NSDesign https://www.nsdesign.co.uk Making Digital Work Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:04:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Should your business have a blog? https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/should-your-business-have-a-blog/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/should-your-business-have-a-blog/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:04:30 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4164 Some estimates say that 80% of businesses are now blogging – a number that may rise even further. Blogs can be highly beneficial for businesses – generating traffic, reaching new... Read more »

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business blogSome estimates say that 80% of businesses are now blogging – a number that may rise even further. Blogs can be highly beneficial for businesses – generating traffic, reaching new people and even helping to convert visitors to customers. So is it right for your business, and what do you need to consider before starting a blog?

Why blog:

Share your expertise

A blog can be an excellent way to share the expertise in your business and demonstrate to potential customers that you know your stuff. It can also help add a personal element to your website and help reassure your visitors that you are a trustworthy business.

Create content for social media

If your business is already on social media then blogging can help you create interesting content to share across your social media channels – vital for creating an engaged following.

Increase traffic to your website

Blogging is excellent for increasing traffic to your website, as your website will have more frequently updated content to be indexed in search engines. Websites with a blog have 434% more pages indexed by Google than those without.

Reach and convert customers

Overall, blogging can help you reach more people, plus convert more visitors to your website into customers. A study found that 60% of people feel more positive about a company after reading their blog and 61% made a purchase after reading a blog post.

Before you start, consider:

Can you commit to regular posts?

Blogging can be extremely beneficial to businesses but it is important to consider if you have the resources available to commit to blogging. To get results from a business blog, it is important to be consistent. Make sure you have enough members of staff to maintain a blog on a regular basis. Aim to blog at least weekly for best results.

Also, make sure there is someone who can proofread and edit your blogs before they go live, as bad spelling and grammar can undo all the positive effects a blog could have on your business.

Do you have something to say that is interesting to your customers or prospects?

Before you start blogging, make sure you have something to say! Many businesses make the mistake of blogging about topics that are only interesting internally. Only start a blog if you are sure you can create content that will be of interest to your readers. Not sure what to blog about? The most commonly asked questions by your customers are a good place to start. Alternatively, ask a few friendly customers what content they would find useful. Some popular blog formats include “how to” articles or behind-the-scenes posts.

Finally, a good way to ensure a variety of topics is to make a plan of what you will blog about, always keeping your reader in mind.

Conclusion

Blogging can be highly beneficial to businesses, but before you get started, make sure you have a content plan in place and the resources needed to maintain a blog to a high standard. Aim to always produce content for your target audience, not for your company.

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Why responsive design helps your website’s Google ranking https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/why-responsive-design-helps-your-websites-google-ranking/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/why-responsive-design-helps-your-websites-google-ranking/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 11:50:47 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4161 We have long been advocates of a responsive design for business websites, and a recent announcement from Google has further reinforced the importance of ensuring your website is responsive and... Read more »

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Responsive website design We have long been advocates of a responsive design for business websites, and a recent announcement from Google has further reinforced the importance of ensuring your website is responsive and works across all devices.

What is responsive design?

Websites with a responsive design respond to the device that is being used, changing layout and in some cases the functionality to best fit the environment. The idea behind responsive design is that no matter where someone views your website – on a mobile, tablet or a large desktop – they will have a good user experience.

Why is responsive design important for Google rankings?

Although responsive design has been a good idea for optimum user experience for a while, it is now also important for search engine optimisation. This is because Google recently announced a change in the way that they will rank search results on mobile devices. This change means that sites that are mobile friendly will be prioritised over those that are not.

This could have a significant effect on traffic to your business website, especially as the number of people using different mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to search is constantly increasing.

