WEBSITE OVERHAUL – SEO CRITICALITY

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BUT TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS ACCORDINGLY

At some time or other every business will have to think about a website overhaul. It can be a daunting prospect. Whether the requirement is just to freshen content or to completely revamp a site, a key consideration is going to be preserving your SEO ranking. Of course in writing this guide its worth considering that to get a perfect score on all of these issue your designer is going to have to spend time making it happen. Therefore, the concept of cost and value need to be factored into our thinking and a client’s expectations. If you are a medium sized business aiming for a highly professional website and have a suitable budget, then you ought to include everything we are suggesting here. But the concept of satisfying a customer who wants an e shop to offer the same functionality as amazon.com and contain almost as many products, for the price of an A5 flyer, is something most developers have to contend with from time to time.

WHICH AUDIENCE?

As our SEO Guru, we just call him Dave, likes to remind our marketers: content is written for two audiences, a) real people and b) search engine robots. You ignore either of these key targets at your peril. And yet it is a frighteningly common occurrence to find the latter is often disregarded. At Azzurro-Blu all of our Marketers are required to do some basic coding and SEO training to ensure their interface with our SEO specialists are more meaningful. We also give our developers regular marketing courses to make sure the process works both ways. For the purpose of this article we are going to focus largely on the SEO aspect. So with that in mind it is worth remembering that what we are really talking about here is constructing data to ensure that a website is found and ranked in as positive a manner as possible by search engines.

USE A COMPETENT DESIGNER

Ask if they have a plan! Most competent SEO practitioners will be well ranked themselves. Assure yourself that they are there by design and not by default. A good web development company will be able to optimise your performance by using specific techniques under a planned strategy. Perhaps the company you are looking at had some expertise in the past but that expertise left a long time ago. Make sure you get a strategy and that the web developer knows what he is talking about. Check their content: content is a key component in building SEO performance. But just as importantly it is key to persuading real customers that you are a credible business. Look at the content of your prospective web designer: Is it well written? Does it make sense? Does it represent brand values effectively? Would you want this company writing your content? There is a balance: remember there is a balance to be struck. For example, if you want a great video to communicate what you are about to be the first thing visitors see that is a less effective SEO technique that text based key words. The ideal phrasing for your concept positioning and branding is unlikely to be the perfect SEO selection. But the SEO inputs can be accommodated in other ways. Conversion Rate Issues: customer experience is of course important. A fast page delivery speed is nice to have. If your web site is more biased towards on-line sales this feature will be more important than a web site whose purpose is converting targets over a longer sales cycle. This isn’t really and SEO issue but gets brought up from time to time.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWS

Take the opportunity to add Social Media Content and in particular news content. Although this is an activity that in general sits further down the SEO priority list, its importance is growing. Of more importance at this time is the need for up-to-date news pages or blogs. This will give you the opportunity to refresh content regularly in a simple effective manner. If you want something more complex you might want to consider a Social Wall. The volume and quality of the information you produce on Social Media will ultimately have a bearing on your SEO but is also more important for marketing to real people as opposed to SEO Bots. KEEP YOUR DOMAIN NAME Be wary about changing your domain name. Unless you have a good reason for changing your domain name you should think about keeping it. Aged domains as a general rule have a higher intrinsic value. Trust flow, citation flow, and domain authority are key metrics that are more likely to score higher on aged domains. Whilst there are techniques our programmers can use to protect some of these features where someone wants to move to a new domain name – it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. New domain names can carry hidden risks and you should evaluate the various items of relative value before making this decision. Your web designer should have access to specific tools that conduct this complex analysis quickly and effectively. Check that they do.

MONITOR PERFORANCE

Ensure that you have a record of current performance for each page that can be used to compare future performance. What you web developer should do is lovingly re-create the URL for each page to protect your SEO value for that page. Many don’t because it can be a painstaking process. You really want this to be part of the plan – unless of course there is limited value to the pages in question, or you can’t justify the expenditure.

