Author: Emma Clure

Digital Marketing Executive at Pixel Kicks, focusing on SEO, PPC and Social Media.

8 essential features every high converting landing page has

Do you want to drive more conversions through your PPC campaign? Creating an effective landing page is the key.

For any business, spending money on a PPC campaign which generates a high click-through rate but falls short on conversion rate is ultimately a waste of budget.

You might have amazingly written, compelling ads but that’s not doing much for you if the conversions aren’t coming through. If this is the case, it’s likely that your landing pages aren’t up to scratch.

What is a landing page?

Landing pages are different to regular pages on your website, in that they are created specifically with one goal in mind – to generate conversions from an advertising or marketing campaign.

In comparison to any other page on your website which will usually contain a number of different internal links and features to encourage users to browse other content on your site, landing pages are purpose built around directing the user towards one single call-to-action relevant to your campaign.

Wayoo Landing Page

Landing pages are typically only accessible via a direct link, whether that’s from within a marketing email or an advertisement on an online platform such as Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any similar networks. 

Do I need to create a landing page?

The simple answer to this is, no. Technically speaking, any page on your website can be a landing page, but if you want to get the most out of your campaigns and increase the number of conversions then spending a bit of time working on a goal specific page is optimal.

Chances are, you’ve got a homepage that perfectly showcases your brand and its offering, so you may be tempted to direct all of your traffic straight there. However, it’s important to bear in mind that by doing that, users are then free to navigate through your entire site, which can therefore take them away from making a purchase, signing up or making an enquiry.

By minimising all of the clutter that can come from a website homepage and streamlining your offering into a standalone page focused on the goal at hand, you’ve immediately increased your chances of customers completing the desired call-to-action, therefore resulting in a higher conversion rate from your campaign – and that’s what we all want, right?

The first step towards achieving this goal is to create a good, effective landing page.

Stripe payment landing page

What makes a good landing page?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to landing pages, and it would be near impossible to find the ‘perfect’ landing page template and apply it to any campaign.

While all landing pages share the same conversion-driving goals, what exactly these goals are and how they are generated will be dependent on many differing factors such as target audience, brand and the desired action you want users to take.

This means that to really create the perfect landing page, you’ll have to put in a bit of time, research and possible A/B testing to figure out what works for you. 

Fortunately, it’s not rocket-science and there are a few staple features of all good, persuasive landing pages which you should look at including to get it off the ground.

1. A clean design

Once a user has landed on your page, the first thing they will notice is the look and feel of the overall design, so first impressions count here. This plays a huge part in the effectiveness of any landing page. 

As mentioned earlier, landing pages should be clutter-free. The main aim is to make it as easy as possible for users to convert, so the last thing you want to be doing is creating too many distractions on the page that may just take them away from completing the desired action. This means removing any pop-ups, providing only the necessary information to avoid overwhelming the consumer and keeping the navigation and links to a minimum.

Clean landing page design

A clean and minimal design is always favourable, and it’s generally best practice to pick out key bits of information and secure them above the fold. This will stop you from offering too much too soon and overwhelming the user with more information than they can handle. Ensure that the first thing they see is easy to digest, and reserve the more thorough descriptions for further down the page.

In short, organisation is the key here. You can’t beat a simple layout with easy to read and informative text, visually appealing videos/graphics and clear call-to-actions. Landing pages are perfectly suited to the phrase “sometimes, less is more.”

2. Consistent branding

You want to look at your landing page as a sort of stripped back version of your website. While landing pages should have a noticeably different look to other pages on your site in terms of having a simpler design, it’s crucial that they’re in-keeping with your branding.

Although it may be tempting to ‘go all out’ with your landing pages and produce a knock-your-socks off type of design to wow visitors, it’s important to stick to your brand guidelines. It’s likely that a lot of time and effort has been put into creating and promoting your brand, so you want it to be instantly recognisable to the consumer upon landing on your page.

See Canva’s landing page below for inspiration:

Canva landing page

Ensure that your landing pages are consistent with your overall look by using the same colour scheme, typography, logo and creative elements as you would across your website and other digital properties.

Be sure not to overlook minor details such as a clearly visible logo and the same favicons across all pages in order to strike an instantly recognisable connection between your brand and the consumer.

3. Great visuals

While it’s imperative that the page has easy to read text and clear call-to-actions, don’t overlook the visual appeal that should be presented to the user. The human eye naturally gravitates towards visually attractive graphics, images and videos so your landing pages are a great opportunity to take advantage of this to further upsell your services.

Here are some of the most effective visual elements and how you can use them on your landing page to increase conversions:


Enhancing the way you display text on your landing page with the use of icons is a simple and effective way to engage the reader and draw their attention to key pieces of information.

They can either be used to emphasise an important section on the page alongside plain text, or even to replace what could have been written in text, with a more visually appealing representation of what you’re trying to say.

See how Unbounce have used icons to make their key benefits stand out:

Unbounce Landing Page Icons


Including illustrations or diagrams can be a great way to tell a story without being too text-heavy. They stand out and can make it easier for the user to take in a wealth of information all in one go.

Here’s an example from Freshworks who have utilised illustrations to their advantage to show comparisons between their software and competitors:Freshworks landing page illustration

Videos & animations

Many of us can agree that upon landing on a web page, if we see something that’s moving – it’s hard not to watch. Animated graphics and videos are intriguing to say the least, as we’re programmed to want to see what’s next.

According to EyeView, relevant videos can increase conversions by 86%. It’s not a surprising statistic as videos are powerful pieces of content that draw the reader in, but it’s certainly one to bear in mind and take full advantage of whilst designing your landing page.

This example from Vimeo demonstrates perfect use of eye-catching and informative animations:

Animated video on landing page


Every high converting landing page includes images of some sort, as it’s no secret that images are a powerful visual component of just about any web page. However, careful consideration should be taken when choosing images for your landing pages, as they could make the difference between sales and no sales.

If you’re selling a product, including high quality shots of said product is a must. Give consumers everything they want to see. Sharp and crisp images that show it off to its full potential, the view from different angles and maybe even offer images of the product in different settings if relevant.

Apple MacBook Air Landing Page

When promoting a service, choose relevant images that are powerful enough to grab the users attention and give them a reason to stick around to find out more. One thing’s for sure, this is the time where you want to avoid generic stock photos at all costs. Be original, and showcase imagery that complements your brand.

While consumers love to see great visual components, be strategic in your approach and ensure that they not only complement your design aesthetics, but are useful and assist in your goal to encourage users to take action.

4. An effective headline

You’ve already convinced your audience that your services are worth checking out with effective ads, but now you need to give them a reason to stay.

While you’ve already won the bidding war against your competitors, there’s no saying that you’ve secured your conversion just yet. The first thing users will see is the headline on your landing page, so you want to make it good.

By good we mean clear, straight and to the point. Fancy won’t work here. Keep it short and sweet, and to the point.

Mailchimp landing page headline

When looking to create an effective headline, you won’t go far wrong by ensuring that it includes these three main characteristics:

  • Clarity – Describe exactly what you’re offering in a few words, don’t make the user try to guess what’s going on.
  • RelevancyKeep in mind what your ad text says. This is what enticed the user to your website in the first place, so make sure your landing page message matches what was promised in the ad.
  • EmpathyPeople want to see that you’re a solution to their problem, so it’s always key to ensure that your headline addresses the issue, and offers them exactly what they’re looking for. Empathise with them, show them that you’re the answer to their prayers.

Now that you know the foundations of a strong headline, let’s take a look at the different ways that you can create yours:

Ask a question – You want this to strike a chord with the user, so present them with a question that both resonates with your audience and is relevant to your offering. Finish by writing the answer in the subheading and peak their interests by doing so.

Promote your unique value proposition (UVP)What does your service offer that similar ones don’t? How will this benefit the consumer? Make sure this is the first thing they see, don’t be shy to let the user know what they’ll be missing out on if they don’t opt-in.

Unbounce Landing Page

Include a statisticIf you’ve got some proven results from your software/service, now is the time to show them off. Adding value to your proposition via numbers in a headline such as “Improve your efficiency by 60% with manageable workloads” is almost a way of proving its worth, and a great way of grabbing attention.

Encourage an action – Promote your call-to-action straight from the off. This works particularly well if you’re offering a free trial. Start with how they will benefit from your software, and finish with “Start your free trial today”.

Start with a “how to” – Simple and effective, a “how to” headline offers consumers an instant solution to their problems. It doesn’t need to include the phrase itself, but it will simply state that what they’re looking for, you’ve got it. For example, those looking to find out how to start an online business may be greeted with Shopify’s straight forward headline “Sell online with Shopify”, followed by their statement of trust.

Shopify PPC Landing Page

Creating the perfect headline might not always happen the first time around, so it’s a good idea to conduct an A/B test on your different options, and get a gauge of the conversion rates which follow.

5. Well written copy

Now that you’ve nailed down the design and layout of your landing page, it’s time to focus on the text. While you’re not trying to get your landing pages to rank for SEO, you are trying to convince the user that they’ve clicked on the right ad, and your products/services are exactly what they need.

The text on your landing page is your key to driving conversions. In order to get users to fill in that contact form, sign up for their free trial or buy your product, your content needs to be well written, persuasive and convincing.

Here are some top tips for writing effective landing page copy:

Keep it concise
Most users don’t have the time to spend scrolling down a needlessly long page and reading through paragraphs and paragraphs to find out the information they’re looking for. Keep your audience’s attention span in mind while writing your copy and stick to the important information without overwhelming them with unnecessary space filling text.

Here you can see that InVision include everything they need above the fold, without the need to scroll. While this isn’t necessary for everyone, it works well for some.

InVision Landing Page

Keep it relevant
Don’t forget the user journey that it takes to find your landing pages – through your PPC ads. Take a look at your ad copy and apply the same language to your landing pages. You want to make sure that the customer knows they’ve clicked through to the right place, so keep it relevant to your ads. 

Promote the benefits, not the solution
This can be a tough one to crack, as it’s easy to want to push your products/service as a solution over and over again. However, if you’ve executed your ad copy and landing page headline properly, the user will already know that you’re offering a solution. Now, you want to focus on the benefits you’re providing. How are you doing it better than your competitors? Let them know what sets you apart from the rest.

A good example of this is Spotify’s PPC Landing Page which clearly emphasises the benefits of their premium service:

Spotify Landing Page

Be human
Promoting a brand doesn’t have to be all robotic language and big words. In fact, that’s usually a bit boring and not very engaging at all. Throw out the rule book, and write like a human. Use humour and be funny if relevant to your offering, just try to write with a more personal approach and you’re guaranteed to connect more with your audience.

Ask for conversions
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. The sole aim of your landing page is to drive conversions, and all of your copy should revolve around getting the user to take action. Sometimes us humans need to be told what we need to do, so it really is as simple as asking them to “buy” or “sign up” throughout the page.

With all of that in mind, make sure your copy is actually interesting and engaging. Try to steer clear from typical, generic content if you want to stand out from the crowd and give the reader something worth reading. 

6. Clear call-to-actions (CTAs)

The sole purpose of a landing page is to make visitors convert. So, what would a landing page be without call-to-actions? If it’s not already apparent enough by now, it’s important to stress that call-to-actions (CTAs) are the most crucial element of any landing page.

Your entire landing page is geared towards drawing the visitors attention to your call-to-action, so it needs to be prominent. Don’t hide it away in the footer, don’t make users search for it. Make it one of the first things they set their eyes on, and make it big. They won’t find it if it doesn’t stand out.

Here are some top tips for creating a high converting CTA:

Use a button
Think of a button as a universally recognised conversion signal. It’s obvious to know what to do when you see a button, so this tried and tested CTA method is almost a foolproof way of driving an action. Now is not the time to experiment with different techniques, stick with the standard button and you won’t go far wrong.

Make it stand out
Straying from your dedicated colour scheme is more than acceptable when it comes to your CTA. Buttons need to stand out, and by doing so that generally means making it a contrasting colour to the rest of your design. After all, it won’t be as visible if it blends in.

See the way Elementor chose a contrasting green colour to highlight their CTA:

Elementor Landing Page

Use compelling copy
Believe it or not, the actual text you add to your button is the most important copy that will sit on your page. Avoid using generic CTAs such as “submit” or “buy it now” and instead come up with an exciting and persuasive phrase or word that will make the user want to click.

Keep contact forms short
It can be tempting to want to collect as much information as possible from visitors, but when the goal is to make them want to fill in the form in the first place, less really is more. Presenting users with a lengthy form can be off-putting, and make them less likely to convert. Stick to the minimum number of fields, and collect any further information you may need later down the line.

Uber’s landing page is a great example, requiring visitors only to fill out 5 fields of important information:

Uber Landing Page Contact Form

In short, your CTAs need to be bold and eye-catching. It’s simply not enough to have a great design and well-written copy if the user doesn’t know what action they’re supposed to take, or where they can find the form.

7. Add contact information

For a user, clicking on a paid ad and landing on a website unknown to them can sometimes make them a little wary of the legitimacy of the business. Of course, not everything is as it seems on the internet nowadays so this cause for concern is real, and completely understandable.

Don’t put visitors in a place where they’re searching for information on whether you’re legit or not, instead make it easy for them to see on your landing page.

This is as simple as including methods of contact such as a phone number, a physical address, an email address or a contact form. These key pieces of information are powerful in reassuring customers that you are in fact a real company.

Twago Enterprise is a great example. Instantly you can see that they’re contactable via WhatsApp:

Twago Enterprise landing page

Essentially, beyond your call-to-actions, you’re looking to make it as easy as possible for users to get in contact with you, and should you provide a number of different methods of contact you may just secure a conversion that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

8. Include Testimonials

88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations –

If that doesn’t emphasise the importance of testimonials, then nothing will. Nowadays, many of us are hesitant about buying a product, booking a hotel or restaurant, or signing up for a service without checking out the reviews first. It’s human nature, but it just goes to show that for consumers, reading good or bad reviews can make or break their decision to take action.

With the trust that consumers instill in reviews, including testimonials on your landing page can be a great way of increasing conversions. Letting users read real experiences from real people can have a huge influence over their buying decisions.

