In a world where users’ search queries might result in over 9 million results, it’s important for your website to stand out from competitors on Google results pages. Rich snippets can help you with this – by displaying additional data in search results, encouraging users to click through.
What Are Rich Snippets?
A rich snippet (also called a Rich Result) refers to a result that Google shows to the user in the search results, that includes more information compared to normal results. It is called a rich snippet because it is ‘richer’ and offers the user more details.
For example, if you search for a recipe in Google, you will be met with normal snippets and rich snippets.
A normal snippet appears with the title in blue, URL in black, and a meta description beneath.
A rich result/rich snippet shows extra information between the URL and meta description. In this example, an image of the recipe, rating, and time taken.
There are various types of rich results, such as:
Recipes – Includes data such as time to prepare the dish, reviews and recipe images.
Product type – Includes information about a specific product (including price and product images).
Music – Gives Google info on music, like album release dates.
Reviews – Displays a star rating (out of 5).
Top stories – Allows a site to appear in the “Top Stories” box in the search results. Only applies to Google News approved websites.
FAQ – Presents questions and answers.
Events – Includes information on dates, times, location and more.
By adding schema markup (code) to your site, you can identify data on your website that is valuable to search engines, which ultimately helps you to get more attention and clicks, driving website traffic.
Why Are Rich Results Important & How Will Your Website Benefit From Adding Them?
Rich results stand out from other results on the search results – allowing users to instantly get more information. This is great visibility of your site and can help to increase click through rate. It makes your page more enticing in the search results which could mean more traffic from that search result. In the long run, rich snippets can affect how you rank – due to Google noticing people prefer your page to others – therefore ranking you higher. It also establishes trust as it displays prices and reviews.
How Do You Get Rich Snippets?
To enable rich snippets to appear for your website, you will need to add structured data. This is a piece of code on your website that communicates key information to search, that helps them to create rich results.
For example, instead of Google having to extract key information from this…
It will take 30 minutes to make the cake. This cake is great if you are on a diet, as they are around 100 calories per serving.
… they have it in a structured format that appears like this:
cooking time: 30 minutes
How to Implement Structured Data?
Firstly, you will need to create the markup of structured data. You can do this by adding code into the <head> section of your website, or use Google Tag Manager. Example code looks like this:
“name”: “Why is my website slow?”,
“text”: “This may be due to large files and slow servers.”
“name”: “How do I speed up my website?”,
“text”: “Remove large files or replace with smaller files, and ensure that your servers and hosting are fast.”
It’s important to note that there are guidelines that you must follow for your structured data to show in Google, you can find the guidelines here.
Once you have implemented the structured data code on your website, you will need to validate the markup. You can do this through Google’s Rich Results Testing Tools – telling you instantly if your page is eligible for rich results.
Once you have added the code to your website, Google will discover it next time it crawls your website. However, it may take some time for rich snippets to appear in the SERPs.
You will then need to monitor performance through Google Search Console, and check for any errors. All eligible makeup types will appear beneath ‘Mobile Usability’ in the left hand sidebar.
Overall, Rich Snippets are a great feature to have for your website. If you need help with SEO and getting your website seen by your target audience, contact our team now to see how we can help you.
As new algorithms, software, and AI continue to develop, web design and digital marketing will need to adjust to these changes.
20% of searches through mobile devices are done through voice search¹, with this thought to rapidly increase over the next few years. This trend is revolutionising people’s search patterns, so businesses need to keep up with this and think about how they fit in with UX and SEO.
What is Voice Search?
Voice recognition is getting more and more accurate, meaning people are turning to voice search for things in surprisingly large numbers.
Voice search allows users to use their voice to command a device to search the internet – instead of manually typing in a query, users state them to a voice-activated device, allowing for greater accessibility.
Since voice search was introduced by Google in 2011, it has grown immensely. There are also voice specific devices – such as Amazon Alexa – which can be awoken by using trigger words, such as Hey Alexa’. The device will then be fully reactive and listen to what you’re asking for. However, almost 60% of voice searches are still performed on a mobile device. This is helped by the fact that personal assistants, such as Siri, are now included in all smartphones as default.
The Rise of Voice Search
When voice search is involved, people subconsciously change their behaviour and give more information or words, being more specific to help them find the best result. This is one of the main differences between voice search and traditional type search. For example, when you type you usually only input a few key search terms – but with voice you may add words to make a fully formed sentence, ‘can you tell me the..’.
Voice search is revolutionary as it helps to unveil the user’s intent upfront, compared to traditional search that sometimes struggles to understand the motive of the search. It is also a pioneering piece of digital development – as it allows people who are not capable of using a computer to communicate with others faster, and also helps us to communicate with others when there is a language barrier. Not only this, but it helps people to search, shop and buy quicker.
