EVERY WORD COUNTS
ADAM INNES EXPLAINS HOW 50,000FT MADE THE SAPPI ETC. WEBSITE SUPREMELY SEARCHABLE BY BOTH HUMANS AND ALGORITHMS
“Once you become the industry leader, the real work begins. For designers and printers the world over, Sappi sets the standard for fine-coated paper. Through integrated campaigns, creative strategy, educational materials, online tools and more (which are delivered via print and digital channels, of course), we help Sappi tell its story.
Sappi etc. (www.sappi.com/ sappietc) is an education, training and consulting website that gives people access to more than a century of its rare historical documents, detailed case studies and expert technical advice. The site offers a wealth of knowledge, is free and fully searchable in crystal-clear 600ppi resolution, and brings everything online that design and print industry professionals need in order to work smarter, faster and more effectively.
Sappi wanted this site primed to support both topical browsing and targeted keyword searching, and so we did front- and back-end development to make that possible, particularly in the use of optical character recognition (OCR). This meant that every word on every page would be searchable.
From the Sappi website, users can sort results by list or gallery. They can shelve complete selections or individual pages to read later, or share now via social media. They can also download PDFs, watch the latest videos, browse event calendars and curate a personal library.
In short, we have created a website to support different user needs, speeds, styles and preferences, which puts Sappi and search right at the heart of the experience.”
Google to rank sites are both secret and constantly changing. For this reason, optimising the SEO of a site is not a ‘one and done’ deal, but something that needs constant attention. Thankfully, it’s easy to gather data on how your strategy is working, and tweak accordingly.
“SEO is very easy to measure with analytics tools such as Google Analytics and a range of other platform tools,” explains Adam Innes, technical architect at 50,000feet. “Insights gained from these tools include key search terms, visitors by type of device, and duration of visits – all of which are vital in continuing to optimise the experience for engagement and performance.”
It’s also important to keep an eye on trends. For example, Google has made it a priority to measure the speed at which web pages load, with slow-loading sites getting demoted in the rankings. Google also puts huge stock on whether your site adapts seamlessly to mobile.
Innes, meanwhile, believes other factors will become important in future. “With a growing awareness of fake content, there will be more emphasis on a website’s TrustRank and user security,” he predicts. “Google has already taken steps to include a small bump in preference to sites using HTTPS. Providing not only quality and engaging content but also truthful and secure content will become more and more important.” BEATING GOOGLE Regardless of the specifics, one thing is clear: SEO is something all creatives need to be aware of. So how can designers develop their awareness of it?
Firstly, says Stringer, know your limitations. “Understand that this is not your forte, and it’s hard enough for SEO specialists to keep up with Google’s changing algorithm let alone a graphic designer.” But at the same time, the more you can learn about SEO the better.
“Take responsibility and get up to speed so you have a rough understanding of best practice,” Stringer urges. “It’s better for your career, your sanity and the team. I’ve always found that learning from your peers is the most useful way to gain new skills, and the digital sector is probably one of the most community focused sectors out there, so you’ll never find a shortage of people willing to help,” he continues.
“If you are lucky enough to work in a team that has a search specialist in house, or that comes in to help, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and don’t let the account manager or project manager do all the work for you,” says Stringer. “As the sector grows, there will always be more and more people you can call upon for a skills swap.”
Sappi Limited, a South African pulp and paper company with global operations, asked Chicago creative agency 50,000ft to build it an education, training and consulting website, on which every word on every page needed to be fully searchable.