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SEO Agency - Cornell Studios

How To Make Your “Blog Best In Class”

If you’ve got a website then there is a good chance that it has a blog as well. That’s great if it’s providing valuable information to your audience but if not then it’s just taking up space. Most modern businesses will have a blog on their website but a large percentage will not have a clear reason why or a definitive strategy in place to allow them to make the best use of it.

So what do you need to do to make your blog stand out from all the others in your niche and send it straight to the top of the class?

Become an Authority

The purpose of your blog should be to provide advice and information that your target audience/customers will find both educational and interesting. In this way you will be aiming to become a trusted source of information within your industry aka an influencer. Your blog posts should not only be insightful and interesting, they should also shed new light on existing topics and give the reader something new to think about otherwise you will just be churning out the same information as countless other blogs in your niche.

Answer Questions

One sure-fire way to attract visitors to your blog is to provide answers to questions that are often asked by your target market. Research tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner are a great way to find out which questions people are asking and with how much regularity. If the same questions are regularly being asked then that is a strong indicator that there aren’t sufficient answers available for them. If you can provide the definitive answer to your target market’s questions then they will be more inclined to return to your website in the future and trust that you are an authority within your niche.

Reach Out to Other Influencers

Creating content for your blog can also allow you to reach out to other influencers within your industry and build relationships with them. If you spot a article on a subject that you feel would be a good reference within one of your posts then you can link to it and back up the points you are making. This acts as a huge pat on the back to the author of that article and makes it a lot more likely that they will share your blog post with their own followers and even link to your website in their future posts. This way you are providing more credibility to your posts, exposing them to a larger audience and building relationships with other industry influencers at the same time.

Promotion is Everything

Writing a great blog post is only half the battle, it will all be in vain unless you can get it seen by as many relevant sets of eyes as possible. Social media promotion is the go-to for most bloggers but there’s more to it than simply posting a link to your post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. This will help drive traffic to the post providing you have a strong following on these networks but it’s important to prepare beforehand so that you post attracts as many clicks as possible when it appears on social media.

Try to add an attractive image to go along with your post to catch the eye of potential readers and think about keywords, they play a vital role in your click through rate. If you are providing answers to popular questions then be sure to include the keywords being used to ask them in the title of your post. Using popular keywords in hashtags can also play an important role in getting your post in front of the right audience. Use your network of industry contacts to promote your posts on your behalf and don’t forget to let anyone you may have linked to know that you have done so to give them a chance to share it with their community.

Be Ready to Engage 

Be ready for a discussion to ensue once you have shared your blog post with the world. It’s important to remember that you are not simply creating a post to be shared and then forgotten about, a good post should start a discussion within your community and you need to be ready to provide follow up answers and engage in these discussions. Once you have attracted visitors to the blog then you can engage with them even further by including a “Lead Magnet” which is something that encourages the visitor to engage with (usually a whitepaper or ebook with further information) to gather their email address and become part of your email list for future content promotion.

Why User Experience Matters

User experience or UX is a term used to explain how a user feels when navigating through your website. It has become so important that it can make or break your business online. That may seem like a big statement but just think about all the effort and money you spend to get people to visit your website, it would be crazy to then ignore it’s UX and fail to convert those visitors into paying customers. Basically it makes sense to ensure that your website solves the user’s problem when they actually find your site otherwise what’s the point?

SEO Benefits

SEO has come a long way from the days of adding certain keywords to your content and building links to your website for almost overnight results. Google’s algorithm has progressed and become much more complex since then and although they have not definitively stated that they use user experience data when ranking websites their Panda algorithm does measure page and website quality. So it’s pretty safe to say that user experience has a big role to play in your website’s rankings.

Improved User Engagement

It’s widely accepted that Google do consider bounce rate (the number of people leaving your website without performing an action) when ranking a website, however they are likely to go into even more detail than that. For example it’s believed that Google bots are able to tell when someone visits your website for a short period of time and then leaves, returns to their original search and clicks on another result. This would indicate to them that your search result is not relevant or not effectively answering the user’s query, which will result in your website dropping down the rankings. Improved UX allows you to limit the amount of drop outs and ensure that your website is providing the information that your audience is looking for.

