Who doesn’t want to know more about their competitors’ online footprint?
As digital marketers we all understand the importance of competitive analysis as a research strategy. We can uncover marketing opportunities we may not have seen otherwise, and start that process of chipping away at competitors’ rankings and search traffic.
SEMrush is an extremely popular market intelligence aggregator and with good reason, it boasts a wealth of tools that digital marketers can utilise to understand where a website lies within an online market.
One of these tools is Traffic Analytics, which uses clickstream data to make estimations on a domain’s desktop and mobile traffic. We can use Traffic Analytics for benchmarking estimations of a domain’s overall traffic against other domains, and analyse this traffic by device, source, medium, location and subdomain.
In this short and to-the-point article we’ll take you through the key reporting mechanisms that the Traffic Analytics tool has to offer, and show you how you can apply those insights to real life digital marketing campaigns.
SEMrush Traffic Analytics can be broken down into the following reporting areas:
Top Pages [Beta]
Let’s start with the Overview report.
After entering in the domain of your choice, this feature gives search marketers a top level overview of each reporting area. It covers:
Pages per visit
Average visit duration
These metrics are filterable by device, too, so you can get to grips with how a competitor is performing on both desktop and mobile.
Displayed below the metrics is a clear, handy line graph which lays out these metrics over a 6 month, 12 month or ‘all time’ period.
With the full Traffic Analytics package users can view traffic data for a particular country with extended reporting. SEMrush also provides an ‘estimated accuracy’ reading for each Traffic Analytics report.
Traffic Analytics starts off with an overview of the queried website’s traffic and engagement.
The Traffic Overview tool can be used as a part of an initial reporting or research stage when you need access to a more general overview.
This function breaks down how your competitors’ online audiences overlap with your own.
After inputting a series of domains, users are presented with digestible circle charts and an overlap percentage for each comparison.
The higher the overlap percentage, the more likely a user would be to visit both sites. Let’s take a look at McDonalds and how they compare with Adidas, for example.
We can see that McDonalds’ and Adidas’ UK audience overlap by 6.78% based on an estimated audience of 25,200 people.
We can go deeper with this tool, however, as we aren’t limited to direct comparisons between our own website and competitors.
Why not use the Audience Overlap tool to find potential co-marketing opportunities, ad placements and brand alignments. Using Adidas as an example again, we can see that their audience also overlap with some interesting websites.
Using this tool can help highlight potential brand partnerships.
The Traffic Sources report provides an estimate (again, with an estimated accuracy reading at the top of the page) on which sources a website’s traffic can be attributed to.
The report differentiates between the five common sources of digital traffic:
Direct: users entering a URL directly into the address bar of their browser. These will usually be return users as they already either know what to put in, or have the URL in their browser history.
Referral: users clicking on a link from another website to get to the domain. They’ve been referred from another website
Search: users clicking through to the website from organic search listings on Google and similar search engine websites.
Social: traffic that has been sourced through links on social media channels.
But, with Traffic Analytics being so powerful – the insight certainly doesn’t stop there.
We also receive additional information in the Traffic Sources Details section, which breaks each Source down by Medium. The report will show you estimated numbers of visits for actual referring websites, social media channels and search engines and this is extremely beneficial for digital marketers as it gives us a clear understanding of where we need to be competing, too.
Here we can see that Boohoo gain a lot of Direct traffic, which is always to be expected given how easy their domain is to remember.
For larger websites that draw in traffic from across the globe, you may wish to take advantage of the Geo Distribution tool.
This map helps SEMrush users to rapidly locate the countries where the analysed domain performs strongest. The map is marked colour coordinated, so the darker the colour of the country, the more visitors it has from this region.
Each country is broken down with percentages for desktop vs. mobile users, pages per visit, average visit duration and bounce rate.
Here we can see a worldwide breakdown of Manchester City’s online traffic.
Where do people go next once they’ve visited a domain? It’s hard to judge, but the Destination Sites report gives you that golden insight.
As search marketers we can utilise this tool as part of our link building strategy, as we have access to a list of authoritative domains, within our niche, that our audience frequently visit as part of a browsing session that also contains a competitor website.
In a similar vein to the Audience Overlap tool, those trusted with larger campaigns can factor the Destination Sites facility in as part of their research into potential partnerships and collaborations.
Larger companies may have a variety of subdomains set up around the domain you have chosen to research.
A subdomain is an addition to a main domain name, and they are often used when adding an additional site function such as an online story or blog.
The Subdomains tool gives SEMrush users a breakdown of each subdomain and how much traffic it brings in.
In October 2019, SEMrush launched the Bulk Analysis tool for Traffic Analytics.
For campaigns that require a comparison with a deep and detailed list of competitors, the Bulk Analysis feature means you can get traffic metrics for up to 200 domains at any one time. All you have to do is enter the URLs into a text field.
This feature lends itself well to marketers who are managing campaigns that utilise affiliate partnerships, influencer campaigns and guest blog outreach.
Being able to determine where our competitors traffic is coming from, and using this information to determine which traffic sources we need to go after is so valuable as we go into 2020.
SEMrush’s Traffic Analytics tool has been a very welcome addition for digital marketers looking to elevate their competitive research.
It makes it super easy for us to spot both the strengths and weaknesses of our rival clients’ rival websites, and gives us the opportunity to pinpoint areas that need our marketing focus.
If you would like to reveal the web traffic data of both your competitors and prospects alike, you have to try Traffic Analytics. You can get yourself a free trial here.
The world of web design is ever changing. As the ways in which people browse the internet continue to evolve, businesses must adapt by updating their website to meet their needs.
Every time a new website is created, there are even more new considerations to keep in mind, and it’s why at this time of year, we like to speak to experts across the UK & Ireland, to see what they think the future holds.
In 2016, we did this for the first time, and found many web design experts believed we’d be shifting more to responsive, mobile-first websites in the following year. We updated this again in 2017, getting a preview of 2018, with topics coming up including mobile-friendly layouts, increased SVG use, and more videos.
As we approach the end of a decade that has seen some huge changes, we’re looking ahead to 2020 and beyond. We’ve again been in touch with web design & development experts across the UK & Ireland, asking them the following question:
“What trends in web design do you expect to see develop in 2020 and beyond?”
I expect to see more minimalist, stripped-back designs in 2020. Minimalist design can be interpreted in many different ways, but generally speaking more use of white space, with no single element diverting attention from the visual hierarchy will help to create a sense of simplicity, which is key for achieving a sophisticated look and feel for a website.
This approach usually gives content more room to breath on a page and helps to guide the user through the website. Whilst whitespace has always been a central design principle, in 2020, I think we will see whitespace growing bigger and becoming prominent.
With many design trends expected for 2020 such as micro-interactions, full page forms and bold colours with simplicity – It is the custom illustrations that we are most excited about.
Already picking up trend in 2019 the rise of the custom illustration is fast, and we expect this to continue to grow throughout 2020 and beyond.
Custom illustrations give a much more personal feel to a website, they add a new dimension and they allow brands to convey their own personality and creativity.
2018 and beforehand saw the rise of the “thin line icon” very professional and clean that was very web 2.0 – 2020 is for sure going to be the year of the custom illustration and brands willing to take a risk and animate their illustrations will be able to tell more of their story and image with less words.
We’re predicting a huge rise in the use of Augmented Reality within web design and development over the next 12 months. Some bigger companies already have this in place. If you look at Ikea for example, who are already using it with their Ikea Place technology. We also have Specsavers, who have recently added a way for users to ‘try on’ glasses, with a facial scan that maps the product to the user with AR.
As web design increasingly becomes mobile-first, Augmented Reality becomes much more palpable. There are still huge issues to overcome in the area, but throughout the 2020 we should see a big leap in companies making use of this kind of black mirror-esque technology. The time is getting closer for Augmented Reality to make a big impact on web design.
Mindful designing will be key to 2020, while minimalism continues to be a design trend this needs to be done with careful thought as you want users to stay on a website for as long as possible. Too little content, or not enough user interaction as a result of minimalist design is a no go.
2020 will see video content and interactive user content threading through what would have previously been flat content pages as businesses recognise the shifting content needs of their websites both in terms of real user interaction and in the epic battle for the sought after search engine rankings.
With the advancing take up of AI technology designers in 2020 need to also be mindful of designing for these technologies, voice search will continue to grow in use and this means coming up with creative ways for the website to be found through potential users questions but without diminishing the experience of users on the website itself.
This is why we believe split screen designs will continue to grow in popularity throughout 2020. Split screen designs allow designers to mix things up when it comes to content display and with the growth of Video and VR content being produced for websites they are an ideal way to display a collage of media across a variety of devices without affecting user interaction.
While currently spending the time to add dark mode to a website or application might be viewed as providing a luxury to your users, 2020 will see a marked shift in this but not for every kind of business. The benefits to providing users with dark mode options will be led by content heavy websites and also websites and applications that users are interacting with several hours a day, we believe one of the biggest focuses will be for businesses to provide their staff with dark mode environments from an occupational health perspective.
Advances in AI, AR and VR technology are going to allow us to see some marked improvements in customer support and chatbot features across software solutions. While this will be slow growing we do see advances into this in 2020 as these kind of technologies will allow users to access on demand instructional support in a variety of media. This means users will be able to access the support they need in a medium they will understanding ultimately minimising user frustration which is apparent with many of these solutions presently. With that being said we are all about customer communication here and sometimes people just need to speak to another human and the growth in these technologies will also be beneficial for real customer interaction and troubleshooting across businesses.
With the fast evolving technology of AI and Machine learning. I predict that user personalisation will be a key factor in converting search users into customers. With search intent being a key ranking factor. Google now displays meta descriptions based on the users search term.
By personalising landing pages, products, CTA’s based on the user’s metrics such as traffic source, location, device and previous interactions with a brand will build customer trust, satisfaction and an improved user experience.
As website designers and developers, we are on the forefront of the attention-economy. Despite more and more devices and platforms trying to get our attention every day, we still only have 24 hours of time with which to create “engagement” metrics. Typically we’ve seen this lead to either 1 platform gaining a larger share of a users attention (Instagram, for example) or everyone getting less and less time spent on their platforms individually. While this has typically been a battle fought mainly with social platforms and streaming services, I think we’ll see this “hey, look at me, pay attention!” mentality bleeding into business sites too.
They’ll likely achieve this with interactive experiences, dynamic content, augmented reality features, and anything else they can do to keep you engaging with their message or brand. Designs might become interactive or increasingly and deliberately obtuse in an effort to get people engaging with content in a way that simply hasn’t been done at scale before. No longer will a design challenge be about “what’s the clearest way we can display our message”, it will instead lead to “what’s the most memorable way we can get our message across”. If you can create something so incredibly cool and engaging that people want to show their friends and family, that’s when you know you’ve won. My prediction is that we’ll see the beginning of this in 2020 and as devices are getting more and more sophisticated in the next decade, we’ll only see this accelerate.
Web browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari now have built in dark mode, utilising a feature called prefers-color-scheme. This is a CSS feature that asks your browser if you have dark mode enabled, and will then load a different stylesheet than usual. I personally use dark mode on YouTube in the evening so my eyes have some time to relax before bed. Over 2020 I expect more websites to start experimenting with dark mode, certainly if these websites are the type that are browsed late at night.
Mobile first indexing on search engines has been the case for a while now, so responsive and mobile friendly design should be one of your first considerations when building or designing a website. However this is not always the case. I’m continually surprised by how many websites still don’t have an easy to use mobile layout, with links and buttons too close together, spacing and alignment all wrong, as if making the website mobile friendly was an afterthought. I would consider myself a website expert, so for the sake of the casual web browser I’m hoping as the year progresses more and more websites will become easier to use for the majority.
