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Mobilegeddon – 1 Month Later

By | General, Online marketing, SEO, Social Media | No Comments

It’s been almost two years since we posted about responsive sites and the importance of making sure your online presence is mobile ready. We remember because the publication of such a post resulted in a rather healthy debate on Twitter with some advocating that it’s really not that important.

Well we hate to say we told you so but . . . we told you so.

A month ago Google put in place a new algorithm that focuses on the mobility of your website. That is, if your website does not have the capacity to adapt to mobile or tablet screens you will find you Google ranking (SEO) affected.

Some sources are saying that this could be as bad as your search ranking being cut in half in one fail swoop. We’re only a month in and businesses are watching their SEO rankings closely and so far they’ve seen a drop but nothing that has people panicking. . . Yet.

The good news is that it will be over the coming year that we will begin to see it’s true impact so there is still time to make sure your website is ready for what is being dubbed ‘mobilegeddon.’

How To Check If Your Website Is Ready

This is quite a simple step but one that many haven’t yet completed. Take a mobile phone, open up your browser and enter your websites address.

If:

• You have to zoom in to navigate
• The images are tiny and undefined
• You find it difficult to select categories or fill in forms

Then your website is not ready for Mobilegeddon and you will find your SEO severely affected, dropping page ranking radically.

What To Do If Your Website Isn’t Ready

If your website isn’t ready for the oncoming SEO apocalypse it may be time to have a look at your website in a new way and maybe even giving it a little spring cleaning.

To make your online presence mobile friendly your website will have to be looked at from the back end. We can help advise you on all elements of making your website fit for any mobile or tablet screen.

Once you have a streamlined adaptable website you have to make sure that it is present on social media. The current Google algorithm focuses on your social presence. On how many ‘likes’ your FB page is and how many +1s you have on Google+ so you have to make sure you have a presence on both of these platforms and that you are driving traffic back to your website.

If you want to speak to someone about getting started on Social Media ask our resident Social Media Guru Helena

So are you ready for Mobilegeddon?! If not don’t let your website suffer! Talk to us today and we’ll be happy to help!

5 Executive Secrets to Speed-up Using Gmail

By | Business, Business advice | One Comment

Saving time and effort is one of my favourite pass-times yet I was told once by a colleague that I spend far too much time on checking my emails.

But I get 80 new emails a day sometimes! Like it or lump it, while we sleep we get emails! This article is going to show you in just a few steps how easy it is to avoid getting caught up in your emails. Gone are the days of procrastinating in my inbox – with these 5 tips, you should speed-up using Gmail too.

Procrastination vs Gmail

I felt like sharing with you why using Gmail offers me some really powerful features to maximise my day in an effort to help you with your day. I hope I can save you some time, thank me with a Share on Facebook or Twitter ok?

So these features dramatically reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend on emails, making the corporate responsibility part of your job more efficient and getting you a special “nerd badge” for showing your family or colleagues how best to use Gmail.

Of course you’ll also be able to get heaps more work done too, or if you lucky go home early?

First off, just be aware that I used to be a reckless with my email address and I recommend that if you are using your work email to sign up for anything and everything, you won’t be helping things, you’ll have more work too. SO consider that next time you subscribe to something, be sensible with your email address and online sign up to really useful blogs like ours!

This simple consideration along with my suggested changes to your email set-up should help you to improve things. My tips will make it easier for you to find your emails, assist you with automatically filtering emails into organised folders and helping to prevent spammy emails hitting your inbox in the first place.

After all, prevention is better than the cure!

Why use the Nova email system in your Gmail?

Well these aren’t really secrets, but if you don’t know, you just don’t know, am I right!

The need to write this post come from a need to speed up checking my own emails and from discovering hidden features and tools in Gmail over the past 9 years. It was only about 6 months ago I decided to spend less time on my emails than today.

I designed a system using some freely available tools within Gmail and I regularly use these systems to check email once in the morning, once in the afternoon. I’ve saved so much time per day, I can afford to spend time writing valuable blogs instead.

You might too be one of those people that wouldn’t even be able to finish daily and other important tasks due to spending hours on emails. I used to feel defeated, rushed and I didn’t feel like I had achieved much.

If you can relate to this then never fear that Empty Inbox is not far off and you’ll start reclaiming extra time the more efficient you become at using Gmail.

(At the time of this blog post I was using latest gmail interface, but these ideas / tools should still work with the Basic HTML version too).

