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Should you be worried about 'mobilegeddon'?

Should you be worried about 'mobilegeddon'?

You may have seen 'mobilegeddon' trending across social media over the past few days, as well as being the subject of some high profile articles on The Guardian and the BBC

At the heart of this rather apocalyptic term is a fundamental change to the way that Google is ranking search results. Up to now, web sites that are suitable for display and use on a mobile phone were highlighted in their search results, but Google are now ramping things up and taking the 'mobile friendliness' of a web site as a significant factor in how highly your site will be ranked on their results pages. So if your web site isn't optimised for being used on smartphones and tablets, you could start to lose some valuable Google rankings.

This could spell big problems for business-critical sites such as eCommerce stores and SaaS platforms, with USA Today claiming at least 40% of 'top web sites' could be hit. The commercial aspect of  search engine rankings are vital for online businesses, particularly where the majority of their traffic comes from Google searches. But just as important is the effect this will have on non-commercial sites, where users often search Google to find relevant information, advice or support.

This is, of course, another good reason to ensure that your web site is optimised for mobile - something that we at This is Focus have been doing for over three years now. For our customers, 'mobilegeddon' means their web sites will appear healthily in search results, with a nice reassuring 'mobile friendly' label. 

But there's other important reasons for optimising your web site for mobile:

  • User experience: ensuring that whatever device your users employ, they can obtain the information they need.
  • Accessibility: why should users who only have access to a specific device be penalised? 
  • Sustainability: new devices surface so quickly. Being 'mobile friendly' is more than 'doing a mobile version of your web site'. There are many combinations of screen sizes - iPads have mini-versions, iPhones have big versions. Our technology means we take screen size as the key factor in how a web site is displayed - not just the device accessing it.

There's no doubt that Google set trends and in some ways, govern the way that web sites are delivered. Google react to how users search for information, and they clearly think that this core change in their ranking tech is delivering users the content they want in a format they need. It could be the first of a series of changes they implement that favour well designed, robust and useful web sites.

Handily, Google have provided a nice online tool to check if your web site is 'mobile friendly'. Simply visit:
https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and enter your web site address. If it fails, then please do feel free to have a chat with the This is Focus team to see how we can turn that red cross into a green tick....

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Friday April 24 2015 11:17 AM


Tags: website google seo search


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Digital Love

Digital Love

The trouble with being dead busy and heads-down-cracking-on is you get a bit inward-facing... which is great for the here and now, but means you can lose sight a bit of what's happening out there in the big wide world of Web. So yesterday was a great opportunity for me to raise my head up, and spend the day at a conference in Bristol City Centre - On The Edge Digital. It was a really inspiring event - the speakers covered a range of topics, some of which we know, some we think we know and some we can learn a lot from!

The subjects included:

  • Content - matching it to your sales process, and your target audience
  • Localised SEO (search Engine Optimisation) and Searches - what does it mean to be Local?
  • Email Marketing - some easy methods to try to get improved results
  • PPC (Pay Per Click) - quick wins and Google's new Enhanced campaigns
  • Social Media - strategy, common mistakes and what channels to use
  • RWD (Responsive Web Design) - understanding more about why, and when to make the change to give the best user experience
  • Social Networking for B2B - making it the right fit; and fitting it in!

And I do love the Digital World. It's inspiring and jaw-dropping and infuriating and exciting and keeps on changing ALL THE TIME. I love learning about latest developments and trends and news and views, forming opinions, putting them into practice, and then applying new developments and trends and news and views to make ongoing improvements... and so it goes on.

If you think it's about time to review your website or digital marketing strategy, please do get in touch. There's some exciting new developments happening right now, and it's all fresh in my mind - so let's have a chat and see what we can do to get you a bit of Digital Love too :-)




Content strategy for Charity websites

Sometimes part of the 'Information Architecture' planning stage of a website project, Content Strategy is a fundamental part of the success of your site.

Most charities know exactly what they want to say and what their message is, but don't know how to say it - effectively - on the web. Good web content is powerful, short; easy to scan over and navigate through. You don't lose your audience in those first few critical seconds with over-long and hard to read content.

Charity sites need to speak to a wide audience (several different audiences, in fact), and tend to focus on emotive images and text, with core messaging about their causes and how they help. It's common to feature large images, video content or graphics. You can see examples of these on our friends at MSI's site - www.ms-society.ie

The more you can identify what your audiences are interested in - and respond to - the easier it is to produce content that is engaging and thought-provoking.

A key part of Information Architecture - 'Personas' - can be used as an approach for planning content. You could consider holding a content strategy workshop; using audience personas to help your staff empathise with each audience type and 'see the site through their eyes'. From this work, your web team can assess the information architecture (navigation and content structure) for the site, ensuring it's relevant to the 'Persona' findings.

