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Monday, 21 July 2014

6 steps to fit blogging into your busy schedule

Running a business takes a lot of time, for many businesses writing blog posts can come way down their list of priorities. Which is a shame because creating interesting content for your website is so important to its success in search engines – so how can you streamline your blog writing process so it fits into your busy schedule?

1. Decide how often


Consistency is key. Decide how often you want to schedule blog posts, which day of the weeks and what time you want your blog posts to go out. Hubspot research showed that you’re likely to get more views, links and comments if you publish in the morning.

Once you’ve decided on your schedule you need to stick to it! Block out time in your calendar and be consistent with it.

If you can have a couple of back up articles on the ready then you'll have something to fall back on if you miss the odd deadline.

2. Always be on the lookout for ideas


Have somewhere to store your ideas. It’s hard to think up ideas on the spot so collect and jot down ideas through the week when they come to you. These could be questions that customers are always calling to ask, inspired by an interesting article you’ve read or a different spin of on article that’s done well on a competitors blog.

The key to a successful blog post is to create value for the reader. Every single blog post you write should help your reader in some way. Every single one.  Use this rule to judge if your article idea is a good one… or not.

You’ll end up with a bank of ideas to choose from when you come to putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard. Spend just 5-10 minutes choosing one of your ideas.

We’ve also written a whole blog post on blog post ideas here.

3. Start with an outline


First decide on your title, keep it under 65characters and make sure it’s compelling. There are some more tips on blog headlines here.

Next write your introduction, conclusion and list the points to include in the body of the blog post.
Your introduction should be clear and engaging; it should tell your reader why they need to read the post and what it will teach them.

Conclusions should be a simple summary of the main points from your post and include a call to action. Calls to actions are really important, if the reader has enjoyed your post you want to keep them on your website moving along the journey to becoming a customer. The call to action could link to a related product, webpage, or another relevant blog post.

4. Write


Now it's all about adding meat to the structure you have and since you’ve already decided what your points are you’ve already done the hard bit.

When you’re writing be sure to keep things simple. That means no jargon! Jargon only alienates readers, you want to reach out to them.

Keep your writing to the point, if you can say it in half the words then why don’t you? Longer content is only a good thing if it tells the reader more.

Back up what you say with stats or links to studies. This both substantiates what you’re saying and it tells the reader that you are well read on the subject.

5. Get someone else to proof and schedule it


There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it’s really hard to spot your own typos because you know the article you’ve written too well. A fresh pair of eyes is needed.

Secondly, proofing, adding pictures and scheduling a blog post can take an extra 30 minutes – which is time you probably don’t have when you’re busy running a business. Getting a member of staff  to do this for you solves this problem.

6. Don’t forget to promote your content


If you’re a busy person, you want to see the largest return for every minute you spend on something.

Promoting your blog posts will not only get it in front of more people it will also make it more discoverable in search results. You can promote your blog posts by including a link from your newsletter, Tweeting it, putting it on Google+ and Facebook. Again, this is something you can delegate to one of your team. (We could actually write several articles on this... I'll add it to my list of blog post ideas!)

...

So that’s it; decide how often, get your creative juices running with ideas, outline, write, get help proofing and promote your articles.

Hope we’ve made blogging sound a little less scary and a lot more manageable! It really is something that can benefit your businesses’ online presence tremendously so if you can crack the art of producing great content efficiently, you’re on to a winner.

Monday, 30 June 2014

6 ways to improve your bounce rate to boost SEO results

Bounce rate, as explained by Google is “the percentage of visits in which users view only a single page of your site.”

If you have an e-commerce website, your aim is to get visitors to stick around, look at your products, read about your business, put items in their basket and make a purchase – then you need to get your bounce rate as low as possible as a high bounce rate means low conversion.

Bounce rate is also used by Google to measure how relevant a website is to the search terms or keywords used to find it. This means that if a website has a high bounce rate, not only will it convert fewer visitors, its Google rankings will be negatively affected. And on the flip slide, lowering your bounce rate shows Google that your website is relevant and useful, positively impacting your rankings.


How do you find out your bounce rate?


a) Firstly you’ll need to have Google Analytics set up.

b) If you’ve already done this, go to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages.

c) Select Comparison View from the icons at the top right of your data table.


d) Select Bounce Rate from the (compared to site average) drop down, and you should see a chart like this:

Now on to how to reduce your bounce rate.


