Category: Guides

Regular SEO Maintenance – What You Should Be Looking For

Regular SEO Maintenance – What You Should Be Looking For

With the year coming to a close very shortly, now is a great time to roll up our sleeves and give our websites a review.

Your website may be optimised to perfection, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need regular maintenance. There are so many changing aspects to a website that there can often be a knock-on effect if a broken part is left alone for too long.

Simply put, there is no ‘end’ to SEO. It is constant and should always be put into practice, and the goals are always changing.

Some SEO tasks do only need to be carried out once – such as moving from HTTP to HTTPS. Others are regular tasks that should be done monthly or weekly, such as creating content. Some tasks may only need to be done on a quarterly or yearly basis.

Many online marketers will be using the final month of the year to plan out their SEO strategies for 2019. It’s important to also review that’s already in place to ensure all the cogs are working correctly so that you can start the New Year on the right foot.

Here are some of the SEO tasks you should be proactively assessing regularly to ensure your website is running smoothly from a search engine point of view.

Crawling for Broken Links

Pages get altered, moved, deleted and replaced quite often, as do images. The same goes for resources you may be linking out to.

It’s important to note how the URL is affected when these alterations are made, as more often than not, you will find broken internal links and 404s as a result of the URL changing. There are some very handy tools available that will crawl your website and notify you of any broken links, which can be far more effective than manually reviewing every page.

Page Speed Testing

Page speed, particularly for mobile experience, is becoming a vital factor in recent times. It is a huge part of user experience, and the best possible user experience should always be a goal.

Sometimes even what appears to be the smallest of alterations can have an effect on page loading times. Additional fonts, JavaScript and optimised images are just a few of the common culprits.

Smaller websites (less than 1,000 pages) should have all of their pages tested regularly. For larger websites, you should take a sample of your highest traffic-inducing pages and any other critical pages. You should also identify the pages in the bottom 10 percent in terms of organic traffic, pick out any that are of use, and test them also.

Of course, the test isn’t manual. Google analytics offers the data you need, and you can also use 3rd party websites such as GTmetrics and Pingdom to test the speed and receive recommendations of how to improve the speed.

You want to aim for load speeds of less than 3 seconds, though ideally 1 second is the goal.

Audit your Plugins

This is valuable for page speed, security and user experience. Keeping your plugins up to date will ensure they run smoothly, quickly and don’t have any vulnerabilities.

WordPress sites in particular often rely on plugins for most of their main functionality. Therefore if a plugin goes out of date and no longer works correctly, your users could be left with broken pages, forms that don’t work or other broken functionality that effects user experience.

Whilst you are updating your plugins, you may also want to consider if some of them are no longer necessary or if you can consolidate them into one. This can improve your load speeds quite dramatically.

Cross-Browser Testing

Again, this boils down to user experience. You may have changed a few things on a certain page and not realised how it has impacted the responsiveness (how the page appears on different sized screens and devices) or how it performs on browsers other than the one you use regularly.

Some CSS changes, for example, may look great in the latest version of Google Chrome, but don’t play nice in older versions of Firefox or (dare I say it) Internet Explorer. This can result in a poor user experience, and we don’t want that.

Unfortunately, it is a manual testing process, though there are some tools out there that allow you to view pages across multiple browsers and devices without having to physically have them available to you. Luckily it shouldn’t take very long per page to actually test, though.

Keeping on Top of Negative SEO

Keeping on Top of Negative SEO

How to combat incoming spam links, scraping content and affiliate hijacking to ensure you keep your organic SEO efforts intact and your rankings positive.

In some cases, getting to the top is far easier than maintaining the position, and often times this is applicable to SEO. Ranking highly, especially for very competitive search terms, can paint a target on your website, because it’s exactly where your competitors want to be – in first place.

Some competitors may even resort to negative SEO in an effort to try and take your website out of the top positions so they can snatch a better ranking for themselves. In a nutshell, negative SEO is the act of attempting to entice a penalty or reduce authority of a competitor’s website using off-page methods.

The most shocking part about negative SEO is how mainstream and available it has become. Certain freelance sites even include adverts selling negative SEO services claiming to be able to sabotage your competitors’ rankings for very small fees.

