It’s the new year. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Was one of them to go to the gym to get fitter and lose that Christmas podge?
Well, your website is not dissimilar. Over the years that you’ve had it, it’s hopefully been updated, edited, had new content added and irrelevant content removed. But is it still contiguous?
When was the last time you went through it,
Page by page,
Link by link to make sure that everything is still working,
Word by Word to ensure all the words still send the right message,
Image by Image to make sure your pictures are fresh, relevant and up to date,
To check that the navigation doesn’t take the visitor to the wrong page – or even worse a 404 error page,
To ensure that everything loads in under 3 seconds,
Checking that your shopping cart (if you have one) still works,
That your shopping cart is easy and logical to use (make a trial process or better still ask somebody unrelated to your business to make a trial purchase)
That the whole transaction process still functions as designed
And it’s really easy to use on a small screen (mobile)?
Oh, and the SEO is still top-notch, you’re using the right keywords, your Header Tags are using relevant Key Words, your Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are the right length and not duplicated, that your images have SEO relevant file names, all images have Alt-Tags and all images are of an appropriate size. That your content has keywords featured in the top one or two paragraphs but that keywords are not overly repeated. That nothing’s been missed, no stone left unturned, and your links to your Social Media profiles still work.
It’s so easy to take these things for granted, to trust that your developer has done their job but such complacency could lead to a decline in your business because you’ll never find out until it’s too late. Nobody will tell you if they encounter a problem, they’ll just go to their search engine of choice, probably Google, and look for somebody else to service their need.
Unlike a lot of website SEO evaluations, mine will be carried out by me, not by a machine, so I’ll come back with a far better evaluation and detailed list of recommendations that you can carry out, that you can pass to your developer or you can ask me to implement. And if you book your *Website Workoutby the end of January 2023 you’ll get 100% of the cost back if you choose to let me take on your SEO.
Carry out the in-depth Website Workout yourself (but you might slip up if you are overly familiar with your site so getting a third party to do it for you is always the best option
Get in touch to talk about other options. I can help with your website, your SEO, your Social Media, Email Marketing and much more and I even offer a free consultancy session, or you can just drop me an email or just give me a call on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146.
There’s increasing talk in the media, and in advertising, of VPNs as an apparent cure to all your security woes and as a potential money saver. But what is a VPN and do you actually need one?
What is a VPN and how does it Work?
The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Virtual in that it’s not, in the strictest sense, real, your VPN only exists for the duration of your use, Private because your connection is encrypted which prevents bad actors form listening in and Network because your VPN builds a private network between your device and an endpoint. It’s often likened to building your own tunnel from you to the endpoint with the data being very secure as it travels through your own tunnel.
Do you remember in some old films when the detectives would say “we can’t track this person, they’ve bounced their call, internet connection etc, off at least 9 different servers across the world”? Well, they could have been using a VPN.
Back in the days when I was employed as a consultant, my employer used a VPN so that we could securely connect to the office network when working remotely. And that’s what a VPN does, it allows a more secure connection across the internet.
Your VPN provider has a number of endpoints that they provide, around the world and when you connect to one, your data is encrypted before it leaves your device and pops out on to the internet at one of these points-of-presence with everything in-between making it’s way through your own, encrypted, secure, tunnel.
Imagine you pop in to your local coffee shop and hop on their free wi-fi to check your emails, perhaps do a little shopping and check your bank account. All your data flows through your coffee shop’s wi-fi router (Local Network in the graphic above) and out on to the internet (Public Network). However, it’s very easy for someone with a malicious intent to set up their own connection to the cafe’s WiFi and pretend to be the free WiFi service. If you connect to this all your data goes through their system (and it could just be their laptop) which allows them to pick up your connection, analyse your traffic and steal your data. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack and is pretty common and very easy to pull off.
If you use a VPN it doesn’t matter about the man-in-the-middle because your data zips right past that, secure in it’s own encrypted, tunnel, on the way to the endpoint – which is where it gets decrypted and sent on it’s way to your chosen website.
Why Should I use a VPN?
There are a number of reasons why you might choose to use a VPN.
The first is SECURITY
As noted just now, it’s not overly difficult to intercept web traffic, some of which will contain personal data and security related info – user names, passwords, banking data etc and a VPN can overcome most of the risks associated with the interception of privacy related data, keeping you safe from identity fraud and theft.
The second is SAVING MONEY
Your VPN provider will have endpoints in a number of different countries and if you select one of those countries then the internet will think that’s where you are – because that’s where your internet connection and data look as though it’s originating.
This means that you might find subscriptions (Netflix, YouTube, Spotify etc) are less expensive in other countries, that flights and holidays may cost less if booked from somewhere other than the UK and so on.
It’ll take a little bit of research but here are a couple of examples.
Spotify Premium costs just $1.58/month in India (the cheapest) but $18.39/month in Denmark (the most expensive).
YouTube Premium is similarly priced, costing just $1.56/month in India but $15.95 in Switzerland.
Not all VPNs provide access to the least expensive countries but there are many good deals to be had, although you do need a VPN that is able to bypass Geo-Blocks, the technology that subscription providers use to catch VPN users and stop them getting the best deals.
The third is HIDING YOUR LOCATION
When conducting an SEO review I have to appear as a random, anonymous, user when researching client sites. Unfortunately, due to the way that Google works, if I just use my regular browser, Google knows it’s me – even if I choose “Incognito” mode. This means that Google presents search results based on known likes, browser and search history and a wide range of other metrics – which is pretty useless.
So, I use a Browser that rejects cookies, stores no history and has a built in VPN. This ensures that I see results that are unfiltered, for the most accurate results. The Browser that I use for this is the Epic Privacy Browser and it’s free to download and use
I also have international clients and conducting a web search in the UK will show me results biased towards the UK. Again, by setting my VPN endpoint in the country I want to research it looks as though I am connected to that country and so I get to see search results from that country.
Some UK services, BBC iPlayer for example, block you from accessing shows and films when you are outside of the UK because they don’t have the necessary Copyright licenses to broadcast shows to the rest of the world. When on holiday abroad this could limit your access to entertainment. Using a VPN will help bypass this restriction.
Many service providers on the internet use details from your internet connection to tailor services to you and target ads at you. A VPN will prevent them from attributing your browsing history to your PC/Phone although if you are logged in to Google, Facebook etc this becomes null and void.