Some of Gmails secret features

1/ Organise with Filters

Filters are used to scan emails before they come in to your inbox. Using keywords or email addresses you can identify emails you want and apply actions to and delete, archive or sort them automatically along with lots of other useful actions.

Gmail provide a handy “filter wizard” which you can use to filter emails with all sorts actions including actions such as;

  • Apply Stars
  • Apply Important Tag
  • Apply Labels
  • Move to a certain folder
  • Archive
  • Mark as read

There are plenty more options available and using these in combination with cleverly organised folders (and sub folders for advanced organisation) soon your email can be categorised how you want without even using your inbox!!

You could for example organise emails by supplier / client or contact or by project, group, context and the list is endless.

I use personally use filters to remove emails from my inbox that I don’t feel are urgent to see, such as newsletters or subject matter that I want to keep, but don’t find vital enough to check each day.

Filter-wizard

2/ Unread first

A very handy feature to speed through your emails, is to show only “unread emails”.

This can prevent procrastination by hiding “everything” (which is googles way of saying – all of your other emails) and showing only emails which need to be read or actioned.

If you don’t set your gmail view to “Unread” first, the next step will be super useful and save you the most time out of all the tips here in this post.

Unread-First

3/ Triage via inbox vs next button

Everything leads up to this point, the mass extinction of unwanted email from the main view of your Gmail, you should have now a long list of “unread emails”.

On your screen you’ll see lot’s of rows of emails with additional information along each row (each column giving you info about each email), you should see from left to right the following;

  • A check box – Select a single or multiple emails
  • Star Icon – Highlight emails as Starred
  • Important Icon – Mark your emails as important
  • From – Telling you who sent the email
  • Subject Line – Giving you some info about the email
  • Attachments – Paper clip icon
  • Time / Date

To triage your emails and sift the wheat from the shaft, go down the list and apply a check to the check box.

Ok here’s the time saver, once you’ve selected multiple emails from top to bottom of the list checking your emails using the other columns to identify which emails you want to action.  You’ll notice the toolbar (navigation bar) above the list of emails will change giving you more options.

The button we want here is the box with an arrow pointing down on it (archive) which in Gmail simply means, “not in my inbox” or in Gmail language moved to “All Mail”, which includes; archived, sent, unread etc.

With all of your emails selected you could also start using the other buttons to organise further your emails, don’t forget to look in the “more” button which gives you further actions to apply.

Note that “Mark as read” also archives (not delete) the email and removes them from your “Unread” list.  But be aware that you can only do one page like this at a time, moving to the next page deselects the previous page and you’ll have to start again!

Of course IF you have emails that you do want to read then move on the the next step.

More-Selection

4/ Faster Email Reading and Quick Actioning

First of all, I’m not telling you here how to read your email or what to do with the email once you have read it. Simply how I now navigate between emails and to action an email effectively.

First of all you don’t need to pop in and out of the list with this tip, i.e. Go into an email and hit the back button to return to the list.  Just pick the top or the bottom.  This choice will depend on which order you would like to go through you emails, I sometimes choose the top which is the latest emails, and if there are important unread emails or it’s been a while since I checked my email I go to the end of the list and start from there.

I’m assuming you’ve read the initial email (the first or last from the list) and now you want to action the email by forwarding the email, replying to it or simply archive (mark as read) to move onto the next email.

Well if there is no reply or forward required here is another great button I’ve discovered, as it’s a little tucked away.  The NEXT or PREVIOUS button!!

Of course hitting the previous button works from the top of the list, the next button form the bottom of the list, so now you can read, action and move on quickly without the need to return to the list view.

Next-Previous Button

Quick Action shortcuts

If you want to quickly reply to a short email (i.e. A few sentences that meant you didn’t need to scroll down to read it) then you can hit the reply button. If you have a longer email and get to the bottom you’ll notice a text box with reply and forward in it. Click one of these or simply start typing in the box to reply. Note – This will reply only to the person that sent the email to you.

Reply All

If you have multiple people to reply to (i.e. Reply All) then hit the down arrow next to the reply button and you’ll get more options, the reply all button will only be present if there are more people involved in the email (i.e. someone was CC’d or multiple recipients).

Filter messages like these

This one is vital. If you realise that the message is one of those not so important messages that you don’t want in your inbox each time, or if you want to add a different kind of action to messages from this person (or with certain keywords within it), then use this feature to jump start the filter wizard.

reply-drop-down

Send Shortcut

On PC use – CTRL + Enter
On Mac use – ⌘ + Enter

5/ Gmail Labs (The best bit)

Google Labs for Gmail is a nirvana for indie developers to create some awesome (somewhat hidden) features that can’t be accessed through normal settings or found in the new interface anywhere. Some of my particular efficiency favourites are:

Undo send

Perfect for a few seconds of grace when you accidentally send an email but realise that it’s to the wrong person, you didn’t attach the file you wanted to or just feel not quite ready to send but out of habit, hit that send button too hastily.

