Meta descriptions are snippets of code that provides information about a webpage, giving a brief description that is often used as part of Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
Despite seeming relatively simple on the surface, meta descriptions has often caused confusion for anyone trying to optimise their site for search engines. This confusion is centred around how much Google pays attention to this data when deciding how to generate its rankings.
During a recent SEO Mythbusting 101 talk, Martin Splitt, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, gave his opinion on what he thought was the top 3 SEO ranking factors you should focus on.
Interestingly, his second most important factor focused on metadata and meta descriptions.
This is surprising because as far back as 2009 Google has explicitly stated that meta descriptions are not used as part of their ranking algorithm.
Placing an emphasis on descriptions over something like backlinks seemingly goes against previous Google statements. Does this mean that Google has suddenly started including metadata as part of their ranking factors?
John Mueller, the senior trends analyst at Google has since cleared up some of the confusion surrounding this statement.
He clarified the statement by saying “I wouldn’t necessarily say that every website only needs to focus on those factors and then everything will be perfect”
“It’s rather more that these are things that we’ve commonly seen being missed when designing and developing websites.”
This suggests that Martin wasn’t giving an exact list of ranking factors during the talk, but rather that he was speaking to what developers and webmasters usually overlook when optimising a site.
It is most likely that meta descriptions do not directly impact rankings in the way that quality content or backlinks do, but are still vital to success within SEO despite being overlooked.
Meta descriptions are the first impression a user will have of your site when appearing on a SERP. If your meta descriptions are relevant to their search, effectively summarise what the page is about, have a clear Call To Action and are compelling enough to separate your site from the competition, the amount of people clicking through to your site.will increase.
Essentially, meta descriptions won’t directly improve your rankings, but the better they are the better your click through ratio will be. For this reason, it is obvious that meta descriptions are very important in terms of SEO, but still aren’t necessarily used as a ranking factor.
As part of eSterling’s SEO services, we write effective meta descriptions, ensuring your site will get the most traffic possible from search engines.
If your site is struggling to perform in Google, get in contact with eSterling now to find out how our SEO team can help.
So off I popped on the train to Brighton SEO this April, it was my first time attending and I really loved it. It is always nice to mingle with like-minded individuals that work in similar environments and actually share ideas, tips and of course brush up on my networking skills.
So one of the first talks I went to was “8 Ways to Increase your Ecommerce Conversion Rate” I have a long list of clients who our team constantly talk to about ways to improve their conversion rates & thought this would be a useful session.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how amazing our SEO team is or how much traffic our clients website gets… if that traffic doesn’t convert into sales then we and our clients are wasting time and money.
Our team could go through so many ways that you could increase your ecommerce conversion rate, but I wanted to focus on a few from the session that I feel are fundamental to even having a shot at increasing conversions.
Personalise your homepage BUT not too personalised
For example, display products related to a user’s previous purchase history or/and displaying the users “Current Cart Contents”
Promote alternative and compatible products on the product pages = Cross Selling
So for example if a user is looking for a pink dress it is best practice that it is visible on the page alternative pink dresses or dresses of a similar style. If I am being honest the amount of times I shop online and end up buying something from the “You May Also Like” options is countless…
My credit card statements are proof!
Using good quality and multiple product images
If I could sing this from the rooftops I would! It goes without saying a good visual is one of the biggest selling factors.
“56% of users interact with product images before any other element on the page”
Ecommerce sites ideally need an image that shows the product in scale so that users can gauge how big the product is without having to search for its sizing and potentially leaving your site and purchasing off a competitors.
Also an image that showcases the products’ features to help sell, if possible a “lifestyle” image and one of any accessories included.
Display user reviews
“95% of users rely on reviews to evaluate a product, so reviews are clearly an extremely important aspect of the buyer journey.”
The problem here is consumers love reading reviews but if it’s too much hassle to leave a review they won’t even if the service/product is the best thing since sliced bread.
Which means you need to make it as easy as possible for a user to leave a review.
- Don’t make users set up an account in order to leave a review. Use emails to authenticate purchases.
- Don’t make users provide unnecessary personal info, again you only need their email and they should be able to leave a review anonymously.
- Finally, don’t forget to remind users to leave a review, send a follow up email and incentives to encourage users, BUT don’t spam it.
Display shipping costs on product and cart pages
“Users hate paying for delivery and 55% of users will abandon checkout due to high delivery costs.”
