Tuesday 30 September 2014

Happy Birthday Google

Yesterday was Google's 16th birthday.

That means I've been been optimising websites & working in the online marketing industry since Google was a 1 year old.

Makes me feel old!

Monday 29 September 2014

Ranking factors: How does Google decide the order of its search results?

This is an easy question to ask - but a hard one to answer! It’s the £500 million question behind the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) industry.

Whilst the algorithm that Google uses is a closely guarded secret, we can go a long way to answering this question by studying search results in-depth. That’s exactly what searchmetrics have done.

They've recently released their annual ranking factors report comparing the top 30 results for the 10,000 most searched for terms on

In today’s blog post we’ll summarise the findings of their report including the factors which show the strongest correlation for search engine success. If you have a website for your own business, please read on as there’ll be some tips that you can implement to help your SEO.

First of all, what is a ranking factor? 

A ranking factor is an aspect of a website which affects where it will be positioned in search engine results. These factors are combined and weighted by Google’s very complex algorithm to determine the ranking of that website in its search results.  Some examples of ranking factors are: relevant keywords, back links, site load speed.

Types of ranking factors

In their report, searchmetrics divided the ranking factors into four groups:

Onpage technical: These factors describe the technical build of the website. For example how long the website takes to load or how the website is structured.

Onpage content: These factors look at the content of the website. For example word count, or the number of relevant keywords.

Back links: These factors measure different aspects of a websites back link profile, for example, the percentage of nofollow links and how well those websites giving a link back rank in Google.

Social: These factors measure how much the URL has been talked about on social media. For example how many times a website has been shared and liked on Facebook.

User signals: These are factors that describe the users behaviour, such as how many searchers click through to the website from the search results page or how long they spent on the website. These factors tell Google how useful or relevant users found a particular website for a particular keyword.

The results

Now on to the actual results from the study in chart form. How to read the chart:
  • The numbers next to the circle show the average value across the top 10 results for that ranking factor.
  • The longer the bar, the higher the correlation between the factor and a high Google ranking.
  • A negative bar is best interpreted by reversing the statement.

What we can learn from these results?

Onpage technical tips

  • Make sure your website loads quickly, average load time for a website on page 1 of Google was 0.99 seconds.
  • 98% of the URLs studied had a meta description. Make sure your website has expertly written meta descriptions and titles.
  • Internal linking structure is important, it should be easy to navigate.
  • Make sure you keep your website up to date.
  • These factors are a basic starting point if you want your website to be ranked high up on Google because if they are absent they will have a negative effect on your rankings.

Onpage content tips

  • Write your content for the user. All copy should be easy to understand and well written.
  • Top results had longer content, the average word count for a page 1 result was 975 words.
  • Images and video content are important whereas ads aren’t helpful.
  • Include a range of relevant related keyword terms in your copy instead of repeating an exact keyword.

Back link tips

  • Back links are still one of the most important ranking factors.
  • Quality is more important than quantity. Back links from websites that are themselves positioned well on Google are more valuable than those that aren't.
  • Anchor text, the clickable text of a link, should be brand or domain name based and not keyword based.
  • Build a balanced back link profile with some links pointing to the homepage but with a larger number pointing to specific pages within your website.

Social tips

  • Promote your content on social media. Social signals such as likes and shares tell Google that your website content is good. On average, a Google page 1 listed URL had 143 Google+ Plus ones, 1,690 Facebook signals, 162 Tweets, and 36 Pins. We've written a blog post especially on this topic.

User signal tips

  • Making your website engaging to keep users on your website for longer is also important. The average time spent on a Google page 1 URL was 101 seconds.
  • Encouage users to visit more than one page of your website. If a user only visits one page of your website this counts as a ‘bounce’. Websites with a lower bounce rate are on average ranked higher. The average bounce rate for a page 1 URL was 37% of users.

In summary, high quality content along with a balanced, quality back link profile are essential for websites wishing to be ranked prominently in Google. Technical factors such as page load speed are crucial but will not get your website positioned if you don’t have great content.