Planning and developing your site content needs to begin at the start of the project, and follow the agreed milestones; not be a mad copy-paste scramble from old site to new in the final days before go-live...

Social Media
Linked to your site content will inevitably be Social Media. It's a cost effective way to increase your communication-reach; and ideally has some strategy behind it to keep focus on what's trying to be achieved. Your web team can feed in posts and tweets automatically to the web site or other social media tools - without you having to repeatedly copy-paste!

Tips for Strong Content

Keep it short - use short, punchy content rather than lengthy, rambling articles. Attention spans are getting shorter, so consider using videos to explain issues in a quick, engaging way - Save the Children is producing short videos to tell stories much faster, www.wateraid.org.uk will tell you at first glance: 'Today, 4000 children will die because of dirty water and poor sanitation'. Those 12 words say it all.

Use images - Real, hands on photos of activities and events. No head-and-shoulders shots! Staff and volunteers can - and should - take photos all the time, and save them in a communal image bank. But do try to save budget for a professional photographer, for key marketing images on your home page, brochure covers, advertising etc.

Get organised - Staff and volunteers need to capture all the highs and lows they'll experience in their day - these real-life stories will provide relevant content that will engage readers. Encourage them to save their notes and articles in a story bank - or better still, publish an article on the site!

Talk to your audience - People are used to informal language. Be natural, conversational where appropriate, and use plain English - and try to say 'you' more than 'we' where you can. Use terms that make sense - 'stakeholders' means something to your corporate team, but not to Bob who just wants to know what you spend your donations on.

And crucially - using copy that 'normal' people enter in search engines, makes that article easier to find in search results.

Use Social Media - ideal for presenting your 'personality'. Instead of sharing links to recent blogs or articles, use tools like Twitter and Facebook to chat with your audience. Try to actually reply to/contact someone every few tweets. Monitor your streams and direct audiences to further content.

Have a purpose - whether it's to get new donors, supporters, sponsors or volunteers, there should be a call to action on every page. This could be contact or to find out more, or also see...

Use quotes - comments from staff, volunteers or service users makes content feel 'real' and current.

User testing - your volunteers may be pleased to help with user testing; set them tasks to find certain information, or perform a series of content-related tasks. Getting feedback and input form 'real' users will be invaluable, and can be fed into the site to keep it fresh and effective.

Top tip - Always think about the 'So What?' factor. Why does your audience need to know this information, do they understand it, and what's in it for them...

If you'd like to know more about Information Architecture, Content Strategy or any other topics from this blog, please give us a call or drop us an email - we'd be very happy to talk to you!

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Tuesday January 29 2013 01:56 PM


Tags: charity msireland copy seo informationarchitecture contentstrategy


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Me me me me me...

Me me me me me...

More and more Company web sites are using ME. By that I mean they talk about themselves. A lot. "We have a great range of pipe cleaners". "Our business has been running for 250 years and we are brilliant". "Look at our interesting news all about us".

It's boring. And self-orientated. Even when including keywords and SEO-focused copy, the content itself still needs to be interesting and effective for the reader. Customer-focussed, if you like.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
We are WidgetWeb! We have a huge range of products including waterproof widgets. We offer good prices and are a well-established business of 30 years. Browse our site now!
OR
Got a leaky sink? Need to fix it fast, and at a low price? You'll find a full range of waterproof widgets here. In a hurry? No problem. You'll love our super-speedy order process.

Why has your web visitor come to your site? They have a leaky sink and need to find some waterproof widgets - quickly - and for a good price. They’ve not come to hear about how long you've been running for and a load of flowery 'me me me'.

See how Apple are putting this in place - lots more 'you' than 'we' in this iPad piece.

The copy on your site needs to address your visitor and their needs, quickly and effectively. Keep them focussed and you'll have a better chance of them making a purchase, or making contact, or downloading your latest offers... Talk to your customers, not at them.

And finally... For every instance of we, try to say 'you', at least twice.

If you'd like to chat about your web copy with one of the team here at Focus, drop us a line here.

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Thursday May 10 2012 09:46 AM


Tags: seo userexperience usability content copy web-development web-design web


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What is Digital Strategy and how does it work?

What is Digital Strategy and how does it work?

Digital strategy is something which every company should be considering, but what is a digital strategy and how do you go about developing one?  

According to Wikipedia a digital strategy is……'the process of specifying an organisation's vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives in order to maximize the business benefits digital investments and efforts provide to the organisation.'

At Focus we have worked on a large number of digital strategies for our clients as well as our own. If we had to explain a digital strategy to a client we would say that it is the initial and ongoing development of processes that will achieve set goals and aims using digital technologies and channels.

We’ve put together our thoughts on the process involved in developing a digital strategy.