1. Drive quality traffic


As mentioned above, bounce rate tells Google how relevant a website is to search terms used to find the website. Driving quality, relevant, hungry-to-buy traffic is more important than getting large volumes of less interested visitors as poor quality traffic will only result in a high bounce rate.

First concentrate on ranking in Google search results for keyword terms that correlate closely to what your website is about, rather than more vague and competitive keywords with a large number of monthly searches.

2. Focus on customer intent


One reason that visitors don’t stick around on a website is not being able to find what they’re looking for. You know the frustrated feeling; you instantly hit the back button and go to the next website in the list of search results.

Overcome this by thinking about what your customers are most likely to want, need, expect, be looking for on your website and then clearly provide a route to that information from your landing pages. (A landing page is any page that a visitor enters your website on.)

Use enquiry emails to provide you with insight into questions customer couldn't easily find the answers to on your website. You can use these questions to create an FAQ page, write blog articles on, add information to your landing pages, improve your product pages, and so on.

3. Get your website looking its best


With the online world becoming increasingly competitive, customers have higher expectations, they’re more impatient and less tolerant of poor design. Good design now signals legitimacy, trustworthiness and providing a quality product and service.

Google actually gives redesigning the landing pages of a website as the first piece of advice to websites with high bounce rates.

4. Improve usability


Usability is just as important as design. A website which looks amazing but offers a very tedious checkout process will lose customers to its competitors. How easy a website is to use is actually a reflection of the quality of customer service provided, it will not only build trust it will keep your visitors on your website, reducing your bounce rate. You can read more about how to improve your usability here.

5. Make your website mobile friendly


This is simply a website that will resize according to the screen it’s being viewed on. It’s a great way to optimise your website for those browsing on mobiles or tablets. Mobile traffic now accounts for one quarter of all web searches and 30% of shoppers say they will abandon a website if checkout is not optimised for mobile.

Additionally 57% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Clearly, making your website accessible to mobile users can have a massive effect on reducing your bounce rate.

6. Give visitors a clear reason to buy from you


We've already mentioned how competitive e-commerce can be; this final point is one we couldn't leave out. Is it obvious to visitors why you are different to competitors? If you provide the best value for money, best quality product or fastest delivery service is this clearly stated on your website?

This differentiation actually comes down to brand definition. Visitors need to be given a compelling reason to stick with you rather than going back to the previous, maybe slightly cheaper but not as great, product. Providing this will keep them glued to your website and to you as a customer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

New Phone Number

Hello there.

Please note that our NEW telephone number is now 0191 27 66 904 or 07960 117077.

Thank you.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Goodbye Thomas Zehetemair


Yesterday we witnessed the entire audience of Sage Gateshead Hall One standing to applaud Thomas Zehetemair farewell after twelve years of musical directorship of the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Twelve years that has seen the opening of Sage Gateshead and the Queen bestowing the title 'Royal' to the Sinfonia.

As he gave his goodbye speech there were more than a couple of us with teary eyes.

It's not the last we'll see of Thomas though, he'll be returning at Christmas as Conductor Laureate to conduct the Messiah.

It's quite fantastic really to have such acclaimed musicians and a world class music venue a stone's throw away from us.

And we're not just saying that to be nice because they're our client.

Sage Gateshead is really up there when it comes to acoustics - with special air-filled-concrete, funny shaped wooden walls and lots of curtains. It's acoustically perfect. Which is why it attracts talent like Thomas Zehetemair.

If you've not yet been... you should.

Monday, 9 June 2014

15 e-commerce best practices you CAN'T ignore

The purpose of this blog article is to showcase some best practices when it comes to e-commerce websites in terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), User Experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

So here are just a few examples of how to make your e-commerce website not only user friendly but Google friendly too.

1. Product reviews using rich snippets


Rich snippets are any additional pieces of information included in a search result. Here's an example of a product review rich snippets as displayed on a search engine results page.



2. Advertiser and business reviews using rich snippets


Here's how advertiser and store reviews using rich snippets are displayed on a search engine results page.