SEO takes time and consistent effort. So keep adding useful quality user focused content to your website whilst you apply these tips.

You can find the original report by searchmetrics here.

Monday 22 September 2014

Effective & brilliant homepage examples - Part 2

Today we’re following on from Effective & brilliant Homepage Examples - Part 1 blog post with 5 more examples of household brands with brilliant home pages.

Your homepage is the starting point for most of your customers. So what can we learn from these examples of great homepages that will get more of your customers from your homepage and on to their buying journey...

Example 1: mySupermarket

This website helps you find the best deals on your grocery shopping by comparing your basket across different stores.

What’s good about it?

1.This website clearly describes how it’s going to help you and why you should use it at the very top of the page. (And in fewer words than this bullet point!)

2.There is one stand out call to action - ‘Start shopping’- and it follows straight after the above reasons to use mySupermarket. It’s obvious where to click. This is so important because if a visitor doesn’t navigate to a second page on your website it will count as a ‘bounce’ and Google doesn’t like websites with high numbers of bounces.

3.The navigation menu is pictorial. Since 65% of people are visual learners, this makes site navigation instantly intuitive.

4.The search bar is prominently positioned. This is a must for ecommerce websites.

5.For mobile visitors there are links to download the app front and centre of the homepage. This shows that they’ve really put a lot of thought into caring for their mobile customers.

6.There is a ‘real’ up to date example of the kind of deals mySupermarket can offer. Today’s was kiwis, 50% off.

7.The stores that are compared to give you your bargain basket are displayed across the screen so that you can see exactly what your options are.

Example 2: Dyson

This household brand almost doesn’t need an introduction – Dyson make vacuums that don’t lose suction. And this is clearly conveyed by their homepage.

What’s good about it?

1. Front and centre there is a compelling reason to buy from and not a competitor – you save up to £110.

2. The imagery is truly stunning. It’s obvious straight away that the products are beautiful engineered and built.

3. We really like the help me choose button, it’s customer focused and helpful.

4. Navigation is clean and simple.

5. Social media icons are displayed at the top and in the footer.

Example 3: Thomas Cook

Package holidays, hotels and flights.

What’s good about it?

1. The search form on the homepage is clean and simple to use, and it auto fills the airport based on your location. It’s little details like this that make an online experience more enjoyable, which is very important when booking a holiday.

2. Above the fold, you’re shown beautiful sun soaked beaches. When you hover over these images you’re given more information about that particular deal. This is a nice feature for the user and it provides extra information to Google.

3. Below the fold you are given detailed information on why you should choose Thomas Cook as well as pros for a few example resorts. For example ‘family beach resorts’, ‘late breakfast’ and ‘free Wi-Fi’. Exactly the kind of information you need.

4. At the bottom of the page there is detailed information on the website’s security. This is well considered since customer peace of mind is so important when it comes to large purchases such as holidays. There’s also information on the payment options available.

5. There are links to 6 different language versions of the website.

Example 4: Barker & Stonehouse

The ecommerce website for the stylish, modern home furniture company Barker & Stonehouse.

What’s good about it?

1. The above the fold slider shows beautiful furniture in a home setting, and right below, the individual products are displayed. This makes it’s easy to see where to go next if you like what you see.

2. There’s a phone number to call right at the top in bold for those who want to place an order over the phone.

3. Order tracking options are also prominently positioned, right where you’d expect it to be.

4. Click & collect, stock check and finance options are clearly displayed and explained on the homepage. All of these make it easier for the customer to get their hands on the product faster.

5. There’s a link to their blog. And I want to click through to their blog because it tells me what to expect. Tips and inspiration.

Example 5: British Gas

Gas and electricity supplier.

What’s good about it?

1. The copy on this homepage is very customer focused. ‘How can we help you?’ … ‘services most suited to your needs’.

2. Actions are clearly laid out for the visitor to choose from according to what type of homeowner they are – making something which could be quite complicated, simple.

3. This website is responsive – it adapts to the size of your screen – so it is just as easy to navigate on a mobile device.

