SEO Plugins for WordPress – What to look out for in 2020

Getting traffic to your website is an ongoing battle faced by ever small and large business owner. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is a major tool in organically driving visitors to your website, but improving your SEO can be difficult when you’re not employing the expertise of dedicated SEO experts.2

The value of SEO starts with search results, as without a decent SEO strategy it is highly unlikely that your website will ever appear as a recommended search result. Our first tip, and one that has inspired much of this blog’s content, is to invest in WordPress. WordPress is a blogging website hosting provider which allows a number of Plugins to make your life easier. All you have to do is determine which Plugin is the most compatible with your vision.

So, as we strive towards 2020, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best SEO Plugins to look out for in 2020, specifically for WordPress.

Yoast

Yoast SEO is one of the most valuable Plugins on the market, with over 5 million downloads on a global scale. Simply by looking at this one figure you should already be recognising the popularity of Yoast SEO – and for good reason. Yoast handles a wide range of aspects across your WordPress site’s SEO, including meta date for both homepage content and individual articles, a detailed sitemap that is automatically shared with different search engines, social media optimisation, blog post readability and more.

And best of all, the basic Yoast SEO plugin is a free download for WordPress users, and has been built in a way that is perfectly user friendly for anyone – even complete beginners. Of course, there is a paid for upgrade version as well which includes a few additional features, but the basic plugin does more than enough to help you see results. So, what are you waiting for?

Schema

Schema is what we call a rich snippet plugin. A rich snippet is additional content that pops up as being immediately interactive, for example user reviews. Generally rich snippet content is visually presented and highly compelling, not only enticing potential customers but also enabling search engines to see exactly what your website is about.

Of course, adding rich snippets is only one part of improving your online presence, and in order for that additional content to be viewed you still have to have a solid SEO strategy, but with Schema – All In One Rich Snippets, you have the freedom to create a number of different types of content: from reviews to events and videos. Schema supports the creation and use of rich snippets, and is a goldmine of great content once you’ve got your head around how to use it.

Broken Link Checker

Managing a frequent series of blog posts can throw up unprecedented problems with links. As your site grow, the number of links your site is managing grows; including both internal and external links in line with all those SEO tips that advocate the use of external links within your blogs. Well, that’s all very well, but what happens when things start to go wrong?

The Broken Link Checker Plugin does just that – it checks your content and flags up any broken links or missing images; tracking any broken comment boxes or edited URL’s that can damage your own links. Why is this important? Search engines can identify if your site is full of broken content and links, and this can impact on your SEO negatively. WordPress’s Broken Link Checker makes sure that doesn’t happen – so you can just sit back and enjoy creating content.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics for WordPress has millions of installations, with the Monster Insights version attracting the most popularity in recent years. This is because all of your Analytics content can be viewed from inside your WordPress dashboard, making the process very user friendly and streamlined – connecting the GA plugin with your WordPress site automatically.

There is both a free and a premium option for the Google Analytics plugin, with the free version providing you with the bare minimum of data you may find useful. The paid option delves a lot deeper into your website activity and as a result becomes a lot more valuable in tracking site visits.

AMP

AMP deals mainly with mobile optimisation and the problems that arose when sites began to create content especially for mobile. Though mobile optimisation seemed like the most important thing at the time, by creating great visual content for mobile the site creators began to impact on their response time. The more content is on the mobile page, the longer it takes to load – and the bounce rate went through the roof. The answer? Accelerated Mobile Pages.

AMP was created to optimise the loading of mobile pages, using specially created HTML code to make the page load faster. By downloading the AMP plugin for WordPress, you can rest assured that your website content will become quick and user friendly for those visiting your site on a mobile device. And with its user-friendly interface designed for website owners as well, using the AMP plugin will improve the experience for you as well as your customers.

EWWW Image Optimiser

If your content relies on text, adding images and infographics is a must-do to liven it up. Not only do these reflect well on your SEO, but they also help your website to retain the attention of readers. The trick is to make sure that visually engaging content isn’t impacting on your web page load time.

The EWWW Image Optimiser was designed to optimise images whenever you upload a new one, to make sure it only takes up the amount of space it needs to across your site – with no limit on how many images it will upload. When you choose to download Image Optimiser, it will also give you the option to optimise all your existing images across your website – an added bonus that means you don’t have to go through and manually edit every image.

Jetpack by WordPress

This one was made by WordPress themselves, and is in fact a culmination of a number of other plugins you may have downloaded throughout your time as a WordPress user. Able to complete several tasks simultaneously, Jetpack covers SEO tools, analytics, site management and performance optimisation, image loading, site backup, security, and much more.

