This marks the launch of a new series of posts from Boutique’s digi department, where we’ll be sharing the latest news, trends and insight into the world of digital. Reporting on Google’s latest antics, we’ll fill you in on all things search, from impending algorithm changes to the biggest no-nos of SEO (search engine optimisation)!
Today, it’s all about mobile-friendliness, social media and link building, with a pigeon thrown in for good measure…
Ranking algorithm to officially use mobile usability factors
Last month, Webmaster Tools very kindly dropped the results of mobile usability tests into inboxes all over the land. With a full report of non-mobile-friendly pages, along with techniques for fixing issues and creating a more responsive website, the message was Google’s confirmation of changes that we’ve been anticipating for a long time.
While a fully responsive website has always been a big recommendation, it’s now more important than ever. Of course, SEOs have reiterated the importance of mobile-friendliness for a good few years now, so it’s no surprise – the only new bit is that a deadline has been set: April 21st, 2015.
Google and Twitter make friends
The impact of social media on search results has been pondered for a while. We’ve never been quite sure how Google applies social to its algorithm, though it’s unquestionably a factor. But now, everyone’s favourite search engine has signed an agreement with Twitter, whereby tweets and other data are to be incorporated into organic rankings. As far as we can see, the deal is mutually beneficial; Twitter will see increased frequency and have more opportunities to convert, while search results will be enhanced by real-time updates and more varied content.
For brands, it’ll also prove valuable. We’ve always stressed the importance of a social media presence – to reach a wider audience, build brand awareness, encourage conversation and gain trust – and now that SEO rankings are part of the game, social media is more significant than ever before.
It’s old news, but still worth mentioning… The link building vs. earning argument has reared its head again and, unsurprisingly, the active pursuit of links has been fervently discouraged. When questioned about the implications, Google’s Webmaster Tools Analyst, John Mueller, stated that he’d ‘try to avoid that’, which we can translate into avoid at all costs. While links are still a crucial part of the algorithm, dubious techniques will do your site more harm than good.
Of course, this isn’t to be confused with naturally earning links (and all good SEOs know the best way to do that is to create excellent content).
What you need to know about Pigeon
There’s been a lot of talk about Pigeon recently, so we thought we’d give you the low down… Last summer Google rolled out a new local search algorithm, the function of which was to create closer ties between local and core algorithms. Before Pigeon, the natural search results from Google and Google Maps were often disparate, but are now presented in a much more cohesive manner. Local review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor also received higher visibility following the release, and users are now regularly greeted by review site listings no matter the search term. Of course, along with those that got a boost, many business experienced a loss of listings – but that’s just how algorithms work!
Slow and steady loses the race
The rumour mill has also turned its attention to load time, and it’s thought that Google may be testing labels in search engine results. This will identify slow pages, warning the user and ultimately discouraging them from clicking through. The system clarifies one of the search engine’s major concerns, which is for top-quality user experiences. As with the impending penalisation of unresponsive sites, it seems that slow coaches will also experience a downturn in the near future.
For more information about the digital services on offer at Boutique, tweet the team @WeAreBoutiqueUK.
We’re delighted to have added three strings to our bow in the form of Alex, James and Jamie.
Having recently announced our appointment by Costcutter Supermarkets Group and Coral Windows & Conservatories, the three new recruits mark the start of a very busy and exciting 2015 for us.
Alex Clarkson has joined us as Client Services Director. Alex has previously worked across a range of integrated clients, predominantly in the tourism, health and retail sectors, and will play a key role in developing full-service communications strategies for new and existing clients.
Boosting our digital offering, we have welcomed James Wood, formerly of MediaCom in Manchester, into the newly created role of Head of Digital Delivery. Having worked on big brands including Hillary’s Blinds, DFS and Dreams, as well as travel, ecommerce and finance clients, James will be managing our digital team as it continues to expand its client portfolio.
Also new to digital is Jamie Richards who has joined as SEO Executive. Arriving in Yorkshire from an e-commerce agency in Derby, Jamie brings fresh enthusiasm and will provide digital support across the board.
We’ve been experiencing an exciting level of growth in the last year with some big name wins, so it’s a great time for us to add to the team. Alex, James and Jamie are testament to our recruitment process in that we only employ the most enthusiastic and creative minds. They’re quickly settling in and are very welcome additions to the office.
In this weekend’s Sunday Times, Luke Johnson (@LukeJohnsonRCP), the Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, talked about how the UK is exceeding the US in entrepreneurship based on start-up and growth numbers.
There were 581,173 UK start-ups in 2014; an increase of almost 10% on the previous year. A heady stat and testament to the culture that British society and business is creating in the UK.
For me, ‘entrepreneurialism’ is an over-used word. I’m not convinced that the owners and shareholders of all 581,173 companies are worthy of the title. Suffice to say, I consider myself a business owner, not an entrepreneur!
However, what those businesses and individuals will share with me is a passion to do things better. Better than their competitors, better than their previous employer and, importantly, better for the end user or consumer.
At Boutique, our brand promise is to ‘Think and Do. Better’. It creates a culture of high standards, no compromising on delivery and excellence in both internal and external activity.
That, critically, is what you should expect from privately owned, independent companies; a desire to be better that is brought to life in the engagement. It’s a passion, assiduity and dynamism (coupled with creativity and pre-requisite level of experience, knowledge and intelligence!) that larger, corporate, hierarchically-structured, operationally-led businesses can’t fulfil. If all 581,173 can start with that core belief we’d all like to think they’ll succeed wouldn’t we?
Naturally, I am biased; I own an agency. I am passionate about our independence and other independent businesses and, wherever possible, I use independents and partner with like-minded agencies. I also prefer to shop locally with bespoke, privately owned retailers. I do that because I both believe in supporting growing, sustainable businesses that care, but I do also expect a personal approach – I expect the dynamism behind the businesses will impact on my experience.
Furthermore, these new companies contribute disproportionately to job creation and innovation. They are less risk averse and have a flexibility that is client-centric, irrelevant of sector or business type. Surely that is something we should all support if it is a sustainable model that benefits all stakeholders?
We seem to be on the cusp of a change in society, away from the big corporate businesses, and retail is a fine example with the ongoing profit warnings and declining turnover of the bigger Supermarkets in favour of the independents, challenger brands (granted, not necessary independent) and symbol groups (one reason we were so excited to be appointed to Costcutter). That shift is, I hope, representative of a bigger shift in mind-set that will, in this example, drive our high streets to growth, and more widely will provide confidence in all sectors that an ‘alternative’ is desirable and, in turn, the growth of entrepreneurship will continue at a rapid pace.
I don’t believe in the overly used word entrepreneurialism per se, but I do believe in independent businesses and all they stand for and, in a terribly selfish manner, I hope Marketing Directors are all feeling the same way!