SEO 2019, Design For Online - SEO Agency, Bury St Edmunds Suffolk

Search Engine Optimisation in 2019

Companies have been doing search engine marketing for a long time now, but companies and marketing agencies all get excited when they hear tips and trick on how to get higher in search rankings (SEO) or improve the overall performance of their search ads (PPC).

The primary reason for this is the ongoing change to the larger search engines algorithms. Google is the largest search engine in most areas of the world, and it keeps its search engine algorithms a secret since spamming keywords was all you once needed to do to reach the first page of Google (please don’t do this).  This means most marketing agencies find out about current SEO and PPC techniques is to look at what works for other companies and follow suit.

So what works for SEO and PPC campaigns going into 2019?  Well it is clear that SEO is a still very important for brands, the main reason for investing in SEO remains increasing website traffic, but this ends up being more for top level or top funnel acquisition.

The challenge comes a lot of the time with getting IT to be as motivated as marketing agencies to optimise and update their company websites for SEO.

On page SEO

The three main things marketing agencies should focus on for ensuring that web pages are SEO ready.  Relevance of content, accessibility of all sections of the website and keeping the website up to date.

Marketing agencies should make an effort to use simple words to explain products and services within content. Businesses marketing departments felt that avoiding technical words is difficult for specific companies but reducing jargon and not using too much “marketing speak” was worthwhile.

Off page SEO

Off page SEO is becoming more relied upon as other on page SEO techniques are used up, backlinks for instance are still essential for keeping and maintaining high rankings on search engines, albeit backlinks are now more difficult to get (higher ranked backlinks), so companies and agencies need to come up with new strategies to boost them.

A simple way discussed before is to have multiple sites each linking to each other.  Brands should also publish sponsored content on public media and high quality / highly followed blogs.  Wikipedia has also been known to help, despite them having nofollow tags on the links, they have proven to be successful.

Smarter ways to boost backlinks include collaboration, working with clients and partners on mutual backlinks, linking back to each other to form a relationship has been seen to be beneficial on search engines lately.

Managing SEO

Most companies outsource their SEO and is managed by external agencies, with few exceptions. Primarily because agencies are better at keeping up to date with the changes in search engine algorithms, agencies are relied upon more because their knowledge of what works at the moment along with what is ethical and white-hat is key to make long term SEO growth.

Speak to Design for Online today to see if we can work with you on your SEO needs.

Is your Web Hosting Provider GDPR Compliant? UK Hosting

WEB HOSTING – Under new GDPR regulations, IT hosting providers and cloud hosters will have more responsibility to better protect data. Customers will need to start questioning their current cloud & hosting providers or potential new suppliers more thoroughly about whether they are GDPR compliant and how they can demonstrate that they are GDPR compliant.

It’s also critical to understand where cloud providers are storing your data – they might have UK or EU datacentres but does your contract prevent data being transferred between their datacentres outside of the EU? And are you aware when it is being transferred? You can still host your IT with providers outside of the EU, but you will need to ensure that these providers have safeguards and security measures in place that meet the GDPR standards in order to remain compliant if you are handling EU citizen data.

There are also questions over whether customers should host with non-UK cloud providers, but the crucial point is more about whether your provider is adhering to GDPR standards.

Design For Online Hosting offers Hosting that is based in London and has data centres that are only in the UK, meaning that you can be assured that GDPR standards are enforced from end to end and future rules & regulations when the UK leaves the EU are also enforced.

If you host with companies such as HostGator, JustHost, GoDaddy & Bluehost, you should check with them now. Moving over to our UK hosting will also offer a marked improvement in website speed & security.

Get in touch and see how we can help move your website to its new home. Contact us here

Tips for choosing the right web design company

10 Tips for Choosing a Web Design Company, and Hopefully Ours!

Choosing a web design company is about finding the right fit.  Choosing a web design company is a bit like finding the perfect pair of jeans – it’s all about the fit.  You both need to work well together.  Your requirements, your expectations and your resources should be taken into account, just as you should assess the skills, style and processes of the company you choose to work with.  Remember that last part: it is a choice, and the final decision is down to you!

If that sounds scary, don’t worry. We’re here to help demystify the process and offer some tips to get you started on choosing the right company for you.

