Is having a Responsive website enough?

When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screens.gif

Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.

Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.

This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.

As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.

The first iPhone

However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.

By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.

By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.

Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.

In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.

And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)

Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.

Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.

How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?

How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.

Three Quality Metrics

For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,

Bounce Rate Mobile Vs Desktop Vs Tablet
Bounce Rate Mobile Vs Desktop Vs Tablet

Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale
0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare)
21% – 50% = Average
+51% – Investigate

In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.

What should the site owner be doing

It’s really simple.

You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.

Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to

  • Buy Something
  • Place an order
  • Subscribe to a newsletter
  • Make contact to ask a question
  • etc

Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.

Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – Saving £50 in my autumn 2020 Special Offer.

I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and we’ll take it from there

Boing, Boing, Boing. What’s the Bounce Rate?

I’ve been a fan of Google’s web metrics tool (Google Analytics) since it was introduced in 2005. For most businesses, it’s free to use. The necessary tracking code is easy to add to your website and provides a wealth of information about your site’s performance but the Bounce Rate is one of the most powerful metrics, a powerful insight into the minds of the people who are visiting your website.

And yet all the Bounce Rate does is record the percentage of people who visit your website but leave almost straight away without doing anything more than viewing the page they landed on.

With 15 year’s experience, my view of the Bounce Rate is as follows

0-20% – Phenomenal. In 15 years I think I’ve only come across 4-5 sites with a Bounce Rate in this area and one of those was only because the site hadn’t installed Google Analytics correctly.

21-50% – Most of the sites that I work with fall into this region. One where between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 visitors leave the site without doing anything

+51% – Any website with a Bounce Rate of 51% and higher really needs the reasons investigating. These sites are hemorrhaging visitors and, more importantly, opportunities but HOW do you go about analysing a high Bounce Rate and turning things around.

Remember, a 51% Bounce Rate (BR) means that over half of the people that you have persuaded to visit your website, whether that’s by SEO, Google Ads, Social Media (And Social Media advertising), e-mail and video marketing or simply word of mouth are just leaving without doing anything meaningful. If your website were a shop, they’d be sticking their head through the door, shrugging their shoulders and moving on. As a consequence, this has to be worth investigating. After all, if you invest in more marketing, all that’s going to continue to happen is that over half of those you attract will just do as the 51%+ have done before – and leave.

Working to reduce the Bounce Rate. Where do you start?

First, ensure that you have a really good understanding of your website because if you don’t know what you want your website to do for your business how do you know whether it’s doing it – or not.

What are the goals of your website? Here are some common ones.

  • To sell something
  • To attract newsletter subscriptions
  • To encourage inquiries
  • To allow people to download something

If your website has a high Bounce Rate where do you start looking? There are many ways to approach this, but I always like to start by taking a look at the website itself. What message is it sending to visitors?

Let’s say, for example, that you sell widgets and those widgets are used to attach the engines to an airliner.

Having a large photo of an airliner at the top of your home page probably looks good to you. And, because you know that your widgets play an important part then it sends a message – to you, and you alone. To everybody else all it actually says is “here’s a pretty picture of an airliner”. Questions that could come into the visitor’s mind might be “is this a travel company?” “do they make the whole airliner” – not – “aha, these are the guys that make the widgets that hold this airliner’s engines on”.

Remember, although you may have 3 seconds to get your webpage open in front of your visitor that’s an eternity compared to the 2/10ths of a second that a visitor takes to “get” your website……..or not!

Once happy with the website the next place that I’d look would be at marketing activity. Are the messages being broadcast by the marketing actually delivered by your website? For example, it’s no good talking a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if there’s no mention of it on your website, or if the offer is difficult to find. Visitors won’t look around – they’ll leave (bounce) and may never come back

Now that the marketing messages align with your website, and your website is as good as it can be, it’s time to dive into the data provided by Google Analytics.

Using Google Analytics to troubleshoot the Bounce Rate

The first place I look is the source of your web visitors.