If you can’t offer free delivery, then you should be as transparent as possible and display the delivery cost at every stage. There is nothing worse than shopping online, adding everything to the cart…going through adding all your personal information, delivery/billing addresses and then right at the final hurdle…getting a postage fee…your put off and then abandon the checkout.
Always offer a guest checkout & simplify your checkout process as much as possible
Things like, minimise forms & automatically applying the shopping address as the billing address…these quick wins all push the user to hit the “PAY NOW” button that little bit faster.
Promote trust using icons, badges and text
“17% of users will abandon their cart because they don’t trust the website with their credit card details.”
So we all should know now…and our SEO team constantly reminds clients the need for an SSL on websites, number 1 rule!
Some other ideas to promote trust would be adding security icons to your checkout pages, such as a padlock icon and using reassuring copy, such as ‘secure card payment’ or ‘checkout securely’.
eSterling recently joined some of the best Digital Marketers at the the UK’s largest search marketing conference, BrightonSEO.
During the huge one-day event, we managed to attend a number of interesting talks encompassing everything from eCommerce SEO, Client Success and even a Q&A with John Mueller from Google. With a host of guest speakers from every corner of the industry, it was impossible to fit everything in but we have recapped our day below.
For the first session we went to a session that covered site speed, something that anyone reading this has probably heard a lot about of the past 18 months. Here we saw some great talks, the first from Rachel Costello from Deepcrawl who spoke about “how we can meet user’s high expectations”.
Secondly we heard from Polly Pospelova on “how to get a 100% lighthouse performance score” again this is something that people will be familiar with. As we have done numerous times I’m sure you’ve all been to Google’s Page speed insights tool and wondered how to get that wonderful score of 100. Here Polly shared the steps and processes used to get the magical 100 out of 100, we’ll definitely be using some of these tips on our sites in the near future.
Finally Chris Simmance talked about “how to trim js, css & external stuff to slim down & speed up your site”. He talked about how we can identify and trim down assets on individual pages that can help us reduce code bloat and improve site speed and performance on a page by page basis. You can view his slides here.
One of our SEO executives attended Search Presence Intelligence – Where Search Meets Business Intelligence by Stephan Bajaio – this was on how SEO can help other departments reach their goals. Stephan gave interesting examples with HR and Product Development.
For Product Development the example was about naming products. Through experience out SEO team will know how to create engaging and keyword rich product titles for more successful SEO campaigns.
This session also included, Why UX (User Experience) is SEO’s best friend by Luke Hay and Michelle Wilding-Baker this talk focused on how beneficial UX is that matches a user’s intent and how that can be determined by looking at search results.
The benefits of pulling together information that can then be used to decide on what elements a page should have, such as having an uncluttered, fast and mobile friendly website, something that we incorporate within all our projects.
The afternoon sessions were about link building and clever ways to get other websites to link back to your website and increase your site authority. The SEO Manager from Screaming Frog talked about ‘linkbait’ and how to create engaging and funny content to attract attention and hyperlinks to your site.
What you need is a good idea, something our SEO team works together with our clients to produce.
The second speaker gave some tips on how to build links for our clients by applying automated and personalised methods. He mentioned some seo analysis and link building tools and provide us with advice on how to utilise them in our link building strategies.
The last one focused on integrating the gamification technique to the SEO strategy. An effective way to build links at a rapid pace by creating and launching a game that everyone would talk about and would love to share.
We then attended a session on Paid Search.
First speaker focused on how algorithms and automation systems can help us get a better idea of the overall ads performance and how to use data to get insights and knowledge that could determine business decisions and strategy.
The second one was about Local PPC. Here we picked up useful tips on how to build your local ppc strategy for location-based companies and make the most of your budget, such as location settings- radius, locations extensions, bidding, and keywords with geo- location.
The last session focused on other advertising platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, or display, they discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and the importance of retargeting.
This is something that is extremely relevant considering the continued increase in users on social media platforms.
For our final session, the focus was on SUCCESS. This talk was about how we can use data to keep our customers happy by Eli Zheleva. The discussion was about how we can better understand our client’s demographics, goals and provide reports that show a true representation of targets.
The core points in relation to our customers’ needs that we picked up from this talk were:
- Revenue is great. Profit is greater!
- Listen to our customers
- Know what our customers think about our service & how we can improve
- Get reviews but not to be scared of negative reviews!
- Keep an eye on competitors
- Focus on ROR
Over the next few weeks we will be putting together more in depth posts covering all of the talks we attended and what tips you can do to improve your website and SEO results.