We as humans can also speak 150 words per minute, compared to a much smaller 40 words per minute typing. People are getting increasingly more lazy when it comes to typing searches – and voice search is a result of this. In fact, 32% of people use voice-activated search daily instead of typing.
Voice search presents a new and exciting opportunity to connect with your customers better – and also to rise above your competitors. To stay prominent in search engines for voice search, you need to adapt your website content accordingly.
Changing Your Website for Voice Search
It goes without saying that your website should already be mobile friendly, but especially so for voice search. Voice searches are more likely to be conducted on mobile devices than desktop and tablet devices.
Ensure Content is Crawlable & Up To Date
Voice Search & Local Queries
Research shows that voice search users are increasingly searching for local results, with 58% of consumers finding local businesses using voice search. An example of these searches are ‘What is the best web agency in Longbridge?’. Your website needs to focus on ranking high within your local area, to allow for a better digital experience.
Target Long-Tail Keywords
As we discussed earlier, voice searches often include longer search terms – in fact, half of all searches are now long-tail searches, meaning that your content should be optimised for this.
Using in-depth keyword research, you can determine the phrases that people are saying when searching for products or services that are related to your business. Keyword research should be conducted regularly to keep your content current and build competitiveness.
An increase in these keywords brings new opportunities to tailor your website content to phrases that you may find to be lower in competition, making it easier for you to rank for them.
Writing articles based on the questions that your potential customers are asking is a great way to increase your website traffic, helping to attract leads at an early stage in the marketing funnel. These keywords are also great for determining ideas for new content.
‘Position zero’ is the new ‘page one’ for voice search. Getting in this position can greatly improve your chances of being seen and users clicking through. What’s more, rich snippets can keep queries in a context that is better understood by search engines. To do this, follow a few simple steps:
Identify a common, relevant question that users are searching for
Match the question with a clear, marked up heading
Follow this with a direct, valuable and concise answer
This makes it easy for website visitors and Google to find the correct answers to their questions.
Remove Intrusive Interstitial Ads
Remove any ads or promotional messages that are intrusive for better user experience. Google recently warned that it was releasing an algorithm to crack down on interstitial ads on mobile pages – so any ads that go against this could harm your search engine ranking. It’s important to also think about the frequency and intent of any popup messages on your website – if they risk compromising usability then consider moving this pop-up content into the main site content instead.
Businesses need to take note and understand that it is important to get their results found on voice search engines.
What’s more, optimising your website for voice search also improves your overall SEO. This increases your ranking – which paired with higher exposure and increased traffic levels – allows you to also get higher conversions and revenue from your website.
If your website needs to be optimised for mobile and voice search – contact our team to see how we can help your business create a successful website with search and voice friendly content.
First things first, we hope you are managing to stay safe and healthy.
We want to let you know that Ballyhoo are still here to support you in your online journey. Fortunately, we are in a position that allows us to continue operating as normal (more or less), which means we are able to continue to deliver the high-level of service and support that you have come to expect from us.
We’ve all had to adapt to these new times, but many businesses have had to completely rethink their models in order to continue operating. At the very least, they’ve had to accelerate their online growth.
How can you ride this wave too?
Prepare for an increase in online transactions
Many of your websites perform critical business functions and, now more than ever, are likely to be your customers’ primary point of contact.
The ongoing pandemic has forced more and more people to turn to the Internet for services that they would normally do in person: shopping; online fitness classes; medical appointments; booking tables in restaurants (when they are allowed to open); ordering takeaways; and everything in between.
The world has been transitioning online at a steady pace over the last decade or so with more and more services becoming available online. However, the recent situation has rapidly accelerated the evolution of online services and many organisations are scrambling to adopt new practices.
Your competitors are marching forward, don’t get lost in their shadow.
We can’t see this changing any time soon. Even when things go back to normal (whatever that may be), we believe that many of the services that have moved online will stay there and become the new preferred method of interaction.
It’s important that businesses don’t just ride it out and wait for things to go back to normal. Now is the time to update your online practices and ensure that your website caters to your customers so that you can continue to thrive for years to come and tackle anything that is thrown at you head on.
We can help
This might sound daunting, but don’t worry, we are here to support you. If you have any issues at all, want to discuss bringing your website up to speed or just want some help to review your online practices, please send an email to email@example.com or complete the form below.
Send us a quick message and we’ll get right back to you.
It seems like there is a day for everything these days. Some promote awareness for some very serious and worthy causes, while some just provide an excuse to eat cake or drink beer. Either way, these observational dates provide marketers with the opportunity to support a deserving movement or get involved with some fun and frivolity.
