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Is your Web Designer LEGIT?

When it comes to the World Wide Web and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners can be a little naive about how it all works.

There are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media to name just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites can be a big investment and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in other industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, a little research will guide you to a reputable website design business.

Ask Around

Take a look at the websites of businesses in your immediate network (probably not your competitors). If possible, ask the business owners some key questions about their sites:

  • Who was their designer?
  • Who they would recommend and why?
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

Check for generic design Themes

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a generic template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and may have been used thousands of times. Working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check for generic templates:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If that theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

A website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table from potential clients and digging a big hole in your marketing budget.

SEO Checklist for Site Owners

Website owners often think that SEO factors such as keywords, title tags and descriptions are the key to ranking well in Google.

While they are still important, the Google algorithm has evolved and the practice of optimising just these parts of a web page are long gone – the “GoogleBot” now delves deeper into the context of a page and how your site interlinks with other sites on the World Wide Web. 

This checklist has been created to help site owners improve their page content in the eyes of the search engines. It also includes tips to improve vital external SEO factors as well.

#1 Keywords & Topics

Before any work starts on improving the SEO of your page content, spend a few minutes and write down the words and phrases your prospective customers might use to find your website. You may need to conduct research with your target audience to determine what they are looking for in your business.

#2 Content

Check that your written content has been created specifically for the target audience of the chosen topic or information. It needs to be relevant and consistent throughout the page – Google will pick up on your keywords and titles, checking these closely against the content you have written.  

#3 Page Title

The main title of each page on your site needs be relevant to the content and act as a unique tag for search engines. It should be a maximum of 60 characters and, if possible, contain the keywords that are most pertinent to the page topic.

The same rules apply for any sub-headings you may have throughout your content.

#4 Body Copy

Without over-obsessing on the usage of key words, check through the content on each of your pages to ensure that there is a scattering of the words that you anticipate your target audience will be using in their searches. With that in mind, ensure that your content still reads fluidly and makes sense without too much “jargon”.

#5 Tag every Image

Search engines can’t “see” images on your website. As a result, they can’t be used for search algorithm purposes unless they have been tagged with an Alt Attribute. These attributes are the small text boxes that you often see when you float your cursor over an image on a web page.

The Alt text helps the search engines understand what an image is about. These tags are a perfect way to add more keywords into a “hidden” part of your web page content.

#6 Inbound Links

Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are a great way for your website to gain attention and credibility with Google and other search engines. When established and authoritative websites link to your small business site, you automatically “inherit” some of their importance in the eyes of Google.

How do you get these other sites to link to your site? Create great content that people naturally want to link to and let them know about it. You can also look to foster quality links through natural business connections and networking opportunities.

Reciprocal links are also a great way to help each other out – “You link to me and I’ll link back to you.”

#7 Social Media and Online Directories

For this step, head to Google and type in your business name. If your business has been around for a while, you’ll see several search results from directories such as Yellow Pages and TripAdvisor, etc. Click on each and register your website address – in some cases, you may need to create a login. Each one that you add your address to could potentially become a backlink to your site.

Check that your business’ social media platforms have the site address listed as well. This ensures    that, if your target customer finds your social media first, they’ll still end up on your website.

Conclusion

While the list above is by no means comprehensive, by carrying out each of the steps shown, you will be placing your website in a good position to be found by Google and ranked accordingly. Tweaks to SEO are inevitable to improve your ranking over time and it is suggested that you check your search position every week to determine what SEO changes need to be made.

Social Media for your Small Business in 2019

On any given day, it has been estimated that 3.2 billion people in the world access social media of some kind. From Facebook to Twitter through to Instagram and LinkedIn, social media seems to permeate every aspect of our lives.

Most small businesses have come to the realisation that they need to be present on at last one or two platforms – but which are the best for your business in 2019?

To determine this, let’s take a brief look at five key players in the social media world that could help you grow your business online.

Facebook

The granddaddy of social medias, Facebook has long been the benchmark that other platforms aspire to. Unsurprisingly, with over 2 billion active users every month**, it is still the most widely used social media in the world.

For small business, Facebook is perfect for growing a community around your products and services in addition to creating brand awareness. When used effectively, a Facebook presence will make a notable difference in reaching your online marketing goals.

In addition, Facebook’s advertising portal (through which they make most of their profits) is easily the best established of any social media platform.

Instagram

Now part of the Facebook family, Instagram started life in 2010 as an online community where users could share images with their followers. Boosted by the rapid rise of smart phone usage throughout this decade, Instagram is used today by models, actors and numerous “influencers” across the world.

A perfect place for visual marketing, small business can utilise the high levels of engagement on Instagram to connect with a target audience. Its users follow accounts that they are genuinely interested which results in a high visibility of your posts.

