The 5 most essential WordPress plugins and what they do.

What are plugins?

Plugins are software components that add additional specific functionality to an existing computer program. Open-source software such as WordPress is structured with plugins in mind. This allows for users to truly bring their vision to life. There are nearly 60,000 free plugins on the WordPress Plugin Directory and someone with CSS, HTML and PHP knowledge can add to this tally with their own creations. However, not all plugins are created equal. If you are new to WordPress there are some plugins that you should prioritise and investigate first.

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is nearly universally seen as the best plugin to enable eCommerce on your website. Whether you are a small business just starting or a larger established merchant, WooCommerce is perfect for both. The plugin’s popularity comes from its simplicity to install as well as its intuitive editing and customisation options. 

Almost 4 million websites utilise WooCommerce. This includes websites such as Superdrug Health Clinic and Three Pay As You Go Rewards, as well as smaller operations. 

WooCommerce’s popularity has led WordPress user’s to add additional extensions to the basic WooCommerce platform. These add further specific functionality to those who desire it. Here are 3 of the most widely used and useful extensions for WooCommerce.

a) Klarna Payments

This extension allows your customers to pay in interest-free instalments, or postpone their payment into the future. All credit and fraud risk is taken by Klarna so you can ensure that you are always paid. As well as this, the use of the extension will likely improve your sales as you reach a new audience. 

b) WooCommerce Bookings

This is an extension that modifies WooCommerce to allow customers to book appointments, make reservations, rent equipment, or do a variety of other similar actions. This extension ensures that your website can be a one-stop shop for your eCommerce site. You, therefore, avoid making your customers’ book services via emails or another website.

c) Xero

Our last WooCommerce extension is a vast and well-integrated accounting software package that complements WooCommerce extremely well. Due to their interconnectedness, Xero completes many accounting functions automatically by constantly monitoring your eCommerce store. Bank reconciliations, financial reporting, inventory tracking, payroll management as well as many, many more functions are managed and presented well by Xero.

2. Contact Form 7

An admittedly less exciting plugin but nevertheless a very popular one that has been downloaded over 5 million times is Contact Form 7. It is a plugin that can ensure an important feature of your website is consistently functional; your contact process and information.

Rather than simply having a list of your email addresses or phone numbers, Contact Form 7 provides simple code which allows for dedicated text boxes for users to input their queries. It provides space to input the visitors’ email addresses, names, the subject of their questions and then the questions themselves. Once they have completed these, an email is sent to an address of your choosing. This email can remain anonymous to the user, meaning it is dedicated to contact form enquiries.

While the default options will be ideal for most users, it is easy to customise the form. Say you are a company that is primarily focused on B2B transactions, you could add a field asking for the user’s company name. Contact Form 7 makes it very easy to accommodate changes of this nature.

3. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a massive marketing and email corporation that also has a WordPress plugin of the same name. This is the premium email marketing extension. The core feature is creating email lists of visitors who have subscribed to hear more from your website. Email is still the best method of direct communication between websites and their users. This is because social media is often such a cluttered and saturated information market, posts and messages are often not seen, ignored or forgotten by those who see them. 

The plugin itself connects Mailchimp campaigns via API to your website to help collect emails for your Mailchimp database. This then integrates the Mailchimp service with your website in the most optimum way. The basic free plan allows a user to send up to 10,000 emails a month to up to 2000 subscribers. While it becomes a paid service after you surpass these milestones, by then the benefits of the system should be apparent and you can decide whether or not to expand the plan. This plugin allows you to create campaigns themed around almost anything. Whether you want to update your subscribers about new products, offer them discounts or early access to these offerings, or update them about new blog posts about the company.

4. Yoast SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about getting your content to the people who are searching for it, whether they know it or not. It is a process that aims to increase both the quality and the quantity of your website’s traffic, which in turn leads to increased exposure and visitors. For a detailed explanation of SEO, see our earlier article. If you are familiar with SEO, you know it can be technical and laborious work but luckily, Yoast can help significantly. 

While an SEO expert is often the best way to ensure your ranking is as high as possible, Yoast can make huge inroads in improving your SEO. Yoast automates the process of improving your ranking by completing an analysis that explains what parts of your website are helping your SEO and which parts are damaging it. 

Yoast optimises your site’s structure so it is attractive to the search engine’s bots. This is done partly by ensuring all the links on your site are functional and well organised. Links that lead to dead pages or 404 errors can be devastating to your SEO. Yoast will redirect these links to other parts of your site, saving your SEO and creating a better user experience. It is also useful in that it recognises what keywords are directing people to your site. This then ensures that you are using the optimal keywords and phrases.

There are also the Google Preview and Social Preview features which allow you to see what your site will look like in the search results and when shared online respectively. This can help you ensure that your website is attractive both visually and in terms of code. This then ensures both bots and visitors rate your website highly.

5. Beaver Builder

Web designing on WordPress can sometimes be very daunting for a novice, as much of the design of the website requires a sound knowledge of coding. However, Beaver Builder simplifies the process greatly, altering the WordPress editor to behave more like the editor on Wix (see our blog here on the difference between WordPress and Wix Websites). That is to say, the process becomes much more drag and drop where the user can choose from an abundant supply of modules to build up their website piece by piece. This system of Front End Editing means that as they put it, what you see is what you get. No longer will you be editing the code at the Back End before returning to the viewer to see things have changed in unexpected and frustrating ways.