Chatbots and customer support features
Aside from the fact that popups on website can be quite annoying, there have been numerous occasions in the last few months when I have chosen a particular supplier or bought a particular product as I was able to immediately speak with someone and get answers to my questions. As long as you have enough staff to make sure people’s queries are being asked more or less instantly, I’d recommend utilising on your website. However I think chatbots never really grasp what you’re saying and the whole process leaves a lot to be desired. As time passes and bots get more clever I expect this to change, but I think it’s still a long way off.
Responsive design over the years has become further and further to the front of all designers minds. It all stems from “form follows function” – it should look good before it works good. Tables are turning and now you can’t have one without the other. Responsive design now means having web sites that work around the viewer with a design to match, without it, you tend to sink into the back of the millions of websites that our potential clients have seen in the past years. Take responsive design with dark mode, and you’ve got a recipe for success if done right. Dark mode has taken off recently since Apple added it to iOS 13, and websites have been taking a shining to this sleek yet “responsive” style of designing.
Here’s where the fun starts though, if you’re wanting to jump on the good ship 2020, responsiveness should be something that comes naturally to a site designed around the dark mode theme. Who knows what 2020 has to offer in terms of design trends, but one thing I and every other designer knows is that your site has to work around the viewer, ALWAYS. The responsive element should flow like tears down Elon Musk’s face when the rock went through the Tesla Cybertruck’s window.
In 2020 we expect to see more sites “breaking the grid” and moving further away from the traditional and familiar column and row format. When done well, asymmetric designs are both engaging and effective at directing attention to certain areas of the page such as call to actions. Coupled with subtle shadow and good use of colour you can also create stacked designs that invite you in or leap off the page.
2 main talking points we see as major players in web design for 2020 is Ultra Minimalist Navigation, and Dark Mode. With the rise of wearable devices like smartwatches, web design in general is thinking smaller. The area most affected by this is navigation, the glue that holds a website together. Over the last few years, navigation has been getting simpler and simpler to accommodate extremely small devices and even smaller attention spans, meaning users are now generally clicking not thinking. Extremely minimalist navigation takes away much of the difficulty in usability. The less a user has to think about moving around, the more time they spend immersed in the site, actually moving around instead of wondering how.
Dark mode, as with lots of software programs like InDesign and Illustrator, has been slowly creeping in over the last couple of years, but now with platforms like Outlook and Facebook switching to dark mode this could be the main game changer in 2020.
We love seeing how colours change and impact design. It is a critical design element, which unlike many other aspects of design – will not impact load time (hero videos, animations or unusual sliders/scrolling features). There seems to be a push towards much brighter and bold colours in the last months, how a design works with one loud colour, or no colour at all can be very interesting. Clients are becoming more brave when it comes to colourful websites that still follow brand guidelines, but stand out from the crowd. Being creative with colour allows a client to show their personality, especially when applied throughout an entire branding experience.
SEO can be a very long process, with so many techniques that work at a different level of effectiveness when it comes to increasing your search engine rankings.
While it can take a while for search engine indexing algorithms to take note of the SEO-based changes you’ve made to a website, there are other metrics you can analyse to see how things are coming along.
It’s not as simple as just tracking where your target keywords appear on Google search results – a good SEO campaign will monitor and aim to improve several other metrics. We’ve compiled a list of the most important SEO metrics you should be tracking, to help you put together a more thorough and precise campaign.
Domain authority is one of several figures to track that uses a number to effectively score, rate or rank your website. It’s not as obvious a thing to track as rankings or traffic, but it does have an important function in SEO.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is a score from 1 to 100, developed by Moz, a marketing company that offers a whole range of useful SEO tools and resources. Domain authority has become a globally used industry metric, scored on a logarithmic scale that means it’s easier to improve your score in the lower numbers than the higher regions (eg. it’s easier to move up from 10 to 20 than it is 60 to 70).
Why should I track domain authority?
The score that domain authority gives predicts how well your website will rank on a search engine results page – the highest scored pages are more likely to get the higher search positions for their relevant keywords.
As such, this is a very important score to keep note of and improve. While you can just check your specific rankings for a web page, it’s good to view this as more of a progress score – as it continues to increase, it shows you’re doing something right, while if there’s a sudden drop, it could suggest that there’s something wrong that could end up damaging your rankings.
How do I improve domain authority?
Domain authority is calculated using a large range of factors and data, but some of the most important areas are highlighted by Moz.
Link building is a central part of SEO, and this is one of the primary things reflected in your score. The more high-quality backlinks your site receives from external domains, the higher your score is going to end up.
It’s also key to remember that you shouldn’t be judging your website solely on how high its domain authority is. You’re never going to end up breaking the barriers of 90+ with your score – only some of the world’s largest, most visited sites such as Google and Facebook find themselves with scores that high.
What you should do instead is keep track of your competitor’s scores too, and aim to get a higher domain authority than them – once you have, it’s indicative that you’re likely to surpass them for the search terms you compete on.
Similar to domain authority, Alexa rank is another metric that isn’t an obvious one to track, but can be a good indicator of how well things are going.
What is Alexa rank?
As the name suggests, Alexa rank is a ranking-based system rather than a scoring method. Specifically, it ranks millions of websites against each other, eventually ordering them by popularity. Similar to a music chart, number one is the best attainable position, currently occupied by Google.
Alexa rank is determined by analysing a site’s traffic and engagement over the past three months.
Why should I track Alexa rank?
Although this isn’t one of the most important things to keep track off, it’s still a valuable score that can show you how things are progressing.
While you won’t get much knowledge from a single score, you’ll get a sense of progression when you track it over time – watching your site continue to climb up through the ranking positions should show that your site is performing better than before.
Improving Alexa rank isn’t something you should be aiming to do specifically though – it’s something that will improve collaterally as your SEO efforts start to take effect.
It’s all well and good knowing that you’re driving a huge amount of traffic to your website, but how many of those people did you manage to keep truly interested in your content? How many of them stuck around? This is where bounce rate comes in.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate is a calculation which can be found in Google Analytics, displayed as a percentage and measures the percentage of people who only conducted a single-page session on your site. So, each time a user enters your site on a page and exits on that same page, without exploring your site and navigating to any other pages first, that counts as a bounce.
Generally speaking, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible. However, that’s not completely conclusive to all sites. Single-page websites which offer all information in one place can expect to have a high bounce rate, as there is really nowhere else for the user to navigate to.
Why should I track bounce rate?
Tracking bounce rate is essential to analysing the performance of your website and the content you’re putting out there. Naturally, we want to attract visitors to our websites and keep them interested in the hope that it might lead to a conversion, whatever that end goal might be.
If you’re noticing a particularly high bounce rate, then it’s likely that you are not offering people what they want to see, or there may be a problem with your landing page which is causing people to make a quick exit, so that’s worth investigating.
Similarly, keeping an eye on what your bounce rate generally looks like means that you can identify any sudden fluctuations in it. A huge increase in this metric could flag up a problem on your website which you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.
Although, it’s important to not get too bogged down with the status of your bounce rate, as we mentioned earlier. Cross-reference it with your average session duration, and if it turns out that people are spending a good chunk of time reading your content albeit exiting afterwards, chances are you’re doing something right.
How do I improve bounce rate?
First things first, it’s a good idea to inspect further and assess the bounce rate on each individual landing page. This way, you can see exactly whereabouts on your site people are dropping off, and which pages have acquired a lower, more positive bounce rate.
From that, you can look into if there are any particular on-page issues, or you might notice that the content itself isn’t relevant to the search terms you have been targeting in your marketing efforts. Generally speaking though, there are a few top tips for improving your bounce rate, and your website overall:
Optimise your website’s loading speed
Analyse the relevance of your content
Make it easy to navigate
Ensure your site is optimised for mobile
Assess the format and general layout of your website and its pages
Average Session Duration
Similar to bounce rate, while average session duration is a great metric to be tracking, it’s one of them that can be quite difficult to gauge and work out exactly why you’re getting the results that you are. Having said that, there are definitely some ways which you can work on to improve it, which we will touch on below.
What is Average Session Duration?
Another metric measured by and displayed in Google Analytics, average session duration indicates how long people are spending on your website, on average. This is calculated by dividing the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) by the number of sessions.
A session is simply a single visit to your website which starts when a user clicks on to your website and is recorded right up until they leave. To improve the accuracy of results, the session timer will stop recording after 30 minutes of inactivity from the user.
Keeping track of average session duration helps to identify how long people are sticking around for. A worryingly low average session duration would indicate that visitors aren’t interested in your content, or you have had nothing to offer them. Alternatively, a high number shows that you’re on the right track.
So, what is a good Average Session Duration?
Research by Databox reports that a nice benchmark to look for here is around 2-3 minutes. Anything over that and you shouldn’t have any cause for concern, but anything less than a couple of minutes might be worth looking at.
Having said that, your results will also depend on the type of content you are offering, and how long you expect users to be spending on your website – so this should be factored into your analysis, too.
How do I increase Average Session Duration?
Increasing average session duration is all about trying to keep your visitors interested, and not having any on-site issues which may turn them away.
It’s all about focusing on the user experience and quality of your content, and here are a few tips which you might look to implement as part of this:
Create engaging content that’s unique, relevant and interesting.
Embed videos where necessary to increase interactivity, provide the user with additional information and boost session time.
Insert high-quality images and infographics to break up text and deliver easy-to-read information that captures the user’s attention.
Add internal links to direct users to relevant pages around your website.
Regularly update content to keep things fresh and interesting, giving users a reason to come back for more.
Improve readabilitywith easy-to-read fonts and well formatted text with headings and short paragraphs.
Assess the layout and overall design of your website ensuring it’s clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
Organic traffic is one of the most major indicators of SEO success, and this is one of the most important metrics to be tracking in order to measure how your website is performing online.
What is Organic Traffic?
Organic traffic shows the number of sessions on your website which have solely come from people directly searching for your company, products, services or content. These are the searches that are performed in search engines such as Google or Bing, and people click on your organic listings as opposed to any paid ads or referral links.
Why should I be tracking Organic Traffic?
No matter how much time and effort you dedicate to working on your SEO, that means nothing unless it’s actually pulling in real, quality traffic and people are able to easily find your website.
By tracking organic sessions month on month, you can easily see if your SEO work is taking effect. If the number of organic sessions is increasing over time, this means that you are successfully improving your rankings and things are going in the right direction.
Providing that you have been focusing on improving your rankings for quality keywords that are relevant and beneficial to your website, an increase in organic sessions should be reflected in your performance and conversion rate overall, providing that your website is fully optimised for a flawless user experience.
How do I increase Organic Traffic?
Increasing organic traffic is all about improving your SEO, and in turn, search engine rankings. The great thing about focusing on SEO is that you are working towards permanent results for your website, unlike the short-lived boost that paid advertising may provide. Plus, it’s free.
If you’re serious about pushing your website to its full potential, driving high quality traffic and generating real results (you should be), read our in-depth blog on how to increase Google rankings here.
Once you understand that SEO is the process of optimising your website to improve your search engine performance, you’ll want to know how you can track the impact of that optimisation work. Tracking keyword performance in the SERPs (search engine results pages) is the recognised and thorough way of achieving this.
What are keywords?
Keywords are the search terms you want to rank for, so when people search for your product or service you are displayed prominently in the organic search results.
Don’t be fooled by the phrase, keywords doesn’t necessarily mean you have to track individual words.
Short-tail keywords are three words or less. Examples include “summer clothes” and “digital marketing.” While search volume is usually higher for these broad phrases, you’ll often find that the competition increases dramatically. That means any SEO work you do to target short-tail keywords will put you at the back of a massive queue.
