Great content is essential, but it is only beneficial if it is relevant and well-organised. A content audit helps you determine the relevance of your website’s content. Read on for more.

What is a content audit?

A content audit is a thorough analysis of the content on your website. This process factors in your blog, landing, core content, and product or service pages. The idea is to determine whether your content is still effective in helping you achieve your objectives, such as targeting and connecting with a specific audience segment.

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What are the benefits of a content audit?

Helps identify issues with your website content

A thorough website content analysis reveals performance concerns and points out broken links and areas where accessibility is challenging. This way, you can apply quick and lasting fixes to boost its appeal and search value. Additionally, the site becomes more appealing to returning and new visitors.

Enables content repurposing

You should always keep your content fresh, exciting, relevant, and informative. This does not necessarily mean coming up with new content every time. For example, older blog posts can be repurposed to meet new objectives. Therefore, you’ll approach customers differently using the same content to greater effect.

Reveals content gaps

Apart from fixing and repurposing existing content, you’ll identify what content your website lacks and what your audience needs. After interacting with your audience and gathering new information, you can tell what you need to add after a content audit. Therefore, you’ll effectively fill those gaps by relying on up-to-date information.

Ranks content quality

A content audit also looks at the nature of the content in terms of its length, ease of consumption, variety, areas of focus, reference links, SEO, etc. Quality is an important factor when it comes to Google search results rankings. The system can accurately determine which content exists only to increase hits without adding any real value to those browsing. Therefore, you need to remove low-quality content quickly, and the audit helps determine what to remove.

Reorganises content for a bigger impact

Your website may have rich and relevant but poorly organised content. A content audit informs you of this issue and gives you a chance to organise all content better to make it more accessible to visitors and search engines. Ease of accessibility is important in promoting more content consumption and initiating the positive feedback loop where you enjoy even better reviews and ranking.

When should you do a content audit?

The type of content being audited determines the frequency and intensity of your audit schedule.

Blog posts and similar awareness content need time to become effective due to their organic nature. Therefore, you need to give them at least six months before performing an audit.

Consideration content, such as how-to guides, is the most sought-after variety and needs to be as updated as possible. Therefore, auditing every three months is ideal, with six months being the longest you should take.

Conversion content affects overall performance differently, depending on your industry. Considering its relevance, a quarterly audit is necessary to be safe.

Retention content like tips-and-tricks often has the least conversion impact since they aim to inform existing consumers. Therefore, an annual audit is suitable and cost-effective.

Conclusion

It is important to be aware of your website’s content, its effectiveness in meeting your objectives, and its appeal to visitors and search engines. A content audit reveals this information and helps you address all problem areas. For objectivity and efficiency, you need to rely on experienced professional services to handle this exercise. Get in touch today and let us make your website powerful again.

Whether you’re a business owner trying to rank on SERPs or an SEO expert dedicated to getting companies ranking, the news that Google is rolling out a new update is something to be aware of. Even if good solid SEO practice has been in place for years, every update can cause issues and top-ranking websites can plummet overnight. While this doesn’t usually happen, it’s not unprecedented. Even small shifts caused by Google updates can lead to changes in your rankings and an unexpected (not to mention unwelcome) drop in traffic.

Will a new update tank my SEO?

While it’s not possible to predict what will occur when future updates roll out, there are certain things you can monitor to prepare for updates and mitigate any changes they may cause. One key point to remember is that Google serves searchers, not businesses. Their primary goal is to ensure their users find the most relevant and high-quality information quickly. The updates are designed to improve the user experience. Therefore, the biggest takeaway you need to bear in mind is that user experience and the delivery of informative, on-topic, high-quality content should always be the focus of your efforts. 

Seek primary sources of information about updates

As soon as you catch wind of an update, seek out primary sources of credible information. Any action you take needs to be based on facts rather than hearsay. Explanations from Google are usually made in a formal announcement via the Google Search Ranking Updates page. 

When you start with reliable information that informs you of the genuine characteristics of an update, you can get a realistic understanding of the outcomes you can expect for your page as a result of it. 

Objectively review your SEO activities

If you’re reviewing a website in light of an update – particularly if it’s your own website – it’s important to take a step back and be as objective as possible. The financial investment you have made in a website and any emotional attachment you might have will cloud your judgement.

Google themselves have shared provocative questions you can ask to check if your content will help or hinder you: 

  • Is your content designed to help people or attract search engine traffic?
  • Does your content cover a range of topics to try and attract traffic, or does it focus on your area(s) of expertise?
  • Is your content being produced by automation? 
  • Are you summarising what others have said, or adding value? 
  • Do you write about topics you wouldn’t normally cover because they are trending?
  • Do your readers finish your content feeling they need to search again for better information?
  • Are you writing to a set word count in the belief Google prefers a specific number of words? 
  • Do you cover a niche topic because you think it will drive traffic, even though you have no expertise in the area?
  • Are you promising answers to unanswerable questions, like release dates that haven’t been announced yet?

 

Check for correlations between anomalous traffic and updates

If there are areas of your site or pages on it that you feel are questionable in light of a new update, there are a few things you can check:

  • Monitor your website analytics 
  • Have a clear understanding of what Google’s intended consequences of the new update will be.
  • If you notice any traffic anomalies, such as unexplained drops in traffic or rankings, check to see if they occurred following an update. 
  • Understand that a ‘rollout’ doesn’t mean you’ll see a sudden negative impact, gradual changes are more likely. 

Look at other Search Engine traffic sources

Strange as it is to believe, Google isn’t the only search engine. Suppose you have a site that is prominent enough to receive steady traffic from other search engines, such as Bing!, DuckDuckGo, or Yandex. In that case, it’s useful to compare traffic behaviour on Google with others. You can view this data by considering Google vs ‘other sources’ and combining all other search engine data if you don’t have enough from one. 

