Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 3

Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 3

In the third and final part of our series on ways to optimise your websites’ conversion rates, we again investigate simple techniques to get the results that you are striving for.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLOURS TO INCREASE CONVERSION RATES

Colours have a close association with emotion and provoke reactions. The colours you choose to promote your brand is vitally important in conveying the message you want and can have a hugely persuasive effect on how people respond.

People generally make purchasing decisions based on emotion so this needs to be fully appreciated when you are looking to optimise your conversion rates. Apply colours that strike a chord with the audience and trigger an emotional response.

Perhaps most importantly, they should be carefully considered for your CTAs, which need should adopt contrasting colours that really stand out. Some colours are frequently used for particular states to trigger certain responses, for example, a the bold red for an error messages so be aware that you don’t use a colour that sparks a level of confusion.

WRITE CONTENT THAT CONVERTS

Of course, thoughtful layouts and bright colourful images make your website look fantastic. However, there is no substitute for copywriting so avoid becoming lazy. The way you say things and what you say plays a massive role on how your brand is perceived. Filling your otherwise-fantastic website up with bad or misleading text can destroy all your other good work.

First and foremost, you need to write content that your audience understands and can engage with by using language and tone. The content and words that are used for a bar or restaurant website will be vastly different from those used for an accountant or a lawyers site.

OPTIMISE YOUR HEADLINES

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

–David Ogilvy

It stands to reason that possibly your website’s one and only chance to communicate your message is through your website’s headlines. You need to immediately grab people’s attention and hold it! Great techniques include:

  • Let the reader know immediately what they will learn from your page – lead with the benefit
  • Being concise and to the point whilst also being provocative
  • Be clever, people like things that are amusing or use wordplay
  • Avoid clichés unless you use them in your wordplay. They are not appreciated and can have an immediate negative impact

Avoid following the crowd – if your competitors are using something or you think they might, don’t use it. Think outside the box and be a leader not a follower!

Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 2

Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 2

In the second part of our series on ways to optimise your websites’ conversion rates, we again investigate simple techniques to get the results that you are striving for.

USE RESPONSIVE DESIGN TO CONVERT PEOPLE ON EVERY DEVICE

Responsive design is essential for the vast array of mobile devices that are available. You will get greater conversion rates the more devices that your website works on. This is key to your conversion rate optimisation as sites that non-responsive on your phone are frustrating at best.

Google has reported that 90% of people own multiple types of device so being able to access your content on all devices makes sense, right? We often look for the same content on different devices at different times, referring back to it or looking to make a purchase.

Making sure that you can easily engage with the content across different platform is essential to maximising your conversion rates.

Handily, Webflow lets you customize every element of your responsive designs, so the right elements always display in the right place. And with flexbox, you can even reverse layouts on different devices with a click of a checkbox.

SLIDERS AND CAROUSELS CAN HURT CONVERSION RATES

Sliders or carousels are finished and play no useful role on any website anymore! They slow down your website, create distractions and prevent users reading the content that you want them to access. In some cases, they can be directly contributed to lower conversion rates.

Our brains and perhaps more importantly, our eyes are hardwired to respond to motion. This was helpful for protecting ourselves from predators back in caveman times but this instinctual response can cause people to pay more attention to the movement of sliders and carousels than the conversion points we want them focused on.

It is recommended that you now opt for single, static hero images with a forceful headline-subhead combination. This will say more about your brand than a carousel-full of scattered messages ever will.

Another issues that sliders can bring too many H1 tags to your site. This can have a negative impact on your page ranking. Once again, keeping it simple is the order of the day!

USE A CARD LAYOUT TO OPTIMISE FOR MOBILE NAVIGATION

The “card” layout design has evolved as a response to more people accessing sites from mobile devices. In this technique, discrete containers integrate text, video, and other types of content, not to jam-pack all you can into a limited area, but to efficiently communicate a specific message. These cards rely on visuals and sparse copy to highlight the most vital information, just like Google’s mobile search results.