A good VPN will also scan files as you download them, provide Ad Free results and ensure that there’s no data tracking or storing when you are searching.
So which VPN should I choose
As with all things technology related, the real answer is “it depends”. If you just want to anonymise your web browsing then browsers such as Brave (no VPN but blocks trackers and a lot of Ads) or Epic (the one with the inbuilt VPN – although it only has EndPoints in 8 countries) will be sufficient for your needs.
Probably the most well known VPN is provided by Nord and they regularly run a range of special offers. Their normal price is £94.35PA for a 2 year contract although this does enable you to use their VPN on up to 6 different devices. However, at the time of writing this is reduced to £33.65PA or just £2.49/month and you get an additional 3 months free (prices are exc. VAT)
Another leading VPN is SurfShark. Their “Unlimited VPN” package is currently just £1.74/month for the first 26 months and can be used on an unlimited number of devices
My current VPN of choice is TunnelBear but for no other reason than when I signed up I got a lot of bandwidth for very little money. It has some limitations but none that I have found impact on my use
If you have a 2TB plan (or greater) storage plan with Google then you can use their free “1” VPN on phones (Android and iOS). However, it does mean that you are trusting Google not to look at your data as it passes through their servers. You also can’t control your EndPoint so it’s no good if you want to browser from different countries
Beware of “Free” VPNs because nothing’s ever free. A free VPN may come with ads and it might also sell your data on to unidentified third parties.
Free VPNs also may limit the Bandwidth they provide which will limit the downloads and streaming you can do.
Free VPNs may also limit your Speed which also makes them useless for streaming and downloads will take quite a while longer than you are probably used to.
And finally, if you have any VPN related questions then I probably know enough to be able to answer your question or point you in the direction of someone who can.
If you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
I recently participated in a virtual networking session. There were more than 40 people attending and we were broken out in to virtual rooms to give us an opportunity to meet as many different people as possible. After going around the room making our introductions a variety of interesting conversations took place before being called back in to the virtual lobby and being put in to a different room with different people
Over all, the experience was really great, fun too. I met some interesting people, learned quite a bit and found the 90 minutes to be a great investment.
However, I was surprised by the number of people who really sounded as though they were joining from a cave, even if their backdrops showed something different, offices, kitchens, lounges, home offices and blurred back-grounds.
The poor audio quality really distracted me from their introduction and contributions. This might just be me – I do have an interest in audio quality after all. From quality music playback (Hi Fi) to sound quality at gigs, both from the audience and as a band member.
And, after all, it does seem that audio is important, the BBC, ITN, Sky News et all seem to think so too – they know that poor quality audio distracts from the message.
So why do people settle for poor quality. I suspect there are a couple of main reasons, the main one being that they don’t know what they sound like. It could be that they are not concerned what they sound like or they simply don’t know how to over come it.
Most of the problems are with laptops and people using the built-in microphone. When we talk in to it, the microphone picks up the direct sound. But it also picks up all of the echoes (reverberation – aka reverb) from the hard surfaces in the room, walls, windows, doors and hard floors. These reverberations hit the microphone fractionally after the main sound and continue to hit the microphone as echoes from different hard surfaces that are farther away. They also hit the other hard surfaces and are reflected (again) back in to the mic. Which is why people sound like they are in a cave.
But why don’t they hear it themselves? Because our brains are really clever at filtering out this reverberation and only picking up on our own voice – which is why people don’t hear what their own room sounds like.
The expensive solution is to muffle all the hard surfaces with sound absorbent panels. If you are Zooming from your lounge, your kitchen or a spare bedroom you might not want to go for “Recording Studio” chic which makes the alternative far more practical can cost effective.
You need an higher quality external microphone that you can plug in to your laptop or desktop and place closer to your mouth, either on a boom stand or desk mount.
This is where it gets challenging because there are hundreds, thousands of microphones to choose from – so where should you start.
First off, if you only want it to improve the quality of your Zoom, Teams call etc then you can look at the lower end of microphones and go for a USB device that can plug straight in to your computer.
If you are thinking about making some videos, or recording a podcast you’ll want something better. If you are still looking to only record one voice then a decent USB microphone will still suffice but if you want to record two or more people then you’ll want a microphone each – for the best quality. You can still use USB microphones but you will need a device to enable to connect both of them to your computer. Alternatively you can invest in a small, desktop, mixer – this is really territory for my forthcoming “How to Podcast” eBook but I touch on the subject below.
USB Microphone Option 1 -Tie Clip / Lavalier Microphones
As used by news broadcasters the world over. A lavalier microphone discretely clips to an item of clothing and can do a great job of improving sound quality
This Movo M1 is a great example, and it’s only £22.95 on Amazon at the time of writing. It’s genuinely “Plug and Play” so all you have to do is plug it in and select it as the microphone you want to use when making Zoom/Teams etc video calls.
With a 6m cable it doesn’t matter how far you are away from your computer, either
As well as the mic you get a clip to enable you to attach it to your tie (hence the name “tie clip microphone” but you can clip it to lapels, shirts and blouses too), and 2 foam windshields to help minimise wind (and breathing) noises.
Yes, you can buy cheaper but I wouldn’t recommend it.
USB Microphone Option 2 – Dynamic Microphone
A dynamic microphone is typically what you’ll see used on stage, by singers, at concerts. They are robust and offer great quality. A step up from an inexpensive Lavalier. There are hundreds to choose from, from well established brands – such as Shure, AKG and Audio Technica – which guarantee great quality – to a myriad of no-name Chinese brands which have no track record and which I wouldn’t trust.
It’s actually a bit of a bargain because not only does it have a USB connection but it includes a socket for headphone monitoring, and a headphone volume control. If you make the next step and start having guests and you start using a mixer and multiple mics you can also plug this in to your mixing desk using the built in, professional standard, XLR connector.
Helpfully, for desktop recording it also comes with a desktop stand and three cables. USB C to USB C (so you might be able to use it on your Android phone), USB C to USB A to connect to your computer AND an XLR cable to connect to your mixing desk,
USB Microphone Option 3 – Condenser Microphone
Condenser microphones (also called capacitor microphones) are the high quality microphones of the recording world. They can offer the best recording quality of all the microphone types so if you are really serious about recording quality then a condenser microphone is the one to go for, and yes, you can pay £thousands. But you don’t have too.
