When putting together your digital marketing budget, one key decision is whether to invest in PPC (pay-per-click) ads, SEO (search engine optimisation) or both. Comparing SEO vs PPC concerning your business needs can give a clear picture of what will and won’t create the desired results.
Ideally, the most effective strategy is to invest in a combined PPC and SEO campaign. The two work well together to help you dominate search results in the long term, gaining customers from your competition. However, the reality of marketing budgets may limit your strategy to just one of the two.
This guide will define SEO vs PPC and give you the pros and cons to help you decide which will best fit your marketing goals.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process of amending your website and pages to communicate with search engines more clearly than your competitors. This process helps your website and pages appear in the top organic search results for relevant queries.
Organic rankings are search results that can’t be changed by paid advertising.
Search engines rank organic search results according to their relevance to the search term. Rather than paid advertising, SEO puts your brand at the top of the search results more organically: with mobile and load-time-friendly sites that showcase their products and services to both Google bots (which crawl your website) and users. Ensuring your website is user-friendly with useful information and few technical errors is a key requirement for a well-optimised website.
One piece of the SEO puzzle is on-page SEO, which focuses on the elements shown on the front end of the website. There are many factors to on-page SEO. With the recent helpful information update, rolling out on-page SEO is more important than ever.
These on-page factors are where keywords come into play, and we can place keywords strategically to give search engine crawlers the clearest picture of what the page is about. These include:
- Content: High-quality, original and helpful content, always gains organic keywords, so the keywords gained must be relevant to your ideal customers.
- Headings: Breaking up content with headers makes it easy to scan and understand, helping people stay on your page longer. This helps at the consideration stage of the consumer funnel.
- Meta tags and descriptions: These appear in SERPs to give more information about the page, but they also tell search engine crawlers how to index your page.
- Images and Alt Text: Ensure your images are high quality, in the right format and named with keywords.
- Site structure: Pages should fit together in a logical, easily navigated way, for both users and search algorithms.
- Internal Linking: Including links between key parts of your website helps user navigation and search.
Getting the balance between user-friendliness and search optimisation is the key to high-ranking pages. Google’s Helpful Content Update(August 18th 2022) has changed the way SEO works when it comes to content. You can’t simply rewrite other people’s articles, or use AI extensively because Google won’t rank it. For great on-page SEO, a specific target audience can help create content that works to bring in quality traffic, using the keywords your audience uses and focusing on the problems they want to solve.
This is the secret sauce of SEO – focussed on building your website’s authority and credibility beyond content and site structure. This is how a search engine determines whether your website is worth ranking highly for keywords where there is high competition.
Off-page elements include:
- Backlinks and referring domains: quality links from reputable websites show that your website is a valuable source of information.
- Content marketing and social media engagement: sharing your content on a range of platforms encourages others to link to your website and builds up your rankings indirectly.
While there are fewer parts in off-page SEO, this key phase is just as challenging and requires a professional understanding of industry publications, audience management and social media.
In this way, a good SEO strategy provides a firm foundation for marketing, building your brand reputation as well as your search rankings. This makes SEO a powerful marketing technique for long-term results.
Pros of SEO
Low Cost: SEO is generally a lot more cost-effective than other forms of digital marketing, in particular PPC and Google Ads. You don’t pay for people to click on links to your website when you rank organically. SEO provides big opportunities for a great ROI in the long term.
Scalable: Once you have gained first-page rankings for high-volume keywords, you can build on this success and look at other areas to target. Good performance in SEO provides a great foundation for further digital marketing strategies provided you have the right strategy.
Higher Click-Through Ratio: Generally, users will be more likely to click on organic results than paid results, which many people ignore.
Branding: Aside from more traffic, high search rankings give your business and brand more visibility online. Many users trust organic results more than ads, and you can quickly build a reputation as a leading provider of a product or service if you rank highly for several keywords. The quality of the website, content and backlinks that are required for high search rankings have knock-on effects on your overall brand reputation. Your site appearing first can influence your perceived credibility with an audience looking for your product service.
Sustainability: Once you have achieved high rankings and have an ongoing SEO strategy in place, your competitors can’t simply outbid you to appear higher up. They will need to invest a lot of time in developing their site to knock you off the top spot.
Cons of SEO
Long Term:Results from SEO can sometimes take 3-6 months to generate results. If you only have a short window to see returns from your marketing, SEO may not be the best option. However, once your website has gained a significant ranking for high-volume key terms, this is fairly easy to maintain, bringing traffic to your site for the foreseeable future.
Not always viable: For the majority of businesses, SEO is an invaluable tool in their marketing arsenal. However, a small number of companies may not see the same benefits; their industry is too competitive in search or their product/services just don’t get enough search volume.
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model where your website pages are displayed at the top of search results, marked as ‘sponsored’ or ‘advertising’. Google displays your ads with a link to
your website, and you only pay when a user clicks through to your site. This is typically associated with search engine advertising like Google Ads or Google Shopping.
A Strategic Approach for Google Ads
When creating a Google Ads campaign, we start with keyword research and organise the terms you want to target into the ad groups that will sit in your campaign. Once the campaign is live, you can manage this with a daily budget and set a cost-per-click limit, which stops the cost from spiralling. Your account will start spending money once a user searches and clicks on your ad.
We recommend starting at a lower budget for the first month or so, as your campaign will be in “learning mode” for the first six weeks. This means that Google is learning about the users searching for your ads, feeding into an algorithm to help Google determine if the user is in the awareness or consideration stage.
Once you start to receive conversions, you can either choose to focus on increasing conversions or traffic to your site.
Choose Your Keywords
With Google Ads, you are in complete control of what keywords your website shows up for on Google. There are three types of match types: broad, phrase and exact.
Broad: Shows your ad to searches that are relevant to your keyword
Phrase: Shows your ad to searches that include your keyword
Exact: Shows your ad to only those searches that are an exact match to your keyword
You need to ensure that you are keeping on top of your search terms with your campaigns. Removing any irrelevant keywords into a negative keyword list helps keep your campaign working effectively. You can find out more information on Google Ads management online here.
Pros of PPC
Quick Results: PPC can generate traffic results much faster than SEO. PPC can take 6-8 weeks to show measurable results, which makes it a good choice for businesses that need short-term results and a quick ROI.
Position on Results Page: Google Ads now take up a large portion of search result pages, generally in the first four positions. Although users tend to click on organic results more often, being able to occupy the top of a results page for your chosen keyword can be a massive boost to both traffic and authority.
More Specific Targeting: With PPC ads you can filter the users you target based on age, location and demographics. You can make sure you are only paying for the traffic that you want on your website.
Range of Channels Available: Google Shopping Ads, Display Ads and Text Ads are all forms of PPC advertising. Investing in PPC marketing gives you the option of trying these channels and seeing what works for your business.
Find out how our team use PPC & Adwords for fast traffic boosts.
Cons of PPC
Can Be Costly: Depending on the competition in your industry, PPC can be expensive. Extremely competitive industries such as Law Services or Insurance can have very high costs per click. Keep this in mind if your marketing budget is tightly controlled.
