eCommerce is the exciting and fast-paced world of selling online.

Add HTTPS to Your Website to Help Search Rankings

Browser toolbar with SSL certificate

In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be used as a factor in search rankings

At first, webmasters saw little difference in search rankings and at that time only around 7% of page-one Google results used HTTPS. That figure has climbed dramatically in the intervening two years, and now around 30% of top-level Google websites are using HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?
HTTPS secures web traffic as it passes between the user and the web server. The traffic passes through an encryption process, meaning it is less easy to hack. This is particularly important when the user is sending confidential data such as name and address details or credit card data across the web.

How do I get HTTPS on my website?

To secure your website, you need to install an SSL certificate. This is a document that can be read by your web browser which is signed by an authoritative source, and giving a guarantee that the website belongs to who it claims to be, and ensure that traffic is encrypted as it passes through.

You’ll recognise the presence of an SSL certificate because:

  • The URL of the webpage will begin with https:// rather than http://
  • There will be a padlock icon near to the URL in your web browser
  • In some cases the padlock icon will also display the registered owner of the website

Is there more than one type of SSL certificate?

Yes. There are at least three levels of SSL certificate, and they vary widely in price. Here’s a handy reference guide:

Extended Validation (EV) Organisation Validation (OV) Domain Validation (DV)
Encryption Yes Yes Yes
Level of validation Thorough vetting of the organisation Some vetting of the organisation No company vetting
Right for e-commerce sites
Financial sites
Gaming and betting sites
Online banking
Membership sites
Forums
Social networks
Sites which collect customer data via forms
Static informational sites which collect no data
Price High Medium Low

What else needs to be done apart from installing the certificate?

Whilst your main task is to purchase and install the certificate, you’ll also need to do some housekeeping on your website to keep things working correctly and ensure you don’t lose any search engine rankings.

Firstly you’ll need to ensure that any requests on your site that come into the old http:// version of your site are correctly diverted to the new https:// version. How you do this will depend on the way your website is built. As all of your URLs will change, you need to ensure that the diversion is set up correctly otherwise you will lose search rankings. We can advise on how to do this.

Secondly you’ll need to ensure that all images, fonts, videos and other page elements that are contained in your web pages are also served via https://. Otherwise the padlock icon will appear broken or greyed-out. Again, this is a web development task that we can help with.

How much do SSL certificates cost?

The price will vary according to the strength of the certification. For DV certificates, expect to pay between £40 to £50 per year for your certificate. For EV certificates, expect to pay £150 – £200 per year. Installation costs will be also be required. Why not contact us for a quotation on the cost of adding security to your site?

Get SSL Quotation

How to Win at Local SEO for Free

How do you get your business to dominate Google local search results, to beat your local competitors on Google?

Read more

How Much Should I Bid for a Click on AdWords?

new google adwords logoYou’re probably keen to know how much it actually costs to advertise on Google. AdWords is an auction where you bid against other advertisers for a more prominent position. But how much should bid for a click? Or to use AdWords-speak – what’s my Maximum Cost Per Click?

There’s no one answer, because all businesses are different.

Auction hammer

In the great auction that is AdWords, how much should I bid?

One business – for example a lawyer – might have high-priced services with a small number of customers, and another – for example a hardware store – might sell low-priced products to many customers.

These two types of business are very different so the bid price for one click will be very different.

Nevertheless, there ‘s a simple formula that can help you work out how much to bid for a click.

Net Profit Per Sale x Conversion rate%

Your Net Profit Per Sale is the average amount that you make on any sale, after you deduct all your costs.

Your Conversion Rate is the percentage of people who click your ad and then go on to buy. Before we start our campaign we have to guess what the conversion rate might be – that’s where experience of running many campaigns comes in! Let’s assume a typical conversion rate of 1% – 1 in 100 people who click your ads go on to buy a will.

Now let’s work out your maximum bid price.

If you sell a will-writing service for £500 per will, let’s assume your Net Profit Per Sale on each will is £200.

So your Net Profit Per Sale * Conversion Rate is £200 * 1% = £2. Your maximum bid price for clicks will therefore be £2.

