Websites

Which WordPress Should I Use – WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

This is a question I get asked all the time – isn’t WordPress all the same? And the answer is no, definitely not. So what’s the difference you ask? Take a look at this video so you can see what the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is.

Websites

55 Website Essentials – Infographic

It wasn’t that many years ago that having a company website was seen as optional, but that isn’t the case today. To be effective online you not only have to have a website, bit it has to be setup right.  We have assembled some of the most important website essentials in this infographic to help you navigate this a bit better. We have also included the website essentials in list form to use as a checklist.

55 Website Essentials – Infographic

  1. Domain name – that’s easy to read and remember.
  2. Logo – a visual representation of your business that’s unique.
  3. TagLine – a concise description of what your business does.
  4. Phone Number – a clickable phone number (and make sure you answer).
  5. Call-to-Action – tell visitors what you would like them to do.
  6. Top Navigation – discreet options to find the top pages on your site.
  7. Bread Crumb Navigation – help your visitors navigate hierarchically.

Above the Fold:

  1. Image or Slider – visually display unique selling points and differentiators.
  2. Reviews and Testimonials – Video is even better to build trust with your visitors.
  3. Important Business Information – Location, etc.

Below the Fold:

  1. Quality Content – your unique selling proposition described for visitors and search.
  2. Main Features – of your products and services.
  3. Internal Links – to your website’s inner pages.

Footer:

  1. Navigation – secondary navigation to common pages.
  2. Social Media Buttons – assist people in getting to know you via social channels.
  3. Online Chat Feature – instant communication while the visitor is researching.
  4. Business Hours – along with your location, this will make sure visitors know when they can visit.
  5. Contact Information – address, phone number, and/or email address.

Inner Pages:

  1. About Us Content – what’s your story?
  2. Inner Page Content key product and service offerings in detail.
  3. Contact form – let visitors know when to expect a response.
  4. Captcha / Anti-Spam Feature – you’ll be sorry if you don’t!
  5. Privacy Policy Page – let visitors know how you’re going to utilize data you collect from them.
  6. FAQ Page – frequently asked questions.
  7. Blog Page – company news, industry news, advice, and client stories you can share with your audience.

Blog:

  1. Comment feature – increase user engagement.
  2. Search bar – make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re seeking.
  3. Sidebar – show your latest or most popular blog posts, call-to-action, or related posts.
  4. Social Media Share – allow users to easily share your articles.

Other Content and Design Points to Consider:

  1. Easily readable, clean font
  2. Links that are easy to understand
  3. Mobile responsive
  4. Hamburger menu on mobile site
  5. Use contrasting colors
  6. Use a spell checker

Search Engine Optimization:

  1. Title and meta description updates
  2. Automatic sitemap creation
  3. Easy to update URL structure

Server and Hosting:

  1. Fast and reliable hosting – I love WPEngine – click here to save 20%!
  2. Automatic website backup feature
  3. Secured

Technical Requirements Backend:

  1. Optimized code for fast page loading
  2. Use a CMS – I only recommend and install WordPress
  3. Cross-browser compatibility
  4. Google Search Console integration
  5. Google Analytics Integration
  6. Schema.org integration
  7. Site Caching

Things to Avoid:

  1. Use a video hosting service, don’t load videos on your server
  2. Avoid background music
  3. Don’t use Flash
  4. Avoid Click to Enter sites (unless there are age restrictions)
  5. Do not steal content, images, or other assets
  6. Do not share confidential information
website essentials
Websites

12 Ways to Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

If your website isn’t generating leads for you, then you’re not doing it right. A website is supposed to be like your storefront on the web. In some cases, if you have solely an online business it is your storefront. Website lead generation is vital for any business today.