Google Analytics/Acquisition/All traffic/Source/Medium will answer this one

Website traffic Sources in Google Analytics
Website Traffic Sources in Google Analytics

Traffic Sources Key

Any entry that’s tagged “/referral” is where a visitor to your site has followed a link published on a 3rd party website. This could be an indicator as to how your online marketing is performing

  1. CPC = Google Ads
  2. Google Organic = Google Free Search Results
  3. Direct = Either Google can’t identify the source or people have entered the URL directly in their browser
  4. Bing Organic = Traffic from Bing (Microsoft search)
  5. UK Search Yahoo Organic = Traffic from Yahoo UK
  6. Yahoo Organic= Traffic from Yahoo
  7. m.Facebook = Traffic from Facebook on a phone or tablet
  8. Google.com = Traffic from Google.com
  9. Traffic from a third party website
  10. Traffic from a third party website

For this particular website, you’ll see that the Bounce Rate is very high for the majority of traffic sources and particularly high for visitors from Google Ads. With the majority of sources having a high Bounce Rate it would appear that the problem either lies with the marketing that is attracting the wrong people to the site, the website is failing to meet expectations or the problem lies elsewhere.

Bearing in mind that one of the earlier exercises was to ensure that marketing was sending the right message it’s obvious that, for this website, the problem with the Bounce Rate lies somewhere else

Geographical Source of traffic

Navigate to Audience/Geo/Location in Analytics

Scroll down past the map to see the countries where the traffic is coming from. You’ll see the Bounce rate for each source country. If you are targeting the UK and your UK Bounce Rate is OK then the next step is to try to understand how your marketing is promoting your traffic outside of the UK.

It’s possible that your website is attracting visitors from markets that you don’t serve. I have seen a number of sites that have attracted a lot of visits from the USA. When American visitors have landed it becomes immediately obvious that the website can’t address their needs so they leave immediately (Bounce).

The reality is that there is probably very little that you can do about this but it’ll be a relief to see that the Bounce Rate for your target locations is OK.

For this site, the Bounce Rate is high for all countries so the answer doesn’t lie here and the hunt continues

Visitor Demographics

Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Age in Google Analytics

Although Google can’t identify all visitors to your website it’s still worth checking the visitor demographics. You can check that your website is reaching the age groups that your business is targeting.

Again, for the website being used in this blog, the Bounce Rate is high across the board so the answer lies elsewhere.

Navigate to Audience/Demographics/Gender in Google Analytics

Some companies target specific genders and this enables you to make sure that your visitors are coming from your target demographic. Once again, with a high Bounce Rate for both genders, the answer isn’t here. The hunt continues.

Web Browser Issues

Navigate to Audience/Technology/Browser & OS in Google Analytics

Web browsers are complicated pieces of software and it’s not unusual for websites to hit problems with some browsers and not others. This screen looks at the browsers used by visitors to your website and the Bounce Rate per browser. If a particular browser has a high Bounce Rate, but only delivers 5% of visitors (or fewer), it’s not worth paying too much attention. The cost to investigate, and resolve, the problem probably outweighs the benefits

This website is performing poorly in all browsers so the problem isn’t here either and the hunt continues.

Mobile Issues

Navigate to Audience/Mobile/Overview in Google Analytics

We are all used to accessing the web on our phones, but how well does your website work on small screens. It’s possible that this is the cause of the high Bounce Rate.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Desktop visits have a Bounce Rate in the comfort zone (44.50%) whilst phones and tablets are well above 50%.

Take a detailed look at your website, using your phone. Try to act as a customer and see whether you can spot any problems. Is the site slow? Is the navigation poor? Is excessive scrolling required?

Ask friends, colleagues, family to do the same, and feedback their findings and thoughts.

Next, take it up with your web developer.

Site Speed

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Overview in Google Analytics

I think we have gotten to the nub of the problem. This is a slow website. Although the server is quite slow to respond (0.36 seconds) the technical elements (screenshot above) taken to find the website and start to open it on a device are still under 1 second so the problem lies with the content of the website itself.

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Page Timings in Google Analytics

Google Analytics page speed performance chart
Page Speed Report – blurred to protect the company

This page looks at the performance of every page of your website and details the speed of each page as a + or – when compared to the site average. It helps to identify poor performing pages.

Navigate to Behaviour/Site Speed/Speed Suggestions in Google Analytics and Google will provide information and recommendations as to the actions you should take to improve the speed of your website. This might be a list that you take up with your web developer

Another way to identify issues is to put your website URL into https://www.webpagetest.org . This site runs a speed test three times and then displays the results as a waterfall graph, highlighting the speed of each element of a website, enabling you to identify problem areas.

A web page speed test waterfall chart
A web page speed test waterfall chart

Summary

So, there you have it, a detailed look into the Bounce Rate, and the ways that you can use Google Analytics to identify issues so that you can take corrective action.

Thanks for reading and you need more help with your website’s Bounce Rate or anything else to do with your web marketing all you have to do is get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have.