For example, this is how Freshdesk utilise testimonials on their landing page:

Freshdesk testimonials on landing page

Consider either making them prominent on the page to shout about your rave reviews, or include a selection of quotes on a slider that users can scroll through at their own leisure. If there’s one thing you want to do with your landing page, it’s to help the user to make an informed decision to sway them towards converting and this seems to be a sure-fire way of doing so for many businesses.

Don’t forget, there is no ‘perfect’ landing page template. What works for one business might not work for another. However, by sticking to the basic fundamentals listed above, take the opportunity to test out different layouts, features and copy to see what works for you.

Looking for help with your PPC campaign? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 0161 713 1700 or send us a message via our enquiry form, and one of our team will be happy to talk you through what we can do for you.

SEO Trends 2020: The insight from industry professionals

himalayan mountains

It’s now more important than ever to make sure you’re keeping up with the continually changing SEO landscape if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.

Frequent changes in search algorithms and the development of new search engine optimisation techniques means it can be easy to fall behind if you don’t stay clued up on the latest going ons in the SEO world.

The start of a new year usually marks the beginning of new, major SEO trends that you should look to implement in your strategy if you want to stay effective and present on Google.

Back in 2017, we got in touch with a number of SEO experts and dedicated agencies to see how they thought search optimisation trends would change and develop going into 2018. Read more: SEO Trends in 2018

SEO has evolved substantially since then, with the introduction of things such as voice search and mobile-first indexing, so we thought it was a good time to revisit this and gather thoughts from experts in the industry throughout the UK and Ireland on what they expect to see happening in 2020. We asked them:

“What trends in search engine optimisation do you expect to see develop in 2020 and beyond?”

Popular topics and things to look out for include:

  • Rich and Featured Snippets
  • Local SEO
  • Google’s changing algorithms
  • Content marketing
  • Optimising for Voice Search

Here’s what they had to say…

Lee Wilson, Vertical LeapLee WilsonVertical Leap

The growth in wearable technology, mobile and home assistants/speakers adoption by the general public means that SEO is becoming a much larger and more varied part of everyday marketing for businesses of all sizes.

In 2020 and beyond SEO will continue to broaden its range of actions, focus areas and outputs to include increased direct impact on:

  • Conversational search
  • Online and offline integrated marketing
  • Usability and audience engagement
  • Content accessibility, reach and creation
  • Data-driven decision making and strategy outside of traditional SEO remits
  • Technical website performance

The data-fuelled mentality that businesses are embracing more every year has brought SEO back to the fore, and I see this increased awareness of the value and contribution of SEO for business to become a new norm for companies regardless of size, budget and previous SEO success.

If we move from the user to search engines and Google specifically, in-SERP optimisation will continue to expand in the realms of visibility and brand value, with CTR and clicks potentially tailing off when companies are close to their core brand exposure on closely matched topic areas. Practically this can be seen with in-SERP provision of complete query answers within the results, growing rich features (types and volume), plus related items such as booking functionality without landing on external websites.

This will require businesses to change their approaches towards SEO to encompass in-SERP optimisation as much as traditional search and discovery optimisation.

Steve Deane, Nu StudioSteve DeaneNu Studio

I think there will be a massive push towards better quality link building. I’m seeing a massive increase (again) in paid link building. It’s a real shame because this new breed of link builders obviously missed the Penguin slam of 2012. Paid links are bad news. News links are the best, and will never be penalised. Create great content, news links to that content, and there’s not much you can’t rank for.

Paul Lambden, SEO ReadingPaul LambdenSEO Reading

Featured snippets are said to appear in position 0 on the search engine results page. That is, above the other 10 listings. Personally I’m not sure how to feel about them as they have the potential to stop people from visiting your site entirely. If the question your company answers is answered before a click, how can that be good for your company? As always, the right answer for your company will depend on what your company does and how you and your customer interact online.

I would consider local SEO to be one of my key areas of expertise. Both myself and the vast majority of my clients only offer our services to the immediate local area, meaning the quirks of local SEO are more important to us than most. It’s now more important than ever for these ‘local companies’ to get ‘local social proof’ directed at their websites in order to increase their rankings in the local area, whether that’s a town, county or region.

As nobody knows how Google’s algorithm will change before it happens, I usually don’t think about it until I read that it has just happened. That said, it doesn’t change my approach to SEO. Trends in user behaviour are easier to react to, with more warning and time to implement, than a sudden Google algorithm change.

A few years ago I didn’t think voice search would catch on, but now a good proportion of my friends have an Alexa and/or use Google voice search on their mobiles. Over the last year or two I have been subtly editing content on my website to include more long-tail keywords and quotes to match up with potential customer voice queries. When using a keyboard people will often type the shortest possible query, whereas voice queries will be longer and grammatically different.

amazon echo

Alex Toma, BreaklineAlex TomaBreakline

There’s no doubt that SEO is constantly changing, some methods and standards that worked years ago are obsolete today. In 2020, SEO will continue to change and adapt to new standards set by the search engines.

Since content is at the centre of all, and there’s a lot of high-quality content on the web, I think the focus will shift more towards the delivery.

I think structured data, mobile-friendliness, page speed and website security will gain more attention in 2020 and the years to come.

In terms of Local SEO, having a well optimised Google My Business listing will become far more important for local businesses.

Giorgio Cassella, EvolutedGiorgio Cassella, Head of MarketingEvoluted

I’m anticipating a higher percentage of searchers will move away from Google to challenger search engines as they become more privacy driven and aware of the data search engines and other entities are storing about them. International media focusing on data privacy and large-scale breaches are only going to help fuel the fire behind this. Combined with growing political pressures, I believe we’ll see organizations like Google offering new options for reducing the amount of data searchers disclose in order to retain users.

I highly doubt enough people will move away from Google to make an impact immediately but, with many industries seeing 10%+ of their traffic coming from ‘alternative’ search, if the trend continues, it will become something for them to worry about.

Secondly, whilst more of a hope than a prediction, I would like to see an end to the spread of the no-click SERP “fear-mongering” that’s infecting SEO. I don’t dispute that it’s an issue to be aware of, especially for publishers, however, the majority of businesses relying on SEO as a revenue-driving traffic source are isolated from its effects. Unless Google starts selling products through an in-SERP checkout system, I’d be more worried about Instagram as an incumbent threat to steal revenue-generating users.

Bowler HatMarcus MillerBowler Hat

Search has changed a lot over the last couple of years. To understand what smart forward-thinking SEO strategies look like in 2020 and beyond, we have to consider the ever-changing landscape:

  • No click searches are growing
  • Organic CTR is trending downward
  • Ads see up to 65% of clicks for commercial terms

All that said, organic CTR is still 10x that of paid on mobile and 20x of paid on desktop – so the organic traffic opportunity is still up to 20x that of paid.

So, the big trend, certainly in the SEO strategies we are putting together for our clients at Bowler Hat, is to really understand and leverage a range of SERP features: local, organic, commercial, informational, featured snippets, people-also-ask, local image results, image results etc. What we tend to do is really survey the landscape for each client and identify all possible opportunities. We then work on an approach that aims to drive exposure and clicks from all of the myriad facets of the modern SERPs.

The big takeaway is that we focus on generating as much exposure and traffic as possible through informational search queries and then integrate this with lead gen whilst leaning into Google Ads for commercial search queries.

These are the broad brush strokes but then it just varies so much for each client.

mobile SEO

Loom DigitalHannah GardinerLoom Digital

In 2020, technical SEO will be more crucial than ever, especially site speed. As 5G gets rolled out nationwide, Google will need sites to be faster than ever. 5G will also bring local search to the forefront, meaning mobile sites also need to be quicker to help return local results on the go.

For content marketing, there will be a bigger trend towards “content experience” strategies, with content deliberately crafted to perform well on different devices, channels, and platforms. Customising content in this way will be crucial in helping generate a stronger ROI from content marketing campaigns.

Sukhjinder Singh - Anicca Digital LtdSukhjinder Singh Anicca Digital

There were three core updates announced this year, Google BERT, and support for review stars was removed for some schema types. These are some of the updates I took note of, yet wasn’t surprised about. This is because I learnt my lesson back in 2011 when the first Google Panda update hit: optimise for the user not Google. It’s not a ground-breaking revelation, but within these parameters you can do great, interesting work, and reap rewards that will serve you in the long-run. In the vein of this and based on my hands-on experience, I believe these areas will see more activity:

Rich snippet optimisation; as it’s harder to get above the fold organically, and because you get a two-for-one result with this work (voice search results too) people are focussing more on this kind of optimisation. Especially with the new FAQ, HowTo and Q&A schema now available.

Local SEO; off the back of the Medic update in 2018, people have taken E.A.T. more seriously, with special consideration on conveying authority (full contact details, FAQs, staff profiles, links to social profiles, accreditations, authoritative industry bodies, third-party reviews etc).

BERT and NLP-considered optimisation; I believe more people are aware of the real life impact that Natural Language Processing (NLP) has in our lives (voice search, spell-check, sentiment analysis etc) and will be focussing more on semantic search optimisation. I believe this will take the form of more LSI keyword optimisation and semantic content optimisation with tools like InLinks.

Other things that I think will be popular are areas you have more control over, such as: SERP and CTR optimisation, CRO (as on-page engagement has shown to have some effect on SEO), Page Load Speed and of course, Mobile Usability.

Sarah Atkinson - On the PodiumSarah Atkinson Podium

Mobile UX will be more important than ever in 2020, especially for local search. With 4 in 5 consumers conducting local searches on their phones and tablets, simply having a mobile version of a site won’t be enough to outrank competitors. Pages should be thoroughly optimised for mobile, including fast loading times and information should be readily accessible to users.

This goes beyond optimising images and it’s essential that you reduce the number of redirects on site, minify code such as JavaScript and ensure you leverage browser caching. If you’re a local business, you should also ensure your company details such as name, address and telephone number is standardised and meta data should contain your location.

Ciaran, Square MediaCiaran Square Media

At Square Media we are expecting that both Voice Search and Voice Assistants will develop even further in the next few years and really take off in 2020.

With both Google and Amazon both placing their bets on their respective Voice Assistants, we can only envision them becoming even more powerful than they currently are.

In 2019, 20% of all Google searches were voice searches, which we are expecting to at least double for 2020. We envisage that Google will place heavier emphasis on Voice Search in their algorithm updates. We predict the SERPS will introduce more features to help optimise content for Voice Search/Voice Assistants. For example, just look at this new feature which allows you to book cinema tickets using Google Assistant. Will this roll out to different industries & services too?

Matt Kirkman, GrapefruitMatt Kirkman Grapefruit

Predicting the trends in SEO for the coming year is always interesting. Google is not exactly known for keeping the SEO community up to date with its plans for how organic search will develop over the next 12 months. Changes over 2019 give us some insight into the direction of the major search engine and what might happen to the SEO landscape next year.

There’s likely to be a continuing decline in the importance of the ‘true’ organic rankings. Whereas just a few years ago ranking number 1 in the organic search results was the aim of every project, things are very different now. Rich Snippets, Knowledge Panels, Google Maps listings, Videos, Images, and Shopping carousels – these all present interesting challenges and opportunities for SEOs, so having a wider focus and creating campaigns that include these elements is likely to be key.

Optimised Google My Business Profiles and rankings in the ‘map pack’ are likely to become more important, for all businesses. Traditionally the focus of location-specific searches, the developments in how frequently map listing are shown in search results for products and services and the opportunity they offer businesses for increasing their exposure to potential customers means they will continue to be important for businesses of all types, not just those that are focused locally.

In terms of the Rich Snippets, appearing in this ‘position 0’ can be the Holy Grail for any ranking project, so paying attention to the factors that influence these and incorporating them into optimisation work will likely continue to be important. Linked to this is the development of optimisation for voice search, or probably more accurately, question-focused search. The developing sophistication of Google’s algorithm means that longer, more ambiguous searches are now capable of returning increasingly accurate results, which presents an opportunity for webpages to rank for a wider range of related results.

This increasingly sophisticated algorithm, with the addition of BERT and machine learning, is becoming more complex, which may mean that ‘gaming’ Google and using loopholes to rank will continue to decline, and good, honest Search Engine Optimisation with proven tactics that are part a much more holistic view of how to increase the right kind of traffic from the search engines, and work with the algorithm instead of trying to fool it, will be what helps businesses succeed online.

Colin Harrison, Nivo DigitalColin Harrison Nivo Digital

It’s no longer just what you know, it’s what you know, who you know and what you do with it that will get the best results in SEO. Building meaningful connections, therefore, will become more important than ever before in the SEO world in 2020.

Direct traffic and brand mentions are a big ranking factor and with this offline activities will become more important for SEO. Companies will look to create engaging content to be recognised for not only their expertise in their field, but also the good they do in their communities.

Businesses will also look to collaborate on bigger content pieces with others who share the same audience in an effort to gain exposure and exploit combined marketing channels.

Tom Crewe, AdidoTom Crewe Adido

From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem that Search Engine Optimisation is ever-changing; but the reality is that the core principles of good SEO remain the same; strong and relevant content that is optimised appropriately, a well-structured site hierarchy, high authority backlinks and an effective technical SEO strategy. What does change, however, is our approach to these principles.

In 2020, we will see the continued rise of ‘zero clicks’ in the SERPs as users are given the answers they need through Rich Snippets, Knowledge Graphs and all of Google’s other rich content areas. We see this with most of our clients when analysing Search Console data; organic impressions can be up 100% YOY, but click through rates (CTRs) are often down, resulting in a less impressive YOY increase in clicks.

How do we combat this in 2020? Well, first of all we need to educate clients and senior members of staff about the rise of ‘zero clicks’ and what this will mean for their organic traffic statistics. Secondly, perhaps we need to report success differently. We need to look at the increase in organic impressions and average ranking position YOY; does it correlate with an increase in phone calls / email enquiries / in store visits? We can then take this analysis further and try to identify which keywords have a higher CTR and target those in our strategy, rather than the high volume / low CTR keywords.

In terms of the way ‘zero clicks’ impacts SEO strategy, it changes what we will need to achieve with our content. Whilst ‘no clicks’ are a direct result of featured snippets, ranking for featured snippets is more important than ever now. In order to encourage a click from a featured snippet, we need to be providing more information than can comfortably fit in the SERP space for featured snippets, so the user has to click through to get the rest of the information they are looking for. This strategy naturally fits in with the overarching strategy of providing the most detailed, comprehensive landing pages for our desired keywords, as page one of the SERP becomes increasingly competitive and only the most worthy of websites will reach page 1.

