Changes in SEO – is your business staying on top?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen SEO shift and change. It hasn’t decreased in importance – it’s still an essential component of digital marketing – but SEO in 2014 is certainly different from SEO in previous years.

Because SEO is always changing, there’s no one specific strategy that your business can cling to hoping for success in the search engine results pages. Google and other search engines are constantly investing in and changing their algorithms with the aim of improvement, personalisation and serving you up content that is specifically of interest to you.

There is only one constant in search marketing, and that is that your business should stay updated and informed. If you want a good page rank on Google, then you’re going to have to keep up-to-date with certain trends in SEO.

google_seo

Content is still King

One particularly influential trend in SEO today is the increasing importance of providing meaningful content on your site, that is, content that adds value for the user visiting the site. Google favours websites that feature meaningful and well regarded content, they do this by looking at factors such as social shares, how often the author writes well regarded content and how well received previous items of content written by the author, these are all easily accessible to Google using Google+ and sites that have implemented Rel=”author” tags onto the content.

A recent Forbes article reflects on the current search marketing industry and mentions a few important factors of SEO. The article asserts that search engines are now highlighting quality information and content:

Search engines want to provide the most relevant information. It used to be far easier to game the system with loads of links and specific anchor text. Times change. Now, the signals of relevancy revolve around a far more diverse set of information like social endorsement, repeat traffic, frequent mentions, and helpful content.

Search marketing today now requires businesses to connect with their audience in a way that has been traditionally overlooked. The more meaningful the content is and the more users will connect with the content and the site and share amongst their friends and networks the value of the site. On way your content will be judged is based on the number of views and mentions it receives online and through social media.

What does this all me for me?

So what exactly does this mean for businesses practicing search marketing? Well, the first thing businesses should do is review their strategy, and take a new look at how the different audience profiles of users interact with the site and create a structure that allows for ease of use, answering of questions before the users even have them and providing added value at all stages of the buying cycle.

There are an almost unlimited number of ways to add value for the visitor, it could be as simple as providing reviews or as in depth as sculpting and personalising the user journey. Every business is different, and tapping into the added value that you can provide the users is sure to result in more and repeat business, sharing across social networks and the holy grail of great rankings.

How we can help

Our web design process and SEO auditing takes all this into consideration and can assist in going that extra mile for the site user, which will of course result in more business for you.

For more information about search marketing, call us on 01227 490220 or email info@interactivered.com.

Don’t forget you can still claim your free website SEO analysis at interactivered.com/seo-offer/

Cloud Hosting: The time is now

What began as the solution to data storage is now only the beginning in a variety of services deliverable by way of cloud hosting. It all began as an offering that cut costs of storage and retrieval for business data without expansion of facilities. Companies would not need to invest in new hardware or software, either.

2014 should be the year for expanding the cloud

2014 should be the year for expanding the cloud

Growth of Cloud Hosting

Two types of hosting then became available: public and private. Public meant lower rental fees per month because that cloud had many renters. Private meant that the cloud was your very own and you willingly paid a higher price for your data storage.

Some companies with proprietary data, patents or trademarks found that they had better protection from mayhem or disaster when they paid for a private cloud. Just when everybody was on the same page, an offering came along bringing together the two types of clouds in a mix-and-match combination. It became the hybrid cloud.

Crystal Ball Innovators

Those three clouds are now independent and each offers its own “as-a-service” options. The “year of the cloud” was 2013 and the “year of the cloud growth” will be 2014. Business cloud hosting is the new normal that will experience powerful growth in applications, migrations and development.

In late 2013, the leading company in technology and consulting – Gartner, Inc – made ten predictions for 2014. The use of the cloud grew in 2013 because it was working. As each of Gartner’s predictions grow into a reality, workplace and business transactions will become more efficient.

Interaction is Key

Use of the cloud has made progress over the past few years when providers offering cloud hosting services work are willing to interact closely with their users. We work closely with each business planning expansion to the cloud and offer a range of solutions based on our own virtual cloud network within the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. Contact us for more information on providing resilient cloud hosting services appropriate for your business both now and into the future.

Yahoo attempting to dethrone Google as Apple’s default search engine?

For a long time now Google has been the market leader in internet search with the once favourite search engines such as Yahoo falling by the wayside.  But it could be that things are about to change and the world of search engine optimisation may be in for one heck of a ride.

Google: What if They Actually Had Real Competition?

 

In recent reports, Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer has made it clear she’s is aiming to dethrone Google as the default search engine for iOS devices in an attempt to bring once loyal Yahoo users back to the fold.

While the talks between Apple and Yahoo are still in their infancy, it appears that Yahoo is facing an uphill battle in their latest conquest – despite evidence that Apple wants to distance itself from Google as much as possible after the founders - Larry Page and Sergey Brin – forced the two companies to compete in the mobile market with the Google developed Android operating system.

