Archive for the ‘Online Technologies’ Category

Top SEO Issues – Why isn’t your website highly ranked in Google?

July 13th, 2017 by Cameron Collins

search-engine-optimisation-tips

In the digital marketing department of Contactpoint, I work with a diverse range of businesses and organisations to enable their website to rank higher for relevant Google searches. Those whose websites rank high on the first page of results reap the rewards of increased website traffic from their target market, an increase in sales or enquiry, and the ability to decrease spending in other areas of marketing such as paid advertising.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the practice of optimising a website for higher search engine rankings, takes time to learn and implement, and at times requires technical skills. Without any prior knowledge of SEO many business owners or marketing managers are under the impression that if they build a website and write a few pages of content, Google will automatically rank it on the first page of results and traffic will flow. In our experience, it’s rare for a website that hasn’t had optimization applied to achieve good ranks.

In the majority of searches, Google has to sort through thousands, sometimes millions of search results to select the best results for a visitors query. This is important for Google – if they frequently display unhelpful results, people would have no reason to use their search engine.

These are the two factors which all top-ranking websites are successful at doing:

  1. Providing a great user experience
  2. Making it easy for Google to interpret and understand the content on their website

I will now elaborate on 6 of the most common SEO issues which I frequently identify and rectify for clients, enabling them to reach the first page of search results.

1. Search Terms
Many businesses pursue SEO as they operate in a competitive industry, therefore having relevant search terms which allow you to stand a realistic chance of ranking highly in Google is crucial. For example, let’s pretend you are a builder. If we type ‘Builder’ into Google 331,000,000 search results are displayed:
selecting the best search terms for your search engine optimisation

‘Builder’ is a word that could apply to many situations, and is what we call a ‘broad term’ in SEO parlance. If we try something a little more specific, such as ‘Builder Melbourne’ 952,000 results are listed. We can search even more specifically and try ‘Extension Builder Melbourne’ we find that 536,000 results are displayed.

As much as possible, we look for search terms for our client’s websites in which less than 500,000 search results are displayed. Of course, that’s not always possible, but we have enabled many of our clients to push through the crowd and emerge on the first page of results by swapping broad search terms for something more specific.

Another consideration is the type of websites you are competing against. Do searches on the search terms you are targeting return many .gov or .edu websites? Google deems these websites to be highly trustworthy and authoritative in a specific category, so if your domain name ends in .com.au or .com, you will likely be better of pursuing different search terms.

2. H1 Headings
What is a H1 Heading? For most websites it is the first and largest heading on each page in their website. For example on the Contactpoint Search Engine Optimisation page, the heading is, of course, ‘Search Engine Optimisation (‘SEO’)':
using headings to support search engine optimisation
Google uses the H1 Heading as a key determinate of what your web page is about, therefore we recommend inserting 1-2 search terms inside this heading. Common mistakes we see regarding the use of H1 Headings in websites include:

  • No search terms
    This is especially common on the homepage of a business, with headings such as ‘Welcome to *insert business name here*’.
  • Multiple H1 Headings on the same page
    using headings for optimising for SEO
    This often arises as the website owner prefers the style of the H1 Heading and wants to use it throughout the page. The downside of this is that your headings lose their effectiveness.

3. Thin Content
Thin Content – that is, only a small amount of content, including little use of the target search terms and perhaps just in bullet point form – is a common and easy mistake to make when launching a new website or redesigning an existing one. Weeks, even months are spent focusing on achieving the right style and functionality, and the text is sometimes given a lower priority or left to the last minute.

Thin content can hurt your search engine rankings in two ways. Firstly, Google deems pages which are lacking text to provide a poor user experience, therefore they are unlikely to be ranked highly. Secondly, Google relies upon text to interpret the contents of your page, and therefore for which searches your page should be suggested. We find that clients who have approximately 500 words of relevant text, written in natural language, on each main page see significant improvements in their search engine ranks.

4. No Redirects & Broken Links
Allowing previously functioning hyperlinks to become detached from a live web page is another common mistake which can occur if a new website launch isn’t properly managed, or when changes to pages and products are made over time without considering what may have been linking to that page. What happens to those who stumble across your old page through Google, links from other websites and social media, or previous visitors who are returning? Instead of seeing the appropriate page, they will be presented with an error page, which is basically a dead end. Most people who stumble across an error page will simply return to Google and visit one of your competitors.

The correct practice is to add a 301 redirect which ensures that anyone who uses an old URL ends up on the replacement page, or whichever page you allocate as being the best alternative. This type of linking also passes on the ranking power of the old page to the new page and removes the impact on your standing with Google that can occur if you have many broken links.

