You’ve built your shiny new business and now you need a shiny new website. You are not alone. More and more small businesses are seeing the need to establish their presence online. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 80 percent of American households have Internet access, and growing. While generating a generic website is not difficult, creating an effective website does require a lot of effort. Follow these five easy tips for building the best website for your business or personal needs.
1. Generate Exceptional Content
Perhaps you’ve heard the webmaster’s creed, “Content is king.” It’s true. To be effective, your website must have something to offer, and you must offer it well. Good spelling, good grammar and a means of coherently communicating your content wins every time. In general, most web readers prefer a casual, conversational style to the formal voice found in weighty textbooks or encyclopedias. How you publish content is important, as well. Web readers tend to shy away from 1,000-word text-heavy articles, preferring shorter content with brief paragraphs, lists or images and videos.
Additionally, stick with your niche. For examples, if you specialize in budget travel, write content that relates to budget travel, and skip the long dialogues on the current political climate or how to make money online. The more relevant content you publish to your niche website, the more clout and relevance you earn in the search engines and among readers.
2. Create a User-Friendly Site
You may publish the most scintillating stories in cyberspace, but if your website isn’t user-friendly, most readers will pass your content by in a matter of moments. Statistics show that website readers do not read — rather, they scan the page for interesting content for a few seconds before moving along. Create a website that invites visitors to linger. Incorporate navigation menus with succinct titles. Place anchors or fixed-point buttons or tabs to direct readers to special sections. Utilize “breadcrumbs,” a textual, linear navigation map that shows the trail the reader has taken throughout your website. Create a special site map page where readers can locate information quickly. Avoid popup windows, auto-play media and web pages that force readers to or from other web pages. Finally, include a biographical snippet, an “about us” page or a map with the physical location of your business. These tools connect your readers with you or your business and encourage reader input and recollection of your site.
3. Know Your Audience
Part of creating an effective website is building a rapport with your audience. Your website design and content should reflect the audience to whom you address. For example, big, bright, primary-colored buttons are very cute on a parenting website or elementary teacher’s journal but are ill-suited for a technology or auto business site. Your website should never patronize or insult your readers. Tailor your web design and all content—including photos and advertisements—to your audience.
4. Design With Style
If your website contains a lot of information, such as an educational or resource site, consider a magazine-style theme. This type of theme displays a great deal of content on the home page, giving your readers instant access to a variety of content. Beware, however, of over-stuffing your home page with too much content. Flooding your home page with hoards of articles, links, videos and images will confuse your readers and drive them away. A good rule of thumb is to maintain content in “threes.” Organize your content in neat categories, listing three at a time with a tantalizing link that leads visitors to additional content. On the other hand, if your website is more streamlined, such as a photo gallery or personal journal, consider a simpler, more creative theme.
Symmetry and balance are other important design features. As Aristotle once said, “Beauty depends on size as well as symmetry.” People are generally attracted to symmetrical, balanced designs. If your website isn’t precisely symmetrical, make the layout balanced. A large block of data on one side should be tempered with several smaller blocks on the other side.
For most websites, a simple design with light touches of creativity works best. Don’t be afraid of colors, but keep the color scheme classy. Select a color scheme that enhances your content, niche and audience. For example, your metal rock band website may look great in black and hot pink, but your medical reference website needs calmer colors. And you should always avoid the following things: crazy fonts, dark backgrounds, flashing banners or buttons and auto-generated music and video.
5. Call the Experts
For some businesses, their website can make or break their reputation. A hokey, aged Microsoft FrontPage website that hasn’t been updated since 1998 or a confused mass of borders and blinking buttons is not very appealing to visitors and may even repel customers. If you think you need some assistance building a website or producing sufficient content, consult a professional web designer or content supplier. Many professionals offer a free consultation and estimate, giving you valuable information and a glimpse into the web design world.
While these are only five of the best tips for building an effective website, additional advice abounds. What components do you look for and admire about the websites you visit? What tips can you offer for a start-up site?
