We are a huge fan of SE Ranking and the suite of search engine optimisation tools that they offer and so when they recently announced the launch of their On Page SEO Checker tool, we were super excited to take a first look at it.
But what is On Page SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is basically the techniques used to try to push your website towards the top of search engine rankings organically. There are a mixture of approaches that SEO professionals take, but the starting point for all of them is On Page SEO. Effectively, a search engine specialist (or your website designer) will assign keywords to the individual pages on your website, and then look to optimise the content for those pages for the relevant keywords. So, for example, if you were a florist and had a page for "Roses" - you would want to make sure that page was talking about roses in all the right places. You wouldn't want an important part of that page talking about 'Daffodils' (if you wanted to give the roses page the best chance of performing well in roses searches).
How do I know if my page is optimised?
Once you've figured out what pages you want targeted to what keywords, it's super important to gather some metrics on how well that particular page performs for the keyword you are targeting. An SEO professional could probably eye ball your page and get something of an understanding of how well optimised it is (i.e. 'it's got the right word in the title, and the right phrases scattered throughout the text'), but to get a real understanding of where the site sits you would want to run the site through an onpage search checklist or tool. That's where SE Ranking's On Page SEO Checker comes in handy.
What does the On Page SEO Checker do?
SE Ranking's tool basically takes all the technical elements that go into on-page optimisation and distils it down into an easily digestable report for you. It looks at whether the page is saying the right things in the right places throughout, whether the page has any technical, speed or 'health' issues, and it gives you a clear idea of how to best optimise the page. You'll be greeted with a 'page quality' score, setting out what areas are strong on the page, what are weak - and through the report you'll be able to make changes to the site to see that score improve. You'll also be able to get a gauge on how your top competitors have set their best pages up as well - so you can understand where they are performing well, and where you might be able to improve. It does all of that with you just entering the page url that you want to analyse.
Will this get me to the top of the search rankings?
When we look at any tool, we are looking at it's real value to our clients. In our opinion, on-site search engine optimisation is the most important thing you can be doing for your website to improve it's chance of ranking high with Google in particular. Search rank algorithms are constantly evolving and as they do, they are understanding the content and substance on websites more and more clearly. The better optimised you have your pages to keywords and phrases in your industry, the more likely search engines will push your site to the top of the rankings, and the more traffic you should start to receive on your site. There are no silver bullets when it comes to search engine rankings - but knowledge is power, and SE Ranking has given us a fantastic tool for broadening the understanding we have of our sites.
543 uses SE Ranking for the SEO scanning and reporting we do for our clients. Feel free to click the link below to check out the tool for yourself, or get in touch with us if you'd like an experienced SEO specialist to help with your search presence.
Getting on top with paid Google advertising
A great website can be an amazing sales tool if you get your potential customers onto it. The early dilemma for any new business though is how to get those eyeballs onto the website.
When you put your new website live, it's unlikely that you'll appear high in natural search results for a number of months. We've covered this off in our Basics of Search Engine Optimisation article earlier, but Google needs to find your site, crawl it and then decide it's worth putting ahead of every other site in your topic area when it first goes live. That leaves a period where the quickest way to get clicks through Google is going to be through Google advertising, so it's important to get a basic overview of what Google Ads are, and how they may work for you and your website.
What are Google Ads?
Google Ads are advertising slots that let you 'pay-per-click' through to your website. Google Ads are seen within search results (typically at the very top of the page and the very bottom of the page), as well as through the "Google Display Network". This Display Network includes YouTube and other sites that have signed up with Google to allow ads to be shown on their site. This means that depending how you set your ad up, you can have it shown right across the internet to a range of users.
How do Google Ads work?
The simplest way to think about the Google Ads system is to think about it as an auction. Every time someone searches for a particular keyword (or goes to a particularly themed site in the case of Display Network Ads), every company that is paying for Google Ads in that topic area automatically "asks" for it's ad to be shown. Google then looks at the text of the ad, the website the ad links to, the term being searched and the budget, then accepts a 'bid' to show the advert in the ad slot. In theory, this means that the most relevant ad with the highest bid is shown - meaning it's a really great way to get in front of the exact audience you want to be advertising to.