Keeping track of all the dead end links which have been created over the years can be difficult – we help website owners to identify these links and redirect them to appropriate areas of your website.

We also recommend a custom error page, in the event that you miss implementing a re-direct on an obscure barely visited page. The custom error page will include a general message about your services pointing the visitor to the main navigation of your website, which will also be included. This way they are much more likely to keep browsing around to find what they were looking for rather than to return straight back to Google.

5. Demonstrate Authority & Trustworthiness
As part of Google’s commitment to displaying the best quality search results and providing a great experience for their users, Google seeks to display websites which can clearly demonstrate authority and trustworthiness in their chosen field.

One way that a website can demonstrate this is through high-quality backlinks. A backlink is when another website incorporates a link directing traffic to your website. Google judges a websites backlinks in a very similar way to how humans judge each other – if you associate with intelligent, honest, and trustworthy individuals, it is often assumed that you also possess these characteristics. If you associate with liars, criminals and other untrustworthy individuals, then it is often assumed that you also possess these traits.

We help clients to create a backlink strategy and gain recognition from the best sources in their area of expertise.

Trustworthiness can also be demonstrated through an SSL Certificate – meaning that all of the content of your website is transmitted encrypted between the web server and the person viewing or submitting information to your website. You may notice that some websites will have a padlock and the word ‘Secure’ displayed to the left of their URL. Google is starting to show preference for websites which serve all content over SSL (“secure socket layer”), and like many other ranking factors, we expect the importance this will increase over time.

We routinely arrange the purchase and implementation of SSL certificates into our client’s websites which are attached to the website domain. Generally SSL certificates are renewed on a yearly basis.

6. Duplicate Content
One of the most common SEO issues is duplicate content. ‘Duplicate content’ refers to the situation where the same content is available from multiple URL’s. Common instances of duplicate content include:

Faceted Navigation
This is particularly common in e-commerce websites where products are placed in categories to enable visitors to navigate a large product range with ease. For example a shirt may be found in the multiple categories such as:

  • men’s shirts
  • business shirts
  • on sale

Ideally, the product page of a particular shirt would have the same URL no matter what category it is located in. However, some websites fail to do this and will show the same product page under different URL’s such as:

  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/mensshirts/red-shirt
  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/businessshirts/red-shirt
  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/onsale/red-shirt

The Same Text on Multiple Pages

You may want to ensure that whatever page your visitors enter your website from; they can always find out about the core product/services your business offers, or the key reasons why you’re the best at what you do. Even though the pages contain different URL’s this can still cause problems. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the term ‘business consulting’ but you have the same text describing business consulting on 10 pages, which page is Google supposed to display in their results?

www, no www, https / http

It’s not entirely necessary to enter the exact URL of a website for it to be displayed. For example the Contactpoint website can be accessed by typing different combinations such as:

  • https://www.contactpoint.com.au
  • http://www.contactpoint.com.au
  • www.contactpoint.com.au
  • contactpoint.com.au

You will notice that whichever URL is used, it will always direct to https://www.contactpoint.com.au. This has been implemented as our preferred URL, and it is easy for Google to identify.
We find that some websites do not direct to a preferred URL, simply retaining the URL which was entered. Website visitors won’t notice a difference, however Google sees this as four duplicate websites instead of one unique website.

When performing an SEO review, we search for any possible duplicate content issues which may be harming your search engine ranks, and implement solutions which improve the ranks without harming your visitor’s ability to navigate the website with ease.

By now you can probably gather that search engine ranks are influenced by a vast number of factors. By helping clients to overcome these factors and implement strategies to reach their target market, we create what is in many cases a business’ number one marketing channel. Contact us now for an obligation-free discussion about how we can assist your website to rank higher in Google searches.

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Why not offshore my app development project?

April 17th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

onshore your app developmentOkay, you’re going to think I’m bias – I own a web & mobile app development company based in Melbourne, Australia, so of course I want to discourage organisations from offshoring the development of their apps.

However, fact of the matter is that I’ve heard countless war stories of offshored developments that have gone wrong … either the whole development has been thrown in the bin due to a poor quality result, or a project that was meant to be delivered by a particular date for a specific cost has escalated in both time and cost. My organisation has been the beneficiary of such malfunctioning projects, but not before the organisation has been through months of pain and disappointment prior to arriving at my door.