The newest trend in business marketing is the ‘like’ system, provided by the social media giant, Facebook. What does a ‘like’ really get you? Using ‘like’ is similar to creating a mailing list. When someone clicks the button, their name is added to a fan grouping that you can use for advertising purposes. A ‘like’ will also increase the “word of mouth” potential for a company or website.
It is not hard to see why companies are trying to come up with new and improved mousetraps to get Facebook fans. Just like any advertising scheme, not all ideas work. Let’s take a look at a few of the less ingenious programs designed to get you ‘liked.’
This campaign involves a message coded into the loading script of a website, blog or feature. When users go to open a site, the background goes darks and a small popup message appears asking them to ‘like’ the page on Facebook. Visitors must either click the button to ‘like’ the page or close the popup to continue on to the website. This trick is more annoying than it is effective. In general, the bullying approach to advertising will not get you liked.
Suggest to Friends
Facebook offers a marketing tool to increase your fan base. The ‘Suggest to Friends’ option allows you to send a notice to everyone on your friends list to like your page. This is annoying, as well, but much easier to ignore than popup messages. That in itself is a problem. This is passive-aggressive marketing. People with hundreds of friends on Facebook probably get one of these notices every day and they can’t ‘like’ them all. After a while, the alerts get ignored. People want to make choices for themselves and are not likely to join up with every notice.
There is nothing wrong with budgeting for advertising but buying Facebook fans is not cost-effective. You may get more likes with a paid campaign but you don’t know who is doing the clicking. The company you are paying may have dummy accounts or you might be getting likes from users overseas that will never be anywhere near your business. The purpose of going viral on Facebook is to increase traffic for your company or website. Unless you are International, paying for likes is not going to help much.
It seems like a good idea, and at one point it probably was, but now sweepstakes are just overdone. It is the too much of a good thing rebound effect. Companies all over the Internet are having drawings for some tiny prize and all a user has to do is keep hitting the ‘like’ button. Distinctive is always better, and sweepstakes do not stand out enough to get noticed any longer.
This is anything that requires Facebook to allow permission for a user’s page, for example, a login tool. When the alert pops up to allow permissions, there is a knee jerk reaction to close it. Your customers will get nervous about giving you an open door to their personal information. You might get an automatic ‘like’ from this customer every time they log in using Facebook but many will feel uncomfortable with the process.
At this point, the smart reader is asking what will work to get more Facebook fans. Good old fashion patience, service and hard work. If you offer a memorable service, worthwhile product or compelling website eventually you will develop a following. In the beginning stages of Facebook promotions, some of the get fans quick schemes may have been effective, but not so much anymore. Facebook users are becoming more discerning about their ‘likes.’
Give-a-ways and promotions that require you to like a page can help. Most people will jump at the chance to get a free copy of a book or discount on an order. They might be willing to hit the like button if it gets them something.
Blogging regularly with the ‘like’ option is viable, as well. If you post to a blog about subjects the interest your readers, they will pay your back by liking each post. Combining a blog with a page feed will keep them focused on the fact that you maintain a presence on Facebook.
With any form of advertising, slow and persistent is going to get you lifelong customers and fans. Fast and dirty marketing may get a few initial clicks, but the interest will flame out. Take your time, set up an effective campaign and stick to it.
This guest post is by Edwin who regularly writes about celebrities, TV, and movies for the Celebutaunt blog on USDish.
Over 100,000 new website domain names are registered daily but not all rank well on internet search engines. Websites that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) upon launch and regularly optimized afterwards have a far greater upfront chance of success. The following checklist is designed to get websites off to a positive optimized start straight away.
Firstly a new website needs to be accessible and clearly visible on the internet. Users and search engines need to be able to easily find all the pages associated with the website and they should be error free and avoid content duplication. Webmaster Tools provided by Google is a fantastic free tool to help diagnose and correct website problems in regards to page visibility on Google prior to website launch.
Then target keywords to bring traffic to your website (the correct words make it easy for search engines to match your website content to queries). Choose words that people are actually searching for (have search volume) and that accurately relate to the content you want people to see on your website.