If it’s only traffic from Google showing anomalies then it’s likely the cause is related to something specific to Google. If so, it’s well worth taking a closer look at the latest update.

Check secondary information sources

While primary sources are vital when you’re first investigating the impact of a Google update, secondary sources can come into play further down the rabbit hole. 

There’s a lot of speculation when Google first rolls out updates, and it can be counterproductive to slog through all this. It’s based on assumptions and predictions, rather than actual data. Once the update has actually rolled out and there is real data to work with, it’s helpful to look for reputable secondary sources. 

Often the best source of secondary data on updates comes from SEO tool providers. They have amazing analytics and frequently share their insights. The likes of Moz, Search Engine Land, Semrush, and Sistrix are all great secondary sources to consult, with genuine experts making observations and recommendations based on hard data collected during the rollout.

 

If digital transformation is executed well, it can accelerate the growth of organic marketing. Down the line, even as economic or regulatory challenges occur, that growth can be maintained. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) plays a fundamental role in digital transformation as it makes websites and pages more searchable. In turn, this:

  • Boosts web traffic
  • Gives you a competitive edge
  • Enhances the visitor experience
  • Improves your credibility

When you undergo digital transformation, good SEO means your website appears above others in search results. If you don’t want to pay to appear in the sponsored results at the top of the page, this is the only way to get your website in front of potential customers. When utilised effectively, SEO can make the websites of even small businesses appear at the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). And, on the first page, the first five organic results account for 67% of all clicks.

Taking full advantage of your digital transformation

Your digital transformation provides a high-quality website and other online materials, but these are of no use if no one sees them. The more authority a website has, the higher it will rank, and this will bring more organic prospects to you. “Authority” means things like having correct links, domains, and information on the site – all part of SEO.

Further to this, SEO can help users find the information they are looking for. This improves the user experience on your website and increases the chances they will feel satisfied after visiting your brand. By bringing people to your website this way, you will also gain insights into what people are looking for when they find you. The data gathered through SEO can provide companies with clear signals of user intent and behaviour.

Digital transformation without SEO

If you fail to address the importance of SEO in your digital transformation, you will not reap the full benefits of your fresh digital presence. A digital transformation is a perfect opportunity to start from scratch with the way your brand is presented – a new platform that potential customers can discover. But without SEO, they won’t discover it.

No matter how good your website looks and works, if it is not optimised for search engines then it won’t be discovered organically. Traffic brought in from paid advertising and social media tends to be less high-quality than organic traffic since the latter consists of people who are actively seeking you out. Give these people what they need to find you by making the effort with your SEO.

The bottom line

A digital transformation can be a powerful way to grow your business, but only if you do it right. Any digital transformation that doesn’t pay attention to search engine optimisation is incomplete and will not take full advantage of the digital landscape.

If you need help implementing SEO into your digital transformation, work with a specialist partner. At Digital Next we have a team of experts who can assist you in the implementation of SEO into your digital transformation and can continue to aid in nurturing this as your business grows.

As a small business owner or manager, the chances are you have heard a lot about SEO and its vital role in digital marketing – but you may not yet know exactly what SEO is – or why it matters anyway!

Our quick primer will get you started.

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Defining SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and it basically describes a strategy of marketing activities that improve your business’s website rankings.

Why SEO matters

Many of today’s customers will find your business online – after all, we work, live and play in an increasingly digital world. But online customers are pressed for time and want easy answers. If they search for your kind of business, they are likely to only click on one of the first SERPs – or Search Engine Results Page and pick an obvious listing. If your website is hidden at the bottom of the SERP – or, even worse, on a secondary page – the chances are your customers won’t find it. So SEO is the work you need to carry out to ensure that customers can find your website with relevant search terms.

How SEO is carried out

SEO is designed to help search bots to find your website content and to index it correctly. It’s all about satisfying complex digital algorithms that search engines use to rank content and to help their customers by providing the best possible results for their search tern queries. So businesses will work out which search terms their customers are likely to use to find them (or a competitor) and then optimise their content to incorporate these terms in a way that suits human readers and search bots alike.

This can be done through activities such as Google ads, good content, well-structured websites, optimised page content and flow, social media integration, referral websites, online reviews, local listings, ‘authority content’, news content and blogs and other tactics.

The most important thing to know is that SEO is a form of good web practice and it’s absolutely essential to stay ahead of the game. Think you’ll maintain your ranking without it? You won’t, as your competitors will be investing in SEO and use it to move ahead of you!

Is SEO difficult?

It needn’t be – and it needn’t be expensive either. But it needs to be well-thought-out and planned, optimised for your keywords and objectives and delivered consistently and well, with ongoing evaluation and measurement to see what’s working and what needs tweaking. For most businesses, this will mean working with a digital agency that can deliver a targeted programme of work quickly – and evidence their results.

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Contact Us

Find out more about how we can help you to get to grips with SEO and to retain – and win – new customers online as a result. Contact Digital Next for a no-obligation chat about your needs and to learn more!

Together, SEO and link building are constantly evolving and changing, and the importance of building quality links is growing more than ever before. It is essential to understand and implement high-quality campaigns in order to stay ahead of your online competitors; this has been the case for some time, and will continue into the future!

At Digital Next, we want to help you hit the ground running and make sure your online activity is moving in the right direction. Here we take a look at link building and the impact it can have on your business. So, if you’re new to this particular type of SEO strategy, we offer you a beginner’s guide to link building.

How can my business benefit from link building?

Links are a key indicator for search engine algorithms to rank listings. This means that the more links from high-quality sources there are pointing to your website, the more likely you are to improve your rankings. There are some other key benefits, however, that are worth keeping in mind.

