Cheap Organic SEO Services?

  1. Full of eastern promise?

We’ve got an in-house marketing team that looks after the SEO requirements for many of our customers. Anybody with an email address and a website however will have been bombarded with emails at some point from Indian (normally) marketing companies offering fixed price results. Normally these are of a slightly dubious nature and are easily dismissed, but what is actually on offer here?

SEO – fixed price results

This is the normal lure, and the first mistake that Indian SEO companies make when pitching to an even slightly savvy customer. The fundamental truth of search engine optimisation is that there are no guarantees with regards to results; something we’re extremely open with our customers about. Search engines such as Google shift their goal often and results change as often as the wind. You can make improvements to a site and its online marketing and normally see results, however the extent to which these translate into desired rankings can be unpredictable.

What’s the catch then?

Well this is where the dishonesty part comes in I’m afraid – once you’re in a contract with a foreign marketing company and paid your money, you might be in a contract for a year. The first and most likely result is unfortunately that you see no results and your money is gone. Most of the less reputable optimisation services work in this manner. The company promises the earth but just takes the money and disappears.

The dangers

There’s more to this though, there are other “bad neighbourhood” SEO firms that will attempt to gain results by creating huge amounts of link spam on their partner websites. The goal of this is to create lots of links on other sites in order to make your site appear more important to search engines, and perhaps rank higher.

This can be extremely risky. The huge amount of new links (often from heath, gambling, timeshare websites) can sometimes boost your site in the rankings and you may think you’ve got a great value SEO service. But these gains will be short term.

Google is king

Google is an all-seeing being, not only is it extremely good at working out when somebody is doing something unscrupulous to boost their rankings, but it also has a huge anti-spam department specifically tasked with removing and penalising sites that attempt to manipulate rankings.

Your list may rank for a few weeks, or even a few months. But sooner or later it will be penalised and you’ll find yourself pushed deep down the rankings, or even removed from the google index entirely. This can be disastrous and even be the undoing of an entire company

Our approach

The only way to do it properly is to play the long game – there are no short cuts. We’ll work with you to improve your site, obtain link partners naturally and increase the reputation of your site to get it ranking properly

Listings that take longer to accomplish are infinitely more long-lasting and robust.

Feel free to get in touch and talk to one of our in-house marketing experts – we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

Live chat, is it all that?

Live chat has been around for quite a while, it’s no longer an emerging technology or trend. The general idea behind it is to break down a barrier to customer engagement or cut costs by enabling support teams to deal with requests more efficiently (and therefore more cheaply).

When we say live chat, we mean any popup window / box that enables a customer to talk directly in real-time via a textual medium. A common place you’ll see this is instead of a technical support telephone number, or used alongside to take the load off time and infrastructure intensive telephone support.

In our opinion there are two main types of live chat, although they work in the same basic manner in terms of the technology. The type that will prompt a potential customer to interact with a live chat agent. This is called proactive engagement and has the motive of increasing the chance of a sale or conversion. It might be triggered if a user views a product page for a certain length of time, this shows potential interest. The live chat dialog box might then pop up and ask if you need any assistance or further details. You might also use it to draw attention to a promotion or other hook. A key aspect of this style of live chat is that it’s instigated by automated messages (which may be disguised to look like they’re from a real person, or not). Once the visitor reacts the request can be silently passed onto a chat operator.

The most common style of live chat is the reactive chat request / response model. A visitor requests a live chat session with an operator, it’s then allocated by a queue system. As mentioned above this can be used to save resources on providing customer support, a chat agent could potentially have multiple sessions active at the same time and deal with them simultaneously. Larger companies often look to implement live chat to dissuade visitors from dialling a physical telephone number.

There are a few pretty notable benefits of providing a live chat facility:

  • No accent issues if your support is outsourced
  • Can be used to send pictures, videos for a richer experience
  • Non-intrusive, customers don’t have to pick up the phone and tie themselves up
  • Chat transcripts can be emailed / retained for reference
  • Less of a barrier to interaction – visitors more likely to interact online that dial a number

Regardless of if you’re looking to streamline your support system or offer a richer experience to customers and increase your conversions, live chat shouldn’t be overlooked. A slick implementation can provide a great user experience or have a direct positive effect on revenue.