A bit like an umbrella that sits atop all the other plugin experiences, Jetpack updates itself on a regular basis to ensure you always have the up to date new features and big fixes.

All in One WP Security and Firewall

Added security is something we recommend investing in wherever possible, and All in one WP is one of the best. Guiding you and site across everything from password strength to Google reCaptcha, this plugin gives you live updates on the security strength of your website and takes ownership across a number of important areas that could otherwise be vulnerable.

W3 Total Cache

In 2020 users are growing increasingly busy, with little to no time to wait for your website to load. Google and other search engines are also evolving to recognise site speed, and it is fast becoming the element of your site that you simply cannot ignore. W3 Total Cache serves as a page store for each individual user, ensuring that each time they open a page there is no need for the page to reload completely.

For this reason, enabling page caching is probably the most important feature to note when you setup this plugin. In short, the cache is a form of memory that stores the pages visited. It ensures quick load time for all devices, delivers all the content to a high quality, and is compatible with different types of hosting.

Ultimate Nofollow

For every link you include on your website, Google will backtrack to find out exactly where it came from and why you have linked it on your own site. And when you add in a link, selecting the Nofollow button will make clear to Google that your webpage ranking should not impact that of the link’s target. In short, you are telling Google that the link destination should not benefit from your site’s SEO.

Doing this in WordPress is a little more challenging than on any other site as there is no automated option, but the Ultimate Nofollow plugin provides an extra check box to your profile when adding new links.

Of course, all of the above Plugins cover very different areas of your WordPress site, and depending on your market and target audience, it is likely only a couple of these will be relevant to you. The thing to remember is that plugins actually can make your life a lot easier – and the millions who already use them serve as great advocates for their value. Trust the masses and start delving further into understanding your WordPress site and the options available to you.

 

Domain Name Fame – 10 of the most expensive domain names

For those who aren’t sure what we mean by domain name, this refers to the URL that appears in the search bar when you land on a certain website. Like Google.com, Facebook.com, and BBC.co.uk, this is what people need to remember to type into the URL bar when they want to find your website, so ensuring the domain name is short and punchy is fundamental to a successful website.

The problem is the quantity of websites out there. Finding a unique domain name is tough, particularly when you are in a sector with lots of competition. You can forget the generic URL’s that you might have wanted – to find something unique as we approach 2020, you have to think outside the box.

But this article isn’t here to tell you what to do. This article is to inspire you – so without further ado, here are 25 of the most successful, and most expensive, domain names ever.

Introduction

It is worth noting that many of the organisations involved in purchasing and selling the most expensive domain names, do not want actual figures revealed. From wanting to keep their competition at arm’s length, to wanting to retain their financial anonymity in the public sphere, there are many reasons to keep these numbers quiet.

But their want is not enough, and for the last few years the health of the domain name market has become public knowledge.

Cars.com

Cars.com is the most expensive domain name that has ever been sold – coming in at just under £700 million. Of course, if you think about it, something as simple as “cars.com” could refer to any number of things, leaving the clever people behind this domain name with the users looking for rental cars, new cars, used cars, taxi cars, and everything in between.

If you’re looking to earn that top spot and invest in a great domain name, GoDaddy’s domain appraisal tool enables you to test the value of each domain name related to your business – using old search history and location to test the effectiveness.

CarInsurance.com

Another car one – slightly more targeted perhaps, but still worth a hefty £40 million on the market!

Insurance.com

Closely following its car-specific counterpart is the more general “Insurance.com”, referring to everything from home insurance to car insurance, life insurance and more. Insurance is something everyone has to deal with at some point and so this generic domain name serves as an umbrella over a massive chunk of the market. That’s probably why this domain name is worth just under £30 million.

VacationRentals.com

As we approach 2020, jobs are getting busier and annual leave is becoming more and more valuable – or at least that’s how it seems; particularly when we look at how much the domain name for Vacation Rentals fetched in. At a whopping £28 million, “VacationRentals.com” solidifies our love of a holiday home.

And the rest…

Counting down from the number 4 spot it is easy to spot a common trend in the most expensive domain names – and that is their generic nature. Perusing the list, it is easy to identify why these domain names have sold for the most – simply because the sheer volume of traffic they will be receiving from generic search terms must be huge. After all, for someone who doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for, a generic search term is the easiest option.

  1. PrivateJet.com
  2. Voice.com
  3. Internet.com
  4. 360.com
  5. Insure.com
  6. Fund.com

You can check out your own domain name’s worth by entering it into NameBio.com, or using the dedicated GoDaddy tool to valuate your domain name.