CHECK ALT TAGS

We strongly recommend that you make effective use alt tags or alt text throughout your website. Whilst this may not seem too important it can have a marked impact on SEO performance. Alt tags are an overlooked aspect of web design, they can easily be forgotten whether you are building a brand new website from scratch or conducting a rebranding effort. Please ensure that your use of these tags is uniform throughout your site, accompanying all images regardless of how prominent or subtle. (Avoid images where the text is part of the image if you can.) Best practices for alt tags require you keep such text specific and brief. Describe the image clearly and precisely, and avoid the temptation to use this as an opportunity to plant key words. Keyword misuse is a hazardous activity, so we recommend you avoid it to protect future SEO performance.

STRUCTURE

Anyone who has ever used a website understands the importance of ease of navigation. It is a key aspect of the customer journey. But what you may not know is that ineffective navigation and poor website structure can affect your SEO performance. Even small changes can have an impact on your performance. As they say. “it’s easy when you know how”. But the knowing is the key. In determining an effective structure, you will want to know
  • why users visit your site,
  • what search terms they used to get there, and
  • how they interacted once they arrived.
Important pages full of relevant information for users must be easy to locate and take the customer journey into account. When you walk into a major store, some marketer has thought about your customer journey. It is just as important on a website – perhaps more so.

URL’a

Please ensure that URL’s follow a structured approach that mirrors your navigation plan. For example, a visitor should be able to look at the URL www.technolag.com/gaming/totalwar, to know that on the TechnolAG website they can click on the gaming menu and then the totalwar submenu to get to the same page.

INTERNAL LINKS

Consideration needs to be given to internal linking that locates high-ranking pages throughout your website, rather than locking them into one area. Every page on your site should have and internal link to somewhere. But note that there has to be a logic to the use of links and the content used. Poor linking and illogical content is similar to keyword stuffing and can harm your SEO performance. Beyond SEO focus, effective internal linking allows you to guide the customer through the site in a way that prepares them for purchase.

ENGANGEMENT DATA

It is a feature that can be overlooked. A high bounce rate might be telling you something important. Unless you are a site that gets hit by mistaken visitors (and this can happen to certain sites for different reasons), a high bounce rate might mean:
  • poor user engagement
  • lack of clarity
  • lack of information
  • pricing or value challenges
Some of these questions will be dealt with in your marketing plan and so from a web-design point of view a) to c) are issues to address with the designer. Providing high-quality content on your site is one of the clearest paths to effective SEO performance, and your bounce rate might shed some light on how well you are doing on that issue. High quality, and changing content are issues that our Marketers and SEO team can agree on since they align to connect the requirements of both customers search engine metrics.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot to think about when undertaking a web re-vamp. Make sure you get a professional job done and include the considerations we have highlighted above. Without these considerations you are only getting half a job done. At Azzurro-Blu this is part of our process. Make sure you get the same service. If you are a web developer without detailed SEO support talk to us to find out how we can help you and your customer.

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Importance of Email Marketing in 2017

If you asked the person next to you if they have ever sent or received an email, what do you think their reply would be? It’s very likely to be a yes. When running a business, email marketing still remains the most effective way to reach people on a large scale.

With nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide using email it is clear to see just how important email marketing is for business. It’s a big part of our lives with each of us receiving at least 1 email a day. Above all email marketing is a very personal way of connecting with your audience. The more personalised the email the better the results. Emails can also be tailored depending on your customers’ needs and wants so that every communication is relevant to their interests.

Still not convinced on the importance of email marketing for your company? Read on to discover 6 great tips on why you should be using email marketing for your business.

1. Trumps Competitor, Social Media

Of course we’re not saying forget about social media as it is equally as important for any business’ marketing strategy. Social media is the medium to use when interacting with your audience. Companies use social media to strengthen relationships, it is the first step towards your goal – the conversion.