Long-tail keywords are more than three words in length. Examples include “vintage summer clothes store” or “help with my digital marketing.” These aren’t as broad and the search volume is lower as a consequence, but they are more targeted to exact search queries and work great if you’re looking to drive super-specific traffic to your website.
Why is keyword tracking important?
Keyword tracking is important because any SEO strategy should be tailored to improving rankings for specific search terms. The most accurate way of determining your progress is by generating clear and conclusive data on how your website is performing on Google.
How will I know which keywords to track?
The first step should always be to think like your customer, and that goes for pretty much any digital marketing planning process. Human first.
Before looking at any data, think about what your potential customers will likely search for when reaching your site. Write everything down, including what the search query will look like. Do you have a really specific niche that requires a long-tail search?
Group these ideas into clusters around your services and products, and you have what we call a seed list. An initial idea of what you want to track.
From here you can compare and contrast your list with real data from Google Search Console. In the Performance area of this valuable free tool, users can export a breakdown of the search queries that are driving traffic to their site through Google, as well as where you are currently ranking for them.
Tip: be sure to include alternate spellings, phrases and common modifiers in your keyword list. For example if your company is called Orange 71, you’ll want to track: Orange 71, Orange71, orange seven one and so on.
…and how do I actually track the keywords?
You’ve made the list and checked it twice, now you want to start generating some data on those keywords. To do this you will need to add your list to a rank or position tracker.
The good news is there are plenty of web based platforms out there that can help you track your progress, and we use SEMRush for everything that we do.
When tracking your keywords, you’re also going to want to think about the location of the search and the device that it is being carried out on. These variables can have a big impact on your SERP performance.
Generate reports on a monthly basis in accordance with the SEO work that you are carrying out.
Page Speed & Site Speed
The understanding of page and site speed varies, especially with regards to the impact that it can have on both your SEO and your website conversion rate. Quick definitions:
Page speed: the length of time it takes to display all of the content on a specific page
Site speed: an average calculated from page speed readings taken across the site
These metrics can have a significant impact on your SEO. Google is on record as ‘wanting to make the internet as fast as possible’ so rest assured that they will look to prioritise faster websites where they can. Don’t take our word for it, Google announced a major change to its mobile ranking algorithm back in the summer of 2018, whereby page speed became a primary ranking factor for mobile searches.
Why is that? Well, Google want to ensure that the sites they are displaying the top positions of the search results are giving users a good experience. One of the fundamentals of UX is site speed and slow browsing is a surefire way to kill your conversions by frustrating the user. 79% of online shoppers say they won’t revisit an ecommerce website if it loaded slowly on their first visit, while 47% of users expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds.
How do I find out more about my Page and Site Speed?
You can learn more about your site performance by running a Google Pagespeed Insights test or by using Google Analytics > Behaviour > Site Speed.
The free Google test compares your site data to other pages in the Chrome User Experience Report. It also crawls your site to determine areas of improvement, some of the usual suspects include:
Eliminate render-blocking resources. This means there are improvements to be made in your site’s CSS to help it load faster.
Properly size images. This means you are serving users that aren’t appropriately-sized and they will, naturally, take longer to load.
All of this can be found in the report and relayed to your developer. We would, of course, be more than happy to take a look at this for you.
Finally, we can’t talk about site speed without mentioning hosting. Who you are hosted with, and the package they are giving you, will have a monumental impact on your site’s ability to load quickly. Web hosts have the ability to offer you bandwidth, additional storage space and dedicated resources to ensure you are giving your users the online experience they expect.
Hopefully you can use this article to help you with your SEO tracking. If you have any questions about any of the metrics, or would like to discuss how we can help you with your digital marketing, then you are more than welcome to get in touch with us.
SEO site audits are crucial for analysing the performance of any website, big or small.
If your website isn’t delivering the results you’d hoped for, in terms of traffic and rankings, then there’s a good chance that you’ll find the reason behind this by conducting an audit.
What is an SEO site audit and why is it important?
It’s essentially a method of analysing your website from the inside out, to assess its online presence and detect any possible issues that could be preventing it from performing to its full potential.
Performing regular SEO audits is best practice for any website, and all new websites should undergo a full in-depth analysis to ensure everything is set up correctly to allow Google’s bots to crawl and index the pages.
The main aim of the process is to gain insight into a plethora of different factors which affect a website’s SEO metrics and create an actionable plan going forward. From this, you will have highlighted key things to work on in order to improve overall website health, increase ranking on Google SERP’s and boost traffic, leads and conversions as a result.
Read on to find out how to conduct a thorough SEO site audit…
1. Run a full crawl of your site using Screaming Frog
Search engines such as Google regularly crawl websites to help them to determine their positions within search results. But what sort of information does Google receive about your website?
Well, Screaming Frog is itself an SEO Spider, meaning it can crawl any website in a similar fashion, returning with data that will prove valuable as you continue with your efforts to get higher search rankings.
Screaming Frog is a desktop application that will go through a selected website, then displaying a page-by-page breakdown of information including metadata, H1 & H2 tags, status codes, canonicals and more. It can also highlight which pages have been set to be unindexable, which is useful for identifying any ranking problems. All found data can be exported and saved as a spreadsheet document for clearer and more tailorable analysis.
The paid version of Screaming Frog costs £149 per year and offers additional features that make it well worth the cost for people who will be using it regularly and in-depth. There’s a free version too which still gives you the majority of your required information, but has a limit of 500 URLs per website crawl, meaning it won’t be appropriate for larger sites.
2. Check for indexation issues using Google Search Console
For your website to be successful, it’s important that it’s visible to the end user in Google SERP’s. The only way this will happen is if your website and its pages are indexable.
It’s something that can often be overlooked, but if you notice that your rankings have fallen or traffic has dropped then it’s important to check your website’s indexability in Google Search Console.
The Index Coverage Report in Search Console will detail all of the URL’s on your website that Google has visited, or tried to visit during a crawl. It will indicate whether or not each URL is valid or has flagged up any warnings or errors.
Now, the important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t expect instant results, as Google’s crawlers work differently on each website so it could take some time to index new content. Nor should you ever expect all of your URL’s to be indexed, but rather see a more gradual increase over time as your website grows.
Should you find any crawl errors or warnings, it’s best practice to rectify the issues as soon as possible, and request a re-index via GSC.
The Google Search Console Overview homepage.
3. Check a site’s Domain and Page Authority against competitors
Domain Authority, or DA, is a search engine ranking score formulated by Moz to accurately predict how well a website will rank on search engine result pages, or SERPs.
DA scores range from 1.00 where you will find newly launched websites, through the 30.00 and 40.00 where you will find the averages for a wide range of industries, right through to 100.00 where you will find Google themselves.
This metric has become one of the, if not the go-to metrics for SEOers like us. We can use it to gain a quick snapshot of how authoritative a site is, and so we always make sure to check the DA as part of an initial site audit. Alongside this, we obtain an authority score for a list of key competitor websites for comparison purposes.
DA is then regularly checked throughout the campaign to determine the success of our link building campaigns amongst other work; we look for an increase in ranking strength over time.
DA is calculated by evaluating a range of factors including linking root domains and the number of total links into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.
It is important to remember that DA is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings, however, their rankings algorithm does take into account the same criteria that Moz uses to generate a DA score for a website
A conclusive backlink audit should take no longer than half an hour, and it will leave you with a clear understanding of how valuable a site’s link profile is.
Any time we take on a new SEO client we will always run an initial backlink audit for the domain we are going to be working on.
It allows us to check that the site is in a good place before we begin working our magic. If it isn’t, it will probably be because there are low-quality, spammy backlinks as part of the link profile. Disavowing these early will ensure that our ongoing SEO efforts are not being held back by Google penalties.
We run our backlink audits through SEMRush. Other market-leading tools include Ahrefs and ReportGarden. With SEMRush each link is given a quality score and we find this really handy when we look to filter the good from the bad. If you’re analysing raw backlink data, though, we would recommend sorting the backlinks by Domain Authority to differentiate between the high and low-quality links.
It’s not all about checking for bad stuff. Auditing a site’s high-quality links can help you to determine what to pursue more of as part of your link building strategy. Digging deeper, you can also analyse the anchors that cement the links on each site to ensure that they are keyword optimised.
Running that initial month-zero backlink audit is an essential starting point if you wish to track the acquisition of new backlinks over the course of your campaign.
SEMRush’s Backlink Analytics allow you to analyse every detail about you and your competitors’ backlinks.
5. Keywords – how is the site performing in the results pages?
The main indicator of website performance is analysing how well it is performing on Google search results. This means measuring the ranking position it holds for certain keywords relevant to your business and the products/services offered.
Once you’ve conducted some thorough keyword research and created a list of relevant terms that you want to focus on, you can input them into a tool such as SEMRush position tracker to find out where you’re ranking for each keyword.
You will then be able to see which keywords are your highest ranking and which ones could do with some improvement. From this, you’ll have a clear indication of what your website may be lacking and can get to work on some standard SEO practices such as implementing more relevant on-page content focused around these keywords to help drive your rankings higher.
6. Look for site issues with SEMRush
As well as useful tools such as the backlink audit and position tracking that SEMRush offer, you’ll also find a site audit section for your website.
This tool will crawl your website and all of its pages, and identify any key issues or errors that could be causing issues with your search rankings and usability.
It breaks down everything it finds into three categories – Errors, Warnings & Notices. The errors are the key priorities for you to sort, often including things such as broken links, pages returning an error code, uncrawlable pages, and missing/broken images.
The warnings section highlights issues that aren’t as pressing but should still be fixed. This included any issues with page title tags, missing image alt attributes, missing meta descriptions and broken external links.
Finally, the notices section highlights things that aren’t considered issues, but should still be fixed when possible. This includes pages having multiple H1 tags, pages with only one incoming internal link, and pages with URLs that are considered too long.
7. Analyse site’s organic traffic using Google Analytics
It goes without saying that organic traffic is one of the most valuable statistics you can measure when it comes to analysing website performance and success. Sure, social and paid traffic all count but nothing is really quite as good as natural, organic visitors that have come straight from Google or any other search engine.
Of course, there is no better way to track organic traffic than via Google Analytics. It’s free, simple and a Google-owned product – you can’t get more accurate than that.
Getting set up on Google Analytics is pretty simple, and just requires you to set up an account and install the provided tracking code on your website. There’s also a handy feature to send test traffic to ensure that it’s all set up and working correctly.
The very first thing you should do once the tracking code is implemented and working adds a filter in Analytics to exclude your own IP address from the data – you don’t want the results to be skewed every time you visit your own website, as that’s not an accurate representation of your visitors.
From the Analytics dashboard, you can drill down into each traffic source from the Acquisition tab. You’ll be able to see how many organic searches you get each day and a good idea of which keywords were used to find your website, too.
Measuring organic traffic over a long period of time will give you a great insight into how your website has grown, in a way that wasn’t influenced by any paid advertising or social media campaigns.
8. Check your optimisation with the Pixel Kicks audit tool
We have an audit tool available for free use on our own website. All you have to do is enter the URL of the page you want to check, along with a selected keyword. Our tool will then crawl that page and tell you how well optimised it is in relation to the given keyword.
Each page crawl only takes around 15 seconds, after which you’ll be given an audit document that you can download and save as a PDF. As well as checking the page’s meta-data, content, and image alt-tags for your keyword frequency and placement, it will also monitor your loading speed, mobile performance, and take a look at any code issues.
At the end of the audit, you’ll receive an optimisation score out of 100 for the selected page, based around the general performance, and the selected keyword. All the identified issues will also be summarised in a handy checkbox list of tasks, helping you to work your way through the problems and get them sorted.
