December 2018 -

Monthly Archives: December 2018

Best SEO tips for Magento 2

Posted on December 30, 2018 by

Ecommerce merchant packing products

Improve your Click Through Rate (CTR)

What are the best SEO tips for Magento 2? This is a big chicken and egg – let me explain why. A higher CTR will improve your rankings but obviously, you need higher rankings to get clicks. This means that you need to be thinking about your CTR from the outset which is why I’ve listed this section first.

Put yourself in your customers shoes

Everything you do with regard to your website has a direct impact on your CTR. You need to be thinking from the mindset of a customer from the outset. Hopefully, you did this when you built your website in the first place but if not, now’s the time to revisit this. You’ll hear the term ‘reducing friction’ a lot with regard to product or service.

This is where small things count so pay attention to the detail and remov anything that is ‘annoying’ as you work through the customer experience. Check things like navigation, site search, shopping cart process, contact forms – basically any user interaction. Check everything flows smoothly and the user intent can be easily satisfied.

Website Design

Ecommerce sites need to both look good and be as friction-free as possible. Clearly, there are multiple factors to consider when thinking about how to convert visitors to paying customers. Having an old and dated website is going to put a lot of potential customers off and also makes your products and services more sensitive to price.

If your site looks cheap and cheerful but you are charging premium prices your conversions are going to be terrible.

The other essential part of web design for eCommerce and good SEO is how your site looks on the many and varied browsing devices in use. Check your website regularly on as many different devices as possible. I say regularly because you are likely to be making regular changes to your website and sometimes things break unexpectedly.

UI/UX

I’ve touched on this above with regard to the user journey. This is essentially what User Interface (UI) and User eXperience (UX) is all about. It’s the experience that the user has when they are taking their journey through your website. This is often overlooked and irritating barriers can be put in the way of converting visitors to paying customers.

It is always advisable to have proper user testing carried out on your website but if this is outside of your budget, ask friends, workers or family to help out. Get them to use different devices too and give you some honest feedback regarding their experience. Dividing up the workload can help too so you can have different people checking different parts of the website.

A great example of great UI/UX is the Stripe online payment service. The entire process of entering your card information doesn’t even require you to use a mouse or tab key. It moves you along the entire process seamlessly as you enter your details. This is one of the key reasons they have become so popular in a market previously dominated by much bigger players.

HTML Sitemap

M1 M2  Magento HTML Sitemap Extension

An HTML sitemap is an important SEO ranking factor primarily because it improves the user experience. Magento does not support an HTML sitemap out of the box so you will need an extension for this. The example (image) HTML Sitemap Extension for Magento by Amasty above is one example of a Magento extension that allows you to add an HTML sitemap to a Magento eCommerce site. BSS Commerce also offers a Dynamic HTML Sitemap extension for Magento.

Magento Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Magento does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to generating page titles dynamically from your product information. This applies to the product pages, but for all other pages, it pays to better optimise. The best SEO for Magento, or indeed any website, involves research. Find out which of your competitor sites are ranking better than you (for your chosen product or keyword) and dig into their page titles and meta descriptions.

The sort of questions you should be asking yourself are:

Are theirs more engaging than yours?

Are theirs providing more relevant information?

Do this research for your home page, category pages and landing pages. It will take some time but this hard work will pay off with better rankings. There are many tools to help with this but Google itself can give you a lot of information from their existing search tools.

Canonical URL’s

I’m not going to get too far into the technical or configuration aspects of this but will link to a great article on these aspects in the Technical SEO for Magento 2 section below. When you have pages on your website that are duplicates for product variants then you need to use canonical url’s. Magento config settings cater for this but you need to make sure these are set up properly. Basically, this is just telling the Google search bot that one page is the main or primary page and the others are secondary and shouldn’t be indexed.

Racing car - optimised for speed
Optimised for speed!

Speed Optimisation

For the best Magento 2 SEO setup, you want your site to be as fast as possible. Magento has some built-in options around caching, but there is a lot to be said for using services available from the likes of Cloudflare. This will allow you to optimise code and images using content delivery networks. This will make your site much faster in many ways and improve the user experience overall.

Technical SEO for Magento 2

It’s not my intention to cover all the technical SEO aspects of SEO for Magento as that’s an entire topic in its own right. It’s a highly configurable solution but it also has a few things that can be frustrating to set up and configure optimally.

