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Your business needs a Website – why not do it yourself?

I love YouTube and its intuitive advertisement system – I believe it is a very clever way to target a certain demographic with the correct type of ad. Only problem is that I am always targeted with DIY website builder advertisements and one in particular is driving me crazy atm. It starts with the simple statement (I won’t give away the business name) – “You need a Website – Why not do it yourself?”

Where do I start to answer that question?

These days, there are literally hundreds of online website builders that offer free or supposedly cheap site design for business owners who want to create their online presence. Sign up, choose a template, chuck in some content and imagery and away you go. But as I have said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are numerous pitfalls and traps related with using these websites that the casual user may not see. If you have bigger plans than just creating a quick site, such as generating traffic, expanding your business and generating profits – you must stay well away from these quickie sites.

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

There’s to a site than meets the eye. Not only does a website have to look good, it has to “act” in a certain way in order to drive customers into making a purchase or acquiring your services. That’s after they find you in the first place!

A good website has search engine optimisation, backup facilities, content management system, call to actions and many other components planned individually to suit your particular business and integrated into the design from day one. There is absolutely no way that an online builder knows (or even cares) what your business needs. This is what a real web designer comes in handy!

2. You don’t want the same site as everyone else – you want your own!

Using an online site builder involves using a template design – a pre-designed layout which you customise with your logo and content. If you are lucky, you may even be able to alter the theme colours – to a pre-set range of options, of course.

What this invariably means is there is potential for your site to look exactly the same as dozens of others. Chances are, if you liked a particular template, so did hundreds of small business owners around the globe. You will definitely not have that individual look that should define your site from all the others.

C’mon – your business should be as individual as you are – and so should your website.

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

“Never build your house on someone else’s land.” If you are ever tempted to go with an online site builder (paid subscriber or free), be very aware of the small print in the “Terms and Conditions.” The service provider, whoever that may be, reserves the right to remove any site at their own discretion, even if there is no legal reason for doing so.

That right!

The online site builder can go belly up overnight or just decide they don’t like you and your precious site is history. Add to that, the headquarters may be in Israel and your legal rights don’t have any weight at all there.

4. We actually care about your site and how it works for you.

There is absolutely no connection between your business and the online site builders during any stage of the process. You never speak to anyone and email is the only way to communicate. Even then, you will probably “converse” with a different service centre controller each time.

When you choose an actual web designer, we talk to you throughout the design of your website. We check that our decisions are on the mark and ensure that you are entirely happy with the results. This is essential to create a site that works specifically for your business.

On top of this, we need to ensure that your site is the best it can be because the success of our own business relies on “happy” customers. If you aren’t happy with the end results, you probably won’t refer us onto anyone and you definitely won’t give us a shining testimonial. That’s not good for business.

5. Your site should be your own – not covered with advertisements for other businesses.

If you opt for the free version of most online site builders, you will end up with a big banner ad somewhere on your site stating that “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH …. – BUILD YOUR OWN FOR FREE!”

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

As web designers, Rusty Mango puts its name at the bottom of websites that we build because we are proud of what we do. It also tends to help a little built with your site’s SEO. But we don’t put something there to scream out “GET US TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!” – That’s just rude.

Taking all of the above into account, the reality is that if you want your website done right, don’t do it yourself. With the precious time that you spend learning the system, creating the site and populating it with content, the end result is still a site that just doesn’t work. That’s time you could be spending more effectively working on your business, making sales and providing service to your customers.

Instead spend a little time finding a web designer that produces the type of work that you want (check their portfolio) and you feel comfortable working with to build and maintain your website. This will prove to be a much better investment in the long run.

10 Effective Ways to create Awareness of Your Business (and your website)

In all small business, it is enormously important to make sure that your target audience is aware of your services and products whenever they need them. Ideally, they will think of your business automatically when the need arises. This is achievable when a lead generation process is used in conjunction with a strategic sale funnel.

The moment where a customer becomes aware of your business and what it has to offer, the lead generation process begins to take place. All leads created here are vitally important as they “pull” the customer into your system for nurturing further down your sales funnel.

