What are the most effective Digital Marketing Channels?

In an increasingly online world, digital marketing provides some of the best methods to get your products or services to the best possible audience.

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admin January 16, 2024 0 Comments

How to be Greener online

What? How is this even a thing? How can your online activity negatively affect the environment? These are questions that I was certainly asking myself a week or so ago and may have also been your reaction to seeing this blog title. However, the massive spread of the internet in the previous decades has released hundreds of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are many small changes you could make to the online habits that can help you be greener online.

Where are the gases coming from?

There are two main sources of greenhouse gases that you need to bear in mind. The first is the actual power that is needed to run computers, servers and other related hardware. These all rely on electricity, so whether your electricity is primarily generated by coal or wind can make a huge difference. The second source is more indirect such as the manufacturing of components as well as then shipping these components globally. 

What is referred to as the information communication and technology industry, (essentially the internet and everything attached to it) is responsible for around 2% of global emissions, at over 830 million tonnes of CO2 annually. As you will, every little action you do online requires processing power and contributes to your carbon footprint. 

Easy ways you can be greener online

Before we start in earnest, I need to make clear what CO2e is. There are many different polluting gases but CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is the most infamous. To understand global warming potential more easily, CO2e (CO2 equivalent) was created as an umbrella term used to represent pollution. Rather than breaking down pollution by different polluting gasses, CO2e represents the number of metric tonnes of other greenhouse gasses equivalent to CO2. For a more scientific understanding of CO2e, click here.

1. Green email etiquette

It is estimated that an email can result in between 4gs and 50gs of CO2e. An email’s length, attachments and how many recipients it will have influence the amount of CO2e released. The average office worker’s email is responsible for an estimated equivalent to 0.6 tonnes of CO2e annually. This is equivalent to the annual per capita carbon footprint of developing Sri Lanka. The average office worker is polluting as much as the average person from Sri Lanka from their emails alone. Here are two specific positive changes you could make to your email habits right now to make them greener.

Only send necessary emails

It has become common in many businesses to CC everyone who is connected to a subject into an email chain. People then reply to this chain, sending many more emails than are probably necessary. Limit the use of “reply all” and be more conscious about sending emails only to those who really need them.

Unsubscribe from irrelevant email newsletters

Many email inboxes are filled with random newsletters that the user no longer reads or even ever considers reading. These are another example of pointless emails which only serve to pollute. If you have monthly newsletters from sites you are no longer engaged with, unsubscribe and stop them asap. When a retailer asks something like; “Do you want to hear about our latest news, offers and releases?”, only say yes if you really, really want to.  

2. Optimise your power usage

Do you ever leave your desk for a meeting and leave your computer alone to slowly enter rest/sleep mode? While this will save you a few minutes on your return, you have turned your computer into a polluting machine. 

An energy-efficient computer burns anywhere between 15 and 60 watts of energy while being used. This is much higher than the 2-5 watts used when in rest/sleep mode. If you are leaving your computer for more than a few minutes, put it straight into rest/sleep mode. This can be done automatically by setting how long the period of inactivity needs to be before it enters rest. You should set this to be as low as possible without really negatively affecting how you work. If you are away from your computer for more than a couple of hours, you should really shut it down. 

Rest/sleep mode is not a silver bullet to this problem because of the ominous-sounding issue of Vampire Power. This refers to the phenomenon that even when electrical applications are switched off, they still often draw between 0.5 and 2 watts of energy while still plugged in. Ensuring that you unplug things like chargers or lamps at the end of the day can make a huge difference in your energy consumption. This has the benefits of both reducing your impact on the environment and reducing your overhead costs.

3. Streamline your searches

The use of a search engine can emit between 0.2 and 0.7 grams of CO2e per search. This is because each online search requires multiple different servers located all over the world. Searches from tablets and smartphones emit at the lower end of this spectrum whereas laptops and computers emit at the higher end of the spectrum. 

Using a mobile device for non-work related searches as well as trying to limit the number of unnecessary searches you make daily can have a big impact. Obviously, I am not saying you should limit yourself to 5 searches a day or anything like that, just try and make efficiencies where you can. 

For example, when I am writing and want to find a synonym for a word, I used to just type the word into google followed by the word synonym. I would find a good synonym and close the tab, but more often than not, I do a couple of synonym searches every day. To stop making so many unnecessary searches, I now get up synonyms.com, pin the tab and utilise it throughout the day. It is steps like this which once worked into your online habits, can make a positive impact on your carbon footprint.