But with the ever-growing list of observational days and events how can we keep track of what’s happening when? Well, from now on, the 1st of January every year will be known as “Ballyhoo’s List of Key Dates and Events for your Social Media and PR Calendars” day.
Here we will provide a growing list of observational dates and events to help you plan your content for the coming year. Although we like to think we are, we are not perfect, so if we’ve missed any important dates, or you think we have got something wrong, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. So, without further ado, here is Ballyhoo’s List of Key Dates and Events for your Social Media and PR Calendars…
Martin Luther King Jr Day (US) National Hugging Day
Same date next year?
Chinese New Year
World Cancer Day
National Pizza Day (US)
The Super Bowl
Singles Awareness Day
Random Acts of Kindness Day
Same date next year?
Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day
St David’s Day
World Hearing Day
World Book Day
First Thursday in March
International Women’s Day
National No Smoking Day
World Kidney Day
Young Carers Action Day
St Patrick’s Day
Global Recycling Day
Red Nose Day/Comic Relief
First Day of Spring/Spring Equinox
World Poetry Day
World Water Day
Purple Day (Epilepsy Awareness)
Mother’s Day (UK)
Clocks Go Forward
Same date next year?
April Fools Day
World Autism Awareness Day International Children’s Book Day
World Health Day
St George’s Day
World Intellectual Property Day
Same date next year?
Big Asthma Bake Sale Month
Star Wars Day
International Nurses’ Day
World Fair Trade Day
2nd Saturday in May
Children’s Day (UK)
International Day of Families FA Cup Final
Yes May or June
Cricket World Cup
Next in 2023
Same date next year?
International Children’s Day (observed by ~50 countries)
Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday
World Environment Day
Diabetes Awareness Week Begins (TBC)
National Beer Day
World Music Day Summer Solstice
Yes Between June 20-22
Take Your Dog to Work Day
Same date next year?
World Chocolate Day
British Open Begins
World Emoji Day
International Tiger Day
World Friendship Day
Same date next year?
Edinburgh International Festival Begins
International Cat Day
National Prosecco Day International Left-Handers Day
World Photo Day
Notting Hill Carnival Begins
August Bank Holiday
Same date next year?
International Bacon Day
1st Saturday in September
International Day of Charity
World Suicide Prevention Day
Roald Dahl Day
International Coding Week Begins
London Fashion Week begins
International Talk Like A Pirate Day
Great British Beach Clean Week begins
Recycle Week begins International Week of Happiness at Work begins
Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning
Same date next year?
World Vegetarian Day
usually held in April
World Teachers’ Day
World Dyslexia Day
World Post Day
World Mental Health Day
National Coming Out Day
National No Bra Day
Global Hand Washing Day
World Food Day
Conflict Resolution Day
Clocks go back
Same date next year?
World Vegan Day
National Stress Awareness Day
Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night
World Kindness Day
World Diabetes Day
World Children’s Day (observed by ~28 countries)
St Andrew’s Day
Same date next year?
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Christmas Jumper Day
New Years Eve
And that’s a wrap. Hopefully, Ballyhoo’s List of Key Dates and Events for your Social Media and PR Calendars 2022 will give you some good ideas for your social media channels and blogs. As I said, we are not perfect, so if we have missed any, or there are any that you think we should add, then please let us know in the comments below.
When we talk about trust in websites, we could be referring to any number of things. Typically, website users are taught to look for a number of tell-tale signs as to whether or not the website they are using is safe (or trustworthy).
Safe and Secure
At the top of the list is usually the “padlock”. Does the website show a padlock in the left hand corner of the address bar? If it doesn’t, it is likely that any data you provide is not encrypted and could be intercepted. Checking for a padlock is good advice, the padlock shows that the site you are using has a valid SSL certificate and that it is secure. In some cases Google is starting to exclude sites that do not have an SSL certificate from its search results and, in other cases, is warning searchers that the site it is sending them to might be insecure.
Word of Mouth
Another sign that promotes trust within a website is reviews. Reviews show visitors how other users have found the experience of working with this organisation. Reviews validate the business and can give people confidence that the product or service they are about to purchase or order will be as described, the quality will be as they expect it to be, it will actually be delivered and what the companies customer service department is like.
It’s All Well and Good Ticking the Boxes…
All the usual methods of earning trust from an online visitor are absolutely necessary. These are the things that people are taught to look out for and if you don’t have at least an SSL certificate, then you are likely losing out on valuable traffic and conversions. However, it’s all well and good taking these steps to gain the trust of your visitors, but if your website is poorly designed, hard to use, frustrating, or generally not very pretty to look at, your customers still won’t trust you.
A website, whether it sells a product, a service or is there to provide information, is just like a physical store, if its not appealing to your audience, then it will lose business.