To kick things off and make your prospective customers aware of what you have, here’s ten effective “tools” that you can use:

Facebook Ads

Advertising on the #1 social media platform, Facebook, is great for targeting the exact audience you want as you can use the Facebook Ad tool to select the personal traits and interests of potential customers. With a budgeting level that you specify, it is also cost effective for any growing business.

Networking

Build trust and awareness of your business by joining your local Chamber of Commerce, offering your services to non-profit organisations and participating in community groups such as Rotary and Lions. Get your name out there!

Traditional Advertising – Radio and Print

If your target audience is likely to read your local newspapers and listen to local radio, don’t hesitate to use these traditional methods to promote your brand. Be sure to track any results (from marketing point to customer) to ensure that your marketing budget is not being wasted.

Social Media

Be visible on at least two social media platforms to cast a broad net over your target audience online. As a guide, Facebook is great for “business to consumer” promotions, LinkedIn works for “Business To Business” awareness and Instagram (owned by Facebook) is emerging as a powerful tool for all audience levels.

Content Marketing

The most authoritative way to establish trust and industry leadership is through the creation of powerful content for your website. Blog posts, videos, podcasts and demonstrations can quickly prove that you know your industry and what your clientele needs from you.

Direct Mail

If you can determine a specific market that is screaming out for your services or products, why not physically contact them with a direct mail campaign, specifically designed for that market alone.

Good SEO on Website

Make your potential customers aware of your business through the application of good SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practices on your website. Ensure that you are “loved” by Google through using effective key words and descriptions on your site along with fresh content and quality inbound links.

Google AdWords

Along with effective SEO practices, you can also engage Google with a paid, structured AdWords campaign designed to target your specific customer demographic.

Partnerships

Partnership programs work with businesses that complement each other and can be done in a very subtle, effective way. For example, a mechanic, upon the completion of a routine service, could leave a small promotion flyer on the dashboard from the local Car Detailer. The detailer could do the exact same in return.

Referral Programs

Join with other local businesses to create a referral program where businesses refer their client base onto the services of others in return for discounts or other reciprocal arrangements.

In addition to these ten tips, there are literally dozens of different tools that you can use to make your target audience aware of your business and its products/services. The trick is to determine which methods are going to be the most effective in gaining the attention of your ideal client and utilising them to your advantage on a consistent basis.

Five Tips to get your new site noticed by Google

A common misconception that I come across with new clients, launching their very first site, is that websites instantly appear on Google after the launch.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case – it can take up to two weeks or more for your site to appear anywhere in the search rankings. Google dictates this “flexible” timeline. Once notified of the new site’s existence, the “GoogleBots” need time to visit and “run” it through their search algorithm which determines where the site will appear in rankings. Luckily, there are a few small things that you can do to speed up the process and make your site “Googlebot-friendly” and all of them can be done by you – the website owner.

#1 – Create a site map

In short, a site map makes your website more accessible for the GoogleBots that “crawl” the web. A small file that sits on your server, the map informs search engines which pages are available for crawling and provides them with a simple “roadmap” of how the pages are structured.

To make a site map for your WordPress site, download and install the Google XML Sitemap plugin. Once installed, the plugin will automatically create a site map that is readily available to any bots from any search engine – with no more input required from you.

#2 – Use an SEO* plugin

Another tip for those website owners using the WordPress framework is to download and install either the All-in-One SEO or Yoast SEO plugins. These plugins are designed specifically to set up your website for search engines.

They allow you to tweak the keywords, titles and content of your site and, most importantly, the plugins will let you know where your site needs attention in regard to SEO. They also help with linkages between your site and your social media presences (Facebook, etc.)

* Search Engine Optimisation

#3 – Sign up with Google Search Console

Having your site registered with Google Search Console is a must. Not only do the SEO plugins above insist on it, registration is also the fastest way to get Google to notice your site!

The Console helps website owners monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their site’s presence in Google Search results. With the provided tools, a site owner can also request the re-indexing of new or updated content as the site grows – keeping their Google listing fresh and up to date!

