It’s often something that gets overlooked by small businesses launching their website on a budget. However it’s a box that needs checking. In the US, businesses whose sites are not accessible are liable for discrimination. This isn’t the case in Australia yet, but we’d recommend that if your services could possibly be used by someone with an impairment, make sure that you cater for them on your site.
To be honest, this is an ongoing effort, as maintaining accessibility requires thinking in ways we don’t usually have to. This can be technical, such as tab order, but also related to simple design choices.
We think accessibility is important because providing usability for people with a range of impairments is good for your business, as well as supporting those customers. It’s the right thing to do, and shouldn’t be treated as a nice-to-have, or an afterthought.
But what can you do about it? Here are things you need to be thinking about with regard to accessibility. We’ll start with the design-related things, which you can think of as low-hanging fruit in terms of achievability.
Content & design accessibility fixes
These are the things you can do something about without tearing your site to pieces, and without spending money (or not spending a lot, depending on your web publishing skillset).
This is a big one as it also relates to your SEO. Both search engines and the visually impaired are observing your site without whatever visual aids you’ve implemented in your design. So using HTML to properly to structure your content is a must.
You need clearly and logically laid our headers and paragraphs in your content. For example, there should only be one Heading 1 (H1) on a page, and this would usually be the post/page title (or the site name/title on the homepage). H2 and H3s etc should be nested logically so your content can be divided into sections and subsections, according to the topic. If you look at this article, we’ve split it into two H2 sections (design and technical fixes) with several H3 subsections in each.
Accessible content structure is an ongoing effort – every time you publish you need to think about how your information is laid out.
Text contrast ratio
This is the contrast between the text and the background. If it’s too low, while people with good eyesight might be OK, people with even a slight visual impairment might have difficulty reading your words. And this isn’t a small number of people!
Likewise, you need to ensure that your text is big enough to read. We use Divi, which is great, but one of its accessibility problems is that by default, the text is far too small (and low contrast). This is easily fixed of course, but it goes to show that defaults often need tweaking to get better results.
Alt text on images
When you upload an image, most CMSs ask you to enter ‘alt text.’ This is text that will be used as an alternative to the image when the image won’t load or can’t be seen. When you’re in a hurry (the default state of a small business owner), it’s easy to overlook this, but including it is mandatory for accessibility.
Try entering a simple descriptive sentence at the very least, so those who can’t see the image will know what it’s about, and won’t feel they are missing out.
Technical accessibility fixes
The above are some low-hanging fruit for you to improve your website accessibility. The next things we’ll mention are more technical.
Skip to Content
Your website probably starts with a header that includes a navigation menu, which might have a lot of items in it. As visually impaired people often rely on screen readers to get to your content, the header is something they probably don’t want or need. Having a website header that supports skipping the header is essential. Many frameworks and the themes do, but many don’t. Divi, which we use, doesn’t have this by default, and we need to add it manually.
Some folks are unable to use a mouse. Usually, these are people with visual or motor impairment. Tabbing between items is an essential method for navigating for them. You can see how this works by loading any web page and pressing tab repeatedly to see what happens. Ideally, a focus box will move from item to item, left to right, top to bottom, highlighting links.
There are two main potential issues that could interrupt this important usability:
The first relates to design. On many websites, it’s difficult to follow focus as elements aren’t properly outlined or differentiated when focussed on. Having clearly defined ‘active’ and ‘hover’ states on links and buttons can help with this.
The other possible problem is caused by the structure of the site. Tabbing follows the order of things in HTML, or the actual structure of your content before your site applies the design rules for displaying the content. These design rules could potentially change the visual order of the information on your site, making tabbing through the site difficult. This type of problem relates to the structure of the site itself, so is more difficult to solve.
What are we doing about accessibility?
We’ve picked up our accessibility game, and will be taking extra steps to ensure new client sites are up to scratch. For our website maintenance clients, revising them to include more accessibility best practices.
If you’re not sure whether your site is as accessible as it should be (it could be costing you business!), and you’d like us to have a look, we’d happily take a glance and make any recommendations. Use our contact form to hit us up.
At KeyTech we believe small businesses need real-world Marketing plans that push them towards their ultimate objectives. So we had a look at growing trends, checked some expert opinions, and came up with some best practices for a business with perhaps a limited marketing budget.
1. Virtual events
2020 changed our lives. The unusual online meetings stopped being unusual, becoming an everyday thing. In 2021, finding opportunities in the restrictions, marketers have taken those changes and created new ways for businesses to reach the world. In 2022 marketing will only continue to evolve to match the needs of restricted real-world business, and the opportunities of online business.