There’s a number of ways to ensure your website is mobile friendly, including creating a separate mobile site. However, we recommend a implementing a responsive site over a separate mobile site, and Google also recommends using a responsive design. The reasons for this include:

  • Responsive sites ensure consistency. A responsive site makes it easier to ensure both sites are consistent and up to date. Having a separate site for mobile users means you need to manage and update the content on two websites.
  • Responsive sites work on more devices. The number of devices used to access the internet is growing, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. While a mobile site is normally set up to work on certain screen sizes, a responsive site is the best way to ensure as many users as possible have a consistent experience.
  • Responsive sites have a single URL. Users on a responsive website go to the same web address. This is less confusing for visitors and they will always be in the right place.
  • Responsive sites are better for search engine optimisation. In addition to these new changes, responsive sites already have a number of SEO benefits as opposed to separate mobile sites. Responsive sites are easier to index so Google are likely to index more of your site.

What happens next

From 21st April 2015 Google will start prioritising mobile friendly sites in their search results. From this point, if your site isn’t mobile friendly it is less likely to get shown. Google constantly makes changes to their algorithm, so is possible that at some stage non-mobile friendly sites won’t get shown at all. To check if your website is deemed mobile friendly by Google, you can use their online tool.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, don’t worry. Get in touch and we can talk you through the options for moving to a responsive website.

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10 common mistakes businesses make on social media https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/10-common-mistakes-businesses-make-on-social-media/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/10-common-mistakes-businesses-make-on-social-media/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:24:11 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4154 Social media has many benefits for businesses – it can help you reach new audiences, keep you front-of-mind with customers, and drive sales. But it can require effort and training... Read more »

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social mediaSocial media has many benefits for businesses – it can help you reach new audiences, keep you front-of-mind with customers, and drive sales. But it can require effort and training to use the channels correctly. Here are the most common mistakes you should be aware of:

1. Using too many social media channels

Not many businesses have the time or resources to manage an account on every social media channel, yet many seem to sign up to them all in their initial enthusiasm. Instead, pick the ones that are most relevant to the business and focus your efforts on those. Being on too many channels can also lead to…

2. Abandoned channels

Keep stock of the channels you have set up and get rid of any that are no longer being updated. Accounts languishing with no activity won’t do your business any favours.

3. Not on the right channels

Likewise, choose the social media channels that are most relevant to your audience, by using your expertise to run analytics on your customer base. Choosing to use Instagram when your customers are more likely to be on LinkedIn is unlikely to get results.

4. Not having a plan

Talking of getting results, although you might not need a full-on social media strategy, at the very least, you should have a plan for how you are going to develop your content on social media and what you’re trying to achieve.

5. Posting too much or too little

Many businesses struggle to get the balance right at first, either posting far too frequently or hardly ever. To combat this, spend some time studying other businesses who are successful on social. There’s no fixed rules on how often to post, but generally once a day (or more) works well on Twitter, much less on Facebook.

6. No engagement

Another frequent mistake is forgetting to use social in the way it is intended – as a social channel. Don’t just broadcast messages – monitor comments, respond and engage with others. Customers who feel engaged with your brand will more likely seek business with your company.

7. Giving up too soon

One of the reasons for the many abandoned accounts is that businesses give up too quickly when they don’t see results. It’s easy to be disheartened when you only have a few followers, but perseverance and consistency are the keys to lasting success on social media. If you take care to keep putting out relevant, interesting content, you will generate a following.

8. Not publicising the fact they are on social media

Wondering why no one is following you? Promote the fact you are on social media and give people a reason to follow you. Add a link to your emails and add details to printed material such as business cards and brochures, along with an incentive to check you out.

9. Not considering their audience

When deciding what to share, consider your audience and share a mix of your own content as well as interesting or useful content from others. Create tailored messages for each channel e.g. write tweets specifically for Twitter, rather than just reposting from Facebook.

10. Going off brand

Stick to your brand values. Even though you are on social media, that doesn’t mean you need to abandon your usual tone of voice and suddenly start writing in slang and text speak. It will come across as inauthentic and could actually off-put your intended audience.

Overall, know your audience and think about what they want to read and how to reach them. Following these tips will help you make your social media sparkle and avoid the pitfalls which could lose your following.

