Last weekend we rolled out the new Goringe Accountants website. The website is all designed and managed in-house by our CTO (and Nicky’s husband) Alex.
The content is all pretty much the same, but the UI design needed a refresh. Lots of hard work was put in and late nights were worked, but I think we are finally there now.
The current website uses WordPress content management system at its core, but that wasn’t always the case. This is actually the fourth major iteration of the website. The very first Alex hand-coded in HTML from scratch back in 2007:
The new site is based on HTML5 and CSS3 for the very latest in web technologies. Including features such as:
- Ultra-responsive design to be mobile friendly
- Parallax backgrounds
- Multi-layer slider on the home page
- A sticky menu that scrolls down as you do
- Embedded google maps title background on the contact page
- Case studies category animations
- Rich Snippets mark-up for enhanced google listing appearance
- AddThis Smart Layers sharing (floating on the left of each page – or along the bottom for mobile devices)
- Search Engine Optimized
- And lots of other goodies!
We have tested in IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari. On Windows PC and iOS devices. All seem to pass quality control, thus far at least!
As I learnt more and more about SEO (search engine optimization) over the years I discovered that to rank well in the search engines, ‘content is king’. The more unique, well written content you have the higher your whole site ranks in search results.
Unquestionably the most straight forward way to do this for a small website is by writing a blog. WordPress is a great platform for managing blogs (aka ‘posts’) so over time we migrated to this platform.
Google Analytics measured traffic to the website tells the story best:
- Point a: started doing SEO on the website
- Point b: added WordPress just for the blog section of the site
- Point c: whole site migrated to WordPress
From Development to Going Live
WordPress also lets you switch ‘themes’ easily to update the template of the site all at once. The last design was based on a template theme called Polyon, the new one a theme called Avada. By creating a ‘child theme’ you can customize your website using these core templates as a base.
I use a tool called InstantWordpress to run a local copy of our website on my PC. This allows me to develop the design of the new site offline, which when ready can be rolled out to the live website in one go. This minimizes downtime and negative impact to the website users. It’s a very handy tool indeed.
Search Engine Optimization & Content Marketing
SEO and CM are huge topics that are simply too much to delve too deeply into here. As a quick overview…
Search engines have been updating their algorithms constantly for the last 20 years now in order to provide users with the highest quality, most relevant results possible. Keeping up with this ever-changing landscape is challenging to say the least; especially on a small budget.
Beware of Google Penalties
If you do something today that Google doesn’t like tomorrow then you can disappear from their rankings over-night!
- Google’s Panda algorithm penalizes poor site content
- Google’s Penguin algorithm penalizes poor-quality/paid-for inbound links.
- Google’s Hummingbird algorithm looks for natural language on a page ie. that the content is well written and targeted for humans consumption and not just to trick search engines into ranking well with lots of keywords.
Google has 89% of the market share in the UK right now, so you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of them.
You need to stay ahead of the curve and implement a website that has the same ultimate goals as google does – great content and user experience. If its algorithm doesn’t reward that to the extent it should do today, then it surely will at some point. So you have to plan ahead accordingly.
The current SEO community consensus to growing a website visibility includes:
- Original and engaging content – low volume high quality content is far more valuable than high volume low quality content
- Keyword and relevant audience research and targeting
- Optimizing the code and pages for titles, meta descriptions, rendering speed, clean valid mark-up, URL structures, etc
- Quality inbound links from high authority sites
- Having a social presence on the likes of Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc on which you can share your content from the website
All of which we generally try to follow for our site.
I regularly follow Moz’s excellent ‘Whiteboard Friday’ video blog as my bible for SEO and CM. Rand is one of the best presenters I have ever seen and well worth checking out for anyone who has even the smallest of interest in online and brand marketing. If you want to increase your website traffic and find out what Google is up to right now then Moz is a fantastic reference.
Another big factor we found is where your website hosting company data centre is located. We previously used BT for our hosting but after we discovered they had their server hosting data centres actually in the States (you can check your server geo-location via something like whois) we knew we had to change providers.
Having local servers comes with benefits to both your local customers (speed/relevancy) and also targeted search engine results. The servers being in the States meant the likes of Bing thought we were a US based company (even with a .co.uk TLD) and we didn’t even appear on Bing UK search results. So we immediately switched to Evohosting, a local hosting company with servers based in Maidenhead. A long story short, they turned out to be cheaper, faster, gave much better support and we haven’t looked back since. Would thoroughly recommend them as a hosting company if you are thinking of moving or setting up a new website.
What’s Next For The Goringe Accountants Website
Avada are imminently bringing out a new version of their base WordPress theme template – so you may see a few tweaks here and there over the next couple of months. Otherwise more content and content marketing is high on the agenda.
We are always looking to improve the website design, usability and content. So if you have any constructive (negative or positive) suggestions then please drop us an email or comment below.
Above all, if you like what you see/read here on this site then please tell someone, share or post a link to us online. The more people who ‘like’ what they see, the bigger the site will get, and the more content we can put up for your viewing pleasures!