Pixel Kicks has a team of digital marketing experts, with many years of SEO experience. If you need help optimising your website to get better results, we can assist you in creating and executing a thorough, effective marketing plan. Give us a call on 0161 713 1700, or click here to make an enquiry.
An occasional, but incredibly tiresome exchange. For some it is almost unfathomable that a person can primarily support a Non-League football club.
They say you’re supposed to follow the team your dad does, so that led to me becoming infatuated with the National League North club from a very early age.
Living within such close proximity to Moss Lane encouraged him to take me along every other Saturday afternoon. With a football ground on our doorstep, why wouldn’t he?
Fast forward twenty-or-so years and I’m still ever-present on the terraces, it’s just that I have now joined the ranks of volunteers that make the club tick.
Fans for Diversity 2017. Michael Ripley Photography.
See, Altrincham are a club that rely upon countless hours of unpaid work to run efficiently, and I contribute to that by managing their digital marketing channels. They’ve got voluntary bar staff, groundsmen, youth coaches, stewards, announcers and so on.
My responsibilities at the club include:
Regularly updating the social media channels with club updates, including ‘live-tweeting’ match day coverageand Instagram Story content
Delivering awareness and engagement campaigns through social media
Assist in updating and maintaining the club website
Promoting club events
Reporting on key social and web analytics
The role became vacant at the beginning of the 2016/17 season and I jumped at the chance to showcase my ability, which I guess you could describe as embryonic at this point. Working in partnership with a colleague who possesses a background in brand management, we immediately set about auditing the club’s digital persona.
Massive credit has to be given to our predecessors who laid the foundations and ran some great campaigns in the past, pulling in some huge crowds for big games. It made our job a lot easier picking up the reigns and taking their great work forward.
Rather than starting from the ground up we had a platform to build on.
Altrincham celebrate scoring away at Chester. Jonathan Moore Photography.
The aim has always been to convince the average Sky Sports watching fan to get off his couch and on to the Golf Road End. We figured what we needed to task ourselves with was connecting Altrincham to these people through social media, and if we could motivate them to get to a game then we were doing our voluntarily roles properly.
Early success came when Altrincham were named Club of the Round during the 2016/17 Emirates FA Cup campaign.
The FA invited participating clubs’ marketing teams to apply for the award, supplying a written summary of the marketing work undertaken for their previous FA Cup fixture.
We were judged to have used the most innovative mix of digital and print media to promote our home tie against Matlock Town.
The prize included a showcase of the FA Cup itself, and the iconic piece of silverware was present at the next home game against Bradford Park Avenue for fans to take photos with. We also received two tickets to the final which were raffled, five new Nike training balls and £500 of paid social media support from the FA.
We also got a neat little trophy!
We continued to leverage Twitter’s viral potential, particularly within the football community, to generate more exposure for the club. The more times we could successfully do this, the more conversation we would generate about Alty.
It was decided that we would refresh the club’s online tone of voice. We oversaw a transition away from the safe,text-book delivery of news to a tone almost borne out of self-deprecation. The thought process here was to position Altrincham as a football club that didn’t mind poking fun at itself, one that didn’t take itself too seriously when the moment was right to do so.
We had no real social strategy aside from this, although things have become a bit more professional since then. We just wanted to try and make the club seem as modern, interesting and engaging as possible.
By injecting some much needed life and personality into the way the club communicated with their fans, and the wider footballing world, we were re-positioning Altrincham as eccentric and entertaining.
Please note, CV's for the vacant manager role must not be based on FM or CM achievements.
When Altrincham parted company with then-First Team Manager, Jim Harvey, the opportunity was there to remind the footballing world that we will not be accepting applications based on video-game accomplishments.
Sad news this morning:
As @AFCFYLDE won last night, we are mathematically OUT of the title race.
Rock-bottom of the National League North, we saw fit to announce the end of our title charge after the leaders grabbed another three points.
We’re always on the hunt for reactive content and we regularly jump on opportunities to cement that entertaining tone. Social listening plays a big part in our strategy here and we constantly keep an eye out for mentions of ‘Altrincham’ or news relating to the club.
A word of warning, don’t try and clickbait Altrincham.
It’s all great stuff, posting tweets that get big numbers – but they’re flashes in the pan. What we also needed to establish were consistent features and chunky campaigns to drive consistent engagement from our core support.
The creation of a six-aside Fantasy Football league was a huge success. Fans could create a team of their favourite players using an available budget. It generated conversation around fixtures and had over 150 sign-ups by the launch of the game.
This was followed by our #FootballManagerManager campaign, where we became the first club in the world to officially appoint a Football Manager player to play the game as them.
We generated an online buzz when we announced that interviews for the role would be held via Twitter Direct Message, and that’s exactly what we did.
We ‘interviewed’ 20 Football Manager YouTubers with varying audience sizes and content styles, eventually deciding to work with content creator Loki Doki, who introduced Altrincham to his subscriber base of over 40,000 people. The Rise of the Robins series totalled well over 1,500,000 views on YouTube.
Our work alongside Alty’s Inclusion & Diversity team has seen us nominated for a National Game Community Award by the Football Supporter’s Federation.
You may have come across our most recent project in support of Football vs Homophobia’s month of action.
The initiative saw Alty become the first team to take to the field for a competitive game in a kit based solely on the LGBT Pride Flag, as opposed to our traditional red and white. It reflected the club’s unswerving commitment to inclusivity and diversity, as a club at the heart of its community.
The match worn shirts were auctioned after the match, and replica kits went on sale with orders flooding in from across the world.
All proceeds from the auction were donated to The Proud Trust, an LGBT+ youth charity who are rebuilding the LGBT centre in Manchester. Profits from the replica sales will go towards future Inclusion & Diversity initiatives.
"It's not subtle, but it's loud and gets the message across."
The reach of the campaign was astronomical and exceeded expectations, with the story gaining coverage from the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, BT Sports and much more.
FA chairman Greg Clarke said last year he was aware of at least two gay Premier League players, adding that he was “personally ashamed” that neither feels safe enough to come out to the public.
Sexual orientation shouldn’t matter in sport but unfortunately it still seems to. The hope was by making a significant, rather than a subtle statement, we could open up further discussion and remind everyone that Alty are a Club who welcomes all.
We ran with the hashtag #footbALL throughout the campaign. Michael Ripley Photography.
There’s still so much more to mention.
We’ve generated £4,000 in prize money for the club via Marathonbet’s Non League Challenge, launched football’s first WhatsApp news delivery service straight to fans’ phones, and attracted support in the form of main stand sponsorship from the prominent social media football betting community Footy Accumulators.
The partnership with Footy Accumulators includes regular content collaborations with Checkd Media and there are some very exciting projects in the not too distant future, including a behind-the-scenes documentary following the senior squad’s progress.
Things have progressed quickly on from 2016. What was an exciting chance to try a new line of work has led to a full time profession in a fast paced industry.
If I didn’t volunteer my time, I wouldn’t have discovered my potential to do this for a living and I remain very thankful for the opportunity.
If you want to learn more about my work at Altrincham you are more than welcome to get in touch with me on LinkedIn.
Similarly, if you would like to learn more about how digital marketing can impact your business then feel free contact us here at Pixel Kicks.
When executed in the right way, Facebook advertising campaigns can have a huge impact for any brand or business, and should be seriously considered as part of your marketing strategy.
With over 2.2 billion active users on Facebook each month, the global reach of this social platform is phenomenal, which is what makes their advertising so effective. No matter the type of products or service you’re offering, you can bet that your target audience will be using Facebook, and the many different micro-targeting features integrated in the platform allow you to target these people specifically; based on interests, locations, demographics and much more.
Setting up a Facebook ad campaign can be a bit daunting at first, since there are so many different options to choose from. It’s important not to be overwhelmed by this, but to see it more as an opportunity to really refine every element of your adverts, to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your budget and utilising it in the best possible way.
To help you get started, we wanted to share our top tips to creating the perfect Facebook ad campaign…
1. Experiment with different Facebook ad types
With the large amount of campaign types available on Facebook, it would be a mistake to just try one. For each business and its goals, the type of campaign required will change, and it’s important to get an idea of what they’re all about before you click on whichever pops up first.
One of the most simple, common types of campaign to manage is the boosted post – this is perfect for when you want to drive clicks to a piece of content you’ve already shared, or push a piece of important news out to a wider audience.
Video ads are another important type of Facebook advertising. This format is one of the best ways of grabbing the attention of Facebook users as they scroll through their news feed – it’s key to ensure your video content is instantly engaging to hold their attention, and ideally get them to convert their view to an action.
For those wanting to showcase a variety of products and services, a carousel ad is recommended, allowing the user to side-scroll through each individual item and click through to their dedicated landing pages.
The diversity of advertising types can be overwhelming at first, but we recommend trying several and comparing your results. When setting up a campaign, Facebook does ask you to select your goal type, and as such can point you into the right direction of types you should try.
2. Maximise your budget
You’ll be wondering how to set up the right budget for your Facebook ad campaign, and more specifically, how to get the most out of the money you are investing. Your spend should always be determined by your overall campaign goals, for example:
X sales over a defined period of time
X engagements on a particular post
X leads generated
X new page fans won during the campaign
X app downloads
Set out these goals before you specify any sort of budget, and this will help you to better plan out the money you have. From there you can begin to work on testing different ads to gauge ROI.
Any optimised Facebook ad campaign will be grounded in a well-planned testing phase. As explained above, you will want to experiment with various types of content to determine which one is the most compatible with your audience. After this you can begin to run smaller, £5-10 ads on 3-4 day cycles to test them and generate results data. Use this results data to make informed decisions on how you will allocate the bulk of your campaign budget, as opposed to setting up ads with a blind budget of £100.
It is also worth considering your Budget and Scheduling settings, which can be found in the Facebook Ads manager. You are given an option between setting a Daily or Lifetime budget for any Facebook ad that you set up. We opt for Daily budgets as opposed to Lifetime, as highly performing ads can drain a Lifetime budget very quickly while Daily will ensure that the ad remains on users’ news feeds for the specified ad duration. You can’t change this setting once you go live, so make sure you’ve considered this in detail first.
3. Get your ad placements right
Upon creating your Facebook ad campaign, you’ll notice that your placement options will be preset to “Automatic Placements (Recommended)”. Sure, you can leave it like that and Facebook will choose the best places to show your ads in correlation to their expected performance, but if you really want to give your ads the best possible chance of a high success, you’ll drill deeper into your ad placement options.
Now, when you choose to “Edit Placements”, you’ll notice there’s a plethora of different options which can be quite overwhelming and at this point, it seems a little easier to leave it ticked on automatic and move on.
However, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and depending on your ad campaign type, you have the ability to grow your reach further with different ad placements. Here are your options…
Feeds – displays ads to your target audience on their Facebook News Feed in-line with all of the other content. Usually seen more frequently, and can be used on both desktop and mobile.
Instant articles–directs users to straight to your online content (articles or blogs) when clicked.
In-stream videos– ads placed within videos on Facebook, in a similar way to an ad-break, where the user will have to watch the ad until the end before the video continues.
Right column– desktop only, ads displayed to the right hand side of the news feed, making them less preferable due to their easy-to-miss location.
Suggested videos– your video will appear in the list of “suggested videos” presented to a user once they have finished watching another video on Facebook.
Marketplace– displays your ads within Facebook’s Marketplace. The users presented with these ads are already looking to make a purchase, so are likely to convert.
Stories– shown to users as they’re watching Facebook Stories from their friends or other pages.
You can also opt to have your ads shown on Instagram for increased reach, in two different places:
Feed – appear on a users’ Instagram feed when scrolling through content, and will display a CTA when the user hovers over the post for long enough.