Higher Initial Investment: Although PPC can get results immediately, to optimise your account you need a lot of data on clicks and conversions. This means that initially, your initial cost per conversion will be higher than it will be once the campaign has progressed and begun to generate data. You will need to be realistic about how long it takes to optimise a PPC campaign.
Is SEO or PPC right for my business?
This will largely depend on your industry and business and you will need to weigh up the above pros and cons and see how they fit in with your business.
SEO is low-cost, long-term brand building that helps your website perform at the best possible level.
PPC is a variable-cost, high-impact option that quickly builds awareness and traffic to your site, but may not be sustainable long term.
What we find at eSterling is that you can mitigate the cons of SEO with good PPC and the cons of PPC with good SEO. For example, a PPC campaign can plug the gap between starting SEO and seeing lasting results. Marketers will need to weigh up all of this against business needs and goals.
Questions to ask to decide between PPC vs SEO
These questions will show you the way: SEO, PPC or Both?
Do you need quick results?
If you want to increase traffic and sales immediately, PPC might be the right direction. PPC allows you to drive targeted traffic towards specific pages on your site. Before you start with your Google Ads journey, you should make sure the landing page is set up for conversion tracking and have relevant information to help users convert.
Is competition for organic search results high in your industry?
Using tools like SEMrush, we can measure the relative competitiveness of each keyword in your industry and establish the likelihood of ranking organically with your current domain authority and backlink profile.
If most of the keywords relating to your products or services are highly competitive, SEO may take a long time to have an impact. This is because we will need to focus on building overall domain authority. A PPC campaign can fill the gap before an SEO campaign creates results.
What are competitors paying for ads?
Using the keyword planner tool on Google Ads, you can see the average cost-per-click (CPC) to be at the top or bottom of search results. This gives you an idea of how much you will be paying per click. You can set a maximum cost-per-click budget on each campaign or bid manually, which will give you complete freedom to ensure each keyword has an individual budget. Manual cost-per-clicks is recommended for small campaigns only.
You can also get an idea of how much competitors are paying monthly on SEMrush by viewing their organic and paid search results. This is a rough estimate and not 100% accurate but it can be helpful to figure out how much you should be spending a month. If your competitors are paying huge amounts, PPC may not be the most cost-effective strategy and you may be better off with SEO.
How much is your digital marketing budget?
Choosing between SEO and PPC also depends on your own marketing budget and the competitiveness of the keywords you are looking to target. For PPC, we always suggest that you start small and increase your budget slowly over the first three months of running your campaigns. £500 a month is the best starting point for most industries, it gives you the flexibility to trial your keywords at a reasonable price while allowing Google’s algorithm to direct users to your ads. As for the first month or so Google is in learning mode, you may find a lot of budget is going to waste through irrelevant searches, so start small and making sure you are keep on top of your negative keyword lists. Having the correct conversion tracking set up is key so you can analyse which keywords are gaining sales. You should only consider spending more on PPC once you have results, and then reviewing what your monthly budget should be.
Comparatively, strong SEO may be more cost-effective than PPC, because you can reach the top of the search results for terms that are expensive when targeted for paid ads. Given that most users prefer organic search results over ads, you can gain traffic without paying for clicks.
We Can Help You Choose
If you are still unsure about what direction to take your digital marketing campaigns in, eSterling can help.
Our dedicated marketing are experts in both SEO and PPC campaigns and can offer free advice on what is best for your business and guide you to the channels that will get you the best return on your investment.
Contact the eSterling team now and we will be happy to help with any questions you might have.
On September 15, 2023, two of our SEOs and a content writer travelled to Brighton for a conference that specialises in search, social and content optimisation. I know, it was over a month ago, but sometimes that’s how long it takes to unpack a suitcase full of lessons. We’ve had a chance to put these SEO tips into practice, and we’re ready to share the most useful and intriguing lessons from BrightonSEO 2023.
What is BrightonSEO?
BrightonSEO is the foremost search marketing conference worldwide, hosted in the UK and the US. It brings together speakers from all over the world to share SEO best practices, the latest in content marketing and discussions on search metrics and social media.
“It’s a chance for SEOs to meet, learn and do their job a little better.”
Find out more about how we use SEO at eSterling.
SEO Lessons from BrightonSEO ’23
We would love to share every little thing we learned, but that would be:
- Extremely long
- Not as good as just attending the conference yourself
Instead, we’ll continue adding to this article until we have created a full SEO Guide, so watch this space!
These are tips from some incredible people in search marketing, so we’re not looking to plagiarise – you’ll find links to their slide decks in this article so you can get the full picture.
To help you find the advice most relevant to your website, we’ve sorted these tips into two categories: Basic SEO, Content and Local SEO.
Basic SEO Tips
We already know that site-wide strategies work much faster than single-page or single-keyword strategies. And we know that Meta-titles are important. This lesson is more of a reminder to us, but we’re including it because it might be new to you.
These are the first jobs in any SEO strategy, those which take minimal effort but have a high value. Thanks to Andy Mollison‘s presentation, our SEO team are up to date on the low-hanging fruit to gather early on in the strategy.
The growth rate for sales from organic traffic can increase rapidly just from templating meta titles. These are the titles that show up on SERPs, which are not necessarily the same as the headings on the page itself.
Meta titles should be specific and relate to the most relevant search queries for the product. For example, if you’re a food wholesaler, you should include ‘Wholesale’ in your meta titles.
For eCommerce websites, you can gain a huge amount of organic traffic by making it clear that customers can buy online in the meta title. This differentiates your page from a brochure website or magazine articles about the product type and reaches people looking to make a purchase right then and there.
Making sure all your images are high quality is great, but if the files are enormous they’re going to slow down the site and leave pages lagging behind in the SERPs too. On top of this, slower loading means people navigate away to find a faster solution, so it’s worth compressing images.
Sitewide image compression is possible with WordPress plug-ins such as TinyPNG, and there are plenty of online tools available to support lossless compression and optimise your images.
Image Alt Tags
Use alt tags to help explain to Google what your pages are about. It’s a common practice to add keywords here, but a mistake some make is to paste the same keyword to each image regardless of what is shown.
Alt tags are also used to make your website accessible to users using screen readers. Even if you’re using stock imagery to highlight how stress-free life could be without your product, the alt tag should reflect this. SEO Best practice is to use keywords and relevance in your alt tag descriptions.
Internal links were a key topic at BrightonSEO this year. Julien Deneuville and J. M. Felip discussed methods for ‘wrangling’ internal links on huge sites, while Martin Hayman described how we can build internal links using Topic Clusters (more on this later).
Internal links within your site do three things:
- Help search engines find all of your pages and understand which ones are most important
- Pass authority between pages on your site
- Help users navigate to the most important pages for them
Internal links can often be found in the site navigation, a useful links section in your page footer, or in a sidebar highlighting similar pages. However, according to J.M. Felip, an SEO strategy should prioritise the links in the main section of your page.
These in-context links lead to relevant and related information, helping your users find related content quickly and helping Google’s crawlers understand the relationships between your pages.