Richard Patey, StartUp NorfolkRichard Patey StartUp Norfolk

The biggest trend in SEO I see continuing into 2020 and beyond is using data driven tools TF-IDF like to create perfect on-page, even before you publish. These tools find out which words and phrases the top ranking pages are using and then creates an average, including word count, for your piece of content to blend into that range. And you can even give your writers just one main keyword and access to the software and they can compose the post within the editor which suggests which LSI phrases to add and in which quantity. It’s game-changing and a really unfair advantage that has not yet gone mainstream.

Chris Foster, Acquiro DigitalChris Foster Acquiro Digital

With Google’s changing attitudes towards the nofollow tag we’re expecting to see changes towards how Google views nofollow links and brand mentions. We’ve seen from the changes to the disavow process Google have been able to train their algorithms to the point were disavow files are no longer required, in most cases. Over the next year we expect to see three changes in how they deal with links.

Firstly websites will be given credit for links marked as nofollow from sites who use these in an overzealous way. This would include large news outlets who nofollow all external links as part of their guidelines. The result being many sites could see a few high value links drop into their profile.

On the flip side of this Google are getting better at recognising paid for and advertorial links which haven’t been disclosed according to their guidelines. So if you rely heavily on links from product reviews you may see the value in these drop.

Finally, we expect to see Google start to give link credit to websites when their brand name appears without an anchor link. This follows a general move from Google to favour brand names and as the AI improves this should be easier for them to match up.

9 tips to grow your social media presence for small businesses

“As a small business owner, should I be using social media?”

The simple answer to that question is, yes. There are no two ways about it, all businesses in 2019 should be utilising social media to their advantage.

Gone are the days that businesses can simply rely on word of mouth or repeat custom from locals to keep their business afloat. Social media is undoubtedly the most powerful way of getting your products and services in front of thousands of people, reaching out to new audiences and encouraging previous customers to keep coming back.

The best thing about using social media? It’s free, so anyone can do it.

However, it’s easy to get it completely wrong. There are ways and means of ensuring that you are using social media in the most effective way for your business to get the best results. In this article, we highlight key tips and tricks that you should be doing to get the most out of social networking.

Choose the right platforms for your business

Things are a lot different now than they were 13 years ago when Facebook exposed itself to the public. There are now thousands of different social media networks out there, hoping to get a slice of Facebook’s success.

Social media platform logos

This is important to know, because social media marketing is only effective if you’re targeting the right people. So, you need to know where those people, in terms of which social networks they’re frequenting. Sure, Facebook now has over 2 billion active monthly users, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right path to take to get you in front of your target audience.

Not only that, but each platform has certain qualities that make them better suited for achieving different goals. Depending on your business objectives, you may want to look into which platform will be the best for generating leads – if that’s your goal, or building brand awareness if that’s what your main focus is. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular social networks and how they could work for your business:

  • Facebook – A family and friends community orientated network, great for B2C and in some cases B2B. Facebook connects a variety of age ranges, with over 50% of users being between ages 18-34.
  • Instagram – Best for B2C, Instagram relies on photo sharing and visual content, great for increasing brand awareness and improving company image. Instagram is continuously rolling out new tools and features to help businesses succeed, such as ads, external swipe-up links on stories and the ability for users to purchase products directly in the app.
  • Twitter 75% of B2B and 65% of B2C businesses market on Twitter. It’s a powerful platform which excels in delivering major news, announcements and other time-sensitive information to a huge audience immediately. Jumping on trending topics and engaging with your customers/prospects who @ your account is huge for succeeding on Twitter.
  • Snapchat – A great network for getting your content in front of a younger demographic – 75% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old. One of the fastest growing social network platforms which provides personalised content and the opportunity for people to connect directly with brands and influencers.
  • Pinterest – Capitalising on visual content, Pinterest is a great network to utilise for influencing purchasing decisions. From home décor to craft ideas and even travel destinations, many people head to Pinterest to get inspiration whilst in the mindset to buy.
  • Linkedin – The number one social network platform to look to for building authority, a trustworthy brand name and engaging with people of importance in both the B2B and B2C markets.

Know your end goal

As with anything in business, it’s not advisable to jump in two feet first without knowing why you’re doing it, or what you’re hoping to achieve. In order to measure your success, you need to think about your end goal in social media marketing. Do you:

  • Want to generate more leads?
  • Increase conversions?
  • Improve your customer service?
  • Build brand awareness?

office worker with graph

The answer to this crucial question will enable you to devise a strategy to ultimately lead you to that goal, and ensuring that everyone in your team is on the same wavelength. 

Creating content and writing messages geared towards your objectives, posting relevant links and utilising product shopping features on social networks are all what will drive you to getting the results you want – but this won’t be possible without knowing what that goal is in the first place.

Pushing content out there for the sake of it is unlikely to get you anywhere if your main objectives aren’t clear, and this will prove to be a waste of time – time which could be better spent engaging with your audience and getting them on board with your brand.

Create a content calendar

Successful social media marketing requires maintaining a constant online presence on each platform you choose to be active on. This by no means insinuates that you need to be posting every day – in fact, far from it. You need to be smart about what you’re posting, and when you’re posting it in order to reach the right audience at the right time.

It’s possible to end up oversaturating your feeds though, so don’t do that. With platforms such as Linkedin and Facebook you don’t want to be posting more than once a day, whereas Twitter can handle quick-fire tweets with up-to-date news and important information. If you want to regularly stay in front of your Instagram audience, updating your story daily is the best way to go about this.

This is why creating a content calendar is hugely beneficial for all businesses – big or small. Planning your content ahead of time helps to keep everything on track and ensures that your social channels don’t dry up.

monthly calendar

Create informative, good quality content and include promotional messages about your brand, products and services where appropriate. Reach your audience at times when they’re active and likely to engage for the best possible outcome, and don’t forget to stay active and respond to them when they reach out to you.

While this is a best practice, there’s no need to be too rigid here. Additional ad-hoc content as and when is also hugely beneficial for your company’s image, showing that you’re human, personable and can react to trending topics or discussions.

Check out Hootsuite’s top tips on how to create a social media content calendar here.

Engage with your audience

It’s one thing understanding which social media platforms your audience use, but the next step is to figure out how you go ahead and engage with them online.

Spend a bit of time planning out what types of content you think your audience will be interested in. What will they want to see more of? Remember, not everything you post has to be directly related to your products or services.

In a sense, you could say that there is a bit of psychology behind social media engagement. We often find that engagement rates will increase when we post content that generates an emotive response from the audience. If you can generate content that makes people feel something, be it happiness, sadness, outrage or anything in between, then they are much more likely to take action in the form of likes, comments and shares.

We’ve found great success when posting content that is educational as users will feel enlightened. You’re giving them a reason to engage with you.

Quality over quantity here, always. If you give people too much of a good thing you may run out of content pretty quickly, so drip your best content out at a steady rate and track which types of posts get more responses.

Social media is a two way street and the key is most definitely in the word – ‘social!’ If you can think of ways to generate conversation around your products or services then you are on to a winner. Giveaways are a guaranteed way of generating a buzz for local businesses and they can put your brand in front of people who otherwise would have never known you exist.

That said, the conversation doesn’t always have to be about you and what you are offering. On a local level, we see a lot of power in jumping into conversations with other local businesses who are active on social media. This sort of piggy-backing is known to work because:

  1. The general public can see that you are active
  2. You introduce each other to your audiences and share the engagement
  3. You become part of an amplified network on social media

Local trends and news stories are an opportunity to become a forum for online discussion. Keep an eye out for articles you can share and be sure to use strategic hashtags, too.

Experiment with video

Video is the most powerful form of content you can produce for social media. It’s that simple.

YouTube video on computer

Rather than waffle on, here are a few statistics to help you understand the power that video has in 2019:

  • Videos get shared 1200% more than text and images combined (Wordstream)
  • 6/10 people would rather watch online videos than their TV (Google)
  • A Facebook executive predicted that the platform will be all-video by 2021 (Quartz)
  • 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service through video (HubSpot)
  • 92% of users watching video on mobile will share it with others (Wordstream)

So, why is this the case?

Social media is primarily accessed by mobile users and it is here where video content comes to the fore. Smartphone accessibility and optimisation means that users not only find it easy to scroll through content, they are actually encouraged to do so by way of the app design.

As part of its core news feed algorithm, Facebook actually pushes video content to the fore as it recognises that these are the types of posts that people are engaging with. Why wouldn’t they want their users to stay on the app for as long as possible? Just have a think about your own Facebook timeline, it’s no doubt chock full of video content from a wide range of accounts from your family and friends to the brands that you follow.

The beauty of video is that it doesn’t actually need a huge production budget to be effective on social media. There are a few methods you can utilise to generate good looking content without the need for an expensive camera and after-editing. If you have a decent smartphone then the camera will more than suffice, all you really need to invest in is a tripod for steady filming and a clip on microphone if you’re planning on narrating over the top.

When it comes to editing your bits and bobs together there are a variety of platforms that get the job done. Adobe’s Premiere Pro is the industry standard for feature video editing, but if you’re purely creating pieces for social media, then you may wish to consider web based tools like Lumen 5.

Here are some video ideas that you may wish to have a go at:


Explain your products or services to promote their USPs. If they are clear and educational then they will be appreciated by your audience. Be sure to include the important areas inside the first minute of the video.

Live video

Live streaming is hard to pull off but if done correctly it can be very rewarding. Just make sure you have tested everything first: sound, lighting, internet connection and so on all need to be on the money for this to work well.


As mentioned in the last point, educational posts can gain huge traction if they are interesting and informative. Combine that with video content and you’re on to a winner.

Track your performance

If you’re going to be putting all of this work into upgrading your social media activity then you’re surely going to want to know the results of your hard graft? How else will you be able to evaluate what you’ve done and determine the ROI?

results tracking chart

Now, we aren’t talking monster spreadsheets and reams of data here. It won’t do you any good to be bogged down in massive numbers you don’t understand. It makes much more sense to keep things super simple by tracking the key figures that matter to you:

  • Account followers or page likes
  • Post engagements (retweets, likes, shares, comments)
  • Post reach

How do you go about doing this?

To begin with, you can do this manually by looking at the analytics or insights section of any social media platform. Create a Google Sheet or Microsoft Excel document to track these on a monthly basis. You can make use of these insightful additions to sites like Facebook and Twitter by using their demographics and time reports. Do the people who are engaging with your page represent your target audience, and what times are they most likely to be online? Planning your content to fit these variables will help increase your chances of success.

Long term you may wish to automate your social media reporting and there are a wide range of paid options available to do this. We currently use DashThis for all of our digital marketing reporting, for example. This may become especially important if you begin to experiment with social media advertising, speaking of which…

Try pay per click advertising

Ensuring that everybody who likes your page or follows your account actually sees the posts you distribute is a tough challenge. Twitter recently changed its feeds from showing posts chronologically to an algorithm based system, while Facebook’s average organic post reach has taken a dive over the past several years.

Investing in your social media content can bring big benefits to your business, with different ways of spending your marketing budget depending on each platform.

social media ppc advertising

The advertising types vary from platform to platform, but there are a few types of advertising you’ll find commonplace over most of them.

Sponsored Posts

If you have a piece of content you want more people to see, you can “boost” it so it appears on news feeds to a wider audience. A great way of increasing post reach and interaction, and if the post includes a link through to your website, a method of getting better conversions and traffic from your social media.

This format is available on most platforms, with boosted posts able to be crossposted from Facebook to Instagram, sponsored tweets regularly appearing throughout users’ Twitter feeds, and a similar offering on LinkedIn.

Like/Follow Suggestions

If you want to shift focus from getting your posts delivered to more people, to increasing your core social media audience, you can pay-per-action to get people to like or follow your pages.

On Facebook, you’ll regularly see sponsored page like suggestions appear in the sidebar, with boosted accounts also appearing on Twitter across the feed, and in the search results. Again, similar options are available throughout all platforms.

Video Adverts

If you have a video advert you want people to see, you can of course push it in the same way as the previously mentioned sponsored posts. However, you can also use social media for YouTube style pre-roll adverts.

Primarily on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll often find popular shared videos on your feed, that when you click play, serve you with a usually skippable advert.

video advertising on social media

Inbox Advertising

Specifically a great feature for LinkedIn, this is perfect for those in a more B2B type environment.

You can send an email-style message to any LinkedIn user that you’re not connected with, simply by putting some budget behind it, and LinkedIn’s targeting enables you to ensure that your money doesn’t go to waste. You can target people by their business sector and/or job title amongst other things, enabling highly effective marketing.


A growing trend that started with Snapchat is the “stories” feature, something that has slowly been rolled out across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

In a similar way to sponsored posts, you can get a full screen piece of content to appear amongst a user’s organic stories, showing up as they watch what their friends or followed celebrities have been up to.

Use a scheduling tool

Social media marketing is something that needs to be kept consistent to work effectively. This doesn’t just mean keeping to predetermined branding, but also means regularly posting content, and not leaving your pages to go quiet and dry up in terms of interaction and engagement.

Hootsuite social media scheduling tool

Ensuring this doesn’t happen is easier than trying to make time every couple of days to create content and post it out. Once a week, or maybe even once in a larger time period, you can create all of your posts for the rest of that time, and schedule them to post out automatically across your networks.

Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools for this, while Buffer is another commonly used brand. They allow you to connect all of your social media profiles to one account, load your content into it, and then set a time and date for them to be posted out. You can also use their tools to view all of your interactions in one place, helping to streamline your social media marketing process.

Use social media tools

There are so many tools available, both free and premium, that can be used to make your social media marketing easier.

As well as the scheduling functionality mentioned above, you can also use tools that can make creating visual content, both graphics and videos, simple even for beginners.

For more suggestions, check out this great post featuring 11 useful social media tools for beginners.

Utilising your PPC budget: Essential features you should be using on Google Ads


How to make the most of your Google Ads budget?

Google Ads is one of the most effective advertising platforms for businesses of any size. The flexibility of bidding allows a user to allocate a budget as big or little as they want, and change it at any time.

You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands in order to generate leads and see a great ROI, as a well structured campaign is really the key to successful advertising.

The truth is, whatever you’re doing on Google Ads at the minute, there’s always something that you can do better. 