Apart from the issues of getting what you actually want, in an appropriate time, and for the low cost you expect from offshoring, there’s a third concern – security of your intellectual property. How do you really know that your solution isn’t being re-used for other foreign organisations to achieve the same or similar outcomes in their local market or the global market? If you needed to pursue a competitor for theft of your IP, doing that in a foreign country is going to be exponentially more difficult than locally. The risk of reputational damage to a local provider also provides you with additional leverage if an issue arises.

So why do off-shored projects so often go wrong? Anecdotally it would seem that the following issues are the primary reasons:

  1. Communication – first and foremost, effectively communicating your requirements is best done with the person/s carrying out, or at least overseeing, the development in the same room. Offshore developers try to overcome this with business analysts in Australia preparing vast documents on the required solution, adding time and cost to the project. Because the analysts are primarily in Australia, passing on of the information usually relies on the developers reading the vast amount of output and then following it … again inefficient, and developers aren’t known for wanting to read long documents before they start coding.
    Offshore developments usually require additional management in order to manage the offshore teams and co-ordinate communication, reducing the benefit of the lower developer hourly rates.
    Agile methodologies require close proximity of the developers and the clients to be successful.
  2. Time Zone – the effect of working in different time zones almost always adds to the project timeline. Someone has to wait until the start or the end of the day to communicate with the team, and when one team is working, the other isn’t, making asking a quick question in order to keep progressing down the right path either very difficult, or adverse for the work-life balance of team members.
  3. Cultural Differences – written English is heavily subject to interpretation. Cultural differences can increase the likelihood of incorrect interpretation. Trying to achieve a solution that feels like it was built for the Australian marketplace is also less likely from an offshore team, which is why design (UI & creative) is rarely carried out offshore.

From time to time I am asked to manage an offshore team in order for a client to get the benefit of lower cost developers. I always politely decline. We are able to develop great solutions, in a timely and cost effective manner because we have our developers in the same room, can have efficient discussions and decision-making about the developments if a difficulty arises, and because our clients are also close to the developers when the need arises. We also bring to our clients many years of experience, industry knowledge and of course cultural understanding.

There are times when you can’t get the resources you need, when you need them, locally such that offshore is the best option. But perhaps you should instead consider breaking down your development to smaller chunks so that a smaller, local team can meet your requirements. Smaller developments of shorter durations are also more likely to be successful, cost effective and deliver value to your customers and organisation more rapidly.

If you require a web or mobile application to be developed, I’d love to discuss the potential opportunity with you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Use of Animation in Websites

March 3rd, 2017 by Chris Torralba

headline - website animation
The use of animation in web design is a current trend, although thankfully we haven’t returned to the days of flaming logos. Animations in websites work best when they serve a purpose and enhance the users experience. Adding animation to a website can bring a design to life, even if the motions on the page are subtle. Websites without any animation at all may run the risk of looking outdated. This blog post is going to look crazy busy, and you’d never combine so much animation in the one page, but below we describe the various ways animation can be employed to give websites that extra visual appeal and improve usability.

Attracting attention
Animations can direct the users focus to any point on the screen. As long as there are not many other competing elements on the screen, even the smallest amount of motion will grab attention. This can be used to influence what the user sees, or establish a visual hierarchy pointing them to important points on the website. Visuals like a slow fade, a box crawling in from the side, or a tile spinning to reveal more information are more preferable than the content suddenly appearing out of nowhere. In the example below animation is used to reveal the products tagline followed by a shop now call to action button.
animation to attract attention

Engaging the visitor
Animations can be used to point out possible ways for visitors to engage further with your website. The right animation in the right place can help get your message across and engage users. Animations as simple as changing the look of a button when the mouse pointer hovers over them can make your pages feel more alive and prompt visitors to select press or interact with your content. A good example of this would be an animated call to action button. Such buttons need to be displayed prominently on your website. Adding [restrained] animations make them more obvious and will let users know that they are interactive. In the example below when the mouse is hovered over the button not only changes shape and colour but produces bubbles as well.
Button hover effect

Web Forms
Animations when used correctly allow designers to produce faster, easier to use, and more productive web form experiences. Animating web forms is a great opportunity to add some subtle and interesting effects to a web page. Web forms are elements that your user will interact with and making them fun to use can enhance the experience. Because animated visuals can teach more effectively than words or static images animations can also be used to show a user how to fill out a web form, subtle animations can guide user interactions and make form filling less confusing. In the example below animation is used to let the user know when his details have been correctly processed.
Web form animation

Visual Appeal
Whilst animating for the sake of beauty can be easily overdone, making the user experience that bit more enjoyable or sophisticated will help to bring your visitor back, and help to encourage sharing of your website. Below is an example of a very subtle animation that just adds some class to the design of the image link.
animation for visual impact

What’s your favourite example of animation?

