Archives for August 2013

5 Reasons Your Website Copy Needs Updating

How long is it since the text on your website was updated? Have you been meaning to rewrite it, but it keeps getting put to the bottom of the list as more urgent work presses on your time? Well don’t put it off any longer, you’ll regret it. Here’s why.

1. Search Engines Love Content

Google loves lots of recently updated content. Websites that regularly add new, unique content are seen by search engines as more important, and more relevant to web users. That means, if you keep your website up to date, you will naturally rank higher in the search engines than a site whose content remains the same, or hasn’t been updated recently.

It’s also worth checking that your website copy includes the words and phrases that you would like to be found online for. Search engine optimised copy means that your website will be more likely to be found by search engine users when they search for a product or service that you offer, meaning more visitors to your site.

copy-writing-for-web

2. You Don’t Have a News Page

Does your website have a news section? If so, when was it last updated? Adding and regularly updating a News page is a great way of keeping your website up to date with fresh content that search engines and potential customers will love.

There’s nothing worse than checking out a company’s news page only to find that it hasn’t been updated for 6 months. Are they not very busy? Have they gone out of business? You might not think that your company has anything to shout about, but there are lots of things you could write a short article on. For example, a new product, a new member of staff, a great testimonial, or even industry news.

3. To Keep Website Visitors Interested

Regular, loyal customers who see you as a reliable and trustworthy business may be fairly familiar with your site. Why not give them something new to read when they next visit? Adding fresh material to your site on a regular basis means they will keep coming back to see what’s new!

4. It’s Out of Date!

So your website copy has been the same since your site went live 3 years ago. If this rings true, you need to act, and fast. Businesses naturally progress and grow, and your website needs to reflect this. The chances are, you’ve developed your services, expanded your product range or gained the experience to specialise in a particular area. And it’s not just your business that may have developed, changes in your industry are inevitable, and keeping up to date with them is key to establishing trust between you and your customers.

5. It’s Boring

Even the most brilliant content can become stale over time. The attention of online readers is incredibly short, you literally have a few seconds to grab them and make them want to keep reading. Your website copy may describe exactly what you do accurately, but is it lively enough to capture the attention of a reader and to keep them there?

Content needs to be concise and captivating, getting to the point quickly, and providing the option for readers to find out more. Text should be in bite sized sections, making it easy to scan and process the information with little effort. Text heavy paragraphs that aren’t broken up by images or bullet points are a real put off too!

Refreshing your website copy may be more affordable than you think. Our Sheffield copywriters are very experienced in writing copy for websites, and specialise in SEO copywriting. If you’ve been meaning to update your website copy but never quite got round to it, we can help.

Contact Seven Creative on 0114 383 0711 or get in touch through our contact page today.

10 things your SEO company won’t tell you

Don't get ripped off by poor quality SEO

Don’t get ripped off by poor quality SEO

So, you’ve either paid for or are considering paying for search engine optimisation (SEO services) but you don’t know what to expect or how to measure the results. This article dispels a few myths, and talk about the pitfalls to watch out for to make sure you get excellent, tangible results and value for money.

Don’t get your website penalised by Google, don’t get ripped off and certainly don’t spend more than you need to.

1. There are keywords and there are keywords

It’s easy to get to page one of Google. Here is a quick example: if you do a search for ‘jfjfjf’, right there in in position one, page one of Google there’s a YouTube video uploaded by someone called ‘GRRRRRR145’. If you’d like me to get you to page one, position one for the keyword ‘jfjfjf’, no problem. Of course I can do it for you… but what is the point? Just as I wasn’t searching for a video of a girl talking after breathing in helium when I typed in that phrase, neither will your potential customers be using that phrase to find your products and services.

These poor quality SEO companies might get you to position one, but it will undoubtedly be for the wrong phrases (keywords). It’s not a coincidence that there is no competition for these phrases – it’s because no one is searching for them and that is why it’s so easy to get you right up the rankings for them. This is all poor quality SEO companies will do when they promise you this.

If you’re going to get to for first position on Google it needs to be a relevant search phrase or there is no point.

2.The SEO effect stops shortly after you stop paying for it

The poor quality SEO companies will give you an endless list of SEO activity they will provide for you, but in reality, they’re just focussing on inbound links. Why? Because that’s not only easy but it’s the way it’s always been done and the only way most of these companies know how to do it.