Right-hand chat

This lab tool is great if you have lots of folders and subfolders, instead of having to scroll in the tiny window the new Gmail interface allows. Right hand chat moves the whole chat section over to the right hand side instead.

Quote selected text

To reply quickly regarding specific text in an email, simply select the text and hit reply. The selected text will be placed as a quote (with citation and date) in the return email.

Unread Message Icon

If you have Gmail in a tab in your browser this little gem will place a further icon on top of the gmail icon and show you how many unread emails you have. Goes well with point one and if you “pin” gmail to your browser it minimises the tab and looks super cool up in the browser.
unread-icon

Labs-Unread Icon

Well that’s all for now, thank you for reading this and if you have anymore useful ways to make using Gmail more fun or efficient, I am always open to hearing more about how best to use Gmails many cool tools. Also if these tips have helped any of you, please share, comment and sign up for more blogs like this one.

(Use the form on the right here to sign up for email notifications of our new blogs and weekly tech news round-ups).

Google Algorithm Penalises Doorway Pages

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Online marketing, SEO, Web Design | No Comments

Is the age of doorway or signpost pages finally over?!

Years ago when the Internet was just fields (of HTML websites), Flash was one of the more dynamic ways to have a “cool” website. BUT the big problem back then was some browsers out of the bag didn’t support Flash, in fact many still don’t.

So what could you do to prevent losing your visitors that didn’t have Flash?! You created a Doorway Page of course!!

Webmasters back then had the same goals as they do now, maximise viewers and try not alienate any of your potential visitors / customers.

Should they not be able to view the business website because of not wanting or trusting Flash!? No, you had to put a doorway page up.

Google today announced that doorway pages are now the way of the Dodo (maybe due to the annihilation of Flash?) once deprecated it’s only a matter of time before the world turns against a once revolutionary way to animate your website.

Google today announced the following alterations to their page ranking algorithm.

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

So why has Google decided to penalise doorway pages and what could this mean for the Web design industry?

Not all doorway pages are created equal Google! Are they for example accounting for the genuine uses of single page redirects as well as the not so legitimate uses?!

Doorway Page Example

Years ago a doorway page was as simple as this picture of a famously cool Flash website (www.2advanced.com). This image shows a simple HTML only page that contained the website / business name logo and a couple of options for traffic management. There may also be some tracking software or adverts, but mainly it was to inform people that if you hit “enter” without the Flash Plugin, the site won’t work!

I can understand why Google wants to remove these pages from their search results (Serps) I would too. The technology is deprecated and more often than not in todays internet these pages are fast and a bit of a cheeky way to enhance shared traffic quickly, cheaply and without any benefit to the end user who is just bounced from doorway page to more often than not an irrelevant page.

Google have defined a doorway page as:

Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

Here are some examples of doorways:

  • Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
  • Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
  • Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

Now, personally I don’t recall using the term “doorway page” but it meant the same thing as some of the other buzz words we used for this kind of HTML page. Other terms like Gateway pages, Sign-post pages, Landing Pages or Diversion Pages were used to describe what this type of page did.

So exactly who or what are you penalising here Google and more importantly why?!

Most of us still use and rely on this kind of page. Landing pages and under construction pages, although not great for SEO or traffic management, still some of us have specific marketing plans that use these kind of pages!!

We need them to manage our email lists or social media traffic and I for one am slightly concerned that this alteration to the algorithm might affect other pages that aren’t “doorway pages” but might seem like one.

Simple “doorway pages” used in a complex or large networks of websites or marketing funnels might be affected by this Google Algorithm change, so what can we do to safeguard our genuine pages?

Well I guess, moving the page from the index.html (first page of the domain) might work, normally doorway pages are set to index.html or .php. Because they are used as the entry point to a domain (in other words you’ll see a doorway page when you type or website address or click a result from a search engine) it might be a good idea if you have a genuine single page to move these to a sub domain or another place in the website.

If you are using these pages to ensure the traffic quality or qualification on your site or to deter traffic that might add unnecessary bandwidth overheads, then other methods might be more appealing now there is a genuine risk of negative domain ranking. Lead management may now need to be more cleverly filtered and qualified at the source . With the right strategy in place that’s not too hard given the host of tools Social Media is now offering to do just this very thing!