If you are not an expert in coding and web designing, Beaver Builder is a must-have. Beaver Builder is also a great tool for experienced developers as it speeds up the development process massively and allows clients to edit their own websites easily. We also have an in-depth blog looking at Beaver Builder here.

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admin December 28, 2021 0 Comments

Beaver Builder: how does it help you build your WordPress website?

Web designing on WordPress can sometimes be very daunting for a novice, with much of the design of the website requiring extensive knowledge of coding. However, Beaver Builder simplifies the process greatly, altering the WordPress editor to use a simple drag and drop system. You can choose from an abundant supply of templates to build up your website piece by piece. This system of Front End Editing means that as they put it, what you see is what you get. No longer will you be editing the code at the Back End before returning to the viewer to see things have changed in unexpected and frustrating ways. If you are not an expert in coding and web designing; Beaver Builder is a must-have, but it can also make creating a website much quicker for even the most experienced web designer. 

If you desire a hands-on, and practical sense of how Beaver Builder works, click here. Following the link will take you to the Beaver Builder website. Once there, click “try live demo”. This will allow you to access a demo version of Beaver Builder for 24 hours. After this time, whatever you have made will be erased and reset.

To understand Beaver Builder more analytically, a breakdown of the different pricing plans are provided below. Following this, each point of the plan will be analysed and examined in turn so you can decide which plan is right for you.

Standard PlanPro PlanAgency Plan
$99 (approximately £74)*$199 (approximately £149)*$399 (approximately £298)*
Unlimited SitesUnlimited SitesUnlimited Sites
Page Builder PluginPage Builder PluginPage Builder Plugin
World-Class Support for 1 YearWorld-Class Support for 1 YearWorld-Class Support for 1 Year
Premium Modules & TemplatesPremium Modules & TemplatesPremium Modules & Templates
Beaver Builder ThemesBeaver Builder ThemesBeaver Builder Themes
Multisite CapableMultisite CapableMultisite Network Settings
White LabellingWhite LabellingWhite Labelling
*Each amount represents the first year’s price. After this, there is a 40% discount. 

Features of all Beaver Builder plans

The following features are available on the Standard, Pro, and Agency Plans. The base features of the Standard Plan of Beaver Builder are perfect for both beginner and expert web designers alike.

Unlimited Sites

The ability to design as many websites as you can find the time for is a strong point of Beaver Builder, as other page-building websites sometimes have limits. It is worth noting that the ability to design as many websites as you want is not the same as the ability to host as many websites as you want. Click here for our blog explaining the basics of internet hosting.

Page Builder

Beaver Builder is famous for its intuitive method of web building, relying on a drag and drop system. This system is easy to use and can help even a beginner create a professional-looking website relatively quickly. 

It is really more than just a plugin, being more of a framework that provides an extensive toolset that makes the process of building a website much more straightforward. It is essentially a one-stop shop that is much more streamlined than searching, downloading, installing, and configuring features from different WordPress sources. 

Whether you are building a small-scale blog or a massive eCommerce store, all can be accommodated. The code is clean and stable, allowing for easy customisation of the HTML, PHP, CSS and JS (providing you have the skills). The page builder also ensures that your web page is also mobile-friendly, a crucial component of your SEO and customer satisfaction.

World Class Support

Broadly speaking, Beaver Builder provides excellent customer support. As our table shows, priority support is given to new customers in their first year. This model ensures that those who are more likely to require assistance are made the priority. Independent reviews are mostly positive, praising the support team’s quick speed and expert knowledge of their product. There are also very extensive, helpful pages such as the “Pre-Sales” and “Frequently Asked Question” pages. While the priority support ends after the initial year, support is still offered to all customers and they should still usually respond within 24-48 hours. There is also the choice to continue paying an extra amount to keep your priority status if timely support is a must-have.

Modules & Templates

There are pre-made designs to common web pages that are available to all Beaver Builder users. There are near-universal templates including an about us page, a contact page, a services page, a pricing page, and a FAQ page as well as more specific templates such as blog pages, portfolio pages and a newsletter subscription page. Due to the lack of code of the drag and drop system, the templates allow for a live preview of any changes you are making to your site. As well as this, the templates are developer-friendly in the sense that they can be manipulated and extended as they are deployed.

Features of the Pro and Agency Plans

The following features are not available on the Standard Plan. These features are more important for established web designers and developers. If you are just starting, or are only making a website for yourself, as you will soon see,  you can probably do without these features. 

Available with the Pro Plan and the Agency Plan – Beaver Builder Themes

The themes refer to visual parts of a website such as the headers, footers and style of the sites. While theme templates are available to all users, Beaver Builder Themes are the premium and exclusive ones. These themes are very varied and come in a near-endless combination of colours, fonts and layouts. Having access to these themes allows you to benefit from Beaver Themer, a paid plugin that has many additional features. These include a wider range of theme templates and theme parts as well as the addition of an incredibly user-friendly system of post grids.