Next is quality website content. Having search engines find your pages through keywords and then not having relevant and useful content for users is not going to make your website successful. You need to look at what will be useful in answering their query. Do you need more statistics, images or information references? If you get this right, users will be pleased and return to your website; and you will receive more web traffic from search engines as they also look for quality and value for users.
Good website design and usability is critical. The services of an expert web designer will help greatly to get this right but you could also go with a simple design and test it out on friends and colleagues to get feedback on how easy it is to use and find content. Act on improvement suggestions to get the website right because if there are problems when launched you will not get return users.
Social networking and SEO go hand in hand. Search engines give priority to links and items shared on sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn (which all have hundreds of millions of users). Set up accounts and share website content consistently on social media to gain positive web traffic and get people talking about your site.
Finally link building without creating spam is critical to your websites success. Establish high quality links with reputable and relevant websites to ensure they appear on search engines and attract the web traffic you desire. Start with asking good customers and business contacts to link your site on their website, blog roll or social networking page. Look at relevant blogs that you may be able to submit a guest post on, or contact local news media and inform them of your site, perhaps request a review website to look at your site and so on. Build quality links and you will rank more highly on search engine results.
Bio – Ruth Rogers is an internet marketer that also enjoys writing custom assignments, social web marketing, and search for other fun methods to bring mega traffic to sites.
E-Commerce has hit the mainstream. These days more and more people are flooding to bargains offered by the likes of Amazon or are looking to snap up amazing deals on the auction site eBay. But if there is one group that has proven less interested in going online for deals it’s the over 60s.
They haven’t grown up with computers like many people have, and on average will have had less use for them at work. And this lack of experience has brought with it a certain mistrust. This means that to sell to the over 60s you need to ensure that they can trust you.
With that in mind we have gathered together the best tips on how to sell to the over 60s. Because once you have overcome that mistrust it can be a lucrative market for you, and your products can benefit your customers in a whole new vertical.
E-Commerce Selling to the Over 60s
- Large product pictures: Ideally next to your own branded logo in the same shot. They may be worried you don’t actually have the products you are trying to sell, and are just trying to get them to pay for something they won’t receive. This can help put their minds at rest.
- A telephone number: One of the best ways of alleviating concern is to have a telephone number they can ring. Many will be reassured by it simply being there, but some will like to call and chat. If possible this can be a great way of establishing trust.
- Easy to navigate and easy to read: Consider how easy your site is to navigate for those that don’t use computers much. And while you’re at it make sure that the font is easy to read (and large) and that the contrast between background and foreground is sharp to help reading.
- SEO: You may not think it but SEO is vital for marketing to the over 60s. Research has found that the majority of people over 65 will use a search engine to find a product, rather than going to a specific site. So you need to ensure that your site is being found in the search engines if you wish to sell 60th birthday gifts and other products to the over-sixties demographic.
- Legal disclaimers and certificates: The over 60s are most likely to read through all the disclaimers and certificates. So make sure that you include them in your site and easily seen, so that they can be found and read.
There are three vital aspects of selling to the over 60s online. Develop trust, be easy to navigate and be found. Sort those out and you’ll be selling to the over 60s in no time.
About The Author:
Matt Greene works for Find Me A Gift, where you can find gift ideas for all ages, including 40th and 50th birthday gift ideas and more.
For a lot of small businesses, social media is an afterthought, a “oh yeah I need to post on Facebook today.” If that is your business, I want to challenge you today to re-think how your business approaches social media. As your small business begins the process of creating dynamic social media, consider these 5 don’ts of social media for small business.
1 ) Don’t: Forget to converse-Is your business’ social media more of a presentation or conversation? While presentations can be very informative, they are usually a one-way process that don’t end with the presenter really connecting with his audience. On the other hand, a conversation can lead to a much more meaningful and long-term relationship. So is your small business presenting or conversing?
2 ) Don’t: Forget to budget for social media-“But social media is free!” Yes, most platforms allow you to freely sign up for an account, but there still maybe some costs involved. What you may have to budget for: social media ads, design work, paying staff for their time maintaining the social media, content creation, and more. Every business is different, so plan you budget for social media accordingly.