Many advertisers don’t utilise the great (and free!) features of Google Ads that can add something a little extra to boost their campaigns, so we’ve put together a list of the best Google Ads features that you should be using.

Ad extensions

If you’re running a Google search campaign, you should use as many relevant ad extensions as you can – they don’t increase your advertising costs, but do ensure you get more from your money.

Ad extensions add more information to your adverts in numerous forms, and ensure your ad has a higher visibility, standing out over lesser-optimised competitors.

Ad Extensions

Extensions come in various forms, with some of the common, most useful ones listed below:

  • Call Extension: This allows you to add a phone number to your advert, which is clickable by mobile users to instantly call your business. These calls are trackable by Google Ads, allowing you to see how many leads are returning on your advertising investment.
  • Sitelink Extension: Your search ad will typically link to one chosen landing page, but this feature allows you to add a selection of related links beneath it, giving users extra opportunity to click through to your website.
  • Callout Extension: A callout extension allows you to add additional marketing text and information underneath your advert’s main description. Each callout can have a maximum of 25 characters, so keep it short but sweet.
  • Structured Snippets: This enables you to add a list to your advert, with a heading from a predetermined shortlist (eg. “Courses”, “Styles”, “Brands”).
  • Location Extension: A great option for those with a physical location who want to increase footfall. This adds your address to the advert, allowing users to click through and get directions from Google Maps.

Adding extensions to your ads ensures a higher click through rate, and helps to increase your quality score in turn pushing you up the results page with no additional cost.

Recommendations tab

Google Ads campaigns can often be very complicated to manage, especially when working with a large number of keywords and ad groups.

You’re not on your own though, as Google does try to offer you a helping hand with suggestions and tips on actions you can take to improve your campaign performance.

On the left column of options in your Google Ads management view, you’ll find a tab titled “Recommendations”. On here, Google identifies any problems with your account that could be causing a drop in performance.

Google Ads Recommendations Tab

Suggestions include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Adding new keywords to an ad group, some of which will be suggested by Google
  • Adding extensions to your adverts (See above)
  • Using new ad types, such as responsive search ads
  • Removing conflicting negative keywords, where your settings are blocking adverts from appearing in searches for the terms you bid on.
  • Changes to your bids, including ways of reducing your CPC but increasing click throughs.

These recommendations are included alongside an optimisation score, which will increase to 100% as you work through the suggestions made by Google.

Keyword Planner

A strong set of keywords lays the foundations for any successful Google Ads campaign. This is essentially one of the first and most important steps that should be taken before considering ad text, budget or anything else.

Conducting thorough keyword research can be very time-consuming, but Google’s Keyword Planner (formerly known as Keyword Tool) is a free feature within Google Ads that can help with finding new keyword ideas and projecting search volume, forecasts and suggested budgets.

Google Keyword Planner

With the sheer volume of powerful data that Google has access to, it would be a missed opportunity not to take advantage of this free tool, whether you’re a Google Ads beginner or a more advanced user.

Key features of Google’s Keyword Planner:

    • The option to enter up to 10 seed keywords to generate new ideas
    • View keyword trends for individual keyword ideas
    • View grouped ideas which sorts keywords by theme to create tailored ad groups
    • Easily add a new keyword idea to an existing campaign
    • Suggested daily budget for campaigns based on the max. CPC bid and forecasted cost
    • Competition ranking stats across all keyword ideas

To get the most out of Google’s Keyword Planner, we recommend carefully coming up with a list of words that best describe the products or services your company is offering, and then entering them into the tool. This way, you’re making sure that the suggested keywords and new ideas will be as relevant as possible to your business in order to utilise your budget in the best possible way.

Once you’ve created your list, Google essentially does the rest of the work for you. You will be presented with new keyword suggestions, search volume and forecasts, bid suggestions and competition for each keyword. With so many more helpful features and information, you can drill down right into a breakdown of devices and locations to help create your targeted campaign.

In short, using Google Keyword Planner can not only open your eyes to new search terms relevant to your business, but can help to simplify the process of creating a successful PPC campaign. It’s definitely worth exploring all of its features to find what’s useful to you for building your campaign.

Build a negative keyword list

We all understand that to succeed on the Google Ads platform we need to follow the process of highlighting profitable keywords, filtering them into respective ad groups, and setting up relevant landing pages for each one.

It’s a tried and tested process that drives good quality traffic to your site, sure, but there’s an additional step to this method that is often neglected at great cost to both the piggy bank and the campaign overall.

Negative Keyword List

Negative keywords are defined by Google as:

[quote] “A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads aren’t shown to anyone who is searching for that phrase. This is also known as a negative match.”

What this means is you can add specific words or phrases to a campaign or ad group, and this will tell Google Ads specifically not to show your ad for any searches that contain that word or phrase. It is a clear and easy way to prevent your ads from showing to people who search for related, but ultimately irrelevant words or phrases (and ultimately save you a load of money.)

Cost-effective keyword management is essentially a three part process. The first consists of using the keyword planner, as outlined above, to broaden the relevant keywords you are bidding on while the second is constant maintenance of that list to manage your bids. The third is building a negative keyword list to further enhance ROI.

By heading to Keywords > Search Terms you will be able to browse a definitive list of every search term that has triggered your ads. This is an informative place to start when you look to build a negative keyword list, as you will see first hand where money can be saved.

Negative keyword match types

  • Negative broad match: the default for negative keywords. Your ad won’t show if a search contains all of the negative keyword terms, no matter their order in the search term. Your ad may still show if the search term contains only some of your keyword terms. For example, a negative broad match keyword of snow shoes would negate any searches for ‘snow shoes’ or ‘shoes snow’, but your ads may still run for searches like ‘red dancing shoes’ or ‘snow equipment.’
  • Negative phrase match: your ad won’t show if a search contains the exact negative keyword terms in the exact order submitted. As long as the negative keyword is searched for in the correct order, it will not show. For example, a negative phrase match keyword of snow shoes would negate any searches for ‘cheap snow shoes’ or ‘snow shoes near me’, your ads may still run for searches like ‘red dancing shoes.’
  • Negative exact match: your ad won’t show if the search contains the exact negative keyword term. It may still show if the search contains the term, plus additional words. For example, a negative exact match of snow shoes would negate any searches for ‘snow shoes’ only.

Adding negative keywords will improve your click-through rate and help you to work on driving more traffic with a higher commercial intent through your ad groups.Ultimately, this will save you money by raising your conversion rate over time.

Shopping Campaigns

If you want to be smart with your budget, Google Shopping is an essential advertising platform for online retailers. It provides an unrivalled, cost-effective way of putting products in front of potential customers who have the intention of making a purchase.

These product listing ads are featured across Google’s Search and Shopping results, and are typically displayed at the top of the search engine results page usually before organic listings. The way that these differ from Search ads is that they are accompanied by photos of the product so aren’t limited by ad text, and can include additional information such as prices, reviews and special promotions to boost engagement.

According to Google, many businesses report “significantly higher click-through rates (CTR) with Shopping ads compared to text ads.” It’s easy to see why, as visually, they are more eye-catching and prominent on search results pages, and the user can identify straight away the product they are looking to purchase.

Google Shopping Ads

Unlike Search campaigns, Shopping Ads don’t require a list of keywords, so it’s important to optimise your product titles and descriptions to include keywords and match search terms in order for the product to show for relevant searches.

Bidding works in a completely different way on Shopping campaigns compared to Search ads, as you’re not bidding on keywords but you can instead set bids at product level. With the ability to set bids per product or product group you are getting a lot more control over your campaign as you can set individual bids based on profit margins, competition and other relatable factors.

In summary, Google Shopping Ads is a powerful tool for any ecommerce business looking to boost their conversions and visibility on search engine result pages with a cost-effective advertising campaign.

Performance Planner

Earlier on, we talked about Keyword Planner, a hugely useful tool that can help you choose new keywords to include in your campaign, and recommend bid amounts.

Performance Planner is a new, similar tool, only released to the public in May 2019, and offering a broader look at your campaigns and their performance forecasts.

Primarily, this new planner is a great way of determining how you should spread your budget over multiple campaigns, with the tool also helping you optimise your settings to increase conversions.

Performance Planner

It’s a good way of testing changes before you implement them, with the planner able to forecast results based on changes to spend, bid settings and more.

Announcing the new Performance Planner back in May, one of Google Ads’ product managers said:

“On average, we have seen that advertisers can drive 43% more conversions by using Performance Planner to better plan their Google Ads spend.

The Performance Planner identifies the best spend amounts for your campaigns to drive incremental conversions.”

Create an ad schedule

An ad schedule can be used to display ads, or change bids based on different times of the day.

Once signed into your Google Ads account, open up the Campaign you want to set up an ad schedule for and then head to Settings. Ad Schedule can be found there, but will only be an option for campaigns with ‘All Features’ enabled. From here, you can tell Google when to run or pause your campaigns, or adjust bids at specific times.

In simple terms, your ads won’t run outside of your specified range. Ad Schedules operate on a weekly basis and you can go deeper by specifying multiple schedules per day. For example, you could specify that on Tuesdays your campaign runs from 06:00AM-10:00 AM and 18:00-22:00 PM.

Creating a schedule for bid adjustments allows you to keep your ads running, but adjust the CPC at different time intervals. Upon reviewing your ad performance you may observe that your average cost per conversion is £50 throughout the working week but £72 at the weekend. Here is an opportunity to schedule a bid adjustment accordingly.

Using this tool will help you to utilise your Google Ads budget by working with, rather than against your supply and demand differentials. By scheduling your ads to be more prominent at times that suit your business, you will be placing more budget behind the moments that makes commercial sense.

Remarketing lists

Using Google Ads isn’t all about finding a new audience to click through to your website. You should also spend some time and money ensuring that those who have clicked away from your site return to make a purchase or enquiry.

Google Ads allows you to create a list of users, compiled as they visit a certain specified page or website. The settings of this list can be amended, meaning you can choose how long they remain on the list, and from how long ago they met the criteria to be included now.

Remarketing Lists

Remarketing is a great way of increasing conversions on your website, and it’s something we see targeted to ourselves during almost every browsing session. For example, if you search for “golf clubs” on Amazon and then go to another website, it’s no coincidence that you later see adverts for golf clubs everywhere.

It’s really easy to organise, and is a great way of effectively utilising your budget. Setting up a Google Display campaign is the best way of remarketing, showing banner ads for your website to those who fit your list criteria.

You can either produce the banner ads yourself, uploading them to Google Ads in various accepted dimensions, or create an automatic responsive display ad instead – this new tool lets you upload a logo, any images, and write various text options, while Google automatically combines it all together to create ads that fit all sizes of advertising space.

Need more help with your Google Ads 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.

9 Google Display Network PPC Tips for 2019

The Google Display Network helps us to reach potential customers by placing ads directly onto the sites they are browsing.

According to an iProspect study, combined Search and Display campaigns generate up to 22% more conversions than Search-only campaigns – but due to a lack of understanding, many novice PPC campaigners or small-business owners are put off from giving Display a try.

If the above is something you can relate to, then hopefully our nine Google Display Network tips can help you take that first step.

1. Set up a remarketing list

Getting your ad placement right for you can be quite tricky with the display format, especially when you’re more used to setting up search campaigns on Google Ads. The search format will seem a lot more tailorable in comparison, with you able to add all of the keywords that are relevant to your landing page as the triggers, and with varying match types, meaning you know exactly where your adverts are going to be appearing.

Over in the display section, things are definitely going to be more complicated. As well as selecting users based on their demographic details, you can also choose things such as specific website placements, topic based targeting and more. It can be a bit of a minefield if you’ve never used Display before, which is why we recommend starting with the simple – remarketing.

Remarketing is an easy to use function that provides you with the ability to show your adverts to people who have previously viewed your website. It’s something you’re bound to have noticed when you’ve searched for a product on Amazon, only to find similar products popping up all over the place when browsing other sites.

Setting up a remarketing list is easy, and can be created from within Google Ads. You can choose several options to ensure your targeting is as precise as possible, including how many days after their last site visit users will remain on the list, or which specific web pages they need to visit to be included. Once done, you can go ahead with creating your adverts, and those on your list will begin to see them.

Read more: How to set up a website remarketing list

2. Combine different targeting methods

The effectiveness of a Google Ads display advertising campaign can be increased when a variety of targeting methods are combined.

You may think that this is because it gives the campaign more of a chance to reach a wider range of people, but the desired effect is actually quite the opposite. By applying more than one targeting method to a particular ad group, it limits the ads to those who match both criteria sets.

Why do we do this? Well, while it may lower the overall impressions of the ad groups you have established, the impressions you are left with are of a significantly higher value. The trick here is to create a higher number of specifically targeted ad groups, as opposed to a smaller number of ad groups that are lacking the laser-focused targeting required to generate valuable PPC traffic.

Remarketing, explained above in point #1, is one of the various forms of targeting available to you within the Google Display Network. Others include:

Contextual targeting: using a keyword list to generate ad placement on sites that are related to the keywords you have provided.

Placement targeting: choosing which websites you would like your ads to display on, which is particularly helpful when targeting a particular demographic.

Topic targeting: choosing from a preset list of page topics to generate ad placement on sites that are related to the topics you have selected.

Interest targeting: choosing from a preset list of interests to generate ad placement on the devices of users that hold those specific interests.


3. Get creative with your call to action

It can often be overlooked just how important a role your calls to action play. The words used in your CTA can be what drive the user to click through to your website, or not. As best practice, more and more brands are avoiding the more cliché calls to action such as “Click Here” and “Sign Up Now!” because in all honesty, they’re a bit vague and don’t really entice the user to want to take action.

In order to peak interest and drive clicks from your ads, you need to think about what will excite and entice the user. For example, if you’re advertising a new recipe blog or book, a CTA of “Get cooking” may just peak a little more interest than “Click here”. If you’re looking for sign-ups to a programme or similar, maybe opt for something along the lines of “Ready to get started on your journey?”.

The key thing to take away from this here is that while a good design will initially attract the attention to your ads, a strong CTA is what will encourage conversion. So, get creative and excite your audience.

google ad displayed on site

4. Use as many ad formats as possible

Ensuring that your ads are seen in as many places as possible, and grab the attention of enough users is a very important target. One key way of giving this a go is by getting your adverts into as many formats as you can. The more you try out, the more data you’ll have to be able to determine which formats are the most successful when it comes to clicks, impressions and conversions.

