An image of a mobile phone showing a Google searchbar

What Are SEO Keywords & How Do You Use Them? (Introduction for Beginners in 2023)


In this blog post, we’re going to break down the basics of keywords, one of the most fundamentally important elements of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the words or phrases that people use to search for information on search engines like Google. They play a crucial role in helping search engines understand what your website or content is about and whether it’s relevant to a particular search query.

Remember, the fundamental purpose of a search engine is to connect users with the most relevant and valuable information based on their search queries.

To understand what queries your website and content might be relevant for, search engines use complex algorithms to analyse many factors on your web pages with keywords, both long-tail and short-tail, included in this analysis.

These algorithms are incredibly sophisticated and as such the first 5 organic results on a search page account for over 67% of all clicks.

What is the difference between a long-tail and short-tail keyword?

Long-tail and short-tail keywords are essential components of effective SEO strategies. Short-tail keywords consist of one or two words, while long-tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases.

Short-tail keywords are broad and generic, attracting a larger search volume but also facing stiff competition. For example, “shoes” is a short-tail keyword. A search like this reveals very little about the intent of the searcher – we don’t know why they’re searching for information on shoes.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more specific and target a niche audience. They typically have a lower search volume but higher conversion rates. Still, nearly 30% of keywords with over 10,000 monthly searches consist of 3 or more words.

An example of a long-tail keyword would be “black leather men’s dress shoes.”

As you can see, this reveals much more about the specific intent and interest of the searcher.

By incorporating both short-tail and long-tail keywords into SEO efforts, you can strike a balance between visibility and relevance. Short-tail keywords help to attract a wide audience, while long-tail keywords attract visitors who are more likely to convert into customers. Thus, optimising your website with a combination of these keyword types is crucial for a successful SEO strategy.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

How To Choose The Right Keywords For SEO

Selecting the right keywords for SEO is critical in optimising your content and improving your website’s visibility in search engine results. Here are 10 steps you can take to help you research, choose and continually optimise your keyword selection:

1 – Understand your Business and Target Audience

Why Does This Matter For Keyword Rankings?

By taking the time to understand your business and audience in this detail, you will give yourself the ability to align your content with the specific needs, interests and search behaviours of your potential customers.

It will also give you the chance to familiarise yourself with the language and terminology most likely to be used by your audience. Each industry has unique lingo and by identifying the specific terms, jargon and phrases commonly used, you can look to incorporate these into the rest of the keyword selection process.

You should also consider the buying journey of your target audience and how this could relate to their search intent. People looking to purchase a new family car will have completely different needs and search behaviours to people looking to find and book a local Chinese restaurant.

How Do I Get A Better Understanding of My Business & Target Audience?

Here are some steps to help you gain better insights:

  1. Define Your Business Goals: Begin by clarifying your business objectives and goals. Identify what you want to achieve through your website and online presence. This could include increasing sales, generating leads, enhancing brand visibility, or establishing thought leadership. Aligning your SEO efforts with your business goals is crucial for success.
  2. Conduct Market Research: Dive deep into market research to gain a comprehensive understanding of your industry, competitors, and target audience. Identify industry trends, customer preferences, and emerging opportunities. Analyse your competitors’ strategies to learn from their successes and shortcomings. This research will provide valuable insights into your business landscape.
  3. Develop Buyer Personas: Create detailed buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. These personas are fictional representations of your target audience, incorporating demographic information, interests, behaviours, pain points, and motivations. Use surveys, interviews, and customer data to gather relevant information and refine your personas. Understanding your audience’s needs and preferences will help you tailor your SEO efforts accordingly, and also bolster your other marketing efforts. Cintell report that 70% of businesses that exceed lead generation goals utilise buyer personas!
  4. Analyse Website Analytics: Utilise web analytics tools like Google Analytics to gather data about your website’s performance. Analyse metrics such as traffic sources, user behaviour, conversion rates, and engagement patterns. This data will provide valuable insights into your current audience, popular content, and areas for improvement. It will help you make data-driven decisions to enhance your website’s SEO performance.
  5. Leverage Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify the search terms and phrases that your target audience is using (more on this later!)
  6. Engage with Your Audience: Actively engage with your audience through social media, forums, comment sections, or surveys. Encourage feedback, listen to their concerns, and respond to their inquiries. This direct interaction will provide valuable insights into their preferences, pain points, and interests. Use this information to fine-tune your SEO strategy and create content that resonates with your audience.

By consistently researching and understanding your business and target audience, you can develop SEO strategies that align with their needs, effectively reach them, and drive meaningful results for your business.

So, please don’t skip this step – it can be tempting to feel, as a small business owner, that you are already well aware of all these elements. Whilst that may be true, thinking about your business and audience through the lens of SEO is a different thing altogether, and really sets the foundation for a successful keyword strategy!

An image of two people discussing a research document whilst making annotations to it

2 – Brainstorm Seed Keywords

What Are Seed Keywords In SEO?

Seed keywords, also known as primary keywords or core keywords, are the initial set of general, broad terms that represent the main topics or themes related to your business, products, or services.

What Do Seed Keywords Do?

These keywords serve as a starting point for keyword research and are used to generate a broader list of more specific and targeted keywords.

Seed keywords capture the overall essence of your business. They are the foundational terms that should encapsulate the primary concepts, products, or services offered.

For example, if you owned a bakery, bad seed keywords could be “bakery”, “bread” or “baking”, whilst good seed keywords could be “freshly baked bread”, “gluten-free donuts” or “luxury wedding cakes”.

How Do I Come Up With Seed Keywords For SEO?

Remember, the goal at this stage is to generate a list of initial seed keywords that represent the main topics or themes of your business. Don’t worry about search volume or competition just yet. You can refine and expand your keyword list in later stages of the research process.

To quickly and easily determine your first seed keywords, follow these steps:

  1. Identify Your Business: Read through the notes you made following the previous section.
  2. List Relevant Topics: Brainstorm a list of broad topics that are relevant to your business. These should be general areas that your target audience is interested in or searches for online. For example, if you have an e-commerce website selling sports shoes, relevant topics could include “running shoes,” “athletic footwear,” “sports shoes,” and so on.
  3. Use Tools: Utilise keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or AnswerThePublic. Enter your relevant topics into these tools to generate a list of related keywords.
  4. Analyse Competitors: Research your competitors in your industry or niche. Visit their websites and look for common themes or topics and note down any relevant keywords that align with your business.
  5. Leverage Customer Insights: If you have existing customers or an audience, reach out to them to gain insights into the terms they use to search for products or services like yours. Conduct surveys, and interviews, or analyse customer feedback to gather keyword ideas that resonate with your target audience.
  6. Use Google Autocomplete: Start typing your relevant topics or industry keywords into Google’s search bar and observe the suggestions that appear. These suggestions are based on popular searches, providing valuable seed keywords that can be used as a starting point.
  7. Leverage Social Media and Forums: Explore social media platforms and online forums related to your industry. Look for discussions, hashtags, or groups where people discuss topics related to your business. Pay attention to the language they use and note down any relevant keywords or phrases. Sites like Reddit can be an absolute goldmine!

A photograph showing a notebook and laptop during the seed keyword research process

3 – Expand your List of Keywords

Now we’ve got seed keywords in place, it’s time to expand upon them – they’re only seeds after all!

Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help with this process. We’ll break down three of the most popular tools – Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer below.

Remember, keyword research tools provide valuable data and suggestions, but it’s essential to analyse and interpret the results in the context of your specific business and target audience. Here’s how to get started on each of these platforms – we’ll dive into more detail on the data you should focus on in the following sections.

A screenshot showing Google's Keyword Planner in use

How To Use Google Keyword Planner

  • Sign in to Google Ads and access the Keyword Planner tool.
  • Choose the “Discover new keywords” option.
  • Enter your seed keywords or related terms in the search bar.
  • Explore the generated list of keyword ideas along with their search volume, competition, and other metrics.
  • Identify relevant keywords with sufficient search volume and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A screenshot showing SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

How To Use SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

  • Sign in to your SEMrush account.
  • Go to the “Keyword Magic Tool” or similar keyword research tool.
  • Enter your seed keywords in the search box.
  • Explore the list of keyword suggestions along with metrics like search volume, keyword difficulty, CPC (Cost Per Click), and more.
  • Filter the results based on relevance, search volume, or other criteria.
  • Identify suitable keywords and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A screenshot showing Moz's Keyword Explorer

How to Use Moz’s Keyword Explorer

  • Access the Moz Keyword Explorer tool.
  • Enter your seed keywords or topics in the search bar.
  • Review the generated keyword suggestions with important metrics such as search volume, difficulty, organic CTR (Click-Through Rate), and more.
  • Analyze the keyword rankings, related questions, and SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis provided by the tool.
  • Select keywords that are relevant and aligned with your goals, and add them to your list.
  • For more help, head here.

A photograph of an iPhone showing a google search bar

4 – Analyse Search Intent For SEO

What Is Search Intent And Why Is It So Important?

Search intent refers to the underlying motivation or purpose behind a user’s search query. It is crucial to decipher what users are truly looking for when they enter specific keywords into search engines.

Remember, Google’s primary focus is satisfying the search intent of its users!

Search intent can be broadly categorised into four main types:

  1. Informational Intent: Users with informational intent are seeking knowledge or answers to their questions. They want to learn about a particular topic, find definitions, or understand how something works. For example, someone searching for “how to tie a tie” is looking for step-by-step instructions or a video tutorial. Around 14% of Google’s total search volume is composed of questions!
  2. Navigational Intent: Navigational intent occurs when users are searching for a specific website or online destination. They have a clear idea of the website they want to visit but may not remember the exact URL. For instance, a search for “Facebook login” indicates a user’s intent to access the Facebook website.
  3. Transactional Intent: Transactional intent reflects users’ desire to perform an action, such as making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or downloading a file. They are ready to engage in a transaction and often include keywords like “buy,” “discount,” or “best price.” For example, a search for “buy iPhone X online” suggests a user’s intent to purchase that specific product.
  4. Commercial Investigation Intent: Users with commercial investigation intent are in the research phase and evaluating different products or services. They might compare features, and prices, or read reviews before making a decision. Queries like “best DSLR cameras under £1000” indicate this intent, as the user wants to explore options before making a purchase.

Why Does Search Intent Matter For Increasing Traffic & Rankings?

Analysing the search intent of keywords allows you to create content that aligns with what your audience is searching for, leading to higher relevance, engagement and user satisfaction (that’s good news for your rankings, too!)

By understanding search intent, you can address users’ specific needs, whether they’re looking for information, solutions, products, or services. It’s so important, there’s even a whole section dedicated to it in Google’s ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.’

Understanding search intent allows SEO experts to optimise content, aligning it with the user’s intent and creating a better user experience. By providing relevant and valuable content that fulfills the user’s intent, websites can increase their chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting targeted organic traffic.

A photograph of a woman using a laptop in front of a blurred out computer screen

How Can I Analyse Search Intent?

To analyse the search intent of keywords, you can follow these steps:

  1. Examine search results: Look at the existing top-ranking pages for your target keyword and observe the type of content they provide. Are they blog posts, product pages, guides, or videos? This can give you insights into the intent behind the keyword.
  2. Review the content format: Analyse the format and structure of the top-ranking content. For example, if most results are in the form of step-by-step guides, it suggests users are seeking instructional or how-to information.
  3. Read the search snippets: Pay attention to the search engine result page (SERP) snippets for your target keyword. These brief descriptions often provide clues about the search intent. Are they informational, transactional, or navigational in nature? Whilst around 20% of featured snippets are listed, there are other forms too, such as tables and videos.
  4. Understand user queries: Study the specific queries users enter when searching for your target keyword. Are they asking questions, looking for comparisons, or seeking specific products/services? This can indicate the underlying intent behind their search.
  5. Utilise keyword research tools: Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz’s Keyword Explorer can help you identify patterns and understand the typical intent associated with specific keywords. For example, SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool has a dedicated column for showing the intent of the keyword.
  6. Use tools like Answer the Public or AlsoAsked to uncover the common questions, concerns, and search queries related to your target keywords. These tools provide insights into the various user intents (e.g., informational, transactional, navigational) behind specific keywords. Aligning your content with user intent enhances keyword relevance and improves the overall user experience.
  7. Analyse historical data: If you have access to website analytics or search query data from your website, examine the historical performance of keywords and the behaviour of users who arrived through those keywords. This data can offer insights into the intent of users who interacted with your content.

By combining these approaches, you can gain a better understanding of the search intent behind keywords. This analysis helps you create content that fulfils users’ needs and matches their expectations, resulting in higher engagement, improved rankings, and increased conversions.

A photograph of a man working on a laptop surrounded by paperwork as he analyses search intent of keywords

5 – Prioritise Relevance and Search Volume

What is Keyword Relevance in SEO?

In the realm of SEO, relevance refers to how closely a keyword aligns with the content and purpose of a webpage.

It is essential to choose keywords that are highly relevant to the topic or theme of the page you want to optimise, and by incorporating relevant keywords naturally into your content, meta tags, headings, and other elements, you can signal to search engines that your page is valuable and pertinent to users’ search intents.

Relevance plays a crucial role in determining your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) and attracting targeted organic traffic to your website. Remember, search engines are obsessed with relevance, and they want their top results to be the most directly useful and relevant to the searcher – that’s why the top three Google results get 54.4% of all clicks!

What is Search Volume?

Search volume refers to the average number of times a particular keyword is searched for within a given timeframe, often measured monthly. It indicates the popularity or demand for a specific keyword or search term.

