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.

So, 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.

Mobilizing Your Website Is Vital – Website Strategy Tips

If your website isn’t yet optimized for mobile use, try navigating to your site from your mobile phone. Chances are you’ll have a difficult time viewing your own content. Your mobile phone may lag as you try to navigate and in some instances, it may completely shut down. Mobile devices are not equipped to handle traditional websites, and with more than 50% of consumers using mobile devices to search of products and services, it’s imperative that you have a website that works for mobile phones and tablets.

Fortunately, our CMS of choice, WordPress, makes the process relatively easy with helpful tools and features.

WordPress Mobile Themes
WordPress has themes that are optimized according to the device used when visiting a website. For example, if someone visits your site from an iPhone, the theme’s dimensions will change in order to support it. If someone uses a tablet, the theme’s dimensions will once again change in order to accommodate the user’s device.

WordPress Mobile Plugins
In addition to mobile themes, WordPress offers a variety of mobile plugins that strip down unneeded graphics and designs so people on mobile devices can have faster load times. For example, the WordPress Mobile Pack is a powerful all-in-one tool that can switch your website from mobile-ready to desktop and vice versa, depending on the device used to visit your site. It also contains advanced mobile themes geared towards iPhone, Palm, and Android users.

Mobile Use is Here to Stay
According to Localytics, 41% of mobile phone users browse for products and services via their mobile devices after seeing something in an advertisement. Additionally, over half of mobile phone users will compare store website prices while shopping in the same store and 36% of shoppers will go online to check out deals that others stores have. Furthermore, per Pew Internet, as of May 2013, over 90% of adults in the United States own a mobile phone. 56% of these adults have smartphones, and 36% have mobile tablets. Along with playing games and visiting social media sites, the majority of mobile phone users regularly visit business websites for coupon deals to use at local stores and businesses.

If a website is not mobile-friendly, most users will find another similar business that offers better viewing. As more and more people turn to their mobile devices for purchases and research, it’s imperative to ensure consumers have the best possible viewing experience when visiting your website.

Sources:
Pew Internet: Mobile: http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/February/Pew-Internet-Mobile.aspx
Localytics: 20 Fresh Mobile Statistics: http://www.localytics.com/blog/2013/mobile-statistics/

7 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid [Infographic]

Making mistakes is inevitable, but when it comes to marketing, and especially the way your website answers the questions your visitors have, it can be extremely costly. We present 7 of the biggest web design mistakes small businesses make so you can improve your website, convert more visitors and ultimately increase your bottom line.

web-design

Poor Website Design Can Cost You Customers – Website Strategy Tips

web-design-mistakesNo matter how professional your company is or how strong your services are, a poorly designed website could cost you more than you think. Today, more than ever, your website may be the first thing that consumers see before making a purchasing decision. People are turning to the Internet to find solutions before they go anywhere else.

Telltale signs a poor website design is costing you customers:

1. Subpar Functionality: It’s important to ensure that all your links, videos, and graphics are running smoothly at all times. In some cases, you may not even know you have these issues, but make sure you’re proactive and get a problem repaired as soon as possible.

2. User Experience: Consumers want websites that are easy to use yet still provide eye-catching options. For example, a simple link that directs them to a product isn’t as pleasing a link highlighted in blue, with a beautiful picture and a product description beside it. In addition, service information and products should always be easy to find. Obscure, hard-to-find information is a disappointment to consumers as they want to find things as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

3. Categories: Your website should be designed with categories for each product and/or service you offer. This not only helps your site look cleaner, but it also ties into the user experience, making it simpler to find information. If your products and service information is scattered sporadically throughout your website with no order, then your site probably needs an overhaul.

4. Font Size, Text, and Search Boxes: Outdated text, hard-to-read fonts, and websites without a prominently placed search box all plays a part in a poorly designed website. If your website isn’t designed in a user-friendly way, you run the risk of not only losing potential paying customers, but also current customers as well.