Our Digital Marketing team provide Organic SEO and eCommerce SEO services to businesses of all sizes. Contact us today to discuss an SEO strategy for your website.
We’ve heard so many times that ‘Content is King’ and, as a content writer, I have to agree: nothing does more for a page than content. However, just adding a blog post every week or stuffing your pages full of keywords is a rubbish strategy that won’t get you anywhere.
Content for content’s sake is not the point. What SEO’s mean when we say ‘Content is King’ is that the sites with the most comprehensive, readable, well-linked content on a topic overall will rank more highly than a single page that vaguely skirts around the edges of the subject, without relevance to the rest of the site.
The point of a search engine is to help users find what they’re looking for online. The point of content is to answer queries. Good content will signal to the search engine that this website is a trustworthy source.
But how do you create content that stands out in a saturated online space?
Highlight your topical authority.
Content Clusters Put Information Front And Centre
Content clusters or topic clusters have been a great SEO content strategy since around 2016 when Google’s search algorithm began to favour topic-based content. The idea of topic clusters is to link related content together around a central ‘pillar page’. This creates a user-friendly structure and a search-friendly system that can easily be crawled and indexed.
The reason for using this strategy is to strengthen Topical Authority. Every domain is given an Authority score, based on how trustworthy the website appears to search engine algorithms. With quality content, internal links and backlinks, a website can gain high authority and thus, high rankings.
Related content can be internal or external, including blog posts, social pages, guest blogs and site pages. However, creating a chaotic web of links between all of your existing content on a particular subject can become unmanageable and difficult to navigate from a consumer mindset. This is where Pillar Pages come in, and I was lucky enough to get a refresher on this subject from Martin Hayman, author of The Organic Advantage at BrightonSEO this year.
Pillar Pages can be Short or Long
Also called keystone pages, core pages or cornerstone pages, this is the central hub to organise all your topic content around. A good pillar page will:
- Summarise the topic adequately
- Contain links to all cluster pages
- Be easily found on the main website.
Around each pillar, high-authority sites have sub-topic “cluster” pages. These go into greater depth on particular aspects of the topic.
Sub-topics might be instructions for use, benefits of a product, comparisons with other topics, use cases, and so on.
Link each cluster page to the central pillar, and to other cluster pages. As you add more sub-topics, you should update the pillar page with a relevant link, so that users can navigate up or down the chain, zooming in and out of the subject.
Hayman also recommends creating supporting content, blog posts that are relevant to the topic, social media posts, and so on. These provide an extra layer of internal and external links to bolster the cluster as a whole. They can link to the pillar page, cluster pages and each other, creating a network of information with the pillar page at the top.
To make pillar pages and content clusters work for your website, the key is to build internal links between them. This strategy gives a good structure for high numbers of internal links, but a scatter-gun approach is ill-advised.
Plan topic clusters well to ensure all of your website’s internal links are high-quality and relevant to the topic that you want to become an authority on.
Most importantly? Write for humans, not search engines
Easily-accessed AI language models such as Chat-GPT have led to a deluge of content that is vague, unorganised and poorly written, not to mention down-right wrong. A poor understanding of SEO can often lead us down the path of creating any content that contains high-volume search queries, and using AI to speed this up seems like a no-brainer.
Avoid this SEO pitfall. We need to remember that we’re trying to answer queries in the most efficient way possible for the humans who are searching, not the algorithm itself.
And search engines like Google are wise to this: the latest ‘Helpful Content Update’ makes it clear that “people-first content” will always rank higher than content created to trick search engines.
This means being reliable, original and substantial. It should also be well-produced, present information in a trustworthy way and focus on putting people first.
“People-first content means content that’s created primarily for people, and not to manipulate search engine rankings.”
Google also lists some warning signs to identify content that puts search engines first, including:
- Using extensive automation to produce content on many topics
- Mainly summarising what others have to say, without adding value
- Leaving readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information
- Promising to answer a question that actually has no answer
Here’s how to avoid writing unhelpful content.
- Put in the time to fully understand a topic. Research always leads to more valuable content than using AI straight off the bat, because you can get the facts right and identify gaps in existing content and write to fill that niche.
- Research also shows you what a trustworthy source looks like in the topic field. You can then replicate those features, such as citing sources, including technical drawings or gathering quotations and reviews.
- Write content for the intended audience. This all lies in the tone of voice you use, which can help your content stand out from the crowd. Companies using the same old AI-generated text tend to get lost in a field of similar content. Original, people-first content has the upper hand when showing Google that your content is uniquely different to competitors.
- Answer human questions like a human would! Find out what questions users are asking using tools like Answer The Public and SEMrush. This way we can discover which queries searchers are actually using most often. Answer them fully.
Some agencies still think Local SEO is creating 50+ landing pages with “Keyword Place Name” headings for every city where the client wants to gain customers.
I’m exaggerating, but I have written enough content that suggests a company is based in different cities and neighbourhoods for absolutely no results.
We don’t want to do this. It takes a long time, it’s expensive, and it creates complex site structures that don’t do much if your business isn’t in the area.
Use Your Google Business Profile
Ranking as a local business depends much more on your Google My Business Account, the profile that shows up in the Businesses section of SERPS when people search for ‘[keyword] near me’. This is extremely relevant for restaurants, repair garages, cafes, grocers, opticians, dentists, and so on. If your customers are all local, you need to focus your efforts here.
Looking at any results page for this type of query on most search engines, you can see that even the top-ranking pages don’t cut through. Below the paid Ad results there’s an embedded Map, complete with location pins and a list of the businesses they highlight.
Local SEO is about being the first one on this list, not just the top-ranking page on SERP. It makes local search a different ball game to your regular SEO.
To show up in a particular area, businesses should treat their Google Business profile like a landing page.
Bare Minimum Local SEO
These are the necessary tasks you need to do to help people find your business locally. Without these, Google will put a business with better profiles ahead of you, even if your address is closer to the location. If you’re a fairly niche business, or the only shop in town, you may get away with just following these steps.
Keep the details up to date. It’s no good having a listing if it shows your old phone number or the wrong address.
Add photos. This increases the chances of having your business at the top of the list. Even better if they’re high-quality, high-resolution photos that show the best of your business.
Don’t Add Keywords. Just use the name of your business. The category of business will help people find you, but adding keywords to your business name here can lead to account suspension.
Use a local phone number. This is additional proof of your location for search engines and customers. If you want to rank in Wolverhampton but you have a Coventry phone number, you’ll rank lower than other businesses.
List the correct opening hours. Customers rely heavily on the opening hours listed on SERPs, as they’re often easier to find than those on your main website. Having the wrong hours could lead to negative reviews, leading to loss in rankings, leading to a loss of business – you get the picture.
How do I do Local SEO for multiple branches?
You can manage multiple locations from a single Google business account, so each branch or location can be listed with a local phone number, a local address and correct opening hours.
Brilliant Local SEO
Get Detailed Reviews. According to Greg Gifford, 30% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and they are a major ranking factor for Google. Encourage your customers to leave good reviews as often as you can. The results are even better if they add photos or write a lot of detail, as these reviews are more likely to show up first.
