses where the competition was clueless about SEO so it was a relatively simple task to push them higher in the rankings but most businesses these days are aware of SEO so the task is tougher.

Expectations & Reality

A recent survey reported that less than half of all small businesses have an SEO budget. Of those with one the majority (71 percent) spent less than £100/month. That’s right – 71 percent of small businesses budget £0 – £99/month for SEO.

This is further supported by the inquiries I receive from prospective clients. Here’s the breakdown for a pretty typical quarter in 2017

Monthly SEO enquiries/budget

This is why your in-box is spammed with promises of “guaranteed first-page results” for £99. SEO spammers know the market. Their promise of first page results is hard to resist and, in my experience, most business owners have no idea how SEO works, they are far too busy running their businesses to spend time learning SEO and so may very well opt for the least expensive quote.

Most businesses are process driven, to get from A to B you follow certain process to get there. A lot of people assume SEO works in a similar way, they tend to treat it as a commodity and, as a consequence select their SEO on price, frequently choosing the least expensive [cheapest]

The Cost of Cheap SEO

I’ve been doing SEO since 2001 and over the years I been a member of many internet marketing groups on Linkedin and I never cease to be amazed by the number of people with a little knowledge who pose as SEO professionals and take on clients. How do I know they lack experience? It’s questions like “I have just taken on a client that wants to rank for “keyword x” – how do I do it?” that tends to give the game away.

A close second to asking “how” is the use of link schemes, specifically private blog networks (PBNs), without ever explaining the risk to clients. If you were to simply throw your money away by hiring an incompetent to carry out your SEO that would be bad enough. The problem is that the damage does not stop at the waste of money – it’s far more serious than that. The damage that someone who does not know what they are doing can go much deeper. It could attract a Google penalty and virtually wipe out a website’s visibility on the web.

As a consequence, even if you don’t choose EOMS to conduct your SEO I would encourage you to insist on using tactics that comply with Google Webmaster Guidelines, as I do.

Managing Your Resources

With Google using more than 200 ranking factors it’s easy to become intimidated and paralysed. However, there are some key areas that, if properly managed, will go along way towards great SEO results. Your site should 

    • be easily accessible to search engines.
    • follow Google Webmaster Guidelines for SEO best practices.
    • perform quickly (pages opening in 3 seconds or faster).
    • work well on all devices, mobile, tablet, and desktop.
    • feature content that is unique,interesting and of value
    • have regular fresh content added

Set Goals

As with everything in business, Goals are good. They help focus the mind and ensure that everybody knows what’s expected.

When setting goals, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  • Your goals need to be SMART
      • Specific
      • Measurable
      • Achievable
      • Realistic – Stretch goals are fine, but pie in the sky benchmarks can actually work as a disincentive.
      • Timed – You need to give the campaign time to work. According to Google, “in most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”

    At one time, success was measured solely by where your website would be featured on the Search Results Pages. While this remains an important metric, it’s no longer the most important metric. The most important are those that deliver real value, such as:

    • Improving organic sessions by x percent.
    • Increasing conversions by y per month.
    • Increasing revenues by z percent.

Developing a Budget

And here we get to the nub of the matter. Your goals will define the strategy required needed to succeed. This will then provide the information required to develop an action/implementation plan which defines the work required and, consequently, the budget necessary to achieve the desired goals.

Remember though, that the budget needs to take account of the time to properly plan, implement and tweak a campaign in order to evaluate its success.

That said, the right budget is one you can afford, without losing sleep, for a minimum of four (and ideally 12) months and the lower the budget, the longer the journey

How much should you spend on your SEO?

Well, £99/month just isn’t enough to do it properly. If you are hiring an SEO company expect to pay from £200-300 per month.

If you can’t afford to retain a top level SEO, there are some options. The most common being a one-time website SEO audit with actionable recommendations that you could implement yourself.

Just fixing your website will often lead to a meaningful boost in organic traffic. Content development and keyword analysis are other areas where you can get help from a pro for a one time fixed rate. Another option is to become an expert and do it yourself.

SEO Cost Calculator: Measuring Organic Search (SEO) ROI

Following is a calculator commonly used (incorrectly) for measuring return on investment for SEO.Best Widget Ever - ROI calculator


Of course, the above calculation has a major flaw,
it fails to take into consideration the lifetime value of a new customer.