Available with the Pro Plan and the Agency Plan – Multisite Network Capabilities

If you are a burgeoning commercial web designer, the multisite capabilities of Beaver Builder and WordPress.org will be invaluable. Managing a single website is one thing, but managing 10, 15, or 20 is another thing entirely. Without a proper system in place, you will find yourself spending more time on website management and maintenance than making new sites, the primary source of income for a web designer.

Being multisite capable allows you to create a network of multiple Beaver Builder websites from a single installation and dashboard. These networked sites will each run on the same underlying code, plugins and themes as each other but the content such as pages, posts, categories, tags and media will remain unique to each site. This can result in serious improvements in efficiency as the time you spend maintaining your different websites decreases.

Available with the Agency Plan only – White Labelling

In web-design, white labelling is when a company allows you to remove their brand and logo from their products or services. For many websites, especially the smaller scale ones, the fact that Beaver Builder will be written very small at the bottom is not a huge issue. This feature is only available for those customers opting for the most expensive plan, meaning only the most well-established web-designers have access to white labelling on Beaver Builder. Probably, very few of your customers will even notice seeing Beaver Builder on your site and I am sure those who do will not hold it against you. 

Overall, I can’t recommend Beaver Builder enough. Not everyone needs the most expensive plans, but I believe anyone who uses WordPress.org to design and develop websites needs at least the Standard Plan. Its ease of use will make your life less stressful and you will save so much time.

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admin December 21, 2021 0 Comments

A Christmassy Guide to Cardiff

Looking for a Christmas getaway without leaving the UK? Look no further than Levitate’s home city and the capital of Wales, Cardiff. The Christmas spirit is felt in Cardiff in a way that is unlike anywhere else, as the whole of the city centre becomes covered in lights, tinsel and baubles. Here are our top things to do during a festive trip to Caerdydd.

Winter Wonderland

A staple in Cardiff’s festive landscape is the Winter Wonderland, this year, however, it is bigger and better than ever. 

For the first time, Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has grown to a size that means it is split across two locations. These two locations are the Cardiff Castle and the City Hall Lawn. Both are at the heart of the city and within a 5-minute walk from each other.

Cardiff Castle • 2000 Years of History in the Heart of the City
Credit: cardiffcastle.com

Cardiff Castle; A Frozen Fortress

Usually located at the City Hall Lawn, the iconic Winter Wonderland Ice Rink has been moved to Cardiff Castle and expanded to also feature an Ice Walk. The charming gardens and striking architecture makes for an enchanting experience.

The covered Ice Rink is 40m x 15m and the Ice Walk stretches for 150m long. I am no ice skating champion but was able to easily keep up with the traffic of the Ice Walk. Whether you are looking to take young children, elderly relatives, or anyone else, the ice skating is suitable for all abilities. The famous skate-aid penguins are also more prevalent than ever. They ensure even the youngest or shakiest skaters can glide with ease.

There are also many options for food within the Castle. The Keep Terrace is the established restaurant within the castle walls and has some very festive drinks and meals. As well as this, popup stalls offer Yorkshire pudding wraps, toasted marshmallows and some other festive treats are also on site.

Cardiff's Winter Wonderland is back for 2021 - Wales Online
Credit: walesonline.co.uk

City Hall Lawn Site; The Festive Carnival

This site contains your classic Christmas family funfair. Waltzer-like rides, a child-sized artificial snow slope, a myriad of familiar carnival game stalls and a giant Ferris wheel will keep all members of the family entertained and high-spirited. 

The Sur la Piste Ski Lodge Bar returns to WinterWonderland and will be a familiar sight to those looking for a boozier festive celebration. The two-story ski lodge bar provides the perfect environment to sit down and get in the merry spirit. This year it also features a new outdoor roof terrace, but no guarantee that the weather will be appropriate.

Another option for a well-earned drink here is the new Ice Bar. An impressive icy structure plucked straight from Disney’s Frozen, the Ice Bar is truly a unique place to chill out in. It is also worth mentioning that there is ample choice in terms of different festive treats and drinks on the site. 

Shopping

Christmas shopping in Cardiff can be split into many different experiences. There is, of course, the different shopping centres, the main two being Saint Davids/Dewi Sant and the Queen’s Arcade. It is within these two connected shopping centres that the most popular and coveted brands can be found. 

Clothing stores such as Bershka, Zara, Stradivarius and others will keep the fashionistas amongst you happy whereas Hamleys, the LEGO shop and build-a-bear Workshop will give your kids plenty to choose from. There are of course so many shops in these centres it would be crazy to list them all here. Click here for a full list of the shops in Saint Davids and Queen’s Arcade.

For a different sort of shopping experience, the Christmas Market stretches from St John Steet to the end of the Hayes and is a truly joyous Christmas celebration.

Christmas in Cardiff 2021 • All you need to know • Visit Cardiff
Credit: visitcardiff.com

Shopping on The Hayes; A Welsh-Bavarian Market

At the top of St John Street, there is a Bavarian-themed Festive Quarter which provides a bustling area offering bratwurst, pork roast, and other hearty eating options. There is also a large, two-story German-style bar, another option for a cheeky pint.