This year we have seen big brands such as Channel and Apple present their new collections and products with online-only events. These kinds of virtual events have exploded in the last year. Although many of us are feeling virtual exhaustion right now, there will still be a place for these types of events, even after we resume the events in person because they are hugely more accessible – for example, they are inclusive to people regardless of location or ability.
You’ve probably come across at least a few in the last year: a virtual event can be as simple as a live stream, a webinar, or as complex as a thousand user conference. The reason for the new umbrella term ‘virtual event’ is most likely the fact that these technologies are replacing real-world events. Whatever you call them, they’re here to stay and will undoubtedly grow in our collective consciousness.
Are virtual events right for you?
For many businesses, especially those that relied on physical-events pre-covid, virtual events are a no-brainer. But there’s also a rising opportunity for other businesses to get into the event space, seeing as virtual events represent the knocking down of the huge barriers to entry. So It is a good time to ask yourself if your customers might appreciate or enjoy seeing more of you, and of each other. What could you teach them as a group, and what could they learn from each other, or help each other with? Getting into the middle of this exchange might help position you more as an essential business partner to your customers.
Let’s say you want to try. How might you go about it? Fortunately, it’s not too hard.
The first thing to think about is what type of experience you want to provide. Microsoft Teams’ Live Events is a solid platform to hold any type of event. However, if what you are looking for are participation and interaction, then unfortunately Teams isn’t your best shot.
Events that run through Microsoft Teams tend to be very formal. Attendees cannot verbally communicate with other attendees or even presenters. The good thing is that this platform does offer a question-and-answer panel so that attendees can submit comments and/or questions during the live event.
If you expect a maximum of 10,000 attendees for your event, and if it does not last more than four hours, Live Events is the platform for you! It’s also worth noting that up to 15 concurrent events can run on a single Microsoft 365 tenancy.
2. Personalized artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence has advanced over the years. Today it’s considered a great opportunity for businesses, companies, industries, and even nations.
AI for marketing seeks to understand consumer behavior: search patterns and interactions. Examples of marketing AI are chatbots.
Mastercard created a Facebook Message bot that uses natural language processing software to decipher what the customer wants and respond as if it were a real person, automating the handling of even some complex queries.
Is a chatbot right for you?
If your business receives a lot of customer inquiries, you could start by expanding a simple FAQ page and. The next step would be integrating those questions into your messaging service, such as your Facebook page. A full-blown, AI-powered chatbot is understandably out of reach for many small businesses, but if you are constantly interacting with customers in predictable ways, it might be worth a look. These Australian companies can help create a fluid chatbot experience for your website.
3. Programmatic advertising
Do you spend a lot on advertising? The same kind of AI advances is helping people manage their ad spending.
One of the new things this year is using AI to automate ad buying so you can target more specific audiences. Real-time bidding, for example, is a type of programmatic ad buying. Automating through bots or specific programs will help you to be much more efficient and faster, which means higher conversions and lower customer acquisition costs.
Although artificial intelligence and programming are a new Marketing trend going into 2022, the truth is that the personalization of a brand will always remain the key.
If you want to stand out in 2022, you need to personalize your marketing. This means personalized content, products, emails, and the rest.
Statistics show that 63% of consumers are very upset with generic advertising blasts. Customizing your content and offering a real experience will increase your sales.
An example of this super customization is EasyJet that launched a data-driven email campaign that uses customers’ travel history with the airline to create personalized stories, which then suggest where they would like to travel next. Approximately 12.5 million unique emails have been sent, which had a 25% higher click-through rate than non-personalized emails.
Another successful example is Starbucks, which uses a gamified mobile app that relies on data like purchase history and location to be as personal as possible. The app allows customers to personalize their drinks and encourages further use with its rewards system, which skyrocketed its revenue to $ 2.56 billion.
Starbucks, which uses a gamified mobile app
5. Video Marketing
Video marketing is still exponentially increasing going into 2022. Forecasts say it will be even more important in 5 or 10 years. Businesses report higher conversion rates with video marketing.
Video is a key factor in decision-making. 52% of consumers say that watching product videos gives them more confidence in making buying decisions online. Video is the simplest and clearest way for customers to obtain information about a product or service.
If your site includes video, it is 50 times more likely (50 times!) To generate organic search results compared to text. Not only do people find video content super attractive, but Google also supercharges the SEO of pages that include videos.
The great thing about video content is that it makes it easy for your content to be reformatted for other platforms. For example, information from a video can be transcribed and used as content for a blog. Adapt and share that video on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram TV or even cut out small bites for Instagram Reels or TikTok. Another idea is to use the audio from that video to have an episode of a podcast.
Lsd statistics show that the opening rates of an email campaign are higher if you include the word video in the subject, so consumers are drawn to it.
Live video is particularly popular with many companies who use it for interviews, product/service demos, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand, such as office life, how products are made, company events, etc.