Online businesses need repeat orders/sales in order to grow. By not calculating the lifetime value of a new customer the true ROI is grossly understated.

The right way to calculate ROI is to build lifetime value into the calculator as seen here:

Best Widget Ever - ROI over a customer lifetime

The Takeaway

Unlike Pay Per Click – (Google/Bing Ads etc) an organic search campaign won’t yield immediate results and, even when executed to perfection, it takes time for Google to recognise and reward these efforts.

That said, the traffic earned from these efforts is often the most consistent and best converting among all channels.

And if you need help with your SEO then please get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or send an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, obligation free chat about your SEO and/or anything else to do with your website and digital footprint

How much is a Page 1 result in Google actually worth?

Elements of Search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need their site to be found higher up in the Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached) consultants offering to this but have balked at the fees.

Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty easy to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet many still believe that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

If you’re confused by the SEO jargon, have a look at my SEO Glossary of Terms for clarification.

Is this possible and what’s the real value of good SEO?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the UK about 85% of the population use the internet. With a population of 65.64m (Worldometers) and this equates to around 56m individuals who are online. Of these, 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for, that’s about 45m people and at least 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice, 42.75m people.

Now, let me ask the question “how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?”

TV Advertising

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing.

According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £201,000.

Clock - how much does a 30 second TV ad costThen there is the cost of your slot. This will vary based on a number of factors

  • your target channel
  • whether you want a regional or national ad
  • the time of day, the product to be advertised
  • the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted
  • etc

So, putting your ad on screen at peak viewing, 9pm, is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower

As a very rough guide, an evening slot on ITV will cost around between £60,000 and £75,000 and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

However if you want your ad to go during something like the X-Factor then a 30 second slot cost will set you back a cool £200,000.

Radio and Print Advertising

So, you may look at radio or the print media, both of which have lower costs (production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a one-off and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

What’s next and a Shameless Plug

Are you happy with the place your site has reached in Google? If not, get in touch today – call me on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

My SEO rates start at £150.00 + VAT per month, peanuts compared to TV, radio and most forms of print advertising.

OK Google, get ready for Voice Search

Amazon Echo with Alexa voice controlOK Google”, “Sir”, “Alexa”, “Cortana” and “Bixby” are all commands that wake your device up and prime them to expect a voice command.

The reality is that your Android Phone, Google Home, Windows 10/X-Box, Apple iDevice, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Echo are always listening, it”s just the command that alerts them that an instruction is incoming.

And because phone keyboards are harder to use than those of their desktop/laptop cousins more and more people turning to voice control and voice search purely for ease and convenience.

As a consequence, it”s vitally important that you understand what you need to do to make sure that your site is easy to find – even when the search is through voice recognition.

Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence

Google Home with "OK Google"Google, in particular, is using artificial intelligence to better understand our spoken instructions and to encourage more conversational searches, such as “Where can I get my Jeep serviced” rather than a more traditional desktop search “Jeep servicing Bristol”.

According to Google, 20% of searches on Android devices are now voice searches and the number of searches continues to increase as users realise that voice recognition accuracy is improving all the time. According to KPCB Internet trends 2016 Report, the accuracy of voice recognition now exceeds 92%

Searching for local businesses

A lot of people use voice to search for local businesses, “where’s the best Pizza restaurant in Bristol” for example so, if you sell pizza in Bristol you need to ensure that your pages are optimised for “Best pizza restaurant in Bristol” and written in “natural language” (written in a similar way to the way you’d speak) which really helps with voice search results.

Optimising for Voice Search

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandWith traditional SEO, you’d have researched the words that people were typing when looking for your products or services and built your site optimisation around those. Now you have to get your head around the types of question that they might ask, just as if they were asking their friends, family or colleagues, as demonstrated in the above example about Pizza restaurants.

One way to start addressing this issue is to consider a dedicated Q&A page where you can pose these questions and add your answers – remembering to keep them more conversational than you’d perhaps feature elsewhere.

The pages that you have optimised for voice in this way need to feature in your Site-Map so that Google and Bing can easily find, and index, them. You do have a sitemap (sitemap.xml) don’t you?

