As the Mobile-First Index by Google looms ever closer, we have some tips to make sure that your site is responsive to the forthcoming changes. Currently on 40% of the top 100,000 websites are responsive and a huge 91% of websites that redirect to mobile are not using Google’s recommendation of HTTP Header. Here is a checklist of the things that you can do to make sure your website is optimised for Mobile-First:
As the Mobile First Index essentially makes your mobile site more important than your desktop site, it is essential to have a responsive design that allows one site to flex between devices. Responsive or dynamic-serving sites – where the content and markups are the same across desktop and mobile versions – should see you through the changes with relatively few issues. An unresponsive site, something with a static HTML structure, will come across many problems when Mobile-First comes into action.
If you are not planning to synchronise your mobile and desktop sites, then it is important that they feature exactly the same content – and if there is a difference then it is advised to always favour the mobile site. Making your mobile site the primary site will ensure that Google Mobile-First will work in your favour, so update the mobile site with fresh content ahead of refreshing your desktop site.
If you have a dynamic website run a web crawl and analytics crawl – the web crawl will compare the architecture, linking structure and crawlability of your desktop and mobile sites. The analytics crawl will check if you have mobile equivalents for all of your important desktop pages.
Page speed is becoming an ever more important factor – under Mobile-first a speedy mobile page is given greater preference. Google preloads AMP pages, images and scripts which makes them much faster, and pre-loading content into CSS files will also increase the speed of your site. Make sure to invest in making your site as fast and efficient as possible before Mobile-first launches.
Lastly, look into Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) as these effectively provide an experience that is similar to an app for your mobile site. PWAs work on or offline, and lose many of the inherent limitations of traditional websites. Investing in PWAs is a forward-thinking way to improve your website in the face of Mobile-first searches.
Google is the unchallenged giant of search, with over 30 billion searches per month. Google’s policy states that it provides a free and open web that provides high quality and authoritative search results, but they are coming under greater scrutiny as users are detecting various biases in their search results.
Should biases in Google’s search results be confirmed, there would surely be a huge media backlash, which would greatly decrease their customer confidence. Digitalexaminer.com ran a survey that focused on the current level of trust that people have in Google’s ability to deliver accurate and unbiased information.
The overall trust in Google still remains high, with 72.3% of respondents reporting that they trust the accuracy of Google search results. 65.3% of respondents said that they would expect more relevant search results from Google if they were to allow Google to use their search history to generate their results – which, interestingly, is a method that Google has had in place in a variety of ways since 2005. Continuing on the theme of the public’s misunderstanding of what Google does, and how they operate, over 63% of respondents said they do not know how Google makes money from search.
In the survey 52% of respondents stated that they believe that Google’s search results are biased. The 2016 US election may be responsible for a large proportion of this mistrust, as there was a highly publicised claim that Google was selectively eliminating negative autocomplete suggestions about Hillary Clinton. Google of course denied this, claiming that, “the autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging” however, the distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein responded by saying that, “the way their statement is worded is that they eliminate all negatives for everybody, and that is positively not true.”
Suggestions that Google has a left-wing bias finds its counter in the accusations of a right-wing bias. Google received much attention around the topic of ‘fake news’ that surrounded the 2016 US election – being accused of spreading false information with a right-wing bias. Politics aside, people are beginning to question the processes behind the search results. When offensive autocomplete suggestions occur, Google has quietly made tweaks in order to remedy the situation. Google’s lack of transparency into their process has made many, including Epstein, question the human element of a process that Google has always claimed to be entirely automated.
The debate over Google’s potential biases will doubtless rage on, however Swedish author and journalist Andreas Ekstrom has a levelling explanation – suggesting that unbiased search results are a philosophical impossibility. “Behind every algorithm is always a person, a person with a set of personal beliefs that no code can ever completely eradicate” says Ekstrom, which may bring about a more forgiving response to the ever-growing attention around Google.
Research by Sodexo Rewards and Benefits Services has shown that 39% of consumers prefer targeted marketing despite concerns over data privacy. The relevant content that targeted marketing provides, such as personalised offers and savings based on previous shopping behaviours, is generally liked by consumers.
When questioned on the data privacy aspect of targeted marketing between 58% of over 55s didn’t feel that it was invasive for a brand to use personal data to market to them – which was mirrored in the 67% of 18-44 year olds that agreed. Targeted marketing was most popular for 25-34 year olds, with 29% reporting that they like only seeing products that are relevant to them.
There was a preference for targeted marketing via email (44%) postal marketing came second (21%) and in third place was social media (15%). Postal marketing came in second position even for the 25-34 year old range, which surprised many, and showed the value of traditional printed media.
First impressions count, so a well-crafted landing page for your eCommerce store is a worthwhile investment. Leaving a great initial impression will increase your customer satisfaction and will make the buying process more memorable. If you have been unhappy with your conversion rates, bad user experience is most likely to be one of the major factors behind this lack of success.