That’s just to break even, of course! You’ll want to make money on each sale, so perhaps a better maximum bid price would be £1 – giving you a clear £100 profit on each sale.

For more advice on AdWords, why not get in touch?

How to Dominate Local Search With PPC Marketing

Recently we gave a talk at the Surbiton Business Expo. We spoke about how to make quick, free wins in local SEO strategies to get your website to the top of Google search, and Pay Per Click (or PPC) for local businesses.

Focusing on the small

Let’s look at how focusing on your local target audience can grow the biggest results for your local business online with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

PPC is form of online advertising where the company who have an advert hosted on a website pay money to the website host each time their advert is clicked. The amount of money per click (or cost per click) varies, depending on the volume of competition for the subject of the ad.

pumpkin

Focussing on smaller, local audiences can be easier than running larger national campaigns

What is Google AdWords?

new google adwords logo

Google AdWords is one of the largest PPC networks, and targets the most popular UK search engine – Google.co.uk – plus partner websites.

AdWords provides placement for ads on Google that link to your website. These ads are chosen to be relevant to the search the user is carrying out.

Here is where the ads can appear on Google:

 

runningshoes

You may also recognise some, if not all, of these logos too. These are just some of the many, many, Google partner sites where AdWords can also appear. Ads on these networks are called display ads.

partners

How does Google AdWords work?

Each time a user searches for something in Google, Google carries out a live auction to determine which businesses’ ads will be shown next to the natural search results.

As the word ‘auction’ suggests, bid price is a very important factor in an ad placement. But as Google aims to best benefit the user and the advertiser, Google needs to take more than price into account. Other factors involved in the auction include:

  • Relevance of the ad’s landing page (that’s the page that you land on if you were to click the ad),
  • Relavance of the ad to the search term used
  • Quality score (that’s a formula that influences the ranking position of an ad)

Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google gives a very clear explanation on how the auction works.

So now we know how it all works, how does this all apply to a local PPC marketing strategy?

How is a local PPC campaign created?

Firstly with AdWords local campaigns, don’t panic. It’s not a global campaign, you are only appealing to your target audience, not the world.

The beauty of a local campaign for a local business is that you will have already done your research into target audience. Use this insight in your local PPC campaign, but go one step further. For example, what time of day is busiest for you? Are you a restaurant owner who gets very busy after 18:00 when you’re inundated with commuters returning from work? If so you could add a bid adjustment to your ad to add 10% to your bid during these times.

Or if you are a shop selling umbrellas near the station, you could up your bid during rainy weather by linking your ad to the Google Weather service.

Perhaps you are only open from 9 till 5 – so you won’t want enquiries outside these hours. No problem, use the built-in scheduling settings to make sure you’re not spending when you’re not available.

It’s these observations that can be used in really effective PPC marketing.

mobile-search-pic

Never exclude a relevant demographic in your search. Just because you are targeting local people, doesn’t mean they will also be around on foot.

The online world is becoming a mobile-first environment, and excluding the mobile user could be a very big mistake. 85% of people look for local information on their smartphone 1. This means even the more traditional services like car mechanics should be looking to advertise online – particularly on mobile.

Ad Extensions

Ad Extensions are add-ons that can be applied to your local PPC ads and they are one of the most effective tools to use in a local PPC marketing campaign.

Not only do they provide a better experience for the user who will be looking at your ad, but Google may rank your ad higher if these extensions are used correctly. These come in the form of maps or buttons.

google-pin

The geographical location extension can narrow down the audience to a specific location, be it town/city, county or country. A Google Places page can also be attached to the AdWords campaign to provide a map alongside the ad, leading customers directly to your business.

The call extension is another useful extension. If you truly are a local business targeting a local audience, chances are it won’t cost the customer much to call you. So Google have created a button for it!

This call button saves ad space, rather than filling up your character limit with a business phone number. Better still, it can disappear and reappear at the time that your business is open, which stops people calling an empty office!

How much does AdWords cost?

You’ll probably be wondering how much AdWords might cost you. If so read our article on How Much Should I Bid for a Click?