My current microphone that I have connected to my main PC, which I use for Zoom/Teams calls, and which I used for recording my first 150 or so podcasts is this Marantz Pro MPM1000U. Again, it’s a USB microphone, so it’s plug and play. At the time of writing, it’s £49.99 but I have seen it reduced to around £35.00 on many occasions. Sound quality is first rate and reliably has been superb.
It comes with the all essential USB cable but to keep the cost down, it doesn’t ship with a desktop stand so you should factor in £20 or so for one, this Neewer is £16.49 at the time of writing. And you do need a stand because if you try to hand-hold the mic every time you change the way you hold the microphone the sound will be carried across to your call.
Microphone Accessories you might find useful.
In my little Podcast recording studio I have a small mixing desk, so I can use two or more microphones, boom arms for my mics – so they can be pushed up out of the way when not in use and pop filters.
Pop filters help reduce the plosive consonants, those that are made when words start with a P, B, T, D, K and G. They all produce a puff of air. You probably won’t notice them but your microphone will and they can totally overwhelm your recordings.
I use a small mixer too. It extends the range of microphones you can use (and the number too) and can also add tone controls, adding (or removing) bass, treble and sometimes middle frequencies add sound effects, such as reverb, echo etc.
Again, there’s a myriad of mixers to choose from. In fact it’s a potentially confusing and complicated market if you are new to it. I prefer well established European and US brands for their proven track records and ability to get repaired should they break down. My current mixer is a Studiomaster, but I’d be more than happy with the Behringer you can see on the right if I were starting out.
I use my mixer with a selection of microphones, a non-USB Marantz MPM1000 condenser, my new Shure dynamic microphone, my old (and trusty) Shure SM58 – as seen on stage used by the majority of artists – and a couple of other microphones, two boom arms and two pop filters.
And on the mixer front, you won’t find one that will take USB microphones and if you choose to make a different choice, remember to look for one with USB outputs to make it easier to connect to your computer.
If you need help with your audio recording, or Podcasting, you can always get in touch. Email email@example.com, phone me on 01793 238020, call (or SMS) 07966 547146 or hunt me down on my Socials, LinkedIn and Twitter, and I’ll be only too happy to help.
You’ve had a website for years, you’ve just updated your website or you’ve just launched your website and are worried that your website is invisible and your customers won’t be able to find it. What can you do, what should you do and what must you do?
Don’t panic, this simple guide will take you through the steps you must take to ensure that Google can find your website in the online jungle, how to make your site visible in Google search and even point the way to creating a website that actually works, rather than just look good. And if all else fails, or you want to shortcut the process – just get in touch and I’ll step in and help out.
How does Google find your site?
Let’s start with Google Search – used by over 90% of people who use a search engine, and that’s around 80% of web users so that’s a lot of people. Google uses software called Robots to scour websites. They send these Robots out on the World Wide Web to find as many websites as possible. They do this by following the links between websites, the Robots look at all of the pages they can find and take all of the information back to the massive Google database of websites, Google calls this database their “Index”.
If you don’t have any links (Backlinks) to your website there is a very real danger that Google will miss your site so you need to install the free Google Analytics website performance tool and sign up to the free Google Search Console. This brings your site to the attention of Google and guarantees a visit from the Robots. However, this does not guarantee that your site will feature in the search results – it needs quality, non-spammy content for that and even this does not guarantee a place ion the top pages. You need SEO for that
How does Google rate your site?
Google wants to understand the purpose of every singe page of your website. To do this, it needs to be able to visit every page. This requires good navigation links on your site AND, if you have a large site, the use of an XML Sitemap so that Google, and all the other search engines, can find all of your pages.
Then, once your pages are in the Index it’s ready to be found. When somebody searches for the services you provide or the products you sell, Google checks its Index for all the words that have been entered in the search box. It very quickly finds all of the pages in the Google Index and applies an algorithm to those results. The algorithm is a set of mathematical tools, instructions and filters that measures every page of each website by looking at more than 200 different signs and signals and the results that most closely match the search terms appear at the top of the Search Results Pages (Page 1) and the poorer the match, the farther down the results the sites appear. And remember only about 50% of search users EVER make it to Page 2 whilst just 10% make it to P3 and beyond. Making P3 a great place to bury bad news.
How do you make your website more visible
First off, make sure your website is fast (if it’s slow people won’t stay so it doesn’t matter how great, or naff, your site is you’ve already hampered your business). Then ensure that it’s full of great relevant content with positive calls to action. Your website MUST be for your site visitors and clients and “created to help users” – that’s directly from Google. This means that each page must be user centred and designed to –
share information about a topic
share personal or social information
share pictures, videos or other forms of media
express an opinion or point of view
sell products or services
allow users to post questions for other users to answer
allow users to share files or download software
provide something of similar quality
Next up is to install the free Google Analytics tracking software that will help you understand how well your website is performing with your customers. Then authenticate with the Google Search Console, another free tool from Google that will give an insight into what Google thinks of your website.
By doing this, you bring your website to the attention of Google which means they know where to send their Robots to Spider your website and take everything back in to the Google Index.
Now it’s time to build your Google My Business(GMB) profile to help Google understand your NAP, that’s your Name, Address & Phone Number. Once you’ve completed your GMB profile you should register with a number of key web based directory websites.
In the meantime you should be adding fresh, new, relevant and search engine optimised content. That’s because people love new stuff, and so does Google – it informs Google that your website is active and your business is still trading. It also demonstrates your EAT to Google, that’s your Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. If you are in the financial sector you need to be concerned with Google’s YMYL – Your Money or Your Life.
YMYL content is content that impacts on a reader’s happiness, health, safety or financial stability which, if presented incorrectly, might have a direct, negative, impact on people’s lives
Writing something new about once a month should do it – keep your eyes open for my forthcoming post that’ll be all about writing great, search optimised, content for your website and if you need any help with your content, your SEO or anything else to do with your digital marketing, you know to do.
And not forgetting your Social Media. Every time you create new content don’t forget to share it on your Socials. That helps spread the word and the right posts, of the right content, will attract visits to your website. Google Analytics will show you which platforms are delivering the best traffic. As well as your Socials, don’t forget email and video marketing as well as podcasts.
And if you don’t have the time or need professional help, I am just a call or an email away.
Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, the process of editing your website to ensure that it meets the requirements of the search engines AND delivers on your customers’ needs and expectations.
SEO should be a key part of your marketing strategy.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is the the process that is undertaken in order to make your website search engine friendly. This makes it easy for all search engines to fully understand your business, your services and/or your products so that your website can feature in the search results when somebody is searching for the things you do, the services you provide or the goods you sell.
But it’s not quite as simple as simply being listed. I work at Search Engine Optimisation and if you do a search for that, Google comes back with nearly 23 million results. And with no more than 10 free results on a page that’s a potential of 2.3 million pages of results.
Obviously, nobody is going to go through 2.3 million pages – there’s a limit to how far people will go. In fact only about 1 in 2 (50%) of us will ever make it from Page 1 to Page 2 and only around 10% (1 in 10) will go to Page 3 and beyond
And that’s why, when people talk about SEO they talk about trying to get your business on to the first page of the results, because that’s where all the eyes are.
But it’s not quite that simple, either. Although a Page 1 result is great, the higher UP the results you are the better it gets. In fact, over 50% of the clicks on Page happen take place on the TOP 2 results and over 75% take place across the TOP 3 results with just 3% of clicks happening for the result at the bottom of the page
And this is why, when people try to pitch SEO to you, they focus on getting your site on the First Page, and as high up the First Page as possible.
But there are NO GUARANTEES. The position you reach (which will change over time simply down to the way the search engines work) is both a function of your Search Engine Optimisers knowledge, diligence and ability AND how well your competitor’s sites have been optimised. You are not in a battle for perfect optimisation (hint, it probably doesn’t exist) but simply to be better than your competitors.
Even more importantly, you should NEVER lose sight of the simple fact that the search engines are simply a means to an end. They are one of the key ways that customers (both potential and existing) find your business business website BUT it’s what the visitors do whilst they are on your site that is the most important thing. If everybody that arrived from the search engines simply leaves straightaway then you have gained nothing, no matter how good your Search Engine Optimisation is.
Which is why your focus really should be on producing a website that meets the needs of your visitors.
Is it fast to load (under 3 seconds)
Test your website here
Does it work on a small screen
Is it easy to navigate
Is it easy to read
Does it talk about benefits rather than features
Does it feature clear Calls To Action
Does it tell the visitors what YOU want them to do?
Hit those buttons and you are well on your way to having a website that visitors will like and will actually do what you want them to do. And, finally, if you are converting more than about 1-2% (1 or 2 in every 100) visitors then your website is doing really well.
And that’s why you need Analytics – if you don’t know how well your website is performing then you haven’t even crossed the start line. But that’s a conversation for another day.
And finally, the pitch.
If you need help with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
I started providing SEO services in 2001 and things were a lot simpler than they are now. Back then it was all about keywords. Keywords in the Keyword Meta Tag, keywords in the Meta Title and Meta Description and Keywords liberally scattered throughout the content.
Then people came up with ways to “game” the system, to effectively cheat the search engines into giving them a better result than they were probably due. If you’d like to learn about one of these Black Hat techniques you should read my post on Keyword Stuffing.
Since those early cowboy days of SEO, many things have changed. The profession has cleaned up its game (although Black Hat SEO still exists if you want to cheat the system and eventually get kicked out of the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs) and the search engines regularly update their algorithms – the software that decided where a website deserves to sit in the Results pages.
As things have changed, the number of SEO myths has grown and these are the ones that I most frequently encounter
SEO Myth 1 – It’s no longer about keywords
This has been around for a while now. Not only does Google examine more than 200 “signals” when ranking websites it frequently tweaks theses “signals” to ensure that you and I get the most relevant results for our searches. Every time something changes, a crowd of people claim that “Keywords are dead” or “SEO is dead”. Well, I’m here to tell you keywords are NOT dead and neither is SEO.
In fact, keywords are the fundamental rock on which all SEO is based. There’s no magic or mystery about them, they are simply the words you and I enter into our web browser when searching for something and so it’s critical that these words and phrases are embedded in your website, in the places the search engines look. This enables Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, etc to match searches to relevant websites
SEO Myth 2 – it’s ALL about keyword density
If you carry out a web search for “Keyword Density” you’ll find a number of sites telling you that the ideal keyword density is between 4 and 5%. This means that for every 100 words on your web pages, 4-5 of them should be keywords.
Please don’t pay ANY attention to this. If you do, you’ll fall foul of one of the cardinal rules of web development, that your website is for the visitors to your site and search engines are simply a tool to deliver those clients and prospects to your site.
If you focus on keyword density, and other SEO focused metrics, you’ll have switched content focus from creating great content for site visitors to creating content for the search engines and your content will suffer. I have worked with many sites that have fallen down this particular rabbit hole. Their site has ranked really well in the search results, the search results have delivered many visits but those visitors have left the site very quickly (Bounced in Google Analytics terms) because the content wasn’t focused on their needs.
SEO Myth 3 – it’s all about buying backlinks
Back-links, hyperlinks published on third party websites that bring people to your website are the foundations on which Google was built. Originally called “Back Rub”, Google originally ONLY ranked sites based on the volume of backlinks. The thinking was pretty simple. If I link from my site to yours then I must believe that something on your site will be of interest/value to visitors to my site and, like any good democracy, the more votes (backlinks) your website has, the more popular and better it must be.
When Google was launched, backlinks remained a fundamental way that it ranked websites (and it remains so today). As a consequence, a whole industry built up around providing backlinks, including “Link Farms”. Web pages that just looked like phone directories, with each page simply featuring hundreds of links to websites. In the early days, this was quite successful and you could buy thousands of links for a few hundred dollars.
That was until Google realised that quality was far more important than quantity and started analysing where the backlinks originated. From then on, purchased backlinks became a major no-no. Backlinks MUST be relevant, so a link from your local butchers to a website providing marketing services is not relevant, for example.
For the butcher’s example above, it’s not likely to attract a direct penalty but will probably just be ignored by Google so the effort expended on acquiring that link will have been wasted.
If you take it to the next level and start purchasing links, Google WILL find out and your website will be penalised by being pushed DOWN in the results pages. This could be critical, with only 50% of search engine users ever going beyond the first page of results and just 10% making it to page 3 and beyond, a demotion to page 5 is almost as bad as being deleted.
Myth 4 – posting the same content on many different sites will boost your ranking
“Back in the day” it was common for a blog article to be posted on a number of websites that claimed to be regularly visited by journalists, and so promised a lot of “eyes on” fresh articles. The publisher’s dream was that they’d be contacted by journalists for more information. The goal being to be mentioned in an article that gets published by the national, mainstream, media amplifying the visibility of the business. The reality was than no journalists visited these sites and the actual goal was to simply build backlinks.
As Google improved its technology it recognised these for what they were, backlink building opportunities, and woe betide your website if you had had the temerity to pay to have your post published.
From here, another myth developed, that multiple placements of identical content will be penalised. Myth 14 explains this one in more details
SEO Myth 5 – You have to write at least 1,200 words on every page for optimum SEO
If you read enough posts about SEO you will ultimately come across one that talks about the number of words contained on pages that come up in Position 1 on Page 1 of Google’s search results pages. (The holy grail of SEO if you like).
Typically they’ll tell you that top pages contain 1,200, 1,600, or even 2,000 words. That’s a LOT of writing, but don’t despair. You don’t have to write so many, or you can write many more. The reality is that there is no magic “ideal” word count that will get you on the first page of the search results. It’s much more about relevance and quality.
Look at it this way. If I tell you, or you read, that your page has to contain 1,200 words, you’re going to write 1,200 words no matter what. And if you only need 600 then your page is going to be so full of padding and filler that even were your page to feature highly in the search results and attract loads of visits, no one is going to read it.
And at the other end of the scale, if you actually need 3,000 words to get your message across and you’ve heard that the ideal page is 1,200 you’re going to edit the heck out of your content and you’ll probably remove most of the value. So, again, even if your page features highly in the results and you get loads of visits, most won’t stay because the content doesn’t make a great read.
What’s the solution? The simple solution is to write as many (or as few) words as you need to communicate your message and sell your idea. My only caveat, if you have to write a lot of words you either need to be a very good and persuasive writer OR hire a copywriter to do the work for you.
SEO Myth 6 – SEO is dead
At least once a year someone pontificates that “SEO is dead” and I worry about my future. Then I relax and realise that SEO has quite a few years to go yet. it’s a long way from being an Ex-SEO, left this mortal coil, kicking up the daisies and every other quote from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.
Work is required, and will always be required, to ensure that your website is as #SEOFriendly as possible so that it appears as high in the search listings as possible and drives sufficient traffic to your website
SEO Myth 7 – It’s all about Social Media these days
It’s really easy to believe, that with over 2.3Bn active users, Facebook has removed the need for a website and so SEO is no longer required.
If you follow this path, you’ll be missing out. In the UK about 32m people use Facebook. With about 90% of the UK population using the internet, ( that’s about 58.5m people) you’ll be missing 26.5m people.
And that’s just the people who don’t use Facebook Lots of Facebook users (about 70%) still turn to search engines when looking for the things they want or need. So, it’s not all about Social Media, if you just do Social, then you are missing a huge audience.
SEO Myth 8 – Pictures don’t do anything to help your SEO
Although the search engines are slowly rolling out Artificial Intelligence to help then understand the content of a picture, your images contribute greatly to the optimisation of a web page.
However, you need to optimise your pictures properly. The file size has to be small enough so as not to slow your pages down, need to have SEO optimised image names, AND have optimised Alt Tags. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my free e-Guide to image optimisation.
SEO Myth 9 – SEO is a secret magic masked by smoke and mirrors
When SEO was growing in awareness, a lot of people delivering the service hid their actions behind smoke and mirrors, making it appear as if it was something mystical, something that could only be implemented by members of some deeply secret inner circle.
I think the main reason for this was to mask their techniques (some of which may have been gaming the system for quick results but which would lead to penalties being applied) AND so that these cowboys could charge more for their services.
The reality is that EVERYTHING you need to know is “out there” on the internet if you know where to look and who to trust. But do you want to spend time learning about SEO, sorting the wheat from the chaff and then learning how to implement it on your website AND keep it up to date or would you rather bring in someone who knows what they are doing, leaving you to do what you’re good at? Running your business, converting leads into sales, and making a profit?
SEO Myth 10 – It’s not a problem if your website is slow to load
It’s a HUGE problem if your website is slow to load. 3 seconds is the goal – why?
The internet has robbed people of their attention span. Most people simply won’t wait any more than 3 seconds for a web page to open. If it’s slow, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
And it’s worse than that. You have about 2/10s of a second for people to “Get” what your site offers and if they don’t “get” it almost straight away, they will head off elsewhere.
Because of this, Google will push slow sites down the results pages. After all, thee’s no point sending people to a website if all they are going to do is come back to their search results to go somewhere else.
A slow website is one of the reasons behind a high Bounce Rate in Google Analytics
SEO Myth 11 – You Must have perfect SEO to rank on Page 1
With Google examining more than 200 “signals” to determine where your site comes up in the search results pages, and the majority of those being known ONLY by Google thee is no way that your SEO can ever be perfect.
And you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be better than your competitors. That’s why I’ll look at your competitors if I am working on your SEO to see what can be done to beat them.
And if you strive for perfection, you might never get anything completed. remember, perfection is the enemy of good.
SEO Myth 12 – Running a Google Ads campaign will boost your SEO
Google Ads and Google Search are two totally separate parts of Google and there is NO interlinking at all so running a large (or small) Google Ads campaign is NOT going to improve your SEO.
It will, however, give you a quick opportunity to get your business to the top if the first page of search results (In the Ads section) if you need quick traffic to your website
SEO Myth 13 – SEO is a one-time thing
No, no, and thrice no. SEO is constantly changing and you (or your search optimiser) should constantly be looking for ways to improve your SEO. After all, if you started out and were better than your competitors (See Myth 11) and they improve their SEO, they will outrank you so you need to stay on top of things.
SEO Myth 14 – Google will penalise your site for duplicate content
Myth 4 looked at the posting of content on a variety of websites with the aim of building backlinks to your website.
