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The WordPress.org Pattern Creator Now Open to the Public

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The WordPress pattern directory finally opened its gates to the entire community today. Anyone with a WordPress.org account can log in, go to the pattern creator, and start designing.

For some of us, this has felt like an unbearably long wait. In reality, it took the development team less than a year since the directory launch to put this together. It was no small feat to make it work and put in all the guardrails for such a system in that amount of time.

Some community members have already got a head start. Ana Segota of Anariel Design announced via Twitter that three of her patterns had already landed. “More coming soon,” she said.

Showcase of a specific author's block patterns from the block-pattern directory.  Displays three patterns in a grid.
Patterns by Anariel Design

The pattern directory has the potential to be an onramp for creators who want to contribute to the WordPress project but do not know where to start. The barrier to entry is one of the lowest in the community. There is no requirement to write code or understand all the intricacies of theme design. It is nowhere near as complex as plugin development. It is simply a visual builder that allows sharing art with the world.

I have no idea where this thing is going. I hope to see 1,000s of patterns in the directory a year from now.

I played a small role in building two of the initial patterns from last year. I was excited about the potential for the directory and happy to contribute in any way. However, I was not entirely satisfied with the process because I did not have the creative freedom I wanted.

For example, my vision for an “about me” columns pattern had morphed into something entirely different:

Final about me cards pattern.

By the time it was added to the directory, there was hardly any of myself in it. The first designs that launched were tightly curated, and that was OK. It was more about getting production-ready patterns out to users at the time, and I knew that WordPress.org would eventually open it up.

Today, I started work anew, rebuilding my original “about me” pattern. I have made some alterations because we now have new spacing controls. And the built-in, Openverse-powered search did not seem to locate some of my early images, despite being available via the Openverse site. Nevertheless, it is a work in progress:

Inside of the WordPress pattern creator. The content canvas shows three columns with about, contact, and follow sections.
Building with the new pattern creator.

Users can save draft patterns, too. So, if you want to try your hand at designing one but are unsure if you can finish it in one sitting or do not have a fully-fleshed-out idea, there is no need to worry about losing work. You can save it and pull it up later from your patterns page.

The pattern creator runs Twenty Twenty-One under the hood. The classic theme has a few quirks, CSS that often overrules the core WordPress styles. I would rather have seen Twenty Twenty-Two because it sticks much more closely to the global styles standard. At least people who want to try designing off-site will be able to test with a similar setup.

Patterns should, ideally, be theme-agnostic. However, in practice, the theme that showcases those patterns — Twenty Twenty-One in this case — can make or break a design. Creators should not design specifically for it, but they should at least check its output.

Using the pattern creator is straightforward. It is merely an instance of the block editor with some modifications specific to the directory. It also provides a quick welcome screen:

Welcome popup over the pattern editor on WordPress.org.  It teaches what the creator is.
Welcome screen to the pattern creator.

Overall, my experience with it went reasonably well for a Day 1 launch. Most of the hiccups that I encountered were with the image search. It timed out on occasion, and filtering images was not a perfect experience. Despite being powered by Openverse, it does not offer the same filtering tools.

I hope that the pattern creator will eventually tie into the WordPress photo directory. The built-in search is a neat tool, but you sometimes have to wade through dozens or hundreds of outdated images to find something worth using. The photo directory feels fresh and modern. Plus, we should be prioritizing the work of those contributing to WordPress.

There are still many open tickets for the pattern directory, and it will undoubtedly evolve based on feedback and usage. However, this is a solid launch of the pattern creator. Well done to all the folks who made this happen.

If you are interested in original article by Justin Tadlock, you can find iy here

content-marketing

Content Marketing Priorities for B2B & B2C in 2022

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A recent study by parse.ly shows how businesses plan to increase content creation and distribution in 2022.

Content is king, but heavy is the head that wears the crown as businesses ramp up content generation but lack the know-how to determine effectiveness.

Competition is fierce for both B2B and B2C companies as they increase budgets and dive into new content formats in 2022.