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How email marketing could benefit your business https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/how-email-marketing-could-benefit-your-business/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/how-email-marketing-could-benefit-your-business/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 12:14:52 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4150 Email marketing sometimes gets cast aside in favour of its newer, shinier relation, social media marketing. But even though it may be considered less cutting-edge, email is a highly effective... Read more »

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Email marketingEmail marketing sometimes gets cast aside in favour of its newer, shinier relation, social media marketing. But even though it may be considered less cutting-edge, email is a highly effective marketing tactic that could be hugely beneficial to your business.

 

Communicate in a fast, targeted, cost-effective way

Email has big advantages for businesses: it is cheap, receiver-specific and fast. Emails can cost as little as pennies to send, much more cost-effective than other forms of direct marketing communications. The relatively low cost means it can deliver excellent return on investment: on average, every £1 spent on email marketing can generate a return of over £40.

But emails still retain the direct marketing benefits (over social media marketing) of sending to a targeted receiving list – real-world contacts – and communicating richer information content than, for example, short tweets.

Emails are also much quicker to put together than paper direct mail, and could easily be conceived, created, sent and delivered in the space of one day, something that would be impossible when sending communication via post.

Increase engagement with your business

Email is a great way to keep in touch with your existing customers and contacts. The people who opt-in to receive your email newsletters are often your biggest fans. Email marketing offers an opportunity for you to deepen your relationship with them with regular updates, which can help to keep your business at the front of their mind.

Email marketing works in tandem with content marketing, and by distributing your content through email you can demonstrate the depth of your expertise and build trust in your business.

Increase sales

Many businesses successfully use emails to drive up sales. It can be a highly effective sales tool, and nearly half (44%) of email recipients say they have made at least one purchase based on a promotional email. You could use email to:

  • Notify your list of special offers.
  • Remind shoppers about products they’ve left in their basket.
  • Offer time-limited promotions.
  • Let people know about new products or services.
  • Remind customers to reorder consumables.
  • Win back old customers with reactivation offers.

Send customised, trackable messages

Another big advantage of emails over paper mail is their flexibility. You could send targeted campaigns to certain people on your list, or even test out new ideas or subject lines with an A/B test on a small segment of your contacts.

They are also very easy to customise, so it is simple to add personalisation like names, or tailor your mailings to the topics people are interested in.

Finally, the links in emails are tracked, so you will be able to see who clicked on what and which content is the most popular.

Give email marketing a try

Nearly every business can benefit from email communications, so don’t rule email out until you have given it a try. One final benefit – it’s really easy to get started. Even email marketing novices have no trouble with NSMail, our online email newsletter tool. We can design and build a template for you, so all you have to do is add the content, press send, then wait to see the results in our reporting dashboard.

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3 quick ways to make your website more user friendly https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/3-quick-ways-make-website-user-friendly/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/3-quick-ways-make-website-user-friendly/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:32:31 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4145 As a user experience-focused agency, we believe that the usability of a website is vital to its success. Your users should be central to the design process – after all,... Read more »

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Content - make things betterAs a user experience-focused agency, we believe that the usability of a website is vital to its success. Your users should be central to the design process – after all, they are the ones that will be interacting with your website. Even if you are not planning to redesign your website anytime soon, there’s still many fairly quick and easy ways to make your website more user friendly, and ultimately, more successful.

1. Make content scannable

People read websites differently to paper – they scan the page quickly in an F pattern looking for the information they’re trying to find. It’s a quick process, and they’ll go elsewhere after seconds if they don’t find what they need. Re-structuring your website content to make it scannable is an easy fix that can have a big impact on user experience.

Make your copy easier to scan by:

  • Making sure the most important content is in the top right hand of the page.
  • Using subheadings to break up the content.
  • Highlighting key points in bold.
  • Use bullet points rather than long, meandering sentences.

2. Remove frustrations

Little niggling frustrations like slow-loading pages and broken links may not matter too much on their own, but when added together they are enough to drive people away from your site. It doesn’t take long to quickly check and remove some of the main sources of frustrations for your visitors.