Give Good Reviews a Thumbs Up. Do this from as many accounts as you can, because 2 or more thumbs help the review stay visible for longer.
Use Attributes. By tagging your business as ‘dog-friendly’, ‘LGBT-friendly’, ‘Gluten-free’ or ‘Wheelchair Accessible Entrance’, you’ll gain from searches using these terms. Customers can also filter their search results by attributes, so you want to describe your business as fully and accurately as you can.
Upload videos to your profile. There is a 75MB limit, which means you can use around 35 seconds of video content to highlight your business. Show services in action, a tour of your café, or introduce yourself.
It’s not just Google that offers business profiles. There are plenty of potential customers searching on Apple maps and Bing maps, and while the majority are on Google, it’s worth at least claiming your listings on all search engines.
According to Greg Gifford, 6/10 businesses have not claimed their Apple Map listing. Once your Google My Business profile is optimised, use Apple Business Connect to optimise there as well. It’s also worth optimising on Bing maps and takes very little time to do so.
The team at eSterling specialise in Local SEO services. Contact one of our team today to discuss how we can help you.
A Culture of Learning
SEO is continually evolving to keep up with search engine algorithms. Because of this, we put a lot of value in learning the best practices and new thinking in search. By investing time in learning, experimenting and implementing new strategies, eSterling continues to offer the best SEO in the West Midlands.
Many thanks to the BrightonSEO ’23 Team for having us, and we hope to come back next year.
As customer expectations move at the pace of the web, letting a website linger way past its sell-by date will have a lasting, negative impact on your business. Deciding when to start again can be tricky, so we’ve put together a guide to summarise some of the signs that show it is time to invest in a brand-new website.
In 2023, we know it’s never “just a website”. In most cases, your website gives people the first impression of your business, so having an up-to-date, user-friendly and fast website gives you the best chance to generate more business.
Quick Check: Why might I need a new website?
You know it’s time for a new website when yours is:
- Difficult To Use
- Doesn’t Render Correctly
- Not Mobile Friendly
- Hard To Update
In this guide, we’ve put together 9 reasons businesses need a new website so that you can assess for yourself whether it’s time to get a redesign. Many of these are rooted in the expectations of potential customers searching online today.
Here, we’ll cover the 9 reasons to get a new website:
- Your website looks dated
- The site is no longer fit for purpose
- Your competitors are way ahead
- You’ve not updated your website for a long time
- Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
- It’s slow to load
- Customers find it difficult to use
- Your Employees find it difficult to use
- Employees are spending a long time working on the website
1. The web has moved on, and your website looks out of date.
The online industry moves at an incredible pace. There are new web design trends, techniques and layout options almost daily, so it is inevitable that your website will be out of date to a degree, and there is no getting away from this. Sure, you can re-skin a site and patch it up, but you’re essentially putting a plaster on it until the next time, and it will cost you more in the long run.
While some website trends come and go, it’s clear when a website looks dated. Customers searching for the first time make huge assumptions based on the quality of a website, and one that looks more suited to 2013 than 2023 will turn people off, losing potential business. But how can you tell which website trends are worth pursuing, and which will simply date your website further in a few years’ time?
Rather than falling for the ‘wow’ factor, this checklist helps us identify the trends that are here to stay:
Does it improve the User Experience? If it helps people navigate your website better or have more enjoyment from using your site, it’s worthwhile.
Does it improve website performance? A new design could decrease loading times, or help the website function in a more integrated way.
Would the website be a success without it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – there’s no point in adding superfluous trendy features to an already successful website. But if it could be the lynchpin that holds the whole user experience together, go for it!
Does it help the site achieve its goals? Bespoke website design rejects the idea that there’s a one-size-fits-all formula for every business’s website. Each design is grounded in the specific goals of the business, guiding us to choose only the features that will advance the site towards them.
Using this checklist, I have been able to utilise existing new trends which are of benefit to the site as a whole and understand which trends to dismiss.
2. The site is no longer fit for purpose.
Sometimes the lack of functionality of a website is affecting the day-to-day running of your business, or you can identify holes in the online ordering process. When this happens, the site is working against you, rather than attracting and converting customers.
Your website should work with your business, not produce problems and extra work for employees. It can often be frustrating if you are constantly working around your site or having to change your workflow because of it.
If your website no longer works for you but against you, it’s time for a redesign.
3. Your competitors are way ahead.
This is a particularly tricky arena. Sometimes following the trends of the market leaders can reap excellent rewards because your new client base will already be familiar with the look and feel of your website, and it will reflect a professional approach to your business.
On the other hand, trying to keep up with competitors can lead to looking the same as everyone else, which is just as unhelpful as having a dated site. Rather than simply copying your competitors, updating your website can help your brand to stand out from the crowd.
We achieve this with a Design-First approach, putting the needs of your customer and their journey through the site before aesthetic changes.
This is the same approach used by Apple in the 90s when they decided to produce desktop machines that looked totally different to the beige boxes that were on the market at the time. Apple pivoted to emphasise design-led products and reaps the rewards to this day.
The decision to update in line with competitors or innovate to stand out normally depends on what market sector your business is in, so consult a web design expert to find the best approach for your business.
4. You’ve not updated in ages
The average lifespan for a well-designed website is normally 3-5 years, depending on the sector and competitors. In all honesty, if you had a website built yesterday and it was built poorly, it’s already time for a redesign! The day-to-day operations of your business can take up a lot of time, but without showing your prospective customers a professional and usable interface, you will struggle to gain their trust and increase purchases.
Your website should be your statement: your first impression. If it’s dated or, worse still, broken or not rendering correctly in modern browsers, it will be harming your image and your reputation as a business.
As developments in website creation, browsing and hosting capabilities progress rapidly, the longer you leave it to update your website, the more problems will arise. For example, if your website is using a payment method that hasn’t been updated since 2019, most likely it is not compatible with SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) systems such as 3DS2.
Using an outdated, non-compliant payment method is problematic for your customers and your business, as customers will be unable to pay, get frustrated and leave. We recommend simply using up-to-date payment methods that allow quick checkout. The best of these are self-contained and protected under a green lock (HTTPS) SSL certificate.
5. Your website isn’t easy to use on mobile devices
Ensuring your site can adapt to mobile phone screens, accounting for the differences in dimensions and orientation, is particularly important in today’s mobile markets. Responsive web design is a standard these days because almost everyone searches for services and products on their mobile phones more frequently than on a desktop computer.
If your website is not responsive, users will need to scroll sideways or zoom in to read the text. But mobile users are all about convenience. Rather than going to the extra effort, people will simply move on to one of your competitors. It is absolutely paramount to have a website design that can provide a positive user experience on every device, using responsive design.
6. It’s slow to load
Websites that take more than 3 seconds to load lose potential customers quickly. With millions of search results, at least 53% of users will simply click on the next link instead of waiting for a slow website, so it’s important to get this fixed quickly.
However, it may not be as simple as patching or reducing the number of plugins. Your website might need an updated CMS or a full overhaul to get speeds up to scratch.
