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2019 Online Marketing Checkup for Small & Medium Businesses

Posted on January 10, 2019 by

laptop and stethoscope

Time for your online marketing checkup!

With 2019 now upon us it’s time to do a quick check of your online marketing assets. This is designed to be short and snappy but you will almost certainly find something useful.

SEO – Check your search engine rankings in Google

Put your browswer into incognito (Chrome) or private mode (Safari) and search Google for your main keywords or phrases. If you aren’t ranking on page 1, it’s time to take action! There are some free tools that do this but I’d recommend a manual check for this one-off instance.

Website technical – Check your online forms are working

Go to your website and complete all your online forms to check they are all working as expected. If any are broken or end up in your spam, take action to fix them right away so your don’t risk missing any enquiries.

Website technical – Audit your website for technical issues

Go to ScreamingFrog and run a site audit of your website. It’s free and will give you everything you need to know with regard to any technical issues that you have with your website that are negatively affecting your SEO. Fix these asap!

Website design – Look to see how your site compares to your competitors

How does your current website stack up compared to your competition? Is yours looking tired or old? Many visitors are put off by old or dated looking websites so be critical and take steps to improve or redesign it if necessary.

Responsive web design sign

Website technical – Is your site mobile friendly?

Use Google’s mobile friendly test and check that your site is mobile friendly. If it’s not then this is a problem that you need to fix right away as it’s a key SEO ranking factor for Google. It’s also very important that your site works well for anyone visiting your website on a mobile device (obviously!).

Branding – Is your branding consistent?

Check your branding across all your online and offline assets. Are you using the same branding and logo across your social media accounts, website, printed material, sign-work, vehicles etc? If not take action because your brand is important.

Website UX/UI – Audit your website user journey

This might sound arduous but it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of a website visitor and check that they can easily navigate your website and get to everything quickly and easily. Also make sure that you have plenty of CTA’s (Calls To Action) on the key parts of your site.

Website SEO – Check your website speed

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to check how your site performs across all platforms for speed. If you are getting a slow score for either Desktop or Mobile, or both, then take action to fix it asap.

Website SEO/Technical – Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics set up on your website but you should also have Google Search Console set up too. Follow the links above or Google it and then follow the setup instructions and check out the user guides.

SEO – Optimise your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Find out who’s ranking well for your keywords and see if their page titles and meta descriptions are more interesting or engaging than yours. Also check your keywords are there. Click through rates are higher for well written titles and descriptions and this is a key SEO ranking factor.

Summary

Running through the points in this checklist will serve you well. You will be able to start the year off knowing that you’re in good shape online.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback – just leave them below and we’ll get back to you. Otherwise, we hope you found something useful.


The Website Development Process: A 6 Step Guide

Posted on March 21, 2018 by

Website development is a comprehensive process that consists of essential steps that need to be followed. There isn’t a specific number of steps as it may vary depending on an agency or a developer, however, the basic process is pretty much the same.

Before we go through the process of developing a site…

We like to make things as clear as possible. Somebody who’s new to working alongside a digital agency may particularly struggle to understand the language developers speak. What terms will you come across while working with the web agency? We’ve created a cheat sheet with the terms that are used the most, so go ahead and download our cheat sheet!

download here

The website development process

1. Identifying goals and purpose

Just like any other project, the very first step of developing a website is gathering all the necessary information. All the expectations you have from a website need to be clarified at the beginning of the project otherwise the whole project might set off in the wrong direction.

These are some of the aspects that need to be considered. The website’s purpose, goal, target audience and the information provided on a website will have a huge impact on what technologies will be implemented and what functionality the website will benefit from at the final stage. What is the goal of developing this site? Is it to drive more sales, create brand awareness or sell products directly from a website? The website whose purpose is to sell cars will have different functionality than the one specifically designed to inform. And the design of the website will reflect the type of audience.

Bear in mind, it’s very important that everything is agreed at the early stages of the project. Any changes that have not been agreed will require an increase in timeline and budget.

2. Planning

At the planning stage, we decide what kind of technologies will we use for developing a site, e.g. what CMS will be used and also, we give you an idea of how the website will look. We create a sitemap for the website which is then followed by creating a wireframe. The major difference between these two is:

Sitemap represents a relationship between the main areas of the website and its content. A sitemap could be referred to as a table of contents for a website, showing off the future site’s navigation. While creating a sitemap, we have to consider things like; how easy will it be for an end user to find an information he’s looking for from the main page? Or how easy will be to navigate the site? Keeping the end user in the heart of the process, we aim to plan a site that will be as user-friendly as possible.

