Digital Marketing FAQs
Answering your digital marketing questions
We have put together answers to the frequently asked Web and digital marketing questions we receive from local small business owners, from building a website to managing PPC. On this page we're looking at marketing questions specifically, but if you have web build questions pop across to our Web Build FAQs.
If you're question isn't answered below, you can email us or check out our getting started guide for more tips and 'how to' articles and video tutorials.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search Engines like Google and Bing ‘crawl’ websites ‘looking’ at the content, ‘indexing’ pages and adding them to its vast database so that when someone types in a search query it can return the best results possible to meet the searchers requirements. However, a Google 'bot' or any search engine 'bot' cannot actually ‘see’ the content so it needs information on the page to help it ‘read’ what is there. That’s a very simple version. The algorithms Google uses to determine information and see a page 'as a human' - including ‘teaching’ its bots to understand semantics and the relationship between words - are anything but simple.
Why is SEO important?
Most product and service sales, start with an online search. Google dominates the market but there are other search engines and they will all be crawling every website, indexing every page and logging them into their databases. You may have noticed that when you do a Google search it often returns pages and pages of options – a quick search on 'women’s shoes' for example returned over 4,690,000,000 results. That’s an eye watering number, although it’s unlikely you ever click on an answer much beyond the first page. So, with 60,500 searches for Women’s shoes each month, you can see the benefit to being on the first page.
However, sometimes the first page doesn’t give you the answer you want and, in that event, it’s more than likely that you’ll add more information to your ‘search query’ in the hope of refining the results returned to you. For example, you might search for 'Women’s Shoes UK' or if you want to actually visit a store to shop you might type in 'Women’s Shoes shops near me'.
Whilst as a new business you may struggle to get to the first page for the first search term ‘womens shoes’, you will have a better chance with ‘Women’s Shoe shops near me’. There are things you can do to help the Google bots understand what’s on your site and how it’s relevant to certain search terms. As part of our website build, we make sure that the SEO fundamentals are added to your site, because there’s no point building a great looking website that no-one can ever find!
We also offer a series of how to guides so you can help yourself ‘do’ SEO, should you want to.
When will my site show up on Google?
The hardest part about launching a brand-new site on a brand-new domain for my clients is that we set the site live, and then the next day they Google their company name and…. it doesn’t show up. At this point I usually get a call to say “Hey, my site’s not showing up. I’ve told all my friends, they’ve all looked and it’s not showing up when they Google it either!!"
The time it takes for Google to begin ranking your site depends on a number of factors and can be anything from a couple of days to 6 months. So let’s look at the reasons “why you didn’t show up in Google?”
1) Are you a new site?
The first reason is that brand-new sites go in to what is known in the SEO world as the Google 'Sandbox' (or what in the UK we would call a Sandpit). If you remember that Google’s main objective is to provide the best results for its users so they don’t use another search engine, then it follows that it has indicators to base its decision as to what 'the best result' is. Part of this decision making includes assessing the trustworthiness of each search result it is presenting. If you are a brand-new site, Google doesn’t know whether you’re still going to be around in another week, month or year, so it’s going to monitor you before you get a rank. Why? Well, imagine your Gran asked you for a recommendation for a plumber, who would you suggest first: Someone you know who has just finished their college course but has not done a job yet? Or someone else you know is an established reliable plumber, that lots of people rate highly?
2) Is your company name a generic word or phrase?
Another reason your brand may take time to show is if your company name is also a generic word or phrase. Let’s say you called your carpentry company 'odd jobs'. When you type 'odd jobs' into Google, it’s not entirely sure of the intent behind your search, so it shows you an array of results, some are 'Job Vacancies', some are DIY blog posts, some might be news stories or videos of people doing ‘odd jobs’ for a living and finally it may present a map and/or listings of local companies called 'odd jobs'. The more people that click your link, the more Google starts to recognise that people in your area typing 'odd jobs' are looking for you and not any of the other search categories it returned.
3) Does Google know you exist?
Please be reassured that the first thing we do when your site is live is submit its sitemap to Google and Bing. What this does is alert the Search Engines to your website so it knows you are there and to come and crawl it. Once acknowledged, the Google Bots ‘make a note’ to come back and index your pages e.g. ‘read what’s there’. Finally, the bots log your pages in Google’s VAST database and assign it a ‘rank’. In order to help this rank or position in the search results, we have spent time making sure your on-page SEO has all the necessary Google Bot information loaded in.
However, ranking in Google is a long-term 'game' and unfortunately not a task that can be done once and forgotten. But there are some things you can do up front when you launch to set you off on the right track.
What does Google need for my site to show up in searches?
I could chat at length about SEO, but the level of detail would probably have you snoring, so for those that want to know the nitty, gritty, we have created a series of “how to" videos.
For those that want a short, simple, big picture answer, the basics at a very high level, are:
1) Make your site SSL secure
This will show your domain as using https://. Browsers returning sites on http are now showing “not secure” ahead of the URL address. Not a major ranking factor but gives you a slight boost and more importantly gives your users confidence in your site.