They help to communicate a page’s greater message with each container representing a fraction of the overall page. This helps people to move from one idea next something that we highlighted in part 1. If done correctly, cards can create a logic and rhythm that improves the overall user experience (and conversion rates.)

Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 1

Ways to Optimise Your Website’s Conversion Rates – Part 1

Increasing the number of conversions for any website is surely the goal, right? Good design and effective copy combine to create a website that converts which seems so straightforward on paper but in reality is takes hard work. Finding the right approach to creating and combining these two elements can be tricky but this is what is required to achieve the optimal conversion rate.

In the first in a three part series, we look at a few techniques you can use to get people so excited about your website, they can’t help but convert.

INCREASE CONVERSION RATES BY KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Flat, minimalist design can help improve your conversion rates so try to keep things as simple as possible. Aim to keep the design and content down to only the most vital of elements. With dramatic drop shadows, gradients, and other “realistic” visual effects removed, a clean and simple two-dimensional design emerges.

Avoid embellishments and focus on the fundamentals and aim for a two-dimensional approach which helps in creating an orderly layout which, in turn, will lead to optimising conversion rates. This leaves space for ‘Call to Actions’ (CTAs) ensuring that they don’t become overcrowded and overlooked.

Don’t go so minimal you lose affordances.

Buttons are what people have become accustomed to and add depth and dimension. Through years of designer effort, these characteristics have become “affordances” — indicators of interactivity.

Flat buttons can easily be overlooked, choose a contrasting colour and a location that encourages interaction. Your goal is to lead your visitors’ attention to the CTA.

BUILD LOGICAL LAYOUTS TO MAXIMISE CONVERSIONS

It is important that your content has logical placement even with a minimal aesthetic. Moving from one idea or concept to the next should be straightforward. The rule here is to follow the F-pattern with layouts that adhere themselves to how humans read.

The blog VWO gives a great example of a redesign following the F-pattern that led to a 35.6% increase in sales.

Structure your website around the action that you want people to take and logically walk them towards to action with minimal resistance.

OPTIMISE BY ADDING CONTEXT TO CTAS

When we browse the web we are usually looking for something specific rather than just “general” reasons. We are aiming to solve a problem so recognising this is your design is just common sense.

Travel companies need to use pages for specific destinations with clear CTAs and not something that is too general. “Daily flights to Florida” paired with a button reading “Book a Flight” is too broad.

Adding a second CTA reading “Fly to Orlando for $58” grabs your attention far more and a company called Nature Air used a similar approach with a page for Tamarindo which resulted in a whopping 591% increase in conversions.

Go that extra mile to make a connection. Don’t ask people to make mental leaps for you — do it for them.

Farang Mart – Free Ads Classifieds & Business Directory Thailand

All businesses are looking to get ahead of the competition and seek new ways in which they can achieve this. Most people are willing to accept that traditional forms of media advertising, namely print advertising, are now out of date and have little impact, failing to reach out to the potential clients and customers who they are aiming for. A natural progression has been for companies to look towards online advertising and here at Proactive Marketing, we feel we have found a great new platform by which you can achieve this in Farang Mart.

What is Farang Mart?

To those of you who are unfamiliar with the directory, quite simply it is Thailand’s fastest growing website that receives hundreds of visitors each day making it the most effective classifieds site. Working in conjunction with one of the best media teams in Pattaya, Pattaya One, the site has gone from strength to strength and is now a firm favourite with many SEO companies just like ourselves.

The site offers both free classified ads along with premium adds which are superb for promoting items that are of a higher value such as cars, property or businesses. This makes it highly attractive to both buyers and sellers – the goal of any business directory. If you haven’t heard of it yet, we can guarantee that you will have in just a few months.

Why should I use it?

Farang Mart is a fantastic way to gain extra exposure for your business. As it is a directory that offers free classified ads along with premium ads so it ticks so many boxes for so many people. It is extremely user-friendly with the business categories clearly identifiable and on a national scale. This means that users don’t have to randomly browse through pages to find exactly what they are looking for. The fact that it is so user-friendly means that it is soon likely to become the directory of choice for many companies operating within Thailand – especially the ones owned and run by expats.

