How we get the “Feel Good Factor”

Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Test

Google recently announced that from April 21st, their ranking system will take into account if your site is mobile-friendly. Of course, this is positive for the way we, as users, use the internet. We search for information on our laptops, tablets and smart phones. Will you pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Test?

Whether you use responsive or adaptive design, both will optimise the user experience on the many different devices that we use to view the internet. They do this in different ways:

Responsive websites

Responsive web design (RWD) is based on flexible and fluid grids. It might take more code and implementation strategies with the fluid grids, CSS, and flexible foundations. It adjusts to the device it is being viewed on, no matter what size. This allows the website to be consistent in content and design across multiple channels, but can be slower. Magazines and newspaper websites work well for this type of format.

Adaptive websites

Adaptive web design (AWD) has a streamlined, layered approach, which utilizes scripting to assist with adapting to various devices and screen sizes. The site will adjust itself to a set of pre-determined screen and device sizes. It will read the device it is being viewed upon and will choose the right amount of information to download. It works on the principal that not all the information on the main site will be required. Generally speaking, it takes less time to download – giving the user a better experience as they can access the information they need quicker.

Adaptive design is the Gold Standard when it comes to being mobile friendly as it reduces the load on the mobile device. Responsive sends everything to the mobile device and leaves it to choose what it wants to display. It’s the simplest way of doing it and it’s what we use at Webheads a lot, depending on the client’s website and customer needs.

Any More Hints?

Google has given us a bit of time before this new algorithm is launched but have, as always, been a bit vague on the details. Now, that being said, some hints that were given out by Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes during a Q&A:

Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit

This is great because it means that you can choose whether RWD or AWD will work best for your site, your customers and your budget.

Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS & JavaScript to pass the “mobile-friendly” test

You’ll need to allow Googlebot access to to elements that are sometimes blocked (particularly in this case, CSS and JavaScript). Blocking these will mean you will fail this part of the test.

Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level – not sitewide

This is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t just update your landing page to be mobile-friendly, you will need to ensure your whole site, every page, is able to pass the test.

Tablets will not be affected by this update
At the moment there is nothing specific for tablet testing.

Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index
At the moment, Google are taking into account desktop and mobile websites, but they are working on a completely separate mobile index from desktop index.

Further hints dropped by Illyes include the fact that as soon as Google discovers that a site is mobile-friendly, it will be reflected in the search results. He confirmed that, to the best of his knowledge, there are no further updates on that day. He also all but confirmed that it is best to get your house in order BEFORE the 21st of April. It doesn’t sound like there’s much leeway on this.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Test

Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Test

Google recently announced that from April 21st, their ranking system will take into account if your site is mobile-friendly. Of course, this is positive for the way we, as users, use the internet. We search for information on our laptops, tablets and smart phones. Will you pass Google’s Mobile Friendly Site Test?

Whether you use responsive or adaptive design, both will optimise the user experience on the many different devices that we use to view the internet. They do this in different ways:

Responsive websites

Responsive web design (RWD) is based on flexible and fluid grids. It might take more code and implementation strategies with the fluid grids, CSS, and flexible foundations. It adjusts to the device it is being viewed on, no matter what size. This allows the website to be consistent in content and design across multiple channels, but can be slower. Magazines and newspaper websites work well for this type of format.

Adaptive websites

Adaptive web design (AWD) has a streamlined, layered approach, which utilizes scripting to assist with adapting to various devices and screen sizes. The site will adjust itself to a set of pre-determined screen and device sizes. It will read the device it is being viewed upon and will choose the right amount of information to download. It works on the principal that not all the information on the main site will be required. Generally speaking, it takes less time to download – giving the user a better experience as they can access the information they need quicker.

Adaptive design is the Gold Standard when it comes to being mobile friendly as it reduces the load on the mobile device. Responsive sends everything to the mobile device and leaves it to choose what it wants to display. It’s the simplest way of doing it and it’s what we use at Webheads a lot, depending on the client’s website and customer needs.

Any More Hints?

Google has given us a bit of time before this new algorithm is launched but have, as always, been a bit vague on the details. Now, that being said, some hints that were given out by Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes during a Q&A:

Responsive design does not have a ranking benefit

This is great because it means that you can choose whether RWD or AWD will work best for your site, your customers and your budget.

Googlebot must be allowed to crawl CSS & JavaScript to pass the “mobile-friendly” test

You’ll need to allow Googlebot access to to elements that are sometimes blocked (particularly in this case, CSS and JavaScript). Blocking these will mean you will fail this part of the test.

Mobile friendliness is determined at the page level – not sitewide

This is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t just update your landing page to be mobile-friendly, you will need to ensure your whole site, every page, is able to pass the test.