Inbound Spam Links

The most common and usually easiest form of negative SEO. This is generally achieved by sourcing unscrupulous sites and adding links back to the “target” website. Link farm sites are some of the worst sources of spammy links in this case, and a high volume of links can be achieved with little effort, whilst the results can be devastating. Even just a few high-spam links can have a huge negative impact on the performance of a website.

To combat this, be sure to audit your inbound links regularly using any of the great SEO tools out there, such as AHREFS. If you see an incoming link that looks suspicious, be sure to disavow them with immediate effect. When you have identified the culprits, you will be able to export this list as a .txt file and submit it to Google’s disavow tool. Google will then ‘ignore’ these links moving forward, but they also suggest you don’t simply rely on the disavow tool entirely. We recommend you enable Google Search Console Notifications in order to receive email notifications regarding broken and spammy links.

If you want to get serious about backlinks, though, you can invest in a premium tool that will offer much more insight. SEMrush is an excellent choice as it not only allows you to monitor backlinks effectively but is also a great tool for keyword research, competitor analysis and much, much more. In fact, it’s a tool we can’t live without here at Soar Online and you can always try it out for a 30 day free trial to see if it’s your cup of tea.

Scraping / Duplicate Content

This can be a little more difficult to monitor than inbound links, but it is still something you should be keeping an eye out for. Often times, competitors will just lift content from your website and use it on their own, thus causing duplicate content issues. Tools such as CopySentry (by CopyScape) can monitor for plagiarism for a small cost.

Affiliate Hijacking

A more complicated negative SEO tactic that involves a series of fast JavaScript redirects with affiliate tracking parameters that trigger when a search result is clicked..

An example of an affiliate tracking URL would be: https://www.exampledomain.com/us?utm_source=LinkshareUS&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=10&utm_content=1&_$ja=tsid:35426|kw:je6NUbpObpQ|cgn:je6NUbpObpQ&siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-KYZsvI723uwNs5eT26NFUg

This usually results in the affiliate ID gaining credit for any purchases made through users clicking on the organic search listing. Let’s say this credits the affiliate with £1 per transaction made, and your online store attracts 10,000 visitors per month. This could result in thousands of pounds of illegitimate affiliate fees racking up.

Be sure to monitor your Google Analytics and affiliate tracking very closely. In most cases, you wouldn’t have affiliate links coming from organic search.

A-Z of SEO in 2018

A-Z of SEO in 2018

A – AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Going hand-in-hand with the introduction of the mobile first index, AMP renders pages using optimised HTML code, resulting in pages loading far quicker than usual. Very important for mobile experience and pagespeed.

B – Backlinks

One of the bread and butter features of Organic SEO for a long, long time. Backlinks are an incoming link from one web page to another on a different domain. Even in 2018, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors.

C – Content

Content is king. The information contained on a website and (most importantly the quality of it) has a huge impact on whether it is valuable or of interest to a user. This is another of the most important ranking factors currently.

D – Duplicate Content

Information that is very similar or identical between one page (or domain) to the next is a big no-no in SEO. Quality and unique content creation is what you should be aiming for.

E – Evergreen Content

This refers to content that continues to remain relevant and fresh for readers. A big win for SEO.

F – Fetch as Google

A tool contained within Google Search Console that allows you to test how Google crawls and/or renders a particular URL on your website. Very handy for debugging any crawl issues you may be encountering.

G – GSC (Google Search Console)

You may have known this previously as Google Webmaster Tools. A very handy dashboard for monitoring your website’s presence on Google SERPs and performing any SEO housekeeping and maintenance, such as updating sitemaps and reviewing your internal linking structure.

H – HTTPS

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) refers to a site’s encryption and protection and has been a ranking factor since 2014. A non-secured website without an SSL certificate would be HTTP.

I – Information Architecture

The optimisation of structure and organisation of a website’s content in order to make for easier indexing.

J – Javascript Rendering

Previously you may have come across the old “Google can’t crawl Javascript” statement, however this is no longer the case. It’s still a good idea to use Fetch as Google, though to fetch and render any pages that are utilising JS.

K – Knowledge Graph

Google’s knowledge base is known as Knowledge Graph and presents an infobox in the search results, displaying information collated from a variety of sources

L – Latent Semantic Indexing

A can of worms when it comes to learning and discussing semantic search, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a hot topic for debate in the SEO world.

M – Mobile First Index

Google now crawls your website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. The days of mobile-friendly websites being a bolt-on are long gone.

