Why does Google Prefer Responsive Web Design?

There are currently 4 billion mobile phones in the world. 1.08 billion are smartphones.

That number is expected to double within a few years.

The emerging economies of China and India have been unprecedented in contributing to the growth of the international smart-phone market in 2014. Google Android One is a smart-phone valued at around $US105 targeting the Indian middle-class market providing a reliable and affordable way for the next billion people to access online platforms.

Samsung was knocked off its top spot as the market leader in China for the first time in 4 years by local handset provider Xaomi, who was also able to realise the potential of targeting the emerging middle-class.

With E-Commerce becoming an increasingly global trade, and mobile becoming the dominant medium, usability needs to be the number one priority for ensuring a positive user experience.

What is responsive web design?

A responsive design simply means a website that has been constructed so that all of the content, images and structure of the site can be viewed optimally on any device.

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Why is it useful to your consumers?

Zooming and shrinking texts and images on a screen? Opening a mobile only website on a desktop? We all know how frustrating this is.

Studies have shown that 61% of users will immediately leave an unresponsive website rating it as a negative user experience and 67% more likely to purchase from the website if it is a positive experience.

A responsive design is easier and more convenient for users to read and navigate, when there is just one URL and HTML, it is much easier for your consumers to share, engage and interact with site content.

Google Prefers Responsive Web Design

It is more efficient for Google’s bots to crawl through your site and then index and organise all the content that is online, opposed to attempting to index multiple versions of the exact same site.

Google also realises that unhappy people will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank on mobile searches. This creates an issue involving Google’s external link algorithm and on-page errors.

Which in turn, also harms your SEO.

Mobile responsiveness is not a new concept in digital marketing… check your device breakdown in Google Analytics, and update your websites today before your competitors take your customers tomorrow. 

ENDING THE WAR BETWEEN DATA AND CREATIVITY

Fact: Split Testing is scientifically proven to be incredibly useful for content optimisation. Yet there are currently 2.5 million Google Analytics users that are not taking advantage of this technology.

EyeQuant’s Fabien Stelzer spoke at Media Evolutions Big Ideas conference last week, addressing the ‘war’ that is brewing between the Creatives and Mathematicians, as data and marketing continue to align. Stelzer, like many others, believe that this is an cultural issue, with organisations failing to reconcile both arts into one cohesive strategy.

There has been a large amount of conversation circulating the marketing industry in the past months, concerning the changing role of marketers as ROI is increasingly easier to test. No longer is a marketing campaign approved on the basis of an audience’s emotional responses, nor is the expectation of an increased advertising budget correlated with a sales spike. Data analysis is becoming more and more integral to a marketer’s role as technology continues to offer new measurement solutions.

The 1950’s and 60’s in cultural America were a time of radical change with the election of America’s youngest president, space exploration and the social movement towards racial equality giving birth to a new generation of intellects. A wave of young art directors and writers from the Bronx and Brooklyn created a new breed of advertising based on energy, style, humour and emotion.

CP Snow, a creative writer and scientist identified this cultural change in 1959. He believed that the intellectual life of Western society was becoming increasingly split into two polar groups; The Scientists and the Novelists. Snow became aware that they were no longer talking to each other.

Today, in 2014, technology has advanced so far as to that we can now test nearly every design decision before implementation; for example, which call to action colour will produce the highest conversion rate for each segmented demographic. We have the ability to identify a digital user and change our website graphics to an interface that that users is most likely to positively respond to.

Stelzer talked about how Google actually lost one of the world’s most highly-acclaimed visual design leads to this issue. Doug Rhodes as a creative could no longer cope with the statistical analysis that his creative work was subjected to, with Google wanting to test each pixel and colour change for conversion optimisation. He was quoted saying “Design philosophy that is driven by data, lives and dies strictly by the sword of data.”

The biggest question we face in regards to this battle is to what extent do we test our creative design? How do we move forward as a society to become Scientific Dreamers and Iterative Painters? Many believe that the best strategy is to test small changes, such as Call to Action button colours, and heading change conversions, leaving analysis of large design changes to post design to encourage creativity in it’s purest instinctual form.

How is your company addressing this issue?

Update: Google Benchmarks Means Better Ideas

Google Analytics Benchmarking – What It Means For Your Business

We have always provided competitor analysis and best-case practice examples, but the immensity of information available through the new Google Analytics Benchmarks adds to everyone’s understanding of user behaviour. This does come with some caveats though, as not all the new data is as useful as it initially seems, as Eric explains.