The initial thoughts that need to take place when developing a digital strategy is reviewing your current processes and procedures, digital channels currently utilised and results of these activities over a period. Of course you may not currently be undertaking any at the moment. 

Once you looked at how you’ve done things – it’s now time to look ahead. Working out a list of goals that you aim to achieve is key part to the process of developing a digital strategy. This may include some of your current business objectives.

It’s then all about understanding how to achieve these objectives, is it through SEO, social media, development of your website? Once you’ve understood what is it you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it – it’s about the process and procedures to achieve your desired objectives. Another key element to remember is measurement – you’ll want to measure your return on investment.

Once you’ve spent time implementing these ideas into practice you’ll need to continually evaluate the results and ensure you evolve your strategy over time – we here at Focus love the phrase ‘continuous improvement’. It a methodology which is extremely important in the world of digital. 

Created on Tuesday November 22 2011 12:56 PM


Tags: website web-development seo social-networking focus digital digitalmarketing


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Knee deep in keyword research

During our recent office move I found an old checklist that we used to provide clients in the late 90's that covered submitting web sites to search engines. At the top of the sheet in big, bold text was the first instruction: "Put yourself in the position of the user". Many years later and that statement remains the important fundamental step when thinking about keyword research.

Keywords are the building blocks of search engine marketing - whether it's natural, organic optimisation or pay-per-click campaigns using AdWords and alike. Keywords are thoughts - they are transferred from the brains of users and translated into words and phrases that a search engine has to decipher before deciding which web sites to present as relevant, in an organised and ranked list. Keywords are also often questions - from users looking for solutions, and you hope that it's your web site that can provide answers through your products and services.

Users tend to create keywords in one of a few general ways:

 - they can be explicit or exact: a description of what the user is looking for. If they are looking for more RAM for a computer, they may search for 'computer memory'.

 - they can describe the problem they're having or symptom being experienced: 'cannot run photoshop', or 'computer running slowly'. Both these might be solved with more computer memory, but the searcher doesn't know that yet, they're merely describing the issues they face.

 - they can also search for precise brand or product names: 'DDR3 1333MHz PC3-10600'. Keywords like this might be the easiest to monitise towards, but they're also likely to be the most competitive.

Immediately you can see that picking keywords from your brochure or your marketing department might not be the best way to start your research. Users don't think like you or your organisation does, they may not use jargon familiar to you. It's crucial to look beyond the keywords themselves - and examine the scenarios and situations that may be causing someone to need your product or service.

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Wednesday July 20 2011 11:35 AM


Tags: seo


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Has Google's 'Dewey Update' upset your SERPS?

Keeping abreast of SEO news is just one of the many things we try to keep tabs on here at Focus Towers.  Mumblings and grumblings about Google's latest update - termed the "Dewey Update" after a blog post from Matt Cutts - have been growing over the past few weeks.

Has this affected your site rankings?

I'd be really interested to get any feedback from anyone affected by this latest change.

Links
Surviving the Dewey Update 
Dewey Discussion
Spanish SEO commentary
Useful tool comparing searches across disparate data centres

Created on Tuesday April 29 2008 02:47 PM


Tags: blog google seo


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Okkam Customises Searches

Okkam SearchFinding a recommended restaurant took up a large part of my lunchtime today, even though I was told its name and general location.  This common irritation could be a thing of the past if Okkam takes off in the next few years.

We have previously mentioned rivals to Google's domination of the online search, just as we've touched on the importance that such a powerful tool has on our ability to retrieve relevant information from the ever-expanding web.

Okkam - an academic initiative from Trento University - is finding a better way to publish, link and find information using a “web of entities”.   It will put information into context, making it possible to identify 'Paris' as an annoying, talentless celebrity, as opposed to the capital of France, for example.

Still in the early stages, it appears that the success of the project will depend largely upon how widely it is taken up in the first two years.  The target for 2008 is to get a million 'entities' on board, with use by application developers crucial to its long term success.

Already big in Portugal, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for Okkam to join Google in the British vernacular.

Created on Wednesday March 12 2008 05:23 PM


Tags: google seo web-development


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The democratisation of information


We've just read Jay Adelson's piece regarding the democratisation of information, care of the internet's burgeoning blogging community.  He describes the situation well - the way we assimilate knowledge is changing due to the proliferation of 'news' outlets (we're all increasing coming across information regarding new technologies from independent blogs and not from conventional news sites). 

Despite this explosion of information I think the power still lies with Google.  You can only access a fraction of what is out there without a search engine and the rules that govern SEO are constantly being rewritten.  Which really means that those complying with Google's latest guidelines get the largest amount of traffic.

Created on Wednesday February 20 2008 11:33 AM


Tags: blog google media seo technology web-development


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