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Can the Digital Doctor Improve Your Website’s Health?

We are delighted to have held the first ever Zelst Digital Doctor’s Diagnostic Surgery this morning at 11am. We had a number of questions submitted in advance to Zelst HQ, which we attempted to address in 4 fairly detailed answers. We’re sure our answers will raise more questions, so if there is anything you’d like further explanation on, please send an email to ask@zelst.co.uk or send questions via our website or social media pages.

We’ve recorded a video, which you can watch below, and have also included a transcript of the session. The Doctor will return for another surgery in January, so please do send in any other questions you may have.

Transcript of the live stream, recorded 11am 7th December 2018

Good Morning, and Welcome to the very first ever Digital Doctor Q&A Webinar, Live from a rather dreary and blustery Harrogate.

Thank you very much for tuning in to our very first Digital Doctor, Q&A webinar. We’ve had quite a few questions sent into Zelst HQ in HG1, which we are really grateful for. There have been a number or a similar vein, so we’ve addressed some of those questions in our other answers today, but please carry on sending them in and we will feature them in future Q&A livestreams. If there are any terms or concepts that I talk about in my answer that you don’t understand please ask via the chat or send an email to [email protected]

So here we go, first question from Rick from Leeds;

My new website has just launched but my traffic has fallen off a cliff, I think the site looks great, what’s happened?

Well, the website does look great, its certainly a big improvement on the old one but there’s a few fundamentals that are causing your loss of traffic.

Firstly, and this one is perhaps a little awkward, but when your web designers/developers were building your site, they ‘hid’ the site so it couldn’t be crawled by Google and other search engines. This is good practice, you don’t want Google to index your development site, but unfortunately when the site went live someone forgot to ‘unhide’ the site and so Google and other search bots are excluded from crawling it. Quick fix and you should recover fairly soon.

Secondly, probably a key reason your site was getting a lot of traffic was that it ranked well in Google for a number of terms – and I can see that the site was getting a lot of traffic from Google organically. When the new site went live and the old site was taken down, all of your old URLs that were ranking disappeared and all your new pages now have to gain Google’s trust. The way to address this is to set up what are called 301 redirects, which redirect the search robots from the old URL to the equivalent new URL and mean that you minimise the loss of history/trust authority and link value. This is not quite as quick a fix, especially given the number of URLs on your old site, but if you get on with it fairly quickly you should be able to mitigate a good deal of your loss.

Thirdly, I can see that your old pages were nicely optimised with relevant title tags, headings, etc., and well written descriptions. These don’t seem to have been copied across or worked on properly. It’s not necessarily a web developers’ job, but it does represent a relatively quick fix.

The fourth thing I can see is that your old pages were longer and had a lot more content. It may be that you/your designers decided you wanted to make the pages more zingy or less wordy but you’ve lost a load of relevant, authoritative, trustworthy, valuable content and if you are to go with the new look, less wordy pages, you really need some substantial content behind these pages to support them. I think this one really needs more discussion but I hope you get the drift that Google values Expert, Authoritative, Trustworthy content and when you are writing about important subject matters to people you need to ensure that you have an appropriate level of content.

The fifth big thing is that, though your site does look a lot better, it is much slower than the old one. This is most probably because you have some beautiful, high quality images, but they are slow to load, and this can be a real problem for people, especially when you are viewing on a, generally slower, mobile device. Google wants to give its users the best possible experience, so its values speed and I think the site is too slow. There’s quite a bit of speed optimisation you/your developers can do, both from an image perspective, e.g. reducing file sizes, compressing images, etc., and from a coding perspective, minimising code, eliminate render-blocking resources etc., You could also run the site through a Content Delivery Network (CDN). We can also give you a full series of recommendations offline.

Having crawled the site, like a search engine would do, typical of a new site there are a number of other issues that our bots have detected, such as broken links within your pages, broken links to external sites (possibly old resources that have changed or moved), some links to the development site that haven’t been changed, missing H1 heading tags, multiple h2 tags, some duplicate content, some blog categories and tags that need to be no-indexed to prevent content conflict/cannibalisation, etc., These are all things that need to be fixed but are probably not directly causing the massive drop off in traffic you have experienced.