Page load speed

If your website is slow to load, you may not have any visitors. Nearly half (47%) of internet users expect pages to load in under two seconds and if your page doesn’t load within three seconds, over half (57%) will leave your website.

There are many tools, including this one from Google, which will quickly identify what’s causing your website to load slowly. Your images may also be affecting your page load speed, so make sure they are optimised for the web (for example, 72dpi resolution is often sufficient for online use).

Broken links

As with loading speeds, there are free tools that will quickly identify any broken links on your website so you can fix them and remove a potential source of frustration.

3. Put your user needs first

Work on identifying the top tasks of users when they come to your website, and make sure these are prioritised and easy to find. Your top tasks will be dependent on your individual business and the needs of your users – but it could be as simple as making your phone number more obvious and easier to find. As an example, Manchester Council’s homepage is very clearly based around top tasks, in this case paying council tax and getting more information about bins.

Also remember that people might not come to your website via your homepage, so they will still need an easy way to complete their tasks from any location on your website.

Making a few tweaks to improve the ease of completing top tasks can have dramatic results: the Norwegian Cancer Society saw a 70% increase in donations and a 164% increase in members after re-prioritising their website to focus on user needs.

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Why hire a digital agency? https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/hire-digital-agency/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/hire-digital-agency/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:55:33 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4141 There’s many reasons that working with a digital agency is a good idea – we find most organisations that come to us are looking for help with using digital in... Read more »

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Digital agencyThere’s many reasons that working with a digital agency is a good idea – we find most organisations that come to us are looking for help with using digital in the most effective way. They know they should have a responsive website and be on social media, but they aren’t sure exactly how to go about it. With that in mind, here’s how your business could benefit from working with an agency…

Expertise

Unless you’re a worldwide corporate giant, it’s likely that you won’t have in-house expertise for every eventuality. This is especially true for tasks that don’t happen every day, like redesigning your website. Working with an agency can often work out more cost effective than employing someone to do this kind of work, and you’ll also benefit from the breadth of knowledge within an agency. For example, when designing a website, we call upon the expertise of many members of our team; our designers, developers, copywriters, user experience and marketing experts all provide input using their specialist knowledge. At NS Design, we have particular expertise in user experience, which is crucial for ensuring your websites are enjoyable to use and provide a friction free experience for your users.

There’s other benefits, too – our staff work with digital every day, and they make it their business to keep up to date with the industry. Partnering with an agency will help ensure that you are following current best practice and that your website or project will not need updating before it has even gone live.

Get an outside perspective

Even if you do have relevant expertise in-house, working with a digital agency can help you get a fresh perspective, which is especially useful for projects that are stalling or struggling. Once you’ve been working somewhere for a while, even if you don’t mean to, it can be easy to see problems from a specific point of view. So in this situation, someone from outside your business can help find solutions from a different viewpoint. Not sure why your website isn’t ranking well on Google or why people are unsubscribing from your newsletter? Our consultants can help identify the issues and find options for moving forward.

Upskill your team

An agency can also help you upskill your internal team. Learning from experts means you’re less likely to waste valuable time doing digital activity that’s not beneficial for your business, and you’ll also be able sidestep common problems that less savvy businesses might encounter.

We provide bespoke training for businesses on areas such as social media, always with a focus on getting business results from online activity.

Results-focused

Unlike your staff, we are exclusively focused on digital. This means we are outside of the day-to-day tasks of your office, and we can focus on getting results and help drive projects forward. We like to think of ourselves as your digital partners, working with you to help achieve your business goals and effectively use digital to connect with your customers and prospects.

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One Year with NSDesign https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/one-year-nsdesign/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/one-year-nsdesign/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:26:29 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4101 Here’s… Jonny! January marked the month of my first year with the team at NSDesign! Where has the time gone? Every time I write a blog, it feels more like... Read more »

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Here’s… Jonny!

January marked the month of my first year with the team at NSDesign! Where has the time gone? Every time I write a blog, it feels more like a rant – usually me moaning about how time has gone so fast! I’ll keep this one short however and share with you a snippet of my first year here, at NSDesign.

