5 e-commerce Site Design Trends for 2016

e-commerce Site Design TrendsOnline shopping has become a regular affair today. Almost everyone shops on the Internet, not only during the holiday seasons when online retailers offer huge discounts but throughout the year. According to Commerce Department estimates, annual e-commerce sales in the U.S. totaled $304.91 billion in 2014, almost 15.4 percent up from the previous year. The fourth quarter i.e. the holiday seasons sales accounted $95.98 billion, which represented 31.4 percent of the total eRetail sales in 2014.

In its recent report, the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce estimated that the U.S. eRetail sales for Q3 2015 was $87.5 billion, up 4.2 percent from this year’s second quarter e-commerce sales.

But what makes people click the purchase button?

Well, it isn’t easy to answer. From pricing to usability of your e-commerce site, a lot of factors can encourage your visitors to make the purchase. But one thing is extremely important – the overall look and feel of your online store. The design of your e-commerce website affects your business in more than one way. To begin with, it obviously affects how your customers view your brand. In addition, your website’s design also affects the user experience, which again, affects your sales directly.

e-commerce Web Design and Sales

A 2006 study by Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, & Brown indicates that it just takes 50 milliseconds for a user “to develop an impression of a website and decide whether he or she likes it. If your users feel that our e-commerce store is difficult to navigate, requiring tons of clicking they will abandon your site sooner than you imagine. In fact, users can even abandon your online store if they don’t like the theme or color of your website.

The design of your online store is therefore as important as any traditional brick and mortar store. The layout, the navigation, the look and feel, everything affects your sales. Attractive online store design has always been a key factor in determining the store’s sales and marketing as it increases your products’ perceived value to your customers apart from making your website seem more trustworthy.

One thing with e-commerce website designs (just like any other website design) is that the trends change almost every year. In 2016, for example, online stores are more likely to look alike as designers are now employing similar user interface design patterns and card-like layouts to the e-commerce sites. The popularity of these design trends is most driven by the higher usage of mobile devices. Studies indicate that more than 50 percent of all e-commerce traffic come from mobile devices. In 2013, one-third of all holiday season e-commerce purchases were made using a smartphone.

eCommerce Web Design and Sales

The user interface design patterns that designers are now using work well on both mobile devices and desktop computers, making the online stores truly responsive. As a result more and more designers are incorporating these patterns to provide convenient and similar shopping experiences across devices.

The following are 5 e-commerce design trends that you should keep your eyes open for in 2016.

1. Flat and Material Design

Flat and material designs have similar design style, although they differ in certain aspects. Both the designs are trending right at this moment. The key reasons for their popularity are as follows:

  • You can easily adopt them for responsive sites
  • They are content-focused
  • Provide a young, fresh look to your website

Both the designs have minimalistic style that highly appeals to users in terms of accessibility and simplicity. For one thing, both flat and material designs provide a gimmick-free feel. Combined with vibrant and bright colors, these design patterns reflect the true essence of young brands like Google, Dunked and Needle in Seattle.

Flat and Material Design

Although they look very much alike to the untrained eyes, difference lies in the details. Besides, they both have certain pros and cons that you need to consider when settling for one design over another.

Flat design, for example, is a great option if your users are highly attuned to digital interaction. Material design, on the other hand, allows you to communicate and response to your users’ actions. It basically attempts to combine the real and digital worlds and is essentially multi-dimensional, even though it is aesthetically flat. It is an evolution of flat design and more robust in nature.

But keeping aside the debate regarding flat design vs. material design, we will be seeing a lot of e-commerce websites implementing these design patterns to focus on UX.

2. Responsive Design

Responsive web design is here to stay, thanks to the growing trend of mobile Internet usage. This is definitely a good news for online retailers as responsive design provides a rather affordable and simple way for businesses to create an effective mobile-friendly site that also improves user experience.

In fact, responsive web design is more than a trend now; it is a best practice, especially after Google released its Mobile Friendly update in April 2015. It is therefore quite obvious that more and more websites, including online stores will become responsive in 2016, if they haven’t already. Now, this isn’t happening just because Google says so; responsive design is highly compatible with minimalism, helping designs to keep the page weight down. In addition, it works well with other popular design trends like cards and car-like layouts when it comes to fit the screen size.