The troubles for Yahoo are multidimensional and provide perhaps a few too many roadblocks for such a change to happen any time soon.  One of Apple’s primary concerns with using Yahoo over Google as their default search engine is an issue of design.  Unlike Google, which takes a minimalist approach to all aspects of their brand, Yahoo tends to head in the opposite route and places as much information as possible on search pages.  The appeal in the two is of course a matter of opinion, however, Apple’s has historically demonstrated a preference to minimalism and it could be that Google’s design is more in parallel with that of the one they want to have for their devices.

However unlikely the transition is to be, it does raise questions. With Yahoo being more of a player in the search engine game, what does that mean for search engine optimisation? People have enough trouble catering to Google’s requirements, would Yahoo use many of the same ones or would they introduce an entirely new algorithm that would only further complicate an already complicated process?

Fortunately we only have to speculate, but if that future does come certain peoples’ jobs just got that much more complicated, including mine!

If you would like to know more about search engine optimisation and how it can help your business, email seo@interactivered.com or call us on 01227 490220.

What is a Web Application?

Most people may not know it but a good number of some of the most popular websites on the internet could be more accurately called “web applications.” While the difference may seem like a simple matter of semantics – and it is for the most part – in the developer community, it means much more.

PHP is just as important as ever

PHP is an essential part of web applications

Evolution of the internet

It represents the evolution of the internet, from when websites were simple and basically online brochures, to the highly-interactive and user-centric data-driven ones they are today. That may sound rather abstract but perhaps the most interesting part about web applications is that virtually everyone uses them and most are actually quite familiar with them.

Developing a user experience

Developing websites these days involves much more than knowing how to cram some simple pieces of code together in Dreamweaver or your favourite text editor.  It involves having a thorough understanding of what each individual website is supposed to achieve and giving it the tools to do so.

However, if a website is to be the best it possibly can be at doing its job, it is going to need the newest and best technology to be built into its very foundation.

A wonderful example of a web application is Dropbox. For those unfamiliar with it, Dropbox is currently one of the leaders in the industry of cloud file storage. It provides for a very simple interface that allows users to drag and drop files onto the browser window, which then uploads them to their cloud storage accounts. Further, Dropbox has also provided for a very small download that allows the user to interact with the files in their Dropbox accounts, as if they were stored locally on the computer, taking things a step further.

Whilst Dropbox is a fully fledged and rather obvious web application, popular social media sites like Facebook are considered as web applications.  Allowing the user to create their own content is really the foundation of anything deemed a web application and Facebook does this on almost every level.

If you are serious about your business and are thinking about having a web application built and would like to know more about what your options are, please feel free to contact us and we would be more than happy to discuss them with you.

Mobile App Development: Engage Users Everywhere

Great web design is just the start.  These days internet content is viewed in many different formats.  We have come a long way since British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote the initial proposal for the World Wide Web in 1989.  Today the internet disseminates information through content management systems, social media, e-commerce, and various other web applications. And then there are mobile devices.

Mobile apps can be one of the best ways to engage your customers and accentuate your brand

Mobile apps are one of the best ways to engage your customers

 

Mobile applications, or “apps” for short, take internet computing a step further.  It is not enough to have just a simple web page when more and more users are experiencing the internet through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.  Mobile apps came on the scene in 2008, and they have since proliferated through various online application distribution platforms.  In fact, the research firm Gartner projected 102 billion app downloads for 2013.

Who needs a mobile app?

Mobile applications can be one of the best ways to engage your customers and accentuate your brand. Apps also valuable for general productivity and information retrieval.  They can be used for order management, ticket sales -even for medical purposes. People and companies use apps for blogs, online magazines, or to recommend products or services.

What value could you add to your business or project by the development and use of a customised mobile application?  Well, use your imagination.  As you look about you during the day, you see people staring at their mobile devices almost constantly.  How would you like to interact with these users?

Perhaps you’re not sure exactly how to take advantage of this fairly new technology.  We at Interactive Red can help.  Our expert team can answer your questions about mobile application development.  We have strong partnerships with well-respected brands, and this indicates a high level of trust that we share with a wide variety of distinguished clients. Would you like to partner with us as well? Contact us to find out more.

Responsive or Adaptive Design – Which should you choose?

The whirlwind of the ever-changing digital landscape has changed the way users browse the web. Only 10 years ago, the desktop computer and monitor were the main source of browsing online through web applications. As innovative technological advances were created, browsing the web expanded from desktops to laptops, tablets and Smartphones.