4. Choose a greener hosting provider

Websites must have a host. The current most common hosting method is via servers, which are responsible for considerable emissions. Keeping these servers operating smoothly and reliably takes considerable electricity. This is in terms of powering the servers as well as using electricity to cool the servers to prevent overheating. These emissions are so significant that it is estimated that the global network of data centres accounts for the same amount of emissions as the global airline industry. As the demand for hosting continues to increase, so will the environmental impact of both creating new servers and maintaining existing servers.

However, cloud computing provides a real opportunity as this system of hosting has a much lesser impact on the environment than traditional hosting options. As well as this, there are now companies that specialise in green web hosting. This is where the host aims to at least reduce, if not completely negate your hosting carbon footprint. This is done primarily by ensuring they use renewable energy sources to power their data centres. Some will also donate an amount of money to renewable programs for each new customer or expand their existing carbon capture schemes.

The market leader in this industry is Green Geeks, an American cloud-based hosting provider. Energy efficiency is a major tenant of the company and for every bit of power they draw from the power grid, they fund 3 times the amount in renewable energy. 

They also plant one tree for every new hosting account, further contributing to their carbon capture credentials. Follow this link to the Green Geeks homepage.

5. Design your website to be greener

There are certain resources that are very common on many websites, but require a lot of processing power. This makes them more of an environmental problem. Being on a page with many animated gifs, advertisements, and videos are responsible for much more CO2e than a more simple web page. This is because these resources require more processing power.  

Even if the difference between these examples could be only a matter of 0.2-0.5 grams of CO2e a minute, as this is scaled up to the dwell times of popular sites, it can have serious repercussions. There can also be benefits to your SEO, website speed and customer experience by streamlining your website in this way.

You should also endeavour to make your web page as print-friendly as possible. Let me paint you a scenario. You need to print information from a website so simply press ctrl-p. The printout however rearranges what you saw on your screen to split the page over multiple pages as well as printing ads and links which have no use. This then results in some editing and a reprint. If this is repeated by all the visitors to your website who need to print something else, you are indirectly responsible for a lot of wasted paper, electricity, and ink.

6. Understand your websites impact

Interested in seeing how green your website is? Website Carbon Calculator is able to work this out from your URL alone. The calculator tells you how dirtier your website is compared to the other websites it has tested. It tells you how many grams of CO2e is produced every time a visitor comes to the website, as well as how much CO2e is produced annually. This is presented by how many sumo wrestlers worth of CO2e is produced annually (not a joke), and how many trees would be needed to absorb the amount of CO2 the website is responsible for each year. 

It takes less than a minute to work all this out and is definitely worth a go. Click here for the link to the Website Carbon Calculator.

Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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admin January 18, 2022 0 Comments

The 4 Golden Tips for Working From Home

At the time of writing, offices all over Cardiff have fallen quiet. The New Year has brought back work from home in Wales due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Although I am sure many of you are already accidental or unexpected experts at working from home, in this unpredictable world it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your practices. Here are Levitate’s 4 Golden Tips to help you through the often uniquely challenging world of working from home.

1. Establish a work-space with set boundaries

If you have a home office, ideal. However, if you, like me, do not have a home office, it is crucial to establish where you will be working in order to tailor this area into a quiet, private, and focused workspace. Keeping all of your work-related devices, documents or anything else in this area helps you maintain a positive work-life balance. The last thing you want to be thinking about after a long, solitary day of working from home is work so boundaries are very important. 

Boundaries are also important if there are other members of your household who will be around when you are working from home. Depending on the flexibility of your specific work from home job, you may be able to use this time to spend some more time with your children than you otherwise would have. However, you should make sure that everyone in your household knows that you are not on holiday but still have to work.

Have a discussion with the people you live with and maybe discourage them from interrupting you when you are sitting in your workspace. Similarly, ensure that your employer does not take advantage of their ability to contact you easily in your home office. When you finish your shift, really try and put the days work behind you and spend some time with your loved ones or doing something you truly enjoy.

2. Routine, routine, routine

Similar to our last point, this tip aims to help you clearly demarcate between your work life and your home life. By creating, and sticking to schedules, you are able to become more productive at work and more relaxed when not working. I know this is easier said than done but humans are creatures of habit and once you proactively begin to design schedules and routines, working from home becomes a lot easier.  

However, you must craft a routine that is right for you, rather than changing yourself drastically to fit the easiest schedule. If you are someone who needs 8 hours of sleep to function, do not change this just because you want to start working earlier to finish earlier. On the other hand, you should try and avoid waking up 5 minutes before you are due to start and just work from your bed.