While this design is versatile, there are certain things you need to consider to provide optimum user experience. Your responsive e-commerce store should be lightning fast across all devices. Performance remains the biggest issue for many. It is therefore recommended to apply performance testing in order to measure and optimize your e-commerce store effectively for each device and screen size.

3. Card Design

Card Design

Card and card-like layouts are trending for one simple reason. It allows you to add and organize amounts of content with little or no effort. The card-like boxes are used to encapsulate text, images and resources. e-commerce websites are highly leveraging this design pattern not only because it allows them to add huge amount of content, but is also pleasing to the eye. A bonus – card design is extremely easy to use. Users can check out their options with an immediate glance. And as mentioned earlier, card design works really well for responsive themes.

This design pattern has just started heating up and isn’t going anywhere soon. Rather, quite the opposite; it will be much more prevalent in 2016 and beyond especially in the e-commerce landscape.

The popularity of cards and card layouts was largely driven by their inclusion in Google’s Material Design. Microsoft too is jumping onboard in order to stay relevant. In addition, many websites, e-commerce and otherwise, are using card designs. Coca-Cola’s “Ahh” campaign and Pinterest are the two most popular examples. Some e-commerce examples include Adidas, Lord & Taylor, Watb and Belk etc.

4. Parallax Scrolling

Parallax scrolling or long-scroll pages are nothing new. The technology was initially used in 2D games and has been extended to business websites, especially e-commerce sites in the recent years. In fact, this design trend gained much momentum in 2014 and hasn’t lost its charm yet. But why parallax scrolling?

Statistics indicate that users spend 76 percent of their browsing time in scrolling. It is, in fact, great for capturing your visitors’ attention quickly, to ‘wow’ them. It allows designers to:

  • Guide visitors through storytelling model, which has gained a lot of popularity lately
  • Show 3D model using movement, page depth and animation
  • Create timelines to provide a fun and very visual presentation

With the popularity of m-commerce, clicking is fast becoming a thing of past. Hand-held devices are designed in such a way that users find it easier to scroll down pages for a seamless content experience. And the smaller the device’s screen is, the longer the page scroll would be. This is the basic theory behind parallax scrolling sites.

Parallax scrolling also reduces the loading time and information is presented in a storytelling format, further enhancing user engagement. It is easier to navigate the store, which in turn increase your chances of generating sales.

When it comes to designing, sites implementing parallax scrolling usually have one larger home page linking to other similar kind of pages. Some sites are also opting for one single long page, aided by infinite scroll. However, they aren’t recommended for e-commerce sites.

Using parallax scrolling technique along with scroll-triggered animation and Ajax/jQuery techniques, designers can really get innovative with the setup. Being such a dynamic technique, parallax scrolling sometimes challenges designers to look for more creative and innovative methods to leverage this trend.

Further advancements with CSS and JavaScript are opening new opportunities for designers. More and more businesses are embracing this technique, especially after market players like Facebook and Twitter adopted this style, breaking the ‘above the fold’ stereotype. Many leading e-commerce sites are also implementing this style including Porsche, Sony and Fitbit. Other e-commerce sites that did a brilliant job with this technique include Ditto, 47 Brand, Neronote and White House | Black Market.

Parallax Scrolling

You can refer to them in order to emulate their style but remember that just like any other design style, parallax scrolling too has its drawbacks. So choose wisely and consider its advantages and disadvantages instead of following the trend blindly.

5. Interruption Merchandising

Interruption merchandising. A fancy name for something we are already familiar with. Remember the pop-up advertising! Of course you do, who can forget those annoying online promotion? In the 1990s the so-called pop-up advertising were first introduced; when you click at them, albeit mistakenly, the ads and sometimes the entire website opened in new browser windows every time. Worse still, many of them were deceptive and you never know what will open.

I hated them; in fact, most consumers hated those irritating pop-up ads. It was therefore no surprize that pop-up blocking services became commonplace soon enough and shortly after, web browsers too started blocking them.

But why am I talking about pop-up advertising once again? Because, they are making a comeback. And quite interestingly, interruption marketing is now being embedded in website design. This design trend is using the pop-up as a model. Online retailers are using them to offer special discounts and in exchange asking you to subscribe to their email list and/or follow their various social media profiles.

