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Four free finance apps for small businesses

finance apps

Four free* finance apps for small businesses

Keeping track of your finances is essential for SMEs as it indicates how well your business is doing. Even so, many business owners are unwilling (or unable) to waste a fortune on over-priced money management apps, especially when they don’t quite do what they need them to.

Don’t fret, Trendzer has compiled a handy list of four free budgeting apps. We’ll be taking a look at money management software by Wave, Pandle, Goodbudget and GnuCash.


*Disclaimer: while these apps are free to use, some do offer some in-app purchase expansion options or additional services.



Wave

The Wave creators claim to be rebellious entrepreneurs. With this philosophy in mind, they offer a high-quality service that is free to use (software included). This consists of invoicing software, accounting software, receipt scanning and much more. The accountant-approved software is easy to use, so you don’t have to spend months trying to figure it out.

What makes Wave unique is the sheer number of free features it offers: it allows you to track your expenses and income, set up reminders for invoices and accept foreign currency to name only a few options.

Wave does offer some in-app paid services. Credit card payments can be processed for a small fee per transaction and Payroll duties can be performed for a set charge per employee. These charges are so small that it doesn’t break the bank.


Pandle

Cloud accounting software Pandle is developed by The Accountancy Partnership. You can be assured that they take their accounting expertise and apply it to their software. They manage to do this without sacrificing the user-friendliness of their app.

It allows you to import banking transactions, produce reports and add an unlimited amount of bank accounts. All data you enter is encrypted. However, it’s the built-in interactive help that distinguishes this app from the rest. This feature will alert you when incorrect data, such as duplicate transactions or incorrect dates, is being entered.

Another feature that makes Pandle more suitable for UK SMEs is that it’s specifically designed for the UK business market. This grants you full control of tax management as it’s familiar with VAT and similar UK tax-related issues.


Goodbudget

Budgeting app Goodbudget isn’t as advanced as the previous apps. This makes it ideal for those who want a no-frills user experience. The creators have digitalised the old-fashioned envelope budgeting system. As it’s mainly marketed for personal finance use, it’s only suitable to sole traders or small partnerships.

The free version of the app lets you manually set up 10 budget categories to which you assign a certain amount of money. The idea’s to keep track of your spending habits and recognising certain business areas that you could cut back on. It’s solely designed to become more disciplined with money.


GnuCash

This free double-entry accounting tool GnuCash caters to small businesses. While the app itself won’t win any awards for best-looking app, it does win in the simplicity department. It has, what its developers call, a “checkbook-style register.” It’s designed to give you an instant overview of your financial situation.

The software offers you an array of features that are necessary to run a successful business: it allows you to print checks, there’s a mortgage & loan repayment assistant and it manages payroll. In addition, it has a multiple currency feature that ensures that currency movements between accounts are fully up-to-date and balanced. This is particularly handy if you do business outwith the UK.



Until next time!

These are only a handful of helpful money management tools. Try different ones and find out what works for you. Ultimately, it will help you build your business. 

At Trendzer, we are happy to help you with taking your business forward by building you a custom website. Contact us to find out more!

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Telco Cloud World Forum 2017

Telco Cloud Forum

Telco Cloud World Forum 2017

Online competition for telcos is growing exponentially and it can be difficult for them to stay afloat. The Telco Cloud World Forum was set up specifically to help cloud service providers with their digital transformation. The forum is a place to discuss innovative ways for CSPs to attract new customers and retain their existing ones.

The 2017 Telco Cloud World Forum is being held on 25-26 April in London and Trendzer is once again a proud premier sponsor. Our very own Chief Strategy Officer JP Anderson is a key speaker at this year’s event. His presentation “Managed Services, your new best friend” will be included in the segment on Cloud Re-sellers, SME and Future Networks.

Other major topics will include:

  • Cloud Brokerage
  • NFV, Orchestration, 5G & Open Source
  • IoT, M2M and enabling new cloud offerings
  • Network security and data protection
  • Customer segmentation & VAS

If you are attending the Telco Cloud World Forum, and want to set up a meeting, fill in the contact form on Trendzer.com.

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Spring cleaning your website: 5 tips and tricks

spring clean - review your analytics data

Spring cleaning your website: 5 tips and tricks

The temperature is rising, birds are chirping and everything is in bloom: spring is in the air! Many people use this time of year to get rid of old things and make room for something new, like new clothes and new items suited for spring and summer. Here at Trendzer we would recommend for you, as a business owner, to do the same for your website. In this week’s blog article we discuss five tips for ‘spring cleaning’ your SME’s website!


Review your analytics data

Your website analytics can tell a lot about what works well and what doesn’t. Use Google Analytics to review your website performance page by page. Analytics shows you what visitors do once they enter your website:

  • Which pages they visit
  • How long they stay (‘bounce’ rate)
  • Which links they click

If bounce rates or conversion rates are specifically high or low for certain pages, it’s worth trying to figure out why and use that information to optimise your website’s performance. All in all, Google Analytics could be the starting point for your spring cleaning.



Get rid of old content

Nobody wants to visit a website only to see that the latest changes were made months or even years ago. Of course you should regularly add new content to your website to show your business is active, but a spring cleaning isn’t just about adding new things – it’s also about getting rid of what’s old and no longer in use. It’s easy to forget about little things, but in some cases vital parts of your SME might have changed and your website should reflect this. Some examples include:

  • Products or services you no longer offer
  • Special offers that have expired
  • Events you no longer organise/take part in
  • Information about employees that no longer work for you

Update your calls to action

Calls to action invite customers to take a certain action on your website, such as:

  • Purchasing a product
  • Booking an appointment
  • Visiting a certain page
  • Signing up for your email list
  • Contacting you

CTAs are one the most important elements of online content marketing, and so they should be taken care of properly. Make sure your CTAs are relevant, up-to-date and point customers in the right direction. It serves as a better user experience and will surely result in more traffic to your website!


Refresh your design

Web design trends change continuously, so it’s important to get with the times. Modern web design is completely tailor-made and caters to the specific needs of your business and its customers. Nowadays, we recommend to abstain from flashy 3D-aesthetics and instead opt for a more subtle look. It doesn’t mean you have to do a complete overhaul – even something little as changing the colour scheme or using different, scalable images may do the trick.



Eliminate technical issues

Most issues on your website are easy to spot and fix, but some problems can go unnoticed for ages. That’s why we recommend to go through your website as a visitor to see if you run into any problems. Here are some things to examine:

  • Does your website perform well in all browsers and on all devices?
  • Do all internal and external links work?
  • Do all buttons and widgets on your website work?
  • Can you play all the videos on your website?
  • Are you able to purchase something from your online shop?
  • Does your newsletter appear in your inbox?

If you don’t have time to do a technical check-up regularly, make sure to include it in your spring cleaning!


Happy cleaning!

A good, thorough spring cleaning of your SME’s website seems like a daunting task, and it can be. However, it’s definitely worth the effort! We hope our tips inspire you to start afresh this season.

At Trendzer we are happy to help you with your spring cleaning! We can develop a brand new website for your business. Contact us to find out more!

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Using new social platforms for businesses

Social Media Icons

Using new social platforms for businesses

Most SME owners will be well-versed in using Facebook or Twitter to promote their products/services. The world of social media, however, is fast-paced and numerous social apps come into existence each month.

In this article, we take a look at some of the ‘newer’ platforms and how to use them to your advantage when building your brand.



Get snapping on Snapchat.

If you think Snapchat’s just for teenagers, think again! Studies show that Snapchat’s age demographics have shifted as more businesses are starting to become aware of the market opportunities the app provides.

According to online statistics company Statista, the largest Snapchat age demographic currently is 18- to 24-year-olds, with 25-to 34 year-olds hot on their heels. If those are your target age groups, create a Snapchat profile now! But how do you kick-start your Snapchat marketing campaign?

  • Target influencers. The first thing to do is to learn how to differentiate between influencers and casual users. Influencers are prolific Snapchatters who, consequently, have large followings. Use your networking skills to target relevant influencers and get your business on their radar.
  • Account takeover. Once you’ve teamed up with an influencer, have them do an account takeover to cross-promote your business to their followers. Takeovers often lead to sustainable business partnerships, e.g. by offering them an exclusive contract to wear your clothes in their snaps.
  • Giveaway. Reward loyal followers by having a monthly giveaway. It’s the perfect opportunity for your followers to advertise you. Just prompt them to snap pictures promoting your product and pick a random winner. The prize can be vouchers or free samples. The winner is likely to promote you a second time as they’ll want to show off their victory to their followers (potential new clients).
  • Exclusive footage. Give your followers the VIP treatment by posting Snapchat exclusives and creating a buzz in the process. This includes previewing a new product before it hits your (virtual) shelves or showing behind-the-scenes footage live from your business HQ.

Promote on Periscope

Twitter-owned Periscope combines Snapchat and YouTube features to allow users to stream videos live, which are temporarily published on their profile for 24 hours.

A Twitter account is required. However, if your business already is on Twitter, Periscope is a great addition. It allows you to tweet a livestream link to your followers. Here are a few suggestions on how to use Periscope for business:

  • Tutorials. Whether you’re a handyman or a make-up artist, tutorials are a great way to connect with your audience and to share your expertise. On Periscope, you can take advantage of the livestreaming feature by creating a weekly tutorial series. Keep the videos entertaining and you’ll draw in a substantial audience. Also ask your followers what topics they want to see discussed to increase audience engagement.
  • Live events. If, for example, you’re reopening your restaurant after refurbishments, you can give your followers the sense that they are there by streaming it live. Periscope can be linked up to professional video equipment so you don’t have to worry about recording everything on your phone. Garner some attention by posting promos for the event on various social media platforms and your own website beforehand.
  • Testimonial interviews. Testimonials and online customer reviews play an important part in attracting potential clients. Testimonial interviews take an old concept and update it to modern standards. These videos don’t have to be hour-long in-depth interviews, but can be short clips in which satisfied clients tell your followers what you’ve done for them. Potential clients like hearing success stories and success often breeds success.
  • Special promos. Create special promos that reward the viewer for watching the whole video. You can do this by promoting a particular product throughout the video, then giving the viewers a promotional code for that item near the end of the livestream. Discounts codes can go a long way when it comes to persuading new customers into ordering from your shop. If they like your service at a discounted price, they will pay full price next time.

Get Reddit-Ready

Reddit has been the topic of the “Is this social media or a forum?” debate since it’s conception. For the sake of this blog article, we will take Reddit as a form of social media as it involves users sharing user-generated content with each other. There also is an element of “liking or unliking” content in the form of “upvoting and downvoting.”

Whereas Periscope and Snapchat are easy to manoeuvre, Reddit is not for the faint of heart. It largely consists of different communities, called subreddits, and each is moderated.

The line between legitimate business promotions and spam is incredibly fine and moderators are quick to ban users if they suspect they’re spamming. However, stick to the following guide and your business will benefit greatly.

  • Networking using subreddits. Reddit can open up networking opportunities as there is a subreddit for any topic imaginable. Even if you are selling the most obscure products, you’ll still be able to find your target audience. When approaching a subreddit, however, be sure to read their rules first and never advertise in your first post.
  • Networking with Redditors. Gain their trust before you post anything promotional. This means you should appear as a Reddit user: commenting on other people’s posts, upvote them, post relevant material yourself and build up relationships with Reddit influencers. Once you do start promoting your product, make sure it stays on-topic and comes as across as informative. When these Reddit relationships have been established, you can get people to do your marketing for you (much like on Snapchat and Periscope).
  • Reddit ads. Once you have mastered the above, you can start using Reddit ads. These are cheaper than the alternatives offered by other social media sites. They are easy to set up and, if posted in larger sub-reddits, will reach a large audience.

Go explore!

These are only a few new social platforms to choose from. However, we hope that our suggestions have shown you how to make them a successful part of your online marketing strategy.

If you're interested in our professional web design and SEO services, contact Trendzer on 0800 047 6777.

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Content marketing ideas for schools

Limehouse Day Nursery has added an art gallery to their website, showing off the art projects of the children.

Content marketing ideas for schools

The internet is the first place people go to when looking for schooling possibilities for themselves or their children. As such, websites and social media become a business card for all educational institutions, from nurseries and secondary schools to colleges and universities. That’s why we believe it’s essential for all types of schools to learn the ins and outs of the online environment. We’ve assembled some tips that will surely help your institute gain more exposure and more students!


1. Publish a variety of content

Modern websites allow marketers to publish a wide variety of content. Alternate between blog posts, premium content, newsletters and video or image material to prevent your content from becoming repetitive and predictable. Make sure you have parental consent and are adhering to your school’s policies, when adding photos of your pupils to your website or social media.

While content certainly has to be entertaining, it’s especially important for schools to keep their content informative and educational. Make sure your posts still share a common theme or message that fits your business goals. You could publish interviews with the teachers, students and alumni. Alternatively, you could post videos and photos of art projects or activities.


Limehouse Day Nursery has added an art gallery to their website, showing off the art projects of the children.


2. Use social media wisely

Although social media is important in general, educational institutions targeting teenagers and young adults should especially be aware that social media use can make or break your school’s image. Make sure that when you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other relevant media, you use them wisely. Consistent, engaging social content published at the right time keeps your (future) students and/or their families interested, and it drives more traffic to your website.

Think about posting about your school’s sports results and fixtures, upcoming talks and activities, music and arts shows, and sharing interesting news related to your school.


The High School of Glasgow is showing how to use Twitter in an engaging way


3. Set your CTA’s

A Call To Action, commonly abbreviated to CTA, is a short and clear invitation to your audience to take action. A strong CTA urges readers to respond to your school’s online content by, for example:

  • Contacting your school
  • Applying for your school
  • Following, liking or commenting on your social media
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
  • Entering a competition
  • Clicking through to your website or a specific page on your website

Basically, your CTA’s can end up being the main reason students are being enrolled in your educational programme!


4. Interact with your visitors

It’s one thing to regularly post content, but effective content marketing doesn’t stop once your content is live. Personalised communication is specifically important for schools, as students and/or their parents generally spend a long time being involved with your school.

Make sure you interact with the people that send enquiries or post comments. It will make them feel valued and important, and will surely result in more future engagement on their part. Plus, ideally it will give you some ideas on how to improve your institution and its marketing efforts.



Until next time!

Effective online content marketing is of vital importance for any educational institution. We hope our tips will help your school attract more students and keep in touch with them and their families through online media. Make sure to check back with Trendzer soon for a brand new blog entry with more tips and tricks!

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Content marketing ideas for estate agents

Mother and child baking

Content marketing ideas for estate agents

A stunning property, located in an up-and-coming neighbourhood, will practically sell itself. A dull estate agent’s website, however, won’t do it any justice. In any case, potential clients will lose interest before they have even seen any listings.

More property agents than ever have recently taken to the internet, with good reason. The Consumer Real Estate Index states 73% of buyers start their property hunt online. Don’t get left behind with this handy list of content marketing ideas for estate agents.


Sell a lifestyle, not a house

It’s tempting to only focus on the facts and figures of a property. After all, buyers are keen to learn about the specs and the price.

While this information should be mentioned, it isn’t the most vital to attract (and maintain) the attention of potential clients. Try luring them in by selling them a lifestyle rather than a house. This technique can easily be established by keeping the following ‘rules’ in mind:


1. Know your audience.

It’s essential to adjust your word use and overall tone of the content to your target group. If you’re selling a suburban family home, you’d highlight the garden their children can play in or the sizeable kitchen in which family dinners can be held. These features, however, will fall flat when you’re marketing a city bachelor pad to young professionals.

By matching the vocabulary of your audience, it’ll increase the chances prospective clients will land on your website. What makes them stay, is giving them the feeling that you know exactly what they want. Buyers are more likely to book a viewing and sellers will feel that their sale’s in good hands when they choose your agency.


2. Focus on the neighbourhood.

Potential buyers have to envision themselves visiting local restaurants or jogging in the park nearby. Mentioning famous landmarks or popular venues near the property will persuade those who are already researching the area to visit your site.

Individuals tend to use specific neighbourhood indicators, e.g.: “properties for sale in Chelsea” rather than “properties for sale in London.” Narrowing down the location will help attract the right crowd.

Likewise, you’ll show sellers that your agency understands the area which will convince them to use your agency.



Write a blog

Estate agents often say they don’t have time to write a blog, which is unfortunate as they help pull in potential clients. It’s a versatile tool that you don’t have to spend a substantial amount of money on: find a willing, creative staff member and have them write short daily or weekly pieces.

The posts don’t have to be serious and shouldn’t focus on the sale of properties only. Though, it can be beneficial to do a weekly feature to highlight a different property.

Here are some interesting topics to focus on:

  • Home buying-related topics
  • DIY instructions
  • Up-and-coming neighbourhoods
  • Behind-the-scenes snippets/employee interviews

Remember the golden rule: the more entertaining your blog posts are; the more likely potential clients will remember your agency’s name.


Create a strong presence on social media

Having your own website is no longer enough to build your brand. You’ll need to create a strong presence on social media as well. Here are some useful suggestions on how to utilise various social platforms.


Instagram

Use Instagram to post photographs or short clips of your listings, but be sparse with their filters. Behind-the-scenes photos can be used to complement the blog posts to add a more human touch to your business. Or use Stories to create temporary slideshows of multiple properties in a specific areas or multiple photos of one property.


Facebook

Turn your Facebook page into a ‘summary’ of your website. You choose to highlight certain aspects of your agency or portfolio through photos, videos or snippets of your blog posts. Show just enough to leave them wanting more. In which case, they’d have to visit your actual website. From a customer service perspective, Facebook gives you an opportunity to interact with your clients more closely. You can respond to client queries quicker via the comment section or Facebook messenger.


YouTube

Underutilised as a promotional tool, YouTube videos can be as effective as a blanket marketing campaign. Don’t just use it for virtual tours of properties in your portfolio but find something that makes your agency stand out. Think of Nordic drama spoofs or music videos. Make people remember you.


Twitter

Twitter allows you to have a more immediate interaction with your audience. By setting up polls or sharing links to your blog posts and listings, it offers you a fantastic way to track what content your audience responds to best so you can adjust your approach accordingly. A brilliant tool to use for this is Twitter Analytics, which helps you to monitor your follower demographic or your tweet activity.


You can use the above platforms individually, but you’d do well to link them as it will create a well-rounded picture of who you are and you’ll reach a wider audience.



Add testimonials

Why tell prospective clients what you can do for them, when you can let past customers do the talking? Written testimonials are especially important when it comes to prospective sellers.

Testimonials add to your overall perceived credibility and this will make them remember you. They can be added to their own section or you can feature them in your company blog.

Bonus tip: Instagram and YouTube can also be used for testimonial videos.


Get more site visitors with specialist web design for estate agents!

At Trendzer, we are experienced in building websites for realtors. We know what type of design and content works best for your industry, and we make sure your website is optimised for search engines. Do you like the sound of that? Book your demo now!

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The importance of rebranding for SMEs

rebranding

The importance of rebranding for SMEs

Rebranding can be quite a daunting task, but it’s definitely worth the effort if it gives your business an impulse. As you may have noticed, here at Trendzer we’ve just had a makeover ourselves! In this week’s blog article we talk about the benefits of rebranding, while also discussing our own brand new website. Our tips and our experience will surely help you in the process of rebranding your SME!


What is rebranding?

Rebranding entails the creation of completely new look and feel for a product, service or company. It involves changing your complete corporate identity, from your logo to your website and maybe even the products and services you offer. Not only does rebranding serve as a way to update and modernise a business, it’s also usually adjusted to the customer’s needs. For SMEs it’s a vital thing to do in order to get with the times.



When should you rebrand your business?

There are many reasons to rebrand your business as it develops. Some reasons to rebrand include:


You want to update your image

As online business changes at an increasingly faster pace, content and branding ages just as quick. We recommend to update your image every now and then. Not only does it keep customers interested – it also shows your development as a modern business.


Your SME has been experiencing significant growth

As your business grows, you’ve undoubtedly made changes and improvements to your products and services to cater to your target audience’s needs. If your business expands into new markets or obtains a better position in your current market, it’s an indication to update your branding.


Your SME has gone through a (de)merger, takeover or reorganisation

SMEs go through changes all the time. However, if your SME is going through a major change like a reorganisation, a takeover or (de)merger, you should consider restyling your brand as well. It brings visual attention to your recent changes!


You’re changing your products/services

Branding is often associated with a specific product or service. It influences how customers identify your SME. That’s why we recommend rebranding if you’re looking to change what your SME offers to its customers.


You want to set yourself apart from your competitors

When your industry is full of competitors offering the same products and services, it’s important to differentiate yourself from them. Rebranding your SME can help in doing so. Keep an eye what your competitors do and see if there’s something about their branding you think you can do better.



Rebranding your business can be overwhelming, but with our help it can be done quickly and professionally. We can provide a bespoke new logo and website for you, while we also offer unlimited support. Get in touch today!


Out with the old, in with the new

Trendzer has recently gone through a complete makeover. We are happy to tell you more about these changes and why we’ve made them!


A brand new logo

We’ve created a brand new logo as part of our rebranding. Perceptions of our old logo were that is was looking somewhat masculine, and fairly outdated. Our new logo is more modern, sleek and expensive-looking, with a straightforward tagline that fits our business identity. It was about creating something that would be pliable for web media, and it will also work well in mono print or etched.

Our new website

Our old website was quite dark, busy and it wasn’t always clear what services we offer. It was too complicated and varied in its content, so a major goal for our new design was to keep it clean and simple. Driving forces behind our new design are:

  • Clear messaging
  • Moving from dark to light schemes
  • Creating positive colour connotations
  • Highlighting the most important parts of our services

Compared to our old website, our new design emphasises:

  • The managed nature of our services
  • Business-boosting tools
  • Accessible information about previous customers
  • Design examples
  • Expanded and improved contact options

Take a look around

We hope our tips and our personal experience with rebranding inspire you to keep reinventing your own business image. Be sure to check back with us soon for a brand new blog. Meanwhile, we are happy to invite you to take a look around on our brand new website!


Are you looking to rebrand your business? Trendzer can help you get started with a modern and bespoke new website, including unlimited support. Contact us now!

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YouTube Advertising for Small Businesses

youtube advertising

YouTube Advertising for Small Businesses

All businesses will have heard about online advertising, and you may have tried out Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising. However, not many businesses know about the benefits of advertising on YouTube. In this article, we will talk about how to create advertisement videos for YouTube and the different ways YouTube allows you to advertise.


Online video instead of TV

People are switching from their desktops and laptops to mobile, and linking with that, there is also a change in how people are watching TV. First, we watch less TV and spend more time on the Internet. Second, you can use different devices to watch TV: your phone, tablet, computer or TV, and you can use different platforms. You can watch TV on demand, use a subscription service like Netflix, or watch on YouTube. More people are watching TV and movies on subscription sites, but no site has the video audience of YouTube:

  • YouTube has approximately 1 billion users and more than 4 billion daily views, a massive potential audience for advertising (Small Business Computing).
  • In 2015, 18- to 49-year-olds spent 4% less time watching TV and spent 74% more of their time on YouTube (Think with Google).

YouTube really is the king of video; it’s the first place we go when we want to watch a video. Advertising on TV is a big investment, and most small businesses won’t even be thinking about it, but advertising on YouTube is much easier to achieve.


iStock.com/Prykhodov


What about the cost though?

It’s true, hiring a video production company to shoot your video advertisement can be very expensive. Luckily, getting the equipment and shooting it yourself shouldn’t be too hard or expensive.

Almost everyone has a smartphone now, and the cameras on there can be good enough to create a static video. You could also borrow or rent a video camera if you have bigger ideas. You can get material for a green screen from a crafts store, and there are great free video editing programmes to be found on the web. Alternatively, you could ask film production students for help, and while you’re at it, get some student actors to star in your video. All you need now is a creative idea for your video, and some colleagues to help you out.

The payment method for YouTube advertising is similar to Google AdWords. You have control over your daily budget, and you only pay when someone engages with your ad by clicking or by watching the entire ad. If they skip the ad, you don’t pay a thing.


How Advertising on YouTube works

Like the payment method, the advertising method on YouTube is comparable to advertising on Google. You can target your advertising, by choosing targeting options like location, gender, age and interests.

YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google, as people use it to find funny or interesting videos. With Google AdWords you can add video advertisements to YouTube to build your brand and get clicks to your website or YouTube channel.

There are two different types of ads: in-stream and in-display ads:

  • In-stream ads are 30 second ads shown at the start or during a video. When the ad appears, the viewer can skip it after 5 seconds. There are also in-stream ads that are non-skippable and appear for 15 seconds or longer.
  • In-display ads appear on the right of the video being played as a suggested video or in search results. Another way for them to appear is as a video overlay. You can choose for what type of search queries you want your video to list.

The in-stream ads need a powerful call-to-action at the start of your video, before people might skip. For example: “Download our free e-book” or “Get 20% discount off all products by clicking on this link”. These ads are great for getting people to visit your site, and the best videos for this purpose are 30 seconds or shorter. We wouldn’t recommend using the non-skippable ads, because they often frustrate users.

Google AdWords

The in-display ads are more applicable if you want to build your YouTube channel’s audience. Using them will increase your views and build your brand. For this type of ad, you’re best off using a video that’s two minutes, as people will click on it from search results or as a related video to the one they were watching.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords


That’s all for now!

If this article has tickled your curiosity about YouTube advertising; your first step is to start the creative process for your video content. Then it’s time to shoot it, upload it, and reap the rewards! Good luck!



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Getting the most out of your eCommerce website

Mobile eCommerce

Getting the most out of your eCommerce website

It’s more important than ever to be able to sell your goods online, as we showed you last week. More and more British consumers are shopping online every year, which is why we offer eCommerce solutions through our partner Ecwid.

To help our lovely customers who are stepping into online selling, we’ve put together this helpful two-part guide to ensure that they get the most out of their eShop. This time around, we look at how to get started.

So bookmark our blog page and then get ready to learn about the basics of building a successful eCommerce site…

Icon made by Freepik*


Selling with eCommerce sites

To run a successful eCommerce site, you’ll need to start thinking about marketing and SEO. Both are a lot like exercise: if enough is done regularly with just a little commitment, the benefits pay off longer-term. Online marketing is also like exercise in that you shouldn’t rush into it unprepared.

Any fitness instructor worth their salt will tell you to build up steadily in a manner that feels comfortable. That means working through a series of stages:

  1. Set up for success by eating well and stretching before and after exercise.
  2. Start out with light jogging and basic resistance exercises to build basic strength.
  3. Finally, increase your efforts gradually, maintain your routine, and you should start to see results!

FreeImages.com: B S K

You don’t want to do the online equivalent of pull a muscle by throwing a site that is out of shape at the market – this could mean anything from damaged reputation to lost sales! You also don’t want to go full tilt into promotion and then stop as soon as you see results – your site will go back to being “out of shape” in a matter of weeks.

So, applying the same logic to your eCommerce marketing efforts – because let’s face it, eCommerce is all about sales – you should take the following three steps:

  1. Set up for success – lay the foundations of a successful website and plan for social media backup
  2. Build basic strength – optimise your eCommerce pages for search engines and user experience
  3. Maintain your routine for results – continue to flex those marketing muscles to keep the sales coming

We’ll come to the second two points in coming blogs. For the moment, we want you to take note of some vital information that will give you helpful preparation.


Setting up for success

One of the most important ways to achieve success is to ensure you have a plan. As your grandfather (probably) said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.

The simplest way to get started is to make your goals clear to yourself. And that means asking:

  • Who? – are your target market?
  • What? – are you selling and in which category?
  • When? – are you going to promote your website?
  • Where? – are you selling your goods?
  • Why? – should a customer buy your products?

Who: finding your customers

You can set up your website to be found by search engines, and latterly customers, but you can do yourself a massive favour by putting your goods under the noses of your customers. Find out where they are and sell your goods accordingly.

If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you can start telling your customers about your online shop in person. Perhaps collect email addresses to start an email marketing campaign.

Finally, almost any business can do well by looking at social media, whether it’s Pinterest for lifestyle and fashion goods, or LinkedIn for B2B IT products; so start thinking about where your customers like to hang out online.

Icon made by Freepik*


When: strategy and planning

Just like a real shop, eCommerce websites need a little time and effort to be successful unless you’ve somehow discovered a miracle product that everyone wants and no-one else sells. If so, congratulations! And why are you still reading a blog written by someone who dreamed of being a novelist?

But if not, you should start planning to lay aside dedicated time to manage your website. You will probably need to do tasks such as add new products, remove old ones, and promote everything on social media. Recognise this now and start laying aside quiet times in your week for admin and strategising.

Icon made by Freepik*


What: planning your site structure

Imagine walking into a pet store to buy a dog leash, but you can’t find them in the “Dog Accessories” aisle. You spend 20 minutes wandering around, looking at shelves, and eventually find them in the “Dog Food” section instead. You’d understandably be a little miffed.

Well, your eCommerce website is your online shop, so logical structure becomes crucial. Make sure to take an inventory of the products you intend to sell online, and then group all the items under a related category. Ideally, you want to form a “tree” of categories and products.

In the example above, the diagram shows that the “Hamster Accessories” page is a sub-category of “Pet Accessories”. This might lead to a website with a structure like the below:


Where: targeting your sales

It might sound simple are you selling goods purely online, or are you using your eShop to bolster brick-and-mortar sales? If you want to increase footfall as well as sell online, then you should consider your local search presence.

You’ll increase your chances of appearing in a Map search if you do some keyword research. For example, if you run a pet shop in Bristol and want to sell goods online, you should look into:

  • Search volumes for “pet shop Bristol”, “pet food Bristol” and similar terms
  • Whether searches like “pet food Bristol” result in a map result or not

If you are selling online only, geography can still be relevant. For example, if you are selling to the UK market only, consider buying a .co.uk URL for your primary domain. It will automatically locate your business as UK-based. However, if you want to sell on an international basis, you should probably opt for a neutral domain such as .com, .org, or .net.

Icon made by Freepik*


Why: identifying your strengths

Nobody (hopefully) knows your business or all your products as well as you. That’s why you are in a uniquely excellent position to be able to sell your strengths. One-by-one, make some notes on your products, about the benefits that your customers will receive from buying them. Remember the golden questions from before:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

You can refer to your notes later when you are writing your product descriptions – more on that next time. And you can also use this logic for your business on all of your other website pages. For example, if you offer free deliveries on purchases over £10, that info should be displayed prominently on your site in any number of places, from the Home page to the Shop page.

Icon made by Freepik*


Next time…

You’re almost ready to go, now that you’re loaded up with a wealth of useful information and plans. Next time, we’ll look at how to optimise your online shop to encourage successful sales!

If you are thinking of starting an online shop, consider a Trendzer website with Ecwid eCommerce facilities. Your site will be optimised for mobile users and come with site analytics and an easy-to-use order management facility.

Otherwise, we hope you check in on our future posts!


Credit

*Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com are licensed under CC BY 3.0
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Write better meta descriptions for your business website

Meta Descriptions for Your Business Website

Write better meta descriptions for your business website

Meta descriptions introduce your company to the world. Make the most of your search engine results by optimising yours for online marketing today!

Your meta description is the short nugget of info that displays in search engine results pages (or SERPs). The above image show a typical results page with examples highlighted.

Too frequently, small businesses and web developers overlook the humble meta description. But consider this: your page’s meta description is often the first impression that a search engine user and potential customer will get about your company.

So, as with any other info that represents your company in the public domain, you should make the best use of it. Luckily, we’re here to point out how to craft a cunning little slice of marketing info that will help optimise one more part of your website.


Back to basics: the essentials of meta descriptions

Let’s get straight to the point: there are several factors that you should definitely respect when you are writing page meta descriptions. Quickly, these are:

  • 155 character limit, spaces included
  • Keyword relevancy
  • Unique content

Character limit

Any meta description that is longer than 155 characters will be cut off by Google, as in the below examples: note the “…” at the end of the second lines. As a result, you should really think about keeping yours as a distinct standalone message within that limit.
There’s very little point in having a message that says “Call us on …” with your phone number cut off, if your competitors have a Freephone number listed in the next entry.

Keyword relevancy

To signify relevance to search engines and human users, your meta description should contain your page title keywords verbatim. That’s “exactly the same” if your Latin isn’t so hot. See below for an example.
Like a newspaper sub-headline expands on a headline, your meta description should tell human viewers and Google a little more about the page content. And for best practice optimisation, you want to show total consistency of subject matter. 

Unique content

Just like page content, you don’t want to be sending a message that your content is ripped off from elsewhere or created lazily and with no forethought. A unique meta description proves that this page is talking about something fresh and new. And besides, there are so many elements that you should include for uber-optimisation.


Advanced tactics: better metas

It’s not hard to create unique meta descriptions when you consider that they present an opportunity to sell your company before a potential customer has even clicked through to your site. Think about the following items that you should use to give your metas more meat:

  • USPs
  • Business Location
  • Contact info
  • Call to Action
  • Company Name

USPs (Unique Selling Points)

It definitely doesn’t hurt to push your benefits from the second the customer encounters your business. If you have a Freephone number and the next SERP entry doesn’t, it could be a deciding factor in who the customer calls. Popular USPs to display include:
  • 0800 numbers
  • Free quotations or surveys
  • No call-out charges
  • 24-hour hotlines

Business location

Particularly if your business serves local customers directly, whether they visit your location or you go to theirs, your location should be included to help attract local search.

Contact info

Tied in with some of the USPs, it makes complete sense to start guiding your customer on the journey that you want them to follow. Whether you prefer phone contact or email, you should include that information to drive the right conversion from SERPs.

Call to Action (or CTA)

A CTA is marketing speak for “guiding your customer to the desired response”. Adding your desired outcome into the meta description helps tell the reader how they should use your service. Popular CTAs include:
  • Contact
  • Call
  • Email
  • Visit

Company name

While not vital, it may not hurt to include your company’s name for brand identification and people who search for your business name. Adding it also reduces the chance of your meta description appearing generic.

Sample optimised meta description

Ideally your meta descriptions should look something like this:

Or, once deconstructed:

Key:

  • Page title keywords (including location)
  • Company name
  • USPs
  • Call to Action
  • Contact info

Now, you should have all the info you need to get more from your metas. But just in case, check out our top tips to feed your inspiration.

Top Tips:

  • Look at other examples. You could use the images above, but it may be better to check out the meta descriptions of your competitors and see how they’re selling themselves
  • Keep an eye on the better written Paid ads in the right-hand column as well, as richer companies often A/B split test their ads for optimal effectiveness
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What is web accessibility?

disabled access

What is web accessibility?


It is possible that web accessibility is something you have never heard about. For most people it is easy to use the web: you can point, click, listen, watch, and skip content. If you, or someone close to you has a disability, you will know how frustrating these things can be. It is important businesses know what web accessibility is, and that they try to make their website as accessible as possible.

In 2011, there were over 11 million people with a disability, long term illness, or impairment in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, in May 2015, 86% of adults in the UK regularly use the internet, compared to only 67.8% of disabled adults. That means over 7 million disabled adults in the UK use the internet on a regular basis.

Source: Freeimages, Simon Gray

Disabled access

In the most basic way, web accessibility means that everyone should be able to access the web. In the UK, most people have the means to access the internet, but what web accessibility really stands for, is that everyone can use the services and information on the internet.

People with disabilities can include, for example:

  • People who are visually impaired or blind
  • People who are hard of hearing or deaf
  • People with limited function of their hands or arms.

Aside from people with a disability, older people and people who have difficulties with the English language, also appreciate accessible websites.


How do I make my website accessible?

When you buy a Trendzer website, the copywriter and designer will make sure your website is accessible. If you want to change the content or design of your site at a later date, you can follow these pointers as a guide to ensure your website stays accessible.


1. Correct use of headings

Not only is correct use of headings good for SEO, it also helps with making your website more accessible. Screen readers use the headings to find out the structure of your text. A screen reader is a software application that interprets your website. It then presents your website with sound icons, text-to-speech or a Braille output device. Site visitors who use a screen reader can use the headings to skim through the content.

How to make sure your headings are correct:

  • Your page title should always be in Header 1. You should avoid using Header 1 for anything else.
  • Use Header 2 and Header 3 to show new topics and subtopics on your page. Visitors using a screen reader (and normal visitors) use headings to skim content, to find the section they are interested in.
  • Do not skip heading levels (don’t go from Header 1 to Header 3), as screen readers will wonder if content is missing.

The Trendzer platform makes it easy to choose different headers.


2. Contrasting colours

Do you want to change your site's images or the colours of your text and background? You need to make sure that the new content passes the "contrast test". If your site has black text on a dark blue background, the contrast will be too low, and visually impaired people will not be able to read it. There are several tools and sites, like WebAim and Gray-bit, which show you if your new colours are OK.

A snippet from the Trendzer.com site, converted into grayscale by Gray-bit.com


3. Image “alt text”

If you’re adding more images to your site, it is important to add “alt text” to the images. In Trendzer, you add this “alternative text” in the “Title” box. It’s important to do this because:

  • Screen readers read the “alt text” out loud, allowing visually impaired people to understand the content and function of the image on your site.
  • When the image is not loaded, or when the user has chosen not to view images, the “alt text” is displayed in place of the image.
  • On top of that, search machines read the “alt text” of your image and use it to help them organise search results. By describing your images with alternative text, you can attract more visitors through Google Images.

Adding the “alt text” to an image on a Trendzer website using ‘Title’


4. Unique link names

If you have links in your content, you need to avoid using anchor text like: “click here” or “read more”. Just like sighted readers, visually-impaired people with screen readers sometimes scan text for links. Make sure your link is descriptive and it explains where it is taking you.


5. Videos with subtitles

Adding video content to your website is a wonderful idea, because it makes your website more interactive. People with hearing disabilities and people learning the English language might have hard time understanding them though.Luckily, most video platforms will enable you to add subtitles to a video. Have a look at how to add subtitles on Youtube and on Vimeo.

Youtube explains how to turn on the subtitles in a video

Once you’ve added the subtitles, you can add the video to your Trendzer website using the video player app.







How to add a video to your Trendzer website

All businesses should make sure that their website 

is as accessible as possible. If you would like to learn more about accessibility and other features in Trendzer website packages, phone our team on 0800 047 6777.

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Website content ideas for therapists and counsellors

counsellor

Website content ideas for therapists and counsellors

Clients come to you with the hope you can solve their physical or mental issues. Some of them may come through their GP, but others search independently for your services online. Potential patients can form an opinion of you and your services from your website, and then decide whether you are a good fit for them.

Prospective clients will use a variety of factors to decide who they’ll choose for a therapist, counsellor or coach. But it all boils down to whether they can trust you with their issues. By adding valuable content to your website, you show that you’re a professional, that you can solve their problems, and it distinguishes your business from your competitors. This is called content marketing. Keep on reading to discover how you can use content marketing to update your website and increase your customer base.

iStock.com / dima_sidelnikov

Show you’re an expert

As we said earlier, when shopping around for a therapist, counsellor or coach, clients want to make sure they are getting a professional. You can use your website to showcase your experience and authority in various ways.


Blog articles

Writing regular blog articles has multiple great advantages. First, it is a great way to drive more traffic to your website. When someone googles for “How do I know if I am depressed?” and you happen to have written a great blog article on this, you will get more visitors to your website. More visitors equal more potential customers, and it also means that your website will be ranked higher in search engines.

The other advantage is that by writing blog articles you can show how experienced and knowledgeable you are. Get inspired by sessions and by doing a bit of research online. Your first idea might be something like: “The 5 best stretches for back pain”, which is a good start but a bit broad. There are probably hundreds or more articles on this already. Try to narrow it down to something more niche like: “The 5 best yoga positions for sciatica”.


About us page

Another way to show your professionalism is by talking about your education, knowledge and experience on your ‘About Us’ or ‘Our Team’ page.

Normally we would recommend adding testimonials or case studies as well, but this could be a bit too personal for your type of services. If you do have permission to use a testimonial or case study on your site, make sure it doesn’t have any private information. Stories of success can really appeal to your clients and show that you’re an accomplished therapist, counsellor or coach.

iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Write good page content

More so than any other type of business perhaps, your clients will have done a bit of research before they contact you. They’ll have seen a few of your competitor’s websites, and have read about the services you provide. Their decision on who to go with will depend on many factors. You can influence some of these factors by writing good content that is easy to understand and answers their questions.


Answer their questions

It’s important to think about what questions your potential customers might have when arriving at your website. For example:

  • What does a typical first session look like?
  • How can your services help with their problems?
  • Will it be very expensive?
  • Why will your method help them?
  • How are you different from your competitors?

Now these are only the questions that we think potential clients have. You probably know best from experience what other questions might pop up. Write clear copy without jargon, in which you answer these questions for your customers.


Use headers

Make sure to use headers (H1, H2 and H3 tags) to make your text easier to read, and to announce what your next bit of text will be about. It will make it easier for clients to find what they’re looking for. Summarise your services on your homepage, and have a separate page per service or group of services where you can explain them in more detail.


Want a website with professional copywriting included?

Trendzer has worked with many therapists, coaches and counsellors in creating their professional website. Take a look at our testimonials to see examples.

Find out more about our web design services.

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Web design questions: what to ask when buying a website

Buying a Domain

Web design questions: what to ask when buying a website

If you need a business website, there are a huge range of options available. As building your business online is essential in today’s market, it’s equally essential that you ask yourself some serious questions about the process.

You wouldn’t buy a house without checking that it wasn’t structurally sound. By similar logic, please don’t put your business onto the Web with a shaky foundation!

Luckily, we’re decent sorts at Trendzer: that’s why we’ve written up a few considerations that you owe to yourself, your business partner, and possibly even your family to ponder over. So, let’s look at the


6 main factors to consider when you need a website

There are a lot of factors you should think about when you are considering buying a new website. We’ve put a list together to help you get an understanding of your requirements. These include a series of questions such as:

  1. What should you ask about your website service provider?
  2. What do you need to know about domains and hosting?
  3. What do you need to know about SEO?
  4. What should you consider about page content?
  5. What do you need to know about website design and functionality?
  6. How will you be supported during and after the build?

Your service provider: what’s their story?

A lot of this comes down to personal preference – do you like to support small businesses or do you prefer to go with an established global brand? Freelancers or smaller agencies may provide a more personalised experience. By contrast, a larger outfit may be able to cut costly overheads and offer a standardised product.

Basically, you should have a good feeling about the build process and the company. After all, they’ll be taking your hard-earned money and representing your business online. So, it’s important to consider the following questions:

  • How many people work for the company? Who will be your point of contact?
  • Can they help you achieve your goals? What kinds of businesses have they developed websites for in the past?
  • Is all work carried out on-site or does the company outsource and use freelancers?
  • How do they approach security and what will be done to update your site?

Hosting and web domains: the foundations

Every website needs to be hosted on a web domain – it’s just how the Web works! You’ll need to purchase at least one domain in order to get your site online.

“Freemium” template websites (such as free WiX, Wordpress or Squarespace sites) will give you a sub-domain for nothing, but this will not really help your business. Search engines don’t give high ratings when companies host on someone else’s domain, which is reflected in search rankings.

Paid freemium options of companies like WiX or Squarespace usually come with a free hosted domain included. These are better for your rankings, but just make sure that you own the rights to the domain name. Some companies retain the rights to both website content and domain names.

Your best choice is a website with hosting and domain inclusive and the intellectual properties of the content being in your name. That means your most important questions to ask your designers are:

  • Do they provide hosting? How much extra (if anything) will hosting cost?
  • Will you own the domain or be renting it from the provider?
  • Will they help you to transfer your domain?

Website design: functionality and appearance

Everyone has their own talents and limitations. You could be forgiven for not being able to put together an attractive website by yourself: it takes a lot of knowledge and skills.

If you aren’t a gifted coder or have no eye for aesthetics, then you should give some thought to how you are going to make your site look good if you are opting for a DIY template. Nothing puts customers off like a website that is hard to look at!

Source: pennyjuice.com from webpagesthatsuck.com

If you opt for a managed service, your developer will take care of the design issues from ensuring that colours don’t clash horribly to knowing which fonts help communicate character. They also consider principles such as the importance of what appears “above the fold”.

Ideally, your developer will factor in this kind of information to ensure that your website is not only styled as you requested, it also looks appealing to first-time visitors. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a portfolio of websites from a web design agency. Other questions that you should consider are:

  • Which Content Management System (or CMS) do they use? Can it provide the features that you need, e.g. media players?
  • Will your site by mobile-friendly?
  • Will you have full control of the website after the build process is finished?
  • How easy is it to add images or change the design? Can you reverse changes if you don’t like something you’ve done?

Search engine optimisation

There are two things to think about here: setup and ongoing maintenance. As we’ve said in previous blog articles, SEO is a lot like housekeeping or maintenance: you need to keep at it after you have got things in the order and way you want.

If you are going with a managed service, then you should consider asking what your website support will be like, including:

  • Will you receive any optimisation advice?
  • Will someone do SEO on your behalf?
  • How often will you get help from your staff?

On the other hand, if you have a DIY-style templated website, then you may want to research the answers to questions such as:

  • How will your web pages get best practise optimisation? Will you have to learn the basics yourself?
  • Are there guides or apps on SEO included with the website?
  • How much knowledge does the DIY SEO take to implement?

Page content: site and page structure

Many SEOs would suggest that you should have your site structure in mind before you have even purchased your website. That would allow time for research into what search terms your site should be based around.

But no matter where you’re at in the decision-making process, you should realise that in an ideal world, you would have a landing page for each of your services or products. As search engines display page results, you really need a perfectly optimised page (like below) to attract traffic.

Some web design agencies will use replicated content from other sites and change the names up. This is a bad idea, as it can lead to lower rankings and also fails to capture the unique essence of your business. The big questions to ask about your content are:

  • Who will write the content? Can you change it if you’re not happy with it?
  • Do the writers have a working knowledge of SEO?
  • How easy is it to add pages, text, images and videos?
  • Who will hold the intellectual property rights when the contract is complete?

Technical support: assistance and expertise

Let’s stop for a second and compare your website to a shop. If the website goes down, then your imaginary shop is effectively closed for business. Ideally, you should go into your purchase knowing that if something goes wrong, you have a designated contact who can give you some answers and timelines.

You may not particularly want to have to deal with a third-party support desk on the other side of the world, or a vast and sprawling organisation that has departments that don’t know about the existence of other departments! So make sure to ask:

  • Is there website maintenance and training available to you?
  • Who will help if there are technical difficulties? When can they be reached?
  • What is the standard response time from the technical support department?