Search volume data provides insights into how many people are actively searching for a particular keyword, allowing SEO experts to gauge its potential traffic-driving capability. Keywords with higher search volumes generally have more competition, making it challenging to rank for them.

On the other hand, keywords with lower search volumes may have less competition but may also attract fewer visitors.

Keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, can help you explore search volume data for different keywords and make informed decisions when optimising your website.

However, take these figures with a pinch of salt – Google Keyword Planner overestimates search volume 54% of the time, and you’ll often find different tools giving you different results. No tool will ever be 100% accurate, as these are estimations!

Key things to remember when assessing search volume are:

  • Not all searches result in clicks (in fact, up to 2/3rds of Google Searches don’t!)
  • Higher search volume does not mean more traffic
  • Search volume results are based on annual averages and as such can’t be relied on too heavily for seasonal queries or rapid trends.

How Do These Factors Help My Keyword Selection?

Balancing search volume with relevance is crucial to find the sweet spot where you can target keywords that have a decent search volume and align well with your content.

Ideally, you want to balance the two factors. Look for keywords that are highly relevant to your content and align with your target audience’s intent.

At the same time, consider keywords with a reasonable search volume that indicate a decent demand for those terms. This balance will allow you to attract relevant traffic while maximising your potential visibility, capturing different segments of your target audience.

A screenshot showing the homepage of Google Trends

So, How Do I Find Out Relevance And Search Volume For SEO Keywords?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there in the ether that can help us with determining each of these factors…

  1. Keyword Research Tools: Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer are valuable resources to determine search volume and keyword relevance. These tools provide data on search volume, related keywords, and competition levels.
    • Search Volume: Enter your target keywords into the keyword research tool to retrieve search volume data. It will give you an estimate of how often those keywords are searched for within a specific timeframe, often monthly. Focus on keywords with a decent search volume to ensure they have enough potential to drive traffic.
    • Related Keywords: These tools also suggest related keywords that are semantically connected to your target keyword. Exploring related keywords can help you uncover additional keyword opportunities that may have significant search volume and relevance.
  2. Google Trends: Google Trends is a powerful tool that provides insights into the popularity and seasonality of keywords over time. It allows you to compare search volumes and interest trends for different keywords or topics. By analysing these trends, you can identify seasonal fluctuations, emerging topics, or declining interests related to your target keywords.
  3. SERP Analysis: Analysing the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your target keywords can provide valuable insights into keyword relevance. Examine the top-ranking pages and assess how well they align with the search intent behind the keyword. Look for similarities in content topics, formats, and types of websites that appear. This analysis will help you understand the relevance of your chosen keywords and guide your content creation and optimization efforts.

By leveraging these tools effectively, you can gather meaningful data on search volume, competition, and keyword relevance. This information will guide your keyword selection and optimisation strategies, enabling you to target keywords that have sufficient search volume, relevance to your business, and the potential to drive organic traffic to your website.

A photograph of a winner's podium in an athletics stadium

6 – Evaluate The Competition

What is Keyword Competition?

Keyword competition refers to the level of difficulty or challenge associated with ranking for a specific keyword in search engine results pages (SERPs). It assesses the strength and authority of competing websites targeting the same keyword and indicates the effort required to achieve a higher ranking.

Why Does Keyword Competition Matter?

Here is why it’s crucial to assess the competition level of keywords:

1 – Ranking Potential

Assessing keyword competitiveness helps you gauge your chances of ranking well in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Highly competitive keywords are often targeted by established websites with strong authority and extensive resources. Trying to rank for such competitive keywords as a new or smaller website can be challenging and time-consuming. By evaluating competitiveness, you can identify keywords that have a better ranking potential and are more realistic to target. 

2 – Resource Allocation

Keyword competitiveness analysis allows you to allocate your resources effectively, as creating content and optimising your website for keywords that are excessively competitive might require significant time, effort, and resources.

By identifying moderately competitive or long-tail keywords, you can optimise your website for terms that have a reasonable chance of ranking well while utilising your resources more efficiently. 

3 – Targeted Traffic

Assessing competition helps you focus on keywords that attract targeted traffic to your website. Highly competitive keywords may generate significant search volume, but they may also bring in a broader range of users who may not be specifically interested in your offerings.

By targeting less competitive keywords that are more relevant to your niche, you can attract visitors who are more likely to convert into customers or engage with your content. 

4 – Niche Opportunities

Analysing competition presents an opportunity to identify underserved niches or gaps in the market. By finding keywords with lower competition but still possessing decent search volume and relevance, you can capitalise on these opportunities and establish your authority within a specific niche.

This strategy allows you to build a dedicated audience and stand out from the competition.

A screenshot showing SpyFu Software

How Do I Determine The Competitiveness of a Keyword?

Determining the competitiveness of a keyword involves evaluating various factors to assess the level of competition for that particular keyword. While it can be challenging to get an exact measure of keyword competitiveness, here are some effective methods to help you determine it:

  1. Analyse the SERP: Start by conducting a manual search of the keyword on search engines like Google. Examine the search engine results page (SERP) to understand the type of content that ranks for the keyword. Look for high-ranking authority websites, industry-leading publications, and established competitors. If the top results are dominated by well-known and authoritative sites, it suggests higher competition for that keyword.
  2. Competition Analysis Tools: Leverage SEO tools and software that provide competition analysis metrics. Tools like SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, or SpyFu offer keyword difficulty or competition scores that indicate the level of competition for a specific keyword. These scores are based on factors such as the authority of competing domains, backlink profiles, and other SEO metrics. Higher difficulty scores imply more competitive keywords.
  3. Backlink Analysis: Backlinks are an essential aspect of SEO and can give insights into keyword competitiveness. Analyse the backlink profiles of top-ranking pages for the keyword you’re assessing. If they have a substantial number of high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites, it indicates a higher level of competition. Backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs or Majestic can assist in evaluating the strength and quantity of backlinks for specific pages.
  4. Content Quality and Relevance: Evaluate the quality and relevance of content that ranks highly for the keyword. If the top-ranking pages have comprehensive, well-optimised, and authoritative content, it signifies a higher level of competition. Assessing the quality and relevance of competing content can give you an idea of the effort required to compete in the SERPs.
  5. Social Media and Engagement: Consider the social media presence and engagement of competing websites for the keyword. Look for their social media following, and the number of shares, comments, and engagement on their content. Higher engagement levels often indicate a competitive environment where established brands or popular websites dominate the keyword.
  6. Your Website’s Authority: Evaluate the authority and strength of your own website. If you have a new or low-authority website, it may be challenging to compete for highly competitive keywords. Consider targeting less competitive or long-tail keywords that align with your content and have a better chance of ranking higher with your website’s current authority.

Remember, keyword competitiveness is not the sole determining factor. It should be considered alongside relevance, search volume, and your overall marketing goals. By striking a balance between competitive and less competitive keywords, you can optimise your website for improved rankings, and targeted traffic, and ultimately, drive the desired results for your business.

A graphic explaining how conversion rates improve as keywords get more specific

Graphic Credit – BackLinko

7 – Don’t Forget Long-Tail Keywords

What Makes Long-Tail Keywords So Important?

Strangely, long-tail keywords are often overlooked by marketers. Let’s look at why:

Firstly, many marketers and businesses tend to focus on broad, high-volume keywords because they believe that attracting a larger audience will lead to better results. However, this approach often leads to fierce competition and lower conversion rates.

There is also a misconception that long-tail keywords have low search volume and are not worth the effort. While it’s true that each long-tail keyword may have a lower individual search volume than a shorter counterpart, collectively they can make up a significant portion of organic search traffic. In fact, in a study conducted by BackLinko, 91.8% of all search queries are long-tail driven!

Moreover, long-tail keywords often have higher intent and are more likely to lead to conversions due to their specific nature.

Yes, long-tail keyword research requires more effort and time compared to targeting broad keywords and involves understanding your target audience deeply, analysing search trends, and leveraging keyword research tools effectively.

This level of dedication and investment can discourage some marketers from pursuing long-tail keywords. Unfortunately, when it comes to SEO, laziness just isn’t an option!

Overlooking long-tail keywords means missing out on valuable opportunities to attract highly targeted and qualified traffic.

Why Are Long-Tail Keywords Valuable?

ThinkWithGoogle has stated that “The long tail could provide an untapped opportunity to connect with potential customers. Invest in these areas and see volumes grow.” That’s a pretty clear indication of how Google see long-tail keywords, but why do they think they’re so powerful?

Long-tail keywords can be incredibly valuable for several reasons:

  1. Specificity: Long-tail keywords are more specific and detailed phrases that typically consist of three or more words. They provide a clearer indication of the searcher’s intent compared to broad keywords. By targeting long-tail keywords, you can better understand and meet the specific needs and preferences of your audience. This specificity leads to higher relevance, better user experience, and improved conversion rates.
  2. Lower Competition: Long-tail keywords generally have lower search volume and lower competition compared to broad keywords. This means that fewer websites or businesses are targeting these specific phrases, making it easier for your content to rank higher in search engine results. With less competition, you have a better chance of attracting organic traffic and reaching your target audience.
  3. Higher Conversion Potential: Long-tail keywords often reflect a higher level of purchase intent or specific user needs, with some studies showing up to 2.5X better performance than broad keywords. When users search with long-tail keywords, they are usually closer to the end of the sales funnel and more likely to convert. By optimising your content for these long-tail keywords, you can attract highly targeted traffic that is more likely to engage, convert, or make a purchase.
  4. Enhanced User Experience: When you align your content with long-tail keywords, you can provide users with more relevant and specific information. This improves the overall user experience, as visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for without having to sift through irrelevant or generic content. A positive user experience leads to increased engagement, longer time spent on your site, and higher chances of conversions or repeat visits.
  5. Voice Search and Natural Language Queries: With the rise of voice search and virtual assistants, people tend to use more conversational and longer search queries. Long-tail keywords often mirror these natural language patterns. By optimising your content for long-tail keywords, you can tap into the growing voice search trend and capture the attention of users who are asking questions or using voice commands to find information.
  6. Niche Targeting: Long-tail keywords allow you to target specific niches within your industry. By focusing on niche or highly specific long-tail keywords, you can reach a more targeted and relevant audience. This helps you establish authority and expertise within your niche, leading to higher engagement, increased brand loyalty, and a better chance of attracting quality leads or customers.

A screenshot of a Google Search showing long tailed keywords appearing in suggestions

How To Find The Best Long-Tail Keywords For SEO In 2023

It can feel overwhelming to try and whittle a seemingly infinite list of keywords into something useful to you and your business. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding long-tailed keywords for your research…

  1. Expand with Specific Keywords: Revisit your Seed Keywords and think of specific keywords or phrases that are related to them. These can be variations, specific features, or modifiers that add more context. For example, using the “workout clothing” topic, specific keywords could be “moisture-wicking workout shirts,” “compression leggings for running,” or “breathable sports bras.”
  2. Leverage Keyword Research Tools: Utilise keyword research tools to expand your list of long-tail keywords. Enter your broad topics and specific keywords into these tools to generate a broader list of long-tail keyword ideas.
  3. Analyse Competitor Keywords: Study your competitors’ websites and identify the long-tail keywords they are targeting. Look for keywords in their page titles, headings, and meta descriptions. This can provide you with additional ideas for long-tail keywords that are relevant to your industry and aligned with your competitors’ successful strategies.
  4. Utilise Search Suggestions: Take advantage of Google’s search suggestions and related searches. Start typing your broad topics or specific keywords into Google’s search bar and observe the suggested search queries that appear. These suggestions are based on popular searches and can help you discover long-tail keyword variations that people are actively using.
  5. Refine Your List: After you’ve compiled your initial list, evaluate the search volume, competition, and potential value of each long-tail keyword. Look for keywords with a decent search volume and relatively low competition.

Select a combination of long-tail keywords that strike a balance between relevance, search volume, and competition. Incorporate these keywords strategically into your website’s content, including page titles, headings, meta tags, and within the body of your pages. Ensure the usage feels natural and enhances the overall user experience.

Remember to blend both types of keywords to create a comprehensive content strategy. Use short-tail keywords for broader topics and to capture a wider audience, while incorporating long-tail keywords within the content to address specific queries and provide valuable information. This combination allows you to cover a range of user intents and cater to different stages of the buyer’s journey.

A photograph of a red warning sign which says

8 – Avoid Keyword Stuffing

What Is Keyword Stuffing In SEO?

Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of excessively and unnaturally repeating keywords or key phrases within a webpage’s content, meta tags, or other elements, with the intention of manipulating search engine rankings. The idea behind keyword stuffing is to make search engines believe that the webpage is highly relevant for those specific keywords and thus improve its visibility in search results.

In the early days of search engines, keyword stuffing was a common technique used by website owners to gain an advantage in search rankings. However, search engines have significantly evolved over time.

Search engines now employ complex algorithms that analyse numerous factors to determine the relevancy and quality of a webpage. These algorithms can easily detect keyword stuffing and identify it as an attempt to manipulate rankings rather than provide valuable information to users.

As a result, keyword stuffing is now considered a “black hat SEO technique”, and studies have shown Google responds best to a keyword density of around 0.5-0.7% (1 keyword every 200 or so words)

Why Shouldn’t I Use Keyword Stuffing To Improve SEO Results?