From this came conversations that if Google caught you doing this then they would penalise your website. This simply isn’t true. However, a very real danger of having multiple copies of the same thing is that it will dilute your search results because Google won’t know which is the most important page.
So, examine your content, and if you have more than one copy of the same thing then you need to let Google know which is the most important and the Canonical tag is the way to do this.
A canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs
Thanks for reading and remember, if you have any problems with your SEO please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be only too happy to answer any questions that you might have
As I write this Christmas is just around the corner. Now is an ideal time to take a step back from working In your business (the day to day things that you do) and do a bit of work ON your business (business structure, systems, processes, marketing etc.). That makes it an ideal time for some top tips for your SEO for 2022.
Your website should be somewhere towards the top of your marketing list of things to do. Is it up to date, does it properly reflect your business, has it been designed with your customers in mind and, for the purpose of this post, giving it an SEO makeover, an SEO refresh or just an SEO tweak. This could pay dividends in the new year, making your site easier to find. After all, if it’s easier to find, then more people will come to visit, take a look around, get in touch, make an enquiry, book something or buy something, if you have something to sell online.
Here are the top things that YOU can do to improve the Search Engine Optimisation of YOUR website.
1/ Monitor and Measure Performance
Following the trusted mantra of “If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you’ve got there” you MUST be monitoring the performance of your website. If you aren’t, then how DO you know whether the investment of time (and possibly money) is actually paying off.
You could be doing something that’s working but what’s worse is you might be doing something that is harming your website. Google Analytics is free to use and easy to get going and goes a long way to providing the information that will help you answer these essential questions.
Set it up on your website, understand what the data is telling you and check in regularly to monitor performance.
I know that Analytics isn’t the only performance monitoring tool out there, and if you are using something else – well done. At least you are using something.
2/ Performance Monitoring Pt 2
Once you have Analytics up and running, head over to the Google Search Console. This is another free tool provided by Google. Analytics looks at how visitors found your website and tells you what they did whilst on their visit. The Search Console tells you about HOW they found your site in Google Search (the actual words and phrases typed in to Google Search) and provides recommendations to improve your website. Again, sign up, visit and learn about the data provided. Turn it in to useful information that you can feedback in to your website design and SEO.
3/ Website Structure
Get the structure of your website in to tip top shape – even if it means a bit of work.
Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Are you using language that’s easy to understand? Does each product or service that you provide have its own, unique, page and are similar products/services grouped together in their respective “families”.
All of this makes your site easier to use AND helps Google understand what it is that you provide
4/ Keyword Research
Do your keyword research. Understand the words and phrases that your customers are using when they are looking for your website. The Google Search Console is a treasure trove of information but tools such as UberSuggest will also help.
Each page on your website MUST be uniquely optimised for the product/service that’s featured on the page and you should filter out the 3-4 top keywords for each page. Allocate no more than 3-4 key words per page. These are the words/phrases that you will be optimising the pages for
5/ Where do the Keywords Go
Now that you know which key words/phrases are going on each page (you might find a Spreadsheet is a great way to mage the lists) then you need to ensure that these keywords are “woven” in to the page in the places the search engines check out. If the terminology confuses you, then check out my SEO Glossary of Terms
~ Meta Title & Meta Description tags ~Header Tags (H1, H2 etc) ~ Web Page URLS https://mywebsite.co.uk/service-type ~ Image and File Names ~ Alternative Attributes ~ File Download Names ~ Main page content, ideally in the first 50 – 100 words ~ Selected text in bold
6/ Identify Links TO your website
Use the Google Search Console to identify third-party websites which Link to yours (backlinks). Conduct a backlink audit by checking every single one and make sure that you are happy with the quality of the originating site AND the relevance. If you are a decorator, then a link from the local butchers has no relevance and it may be worth breaking the link. Check for unsavoury content and poor quality sites too – sites where there’s more adverts than proper content for example. Google will penalise you for this.
7/ Build Backlinks TO your website
One of the key ways that Google judges the value of your website (and the higher the value the higher in the results your site will appear) is by the number of links that point towards your website from third party websites so you need to build links to your website. Not just any old link though. They MUST come from trusted, high quality sites that are relevant to your business. So, no links from click baity sites, no links from pages that are 70% Ads and 30% content, no links from sites with poor quality (or scraped/copied) content and no links from sites that have absolutely no relevance to your business.
It’s NOT easy but hard work will pay off
8/ Fresh Content.
Ensure that you regularly add NEW content to your website. It’s not a case of subtly rewriting content but it has to be fresh and new.
Why? There are loads of reasons.
a/ It keeps Google happy. b/ It gives a reason for people to come back to your website. c/ It gives people a reason to LINK to your site d/ It provides you with content that you can use elsewhere – such as email newsletters, Social Media, podcasts, videos etc.
Imagine that you didn’t add anything new to your site – how would Google know you are still in business and why, therefore, should Google give you a good ranking on the Search Results Pages (SERPs)?
Your blog/news page is a great way to do this. You can even write specific content with SEO in mind but don’t over optimise. if you do you’ll be creating content that people won’t read – defeating the purpose of your website
9/ Speed Speed Speed
Site Speed, so important I mentioned it three times.
Your website MUST be fast. If pages take more than 3 seconds to open your visitors will leach away.
We have NO patience when it comes to the internet, pages must open fast, both on desktop/laptops AND on phones. And if people don’t like slow pages and leave almost straight away why should Google promote sites that it knows people leave almost straight away?
And Google doesn’t. Slow sites get pushed down Google’s search results pages, exactly the opposite of what you need.
10/ Monitor Results
Monitor your results. Use Google Analytics, the Google Search Console AND carry out manual searches to see where your site come up. Keep a record (a spreadsheet’s one good way to do this) and keep working on your SEO
11/ Have patience
SEO doesn’t have an impact straight away. It can takes weeks, frequently months to have an impact so don’t panic. SEO is a Marathon not a Sprint. And, if you’ve not seen a change in a couple of weeks DON’T assume that your SEO hasn’t worked. Keep at it.
Keep measuring, look at visitor sources in Google Analytics to see whether the visitors come from. Is the percentage of traffic from Google and the other search engines on the increase?
And remember, SEO is NEVER finished. You can always tweak, review and continue to make improvements
12/ Mobile Phones
Most websites have been getting more than 50% of their traffic from mobile phones and tablets for years now. I would hope that your website is Mobile Friendly – and if it’s not, then it needs to be.