N – Negative SEO

The act of maliciously attempting to affect a website’s rankings by implementing black-hat SEO techniques. Essentially sabotaging someone’s Google rankings.

O – Orphan Pages

Any page on your website that isn’t linked to any other pages. These are essentially useless for SEO as bots can’t reach them. They can be properly addressed by good Information Architecture.

P – Pagespeed

How quickly your website and pages load. Google’s “Speed Update” has made mobile pagespeed in particular an even more important factor.

Q – Query Deserves Freshness

The QDF algorithm update determines what search requests and topics deserve newer, fresher and up-to-date search results

R – Rankbrain

Google’s AI learning algorithm that processes search results. Very technical stuff!

S – Schema Markup

Structured Data or Schema Markup is a way of adding microdata to your website to create an enhanced description in search results pages (rich snippets).

T – TrustRank

Google’s TrustRank measures the trustworthiness of your links and content, aiming to filter out illegitimate results

U – User Search History

The queries users have searched for in the past can influence the results of their later searches, aiming for a more personalised search experience.

V – Voice Search

An increasingly popular way to search, Google Voice Search allows users to search by speaking directly to their computer or mobile device. Quite possibly the next major evolution of search.

W – Wikipedia

Wikipedia has become the key data source for Google’s Knowledge Graph following the closure of freebase.com in 2015.

X – XML Sitemap

A document that gives webmasters a way of helping search engine bots better understand pages and URLs on a website, thus increasing crawl efficiency.

Y – YouTube Videos

55% of all Google searches contain at least one video in the results, making YouTube a good platform to include in any SEO strategy.

Z – Zero-Result SERPs

A Google experience in 2018 that resulted in a set of searches displaying only a Knowledge Card and no further organic results.

Getting The Most Out Of Customer Reviews

Getting The Most Out Of Customer Reviews

You may have gone to the effort of driving customers to review your products or services, but you may well be missing out on a few untapped areas where these reviews will really shine. Lets take a look at how we can utilise the full value of your customer reviews and drive organic traffic to your site as a result.

Quality user-generated content, such as product or service reviews, can be a major factor in driving conversions and are a great way of bolstering your pages with unique, relevant content.

If you lack the resource to write quality content by yourself, customer-generated content can be particularly useful. However it is important to note that without the correct optimisation, these reviews can do more harm than good.

Page Speed

Page speed is becoming more and more important in SEO, so it is vital to take this in to consideration when utilising customer reviews on your product or service pages. For example, if you have a feed that displays hundreds of customer reviews, you can expect your page speed to take a hit. It is quite common practice to display a standard 8 – 10 customer reviews with correct HTML markup, with the option for transitioning to viewing the other remaining reviews.

There a couple of different ways to tackle this:

  • You could, for example, create a separate page that is optimised for “product + reviews” search queries, which is linked to via a “read all reviews” link on your product / service page. This is a system utilised very well by Amazon:
  • By using pagination, you can display (for example) 10 reviews on your product page initially, with ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons for users to browse through multiple lists of reviews. If your pagination is implemented correctly (rel=next / prev), this content will still be crawled by search engines.

Structured Data Markup

By utilising review schema markup, including the aggregate rating and number of reviews, you can gain rich results in the SERPs. This does wonders for your click-through rate and may well give you the edge over your competitors in the results. However, it is vital that it is implemented correctly to avoid and penalisation.

  • Mixing two different schema vocabulary encodings. You’ve decided to code in JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD), but your review provider is using Microdata. The result? Two different languages not speaking to each other. In order to achieve the rich result, all product properties must be encoded to the same vocabulary. Ask your review provider to update their feed with the same schema encoding you have on your site.
  • The reviews have been marked up outside the itemscope product. This applies to Microdata markup, not JSON-LD. Your page has a separate div the customer review content is pulled into, that lives outside of the div you’ve marked up with your Microdata product schema property. Unfortunately, this is like trying to have a conversation with someone on the other side of a door. Search engines can’t make the connection that the marked-up reviews pertain to the same product you’ve outlined in your schema and therefore does not assign the ratings and reviews to the rich result.

Syndicated Reviews

Utilising reviews from other vendor sites is quite commonplace, and often retailer websites will use the same reviews across multiple country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). This can cause duplicate content issues, dilute the value of the page and, in worst-case scenarios, result in a penalty. If you are using syndicated reviews, you may want to weigh up your options for protecting your content or your rankings.