Can I run Google Ads myself?
In short - absolutely - but with anything 'DIY" you may not get the most out of your ad spend if you don't know what you are doing. Some of Google Ads' tools can be very technical, so if you are pushed for time and aren't able to delve really deep into how the system works, you run the risk of your ads being shown in irrelevant search results, or to users who ultimately aren't a great match for your products or services. Google's solution for small businesses that do want to run ads themselves is "Smart Campaigns". With a Smart Campaign you'll be able to provide Google with basic information about your business (location, general subject area etc), write up some ad text, and then press play. From here, Google's AI will automatically decide what search terms or Display Network locations to run the ads in with very little input from you. It's a good way to test the waters, but we would recommend you regularly check the keyword list the Smart Campaign is running off and exclude any irrelevant keywords. The Smart Campaigns can definitely end up running your ads in places that don't make too much sense, and you run the risk of paying for alot of Display Network ads showing (rather than the more effective ads shown directly into search results). Smart Campaigns definitely aren't the 'best' way to use Google Ads, but they are an option if you want to go for a DIY option without getting to heavily into learning the Google Ads system.
What if I want to get technical?
If you are technically minded and love to get down into the details, then there are tons of fantastic resources for learning how to run top notch Google Ads campaigns. Google itself has free Ads courses you are able to do in your own time and you'll find lots of paid courses you can hook into that will start delving into things like keyword research, ad creation and ad optimisation. The courses tend to have varying degrees of difficulty, so you are able to find something that suits how deep you want to learn the AdWords systems.
Should I use Google Ads and when should I use them?
This is one question we end up getting asked alot by our clients. It's very tempting to think of Google search as a free tool that you should be able to perform well in without paying anything to Google for. That of course is true, and a well optimised website will do well in search results, however, Google Ads offer a hugely affordable form of marketing that is really targeted to your industry, so there are a few scenarios we think they are especially useful:
The big take away
Knowledge is power when it comes to anything online, so the more you understand how a tool works, the better decisions you'll be able to make about it. For Google Ads - anyone can create and run a campaign, but how effectively that campaign runs will come down to how well it is setup, and how well it is monitored/optimised over time.
Setup and targeted well, a Google Ads campaign can be hugely beneficial - but a poorly setup campaign can mean potential sales 'left on the table'. Using Google Ads is definitely something we recommend you consider, but ultimately what works best for your company will come down to your industry, who your clients/customers are, and how your budget might most effectively be spent.
As always, if you have any questions about anything in this blog post, or if we can help you out with your Google Advertising, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
How to update business hours on Google My Business for the Christmas Holidays
With the Christmas holidays and possible office shutdowns just around the corner, it's very easy to go into wind-down mode early and let things slip through the break. Luckily, your website and online presence give you an easy opportunity to keep customers informed and business ticking away with very little effort on your end.
What are Google's Core Web Vitals impact on SEO - and what do they mean for your website?
Earlier this year Google began rolling out an update to it's algorithm with a focus on "Core Web Vitals" as a centrepiece to how it evaluates a website. It's a big shift in focus and something every website owner should have on their radar.
The big question becomes what are Google's Core Web Vitals, and how do they relate to your website? Google has basically identified a group of three metrics which all contribute to a better user experience for people on your site. They are trying to make sure website owners present a site that is easy to use and quick to load, and will start rewarding sites more that tick these 'user experience' boxes. This is definitely a little bit of an advancement which coincides with Google's algorithm getting smarter and becoming more 'human like' in it's decision making. We have seen that shift over the years from 'words' being the main focus, to technical features (security, mobile friendliness etc), to now a focus that is more about the usability of a site for the end user. Of course, the algorithm is still a machine at the end of the day, so Google has needed to distil these user experience attributes down to some key technical 'metrics' - loading, interactivity and the visual stability of a site.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - make sure your site loads fast
In recent times, Google has been pointing more and more towards the speed of a site being a real priority. They've provided their PageSpeed Insight tool for a while now, and first on the list of the Core Web Vitals is the "Largest Contentful Paint" metric. The LCP is basically how quickly your site/any particular page on the site loads on average. Google takes it one step further though and looks at how quickly the most meaningful content on any given page loads. So, if you have a product page from your online store, Google may look at how quickly the image of that product loads, whereas on a text driven page, it may be how quickly the first heading takes to pop onto screen. As with anything Google, there will be some experimenting and testing being done by search engine specialists around the globe, but as a rule of thumb we should all be looking to having streamlined and fast websites for both our users to enjoy, and for Google to rank highly.
