Do You Need To Worry About AMP?

There’s been lots of talk of AMP in SEO circles lately, but what exactly is it and do you need to be worried about it?

The Mobile Revolution

Mobile has become more and more important in terms of SEO in the past year, with mobile searches finally overtaking desktop. It’s hardly any wonder when you think how much time we all spend with smart phones in hand…

It’s no surprise, then, that Google is working hard to provide a better experience for its mobile searchers. We first saw this with the ‘Mobilegeddon’ update back in April 2015. That was when Google categorically stated that if your site wasn’t mobile friendly then it wouldn’t rank for searches made on mobile devices. Ouch! Think about that for a second: if more than half of the searches are done on mobiles, if your website isn’t mobile friendly you could be losing more than half your potential visitors!

(If you want to check how mobile friendly your site is then visit their mobile friendly test: https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/)

But even mobile friendly pages can be a pain to load when you don’t have great signal.  Indeed even when you have 4G they can sometimes be sluggish because so many these days are full of ‘images and interactive elements.  Be honest, most of the time when you’re looking for something on your mobile you aren’t interested in pretty pictures and funny videos, you just want the information you’re looking for.  And usually you want it fast.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

This is the latest solution to that problem.  Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are pages with all the fancy stuff stripped away.  They’re ‘back to basics’, simply coded pages, which  are designed to load at lightening speed.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how this can benefit both users and businesses, and there will be a raft of marketing and tech companies falling over themselves to offer to implement the technology on your website.

But before you go full steam ahead and allocate a chunk of budget to doing this, just stop and think about who your potential visitors are.  Why are they searching for you?  Will it make a huge difference to them if your page loads in 4 seconds or 1?  If you’re an emergency locksmith and I’m stuck in a secluded carpark at midnight with my keys locked in my car then the answer is probably yes.   Or if I’m wandering around Tesco and need to know the ingredients for the casserole I’m making tonight, maybe yes too.

For the vast majority of business, however, there won’t be this urgency.  You don’t need to fall over yourself to get AMP implemented by next Tuesday.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the horizon – something you can plan into your next website overhaul or upgrade perhaps.

It might be that your target market simply don’t use mobile!  Do you even know how much of your website traffic comes from mobile?  Are you measuring what percentage of visitors who become customers are coming from mobile?  Does it make you think you should be measuring it at least?  I hope so….

Whatever happens, don’t be scared into thinking your world will end if you don’t have Accelerated Mobile Pages on your website.  There are plenty of people who will be only to happy to play Chicken Little and try and convince you the sky is falling…. and of course take your money to put it right.

If you’d like to read more about the AMP Project then visit their website at https://www.ampproject.org/

10 Surefire Ways To Get More AdWords Clicks

Would you like to get more clicks for your Google Ads? More clicks mean a higher Click Through Rate, which means a better quality score and in turn lower costs and higher ad rank. So yes, of course you do!

It sounds great but it’s not an easy task – you have to come up with a sales pitch that fits into 3 lines of text made up of only 95 characters in all! That’s a big ask for anyone, but here are some ways you can get an upper hand and outplay your competitors for those valuable clicks.

Of course you won’t be able to use all of these in the same ad so you’ll have to mix and match and test them out in different ads to find out what works best for you. Remember, you should constantly be split testing your ad text to find your best performing ads.

1 – Use Numbers

This is something that doesn’t just work with AdWords – it’s a proven strategy in sales copy writing in general. Put prices in your ad: ‘Shoes From Just £9.99’ or if you’re having a sale give a discount percentage ‘Save 20% During June’. You can even put ranges eg ‘Great Choice From £29-£99’

2 – Use Unusual Characters

AdWords allow you to include symbols in your ads such as #1, ® , % , $ & é – if these are appropriate to what you’re advertising then use them! Your ad will stand out from your competitors to attract that click.

3 – Add a Call-to-Action

This is another proven strategy – if you want someone to do something then just tell them! There’s a reason why the internet is full of ‘Buy Now’ buttons☺ Other examples would be ‘Call Us Today’ or ‘Subscribe Now’.

