By Ross Macintyre
Digital freelancing sounds pretty glamorous. The general consensus is that you charge more, work fewer hours and never miss a Jeremy Kyle. ‘You’re living the dream’ is the chorus from envious people who complain about their own working situation, then shrug their shoulders as they accept their fate in the career rat race (guys, do something you enjoy…).
Digital marketing isn’t something that should be isolated from other activities, it just needs to be treated as another communications channel in your armoury. However with technological advancements happening at the speed of fibre optic broadband, it’s essential to get out and keep abreast of the ever-changing digital landscape, including myself a couple of weekends ago (…the real life of a freelancer)!
I found myself at ‘Wordcamp 2016’ at the London Metropolitan University, an opportunity for anyone to sharpen their WordPress knowledge. In non-geek speak, WordPress is considered the most powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS) available. To put WordPress into perspective, it powers around 25 per cent of websites you visit online and continues to be an extremely popular choice for its ease in setting up a website in a few clicks.
The main aspect that is find deeply encouraging about an ‘open source platform’ like WordPress (freely available to modify and redistribute) is that it democratises publishing, enabling anyone to have a voice in the great internet space. This was reflected at the Wordcamp event, as casual users to hardcore developers are encouraged to participate, share ideas and ‘get amongst it’. It was a greatly humbling experience and will encourage anyone who’s interested in building websites to get involved. Not only did the event share insights on the platform, but also provided some excellent best practice advice on content strategy, user experience, and understanding your audience to name a few.
Whether you’re thinking of setting up a website (with or without a web developer), it is never more important than now to keep search engines like Google happy. A recent study states that 88% of shoppers research products online before purchase, so it’s worth keeping a couple of key considerations into account. A website with excellent content can speak volumes, and if your messaging is compelling, unique and uses relevant keywords to grab attention, then you’re on your way. You can understand what are popular search terms around your industry with an online tool such as Google Trends (www.google.co.uk/trends), providing great search insights on keywords and phrases. You can also use Google’s keyword planner (www.adwords.google.co.uk/KeywordPlanner) to gain visibility of alternative keywords that may be used by your audience. These tools are excellent to help with content planning and a search marketing strategy.
Additionally, design and user experience is gaining greater importance with search engines as multiple smartphone and tablet devices saturate the Western market. Having your content displayed responsively across all devices, with your ‘call to action’ buttons clearly visible and ‘thumb friendly’ for mobile users, and an intuitive site journey to encourage a seamless user experience will win you significant brownie points. Another Google tool to use is its mobile friendly checker (www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) which will determine how well your website displays on mobile devices.
There is no end to continually improving your online web presence, with the key benefit being the ability to receive real-time data to evolve and refine your activity. It’s just as well as user online expectations are more demanding than ever, with the well-known statistic that 100ms of latency costs Amazon.com one per cent in sales. So ensure you have the tools (and the people) on side to get your online business presence set up and running in good shape.