#4 – Create inbound and outbound links

One of the simplest ways to win favour with Google is to have your website address shared and displayed on established websites. These older sites are already listed with Google and as the GoogleBots regularly visit them, they will pick up the new site address when they next sweep through. This prompts Google to “check out” the new site.

In return, the new site should link back to the established website. This is known as a reciprocal link.

#5 – Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free online service offered by Google that gives you insights into how site visitors find and use your website. It allows you to track many important statistics and, being from the search giant themselves, it can help pinpoint where your site is successful in terms of search rankings and where it isn’t.

Using the data provided from Google Analytics, you will be able to target your site visitors with what they want, evaluate the traffic flowing through your website and identify which content is most popular with visitors. You will also be able to view the bounce rate of your site to see if what you are offering is keeping your site visitors interested.

This is all valuable that you can use to make adjustments and climb the all-important search rankings.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it is Google that determines when and where your site will appear in search results. The five tips above will give you back some of the control and allow you to “tinker” with the SEO options for your site. With time, patience and many minor adjustments, you should gradually start to see improvements in your rankings as your site starts “clawing” its way onto page one of search results – which is the ultimate goal.

Google hates my website!

How to get some “love” from the search giant…

Getting a website for your business is only part of the challenge in creating an online presence. But what if nobody is finding that website? No visitors – no point having a site in the first place. Google is the king when it comes to online search and if your site isn’t visible in their search rankings, then your site is invisible.

But what if you have submitted your site to Google, and nothing happens? Or, just as bad, what if your website is appearing on page 22 of search results? No-one is going to find you.

Technically, despite the title of this blog, Google can’t hate your website. It may not like some of your practices, the content you are delivering or how you are presenting your information to your visitors. These are some of the factors that can lead to poor search rankings.

But luckily, there are some simple measures that you can apply to your site to get some of that Google “love”:

1. Use keywords intelligently

Keywords have always been regarded as the main part of Google’s search algorithm*. Pre-2010 websites used to be “stuffed” with keywords to get a good result in search listings.

Try that now and you may find your site blacklisted. In 2019, Google likes the keywords to be integrated with the content that it represents.

TIP: To implement keywords on your site:
– Write down a list of the terms that people may use to find what you are offering.
– Simply insert those terms into the relevant parts of your website’s text. Ensure that the content still reads correctly and don’t try to “squeeze” every single term onto every single page.

2. Ensure your site is “mobile friendly”

If your site isn’t displaying properly on a mobile device then you are not only missing out on site visitors, you are also risking a penalty from Google.
Back in 2015, Google stated that “that comparable mobile sites will rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites in mobile search results.”

TIP: Don’t lost position – if your site is not mobile, get in touch with your web developer today.

3. Create a Site Map

Google uses web crawlers known as Googlebots to “crawl” through websites across the internet and these bots love a bit of direction. That is why having a site map integrated into your website is very important.

This map tells the bot how to intelligently move through your site. It also tells the search engine where the content is on your site and when it was last updated.
TIP: If your site is built on WordPress (all ours are), you can easily add a site map with a plugin like Google XML Sitemaps.

4. Deliver content with value

Google doesn’t actually read the content of your website. It observes the number of people that are searching for you, whether they go to your site, how long they stay, whether they dig into your site, etc.

Using this information, Google surmises whether your site visitors are finding what they are looking for and if it is worth viewing.

TIP: Read through your site content and make sure it is all “on point”. If it doesn’t benefit your site visitor, then it may not be benefiting you through Google.

5. Secure your site

Another area where Google enforcing change is the security of websites across the internet. An insecure site is a prime target for hackers and Google doesn’t want to lead any of its users into a dangerous site.

TIP: All sites must have a security certificate (SSL) installed at the server level to keep Google happy. This encrypts data traveling between the server and your visitor’s computer/device. To show site visitors that your site is secure, a security certificate displays a small padlock in the address bar of all browsers and adds https:// to the start of the web address.