The problem, however – and it’s a very serious problem – is that as soon as you stop paying for link-building, the effect starts to disappear. For example, high quality on-site SEO and articles linking to your site from high-quality sites will give you an excellent long-term increase in the Google rankings.

When it comes to link-building, focus on quality not quantity.

3. They’re trying to deceive Google

Google has become clever enough to spot the type of SEO that poor quality sites create for you – because it’s effectively attempting to deceive Google. Now, more than ever, trying to deceive Google is a very bad idea as you’re likely to wind up getting penalised for it. Inbound links should certainly be part of your SEO strategy but they have to be natural links from high quality (and preferably relevant) sites. The poor quality SEO companies unfortunately don’t discriminate between good and bad sites.

Not all links are valuable – poor quality inbound links can have a very serious detrimental effect on your Google rankings

4. You can’t pick an SEO company based on price

Cheap SEO isn’t necessarily bad SEO just as expensive SEO isn’t necessarily good SEO. That friendly, chatty guy you know has unfortunately just baffled you with bullsh*t. he’s told you that the SEO his company does is better than the SEO services provided by the ‘other’ companies, however, ultimately, you’re just going to get the same SEO as if you’d bought from the cheapest company you could find.

Unless you get regular reports with tangible results showing you clear methodology, you won’t know whether you’ve been paying for good quality SEO or poor quality SEO until it’s too late.

5. Google doesn’t want you to spend money on SEO

If you’ve paid for SEO services in the past, you’ve probably paid for the poor quality stuff. Loads of inbound links to your site from poor quality websites will of course get Google to your site more often – just as a scatter gun will more than likely hit something – however, this is effectively deceiving Google

Actually, you should think about it like this: Good quality SEO is about communicating clearly with Google to let it know the subject of your website, your products and services, your geographical target area, etc.

If your site is built properly from the beginning, including good quality content, your site will naturally communicate your products & services clearly and therefore organically reflect its importance in terms of communicating with Google – no need to further SEO, Google will already have a clear picture of your site and rank it accordingly. The problem with most SEO in its current form is that is attempting to make sites appear more important that they would otherwise have appeared. obviously, Google doesn’t want this to happen!

To conduct search engine optimisation properly you need to communicate clearly with Google, not attempt to deceive it.

6. There are good links and bad links

This is a very basic concept but I continue to be amazed that this is something people spend very little time asking about with their SEO company and therefore fall foul of it.

Linking from poor quality sites, link farms, sites with no page rank, sites that are not relevant to yours, etc. is as good as a waste of time. Google attaches very little importance to these sites and therefore doesn’t pass on any importance to your site when it finds you link.

Your focus needs to be on quality links from quality websites not quantity of links.

7. There is traffic and there is traffic

What use is a million visitors to your site if none of them are your target customer? Failing to do a comprehensive competitor and search analysis before beginning your SEO campaign might mean you get it completely wrong and wasting money could be the least of your worries!

Badly optimised images and a badly optimised site combined with a lot of traffic can, for example cause your hosting account to become suspended or maybe worse!

Optimising your on-site content and focussing on the correct key phrases from the start of your SEO campaign will mean you’re much more likely to get the right visitors to your site and you’re less likely to have server problems.

8. Google continues to become smarter at spotting poor quality SEO

From what I have seen over the past few years, I would say that this year is probably the last one you’ll be able to get away with poor quality SEO that focuses on link-building.

Google continues to become smarter and, as we’ve seen earlier in this article, it doesn’t like to be deceived… but more importantly; don’t deceive yourself that poor quality SEO is anything other than attempting to deceive Google!

Unless you know you’re getting high-quality SEO services, you are taking a very big gamble with your website!

9. Protect your professional image

Your reputation is vitally important and therefore you need to protect it. Allowing someone else to write and publish information about your company, pertaining to have come from you and without you having approved it could be asking for trouble.

Are you sure the articulate guy who sold you the SEO services in the first place is the one also doing the writing? How much do they actually know about your business? How much time is spent on quality control?

Simply focussing on quality as opposed to quantity gives you much more opportunity to make sure the information being published properly reflects your business.