We hope this introduction to AdWords has been useful. Please feel free to get in touch for a free chat about how AdWords can benefit your business.

1. (Google/Ipsos: Our Mobile Planet UK, Understanding the Mobile Consumer, May 2012)

What Makes a Great e-Commerce Site?

Homepage Layout

Which? Magazine have announced the top 100 best online shops according to their readers. There were some really surprising results. The top prize with a customer score of 91% was WexPhotographic.com – a supplier of photographic equipment.

You might expect to see the online behemoths at the top of the list but in fact Amazon.co.uk came in a number 15 and Apple at number 25.

We thought we’d take a detailed look at Wex Photographic to find out why customers seem to love them so much. Here’s what we found.

Lightning fast

We got the stopwatch out and did some timing tests. Over 10 tests the homepage loaded in an average of 1.8 secs, which is lightning fast, especially considering the amount of photography on the page. Doing some basic searches from the type-in search box was even more impressive with average find times of 1.5 secs. This site just whizzes along!

Easy to understand category browser

The main category menu makes good sense and is written using jargon-free terminology. We’re not photography experts but we understood what we were going to get when we clicked through. Again, clicking main menu options gave us page-load timings of under 2 seconds on average.

Product photography and video

You’d expect great photography on a photography web site wouldn’t you? It’s amazing how photography lets down so many online stores. Most product pages have several clean and clear photos. A minor quibble is that you can’t zoom in and look at the surface textures of products, and some products had only one photo.

Ecommerce Product Video

The store features product videos as well as photography.

Details and specifications

The technical details are important! Measurements and specs can mean the difference between a successful purchase and a return. On this site we found the specifications particularly clearly laid out, and each product featured detailed descriptions of features and benefits too.

Accessories, cross-buys and freebies

We were impressed by the number of recommendations we were offered. For example when buying a camera, we were presented with compatible tripods to go with it. This suggests real attention to detail.

On many of the products we added to our basket, we were offered, free of charge, a useful extra to go with it. For example an astronomy telescope comes with a free torch – rather handy when you’re in the middle of a field in the dead of night we suspect!

The purchasing journey

Checkout Buttons

Checkout was clearly signposted

Adding to basket and moving through the various processes to checkout was a breeze. The route was clearly signposted with large and obvious Checkout buttons.

At each stage we were offered phone and fax contact numbers which would be very helpful for a difficult purchase. We were also shown images of the different cards you can use.

When it came to creating an account we found the instructions clear and obvious. The signup/signin page was one of the clearest we’ve seen and setting up our customer details was also clear and straightforward.

Clarity of contact options

Wex display their phone number prominently on every page. This seems to encourage people to phone in and speak to a real person. Customers are looking for contact points such as phone numbers and opening times, even if they don’t actually want to use them. Wex’s site also features a live chat option – another handy way to contact them if you’re perusing the site and need advice.

Wex Login

Login and signup are crystal-clear

There is a strong social media presence with links to their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube channels on every page. The 45,000+ Facebook Likes displayed certainly gives the impression of a sizeable fan base.

Community

It is rather rare for e-commerce sites to encourage on-site user-generated content such as community forums. But Wex have taken the plunge and offer a fully-fledged forum where photography enthusiasts can mingle and chat. The blog features hundreds and hundreds of product reviews, tips and advice posts.

Plus there are photography competitions and even seminars and events beyond the store. All this creates a really strong impression that Wex is super-keen on talking with their customers and sharing their passion for photography.

Post-purchase support

If you’re paying £2000+ for a camera you want great support. As well as the phone contact option, Wex helpfully offer a list of manufacturer helplines so customers can speak direct to the manufacturer.

Summary

All in all the experience of using the site was very good. Fast page-loading times and clear navigation mean you can get to what you want quickly. The generous add-ons and freebies make you feel valued and important. The vast amount of technical information, background knowledge and support really comes across. Delivery times and contact points were clear and easy to understand.

It’s not hard to understand why this site has come out number in the Which? Online Shops Satistfaction Survey.

PS: we are not connected in any way at all to Wex Photographic!

Related links: