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Google’s “Mobilegeddon”

MobilegeddonSome small business owners may have noticed a change but the majority would not. Maybe the GoogleBot hasn’t swept by your site just yet. Even if it has, and your search ranking have taken a step backwards, it’s not the end of the world.

An unbelievable number of marketing bloggers have been all “doom and gloom” about the changes on April 21st to Google’s search ranking algorithm but it’s not the first time that changes have been made (it most probably won’t be the last either). Why are so many people excited about this one?

Let’s take a look at what is “Mobilegeddon”?

As of April 21st, 2015, Google will start using mobile friendliness as an integral part of their ranking calculations to determine search results. This means, in layman’s terms, that mobile-friendly sites will get a rewarded with a higher position in those results, while sites that aren’t responsive on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, will “significantly” drop in ranking.

Just how much that drop will be is still up for debate.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Google, being the very helpful “big brother” that it is, has conveniently created a mobile-friendly test that will quickly determine whether your site makes the cut or not. The test also generates a breakdown of the various mobile elements of your site so that you can see where improvements need to be made. To examine your site for mobile friendliness, click here to visit the Google Mobile-Friendly Test page.

What if your site is not mobile friendly?

First of all – don’t panic. You won’t be removed from results altogether but there are things you need to do.

To be regarded as “mobile-friendly”, Google looks at the following:

  • On a mobile device, is the text readable without zooming?
  • Does the content of the site resize automatically to fit the screen?
  • Does the site use Flash? (Flash is not available on most mobile devices)
  • Can a user click links and buttons with a fingertip or stylus? How do they navigate around the site?

If you answer NO to any of the above questions then you may have a non-responsive site.

What are the options with a non-responsive site?

Achieving the parameters above is quite simple if your site is built on the WordPress framework.

Option #1:

You can download a free plugin called WP-Touch and configure it to display your site as a mobile theme. WP-Touch has a number of built themes that you can select to display your website. With some tweaking, you can achieve a decent variation of your main site.

Downside: Unless you are skilled in PHP and CSS (web coding languages), this option changes the on-screen appearance of your site and it will no longer match your branding from the desktop version.

Option #2:

Enlist the help of a web designer to alter your website at a foundation level to become a fully responsive website. A responsive site automatically detects the size of the screen and changes everything accordingly. A mobile menu appears, text and imagery resize and non-mobile necessary content can be removed to increase page loading speed.

Please note that this should not mean a complete site re-build. There are actions a web designer can take, at grass roots level, to improve the appearance of a site on a mobile screen.

Conclusion

As you can see from the options above, if you have found that your site has taken a tumble with the changes to Google, it is not a serious problem that can’t be rectified. Once action has been taken, you simply need to wait for the GoogleBot to sweep past your site again, detect your changes and you will be back in business.

Some internet marketing commentators are noticing the mobile changes SINCE 21st April are being detected by Google very quickly. You may be back in your desired rankings before you know it.

How to choose the right Social Media for your Business

Social MediaWhen it comes to choosing a suitable social media platform for your small business, there is no shortage of options. But with most business owners being enthusiasm rich but time poor, not every single one can be covered. In an ideal world, the small business owner would be able look into each and every social media channel and determine which would deliver the best results for them.

There are a whole range of factors that determine the success of a particular social media for you: your products / services, human resources, audience and financial resources all need to be taken into account.

Let’s look at the five big ones that may be useful for your business:

Google +

Google Boss Larry Page has trumpeted the growth of Google+ at every opportunity but you need to wary of this – his company has made “membership” of Google+ mandatory for usage of Gmail and Youtube. Apart from this, who actually uses Google+? I tried for a short time but found that the circles concept is fundamentally flawed to reach a larger audience with update posts.

On the plus side, Google+ is powered by Google so it isn’t disappearing without a fight. It’s also intrinsically linked to Google search so there may be benefits to some benefits in that one fact alone.

You, like me, may need to test this one out for yourself.

Instagram

Essentially an image sharing platform, Instagram is slightly more suitable for business than the other image sharer platform, Pinterest, through its clever use of hashtags and plugin integration. Whereas Pinterest allows people to collect images that are of interest to them, Instagram can be integrated directly into business websites allowing site owners to draw in real-time content from their own customers.

A great example is used in online fashion stores – with a simple WordPress plugin, a site owner can display their products as worn by their customers – after purchase! The customer simply has to take a photo and upload to their own Instagram account with a suitable hashtag. The website detects this tag and displays the image in the online shop. What a great way to show your products in use by everyday people – not shop models!

Instagram is great for businesses with a teen/young adult market – they are all over this!

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been designed from the ground up to cater for the Business to Business market. At current, over 2.7 million businesses are represented on the platform but it may not suit your needs if you cater to the public consumer.