Think of it this way; it’s Friday night, you’ve had a busy week and you want to treat the family to a take away. You check out Tripadvisor to see what’s good in the area and the local Chinese has great reviews. Everyone is raving about the food and how great the service is and you can see that they have a great food hygiene rating. So, you hop in the car and make your way over. When you get there, there are a couple of dodgy looking characters hanging around outside, it puts you off slightly, but you squeeze past and make your way inside. As you open the door, a rancid smell smacks you in the face. You proceed to the counter wading your way through, what looks like, rat droppings and when you get there the hygiene of the person impatiently waiting to take your order seems questionable. Are you still going to place your order? Or are you going to try the other place a few doors down, that looks a bit newer and seems much nicer?
If the answer is “I’m going to try the nicer looking place down the road”, then read on. If not, then take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and consider getting some help.
Decide for yourself…
Take a look at these two sites:
Exhibit A is the website of a company that provides holiday courses for children. Exhibit B provides… exactly the same thing, in exactly the same areas. Neither of the websites have official reviews, but Exhibit B does have some testimonials. They both have a valid SSL certificate and show the secure padlock (at least on the booking/payment page). Which one would you feel safer handing your details over to? The answer is Exhibit B, and if you disagree, then take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and consider getting some help.
You are in the market for some home-brewing equipment, these two websites sell exactly the same products, for roughly the same prices:
Which one do you buy from? Exhibit A, right? It’s much nicer, seems more trustworthy and is generally more pleasing on the eye. What if I told you that it isn’t secure and doesn’t have the padlock in the address bar? Did you even notice, or just make your decision on how the site looks? (It does, by the way, so don’t bother checking, I’m just trying to prove a point).
What is the Point I am Trying to Prove?
My point is, if your website is secure and has trusted reviews, but doesn’t look as good as your competitors, then you are going to lose business.
If your website looks great but isn’t secure, you will be losing out on business too and you should definitely consider upgrading your hosting, especially if you want to comply with (and you 100% should) the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into play on 25th May 2018.
If your website isn’t secure and looks terrible, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and consider getting some help!
With millions of account holders actively using Twitter each month, it is essential that you are aware of how you can use this platform to your advantage in order to achieve more recognition for your business. There are many different rules and practices you could use to do this, so we thought it’d be a good idea to show you some of our favourite, easy to implement techniques that can help you boost your Twitter following.
First Things First
First things first, you must create a plan and determine your goals. To do this, you should ask yourself (or your client); “what do I want to achieve from my twitter campaign?”. A clear objective must be determined before you can carry out your plan otherwise you will be working towards nothing. Do you want to improve interaction? Gain recognition for your brand? Generate sales? Or perhaps you just want to promote your service. Whatever it is, set your goals and daily or weekly objectives to ensure your engagement is consistent.
Twitter is the perfect place to get in touch with professionals, journalists and potential clients, as well as family and friends. Therefore, it is important that what you tweet is short and informative. Not only will this prompt users to click on your link or get in touch, they can comment or mention you on their own Twitter profiles, helping you gain recognition from their followers. So, always make sure you reply politely!
In terms of retweeting, it is important that you only retweet relevant, on-trend tweets from third party Twitter profiles. However, be careful with what you retweet; only retweet tweets that fit in with your strategy.
How to Use it for Business
Twitter is one of the best social media platforms all businesses should be regularly updating. If used correctly as a team, you will be able to:
Increase engagement with existing and potential clients along with peers and anyone who is interested in what you have to say.
Build a brand reputation.
Increase your brand authority and trust.
Using it as a Team
By involving everyone, you will be able to show that your team holds a wide range of expertise, interest and personalities. This will humanise your brand which will, in turn, make more people feel like they already know and trust you, meaning they will more likely want to work with you.
At the end of each tweet your company posts, each individual member should sign it off at the end with their name so people know who it’s from. Different searchers will relate to different members of your team, so it is important that everyone is involved to get that relationship started.
If you are concerned about all of your team members having access to one account, it is important that you research social platforms that allow you to see previous tweets and scheduled tweets or contact experienced marketers to do it for you. That way, you will be able to see if someone else has already posted during that particular day. If they have, you could perhaps schedule yours for the next (unless it is time sensitive, then we suggest you just go for it).
While hashtags may sound cliché, they can be used to promote your tweets and help people discover your content. If you include #webdesign, for example, anyone searching or subscribing to that term will see your post. Therefore, we suggest adding at least three hashtags, definitely no more than five, to each post to strengthen your chances.
Please also keep in mind that you cannot use spaces in your hashtags so don’t put too many words together otherwise people won’t be able to read it. Stick to about two or three.