Interruption Merchandising

The reason behind this comeback is obviously email marketing. For online retailers, email marketing is one of the most powerful tool to reach out to their target audience. More number of email subscribers means more visitors and more chances of getting sales. Online retailers understand this very well and therefore use any means to attract more subscribers (read sales).

These pop-ups and interruption merchandising will become a common sight in 2016, especially for online stores. Many of the top retailers will start leveraging them, although selectively. This means, these pop-ups won’t be showing up every time you visit the online retail store. Sometimes, it will be displayed only when you take a specific action such as scrolling or when you attempt to leave the site.

Some of the brands that are already using modals on-site effectively include Ann Taylor, COS, Big Lots, AQ/AQ, Taylor Stitch and Pretty Little Thing. There are several apps to help you set up a pop-up seamlessly to promote your email subscriptions.


There are some e-commerce website design trends that are fading fast, while others are here to stay. Designs that further aid consumers’ mobile shopping experience are specifically hooked for long as the popularity of mobile Internet usage is likely to increase even more in the coming days. As a result, more and more online retailers will be focusing their e-commerce design strategies on those platforms to stay relevant. Minimalism, simplicity and clarity will play key role in the year ahead. But before jumping onboard, make sure they are best for your users. After all you following some trends blindly only because they are ‘in’ at the moment isn’t your goal; you should rather strive to provide the best possible user experiences to your consumers.

Image Source: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Services your startup must provide to be successful

 small business strategy

We’ve all heard the stories of the successful startups which turned entrepreneurs running them into billionaires over the course of night. The truth is that such businesses make very small, if negligible number of startups. The rest are faced with the harsh reality that, according to recent survey, nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first year of their existence, and 95% do not live long enough to see their sixth year. It is obvious that if startups want to find their place within those fortunate 5% they have to invest a lot of hard work, and avoid beginners’ mistakes which would potentially destroy them. Let us then address the latter set of responsibilities and see what kind of basic services startups must provide in order to be successful.

  1. Quality Product or Service

Managing quality is the most important ingredient in one startup’s success story, if not for any other reason, than only because your customers expect certain amount of quality for the money spent. Failing to deliver this promise can only hurt your reputation and decrease customer satisfaction. Keep in mind that quality is also associated with consistency, so it is very important to maintain the same quality standards that made your customers happy in the first place. If you are not able to keep up the pace of your startup’s growth always insist on quality over quantity. You will be able to charge more for the products, which will compensate for the lack of covered ground. Your primary foothold will, however, remain uncompromised.

  1. Reliable Customer Service

Customer service is the way how some company handles issues in stores, by email, or over the phone. In other words, customer service covers all the touch points between your company and its current and possible clients. Mishandle this aspect of your business, and everything else you have done well will fall into the second place to the bitter taste your customers feel while dealing with you. Avoid that by sticking to these few rules:

  • Be available. If you are not there for the customers when they need you the most, you may as well lose them forever. Therefore, you should do your best to open several channels of communication and stay available 24/7.
  • Offer knowledge and services. Being there covers only the essentials of good customer service, though. Being useful and offering free knowledge and free services is a whole other case.
  • Comply with the deadlines. Or in other words, do not give the promises you are not able to keep. Offering the realistic deadline is less harmful than failing to resolve some issue in the promised time.
  1. Safe and Simple Online Shop

As the time goes by, people tend to spend more and more money purchasing online, and for a good reason too. Online shopping is faster, more convenient, and sometimes even cheaper than the traditional one. Still, these benefits count only if your online shop is easy to use, and safe. So, if you want to kick-start your business, and instantly appeal to the 3 billion people using internet today, make sure you have an online shop which is optimized for access from mobile devices, easy to navigate, transparent, and of course reliable. Handling all of these issues can be somewhat demanding, but you can always visit some website where entrepreneurs and experts share their insights and knowledge, like ProOpinion blog, and exchange the experiences with other professionals in order to avoid learning on your own mistakes.

The fact that only 5% of startups outlive their first five years of existence may sound frightening at first, but it also further proves that success is achieved only through hard work and careful moves. Get the handle of the three services we mentioned above, and you will create a great foundation for both of them.

Guest Author: Nate M. Vickery

Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant from Sydney, Australia. He is mostly engaged in providing entrepreneurs and small business owners with management and marketing advice. He is also the editor in chief on Bizzmarkblog.com.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post. Please do leave a comment.