Conclusion

If your business needs any assistance with implementing the various tips above to your website, please get in touch with the team at Tropical Coast Web Design. We’d be happy to help you get some Google love…

* The Google search algorithm is known as PageRank (named after Larry Page – one of the founders of Google). It is used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results.

Five Security Fixes your site needs right now!

Currently, there are over 1.6 billion websites on the WWW and your business website is just one of them. “There’s safety in numbers” you might say when talking about your site’s security – “why would anyone target me?”

HackerIt’s important to know that Cyber Criminals and Spammers don’t physically trawl the web, using “bots” * instead to scour millions of sites every day. Looking for ways to hack into systems, they don’t care who you are or what your site is. If these bots find a weakness or backdoor to your site, you may be in trouble.

*specially coded programs

Benjamin Franklin wisely said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so here’s five site security fixes that you can implement today:

#1 – Get a Security Certificate for your site.

A security (SSL) certificate is an addition to your website server* Google that creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser by confirming the site’s legitimacy.

If your site doesn’t have one, you risk being penalised by Google (and other search engines) with a drop in your search ranking. In addition, site visitors may be receiving warnings form their browsers that your site is “not secure”.

Luckily, an SSL certificate is quick to install on most web servers. Simply contact your service provider and ask for a certificate to be installed.

* the place where your site’s files live on the internet.

#2 – SPAM Controls

You would have to be living on another planet to not have been the recipient of SPAM emails. It is the bane of every single inbox on the planet. Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to stop SPAM completely but there are several things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Make sure that your online forms are all guarded by Google’s new ReCaptcha protocol. It’s invisible and it works.
  • Update all plugins on your site to their latest versions whenever new versions are released.
  • Check that your web server has effective SPAM filters at its core level.

#3 – Plugin Updates

As mentioned above, if your site uses plugins for any of its core functions, make sure that you update them whenever a new release becomes available. If your site is built on the WordPress framework, this includes the core as well.

Hackers continually look for ways into vulnerable servers and will use any weakness to break their way into your site. An out of date plugin (or WordPress version) on your site could be the weak link they are looking for.

#4 – Latest Version of PHP

PHP is a programming language used in the development of many modern website and, just like plugins, there are new versions of PHP released on a regular basis. These updates are not only for closing any security vulnerabilities but also includes adding new functionalities to the language that can then be used for new functions on your website.

As with plugins, you can easily keep your PHP version up to date (usually via your web server’s Control Panel).

#5 – Install WordFence

If you haven’t guessed by now, WordPress is my website framework of choice for developing. One of the reasons for this is the amazing range of plugins that add further functionality to the basic core of the framework.

One of these is the excellent security plugin Wordfence. Wordfence provides a range of features and options for site owners that help protect their sites from hacking. On top of this, Wordfence provides monitoring of the other components in a site and notifies, via email, when action needs to be taken.

There are two versions of Wordfence, a free version which provides basic protection as outlined above, and a premium version which includes top level protection for your site.

Wordfence is a must for any site built using WordPress.

Conclusion

Nearly all the security measures outlined here can be implemented by a regular site owner with access to their site’s “backend”. However, if you require assistance at any time bolstering the security of your website, please get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and we will take care it for you – hassle free.

Five Steps to reboot your Business Mojo

Loss of business mojo happens to all of us from time to time. As business owners, it can sometimes be hard to maintain enthusiasm and drive all the time towards our work.

Five Steps to reboot your Business MojoSometimes it feels like we have lost our motivation and are just going through the motions in order to get things done. We feel no real urge to seek out and try new things (like marketing tactics). If this sounds familiar to you, then maybe your Business Mojo might just need a reboot!

If you are looking for some help so get things going again, here five quick tips that I personally have found useful to get inspired and back on track.

1. Get out and Exercise!

This might seem a bit of a strange tip in a business and marketing blog, however I find my focus for the day is sharper after some form of morning exercise. A simple 30 minute walk or jog can do the trick and the best thing is you can kill two birds with one stone by exercising to some…

2. Podcasts!

There are literally thousands to choose from. The best way to find the podcasts bested suited to you is to have a look on iTunes (for the Apple fans) and BeyondPod (for the Android users among us). Podcast One is another source for all kinds of podcasts from all types of genres.