 

What it tells us:

Benchmarking with Google Analytics acts as a relative strength indicator for your website’s metrics in comparison to similar websites.

As the user, you set the criteria for comparison, according to:

  • Industry (Eg: Finance)
  • Location (Eg: Australia)
  • Number of daily visits (Size by number of sessions)

According to these parameters, Google Analytics then finds the average numbers for sites that fit those specifics. In digital marketing, numbers can be very useful.  In this setting, numbers refer to all the useful things that Google Analytics already tells us about your website:

  • Where visitors come from (email, direct traffic, search engines, ads)
  • How long they spend on your site (session duration)
  • How many people take a glance at your site and then close it (bounce rate)
  • Which device most of your users use to access your website (desktop computer, tablet, mobile)
  • Age of users
  • Gender of users
  • Behaviour of users depending on various characteristics
  • Recorded interests of users

 

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It gives an overall perspective.

These are all numbers that we can find and utilise already.  What Benchmarking means, is that we can see what is working for comparable organisations and websites, and adjust accordingly.  The comparison view finds average numbers for these characteristics across the sample of websites that fit your parameters, and displays them right next to the numbers for your website.

Google Benchmarks

For example, if you run a financial services company in Melbourne, you can already find out which traffic sources are providing the best return on investment, and what your average user does on your website. While Benchmarking does not allow you to see the same numbers for industry peers, it does provide some benefit:

  • It allows you to see the average traffic source mix for industry peers

If the industry average social-media-driven traffic is 30% of all traffic to the website, and your organisation doesn’t have a Facebook page, maybe that is something we could talk about.

  • It allows you to pre-empt the effectiveness of new online marketing strategies before you decide to invest in them

If you run a construction company, and the industry average for social-media-driven traffic is 10%, this may not be sufficient to produce a viable return on investment in social media for your organisation.  It may be that not many Twitter users are that excited about steel-reinforced concrete.  That’s okay.  If it’s not going to work as well as other avenues, it is possible to check the viability of an initiative using Benchmarks.

 

Some things don’t matter.  

Be aware that there are some things that Benchmarking will tell you that aren’t really relevant. It is important to remember that behaviour metrics (like bounce rate and time on site) do not necessarily tell you all you need to know about the performance of the site.  For this reason,  be careful when using benchmarks to compare bounce rate, page sessions, and average session duration, simply because all websites are set up differently, and serve a slightly different purpose.

It is also important to remember that these Benchmarks are simply averages.  They are averages of the numbers experienced by websites in your traffic bracket.  This in no way implies that these numbers necessarily represent best-case practices.  For example, the averages will show a relatively even spread between all areas of a marketing mix.  A website is successful simply if it fulfils the purpose for which it was designed.  Different purposed websites will exhibit different numbers.  For example, an e-commerce site will aim for people clicking ‘buy’ and moving onto different areas of the site, more so than a website designed to act as an information hub.

Google Benchmarking Pie Graph

The marketing mix benchmark average for your website size and industry class will usually be somewhat evenly distributed between all channels.  This is not necessarily representative of a best case practice, nor is it representative of what will work best for your firm. 

 

This said, it is important to know which numbers are relevant to your website, and which are not.  It’s often easier and more efficient to let someone else filter these for you so you can put the numbers to work.

Being aware of competitors has has always been part of our method at Walter Analytics and Benchmarking will now feed into this.  Most users have Benchmarking tracking enabled by default.  It provides a large-picture perspective that can be very useful.

 

Contact us to understand how your website compares to your industry peers.

 

Is Your Data Collection Going to Waste?

Data is the future. 

Data, whether marketers are aware of it or not, is what drives all marketing decisions. As technology tracks more and more of our lives, data will be used in ways yet unfathomed. There are two quotes from a great book – Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz:

Know your customers better than they know themselves”

Know what they talk to their friends about, but more importantly, know what they don’t talk to their friends about.”

This is becoming more and more possible, not just through marketing intuition, but concrete data.  There will be more written on this in the education area of Walter Insights, but for now, let this serve as an introduction.

 

Application

The owner of a convenience store knows that people will buy more ice-creams in summer, so she buys more ice-creams to sell.  This is data at work.

The banks know that people who haven’t paid back loans to other providers will be less likely to pay back any future loans.  This is data at work.

The kid running the lemonade stand knows that more cars drive past after school and after work hours, so they make sure everything is ready to pour at 3 pm.  This is data at work.