It’s easy to assess your website’s speed with tools such as PageSpeed Insights. If you find that things are taking a while to appear, it’s worth speaking to a web designer who can advise as to what is slowing your website down.
7. Customers find it difficult to use: You need UX Design
User Experience (UX) is important to factor in when deciding whether your website needs a redesign. If it’s too difficult for visitors to your website to find what they need, purchase products or understand what your services are, you are missing out on potential business. The journey from your homepage or landing page to the checkout or enquiry can be simplified and directed even if your offering has many complex layers, with some clever UX design.
This usually involves creating an easy-to-follow “navigation flow”. If the flow is interrupted or not fluid, visitors can be frustrated and have a tendency to leave. In certain situations, there are accepted standards and habits that customers follow which we can play into to create easy navigation. For example, an eCommerce platform usually shows the cart or basket icon visibly in the top right of the page.
If your eCommerce site makes the customer search for the basket or scroll a long way to add products to the basket, or if the information around product pricing, VAT or deliveries is difficult to find, then your customer will struggle to complete the purchase, and you lose the sale.
8. Your Employees find it difficult to use: You need an up-to-date CMS
Using a Content Management System (CMS) that is not intuitive can also lead to frustration, delays and damage to your visibility online. With a small amount of training, you should be able to manage content on your website yourself, adding blog posts and new product pages in a few easy clicks via the admin area.
But if your CMS is out of date, it may not be user-friendly and require a more specialised operation, costing you more in the long run and leading to struggles further down the line.
9. Employees are spending a long time working on the website
Even with a usable CMS and appropriate training, there may be long processes of updating the website which can now be solved. For example, your website may be requiring a lot of manual work from you and your team to process enquiries and orders.
New integrations and automation options are being released all the time, so it may be worth updating your website to make the most of these algorithms, APIs and widgets.
If you can relate to any parts of this post, then you already know whether or not to redesign.
Having a new website built begins with an aim: a purpose. One of the first questions we ask is: “What do you want your website to do for your business?” and we go from there.
A new website can be tailored specifically to your goals, whether it’s lead generation or helping customers find information easily. A website redesign can help with:
Improved Branding: An updated website with a modern design can promote trust and brand recognition among consumers and improve the overall design and quality of the website can help to evaluate the trustworthiness of the company, thus enhancing the brand image and keeping the business relevant.
Smooth information flow: The core goal of a website is to provide information that helps visitors learn more about the business, products/services, and ultimately close deals, by having an optimal information flow and a website redesign can help to structure and present the information in a way that all the important stuff is easy to find.
Reduced business costs: A complete website redesign allows for re-evaluation of hosting and CMS, can run more efficiently, save costs in the long run, and cut costs of missed opportunities and lost revenue caused by an outdated website.
More sales and business: A website redesign allows you to make conversions the primary focus by presenting a flow of information that guides visitors towards actions such as purchase, subscription, or request for more information, which is something that older websites often fail to do effectively.
If you’re hoping a new website will help you gain business via search inquiries or if you just want more traffic to your website, you may be looking in the wrong place. In this instance, I would advise you to read about Search Engine Optimisation first, before completely rebuilding a possibly perfectly good website.
To get the most out of your website design, make sure your designers understand your requirements, functionality and sitemaps. Be open and honest and set goals. Take advice and, if it is in line with your website’s goals, then go for it! Employ designers and developers that have a track record of delivering. For that reason alone, eSterling is a great place to start.
Google recently announced that, from July 1st 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data… but what does that mean and why does it matter to your business?
What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Your business’ traffic is currently being tracked using Universal Analytics, this has been the standard for the past 10 years. However, Google Analytics 4 is the next generation of Analytics; it comes with more accurate and powerful data tracking which will be highly beneficial to us and to you during our SEO efforts.
The key new features of GA4:
- We will be able to track a lot more data compared to Universal Analytics
- We can gain so much more insight about what users are doing on your site
- More integrations with Google Ads
- Updated more secure tracking
- Analytics tracking that complies with GDPR and User Privacy
Why do I need to switch to GA4?
Since Google will no longer track any further data come July 2023, we would no longer have access to newly tracked data if you choose to not switch. This means that we could no longer report on the number of visitors who view your website, or how they access your website.
What is required to update from Universal Analytics to GA4?
First of all we need to update the tracking codes across your website, with new tracking codes provided by google after creating a GA4 profile. This is then added to the website using the below process.
- Create a google tag manger account and add ga4 code via this tag manager account.
- Setup conversion tracking on the new ga4 platform to tracking user events that generate user conversions. This can include:
- Contact form submissions
- Phone call clicks
- Website sales
- Exclude internal traffic for us and yourself, so that we don’t track data from our usage on the website.
We then need to create bespoke reports on the GA4 platform to generate the data that is important to you, as GA4 doesn’t have the same kind of standard reporting that universal analytics has.
More information on this change from google can be found here.
Recently, Google announced that they would be discontinuing Universal Analytics (Google Analytics 3) from the 1st July 2023, replacing it with their new Google Analytics 4, which was launched in 2020.
You may be wondering what this means for your website analytics, as most websites still rely on GA3. With this post we hope to answer a few of your burning questions.
How is Google Analytics 4 Different?
Although the premise of Google Analytics 4 is the same as Universal Analytics, much of the interface and data collection methods have changed.
In GA4, rather than tracking individual metrics such as page views, it focuses on events such as user engagement. This includes metrics such as clicks and scrolling which offers a greater insight into your users’ actions. These new metrics mean that the generated reports have changed.
As some metrics have been removed and new ones added, the reports generated by Google Analytics have changed as well, with more focus on user engagement. There is also a new reporting interface that allows you to create your own custom reports using the new metrics. Although this is a process that requires some learning.
This move to Google Analytics 4 demonstrates Google’s dedication to improving user engagement and experience.
How Much Longer Can I Use Google Analytics 3?
After the 1st July 2023, Google Analytics 3 will no longer track your website traffic and data. This means that technically you will be able to use GA3 up until this point. Following on from this, although GA3 will no longer analyse your website, it will continue to store your history allowing you to view your previous data.
However, this means that comparing your current performance with your history will become more difficult.
The last date you will be able to send data into Universal Analytics will be the 30th June 2023.
When Should I Make the Move to Google Analytics 4?
Despite Google Analytics 4 being a direct move from Universal Analytics, your history will not be transferred over. This means that if you wish to compare your current performance with your history, as mentioned above, it will be a more difficult process.
To ensure that you get the most out of Google Analytics 4, you should consider making the move sooner rather than later. Comparing your history with your current performance is a key metric within GA as it provides crucial insights into improvements and issues with your website.
What Should I Do Now?
At this stage, you should set up and configure a Google Analytics 4 Property ASAP, as this will allow you to gather data before Universal Analytics is turned off.
If you wish to know more about the process of making the change to Google Analytics 4, or need help setting up a GA4 property then please contact us and we will begin the process.
November 2021 Broad Core Algorithm Update
Google updates Google Search hundreds of times a year to ensure that the Searcher has the best possible experience. The majority of these updates are not noticeable, but they still contribute to the overall user experience.