4. It’s also super easy to download the British Gas app for mobile visitors.

That's it's for now. Thank you for reading, hope you've come away with some useful ideas to improve your own homepage. 

If you've not read part 1, you can find it here.

Monday 15 September 2014

10 Tips on how to promote your blog posts after you hit publish (+ 6 links to another 159 tips!)

How to promote your blog content and news articles

Okay you've spent hours researching, crafting and polishing the perfect blog post and you've hit the publish button.

So now all you have to do is sit and wait for all the lovely traffic to pour in right?


Now you need to start actively promoting it and engage with new readers.

Here's 10 tips to help you promote your blog post

1. Make sure you choose a compelling title for your blog post. Something people will want to click on.

2. Promote via social networks. Tweet to Twitter. Post to Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Images and infographics to Instagram and Pinterest. Videos to YouTube etc.

3. Take your blog post, turn it into a pdf and upload to SlideShare and other document sharing websites. This works well for 'how-to', 'lists' and 'top 10' type blog posts.

4. Feature and link to influential websites, blogs and brands in your market from within your blog post. And let those people know on social media that you've featured them in your blog post. They'll most likely reward you by sharing and re-tweeting (IF your content is good enough though).

5. If your blog post contains statements, facts and figures, make sure you back them up with references and quotes from experts in this niche. Include a 'click to tweet' option for quotes. Then again let those people know via Twitter etc that you've featured them.

6. Get to know who the authorities in your market are. Network with them. Share their content. This again will get you noticed and could generate some 'shares' from them.

7. Make sure you encourage your readers to share your blog post. Place social share buttons at the bottom of your blog post (you could include share buttons at the top too). And ask people to share.

8. If you have a database of email subscribers make sure you do a mail shot each time you publish a new blog post.

9. Find forums in your niche and become part of the community. Join in with conversations, offer help and advice but don't over-promote your blog posts just yet. And take the time to read the forum rules first.

10. Make sure you re-share your blog post again across various social networks. Use the image below as a guide on how often to share across Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.

The original source of this image can be seen across at Search Engine Journal in this post Traffic generation for blogs on a budget

And the additional 159 tips I promised are...

31 ways to promote your blog courtesy of Stuart at NicheHacks (good stuff in here).

Rebekah Radice's post 25 Smart ways to promote your latest blog post will also give you some good ideas.

14 ways to promote your blog posts after you publish was written earlier this year by Jessie Joathome across at BlogHer and is worth reading.

Samuel Pustea wrote this useful article 50 ways to promote and market your blog post.

There's a nice infographic at Marketing Land showing 30 ways to promote your blog posts.

And another infographic entitled 9 powerful blog promotion tactics can be seen across at Social Marketing Writing.

Thank you for reading. If you've enjoyed this post please do share it.

Thursday 11 September 2014

Effective & brilliant homepage examples - Part 1

The homepage of a website is usually the very first page a visitor will see when they visit your website. It's effectively your shop entrance and visitors will judge it within seconds.

There's many things an effective homepage should do (as detailed here by Hubspot). But one of the main things it should to is encourage your visitors to move further into the funnel. So you need to tell them what you want them to do with clear call-to-actions (CTA's).

Here's some examples of websites (in different markets) that have great homepages.

Example 1:

UK company providing web services such as domain names, web hosting and email accounts.

Click the image above for a full page screenshot

What's good about it?

There are so many things we like about LCN's homepage. And we're not biased just because we're customers!

1 - At the top of the page above the fold (see screenshot above) there's a changeable 'banner' with one slide telling me what they can do for me; 'Everything you need to succeed online'. This message is for me and is something I can relate to.

2 - Further down the page I'm presented with a testimonial from Twitter (above) which tells me a) how good the support was and b) that that customer felt compelled and motivated to share their experience with others.

3 - If I scroll further down the page there's statistics to give me confidence that this company can easily host my website no problem (Gigabytes hosted this year - 6132.68).

4 - And the average support call wait time is less than a minute (which is important to me).