3 ) Don’t: Ask an employee to post without prior training-In last weeks post, we talked about sharing the responsibility of social media with a co-worker. One point I want to emphasize is ensuring that employee/co-worker is properly trained on the social media your small business uses. Although most people are familiar with the most popular social media platforms, there maybe a learning curve. Ensure that whoever handles your business’ social media is properly trained and given a copy of your social media calendar.
4 ) Don’t: Constantly yell “come to our store” without other useful posts-While you should definitely entice potential customers to visit your store, it should be handled in the proper way. With that in mind, if all your small business posts is “come to our store” this week, are you really engaging with your audience? Let your audience see that you are the authority on whatever you are selling, give pointers, tips, buying advice, etc.
5 ) Don’t: Overly focus on numbers-Obsessing over how many fans your new Facebook Page has isn’t going to help you increase your sales or spread your brand on social media. Concentrate on getting the appropriate message to the appropriate audience in unique and engaging ways and the numbers will take care of themselves. If you are having trouble understanding how to build your social media audience, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conclusion: Social media for your small business should be more than an afterthought, but rather should be approached just like every other marketing channel that your business undertakes. It is important to assess your business’ social media on a regular basis to find ways that it can be improved upon. If you have been presenting more than conversing, it maybe time to take a new approach and make some changes that will impact your small business in a positive way.
What do you think about our 5 don’t of social media for small business? Do you have any “Don’ts” that weren’t on our list? Do you or your small business have a social media success story? Leave comment below or tell us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
“I am so busy handling the day-to-day duties of my small business, how in the world do I have time to plan for social media?” Between your daily activities and new social media sites like Google+, having time to post on your various social media accounts can seem like a cumbersome chore. Today we’re going to talk about how you can form a plan to really connect with your target audience through social media without letting it take over your day.
1 ) Create a social calendar-Knowing what you are going to post about weeks in advance can not only help you post relevant, engaging posts, but it will also help to alleviate the time you spend each day posting. Although it may seem difficult at first, I recommend developing a social media calendar at least 1 month in advance. The easiest way for your small business to do this is to plan your social media according to your upcoming events, sales, time of year, or new items and services. By planning out your social media posts with current business activities, you already have subjects to post about!
2 ) Block out 10-15 minutes-You already put briefings, business meetings, and the rest of your daily activities on your schedule…so why not put social media on your schedule? You don’t have to block out hours, perhaps 10-15 minutes a day will be plenty! Don’t forget that the time of day you post matters!
3 ) Let co-workers help-Once you have developed your social media calendar, it will be much easier to have someone else in your business post occasionally. Don’t feel like you have to be the one to post every time. Do make sure whoever else is posting knows what to post about and when to post.
4 ) Avoid 3rd party API’s-Although there are some apps and websites that will automatically post on a particular day and time, I do not recommend using these. First of all, your engagement could drop by 70%. Secondly, remember that social media should not be looked at as a chore, but rather a means to reach new customers and interact with current customers.
Conclusion: Social media is a great resource for businesses small and large, but can seem extremely time consuming without a solid plan. Be sure to develop a social media calendar, set aside 10-15 minutes on your schedule for social media, and don’t be afraid to let others within your business post! Remember that social media is an avenue to grow your business and potentially reach customers that you wouldn’t reach elsewhere. So, how do you plan your social media? Does your small business have a dedicated “social media” guy? Does your small business have a social media success story? Tell us all about it below!
“What social media sites should my business be using?” I often get asked this question and to be honest there is no “correct” answer. My general advice is this: if you are not currently using any social media, I usually recommend starting with Facebook. The reason I usually advise starting with Facebook is because it is undoubtedly the most popular social media site. Whether you are just getting started with your business Facebook page or just need a refresher course, these 5 tips will help you grow your Facebook fans.
- Don’t “Over-Promote” Yourself- If everyday you simply post “Come stop by our business today, our business is xyz, etc” people will most likely lose interest in your Facebook page. Instead, be creative in your posts by including: informational posts, video testimonials, success stories, and ask your “Facebook congregation” engaging questions.