If you’ve decided to create your own graphics for your adverts, you need to make sure you make them in as many sizes and layouts as you can, with Google Ads offering you a list before you go to upload. Square & rectangular ads are quite common, with several dimensions available. Leaderboards are another example, a wide, rectangular style of ad, similar to billboards but on a smaller scale. Again, these are available in an array of shapes and sizes. Finally, the skyscraper format is popular for running down the sides or borders of websites – these are tall, narrower ads that offer a great deal of space for your branding.

JPGs and PNGs are the most commonly accepted file types, but it’s well worth noting that you can also upload GIFs, a great idea if you want to stand out that bit more with some eye-catching animation.

5. Stick to your branding

This may seem like a fairly obvious thing to point out, but it’s one that can often be missed so it’s important to touch on. It’s easy to be swayed by the abundance of advice out there telling you to use certain colours or imagery to peak interest and drive emotions, but that’s not best practice here.

With any type of marketing, consistency is key, and that’s no different when it comes to display advertising. You should never stray from your branding guidelines, because after all, that’s what they’re there for. If you think of some of the biggest brands in the world i.e. Amazon or Nike, chances are you will instantly be able to picture their logos without even thinking about it. If you saw their commonly used fonts and slogans on an advert, you’d be able to recognise that brand within seconds too, wouldn’t you?

That’s what it’s all about. You want customers to recognise your brand, and all of the key elements associated with it. It’s your responsibility to build a brand that your audience trust and can connect with, so your design across all communications should be consistent as a way of encouraging that trust building a reputation – one that’s easily recognised.

6. Keep it simple

You want your ads to stand out, that’s completely understandable. However, the worst thing you can do is start over complicating them. It’s not uncommon to want to get the most out of your ad space and try to pack in as much information as you can, but that won’t get you the best results.

The key thing to remember is that display ad spaces are quite small, so loading too much information into one place will look nothing more than cluttered, untidy and overwhelming. Logistically, trying to fit your logo, product photo, a list of features, deals, colour options etc and a CTA into a 250 x 250 pixel square just isn’t going to work out.

Keep your ads clean and simple in a way that they are easily readable and communicate your key message without being bombarded with information, but are still effective and make the user want to click through and find out more.

7. Try the responsive ads function

As mentioned in point #4, the Display Network accepts a huge variety of advert sizes and formats, due mostly to the fact that the websites they’ll end up on have varying space to hold them. It can be time consuming and difficult to try and create a range of individual ads to suit all of the available spaces.

This is where Google’s “responsive display ad” creator comes into play. It’s a great tool in which you input all of the required information, leaving Google Ads to create and push your ad out in all shapes and sizes, based on your targeting.

The tool asks you to insert up to five standard headlines and five descriptions, allowing for them to be rotated over time. It also asks you to add any relevant photos, graphics and logos, and lets you add up to five videos too. Google then takes all of the content you’ve submitted, and mixes it up to create a set of adverts that can fit and be displayed across a whole range of sites within your settings.

It cuts down the time you’d typically spend creating adverts, while ensuring the end result is eligible to appear in many more locations. Less effort, more results! What more could you ask for?

8. Provide a relevant, effective landing page

As discussed in our recent blog post, Creating the perfect Facebook ads campaign: 8 top tips, it is essential that you direct your PPC traffic to relevant landing pages that make sense to the user.

Does the page have a clear and concise headline, have you checked the copy for impeccable grammar? Have you included a trust indicator somewhere on the page, and is there at least one strong, clear call-to-action visible? All of these questions need to be considered when creating the hub through which you will be channeling your traffic. You can pour hours into your campaign set-up and ongoing optimisation, but if you’re sending high quality traffic to a landing page that doesn’t tick all of the boxes then you are going to lose out on a lot of conversions.

If you’ve done everything right then there’s no doubt you will see a significant increase in conversions. Providing you are tracking them, that is…

ppc website landing page

9. Track your conversions

Finally, when you launch and PPC campaign you have to think about how you are going to measure the success. That’s why we define conversion goals that can be measured against the goals of the overall campaign.

A conversion is the meaningful interaction you require the user to complete for a PPC click to be deemed successful. In e-commerce this will likely be a purchase, in lead generation you would be looking for the user to sign up to a newsletter or make an enquiry, and so on. Using Google Ads and Google Analytics, you can create custom-defined conversions with individual snippets of code that can be embedded to checkout or thank you pages.

Hard data gained from tracking the conversion rates of your ads can be used to help boost the ROI of the campaign, and ultimately increase sales by making more informed choices with regards to the ad budget.

Need more help with your Google Display Network 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.

9 Useful SEO Tools to Improve your Google Rankings

Through our regular digital marketing work, we come into contact with many useful tools in our day to day tasks.

It’s crucial that we have reliable sources of data so we can conveniently track progress on our projects, and have access to a range of tools that make our lives easier when it comes to the more tedious parts of an SEO campaign.

As such, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the tools we use, all of which might be of use to you when it comes to optimising your website for better search visibility.

Here are 9 of the most useful tools we use every day:

We’re shortlisted for the MPA Inspiration Awards 2018!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for the MPA Inspiration Awards 2018.

The awards are about to celebrate their 6th year running this year, and are dedicated to recognising the Creative Digital and Media industry in Greater Manchester. From freelancers to creative agencies, film production teams to animation and PR agencies to media sales, there’s a whole host of great categories recognising the achievements of Manchester’s digital sector and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.

Our team has been shortlisted this year for not one, but two awards!

First up, our very own Digital Marketing Apprentice Andrew Flynn has been shortlisted for the Apprentice Award amongst five other finalists. Andrew has been with us since 2017, after joining the company through The Juice Academy.

Andrew Flynn - Pixel Kicks Digital Marketing Apprentice

He integrated into the team in no time at all, and has become a valued member of the Digital Marketing team. Through all his hard work and dedication this past year, we’re feeling very proud that he’s been shortlisted for this award.

Here’s what he had to say of the recognition: “It’s great to be shortlisted for an award, especially to be in a category alongside Imogen Gee of Seventy7. We’ve been studying together at The Juice Academy over the past year and I know she’s been doing a superb job over there. It’s quite crazy to think I’ve already been a member of the Pixel Kicks team for just under a year – time flies! I’m just looking forward to being part of the occasion and hopefully we’ll have a night to remember.”

Well done Andy, we’re all rooting for you!

Secondly, Pixel Kicks has been shortlisted for the Small Media Agency of the Year award at the MPA’s. We’re extremely proud of the hard work that our team puts in day in day out, and very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the awards this year.

Pixel Kicks Team

There’s some brilliant companies and individuals shortlisted for the awards, and it makes us very proud to be a part of Manchester’s digital sector. We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone on the night!

We wish everyone involved in the MPA Inspiration Awards 2018 the best of luck!

Optimising your Google My Business Listing: The ultimate guide

how to optimise your google my business listing 2018

Google My Business is an important free tool for any company looking to improve their online presence and local rankings.

Creating a Google My Business listing enables your company information to appear in places like Google Maps, Google Search and Google+, as it uses company details to refine local searches and help customers find relevant, nearby businesses.  It’s a good place to start for any new business seeking local exposure, and an important platform for established companies to check that they’re present on, with accurate and up-to-date information.

Google has over 90% of the worldwide search engine market share, which is a clear indication of the value that having an organic ranking presence on Google can provide for you and your business. It’s worth your time to ensure that you make the most of Google’s business listing tools, and fully optimise your listing for the best results. Here’s how to…

Setting up your Google My Business listing

There’s a good chance that if you own an established business that has been operating for a number of years, it may already have a Google My Business listing without your knowledge. To find out if this is the case, search for your business using its name and address here. If it shows as an existing listing, you can continue through to claim the business and add it to your Google account where you can then manage it from.

Google My Business local search listing

If the process doesn’t work out so straight forward, and you’re notified that someone has already claimed your GMB listing, you can request ownership of it by following these instructions.

Adding a new business listing is as simple as continuing through the process after searching your business name. Be sure to enter your correct business details and find the most relevant category to assign it to, in order to create the most accurate listing possible. Don’t forget to verify your business straight away (this can usually be done via phone, email or post), otherwise your listing and changes won’t appear on Google.

Ensuring that you fill in all of the information that Google asks for is very important, in order to provide valuable information to potential customers, such as where to find you and your opening hours. Here’s some of the details that you are required to complete…

  • Business Name – Keep this consistent with both your online and offline world, so customers can easily identify your business.
  • Category – Try to find the category which matches your business the closest, in order to provide users with the most relevant search results, so they can find exactly what they’re searching for.
  • Location – Your business will be visible to users searching nearby, so ensure that you have the location details correct. If you re-locate, be sure to update your address immediately (you will then need to verify this change).
  • Opening Hours – Make your business listing as helpful as it can be to potential customers, and let them know exactly when they can visit or get in touch with you. Be sure to update these hours if you have any special times of operation during holidays etc, as you don’t want to leave potential customers disappointed. For frequently visited businesses i.e. supermarkets, restaurants and gyms etc, Google will also provide further helpful information such as the busiest times and how long people typically spend there.
  • Phone Number – Let users contact you quickly by providing a phone number, which they can then call straight from your Google My Business listing if using a mobile device.
  • Website – Chances are, most people searching for your business on Google will be wanting to find your website, so be sure to add your URL as it’s one of the first things they will see.
  • Attributes – If you’ve got any particular features of your business that you want to shout about i.e. WiFi, gluten-free menu options or disabled access, you can promote these on your listing via the Attributes option.

If you don’t fill out of all of the relevant details, there’s the risk that someone else might do. When you view your listing on Google you’ll see the “Suggest an edit” option – which is open to everyone on Google, even your competitors. With this option, any user can edit just about every detail of your listing if they choose to – which can definitely pose risks to businesses.

editing company information on google my business

In a similar way, Google gives users the option to answer questions about local businesses – once again risking sabotage from competitors. With this being said, it’s important to log in to your dashboard and check your business listing regularly, to ensure that there’s been no foul play.

Top Tips

  1. Keep your information consistent – Google’s algorithm takes into account the consistency of how business information is entered across different websites, in order to verify the legitimacy of the listings. If you’re submitting your company to many different relevant directories, ensure that your company name and address is written in a standard format, exactly the same across each website.
  2. Use a local phone number – Using a phone number with a local area code lets Google know that your business is definitely situated in the local area, and adds an extra legitimacy factor to your listing.
  3. Follow Google’s guidelines – Listings that don’t follow the guidelines for representing your business on Google are at risk of suspension. A few things to avoid include stuffing keywords into your business name field, URL’s that redirect to your website’s URL and using an address that isn’t your physical office space or storefront. You can read through the full list of guidelines here.

Enhancing your listing

Now that you’ve covered all of the basics, it’s important to enhance your Google My Business listing with some of the useful tools provided. A great listing packed full of helpful information, visuals and links is more likely to stand out and attract the attention of potential customers, so it’s well worth making use of some of the following features…

Photos & Virtual Tour

It’s a well-known fact that people are generally more perceptive to images and videos than text, when browsing any kind of website or social media. Visual aids are great for grabbing the attention of a user, as long as they’re relevant and high quality. According to Google, GMB listings that have photos and a virtual tour generate twice as much interest as those that don’t, so it’s an easy win.

Google My Business Virtual Tour and Photos

Popular choices for photos uploaded to Google My Business listings include products, company logos, team shots and really just about anything that shows off your business in the best possible light. With this being said, it’s important to ensure that all images are of high quality and resolution, and where possible, the use of stock photos avoided. Generic photos that aren’t unique to your business won’t benefit your profile as much as shots taken by yourself or a professional, that showcase elements of your company.

Once you have verified your listing, Google will automatically pull a street view capture from outside your location if possible, to give customers a better idea of the business location prior to visiting, and also just to really bring it to life and personalise the listing. However, there’s an even better way to enhance your listing – with a virtual tour. Google certified photographers are available to produce 360° virtual tours of your premises, as the perfect way to provide users a sneak peek into your business.


Reviews are a great way to increase your online presence and provide a credible trust factor to potential customers. Not only do reviews increase the likelihood of conversions, but they’re also one of the biggest ranking factors involved in local search results.  Google reviews are displayed under local listings in search results, and those with more highly-rated reviews naturally show higher.

The impact of Google reviews

If you have 25 5* reviews, and your nearest competitor has either no reviews or poorly rated ones, this will be a huge influencing factor when it comes to potential customers approaching your business. According to a BrightLocal survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, as it goes without saying that we base a lot of our purchasing decisions based on positive experiences that others have had.

We would highly recommend working to try and generate as many Google reviews for your business as possible. This can be as simple as sending a follow-up email to customers after they have received their purchase to politely ask them to rate your service/products, but it can make a huge difference to your business.

Utilise Google Posts

As Google rolled out quite a few updates to their Local Search in 2017, they introduced Google Posts. Latest company updates can now be displayed under your listing, and provides the perfect opportunity to promote your services, products or share any news and events with a wider audience.

Google posts don’t currently have any influence on rankings, but are a great way to give your listing more prominence and visibility, and encourage users to click through.

A few Google Post tips:

  • The optimal image size to be used for posts is 750 x 750, anything less than 250px will be rejected.
  • Don’t stuff keywords into your posts – it won’t do you any favours.
  • Focus on the first 100 characters of the post, as this is what will be shown in the Knowledge Panel. Use carefully thought out sentences which don’t get cut off at the end, and entice users to want to read more.
  • The newest post is always displayed first, and the rest are shown in a carousel format.
  • Posts are only live for seven days, so keep posting frequently to keep this section ticking over before all of the posts expire.

Optimise your website, too

Ensuring that your website and content is fully optimised for search, is just as important as optimising your Google My Business Listing. Google takes note of the strength of your websites’ SEO, and a website that is optimised for both customers and search engines is more likely to make it into the top three of the local Google search listings.

Local search SEO tips:

  • Optimise existing pages on your website to identify with your local demographic. Add local contact details, include your town or city in page titles and descriptions, and add a map to your website, which you can easily embed from Google Maps.
  • Create good quality, relevant content with a local focus
  • Spend some time looking for local linking opportunities. Check out this list of local link building tactics that may work for you.