Keyword stuffing carries several risks and drawbacks that can negatively impact your website’s search engine rankings and user experience. Here are the key risks associated with keyword stuffing:

  1. Search engine penalties: Search engines, such as Google, actively discourage keyword stuffing and penalise websites that engage in this practice. It is a confirmed “negative ranking factor”. Penalties can range from lower rankings to complete removal from search results, severely impacting your website’s visibility and organic traffic.
  2. Poor user experience: Keyword stuffing often leads to unnatural, unreadable, and spammy content. When users encounter content that is stuffed with keywords, it diminishes their experience and may lead to frustration, increased bounce rates, and decreased engagement. This can result in a negative perception of your website and diminished credibility.
  3. Reduced relevance and quality: Keyword stuffing sacrifices the quality and relevance of your content. When your focus is solely on repeating keywords, it can detract from providing valuable and informative content to your audience. As a result, users may not find your content helpful, which can negatively affect your website’s reputation and authority.
  4. Decreased click-through rates: Keyword stuffing often leads to unappealing meta titles and descriptions, as well as unnatural content headlines. When users come across search results that look spammy or do not appear to address their search intent, they are less likely to click through to your website. This can result in lower click-through rates and missed opportunities to attract visitors.
  5. Competitive disadvantage: In today’s SEO landscape, where quality content and user experience are prioritised, keyword stuffing puts you at a disadvantage against competitors who focus on producing valuable content. Websites that adhere to modern SEO best practices will have an edge in search rankings and attract more organic traffic.

To achieve sustainable SEO success, it’s important to avoid keyword stuffing and instead focus on creating high-quality, user-oriented content that incorporates relevant keywords naturally and provides genuine value to your audience!

9 – Monitor and Refine

The “monitor and adapt” stage of keyword research is where the real work starts! This allows you to continuously evaluate and refine your keyword strategy based on real-time data and evolving trends.

Why Should I Monitor and Adapt my Keywords?

Continuous improvement and monitoring is at the heart of a successful SEO campaign – here are 5 reasons to take this stage seriously:

  1. Tracking performance: By monitoring the performance of your chosen keywords, you can assess their effectiveness in driving traffic, conversions, and overall website success. This involves analysing metrics such as search volume, click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates associated with specific keywords. Monitoring keyword performance helps you identify which keywords are generating positive results and which ones may need adjustment.
  2. Staying updated with market shifts: Markets, industries, and consumer behaviour evolve over time. New trends, technologies, or changes in user preferences can impact the popularity and relevance of certain keywords. By monitoring and adapting your keyword strategy, you can stay up-to-date with these shifts and ensure that your website remains aligned with the current market landscape.
  3. Responding to competition: Your competitors may also be actively optimising their keyword strategies. By monitoring their keyword usage and performance, you can identify new opportunities, uncover competitive advantages, and adjust your approach accordingly. This allows you to stay ahead or keep pace with competitors and maintain or improve your search rankings.
  4. Identifying emerging keywords: Keyword research is an ongoing process that involves discovering new keywords and identifying emerging search trends. By monitoring search queries, user behaviour, and industry developments, you can uncover emerging keywords that present opportunities for targeting a niche or expanding your reach. Adapting your keyword strategy to incorporate these emerging keywords can give you a competitive edge and attract new audiences.
  5. Refining and optimising your content: Through monitoring and adaptation, you can gather valuable insights about your audience’s search intent and preferences. This information enables you to refine your content to better align with user expectations and improve its relevance. By incorporating new keywords or adjusting existing ones, you can optimize your content for improved search visibility, engagement, and conversions.

Without processes in place to continually evolve your SEO efforts, you risk letting otherwise great content become outdated and lessen the impact and performance of your SEO campaign.

So, How Do I Monitor And Refine My Keywords For The Best Performance?

The monitoring and continuous improvement stage is often overwhelming to business owners who don’t know where to start, or how much time/energy they should invest here.

Luckily, like most SEO related tasks, there are some fantastic tools out there to help you do this in an efficient manner!

Here’s some key insight on how you can get started…

1 – Monitor Keyword Performance

Once you have implemented your target keywords on your website, it’s important to monitor their performance using website analytics tools like Google Analytics. Keep an eye on key metrics such as organic search traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates associated with specific keywords. This data will provide insights into how well your keywords are driving traffic and engagement on your website.

Pay attention to any significant changes or trends in keyword performance. Identify keywords that are performing exceptionally well and driving positive results, as well as keywords that may not be delivering the desired outcomes. This information will help you make informed decisions about your keyword strategy.

2 – Adapt & Refine

Based on the insights gathered from monitoring keyword performance, it’s time to adapt and refine your keyword strategy. Here are a few actions you can take:

  • Adjust keyword targeting: If certain keywords are consistently underperforming or not generating the desired results, consider refining your keyword targeting. Look for alternative keywords that better align with user intent or have higher potential for driving relevant traffic.
  • Optimise existing content: Analyse the performance of individual pages or articles targeting specific keywords. If a page is not ranking well or receiving much traffic, consider optimising its content by improving keyword usage, enhancing the page’s relevance, and ensuring it provides valuable information to users.
  • Create new content: Identify gaps in your existing content where relevant keywords are not adequately addressed. Develop new content pieces or articles that specifically target these keywords. This will help expand your website’s visibility and capture additional organic traffic.
  • Identify emerging keywords: Stay updated with industry trends, changes in user behaviour, and emerging search queries. Use keyword research tools to identify new keywords or topics that are gaining popularity. By incorporating these emerging keywords into your strategy, you can tap into evolving search trends and attract new audiences.

3 – Repeat the Process

Monitoring and refining keywords should be an ongoing and iterative process. Keyword performance and search trends can change over time, so it’s essential to regularly revisit your keyword strategy. Continuously monitor keyword performance, track changes in user behaviour, and adapt your strategy accordingly.

The frequency of monitoring and refining your keywords can vary depending on factors such as the size of your website, the competitiveness of your industry, and the resources available to you. While there is no strict rule, here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Initial monitoring: When you first implement your target keywords and optimise your website, it’s a good practice to closely monitor their performance in the early stages. This initial monitoring period can range from a few weeks to a couple of months, allowing you to gather sufficient data to evaluate keyword performance.
  2. Ongoing monitoring: Once you have established a baseline understanding of how your keywords are performing, you can shift to a regular monitoring schedule. This can range from monthly to quarterly check-ins to assess keyword performance and identify any significant changes or trends.
  3. Industry and market shifts: Keep an eye on your industry and market trends. If there are rapid shifts, emerging topics, or changes in user behaviour, it may be necessary to increase the frequency of your keyword monitoring. This will help you stay responsive to the evolving landscape and capture new opportunities.
  4. Seasonal or campaign-specific monitoring: If you run seasonal campaigns or have specific marketing initiatives, it’s advisable to monitor and refine your keywords more frequently during those periods. This allows you to optimise your keyword strategy to align with campaign goals and capitalise on seasonal trends.

Remember that keyword monitoring and refinement are ongoing tasks. While there is no fixed interval that suits every situation, aim to strike a balance between frequent enough monitoring to capture changes and infrequent enough monitoring to allow sufficient time for meaningful data collection.

Ultimately, it’s important to find a monitoring frequency that aligns with your resources and the dynamics of your industry.

A photograph of five people around a desk using laptops and discussing work

10 – Know There’s SEO Support Out There

The world of SEO can seem incredible over-facing to those without much experience in the field. Through our work, we’ve met a wide variety of small business owners and discovered that there are some common pain-points often shared between them all…

Challenges Small Business Owners Face with SEO

  1. Complexity and technical nature: SEO involves a wide range of technical aspects, including website optimization, keyword research, content creation, link building, and performance monitoring. For small business owners who are not familiar with these intricacies, the technical nature of SEO can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate.
  2. Constant changes and updates: SEO is a dynamic field that continuously evolves. Search engine algorithms, ranking factors, and best practices are constantly changing. Keeping up with these updates and staying current with the latest trends can be time-consuming and overwhelming for small business owners who already have numerous responsibilities to handle.
  3. Lack of knowledge and expertise: SEO requires a solid understanding of search engine optimization principles, keyword targeting, content optimization, and other strategies. Small business owners may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to effectively implement SEO techniques. Without proper guidance, they may feel overwhelmed by the learning curve and unsure about the best practices to follow.
  4. Time constraints: Small business owners often have limited time available to dedicate to SEO. Running a business involves managing various tasks, including operations, customer service, financial management, and marketing. Allocating time for learning and implementing SEO strategies may not be feasible, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to start.
  5. Competitive landscape: Many industries have fierce competition, and ranking well in search results can be challenging. Small business owners may feel overwhelmed by the competitive landscape, especially if they lack the resources and expertise to effectively compete with established players or larger companies.
  6. Ever-increasing online presence demands: In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for small businesses. However, the demands of managing a website, social media accounts, online reviews, and other digital marketing efforts can be overwhelming. SEO is just one aspect of this broader online presence, adding to the overall complexity and overwhelm.

Given these challenges, small business owners may find it overwhelming to tackle SEO on their own. Engaging an SEO professional or agency can alleviate the burden, provide guidance, and help small business owners navigate the complexities of SEO, allowing them to focus on their core business operations.

How Can Hiring an SEO Partner Help Me?

Hiring an SEO partner, whether it’s a freelancer or agency, can provide you with time-saving and cost-efficient benefits. Here’s a closer look at those advantages:

  1. Time-saving: SEO requires consistent effort and ongoing optimization. By hiring an SEO partner, small business owners can delegate the time-consuming tasks of keyword research, content creation, technical optimisations, and performance monitoring. This allows them to focus on running their business and attending to other important responsibilities, while the SEO partner handles the intricacies of optimising the website for search engines.
  2. Expertise and efficiency: SEO partners bring expertise and specialised knowledge to the table. They understand the complexities of search engine algorithms, best practices, and the ever-evolving SEO landscape. With their experience, they can efficiently implement strategies that yield results, saving time that would otherwise be spent on trial-and-error or learning SEO from scratch.
  3. Cost efficiency: While hiring an SEO partner involves an investment, it can be a cost-effective approach in the long run. Building an in-house SEO team or dedicating internal resources to SEO can be more expensive, requiring hiring and training expenses, software costs, and ongoing management. In contrast, outsourcing SEO to a freelancer or agency provides access to a team of professionals at a fraction of the cost, without the overhead expenses associated with maintaining an internal team.
  4. Scalability and flexibility: Small businesses often have fluctuating needs based on seasonal demands or business growth. SEO freelancers and agencies offer flexibility, allowing small business owners to scale their SEO efforts up or down as needed. Whether it’s adjusting the level of service, increasing keyword targeting, or expanding the scope of SEO activities, an SEO partner can adapt to meet the evolving needs of the business.
  5. Access to tools and resources: SEO partners typically have access to a wide range of SEO tools and resources that can be costly for small businesses to invest in independently. These tools aid in keyword research, competitor analysis, website auditing, performance tracking, and more. By hiring an SEO partner, small business owners can leverage these tools without additional expenses.

By relying on the expertise and resources of an SEO partner, you can focus on your core operations while ensuring their online presence is effectively optimised for search engines.

So, How Do I Find An SEO Partner?

Finding a reputable SEO partner for a small business requires careful consideration and research. Here are some steps to help a small business owner in the process:

  1. Define your SEO goals: Before searching for an SEO partner, clearly identify your SEO goals and what you aim to achieve. Determine whether you need help with website optimization, content creation, link building, or a comprehensive SEO strategy. Having a clear understanding of your objectives will guide you in finding a suitable partner.
  2. Seek recommendations and referrals: Reach out to fellow small business owners, industry peers, or professionals in your network who have experience with SEO. Ask for recommendations and referrals to reputable SEO partners they have worked with. Hearing about their firsthand experiences can help you make more informed decisions.
  3. Research and evaluate potential partners: Conduct online research to find SEO freelancers or agencies that align with your business requirements. Visit their websites, review their portfolios, and assess their experience, expertise, and client testimonials. Look for partners who specialise in working with small businesses or have a proven track record in your industry.
  4. Request case studies and references: Request case studies or examples of their previous work to assess the quality of their SEO efforts and results. Additionally, ask for references or client testimonials to gain insights into their professionalism, communication, and ability to deliver on their promises.
  5. Schedule consultations: Narrow down your list of potential SEO partners and schedule consultations with them. During these consultations, discuss your business goals, challenges, and expectations. Pay attention to their communication style, responsiveness, and the strategies they propose. A reputable SEO partner will listen to your needs, provide customised solutions, and offer transparency in their approach.
  6. Consider the service offerings: Evaluate the expertise and services offered by each SEO partner. Consider factors such as keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, content creation, technical SEO, and reporting. Choose a partner who can provide a comprehensive range of services aligned with your specific needs (some will be web designers and graphic designers too, giving you access to wider marketing services and support!)
  7. Discuss pricing and contracts: Understand the pricing structure and payment terms of potential SEO partners. Discuss whether they charge fixed fees, hourly rates, or operate on a retainer basis. Ensure that the costs fit within your budget and that the contract terms are fair and reasonable.
  8. Assess ongoing communication and reporting: Effective communication and regular reporting are crucial for a successful SEO partnership. Inquire about the frequency and format of progress reports, as well as the channels of communication they utilise. A reputable SEO partner will keep you informed, provide transparent reporting, and be accessible for any questions or concerns.
  9. Trust your instincts: Finally, trust your instincts and choose an SEO partner with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Building a strong working relationship is essential for long-term success.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can find a reputable SEO partner who can help improve their online visibility, attract organic traffic, and achieve their SEO goals.

So, To Conclude…

We hope you can now find the world of keywords and keyword research a little clearer now! Successful keyword selection and research empowers you to understand your target audience, optimise your website content, and drive relevant organic traffic.

Taking the time to conduct thorough keyword research is essential for identifying valuable keywords that align with your business goals. This will form the bedrock of future SEO efforts and, if rushed, you risk wasting precious time and resources in the long-run.

If you think you’ll find the process daunting or time-consuming, and want to explore partnering with an experienced SEO agency can provide valuable expertise and support, we can help.

Our dedicated team is ready to help you develop and implement a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored bespoke to your business needs.

Get in touch with us today and let us help you grow.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

Exploring the Messy Middle

Pick up a business book or listen to a lecture on “the funnel” and you might walk away thinking that the buying journey follows a somewhat linear structure, moving nicely from one stage to the other in an orderly fashion.

Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase.

It’s a nice, structured, and predictable sequence.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really reflect how people navigate the digital world. 

Yes, people do move through phases, but the way in which they do so is becoming increasingly, well, messy. 

That’s why we’re talking about ‘The Messy Middle” – a great piece of research from Google that can help us further understand consumer behaviour.

In this blog post, we’ll break down what the messy middle is, how you can use elements of behavioural science to succeed in that space, and how we can help you do so.

What Is The Messy Middle?

In Google’s own words, the messy middle explores the “complex space between triggers and purchase, where customers are won and lost.”

Let’s break this down a little.

A graphic showing the relationship between the messy middle and google search interest

Graphic credit: Search Engine Journal

A trigger refers to the prompt that moves a consumer from a passive state to an active one. This usually takes the form of a problem that requires solving, and an online search (or many online searches) is used to investigate the most appropriate solutions.

Hopefully, this is where the consumer would gain awareness of your brand as you appear in their searches.

In the traditional concept of the funnel, the consumer would politely work their way through linear stages, starting with this initial awareness.

They would then move into consideration, where they weigh up a decision to purchase and familiarise themselves with your offering and brand to see if you could adequately resolve their problem.

Next, of course, is action – A.K.A. purchase.

However, research conducted when investigating the messy middle uncovered that users go into long and complex cycles of exploration and evaluation of the many options that could be considered potential problem solvers.

A woman purchasing with contactless card in a shop

These two mental modes comprise the messy middle: exploration mode is an “expansive activity” where consumers are looking for more options and more information, and evaluation mode is a “reductive activity” where the consumer drops options that are deemed unsuitable and narrow their choices down.

These two modes encompass any consumer action across a vast number of online modalities, such as search engines, social media platforms, review sites, brand websites, comparison sites, aggregators, and more.

This cycle of expansion and reduction is repeated over and over again as the consumer is influenced by different information until they eventually make, or choose not to make, a purchase decision.

Take a look at this graphic from Think With Google.  

A graphic depicting the messy middle

How Can Businesses Win In The Messy Middle?

Google conducted an experiment to prove that there are tools at your disposal to succeed in the messy middle.

The experiment monitored over 300,000 simulated purchase scenarios across a number of different sectors. 

Shoppers had to select their top two favourite brands from within a category. After this was done, a range of biases, which we’ll explore shortly, were applied to see if they could be encouraged to switch from one brand to the other.

They even included completely fictional brands to see if they could convince shoppers to switch to a brand they had zero exposure to.

Take a look at this graphic from Think With Google.

A graphic showing 6 biases that influence purchase decisions

For this experiment, Google used 6 biases that can influence the purchasing decision:

  1. Category Heuristics: These are digestible, short descriptions that list out key product/service information to simplify the purchase decision.
  2. Power of Now: Ensuring that delivery of product/service was as swift as possible, noting that the “longer you have to wait for a product, the weaker the proposition becomes.”
  3. Social Proof: Utilisation of online reviews and testimonials in strategically positioned locations.
  4. Scarcity Bias: Adding to the desirability of a product or service through indicators that communicate to the consumer that stock/availability is decreasing.
  5. Authority Bias: Utilising industry experts or trusted and authoritative sources to back a brand’s product or service offering.
  6. Power of Free: Offering some sort of complimentary gift with a purchase, even if the gift is not directly related to the purchase itself.

The results are quite dramatic…

The “least effective challenger” – a fictional cereal brand, managed to win over nearly 30% of shoppers from their already established favourite brand when it was boosted by some of the biases mentioned above, namely the inclusion of five-star reviews and an offer to receive 20% extra cereal for free with your order.

The most extreme result revealed a completely fictional car insurer won nearly 90% of consumers when it utilised all six cognitive biases!

Google also revealed some key insights into how brands of all shapes and sizes, from established giants to brand-new challengers, can optimise their presence in the messy middle.

A key point to remember is that, from the perspective of the consumer, the messy middle isn’t messy at all, it is just how they like to shop. 

You should not concern yourself with trying to artificially force consumers to exit the loop, but instead focus on providing the information needed for them to come to their decision.

Here are Google’s top tips for brands navigating the messy middle:

  1. Ensure brand presence so you are thought of and discoverable during the exploration phase.
  2. Utilise behavioural science principles, such as the 6 cognitive biases discussed above, to make your offering seem as attractive and compelling as possible during the evaluation stage.
  3. Ensure that the gap between trigger and purchase is as small as possible (make purchasing EASY) so that you minimise the chances your customer will be exposed to a competitor.
  4. Build teams that can work and communicate effectively across functions to ensure you do not fall into creating branding silos that leave gaps in the messy middle.

A photograph of an iPhone showing a google search bar

How Do I Implement These Tips?

Let’s dig a little deeper into some of these points and reveal how we can help you succeed in the messy middle…

Brand Presence

Ensuring your brand is present during the exploration phase is something we can help with. We can work with you to optimise your website for search engines, giving you the best chance of appearing for highly relevant search queries.

This means you are present when consumers are looking for solutions to their problems, and your website has a much greater chance of getting organic qualified traffic.

This could mean we optimise your existing website, design and develop a new one from scratch or work with you on your ongoing SEO content and maintenance needs to keep your site in tip-top shape.

We can also use our graphic design services to help create a consistent, impactful visual identity across your website, social media profiles, and digital presence.

Utilising Behavioural Science Principles

If you sell online, we can help you develop a fully optimised online shopping experience for your customers that take advantage of cognitive bias implementation.

We can introduce these elements sitewide, create conversion-optimised copy, and ensure that your product pages are giving you the best chance of winning on the battleground that is the messy middle.

Even if you do not sell online directly, we can help, as all of these principles still apply and can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rate.

That means more qualified leads for you to work with! 

In regards to online reviews and testimonials, we can help fully optimise your Google business profile and work with you to create strategies that encourage your clients/customers to positively review your business, as well as introduce design elements on-site to promote client testimonials and reviews.

A photograph of a woman using a laptop in front of a blurred out computer screen

Closing The Gap

We want to help make the buying experience as intuitive and easy as possible for your customers.

When designing a new site or optimising an existing one, we look to establish and promote UX design principles to ensure just that, as well as ensuring that your landing pages are optimised toward conversions.

We can work with you to remove any barriers to purchase or lead generation and use the experience and technical knowledge of our e-commerce team to ensure that site visitors are pushed toward conversion in a strategic and effective manner.

What Next?

If you’re interested in reading more about the messy middle, you can access the entire 100-page report here.

If you’re looking for further advice or you want to optimise your digital presence to boost your chances of success in the messy middle, get in touch with us today for an obligation-free chat.

An image of a man using a screenreader whilst on their computer.

5 Ways To Easily Improve Website Accessibility

What is Website Accessibility?

Website Accessibility refers to making sure that websites are designed in such a way that enables people with disabilities to successfully use them. 

According to the Web Accessibility Initiative, this means ensuring people can not only understand and interact with websites, but also contribute to the Web as a whole, regardless of any auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical or visual impairments.

The most referenced set of accessibility standards, used by the likes of The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BOIA), are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, known as POUR.

Let’s take a quick look at these…

P – Perceivable

This means that information and any actual user interface/interactive elements should be perceivable despite a disabled user visiting the site. In the words of the BOIA, “Information cannot be invisible to their senses.”

For example, ensuring that all images have alt-text so visually impaired visitors can still interact with the webpage. 

An image of a man using a screenreader whilst on their computer.

O – Operable

This one is pretty self-explanatory – the website and its functions must actually work, and functionality cannot require the user to interact with the site in a manner prevented by their disability.

For example, designing a clear and easily usable navigation and site structure.

U – Understandable

The information presented on a website, and the navigation/user interface as a whole, must be able to be understood by the user. This is a basic component of building a successful user experience, and should be an absolute priority. 

For example, ensuring that on-page text is readable and clear.

R – Robust. 

How can a website be described as robust? This refers to ensuring that a website is built to be compatible with assistive technologies, and that investment is made in the website on an ongoing basis to maintain compatibility with emerging assistive technologies.

An image of a laptop with a screen reader device.

Why Does Website Accessibility Matter?

Whilst web accessibility might seem like a niche issue, this could not be further from the truth. Research suggests that over 70% of users with access needs will leave a website if they find it difficult to use, and 92% of us are more likely to support a business that is accessible.

There are three main reasons why web accessibility matters…

1 – The Social Impact of Web Accessibility

Over 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. That’s 1 in 6 of us! 

Think of how many times you use the internet or a web-based service in your daily life. The average person uses the internet for a whopping 415 minutes (over 6 hours) a day!

Whether it’s for shopping, booking appointments, consuming entertainment, speaking to family and friends, or keeping up with the news, we’re reliant on frictionless access to the internet.

The ability to access the web and successfully interact with services allows those living with a disability to participate in a society that is becoming increasingly digital.

By ensuring your website is as accessible as possible, you are removing barriers and enabling disabled visitors to go about their day without unnecessary resistance.

2 – Legally Protecting Your Business For Accessibility

To further emphasise the importance of access to the internet, did you know that many countries have protected web accessibility under the law, such as the EU’s ‘European Accessiblity Act’ and the US’ ADA laws

Brands ignoring accessibility run the risk of being accused of discriminating against disabled individuals, and can find themselves in legal trouble. Even Beyonce has fallen short of this, and was sued for breaking ADA laws in 2019.

3 – Financial Incentives for Accessibility

Finally, there’s the financial incentive for accessibility. In the UK alone, online retailers lose over £11 Billion due to poor accessibility on their websites. 

By ensuring your website is accessible, you are allowing your site to be functional to millions of potential customers who otherwise would not be able to shop with you.

So, not only is there a moral imperative to make your website accessible, you are giving your business an opportunity to engage with a huge portion of the market.

That’s a win-win!

A photograph of a man with Down's syndrome smiling with his father

So, How Do I Check My Site’s Accessibility?

Thankfully, it’s easy to check how accessible your website is.

There are a couple of options here, but we think the easiest way to get insight into your website is to use a tool like WAVE.

This is a free evaluation tool that produces an actionable report for your webpage. You can use their website, or download the chrome extension to make it even easier to assess accessibility.

For more information on WAVE, watch this video for a real-world tutorial on how you can use it to review your website:

How Can I Easily Improve Website Accessibility?

Now we’ve established just how important web accessibility is, it’s a good job that plenty of accessibility improvements are incredibly easy to implement.

Covering site structure, development, and design – here are some easy fixes you can make to ensure your website works for those with disabilities…

1 – Alt Tags for Images

One of the easiest ways to make a positive impact on your site accessibility is to ensure you are inputting alt-tags to your images.

Alt-tags are sometimes also called alt-descriptions, and they perform a very important role in helping visually impaired visitors successfully navigate your site. 

Without alt-tags in place, a screen reader may read out an ugly and confusing file name or, worse still, skip the image entirely. This risks hiding incredibly important information from site users.

So, when you’re adding images to your site remember to add alt-text – here is a step-by-step guide to help you on your way.

An infographic showing how accessibility differs between images without alt-text and with alt-text.

2 – Font Selection & Sizes

Font size is of great importance to those visiting your site with visual impairments. 

Fonts that are too small risk being illegible to those with disabilities, so make sure your default font size is of reasonable scale.

In addition, make sure you select a font that is clearly legible and avoid stylistically complicated fonts. Whilst they may look like cool designs, they often come at the expense of clarity.

3 – Colour Contrast

Poor colour contrasts are repeat offenders in the world of accessibility.

If your site features/sections/content have poorly considered colour palettes and weak contrasts, you risk providing a terrible experience for disabled visitors.

There are plenty of free colour contrast checkers available, like this one from WebAIM or this one which is also a useful plugin. Sites with good contrast scores help visually impaired visitors navigate through your content and distinguish between various site elements.

4 – Make Videos Accessible

Sites that are heavily reliant on video-based media are often very problematic for disabled visitors to engage with.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make videos accessible. You can use sites like Rev to easily create accurate transcripts and captions.

Putting in the effort to provide captions can boost marketing efforts across the board, with nearly 70% of marketers finding that captioned videos outperformed their uncaptioned counterparts. 

It’s also worth asking if you need videos at all. Can text be used just as effectively? Understanding that a video-heavy site may leave 1/6th of your potential audience in the dark could mean reconsidering how much site media you want to rely on instead of text.

A photograph showing a woman sat in a chair facing a video camera in preparation for a content shoot.

5 – Maintain Title Hierarchy 

When writing your blog and page content, make sure you’re sticking to the heading hierarchy using <h> tags from <h1> (biggest) to <h6> (smallest).

This helps users visit your site with the assistance of screen readers, and is actually the best practice for SEO too!

So, you should use <h1> for your main blog or page title, <h2> for any headings that follow on from this on the same page, <h3> for subheadings, and follow suit up to <h6> for mini headlines!