Email marketing is the perfect medium when it comes to converting your target audience. Emails with specific content and messages that are of value to your target audience see the best conversion rates. Communicate regularly with your audience through email, it won’t be long till they become members, customers or supporters of your company.

2. Money Saver

Email is great when looking for a cost effective marketing solution. It allows you to reach a large number of potential customers while spending nothing but your time.

Compared to more traditional marketing efforts such as print, TV, radio etc. which can take up a lot of time and money, email marketing is the way to go. With emails, you still get that visual appeal but with added benefits. They enable your customers to receive follow-up information instantly upon receiving the email through the inclusion of links to your website for example.

The cost benefits to using email marketing far outweigh most other forms of marketing. With the correct maintenance of an email list, the cost benefits increase as does the ROI through the closer relationship established with the recipients. Together with the higher response rates email attracts, you receive more positive responses from your audience. Responses that are received more quickly at a lower unit cost.

3. Targeted and Tailored

Email marketing allows you to tailor messages sent to your audience through the segmentation of your lists. Messages that resonate with that particular audience and can provide something of interest, something of value.

This is something that is difficult to achieve through other marketing mediums. Take social media for example. When posting to your target market the message posted isn’t tailored to a specific audience but instead is generalised. By using your email marketing software correctly, you will be able to address your audience by name, separate by certain topics and deliver these to particular members on your list.

It is essential that you don’t spam your audience. Use email marketing to build loyalty and trust between yourself, your brand and your customers. Email marketing is important for building relationships with prospects. Email them at appropriate times ensuring your tone is polite and friendly. Don’t bombard them with emails, you’ll very quickly loose them as a potential customer.

4. Demands Attention

Ignoring an email isn’t easy to do. Emails captivate us and without realising you’ve probably replied, forward, clicked-through or signed up. Emails are the perfect medium for directing traffic to your website through the simple use of a click-through and ultimately drives sales. Emails demand attention and without doubt produces results.

5. Measure Results

When using email marketing softwares such as MailChimp (probably the most popular) the software makes it easy for you to track the results of your recent emailing campaign. Who opened your email for example, which links were clicked, how many people unsubscribed. Remember to keep track of your emailing campaigns performances, this will help you improve on your emailing tactics for your next campaign.

6. Thank you Mobile Phones

Look around, I bet you see most people either on their phones or at least looking at them. They could be checking their emails. In this technological age most people now own a mobile phone, this makes emails more accessible at all hours of the day.

Not using email as part of your internet marketing strategy will have a detrimental effect. Your missing out on a channel that most of the world uses. Get emailing!

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6 Hints to Improving your Web Development Skills

The Web Development industry is ever changing and as a developer it is important to stay ahead of the game. Every day holds a different opportunity to learn and develop, it’s what you do to develop your skills and experience that is important.

You could be the best, most experienced web developer in the world or just starting out. Where ever you are in your web developing career, to grow you have to continually strive to optimise your skills.

We’ve put together 5 great tips to follow that are sure to improve your web development skills. Check them out.

1. Code Regularly

Just like any skill, by practising everyday you’ll improve. And coding is no different, the more you practice on a daily basis the better you will become. In doing this you will pick up on mistakes more easily as well as improving on your typing skills.

And while your practicing writing code anyway it wouldn’t hurt to get to know your favourite code editor in more detail. Learning shortcuts would save you more time in the long run and try using it without relying on your mouse or trackpad. Getting to know all the features within your main tool will enable you to become more proactive. You’ll be amazed with the results.

2. Get Involved with Open-Source Projects

Immerse yourself in code with open-source projects from places like GitHub. Open Source projects such as GitHub allows you to choose to fork an existing project and create your iteration of it. You can also assist with existing projects where you can offer your skills and experience to help get the project to its final stages or fix minor bugs to improve a projects stability.

Open-source projects have many options for you to choose from, options that lead to gaining a better understanding of code. It also allows you to learn code from others who might show you different ways of doing things.