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Were you naughty or nice? Our Christmas social media experiment. https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/naughty-or-nice-christmas-social-media-experiment/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/naughty-or-nice-christmas-social-media-experiment/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:46:46 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4118 The week before Christmas – the NSDesign team posed for a festive photo dressed in our Christmas Jumpers and Santa Hats.  I’m sorry to have to tell you – that... Read more »

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The week before Christmas – the NSDesign team posed for a festive photo dressed in our Christmas Jumpers and Santa Hats.  I’m sorry to have to tell you – that the whole thing was a prank (or a social experiment if you want to put it another way).

It was a setup – a test to see if people were Naughty or Nice.

Here’s the image again….

Chrismas Jumpers

 

On first glance it just looks like a fun festive photo – the usual shenanigans than go on in here, resulting in a social media selfie!  But look closer… and you’ll maybe spot something in the bottom left of the photo.

Yes – that’s a login to our private Client Database.  Or is it…

 

Just after taking the photo, we put it straight onto our Facebook page.  We also Tweeted it, and for good measure, sent it out in a “Merry Christmas”  email to all our clients and anyone subscribed to our newsletter.

Within seconds, we started seeing web traffic on the page in question.

http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/clientlist

A LOT of traffic…  In the space of 2 days, over 800 people had tried to access (and login to) our private Client list.  Why – because we publically promoted the login details.  Over 800 naughty people tried to hack into our system…  and saw this:

Tut tut tut

Many of the naughty people instantly contacted us to confess, and laugh at the trick we’d successfully played on them.  Many of them took to Twitter to help share our photo and spread the joke further.

But then we got some Nice people…  Nice people who when they saw our Facebook post, or when they received our email, instantly replied (many phoned) to warn us about the terrible mistake that we had made, urging us to change passwords and take the photo down asap.  Nice people who again laughed when we came clean about our prank to them, and who joined in the fun with messages across social media.

To be honest – not everyone of the nice people saw the joke.  Having taken to the time to warn us, a couple were upset that we wasted their time, and for that I truly apologise.  And thank you for caring enough to try and help (I hope you’d do it again too!).  I suspect we upset a few naughty people too..  but we didn’t hear back from them ;)

 

What can we deduce from our little Social Experiment?

1) Most people are nice.

From over 20,000 views of the photo (the approx combined number of views via our mailing list, Facebook,  Twitter and a few other places), just less than 1000 people (5%) tried to login to our site.  This means that 19,000 of them (95%) were either nice, or just didn’t actually spot the details on the white board.

2) Even nice people can be naughty.

From the many naughty people we spoke to afterwards, we know that they’re all nice people really – and who can blame them for trying to take a peek at our private client details if we’re that stupid to make them public to the world.

3) Private data is being given away every day.

While ours was a prank – I could list you a dozen other examples that I saw myself in 2014, where companies have actually made the idiotic mistake that we pretended to make.  A selfie taken in the wrong place with client emails open on the screen behind them, or a team photo with confidential material visible for all to see in the background.  Even minor things like the wrong framed football top on the manager’s office wall can result in problems for your business, so be very careful about sharing images.  But do share them…  just consider your surroundings first before doing so.

 

Social Media mistakes from companies and their staff is often cited as being one of the most valuable lessons learned from our ‘Embrace the Space’ masterclass.  Come along and learn how to make social media work for your business, and enjoy a great day with myself and Colin. We promise no pranks.  Honest ;)

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Social media in a crisis. https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/social-media-crisis/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/social-media-crisis/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:38:40 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4113 The latest safety flash from the International Marine Contractors Association contains a warning for businesses (particularly those in the B-2-B sector) who think an awareness of social media best practice doesn’t... Read more »

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The latest safety flash from the International Marine Contractors Association contains a warning for businesses (particularly those in the B-2-B sector) who think an awareness of social media best practice doesn’t apply to them.