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Design-centric Application Development

December 6th, 2016 by Kaveh Saket

Design-centric application development

A design-centric approach to application development (that’s web applications and mobile applications – is there any other sort these days??) differs from customer-centric or technology-centric approaches which have been more common of recent years. A design-centric approach focuses primarily on ensuring that the user experience is perfect – or perhaps more accurately “nearly perfect”.

There is always room for improvement – another revision, a new update – and users want continual improvement to make their life easier. User experience has been made king because research shows that organisations which focus on design significantly outperform those who don’t.

In a customer-centric approach the customer is asked what they want, and then the designer will set about delivering to their requirements. In a technology-driven approach, the technologists build the best algorithm or new solution to solve a particular problem and then look for a customer who values the technical solution. However, following a design-centric approach the designer will research the best current solutions in the problem landscape, put themselves in the customer’s shoes, and determine to provide the simplest way to achieve the desired goals. Gathering feedback on the design from a variety of potential users of different levels of expertise follows, and leads to iterative refinement until the first version is achieved. The developers – the people who turn the design into reality – are then directed by the design team to ensure that the intended outcome is achieved.

The Uber mobile app is a great example of design-centric application development, which is a significant factor in its amazing success. Anyone who has used the Uber App will agree – from being able to see where the on-approach vehicle is on the map, along with the number of minutes until it arrives continuously updated until arrival, to seeing a photo of the driver and vehicle, one press to make a call to the driver, and immediate payment upon arriving at the destination without needing to handover a credit card. I could go on and on about the ease with which you can hail an Uber, and receive a brilliant experience of private transport…

One of the challenges of current application design is dealing with content. Having little visible content is a very quick way to send users heading for the hills … imagine Instagram with no photos when you launch it, or Twitter with no tweets to read, or Facebook with no posts. However, masses of content with no simple way to navigate it, can be just as off-putting. Requiring a user to search has been the standard approach for many years. Filtering and other ways of helping the visitor to easily drill down to the content they are most interested in, have developed more recently.

At Contact Point we have been embracing SCRUM methodology across our organisation, which also readily supports a design-centric approach. Starting with our client’s goals and objectives within their particular competitive landscape, and their customers’ wants and needs, we will:

  • undertake research into common solutions to the design problem at hand,
  • brainstorm other potential approaches with trusted and experienced colleagues,
  • wire frame the potential solution, getting feedback along the way,
  • apply creative design to the wire framed solution,
  • carry out user testing of the design, iterating as necessary to refine the solution, and
  • finally develop the solution, taking care to ensure that the essence of the planned user interaction is achieved

The above steps will be undertaken for each logical entity that collectively forms the solution, at the same time ensuring consistency throughout the solution as appropriate. After the development of each component, real user testing of people across a broad range of skill levels, will then lead to further refinement. Programmatic A/B testing will allow two or more potential solutions to be tested head to head to ensure the best solution evolves.

The successful execution of a design-centric approach involves many steps, and requires an appetite for iteration, well beyond the launch of a new solution. However, the results are impressive, and for all but the simplest of tasks, likely the only way to achieve raving fans of your solution. Design-centric doesn’t mean that the customer is ignored. In fact the opposite is true with a greater focus on experience combined with needs and wants. Neither is technology ignored – utilizing the most up to date and elegant technology is also paramount to ensuring a great user experience.

What is the best user interface you have experienced from a web or mobile application?

 

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Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-consumer-decision-journey
As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

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Getting Started with Google Adwords for your Website

April 5th, 2016 by Trevor Robinson

You’ve heard about Google Adwords or Pay Per Click campaigns to bring people to your website, but you don’t know what’s involved, or how to get started. This blog post will help you take your first steps to enticing additional visitors to your website, and inspiring those visitors to take action (buy, browse or enquire).

Before we get into that, a quick summary of Google Adword… Google’s paid text ads can appear at the top, in amongst, or at the bottom of, the regular (referred to as ‘organic’ in the web developer world) search results. The text ads have a set format specified by Google. You can recognise the ads by a small orange image that says ‘Ad’ – well, that’s for the moment, Google changes ad positions and styles from time to time. Your ads can also appear in the ‘Display Network’ – websites of organisations or individuals who have decided to try earn some extra revenue by being paid by Google to display your ads. The feature embedded into 3rd party websites to show Google ads is called ‘Google Adsense’.