Can Wilkes Wood Help Make My Site Accessible?

Yes, we can!

We can work with you to turn your site into a more accessible, inclusive version. After running an evaluative audit, we can then help you work through visual and technical changes to improve the accessibility of your online presence.

For more information on this, and to book a free discovery call, please get in touch today!

An image of a man pointing a finger at a laptop screen whilst another person uses the touchpad.

Website Maintenance - Why It Matters And What You Can Do

What Is Website Maintenance?

Contrary to popular belief, a website is never “done”. 

Sure, there are very set stages in a website build process, resulting in the delivery of a “final” product, but that’s only the start of the journey.

Once a website has been launched, it requires frequent maintenance in order to get the most out of your investment – without this, you’re likely leaving some significant results on the table and potentially allowing your website to become something that damages your brand instead of benefiting it.

An image of various tools used for DIY

A common metaphor for website maintenance is that of a vehicle’s MOT. 

Pretend you’ve gone and purchased the fanciest, most expensive, top-of-the-range car off the forecourt. It looks, drives, and sounds amazing.

Then, for the next few years, ignore any warning lights, services, oil changes, or tyre changes and never get it cleaned.

Chances are you’re going to have some faulty features and, at worst, something that’s potentially now dangerous.

It’s the same for your website.

Why Does Website Maintenance Matter?

There are a number of reasons why website maintenance matters, but none of them are more important than this: if you invest in a website, you want a return on this investment in some way, shape, or form.

A picture of an engine in a car

If that’s an e-commerce website, then you want sales. If you’re chasing lead generation, it might be phone calls or form submissions. 

To put it simply: your website is there to serve a purpose. 

Regular maintenance ensures that you’re getting the most out of your investment, avoiding potential downtime (which costs you money) and making sure your content is fresh, up-to-date and doing its job.

Let’s take a look at what this means for a few key areas…


I’ve grouped SEO and UX as there are many similarities between the two disciplines, and what matters to search engines is increasingly what matters to people too. 

Regular maintenance ensures that your site is responding to changes in algorithms, which can be pretty vital to the organic reach of your website

By keeping up to date with industry developments, you can ensure that you are not only maintaining previous progress but retrospectively bringing your entire site and content up to speed at regular intervals.

Your website is there to provide value to site visitors. It can’t do this if they’re not visiting, and they won’t visit if you’re not being shown to them on search engine results pages.

When they’re actually on your site, you want to leave a positive impression – that’s why keeping on top of your page speed, fixing broken links and page elements, ensuring your site is fully responsive and making sure content is up to date are all vital to long term success.

A man on a laptop using Google Search


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you probably do. People are picky – so picky, in fact, that the average person takes just 0.05 seconds to form an initial impression of your website.

If your content is riddled with spelling mistakes, images that won’t load, slow pages and out-of-date blogs, people will judge your website negatively and by extension consider your business to be amateur.

Regular maintenance ensures that you are giving yourself the best chance of generating a favorable response and engaging your audience to consider your brand authoritative and trustworthy!

Site Security

Finally, we have site security. Keeping your website secure is of paramount importance, and it’s often something that business owners overlook, sometimes to their peril!

Keeping admin permissions up-to-date, changing passwords, updating plugins, SSL certificates, hosting and regularly backing up your website can all contribute to securing your site and protecting your content.

How Do I Maintain A Website?

Good site maintenance is performed regularly, with different tasks requiring attention at different intervals. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, here’s some tasks split into weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly maintenance to get you started!

Weekly Maintenance Checklist

  • Check your web pages for obvious errors in loading or content.
  • Ensure your site is backed up and that previous versions of your site have backed up successfully.
  • Check for broken external and internal links.
  • Check for errors or redirects.
  • Check that your contact/submission forms are functioning properly.
  • Post keyword driven content to your blog.
  • Reply to blog comments and clear spammy entries.
  • Check Social Media feeds work & sharing functions are operating correctly.

Monthly Maintenance Checklist

  • Conduct a site speed test and ensure you follow any recommended actions.
  • Review your website analytics and identify any opportunities for optimisation.
  • Review SEO audits and follow recommended actions.
  • Review security scans & update plugins.
  • Test site across different browsers.

An image of a man pointing a finger at a laptop screen whilst another person uses the touchpad.

Quarterly Maintenance Checklist

  • Conduct a full SEO review and analyse organic traffic compared to last quarter.
  • Conduct a full site performance audit, analysing performance compared to last quarter and tracking your progress towards key objectives.
  • Check all graphics and images are loading, optimised and accurate.
  • Test your site across all devices to ensure responsiveness.
  • Optimise your forms, buttons and calls to action.
  • Review admin accounts, alter/remove permissions and update passwords if necessary.
  • Check for any algorithm updates/industry news that could affect your performance.

Yearly Maintenance Checklist

  • Renew your domain and SSL certificates.
  • Compare hosting packages and renew, update or change hosting provider.
  • Conduct a full website audit and consider major updates or redesign.
  • Update statistics, links, copyright symbols, and anything related to the current year (such as your footer copyright claim).
  • Conduct a full and comprehensive audit of your copy to ensure it is still reflective of your business practice, prices, and update your portfolio, testimonials, etc.
  • Review your blog – identify your top performing content and see if it can be further optimised.
  • Remove outdated content or features that no longer serve your site.

Can We Help You Maintain Your Website?


To continue my metaphor of maintaining a vehicle…

Sometimes you might want to invest time and effort into fixing your car yourself.

Other times, you might think it’s more appropriate to leave it to the experts and book it into the garage.

We can help maintain your website, regardless of whether we built it or not. 

We have a variety of support packages available, as well as SEO packages for content production too.

Get in touch with us today for an obligation-free chat and we’ll see where we can add value and help you get the most out of your website!

A Card Purchase for Coffee Using a Card Reader

Customer Retention - What It Is, How To Track It, And Why It Matters!

Why Does Customer Retention Matter?

If you’re looking to grow your business, improve your profit margin, have greater success with introducing new products and services and, generally, want to build a following of loyal customers, then you need to start paying attention to retention.

Regardless of your industry, repeat custom should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about the future of your business, its objectives and strategy. 

Of course, for your business to achieve real growth you must balance a steady stream of new buyers with repeat customers, but we’ve found that so many small business owners aren’t aware just how important retention is to their success…

Here’s why…

A Card Purchase for Coffee Using a Card Reader

Repeat Custom Is Great For Your Bottom Line

We’ll start with the most fundamentally important reason: if you ignore your existing customers, your bottom line will suffer.

It costs you 5% more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, and a mere 5% increase in retention can boost profitability by anywhere between 25-95%

So, it’s not only cheaper to retain customers (a statement over 80% of companies are in agreement with) but retained customers can, with the right approach, have a tremendous positive impact on your profit margin.

It’s also much, much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to convince new customers to shop with you.

That’s because you’ve already done the hard work – they’re familiar with your product/service offering and know what to expect. 

In fact, whilst the probability of selling to a new customer is around a 5-20% chance, the probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70%!

Those are numbers you can’t ignore.

How Can I Help Boost Repeat Customers?

There are many ways that small businesses can build repeat custom. Here are three important ways that you, as a small business owner, can look to retain existing customers and turn them into loyal purchasers of your products/services.

Think Long Term

We’ve found that the first thing a business owner can do is recognise the value of long-lasting customer relationships. 

It’s incredibly easy to get obsessively focused on boosting new sales and focusing on metrics to do with widening your customer base. 

Of course, this is still incredibly important for solid growth, but not at the expense of existing customers. 

It can be hard to see why this matters so much, but the data doesn’t lie. The average repeat customer spends nearly 70% more with your business 2.5 years into your relationship than they do in the first 6 months.

Rather than focusing on immediate results, you should consider the lifetime value of your customers and see them as long term assets as opposed to short term profit makers. 

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is an incredibly important metric that allows you to identify exactly that. 

Take a look at the below infographic and equation to see how it is measured:

An infographic showing how to measure customer lifetime value

Source: Netsuite

CLV = Average Transaction Size x Number of Transactions x Retention Period

Whilst there may be significant nuances and caveats to this figure, it will hopefully help you think of customers on a more long-term basis.

Comparing your cost of acquisition to your CLV not only enables you to see how profitable a customer is over time, but it’s also a fundamentally important way of seeing if your business is sustainable, viable and geared towards long-term growth.

That’s why a 10% increase in customer retention equates to a 30 percent increase in the value of a company!

So, if you’re not tracking these metrics, it might be time to invest in a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) or other system that allows you to easily determine the metrics needed.

Provide The Best Customer Experience

So, now you’re aware of just how important retention is, you probably want to know a bit more about how you can achieve it…

Providing a fantastic customer experience is at the heart of any customer retention strategy – a statement nearly 90% of businesses agree with.  That’s because satisfied customers are 87% more likely to purchase upgrades to their current purchase or invest in new services.

So how do you keep them satisfied?

Providing a good buying experience means considering all the touchpoints a customer might have with you during their journey. Everything from that initial phone call or email right through to delivery contributes to their overall satisfaction, and one blip along the way can ruin all of your previous hard work.

According to a recent study, nearly 50% of customers would take their business to a competitor within one day of receiving poor customer service. There’s not a lot of margin for error!

The truth is, it’s hard to impress people. You won’t do it by accident! Nearly 70% of customers agree that their standards are higher than ever – whilst this might seem like bad news, we see it as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

To truly master this, you will need to map out every touchpoint and identify what is important to focus on at each stage.

A group of people planning UX for a website

For example, here’s a few points a service based business might make regarding early stages of acquisition:

A lot of customer experience boils down to a few key elements:

  1. Swift, warm and accurate communication.
  2. Keeping to promises.
  3. A product/service that matches expectations.
  4. Being available when they need to speak to you how they want to speak to you.
  5. Be obsessed with the customer – actively enquire about their experience, monitor data and constantly improve your service.

That last point may seem obvious, but 97% of customers say salespeople don’t ask enough about their needs. If you’re not talking to your customers, how on earth are you going to know what they’re after?

Many first impressions stem from your digital presence – whether that’s social media or your business’ website. We designed our website design service specifically with this in mind, so that you can be sure that no matter how your customers are finding you, they’re provided with a seamless, intuitive experience.

Invest In Marketing & Give Rewards

80 percent of businesses rely on some form of email marketing for customer retention & 56 percent of businesses see email marketing as the most effective method of reaching customer retention goals.

Social media is a close second, with frequent touchpoints and a focus on engaging customers through posts, comments and interactions seeing fantastic results; nearly 40% of retail professionals state that organic search drives customer retention too.

And that’s without mentioning mobile messaging, retargeting ads, apps, and PPC

There are countless ways that small businesses can boost their retention, but they all require one thing: investment.

Failure to invest money and resources into retention strategies may be a very costly mistake, and if you’re not currently doing so you may be leaving a lot of money on the table.

There are plenty of ways to cultivate retention with a lower budget, so there’s no excuse! Social media can be invested in with nothing more than time; email marketing has one of the best ROIs of any channel (an average return of $36 for every $1 spent); and SEO content strategies can provide value long after your initial investment!

Another way businesses can foster customer loyalty is, no surprises here…Loyalty plans!

A woman purchasing with contactless card in a shop

58% of customers that use a loyalty program purchase from that brand at least once a month, and 83% of customers say joining a loyalty or reward program will ensure repeat visits/purchases.

This doesn’t have to be some convoluted points system that’s impossible to track or reward, it can be as simple as your local cafe’s card & stamp system! 

Just make sure that you’re rewarding loyalty – let your customers know that you value their repeat custom – nearly 70% of customers enjoy getting surprise gifts, and that’s certain to leave a lasting, positive impression.

How Can We Help You With Customer Retention?

We can help with customer retention across many digital touchpoints – we can help you build or optimise a user-focused website or e-commerce store, partner with you on performance driven SEO campaigns, help you create a visually consistent and impactful social media presence and much, much more.

The best place to start is an obligation-free chat – get in touch today to find out how we can help provide your customers with a fantastic user experience across digital touchpoints.

Exploring Our Web Design Process

Great websites don’t happen by accident, they require thorough planning and research, as well as a carefully considered structural foundation.

When you partner with a web design agency like Wilkes Wood, your experience depends as much on the journey as a whole as it does on the final delivered product. 

A screenshot of a website wireframe

It’s all very well getting a good website at the end of it, but if you’ve hated your experience along the way, you’re not going to leave satisfied (and neither are we!)

The good news is that a tried and tested web design process not only provides the best experience possible for you throughout the build, but it also enables us to create the very best website for your business or project.

In this blog post, we’ll be breaking down the different stages of our website development process to help you understand what your journey will look like when working with us to develop your new website.

Web Design Process Overview.

Here are the 6 stages in our overall process:

  1. Discovery Phase
  2. Planning Phase
  3. Design Phase
  4. Development Phase
  5. Launch & Handover
  6. Post-Launch

These phases take you from the beginning of a project right through to launch and handover, as well as ongoing support and maintenance. 

Regardless of whether we’re building you a single-page brochure site or a complex multi-page website, this process will guide the entire process and ensure you’re able to be as hands-on as you’d like to be throughout the build.

Phase 1 – Discovery

Discovery is all about fact-finding. We want to understand exactly where you are now, where you’d like to be, and how we can best fit into that picture to help you get there.

Discovery starts as soon as you reach out to us, and usually takes the form of an introductory meeting, either on Zoom or in person.