Think about the whole package

As we’ve advised before, a successful website should really be maintained with regular updates and occasional performance reviews. This means that there are a few final questions you should ask before you make your final decision:

  • How are you hoping to attract customers? Will you be relying on SEO, social media support, or paid advertising?
  • Do you have time to manage your website? Is there someone in your company who can?
  • Are you confident about adding content and using a CMS?

All of the above factors are important. It will take time and effort to market your company using SEO or social media. It will take money to use paid advertising. You should figure out which of these approaches is best for your needs and then factor in the degree of help you require.

Add your company’s unique knowledge and time needs into your questions for your website service provider. You should have a good idea of what you need to build your business online with a strong website. Good luck!


Warning: sales pitch follows!

At Trendzer, we have over 10,000 small businesses on our website platform. Our SEO team have helped more than a thousand UK companies to achieve success with their site optimisation. To learn more about our web design and online marketing services, browse the rest of our site.

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Using Pinterest for business: planning ideas and tips

Goal Without a Plan

Using Pinterest for business: planning ideas and social media tips

Let people window shop for your products or ideas with Pinterest. The image sharing site has gone from strength to strength since it emerged in 2011.

In June 2015, Pinterest’s parent company announced the launch of buyable pins. It’s safe to assume that this move will only strengthen the platform’s appeal to its fan base.


So, should you consider adding Pinterest to the social media network repertoire of your business? Consider our facts below.


Should you use Pinterest for your business?

A quick analysis of the platform and its users should give you a good idea of whether your online business is suited to Pinterest or not. The primary focus of the network is discovery, or to put it in consumer terms, window shopping.

The stats on typical Pinterest users vary, but whether it’s a 68/32 or an 80/20 split, the sources all agree that the majority of Pinterest users are women. This fact has a variety of consequences, such as articles like “ Men are from Wikipedia and Women are from Pinterest”. Politically correct persons be warned: rampant gender binarism is contained within.

But flippancy and pseudo-scientific sexism aside, there are definitely some key categories that succeed on Pinterest. Some of them may have connections to the stereotypical feminine gender. Take a look at the most popular categories and see if there’s any potential crossover with your company:

  • Home and garden
  • Recipes
  • Food and drink
  • Weddings
  • Fashion
  • Hair and beauty
  • Photography
  • Art
  • Design

Essentially, if you can get your hands on attractive images, then you should seriously consider Pinterest. In many of the areas listed above, Pinterest is already starting to exceed Facebook in “social-to-sale purchases” (aka people who bought after spotting something on social media).


Universal Pinterest favourites

What if your business isn’t really covered by the above sectors? Is there still hope for you? Well, there are still options if you’re willing to get creative.

As well as categories, there are also a variety of boards and pins that are of particular interest to the public. These include:

  • Inspirational quotes
  • Health & fitness
  • Humour
  • Travel
  • Technology

Let’s face it – everyone needs a pick-me-up once in a while, whether it’s an uplifting statement or a visual joke. And as demographic evidence suggests that most users are fashion-conscious femmes with money to spend, it’s fair to suppose that health, fitness and travel will have great appeal.

Trendzer tip: find a category or a board that relates to your business. If you have the skills or resources to create your own photographs, designs, or infographics; then all the better!


Setting up your Pinterest business account

Go to  Pinterest for Business. Get your username right – it should be memorable and related to your company. Optimise your account by ensuring that you have links to your website (and vice versa), and make sure to fill out your profile fields to get as much relevant info out there as possible.


Make a plan for Pinterest

As the old adage goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail! Pinning without a basic plan is like going out to for dinner and not knowing that your outfit will suit the restaurant. It could work out okay but success is left to chance.


Goals of your pins

First of all, make sure to figure out your goals. These might be things such as:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Develop more website traffic
  • Research your target market
  • Attract new customers
  • Promote seasonal sales

Align your goals with your plan - how will you use the best categories and boards to deliver results? Maybe motivational quotes are the best way to reach new customers, and pins promoting  under-performing products may help boost seasonal sales. Jot down your ideas.

See? People do love motivational quotes!

Consider your Pinterest market

Decide what popular topics you will embrace. Consider your target market? You can base this on factors including intuition, website Analytics, or in-store customers.

Target your key demographics accordingly. Will you make separate plans for women and men? Research by the University of Minnesota and Georgia Tech suggests that female users primarily favour crafts, home décor, and fashion; while male users seem to be of a creative bent and prefer photography art and design. Food and drink are universals!

Narrow your focus when creating titles for boards, much like you would use long-tailed keywords for a website. You’ll stand out from the thousands of Humour boards if you have a Gym Fitness Humour board for your personal training business or Mindfulness Motivational Quotes for your therapy business.


Timeliness and scheduling

Next up, there’s scheduling. As with all social media efforts, there are ideal times to be active and trends in user receptiveness. For example, Friday afternoons and Saturdays are great times for engagement and sharing, but working hours are typically not so hot.

Source: Pinterest Blog

The above image is taken from Pinterest’s own blog article and points out the following weekly topic trends:

  • Monday = Fitness
  • Tuesday = Technology
  • Wednesday = Inspirational Quotes
  • Thursday = Fashion
  • Friday = Humour
  • Saturday = Travels
  • Sunday = Food & Crafts

You should also draw up a calendar – this should incorporate all other social media including Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This should include broader seasonal focuses, special holidays to promote towards, and notable times like International Women’s Week, World Health Day, or similar.

It’s easier to be social when you’re engaging in a popular conversation!


Take notes of what works

Identify some metrics based on your goals. For a successful social media campaign, you should really track what works – and what is not as effective – and see if you can identify patterns and re-focus accordingly.

Figure out how to monitor your results – this will normally involve Analytics. You’ll need a Pinterest business account to take advantage of their free Analytics tool, and we always recommend that you set up Google Analytics as soon as possible for your website.

Pinterest’s analysis software can tell you some great at-a-glance info including your audience, top pins, and most popular boards. Keep track of your wins and fails: Future You will thank you for it!


Happy pinning!

That’s all on our intro to Pinterest: hopefully you should have enough information to form a meaningful plan. We hope you enjoy building your business using Pinterest!

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Using Keyword Planner: best free SEO tools series #1

search terms

Using Keyword Planner: best free SEO tools series #1

Hello again. Last time round, we looked at the 10 best free SEO tools that you can use to improve your website. As promised, we’re now following up with a How-To guide on each of these invaluable tools.

First up is Google’s Keyword Planner. It will give you a look at what search terms people use when they’re looking online for companies, such as the example below.

These search terms are what we mean when we say “keywords”. An old way of cheating search engines was to take as many of these keywords as possible and cram them into a website, like below.

…The horror! The horror! in Glasgow…

This is called “keyword stuffing” and search engines got wise to it around the time Britney Spears shot to fame and unrelated websites suddenly had her name as keywords...

But when you take keywords and use them across your website in a natural way, it will increase the chances of customers finding you online.


Getting to the keyword research tool

Let’s start at the beginning: you should probably log in to Keyword Planner before we go any further. You’ll need a Google account to use their service. If you don’t have one already, then you can set one up on their signup page.

When you’re ready, go to the Keyword Planner page. Before you do anything else, unless you want to start submitting payment information and setting out on a path to paid advertising, it’s important to “Skip the guided setup” as shown below.

Simply enter your basic setting info such as “Language” and “Currency” and then continue to the next page. But again, you don’t want to get involved in all the campaign information: what you need to choose is the “Tools” menu and “Keyword Planner”.

Finally, you should select “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” and you’re almost ready to start! First of all, take two minutes to note down a few ideas of what people might use to search for businesses like yours. Then, read on…

How to use Keyword Planner: 11-step guide

1. Make some guesses

Type some of your ideas into the window for Products and Services. In the example below, we’re pretending that we’re a plumber based in Leeds, which is something that we normally reserve for spicing up Date Night.
Anyway, moving hurriedly on, you don’t need to spend too much time pondering potential search terms at the moment. You will get more inspiration from Google’s suggestions. More on their ideas will follow below.
You’ll also notice that there is a window for a website address. Entering information here will add keywords from that URL, so you could use a competitor’s site for even more ideas.

2. Check your settings

Next up, make sure that you are targeting your search appropriately. Check that your language is set to “English” and your “Location” field is set to cover a realistic catchment area for your business. Don’t target “UK” unless you really serve clients nationwide, as you won’t get an accurate report.

3. Use filters if you need them

You can use the “Filter keywords” section to filter out any search terms which are not being used in your service area. Open up the filters and choose, for example, “Average monthly searches >= 10”.

4. Hit the “Get ideas” button

This hopefully needs very little explanation.

5. Review your keyword results

On the next screen, the first thing you should do is hit “Keyword ideas” tab so that you aren’t being shown “Ad group ideas”: these are for paid advertising, which is a slightly different (and more expensive) game. We just want to focus on research just now.
Now, you should see your list of keyword suggestions in the main part of the display, as below. Underneath, you’ll notice an area called “Keywords (by relevance)”: this is where Google shows what they believe are useful search terms for your industry.
You can sort them by “Average monthly searches” to see what suggestions have the higher values. But keep in mind that a high number of searches doesn’t necessarily mean “use that keyword”. We’ll discuss why next.

6. Find accurate and usable keywords

Take a look through the first couple of pages of “Keywords (by relevance)”. You’ll see some which describe services you offer and some which may not. We want to pick out the keywords which search relatively well but – most importantly – are relevant to your business and not overly popular.
Don’t be tempted to use keywords which don’t reflect your business. For example, if our imaginary plumber doesn’t do “electrical heating”, then he shouldn’t choose that even if it has a high number of searches.
Similarly, simple and high volume results like “plumber” will likely have a huge amount of competition. If we narrow it down to something like “emergency plumber” or “commercial plumber”, there will be fewer companies and websites in direct conflict for these keywords.

7. Filter your search

Now, you can focus your keywords accurately. In the example, we’ve factored in the term “emergency”. You can also filter out with “Negative keywords” under “Targeting”: this will eliminate any words that you don’t wish to see. For our plumber, we could enter “electrical” to remove heating-related results with that term.

8. Form your keyword plan

Next up, you want to create a spreadsheet plan. To do so, tick the boxes under “Add to plan” next to any keywords that you have decided are useful. You’ll notice that your original choices stay on-screen but Google’s suggestions disappear as they are added to “My Keyword Ideas” on the right sidebar.

9. Embrace any sudden inspirations

Spotted a word that has given you a whole new set of search term suggestions? You can either use the filters to find any related keywords, or you can type your inspired ideas into the “Your products and services” window next to all your original ideas and “Get ideas” again: remember to tick them!

10. Build up a good database

Keep ticking boxes until you are satisfied that you have a good list, which you can view in “My Keyword Ideas”. Mainstream businesses like trades or well-known industries may have 80 or even 100+ keywords. Niche businesses and specialist areas of expertise may only have a couple of dozen.

11. Save your spreadsheet

When you’re happy with your list, go to the “Download plan” icon under the “My Keyword Ideas” bar and click it. Check save in the format “Excel CSV” or to the destination of “Google Drive”, and then hit “Download”. Voila! You have a keyword plan.

How to use keywords

By now, I’m hoping you’re starting to wonder “what on Earth am I doing with these keywords anyway?” We touched on keyword stuffing and the need to “use keywords in a natural way”. Basically, this means building pages or paragraphs based on your chosen keywords.

There are four key areas where you should put your keywords to send the strongest relevancy signals to Google:

  1. Menu
  2. Page title
  3. Page URL
  4. Heading 1

Using keywords in these locations sets up your page to tell Google (and human users) what they will find in the clearest way possible. The example below is for the keyword “screeding services”.

Then simply follow up by including page content that mentions the keywords naturally. This should happen without too much effort: just write about the details of your services and you should be fine. But we’ll look at that in our upcoming article about On-Page Optmisation: watch this space!


 “Should I use a different SEO keyword tool?”

There are some alternatives out there that claim to give more accurate results. Their argument is that Google hides some results from the Keyword Planner to encourage paid advertising.

Whether this is true or not, many of these alternatives insist that you either sign up for a free trial or request payment. When you simply need to set up your webpages on a good foundation, it’s hard to argue with the service offered by Google. After all, they do claim 88.89% of the UK search engine market!

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Using Instagram for businesses

selfie

Using Instagram for businesses

You may know Instagram because your teenager uses it to post selfies, but did you know many businesses also use it as a marketing platform? We explain what type of businesses should use Instagram, and how small businesses can use the social media platform to their advantage. And don’t worry, there is no need to post any selfies!

Quick Instagram facts

Instagram is a mobile app and website on which you can share digital photos and videos. Images can be edited with a variety of filters on the app.

Instagram has grown dramatically over the last few years, and now has 400 million users worldwide. It is most popular with young adults (18-29) who use it to connect to each other by posting photos. Businesses use it as a creative and engaging tool to connect with their (potential) customers.

You can use the app to follow other users and see their updates in your newsfeed. You can like and comment on a picture from another user or company.


What businesses use Instagram

As Instagram is a photo-sharing app, businesses who sell visual products or services are more naturally apt for it. If you fall into one of the following categories, you should definitely think about setting up an account: 

  • Gifts and gadgets
  • Jewellery
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Art
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Charities
  • Nature and animals

Even if your business doesn’t fall into these categories, you can still use Instagram. Take a look at the image of General Electric’s Instagram. This company doesn’t necessary sell visual products, but has gained a large following because of its inspiring content and great photography.


Get an Instagram following

To grow your online presence on Instagram, you need to build up followers. This will require a little legwork! If you do all of the below, you will be surprised by how quickly your following on Instagram will expand.

  1. Strategy: Firstly, you need to think about your strategy for using the platform. What are you looking to get out of Instagram? Do you want to attract new customers, do you want to promote services, or do you want to inform about your products or services? Once your goal is clear, all your content should be linked to this objective.
  2. Cross-promotion: The easiest way to gain more followers is to add a link to your Instagram on your other social media and website.
  3. Follow: It’s important to follow users that have followed you, to engage with them. You should also follow current clients and others in your industry.
  4. Hashtags: Search for hashtags that are relevant to your industry. Comment on these photos and follow people who engage with these uploads. Use relevant hashtags when you upload pictures.
  5. Engage: Once you get followers, make sure to engage with them by following them back and replying to their comments on your images.

The type of pictures businesses upload

Post photos that fit well with your brand and show your audience what they want. Here are a few examples of images you could upload:

  • Process: Humans are curious beings and we love to know how things are made. A picture of how a stone is set in a ring, or a composition of ingredients for your famous recipes give an insight into your business.
  • Product: See Instagram as your online window shop. You can show off your products in action or give your followers a sneak peek into your new collection. Make sure the composition is just right, play around with backgrounds, colours and the filters available on the app.
  • People: Add pictures of happy customers with their new haircut or finished kitchen. If you pride your business for being personal, you can also share pictures and information of your employees. Your customers may be pleased to hear that one of your employees just got engaged!

When posting, don’t forget to cross-post them to Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. Use hashtags relevant to the image and your industry to reach even more followers.


Engage your Instagram followers

Once you have a group of followers, you should make sure they know you appreciate them. Share some secrets, like a special deal that’s only available with a code you share on Instagram.

And who doesn’t like to win something? You might not be able to give away a cash prize like Starbucks, but a special deal or small free product are great prizes too.

You could open a contest by asking users to comment on your photo, share it, mention a friend or share their own photo of them using your products. Users taking part in your contest will show this in their timeline, and their followers might also want to join in the fun!

Make sure to link to the competition on your other social media, your website and mention it to your customers, to get more people to follow you on Instagram.


That's all!

We hope you now know the basics of Instagram, and how you can use it to help your business grow its online presence.

If you're interested in our professional web design and SEO services, contact Trendzer on 0800 047 6777.

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Using Google Webmaster Tools: best free SEO tools #3

Google email

Using Google Webmaster Tools: best free SEO tools #3

So far our series on the best free SEO tools has looked at keyword research and content creation. Now, we’ll look at what you can do to optimise your site using Google’s Webmaster Tools service.

Stick around, and we’ll give you an introduction to the benefits of using this resource, provide pointers on how to get set up, and then look at several key features you should use.

We basically assume that your site is set up and ready to go, so if you’re still putting your content together, perhaps bookmark this page for future reference.


What is Google Webmaster Tools?

Google Webmaster Tools – recently rebranded as “Search Console” – gives you detailed reports about how Google views your web pages. It’s a simple way to make your website more Google-friendly. The major benefits that you gain from this free resource are:

  • Seeing which of your pages have been indexed by Google
  • Discovering any errors encountered by Google’s crawlers
  • Being able to submit a sitemap so Google indexes your pages more easily
  • Finding the search queries that list your site as a result
  • Learning what sites link to yours
  • Taking specific pages out of Google’s index
  • Highlighting info from your pages to help Google show the most important details

You’re probably starting to get an idea of how useful this tool can be. So let’s crack on and make sure you’re ready to go.


Guide to Webmaster Tools Setup

You need a Google account to use their Webmaster Tools. If you use Gmail, Google+, YouTube or Google Analytics, then you should log in here with the same details you use to access those services. If not, then you should create a new account here and then visit the Webmaster Tools page.

Once you’ve logged in, click “Add Property” button to link your website to your Webmaster Tools account. You can add up to 1,000 sites to your account, and the range of URLs that you can add as a site includes:

We recommend following Google’s advice to add every version of your site, such as both http://www.example.com and http://example.com. After you have submitted all versions of your site, you need to verify ownership. There are several options available including:

  • Google Analytics
  • HTML file upload
  • HTML tag
  • Domain name provider
  • Google Tag Manager

Pick the option that suits you best – using Analytics code is a popular choice – and then follow the on-screen instructions to verify your ownership.

How to use Webmaster Tools

Once you’re confirmed as the legitimate owner of the site, you’ll be able to access information in your Webmaster Account as in the display below. You dashboard provides an overview of alerts on any important or new issues and snapshots of current status including:

  • Crawl Errors
  • Search Analytics
  • Sitemaps

In the left sidebar, you’ll also see four areas that you can open for further investigation:

  • Search Appearance
  • Search Traffic
  • Google Index
  • Crawl

Each section has many distinct functions. Some reveal information about how Google views your site, while others help Google to crawl your content effectively. We’ve gathered a few of the most useful features for beginners below.


Search Appearance

Like the name suggests, the information in this section helps to determine how your website will appear in search results. We recommend that you initially investigate these two options from this area:

  • Data Highlighter: use Webmaster Tools to highlight relevant info and tell Google all of the most important content on your site
  • HTML Improvements: identify content issues with your site including title tags and meta descriptions


Search Traffic

This section provides a review of your website performance including search visibility and external links. Particularly worthy of note are:

  • Search Analytics: examine how often your site is appearing in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and how often people click through to your site
  • Links to Your Site: find out which sites are linking to your domain
  • Mobile Usability: check that your website displays well for smartphone users


Google Index

Take a look through this section and you’ll find information about what Google has indexed and how you can modify what their crawlers can access. Of particular note in this section area are:

  • Content Keywords: view or download an analysis of the keywords used in your content – it can indicate that you are sending out the wrong message
  • Remove URLs: request that Google does not crawl or display certain pages, such as pages carrying confidential info that was accidentally revealed online


Crawl

Here, you’ll find handy resources that help Google to crawl your site more effectively. A summary of some of the features you should look at include:

  • Crawl Errors: detect any issues that Google robots encounter such as missing or moved pages
  • Sitemaps: test and submit XML sitemaps to let Google’s crawlers know what to anticipate
  • Fetch as Google: ask Google to crawl your site after you have upgraded your content or revised your site structure


SEO advice – Webmaster Tools essentials

  1. Find out how to submit XML sitemaps with your particular CMS or website builder and submit one as soon as you have created your basic site structure. Re-submit when you’ve added new pages (Trendzer customer please note: your site automatically submits a new sitemap following structure changes).
  2. Use “Fetch as Google” once you have updated any new and unique content for faster indexing – waiting for it to happen naturally can take days, weeks, or longer.
  3. Take a regular look at Search Analytics and “Queries” to see what search terms are making your site display to potential customers – it may tell you a) how to shape your content or b) what your customers really want.

That’s it until next time, when we’ll look at the benefits of using Google Analytics. This invaluable resource will help you to learn more about your site traffic and what visitor behaviour can tell you!


Webmaster Tools resources

Intro to Webmaster Academy: Google’s own interactive guide lets you take helpful modules to learn the ropes

Google Webmaster Central: several updates a week, typically aimed at the more proficient user

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Top tips for choosing and editing your imagery: Part 2

Image perspective

Top tips for choosing and editing your imagery: part 2

Need to spice up your website's appearance but not sure how to do it? Well we have some expert advice coming your way. This week, we hand off to our Lead Digital Designer who provides some more excellent tips on how to choose and edit your imagery.

"We’ll be looking at the same three website designs that featured in our last design post and showing how selecting and altering your images can make a big difference to your final website design. Our focus areas include:

  • Perspective
  • Audience
  • Setting
  • Style
  • Framing

You'll also find tips on how you can apply all the effects mentioned in these two design articles using Trendzer’s easy-to-use Aviary editor. So, let's dive in and look at the factors that you should think about...


Perspective

Consider how the object or person is captured within the photo or graphic. Keeping the angle consistent across all images creates a cohesive design. You could experiment with different perspectives including:

  • Aerial
  • Profile
  • Portrait
  • Below
  • Above
  • Landscape

Here, I have added an image in aerial perspective, to give the effect of looking down into the design:



Audience

Know your audience. After all, you wouldn't sell tickets for an over 60s cruise by showcasing an energetic young couple skydiving on an adventure holiday!

The audience factor is key when you are targeting a particular market. Always ask yourself if each image is relevant to your market before deciding to include it in your design.

For example, when I had to make a mock-up design for a fictional bakery, I made sure to pick an appropriate image for a fictional testimonial about cakes.



Setting

Always keep in mind how you want to brand your business or product. Images set the mood for your website and are key to creating an appealing brand.

For example, if you want a handmade feel, think about the setting of your product. I have chosen the cake and pastry images below for their rustic, home-made feel and universal format.



Style

Choose images that support the style of your theme. You should consider the time, place, and subject of your images and graphics.

For example, if you are going for a retro 50s look, you shouldn't fill your website with images of modern-day gadgets! Below, I have used a consistent colour theme with supporting images and graphics from the 50s era.

Take note that on Trendzer sites, you can customize the colours of your map to support your colour scheme! Other useful features to keep a uniform style are available in our Aviary image editor, including:

  • Effects : Choose from a variety of effects and filters for your image.
  • Frames : Add a variety of frames to your images.
  • Focus : Keep one part of your image in focus while the rest is blurred.
  • Warmth : Adjust the tone of your image from cool blue to warm orange.
  • Splash : Make your image black and white or colour parts in.
  • Draw : Add doodle overlays to your image with a brush.
  • Text : Put text overlays on to your image with a text input box.


Framing

Framing images and graphics can give your design consistency and definition within your layout which focus on your subject matter with very little effort. Below, I have added a modern take on a Victorian-inspired border to frame my design. This emphasizes the modern take on the by-gone era of the brand.

Notable features in the image editor that help with framing include:

  • Frames : Add a variety of frames to your images.
  • Crop : Crop a portion of your image.
  • Focus : Keep one part of your image in focus while the rest is blurred.
  • Splash : Make your image black and white or colour parts in.
  • Draw : Add doodle overlays to your image with a brush.


Conclusion

So, we have covered a variety of different effects that you can use to edit images and graphics easily. Why not have a go at applying some of these effects to your own designs? Use your Trendzer image editor to experiment with different image ideas. Try applying simple filters, colours, styles, and text to see how many different effects you can create!

Below, I have created a quick Trendzer image editor guide to get you started. If you haven’t already tried it, I have highlighted some features that you can use to achieve similar effects to my examples of bakery websites.


Editing Images with Trendzer’s Aviary Photo Editor

Please note: The Aviary Photo Editor changes the image you're altering within Trendzer permanently. I recommend saving a copy of the original image on your computer if you do not have a copy before you start using the editor. Take a backup of any of your favourite pictures!


Step 1 - Choose Your Image

My Images

Access the Image Manager in the Page Manager.

Click Change Design of this Site Icon to open the Edit Website Design menu. Hover over the Manage Images Icon and click.



Content Image

Access the Content Area where the imageis to be added. Click the Insert Image Icon to open the Image Manager. Then, hover over the Thumbnail Image and click the Image Thumbnail.



Step 2 - Edit your Image

The Aviary editing tools will appear above your image. Use the magnifying glass to zoom in on your image.

You can use these tools to edit your images within the Aviary Editor:



  • Enhance : Auto-correct your image with one of the four basic enhancement settings.
  • Effects : Choose from a variety of effects and filters for your image.
  • Frames : Add a variety of frames to your images.
  • Crop : Crop a portion of your image.
  • Resize : Resize your image to the size you need whilst keeping the proportions.
  • Orientation : Rotate and flip your image.
  • Focus : Keep one part of your image in focus while the rest is blurred.
  • Brightness : Change the overall image brightness.
  • Contrast : Alter the overall image contrast.
  • Saturation : Manipulate the overall image saturation.
  • Warmth : Adjust the tone of your image from cool blue to warm orange.
  • Sharpness : Blur or sharpen your image.
  • Splash : Make your image black and white or colour parts in.
  • Draw : Add doodle overlays to your image with a brush.
  • Text : Put text overlays on to your image with a text input box.
  • Redeye : Remove redeye from your image with a brush.
  • Whiten : Whiten teeth in your image with a brush.
  • Blemish : Remove skin blemishes with a brush.

You can use the left and right arrows to navigate through the editing tools if you are working on a smaller screen size.


Step 3 - Save Image

Click Save to publish your changes.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Follow these simple suggestions and you’re well on your way to an attractive and consistent site!"

Well, that's all from Team Design this time around. Next week, we'll be looking at SEO and social media issues. But bookmark our blog page for more handy design tips over the coming months! And if you need professional web design, contact us by calling 0800 047 6777.

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Top tips for choosing and editing your imagery: part 1

Hero image with Colour variants

Top tips for choosing and editing your imagery: part 1

Choosing images is a crucial part of the design process. You need to think about the perspective of your images and how they fit with your design.

Good quality images are key to a professional-looking website. Images are extremely versatile. They can be used in a variety of formats to deliver context, information, and emotion that text alone struggles to convey. Later, we’ll go through some effective techniques to enhance your images, whether they were taken by you or a professional photographer.

Your subject needs to fit within your design. Take or choose pictures that support what you are saying on the web page. You can use all of the principles outlined below for your Trendzer website design, and almost all of these features – except image cut-outs – are part of the Aviary Image editor.

In this article, we’ll be looking at three of my designs to investigate how your image choices and editing can make a difference to your final website design.


Things you should think about:

Colour

Choose images with colours that match your design. This impacts the flow of your website and reinforces your chosen style. Use different coloured images for a high-contrast design, or sepia or black-and-white visuals for an authentic style. Below, I have colour-matched each image to coincide with the three different products shown:

  • Effects : Choose from a variety of effects and filters for your image.
  • Brightness : Change the overall image brightness.
  • Contrast : Alter the overall image contrast.
  • Saturation : Manipulate the overall image saturation.
  • Warmth : Adjust the tone of your image from cool blue to warm orange.
  • Splash : Make your image black and white or colour parts in.


Space

Give your images and graphics space to be viewed properly. For example, don't try to cram an image that is better suited to portrait into a landscape space. This will look uneasy on the eye and may put people off reading your content. 

Choose images and create graphics that fit the space available. This focuses the audience and delivers information quickly and effectively. Here, I have used white space and cut-out images so that the main focus is on the object itself:

  • Crop : Crop a portion of your image.
  • Resize : Resize your image to the size you need whilst keeping the proportions.
  • Orientation : Rotate and flip your image.


Shape

Use a consistent shape throughout a design. This works well especially when used as part of a wider brand. Images do not have to conform to the conventional 640x480 pixels usually used for landscape and portrait shapes online. Try circular, letterbox, or hexagonal shapes. A cut-out image is also an effective style for your design. Here, I have used a circle cut-out of each image to give variety to the layout of this design:

  • Crop : Crop a portion of your image.
  • Resize : Resize your image to the size you need whilst keeping the proportions.
  • Orientation : Rotate and flip your image.


Overlay

Try overlying shapes, text, and images. This creates a high-impact graphic style with supporting text. Here, I have used a background image with text and image overlay to support two very different design styles:

  • Draw : Add doodle overlays to your image with a brush.
  • Text : Put text overlays on to your image with a text input box.


Subject

Think about the images you choose, take, and design. The subject of your images should reinforce what you are saying on the page and support the idea behind your design. Here, I have teamed an event catering website with images of rustic home-made dishes. These support the contact copy and enforce the company brand: test

  • Effects : Choose from a variety of effects and filters for your image.
  • Focus : Keep one part of your image in focus while the rest is blurred.
  • Splash : Make your image black and white or colour parts in.

Join us again soon on the Trendzer blog for a range of design and imagery topics such as perspective, audience, and more!

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5 Tips for Using Twitter for Business

twitter birds

5 tips for using Twitter for Business

Twitter has been one of the most popular social media platforms for almost a decade. It’s a platform known for its high speed. The short, text-like messages are an excellent way to post news at a fast rate, which fits the generally short attention span that many internet users have when browsing social media. Plus, Twitter is credited with introducing and popularising the use of the social media #hashtag.

It’s therefore no surprise that many businesses are active on Twitter – and rightfully so: once you get the hang of it, Twitter can become an important part of your company’s online marketing efforts. We’ve assembled five tips and tricks that should help your business get the most out of Twitter.


1.Optimise your account

Companies that have a complete profile and include official, engaging and well-branded information in their Twitter bio come off as more trustworthy and are far more likely to attract more followers and potential customers. Although Twitter offers limited space for profile details, you should try to include everything you want your customers to know about your business, such as your products and services, your contact details and a call-to-action.



2.Use your Twitter account regularly

Although it’s easy to just use Twitter as an automated way to direct your followers to your website or your other social media, Twitter users generally prefer businesses that tweet regularly and dish out some replies, ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ as well. Twitter is originally a social medium for 140-character mini-blogs, and it is important to stick to that personal, up-and-close element. Plus, for a small fee you can Promote your best tweets, which serves as a way of advertising for Twitter.


3.Keep an eye on your analytics

One of the many pros of Twitter is that your account comes with a free analytics tool, simply called Twitter Analytics. It keeps track of all your tweets, how many people have read your tweet and what they’ve done with it: whether that’s replying, ‘liking’, ‘retweeting’, expanding your tweet, clicking on your tweet, or visiting your profile. These analytics tell a lot about what you’re doing right and wrong on Twitter, and can be very helpful in optimising your account. Generally speaking, an engaging tweet from a business should include:

  • Relevant keywords and hashtags
  • A link to a source website (if applicable)
  • Relevant images or video material
  • A call-to-action

4.Follow your competitors and influencers

It sounds odd, but it works: following other businesses in your industry, including your direct competitors, ensures you’re always aware of what they’re doing and if that may affect your business. You can look at who your competitors are following and who is following them, and choose to follow these people and businesses as well. Similarly, it’s clever to follow influencers: bloggers, specialists, potential partners that influence your business and/or your customers. In doing so, you’ll stay updated on the ins and outs of your industry and you’re able to quickly expand your business network.


5.Integrate your Twitter account with your other marketing tools

Make sure your existing customers know you have a Twitter account. You may do so by mentioning it in other social media posts, in news letters, on your website et cetera. Your website should ideally include a button that links directly to your Twitter profile, and for some businesses an embedded Twitter feed might be a good idea as well.


Happy Tweeting!

That’s all for our tips on how to optimise your company’s Twitter presence. Hopefully they will be helpful in turning Twitter into a successful part of your online marketing strategy!

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The ten commandments for avoiding social media fails

Dave’s Plumbers updated their cover photo

The ten commandments for avoiding social media fails

You may have noticed – between checking your Facebook and posting pictures to Instagram – that social media has become quite important of late. Last year, market research found that 8 out of 10 small businesses in the US use social media to drive growth.

And the same survey found that 3 in 5 small businesses reported gaining new customers by using social media. With low costs and the potential for huge exposure, it’s easy to see why so many budding entrepreneurs are looking to find success online.

But it has to be done the right way. Like these charming grandparents who keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash, there are many ways that you can slip up on social media.

So we’ve decided to take a sometimes irreverent – but always accurate – look at the ten commandments of not messing up your online marketing.


1. Thou Shalt… Post Regularly

Sadly enough, it comes as a surprise to some people that “social” media actually requires “social” interactions. A staggering number of small business owners think that “having a Facebook page” will somehow magically generate revenue.

They will pay sometimes ludicrous fees to digital agencies to set up a page for them, and then it will sit there with one post saying “Dave’s Plumbers updated their cover photo” in January 2013. And that’s it for more than two years.

Fun fact: a Facebook page or a Twitter account without activity may as well not exist. The point of having a social media presence is to build trust in your company and create engagement. Starting an account and then leaving it untended is like having a phone line but never answering it.


2. Thou Shalt Not… Maketh a Hard Sell

As we’ve already said, social media is about social networking – people are canny to marketing tricks these days. Indeed, more people than ever are switching off to advertising, as this video explains.

Have you ever walked into the middle of a party and screamed “WE SELL PLUMBING PARTS FOR CHEAP!!!”? That’s effectively what you’re doing when you pollute someone’s Newsfeed or Timeline with repeated, pushy messages about whatever services you hawk to the unsuspecting British public.

Slow down, engage in some social foreplay, and you’re far less likely to see people switching off and “Unfollow”-ing in droves. Then, when your followers actually need what you have on offer, you have a far better chance of being thought of as their go-to company.


3. Thou Shalt Not… Disappear from View

We understand that you can’t be on social media 24/7: you wouldn’t have a business for long if you were! But posting regularly – even if rarely – is better than vomiting seventeen posts out one Saturday afternoon and then disappearing for the rest of time.

Use a calendar and get scheduling from the very start. It’s a great business habit to keep check on aspects of your work that you don’t necessarily engage with every day anyway. We’ll use taxes as a really good example of that principle.

So, set aside time regularly to decide what to post and when. Facebook lets you schedule posts for your business Page, and you can find a whole host of free apps to manage Twitter posts. With just a little planning, you can put out a steady flow of engaging posts.


4. Thou Shalt Not… Highjack Inappropriate Hashtags

Hashtags can be invaluable for engaging a wider audience on Twitter. But if you jump on a trending topic to get greater exposure, be 100% sure that you know what it is about. At best it could be sarcastic, and at worst it could be for something very serious that isn’t appropriate for promoting your company.

That’s the problem that faced DiGiorno Pizza when they tried to join the conversation #WhyIStayed with “You had pizza”. It took four long minutes for them to notice that it wasn’t appropriate, mainly because the hashtag was a post of solidarity between victims of domestic violence.

Imagine walking into a support group for battered wives with the explicit intent of selling them frozen pizza, and you’ll get exactly why this kind of promotion is ill advised. Which leads us neatly to…


5. Thou Shalt Not… Use Disasters for Self Promotion

I would have thought that this was fairly simple, but it seems that even deliberate posts by large organisation have run afoul of not thinking their posts through. In 2013, London Luton Airport used a photo of a crashed airplane to promote themselves complete with “Weeeee :)”:

Source: Clinked

It transpired that picture in question involved the death of a six-year-old child. It doesn’t matter how clever it may seem at the time, you probably shouldn’t try to link your company to someone else’s bad news. Promoting yourself on the misfortune of others will get you attention, but unless you’re Katie Hopkins – a creature that apparently feeds purely on negative press – then maybe try a different approach?


6. Thou Shalt… Remember Who Holds Thy Passwords

There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, you should keep track of all your social media accounts to avoid them going unused and doing the online equivalent of gathering dust (see the First Commandment for details). If you’re particularly unlucky, this can mean “getting hacked and spamming everyone with miracle fat burning pills”.

Secondly, not managing your social media passwords can lead to them falling into the wrong hands. Whether this results in losing the ability to post or seeing someone else making poor posts in your name, it is a situation best avoided. 

Most Twitter users in the UK remember the live action firing of HMV employees back in 2011. The owners of the company forgot that several employees were in control of the company Twitter account, even after they started pulling staff in to inform them of mass redundancies.

Source: Social Media Week

7. Thou Shalt… Remember Which Account Thou Art Using to Post

Spend a few minutes familiarising yourself with how to switch from personal account to business page and vice versa. Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ (yeah, right!), you don’t want to get caught out posting personal info on your business page.

Source: Mashable

Mmmkay. This little gem happened when a social media manager at American Red Cross inadvertently got mixed up on HootSuite. Fortunately, the Red Cross recovered the situation by deleting the Tweet and posting a good-humoured response.

But there’s potential for massive embarrassment out there, as Twitter discovered when their Chief Financial Officer accidentally sent a private message to the public… using Twitter! His slip up narrowly avoided naming a corporate acquisition target, which could have affected share prices.

So pause for thought before you post, and check that you are posting correctly. Speaking of which…


8. Thou Shalt… Check Thy Facts

Well-loved mogul and everyone’s favourite presidential candidate Donald Trump was tricked into posting a picture of one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers – who “said you were [a] big inspiration” – by a cheeky member of the Twittersphere.

Source: Huffington Post

While you’re (hopefully) not likely to have many people imply that you inspire psychopaths everywhere, the lesson remains: be careful of what you post as fact in the public domain.

Trump’s response was to say “Maybe I’ll sue”, which goes to show that when you have enough money, you don’t need a sense of humour or shame. At which point we should observe the ninth commandment…


9. Thou Shalt Not… Post in Anger

Had some negative feedback? Disappointed with how things are going? Tough day. But you should probably just have a long soak in the bath or take in your favourite TV show and promise to resolve the problem tomorrow.

What not to do is follow the practice of Amy’s Baking Company – as seen on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – which seemed, um, a mite touchy about their negative feedback:

Source: Mashable

While typing ALL-CAPS RANTS with thinly veiled promises of Biblical retribution is one way of dealing with online critics, you probably have a stronger chance of winning hearts and minds with a subtler approach. That’s why the tenth and final commandment is…


10. Thou Shalt… Respond to Public Mistakes Quickly and Politely

Aristotle once said “you cannot make everyone happy: you are not pizza” (or so Wikipedia says, anyway). But while you can’t make everyone love you, you can limit damage and stop everyone from hating you.

That’s why you should address criticisms in social media politely and quickly. Don’t do the social media equivalent of hiding under some coats. Stand tall, take ownership of the issue, and say “what can we do to make you feel differently?”

With this approach, genuine complainants will get to make some concrete requests, and the other kind (you know who we’re talking about) will need to quantify their gripe or appear like irrational trolls.


Happy posting!

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The importance of customer reviews

review

The importance of customer reviews

Reviews are a double-edged sword. When customers love your services and talk about this on review sites, it can create more revenue for you. But if you get negative reviews, it can harm your business. The good thing is, you can save face by responding to it correctly.

This blog article will look at the importance of review sites, which sites there are, and how to respond to negative reviews.


Why do I need user-generated reviews?

According to survey of more than 58,000 US adults, some 70% trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family. 46% trust consumer reviews, 10% trust ads on websites and only 9% trust text messages from companies or brands ( Forrester, 2013). In short, user reviews have the potential to make or break your business.

As a new business, it is important to get reviewed as quickly as possible. Think about it, if you had to choose between a hairdresser with zero reviews or one with an average 4-star review, which one would you choose?

Do make sure you or family members don’t create false reviews though. Review sites have sophisticated ways of finding out about this, and will just delete all your reviews.


What review sites are there?

The most obvious place where your business can be reviewed is in Google. When getting a website with Trendzer, we always recommend setting up a Google My Business listing. As Google is often the first place where new customers will see your business, it is a very important site for reviews. If you want to know more about setting up a Google My Business listing, check out our previous blog on the subject.

Other sites where customers often leave reviews are Facebook, Yelp, Yell, TripAdvisor and ReviewCentre. On top of that, there are niche review sites; for example MyBuilder for tradesmen and iWantGreatCare for healthcare.

Check if your business is already listed on these sites, and claim the listing if you are. If you’re not on there yet, sign up for a free listing for your business.


How to get good reviews

When you’re absolutely sure that customers have had a good experience, you should encourage them to review you on Google and other review sites. Send an (automated) email, ask them, or give them a card with details on how they can leave a review. Explain how much it would mean to you if they could take five minutes to review your business, but never insinuate it needs to be a positive review.

Unfortunately, it’s not entirely avoidable to get bad reviews. Something might go wrong, or you happen to get a cranky customer.


How to respond to bad reviews

Your business is your livelihood and it’s something you’re passionate about. You do the best you can to make your customers happy, and that means it will sting if someone leaves a bad review. It’s difficult not to take a bad review to heart. People respond differently to bad criticism: they run away and hide, they get upset or they get angry. And here is the beauty of the internet – you don’t have to show any of those feelings online.


Step 1: Let it go

Leave it five minutes, an hour or a day. Take as much time as you need to feel like you can respond to the review in a non-emotional manner.


Step 2: Research

Go over the situation again in your head and try to look at it objectively. Ask your colleagues if they can remember this customer and hear their side of the story. Also look into the reviewer, does (s)he leave a lot of negative reviews? If it’s a valid review, use it as learning material to make your business even better.


Step 3: Respond

Always respond to negative reviews. It’s your opportunity to make it right for that customer and show other (potential) customers that you care.


Keep the following things in mind:

  • Apologise: The first thing to do is to apologise, it is a powerful way of making your business look good again. If you feel that you really aren’t to blame, try a ‘nonpoligy’, for example: “I’m sorry if you feel our triple cheeseburgers are too small. Many satisfied customers can’t finish their plate and we do our best to make everyone happy.”
  • Own up: If you were in the wrong, owning up to mistakes goes a long way. You don’t need to go into detail here, the shorter the sweeter. Make sure you explain how you will make sure this doesn’t happen again.
  • Correct: When the customer has had a truly bad experience, it is good practice to offer a voucher, a freebie or a refund. By doing this, you show other that your business obviously cares about their customers!
  • Humour: A good way to respond to a negative review, especially if you don’t agree, is to add a little bit of humour in. Disclaimer: humour doesn’t work for every service and not for every complaint.


In the end, the success of your business does not depend on the opinion of one customer, so don’t worry too much if you get a bad review. Just remember to respond to it using the above guidelines.

We’re full of good ideas on social media and online marketing at Trendzer. Call us on 0800 047 6777 and ask about our Search Engine Manager Service.

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The hashtag: What is it and how do you use it?

how do hashtags work

The hashtag: What is it and how do you use it?

If you’re fairly new to social media, you might not understand the point of adding hashtags to your updates. After the success of hashtags on Twitter, many social networks now also feature them. The purpose of hashtags for small businesses is that you can increase the visibility of your social media profile – with the ultimate goal of more followers and customers.

In this article, we will explain how hashtags work and how you can use them to increase the network of fans for your business social media accounts.

Petit_louis / Flickr

How do hashtags work?

Hashtags are the short links preceded by the # sign. There are multiple ways people can reach your social media profile, one of them is through hashtags. Adding relevant hashtags to your post increases your chances of potential customers finding you on social media.

Picture this: A potential customer comes across the hashtag #FridayReads on Twitter, a hashtag to show what you’re reading that week. She clicks on it, and finds a list of tweets featuring that hashtag. Now, if you have an online bookshop, you could use this hashtag to show what you think people should be reading this Friday! Then you could add a link to your shop where people can buy the book.

Another reason to use hashtags is to increase engagement with users. Tweets with hashtags receive two times more engagement than those without hashtags (Rivaliq). You could search for relevant hashtags and reply to potential customers.

As an example, the wedding planner below has searched for the hashtag #engaged. They then let the lucky lady know how they can help her with the wedding. How thoughtful!

How to include hashtags

There are certain rules for hashtags that you need to follow to create successful hashtags.

First of all, you cannot include spaces. So if you want to include more than one word in a hashtag, you need to add them together. Use capitals to separate words for easier reading. Don’t string together too many words though! People won’t search for long hashtags, so it’s a waste of valuable space.


?#ElectricalEngineer
X#SouthYorkshireElectricalEngineers


Another rule is that you cannot include special characters or punctuation marks, like exclamation points or asterisks.

The last rule is more of a recommendation: Include only 1 or 2 hashtags, no more. Social media users often include an excessive amount of hashtags in their updates, to reach a wider audience.

It doesn’t work though, because tweets with more than two hashtags actually show a 17% drop in engagement. ( Rivaliq). Which one of the below tweets is easier to read, and looks more professional?


? Check out Sarah’s beautiful new #gelnails with some #nailart! Book your appointment today!
X Sarah has new #nails #gelpolishmanicure #gelnails #nailart at our #nailsalon #nailbar #beauty


Using hashtags on different social media platforms

Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag, and on Twitter hashtags are mainly used to indicate a specific topic of conversation. You can find popular hashtags, or ‘trends’, at the bottom of the Twitter search page.


Instagram

Instagram uses hashtags in a similar way; you can click on them to see what other people say about a particular topic. Instagram users use hashtags a lot! Unlike on Twitter, it’s OK to use multiple hashtags on Instagram, you have more space after all! Posts with 11 or more hashtags get the highest engagement on Instagram! ( Quicksprout)


Facebook and Google+

Facebook has supported hashtags since 2013, but people just aren’t using the function as much as they are on other social networks. Google+ has fully embraced hashtags, and also shows related hashtags in your search results.


Pinterest

You can include hashtags in Pinterest posts, but the search doesn’t support hashtags. When you search for #DIY in Pinterest, you get all the results that have the word “DIY” in the pin description, URL, photo name or product name. So it’s not necessary to include hashtags on Pinterest, just be sure to include keywords in the relevant places.


Choosing the right hashtags

We’d recommend you do a bit of research before posting, to find out what people are searching for. You want to make sure your update is found, so your hashtags need to hit the sweet spot between being too niche and being too generic.

Our favourite tool to find out hashtag popularity for Twitter is RiteTag, which also gives you inspiration for related hashtags. Take a look at the example below:

If we would add the hashtag #socialmedia in our tweet, we’d have to compete with 1,588 tweets per hour, and our update will be snowed under. However, if we add the suggested hashtag #socialmediamarketing, we are only competing with 104 other tweets. If the alternative hashtag is still relevant, it’s better to be more specific.

On Instagram and Facebook you can use the search bar to research hashtags. Just fill in the keyword with a # in front of it, like “#petshop” and search. On Instagram you can see the amount of times this hashtag has been used immediately. On Facebook you have to scroll down to find all posts that use this hashtag. If people use the hashtag reasonably often (at least every day), it will be worth adding it to your update.