GoogleAd

You can also setup image ads, which can encourage more people to notice and click through. Google more recently has implemented an initiative called ‘Re-marketing’ whereby Google tracks who is visiting the websites of advertisers, and then show that advertisers’ ads to those same people when they visit other sites containing Google Adsense. In a way the ad “follows” the person. This strategy is clearly very effective in getting a person to return and buy the product or service being advertised, however, it can be disconcerting / annoying for some. You need to specifically set up Google Re-marketing if you want your ads to follow people around.

GoogleRemarketingAdsinGumtree

The Google Shopping Feed is another tool for inserting your products into search engine results.

GoogleShoppingFeed

Whenever a person clicks on your ad, they are taken to a page of your website that you specify, and in doing so, are causing you to owe Google a small fee for that click. The fee amount depends on numerous factors, but will usually be around the same amount for a specific ad – when you setup the ad, Google will tell you the likely cost per click. When you setup your ads, you will also set a daily budget for click costs per day, and Google will not exceed that cost.

That’s the summary… now, back to getting started!

Step #1 – your objectives

Knowing what your objectives are is essential for achieving them!

Your objectives for your Google Ads are likely to be phrased in one of the following formats:

  • Attract 50 new visitors looking for product/service XYZ per month, in order to receive 25 enquiries and convert 10 into new customers
    OR
  • Attract 500 new visitors requiring service XYZ, in order to add 400 people to our email database
    OR
  • Attract 1000 people wanting to purchase XYZ product, in order to sell 250 products

It can be tempting for business owners to think that they want unlimited new visitors to their website… why put a number on it!? However, in reality, unless your product or service is 100% delivered in a hands-off manner, there will be a limit to the number you can sell in any given month based on your current stock / staffing / processes etc.

Step #2 – writing your ads

Your ads will potentially appear in amongst ads of your competitors and/or in amongst other search engine results, so it is important that your ad stands out or grabs the attention of the searcher, to be more likely to be clicked.

Before writing ads for our clients, we always look at the ads of competitors, and ensure that we take a different approach.

The set format for ads means that there are very few words for you to play with, so writing a succinct but attention-grabbing ad, which appropriately represents your organisation and the destination page, can be tricky!

Step #3 – tailoring the destination page

Your ad needs to deliver – when the searcher clicks on the ad, it MUST take the person to a relevant page of your website that meets the expectation set by the ad. If it doesn’t, the searcher will disappear in an instant (but you’ve paid for that visit), and your reputation will suffer a tiny bit of damage because you have just wasted that person’s time.

The destination page – also called the ‘landing page’ – will likely need some adjustment to ensure that the searcher knows in an instant that they are in the right place. Repeating that text of your add in the first heading and paragraph of the landing page is one way to achieve this.

The landing page should also include a relevant ‘call to action’ related to the ad. Depending on your objectives, your call to action could be ‘sign up for our newsletter‘ or it could be ‘buy now’… Calls to action are often brightly designed images hyperlinked to another page of your site, or text hyperlinks.

Because of the need to tailor the destination page to ensure that the ad, for which you have paid, delivers the highest return on investment, often you are better off creating a specific landing page for every ad you run.

Call-To-Action-Button-Examples

Step #4 – setting up your ads

Once you have your ads written, and landing pages ready to go, you need to setup your ads inside the Google Adwords tool: https://www.google.com.au/adwords/ You need to have a Google Account to login and start configuring your ads. You also need to attach a credit card to your Google Adwords Account in order to start your ads running.

The Google Adwords tool can be a little confusing at first, because there are so many settings and options for your ads. So, if you are going to do this step yourself, you are wise to work your way through some Google Tutorials on how it is done.

Some important settings to look out for when setting up your ads:

  • Keywords – you associate each ad with a set of keywords, and these keywords are the main factor in the cost per click charged by Google for your ad. Google provides a tool for helping you choose appropriate keywords. The most cost effective keywords are those with low competitor activity (few others bidding for that word / phrase) yet a high number of monthly searches.
  • Exact or broad match – the Adwords tool defaults your keywords to ‘broad’ match, meaning that if any of the words in your keyword or phrase appear in any part of the search term entered by the searcher, or synonyms of your keywords, then your ad can be displayed. For example, if the key phrase you are bidding for is ‘ladies hats’ and the searcher types in ‘baseball hats’ in Google, then your ad may appear if you specified broad match. Google defaults to broad match because it is trying to give your ad the most exposure possible, and relies on your ad being written well enough so that only your target market will click on it. However, you run the risk of people mistakenly clicking on your ad, and costing you money.
  • Negative keywords – these allow you to stop Google from presenting your ad if a particular word (the negative keyword) is included in the searched for words. For example, if you sell top end perfume and bid on the search term ‘perfume’ with a negative keyword of ‘cheap’, then if a searcher types in ‘cheap perfume’ your ad will not be displayed. Use of negative keywords is an obvious way to ensure that only the right target audience sees your ad.
  • Time of day – you can specify which days of the week, and the time of the day, that your ad should be displayed. If it is very unlikely that your target audience are looking for your services at 2:00 AM in the morning, then displaying your ad at that time would be a waste and attract people from the wrong country.
  • Location – you can also specify where the searcher can be located, either by city, region or country.
  • Budget – you can specify not only your daily budget but also how quickly you spend that e.g. spread over a month, or spent as quickly as possible. If your ads are not displayed or clicked on, then your budget won’t be spent.

