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Changes coming to Google Search in June 2021

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Starting in mid-June through August, Google will be bringing page experience to Google Search. Things that make a website great to use — like page speed, stability, and mobile-friendliness — will be playing a contributing factor in how your website ranks on Google.

If you need help making any of these changes, we can do it for you! Godaddy’s Website Design Services can make sure your site is built using Google’s best practices.

What is Google Lighthouse?

Google Lighthouse is a development tool that can measure your website’s overall health. Each element that Google checks for factors into your site’s SEO performance. Here are the kinds of things that Google tests on your website:

Your performance score is made up of these key metrics.

  • First Contentful Paint is the time from the page starts loading to when any part of the page shows up on the screen.
  • Speed Index is how quickly content shows up when your website loads.
  • Largest Contentful Paint is how long it takes for the largest image or text block on your website to load.
  • Time to Interactive is how long it takes from when your page starts loading to when someone can interact with the loaded resources (like clicking another page or form)
  • Total Blocking Time is the total amount of time between First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to Interactive (TTI).
  • Cumulative Layout Shift is the total layout shift score for your entire website.

Here are three additional categories that Google measures:

  1. Loading time is how fast the main content on your page loads.
  2. Interactivity measures the time from when someone first clicks on your page to when the browser (like Google Chrome or Safari) begins processing that info.
  3. Visual stability means that your site is free of distracting or unexpected content like pop-up windows.

Your accessibility score is another important metric. It measures how accessible your site is to different kinds of people. Here are some examples of things Google checks for:

  • High contrast between your site background and your text
  • Captions on videos
  • Alt text on images

Google also grades sites on their overall SEO performance, adherence to best practices, and speed and reliability. Sites that get a high score across all these categories will perform better in Google Search.

So, what’s changing?

Google has always rewarded sites with good design and content. When this update goes live in June, Google will be incorporating user experience criteria, including Core Web Vitals — metrics measuring speed, responsiveness, and stability. Sites that meet these guidelines will be prioritized in Google Search. Let’s dive into each metric more deeply.

What are Core Web Vitals?

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures loading performance. Sites should aim to have an LCP of less than 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load.
  • The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability. Sites should strive to have a CLS score of less than 0.1.
  • First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity. Sites should strive to have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
Google search changes core web vitals
Source: Web.dev

Other search signals

  • Mobile-friendliness — The site is easy to view on a mobile phone. You can scan your site to see if it’s mobile-friendly here.
  • Safe browsing — The site doesn’t contain any malicious or deceptive content.
  • HTTPS — The page is served over HTTPS, which means the site connection is secure. This is achieved by adding an SSL to your website.
  • No intrusive interstitials — The content on the page is easy to access, without any distracting or unexpected content like pop-ups covering the main content.

Related: Everything you need to know about Google Core Web Vitals for small business

What does this mean for me?

Test your website using one of the Google tools below. Then, if certain scores on your website need attention, you can review the tips on how to impact top-contributing factors.

Remember: if your site doesn’t accommodate Google’s new requirements, it’s likely that your SEO ranking will suffer, and it will be harder to find your website online.

GoDaddy’s Website Design Services can make this simple by building or rebuilding your website for you. You’ll get a stunning professional website that is secure, mobile-friendly, and built with Google’s best practices and new requirements in mind. Request a call with our experts today.

Testing your Core Web Vitals

First, you’ll need to use one of these tools to measure your Core Web Vitals. The first on the list, Chrome User Experience Report, uses anonymous data to help website owners figure out how they’re doing without needing to install metrics tools. Imagine if you could take a census taken across thousands of websites — that data helps power these tools.

Chrome User Experience Report collects real, anonymized user measurement data for each Core Web Vital. This data enables site owners to quickly assess their performance without requiring them to manually insert analytics tracking on their pages. The data also powers tools like PageSpeed Insights and Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report.

Core web vitals screenshot

How to fix your website’s Core Web Vitals

General guidelines

The typical goal of a website for a business is to provide information to increase conversions, whether to generate more sales or to garner leads for a service, and a great design will only get you so far.

It’s critical to prioritize superior performance over a flashy design. Having a website with lots of dynamic features and animations (especially on mobile) can be impressive but might perform poorly. Ultimately, a solid site with reliable performance will always generate more leads than a site designed without performance in mind.

According to WPO Stats, here are some examples of why this is important:

Yelp statistics
Source: Yelp
Google search changes
Source: Google Chromium Blog

Making fixes

Fix everything labeled “Poor” first, since they’re the lowest-scoring parts of your site. Next, you can prioritize work by the issues that affect the most URLs on your site or by fixing the issues that affect your most important URLs. Anything you see labeled “Needs improvement” can be fixed but isn’t as crucial as the “Poor” label.