There’s also a few other issues, which are a little more specific, that it might be best to handle in a future webinar, so let’s move on to the next question. This comes from Darren in London: –

My Google Ad Spend has nearly doubled this year, but my conversions have gone down, what’s wrong?

This is a question we get asked a lot and in many cases it can be something really simple like creating a new campaign using the default Search Network campaigns with Display Expansion, which means that your tightly focused keyword campaign is suddenly exposed to a much bigger audience on the display network and your spend goes through the roof; or even something like adding a new keyword as a broad match, which blows your budget out of the water. They’re quick fixes and easy to sort, but, seriously, we see this sort of thing a lot.

Unfortunately, Darren, your Google Ads account issues aren’t answered as easily as there’s quite a lot of things that need to be looked at.

There is quite a common misconception that by allocating a budget for Google Ads and paying Google for clicks, it should all take care of itself and you don’t have to worry about anything else. That if you haven’t time for all that complicated SEO and Content stuff, you can put all your budget into PPC and get results. Unfortunately, unless you are very lucky or are in a very niche business with no competitors, it is not so simple and realistically, you need to invest significant time and resources into planning, building, managing and optimising your Google Ads or other Biddable Media accounts.

From what we can see from your Google Ads Darren, your campaign was performing quite satisfactorily until the spring of this year and achieving good levels of efficiency, effectiveness and conversions. We’ve pinpointed a few things that have contributed to your downturn in fortunes.

Just to warn you, there is an awful lot here, to be honest, it’s quite difficult to work out where to start, but I think this just does highlight the complexity of a paid/biddable media/Google Ads campaign and, as a result, a lot that can go wrong or be improved, anyway let’s kick off: –

  • For some reason, a number of really well performing campaigns were paused earlier this year and replaced with new campaigns. Your old campaigns had, generally, great quality scores and they have been lost, whilst your new campaigns have had to earn quality score from scratch
  • In the new campaigns you’ve added a number of broad and broad matched modified keywords, which have eaten up a lot of budget as they’ve trigged ads for non-relevant terms and wasted clicks.
  • You’ve also ended up bidding more for these terms as you have your better-quality score exact terms, this has meant you’ve ended up paying more for the same clicks
  • You also haven’t applied the negative terms in your old campaigns to the new ones, which is causing further waste and loss of Quality Score
  • Because of the loss of quality score and by keeping the bids the same for a number of terms which were performing really well previously, they have either dropped out of the top positions or are no longer appearing on the first page, which has meant they are no really visible, and thus no longer converting – meaning you’re paying a lot more for terms that aren’t converting and not appearing for terms that did. Talk about kicking a man whilst he’s down.
  • There’re a few issues with your demographic bidding, with you appearing to bid more for some demographic groups that have historically not converted well and bid less for better converting groups. I am not sure as to the logic of this?
  • There are similar inconsistencies with your geographic targeting, with negative bid adjustments in areas you have converted for well in the past, meaning your ads will not be as prominent to these people/areas
  • There are also some random bid adjustments for mobile devices and a lack of mobile/desktop strategy, which is really important nowadays.
  • There’s also a lack of different ad creative or testing going on with most adgroups relying on just one ad. Your Ad creative actually hasn’t changed much over the past 18 months. Generally, we recommend running at least 3 or 4 ad variants and constantly testing new creative to make sure your ads are relevant and properly engaging with your target audience. This is especially important when your competitors are frequently updating their ads as yours are, Darren.
  • Your also not taking advantage of the new Google Expanded Text Ads with longer Headlines, descriptions and paths, which means you’re losing out on substantially increasing your ad Footprint and I can only see one or two Responsive Search Ads across the campaign, which is another missed opportunity. There are also quite a few Ad Extensions your missing out on across the account which could also improve your footprint and Ad Effectiveness quite considerably.
  • A number of your campaigns are budget constrained, meaning that they are running out of budget at certain times of the day, particularly when its busy. This means that at times when people are ready to buy, they often can’t see your ads. This is a big cause of loss of efficiency and often means that people who have been researching and thinking about you, then clicking on your ads, don’t actually see you when they might t want to make the enquiry. This is a definite own goal.
  • You really need to review the spend, look for ways of cutting out waste within the campaign, introduce budget scheduling so that you are appearing at peak buying moments and bidding less at less competitive times and ensure your budget is appropriate for what the campaign is trying to achieve.
  • Finally, for now, you’ve channelled quite a bit of budget into display campaigns, which are great for branding, but haven’t converted anywhere nearly as well, this has drained your budget. If your main lead generation campaigns are running out of budget, it would make sense to channel this budget into them and hold off the display, until you’ve picked all the lower hanging fruit.