And on top of all these great reasons why you should use open-source projects here’s another one. You get to collaborate with others on some great and exciting projects which if anything else gives you another pair of eyes on your code.

3. Pass on your Knowledge

You may not see yourself as a writer but believe it or not writing is a great way in which you can continue to learn. Writing about code of course, you can teach people of your knowledge through blogs for example. Not only is writing blogs a good way to continue learning but it also increases your visibility and positions you as an expert within the web developing field.

4. Learn Something New

The web has an abundance of knowledge at your fingertips. There is no shortage of great tutorials in which web developers can learn and expand their knowledge. Staying within your comfort is a danger in the web development industry. Trends are continuously changing and adapting and you have to do the same.

Learn something new. If you are a WordPress theme developer for example, you could try creating a plugin. A software developer maybe working with apps? You could give mobile app development a try. We understand that dabbling in tutorials here and there won’t transform you into a master but it does follow the principle of being immersed in code on a daily basis. Never a bad thing.

5. Take Breaks

Coding every day is hard work, it’s important to take yourself out with the world of coding now and again, a few breaks to recuperate. It’s beneficial to be proactive of course but it’s just as beneficial to spend time not producing anything. Sometimes this can end up being more productive.

Working constantly isn’t good. It can not only affect your health but affect your quality of work. Resulting or what may result in sloppy code, missed deadlines, and more importantly missed opportunities. If you work too hard you run the risk of burning yourself out leading to stress which can ultimately lead to your inability to think clearly or to solve problems. This is why it is essential to take regular breaks, some downtime to gather your thoughts.

6. The Code you Write Has a Purpose

Knowing what the purpose is in advance will optimise your efforts. Don’t be afraid to stand up to the marketers and ensure that your technical parameters find a place in defining the purpose.

Within the web developing industry you have to remember that languages come and go. Although this is a good reason to learn about as many languages and trends as possible, you’ll become a lot better at code if you spent more time mastering the fundamentals.

Many new trends come on the scene weekly if not daily but the truth is the basic fundamentals never change. Make yourself more familiar with the underlying architecture and once you’ve mastered that learning a new language becomes a lot easier.

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Happy New Year

We would like to take this opportunity to provide a short update on what has been happening at Azzurro-Blu as the New Year approaches. It has been some time since we wrote a Blog and we know we should write more often. Although our commitment to Social Media keeps people informed in a general sense, our Blog gives us the opportunity for more in depth comment.

It has been a challenging year. This has been true for most businesses in the North East economy. However, we intensified our own marketing efforts from Q2 onwards and this translated into a strong second half of the year.

We set some specific targets and have achieved some 80% of them. Examples of these include: We now host over 100 websites. We now have a broad web site portfolio with significant depth of experience in complex e-commerce projects. We improved the technical capability of the team by adding more programmers to match our level of marketing capability. We started working on our own SEO profile (We had focused on direct marketing at start up because of the SEO competition in our space. But – a bit like the tradesman whose wife complains nothing gets done at home we had worked SEO successfully for others but not for ourselves. And so since starting in September we have made good progress). We have incorporated some interesting consultative projects into our portfolio. So all in all it has been an exceptionally busy year with good progress made on many fronts. None of this would have been possible without the skills, imagination and diligence of the team.

The bulk of the team has been together for about four years now. Some of the team worked for an affiliate company and spent time successfully building other businesses before a range of circumstances saw the need for Azzurro-Blu to be born. Added to our new team members, we struck an alliance with Aberdeen marketing agency Fresh Ideas that we believe was useful for the clients of both parties. Whilst Fresh Ideas focused more on small and medium sized businesses and start ups this allowed us to collaborate on some good projects.