Before posting to Google+ you can use their explore function to find related hashtags. We searched for #fitness, and found more inspiring hashtags that a gym or dietitian could use!

That’s all!

We hope you have a better idea of what hashtags are, how you can use them to engage with other social media users, and how you can research hashtag ideas. Until next time!

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The anatomy of a successful email marketing campaign

Email Marketing

The anatomy of a successful email marketing campaign

Why use email marketing?

Despite the advent of social media, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways for businesses to generate leads and sell their products and services online. According to recent research, 77% of consumers prefer to receive marketing communications via email, and a massive 91% of consumers check their inboxes at least once a day.

However, with an estimated 1.9 billion non-spam emails sent every single day, creating a successful email marketing campaign is not an easy task. You need just the right combination of great content and an eye-catching and intuitive layout to achieve a solid click-through rate for your campaign. Luckily, we’re here to teach you about the best practices for optimising your emails!


The elements of an effective email marketing message

While the factors that make an email marketing campaign successful vary from one business to another, there are a number of common elements that can help your message stand out from the crowd.


Trustworthy sender

No matter how good the content inside it is, the recipient isn’t even going to open your email if they don’t know who it’s from. Make sure both your ‘from address’ and ‘from name’ are clear and trustworthy. Use a branded, domain-specific email address rather than a generic, third party one to convey a professional image, for example, info@trendzer.com, not trendzer@hotmail.com. With the ‘from name’, you have a little more flexibility to be creative. Studies show that using an individual’s name as the sender can increase email open rates by 3 – 5%, so you should test different variations to see what works for you. Try combining a person’s name with the brand name for the best of both worlds.


Attention grabbing subject line

There’s probably going be a multitude of other marketing messages jostling for attention in the reader’s inbox. A compelling subject line is the only thing that can set you apart from your competitors. The email subject lines that make the greatest impact are clear, immediately understandable and directly address the reader’s concerns. We recommend experimenting with them to see what your audience responds to best. Effective techniques include:

  • Using action words like ‘Sale’, ‘Free Delivery’ and ‘Ends Today’ to instil a sense of urgency and excitement in the reader
  • Using numeric values like percentages to convey the value of your offer
  • Personalising the subject line to include the reader’s first name
  • Asking a question
  • Incorporating a timely, topical theme
  • Keeping it brief – subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long, especially if the reader is using a mobile device

Clever timing

Not only do you need to send great content, you need to be sending it at the right time in order to succeed. As with most marketing efforts, you need to do some testing to find out what works best for you, but sending your emails mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), during the middle of the day is a safe bet for most companies. MailChimp suggests 2pm as the optimal send time based on their extensive data. Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid Mondays, as people tend to be busier and suffering from the ‘back to work blues’. Similarly, most marketers avoid sending out emails at the weekend as people are more likely to be busy running errands or out having fun. However, this is not the case for all industries. Entertainment, hospitality and certain retail businesses could get great open rates for an email sent on a Friday or Saturday, as the reader may be looking to make plans for the weekend.


Consistent branding

Your email marketing campaigns must reflect your company’s branding in order to create a professional impression and give the reader the visual cues they need to quickly recognise who you are. Design an email template with your company’s branding, including your logo and corporate colours, so that you can keep the style of your messages consistent and quickly put together sleek campaigns in the future. Don’t forget to link your logo to your website’s homepage, and add follow buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google + and any of the other social networking sites you use to help increase your social media reach.


Optimised body content

The content of your email marketing campaign should clearly state what your offer is and, most importantly, why it’s valuable to the reader. For best results, stick to just one conversion goal per email – this could be attending an event, purchasing a product or enquiring about a service. Use simple, compelling language and keep it succinct to retain the audience’s attention. You should also ensure that the message is easy for the reader to scan, by using bullet points, pertinent headings and relevant professional images to break up the text and leaving plenty of white space.


Powerful Call to Action

Make it easy for the reader to act on your offer with a prominent call to action (CTA) button that links to your target landing page. Employ a concise phrase with imperatives to make it clear exactly what clicking the button will lead to, for example, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Get a Free Quote’ or ‘Read More’. Your CTA should be visually striking and differ significantly from the rest of your message so that it can immediately grab the reader’s attention. Place it in the top third of your email, so that it is visible ‘above the fold’ - the portion of a web page that you first see in your browser window without having to scroll down. For more advice on driving traffic to your website through email campaigns and other online marketing strategies, call Trendzer today on 0800 047 6777 to discuss our Search Engine Manager Service.

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The 10 best free SEO tools to help improve your website

Fat Rank

The 10 best free SEO tools to help improve your website

Do you need help optimising your website, but you’re not sure how to get started? There are a huge range of free resources out there that will give you advanced insights into your website performance.

Our Search Consultants have put their heads together, and we’ve drawn up this list of their favourite free SEO tools for you to use. And we’ve also provided SEO tips on what you should use each tool for.


10. Fat Rank

What it is: Chrome extension for rank checking

Review: Fat Rank gives you a quick and simple answer to where a site ranks for a chosen keyword (e.g. “cosmetic dentistry staffordshire”), if it features in the top 100 displayed

Pros: simple to install, easy-to-understand visual display

Cons: only available in Chrome, session report lost if you click away from window

Use if for: seeing how your site is performing on specific search terms, checking how your competitors are doing with their keywords

Get it here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/fat-rank


9. Hemingway App

What it is: online text analysis app

Summary: Hemingway helps you to keep your writing simple and to the point (like the work of the great man himself)

Pros: easy copy-paste utility and clear visual display of issues, allows you to edit text content in browser window and see instant results

Cons: text display bugs if too many words are pasted into window, requires decent understanding of grammar such as “passive voice” for full benefits

Use if for: making your content uncomplicated for online readers, backup grammar tests over and above Word documents and browser checkers

Get it here: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/


8. Open Site Explorer

What it is: online link analysis tool

Review: Open Site Explorer allows you to analyse a domain’s links metrics and now features a “Spam Score”

Pros: excellent review of internal and external links, “Spam Score” gives concise content analysis

Cons: features limited without subscription, tends to be quite technical in terminology, report is a sample as it doesn’t have the full indexing powers of search engines

Use if for: finding out who is linking to your website, detecting poor quality content, learning about competitor sites for link building

Get it here: https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/


7. Site Analyzer

What it is: online analysis tool

Rating: invaluable

Review: Site Analyzer gives a comprehensive multi-criterion review of potential optimisation areas

Pros: analyses multiple criterion including design and performance, looks at some customer experience issues like use of images

Cons: no feature to save or download your report, some results delivered in technical lingo that the average person may struggle to understand or change

Use if for: getting an idea of general areas for improvement, assessing user experience as well as SEO

Get it here: http://www.site-analyzer.com/


6. Small Seo Tools Plagiarism Checker

What it is: online duplicate content checker

Review: the Plagiarism Checker scans whatever text content you paste into it and detects any matching content on the internes

Pros: simple copy and paste tool with clear “Unique Content” percentage result, all flagged content can be easily checked by clicking a link

Cons: lots of spammy adverts with questionable SEO offers, occasional false reporting which requires a double check manually

Use if for: making sure that your content is not accidentally plagiarising someone else’s content and harming your rankings, checking that nobody is ripping off your copy

Get it here: http://smallseotools.com/plagiarism-checker/


5. Moz Bar

What it is: browser-based SEO toolbar (Chrome and Firefox)

Review: the Moz Bar gives you at-a-glance metrics information while you browse the web

Pros: quick analysis of any sites displayed in search results, deeper review of individual pages

Cons: daily usage limits without subscription, occasional variances in reporting

Use if for: finding out about your page and domain authority, tracking backlinks, viewing your social metrics

Get it here: https://moz.com/tools/seo-toolbar


4. Screaming Frog SEO Spider

What it is: downloadable website crawler

Review: the Screaming Frog SEO Spider will crawl a website and give you a breakdown of an incredible range of SEO issues from missing or poorly optimised meta tags to broken links

Pros: comprehensive analysis of most problems with HTML source, reliable SEO analytics for your entire site

Cons: slightly sluggish on slow machines, commands quite a lot of resources

Use if for: tweaking your on-page optimisation, comparing competitor websites, building XML sitemaps

Get it here: http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/#download


3. Keyword Planner

What it is: online keyword research tool

Review: Google’s Keyword Planner lets you look at what search terms people use when browsing online

Pros: shows results for your keyword ideas plus Google’s recommendations, allows you to print out a spreadsheet of the top choices

Cons: recently started requesting that you enter payment details to access, people regularly get lost amongst paid Ad Group information

Use if for: researching what terms people use to find your services, recording ideas for naming your pages and paragraphs

Get it here: https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/


2. Google Analytics

What it is: online analytics service for SEO

Review: Google Analytics tracks site visitors and customer behaviour, as well as tracking page quality and goal conversion

Pros: shows website data in helpful graphs and charts for easy understanding, allows you to block traffic which is distorting your data

Cons: some search data is restricted due to browser privacy settings, requires decent IT and office skills to set up and understand

Use if for: understanding where your traffic originates, assessing user engagement, comparing traffic over time

Get it here: https://www.google.com/analytics/web/


1. Google Webmaster Tools

What it is: online website maintenance service

Review: Google’s Webmaster Tools help you to monitor and maintain your online presence for Google search results

Pros: easy to discover if Google has any issues with your website, lots of ways to fix problems

Cons: may require some advanced knowledge to fully implement,

Use if for: submitting new content, maintaining your site, learning how Google and customers see your website

Get it here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/


Next up: using these tools for website optimisation

So, we’ve shown you a few of the best free tools to help you improve your website. We hope you find them helpful! Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at how you can use these free resources to make the most of your business website. Bookmark our blog page and we’ll see you soon…

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Sponsor of Telco Cloud World Forum 2016

telco

Sponsor of the Telco Cloud World Forum 2016

Telco Cloud World Forum 2016

In order to retain and grow their customer base, telcos need to keep up with advances in cloud technology. This is where the Telco Cloud Forum comes in. It is the world’s one and only cloud computing event for telcos and their channel partners. The 2016 Telco Cloud World Forum will be focusing on new ways to use cloud migration to help businesses achieve better processes and cost reduction.

Trendzer is delighted to be a premier sponsor at the Telco Cloud World Forum 2016. The sponsorship underpins our work with telecommunication partners to substantially grow their cloud revenues. As a platform for SMEs and a channel partner for telcos, we are excited to be at the hub of inspiration that is the Telco Cloud World Forum 2016.

If you are also attending the Telco Cloud World Forum, and want to set up a meeting, fill in the contact form on www.trendzer.io.

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Everything SMEs need to know about gamified content

gamification cogs

Everything SME’s need to know about gamified content marketing

For the past couple of years, gamified content has arguably been the most popular form of online marketing. At the same time, however, gamification is rarely discussed as a separate marketing tool – perhaps because it has become so common that internet users barely recognise it anymore. Surveys, quizzes, apps, even loyalty programs are forms of gamified content marketing. It’s both rather discrete as well as very powerful and engaging. That is why we believe it’s useful for all small and medium-sized enterprises to know a thing or two about the art of gaming.


What is gamification?

Gamification entails the application of game elements and principles in non-game contexts. It is generally employed to increase user engagement, but it can also have other purposes; such as education, evaluation and recruitment. Due to its engaging nature, gamification is increasingly often used for marketing purposes, by businesses in all sizes and from all sorts of industries. Many studies have revealed that gamification works well and generally has a positive influence on users.



Why you should gamify your content

Gamified content marketing offers some great advantages for both SME’s as well as their customers. The basic concepts of gamification are usually based on some type of reward system, which appeals to the human psyche. Depending on the type of marketing, gamified content generally:

  • Is very simplistic and easy to use
  • Appeals to a bigger audience
  • Motivates and rewards customers
  • Improves customer loyalty
  • Drives sales

For SME’s, gamified content is a powerful tool to engage customers in a playful way. It doesn’t require too much thought and time on the customer’s end, and can be very rewarding for both them as well as business owners.


Gamification in business

There are many types of gamified content that can be used as an online marketing tool. Some basic examples of online gamification include:

  • Apps
  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Contests
  • Mini games
  • Loyalty programs

Over the past decade, but specifically in the past few years, there have been some prime examples of businesses using gamified content. Whether it was to promote their products and services, engage existing customers or attract new customers: gamified content played a big role in reaching business goals.



America’s Army

One of the earliest and best known examples of gamification is the United States Army. Back in 2002, they released a video game called ‘America’s Army’, a very realistic video game aimed to attract new recruits. It is a free online game in which players play a character that has enrolled in the United States army. Players receive training on how to play the game and how to recognise enemies. Once the player has completed all the training missions, they can start playing online in simulated war missions. Basically, they get to experience working in the army from behind their computer screens. Newer versions of this “virtual army experience” have since been released and have led to an increase in applications for the national army.


NissanConnect

When Korean car manufacturer Nissan introduced their 100% electric car, the Nissan Leaf, they used gamified marketing to continuously enthuse consumers about their new car. They introduced the NissanConnect program (previously called CarWings), an app that not only helps drivers manage their vehicle, but also keeps track of the driver’s statistics: Leaf drivers can see how many miles they drive per kilowatt hour of energy, what their driver history looks like and what their charging status is. These can be compared to regional and worldwide rankings, with drivers receiving medals if they perform well. The app ensured exposure for Nissan and a boost in sales for the Nissan Leaf.


Pokémon Go

Japanese anime series Pokémon introduced one of the latest and best known gamified marketing efforts. In the summer of 2016, Pokémon released a much-anticipated augmented reality app that allows users to catch Pokémon characters and battle other users. It was reportedly downloaded more than 15 million times within its first week of release, prompting a worldwide Pokémon hype. Although promoted as a standalone game, Pokémon Go can be seen as highly effective gamified content marketing for the Pokémon franchise: it uses the world around us, a non-game environment, to apply gamified marketing.


Affordable gamification tactics for small businesses

The examples mentioned above are all big businesses deals, but that doesn’t mean gamified content cannot be applied by smaller businesses. UK businesses are known for having some of the biggest loyalty programs in the world, with systems used by both big multinationals as well as SME’s. Here are some examples of gamification tactics that can be used for businesses of all sizes:


Loyalty cards

Loyalty cards are one of the most affordable and therefore probably the most common form of gamified marketing. SME’s can provide their customers with loyalty cards that give them all sorts of discounts and other exclusive deals when they come back regularly. In return, businesses stimulate customer retention, receive customer information and are able to expand their database at a faster rate. It’s a win-win situation!



Contests and competitions

Who doesn’t like a contest every now and then? The anticipation of possibly winning free items works well as gamified content. Host competitions on social media or enter customers in contests after they’ve purchased one of your products or services. This is both an easy and effective strategy to attract new customers and keep them coming back.


Employee badges

Gamified content marketing isn’t limited to customers, it can be applied to employees as well. There are many affordable software programs available for employee recognition. Most of them work with badges or a similar reward system, which you can use to show staff you encourage and appreciate their hard work.


More on online content marketing

All in all, gamified content is worth looking into for SME’s in any type of industry. If you want to learn more about bespoke online content marketing, have a look at our other blog entries and check back in with us soon for a brand-new blog.

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The small business guide to Pay Per Click advertising

google adwords advert makeup brushes

The small business guide to Pay Per Click advertising

You’ve got your business website search engine optimised, but you’re not ranking in the first few search results of Google for your keywords. Sound familiar? In order to compete with large companies in search results, you should think about pay per click advertising!

Pay Per Click advertising (also called PPC) is a marketing model where you create adverts for your business website, and you pay a small fee each time your ad is clicked on. These advertisements are shown at the top and bottom of search engine results or on social media platforms.

One of the most attractive aspects of PPC advertising is that your ads are always relevant to the search query. They are only shown when the potential customer is searching for the keyword phrase you're advertising for. Another benefit is that pay per click search adverts are free to place, so when a visitor just views your advert, you don’t pay a thing. You only paywhen the potential customer clicks on the advert and is visiting your site.


Google AdWords

In this guide, we’ll focus on the most popular PPC platform out there, Google AdWords. As most people in the UK use Google to search, it’s the logical choice. You set up a free account using your Google login details and create an advert using AdWords. You can also let an agency or Trendzer do your PPC advertising for you.

If you’re not quite sure what a Google AdWords advert looks like, see the example below. Both the ‘Shop’ results and the top result in the normal search results are advertisements.


First steps: Your objective and landing page

The first thing you need to do is decide on your objective. What is the action you want visitors to take? The action could be something like “buy jewellery on sale” or “book initial consultation”.

Before setting up a campaign, you should set up a “landing page”. Rather than directing visitors to your homepage, you should create a page that visitors will land on once they click on the advert. This landing page should be tailored to the campaign and its keywords, as its sole purpose will be to entice people to take that specific action. So if the action is “book an intake appointment”, the landing page should just consist of a booking calendar and a short bit of text that urges the visitor to take action.


Setting up your campaign in AdWords

Now you know your objective and you have your landing page, it’s time to create the campaign in Google AdWords. Take a look at the AdWords basics on how to set up a campaign.


Setting budget and bids

Start with a healthy budget from day 1, and slowly increase it when you get conversions. The budget is your total monthly spend, and the bid is how much you are willing to pay for each click. If your maximum bid is £2 per click, Google will only show it to people if other companies aren’t bidding more on average. If other companies are paying less, Google won’t spend your maximum bid and you might end up paying less than £2 per click.


Target area

Next up is targeting the right area, because you only want to target the area you work in. For online shops, this might be the UK, but if you have a brick-and-mortar shop or service area, you should target a specific area. In this example, we’ve targeted Edinburgh.


Research the right keywords

As an example, we’ll take the action “book initial consultation” for a personal trainer. The first thing you’d do is put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What kind of words and sentences would they type into the search box to find your page?

  • Personal Trainer
  • Personal Training
  • Fitness Trainer
  • Certified Personal Trainer

Add these terms to the Keyword Planner and find out how many people search for these terms, and how expensive they would be to target per click.

You can also add negative keywords, which will help prevent your ads being displayed for a different target audience. For this example, we have added “jobs” and “vacancies” as negative keywords, as we don’t want to target people looking for personal trainer jobs.

Refine your keywords

Now it’s time to choose the right keywords to use in your ads and add them to your plan. You need to find the sweet spot between higher average monthly searches and low competition. In this case, we would probably target “personal trainer”, as it has many searches and medium competition. For a second ad we could target “certified personal trainer”, as it has a lower average searches but also low competition.


Writing your ad

Lastly, you write your ad. Make sure that it’s short, it includes your unique selling point and has a great call to action.

“Sign up now for a free 1-hour initial consultation with a Certified Personal Trainer in Edinburgh.”


Managing and optimising your campaign

Unlike with some other marketing efforts, with PPC advertising you can measure the results by using the reporting tools in Google AdWords. Look at your campaign results regularly and analyse the findings. You might find you need to change your budget because your over- or underspending or you might need to tailor your keywords.


So how can small businesses compete?

Basically every small business can benefit from creating pay-per-click adverts to build their web presence, but it does require some effort to do it right! There is a reason that SEO specialists are constantly researching the field and learning new things! The difficulties lie in identifying the right keywords, understanding your target market and constant management and optimisation.

If doing all of this sounds way too complicated, we can help you out! Your Dedicated Digital Expert can set up your paid search campaigns for you! Trendzer is one of the UK’s few Google Premier Partners, and with our know-how, we will help grow your business through pay per click advertising.

Read more information about our Paid Search bolt on!

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Small businesses and the growth of the digital industry

tech nation

Small businesses and the growth of the digital industry

This month, two very interesting reports came out, which we want to share with small and medium businesses. The first is the Tech Nation 2016 report, which looks at how the digital economy has grown between 2010 and 2014. The second report is from IDC, sponsored by SAP, and focuses on small and medium enterprises and the digital transformation. Keep on reading for a summary of the key findings and how they affects your business.


UK digital industry growing 32% faster than wider economy

Tech City UK, in partnership with Nesta, has conducted one of the most comprehensive research projects on the digital economy in the UK. The Tech Nation 2016 report goes into how the digital tech economy has grown, zooming in on the UK’s digital technology ‘clusters’.

There are 58,000 digital tech businesses across the UK, and they have grown 32% faster than the rest of the economy over the period of 2010-2014. The largest sub-sector in the UK is app and software development, which makes up 16.7% of the market. The report shows that there are some exciting new digital sub-sectors developing in the UK, like Edtech, Fintech and Healthtech.

Non-tech sectors are becoming more digital as well. The frontrunner of these ‘traditional’ sub-sectors, is the marketing, PR and design sector, of which 45% have now have become digital tech businesses.


Jobs in the digital tech industry

The digital tech economy is transforming non-digital industries, like wholesale and retail, to become more digital. Of the 1.56 million digital tech jobs, 41% are within traditional industries. An example of a job like this is an e-commerce software developer at a clothing retailer. 

Tech Nation 2016, February 2016. Tech City, in partnership with Nesta.

From 2011 to 2014, job creation in the digital economy grew with 11.2% - which is almost three times faster than the rest of the economy.

And it’s definitely not just London where all this happens. 80% of these digital jobs are found outside of London, with the biggest tech clusters in Manchester, Birmingham, Reading & Bracknell, and Bristol & Bath.


Challenges the digital industry faces

The report also highlights some of the challenges that the UK is still facing. The demand for digital talent shows no signs of slowing down. The average advertised salary is at £50,000, which is 36% higher than the national average. 43% of digital entrepreneurs stated that they have difficulties finding skilled digital workers.

The report also mentions that the financial aspect is still a big challenge for many businesses. 39% of the entrepreneurs state that they face difficulties as a result of limited access to finance.

With high-sped connectivity a main priority for many digital tech businesses, unevenly distributed broadband services still cause many issues. 28% of digital tech businesses report that they find the digital infrastructure a challenge.


SMEs in digital industry

Now how does all this apply to your business? Another study that came out this month focuses on how small and midsize enterprises are adapting to digital transformation. The report by IDC, sponsored by SAP has compared the data of 3,210 SMEs, varying between 10 and 999 employees. It looks at how collaborative and management software, e-commerce and cloud computing can help SMEs grow.

As a main result of the research, we learn that SMEs embracing digital technology show faster revenue growth than companies that have not. Over half of fast-growing SMEs are actively engaged with digital transformation.

Thriving in the Digital Economy, February 2016. IDC, sponsored by SAP.

An interesting result from the report shows us that especially smaller companies underestimate their digital transformation progress. They don’t always realise that collaboration software, e-commerce and other resources are part of it. Conversely, midsize companies often overestimate their digital efforts.

Faster growing businesses are more positive about the benefits of digital transformation. New technology makes it easier for smaller businesses to compete with larger firms. Performance measuring tools, like your Trendzer analytics dashboard or social media data, provide you with unique customer insights.


Digital transformation guidance for small businesses

The report ends with some great advice for small businesses that are cautiously moving towards digital transformation:

  • Find out how your business is doing compared to industry standard practices. In what aspects can you develop?
  • Can the addition of new software or other resources improve your processes? The study advises to tap into IT partners who can identify ways to help your business run simpler, for both yourself and your customers.

Trendzer transforms small businesses

Trendzer’s goal is to make digital transformation easier for small businesses. Instead of having a website, separate e-commerce software, and a different analytics site – we integrate all these technologies and more into our easy-to-manage dashboard. When you get a Trendzer website package, not only do you get access to the most up-to-date digital technology, our Digital Experts give you unlimited support and a free 12-weekly site review.


Do you want to know more about the technical features we offer with our website packages? Phone us on 0800 047 6777.


Sources:
Tech Nation 2016, February 2016. Tech City, in partnership with Nesta.
Thriving in the Digital Economy, February 2016. IDC, sponsored by SAP.

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6 Website logo design mistakes small businesses should avoid

drivingschool

6 website logo design mistakes small businesses should avoid

Logos aren’t magic, a great logo isn’t going to skyrocket your company to fame. It wasn’t the amazing swoosh that made Nike so large, but having a recognisable logo that works definitely helped with their fame. A well-designed, attractive logo will make your business look professional and memorable.

This article will take you through the 6 most common logo design mistakes small businesses can make. We show you some examples of businesses doing it wrong and doing it right.


Logo design mistake #1: creating your own logo

Unless you’re a wizard with Adobe Illustrator, you should really hire a professional to design your logo. It’s a small investment, but one that will last you a lifetime. It will show your customers that your business is professional and trustworthy.


Examples

Both these logos represent driving schools, and both have made the obvious choice of putting a car in their logo. Yet, it’s clear to see that only one has been designed by a professional! Which driving school would you send your child to?






Logo design mistake #2: raster graphic instead of a vector graphic

Now this one is a little more technical, but shouldn’t be a problem if you hire a professional to design your logo. An illustrated logo should always be a vector graphic; not a raster graphic.

A raster graphic is made out of hundreds of tiny squares: pixels. When you enlarge a raster image, it will look blurry and pixelated. A vector graphic uses paths, with a start and end point, along with curves, lines and other points. When enlarged, a vector graphic uses maths to enlarge these points, lines and curves, which ensures the image stays smooth and clean.

Vector logos are scalable, and it’s easy to readjust the size for whatever purpose you have for them. It’s common practice that your vector logo is rasterised after being sized to the required dimensions for your website. You will want to ask your designer for the original vector files for print purposes. After all, if you want your logo printed on a large banner for a trade show, it’s vital it doesn’t look like picture on the left!

Wikipedia

Logo design mistake #3: too much going on

It’s understandable that you’ll want to put a lot of ideas into your logo, but simplicity is key here. Your customers will find it easier to understand a logo with one idea, rather than a logo that captures all your services, company motto and your personality. Another reason to keep it simple is that you might want to print your logo on business cards, company clothing or banners. A simple logo is easier and cheaper to print.


Examples:

Both these food festivals have incorporated the idea of eating food and drinking wine at a festival in their logos. However, one of them has tried to incorporate too many elements, making it look cluttered and chaotic.







Logo design mistake #4: too abstract

If you can get your logo to show immediately what it is your business does, then you have a good logo. As we said in the previous section, too many elements in your logo can be chaotic. However, if your logo doesn’t describe your business at all, it will be bland and forgettable.


Examples:

Both these companies fix garage doors, but I bet you could only guess that from one of the logos!






Logo design mistake #5: trendy design

There is always a new design trend on the horizon, and while it might be tempting to jump on the bandwagon, a logo like that will not last you a lifetime. For small businesses, it’s best practice to keep your logo simple and timeless. Unlike multinationals, you won’t have a big budget that allows you to redesign your logo every five years.


Examples:

In the 80’s, the logo on the left was a modern and slick-looking logo. Nowadays, if you spot logo with this neon style you’d think it is outdated or a logo for a retro nightclub! You might find that the design on the right looks quite modern, with the cross and its hipster design. What if we told you it’s been done a thousand times already? In 5 years’ time, the design on the right will look just as dated as the one on the left.







Logo design mistake #6: stock art and unoriginal design

This is a mistake often made by amateur designers or business owners who have a go at design themselves. When you download vector images from a stock website, you have to make sure you know about the copyright rules. You could potentially get in trouble if you to incorporate stock imagery in your logo. The other reason you don’t want stock images or an unoriginal design is that your logo will look uninspired and won’t stand out in the crowd.


Examples:

Have a look at the logos below. They’re all green, swirly and could represent a flame. So going by their logos, these businesses do something “green” with gas. Good symbolism there, but do realise that these businesses are probably competitors, and all their logos look the same!






Want us to design your logo?

When you buy a website package with Trendzer, included in that is a brand new logo designed by our professionals. On top of that we make sure the logo in incorporated seamlessly within your website design. Give us a call on 0800 047 6777 to chat about the possibilities!

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Getting the most out of a SharePoint intranet

Working From Home Statistic

Getting the most out of a SharePoint intranet

If you’ve worked in an office environment for any length of time, you’ll have used something like an intranet. These private networks of information can be a key focal point for internal communication and collaboration.

Some still call these structures “intranets”, while others say the classic intranet has evolved into a “digital workplace”. Whatever you prefer to call it, businesses of all sizes are shifting working practices in new directions, and shareable private online networks are crucial to these changes.

With as many as nine in ten UK businesses relying on employees who work from home, a cloud-based intranet is increasingly important. That’s why we’ve put together some of the main advantages that you can expect to enjoy from an effective digital workplace:


5 benefits of a well-made intranet

There are a wide variety of ways that your enterprise can benefit from a well-structured intranet with cloud-based storage. As the world of work continues to evolve, have you considered that you could profit in any of the following five ways?


1. Increase workforce productivity with more flexible access solutions

Improve productivity by allowing any employees to access all the information that you wish at any time. With a browser interface, employees can potentially access important documents from home or even on their commute.

Your employees can potentially review projects by logging in during the evening, or scrutinise vital documents even during a household or family emergency that requires them to be out of office. This impressive degree of flexibility can help staff with shifting circumstances and changing lives.

FreeImages.com: Sebastian Schaeffer / Stat: TechWeekEurope UK

The upshot therefore includes reduced employee churn, which necessarily leads to less resource allocation on training, project re-assignment, and customer churn. And that means greater productivity and results.


2. Improve enterprise collaboration for teams and projects

A cloud-based intranet is a great place for employees to collaborate. Many workplaces still use email and shared network drives as the primary tool for working jointly, but a resource like SharePoint offers a huge range of options to improve collaboration in your business. These choices include:

  • Dedicated team sites and project sites
  • Instant messaging
  • Knowledge and resource sharing

You can also enjoy greater document control, with the capacity for online editing of one core document, where the classic alternative could be an email thread with multiple overlapping responses on edits or solutions. With one document in one place, all thoughts are gathered cohesively.

FreeImages.com: Julia Freeman-Woolpert / Stat: Insight

As document owners therefore spend less time sifting through email and internal messaging threads, or shared drives, they can produce conclusive drafts more effectively. And as the superior focus that online editing affords, the finished article should feature the wisdom of all contributors.


3. Establish corporate culture and promote engagement

Everyone has the ability to access common promotional materials on your company intranet as well as process documentation and the like. As well as providing a determined strategic focus, the sense of inclusion that can come from being included in shared intranet projects and collaborations can drive real employee engagement.

There’s even the potential to create real enjoyment in work, if the intranet can be used as a place to share positive information. This could be any number of things, including:

  • Birthday wishes
  • Employee success stories
  • Humour (“SFW”, of course!)
  • Good news (individual, team, or company)
  • Employee polls

A key part of this is making sure the intranet space reflects the key ethos of your company. If you can pull this off and keep your sites engaging, you’re on your way to a better “IRL” workplace.


4. Increase efficiency with web publishing

Keep and update key employee literature in a shared online space and you can reduce overheads relating to paper printouts. Even better, you can edit handbooks and contact lists in real-time and have an updated document that is instantly accessible to all.

This gives your employees a wealth of business information at their disposal, and it is all accessible without emailing so-and-so in HR or going to see such-and-such in Business Process. You can web publish a wide range of documents, including:

  • Staff handbooks
  • Company policies
  • Health and Safety documentation
  • Information on benefits
  • Internal job listings
  • Historical data
  • Price lists
  • Competitor research
  • Customer service data

Whether you populate your system with forms that can be filled out online or choose to have downloadable PDFs or .doc files, the potential savings on print waste are terrific. Plus the potential for increased engagement can help reduce employee churn with the inherent savings and efficiencies that entails.

FreeImages.com: Duane Jones / Stat: HR Review


5. Sharing resources without disrupting people’s day

Have you ever been working on a fairly urgent project when an email lands in your inbox that looks like it could be important? Only, once you’ve stopped, saved, and opened the email; it turns out to be some kind of resource that may be helpful some time next week. And by the time you return to the urgent project, you’ve lost your mojo.

Well, by sharing resources on a communal intranet, you can potentially save members of your project the trouble of distraction. Simply upload the relevant documents and then share the link when the project is approaching, or leave the documents to be read in their own good time.

Reduced distractions means greater productivity across the board for all contributors. So, by building a team site that allows non-urgent sharing alongside inbuilt scheduling features like below, you can create a space that helps your employees to work with focus and structure.


A good intranet = working smarter

Creating project and team sites on a shared intranet can be an invaluable way of driving employee engagement and increased efficiency. And SharePoint is the world’s most popular intranet software, with around 50% of all intranets developed using Microsoft’s application.

Part of the hugely popular Office 365 package, which includes Skype for Business and Office Web Apps, SharePoint can provide an in-built intranet solution. With more and more UK SMBs finding cloud-based applications essential, it could be a simple solution for the large market share that use “O365”.


Need a SharePoint specialist?

At Trendzer, part of our service wrap includes Office 365 activation services that help your organisation set up to SharePoint sites and more. If you are considering either buying Office 365 or setting up an enterprise intranet, contact us for expert assistance.

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The SEO strategy for SMEs: long tail keywords

keyword graph

The SEO strategy for SMEs: long tail keywords

It’s becoming harder and harder for your website to be found in search engines. More companies are spending money on SEO and search advertising, and Google is giving ads more space on the results pages.

In order to compete as a small or medium-sized business, you may need to change your SEO strategy: stop focusing on competitive search terms and embrace the long tail keyword. Keep on reading to find out what a long tail keyword is and how you can optimise your site using them.


What is a long tail keyword?

The term long tail keyword has nothing to do with the length of the keyword phrase, but it’s based on the search demand curve, as illustrated in the graph below. The most frequently used search terms are head terms; keywords with 1 or 2 words, like “shoes”. There are millions of searches each month for them, and the competition for these search terms is extremely high.

When you go down in the curve towards the "chunky middle", you’ll see the search queries are becoming more specific, but still broad enough to get 10,000s of searches each month. The long tail keywords are at the tail end of the curve. These are keyword phrases with longer strings of words that are so specific they get very few searches each month.


Why focus on long tail keywords?

It's important to point out that when you're targeting phrases in the long tail, the search volume for each individual query will be low, but the combination of many variations together amount to a high volume and lucrative pot.

Many companies focus on the head terms of their business as that is what they do or sell. For example, an online fashion store might optimise their site for the search term “shoes”. Long tail keywords are often ignored by the big companies, because they prefer to focus on these head terms. As a smaller business, it’s not a smart idea to concentrate on head terms because there are a few problems with it!


Competition

All businesses want to be found on those terms. This makes it harder for smaller businesses to compete with the large companies who have the money and SEO specialists working all day every day to rank high for these terms.


Advertisements

Google has recently added another advert to the top of the search results, now showing you four advertisements. They’ve also expanded the text for ads on mobile. These changes make organic search results even less prominent on the results page.


Sales conversion

Head terms are very generic and don’t convert sales as well as long tail keywords. When a customer searches for “red leather shoes”, they’re most likely just browsing for inspiration. These customers are only at the start of their ‘online buying journey’. When a customer searches for “red patent leather mary-jane shoes online shop UK”, they’ve finished gathering information and are now looking to complete their buying journey.

By focusing on long tail keywords, you’re avoiding direct competition with large companies. You have no advertisements to worry about, and you’re targeting customers who are ready to make the sale. Very few people are searching for that one long tail search query, so you have to create landing pages for different long tail keyword phrases. With this strategy, you’re ready to pick up all the breadcrumbs left by the large companies!


How can I be found with long tail search terms?

You’ll need to get your hands dirty with some SEO work to optimise your pages for long tail keywords. First of all, you shouldn’t just focus on one long tail search term. Instead, identify a subject or a concept that is quite specific and niche, and aim to target groups of long tail keywords that are relevant to it.

With an e-commerce website you can achieve this by labelling and describing your products on the different product pages. Make sure you don’t have more than sub-sub-categories at the very deepest. See our example below:

  • Women’s shoes
    • Sandals
    • Sneakers
    • Heels
      • Court
      • Platform
      • Mary-Jane

If you provide services rather than products, you could introduce a separate landing page for your long tail phrase. As a nail salon, you might have a sub-page for the keyword phrase “Nail salon vouchers in Glasgow”. Make sure to add in variations of the keyword throughout the content. How you can find these variations, you’ll read below.

2. Get inspired
It’s very helpful to use keyword tools to find out more potential long keyword phrases. These are some of the keyword tools we use: Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Übersuggest and Keywordtool.io. Just fill in your keyword and you can find out more potential long keyword phrases.

You can also look at what people have searched for before, by using the Google Suggest tool. In the below example, you see that “UK” is a good addition to our phrase, and “red leather boots” might be another keyword phrase we could focus on. Note these keyword phrases in your document.

3. Write creatively

Open your file with the list of keyword phrases you’ve found that help describe your product or service. As an example, we’ve added some additional keywords that could further describe our “red patent leather mary-jane shoes”:

  • Cheap
  • UK
  • Online shop
  • Burgundy
  • Quality
  • Chunky heel

With your list at the ready you can now write the SEO-optimised content for your landing page. The title of your page should include your main keyword phrase. Throughout the body of the text you want to incorporate your list of additional keywords.


Don’t stuff keywords and terms, this makes a text very hard to read and the quality of the writing in itself is an important ranking factor for Google. Use your keywords in a natural way, describing the product/service as if you were selling it to a customer face-to-face.

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Best free SEO tools 5: better meta tags with Screaming Frog

One Meta description and title

Best free SEO tools #5: better meta tags with Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider

SEO isn’t a mystery: it’s more like the virtual equivalent of good housekeeping or car maintenance. And if we extend that idea, we’d have to say that optimised meta tags are like making sure you empty your vacuum cleaner or oil your engine: not a key daily task but things will go more smoothly if you do.

Today, we walk you through an easy way to touch up your title tags. By using an SEO Spider, which you can download free from creators Screaming Frog’s website, you can streamline your online marketing efforts.

We’ll even walk you through some processes and explain best practise basics. So, bookmark this page for future reference and then we’ll get started...


What are meta tags?

If you are like many small business owners, then you may be thinking “what is a meta tag”? Well, the easiest way to describe them is “instructions for search engines that you’ll see in search results”. The title tag is the blue area at the top of each result, while the description tag is what appears underneath.

“Why are they important?” we hear you cry. Well, the title is one of the most significant pieces of information that search engines consider when assessing what a page is about. Getting them wrong is about the worst start that you can make, apart from having a page that is either empty or has poor quality content.

As for the meta description: Google has stated for some time now that meta descriptions have no impact on page ranking. But that’s only if you take a very narrow view of the whole concept. Here’s a fact: search engines assess sites largely on user engagement, which is partly based on the number of “clicks” through to the site.

So you can draw an instant logical correlation: if your meta descriptions are poor or misleading, then you could lose clicks and therefore lose traffic and credibility in the eyes of search engines.


Meta tag best practice

If you want to make the most of your meta tags, then you should consider the following guidelines:

  • Meta titles should ideally fit within a limit of 482 pixels to ensure that they aren’t truncated by Google
  • Meta descriptions should ideally be no longer than 155 characters for SERP displays on desktop computers
  • This number drops from 155 to about 117 if you want your search results to be fully visible on smartphones as well

So you need to figure out if your potential customers often use mobile devices when searching for services like yours. You can find this by using Google Analytics. Follow the steps below to see if your home page has many visitors who use smartphones.

  1. Log in to Google Analytics
  2. Go to the All Web Site Data view for your Property
  3. Click on this link to a Desktop versus Mobile Audience Dashboard
  4. Check your Mobile/Tablet figures and decide if you have enough traffic to justify optimising for smartphone displays

You should also consider how the shape of internet browsing is changing. Google did research in 2013 that suggested more and more people shop online using multiple devices. They might research a purchase on the bus home, but then carry out the transaction on their desktop before supper. It’s really up to you how you want to optimise your site.


Using a meta tag analyser

On to business: how do we use Screaming Frog to optimise your meta tags? Firstly, you need to paste your URL into the field marked “Enter URL to spider” and then hit “Start”. You’ll soon see the results of the crawl appearing in the upper half of the display.

As noted, there are many different views and applications for the SEO Spider, but what we want to focus on right now is meta tags. That means looking at the following areas of the display:

  • Page Titles
  • Meta Description
  • SERP Snippet

You can see these areas highlighted on the picture below. Please note that your display may look slightly different as ours was adjusted for better image quality, but you should get the idea.

In the right-hand panel of your screen, you’ll be able to see a number of statuses under each particular SEO element. The main ones we want to focus on today are:

  • Page Titles – Over 482 Pixels, Below 30 Characters
  • Meta Descriptions – Over 156 Characters, Below 30 Characters
  • Both – Missing or Duplicate

Now, highlight one of these problem areas like we have below. In this case, we’re looking at a Page Title with “Over 482 Pixels”. If we then click first on one of the offending pages, then on the SERP Snippet tab, what we get is a little preview of the problem area.

FYI – SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, which is why the “snippet” looks like a Google search result. It gives you a little preview of what that page would look like online. Note that in the image above, the meta title (or page title) has been cut off and finishes “…”

This is not a disaster, but it does leave an incomplete message, which means you could miss out on displaying vital information. If you scroll to the right, you can see a breakdown of the two elements “Title” and “Description” and whether they are truncated (cut off) or still have characters remaining.

If you now scroll left and then down to below the SERP Snippet, you will see some fields that contain a copy of your title and description tags…

Here comes the great part: you can edit the entry within Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider interface until you get a satisfactory result, as below. Then simply copy the new and improved tag into your CMS and you’re ready to go!

SEO-friendly meta tags: a quick guide

To get a good idea of what makes up a good meta description, check out our blog article on writing better meta descriptions for your website. It demonstrates neatly which key components should be included.

In terms of titles, we are currently recommending that you follow the tongue-in-cheek guidelines below, based largely on how Google currently re-writes titles that aren’t optimised.

Home Page Title -
Businessy Business: Doing Stuff | Place, UK
Businessy Business: Doing Stuff | Place, UK
Other Page Titles -
Stuff Services | Place | Businessy Business UK
Stuff Services | Place | Businessy Business UK
The most important considerations are to ensure that you get all relevant information for each page into your title, and then reflect that info in a well-written description. Complete examples of title and description tags would be as follows.

Home Page

Title –

Businessy Business: Doing Stuff | Place, UK

Description –

Based in Place, Businessy Business are just super at doing stuff. Call us on 01234 567 890 for a free quotation.

Other Pages

Title –

Stuff Services | Place | Businessy Business UK
Stuff Services | Place | Businessy Business UK

Description –

Businessy Business provide qualified stuff services in Place. Contact us on 01234 567 890 for a free no-obligation quote.

As you can see in the descriptions, each of the items in bold represents a key item from the page title, while the parts in italics are areas mentioned in our meta descriptions blog article:

  • Call to action (“Call us”)
  • Contact details (phone number)
  • Unique selling point (“free quotation”)

Just remember – don’t duplicate title or description tags as you’re basically telling search engines and the people who use them that you have exactly the same information on each page! As we have said before about page content, duplication of content is typically a bad idea.

So, with the guidelines above and a little help from the outstanding SEO Spider tool, you can have optimised title tags across your business website in no time! Bookmark our blog page and then come back in future weeks when we’ll have more handy info to share.

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Simple site optimisation for beginners - part 1

Your unmaintained website in six months

Simple site optimisation for beginners – part 1

So, you’ve got a website, but you’d like to make sure it’s doing the right job for you. Luckily, the Trendzer team are here to point you in the right direction. If you follow the three guidelines listed below for your web pages, you should have the beginnings of a well-structured website.


1. Everything in its right place

Imagine you open a newspaper and find every single story for that day under one headline, “News”. You’d find that to be a remarkably confusing and annoying experience. Chances are, you’d sling the paper in the bin and reach for a competitor or an online news service that keeps its stories in distinct sections.

Well, throwing all the different types of work that you do under one heading of “Services” is a lot like that one-headline newspaper. Anyone who visits your site can’t scan quickly to pick out the service they want easily: they have to spend their valuable time sifting through a mass of words to find what they want. You run a risk of losing a potential customer.

Top tip: Give every service or product a page of its own for best results with search engines like Google.


2. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Super Simple

When we say “Keep It Super Simple”, what we mean is this: if a page advertises your company’s products or services, make sure it clearly tells your visitor what you do, and how to get that from you. This will help with what marketing types call “ conversion”, or “turning a potential customer into a buyer”.

Ask a friend who doesn’t know your business well to visit your site as an imaginary customer. Get them to look around and see if they start to understand what you do or how they can employ your services. If they have trouble explaining either, then your site may be set up in a confusing or unhelpful way. Although the best-case scenario is that your friend is just not the sharpest tool in the box!

Top tip: finish every page with a “Call to Action” like “Contact us on 0131 555 5555 for delicious chocolatey biscuits”* to drive conversion.

(*but don’t use “delicious chocolatey biscuits” unless you actually sell them!)


3. Keep it clean, too

Your website is basically a virtual shopfront. You’ll need to take part in a small amount of housekeeping to make sure that it doesn’t make your business look outdated or shabby. There are a number of indicators that your website may not be the freshest, including:

  • References to old events
  • Links that don’t lead anywhere
  • Broken image links
  • Special offers that have expired

These can have a direct impact on your site optimisation and page rankings. One of the reasons that Google rates sites with fresh content is that a site with regular updates clearly belongs to an active and successful business. But if your site is outdated, has old signage and special offers, and doesn’t work properly, then your business might appear to be defunct to both people and search engines. This is bad news.

Top tip: keeping a blog on your site ensures your content stays fresh – more on blogs another time…


Your unmaintained website in six months

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Restaurant marketing ideas: content, social & more!

Restaurant marketing ideas

Restaurant marketing ideas: content, social & more!

You’ll no doubt be aware that the restaurant game is constantly changing. There are probably more ways than ever to attract new customers, but also more competition as well.

That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide for our beloved clients who are facing off against restaurant chains and supermarket meal deals. We hope you find something that will help you compete and succeed!


6 content and marketing ideas for restaurants

Take a look at the following six ideas for how you can market your restaurant to gain new customers and see more of your existing ones. There’s a variety of ideas that cover content, social media and general marketing; so there should be something for you. And why six? Why not!


1. Consider your content

First off, don’t hide your food menu from search engines. Too many restaurant owners opt for the convenience of uploading a picture of their menu or attaching a PDF document.

Unfortunately, search engines don’t process visual information like we do. They will typically only index two significant text references for an image: the file name and any alt-text.

PDFs do get indexed in full, but as you are unlikely to have written web-optimised structure for the document. As it’s a distinct web entity from your (hopefully) well-structured page, references to your location and your foods won’t necessarily be recognised.

That’s why you should ideally put your staple menu favourites and their delicious descriptions on your site. Then if someone searches for “steak restaurant” in your location, and your kitchen serves steaks, search engines will hopefully have indexed the relevant words on your site, meaning an increased chance of displaying in the customer’s search results.