1. Think about what you want

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t sure what they want their website to achieve. Is it simply to help your existing client base find more information on you? Do you want to promote your business and reach new people? Is it important that it generates leads or sales? Do you want visitors to the site to interact with the content?

Your budget is also a crucial factor when first discussing your requirements. Simply, you can’t build a website without money! Your budget dictates what can and can’t be done, so have a figure in your head and be ready to present it alongside your website wish-list. Be honest with yourself on this front. A good question to start with is: “what is the maximum I would be willing/able to spend for the website of my dreams?”

You certainly don’t need to know all the ins and outs yet, but knowing roughly what you want your website to achieve and the amount you’re able to spend on it is the first step in sharing the idea with a Web Design Company. After all, only you know what your key priorities are!

2. Ask questions

Do not underestimate the power of questions – they are a useful tool for a couple of reasons:

1. They help you find out what you need to know! If, for example, you want your new website to gain a high SEO ranking then finding out if your Web Design Company has experience in this
field will be crucial. Similarly, if you have a very specific deadline for the work to be completed then finding out if that is achievable is key. Have a think about what you need to know right away so you can ask all the right questions off the bat.

2. Questions can also be helpful when it comes to finding out if a Web Design Company is a good fit for you. Everyone interprets information in different ways, but you need to work with
someone who you can communicate well with. If they are not able to answer your questions in the first instance, it is likely you will encounter further problems down the line.

Never feel afraid to ask to clarify any terms or ‘jargon’ you don’t understand. Any good web design company worth their salt will be expecting to answer a variety of questions from any new client, and should be ready to explain processes on a level that works for you.

3. Do they ask YOU questions?

Just as you will undoubtedly have a lot of questions for them, a Web Design Company should also have some questions for you. A good website encapsulates the values and goals of the company, so it is crucial that your designers understand your business. Once you have shared an outline of what you want (see point 1), they should be able to dial down on the specifics such as your target audience, short and long term goals, how you want to manage the content, and any preferences you have in terms of design and functionality. The more they know, the better they can shape the website to your needs.

4. Do you get on with them?

No one is suggesting you become best buddies with your Web Design Company, but good rapport and mutual respect is the foundation of any good working relationship. You will likely be speaking to your designers A LOT, sometimes over a lengthy period of time. Having someone you communicate well with makes the entire process much smoother, and enjoyable!

5. Check out other work they have done

Established Web Design Companies will have a portfolio of previous work on their own website. Browse through with a critical eye and see if their past websites are in line with what you are
looking for. Remember that design is often a matter of taste and what suits one person may not suit another. For example, one of their previous clients may have stood firm on wanting that purple and orange website! But do look at things like whether the website is easy to use, does it look as good on mobile devices as on a computer, does it feel professional? If the answer is ‘no’ to all these points, then you’re almost certainly better off looking elsewhere.

Make sure to also look through independent reviews on other platforms such as Freeindex, Trustpilot and social media platforms.  A Google search of the company’s name can go a long way in finding out more about their past customers and whether they were satisfied.

6. Do they have experience in your sector?

If you are a store that is going into e-commerce, you will need a very different website than, say, a non-profit organisation. A non-profit organisation may need a donation page that accepts different currencies, while an online shop needs to maintain an accurate inventory. Previous experience with your market and industry may mean your Web Design Company understands the users that land on your website better and will have more experience in designing the website which will give you the most value.

It need not be a deal-breaker for a company which otherwise fulfils everything you need, but if you’re feeling stuck then an agency that has experience designing for organisations similar to your own will likely be more aware of common issues (and solutions) from the onset.

7. Company background

Knowing how long a Web Design Company has been trading for is important. Not only because they will likely have a variety of case studies to share with you, but also because you will want to work with an established company that is not going to disappear overnight. A company that has been around for years will have experienced a multitude of changes in the way the web works, and has obviously adapted successfully. They will be able to provide more context to the decisions they make, and have likely had more experience in dealing with a wide variety of clients.

Where the company is based is also useful to know. There are brilliant web designers all around the world, but for ease of communication you may prefer to work with one based in the same
country as you to avoid higher call charges and different working hours. A local company may seem ideal, but unless meeting face-to-face is a top priority of yours, you would be significantly reducing your options.