Fishing for Phishing Emails & How to Spot Them

Phishing emails are often so ridiculous that you naturally pass the by without a moments’ though – probably on a daily basis. Unfortunately, however, there are many unsuspecting victims who can fall for these fraudulent messages; opening the phishing emails and sometimes even following the actions recommended within the message.

Though there is not “one size fits all” response to dealing with these phishing emails, there are a few different ways in which we can identify them – and help others as well.

Check the URL

If the message contains links to websites or other sources, spend a minute hovering over them to check the validity. Often a phishing email will contain mismatched URL’s, so the hyperlink will appear differently to the address displayed. If this is the case, the message isn’t real.

Misleading Domain Names

To understand this one, there is one simple trick you need to remember. If a domain name is linked to a legitimate site, the page you’re looking for will appear before the owner site. For example, info.domainname.com is perfectly legitimate, while domainname.maliciousinfo.com is not.

Please do note that these are dots and not forward slashes, as the forward slash should rightly be at the end of a web link as a page from the original site. If it’s a forward slash you’re safe, but a dot should always be checked.

Silly spelling and grammar errors

Phishing emails are often created by robots or simply by people who don’t have the competency to check their spelling and grammar thoroughly. If it contains silly errors, it’s probably not legit.

Be careful about personal information

In May 2018, every company was forced to become GDPR compliant. As such, any email you receive that asks you for personal information needs to be checked – because it most likely isn’t what it says it is, and if it was then that company would be in serious trouble.

Is it realistic?

This could well be a matter of opinion, but if the offer seems too good to be true then perhaps it is. If the message makes some wild and big promises, and doesn’t appear to be from someone you recognise, it’s probably not real.

Are you expecting it?

If you get an email saying you’ve won the lottery, despite never having brought a lottery ticket in your life, common sense points us towards this being a scam.

Are they asking for any sort of money?

It might not be today, or even next month, but eventually a phishing email is likely to try its luck and ask you for money. If all the other tell-tale signs haven’t thrown up a red flag yet, this one is sure to make you think twice.

Do they threaten you?

One of the most common kinds of phishing email makes claims against you and then tried to blackmail you into giving over personal information or even money. If the threats are unrealistic and you are being accused of something you haven’t done or aren’t in any way linked to, it’s a phishing email and should be blocked.

Does it look on the surface like it could be from the government?

If they’re pretending to be a government agency, they’re not. These kinds of organisations don’t just email you out of the blue, so you can rest assured that if they claim to be from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies, they’re trying to trick you.

It doesn’t feel right

The last one relies on your gut instinct more than anything – and that is this, does it feel right? If not, trust your instinct and ignore the message. The worst that can happen is a legit message has to contact you again because you ignored the first one; but better that than falling for a phishing email.

Web Design Trends 2020

As we approach 2020, we are starting to see some obvious trends appearing across various sectors – not least the online world. Website design is one of the areas that has inevitably seen the most change in recent years, as we take technological leaps towards the future of online; both in terms of practicality and design.

In response to the threat of a new year and predictions coming in from all angles, this article deals with some of the most obvious trends we can expect to see in 2020.

Adaptive Design

Adaptive design refers to the ability to enjoy a website – from any device. Being adaptive quite literally means adapting to suit all manner of devices, meaning the content has to alter its format in line with the size of a screen. For example, a black of photos on a laptop screen may become a single file line of photos down the page of a mobile device – increasing user readability.

One of the most important things to look for in an adaptive design is an edited Menu design, with an obvious menu button and easy-to-use menu list.

Notifications

If you sign up for something, it’s likely that your phone will pop up with an automated message asking you about allowing push notifications. If you’re anything like us, you typically say no – if only to avoid the constant stream of notifications that apps and games can send to you every single day. However, in 2020 the notification trend is set to rise, with users acknowledging the value of certain apps telling you when something is about to happen or when an important news story hits the headlines.

Motion Design

Motion design refers to short videos – known as GIF’s – which allow users to interactively engage and explore something they mat be interested in. GIF’s are especially useful when compared with more standard videos as they take up less space on the webpage and result in much quicker load times, keeping the user engaged and preventing them from clicking away in frustration. However, it is also worth noting that GIF’s are typically small bits of video content and will not provide an in-depth exploration of your product – for that you may well need a video.

Video

On to the more standard videos now, and despite the rise of GIF’s, video content is still set to increase in value as 2020 approaches. After all, if a video interests us then we are likely to watch to the end – just look at the sheer number of views on the Facebook videos all over social media. The content is nothing special, yet the interest is peaked and users tend to watch to the end.