And Finally

Don’t forget that you can book a FREE 40 minute consultation with me.

Find me: https://seo.enterprise-oms.uk/  |  andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk
Follow Me: Twitter ¦ Linkedin
Phone Me: 01793 238020 ¦ 07966 547146

How clean is your keyboard?

One of my earlier posts was about the cleanliness of your phone, that’s your mobile rather than the phone on your desk, if you have a desk and still have a phone on it, that is.

If you do still have a desk there’s a good bet that it has a keyboard on it, either a laptop or regular desktop keyboard. I just hope it doesn’t look like this one.

Turn your keyboard upside down and give it a little shake to see what falls out. For a lot of people it’ll be a mix of the following

A very dirty keyboard
  • Dust
  • Dead skin
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Lunch
  • Sometimes dinner

Grossed out yet? You might be after you read this.

Consumer group Which? tested keyboards at its London office found keyboards regularly carrying bugs that could cause food poisoning

They tested 33 keyboards by taking a swab and sending the swabs of to be biologically tested for bacteria Four of the keyboards (12.2%) were regarded as a potential health hazard whilst one of them actually had five times (yes 5 times) more germs than one of the office’s toilet seats.

Even more disturbingly, tests from a survey carried out by the University of Arizona found that the average desktop actually has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat and, apparently, women’s desks were worse than men’s.

Chicago’s North-western Memorial Hospital found two deadly drug-resistant types of bacteria (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)) could survive for up to 24 hours on a keyboard, while another common but less deadly bug (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) could survive for an hour.

One of the microbiologists said “your keyboard was often a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut”………

How to clean your keyboard

It’s a good idea to give your keyboard a regular spring clean (and not just in the spring). Start off by shutting down your PC. Don’t put it to sleep, or stand-by, you’ll wake it up when you start.

Some keyboards are waterproof – if you are lucky enough to have one of these then just pop it in to the dishwasher……BUT CHECK FIRST

If not but you have access to a can of compressed air, then use that to blow debris out from between the keys. If you don’t have a can of air you can just turn your keyboard upside down and give it a gentle shake to get all the crumbs out.

Now get a cotton bud and dampen it with water or rubbing alcohol and use it to clean between the keys.

You can also use silly putty

Finally, gently wipe your keyboard soft, lightly damped link-free cloth and finally, finish off by disinfecting with alcohol wipes.

Alternatively, you might be able to pop the key-caps off and wash them separately. However, make a note of where the keys go first. I can remember the time when a former colleague decided this was a great way to clean his keyboard so he popped all the key caps off and washed then in a bowl of warm, soapy water. Once clean he left them to dry and then was faced with a lot of little places where the key-caps belonged……..but he didn’t have a clue which ones went where so ended up buying a new keyboard anyway

Suddenly it makes sense to keep a packet of alcohol wipes in your desk drawer

Obviously I can’t help you with the cleanliness of your desk and keyboard but I can help you with the cleanliness of your SEO, Social Media and other forms of digital marketing so if you’d like to talk about your online marketing then just pick up your phone (wipe it first) and give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

How clean is your phone

Hands texting on a smartphoneI’m not talking about any dodgy apps that you might have, nor any “adult” websites that you might have bookmarked but I’m talking in a hygiene sense.

According to research the average person touches their phone nearly 3,000 times A DAY and the heaviest users touch their phone over 5,400 times, each and every day.

After all, our phones are with us for up to 24 hours a day. At home, at work, on the street, in the car and, ahem, in the bathroom/toilet. Now think about all the things you touch during your average day. Let’s start at home with door handles, who else has used them? Did they wash their hands? Are they well or unwell?

Now let’s go to work. You pop your phone in your pocket or handbag – what else has been in there? It’s dark, warm and humid, a lovely breeding ground for bacteria.

You might open your car door or get on public transport. In the case of the latter, what do you touch in the station, on the bus/train/taxi?

You’ve arrived at your office and casually pop your phone on your desk. A desk which, according to a study by the University of Arizona, has hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat. And this could be your smartphone’s home for  40 hours a week,

Now it’s time for your morning coffee so you head off to the kitchen….who has used the kettle/coffee machine, coffee jar, sugar jar etc.

Toilet with the toilet seat upHow about a comfort break – who has opened the toilet door? Are you one of the 61% of people who regularly scroll while on the toilet (report from the Daily Infographic) because 1 in 6 phones are contaminated with faecal matter? 