It will take a while to build up your local SEO, and improvements don’t happen overnight. Be patient, and it will prove to have a big payoff for your company. If you want some help in this field, get in touch with us to find out more about what our SEO experts can do to improve your local rankings and visibility.

SEO Trends in 2018 – An Expert Round-up of Ranking Factors

SEO Trends in 2018 - lion

With constantly changing Google algorithms and innovative techniques, the world of SEO is forever developing.

Ideas that were once considered effective are now seen as grey or black hat, having a detrimental effect, if any, on websites.

Google's HQ: SEO trends 2018

There’s no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to search engine optimisation, so it’s important to get a good understanding of the individual needs of each business/brand in order to tailor an SEO campaign that works for them.

Updated June 2019: Go here if you want to read a comprehensive guide on “How to Increase Google Rankings“.

That being said, there’s a few key SEO techniques which look set to take over in 2018, including:

  • Voice search
  • Video content
  • Increased use of long-tail keywords
  • A bigger focus on responsive mobile sites
  • Emphasis on creating a flawless user experience

To get a clear idea of what we can expect to see happen in the search world in the very near future, we contacted a number of experts and agencies from around the UK & Ireland (and one in Australia!) to get their opinions.

We asked them to answer the following questions:

1. What SEO techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Here’s what they had to say…

Dan HoltBoss Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

With the increased role of machine learning, I believe SEO will continue to become less about tactics and more about building real brands. Artificial Intelligence will mean that what works in one market will not necessarily work in another, and consequently we will need to understand the motivations and interests of our specific audience rather than attempting to shoehorn them all into the generic SEO strategies. In one market your presence on a particular social platform might be really important while in another Google may not consider it significant at all. Likewise with devices, we always assume Google is placing an ever growing emphasis on mobile, but what if a particular market is still dominated by desktop? With machine learning we will need to stop applying these crude universal rules across the board and start thinking more individually about our brands and our audiences.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I think all the tactics that were destined to die out (aggressive link building, spammy/duplicate content, etc) have already done so. I think those techniques we are using today (content marketing, social media, PR, influencer marketing, UX design, technical SEO and rich landing pages) will all continue to be important but the way that we think about them will change as we evolve our philosophy to be less about these individual tactics and more about holistic brand and content strategies, with SEO as just one (albeit very important) channel.

That’s the paradox with SEO now; those organisations that focus on their brands will perform far better in the search engines (in my opinion) than those that merely obsess over rankings!

Bowler HatMarcus MillerBowler Hat

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I think 2018 is really just going to continue the gradual evolution of search – nothing new as such, just gradual, incremental improvements and progress.

Mobile will be hugely important. Businesses will start to understand that there is more to creating a well optimised mobile experience than simply having a responsive website. We really have to consider what tasks a user is willing to do on mobile versus desktop, and optimise not just the layout, but the entire mobile experience. Responsive web design will form part of this. In a recent Search Engine Land column, I detailed 25 factors beyond basic on-page optimisation that can be used to create a mobile website experience that really focuses on the wants and needs of that mobile user. So mobile. Which is all kinds of obvious, but, if we really consider user experience across technical optimisation, page speed, navigation, search and commerce there is way more that most sites can do to fine-tune the mobile experience. As Google gets cleverer at understanding sites and looks at mobile user experience more and more then focusing on what the user wants will only help your SEO (and users.)

Advanced SERP features are interesting as well. We have results now where we may see four ads, a featured snippet answer box in position #0 and four ‘People-also-ask results’. These results are super interesting as a click will expose the answer and add a few more related questions to the bottom of the list. In theory, a user may never actually get to the traditional organic results which themselves start at around position 10 if we account for ads (and if the ads have site links a user can see 20 or so options before they see an organic listing). Learning how to target these advanced SERP features for your specific industry is hugely important (and something I covered in another SEL column).

And of course, content is still the backbone of most large scale SEO. That is not going to change anytime soon.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Google has stated that it would like to be able to understand content without structured data markup. Now, I can’t see that going away in 2018, but certainly, that is a stated goal which would make life a little easier for many smaller sites.

I would also hope that with the continued evolution of Penguin and Panda, spammy techniques will finally die. For larger clients, this is less of a problem, but in the small business space, link and local spam is still prevalent. There are still SEO companies selling the likes of manufactured sites hosted on renewed domains. The mind boggles on this front and I have watched this war on SEO spam since 2003 when the Florida update dropped so I expect the struggle to continue in certain corners of the web – but I would certainly like this to go away.

Tom Lacey - Brothers DigitalTom LaceyBrothers Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

We’re predicting SEO strategies to become increasingly localised and tailored for individual users instead of groups of users. We know so much about our users but only a small amount of that information usually goes into an SEO strategy. In 2018, we’ll see search engines use that data to serve tailored digital experiences to individual users and SEOs will seek to find a way to manipulate that algorithm to find an advantage for their clients.

With the explosion of mobile search, we’ll continue to see SEOs look narrower than regions, counties or even suburbs. SEOs will start to optimise content for extremely defined user locations, like around one of their shops or in a cafe district, to guarantee they capture every potential qualified lead. Walk into any department store and you are almost certain to see at least a few customers walking around phone in hand. Consumers are slowly preferring to turn to their devices for advice on products or services instead of a salesperson or shop and it will be the job of the SEO to ensure the content they see is what we want them to see.

Recently I was in a store looking for advice on a smartwatch to replace my old faithful. I’m an Android user and was looking specifically for Android devices. The shop assistant confessed he was ‘an Apple man’ and that he knew very little about Android devices. He offered to check the computer but I had already been searching the devices for specifications, reviews and price. One of the top results was a competitor who showed they had the device I wanted in stock in their nearby outlet. They won my business. There would have been an SEO working on that website which meant that in 2017, that business earned my money. In 2007, I would have stayed and heard what the shop assistant had the say and likely, would have bought from there.

Hyper-localisation offers consumers a new way to search for and compare products and services and in 2018, SEOs will look to serve those searches with hyper-localised SEO strategies.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

We’re predicting traditional link-building strategies to head towards extinction in 2018. We’re predicting search engines to begin to prioritise linkless mentions instead of links as a sign of authority for a website. We believe that eventually, linkless mentions will be a more important off-site ranking factor than links and I expect old-hat link-building to become a thing of past when it does.

SEO Analytics

Marvin MagusaraBubble Local

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I’m a strong believer that there is no one-fits-all solution in the SEO world. Every company should really experiment with different strategies to see which one works best for them and stick with it.

However, a lot of proven SEO techniques seem to deliver positive outcomes for most companies. I think creating in-depth content will certainly keep being a prominent technique in 2018 because it is a great way to expand your organic SERPs – especially if your existing site is already ranking well, as adding extra content and updated information will help it rank for even more terms.

In addition, I’ve noticed that there is one trend that’s dominating the market and will probably get even more traction in the coming year: Youtube videos. By optimizing Youtube videos, your site will get traffic from Google as well as the video publishing platform, so make sure your video titles and descriptions are SEO friendly to make them rank on search.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

As I said, there are no right or wrong techniques in white hat SEO. Black hat SEO techniques, on the other hand, will likely be one-step closer to extinction by the next year. Buying links, private blog networks, relying on press releases or even using low-quality links are just a few examples of the things no company should be using right now as they could be subject to the new Penguin algorithm and see an immediate drop in rankings.

Jonathon ForshawDigipeak

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I believe that backlinks will have the same factor they have now in 2018, backlinks account to over 50% as a ranking factor. I see them counting more next year rather than less. As its hard to build backlinks, this will always be ranking factor.

Keywords. I see the use of voice for Google search being bigger and long tail keywords like “where is the nearest dentist to me” local companies need to have a local SEO presence and need to appear at first position in the local SERP’s.

Articles and Voice Search in 2018. I also see more articles next year being less informational like “top 6 reasons to x” more about where they are located to boost the voice searches. For instance, when people search using their voice on their mobile device, which a lot do now in 2017, this will increase in 2018.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I believe long articles that are 1,500+ words will not be as popular and or will be extinct. I have done research and have seen that article length has a small ranking increase in Google. People do not want to read over 1,500-word articles, people get bored. They want to get straight to the point. Small bite-size information I find works best. We know that bounce rate is a ranking factor, so long articles that people lose interest and will bounce off will, therefore, lower the ranking in Google.

Not only that, but a lot of businesses don’t have time or money to create such long articles. Building backlinks to the article I find help’s the article get ranking, not the length.

Ducard - Annie Constable & Chloe WoodhouseAnnie Constable & Chloe WoodhouseDucard

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

We both agree that 2018 we see a continuation of featured snippets being pushed for all types of content, lists, answers, recipes and more. These snippets also form the basis of the voice search features in Google home so we think their importance will carry on growing next year as this platform expands (we are sure a lot of people will be opening Google, Alexa and other home voice units in their stockings this Christmas!). and a quick note for serving content using AMP – this will be massive in 2018 for retail and travel clients especially!

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Annie – I think the traditional keyword stuffing of Title tags will finally die out next year. Its moved much more towards serving the right types of content not just the content itself so we think you will see far more emoji’s, descriptive and well written 70 character snippets than keyword | keyword | keyword | keyword (hopefully!)

Chloe – I agree on the title tags point, but would also add a wish for the extinction of full page splash ads that drop down over the content and are a nightmare to get rid of. Bounce rates and user interaction should hopefully start pushing these webpages down and giving advertisers a message to start serving the content we want and not forcing unsolicited, unrelated ads on us (if you are going to do it, use subtlety and related search!)

Marc HeighwayFIMA Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

From what we are already seeing, more and more of the Google SERPs are being taken over. Whether that’s with ad space, or rich snippets, I can see us scrolling even further now to get to those much in-demand top organic positions.

So, it would make perfect sense to me to see SEO consultants focus more on rich snippets and mark-up data – if they aren’t already of course! If you aren’t now, then you should be.

I would also imagine that in 2018 we will need to react due to the increased use of Google’s AI Technology to rank content. Just have a look at some of the thoughts being published regarding Google’s purchase of the DeepMind organisation to see what could be coming in the near future.

At the most basic level, SEOs need to think about the fact Google will be able to far closely imitate what a human user can do.

So that means a larger shift towards user-experience. Think about how you can focus on that as well as learning how your real users are actually interacting with your content and ways in which you can improve upon it.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I am sure some people will say link-building, but I don’t agree. Broadly speaking though, even things that reputable SEO consultants figured out didn’t work 5 years ago are still going to be done by some people.

This is an unfortunate by-product of what I see to be web design companies and digital agencies selling SEO services, but not having the expertise to fulfill it properly.

I am sure there will still be companies selling SEO, and doing everything that they shouldn’t do. So, for people like us this is good as hopefully it will mean more clients looking for specialist SEO support that actually works.

Google iPad

 Gary McGeownNi SEO

In the same way that for many years, the Google motto was well-known as “Don’t be Evil” the best advice for websites in the coming year must be “Don’t Be Non-Relevant!”

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

The Big Guy doesn’t always win!

In the search world where Google values users over websites, there will always be an opportunity to compete and what we’re seeing is an increasing move toward “relevance” all the way down the line. As the Google algorithm fluctuates and evolves, at different times they give more credit or weight to different factors, and right now (from the information at our disposal) it seems to us that they like “exact match.”

The opportunity that we see is to be very relevant at a local level for high volume keywords (long-tail first) and the relevance assessment begins with domain name, title, inner pages and content. Then, in linking you must value relevance over volume, and so local/ geographic and niche relevant citations, and other “extremely relevant” inbound links are the way forward.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Death of Amateur SEO

We predict the death of the amateur SEO, using high-volume links with little relevance or value. As the search marketing environment, and Google in particular becomes more intelligent, a much more intelligent approach to search engine optimisation is absolutely essential. Anything else is just wasting money!

Grant McArthur – Grant McArthur

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I know a lot of people are thinking and talking that voice search will be a massive part of 2018, with the rise of home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home but honestly I think this is a novelty that will take a long time to catch on properly and make any significant changes to the SERPs, and even then it will be dominated by very basic searches like ‘what is the weather to be like tomorrow?’ and ‘what time does the local shop close tonight’. Users are still always going to turn to a computer or their phone to find that pair of shoes they want to buy or find a plumber to fix the leak in the bathroom.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I don’t think anything really will be heading towards extinction next year, just everything will be to be tightened up and implemented better with the rise of AI and machine learning.

Graham Tester - Omni SearchGraham TesterOmni Search

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Mobile-first SEO is something that will be a huge focus this coming year. If you thought 2017 was a big year for mobile web browsing, 2018 is going to be even bigger. Google are specifically placing emphasis on the importance of mobile responsive sites by introducing mobile-first indexing. Previously, sites have been ranked on the content and experience of their desktop site, including site speed, security and so on. Now Google are going to start ranking sites based on their mobile content and experience. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, you need to act quick, or you’re going to drop rankings. If Google can’t see your content on your mobile site, then they can’t rank you for it.

In the same vein, AMPs will also become more prominent. These super lightweight, super-fast loading HTML pages are great for publishers. The streamlined articles mean less readers will abandon the page due to rapid load times. Content is still a main focus for 2018, so keep writing pieces that will allow you to rank! You also need to make sure content has a conversational tone so that it is optimised for voice search.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Site speed is more important than ever, so slow loading full screen videos are going to have to go. Another thing that will start to change is the way content is viewed. It should be quality over quantity, and keyword stuffed posts are becoming less and less acceptable. Existing content on websites should be re-read and assessed for their value and then either edited to be kept up to date, or removed completely. Sites with topical quick-hit content will be replaced in the long-run by those with a solid content strategy.


SEO Whitehat Strategies

Oskar Nowik – Oskar SEO

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Each year, SEO gets more advanced which is actually a great thing for someone who’s dedicated to doing it full-time. This means that a lot of your competition will have to either adapt quickly or give up SEO completely. One of the forms of adaptions that you’re going to see more and more in 2018 is ranking for long-tail keywords.

A few years ago, you could create a spammy website with duplicate content and rank it within a few weeks. Your domain age or amount of content-rich pages didn’t play any significant role. However, as a result of AI development, Google is now smarter than ever before.

What’s the consequence of that? It’s going to take a lot more time and authority to show up on the first page for major short-tail keywords. And new businesses won’t be able to recreate that sort of authority or afford to wait so long for their website to rank. This doesn’t mean, however, that SEO won’t be one of their customer generation methods. In fact, you’re going to see more and more people investing in SEO as paid traffic channels will get expensive.