5 top tips to maximise your online Christmas sales in December

boost online christmas salesChristmas is knocking at the door.

We are already a few weeks into the key Christmas sales period but if you aren’t fully up and running with your Christmas promotions quite yet, then don’t worry there is still time to give those seasonal sales a bit of an extra push. This week ShopIntegrator takes a look at how your small ecommerce business can maximise sales with some easy to implement tips.

Online sales predictions for 2015

If predictions are correct 2015 is looking like another booming year for ecommerce in the UK. Researchers forecast 12% market growth and £116bn will be spent online. With many retailers creating over half of their yearly sales and profits in the three months prior to Christmas, making the most of your online presence is paramount. Indeed, according to the Centre for Retail Research last year in the UK online retail accounted for almost one-quarter (23.4%) of Christmas spending with online sales rising from £14.93 bn (2013) to £17.37 billion in 2014 – a very healthy growth of 19.5%.

5 tips to maximise your online sales this holiday season

The great news is that according to National Federation of Retailers 20% of us don’t intend to start their Christmas shopping until December and actually the busy day online isn’t Cyber Monday but the Monday or Tuesday a week or two before Christmas. So implementing a few tips now could still help boost your profits over the Christmas period.

1. Jolly up your website

First stop is your website. When potential customers arrive at your site you want to keep them in a Christmas frame of mind. Adding some appropriate seasonal graphics and images will help create the right environment to promote your Christmas products. Take a look at Tiffany’s home page. It creates the perfect environment for its brand at Christmas.

christmas homepage

Having a separate Christmas page that showcases the products that make great gifts works really well. Helping customers with the decision-making process is essential so spend some time categorising products into relevant groups. For example:

  • Gifts for Her
  • Gifts for Children
  • Gifts for Teenagers
  • Gifts for Him
  • Gifts that Sparkle
  • Gifts for Food Fanatics
  • Stocking Fillers.

Not only will this inspire customers, it can push them along the road to making a decision. For a successful example checkout notonthehighstreet.com’s christmas page.


online christmas sales


2. Spread christmas cheer on social media

Social media is a great way to communicate with your customers during the Christmas season. As a marketing tool it is low-cost and a very quick way to get your message across. Use social media to inspire with creative gift ideas, highlight any special offers and promotions and communicate helpful information such as reminders about key christmas delivery dates.

And don’t forget social media is the perfect channel to spread some Christmas cheer amongst your customers. It’s a chance to be a bit lighthearted and tap into all the seasonal excitement. Try running a festive contest, create christmas mood boards, share seasonal quotes and offer handy Christmas related tips and advice. To build engagement further open up discussions with fun questions like ‘What was inside your Santa’s stocking when you were a child?”.

Pinterest is all about the visual so a strong presence works particularly well this time of year. Create special Christmas boards and pins to showcase your wares.

Here are a couple of Pinterest examples from notonthehighstreet.com and Stella and Dot.

pinterest christmas boards



christmas pins on pinterest


3. Open a yuletide Facebook StoreOpen a Facebook shop

Think about opening a Facebook store in time for Christmas. With over 1.55 billion monthly active users it’s an excellent way to introduce an additional sales channel for your seasonal products. The great thing about a Facebook store is that you can strike whilst the iron is hot. Rather than having to whisk engaged customers off to your website to make a purchase you can sell to them directly off your Facebook page.

It doesn’t take long to set up a Facebook page either. Checkout ShopIntegrator’s guide to opening a Facebook shop.

4. Ho Ho Ho your emails

Get busy with your email marketing this christmas. Email is an essential part of a small business owners marketing toolkit. Flexible and cost-effective it one of the most effective ways communicate with your customers this season.

Gift ideas. You’ve probably already categorised your gifts on your website so now is the time to use email to inspire customers with your gift ideas. Here is a great example of an email I received from online clothing retailer Boden that does just that.

Boden: It’s just not Christmas without new pyjamas

christmas email

Countdown: Creating a sense of urgency in your emails as Christmas approaches is a great way to encourage conversion. Try sending out emails that count down the shopping days until Christmas.  Here is a fun and creative example from gift retailer notonthehighstreet.com.

notonthehighstreet.com: Nine more sleeps till the unwrapping starts

urgency emails

Last minute shoppers. There will always be a healthy proportion of shoppers who will leave everything to the last-minute. Offering guaranteed delivery a few days before christmas is very attractive to just such customers. Just be absolutely sure you can keep that delivery promise!