User Friendly Design

It’s clear from an SEO point of view that user engagement is more than likely impacting on your rankings but it’s also vital for making your business a success. Therefore user engagement must be considered and incorporated within your website’s design at the earliest stage of its development. It doesn’t matter how good your website looks if people can’t work out how to make a purchase, enquiry or sign up to your service then it’s failing in it’s purpose.

Modern online consumers are notoriously impatient and fickle, if your website is too slow or overcomplicated most wont think twice about leaving and clicking on one of your competitors. On the flip side if you can create an easy and enjoyable user experience then you can generate repeat custom and loyal followers of your brand. The good news is that designing great user experience usually means keeping things simple. The golden rule to remember is to ensure that it takes as few clicks as possible (preferably one) for the user to get to the information/product/form that they want on your website.

Brand Recognition

Addressing your UX can have a positive impact on your brand as a whole. For example if your website receives 10 shares on social media and a link from a blogger/industry influencer for every 100 visits then there is room to improve its user experience. If you can make some improvements to the usability of the website and increase the ratio to 10 shares and a link for every 50 visits then you will have doubled the sharing potential of your brand and the amount of links it earns naturally.

Analysis

Improving your UX requires some introspective analysis of your website and it’s data, luckily that’s what Google Analytics is for. With access to the user behavior on each page of your website you can identify which pages are underperforming and need addressed. With more complex analysis through the use of heat maps, split testing and eye tracking you can delve even deeper into identifying specific issues on a page. You can then use this information them to improve the time spent on the website, clicks through onto other pages and ultimately goal completions.

User experience matters because your customers matter and so making your website work as well for them as it possibly can is a no brainer and when you do that you will reap the rewards for it. It’s not always about increasing the amount of people that land on your website, in most cases the key is to improve how you’re set up for the traffic you already receive.

The key to great user experience is to know your audience, know what their needs are and to address those needs better than your competitors, simple.

Our Award Winning Design For Ulster Carpets

Ulster Carpet’s Residential website was recently named “Best Flooring Website of 2015” by the readers of Interiors Monthly. 

A local powerhouse established over 75 years ago with a world wide reputation for the highest quality and most luxurious carpets, Ulster challenged us to develop a website specifically targeting the residential markets in the UK and Ireland. The website needed to host and display the vast domestic carpet range and colour matching possibilities that Ulster is renowned for as well as being easily updated as design trends change.

As an additional challenge the site was required to use Geo-IP technology that would ensure visitors from the US would be presented with the focused range of carpets designed for and sold specifically within the USA.

Ulster also prides itself on its Carpet Sample Service that allows customers to have up to five different samples of carpet delivered to their home. This online ordering service needed to be secure,  reliable and interactive across all browsing devices.

Our Approach

The emphasis of this design and build was to create a user interface that allowed visitors to browse Ulster’s large range of products with efficiency and ease. The data driven product modules designed allow visitors to quickly view and match various carpet options without any download delay. The modules created also allow Ulster staff to easily update the company’s product offering via CMS whilst maintaining the structure and vibrancy of this striking online presence.

This approach allows Ulster to integrate specific product offerings and brand messages into their overall online strategy within one cohesive framework. With the use of the integrated Gallery and

Trend modules Ulster can share their imagery and news articles via the relevant social media channels.

Establishing the framework for this site was key. The emphasis was on the mobile user and enabling them to find products with ease. To avoid the loss of primary features when viewing on mobile devices we adapted the main site design to automatically restructure both content and functionality. This ensures delivery of the perfect user experience every time.

The Result

An Award winning responsive online presence built for future growth as Ulster continue to lead the way in a competitive domestic carpet sector. Crowned as the Best Flooring Website 2015  it acts as a testament to Ulster’s ongoing commitment to its loyal and growing customer base throughout the UK and Ireland.

Jeremy Wilson, Sales Director at Ulster Carpets commented:

“Since we launched, the feedback has been amazing from both consumers and retailers. They find the site easy to use, great to look at and most of all, the information they need is readily accessible. The handy free sample ordering tool is also popular.”