The Bombus website can be viewed on difference devices with ease

The Bombus website can be viewed on difference devices with ease

Screen Resolutions and Web Design

Not only did the way users browse the web change but the screen resolution for all the electronic devices changed, as well. When designing a website, developers must consider responsive design, making the site adaptable to the many screen resolutions on assorted electronic devices. The website must adjust to the resolution of a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.

A website implements responsive design when the mobile device adjusts its screen automatically in either portrait or landscape mode. When trying to view the same website without responsive design, the result will be an increased scrolling through a page, minimising and maximising the page to read the screen. Without proper mobile web application formatting, users lose patience and exit the website. This has a negative effect on the business and customer satisfaction.

The Most Responsive Mobile Web Application Design

Website developers usually implement either mobile adaptive design or responsive design. Both of these methods are effective but responsive design offers the most benefits. Adaptive design for mobile websites displays the page depending on the screen size of the device. It can load pages quickly and uses templates for mobile devices. The problem with adaptive design is that devices change so quickly that this design can become outdated.

On the other hand, responsive design automatically adapts to the different screen sizes of mobile devices. This automatic response allows users to view the website as it was meant to be seen. The technology used in responsive design eliminates the need for a separate web design for mobile devices and it is indexed by Google.

Contact us for information on creating a responsive web site for your business that is adaptable to all of today’s mobile devices.

Cloud Hosting: The Spirit of Change

Just as the internet grew and developed, cloud hosting is now flexing its muscles. It seems only a year ago that the concept of cloud hosting was emerging as an all-encompassing solution for storage and disaster recovery. Now, it has become an expanding elastic band infrastructure with bundling services and capacity for further growth.

2014 should be the year for expanding the cloud

2014 should be the year for expanding the cloud

Possible Expansive Innovation

It seems that 2014 should be the year for expanding, growing and developing the cloud. The capacity and tasks that it can provide will be better understood. New applications and devices are in motion ready to raise society to new heights.

When the world’s leading information technology research and consulting company, Gartner Inc, makes a prediction, the technological world listens. A few of their most recent insights for 2014 include:

  • Privacy-related surveillance and profiling creates risk of damage to a person’s reputation
  • Constructive disruptions and opportunities will affect emerging markets
  • Expect a slowdown in the shift toward buying cloud CRM software
  • Advanced education will make the difference between techs who prevail and those who fail – 2014 is the Year of Transformation for enterprise clouds
  • Data explosion causes corporate and consumer markets to experience levels of collision, convergence, dislocation and transformation
  • Procurement technology advances will save billions of dollars
  • 2014 will begin the era of the emerging smart machine
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will grow to accompany the needs of an expanding cloud presence
  • Digital economy will create licensing and/or compliance issues and those who ignore these issues risk higher costs and compromise the competitive advantage for their companies
  • Cloud computing will take center stage as an integral part of IT life and they will need to adapt their cloud strategy to the new realities

Ten Predictions Already in Motion

Ten predictions are only the start of changes on our horizon. Cloud computing was the game-changer for 2013 because it grew and worked. As these predictions become reality, the changes in the workplace and business transactions will enhance our way of working.

For more information about your current cloud hosting needs, contact us to help you. We not only care for current needs, but ensure that expansion of current needs will lead into futuristic experiences when they are ready.

Benefit from Google’s New Consumer Ratings

What your customers think of your business and your website will soon be affecting how your advertisements appear in search results and, depending on how you’ve been relying on web development techniques to craft your online image over the last two years, you may stand to benefit significantly from this latest shift by Google.

Google is surveying self-identified customers on a continual basis to determine your ratings

Google is surveying self-identified customers to determine your ratings

 

Building on information gathered through Google’s Consumer Surveys program, customer ratings of your company will now be added to your AdWords. The ratings will appear directly below the main text, in a single line of categories and numbers.  Additional ratings details about your firm will be available to those who click on the ratings themselves.

Ratings are being gathered on “industry specific” metrics which can cover hundreds of items. Some of these metrics include web site appearance, ease of website navigation, shopping cart functionality, and response to customer service issues using online tools.

Firms with good ratings to showcase could enjoy significant amounts of new traffic – beta testing indicates positive ratings can boost your CTRs by up to 10%. That’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly in highly competitive keyword environments.

How can you ensure that your firm has the good ratings to shine and grab traffic as this program is expanded across the U.S. and U.K. markets?

First, commit to taking action now. Google is surveying self-identified customers on a continual basis to determine your ratings. The sooner you improve your customer’s perceptions of your site, the sooner your AdWords buys will display your new ratings.

Get in touch with our search team here at Interactive and we’ll analyse your presence online and make sure you can enjoy all of the benefits from Google’s new Consumer Ratings system.