Parse.ly recently completed a study using more than 800 content marketers to determine their content efforts for 2022 and beyond.

According to results of the study, these are the top priorities for content marketers.

More Money, Bigger Teams

Google and other search engines have long placed content at the top of their optimization lists through EAT and other efforts. Despite this, businesses of all sizes kept writing teams small and concentrated on blogs and other written content.

B2B and B2C companies have small in-house teams or use a bevy of freelancers or content agencies to create content, so they can focus on running the business.

Among those surveyed by Parse.ly, nearly 80 percent had content teams of 10 or fewer.

Companies are creating more content than ever, but they recognize the need to create even more new and diverse content:

  • 52 percent planning to increase their number of content creators.
  • 66 percent planning to increase their content output.

Budgets increase as well with most of the new money going to more creators, instead of programs and platforms, to make creating content more efficient.

B2B And B2C Content Priorities

Content-savvy companies use content throughout the buyers’ journey from top-of-funnel processes to past checkout.

In the B2B spectrum:

  • 91 percent use content for brand awareness
  • 85 percent to generate demand and leads
  • 81 percent to build credibility
  • 79 percent to educate the audience
  • 68 percent to nurture leads
  • 64 percent to generate sales

In the B2C space

  • 84 percent use content for brand awareness
  • 78 percent to educate the audience
  • 73 percent to build credibility
  • 60 percent to generate leads
  • 60 percent to build loyalty
  • 56 percent to generate sales

The most digestible and searchable content for companies to create are blogs with 91 percent of respondents creating that content.

Engaging audiences through social media was a priority for 88 percent followed by the tried-and-true marketing tool, email newsletters, at 78 percent.

Long form content works great to help improve authority and expertise for search engines, as well as for consumers, with 58 percent using content for case studies, 53 percent for events and webinars, 52 percent for eBooks, and 38 percent for white papers.

Despite having some of the best engagement, only 69 percent were using content for videos.

Getting The Word Out

Businesses can create amazing content, but it isn’t worth much unless it getsseen by the target audience.

Owned channels, such as company websites and social media, are the most popular methods of distribution with 90 percent and 83 percent of respondents.

Emails to listed customers were the third most popular with 77 percent of businesses, followed by paid social media and search ads at 62 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Both B2C’s and B2B’s first choice for social media platforms was LinkedIn, which according to Parse.ly, brings in about 1 percent of overall social media traffic to a website.

Facebook was the second most popular method of paid and organic distribution and brought in 89 percent of traffic from social media sites.

Popular social media sites such as Instagram and Tik Tok were near the bottom of the list in both paid and organic for business’s preferred platforms.

B2B And B2C Wish List

The most common and easily created content is written, such as blogs and social media posts.

They successfully engage audiences, and blogs do well in search engines, but both B2C and B2B companies wanted to invest in video and longer form content if they had the resources.

Video on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms whether organic or paid has high engagement.

Many companies balk at the cost of video production and editing. This leads to a more guerilla-style approach to video using live streams, smartphones, and handheld cameras.

Businesses already have these resources available and use them to promote sales, assets, and events. The report outlines the desire for businesses to expand beyond their existing content and into new avenues such as video, eBooks, and infographics.

What’s Working And What’s Not

Expanding content is great, but only if companies have the analytics to know what’s working and what’s not.

One of the biggest pitfalls to existing content strategies is understanding the return on investment. According to the report, 51 percent of companies track and understand metrics, while 49 percent don’t understand how their content performs.

The biggest metric used to determine performance is page views, which many get from Google Analytics. Businesses may keep an eye on page views, but don’t track how content impacts sales, revenues, conversions, or the buyer’s journey.

This leads to content that may bring in traffic to your site but doesn’t necessarily lead to conversions.

The Outlook For 2022 And Beyond

According to the Parse.ly report, 2022 is a big year for expanding content teams and variety, but the existing legacy tools aren’t equipped to handle the intricacies of content metrics.

It’s exciting to see the ramp-up of content and creators, but a successful marketing plan isn’t just about creating but understanding how that content relates to the success of the business and satisfaction of the customers.