Several times per year, Google releases Core Updates which are larger and more noticeable. These sometimes bring disruption to websites as they can decrease or increase in rankings and traffic. This is normal and usually stabilises after a week or two.
Announced on the 17th November, the November Core Update saw a spike in SERP volatility, much like the spike back in July with the previous Core Update. This time, the spike was larger, with an average of 20% more volatility than in July, however, it levelled out sooner.
There is speculation that the Google Core Updates are becoming less impactful, however it is also possible that the Updates are being streamlined in order to limit disruption.
Both Desktop and Mobile were hit by the Core Update, with Mobile being the most affected. This is a trend we are starting to notice with broad Google algorithm updates, as Mobile becomes more and more of a priority.
Analysing the top 100 websites which saw the most volatility, the ‘winners’ of the Core Update saw an average position gain of 33, while the ‘losers’ saw an average position loss of 28. While there were many sites which were significantly affected by the Core Update, the average website only saw a shift within around 3 positions.
As has been the case with the previous Core Updates since 2019, Google’s advice has remained the same. Websites should make sure that their Mobile versions are up to date and running smoothly, alongside ensuring that their content is high quality.
If your website has been hit by the November Core Update, it may be the time to update your content and make sure that it is high quality and meeting top ranking keywords. Alongside this, when generating new content it is important to make sure that it is high quality, proofread and optimised to improve the chances of it thriving in the many updates Google rolls out in a year.
Whether you are an eSterling customer or just looking around the web for some solid design trends for your next project then you’ve come to the right place. Every year brings its own trends and design fads and only a very select few stick, so I’m here to go through the good and bad of trends for 2022.
Light / Dark Options
This particular trend involves giving the user the ability to view your site in either dark or light mode depending on their preference. Having initially come from the back of Android & Apple’s UI options there’s a good reason for this trend to really take off in 2022. It has been proven that dark-mode reduces eye strain and conserves battery power on Mobile, Tablets & Laptops so it’s got that going for it too.
My take on this is a little more complex – I think if your websites traffic revisits your website either weekly or monthly then this would work and will give the user the impression that they’re getting a personalised experience.
If it’s added just because it’s a trend, then I’m not sure what value it really adds? Personally, I have Dark-mode set to my iPhone because I prefer the aesthetic but nothing more.
Would it work for your customers? What do you think?
These are traditional gradients that include normally 3 or more colours that are pulled together to create a gradient effect that can be seen online more and more. You can use them as element backgrounds or as part of a hero section.
I’ve seen this as a design style for corporate brands to appear more contemporary and ‘fun’ especially used alongside bright, vivid colours.
Although this trend leans heavily on the colours that have been selected, if you choose the right combination, this trend can look eye-catching and quite impressive.
I think if the target audience is right, the branding colours lend themselves to this look, this could be a trend which will continue to be used throughout the 2020’s.
Most Minimalist Design
I feel the word ‘minimalist’ features on every single design trend since the early 00’s. This new take on minimalism removes all unneeded elements and leaves the bare essentials, replacing them with whitespace.
This look is mostly used for ultra-modern brands who seek to be associated with a contemporary, minimalist lifestyle. So this look would work for modern furniture stores, tech brands and clothing brands aimed at 18-30 year olds – It’s all about the target audience!
I personally love this look as it cuts out the BS and leaves just the product/content etc. but it’s not right for everyone.
Now we’ve all seen the animated ‘menu’ or ‘hamburger’ icons which turn into a big ‘X’ to close the menu – Yes, this has been around for a while but LottieFiles has opened their doors and provided Web Designers with a toolbox of animated icons. I think this trend will really take off in 2022.
These light-weight icons can really enhance the UI of a website and as they’re SVG’s too – they are fully interactive on all devices and browsers.
When used correctly, this trend can really make a site look and feel more polished and complete. It gives the impression that the designer has taken their time to get things just right.
It’s a no-brainer, just do it!
If I was asked to give our customers or other like-minded people some advice for the web in 2022, I would say the following 3 words: Speed, speed, speed.
With every passing month, Google reaffirms their stance on slow, poorly built websites stating that they will be penalised resulting in a lower Google ranking which could be devastating for small to medium sized businesses.
Essentially this could be the death of these ‘off-the-shelf’ website builders such as WIX, Mr Site, Et al. If building your own website is a serious option due to cost then I would say it’s not worth it. You could do more damage than you could imagine.
If you rely on website enquiries or calls originating from your site, if it doesn’t rank, you’re dead in the water. In essence, what Google are trying to do is promote well built, fast websites over the slower, more poorly built websites. The Google Core Vitals are the new metrics which will come into force that test your websites responsiveness, speed and performance and potential they could decide on the success of your website.
Migrating your eCommerce site to a new platform or design can come with a host of benefits – from increased functionality, better security, improved user experience and other advantages that could help your online revenue grow.
However, an experienced digital marketer will tell you that migrating an eCommerce site can come with a lot of pitfalls that can spell disaster for SEO performance, so it’s best to prepare properly. Site migration SEO is an important area for eCommerce businesses developing a new website, as neglecting this part of the migration could lead to a loss in organic traffic.
To help with this process, we have put together the ultimate guide to SEO for eCommerce migration. If you follow this checklist, you will be less likely to see in a drop in your organic rankings and traffic and may even increase your sales.
It should be noted that each migration is different, bringing its own host of challenges. This guide will outline the general issues that site migrations face, but you might also consider challenges arising from changes to your domain name or payment gateway, switching from HTTP to HTTPS, or other irregular changes.
The steps that apply to most migrations can be divided into Preparation, Comparison and Post-Launch. To help make sure you take appropriate action at each stage of your site migration, here’s a quick checklist to refer back to later:
- Preparing for Site Migration
- Crawl your current site
- Create Benchmarks:
- SEO Performance
- eCommerce Data
- Backlink Profile
- Compare Live Site and Staging
- Map Redirects
- URL Structure
- Internal Links/Site Structure
- Review Metadata
- Review Content
- Review On-page and Technical SEO
- Copy Schema Markup
- Page Speed
- User Experience
- After Site Migration
- Pre-Launch Checks
- Site Speed Test
- Monitor SEO Performance
Preparing to Move
These steps should be the first thing you do and can be done before work has even started on the new version of the site.
Crawl Your Current Site
“Crawling” refers to an algorithmic process that checks all your site URLs and how they are structured. Search engines crawl every web page to index them against relevant search terms, based on the technical data and content of each page. Finding out what information search engines gain from your current site is a useful first step in maintaining SEO through the site migration process.
Screaming Frog is a widely used tool that crawls all URLs on your site and lets you analyse all technical and on-page SEO data. Other tools are available to do this, but Screaming Frog is free up to 500 URLs and is relatively simple to use and understand.
It’s important you crawl your current site to obtain a list of all your current URls as well as SEO data about those URLs. This data can be used for comparison and benchmarks later on and includes:
- Metadata – information that helps search engines determine topical relevancy, this can be descriptive, such as a page summary or image alt text, or structural, such as how information fits together with the rest of the site.