Finally, size. Tempting as it might be to go with a huge company with hundreds of employees, that alone does not assure you of quality. When it comes to web design, size doesn’t always matter! Much more important is to do your research, ask questions and make an objective decision based on the facts. If it turns out that a huge company is right for you – that’s great. But be open to the fact that smaller agencies and freelance designers can often produce superior work.

8. What do they need from you?

The precise answer to this question depends entirely on your website. However it is safe to say that any Web Design Company will require input from their client at regular intervals.

Nobody knows your business better than you, so establish early on the vision for the website, what assets you will be providing and what you expect your designers to source. They will certainly  take care of the design, but do you also require them to provide the images and text for your website? If so, that may be an additional cost.

After the initial design mock-ups they will ask for feedback to make sure they are on the right tracks. Agencies should always take your preferences into account, but do remember that they have certain expertise when it comes to things like usability, compatibility and design, so do listen to the reasons why your designers have done things in a particular way.

9. Read the small print

It is crucial to know exactly what is included in the cost of your website. Before you commit, ask your designer to detail in writing precisely what comes with the quote. Some things to consider:

1. Are there any extra set-up fees?
2. Does it include a Content Management System (CMS) where you can make your own
updates and if so, exactly which areas are you able to update?
3. Does it include domain registration?
4. Does it include web hosting?
5. How many rounds of changes can you make to the initial draft?
6. Does it include any ongoing support?
7. Will you own the copyright to the material on the site?

If any of these services are required but aren’t included in the original fee, ensure you find out how much they are before committing.

10. Set expectations

A lot of problems can arise simply from having mismatched expectations. Once you are ready to progress with a company, be ready to set some expectations so you know how to best work together. Firstly, the finished product! If your website needs to be live before a specific deadline, ensure you have okayed this with the company before committing. If you do not have a set timescale, still establish how long it will take for them to get your site live.

Secondly, timelines. Your Web Design Company should be able to give you an indication of when a first draft of the website will be ready and what feedback they will need from you at that point. They may also set a deadline for you returning your feedback so that they can best manage their workload. Continue to communicate and establish a schedule at each step of the process so that neither party is ever left in the dark.

Finally, method of communication. You may prefer to be contacted by email. They may prefer telephone. In emergencies, they may have a specific number to call. You may not get round to responding to emails until evening-time. Have an upfront chat about your preferred methods of communication and rough turnaround times. It will save you the frustration of plenty of missed calls and unanswered emails in the future!

 Check out our pricing, or contact us now and lets start a conversation.

Website Speed, SEO, UK

Why is website speed so important?

1. First Impressions

Website speed, why?  We are all living in a world where first impressions are just a part of life, if you meet someone in today’s world, chances are you have made a first impression almost immediately, and that is ok!  Websites are no different, in fact, it can be the difference between you getting a customer to trust you enough with their money and them clicking straight off your page and opting for another website that is quick and shows them what they want, right now.

2. We all expect things now!

Do you have Amazon Prime and hate when an item isn’t available for delivery today or tomorrow? Opting for something more expensive that is ready to be at your doorstep yesterday?  It is exactly the same with your website.

Some interesting statistics:

  • 48% of visitors expect your website to load in just 2 seconds.
  • 40% of visitors will leave the website altogether if it takes just 3 seconds!

This is the same on Mobile where you need your 3g or 4g to load something fast, you are used to how fast facebook loads, or how long to get to Google, so when you visit a website that takes 5x longer to load are they really going to hang around?

3. Complexity

There used to be a time where complicated, bloated websites that will have apps, links, images all on one page and try to show you everything at once.  That is not today, today is much cleaner, almost too clean, with some websites just opting for a couple of words, it’s how Google succeeded over websites such as Yahoo and Excite.  The same can be said today, everything has grown to be much simpler, clean and easily read, they want to see things load quickly because they also want to see the stuff they need to see, leaving irrelevance behind.

4. Website Speed affects your overall Google rank

That’s right, one of Google’s mottos is to “Make the whole web fast”.

Although right now it is a small percentage of websites that are affected by the speed check, any websites that are just way too slow, chances are your website may not suffer from this problem.  Google does, however, reduce the amount of crawlers it sends to your site if it takes longer than 2 Seconds to load!  So any regularly updated content, blog posts, articles, new store items you list, if your website is slow, it will take longer to show up on Google.

That being said, the primary reason for speed right now is keeping customers and not allowing speed to make the visitors decision before they even see what you have to offer.