A great podcast can expose you to a world outside the business that you generally work in and, just by listening to some success stories and the experiences of others, you might just find that missing spark you are looking for.

3. Reading

Once again, for those seeking external motivation from the best in the business, there is an abundance of great books that can get you inspired. Several great books that I can whole-heartedly recommend include:

  • Pour your heart into it – The Starbucks Story by Howard Schultz
  • Like a Virgin by Richard Branson
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  • Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

I must confess that I have read a couple of these more than once just to try and squeeze every possible gem out of them! They are all written by people who have created their own huge success stories and it help me to think – “there’s nothing to stop me being one too!”

4. Talk to other like-minded business people.

Seeking and talking biz with like-minded business owners can be a very powerful experience. But first you need to seek out an appropriate network. You could join your local Chamber of Commerce, start your own networking group or just talk to friends who work in similar industries (or maybe completely different). If you feel a little isolated and don’t know where to start, get online and join a forum.

5. Sit back and reflect

Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day of our businesses and we lose sight of what we have achieved and how far we have come. Take some time out and think about when you started your business. What were your goals? Why did you start?

Look at your past achievements and the work you have done. I love to go back and look at sites that I created 10 years ago and see just how bad they are! Of course, they didn’t look too bad back then but the progress since has made all of them look positively antiquated.

Guaranteed, if you look at the progress and successes of your business from where you have come from, you will start to see a clearer way forward and gain some of the motivation you think you have lost. You haven’t lost it – it’s still there, just hidden from view.

Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

In small towns across North Queensland (and elsewhere I’m sure), there is evidence of an economic downturn on every main street.

Online StoresMany small shop fronts are sitting empty with no real outlook to opening again anytime soon. The factors behind this situation are many and varied but one of the most common blames is put directly onto the rise of online shopping.

If your business sells products of any shape or form, whether they are toasters, cars or even houses, there is absolutely no reason why you should miss out on a cut of the market by not having your very own ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge conglomerate with hundreds of stores nationwide or the local dress shop marketing your own fashions, everyone can have a slice of the pie if they are clever and utilise the power of the web.

There is a huge recompense to having an online store that most business owners don’t recognise, and these advantages can’t be achieved through a regular bricks and mortar store.

An online store has no landlord!

Not a single cent is paid in rent for your online store. The only costs you will incur, other than the original design of your site, is the monthly/yearly charge for your web server, the domain name and charges from outside agencies such as PayPal and/or your bank.

When you compare this to the cost of leasing a shop, you can guess who comes out in front. Talking to local business owners in my home town has shown me that the cost of a lease is one of the biggest factors forcing businesses to close. There’s not enough custom through the front door to warrant the outlay. No such problem with an online shop.

Levels the playing field with the Big Guys

When you operate an online store, you can pretend to be as big or small as you want. Many small online operators like to push the “smaller” operation approach as this can help to give you that personal touch missing from one of the larger stores. However, stores like Harvey Norman are trying to cash in on this notion by utilising a chat system that pops up at the bottom of the shop screen. Once again, the small business owner can compete with this through the use of a very simple plug in like ClickDesk or LiveChat.

Open for Business 24/7

An online store means that you can make a sale – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when you are asleep, your site can be making for you. Imagine logging on at work each morning (during the business week, of course) and seeing a whole backlog of purchases that were made and paid for even while the physical offices of your business were shut! The advantages of this should be whole apparent – you can’t do this with a bricks and mortar store. Once again, you can compete with the big guys – on their level.

Customer Interaction

An Ecommerce store can also be integrated with a healthy Social Media campaign allowing the store to “converse” with customers and potential customers in a friendly environment. Any problems or questions about products and services can be solved with no awkward or sometimes aggravated face to face contact. Tips and tricks can be passed on almost immediately to patrons with no wait time (depending on the level of customer service available) – business owners can answer issues from the luxury of their armchairs at home if they want.