Who opened the door to leave the toilet, were they unwell? Did they wash their hands properly? You may as well not bother washing your hands after that visit.

And as if that’s not bad enough, there’s everything else you could touch during an average day, cash machines, PIN entry pads in shops and filling stations, keys, door handles, pens, credit/debit cards, coins, bank notes – how clean are those? Where have they been? It’s almost enough to make you go cashless isn’t it!

Finally it’s the end of the day and time to head home. You put your phone on the kitchen worktop. This should be clean but how about your dining table, your coffee table, side table and bed-side table? How clean are they?

At any time of the day your phone might ring, or you want to make a call. You take your bacterial soup of a phone out of your pocket/bag and hold it to your face transferring bacteria that could give you spots, or worse. It might even touch your mouth and some of the bacteria could then transfer orally, getting inside your digestive system.

A microscope's view of bacteriaAccording to a study published in the journal, Germs, your phone is up to 10 times dirtier than your toilet seat, TEN TIMES! You always wash your hands after going but do you wash them between touching your phone and eating food?

This is a major issue because few of us bother to really clean our phones (wiping the screen doesn’t count). The germs keep building up. 

Studies have found serious pathogens on smartphones, E-Coli (great for upset tums), influenza, Streptococcus and MRSA (cause of rashes and skin infections) – which is a type of bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics. 

So, the next time you have a spot or rash on your face or go down with an upset tummy or the flu, don’t look at who you’ve been in contact with recently, take a long hard look at your mobile phone.

What should we do? Well, you can buy anti-bacterial cleaning packs specifically designed for electronic devices, or you could use standard rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel. Use cotton buds to get in to those nooks and crannies and, finally, don’t forget to take your cover off and clean that too.

Now, I can’t help you with your phone hygiene but I can help keep your SEO nice and clean so why not get in touch, 01793 238020 or andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and we can have a chat about SEO, Social Media or any other form of digital marketing.

Chromebook diaries – Should you buy a Chromebook?

Dell Chromebook, a viable Windows alternativeIn July 2014 I bought a new laptop. It wasn’t a Windows device, nor an Apple Macbook- it was a Chromebook. Having been a business/power user of Windows since the mid-90s it was a major leap. Although it was less of a leap than it might seem because I  still kept my main PC in the office for most of my work, my laptop being used for working away from the office, making presentations, delivering coaching and use at home.

I wrote a number of posts on the subject,

So, as the end of 2018 approaches, and my Chromebook is 4.5 years old – how has it been?

Well, 1st off, it’s the longest time I’ve ever kept a laptop.

From a software perspective, it’s totally up to date, still receiving automatic updates from Google central and, what’s more, unlike every one of my previous Windows laptops, performance has not fallen off. I can still open more than 10 tabs in my browser without any slowing down. I can access all of the Google Docs suite for word-processing, spreadsheeting and presenting, I can use Office 365 in the cloud for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, still read the news, play a few games and do whatever I need to do.

The only thing that has slipped is battery life. I reckon it’s down to about 4.5 to 5 hours now so I cant go a full day anymore. However, that’s a battery issue, endemic to all devices and a simple battery swap would soon restore the status quo

Do I need a new laptop yet?
No.

Would I like a new laptop?
Of course, I’m a techie and a geek and we thrive on new stuff but it’s not a priority.

When it comes to a change, what would I do?
Now, that’s a tough question. I still use Windows in the office and still have a need to work when out and about so nothing has changed in that respect. There are many more lightweight Windows laptops around with long battery lives but to get any decent performance the price is still too high. Way beyond any value that I would obtain so, when it’s time it’ll be another Chromebook although I would go for one with a higher resolution screen. And that’s it – that’s all that I’d ask for.

And if you need any help with technology, websites, SEO or 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 for a free, zero obligation chat about your needs.

Digital Leadership

Digital Leaders

What do these three people have in common?

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Tommy Flowers

Tommy Flowers

Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Vaughan

 

 

 

 

 

 

All 3 were very early digital leaders, Turing for his “Turing Machine”, an early general purpose computer, Flowers for “Colossus – the first programmable computer used to decrypt German military messages at Bletchley Park and Vaughan for spotting the potential of NASA’s first IBM mainframe and leading the way in programming the device to compute spaceship trajectories.

Closer to today

Pierre Morad Omidyer

Pierre Omidyer

Elon Musk

Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the above are Digital Leaders who founded exciting, new and very disruptive tech companies in the early naughties. Omidyer founded e-Bay, Musk founded PayPal and Lane Fox founded LastMinute.com.