From an SEO point of view, Farang Mart is a great way of driving more traffic to your website. The free ads are a superb way to achieve this but we feel that the paid for banners are what will really set organisations apart from the competition. By using these banners it will be possible to target certain market segments such as real estate or cars along with being able to target by city or province, for example, Pattaya and Phuket, or Koh Samui. Using our complex analytics tools we can determine which categories achieve the most views and visitors therefore, enabling us to target your client base.

Conclusion

First and foremost, we believe that this is the ideal marketing tool for your business in Thailand. The more exposure that can be gained for any organisation regardless of size is the primary goal of 95% of companies. A directory that targets potential clients by not only sector but also by region is perfect and we firmly believe that Farang Mart achieves this and this is why we promote it to our clients.

Why SEO Is So Important For Real Estate Agents

The Pattaya real estate market is notoriously competitive and increasingly brokers are looking to the internet to reach out to a wider audience. The problem is that all Pattaya real estate agents are all chasing the same goal- to be top of the rankings and be the ones who are most visible to prospective clients. Having a conspicuous online presence is essential for anyone involved in Pattaya property because, without it, their enterprise is destined to fail.

Merely having a website that people can refer to is no longer enough so a greater number of real estate brokers are looking at their SEO and how it can help them to achieve their goals. SEO or search engine optimisation to give it its full name takes on various guises and is becoming something of an art in its own right.  This is perhaps the main reason why Pattaya real estate agents are looking to professionals to assist them with improving their presence on the web.

Choosing the correct keywords, for example, ‘Pattaya property for sale’ and building high quality, relevant links are key to your success. This will mean that you can reach out to a wider but still targeted audience. Here are the main reasons why we think SEO is important for real estate brokers.

Target your geographical audience

Without doubt, the main target audience for Pattaya property agents is those people who are already in the city or looking to come in the near future. Targeting this group means that you increase your chances of bringing buyers and sellers together. As your ranking improves, the chances of building a stable stream of traffic and therefore a pipeline increases. This effectively means that you can continually expand your business.

It gives an excellent ROI

It is widely accepted that traditional forms of advertising and media are longer as successful as they were in days gone by. SEO compared to any other type of paid advertising yields a far better return on your investment. You can easily gain new clients without the necessary expense related to print media for example. Once again, this means that you can consistently expand and grow your Pattaya real estate business.

It gives long-lasting, stable results

A reputable SEO company will help you to achieve long-lasting, stable results. Your goal is to get on to and remain on the first page of the rankings and once this is achieved you will find the whole process considerably easier. After, the initial expense of getting there, you will then find that the costs thereafter are much less. This is one very obvious reason why you choose a reputable SEO company from the outset.

It gives you greater credibility

Having a greater presence on the internet means that prospective clients can find you via the main search engines will naturally give your brand greater credibility. This greater credibility means that attracting new business become easier. Posting blogs and reviews on your website in another method that you can use to boost your credibility further. Higher net worth clients, the clients who you dream about, will always lean towards websites that are more credible.

Therefore it seems natural that Pattaya real estate agents should be looking to make the most of online digital marketing methods and the best way to start is with SEO. The results and the returns will be quicker than you imagine, thus meaning that you can grow your business in a relatively short time period. When you consider this along with all the other points outlined above, it seems very obvious that you need to start conducting SEO.

How to Write Page 1 Ranking Blogs

There is a reason why people want to rank top of Google’s search rankings, it is because the top ranking site receives 33% of all traffic – in fact 92% of all browser don’t search beyond the first page.

To achieve this organically, you need high-quality content that is well written and informative. However, just having this alone will not achieve the results that you are looking for. This is where having an SEO strategy comes in, the content needs to keyword-focused so that your website attracts traffic from people who are looking for your products and services. Attracting the right kind of traffic is far more important that just generating traffic to your site.

Blogs are a great way to achieve this but where do you start in creating this high-quality, relevant content?

Choose the right keywords

Globally, Google deals with tens of thousands of searches a second. This means that for your site to outrank your competitors it must contain the right keywords and phrases that your potential clients are browsing for. In other words, your content needs to contain those specific terms.