All of this information is more exciting when you look at it like this than in a spreadsheet, but it’s the same thing. As a digital marketer, what you need to be aware of is the point at which intuition and common sense fail to provide insight.

  • What online behaviours are usually exhibited by an expectant mother two months before the due date?
  • How many times will a prospect search for online reviews before they buy a certain type of car?
  • Which age group from which location is most likely to buy insurance from your insurance company?

These are all questions that we can now find concrete answers to. For your business, it means that every single point of data you do not collect at every available opportunity is money sliding off the table.

 

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How to get started

Everything a user does online can be tracked. Everything the user does in relation to your website is free game to you, and should be gathered to the best of your ability.  The danger here is that the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming.  It is of no use to you and your business’s marketing efforts if the data gathered is unusable.  If it remains unprocessed and non understood, it cannot be integrated and utilised into your marketing strategy.

As your business and marketing strategies grow, it is important to talk to people who know how to handle and action this data.

Investing in people and the tools that those people need to be successful is key. But it’s the people who can understand that data that really matter.”

– Bryan Eisenberg

 

While it is ideal to acquire the best possible tools out there for your trade, bear in mind that the data collected by said tools are only as good as the people who acquire, analyse and process the data.

 

Contact us to see which data you could be collecting and using better.

 

Do I need to be worried about Google changes affecting my business?

SEO is often presented as being complex, and Google is this big unpredictable monster whom can chew up and spit out your website when it wants to. This isn’t true.

06042014-seo

While Google has made some major algorithm changes in the past two to three years, its guidelines about what makes a good quality website haven’t really changed. The core guidelines talk about having quality content, making your pages for users not search engines, and making your website accessible across devices.

For the full list: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

THEN AND NOW

The SEO industry has existed to maximise rankings on Google. Five years ago, maximising rankings on Google was obtained by deceptive spammy tactics including stuffing keywords on pages and making content more for search engines, not users. Large “link farms” also existed to link lots of low value irrelevant websites together, to pass some degree of “authority” to a target website.

If you hired an SEO company 3-6 years ago they probably did some sort of “link building” for you, that traditionally included using link farms, low quality directories and lots of websites linked together.

With developments in the software and Google’s algorithm, Google introduced two key updates to combat this: Penguin and Panda.

PENGUIN AND PANDA

Google Logo 2010Penguin focuses on identifying websites with low quality link profiles and penalising them. As a result of Penguin, millions of websites got hit and lost some or all of their rankings. Unfortunately for many webmasters, cleaning up a backlink profile that had many spammy backlinks is made more difficult because it usually requires the cooperation of the third party website.

Google Logo 2010Panda focuses on identifying thin content pages and pages that do not provide much value to users – including duplicate content. Panda hit sites hard that had gained rankings from having hundreds of pages to cover a wide range of search queries.

Recovering from these two updates is possible, but usually requires the help of an SEO company who specialises in link removal and content advice. Unfortunately, recovering from a Penguin penalty is much harder because it can be difficult to remove links without cooperation from 3rd party sites.

HOW CAN MY BUSINESS STAY ON THE GOOD SIDE OF GOOGLE?

If your website hasn’t been penalised, you can focus on doing clean “White Hat” SEO.

At Walter Analytics we recommend four things:

  1. Developing and executing a content strategy. This basically means that you want to be having relevant high quality content on your website and have a facility to add new content (such as a Blog) to remain relevant.
  2. Ensure your website is structured properly, takes care of on page SEO fundamentals and you understand what keywords are relevant to you. This includes accessibility, server speed and server configuration.
  3. Developing a natural backlink profile. In most industries, your business has often one hundred or more organisations you work with (such as suppliers, partners, government agencies etc.). Reach out and develop opportunities to get a link in to the appropriate section of your website where it makes sense. For many clients we have, this happens naturally through ongoing sponsorship agreements and other commercial partnerships.
  4. Have an SEO expert simulate a “crawl” of your website and identify any issues with indexing, or page visibility. A search engine spider sees your website in text only and due to configuration issues on your website or a lack of mark-up in code, important parts of your website can be hidden to search engines.

On a monthly basis, you can monitor your non paid search traffic on your website and rankings on specific keywords in partnership with an SEO company. We believe it’s important for clients to understand SEO and have ownership of how their website is found and accessible by search engines and users alike.

We’ve successfully helped clients understand how their website is being crawled by search engines and structure pages and implement a content strategy to obtain sustainable traffic and rankings.

Please contact us if you would like us to examine your website or have questions about any of the four points above.

 

 

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