Like all things SEO however, it’s all about attention to detail. There is an excellent article, The Definitive Guide to Magento SEO that covers all these technical aspects. Many of the points covered in this article will need developer time but they are also very important to understand and adopt if you want to get the Best Magento SEO setup for your eCommerce website.

Getting the best out of your website takes time and effort and I hope that this article helps with that process. As always, I hope you found this article useful and welcome comments, feedback and questions as always. Happy SEOing.


301’s, 404’s and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted on December 10, 2018 by

301 redirects

Why 301 redirects are VERY important for good SEO….

In this article you will find out what a 301 redirect is and why it’s so important. This is especially true when launching a new website. You will also find out the implications of not using 301 redirects properly and how that can destroy your rankings and website traffic.

What is a 301 (permanent) redirect?

A 301 redirect is basically a way to redirect one (old) url to a new url. There are several reasons why you’d want to do this but in this article we are talking in the context of a new website. To practically demonstrate a 301 redirect, click on the following link;

https://www.web-feet.co.uk/about/work

You will see that this will take you to this page on our website;

https://www.web-feet.co.uk/how-we-work

The first URL has a 301 redirect on it that permanently redirects it to the second URL. The reason being that when we launched our most recent website we changed the URL structure.

Why is a 301 redirect important for SEO?

Let’s use the scenario of having a new website built – and incidentally, this happens a lot.

You have had your website a while, built up some good page ranking in Google, you may have even paid for some SEO in the past. You are getting good traffic to your site and converting leads. As a result you want to further invest in your online presence and you have a new website built.

Website launch day!

Your new website goes live and it represents everything that you wanted. It looks great and you can’t wait for your existing customers to see it. You also know that it’s way better than your competitors’ and you wait for new leads to come rolling in.

Except they don’t.

You check your Google Analytics and your organic traffic has tanked.

seo rankings going down

You do some searches in Google and you are still listing well but when you click on the link you see this;

The dreaded 404 page! (I mean hopefully you don’t see our 404 page because then something very wrong has happened with your website)

What happened?

When your new web company built your website, they totally disregarded what was already there. Yes you got the nice new website that they promised but they did nothing to transfer all your old URLs and search data to your new website. They say they’ve done their job – you have a new website. You are left crying into your 404 page error and flat lined organic traffic report.

All, or maybe just some, of your valuable past SEO efforts and page rankings have just gone up in smoke.

If this has just happened to you – don’t panic.

If this has just happened to you, it’s not too late. You can rescue the situation, or at least limit the damage if you act quickly. It’s beyond the scope of this article but you will find help online, it’s not a unique problem. Whilst a bit technical, this MOZ article – Recovering Your Organic Search Traffic from a Web Migration Gone Wrong will help you out.

New website – plan ahead.

If you are having a new website built, make sure you, or your agency, take proper care to plan your migration from old to new website. You will want to research all that was good about your old website and the positive SEO results and ensure this is all reflected on your new website. This takes time and effort but it can steer you away from catastrophe.

Specifically, with respect to URL structure, make sure all old URLs are pointing to it’s closest cousin on your new website. It’s best to not change the URL structure too much if possible. Nevertheless, you will almost certainly change at least some.

How do I set up a 301 redirect?

WordPress

With WordPress, you can use a plugin to create 301 redirects. If you are using Yoast you can consider using their premium SEO plugin which will handle 301 redirects. This article How to create a 301 redirect in WordPress explains this in more detail.

Coaster CMS

With Coaster CMS it’s really easy to set up and manage 301’s because there is a page within the site admin to enter before and after URLs. It’s really easy and we added this feature because we like to make life easy 🙂

Any other CMS…

Google it!

new website and seo planning meeting

SEO Migration – bonus section!

I touched on this above, but to expand..If you are having a new website built. Take some time to map out your old URL structure (site map) and plan out your new one. A spreadsheet is good for this because you can copy and paste from your HTML sitemap. Make sure that all the old URLs are either maintained or redirected to one of the new pages.

Once you have this complete. Do some keyword research on your current page rankings. This is especially important if you are changing or updating content. 

You want to find out which keywords your current site is ranking for and for which pages. Now you want to find your most valuable pages and keywords (you can do a lot if not all of this in your Google Search Console). This in turn tells you which is your most valuable content. Be mindful of making this content better but not changing it too much at this stage. At this point you want to focus on maintaining all the good rankings you have.

Anything that’s not ranking well can be updated more freely.

Summary

You are now up to speed on 301 redirects and why they are important for SEO. You know how they should be used and how you can preserve all your good SEO and rankings when moving to a new website.