Traffic from referrals

Rankings are often boosted through link building strategies, but you could also benefit from traffic coming from referrals. A well-placed link on a high-traffic website can result in an increase in your website traffic too. If the website is relevant to your industry, that traffic will probably be relevant too.

Michael Ellsberg, an American author, blogger and public speaker, wrote about an important distinction between putting yourself in front of a large audience, and a smaller one that is incredibly passionate about the topic in question. The point was that enthusiastic followers of a blog may be more willing to listen to a recommendation from an influencer, as opposed to an advertisement that admittedly has a bigger audience.

Nurturing relationships

Link building frequently means reaching out to blogs and websites that are relevant to your industry. Reaching out like this often involves promoting an item of content, like a blog or infographic. While the objective of outreach is to get that link, it can also enable you to build a relationship with prominent influencers in your niche. Relationships like this can boost regard and trust in your business, which can be as valuable as any backlink you get.

Building your brand

Building quality links can help grow your brand, whilst giving you an authoritative reputation for your niche. Certain link building strategies, like content creation, can demonstrate your company’s expertise. If you publish content based on industry data, you could increase your industry’s awareness of your brand as a valuable source of information. By doing outreach to acquire quality links to that content, you showcase your expertise by encouraging others in your sector to share your content and get the word out.

The importance of creating content worthy of a link

Before you attempt link building, you must ensure you have valuable content to link to. Often, this is simply your website’s homepage. It can also be specialised resources like blog posts, tools, infographics or research studies. Sometimes you will have had these assets for some time before beginning the work of link building. In other cases, you create material with the specific objective of acquiring links.

This is a good introduction to the concept of earning links and “ranking on merit”. The foundation of any good link building campaign is to have something of value that’s worthy of a link. It’s not easy to acquire links to content and pages of low value, but if you start with something that has genuine value, people will find it useful or worthy of a share. This makes link building a far simpler and more rewarding endeavour.

After graduating from Nottingham Trent University, I thought it would be important to gain some work experience in a field of interest. So, before starting my Master’s degree in PR, I turned to Digital Next. As Digital Next are recognised as a Top 100 Fastest Growing Technology Company, I thought this would be a great place to start. Social media and content creating has always been one of my main interests.

– Ella Worthington BA (Hons)

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After focusing my dissertation around the impact that Instagram can have on an individual, the role of social media influencers never fails to amaze me.

More than ever, social media influencers are a crucial component to influencer marketing as there are currently 2.6 billion active social media users. They aim to shape audience attitudes through a range of platforms such as blogs, YouTube and Instagram.

WHO ARE THE SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS?

Social media influencers are everyday people like you and me, they just post about their passions for the world to read. As a consequence of this, influencers gain vast internet popularity. For example Zoella, a YouTube sensation, has over 12 million YouTube subscribers. It’s not surprising that they are considered the perfect marketing tool.

zoella social media influencer

Incase you missed just how popular social media influencers have become, a recent study found that the term ‘influencer marketing’ increased by 325% in Google searches over 2017. This is likely to continue as two-thirds of marketing departments are aiming to increase their influencer marketing budget.

This allows for social media influencers to help drive engagement, as well as gaining influence and followers to a brand or organisation.

DOES IT REALLY WORK?

Still not convinced? Well, a recent survey found that 72% of respondents have made a fashion, style or beauty purchase after seeing something on Instagram. An article in Forbes also stated MuseFind found that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than a traditional celebrity endorsement.

Not only this, but in 2017 sponsored Instagram posts generated 1 billion likes. This just goes to show that they must be doing something right.

inthefrow feel unique partnership

As a result of all this, if you find the right influencer for your brand, they will drive more traffic to your site which will lead to more engagement and a better SEO ranking in the long run.

FINDING THE RIGHT INFLUENCER

There are only a few thing to consider before reaching out to a potential social media influencer:

  • Find an influencer that is sharing content and has an audience that is similar to your brand or organisation.
  • Check whether their profile is engaging enough. Have a look at their followers and comments, however, it is quality over quantity.
  • Build a relationship with the influencer and work together. Give instructions but also leave room for creativity.

Summary

It is clear to see that social media influencers play a huge role in influencer marketing today. There is no better time to find out whether this is what your brand or organisation needs in order to reach its next steps. If you think this might be helpful for your brand or organisation, why not get in touch.

Last week Google announced that their popular web browser, Google Chrome, will display warnings to users who access non-HTTPS sites by strongly advocating that all websites adopt HTTPS encryption. Although all sites should be secure and run on HTTPS by default, there are still a proportion of sites that have yet to make the switch, which is why Google will now side with those that have taken the necessary steps in securing their site, rather than those that haven’t. But before we drilldown into these latest updates to Chrome, let’s first revisit what HTTPS is and why you need to run your site over its protocol.

What is HTTPS?

If you’re sat there thinking what is HTTPS, then there’s probably no better time than now to try to gain more of an understanding. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure is essentially a secure version of HTTP, which is the protocol used to send and receive data between your web browser and the website you’re attempting to access. The fundamental difference between the secure version and the not secure version is that, when secure, all connections between browser and website are encrypted to protect the sending/receiving of sensitive data. As such, this heightened security reduces the chances of being a victim of cyber attacks where known web vulnerabilities can be exploited.

Why do you need HTTPS?

Alongside the fact that HTTPS ensures that your entire site is protected and far less susceptible to web vulnerability exploits – which is particularly relevant to those handling customer’s personal data – Google’s search engine actually favours secure sites over non-secure, simply because they’re ensuring that their users can browse their site in a safe and secure environment. As such, sites that run on HTTPS will generally feature higher up the search results for relevant search terms, than non-secure sites. Google have been actively encouraging webmasters to switch to HTTPS for the past couple of years as we navigate towards a more secure web, but last year’s progression was seen as a big step in the right direction with:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on Android and Windows now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web using HTTPS by default

So, what’s changing in Chrome?