Stories– in the same way as Facebook Stories, these ads will appear while users are watching through their latest Instagram Stories, and you have the option to add CTA’s such as “swipe up to see more” or “learn more”.
This is a cluster of apps and websites participating in Facebook’s advertising programme, which get paid to have your ads appear.
Native, banner, and interstitial – display in different locations within the apps or websites, and graphics can be adjusted to suit the specific layouts.
In-stream videos– this is the same functionality as the Facebook in-stream videos, however videos are located on external sites.
Rewarded videos – specifically designed for gaming apps to showcase what gameplay looks like. It allows the user to test out the game during the ad, before then seeing a CTA prompting them to download.
Covering all bases, Facebook also allows for ads to appear in their Messenger app, in three different locations:
Inbox – users will see a full sized ad when looking through their inbox, amongst all of their messages. These ads look similar to News Feed ads and include a CTA.
Stories– shown in the same way as in the Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories sections.
Sponsored Messages– users will see a message in their Messenger inbox containing a message and a CTA, which makes it look like the brand has contacted them directly.
It’s important to note that some of these placement options won’t be available depending on your campaign objective. So it’s in your best interests to see which options are open to you before deciding which placement method will be most effective for your specific ads.
4. Utilise Facebook remarketing
Remarketing is something that most of us will have come across before, and maybe not even known it. It’s used as a way of targeting people who have browsed your website before, in order to try and catch their attention and prompt them to return to make a purchase.
If you’ve ever been online shopping for a specific product, and later saw an advert for that same product whilst browsing other websites – that’s not a coincidence. The power of remarketing aims to target customers who have shown interest in a product or service, and draw them back to the website to buy. This is done by placing a code on product web pages and using cookies to track visits, then once the user navigates away from the website, the adverts with related offers will follow that particular user around the web.
This is a common practice on Google Ads, using websites within the Google Display Network to display adverts, but you can also do it on Facebook, too. The only difference with this is that the adverts will only show on Facebook. This is also known as “Custom Audiences”, and there are three different options you can choose from to set this up, which we discuss in the next point.
5. Set up a custom audience for your target audience
Marketers are in agreement that Custom Audiences are one of the most essential tools to use when setting up a concrete Facebook ad campaign. So, what do you need to know?
A Custom Audience is an ad audience you can create that includes sections of, or all of your existing customer base. You upload or import a hashed customer list, which Facebook used to match against the people on Facebook to target people already familiar with your brand or business.
This is so important and incredibly useful, in the sense that it’s easier to generate repeat business from your established customers than it is to spend money in the search of new ones.
There are many types of custom audiences that Facebook allow you to create, including:
Customer List / Standard Custom Audiences
A list of emails, phone numbers or Facebook User IDs that Facebook matches with its users, presenting you with a custom audience of Facebook accounts that are already familiar with your business.
Website Custom Audiences
Rather than supplying Facebook with a list of phone numbers or email addresses, you can insert Facebook Pixel tracking code into your website to target any Facebook users who visited specific pages on your site during a set time period.
App Activity Custom Audiences
Generate audiences based on people’s activity on your mobile application. If your business has a dedicated mobile app then you can use this data to create Facebook audiences that get results.
With a Custom Audience uploaded to Facebook, you can use this data to generate a much larger Lookalike Audience that uses the characteristics of your data to target similar Facebook users on a grander scale.
Just remember, if you’re planning on using your customer data as part of a Facebook ad campaign, you need to clearly explain this as part of your data usage policy.
If you already have an active Facebook page, the data you’ve accumulated on it should be considered when it comes to setting up your advertising campaign.
Every Facebook page has an Insights section to view, where you can find detailed information about your page audience and post engagements. You can segment statistics such as page views by age, gender, location and more, as well as find out what type of posts (mainly link, photo, and video) perform the best.
It’s well worth using this organic data when it comes to formulating your advertising campaign. Has your Facebook page performed well with 25-30 year old female users? Maybe this should be something you use when it comes to selecting your campaign audience demographics. Insights shows your video content gets 50% more impressions than your other posts? You’d be on the right path to focus on video content in your paid posts.
This point sort of transcends Facebook ad campaigns specifically, and is actually applicable to PPC campaigns on the whole.
Landing pages are an indispensable part of inbound marketing. If you’re going to put in all of this hard work to drive consistent, high quality traffic to your website… You’re going to want to make sure that you’re pointing people to a webpage that converts them into leads for your business.
Landing pages are webpages set up to specifically capture a visitor’s information through a lead-capture form. The best landing pages will be established with a particular audience in mind, tailored to their browsing habits and presenting the exact information they need to take the desired action.
This Formstack article describes the anatomy of a perfect landing page, running through the key design features to encourage a conversion. It provides best practice advice on headings, call to action buttons, content placement and more. Use it as a reference when building the pages you want to direct your audience to, and you won’t go far wrong.
8. Track your performance metrics and make adjustments
So, you’ve got your ad campaign up and running, but it doesn’t end there. Constantly tracking the performance of your campaign is equally as important as everything you did in the run-up to publishing it.
There’s some information about your promotions in the Facebook Insights section of your page (as detailed above in point #6), but you’ll find the most useful data on Ads Manager. This is where you can tweak your campaign settings, and look at how everything is going.
The most important stats you’ll want to check out are the direct results of the promotion – how many likes, engagements and conversions you’re getting, in comparison to the number of impressions and amount of money spent.
You can go deeper though and see where things are performing best, with graphs breaking down your results and reach by age and gender. If you find things are going better with one demographic than another, it may be worth changing your targeting to direct your budget solely towards where you’re finding success.
You can also segment your data by placement, meaning you can filter your results by device type, and advert locations such as Facebook, Audience Network, Stories, Instagram, and Messenger. Again, if you’re noticing a high conversion rate through ads showing on Facebook stories, but a much lower one on Instagram, you should consider focusing more of your budget on the more successful medium.
Need more help with your Facebook advertising campaign, or want a knowledgeable, experienced team to assist you with running and managing it? Get in touch with Pixel Kicks now for a chat about your marketing needs.
SEO should be an essential part of the copywriting process, but due to the challenging nature and lack of understanding, we often see it neglected.
This is problematic. You could produce some of the most educational, thought-provoking content on the internet but if isn’t fine-tuned to the search engine algorithms then chances are it won’t get the response it deserves.
We’ve explained five fundamental principles that we include in all of the website copy we write. Read on for ways in which you can build a web page that Google clearly understands.
1. Get your keywords into the copy while ensuring density and placement is right
Of course, the purpose of SEO is to appear higher in search engines such as Google when people search for keywords relevant to your website. So, how does Google know that the search term someone has entered is a good match for your website?
It’s down to you to tell them by making sure important keywords about your website appear within your content, but you have to get the balance correct. Your content needs to look completely natural – you’re writing copy with the aim of it being read by site visitors, with the Googlebot not being your target audience. While writing your copy, ensure your keywords do actually appear, but also that they fit into the context and flow of the content.
It’s not just about where you place the keywords though, but also how often you insert them on one page. Keyword density is something very important to keep in mind. Whilst ensuring your keywords appear enough for Google and other search engines to consider your page relevant, it’s also crucial that you don’t over-do it.
Keyword flooding is a black-hat SEO technique, used in the early internet days by site owners to try to improve rankings. The “strategy” would see sites include lists of all the keywords they wanted to rank for, but this was eventually stopped by search engines actively penalising any site that did this. As such, it’s important that your content isn’t too keyword heavy, as you could be seen as keyword stuffing. As long as your post reads naturally, and the keywords don’t seem to have been added in out of context, you’ll be fine.
There’s no proper rule for keyword density, such as an optimum percentage, but there are still ways of knowing how you’re doing. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is the easiest way to track keyword density across a webpage, and can be installed on any WordPress site that is self-hosted for free.
2. Write an optimised page title and meta description
Page titles and meta descriptions are your opportunity to explain the relevance of the page to Google’s bots and the search audience alike.
As well as the copy on the page itself, Google considers the page title as part of its ranking algorithm, and displays the meta description as part of the SERPs (search engine results pages.) Ensure that the page title and meta descriptions are optimised for the keyword that the page is targeting by including the keyword as part of the copy.
The title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of the webpage, and they are the first thing a potential reader will notice when browsing the SERPs. Here, best practice is to find a balance between SEO and generating intrigue. Moz research indicates that magnetic headlines are the way forward.
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that concisely summarise the content of a webpage. While Google did announce back in 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into their ranking algorithm, the snippet is still displayed as part of the SERPs. A good meta description will clearly specify the aim of the page and what a user can expect to gain from reading it.
Meta descriptions can be any length although Google will snip anything over 300 characters. The recommended length is anywhere between 50-300 characters, but a lot will depend on the context of the page and what you are trying to explain to those searching. The most important thing to remember is that the meta description is there to drive clicks by explaining why the page holds value.
Similarly to the first point, Yoast SEO is a copywriter’s best friend. Page titles and meta descriptions can be modified using the plugin.
3. Include external and internal links
That’s right – despite the fact you want people to link to you to aid your link building efforts, it’s also important that you link to other sites yourself. As well as tracking where your traffic comes from, Google’s bots also look at your linking behaviour.
Linking to authoritative, good quality websites can often act as a reference that backs up the statements in your copy, and on the odd occasion could be noticed by the site you’re linking towards, who may choose to link back.
Linking to other pages on your own website is also useful. Doing this can help to improve a number of aspects that can be considered ranking factors. It improves the usability and user experience of your website, enabling site visitors to better browse and locate your content, and can also help to decrease your bounce rate (the amount of users who exit your site after viewing just one page), and increase your website’s average session time. All of these are things that tell search engines that your site is of good quality, something which will help to increase your rankings amongst the many other considered factors.
4. Ensure your text is clear and easy to read
It goes without saying that your content must be readable, but how can you ensure readability is as high as it can be? This can be done in a number of ways, with one key piece of advice being to ensure you write in good English, with minimal spelling and grammar mistakes – ensure your text is accurate, otherwise you’ll give off a poor impression to potential customers visiting your website.
The readability of a page of copy doesn’t always come down to what the actual text says though. It can also be helped by the visual layout of the text. Structure your copy with subheadings and small paragraphs to break it up into smaller, easier to navigate chunks that help readers to find the relevant information they’re looking for.
Another way of making your content more digestible is by adding bullet point lists – short bursts of information in small one sentence portions.
By making your content more readable and easier to understand, you increase the number of users reading the whole thing and can end up with people linking to it as a reference, or users sharing it in another way. As such, your site is seen as a trustworthy authoritative source, helping your Google rankings to rise.
The free Yoast SEO plugin we mentioned earlier also offers page readability scores when you’re writing content – it’s definitely a useful addition to your WordPress site.
5. Include a relevant and effective call-to-action
You’ve considered, drafted and optimised a piece of copy with the expectancy that it ranks highly and pulls in consistent organic traffic – but what then? Have you considered the overall purpose and objective of the page?
If you are producing content with the clear aim of getting more conversions then you simply have to include CTAs.
Call to Action (CTA): a call to action is a piece of content that encourages encourages a reader or listener to perform a specific act. These typically take the form of an instruction, for example, “get in touch today” or “make a donation below.”
They are an important component of any website’s lead generation process and without them, website users will be much less likely to convert as a result of the content you have produced.
Here are some of the different ways in which you can encourage a user to take action:
Bottom of the post
It is important to end blog posts with encouraging the reader to take some form of action. Inspired by the copy you have written, users are presented with the opportunity to get We like to embed a contact form box where possible.
Social media sharing
You can encourage readers to share your content to social media for amplified reach. This works really well for educational pieces that possess a certain value that deserves to be shared – for example, research findings presented in a digestible infographic. You can use ClickToTweet, which empowers readers to share direct to Twitter with a pre formulated caption including a link to the content.