12 Ways to Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

  1. Add Multiple and Relevant CTAs – Having only one CTA on the page in the form of a sign-up form is not enough. You need to put CTAs wherever your audience is looking. Under blog posts, under your about page content, above the fold on the landing pages, and home page – all are great ways to improve your conversion rates.
  2. Add a Timed and Relevant Slide or Pop-Up – There is a love-hate relationship with pop-ups for most marketers. The problem is, they do work. Therefore, putting a timed slide from the bottom, or an exit pop-up, or both, can help encourage your site visitors to sign up for your newsletters or get a relevant lead magnet.
  3. Change What’s Not Working – Before you change one thing on your site, do an audit. Find out what your conversion rates are for each page on your site. For the pages that have poor conversions, change them up to make them better. Often the problem is poor targeting; sometimes it’s just not having a CTA at all.
  4. Use Analytics – Use Google Analytics to its full potential by considering hiring someone to help you use it right. The ways you can use it are so advanced that you really do need someone who is well versed in how to use it so that you can get the most from it. Connect analytics to your website, your autoresponder, use tracking links and more for the best results.
  5. Use a Heatmap Tool – This type of tool enables you to actually find out exactly what your audience is looking at and clicking on when they come to your site. This can help you improve navigation tremendously. Try Hotjar.com.
  6. Add In Live Chat – Sometimes people just want an answer immediately; you can provide that with properly trained live chat customer personnel a lot less expensively than you may think. Zoho.com offers software to enable you to offer live chat relatively inexpensively.
  7. Give Away Relevant Lead Magnets – Double check to ensure your lead magnets are relevant to your audience. You can actually offer more than one lead magnet depending on the content that your audience is reading at the time. This proves to offer huge results. For example, if your audience is reading a blog post about journaling, you could offer a free journal template for MS Word as a lead magnet. It really is that simple.
  8. Add More Testimonials – People love reading testimonials from others who have used your products or services. Try to make it part of your follow-up to receive them. When you get a new customer, set up an automatic survey to be sent after they’ve had enough time to sample your products and services and ask for the testimonial.
  9. Add Case Studies – Another way to get people interested in your offerings is to create case studies. You can write them up or you can do interviews with successful people who have used your products and services, or a similar method.
  10. Use Multiple Forms of Content – Everyone learns and digests information differently. Therefore, having content in many forms such as text, video, images, graphics, and so forth will help everyone learn about what you can do for them in a way that they understand.
  11. Test Everything – When you create a new landing page, a sales page, a freebie or something else that needs to bring traffic or convert traffic, always double check that your assumptions are correct by testing. If you do split testing (meaning to offer two different versions of it), you’ll be able to improve and get better results over time.
  12. Finally, always ensure that your website works across all platforms. Not only should people be able to read what you’re offering, they should have no issues with buying right from their smartphone.
If you need help turning your website into a lead generation machine please contact me and I would be happy to discuss ways you can get the job done.
Websites

How to Perform Your Own Website Audit

website auditIf your website isn’t performing as well as you’d like, it may be time to do a website audit. You can pay someone a lot of money to do it for you, but, armed with the right information, you can also do it yourself. To do this, you’re essentially looking for elements that are working, elements that are not working, or elements that need to be updated. Every few years the internet changes in a big way. How we do things today is totally different to how we did things just ten years ago. What’s in today will not necessarily be in tomorrow. Therefore, it’s important to keep your website up to date with the modern technology available to you for your industry and niche.

Questions to Ask When Performing Your Website Audit:

How’s Your Branding? – This speaks to your use of color, typography, visuals, and even favicons.  Is your “about us page” updated, and is it telling the story clearly of who you are and what you can do for them? Have you included testimonials, success stories, and more to keep your visitor interested? How’s Your Design? – The look and feel of your website has a lot to do with the layout.  This includes whether content is organized well, the white space you have on your website, and your calls to action. Do those elements stand out enough? Do you have too much old-school design on your website? How can you modernize it? Is Your Coding on Point? – Do you have an updated sitemap file? Are you still using frames and old-school coding that doesn’t work today? Are your URLs indicative of what’s on each page? Are you using headers and sub-headers properly? Is It Usable? – Are you following best practices when it comes to layout? If you’re not sure, you can read Google’s advice to webmasters as well as the W3C consortium to see what they recommend. Right now the menu should go at the top, with certain things expected in the footer and sidebars.  Your website should be as modern in functionality as it is in design. Do You Have Holes in Your Content? – If you have any old content that is not quality-focused, engaging, and relevant, you will want to work on updating it. Then focus on continuing to be consistent with adding fresh content. Are Your Keywords Focused? – In the old days you might have put a lot of keywords on a page to attract your audience. Today, keywords are important but they need to be used in titles, headers, and sub-headers. They should only be used sparingly in the content, which should be written first for your audience. Be sure that when you do use keywords, you’re using the right ones for your audience. What Can You Do to Improve On-Page SEO? – This is all about how your page titles are written. They should represent exactly what’s in the content that you present. Clickbait is not appreciated, even though often even mainstream press uses that trick to get you to click. Focus instead on the URLs for each page, and meta descriptions (which are still very important), as well as meta titles. Are You Using Social Media Right? – Ensure that it’s easy for your audience to share your content socially. Connect your website to Google and YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and others, depending on what your audience likes to use. Also ensure that you’re engaging with your audience on social media, too.  Any good website audit will include an audit of social media engagement. Is Your Site Mobile? – Today there is no excuse for not having a mobile site. Your main website should really be mobile first, and then it will also work on regular browsers. This will require you to have a clean design, which is great for everyone. What’s Out of Date? – If there is anything on your site that is out of date or no longer necessary, get rid of it. This includes things such as keyword-stuffed articles, duplicate content, spun content, a ton of ads, paid links, and anything else that is not current. By going through this list, you can do a website audit yourself. This will help you keep your site modern, usable and working at its best for your business.
Websites

Key Components of a Sales Funnel

sales funnelNo matter what type of product or service you promote, the purpose of a sales funnel is always the same:  The purpose of the funnel is to get new leads, turn those leads into buyers, and to get those buyers to buy more.  While there are different configurations for a funnel, there are some key components that should always be included in your sales funnel.