4 – Include A Feature And/Or Benefit

Features tell your customer the specifics of the product or service; the benefit tells them what they will gain by buying it.
Eg a laptop feature would be: ‘14 Hour Battery Life’ and the benefit would be ‘Get More Work Done On The Go’. Both can be used to great effect in your ad copy so test it out and see how well it works for you.

5 – Include a Phone Number and Address

If you’re a local business you can add location extensions to your ads so that customers can see exactly where you are and come in person. Call extensions show your phone number and as an added bonus if a user is on a mobile they can even ‘click to call’. ( Note: don’t forget to use a call tracking number – Google provides them for free)

6 – Remove The Risk

This is another mainstay of sales copywriting – use guarantees to remove the risk for the customer, or offer a free trial/sample of your product. If you have a no quibble returns policy tell them about it!

7 – Free Or Express Shipping

This doesn’t just work for AdWords, it’s a surprisingly powerful thing to offer, and you’d be amazed how often customers don’t see past the ‘free shipping’ to see whether they’re actually paying more overall.
Likewise if you offer an express delivery option that might just be what your customer needs so try putting it in your ad. It’s worth considering ad scheduling with this, though, so if someone has to order by noon for fast next day delivery they only see the ad between 9am and 12 noon.

8 – Ask a question

Do you need more clicks on your AdWords ads? Our top 10 tips will help you do just that! ☺
By choosing keywords that reflect the searcher’s question and using ad copy that reinforces it they are much more likely to click on your ad as they will see it as both relevant and the solution to the problem they came to Google to solve.

9 – Include Social Proof

If you’re lucky enough to have endorsements from major names then use this to your advantage. Or maybe you have 100% positive feedback on eBay, or 10,000 reviews on Google – it’s all proof that you are a reputable, trustworthy company and the searcher will feel much safer and be more likely to click on your ad.

10 – Scarcity or urgency

We’ve all seen the TV ads ‘hurry, sales ends soon’: adding a sense of urgency compels people to act more quickly in case they miss it. And example is ‘Save 30% Today Only!’. Bringing scarcity into the equation has a similar effect: ‘Only 20 Remaining’ for example.
So get logged into your AdWords account and start trying some new ads so you can measure them against your existing ones. Keep testing so you’ll always have the best performing ads possible, and more clicks for your AdWords account.

 

How To Start Selling Online

So you have a great product and you want to start selling online?  What are your options?

There are a few ways of doing it:

  • Build your own website using ecommerce software
  • Sell your products on a third party platform (like Amazon or Etsy)
  • Use a hosted ecommerce platform

Building Your Own Ecommerce Website

If you decide on this option you’ll need to set up a web hosting account and then install whichever eccommerce package you choose.  This is only going to be an option if you’re comfortable with setting up and managing a web hosting account and have the confidence to deal with problems if they occur.  It’s NOT an option for the novice as you are responsible for keeping the software up to date and ‘glitch’ free.

There are lots of open source shopping carts available – open source is free to use and is developed by the combined efforts of programmers and users that form a community around the project.   They also have active support forums where you can go for help and advice for installing, settin up and managing your online store.

A few of the most popular and robust are ZenCart, OpenCart, Prestashop and osCommerce.

Sell On A Third Party Platform

Thirdy party outlets are sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy. You generally pay a monthly fee to list items and then pay a comission when a product sells.

The advantage of selling on sites like these is that you have instant access to their huge customer base and many of them have a faithful following.  From a practical point of view there’s also the advantage that you don’t have to worry about things like payment processing and site security, which of course these days is of utmost importance.

The downside is that you are at the whim of such sites and it’s not unheard of for changes in their policies or site to affect your sales, making you rather vulnerable and lacking in control.  Most of them are also very customer centric which of course is not a bad thing in itself but many customers can use this as a form of bribery, knowing that threatening a seller with a negative review can sometimes mean they take advantage and make unreasonable demands!

You also have to pay commisions which can be as high as 20% of the selling price so you have to make sure you take this into account with your pricing.

Using A Hosted Ecommerce Platform

From the outside this looks just like the first option – you have your own website on your own web address but this is where the similarity ends.  You don’t have to set up the hosting or install the shopping cart, that’s all done by the shopping cart themselves.  All you have to do is create your account and you’re good to start setting up your shop.