There are many other settings for your ads; reading Google’s tutorials about these will go a long way to helping you work out the best setting for your ads.

Step #5 – managing your ads

In order for your ads to start displaying in Google search engine results you must have a valid credit card attached to your account, and your ads must be approved by Google. The approval process can take several hours, and is necessary after every change to the text of your ads.

It is important to check on your ads on a regular basis with regard to the following:

  • Ensure they are still running!
  • Ad Impressions – if your ad is never being shown, then it will never be clicked on. You may need to adjust your bid, keywords, or ad copy to improve impressions.
  • Ad Position – you need to check that your ads are being placed high enough in the ads to actually be likely to be seen and clicked. This will depend on advertiser competition, and the amount you are willing to pay per click for your ad.
  • Click through rate (CTR) – some ads will attract searchers more than others – these will have higher CTRs, and are likely the ads you will want to spend more money on, and perhaps pause the others – but only if they are also delivering against your objectives.
  • Actual cost per click – if the average click cost is very close to your maximum bid, you may be missing out on potential clicks and therefore should try increasing your budget. If your daily budget, because the average cost per click is so high, won’t deliver enough potential customers to meet your objectives, then you need to consider increasing your budget or choosing different keywords that attract a lower cost per click.
  • Keywords – over time, the terms being used by searchers to find your ads may evolve, so you may need to adjust the keywords associated with each ad. You may also find that people are clicking on your ad
  • Display Network – if you allow your ads to appear within the display network, you should check that your ads are showing in appropriate sites. It’s time consuming to check each website in which your ad has appeared and then adjust, but you can prevent your ad from appearing again in particular websites.

Managing your ads is a little involved, and not managing them well can either cost you serious dollars or mean that you are missing out of potential customers and not meeting your advertising objectives.

We understand that setting up and managing Google Adwords can seem daunting, so if you need any assistance we’re happy to help.

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Is it time to fix my website?

January 24th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

Is it time to fix your websiteThe start of the year affords most business owners a little more space to consider our organisations from a more macro perspective. For many businesses, their “shopfront” is their website. Making sure that your shopfront is presenting your organisation appropriately, and delivering the best results, are macro questions businesses owners should ask on a regular basis.

A key objective for many websites is lead generation, and therefore another important question is “Am I receiving enough inbound leads, of the right type of people, through my website?”

The right type of person is important. If the leads arising from your website are predominantly from people who need a different product or service, or are looking for a cheaper alternative, or who are too large or small for your organisation to effectively support, then there’s a problem.

The enough will depend on the size and resources within your organisation. Most organisations have a limit to the number of inbound enquiries they can handle well at any point in time.

If the answer is “no”, you aren’t receiving enough qualified enquiry (or sales) from your website, then you will have one of the following problems:

  1. Not easily found. Your website isn’t being found in the search engines, on the right search terms. Or looking at this another way, the right people aren’t searching using the terms for which your site is optimised.
  2. Stopping at the door. When people find your website, its appearance or the user experience is turning people away. For example, they can’t quickly find what they are looking for, or trying to view your website on a phone is difficult.
  3. Failure to engage. When the visitor reads through your content or uses the functionality you provide, they aren’t engaged, their curiosity isn’t aroused sufficiently or their questions aren’t answered, so they move on rather than submitting an enquiry.

If you have invested heavily in your website (e.g. financially, including your own time, or emotionally), it can be painful to admit that it has any of the above problems, or know which one/s. Looking at the data about your website performance will help you hypothesize what may be wrong.

Bounce Rate
Your website bounce rate is a measure provided through Google Analytics which shows the percentage of people who look at one page of your site, and leave your website without clicking anywhere else. This measure can be an indicator of the engagement problem, a user experience problem, or that the visitors who are arriving are the wrong type of people.