We love making websites fast, our website scores at least a 99% rating on GTMetrix, we can do the same for you.  Check out our pricing, or contact us now and lets have a conversation.

SEO – Our top 5 tips to rank higher in 2017

We want to focus this SEO article on how to increase your websites overall speed and what impacts your search results. so here we go, the top 5 things we recommend to help increase your website speed, and in turn, allow you to rank higher in search engine results.

1. Minify

Minification of your web pages can remove the unused and irrelevant code from your website, removing the need for these to be parsed by your browser, increasing website loading speeds.  Google states that “Minification refers to the process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser – e.g. code comments and formatting, removing unused code, using shorter variable and function names, and so on.”

If you use WordPress you can do this with multiple plugins, although some may actually alter the way your site looks and can have worse effects.  It is important to use a plugin that works with your website and that can be customised to ensure your website displays correctly.

2. Above the fold

Above the fold content is put simply, the first parts of the website that loads on your screen.  Having scripts, CSS or other files load prior to this that are not required slow down the loading of the initial part of the website and can significantly reduce website load speed.  Using plugins such as “Above the fold optimisation” to defer loading of these scripts can ensure that your website loads significantly faster.  Please be aware that deferring loading of some scripts can result in your website not displaying correctly.  Make sure you know what you are doing prior to using these types of plugins.

3. Caching

Probably one of the most, if not the most important things to do with your website.  Using a premium caching plugin ensures your website loads extremely fast.  Caching basically means that people who load your website stores part of your website on their computer for a period of time, if they visit it again within that period, then they will use those file.  Also the caching process can create more streamlined versions of your files to be accessed by visitors.

We use WP-Rocket, which is the most recommended WP Caching plugin on the market, unfortunately not free.

WP-Rocket is not expensive and is, in our opinion, much better than the competition with much more customisable options.

4. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Content delivery networks are nothing new and have been becoming more and more prominent in recent years, especially with free options such as CloudFlare.  It uses servers from around the world to deliver content to the person accessing your website, using the closest server to do so, in turn, increasing your overall website load time for the person accessing your website.  It has been shown to highly impact a user’s decision on whether to stay on your website if it takes too much time to load, which can impact your business significantly.

The downside to this is that the majority of CDNs you have to pay for, although there are free options, these are often overused and in some cases can even slow down your website.  It is worthwhile to analyse your business based on its key demographic and where you want to focus your area of business, if it is a global business with high traffic, a CDN is definitely for you!

5. Images

Image size seems to be one of the biggest reasons your websites speed can be questionable at best and in turn reduces your overall SEO.  Using an image compressor that also doesn’t distort, stretch or reduce image quality is a must when ensuring your high-quality images remain just that, but at a more manageable size. Among others, we use Imagify to optimise our images immediately on upload and revert changes if necessary.  When you sign up, you do receive a free size limit to reduce images and further space can be purchased either on an ad hoc or regular basis, it is quick and we would highly recommend using this.  Alternatively, there are many desktop applications which you can use to reduce file size.

We offer full SEO services including a full speed review.

How often do you or your hosting provider backup your websites?  It is a tricky question and also one that needs some thought given to it.  It depends on what it is you are looking for and whether or not you want redundancy should anything happen to the hosting provider, or worse, you accidently delete files from your website.  It is a pain and also a relief to know that your provider can return them, as they were, just moments later.

We always recommend a provider that can offer backups in real-time so that everything is protected 24/7.  we also advocate an off-site storage method for your website, should anything happen to the hosting provider or if they go down for long periods of time.

We have a separate NAS here at our Bedford office along with our hosting servers based in the UK that provided a complete backup solution.  We tend to backup our clients hosting once a day to our offsite storage facility here in Bedford.  This is a great solution should you have any problems with your hosting provider, as you can also do this yourself and it provides you with a backup of your website if they go down.  Or even if you come into issues with the provider and they are unwilling to help provide you with the service required to migrate your hosting to a different provider.

Our backup and migration service:

We offer a full migration service and will also provide a full off-site backup of your website on either a weekly, daily or hourly schedule, find out more in our hosting section.   All of our NAS uses only WD RED hard drives and are also hooked up to a full UPS (uninterruptable power supply) so if the power goes out, we can keep running your backups around the clock, until power is restored.