The best way to combat this, is to block any syndicated reviews from search engine crawlers. Amazon is the perfect example of this – they used to display their Amazon.com reviews on the Amazon.ca pages by default. However, they later amended their code to still show the reviews on the .ca site, however they were blocked from crawlers and instead had links to their main Amazon.com website to read more reviews.

XML Sitemaps

With your customer review pages in place, it’s important to give Google a hint that they have been updated. By updating your sitemap to include these pages, you will incentivise the recrawl of those specific pages.

Summary

To summarise, customer-generated reviews are an excellent way to add unique content to your website and can be a powerful conversion tool. However, it’s important to audit your reviews for the following:

  • Page load times
  • Structured data markup
  • Syndicated reviews
  • XML sitemaps

With those points tackled successfully, you can increase your organic search growth significantly.

 

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mobile Engagement

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mobile Engagement

Mobile web traffic and usage continues to grow at extraordinary rates, but traditionally it tends to offer less than half of the conversion rates that desktop enjoys (according to a Monetate study).

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mobile Engagement

It can be safe to say that mobile users tend to be “surfers” rather than buyers. Mobile checkouts can often be less convenient than their desktop counterparts, with the majority of consumption occurring in dedicated apps as opposed to through websites.

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mobile Engagement

However, with the arrival of the mobile-first index and the ever-growing popularity of voice search, now is as good a time as any to plan and execute the optimisation of your mobile e-commerce platforms. Here are a few tips for improving your mobile conversion rate:

Speed is Key

Google recently announced that mobile page speed would become a ranking factor in July of 2018. The speed that your pages load is a key factor in user experience and bounce rates. According to research by Kissmetrics, even a 1 second delay in your page loading could result in a 7% loss to your conversion rate!

5 Ways You Can Increase Your Mobile Engagement

Take the time to implement a mobile-responsive design to your website or invest some research into Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. But even a responsive design can still suffer from speed issues.

Here are some easy steps to reduce your mobile page speed:

  • Minify JavaScript and cascading style sheets (CSS).
  • Enable caching.
  • Implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP) code.
  • Optimize images to smaller pixels and the .jpeg format.
  • Reduce server response time.
  • Reduce navigation and redirects — leverage the long scroll.
  • Load above-the-fold content before below-the-fold content.
  • Eliminate pop-up ads.
  • Enable gzip compression on CSS and Hypert Text Markup Language (HTML) files.

Optimise Your Checkout

The downfall of mobile checkouts can often be because of their cumbersome nature. Navigation and usability, as well as the security factors surrounding inputting credit card details on public WiFi, are the main culprits.

Unfortunately a large part of this will be down to customer preference, but there are a few things you can implement to give your mobile checkout the best possible chances of converting.

Primarily, you should attempt to limit the number of clicks it takes to reach checkout. Try to contain all necessary checkout information to one page, with easily navigable fields and buttons. If you want to build trust factor, try integrating payment services which are trusted and secure, such as PayPal.

Scale Your Content

The mobile version of your website doesn’t have to contain absolutely everything your desktop version does – and it shouldn’t. Your mobile pages should be easily digestible whilst still offering the valuable information your visitors want.

You should write shorter headlines that are more likely to attract potential customers’ attention through their social news feed or on a mobile search engine results page (SERP). You should also provide more concise and clear calls to action.

Calls to Action & Feedback

It’s absolutely crucial that you include a strong call to action “above the fold” on your mobile pages. It’s just as important that users receive some sort of visual feedback whenever they have completed an action. It’s quite common for users to assume your pages aren’t working correctly if you don’t provide a tactile response to a click or action.

So long as it doesn’t affect your page speeds, try including a visual response to user interactions to improve your mobile user experience.

SMS Remarketing & Push Notifications

Making the most of mobile device capabilities can be a powerful way of remarketing. Make sure of Push notifications and SMS (yes, it’s still applicable in 2018!) to advertise promotions and limited time special offers. This can even be used to drive ads to people if they’re near your business, using location-based tracking.

To Summarise

The mobile search landscape continues to expand and take over traditional desktop search. However mobile search and advertising are fairly limited by the devices themselves. Re-optimising your strategy using different messaging and alternative marketing strategies to improve your conversion rate is key.