Top tip: think about the human touch as well – if you can post pictures of your happy staff on your website and social media, it helps with customer identification.


2. Get down with directories

Love them or hate them, you’ll no doubt be aware that restaurant directories are here to stay. And with Google’s July 2015 update, it is also apparent that the search engine giant is returning to a model that favours third-party directory reviews.

Dishing the dirt on directories (source)

26% of smartphone users access directory apps to find new local restaurants
21% use directories when away from home
30% use directories for convenience

So, if you want tourists or new customers to find your restaurant in local and map-based searches, you’d do well to make sure that you’re registered with all the right websites. Put your business on the map by registering with authoritative hospitality directories such as:

NB We don’t recommend engaging in any of the premium offerings of these sites. It should be enough to register for free and add a profile link to your website.

Top tip: if you want to really get on the map, Google a successful rival’s NAP (Name, Address & Phone) and see what directories they are registered on – it may provide invaluable insights on niche local food directories or even regional food bloggers who you can invite over for dinner!


3. Own your online presence

It’s a sad fact of life (and sometimes a harsh one) that people can review your restaurant whether you choose to register yourself online or not. And yes, there are people out there who are professional complainers.

You probably have your own strategy for dealing with such types in the real world. As a recommendation, you should consider keeping an eye on your social media and directory profiles to ensure that somebody isn’t grinding their axe online too.

Of course, it’s entirely up to each business how they respond to criticism, and this writer has known of hugely successful Edinburgh restauranteurs who have reacted to one-star reviews with glee. But oftentimes, a genuine offer of reconciliation or an unfailingly polite statement of your point of view is enough to make people think twice about complaints.

Stats on service and social ( source)

A good customer experience on social will be told to 42 people
A bad customer experience on social will be told to 53 people
Only 36% of people who raised customer service issues on social media report a quick and effective resolution

Top tip: set up a Google Alert based on your business name, and you will be notified whenever a reference to your restaurant is made online.


4. Imagery for foodies

The Great British Bake Off, Great British Menu, the ceaseless tsunami of Facebook and Instagram pics of people’s dinner: there’s no shortage of evidence that “food porn” is heavily embedded in the consciousness of our nation.

So, it makes a whole bundle of sense to tap in to people’s somewhat bizarre urge for digesting food in purely digital form by serving up what they crave. Uploading quality pictures of your top dishes is not as easy as it sounds – smartphone pictures are no substitute for professional photography – but with a few tweaks you should be able to stir the imagination.

There’s no shortage of imagery driven sites and social media outlets that are just waiting for your inedible images of food. If you have the time (or a social-media-obsessed member of staff who can be bribed into doing it on your behalf), then consider the following networks:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

You should also be generous with your images on-site, alongside those text menus that we insisted you include as part of our first tip. Fabulous food pics will help add some substance to your price lists, while whetting the appetite of your website visitors.

Food porn facts

In 2012, 57% of Pinterest users interacted with food-related images. Food is still one of the most popular categories, particularly on a Sunday.
The Great British Bake Off series 6 kicked off being watched by 43% of the UK TV viewing public. What is wrong with you people? (Ed – opinion is writer’s own)
“Fruit and veggies are still getting the shaft” says Bolthouse Farms on their Food Porn Index. There have been 185.8 million food hashtags on Twitter and Instagram over the last 3 months, but only 34.1% are healthy. What is wrong with… oh, never mind!

Top tip: search for “smartphone camera tips and tricks” before you start snapping shots, and use an app like Trendzer’s Aviary photo editor or Picmonkey to deliver a polished picture.


5. Reward loyalty with a programme

As any restauranteur worth their coarse ground sea salt will know, discounting can often fill your seats but put pressure on profit margins and customer service. If you want to encourage customers to come to your restaurant more often, why not start with the ones who are already there?

A loyalty programme is a great way to say “thanks for stopping by” while encouraging a return visit later. Whether you’re going with an Old Skool card-and-stamp system, or one of the cutting edge loyalty apps like Loyalzoo or its competitors, people like being rewarded for repeat custom.

If your restaurant is more high-end, you may be reluctant to offer a loyalty card as your customers probably don’t care about price. But there may still be room to increase lunchtime business trade or a traditionally slow month with a selective card.

Loyalty lowdown

71% of UK customers are more likely to return if offered a loyalty scheme
65% would download an app to access special offers
80% would return to benefit from loyalty schemes

Top tip: consider offering a scaled loyalty programme so that loyalty is genuinely recognised as each card is completed, e.g. Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum cards with increasingly impressive rewards.


6. Engage with email: monthly newsletters

Running a restaurant means you don’t have time to spend your entire life in front of a computer: we do understand that. But while social media promotion is de rigeur, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t overlook a classic – and less time-consuming – alternative.

Email marketing is made remarkably simple with handy campaign management tools such as MailChimp. You can craft a basic template branded with your logo and details in no more time than it takes to set up a social media account.

Once that’s done, sending out an email campaign even just once a month is a great way to highlight special offers, promote new seasonal menus, or wish your loyal customers a happy holiday season.

Top tip: an easy way to gain willing subscribers is to offer a monthly prize draw in exchange for business cards or email addresses – just make sure that you explicitly state that you will be contacting them via email in exchange for their details. It’s the law!


Until next time…

That’s all for now. Hopefully, you’ve found some useful ideas that you can put into practice. And if you need more ideas on online marketing, bookmark our blog page and follow us on social media.

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Prepare your online shop for this Christmas season

christmas ecommerce statistics

Prepare your online shop for this Christmas season

Christmas is nearly upon us, and as you will be aware as an online shop owner, it’s crucial to make sales this season. The way consumers are influenced to buy products is constantly changing, as is the way they search for products to buy. In this article, we will go over the main ways you can optimise your online shop for the 2016 holiday season.

The basics

Before we focus on how to optimise your site for the holidays, we need to make sure that your basics are in order. So here is a quick checklist for your online shop.

  • SEO: If your site is on page 10 of search results in Google, how is anyone going to you’re your products? By doing SEO, you’ll optimise your site for search engines. Start by doing keyword research and check that your metadata, site content and page titles have the keywords that people search for.
  • Active social media: it’s free and it works. Market your products and business on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. It’s no use just having a social page and not using it though. You need to get followers and post interesting content that your fans like and maybe even share.
  • Clear and captivating categories: Just like Goldilocks, you’ll want not too many product categories, but not too little either. Your customers expect to see just the right amount of categories, guiding them to where they can find the product they’re looking for.
  • Inspiring images: Consumers nowadays expect multiple, high quality images of products when buying online. Make sure your photos show varied angles, that you’re using effective lighting and that all your photos have a consistent style.

Holiday-themed landing page

Get visitors in the mood to buy Christmas presents by updating your landing page with some Christmas flair. You could ask your designer to update your header image, create snowflakes on your site or to create a Christmas version of your logo. More importantly though, is the content of your landing page. Make sure that everything online shoppers want to see during this season is visible above the fold. Include helpful information, like a shipping table for Christmas deliveries and a dedicated category with the most popular items for the holidays. If you’re doing anything special, like bulk discounts, make sure that you show this clearly.

As an example, this is the homepage of St Eval Candle Company. They have added a dedicated Christmas page as the third page in their navigation menu, showing that, at the moment this is their most important service page. The image slider on their homepage is also updated for the season, as it’s showing options for Christmas-themed candles.


Advertise in the right areas

With ad blockers becoming more mainstream, banner ads and pop ups are increasingly less effective. You should think about investing in advertising that cannot easily be blocked, like social media and Google AdWords. If your target audience exists of mostly women, advertise on Facebook and Pinterest. Are you targeting a younger audience? Focus your efforts on Instagram and YouTube advertisements.

Another way to advertise is pay per click advertising using Google Adwords. Optimise your pay per click ads to target popular search phrases for this season like “Christmas presents for him”, “cheap stocking fillers”, “best toys for Christmas”.

Below you see the search results for “cheap stocking fillers”, and as expected, there are many advertisements from small and larger online shops and many Google Shopping results as well.


Optimise your online shop for mobile search queries

Micro-moments are the type of search queries that consumers do on the go, using their smartphone. These moments can be queries such as: “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy”. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine what queries they might use in the holiday period to find your products.

The “I want to buy” search is likely to be a comparison search, trying to find where to get a product at the best price or best quality. When you make sure your products are optimised for SEO and have them on Google Shopping as well, customers will find it easier to find your online shop when querying this information.

Another example of a micro-moment especially good for online shops, might be when Christmas shoppers realise they cannot find a certain gift in the stores. The popular toy might be sold out or they cannot find a specific gift. They will pull out their mobile and start searching for “product name” combined with “next-day delivery” or “online”. Just look at this Google search example for one of 2016’s most popular Christmas gifts, the Hatchimals toys.


That’s all

We hope these tips helped you optimise your ecommerce website for this 2016 Christmas season!
Good luck selling!

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Common SEO mistakes made by small businesses: 6 more sins

Panda and Penguin Algorithms

Common SEO mistakes made by small businesses: 6 more sins

Still struggling with search visibility? Gobsmacked that Google isn’t showing you higher? Don’t despair.

We’ve already looked at six SEO sins that could be ruining your rankings. Today, we dive back in with another six. Don’t say we’re not good to you!

So, strap yourself in and prepare yourself for some truths, harsh or otherwise. Take notes and ensure that you’re not at fault for...


1.Having “thin” content

Be particularly aware of this issue if you have a lot of services or an eCommerce website. “Thin” content is where a website has a lot of pages targeting various products or services, but each of those pages has hardly any text.

This is a huge problem as Google’s Panda Algorithm was released specifically to lower the rank of “low quality” and “thin” websites in 2011.

If you want your webpages to trump those of your competition, then you better be ready to do some writing… or find someone else who is!

Suggestion: try to put a minimum of 350 words on each web page, or at least 75 words on eCommerce product pages; put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and explain why they need your services - think who, what, when, how and where as well


2. Stuffing keywords into your pages

Resist the urge to jam keywords into your site with the intention of deceiving search engines. Back in the bad old days, cheeky cheaters would cram popular phrases like "Britney Spears" or "millenium" into their meta keywords tags to artificially inflate traffic. Please note: Google is smarter than search engines in 1997.

In fact, Google is actually cleverer than most of us. Whether people are cramming search terms into their site in an particularly spammy fashion…

...or throwing references into their content in an unnatural manner…

...rest assured that Google will detect this unnatural content as “ keyword stuffing” and penalise the site accordingly.

The safest way to include keywords in your content is to signpost your page in a few relevant areas and then write natural content about your services which explain why customers should choose you.

Suggestions: only include keyword terms on your pages in a way that seems normal; use a keyword density checker to ensure that you don’t have any keywords that are more than about 3-5% of your body content


3. Not tending to broken links

Broken links on your website are little indicators that you aren’t keeping house. It’s kind of the virtual equivalent of unclean toilets in a restaurant. Except that as well as disgruntled customers, there are also invisible robots that turn up periodically to review your restaurant.

Google’s crawlers are those invisible robots. In terms of website quality, they will assume that your site is either poorly maintained or out of service entirely. Neither of these factors are good for your ranking.

So, regularly make sure that all links on your site (to your own pages or other websites) lead to the destinations they are supposed to. If you find an error, edit the link to either be correct again or drop it entirely (if, for example, it was linking to a third party page that no longer exists).

Suggestions: learn how to check your Search Console account, and set reminders to review your data periodically; use this time to check for broken links using the Crawl Errors area - click on any links and look at the “Linked from” tab to catch issues


4. Using generic anchor text for linking

What is “generic anchor text?” we hear you cry? Well, links to other pages in your website text need to be “anchored” to a piece of text. If you use vague words like “ Click here to learn more…”, then there is no indication of the destination.

Try to be as specific as possible, using keywords or keyword variants if possible. A better alternative would be “Learn more about our social media marketing service...”. That sends strong relevancy signals to search engines, crawlers and human users alike.

Suggestion: make sure all text links on your site are anchored to keywords or similar terms


5. Losing focus on your website users

It can be dangerously easy to lose sight of your customers when you spend a lot of time trying to make them find your website. All too many companies will focus on tweaking pages to optimise for SEO or adding extra pages to accommodate popular search terms (see “thin content” for details).

But one of the best SEO strategies is to never, ever lose sight of the fact that you want a website that makes a good user experience. Search engine algorithms change, but they will never penalise a site that is well written with unique and naturally engaging content.

Suggestions: get a friend or relative who has nothing to do with your company to take a look around your website; ask them how easy it is to use the site and if they understood what you do and how they could contact you


6. Steering clear of Analytics

Owning and optimising a website is all well and good, but there’s no point in being unable to see the results. Without a basic understanding of Analytics, you could be taking your efforts in the wrong direction or trying to fix something that is already working.

Looking at figures and generating regular reports is a good start, but over time you’ll need to spot what keywords and pages are working for you so you can focus your efforts. It’s the simplest way to learn how to make the most out of your website, which you no doubt spend plenty of hard-earned cash on.

Suggestions: set up your Analytics at first opportunity - use our Analytics guide for help; look at Google’s video guides and Analytics help pages for more information


That’s all folks!

So, that’s your insight into another six issues that you would do well to avoid. We hope you’ve found it useful! Stop by next week when we’ll be looking at the basics that you should consider when setting up your business online.

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6 marketing ideas for accountants: making things add up

Content Graphic

6 marketing ideas for accountants: making things add up

You’re the unsung heroes who make a massive difference to thousands of UK businesses each year. You’re frequently the butt of jokes at social gatherings, but you take it in characteristically good humour. Tax Advisers and Accountants: today is all about you!

It’s about time that we looked at some marketing ideas that apply to more traditionally “white collar” businesses. And as accountancy firms provide a vital service for SMBs of all kinds, it makes sense to include you first.

So, if your online efforts aren’t adding up, and you need to stop your social media assets from being a liability, take ten to read over our six suggestions. We hope you find them useful!


1. Make a plan – branding and strategies

Before you start, you should be certain of your business brand. Specifically, you should have professional imagery and logos, as well as values and mission statements. The big fish have all of these features, so your business really ought to as well.

You should also have a marketing plan in mind. For example, you may want to target businesses of a certain size, or you may wish to specialise in a particular industry or service niche.

Don’t take it from our humble team of online marketing consultants: take it from Accounting WEB’s blogger and commentator Mark Lee, who had this to say on embracing specialisms in accounting:

“You will secure more clients faster if you are perceived as having a special focus on a specific niche – be that clients in a specific business type (e.g. shop owners, hospital consultants or dentists); those with specific issues (e.g. overseas property, divorce, large family, business start-up) or those willing to use your preferred bookkeeping and accounting software.

Most accountants start up with no such focus and simply try to be all things to all people. You will be more successful faster if you have a clear focus.”

Once you know your brand and your target markets, make a plan for how to establish your brand and reach those customers. Clearly, your website should be the first port of call for brand identity, so make sure to spell out how and why you are different.

Top tip: find out where your target market are active online, and then meet them there. For example, if your clients are primarily from retail, hospitality, or fitness industries, then take a look at starting a Pinterest or Instagram account for your business.


2. Content marketing for accountants – validation and resources

Once you are attracting traffic, you really want to achieve two things: converting new clients or building trust. That’s why we advocate a two-pronged approach to your content creation efforts.

Firstly, you should try to encourage people to get on board by validating their decision to click “Contact”. Making a testimonials page or, better yet, a case studies page will help to establish your brand and show that your current clients are seeing real value in employing your services.

You should also write your content with customer benefits in mind, rather than service features. So, rather than “we take a timely approach to tax returns”, push it as “your tax returns will be submitted in plenty of time to stay well clear of last-minute problems”.

Secondly, if you can offer any expertise or resources for free, then you can help establish trust. So, if you have a branded Self-Assessment checklist PDF that potential clients can download, they are more likely to remember your business when they need assistance.

Top tip: share your free resources via social media or email too – more on those later – taking a little time to create a free shareable resource could continue to pay off over time.


3. Directory listings

This advice isn’t just specific to tax advisers or accounting firms, but it’s always worth repeating that a well-chosen directory listing can assist with your web traffic. If you search for “accountants Edinburgh”, the second listing that appears is Yell.com’s page for those terms.

Many people still use directories and reviews as an index of how trustworthy a potential service provider may be. With that in mind, you should check that your listings are all up to date, professionally presented, and branded wherever possible.

You should also strongly consider searching for the name, address, and phone (or NAP) of your competitors, to see what local business or industry-specific directories turn up. You may also find references in financial sector websites or blogs – make a note of these citations and think about how your firm could earn a reference as well.

Top tip: it makes sense to use local directories even if you serve clients across the UK – initial searches tend to be geographical, while leads from further afield may more likely come via referrals.


4. LinkedIn

Simply put, LinkedIn is the place to be for B2B networking. If your business works (or intends to work) with any “white collar” companies, then you should have a complete company profile and engaged employees.

If you are focusing on a niche market, then LinkedIn can be invaluable. The large search bar at the top of the screen allows you to investigate contacts, companies, and groups by industry or location. That means you can network easily within your area of preference by employing one simple search.

You can InMail new contacts or join Groups to engage with your prospective new clients. If you or anyone within your company makes a little extra time, you can post interesting updates or even useful articles to build trust and hopefully generate leads.

Top tip: be sure to complete your company profile fully, with images and descriptions, and encourage all employees to join and engage with their contacts for maximum networking potential.


5. Other social media

This is more of an honorary mention: LinkedIn should be the de facto social network of choice for an accountancy business. But if your target market is specialised, then you should consider meeting your customers on their stomping ground as well.

Social media content ideas may not be crystal clear on first impressions, but very few businesses have done badly out of the following posts:

  • Human interest stories – charity events, staff news, behind-the-scenes photos
  • Shareable content – videos, motivational quotes, cute animals, cute animals with motivational quotes
  • Follower questions – ask your followers what they want to know about, post fill-in-the-blanks questions

There’s a wealth of information out there on how to pick a Pinterest plan or avoid fouling up on Facebook. With a little research to see what your customers are doing, and you should be able to join in the conversation in no time at all.

A well-placed joke may strike a chord with your clients

Top tip: remember to be timely with your social media campaigns - our infographic guide to posting on social media features optimal posting times and much more!


6. Email marketing

Being in an office environment, tax advisers and accountants often conduct a lot of communications via email. It’s a simple and natural move to make the step up to email marketing. A few strategic campaigns throughout the slower parts of the financial year could help drum up new business.

You should try to start cultivating client email lists from a variety of sources, whether they amount to “current clients” or “website inquiries”. Email management tools such as MailChimp are readily available out there, so you can quickly start creating and sending campaigns to maintain trust and build leads.

For example, a “Self Assessment tax return advice” page, complete with a free checklist that is available in exchange for an email address, could give you a list of potential new clients. Sending timely reminders of deadlines and required documentation to your list could either remind them to act or inspire them to call you instead!

Top tip: send initial subscriber updates at the traditionally high impact period of 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, to establish a baseline for campaign impact. Then, try experimenting with subsequent update release times - 10am, 6pm, or weekends - in case your target market is different.


Get better results with specialist web design for accountants

At Trendzer, we have the knowledge and the experience to create specialist websites for accountants. We know exactly what accountants need on their website and have up-to-date knowledge on how to optimise websites for search engines. Take a look at our web services for more information!

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Local search changes on Google: how to compete in 2015

Local Search Display May 2015

Local search changes on Google: how to compete in 2015

If you’ve happened across this article, there’s a good chance that you’ve noticed that Google has changed how it’s displaying local businesses. The July 2015 update has altered the search experience for a huge number of businesses and industries.

This can understandably be upsetting for you as a UK small business owner, as local search results could well be a big tasty slice of your bread and butter. But there are several things that you can do to help yourself continue to reach local customers.

"No reviews can actually be worse than some poor reviews..." - find out why later on!

So, that’s why we’ve put together a quick-Q&A style section followed by some SEO tips that you can take away and work on. Because, like our company slogan says, we’re here to Build Businesses Online.


“Why don’t I appear on Google Maps anymore?”

The short answer is: you probably do still appear on Google Maps, but the display has changed and your company may have slipped off the radar.

The longer answer is: the new local results show only three primary businesses as opposed to as many as seven. This first screenshot is a search for “electrician in Edinburgh” taken from May 2015:

What you see is paid advertising results in the first three placings, then one organic result – a business directory (Yell.com). Then you see the start of the Local Search/Google Places entries, seven in all. This next one is just three months later, this week:

Now, the bulk of the paid advertising has been phased out in the first column, in favour of a large Google Maps display and then three related business links. You’ll also notice a link at the bottom, “More electrician”, which will bring up another 17 businesses in what some SEOs are calling the "Local Finder" display, as below:

The first point of note is that the Local Finder results are ranked rather than being scattered, meaning that users will be more likely to focus on quality results over the closest one.

Another of the interesting points to take from this is that one of the top three entries had exactly zero Google reviews but still placed on the podium, even if in bronze medal position. A quick review of their online footprint reveals a five-star Yell.com review and several local directory listings.

This tallies with the findings of SEO industry giants Search Engine Land, who revealed that local directories appeared to be benefitting from Google’s Pigeon update. So, as we’ll explain shortly, it’s time to look at directory listings once more.


“How do I get my business back on Google Maps?”

The short answer is: local directory listings and genuine, positive reviews from customers.

The longer answer is: make a concerted effort to ensure your online footprint establishes you as a local company, and also try to get more testimonials in digital form.


The down-low on directories

Why are directories useful for local search? Well, if you look through the links of our local search examples, you’ll notice a few recurring names:

  • Yell.com
  • Yelp.co.uk
  • 192.com

You’ll also find a variety of specialist electrician directories, Edinburgh business directories, and Scottish business directories. Since the update, Google have also notably removed Google+ pages from their local display results, using just Map entries for reviews instead. It seems that dedicated local directories are back in the picture!

That means you need to find out which directories are worth using, as poor quality links can be bad for your search rankings. Luckily, you can find some guidance in section A of our SEO tips for local search. But next, let’s talk reviews!


Recognising reviews

In tandem with the quiet death of Google+ page links, the search engine giant appears to be scaling up the significance of reviews on third party directories. There is evidence both in the Search Engine Land blog and our own example above.

So we have to consider that focusing intently on good reviews is fairly essential for appearance in local results. Take a look at section B of our SEO tips below to see what this means for you. In the meantime, we do have alternatives…


“What if I can’t get my site to appear in these Google Map displays?”

The short answer is: choose one of these three alternatives: 1) on-page optimisation for organic search results using local keywords, 2) paid advertising, or 3) social media promotion.

The longer answer is: as many people use Google to find local businesses, it is obviously an important source of revenue. But it isn’t the only way to be found.


Opt for organic?

Detailed research by the SEO gurus at Moz found that many users still favour organic search results, even if they start “below the fold” (that’s “you need to scroll down to find them” to you and me).

So that means if your webpages are optimised for the right local keywords, there’s every chance that someone will bypass the Map results and go straight to your website! Take a look at section C below if you are interested in using organic search to improve your search visibility.


Plump for paid ads?

If you’re willing to part with more cash, you could always consider paid advertising for a (hopefully) first page placing. But it is worth noting that by our own calculations, Moz’s experiments totalled a study of 347 clicks from 3 examples. The breakdown below shows that more people trust organic results over paid:

Type of Click #Clicks Total Clicks
Paid 57 16.4%
Top 3 Local 108 31.1%
More Local 39 11.2%
Organic 143 41.2%
Total Clicks 347

You’ll also notice, however, that paid advertising is bigger than the local results outside of the “top 3”, so it is definitely still an option.


Spread the word on social?

Finally, using targeted social media campaigns is another way of getting your company onto people’s radars. This will not take a lot of money, but as our posts on how to flog yourself on Facebook or promote yourself on Pinterest suggest, it will take a bit of time and effort.


SEO tips for local search: our conclusions

As suggested above, there are a few areas where you can take action to ensure that you have a better chance of getting custom from local search. Ideally, you should look at all three to cover your bases, but you should focus on any areas where you may be weaker than the pack first.


A. Finding relevant directories

As we mentioned before, what we are seeing is an increase in the prominence of local directory listings for certain searches and sectors. For example, Search Engine Land point out that their searches for “seattle restaurants” returned well-known directory-style sites such as Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable in organic results.

And there’s more: local newspapers and magazines featured prominently, as well as international newspaper reviews and reputable blogs. But potentially the biggest shock was that an individual restaurant didn’t appear until page three!

Local SEO for UK customers doesn’t seem to be so much different, as our SEOs found that searches for restaurants and pubs in Devon and Kent villages frequently showed results in amongst TripAdvisor reviews, local newspaper articles, and food blogs. This means you should potentially do four things:

  1. Do a Google search for “ near ” and see if any directories appear on the first page results
  2. Check if you have any automatically generated profiles waiting to be claimed on these directories
  3. Search for your competition by name, and see if they are registered with any special local and/or industry directories, and then note them down
  4. Consider adding yourself to these specialist directories too – please note that some may request payment. We do not recommend using paid directories unless you’re sure they are of very high quality and offering genuine benefits
  5. See if any newspapers or bloggers have written reviews about your competitors too – you could contact them to ask about a review of your own

B. Getting golden reviews

We’ve been stating this as part of our SEO service for ages now, but good reviews not only send signals to Google, they also give potential customers more confidence. The Moz article on user click behaviour featured some interesting experiments where they tracked user search activity and interviewed the “subject” afterwards.

The major revelation was pretty important: no reviews could actually be worse than some poor reviews. Most of the participants reported that review stars were a factor in the decision making process, so it’s fairly essential to ask for customer testimonials in digital form.

This means asking happy customers to leave reviews on your social networks and directory listings, rather than paper or e-mail testimonials. If you receive these, put them on a Testimonials page on your website, but try to encourage reviews on sites like:

  • Google Maps – all local businesses
  • TripAdvisor, Yelp – hospitality and hotels
  • Checkatrade, Yell - tradesmen

Please note: we’ve gone on record before as stating that it is not a good idea to ask non-customers to set up dummy reviews (we’re not saying you would, as we’re sure you’re totally legit!). Google has sophisticated algorithms to detect false reviews, and if they think they’ve found one, they may delete genuine reviews alongside them.

So please make sure that all customer reviews a) don’t arrive in the space of a week, and b) aren’t from people who have no profile picture and no review history. Blank new profiles can look like false profiles!

Anyway, having review stars could where your top three rivals don’t could be a swinging factor in a customer’s decision making process, so not being in a “podium finish” could still be okay.


C. Optimising for organic search

There’s nothing new here: we’ve already discussed how to optimise for local search in previous articles on how to write:

The importance of using locational keywords organically in the correct areas is now amplified. In particular, the page that is linked to your local search profile should be optimised. This will most likely be your home page, but follow your equivalent link as in the image below to be sure.


That’s all for now!

Hopefully you can take some heart from our ideas, even if you aren’t showing in the top three local results for your industry or sector. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them on social media: we’re here to help!

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Is your business website mobile ready?

Panda V Penguin

Is your business website mobile-ready?

You won’t hear about it on the news, and you’re unlikely to read about it in the newspapers, but there’s about to be a massive change in online advertising that could affect thousands of UK small businesses.

Smartphone compatibility is about to become an incredibly significant factor for your website’s SEO. On April 21st 2015, Google will release its latest algorithm, which is focused on mobile readiness.

Some sources quote their representatives as saying it will be “bigger than Panda or Penguin”. If you don’t know what that means – and you could easily be forgiven for not having a clue about it – then we’ll put it a different way: there’s a serious chance that it could affect your online business if your site isn’t prepared.


Why is mobile readiness important?

The shape of online browsing has been changing for some time now. By Google’s own research, almost two-thirds of British people (62%) use their smartphone to browse online almost one-third (30%) use tablets.

On top of that, it seems that most folk use multiple devices simultaneously. For example, they might stream music on their smartphone, while playing a game on their tablet and downloading a movie on their laptop.

This has had a noticeable effect on shopping behaviours too: both online and offline. Why accept a high street retailer’s declaration that something is “a bargain” when you can find out competitor prices while standing in-store?

When you couple that with the fact that 61% of smartphone owners use their mobile to research or purchase goods online, it becomes clear that being mobile ready can only help your website.


Why do Google care about mobile friendliness?

As a company that is in the advertising business, Google is particularly concerned with one thing: ensuring that the websites it serves up to search users are of appropriate quality. If you use a search engine and get a shoddy site served up that doesn’t help you to get what you want, you’ll be a bit disappointed.

Well, as part of their research, Google found that 66% of smartphone users expect a site to work as well on their mobile as on their desktop or laptop. So, if your site is clunky or hard to use, then Google naturally don’t want to disappoint their customers – which (if you’ve been paying attention so far) are increasingly smartphone users.


How can I check my site for mobile compatibility?

Google have put together a Mobile-Friendly Test to help you understand if your site is prepared for the change. Simply pop your URL into the field below and hit “Analyze”.

You’ll get a simple answer of whether your site is mobile-friendly plus a preview of how your site is appearing. Hopefully, your site will have few or no issues. But there’s no need to panic if your site gets negative feedback.

Test Your Site Below

How can I make my site mobile friendly?

There are also a series of articles in Google’s Mobile Guide that will explain the concepts in more detail if you or your website developers need to know what to do. You can:

  • Customise your website software: you’ll need to know what software your website is built with and understand some basic principles of CMS editing, or have access to your developer
  • Implement SEO best practice: you’ll probably want to be familiar with Webmaster Tools and (again) the basics of editing your CMS
  • Consider an upgrade:  if your site has been in need of an upgrade for a while, why not do it now for a fresh start and use software that is mobile-ready

Trendzer can help

We built Trendzer to be ahead of the curve in terms of mobile readiness. All sites that we create for our customers have responsive web design. That means your site sends the same signals to all devices, but the design will adapt intelligently to display the content effectively.

You’ll also get dedicated expert help with your domain, design, and content. So, you don’t have to put together a DIY templated website in a hurry: you can carry on doing what you do best. Call us on 0800 047 6777 to ask about a new website that features responsive web design as standard.

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Improve your site ranking with better meta titles

Emergency plumber result

SEO Tips: Improve your site ranking with better meta titles

Let's get straight to the point here: buying a website and not using appropriate meta title tags on your pages is like owning a shopfront and not putting signage above the door. People who could well be interested in the contents within will be blissfully unaware that you have anything on offer.

So, it's highly important that you get your title tags right. Join us as we delve into the best practices for setting strong foundations for your pages. Our guide covers the following areas:

  • Home pages
  • Interior pages
  • Advanced knowledge

Make sure to check out our blog on meta descriptions as well, so you can ensure that your meta elements match up and send strong relevance signals to Google. You should also have made sure to carry out some keyword research as essential groundwork.

An optimised page title "...creates value in three specific areas: relevancy, browsing, and in the search engine results pages." – Moz

As your umbrella term will be included on most pages – more on that next – the intention here is to brand your website with a key term that people will use when searching for your type of business. Substantially more people will search for "plumbers in Edinburgh" rather than "plumbing services in Edinburgh", so it makes sense to follow their lead.

The big guns like John Lewis can get away with it. The only people who can use the internet and don't know what IKEA provides have more than likely sustained a serious head injury in the last twelve months.

But as a small business owner, you can't afford to be vague about what you do. Firstly, think about it again from the perspective of the naïve customer: if you walked into an unfamiliar supermarket and the signs above the aisles all read "Our Products", it would make for an incredibly annoying shopping experience. Not using a relevant keyword phrase in your page title is basically the same thing.

Secondly, consider that Google and other search engines crawl your website and factor in your page title. If they don't clearly understand what you do, then they won't show your page to the right searches. We're probably agreed that this is a bad thing?

So, once you've found the relevant term using keyword research, you should format your title something like this:

Note that the umbrella term "Emergency Plumbers" is still included right after the interior page's title to help establish all pages on the site as plumbing-related.


Advanced Knowledge: Optimising Page Titles

Got all that straight in your mind? Good. Now, forget part of it. Chances are that if any of the elements in your page title –service keyword, location, or company name – are of a largish size, your title will fall outside of an optimised limit, as demonstrated above. Note how the ellipsis cuts off the "...Plumbing UK" element that was present on the home page title earlier.

For best results, you should try to keep your page title to 55 characters or below. Industry research on the revealed that Google were altering significant amounts of title tags displayed in SERPs to fall within the 50-59 character limit.

This came about due to the latest SERPs redesign by Google, which slightly altered the specifics of optimised titles – not so much “shifting the goalposts” as changing their composition slightly. We won’t go into the mechanics, which have been researched more in depth by the likes of Moz.

What you should know is that the most recent update changed several factors, most notably the SERPs limit is now based on a pixel count rather than a character count. The important info is that relevant titles of 55 characters have a 95% chance of remaining intact, and this number approaches 100% as the number of characters decreases.


Free SEO Tools

Luckily, there are tools available to help you check your site optimisation parameters. You can use this SERPs preview tool from Portent to see how your future search engine results will work out: it covers the size basics for both page titles and meta descriptions.

Then there’s the excellent title guidelines with preview tool from Moz, which also factors in the impact of longer search queries. As matching search terms are displayed in bold, this necessarily has an effect on pixel width of SERPs displays.

Finally, for those of you who embrace technology and would like to give all of your pages a quick once-over, the invaluable Screaming Frog SEO spider calculates the pixel width of page titles. It also checks meta descriptions and has a SERP snippet simulator, so our Search Consultants recommend it highly for full site audits.


Trendzer's Top Tips

  • Keep control over how your company is represented in search engine results by making your page titles 55 characters or less
  • Ensure your company name is near the end of your page title – if there is any cut-off, it will only be your brand name which should still be apparent elsewhere
  • Omit any duplicated or redundant info – e.g. your could probably stand to lose your umbrella term on a page with a similar page title, like the below example

Follow our guidelines and your pages should all be strongly set up for both search engines and human users.

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How to use social proof to improve sales

review picture five star

How to use social proof to improve sales

Social proof is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others, because they assume that those actions are the right behaviour. For example, the use of canned laughter in a sitcom tells you something funny has happened and that it’s time to laugh. Social proof is one of the best marketing tools out there to build your brand and engage customers. Read more about how small businesses can use social proof to improve sales!


Does social proof really work?

Researchers examined the effectiveness of four signs on persuading customers to use less energy in the summer by turning on fans rather than their air conditioning:

  • Sign 1: Informed the customer that it would save $54 per month on their utility bill.
  • Sign 2: Told the customer that they could prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gases per month.
  • Sign 3: Talked about how saving energy was the socially responsible thing to do.
  • Sign 4: Let customers know that 77% of their neighbours were doing it already.

As you may have guessed, sign 4 was the most effective, even more so than saving money! That’s social proof, and we’re going to talk about how you can use it to increase your sales.


Testimonials, reviews and case studies

The most important social proof for SMEs is to get reviews from your customers. Nowadays, a product or service without reviews or testimonials is often ignored. What’s the last time you bought a product on Amazon without checking out the reviews? Some customers might even skip a perfect-looking product without reviews, and buy a product that’s not quite what they were looking for, but has multiple glowing reviews.


How to ask for reviews

You will increase your chances of getting reviews by asking the customer to do so after their purchase. You could ask them in person or you could email them with a link to your Google listing, Yelp profile, or another review platform. The benefit of asking in person is that the chance of actually getting a review is really high. The benefit of emailing is that they’re already online when they see your message, so you’re making it easy for them to review you.


Reviews with pictures

With so many fake reviews around, it’s important to ensure that your reviews are seen as genuine. One way to do this is to have testimonials or reviews accompanied with a corresponding picture. If you’re going to ask a customer for a review, make sure to ask if you can use their picture as well. Reviews are more likely to be believed as social proof


Avoid the “great service” review

You’re getting your first reviews, that’s great! But what if your reviews are generic sentences like: “great service” or “nothing wrong with it.”. It’s a positive review, so it’s better than a negative review, but it doesn’t tell us much. It could have been written by anyone!

Ask your customers what they liked best from your service or product when they buy it from you. Was it the quick service, the fact that you went above and beyond, or that everyone is so friendly here? Then ask them to add that to their review of your business.

When people read a long and detailed review about a product/service, they will be convinced that it must be good. Not only has the wording of the review showed them that, it’s the fact that someone decided to take the time to sit down and write that long review! Then they must have really liked it!


Case studies

A case study (in combination with a testimonial) is a great way to tell the story of how your services or products solved real problems. The best kind of case study is where you solve the situation of someone who is worse off than the reader – convincing them that if you can help solve that problem, you can surely solve theirs too!


Social media proof

Having social media channels can be social proof in itself. By having a website as well as a Facebook, a LinkedIn and a Twitter profile, you are showing that your business has a face and is genuine.

Even better than that, if your business has accumulated a large following of fans on Facebook, potential customers will see that as a seal of trust in your product or services!


Creating urgency

Do you know the concept of FOMO? It means fear of missing out, and it’s often aroused by posts on social media websites. The feeling can also happen when almost missing out on a deal or opportunity. Voucher websites like Groupon play in to this concept, stating things like “Nearly sold out!” or “1 hour left on this deal!”.

In the example below you can see that Booking.com uses FOMO marketing in three different places for only one listing!

In terms of web design, you could think of incorporating a countdown ticker in your shopping cart feature, or listing the number of products you have left in stock.


Show off your customer base

By adding logos of your existing customers to your site, you’re essentially telling visitors that your product or service is good enough for these other local or successful companies, so it must be good enough for them!


Trust seals & certifications

If you have an online shop, make sure to add the trust seals from the secure payment providers you work with to your website. Similarly, if you’re service provider with certain certificates or qualifications, like a NICEIC registered electrician, you want to make sure that is mentioned on your site. Customers look out for these and often actively search for them.


That’s all!

We hope you learned a little about social proof and how you can use it in your online presence to improve sales!

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How to use Google Trends to optimise your site

google trends market research

How to use Google Trends to optimise your site

If you’ve never heard of Google Trends and you like your graphs, you’re in for a treat! Google Trends is a tool that allows you to look at the popularity of keywords and keyword phrases that people search for on Google. You can compare different keywords, or compare results per area to find out how popularity has developed over time.

Apart from using it for a bit of fun, you can actually use it to optimise your business website. Find out how you can use Google Trends to better target your potential customers and let it guide you to create popular content for your website!


Market research

The main thing you can use Google Trends for, is exactly what it says on the tin: researching trends on Google. By doing a few smart keyword searches, you can find related searches and know exactly what has peaked people’s interest.

For example, if have an online fashion store, you could use the tool to find out which types of clothes people are actually searching for. In the chart below, we can see that this spring, people wanted to buy a bomber jacket. Later this summer, we see interest in rucksacks gaining.

When you scroll further down on a results page in Google Trends, you can see related keyword phrases people have been looking for. When you spot the word ‘breakout’ next to it, that means searches for this trend have increased 5000% or more! So pay close attention!

Another way to use it for market research is to add the names of large competitors to a Google Trends search query. When you own a coffee shop, you might search for ‘Starbucks’ and find that over the past three months, people were searching for ‘cold brew’, ‘nutritional information’ and ‘pumpkin spice latte’. You can use this information to amend your coffee menu to fit the latest trends and introduce new concepts.


Keyword research

As above, you can use the related queries function to find related keywords that you could also be targeting.

Another way to use Google Trends is to search for all the keywords you’re already targeting, and find out if there are any dud keywords. Do you spot any downward trends? If you own a corner shop or supermarket and sell magazines, you’ll get confirmation from Google Trends that magazines have gone down in popularity!

It is important to target your keywords to your location as well. If you’re based in Manchester, you’re not interested in the whole of the UK, you’ll want to know if Mancunians are looking for your services!

You can do this by finding the United Kingdom in the dropdown list of locations. Then click on the little right arrow and narrow it down to Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, or England. Then you can search normally, and you’ll see the interest for your country as well as a division by city.

If you’re thinking of opening another takeaway in Wales, but aren’t quite sure where the largest demand is, you could use it to find out that Pontypridd has the most people looking for takeaways (100%). The other numbers are percentages relative to this 100%.


Create a content calendar

Creating a content calendar might soon like a daunting task, but it's an invaluable tool to be ahead of your competition when it comes to trends. By using Google Trends to find out cyclical patterns for search queries, you can plan ahead and have relevant content live on your website before anyone.

Now it’s no big surprise that when you own a restaurant, you should have something about Christmas bookings on your website a few months before Christmas. However, there are more complicated cyclical patterns that can help you plan content.

As with most big purchases people usually don’t buy in December and wait until January to buy them. You can see this trend clearly in the graph below, where there is a big spike for the search term ‘buy car’ every year in January. It then peters out again, with another smaller spike in July and August. The reason for this could be that dealers give you a good deal, as they are ready to clear out used cars in readiness for new models and registration plate change on the 1 st of September.

Use this information to write about your car sale and post it in June and December. You’ll want to give Google a few weeks to index your new pages and content, to make sure it can be found in time.


Get social media & blog ideas

As you’re probably aware, it can be tough sometimes to find inspirational topics for your blog. One of the goals you might have for a blog article is for it go viral! Google Trends can help you find hot topics to blog about.

Firstly, check the hot trends section to see if there are any trends that relate to your business which you could write, tweet or post about.

Another way to use Google Trends is to think of a broad topic you could blog about, a service you provide, a product you sell, or a problem your customers might have. Search for this on Google Trends, and set the time range for the past 30 days or past 90 days to make sure your query is focused on the latest trends. Take a look at the related topics and related queries section to find more trendy topics to write about.

For example, if you sell beauty products or if you provide beauty treatments, you might search for the word ‘scrub’.

In related topics, we see that ‘microbeads’ are one of the bigger topics as microbeads in scrub products are bad for the environment. Apparently Himalaya walnut scrub has gained popularity in searches, so it might be an interesting product to review or write about.


If you're interested in more SEO and content advice, take a look at our Dedicated Digital Expert service!

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How to get better testimonials for your business website

Ask the Right Questions

How to get better testimonials for your business website

Testimonials are an invaluable source of online marketing because they tell potential customers that you are a company they can trust. But all too often, not enough thought goes into the process of getting testimonials. Forming a strategy for each and every customer can reap massive benefits:

  • Testimonials become a natural part of each job’s process
  • Customer feedback can improve company practice
  • People see your company as taking genuine interest in their experience

That’s why we’ve outlined five areas below for you to consider. Simply try to make a standard email or text document that you can send to customers after a job is complete, and that can go out with receipt of payment or after-care communications.

Finally, make it clear that you value their feedback, as it will help future customers. This will give them another good reason to share their experience with you.


1. Ask the Right Questions

It’s easy to think that a happy customer leaving a positive message is enough. But you could really be harnessing their good intentions to draw out exactly what it is that makes your service a cut above the rest.

For example, a testimonial that says “Great service from an excellent team” is full of what copywriters call “empty” adjectives: there isn’t any real indication of what is “great” or “excellent” about the customer’s experience. If it was “Fast and efficient service from a team who was always there to help”, you get a much better idea of what pleased the customer.

So, with that in mind, make sure to take your pick from the following questions which will help you to get responses that really sell your services:

  • Did you have any concerns before you used us, and how did we meet them?
  • What was your favourite part of [our services], and why did you like it?
  • What were the positive outcomes of using [our services]?
  • If you were recommending us to your best friend, what reasons would you give?

Once you have your answers, you can include the positive information on your website, and take any other feedback as the chance to improve your service.

2. Pay Attention to Google+

Too many people view Google+ as a poor man’s Facebook. However, you could be using this social network to galvanise your online presence when used as part of a testimonial strategy. So, you should make sure to set up a page on Google My Business (or claim an existing page that has been set up by default).

In particular, positive reviews on Google+ can help to increase presence in local searches. If you have an optimised website linking to a verified and positively reviewed Google My Business page, then you have a better chance of appearing in local search results.

At the end of a job well done, encourage your customers to visit your Google+ page and leave a review. As you can see from the local (orange) res

ults in the screengrab, all those stars look good to potential clients, and they also power your website authority.

Top tip: make sure to display a “Review Us on Google+” badge on your website for a unified strategy. Then, you can simply direct happy customers to leave a testimonial on your page.


3. Consider LinkedIn Recommendations

Particularly useful for professionals and B2B companies, LinkedIn is a great source of validation for prospective clients. While you can’t review a company, an individual recommendation is invaluable if the subject of the review is a one-man band or sole trader.

So, get out there and endorse those peers who you’ve found to be particularly effective. It also cannot hurt your company’s profile if employees are seen to have multiple recommendations and extensive contacts. If you’re part of a larger organisation, make sure that management knows to encourage all staff to be active on LinkedIn as well.

4. Increase Engagement with Video Testimonials

In the age of social media and online marketing, this old marketing maxim is a huge lie. You only need to look at people as varied as Malcolm Rifkind, Lindsay Lohan, or Cliff Richard to know that bad news can be very damaging. And you can look up “social media fails” for plenty more evidence.

But that’s what we should really acknowledge – bad press is damaging, so make sure you own it if any comes your way. If someone with an axe to grind leaves an angry comment on your company Facebook page or submits a poor Google+ review, don’t just ignore it.

Try to engage them, whether it’s with a concessionary offer or even just the chance for their voice to be heard as “constructive feedback”. You’ll be seen as delivering good after-care and it may help to improve customer experience in the long run. If you can keep the dialogue positive and in the public domain, all the better.

We’re full of good ideas on social media management and online marketing at Trendzer – simply call 0800 047 6777 and ask about our Search Engine Manager service.

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How to develop a mobile strategy using micro-moments

garage near me google

How to develop a mobile strategy using micro-moments

People are using their mobile phones and tablets more and more, and their expectations of what websites and online shops should deliver are growing.

Ofcom’s report on the UK states that 66% of people own a smartphone and they use it for nearly 2 hours a day, making it more vital than ever for businesses to have a mobile strategy.

In this article, we will give you the starting points for creating a mobile strategy. We go into the shift to mobile and changing customer journey and how this has influenced mobile search. Google’s research study talks about how this mobile search on the go is influenced by ‘micro-moments’. These micro-moments happen with searches on Google and are perfect opportunities for small businesses to engage with potential customers.


Starting points for your mobile strategy

In order to have a good mobile strategy, you need to check whether the different online journeys a (potential) customer could take on your site are as straightforward, fast and engaging as possible. You can find out more about this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does your website load fast on mobile, and is it mobile-friendly? Fixing this should be the first step in your mobile strategy.
  • How many clicks does it take to find information or to buy a product? Does this feel like too many? You potentially need to change your site structure to make it easier to find information.
  • What questions will a customer have when they land on your site? Can you navigate through the menu options and find the answers easily? Your site menu and content might need to be updated to do for this better.
  • What search terms would a local customer use to find your website? Take your mobile and try them out. Is your website found and is it ranked high enough? Your keywords and metadata might need some expert SEO to be found better on Google.

