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Three Steps to help get your new website noticed.

After months of planning, preparation and development, your website “baby” is now taking its first faltering steps into the vastness of the World Wide Web. Like any proud parent wants of their children, you want the best for your website – you want it to go out and achieve to the best of its potential.

Get your new site noticedBut it can’t – not on its own. Not without help.

A successful website takes a whole load of effort, strategy and guidance to attain the lofty goals that you have set for it. It takes patience and time to hook into that target audience that is searching for your business. A newly launched website is just one single entity – floating in the vastness of the internet. A void that is likely filled with many similar websites, just like yours, all craving the attention of the same critical audience.

How are they going to find yours?

With the baby steps below, you can set your newly-launched business website on the right path and make it visible to the audience that is searching for what you have to offer.

Step 1 – Get Your Site listed with Google

This one is a must because Google won’t list your site automatically at launch. You (or your web developer) need to bring the new website to Google’s attention using one of the two following methods:

  1. Manually add the URL of the new site by visiting the Google Search Console https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en and submitting it via the “official” channels.
  2. A more cunning way to gain Google’s attention is to display a link to the website on another site that has already been indexed (visited) by the Googlebot. When the Bot next sweeps by for a visit, it will pick up the new link and, voila, you’ll be added to the index.

Be aware that listing on Google can take anywhere from 24 hours to four weeks but you can speed up the process with a little more exposure…

Step 2 – Engage in “Off Page” SEO

Off-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) refers to methods that you can use to promote your site outside the pages of your website. Two of the most popular methods are Link Building and Social Media Marketing.

Linking Building involves getting other websites to link to your site (these are known as inbound links). So long as these sites are of a high quality and their content is relevant to your site, Google smiles upon this method and its search algorithm may give your site a boost in the rankings.

Note that linking from any old site is not recommended and can have the opposite effect on the rankings – you can even get blacklisted if Google really doesn’t like what you have done.

Social Media Marketing is exactly as it sounds. Using the various social platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc), promote and share the content of your site with your audience of followers. Each post/link to your site that is shared by this audience is seen favourably in the eyes of the GoogleBot.

Step 3 – On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the use of various tactics within the content of your website’s pages. This can include using key words that your audience may use as part of the text, ensuring that all images have an ALT tag attached and using internal/external links to establish connections with other content that the search engines may already know about.

If you are using WordPress as the framework for your site, install either the “Yoast SEO” or All-in-One SEO plugins and they will work through wizards to help set up your on-page SEO.

Conclusion

These three steps are only the first steps along path to gaining real traction with your website. Once the GoogleBot has found and ranked your small business website, you will need to monitor which tactics are working best for you. In addition, you must keep your content fresh and update to date and constantly monitor your website analytics. Know where your traffic is coming from, what pages they like to visit and what they use to find your website in the first place.

If you need assistance getting your site a little more Google-friendly, please get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design. We’ll take a look at your currently “set-up” and help you implement the changes needed to get the most out of your site.

Four Steps to Successful Email Marketing

While Social Media for small business continues to be a rave topic in marketing forums around the world, statistics indicate that, although annoying to some, email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools that a business can use to engage with its customers.

Succcessful Email MarketingYour Inbox is irrevocable proof of this – how many items of marketing did you receive this morning?

Although some will never be opened, the humble email can still be an effective way of reaching out to your customers. But, as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s our four top tips to help you create an effective (and legal*) email marketing strategy for your business:

Step 1: Grow your database

Before you start any email marketing campaign, you need legitimate* emails in your database to use. Gathering these addresses is quite easy if you have an established website. You can use the popular method of the pop-up window or simply have a newsletter subscription somewhere on your home page. MailChimp has plugins that work directly through the WordPress framework and integrate with their newsletter systems, saving the hassle of collecting email addresses and adding them manually to your campaigns.

Whatever method you use, remember to always declare why you are gathering the addresses and what can be expected in return (see value point below).

Step 2: Remember the Mobile Users

Due to the unstoppable growth of smart phones, more emails than ever before are being viewed on a mobile device. In fact, up to 75% of email opens* could be via mobile depending on your industry. To cater for this audience, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised – easy to read on a small screen, low on data usage and concise in their information.

* http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

Step 3: Be aware of the SPAM Act 2003

To keep your email marketing within the lines of the law, you must ensure that any emails you send comply with three main points – Consent, Identity and Unsubscribe.

Consent – The receiver of your emails must be made fully aware at the time they subscribe exactly what they will be receiving in return. Consent can also be in the form of an existing relationship with the receiver i.e. they are already a customer.

Identity – Marketing emails must identify who is sending the emails and their contact information.

Unsubscribe – Each email must include an Unsubscribe option so that consent can be retracted at any time.

Learn more: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

Step 4: Offer Value

The secret behind any email campaign that wants to grow and be effective to offer subscribers VALUE in what they receive. Value can come in multitude of forms. You can reply with a free eBook, a newsletter filled with tricks and tips or keep them up to date with the latest industry news. If you are advertising products or services, butter up the receiving party with a discount voucher for their next purchase.

Everyone loves getting something for free and your subscribers are more likely to stick around.

Remember, what may work for one business may not necessarily work for yours. As with any marketing, try out all your ideas but be sure to MEASURE the response. Don’t spend hours of your precious small business time barking up the wrong tree only to find out that you aren’t getting a decent return from your efforts. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning along the way. This approach will lead to an effective email strategy that will grow your business without eating away at your marketing budget or your valuable time.