Users like relevant, simple and minimalistic videos that provide the information they need without extreme explanations or lengthy introductions.

Robo-Chat

This one comes back to AI – something we all know is coming! Artificial Intelligence sounds quite frankly terrifying, but the chances are that the invention of AI will make life easier for many of us, if for no other purpose than they can screen user questions and provide an engaging FAQ feature. Chat Bots have been created to mimic a real conversation, using built-in responses that have been pre-determined by real humans. These responses are instant for users, with 24/7 service and an ability to help with basic issues regarding the website.

They may not completely replace human interaction, and there will still be users who want to talk to a real person, but for now their value is set to skyrocket.

Interactivity

People like to interact and feel like they are getting real value from a site, so the more interactivity present the better. This could cover everything from videos to animations and much more!

Minimalism

This might seem pretty contradictory considering we just covered interactivity, but minimalism is often as effective as things that keep users actively engaged. Minimalism involves a simple user experience in a number of ways, including the design, colour scheme, volume of buttons and graphic details. It’s easier to understand, it’s more user friendly and it gets the job done – perhaps quicker than your average site.

What’s on the Out?

As well as increasing popularity for the above trends, there are a few things we are likely to say goodbye to in 2020. One of these is in line with our final trend, and that is complex design. The more complex the design, the harder the site is to navigate – and that’s simply not good enough anymore.

Another feature we can wave goodbye to is background scrolling – whereby the background of the website would change as you scrolled. This typically meant longer load times and quite an annoying pause as the background took a few seconds to catch up – unacceptable as we enter 2020.

The Rise of Chatbots in 2020

When you enter into a chat room on the business website to ask a question or request further information, you will face one of two results: a 2 hour wait for the next available human agent, or a chatbot. Similarly, when you call a helpline, you’ll soon find yourself humming along with the hold music until you finally get connected – unless you seek help with the automated chatbots.

In truth, at present we see chatbots as more of an obstacle than a solution, as we try our hardest to get past them and through to a real human who might actually be able to help us. However, with 2019 coming to an end, experts are starting to predict a real rise in the number of chatbot-led interactions we can expect with businesses. And while we may see them as annoying robotic and unhelpful, the truth is that chatbots are not only consistent but also provide round the clock service and can store endless information.

So, with that being said, how will chatbots be used in 2020 and what should we look out for?

“Chat” bots

A very literal application of the term “chatbots” – we are likely to see a rise in voice activated assistance, much like the popular Alexa application. This will enable you to speak to the bot and have it talk back.

Conversational bots

Conversational bots take the above one step further, and will allow bots to not only answer basic queries but also engage in opinionated conversation.

Improved messaging

Despite the anticipated rise in speech-activated interaction, messages will still be the best way to communicate with bots and will be improved and extended to include text messaging as well as emails and online chats.

Business setting

Used to seal and deal and monitor business deals around the clock, bots are the future of 24/7 business as they provide a service that never stops. 2020 is sure to see business bots increase in activity and prominence as the business world engages chatbots across the sector.

AI meets Chatbots

Chatbots driven by artificial intelligence are the closest thing we have to a realistic human robot. These chatbots analyse data to predict or anticipate what a customer may need, leading them to the right solution before they have even fully articulated the problem.

Mimicking real talk

Chatbots are programmed to understand certain forms of communication, as such are seen to struggle in the face of accents and unrecognisable languages. However, with businesses becoming evermore global and expectations for global optimisation at an all-time high, it is going to become increasingly important that chatbots understand natural language.

Customer Insights

Customers are set to enjoy chatbot interaction far more as we enter 2020, mainly due to the rise in customer insight data that is presented to chatbots. Bots will be able to trace the path a customer took to land with them, thus using this data and the customer’s interests to interact with them in a more personal way.

Increasingly human

The problem remains that we, as humans, prefer to interact with other humans – particularly when we have a problem. In 2020 however, the increase in AI driven chatbots will enable the bots to become increasingly human in their interaction and activity, hopefully providing customers with the level of humanity they desire.

Adaptive Chatbots

An adaptive chatbot can take the data given and present valuable solutions that match the setting and sector it is working within. This currently requires a great deal of manual updates, taking up valuable employee time and resource. As we approach 2020, however, optimised and adaptive chatbots will start to take over – reducing the need for human input.

Call Centres

In 2020, automated call centres are finally set to become a reality – and it’s all thanks to AI-driven chatbots who can work 24/7 and acquire enough intelligence to assist customers towards their end goal.

Chatbots are on the rise and, with the promised changes and improvements that will be coming in 2020, any and every business should consider investing in one.