But what is Digital Leadership?

Digital Leadership is the strategic use of digital to achieve business goals and  uses technology to gain competitive advantage in both internal and external operations.

Companies and individuals can be Digital Leaders.

Benefits of Digital Leadership

Although the people mentioned above were disruptive, introducing new concepts, thoughts and technology, a business doesn’t have to be disruptive to be a digital leader.

When a company looks to make maximum use of technology and IT solutions across their business – striving for Digital Leadership, they stand to make gains across many areas, including

  • Process Simplification
  • Automation
    • Reducing costs
    • Minimising errors
  • Increased Speed to Market
  • Improved Competitiveness
  • Market Advantage
  • Increased Profit

Just look at the evolution in milking technology to see evolution in action. Think back to a time when cows were milked by hand and the revolution that an automated milking machine brought to the market, enabling a herd of cows to be milked at the same time, requiring far fewer people.

Now, the introduction of fully roboticized milking parlours mean that the cows can get themselves milked at a time that suits them, rather than just at dawn and dusk.  Apparently, cows are happiest when they are milked between 3 and 4 times a day, alleviating the discomfort of full udders as required and happier cows lead to improved milk yield and the roboticized process significantly reduces workforce costs.

Transforming your business

If you want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital and technological revolution, take a step back from the day-to-day running of your business and analyse EVERYTHING. Look at everything you do, ask who does what, why, when, how and invite others to contribute to your research. In other words, stop working IN and start working ON your business.

You could use Post-It notes on a wall and capture the completed research using your phone
Process Mapping

You could Post-It notes on a wall and capture the completed research using your phone

Next, look at ways of making everything “better”. The goal being to work Smarter not Harder so you’ll be looking to – 

  • Simplify
  • Automate
  • Improve

And you can investigate off-the-shelf solution or have bespoke solutions developed. The former will normally deliver a quicker fix but with compromises which mean you may not gain maximum advantage. A bespoke solution will take longer to develop and implement and will probably cost more in the short term. However, the benefits will be far greater in the medium to long term because the solution will be precisely tailored to meet your exact requirements.

When to start Digital Transformation

There’s no time like the present, you might already be lagging behind your competition!

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.

Bluetooth Beacons

Belisha BeaconThe most well known type of beacon is probably the Belisha, the orange ball, containing a flashing light mounted on a striped pole and drawing attention to a zebra crossing.

Well, there’s a new type of beacon in town – the Bluetooth Beacon and businesses can use them in interesting and exciting ways.

What is a Bluetooth Beacon?

Basically, a Bluetooth Beacon is a low energy device (using button batteries that last for up to a year), that can be fixed almost anywhere and which transmits data and/or information to nearby “portable electronic devices” within 40-100 mtrs. Mobile phones and tablets in other words.

Major retail stores are starting to use Beacons to track customers as they move through the store. The Beacon can “push” marketing messages as customers get within range of relevant displays. Your iPhone may use a beacon to determine what section of a grocery store you’re in, see if anything on your shopping list is in that area, so you don’t forget it, and even push a discount voucher to encourage you to buy a particular brand.

Your Android phone could use a beacon to show on a map where you are and provide directions to where you want to go – in your language.

It’s not just for retail outlets though. If you are in business to business you could use a Beacon to push a message out to visitors offering a subscription to your newsletter or  encourage a visitor to install your App. Museums could use Beacons to trigger pictures, audio tracks or videos as you walk past particular displays and exhibits.

You can even use Beacons to provide keyless access, your phone could use a beacon in your car to know it’s your vehicle and send an unlock signal to it, for example.

How do you use a Bluetooth Beacon

The first thing you need to do is decide what you are looking to achieve. You could

  • Push deals and offers
  • Share news
  • Encourage Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Drive engagement at events and shows
  • Help blind people explore locations
  • Push visitor information
  • Unlock doors

Use is only limited by your imagination!

At a trade show, for example – simply place your Beacon on your stand and push your message to any attendee who comes within range of your Beacon.

What’s the likely cost

Avvel X BeaconBeacons can be pretty inexpensive – the Avvel X Beacon (left) for example –

  • runs off a CR2477 button cell which lasts for up to 30 months,
  • has a range up to 100m,
  • is waterproof,
  • is easily programmable
  • 42mm square and 13.4mm thick
  • From £20.00 + VAT


The Next Step

Well, I’ve just ordered one of the Avvel X Beacons to see how it works and what can be done and as soon as I’ve learned how to get the most from it, I’ll post an update here.