5. Goal of the Site: Consumers do research before they make purchasing decisions, whether in-store or online. If your website isn’t designed with the customer in mind, these consumers can easily move on to a similar business with a better website.

6. Negative Reviews: Word gets around easily online, especially via reviews. If someone has a difficult time on your website, there is a good chance that this information will be shared with others. Most people don’t return to a difficult website, including, in some instances, current customers.

Your website is (or should be) at the heart of your online presence, so if you are struggling with any of these elements request our free website review. We’ll tell you exactly what your visitors see as well as what the search engines see – so you can get things corrected.

Book Recommendation – Don’t Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition)

People use the Internet and your website differently than you might expect. The more you understand how they use your site and what they hope to find, learn, and gain the easier it will be to not only provide them with an exceptional experience but also to guide them to take action and to achieve your business goals.

Content and navigation go hand in hand. Steve Krug is considered the king of usability, intuitive navigation and information design. 14 years ago he published Don’t Make Me Think which became a go-to guide and necessary resource for website designers and business owners. He’s recently released an updated version.

It takes a user-friendly common sense approach to helping you create the content that your users want, need, and actually pay attention to. From guiding principles to things you must get right, Krug helps readers take it step by step.

Says Krug, Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology. And while technology often changes quickly, people change very slowly. Direct Link for Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a great addition to any entrepreneur’s bookshelf and it’s the perfect companion to Krug’s usability testing handbook Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) – 

Local Search Engine Optimization: 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes on Small Business Websites

ooopsGuest Post by Phil Singleton

Most small businesses understand that an effective SEO strategy must be implemented in order for the company website to rank highly in Google for targeted search terms, however most fall short of what could be accomplished if a few mistakes were avoided.  If you are a small business owner, you can learn from these mistakes and make your website more attractive to both search engines (in particular Google) and people.

Here are the 5 biggest local SEO mistakes small businesses make on their websites:

  1. Not optimizing page titles and meta descriptions. While it’s true Google doesn’t pay much attention to meta keyword tags today, optimized page titles are critical.  In fact, the 70 characters in the browser title are some of the most important text on your entire website.  In addition, the first characters in the page titles have the most “weight,” so it’s important to use text that accurately describe what you do and where you do it (i.e., city) rather than non-descript text like “home” or “welcome.”The meta description does not directly affect search engine optimization, however it is often what is listed for your website on the SERPs, or search engine results pages.  How compelling the description is will directly impact how many people click on your website, or your “click through rate.”  This IS one of the most important organic ranking factors of the 200 or so Google uses in ranking websites.
  1. Not including optimized static introductory text on your website’s home page. While it doesn’t have to be lengthy (only about 200 words or so), a paragraph or two of optimized content on your home page is important.  It gives search engines (and readers) a brief overview of your products/services, the market you serve, experience, years in the industry, etc.  Keep it brief, but optimize lightly for key search terms.
  1. Not adding a blog feed that pumps fresh content onto your home page. Providing fresh content on a regular basis is critical in SEO for small businesses. While it may seem impossible to update the pages of your website frequently, keeping your home page fresh can be accomplished by feeding your latest blog articles to your home page.  If you add a new blog post every week or two (or even more often, if possible), an excerpt of the most recent posts on your home page will help keep the content fresh.  Keep in mind that content should be valuable and engaging to the reader.
  1. Improper social media integration. Today, social media is a vital component of every SEO campaign, whether for corporations or small businesses.  Embedding a Google+ badge, Facebook “like” box, Facebook and Google+ “like” and “plus” buttons, and other social media and article sharing buttons makes it possible for visitors of your blog to share the content they like with others and “vote” for your content in the form of a like or plus.  All of these social “signals” are picked up by Google, which helps in search engine ranking.  In Google’s eyes, if your content gets “liked,” “plussed,” and “shared” frequently, it must be of high quality and interest to others!
  1. Not using basic search engine friendly coding. Using a WordPress framework and installing an SEO plugin are great for starters, but just the tip of the iceberg.  Unfortunately, there is a substantial amount of “uncorked” SEO value on many small business websites, simply because these sites lack the structure/coding to achieve their full search engine potential and release the true SEO value into the Internet.  Most business owners are not educated in the “background” coding and structure of a website, so it’s a job best left to the professionals.  Moz provides a great checklist with their Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet.