Sending an email to  customers reminding them of your last posting dates to guarantee a Christmas delivery is a good way to encourage those who are thinking of making a purchase to get on and do it.

Seasons greetings to your customers. After all the sales promotion emails it is a nice idea to send out a little christmas spirit  to show your customers you appreciate them. Sending out an e-card to customers and suppliers adds a personal touch and reminds then that they are important to you.

discounts, coupons and voucher codes5. Happy holiday promotions

At such a key time of year online businesses are all competing to win customers. A great short-term sales tactic way to boost your seasonal sales conversions is through offering special holiday promotions such as online vouchers, discount codes and e-coupons.

We all love to feel we’ve got a bargain especially during Christmas when it feels like money is literally flying out of our wallets. Special offers such as online discount vouchers can help encourage us to take our shopping cart to the checkout – especially if there is a deadline looming for the discount.

There are all sorts of variations you can use – popular ones include:

  • Free delivery and returns
  • Buy one get one half price
  • Save 25% 
  • Spend over £100 and get £10 off
  • 3 for 2 offers

Just remember if you are offering discounts to make sure you have done your sums first  and have read the guidelines laid out by the British Code of Sales Promotions and Direct Marketing.

Hopefully we’ve given you a few easy to implement ideas to help give your ecommerce sales a bit of a boost during what we hope will be a busy and profitable season for online businesses.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on maximising sales at Christmas. So please do leave  a comment.



8 Tips to Save Money for your Start-Up

how small business can save moneyAfter the personal computer boom in the 1970s and 1980s followed by the Internet bubble that burst in the early 2000s, we are undoubtedly in the midst of another digital technology boom. Instead of computers and the Internet, this time around the focus is on mobile apps, videos, and games that are revolutionizing our way of life – just think of how crowd-sourced services like Uber and Airbnb alone have changed the meaning of travel!

If you are one of the eager entrepreneurs who want to participate in this exciting new era, you have undoubtedly faced one of the greatest challenges that every start-up knows all too well: funding. No matter how small or big your company is, there will never be enough money; but especially in the early stages of a new company, you have to find ways of save money and use whatever funds are available wisely.

Let’s take a look at eight tips to save money for your start-up.

1- Contractors

All of us would love to have a full-time staff, but this is not realistic and a potential waste of money when you are just starting out. Instead, try to fill as many positions as possible with part-time contractors and only use their services when you really need them. Make sure, however, to comply with any labor laws the state you do business in might have in place, because there is a fine line between part- and full-time categorization.

2- Templates

Use templates wherever you can instead of hiring people to create things from scratch for you. This includes templates for websites, e-commerce stores, social media marketing, business plans, as well as legal and accounting.

3- Legal and Accounting

Speaking of legal and accounting… even though attorneys and accountants can be expensive, you should not shy away from hiring them early on. They will be your left and right arm making sure you stay out of trouble. Many start-up lawyers and CPA’s are open to equity in exchange for no or lower fees – for a certain amount of time – as they understand that you are cash-strapped in the beginning. Treat them like potential investors; the more they believe in you and your idea, the more they will help you.

outsourcing4- Outsource and Delegate

In the global environment of the 21st century, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go beyond national borders. This is especially true for positions like “virtual assistants,” who can help you stay organized so you can focus on essential matters, or tech and app developer companies in the Middle East, where talent is plenty and fees are lower.

5- Advisory Board

Establishing an advisory board is the perfect way to secure big industry talent, who believes in you and your team, but cannot commit to your company full-time. Also, you won’t even be close to being able to afford their salaries. Inviting someone to become an advisor to your company in exchange for a small amount of equity (usually between 0.5% – 2%) gives you access to their invaluable network of industry experts who can send you clients or other business without charging commission fees.

6- Sales

“Commission Only” can be two magical words for any start-up, because it ensures salespeople that they will be paid for their work –  just not up front. In other words, for every deal they close for your company, they get commissions ranging anywhere from 5% to 30% depending on what you think is fair and fits your business model. Once your company has established revenue streams, you can transition to “base salary plus commission.”