Whilst making the switch to HTTPS is no new initiative and Google’s core algorithm is known to already favour secure sites over non-secure, new changes to Google Chrome have been rolled out to identify all sites that have yet to migrate to HTTPS as “Not Secure” as shown in the below image.

Currently, Google Chrome identifies all sites that run on HTTPS as “Secure” with a green lock icon to indicate that the page you’re visiting is a secure page that’s encrypted and protected from cyber attacks. However, Google’s latest update (Chrome 68) is the first change that’s been initiated to identify all sites that are “Not secure”, which means that essentially all sites accessed through Google Chrome will be displayed as either “Secure” or “Not Secure”.

Google’s next planned alteration is scheduled for September 2018 in an update named Chrome 69, which will see them remove the green lock and label in the search bar and assume that all sites run on HTTPS as shown in the above image. As per the previous update (Chrome 68), all non-HTTPS sites will be identified with the “Not Secure” label.

Put simply, rather than assuming that a site is not secure – unless indicated with the lock and label – users can now assume that a site is secure, unless otherwise indicated by the “Not Secure” label.

Summary

Making the switch to HTTPS should be high up on your priority list if you own a website or online business and have yet to secure your website. As such, there is no better time than now so it’s advisable to take the necessary measures to find out whether your site is secure or not and better your understanding of what this means. Should you have any questions or queries as to how to make the switch to HTTPS or why you need to, then why not get in touch with us today to see how we can help to secure your site today to safeguard your website’s future.

Generating a constant stream of website enquiries can be a difficult task, which is why dedicated campaign landing pages should be a core part of your lead generation efforts. There are a number of different elements that need to be well executed in order to create a campaign landing page that will boost the number of website enquiries.

Link Campaign Landing Pages with Your PPC Campaigns

Campaign pages alone won’t do much to boost website enquiries if no one is landing on the page. The winning strategy is to use dedicated landing pages as part of your PPC campaign, this way you can ensure that you are targeting the right users at the right time by using an AdWords campaign to promote the page for the relevant keywords.

Having a well-built landing page also ensures that your PPC campaigns are driving results because campaign pages are often the most common drop-off point in the user journey. By using a dedicated campaign landing page as part of your PPC strategy, you can generate leads using paid search in a way that will be effective and yield high-quality website enquiries.

Have a Clear Goal

The beauty of creating campaign landing pages is that you can have as many as you want (ok, there is such a thing as too many so try not to go overboard) and each one should have a singular goal. Unlike a generic page on your website, you campaign landing pages should have no distractions in the form of multiple call-to-actions, buttons, and links. It should have a clear and simple end goal – in this case: enquiries. The design of the page, copy, and call-to-action need to all work cohesively to reinforce the goal of the page. 

Write Persuasive Copy

Unlike your blogs, outreach, and even your social media content, your landing page copy isn’t here to add value for a user or encourage repeat visits, it’s here to convert. Your copy should be concise and emotive – remember people make decisions emotionally, not logically.

“Content is king” is a phrase you’ll often hear used in marketing, and with good reason. Well-crafted copy not only adds to the overall look of the page but is ultimately what will prompt a user to take action. An often missed detail when it comes to landing page content is that it should tie in with your ad copy. You want to make it clear right from the start what your offer is, so the user won’t feel mislead once they land on the page. How often have you clicked a display ad or a banner, only to be taken to a landing page that doesn’t quite match up? Mismatched copy doesn’t inspire action, and you’ll find that most users exit the page as quickly as they landed on it.

campaign landing page example

Take a look at the example above. There are a number of missed opportunities when it comes to content. The goal of your landing page is to drive enquiries, and instead of taking up the entire space above the fold with a large image, you should utilise this space by adding some enticing copy and moving the form further up the page. What you should take away from this example is that your campaign landing page needs to be fit for purpose. It’s good to have a clean design and remove any distractions, but you still need your landing page copy to persuade users to make an enquiry.

Create Compelling Call-to-Actions

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to continually keep reinforcing the same messaging on your campaign landing pages. To persuade users to trigger a certain action your call-to-action (CTA) needs to be written and presented in a compelling manner, all the while reinforcing the same messaging as the initial ad that led the user to the page, and the page copy itself.

Optimise for Mobile

It goes without saying that your entire website design should be fast, responsive and optimised for mobile, but if you can’t quite commit to a full overhaul, you should make the optimisation of campaign landing pages your first priority. Slow-loading pages and graphics that don’t display properly are just two of the many reasons that cause mobile users to drop off before taking action, something you can easily avoid with a mobile first design. If you’ve got the resources, you should consider making a separate campaign landing page altogether for mobile devices, to ensure a good user experience that will translate into a higher number of enquiries.

mobile landing page

Optimising your campaign landing page for mobile devices isn’t just limited to the design elements. The average mobile session duration is 72 seconds so you’ll need to trim your copy to fit that timeframe. If you take a look at the example above from Human, you can see that the copy is is clear and concise, and the CTAs are specifically designed for a mobile platform. To generate enquiries, you could easily replace the two buttons with a click-to-call button and one linking to an email or an enquiry form.

Add Trust Factors and Remove Fear Factors

Campaign landing pages offer you the perfect opportunity to add trusts factors and remove perceived fear factors that might be obstacles to triggering a user action.

The most important trust factors your campaign landing page needs to include in order to boost enquiries are safety certificates, customer testimonials and a few lines about how the provided information will be used – along with a link to your privacy policy.

Perceived risk is the doubt a customer has when purchasing something – usually a high ticket item – and in this context that risk is usually how their information will be used. By adding the trust factors mentioned above, you can minimise users’ perceived risk factors, resulting in a higher number of enquiries.