- Canonical Tags – code that helps search engines identify the main version of a page among many similar pages.
- H1 & H2 Tags – HTML tags that show page hierarchy and the main topics of the page.
- No-index pages – pages blocked from search indexing, such as shopping cart or checkout pages on eCommerce sites.
Benchmark SEO Performance
Using tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and your other SERP tracking software, take a snapshot of performance to benchmark how your site performs in search engines.
Make a record of the key metrics for your existing site, including:
- Organic traffic: how many users land on the site through search engines?
- Session Duration: how long do they stay on the site?
- Bounce Rate: what percentage navigates away without viewing other pages?
- Pages per Session: How many pages does the average user view each session?
- Devices: what devices do they view your site from?
- Top-ranking keywords with the highest monthly search volume
All of this data can be tracked and compared once your eCommerce site migration goes live.
Benchmark eCommerce Data
As well as benchmarking your SEO performance, you should export as much detail as you can about your sales performance.
Look at revenue, transactions, conversion rate, what channels users are most likely to convert from, what devices users are most likely to convert from, what pages are viewed and assisted conversion. This data will give you a good idea of the impact the migration has on your site’s profitability.
Benchmark Backlink Profile
Finally, you should always export a full list of all your backlinks before an eCommerce site migration, so that they can be reproduced. Ahrefs is a useful tool that allows you to look in-depth at all of the domains that link to your site. Keeping a record of this is important to ensure that no important inbound links are lost during migration.
Compare Live Site & Stage Site
Now that you’ve created records of your SEO benchmarks from the old site, you can make sure the developing site matches up to the same standard.
With your current URL list from the crawl, create a full 301 redirect map to ensure that all old website URLs redirect properly to the new URLs. Normally, a map will be a spreadsheet with columns for your current/old URLs listed against their new URL counterparts.
Once implemented on the staging site, you will want to crawl the old URLs to ensure that no redirects are broken. This should be repeated again post-launch.
Ensure URL structure is still SEO-friendly
If you are migrating to an entirely new eCommerce platform, the URL structure will likely change for products and product categories. Review the new URLs on the staging site to ensure they still meet SEO best practices.
- Do URLs still contain target keywords?
- Do URLs follow standard structure, e.g. “/product-category/product/”?
- Do URLs contain hyphens instead of underscores?
- Do URLs appear spammy/stuffed with keywords?
Compare Internal Links/Site Structure
Before launch, you will need to check to see if the new site has SEO-friendly internal links and structure.
- Are all of your main pages, product categories and products linked in your main navigation?
- Are there any orphaned pages?
- Do category pages contain indexable links to the products?
- Are there any broken links on the site?
- Are there any internal links that 301 redirect?
- Are there pages that take more than four clicks from the homepage to get to?
- Are your products categorised in a way that targets keywords?
Review & Copy Metadata
From your initial crawl, you should have a record of all of the meta descriptions and titles present on the current site. At this point, it may be a good idea to review all metadata to ensure that it effectively targets your keywords.
- Do page titles begin with your main target keyword for that page?
- Does your meta description contain the effective Calls to Action?
- Are all titles and descriptions an appropriate length?
Once the review is completed, copy all SEO Metadata over to the staging site so that it is ready for when your new eCommerce site goes live.
Review & Copy Content
Content is more important than ever for SEO performance, so ensure that the new site has unique, SEO-friendly content on all pages.
- Does content contain relevant keywords for all pages? Creating a keyword map for each page can be helpful to establish what you need to target.
- Is there any duplicate content anywhere on the site?
- Do products contain enough technical information?
- Is it easy to tell what your product is, what it does, and why you should buy it from the descriptions?
- Do all product categories have content?
- Is there content on the homepage?
- Does the content appear stuffed with keywords, or is it natural, human-first content?
Review On-Page/Technical SEO Elements
- Check H1, H2 usage
- Check IMG ALT attributes
- Verify proper implementation of canonical tags
- Check all pages that you don’t want indexed are marked with ‘no index’ tag.
- Check for canonicals and duplicate URLs
- Ensure the new site has an SEO plugin installed e.g. Yoast for WordPress to support future content
- Ensure Google Analytics tag is copied over.
Copy Schema Markup
For an eCommerce site, the schema markup is particularly important.
In 2011, major search engines created a common set of data markups that search engines use to better understand the meaning information on a webpage. This collaborative markup is called Schema.org.
All eCommerce sites should have some schema markup on their page, in particular the product schema markup. Although it doesn’t necessarily impact the page rankings themselves, it has been proven to have a direct impact on click -through rates due to the enhancements it can provide.
If this is on your current site, ensure it is transferred over correctly. If you currently have no schema markup in place, it’s a good idea to create this and implement it before the site migration is complete.
Compare Page Speed
Using Google’s Page Speed Insights and their Lighthouse Developer Tools, compare the page speed for the current and new sites. Although this may change after launch, it is important to review now to ensure that if there are any issues severely impacting page speed, they can be resolved well before launch.
Compare User Experience
Once you have reviewed all technical aspects, it is also important to check that your new online store works from a user perspective. While this won’t have a direct impact on organic traffic, if you don’t consider the user, you could see a fall in conversions.
- Is it easy to search for products on the site?
- If you have a lot of product variations on your site, can these be easily filtered down to specific requirements?
- Are products categorised in a simple, understandable way?
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Do product pages display enough information to make an informed purchase?
- Is delivery information made clear?
- Is contact information easily accessible?
- Do you have clear Calls to Action?
- Is it clear what elements are clickable?
- Are all product images high quality and relevant?
- Is this site easy to use on all devices?
- How many steps is your checkout process? Is this as simple as possible for the end user?
With a high-quality user experience, you can maintain a high conversion rate and make the best of your site migration’s SEO.
Now that the new eCommerce site is built and all technical data for SEO is migrated across, you’re ready for launch. It’s important to do a few checks so that when search engines first index these new pages, everything is in place to gain the best organic traffic for your products.
Once your new site has been launched, it is important to check the below:
- Verify all redirects are working.
- Check that the site is not being blocked from being crawled or indexed.
- Verify all pages that you don’t want accessible in search engines aren’t set to nofollow.
- Check for any 404 or 301 response codes on internal links.
- Ensure that Google Analytics is tracking page view data.
- Verify that Enhanced eCommerce tracking is set up and tracking data correctly.
- Verify that the site has an XML sitemap and that this has been submitted to Google Search Console.
- Check that all On-Page and Technical data that has been copied over from the old site is present and indexable.
Site Speed Test
It’s important to check page speed again after launch. Any server or hosting changes post-launch could lead to different scores, so keep an eye on this in the first few weeks.
If you notice a drastic reduction in page speed scores, it is important to rectify this as soon as possible as page speed is a ranking factor for Google. A slow site will reduce the impact of your SEO.
Ongoing Monitoring of SEO performance
You should set checkpoints to compare the new site’s performance against the old site’s data that we benchmarked earlier. This can be after a week, a month, 2 months and then quarterly.
Important things to monitor at each stage are:
- Have any new pages been indexed?