Twitter has its own tracking software that allows users to monitor their data and see how many interactions, impressions, profile visits, tweets, mentions and followers they’ve gained or lost. This helps you identify whether your strategy is working or needs a rethink.
Monitoring your statistics is very important if you want to grow your brand and gain recognition through Twitter. We suggest that you look into this or contact us for advice on how to use this effectively, we’re more than happy to help and will create strategies that will enhance your performance.
Other Business Tips
Keep it professional.
Ensure every tweet is proofed – ask someone to check it over for you to highlight any typos or mistakes.
If you’re not sure what to post then search for current industry topics or contact trusty marketers like us!
How Can We Help?
We understand that you and your business are unique so we’ll tailor an online marketing package just for you based on a number of tried and tested methods. We take a flexible approach that allows us to explore which marketing activities work best to achieve our ultimate goal of increasing the number of visits to your website, raise your Twitter following and improve your bounce and conversion rates.
We will be more than happy to help you with social media and can offer services that will best suit your needs.
Link building is a very popular marketing strategy many sites use in order to boost their rankings in search engines. Link building is the process of gaining direct links from third party sites back to your landing pages, whether that’s from writing a guest post, producing infographics or high quality visuals that people want to share or gaining links to your resources or product pages.
How Does Link Building Work?
The link building process consists of four main steps:
Select your targeted keyword.
Find relevant link opportunities based around that keyword.
Offer other sites a service, for example, to write a guest post which then provides you with a link.
Move up in the search rankings.
Gaining Effective, Reliable Links
When trying to gain a link from other sites, it is essential that you do not target any and every website as this can be seen as spam, unnatural or unreliable and search engines will penalise you for it. Therefore, it is important to gain links from reliable and relevant resources in order for those links to be seen as valid and worth clicking on.
External links should, therefore, come from:
Popular, high quality websites
Industry resources and publications
Pages that rank for the same keyword you are trying to rank for
Relevant blog posts and news articles
Events and trade shows
Sites owned by unique entities
However, it is important to remember that the level of influence links have go down in search engines if they are out of date; resources are usually an exception as they can be useful at any future date.
Tracking Down Old Links
With this in mind, it is essential that you find any lost, old, spam or irrelevant links before implementing your link building strategy as those links will have a damaging effect on any new links you gain.
Google, for instance, may not trust you as much as sites filled with good, relevant, keyword rich links and will place those above yours in the rankings. Search engines even go as far as not showing your website or landing pages as a result of spam links.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Link Building
Before creating your link building plan, it is important you are aware of the main do’s and don’ts of link building. These change regularly so it is important to stay up-to-date and find the best strategy for you.
The three main do’s and don’ts we’d suggest are:
Focus on distribution: this will help bring the right people to your site if you target sites of a similar nature. Their users are more likely going to find your information valuable than those gathered from unrelated sites.
Excessive link exchange: spending loads of time asking every website to link back to you will negatively impact your performance as it will most likely be seen as spam.
Link Value: if your links are of high quality they will entice the relevant users and will strengthen your position in search engines.
Ask for anchor text: if you ask other sites to provide a specific anchor text, you may get carried away and cause it to lose value. Therefore, it is a good idea to let other sites post what they feel is relevant. This will also help you build a strong link profile.
Creating guest posts: writing posts for other sites is a great way to gain links back to your website. However, it is important to remember that content should contain keywords where natural and must be a useful source for users.
Use web directories: this will not provide any value to your users and can, therefore, damage your brand’s image and search engines may not show you in their rankings.
How Can We Help?
Ballyhoo offer a unique, catered link building strategy that will help your website fly to the top in search engines and generate more enquiries and sales. We track down any old, damaging links to your site and distribute outreach emails to websites we feel can effectively link back to yours.
SSL certificates are a key security measure in many websites as they show users your website is one to trust. This is done by encrypting users’ personal data so that it is unreadable by anyone besides the intended party.
Browsers have recently begun warning users that a website does not contain an SSL certificate, even on websites with a simple login form, in a bid to help prevent private details being stolen. Evidence that an SSL certificate is in place can be found in the browser address bar, typically displayed in the form of a padlock.
Why is SSL So Important?
Many website owners are unaware as to why an SSL certificate is so important and do not see the point in spending money on one. However, search engines such as Google have started penalising unsecure websites, whilst web browsers are also making it hard for users to gain access to them by producing warning signs stating that a website is untrustworthy.
This has without a doubt caused users to move to alternative websites that hold a certificate as they do not want to risk placing their personal information such as addresses and card details into a website that may be deemed as a risk.
Browsers have now created warning signs that tell users a website is untrustworthy.
The warning signs shown all vary in wording and functionality, although some are as basic as placing an open padlock with an red ‘x’ overlapping in the address bar. Others have a clear warning explaining why a website should not be trusted, whilst a handful do not give users the option to continue and, as an alternative, they have to go through advanced settings to finally get into the website.