- Time of Day Matters- This is something that most people don’t consider when they post from their Facebook page, but your post time really does matter. A majority of your target audience maybe working when you post, your younger group maybe still sleeping when you post, or your older customers may already be asleep…sorry for the stereotypes young and old people. Take into account who you are trying to reach, and when maybe the best time to reach them. Finding that “perfect time” may take several weeks of trial and error.
- Include All Types of Posts-While similar to tip #1, I thought it was important to mention again. Facebook makes it easy for you to post poll questions, pictures, videos, text, links to other resources so take advantage of this and utilize all types of posts.
- Short and Sweet- One aspect of Twitter that makes it so unique is the limit of 160 characters per “post/tweet.” Although Facebook does not limit you to a small number of characters, keep your posts short. If you have a lot to share, create a blog post and simply link to the blog from your Facebook page!
- Create an Ad- While all businesses don’t have the ability to spend the extra money, creating and running a Facebook ad can actually be fairly inexpensive (you can always set a fixed budget). A Facebook ad can be a great way to target a specific demographic and encourage the engagement and growth of your Facebook Page. Ex: Your business would love to take an extra 10 youth on a mission trip. You create a Facebook ad targeting your city, male/female age 13-18, interested in church, etc. If you haven’t looked at the advanced targeting segmentation that Facebook allows for, it really is neat stuff!
Conclusion: There are several social networking sites that have exciting possibilities for businesses. Since Facebook is by far the most popular, it maybe best to start there and slowly branch into other social networking sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, and others. When posting on Facebook, remember to keep it short, targeted, and at the appropriate time of day! How is your small business using social media? Does your small business actively promote it’s Facebook and Twitter accounts when meeting with potential clients and in traditional marketing campaigns?
Ways to increase your Conversion Rate
Some of the obvious points like site speed and usability aren’t mentioned in this post as you have probably read about them in other articles. My objective was to share some different methods that can work but aren’t usually found in other posts.
Driving visitors to your website is one thing, but getting them to convert is another. While we all concentrate on trying to get more visitors to our sites, we mustn’t forget the importance of conversion rate optimisation as this is a vital part of any online business. Increasing your conversion rate by just 1% can have a huge effect on your sites performance so you must always be looking for ways to improve it.
Conversion rate can be best described as ‘the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action’ so for example buying a product or signing up to a newsletter.
Whenever you think about conversion rate don’t just think about your website, try and think about the external source that brings you the visitor. Think about your search result that appears in Google or your product listing on a referrer’s site. Can you do anything on this external source that is going to benefit the visitor before they reach your site? A good tip is to provide the key factors about a product or your desired action to the external source. Below are a few ways that can help you achieve this.
Rich Snippets – Schema.org
Schema.org is a collection of shared vocabularies that you can use to mark up your web pages which help search engines such as Goolge, Bing and Yahoo understand what your page is about. Schema.org is used with micro format data, and can be implemented by marking up your html content with relevant tags.
Samsung have used the Aggregate Rating tag to display their rating reviews for the Samsung Galaxy S2. Other mark ups are available such as price and description. Checkout the schema.org website for the full documentation and a list of tags you can use.
By using rich snippets you are able to inform your visitor with key information which in turn could make their decision to purchase or complete the ‘desired action’ before they’ve even clicked on your site.
Google Adwords – Site links / Ad extensions
If you have a Goolge adwords account then site links and ad extension are great for providing key information to PPC campaigns. Like rich snippets, an ad extension allows you to have rating reviews on your brand and product terms.
Your business will also receive traffic from referrers, so a good idea is to contact these sites and provide more information about your ‘desired action’. They will be grateful of this extra information and the attention you’re paying to them. By building relationships with these referrers, means they are more likely to corporate with you in the future and give you a bit more attention or allow you to have more in-depth product details.
As you have started to look at your external sources, you must also look at your existing site and find ways to improve it. A golden rule in optimisation is to test, test, test.