Perhaps the most interesting growth area has been our consultative marketing projects. It isn’t easy persuading a business that nothing major is going to change from a marketing or sales perspective without a budget. But that truth has enabled several clients to seek the external support required or to substitute internal effort for external support. Usually marketing transformation starts with a new plan, or the review of an old plan. But as they say in most walks of life it is good to have a plan. And that is certainly true in marketing. Our particular USP of having the experience and ability to devise AND implement an effective marketing plan has meant that any marketing materials we produce are created and reviewed with a marketing objective in mind. We believe it is this focus that has driven our growth in 2016.

We have some exciting plans for next year. To all of our clients in particular we would like to thank you for working with us this year and we take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

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3 Perfect Ways Game of Thrones Uses Content Marketing

We’ve all heard of the popular TV series Game of Thrones. Whether you love it/hate it or couldn’t care less there’s no escaping the phenomenon which has spread around the world. With an average of 1.6 million UK viewers hooked with every episode its ratings never fail to disappoint. So what drives this popularity? Gripping storylines, epic sets and eye watering budgets aside there is another contributing factor to this success, their content marketing strategy. The team behind Game of Thrones are the experts in showing exactly how it’s done.

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A Client to Remember

The Azzurro-Blu phones ring nonstop throughout the day but on January 26th there was one phone call that got the whole team at Azzurro-Blu excited.

We have to admit that it doesn’t take much for the Azzurro-Blu team to get excited, especially when it comes to clients and creative work, but when Robert G. Phillips called requesting a meeting we were intrigued. He didn’t give much away over the phone and he didn’t have to. All the team needed to know was that he was an author. No time was wasted, the next day Commercial Director Cameron Sim visited him at his home. Definitely a cosier meeting place than the usual café or meeting/board room. It was there we found out a lot more about the mysterious Robert G. Phillips.

Over a hot cup of tea on a very cold and wet January day all was revealed. A local author, Robert Phillips, 84 has written 3 inspiring books. Born in India, he moved to Scotland where he worked as a Marine Engineer for many years. Later in his life he started working as an industrial engineer and later still as an applications engineer at Robert Gordon University until he retired in 1997. Upon retirement his passion for writing evolved. Each book was written for a reason, whether to educate, entertain or to simply inspire. All he wanted to do was to get his books and their messages out there. That’s where the team at Azzurro-Blu come in.

Some of the Azzurro-Blu team had never embarked on a marketing campaign for an author before so were delighted when the opportunity came along. He’s an author with a difference though, a difference that was an inspiration to the team. What makes him so unique is his disregard for profit. What Robert values is the opportunity to share his thoughts, experiences and imagination with others. All he wants is for people to read his books, his stories and learn from his personal experiences across his many years of life. With his aim in mind the team got to work developing a marketing campaign which pinpointed the best way to help share his three books. Social media proved key, as always successfully promoting the three books, “The Circlip”, a gripping true story about Robert’s experience at sea, “Smile and Deliver”, a journey on the finer points of effective speaking and “Tammy the Seagull”, an imaginative, action packed children’s book.

Robert visits the office for an update meeting a few times a month and there isn’t a meeting that we don’t look forward to. He is a truly inspirational man and not to mention a great author who brightens up the Azzurro-Blu office every time he walks through the door. The team at Azzurro-Blu are always more than happy to have him in the office and listen to his many, fascinating stories he brings with him keeping us smiling every month. He’s a client to remember.

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The Need To Adapt

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Those words were written by Eric Hoffer in 1951. But they are just as relevant now. Our local economy is in crisis. The market has changed. Two types of company will definitely make it to the other side. Businesses with vast cash reserves, and businesses that find a way to make sales.

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Its Never Impossible to Make that Sale!

I read recently that George Forman the former World Heavyweight Champion said that if he could give his children one gift it would be the ability to sell! With the ability to sell he felt they would be well equipped to succeed in life. If your future is affected by the down turn in the oil industry, then I’d suggest that there’s no better time to think about the customer, selling and what they mean to your business or your future as an individual.

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Get in touch

To find out more about the range of services on offer please get in touch and one of our team will be happy to help.

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