Continuously Optimise

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is forgetting all about your landing pages once they’re live, then wondering why the number of website enquiries they’re generating isn’t as high as you would like. You should always treat landing pages as works in progress, continuously optimising them, and even introducing A/B testing if your budget allows.

To find out how we can help your business, take a look at our range of PPC services or get in touch with us today.

The internet and search engines are in a constant state of flux, so it’s important to perform a website audit regularly to ensure you are not missing out on sources of valuable, targeted traffic and conversions. Even if your website is performing well at this moment, in six months’ time SEO dynamics may have changed and you could be experiencing a fall in visitors and drop in search engine rankings. Performing regular website audits helps to maintain continued increases to leads and visitors which in turn will improve bottom line revenues and profits.

Benefits of website audits

Making sure your website is working to its optimum, website audits can help to identify key areas for improvement. Ensuring everything on your website is as fresh as can be, you can identify problems and fix them quickly before it has any negative impact on your business.

By providing you with a report following your website audit, the team here at Digital Next are able to analyse the different ways your website performs in search engines in order to give suggestions and curate strategies to increase rankings and identify valuable opportunities for your business to thrive online.
A website audit can improve both current and prospective SEO strategies in many different ways. Providing details on the impact that current SEO campaigns have had on your site, website audits can make sure we’re not missing anything. Offering competitor analysis to take advantage of weaknesses in your industry, website audits can give you the latest information to help you fix and avoid potential penalties from the likes of Google.

Giving you feedback on website performance and user experience, it gives us the chance to make positive changes to your website which will hopefully result in even more conversions.

Full technical audits

You should also expect your website audit to include a technical audit to ensure all coding is correct and that the site runs to maximum speed levels. An off-site review will highlight levels of authority and trust attained by your website via analysis of anchor texts and backlinks, while a social media audit of your website looks at your business visibility and reviews all current engagement.
It takes time to improve results for any website, but a rigorous SEO audit of your site helps identify all the areas in which you need to improve to achieve greater success online. As soon as you begin to implement changes to your SEO suggested by a website audit you should see organic traffic increases, conversion rate improvements and revenue growth.
These enhancements to your SEO will continue to keep your website working to optimum levels and generating improved revenues to help your business grow.

Here at Digital Next we can provide professional website audits for all types of business clients. Contact us to learn more about our SEO services.

At the start of March, SEO forums went berserk as website owners and SEO professionals saw sudden changes in the amount of traffic their pages were getting. A lot of speculation started around whether or not Google had launched a major algorithm update and whether they were targeting low-quality pages. Here’s a better look at what occurred.

An official announcement

On 12th March, Google announced on Twitter that an update had indeed occurred. However, they stressed that “Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results”. As such, you should not expect that this was necessarily anything out of the ordinary.

In fact, it is widely known that Google often releases multiple updates to the algorithm every single day. A Google spokesperson revealed that in 2012 alone they released a total of “665 improvements to search”.

How is this update different?

So, regardless of there being so many updates every week, it is clear that something must have been slightly different about this one. And, in some ways there was. Google was clear in stating this was a “core algorithm update”, and that they occur “several times per year”. Many people scouting the forums online have claimed that this is another attempt by Google to punish low-quality sites.

However, Google has pointed out that that is not their aim. Instead, the update was just another step in helping to reward good quality content. They stated that the changes made to the algorithm were to benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded.

How might it have affected you?

Well, based on the logic put forth by Google, it all depends on how good your content is. Some site owners have reported losses in traffic of up to 50% or more, whereby others have seen massive surges. It all comes down to how “good” your content is in the eyes of Google.
Other tweets by Google HQ announced that “there’s nothing wrong with pages performing less well”. Also that “there’s no ‘fix’ for pages that perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content”. As such, if you’ve seen your site’s traffic drop due to the update, then there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

In fact, it may be that your content is perfectly good, but just not better than your competitors. As such, the best solution you have is to do exactly what Google wants all site owners to do: publish useful content.

The best SEO advice is to stop focusing on techniques like keyword stuffing and instead spend time writing content that provides useful and actionable advice based on genuine user problems. Then, over time, it’s possible your traffic can pick back up again and that you won’t be harmed by any future updates.

Whether you’re an SEO expert, or you’ve absolutely no idea where to start, Google’s algorithms can catch you out and impact your website in ways you didn’t even know. Google is a search engine giant that introduces minor and major changes to its algorithms regularly; sometimes they’re not noticeable, but other times it requires some work to make sure you’re still appearing in search results.

So, if you’re trying to understand Google’s popular algorithms over the last few years, or you want to see if there’s a correlation between updates and your website’s performance, we’ve provided a breakdown of the biggest Google algorithms to help you make sure your website is well-optimised.

Panda

The Panda update was launched in 2011 and was responsible for seeking out duplicate or thin content, as well as keyword stuffing. This update to Google’s algorithm meant that a quality score was assigned to web pages, and penalised those sites that had low quality or spammy content. The quality score has an impact on rankings, so it was in the best interests of a business to take a look at their content.

Panda was originally released as a filter, but it became officially incorporated as a part of Google’s actual algorithm in 2016. That means getting filtered by Panda, and recovering from it, can happen faster than before.

To make sure you’re in line with Panda, check your website for duplicate content; run regular audits on your site to make sure you avoid any future issues. You should also identify any thin content across your site and ensure each page has a good word count of relevant, interesting content that isn’t over-optimised for your keywords.

Penguin

Released in 2012, the Penguin update was designed to down-rank websites that appeared manipulative. In other words, if you had a lot of spammy or irrelevant links, you could be penalised. Google Penguin identified unnatural link profiles and it works in real time, due to being a part of Google’s core algorithm.