A/B and Multivariate Testing
A/B testing is where you create 2 different landings pages and send 50% of visitor to Page A and the other 50% to Page B. You would then analyse the results to find out which landing page converts better.
Multivariate testing is where you use different variations of content within sections of a webpage simultaneously, for example you could have three different headings and two different images.
Using both these types of experiments is a great way to test your pages but a word of caution, make sure you are testing the different variations with enough visitors to get accurate results.
Google offer a tool named website optimizer which many people use to carry out these two experiments so be sure to check it out.
Think about the visitor
What I mean by this,is trying to think about what questions the visitors may have and how you can answer them. Here are some questions a consumer may have for an ecommerce website.
How much does delivery cost?
How long does it take?
Does this price include VAT?
Is this site secure?
Is the site trust worthy?
Using tools such as live chat can really benefit your business as it provides a live contact with you and your visitor. Using things such as accreditations, reviews and guarantees can help you gain trust with the visitor. Make sure you place things like your guarantee, contact number and live chat above the fold so it’s the first thing that the visitor sees.
By putting yourself in the visitors shoes, will help you realise some key factors that you may be missing on your site. Think about when you visit a site, what things do you want to see or not want to see?
Visitors don’t like to enter their credit card details or address details at the checkout anymore; they want a quick and easy solution. By introducing an ‘Amazon like checkout’ you will most certainly increase your conversion rate. If you don’t have an express checkout then take a look at some of your competitors and see how many do. You may just find that you can become one step ahead of them.
If you currently do have an express checkout, advertise the fact that you do. Don’t wait for the visitor to reach the checkout before they realise, show it on your landing pages.
New methods and techniques are always being introduced that can help your conversion rate optimisation so be sure to keep updated by researching and reading online. Always remember to keep optimising as it’s down to YOU, to improve your websites conversion rate.
Article written by Daniel Whittaker who is the website content administrator at Cartridge Monkey, one of the UK’s major suppliers of Ink Cartridges. Daniel is a keen writer on SEO, Data Analysis and Website Optimisation
Yes, you read that correctly! Right now you can win one of our two fully customized $2,000 websites for as low as $600 through Pine Belt Deals. Click Here to place your bid!
Google AdWords has been the prime choice of people looking for pay per click advertising on the web for many years. But now that Facebook, which offers its own advertising service, has become one of the most visited websites in the world, there is another very attractive option available.
Yet there’s a small problem: most of the people who are using social media and visiting Facebook won’t be looking to buy like they might be doing when carrying out a Google search.
AdWords targets people who are more likely to be looking to buy a product, while Facebook targets people according to their interests – thus you’d be forgiven for assuming the conversion rate offered by AdWords would be higher. However, some companies have reported that their Facebook campaign has been more lucrative than an equivalent campaign on AdWords.
Why could this be?
It’s more than likely all down to targeting. AdWords targets people based on what keywords they’re typing and what information it can gather from previous searches, whereas Facebook has much more information on the people using their service and can specifically target these individual people based on all their information.
So for hitting a target market, Facebook is going to be much more accurate, as you can choose to only go after the people that are going to be interested in your advert. Because of it being so specific, you’re less likely to be getting people clicking your ad that aren’t interested in your product or service which will keep the cost per click lower.
On Facebook, you can include pictures in your ad. You can’t do this on Adwords, so it’s a big advantage to Facebook as it can really attract people’s attention towards your ad while they’re browsing the site. An image can be seen and taken in in a second and is more likely to be noticed by someone casually scrolling through a site, but a well-written advert could easily go unnoticed by someone not wanting or bothering to read.
Two can be better than one
The main thing to remember is that you’re not just limited to one option when it comes down to advertising. You can easily choose to run a pay per click campaign on both Facebook and Google AdWords, and you might find that one is better than the other for your particular business or both are equally as good.
If you’re in the UK and uncertain you can run a pay per click campaign for whatever reason, it might be worth looking into an online marketing agency in the UK that can run pay per click management for you.
Article written by Amy Fowler of online marketing agency, Boom Online Marketing. Follow Boom on Twitter.