This leads to Working Street and the Hayes, which becomes a bustling marketplace over the festive period. Nearly 100 individual wooden huts line the streets and are occupied by a truly diverse mixture of small businesses. Over 200 individual businesses will be stationed at the market throughout November and December.

These stalls all boast original pieces and you get the feeling you are supporting some very creative entrepreneurs. By buying these unique pieces directly from the people who made them, you help ensure that these small businesses can survive through the pandemic. 

It would be futile to try and name all of the stalls so here are a selection of the stalls which I found interesting. AR & ML Daniels take previously unused vintage Welsh blankets and tapestries and rework them into cushions, baby blankets and vintage teaware. This business recycles unused materials and showcases a classic Welsh art form. There is also NOA Jewellery which sells intricate and beautiful handmade jewellery made from ceramics, wood, silver, aluminium, brass and stainless steel. 

Here is a link to the full list of vendors and what dates they are operating.

Honour-bauble mentions

All of this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Christmas landscape of Cardiff but hopefully, I have provided you with enough inspiration to come and check it out for yourself.

The Christmas Light show at Bute Park, the Alladin Christmas Panto at the New Theatre, and Heofan Light Maze are all attractions that I wish I could delve deeper but I will leave it to you to look into these great events yourself!

brown and white short coated dog wearing red and black rabbit costume

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admin December 15, 2021 0 Comments

Domain Names: what they are and why they are important

What is a Domain Name?

If your website is an online home for your business, your domain name is essentially your website’s home address. To stretch my metaphor, the internet is like the earth; vast, diverse and interconnected. To find a single specific website is like trying to find a specific property somewhere in the world; it would be impossible without an address. This is why creating the best domain name improves the chances of as much relevant traffic as possible being directed to your website.

Where can I buy a Domain Name?

Countless online sites sell domain names which can vary significantly in price. Provided there is no existing domain name that clashes with your choice, you can use any combination of letters and numbers. When you are buying a domain name an important choice is the top-level domain, meaning the .com, .co.uk, etc. (See the following subsection for more information). With all of this in mind, let us now look at two popular sites which specialise in selling domains and compare them.

123-reg.co.uk is most well known for being the first company to offer incredibly cheap first-year subscriptions, with “.co.uk” only costing £0.99 for the first year, with it rising to £14.39 the following year. There is however significant competition from the more well known uk.godaddy.com; offering “.co.uk” domain names for just £0.01 for the first year, with them rising to £11.99 for the compulsory second year. 123-reg.co.uk offers “.com” for £1.99 for the first year with it rising to £19.19 after this first year. This compares poorly with the uk.godaddy.com offer at £0.99 for the first year, with it rising to just over £17.00 for the second year. Unsure whether a “.co.uk”, a “.com” or one of the many other options is right for your website? Worry not, this will be covered very soon.

There are multiple comparison sites such as www.hostfind.co.uk or www.top10bestwebsitehosting.co.uk which can provide a wider and deeper comparison domain names retailers. However, due to the nature of the market, the differences are marginal. Ultimately, factors such as where the website is hosted and the actual name of the website are often more important than where the domain name was bought from.

.com vs .co.uk (vs .digital, .shop, .club etc.)

Depending on what sort of website you run, it should affect your choice of the domain name. If most of your visitors are based in the UK, it makes sense to use a “.co.uk”. Maybe you are aiming for a more international audience, a more neutral “.com” would probably be a wise move. If your website is focused on downloads, “.digital” may be a good choice. Finally, if you are promoting some sort of designing services, “.design” makes sense. Gone are the days where all sites end in “.com” and the marketplace is filled with many more options. Ultimately, a common-sense approach and an examination of your competitors’ domain names should be enough to guide you through this decision. 

Naked Domain vs www.

A naked domain name lacks the “www.” which many websites begin with. The allowing of sub-domains is the major difference between a naked domain name and a “www.” domain name. Whichever you decide to use, you must pick one and stick to it. Having duplicate websites using different options or flipping between one and another damages your SEO and should be avoided. The best way to address this issue is to pick one and stick with it. For instance, let’s say a naked domain name is used, you should ideally set up an HTTP 301 redirect on the unused domain name with the “www.”. This will then redirect any visitors to your official site, creating a smooth visitor experience and will also ensure your SEO is not negatively affected.

Picking a domain name is an important part of starting any new website. Hopefully, this blog has given you the information to make a more informed decision. The top-level part of your domain name can clearly signal what your website is about. Shop around to find the best deal for you and have a look at what your competitors are using.

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admin December 14, 2021 0 Comments

What is the best hosting option for my website?

What is Website Hosting?

Most internet users are familiar with the term “hosting” and know that it is required to run a website, but specifics on what exactly it means are less common amongst those new to web design. Essentially, a website must be hosted on a server that stores its files; such as the website’s images and code. The hosting marketplace is full of competing offers that all have their own merits and drawbacks. Shared Servers and Dedicated Servers are the most common types of hosting.

Shared Servers vs Dedicated Servers

Simply put, a shared server contains multiple users, websites, or accounts on a single server whereas a dedicated server is a lone server with a single user.

Shared Server Hosting

The most immediate benefit of using a shared server is that people with little technical experience can set one up. Outsourcing the hosting operations like this can ensure that there are dedicated technicians on hand to assist if there are problems with the server that someone with no technical experience would struggle to fix.  

Perhaps expectedly, the nature of a shared server means users have limited administrative access to the software configuration. Additionally, sharing a server can elicit unexpected performance issues that would not occur on a dedicated server. The chances of such issues occurring depends greatly on who is hosting your shared server. Many web designing agencies also offer hosting services. If a web agency has already designed your website, you can be more confident that all of the sites on the shared server are legitimate, secure and well managed. When you utilise a less trustworthy provider, you are often more likely to experience performance issues when there is a spike in traffic on other sites, as they pull resources away from your site. This can affect your loading speeds and your responsiveness, or sometimes even cause crashes.

Dedicated Server Hosting

Having your own dedicated server means that you can manage and configure the server however you’d like to. This level of control is also a benefit in the fact that no other independent sites hosted on your server are redirecting resources to their site. These both ensure that it is down to you and you alone to manage and improve your hosting. This flexibility and freedom that dedicated servers allow for can run essentially all types of software. This facilitates your ability to set up extra security software which can improve the reliability of your site. For example; a blacklist of IP addresses (a list of specifically blocked addresses) can be made on both shared and dedicated servers, whereas a whitelist of IP addresses (a list of specifically permitted addresses) could only be achieved on a dedicated server. 

The requirement of technical knowledge is of course the most immediate drawback for those new to web design and hosting. Another drawback of a dedicated server is that it always ends up being significantly more expensive. On a shared server, as the cost of running and maintaining the server is split between the different users, it always results in it being a cheaper option.

The Third Way – Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

A VPS is essentially a shared server aspiring to act as a dedicated server. It requires a strong enough server which can be split into multiple, individual, virtual servers. This addresses the serious problems with shared servers as resources such as RAM and CPU time are not shared. This also allows for more control and personalisation, as users can make more changes to the software. Some claim that VPS systems are at times more inconsistent than true dedicated servers. However, these issues are more likely to occur when there are multiple high traffic sites hosted on the same VPS. These only become issues through mismanagement, and a web agency would be able to utilise VPS as a best-of-both-worlds solution.

Should I use an Agency to host my website?

The main options for hosting have been set out throughout this blog. Hopefully, if you are new to the industry this blog has been helpful. To summarise; shared servers are often the cheapest option and work fine for lower traffic sites, a dedicated server will cost more but can ensure your website runs as efficiently as possible, and a VPS is a shared server aspiring to act as a dedicated server.

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with the knowledge you were looking for. It of course can not provide you with the skills to set up your own server. If this sounds like you, an agency may be your best option. If you have an existing or developing relationship with a web developer who offers hosting services, this is often a very wise move. Most agencies can offer dedicated, shared and VPS hosting and are more likely to offer consistent technical support.

Ultimately, there are few decisions as important as your hosting provider when it comes to your website. Researching your options as much as possible and reading reviews on the services should help you spot any untrustworthy resellers and better understand your options. If you are not primarily a techy person and are just getting started in growing your online presence, a dedicated agency undoubtedly creates the best results.

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admin December 7, 2021 0 Comments

What is SEO and how do you improve it?

What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimisation)

Over 90% of experiences on the internet start on a search engine. From these searches, a third of the time the top result on Google is clicked instantly. If you are not the top result for a search, you will miss out on a third of your potential traffic. Additionally, 75% of people never click to the second page of search results, again resulting in another huge potential loss of traffic. 

What is the solution to this problem? A proper SEO strategy.

SEO is about getting your content to the people who are searching for it, whether they know it or not. It is a process that aims to increase both the quality and the quantity of your website’s traffic, which in turn leads to increased exposure and visitors. SEO does not revolve around paying to improve your ranking but is rather an organic way of driving traffic. Ultimately, SEO is about understanding what your potential visitors are searching for; whether it be the questions they are googling, the answers which would fulfil them, or the words and key phrases that are commonly used, everything of this nature feeds into your SEO.

Understanding your visitors in this way is one component of SEO. The second half is being able to use the way Google (and other search engines) operate to link your website with the most relevant searches. The process relies on industry-specific terms which many beginners may not understand, so before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to improve your SEO, it may be helpful to explain the process that underpins how search engines work. This will be useful to refer back to so you understand what stage of the process each tip will try to exploit. 

How do Search Engines work?

Crawling and Indexing

Despite how it may appear, there is not some complete central registry of all websites in existence. Instead, Google uses algorithms and bots to scan pages to learn what is on them. When a new URL is discovered by Google, it visits and crawls the page. Google does this by looking at both text and non-text resources as well as the overall layout of the page. These are the most basic factors that will determine where it will appear in search results. If Google can easily understand and navigate your site, the more likely it is that it will appear higher in relevant searches. Through crawling the page, Google learns more and more about the site. This information is then sent to a huge database known as the Google Index. It is from this index that relevant searches will be linked up with the most relevant pages. 

Serving and Ranking

The factors that Google learnt during its crawl of your page will now be added to other influences which will determine what searches your page will appear for and how high on the list of results. What location, language, and device the user is using all influence a page’s ranking. These innate factors ensure the best user experience. It is of course beneficial when someone Googles “key-cutting” that the most local establishments offering that service are shown first.  

For a more in-depth explanation of this process, below is a link to an explanation created by Google themselves.

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/how-search-works

But how can you improve your SEO ranking? Here are 10 useful and easy tips on how you can improve your SEO.

10 tips to improve your SEO

1. Don’t prioritise bots, prioritise users.

Let’s get this one out of the way; even though bots will influence your SEO, never try to artificially boost your ranking by creating a page that only bots would engage with. Ask yourself; “Would I be comfortable explaining what I have just done to a Google employee?”. These methods can deceive and aggravate visitors to your site and can be dedicated by bots. It can even result in your website being removed from search engines.

2. Optimise your website for Mobile Devices.

There can be an innate tendency of someone new to web designing and SEO to first make a desktop version of a website and the mobile version can sometimes be an afterthought. This can be disastrous. Over 60% of Google searches are now completed on mobile devices, a fact that Google now takes into consideration. If your website is not mobile compatible, it will automatically drive your ranking down. This is even before the negative user experiences also damage repeat visits to your website and further damage your ranking.

3. Focus your URLs.

Your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or the web address is a resource that specifies the location of your website on the inner workings of a computer and how it is retrieved. Your URL should draw as many relevant visitors in as possible while also explaining what the page is about. It is a good idea to start your URL with the broadest way of explaining your field of focus. You can then become more specific in the later part of the URL that will also draw in more specific searches.

4.  Get meta.

The meta description is the small introduction that appears under a website once it is pulled up by a search engine. It should provide a summary of the content of the page so the visitor can judge whether or not to click. The meta description should only be around 160 characters as the rest will be cut off by Google. Three rules of thumb that should always be applied to a meta description should be; keep it short, keep it unique and keep it descriptive.

5. Tend to your website; add fresh new content and remove any old or broken hyperlinks.

To improve and then maintain your SEO ranking, visitors need reasons to keep coming back to your website. If a website remains unchanged for years, why would anyone return? And if no one is returning, why would Google promote your website? To combat this, add as much up-to-date, high-quality content as possible. Starting a blog on your website is an excellent way to do this. This also positively affects dwell time (how long visitors stay on your page and website) and how often visitors bookmark your website, both of which will improve your SEO.

Using external hyperlinks is one simple way to improve your SEO but if these links break or become too outdated, these will begin to drive down your SEO. Not ensuring all links to external sources are still relevant and working properly can also make you look unprofessional, unreliable or careless to your visitors.

6. Use Keywords and use them well.

People put words into search engines so it is only logical that the sorts of words used on your website can affect your SEO. These keywords that your potential visitors will use need to be naturally embedded throughout the website; in headers, metadata, image captions and everywhere else possible. There can be too much of a good thing, however. As explained in the first tip of this piece, do not just spam keywords as this can again hurt your SEO ranking. Another important factor of this is ensuring that your title does not exceed 65 characters, as anything past this amount will be cut off from the search result.

7. Improve your loading times.

Not only will slow loading times directly affect your SEO, but it will also drive repeat visitors away. Slow loading times greatly increase abandonment rates. It is estimated that 40% of visitors will abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. A further whopping 80% of these deserters will never revisit the website because of this experience. This can devastate your traffic, so improving your page’s loading time and your server response time is always a worthwhile exercise.

8. Get to know the wider Google family.

There are separate services that Google offers. Although they may not be strictly necessary for your website, they can easily boost your SEO. By setting up a Google Business account, it allows you to create a well-placed space to showcase information on your business, clearly state your contact information and monitor user reviews. This is especially crucial if you are a small brick-and-mortar business as a Google Business account can seriously boost your local SEO.

Say there were two locksmiths near each other, both of which have websites but only one has Google Business. When someone uses a related search term, it is more likely that the one with the Google Business would appear first. Not only that, but the visitor will be able to clearly see pictures of the shop, opening hours, contact details and all the reviews. It is clear how and why this will positively affect your SEO ranking.

Additionally, Google Analytics allows for a much greater understanding of the SEO performance of your website. With Google Analytics, it is easy to see what search terms are resulting in the most traffic for your site, as well as being able to monitor what devices most of your organic traffic is coming from. This increased insight can allow you to make constant tweaks to your site in order to maximise your SEO.

9. Try and answer all of your visitors’ questions… ideally before they ask them.

This can be done in 2 main ways. A comprehensive FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section of your website has many benefits. Firstly, it creates a better visitor experience. If a visitor can avoid sending an email or ringing a helpline to answer their query, they are much more likely to repeat their visit. This also has positive influences on dwell time, a further positive influence on your SEO.

The other option is being an active member on sites such as Yahoo! Answers or Quora. These websites are filled with unanswered, or poorly answered questions from users and more are constantly added. Finding questions that are relevant to the niche of your website and answering them can prove very worthwhile. It is an opportunity to help someone showing an interest in an area similar to your site and also direct them to your site using links. Links are a vital part of a successful SEO strategy, as will be shown in my final tip.