In the meantime, if you need and help/information about our Digital Marketing services – SEO, PPC and Social Media, get in touch with us!
User reviews are integral to online success in 2019 – the power of one customers’ thoughts should not be underestimated in its influence on other potential customer.
A Google My Business profile is one of the main ways to gather reviews for your business. Just accumulating genuine reviews through Google is a great way to boost business in itself, but prominently displaying these on your website is even more important.
According to data from BrightLocal, 86% of consumers read reviews for local business (increasing to 95% for people ages 18 – 34). Consumers are always seeking out social proof to ensure they are making the right decision, If reviews from a trusted source like Google are prominently displayed on your website, this social proof is right in front of them, decreasing the chance that they will look elsewhere.
Google reviews also help build trust more than a traditional testimonials page. Google recommends that all the site owner should have control over all main content except for user generated content such as reviews and comments. Testimonial pages with static reviews are controlled by the site owner, and don’t guarantees legitimacy. Reviews that come directly from Google cements trust in users that reviews are legitimate.
This also has SEO benefits for your website. Review signals are a big ranking factor for Google’s “local pack” – the listings that appear underneath the map on local searches. More reviews mean you will appear higher in these local search results, putting you in front of more customers in your local area. Onsite reviews from third parties also help boost page quality, which can have a positive impact on search rankings and traffic.
Perhaps most importantly, if your website has eCommerce features onsite reviews can help boost conversions massively. Social proof is one of the biggest deciding factors to whether or not a customer chooses to buy a product.
If you don’t have Google Reviews on your site currently, eSterling can help.
Our team of web designers can install a Google review widget onto your site that will fit perfectly into your existing website design.
Contact us now for more information on our Google review widget.
Online shopping has become a central part of daily life for millions across the UK. With internet speeds improving, fast mobile data coverage extending across the country and websites becoming more feature-rich, eCommerce websites are quickly taking up more and more market share from traditional brick and mortar retail stores
According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2018 one in every five pounds spent in UK retailers was online.
With so many people now going online to purchase goods, if your eCommerce website isn’t up to scratch, you could be missing out on a lot of business.
To help improve your eCommerce site, eSterling have put together four steps to get your eCommerce performing better and generating more sales.
Create an Easy User Journey
Customers are quickly put off by complex, confusing sites that lead them on a wild chase to find what they want. Sites that have an easy to follow structure, clearly displayed information and simple payment and checkout process are much more likely to convert site visits into sales.
Your products should be grouped into easily identifiable categories and subcategories with a simple navigation that allows your users to quickly see the next steps they can take. Design and functionality should blend together to promote uncomplicated navigation through the site.
Users also expect clearly displayed pricing, shipping cost, estimated delivery dates and returns, so all eCommerce sites need to make this information easy to find. To further support customers, offer uncomplicated ways for them to contact you if they can’t find the information they need.
Multiple steps in the checkout process will cause users to abandon their purchases. Anything that can be done to simplify this process down as much as possible will reduce cart abandonment and ensure that your site is converting to its full potential.
If you need help creating a seamless user journey, eSterling have over 40 years of combined commercial experience in web design – our team of designers & developers are experts at combining stunning aesthetics with simple usability, allowing users to navigate eCommerce sites effortlessly.
Focus on Product Pages
When eCommerce sites have hundreds of products for sale, optimising each and every product pages can often seem like a gargantuan task. However, neglecting this will damage your chances to succeed in the online marketplace.
Creating successful product pages is centered around communicating as much information as you can about the product in the most concise way possible.
Product descriptions should be clear and engaging, including what your product is, what it does and why it’s better than your competitor’s products. Any important info about product specifications should also be prominent so customers will feel confident they have found the right product for them.
Good photography is equally important – when searching the internet for goods, consumers will often scan the page rather than take in every detail. The first thing customers will see is the product image so high quality and correctly sized imagery is imperative to converting more sales.
Track Site Performance
Understanding exactly how your site is performing is key to success in the eCommerce world.
Tracking site performance and looking at how customers interact with your site will allow you to see exactly what you need to do to improve your eCommerce experience.
For instance, if your data is showing that users are adding items to the cart but abandoning the process during checkout, you know you need to look at how you can improve your checkout process.
Installing eCommerce tracking allows for lots of useful insights such as this, and will become one of the most important tools at your disposal.
eSterling offer eCommerce tracking with our eCommerce SEO, which allows you to accurately track how customers interact with your site.