10. On-site is your number 1 SEO priority

Every house starts with its foundations. Obviously, you don’t get the decorator in before it’s built – that would be silly! And this is the same with your SEO. Failing to get the basics done properly at the start means you’re throwing away your money.

Start with the foundations and build from there.

The irony is, simply getting the basics done properly in the beginning will often mean that you don’t even need to spend anything on any further SEO! 

For high quality SEO and making sure your web development is done properly, call us today on 0114 383 0711 or contact us through the contact page

5 tips for managing your online reputation

5 tips for managing your online reputation

5 tips for managing your online reputation

All it takes is one disgruntled customer and before you know it they’re shouting to the world about how terrible you are! All-of-a-sudden you don’t care about your customers, you do a terrible job, and your main business activity is simply ripping people off. Forget the years of hard work you spent making sure that your customers receive excellent service and value for money – you’re now the worst-of-the-worst!

Maybe it was simply a misunderstanding, or a miscommunication, or a genuine mistake – but the fact is that unless you act quickly, your reputation could be seriously damaged!

Therefore, to help you avoid this happening, here are 5 tips to help you protect your on-line reputation:

1. If you have a business Facebook account, make sure you use it.

For many businesses, this is the route many of their disgruntled customers use to vent their spleen these days. Maybe they didn’t get the result the wanted using the proper complaints procedures or perhaps they just want to teach the company a lesson, the fact is, unless you act quickly, many people will see their side of the disagreement without ever getting yours.

So how do you deal with this potential problem? You need to be there when it happens. If you’ve got a Facebook Page, it’s no good visiting once a month to see what’s going on. You need to be there, replying to comments, deleting anything that isn’t in your interest and blocking potential trouble causers. If someone has a complaint, call them or email them and get it resolved in private.

More importantly than this, one of the best ways as a business to establish credibility and engender trust is to open up clear communication channels – and Facebook provides an excellent way to do this!

If you’re customers are going to say something about you publicly on Facebook, make sure it’s something nice. If they have a complaint, make sure it never reaches Facebook.

2. Monitor review sites

In the old days, you’d lean over the garden fence and ask your neighbour if they know a good plumber. Or you’d ask your friend for the name of that decorator they used last year.

Suddenly, in the internet age, we’re doing it differently. I don’t ask my auntie if that hotel she used in Barcelona was any good, I go to Trip Advisor. I’m looking for a local plumber; I’ll go to My Builder. How about a nice restaurant? I’ll go to Yelp. A holiday cottage? Let me have a quick look on Reevoo.

If you run a business you need to know which sites you’re likely to be reviewed on and monitor them. And, if you find an unfair review, complain and get it removed. It’s also not a daft idea to ask your customers to write a review for you on these sites!

3. Open clear communication channels

One of the biggest issues that can cause a small problem to blow out of all proportion is to do with poor communication. We’ve already spoken about Facebook helping to open up clear communication channels but there are also many other ways to provide a way for your customers to get in touch with you.

Why not send a feedback questionnaire after every job? How about following up each completed job with a phone call a month later? Do you have a clear support channel?

Letting your customers know you’re available and want to hear back from them means that they’re more likely to talk to you directly if they have a problem. Making it difficult for them to get in touch means you might not get the opportunity to discuss the problem if something is perceived to have gone wrong.

4. Keep your business persona and your private life separate

Brilliant solicitor by day, ‘techno-freak’ by night. The two don’t really tally too well, do they? …I think I’ll have a look for a different solicitor. There is nothing wrong with ‘techno’ music (whatever that is) but it might not fit too well with the day job.

If your hobby, or your friends, or your political opinions, or your religion, or whatever it might be is could be controversial or contradictory or not ‘fit’ with your day job, keep it separate and private. This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with any of these things or you have anything to be ashamed about, it’s more the point that you need to keep the focus on what you do.

Of course, there’s no reason for customers not to become friends – and friendship is all about shared interests – but you need to make sure that someone picks you or your company based on your merit, good work and excellent reputation and doesn’t make their decision not to work with you because you have, for example, different political opinions.

If you have a personal Facebook account (or other personal social media account for that matter), you should consider keeping it private.  This way you’ll help make sure you’re only be associated with your professional services.