This is a chance to discuss the budget and deadlines, and to get a preliminary idea of the scale, complexity, and purpose of the project. 

Some clients come to us with these things very much clear in their heads, but that’s not an expectation at this stage. We can help take your ideas and objectives and figure out exactly what we could make with you to achieve them.

Although these discussions may vary from project to project, this phase of the web design process is about discovering the real purpose of your website, who you are targeting, and what the competitive landscape looks like.

That means we can start from a place of unity and understanding, and ensure that we’re best placed to deliver value.

A black and white photograph showing two men in an office on laptops discussing business

Phase 2 – Planning & Project Agreements

The planning phase is where we take all of the information we’ve acquired during discovery and make something more tangible. 

By the end of this stage, you will know exactly what we are going to build, what we’d need from you to build it, and how the process will work throughout.

Typically, this phase starts with us working on a low-fidelity wireframe together. This is a great way to bring clarity to the process and start to turn ideas into reality. 

By working on a wireframe, we can establish the foundation of your website and see how site pages, functionality, and the content will link between and interact with one another.

After this is complete, we’ll know exactly what information will be presented, giving us an efficient way to establish what content will need to be curated or produced for the build to begin.

Once the meeting has ended, we will go away and make sure the wireframe is refined and accurate. We will then send over a meeting follow-up email to go over anything we’ve discussed during the meeting.

A woman planning a website wireframe

Phase 3 – Design & Content

Once your project is live, we can turn our attention toward the look and feel of your website. If you have a pre-existing visual identity, we will ensure we operate within established guidelines to create consistency across your brand.

If you do not have a brand identity, we will work with you to create the assets you need, such as logos or graphic elements, as well as colour palettes, font selection, icons and more.

Depending on the complexity of the project at hand, we will create full website mock-ups to clarify our design before developing the site itself. 

For simpler projects, the design and development process can be combined, saving time and enabling you to get a hands-on look at your site as it’s being built.

By looking at the wireframe from the previous phase and creating folders that correspond to page titles, we make the content curation stage an intuitive and easy process.

We help gather existing content you might have and also support you in the creation of anything new that may be required.

It’s also an opportunity for us to bring content in line with the best SEO practices, guided by our SEO guru Tom.

By the end of this stage we will have access to all content and copy required to start the build your site with, helping to greatly expedite later phases and ensuring we are building with a clear understanding of site content.

You will also have a complete understanding of the design of your website and have a clear idea of what the final delivered product will look like.

A photograph of a MacBook showing three icons made for DJRFF

Phase 4 – Development

Prior to this stage, everything we work on is related to planning, research or content preparation. This phase is where all of this hard work comes together into something tangible and we can execute on our plan.

You may be under the impression that we go away on our own, disappear, then re-emerge with a website and say “Done!”.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re here to help you and your business, and you’re the person who understands those things the most. That’s why we have developed our process to be as collaborative as you want.

We work on a feedback basis, so there are consistent touchpoints where you have opportunity to guide our work – our job is not only to build the site itself, but ensure you’re kept in the loop and feel that your feedback is listened to, acted upon, and valued.

This is, after all, your website!

From a technical perspective, this is where we will pay close attention to the “invisible” parts of your website, ensuring your site is fully optimised for search engines and users alike. 

This is often where corners are cut, so we pride ourselves on making sure things are done correctly and our quality control throughout the process is obsessively maintained.

Once we have worked through the feedback process and you feel that the website is done, we will then go through and do our final checks. These cover everything from internal links to spelling mistakes, and once they’re done we’re ready for the next phase…

Phase 5 – Launch

Congratulations, you’ve got a new website! Your website is now ready to launch, which we can do immediately or hold for a specific launch date, event or campaign. 

The work doesn’t stop there – we’re on hand to ensure the launch goes smoothly, double-checking the site is working correctly and setting up monitoring systems to ensure we’re notified should it go down for any reason. 

This is also the time for us to show you how to use your website. We do this through a video call, which is recorded so you can refer back to it should you need to in the future. 

During this call, we will introduce you to the back end of the site, ensure you and your team can log in and access what you need to access, and demonstrate how to operate your site – text tweaks, image swapping, blog posting, page creation, and admin controls are all covered!

We will also take the opportunity to schedule in a future call, between 1 and 3 months ahead, for us to go over site performance and see if there are any improvements we can make based on real life data.

Phase 6 – Post-Launch & Aftercare

During the build process, we will have spoken to you about aftercare and discussed what options would be most suitable for your needs.

We offer a selection of ongoing support packages designed for a range of businesses – each of these provides different levels of retained support for maintenance, performance review, and content creation so you can be sure that we’re helping you as you continue to grow.

This ensures that we are keeping track of your site’s performance and providing you with real-world feedback on how visitors are using your site, finding your site, and what potential improvements could be introduced to add value to your site.

You also have access to a range of SEO specific packages should you want to invest in bringing highly qualified organic traffic to your site.

Our ambition with every client, no matter their size or ambition, is to be long-term partners of growth. We want you to see us as an extension of your team, and nothing makes us happier than supporting businesses like yours in achieving their goals.

If you want an obligation-free chat to see if we can help you and your business grow, get in touch today.

A photograph of five people around a desk using laptops and discussing work

Our ambition with every client, no matter their size or ambition, is to be long-term partners of growth. We want you to see us as an extension of your team, and nothing makes us happier than supporting businesses like yours in achieving their goals.

If you want an obligation-free chat to see if we can help you and your business grow, get in touch today.

A photograph of a car speedometer

Why Is Site Speed So Important & How Can I Measure Site Speed?

What Is Site Speed?

Page speed refers to the amount of time between a browser requesting a page and actually completing processing/rendering the page content. 

An often overlooked metric, site speed has become an increasingly important factor in ensuring you’re providing the most optimal experience for users and search engines. 

It’s no secret that when it comes to the digital world, attention spans are low and competition is high. That means every second counts when you’re trying to keep site visitors engaged and converting.

Every millisecond counts too, as a recent study showed that a decrease in page speed by just 500 milliseconds had an adverse affect on user experience!

A photograph showing light using slow shutter speed to indicate speed

Who Does Site Speed Matter To?

The simple answer is: Site Visitors & Google.

Google measures your site and content across over 200 factors when determining your page ranking, and it’s safe to say that it cares about speed, and pays careful attention to mobile performance too.

Google tests your site by simulating its performance on 4G, with poor results potentially kicking your website from any significant rankings – that means if you’re not optimising your site speed at all, you can say goodbye to the first page of results with potentially disastrous consequences for your website, objectives, and conversions.

But, Google wouldn’t care about site speed if people didn’t.

When it comes to user experience, speed/efficiency matters. This isn’t just a rule for websites – if you went to meet your friend at a cafe and ordered a couple of sandwiches, you wouldn’t want to wait for a couple of hours for your food to arrive.

In fact, if that happened, there’s a good chance you’d leave, tell people about your poor experience, and refrain from ever going back. That’s what a site visitor is likely to do if your page keeps them waiting…

A photograph of a car speedometer

Why Does Site Speed Matter?

So, now we’ve established that users and search engines care about your site performance just as much as one another, we can dig a little deeper into what this means…

1 – Site Speed Affects Conversion Rates

Whether you sell your products/services online or not, your website will be trying to encourage some form of conversion – be that a purchase, newsletter sign up, or a lead gen form, and site speed has a direct impact on this.

There have been countless studies that demonstrate this – with one survey finding that close to 70% of site visitors believe page speed directly affects their willingness to purchase online.

Studies have shown that anything below 4 seconds is optimal for conversions, with 0-2 seconds being the sweet spot – every additional second of load time drops your conversions rates by nearly 5%!

Users stay on sites that load faster and convert at a higher rate, and even small improvements can have dramatic effects. For example, Walmart are reported to have increased their conversion rate by 2% by decreasing load time by only 1 second.

If you needed any more proof, Portent studied the difference in conversion rates between websites fully optimised for page speed and “slow” sites, finding conversions for sites loading in 1 second are 5x higher than one that loads in 10 seconds. 

They also showed that the website loading in 1 second achieved 3x the conversion rate of one loading in 5 seconds.

Evidently there’s a lot of money being left on the table if your site is lagging behind your competition!

A photograph of a laptop on a table and a user on her phone

2 – Site Speed Dramatically Affects Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate reveals the percentage of site visitors who abandon your site after viewing only one single page. A high bounce rate is usually indicative of poor user experience (although there are definitely exceptions to this rule) and it can be a good metric to keep an eye on as you try and measure the impact any improvements you’re making.

Site speed has dramatic impact on the bounce rate of your website – slow to load sites have a much higher bounce rate than their swifter counterparts. A great example of this can be seen in how the BBC, arguably the most popular website in the world, reported they were losing 10% of their users for every second it took their pages to load.

They are by no means alone in this – as Google have reported similar results, showing that the probability of bounce increases 32% if your page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds.

A photograph of a neon green exit sign on a wall

3 – Slow Sites Make Unhappy Visitors

User Experience (or UX) is an important focus of any website looking to promote any sort of conversion and works in tandem with Search Engine Optimisation. We’ve explored this relationship further in a dedicated blog post if you want to dive into the detail. 

It’s all very well having a website that’s designed with UX in mind, but if your site isn’t loading quick enough to encourage visitors to stick around, all that work has gone to waste.

On average, you will see a 16% drop in customer satisfaction for just a single second delay in page load times. 

4 – Speed Is Important for SEO

Google’s algorithm has evolved massively over the past decade to better perform its primary function: provide the best user experience possible.

This means that all Google cares about is delivering the best possible result to a search engine user’s query – what makes a website the best possible result? A combination of hundreds of factors, with page speed/site performance being among them. To read more about SEO, head over to our introduction to SEO article.

A faster loading site means a better experience for the site visitor, and that’s what Google wants to provide – users visit 8.9 pages on average when your site loads in two seconds as opposed to only 3 pages if your website takes 8 seconds to load!

That means optimising your site speed can positively impact your search rankings, giving you the opportunity to drive more organic traffic to your site or store.

A photograph showing light using slow shutter speed to indicate speed

How Can I Measure & Improve Website Speed?

Luckily, there are plenty of free tools and resources out there to help you measure your site speed and performance and identify actionable steps you can take to improve your score.

Google offers plenty of resources to help with this process. Tools such as PageSpeed Insight provide you with insight on an individual webpage, providing a score for both desktop and mobile performance (it simulates a mid range mobile device using a standard mobile network to load your site), as well as some handy suggestions for improving your score.

PageSpeed Insight utilises a mixture of lab and real world data to produce its reporting, measuring your site against Google’s “core web vitals” – this gives you the ability to understand how each of the page loading process is performing.

They also have Lighthouse, which is a more holistic tool that measures your entire site, rather than one single page, using lab data under consistent conditions to create a report. This report also audits other important site elements such as SEO and accessibility.

For more information on the difference between Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, click here.

If you’re concerned with mobile performance, check out Google’s dedicated resources which can help you create a seamless user experience across all devices.

Google isn’t the only provider of site speed testing tools by any stretch of the imagination, and there are plenty to choose from.

Pingdom is thought of as a more friendly starting point for those of you who are new to performance analysis, and provides a speed score between 0-100 for you to measure against – another popular alternative is GTMetrix.

Both of these tools can deliver key insight and help you record benchmarks as you continue to try and optimise your site performance.

A screenshot of a Site Speed Tool in use

What Factors Affect Site Speed?

Site speed can be influenced by a variety of factors, but there are some common culprits: Page Weight, Network Conditions, and Hosting.

What Is Page Weight & How Does It Affect Site Speed?

Page weight refers to the overall size of your web page. The heavier the page, the more resources it takes to load.

This means that you’re likely going to have to balance providing a rich user experience with ensuring your website isn’t becoming too unwieldy to load in a reasonable amount of time.

You might think that this problem is getting better as the years go by, but that’s not the case. As websites become more interactive, rich and complex, the average weight of web pages is actually increasing due to JavaScript files, video and image content, heavy CSS, bloated plugins, pop-ups and other banners, animations, backgrounds and more.

It’s tempting to try and make your website as visually interesting as possible with animations, videos and interactive sections, but did you know that 50% of site visitors say they’d be willing to give up animation and video if it led to faster loading times?

Content is arguably the place you can make the largest impact on load time – there’s often some low hanging fruit that can be addressed very swiftly to great results. Here are three easy fixes that you could look into:

  • Image Optimisation & Compression – Cutting down unnecessarily large image files can be a swift and effective way to improve page load times – with Google finding 25% of pages could easily save more than 250KB, and 10% of pages can save more than 1MB!


  • Clean Up Your Code – Unused code can bog down page speed; rid yourself of any useless code and you may see improvements to your performance.


  • Be Lazy – Lazy loading refers to a technique that defers “non-critical resources” at the initial load of your page – this allows the browser to initially load just what’s needed for the page to be visible  and then subsequently load additional content in the background.

A photograph of vintage scales in use

How Hosting & Network Conditions Affect Your Site Speed

Network conditions may mean that your website, regardless of whether it is lightweight or not, loads slower than you’d like it to. This is dictated by the equipment used and the quality of the ISP (internet service provider).

It’s also worth noting that mobile devices are likely to be slower than those using WiFi or ethernet – with 5G not yet rolled out nationwide, mobile access is most likely going to be on 4G (82% coverage in the UK) and 3G (98.7% coverage in the UK).

Obviously, you can’t dictate what device or network someone is using to reach your site, but there are some things you can do to try and minimise the impact this will have on your performance such as compression and using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to host content.