Trust is one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding if you buy a product online. If a customer doesn’t trust a site with their payment details, there is very little chance they will make a purchase.
A professional site design is one step toward building trust with potential customers, but this shouldn’t be the only thing you do.
Getting onsite customer reviews is a great way to build trust – social proof is one of the most important aspects of how people to decide to interact with websites. If it is prominently displayed that other people have had a good experience with buying from your site, it will be much more likely thta others will make a purchase.
Making sure your site has an SSL certificate is equally important to ensuring users trust your store. Google Chrome has now started marking sites without HTTPS encryption as “Not Secure” in the address bar. With online safety being at the forefront of people’s minds, seeing a warning like this could prevent many users from trusting your eCommerce shop.
eSterling offer Google review widgets for your site, prominently displaying your Google reviews on your site’s homepage, as well as SSL certificates with out hosting packages. Get in touch now for more information
In July, Google will change how your website is shown on Chrome if you don’t have an SSL certificate installed.
Google have announced that to coincide with the release of Chrome 68, they will now mark all non-HTTPS site as not secure. The image below shows how this change will appear to users:
This may impact how trustworthy your site appears to users, which in turn could affect bounce rates, conversion rates and sales. Building trust is a vital component for a successful website. Chrome is the most popular browser, with over 44% market share, so if you don’t have an SSL installed on your site, it could appear as not secure for a large number of visitors.
Most sites are now seeing the benefits of HTTPS – with Google reporting that 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default
If your site doesn’t have an SSL installed, don’t panic, eSterling can help!
Contact us now for more information on how we can make sure your site secure and provide you with an SSL certificate.
Google will soon be transitioning to a new mobile-first index – resulting in some of the biggest changes to the search engine in recent years.
What is the mobile-first index?
A mobile-first index will mean that Google will now rank websites based on the mobile version of the site, instead of looking at the desktop version first, which was how sites have been indexed previously.
Essentially, the mobile version of your site will now be the primary version of your website in the eyes of Google.
Why is Google making this change?
The way people access the internet has changed significantly over the past few years.
In 2015, users searching on the internet on mobile devices surpassed users searching on desktop computers. Currently, 3 out of every 5 searches happens a mobile.
To reflect this change, Google are updating their search engine to focus on delivering sites that offer the best possible experience on a mobile device.
Google recently released a blog post informing webmasters on how they can get ready for the mobile first index: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/12/getting-your-site-ready-for-mobile.html
What does this mean for how sites are ranked?
In short, if you do not have a site that offers a mobile friendly experience your rankings in Google could be negatively impacted, whilst a site with a better mobile experience could potentially climb ahead of you in the rankings.
With Google dominating the web in terms of referral traffic, a drop in rankings could see you losing a lot of potential customers.
How do I make sure my rankings aren’t affected?
If your site is responsive or you have a mobile and desktop version of your site with identical content, you shouldn’t see any negative impact on your position in search engines.
Although, even with a responsive site, you will need to ensure that mobile page speed and load times are prioritised and that images and other dynamic elements are optimised correctly for the best possible mobile experience to guarantee that you can stay ahead of the competition.
If you have a separate mobile site, you will need to make sure that all content matches up with your desktop, as you will be penalised if your mobile site is lacking in content.
This update is likely to happen within the next few months, so it is vital that businesses prepare now if they don’t want to see their rankings fall.
How can eSterling help?
Here at eSterling we can carry out a full website audit which will tell you if your website is mobile friendly and ready for the mobile first index. If your website doesn’t currently offer a great mobile experience, we can help you build a responsive site that will work and look great on all smartphones, tablets & desktop computers and provide your users with a great experience.
Get in touch with us today on 0121 766 8087 to discuss how we can help your website and stop you from loosing out when Google’s Mobile First Index goes live.
Achieving Google Partner status means that eSterling Ltd has demonstrated Adwords expertise; met Adwords spend requirements, and demonstrated sustained revenue growth for our clients, as well as understands best practices.
What does it means when a marketing agency advertises that it is a certified Google Partner?
When you see that badge on agencies website, it tells you a lot about the business.
Google Partner status isn’t just handed out… that badge has to be earned, and we have worked for ours!
Not only must our employees take various courses and pass a few tests to gain individual qualification, eSterling Ltd itself has proven that it can meet Google’s strict requirements to become a partner.
As eSterling is a Google Partner Agency, what are the benefits for our clients?
