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?

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.

What You Should Include on Your Business Website

business websiteYour business website is often the first impression that your audience will have about your business. It’s their first peek into what you have to offer, so it’s important to include specific information that everyone will be looking for on your website.

A business website is there to give information about your business to your audience in very specific detail. You want to ensure that it’s laser-directed to your audience in such a way as to make the audience feel understood and safe at the same time.

Essentials to include on your business website:

Unique Content – Content consists of all information you put on your website, from blog posts to the home page. Images, forms, contextual information, the words on a submit button, and lots more are all content, which means that each one offers a unique opportunity to appeal to your ideal client. The more you can direct everything toward that ideal client, the better results you will have.

Overview of Benefits – A list of benefits of your offerings someplace or in many places on your website is a great thing to include. Your audience should leave your site fully understanding the benefits of your offerings, without question.

Contact Information – Some people seem to want to hide their contact information. That’s the opposite of what you really want to do. Instead, make it easy. Use your CONTACT ME page to offer multiple ways that your audience can contact you, including a phone number, email form, social media pages, and more. Don’t hide; be open about who you are and what you can offer.

Simple Navigation – Nothing is worse than not being able to figure out how to get around a website. If you want your audience to not only stick to your website but also to use it to its full potential, make the navigation easy to understand and intuitive to your audience. Today attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. If someone has too spend too much time trying to get around your website, they will likely click off of it and you will have missed your opportunity.

Comments Section – Make it easy for your audience to comment as well as read comments from others. You want your audience to be engaged so that they feel a connection to your site. This is a powerful use of website space, especially because user-generated content is loved by search engines.

Clear CTAs (Calls to Action) – Don’t be shy when it comes to calls to action. Your audience has no idea what to do unless you tell them. Make your CTAs super clear. Try to limit them to one or two per page of your website so that they don’t get confused about what to do.

Special Offers – A great way to draw people in to reading more information on your website is to include some sort of special offer to new visitors. You can use plugins to make time-sensitive offers to your regulars, as well as to make special offers to new visitors. This is a great way to increase customer loyalty.

Email Newsletter Subscription – Don’t let your visitors leave without offering them the ability to get updated about your offerings in the form of a newsletter or email. Make sure you give your audience a reason to share their email address with you. Pop-unders and sliders are very common today, because they work. Consider adding them to your business website for maximum impact.

Adding these elements to your website will allow it to be a key element in your marketing and sales strategy. It is essential to create your content with your audience and ideal client in mind and is focused in terms of how your audience thinks and feels rather than how you think and feel. When you do, you will start to realize the full potential and benefits of a great business website.

The Importance of a Great Website for Marketing

a great websiteOne of the most important marketing materials that you can have today is your website. A great website will help you find quality business and make more sales. The website is a unique part of your business as it works for you even when you’re sleeping to provide your audience with information and access to your thoughts and ideas.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to having a great website:

It’s Your Online Storefront – Whether you have a brick and mortar store or just an online presence, you need a good website to act as your storefront. This will be available all the time to your audience and help you get more customers.

It Works 24/7 for You – A website is on 24/7, 365 days a week. If you set it up right, with a good FAQ section, easy contact information, autoresponders and more, it can sell for you without you even being there.

Load Time Matters – When it comes to how fast your website loads, there are many ways to make it quicker. Your audience will not give you much of a chance when it comes to loading times. If your website doesn’t load quickly within a couple of seconds, they’ll click away and go to another site.

SEO Makes a Difference – Using proper search engine optimization practices can not only help your audience find you, but it will also keep them interested enough to stay on your website to search for information.

A Good Website Elicits Trust – When a website has good design, loads fast, and has top-notch information, it really makes a big difference. You want your audience to come to your website and trust what you have to offer based on what they see.

The Right Layout Gets More Action – Understanding how your audience looks at and uses websites can help you make your website more useful. Most people read in an F-pattern, and like to scroll and read major points on a site before reading the meat of the information. Knowing that can affect your website design.