Tablets will not be affected by this update
At the moment there is nothing specific for tablet testing.

Google is currently working on a dedicated mobile index
At the moment, Google are taking into account desktop and mobile websites, but they are working on a completely separate mobile index from desktop index.

Further hints dropped by Illyes include the fact that as soon as Google discovers that a site is mobile-friendly, it will be reflected in the search results. He confirmed that, to the best of his knowledge, there are no further updates on that day. He also all but confirmed that it is best to get your house in order BEFORE the 21st of April. It doesn’t sound like there’s much leeway on this.

Snapchat Marketing

As the world was introduced to the first Snapchat résumé this week and a timely review as China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba, is putting £140m ($200m) into Snapchat.

We wanted to take a look at how brands can harness the power of this rapidly-growing app; a favourite of teenagers across the world and market their brand on Snapchat.

First launched in July 2011, Snapchat was the brainchild of Stanford university students Evan Speigel and Reggie Brown. The idea of an app with photos that would appear on the screen for only a few seconds didn’t go down very well with the rest of their Product Design class. Since the first images were sent, Snapchat has evolved to allow users to send photos, record videos, add text and drawings and send them to a controlled list of recipients.

The Stats
If the idea of impermanent photos isn’t floating your boat so far, perhaps the stats will. By May 2014, users were sending 700 million photos and videos per day. One of the more recent features ‘Snapchat Stories’ was being viewed over a billion times a day. Stories last for 24 hours, rather than seconds like the photos and videos last.

When it comes to demographics, most Snapchat users are between 13 and 25, with the majority being female (70%). Snapchat has 32.9% penetration on the mobile phones of millennials. Encouragingly, among adult users it is at 18% penetration. In the UK, 46% of teens use Snapchat and 14% of its total users are in this country.

Can It Work For You?
How can a brand use an app that features content for just a few seconds? There are no paid-for advertising options. It’s difficult to build followers because they have to actively seek you out and add you. The app doesn’t receive online traffic; Snapchat is housed entirely within the mobile app. But we had the same situation with Twitter when it started out – and look how far that’s come!

The simplest way of utilising Snapchat as a marketplace is to provide creative content which points towards your brand. A great example of this is the Lynx exclusive party trailers. They featured behind-the-scenes footage, which attracted followers, who in turn were asked to post their own images. This garnered a few hundred new followers. Lynx found that the time needed to properly engage with and respond to customers was high. So they are looking into ways to best utilise this platform.

Then there’s the option of transmitting coupons. Groupon have been using this method – setting its followers daily challenges then rewarding them with giveaways. They also set up a microsite explaining how to use Snapchat – a great move, as it’ll encourage new users to Snapchat and help those of us who aren’t teenagers!

The Stories function is the best way of conveying messages to existing and potential customers. They are a more comfortable format for businesses, at 30-60 seconds long. Stories can be watched multiple times within a 24 hour period.

Who is using Snapchat so far?
Primarily, Snapchat has been used by FMCG companies as well as clothing and restaurant chains. They are mainly sending out coupons. However, with the launch of Stories, more and more TV and entertainment companies are using it to share snippets of shows for promotion. It is best suited for brands aimed at younger consumers, or wishing to break that market.

Should Your Business Use Snapchat?
In summary then, is Snapchat worth a go? Yes. But it comes with its pitfalls.

Pros:
Engagement is high – with users viewing the app multiple times a day.
It’s a great way of reaching hard to get demographics.
It can be cost-effective.
You will have viewer’s attention – they know they only get to see things briefly.
You get warm leads – people find you, so they want to interact.
You’ll be amongst the cool kids; get it right and you’ll have a whole new demographic.

Cons:
It is hard to build up a following.
If your video clip contains audio, and the user’s phone is on silent, your message could be lost.
It can be a time-consuming route to engage with customers.
You’ll have to get it right – these consumers are turned off by intrusive marketing.

 

Ethical Business

In the past we’ve had requests from all sorts of different businesses to create a website for them. Sometimes, however, we have to say no. There are some things that we can’t morally get involved with. We’re all open-minded sorts, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

Working ethically gives both us and our clients peace of mind. We proudly put our name on each website we create and we wouldn’t want our customers to feel uncomfortable being associated with other websites of questionable repute. We always question what we do: Will our business decisions affect or harm others in any way? Will our decisions be considered fair by other people? That includes clients and the general public. They are both stakeholders in our business.

We’ve been going strong for ten years and in all that time we are proud to say that we have acted responsibly in our business affairs. We are proud of our ethical brand image and will strive to keep it that way. Some of our decisions are for personal moral reasons, taken as a team collective.