Other examples of how rich snippets can be used include:


  • Reviews
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Music

3. Display delivery information prominently


It’s important to clearly display delivery costs, free delivery and free delivery threshold options.







4. Homepage advertising / marketing


Give your visitors (and Google) something new to look at each time they visit your website. Keep it fresh. This can include displaying special offers, sale items, what’s new and more.





5. Star ratings


Displaying product star ratings in the category view of your website will help your visitors to decide which are the best products based on customer reviews.





6. Customer product reviews


Here's an example of the use of summary scores for different aspects of a product.



And here's an example of how customer reviews can be displayed a product page.



7. Reviews of your business


Prominent placing of reviews of your business from external review engines such as Trust Pilot can help your customers to trust you more.


8. Google+ reviews


Positive Google+ reviews reassure customers searching for your brand in Google of your quality. Google+ has so many other features to take advantage of too so it shouldn't be ignored.



9. Give your customers confidence


Tell them why they should buy from you.



10. Stand out from the crowd


Tell your visitors how and why you are different from your competitors. This should be displayed prominently on your website. (And it shouldn't be that you're simply cheaper than your competitors). Your brand agency can help you with this one.



11. Compare products


The functionality to have an easy to view product comparison table is advantageous in certain retail markets such as electronics, household appliances, automotives etc.



12. Tabbed product pages


Great to keep your product pages informative yet non-cluttered.



13. How secure is your website?


Let your customers know that it’s safe to buy from your website. This must be clearly displayed for any visitor (repeat customer or new prospect) to see.





14. Validation error


Don’t make your customers re-enter information twice if they make a mistake first time round filling in a form.



15. Thank you page optimisation


Here's an example of social sharing, related items / customers also bought etc. on a thank you page after checkout is complete.



These are just some examples of what you can be doing to help make your e-commerce website as usable as possible for your prospects / customers. There are so many other things to consider including customer retention and the optimisation of your checkout process but these are for another article.

Thank you for reading and if you'd like to chat to us at angelfysh about how we can help you get the best out of your e-commerce website then please get in touch.

Friday, 30 May 2014

18 stats to help you write the perfect blog post

... sounds like a big claim... but these 18 stats will shed light on how to get your blog posts more social shares and therefore back links (which are so important to help you rank well in Google). In this post we'll look at five easily measurable factors and show how they can be used to make your blogging a success.

Article length


These few stats will help you answer questions like: how long is the optimum length of a blog post? And does the length of your content matter?

1. Articles that are over 1,500 words long receive on average 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes... read more.

2. Longer content can convert up to 45% better... read more.

3. The average content length for a Google top ten ranking is 2,000 words or more... read more.

 
(With all of this said, we’re not giving you an excuse to ramble! If your post is naturally long then great but don't waffle just to make your content longer.)


Blog headlines


The headline is your mini sales pitch to get people to click through to your blog, it's your moment to shine. So what works best?

4. 77% of press releases indexed in Google news had headlines that were too long, and so appeared truncated... read more. So make sure when you're writing to keep your headlines under 65 characters long.

5. More than 1 in 4 of all headlines won’t fit into a tweet! ... read more. This is another reason to follow the 65 character golden rule.

6. The blog title length sweet spot is between 14 and 16 words long with up to 5 times more back links than a title with 24 words... read more.


Blog articles with lists


List blog posts are everywhere. Have they been overdone? Maybe… but the stats show that there are a few compelling reasons for their popularity:

7. A study by SEOMoz showed that blog articles using lists receive twice as many back links... read more.

8. 22 out of 25 of Econsultancy’s top 25 blog posts of 2013 were lists blog posts... read more.


Blog articles with images

 



The average number of  images per blog post is 3.2 per post but are there any benefits to be gained by adding images?

9. 40% of us are visual learners, we’ll respond better to visuals than plain text... read more.

10. Articles with images get 94% more views... read more.

11. Photos are linked to twice as much as text updates... read more.

12. Infographics can help businesses grow traffic by 12% more than those who don’t use them... read more.


Blog articles with videos


We would all (well most of us) probably guess that well produced videos would have a positive affect on our website... but producing video content does take a lot of effort, so is it worth it?

13. Pages with videos are 50 times more likely to appear in Google search results... read more.

14. Visitors spend twice as long on pages with video content... read more.

15. The percentage of people who will click on a video in Google search results is 41% higher than for normal search results... read more.

16. 700+ videos are shared on Twitter every minute... read more.

17. 76% of YouTube users tell someone about a video they have seen... read more.

18. 75% of executives says that they watch more than one work related video a week... read more.


To round things off, SEOMoz gave us this stat: blog posts with videos, images and lists attract up to 6 times more back links than a plain post. We're talking to ourselves just as much as anyone else with this post... we'll be adding more videos in future!


We hope this blog post has given you a few easily actionable tips to get your blog articles more visibility, more back links and more social shares.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Usability testing: 12 tools to measure how easy your website is to use

There are many different tools used in usability testing but what do they each measure, which should you use and how should you use them? Here’s our guide to 12 tools that will help you accurately measure how your website preforms against various usability criteria.
(By the way, none of these are paid reviews.)

1. Tools for task analysis (how easy it is to complete a task)



Intuition HQ is a task analysis tool which asks participants complete certain tasks on your website. Data on how long each process task takes, where participants click to complete the task as well as feedback are available to you.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Set up a test. Think about tasks that you want your visitors to complete and set these up in Intuition HQ.
Step 3: Go live with your test. Intuition HQ will provide you with a link to each test to share the link to get participants to take your test.
Step 4: The results. At any point you can access a report detailing how long it took participants to complete a task, where they clicked and how many times.

Pricing: The free account allows you to conduct 10 live tests, with an unlimited number of questions and 350 participants.


Loop11



Loop11 allows you to set up usability tests without an in depth knowledge of code. It provides you with figures showing how many visitors successfully complete, fail to complete or abandon a task.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Create tasks and ask visitors questions about those tasks.
Step 3: Customise the look of your test.
Step 4: Promote your test url to get participants to take part.

Visitors will see an introduction page, optional instructions, then the task is given in a task bar across the top of the website, with a complete or abandon button.

Pricing: This tool is a little more costly, you can pay monthly or $350 per project.


UserTesting



The difference between this tool and the two above tools is that UserTesting will recruit the participants for you. These testers are paid to review your website according to the tasks and questions you set. Another unique point is that the process is recorded and narrated by the testers - usually these videos are available within an hour or so of setting up the test! (You also receive a written summary.)

Step 1: Select your target audience.
Step 2: Add your URL and instructions on the 'mindset' that participants should have.
Step 3: Then add tasks and post-test questions for the participants.
Step 4: Review the test, sign up and pay.

Pricing: You pay $49 per participant and there is a first order $49 discount if your order is over $100.

Whatusersdo



This tool is similar to UserTesting in that the end result is a video of a tester completing and commenting on tasks that you have set. Whatusersdo is slightly cheaper than UserTesting but offers fewer options.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Select a template test and edit it to fit your website.
Step 3: Select the the age and gender of testers.
Step 4: Preview the test and pay.

Pricing: £30 per user test.


2. Tools to measure site navigation


Treejack


This tool is all about measuring and fine tuning your website's structure. It allows you to ask paticipants how they would go about finding something using your website structure.

Participants taking a test are presented with a welcome screen with your logo and colours, then with a page of instructions. Next, they’re given a task and a menu to choose from by clicking ‘I’d find it here’.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Input your website menu tree.
Step 3: Set tasks.
Step 4: Recruit participants. You can email a link, promote on social media or get help from TreeJack in finding participants.

Pricing: Flat rate of $109 per month.


3. Tools to test page load speed on mobile devices and desktop


PageSpeed Insights from Google


Page load speed is one of the most important factors when it comes to making your website accessible to mobile devices.

PageSpeed Insights analyses your page for both mobile and desktop load speed, giving it a score out of 100. Details of fixes needed to improve load speed are given and prioritised as ‘Should Fix’ or ‘Consider Fixing’.

Step 1: Enter the URL you would like to test.
Step 2: See the results.

Pricing: It’s completely free.

Other tools include: 
Pingdom Tools – Measures website response time and webpage size.


4. Tools to measure how learn-able your website is


FiveSecondTest



This tool ties down what participants can learn from your website in 5 seconds. People are busy. They decide in seconds whether or not they think your website can help them. So you only have a short window of opportunity to get your message across.

The Five Second Test starts with two lines of instructions for the user. A task or some context is given to the user then, when they’re ready; they’re shown an image for 5 seconds and quizzed on what they saw.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Upload print screens to test.
Step 3: Set questions that you would like users to answer.
Step 4: Invite people to take your test. Test responses will also come from UsabilityHub members.
Step 5: View your results.

Pricing: Prices range from $20 per month to $200 per month depending on the number of responses that you would like to collect. All plans work out at $0.20 per response.


5. Tools to measure user satisfaction


Usabilla 


Usabilla provides you with functionality allowing your visitors to leave feedback on your website from any device. Feedback forms can be fully customized and additional features are available, which include a slide out panel encouraging visitors to leave reviews, exit surveys, and slide out polls. You can choose when and how these are displayed.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Create a feedback button.
Step 3: Copy feedback button code into the HTML code of your website.
Step 4: Customise your feedback button.
Step 5: Set up other features such as a slide out panel personally asking visitors to leave reviews, exit surveys, and slide out polls.
Step 6: The results: a dashboard gives you live data.

Pricing: A free 14 day trial is available. After that pricing ranges from $49 per month (less than 100,000 page views per month) to $199 per month (up to 500,000 page views per month).

Feedback Army



This is probably the quickest and easiest of all these applications to set up but its scope is limited. If you are looking for a thorough analysis of your website, this is not what you need. However, if you're looking for yes / no answers to a couple of specific questions, Feedback Army will do the job on a budget.

Step 1: Choose 4 to 6 questions to ask reviewers
Step 2: Preview your test and complete the purchase.
Step 3: See your feedback.

Pricing: Starts at 10 responses for $40 and goes up to 50 responses for $150.

6. Tools for A/B Testing 


A/B testing is simply where variations of a webpage are alternated between visitors and data on the behaviour of these visitors is compared to ascertain which page converts at a higher rate.

Google Analytics Content Experiments

In Google Analytics Content Experiments you can set up experiments comparing up to 5 different variations of a page to see which preforms better against criteria you set up.

Step 1: Go to the experiments section of your Google Analytics account. Reporting > Content > Experiments > Start Experimenting.
Step 2: Choose your objectives.
Step 3: Identify your original and variation pages.
Step 4: Add the experiment code to your website and check it’s working.
Step 5: Review and start your experiment.
Step 6: Make any tweaks and changes.

Pricing: Free.

Convert


Convert has an easy to use visual tool which allows you to create variations of a webpage to test in A/B tests. It's actually an extension of Google Analytics Experiments and integrates the A/B test results into your account as custom variables.

Step 1: Enter your URL.
Step 2. Edit element of the page to make unique variations of the page.
Step 3. Place a Java code snippet into the HTML header of your webpage.
Step 4. Review the results in your Google Analytics account.

Pricing: Starts from $9 per month and ranges to $99 per month depending on your requirements, you can also trial the product for 15 days.

Optimizley



Similar to Convert, Optimizely helps you create multiple variations of a page, and track how these variations perform. You can easily reword copy and move, resize or change the formatting of elements. Then you can test the page variations against each other to see which converts better.

Step 1: Enter your URL.
Step 2. Edit elements of the page to make unique variations of the page.
Step 3. Create goals, e.g. how many people click the 'Add to Cart' button.
Step 4. Choose your audience, e.g. returning visitors.
Step 5. Place a Java code snippet into the HTML header of your webpage.
Step 6. Launch the A/B test and watch the results.

Pricing: Starts from £12 per month and ranges to £243 per month, but a free 30 day trial is available so you can try before you buy.

Crazy Egg


Crazy Egg is a heat map tool that allows you to see where visitors are clicking and how they scroll over certain page. This information shows you where users want your website to be clickable. You can also see who clicks what, as the data can be broken down showing where different referral visitors clicked. It's easy to compare two different page designs at a time to give you further insight into A/B testing.

Step 1: Sign up.
Step 2: Tell Crazy Egg which page you want to track.
Step 3: Start viewing the data.

Pricing: Starts a $9 per month and is billed annually.

We hope this article has been useful in helping you decide which usability tests you should use to measure and improve conversion on your website. If you've got any other usability test resources to recommend, please add them in a comment below.