Web design — all blog posts

Three ways to use Yoast SEO plugin to boost your WordPress website’s search engine friendliness

Mar 2019
Tips to make your WordPress website more search engine friendly with Yoast SEO

As you may have discovered by now, having a WordPress website probably isn’t enough to start crawling up search engine rankings for relevant phrases for your business; there is a lot of competition out there, and your website will need time and effort to start bringing in new customers.

This handy guide from the WordPress experts at Peacock Carter gives you three ideas on ways to use the popular Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to improve your website’s search engine friendliness.

1. Create an XML sitemap with Yoast SEO

A sitemap provides a list of content on your website, to ensure that search engines were able to find it all to be considered for inclusion in their rankings. These days, search engines are much more adept at finding content, but XML sitemaps can help to ensure – especially for websites with a lot of content – that they are aware of the content.

A XML sitemap does exactly this, in the “XML” format – designed for search engines to read. To enable this feature in Yoast, you will need to specifically enable it under the General Settings > Features screen (documented in the guide linked below).

Yoast SEO has a guide on how to add an XML sitemap for your WordPress website here.

2. Make use of structured data in Yoast

Structured data provides additional information to search engines about your website and your business.

Yoast’s structured data tool takes the form of a wizard, which walks you through the information it requires to add the relevant structured data to your website; see Yoast’s free guide here. Specifically, adding your company name, address, telephone number and logo is recommended to help confirm this information for search engines, and it can sometimes be used to populate Google’s Business Listings, as seen below:

Structured data in search results of WordPress website

Structured data can be used for a huge list of other improvements to search engine friendliness for your website, too, including:

  • Navigational breadcrumbs – great for helping search engines to create a hierarchy of your website’s content
  • Integrating your website’s own search feature in to Google’s search listings

3. Change your page titles with Yoast to be more relevant

By default, most WordPress websites will use the title of the page you have provided as the title of the page for search engines (also known as the meta title). This is usually fine, but Yoast SEO plugin allows you to fine-tune your website’s page titles to be more effective in search engines.

For example, a page with a title of “WordPress training courses” in your website might create a page title of “WordPress Training Courses – Peacock Carter” for search engines, but with Yoast you could amend it to say “WordPress training courses and workshops in the UK – Peacock Carter”, which provides a little more context both for the search engines, and potentially for users who are searching for your products or services.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, try our Yoast SEO workshops.

5 basic SEO tips for your WordPress website

Mar 2019
WordPress logo

Many small businesses owners make use of WordPress to power their website – and with good reason – but often forget the basics of making their website search engine friendly.

Here are 5 SEO (search engine optimisation) basics you can review on your WordPress website today to make it easier to search engines to find, interpret, and list (known as “indexing”) your website’s content.

1. Does your WordPress website’s homepage explain what you do, and where?

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised about how many business owners take the basics of explaining their website for granted. Be sure to explain:

  • What your business offers – its services or products (you can go in to more detail about individual services and products on additional pages)
  • Where you serve customers – if you offer a UK-wide service, that’s fine – but it doesn’t hurt to be extra clear!

This not only helps to reassure customers who’ve found you in search engines that they’ve found a company who can do what they want in their area, but also helps search engines understand what your business offers, and where your website might fit in search results for relevant phrases.

A solicitor in Newcastle upon Tyne’s website might use the content:

“We’re a family-run law firm based in Newcastle upon Tyne offering conveyancing, commercial and private legal advice. We work with clients throughout Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham”

An accountancy firm based in Sunderland may use the following:

“123 Accounting provides book-keeping, accountancy and tax advice to businesses and individuals in Sunderland and County Durham.”

If you’re not confident with writing your own content, ask us for recommendations for copywriters who have experience of small business website content!

2. Do your contact details match your (Google) map listings?

Show a physical address on your website, if you can.

If you’ve ever noticed map listings appear for businesses when you search for services near you? You can improve the chances of your WordPress website appearing in Google’s map listings for relevant searches (e.g., “web designers in Newcastle“) by making sure that your Google My Business account (which is free to create) displays the correct phone number, address, and postcode. You can even add your opening hours!

This helps Google to verify your business is legitimate, and also increases your of appearing in front of more potential customers.

3. Do your website’s pages have unique titles?

This is a real SEO fundamental which can often be overlooked on small business websites, even with WordPress’ sensible set up for creating page titles. Your WordPress website’s page title is a key factor for search engines such as Google and Bing.

The page title is separate to the page’s heading, which is also important, but typically visible in the page itself,

WordPress page titles - for SEO website basics

 

4. Have you used structured data?

Structured data provides additional information to search engines about your website, and your business. Search engines such as Google can then use this to enhance their listings of your website, such as with your business address and contact details:

Structured data in search results of WordPress website

WordPress plugins such as Yoast allow you to do this relatively easily, as well as providing additional features such as navigational breadcrumbs and sitemaps.

5. Register with Webmaster Tools

Finally, it’s worth registering with search engines’ webmaster tools. These can provide some valuable insight in to your website, and highlight issues you may not be aware of:

Both tools are free to register for, and can be a useful tool to maintain your website, from highlighting broken links in your content, to potential malicious/spam links that may occur if your website is breached (see our post on “how to tell if your WordPress website has been hacked“).

You can find slides from my talk at the WordPress North East meetup group in February 2019 here.

If you’d like to learn more about your WordPress website and how it is interpreted by search engines such as Google and Bing, you may find our WordPress website audits and WordPress training courses of use.

Proud to be a web design agency in the North East of England

Jul 2018
Richard Carter, North East web design agency owner. Photo: North East LEP

As an web design agency based in the North East of England for the past 11 years, I’m pleased Peacock Carter still retains its North East roots.