Fixing LCP (Largest Content Paint)

Did you know that the longer your page takes to load, the lower your conversion rate will be? Vodafone improved their LCP by 31%, resulting in an 8% increase in sales, a 15% increase in their lead to visit rate, and an 11% increase in their cart-to-visit rate.

The following items can contribute to a high LCP:

Slow resource load times

This is primarily impacted by the type of content you have on your site. You can use a tool like the developer console Performance tab in Google Chrome to identify how long each element on your page is taking to load and address it accordingly. Here are a few suggestions that will help improve your resource load times:

  1. Videos used as a design element, in headers or as a background, can add a lot of visual impact on your website but should be used sparingly and on desktop only, if possible. Default to images on mobile or tablet devices
  2. Be sparing with animation. Try to include videos only when they’re not resource-heavy. You should also only include videos that are critical to your site goals
  3. Optimize your images. Here are key ways to ensure your images are optimized:
    • Remove anything that isn’t relevant. If the visual isn’t there to serve a purpose, then it’s just increasing the size of your website without providing any additional value.
    • Compress your images. Make sure that your images are the right size for the content area. You can also use tools that are tailored to compression that will help retain image quality.
    • Convert to next-gen image web formats like WebP over JPEG. Next-gen images are formatted for compression and quality, helping website pages load faster while using fewer resources. Be sure you have a common version as a fallback (like JPEG) in case your visitors’ devices don’t support the modern format.
    • If you use varied sizes of the same image for different device situations, consider removing any large <srcset> images and keeping more common sizes. [Editor’s note: <srcset> defines the set of images the browser can choose from, and what size each image is when working with responsive images.]
    • Use lazy loading tools or code to delay loading images. This means that images won’t load until a user scrolls to that placement on the page.

Related: How to optimize images for the web

Slow server response time

There are several items that impact your server response time.

Lack of CDN (content delivery network): A CDN will help accelerate your content delivery, increasing your site speed, by reducing the amount of distance between your customer and the server that is providing the content for your website. When choosing a CDN, you will want to ensure it has PoPs (Points of Presence) located near or throughout the areas where you target customers the most.

If your database is too large and needs to be optimized, here are some items you can try to get better performance:

  • Remove page revisions that you no longer need. In some cases, a database could keep all your revisions of every change made, causing your performance to degrade over time. Pro tip: if you don’t want to continuously maintain your revision history, you can add code to your website specifying a specific number of revisions to keep.
  • If you don’t plan on using certain content, consider deleting pages and posts.
  • Keep your website tidy by removing spam and trashed comments.

Your hosting environment can play a key role here. You’ll want to make sure you choose a strong hosting environment that focuses on speed and performance.

Related: Building a server — home or hosted server?

Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS

To eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS, you’ll need to minify and combine CSS and JavaScript files where you can. Set JavaScript to load deferred so you won’t block any other content or asset downloads. This can slow down your site performance.

Optimize CSS delivery by building some tooling that will prioritize your critical CSS over content below the fold. Remove unused JavaScript too, as this will just create unnecessary bloat on your website. You can find more details on LCP here.

Fixing CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

If you’ve ever gone to a website and been redirected by a sneaky ad, you’ve experienced poor CLS. This happens when a page shifts and causes a visitor to interact with an ad or pop-up by accident.

Google search changes poor cls

To avoid poor CLS, make sure your content has dimensions. Always include width and height attributes for images and videos so modern browsers can translate the aspect ratios for different devices. Without these elements, the content will be pushed around on the screen and can cause unpredictable shifts in your layout.

If you have ads or embeds on your website, specify the content container width and height to match the expectations of how the content should be displayed on your site. More details on CLS can be found here.

Fixing FID (First Input Delay)

First Input Delay is the amount of time between when a user interacts with your page and the browser responds to their interaction.

Google search changes poor FID

First Input Delay uses field data, real-world anonymized performance data, to measure the time between when a user interacts with your page and when the browser responds to that interaction.

FID is closely related to LCP. LCP is lab data (a simulated, though comparable experience) that measures how fast your page takes to load enough data to be interactable. This is called “painting” your site, hence Largest Content Paint.

FID is measuring how responsive your website is when customers try to interact with your painted page, like clicking your call to action (CTA) link or button.

The main factor affecting FID is heavy JavaScript execution. It’s key to break up the JavaScript work, serving up what the user needs when they need it.

For further improvements, you can use the Google Lighthouse to scan your website to receive a performance audit and fix any opportunities referenced. More details on how to optimize FID can be found here.

The changes coming to Google Search will present a challenge to many website owners. But, with some hard work, making the necessary fixes will pay off. Or, if you need some extra help, contact the SEO experts at GoDaddy.

Heather Rudnick contributed to this article.

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The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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