7- A/B Test Marketing Strategies

Before spending your entire marketing budget on promotional experiments, make sure to A/B test campaigns, slogans, images, videos, and other marketing materials on a small scale to see what resonates with potential customers. Then, you can slowly start increasing the marketing spend on strategies that created the best results.

strategic partnership8- Strategic Partnerships

You are not the only start-up company out there; but you might offer a certain service or product that others need and don’t have. And chances are, they don’t have much money either. So seek out other start-ups and vendors who could be complimentary to your company, but instead of paying them in cash, offer them your services in exchange for theirs.

The overall goal for any start-up is to keep overhead costs as low as possible, because with any long-term commitments like salaries or office rent, you will run the risk of losing money that you need to grow your business.


Guest Author: Nick Rojas

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this article, so please do leave a comment.

Outsourcing image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How small businesses can use Google’s Keyword Planner to support SEO

google keyword plannerChoosing the best keywords and keyphrases for your small business is an integral part of successful Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and driving targeted traffic to your website. Keyword research can help you with on-page optimisation and the creation of relevant, high-quality content. We take a look at how to build a useful list of keywords with the help of Google’s free Keyword Planner tool.

Keyword research

Keywords and keyphrases are essentially the words people type into search engines when they are looking for a particular product or service online. With SEO you are essentially optimising your online presence to try to rank higher in the ‘organic’ (non-paid) search engine result pages (SERPS) for searches closely related to your business. Of course there are all sorts of elements involved in how search engines rank businesses on SERPS but keyword research is central to helping you gain better ranking and ensuring the right people are linking through to your site.

Obviously a good understanding of your business, industry and customers is essential and will lay the groundwork for successful keyword research. Essentially keyword research is about identifying the words and phrases prospective customers use and then having your business rank on those particular SERPS. Start by thinking about what is at the heart of your business. For example;

  • What do you do?
  • What is your business about?
  • Who are your prospective customers?
  • What are they interested in?

Don’t be afraid to ask for other people’s opinions such as suppliers, existing customers, friends and family. Other points of view can give you a fuller and more accurate picture.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool

Once you have a starting list of keywords related to your business you can utilise free tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to help you build up your list. These tools can help generate keyword ideas and provide estimates of monthly search volumes for specific keywords of phrases. With some time and experimenting you can build a useful lists of relevant, optimised keywords to implement online.

Google Adwords is really designed for pay-per-click advertising (PPC) but its Keyword Planner is also a great free tool for small businesses and start-ups to use to help with their keyword research. To get started you just need to register for Google Adwords. Google Support provides helpful step-by-step advice to using its Keyword Planner that will guide you through getting up and running. Alternatively another article I found really useful was from SEOMARK which takes you though the process step by step and is written specifically for those not using Adwords for PPC purposes.

However, in a nutshell, once you’ve logged on to Google Adwords:

  • Click on the drop-down ‘Tools’ menu and then select ‘Keyword Planner.
  • Click on ‘Search for new keyword and ad groups ideas.

google keyword planner

You can now start getting keyword ideas and getting a feel for the kind of volumes particular keywords of phrases bring in.

  • Type some of the initial keyword ideas you came up with that described the fundamentals of your business into the ‘Your Product and Service’. In the example below I’ve typed in ‘handmade  silver jewellery’.

Google Adwords keyword tool


  • Click on ‘Get ideas’. Then change the tab from ‘Ad Group’ to the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab. This is the screen you should see:


google keyword planner


  • This will provide you with the average monthly search volume for the keywords you entered.
  • Underneath is a list of similar keyword suggestions from Google.

Keep experimenting with keywords and phrases to help build a useful list of relevant keywords. You can build specific keywords lists for each page of your website.  The average monthly search volume will give you an indication of a keywords usage.

Use keyword planner for Longtail keyword ideas

Don’t forget about investigating long tail keywords as well. These are usually phrases of 3 or more keywords. For example ‘silver jewellery’ is a very broad term, the monthly results may be high but the quality of traffic may be poor with conversions low. A long tail keyword is longer and can be more specific to your business for example ‘handmade stirling silver necklaces’. The search volumes will be lower but it is more targeted and the quality of your visitors may be better, which in turn may result in a higher conversion rate.