But Should you bother with video in your own small business?
You might feel that it’s something only larger businesses would invest in. And you’re right, in a sense. But there are many ways to do video, and having a smaller marketing budget does not mean you have to miss out completely.
Have a look at your competitors, the ones you know are a similar size to you. If you see any video in their marketing, this is a big warning that you’ll need to start with video just to remain competitive. If they don’t have a video, great, this could be an opportunity for you.
Your first videos could be a topical discussion with an expert on your team, embedded in your blogs. You can do it with a phone – as long as you and your business look professional, consumers can forgive underproduced video as it’s becoming very normalized. In short, underproduced is better than no video.
They could be as simple as a walk-through of your premises, introducing yourselves and what you do. Especially for small businesses, whether b2b or b2c, customers appreciate realness and integrity.
This is unless part of what makes your business work is shine and polish, in which case you probably should invest in professional video production.
6. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is not a trend. A Mediakix study predicts that the ad spends for influencer marketing could reach $ 10 billion by next year:
The reason for the success of influencer marketing is due to trust, naturalness, and personalization. Consumers trust the opinion of an influencer on a brand or product much more than they trust brands themselves. The trend is clear and 58% of people have bought a new product in the last six months due to the recommendation of an influencer.
Influencer marketing will also be affected by artificial intelligence. Every year AI makes it easier to find the right influencers to partner with by identifying those with better engagement, fewer fake followers, and a higher likelihood of generating a positive return on investment (ROI).
You might consider working with an influencer if your market is an active consumer of influencer content on social media. You’ll still need to propose a campaign, with a defined period of collaboration, and whether you want to bet on micro or macro-influencers.
7. Messages through apps
Social messaging apps are not just for sending emojis to your friends: look at these numbers:
Companies are increasingly using social networks to interact with their customers. On Facebook Messenger alone, an average of 10 billion messages is recorded between people and companies per month.
These statistics show the popularity of social messaging applications. It makes sense to market your company’s products and services where your potential customers are.
Social apps allow you to send messages to your clients directly and in a personalized way. It will also allow your clients to have direct and natural contact with you in a medium they are already comfortable with.
63% of customers return to the website of a company that has live chat. The idea of this type of strategy is to cultivate contacts, deliver information efficiently, increase sales, find your potential customers, and provide real and immediate support and assistance.
8. Smart Speakers & voice search
In 2020, 50% of all searches carried out were by voice and this trend is growing. 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.
Smart speaker purchases almost tripled between the first quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019, from 9.36 million units to 26.1 million units.
Voice search plays a growing role in providing all the relevant information that people need. Many brands are already including voice search in their digital marketing strategies. This especially focuses on content strategies and actions applied to SEO. It is therefore about thinking about the passages that people will speak instead of writing. Remember to write in a conversational tone, focus on getting featured snippets on Google, and think of keywords people will be talking about instead of typing.
9. Sale on Social Networks
The integration of e-Commerce into social platforms is another Digital Marketing trend for 2022. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest are working to make it possible to buy from the publishers via tags, so the transaction can happen without having to leave the app.
It’s definitely a new twist on Social Networking, making them not only a place to find leads but to convert them as well.
Does this mean anything to your business? If you know your market is active on social media, and you offer products that can be sold online, you should probably start looking at your options here, so you can potentially cut out the middle man (advertising).
Google has just updated the way their search engine ranks websites, which they do a couple of times a year. While the results are generally not drastic, this does mean that your site may gain or lose traffic. We’ve noticed that some of our clients have gained traffic for content on their site that is particularly useful for searchers.
What is Google looking for in terms of content that will rank highly for you?
Write content that is relevant to your audience and addresses their specific problem. Be natural and write for people, not a search engine. Ideally, it should be content that others will want to link and share.
Include graphics and video when relevant and when it adds value to your readers.
Make sure the page title, headings and sub-headings are relevant, but don’t try to stuff them with keywords.
Use internal links, such as linking new pages link to important pages of your site when relevant.
While the new update may not have caused big shifts in your web traffic, it’s a reminder that the game of getting traffic and ultimately business online doesn’t stand still, and you need to keep monitoring your results and improving your site.
If you have decided it’s time to up your SEO game and would like a hand, give us a call. We can put together and help implement a strategy to grow your business through SEO and digital marketing.
Just when you thought you had your site’s SEO under control,
Google announces they are rolling out new ranking factors, known as Core Web
But don’t panic just yet. SEO is not going to change, and
this is a good opportunity to check if your site is serving up the best
possible user experience, which is ultimately what both visitors and Google are
So firstly, what are the Core Web Vitals, and secondly, what
action should you be taking? Let’s take a look.