5. Expect the worst

We’re all busy. We all have a ‘to do’ list as long as our arm. We all have to prioritise sometimes at the expense of the softer side of customer service. But, just because you don’t hear from someone, doesn’t mean that everything is fine and they’re happy.

Good restaurants have learnt this lesson well – the waiter will ask you if everything is OK with your meal shortly after you’ve started eating. And you also need to assume that your customers will not pro-actively mention anything to you if there is a problem. It’s probably a cultural thing in this country – people often won’t complain; they don’t like to be seen to be causing a fuss. It is, however, much easier to fix a problem as it appears than to deal with the aftermath when it grows out of all proportion – and the way to do this is to ask the question… at the right time!

If you would like to discuss Seven Creative’s Social Media Management packages including online reputation management, call us today on 0114 383 0711 or get in touch through our contact page

 

10 signs there might be a problem with your website

10 signs there might be a problem with your website

10 signs there might be a problem with your website

You’ve got a successful business, you’ve got a website, but is your site bringing in as much business as it could? Here are 10 signs to look out for that mean there may be a problem!

Please note; I’m using Google here when referring to a search engine as it’s the largest and therefore the one we generally focus on when optimising for the web.

1 – You’re not getting many visitors to your site

It’s often difficult to gauge how many visitors you should be getting to your website for many reasons – maybe your products or services are very niche, or maybe the majority

The first thing you need to do is identify your keywords and phrases – the things your target customers will be typing into Google when they’re looking for your products and services. This isn’t always as black & white as you’d imagine, however, with a bit of time you can usually get a good comprehensive list of these phrases. Don’t forget to also get an idea of the average search volumes.

Now you need to see where you appear in Google when you search for these phrases. If you appear as the first result on page one of Google, you should be getting around 30% of the clicks, for example, if 10000 people per month search for the key phrase you’re at position 1 for, you should be getting in the region of 10 visits a day for that phrase (i.e. ((10000/30)*0.3)).

Get your site’s SEO analysed ASAP

2 – You’ve got a high bounce rate

Many websites get the traffic but that traffic is not properly qualified through Google so they immediately leave the site without clicking internally – otherwise known as a bounce.

It’s very important to monitor your keyword density to make sure Google is getting an accurate picture of your products and services. Many people neglect the search engine in favour of the site visitor and often end up with a site that has high usability but poor search engine optimisation. The trick is to take account of both!

If your bounce rate is higher that 40 to 50%, it’s time to look at your search engine optimisation, conversion rate optimisation and usability checked ASAP

3 – Your phone isn’t ringing

The job of a website is varied and depends on the business. For many it’s to help establish credibility as a supportive sales tool, however, if your site should be generating leads for you and it’s not, we need to find out why!

Usability testing sounds expensive but can actually be very simple to do. For many business owners, they spend so much time within their industry that they forget that the jargon and acronyms they use in their day-to-day lives might not be understood by everyone else! Get someone who knows nothing about your industry to go through your website. Give them a task and get them to tell you when they hit a dead-end, get frustrated, get confused or even give up in exasperation – you may be very surprised at the results! Are your contact forms working? Are your contact details easy to find? Does your site work on all browsers? These are just a few of the things that make the difference between an enquiry and an exit.

Visitors arriving at your site combined with a low bounce rate but no phone calls means there could be a problem with your calls to action, conversion rate optimisation and usability.

4 – You can’t find your site in Google

It might sound obvious but have you searched for your site within Google? Even if it was once there doesn’t necessarily mean it will still be there now!

As Google’s algorithm get’s cleverer, any mistakes that may have been made may suddenly become evident and your site may be being penalised. For example, if you’ve traditionally paid for the type of SEO that has relied on inbound links, you may have recently disappeared from the rankings due to Google penalisation! Even if your site is still there, it may mean that your results are being suppressed!

Not being able to easily find your site from a Google search you should get your SEO looked at ASAP

5 – Exits from contact form but no enquiries

You’re getting the visitors, you’ve got a low bounce rate but you’re not getting the enquiries. Have you tested your contact form? Are your contact details correct? Does your form work? Does your page work on the main web and mobile browsers?

Another one that sounds simple but you’d be amazed how few people actually spend a few minutes each month testing the functionality of their websites.