Making the most of your optimised keywords list

Once you’ve researched and created your keyword lists you should put them to good use to optimise your online presence and target your content marketing. This will help towards your SEO efforts.

1.Use your keywords to optimise your web pages. keywords on-page optimisation

Ensure that you utilise your keyword lists to include relevant keywords and phrases for each individual page.

  • Pages URL: Create a short, explanatory URL using keywords that accurately reflect the content of the page.
  • Title Tag: This is the headline for your pages search listing and appears on the top of your browser. It is really important to include strong keywords here – the general consensus seems to be to aim for about 55-60 characters.
  • Meta Description: Like Title Tag, your meta description doesn’t appear on your page but on the search engines results page. It is essentially additional copy reflecting the content of your page. Try to make is compelling as possible using appropriate keywords and phrases from your keyword list.
  • Body of content: Use relevant keywords naturally in the context of your copy throughout the page.Whatever you do do not ‘keyword stuff’ search engines will spot this and it will work against your rankings.  Essentially if you aim to provide, relevant, interesting and engaging copy for your prospective customers you won’t go far wrong.
  • Images. Adding relevant ALT attributes to your images help the search engines identify what your page is about.

2. Wider content marketingkeywords content marketing

Use your keyword lists ideas to generate interesting and compelling content for your prospective customers. In addition to on page optimisation, use keyword research to hone the content of your blog articles, press releases, infographics, white papers, news articles and social media. Search engines love unique, high quality, fresh and engaging content. Utilising your keyword research will only help you in your SEO efforts.

Hopefully this has given you a bit of insight into the important part the right keywords can play in organic search and where your business ranks. Undertaking keyword research is a really beneficial exercise and there are some great free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner that can help you build a useable list of optimised keywords and phrases for your online business.

We’d love to hear your thought and experiences on this, so please do leave a comment.


How social media is defining customer service in a digital generation

Customer service is a custom that costs nothing, but in value is priceless. It’s often a defining process of a transaction, for better or worse. It can also be argued that Social Media is also a defining component of this digital generation. So surely businesses must be aware that utilising good customer service properly on Social Media is imperative to achieving optimum business success? Well, it actually turns out that there is a huge percentage of businesses that aren’t prepared to view Social Media customer service as a priority, and a lot of them are ignoring customer inquiries and complaints on this medium entirely; much to their detriment.

From taking too long to reply, to not replying at all, the infographic below shows many ways in which businesses are losing customer interest and gaining a negative reputation simultaneously. According to the studies carried out, 6 out of 10 people are willing to name and shame a company to taint the brand via social media. With 1.15 billion registered Facebook users and 215 million monthly Twitter users, that’s a tremendous amount of people that can potentially affect a business negatively, whereas if you have an employee dedicated to customer service on your social media page, a lot of people can be appeased and kept as customers; not to mention also showing your audience that you are active and relevant in the online business world and that you’re willing to help your customers.

Over 15% of businesses lost customers and over 11% of businesses lost revenue due to poor customer service via Social Media. Yet despite this, 1 out of 4 companies have no protocol for dealing with customer complaints on social media and 1 in 4 have no plans to develop a protocol in the future! Don’t let this be your business!

Want to find out more? Read the infographic below to find out the sector that garners the most customer complaints, and all the other current and vital statistics on customers and businesses outlook on customer correspondence on Social Media!

The infographic below shows just how social media is affecting customer service.

How Social Media Is Affecting Customer Service Infographic

Guest Author: Stephen Avila

Stephen Avila is a lawyer of 13 years who specialises in law and media work. Currently the director of Legalo and based in the Suffolk area, Stephen is interested in all aspects of law, digital marketing and content writing. Enthusiastic and entrepreneurial, Stephen is always looking to help others however he can with legal and marketing advice.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this post. Please do leave a comment.

How LinkedIn can benefit small B2B and B2C businesses

linked-in social networkMost of us probably think of LinkedIn as the go-to social network for B2B businesses, professional networking and recruitment. Certainly at first glance it’s not the obvious platform for small businesses and B2C focused companies. However, with steady year-on-year growth and 380,000,000+ registered users LinkedIn can offer  your business some real benefits.