An ideal example of this customer interaction can be seen in full use by Blackmilk Clothing on both their Facebook pages and website. Happy customers can be seen happily conversing with the Blackmilk team and showing off their latest purchases on the pages of the site. In return, the Blackmilk team gets instant feedback and direction, straight from the people wearing their gear.

Final Note

An online store can add an extra line of revenue to a business and it doesn’t even have to be the end of the physical shop front. Caravans Plus in Queanbeyan operate both with an offer in their ecommerce checkout that allows customers to order online and pickup in person, a perfect setup for the grey nomad travelling through that part of the world. No freight!

If you are interested in creating an online store, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and have a chat about what is possible for your business. We can create ecommerce stores for all types of businesses, large and small.

 

“Be x Do = Have” – A Simple Algorithm for Website Success

The classic life algorithm “BE x DO = HAVE” has probably appeared in countless blog posts before. But who has sat down and worked out their Website strategy using this simple mathematical problem as a basis?

BE x DO = HAVEI have known of Brad Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH, since he was a Senior leader at my high school in Brisbane and have watched his business coaching “empire” grow with interest. Whilst not a great fan of his business tactics and holding no affiliation to his brand, I have found nuggets of very useful information and advice in his YouTube videos. On his own site, Brad used to have a link to a free video seminar from his “Business is Booming” tour. In the three-hour long video, Brad took the audience through the various reasons why businesses should keep striving through the global financial crisis which was in full swing at the time. I spent a couple of nights watching the video and taking notes so that I could apply them to my own work at Tropical Coast Web Design.

One of the points that Brad raised in the video is the paradigm “BE x DO = HAVE”. Using an example from the video, a simple use of the math could be “BE Awesome x DO Awesome = HAVE Awesome”. Pretty straight forward until you realise that most people live this particular algorithm backwards, thinking that they must HAVE something before they can BE something.

I got to thinking to thinking – if this can be so easily applied to one’s life, can it be applied to the success of your Website? It may not be as simple as Brad Sugar’s application but read on…

If you are a business supplying a product or a service, the result of creating your Website must be to “HAVE more business”. That’s the final desired result. How do we get there?

The first part of the algorithm is not about the Website – it’s about your business. To effectively use a Website to generate business, you must have a product or service that would benefit from online sales. The local doctor probably doesn’t need a Website to sell his services. On the other hand, your local florist could make a lot more sales simply by getting online. You need to research your market and find out what your clients and potential clients want.

BE a worthy online business.

Once you have done the research on your clients, now comes the hard part. Do you have site that will satisfy their requirements? Sit down with your web designer and plan out a strategy – Who is your target market? How do they shop? What do they look for first in a site? What is their preferred method for purchasing? Will the aesthetics of the site appeal to them? How do we get them to keep coming back? This is where a good relationship with your web designer is very important. They need to understand where you are coming from and what you hope to achieve with your site.

DO create a site that works for you.

However, working with your web designer is only half the task. Once the reigns of your site have been handed over to you, there is still a lot of work to do. Start by reading back through our blog archive. There are literally dozens of tips that will help you to develop and continue to grow a site that works for you rather than sitting stagnant on the world wide web. If the site is not working for you, it’s not worth having – so turn it around!

Finally, keeping those two elements (BE and DO) in mind throughout the whole process, you can arrive at the desired result.

BE a worthy online business x DO create a site that works for you = HAVE more business.

This may be a little different to the way that Brad Sugars describes it, but the principle is the same. It is a very simple algorithm however it makes common sense for any small business owner who wants a site that generates leads and sales.

Top Five Reasons to Avoid Wix (and similar) for your business website

Reading the title of this blog post would be enough to make even the most casual reader look up and say “Well, of course you are going to say that! You build websites for a living!”

Dont use website buildersTrue, but if you look beyond my aspirations to become your web developer of choice, there are a lot of perfectly valid reasons why you should avoid free website builders for your business or organisation. In this post, I will list a few of the most important however with a little more research, you can discover dozens more.