If you are interested in original article by Brock Cooper, you can find it here

freelance

A helpful guide to marketing for freelancers fed up with Instagram

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Instagram has been a beloved tool to creatives everywhere since its launch in 2010. But recent algorithm changes and a push for more video content have left many artists and designers struggling to enjoy the same likes and reach. If IG has become too exhausting, what marketing alternatives are there? We explore some options.

Before we get started, we understand that many of you embrace reels and making videos and still enjoy some success on Instagram. Whilst that’s great news for you, for many others, even the idea of creating films is just too much to bear. We’ve had more than a decade of chasing ‘likes’ and trying to keep up with the changing social networks. Do we really want to stay on the treadmill? Particularly when we’re not in control of these platforms?

Yes, you could pay to reach your audience through social ads, but can any of us afford to in an age of uncertainty and rising costs? Can we even trust Meta to help us target the right people? If you’re looking for free or affordable options to market yourself, don’t fret! There are plenty of alternatives, which we’ll share now. Included in our list are suggestions and tips from the creative community.

Look at the website you own and turn it into a powerful SEO machine

If you’ve not yet considered Search Engine Optimisation, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Your website has huge potential when it comes to organic reach. Although often confusing, terrifying, misunderstood, and forever-changing, SEO is simply a way of making your website rank highly for its chosen keywords to attract people organically. So if you’re a ‘graphic designer in Manchester’ and want to be found for those search terms, then that’s your goal – to create a site that Google thinks falls into that category and deserves to sit on its first page of results.

But it’s not a simple task. SEO experts don’t fully understand the mysterious inner workings of the world’s largest search engine. Nor can they keep up. Google is on a mission to prioritise quality content over sites trying to trick its algorithm. It even punishes those who step too far and try to game the system. It means you have to play fair and apply everything that’s currently known to succeed. We’re all busy, so how do we even get started?

There’s no magic wand. If you can’t afford to hire an expert, you will have to learn this stuff yourself. But as SEO is constantly changing, courses and learning guides can become outdated quickly. We recommend Moz for all your training needs. We’ve relied on it for over a decade, as it does a pretty good job explaining complex things in a language we can understand. Before you do anything else, read its Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It’s an important overview of how this type of search engine marketing works. Watch the ‘One-Hour Guide to SEO’ below, delivered by Moz’s founder Rand Fishkin.

According to Moz, you need to follow these seven steps to successful SEO:

  1. Crawl accessibility so engines can read your website
  2. Compelling content that answers the searcher’s query
  3. Keyword optimised to attract searchers & engines
  4. Great user experience, including a fast load speed and compelling UX
  5. Share-worthy content that earns links, citations, and amplification
  6. Title, URL, & description to draw high CTR in the rankings
  7. Snippet/schema markup to stand out in SERPs

There’s a lot of work to do. And it’s not going to be an overnight success. We’d recommend carving out an hour a day to learn and implement SEO.

For further reading, SEO expert Brian Dean also has Backlinko, a weekly newsletter that features tons of tips and insight to keep you on your toes.

Add an integrated blog to your website and get writing

One of the fastest ways to start making a difference today is to add a blog to your website. One that sits on the same domain and isn’t separate. Imagine your website is a boat floating on the sea of the internet, and its pages are various fishing lines cast out to catch and hook web visitors – it means the more pages you add, the better. That’s why a blog is so powerful. You can write as much as you like and attract people to your brand via endless means. HubSpot has a pretty good guide to optimising your blog content with loads of tips and recommended resources included.

Our biggest tip is to write within the theme of what you’re offering and how you solve people’s problems. So if you’re a graphic designer and help businesses build more powerful brands, what tips, advice, case studies, or insight pieces can you write and share that showcase your skills and expertise and entice people to your website and hire you?

“Writing consistently about one topic will always be a viable marketing strategy,” says Tom Berry, brand strategist and creative director at Studio Bennu. “Think about how you can help people. Add your unique perspective. Make sure everything you write adds value for a specific audience. Focus on creating timeless content that people can apply to their problems.”