Your Color Scheme Makes a Difference – You don’t want to blind or over-stimulate your audience when they come to your website. You want the colors to entice them to keep looking, and help them feel comfortable so that they are able to read everything that you offer.

It Represents You – A great website needs to represent who you are, so it needs to be unique to you and your niche. You want the website to be something you are proud of sharing with the world, and truly represent who you are as a person and business owner. Just like regular customers get to know a store owner/manager by spending time in the store, so should your audience should be able to get to know who you are as they spend time in your website.

It’s important to understand that every aspect of your website is important. If you don’t know how to build a great website, you can outsource it to someone who does (like us, for example). When you do hire a professional, be sure to check out the websites they’ve created to ensure that they are getting good traffic and look professional. This is a representation of who you are, and you want the quality to reflect that!

Must Have WordPress Plugins [Infographic]

There are many reasons you should adopt WordPress as your content management system, at the top of that list of reasons would be having access to thousands of plugins that can be cost-effective solutions for your business. Plugins can enhance your site’s functionality and enhance your visitors experience on it.  Hopefully this infographic can quickly help you identify the best solutions for your site and shortcut your time invested in finding a solution.

 

Must Have WordPress Plugins

 Must have plugins for WordPress by WP Solver

Major Google Update Alert

Google recently made a new addition to their ever-growing list of ranking factors for websites. If you’re wondering whether your site passes this “mobile friendly” test, read on.

Mobile Traffic & Blurred Lines

mobile-traffic

​For many websites, projections like the one shown above have come true and the number of visitors they get from mobile devices has edged ahead of the number of desktop visitors.

In fact, with phones, tablets, phablets and notebooks of all shapes and sizes, the lines between mobile devices and non-mobile devices have become rather blurry. The one thing that is for certain is that people are viewing your website on a wide variety of screen sizes and clicks are being replaced by taps.

No wonder then, that Google announced “mobile friendliness” as a new ranking factor for web pages.

What You Need to Know

If a page passes the mobile friendly test, it gets this addition in search results (only visible when via search from a mobile device):​

serp-addition

In addition, your chances of getting a front-page ranking for any given search term are lower, if a page doesn’t pass the test. How can you know how your own website fares? Luckily, there’s a simple test you can run:

Click to Run Google’s Mobile Friendly Test

This all comes into affect on April 21, so we encourage you to run the test on your site, if it doesn’t pass, don’t take the chance of losing your site ranking, contact us to for mobile website solutions that will keep you in front of your clients and prospects.

Search Engine Optimization for Web Marketing Novices

Guest Post by Aaron Houghton of www.boostsuite.com
Aaron Houghton is a co-founder and CEO at BoostSuite.com, the collaborative marketing platform for small businesses. Aaron has over 15 years experience building and selling marketing products to small businesses around the globe.

search engine optimizationSearch engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the process of acquiring traffic from the organic listings on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo by creating website content and using specific keywords within said content to match relevant search queries. Organic listings are the first 10 results you see on the left of the results page that have a white background. The listings with colored background means they are sponsored, or paid ads. Searchers generally trust organic listings more, because these websites aren’t paying to be placed there. They’re relevant in the eyes of the search engines to the query.

If you want your website to appear on that first page of results for any particular search, you must have that search query (or keyword) located in various places of your website. You must also have links coming into your site from other relevant websites.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. I own a boutique cookbook store. I sell are cookbooks that contain recipes for all the various types of cuisine around the world. I have a brick and mortar shop, but I also have a website. In fact, it’s an e-commerce website, meaning I can sell my cookbooks online. To optimize my website for the search engines, I’m going to make sure that I have a unique page for each and every cookbook I sell.

For my French cookbook by Juila Child, I’ll need to make sure I create one product page specifically for this cookbook. It shouldn’t share a page with a Chinese food cookbook, because that’s irrelevant (to a certain extent). Then I add phrase “French cookbook by Julia Child” in the page title, meta description, page URL, h1 heading, and the body content of the page. If you want to know more information about each of those items, I suggest searching for them!