Why don’t you try and act as if you still have to go into work? Wake up and get ready as you normally would, getting dressed and having some breakfast. After that, you could use the time you normally spend commuting into work to do some exercise, listen to some music, or do whatever else you like to do when you have some spare time. This way, your body is ready for a proper workday and you have the benefit of some extra time before work!

3. Eliminate (or at least minimise) distractions

Without a home office, it can be difficult to eliminate the many distractions of modern life. Putting your phone on silent is one thing but this is often only the distracting tip of the procrastinating iceberg. Let me run you through a distraction I faced while working from home and how I have countered it.

Initially, during this pandemic, I would study on my desk right in front of the TV and my PS4. I do have some self-control but the temptation of a quick 15-minute gaming or Netflix session was sometimes too much to bear (I would like to make it clear that I am of course referring to a time before I worked for Levitate when I was still a university student). My solution to this problem? Move the PS4 into the living room during the week so I am not tempted. It is easier than you may think to make changes such as this to really focus your working environment.

If you live near the noisy neighbourhood bog, maybe look into noise-cancelling headphones or playing something to cover the barking like music, a podcast or some white noise. If you find yourself constantly tidying up your home in order to procrastinate, ensure your home or at least your workspace is as organised as possible before starting your shift. Finally, if you have small children, maybe buy a Disney+ account or some LEGO (I am not a parent and will not pretend to know what to do with children).

4. Be kind to yourself and everyone around you.

This should of course be something you should strive for in everyday life, regardless of whether you work from home or not. However, the nature of working from home means that by actively trying to cut yourself and others a bit of slack, it becomes a much less daunting prospect. 

For example, what tone you read an email in can sometimes drastically change its effect. If you receive an email that comes across as a bit snappy for no reason, just remember that it is probably not written in that way on purpose. Communication often involves facial expressions, tone of voice, and many other factors that are impossible to take into account with emails. Just be aware that sometimes you may be putting a tone on an email that was not intended by the writer.

When communicating with your colleagues, don’t be afraid to throw in the odd exclamation point or emoji! These little additions make it clear to everyone that you are not mean spirited or nasty (as some of those rushed emails may come across otherwise). It might be necessary to be a bit over positive and maybe even over-communicate a little.

Be kind to yourself as well. If you found yourself drifting into a rabbit hole about some non-work-related issue, ask yourself, would have I have done this in the office? Let us not over romanticise offices as some places of complete efficiency, as this is not the case. Everyone gets distracted sometimes, so avoid beating yourself up over the fact you’ve spent 10 minutes reading the news after 2 hours of work. By being overly harsh on yourself, you could end up hurting your productivity and overall happiness, a loose-loose.

Closing remarks

It’s sometimes easy to forget that you are not the only person working from home. When you are talking to colleagues, clients, customers, or anyone else for that matter, just remember that they are likely working from home as well and facing the same challenges as you. COVID-19 has changed the way we work, the way we enjoy our free time and everything between. We can all get through this together if we just strive to be kinder to everyone, including ourselves.

Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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admin January 11, 2022 0 Comments

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

What? Are they not the same?

The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org are as stark as the differences between The Republic of Korea and The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea and North Korea respectively). While that may be some hyperbole, hopefully, this blog will demonstrate the vast differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

For the sake of simplicity, WordPress.com will be referred to as “.com” and WordPress.org will be referred to as “.org”. Now, both .org and .com initially appear as free but in reality, neither are. However, the free services of .org are much more extensive than those offered by .com. Let us begin by looking at the pricing of the two different sites.

Pricing

On .org, costs will be incurred when buying a domain name, setting up and maintaining hosting, accessing pre-made themes, using some plugins, as well as any additional developer or security fees. The free offer of .com includes 3GB of storage space but all the aforementioned features will still have to be purchased. There is the additional indirect cost of having to display WordPress.com ads on your websites for no monetary benefit.

There are however paid plans provided by .com. They are the Personal Plan at £36 ($48) annually, the Premium Plan £84 ($113) annually, the Business Plan at £240 ($322) annually, and the eCommerce Plan at £432 ($580). None of these plans offers anything that is impossible on .org. The unlimited email support offered by all plans and the live chat support available to owners of the Premium, Business, and eCommerce Plans is the only real aspects of this paid service that would not be available through .org. The support that .com offers is highly regarded by customers, but as you will see throughout this blog, it is about all that .com can claim they do better than .org and this comes at a hefty price.