This will only cause negative effects on your user experience as people will find it too much of a hassle having to complete steps in order to gain access and some may feel a sense of doubt if search engines are questioning if they should be using your website. Therefore, visits will start to deteriorate and income may be lost.
Search Engine Punishment
Search engines crawl websites multiple times a day to determine which are of highest quality out of the bunch. From this, they push those well structured, informative websites to the top of the rankings, meaning they can be easily found on Google, for example.
Search engines have recently emphasised their focus on SSL certificates, especially on websites that hold a login functionality for users to decide where they should position each website.
If your website does not hold an SSL certificate, search engines could potentially push secure websites above yours, meaning users have to scroll through multiple pages in order to finally find your website. No one is, therefore, seeing what you have to offer and will not land on your website or purchase any of your services or products.
What Can You Do to Avoid This?
In order to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, it is vital that you install an SSL certificate. Ballyhoo offer SSL certificate services to ensure your website has the highest level of security. To find out more, get in touch by calling 0121 295 5352, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact form on our contact page.
The latest in my series of blog posts inspired by the Greater Birmingham Digital Summit is mostly motivated by a fantastic session in the afternoon given by Jennifer D Begg, a social marketing trainer who managed to both educate and entertain her audience (it also helped that she’s a lovely Scottish lady like myself!).
I was so impressed with Jennifer that later on in the day I wanted to tell her personally that she inspired me, both in terms of content and as someone I could identify with. When doing so, she instantly commented on my accent and it turns out we grew up not too far away from each other in Aberdeenshire and even have a few mutual acquaintances in my home town! ‘Tis a small world indeed.
Anyway, on with the blog…
The internet is a truly barrierless platform. Regardless of location, age, gender, race or wealth nearly anyone can access the internet and encounter its many wonders. In fact, Google predict everyone, everywhere will be online by 2020.
The advent of the Internet, and in particular social media, means that customers now have a way of communicating with you 24/7. Whether it’s email or Twitter, people can simply type a few lines on their phone or computer and instantly fire off a message.
One way you can really get to know your customers is by engaging with them on social media. Here you can get instant feedback on you and your products and learn what makes people tick.
Why use Social Media?
Approximately 38 million people in the UK alone have active social media accounts (that’s about 59% of the entire population). Considering around the equivalent number of people are of working age (though not necessarily in work) that’s a huge number of people with spending power. So no wonder social media is now seen as a key advertising avenue for brands big and small.
Digital natives in particular (millennials who just call a digital camera a camera – I’m showing my age here) use social like it’s going out of fashion. But older generations, arguably the decision-makers, are incredibly active too and it’s said that 57% of sales decisions are made before contact and 75% of B2B purchasers are influenced by social media.
At the time of the Greater Birmingham Digital Summit the top 10 social media networks were presented as:
Facebook (>40% users)
Snapchat (<10% users)
Which Social Network is right for me?
You’ll no doubt already know much about the main players in the social network sphere and may even be active on them to some degree at the moment. However, it’s all very well having accounts with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram et al, but you need to be actively engaging with the right audience. So, if none of your customers are using Facebook then there’s really not much point in spending your precious time using this social medium.
In general terms, Facebook is more for friends and family and specific interests whereas something like Twitter is somewhat of a mixed bag where you can interact with nearly anyone across multiple interests. LinkedIn, for example, like to distance themselves from the competition by saying that, “You spend time on Facebook, you invest time on LinkedIn”.
There are so many social networks available now, some of them quite niche, that to get the best return on your investment you need to intelligently target those which will produce results. There are a number of ways to do this:
If your customer base is large enough some simple market research may yield results. Sending a 30-second, incentivised online survey asking your loyal customers which social media they use could give you the best starting point from which to base your research. Various online tools exist – Survey Monkey is a popular option and just this morning I completed a survey using GetFeedback which I found to be slick and easy-to-use. You’ll notice I have highlighted the word incentivised above: something as simple as offering a discount code for your products or entering each person who completes the survey into a prize draw to thank them for their time can dramatically increase participation.
Perhaps social networks are already playing a part in your sales and you don’t even know it. Check your analytics package (if you don’t know what this is, please get in touch!) to see if any referrals are coming from social media. If a buzz is naturally being created you may be able to capitalise on this and increase conversions.
Use the advertising tools provided by individual social networks to gauge how many people you can reach in your demographic. These tools allow you to use the social network in question’s own user data to set up targeted advertising and the best thing is you can often get the info you need before you even have to enter any payment details. You can drill down through many variables, such as age, gender, education level, income, location and more, to accurately see whether your target customer profile can be effectively reached.