After you have the basics in order, you should focus on Search Engine Optimisation, as it is an excellent way to get more visitors to your website. Google’s recent study focuses on mobile search micro-moments, which you can utilise in your SEO.

iStock.com/Manuel Faba Ortega


The four mobile search micro-moments

The smartphone has integrated into our daily lives and we use the search function to find facts, to look up information and to find inspiration. Google has done some research to find out how this mobile lifestyle has changed the way consumers search. What type of searches are mostly performed on mobile rather than on a computer? Mobile searches happen when customers need information on the go, and Google has identified four micro-moments that you can jump in on to create your mobile strategy.


The “I want to know” search

What they want: Think of queries like “What is the best e-reader?” or “How can I lose weight without exercise?” These are search queries where customers want to find out more information about something, but aren’t ready to buy yet. They want useful information and inspiration.

What you can give: Give short and useful answers to questions like these, either in blog-form or in a Q&A. Google’s study states that with 69% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose site or app helps them to easily find answers to their questions.


The “I want to go” search

What they want: This is a search like “[service] near me”, performed by customers who are on the go who need a product or service in their vicinity. Mobile makes up 88% of all ‘near me’ searches.

What you can give: Make sure your website is optimised for local searches, by having a good spread of keywords describing your service and location, and by using keywords throughout your metadata. Doing this you can rank higher in search results and benefit from the traffic.


The “I want to do” search

What they want: This is a query like “how to do [task]”. Perhaps you think this isn’t relevant to your business, as it’s not directly related to making a sale. Even though this customer isn’t looking for to buy something right now, they will think of you and your useful content the next time they do need to buy, or if someone they know is asking for a recommendation.

What you can give: If you own a garage, you could make a great video on how to change a car tire. If you are a plumber, you could think of adding a ‘do it yourself’ section on your website. Google’s study states that 48% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile site provides instructional video content.


The “I want to buy” search

What they want: This is a search like “[service] review” or “[product] price”. When a customer looks up a restaurant review they want to find out if the restaurant is any good. When they look up a product price when in a shop, they’ll be trying to find out if it’s being sold at a fair price.

What you can give: You have to be ready with solid information and a seamless process that will convert interest into a sale. Make sure your website and online shop work quickly and seamless, and that you are providing clear information on your products or services.


That’s all for now!

Creating a mobile strategy isn’t as daunting as it sounds and it’s something every business should do. If you want help with optimising your site for mobile or want expert SEO advice, contact us by calling 0800 047 6777.

Sources:
Think with Google, Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile
Ofcom, The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom

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How to connect your Ecwid Store with Facebook

facebook store

How to connect your Ecwid Store with Facebook

One of the great features of Facebook for businesses is that you can set up an online store on your Facebook page. With over 1.55 billion active Facebook users, it’s a great source for potential customers. Many businesses already use Facebook to share content and engage customers so why not add sales to the equation? In this blog article, we explain how to connect your Ecwid shop to Facebook, so customers can buy on both your Trendzer site and your Facebook page.


Facebook is more than a social network

“Hold on”, you say, “People don’t go on Facebook to buy products, so why would should I open a store there?” A valid question! So picture this: you’re chatting with a friend in a coffee shop when your eye falls on the sale sign of the shop across the road. After you finish your coffee, you decide to have a quick look, and you end up buying a new pair of sunglasses. Your Facebook store is like this shop; you can attract people’s attention away from socialising, and inspire them to buy, even if they didn’t plan to.

Once you have a Facebook page for your business, you can set up an ecommerce tab on your page. Potential customers can easily see and reach your shop, and you can post status updates and relevant news stories just like on your personal Facebook page. You can really get your brand out there because of the social nature of Facebook, and of course you can advertise special deals for your Facebook customers. It will only take 10 minutes out of your day to set up your Facebook Store, and then you can sit back, relax, and reap the rewards!


How to set up your Facebook Store

To set up a Facebook store, you need to be signed up to an online shop app. Trendzer websites have the option to integrate the online store app Ecwid with their website, which means that Trendzer customers can link their Ecwid shop profile to their business Facebook page. As the products and stock are all managed in Ecwid, both shop fronts will always be up-to-date.

If you’re already using the Ecwid shop functionality which you can integrate with your Trendzer website, any changes you make to your product portfolio in Ecwid will automatically show on your Facebook shop as well. So everything is seamlessly organised and updated using just your Ecwid shop.


Here is how you connect your Ecwid shop to your Facebook store:

  1. Open the Ecwid app: apps.facebook.com/ecwid-shop and click on ‘Install App’.
    1. Make sure your business page in selected in ‘Facebook Pages’ and click on ‘Add Page Tab'.
  2. Now go to your website admin page, and click on the e-commerce app. Then click on ‘view all orders’ to go to your Ecwid store.
    1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and copy the Ecwid Store ID.
    2. Paste the Store ID into the Ecwid Store ID field on your Facebook app and click ‘Save’.
  3. You can now change the settings to make sure the layout is as you want it.
  4. After saving that, you can check what the store looks like on your Facebook page. It’s in the Products tab.
    1. You can change the position of the Products tab to be more prominent by clicking on ‘More’ and dragging it up in the hierarchy.

That’s all! For more details go to the Ecwid help page or get in touch with your Trendzer Digital Expert who can help you out with this, on 0800 047 6777.

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How secure is the Cloud?

cloud security

How secure is the Cloud?

For many businesses, moving your sensitive data to the Cloud, will feel like a less secure option than just keeping their files on your home or work computer. Understandably, because the Cloud is a network of servers outside of your control, and it’s run by another business. How could that be more secure than your own trusted hard drive or server?

In this article, we will explain why it’s a myth that the Cloud is insecure. There are always security fears, but you are much safer in the Cloud than out. Cloud security sits mainly with the measures you can take yourself, so we also share some tips on what you can do to keep your Cloud storage secure.

Perspecsys Photos / Flickr


5 benefits of Cloud computing

Just to reiterate from our previous article on the Cloud - what are the benefits of Cloud computing again?

  • Flexibility: It’s easy to decrease or increase your server space, if your business is changing size.
  • Accessibility: You can work together with colleagues or partners on documents, and it’s much easier to work from home or on the road.
  • Efficiency: Because it’s easier to scale down the amount of server space you use, and you’re using less electricity, as a business you’re saving on energy and money.
  • Economy: There are minimum start-up costs to use Cloud computing, and no need to keep updating and maintaining servers, making it a great option for both new and existing businesses.
  • Security: Broken your laptop? Tablet stolen? You’ve not lost all your files luckily, because they’re safely stored on the Cloud. But how safe is it?...

What are the security issues with Cloud storage?

Cloud providers are a target for hackers

Big Cloud storage servers are like a honeypot to hackers, because they’re filled with sensitive data of millions of people. So how can it be more secure then?

Cloud providers know that their customers want secure storage, so it’s in their interest to keep it as protected as possible. They continuously update their security with data encryption, levels of authorisation and other controls to make their environments more secure.

Microsoft’s Office 365, for example; always encrypt your data, regularly make backups, and don’t disclose their facilities’ locations to the public. The amount of time and money they put into this could never be matched by small to medium-sized businesses controlling their own servers.

Michael Fimin, CEO and co-founder of NetWrix says:

“Having more resources and focusing only on this type of activity, Cloud providers are often far more competitive and reliable than other companies who prefer data storage on premise”. (Forbes)

Loss of ownership and control

Your IT experts may feel anxious about the Cloud, because they can’t quickly respond to any issues in the server room. It’s a good thing for your business though, because server issues are taken care of by the Cloud provider, leaving your IT staff with more time to focus on other important security tasks.

Ownership is another issue: Is your data still yours when stored with a different company? The answer depends on the organisation you store your data with, so it’s paramount to read the terms and conditions before you go on board with it. As an example, this is what Microsoft promises for their Office 365 product: “You own your data and retain all rights, title, and interest in the data you store with Office 365. You can download a copy of all of your data at any time and for any reason, without any assistance from Microsoft.”

And then there is another thing: Do you currently store important data on a USB drive or on your laptop? How often does someone lose a USB drive or breaks a laptop? And what about lost or stolen laptops at an airport, on holiday or even at home! By saving your sensitive data on the Cloud rather than on a portable device, you mitigate the risk of lost or stolen files.

“Cloud Industry Forum research reveals that while 70 per cent of businesses cite concerns about security when moving to the Cloud, 99 per cent never experience a breach when there.” (Raconteur)


What can you do about your own Cloud security?

Have secure passwords

Many people use passwords that are easy to crack or guess – like a pet’s name combined with their year of birth. Guilty?

Another security issue is that people use the same password for multiple purposes. Imagine if someone found out the password for your e-mail, and then discovered it is the same for your online banking, your business laptop and for your Cloud storage? Crank up your security with these tips for how to secure passwords.

  • Create a strong, long and random password. Use capitals, numbers and special characters and don’t include easy to guess words like your own name or a pet’s name. If you want some help, use a password generator.
  • Use different passwords for different logins and keep them safe. This doesn’t mean creating a list of passwords in an email or in an Excel file, but use a password manager instead.

Be aware of phishing, malware and viruses

The biggest threat to your business’ security is not people hacking into your servers - it’s the people working for your company. It’s not malicious employees we’re talking about, but the ones that are tricked by hackers trying to get sensitive data through phishing or malware.

Phishing is internet fraud, and means that a hacker is trying to get sensitive information. It’s good practice to keep yourself and your staff up-to-date on recent phishing methods. Examples of phishing include calls and emails where someone is pretending to be working for your bank or Cloud company, and they ask for your password. Legitimate companies will never ask for your password on the phone or email, so don’t give it!

Another way hackers can get your security details is by pop-ups, websites or emails with malicious software. They want you to click on a link or open an attachment, that will then download a virus or malware on your device. It’s important to be aware that reliable companies usually don’t send attachments. If you don’t quite trust an email or website – don’t click on a link or download something from it. Install anti-malware and anti-virus software from a reputable source to avoid your computer, laptop or phone getting infected.

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How to improve your website for a good user experience

Busy Web Page

How to improve your website for a good user experience

If you take a look around our blog, then you’ll notice that we often focus on SEO. It makes a lot of sense, because if your website isn’t being found by customers, then it isn’t really doing you a whole lot of good!

You can have a beautifully designed site with stunning pictures, but if nobody sees them, they may as well be on your laptop hard drive. On the other hand, though; if you generate lots of traffic but your website visitors run screaming for the hills whenever they land on your home page, then you’re equally likely to lose money. That’s where UI and UX come in.


What is UI?

UI is computing shorthand for User Interface, and it’s basically about “how people interact with computer systems”. The easier it is for someone to use your website, the more likely they are to become a customer. It’s safe to say that the user interface was less than optimal in the video below. Legal note: Trendzer cannot be held responsible for inappropriate YouTube comments!


What is UX?

UX is the digital industry abbreviation for User Experience. This is all about how a visitor feels when they use a website. It is different from UI, which relates mainly to the platform and software. UX is wider and relates to the overall experience of your site visitors, from general satisfaction to ease of understanding.


Improve your website with UX for beginners

Your Trendzer site already has a variety of inbuilt features to help your visitors. It features responsive design, so mobile users can see your content more easily (UI). On top of that, there are various features from free calling and easy social sharing (UX) to help potential customers with their browsing.

But in the online world, there’s always room for improvement somewhere. That’s why we’ve put together four key suggestions that will help you to optimise your site for customer use.


Tip 1: make a simpler user journey

Adverts, pop-ups, Autoplay videos, social media: people get distracted enough while online without your website adding to their confusion. Make sure you don’t have a sprawling site design that has their attention split 17 ways on each page.

This is known as a “busy” page – it’s also known as “making my eyes hurt” - source

To keep things nice and easy, make each page a simple journey. Try factoring in the following considerations:

  • Use one column on each page unless you really need side-by-side comparisons
  • Avoid putting dozens of links on your page – they may be a distraction
  • Try not to have too many sidebars or info panels
  • Round up each page with a Call to Action (CTA) button or on-page contact form (see bonus tips, below)

This last point is particularly important – as we mentioned earlier, it’s typically important for people to find your website and then convert into a customer. Not applying appropriate CTAs reduces the chance of traffic turning into clients.


Tip 2: use strong Calls to Action

Don’t be backward about coming forward. The appropriate phrase in Scotland is “quiet bairns get nae sweets” or “shy monkeys, nae bananas!”

Popular mistakes include over-qualifying your CTA with a bewildering array of pleasantries that only serve to weaken your case. A second factor you should consider is urgency. Asking someone to “Call now for emergency help!” is much more powerful than “Send us an email via our contact form and one of our representatives will get back in touch with you at some stage”.

It doesn’t mean that there’s no room for politeness or some tact, but honestly: if someone has clicked through to your website, then a lot of the foreplay has clearly worked. And skipping gaily past that last metaphor, here’s a few more suggestions:

  • Use two or more CTAs on longer pages: either buttons or text are appropriate to help the user avoid scrolling to find out how to give you money!
  • Consider adding benefits to your CTAs: instead of “Contact us now”, consider something like “Start saving money!” or “Start saving – call now!”
  • Look at strong visual contrasts where possible: if your site has a blue theme, an orange button may really stand out – use the colour wheel below as a guide.

Basic Colour Wheel by Nicholas Raymond – Own Work. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported via Creative Commons

Trendzer’s simple Call to Action Builder app allows you to create attractive and visually engaging CTAs with our trademark drag-and-drop builder. Just access your content apps as below and then drag the CTA icon onto your page.

Follow the step-by-step CTA guide on our helpdesk and you’ll have an attention-grabbing button on your page within minutes. No coding skills necessary!


Tip 3: spell it out for the customer

You’re the expert on what you provide. Help the customer to make the right decision (i.e. give you money!) by spelling out what they need, how to get it, and how it will be delivered.

There are a few ways that you can help them along the journey you’d like them to take. See if you can apply any of the following ideas to your site:

  • Make your content about benefits instead of features: a power washing company shouldn’t be selling their services on the strength of the specs of their hose; they should be selling it on the joy of having a spotless, dirt-free driveway that is the envy of the street!
  • Spell out who should use you: if your services are ideal for landlords because A, B, and C; tell them. If you have an alternative service that may be more suitable for homeowners, point that out and link to the page so they can go and convert there instead.
  • Tell them what to expect: all 99% of people want to know in life is where they stand in a situation. Make that clear from the beginning and you’re off to a good start. If you have a free quotation service, tell the customer when they can expect to get their callback and quote.
  • Talk to the customer like a normal person (this works on two levels): try to address the customer directly in your page content, and use natural language wherever possible as it makes you seem more human.

This last point requires a little common sense: if you are the legal or financial sectors, you may want to avoid sounding overly familiar unless friendliness is part of your company culture. By the same token, tradesmen who specialise in luxury projects and installations may want to maintain an authoritative tone. Just make sure to keep your typical customer in mind.


Tip 4: show social proof and authentication

It’s great to point out your major selling points, but it becomes a bit more powerful if your happy customers are making your case for you. That’s why you should consider a Testimonials page. If you have the time, a Case Study page is a similar but more in-depth alternative.

People also like to see validation from official bodies. So if you are registered with an official standards body like Gas Safe or Certass, don’t keep quiet about it. Provide a logo and a registration number, so your customers can check out your qualifications if they want reassurance!

Finally, it never hurts to highlight your online ratings. If you have a Checkatrade page packed with glowing reviews, don’t keep it a secret! Giving your customers the evidence they need to part with their hard-earned cash will help to convince them.


Until next time…

Hopefully, you’ve found some of our suggestions useful. If you liked the ideas presented and want to learn more, there’s a regularly updated website at Good User Interface that continually posts new suggestions.

And if you’re not sure where to start, you should also consider asking friends and family to take five minutes to look around your website as a customer. Get them to pretend they want to use one of your services and then ask them the following questions:

  • How easily did you find the service?
  • Is it clear what my service provides from information on the site?
  • How can you reach me to use my services?

If the answer to any of those answers is unclear, take a look at the article again and see if you can come up with some new ideas. And remember, any improvements could mean more money, so it’s worth it in the long term. Happy optimising!

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Google+ has changed: what does it mean for you?

New Google+ Interface

Google+ has changed: what does it mean for you?

If there’s one thing that Google is big on, it’s change. Their controversial logo rebrand of September was headline news, and the changes to both local search and Webmaster Tools / Search Console made big waves in internet marketing communities.

The imminent death of Google+ has been talked about in SEO circles for almost a year. But one month on from the November 2015 update to Google’s ailing social network, it seems that the reports of the platform’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

That’s why we decided to look at what the changes mean for small businesses like yours. So, get ready to consider a positive spin on the new Google+. (“Positive”, +, get it?)


What’s up with Google+?

Well, there’s a few things. Firstly, they have revamped the interface, which will replace the “Classic Google+” display in the near future. It is now mobile friendly and arguably a lot more simplified. Secondly, they have shifted the focus of the product onto four main areas:

  • Collections
  • Communities
  • Profile
  • People

Thirdly, and most interestingly for both small businesses and internet marketers, Google have finally cut most of the business functionality off completely, to be found instead on other apps and platforms.

So essentially, the new-look Google+ is a place for interests, rather than the Google equivalent of a Facebook Business page. So, what does this mean for you (and us)?


Use Google+ for connections and content

You can still use Google+ to promote your business, but purely in a content marketing and networking sense. By cleaving the business information away from Google+, and essentially killing the platform’s connection with local search, Google has shifted the focus largely on to social sharing.

This means there can still be utility in using Google+ for your business, but only if you are willing to engage with the platform. Your two main options are Collections or Communities.


Sharing with Google+ Collections

Using Collections can help spread the name of your business, but probably only if you have a dedicated online content strategy, a massive brand, or a tendency to create or use shareable content as part of your everyday work. By this, we particularly mean visual businesses such as:

  • Photographers
  • Designers
  • Fashion retailers

Like the above Edinburgh photography example, Collections are quite heavily image and video-driven, so if you utilise imagery on Instagram or Pinterest as part of your marketing, you could start your own Collection that people can follow and share. The end goal is to get your business name in people’s minds, and either build rapport or showcase your work.


Networking with Google+ Communities

The somewhat underused Communities feature of Google+ remains much the same as it was before the latest change. It can be a very good place to meet customers and businesses with similar interests. You can also start your own Community and try to engage people on your own specialist topics.

For example, Trendzer started the above Community called "Edinburgh Businesses", where companies can meet, network, or discuss local issues. You could start your own Community based around your area of expertise, offering anything from consumer tips to industry news or advice.


Google My Business is the place to manage your business

While Google+ has been exiled from local search relevance, you can and should still optimise your presence online - only using Google My Business (or GMB) instead. The information that you provide and verify in GMB will appear in a variety of areas of your online search footprint, including:

  • Google search
  • Google knowledge boxes (see below)
  • Google Maps
  • Mobile search

Managing your Google presence online is now perhaps a little clearer, as the GMB interface now features the Photos of your business, where before it was attached to both Google+ and Maps. And those all-important reviews are on the next tab along.

Which brings us to one of the more significant changes made of late. It became common practice for SEOs to recommend that small businesses should link their Google+ Reviews page to and from their website to encourage customer reviews. Now that Google+ and the Reviews feature have been unceremoniously separated, the most straightforward source of customer reviews is gone.

A lot of local SEO experts (and quite a few small business owners) are quite upset. But there’s no need for concern quite just yet...


Use Google Maps to encourage customer reviews

You can still prove your professionalism to the British public by encouraging customers to leave reviews of your services. Instead of the old method, which was to link to your Google+ About page and the Reviews section, you just need to redirect them to your Map listing instead!

Simply Google your business by name, and then look for the knowledge box on the right of the search results, which should hopefully contain a map. Clicking through on the little map should take you through to your Maps listing.

Try it out yourself just now. If you can’t see a display like the above, you probably need to make sure that your business is properly set up and verified on Google My Business as a matter of urgency!

Finally, to create your link, just add some text to your pages, like “Review us on Google”, and then link from that text to the URL for your Map footprint. Just copy the browser address and paste it into the link destination field.

As we’ve noted in previous blog posts, encouraging customer reviews is a good way that you can improve your (local) search rankings, and it doesn’t require technical expertise or money. Don’t just take it from us, take it from this lovely graph from  BrightLocal, which shows the increasing importance of reviews over just four years. 88% of customers in 2014 checked reviews, and the number was rising:


Takeaways until next time

That’s all for now until our next blog article. If you take anything away from this, we’d like it to be these three points:

  1. Google+ still has value for sharing content via Collections and Communities
  2. Google My Business is where you should manage your local search presence, knowledge box, and business information
  3. Google Maps and the knowledge box are where you should encourage customer reviews

If you have any questions or queries, feel free to give us a shout on social media. Otherwise, bookmark our page, and come back soon!       

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Five ways to spend a fiver to boost your business

online course

Five ways to spend a fiver to boost your business

You’ve probably thought long and hard about how you invest in your business, what fits with goals and business type. We’re not going to pretend we know better than you about how to invest your money, but we’re going to let you know of five ways to invest only £5 to boost your business. Sounds good?


1. Facebook Ads

With a Facebook ad, you’re paying money to highlight one of your posts to potential customers. You can target your ads to specific geographic areas, age groups, education levels, etc. Make sure to use these targeting options to narrow down who sees your ad, creating a more tailored potential customer base.

Create an engaging ad, that will make people interested in your business. Perhaps promote your summer sale or add a discount code. You should always have call to action on your ad, with a link to your Facebook page, website or online shop.

You can set a budget for your ad starting as low as $0.01 per click on your link. You can also choose to pay per 1,000 impressions. Look into the difference between the types of ads and budget before you start. Your budget can be as high or low as you want, and your ad will stop running once this budget has been reached.


2. Take an Online Course

There are many free online courses to be found on sites such as Future Learn and Alison, which is great value obviously! The only downside is that they can be a bit hit and miss, and you might not get the opportunity to ask questions to a teacher. If you’re ready to spend a little money, you can find discounted courses on Udemy.

Whether you’re interested in personal development or business growth, there are a plethora of courses from Project Management to Confidently Speaking on the Telephone.


3. Pay Per Click Ads

Pay Per Click Ads on search engines like Google can get you quality leads, if done right. Pay Per Click Advertising means that you have an advertisement for a certain set of keywords, and you pay a small amount each time someone clicks on it. You can set your total budget so there is no fear of overspending.

Google AdWords is the most popular tool for PPC, and it’s easy to get started on it. Start with keyword research using the keyword planner tool, and choose a term that is relevant for your business and fits your budget.

Trendzer’s Dedicated Digital Experts know the ins and outs of PPC advertising, and if you want to take your PPC advertising to the next level, we have got your back.


4. Run a Giveaway

A well-executed social media giveaway can help you grow your business for a relatively low cost. The idea is that in order to win the thing you’re giving away, people need to like, share or comment on your social media post. Give away a limited edition product, a gift card or a free service. Don’t forget to promote your giveaway on all your social media channels, your website and by email marketing.

You then need to ask your followers to share the giveaway, comment on it by tagging friends, or like it. These types of giveaways can help you gain a large following of potential customers through the snowball effect of social sharing.


5. App or Tool

Now there are many amazing free apps that make working life a little bit easier. When you invest a little money though, from only £1-£5, you can get the premium versions of apps, with more features and possibilities.

For £5 you get Evernote premium, the app that organises your work and collects all your notes, documents and allows you to present. Also think of scanner apps, allowing you to scan and save documents from your phone, or an app that lets you scan your receipts and track business expenses easily.

While you’re at it, download the Trendzer mobile app for free! You can manage your online presence on the go with Windows, iOS and Android.


And of Course There is Fiverr

As there is a website for almost everything, it’s probably no surprise to you that there is a site where you can buy services for just a fiver. All types of freelancers offer their services on website Fiverr, including graphic designers, animators, copywriters, SEO specialists, videographers, translators, musicians and more.


If you’re thinking of buying a service from Fiverr, make sure to check the reviews thoroughly, as the quality of the delivered services can vary immensely!

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Five reasons why eCom is more important than a storefroNT

online shopping increasing

Five reasons why eCommerce is more important than a storefront

You have set up your business selling physical products. Traditionally, you’d sell these products from a shop in a busy shopping street: nothing says entrepreneurship more than owning a business at your local high street, doesn’t it?

However, while owning a storefront is a great achievement, it’s incredibly important to set up an online shop as well. In fact, we believe that for many types of businesses your eCommerce website is actually much more important than your storefront, and we assembled five reasons why:


1.High street shopping is declining, while online shopping is increasing

You may have seen it on the news: increasingly more high street retailers suffer from online competition. According to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, UK sales from e-retail grew by 16.5% between June 2015 and June 2016, and average order value became higher as well ( IMRG, 2016). At the same time, high streets, malls and retail parks experienced a decline in customers. In some UK cities, the amount of high street shoppers declined by up to 10% (The Guardian, 2016).

For customers, eCommerce takes less time and offers many more options than the average shopping centre does. Seeing as numbers for online sales continue to increase, it is widely regarded as the future of retail and as a business owner, you’ll want to invest in that future.


2.eCommerce offers unlimited space for your products and services

This might be the most obvious reason why selling online is so convenient. Physical stores are a great starting point for your retail business, but expanding your line of products or increasing your stock has its limitations. Growing businesses spend a lot of time and money on moving and remodelling their property in order to create more storage. With eCommerce this is much less of an issue. Of course you’ll still need some form of storage, but it doesn’t have to be a small space in the middle of a busy shopping street, especially considering how buildings in city centres tend to be more expensive than works spaces and storage units that are somewhat further away. It makes eCommerce a rather flexible business venture that should appeal to any company looking to get the most out of their online presence.


3.eCommerce is less expensive than a retail store

Generally speaking, eCommerce will not cost as much as a retail store does. You don’t have to purchase furniture or decoration for your store and you probably won’t have to hire as many staff members. Plus, utility bills and rent are usually much lower – especially when working from home or from a small office space outside of the city centre. With an eCommerce website, your expenses will probably only relate directly to your website and your online marketing. This comprises web hosting, technical support and your shipping and payment system. It can be quite an investment, but working with a professional and affordable website developer ensures your eCommerce website pays itself off.


4.eCommerce requires less physical work, allows more flexibility

Much like online shopping is very convenient for customers, it offers plenty of advantages for business owners and staff as well. Sure, you’ll need to set up an online shop and maintain it, but that requires much less time and physical work than keeping a storefront clean, tidy and presentable. Especially when there are so many simple eCommerce platforms to choose from that take the hard work out of your hands. You can spend less time worrying about the presentation of your shop, your staff and you won’t be on your feet all week long. This gives you more time to work on other important aspects of your business.

Additionally, eCommerce allows you to be more flexible when it comes to working hours and locations. You may work at night, you may work during weekends: it’s completely up to you. And you can work from virtually any location you want, whether that’s an office space, your home or your favourite pub.


5.You can expand your audience more easily

One of the ways to do this is with online marketing. Combine a nicely working eCommerce website with excellent SEO skills, and you’ll see your clientele and turnover grow tremendously. Google has a directory called ‘Shopping’, which lists search enquiry results for eCommerce websites only. Making sure your website and your product show up in results for relevant searches is vital when trying to establish an online business.


Create your eCommerce website with Trendzer

Trendzer offers the possibility to set up an SEO- and mobile-friendly website with the option to add a free online shop. Moreover, we will make sure you get the hang of online marketing and if you’re still having trouble figuring out how to optimise your online sales, we’re always ready to help.


Do you want to find out more about our website packages? Call us now on 0800 047 6777.

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5 LinkedIn tips for small businesses

linkedin tablet

5 LinkedIn tips for small businesses

Many people think LinkedIn is just an online CV, but there are many ways you can use the platform to grow your business. As a small business owner, you’re not looking for a job, so what can you use LinkedIn for? Take a look at our basic introduction to LinkedIn for SME’s and read our five tips for using LinkedIn to your benefit.


Basic introduction to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 400 million users. Build an online profile with your professional accomplishments to find and be found by others.

LinkedIn is one of the most important social networks for businesses that sell B2B, because it easily lets you connect with other businesses. If you only sell to consumers, we’d still recommend using LinkedIn, but other networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram might prove more efficient.

As a small business owner, you can use LinkedIn as a tool to grow your business by building professional credibility and connecting to others in your industry.


1. Use a personal page as well as a company page

Big businesses are anonymous, and their brand is built up by their logo, motto and reputation. As a small business owner, you yourself are the brand. In order to expand business relationships, you’ll need a personal profile on LinkedIn. Why? People want to deal with people!

A company page is useful to recruit for positions within your company. It also shows you some analytics on reach, engagement and the makeup of your audience. The downside of a company page is that you cannot start a conversation; you can only reply to messages that were sent to you first. You also can’t join a LinkedIn Group with a company page, only with a personal page. So in order to network and connect with other people, you will need a personal page as well.


2. Connect with like-minded people

You might feel shy about sending a message to connect to someone you don’t know personally. LinkedIn is a networking platform though, so you should use it for that purpose! If someone has viewed your profile, is posting in the same groups, or is in any way relevant to your business – you should think about sending a connection request. Make sure to add a personalised message to increase your success rate.

It’s also a great idea to join groups relevant to your industry or person. If you’re a plumber you can join the group Plumbers Talk, if you own a female financial adviser you can join Woman in Banking & Finance UK. There are groups for almost anything! In these groups, you join in discussions, ask and answer questions, and network with people in your field. Another benefit of joining a group is that you can send messages to fellow group members, even if you’re not connected to them. This could prove useful when you’re recruiting for someone. One last benefit for connecting with others is to get endorsed!


3. Get endorsed

As a business owner, you’ll know how important reputation is. Unlike 20 years ago, everyone can now post a review about a business online, whether positive or negative. LinkedIn also has a ‘review’ function, for your professional skills and accomplishments. People who work for a company can get recommendations from that company, but as your own boss, you can still get recommendations. You can add projects to your personal page, for which you can ask partners or professional contacts for a recommendation.

A less intrusive way of building your professional reputation is to get endorsed for certain skills. Add all the skills that are relevant to you on your personal page. Then go through your professional contacts’ profiles and endorse them for skills you know they have. When they get notified about your kind endorsement, most of them will feel the need to endorse you back.

When you have a good online reputation, your potential customers will see that you are a professional in your field, and they will be more inclined to do business with you.


4. Post engaging content

Apart from on your website, you can also post blogs and share other interesting content on LinkedIn. These will appear in the timeline of people who follow your business page or are connected to your personal profile. They can then engage with it by liking, commenting or sharing, just like on Facebook. Keep the following in mind when posting content on LinkedIn:

  • Share your professional expertise in content that adds value to other professionals.
  • Mix it up; don’t always post the same. You could share a blog article, images, ask questions or give advice. Take a look at some more content ideas.
  • Keep it business-related. Funny is fine, but holiday pictures or gaudy jokes are not!

A benefit of posting content on LinkedIn is that when your connections (see point 2) engage with your content, it will show up on their connections’ timeline as well. So it’s possible your content might go ‘viral’. So if you are the professional voice on LinkedIn on physiotherapy, and one of your connections has back pain, guess who they’ll turn to?


5. Recruiting employees

As a small business, you won’t use LinkedIn as often for recruiting as larger businesses, because you don’t have as many employees. You might use a local newspaper or job website to post your vacancies, but why not just post it on LinkedIn as well to increase your chances?

Once you’ve posted the job advert, share it on your personal profile, website and other social networks. If you have done a bit networking in groups, you’ll have a selection of suitable candidates to message about your vacancy as well.


That’s all!

When used effectively, LinkedIn can help you gain new business leads, connect with like-minded businesses, and grow your business. Good luck!

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Five free apps for small businesses

business card

Five free apps for small businesses

Get your smartphone ready and connect to the WiFi, because you will want to start downloading some apps soon!

In this article, we highlight some simple apps that can make your working life a little easier. We analyse the good and the bad, and give some examples.


Business card apps

Networking can already feel like a drag, but having to add a dozen business cards to your contact list is even worse. These apps scan business cards by taking a photo. They accurately read the information on the image, sort the information and add the details to your phone contact list.

Source: Jay Goodman, Freeimages

The good: If you get a lot of business cards it is a useful app to save all the data in your phone straight away. It will save you the bother of having to manually add contact details.

The bad: The software that recognises the text on the cards doesn’t always work correctly and you have to manually edit the entries. Especially if you have a lot of foreign contacts, this might not work for you.

Some examples of apps like this are:

  • ABBYY Business Card Reader: reads in 22 languages, and uses world-famous optical character recognition technology.
  • ScanBizCard Lite: reads in 22 languages, and has a simple and attractive address book.
  • CamCard: reads in 17 languages, and allows you to add notes or reminders.

Scanner apps

Whether you want to save receipts to reclaim VAT, a brainstorm on a whiteboard, or notes on a napkin – these apps make sure you don’t forget them! They take a snapshot and save the picture as a PDF to the cloud so you can find it later on other devices.

Source: Jonathan Natiuk, Freeimages

The good: You don’t have to keep a paper copy of your document, and it’s saved in the cloud so you and your colleagues can access it easily.

The bad: The quality of the PDFs won’t be as good as an actual scanner.

Some examples of apps like this are:

  • Google Drive: the scanner is just one of many features of Google Drive. It’s also a cloud storage facility where you can share documents. The scanner feature is not available on iOS yet.
  • CamScanner: works on just about every platform. The free version does add a watermark to your documents.
  • Genius Scan: simple and intuitive interface. Some features are only available with an upgrade to the paid app.


Navigation apps

Being on your phone whilst driving is of course a big no-no, but there are some great apps out there than can get you to your destination faster. These apps show you the fastest route using the latest traffic reports.

Source: Jean Scheijen, Freeimages

The good: You don’t need to buy an expensive GPS system and you will arrive at your destination on time.

The bad: Using GPS and apps like these can quickly drain the battery life. Make sure to bring a charger if you’re going to have a long day on the road!

Some examples of apps like this are:

  • Waze: the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. It also lets you find the cheapest gas station!
  • Sygic: offline maps provided by TomTom, so it doesn’t eat your battery as much as the other apps. But because it’s offline, there are no live traffic updates.
  • Google maps: standard on every Android phone. Integrated with other Google software and also includes cycle and walking routes.

Communication apps

Are your colleagues on the road a lot, or are you getting too many unnecessary emails? Perhaps it’s time to use a communication app instead. Use these apps to phone, message and chat to colleagues or customers.

The good: You can use these apps on your phone and computer, and it doesn’t cost you anything (apart from data) to phone someone.

The bad: The free versions of the below three apps don’t include all features. You need to upgrade to the paid version to get business functions like video conferencing.

Some examples of apps like this are:

  • Skype: the most famous video call and message app, so there is a big chance your customers use this app too. The free version works great for businesses up to 20 employees. The paid version, Skype for Business, is available with Office 365. Contact Trendzer at 0800 047 6777 for more information about Office 365.
  • Hipchat: the most established secure team communication and collaboration app for businesses. This app is integrated with over 80 other apps, making it great for tech companies.
  • Slack: Hipchat’s main new competitor. Many teams have been seen switching to Slack for its simple design and useful features.

Trendzer app

Of course, we can’t forget our own app, the Trendzer app! With this free app you can manage your Trendzer website on the move. 














You can add and edit pages, post a blog entry, and email your customers. The app also allows you to manage your bookings online, improve your SEO and view your analytics. The Trendzer app is a handy tool for making quick content changes and managing your website on the go.


If you haven’t downloaded the Trendzer app yet, you should really do so now! The Trendzer app is available for Windows and Android phones, and will soon be ready for iOS.

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5 effective ways to review your website

Finding Page Titles Manually

5 effective ways to review your website

Got a website but not sure how it’s working for you? If you aren’t tracking your incoming calls or contact form inquiries, it can sometimes be difficult to know how your website is working for you.

If you have a Trendzer website, or know your way around Google Analytics, you can find some facts and figures that may give you some reassurance. But you can also take your destiny in your own hands by conducting your own review of your website and online presence.

So, let’s take a few minutes to look into how you can get a better understanding of what pages are working for you, and where you could gain some quick wins...


1. Get an overview of organic

First order of the day is to find out where your website is currently doing in Search Engine Result Pages, or SERPs. There are a few ways you can achieve this, but there are a couple of go-to checks that anyone can do with a little bit of effort:

  1. Check site performance against current page keywords
  2. Check site performance against desired search terms

For the first, all you need to do is determine what search terms are currently being targeted on your web pages. You can do this manually, or by using a tool such as  Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which we gave props to earlier in the year.

The manual option involves going to each of your landing pages for products or services and jotting down the page title that can be found in your website tab, or by right-clicking on your page and viewing the page source, as below.

Once you’ve noted all of your landing page titles - we recommend adding them to a spreadsheet, but you can use a pen and paper if you’re particularly committed to making life difficult for yourself - then you can start finding out how you are performing against those terms.

There are a couple of ways that you can do this - one is to use a browser tool such as FatRank to generate a report of how your site performs in search. Simply go to your site, activate FatRank, enter the titles alongside your geographical location (e.g., for the above example this page would be “online bakery edinburgh”), and note what rank is returned. “1” means first organic result, while “20” would be bottom of page two on a default Google SERP display.

Below, one of our SEOs has recorded how a website for a carpentry company is performing in searches such as “carpenter manchester”, “joinery manchester”, and “wooden staircase manchester”.

If you aren’t ranking for a particular search term that you would like to, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my website have a dedicated page for that product /service?
  • Is the search term/keyword present in page titles, headers, and page content?
  • Is there 250 words or more on the page?
  • Is there a lot of competition for that term?

Top tip - you have a better chance of ranking for a product or service search term if you have a dedicated page with unique content - so start thinking about adding pages to your site!


2. Look at your local results

Even if you aren’t getting first page rankings in organic search, you can still gain a foothold by appearing in local search. For new readers and the clinically forgetful, local search is the cluster of map-based results that muscle in just above the organic (“normal”) search results, as in this picture:

The first thing to do would be do a few Google searches to determine how many search terms related to your business have a map display. So, work your way back through your list of website keywords and see which ones return local results.

For example, using the same keywords from our sample report earlier, we discover that Googling “carpenter manchester” and “joinery manchester” both result in a map after the paid ads…

...while “wooden staircase manchester” goes from paid ads straight into organic results...

That’s because search engines are very good at distinguishing between service providers and products, so they return results based on what will suit their customers best. So, make sure to check that your search term is worth pursuing in local search before your continue!

Now, as industry SEO stalwarts Moz have revealed earlier this year, there are dozens of factors that affect your rankings in local search. Feel free to swot up on them. But if you want things summarised and simplified (and who doesn’t, right?), then focus on these three areas:

  • Finding quality links (see part 3 for details)
  • Submitting to relevant, reputable directories
  • Requesting customer feedback

You’ll find more info on directories and reviews in our  guide to local search changes in 2015, but for links you need to stay tuned for the next section. By applying the logic of all three areas above, you can hopefully make some gains in local search for your chosen keywords.

Top tip - during your local search checks, keep an eye out for directories and review websites such as Yell, Yelp, or TripAdvisor in the organic results, e.g., the Yell.com presence in the above “wooden staircases manchester” screenshot. If you spot one of these sites, make sure that your business gets a listing on the relevant category, as it could help to boost your inquiries and business profile.


3. Look at your link profile

As noted a minute ago, quality links are important for online success. “How so?” we hear you cry. Well, the major search engines decide which sites to display in search results by a complex series of algorithms. But basically, what they are looking for is “authority”. For example, websites like Wikipedia or Oxford Dictionaries have very high authority.

If one website links to another, it is often taken as a “vote of confidence”. For example, in this blog, we’ve written an article about SEO and linked to Screaming Frog and Open Site Explorer. This is a strong indicator that both these sites are experts in the area of SEO, which supports their (already large) authority.

Now, the above description is very simplified, but the main point that can be taken away is that “good links to your site are good”. So, with a free tool such as Open Site Explorer (or OSE), you can tell quite quickly if you have any (or many) valuable links to your site.

This popular and free solution was voted one of our best free SEO tools earlier this year. It will show you the top links to any URL you submit, and each reference will give you two scores - Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA). For simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on DA for this article, and provide Moz’s own definition here.

Most small businesses can expect their DA to be anywhere from 0 up to the mid-10s, with some (particularly the SEO-aware) weighing in around the 20s and 30s. For your business, this probably means that if you don’t have any “Inbound Links” (or links to your website) that have DA in the 25+ region, you should consider trying to gain some.

How do you gain valuable links? Well, it isn’t necessarily a simple task, but here are some suggestions:

  1. Write a blog article on a controversial topic within your industry or sector, and then invite comments and counter-arguments on social media
  2. Conduct an interview with an influential person and share a video or a transcript of the occasion
  3. Create a “Best Of…” resource guide for your industry (either your choice or customer submissions)
  4. Make a downloadable resource that provides genuine user value and then encourage people to share it with their contacts

Not all links from high authority sites will lend you any authority. Links from social media and directory listings tend to be “nofollow” which basically means no authority is transmitted to the destination site. But being on a high profile website still has non-SEO benefits in terms of improved visibility.

Top tip - complementary businesses and local networking events can be a great source of links if you do some hob-nobbing with the right people. Just make sure any links provide genuine value to customers, as this is precisely what Google wants. Exchanging meaningless reciprocal links is frowned upon - see Google’s guidelines for more information.


4. Take a NAP...

Sadly, we don’t mean you can take a fly snooze in the middle of your review, though we’re sure that there’s little chance of that anyway. All this exciting talk of keywords and Domain Authority no doubt has you wide awake!

Shameless pic of cuteness - awwww!

Image from Freeimages.com/ sean ratke

No, NAP is short for “Name Address Phone” and is a good way for you to find out how you’re being represented online. Simply pop your business name, business address, and telephone number into a Google search and then see what pops up.

Chances are, you’ll see your website and a social media profile or two appearing first. If you have social media profiles that don’t appear, it may indicate that these pages are missing vital information, aka your address!

What you should do now is copy the web addresses of the main results into a spreadsheet. Then, you can work your way through them later, checking in on each one to identify opportunities. As well as social media profiles, you can also expect to find a few other “NAP references”, including:

  • Directory listings - whether you created them, or they were automatically generated
  • Review sites - may also be set up by you, auto-populated or submitted by customers
  • Blogs or forums - if someone has recommended or reviewed your business in a post

So, what can you do with this information? Well, in the case of directory listings and review sites, you can try to make sure that your profile contains all the information that you want to display. This can be anything from product or service keywords to your business logo or company slogan.

You can also check in on review feedback, respond (politely, of course) to customer complaints, and say thank you to positive comments. Really, it’s all about finding and owning all online references to your business.

Top tip - any sites that appear in the first 5-10 results could well have good authority - use Open Search Explorer or Moz Bar to investigate. We recommend that you try to secure a link to your website from these sources, as they may increase general online visibility.


5. Compare with your competitors

We’ll keep this one short and sweet. It’s all well and good being set up correctly, but if your business rivals are doing more and better, you may still struggle. That’s why our fifth and final tip is to review your site in relation to your competitors. So you should compare:

  • Landing pages and content
  • NAP results including online reviews
  • Backlink profile
  • Social media posts

Spending a little time on checking out the competition can help you to imitate and innovate. And that should give you enough ideas to go toe-to-toe with most of the businesses that are vying for the same customer base.

Top tip - competitor backlink profiles may well contain industry-specific links such as industry authorities, niche directories, local directories, or blog posts related to your line of work. Check each one to see if you can gain helpful links as well.

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eCommerce strategy tips for success

Analytics

eCommerce strategy tips for success

Okay then: you’ve used our guide to make some initial eCommerce plans, and you’ve implemented our wisdom on how to produce good quality content. Now it’s time to keep pushing the envelope!

In the first article, we likened running an eCommerce website to working on your personal fitness. That meant three stages:

  1. Set up for success – lay the foundations of a successful website and plan for social media backup
  2. Build basic strength – optimise your eCommerce pages for search engines and user experience
  3. Maintain your routine for results – continue to flex those marketing muscles to keep the sales coming

By now, you should have the first two stages covered off. If not, pay attention! You need to go back and get the basics right. But if everything is in place already, then we’re ready to look into what you can do to take your efforts to the next level...


Analyse your sales and visits

Firstly, you should make sure that your site is set up with Google Analytics. It’s a popular free tool that you can use to track where visitors arrive and how they got there. You can even set special eCommerce tracking to see how your customer journey is working.

So, it’s particularly useful way to see how your wonderful new site and its content are performing. You should keep an eye out for several key factors connected to your site visitors, including:

  • Most popular search keywords
  • Most popular landing pages
  • Percentage of mobile users
  • Shopping cart behaviour (advanced knowledge required here)

The ultimate goal is to produce regular reports - whether you prefer weekly, monthly or quarterly - that can track buying trends and hopefully help you to anticipate customer behaviour over time. Not only will a report help you identify your successes, it should also give you an insight into what could be improved.


Keep up the house cleaning

It’s fairly essential to do a little tidying in a real shop every now and then, and a virtual shop is no different. Where a badly maintained brick-and-mortar shop can lead to a bad reputation and lost customers, so can a neglected eCommerce site.

Cleanliness, godliness, etc.

(Stat: Kissmetrics / Image from FreeImages.com: Roma Flowers)

Make sure to use Search Console to check on the status of your pages. Close in on any Crawl Errors and determine whether they are a temporary oversight or an ongoing issue. If you have discontinued a product and deleted its page, you should investigate using 301 redirects to make customers arrive on one of your functional pages.

Otherwise, there’s a risk of your site looking poorly organised to Googlebot and human visitors alike. And that’s bad for both SEO and user experience, which can potentially translate to “not being found” or “not being liked by your visitors”.


Check your directory submissions

One of the big bad truths of online marketing recently was found in a recent online article about the death of SEO. If you have neither the time nor the energy to read it, we’ll summarise it for you: SEO still actually exists, but it needs to focus on optimising for all search engines, not just Google.

That means optimising your online presence for websites with search facilities, including Yell.com, Google+, or Facebook. For you, this means making sure that your website URL is listed in relevant directories, whether that be for eCommerce businesses, wholesale businesses, or whatever else applies to your enterprise.