And last but not least, you’ve got to think of your blog post titles, as these often can make or break the effectiveness of an article. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser is brilliant for ideas and perfecting the most SEO-friendly content out there.

The #1 Free Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule
The #1 Free Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule

Actively build links back to your website and work on your PR

As you’ll quickly learn with SEO, one of its many aspects is the importance of link-building. That means getting other websites to link back to your own. How you do that can be achieved in various ways. You can guest author on blogs or online magazines. You can focus on some PR and pitch yourself for platforms like Creative Boom, and It’s Nice That. You can put yourself forward for podcasts and talks. It’s a big effort, granted. But the more links you have, the better – particularly from higher-quality sites like those of universities, newspapers or renowned brands.

Top tips for excellent PR management: – Be prepared to stand out by getting great photos of yourself ready for features and having a decent microphone for podcasts. – Consider press packs to make it easier for busy journalists. – For extra reading, check out our tips on getting featured in the press.

“Getting our brand in the press and having quality photography of us and what we do has helped grow our profile,” says Rebecca Wild of May Wild Studio. “Instagram is still a good visual resource or portfolio for clients, but it’s the PR push that has been the most effective.”

“We’ve even been collaborating with other creators on YouTube channels and in podcasts to talk about the industry and, by extension, our own work within it,” says creator, filmmaker and broadcaster Neil Evans. “That organic reach is huge for us.”

Build a list and send out a regular newsletter

There is nothing more valuable than building an email subscriber list. It’s yours alone. No one can take it away from you. It’s a bunch of engaged people who want to learn more about you and what you do. But there has to be some valuable reason to get them to sign up. Can all that fresh blog content, guest articles and press coverage be the solution? Yes, it can. Sign up to Mailchimp to get started, as it’s free to those with fewer than 2,000 subscribers.

Then, you have to market your newsletter on your website. Give people an enticing reason to join. Have a dedicated page where they can sign-up – see Creative Boom’s weekly newsletter landing page for inspiration.

Another top tip, add a ‘recommended reading’ section to your newsletter. It allows you to give back to the creative community, but it also builds happy connections who might be inclined to return the favour.

Creative Boom's newsletter page where people can join 35,000 subscribers
Creative Boom’s newsletter page where people can join 35,000 subscribers

Consider other social networks where engagement still rocks

Twitter, LinkedIn, Discord, Behance and Pinterest have their merits and are still drawing in lots of traffic and engagement for many creatives. “LinkedIn has been a favourite for quite a long time,” agrees illustrator Ari Liloan. “You get to put your work in front of people who have real hiring power instead of just other design fans. Some of my biggest commissions happened through organic recommendations there.”

Artist Russell Taysom loves using Pinterest. “I’ve always enjoyed it for collecting images I like, but recently I’ve been using it much more to add my art,” he says. “You can organise images by category with the board, and Pinterest images appear in Google searches.”

Manchester-based creative Jaheed Hussain says Twitter for his platform Fuse has been the go-to for a while now, along with the website itself. “Both seem to have the best engagement for what we do,” he says. “LinkedIn feels consistently strong for personal accounts compared to company pages, which we’ve noticed.”

Go old school and remind clients you exist (and ask for help)

It doesn’t hurt to send physical mailers, cold emails, updated portfolios and other bits and bobs to existing clients. They’re inevitably busy and will have things on their list that they keep forgetting to sort, so reminding them you’re still around will likely result in some fresh work.

Don’t forget to ask clients for referrals, either. Consider offering a discount to loyal customers should they recommend you to a friend. It all helps. “I went a bit old school recently and created a little PDF deck of my work that I email to clients, and it’s got amazing feedback,” says illustrator Connie Noble. “I also started a newsletter, which gets more engagement than my Instagram as people like to take the time to have a little read.”

Get out there and do things ‘In Real Life’

Is there anything that beats actual human contact? Many events are back on in your local town or city. Business meetups, creative talks, networking parties – add a few to your diary and get out and meet people. Even art fairs are proving to be a success for many artists and designers. “I’m getting out and about,” says Maz Leyden. “I love doing art markets and craft shows. It’s so great to connect with people in person, plus so many people take business cards, which leads to social media follows and website sales.”