Our sense of corporate social responsibility means that we won’t work with companies that use child or slave labour to make their products. We also won’t deal with adult sites – there’s a lot of money in that industry, but we are a family-friendly company! We’d prefer to spend our time on working at charitable rates for not-for-profit organisations. It makes us feel more warm and fuzzy than a casino ever could.

Our commitment to our clients, our employees and the public is that we will continue to work as we always have – in a fair, honest and responsible manner. We conduct our business in a way that is not influenced by gender, race, creed, color, age or personal disability and we will not tolerate those who are. We believe in equality for all, whilst maintaining a strong moral work ethic.

We work hard and play hard, but we are always on our best behaviour.

 

Social Media Trends for 2015

Changing the way you network in 2015…

Social media is set to become one of the mainstays of content marketing in 2015. Up until now, many companies have simply ‘dabbled’ in social media, knowing that it is important, but not really embracing all its potential for their business. It is quite simply the best method of distributing your content and messages.

Privacy

With hacking and confidentiality issues saturating the media this year, privacy will be a big thing. People seek the ability to be anonymous, or to at least not have all our private conversations being monitored or analysed for marketing or government security. Little surprise we have seen a rise in popularity of such apps as Snapchat, Whisper and Secret; all ‘anonymous’ social networks, although Snapchat has already been the target of hacking!

Payment

Ever thought of social media as a tool for making payments? There are many apps in the making for doing just that. Apple, Square and Stripe are all launching mobile payment apps. When the FaceBook Messenger app was hacked in October, it brought to light a hidden mobile payments service. It enables users to make friend-to-friend payments, as easily as sending a picture. FaceBook recently poached PayPal’s president to head up the Messenger app. Coincidence? We think not.

Newbies

Year-on-year we see newcomers to the social media world and where some fail, others become the next big thing. Ello is one to keep an eye on. Dubbed the “hipster social network”, it markets itself as being ad-free forever and basically the antithesis of FaceBook. As privacy becomes more important to social networking users, Ello looks to fill the role of the ‘anti-FaceBook’.

Admission is by invitation only at the moment and invites are being flogged on eBay for $500 (although you can simply request to join). It will pay its way through special features offered for purchase to its users. One particular attribute of the site is the ability to classify acquaintances as “friends” or “noise”! The biggest challenge they face (as with all contenders to the FaceBook crown) is having enough early adopters to avoid it appearing like a ghost town compared to the 1.3 billion FaceBook users.

Others to watch in 2015 :

Tsu – a network that offers to share ad revenue with its users based on their posts’ popularity.
Yi Yak – fully anonymous posts shared with people who are actually nearby.
Telegram – has reached 8 billion daily messages, easy and secure networking, file sharing and chat.
WeChat & Tencent Weibo, Qzone which we’ll be focussing on the Chinese social media giants in our next blog
Shopping

Now that it’s so easy to make online purchases, why not introduce the ability to buy anything you see on social media. FaceBook and Twitter have started testing just that. The most obvious ‘next-step’ for businesses using social media, we don’t know why it hasn’t happened sooner. Sharing and likes have often been cited as an indicator of potential sales, so why not convert them?

Guy Sterling, a researcher at Opus Research says, “Just putting a ‘buy’ button out there is not going to be effective. The challenge is building enough context around that ‘buy’ button.” Strategy is everything in using social media as part of the buying decision-making process. This method of buying lends itself well to time-limited special offers.

Advertise

Facebook ads are more and more sophisticated, really targeting your consumer. Twitter are aligning with their new objective-based campaigns (rather than simply charging for retweets and clicks). This is currently undergoing beta-testing and is set to revolutionise the way we pay for ads on Twitter, paying only for the actions that matter to their company. This could be boosting followers, app installs or tweet engagement.

Smarter, more social…

Our devices are becoming smarter – fitness bracelets, thermostats, refrigerators; they all collect usable data which can be uploaded instantaneously. Harnessing this intelligence to improve our lives and make things easier is just a step away. One suggestion of how devices could team up with social media to our benefit is the fridge that tracks our FaceBook events to see when we have a party coming up, how many people have clicked ‘attending’ and tell you how many drinks to order (or just order them for you!).

The advice from the results of a study by Business Insider Intelligence is that businesses should embrace new social media apps immediately, with a view to being able to ‘pare down later if the platform fizzles’. Many business owners say that keeping on top of social media can be a drain on their time, but with so much to gain and so little to lose, it’s one area that shouldn’t be ignored.

To find out more about how Webheads can help your business stay on top of social media and to discuss its benefits for your company, click here.