There are some crucial features on .org that can never be replicated for free on .com. If you want an eCommerce or membership style site, these features are available on eCommerce Plan and Business Plan respectively. This means that what can be achieved through plug-ins on .org can only be achieved by paying for the top .com plans.

Plug-ins

In terms of plug-ins, .org is the clear winner. The open-source nature of .org has encouraged thousands to create specific plug-ins to meet specific needs. See our previous blog on our top 5 most essential plug-ins. As well as this, existing plugins can be customised and moulded by one who has the skills. On .com however, there is no free access to plug-ins with them instead offering plug-in-like systems. These can not be modified and can be quite limited in reach. To access plug-ins on .com, you must have at least a Business Plan, costing £240 a year.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is an incredibly important aspect of every website so if you are unfamiliar with the process, see our earlier blog. Presuming you have a good grasp on SEO, let us take our focus back to the .com vs .org dynamic. On .org, there are extensive SEO features as well as access to third party SEO plug-ins such as Yoast SEO. These ensure your website is as optimal as possible in terms of SEO and continues to be into the future. The in-built SEO features of .com are much weaker and the lack of customisation the site provides will likely damage your SEO further. Only with the Business Plan at £240 per annum can you install some plugins to try and improve your SEO.

Monetisation

.org allows you to sell as many ads on your website as you desire. If you want to cram your website with ads or completely leave ads from your website, .org gives you the freedom to do either. Additionally, you will receive 100% of the ad revenue as .org takes no cut. This is in stark contrast to .com who does not allow low or medium traffic websites to independently sell ad space. Only when a site becomes high traffic will .com offer you the choice to start selling ads on your website and sharing the revenue with them.

So just to be clear, they will not let you sell ad space until you are a large enough site and if you decide to host ads,  they will take a noticeable cut. The benefit of a paid plan here is that you are allowed to sell ads before becoming a high traffic website (.com will of course still take their share).

On .com sites, you are forced to display “powered by WordPress.com” as well as ads of their choosing from which you will see no revenue. The Personal and Premium Plans (£36 and £84 annually respectively) allows you to remove their ads from your site. Only with the Business and eCommerce Plans (£240 and £432 annually respectively) will you be able to remove the powered by WordPress.com link.

Themes

.org provides access to countless themes from free default themes to 3rd party designed themes, .org enables you to find the perfect theme for your site. If you can not find one that is quite right, the open-source nature of .org allows you to modify and customise any part you would like. Unsurprisingly, .com is very limited in terms of what pre-existing themes you can choose from and these can not be modified very easily. Users of the Premium Plan at £84 a year will gain the ability to customise aspects of the themes. Only those with an eCommerce Plan at £432 can import 3rd party themes.

How has this happened?

This situation of .com vs .org seems needlessly complicated and nonsensical. How and why do two such different services have such similar names? Let me bring you up to speed with the histories of these two sites.

.org was developed in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. What began as a program made primarily for bloggers, its open-source nature eventually led the site to become the most popular content management system on the web. Matt Mullenweg would go on to use his fortune to establish the WordPress Foundation. The not-for-profit foundation aims to ensure WordPress.org is a “free… (and) stable platform for web publishing for generations to come.” 

.com came onto the market in 2005, 2 years after the launch of .org, owned by a company called Automattic. Automattic also makes some of the most well-known .org plug-ins such as WooCommerce and VaultPress as well as owning social media network Tumblr. Weird how there are two ts in Automattic right? Well here is the big twist moment of this blog; the MATT in AutoMATTic refers to none other than Matt Mullenweg, one of the founders of WordPress.org. 

WordPress.org and WordPress.com are both primarily owned and founded by the same guy.

As shown, they should be seen as very different and separate entities. However, the common histories and the fact they have the same owner and founder creates an intertwined and complex relationship. They probably should have just used more distinct names for their different sites, unless… this confusion is not accidental (please don’t sue me).

Closing remarks

In almost every case, you are better off going for a WordPress.org site rather than a WordPress.com site. In terms of features, value for money, and potential for a great website, .org is the king. Anyone who knows anything about web development and web design will take you much more seriously if you have a .org site. The only benefit of the .com site is its competent customer support features. However, countless agencies would be able to provide you with better service at a better price, while being able to utilise the superior .org to make your website.

Links for WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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admin January 4, 2022 1 Comment

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.

Link to Leviated.co.uk homepage

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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.

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admin November 30, 2021 0 Comments