To summarise, a small vessel transferring crew who work on a wind turbine, suffered a fire at sea.

During the incident, while efforts were ongoing in an attempt to extinguish the fire and keep everyone safe, some members of the team working on the wind turbine, who could see the incident unfolding below them, took pictures of what was happening and distributed them via social media. Some posts included the name of the vessel involved and could be seen by friends and family of those on board who did not know at that stage if their loved ones were safe.

In this case, no-one suffered any injuries but the company responsible for the staff who shared the images risked damage to its reputation and I’m pleased to say carried out some training after the event and reminded them of the policies they have to follow.

Having delivered social media training to businesses of all sizes, throughout Glasgow, the West of Scotland and across the UK over the last 6 years, we understand that B-2-B companies are different from smaller, local businesses.

But these large companies are often subject to intense scrutiny and all manner of rules and regulations. This case demonstrates the need for all staff to undergo some training – not simply senior management or the marketing department.

The fact is decades of good work can be undone by a single member of staff or contractor who shares something on their personal Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin channel without thinking.

Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

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Can Google+ help my business? Yes it can – and here’s the proof! https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/can-google-help-business-yes-can-heres-proof/ https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/can-google-help-business-yes-can-heres-proof/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 09:56:51 +0000 http://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4105 One of the questions we get asked regularly at the Social Media Training workshops we run – is “Can Google Plus help my business?” It’s a very good question, because... Read more »

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One of the questions we get asked regularly at the Social Media Training workshops we run – is “Can Google Plus help my business?”

Google+_screenshot

It’s a very good question, because unlike some of the more obvious and immediate benefits that people understand in relation to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, many small businesses see Google+ as yet another social media channel that they really don’t have the time to update.

Well my plea to you today is – FIND THE TIME!

In order to prove the value of Google Plus to you – please follow these simple instructions.  And if you’re not convinced that Google+ can help in the next 3 minutes (because that’s all it should take), then feel free to ignore it, and spend your valuable time doing something else to help market your business.

1) Go to Google, and search for “Can Google plus help my business” – you’ll see loads of results, from a wide variety of sources, but probably none of them from NSDesign.

2) Now ‘Login’ to Google (assuming you actually do have a Google login – which most people now do – it’s needed for ANY Google product such as GMail, Google Calendar, etc).  You can probably skip this step as you’re maybe already logged in!

3) Visit the NSDesign Google+ Page and Click on the orange “+Follow” button, adding us to one of your circles (any of the circles will do).

4) Now head back to Google’s main search page and search again for the phrase – Can Google Plus help my business

 

What you should now see in the Search Results page – is not only a link to our post on Google Plus about this subject, but a nice wee visual of our Logo too.  To stress, we’re now on page 1 (hopefully near the top) of Google, for a search that you just performed.  We weren’t 2 minutes ago?  But we are now.

And it’s not just because we asked you to type something very specific into Google either…  Try searching for the more generic “Social Media Training” and see what you get?  Are we on there?  Probably!

 

What does all this prove….

In my opinion (and form the results that we see) Google+ is fast becoming a game-changer when it comes to SEO.

Search Engine Optimisation has always focused on keywords, content, backlinks and more.  And for the foreseeable future – these SEO elements are still extremely important.  But Google clearly has a strategy of making search more personal.  More tailored to each individual user of Google.  There’s no such thing as the “Top Of Google” anymore, as it’s different for every single person.

So to summarise my advice:

1) Embrace Google plus, and create a Google+ Business Page if you haven’t already.
2) Try and add regular content to that page (as well as maybe your own personal profile).  Talk about the things you do and the problems you solve.
3) Work hard to Grow your audience on Google plus.

The last point is perhaps the hardest part – building up the numbers of people who follow you.  But if you get them, and they later search for something you’ve posted on your Google+ page – well done – you’re pretty much Top of Google, and all of this from just being Social.

Let me know how it works for you!

The post Can Google+ help my business? Yes it can – and here’s the proof! appeared first on NSDesign.

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