I may also create a blog post about my newest French cookbook by Juila Child that I just got in earlier this week and provide some teasers about some of the awesome recipes to incentivize people to read, and then purchase the book online, or in my store. That’s more “content marketing” than “SEO“, but the concepts still hold true. This technique works at getting me more inbound links as well because another book store in another city may see my article and link back to it, which would get me a relevant link. The link wouldn’t hold as much weight if it were coming from a custom guitar manufacturer website. See the difference?

If you want people to find you in the search engines for various queries, you need to have those queries all over your site. I don’t mean just go on your website and start stuffing them wherever you can, because you can actually get penalized for doing that. Instead, find relevant places to add the keywords and you’ll start getting the hang of it. There are a lot more intricate aspects of search engine optimization, but the basics are really creating unique content on a page by page basis that contains your keywords or phrases that your target audience searches for in the search engines.

Do you have any other basic tips to provide search engine optimization novices with? Let’s hear them in the comments!

3 WordPress Plugins We Can’t Live Without

We have already expressed a number of times in previous posts how much we love WordPress as a website solution for ourselves as well as our clients. Today we wanted to just highlight 3 great plugins that emphasise why we love WordPress so much – the additional functionality you have available to you. They are all low-cost or no cost add-ons that improve your ability to get your marketing done and hat’s why we love them so much.

#1 – Co-Schedule

We just discovered this one, but it’s already on the 10 list of all plugins we use and recommend. Essentially, CoSchedule is a drag-and-drop editorial calendar for WordPress that puts your blog posts and social media messages on the same schedule. Now we love the fact that WordPress users can save time and grow traffic by scheduling blog posts and social media together on a unified drag-and-drop calendar. It’s the content marketing calendar that WordPress has always been missing. It’s not a free plugin, but it is only $10/month and integrates with WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer, and even Google+ Pages.

KEY FEATURES

  • Drag-And-Drop Editorial Calendar
  • Schedule Social Media While You Blog
  • Save Time, Grow Traffic
  • Easily Re-Schedule Old Blog Content
  • Lightweight WordPress Plugin
  • Automated Social Publishing
  • Simple Team Communication
  • All-In-One Publishing Solution
  • No More WordPress Hacking

Take a look at their video as well:

[video_embed url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK3un3Wt_Qo?rel=0″]

#2 – Gravity Forms

We have been using Gravity Forms for years now, but it continues to be the #1 form tool for a number of reasons. It’s easy to implement (in fact you could have a form up and collecting data in under a minute if you really wanted to), it has a ton of pre-build form options, it allows conditional actions (meaning if they select a certain answer, follow up questions can appear), you can collect information and payments all in one form and it allows you connect your form with a variety of other services (like email marketing or CRM) with a simple addon.

This great and essential plugin starts at $39 and has a variety of addons for free and low cost. We love to use it to collect payments and use Stripe to accomplish that (see it in action here: https://getstrategix.com/catalyst-order-form-monthly).

KEY FEATURES

  • Simple Click Form Builder
  • and Custom Form Fields
  • Conditional Logic
  • Order Forms
  • Customize Entry Management
  • Variety of Notifications
  • Customization of Styles & Layout

gravity-forms

#3 – Google Analyticator

The reason we added Google Analyticator to this list, is that it takes your Google Analytics data and breaks it down to the essential information needed to understand what is happening on your website and then adds it as a widget in the Admin panel of your WordPress site. No need to go and log into your Google Analytics account and dig through al the pages because you have all the important data as to what is happening on your site right at your fingertips.