We continue to work with Ulster across their portfolio of marketing collateral and digital platforms.

The SEO Essentials

Your Essential Guide To SEO

Essential Guide To SEO

Big brands have been utilising Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for years to generate more targeted traffic to their websites but many small to medium sized business are still in the dark over this modern marketing strategy. Whether you’ve heard of SEO or not it’s likely that you will have some questions about what it actually involves so we’ve put together this essential guide to help you out.

Increased Relevant Traffic

One of the most popular reasons companies invest in SEO is that it can significantly increase the amount of visitors to your website. That’s great but SEO actually goes one further and increases the amount of relevant and targeted visits to your website. 

This means users who are actively searching for the product and/or service that you sell. This is pretty revolutionary when you consider that traditional marketing targets a passive audience i.e. it interrupts us when we are watching TV or listening to the radio to try and sell us something that we aren’t actively looking for.

Not A Cost, But An Investment

When it’s done right (and we pride ourselves on doing it right) SEO is not a cost but an investment for your business. Once your rankings improve and climb to page 1 of Google they will be there to stay for some time and that will result in a constant stream of relevant traffic, which you can convert into a steady flow of new customers.

If you have invested in a new website then not implementing an SEO strategy is like setting up a shop in the middle of the desert and wondering where all of your customers are. So consider SEO as an continuation to the investment you have made on your website, not an additional luxury.

Accountability & Clear ROI

What sets SEO apart from traditional marketing strategies is that you can clearly measure and analyse its impact on your business. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide in depth data tracking the source of every visit to your website and what actions each user made once they arrived.

With traditional marketing it’s difficult to measure if it was a success or not, for example gauging whether a newspaper or billboard advert drove more people to your shop involves a lot of guesswork. With SEO there is nowhere to hide, all of the results are there for you to see and there is no doubting what led the traffic to your website.

It’s Cost Effective

Now we get to the important bit. Traditional marketing is very expensive, so much so that often it simply isn’t an option for some small businesses and start-ups. The great thing about SEO is that you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows and still generate results. That’s because you are targeting the right audience, those ready to make a purchase and therefore you can see results much more quickly with a lot less investment. With its long lasting results and measurable impact SEO has to be the most cost effective form of marketing there is.

It Will Make Your Website Better

When you engage in SEO not only will it have the benefits that we have already outlined, it will also make your website better. For SEO to work your entire team will need to be committed to making your website the very best search result within your niche. It’s really that simple but putting that goal into practice is the tricky part. Usability and great content are both vital for any SEO strategy to yield results. Therefore your website will automatically improve as a result of your campaign.

After the initial optimisation of your website to make it relevant for your targeted keywords you will need to naturally earn links for it’s rankings to improve. To achieve this you will need to become a trusted source of information within your niche and that’s where your content strategy comes in. Getting the traffic to your website is only half the battle, once they are there you still need to convert them into customers and so your website needs to be as user friendly as possible otherwise they may leave and click on a competitor whose website is easier to navigate.

It’s The Modern Way

Today’s consumers are very different animals to those of 20 years ago. We use the Internet for everything, shopping, communicating, booking holidays, paying bills… the list goes on. Online shopping and inquiries are gaining an increasingly large piece of the market share and it’s important that your brand doesn’t get left behind.

Modern consumers place a huge amount of trust in Google and if your website is ranking on page 1 then that creates a huge sense of credibility for your brand in the eyes of potential customers. Don’t get me wrong there is still a definite place for traditional marketing but if you want your brand to be successful then you also need to embrace digital marketing strategies.

Outperform Your Competitors

If you’re not investing in SEO you can be sure that your competitors are that doesn’t just mean those in the same town as you. When it comes to online your competitors could be based anywhere in the UK, Europe or even the world and if they are dominating the search engine results for your industry then they are tapping into a huge online market that you are missing out on. SEO not only helps you to keep up with these competitors but when implemented in the right way it can allow you to overtake them and stay ahead in the years to come.