Pathways & Exit Pages
Google Analytics will also show you the most common pathways through your website. When a person arrives on page x they then usually go to page y, and page z and then leave. This may help you to identify the pages that need to be re-written so that you aren’t losing visitors because of poor content, or because you aren’t making it easy for them to take the next step at the right point in their likely pathway.
Alternatively, you may find that visitors are mostly going down a path in your content that isn’t the optimal path for the information they require, and therefore the information architecture or calls to action need adjusting.

Device Usage
Google Analytics data will show you the percentage of your website visitors who are using a mobile device. This will help you determine whether it is time to invest in a mobile responsive website. Having a mobile responsive website will also help with your search engine ranking. As of the 21st April last year, Google made it clear that for people searching while using a mobile device, that it would give preference in the search results to websites that are responsive.

Search Terms and Search Engine Ranks
Your Google Analytics data will also give you a guide to what search terms are delivering visitors to your website.
A check on where you are ranking for search terms you are targeting will help you know whether you are likely to be found. You should be aiming for as close to the top of the first page of results as possible, but definitely in the first 3 pages.

Google Keyword Tool
The Google Keyword Tool will help you determine what search terms are most being used to search for your type of product or service, and how competitive those search terms are – useful if you are considering using Pay Per Click advertising to bring visitors immediately to your website when your organic ranks aren’t good enough.

Competitor Research
Assessing the websites of your competitors against a set of pre-determined criteria can help you to identify where your website might be less engaging.

As long as you have Google Analytics setup against your website, easily available data can be a great source of information about what may be causing a lack of inbound enquiry from your website. The following techniques will help you go deeper into the analysis of the problem.

Market Research
Asking a statistically significant number of people in your target market a set of well-crafted questions can help you to identify how your target market are perceiving your website, and what might turn them away.

You need to be able to answer the question: “Will my target audience find the answers to the questions they are likely to ask?” and “Will my target audience find solutions to their common problems?”

Conversion Rate Optimisation
If you have setup conversion tracking on obvious places within your website such as hyperlinks and form submission buttons, you will be able to calculate the conversion rate for visitors being presented with that content. Conversion tracking can be achieved using various tools – Google Tag Manager being one of them.

If you are advertising your website through Google Adwords, click through rate is an important indicator of engagement with your ads.

If the traffic to your website is sufficient, programmatically delivering alternative content to a page, and testing the conversion rate of the alternative text, will provide you with sound data on which alternative is the more optimal for producing engagement. For example, if your analysis suggests that the content is an issue because the text isn’t speaking directly to the target audience you may decide to craft 2 or more alternative headlines, introductory paragraphs and calls to action, and then test these against one another for the most beneficial version.

There’s lots involved in making a website great. “Fixing it” may require a full design refresh and re-build into a mobile responsive website with richer functionality, or it may be as simple as re-writing the content to be more concise, helpful and engaging and/or adding more obvious calls to action.

If you would like to discuss the performance of your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Gamification of your online store

October 28th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

gamificationAll of you who attended the Melbourne Business Network event yesterday morning with me, and heard James Tuckerman speak about “5 disruptive trends and tactics that will reinvent how business is done in 2016″, will undoubtedly have been considering how you can implement gamification.

Gamification is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts” (source).

But first, if you are interested in some recent statistics on the impact of gamification, here’s an article I found which is a quick read: Gamification in 2015: Top Statistics and Facts. Here’s some more facts and figures.

Here’s a quick brainstorm on how to implement gamification into the online shopping experience (without culling the ridiculous … yes, aliens may get a mention).

Let’s get the obvious out the way first:

  • For first time customers (you can work that out based on their email address) after successful payment immediately reward them with a ‘first time customer’ badge, and give them something as a reward – that might be an additional extra product thrown into their first delivery, a discount off their next purchase, reward points …

By the way, before I go on … congratulations on choosing to read this blog, and getting past the first few paragraphs! Click here to get your reward. Seriously now, click!

Now where were we … okay, back to the perhaps less obvious ideas (and you wouldn’t necessarily do all of these things simultaneously):

  1. After the customer adds an item into their shopping cart, congratulate them with a badge and explain that they are x steps closer to owning their new item. Sounds, visuals and a feeling of game play are important aspects of gamification; so don’t make it too boring.
  2. As the customer works their way through the checkout, make it into a game … giving them fun visuals showing that they are progressing through the purchasing of their prize.
  3. For returning customers, give them a different reward compared to first timers … perhaps accrue points towards their free / goal purchase. To make this feel like a game, perhaps avoid a “frequent flier points” style point system, and lean more towards collecting cute ‘widgets’ to achieve a goal number of ‘widgets’.
  4. For customers who click through from your purchase confirmation email, to track the progress of their order or shipping, show them another badge – the excited shopper award perhaps! Make this sometimes anxious stage of the wait fun for your customer, and ease their mind that their parcel is on the way.
  5. For customers who click through to view your terms and conditions or payment security page, show them another badge – the careful shopper award perhaps. Again, this helps you to turn this more serious matter into something more light hearted and friendly.

Alright … there’s the brainstorm. You’ve probably thought of a few more, so please add to the above list via the comments!

Or tell us if you have noticed gamification popping up in business websites, like the DropBox example 1 and example 2?

NB: There is a real life prize for the first comment added to this blog post. You will receive your surprise gift in the mail.

 

 

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Split Testing Your way to Optimal Web Page Content

September 15th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

What is Split Testing?

Split testing, also referred to as A/B testing or multivariate testing, is a method of delivering multiple versions of a web page in order to gather data about the efficacy of particular content (images, text, forms or video). Incoming traffic is distributed between the original (control) version and different variations without the user knowing that they are actually part of an experiment.

A/B testing involves testing two variations of a web page against each other to distinguish which version of the web page is the most effective.

Multivariate testing involves comparing multiple variations of a web page in order to distinguish which combination of variations is the most effective.

A/B testing is excellent if you are after quick insights regarding isolated page elements, and is best for websites with lower traffic volume. Multivariate testing tends to be a more intricate process. Given the multiple variations and possible combinations, multivariate testing requires more testing time and is better suited to high-traffic websites, in order to yield statistically significant results.

Why Split Test?

Perhaps your website is ranking really well in the major search engines, or maybe your search engine marketing and social media marketing efforts are generating traffic through to your landing pages, but that traffic that you have worked so hard for isn’t turning into conversions (clicks, enquiries, sales, signup…).

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about making the most out of your website visits, gathering data about your visitors’ interaction with your website to ascertain how your conversion rate can be improved. Split testing is an important part of CRO.

What can be tested?

Any element that can be moved on your web page can be included in your split tests, however before testing, like any good science experiment we start with an hypothesis formulated after analysing the behaviour of your current traffic perhaps using heat map analysis.

The most important on-page elements on a web page are likely to be:

  • Call-to-action buttons / text / links
  • Introductory headline
  • Web page graphics
  • Text content such as sales copy and product descriptions

How is it implemented?

Once an hypothesis has been agreed, the alternate content needs to be written or designed, and programmatically added to the target web page using special script that will deliver alternate versions of the content to different visitors. A returning visitor will always see the same content, as long as they are using the same PC & browser.

After a statistically significant set of test results have been gathered, the outcome of the test can then be analysed and if conclusive, the winning content can be permanently applied to your web page, for all visitors.

CRO-graph

Running a simple split test on the position of a call-to-action, or the text used in your main headline can make a big difference to your bottom line. Repeating the process and testing another change, and another change, will ultimately lead to optimal content for the desired visitor action.

Split Testing is a tool used by the most savvy websites, and is now available to Contact Point clients – please get in touch if you have a web page that isn’t delivering the conversions you are seeking!

 

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Enhance your website with animated graphics

September 2nd, 2015 by Tamar Smart

In my early years as a Graphic Designer, I worked a lot with incorporating animation onto a website via Adobe Flash. This was all the rage back then – mostly for use within large banner images/dynamic elements. Over the years, Flash became outdated and impractical, especially with the introduction of Apple devices and their lack of support for all Flash animation files.

Finally animation on websites is making a comeback, but in a slightly different form. Animated graphic files can be created as a Gif image, using HTML5, or a video animation embedded into a website. These formats are supported across a wide range of devices too, which is great news.

Animated graphics can really bring life to an otherwise plain website. They can be eye catching, entertaining, informative or tell a story.

One particular favourite style of animated graphics, is called “whiteboard animation”. This style looks exactly as it sounds – a series of images and text are “drawn” onto a whiteboard, and wiped off or moved around on the whiteboard. This type of animation really works when there is information to explain or a story to tell – it feels natural and makes sense to a viewer. The reason for this is because, when we want to explain something to someone, we often write or draw rough sketches on paper.

As I was browsing the internet today, I noticed that Google had created an animation in whiteboard style. Google has just created a new logo, and used the animation to tell the story of how it was created (in basic dot points). The animation works really well – it’s eye catching, a little bit fun and it makes sense.

New_Google_Logo

In case you missed it, here is a link to view Google’s animation explaining their new logo:
https://g.co/doodle/xfnz5b

At Contact Point, we have recently created video animations for our clients to help engage with their audience, and welcome the opportunity to create an animation for your website also.

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