So, how do you find out what people are searching for? Social media is your best option, see what is trending for your target audience. This is where you need to be creative but you also need focus on exact phrases as these are used to monitor popularity.

Google Trends is another tool that is well worth considering as this again tells you keywords that trending. Equally useful is this fact that it tells you which searches are declining in popularity so always focus on ones that are popular at the time, or, and perhaps this is the key, ones that are increasing in popularity as this may give you the chance to get ahead of the game.

Knowing what your competitors are doing is always useful. SEMRush allows you to enter their domain name and tell you what keywords they are using. Not only that, you can also see where they are ranking for those keywords and the traffic that they receive – all very useful information.

It is advisable to steer clear of the most popular or generic keywords and use “long-tail” keywords instead. These make up around 70% of all search traffic and could be the key to your website’s success. Think of your location, something specific that you do or something else that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Once you have come up with a few ideas you can check them in a keyword search tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner. This will give you a great idea about how effective they are likely to be. It is important to remember that keywords evolve so you need to be aware of the changes in your market – remember Google Trends mentioned above!

The keywords must appear naturally

When you write a blog, it is best to focus on just one keyword for optimum results. Obviously, it is important to think of keywords from your customers’ perspective so try to build up a persona for them. Choose topics that will appeal to this persona, strike a chord and force them to continue reading.

You then need to include the keyword in your content but it must appear naturally and on the same note, you want to include variations that you can appear from time-to-time in the post. For maximum results your primary keyword, the one you are focusing on, should appear in the title, in sub-headings and throughout the content. If you can include it in the URL and meta description then that is even better.

However, don’t slip into the trap of writing to suit the search engines, your main audience is humans. Engaging with readers means creating content that is interesting and informative so keywords should appear naturally and not be forced.

Build links to key influencers

Linking to external bodies is always wise, so long as they are not your direct competitors. Go for relevant sites that are well-regarded. This creates a place that readers can go to in order to obtain more information. It also shows Google that you have researched the topic as offering supporting information and facts appeal to everyone.

Aim for longer posts

Although humans have notoriously short attention spans, 8 seconds according to some reports, search engines prefer long articles. 300 words should be the absolute minimum if you are looking to rank on page one but most successful articles are around 1,000 words. However, the articles should be easy to skim read. Bullet points are useful along with paragraph headings. Make the article as easy to read as possible and think about mobile devices.

Internal links

External links are great but you need to build links to your own site as well. You can link to other pages on your website or previous posts. This has a two-fold purpose, firstly it encourages readers to become more familiar with other content on your site and secondly, it also helps to create a sitemap.

Links, both internal and external, should appear naturally and avoid terms that could be viewed as being linked to spam such as “click here” or “top deals”. Try to be as descriptive as possible so that readers know exactly what to expect when they click on your link. The more they know about it, the greater the chance that they will click on it. Don’t overdo the number of links that you have in a blog as this can have a negative impact as well as they may appear forced.

Finally!

There is no getting away from it, the purpose of your blog is to appeal to YOUR audience. However, you must appeal to the search engines too if you wish to rank highly so you must optimise your blogs to appeal to both groups. Aim to become viewed as an expert if you want to realise your site’s potential and to achieve this, you must do your research.

Why having a blog is important for boosting your organic rankings

Blogging can be time-consuming and on other occasions it can be a significant financial investment but the rewards mean that it is certainly worthwhile as it will improve your search visibility.

Often, it is the case that a client wishes to rank higher for their keywords but doesn’t really know where to start or have the inclination. Budgets are invariably an issue and this can lead people to favour pay per click (PPC) campaigns for their perceived faster results – this is a short-term approach.

Earned rankings are a long-term investment so the earlier you start, the quicker you will start seeing the benefits. Posting blogs on your website is likely to reap dividends for years to come and not just at the time that they are posted.

Why do I need a blog?

Regardless of what industry you operate in, there will be a limited amount of appropriate keywords. This needs to be considered when you write your blog, it needs to be relevant to your industry, there is no point writing blog about the latest sports cars if you are in the plumbing industry – although there may be exceptions that we will consider later!