I’d love to receive your comments and questions and hope that you’ve found this useful.


Local SEO Hampshire

Posted on December 7, 2018 by

local seo hampshire search on mobile

 

As I said in my recent article on Local SEO – 7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO – 46% of all searches on Google are local.

Local search is critical to your business and is only going to get more important as search and Google shift more towards mobile.

What is this article about and who is it for?

You may be asking why Hampshire? If your business is based in say, Surrey, that’s fine, this guide is also for you but I needed an example county. Seeing as I’m in Hampshire, that seemed like a good place to start.

Who’s it for? Well, anybody that has a website and wants to understand how search, and in particular local search, works with Google. This will allow anyone to perform some basic search engine optimisation specifically for, in this case, SEO Hampshire.

Your two primary considerations wrt Local Search

Number 1 consideration – Google’s Local Pack & Google My Business

Your business is almost certainly in a town or city, let’s use Eastleigh as an example throughout this guide. No surprise, that’s where Web-Feet is based. Eastleigh is a town in Hampshire with a population of around 130,000, roughly 10% of the population of Hampshire – just to put things in perspective. If you are from much further afield and have no idea where I’m talking about, welcome! Hampshire is in the UK, on the South Coast of England.

Google Local Pack

When you search for a product or service on Google, you will quite often get served up some ads There are at the top of the page, followed by what’s called the Local Pack. An example of which is below. In this case, there are two ads followed by the Local Pack. Underneath the local pack are the Google Organic Search Results.

Search results for landscaping services in Google

Now, see how I just searched for ‘landscaping services’ and not ‘landscaping services Eastleigh’, or ‘landscaping services near me’? Google is smart and I wasn’t even using my mobile. You can see that it has placed me on the map by way of a small blue dot just underneath where it says ‘Chandlers Ford’. Whatever device you are using, Google knows where you are. Or has a pretty good idea and gives you relevant search results. A few years ago, you would have had to have been more specific with your search queries. Now, you don’t need to be. In fact, you probably haven’t even noticed because most people have adapted to the new way of finding things online.

Google My Business

If you provide Landscaping Services in Eastleigh you will want to be listed in the Local Pack. The main reason being that it’s below paid ads but above organic results. This is your first consideration with respect to Local Search. I’ve covered this in a bit more detail in my article  7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO. To get straight to it with Google you can go to the Google My Business page. Here you will be able to complete the whole process or update your existing listing. Without covering the whole process, my advice would be to be as thorough as possible and make sure that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) are entirely consistent wherever they are listed. Google will get confused otherwise and you won’t get the full benefit of the listing.

If you need any help with SEO - don't forget we can help

Number 2 consideration – Letting Google know the area your business covers

So now your Google My business is set up, let’s move on.

Let’s say you are a landscaping business in Eastleigh and you’re listed in the Local Pack. That’s great, but Eastleigh isn’t that big a place and your business covers the whole of Hampshire. This actually presents your business with a bit of a challenge. Anyone searching Google will always be served up a business local to them in the Local Pack. Someone doing the same search above in Southampton  (a city just down the road from Eastleigh, population around 250,000), is going to find a landscaping business in Southampton, not Eastleigh. At least as far as the Local Pack results go.

Adwords (slight diversion)

To cater for this scenario you can consider running Google Ads, this will allow you to target specific areas for search. This will ensure that your business is placed at the top of search for very specific search phrases and in specific geographic locations. Google Adwords is beyond the scope of this article however.

Letting Google know the areas you cover

Now whilst the Local Pack is important and you want to be listed here for local searches, underneath is where the organic search is. In order to rank well here, you need to optimise your website for, in this example, landscaping Eastleigh, landscaping services Southampton and landscaping services Hampshire. The temptation here is for businesses to build a page for each location they service but then go on to duplicate all the page content because it’s the same service, just in a different location. I would advise against this although you will still see this strategy in use. This approach is a bit dated and the problem with trying to unnaturally game the system is that Google makes the rules. Essentially, the more natural your approach to this the better. Always keep real people in mind. Don’t try and second guess what a computer thinks.

If Google decideds clamps down on the use of this tactic, your entire online business is instantly compromised. You would need to make some significant changes to your website to address (sorry no pun intended) this. You need to be smarter than this because Google doesn’t like duplicate content and to be honest, neither should you.  It’s just not adding any value to your visitors.