It’s actually easier than you might think to get started with live chat, a basic feature set of often available without a monthly charge from many providers (such as Purechat or Smartsup). If it proves to be successful it’s then possible to move to a paid plan with more features / users / chat sessions. You could even look at offering live video, sound, file transfer and similar facilities.

Are you sold on live chat? Want to take a look at how it could transform the way your company handles client interaction? Drop us a message! We can offer bespoke implementations on your existing website – we find it can be made to work with nearly any site layout with a little bit of planning and technical know how.

What is Bedtime Browsing!?

Good question! Bedtime browsing is an increasingly recognised lifestyle browsing pattern whereby people are making their e-commerce transactions at ungodly hours when you’d expect everyone to be safely tucked up in bed.

Why on earth would people be online making mundane household purchases at 4am in the morning you say? Well studies have shown that with increasingly busy lives people are looking to liberate some of their recreational time and do their shopping while tucked up in bed (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/sleep-problems-smart-phones-blue-light-screen-time-browsing-social-media-a8935041.html).

There are a couple of points to draw from this new trend. From a store owner’s point of view, it means that there’s a potentially untapped audience that PPC advertising is missing out on. Lower competition for clicks means cheaper paid traffic. Often store owners will concentrate on ‘money’ times such as the ever popular Thursday evening (eBay shopping primetime) despite increased competition.

Another slightly more sinister observation is that it’s another manner in which mobile phone addiction is affecting our social lives and sleep patterns. There’s a proven link between the increase in insomnia and overuse of mobile phones at bedtime (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/). The brain struggles to turn off and get ready for bed after intense stimulation from the likes of social media.

So bedroom browsing is a thing, while much of the world sleeps, 1 in 15 e-commerce transactions are happening between midnight and 6am. If you’re an advertiser it might be worth not ignoring the early hours. If you’re a consumer, it might be worth reading the study linked above instead of shopping for bed linens!

 

WordPress: When not to use it for your website

WordPress is a very powerful CMS for building your site on, it’s actually the most common content management system used online to this day. For this reason it’s often a lot of people’s go-to application when they’re looking to launch a website. There’s lots of justification for this, it’s popular for a reason, but there’s a little more to it that not everyone understands or takes into account.

Suitability for task

If you’re looking to launch a simple website consisting of a few pages, using a fully featured CMS like wordpress can be huge overkill. If all your website consists of is a bit of intro text and some contact details this could be accomplished using static html files rather than a full content management system. Flat simple pages would load infinitely faster and require zero maintenance.

Plugins for wordpress allow it to meet the needs of lots of users, however you need to remember that by relying extensively on plugins from the outset means that you’re attempting to make the software do something it’s not originally designed to do. It’s a workaround for all intents and purposes. You can use plugins to turn wordpress into a full e-commerce platform, if that’s a wise decision or not is another question. As wordpress gets updated (and it DOES need to be updated), so do all the plugins you rely on. The more plugins your site uses the greater the risk of compatibility issues.

Security

This is the big one. As wordpress is so popular, it’s one of the main targets for hackers who will seek to compromise your site. Any site using wordpress is many many times more likely to be attacked than a less popular platform. This is because the same techniques and exploits that apply to one wordpress site of a given version number will apply to all other wordpress sites of that version. As such it makes attacking wordpress sites much more worthwhile.

Any wordpress site will be attacked from time to time. Successful attacks are normally due to the site not being kept up to date with security updates. These need to be applied as soon as they’re released to keep the site safe.

Customisation

Firstly, it’s possible to customise every single aspect of wordpress and present a website in basically any style or format you desire. However, the effort required to position a logo in a certain place, or create a new sidebar is often far greater than if the site was a bespoke creation. It can be easy to take on a basic theme and put your logo on it, but if you have any specific design intentions then the customisation work can often take many more hours than you might imagine as you’re working within the constraints of the wordpress CMS.

A system you used with the intention of saving time / money can actually cost you both of these in the long run unless you’re clear about your goals from the outset.