5 Things to Know About Photos and SEO

Photos matter for SEO. This is confusing to some, as it certainly seems unlikely that search engine crawlers could register the graphic elements of an image and factor them into its rankings. Of course search engines like Google can’t effectively do this (yet), but what they can do is take clues for the labeling, the context, and the descriptions of the photos. While images probably aren’t the main driver of search engine optimisation, they do in fact matter. Carefully optimsed photos will give you a boost in search rankings, and shoot your images all the way to the top of the Image tab of Google search. Here are 5 ways to optimise.

Carefully optimised photos will give you a boost in search rankings

Carefully optimised photos will give you a boost in search rankings


1) Rename before uploading

Search engines get a clue as to the content of the photo from the title. You’ll want your image title to be descriptive, and to also relate to a specific keyword or search term for which you’d like to be competitive. You probably aren’t interested a search term like “DSC987″, so you should never leave a default file name like this on a photo. Rename beforehand and then upload to your site.

2) Resize before uploading
Search engines reward sites that load quickly. They like to give their users the best experience possible, and that certainly doesn’t come from a hobbled, clunky website. Photos are one of the big things that can slow a website down, so make sure you’re resizing your images and shrinking them down before uploading them to your website. This will keep your website running smoothly, and keep you in the good graces of search engines.

3) Delete unused photos
Along the same lines as resizing images, it’s a good idea to delete all images and other files from your website that you are no longer using on the front end. Some digital marketers will let unused photos pile up on the back end, and their website will slow down as a result. Never store photos on the back end of your site, and do a regular checkup to make sure that you aren’t carrying around any extra weight.

4) Use Alt Text
Alternative text is another descriptor that let’s search engines know the content of your image. Writing a descriptive, key-word rich sentence of Alt text will allow Google to sort your image and properly register it for search engine optimisation. Alt text also appears when a photo cannot load, so make sure it is an accurate description of the image.

5) Put the file in context
Search engines are sophisticated enough to know when an image doesn’t belong on a particular page or website. They check to make sure that the file name, the alt text, and the description matches the web text that surrounds it, the website header or keywords, the page name, and even the URLs. If you can get all of these working in concert, you’ll be rewarded with a nice SEO bump.

For more information on improving SEO, and generating new leads online, contact us or sign up for our free SEO audit of your website.

How to Fine-Tune Your Google Ads (Four Steps)

Google Adwords have become a major part of many digital agency marketing strategies. Google has developed a sophisticated platform for reaching users and websites within their wide-casting net, and improved their product so that campaigns can hone in on targets with impressive precision. If you’re using Adwords for a search and display campaign and you’re experiencing a boost in visits to your website, but not a boost in conversions, try out these four tweaks that will fine-tune your campaign and help you get the most out of your advertising budget.

Google Adwords have become a major part of many digital agency marketing strategies

Google Adwords have become a major part of many digital agency marketing strategies

 

1. Sitelink Extensions
Have you ever searched for something and gotten an ad that took up more space than you’re used to seeing? Did the ad contain more than the customary 1 header link? These sort of ads take advantage of site links, which are free. To activate site links, go into the Ad Extensions tab of your campaign. Under the View window, select Sitelink Extensions. Create up to six new extension links that will direct users to specific pages within your website. This is a great way to show your depth, get people to the right page, and take up space that your competitors would otherwise occupy. Make sure to add in your phone number to this as well, and track which ads yield the most phone calls for more information!

2. Exclude Display Ad Sites
If you haven’t paid attention to excluding website categories from your display campaigns, your ads are probably showing up in places that won’t help (and might hurt) you. To exclude your ads from placement on questionable websites and inappropriate forums, click on the Display Network tab of your campaign, then click on placements, then scroll down to the bottom and edit your campaign placement exclusions. You’ll know pretty quickly which restrictions you’d like to implement.

3. Day of the Week Restrictions
It’s possible, and often recommended, to adjust your bid adjustments so that you spend more of your budget on days in which your target communities are searching for businesses like yours. To do this, go to your Ad Settings tab, scroll down and look at your scheduling under the Advanced Settings category. View your ad schedule and adjust it by 10% or so in favor of your busiest days. If you’re not sure of your busiest days, just check your Google Analytics or just think about when most of your revenue or inquiries come in. If it’s Monday, tweak your ads in favor on Sunday, etc.

4. Geographic Restrictions
Similar to the tweaks that will help you ads shine on your big days of the week, it’s important to tweak your ads for geographic relevance as well. Take a look at the Locations tab under the Settings tab of your Ad campaign. Figure out where you get the most impressions and adjust your bid by 10% or more so that you’re spending more money to reach your target cities and less on people in areas irrelevant to your business.

Contact us for more tips on optimising your advertising budget or to claim your free £50 Google Adwords voucher!

Articles and information from a leading digital agency in the South East of the UK