Hosting can also have a massive impact on your site speed, with variables such as location and type of hosting you’ve used affecting the end result. 

Ranging from shared web hosting, where you’re competing for bandwidth and server resources with other websites on the same server, to dedicated hosting options that give you complete control, hosting packages vary extensively on price, ease of use and performance.

So, when you’re picking a web hosting provider – be sure you take into consideration much more than just price – look at the size of the hard drive, the power of their RAM, what bandwidth is available to you and also consider how much traffic you’re likely to receive.

Selecting a suitable package early on will save you lots of hassle further down the line and enable you to get the most out of your website right from the start.

Can You Help Make My Site Faster?

Yes! We’d be more than happy to take a look at your website and identify areas for improvement – whether that’s discussing a site rebuild or optimising your existing site or content.

For a free audit of your site, drop us a message!

Looking For Wordpress Managed Hosting? Here's 5 Reasons to Consider WPX Hosting.

Disclaimer: Some of the below links are affiliate links, so we may receive compensation at no additional cost to you. Despite this, we will only ever recommend services we have used extensively, continue to use, and trust ourselves!

An Introduction to WPX Hosting

We’ve experimented with a fair amount of hosting providers over the last 5 years of business, and have come to the conclusion that there’s only one option if you’re a smaller website looking for managed hosting: WPX.

We started using WPX in 2020, and have been incredibly impressed with their service – so much so that we’ve used WPX for a variety of client projects to great success. 

We’re not alone in our admiration – their Trustpilot reviews are almost impossibly good, with 96% positive feedback at the time of writing. This seemed, to us, too good to be true, so we went digging and unearthed an incredibly extensive study that set out to determine the reliability of these reviews…

Spoiler alert, they found that the reviews are good because WPX knows exactly who they’re catering to and provides exactly what their customers need.

We love WPX and would recommend them for a variety of clients and smaller projects, but there are certainly instances where we would opt for another hosting solution – we think WPX works best for smaller websites that don’t have extensive databases and for those that want a simple, easy to use managed hosting solution.

If you’re unsure if WPX is right for you, get in touch and we’d be more than happy to chat about your web and hosting needs.

How much is WPX Hosting?

WPX offers three separately priced packages – Business, Professional and Elite.

You can pay annually or monthly, with 2 months free hosting offered for annual payment options as well as a reduced monthly fee. Here are the two options:

WPX Pricing

As you can see, WPX is one of the more affordable hosting providers when compared to their competitors in the managed hosting space, especially when you take into consideration the factors that make WPX such a great company to work with.

Regardless of what package you choose, WPX offers a whole load of free features including DDoS protection, unlimited SSL certificates, automatic backups and more.

WPX Hosting Free Hosting Benefits

What Makes WPX Hosting So Good?

Whilst there are plenty of reasons we choose to use WPX, we thought we’d break down 5 points that set it apart from the rest for its price point – but first, let’s look at their pricing.

#1 – WPX Offers A “Fixed For You Guarantee”.

One of the most appealing features that WPX offers is their “Fixed For You Guarantee” (FFY Guarantee). This is a fantastic example of great customer service and is something we feel they absolutely excel at.

The FFY Guarantee is WPX’s promise to help get an offline website back to being live as fast as possible with as little disruption as possible. 

So, if something breaks on your site or your site experiences downtime for any reason, all you have to do is message their live-chat support and they’ll immediately get to work figuring out a solution and implementing this for you.

Our experience with other managed hosting companies is that they may help figure out the cause of the problem, but then expect you to trawl through annoying articles and then try and sort the fix out yourself.

WPX responds within 30-40 seconds, on average, and has resolved every single problem we’ve had on our packages within a few minutes of investigation. 

Oh, and all of this is free!

Obviously, there are some limitations here. WPX can’t recode or fix problems on 3rd party apps or plugins and can’t help you if you’ve got internet issues at your end, nor can they help with fixes to visual elements on your site.

Their priority is getting your site back up and running, not making your actual website better (however, that’s something we can help with!).

WPX Hosting Fixed For You Guarantee

#2 – WPX Is Fast.

Speed matters when it comes to hosting, and a slow hosting provider can have a tremendously negative impact on your website’s performance. This can then lead to issues with SEO and UX and waste a lot of the hard work you’ve put into your website.

It’s safe to say that when we were looking for a managed hosting provider for our clients, speed was at the top of our list of requirements.

It’s a good job then that there are plenty of independent, and we mean actually independent, reviewers have come to the conclusion that WPX is fast

These include industry leading reviewers such as Kevin Ohashi (of ReviewSignal and WpHostingBenchmarks) and Matthew Woodward – two of the most respected industry names.

These tests pitted WPX against competitive big hitters, with the results speaking for themselves. 

When Matthew Woodward conducted his tests, WPX was fastest to load image heavy sites & plugin heavy sites and performed fantastically when undergoing stress tests. 

WPX also came out on top with Kevin Ohasi’s test results – achieving “Top Tier” rewards across all price categories, from >$25 all the way through to $51-100 per month tiers.

What more could you want? For our clients that have migrated from slower rivals, the difference in their site performance is undeniable. 

#3 – WPX’s Customer Support Is Phenomenal

As we’ve mentioned, hosting providers need to offer good enough speed and technical performance to enable you to get the most out of your website, but for us these technical elements are just the start of the story.

We would rather go with a hosting provider that is slightly slower than a competitor if the hosting provider in question offered faultless customer service.

Luckily for us, we’ve found WPX – so we don’t need to choose between performance & support.

We think WPX’s 24/7 dedicated live chat and support functions are the best we’ve ever experienced, and our clients have absolutely loved how responsive and professional the service is every step of the way.

We’ve already mentioned the “Fixed for You Guarantee”, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – their live chat support is immediately available on the site whether you’re a customer or not, so you can chat to a real operator about any technical requirements, questions or concerns prior to signing up for a package.

They’ll then help you with any migrations (more on this later) or issues that need resolving. 

But, the thing that really makes them stand out for us is the fact they’re proactive. 

They’re actually looking for ways to give you a better user experience all of the time. Just yesterday, we logged onto WPX and saw that they had automatically given ALL customers 50% more disk space and 100% more bandwidth across every hosting plan.

#4 – WPX Removes Malware & Provides Automatic BackUps for Free

Much of what makes WPX a great managed hosting provider is their ability to give you peace of mind through their offering – and these two points do just that.

Knowing that WPX will clean your site for free if you somehow get infected with malicious code/malware is a massive bonus, and as long as you abide by their terms of service (which essentially say you shouldn’t give your password out like candy, avoid cracked plugins and themes and keep all plugins etc up to date) you can rest assured that you’re covered in case of malware attacks.

In addition, WPX’s servers are fully secured so even if you were to be infected with malware, the functionality of the main server is maintained!

For even further reassurance, your website is automatically backed up every single day onto a separate server, which is then stored for 28 days. This means if you manage to break your site or need to restore a previous version of your site for whatever reason, WPX have you covered!

#5 – Free Website Migrations

This service is an absolute belter, and our clients love how easy it is to move from their previous hosting provider to WPX.

If you’re using an existing hosting provider and find that you’d like to make the move over to WPX we’ve got some good news to share with you – they’ll handle it!

If you’d like WPX to manage the migration for you, all you need to do is hop onto their website and open a live chat with their support team. They’ll ask you to give some details about your current website hosting, purchase the right package on WPX itself, and then you’re good to go – they’ll handle the rest of the process for free.

WPX migrations typically take up to 24 hours – so after a day, give or take a few hours, they’ll have your site ready to go on the platform!

What Next?

If you’re looking to move hosting provider to WPX or you’re in need of a great managed Wordpress hosting provider for a new web project, click here to be taken to their website.

Alternatively, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you with your website and hosting needs!

An Icon Showing SEO in the style of the Google Logo

SEO VS PPC - What’s The Difference & Which One Is Right For My Business?

When looking to invest in marketing strategies for your business, it’s inevitable that you will end up comparing two or more channels together to decide what is best for your business, audience and objectives.

More often than not, this conversation features two of the most popular marketing activities in 2022: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Optimising your website for search engines can help improve your rankings on organic searches, whilst PPC efforts (like Google Ads) are paid for methods of advertisement allowing marketers to compete for coveted paid placements on the search engine results page.

A close up of Google Ads Click Through Rate analytics screen

What’s The Difference?

Put simply, the main difference between the two lies in SEO efforts being “Organic” and PPC being “Paid”. 

An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

So, What is SEO & Organic Traffic?

Think back to the last time you purchased something online or wanted to find out more about a product, service or company. There’s a pretty good chance that your journey started with one thing: a Google search.

There’s also a pretty good chance that you clicked on a website shown on the first page of your results – in fact, over 95% of clicks come from the first page of search results, with the first 3 results alone getting a combined click through rate of over 60%.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about directing the right web searchers to your website from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, all without the use of paid advertising (PPC ads).

SEO still requires investment. If you’re doing SEO work yourself, that could be an investment of time, or if you’re using an SEO agency like Wilkes Wood, it could be a financial investment. But, you can’t pay directly for performance – i.e you cannot pay Google to guarantee you a certain organic ranking for a keyword.

We’ve written a whole introductory guide to SEO if you want to learn more about SEO works and the benefits it can bring to your business.

The truth of the matter is that SEO is a slower burning long term strategy. 

An Icon Showing SEO in the style of the Google Logo

Let’s look at some of the phases that an SEO professional may go through when working on your website:

  1. Research into your business, audience, keywords, competitors.
  2. A full audit of your website from a technical point of view.
  3. Website optimisation and development.
  4. Content planning, research and creation.
  5. Internal linking & Backlink strategies.

This isn’t a swift process in itself, and then you have to be patient to reap the results of your hard work. There’s no set time frame for SEO work to pay off, but most industry experts agree that even with a healthy SEO budget, you’re looking at a 3 month period before your ranking starts to see serious improvements.

But, those improvements are worth it. Your rankings will improve, your organic traffic will grow, your authority will improve and, whilst you’re waiting for more results, you can continue to optimise your website and put out keyword driven content.

With PPC, your ads disappear when your budget ends. SEO lasts way, way “beyond the spend” and this is why so many marketers see SEO as such a great investment – in fact  49% of marketers report that organic search has the best ROI of any other channel.

It’s also worth noting that organic search drives 53% of website traffic, whilst paid search only accounts for 15%!

You can read more information from Google on organic search or head to our blog on SEO to uncover more of the basics.

To summarise: SEO is powerful, but slow. It wins over the long-term.

A man on a laptop using Google Search

What Is PPC & Paid Advertising?

Pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) is a form of paid advertising on search engines, such as Google Ads. The aim of PPC on Google Ads is to bring immediate traffic to your website by strategically “bidding” on search terms against competitors, with winning bids ensuring your advert is placed somewhere on screen.

PPC is also used across all social media platforms, but we’re not going to cover those here.

One of the most appealing elements of PPC is that it gives marketers the opportunity to target specific audiences that they want their deal, product, event or content to appeal to. 

You can target audiences on Google Ads using demographic data such as location, age, profession, annual income and even interests – this is incredibly powerful, as you can imagine, and is why Google Ads is so popular (accounting for over 80% of Google’s entire revenue).

It is called pay-per-click because you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your advertisement. If you’ve used Google, you’ll have seen ads before at the top and bottom of the search engine results page. The average cost of a “click” is, at the time of writing, around $2.69 (£2.35). 

Average click through rates (CTR) differ wildly between industries, with an average of only 1.9%. To uncover the average CTR for your industry, head over to this article by Search Engine Land.

PPC is popular because it offers immediate results, unlike the long term strategy that SEO aligns itself with. However, as soon as your spend stops, so do the benefits, and depending on the budget you have, your ad might be limited in how long it could run or what size audience it could reach.

There are some downsides to PPC, such as spam clicks/traffic, and over 40% of internet users now use some form of ad blocker.

Just like with SEO, Google will be ranking your efforts, and optimising Google Ads is no easy task. It’s a discipline all of its own and successful campaigns require constant monitoring, testing and tweaking to avoid precious ad spend being wasted.

To summarise: PPC costs per click, and is immediate. It wins in the short term.

A screenshot of a Google search showing how PPC ads appear

So, Which One Is Right For My Business?

As with most things in marketing, the answer is: it depends.

Do you need immediate results? Are you happy to wait for long-term rewards? Do you have a set budget? How much work would your website need? What are your competitors doing?

These are just some of the questions that could help narrow down your options and leave you with the right choice.

A lot of small businesses and start-ups lean more towards SEO as they lack the sort of budget required to fully set-up, test, optimise and implement a PPC campaign. If you’re prepared to think and plan for the long-term, SEO is budget friendly and, once results start showing, you should see steady improvements to your organic traffic.

If you have established your business within a niche market, you may even be able to find keywords that have the “Big 3” – high relevancy, low competition and decent monthly search volume. This would be a golden opportunity for SEO.

If you’re in a highly competitive market, such as an e-commerce store selling products that are in competition with industry behemoths like Amazon, it’s unlikely that you are going to find massive success in ranking for organic positions, especially early on in your efforts. PPC could be great here to help boost your brand awareness.

The truth is, both SEO and PPC are great ways to grow your business, whether they’re used on their own or in conjunction with one another. 

There are, however, a few instances where one would be much more appropriate than another.

There are, however, a few instances where one would be much more appropriate than another – for example, if you’re looking to sell out an event in a short period of time, PPC is your best friend!

a screenshot of Squarespace website analytics

In Conclusion…

If you wanted to maximise the potential of your business, and had the budget to accommodate, we’d always recommend that you invest in both SEO and PPC. With a combined effort, you’re likely to be able to achieve results that would not be possible if each were implemented in isolation.