Send yourself a test message and try the number otherwise it could mean there is a problem!

6 – High percentage of visitors from abroad

There is a lot of information within a website that most people would never even give a second thought to. For example, how does Google know your site is UK English? Maybe it is American English or Australian! I suppose it could look at your server location or domain name and hazard a guess, however, don’t forget that Googlebot is just a piece of software that only has a very short amount of time to assess and categorise your site!

Unless the hidden information within your site is included and correct, your site may not be optimised for its target geographical location and therefore may not be appearing in the right country. It’s important to get this checked and corrected if necessary.

7 – Getting enquiries for products or services you don’t provide

This one seems quite simple on the surface but is actually quite complex. A good website will not only index well within Google for the correct search terms and turn the visitors into enquiries, it should also help your site visitors to properly qualify themselves – or in other words, help them to decide if this is the site they need.

If you bore your visitors with difficult to read text and fail to tell them what you do in a simple, concise and fast manner, the majority of them are going to do one of two things – leave or contact you to ask you what you do – Will you paint my kitchen? No, we only sell paint! What are your opening hours? No, we don’t have a shop! You end up doing what your site could be doing – letting people know if you’re what they’re looking for!

Getting enquiries for products or services you don’t provide means you should test your site’s usability.

8 – Slow loading times

When was the last time you checked to see how quickly your site loads? Clear your cache and give it a go. Googlebot only spends a short time visiting your site and if a proportion of that time is spent waiting for your site to load, it’s not going to be indexing properly.

Another one of the most common problems is badly optimised images. Simply specifying a width to resize an image is a terrible idea! Whether it’s laziness or inexperience, it will still cost you heavily in terms of Google ranking, bandwidth and usability!

Check your bandwidth usage against your visitor numbers and see if they tally. Make sure your images are optimised and that your server is in the UK.

Slow site loading times mean you should have your hosting and site optimisation checked.

9 – Site not displaying properly on mobile devices

Even if you don’t know the statistics you can probably guess that the number of people using mobile devices to access the web has recently exploded and is only set to increase!

Even here at Seven Creative we use Android’s browser; Chrome for Android; Safari for iPad and iPhone; Silk for Kindle; and this is just us!

It can be costly to optimise a site for mobile – especially when it comes to cross browser compatibility – however, there are a few simple things to look out for!

Check your visitor statistics and see what browsers they’re using. Test your site on yours and your friends’ mobile devices. If your site uses Flash, oh dear… time for a new one! If you do find an issue, it might only be a small job to update your site’s CSS to accommodate the new mobile browsers.

There is also talk that Google may be about to start penalising sites that have a bad or absent mobile version so now is the time to act!

10 – Your site looks tired and out-of-date

Just as in person, you only get a very short time to make a good impression. When was the last time you updated your site? Does it look old or outdated? Are your images poor quality? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then that is the image of your business you are projecting. Of course, if that visitor met you in real life you’d impress them with your wealth of experience and industry knowledge, but the bad news is you’ll never get that opportunity. The visitor will hit ‘back’ and click on the next link – your competitor.

If you would like help with any of the potential website problems listed here, get in touch with us on 0114 383 0711 or contact us through out contact page 

Search Engine Optimisation – getting it wrong vs. getting it right

SEO services

SEO services

If you’ve ever paid for search engine optimisation (SEO) or are wondering if it will help your website, you need to read this.

SEO is certainly a buzz word at the moment but where do you get all the facts – how much should it cost? What results should I expect? How do I tell if it’s working? Am I being ripped off?

This article will show you how SEO done well will give you great long-term results and how SEO done badly can ruin your website rankings.

So, what is search engine optimisation?

SEO is simply the process communicating with Google and the other main search engines to make sure they have a clear understanding of how important your website is, where your target customers are, and what your products & services are.

Once this is done properly, you’ll appear in search results when your target customers search for the products and services you provide… or at least that’s the theory!

So, why is this not simple?

It’s not possible to get an accurate number of how many websites there are currently available but the last estimate put this approaching three quarters of a billion (750,000,000) with the majority of these in English.

Every one of these sites wants relevant visitors and the search engine’s job is therefore to fetch the appropriate results for you when you do a search based on factors such as where you are, what language you speak, and what you’re looking for.