I’ve found the North East a great place to be based for business. In particular, I’ve found the digital and creative community in Newcastle to flourish beyond what was already a great community of talented people in Newcastle and the North East, with regular meetups and talks throughout the year. Indeed, I organise two monthly meetups myself, for the WordPress and Magento platforms.

So, when the North East Local Enterprise Partnership enquired about getting me involved in a campaign to retain more graduates of North East universities in the region, I was more than happy to help.

The beginnings of a North East web design agency

The company had humble origins, starting in a bedroom in Durham in 2006. Founded by 2 Durham University students with a passion for website design and development, we quickly moved in to offices in Felling, Gateshead, before making the jump to Newcastle city centre a few years later. The company has changed its focus a little – like any good business! – since we started, and we’re now a very capable web design agency and ecommerce agency.

Today, Peacock Carter works with clients around the region – and throughout the world – and we are proud to remain in the region with our base at Northern Design Centre on Gateshead quayside.

Work, Live and Stay in North East England

My small feature is part of a much wider campaign by the North East LEP to showcase graduates from North East universities (from Newcastle and Northumbria, to Durham, Sunderland and Teesside) who have remained in the region and been able to contribute to its continuing successes.

You can read more from me and my thoughts on staying to live and work in the North East of England in the NELEP’s PDF here.

3 signs your WordPress website has been hacked

Jun 2018
Signs your WordPress website has been hacked

Ever had a funny feeling something about your website isn’t quite right? Maybe your WordPress website has been hacked. This guide by the WordPress experts at Peacock Carter gives you an insight in to how you might know.

We’ve been building websites for over 11 years now, and have become adept at noticing signs of hacking in website’s we’re inheriting from clients.

WordPress is a great content management and blogging system for you website, but as with any software, it’s important to keep on top of your website’s security updates. Without these your website can be hacked – accessed without your permission – and content can be harmed.

Hacking can not only leave your website unfunctional, it can harm your hard-earned search engine rankings and effect your business, so it’s important to address issues as quickly as you can.

1. Spam links in your WordPress post & page content

Finding spam links in your WordPress website’s page and post content is a common sign your website has been hacked. Look through your page and post content for links that look out of place.

Sometimes, these spam links are hidden from view in the Visual editor tool in WordPress, and you will need to use the Text editor view at the top-right of the editor panel:

Visual and Text editor views in WordPress

One telling sign your website has been hacked is to search your content for words related to common spam topics: fashion, “rolex watches”, etc. More elaborate content is hidden using inline CSS in your website; using the Text editor view above, you may be able to see this by searching for the word “absolute”.

2. Unusual WordPress user accounts

Check the user accounts who have access to your WordPress website. Navigate to the Users > All Users screen in the WordPress administration panel:

 

Check your WordPress users if your website has been hacked

If you spot user accounts that should be there, or you don’t remember creating, you may need to delete them (or as your web development agency for help). This is particularly important for accounts which have full WordPress administrator rights.

Reset your own account password, and get any other users with access to the website to reset theirs too.

3. A sudden dip in traffic

As we mentioned above, hacked websites have the potential to lose their search engine rankings as they’re deemed “unsafe” or “unreliable” in search engines. If you have experienced a sudden drop in search engine traffic, it could be due to your WordPress website being hacked (though there are many other causes for this too!). Talk to your WordPress website agency, or your digital marketing company for more advice.

How to clean your WordPress website up

To get your WordPress website back to a clean state after it’s been hacked, approach a reliable WordPress developer (as pure coincidence, that would be us!). You can also take some precautions yourself:

  1. Reset your WordPress administrator account passwords to something secure using a secure password generation tool such as passwordsgenerator.net
  2. Remove any suspicious links or user accounts as soon as you can
  3. Talk to your web developer or web design agency

These are just a guide to some common signs of hacking for your WordPress website. Sometimes, hacking doesn’t leave a trace; please consult an experienced web developer and discuss having a security audit of your website undertaken if you’re unsure.

Our web design trends for 2018

Feb 2018
Web design trends in 2018

As a web design agency who have been around since 2006, we’ve seen a lot of website trends come and go in our time, from skeuomorphism to flat design and the rise of responsive web design.

So, here are our 2018 web design trends to watch out for this year – from more animation to greater use of vibrant colours and a change in direction for typography.

1. More web animation

Animation has been used on websites for decades now, in various forms. Formats such as GIF allowed early web designers to create animations for logos and other uses, but the format could only support a limited range of colours. Then came Flash – a format now largely gone from the web, thanks to the rise of web users adopting their smartphones, which largely did not support the format in favour of more modern technologies.

Web designers now have a broader range of animation tools available to them, making animations, but also more efficient in terms of file size – allowing us to keep website loading times to a minimum. An ideal pairing!

2. Moving away from “the grid” of web design

Mobile-friendly websites have been around for a relatively long time now – in the scheme of the digital world, anyway! – and many are built on a grid system which denotes the relative width of columns for content for different screen sizes.

We suspect that 2018 will see a move towards more assymetric, quirkier layouts for pages, allowing more creative art direction on pages.

3. Vibrant colours

We’re expecting to see much bigger use of bold colours and unusual and striking colour contrasts on websites in 2018.

One thing to beware of with unusual colour palettes is their contrast – poor contrast between text and background colours can cause a lot of issues for accessibility, particularly for those website visitors with colour blindness.

4. A larger focus on serif typefaces

Web designers have typically stuck largely to sans-serif typefaces (i.e., more rounded fonts without “feet” (serifs) on letters) for the web, as they tend to be easier to read. We think 2018 will see more prevelant use of serif fonts, especially with the development of web fonts via tools such as Google Fonts.

Whatever 2018 brings, we can be sure it’ll be another exciting year in web design and development.