Don’t be anti-social (...media)

Social networks are a great place to meet customers on their own territory. If you run an eCommerce business, then you should maximise your social efforts to ensure that their products arrive under your client’s noses. This is especially true if you don’t have a physical shopfront - you need to make the most of virtual spaces!

So, as we suggested in the first eCommerce blog of this series, you should already be thinking about where your customers are hanging out. Make sure to diversify your platforms as much as possible without biting off more than you can chew. Platforms you should consider are:

  • Facebook - for almost any eCommerce shop
  • Twitter - see “Facebook”
  • Instagram - any eCommerce site that uses imagery (i.e., any site)
  • Pinterest - see “Instagram”
  • LinkedIn - B2B sales, IT equipment, stationery, furniture
  • Google+ - see “Facebook”

Now, that may seem like a lot of work developing, but you shouldn’t shy away from this responsibility for several reasons:

  1. It’s free advertising on the doorstep of all your customers
  2. You can automate and schedule posts across most of these platforms
  3. You can also replicate your image posts across multiple platforms
  4. It gives you direct access to customer feedback on your products and services

That’s right, social media is a great place to test the waters with a fledgling ad campaign. If the products or their images don’t get a lot of attention, it may be worth focusing your efforts on other items.

Just make sure to put forward your friendliest face (literally, if you have anyone in the business who doesn’t have a “face for radio”), whether it’s responding to customer queries or updating your followers on the latest news around the business. People like to buy from businesses they can trust, so give them a good reason to splash the cash.


Reward loyalty with love

They’re nothing new, and they have worked for decades already: a good loyalty programme can encourage repeat custom and make your buyers feel rewarded as well. Whether you want to use third-party software, commission your own app, or send out an email the (increasingly) “old-fashioned” way; you can win vital bonus points in the eyes of your customers.

It may seem like a big business tactic, but advertising and marketing research by experts Manta and BIA/Kelsey found that 64% of USA small businesses found customer loyalty schemes had been “effective”. In plain English, this means they made more money than they spent on the scheme.

Repeat customers spend more (67%) than first-time visitors and are more motivated to spread the word about a repeat business. A loyalty programme can help a small business compete not only against local rivals, but also against nationwide or global competitors who offer schemes but can’t provide that personal touch as easily.


Chase those reviews

People can’t get enough of stars, whether it’s for local search results, product reviews, or poorly considered tattoos (yes, we went there). Social proof can be an incredibly powerful weapon in your armoury. If your eCommerce site has a Product Review facility, then make sure to follow up a sale with an email asking for a review a little while later.

It works for Amazon, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for you.

If you don’t have that facility, you can still chase up some positive feedback. Ask your customer to post a review on Google+, Yell.com or a similar business aggregating platform. Failing that, you can put any written feedback as a testimonial for the product or your business: just make sure to ask permission to use the customer’s words online first.

For our final tip, never underestimate the power of a good freebie. If you can donate one of your products as a free gift in exchange for a review - either online or print - then you’ll be encouraging publicity at the expense of just one sale.


Get selling!

So, you're all set to start selling. To summarise, the major takeaways from this final article are:

  1. Track and report on your traffic and sales.
  2. Remove dead links and old URLs regularly.
  3. Find and submit your website URL to high quality directories
  4. Use social media to test product popularity and engage customers
  5. Make a loyalty programme to encourage repeat purchasing
  6. Actively pursue good reviews to encourage new shoppers

That’s all from our three-part guide to getting the best out of your eCommerce website. For more tips on marketing, SEO, and running a small business; bookmark our blog page, and check in on our social media posts regularly.

Now, go get those sales!

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eCommerce and Christmas: the facts you can't ignore

Top 10 best SEO tools

eCommerce and Christmas: the facts you can’t ignore

You better not pout, because we’re telling you why to be ready for an eCommerce Christmas. Here’s 5 sets of facts that you should consider…

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Conversion rate optimisation for small businesses: intro

Ways to success

Conversion rate optimisation for small businesses: an introduction

Make the most of your web traffic by fine tuning your website. Conversion rate optimisation or CRO is the science of finding out what makes more of your visitors convert into paying customers.

It’s a common gripe among small business owners that they see plenty of Analytics traffic but “my phone isn’t ringing” or “nobody is filling out the contact form”. If this is the case for you, then it is definitely worth looking at your site with a fresh pair of eyes.

So without any more messing about, let us dive into the topic of conversion rate optimisation like Katie Hopkins would into an outrageous statement.


What is conversion rate optimisation?

To briefly summarise, CRO is a drive to analyse the behaviours of your website visitors and see how you can produce better conversion rates against your chosen goals. A goal can be any number of outcomes, including:

  • An eCommerce purchase
  • A tracked phone inquiry
  • An email query
  • A completed Contact Form inquiry
  • A subscription to your newsletter
  • A registration for downloadable content
  • An viewing of a video

You should use Google Analytics to measure your conversion rates. Make sure you’re set up for the basics with our intro guide and then take a look at Google’s own help page on setting goals. We’ve also embedded their video intro below, in case you’re interested.

An example of a conversion rate

Perkins Plumbers have a contact form for “free quotations on boiler installations”, which is distinct from their regular contact form for general inquiries. Their owner Pete Perkins decides he wants to get a better understanding of the conversion rate for the “free quotations” form.

To measure the conversion rate, Pete could compare the number of site visitors with the number of completed form submissions over a period of time. By measuring each week or each month, Pete can see if there is a trend in the conversion rate and then make changes to the site to see if he can help increase that rate significantly.


How to put CRO into action: 5 simple steps

Before you get started with conversion optimisation, you should consider a few things. As we said before, CRO is “the science” of finding out what makes more customers convert. And “science” means analysis and tracking results.


1. Establish your baseline

Before you get started with CRO, you need to establish your baseline. Decide what you are measuring as a conversion: this is the behaviour you want to improve over time.

If you have 400 visitors a month, and 2 people per month fill out your contact form, then your conversion rate will be 2/400=0.005, or 0.5%. Your aim with CRO is therefore to increase this percentage.


2. Find an element to test and optimise

In our example, you have a conversion rate of 0.5% for your contact form. If you want to increase the rate, what can you do to improve it, and how can you test it? A workable theory might be “adding a call-to-action button in a prominent area that links to the contact form”.


3. Make tests and track results

Figure out what changes you can make to improve your conversion rate. Remember to only change one variable at a time, otherwise it will be difficult to track what it was that improved the rate.

Continuing our example, we decide to put a special “Request a Quote” call to action (or CTA) button at the top of the page content on the home page. If you also decide to add a text link at the bottom of each page, it becomes very difficult to track which change leads to the next set of conversion rate results.

You could try the button first for one interval, and then try the text links for another period of time. Just make sure to record results over the same period and make changes one at a time. Measure the results against your baseline, and you’ll soon see what works.


4. Implement the changes

Now you’ve saved and assessed your data, it’s time to put it into action. Which test had the biggest impact? Bear in mind that a very minor change (less than 5%) could just be random chance for larger samples in the many hundreds and thousands.

To get into the realm of what statistical boffins call “statistical significance” for these bigger samples, you ideally want to see a change of more than 5% as a rule of thumb.

However for a smaller business, if there is a small and steady improvement, it isn’t to be sniffed at. A 1% increase (to 1.5%) would mean 4 extra customers per month on our original example. That would be 3 times as much customer contact!


5. Rinse and repeat!

As we keep on stating in our blog, website optimisation isn’t a goal, it’s a journey. If you improve one area of your site, it’s time to pat yourself on the back, deal with the extra business that’s hopefully generated, and then go on making improvements to your website.

Try looking at as many areas of your site as possible, whether that means your eCommerce shopping cart journey or copy used for your special offers. Try looking at your site with the eyes of a stranger: you don’t want to make your customer’s journey too complex, as in this video.

There are virtually endless ways where your site could potentially be improved, as this blog of 100 CRO case studies from Kissmetrics shows. Just remember to pursue them one at a time, so you can accurately track the outcomes.


Trendzer users: try out our CTA builder

A visual Call to Action button is a great way to guide your visitors down your customer journey. You can make a graphic with great visual impact just by following our help and support guide for the CTA builder.

It’s a simple way to add a customised button with your site’s design and text style in mind. Give it a try, and then apply some CRO using different colours or page positions.

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Content for eCommerce websites: pages, products, & pictures

Mobile eCommerce

Content tips for eCommerce websites: pages, products, and pictures

Your eCommerce site should now be taking shape, after our first blog article on getting set up online. This time around, you’ll find some ideas on how to produce a higher quality of content that will make your goods more appealing to customers.

You don’t have to be a wizard with words or a dab hand at design to craft an eCommerce site that makes your wares and your business look good. So, make sure you’ve got a cuppa to hand and then get ready for 10 minutes of tips that will help your business for years to come.

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0


Perfect pages - optimising for search and real people

Remember: chances are that if a customer is on your site, there’s a high chance that they are either buying or looking to buy. It’s up to you to make the sale with engaging content.

Your product page should be your packaging and salesperson, and if it doesn’t deliver the basics, then you may not make the sale. No pressure! But here’s the good news: it doesn’t take too much work to create a near-perfect page. Just make sure to include essential info in all the right areas:

  • Page title
  • Heading 1
  • Page content
  • Meta description (or short description)

Most important of all, the pages should be named pretty much as specifically as possible. For example, if you are selling a dress like the one pictured below, you don’t want to opt for something as simplistic as “Orange Women’s Dress”. You should follow the lead of the example:

Using something more descriptive and specific gives you much increased “ long-tail keyword” potential, which makes your page less likely to be the seven millionth result for “Orange Women’s Dress” in search.

Next up, as a general point, try to make all of your page content as unique as possible. Whether you’re in need of content for your products, or the categories they fall under, don’t be tempted to take a supplier’s content and use it as your own.

If any of your competitors use duplicated content, and you follow suit, you’ll more than likely find your page ranks behind theirs. Even worse, the page could even be left out of search results entirely for being judged a copy of other sites.


Captivating categories

As we’ve already discussed, you should gather all of your products under relevant categories. But to ensure that your site performs as well as it can, you shouldn’t view these pages as placeholders that sit between your products, getting in the way. Oh, no!

Your category pages should serve as a store guide or a sales assistant, taking your enraptured reader on a magical mystery tour of everything that your site has to offer. And you should optimise them for search, too.

For example, if you run a classic car website, don’t name a category something like “Parts”. Call it “Austin Healey Spare Parts” or “Austin Healey Used Parts” - try to make your category names as specific as your products.

It won’t only increase the chances of attracting search by itself, it’ll also make it easier to determine which category you should attach each of your products to! Because 9 categories all called “Parts” could be a bit tricky to navigate around.

Finally, to the content: use your category page copy to help your customer find what they want. Or to find what they need, even if they don’t know about it yet! With a well-placed link or recommendation, they could be adding more to their shopping cart than they had bargained for!


Compelling copy - writing good text content

Cast your mind back to our last eCommerce article (you did read it, didn’t you?) - you’ll recall that we recommended you to write down answers to the five classic questions about your products:

  • Who - uses the product?
  • What - benefits does it provide?
  • When - does a customer need the product?
  • Where - are they used or from?
  • Why - is it better than the alternatives?

Your answers should provide you with the bare bones of how to write your product page content. The rest of the details should include all the basic facts about your product, including features such as:

  • Colour and size
  • Design or style
  • Material
  • Unique selling points (or USPs)

Now take all the information you have, and ask yourself “who am I selling to?” and “what will make them want to buy?”. Use the first question to determine the tone of voice you should write with, and the second to figure out what are the best points to highlight.

So, if you are selling designer dresses, probably keep your tone classy and professional while selling on elegance. If you sell fancy dress clothes, then keep things light and friendly while marketing on the fun factor. For an excellent guide to writing top copy, consider stopping off at our partner Ecwid’s blog and discovering how to write awesome product descriptions.

You don’t need more than about 75-100 words for your products. Your categories can be slightly longer at about 100-150. The goal of writing all this content is to reduce the risk of your site being penalised as having “thin” content. Websites with low quality or thin content were the main targets of Google’s Panda algorithm, which was initially released in 2011 and continues to be developed to this day.


Inspiring imagery - selling with a spectacle

Last, but by no means least, we move cheerfully onto the topic of website images. Unless you were born blind or are entirely unaware of people’s preference for films and TV over books since about Nineteen-Canteen, then you’re probably aware of the masses’ love of imagery.

And visuals are certainly vital: text does work particularly well for search engines, but people would far rather see an inviting image that shows them just what they want to buy.

Our good friends over at Ecwid wrote this excellent guide on photography tips to showcase your products. These include:

  • Using effective lighting
  • Maintaining consistent style
  • Using varied angles
  • Showing products in action
  • Getting experimental

If you’re one of our beloved Trendzer customers, it’s worth remembering that you have the Aviary photo editor available as part of your website package. So, you can use our blog guides to get some ideas on subject, colours and space; or on audience, style, and framing; and hopefully you can turn out results like the below:

Matching picture colours and styles brings an extra level of professionalism to your site design


Image optimisation

One last point on images: it’s important to make sure that you name and label all your images appropriately. If you have an eCommerce site like our Ecwid feature that uses the product name as an alt tag, then you’ve won half the battle! If not, you’ll need to look up your user manual and learn about “alt tags”.

But either way, a really good technique to help search engines index what your images are about is to name your pictures descriptively. For example, the “beige hamster dish” that we looked at before should have a name like “beige-hamster-dish.jpg”, not “55e82f276dbe1.jpg”.

If you take product pictures for your own site, make sure to go through them renaming the files appropriately. Correct filenames and alt tags can help pictures of your products to be returned in search engine results pages (or SERPSs), particularly image-driven ones like the below:

Time to get busy

If you’ve been doing all of the above and all your products have a beautiful, well-labelled picture, and informative names and descriptions. Well done! And if your category pages all take your customer on a journey through your online shop as well, your work is done here. Pat yourself on the back, and make a mental note to check on the third and final part of our eCommerce series.

But if your website has some products that have very basic page text and hurriedly added images, or category pages that simply feature a row of product pictures, you’ve got work to do. Make your way through your pages checking our handy list:

  1. Home page - features a business description with USPs of your company?
  2. Home page - has text links to categories or top products?
  3. Category page - is named for search (e.g., “pet accessories” not “accessories”)?
  4. Category page - has text links to popular products or ones you want to upsell?
  5. Product page - has detailed product name?
  6. Product page - features product description of at least 75-100 words?
  7. Product page - has an attractive product picture with optimised filename and alt tags?

Adding some garnish

At this point, we should probably point out that your site is more than just products and categories. For example, you should display your user terms and conditions to reassure customers of their rights and your authenticity. Trust is important in eCommerce!

Take a look through these ideas for other pages that may benefit your site:

  • Terms and conditions
  • Delivery policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Special / seasonal offers
  • About us / company profile
  • FAQs
  • Blog

This last idea can be really helpful on an eCommerce site, where the pages often lack the kind of content that people want to bookmark and share. A blog page can deliver extra traffic to your site without making your product pages overly text-heavy, which could potentially deter mobile shoppers.

Your blog could be about any number of things. A clothing website could talk about style trends or clothing care tips. A site for pet food and accessories could talk about care tips, pet training and behaviour, or general animal lover stories.

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Ultimately, the goal of your blog would be to entertain or inform, while providing content that people will happily share with the world - and sharing your website while they do it! A good blog will build trust and expand your shop’s reputation online.


Next time - maintaining your eCommerce site

That’s all for this week. Our next eCommerce blog article will look at how to maintain your eCommerce site successfully, including some best practice tips for off-page success. So, bookmark our blog page, follow us on Facebook, and keep an eye out for our updates!

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Content marketing tips for hotels, guest houses and B&Bs

hotel room

Content marketing tips for hotels, guest houses and B&Bs

To convert site visitors to bookings, you need good content on your website. If you’ve just started your business, or if being online is still a bit new to you, don’t worry! We provide some tips on how to market your accommodation business online.


Know your audience

Visitors choose guest houses and bed and breakfasts because of their personal touch, and they are more likely to pick hotels for their convenience and location. Before writing the content for your website, you need to make sure you know who your target audience is. You can then generate targeted content written in a style that appeals to these visitors.


Perfect photos

Next, visitors will be looking for photos of the rooms, surroundings, and anything special you might offer. Creating great photos takes a bit of work, but having excellent photography will help you stand out from your competition.

Source: St James Hotel, London

Check out our blogs on how to choose and edit your imagery  part 1 and part 2, and find some tips below on how to shoot stunning pictures:

  1. Light: Early morning or late afternoon light looks beautiful on pictures, of course depending on where your windows are. Don’t worry if you don’t have many windows, you can make use of the lights in the room (or add a few more lamps on strategic places). Try out a few different scenarios for best results.
  2. Composition: It’s obvious that you need to make the beds before taking a photo, but there are more things you can do to make the room look more attractive. Think about adding a vase of flowers, lighting a candle, or placing other accessories that create a nice vibe.
  3. Perspective: “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”, but to take great pictures, you will have to! Try out all corners, and see which one will give you the most interesting perspective. Also think about detailed compositions of a great breakfast spread, or beautiful furniture.
  4. Versatility: Visitors don’t want to see ten pictures of the same bedroom from different angles. What is your unique selling point? Is it the great view, the amazing home-cooked breakfast, the luxurious bed linens or your friendly service? Make sure to add a good variety of images representing these selling points.

TripAdvisor

You’re probably all too aware of the importance of review sites for your industry. With 350 million unique monthly visitors, TripAdvisor is both a prime example and the market leader for user-generated content.

Make sure you are using TripAdvisor to your advantage:

  1. First things first, you need to claim your business listing on TripAdvisor. If it doesn’t exist yet, add it yourself.
  2. Add your TripAdvisor link to your site. Your visitors will appreciate being able to combine your website info with user reviews.
  3. Ask your visitors to review their stay on TripAdvisor. Since you already have their contact details, you can send them an email after their stay. Many visitors will be happy to oblige you with a review.
  4. Respond to reviews ASAP and do so politely. You show that you are attentive by responding quickly. It is vital to respond professionally to reviews, even if you don’t agree with a bad review. Keep in mind that everyone reading it is a potential visitor. Don’t respond with an emotional rant! You will get more credit for replying with a courteous explanation and apology.

Special offers

Stand out from the competition and attract as many visitors as possible. A well-planned special offer will help to give you the edge! Take a look at our ideas for promotions:

  • Advertise special offers through all your channels, and don’t forget to update regularly!
  • Talk to other businesses nearby about a combination offer. How much would your customers love a complimentary meal at your favourite restaurant with a three-night stay?
  • Send out special offers to previous visitors via email to attract repeat business.
  • Consider using new ways to offer deals, such as websites like Groupon and LivingSocial. This can be a great way to promote your business to their large customer base. As some of these websites take a large cut of the already reduced profit, it is important to 
  • explore your options.

And there is more…

In this article, we’ve only scratched the surface of what you can do online. If you’re doing all of the above already, you could also open up social media accounts or start to use an online scheduling app to streamline your booking process. Scroll down for blogs on various subjects if you want to learn more!

We’re full of bright ideas on how to improve your website for better results. If you need SEO and social media assistance, contact Trendzer to discuss our Search Engine Manager service on 0800 047 6777.

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Content Marketing Ideas for Visitor Attractions

TripAdvisor

Content marketing ideas for visitor attractions

In the digital age, it can be hard for smaller visitor attractions, such as galleries, aquariums, petting zoos, and theme parks, to attract domestic visitors. Even major attractions increasingly often depend on exclusive deals, exhibitions and special occasions to reach a peak in visitors – only to lose them again straight after. We believe that a decrease in visitors or lower conversion rates can often be resolved through efficient online marketing. After all, cultural education and entertainment should always be promoted! As such, we’ve assembled a few ideas that should optimise the online presence of visitor attractions across the UK.


Identify your audience

The content you publish should be adapted to whomever it is you’re talking to. For example, a modern art museum usually attracts different visitors from a zoo. So who is it you want your business and your website to appeal to? For every type of audience though, you need to make sure your content is concise, engaging and to the point.

Customers love it when you interact with them, and the internet is arguably the best place to do so. Post regular blogs, fun facts, questions, surveys, photos or video material – this will allow your audience to get to know your business from behind their computer and telephone screens. Meanwhile, their individual responses will tell you a lot about who you customers are and what they (dis)like, which you can implement in future marketing efforts.


Connect online and get reviews

Contact with your visitors shouldn’t end after their visit. In fact, that’s your cue to give them something that keeps them interested in your business. You may experience some peaks in conversions during holidays and/or temporary exhibitions. As the owner of a visitor attraction, you ideally want your customers to come back, maybe get a subscription and tell their friends about the great experience they had with your business. To make sure visitors, especially domestic visitors, come back, you need to use your momentum wisely. You could do so by:

  • Interacting with them on social media
  • Inviting them to subscribe to a mailing list
  • Offering discounts for a return visit, shop items or other exclusive deals

Even more important, you should ask satisfied customers to post an online review of your business. This can be done on social media, Google Places or Yelp, but for day attractions we would recommend TripAdvisor.

With 350 million unique monthly visitors, TripAdvisor is both a prime example and the market leader for user-generated content. Claim your business listing on TripAdvisor, or create one yourself if it doesn’t exist yet. Make sure your website contains a link to your TripAdvisor page. Your visitors will appreciate being able to combine your website info with user reviews.

Ask your visitors to review their stay on TripAdvisor. Since you already have their contact details, you can send them an email after their stay. Many visitors will be happy to oblige you with a review.

Respond to reviews ASAP and do so politely. You show that you are attentive by responding quickly. It is vital to respond professionally to reviews, even if you don’t agree with a bad review. Keep in mind that everyone reading it is a potential visitor. Don’t respond with an emotional rant! You will get more credit for replying with a courteous explanation and apology.


Use video content wisely

As part of your social media strategy, we recommend joining YouTube and posting videos there. Visitor attractions have the advantage that their video material can be both fun and educational – and those just so happen to be the most popular genres on YouTube. YouTube is an excellent way to engage and expand your audience, literally showing them the tip of the iceberg of your amazing museum, zoo, theme park, etc. By adding advertisements or sponsorships to your videos as your viewers and subscribers grow, your YouTube channel could be a great source of revenue too.

Most modern social media platforms as well as webhosting platforms offer the opportunity to post or embed your video, which is very likely to increase the amount of viewers and subscribers on YouTube. Several visitor attractions have recently invested in quality video content. For example, the Edinburgh Zoo broadcasts 24/7 live videos of its immensely popular giant panda.


Invest in eCommerce

As we pointed out in our blog on eCommerce, investing in online shopping is now considered more important than having a storefront. Many visitor attractions benefit greatly from the merchandise they sell in their gift shop. So why not have that shop online? Of course you want visitors to actually visit you, but if that’s not an option it’s always a good idea to offer an alternative. For customers, it will be much easier to see all you’ve got on offer and buy things without leaving their home. For you as a business owner, it’s a quick and easy way to increase your customer base and earn revenue from a bigger audience.


That’s all, folks!

This article only discussed a few of the many things you can do to optimise the online presence of your visitor attraction. Make sure you scroll down for blogs on various other subjects that should help boost your online marketing efforts.

Trendzer offers a responsive and SEO-friendly website with the option to set up video and image sections, a blog section, an online shop and social media accounts. We ensure that you will get the hang of online marketing, and if you’re still having trouble, we’re always ready to help.

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Content marketing ideas for tradesmen

gardening google trends

Content marketing ideas for tradesmen

As a tradesman or woman, your business comes from local people who will want something made or fixed. Ten years ago, they would ask a friend for a recommendation for a handyman, roofer or tiler, but nowadays more and more people will just ‘Google’ for a tradesman near them.

This is the reason your business website needs to be ranked high in Google search results, which is something you can achieve with SEO and Content Marketing. In this article, we’ll explain what content marketing does for your website, and what types of content you add to improve your trade website.


Why is content marketing important?

Firstly, it can attract potential customers and increase the satisfaction of your existing customers. Secondly, Google will rank your website higher in search results when you update it regularly with interesting content.


The first step in creating web content for tradesmen

Before you start writing, you first need to identify what type of information your site visitors could be looking for. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What advice have customers asked me for in the past?
  • What type of service has been requested more and more?
  • Is there a difference in services requested in spring, summer, autumn and winter?

From your answers on the first two questions you can identify potential subjects to write about. If you’re a plumber, your customers might often ask you advice on the best way to unblock a sink. Floor fitters might get asked about the newest trends in wood flooring.

Many trades, like bricklaying and landscaping, have different jobs depending on the season. Your answer on the third question will help you decide on the right time of year to add and promote certain types of content. Google Trends is a free tool that can help you determine what the seasonality for certain search terms is.

For example: Customers might start thinking about their garden with the onset of spring, so that’s a perfect time to share your expert knowledge on when to plant what plants! Below you see a graph of how many people searched for ‘gardening services’ in the UK over the past three years, you can see an obvious spike over the summer months.

Now it’s time to get into how you use your expert knowledge to create compelling content that customers are looking for.


1. Case studies & Testimonials

This is the type of content we would strongly advise you include on your website, because it objectively shows the quality of your work. Ask your existing customers to write you a testimonial for your website. You can also send them a link to a review site after you finish the job, and later include these reviews on your own website.

A case study is a short story on a project you did that made you proud and made the customer happy. You should include information about the scope of the project, how you tackled any issues, and then show off the results with pictures! Make sure to add some quotes from the happy customer into your case study!

For example: one of our website customers, ProClean Tile Restoration, shows many before and after pictures of the tile floors he has restored. With these pictures, he shows the quality of his work to new potential customers.

ProClean Tile Restoration

As a bathroom or kitchen fitter, you could also take some amazing before and after pictures of your work. Another great addition to a case study is a picture of you explaining to the customer how you will tackle the project. A photo like the one below shows you’re a relatable and trustworthy tradesman!

iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

By writing a case study you’re informing the people who are looking to find out more about these kind of these projects. They may not be ready to buy a service from you just yet, but they will remember your company’s expertise and store this information for future reference.


2. ‘How to’ guides

Show your skill and establish authority in the eyes of the DIYers out there by giving information on how to fix issues in a ‘how to guide’. Try a few searches on Google starting with ‘how to […]’ for your area of expertise to get inspiration.

As an electrician you could think of creating a guide on “How to replace a circuit breaker fuse”. A painter might write a useful article on “Top tips on how to paint walls without streaks”. Don’t forget to ask your existing customers what they’d like to know!

There are different ways to include ‘how to’ content on your site. You could create a step-by-step guide (with pictures) or you could create an informational video and upload it on YouTube. Once you’ve published your guide, you should share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. The benefit of this type of content is the ‘share-ability’ of it, which will increase your page views. Your site will also get more authority, and that is key to improving your search ranking.


3. FAQ or live Q&A

An FAQ will be a section on your website on which you answer the most frequently asked questions of your customers. These questions can be about how your services work, how you can detect an issue, or how they can fix something themselves. Get these questions by doing research online and asking your customers. An FAQ page is a tried and tested strategy, and many trade websites will have one. Don’t make the mistake of copy and pasting content from a competitor’s website, because Google can detect duplicate content and will penalise your website for it.

If you like the idea of doing something more modern and personal, you could do a live questions and answers session. Many social networks, including Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope will allow you to set one up. Tell your followers about the date and time in advance, and ask them for their questions. This kind of Q&A is becoming more and more popular, and it helps you with building your brand and increasing your followers.


4. Blog articles

Another way to add content to your site is by writing regular blog updates. You can choose to write about the subjects we’ve discussed earlier, you can write a product review, or explain a new technology you use. Another great topic to write about is your business and your team. A human interest story taps into our natural curiosity in other people’s lives. Interview your apprentice, or write down the history of your family business. Potential customers will feel more connected to your business straight away!

Regular content additions to your site tell search engines that your website is up-to-date, relevant, and informative, which helps with your ranking. By adding blog articles on topics that customers might be looking for, you can also increase traffic to your site.


Get more site visitors with specialist web design for tradesmen!

At Trendzer, we are experienced in building websites for the trade. We know what type of design and content works best for your business sector, and we have the techy knowledge to make sure your website is optimised for search engines. Take a look at our web design services for more information!

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Content marketing ideas for plumbers

Cute Dog

Content marketing ideas for plumbers

For writers and content creators, a mental block is up there with a blocked drain in terms of serious problems. If you’re running a plumbing business (or a content campaign for one), then sometimes it seems like there’s very little to say about the company except “emergency 24 hour call-outs”, “free quotations” and the like.

Well, we lovely people at Trendzer have put together a guide to help plumbers generate content that engages and educates readers, while building brand and site authority.

That’s not bad when we’re telling you this all for free! So, you might want to bookmark it now and then you can come back to it for reference.


Improve your plumbing website

It might seem difficult for you to produce content that people want to read. After all, who wants to read about blocked toilets? But just remember: you are an expert in your field, and people always need to learn information from someone in the know.

If there’s a foul smell coming from the overflow or the toilet isn’t flushing properly, then troubled householders will want to know why. And if you can provide the answers, search engines will increase your search visibility when they notice your website has increased customer visits and high engagement levels.


Do some market research

The best way to find out what your customers want is to ask them. They may have a variety of plumbing queries. It is better that they turn to you for answers than a random Google search or a WikiHow article.

You could invite your followers to ask you questions on whichever social media platform you spend the most time on - even better, make time for your social media weekly or fortnightly and see if anyone has left any questions.

If you prefer the traditional method of actually talking to your customers face-to-face (remember when people used to do that?), then you can use that approach as well. So, when they offer you the obligatory cup of tea, take two minutes to find out if there’s anything they want to know (preferably plumbing related: you don’t want your blog to be about why the neighbours at number 22 let their dogs bark until all hours).

Either way, you can tap into what your customer base wants to know about and provide them with answers directly but also through your website and possibly social media. You’ll be doing your clients a service and quietly establishing yourself as a helpful and authoritative voice on all things plumbing.


How to form a basic content strategy

So, where do you use this information? Once you know what questions the public need to know about, figure out how you want to respond. If you’re a dab hand with the written word or have a family member or office admin who fancies themselves as a bit of a writer, then you may want to create a blog, FAQ, or Plumbing Questions page on your site.

If you’re a Facebook fanatic or a member of the Twitterati, consider using your favoured social medium of choice to engage with your customers. You could set a regular time slot to answer questions in real-time, or simply respond as and when people post questions.

The most important part is to make a plan and stick to it. Choose what outlet you’re comfortable using and stick to that plan. Don’t open 4 different social media accounts, then leave them all growing dust with a handful of unengaged customers. Tell your followers where and when they can find you, and their expectations will be set in advance.

Most important of all, make sure that you are finding information that you can use to refresh your website. Social media is important, but it should be used to bolster your site rather than distracting you from the fact that your content hasn’t had an update in two years.


7 Content ideas

Well, now we know why, how, and when you’ll be engaging your audience, but the final unknown is “what”: specifically, what you’ll post. We’ve put together the following ideas to provide you with some inspiration. Take them and make them your own!


1. Plumbing FAQs (Website)

Take all your customer research and compile it into a series of the most popular questions posed by your client base. Create a page on your website and just put each in a question and answer format, such as:

Q. Why is there a foul smell lingering in the bathroom?
A. You might want to light a scented candle in there after hubby is done.

Perhaps keep it more serious, but you get the point.

Top Tip: a lot of tradesmen have thought that they could copy-paste FAQs from a rival page. Don’t fall into this trap. You’re skipping the customer engagement and adding plagiarised or duplicate content to your website, which will harm its ranking.


2. Live Q&A (Social media especially Twitter)

Establishing a social media presence is cheaper than print, TV, or radio advertising. It can also help you to make real connections with your local customers. As you already know, trust is vital in the plumbing game, as people need to feel safe to allow you into their homes. A social media presence will help to develop customer relationships.

Set an agreed time to field people’s questions online and you’ll be able to engage them directly. It will be great for your brand profile, especially if you can keep it light and amusing at the same time.

Alternatively, you can invite questions at all times but respond as and when you can. Just make sure that you’re checking for questions regularly, as it could have the opposite effect if people leave questions and you never respond.

Set expectations of how often you’ll be checking and you should avoid any upset customers: something like “PM us and we’ll post answers to your questions every Tuesday at 7pm” should do the trick.

Top Tip: use these questions for an FAQ page (see suggestion 1).


3. Case studies (Website or sharing)

A case study is a short story about how you resolved a particular client’s problem. Ask someone who was overjoyed with the service if they wouldn’t mind putting their name to the story - you can call them “Mr S from Edinburgh” instead of “Paul Smith from 9 Forrester Park Drive” if they don’t want to be named directly.

Every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, that’s how your case study should pan out.

  • Beginning: Mr S has an odour problem from the drain in his back garden but didn’t want to dig up his prized petunias
  • Middle: we used a CCTV survey to investigate and discovered a tree root had pierced his old drain pipe and caused a blockage (you should also explain why you took one approach over another and the relative benefits or drawbacks that you considered)
  • End: we unblocked and restored his pipe using dig-free relining techniques, so his petunias went unmolested and everyone was happy.

Throw in some quotes from the happy customer and you’re on to a winner! Writing a case study serves several purposes:

  • It shows your professional competence and customer service to potential customers
  • It demonstrates your expertise to your peers
  • It serves as a resource for informational traffic

Unless you have a degree in marketing, you might be saying “informational what-now?” at this point. Simply put, people online search for two things: things to buy and things to learn. If they aren’t coming to your site to buy, they can at least be learning something new - including how good you are at your job - and storing that for future reference.

Meanwhile, search engines will notice the increase in engaged traffic or backlinks to invaluable information and assign your site more authority, which is great for your page rankings.

Top Tip: remember to ask for permission to use names for case studies and testimonials – it’s just good manners!


4. Video guides (website, sharing or social media)

As long as you don’t have a “good face for radio”, then a smartphone and the ability to post on YouTube could provide you with a ready source of traffic. Whether you choose to leave the video on your YouTube channel, embed it in one of your webpages, or share it on Facebook or Google+; adding a simple but helpful instructional video will get good results.

Informational videos such as “How to Fix a Leaking Radiator Valve” will drive traffic from DIY repairmen. You can even monetise your video with advertising if you’re in the know, but that’s for another blog.


5. How-to guides (website and sharing)

Establish your expertise and give yourself authority in the eyes of DIY enthusiasts with a series of How To guides. With belts tightening around the UK, people may want to know how to bleed their radiator or fix a leaking pipe without calling in a specialist.

Making a step-by-step guide (with pictures if at all possible) may mean that although you won’t get money in your pocket, you’ll get page views and shares which will lend your site authority: a key part of search rankings. Plus, you’ll be fresh in a customer’s mind if their DIY job proves to be too difficult.


6. Product reviews (website and sharing)

More and more people are buying products online, but they need reassurance that they are spending wisely. Ecommerce websites report dramatic increases in sales if customer reviews are displayed under a product. If it’s good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for everyone.

So, if you can put your technical expertise into an honest pros and cons analysis of an essential product - whether it be a combi-boiler or a designer bathroom unit - people will want to know if it gets a tradesman’s thumbs-up.

Top Tip: search engines love balanced articles, so make sure to point out benefits and drawbacks alike.


7. Blog posts (website and sharing)

Regular blog updates are a superb way to show search engines that your website is dynamic, active, and informative. You can take your pick from any number of topics that we’ve discussed, from regular “How To” articles and case studies to product reviews or comparisons.


Get more site visitors with specialist web design for tradesmen!

At Trendzer, we are experienced in building websites for the trade. We know what type of design and content works best for plumbers, and we have the techy knowledge to make sure your website is optimised for search engines. Take a look at our web design services for more information!

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Content marketing ideas for hair and beauty salons

Health and beauty SEO

Content marketing ideas for hair and beauty salons

Good content is the cornerstone of successful online marketing. The thin, overtly sales-driven content of the past is gone, and substantial, informative and engaging content is here to stay. To really gain customers' business and loyalty, you need to consistently provide them with content that offers real value in and of itself.

Devising a content strategy is easier said than done, though, especially when you're busy running your own business. As part of our series on content marketing for small businesses, we've come up with a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling. In this article, we look at inspiration for hair and beauty salons.


Review your Products

Product reviews are a simple but effective tool to add to your content marketing repertoire. You can create a regular 'Product of the Week' or even 'Product of the Month' feature, or simply review new products as and when they become available in your salon. When writing about your products, include your opinions on everything from the packaging to the actual experience of using it (think about the look, feel, scent, ease of use and so on) and the results it provides.

Don't be afraid to point out any drawbacks of the product. If you feel that the pump for a self-tanner leads to unnecessary waste or that a certain shampoo wouldn't be suitable for dry hair types then say so! Google's algorithm concerning quality content, Panda, actually favours articles that describe both sides of a story, and customers will certainly find a positive but balanced review more trustworthy than one that reads like promotional copy. Aim to write as if you are telling a friend about the product, in a relaxed and friendly tone.


Round-Up Your Favourite Client Looks of the Week

Posting a weekly round-up of some of your most impressive work is a quick and easy way to create compelling content. Not only does it allow you to showcase the talents of your salon, it's also a fun way to get customers engaging with your business. Simply take some good quality 'before and after' photos – after asking your customers' permission, of course – and upload them onto your website along with a short description of how you achieved each look. Remember to share it on social media afterwards too, tagging the customers involved for maximum exposure.


Create Tutorials and How-To Guides

Stand out from your competitors with video or step-by-step image tutorials for hair styles, make-up or nail art. Visually compelling and extremely shareable if done well, 'how-to' tutorials allow you to provide your customers with informative content while also demonstrating your own expertise.

Don't worry about losing potential customers by showing them how to do what your salon does by themselves; it's highly unlikely they will have the necessary skills to execute it anywhere near as well as you. Producing valuable content like tutorials simply helps to establish brand loyalty and keep your business fresh in readers' minds for when they are in a position to enlist your services.

Top Tip: Try to centre your tutorials around topical themes, such as celebrity-inspired looks, Halloween and wedding season.


Interview your Staff

A friendly, knowledgeable team is likely to be one of the key reasons why customers return to your salon, so why not show some of that character online by interviewing your staff? Don't just ask generic questions about why they enjoy working at your salon and what their favourite aspects of the role are though, as this won't provide much value for the reader. Interview them instead about their own hair or beauty routines, asking about their favourite products (both high end and budget), any unusual tips they could share and their best pieces of advice.


Get more site visitors with specialist web design for beauty salons!

At Trendzer, we are experienced in building websites for hair, nail and beauty salons. We know what type of design and content works best for your industry, and we make sure your website is optimised for search engines. Take a look at our web design services for more information!

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Content marketing ideas for dental practices

teeth whitening

Content marketing ideas for dental practices

An interesting website with great content will set you apart from the competition. But if you’re running a dental practice, you might be stuck for ideas other than information about your treatments and how much they cost.

Here is where we come in! We’ve done some research on dental practices and combined it with our content experience, to give some great content marketing tips to dental practices. But first we’ll explain why good content is important, and where social media comes in.


Why is content important?

In case you’re wondering about this, here is a quick recap on why website content is important:

  1. Google loves content, and it will rank your website higher in search results if you keep updating your site with fresh content. Make sure to use keywords throughout your content that you think potential customers might search for.
  2. Informative and fun content will attract potential customers, and it can improve your current customer loyalty.


Let’s talk about social media

We imagine your customers aren’t visiting on your website every week, unless they have some serious dental issues! Many customers will be following some of your social media accounts, like Facebook. Because of that, it’s important to make your website content ‘shareable’, and share it on your practice’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media. This way, customers who follow your company will see the content appear on their timeline. They then click on it, read it on your website, and then maybe even share it themselves. It is important to share your content on social media, to get the most out of your new content.


Content tip 1: Share your knowledge

Now we’re not saying to discuss the ins and outs of a root canal treatment including pictures (ouch!), but sharing knowledge that could help your patients. You could do this in various ways, like a Q&A, a pictorial or a ‘how to’ video. Think of what kind of questions you often get from patients, for example:

  • How do I brush my teeth properly?
  • Do you have some tips on how to teach my child to brush?
  • Do I really have to floss every day?

You could add this informative content on a specific Q&A page, or as a blog article to your website. Make sure to add social sharing buttons to the article, to make it easier for people to share your content.

Another way of sharing informative content is by doing a product review or writing a case study. Patients will be interested to hear an expert’s opinion on the newest hype in toothbrushes, or what type of toothpaste is best for sensitive teeth.

As for a case study, you could add information on how teeth whitening works, and show before and after pictures to illustrate your story. Not only are you sharing information, but you’re also showing off what great results you can achieve. Make sure to ask the customers if they want to give a testimonial, which will give the article even more authority.

Content tip 2: Have a bit of fun

You can really distinguish your dental practice from the other practices by showing your fun side. Think about what would make your clientele laugh and work with that. A safe way to show your fun side is to go with the season. How about:

  • Showing a picture of the winner of the ‘Most ugly Christmas jumper’ contest you had at the practice.
  • Have a competition for children: hide images of Easter eggs on your site and ask them to find them all. The winner of the competition will get a small prize and will be featured on your site and social media.
  • An April Fool’s joke like: “New discovery: Eat toothpaste to lose weight!” Make sure you’re careful with what type of jokes or pranks you do though, for safety reasons, and because not everyone likes to be duped! And be sure to come clean the next

Another way to get the fun-factor in is to review products in a slightly different way. You can write a serious product review as mentioned earlier, or you can take a more playful approach, like: ‘What toothpaste tastes the best?’ or ‘The ultimate floss test’.

Freeimage.com / Carlo Winkelmann

Content tip 3: Focus on the people

A human interest story is powerful, because it’s easy to relate to that kind of content and it taps into our natural curiosity in the lives of others. You could include an update about yourself, your colleagues or customers.

For example, you could highlight your team by interviewing a new employee, or you could show a picture of your colleague’s new-born baby!

Think of all the “likes” a picture like this would get!

A dental practice is a prime example of a business that is tied to their geographical location and the local community. Having a positive image in your area is vital to your dental practice’s success.

So if you’re doing something good for the community, like free dental checks for homeless people or sponsoring a community project, you should definitely write about it online!

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4 easy content marketing ideas for care homes

care home content marketing

4 easy content marketing ideas for care homes

Online content marketing for care homes might seem superfluous given the fact that roughly two thirds of future care home residents are over 65, but quite the opposite is true. The amount of elders that use the internet has been on an increase: in 2015, 74.1% of the 65 to 74 age group were active on the internet, while 38.7% of people aged 75 and over had been online regularly as well ( Office for National Statistics, 2015).

With the baby boomer generation entering the 65+ age group, the need for care homes and assisted living homes will likely rise significantly. If you own or manage a care home, you need it to be represented appropriately online.


What is content and why is it important?

In a nutshell, content is all the photos, images and text you’ll find on a website. Content can be entertaining, engaging, informative –depending on what you want to achieve with your website. As a business owner, you want to attract new customers and have them purchase one of your products or services. Additionally, you want existing customers to keep coming back and you want your page to rank well in Google search results. Regularly updated, quality content is a vital factor in achieving all of that.


Content marketing for care homes

It’s not easy to create engaging website content that will appeal to both the elderly as well as their family members. You’ll want your online content to be informative, but not too formal – after all, care homes are places where residents should feel at home. In this article we discuss four ideas that will give your care home the online boost that it needs.


1. Use quality images and video content

Recent studies have shown that new media caused the average human attention span to drop significantly: it lasts roughly eight seconds – shorter than that of a goldfish. As a result, internet users tend to prefer websites that contain less text and more images. If that’s not the case, they might leave in a matter of seconds. To avoid that, make sure your website does not only consist of plain text, but provides sufficient visual content as well.

Besides, your care home is not just a place where the elderly and disabled people receive the care they need – it’s their home. Upload pictures and videos of your location(s) to give future residents and their relatives a visual impression of the quality housing and personal care you offer, and make sure to include a fitting call-to-action. Having a variety of fantastic visuals will make visitors stick around on your website longer, and the call-to-action button will urge them to get in touch with you.

2. Write blog articles

Give your website a personal touch by adding a blog section. Some benefits of blogging are:

  • It’s an excellent way to communicate with your website visitors, either through comments or ‘likes’
  • It’s personal: it shows there’s a human side to your business, which is particularly important when your business is a care home
  • It creates incoming traffic as people who read it might ‘like’, comment on or share your blog on online (social) media – subsequently the blog will draw more viewers
  • It’s fun!

There are a lot of things you could cover in your blog article. For example, you could interview your residents and their family members to share their experiences with your care home. It’s practically a review of your business, which gives you extra positive exposure. Reports on special events and activities special may also interest your visitors. All in all, blogging adds a lot of value and credibility to your online presence.


3. Set up a newsletter

As much as blogging is a great way to keep residents and visitors in the loop, not all of them will visit your website frequently enough to read everything you post. Newsletters allow you to sum up what has been going on in your care home over the past time period, whether that’s a week, a month, or a year - although we would definitely not recommend the latter! Make sure to send your newsletter on set days and times, so your subscribers know when to expect it.

Invite your website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter with a call-to-action. In your newsletter, you could add links to your blog articles, write about recent news, add photos of the care home and more. s Make sure your newsletter links to your website in order to improve your online statistics.

4. Know your social media

Considering the fact that more elderly people use the internet, it comes as no surprise that many of them have discovered social media as well. Their younger family members most definitely are active on social media, and they are a group you’ll want to target as well. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and start following people, communities and businesses you would like to target.

Social media platforms are the easiest and most accessible way for you to communicate with your target audience. On top of that, by having a Facebook page with lots of ‘likes’, a Twitter profile with many followers or a Google My Business account full of great reviews you show that your business is well-regarded by the community.

Creating posts and content on your social platforms shouldn’t be much of an issue of you integrate your social media accounts into your website. Trendzer’s built-in social media apps give you the option to post your new website content directly onto your social media pages with just a few clicks!

That’s all, for now…

We hope these tips will help you take your care home to the next level when it comes to online content marketing. Find out more about our web design services!

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Content ideas for bar websites

Beer Resources

Content ideas for bar websites

Coming up with content for your bar’s website seems like an exercise in simplicity. But you could be generating more traffic and building your brand (or reputation if “brand” sounds too corporate) with a few simple ideas. 

After all, many websites will only receive visits if the bar itself is getting a lot of footfall. So, Trendzer’s SEOs have put together a few ideas to help you deliver unique content for your website that may generate interest and drinks profits.


Support your social efforts

Most bars now realise that social media is an invaluable accessory for advertising. By aligning your website with your social output, you can kill two birds with one stone and generate fresh content - which is SEO gold.