If your small business provides services to other businesses (large or small), LinkedIn is ideal for creating connections within your industry. By simply “connecting” with one person, a whole spider web of possibilities opens up to you. Your connections still need to approve your invite to connect, but this is lot more personable than a cold call.

Facebook

Facebook is the one Social Media that everyone knows and everyone is on. Luckily for business, it is fantastic no matter what service you provide or products you sell. If there is one social media you must be on, in my opinion, this is it.

Facebook not only allows businesses to build a fan-based community around their brand but it also enables the business owner to directly target their ideal audience. Is your target audience 15 year old boys who love to surf and skateboard? Facebook has them covered. What about pregnant 30 year old mums? Too easy.
By ensuring that users enter information about themselves, Facebook can specifically target these audiences.

You can boost your posts on Facebook through the usage of paid advertisements or, in the initial period, try it out with your own audience (people who click LIKE on your website).

Twitter

Another must in the Social Media arsenal for business owners, Twitter is great for a whole range of reasons. You can use it to start or participate in trending topics (once again using hashtags), both locally and worldwide. Better still, you can graphically the trends across the world.

Announce your latest news, products, blog posts and anything else you want to share, instantly. Start instant competitions for your business with no need for outside promotion (great for those times when business is slow).

Hashtags are the key. Before posting anything on Twitter, do a quick hashtag check (I use Tweetdeck) and see if there is a similar tag that you can use. This way, you will “hook” into a movement that has already started.

On top of the five mentioned above, there are many more Social Media channels to choose from, including the popular Foursquare, YouTube and Pinterest options.
When choosing the platforms that you want to use, don’t forget that nothing is set in stone. If, six months down the track, you decide to try something else, there is no barrier to stop you.

Just remember that as a small business, being on too many platforms can spread you out too thin, effecting your productivity and results. Hopefully, armed with the information written above, you can make an informed decision on which platforms to focus on to help boost your business.

Five Tips to get you IN with Google

Getting on GoogleIt should come as no surprise that the most common question I field as a web designer is “How can improve my site’s placement on Google?” It’s universally known that Google is the main driver of traffic on the internet. The word “Google” has even been added to the Oxford Dictionary.

So what steps can you do as the website owner or manager to try and snag that front page of Google search results? Here’s five tips that will help you on the way:

Tip #1 – Use your Web Designer to get quick placement!

If your site was professionally designed, your developer should have added your site to their portfolio. Check that it has been added with a full URL link and a few key words in a description. As their site would be already in the Google index, your new web address will be “picked up” the next time the Google Bot sweeps by for its regular site check. Once the address has been indexed, you will start to see your site in the search results in a couple of weeks.

Alternatively you can use Google Webmaster Tools and manually add your site to the Google listing. Be though warned that this method does take longer than the one above – sometimes up to five weeks.

Tip #2: Use Keywords throughout your Content

While writing content for a particular page of your site, be sure to include a “smattering” of the page’s keywords throughout. For example, on the front page of a site containing fashion, you would include the keywords that your customers would type into Google to find you – words like “fashion, style, prada, guuchi, etc.). Use these words in the regular flow of your text content.

Don’t add them one after the other and most importantly, don’t overload the page with keywords. This is known as keyword stuffing and you can be penalised by Google for this tactic.

Tip #3: Utilise your Page Titles

Another great place to put your keywords is in the actual title for your site pages. Known as H1 titles, these are generally the first text titles you see on a web page and Google holds these in very high regard when calculating page ranking for search placement.

Note: To avoid being penalised, never use more than one on each page.

Tip #4: Share links with your Industry partners

Although not as popular with Google as it used to be, link sharing, also known as back linking, is the usage of links between various (separate) sites on the internet to promote search ranking. Put simply, your site links to another site and they link back to you. Depending on the popularity of the sites involved, you can boost your placement in the search results.

To do this, you must link from high quality sites – sites that Google likes within your industry. It doesn’t work to link from unrelated sites as this is detected by the search algorithm that the search engines use.

On this note, never subscribe to those spam emails / links you may receive asking for you to buy links. Just like buying lollies for others didn’t get you real friends at school, buying links won’t make you “friends” with Google.

Tip #5: Keep your site fresh with new content

Finally, Google loves sites that update regularly with fresh content. This can come in many forms – a blog, videos, new galleries, fresh products on an online store or, at a more extreme level, a site re-design. Unbeknownst to most website owners, the search giant does keep an eye on the age of your information and media and frowns upon content that is long in the tooth.”

Time to get that blog off the backburner and into action?

After applying the tips above to your website, you can watch for improvements in your site’s listing in two ways. You can watch the gradual climb through the Google search listings or, log onto your site’s statistics in your Control Panel (ask your website designer for access). Through the Control Panel, you can observe the usage of keywords, which search engines are sending you traffic and the overall site visits that your site is receiving.

If you need help with any of the above or just want more, keep reading the upcoming blogs from Rusty Mango Design. OR – skip the waiting and get in touch with us today.

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design