If your content has generated a significant amount of interest, you may wish to capitalise upon that by offering readers the opportunity to subscribe to your blog by joining a mailing list. This is a fundamental for any business that wishes to build up a dedicated audience for their content. Condense the subscription form down to the bare minimum information needed, no long forms and of course, ensure that all data capture is GDPR compliant.
Hopefully we’ve brought some easily implementable changes to your attention. SEO is not a foreign language, we see it as more of an overall process that is applicable to 99% of the website copy we produce. Having a list of crucial rules that can be ticked off when writing something new is a big help, so feel free to add the above five into your future work.
If you have any questions about SEO copywriting, or wish to make a general enquiry, you can do so here.
It feels like everybody is talking about GDPR, specifically in digital business. You’ll have heard those four letters a lot, but what do they actually mean? GDPR is a new regulation coming into effect very soon, that will deal with the ways in which businesses and organisations handle your personal information.
But how is GDPR going to affect you specifically? Whether you’re a small business owner, or manage a large organisation, it’s very important you check up on these new rules, as you could find yourself in a spot of trouble. Chances are you might already be fully compliant without realising it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Everyone is asking the same questions – what is it? What do I have to do? What happens if I don’t follow the new rules?
As such, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions, and have explained everything you should need to know.
GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, a new EU law that was approved in April 2016. It’s the result of four years of plans to improve data protection for the 21st century, and aims to give individuals more control over how their personal information is used by organisations.
When does GDPR come into place?
GDPR came into place on 24th May 2016 after EU members agreed to the key details. However, businesses and organisations aren’t affected by the legislation until 25th May 2018, after which point everyone in all EU member states must be fully compliant.
What are my main responsibilities under the GDPR?
In summary, your main responsibilities as a controller and processor of personal data are:
Ensure that all data is processed in a lawful and transparent manner
Collect data only for specific, explicit purposes
Maintain an accurate collection of up to date data
Hold data for the necessary time needed, and no longer
Use secure data processing methods
This is a summary of GDPR Article 5.
What are the GDPR requirements?
The precise rules of GDPR are very complex, but here are the general requirements broken down simply:
Have all information documented about the personal data you hold, how you gained it, and who has access to it/who it is shared with. Keep full records of your information processing activities
Ensure your procedures are all within the rights of individuals. Procedures such as the deletion of personal data, and the provision of personal data digitally in a common format should be looked into
Ensure your procedures around subject access requests are compliant – if someone requests access to personal information, it must be handled within a month, with no charge (unless it’s an excessive, unfounded request), and if refused, an explanation should be given
Document your lawful basis for gaining personal data within GDPR, and include this in your privacy notice
Check that your procedure for requesting, recording, and managing consent to use personal data is fully compliant with the new GDPR guidelines
Make sure you have procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a breach of personal data
Designate someone within your organisation to take responsibility for data protection compliance
I have an existing email list – how do I make sure this is compliant?
Email lists are all about permission.
You need to ensure that you have received clear consent from all existing customers ,and that you are using their data only for the purposes you have described. If this isn’t the case then you must delete the data. Similarly, delete all information which is not required for the purposes of permission you were given.
You must be able to show, upon demand, how you have received clear consent from the customers you are sending email marketing to.
If any of the above is a worry then you must reach out to these customers to obtain their permission once again. A thorough campaign to have your existing email list re opt-in to your service, with a log of the processes used, will stand you in good stead for the future. Remember to only send opt-in information to those who have given their consent in the first place.
Make absolutely certain that you are holding and processing personal data securely.
I send emails to my customers once a month – what do I need to do?
GDPR isn’t out to make things difficult for people – it’s designed to protect data and stop organisations misusing the information of its individuals. If you’ve been doing things correctly and by the book, chances are you won’t have to do much.
Within email marketing, GDPR brings in three new practices:
How users opt in to email communication is changing. Previous methods aren’t solid enough, which means “soft” opt-ins are no longer allowed. Instead, to cover all bases, it’s recommended by many email marketing experts that you use a “double opt-in” method, such as asking individuals to confirm their email address before they are added to the mailing list. Mailchimp offer GDPR friendly tools to assist you with the process
Perform an audit of your database to ensure you know where the information of your users is stored, and you have details of how they consented to the communication.
Ensure there is a clear way of unsubscribing from your mailing list on every communication you send to it. This should be in the form of a simple link that will instantly remove the user from the list.
For a more detailed look at GDPR & email marketing, click here.
What does the newsletter sign-up form on my website need to say?
In order to make sure your newsletter sign-up forms are compliant with GDPR, you must make the following changes…
Active Opt-In: Users will have to actively opt-in to receive communications or subscribe to newsletters, meaning that any tick boxes regarding contact preferences can no longer be pre-ticked, and must be left blank or “no” as default.
Unbundled Opt-In: Contact preferences/subscribe opt-in boxes must now be completely separate from acceptance of terms and conditions.
Granular Opt-In: You need to give users the option to tailor their contact preferences – i.e. by providing separate tick boxes for Post, Email & Telephone communication, and a separate tick-box to agree to having personal data shared with third-party companies.
Easy to Withdraw Permission or Opt-Out: Users must always have the right to opt-out of communication, and it is recommended that they have the ability to easily withdraw from selective topics, if they don’t want to opt-out altogether.
Naming Third Parties: When asking users to share their data with third parties, each party must be clearly named and an individual tick-box for each.
What constitutes ‘personal data?’
Personal data can be any piece of information related to a person, such as names, contact details (email, address, phone number, etc), bank details, photos, IP addresses and more.
GDPR also concerns information such as biometric data, ethnic origin, race, religion, etc.
What will happen if I don’t comply with GDPR?
As well as individuals who have been affected by your non-compliance being able to take legal action against you to claim compensation, you could be hit by a GDPR penalty.
What are the GDPR breach (non-compliance) penalties?
With the new regulatory change, also comes a new fine regime. There are different penalties for non-compliance, depending on the severity of the breach.
The maximum fine for the most serious infringements (having insufficient customer consent for processing data, or huge security breaches where inadequate protective measures were found, for example) is up to 4% of the company’s global turnover, or €20 million, whichever turns out to be the highest.
For other, less serious breaches (such as inadequate record keeping), companies can be fined up to 2% of their global turnover, or €10 million.
How can I prepare my business for GDPR?
It’s important to ensure that your business is GDPR compliant well ahead of the deadline date, and you may need some time to put some new procedures in place to make this happen. Here are some things to consider…
Inform your employees: It’s crucial that all staff within the company, particularly key employees involved in decision making, are aware of what’s changing and what their responsibilities in the process are. Make sure that everyone knows what they need to do and when, to avoid any disruptions or delays.
Revise what data you’re collecting:Find out what personal data you’ve been holding, and what you’re using it for. The law is cracking down on unnecessary data collection, so it’s important that you’re only collecting and using the information you need.
Check your security breach prevention procedures:Ensure that you have adequate data protection measures in place, in order to be able to detect, respond and report any breaches in accordance with the regulation. Failure to have the appropriate measures in place could incur a penalty in the event of a breach.
Inspect your consent procedure and privacy notices:You might need to update the way you collect, record and manage data consent if they aren’t already compliant with GDPR.
How does my business benefit by complying with GDPR?
Aside from the fact that you will be abiding by new law regulations, GDPR can actually bring many benefits to your business, including:
Improved reputation: Data breaches are happening more than ever, and with the risk of attack being so high, being GDPR certified gives your business an added security factor and will inevitably boost your reputation.
Increase in data quality:New regulations require data controllers to amend any errors that they are made aware of in data stored within a company’s database. Individuals can access and inspect their personal data, and have any necessary changes made to it, therefore improving the accuracy levels of stored information.
Gain valuable insights:Companies are now required to properly process and store personal data, and make decisions about how to use it. By having an organised collection of personal information, it allows companies to get to know their customers more, and provides valuable data that can be used in marketing and sales campaigns.
What individual rights does GDPR provide the public?
Under GDPR, all individuals have the right:
To be informed. This means individuals have the right to be informed about the collection and application of their personal data. You must provide individuals with information that explains the purpose for your data collection.
Of access.This means individuals have the right to access their personal data, and to be aware of how their data is processed.
To rectification.This gives individuals the right to rectify any inaccurate personal data.
To erasure. This gives individuals the right to have their personal data erased, and must be given a clear process on how to do so. This is also referred to as the right to be forgotten.
There are also rights concerning data processing, portability and profiling. You can read more about these here.
Who within my company is responsible for compliance?
Unless you have a designated member of staff, ensuring your business adheres to the main responsibilities of GDPR falls largely down to yourself as a small business owner. This can be quite daunting, and it is why some business owners have chosen to hire Data Protection Officers to oversee a short term audit of their data handling processes.
What is a Data Protection Officer and does my business need one?
Data Protection Officers are responsible for informing employees of their compliance obligations. Essentially, they are employed to monitor any activity within the business that concerns the use or handling of data. This includes organising training for employees.
Data Protection Officers are advised for medium to large scale businesses that handle large amounts of personal data.
I’m only a small business, do I need to worry about GDPR?
No matter the business size or sector, if the organisation is handling personal data then it is critical that GDPR is taken as seriously as possible. A well considered information handling process will reflect extremely well on any business.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has compiled a helpful Data Protection Self Assessment, and they note that this has been put together in the interest of small organisations that wish to analyse their own situation.
Brexit & Further Reading
GDPR is an EU Law – with Brexit on the way, does it apply to the UK?
Even though the UK plans to leave the EU, all businesses here will still need to comply with GDPR. One of the many reasons is because of the crossover period between GDPR being announced, and the UK announcing its intentions to leave.
Plus, plenty of British companies will continue to do business with the EU after Brexit. They will need to comply with the regulations if they wish to do so.
Where can I find good further reading on GDPR?
Not found what you need from our FAQ? Don’t worry. The GDPR Information Portal has been produced to help educate the public in time for the May 25th 2018 enforcement date.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have produced a PDF manual entitled Twelve Steps To Take Now. It provides a checklist of actions you can take to prepare your business.
Our friends at Digitl produced a highly informative webinar with Steve Kuncewicz, and this details how GDPR will impact the eCommerce landscape.
We are hopeful that these FAQs help address the common GDPR queries. If you haven’t found what you’re after, and the further reading hasn’t helped, you are more than welcome to get in touch with us and we will do what we can to help.
We’re always looking for new social media tools to add to our bag of tricks. Over time we’ve come to settle on a select few that really make a difference to the way we do things here at Pixel Kicks; and with such a wide variety of systems out there, we’re always keen to give new features a go on a trial basis.
With that experience behind us we feel comfortable putting together a ten-strong list of vital social media tools. The addition of just one or two of these tools would be helpful for any business that wants to push on with their social media marketing.
There are an abundance of social media management systems across the internet. They are designed to help users manage multiple social media channels from one place. Hootsuite is one of many, and widely received one of the most efficient social media tools for this purpose.
Without logging in and out, users can jump from account to account with the click of a mouse. This enables you to view multiple ‘streams’ of tweets, posts and interactions all from the comfort of one screen. It offers users the ability to cross-post across multiple media channels, add in their mobile app and you’re looking at as accessible a tool as you will find. Hootsuite offer analytical reports sent via email on a weekly basis. They summarise everything from link clicks to follower growth.
Hootsuite is one of the most recognised social media management systems, empowering users to monitor multiple accounts at the same time. Perfect for a business that has a wide reach.
The free plan suits one person perfectly. It allows you to integrate three social media accounts and track them with basic analytical insight. Users can schedule up to thirty social media posts at any one time, in addition to two RSS feed integrations. Hootsuite provide an online help centre that answers practically any FAQ you may have.