The CWV are a set of three new metrics that Google will monitor
as signals for its search engine rankings. Note that there are certainly other
important metrics for your SEO, but these three are a little different from
typical SEO factors used in the past. They relate to speed, responsiveness and
page stability, and the beauty of them is that they are very specific – “loading speed” for example can be measured in
different ways, but Google is now defining the metric more specifically, which
is actually super useful when you’re working on SEO.
So what are they?
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This relates to page
speed. You’re already optimizing for speed (or should be!) but LCP measures the
loading speed of the largest element on the page, measured in terms of screen
First Input Delay (FID). This measures the time
before the user can interact with the page, such as by clicking a button. Developers
will be incentivised to build pages that get to the relevant interaction as
quickly as possible.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). There’s nothing more
annoying than trying to click on a button or field on a loading page only to
find it replaced by another element mid-click or while your finger is hovering.
At worst, you end up clicking on the wrong thing, only to waste more time
loading an irrelevant page.
What should I do about the Core Web Vitals?
First up, it’s easy to check how your site is stacking up through
your Google Search Console. You’ll find the new metrics prominently included
under Enhancements on the navigation column. Performance is given for mobile
and desktop, and each metric is flagged as Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor.
Once you’ve identified the elements holding back your pages,
you can start knocking them off. The good news is that if you have a large
number of pages with problems, there’s likely to be only a small number of
issues to be fixed. For example, compressing an image file may be all you need
to do to improve your LCP performance across all the pages that feature that
In addition to the normal methods of speeding up page loading, fixing FID and CLS may involve a bit of page redesign. Good practice is to keep things simple, but you may need help from your developer if there’s a lot going on with your page and your Core Web Vitals need attention.
Overall, the addition of these new metrics will lead to
better page experience and gives you the chance to optimise and beat your competition.
If your website isn’t correctly optimised, you’re missing out on new business. About 60% of searches now take place on mobile devices, and Google ranks mobile websites higher in search engine results, so make sure your site is mobile friendly or at least responsive. Other factors such as keyword placement, meta information and backlinks can affect your site as well. So, if your site isn’t optimised properly, you’re likely to be losing leads and potential customers to your competitors.
Check out how fast your site is here
The speed of your site is important, too. If a page isn’t fully loaded in less than five seconds, the probability of people leaving roughly doubles (from two seconds’ load time) according to US research. Check out how fast yours is at Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This factor is all the more important given that mobile browsers have lower bandwidth meaning pages load slower and large pages can use a significant portion of a phone user’s data.
Using a secure connection is not only smart marketing, it’s only fair to your customers.
A secure site (https rather than http) is also a must-have. Customers are less likely to fill in personal information if the site isn’t secure. In fact, if your site users are doing this, they’re at risk of personal information being stolen from them, especially on public Wi-Fi networks. Because of this, search engines are starting to dish out penalties for insecure sites, so this is thing to do sooner rather than later. Hence, using a secure connection is not only smart marketing, it’s only fair to your customers.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a big deal and one that needs to be monitored continuously. To help your business show up in local searches and listings, you’ll need local SEO – that means optimising your site for local searches and keywords. Here at KeyTech we have local Brisbane SEO experts and digital marketers to optimise your site, find keywords that matter to you and create quality content. We can also help customers business’s name, address and phone number, and keep you up to speed with social media.
Key Technologies is here to help you understand what it is, what it’s used for and why you need it. And we’re always here to help you install it.
So, what is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate stands for a “Secured Sockets Layer” which in simple words makes your website more secure by encrypting the data to and from the website’s server and your visitor. Why is this important? Well basically any passwords, email addresses, contact form submissions and the like without an SSL certificate are easily intercepted, edited/saved by hackers.
Now you might be thinking my website is too small for hackers to worry about. You would be half right, but hackers of this kind are often not people, more bots programmed by people. They crawl and search all over the internet for websites that are vulnerable and do their thing. You don’t want to be caught up in that!
Why you need an SSL Certificate?
There are many reasons to get an SSL Certificate. Here are four.
An SSL certificate will change your website from saying http:// to https:// and apply a nice green badge saying your website is “secure”. This will make users trust/feel safer on your website.
Secure login and form submission
Protect usernames and passwords as well as any data input into your website.
Search Engine rankings
In 2013, google officially announced that they will be ranking websites with SSL certificates higher. Bing and Yahoo did the same soon after.
If you accept credit cards or other forms of payments, most credit card companies are now starting to force you to have an SSL certificate.
Google chrome is starting to display unsafe websites like this. This is obviously a big danger for turning away visitors.
Many companies are selling very high-level SSL certificates for a yearly fee. For most people these expensive SSL certificates not needed. Here at Key Technologies, if you’re hosted with us, we offer SSL installations for a small one-time fee that depends on the size of your website. And will not charge you a yearly fee.