You should even look to include microdata, schema, rich snippets and so on because these little pieces of code give the search engines even more information about your business.

Hi, I'm Cortana, ask me a questionYou’ll also need to ensure that your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business is up-to date and accurate because that’s where Google and Cortana will look for the location-specific search results. You should also check out the other business directories that have your business listed, Yell, Thomson, Yelp etc and make sure that your address details are correct. This simply ensures that there’s no ambiguity about the right address for your business.

Responsive Website Design

Don’t forget that because most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly (Responsive) then Google won’t direct people to you. You can use this free Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website and if you need further help with your site, SEO for voice search, making your site mobile friendly or anything else related to your website then you should give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And Finally

A bit of fun. If you use Google voice search and make an animal related enquiry, try adding “fun facts” to the end of your search to learn something about the animal you have been searching on.

More changes on the way from Google

On 24th May 2016 Google held one of their annual seminars, the Google Performance Summit and announced a number of changes to Google Ads, many of which have been driven by the streamlining of the way that Google Ads are displayed on Search Results Pages (SERPs)

1/ Longer Text AdsOld Google Ad
Previously, Google Ads comprised of a headline of 25 characters, 2 descriptive liners of 35 characters and a web address together with a “hidden” link that takes people to the most relevant page for their search.

Later this year, Google will roll out a new format, to enable Ads to make better use of the space they now have at the top and bottom of Google Search Results,

  • 2 Headlines, each of 30 charactersNew Google Ad
  • Single description line of 80 character
  • Auto Selection of most appropriate landing page (with a manual over-ride)

2/ Better Device Targeting
At the moment, you can target your Google Ads at Desktops (desktop and laptop computers) and Mobile devices (phones and tablets) by setting a bid value multiplier, so you could bit for a desktop keyword at £1.00 per click (for example) and use the multiplier to set a different bid value for mobile devices so, an Ad targeted at Mobile devices could have an 80% multiplier meaning that you’d be bidding £0.80 per click.

Later this year, you’ll be able to target each device uniquely by setting unique multipliers for phones and tablets

3/ Promoted Pins on Google MapsGoogle Ads Promoted Pins
With 1/3rd of all mobile searches being people looking for something in their area Google will be launching the ability to promote your business in Google Maps so that uses will see Promoted Pins along their route – or nearby.

4/ New Look Local Pages
Along with the ability to promote your business through Google Maps, Google are also overhauling their Local Pages so that you’ll be able to include more information, including product inventories, discounts and promotions to encourage visits

5/ New Google Ads Management ConsoleNew Google Ads interface
The current Google Ads management console is now more than 15 years old, New features have been bolted on and, as time has passed, the interface has become less intuitive and harder to understand and use. As a consequence, the Console is getting a complete overhaul and it’s likely that there will be a greater focus on Ads targeting Mobile devices.

As mentioned at the start, these changes are being rolled out this year although the changes to the Management Console are being rolled out more slowly and most of us probably won’t see the new interface before 2017.

If you are having trouble with your Google Ads, or just want it to work better for you, then please get in touch andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020

 

What has Google done now?

On Monday 22nd February Google made a sweeping change to the way that its search results pages looked.

Google removed Google Ads from the RH side of their results, when searching from a desktop or laptop PC.

This is the first major change since 2010, when Google moved from showing a maximum of 10 Ads on a page to 13.

Google added up to 3 Ads at the top of the free results as well as up to 10 Ads on the right hand side.

This latest change has wiped out the Ads on the RH side whilst increasing he number of Ads at the top of the page to a maximum of 4 and has seen Google add 3 Ads to the bottom of the search results.

Now a Search Results Page, which used to have up to 13 Ads, will now have a maximum of 7

Why has Google done this?

Google’s logic is that it wants to bring desktop search in-line with Mobile search, making things simpler and saving money.

I know that most people just ignore the Ads on the right. Even Google reckons that only around 30% of Google users actually look and click.

Although this percentage of users clicking is quite low, the revenue generated for Google is huge.

About 70% of revenue comes from clicks and, with Google the largest company on the planet, this represents a significant income.

However, it’s never enough. The hope is that by just having Ads at the top (and bottom) of the page – more people will click on them.