WordPress is a fantastic tool when used correctly. A competent agency (such as Dark Cherry Creative..) will keep their wordpress sites up to date, secure and be able to customise them for your requirements. Be wary about casually launching a homebrew wordpress site that won’t be monitored to kept up to date as it doesn’t take long for problems to arise for the uninitiated!

Looking to have a site built on the wordpress platform? Get in touch, we’re the experts!

Get your small business found locally: My Business (formally Places)

Part one of this series discussed how to use structured data on your pages so that Google can pick up essential details about your business, and best work out what it’s actually about. Google is pretty smart about categorising pages these days, but the same old rule holds true that the more cues and clues you can give it, the better.

Google My Business is a commonly overlooked feature that allows you to control how your business information appears on result pages. This is separate from actual search results, it’s the section on the right hand side of the main listings that show you visitors your company information. This is most commonly displayed when somebody searches for your business using a “branded” keyword, or basically searches for your company by its name.

These days very few people think to type out a website address, browsers and search engines are great at autocompleting phrases and company names. When is the last time you started typing “www.” and got all the way to “.co.uk” without your phone, browsers or tablet guessing what you’re looking for first? People will often type your company name directly into the address or search bar, and this is when they’ll be greeted by the Google My Business listing. Assuming that is that you’ve gone to the trouble to create it

Google My Business can be a powerful tool, you can edit your listing to include a brief intro to your business, perhaps show the sector it operates in, link to your website, a whole bunch of things! You can go further though, you can allow customers to publically post reviews of your business here which (assuming they’re positive!) will help inspire confidence is your business.

Depending on what sort of business you operate, you can use this listing to show pictures of your premises, inside and out. If you operate a showroom or something of a visual nature this can be a powerful tool.

The most obvious things you want here however are all the ways customers can get in touch, a website address is an obvious one, but you ideally also want your telephone number, address (with map) and your business hours.

We can create all this for you when we launch your site as one of our promotional packages, or we can put it together as a standalone service if you need it. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or drop us an email, make sure you don’t neglect it! You can set up your listing by going to https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/

Get your small business found locally: structured data

Part one: structured data

So you’ve got a website, now you can just sit back and watch the visitors roll in right? Customers will call, business will flourish and all you needed to do was have a website built and put it live. Well, not really.

Getting the site live is the first step, what message does the site convey if nobody is there to read it? Modern search engines (read: Google) are very good at working out what’s worthwhile content and what’s not, however unless you give your site the best possible chance of at ranking you’re likely to sit below your competitors on the result pages.

Google has what’s called an “index”, basically it crawls the internet continuously, caching page content, working out what’s relevant and deciding where to list pages and in what order. A huge number of factors dictate how deeply Google crawls your page and what it decides to do with the information.

Specifically here we’re talking about local businesses. As a bare minimum Google will want to know your location, contact details, opening hours and what type of services you offer. Some of this it can work out itself, but if you want your page to appear as a local search result (the type with a little map next to it, reviews, opening hours etc) then you need to do a bit of extra work.

Structured data is a phrase coined in search engine land to describe specific metadata on your page, like the categories mentioned above. By correctly including these items in your page you’re instantly telling search engines some really key pieces of information to help it display your local listing correctly. Without these we find that the local listing is unlikely to appear which will hugely affect the chance of your customers finding the service you offer.

We can ensure this information is included in your current website with a quick site health check, get in touch for more information.

Next time, the Google places business listing, a free service that a surprising amount of people ignore.  With this you can supply descriptions of your business, pictures of your premises as well as information on physical locations.

Have a Banging Night!

Happy New Year from the whole team, stay safe and we’ll see you in 2019. Thank you to all our customers through 2018, your business is much appreciated. Please get in touch with anything we can do for you in the New Year – we look forward to working with you!

Online visibility in 2018

It used to be that having a website was the beginning, middle and end of your online presence. You launch your new all-singing all-dancing website then sit back and watch customers roll in. The thing is; the Internet is always evolved and reinventing itself. Norms become passé and get replaced by new mediums and trends.

What am I missing?