How to let Google know the areas you cover

Let’s do that search for landscaping services again but add a location to our search this time

Search for landscaping services hampshire in Google

You will see that the ads are now gone, which presents an opportunity perhaps but that’s not in the scope of this article.

Let’s break this down a bit. The local pack is still showing services local to me, as expected. Looking down at the organic search results however and you will see two businesess that have made it clear to Google that they cover Hampshire. Equally, it’s clear to the person searching that they cover Hampshire. This is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s hard to see how if you carried out this search you’d not click on those two websites to investigate further. This is exactly the outcome you want as a business listed on Google.

How to make it clear the areas you cover

Let’s say that you had 2 minutes to pitch your business to an audience in person. You’d almost certainly cover the following topics;

  • What your business is called
  • The services you provide
  • Where you provide them
  • What makes you special
  • Something about yourself

On your website, you obviously need to cover all of these points, and much more, too. Focussing on where you provide your service, make this very clear on your website. For example;

  • Where you are based
  • What areas you cover
  • Provide a map if that’s relevant
  • Showcase work you have completed with details of where you completed it
  • Show testimonials of happy customers and make it clear where you carried out their work

Basically, take every opportunity to say what you do and where you do it.  This makes it clear to both your visitors and Google. That way, your website and business will be properly associated with all of these things. Google will list you accordingly and you should receive good quality click-throughs to inquire about your business. Each of these clicks is valuable and hopefully, you can convert them into a sale.

On page SEO – some techy tips

Don’t forget that Page Title, Meta Description and other on-page areas are all places that you want to make your geographic business coverage clear. Going back to the example search above, you will see that Hampshire is mentioned in the Page Titles for both of the ranked pages in all four top positions. It’s not just this Local SEO factor that will get them this listing but it is a factor. More importantly, to the person looking at the search results, it’s clear to them that they are relevant to the search term they used.

That brings this article to a close. I hope you found it useful. If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.


How to clear your browser cache

Posted on December 5, 2018 by

When you browse the Internet, with a computer or mobile device, your browser puts a small file for easy connection in a cache folder. They contain information from the sites you visit. These files can become a handicap if the authors of the sites change the presentation of their pages. At worst, a corrupted file can even prevent the download of the page. To fix these issues, empty the cache folder of your browser which may include any of the following: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

Clear cache from Google Chrome

Desktop

  • Open your Google Chrome browser. The logo is a red, yellow and green diaphragm with a blue circle.

  • Click the three dots. The button is located in the upper right area of the screen. A drop-down menu will show up.

  • Click More tools. This option is in the fourth part of the menu. A pop-up menu appears on the left.

  • Click Clear browsing data. This is the second option at the top of the menu. A selection window will appear on the screen.

  • Choose a time interval. Pull down the Time range list. To be sure to completely erase cache data, choose All time. Otherwise, you can sort the data by choosing, for example, Last hour.

  • Check the Cached images and files check box. This is the last box of the window. If this box is already checked, go to the next step. You can of course uncheck the other navigation elements if you only want to empty the cache folder.

  • Click CLEAR DATA. This is a blue button at the bottom right of the window. Chrome’s cache folder is now empty of any data.

Mobile

  • Open your Google Chrome browser. Touch the Chrome icon, which is a red, yellow, and green diaphragm with a blue circle.

  • Touch the three dots. The button is found in the lower right part of the screen. A drop-down menu will come out.

  • Touch on History. This option is found in the drop-down menu.

 

  • Touch Clear browsing data. The tab is in the lower left area of the screen. In Android, this option is almost at the top of the screen.

  • Tap on Cached Images and Files. In doing so, you display a blue check mark. If the blue checkmark is already present, proceed to the next step. Uncheck the other navigation items if you only want to empty the cache folder.

  • Touch Clear browsing data. The button is seen at the bottom of the screen. In Android, you can press Clear Browsing Data.

Clear cache from Firefox

Desktop

  • Open your Firefox browser. Its logo is a blue globe whose lower part is occupied by a red fox.

  • Click on three dashes. The button is in the upper right corner of the window. A drop-down menu will appear.

  • Click Library. This option is in the fifth section of the drop-down menu.

  • Click on History. This is the third proposition of this menu, represented by a watch.

  • Click Clear recent history. The button is almost at the top of the menu. In this window, you will find the mention of the cache, but also other elements.

  • Select a time interval. Click the Time range to clear drop-down list, and find and click Everything on the menu. Depending on your needs, you can choose another time interval, for example Today.