As well as attracting more clicks, Google will be hoping that businesses will pay more to ensure that their Ads are at the top of the page.

What Impact will this have on businesses

For businesses not paying for Ads, the top free results now appear further down the Search Results Pages. This may mean more people choose to click on an Ad rather than your website.

If your site is not in the top 3 or 4 of the free results, you may find that searchers now have to scroll – and they may choose not to.

This could mean more investment in Search Engine Optimisation to move your site higher on the first page.

The other danger is that Google increases the number of Ads at the top of the page. Google could choose to fill the first page with Ads which would mean that the free results would not appear until Page 2 [speculation]

If you are an Advertiser it could lead to increased costs as more businesses compete for fewer opportunities. However, if you sell products and use Product Listing Ads (PLA) these will continue to feature on the right hand side.

What should you do next?

You need to understand the impact that these changes will have on your website and so I’ve put a special offer together to help.

In-depth SEO review of your website – Special Offer – Save £100.00

Let me take the strain and carry out your audit for you, taking a deep look at your search engine optimisation, providing recommendations to improve and even looking at the way your website is working.

Normal Price Special Offer
1-10 Pages £250.00 £150.00
11-30 Pages £300.00 £200.00
31 – 50 Pages £350.00 £250.00
51 – 100 Pages £400.00 £300.00
Over 100 Pages POA POA

To take advantage of this offer all you have to do is give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and if you need help with any other aspect of your online marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing etc. don’t hesitate to use those contact details to get in touch..

What is “Negative SEO” and how could it affect my business?

Negative SEOMost of us with a website are aware of the term SEO, AKA Search Engine Optimisation – the “stuff” that you have to do to, and with, your website in order to appear as high up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as possible, and ideally on Page 1.

In fact SEO forms a major part of my business – helping your business be easily found online.

What you might not be so familiar with is “Negative SEO” but you should be – Negative SEO is something that your competitors could do to your website, and the worst case scenario is that your site is deleted from Google’s database which would make your internet presence virtually invisible.

So, what is “negative SEO”?
BacklinksOne of key ways that Google judges the importance of your website, and where it appears on the SERPs, is based on the number of websites that link to your site and the quality of those originating sites that have published the links.

In a simplistic way, Google sees each link as a “vote” for your site and the more “votes” you have, the more popular your site must be and so it must be deserving of a higher position on Google’s results pages.

However, if any of these links come from sites that are of poor quality, are totally irrelevant or Google doesn’t like then Google will apply a penalty to your site.

Negative SEO hurts your rankingsA minor indiscretion could see any changes to your site ignored by Google, meaning that your site will slowly drift down the results as other businesses improve their sites.

An “intermediate” issue could see Google apply an active penalty – pushing your site down by 5 pages or more.

For something far more serious, such as buying links from a Link Farm (a website that sells nothing but links purely for the purpose of improving your search results) is likely to see your website deleted from Google – buying links in general, and buying from a Link Farm specifically are SEO tactics that Google simply hates.
How do I know whether I’ve been penalised
There are two key ways to know whether you’ve been penalised – the “Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted” method is simply the realisation that the inquiries that you had become used to receiving from your site have dwindled away to nothing, or that you can no longer find your website in the Google results – no matter how many results pages you look at.

Manual ActionsThis is too late, the smarter site owner/manager will be regularly logging in to the Google Webmaster Toolkit to check, among other things, the “Manual Actions” tab that can be found in the “Search Traffic” section. This is where Google will post notifications of any forthcoming penalties and also provides an opportunity for the site owner to take action and notify Google of that action

What should I be doing?
Webmaster ToolkitThe smart website owner will be regularly logging in to their Google Webmaster Toolkit and will be keeping an eye on the latest links report that can be found by navigating to “Search Traffic/Links to your Site”, clicking on the “More” option in the “Who links most” section and downloading the “Latest Links” to make sure that there’s nothing that they are unhappy with.

To be extra safe, they’ll also carry out a full Link Audit using the full list of sites which have back-links leading to their site, contacting any that are suspicious looking and asking for them to be removed. In Google Land it’s far far better to have fewer high quality links than loads of low quality links.

Alternatively, you can drop me an email, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020 and I’ll lift all of the worry of Negative SEO from your shoulders.