Search engine optimization is no doubt complex, but there are some simple things you can do to make your small business website more search engine friendly, and things to avoid before spending money on a new website.  Are you making any of the SEO mistakes mentioned above?  A few small changes can make all of the difference in the success your business experiences online.

Phil SingeltonAbout the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of KCSeoPro.com, a full-service online marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other Internet marketing services, and KCWebdesigner.com, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications.  Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant and provides small businesses in Kansas City with marketing products and services at KCMarketingAgency.com.

 

Looking into the Crystal Ball – Marketing Trends 2015 [Infographic]

So, a new year is upon us and we have decided to look into the crystal ball and predict what some of the big marketing trends for 2015 will be. We will spend some time to explore each of these in more detail in future posts, but for now here is a quick overview of what we think is coming in 2015. We’d love your comments, so feel free to add them below.

infographicstatic

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Five Website Design Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Website mistakes

Fix your website mistakes!. Photo courtesy of Iain Farrell(CC No Derivatives)

Do-it-yourself website design options are everywhere, and so are website design companies.  You can even design your own website for free, if you so desire, on many different site builders.  Considering the many options that exist, it’s completely understandable that small business owners often feel a sense of confusion when it comes to building a website.  While there are many extremely desirable elements to website design, there are also some things you should avoid.  Here are five website design mistakes you should be careful never to make.

Mistake #5:  Using PDF Files Instead of Pages

It might be tempting to scan existing documents into pdf format and upload them onto your website.  Give visitors a link to click, and up comes your pdf. Easy, right?  Wrong!  People hate finding pdf’s on websites.  They take a long time to load, and they can be hard to read.  Take the time to create a new page that contains the pertinent information.  You can build links and backlinks, add great photos, and make your page a pleasure to visit instead of an irritation.  Annoyed visitors leave a site and look for a better one – so skip the pdf’s.

Mistake #4:  Using “Bookish” Text

People want information fast.  They want to scan your site and see whether you have what they are looking for.  So:

  • Do not make your site look like the page of a book.  Keep it interesting.
  • Use photos and vary the text size to highlight different areas of your page.
  • Use bulleted lists and quick paragraphs with headers that tell the visitor what they’re going to find under that heading.
  • Make your site interactive.  The more fun people have when they visit your site, the more successful it will be.

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Mistake #3:  Building a Flashy Site That Is Too Complicated For Users To Navigate

You can have the most beautiful looking website in the world, but without elements that are properly built using proven website design techniques, your site will be just more pretty pictures – and the internet is full of those!  People want to go to a site, find what they are looking for, and leave.  The better and faster the internet gets, the faster people expect sites to work.

Mistake #2:  Preventing Smartphone Users from a Rich Site Experience

This is a relatively new mistake in website design, and if you’ve got a website now, it’s worth pulling it up on your phone right now.  Can people who surf the web on their iPhone, Android, or other smartphone really see your site?  Can they find what they’re looking for, and navigate well, without pinching and expanding?  If not, your site needs first aid. Fast. 

Mistake #1:  Not Hiring a Professional to Handle Website Design

You might want to help your buddy who is learning about website design build his portfolio by building you a website, and while that might be OK if he has some experienced guidance, it also might ruin your chances of ending up with a great site that is both user friendly and high ranking. 

These days, website design is about a lot more than looking good.  Hire a professional, and your site will do exactly what you need it to – gain you business, and increase your bottom line.

There you have it – 5 Website Design Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make. If you feel like you are not sure where to turn to next for help, give us a shout. We can analyze your site and make some recommendations for free. If you need help getting those recommendations accomplished we can help you as well.