How to Optimise for Voice Search

How to Optimise for Voice Search

Voice search isn’t exactly a new feature, however with the rise in popularity of smart home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, voice search is quickly becoming an aspect of marketing that can’t go ignored if you want to have an edge over your competitors (or keep up with them!).

But even at this moment in time, there is no clear guidelines from Google themselves about optimising for voice search. That’s when the keen, smarty-pants SEO experts step in to be ahead of the curve.

Who is using voice search?

Understanding the demographic behind voice search usage is the very first step. Luckily, Stone Temple Consulting have released their findings after surveying 1,000 people about their use of voice commands:

  • People are becoming more comfortable using voice search in public.
  • The 35-to-44 age group is the largest segment using voice search.
  • The 25-to-34 age group is most comfortable using voice search in public.
  • The heaviest users of voice search have an income above $50,000 per year.

How to Optimise for Voice Search

Remember Alexa and Google Home? Well, if you take a look at Gartner’s research below, it has predicted that by the year 2020, 75% of homes in the US will have a smart speaker. We can assume that this trend will be very similar over here in the UK, too:

How to Optimise for Voice Search

Voice search ranking factor

It’s difficult to predict exactly how users will be interacting with their devices when it comes to voice search, and it may largely differ between those devices.

A study by Backlinko, based on 10,000 Google Home search results, has some very interesting findings:

  • Answers are 29 words on average. When you’re structuring the data you want to become a voice “answer,” make sure it’s short and to the point. This means formatting the page so an answer can be easily drawn from it and understood to be a complete answer to the question.
  • The average writing level of a result was targeted to the ninth-grade reading level, so keep it simple.
  • Presently, voice search results seem to serve a more generic audience. I don’t expect this to last long; ranking for the present requires writing to the masses.
  • Google may eventually cater the reading level to the individual searching and implied education level of the query.
  • The average word count of pages used to draw voice search results was 2,312 words. This suggests Google wants to draw results from authoritative pages.

So it’s important to note that when creating content, we need to bear in mind the entity being discussed and the intent we need to satisfy when optimising for both voice and general search.

What’s an Entity?

To put it simply, an entity is a noun connected by relationships. When somebody makes a search, Google looks up their database of entities and tries to determine the most relevant answer to the searcher’s intent, whilst comparing it with other entities to determine various traits. For example, when searching a particular celebrity’s name, this entity could be linked to multiple other entities by way of family relationships, but also the particular celebrity’s birthday or any work they have been involved in (such as particular movies, bands, albums etc).

But this is when, for example, searching for somebody who has the same name as a celebrity, the result with more prominence will be served – most likely the celebrity in this instance – particularly when there is a relevant Wikipedia page available.

For example, If I were to say “Ok Google, who is David Foster?”, I’d be presented with a result from the Canadian musician’s Wikipedia page as opposed to my profile here on Soar Online. This is simply because the Wikipedia article will have sufficient content on the musician’s page itself as well as supporting articles linked to that entity such as associated acts, albums, nominations etc.

So understanding how entities relate to each other and giving concise and easily digested information, on as many related topics as possible, will ensure that Google sees us as the authoritative answer.

User Intents

So far it’s safe to say that optimising for as many related entities, questions and related content as possible is a critical factor when trying to rank for voice search. When Google determines which entity to serve to the user, it largely comes down to the user’s intent, which is based on a combination of related factors from previous queries. It also uses a system of metrics related to authority and relevance to determine which would win in a generic environment.

If we assume that Google uses their patent of “Ranking Search Results Based On Entity Metrics”, we can determine that Google uses these 4 metrics to determine the strength of an entity:

  • Relatedness. As Google sees relationships or entities appear relatedly on the web, they will connect these entities.
  • Notability. This relates to notability in the field. Basically, it takes into account the popularity of the entity in question and also the popularity of the field as a whole.
  • Contribution. Google will weight entities by reviews, fame rankings and similar information
  • Prizes. More weight will be added to an entity or aspect of that entity based on prizes and awards. This isn’t referring to a lotto but rather something like a Grammy.

The next step in ranking on voice search is to isolate which entities will have these metrics and cover them by writing targeted content well.

Cover the core answer, but also consider all the various entities connected to that answer to reinforce that you’re referring to the same entity and also have the authority and information to give the best answer.

Summary

To put it simply, if you want to optimise and rank well for voice search, it boils down to having these three things:

  • A strong domain
  • Strong content
  • Content divided into logical and easily digested segments
Quick How To: FAQ

Quick How To: FAQ

Being able to answer the questions of your target market, be it in an FAQ format or throughout your overall content, is only getting more and more important as Google continues to hone its service; offering its users fast, accurate and quality information based on their queries.

Since updating their algorithm in 2016, Google have focused heavily on their machine learning technology, particularly to better interpret a user’s intent when they are conducting searches. It’s Google’s goal to provide the best, most accurate answers to their users, so as a website owner you should be targeting the most searched-for questions and provide good quality content that answers these questions thoroughly.

The best place to start your research into what questions are being asked by your customers, is by looking at the data provided by Google Analytics. By regularly reviewing this information, you can gain a solid understanding of the most popular content on your website. If you have an internal search facility available, you can also look at the most searched for terms; either route will give you a good indication of exactly what users are looking for on your website, most frequently.

Another interesting feature to take influence from is the “people also ask” box in some Google SERPs, which can aid you in semantically optimising your content around similar questions. Combine this with Google’s suggested searches and Related Searches and you should have a good variety of questions to tackle.

There is some debate as to which is the best way to actually address these questions and answer them, though. With Google’s featured snippet coming in to play, a popular method is to create good quality content on dedicated pages to answer questions individually, as opposed to a traditional FAQ page. A combination of the two works quite well, with an overall questions page that links to dedicated answers.

WordPress can work extremely well in this particular scenario. By creating a post that answers each question, you can collate your posts on a single page, with excerpt snippets, and direct users to the full article via the handy ‘read more’ link. But remember, you should aim to improve on what answers are already available via Google, and this is no easy task. Be original and creative, but stay focused on being informative and avoid ‘thin content’ at all costs!

How To Keep Your Sandbox To Yourself

How To Keep Your Sandbox To Yourself

It’s extremely useful to have a testing environment for your website, where you can try out new features, tweaks or strategies without effecting your live site. In most cases, however, you will want your sandbox environment kept out of the search engines, so here are a few tips on how to keep it under wraps and out of Google’s index.

Is Your Test Server Currently Being Indexed?

It’s as simple as running a simple Google search query to see if any pages from your development site have been indexed. Use site:yourdomain.co.uk and see how many results are being served, or you can use third-party software to achieve the same end result, it’s entirely down to your preference.

If your site is being indexed, there are a number of ways to correctly prevent this from happening in the future. You can also submit a URL removal request in the Google Search Console, which should remove the page from the index for around 90 days, so you have time to put corrective measures in place.

HTTP Authentication

Any sensitive areas make great use of HTTP Authentication. Anything you want to be hidden from the public eye and out of the search engines can be secured using server-side authentication.

IP Whitelisting

Another great way of securing your content is by only allowing known IP address to see it. This could be your internal network, clients etc.

Robots.txt and Noindex

Unfortunately Noindex in your Robots.txt file isn’t officially supported, and may not work in the long run and for all search engines. It also gives a pointer toward where people shouldn’t be looking!

Noindex Tags

You can also add a Noindex tag in the robots meta tag or n X-Robots-Tag in the HTTP header. However, this means that Google still has to crawl the pages to even see the tag.

Top Tips For Site Migration

Top Tips For Site Migration

Are you planning on migrating your website? If not done right, a migration can harm a site’s rankings more than you think, in fact it can be quite catastrophic in some cases. Whether as part of a business move or you are simply implementing HTTPS, if you don’t take search engine habits into consideration, you could be at a loss.

Here are a few SEO basics to cover to ensure that you get the most out of your migration and avoid any mishaps.

Is migration the right move?

Google takes a little time to process changes like that of migration, so you can expect a small loss of traffic in almost all cases. You can minimise this fluctuation as best you can, and the best-case scenario would be for Google to treat the ‘new’ site as though it was the original. But there are really no immediate benefits to a site migration from an SEO standpoint, and it certainly doesn’t remove any penalties. Migration is only really worth it when rebranding is required or when HTTPS needs to be implemented.

Use a Testing Environment First (Sandbox)

Test. Test. Test. You should never make a major move, like a migration, without first using a test server to ensure everything will run as smooth as possible. Make sure to test your redirects to save yourself a headache later!