“51% of B2C companies use LinkedIn as a marketing platform (far more than the 35% who use Pinterest).” LinkedIn Pulse 

More and more businesses are using  social media as an integral part of their marketing strategy. So too are consumers with 52% using two or more social networking sites. LinkedIn is a key social networking platform and so we take a look at how small businesses can profit from a LinkedIn presence.

linked-in statisticsDon’t dismiss the numbers: LinkedIn statistics

380 million registered users in 200 countries

2 new members every second

3 million company pages

1 in 3 professionals are on LinkedIn

35% users access LinkedIn daily

LinkedIn has over 1.5 million groups

93 million monthly unique visits 

How can small businesses benefit from LinkedIn  ?

LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to strengthen your brand, extend your reach, support your content marketing efforts and better understand your market. You may already have your own personal profile (as we mentioned earlier one in three professionals does!) but LinkedIn also encourages smaller businesses to build a company presence. They offer helpful tips and advice about how to set up your company page and make the most of your businesses profile. Check out LinkedIn Small Business .

extend reach and drive trafficExtend your reach

When we think of LinkedIn we tend to think ‘business people’ but remember professionals are consumers too.  Of course you may need to adjust your tone and content to reflect a more business orientated environment but LinkedIn offers you an additional platform to reinforce your brand, drive traffic to your website and generate new leads. It provides the opportunity to reach potential new customers who may not be preset on other more ‘consumer’ orientated networks. Research shows that:

13% of LinkedIn users are not on Facebook

59% of LinkedIn users are not on Twitter

83% of LinkedIn users are not on Pinterest.

brandingBuild your brand

LinkedIn provides an additional channel for you to raise awareness, reinforce your brand and increase your business’ visibility. To do this, creating a strong Company Page is essential.

When you out together your Company Page think about how to best optimise your presence.  Use high-quality images for your logo and banner and think carefully about the keywords you choose for your description. You can also create separate Showcase Pages that link off your main page. You can have a number of different standalone showcase pages (up to 10 initially) that allow you to highlight particular products or services. To create a Showcase Page click on the ‘Edit’ drop down to the right of your company page and click on ‘Create a Showcase Page’.

You and your employees should also have up-to-date Personal Profiles pages  connected to your company page. It will help further promote your business and your brand personality.

Content marketingSupport your content marketing

LinkedIn offers a further channel to support your content marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website. You can post content through Status Updates on your company page. To make the most of your presence post interesting content regularly and where appropriate include a URL link back to your site. For example try sharing industry updates, blog posts, company news, new product launches, Videos and infographics

Research shows that 60% of LinkedIn users are interested in industry updates, therefore when you are sharing updates do bear in mind that what you might post on Facebook may not work as well on LinkedIn. Choose content relevant to the LinkedIn environment.

Don’t forget to try to include eye-catching images with your updates. High-quality visual content will help increase engagement.

LinkedIn Pulse is another way to raise your profile and help establish you as an expert in a particular industry or field. Pulse is LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Although you can’t currently publish articles off you Company Page you can publish them from your (or your employees) Personal Profiles page. If you are interested in posting a blog article checkout this helpful video on ‘How to publish blog posts and articles on LinkedIn Pulse’.

networking on linkedinNetworking

Networking is central to success with LinkedIn. It will help you connect with potential customers, industry influencers, third-party suppliers and potential employees.  Keep active on LinkedIn through regularly sharing interesting content, following relevant companies and professionals, always responding to comments, reviews and queries and joining LinkedIn Groups.

Networking can help build leads for your business. Indeed, research from HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated their best visitor-to-lead conversion rates – three times higher than Twitter or Facebook. There are over 1.5 million LinkedIn Groups so chances are you’ll be able to find one relevant to your business sector and of course if you want you can even set up your own group.

balloons-874838_640Market research

LinkedIn is an excellent way to gather market intelligence. Joining groups can help you collect useful insights into your target audience and stay abreast of industry trends.

LinkedIn is also a great way to keep on top of competitor activity. Check out their company pages. What are they posting? Who are they following? How can you differentiate yourself?

Learn from other business outside your industry as well. Take a look at out the top sites with LinkedIn Best Company Pages 2014 and check out this link from the Content Marketing Institute for some great examples of how B2C brands are doing it.

Hopefully this article has shown that LinkedIn isn’t just for recruitment and B2B companies. Small businesses, including B2C, can also benefit from a presence. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences using LinkedIn for your business, so please do leave a comment.