Make sure you are monitoring your link profile, identifying any unusual spikes; look into the new links you’re acquiring. If you find spammy links, request removal of these by contacting webmasters.

Hummingbird

The Hummingbird algorithm update was designed to improve search queries, and help Google interpret searches better. Aiming to provide results that match searcher intent, Hummingbird makes it possible for pages to rank for queries even if the page doesn’t contain the exact words that were searched.

Released in 2013, it meant that keywords are still important but are not necessary the be-all and end-all of search engines. You can adjust to this update by expanding your keyword research, including related search and synonyms. You should also take the time to understand your audience’s language and create comprehensive content that can help both SEO and engagement.

Pigeon

Google’s Pigeon update improved local searches, making them more useful and accurate. The update, released in 2014, created closer links between the core algorithm and the local algorithm. This meant traditional SEO factors could now be used to rank local results.

Make sure your pages are optimised properly; local businesses in particularly should be putting effort into their on-page optimisation. Google My Business pages can also help, and are the first step to being included in Google’s local index.

A helpful move for Pigeon is to make sure you are listed in relevant local business directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor; this has had a positive impact on rankings. This is because they act like backlinks as well as ranking well in Google themselves.

Mobilegeddon

In 2015, Google released a huge mobile update to its algorithm that ensured mobile-friendly pages appeared higher in mobile searches. Pages that weren’t optimised for mobile were seriously down-ranked. Mobile friendliness was measured page by page; so one page of your site could be up-ranked due to being mobile friendly, while others wouldn’t make the cut.

This meant that websites needed mobile versions of their pages; it was no longer a recommendation, but a necessity. As mobile searches continued to increase year on year, businesses were missing out if they weren’t mobile friendly. The easiest way to make sure you’re on top of this update is to make sure your website is mobile friendly, and make sure you’re checking speed and usability.

RankBrain

Part of the Hummingbird algorithm, RankBrain is a system that enhances Google’s understanding of the meaning behind search queries. It makes sure the best matched search results appear, and has been dubbed the 3rd most important ranking factor by Google itself.

The general consensus of the RankBrain update is that it identifies relevance on web pages and will arrange results in SERPs, according to the amount of relevant features on a page for that particular query. Make sure your content is optimised for relevance and comprehensiveness. You should also look at user experience and make sure it is at its optimal, as this can have an impact.

Possum

The Possum update is related to Google’s local ranking filter; Google will return varied results depending on your location as well as how you’ve phrased your query. In other words, the closer you are physically to a business, the more likely you are to see it in your search results. If you share an address with another business of a similar kind, you may be penalised in the search results.

Launched in 2016, Possum required businesses to carry out geo-specific rank tracking; the location from which you’re checking your rankings also plays a part in the results you get. You should also make sure you’ve expanded your list of local keywords.

Fred

Released less than 12 months ago, Google’s Fred update targets websites that go against webmaster guidelines. It was mostly websites that had low quality blog posts created purely for generating ad revenue. Websites with affiliate-heavy or ad-centred content are the ones most likely to suffer from Fred.

Watch out for thin content again, and make sure your ads are appearing on high quality pages with relevant information. In other words; don’t try and trick Google! Review its guidelines and make sure you fully understand how to comply.

If you need help in understanding these updates further, or if you’ve been penalised and need recovery options, get in touch with us today.

Keywords used to be the heart and soul of every SEO campaign. Google would rank sites solely on the keywords in their content and their links. This, therefore, meant that people could judge the success of their SEO campaign purely on how well their keywords ranked. All people had to do was figure out what keywords they wanted to rank for and away they went. This made it easy for almost anyone to set up their own SEO campaign.

However, these black hat SEO ways of working are now gone, although some SEO experts still believe keywords are important. It is true that keywords do still offer some insight on how well your SEO is performing, but there are now that many factors that contribute to the ranking of your website, that the relationship between keywords and SEO success is now far weaker.

Below, we look at a range of on page factors that Google now sees as far more important that keywords.

Website Structure and Navigation

Compass
 

Google now sees website structure as a hugely important factor in terms of how it ranks in the SERPs. As Google has become more sophisticated over time, it has also become more thoughtful about its users. If your website is structured smartly and is easy for users to navigate, then Google will reward you for this. They would rather you use a user-friendly website than be pulling your hair out over a badly constructed, hard to navigate website. The basic structure that Google believes websites should follow is as follows; header, body, sidebars and footer, all including relevant information.

One way to improve the navigation of your website is with internal links. The more internal links on your website, the shorter the journey for a user to travel from one page to another, thus making your site more user-friendly. It is also very important to have a crawlable XML Sitemap that lays out your site. This offers a quick way to communicate directly with the search engines and helps you get new pages and content indexed quicker.

Keywords Placements

It is obvious that keywords aren’t completely dead; Google still needs some form of text to figure out what it is your company/website does. There used to be a relationship between keyword quantity and rankings. However, as explained before, this black hat technique has now retired. Now, Google prefers to see highly relevant, natural information in and around your website with small doses of keywords included in them.

You can break your site down into key areas in terms of where Google offer more authority for keywords. Meta information and headers take top priority with body copy second, and side bars and footers taking the least priority.

Meaning

With the progression of Google’s algorithm comes sophistication and intelligence. Over the years it has developed so much it is scary and it continues to improve every day. In the past, Google took the keywords on your website and paired them with relevant search queries. Now, Google takes in all the data from your website and makes its own assumptions of what your business does. So, theoretically, you could optimise your site for 3 separate keywords, but be placed under 1 category by Google.

Therefore, when optimising your site today, you should forget about keywords altogether and focus on making sure your site is natural, to the point and highlights exactly what you do as a company.