  • Check the Cache box. Simply click on the small empty square to the left of the caption. If this box is already checked, go to the next step. If you only want to clear the cache, uncheck all the other boxes in the ‘ Details ‘ section.

  • Click Clear now. The button is at the down part of the window. The Firefox cache folder is now empty.

Mobile

  • Open your Firefox browser. Touch the Firefox icon, which is a blue globe whose lower part is occupied by a red fox.
  • Touch the three dashes. The button is in the lower right corner of the screen. A menu will appear. In Android, tap in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Touch Settings. It is on the right side of the menu that appeared.
  • Scroll down and touch Clear my tracks. It’s in the Privacy section that you will find this button. In Android, Erase My Traces is in the middle of the screen.
  • Touch the white slider labelled Cache. This slider is roughly in the middle of the page. If you touch it, it will change colour, the cache folder is ready to be emptied. If the cursor is already blue, go to the next step. With an Android device, you must check the Cache box. If you only want to clear the cache, disable the other blue cursors so that they appear in white.
  • Touch Clear my tracks. The button is at the bottom of the screen. In Android, tap Clear my tracks at the bottom of the screen.
  • Touch OK at the desired time. The cache folder of your Firefox browser is now empty. This step does not exist in Android: it is automatic.

Clear cache from Microsoft Edge

  • Open your Microsoft Edge browser. Its icon is the lowercase letter “e” in dark blue.

  • Click on the three dots. The button is in the upper right corner of the window. A pop-up menu appears on the screen.

  • Click Settings. This option is at the bottom of the context menu.

  • Click Choose what to clear. This option is right under Clear Browsing Data. Scroll down to see the option in question.

  • Select the Cached data and files. It’s about in the middle of the list that you have in front of you. If this box is already checked, go to the next step. If you only want to clear the cache, uncheck all other boxes in the list.

  • Click Clear. The button is about in the middle of the menu. In doing so, you will empty the Edge cache of its contents.

Clear cache from Internet Explorer

  • Open your Internet Explorer browser. Its logo is a light blue “e” with a sort of yellow comet wrapped around it.

  • Click on the gear icon. This is in the upper right corner of the window. A drop-down menu will appear.

  • Click Internet Options. This option is at the very bottom of the drop-down menu.

  • Click on Delete. The button is on the right side of the Internet Options window, in the Browsing History section. If you do not see this, first click the General tab at the top of the Internet Options window.

  • Check the boxes in the cache. The two Temporary Internet files and website files and Cookies and Website Data boxes must be checked. If these two consecutive boxes are already checked, you have nothing to do, it’s perfect. If you want to empty only the cache folder, you can uncheck all other boxes on the page.

  • Click on Delete. This button is at the bottom of the window. Doing so will remove the contents of the Internet Explorer cache folder.

  • Click Apply, and then click OK. These two buttons are at the bottom of the page displayed on the screen. In doing so, you save the changes made and exit the Internet Options window.

Clear cache from Safari

Desktop

  • Open your Safari browser. In the Dock of your Mac, you will find its icon: it is a blue compass with a white and red needle.
  • Click Safari. You will find this menu, written in bold, to the left of the menu bar. A drop-down menu will appear.
  • Click Preferences. This is the third option of the Safari menu. Logically, the preferences window is displayed on the screen.
  • Click the Advanced tab. This option is at the far right of the preferences window.
  • Tick the right box. Check the Show Development Menu box in the menu bar at the very bottom of the Preferences window.
  • Close the preferences window. Check at the top of your screen that the Development menu appears in the general menu bar.
  • Click on the Development menu. This is at the top of the screen. A drop-down menu should appear.
  • Click Empty Caches. Look for its location roughly in the middle of the drop-down menu. You will have to confirm your order. To do this, click Empty Caches or OK (or any other formula of this type).

Mobile

  • Access the settings of your iPhone. They are represented on the home screen by a grey icon containing a gear. The settings page appears on the screen.

  • Scroll down and tap Safari.

  • Scroll down and touch Clear History and Site Data. This blue link is at the very bottom of the screen.

  • To finish, touch the red link Delete. The data in the Safari cache folder on your iPhone is deleted.

It is strongly recommended when you delete data on a browser to close the browser after the procedure and run it again to finalize the deletion. Removing the cache folder from a browser has nothing to do with removing cookies.

Once the cache is emptied, it is normal that access to the sites is a little slower: the browser starts loading data again.


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