There are plenty of shopping carts to choose from, each varying in functionality and price but my two favourites have to be Shopify and Bigcommerce.  They’re both very easy to set up and have lost of great functionality like being able to have product options (sell a shirt in different colours and/or sizes in one product).

Both have some good looking free templates so when you’re starting out you don’t need to pay a designer a fortune to get your shop looking decent.

Not sure which to choose?  Both offer a free trial so set one up and have a play!

Image: Pixabay

Unverified Google+ Local Pages Killed Off

Google have recently circulated an email in forums and online communities (an excerpt of which is below) stating that Google My Business pages that haven’t been verified will be unduly closed down on 28th July 2015.  Here’s what they said:

In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.

On July 28, Google will begin shutting down those GMB-associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after this removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.

For many small business owners the process of claiming and verifying their Google My Business or Google+ Local pages as they’re also called doesn’t always run smoothly.  First you have to have a Google user account, then claim your listing and wait for your postcard to arrive with the verification code to verify the listing.   Many people quite frankly don’t even know if their listing is verified, and many more end up with duplicate pages.

What IS a GMB page even??  If you’re a local business (eg a plumber or tree surgeon) your Google My Business page certainly has some SEO benefits.  When  you claim your page and your map listing you have the chance to rank locally in the map listing results on Google even if your website is nowhere to be found so that’s a definite advantage.  So if you haven’t already claimed your listing you should do so.

What if you’re page is one of those that’s been affected?  You can simply create a new Google+ page and follow their process to verify it fully to get you back in the game.  Even if you’re not a purely local business you should do this – a fully completed and SEO optimised Google+ Business Page can still help your website’s ranking as a link from here to your website still carries weight.

To get your business on to Google My Business visit this page.

How To Cope With Cold Calls From SEO Agencies

Have you had them?  You know, those phone calls from SEO agencies promising to get you to the top of Google for your search term because you’re not ranking as well as you should be?  Am I the only one that finds them a damn nuisance – I wish they’d leave me alone!  And of course the emails too…. “I came across your website and notice that…..”.

I brush them off as a bit of an annoyance and politely tell them where to get off, but judging by comments I’ve seen in various Facebook groups not everyone takes the same approach.  I think it’s fair to say that many small business owners actually get pretty stressed about them – after all they’re being told their website isn’t ranking and that someone has a magic pill to fix it.  It’s no wonder people sign up for some ‘too good to be true’ deal and end up living to regret it.

For some it’s a case of being baffled by science: not being knowledgeable about the subject of SEO means you’re not in a position to argue or query any of the claims that are being made.   For others maybe it’s pure battle weariness and they caught you on a bad day where you just didn’t have the will to say no!

But what if the person on the other end of the phone IS a good SEO guy. What if the agency really CAN do what they say they can?  How can you tell??   What should you do when you get one of these sales calls and what questions should you ask?

Do You Know What My Business Does?

May seem obvious, but not you’d be surprised at how many will say no!  Chances are you’re on a contact list of thousands and it’s a pure numbers game – call enough people and eventually someone will say ‘yes’.  If an agency can’t even take the time to look at your site and see what your business does before calling then how much care will they take with your SEO? Time to end the call.

If they say yes, then what next?

What Search Terms Will You Rank Me For?

If they have looked at your site then they should be able to answer this. If they do, check out the search terms they’re quoting you for.  Look at the search volumes in a tool like the AdWords Keyword Planner or at http://keywordtool.io/ and see if anyone is actually searching for this term.  The higher the volume the harder it’ll be to rank for that term – if they’re giving you search terms will very low or non existent search volumes then frankly it won’t matter if you’re number one because no-one is looking for it! Hang up.

Can You Guarantee To Get Me To Number One?

If they say yes hang up!!   NO-ONE can guarantee a first position ranking – here’s a quote from Google themselves regarding this:

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

Now What?

These three simple questions are likely to weed out 99% of the calls you get and ease your conscience along the way maybe. But what if you really want to find someone to help you, and they passed this first little test? Or what if you just need to find someone and don’t know where to start.

There are lots of reputable agencies who use cold calling as a sales technique so feel free to investigate them further and find out how they can help you. Request a written proposal and ask them exactly what they will look at before starting work: they should be looking at things like your site structure, load times, how well the site is set up to convert and whether it’s mobile friendly to name a few. It’s not just about backlinks and meta titles these days.