Make sure all your social accounts have a linked badge on the website. Then, simply link back the other way by updating a new page on your website, then posting a link to the page on social media.

What we’re talking here essentially is creative blogging - different ways to update your site content without (necessarily) writing a small essay each time.


“Why do I need a blog”?

A common mistake is for a bar manager or owner to slap a few pictures of their menus on the site and think, "Job done”! But search engines don’t do pictures: they read text. What you want to do is create content that will:

  1. show your bar as an authority, whether it be on food, cocktails, or music
  2. make people want to share your pages, hopefully virally, and
  3. deliver real engagement for fans and people who would be fans of your place

Keep it fresh with blog alternatives

Your customers wouldn’t be happy if your draught beer or your dish of the day wasn’t fresh and fulfilling. Well, search engines are a lot like that as well: they want your content to be seasonal and substantial.

And it needn’t be a huge chore to update your site regularly. You don’t have to write endless blogs on tedious developments in the brewery industry. Simply tap in to whatever it is that makes your place tick, and then serve that up when you get.

Unless you’re blessed with a bar that never gives you a moment’s rest, then you’ll have some setup time when you do cleaning, or cocktail prep, or even just chat with the regulars. Optimising your website can fall neatly into this “essential maintenance” time.

Top Tip: set a regular reminder each week – even if it’s only for 30 minutes or an hour – to update your website and social media to ensure you don’t let it slide. An unmaintained online presence can often be like a dirty table.


Alternative blog ideas

You (hopefully!) know your business and your customers better than us. But we can certainly advise you on how to take that knowledge and apply it to your online presence. Take a look at our six suggestions to see what applies, and then consider creating a new page for any or each of the areas that apply to your venue.


1. Seasonal food menus

Launch every new menu with a page update at least a couple of paragraphs long. Ask your chef or kitchen manager about the inspiration behind the new dishes. If you have a tasting for staff or management, get some pictures up to tempt your site visitors as well.

Your kitchen staff will hopefully enjoy the recognition and the chance to demonstrate their knowledge, and foodie site visitors may get an idea or two. Plus it will give your business culinary kudos.

Top Tip: if there aren’t any top secret ingredients, you could regularly put your recipe for a customer favourite online. Competitors will always try to emulate success anyway, and you could be doing your customers a service – they’ll still come to you for convenience if they have money to spend.


2. Cocktails and mixology

Got a “Cocktail of the Moment” or a unique house twist on a classic mix? Why not advertise the ingredients so that budding mixologists can try making your recipe for pre-drinks or date night? Chances are that your bar will be the topic of conversation for a while even if they’re staying in that evening.


3. Art or photo exhibitions

Use your event to generate virtual visitors as well as actual footfall. If you regularly host exhibitions, get a gallery of photos or paintings. The creative will love the exposure, and potentially share your page amongst friends and family on social.

If you get a reputation for showing interesting exhibits, then people may start to check out your page just to see what you’re showing at the moment. And that is all good PR for your venue.


4. Live music and DJs

Much like an exhibition, showcasing a local band or DJ is a great way to cross promote. An embedded video clips or Soundcloud links will give your site visitors some highly engaging audio-visual content.


5.  TV sports and pub teams

If your venue pays its bills by bringing in sports fans, then be sure to keep a web page that lets them know “What’s On”. Or if you’re driven by pool comp or a darts tourney, you can post details of upcoming events and past winners to support that community.


6. Bar news

Any venue can keep its regulars and the broader world updated on what’s going on recently. Whether you host a regular pub quiz with prizes, or your staff do charity fun runs a few times a year, there could be something to share on a blog-style.

The idea is to keep your regulars informed while telling newcomers about the kind of place you are. So, take a look at this list and see if anything describes things your bar or restaurant participates in:

  • Community events
  • Vintage clothes sales
  • Clothes swaps
  • Charity fundraisers
  • Dance classes
  • Open mic nights
  • Poetry slams
  • Games nights
  • Crafts groups
  • Knitting clubs

Put up some pictures or videos and tell the organisers or participators that you’ll be sharing their event online. You’ll hopefully get added traction through their social media shares.

We’re full of bright ideas on how to improve your website for better results. If you need SEO and social media assistance, contact Trendzer to discuss our Search Engine Manager service on 0800 047 6777.

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Content advice for photography websites

Social Media Backup

Content advice for photography websites

Photographers have their own unique set of challenges for SEO because they are heavily reliant on imagery and frequently think about their websites from an aesthetic viewpoint. But consider it this way: having a stylish website full of stunning imagery on slick rotators is all well and good. But if your site isn’t optimised for SEO, then you could easily compare it to a well organised gallery full of beautiful pictures… that is tucked down a side alley off Nowhere Street.

Unless you physically take somebody down there, which would effectively mean social media promotion or a conversation, then nobody will locate it except friends and well-wishers.

What you need is to put your gallery on the virtual High Street, where somebody can happen across it in the course of random window shopping. Unless you want to spend money on paid advertising campaigns, you’ll need one of three things: social media activity, tailored text content, or – even better – both.


Social media backup

It’s no secret that social is a huge part of contemporary website SEO. Small businesses should only ignore social media at their own peril. But there are so many factors contained within social media management that you can get quite the exquisite headache trying to decide when to schedule one post across multiple outlets.

Using media such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr is sure to get you some traction in online circles. But let’s be honest – people who like your work on Instagram aren’t necessarily going to use that medium to choose their wedding photographer. And there are plenty of people in the 30+ age bracket who wouldn’t know a Tumblr from a Tinder. With hilarious and embarrassing results.

So, if you have any interest in generating commercial traffic to your website, you’re going to want to make sure that your website can be found with organic search. And that means text content.


Step 1: Accept that you need text

Everybody loves sexy minimalist websites these days, and there are a plethora of platforms out there willing to offer them in template format. Problem is, unless you throw a bucket-load of cash – enough to compete with national and multinational organisations – at your website in the form of round-the-clock social media activity and TV advertising, then your minimalist site is fairly unlikely to rank.

Like a tranquil and scenic river, most of the sleekest minimal websites will turn out to have hidden depths. Pick your favourite minimal site of choice, whether it’s the website for Apple or Samsung or whatever other corporate brand you’re slavishly devoted to. Scroll down and click on “Sitemap”… That’s how many pages of content their incredibly successful minimal site has working for it behind the scenes.

Unless you’ve been using the internet WAY wrong, you’ll have probably noticed by now that you type text into search engines to find the things that you’re looking for. Well, simply put, without a reasonable amount of text on your site, it is very difficult for it to be found.


Step 2: Optimise each page

Let’s start at the beginning. Search results (or SERPs) display pages based on several key criterion. If your site is branded as “Welcome to William Peltzer’s Portfolio” and the pages are named “Interiors”, “Exteriors” and “Weddings”; then there’s a strong chance that you aren’t even telling the world that you take photographs!

Check out our previous blog posts for details:

When you have unified signals being sent to search engines from your menu titles, meta titles, and meta descriptions, you’re off to a good start. So, change that “Weddings” page to “Wedding Photography” and brand your home page as “Commercial Photographer in Skegness Area” – but only if you’re based in Skegness. Obviously.


Step 3: Optimise your pictures

We cannot stress this enough. If your site is going to be heavily image-driven, then you need to label all of your images with appropriate “alt tags”. In layman’s terms, an alt tag is a text title that tells search engines what the image displays. Liberal and accurate use of alt tags can make your pictures turn up in the “Images for…” area of SERPs.

As you can see, images and video results will take priority over website results in certain searches, and photography is necessarily one of those special searches. So, don’t upload your pictures of your latest job as “Image430074.jpg” because nobody searches for that. Well, nobody with a soul. 

Make sure your picture has a title like “Paterson Wedding Exterior Family Photograph” and it has a far higher chance of displaying for a relevant search like “wedding photographs”. The thumbnail displayed in SERPs will take interested parties through to your site if they like what they see.


Find room for page content

If you want your site to attract textual searches, you’re going to need two things: engaging text content or a bulging wallet plus a desire to spend money on an AdWords campaign. The former choice is the more affordable of the two.

One of the key factors in page optimisation – which accounts for some 25% of SEO factors on your page at last check – is the presence of relevant H1 tags, or a “Header 1”. This is the equivalent of a headline of a newspaper story and tells search engines exactly what to expect on your page.

Then there’s the “story” itself, or the page content. This should ideally be at least 300 words and contain organic references to the topic of the page. So, a page about “wedding photography should contain content about, umm, wedding photography. But what should your page actually be about, and where should your copy go?

Well, there are a couple of choices that spring to mind straight away…

Option 1: Put your content “below the fold”

“Above the fold” is a journalism term for newspaper stories and pictures that appeared in the upper half of the page – the attention-grabbing stuff that made people buy papers. It’s now been co-opted by developers and SEOs to mean “anything on a page that is visible without scrolling”.

Putting your content “below the fold” means it won’t jump out at your reader and make the screen seem cluttered, but will still be indexed by Google and co.

One thing, though: if you put any strong selling points in your copy, and you don’t want them to go completely ignored, make sure to put a small text or image teaser under your imagery. Something like “Read More Below…” will let your site visitors know that your text is there.

Just like there’s no point in taking beautiful pictures and displaying them on a website that doesn’t get found; there’s no point in having a page with engaging content that doesn’t get seen!

Option 2: Write a dedicated content page and link to your gallery

Your alternative is to continue to feature pages that are very much image-heavy, but then clearly link them to and from a related text page. So, if you have a gallery of interior shots for property companies, then make a dedicated “Property Interiors” page, but link to a new page called “Letting Agent Photography”. And then link back.

The name of the game here is creating a page that has a title (with related content) that will cater to search queries entered by the layman. As I noted before, it may well be that industry standards call certain kinds of photos “Interiors”. It’s just that calling your page that will not be as likely to attract any worthwhile searches – you’ll likely only attract customers for “ interior designers”, which is not going to be much use for your sales conversion.

Side note: “interiors” or “interior shots” is potentially a good term for an image alt tag though, as the above screenshot of “interiors” SERPs shows.

Make sure your pages are labelled with industry-specific labels. It may be less minimalistic, but “Interior Photography” or “Interior Photographer” will have a higher chance of driving the correct type of traffic to your site. So, what should you use as content to engage your readers?

Well, for the pages we’ve just looked at, you could do worse than selling the benefits of using either a) your own services or b) a professional photographer (aka you). You’re no doubt all too aware that everyone with an iPhone seems to labour under the delusion that they’re a photographer now.

Well, here’s your chance to explain why they should choose your services over a shot by an amateur fauxtographer that’s been Instagrammed to within an inch of reality. Sell your technical expertise and artistry.


Finally, consider case studies and blog articles

You know how we were just bashing amateur snappers like three seconds ago? Well, they could be a valuable source of informational traffic. That is, people who turn up and bask in your knowledge rather than buying your services or pictures.

Side note 2: there’s a rumour at large that a lot of photographers keep their blog and their website separate (possibly because of the text / minimalist issue). If at all possible, don’t. For all of the reasons related to text content that we have looked at above.

Back on-topic, there’s a whole realm of blogging potential out there, aside from “Skibo Castle Wedding – I used this lens and that camera”. Between novice professionals and enthusiastic amateurs, there’s an incredible range of articles that you can be writing to attract searches, backlinks and page authority. These ideas include:

  • Pro tips for using your digital camera
  • Pro tips for shooting outdoor photos
  • How to get the most out of your smartphone camera
  • My most spectacular 5 wedding venues
  • Tips on dressing your family for a portrait

You get the idea. And if you’re running out of ideas, simply ask your followers on social media if they have any questions for you. Then post a blog answering that question, and link it on social media.

Click: you’re an online resource for photography issues as well as a skilled photographer!

We’re full of bright ideas on how to improve your website for better results. If you need SEO and social media assistance, contact Trendzer to discuss our Search Engine Manager service on 0800 047 6777.

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Case study: BT Cables

BT Cables

Case study: BT Cables

BT Cables is a globally established supplier of cabling that operates within the BT Group. They approached Trendzer after seeing work that had been carried out on a website design for an affiliated organisation.

www.btcables.com


Customer brief and requirements

The client’s brief required that their old WordPress site be transferred onto the Trendzer platform, along with significant structural changes and a revamp of content and design. In particular, they wanted several key issues addressed:

  • Site design was to be brought in line with BT branding
  • New design was needed to be more responsive than their previous site
  • Project needed to be delivered within a tight timeline


Development issues

As purveyors of an extensive range of cables that are needed for a variety of applications, BT Cables have an enormous range of stock to advertise. This had several practical implications, namely:

  • An extensive range of product pages to design and implement into the restructured site
  • Dozens of PDF brochures that required adding for download
  • A large number of price and specification tables – which are often typically not responsive
  • Specific branding and style requirements for both client and umbrella organisation


Design solutions

Lead Digital Designer Iona Sangster was tasked with making the site branding align with the umbrella organisation. She had this to say:

“Having worked with BT branding closely for other projects, I had a clear insight into what was required in bringing the old site design up to date with the current BT brand guidelines.

I did this using their preferred primary colour pallete of violet and adding in the main CTA colour as magenta. Using a simple but effective UX design with CSS3 and HTML5, I was able to construct an efficient and easy-to-use site that the client was delighted with.”

Copywriter Greg Perkins worked on bringing the page content into line with the client’s needs:

“The existing content contained more technical language than the client branding guide suggested, and the writer had used passive voice in many areas. I made sure that the content was written in the active voice wherever possible.

Active voice creates a clearer and simpler reading experience and aligns with both the client’s brief and general online copy standards. It was also necessary to edit headers across the site to ensure consistency of capitalisation in line with affiliate styling guides.”

In full awareness of Google’s April mobile-readiness update, our developers opted to make the site fully responsive: including the many tables on the site. The results mean that potential customers can view crucial product information no matter what device they use to browse the site.

The project was delivered both on time and within budget. Even some eleventh-hour edit requests were implemented before the site was published.


Client testimonial

“I recently managed a project to move the existing BT Cables website from a WordPress platform on to the Trendzer platform. Not being a website expert, I was apprehensive at the task ahead but needn’t have been.

Right from the start, the Trendzer team of Kevin Turner and Iona Sangster filled me with confidence that the transition would be seamless and it was! With regular project calls and a dedicated effort the new site very quickly became a reality and as we continually suggested modifications and new ideas the Trendzer team simply got it and got on with it. Nothing was too much trouble.

The project completed exactly on time and I am delighted with the result. The new site is perfect for our needs and the whole process was painless. I have no hesitation in recommending both the Trendzer platform and the Trendzer team to any potential client.”

Paul Farrell, Head of Sales and Marketing, BT Cables Ltd.


Case summary

This non-standard Trendzer product project presented several challenges but the client is very happy with the end result. Delivery was achieved within agreed timelines across multiple teams on a website that features more than 45 pages.

You’ll also get dedicated expert help with your domain, design, and content. So, you don’t have to put together a DIY templated website in a hurry: you can carry on doing what you do best. Call us on 0800 047 6777 to ask about a new website that features responsive web design as standard.

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Better living through online booking calendars

Trendzer Libersy Calendar Screenshot

Better living through online booking calendars

You could be working easier and smarter by using an online booking calendar. No longer are they the preserve of custom-made high-end websites that cost thousands of pounds. Now, with apps like Trendzer’s in-built Libersy Calendar scheduling app, you can organise your working life directly through your website.

So, what are the stand-out benefits of using an online booking calendar? We take a look at six of the main advantages that you could be enjoying.


1. More efficiency

Let’s get straight to the point: online booking calendars are simply a much more effective way to manage your appointments. You’ll find a raft of efficiencies by scheduling your clients directly through your app.

For starters, you can assign individual calendars by employee, by room, or by equipment. So, for example, if you run a yoga studio with 3 rooms and 6 teachers, you can block book the established classes and leave the spare rooms free to be filled by teachers as and when they gain clients. That should mean no double-bookings and a clear visual indicator of when the rooms are definitely available.

Even better, you can assign pre-work and post-work periods, which mean you can factor in time for prep, admin, tidy-up, or turnaround. That means less rushing for you, and a smoother experience for your service users. Speaking of which...


2. Better customer experience - more “yes”, less “sorry!”

Your customers also benefit from the clarity provided by a booking calendar. Instead of a lengthy phone call pushing possible times back and forth, with a booking calendar your customers can see precisely when your services are available.

It’s a great way to manage their expectations from the very start of the process. They don’t spend valuable time hearing you say, “No, sorry, I can’t…”. Instead, they receive a list of choices, the answer to which will be “yes”: in terms of customer experience, it’s a lot more positive and clear.

Freeimages.com / ilker


3. Portability and accessibility

It’s all well and good having a paper copy of your day’s sessions, or a table on a blackboard, or a spreadsheet. But your online booking calendar gives everyone involved the opportunity to manage their schedule, even if they’re constantly “on the go”.

Employees and customers alike can manage their appointments from their mobile or tablet, enabling them to check in on a lunch break, while commuting, or even answering a call of nature. With updates made in real-time, there’s no chance of crossed wires and double-bookings.

Freeimages.com / Uffe Neilsen


4. Available any time

On the topic of accessibility, one of the most effective reasons for having an online booking calendar is that it is available at any time. A lot of people do their shopping and hobby browsing outside of office hours, and it’s estimated that about a third of people don’t leave voicemails.

So unless you man the phone or respond to emails around the clock, you could miss out on clients. They may go to a competitor who has a dedicated phone assistant or - you guessed it - an online booking calendar.

Freeimages.com / Manu Mohan

If you miss one booking a week, you’ve lost the cost of a service 52 times over. If you lose around one a day, then you’re looking at 365 slots over the course of a year. That’s £3,650 if your session costs just £10! Do the maths for yourself, on emails or calls that don’t convert to a customer - the numbers may be compelling.


5. Email and text reminders

Even with a dedicated calendar appointment, even the best of us can let an appointment slip our mind with the busy schedules of modern life. With Trendzer’s Libersy Calendar, you will help your customers by sending out a booking confirmation email and then a timely reminder 24 hours before the actual appointment.

Freeimages.com / Daniel Carter

The reminder feature is simple and automated, but it has been proven to reduce the number of no-shows and lost appointments that you could usually expect. The default message features standard information such as:

  • Service
  • Date
  • Time

However, you can customise the message with “Comments” to include other instructions or guidelines, making for an even smoother experience. And best of all, your automated email contains links that let your customer add their appointment to an Outlook, Google, or iCal calendar with just a few clicks.

As an optional extra, you can take the premium choice of SMS reminders. Text messages like these are almost instantly read, reducing the likelihood of no-shows even further. They’re an excellent way to keep your customers engaged with your business.


6. Export your contacts and refresh those leads

The export function will make your life a little easier if you want to have a hard copy of your timetable. But it’s even more useful if you factor in the ability to export a spreadsheet of your customer details as well.

Simply export your list of customers, complete with email addresses, and hey presto: instant email marketing list! By using a handy tool such as your Trendzer newsletter feature, or a service such as MailChimp, you can send a Thank You email to your customers for the last week or month.

Even better, you could email them with aftercare tips or upcoming special offers, depending on your service offering. Then you are not just making the booking process easier to use, but creating a smoother and more welcoming journey that will hopefully have your customers coming back time and again!


Food for thought?

You’ll maybe have some food for thought now, particularly if you run an appointment-driven business largely by yourself. A booking calendar can actually act like an admin assistant, managing client appointments and keeping you off the phone and delivering your services.

Just as a website can market your business around the clock, a booking calendar can help you to run it. A website with inbuilt calendar could be just the solution to take your business to the next level. Keep that in mind, and if you’re in the market for some new marketing solutions, consider booking a free demo below to see what Trendzer can do for you.

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Best times to post on social media

social media

Best times to post on social media

It’s not enough to post regularly on social media; you also need to make sure you post at the right times. Most social networks have a timeline, with the most recent posts appearing at the top. If you post early in the morning, but your followers only visit their social networks during their lunch break, they might not get to see your post. This blog article will delve into the best times for posting on social media as well as give you some tips on how you can save time with it.

Analyse your own best times to post

When should you post on social media then? The short answer is: when your followers are online. But because that answer doesn’t get us any further, we need to analyse what generally is the best time to post. This can depend on the network and on your customer base. Later in this article, we outline the recommended times to post on social networks as advised by different sources in the industry.

But first, if you like a good spreadsheet, you could analyse the best time to post for your own business. Keep a record of the amount of times followers engaged with your posts (likes, comments, shares, etc.). Test by posting at different times and on different days. Once you have the results of a few weeks, you will be able to analyse what time of day works best for your business. Some social networks, like Facebook, already show you some insights which help you with this.

An example of what this might look like if you also love colour-coded spreadsheets.

What do the studies say?

We have compared data from various sources, and pulled it together in the information below. Use this information as a general guideline, and if you can, combine it with your own analysis.

Facebook

People tend to use Facebook on their mobile and computer, both at home and at work. The best time of the day to post is early afternoon. At 1 P.M., you’ll get most shares while at 3 P.M. you get most clicks.

Twitter

Twitter is used much like Facebook, at work and at home, during break times. If you are a B2B business, you’re best off posting on weekdays. If you sell to consumers, Wednesdays and the weekends are your best bet. Want to know exactly when your followers are online? Use a tool like FollowerWonk for this.

LinkedIn

As LinkedIn is the platform used by professionals, it’s mostly used during working hours. To make sure your post is at the top of their timeline, post early in the morning, just before people get to work. Alternatively, post at lunchtime or between 5 and 6 P.M. Monday and Friday have a lower engagement than the days in between.

Google+

Like LinkedIn, Google+ is a professional engagement tool, so it’s best to post updates on workdays, with Wednesday being the best day of all. Most sources agreed that the ideal time to post on Google+ is between 9 and 11 A.M. You can use the tool Timing+ to find out what times work best for your Google+ posts.

Pinterest

These users are mostly active in the evenings and in the weekends. The best time to post is between 8 and 11 P.M. on Saturday, but any day between 2-4 A.M. and P.M. will get you results as well.

Instagram

Of all these social networks, Instagram is the most ‘mobile’, so engagement is steady throughout the day. This also means many sources disagree about what the best times are to post! They agree that most days of the week are good, but avoid Sundays, and time-wise it’s best to avoid 3-4 P.M.

So, I need to be online 24/7?

There’s a reason why larger companies have a social media team: it takes a lot of time and work to get it right! Luckily, there are a few apps out there that can help you.

Facebook and Twitter both have the functionality to schedule posts for a specific date and time. There are also several tools to be found online that can schedule posts for the other social networks. If you’re looking for apps that take away all your social media worries, have a look at the below examples.

Buffer: Are you always busy during the ‘ideal times’ for social media updates? Get your updates ready, and let Buffer post them at the ideal times for you. You can even let the app decide what time is best for posting. Available for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

Hootsuite and Sprout Social: These are complete social media management tools. They have a dashboard and allow you to schedule posts for different networks and measure results. Hootsuite has a free (limited) version and they both have paid for versions that give you more options.


That’s all for now!

We hope this article has given you some useful tips on how to grow your social reach by posting at the right times.

Sources:

http://www.shortstack.com/the-best-times-to-post-on-social-media-infographic/
http://coschedule.com/blog/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/
http://uk.businessinsider.com/best-times-to-post-on-facebook-instagram-twitter-2015-7?r=US&IR=T

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Best free SEO tools #4: Google Analytics for beginners

Setting up a Google Analytics account

Best free SEO tools #4: Google Analytics tutorial for beginners

As part of our ongoing series on the best free SEO tools, today we look at a beginners’ guide to Google Analytics. We aim to introduce you to what the service is and what it can do for your business, even with just a simple explanation.

You can also find guidelines on setting up your Analytics account. So, get yourself a cup of tea to enjoy over the next few minutes, as we delve into the world of data.


What is Google Analytics?

Simply put, it is the most widely used analytics service on the market and is estimated to be in use on more than half of all websites. Google Analytics allows users to find out how frequently their site is visited in a given range of dates. The service also monitors the source of traffic to give an idea of from where traffic originates.

Users can view an extensive range of statistics in a variety of different dashboards to reveal everything from social media traffic to shopping cart behaviours. This gives small business website owners the potential to learn more about how their content and site structure is helping (or hindering) the company sales efforts.


Setting up a Google Analytics account

To get a proper view of your website analytics data, you will need two things: a Google account and the ability to add tracking code to your website. The first is fairly routine: if you’ve been following our series for a while now, you will already have an account set up to access Keyword Planner or Webmaster Tools.

If you haven’t been hanging on our every word – at which point, we will look hurt and ask why you don’t love us – then get yourself over to Google’s account setup page and start filling in the fields. Once you’re finished, move over to the Google Analytics page and they’ll give you guided instructions to help you get started.

How to add Google Analytics tracking code

You should now be on the “New Account” page. Fill in all the fields with relevant information. Please note that “Account Name” is intended for the Google Analytics account, while “Website Name” refers to the name of your website. Each Analytics account can manage up to 100 websites (or “properties”) initially, so it’s important to make a distinction.

You should also choose your “Industry Category” carefully, as you can compare your site’s performance against an average performance for that particular industry. This can show you patterns in weekly, monthly, or yearly customer behaviours. In turn, you can understand why there was a peak or a drop-off in customers if they follow certain patterns of behaviour across your entire industry.

You should remember to set your “Reporting Time Zone” to UK so that your calendar and clock aligns with local time for clearer reporting. Finally, check your Data Sharing Settings to ensure that you don’t share or receive more information than you’d like – but remember that sharing info with Google will give your more insights.

Then simply “Accept terms”, and you’ll be presented with your unique Tracking Code. It will look a lot like this example.

To add Tracking code to a Trendzer site, you simply need to paste your profile ID and site’s unique tracking code into the field on your dashboard as below. If you’re using a different platform, you’ll need to refer to any instructions or help guides for more details.

Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics

So your account is set up and you’re ready to go. What next?

Well, your Analytics dashboard has dozens upon dozens of different views and applications. For today, we’re just going to look at the basics, so you can start to gain an understanding of how your site is performing. That means looking at two areas:

  • Audience Overview
  • Acquisition Overview

Audience overview

The Audience Overview does exactly what it says on the metaphorical tin: it gives you a summary of your website’s actual audience. You can get an idea of your potential audience by investigating Search Analytics, which we introduced in our article on Webmaster Tools.

If you have just set up your Analytics account just now, then you will not have any data to study at the moment. You’ll need to come back at least 48 hours later, but ideally you should wait at least a month before reviewing your stats, which default as displaying the last 30 days.

Once you have some data to analyse, if you hover over the various headers, you’ll receive an explanation of what that particular statistic represents. We’ve summarised each one below:

  • Sessions: number of individual times that your website was visited (by human user or web crawler) – this figure includes repeat visits
  • Users: number of unique users who have visited your site at least once - multiple visits by one User reflect any difference between this figure and Sessions
  • Pageviews: the total number of pages viewed in the Date Range – the more, the merrier
  • Pages / Session: the average number of pages viewed during each session
  • Avg. Session Duration: the average amount of time that each session lasted
  • Bounce Rate:  the percentage of single-page visits with no other interaction (people or crawlers who “bounced” away) – a rate higher than 50% indicates that work on content may be required
  • % New Sessions: estimate of the percentage of first-time visitors during the Date Range

Take note of the date range at the top right of the screen: the figures on display correspond to that time frame. Clicking on this field will allow you to alter the window of time that you are examining and also compare two similar periods against one another. The screenshot shows us choosing to compare “Last 30 days” versus the “Previous period” of 30 days.

Armed with your new-found knowledge of these fields an how to view different Date Ranges, you will now be able to compare traffic from one month to the next. Now, we’ll take your analysis one level further and show you how to see where your traffic is coming from using Acquisition Overview.

Acquisition Overview

This part of your Analytics dashboard displays the various sources of your traffic broken down into “Channels”. Each channel carries the same fields as the Audience display, and you can alter the time frame in the same fashion as before. The five areas are:

  • Direct: site visits that came from your URL being typed direct-ly into a browser window – this can often include repeat visits from other channels
  • Organic: traffic that came through Google search queries like we examined in our keyword research article
  • Referral: site visits that originate from a link on a third-party website including backlinks to articles or directory listings
  • Social: traffic that originated from social media such as Facebook, Google+, and TripAdvisor
  • Email: site visits that came through a linked email message or signature

Each of these sections can therefore tell you further important information about the origins of your traffic. In the example below, we have clicked on the Direct channel.

As you can see, we receive a breakdown of the names of the specific landing pages that people typed into their Google browser. The backslash in entry 1 refers to the home page, which typically accounts for a large percentage of traffic for small business websites. But as you can see, some “interior” pages have attracted Direct traffic as well.

Each of the other channels will give you added insights into your website visitors. A summary of all four reports looks like this:

  • Direct: individual pages that were typed into browser
  • Organic: the search terms were used by visitors who clicked through to the website (NB – many results will display “Not provided” due to browser privacy settings)
  • Referral: the names of the websites that have linked to your website (NB – do not be tempted to investigate any site names that promise better traffic or a bigger audience: they are frequently “black-hat” SEO companies trying to get business through means that will likely harm your rankings in the long term
  • Social: displays the names of the social networks that people were on when they clicked through to your website

How does Google Analytics help me?

As you develop your knowledge of Analytics, you can find out much more about user behaviour and set up unique Goals based on tracking how users convert from “maybes” into “paying customers”. But for beginners, the areas we’ve looked at can tell you a few things – they will:

  • provide evidence that your website is being found even if the contact form hasn’t had many (or any) inquiries
  • help you to understand how your website converts traffic and where the main strengths and weaknesses of your website’s user interface lie
  • potentially show which pages apart from your home page are popular
  • reveal which particular search terms have resulted in actual traffic
  • indicate whether social media posts are encouraging website traffic (you can link to your website from posts more often if this isn’t the case)
  • suggest whether your visitors are finding the information they need (if your Bounce Rate is above 50%, and your Average Session Duration is very low, then you may need to add more engaging content)

Stop by again for the next part of this series when we’ll look at Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider: an invaluable free tool that lets you view and manage your website meta data and much more.

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Best free SEO tools #2: writing for the web

 The Perfectly Optimised Page

Best free SEO tools #2: writing for the web

Last time out, we looked at using the Keyword Planner to find out what search terms your potential customers are using to find businesses like yours. We introduced the idea of deploying your keyword on unique pages for each service or product to give you a stronger chance of being found online.

What we only touched on is that you require good original content to actually fill your pages. The Panda algorithm that came out in 2011 was intentionally designed to weed out websites with “poor quality” and “thin” content.

That means you’re going to want at least 300-400 words of quality content on each product or service that your company offers. So strap yourself in for the facts about writing good basic web copy, because your content is your advertising and sales assistant in one.


Good web copy: the basics

There’s three particularly important factors to consider when you are writing text for a website: quality, clarity, and originality. We’ll go into each factor in more detail shortly, but for an initial idea, here’s a summary of the reasons:

  • Quality: essential for search engine assessment and user confidence
  • Clarity: important for the diverse range of readers you will (hopefully!) attract
  • Originality: vital for reducing search competition and ranking better

With those concepts introduced, let’s get cracking on how you can optimise your content.


How to write “quality” web content

You don’t need to worry if you aren’t a particularly gifted writer. The idea of “quality” content is simply tied to the trustworthiness of your site.

If you follow this link to the Google Webmaster Central Blog on “high-quality websites”, you’ll find a bullet point list midway down your page. These bullets explain what Google are looking for in terms of content, and it’s basically the question “does the content describe a professional company?”

So, bust out the spellchecker or ask for help from someone you know who has a half-decent eye for typos and you’ll be okay. Just remember the basic structure of the perfectly optimised page (below) and write natural content about your services.

The Perfectly Optimised Page

In this case, the keyword phrase is “dog grooming”:

Clarity: the importance of structure and simplicity

So, how do you write clearly for an online audience? In the digital age, we quickly learned a couple of simple facts about Internet users:

  1. They have very little patience (see “tl;dr” for details)
  2. More and more of them are online every year

These two facts have two repercussions for you as a website owner. First, you have to get to the point quickly and clearly. Second, you have to write in a way that is accessible by a large number of people.


Facts: Britain and the Internet

  • 76% of adults in Great Britain accessed the Internet every day in 2014
  • 84% of households had Internet access in 2014
  • 16% of adults in England are “functionally illiterate” and read at the level of an 11-year-old

Sources: 

Office for National Statistics

National Literacy Trust

These figures show that a huge majority of the UK population are online, and a significant percentage of British Internet users are not great at reading. There are several things that can be done to help low-literacy readers, but the two most important actions are:

  1. Simplify the text
  2. Prioritise information

How to write simpler web content with Hemingway

Create some text for your new page and paste it into Hemingway. In the screengrab below, I’ve used some writing by Victorian-era novelist Henry James ( The New Novel, 1914) because he’s known for writing very wordy text.

What you’ll see is your text highlighted in several different colours. The main areas to watch for are the yellow and red blocks. These highlight sentences that are “complex”, typically because there are too many subjects or clauses for clear reading.

Let’s look at the first sentence by Mr James – I’ve bolded the nouns to show how complex the sentence is:

“The effect, if not the prime office, of criticism is to make our absorption and our enjoyment of the things that feed the mind as aware of itself as possible, since that awareness quickens the mental demand, which thus in turn wanders further and further for pasture.”

In that one (incredibly long) sentence, we see around 11 nouns jostling for the reader’s attention. Someone who is dyslexic or speaks English as a second language may have a really difficult time pulling out the meaning. So let’s try simplifying the text a little, like this:

“The main purpose of criticism is to sharpen our understanding of why we enjoy intellectual pursuits. If we increase this awareness, our mind learns to embrace more concepts.”

It’s maybe not as elegant as Henry James, but we see an instant improvement. Now, the text is split over two sentences, and neither of them are rated “complex” even though they still describe some quite lofty ideas.


Avoiding plagiarism: web content writer tips

Okay: we’ve looked at clarity. But what about originality? Well, an unfortunate practice of some small business owners is to “copy-and-paste” text from another source into their website. There are a variety of reasons for using third-party content:

  • Lack of time
  • Poor writing ability
  • Downright laziness!

People sometimes take info they like from a competitor and alter the company name to “make it their own”. Or perhaps they use brochure content because nobody can describe a product better than the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, by using content from elsewhere, you are automatically encouraging a lower ranking than original content. To paraphrase what a Google employee said in their Webmaster Central Blog, “how the heck are you going to outrank Amazon if you’re providing the exact same listing?”

Using the Plagiarism Checker by Small Seo Tools will let you ensure that your page content does not accidentally resemble content on another website. Once you finish your new page content (now with added clarity!) simply paste it into the window of the app:

After that, you just need to fill out the Captcha form (between the heavy advertising) and click “Check for Plagiarism”…

You’ll then see the Plagiarism Checker swing into action. It will scan select lines of text one by one, and finally deliver an assessment of the percentage of “Unique content”. 100% is good, 0% is bad.

       

As an added bonus, you can also verify any claim that content is “Existing” by clicking on the text that is flagged in red. In this case, I have clicked on the first sentence about criticism’s “prime office”:

You’ll then get a list of Google results of the offending text. Here, it has found the Henry James quote on both Wikiquote (where I took it from) and an online journal of lit crit. Notice how both results carry the date of publication – this is why copying content simply will not work.

If you find duplicate content in your page copy, all it takes after that is to rework the text into something that still carries a similar message but uses different words. Then check again and again until you get a result of “100% Unique”.


Coming soon: our guide to Google Webmaster Tools

Thanks for reading part two of our blog on the best free SEO tools. Next time, we’ll look at how to get the most out of Google Webmaster Tools. Feel free to bookmark our blog page or check in on our social media pages.

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The benefits of sustainability for small businesses

conference call sustainability

The benefits of sustainability for small businesses

If you think that being a sustainable business sounds like throwing money in the recycling bin, think again! Sustainability actually means much more than being ‘green’. As a sustainable business, you’re working towards business growth, as well as having a minimum negative impact on society and the environment. The UN describes it as ‘the three-legged stool of people, planet and profit’.

In actual fact, more small businesses than you would think are making sustainability a top priority. Lloyds’ annual survey of SMEs in 2013 showed that more than half of SMEs are adopting sustainability strategies to save money. ( The Guardian)

In this article, we show you the main benefits of becoming a sustainable business, and we give you some ideas to achieve quick wins.


Benefit 1: Improve Efficiency

The main benefit of becoming more sustainable is that you can improve your efficiency by making smart choices. Higher efficiency means less waste, fewer costs and higher profits. You can make efficient choices by taking your business online. Rather than a storefront in a busy city, you can create an online shop with a depot further out of town. If possible, you could eliminate travel time, costs and make your staff happy by allowing them to work from home.

Idea: Instead of travelling to a conference or meeting by plane or car, use an online conference call tool. Not only do you reduce carbon emissions, you’re also saving money on travel, accommodation and other expenses.

Benefit 2: Improve Your Brand

With 66% of consumers saying they are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, advertising about your sustainable choices can increase your customer base. ( Nielsen)

Not only that, but people looking for a job will also be more attracted to a company with great ethical values. To put it bluntly, being sustainable is good for your PR. You can attract passionate employees and customers by showing off that your business is nice to the world and its inhabitants.

Idea: As many large public sector bodies are already doing, you could give your employees a few days paid leave to volunteer in your local area. Or perhaps organise a bake sale for your chosen charity. Take photos and write about the experience, and share this on social media for maximum exposure of your company’s goodwill.

Benefit 3: Improve Chances at Tenders

Your company will have a better chance at success when tendering for contracts. Many corporations and public bodies follow sustainability regulations for their supply chains, which often include SMEs. By showing that your business model matches their ethical practices, you will have a strategic edge over your competitors when tendering for a contract.

Idea: Write a mission statement on your vision of sustainability. Explain further how you have incorporated sustainability throughout your business and publish this on your About Us page. When you’re going in for a contract, you’ll have it ready to use.

Further Reading

If you want to read more about the benefits of incorporating sustainability in your small business, take a look at the following government sources.

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Benefits of Microsoft Office 365: make the most of the cloud

Benefits of Microsoft Office 365: making the most of the cloud

If you’ve found this article, perhaps you are considering purchasing Office 365? We’ve already looked at the benefits of cloud computing once before, but we felt that it was worth relating the benefits to a clearly defined product that is available in the UK market.

With Office 2016 coming soon and already available on OS X, we felt it prudent to let our audience get some advice on how they could use cloud computing to improve efficiencies. So, let us introduce you to the offering and then walk you through the positives, because we’re upbeat like that!


What is Office 365?

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud version of Office that serves users of Office 2010 and Office 2013. A purchase grants every user 1TB of cloud storage with their minimum contractual commitment of one year. It also comes with a variety of features with every license, including:

  • Sharepoint
  • 50GB Exchange mailbox
  • Office Apps
  • Skype for Business

So, how can your organisation benefit from using 0365? We’ve spoken with end-users and IT staff and come up with the following five business wins.


Top 5 Advantages of Using Office 365

1. Conferencing and sharing with Skype for Business

Skype for Business combines the globally recognised Skype brand with the business capabilities of Microsoft’s earlier Instant Messaging service, Lync. It allows for a range of functions including instant sharing of files, chat facilities, and video calling.

Connections with calendar functions, appointments, and call features mean that someone’s availability is automatically broadcasted. And the ability to send short messages is particularly helpful for knowledge workers who are out in the field.


2. Scalable packages that are flexible to changing needs

The range of Office 365 packages deliver a solid core of server space for each user, meaning that businesses of any size can scale up or scale down their individual requirements quickly. That level of flexibility is particularly useful for small businesses, who don’t have to be so concerned with internal server capacity.

If the worst happens and a business needs to downsize, then it is a matter of scaling down server capacity and reducing licenses. And when things are going well, it’s easy enough to invest in extra cloud-based server space to accommodate new hires.


3. Secure backups on servers with the strictest security processes

Office 365 has an impressive safeguarding process, which essentially involves your drives being backed up eight times in two different data centres. That means virtually unassailable protection against acts of God (although in the UK, we’re obviously less prone to tornadoes and hurricanes than our US cousins).

On top of that, the Microsoft servers are highly protected by strict security processes. As a result, your data is safe from unwanted intrusions. And Microsoft have gone on the record in favour of customer privacy: your data is your own. They may own, the box, but they don’t look at what you put in the box!


4. Collaborative project management on One Drive & Sharepoint

Working in the cloud adds a certain degree of efficiency to project management and document control. This video from Microsoft highlights some of the benefits of using sites within Sharepoint to maintain the focus of a project with multiple contributors:

Simply put, an employee can upload a document for all their collaborating group to see, and their peers can leave individual comments on revisions. This prevents multiple documents being birthed from an original, and reduces time lost on uncertainty around whether all edits have been implemented.


5. Everything accessible on almost all devices

Some people find it surprising that Microsoft debut a lot of their products on OS X. But the war-cry of Android lovers everywhere – “Apple systems are too uniform” – actually stands them in good stead for Microsoft releases.

The beauty of having a cloud-based Office suite that can be accessed by PCs and iPhones alike is clear: all of your employees can contribute, and from virtually any location. That delivers added value to the collaboration aspect.


Before you buy…

There’s a few things that you should consider before you plump for a purchase. To take full advantage of the service offering make sure you:

  1. …have someone available who knows what they are doing – adding paths between multiple shared mailboxes and setting up Sharepoint sites takes a bit of know-how. If you don’t have a Microsoft qualified IT pro in your office, consider an activation service.
  2. ...have a good internet connection – using the cloud to securely host your data and making conference calls requires a fair amount of bandwith and connection speed. To get the most out of cloud computing, consider upgrading your internet connection: it will help with productivity in the long term!

Conclusions

Office 365 has a wealth of useful apps and package features that would be beneficial for many businesses considering hybrid or cloud computing. However, a certain degree of expertise in setup is required, and people are still getting used to cloud computing with Microsoft apps.

Unless, of course, the majority of employees are working in the field or from home. Then you would need to ensure that they all have access to a solid internet connection. And that they don’t spend all day watching The Jeremy Kyle Show instead of doing their job.

In all seriousness, though, it seems like Office 365’s online apps are steadily gaining recognition as a cloud computing solution that can rival those made six years ago by Google. And with UK business relying heavily on Microsoft for office applications, the release of “O 2016” could help more businesses and individuals embrace the cloud.

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Beginners guide to marketing your eCommerce website

Social media marketing

Beginner’s guide to marketing your eCommerce website

You’ve got a beautiful eCommerce website full of tantalising products. How do you reach a wider audience while search engines are going about indexing your perfectly optimised page content?

This week, we look at four ways that can help your products reach a wider audience, or help more people to find your eCommerce website. So without any more foreplay, let’s strip off your previous assumptions about marketing an online shop, and get down and dirty with some new techniques.


Content marketing

This is the buzz-phrase of the last few years in SEO circles. We’ve already looked at ideas for your text and image content a few weeks ago. Now, we’re examining how to market that content.

  • Create useful articles with backlinks - post useful articles in your blog or on a forum, with links back to your site. Make sure the links are relevant and provide value to anyone who encounters the article: that’s what Google really wants, but they will penalise spam posts, so keep it genuine and useful.
  • Produce useful resources - create something that your customers can use. If you sell a product that needs a little know-how, write a tutorial on how to use it best. If you sell clothing, share articles on maintenance tips or accessorising. These can be anything from video guides to FAQ pages.
  • Run a contest - you probably don’t need us to tell you that “people love free stuff”. So, start a competition that focuses on people submitting photos or fun answers in exchange for a prize that your audience would love.
  • Make special offers - clear old or out-of-season stock while generating brand awareness by running a competition. People also love discounted stuff, and they may share a special offer that has a limited purchasing window. So, signpost that your offer is “while stocks last” or “for this week only”!
  • Profile your team - people would frequently rather deal with other people rather than shapeless, faceless organisations. If you write a short history on the company About page and make some bios for a Meet the Team page, it helps customers to understand they are buying from real people with hopes and dreams, rather than a profit-making machine.
  • Add social sharing features - make it easy for someone to share an exciting find with friends and family! Put some social sharing features on your store - your Trendzer Ecwid shop has the facility to enable Facebook comments and allow sharing through Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.

The good thing about most of our content marketing ideas - except the last one - is that they naturally create content that you can share across social media platforms. And that leads us neatly into our next topic...


Social media marketing

Use social media and you can reach your customers before your site has been fully indexed by search engines. It’s very cost effective and can help you to reach potentially millions of people when used correctly.

Your range of options can seem a little baffling at first, but don’t be afraid: just cherry pick the best ones for your needs. You can’t be everywhere at once, and you don’t need to be. Simply choose the most relevant platforms and then keep your posts timely and regular.

  • Facebook - most businesses will default to a Facebook page if nothing else - you can post directly from your Trendzer website dashboard, and you could also make sales by adding an Ecwid store to your Facebook page.
  • Twitter - tweeting with a relevant #hashtag is a great way to reach a new audience who aren’t following you already, and with Shopify recently integrated, there are new opportunities to sell online.
  • Instagram - any online store that has a strong visual element should probably be on Instagram - it’s a heavily visual social network and a great place to be found by new followers, and you can also add “Shop Now” buttons.
  • Pinterest - just like Instagram, if you have visually engaging products, this is well worth a consideration. If Buyable Pins become available in the UK, the case would become stronger: Shopify reports that Pinterest’s average $50 purchase price is the highest of all social platforms!
  • LinkedIn - often thought of as the poor man’s Facebook for business, LinkedIn is actually a great place to build brand awareness if your products are for professionals or B2B enterprises.
  • Tumblr - a Tumblr page can take you to a more youthful audience - hip, tech-aware and image-conscious. So, make sure your products are suitable for schoolies, and then post when classes are out and avoid a hard sell, and your products might get visibility. See the Kissmetrics guide to Tumblr marketing for a detailed explanation...

As you can see, there are a superb range of marketing options available you don’t want to part with extra cash but have some time to engage with your customers. If, on the other hand, you are low on time but have some money to spend, you have other options available...


Pay per click ads

On a quest for quick returns? If you’d like faster results than typical search engine results will provide, you could consider Pay Per Click advertising as a way to boost interest. Be aware, though: it can be an expensive process if you aren’t careful!

That’s why you should take some beginner’s tips before you get started. Ways to maximise results and minimise spend include:

  • Start with a low daily budget to test your outcomes, and make notes on what does and doesn’t work.
  • Begin with Google AdWords if your products are very specific and will attract volumes from standard search results.
  • Kick off with Facebook Ads if your products have a lot of search competition, but you have a specific market or demographic in mind.