10. Build backlinks.

The aforementioned Q&A sites are a perfect way to increase the number of backlinks or inbound links that lead to your website. The Google bots see backlinks as Google users seeing the linked website as credible, useful and of high quality. These are of course attributes that Google tries to promote in their search engine. There are many ways to increase the number of links that lead back to your site. This could include being mentioned in online interviews or sponsoring social media influencers. These would increase exposure to your website in a traditional sense but also optimise your SEO as the increase of links is greatly valued by the Google bots.

Do I need help from a SEO professional?

Throughout this blog, I hope I have shared some actionable tips on how you can easily improve your SEO. There is also however an industry of dedicated SEO experts who can manage bots and improve loading times so skillfully that your SEO should skyrocket.

But why bother paying someone to do this work?

Although there may be some changes you can make that will boost your ranking if you want long-term maximum optimisation of your SEO; an experienced, skilful expert is second to none. Secondly, it allows you to focus on the things you are a professional in. Whatever your website is about; whether it be running your business, writing your blog, or anything else, your time is most likely better spent focusing on this, rather than the nitty-gritty of SEO. Finally, having professionals working on your website will undoubtedly bring it up. These people see hundreds of professionally made websites during their work and can share their industry insights with you. Having someone like this constantly monitoring your website’s SEO can have a massive impact on your traffic and ultimately the success of your website.

Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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admin November 30, 2021 0 Comments

Wix or WordPress: Which is better for creating my website?

In an ever more digital age, many start-ups and family-run businesses alike utilise Wix to create their first websites. While there are certainly merits to Wix, no operation; whether it be an expanding retail business or an extensive blogging site, neither can realistically operate well in the long-term on Wix. Ultimately, the best option for a slick, responsive and worthwhile website is partnering with a web designer who uses WordPress.

What are WordPress and Wix?

WordPress (specifically wordpress.org and never wordpress.com) is an open-source content management system. Around 40% of websites are powered by WordPress, making it the most popular way to create a website. Originally favoured by bloggers, the countless updates and plug-ins released since the establishment of WordPress have made the programme a one-stop shop for designing any type of website; from eCommerce stores to social networks. Wix.com is a cloud-based website builder that also provides web hosting and design services. Wix is easily accessible for those without extensive technical knowledge but, as such, is a more basic package.

How does Wix operate and how does it differ from WordPress?

Wix is renowned for its ease-of-use and is ideal for self-run, small scale websites. There is no software to install and the editing process is as easy as drag-and-drop. These features make Wix ideal for portfolio-style websites. However, websites created on Wix are known to begin struggling and slowing down considerably if the site grows to have too many pages. Although Wix allows users to create a basic eCommerce platform, a store can significantly slow down the website. This can lead to frustrated customers struggling to navigate the website and can also damage SEO. Also, Wix websites only accommodate one sub-level, making it much harder to organise and navigate through larger catalogues of products.

How do Wix and WordPress compare in terms of SEO and using plug-ins?

Another feature of Wix which damages a site’s SEO is the random and unchangeable names Wix will attribute to images. This is especially damaging to image-based websites, as the most stunning or inspirational images are given names such as “e5ddec7841f5~mv6.png”. This would not be an issue on WordPress. For reasons such as this one, most industry insiders would recommend SEO plug-ins for Wix but this is far from an easy solution, due to the approach Wix takes to plug-ins. 

Plug-ins are incredibly vital on both Wix and WordPress to mould your website into exactly what you are envisioning. Although Wix does have a marketplace with over 300 options, overusing these can quickly damage the speed of your website. Where WordPress differs is that its open-source structure has always been utilised by user-made plug-ins. It is conceivable that someone could hit a brick wall while using Wix as they discover that their specific job could only be achieved by a non-existent plug-in. This would never be an issue on WordPress. If a specific plug-in to suit your needs did not exist, then a developer could make one for you. There is however an existing catalogue of thousands of WordPress plugins. Many of these are extremely successful and popular services in their own rights.

How much support do they offer?

Despite these problems, many point to the benefits of the extensive support Wix offers via their customer service phone lines, live chat feature, and the numerous forums, compared to the complete lack of support that WordPress offers. However, these support services offered by Wix fall short of the personalised approach an agency can offer. For many who lack the technical expertise to operate WordPress independently, a good agency can make all the difference.

How are they priced?

Although WordPress is initially free, there are additional unavoidable costs to bear. Securing a domain name and hosting the website are fees that can vary greatly depending on several factors but will be recurring either monthly or yearly. Using pre-made themes, certain plugins and extra security will also all undoubtedly incur costs. The Wix free service is very basic so you may have to consider one of the supplementary paid plans. Wix has 4 “Website Plans” which range from £3.50 to £19.00 a month as well as 3 “Business & eCommerce Plans” which range from £13.00 to £22.00 a month. These plans all offer different levels of customer support, storage space, and the amount of video time the website can host. Additionally, the cheaper options, as well as the free option ,will fill your website with Wix ads, the unattractive indirect cost of using the free Wix service.