- How have search engine rankings changed?
- Have the pages that are ranking changed?
- Have you seen a fall/rise in traffic?
- Are users bouncing more? Are users spending less/more time on the site?
- Have you seen a change in transactions/conversion rate?
- Has average transaction value changed?
- Has your top-performing products changed?
SEO Site Migration: Support for eCommerce
If you need assistance with your eCommerce site migration, our SEO team is well-positioned to support you. We have helped businesses move their sites to a variety of different platforms, ensuring everything is in place to protect their organic traffic.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help you migrate your eCommerce site.
Google has confirmed that Core Web Vitals are becoming a new ranking signal for search results in May 2021 – but how do they define Core Web Vitals and what impact is this going to have on your site’s rankings?
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Google is adding Core Web Vitals to its recommended ‘Page Experience’ guidelines which currently includes:
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines
Core Web Vitals is categorized into three metrics which are defined as –
Largest Contentful Paint:
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric reports the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport.
In simpler terms, the LCP is the time it takes for the majority of content on a web page to load. This metric is important as it analyses what it is like for a user to open your webpage. For the vast majority of users, a page that takes a long time to display its main portion of content is not ideal. Google has recognised this by including this metric as part of its search algorithm.
Google has suggested that an ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster and has specified these guidelines for poor, needs improvement and good speeds. These guidelines will be vital for SEO performance after May 2021, when Google introduces LCP as a direct signal for how it ranks pages in search results.
First Input Delay:
First Input Delay (FID) is the time it takes for a page to become interactive – for instance, this could be choosing an option for a menu, entering text into a field or clicking a link on the site’s navigation.
This metric is important for Google as it looks at real users interacting with their page by measuring how long it takes for them to actually do something on a page. A slow FID suggests that a page is unresponsive and indicates to Google that this page is less usable than others that have a higher FID time.
Google has outlined that sites should aim for a first input delay of 100ms for a good user experience.
Cumulative Layout Shift:
Cumulative Layout Shift:(CLS) is how stable a page is when it loads – essentially how much it moves around on your screen as the page loads.
If elements such as text, images, forms or anything else moves before the page is fully loaded, then this is indicative of a high CLS.
Below is an example of how this could be particularly frustrating for users and why Google views it as an important metric for deciding the best sites.
Google has defined the below criteria for a good CLS score. Google suggests that “To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.”
You can test your site and see how it performs for these3 metrics using the Google Page Speed Insight tool.
How Will Poor Core Web Vitals Affect My Site?
If your site is falling below Google’s recommended scores for each Core Web Vital metric then this suggests to their algorithm that your site takes a long time to display for users, is slow to become interactive and is visually unstable while loading and is therefore less “useful” to users. In May 2021, if your competitors are still outperforming you on these metrics, this is going to have a direct impact on the rankings of your site.
Fortunately, there is enough time to improve your site’s Core Web Vitals before Google launches its algorithm changes and your rankings begin to drop.
eSterling have an expert team of developers, designers and SEO specialists who can help improve your Core Web Vital metrics and prove to Google that your site is worth putting at the top of their search results.
Contact the team at eSterling now on 01217208420 or email email@example.com to find out how we can improve your core web vitals.
Google will roll out free listings on their Google Shopping platform in mid-October. This service allows online eCommerce stores to sell their products directly on Google.
Since re-branding to Google Shopping in 2012, the service has been paid-only. With increasing pressures bearing down upon retail markets, the search engine giant has decided to allow businesses to list their products for free to help them better connect with consumers during this period of uncertainty.
While they previously remained tight-lipped about the launch date outside of the US, Google have now confirmed that free listings will become available for all in mid-October.
This is a massive opportunity for any product-based business. Even before the pandemic hit, hundreds of millions of Shopping searches took place every week. It has been estimated that Google Shopping makes up 85% of paid traffic for online retailers.
Over the COVID-19 crisis, eCommerce has become vital for the success of a large number of businesses. Google Shopping and other digital commerce services have also become key places for businesses looking to sell their wares.
If you already use Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of this change; your listings will automatically show up at no cost.
However, if you haven’t used the platform before, now is the perfect time to make sure your website and products are ready for listing on Google Shopping.
How to make your website ready for Google Shopping:
First of all, your website requires full eCommerce functionality to be eligible for Google Shopping. This essentially means that customers can purchase products on your website.
Your site will need at the very least individual product pages, basket & checkout functionality and an integrated payment gateway. If your site doesn’t have these capabilities, you won’t be able to make use of the free Shopping listings.
If you sell products and you haven’t upgraded your site so customers can purchase directly on-site, now is the perfect time. Alongside the huge benefits of free Shopping listings, digital commerce will prove to be a vital revenue stream for many as more and more shoppers move online.
If you are interested in how you can upgrade your site, get in touch with the team at eSterling who can help make the transition to eCommerce. We have been building eCommerce sites for over 20 years and know how to create sites that makes it easy for customers to purchase the products they need.
Set Up A Merchant Account
As free listings will go live in a few weeks, now is a better time than ever to sign up for a Google Merchant account and get acquainted with how the platform works.
This account is where all your product data will live, alongside where you can where you can set shipping and tax rules. Sign up is easy and can be done here – https://www.google.com/retail/solutions/merchant-center/
When you want to start selling products, you will need to verify ownership of your website. This can be done in a few ways including Google Analytics, Tag Manager or a HTML file upload.
If you need assistance with verification process, eSterling can help guide you through the easiest solution possible
Set Up Product Feed
If you have an eCommerce site all ready to go, you’ll need to generate a product feed that can be sent to Google. A shopping feed is essentially what allows you to tell Google what you are selling and how much to sell it for. This is the heart of any good Shopping campaign, so getting this setup and optimised in advance could be key to success.
Setting up and optimising your google shopping feed will ensure you show up for the right searches, earn clicks and maximise sales. eSterling have helped companies across the UK set up their product feeds and succeed in Google shopping. We handle everything from generation to optimisation, so if you want to outperform your competition when the free listings roll out, contact eSterling now.
Optimise Product Pages
Google Shopping requires landing pages from product ads to show the same product, image and price that appeared on the Shopping listing, as well as the ability to intuitively add to cart and purchase.
A landing page that doesn’t meet Google’s requirement could prevent your products from showing up at all. Now is the perfect time to review all of your product pages to ensure they are eligible to appear before free listings are launched this month.
Google also requires product images to meet certain quality standards, for instance, if your image is too low resolution the product may be prevented from appearing in your campaign at all. Now is a great time to review your product images.
eSterling’s web design team have created hundreds of product pages that meet the standards of Google shopping. If you feel your product pages need reviewing, contact us now and we can go through what you need to do to get them ready to sell for free on Google Shopping this year.
Set Up User Tracking
Ensuring you can accurately track how Google Shopping users are interacting with your site will be vital in ensuring your campaign is performing as best as possible when you start making use of the new free listings.
eSterling’s SEO team can set up Google Analytics and other user tracking options on your site in no time, making the process as simple as possible and ensuring your tracking is ready once the new changes start to roll out.