What new website owners will focus on will be long-tail traffic. Through publishing long pieces of content optimised for small keywords, they’ll be able to get a lot of traffic while they’re still nowhere to be found for their short-tail terms. At the end of the day, 20% of searches are new and have never been asked before. This is something that people will take advantage of in 2018, myself included.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

In 2018, big keywords will be dominated by huge and old authority sites. This is nothing new and has been happening for a while now. However, it will become even more visible next year. As a result, trying to get traffic through short-tail keywords will become almost impossible to achieve (without a huge budget) and old-school.

Back in the day, you could just pick a few huge terms relevant for your niche and focus entirely on ranking for them and would most likely get results. You can still give this a try in 2018 but I promise, it will be extremely frustrating as you’re unlikely to rank anywhere on the first page any time soon. Short-tail keywords are sexy. Whether you do client SEO, affiliate SEO or any other form of SEO, it’s always exciting to rank for the big terms. But again, people will realise how hard it is and abandon them completely in favour or long-tail keywords. Ranking for short-tail will become more popular on alternative search engines like YouTube or Amazon.

Jean PaldanRare Form New Media

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I’ve always said to my clients ‘content is king, but clarity is the emperor’. This is never going to be more true than moving into 2018. Google released RankBrain in 2016 and it has been learning ever since. (Rankbrain is an AI machine learning that understands what people are searching for and provides the most accurate information). What this means for SEOers is that we are going to need to up our content game. Here are my top 3 tips:

  1. Create ORIGINAL, focused content only, that passes copyspace. Spinning your text is something you can’t do safely anymore.
  2. Integrate LSI (latent semantic index) keywords and long tail keywords into your copy and on your core web pages.
  3. Focus on one search term per page. Also keep your content focused as a whole, if you have a product/service on one page, just talk about that and not dilute it by talking about similar products.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Backlinks have always been a necessity in SEO. Something that I have predicted for years is that quality of links will outweigh quantity.  And the concept of ‘I have the most backlinks, therefore I am the best’ is going to go away completely, and 2018 is the year.  You would rather have 5 high quality links with high domain authority than say,100 links from low domain authority sites. This will mean that a lot of SEOers are going to have do a lot of link cleaning and quality link building to stay on top.

Rob BaileySEO Article Heroes

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Content creation and user experience (UX) are going to become more prominent. Whilst backlinks are going to remain highly important, Google is starting to place a lot more emphasis on on-site content. Attempts to create content purely for the sake of getting linked to will be replaced by high quality useful content which will be customers/clients or anyone working in a particular industry. There’s also going to be a lot more emphasis on User Experience, having good content isn’t going to be enough anymore. Website’s will need to be easy to navigate for example; on-site blogs are more likely to be categorised into sections rather than having to scroll through “older” and “newer” to find the post you want.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

PBN’s have being dying a slow death for quite some time now but I think 2018 will be the year they die. Some SEO companies still think it’s okay to use them despite knowing that they violate Google’s Guidelines. Google have talked extensively about clamping down on them for years but they do sometimes still work. So I’m not sure if it will be the search engines that strike the final blow on them or if it will be more of case of risk/reward. The few agencies still using them will stop using them because their clients are more likely to be aware that it is a black hat technique and because PBN’s are becoming more expensive than White Hat SEO to produce the same results.


Search Engine Optimization 1

SEO+ - Hazel JarrettHazel Jarrett – SEO+

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Going into 2018, there are a number of SEO techniques that I would expect to become more prominent. One that has already seen a big upturn is voice search.

Google was recently reported as saying that 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search daily. According to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search.

Beyond mobile phones, we’ve seen a big rise in the number of voice-enabled home devices resulting in voice search becoming a primary search interface.

Yext VP of Industry Insights Duane Forrester, recently discussed the landscape of voice search stating:

“Voice engagement is the most likely scenario that will challenge the biggest players in search for supremacy.”

For marketers to capitalise on the voice-first market place here’s three specific tactics to employ, in addition to SEO best practices:

  1.  Humanise your content – review your copy to check that the tone sounds natural and conversational rather than keyword-focused.
  2.  Answer the questions that your audience are likely to have – answering questions related to your products and services will give Google valuable content to return in response to voice queries.
  3.  Implement Schema to mark up your content – by applying Schema Markup to your pages where relevant, you can help to give Google a deeper context to the information provided.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

In 2018, we’ll see a huge reduction in websites that don’t put users first.

One of the main factors that Google uses to judge the quality of a website is user experience and websites that fail in this are unlikely to perform well.

Google has been telling us for years that we need to focus more on users and less on search engine optimisation (SEO)

I predict a major shift away from anything that creates a poor user experience, this includes slow load times, low quality content, poor design and hard to navigate sites.

While the main foundation elements of SEO such as keywords, metadata and optimised images will remain an important part of an SEO strategy, this will no longer be the main priority. It’s becoming less about SEO and more about user experience.

Going forwards, visually appealing sites that are mobile-friendly, quick to load and easy-to-navigate with a well-defined unique value proposition and high-quality content that genuinely provides value will fair far better at driving engagement and achieving higher conversion rates.

Kevin PurchaseSiruss

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

It’s no secret that Google is rolling out its mobile-first index, and while the process will take a while, much of the web is still behind on mobile usability. Just because your content resizes and your menu changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you deliver a positive mobile experience. Many people’s responsive websites are designed with desktop-first in mind, which often results in a slow-loading mobile experience. There will be a big need for mobile optimisation in 2018, and a real focus on putting mobile users first.

User Experience on both mobile and desktop is more important than ever. UX is much more than a fast-loading website. Delivering positive user journeys that allow for content discovery and ease-of-use on your website should be a big focus. Always look for opportunities to drive a user around your website whilst offering best-in-class, rich content.

In 2018, Google are likely to continue to include more information directly in their SERPs, in the form of local packs, Knowledge panels, featured snippets, etc. Your content will need to be well-structured and optimised not just to deliver one-dimensional information, but to solve a user’s needs and problems.

In a similar vein, you can’t visit an SEO blog at the moment without seeing a feature on Voice Search. Voice searchers typically use conversational sentences to search – targeting this kind of query will require adjustments to your content. A tool like Answer The Public is a great way to see questions relating to your topics and keywords.

Finally, let’s not forget that quality, contextual backlinks from a range of authoritative sources will still be the factor that influences your rankings the most. Bloggers are becoming more and more bored of standard guest post pitches (they’ve been receiving mediocre pitches for years at this point), so think outside of the box, build relationships and get creative.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I don’t see much being killed that isn’t already ineffective. I think you’ll hear less about Private Blog Networks (PBNs) as the search engines target them more aggressively. Not that these won’t be effective when built well, but more knowledge is required to avoid footprints and build a successful network, increasing the overall cost of entry which will deter less experienced SEOs.

Michael Brennan - SMB Clix Michael BrennanSMBclix

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

A clip of Gary Vaynerchuck was floating around Facebook in the past couple of days, where he was saying voice search on devices like Amazon Alexa is going to be the next big thing and while I do think he is on the right path, I definitely don’t think it’s going to be something to focus on in 2018. I don’t believe the technology is there yet. Sure Bill from California will have a great experience with devices like Alexa because of his extremely clear tone and dialect, but ask Wee Mental Davey from Glasgow about his experience with devices like this and he’ll tell you a very different story. Google works for anyone who can type, voice search works for anyone who can do a good American accent.

At the end of the day I think good content marketing will always win. So creating good content and promoting it ethically and within Google’s guidelines is the way forward. White Hat methods promoted by the likes of Brian Dean and Rand Fishkin will still remain strong in 2018 and beyond.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Thin content for long tail keywords. Back in the day you found a keyword, decided it was too hard to rank for, then found similar long tail keywords and wrote a multitude of articles on pretty much the same subject which all ranked because they were optimized for the one single long tail keyword.

The changes in Google’s algorithms now mean that this strategy won’t work any more in the long term, because the posts will cannibalize each other. Strong, informative content on a subject can now rank for multiple keywords so the days of thin content are numbered.


SEO Analytics Graph

Aaron Rudman-HawkinsThe Evergreen Agency

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

I foresee self-learning becoming much more mainstream in 2018, especially among small business owners who increasingly realise they cannot afford to pay marketing agencies to manage their online campaigns. Businesses across all industries are having to diversify their marketing activity across more channels than ever with the increasing rise of social media advertising and the sophisticated remarketing tactics being employed so paying agencies and marketers to do this is becoming unobtainable to many.

I believe the only option that will be left is the route of self-learning. Fortunately there are a wealth of excellent resources online including my SEO course online, which has been set up to help small business owners start the journey to learning how to grow their business online. For those just looking to get started, I have also created a ‘how to do SEO’ guide, which has 40+ free training videos as well.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Spammy link building and manipulative techniques will continue to be pushed further out of the way for mainstream businesses. I still see agencies and businesses alike deploying manipulative techniques in the desperate hope that will provide quick wins, it doesn’t happen and just like we have seen in 2017, I think that reality will continue to creep into the mind of those who up to now have persisted in the hope it ‘might’ work.

To succeed online, simply focus on quality content marketing and explore (test) all avenues, especially social media, email marketing and sales funnels. I have a mantra in my SEO agency that I instill in all my clients and that is ‘if you want your business top of Google, it must DESERVE to rank top of Google’. It really is as simple as that, if you can make that happen, your business is set today, tomorrow and indefinitely.

Alex Castle - ZEST DigitalAlex CastleZEST Digital

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

As Google’s machine learning becomes more and more intuitive and intelligent, user experience is coming to the fore as a real influencer on a site’s rank. Google’s algorithm  keeps a track of pages and sites that satisfy the user so this needs to be a primary concern for SEOs going forwards. By all means keep creating content, generating links and accelerating those mobile pages, but at all times think “How does this benefit the user?” If your answer is it doesn’t, move onto something that will.

Another huge consideration that people are probably sick to death of hearing about is making your site work well and look great on mobile. With most Google searches coming from mobile devices, the ever-impending mobile-first index and mobile-friendliness being a ranking factor, it would be criminal if anyone involved in digital marketing wasn’t asking “But does this work on mobile?” at least 6 times a day.

Featured snippets and knowledge panels are also being constantly refined by Google, which suggests this is something they care about, which means you should too. There seems to be a bit of experimentation going on recently so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Backlinks have long been a cornerstone of good SEO, but it is becoming more and more apparent that quality over quantity is the way to go. In fact, John Mueller of Google tweeted the other day that most sites are able to rank without a single backlink. There’s a ton of research that shows a very strong correlation between the highest ranking sites and having a lot of backlinks but, with Google’s increasingly intelligent Artificial Intelligence, we will start to see a devaluation and possible punishments for having a large number of unrelated and/or spammy backlinks. There’s lots of tools available that can show you where a backlink came from and how spammy it is so it would be worth brushing up on your link disavowing skills over the holidays to keep those links high quality and industry relevant.

Keyword Rankings

What does the Pixel Kicks Digital Marketing team think?

Pixel Kicks - Emma Clure Emma Clure – Pixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

With the majority of Google searches happening on mobile, it makes sense that a mobile-friendly experience should be at the forefront of any SEO strategy for 2018. This is a lot more than just a condensed version of your desktop site, it’s time to focus on mobile-optimised content to really get you ahead of the game.

With the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index, we need to be focusing on the complete user experience from start to finish: ‘What content do they want to see?’ ‘Where do they want to see it?’ ‘How easy can they access it?’ And most importantly, ‘does it work?’

This by no means that the desktop use is dying out. However, with more and more users opting to use mobile devices, if you don’t have a mobile site yet you need to act quick.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

It’s a very common theme each year that most SEOs predict the extinction of spammy backlink techniques. The truth is, these methods have been dying out for years but they’re still yet to be deemed extinct, and they probably won’t for a long while. Some people will continue to seek out 100’s of low quality backlinks over a few high quality ones year after year, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be effective in certain circumstances.

Pixel Kicks - Jamie SwainJamie SwainPixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

For the past few years, a focus on mobile-friendly user experiences has become more and more prominent, and although it is already a key aspect in SEO, it will hit its peak in 2018. With the majority of Google search users accessing websites from a mobile, it’s obvious that the search engine needs to tailor its algorithms towards its users. ‘Mobile first indexing’ was previously announced by Google, meaning your mobile site will be seen as the real thing. A good responsive website that runs perfectly for users on all devices is the priority, but if this isn’t something you have, ensure your mobile site provides a flawless UX.

Video content is something that’s also on the rise. With Google owning YouTube, there are clear benefits to getting behind video content. Not only is it a way of generating traffic, but including the video in your website content can help increase your dwell time – another ranking factor. YouTube results are starting to appear in Google Search & Image results, so if you create some great, relevant content, you’ll be increasing your visibility.

These are two things that are going to become more prominent than they currently are in 2018, but neither of them will overtake the most important aspect of all – content. If you create good content, better than most other competitors in the field, you’ll be rubbing your hands together. You’ll be showing Google that you’re an authority on the topic you’re writing about, and that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

Content that is clearly designed for SEO purposes is something that Google is already cutting down on – extinction is the only way it can go. Dropping obvious keywords into a piece of content as many times as possible, while not focusing on the quality and relevance of the content will get a site nowhere (apart from down!).

Sites that see having a huge number of backlinks as a big benefit will start to die down too. Link building is an ever-relevant technique, but it’s only going to have any good effect when the links are good quality. The old cliché “quality over quantity” is at home with this one.

Pixel Kicks - Andrew FlynnAndrew FlynnPixel Kicks

1. What techniques do you think will become more prominent in 2018?

Overall, website content will become more tailored to the consumer’s direct wants and needs, as opposed to the overall aim of the website. There will be a greater acceptance of user experience having a direct impact on how RankBrain perceives a webpage. Combining the hard work of web-development teams with hyper-relevant publications will ensure a positive and engaged user experience, giving the audience the information they desire both thoroughly and efficiently.

Produce pages that overwhelmingly satisfy the needs of the audience. Provide in-depth answers to their most searching questions.

Speaking for myself, the audience will be at the forefront of every decision and detail. I’ll be doing my best to learn how they interact with our content to make sure we’re picking up on their actions.