London illustrator Loulou Elliott agrees and makes a final important point. “I discovered the joy of doing art markets last year. Anything in person is just great and very fulfilling. Because the art is directly in front of you, it’s very physical and tangible and ultimately real. It holds people’s interest better and engages their curiosity. It makes them more likely to remember you or buy something. People have very short attention spans on social media, especially with this generation’s TikTok style. focusing on the genuine connection over ‘engagement’ is a great breather from doing loud things to catch people’s attention.”

To conclude and recap everything we’ve learnt

There is no quick solution or fix when it comes to marketing. It takes a little effort every day to build your SEO, improve your network, and attract the attention of journalists. Here’s a helpful checklist to refer back to:

  • Set aside an hour each day to work on your marketing. This isn’t going to be an overnight thing. And there’s no magic wand.
  • Learn SEO with all the free resources available: Moz is a great place to start. And we recommend signing up for Backlinko’s newsletter.
  • Start that blog you’ve never had time to launch. Write quality content around the theme of your website and business. Add value.
  • Build links to your website through guest blogging, press coverage, talks and podcasts. Be brave. Get your name out there but don’t forget to be prepared, i.e. get some professional photography of yourself and your studio. Buy a decent microphone.
  • Create a regular newsletter to share your story and all your content. Develop a subscriber list but give them an enticing reason to sign-up.
  • Consider other social networks to build contacts and community. Twitter, LinkedIn and Behance still enjoy the high engagement.
  • Remind existing clients you exist and ask them for referrals.
  • Do things IRL: art fairs, networking events, conferences. Meeting people face-to-face is a powerful way to build relationships and meaningful connections.

If you are interested in original article by Katy Cowan, you cna find it here

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Hackers are using SEO to rank malicious PDFs on search engines, research finds

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Today, researchers at security service edge provider, Netskope, published the Netskope Cloud and Threat Report: Global Cloud and Malware Trends, which found that phishing downloads rose 450% over the past 12 months, and highlighted that attackers are using search engine optimization (SEO) to rank malicious PDF files on search engines.

The report’s findings show that phishing attempts are constantly evolving, and attackers aren’t just targeting employees through their email inboxes; they’re also using popular search engines like Google and Bing.

The increase in phishing attacks and the growing popularity of SEO techniques among cybercriminals highlights the need for enterprises to provide their employees with security awareness training so they’re prepared to spot threats and not at risk of handing over sensitive information.

Phishing: a nuisance that won’t go away 

The report comes as security teams have consistently failed to address the challenge of phishing attempts with traditional security tools such as secure email gateways. 

Research shows that in 2021, 83% of organizations experienced an email-based phishing attack where they were tricked into clicking on a bad link, downloading malware, providing login credentials, or completing a wire transfer.

Now with hackers turning to SEO techniques, the number of successful phishing attacks has increased and has the potential to rise further, as attackers have a new medium where they can manipulate employees into handing over sensitive information outside the protection of other security controls.

“People know they should be wary of clicking on links in email, text messages, and in social media from people they don’t know. But search engines? This presents a much harder challenge.” said Ray Canzanese, director of Netskope’s Threat Labs.

“How does the average user differentiate between a “benign” search engine result and a “malicious” search engine result? From an enterprise perspective, this underscores the importance of having a web filtering solution in place,” Canzanese said.

How to Spot malicious PDF files 

When it comes to defending against these SEO-driven attacks, Canzanese highlights several methods that security teams can use to protect employees. One of the most effective is to use a solution that can decrypt and scan web traffic for malicious content. 

At the same time, security teams should encourage users to inspect all links they click on, and to exercise caution if the link takes them to an unfamiliar website. 

In the event an employee does click on a malicious PDF, they can expect to see a fake captcha at the top of the first page, followed by text on other pages. In these scenarios, users should close the file, delete it from the device and report it to the security team ASAP. 