Harnessing The Power Of Online – The Side Hustlers Guide

The foundations of a successful side hustle are built in your spare time; working around the daily demands that life throws at you. As such, a truly successful side hustle requires time management and commitment – and some helpful online hints. That’s what we’re here for.

Project Management Tools

First up, organising your demands and ensuring you have a handle on what you need to be doing. Keeping track of clients is all very well when you have a small business and a targeted client base, but as your side hustle grows it can be easy to lose track of promises you’ve made and workflows you’ve taken on.

There are a number of online project management tools that you can use to your benefit, ensuring your time is planned out to ensure maximum productivity.

One of the most popular is Trello – a one-page planner of sorts which allows you to create as many Job Streams as you like. Splitting your commitments into smaller chunks can help it seem more manageable, and Trello’s addition of useful tags allows you to easily highlight which jobs are Urgent, which are Ongoing and which are New Business. Trello is a visual way of presenting your tasks, and each individual entry is moveable. Another great feature of Trello is the ability to add multiple team members to each card, and even assign responsibility to individual people.

The other project management tool that’s worth a look is Asana – an online cloud software system that enables users to schedule tasks, plan how different project demands fit together, and – perhaps more usefully of all – quickly identify overlaps in your schedule.

Invoice Tracking Tools

Creating invoices is fairly straightforward if you have access to simple software such as Microsoft Word, but that doesn’t make it any easier to keep track of which invoices have been sent out, paid, and are still outstanding. That’s where online Invoicing Tools come in.

There are several free tools that you can find online to keep your finances in order, allowing you to keep client information safely stored in one location and presenting summaries around how much you’ve earned.

Invoicely is the first of these free tools. You can personalise your profile with company logos, personal information and an area to store your client details. The homepage dashboard enables you to see pending and paid invoices all in one place, and the quick and easy invoice creation feature sends out invoices automatically – with clients able to pay via Stripe, PayPal, BACS and more.

Payment Processors

Working hard to create a successful side hustle is all very well, but ensuring you get paid is one of the most important parts of success. Collecting payment can be a challenge, and that’s why presenting as many convenient options as possible is always preferable to, for example, only accepting cheques or cash.

There are a few payment processors out there that can link to your mobile device for payment on the go, linking seamlessly to your side hustle website – making direct payment quick and easy.

Stripe is one of the most popular as it allows you to accept payment online or through a face-to-face transfer. There are of course fees included with each payment, and Stripe tends to take an average of 3% per transaction – but without hidden fees you can rest assured that the rest of your money really is yours.

Stripe also sends out receipts to your clients and includes features that show you how much money has been received over a specific period of time.

The Power of Apps

If you’re a side hustler who’s constantly on the go, time management apps are probably a good idea for you – particularly if you work and are paid by the hour. Hubstaff has both a free and a paid version of the app – but even just using the free version will allow you to track your time effectively to make sure your hourly invoicing is correct. If a client puts you on a budget, Hubstaff will help you keep track of that – telling you the amount of time to spend on that specific project and ensuring you don’t go over.

The extra features such as payroll software and team scheduling come with the paid package, and can be an excellent investment if your business looks set to grow.

Another good app for time tracking is Toggl. Toggl has a focus on watching how you spend your time, featuring one-click timers and tracking reminders that will make sure you keep to your allotted schedule for each job.

With an overview summary board available as well, Toggl encourages users to view reports on the efficiency of your workstreams, helping you establish where you can save time and make more money.

In short, planning your time around a growing side hustle requires some dedication – there’s no escaping it. But you don’t have to go it alone, and it doesn’t have to be entirely manual. With so many apps and websites available to support you with all areas of your side business, keeping on top of your workload has never been easier.

Getting The Most Out Of Google My Business

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly what their users and potential customers see in the search results listings. With a dedicated account that is solely used to influence Google search information, users can manipulate this data and supply information that their customers might need – including open hours, a contact number and photos of services or products.

Of course, another important feature of this is your location. By setting your location, you’re enabling potential customers in your area to search for what they need – and what you can provide – and be directed straight to your door.

So, how do you optimise this information to ensure that it is actually seen by the right users?

Get your foot off the starting block

The first step is, of course, to create your Google My Business listing, and fill in as much information as you possibly can. If your business doesn’t have a physical location or base, that doesn’t mean a Google Business account isn’t important – you can simply skip over the location and instead opt for a Service Area which allows users to see where you operate your services.

Pick the right Category

Picking the right category is how Google will narrow down searches towards or away from you. The categories already exist, so it is simply a case of selecting the one that most applies to you and your business – but don’t just pick the first one you see that seems relatively appropriate. The list of categories is large and quite specific, so make sure you pick the very best one for your business.