In the meantime, if you need any help – get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And remember.

Beacons just send out information, they don’t know who you are, don’t connect to your device, can’t harvest mobile phone numbers and don’t steal any data

Why worry about Accreditations?

I do a lot of work for an IT support company in Bristol – Bristol IT Company – and at the bottom of their website is a list of badges, icons and logos, there’s a couple of ISO related ones and the rest come from well known (and less well known) brands in the IT sector but why are they there and why should you be concerned?

Bristol IT Company accreditationsWell, ISO’s easy, it’s a way of demonstrating a certain credibility by being assessed every year to ensure that we remain up to scratch. A lot of businesses have ISO9001 which is a quality management certification that demonstrates their commitment to consistently provide products and services that meet the needs of our clients. ISO27001 is an information security standard that demonstrates commitment to information security, both their own and that of clients.

The other accreditations come from manufacturers such as Cisco, Microsoft, Dell, Aruba, Cyberoam, VMWare and Veeam and demonstrate that the Bristol IT Company has the necessary skills to not only supply their equipment but to ensure that it is properly installed, configured and supported.

Why is this important
Let’s take a look at the security of your network – they have 2 vendors that are accredited with in this area, Cisco and Sophos. You can buy some Cisco & Sophos equipment on Amazon at competitive prices, have it delivered pretty much the next day and get it up and running very quickly. This might make you feel secure, after all Cisco are a market leader in networking and security – right?

Is this the right way to do things?
Probably not! Even assuming that you order the most appropriate device for your needs, installing equipment using the default settings could cause you a whole heap of pain.

Most hackers worth their salt know, and understand, these default settings making it really easy for them to penetrate your business’s network. It’s almost like advertising that you’ve installed the best locks in the world but have left a key under the doormat.

Not only that but the default settings are a “one size fits all” option that are unlikely to be best suited to the way your business works and could actually slow your network, and internet connectivity, down if left untouched.

You could probably find hundreds of internet forums where people discuss the settings but which ones are the best for your particular needs? Which ones speed things up without compromising security and which ones increase security without compromising speed and which ones are actually posted by hackers looking to lure you into making your network even more insecure?

Accreditation
That’s where accreditation comes into play. By buying your equipment from an accredited supplier, Bristol IT Company will first of all advise you on the correct product that most closely matches your existing and future needs, possibly saving you money – certainly saving you pain.

They then ensure that your network is made as secure as possible by changing default settings to something much more secure and applying their training, experience and skill to ensure that your network is as secure as it can be by optimising the setup and performance of your kit.

Still think accreditation’s just an icon on a website? Well, give them a call on 01173 700 777 or email andy.poulton@bristolitcompany.com to find out that there’s much more to it than a pretty picture

How clean is your phone?

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandIt’s with us up to 24 hours a day but have you ever given any thought to mobile phone hygiene?

Just think about everything you touch during the course of an average day, keys, door handles, keyboards, pens, credit/debit cards, cash and so on. How many other people have touched those things? How hygienic are they?

Have you ever checked your phone in a bathroom or public toilet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you have, apparently most people have checked their phone in a bathroom which goes some way towards explaining why 1 in 6 phones have faecal matter on them.

Green Bacteria possibly from a dirty mobile phoneAccording to research, the average mobile phone has 18x more harmful bacteria than the handle on the door of a public toilet.

Se we go to the loo and then use our phone and pop it into our pocket or handbag, somewhere that’s nice and warm, in other words an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

A little later, we take our phone out of it’s bacterial breeding ground and hold it to our face to use it. Some of the bacteria transfer to our hands, some to our face where it can cause acne, some of the bacteria is now on our hands so we can transfer it to others when we shake hands, touch money or other door handles

Because few of us bother to really clean our phones (wiping the screen doesn’t count) the germs keep building up and they include E-Coli (great for upset tums), influenza and MRSA (causes rashes and skin infections)

So, the next time you have a spot or rash on your face or go down with an upset tummy or the flu, don’t look at who you’ve been in contact recently, take a long hard look at your mobile phone

So, what should we do? Well, you can buy anti-bacterial wipes specifically designed for electronic devices, or you could use standard rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel. Use cotton buds to get in to those nooks and crannies and, finally, don’t forget to take your cover off and clean that too.