Ensure that you do all of the above regularly – social is changing all the time and networks drop in and out of fashion.
Coming back to Facebook as an example, did you know that the average age of a Facebook user is now 42? In particular, this social network is seeing a shift towards older generations. This could be attributed to Facebook being the most commonly known network and therefore acting as somewhat of a “gateway drug” for the social side of the Internet, but it could also be down to parents and grandparents wanting a way to connect with younger generations and then discovering the ability to connect with old friends and acquaintances. Either way, if your target audience is teenagers then perhaps Facebook isn’t the way forward.
It’s very tempting to sign up to each and every social network you can lay your hands on but this “spray-and-pray” method really won’t work for you in the long-term if you don’t engage actively. In fact, spreading yourself too thinly could even have detrimental effect; it’s really quite off-putting to see a long-forgotten feed with the most recent post languishing somewhere in the middle of last year (the same applies to blogs – if you have one make sure you contribute to it regularly).
How to engage with your audience
Keep an ear to the ground by checking trending topics and following relevant feeds regularly. There are many feed aggregators available allowing you to monitor everything in one place and some can even save you time by emailing you daily digests. Opportunities may present themselves in unlikely ways and “piggy-backing” current trends could help you reach a wider audience.
Your tone is really important. Keep in mind that, even though you might be representing an entire organisation, companies don’t use social media, people do. So sound like a real person and use the first-person. A bit of personality can go a long way and humour always helps too.
React quickly to current events and post content that your followers will find value in. Quality content creation is key, whether you’re posting a link to an interesting blog, a product video or a photo.
There is such a thing as being too active though – don’t bombard your followers with content. The Internet is a fickle place and users can easily get sick of seeing you in their timeline, especially if you’re just posting for posting’s sake. Conversely, if you can’t think of anything relevant or unique to say then consider the “trusted resource” approach – by posting links or reposting interesting, quality content from third-parties you could become a valuable resource for your followers by bringing them content they may not otherwise have found. Anything you then say about your services or products may have more weight.
Closely monitor whether your content is performing for you. Google Analytics is obviously a valuable resource but individual networks often have integrated analytics data showing number of impressions and reach, with more stats often available if you sign up with a business account.
Respond quickly to anyone who reaches out to you over your chosen social networks and keep the conversation flowing. If someone goes out of their way to contact you directly (even to complain!) this is an opportunity not to be missed. You have an open channel of communication with a current or potential customer, use it wisely and glean as much as you can from the interaction.
Study up on social media etiquette and beware that anything you post is pretty much there forever – even if you later delete it. There are many horror stories to be read about companies reading situations wrong and making terrible faux pas that, in the worst cases, go viral. Ensure your staff are clued up in this area too as anything they publicly post on their personal accounts could come back around to you, particularly if it includes hateful language or sentiment.
With the vast majority of social accounts being free and the time needed being relatively small, the risk to your business in embracing social media is low.
Done right, social media can be a goldmine and raise your profile. It can be incredibly rewarding to interact with customers on a personal level, especially if you’re not in a customer-facing industry and spend most of your time squirrelled away in an office or factory. What’s more, you can learn about what makes you appeal to a certain audience directly from the horse’s mouth and discover new ways to create meaningful products and services that your customers will love.
Websites and social go hand in hand and it really can’t be one or the other so make sure you back up a great social media presence with an amazing website that performs for you. In most cases, the goal of your social media interactions will be to drive people to your website to make a purchase or trigger another conversion event. Even the most beautifully crafted Tweet can’t help you if your website is unattractive or difficult to use.
If you need any assistance in setting up social profiles, researching which may have the most value for your business or ensuring your website is prepared for all the extra traffic you hope to bring in then please feel free to contact Ballyhoo either by telephone on 0121 295 5352 email to email@example.com or by filling out the contact form on our contact page.
Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to keep up with what we have been up-to or signup to our newsletter for regular updates.
Recently Google announced that they will be “expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal”. The proposed change to the search algorithm will be rolled out on the 21st April 2015. It is predicted it will take around a week to complete and is expected to have a significant impact on search results, ultimately providing users with only relevant, high quality content that is optimised for the device they are using.
When an internet search is made, using any of the multiple search engines that are available, the searcher expects to be presented with a list of results that are best suited to their needs. This means that not only does the website they eventually arrive at need to contain relevant content, be easy to read and provide a well rounded user experience, it also needs to function and display correctly, regardless of the type of device they are using. Therefore the need to have a site that is fully optimised for mobile is very close to being a necessity.
Searches from mobile devices are increasing and are expected by many to exceed desktop searches during the coming year. It is for this reason that search engines are beginning to update their algorithms in order to target mobile-friendly websites and continue providing searchers with the best possible results.