Canzanese also notes that it’s important for users to report malicious URLs that feature on popular search engines to help the provider unlist them from the site and prevent other users from falling victim to a scam.

If you are interested in original article by Tim Keary, you cna read it here

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Web-Design-Mistakes-To-Avoid

Three common mistakes designers make when creating websites for clients

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You can be the best coder in creation, but that doesn’t always translate into success as a web designer. Many freelance web designers and web design agencies struggle because they make the same mistakes over and over again. We spoke with Matt Konarzewski of Vision Marketing to outline three of the biggest howlers.

A website is the beating heart of any business. A well-designed site can help clients grow, attract more visitors and even turn them into happy customers. Get the design wrong, though, and it can spell real trouble for your clients.

To get some insights into how to do it right, we approached Matt Konarzewski of Vision Marketing. His agency recently won a Wix Partner Award for sophisticated code deployment for its client website, Code Zero Yachts.

Read on to discover Matt’s tips and see examples of Vision Marketing’s great work built using Wix, layered with advanced coding.

1. Being too afraid to speak up and challenge the client

We all know that web designers succeed by pleasing their clients. But that doesn’t mean following all their instructions blindly and unthinkingly. It may, on occasion, involve some pushback.

“For example, we’ve found that many clients just have no idea of how to craft their messaging to the public,” he says. “Also, they sometimes think web design is just about making something amazing and sparkling. Instead, as we explain, it’s more about moving the business forward by designing something so simple that everyone in every age group can use it and find information quickly.”

The crucial thing, says Matt, is to understand your client’s needs and agree about the business goal and what the venture should be about.

“Once you’ve done that, you can instil that trust in your client that you can deliver what they need without being micromanaged. And that means you pretty much can start coding and start designing. This approach has worked well for us, and normally we can deliver a website within two rounds of revisions. So that’s a win-win for both sides.”

Real-world example: Code Zero Yachts

By educating the client correctly in the early stages of a project, they’re more likely to give you creative control once the broad principles of the site are agreed upon. And that means you’re more likely to end up with a website both you and your client are proud of.

“Those websites that attract prizes usually happen when there isn’t much interference from the client’s perspective,” says Matt. Take, for instance, Code Zero Yachts, a site that won Vision Marketing a Wix Partner Award for sophisticated code deployment.

Code Zero Yachts is an online directory where you can search, view and book luxury yachts from around the world. It’s a great example of an impactful and vibrant website, showcasing a collection of over 1,000 charters worldwide.

The Vision Marketing team created the website using the Wix platform and then layered some advanced coding over the top of it in a particularly clever way. The yacht data for the site is sourced from an external database, but rather than waiting for live external API calls for every page of data, the team built a dashboard page for the site manager to update the whole database in just one click.

This triggered event harnesses the Wix Fetch API and Wix Data API for database storage and document retrieval. And by chaining multiple API calls per yacht to consolidate data, pre-formatting all image galleries, optimising the data for search, and building the HTML used in the site’s custom calendar feature, the whole operation works like a dream: fast, consistent and reliable. Because let’s face it, people with the kind of spending power to charter a yacht don’t want to be kept hanging around.

“We delivered the branding, we delivered the website and some coding on top of it,” recalls Matt. “And the client was just like: ‘Yes, I love it.’ Indeed, it’s normally the case that when we’re given the full power – full decision making – we end up with websites people love.”

Code Zero by VISion Marketing
Code Zero by VISion Marketing

2. Failing to pivot fast enough

The world of web design has always been fast-moving, and those who succeed are those who don’t stay unduly wedded to a single idea but are flexible enough to pivot at a moment’s notice when necessary.

A famous example is how Instagram began life as an app called Burbn, dedicated to sharing photos of fine whiskeys and bourbons. Just as its founder Kevin Systrom was at a crucial seed funding stage, he noticed that generic photo apps were getting popular, but none of them had social features. So he pivoted his whole operation, Instagram was born, and the rest is history.