- Google Partners provide features and tools designed to help us grow your campaigns.
- We are up to date and constantly on the ball, through the certification process, our team is provided with training directly from Google.
- Being certified demonstrates the excellent service we provide to our clients.
- We can demonstrate we work along side Google and that Google trusts us!
Over the years, the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have changed a lot. Features like news, images, videos and the Knowledge Graph have impacted the display, sorting and order of SERPs, dramatically impacting organic listings.
Recently, Google decided that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right-hand side of search results for desktop users and up to 4 paid search results will appear at the top of the page.
Paid search ads that fall below the 4th rank will appear at the bottom of the page, which has limited visibility to end users, for a total of 7 ads per page max.
This is a big change, but how does it really impact organic search?
Like many companies, Google has seen mobile traffic grow at an accelerated pace over the past two years. This new layout makes the desktop experience very similar to the current mobile SERP. It will allow Google to provide more relevant results for end users and also provide better performance for advertisers
The key here is the fact that Google is very good at understanding intent. Google can distinguish a transactional query from an informational query.
How does this impact organic search?
Now that paid search ads are taking up more organic space, click-through rates for organic search listings, especially in the first two positions will probably decrease because the organic results have been pushed farther down the page.
Since the organic search results will be relegated to further down the list, this will cause more advertisers to get more visibility from the top paid search ads, but it comes at a high cost.
If brands really want to get the most out of search, they will need to create an integrated organic and paid search strategy with focus on top rankings and paid ads to maintain visibility and be in front of their target audiences.
With more paid listings appearing you will need to focus paid landing pages towards searchers in the buying/decision-making stages, whereas your organic landing pages should be better positioned (and possibly expanded) to gain visitors in the research/tought stages.
In summary, it will be more important to rank in the first two organic positions to capture the most clicks and visibility from organic search.
Since the organic results are getting pushed further down the page, both paid and SEO must work together to gain the best results.
The SERPs will continue to evolve as Google looks for new and innovative ways to make the desktop experience similar to the current mobile SERP and provide the most relevant results for end users.
Agencies and brands must adapt and put together results-driven strategies and tactics using both paid and organic search together to maximize ROI, capture more conversions and provide end users with relevant content in their moment of need.
What is an SSL used for?
The primary purpose of an SSL is to keep the information between a website and its users encrypted so only they are able to read it. This is important because when information is transmitted across the internet it passes through many different computers all of which can read and record it.
That means that any computer between you and the website can read credit card details, usernames and passwords. When an SSL is this information becomes unreadable to those computers.
In addition to this encryption an SSL also provides authentication ensuring that a user is sending information to your website and not that belonging to a criminal. Again, because information passes through many computers without an SSL any of these could impersonate your website and trick users into sending their personal details.
Why is an SSL needed on my website?
Ecommerce sites are required to transmit and receive sensitive information including credit card and contact details. Most websites provide administrators with the ability to edit content through a log-in area that requires a username and password to access. In both cases if an SSL is not used that information can be stolen by a third party and be used for criminal means.
Do I need an SSL if I don’t run an ecommerce shop?
There are numerous reasons why an SSL is beneficial even if your website is not ecommerce and does not have a log-in/administration area.
Google stated in 2015 that they are using the presence of an SSL on a website as a ranking signal. That is, a website with an SSL will rank above a website without all things being equal. Continuing into 2016 Google will place more and more emphasis on an SSL as a factor. Furthermore Google has plans to alter its chrome browser to show websites without an SSL as “insecure” which could serve as scare tactics pushing potential customers to a rival.
Integrity of the content you are serving on your website
Once you secure your website with an SSL certificate a third party cannot alter the content that is going to be received by the end user. Here you can assure your website visitors that the content they are viewing is the same as you are publishing. Without an SSL a third party can alter the content of your website before it is received by adding adverts or more dangerous content such as viruses.
Authentication of the Website and its content
An SSL verifies that you are who you say you are. A website secured by an SSL and verified by certificate authority means your customer can easily recognize that the information is genuine and not from someone else. This is especially important if your website contains content such as technical specifications, health, finance or other information of this nature.
A signal of trust to the user
Web browsers give a visual indicator when a site uses an SSL. While they may not be aware of exactly how it functions users know that the padlock logo that appears on an SSL enabled site is “good”. The use of an SSL tells users of your website that you consider their security and privacy to be important.
For further information please contact Wave White on 0121 766 8087 or email email@example.com