Sales Funnel Basics:

Lead Magnet – This item goes at the widest part of your funnel because it is designed to get people to sign up for your email list. Often times business owners offer a free product or a trial version of a product in order to get people on their list in order to market to them and offer them the real products or services they want to promote and sell. To accomplish this, you’ll need a squeeze page to promote the lead magnet or freebie, an email sign-up form, as well as a download page. Entry Product – Some people call this the “tripwire” but using this language can unintentionally (and unfairly) evoke a negative connotation. The fact is that this entry level product is an inexpensive product that your audience can buy that will be a low cost comparison to your main products. It will give them a good example of the type of products you sell. But it’s also a good place to add an up-sell opportunity for your buyer. Email Content – Both the lead magnet and the entry level product put the prospects onto an email list so that they can now learn about everything you offer. You will want the lists segmented so that you can send them the right information. You’ll need to create email content that is designed to send your audience to the next product in line for them and their unique interests. Product – You’ll need at least one higher-priced product, if not a series of increasingly higher-priced products. This could be an advanced product or course, a private forum and support group, one-on-one coaching services, and more. If you can create a continuity program, it’ll make a great up-sell for either type of list. Sales Page – Each product needs a sales page that will also need an up-sell (and even perhaps a down-sell) to best utilize the opportunity of connecting with your prospect. You don’t want to turn away any opportunity to connect and make an offer. When you create each component for your sales funnel, there are several aspects to include with each element to make it complete. You’ll also need to think about how those components flow together to make a complete campaign.  Even though each unique funnel may have a different purpose, they all need to include these key components in order to be effective and grow your business.  Get to know each component and its function so that you become an expert at creating these sales funnels!
Websites

Why is Responsive Design So Important?

responsive designThe ultimate goal of small business owners is to have a website that gets results for them, attracts prospects, brings in leads, and converts visitors. To achieve this, having a responsive design on your website is critical.  Like most things with technology, there are always changes taking place. It’s important to keep abreast of these issues, even if you’re not a web designer. Having a responsive website design is important to keep your website adaptable to these ongoing changes in technology. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when designing your website.

Tips to Implement Responsive Design for Your Website

Usability – A responsively designed website will be easier to use for the visitors than one that isn’t. A responsive design is clean, has usable menu options, and uses all the technology available for one-click calls, one-click emails, and more. A website optimized for mobile will work better than others. Mobile Web Growth – Mobile internet has grown by over 400 percent in the last two years, and it is going to continue to grow. However, it’s not going to replace other types of devices. In fact, people are becoming multi-device users. They use their phone, their tablets, and their PC interchangeably.  Your website needs to be accessible across all devices. SEO – Having a responsive design for your website is one of the best things you can do for your search engine optimization. The reason is that most search engines give a higher return of responsive sites as results in searches. Plus, responsive websites are easier to use and simply work better. Avoid Flash – It’s important to be careful about using Flash on your desktop version of your website, but you should never use it if you want your website to be responsible. When you embed videos in your website, this can be an issue. Be sure to use a plugin that enables you to deliver the video to both mobile users and desktop users. Stop Using Pop-Ups – It’s true that they do work great to convert on your desktop. But, you need to ensure that you set them up not to try to deliver to a mobile device, because they simply don’t work on mobile devices. Consider the Fingers – Remember that people using mobile devices are typically using their finger to click their choices. Design buttons and drop downs with that in mind, giving plenty of finger room and differentiation between choices. Create Optimized Page Titles – Even on mobile, each page needs a good page title. You want to avoid titles that are drawn out and confusing. Use keywords in the titles, and keep them short when possible. Optimize Meta Descriptions – Meta descriptions for mobile need to be short; in fact keep it to 120 characters or less. This will ensure that Google and other search engines are getting the most information in the best way. If you want more visitors and repeat visitors, it’s important to keep these things on your radar. Even if you’re not a web designer, you’ll need to stay informed about the best way to make your website reach your audience. You can hire a good web designer, or simply use the right self-hosted WordPress themes, keeping in mind these responsive website design tips.
Websites

Why You Must Use Responsive Design for Your Website

responsive designSo what is responsive design for a website, and why is it so important?  Small business owners want to have a website that gets results for them, attracts prospects, brings in leads, and converts visitors. But, like most things with technology, there are always changes taking place. It’s important to keep abreast of these issues, even if you’re not a web designer, and that’s where responsive website design comes in.