During the pandemic years of 2020-21, pivoting came into its own. Small businesses worldwide had to scramble to get online, and consumers needed new ways to access goods and services without leaving the house. Web designers were at the forefront of this revolution and, in many ways, were the unsung heroes of the lockdown era.

The ability to pivot is partly about mindset, but it’s also about having the right tools and technologies to help you move quickly. It’s all very well spending six months painstakingly hand-coding a beautiful site, but if you miss your window of opportunity doing so, you may end up wishing you’d gone a different route.

Real-world example: The Box London

The Box London is a boxing gym set up to help people of all ages and abilities gain a healthier lifestyle through boxing. Founded in 2016 by Ali J Ahmed, it prides itself on being a place where people of all abilities, genders, ages and fitness levels can attend and have a feeling of achievement and self­ worth.

When lockdown closed the gym, The Box London needed an online alternative, and Vision Marketing was able to build one fast. To find a solution, Vision Marketing moved the existing website to Wix and used a range of fitness­-specific tools – Wix Bookings, Wix Payments and Wix Automations – that helped the customers of The Box London quickly join and pay for the classes with minimum administration involved.

“Within one week, we managed to provide The Box London with a solution where they could do online classes with bookings and payments,” says Matt. “And they were in business: it was a real ‘wow’ moment!”

The team created a secure boxing trainer website with a class schedule and online booking system. The website allows clients to sign up for single classes, book personal training sessions or become members without making an appointment, and for The Box London to confirm their classes/memberships. In addition, the website is connected to their mailing system so that clients can be notified of schedule updates, news and events through email.

It all stands testimony to the power of the positive pivot. “We weren’t just sitting there and saying, ‘It’s the pandemic, it’s awful’,” says Matt. “We were more like, ‘Oh, what if we did this? What if we did that?’ And when it worked for year one, then year two, they remained in business.”

The Box London by VISion Marketing
The Box London by VISion Marketing

3. Not using the best tools (for the wrong reasons)

Most of us have had the experience of doing DIY and realising we were making life hard for ourselves because we weren’t using the best tool for the job. So it’s surprising that so many web designers don’t carry that principle through to their own day jobs and instead choose to shun modern design tools for cumbersome hand-coding methods.

That said, Matt believes more and more designers are discovering that web design tools can save them time, money and frustration. “There was a time when I was embarrassed to say I used web design tools,” he says. “But options used to be pretty basic back then. Today, it’s incredible how advanced design platforms have become.

“I’ve been using Wix for six years, and I haven’t looked back,” he continues. “We’ve designed some cracking websites for top agency owners in the UK, and even big agencies such as The Capture are asking us to design websites for them on Wix as a specific requirement.

“So any reluctance to use new tools is quickly disappearing because people realise they no longer have to wait five months for a website, and they don’t have to deal with developers who put obstacles in their way every time they ask to make a small change to the site.”

Real-world example: Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust

Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust is a local charity in Whitehill & Bordon, Hampshire, that works to bring the community together and improve people’s quality of life. They needed a digital space to communicate updates and enable the community to learn about the Trust, its history and its members.

Built by Vision Marketing using Wix, the website makes information easy to find, which is crucial for an organisation that needs to reach the entire community, not just the digitally savvy. While it’s colourful and attractive and includes a couple of nice parallax scrolling effects, it’s not overly flashy because that’s not what a community website needs. The focus here is on making communications clear, concise and two-way, and Vision Marketing has done an excellent job of delivering for this local charity.

Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust by VISion Marketing
Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust by VISion Marketing

If you are interested in original article by Tom May, you can read it here

Why Would Optimizing Existing Content Cause Rankings To Drop?

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How could seemingly minor content optimizations cause us to lose 20-30 positions in search rankings? Tamar Asks An SEO.

If only good intentions drove results in SEO.

Sadly, that’s not the case, as Tamar from Israel discovered recently. She submitted the following to Ask An SEO:

“Help! I just started working at a start-up. The blogs are a horrible mess for many reasons, but there are about 20 blogs out of the 140 that are converting a few people to try our software.