The importance of imagery

The world is shifting towards image-heavy social media platforms and videos, so ensuring you have some great visual content for potential customers is a sure-fire way to attract their attention. Using high-quality and professional photos where possible, your profile should show off your products or service results to any potential client who seek more information. After all, first impressions are still the most important.

Double check your information

If your business has a Google profile, an Instagram account and a Facebook page, it is imperative that you make sure the information aligns across them all. Consistency is key, not just for your customers who may be looking for vital information, but also for Google – who will penalise you for inconsistent detail; resulting in a negative impact on your SEO.

Encourage Reviews

Online reviews are a minefield, and often companies and businesses can shy away from reviews simply because they feel people will only review if they had a negative experience. This is not, and should not be the case, as good reviews can actually seal the deal for one business over another in many cases. If a friend recommends a great restaurant, what are the chances you’ll visit that one over something you know nothing about? Exactly.

Think about your area – and area code

If Google doesn’t think you’re a local business, they won’t recommend you to individuals searching in your local area. Using a local area code is one easy way to prove to Google that your location is correct, and will make Google more likely to recommend and suggest your business to users in the area searching for your products and services.

Make sure you know what Google does and doesn’t like, and stick to it

Google publishes guidelines for Business listings, so take the time to read it and familiarise yourself with what NOT to do. For example, adding keywords may be a good thing and you may think you need them everywhere, but inserting them randomly into your business name can work against you. If it looks like you’re trying too hard, Google will suspect you’re not legitimate and you will be penalised. Another example is having a number of different listings all point towards the same business. You may think multiple listings means multiple chances of appearance, but all it means is that Google will punish you.

Don’t take your eye off the SEO-ball

SEO is still super important and ensuring your entire website works in line with your SEO strategy will go a long way towards giving both your website and your business listing the legitimacy that Google looks for. Make sure your keywords are relevant and present, and look to create content that focuses on your local area – as well as any wider offers.

What to expect from social media in 2020

2020 may seem like months away, but the truth is that as the evenings grow darker and the temperature drops, the end of the year is well and truly in sight. The new year brings with it many resolutions, lots of retail sales and discounts, and some exciting new developments for technology – especially social media.

Ever since the launch of Facebook over 15 years ago, the way we use the internet to interact with each other has never quite been the same, and it seems as though every month there is a new trend or social channel that’s got the young people hooked to their phones and devices.

So, with the promise of many more updates and developments, what sort of changes are we likely to see in 2020?

Privacy

Privacy and online security have become a far bigger threat in recent years, with so many different social channels available and the average user age dropping every year. Information is collected by these social media platforms and we are expected to tick a small box to acknowledge this – but do we know what it all really means?

Facebook have recently launched a televised advert about the importance of privacy settings and understanding what information is available to who – and in 2020 we predict be a much larger focus on being aware of your online security.

Video content

In a world where everyone wants everything immediately, reading a blog suddenly seems long and laborious. Why read a whole article when you could learn the same information in a one-minute video?

Video content makes for a great and memorable marketing platform for many small businesses, and as such has seen an incredible rise in usage recently – from video ads to GIF’s that we send privately in messages. Facebook and Instagram have even upgraded to allow for automatic video playing – what more reason do we need to assume video content is set to grow even bigger?

Augmented Reality

Carrying on the technical branch, augmented reality is set to rise very soon – as the new and more sophisticated older brother of virtual reality. While virtual reality creates something entirely new and makes you feel like you’re in it, Augmented Reality is an extension of what is already there – adding extra elements to existing experiences or images. The most basic explanation of this is the filter features you see on Snapchat and Instagram – being able to alter and add props to existing photos and screens.

It will simply be able to do more

In short, social media will be able to do more. Facebook and Instagram recently extended many services into online shopping channels, and social media is fast becoming people’s go-to when they want local news and gossip. So much so that very soon we anticipate social media becoming the main news reporter across the board. Promoting engagement and sharing, people are continually reporting that most of what they know about global issues comes from social media – and this is set only to increase as these channels grow.

Of course, the risk of fake and highly opinionated news is prominent if you rely entirely on social media for your daily updates, but on the whole social media channels do a good job of filtering the real from the so-called “fake news”, and can even tailor stories just for you based on your interests and location.

Specialised search engines

If you’re looking for a video or audio example of something specific, you search in YouTube. If you’re looking for a certain person or business, you might use Facebook. If you’re looking for a particular company or organisation, you could use LinkedIn. Becoming more like modern search engines is the direction that many social media channels seem to be moving in, promoting the search function and allowing users access to as much information and predicted search terms as possible.