What Should You Keep in Mind When Thinking About Responsive Design for Your Website?

Usability – A responsively designed website will be easier to use for the visitors than one that isn’t. A responsive design is clean, has usable menu options, and uses all the technology available for one-click calls, one-click emails, and more. A website optimized for mobile will work better than others because that’s where most people will use it! Mobile Web Growth – Mobile internet has grown by over 400% in the last two years and is going to continue to grow. However, it’s not going to replace other types of devices. In fact, people are becoming multi-device users. They use their phones, their tablets, and their PCs interchangeably. SEO – Having a responsive design for your website is one of the best things you can do for your search engine optimization. The reason is that most search engines give a higher return of responsive sites as results in searches. Also, responsive websites are easier to use and simply work better. Avoid Flash – It’s important to be careful about using Flash on your desktop version of your website, but you should never use it if you want your website to be responsible. When you embed videos in your website, this can be an issue. Be sure to use a plugin that enables you to deliver the video to both mobile users and desktop users. Stop Using Pop-Ups – It’s true that they do work great to convert on your desktop. But, you need to ensure that you set them up not to try to deliver to a mobile device, because they simply don’t work on mobile devices. Consider the Fingers – Remember that people using mobile devices are typically using their finger to click their choices. Design buttons and drop downs with that in mind, giving plenty of finger room and differentiation between choices. Create Optimized Page Titles – Even on mobile, each page needs a good page title. You want to avoid titles that are drawn out and confusing. Use keywords in the titles, and keep them short when possible. Optimize Meta Descriptions – Meta descriptions for mobile need to be short; in fact keep it to 120 characters or less. This will ensure that Google and other search engines are getting the most information in the best way. If you want more visitors and repeat visitors, it’s important to keep these things on your radar when you are thinking about design. Even if you’re not technically a web designer, you’ll need to stay informed about what works best for your prospects and visitors. You can hire a good web designer, or you can simply choose to use the right self-hosted WordPress themes.  Either way you decide, if you want responses, make it responsive!
Websites

Make Your Landing Page More Targeted

landing pageWhen you send an email marketing message to your audience, you want them to click through to a landing page that is promoting something. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is to have subscribers click straight to a buy page, and another is to have them first click to a sales page that helps further convince the reader to buy what you’re selling. You can create very targeted and specific landing pages for each email marketing message that you send.  This can be made easier by using software like LeadPages.net or Instapage.com. These tools help you to quickly and expertly create pages that convert. Not only that – if you create special pages for each email message, you’ll be able to to track some key data from your email marketing efforts by watching which types of email messages are working best for your marketing efforts.

Targeted Landing Pages Should:

Answer Any Concerns of Your Audience – If your audience has any concerns about the solutions they need, then you should be able to address and answer those in the landing page. Provide a Good Headline -– When you create landing pages that are directly targeted to specific visitors, you can create compelling headlines that mean something to that particular visitor. Use Known High Converting Designs – When you use well-known landing page software, you can take advantage of using templates that are proven to work without having to reinvent the wheel. Not Have Distractions – Landing pages should only have one column to avoid distractions for the audience. You want them to read the information that you want them to read, then act on it. If you have too much on the page, they won’t do what you that if they are distracted by the other things on the page. Have a Single Call to Action – Your CTA is very important, so it should get the special treatment it deserves by being the only CTA on the page. That way there is no way your visitors won’t know what they are supposed to do. Keep the Language Straightforward – Use clear, concise language in your landing page in order to not blow smoke, or give the sense that you are tricking your reader in any way. Load Quickly – You want your website to load quickly and not get hung up. This is very important, because if it loads slowly, people will not wait. Avoid Too Many Images – Images will slow down the page, and while they do help get your point across, too many images will distract. Use Video When Appropriate – A video of you explaining your offer is a great way to make a landing page that is welcoming to your audience. Avoid Duplicate Content – Landing pages should have unique content on them. If you clone one landing page to make a different one for your audience, be sure to change the language and make it unique. Don’t waste your email marketing messages by sending them to boring, unfocused landing pages. Be sure to make it special, focused, targeted, and relevant to your audience.  When you do, you will see many more conversions for your efforts.
Websites

Why Your Website is Your Best Digital Asset

websiteNo matter what people think, the website is still your most important digital asset when it comes to digital marketing. In fact, it is the center of your entire online marketing endeavor. Everything you do should seek to send people straight back to your site, and then on to an email list.