So if your home page or landing page contains more than a few words, words such as; “Enter or Leave”, maybe also “Flash or HTML” and an image. If your page is the only page hosted on your domain and leads nowhere but other pages that contain the content that was being sought out by the user, think again. Re-strategise as Google is a coming for ya page rankings!!

But also it’s possible that armed with the knowledge about doorway pages and how they are now going to penalise your SEO efforts (with Google) having a rethink of the flow of your web traffic / marketing funnel might be a good idea. We can certainly help you there. There are many alternatives to “doorway pages” and HTML files that direct your traffic better than ever before. More importantly they won’t penalise your SEO efforts at all.

We hope that you don’t get affected by this change. But if you do and you would like to talk about it reach out to me, I’d be glad to help, if I can.

@_novajohn

5 SEO Tricks You Didn’t Know

By | Business, Essex, General, SEO, Social Media | No Comments

SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a term that I am sure you are hearing more and more these days.  To put it simply SEO means ‘how to get Google (as the main Search Engine we will be using Google throughout) to notice my website.’  Think about a shop in a shopping centre and all the methods store managers use to make sure people visit them.  Leafleting and standard advertisement works but nothing is more effective than having the shopping centre promote them and push their offerings to visitors.  The exact same applies to your online store.  To drive more traffic to your website you have to be found on the 1st page of Google search, 2nd page at a push.

There are  2 main ways of doing this:

1)         Pay Google to put you at the top of the 1st page.

2)         Use a few of our simple SEO tips to appeal to the Google algorithms and push you to the top organically. Where are these Tips I’m talking about? Keep reading.

1.Social Media

Nova touched upon the relationship between SEO and Social Media in our blog post ‘Social Media & SEO A Match Made in Heaven’ where we emphasized that your page ranking can be directly impacted by your Social Media presence.  There are numerous reasons why Social Media is so great for your page ranking.  Firstly, it is a great platform to promote Specifically the more ‘shares’ you have the higher Google will rank you, and the best way so make it easy to share is the key point here.

Google’s newest algorithm update ‘Hummingbird’ specifically looks at the standing of your Social Media presence. Rather than backlinks it would seem Google is actively more interested in the amount of ‘Shares’ your FB page generates as well as the popularity of your Google + page.

2.Interesting Content

This follows on well from Social Media I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, genuine interesting content is vital to a successful SEO campaign. Remember one of Nova’s key rules:

If Content Is King Then Conversion Is Queen

The two go hand in hand. If you generate good content and put it out there conversations will start to happen. Google bots will pick up on the new interesting additions to your website as well as the ‘Shares’ ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ that come with it, all of which ticks Google’s SEO boxes pushing your website up in their page rankings.

One of the best ways to do both is by regularly updating a Blog page on your website. Now we’re not talking once a week every week, but just once a month a 500 word post offering a genuine insight into your industry and what you do as a company can significantly help your SEO ranking.

3.Webmaster Tools

If you are serious about increasing your Search Engine ranking and I mean serious then you have to get to grips with Webmaster Tools. I use Google Webmaster Tools as it works well with Google Analytics. Where Webmaster Tools aid help you is in pointing out problems on your site that cause Google Bots to send negative SEO readings back to Google. Once rectified it will give you a positive SEO boost. So where Analytics tells you about the visitors you’re already attracting, Webmaster Tools helps you attract a whole new group of visitors.

4.Get more mobile friendly

Google have just reported changes to be initiated in the USA which will hit the UK soon.  Now Google will highlight when their algorithms find a website that is not mobile responsive, this will have the negative effect of encouraging people to avoid your site.  This then has a knock on effect on your page ranking and so should be a serious consideration when creating or re-developing your website.

The fact is Google prefers responsive web design not just for you, but for them also.  It’s more efficient for Google bots to trawl through the site, additionally if your site is repsponsive therefore combining your desktop and mobile site onto one URL it makes the site easier to share and for people to engage with.  If a visitor is unhappy when trying to view a mobile site on a desktop it creates a higher bounce rate causing problems for Google’s external link algorithm which will then harm your SEO.

5.Change the way you think about keywords

Previously Google focused on the words used in a particular search to evaluate the keywords you use in your site.  Now Google will also be looking at the intent of the searcher and will look to predict the answer of their next searches dependent on a previous search.  For example if you were to search “Who is Jennifer Lawrence?” then it will come up with her Wikipedia and IMDB pages.  If you were to then search “What films has she been in?”  then Google will presume that you mean Jennifer Lawrence and provide you to links about The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.  To get to grips with this new SEO style start thinking about the subject of your website, what information it provides and where your service is located.