There’s a lot of other stuff, yeah, seriously, and a few quite specific issues that we’d be best going over offline, with you, Darren.

Next question is from Laura in Wakefield;

I’ve got a great following on Social Media, why aren’t I getting any sales?

Thanks Laura, I love the website and I can see that you do have quite a following. I think the first thing to consider, is whether your social following is appropriate to your business objectives and customer target market. Very often we see people building up a massive following on one social platform, whilst neglecting other platforms that maybe more relevant to their target market.

Like any marketing, before you do anything you need to consider what are the businesses objectives, what are our resources, what are we selling, why do people buy it, who will buy our product, who are we competing against and why should someone buy our products and not our competitors. It’s a hard task and often you’ll need help with it, but you need to do this before doing anything else, seriously.

Once you have done all of this out, its much simpler to work out where you need to market to these people, how you need to communicate and what you need to say.

You can then apply your brand across the relevant social platforms for your target market. Don’t just think that Social = Facebook; for a younger audience, Snapchat or Instagram might be more appropriate. For B2B, LinkedIn might be the more suitable platform and don’t just use the same messaging across all channels, very often your target market will use their preferred platform to connect with you, so vary your message to the demographic and channel that you are targeting. And also, don’t forget, that the platform we are using today, YouTube is the biggest social platform across a number of age groups.

Finally, for now on this one, be aware that digital marketing is more than just social media. Still the biggest driver of traffic to most websites is Google and it is by far the far biggest transactional traffic provider. People use a wide variety of different online channels and you generally need to be present across all of them with an integrated, joined up campaign. Again, Laura, there’s a few specifics we need to discuss offline, so perhaps we can so that later.

We’re nearly out of time now, so just time for one Final question from Steve from the UK’s best place to live, in 2016 at any rate, Harrogate: –

 I don’t have a marketing budget, but I need to grow my business, what should I do?

Nearly every digital marketing agency you meet will ask you for a budget when thinking about a campaign for you. This is not them asking how much they can get out of you, but establishing what your resources are and what can be realistically achieved with what you can afford.

Generally, a lot of companies can make a case for a budget, provided that they can deliver a positive return on their investment relatively quickly. One of the beauties of digital marketing is that you can track the effectiveness of your campaigns much better and generally you can deliver a much faster return on your investment that traditional marketing. If you have good systems in place and access to historical data, in many cases you can actually plot pretty much the exact return on investment across different campaigns, quantifying your returns before you’ve spent a penny.

Even with a small budget, you can still achieve quite a lot, provided you have the right people in place, the time and resources to do everything that is required and the right plan in place.

And if you genuinely don’t have a budget or any resources to implement your marketing campaign, Steve, then I would spend the time undertaking your analysis (a little like we talked about in the last question), putting together your marketing plan and then putting forward your case for a marketing budget for your next financial period.

Thank you very much for sticking with me and enduring our first live Digital Doctor Q&A. I hope it hasn’t been too bad and please do keep your questions coming in- we’ll be covering those in future livestreams. Keep an eye out for updates on our next Digital Doctor Surgery via social media or email. Have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year and I’ll hopefully see you soon!