So Why is Your Website So Important?

1. Social Media Can Be Gone Tomorrow – It’s not likely, but any one social media account could change drastically when you wake up in the morning. It can go from free to paid, it can also change the rules, and so much more can happen. All the hard work you put into building up that social media network with content and engagement could be all for nothing tomorrow.  Social media marketing has great value to you as a business owner, but it cannot take the place of a website. 2. You Own It – If you have a self-hosted website (whether it’s built with WordPress platform or another builder), as long as it’s self-hosted on a server you rent, you can move it and use it how you want to without interference or worry from someone else telling you what to do. Even if you lose all social media accounts tomorrow, your website will still be there. 3. It’s a Destination – You’re really expected to have a website today if you have a business. If you send people to a Facebook page instead, they will not see it in the same way as they do a real website that represents your business, and only your business, without distraction. You can use the website to direct people to other media, but your website is first and foremost your storefront. 4. Everything Leads Back to It – Everything you put out there on the web, on social media, in brochures, on your business card, books, games, apps, guest blog posts, bookmarks, and other marketing collateral all lead right to your website because that will never change. Your website will always be your website.  It’s the one constant in a marketing world with many moving parts. 5. You Control It – When you own something, you control it. You can update it, change it, move it, and do whatever you want with it. When you use builders like GoDaddy, Website Builder, or native builders that can’t be moved, you’re trapped in that space, and rebuilding is harder to do. You can have as many features, email addresses, sales pages, and anything else you want to use if you control it, and it’s not hard to do. 6. They’re Inexpensive – Having your own website is not expensive. You can buy a domain name for less than 15 dollars a year, and hosting can cost less than 10 dollars a month. The only expense left is having someone build your site if you don’t want to do it yourself. But, with self-hosted WordPress, you can easily find someone for less than 1000 dollars to build it, or you can even pick a theme and give it a go on your own. It’s not  that hard – so at least give it a try. (Hint: If you can use one of the native builders, you can use self-hosted WordPress.) 7. It’s Your Brand – When you own your own website, you can brand it how you want to. You don’t have to leave any “built by” notes up, or notifications about your hosting company, or anything. You own it, which means that  it carries your branding. It’s really that simple. 8. Customers Judge You – If you don’t own your own website and use a builder, or if you try to pass off a social media site as your destination, people will judge you. They won’t view you as a serious business owner, and they will not want to work with you. Instead, put your efforts into creating the best website you can within your budget, and customers will respect you as a business owner. Owning your own website in order to market digitally to your clients is imperative in today’s online marketing world. Without it, you’ll be wasting a lot of time and money on building up someone else’s empire. Why not build your own?
Websites

Are You Making These Website Mistakes?

7 Common Website Mistakes to Avoid!

Including Irrelevant Content – From images to audio, to text, you want to avoid including any type of content that is not relevant to your audience and the message you want them to take away from visiting your website. Contact Info Is Not Readily Visible – Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to contact a business but not knowing how. Don’t hide your contact information from your website visitors. It’s imperative that they can contact you. Unnecessary Entry Pages – You’ve seen websites like that; the ones that you have to “click here to enter.” This is completely unnecessary. It can be an impediment to your audience finding the information they need, and is absolutely a problem for search engines. Making offers to people on the way to your site are a great list building marketing strategy, but make them smart – that is they know when you’ve been there before and don’t just keep showing up everytime you visit. Including Automatic Audio – Some websites have sound that comes on the moment the visitor goes to it, or if the cursor goes over it, but this is also a bad thing to do. Let your visitor choose when the sound comes on and goes off so that they aren’t irritated. Not Updating SEO Regularly – Search engine optimization involves ensuring that the right keywords, headlines, sub-headers, and information are in each page, plus that you provide enough information off your page to help get links back to your page. Learn all you can about SEO to make the most of this organic means of getting traffic. Too Many Graphics – Graphics are important for a website and add to the look, feel and mood of your website. But, you don’t want to have too many, because it will make your website load slower and cause your visitors to get tired fast. Unorganized Navigation – Learn how people tend to look at websites. When they read paper, it’s left to right, but websites they read vertically and sometimes in an F pattern. If you can understand that, you can put the important information where they’re most likely to view it. If you can avoid these website mistakes, and in fact perfect each item here, your website will be that much more inviting and useful to your audience. You’ll get more visitors to come to your website, plus you’ll get more of them sticking around, answering your calls to action and ultimately it will improve your bottom line.