5 - Then there's another review along with a link to 216 other external reviews (which means these reviews can't be faked). Google will like this and it gives me even more confidence.

6 -  Finally 3 links to social networks and what each network will help me with.


Example 2: Monster Pet Supplies

Supplier of pet products (cats, dogs, horses, small pets, birds, reptiles).

What's good about it?

It's aesthetically pleasing to look at. Easy to navigate. And just a pleasant experience.

1 - The phone number is clearly displayed at the top of the page with the message 'Happy To Help'. The shopping basket is also very visible in the top right hand corner of the page.

2 -  There's a lovely clear search bar (essential for ecommerce websites) placed prominently at the top of the page.

3 - The 'Food Finder' navigation is a great idea. It's clear by this (and the left hand menu) that they sell mostly to dog and cat owners.

4 - I know right away that there's Free Delivery if I spend £29 or more.

5 - Just below the fold there's a row of 5 best sellers with the option to buy once or schedule every 1, 2 or 3 months. This is good for me as a customer and good for Monster Pet Supplies repeat orders. (The product pages have this same option).

6 - Towards the bottom of the page there's useful information for me about delivery costs, the 'Monster Promise', newsletter signup and incentivising me to tell a friend about Monster Pet Supplies.

7 - There's also links to recent blog stories and a banner asking whether my pet blog could make the top 100 pet blogs.

8 - Finally there's clear links to their social media channels.


Example 3: Thynk

UK based IT Training Company delivering world-class training.

What's good about it?

The Thynk website balances brand positioning and advertising perfectly. Thynk’s brand promise; their reason-for-being “de-cluttering the world’s best training” is communicated immediately and emotively.

Most businesses rattle on about what they do and I, the reader, have to work out what they actually do for me.

Not with Thynk IT training. As they say – “When all you get is all you need, what you learn today – you can use today”. So they’ve even de-cluttered their messaging. Perfect.


Example 4: Freshbooks

Online accounting, invoicing and billing software for small businesses.

What's good about it?

Very clear and concise. As with the example above, Freshbooks homepage tells me straight away whether this product is for me or not. And the clear green CTA (call-to-action) button tells me I can try before I buy..

If I scroll down the page the website give me a reason to stick around.

1 - Shows me how easy it is to send invoices. And there's that lovely clear CTA button again with the same message.

2 - A little further down there's 4 reasons why I should use Freshbooks and answers some questions I'd have. The user review gives me even more confidence in the product.

3 - After scrolling further through a serious of screens with lovely imagery and more features I get to the following which actually shows me the support team!

4 - Finally if I'm not already convinced I'm told which other products Freshbooks works with. Oh and there's that lovely call-to-action again.


Example 5: JUST EAT

Order takeaway food online from over 20,000 UK food delivery restaurants.

What's good about it?

Dead simple and easy to use. You land on the homepage and know instantly what to do. Nothing more to say other than I love this homepage.


Example 6: Mr & Mrs Smith

Online directory of hand picked luxury boutique hotels.

What's good about it?

For lovers of the finer things in life. This homepage tells me immediately whether I'm in the right place or not.

1 - Beautiful imagery and clear call-to-action (CTA) are the first things I see. I want to explore further.

2 - Regularly updated news on the homepage keeps not only me happy but Google too.

3 - Lovely web copy, well placed social media icons and the use of video gives me plenty to have a nosey at.

4 - Nice use of links in the footer take me directly to an area of the website that interests me.


Example 7: Grants Whisky

Scotland’s oldest family-run blended scotch whisky.

What's good about it?

As with all alcoholic drinks websites I visited the age verification is the first thing I see as the homepage. So this age verification screen needs to be brilliant if any website wants me to take the time to enter my date of birth. (I know it only takes a few seconds but people are impatient and if they don't like what they see they won't stick around).

Grant's Whisky have a beautiful age verification screen. Out of the 30 or so websites from the top 50 drinks brands I checked out it was the best.

1 - Visually it's classy with lovely imagery. The image of the 2 glasses filled with whiskey over ice feed my imagination. I could be anywhere drinking a Grant's and with anyone, this homepage doesn't dictate where I am. (Chivas have a pretty good homepage too).

2 - There's not much copy on the page so it really needs to be crafted... and Grant's page copy is spot on.

3 - The drop down functionality to enter my Country is good too. It lists the most popular countries first so I don't have to scroll all the way down to choose United Kingdom.

4 - And the 'remember me' check-box is pre-ticked which I like.

5 - Finally upon entering the 'real' homepage it doesn't disappoint. And it won't disappoint you either.


To be continued...

Next week we'll create part 2 with examples of brilliant homepages of household brands.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

47% revenue increase in 4 months

angelfysh has been working with Sage Gateshead now for 4 months on improving search engine visibility and helping the website to convert more visitors into ticket sales.

To say we're pleased with how things are going is an understatement.

During the months of May, June, July and August 2014 there's been an increase of 47% in revenue generated from ticket sales alone compared to the same period in 2013.

Of course we can't take all the credit as Sage Gateshead have their own strong marketing team and also work with Newcastle based Brand Consultants Violet Bick.

Thanks for reading.

Monday 1 September 2014

Business owner or marketing manager? 5 tips to save money when hiring an SEO agency

Hiring an experienced professional SEO agency will set you back thousands of pounds every single year. But it's a necessity if you a) have limited or no knowledge of search engine optimisation yourself and b) you want to rank highly in search engines like Google.

So what can you do to save money if you have a set online marketing budget and time on your hands?

We've listed 5 things that you can do yourself that will not only save you money but also support the work that a professional SEO agency will do for you.

1. Blog regularly

Creating regular (at least weekly) high quality blog or news content yourself (or within your organisation) is an absolute must. If you don't write your own content your SEO agency will do it for you (and charge you for it). Creating an 'editorial calendar' will help you to organise your time and identify any seasonal trends that you should be preparing for.

Earlier this year we advised a household brand name on how to encourage and empower their 3,000+ employee's to create content for the brand. You can do it too.

Here's 18 stats to help you write the perfect blog post but remember that a great blog/news article should sell without selling.

Coca-Cola are a great example of a brand that blogs well with a nice balance of different article types. Here's their blog. blog also do this well with a mixture of articles and infographics.

And the official Sharpie Markers blog is fun and innovative.

2. Automate your social network posting

Your social media platforms (Twitter, Google+, Facebook etc) should all be linked & setup from your blog to post automatically every-time a new blog article/news story is published. This will save you time manually publishing to each network.

3. Manage your own social media marketing

One of the factors Google looks for when determining how well a website should rank is 'social signals' (re-tweets, Facebook likes/shares, Google+'s etc). So make sure you provide your followers with information that adds value as this will encourage them to like and share your posts.

And remember to be well mannered... thank people who have interacted with you.

4. Encourage user reviews

Encourage your customers to leave a review of your company and/or products. You can encourage company reviews to be left on your Google+ page as well as on external websites such TrustPilot and TripAdvisor etc (depending on your market).

Product reviews should be encouraged within your e-commerce website as well as externally on websites such as reevoo and CNET. Use positive feedback as testimonials on your website homepage as this will help to lower the bounce rate (which is another thing Google looks at).

Here's a recent blog post we did on 11 ways to encourage customers to leave a review.

Amazon do a great job of this.

5. Write really good product descriptions

One of the most difficult things e-commerce website owners face is making sure that their product descriptions are well written, informative and unique. This is especially true if the very same product with the manufacturers description is being sold online elsewhere (DVD's for example). Google doesn't like duplicate content so take the time to make your product descriptions different. Encouraging user generated reviews of your products (as mentioned in point 4) can help with this.

Not sure what makes a good product page? Here's some great examples for you:

Naked Wines - Great way to display content saving space and the use of user generated content to make the page unique.

Firebox Chilli Chocolate - Quirky and well written content with a lovely tone.

Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels -  Very informative page with information about the hotel, facilities and the surroundings.

If you've enjoyed reading this post why not share it?