While Wix is a good program to create basic websites or learn the ropes of web designing, WordPress is the premier destination for any ambitious website. These improved features do however come at the cost of requiring more technical knowledge. This issue of course disappears by utilising an agency.

It is clear in our minds, that to create a quality website that will consistently meet your visitors’ expectations, WordPress is the best option.

Link to Wix.com homepage Link to WordPress.org homepage Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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admin November 23, 2021 1 Comment

Reasons why you should invest in a professional logo design.

For most businesses, drafting and illustrating your logo is a good decision when taking your brand’s creativity to a new level. Whether you are based in finance, law or even a coffee shop, it does not matter. Your logo design is key to standing out from competitors within your market and something that your consumers can easily differentiate from competitors. It is highly important to look professional and clean.

More than just looking professional in presents trust and continuity to your customers, the importance of a logo is the main part of your branding and could be potentially the first thing that customers could notice about your company. It makes a great first impression and helps to build the recognisable brand for your customers. By making it recognisable creates an element of personality and relatability that your customers can understand. By designing virtual association, it has the power to speak to your clients even just by glancing through your social media platforms, publications or your website. The logo can present a form of emotion that relates to why you purchase from them. For example, McDonald’s for being yellow with a simple logo reflecting happiness, nostalgia and staff’s friendly nature and your logo should present the same. Depending on the company or business like a plumber your logo can present this with clean lines and simple shapes, speaking to your customers with more than just words with investing in such a logo design.

Ensure that your design is of course unique to you and your market, otherwise there may be several complications for customers when purchasing from your brand. Create something that really stands out and encompasses what you strive for as an operating business, that way by making it so unique this means that no one can complain you have stolen their design or elements from it.

As we have mentioned a logo is something that can be used throughout your company and within their platforms. Your logo can be implemented across all your online platforms, including website, social media and anywhere in a virtual space where you are operating. With commissioning a logo from a professional company ensures that you are able to receive the logo in various format types and in the correct file type you will need for the mentioned pages. This saves time for you trying to convert the files or having to re-work files that cannot be implemented and ending in the distortion of the file altogether.

By using designers that have years of experience and relevant qualifications, they as individuals have everything needed to create something amazing. And our role as the designer will be to create excellent products for customers, and everything will be drafted to the highest quality. By using a designer for your logo design, it ensures hard work to create exactly what you need.

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admin August 11, 2021 0 Comments

The importance of mental health care in the workplace, now more than ever.

Since we last posted a blog post regarding COVID-19 and the change in working environment it was clear nearly a year ago we were unaware when we would leave lockdown. Now nearly a year later here we are in the same position. However, we are now in the position of a vaccine that is being rolled out a fast pace to put us on a road to what seems the ever waiting normal. People are beginning to be frustrated with the lack of routine and structure to their day. As a team that have always worked on their laptop’s behind a desk, there is not much differentiation between pre and during COVID. Although we are not passing conversations over a coffee whilst the kettle boils. Not having human interaction has impacted our headspace.  Mental health has played a significant factor on individual’s motivations albeit understandably. It has been at the forefront of news and focusing on employer’s wellbeing whilst they are out of the office. Employers were never aware of the overriding situations some employees face outside of the workplace. 

CIPD have released statistics surrounding mental health and the workplace and the necessary support needed, and this was published pre COVID-19. Absences at work related to mental health was the most common cause of long-term sickness in UK workplaces. It was found that stress related absences were at an all time high within the last year since the pandemic had begun. Now there is no definite impact of our mental health combined with the COVID-19 scenario. 

We all are trying new things to take up our never-ending spare time, like baking, taking up a new sport, new hobby, crafts starting a new business we have all done it all. But however, what we need to do is all look out for one another. Stand tall, breathe, and text your friends and loved ones and continue checking in. One thing we can all take from this crazy year is that our jobs will continually enquire and check in with staff to see how they are doing. 

The importance in looking after staff is that this will help their motivation levels and to be understanding towards the concerns and needs of your staff whilst they work in a new and unexpected way. Like working from home and managing childcare whilst working in a different environment. We need to all help one another and understand if individuals need to take time off to look after a family member or loved one. 

Supporting employees and being open about difficult changes in the workplace along with the furlough scheme matters can be dealt with sensitively. As communication is important to be presented in a clear and calm way. Supporting your team is vital as your management style should suit the needs of each person and let them have preference to how they communicate whether it be via phone, video, or email. This channel of communication should be regular to see how they are coping.

You should always check:

  • How they are feeling
  • How their work is going and if they need any support
  • If they have the right set up when working from home

Spotting possible signs of mental health issues

  • Appearing tired, anxious, or withdrawn
  • Increase in sickness absence or being late to work
  • Changes in the standard of their work or the ability to focus on tasks
  • Being less interested in tasks they previously have enjoyed
  • Changes in usual behaviour, mood or how the person behaves with the people they work with.

The sooner employers spot these signs in their employees are working from home, you have minimal contact with them or when many can be feeling a heightened level of anxiety and stress. Always regularly ask your staff how they’ ae doing, and they will feel safe in an environment to be open and honest on how they’re feeling. Always be on hand for support, the sooner you speak up the happier you will feel.

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admin March 8, 2021 0 Comments