You should always aim for your website to be the ‘go to’ place when people are looking for information on a certain subject and being perceived as an expert will help you meet Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. However, with everyone striving to reach the same goal, you must start to use your imagination and think outside the box.

In Laymen’s terms, blogs give you the opportunity to gain more Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings as providing new, additional and relevant content means that you will be expanding your keywords. Using tools such as a keyword planner can help you to obtain the best ROI as you can devise a strategy to utilise all your keywords over the space of a few weeks.

So where does SEO fit in?

It seems common sense that the more often you rank in SERP, the higher your click-through rate will be. Equally, it is important to appreciate the role that this has on your SEO conversion funnel. The landing pages that your blogs direct browsers to should contain more general keywords as opposed to long-tail keywords. As a result, consumers are more likely to stay on your page and begin the buying process – perhaps without even realising it.

There are generally two types of browsers, those looking to compare prices and those looking to obtain information and perhaps solve a problem. Both groups are potential customers who will be looking to make a purchase – you just have to make them choose you. The impact of organic search campaigns will depend on how consumers interact with them and this is where SEO fits in as it will help these consumers locate the information and the products that they require.

Expanding your content

It is important to put yourself in the mind of consumers – what will they be asking prior to making a purchase? Returning to our plumber for one moment, a common question could be “What type of hot water heating system do I need?” As you can see, the browser is trying to obtain information and this may be down to sheer curiosity or they may be looking to make a purchase. Your role is to create a blog that provides them with useful information whilst also pushing yourself to the forefront of their mind when they wish to make a purchase.

In order to reach out to more potential clients you need to expand the depth and breadth of your content so consider semi-related topics as this will expand your keyword relevance. You could look at what your competitors are posting to obtain some ideas about topics you had previously not considered.

Although we mentioned earlier that there would be no point in posting about sports cars on a plumbers website there is perhaps some potential – if you can make it relevant. The key here is understanding what you potential customers deem to be “useful”. To do this you need to create a user persona that understands YOUR clients own lifestyle and behaviour.

For example, if you’re a plumber who installs top the range bathrooms your client based is likely to be more affluent. The chances are they are a family and they are looking to stay in the property for the foreseeable future. They are prepared to spend money on something that they view as an investment.

So, from these assumptions, perhaps posting about a sports car does match your potential clients’ aspirations. Your strategy therefore, is to get in front of these people as frequently as possible and this means appearing on more SERPs. The more frequently consumers see something the more likely they are to make a purchase. In 60% of consumers buy products from brands that they are consciously or unconsciously aware of. It therefore all about appearing on more SERPs.

Featured Snippets

Feature snippets are the larger boxes that people gain quick answers from – you don’t need to be ranked number one to get these either but you will rank at the top of the pile. Creating a blog on a specific subject increases your chances of doing this.

OK, snippets may be dependent on structured data markup but regardless, they are pulled from on-page, organic content. With this in mind, you should be looking to write a blog that answers a specific query so have a look which site currently achieves this objective. You now need to write something that is better and more relevant.

Finally

There is no way to get around it, blogs are a fantastic way the expand your brand’s presence in SERPs. They also create new content and this appeals to Google when it crawls and indexes sites, which, in turn, will lead to higher page rankings. In addition, it creates a greater amount of content for your site which makes it more aesthetically pleasing to browsers.

We appreciate that it make be time-consuming and a big commitment but just posting a few blogs a month will have a significant impact. You will be creating backlinks that will improve your Domain Authority and increase your online exposure. All this is likely to encourage your clients to engage with you, your company and your brand.

Organic SEO vs Googles AdWords: Which is best for my business?

We should all know the differences by now of what appears naturally in our searches as opposed to the paid for ads (AdWords). The question often asked is which is best? The short answer is neither. It completely depends on your situation, aims and market that you are in. It really helps to know your prospective clients and how they use the web, then you can strategise accordingly. This is important as to how each of these two strategies will perform.