 

SSL Benefits for Google SEO

Google recently announced they would be using SSLs 2048-bit key / HTTPS as a ranking signal in their search algorithm. Whilst it will only make up a ‘lightweight signal’, Google have said that they may strengthen the signal over time, giving webmasters a chance to switch to HTTPS. It is vital to understand its importance in terms of SEO for your website.

SSL encrypts information sent between your website and its users’ web browser, preventing it from being read as it is sent. You’ll know if you’re using such a site as the URL bar will have a padlock and “HTTPS” in the address instead of “HTTP”.

On e-commerce sites, SSL is usually only reserved for the checkout pages and isn’t featured elsewhere on websites. Online consumers and browsers alike both prefer to see that secure looking padlock in the address bar. It gives them confidence to know that your site is safe and their details with it. They add trust and legitimacy to a website and elevate your status amongst the rival brands.

Since the announcement, there has been a backlash against the proposal, with people asking if it is entirely necessary for a site that doesn’t use any login or sensitive information to be this secure. If you want to have an edge over the opposition, this is a great starting place. It is just good practice and will become more important. To remain competitive, we must do all we can to push our Google rankings. So if they deem this necessary, why shouldn’t you?

SSL’s start at just £125 per year but it takes time and testing implement the correct redirects and sitemaps that are needed for SEO purposes and not to loose any existing Google ranking. That’s why it’s so important to employ experts to do it. Getting it wrong could cost time, money and may even actually hurt your rankings in the long term. Our advice that it’s something you need to address sooner rather than later.

Get in touch with our SEO team and we’ll be happy to talk through the possibilities.

Facebook’s New Look News Feed

This isn’t just another change to your homepage, facebook have gone all out on this one. Having learnt from their trusty sidekicks and competitors over at Twitter HQ and Google+ (the new design may be quite familiar to those of you using Google+, naughty facebook!),

The redesign was launched alongside the words: ‘Goodbye clutter, hello bright, beautiful stories’ and Facebook is making some very serious design changes because, in their words; “we wanted to clean up the page, declutter it, make it simpler, more modern and easier for people to use.” There are three fundamental changes being made to the Social Networks interface, particularly the News Feed; firstly there is the reduced number of columns from three down to only two, allowing the actual newsfeed to take up a much greater portion of the screen view and allowing larger format images and videos to take priority over text and ‘status updates.’

The new look Facebook will be consistent across mobile and desktop

Second to this, Facebook, in all their wisdom of trying to simplify the News Feed, have ultimately over-complicated it. Gone are the days of simply having to choose between displaying the ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ – now there is a plethora of options for you to manipulate your news feed and what appears on it; you can still arrange it using ‘Most Recent’, or you could opt for “Photos,” “Music,” “Groups” and even “Games” – if you want to get really intimate, you can also click “see all” and select from several more options. The question is, why? Why the need to change so much detail when trying to ‘simplify?’

Thirdly, a feature we rather like; the new design means that when multiple friends post on the same story, they all appear together with a list of those people on the left hand side. It’s a small change, but it prevents your News Feed from being overwhelmed with the same story over and over again. This also frees up more space for things like advertising.The new design is focussed on mobile usage and advertising in a big way; mobile users may not notice as much of a change in the layout but the additional features are still there, the black bar on the side is simply hidden as an optional pull-out. All this simplicity is creating more and more space on our News Feeds for advertising. I’ve already noticed the larger picture format on the News Feed simply because of the adverts now being displayed on my mobile facebook app. Adverts, no less, for other mobile apps.

Remember how annoying the pay-per-click adverts displayed in the far right hand column of your news feed are? Well, here is facebook trying to do more of the same, only bigger and better. The key question for investors and advertisers is whether these changes will influence users to read and interact with paid content more if it is displayed in the main news feed. It seems likely since there is already evidence to support this. In addition, the bigger news feed allows sponsored posts to be the largest element on the screen and organisations and people who you “follow” through ‘Likes’ will now have photographs added to each of their posts on your timeline, making their advertising more eye catching. It’s all in the design, its like a rolling ad space for bigger and better brands with more money to take up our time and clutter our social networking space. .

The newly streamlined functionality and overall look and feel of Facebook will be in keeping with this de-cluttered theme, but is it really all about the customer? Facebook insists that “The redesign doesn’t change anything about how people interact with ads on Facebook” and “It’s really a case of making sure you have high quality (Advertising) content.” But it seems to me like this is all just a swinging point to get Facebook back to the top of the pile when it comes to online advertising space. Will it work, and is it consumer friendly? Or is this just another one of those money making ploys made to look like a user-friendly system upgrade?