For the budget conscious, here’s the great news – it is totally free (although they do have a pro version available as well – http://www.analyticatorpro.com/pro)

KEY FEATURES

  • Supports Universal (analytics.js) and traditional analytics (ga.js)
  • Includes an admin dashboard widget that displays a graph of the last 30 days of visitors, a summary of site usage, the top pages, the top referrers, and the top searches
  • Includes a widget that can be used to display visitor stat information on the front-end
  • Supports outbound link tracking of all links on the page, including links not managed by WordPress
  • Supports download link tracking
  • Supports event tracking with outbound links / downloads instead of the old pageview tracking method
  • Support site speed tracking
  • Allows hiding of Administrator visits without affecting Google Analytics’ site overlay feature

screenshot-1

There are a ton of other great plugins out there as well and we will review them in the future, but we hope you see how much these plugins can help you with your marketing and as a result increase your bottom line. Let us know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

A Match Made in Heaven – WordPress and Social Media

social-media-and-your-websiteWith the explosion of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, small companies might be wondering if they even need a business website.

Since social media sites offer many of the tools that a website offers, it may seem that social networking has now replaced the traditional business websites; but there are several things that a professional business website can offer that social media cannot.

However, WordPress makes linking social media to your company website easier than any other platform. Not only that, but going forward, your website and social media can work together to help you get more eyes on your business.

Here are some reasons you will always need a company website, in addition to social media:

  1. You Are the Owner  – When you create a WordPress website, you become the owner of it. Since WordPress is a content management system (CMS), it will never be sold and you’ll always have your own domain name. Although social media is a powerful way to engage with customers and bring in new business, all of your content placed on a social media site will be associated with the site’s brand.
  2. You Are in Control – On social media sites, users have an array of options, such as games, chats, pictures, and other business pages they can visit. With your own business website, you control everything that happens.
    There are no “social” features that distract your visitors, keeping the focus on your products and services. Additionally, readers won’t be bogged down with competitor advertisements.
  3. The Credibility Factor – While social media certainly helps your image via customer engagement and support, nothing can replace the authority that a high-quality, professional website brings. Having your own professional website and consistently loading it up with quality content can boost your credibility and ultimately drive in new business.

Keep in mind, however, that the best course of action is to incorporate social media into your business website. This way, you will have the best of both worlds.
You’ll be able to identify yourself as true leader in your industry through social engagement, as well as a professional website that accurately represents your brand. Tell us how you are using social media on your website to gorw your brand by adding a comment below?

The Secret to Search Engine Love

We’re just going to come right out and say it – the secret to search engine love is… building your site in WordPress. Yes, WordPress. Along with affordability, free themes, and ease of use, one of the most beneficial aspects of WordPress is that search engines love these websites. Since WordPress is a content management system (CMS), search engines pick up WordPress sites more easily, making it one of the top platforms for business websites.

2So, why do Search Engines Love WordPress Sites?

Permalinks: WordPress allows you to create permalinks for each blog post and page you create. When someone searches for a specific keyword, search engines can easily find the information via permalinks.

SEO Plugins: WordPress is well-known for its variety of plugins. There are several SEO-related plugins that will help you understand what keywords work well with search engines and swiftly index your website.

Tags in Posts and Pages: A tag is a keyword or set of keywords placed at the bottom of each post or page you create. Tags are beneficial because you can create specific words that relate to your content, making it much easier for search engines to pick up your website.

Categories: Another valuable feature that WordPress offers is the ability to create categories. Categories make it simple for visitors to find specific information without having to browse through unorganized content. This works well for rankings because it helps search engines index your site. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to name each category with the correct keyword so that it will be easier to index.

Interlinking: When you link a blog or web page to another similar blog or page, it helps search engines find your website and boost it in search results. In addition, interlinking is wonderful for optimizing your keywords. WordPress has built-in features that allow you to interlink as many times as you want.

Content Management System (CMS): WordPress is a CMS, meaning you can update, change, add, and edit information at any time without relying on a web developer to help. This helps to keep your content fresh and relevant, something search engines love. With the creation of Google Panda and Spider, search engines now filter out redundant content and search more for fresh, original information. Whenever you update your website with new material, search engines pick up this information, which in turn helps boost your search rankings.

If you need a website or you need to move your website to WordPress, Contact Us and we will get you taken care of asap.