#5

We actually give a damn about you and your business. Might sound a little clichéd however our business is based on the success of your site. If we fail to build a site that works for you, we are not doing our job properly and you won’t hesitate to go somewhere else and you most definitely will not refer us to your networks.

A local web development cares enough about doing the job right that they will consult with you at every stage of the game plan – design, development, content, social media and SEO. On top of all this, you will have the local support you need at the end of the day if things aren’t going to plan.

The only people that wix.com, GoDaddy, Vistaprint and other online site builders care about are their owners/shareholders.

#4

Most of these website builders sell (and pride) themselves on the short time frame that it takes to create a site and get it online. Build a site in 20 minutes! Be online in less time that it takes to bake a cake. Doesn’t your business deserve a little more attention, time and effort so that you can create a worthwhile and effective online presence? A website is your business’ public face, a portal where your potential customers can come and visit 24/7 and see what you are all about. A good website that is spot-on designed for your individual brand is no doubt going to take longer than just 20 minutes!

Invest the time and you will most definitely reap the rewards.

#3

Wix.com brands each of its website with its own logo and link at the very bottom of every page – “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH WIX.COM CREATE YOUR OWN FOR FREE”. Each Tropical Coast Web Design site has our name at the bottom however we aren’t doing it for our own gain – though we are very proud of our work.

The linking between sites is very important for SEO purposes and we link to each and every one of the sites we create on our portfolio page. Having links working in both directions is great for the SEO of the sites involved. But we definitely are not doing a hard sell by having our link on your page.

#2

In cyberspace, no-one can hear you scream. That includes the boffins from Wix, Facebook or any of the online site builders. You get absolutely no personal support. If you have questions, and are very lucky, you may receive an email response but you can pretty much guarantee no phone calls.

By contracting your own designer, you have access to personal support for your website. Tried an update and crashed the site? Your designer will have you back online within the day (if you have a good one!). Need to expand your website with a minimal of hassle? Use your developer.

Don’t like the service you are getting? If you are locked into a contract with an online site builder, you can’t just jump ship. With a developer, your site can move with you.

#1

Domain names ordered through an online site builder can cause absolute nightmares should you wish to move away and build a site. A recent client contacted us to build a website that would allow her expand her business. Her previous site, built online, was inadequate for her current requirements. When we contacted her online site builder to arrange transfer of the domain name, it was discovered that her domain name was tied in some sort of contractual hell. In the end, it was simpler to register a whole new domain name (the other name will eventually expire and drop away). Not an ideal solution but a good reminder to be sure that your domain name is registered to you, not your web developer.

When it is all said and done, you should just remember the old saying – “Don’t build your home on rented land.” If you build on any of the online services, your site is essentially being constructed on borrowed land. If these services crash tomorrow and disappear forever, your site is gone too – quite often without the chance of a backup.

This applies to the new templates that you can use with your Facebook Business page. Sure it looks like your business website but don’t forget, Facebook lays claims to anything on its network and that includes your pages as well!

The alternative from online site builders should be very clear from this discussion – go and hire a trustworthy developer to design a website for you to meet your custom needs. This includes branding, imagery, content and SEO requirements. Along with all the facts presented before, contracting a professional web developer to build your site ensures that you are personally consulted along every step of the design and you own the work when it is completed.

Five Home Page “Tricks” to lower your Bounce Rate.

Information Overload = High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

Five "Tricks" to lower your Bounce Rate.In numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website. Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this I mean, displaying it all on the very first page of a website – also known as the landing page.

If you overwhelm your visitors as soon as they arrive on your site, you may find that this overload of information result in a “Bounce Rate”*. 

The key to solving this problem is to remember this simple point at all times: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) to potentially make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

1. A catching headline that includes your keywords.

If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Innisfail.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.

2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do.

Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S.* principle here.

3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right hand corner of the page.

If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both of these can be clicked/tapped.

4. Make your Call to Action very clear.

In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.

5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one).

But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Tropical Coast Web Design