First Input Delay (FID) - how quickly can you click
With the First Input Delay metric, Google's insatiable hunger for speed continues. The algorithm will be looking at how quickly you are able to click a link or button on a site, and how quickly the site reacts to that. Again, this is down to Google wanting developers to really think hard about how they code and setup a site. They want us to get rid of any excess code on the site, and make sure the code that is used is nice and efficient. As a website owner, the trick here is probably just thinking twice about extra bells and whistles on your site and whether they actually add to your messaging and what you are trying to achieve. For designers and developers, it's about taking the clients requirements and being very thoughtful about how they are implemented.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - don't throw me all over your page
Have you ever been on a website, had something load in front of you that you want to click, and then had that item shift off the page as you've gone to click it? That's the problem Google is trying to avoid with their "Cumulative Layout Shift" metric. They want a page and website to be stable as it loads for it's users, so along with having content load quickly, they want it to load where it should. Hopefully, this should remove the days of clicking the wrong link because the site has loaded slowly and shunted the content you were interested in down the page as an image above it loads.
The big takeaway - happy user, happy Google
If there is one huge takeaway from this Core Web Vitals update, it's that Google is continuing to push it's algorithms and search engine results to be focussed on user experience. We've been saying for a long time now that if you focus on making a really good, informative website for your customers and clients, then you're on the right search engine optimisation path. These big changes are also just a good time to re-evaluate your site and see whether there is anything that you can improve with your online presence. For 543, we're never static - and in the last couple of months have made sure we have moved the majority of our new website builds to a content management system that is leading the way in Core Web Vital results. Our focus is always staying ahead of the curve - and if that means adapting for our clients, we need to be able to do that quickly.
If you're not sure about how your site might fair under these new Google metrics, or are after a New Zealand SEO services, don't hesitate to contact us and we can give your site a quick look over and chat it through.
If you're interested in finding out more about Google's Core Web Vitals - below are a few more good reads from other experts in the field:
Getting online? Figure out the first step.
If you're new to creating a website, the number of different platforms and ways to get online can be a bit overwhelming. The first step you need to take is understanding what things you want your website to be able to do.
When we have new clients come to us to build their website for them, it's very common for our first question to be "what do you want your website to be able to do". It's an incredibly simple question, but one that a surprising number of people haven't really thought about. As a basic rule, what you want your website to actually be able to do (the functionality) will dictate what website platform you should choose to begin with. For example, if you are just wanting a straight forward informational website that you'll be able to edit really easily, then something like Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace will fit the brief. They offer drag and drop website editors that are specifically targeted at the average consumer being able to run their own website. However, when you start to add any sort of complexity to a site (think membership systems, databases, or to a lesser extent e-commerce), then you will need to start looking at website platforms with more flexibility (with WordPress being the initial starting point for alot of people). A few things we'd recommend considering:
Once you've chosen a website platform (or content management system) to move ahead with, the design process generally ends up involving two major stages. First up, you'll need to pick the styling or 'theme' of your website. This styling will flow through all your pages, so it pays to take a little bit of time up front getting that right. If you are a newbie, we'd recommend keeping it simple. Pick out a base colour (usually white, sometimes black), and then a max of two colours from your branding and stick with those. Keep the number of fonts to a minimum (two is safe - one for headings and one for the body text), and if you are playing it safe, you can get away with just one main focal image on each page. If you follow those basic guidelines, you'll at least be starting down a middle ground track and shouldn't scare customers away.