More Help

Google have written an excellent article about how to choose someone to do your SEO for you – you can read it here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en It goes into great detail on what you should look for and what to avoid so it’s well worth a read.

5 Things NOT To Do In AdWords

If you’re managing your own AdWords campaigns then hopefully you try and keep up with all the latest news and updates as well as looking for help with what to do to keep your account performing at its best.  You’ll find countless checklists, guides and posts telling you what you SHOULD do, but what about what you SHOULDN’T do!  Well here are the 5 most important things you should avoid when managing your AdWords account:

1.  Forget About Your Account

You’ve just set your brand new campaign running and you’ve got all the info on how to split test and optimise.  You diligently log in every week to check your account and make those all important tweaks to improve performance.  Then you miss a week…. and another….. and before you know it it’s been a month or more since you last checked on your campaigns.  This is probably the most common mistake people make once they get things going and start seeing results.  They think things are all tickety boo and just leave the account to get on with it.  The problem with AdWords is that unless you are constantly looking for ways to improve your performance the account can stagnate – there’s always something that can be improved upon, whether that’s getting a better click through rate with a new add, or identifying new keywords that could bring you more clicks and conversions.

Action Step:  Set a weekly alarm to remind you to log in and do your optimisation or if you don’t have time consider hiring a professional to manage the campaign for you.

2.  Don’t Add Negatives

Many businesses who manage their own accounts overlook the impact that adding negative keywords can have on an account.  It’s shocking sometimes to see how much money is being wasted when people click on your ad for some completely unrelated search term – a search term for which you shouldn’t even be showing up in the first place!  This is where negative keywords come in.  Imagine you are advertising for your Excel training course – someone does a search on Google for ‘puppy training’ and Google in its infinite wisdom matches this search to your keyword ‘training’ and shows your ad.  Clearly it’s not what they’re looking for – by adding the words ‘puppy’ and ‘dog’ as negative keywords you can stop your ads from showing for searches like this and can often save a fortune in wasted clicks.

Action Step:  Check your Search Query Report regularly to see which search terms are triggering your ads and add ones which aren’t a good fit as negatives.

3.  Ignore Ad Extensions

If you’re not using all the ad extensions that are available you’re missing a huge trick.  These can add extra lines to your ad giving you extra real estate in the search results FOR FREE.  At the very least you should be using Call Out Extensions and Site Link Extensions as illustrated below – callouts let you add promotional text to your ad and site links allow you to link to different pages in your site while also giving you the opportunity to say more about your company and encourage people to click on your ad.

Ad Extensions

To learn more about ad extensions see this article on Google’s help centre: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2375499?hl=en-GB

4.  Forget To Measure Conversions

This should probably be #1 because it is hugely important – if you don’t track conversions on your website then you have absolutely no idea if your advertising is actually working.  A conversion can be any action you want your visitors to take when they visit your website: fill out a form, call you, buy something or get a free download.  It’s vital for the success and ongoing optimisation of your campaigns that you set up conversion tracking in your account so you can see what actions people are taking and more importantly which keywords they used and ads they clicked on to get there.

Check out the AdWords help centre for help with Conversion Tracking: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1722054?hl=en-GB

5.  Not Having A Remarketing Campaign

Many times someone will click your ad and visit your site but not complete the desired action – maybe they got distracted or simply wanted more information before making the final decision.   With remarketing you can ‘follow’ people around to other websites and show them your ad again to encourage them to return.  OK, so if not done right it can be very creepy and make you feel a bit like you’re being followed around the internet by the sites you’ve visited, but when done properly it offers excellent conversion rates by keeping YOUR business top of mind with your visitors and reminding them about what you offer.    It’s very powerful and it’s certainly something you shouldn’t be avoiding!

We’re A Google Partner!

I’m very pleased to announce that One Eyed Cat is now an official Google Partner and we are now able to proudly display the Google Partner badge!

What does this mean for us?

It means we have met Google’s requirements and that we follow best practices when managing accounts and give the best possible service to our clients.

What does this mean for You?