Link ‘shorteners’ take long URLs and convert them into neater, tidier options. We find that using shortened links helps with the look and feel of our social media content. This is especially important if we intend to drive traffic to an extended URL.
Creating a link using Bitly is incredibly simple. Users paste a full URL into a box, then sit back as Bitly processes it in a matter of seconds. These links can be branded and optimised to suit your objectives. As you will see, we’re all about social media tools with an emphasis on speed and convenience.
Bitly is more than just a link shortener, it is a social media tool that allows users to track content performance.
Being able to track and compile click data is very useful in terms of campaign analysis. Bitly’s Enterprise service has been built to serve businesses who operate their campaigns on an organisational scale, but the free version should do you just fine if you’re starting out.
The team at Stencil boast that their social media tools are the ‘the fastest way to double your social engagement.’ It’s easy to see why. They offer users a platform to create quick images for social media sharing. The entire product has been designed with ease of use in mind, and Stencil comes packaged with literally millions of free background photos for users to browse.
This works particularly well if you need a nudge in the right direction, as there are hundreds of templates for you to fill with your desired text copy.
With over 2,000 free Google Web Fonts and an integrated Chrome Extension, it’s hard to look past Stencil when it comes to creating clean images for social media.
Stencil advertise their free version as one ‘For The Hobbyist’, which lends itself perfectly to anyone starting out in the world of social media marketing. Without paying a penny users can expect to create up to ten images per month, but Stencil do limit access to the wealth of stock imagery and icons. As you would expect, the paid versions open up wider ranges of features for users to explore.
Marketers need to be able to report back to their clients with the exact information they’re after. DashThis is a simple client reporting tool that allows users to gather data in one convenient report. The reports can then be exported via PDF or emailed direct through the platform.
With DashThis there is the ability to integrate your report with pretty much any data source out there on the web. Once integrated, the data will update in real time to reflect progress across the course of a campaign. This is absolutely crucial if you are working towards key performance indicators.
The beauty behind DashThis is that once the reporting dashboard has been produced and finalised, you are fully set for a report that updates automatically by pulling in real time data. It removes hours of arduous manual reporting.
DashThis offer a fifteen day free trial which means there’s an opportunity there to try it out and play around. The clean design and wide range of data integrations make it our choice for monthly reporting here at Pixel Kicks, and at the prices set, you’d be hard pressed to find more flexible social media tools for reporting.
(Klout deactivated on May 25th, 2018 – Check out Fit Small Business’ social media graveyard for a list of tools that are no longer with us.)
Klout gave users an indication of how influential they are on social media. Social influence is defined as the ‘ability to drive action.’
Once accounts were connected to the system, Klout was able to measure social influence and score it accordingly on a scale of 1-100. It considered a wide range of social activity as part of its algorithm. Those included follower numbers, page likes, social interactions and reviews. Klout also provided a feed of recommended topics for users to explore. Users could stay on trend through this feature.
Users will see their Klout score rise if they are creating content that people want to share and respond to.
Reviewing social media activity is a big plus point. It gives a business the ability to put a solid number behind its social media performance. For businesses that are on the lookout for a social media influencer to work with, Klout provided a method to identify and pinpoint the personalities that are keeping active. Buzzsumo can do that job too, though, so read on for more.
With Buzzsumo, users gain access to a powerful social media tools that highlights popular content types based on topic. This is an essential tool for content marketers that are on the look out for engaging, shareable content for social media. Without a tool like this we would be inclined to trawl through social media platforms, blogs and news sites manually. All Buzzsumo requires is a piece of search criteria, and away it goes.
Users gain access to valuable content insights with breakdowns of what people are talking and searching about online. It delves into where these conversations are physically taking place, which is vital information with regards to planning which social media platforms are optimum for a campaign.
Similarly to Klout, Buzzsumo users can access a range of influencer information to determine who their audience are most likely to listen to.
Audiences have to be at the forefront of every decision you make, and with that in mind, Buzzsumo is a great social media tool to keep your content tailored to their needs.
Buzzsumo is a paid service but regarded as the pinnacle of social listening. There are free alternatives available across the internet and we advise that you have a play around with these before signing up to a full version. Alternatively, Buzzsumo offer a fifteen day free trial.
TweetDeck is one of the most popular social media management tools around. It is a a service dedicated solely to the management of Twitter accounts, and much like Hootsuite, it allows users to monitor various Twitter accounts from one hub as opposed to continually logging in and out. This is helpful If you manage multiple businesses’ accounts as part of your job, or if you operate multiple personal channels.
Features of the TweetDeck tool include post scheduling and cross posting. There are also no limits to the amount of streams that a user has, so you can monitor the activity of the accounts you are following alongside your notifications, mentions and messages.
TweetDeck doesn’t cost anything and is completely free to use. You don’t actually need to make an account, just log in to Twitter and then open up a separate TweetDeck tab.
TweetDeck has been around for years and is one of the trusted, reliable social media tools for management. The organisational tools on offer make TweetDeck a great Twitter-focused alternative to paid platforms like Hootsuite, and the clean layout design means you’ll get used to it in no time.
As the name suggests, Feedly is a feed reader. Feed readers are tools designed to aggregate content in to one clear stream. This makes it possible for users to quickly scan headlines from a variety of different sources. This ability is seen as a huge marketplace advantage because all of the content you need is in one place. It removes the need to continually check websites for updates.
The way it works is quite simple.
First of all you need to create a Feedly account. After that, you needn’t do more than subscribe to the RSS feed (Rich Site Summary) of the website you want to keep in touch with. Feedly will also give you categories that you can explore. Each category will include featured blogs that users can subscribe to instantly. This is an interesting tool for social media as it works to keep you informed and inspired through the blogs you subscribe to.
Feedly’s clean, streamlined look and feel means its an easy option for those who want to can for content they can share across social media.
Feedly’s free plan allows users to build up to three feeds using up to 100 different news sources. For a nominal monthly fee the platform’s services are increased greatly. You will be able to build feeds without limits and set up Google keyword alerts.
Canva offers a similar service to Stencil, but while the latter focuses on the creation of images as quickly as possible, Canva encourages its users to create ‘amazingly simple’ graphics with a professional quality.
While Stencil offers an abundance of stock imagery and icons, Canva has thousands more templates to hand making it perfect for beginners. Canva allow their users to upload their own images which makes it a much more viable choice if you have a particular design already in mind. Their Learn content is a fantastic bank of knowledge offering guidance to those who need a push in the right direction.
You’ll be able to do everything you need to with Canva’s free version. Canva for Work is the next logical step if you’re working in a team. You can invite up to 50 team members to share designs.
No matter if you’re new to design or trained in the field, Canva have created the perfect platform for us all to create stunning social media content, documents and presentations in a straight-forward and simple manner.
You’re familiar with Canva, now meet Fastory. Fastory works like Canva but with the aim of producing interactive social media content for mobile. It pushes users to make the most out of their mobile content with perfectly designed themes that are optimised for a variety of business goals. It’s a great way to elevate your social media campaign to the next level by introducing solid Instagram Story and Snapchat content.
Much like Canva, Fastory has a team management feature where administrators can attribute roles to specific people.
The Fastory editor guides users through three simple steps to create an engaging Instagram story or Snapchat post.
Choose a text animation
Upload a background image or video
Watermark the content with your logo
After publishing the content on Fastory, it will send the post straight to your specified email address. You can then download them on your mobile phone and upload it to your desired social media channel.
Extra – 11. Lumen5
We had to visit this article to tell you about Lumen5, an online video maker that is powered by artificial intelligence to help users generate content from text sources such as blogs.
By simply entering the link of your blog post into the generator, Lumen5 will automatically fetch the copy that works to populate a storyboard for you to edit. From here, creating a video for social media is super easy – factors such as scene length, text positioning and keyword highlighting are all handled directly by the platform’s A.I. removing a lot of work and helping marketers to focus on other areas.
As well as being able to import your own media into a hosted library, users also have access to millions of photos and video clips to help them create the perfect short piece.
These are just ten (well, eleven now!) of the hundreds of worthwhile and helpful social media tools across the internet. If you want to discuss any of these in more detail, or have a general enquiry about social media marketing for your business, you’re more than welcome to drop us an email.
Operating a Facebook page with high-quality imagery drastically improves the perception of your business. Facebook’s algorithm centres around user-experience and, as a result of that, they are appreciative of well optimised content that looks great in users’ news feeds.
Facebook profile pictures display at 180 x 180 pixels on your on computers, and 128 x 128 pixels on smartphones. While profile pictures appear squared on Facebook Pages themselves, keep in mind that they are now cropped into a circular shaped format when shrunk. Make sure the vital elements of your profile picture are centered.
Cover Photo – 851 x 315
As cover photos span the full width of a Page, Facebook state that they must be at least 720 pixels wide. Facebook will stretch any smaller photos to fit this scale. Cover photos load fastest as an sRGB JPG file, 851 x 315 and a file size of less 100 kilobytes. With cover photos there is a huge opportunity to make an immediate impression on a potential customer, so take the time to optimise yours.
Shared Image – 1200 x 630
This is an important dimension as these pieces of content accompany posts made by the Page. Creating for an advert? Keep in mind that Facebook will not allow you to put money behind an image that contains a text coverage of over 20%.
Shared Link – 1200 x 630
Here are a list of guidelines to consider when uploading images shared link images:
Square photos have a minimum upload size of 154 x 154 pixels in the news feed
Square photos have a minimum upload size of 116 x 116 pixels on the Page
Rectangular photos have a minimum upload size of 470 x 246 in the news feed
Rectangular photos have a minimum upload size of 484 x 252 on the Page
Event Cover Photo – 1920 x 1080
Facebook will scale your upload down to 470 × 174 pixels to fit in the news feed, but create an image within the recommended dimensions to ensure a high quality.
Video – 720p (1280 x 720)
The ideal file formats are MOV or MP4. If you upload a video that’s higher resolution than that, it’s fine, but Facebook will downsize the video.
Cover Video – 820 x 462
A fairly recent addition to Facebook Pages saw the introduction of cover videos. They must be a minimum of 820 x 312 pixelsand run from anywhere between 20 and 90 seconds.
Similarly to Facebook, operating a Twitter account with optimised content can cement a strong first impression on yourself or your business.
Twitter profile pictures display at 200 x 200 pixels but we use 400 x 400 as an optimal dimension when creating them, keep in mind that they are now cropped into a circular shaped format so include all key elements as central as possible.
Header Photo – 1500 x 500
While those are indeed the optimal dimensions to create a header within, we always make sure we account for where the profile picture is going to be in relation to the image (the two overlap.)
Have a play around with different text and image orientations. Why not make a secondary, private test account and upload assets there first?
Shared Image – 1024 x 512
These are the maximum dimensions that Twitter can cater a shared image for. Images appear in users’ streams collapsed at506 x 253 pixels on desktop. Maximum file size of 5 MB for photos.
Video – 1280 x 1040
Aspect ratio should be between 1:3 and 3:1. Frame rate should be 40fps or less. File size should not exceed 15 mb (sync) / 512 mb (async.)
GIF – 1024 x 512
Maximum file size of 5MB for mobile and 15MB on desktop.
Instagram is, of course, all about making as much of a visual impact on your audience as possible. So perhaps even more so here than on any other platform, the focus needs to be on creating stunning imagery that fits the optimum dimensions.
As with Twitter, Instagram photos are cropped into a circular area so ensure that key elements are centred. Your profile photo shows up next to all of your posts and at the top left of your page. Use a logo if you have one.