2) Submit an xml sitemap – making sure you:
Have removed / repaired any broken links
Haven’t set up re-directs that redirect and redirect wasting the bots crawl time.
3) Meta data
Titles, Description, H1 to H6 heading tags and alt tag your images.
Deliver high quality content for your readers – DON’T keyword stuff
DON’T duplicate content on your site (or copy from another site!)
Avoid ‘thin content’ on pages, this is where there is less than 200 words on one page – Google takes this as an indication of low-quality content
Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T) - Why should I (the reader) believe what you are saying? Where’s your evidence for what you are saying and who are you to say these things? Link to and from your industry’s Governing Body, or articles/research from academic institutes, trusted news sources (is there such a thing?) etc. These are good for the reader and are also indicators to Google of E-A-T for your page.
Make sure you are linking where possible between your pages too
Design your site with mobile users in mind first, desktop second, so buttons should be large and easily clickable, all text should be readable on the site and not disappearing off the page!
Avoid using large images and data hungry videos that will slow down a page’s load time which brings us on to:
5) Page size and load speed
For best practice usability a page should ideally load on a mobile within 2 seconds and be less than 5MB in size. Recently Google stated that page size is a very, very, small ranking factor [See mobile friendly FAQ].
No SEO list is complete without the word ‘backlinks’. Briefly, Google bots see each link to your site as another vote or recommendation for your page. BUT – and this is important – these must be from a trustworthy source! Think about your own experience on TripAdvisor, if a hotel has lots of great reviews, you reason it must be a good place, but if you find out that hotel paid lots of people to give it a good review, you would quickly change your opinion.
For those that want to do the on-page SEO themselves, please take a look at our how to guides where we provide an SEO Guide and templated form to complete.
What about local SEO?
If you are a local company with a physical base where people visit – a café, a shop, a pub – or provide a service to a local area – plumber, electrician, driving instructor – then Google Business Profile (previously called Google My Business, and Google Places before that!) is a must as it will bring greater visibility of your business for people searching.
What do you need for a 'Google Business Profile' – can I do this myself?
As part of your web build, if appropriate, we will complete a Google Business Profile (GMP) listing for your company. It includes the key information about your business, such as your contact details, your location, your opening hours, a description of your business along with your products and services. It also allows you to make regular posts, just like you would on social. Our ‘GBP template’ shows you all the information you can include and the limits so you can get this information ready before you create a profile.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your GBP listing for a local business!
But there's more to local SEO!
Getting links to your site from other local companies is also a really good way to help get business both from people who follow the link but also because Google bots will recognise that local businesses are ‘recommending you’.
It helps to also include on every page your business name, address and phone number. This is so that for people searching from their phone they can quickly make contact with you or find their way to you.
You can also register your business with local business directories to help your business be found. Make sure that when you do, you are consistently using your business name, address and phone number.
What is Google Analytics? Why do I need it?
Using a tracking tool to understand how visitors to your site interact with it is absolutely essential. You will have plotted the customer journey to the best of your ability based on your knowledge of your product, your competition, the market and your customer. But having website usage tracking allows you to monitor this assumption. It will show you where the site excels or falls down and, most importantly, it allows you to continuously review and improve your web customer journey - ultimately to lead to more sales for you.
Google has many FREE tools to allow you to do this, in particular, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console.
About Google Analytics (GA)
Putting GA on your website is simple and gives you great insights such as:
Who is using your site: age, gender, location, device,
How people arrive at your site: which search term, which advert, which social, which referral site,
How long they spend on the site: how many pages they view, where they enter, exit, how many come back,
How many visits it takes to convert to a sale: the time lapse, the channels used, the pages visited before purchase……
Is it difficult to add Google Analytics?
Not at all, you simply copy and paste a small bit of code into your CMS site’s header. We will do this as part of the build and we will give you access to the online GA reports.
Google Analytics delivers information online and through its app in really simple to use charts and graphs to help you interpret all the data and intelligence coming in from visits.
Please note, you need a Gmail account to access Google Analytics and also Google Adwords - if you intend to do some Paid Search activity. For optimum results you would link GA with Google Console (GSC) and Google Adwords, these resources are easily linked via a Gmail account.
I’ve started with Google Ads but can you manage it for me?
Absolutely. We will discuss objectives and targets with you and provide a proposal and costs to deliver on these, including providing our own weekly reports that give you a simple overview to monitor the performance.
If you are happy with the proposal plans, then all you need to do is log-in to your GA account and add our SME Marketeers Gmail account as an 'admin'. We can then take over management and continue to advise you on the best course of action.
Can you create, plan and manage my social activity?
The simple answer is “Yes”. We would first meet with you to discuss your goals for social, who you want to reach and how you want to position yourself.
We will provide a proposal with a delivery strategy that includes the content we recommend using, what may need creating, the timing of your communications, how ‘success’ of the campaign will be measured, and anticipated deliverables.
It will also include a plan for responding to complaints / comments quickly and effectively.