Semantic Search

Back in August 2013, Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm. The major talking point of this update was the switch to ‘conversational search’. Before the Hummingbird update, Google would try and find matches for certain words e.g. for the search “Where is the cheapest place to buy a sofa in Kent” Google would take ‘buy’ and ‘sofa’ and try and find pages to match these key terms. However, the Hummingbird update took search to the next level. Rather than taking specific keywords from a search, it now looks past this and looks at the meaning of the search, bringing a far more personalised and accurate SERP and reducing the importance of specific keywords.

Therefore, if your website content makes you seem like a seller of cheap sofas for locations in and around Kent, you would have a good chance of showing up in the SERP, even if your site isn’t optimised for this phrase.

hummingbird algorithm

Site Speed and Security

It’s no secret that the quicker your site loads, the better it will rank. As we know, Google are always working to the customer’s best interests and a customer is always going to want to be on a site that loads quick over one that doesn’t. Therefore, it is hugely important you work on cleaning up your site’s cache, optimising your images to make sure they are the correct format and dimension, cleaning up your code and getting rid of any unnecessary scripts etc. It is also good to know that SSL encryption helps give your rankings a boost. The key here is to make sure your site is as fast and secure as it can be.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are now many factors to consider over your choice of keywords when it comes to making sure your website ranks.

The onsite optimisation of your site is now far more complex than making sure you have the right keywords in the right places. You now have to factor in Google’s intelligent understanding of the human language and remember that it will make its own assumption of what your company/website does, rather than you telling it through specific keyword phrases.

So, to conclude, the importance of keywords has dropped significantly over the years due to Google giving more importance to other factors, and although they are still part of an SEO strategy, they have fallen down the pecking order a fair bit.

Local SEO first began to make headway in 2005, thanks to the introduction of Google Maps, and Maps data being merged into the Local Business Centre. This allowed users to search for specific businesses. Since then, local SEO has developed and evolved into something much larger; and much more influential. In 2007, Google began to present local business information in SERPs while also letting business owners have more control over their Google listings.

Google Updates for Local SEO

Over nearly the past decade, local SEO has continued to grow thanks to Google’s regular updates, bringing us the likes of Venice, Pigeon and more recently Possum. These updates have allowed for a number of different strategies, including unique results and specific keywords based on location.

possum google update

With the launch of Google My Business in 2014, it’s clear that local SEO is still an ongoing development that continues to be streamlined and improved.

Now, local SEO is more useful, and more competitive, than ever before. 46% of all searches on Google are local, while 50% of those searching for local results are looking for business information such as addresses. The most recent update, Possum, has diversified local rankings; including an update of Google’s filter that applies to local results. Businesses that originally fell outside of the city limits have benefitted, while the physical location of the searcher is now more important.

What’s more, Google’s Local Pack has now been reduced from 7 to 3. This was rolled out across all platforms, and all countries almost immediately. Desktop search results now appear similar to mobile searches; 3 Local Pack search results fit perfectly on a mobile screen. It may be that Google did this from a user experience perspective, or it simply just wanted to show the most relevant results. The Local 3 Pack appears in the top spot in 93% of searches with local intent.

local seo

But why should you really get involved in local SEO? What if you’re a national brand? Local SEO can help businesses of all sizes, in all locations. The amount of ‘near me’ searches has increased drastically over the last 1-2 years, so even if you have stores all over the country, you can implement local SEO to help people find your closest location.

At the end of the day, if you don’t have a successful local SEO strategy, your customers might never find you. Your aim is to dominate your area when it comes to your industry.

So how do you create a local SEO strategy that will boost your business’ ranking and ensure that you stand out amongst your competitors? Local search ranking factors have changed over the past years, making it more difficult to rank for local search keywords, but there are a number of strategies you can put in place to help.

Create a Google My Business Page

Having a Google My Business page is still very relevant, and Google have been pushing this and encouraging local businesses to claim their page. Adding as much information as possible to a Google My Business page can help to set your business apart from competitors and those who haven’t verified their own listing.

By adding more information, you can also increase your chances of appearing in Google’s Local Pack.

google my business

Write local content

To allow your business to compete successfully for local SEO, it’s crucial that you are writing local content on your site. This could mean anything from regularly updating your blog with local news and events, to creating city-specific pages for your website.

Write your content with city-specific keywords and unique pages for each of your locations, if your business operates in multiple cities.

Create authoritative backlinks

Taking advantage of online business directories can provide those necessarily backlinks to your local business’ website. Many citation sites actually have credibility with Google, which can have a positive effect on where it shows in the search results.

In some cases, online directories can actually dominate the top few searches, helping your business to appear at the top.

Depending on your business-type, you may benefit from different kinds of backlinks. For example, if you are a small local business in one town, make sure you’re listed on the business directories that operate in that town. This can ensure you are found for searches relating to your business or your area. If you’re a national business with various locations, you can aim a little higher and reach out to bigger publications in order to boost your outreach efforts that little bit more.

Encourage online reviews

It’s recently been revealed that online reviews are a major factor in achieving higher local rankings. Sites with the most reviews will actually outrank other businesses, while positive reviews will naturally help to gain customers’ trust and even attract new business.

local seo

A recent confirmation from Google themselves has revealed that ads are now coming to the Local Pack. The first result in the 3-pack will now be a paid-for ad, with the following two results being organic listings.

It’s clear that quick fix SEO no longer works; both customers and Google itself are cleverer than ever before and are incredibly savvy to shortcuts taken by local businesses. Development in local SEO has come a long way, and more diverse strategies are needed to ensure your local business ranks high on Google.

To get your local SEO strategy up to scratch, get in touch with our SEO experts!


In our recent blog, Ditch What You Know, And Open Your Mind To Multi-Channel Search, we discussed the many ways in which you can go beyond SEO and PPC to improve your digital footprint, but let’s not leave the staples behind just yet. Today, we’ll discuss how by combining the two you can greatly benefit your business’ online presence and success.