The first and most obvious would be social signals. We always recommend that you have some sort of visibility on a few social platforms and plug these into your website in a meaningful manner. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious being that it’s another medium for customers to find your company / website. There is also the fact that having this social presence gives more weight to your website, in turn making it more likely to be found.

Which social channels?

This depends a little on what sort of business / website you run, not all mediums are suitable for all companies. As a bare minimum we always recommend a Facebook business page, an Instagram account (you’ll need something visual to share though!) and a Twitter account if you intend to publish updates and news.

If you intend to publish lengthier articles then it’s well worth having your own blog, you can then use your social channels to announce to your followers that you’ve published new content.

We always advise on what’s the most suitable for you when we build your web presence. For example if you happen to have a lot of tutorial videos then it would be an excellent idea to use Youtube for your video content, this can tie in with your website material.

Business listings, location location…

If you have a physical product to sell, or you have an actual branch / store – the google places / maps listing is hugely important. It gives local customers a hugely inflated chance of finding your company details and website. You can show pictures of your business, opening times etc to customers before they even get as far as clicking on your site. Local marketing tools like this can be hugely powerful. We can always set this up for you as part of your website package.

It’s all about taking a holistic approach to your online marketing, rather than simply launching a website. Have a chat with our team for more information.

URL’s, what’s in a name?

We buy lots of domain names for customers, lots. Some of which know exactly what they’re looking for and have done their research, some have even jumped the gun and bought their own domain name to protect their brand. What’s more common however is a new company approaches our team seeking advice over the choice of domain name.

I can just choose my company name can’t I?

Well, in an ideal world, yes you could. However the reality is that the Internet has been around a while now. A lot of people have websites and a lot of companies are on the internet. What’s often the case is that customers put effort into branding their company and growing their business, only to find out that when they want a domain name it’s already taken. Often it’ll be an unrelated business at the other side of the country, but it’s still gone.

My domain name has gone! What do I do?

All is not lost, thankfully there’s a greater choice than ever before with TLD (Top Level Domain) name extensions. It used to be that you needed to choose a .co.uk domain name or a .com if appropriate. These days there’s a huge list, way too many to list here, but if “superbuilders.co.uk” was taken (it is) you could choose superbuilders.info, superbuilders.club, superbuilders.store or superbuilders.app. The list goes on and on.

But I want a traditional TLD, mine is taken.

A good option if for a smaller local company is to pick a geographic domain name, using the example above you could choose superbuilders-yorkshire.co.uk, this would have the added benefit of telling your customers (and search engines) about the area you operate in.

Somebody has my domain name, but doesn’t use it?

This is quite common, often these were bought for a reason but never used, or maybe the company as closed and they’ve yet to hand back their domain name. If there’s no site on a domain it may be worth keeping an eye on it. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to buy it at some point in the future if it’s not being used. If you use http://whois.sc you can see exactly when the domain name lapses and maybe be able to snap it up!

New Year / New Business

Why now is the right time to launch a website for your services.

This might seem like a strange statement, surely there’s little point in launching a new website or web project so late in the year? Actually that couldn’t be further from the truth.

For a lot of companies, January / February tend to be fairly quiet times, customers have overspent at Christmas and they’re waiting for their credit card statements to land. There’s a lot of evidence (as well as our own personal experience!) to suggest that these “quiet times” are actually used for reducing costs, re-costing supplies, putting contracts out to tender etc.  All in the interest of reducing costs while business is slower.

What the start of the year actually is, in reality, is a golden opportunity to get a foot in the door. This can pay dividend for the rest of the year, you’ve got the chance to win new contracts and attract new custom while their actively looking to streamline their spending. January / February are when potential customers are busy doing their research!

This holds true for a variety of different industries. It’s especially true of markets that are price sensitive. If you could provide vehicle maintenance for a fleet of company vehicles for a vastly reduced price (for example), there’s a good chance that you’d be able to win a lucrative new contract for the year ahead.

A website provides the potential for vastly increased company exposure, by having a web presence you’re instantly increasing the chance of customers finding your company and using your services. If you’re currently without a website, or maybe yours is in need of a revamp, maybe now is the time to do it?

Get in touch with our team for more information.