Do you have any great tips for increasing your Page Ranking?

What do you think of Google’s developments?

As always we would love to hear from you! Either in the comments section below or Tweet us @TheNovaAgency

 

5 Things You Never Knew About Google

By | Business, General, Technology | One Comment

google-featurebp

1. Google was originally called BackRub

I know what you are thinking, that we are making it all up. ‘Backrub?! BACKRUB?! Why on earth would a SearchEngine Company be called BackRub?’

But it is the truth, even Google states it on their official ‘Our history in depth‘ page. But why BackRub you ask? Well according to Wikipedia, always a valid source, one half of Google’s founders Larry Page conducted a research project on the importance of backlinks when analysing a web page. That research project was nicknamed ‘BackRub”. They then then created the first version of their soon to be infamous Search Engine under the name BackRub. Why exactly was it called ‘BackRub’ we hear you ask? Well it could be a simple reference to the importance of backlinks or to take that further the idea was that the more links you have the more important your website working on an online version of “you rub my back and I’ll rub yours”.

The answer is, we’re not so sure.

So there you have it Google was close to sounding more like a massage clinic. They preferred an even geekier name – ‘Google’ a play on the word “googol” a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros . . . Or something along those lines.

2. Google Spends $72 million a year on employee meals

Yes you are reading that correctly. When it comes to providing sustenance for their employees Google way ahead of the rest. According to Employee cards Google provides 2 meals a day for their employees but if other sources are to be believed employees are usually getting 3 meals a day provided for them. If accounts are correct Google has at least 9,600 employees based around the US, they are open 251 days a year which would work out at around 600 meals per year. If you then do the math (as Sillicon Alley Insider has) it works out to roughly $72 million being spent every year. Just. On. meals.

Tracking down to see if any employees have piped up and indeed they have (although whether they do work for them we aren’t entirely sure) claims to have their laundry done for them and they make the workplace ‘fun’. Perhaps a more reliable source, another commentator who claims to supply provisions to Google states that Google provide massages for their employees. He even goes as far as to say that Google is “one corporation which takes care of its people and shares its wealth with those who help to make it so.”

Whether the extra commentary is true or not, one fact remains Google does provide free food for their employees quickly making it, bar Nova, the best place to work in our eyes.

3. Google indexes 60 trillion individual webpages

As of 2013 Google indexed 60 Trillion individual webpages. That’s 60 Trillion. Individual. Webpages. Going by American Measurements of 1 Billion = 1,000,000,000 and a Trillion being one 1000 x 1 Billion then:

1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000

If that still doesn’t blow your mind there are currently 7 Billion people on this planet. That means there are roughly 8,571 webpages for every single person alive.

And it’s never going to stop growing.

4. Search Actors name then Bacon number and it will tell you how many steps they are

This one was a favourite discovery in the Nova Office. If you’ve seen the Kevin Bacon Ads where he promotes EE’s high rates of connectivity and wondered why on earth he was chosen for the role it’s because Kevin Bacon is connected to every actor by ‘6 degrees’ or less. He has been in such a variety of films with such a wide range of actors that he is loosely connected with every single one.

Amused/impressed Google decided to add an algorithm where if you search any actor’s name and then finish with ‘Bacon Number’ it will tell you how closely connected he is with that actor.

For example:

BP 30.07.14

Will this help you grasp the internet better? Will it encourage intellectual growth? Probably not on both accounts but will it fill some time/help you waste a few hours? Definitely.

5. Google Searches All Of Your E-mails

This one edges into ‘Big Brother’ territory in an uncomfortable way. It would seem that Google searches through your e-mails using a process known as ‘content extraction’. This is where all incoming and outgoing e-mails are scanned for keywords to facilitate target advertisement towards that user. A bit like what Facebook does on a daily basis.

Furthermore Google Earth has been cited for breaching personal privacy for perhaps showing too much detail about those living at the homes shown in the street view.

Google however, remains strong and refuses to backdown to groups who believe it truly is breaching privacy laws.

Would it stop you from using Google?

So there you have it, 5 things you didn’t know about Google. Some of these facts may help you, some are just nice additions to the current ruler of search engines.

As always we would love to know your thoughts! Do you know anything about Google that we haven’t mentioned?

Tweet your facts to @TheNovaAgency or comment below!