The Partnership     

SEO and PPC are integral parts of any digital marketing strategy, yet many businesses choose to focus solely on one while ignoring the other completely. While certain strategies are best suited for certain situations, e.g. small start-up companies choosing the cheaper, slower SEO over the more expensive, instant reward PPC; it is generally better for most to combine the two to gain the most success. Even some companies that offer these services themselves mainly treat them separately with little communication, when in fact their goal is the same: ‘to achieve the most effective results, as efficiently as possible’.

Double the Data

Double the Data - SEO

The main point to bring up first, in support of a combined SEO and PPC strategy, is that they provide a large amount of similar data that you can funnel into your digital marketing strategy such as:

  • Click through rate (CTA)
  • Bounce, entrance and exit rates
  • Visitor time and sessions
  • Conversion rate

Using this data, you can focus specific keywords that are gaining the most results and are rewarding you the most, enabling you to make smarter and quicker decisions to get the most out of it.

Tip: Double the strategies, double the data to work with. 

SEO Vs. PPC? Or, SEO and PPC?

Google conducted over 400 studies in 2011 on whether search ads cannibalise their organic traffic, if search ads were paused, would clicks on organic search results increase, and make up for the loss in paid traffic?

As revealed in the collection of all the data,

The percentage of paid clicks that are not made up for by organic clicks when search ads are paused. The results were surprising. On average, the incremental ad clicks percentage across verticals is 89%. This means that a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused. This number was consistently high across verticals.”

This shows that using both PPC and SEO has a huge effect on the results generated. Conclusively, it is only when they work together on the same page that they provide the results you are looking for in these campaigns.

Visibility

One of the most important results of combining SEO and PPC would be the extra visibility it provides. A solid strategy for both would provide added results on search engine result pages (SERPs) enabling your business to appear twice on the same page and double the clicks, which could potentially lead to doubling your revenue.

Visibility - PR

Since Google removed the ads in the sidebar to the right of search results, it has increased the value of paid for ads and drove up competition of organic search. With less room on page one for organic search, it becomes vital that you ensure every avenue is explored to elevate your business ahead of your competitors.

Along with this, providing high quality content enables information to appear about your business on the sidebar, increasing your visibility by a large margin. This further stresses the need for a multi-channel digital marketing approach starting with the combination of PPC and SEO.

Some business owners may cancel their PPC ad campaign once they have organically reached top 3, but don’t be too hasty. What’s better? A paid ad at the top of Google and top 3 organically, or one organic link that’s top 3? The choice is easy.

 

Negative PR

A combination of SEO and PPC can help in regards to bad reviews either left maliciously or genuinely. It is almost unavoidable in most industries and you must be prepared for when it does, or at least have strategies in place to dampen the effect. You can greatly control the conversions by controlling a certain term in regards to the negative PR.

Negative PR - PPC

A real-world example of this would be the BP Gulf Oil Spill in 2010, for a while after the event, BP paid for PPC ads to be linked to the keyword ‘oil spill’. This way, anyone searching for details on the oil spill would be shown a page about BP’s clean-up efforts at the top of the list, where a large majority of people would choose the first link shown. Similar strategies like this and a mix of SEO would go a long way to ensure your brand is protected from negative reviews.

Conclusion

In summary, when businesses merge SEO and PPC they gain excellent results from their digital marketing campaigns at an exponential rate. Reducing or completely shutting off one side of this partnership greatly reduces the results. Depending on your situation, this could be a great way to give your company the boost it deserves.

Get in touch with our Digital Next SEO and PPC teams today to see how they can help you get the results you’re striving for!

Content Marketing and SEO have long been described as two people working hand in hand to improve the performance of your online presence. Like Batman and Robin, they make a great team! Fighting crimes, wearing Lycra and attracting a clearly defined audience, but being two separate marketing strategy techniques entirely. However, it has now been said that instead of them being a Batman and Robin team, they are actually more of a Batman and Bruce Wayne collaboration. They are two different personalities in the same person rather than two separate people.

via GIPHY

But what does all this mean? Does it mean that content marketers are walking around wearing capes? Does it mean that we need to start thinking about our alter egos? Let’s just start with some simple definitions and go from there.

What is Content Marketing and SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. The strategies and techniques used to increase the amount of visitors to a company’s website. Therefore, by creating a high-ranking placement in the search results on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Companies can see that their online presence is improved with a better SEO plan, campaign and strategy but what about Content Marketing?

Content Marketing, on the other hand is, the strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing relevant and consistent content to retain/attract a clearly defined market audience to drive up profitable customer action.

How Do They Work Together?

SEO without Content Marketing is rather difficult. The content might be fantastic, the social side of the website might be great. However, if there are no strategies in place to promote it online, then no one is going to see it. You need to market your content! SEO is not all about traffic, views and conversions, its success is based on content planning and promotion.

via GIPHY

If you lose the Bruce Wayne in Batman, he becomes a scary guy in a dark mask solving crimes. If you take Batman’s personality away from Bruce Wayne, you end up with a millionaire that has nothing to spend his money on except for lavish parties (that might sound great but the hangover would last a lifetime).
They work well together, so why think of them separately?

Why Are We Telling You All This?

When it comes to increasing your audience and retaining that number for the future, it all boils down to a great SEO campaign. With three aspects of your marketing strategy: Social, content and SEO, you will see that a multichannel approach works well for any business.

Once you find the right digital agency, you can improve your online presence and rank higher on search engine sites. You can then beat off any competition, increase your audience and therefore improve profitable customer action in your business.

Seo and Content Marketing

Don’t sit there with a great Facebook following, average rankings on Google and poorly marketed site content when you could have so much more, contact Digital Next today.