Not everyone is in love with the idea of spending more money to get found. But if you are considering either of the above, remember two things. Firstly, you should have a specific and relevant landing page for each of your GoogleAds - read their guide for more information.

And secondly, you should have and a very specific target market for your Facebook Ads. Don’t go too broad, e.g. “males in the UK”; pick a city, a gender, and an age-group relevant to your product at first, and see how that campaign works.


Email marketing

Once you have successfully acquired some customers through any of the three avenues above, you should have their email addresses. Email marketing campaigns are an ideal way to encourage them to come back or to spread the word about your business. Naturally, you can do this via social media as well, but email is a tremendous way to retain customers and make them feel special.

Trendzer sites feature a useful newsletter app as standard, which works for up to 250 contacts. But there are a variety of advanced tools available with MailChimp, which is the third-party recommendation of our SEO team. Their free package caters for up to 2,000 subscribers, which should be enough for any fledgling eCommerce site.

To get started, make sure you have a good-sized list of email addresses. Import them to your subscriber list, and you’re ready to go! For best results:

  • Use branded headers with logos to get your business in the customers’ minds.
  • Offer special discounts - reward loyal customers and encourage them to return - you can also offer discounts for referrals to turn them into unofficial “brand ambassadors”.
  • Encourage customer feedback via online reviews and testimonials - people will be more likely to buy from you if they find “social proof” from past customers.
  • Make special offers time-specific - an open-ended invitation to “get 20% off your next sale” is a nice touch, but “get 20% off - limited time only” is more likely to encourage a sale.
  • Add social sharing (again) - emails with social sharing buttons like you can add on MailChimp have better click-through rates.

You’ll find a wide range of useful advice in our guide to a successful email marketing campaign, so take a look at that as well. Hopefully, it will help you to craft some campaigns that convert into cash!


Next week: using booking calendars

That’s all on this week’s topic of eCommerce marketing. Next time, we’ll take a look at how online booking calendars can help you to enjoy more efficiency for your business. Bookmark our page, and stop by next Friday!

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Beginner blogging tips for small businesses

writing a blog

Beginner blogging tips for small businesses

If you have you been thinking about how to get more visitors to your website, you should think about blogging. Are you pondering how you can improve your ranking on Google? Consider blogging. How do you add value to your site visitors’ experience? Blogging. How can you generate more inbound links for your site? Blogging! How can you attract more visits from social media? You guessed it! After optimising your site, starting a blog is a great next step to up your game.



How to begin

Writing blogs takes time, and time is precious for small business owners. We’d suggest you block off 30 minutes a week to work on your blog article. Alternatively, you could delegate the task to one of your colleagues.

Most businesses won’t be able to update their blog weekly, so give yourself a target of one blog a month. Write down potential blog article subjects in a document, so you always have something to come back to if you need inspiration.


Focusing the topic

The best advice is, focus in a specific subject that you believe your readers will be interested in. The reason being that whilst you potentially have a larger audience with a broad topic, you also have more competition. As a small business, you’ll not be able to compete with the volume of blogs on that topic, so it’s better to narrow it down.

For example, if you own a pet shop, you may want to write something about pet toys. You could go in a lot of directions with this topic: the health risks of pet toys, the best catnip toys available online, how to use dog toys in training, a list of indestructible dog toys, and so on. Choose one of these unique angles rather than the broad topic.

Extra tips for topics:

  • When you’re thinking about topics, it’s always a good idea to save all ideas in a document, so you can refer back to it for future blog articles.
  • Ask your social media audience for advice or a choice on what to write on. Perhaps open a Facebook or Twitter poll.

The different types of blog posts

You may have noticed that blog posts are often titled in a certain way to draw visitors in. If you know Buzzfeed and websites like it, you’ll see titles like “You won’t believe how she [….]” or “5 guaranteed ways to succeed in [….]”. These sensational headlines are called “clickbait”, because they bait visitors into clicking on the article.

We’re not advising you to use clickbait titles, but we’re showing you this to show the effect of an engaging headline. It is important to choose a title that draws people in and sets the right expectations.


Topic 1: the question/answer blog post

“How do I Fix a Leaking Tap?”

“What Are the Best Circular Saws for at Home?”

“Top 10 Things to Check Before Buying a Car”

One of the most popular ways to structure your blog post is to answer a question that your readers might have.

The question can be title of your article, and the content should answer it. As you are the expert on the topic, you’re the right person to give them professional and helpful advice. Another way to answer a question is by creating a “Top 5” list, like in the third example above.

The reason these type of blog posts work so well is that people put these exact questions in search engines, giving your blog post a good chance to end up high in their search results.


Topic 2: the industry blog

“An Analysis of the Newest Technology for Laser Levelling.”

“Google Changes Search Layout: What Does It Mean for SEO?”

This blog article is mostly for businesses who work b2b. Establish yourself as an authority in your industry by sharing industry-related news and commenting on it. Add your thoughts and criticism to make it interesting to read. Don’t forget to share your blog on LinkedIn for maximum exposure.


Topic 3: the product promotion

“5 Tips to Start Your New Fitness Routine”

“How We Design Our Handmade Statement Necklaces”

Usually, blog articles that shamelessly promote a product or service, don’t go down well with the public. You can still promote them, but you need to be sly about it. There is a rule that the ratio of content for social media and blogs should be 80/20: 80% should be interesting, useful or entertaining to build your following, and 20% can be about levering your existing following by actively promoting your products/services.

Write about a problem the customer might have, and bring in your problem-solving product or service in at the end. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, write about starting a fitness routine. You can give four general tips, and the fifth tip could be your recommending your fitness watch. That way you still give valuable expert advice, rather than just promoting your own product.

Another way to do it is to teach your readers something about your product. For example, if you design jewellery, show your readers the process from the first design ideas to putting together the necklace.


Topic 4: the business promotion

“Meet The Team: Ricky”

“How We Got Where We Are Today”

Another reason to write blog posts is connecting with your customers, and a great way to do that is by writing engaging stories about your business. Interview one of your colleagues or customers, talk about the history of the business, or about events that you’re going to. Show in your articles how much your colleagues enjoy working there, and how much current customers love your service.


The structure of blog posts

The minimum length of a blog post should be 300 words, and most types of blog posts shouldn’t be longer than 1000 words. Start off your article with a captivating introduction to the subject of the blog. Then write your content in an organised manner, using sub-headers, paragraphs and bulleted lists. Add images to break up bits of text and illustrate your points. Always try to add a related call-to-action at the end; either to link to another blog article, to your online shop, or the contact page.


Promote your blog posts

Just posting the blog on your site is not enough. You need to share your article on social media to promote it. Do some hashtag research to find relevant tags for your article and industry and use these in your update. If you send out a regular newsletter to your customers, add a link to your blog in there as well. You could also share your blog posts on websites such as StumbleUpon, BizSugar, Blog Engage and on a Reddit sub forum specific to your niche.


Preparation for the next blog

It doesn’t stop after one blog post, blogging is something that’s only worthwhile if you keep it up. When you have just started your blog, try and upload three articles at once. A blog page with just one blog article looks a bit sad!

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Avoiding bad stock photos & tips for effective website image

customer-service

Avoiding bad stock photos and tips for effective website images

If you’re a company providing a service, rather than selling products, it can be difficult to take interesting pictures for your website. Product photography has its challenges too, but the question we’re looking at this week is: What kind of pictures should a service-providing company, like a plumbing business or consultancy firm, have on their website? We will tell you how to avoid bad stock photography and give tips for original and engaging photography.

Why do I need to add pictures to my website?

We would always recommend adding visuals to your business website, whether it is a photo, a logo, or a graphic. Here are a few reasons why it is important:

  • In the digital age, our attention spans are shorter than ever. Readers will be more inclined to keep reading text when you use images to split the text up into bite-sized chunks.
  • 65% of people are visual learners (Forbes) and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual (Kissmetrics), so adding relevant images to your web content can help illustrate your services.
  • Adding images with accurate and relevant titles can be good for search engine optimisation.
  • By adding visuals to your website you can increase traffic through image search results, and you can influence the reader to buy your services.

1. How to avoid cheesy stock photos

The images in stock libraries are often old and overused, and people will be able to tell you’ve used a cheesy stock photo. It is best practice to use your own original images. If you’re no hero with a camera or can’t edit an image, maybe you can ask around if you know any aspiring photographers. We give some tips on how to edit images in our Aviary tool on Trendzer websites.

As a last resort, you can use a stock photo that doesn’t look staged. Make sure to check it doesn’t fall into the categories below and always check the licence agreements!


Examples of bad stock images to avoid at all cost

1. The smiling customer service agent with a headset. Often shown as an example on customer service or ‘contact us’ pages. A picture like this actually shows us the opposite of what you want to achieve, because it looks impersonal and fake.

What to do instead: Take a few pictures of a colleague helping a customer out, and don’t stage it! Choose one where they both smile genuinely.

2. The abstract images or graphics representing ‘success’ or ‘growth’. It’s not original and doesn’t really tell us anything. Often seen on service pages promising slightly vague results!

What to do instead: Show results of previous projects where you’ve added value! For example, you could include a testimonial from a customer with their photo next to it. If you have something visual to show off, you could include a “before and after” comparison of a great result you achieved.

3. The ‘business’ images, used on many B2B websites, as a way of conveying a professional image. It shows people in suits at a table, looking at a whiteboard or applauding. Or all of these at once like the example below!

Photo by vuhung, under CC Licensing

What to do instead: Consider what you really want to show with an image like this. Is it about being a professional, about successful partnerships, or about getting results? An image of yourself meeting at a business event or meeting a customer, could work to showcase professional relationships. To illustrate positive results, you could think about designing an infographic to show statistics.


2. Focus on real people and emotions

As you will have gathered from our advice so far, we recommend taking photos of real people working and visiting your business. It’s easy to spot a model in a stock image, because they will look a little bit too perfect! Using a photo of yourself and other people in your company will enhance the credibility of your business and it increases conversion rates (VWO).

And then there are the emotions. A positive image brings out happy emotions, and many people buy for emotional reasons. When taking pictures for your site, think about what would create happy emotions. For example, if you provide care to elderly people, you can take a picture of a caregiver helping out one of their clients. Or if you’re a driving instructor, you could take a selfie with a student who just passed! These type of pictures will put the visitor in their shoes, and it will create an urge to buy your service and be happy like those customers.

Photo by British Red Cross, “Care in the home”, under CC licencing.

3. What does the customer want?

One of the main rules for writing website content is to stress the benefits, rather than the features of your services.

So instead of saying: “We provide consultancy services to small businesses.”
You should say: “With our help, your customer base will grow!”

The same principle goes for images. Customers aren’t usually interested in business specifics or technical details, they will be interested in how your services can make their lives better.

Now it isn’t as easy to show benefits in visuals as it is in writing copy, so here are a few examples that might get you thinking.

  • If you own a pub, instead of just listing the logos of the beers you sell, you could show people enjoying a cold beer in your beer garden.
  • If you own a gym, instead of showing pictures of the equipment, show a picture where an instructor is helping someone with the equipment.

Photo by: www.localfitness.com.au

Ready to say cheese?

Hopefully we have given you some good ideas to start taking some original pictures for your website. If you want some more advice on how to choose and edit your imagery, look at our blog articles part 1 and part 2 on this topic.

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Analyse your marketing success through call tracking

numbers

Analyse your marketing success through call tracking

If you spend money on advertising, you will want to know how many customers you actually get from it. For your Trendzer website, you can use the built-in function to analyse how your visitors arrived on your site, and how they behaved after. You can also use Google Analytics to find out more detail. But did you know you can also track how someone found your phone number?

Many people still prefer picking up the phone instead of emailing of filling out contact forms. These leads are a major source of income. 66% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) say calls are their most important lead source*.

In this blog, we explain what call tracking is, why it is important, and how you can use it to improve your return on investment (ROI).

What is call tracking?

Call tracking technology records and analyses information from incoming calls to your business, and provides useful information on:

  • Where the calls come from, e.g.:
    • Organic search engine traffic
    • Paid advertising (paid online advertising, leaflets, local adverts)
  • Where the caller comes from (geographical location)
  • If it's a new or existing customer
  • How long an average call is
  • The busiest time to call
  • And, how many calls you're missing

How does call tracking work?

The concept of call tracking is simple. First, the call tracking platform will create different phone numbers for each of your marketing campaigns.

When a customer finds your phone number and calls, their call is transferred to your phone by the call tracking platform. All the information, like the length of the call and where it came from, is recorded on the platform. You can go into the dashboard and analyse the results from your calls.

What are the benefits of tracking calls?

You might have an ad in the local newspaper because your direct competitor has one too, but you can’t be sure if it is effective unless you track the calls. Let’s look at an example. Our fictional takeaway service “Salt ‘n’ Sauce” has four different marketing channels:

  • They have a Trendzer website
  • They run a paid AdWords campaign
  • They have a print advertisement in the local newspaper
  • And they have distributed takeaway menus in the neighbourhood

By setting up call tracking, Salt ‘n’ Sauce can compare enquiries from all four channels. Here is an example of possible results from the past month:

Channel Cost Enquiries
Website £29 50
AdWords £1,500 15
Local paper £350 2
Takeaway menus £200 10


Salt 'n' Sauce can track the ROI of each marketing campaign. It’s clear from the table above that the website is getting most enquiries. Of the paid advertising, takeaway menus in the neighbourhood have the best ROI. On the other hand, the local paper advertisements aren’t working for our takeaway business.

After analysing the results from call tracking, you can refocus your marketing budget, which will help you successfully increase your ROI.

Are you missing important phone calls?

A call tracking platform also enables you to analyse when and in what volumes customers are phoning your business. You can adjust staff management based on call handling. For instance: Salt ‘n’ Sauce has found out that they are missing many calls in the morning, because they only open at 12 p.m. To be able to serve hungry lunchtime customers, they might decide to open an hour earlier.


Call tracking using IOVOX and your Trendzer website

Trendzer is working in partnership with IOVOX, a call tracking platform that helps thousands of SMEs. IOVOX provides local telephone numbers for each of your marketing campaigns, and an intuitive dashboard so you can analyse results.

You receive a weekly report that shows the top level stats of how your business performed that week. In the dashboard, you find more detail in a visual or tabular breakdown of results. Other functionalities are:

  • Forwarding calls: Add many contacts to the dashboard and choose to whom calls should be forwarded, in case they are not picked up. For example: you could forward calls to your mobile or to a colleague.
  • Whisper message: A whisper message is played when you pick up, before the customer comes on the line. For example: "This customer is phoning from the leaflet campaign".
  • Missed call and voicemail email alerts: Get an email notification when you miss a call. The email includes the channel and phone number, so you can call back straight away. Voicemail email alerts work in a similar way, but you can also listen to the MP3 attached to the email.
  • Call recording: You can record calls and listen back to them for training or monitoring purposes.

IOVOX tracking on Trendzer

You can use IOVOX technology to track and analyse phone call information on your Trendzer website. When you go into your ‘contact stats’, you can adjust the date range to see specific results. It then displays a chart with the number of phone calls and average call times. You can tell from the pie charts how many calls went unanswered, and where the callers phoned from.


IOVOX free trial

Are you ready to learn more about the effectiveness of your marketing? IOVOX is offering a free one month trial, which includes all functionalities. Call our sales team to learn more about the free trial at 0800 047 6777.

IOVOX:"> 66% of SMBs say calls are their most important lead source.

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Adding value to your customer base with an MSP

msp

Adding value to your customer base with an MSP

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that offers and manages a set of remote IT services to your clients on a monthly subscription model. It’s an easy way to bridge the gap between the capacity of your IT department and the increasing demand your customers have for fast-moving Cloud business technology.


Creating Sticky Customers

The key value an MSP provides to your business is to engage, retain and grow your customer base. By partnering up with an MSP, they can provide your customers with added value that puts your services above those of your competitors.

At Trendzer, we offer website, marketing, and cloud services in the SME space. 60% of small businesses in the UK have no website at all, while it is clear that in this day and age it’s vital for a business to have an online presence. Trendzer helps your customers to take their first steps online and improve their online presence.

Benefits for you

  • Monthly recurring revenue: because of the monthly subscription model, you receive a stable and predictable MRR.
  • Engaging and adding value to your customers: the MSP keeps your customer engaged, by regularly upselling high margin bolt-ons throughout the life cycle of the account, adding value on an ongoing basis.
  • Newest IT technologies: in order to stay on top, MSP’s always invest in and use the newest technologies. Your customers get to use these with no additional cost or risk to your company.
  • Expertise: by partnering up with specialists who have the necessary skills, you’re saving on training or hiring skilled specialists.
  • Fast support: your customers get access to fast support from digital experts if they have any questions, improving your company’s customer service reputation.
  • White-labelled platform: your customer will feel at home in the site’s dashboard designed to fit your company’s branding.

Benefits for your customers

Trendzer helps your SME customers building their business online, whether they are at the start of their online journey or if they would like to learn more about building online traffic. Our web designers and copywriters create responsive transactional website pages, with strong calls to action tailored to your customer’s services. If required, we add relevant integrated Cloud apps to their site, such as an online shop or call tracking, all as part of the standard offering.

After training from our experts, customers log in to our easy-to-use platform to add apps, edit content, and analyse their site statistics. By contacting your customers every 12 weeks, we grow a powerful relationship with them and are able to nip any potential issues in the bud. During these calls, our digital expert will Review & Improve your customer’s website, ensuring that their online presence keeps growing.

Apart from the 12-week calls, our website packages include Unlimited Support. All your customers need to do is pick up the phone or send us an email, and our digital experts help them with their queries and make necessary site changes.


Engage with a managed service provider for your customers

We offer an SME cloud platform, managed services and recurring revenue growth – all under your own brand. Are you interested in talking about a partnership? Fill in our contact form below.

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10 email newsletter ideas for small businesses

newsletter

10 email newsletter ideas for small businesses

11 March 2016

You’ve read our previous blog article on the anatomy of a successful email marketing campaign, and you want to get stuck right in it! You have a few subscribers, and now you need to write content. We will inspire you with 10 ideas for newsletter topics, and we’ll talk about the main do’s and don’ts for email newsletters.


Why should I send an email newsletter?

First, it’s important to research whether an email newsletter is relevant to your industry, because not all customers are interested in newsletters. Look at your competitors and businesses like yours; do they send out regular newsletters? Ask your customers if they would like to receive interesting information and special deals from you on a regular basis.

An email newsletter is a perfect addition to your other marketing efforts. It’s not meant for hard sales, but it is a perfect way to build customer relations, loyalty and to drive extra user engagement in your website. By keeping in touch with your customers and giving them interesting information, they are more likely to remain loyal and recommend your business to others.

Content ideas for your email newsletter

The most important thing is that your newsletter content is interesting, useful and most of all personal. We’re sure once you start brainstorming, you will think of great ideas for your newsletters. To help you on your way, here are some subjects to get you thinking on the right track:

  1. Exclusive offers or coupons for newsletter subscribers. This will make your customers feel special and appreciated.
  2. A fun giveaway or contest. Make it even more effective: ask your customers to share the contest on social media for a chance at winning.
  3. Your company’s story or an interview with an employee. Many customers love human interest stories, and if they know you better, it can improve customer loyalty.
  4. Answer questions about your products or services. For example, a plumber could advise on how to bleed a radiator, and a financial advisor could give tips on how to do taxes.
  5. Photos or videos showing how something is done or made. A pet groomer could show how they handle a challenging pet. If you make jewellery, you could show the creative process from start to finish.
  6. Case studies and success stories. Show off what you do best and give customers examples of your work. Make it personal and share how you overcame certain challenges.
  7. Customer or vendor spotlight. Think about what would likely interest your customers. A customer who designed a sustainable house which you’re now building, or a little story on the small farmer in the Highlands from whom you get your beef.
  8. Community projects or charities that you’ve been involved with. Share stories of how and where you have helped out others.
  9. New technologies, methods or products in your industry. Show off before and after pictures of a new hair dye technique, or inform customers that you’re using a more sustainable way of delivering products to them. 
  10. A customer experience survey and the results. Ask readers to fill in the questionnaire, and then show off the results in your next newsletter. Not only will customers feel appreciated, you can gain powerful insights from the results.

The do’s and don’ts

Have a look at some important do’s and don’ts for your email newsletter.

Customer engagement and loyalty

We hope you have got some inspiration on what kind of topics you can include in your email newsletters. Remember that email newsletters are a perfect way to engage customers and grow their loyalty to your brand. Until next time!

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6 common SEO mistakes made by small businesses

Wake up alarm clock

6 common SEO mistakes made by small businesses

Ever asked yourself “why is my website not ranking?” Are you flummoxed by Facebook or too busy to Tweet? Well, we might have some handy hints and tips here at Trendzer HQ.

Our online marketing consultants have put together a quick guide that features 6 SEO and social media sins: these errors are often made by small businesses. Take a look and see if you’re guilty of any of the following mistakes: we offer some solutions too, because we’re cool like that!

Without further ado, let’s make sure that you’re not guilty of…


1. Thinking your website is “complete”

Shock bomb number one: your website should never really be considered “complete” if you want to get ahead online. Your web development company may send an email to say your new website has been “finished”, but that only really applies to the build process.

To keep your site competitive, you should always be looking for ways to improve and expand it so that your visitors enjoy their browsing time more and other websites link to it. And that means you need to add new content regularly, whether that means expanding on your services or offering advice in a blog.

Suggestion: if you aren’t a confident writer, try asking a colleague, friend, or family member who is; make use of grammar and spell checkers to help with your content.


2. Using duplicate content

We’re not saying you were thinking of this, but if you thought a short-cut to fast site expansion was copy-pasting content from somewhere else: think again! Duplicated content from third party sites is a quick way to ensure that your site will definitely rank behind someone else’s.

Meanwhile, duplicating your own content from page to page will create a repetitive reading experience for site visitors. You run the risk of turning human users off, while simultaneously letting Googlebot detect the duplication and factor “poor user experience” in ranking evaluations.

Suggestion: check our guide to writing content for the web, which has some great free tools.


3. Wanting “more traffic”

“What?!?” I hear you howl as the second shock bomb drops: “how on Earth can wanting more traffic be a mistake?” Well, in simple terms, there’s no point in attracting ever-more people to your website if they aren’t converting into customers.

It’s been known for small business owners to be astounded when they peek at their Analytics stats and learn that they have hundreds or thousands of site visitors each month. And yet their phone barely rings and their contact form is never filled out.

Never forget that you don’t really want “more traffic”, you want “more paying customers”. If your website isn’t delivering the results you anticipated, take a long hard look at it with someone else’s eyes and see if it really encourages people to become a customer.

Suggestion: make sure each page has at least one Call to Action that steers customers towards engagement or a sale; put a special offer online to find out if your customers are using your site mainly for window shopping.


4. Starting social media accounts and leaving them inactive

Shock bomb number three: social media is about social interaction! We’ve mentioned it before, but there is no point in getting a Facebook page or a Twitter account for your business unless you actively use it. You’d be as well getting some magic beans down at the local market to help with your SEO.

That’s not to say that you need to spend hours every day Tweeting, Liking and Pinning. But without some kind of interaction, there’s no reason why people should follow you or remember your business.

Suggestion: plan a block of time each week to look at your social media pages; if you don’t have enough time to update them, think hard about taking them down – they can have the same effect as dirty toilets in a food or retail outlet.


5. Not linking social accounts to your website

So, you’ve put in the effort and maintained your Facebook page like a well-tended garden. Magnificent! But it’s not fully serving its purpose if you haven’t posted a link to your website.

That’s right: unless you have an active Facebook shop, then you really should be driving your social efforts to bleed over into your website traffic. That doesn’t mean you need to scream “VISIT OUR WEBSITE!!!” on every post – far from it. The hard sell is a big no-no.

But you should make sure that you have an accurate link to your home page in your profile, wherever that particular social network locates it. And on those 20% of posts that are selling your company, make sure to put a relevant link in your post.

Suggestion: if you’re too busy for social, try finding a friend or colleague who has the time; you could also consider scheduling posts during a quiet time using free software like HootSuite or TweetDeck.


6. Buying multiple websites with the same goal in mind

Shock bomb number four: multiplying the number of websites you own increases the number of work that you will need to do to run them effectively. Take all of the efforts we’ve already mentioned and apply them again to your second website (or third if you’re really committed to burning money).

Next up, factor in the last point about unifying your online presence with relevant links. How much less possible is it when you are trying to link your social pages to three separate websites?

Finally, it can be considered spamming the internet, particularly if you use near-identical content from site to site. You really are better off improving the depth and quality of your content on one site that demonstrates your company’s full range of expertise.

Suggestion: read Hubspot’s guide to why having multiple websites is killing your business.


That’s all for now!

Hopefully, we’ve provided some helpful insights and good suggestions to help ensure that you aren’t committing any cardinal crimes against the small gods of SEO and social media. Bookmark our blog page and check in every week for more handy hints and tips – we post weekly on a variety of issues from design ideas to off-page optimisation.

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5 top Facebook tips for small businesses

Facebook marketing

5 top Facebook tips for small businesses


It’s no surprise that more and more businesses are turning to Facebook to drive traffic to their website. With a massive 864 million users logging in every day, Facebook is the world’s largest social network and the second most visited website in the UK, after Google. 

Free of charge and easy to use, there’s no reason not to harness the power of Facebook for your organisation. Read on for some simple tips that will help you to attract new customers and build loyalty for your brand!

1) Make sure your page is complete

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but this is an error that businesses make with their Facebook page all too often. Nothing looks less professional than a lazily completed profile that omits crucial information. Make sure you fill in all required fields, including up-to-date contact information, a link to your website and keyword-rich descriptions. You should also make sure you are using the images on your page to your advantage; we recommend using a good quality image of your logo as your profile picture and an eye-catching professional photo that’s relevant to your main products or services as your cover photo.


2) Post regularly

Keeping to a regular posting schedule is essential for gaining and retaining followers. Posting to Facebook ten times in one day and then neglecting it for a whole month is going to do nothing for you. There’s no set formula for the ‘right’ frequency of posts on Facebook – it’s different for every business, so don’t be afraid to experiment with it! Try posting differing amounts of content, at different times of day and days of the week to see what gets the most engagement from your followers. Then, once you’ve found a posting schedule that works for you, stick to it! This is now easier than ever as Facebook allows you to prepare posts and schedule them to be published on your page up to 6 months in advance.


3) Create compelling content

Studies show that Facebook users are less committed to the businesses they engage with than those on other social media platforms, with 30% of active users ‘un-liking’ a page in the last month. It’s not enough to simply keep your page fresh by regularly adding new content - followers expect you to provide compelling content that’s entertaining, informative or useful to them in some way. Again, this is a case for testing what works for your audience, but in general photo and video posts tend to be better at grabbing people’s attention than simple text statuses. Exclusive offers and competitions are also a great way to attract new followers and keep existing ones engaged.


4) Remember the 80/20 rule

Posting too much promotional content is one of the worst things you can do on Facebook. No one likes that person who only ever talks about themselves, and that applies to businesses too! A good rule of thumb is to dedicate just 20% of all your content to promotional messages and the other 80% to content that’s interesting to your audience. Facebook is built upon reciprocation – you can’t just broadcast the information that you want your followers to see, you have to offer something for them in return, in the form of engaging content that’s relevant to their specific interests and needs. Share content from other sources that you think your audience will enjoy, whether that’s news articles, blog posts, infographics or even funny memes, and see what works best for you.


5) Be responsive

Check your Facebook page regularly so that you can keep on top of any interactions with your followers. If somebody comments on a post or sends you a message, this is the perfect opportunity to show them that your business cares. Even if it’s a complaint, a prompt, carefully worded response can go a long way in demonstrating your commitment to providing great customer service.

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5 Tips for creating engaging social posts

5 Tips for Creating Engaging Social Posts

5 Tips for creating engaging social posts

Find out how to create social media posts that attract more clicks, likes, comments and shares with this handy infographic from the experts at Trendzer!

Download PDF Infographic here

Back to Blog page >

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5 steps towards efficient B2B eCommerce

5 steps towards efficient B2B eCommerce

5 steps towards efficient B2B eCommerce

Not all SME’s sell to consumers – many of them strictly sell to other businesses. Now that nearly all commerce is increasingly being shifted towards the internet, effective B2B eCommerce becomes more and more important as well. It’s still in its infancy now, but it is predicted to mature quickly. Frost & Sullivan expect total B2B ecommerce sales worldwide to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, accounting for 27% of all B2B sales.

In other words: it’s best to be prepared! Seeing as B2B requires a somewhat different strategy than B2C (business-to-consumer) does, we are happy to provide you with some tips on how to get the most out of B2B eCommerce.


1.Identify your customers’ persona

A major difference between B2B and B2C eCommerce is that the amount of available customers is usually much smaller and more specific. That makes it more important to identify your customers’ persona: what do they do, what do they like and what does their business structure look like? In short, a customer persona is a short, fictional biography of your target customers. It should include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Income
  • Technological use

You can take it a step further, though. Detailed customer persona’s may also include things like motivations for using a product, business aspirations or their preferred means of communication. Plus, you should never rule out consumers. You may not sell to them, but your customers might. Take into account what effects your products and services might have on your customer’s costumers, and use that knowledge to sell.

2.Show that your business is reliable

Much like you want to know who your customers are, your customers want to know who you are. While your web shop serves as a focal point of your eCommerce, it’s equally important to showcase who you are and why customers should trust your SME. Tell them about your core business, your employees and your unique selling points in the “About Us” section on your website, and make sure the information stays updated. We also recommend adding sections for testimonials from partners and customers to create a sense of trust.

Finally, online trust can be enhanced by being active on several social media platforms. Spotlight Communications revealed in an infographic that social media presence – mainly Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube – generates business exposure, increases traffic and provides marketplace insight. Some examples of businesses using social media well for B2B purposes are IBM and Intel.


3.Make your online shop bespoke

Much like personalised marketing, your customers and business partners enjoy a personalised, easy-to-use eCommerce environment. Many web shop tools allow rather detailed customisation, up to the point where shopping environments can be adjusted to a specific customer. Additionally, allowing customers to create accounts where they can find all their bills, invoices and full order history contributes greatly to positive user experience.

Ecwid is a great example of a bespoke web shop system. Not only is it easy to use for both its owners as well as their customers, it also offers a wide range of customisations to fit your business and your target audience, such as profile creation, a smart shipping calculator and more than 40 different payment options. All Trendzer website packages offer the possibility to open an integrated Ecwid shop for free.


4.Go into detail

Many B2B products tend to be more technical and complex than B2C products. That’s why B2B eCommerce requires more attention to detail. Make sure your web shop informs customers about your products as much as possible, and add sorting and filter options that make it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for. Some common examples are:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Price range
  • Material
  • Colour
  • Brand
  • Functionality
  • Customer rating

Additionally, try to add images and video material that support your product description. Not only does it look more appealing, it also gives businesses you’re selling to a sense of security about their investment. By doing this, you make it easier for customers to buy products that meet their needs as specifically as possible, which is especially beneficial within the B2B market.

5.Promote your products

ECommerce doesn’t stop at creating a web shop and loading your products. Because B2B sales cycles are generally longer than B2C cycles, it’s essential to create strong leads and “calls to action” that encourage customers to buy.

Bespoke content marketing ensures that customers find your shop and, after having a positive experience with your business, become returning customers. Create engaging blog posts, newsletters, images, videos and more to improve your online findability and promote your products within the right B2B market(s). For more information on how to do this, read some of our blog articles on content marketing!


That’s all, folks!

That’s it for this week’s blog entry. We hope these tips will help your business thrive in the B2B market. Make sure to check back on our website soon for a new blog post!

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5 scary black-hat SEO tactics to avoid this Halloween

black hat white hat halloween

5 scary black-hat SEO tactics to avoid this Halloween

Usually, our blog articles are full of good advice, giving you hints and tips on how to improve your website and its ranking on Google. As Halloween is almost upon us, we thought it might be fun to talk about bad SEO advice!

SEO experts are there to optimise your site for search engines, and they usually wear a white hat. This isn’t a sartorial choice, but it means that they take advice from Google and other search engines on what is allowed in SEO. Other SEO experts, though, wear a black hat, and they are up to no good! Black-hat SEO tactics are deemed shady and unethical, and Google penalises sites using black-hat SEO when they discover it! Since Google is getting better at discovering shady techniques, it’s best to ensure your website is not using any of these!

1. Duplicate or plagiarised content

This isn’t just a black-hat technique, some people might have duplicate or plagiarised content on their site without knowing it’s a bad thing! When search engines find out that the content on your page also exists on another page, whether on your own site or on a different site, they will penalise your site. That includes copying over product descriptions from a manufacturer or from a competitor’s website!

White-hat alternative?

As for plagiarising from another site, even if they allow you to do it, we’d recommend to always reword the content. Check if your text passes the ‘plagiarism’ test using a free plagiarism checker, which can easily be found on Google.

If you have duplicate content on your own pages, perhaps as different landing pages for your AdWords campaigns, you can add the ‘canonical’ tag to both pages. For more information on how to do that, read Moz’s explanation on canonicalization.

2. Keyword stuffing

This is a well-known technique that worked in the past, but search engines are now too smart to fall for this trick. Keyword stuffing means to overuse the same/similar keywords on one page to maximise its visibility.

For example: “To get your dog groomed in Edinburgh call PawsPaws, dog groomers in Edinburgh. We are the best dog groomers in Edinburgh and the Lothians and make sure your dog is groomed to perfection.”

This example doesn’t read well, it’s stuffed with keywords and it isn’t user-friendly.

Another way people might do keyword stuffing is by putting keywords in hidden text. The text could be hidden by making it appear white on a white background, by locating it behind an image, by setting the font size 0, or by other deceptive tricks. Google penalises sites that use this way of keyword stuffing as well. White-hat alternative?

Do keyword research and with these keywords in your mind, write your text naturally, as if you were speaking to a customer. On top of that, you need to make sure your headers, meta titles and meta descriptions also include the right keywords for that page.

3. Comment spamming

A link to your website from another (credible) website tells Google that your site is trustworthy and should rank high in search results. In the past, many black-hat SEOs would comment on forums and blog articles, adding their link to the comments, in order to create more ‘link juice’. Most forums and blogs now automatically include a ‘no-follow’ attribute to any links posted in the comment section, which means that Google won’t count these links, rendering this technique mostly useless.

White-hat alternative?

By commenting on forums and blogs about your industry, you can grow your network and establish yourself as an authority in your field. When you then write your own blog articles, you can hopefully get some of your fans to read them and follow you.

4. Cloaking

Cloaking means that your SEO has set up a web page to display different content for a search engine spider versus a normal user. The cloaked page is packed with keywords that you want to rank for, and is created specifically to trick search engines. This method is deceptive and a violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines, as it serves actual users with irrelevant results, and that’s not helping anyone.

White-hat alternative?

There isn’t a white-hat alternative for cloaking text, but if your site mostly consists of Javascript, images, or Flash files, Google approves of using descriptive text for these items to improve the usability of your site.

5. Paid links

As we explained earlier, links are very important for SEO. There are some SEOs out there that would use part of your fees to them to buy links. They’d think it’s an easy win, but it’s a very dangerous tactic. Google’s Matt Cutt says that in 99% of the time it’s abundantly clear that these links are being bought. Google will penalise the site’s ranking when they find this out!

White-hat alternative?

White-hat link building is one of the most strenuous and long-term strategies to adopt, and is not for the faint-hearted! Ways to get ‘follow’ links from other websites include: directories and outreach (creating high quality shareable content and blog articles).

That’s all!

Make sure you creep it real, and stay far away from these five scary SEO techniques! Happy Halloween!

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5 New Years resolutions for SMEs

2017

5 New Year’s resolutions for SMEs

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2017, and it’s bound to be a year full of new business opportunities for all SMEs. Have you thought of any New Year’s resolutions for your business yet? We’ve investigated online marketing trends for 2017, and are happy to show you some. Use these marketing tips wisely and your SME will surely thrive in the New Year!

1.Find and target your niche market

With the economy improving steadily, SMEs are likely to get more competition from other, new businesses in 2017, but the number of available consumers will largely stay the same. This means it’s even more important to find your niche market and target it. There are plenty of ways to have your content reach a specific audience, from your (eCommerce) website to social media and search engines.

Instead of focusing on a large mass of people, many of whom may not be interested in your product or service, try to aim for a narrower range of consumers and locations, and specify what you offer. For example: rather than describing your business as a “restaurant”, you could focus on terms like “Italian restaurant” or “family-friendly restaurant”. Your personalised marketing efforts will be more effective and your conversion rates are likely to increase.

2.Be more mobile-friendly

The inevitable happened in 2016: mobile overtook desktop as the primary device for accessing websites for the first time. As the market for smart mobile devices continues to grow, so does the importance of making sure your online marketing practices are mobile-friendly. Many businesses have already done it, but it remains highly recommended to have a responsive web design and email template – even if conversion rates on mobile devices will probably remain lower than desktop conversion rates.

Employing a multiplatform strategy ensures your target audience can find your website, your social media, and your products and services, wherever and whenever. Plus, Google is known to promote mobile-friendly websites when displaying search enquiry results for mobile users. As such, mobile-friendly content can make a significant change for your SME.

3.Keep your content concise

It may be a surprise to some, but online consumers generally do not have a very long attention span, and it has been predicted that internet users will be even less patient in 2017. That’s why we think it’ll be even more important that business owners learn how to keep their content concise.

Due to the internet’s continued growth, consumers are forced to skim through ‘white noise’: seemingly endless content that they are (or think they are) not interested in. People skim through articles and (blog) posts, trying to pin point if it’s worth reading the whole thing. Similarly, people encounter advertisements, commercials and advertorials, but determine within seconds what to do with them. In other words: concise content is key, so make sure your words count.

4.Show off your personality

Another result of business moving from the shops and offices to the internet is that it can create a distance between businesses and consumers. As the online market continues to grow, it’s important to distinguish yourself from your competitors. One of the ways to do so is by showing your personal side.

Invite consumers into your business by writing blogs, creating image and video content and talking to them via social media. It decreases the distance between you and your target audience, ensuring that they will remember your business as being more personal and customer-friendly than your competitors.

5.Invest in data visualisation

Do you need a little help with improving your online conversion rates, but you’re not sure in which areas your business falls short? Luckily, 2017 will see an increase and improvement in data visualisation tools. These programs can show:

  • The journeys visitors take when visiting your website
  • When, where and why they click on something
  • Who buys what, when, why and where

In the past, SME owners often struggled with data visualisation tools, finding out what exactly all the data means, but now that the software is becoming increasingly smarter and easier to use, it no longer takes an online data specialist to see what’s happening. Data visualisation tools are an extension to your online business, providing you with the facts and figures on what you’re doing well and what can be improved.

Ready for 2017?

That’s all for this week! We hope these tips inspire you, being an entrepreneur, to use your opportunities well and get the most out of 2017. Make sure to check back on our website soon for a brand-new blog post!

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5 Facebook business page tips: how to create engaging posts

Facebook marketing

5 Facebook business page tips: how to create engaging posts

Running a Page for your business on Facebook can be a tricky beast. Some people take to it like a duck to water and attract Likes and new customers weekly. Others are not so fortunate and treat their page largely like a neglected extension of their website.

The key to a successful Page is ultimately fairly simple: Facebook is a social network, and that is what people ultimately want: interaction and entertainment. So with that thought in mind, let us take you through 5 ways that you can be sociable and engaging for your future potential customers.

1. K.I.S.S: keep it short and sweet

Size matters: Facebook users have a distinctly “ tl;dr” approach when it comes to posts. The most popular length is 55-99 characters: that’s even shorter than Twitter’s maximum!

You can get away with 100-250 characters, but as this research from Simply Measured shows, you’re much better aiming for a quickie.

2. Say it with a picture

According to 2014 research from eMarketer, 87% of posts that people interact with are photos and graphics. Simply put, people prefer visual imagery over text. There’s a huge range of different types of picture you can post to satisfy that need, including:

  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Real-time photos
  • Motivational quotes

Ask your followers to supply a caption for a funny snap. That will encourage engagement and get people talking, all the while building brand trust. Speaking of which…

3. Talk with customers, not at them

In an ideal world your social media posts will lead to two-way conversations. Your customers will get to share their opinions with you while you get unique insights into what makes them tick.

What does that mean for your posts? Ask your customers for their opinions every once in a while. You can even make a game of it with an ever-popular “fill in the blanks” post.

“…the bathroom” What?!? I’ve been at my desk all morning!

4. Reward loyalty with special treatment

We all like to feel special. Give your followers an excuse to think you are literally the business by giving them unique promotional info, insider industry news, or – best of all – a special offer.

If you want to get a real idea of how your posts are working, attach a promotion code like “Awesome-ABC” in the example below. You’ll get an exact number of sales from the promotion to give you an idea of what’s bringing in customers.

5. Don’t forget the human touch

People don’t want to interact with a faceless corporate entity: they like the human touch. You’d be surprised by how successful a post about a staff member getting engaged or going on a sponsored run can be.

And this is also reflected by people’s reactions to emoticons. They’re not just for teenagers these days! Even the most dutiful Grammar Nazi has to admit that sometimes a piece of text can come across as aggressive or sarcastic without facial expressions or body language to accompany it. There’s even a meme about it:

Use a smiley and the emotional content is supplied right there on the screen. And that’s possibly why stats from social media commentators suggest that people interact more readily with an emoti-post:

Disclaimer – there’s an unspoken common-sense twist to this last tip that we should include to avoid lawsuits and spare you embarrassment. Please don’t use emoticons if you are making a serious announcement or breaking formal news. No amount of :( is likely to get your message over very well!

Have fun with it…

From small businesses to major brands, the best Pages that you’ll see in your Newsfeed are those that keep things friendly and light. The cream of the crop gets shared far and wide, but your main goal should just be keeping your followers happy.

If you can keep the five factors we mentioned in mind when you are making posts for your Facebook Page then you should hopefully see an increase in Likes, Shares, and Comments. And that means more people will think of you first when they need services like yours.

Happy posting!

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5 benefits of cloud computing for small & medium businesses

Clouds

5 benefits of cloud computing for small and medium businesses

You’ve probably heard TV adverts or industry peers mentioning “the cloud” in relation to computing. But what is your understanding of the cloud as a tool for small and medium business?

With more and more companies utilising cloud computing, it’s important that you should understand why they are making the switch. After all, it is predicted that by 2017, 50% of companies will be using the cloud to some degree. And the same article suggests that 85% of new software today is being built for the cloud.

What is cloud computing?

In fairly basic terms, cloud computing is using a bigger company’s servers to host your information. Users will access the service through secure apps or Internet browsers, depending on the application.

To put it in simpler visual terms, it’s the computing equivalent of a car hire service, only you hire server space instead of vehicles. The car hire (cloud computing) company looks after the maintenance of all the cars in their fleet (all their servers). You pay for the use of cars on an “as-you-need” basis.

This gives you the capacity to “spin up” new servers (pay for extra cars from the lot), but you don’t have to pay extra for the maintenance (insurance, ongoing fuel costs). On the old model of localised servers, you could have to buy three cars in case your family needed them all in the future, which is as wasteful as it sounds!

But metaphors only extend so far. It’s probably time that we stopped messing about and dived into the proper benefits of cloud computing for small and medium businesses.

Flexibility

If you suddenly need more bandwidth than you previously used, there’s no need to invest in new local servers. You can simply upgrade your service to match your needs (like the car hire example). Similarly, downsizing can be achieved without servers lying unused. This level of flexibility is invaluable if you need to expand your operations or install new software.

Cloud computing becomes an incredibly powerful tool when you can “spin up” a new server in minutes without having to acquire and locate a physical unit. And with that power and flexibility comes the opportunity to compete with far larger organisations.

What’s more, because software is updated and maintained by the service provider, your employees can focus on using software safe in the knowledge that they have the latest, most secure version. This cuts your need to spend on resource for server maintenance and updates, which was estimated at 18 working days a month for a UK company in 2010.

Conclusion: save money on capital and resource, increase competitive edge

Security

It’s a staggering fact that almost a million laptops are lost or stolen in airports every year. Can you imagine how many are lost or stolen in bars?!? Well, a stolen laptop can spell bad news for sensitive localised files, but a company that uses a cloud solution can fall back on the remote storage aspect to minimise impact on everyday operations and security.

Even better: fire, floods and general acts of God will not have the potential to destroy your servers and leave you reliant on backups (you do have backups, right?). With your files in the cloud, all your data is safely stored on securely managed servers with virtually limitless backup capacity.

Research on disaster recovery points to cloud users bouncing back from disasters four times faster than non-cloud users. That’s a level of agility that more and more small and medium businesses are looking to enjoy.

Conclusion: reduce security risks but increase recovery times in worst-case scenarios

Accessibility

Cloud computing provides unforeseen potential for collaborations and employee flexibility. As your employees or affiliates can access software and date through any internet browser, they can gain remote access to your infrastructure whenever they need.

This application has obvious advantages for international organisations and partnerships, whose employees can work on projects in tandem or concurrently: collaboration has been found to deliver a heavy return on investment to the tune of 400%.

However it also has benefits for individual employees. The potential to work from home allows workers with family issues or childcare fails to remain productive, which makes for happier employees and better productivity.

Consider also that some business experts champion working from home as a way for small businesses to retain talented and driven employees. With savings on infrastructure overheads, reduced absence rates and many other benefits of working from home, you could be missing out on some wins.

Conclusion:improve document control, access and the potential for collaboration; work smarter

Efficiency

As you’re probably already gathering, there are an abundancy of efficiencies to be gained from cloud computing. We’ve already touched on scalability under “Flexibility”, but it also deserves an honourable mention here.

And the ability to scale your business up or down also reaps rewards for Mother Earth in energy efficiency. Businesses utilising cloud computing only use the server space that they need, which means a reduced carbon footprint.

As a result, cloud-using companies can make energy consumption and carbon emission savings of anywhere from 30% up to 90%, depending on the size of the organisation. The big news for small business is that the savings are bigger for smaller operations.

Conclusion: save the environment, save on energy costs

Economy

There’s very little need for capital expenditure when following a cloud computing model. It’s generally Pay As You Go (PAYG) and faster to deploy than the alternatives. That means your business benefits from minimal project start-up costs and consistent operational overheads.

This neatly ties in with the reduced need to continually update your software and maintain your servers. Throw in other resourcing and energy efficiencies as well and it’s clear that any company that uses a computer network could make large savings by relying on cloud computing.

Conclusion: add up all the savings and efficiencies above

Have we missed something? Drop us a line on social media if you think there are other pros or cons to using the cloud that we haven’t mentioned.

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