Example of a sitemap for a simple website:

The wireframe gives you a better understanding of what the website will look like visually. Although there are no actual visual elements used (no pictures, no logos, no colours, etc.), it gives you an idea what will be the layout of the website. It will show where on a page will we display text, photos, etc. Once you are happy with the layout of the pages we have presented, we can move on to the next stage – designing the website.

Example of using pen and paper: (The wireframe doesn’t have to be done in any expensive software, the layout of the page can be simply drawn on a piece of paper)

3. Design

This stage allows designers to show off what they’re great at. The possibilities to design a fantastic looking website are endless.

What are the major elements designer has to keep in mind?

Target audience
Who will be using the site? A website aimed to target young teenagers will (and should!) look completely different from the one that’s offering financial support to businesses.

Branding
All the branding elements (logos, colour, font) have to be in place with the current branding.

Designing and developing a new website is not only about the way the website looks as there are many other important elements like functionality, speed, etc. However, it is important because the website represents your brand. It creates a perception in customers’ minds about the brand, having an impact on whether they will decide to use your products/services or not.

Keeping these important elements in mind, we start with designing the whole website (what to you might look like a ‘ready to go’ website, however, at this stage the website is not functional – it is just a proof of the design). Once you are happy with the design and ready to sing it off, we can move the proof across to our developers who will start to develop the actual site.

4. Development

And so the website development process begins… The proof of the design we’ve seen in the previous stage will turn into a fully functional website which will be ready to go live very soon. The development process involves the programming work as well as loading content onto the site.

The sitemap we have created in the planning stage will help us actually build the site. We’d usually start with a home page and add all the subpages afterwards. From the technical point of view, in the development process we make all the elements of the website work properly, e.g. contact forms, payment gateways or functionality that were agreed earlier are being developed at this stage.

Once we build a site, we load all the content onto the site. Either a member of our team will do so, or you might prefer to do it yourself – whichever is more suitable.

5. Testing and Launch

Once a site has been built, there’s one more crucial step to be taken before the site goes live – testing. The reason for testing the site is to find if there are any issues, e.g. broken links that need to be fixed. Everything on a site should be tested – all the links, all the forms, all the scripts, even the content. It’s always better to fix the issue before we launch the site, rather than to launch a site that doesn’t work properly!

Once your site has been tested, we upload it to a live server and we are ready for the most exciting step of the development process – launch!

6. Maintenance

Once we launch the website, remember – it is not a product or service that once delivered, our job ends there. Websites need to be looked after and maintained the whole time they’re in use, e.g. with security updates to keep the site fully secure. If you use a CMS system, you want to do regular updates in order to prevent the site from any bugs, etc.

A great way to keep the site well maintained is a maintenance pot. We’ve been offering this service to our customers for many years and from our own experience, it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the sites we’ve built up to date. We offer our customers a maintenance pot that they can top up anytime they like (with no expiry date). So once you wish to make any changes to the website or your website needs some updates, we simply take the time off from your maintenance pot – assuring you only pay for the actual time it takes us to do the job.

Are you interested in having a new website developed for your business? Or perhaps you need to make some changes to your current one. Either way, don’t hesitate and contact Web-Feet today!


Customising search terms in Magento 2

Posted on November 15, 2017 by

Introduction to Magento 2 Search

Magento 2 search can sometimes be suboptimal when more than one search term is used. Your initial reaction might be that the search engine isn’t very good. However, using data collected from the Magento 2 admin and using some experience, the platform offers some great flexibility to customise and therefore optimise search results. The end result can be a much better user experience for your site visitors and hopefully a better conversion rate. To find out more, read on.

Considerations

Before we dive in, there are some key considerations before you start trying to customise your search within M2.

Understanding user behaviour

Offsite search

First, we need to take a step back from the M2 website under consideration and look at how the visitors arrive at your website in the first place. If you are using Paid Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation for organic search, then the ‘searching’ has most likely been done BEFORE the visitor arrives at your website. Hopefully, they’ve landed on the right page to meet their needs. In other words, these users are arriving at the website on the product page they are looking for. As such, Magento search is less critical to this type of user. What is critical is ensuring you have a good Digital Marketing strategy to ensure these potential buyers are finding your products through search and landing right where they need to in order to purchase.

Onsite search

Everyone else that lands on your site, through more generic search terms or through your efforts to promote your business and products/services, may be better considered a ‘browser’. They land on your site because they are interested in what you have to offer but might not have a specific product or service in mind. This is the main target audience for optimising your on-site Magento search terms.

We’ll get into a specific example shortly. For now, I’ll show you how to find where you customise search terms in the site admin. So, when you are logged into your M2 admin, click on the Marketing tab and then under SEO & Search you will see ‘Search Terms’ – as highlighted in the image below. Select this option and it will take you through to the Search Terms page.