How secure is your WordPress website?

Website SecurityIf your site has been built on the WordPress framework, you are in good company. With a calculated 25% of all websites built using this user-friendly CMS, WordPress is easily miles ahead of its competition. However, with this popularity comes an inherit danger – it is a regular target for hackers.

WordPress was born from an open-source project and remains free to everyone who wants to create a website. Open source means that the code that makes the whole system work is available on the internet with no restrictions. This factor is important in the whole WordPress “ecosystem” as it allows developers and coders to create the myriad of plugins and themes that make the CMS what is it.

Unfortunately, hackers can also look at the code and discover its weak spots, making it vulnerable to spamming and security breaches. For the small time user, this may never be a problem that presents itself. But if your site attracts the unwanted attention of a hacker, they can cause all kinds of problems for your small business website and its visitors.

To protect your site (big or small), there are some very simple measures that you can employ without the need for any programming knowledge (or outside help):

1. Update the WordPress Core.

To do this, access the Dashboard of your site. If a new (major) version of WordPress has been released, this information will be displayed on the main screen of the Dashboard with an UPDATE link. With the newer versions of WordPress, small incremental updates to are performed automatically.

2. Update the plugins that you are using with your site.

In the main menu of the Dashboard, under the Home button, an Updates options will appear when updates for your plugins are available. Click on it to access the Updates page and select the updates that you want to apply. At the same time, visit the plugins page of the Dashboard and delete any plugins that you aren’t using. Even though they aren’t being use, these deactivated plugins can still provide backdoor access to your system.

3. Use a secure password.

A brute force attack, where the login for a site is attacked with a systematic password hack, is hard to protect against but with a secure password (one that used no common words and a mix of symbols, letters, numbers), the hacker will have to work harder to penetrate your system. Also, try to limit the number of users that have access. If someone doesn’t need access and will not be updating the site, don’t give them access.

4. Install the WordFence plugin.

This free plugin has so many features that I can’t list them all here. For a very basic explanation, WordFence provides high-quality firewall and malware protection for your WordPress website and you should have it on your site. Setting this plugin up puts into place a huge roadblock to anyone or anything wanting to cause harm to your site. Get it here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/

All the above options are accessible through the Dashboard of your WordPress site but only if you have administrator access. If you log into your site and cannot see or perform the tasks listed, contact your website developer and request an upgrade of your user access.

There is nothing worse than trying to regain control of a severely hacked website however, if it does happen to you and the above steps do not reverse the damage to a perfect state, it is not the end of the world. The server on which your site resides should be* backed up on a regular basis and can be restored by your server provider* to a previous day/week for a small charge.

As always, however, a pinch of prevention is worth a full pound of cure.

  • If your web server provider does not backup at least three times a week, then it is imperative that you find a new provider. Security of your website is paramount.
  • A server provider such as Digital Pacific, NetRegistry, WebCentral, etc provides the space where your website lives. It is generally not the same as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that connects your business to the internet.

Unsure about how to implement the security measures above, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design. We can undertake a no-obligation security audit of your site and let you know how we can help. 

Updating your website should be a habit, not a hindrance.

In the case of most small business websites, the first few weeks after the site has been launched are usually the busiest (ever) for traffic through the site.

Update your Site The owner of the site is pumped and giving the website their utmost attention with both new content and inbound links from their social media accounts. However, as with many things, life (and business) gets in the way and the website sadly becomes neglected over time.

A website should not be seen as a once-off investment, something that you tick off a checklist. To be truly effective, a site needs to be an integral of the small business which it represents. The business is expected to evolve over time, keeping pace with changes in the world around it. The website needs to evolve too.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a website that isn’t cared for – in fact, it can be a waste of your time. The content is stale and boring – totally irrelevant to the customer who is looking for helpful information to help them achieve their original for visiting the site. And, the worst thing about an unloved site…. It reflects directly back onto the business.

“If they don’t care about their website, maybe they don’t care about business in general.”

Whilst this statement won’t be true in most cases, it’s a bad feeling to give to your customers and, like most things, its incredibly easy to avoid.

The easiest way to avoid a stale, old website is to make the website part of your regular routine, a habit that you tend to regularly.

A great analogy would be to look at your website like you do/should look at your health and fitness regime. The best way to a healthy lifestyle is to put healthy habit into practice every day. Diets with deadlines rarely achieve a long-term successful goal. Changes to eating habits and regular exercise program are more like to achieve long term success.

With your website, don’t do the one-off update to the site and think “well now that’s done – we can leave for a few months”. Put a habit into practice where the site becomes part of your everyday routine. Maybe first thing every morning, add a new piece to the site or give it plug on social media. Or set aside time every week to review the content on the site, move it around, repurpose it, check site visitors, check popular pages, anything that is going to ensure that the site is relevant to those customers looking for it TODAY, not three months ago.

From my own experience, I have found that using a content calendar, pinned to the cork board in my office, helps me to keep my content relevant. It lays out an entire month of changes, new content, social media placements – I create all my content for an upcoming week (according to the calendar) on the previous weekend, ready to roll out.

Make your website a long-term partner with your business by making it an integral part of your business.

Do you have any tricks or tips to making your website part of your regular habits? Please share your ideas by leaving  a comment below.

Tropical Coast Web Design