Google looks at the mobile version of your site FIRST.
Don’t take it on on trust that your site is mobile friendly, make sure that it is fast to load and easy to read.
Go to it on your phone, how does it look? Is it easy to read? Does it convey the right messages and is it easy to navigate? Can you even find the navigation?
If you need help with your SEO then all you have to do is get in touch. I’ve been working on SEO since 2001, so that’s more than 20 years, and have a good feel for what needs to be done. Not only that, but I talk in English and don’t use jargon. This means that I’ll be easy to understand when we have conversations and I won’t baffle you with bullshit. I’ll tell it as it is and if I don’t think I can help, I’ll tell you why.
Domain names, essential for your web presence. Ideally they should look good, sound good and properly represent your business. But not everybody gets it right.
I last wrote about Domain Name Nightmares in 2014, looking at how easy it was to make an absolute pigs ear of your online presence if you weren’t careful. How difficult can it be, after all, all you have to do is think of a name, just think of something and Bob’s your dad’s brother.
But it’s not quite that simple. If you don’t pay attention to how your domain name will be shared then there’s a whole pit of vipers waiting for you. At the bare minimum you need to see how your chosen name looks in print AND listen to how it sounds when being shared verbally. Why? Well, way before 2014 I was sharing some absolute howlers with delegates to my SEO workshops, domains that were both funny and cringeworthy at the same time, and things haven’t really moved on much.
Some of the examples of Domain Name Nightmares back then were real and some were spoofs. How about TherapistFinder, a directory site for therapists in California. Once they understood how easily it could be misconstrued they changed it to Therapist-Finder.com after a couple of years.
Then there was Powergenitalia.com (later proved to be a spoof site) and Pen Island, a site (apparently) selling promotional pens with the unfortunate domain name of penisland.net. Easily solved with a hyphen, Pen-Island.net or simple capitalisation, PenIsland, when representing the domain in print.
And another, there’s the website for finding theatrical agents. Imagine, you want to see who represents your favourite star, or you are looking to break in to the industry. You might turn to a site called Who Represents. However, if you only saw the web address, you might think they were offering something different, a more “adult” service if you like. whorepresents.com
There are many more but I’m going to finish with speedofart.com – a site for a successful video director that would have benefitted from hyphens for visual clarity speed-of-art.com. Now, it looks much clearer in print but suffers, conversationally, when networking for example. “My website, yes, it’s at speed hyphen of hyphen art dot com. Yes, that’s hyphen as in dash, not an underscore“.
I imagine that all of these sites, excluding the spoof ones, came about either because someone simply took a pre-existing business name and went for the option that they felt made most sense, without giving it due consideration or picked something that either sounded great OR looked great in print but did not consider both options.
The problem has never really gone away, I was reminded of it a couple of years ago when I was listening to a commercial radio station and heard an advert for a web based service. The were (and still are) a Cloud based company. The brand was promoted, the benefits proclaimed and, right at the end, there was the pitch which involved the the company’s domain name. It was spoken and then spelled out – just to make sure people reached the right website.
It was for the business software vendor Xero (pronounced Zero.com) so the ad ended with “visit ZERO.com, that’s X E R O dot com”. Not only does the listener have to remember the brand but they have to remember that its not spelled the way it sounds.
Recently I’ve been hearing ads for a website that makes it easier for businesses to find Council, NHS and Government contracts. The web address is opportuni.com, a combination of letters that looks quite good in print but fails conversationally. We are used to the word Opportunity but Opportuni just doesn’t sound right, so, again, at the end of the ad the domain name has to be spelled out in the hope that people will either remember it or write it down.
And there’s more. Finance site Cufflink, well that’s what it sounds like during the ad, it’s only when they get to the end that they say “Cufflink, that’s KUFLINK.com. So, again. if you are interested, not only do you have to remember a word that is unfamiliar to many but you have to remember the unconventional spelling, not only has the C been replaced by a K but there’s only one F.
And I’m not even going to make much of Gollgi, Click, sorry Qlik or Clear, sorry Klear and I’m sure there are loads of others that I’ve not heard of
So, please, when choosing a name for your new business, or when planning on launching a new brand, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give due consideration to your web address. Think about how it looks in print and how easy is it to share, in a memorable way, with people who are unfamiliar with what you do. Remember, there’s a danger in trying to be too KlevR.
And if you need help with web addresses or with anything else to do with your internet activity please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email email@example.com or just search Chief SEO Officer
For years and years the Americans have been very clever with phone numbers, using words to make them memorable, 1-800-468 3647* is quite tough to remember, but using the letters on a phone pad it instantly becomes 1-800 Hot Dogs, which is far more memorable. I also reckon that it made for quite a fight between businesses and telephone companies for the best numbers. The best we seemed to manage in the UK was the fight for “special” numbers – such as 0800 123123
And then came the mobile phone explosion, and the numbers you used were the ones handed out by your mobile phone company, there was no choice. Well, there was, but you had to hunt it down and “special” mobile phone numbers were expensive, because the providers knew the value.
For a long time, companies would display both landline and mobile numbers – and quite a few still do. However, for the last 5 years (maybe more) I have noticed that a lot of companies only use their mobile number. This is possibly sole traders and other businesses who work from home, or a home office. It enables them to easily keep business telephony separate from private. I’ve worked with many people who have 2 mobile phones, 1 for business and the other for personal calls.
I’ve noticed that more and more sign written vans only have a mobile number on them, and in my opinion, this is a missed opportunity. And there are still people who won’t trust a company that only uses a mobile number simply because it used to shout “rogue trader” or similar, a company lacking any form of physical base.
Why should a mobile only number be a missed opportunity?
Simply put, a mobile phone is harder to remember than a geographic number. Mainly because we are familiar with geographic numbers, the one for our region for example. We might also be familiar with surrounding regional numbers and those from the major cities too, 020 for London and 0117 for Bristol for example). This familiarity makes a landline number easier to remember because all you have to do is remember the region and a 6 or 7 digit number (Swindon 123456 for example).
And this is the next benefit. If I see a tradespersons’ sign written van and it has a landline and mobile number, I’ll instantly know whether they are local to me, or “just visiting” and I’ll be far more likely to contact a local trade than one based elsewhere.