However, we’re aware that not everyone lives in this “ideal world” and you may have to prioritise one over the other, at least for an initial stretch of time, so let’s break it down:

PPC will require initial and ongoing investment, and will not leave you with any lasting or enduring results when your spending stops. You should look into PPC if you need immediate results, you have a higher budget, or if your product, offer or event is time sensitive.

SEO will require an investment of time or money, but will still be cheaper than PPC over the long term. You should look into SEO if you have a smaller budget, want to prioritise a long term ROI and want to create impactful, powerful content that’s relevant to your audience at all stages of the buying journey.

A black and white photograph showing two men in an office on laptops discussing business

What Can We Do To Help?

We’ve been helping our clients with their SEO needs for over 4 years, and have a dedicated, in-house team to do just that.

Head over to our dedicated SEO page to see our packages across content and maintenance.

For a free SEO audit of your website, get in touch!

A group of people planning UX for a website

How Can SEO and UX Work Together For Your Website?

Whilst it’s true that User Experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are two distinct practices, now more than ever they should be looked upon as a necessary partnership with a common goal: to give your website users the best possible experience.

Long gone are the days of relying purely on keywords to boost your SEO; Google’s algorithm has evolved to such an extent that your website must provide a rich, tailored user experience to your website visitors in order to be in with a chance of boosting your organic search rankings.

With Google’s own UX guidelines suggesting that a seamless UX is a critical ranking factor for organic search, and with recent studies showing development of your website’s user experience can boost customer conversion rates up to 400%, it’s clear to see why so many businesses are investing in UX as part of their SEO strategy.

To put it simply: investment in SEO makes your website optimised for search engines, and investment in UX makes your website optimised for site visitors. However, investment in both can successfully leverage each discipline to maximise their performance and boost results across the board.

A group of people working on a table with laptops

What is SEO?  

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, aims to improve the performance of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs). It aims to boost your organic rankings and drive targeted traffic to your website. We’ve written a beginners guide to SEO here if you want to discover more about SEO and how it can help small businesses.

Two website icons linked together

What is UX?  

User Experience (UX) is a pretty self descriptive term, and simply serves to describe the experience a site visitor has whilst interacting/using your website.

If your website provides a seamless, intuitive and targeted experience to your users then congratulations, you’re delivering a positive UX – however, if your website is slow, hard to navigate and provides little value through its content, you’re delivering a negative UX (and making 88% of your online customers leave with no intention of returning…)

Core elements of User Experience include:

  • Your website’s internal structure/architecture (43% of site visitors want websites to remain simple & nearly all negative user feedback relates to this) 
  • The journey, content & touchpoints of your site visitors (over half of all site visitors prefer content that is personalised to them & their needs). 
  • The responsiveness of your website across mobile/desktop (50% of site visitors will use a website less if it doesn’t work on mobile, even if they love your business…)

Stripped down to its basics, UX is about ensuring that a site visitor finds it easy to navigate through your website, its content and interactive elements, and feels like the experience has been tailored to them at every stage. 

A group of people planning UX for a website

So, How Does UX Impact SEO?

As Google’s algorithms have evolved, the weighting and prioritisation of ranking factors has differed wildly. You may have heard about the early days of SEO, where insane amounts of keyword stuffing could guarantee some degree of success in achieving rankings…

It’s safe to say we’ve come a long, long way from Google relying on signals that can be easily manipulated, like keyword stuffing, link spamming and other outdated practices.

Google is now “user-centric” and has developed its algorithms accordingly, wielding complex technology across the AI and machine learning space to deliver search users exactly what they need to feel satisfied with their search results.

The myriad ranking factors that Google “judges” your website with are now substantially aligned with providing a rich, positive user experience for your website visitors. 

This ranges from technical elements like site speed (slow site speeds lose site owners billions of £s across the e-commerce world each year) to measuring site visitor behaviour like bounce rate, whether or not your site is bookmarked by users, if users came across you through search or direct, and the list goes on and in (with over 200 more factors!)

If you are providing a positive UX through your website’s development and design, you will undoubtedly be supporting site visitors in behaving in ways Google deems to be positive – they’ll stay longer, interact more with your content, perhaps return more often, and are more likely to bookmark, share and promote your website across social media/word of mouth. 

All of these, inevitably, contribute to bettering your search position and send positive signals to Google’s algorithm.In order to better your SEO through UX, you need to ditch the SEO goggles and take the time to understand your audience, website and content from a user’s perspective. It’s time to step back, reposition yourself, and work through your website from the perspective of your target audience.

SEO and UX Icons

Image source: Ash Shah

What Web & Content Factors Influence SEO and UX?

As mentioned above, there are over 200 ranking factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking your website for search results. Here are a handful of critical factors that link UX and SEO together to boost your website’s performance across both areas…

1 – A Thorough Understanding of Your Audience

Both SEO and UX require you to thoroughly understand your audience as the first step in any strategy.

SEO requires you to know your audience so you know exactly who you’re targeting with keywords and content.

UX requires you to know your audience so you know exactly what they want to see, do and consume whilst on your website, and enable you to make your website perfectly tailored to these needs.

To discover your target audience, you need to be able to answer questions beyond demographic information of age, gender and occupation. Here are some example questions you might want to use to frame your research:

  • What is a site visitor wanting from your website?
  • What would a site visitor search for online?
  • How would a site visitor seek out/look for the information or content they desire?
  • What would they expect from tone/content?
  • How would they want to interact with your website? What forms, buttons, purchases, links, or downloads are they expecting to be able to engage with?

You might also want to look into current data if you have analytics at your disposal. 

This can provide vital information on how users journey through your website, how they behave, how long they stay for, and how often they interact with buttons, forms, purchases or any other conversion you’re monitoring.

You want to build up a clear picture of your audience – without this, you will have nothing to guide your UX and SEO strategies as they will not be directed toward a targeted group of users with shared interests, wants and needs.

I could sit here and tell you that 70% of users prefer to use companies that share their sense of humour or that over 70% of users judge how credible a website is based on its aesthetics…

But if you don’t know what humour your target audience would appreciate or what your target audience deem to be appropriate aesthetically, you are making it nearly impossible to meet their expectations, thus compromising any SEO or UX efforts before they’ve even begun!

The word

2 – Have You Done Your Keyword Research?

Furthering on from the above point, successful keyword research will enable you to increase your understanding of your target audience.

This works for both SEO and UX. 

Keyword research is a fundamental building block of SEO – knowing what keywords to target and what content to produce is absolutely critical to any successful SEO strategy – without it, you will not achieve any significant results. 

For more information on how SEO works, click here.

In relation to UX, keyword research helps by providing further information on site visitors, for example their search intent.

Look at these two searches:

  1. “Good first cars” 
  2. “Used Ford Fiesta 1.5L 2005 blue for sale now Sheffield”

The first search is on the lookout for content/information that could help them answer their question and determine what cars to look into further. 

This is a broader search that indicates someone is in the exploratory/information seeking stage of the buying process.

The second search seems to have much more of a purchasing intent – they are seeking a specific product in a specific area with a somewhat defined specification. 

The presence of “now” indicates they are looking for the ability to complete a purchase immediately if they like what they see.

Both are searching in relation to cars, but at different stages of the buying process and with differing degrees of intent. 

What makes great content and UX for one may be a bad UX with poor content for the other…

A screenshot showing Google's Keyword Planner

3 – What Are You Pushing Your Audience Towards?

A well designed website will successfully push site visitors toward a particular action, event or conversion through elements like buttons, prominent calls to action (CTAs), chat-bots and more.

To facilitate a positive user experience, you need to balance your desire for site visitors to perform an action with their desire to navigate your site and content in an intuitive manner. 

Lean too far either way and you’ll be losing out on conversions or annoying site visitors by preventing them exploring your site in the way they want to.

If your SEO efforts are successful in bringing in more organic traffic, it can be tempting to try and capitalise immediately on this boosted audience.

However, you should be wary of compromising UX on purpose…

Sacrificing good UX with pop-ups, intrusive ads, or flooding every paragraph with “buy now” buttons may seem appealing for short term profits, but long-term you could be dissuading site visitors from ever returning and moving from “User Experience” into “User Exploitation”.

Here are two ways you can help improve the performance of clickable/interactive elements:

  • Place them in locations that users will be familiar with/expect – don’t try and be too tricky or “cool” with how you present interactive elements. 
  • Design interactive elements to be as visible as possible and ensure that site visitors will know immediately that they can engage with the element – that’s why hyperlinks are different colours! 
  • Ensure your content can be easily shared on popular social media channels. 
  • Make sure you’re using CTAs throughout your page content to encourage visitors to further explore other pages, content or convert.

You might be asking yourself how these UX elements contribute towards your website SEO? 

By optimising your webpages for site visitors and making it easier for them to spend more time on your website/explore different content on your website.

This means you’re reducing bounce rates and showing Google that your website is highly relevant and of a high enough quality for visitors to interact with it for longer. Optimal bounce rates are strongly correlated with achieving first page spots with. Google rankings

By encouraging social sharing and conversions, you’re further proving this point.

A woman planning a website wireframe

4 – Focus on Your Site’s Foundation & Navigation

How your website is structured has a tremendous impact on both SEO and UX. If you’re building a website, you have to take the time to consider the foundation of your website and ensure it is following best practices.

This is referred to as your website architecture. A website constructed with an optimised site architecture allows search engines to more easily discover your website, index its content and follow internal links to be able to journey through the entirety of your site. 

From a technical point of view, there are plenty of things to consider – ranging from optimising your URL structure to using H1 and H2 tags in your site content to ensure that the content hierarchy is being established.

However, a fundamental element of site architecture that is critically important to both SEO and User Experience is that of website navigation…

How to Optimise Website Navigation:

It’s important to remember that there’s a very high chance your site visitors will be landing on a different webpage to your homepage. 

In order to allow site visitors to easily explore and journey through the rest of your content, you need to ensure that your navigation is optimised:

  • Your top menu should be clear and prominent, with no silly page names that may confuse your visitors. 
  • Your pages need to be organised into appropriate and manageable sections/groups to ensure you’re not flooding your menus with too many options. 
  • Content needs to follow SEO best practices & prioritise clear formats with headers, lists, and appropriate imagery/site media. 
  • Internally link to relevant content and utilise CTAs to help your site visitors explore your web content further. 
  • Utilise categories and menus for your blog to keep posts organised and accessible. 
  • Consider using breadcrumbs to easily allow users to return to previous pages or menus.
  • Minimise the amount of clicks needed to get to any given webpage. 
  • Avoid any pop ups, ads or features that may hide important information or menus – this is a common criticism with poorly designed chatbot features. 
  • Don’t leave users with a dead end.

Cleaning up your navigation makes it easier for both users and search engines to explore your site – that means it’s equally as important for SEO and UX. 

Through optimising your website navigation and architecture, there’s a chance that Google will display other pages within your main result on a search page – these are called sitelinks and are fantastic as they enable you to take up more of the screen/results and attract more clicks and visitors. 

Take a look at Wilkes Wood when you search for us on Google:

A Screenshot of a Google Search Result showing Site Links that Boost SEO

5 – Make Your Website Optimised for Mobile

Here are 4 statistics that you need to know:

  1. 85% of your site visitors expect your mobile site to match or outperform the quality of your desktop site.
  2. Nearly 50% of users are actively annoyed by sites that aren’t optimised for mobile.
  3. Nearly 70% of users will choose to reward your website with a purchase if it’s optimised for mobile and your competitor’s websites aren’t.
  4. More than 50% of traffic is now from mobile search.

Mobile optimisation is no longer a cool thing for your website to do, it’s an absolute necessity. Those that do not invest in responsive websites are absolutely going to suffer – your site visitors are expecting content to display correctly no matter what device they’re using.

From a UX standpoint, it’s non-negotiable.

Unfortunately for those with clunky mobile sites, it’s also vital for SEO.

Google has repeatedly stressed how mobile-friendly websites are favoured in search results, and if that wasn’t enough to convince you, Google’s crawler now conducts mobile-first indexing – there’s no two ways about it, responsive design is an expectation of search engines and users alike.

Make sure that your website has accessible and clear fonts, has a seamless mobile navigation menu, loads fast on mobile devices and has functional CTAs – you can even make the latter mobile specific, with “Call Now” functionality!

A man uses his mobile phone to look at a website

6 – Is Your Website Speedy?

Page speed is another example of something that is equally important to real world site users and search engines alike.

The verdict is unanimous: if your site is slow, your visitors will leave.

In fact, if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you’ll have already lost more than half of your traffic and on the opposite side of things, even a 0.1 second site speed improvement has been shown to improve online sales.

If your site is loading too slowly and causing visitors to abandon ship, you’ll see a negative impact within your bounce rate and time on page analytics – this is why Google uses page speed as an important factor in deciding your rankings. 

Luckily, you can use Google’s free tool to determine how your site is performing and receive feedback on how you can take steps to improve your site speed. This should give you a pretty good idea of how much work you need to do and where you need to turn your attention to.

A common mistake that has a massive impact on site speed is to upload site media without optimisation/compression – here’s a quick guide if you need to revisit your photos/videos on your site.

A car speedometer showing 0kmph

Can You Help Me With Improving My Website SEO or UX?

Yes. If you think you need some help optimising your website for search engines and users, get in touch with us today and our experienced in-house team will take care of the rest.