Photo – 1080 x 1080
As photos appear on your profile in a 161 x 161 grid format, we recommend that you create content in square format (1080 x 1080.) The helps to provide consistency and means you can grid your uploads. This doesn’t mean you can’t upload images in a landscape format, but keep the height at 1080 as that is the optimum.
Video – 1080 x wide
Instagram prefers MP4 formats, at a maximum duration of 1 minute and file size of 15MB.
Instagram Story – 1080 x 1920
This image dimension is portrait-orientated and work well for Instagram Story content. Videos will also need to be created at this size, in MP4 format. Utilise Instagram Story to display your company culture, a sort of behind the scenes insight into your business.
As the primary B2B social media platform, LinkedIn possesses incredible value with regards to making industry connections. That said, it is imperative that your accounts are populated with striking, professional images.
LinkedIn will not accept any file larger than 8MB, and they will only accept JPG, PNG or GIF file types. Company logos should be centred.
Personal Picture – 400 x 400
LinkedIn will not accept any file larger than 8MB, and they will only accept JPG, PNG or GIF file types. Personal profile photos should simply be your face, while company photos should be a logo.
Company Cover Image – 1584 x 768
LinkedIn will not accept any file larger than 8MB, and they will only accept JPG, PNG or GIF file types. To ensure that your profile background looks how you planned it to we advise that you test a variety of different designs, as some files may be scaled upwards or downwards.
Personal Background Photo – 1584 x 396
This replaces the cover photo at the top of your profile page. This is quite an awkward, oblong style and as such it is hard to find an image that works – that’s why we recommend taking the time to create your own, optimised visuals.
Shared Image – 698 x 400
These are the optimum dimensions for a LinkedIn shared image. This is an important dimension as these images form the basis of any post that is made to your personal, or business LinkedIn page. Keeping to these dimensions will ensure that the image looks correct in users’ news feeds.
Shared Image – 256 x 144 up to 4096 x 2304
LinkedIn support ASF, AVI, FLV, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, MKV, QuickTime, WebM, H264/AVC, MPEG-4, VP8, VP9, WMV2, and WMV3 file types. There is a max file size of 5GB, and max duration of 10 minutes.
Pinterest is an interesting social media platform that operates as an image search tool. Therefore, image optimisation is paramount prior to uploading.
Pinterest is one of few social media platforms that does not give users a cover photo for their page, so make sure to maximise the potential of your profile picture. Remember, also, that it will appear as a 32 x 32 pixel image on other Pinterest pages. Make sure it is still a legible image when shrunken.
Standard Pin – 600 x 900
Pinterest’s layout is more portrait-orientated, and so vertically optimised images tend to perform better and receive greater engagement.
Giraffe Pin – 600 x 1560
Giraffe pins share the same width as a standard post but are created with a significantly greater height span. These images have to go above and beyond by providing significant value. Think infographics.
Tumblr is a blogging platform for users to share rich content and build communities around topics they love.
Avatar – 128 x 128
This photo will be displayed in a small, square format next to Tumblr posts. It is embedded alongside the username when users are searching, too. Much like Pinterest, Tumblr offers no option for a cover photo – however, there are plenty of blog themes to give your page a personal look and feel. Base your avatar on that for consistency purposes.
Image Post – 500 x 750
Tumblr’s maximum is 1280 x 1920 however in the feed, images are displayed at 500 x 750.
Snapchat connects businesses with their audiences through purely visual content. While the bulk of activity on Snapchat centres around images taken there-and-then via a mobile phone camera, you may wish to prepare some content for ad purposes.
Snapchat Ad – 1080 x 1920
The maximum ad length is 10 seconds, and the maximum file size is 32MB.
If you want to discuss content creation in more detail, or have a general enquiry about social media marketing for your business, you’re more than welcome to get in touch.
A self-employed freelancer, a young digital marketing upstart, a small-business owner and a head honcho of a corporation: what have they all got in common?
The chances are that they have all considered both the glorious advantages and cautious dangers of social media for business.
Now let’s set one thing in stone from the start, the benefits of social media marketing are plentiful. The advantages have been well-championed across the internet, and quite rightly so, as it has proven to be an altogether cost-effective marketing tool that should be utilised by whomever, wherever possible; yet similarly to the offline world there are dangers to be considered when branding and marketing a business through social media.
Here are, in a cosy, bite-sized list, are five key dangers of social media in business.
1. Facebook’s Organic Reach is practically non-existent
Have you ever considered just how many posts are being made on social media per day? Have a guess, then watch the live statistics for some of the top social channels.
The key social platforms are in a current state of content shock, which essentially means that there is far too much content being posted online than can be consumed by the users. The theory,explained perfectly here, is a simple case of supply and demand which has led to a sharp decline in the organic reach of content.
Facebook defines organic reach as “how many people you can reach for free by posting to your page.” This seems simple enough. You create a page for your business, build yourself an audience and post your content out to them, right?
Unfortunately the situation is far more complex.
The landscape of Facebook marketing is predominantly pay-to-play, and it has been for a number of years now. Facebook bosses have chosen to commercialise their platform by placing a news-feed preference on the businesses who put capital behind their content. Failing to explore the possibilities of post sponsorship is a dangerous game to play.
The longer it takes to create content for Facebook, the more money should be put behind it. Give it the reach it deserves.
2. Branding and engagement often get forgotten about in the pursuit of traffic
It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating content, posting it out and waiting for the click-throughs to flood in. Unfortunately, the days of pushing out an entirely commercial message are long gone. You must make your content engaging. You need people to click on it. The danger here is that a failure to do so will result in your posts becoming practically invisible.
The aforementioned content shock has led to social feed algorithms that filter consumers’ social experiences, tailoring the feeds to display only the pages they engage with the most (the most recent Facebook algorithm update has seen them place a preference on posts that link to a fast-loading website, it also prioritises family and friends’ posts.)
Simply put, if you are failing to provide engaging content to your audience then your page will fail. With so much information being thrown at the consumer, you have a duty to place an emphasis on brand development as opposed to revenue chasing.
This study courtesy of Sprout Social indicates that the most unfollow-worthy action a social page can carry out is saturating their feed with a commercial message:
Why people unfollow brands, based on their social media actions.
Take Adidas as a goliath example, rarely does their Twitter feed express a CTA. Rather than using their feeds to drive traffic they choose to focus on creating sharp content that reinforces their brand.
With social media’s role to play as a referral source weakening, it is becoming clearer that the tool should be used to strengthen brand image instead. In fact, this is what the general social audience expects of you in 2017. This can be done by:
Replying to customers. Customer interaction is the key to executing a sturdy business plan as it helps to develop a consumer-business relationship.
Producing content that they want to share. Every post should have a shareable factor. If that’s outside of your skill set, provide incentives to the consumer base in the hope that they will share the content. Simple retweet competitions are a very effective mechanism to enable this.
Having fun with what you post. Make it noticeable that effort has been put into the management of the account. If your social feeds come across like an online Yellow Pages ad, they will be treated as such.
3. Diving in without doing your research can end up messy
Every marketing plan should start with an analysis of the business’ current position, as well as a further analysis of the key online competitors. A failure to do so can result in lethargic content that fails in its performance, a key danger in social media marketing.
The basis of any social campaign should start with a simple, effective S.W.O.T Analysis:
In brief, how we approach business analysis
“SWOT analysis is a process that identifies an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats” – Investopedia
The model provides a sound basis for the analysis of both yourself and your competitors, as it allows you to compare and contrast a set of strengths and weaknesses to determine what level you need to reach with your marketing campaign (the minimum target should be to keep pace with your competitors.) Further, it gives a business the opportunity to optimise a plan by focusing on its intrinsic qualities whilst trimming any past failings away. Without any form of research on the business’ prior social performance, there is no basis through which progress can be tracked.
It is also worthwhile to develop an understanding of some key social media terms. Take your time to have a flick through the analytics pages for the channels you are using, or have a read through a someblog posts to get a brief understanding from the industry experts. A considered approach towards the performance of your page means you can track your progress, or the ROI on your paid posts more efficiently.
4. User generated content can be dangerous
User generated content, by its very definition, is a type of content created when consumers interact with a brand initiative. This usually involves inviting consumers to engage with a hashtag or digital platform, branded content will then be displayed on their personal social media accounts, essentially doing your digital marketing for you.
Simpler forms of UGC are easy to manage, such as customer testimonial tools and hashtag campaigns; however, history indicates that complex UGC campaigns take businesses down a path of social media danger.
Back in May 2017, Walkers crisps ran an innovative Twitter campaign dubbed ‘#WalkersWave’ that invited users to send selfies in a competition for UEFA Champions League Final tickets. The selfies would then be randomly digitally-imposed onto video content with long-time brand ambassador Gary Lineker. At least, that was the aim.
The result of the campaign was an infamous hijacking courtesy of the Twitter community.
It was a stark reminder of the dangers that user generated content brings with it, things can spiral out of control – fast. In this case, the auto generation of the posts was detrimental because there was no moderation in place. After that crisis, you would think that creative agencies collectively went back to the drawing board? Lessons were surely learnt.
Earlier this month, The National Lottery ran a very similar Twitter campaign to create engagement with sports fans, thanking them for their support during the World Athletics Championships. Here’s an example, albeit a rare one, of the campaign working effectively:
In principle this is a fantastic idea. Just by retweeting (which in turn raises brand awareness for The National Lottery), users are sent personalised video content that is sent straight to their mentions.
However, the automated process grabbed the users’ account name as the basis for the content. Large sections of the Twitter community exploited this.
Some users exploited the campaign to share light-hearted football humour.
Others took advantage of the loophole to spread insulting messages, with this take on the Munich Air Disaster of 1968 being one of the tamer examples available.
The National Lottery apologised profusely for the mix up, but one wonders who signed off on the idea in the first place.
We are aware that some people are maliciously targeting our British Athletics Twitter campaign with offensive and abhorrent content. (1/2)
5. No matter your business size, establish brand guidelines early
As part of any social media plan it is essential that a series of guidelines are set. These help aid employees in keeping true to your desired direction, and ensure that your online presence remains consistent across a multi-channel approach.
Here are three points worth considering when putting a brand guideline together:
Set out a content calendar:
Planning out your content for the months ahead helps a business to make sure they are hitting key dates, by organising their content and effectively distributing resources to fit the calendar. Establishing a content calendar is proof that organisation is the key to success.
Decide on a post ratio and stick to it:
Are you of the ‘less is more’ persuasion, or would your social channels benefit from a fast-and-frequent approach? Decide on what is the optimum for your business and stick to it. Having a concrete post ratio means both yourself, and your employees know exactly what output is expected.
Confirm a tone and a voice:
With so much focus on creating content with top visual quality, tone and voice often get overlooked. Consistency is key, and that is especially true with regards to the text you put out online. A lot of it depends on your audience, are you looking to develop a corporate look and feel or would you benefit from going off-the-cuff?
While the majority of fast food restaurants use their social channels as a customer service platform and advertising tool, Wendy’s execute a sarcastic tone perfectly. Not only does this set them apart from the rest of the competition, but it provides a human element to their responses that leaves the consumer feel like they are being talked to by a person rather than a brand.
Limit human error:
Human error is ultimately unavoidable, but it is a danger of social media that can be limited by putting procedures in place. The assignation of clear roles within the process is a great start, at a bare minimum all posts should be cleared by a senior who has final responsibility for the output.
Social media is an extremely powerful tool, but at the slip of a finger, you can take two steps backwards. By ensuring an internet etiquette is maintained you lower the risk of a PR crisis.
Social media campaigns play a big part in what we do here at Pixel Kicks, after all, a crisply designed website needs a strong social presence alongside it.
Have any questions regarding your own social media strategy? We’re happy to discuss how you can avoid the dangers of social media directly with you. Contact us here.
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