The problem is that if Google can’t understand the purpose of your site or doesn’t get a true representation of how important your site is, you won’t appear in the right results.

So, what is the wrong type of SEO?

Google is a piece of software, it visits sites using what is known as its ‘Googlebot’ and the measure it uses to evaluate sites is called its algorithm.

Poor quality SEO companies will tell you that Google assesses a website is by looking at how many other sites link to the website in question– in other words, lots of links to your site = important website – but this only has a very small element of truth in it.

The reality is that Google is not stupid. Back in the old days of the internet you could get away doing SEO like that but Google continues to become smarter and its algorithm continues to update.

In fact, you probably heard of the recent infamous Panda and Penguin algorithm updates where sites that had focussed on inbound linking to increase their position in the search engines suddenly dropped out of the rankings overnight – and there were some very high-profile casualties of this!

So, what is the right type of SEO?

Getting your SEO right is not rocket science, it just takes a bit more care and attention. Selling someone SEO and then simply creating links to their site is either lazy or unethical (or both!). It may work for a while, however, as soon as you stop paying for this, the results will disappear again… and this is your best case scenario!!! Google is now also penalising sites that use poor quality links so, if your site is important to your business, you’re really taking a huge gamble!

This graph shows the difference between focussing your SEO on inbound links vs. focussing on good quality content and on-page SEO

This graph shows the difference between focussing your SEO on inbound links vs. focussing on good quality content and on-page SEO

I did say, however, that there was an element of truth in using link building as part of your SEO strategy, and there is. Link-building should form at least part of your SEO strategy, but you have to be very careful to make sure that the links pointing to your site are from good quality and relevant websites. Get this right and you’re on your way. Get it wrong and it can be disastrous!

The best way, however, to do your SEO properly is to do what we here at Seven Creative have always done – focus on high quality content. You’ll see not only an instant boost and an increase in rankings whilst your SEO campaign is in progress, you’ll also see a long-term boost way beyond this. This way, link-building is not something that has to be pro-actively conducted, rather it becomes something that happens organically.

We (here at Seven Creative) have always said that good quality SEO should primarily focus on ‘quality content’ & ‘on-page SEO’ – and it’s what we’ve always done. Don’t get ripped off, get it done properly.

Call Seven Creative today on 0114 383 0711 or get in touch through the contact page to see how SEO done properly can benefit your business.

3 BIG Reasons to be Blogging for Business

Here at Seven Creative, we know that blogging is incredibly important, and why it needs to be an integral part of any marketing and SEO strategy.

sheffield-copy-writing-for-blogs

We also know that it takes up a lot of time and can be hard work, (which is why many business outsource their content writing) – but it really is worth it.

329 million people read blogs each month. With this huge potential readership, why miss out?

Here are 3 BIG reasons why your company should be blogging!

1.       Keep Up With the Competition

Do you want your business to lead or follow? The chances are, someone in your business will start blogging soon, if they aren’t already of course. And that will give them a massive advantage. Over time, they will begin to dominate the online space in your industry, pushing you further down the list.

Why allow your competitor to be a thought leader and authority in your industry when you could be?!

2.       Blogging Boosts SEO

Blogging produces impressive SEO results – FACT. As Sheffield SEO experts, we know that the more indexed pages you have, the better your Google rankings will be. And on average, blogging produces a massive 436% increase in the number of indexed pages.

Also, because of Google’s recent algorithm changes, quality content is more important than ever. And what is the best way of producing quality content that Google will love? Regular, original blog posts!

3.       Content is King

So, you know that good quality content boosts your SEO and social media marketing effectiveness. The truth is, high quality content is one of the best marketing values that money can buy.

According to Entrepreneur.com, 73% of people now prefer to get information about an organisation through articles, as opposed to traditional advertising. And this is possibly the most powerful statistic – 61% of people feel better about companies that deliver custom content and are more likely to buy from them. 

Seven Creative is a full service digital marketing agency providing Sheffield SEO, Sheffield website design and content writing in Sheffield. If you would like experienced blog writers and copywriters to produce high quality content for your blog, do not hesitate to get in touch on 0114 383 0711 or email contact@sevencreative.co.uk.