Menu path to select search customisation

 

The Search Terms page in the Magento 2 admin

When you select the option above it will open the Search Terms page, as shown below.

Magento 2 search screen

The purpose of this page is two-fold. First of all, it’s where all your user intelligence is to be found in terms of what people have searched for on your website. This is actual, real-world data and therefore a potential gold mine in terms of understanding users search behaviour. This page will show you the most recent search queries, how many results that query received and how many times it’s been used. You can filter the data by Uses so that the most frequently used search terms are shown at the top. Not only can you see popular search terms you can also see mis-spellings and other such data which you can use to provide a better visitor experience. There are two key opportunities here;

Mis-spellings

Within the search queries used, you may find things like common mis-spellings or people searching using singular (eg. fridge) when your products are only listed in their plural form (e.g. fridges), and vice versa. This is your opportunity to catch these and redirect them to the actual search results (products) they were looking for rather than no results which can be frustrating and result in visitors leaving your website.

Products or Brands you don’t stock

If visitors are searching for products or brands you don’t carry, rather than give them zero results in the search, redirect them to a Magento landing page that can offer them alternatives. This would be like going the extra mile if you were face to face with the customer. It shows understanding, great customer service and may result in a sale when otherwise the visitor would have just moved on.

Creating Your Custom Search

Here’s an example below of how the search term ‘black fridge’ returns unexpected results. Because we have two words in the search, Magento treats these as mutually exclusive. So, in this case, ‘black’ is being weighted higher than ‘fridge’. So items in the database that are ‘black’ are being listed above those that are ‘fridges’, the search terms are not being used collectively because that’s not how the search works in Magento. This makes sense if you think about it but also, Magento has provided loads of customisation options, which is the purpose of this blog post of course. It should also be noted that you can also ‘weight’ product attributes in Magento in order to optimise search too – that however is outside of the scope of this article.

To deliver better results for this search term we can set up a custom search term within the M2 admin. More on this below.

Search results for black fridge before

Having determined that this search terms doesn’t work as we’d like it to, we can add this as a search term in the admin as described. In order to do this, we need to determine a destination URL so that we can effectively override the search and direct that specific term to a specific page. Below I’ve selected the ‘Fridges’ category from the main site navigation. Then I’ve used the search filter on the left to select just the black fridges. This sends me to the page URL as shown below. Copy this URL to your clipboard and then we will use it to set up our custom search.

 

Filtered search for black fridges

 

If you now go back to the site admin you can create a New Search, this will display the following information. All we need to do is add the search query (in this case black fridge), select the Store View we want this search to apply to, and then add the redirect URL which we copied above. Click save. Please note that if the search query already exists in the database you will need to search for this on this page and then edit it – this only applies if you get a message to say that your search term already exists. As mentioned above, you can also set up a custom search for products or brands that you don’t carry. So if there’s a brand you don’t carry but you have some great alternatives – redirect that search term to a Magento landing page suggesting alternatives. You may make a sale when otherwise the visitor is just going to leave and go somewhere else. It’s also a great opportunity to share your knowledge with your visitors because you may have a much better alternative, this is your opportunity to say why.

add new custom search term

If you now go back to the main website and carry out the same search as before, you will get the results as shown below. Perfect!

customised search for black fridge search term

Search Synonyms

Search synonyms in Magento 2 is another way to customise search. This is a way to link related search terms but only applies to single words. If you have a single word search term that is commonly misspelt, you can link these by creating a Synonym. You do this by creating a list of words, separated by commas. When anyone searches for any of these words, they will all be linked to the same search results. These are especially useful for single search terms that can be misspelt. For anything else, there are the custom search options above.

How to Video

Here’s a video with a step by step guide that shows you how to do everything I’ve talked about above.

In summary

Successful websites are as much about the experience as they are your products and services. You want to get your visitors to what they want quickly and with as little friction as possible. This is why Magento 2 has these really useful features that allow you to fine-tune your visitors’ search experience. Now you know how this works it’s well worth spending time regularly, fine-tuning this part of your website.


Google’s reCAPTCHA is now Completely Invisible

Posted on March 13, 2017 by

Google’s reCAPTCHA service has helped to weed out fake traffic (which costs advertisers billions every year) and stop bots from maliciously submitting forms on the internet for years. However, the awkward letters and numbers were often difficult to read and could even deter users from completing a form. Google’s latest version of reCAPTCHA is now completely invisible to users, and instead works in the background to automatically detect if someone is a human or a bot.

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Migrating from CactuShop to Magento?