I wanted to do the minimum to optimize them, so I corrected all of the H-titles, made sure each post had a meta description, and checked that any images had an alt tag.

In less than a day, ALL of these blogs lost their position for the main keywords they were ranking for, according to Google Search Console. What gives?!

I can’t find an explanation for this anywhere! Almost all of them dropped by at least 20-30 in position for a keyword… going from #9, for example, to #55 for a top query. Please help.”

Although Tamar did submit the domain, we have no insight into which 20 of the 140 blogs indexed we’re discussing here.

Further, we have no context as to which keywords she was ranking on and lost positioning for.

Were this my client, those would be the first things I would want to have a look at.

So let’s talk about what we do know.

Fluctuations in rankings are normal as Google assesses the new/updated content, so I wouldn’t panic so soon after the change.

If the issue persisted, we’d want to start investigating potential causes.

Tamar, the chances your rankings dropped due to adding alt text or meta descriptions are slim to nil.

Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor.

And alt text, while an important accessibility aid, is only a ranking factor for Image Search.

Going back in and optimizing by adding alt text could only help.

So we’re left with “correcting” the HTML heading tags.

We’re going to assume this isn’t a technical SEO issue as the rankings drop would be wider spread than just the 20 posts that had content updates if that were the case.

We’re also going to assume this isn’t a case of a competitor or two stepping up their game and bumping you out as these are fairly sizable changes.

I have a couple of main suspects.

Are You Keyword Stuffing?

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are clear on this:

“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).

Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.

Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

If in “correcting” your subheadings you added an unnatural volume of keywords, Google may have demoted those pages.

Did You Make A Mess Of Relevance?

Depending on the keyword terms you tried to optimize for, it’s possible you could have negatively impacted Google’s perception of the content’s relevance to the terms it was already ranking on.

For example, you might assume that because a page was ranking well and driving qualified traffic for [JIRA project management] that you could piggyback off its success and tap into [agile project management], as well.

This would be a mistake.

Perhaps user behavior and its semantic understanding of the topic leads Google’s algorithms to believe that:

  • People searching for [JIRA project management] are looking for a tool.
  • People searching for [agile project management] are looking to learn about a process.

In trying to optimize existing content for a keyword with conflicting search intent and topical relevance, you may have muddied the waters.

Making the piece less focused could impact Google’s perception of it as the best answer for the queries you want to rank on.

Other Content Quality Factors Impacting Your Ability To Rank

I believe one of the two actions above was likely responsible for the rankings drop you experienced across those 20 blog posts.

However, in taking a look at the site, there are several content quality issues that could be holding you back.

Put these on your list of priorities and see whether you can get those money pages performing better in search:

Update your outdated content.

I see blog posts with 2020 in the title and URL as the newest content in some categories.

It gives Google and prospective customers the impression that you aren’t actively creating and maintaining the information you’re putting out into the world.

Create an internal linking strategy.

I see zero internal links in the 10 blog posts I spot-checked.

Internal linking not only helps Google understand your site hierarchy, but it also passes PageRank and helps visitors stay engaged and move around your site.

Improve writing quality.

There are grammatical errors and issues with sentence structure, word usage, and other writing mechanics throughout that make the content difficult to read.

Hire an editor and make good use of tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway to improve the quality of your writing.

Test Any Further Optimizations Before Proceeding

If nothing else, this experience should serve as a good reminder of the importance of testing any changes to existing webpages before a wider rollout.

Document the changes you intend to make and test them out.

See what happens. Measure the results.

Remember, too, that the same optimizations may produce entirely different results on another page.

That’s just part of the fun of SEO!

A good next step would be to conduct a content audit to see where your greatest opportunities are right now.

Then, prioritize your findings. You do not need to do it all at once – in fact, that can have unintended consequences, as we saw here.

Updating and optimizing existing content is a great practice that can dramatically improve user experience and rankings.

But it’s a process. Don’t rush it.

Focus on your most potentially lucrative pages and optimizations first, and always be ready to roll it back if you’ve accidentally tanked your rankings.

If you are interested in original article by Miranda Miller, you can find it here