What does this mean for the website owner?
Google’s announcement has generated a huge response among website owners, marketers, developers and designers, with reactions ranging from sheer panic to complete nonchalance. I have even read reports of people blocking their websites from Google until they have made it mobile-optimised in fear of receiving a penalty.
The good news is it is unlikely that any website will receive a penalty for their lack of mobile-friendliness, Google will be simply giving websites that are mobile-optimised more love. The bad news is that if your website is not mobile-friendly you are likely to lose ranking positions for mobile searches, resulting in fewer visits and ultimately fewer conversions.
There are a number of ways to approach this update in Google’s algorithm. You may decide that the majority of your visitors are using desktop devices and therefore you don’t need to be mobile-optimised or you may be of the mindset that you need mobile, and you need it now! Either way there are a few things to think about before you make any rash decisions.
More good news, this update is going to be what’s known as a live algorithm, which means that if your website is not currently mobile-friendly all is not lost. As soon as your website is mobile ready Google will notice and almost instantly reconsider your ranking positions in mobile search.
Something else to consider is that this will be a page by page update, meaning that if some of your site isn’t mobile-optimised then the whole site won’t suffer and only the pages that are not mobile-friendly will be affected.
How do I tell if my site is mobile-friendly?
First of all, if you are not sure if your site is considered mobile-friendly the quickest way to find out is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This test will analyse the URL of your website and report on whether or not you have a mobile-friendly design. Remember that this tool will only tell you if the specific page that you have entered is mobile-friendly, other pages of your site may not be so it is worth checking a few of your pages, including your homepage, just to make sure. If you’re still not sure then contact your developer or give us a shout and we’ll have a look for you.
What if it is?
If your site is already mobile-friendly then congratulations, you are one step ahead of the game and ready to take on the next phase of Google’s search algorithm. You can skip the rest of this article and celebrate with a cold beer.
What if it isn’t?
If your site isn’t mobile-optimised and you already receive good traffic from mobile search then this will change within a couple of weeks following 21st April. As I mentioned earlier, don’t panic, there is still time to organise a responsive design and develop your site to be mobile-friendly. The last thing you want to do is rush it and end up with poorly implemented designs that will need to be changed again before too long – remember, this is a live algorithm and Google will start to share the love as soon as you’re ready.
However, I would still highly recommend that you make your site mobile-friendly as soon as possible. Get in touch with your developer, or give us a call at Ballyhoo, to discuss what can be done to make your site responsive and ensure that you maintain your rankings in mobile search.
What if I don’t want my site to be mobile-friendly?
You may feel that you won’t be affected by this change, your traffic might be mainly from desktop devices, either directly or through referrals and you are of the opinion that mobile traffic isn’t important. If this is the case, and you can’t be convinced that making your site mobile-friendly is one of the most important things you could do for your business this year, then all is not lost.
As I mentioned earlier – this is a live algorithm, your website is not going to be condemned to the fiery depths of Google hell. When you start to notice a drop in traffic, decide to bring your site up to modern standards or realise that this update has also had an effect on your desktop searches (there are few theories rattling around about whether this will be the case but nothing solid as yet) then there will still be a chance to redevelop your site to be mobile-friendly and hopefully regain any lost ranking positions.
Something else to consider – someone finds your website, through search on their desktop machine and decides to share a link with their friends on social media, in an email or in a text message. What devices are the recipients of the shared link using to view your website?
Regardless of whether or not you think you will be affected by this change in Google’s search algorithm my advice would be to implement a fully responsive design as soon as possible. As I mentioned earlier mobile devices are becoming widely used as the main web browsing tool and mobile search will overtake desktop search in the not-so-distant future.
Google’s decision to consider mobile-friendliness in its search results was not made on a whim and it’s not likely to be just another update from Google that falls by the wayside.
Despite all this, the fact of the matter is people use their smartphones, tablets, iPods, iPads and iPhones to browse the Internet and fewer households own desktop computers. If you want your website to remain a valuable resource and/or make sales and conversions, then it needs to operate well, function well and look good regardless of the device that is being used to view it on!
My final piece of advice would be to take advantage of this update. If your competitors decide that they don’t need to be mobile-friendly then optimising your own website could make the difference in who pips it to the post on the first page of Google mobile search. This could be your opportunity to overtake them!
Take a look at some of Ballyhoo’s recent projects that we have built to be fully responsive and tested across a huge range of devices.
If you need any help in checking your website or would like to discuss how we can help you to make sure you are not affected by Google’s changes to mobile search then please feel free to contact Ballyhoo either by telephone on 021 288 1100 email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out the contact form on our contact page.
Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to keep up with what we have been up-to or signup to our newsletter for regular updates.