With the design and theming chosen, you'll then need to start adding your content to the site. Think about using headings that make sense for both the readers and search engines, and try to sit in the shoes of your customers and clients. Figure out what your end goal is, and make it as easy as possible for your customers or clients to get to that point. Use call to action buttons regularly throughout the site, so people are only ever one or two clicks away from a conversion for you. If you have a more complicated site, or specific functionality, make sure you do some decent research about any third party plugins you use on the site. We always suggest keeping plugins to a minimum - as it's just less things to worry about in terms of security and ongoing maintenance.
Ultimately, website design falls into one of those categories of things you could do yourself, but isn't necessarily completely straight forward. Like most things in life, an expert or specialist in the field will tend to be able to provide you a higher quality result with more conversion potential, and they'll probably do it quicker as well. The investment you make in getting a website designer to do the work ultimately saves you time that you can put into other parts of the business. We love seeing our clients having a crack at the online side of things themselves (and everything we build let's them take over the running of the site), but also think that it's worth having a chat with us, or another expert, before diving into a build yourself. We're always excited to have a no obligations chat with anyone, and will steer you in the right direction regardless of whether you use us, another designer, or build a site yourself, so don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.
Understand the basic hierarchy and elements of your online profile
When we first jumped into the website design world, the first learning curve for us is the first learning curve most business owners take as well. You want a website address, a website, and email account - but don't really understand how they interact.
At 543 we're all about giving our clients as much knowledge or upskilling as they want when it comes to the online world, and one of the most important things to understand is that your domain, website hosting and email hosting are separate things, that can be held in separate places. We like to use the analogy of a house to explain it:
Sometimes it's easy for those of us in the online space to assume that everyone knows the basics of how the web works, but it can be a pretty foreign place to most. Don't ever feel like there is a dumb question. In fact, we encourage you to contact us and drill us about anything online, we're more than happy to chat.
You've got an idea - but where to from here?
As a branding and website design company, we have seen a lot of businesses start from scratch, and can give a unique view on what works and what doesn't.
If you're reading this blog post, you're likely to be sitting on a gem of an idea that you'd like to turn into a fully fledged, income earning business. In some ways that initial idea can be both the easiest and hardest part of the journey - with something like 20% of all businesses failing within the first 2 years of launch. Below we've laid out a few basic lessons we've learnt through both our own, and our client's, experiences.
Starting a business is a daunting and exciting journey. For most, there will be alot of hard work and toil that goes into the early years, but if you do push through and grow your business, the long term rewards and sense of satisfaction are huge. Hopefully the above gets you on the right track in terms of a thought process and if you are in the early stages of getting started, don't hesitate to contact us for a no obligations chat. We're more than happy to talk you through specific experiences we've had with other clients in your industry, and can provide you with helpful insights that may save you a buck in the long run. We love it when our clients succeed, and there is nothing better than being there from day one.
Top Napier Website Companies
If you are looking for a website designer in Napier, you are spoilt for choice with options when it comes to both quality and budget.
As a proudly Hawke's Bay based company, we are obviously pretty bias when it comes to the region, but having worked with alot of the website designers in the Bay, we are constantly impressed with the quality of business that New Zealand's regions continue to produce. Our local design industry services the whole country now - helping businesses of every size get online whether they be in Auckland, Wellington, Amberley or Whangarei. With that in mind, it came as no surprise to us to see Top Reviews post their article on the best website designers in Napier recently. It's great to be included in this list, but it's also pleasing to see some of our other favourite local web design companies getting recognition as well and just a reminder of the quality of local talent spread throughout this fantastic country.
So whether you are a local Napier business looking to improve their online presence, or a company from farther afield in New Zealand after top quality design - our little tech forward part of the world has something to offer everyone. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have a question about websites or anything else online.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
If you have a website or are looking to get one soon, one of the first little acronyms that you'll hear thrown around is "SEO". But what is SEO and how much do you need to invest in it? Why should you care, and can you do something about it yourself? In this first instalment of 'The Basics', we dial back the technical terms and get to the guts of what SEO means to you and your business.
SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - what's that?
SEO stands for 'Search Engine Optimisation'. It's a broad term that covers a range of techniques used to try to get your site performing the best it possibly can in search engine results naturally. So rather than paying Google to run your ad at the top of the search rankings, the goal of an SEO plan is to bring your website up to the top of the rankings without needing to pay Google.
But how does it work?
Imagine reading through every website on the internet and then trying to put them into topic categories, regions, and in order of which site is the best match for a topic and a region. That's effectively what Google's algorithm is doing every day and is a great starting point for understanding how SEO and search engines work. Unfortunately, Google can't watch through the videos on a website, or see a picture and know what's in it (although we're sure that may change in the future!). What Google can look at is what is written on the site and where it is written. That's the starting point for SEO - the 'on-site' factors which tell Google what your site is about. The search engines also then look at how the site relates to the rest of the internet (eg what other websites are talking about a site), and that makes up the second part of the equation - the 'off-site' factors. A good SEO plan is all about getting those on-site factors and off-site factors targeting the topics and search terms you want your website to show near the top of the rankings in.
So what are the on-site factors I need to worry about?
Exactly what the Google algorithm looks at in ranking a website isn't absolutely set in stone. As the algorithm evolves, different elements of your site will be looked at differently by Google, but there are some 'rules of thumb' you can follow.
And what about off-site factors?
The off site part of SEO can be a little trickier to get your head around. While looking at all the sites on the internet, Google is also following the links between sites to try to better understand what they are about. For example, if your local Rugby Club has a website and it links off to the local Netball team website, Google will be looking at that link to identify if they are related in some way. On top of that, the search engine knows that if a high ranking, high quality website is linking off to another site, then that other site should be looked at in higher regard. Equally, if a low ranking, low quality site links off to another site, then that negative may rub off on that site as well. So where possible, if you can have your site featured in articles on well regarded sites that are about the same topic area that you work in, you'll see benefit.
Also think about sharing your website links through your social media channel's regularly. Google has an uncanny knack of identifying popularity on the internet in general, so if your social media channels flourish (and you link back to your website), then expect good things!
Do I need to worry about anything?
As you do a search for SEO you might see the terms 'white hat' and 'black hat' SEO pop up. These terms basically allude to there being good ways and bad ways of doing SEO, and they get thrown around in different contexts that can be quite confusing. The bottom line is that as Google evolves, some of the techniques used in the past to jump up the search rankings have started to have negative effects. As a basic rule, anything a human would look at as 'unnatural' on your site will increasingly be recognised by the search engines as you trying to game the system. For example, cramming hundreds of keywords in the site meta data used to be the way to tell Google what the site was about - that no longer really works. Same goes with overloading your page with keywords (ie having only keywords on the page without other text around it). Link building in particular can be slightly risky these days - beware of a 'toxic link' - ie a link from a website that has nothing to do with your topic area, from a site that Google doesn't necessarily trust. If you have an SEO specialist that suggests a 'link building' campaign, just make sure they are cautious about where they are getting those links from. Some of these dodgier SEO techniques may give your site a short term bump, but long term could damage your rankings.
Do I need to do anything?
So the good news is that even if you do absolutely no SEO on your site, it's possible it will start moving up the search engine rankings. There are so many factors that contribute to a ranking, that if you have a reasonably good site in a niche that isn't super competitive, then over time your site can creep towards that coveted front page ranking. However, if you aren't running a rankings scan, and haven't got an eye to the SEO side of things, then you are leaving things to chance a little bit. It would be like Usain Bolt showing up to the Olympic final without training for the last year - his natural talent miiiight pull him through, but it's far more likely the runners that have been training will cross the line in front of him. SEO is very much like training in that regard - it can be a pain in the ass, and if you don't do it then it isn't the end of the world...but if you want to win - then it's probably something you should look into.
For more information about SEO or anything in our "The Basics" series, don't hesitate to contact [email protected] .