As of 2019, it is estimated that one in three Australians use Instagram on a regular basis ***.

LinkedIn

Not quite as popular as the big two, the “Facebook for Business” still has an impressive audience of nearly eight million Australians however only around four million log in to their account regularly****.

Statistically, LinkedIn is the second most popular social media site, after Facebook, for medium to large businesses. It’s less popular with small businesses, who are more likely to utilise the crowd power of Facebook and Instagram.

For businesses that offer Business to Business (B2B) services, LinkedIn is perfect for creating online networks of professionals across industries.

Twitter

Once the darling of the #hashtag world, Twitter’s reach into the online world has dwindled over the past five years. It currently ranks in 9th place and is most popular with users in their 30’s.

In professional circles, Twitter is still a great source for real-time commentary on current affairs. With an increase in tweet length (140 characters to 240) and a recent move to allow imagery, the Twitter platform may be one to watch as it evolves to compete with other social media.

YouTube

Thanks to an overabundance of funny cat videos, YouTube is often forgotten as a serious social media contender. With strong content, the online video platform is perfect for engaging an audience with entertaining and interesting information about small business goods and services.

With a staggering one in every two Australians using YouTube every day ***, it is a great place to visually demonstrate the goods and services your small business has to offer.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that despite all the hard work you do on social media to grow your audience, you are “building your house on borrowed land” – it could be all gone tomorrow – just like Google+.

To avoid placing all your eggs in the one basket, use social media as part of your marketing funnel with your business website as the central hub. Depending on your host (users of Wix or Squarespace beware), your website is the one place on the internet that you can truly control. Use Facebook, Instagram and other social media to develop awareness of your business and nurture a following that you can direct towards sales and services on your small business website.

* https://wearesocial.com/blog/2019/01/digital-2019-global-internet-use-accelerates

** https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

*** https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics/

**** https://mediaaccess.org.au/web/social-media/linkedin

Five things you need to know about Google and your new website.

You’ve got a brand-new website for your small business. The imagery is uploaded, social media links are sorted, text content written and formatted – all on display through your custom site design from your awesome web developer.

But no-one can find it. Typing the business name into Google shows nothing in the search results – even on page 10. Why isn’t your site showing up on Google?

The simple answer is that Google is entirely separate from your website and will not find it until you take action and make them pay attention.

Here’s five things you need know about Google and your new website:

1. Your site will not automatically appear on Google.

Google needs to be notified that your site exists so that they can send the “Googlebot” to check it out. Until this happens, your site lives in a bubble and any visitors will need to physically type in the domain name to get to the right address.

Solution: See #2 below…

2. “Google My Business” is the best way to gain fast attention.

Ever wondered how some businesses get their information to show in the righthand box in Google search results? It’s done via the “Google My Business” website and its free for all businesses. It’s also a great way of registering your new website address and nudging the “Googlebot” into action.

Solution: Visit https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/ and register your business and website.

3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not optional.

Google loves organisation and the best thing you can do on your site is to ensure that you have the basics of SEO ready for Google to crawl through. Fortunately, if you are using the WordPress framework, there are plugins that will walk you through the process of SEO setup to ensure that the “Googlebot” finds what it needs to.

Solution: Install either the Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO plugins on your website. The basic versions are free with premium options available.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
https://en-au.wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

4. Sharing Links is the secret ingredient to search ranking success.

To get noticed even faster, share your website link around with other businesses already established online. By setting up reciprocal links* with other businesses in related industries, you will make both sites stronger in the eyes of Google. Added bonus: the “Googlebot” already visits these sites on a regular basis and as they crawl through them, they may even pick up your linked site address and add it automatically to their list of sites to visit.

Solution: Link up with your suppliers, stockists and anyone related to your industries (though maybe not your competitors). * You link with me and I’ll link back to you…

5. Google is in control – not you.

The final thing to know about Google and your website – they are in control. Google determines how long it takes before the “Googlebot” initially visits your website and how often it comes back. Their software technicians are always tweaking the search algorithm so what may have worked last week for SEO, may not work this week.

Solution: Sign up for Google Analytics and monitor your search results regularly. If your search ranking starts to decline, you will need to take action. Luckily the SEO plugins in #3 should keep abreast of any changes and let you know what needs to be done to reach the top. https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/

Conclusion

Don’t expect that your new site will appear immediately on page one of the Google search results, even after applying the solutions above. You will need to carefully monitor and constantly tweak your site in order to reach the top. Even as your site gets older and grows a larger audience, SEO is an ongoing practice that will be necessary for the lifetime of your site.

Tropical Coast Web Design