Posted on December 16, 2014 by

magento site screenshot

If you’re running CactuShop to manage your online eCommerce experience, it’s probably about time you started looking at your options, not least because you’re site is probably more than 3 years old (which is in general the lifespan of any website’s design) but also because the technology behind your site is now, well it’s old and is not future proof. Which is why over the past year and a half or so we have been building new sites and converting customers with CatuShop sites to the Magento Community Edition platform. CactuShop has served Web Feet and many of our customers incredibly well over the years but it is time to move on and Magento is the most popular, extendable and feature rich eCommerce platform out there boasting excellent security, constant upgrades and hundreds of thousands of merchant users.

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Why we use WordPress, but only for blogs…

Posted on October 30, 2014 by

Wordpress Logo

I am writing this in WordPress, at the same time our website is built on our very own CMS where we edit content for the pages there. Why? You may ask. Well we believe that WordPress is brilliant for what it is, a blogging platform. Yes, you can extend it and yes you can add pages and create menus but the primary purpose of WordPress was always as a platform for bloggers. WordPress is also favoured by google in the search results as Google knows and understands the structure of WordPress sites, so it creawls them more specifically.

So we took a decision to use WordPress for blogs for that reason, it’s great for blogs and combined with the Yoast SEO plugin, our clients and ourselves can use it to target specific audiences and drive traffic to the rest of the site. This way we can let our CMS be great at what it does; clever templates, quick editing of content and pages, easy video search, simple file management and page linking and brilliant features like a comprehensive search and news articles without the additional features of a blog). Our CMS also means we can create some custom features in the admin system, like dropdowns for content specific to our clients and linking between sections and pages.

We think that WordPress is great and we think our CMS great, and we’re constantly thinking of ways to make them work better together and of how we can imporve our offering to our clients who want to edit and add content as simply as possible.


Magento, HREF Lang plugin

Posted on October 3, 2014 by

One of our clients approached us to build a way that they could manage hreflangs on their Magento stores where they were looking to have multiple language versions of the site with different pages on each site. I looked at a few options online and there were some that worked provided the sites would be identical in terms of content but none that would enable control of where the links would go if there wasn’t an alternative url.

… so I built a plugin that enables our client to upload their urls in a csv with the base site in the first column and then they can add as many columns after that to upload the urls for the other language sites. The plugin then retrieves any alternate urls for any other site from the data and adds them to the <head> section of the website.

If this is a solution you think you would require for your multi language Magento, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@web-feet.co.uk.

Magento HREF, multi-language


Magento SEO PHP Product, Category Descriptions and defaults

Posted on November 1, 2013 by

Struggling to generate meta keywords or descriptions automatically on your Magento category and product pages? This blog should help you through the code needed.

Magento is great for many things and from an SEO development point of view it is pretty good but not perfect. Our SEO maestro wanted me to implement some code that if there was a product description it would use that to populate the meta description. After doing some searching, I came across this blog post. This gave me a good starting point but I also needed to do this for category pages as well and our set up required that I looked into a couple of other things. The main issue was that we had populated the default meta description and keywords already so the code needed to check if the keywords for the product where not empty and not equal to the default before deciding what to do.

The code I ended up with is placed in the page/html/head.phml of the theme we are using:

<?php
$desc = strip_tags(trim($this->getDescription()));
$kw = trim($this->getKeywords());
$title = strip_tags(trim($this->getTitel()));

 if (Mage::registry('current_product')) {
   $desc = $this->getTitle(). ' '. strip_tags(str_replace("<br />",", ",substr(Mage::registry('current_product')->getDescription(), 0, strpos(Mage::registry('current_product')->getDescription(), '.')+1)));

   $desc = substr($desc, 0, 150);

   if($title = Mage::getStoreConfig('design/head/default_title') || $title == Mage::registry('current_product')->getDescription())
   {
 
     if(strtolower(substr($desc, 0, strlen($title))) !== strtolower($title))
     {
       $title = Mage::registry('current_product')->getName().' '.strip_tags($desc);
     }
   }
 
   if(empty($kw) || $kw == Mage::getStoreConfig('design/head/default_keywords'))
   {
     $kw = $title.','.$kw;
   }
 }
 
 if (Mage::registry('current_category')) 
 {
   if(empty($desc) || $desc == Mage::getStoreConfig('design/head/default_description'))
   {
      $desc = $this->getTitle(). ' '. strip_tags(str_replace("<br />",", ",substr(Mage::registry('current_category')->getDescription(), 0, strpos(Mage::registry('current_category')->getDescription(), '.')+1)));
      $desc = substr($desc, 0, 150);
   }
   if(empty($kw) || $kw == Mage::getStoreConfig('design/head/default_keywords'))
   {
      $kw = $title.','.$kw;
   }
 }

// ... do what is necessary <title..., <meta name="description... etc
?>

As you can see from the code ; there are quite a few checks and replacements going on to ensure html is not passed through to the head items and also to ensure there isn’t too much duplication of the product name in the description.


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