Online resources such as and the LSI Keyword Generator will play a huge role in achieving this. Firstly to discover the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topics we’re writing about. Secondly, we can pinpoint the strongest keywords in terms of relevance to the topic.

2. Similarly, what techniques can you see heading towards extinction next year?

I’m not entirely sure about the extinction of any of the key techniques as we go into the next year. However, with the above in mind, I do strongly believe in the growing emphasis on quality over quantity. We’re already seeing content strategies transition away from keyword-stuffing, and I’d expect to see lots of SEOs going through their content to reevaluate just how much value it actually holds for the user.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our article, with valuable and differing views on what we can expect to see. Let’s see where the world of SEO takes us in 2018…

Read some of our previous articles:

The 15 most important Google Adwords PPC tips for 2017

Google Adwords PPC Manchester

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is becoming an increasingly popular way to drive traffic to your website and boost sales.

The main idea behind PPC is to pay for every click to your website which is generated by the advert – and this can be as little or as much as you want. A successful PPC campaign can generate a substantial ROI, providing that the clicks are achieving conversions.

The service is offered by many providers in different ways, including Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Yahoo and the most popular of all – Google AdWords. Their platform runs across Google’s search engine, and a whole host of other Google properties and websites where the adverts may be shown.

With Google AdWords, you’re in control of your own advertising campaign, and there’s a number of ways to ensure that it’s successful for your business. Here’s our 15 top tips for 2017…

1. Choose your keywords wisely

Google AdWords Keyword Planner for PPC

A benefit of using internet PPC advertising is that you can target your ads to people interested in the products you offer. The best way to do this is by ensuring that you’re using suitable keywords, to generate the most targeted traffic possible.

Google’s Keyword Planner is a useful tool to find new keywords relating to your products, along with search volume data and trends to give you an idea of the number of impressions and clicks you’re likely to make. Start off by looking at broad match keywords until you’ve collected enough data to be sure which ones are working well, and then you can narrow them down to exact match keywords for closer targeting and more relevant clicks.

2. Make use of negative keywords

The last thing you want to do is be paying for dead-end clicks from people looking for entirely different products from what you’re offering. This is where negative keywords come in handy, so you can filter out all of the irrelevant content.

For example, if you’re a car salesman dealing in used cars, you can exclude the word “new” from any searches, so that you won’t appear for those looking for only new cars. There’s no reason not to make use of the negative keywords feature, as it can only enhance your campaign and make best use of your budget.

3. Create targeted ad copy

You only have a limited amount of text that accompanies your ad, so it’s important to ensure that it’s relevant, informative and to the point. Don’t try too hard trying to squeeze as many keywords in as possible, as it’s not important. You need to write persuasive text to encourage the customer to click through to your website – listing key services that you think the customer might be interested in is always a good start.

4. Differentiate your ad from competitors’

competitive pricing

Take a look at what your competitors are offering, and beat them. Are you ahead of the game when it comes to offering lower prices or free shipping? If you’re running any special deals or promotions that will make you stand out from the rest, promote it.

You can even use call-to-actions such as “free download” to draw customers in and “learn more” to encourage them to click-through.

5. Lead to a suitable landing page

One of the major mistakes people make when setting up a PPC campaign, is by simply directing the ads to their homepage without any thought. A homepage is not a landing page unless it’s been tailored to meet the needs of a perfect landing page which allows the customer to see all of the information they need, and take the appropriate action.

There’s nothing quite as frustrating for a customer than clicking through to an ad for a product and ending up on the website’s homepage. This only makes it harder work for the customer, who has to decide whether or not they’ll then put the effort into searching for the product. Each product should have their own page, with plenty of information picking up from where the ad left off, and a clear call-to-action button such as “buy now” or “subscribe here” so that everything is kept simple.

6. Match keywords on your landing page

It goes without saying that your landing page must be relevant to your advert, for obvious reasons. To make the landing page even better, it’s worth having some of your keywords on the page too. This will happen naturally if the landing page is as relevant as it should be, but by including searched keywords, this will increase your Google Quality Score, reducing the cost of your ads. However, just don’t try to stuff each and every keyword in there! A few good ones will do.

7. Aim for a high Quality Score

Optimise your PPC Google AdWords Campaign

Google provides a Quality Score for all PPC Campaigns, determined by the following main factors: click-through rate, ad relevance, landing page experience, keyword relevance and historical AdWords account performance. It’s not known how much each of the factors contributes to the overall quality score, but click-through rate is the most important.

Your overall score will help determine the ranking of your ads on the Google search page, so it’s important to make a good effort to aim high. Quality Score has a direct impact on the success of a PPC campaign, so a good quality score can contribute to a higher ROI via conversions.

A higher Quality Score generally results in a lower cost per conversion (the amount you pay when someone takes the action you want them to, whether that be requesting a free demo or making a purchase), as it shows that your ad is relevant and meeting customers’ needs, so Google will charge you less for clicks.

You can achieve a high Quality Score by following the rules set up by Google AdWords, and focusing on these key areas to refine your ads:

  • Optimize landing pages that directly connect with your ad groups, to give the best customer experience and a greater chance of conversions.
  • Refine ad text by testing out different ads targeted to individual ad groups, and seeing which gets a higher CTR.
  • Conduct keyword research to find new, relevant keywords to add to your campaigns. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to use for discovering new keywords and viewing their estimated search volume.
  • Organise keywords into tight-knitted groups based on their relevance, so that they can be closely tied to individual ad campaigns with the most relevant ads possible, to increase their effectiveness.
  • Add negative keywords for irrelevant search terms to avoid wasting your budget. This is an ongoing process that should be continuously monitored and researched.

8. Use ad extensions

While using ad extensions doesn’t directly impact your Quality Score, they can affect your ad rank. Ad extensions are a way of including extra information for potential customers, and making your ad more prominent on the search results page.

Not all ads are eligible to show extensions though, and it’s usually the ads in the higher positions that get priority over using them. This is why typically, ads with extensions carry a higher CPC due to competition over using them. However, it’s worth adding a few extensions to your ads with the chance that they might show.

9. Create precise ad groups

Optimizing your campaigns as thoroughly as possible is crucial to determining their success. The key to optimization is organisation, which is why it’s a good idea to keep all of your related keywords in one ad group. By creating similarly themed campaigns and ad groups, you can easily monitor your costs and the effectiveness of all closely related keywords. Otherwise, it can be easy to bury more expensive keywords in less-costly keywords with broad campaigns, making it difficult to assess its effectiveness.

This practice is particularly useful when it comes to assigning negative keywords to an entire ad group, so that you can be sure to strip out any irrelevant searches from the results and avoid being charged for clicks that get no results and could’ve easily been avoided.

10. Use location targeting

Location targeting

In order to reduce costs, it’s a good idea to target your ads to a specific location for broad match terms. For example, if you want to target people searching for a PPC agency in Manchester, they will only need to search “PPC agency” if they’re in the area and the ad will show in their results. However, the ad wouldn’t appear for a user in London who searches for the same term – reducing the likelihood of irrelevant clicks. A separate national campaign can then also be set up with no location limitations, but requires the user to search a geographical term such as “PPC agency Manchester” for the ad to appear.

11. Schedule your ads to run at specific times

You can decrease your budget by scheduling your ads to only run at set times. Perhaps there’s certain times that you’re available for clients to contact you, or you’ve noticed via your “hour and day of the week” performance on the Ad Schedule subtab that your ad performs better within a certain time frame or on specific campaigns. If you have “all features” enabled on your campaign, you can specify certain hours or days of the week when you want your ads to show. You can even raise or lower bid amounts based on the time of day, using bid adjustments.

This might not be relevant for all campaigns, and if you want your ads to show 24/7 there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it can be a good way of utilising your budget to the best of its ability with a more tailored ad schedule.

12. Conduct a split test

In order to aim for the best Quality Score possible, it’s important to focus on getting a high CTR. To achieve this, you’ll need to see what ads work best for your campaign, and without testing this properly you’ll never know. Performing an A/B test means trialling different versions of an ad with different copy, and seeing which performs best.

There are 4 elements that can be changed in an ad: the headline, first line, second line and display URL. One way to conduct an A/B test is to create two different ads and test them against each other. When doing this, it’s important to have two very different ads, and completely change all 4 elements to give a more obvious result as to which ad worked best. Google will rotate which ad is viewed, allocating approximately half of the scheduled time to each ad, and by the end will show which one had a better click-through-rate and a lower cost-per-click.

Another method of A/B testing is to run several different ads against each other. To do this, you’ll only make minor edits to each ad – for example, changing only the headline on one, and the display line on another. You should repeat these small changes until you have a set of ads with slightly different variables, and can then see which element brought the most successful results.

Don’t leave your A/B tests running for longer than necessary, and be sure to conclude them when you’ve collected enough data to determine which was the most successful advert.

13. Utilise Device Adjustments

Mobile and desktop devices for PPC

Google now gives the opportunity to adjust bids for different devices, which comes as a great relief to some advertisers. For example, if you’re focused more on a mobile-device experience (maybe if your product is an app) you can increase your bids on mobile devices, so that more of your budget will cover this area as opposed to desktop clicks. It’s a great way to effectively allocate your budget and hopefully result in a higher number of relevant clicks and conversions.

14. Regularly check your budgets

View the data for your campaigns on a regular basis, and assess how well your budgets are working. If you find that you’re always hitting your budget, you’ll find that your ads won’t be showing for all eligible searches, and you could be missing out on important clicks due to exhausting your budget.

Increasing your budget is one way of working around this, ensuring that your ads are always being shown where possible, and receiving a higher number of clicks for the same CPC. Alternatively, if you don’t want to increase your budget, you can consider dropping your max bids, which will mean the ad might not rank as high, but will be active throughout the whole day and generate more clicks.

15. Monitor the campaign frequently

It can be easy to think that once you’ve set up a fully optimized ad campaign you can let it run its course, and it will start to bring in conversions and make a profit – but this is incorrect. To get the most out of a PPC campaign, it’s important to monitor it regularly to ensure its success. Competition changes all the time, and you might need to regularly adjust your bids to continue ranking high, refresh your ad copy frequently and keep on top of filtering out negative keywords.

If you don’t have the time to focus on monitoring your PPC campaign, find someone who does. Outsourcing the work to a PPC agency will cost you, but it gives you peace of mind knowing that the campaign is being managed and frees up your time to focus on other things. If you need help with your PPC campaigns, see what we can do for you here.

Why starting out as an apprentice worked out for me

Emma Clure

I started out at Pixel Kicks as an apprentice all the way back in 2012.

Emma Clure

Two years later and I’m still here, now a full time employee, and I’m pretty much living the dream. Ok, that might sound a little far fetched – I’m not a chart topping artist and I haven’t won the lottery – but as far as careers go, life is pretty dreamy.

As an 18-year-old college leaver, I was a little overwhelmed with the options I had lay out in front of me, knowing that what I chose to do would map out the rest of my life. However, University life wasn’t for me, and I didn’t want to step into a dead-end job just for the money. That’s when I discovered apprenticeships. A way to get your foot on the career path, while gaining extra qualifications AND earning money – what’s not to like?

After weeks of filling out tedious forms, sending off countless numbers of CV’s and attending mind boggling ‘induction’ days finally came my interview for Pixel Kicks. On paper, it all sounded very intriguing – ‘Web Design & Entertainment Journalism’. It was perfect. I’ve always liked to think of myself as a bit of a computer nerd, and graphics/design is definitely my thing. Anything in the entertainment sector is just a bonus. Thankfully, the interview went better than I could have hoped and I was thrilled to be starting my one year apprenticeship just two weeks later.

The start of something new

The apprenticeship, for me, was the best decision I’d ever made. I was learning something new everyday and my skills on the computer had rapidly developed. Within the first week, I’d been taught the functions of WordPress and social media handling sites, and it wasn’t long before I was mastering Premiere Pro and Photoshop. Of the latter, I already had quite vast experience thanks to my GCSE and A Level days, but there’s always something new to learn.

My job title became ‘Digital Content Creator’ – which meant I did exactly what it said on the tin. I found the thought of getting my work published online for all to see both thrilling and nerve-wracking. With the large followings on our music blogs and, you’re bound to be criticised for your efforts so I always had to make sure I was putting work out to be proud of. If anything, this turned me into a perfectionist and I was eager to learn as much as I possibly could and better my skills as fast as possible.

Now, as I previously mentioned I’ve been a Pixel Kicks employee for two years, which means I successfully passed my apprenticeship and became a full-time employee. Hurrah! I must’ve been doing something right…

Although I was no longer an apprentice, I was still learning. Making fun, interesting content for our followers became the focal point of my job. With this, I had to take it upon myself to expand my knowledge of the software I was already using, discovering new skills and techniques to create the best content I possibly could.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Writing is a huge part of my job, and although I do love it, my heart will always lie with the more creative aspect of the role and I like to think that’s where I excel. So, I’ve always jumped at the chance to work on graphics and videos. Before I knew it, I went from a Premiere Pro novice, to producing professionally synced acoustic session footage and intricately layered lyric videos, with the help of After Effects. In regards to Photoshop, it has become a massive part of my everyday working life and one of the things that I rely on the most. The creative skills that I have gained whilst working at Pixel Kicks have helped me design posters and infographics, as well as using it for the basics of resizing and adjusting images to feature within online posts.

The next challenge

Now that I’ve been in this job for two years, I like to see myself as a bit of a ‘master’ at what I do – so when the opportunity came up to learn something in a whole new field, the challenge was all too exciting. Of course, Pixel Kicks is a digital agency but it just so turned out that our music blogs became so successful that they are now a massive part of the business. So, it was only a matter of time before I began delving into the life of Web Design and SEO, all of which is still relatively new to me.


So, that’s where I’m at now. Slowly learning the basics of SEO and all that comes with it, in order to become a little bit involved with the overall running of the business. For me, this is exciting because it’s exactly the kind of opportunity I wanted to be able to grow within the business which will hopefully bring bigger and better things.

In regards to apprenticeships, they might not be for everyone but for me it was a starting point which consequently led to where I am today. I like to think that I was ‘lucky’ to land myself this job, but I know it wouldn’t have happened without the hard work and determination that is required in apprenticeships. After all, had I chose to go to University two years ago I’d most probably still be there now working towards a degree that I’d hope would land me a great job. But, now I’m here in my ideal job with two years experience behind me in something that I love to do.

The future is looking exciting!