But landlines have their own issues too. If you change phone providers, move from one exchange region to another or move from one office to another you may not be able to “take” your landline number with you. This means you’ll have to update websites, your Socials, letter heads, compliment slips, business cards etc. Which is a very good reason for just using a mobile number.
Is there a better way to use phone numbers?
Get an IP (Internet Protocol) phone number. An IP number is a virtual phone number. It’s not associated with any telephone exchange but is based in the Internet. You can have a physical desk phone (but you need one that’s IP Phone capable, not a cheap £10 phone from Amazon). You can use your PC/Laptop/tablet instead. Simply set up an IP Phone App and configure it correctly, have a headset and microphone (Bluetooth is great) and your “good to go”. You can even take IP calls on your mobile phone, yes really. I’ve used a Sipgate number for more than 10 years now. 01793 238020. It’s moved with me from an office, to working from home and then when I got a different office it “came” with me too. I could have gone with Vonage, who offer a similar service. If you are a larger business, you might need something more sophisticated, and there are plenty to choose from and now the Video Conference provider, Zoom, has launched a very competitively priced IP Phone service too. Read about IP telephony on the Money Supermarket website.
And, best of all, when you move location you don’t have to do anything at all. Your phone number comes with you, wherever you choose to go. All you need is an internet connection.
You could even get an IP phone number for the next town/city that you want to expand in to, giving you a virtual presence there and making it even easier for potential clients to contact you.
If you need help with your telephony then I probably know enough to be able to point you in the right direction and if you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
*(1-800 being the US equivalent of a free phone number, known in the States as a Toll Free Number)
I’ve been using Google Analytics for many years, probably since it was introduced by Google and when I’m asked to evaluate a website I always ask for access to Analytics, AKA GA, (other analytics packages are available) so that I can get a feel for how the site is performing. After all, if it’s performing well then there’s probably little to gain from tweaking the website but if it’s not performing then the website needs to be fixed BEFORE any more marketing takes place. If not, the fresh marketing effort is simply wasted. If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got.
And I like to take a very quick “snapshot” to see whether I need to take a deeper dive in to website performance. To do this I look at 3 key metrics, over a period of 6 months. This gives me a very quick “feel” for how well (or not) a site is performing, and those three metrics are
This is possibly the most useful single metric that tells me a great deal about how well your website is working, at a glance. And yet it’s so simple. All it records is the number of site visitors who leave the site from the page they landed on, almost immediately, and without doing anything. And “anything” is clicking to visit another page, clicking to watch a video or simply spending more than about 10 seconds on the page.
Average Pages Per Visit
This is simply the average number of pages the typical visitor takes a look at. To get the most out of this it’s vital to understand what the goal of a given website is, and the path through the website to get there. A 2 page site can only ever have a maximum of 2 pages per visit but a multipage site a visit should comprise of several pages per visit although there is no right or wrong figure. It depends on the size and goal of the website but the more pages per visit the more that visitors are engaging with the site.
Average Visit Duration
This is the length of time that the typical visitor spends on the site. Like Average Page Views, it will depend on the size (and goal) of the website, but typically the longer the average visit length the more engaged visitors are likely to be.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Bounce Rates
But what is a good, bad and really ugly Bounce Rate? In my experience, it looks a lot like this –
0%-20% – exceptional. This shows that visitors are really well engaged
21%-45% – average. A lot of the sites I look at fall within this range
46% – 60% – feeling a little nervous and think about understanding why it’s this high
+61% – investigation required. Remember, this means that pretty much 2/3rds of visitors are leaving without doing anything at all. If you decide to invest in new marketing without making any changes then this will be the outcome of new marketing too. Remember “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. That’s a cliche I know, but it’s only a cliche because it’s true.
Bounce rate is driven by many things but some of the key ones are
Page is too slow to load, 3 seconds or faster MUST be your goal
Page just looks unattractive
Page fails to meet expectations set by marketing messages
Page navigation is either broken or simply not obvious
As you can infer, the Bounce Rate gives an almost instant view of a website’s health – but Google is killing it off.
Google Analytics moves from GA3 to GA4
Some of you will already be on Google Analytics 4 (GA4), especially if you have only just set up Analytics on a new website so you may not know what you’ve lost. Some of you will have been moved across by Google, some will have been contacted by Google “offering” the choice to migrate to GA 4 and a lot of you may not have heard anything, yet.
There are many changes in both data and presentation, but for me the greatest loss of the switch from GA3 to GA4 is the switch from Bounce Rate to Engagement Rate.
Rather than simply measuring what a site visitor does as soon as they land on a page, Google have broadened their measurement and are now measuring Engagement, and to qualify as an “Engagement” a user must do at least one of the following.
Be actively engaged with the website (or App) by having it in the foreground for at least 10 seconds
Trigger an “Event” – perhaps clicking to watch a video, clicking to subscribe to a newsletter or by carrying out anything else that you might have tagged as a “Conversion Event”
Carry out at least 2 Page Views
As a consequence, Engagement is not simply the inverse of a Bounce Rate. This is simply because the criteria to count as “Engaged” is broader than that for a Bounce
Only time will tell whether this is a “good thing” or a “bad thing”. My brain tells me it’s a better (and more sensible) measure of visitor activity but my heart is bidding a sad farewell to the Bounce Rate.
If you need help understanding what Google Analytics is telling you about your website, whether that’s GA3 or GA4 then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call me on 01793 238020, email email@example.com or just search Chief SEO Officer
*Although GA is free to use for most SMEs, very busy websites will have to pay but the real cost is data. When you add Google Analytics to your website, Google gets access to an absolute firehose of data about the way people interact with your website – and every other website that GA is installed on. This data is used to inform SEO, not impact but inform. For example, if somebody finds a website in Google Search and clicks to visit it but returns to Google Search almost instantly, Google might take interest. If loads of people click through to the site and leave straight away Google will take a lot of interest. These visitors might have found, for example, that the site was slow to load. If lots of sites that have a high Bounce Rate were also slow to load then Google could infer that web users didn’t like slow websites. If that turns out to be true (after more research) then Google could decide not to promote slow websites on Page 1 of the Google search results and if you launch a new website that’s slow, then when you do your SEO you’ll already be trying to push water up a hill.
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