A beautiful and efficient landing page does wonders in building trust, so make sure that yours is doing so. There are two types of landing page – the click-through and the lead-generation. Click-through landing pages are most widely used, their goal is to persuade users to click in specific areas to visit specific pages – ‘shop now’ and ‘add to cart’ for example. Lead-generation landing pages are designed to capture an email address or other data, so they are most often used with lead magnets.
Different landing pages are useful in different situations in eCommerce, for example rather than sending people your category page to see a new or discounted range, you can create a landing page that shows off this range that you wish to promote. You will find more success with a landing page as you are directing people’s attention to the exact thing that you want them to see.
If you are trying to increase your amount of email subscribers it is advised to take your customers to a landing page that encourages this behavior. A landing page that shows previous email newsletters and that explains what to expect should they sign up, is likely see greater numbers of subscribers. Competitions and discount codes are other examples of content that is perfectly suited to a custom landing page.
A good landing page should be convincing, have user-focused design, clear call-to-actions, build trust and be concise. A landing page can do wonders, but remember that users will visit each area of your site after the landing page, so each section of your site should carry through the above rules for a positive overall user experience.
Creating a sense of urgency can be a very effective tool, if used correctly and sparingly. An element of being time-based, such as a countdown until the end of an offer may increase your customer’s awareness of your offers as well as improving sales.
It is also advised when creating the best landing page for your site and for each specific purpose to perform A/B tests. A/B test individual elements of your design one at a time, and leave each change for a week. At the end of the week you will be able to determine which option converted more, and through this process you will be able to hone the perfect landing page.
The landing page can greatly increase your eCommerce design and store’s overall success, so it is a worthwhile investment to spend time on elements that will decrease your churn rate and, hopefully, increase your conversion rate.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has great benefits for eCommerce businesses. Harnessing the power of SEO will be one of the greatest investments for your business, as SEO brings benefits such as new customers and increased sales without having to pay for advertising.
SEO brings in organic traffic, which is technically free, however this is a slight misunderstanding. Although there is no direct payment for the type of organic traffic that results from SEO, there is a great investment of time and money into other more general areas such as your site, brand and content. Unlike pay-per-click advertising it is much harder to gauge the return-on-investment of your efforts for improved SEO, however this should not put you off.
Although there is no rule book for improved SEO, there are guidelines that will ensure that you are headed in the right direction. Google provides the best answer to people’s questions, and they prioritise happy users, quick results and user-friendly websites. As such, Single Grain recommend that you improve on these areas in order to improve your SEO, and therefore your success.
Keywords are an essential element of SEO, and in order to understand what your keywords are you must first understand what it is that your business offers. The end goal is to rank on the first page of Google search results, so you must complete the following sentence, “I want to rank on the first page of Google for: “. The words that you put at the end of that sentence will become the keywords for your site and your business. It is most important to rank for words that your target customers will actually be looking for.
Keywords that have high volume can sometimes work against you, as your searchers need to be interested in your product as a relevant result from their search query. Simple keywords are often ineffective for this reason, and as such, it is advised to use long-tail keywords instead.
It is estimated that between 70-93% of search traffic comes in through long-tail keywords, which are typically 4 or more words that target specific questions from the audience. These words are more specific to your product and are therefore much less difficult to rank for because they have a true focus. Users tend to start with broad keywords, for example, “leather purse” which they refine based on the results that they see to, “water resistant leather purse.”
There is a process to finding your long-tail keywords, which starts with creating a list of the names of your products, all of your product categories and some other terms related to them. If you have several product categories create separate lists for each. Once you have a list, input the terms into Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
Keyword Planner is free to use once you have set up an AdWords account, which is also free and only takes a few minutes to set up. Enter each of the keywords on your list into the tool one at a time, and the tool will come up with related search terms that may target the same customers. This will this provide you with plenty of new keywords, so focus on those with a decent search volume – and where possible on those with lower competition rating. The results from the Keyword Planner may also help you to come up with new ideas for content which is exactly your customers want to see and read about.
It is advisable to organise your new list of keywords and terms into either ‘informational’ or ‘purchase intent’. Base this on your assumption about the emotional state of the person making each search query. For example, ‘leather bags for men’ is specific enough to imply purchase intent, whereas ‘how to clean a leather purse’ is more informational.
The informational and purchase intent words can then be used for their different purposes – your product descriptions, category pages and blog posts that have a sales angle should include the keywords from your ‘purchase intent’ list. The keywords in the ‘informational’ list should be included in blog posts and other areas of your site to increase its overall appeal. For further help, there are tools such a Moz or Ahrefs that will help rank the keywords that are most important to you.
Before ranking your site for your new keywords it is also important that your site delivers on all other aspects. Do a checklist for your site to make sure that you have improved your sites speed, increased its securing rating with HTTPS, ensured that you have simple and clean URLs, you have 301 redirects in place and that Google has the sitemap for your website. A well made site with a focused and thoughtful SEO strategy will give your online business the best chance of success.