Most medium sized businesses and marketing companies would say that a mixture of both is the best solution, taking us back to our first point that neither is better. The reality is that for many small businesses that simply isn’t an option due to budget restrictions or the amount of business they can provide compared to the cost (ROI). For example if you are a local business like a dentist, you probably already have some clients with only a limited amount of new business or customers you can handle. So the cost and time factors are obviously important so it’s not an option to pursue both.

The general consensus for most SMB’s is that SEO will long term give a better a better ROI. When done well, a well implemented SEO campaign will deliver more because the amount of clicks are not being paid for, and it will also normally work on other platforms like Bing and Yahoo etc, whereas AdWords is for Google only.

Key factors involved with their success

Another key element to consider when broadly determining what is the best option between SEO and PPC (pay per click like AdWords) is what type of site and business you have. By this I mean that if you have an eCommerce site then AdWords can be fantastic as Google gives an option for “Product Listing Ads” which dramatically improve click through rate. AdWords for services like Plumbers, Dentists etc need to have dedicated landing pages to boost click through. The problem being that when you are buying a bottle of Chanel No 5 you know what it is. It will be the same from whoever provided it, the only difference will be the price, stock and delivery time. If you are a dentist then it comes down to skill, reputation, reviews, distance, facilities etc etc. There is a lot of suspicion with AdWords regarding this key difference between shopping cart sites and services. As anyone can pay to appear does that necessarily make them good? Of course not, hence the lower click through for these types of small business. Generally you should ask yourself this: Do I click on AdWords?

With regards to SEO a lot of SMB’s tend to struggle to get started or get good results due to not getting their strategy right at the start. A local businessman with little competition for a high value and high profit service will likely do well with SEO, but someone with many services and competitors who is aiming at too many misunderstood markets will likely get little or no return. This is where the skill of a good marketing company comes in, to get the basics right at the start. Sadly a lot of businessmen do not take good advice, or worse, actually take bad advice. Arguing that you know better with a professional marketing company seems pointless when you are paying them to do what you obviously can’t. In the SEO, PPC and Social Media world it’s easy to think you know what to do or be burnt by unscrupulous companies meaning that the correct choice of what is best for your business often passes you by or is deemed bad.

In short, SEO drives 75% of search engine traffic averagely takes 15% of a marketing budget, whereas PPC gets less than 25% of all search traffic but yet gets 80% of marketing budgets. This is illogical until you consider the attraction of instant results, but with a massive bounce rate you can see why so much budget is just wasted. Businesses are ignoring the long term benefits of SEO driven traffic in favour of a short term instant win. And all those expensive paid per click mistakes goes straight into Googles wallet with absolutely no long term benefit to you or your site.

Simple Pros and Cons of AdWords

  • Pros:
  • Instant page 1 results and traffic
  • Complete control over budget
  • Agility to quickly switch your campaign or target market
  • Remarketing to visitors who didn’t buy or connect
  • Measurability with instant stats on whats working and whats not
  • Cons:
  • Cost – AdWords are deemed expensive especially if bounce rate is high
  • Competitors can cost you by clicking on you from various devices
  • Very complicated to do yourself with any success
  • If your budget runs out you disappear completely
  • Success also requires building of decent landing pages
  • Limit on characters describing your products and services
  • Can be outbid by competitors for Ads

Simple Pros and Cons of Organic SEO

  • Pros:
  • Infinite traffic with no extra cost
  • Long lasting results even after stopping work
  • Also rank for many non targeted key phrases
  • Overall cost for an ROI is a lot lower
  • SEO costs are variable
  • You can help your own results
  • You build trust and credibility to you brand
  • You can capitalise on weak competition
  • Your site will gain domain authority
  • Your businesses worth will be increased
  • Cons:
  • Relies on a good strategy and advice
  • Takes time, normally 3 to 6 months minimum
  • There is no guarantee
  • Relies on content more than ever

There is no real answer to which is best as stated at the beginning, but hopefully it’s clear that knowing your market, and the type of site you have are key in deciding between the two strategies if like most businesses you are not in a position to do both. If one thing is an ever present it’s getting it right at the start. A flawed marketing strategy is doomed to fail from the start if the basic questions have been skipped, or a business owners own aims are overriding the advice of professionals. If you are armed with good information from the start, then you are likely to end up with a good strategy that will pay dividends, no matter whether it is SEO or AdWords.

Looking at the list though and the stats provided by Moz that the lure of instant results AdWords cripples the decision to aim for the long term benefits of natural organic SEO.

Different elements to Google’s algorithm and what they do

We all know that Googles algorithm (the code that dictates the way it works) is a closely guarded and complicated secret. Recently we also discovered that there were over 200 ranking factors contained within it and that some of these carry a lot more weight than others. Most of us will have also heard of animal names cropping up when talking about Google and SEO rankings and results, for instance Penguin and Panda and most SMB’s will probably think they have been adversely affected by one of these critters. There are actually quite a few of these animals and they all do different things and happened at different times as Google is a constantly evolving beast itself.

Imagine that Google is a car, then its algorithm would be its engine. The engine itself would have many different main elements that would need servicing (updating) and rebuilds (new elements) over time to keep it performing to its maximum (keeping its users happy).

So lets take a look at these different parts to Googles engine / algorithm to get a better understanding of what to work on that will help us gain better results and rankings which lead to more traffic which leads to more enquiries which leads to more business!

How many different parts to Googles algorithm are there?

In reality there have actually been very very many, but some of them are incredibly minor, don’t affect rankings or very niche, so we are going to look at the most important and recent ones that affect rankings for businesses chronologically. Let’s have a brief rundown first:

  • Panda, 2011
  • Penguin, 2012
  • Hummingbird, 2013
  • Pigeon, 2014
  • Mobile, 2015
  • Rank Brain, 2015
  • Possum, 2016
  • Fred, 2017

So as we can see, they are not all animals! Looking at the timeline you can also see how these major updates happen yearly and also each element given its own individual updates. Google is a very reactionary algorithm. A lot of what it does is forced by websites themselves, specifically spam, fraudulent, pornographic and illegal sites so Google is constantly combating that.

Some of what it does rewards sites and so tries to encourage good practices for business owners to rank. This is also reactionary. Google has no big agenda, it simply tries to constantly give it’s users relevant results, and the actual way those results are requested changes all the time. as does the internet itself and the people using it.

Technology has changed massively since Google was launched in 1997/1998 with computers speeds, internet speeds, mobile devices, social media, amount of websites and how they work let alone the way we behave as users all changing massively in that time so it’s understandable that all these updates happen.

Lets’s look at the main animals / elements of the above list and what they do and how that affects SEO rankings for business owners online.

Panda – Content

Specifically targeting thin, duplicate, low quality content and also key word stuffing. This is a major element we have discussed previously when discussing content, so the flip side to these bad practices being pushed down in the rankings is that high quality content is rewarded. Bear in mind that this also goes for content on where your links are coming from offsite, and most site owners won’t know this, so this is a major ranking factor as it all content everywhere. Content writing and structure is a skill and has been discussed previously, and the sites that have utilised this rank better. Having none, stealing it will only push you down so while you cannot control the content off site, you can certainly improve your own.

Penguin – Back Links

This is another major ranking factor as it specifically targets links, which we all know are important. Irrelevant, spammy and over optimised anchor text (exact key phrase matching) will all be punishable as having many of these is seen as trying to manipulate Google. Since late 2016 this algorithm runs live so whereby building a good link will bump you up in the rankings in a short time, building a bad link will do the same. Pre 2016 being punished only happened yearly so you could build bad backlinks all year and then gain the benefits, but not any more. Sudden changes (large amounts) will also get you punished as this does not seem natural either.

Pigeon – Location

This is closely linked to the main Google algorithm in that optimisation and content are important, but the context is the users search location. Now that the vast majority of searches are done on mobile and many of the searches for services are localised, Google now places more importance on how your site tells people where you are. For localised businesses like restaurants, garages, dentists etc etc, being in directories, having decent on page optimisation like relevant location based content and name,address and phone number (NAP) consistent across the web will be rewarded. Localised relevant links will instantly rank you higher too.