Influencers

As social media grows, so too does the barrel of influencers who specialise on each channel. Of course, with so many smaller businesses opening their doors and their websites every single day, influencers are a valuable asset in terms of endorsements and effective consumer marketing. With such high demand, 2020 is likely to see the rise of influencers gain even more traction – and even more competition!

Personalisation

The more personalised and specific your marketing is, the more of a buzz you will generate among your users. Personalisation is already all over social media, but the challenge remains that with the increase in privacy and security, gaining the information needed to create a unique and personal experience on every channel could begin to be a problem. How social media channels deal with this will be interesting to look out for – watch this space!

In short, 2020 will be a big year of social media. A constantly evolving and always updating platform for marketing and online interaction, each channel has its own user base, its own demographic and its own benefits.

Each of the above trends exist in some form already, and how social media chooses to develop these in the next 12 months will certainly be an interesting one to watch.

Our top 10 SEO trends for 2020

The Winter months have well and truly set in, and with the end of 2019 fast approaching, it’s time to turn your attention to your 2020 strategy.

Keeping up with the constant developments is a never-ending job all of its own, and unfortunately the same goes for keeping up with the competition. The internet is an endless minefield of competitors all vying for attention from prospective customers and clients – and the best way to get this attention is via the global search engines.

But as technology and content information matures, so does Google. It is no longer enough to just write a great blog – now it has to work alongside and in partnership with a specific set of rules implemented by organisations like Google.

Without further ado, here’s 10 ways you can use SEO to harness Google’s attention and make sure your website features in those all-important top search results.

1. Consider featured snippets

When you Google something and wind up on a result page, generally the first thing on the screen is something called a Snippet. This literally does what it says on the tin, offering the searcher an extended preview of what they might find on that first site result – whether it’s instructions, tips or generic information.

To gain a chance at being the featured Snippet for any given search term, ensure you are answering the most common questions in clear and concise language. The Snippets receive a high percentage of clicks so it is worth spending the time tailoring your content accordingly.

2. Voice recognition and voice-driven searches

Our phones and smart devices are getting clever by the upgrade, with many now offering users a chance to search for anything they want – without having to tap a single button. While this has been attributed to accidental searches and even unintentional holiday bookings, it seems the powers of tech have honed and matured the technology to enable voice search to grow in popularity.

To work in partnership with this trend, you need to think about how people are searching using their voice – rather than their keypad. In short, the searches will be more detailed and keywords will become more conversational.

3. The growth of Artificial Intelligence

The majority of drivers may not be ready for driver-less cars yet, but artificial intelligence is on the rise and has recently become on of Googles most trusted advisors when it comes to user searches and search result algorithms. In short, the AI robots have learned what makes an article great; creating their own set of rules that we, as content creators, have to abide by if we want to continue to perform well online.

Does anybody know what these sets of rules look like? It’s all trial and error.

4. Online security

First GDPR and now this – if a user doesn’t feel that their information is safe when browsing your website, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that. Increased user security is a trend which is only going to continue to grow, and one which will influence our strategies for many years to come.

5. The power of the blue tick

Blue ticks have never meant more than they do today. A sign of status and popularity in the online world, a blue tag tends to mean that someone is a verified influencer – usually with an extremely large following and valuable networks.

Having one of these influencers endorse your brand is a priceless tool that enables your brand to be seen by networks and potential customers you couldn’t even dream of reaching before. Allow the social media trend to improve your website traffic and widen the reach of your content.

6. User experience

Remember the days when everything took minutes to buffer? We used to sit in front of the screen and watch the buffering wheel for days on end – but not today. Today, users want everything instantly, and if it’s not instant on your website then they will simply head to a different website that is. It doesn’t matter if you have great content – if the user experience isn’t exactly what they expect, you will very quickly find yourself losing valuable visitors.

Quick load times, an easy to navigate website, and optimised content for all devices – they’re all important!

7. Videos vs. Written content

Facebook has launched a new video viewing page which takes you straight onto another related video once your first one finishes. This subtle but clever way to introducing you to new content highlights how important video is becoming in the world of online content, as users are now just as likely to watch a tutorial as they are to read one.

Youtube advertising has never been so popular, and online videos are starting to take over and attract more and more interest – pulling viewers away from their television screens. Make sure your videos are optimised in terms of SEO, to harness the power of this ever-growing trend. Great keywords and descriptions can mean the difference between a viral clip and a video that falls flat.