Migrate During Quiet Periods

Plan your migration around your business calendar, assuming there are some sort of seasonal trends to your website traffic. During or shortly after a holiday period generally isn’t advised!

Map Your New and Old URLS Beforehand

Have a clear and concise outline of all of your old pages and new ones, including their respective URLs. In an ideal world, the relative URL structure between the two should be identical to make for a far easier redirection.

Don’t Forget Your PPC

If you are running any PPC campaigns, make sure you have updated the relevant links to save any loss of attribution during the redirect from the old site.

Check for 404 Errors

It is important that you give you site a full crawl (especially during the testing stage) to verify whether there are any 404 errors. It’s a good idea at this stage to make sure your internal links have also been changed; try to avoid linking to the old website, even if a 301 redirect is in place that sends the user to the new page. You can use a tool such as Screaming Frog to crawl the URLs on your old site and verify that they all redirect correctly.

4 Reasons Your Checkout Page Isn’t Converting…

4 Reasons Your Checkout Page Isn’t Converting…

When it comes to conversions, your checkout page is an extremely vital part of the process. This is the part where you ultimately close the sale after your visitor has been all the way through the “conversion funnel”, but even after that process a conversion or sale is not guaranteed even at that point. It’s a phrase that springs up time and time again when looking at conversion optimisation – abandoned carts. Your customers may get to the checkout stage or a few steps into the checkout process and still close the page without completing their purchase.

Research has shown that, on average, abandoned carts happen at a whopping 70%. This figure is largely made up of visitors who simply change their minds and this can be unavoidable. However, there is a considerable portion that are caused by certain things the online retailer has done and mistakes they’ve made in the checkout process that leads to lost customers and ultimately lost revenue.

Let’s look into some common mistakes that you could be making on your checkout pages and how to avoid them.

  1. Hiding Extra Costs Until Checkout

The number one reason, according to research, for people to abandon their carts is because of the extra costs that are added on at the checkout stage. In fact, 61% of people abandon their purchase because the extra costs are too high. These can include delivery charges, VAT or other fees not previously shown on product pages.

It’s important to be transparent in this case and make sure the customer is aware of any charges that may be added on way before they reach the checkout page. An option to get a delivery estimate at the product page stage is a good place to start, and showing your prices inclusive of VAT is handy too. This cuts down the chances of the customer changing their mind when they reach the checkout page.

  1. Making Visitors Register An Account

Making visitors create an account before they can complete their purchase is the second most common reason people abandon their online purchases. For some visitors, it may be an inconvenience for them to create an account, particularly if there is the added step of having to authenticate their email address before they can finish their purchase.

The best way to combat this, is to offer your visitors a choice. By all means, it’s important to have the facility for your customers to make an account, but giving them the option to check out as a guest if they want to covers both grounds. This means brand new customers can finish their purchase quickly and easily.

Another popular and effective route is to let your customers sign in / create their account using social media. This way, they can sign up with a click of a button… assuming they use social media that is!

  1. No Trust Factor

When it comes to online purchases, ensuring your customers can trust you is vital. People simply won’t buy from websites that they don’t trust, and can you blame them?

An SSL certificate is a must, but sometimes that just isn’t enough either. By adding trust symbols, secure payment processing logos etc, you can assure your customers that their personal information is going to be safe. Even if the customer doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of how these security systems work, you will be surprised just how more comfortable they will feel in the checkout process. In fact, adding trust seals and logos has resulted in a 14% increase in conversions in some cases. Can you really afford to miss out on that?

  1. Restricted Payment Methods

Providing your customers with multiple options for making payment is key here, particularly if you cater for a variety of different countries. There is an array of research and data out there that outlines the preferred methods of payment in each country – China for example much prefer eWallets and online bank transfers, whereas a vast portion of Germany chooses PayPal over other payment methods.

Some research even suggests that eWallets will overtake traditional credit card payments by 2019. Whilst many people still like to use traditional credit card payments, you must ensure that you offer options so that you customer can pay in the way that they prefer.

Is Your Checkout Page Not Getting The Conversions it Should?

Conversion optimisation is a whole other kettle of fish when it comes to the general perception of SEO and online marketing as a whole. User experience plays a huge part here, and knowing the research, data, facts and figures behind e-commerce conversion in particular is crucial. If your e-commerce website is under-performing and you’re out of ideas of how to fix it, let our experts take a look and finally get your online shop making the sales it needs to.