It means you can rest assured your AdWords account is being managed by a qualified consultant who has passed Google’s exams to demonstrate their knowledge of AdWords.  Partner status is also dependent on continuing to provide the best possible service to clients by continually optimising and improving your advertising campaign.

Free Audit

If you’re already running your own AdWords campaigns why not book a free account audit to see how your account can be improved – chances are you could save money AND get better results.  There’s no commitment so you have nothing to loose – book your audit today by clicking here:  http://oneeyedcat.com/book-your-audit/

 

Why Your Website Needs To Be Mobile Friendly

Google recently started sending out alerts to website owners who have their site set up in Google Webmaster Tools. Of course this isn’t something new – you’ve always been able to set this up so you can be notified if anything is up with your site.

What these latest notifications relate to is your website’s mobile capabilities. With so many people now accessing the Internet via their smartphone it’s been pretty clear for quite some time that you should be making sure they have a great user experience whilst doing it.   That’s just common sense and good business sense too.

So what’s changed?

Google has now started telling site owners when they don’t consider their website to be mobile friendly. They will tell you how many of your site’s pages it considers need to be updated and typically this is the message you’ll see:

“Google systems have tested xx pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these xx pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”

If you haven’t received a notification it might be worth logging into Webmaster Tools to check just in case you turned off these notices. And if your site isn’t verified with Webmaster Tools you need to do it now!

When you log into WMT you can check on your website’s mobile usability by going to Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability. Here it will tell you of any errors in this respect.

What does this mean for you?

When Google tells you a page will be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users” they’re telling you in no uncertain terms it won’t rank! Think about that for a minute. How much of your traffic comes from people searching on mobile devices? Even if it’s only 10% can you afford to lose that 10%? Let’s be honest, it’s likely to be much higher than that.

Take a look at your competitors – are their sites optimized for mobile viewing? You might outrank them on desktop searches but hey presto they could start beating you on mobile if they’re ahead of the game… Your backlinks and social profile won’t mean a thing – if your site is not mobile friendly it WON’T RANK ON GOOGLE FOR SEARCHES ON MOBILE DEVIES. Period.

What Should You Do?

Without wanting to state the obvious update your site so that it’s mobile friendly. That may mean updating your theme to a responsive one if you’re using WordPress or you might have to speak to your web designer to discuss the options. If you’re just starting out and getting your website built make sure that mobile usability is at the top of your list of specifications and don’t accept any excuses for not getting it done.

The use of mobile phones for internet browsing and shopping is only going to increase – make sure your business isn’t left behind!

What Is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process by which we try to improve the position, or rank, of a website in the natural or ‘organic’ search engine results page (SERPs).

Why Do We Need To Do SEO?

If you want your website to be found you have a few choices:

  • You can use paid advertising like Google AdWords
  • You can promote via Social Media (you will need a formal strategy in place for this to be effective)
  • You can use SEO

If you plan your SEO and execute it effectively you can quickly see results which will bring more visitors to your website.

The Problems With SEO

If you’ve been reading or following anything about SEO over the past couple of months and years you’ll have heard about Google’s algorithm updates which are named after various animals.   The main aim of these updates is to improve the quality of the results Google gives to its searchers.

Very often unscrupulous SEOs would use underhand techniques to try and trick Google into thinking their website or page was relevant for certain terms but the quality of these pages was poor. Google is the number one search engine and it wants to stay that way, so providing useless or spammy results in searches is not what it wants.

The most well known of these algorithm updates are Panda and Penguin: Panda targeted websites with poor quality content while Penguin focused on websites with spammy and low quality backlinks pointing to them.

When these updates rolled out thousands of websites just dropped off the front page of Google. The unfortunate part is that many bone fide businesses were affected who had inadvertently fallen foul of these updates or had been using SEO agencies who had been using dangerous techniques to rank their site

So What’s Changed?

In 2015 the factors that affect ranking are no longer simply the number of backlinks and the number of times a keyword is put into the page. The focus is now on:

  • Creating your brand
  • Building quality websites
  • Writing quality content for your pages
  • Building natural, high quality links to this content

Google updates still keep coming while it continues in its quest to improve the results it delivers to its customers. The whole process of SEO can seem very complex and daunting but with a structured plan in place you can not only boost your website’s ranking but also keep it as safe as possible from future updates.