8. Quality Content

A pretty simple one really. You can do all the SEO and tagging in the world, but without quality content you will never be able to retain potential customers. Give them value, well-researched information and clear calls to action! After all, in a world where everything is so fast-paced and temporary, your content needs to prove itself as informative yet entertaining; useful but also high quality and approachable.

9. Dwell time will increase in prominence

The amount of time someone sits on your website is about to become even more important to your SEO success. If a user is spending lots f time on your website, the search engine will know that the quality of your content and website is likely to be high – and this is going to become even more of an influential factor as we enter 2020.

10. It’s not going to be just about Google

Google pretty much owns the search engine world, with the phrase “Google it” being used to answer probably half the questions that are voiced by millions of people every single day. However, this could be set to change, as other search engines rise in prominence and give Google a run for its money.

This may mean that SEO requirements will differ particularly as different and new search engines work to attract users and gain support. We’ll have to watch this space to see what happens…

 

Unpacking the value of SEO

Unfortunately for those new to the game, SEO isn’t just a quick fix. It is in fact a series of tricks that work together to give your website the best possible ranking it can get in the eyes of Google. You may be thinking that the customer matters to you, not Google. But if you don’t get on the right side of the powers behind the search engines, there’s a chance that your customers won’t even find your website – let alone be able to rank it!

Having said that, it’s not like the search engines offer a guide to good SEO. In fact, they tend to keep quiet about the best way to steer SEO in a favourable direction, leaving us to figure out the algorithms and how to rank highly. So, without further ado, here’s a few of our top tips on how you can improve your own SEO on your website without hiring in experts and content creators.

Get to grips with Google analytics

Before you can truly understand which avenue your SEO should be going down, first you need to get to grips with your website’s current performance. Analytics will give you some insight into how people are currently coming across your website and how they are interacting with it, so that you can understand your website traffic and determine which search terms are leading people to you.

In essence, why are people coming across your website and what are they searching for to bring them to you?

Understand your keywords

The next step is to identify what keywords link your service to the people who are visiting your website. Write down all the words that you think are key to your business proposition and what you offer, and then use keyword tools to figure out how valuable those terms are.

Engaging tools such as Google’s free keyword planner are useful here as they give you some idea of how many searches each keyword has and how competitive the word is among other websites. It will also then provide you with some suggestions around keywords relevant to your site, to help you build out your list and bid on the words best suited in both yours and Google’s opinion.

Trust us, this will all help your website to rank better among its competitors, leading to increased website traffic and subsequently more business.

Optimise your website according to your SEO strategy

Once the keywords are established, your website needs to be brought up to speed. This involves implementing the chosen words into as many aspects as you can – NATURALLY. This is key. Making sure the sentences flow smoothly and that the keywords are well integrated is critical to ensuring a good ranking. If Google thinks it’s nonsense, you could be worse off than you were before you started.

Key areas to focus on include the web page URL, heading tags, image names and alt tags, title tags and your web page meta descriptions. A lot of this will be happening in the back end of your website and won’t even be something that is obvious from a visitor point of view. But Google is always watching…

Make sure you don’t lose sight of your content

Keeping the content relevant and up to date is vital for SEO. Not only do new news stories and blog posts give you increased opportunity to integrate those keywords to your site, but they signal to Google that your website is active and relevant in its field. Create high quality content that will interest your audience, and they’ll stick around to read it. If you start letting the content drop, you’ll swiftly see a corresponding drop in your website traffic.

Out with the old

Likewise, old content is pointless. Update your old content where necessary, and if it’s no longer relevant then simply scrap it.

Internal links

Google is a big fan of internal linking and proof that every area of your website is relevant to the overall industry you’re providing a service in.

Optimisation

In a world where most browsing is done on the go, ensuring your website is optimised for mobile usage is absolutely crucial – not only for your users but for your Google ranking. Mobile matters, and Google have recently revealed that the status of your website optimisation is a factor in ranking your site among its competitors. So, don’t let it fall by the wayside!

Site Speed

Much like the above, site speed is another thing that you think is out of your control but will in fact feature heavily in how your site is ranked. People care about how long it takes for a web page to load, and improving your site speed is something that can make a big difference in overall website satisfaction.

There are of course other things you can do to improve your google search results, and not all of them are changes to your own website. Promote your content in other places, for example on social media, through guest posts on other related sites and even in directories. If people think you are an expert of a particularly influential individual or organisation in the industry, play on this and ensure that everything you do online links back to your own website.

This is a strategy known as backlinking, and is another way of showing Google how relevant you are – by having other relevant websites link to your site. It’s like a recommendation without the direct endorsement, but for Google it is enough to show that your content is valuable and that your website deserves to be up there with the other strong contenders.