Possum – Local Search

Virtually the same as pigeon except that it’s even more localised. If that doesn’t make sense then it’s only really important if there is a lot of competition for the same phrase, for example “best restaurant in pattaya” will be even more focused on the users location if there are many sites that could rank for that term. If one of the sites was far from you but should rank higher, that restaurant is deemed less relevant to you by Google. So if there is a site that would rank lower for “best restaurant pattaya” but it is closer to you then that is far more likely to appear in the SERP. This is only relevant if there is a lot of competition but as a business owner you hopefully should be aware of this.

All in all it should be quite easy to pick out from this list exactly what you want to rank for and how to improve it. Get a decent marketing or SEO company that specialises in this to help and you will see the difference.

Googles “Mobile First Index” update and how this will affect SEO rankings

Google is perhaps rolling out the most important update for years with its very recently announced “Mobile First Index”. For a long time now Google has been encouraging web masters and site owners to make their sites responsive and mobile friendly. This is perhaps old news, but there were many changes and actions made by Google over the last few years that affected site owners financially due to lost traffic from not having a mobile friendly site and losing money from that sudden decrease in users.

The reason Google decided to make changes in this area is that search queries have been steadily increasing for mobile searches over desktop and in about 2015 they announced that 10 of the worlds leading countries had finally gone past 50%. So what is the new update about? Well the clue is in the name, for the first time Google will be generating its index (rankings) from the mobile version of your site first, rather than the traditional crawl of your desktop site. So what I hear some of you say? Well this could make a potentially big difference to rankings. It’s unlikely that this update will be a world wide instant roll out as it will cause too much fluctuation and user experience loss to its users so instead it will slowly be rolled out worldwide throughout 2018.

Google said:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”

What if you don’t have a mobile site? Well then Google will simply use your desktop version, but bear in mind Google gave warning in the SERP (search engine results page) in the past warning users that sites were not mobile friendly and so heavily influencing people to click on sites that were. There will soon not be any mobile mobile friendly adjustment, with all results coming from the mobile index meaning your desktop results will obviously be affected too as there will only be one unified index, with mobile being the basis due to it’s higher percentage of users. Google is simply following where users are heading by providing results based on their needs so it seems crazy not take notice of this as mobile searches will not go back down and suddenly be overtaken by desktop again.

How much will my Google rankings change with this Google update?

The main reason this should be a worry for a lot of business owners is that their mobile versions (whether a dedicated or responsive version) may have significantly large portions of its content hidden, blocked or pages removed completely. This has traditionally been done for a number of obvious reasons that affect the overall user experience including, page load times, large headers and banners just forcing more scrolling, images that affect screen space etc etc etc

Two Google representatives have stated that they only want minimal change based around this update, but this is not only vague but massively contradictory. If there was going to be little to no difference in the rankings and Google would simply use your desktop version to rank you, then why did they punish sites in the past and why bother with this update at all if it wont affect the SERP? It obviously really means that they don’t want there to be mass confusion and negative publicity from site owners who feel penalised so there will obviously be quite a lot of shifts in the rankings and the index, but Google will simply slowly roll the out gradually to minimise that backlash.

Will Mobile First Index actually benefit already mobile-friendly sites?

This is hard to say, but it seems that content that has already been made expandable (accordion boxes, hidden tabs and expandable tabs etc) could carry more weight on mobile as they are designed to enhance the mobile experience, whereas on the desktop version they don’t, so its entirely possible that sites already well designed an optimised for mobile could get a boost in the rankings. This will be further amplified by their competitors dropping down so you can easily see that this can make a big difference to your business.

How do you tell if Google is indexing your mobile pages? Well luckily Google has already provided web designers, SEO consultants and site owners the “Fetch and Render Tool” in their Search Console. This enables you to see a preview of what Google will see when viewing your site. If anything is missing it will give you a chance to rectify it. More importantly, if your site ranks well and gets the vast majority of its traffic from mobile devices, then it might be a good idea to make sue that the mobile version is optimised as good as it can be to be prepared for this latest change.