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There’s no such thing as a Free Lunch!

Anybody active on social media will have seen the advertisements for the free online website builders such as Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.

At first glance, their offerings seem quite reasonable. Most offer plenty of space for a business site along with seemingly easy to use interfaces at no cost at all to the user. Surely, it’s a great way to get online quickly?

If we take a closer examination of these sites, their setup reveals a different story.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch!”

That is definitely the case here. All the free options from these online website builders require that your site gets “branded” somewhere with their logo, not just your own. Some sites are slightly less conspicuous than others but nevertheless, it does look a little un-professional to have someone else’s logo adorning your business site. To remove the logo in most cases, you must join a paid version of the site.

The Optional Extras all add up

Items that are not included in the free setup will also add to the cost of the website for the business owner (special features, plug-ins, extra space, extra bandwidth, etc). Even the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site will generally need to be paid for and without this important factor taking care of; no-one might find your business online in the first place.
The original free option suddenly does seem so free after all.

Ownership of the Site

You must also be aware that the site is retained on their servers, not yours – so regardless of how much sweat, tears and effort you put into the site, they retain control. If you decide to move away from the service provider, you most probably will not be able to take your site with you and that means you will have to start from scratch. In addition, if you have registered your domain name with them, it can sometimes be an absolute nightmare trying to regain control of that domain.

Stand out from the crowd

All the bells and whistles in the world (if you pay for them) still don’t make up for the fact that, whatever you produce will not be unique just to your business. Online website builders rely heavily on the use of design templates. So even if they offer one hundred different designs, chances are that the most attractive and useful to you will also be very popular with other users.

Your business is unique, regardless of what field you are operating in. Therefore, your site needs to be unique and personally tailored to your business. It needs to cater for every aspect of your online presence. You “might” be able to customize these online templates to suit – but then another question arises – do you, as the business owner, actually have the time to devote learning the ropes and creating the site that your business needs?

Save the headache – use a real Website Designer

The #1 reason why businesses are choosing to use a professional website designer to create their online presence is because we have spent years perfecting our craft to make your business look good on the internet. We also cater for all aspects of your business online and strive to provide a professional service that ensures that the journey online is as stress-free as possible.

Depending on your requirements, a free website may just be what you need however if you need flexibility, originality, a site that caters specifically for your website and you don’t have the time to worry about your online presence, let us take care of it for you. That’s what we do!

Top five reasons every small business needs a website

In small towns, such as my hometown of Ingham, small business owners have relied for years purely on local customers for their income. And this has worked just fine for the most part as these businesses have built up loyal trade and trust with good service.

But times have changed. Businesses right through to the early 90’s never had to compete against anything like the internet and the changes it has brought. Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and, as a small business owner, you are no longer just competing against other local businesses. In fact, for most professional services and especially those selling products, there is no concept of a local business anymore.

Whether you like it or not, you are a state-wide, national, or even an international business. Your customers are very aware that if they don’t receive the service, they expect to get along with the product they want AND at a price that they like, they are going online to get it somewhere else!

So if your business is unwilling to get online to be competitive in 2020, then you are going to lose a huge chunk of your potential market.

Here’s five good reasons why getting a website is essential to the evolution of a modern small business.

#1 – A website is available to your customers 24/7

With online trading, a customer can choose when they are going to visit you. They are no longer dependant on when you open your physical store. A website allows a business owner to keep products and services moving all day, every day. A mobile-responsive site takes this to the next level with customers accessing businesses on-the-go with tablets and smartphones.

#2 – Your website opens you up to the international marketplace.

A website means that you don’t have to just sell your products and services to locals in your immediate area. If you have a great product and it is easily found online (with search engine optimisation), you can sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. You are no longer geographically locked in.
If someone two thousand kilometres away wants your products – with a website, they can get them.

#3 – Window Shopping has evolved too

Walking down the main street in your town or city is no longer the only way to go window shopping (though some may disagree). Online, your potential customers are always looking and planning where they are going to make their next purchases. They are comparing prices, checking out services and calculating delivery costs. Even if they may not be making an immediate purchase, when they do, those online businesses who have made an impact on their searches will come to the forefront.

#4. Online, you can build your position as a Key Person of Influence in your industry.

Your website and your online presence have become key factors when customers are searching for a new business to deal with. A strong presence is a great way to demonstrate that you are a modern business with its finger on the pulse of your industry. Customers testimonials are also a great way of showing your prospects that you can deliver the products and services that your offer. Social Media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will help to build a community of loyal followers that your business can use to develop, research, and sell new products. Each one of these components is essential to build your authority as a KPI (Key Person of Influence).

#5 – On the internet, size does not matter.

A website is a great leveller. Whether you’re a one-man show or a 20,000-employee corporate giant; if you offer prompt and friendly service backed up by a quality product, you can compete head-to-head with the “big guys”. On the other hand, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to other companies that do.

Despite all the reasons that are spruiked daily about the benefits of an online business, it is estimated that more than half (52%) of Australian small business owners do not have a website. This is astounding considering that 82% of small business owners get new business through referrals. If you don’t have a website, how do these referrals find out more about you?

If you want to evolve your small business and access a greater share of your industry’s market, get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design today and we will create an online strategy that will work for you.

Disaster! My site has disappeared from Google!!

It’s every website owner’s worst nightmare – sitting down at the computer one day, typing your business name into Google and – BAM – the site’s not there in the search results! Frantically, you scan through page after page to no avail, it has completely disappeared. What has happened?

Although this sounds like a worst-case scenario, unfortunately it does happen (very) occasionally. And with a market share of 70.38%* of search engine traffic, going missing on Google can have a devastating effect on the businesses involved. Especially if those businesses are reliant on web traffic for survival.

If this does happen to you, before you even consider anything else in this article, make sure you go to google.com and try the site: prefix with your site name (for example site:tropicalcoastwebdesign.com.au). This will allow you to determine whether your site is still on the Google Search index or if it has been removed altogether.

Causes

There is a myriad of reasons that a site can disappear from Google, ranging from very simple errors and problems right through to black banning by the search giant for dubious SEO practices. Some of these reasons include:

  • Lack of SEO love from the site owner. They’ve created a site and done nothing else with it. No promotion, no linking and little or no new content.
  • Article Spinning. This practice involves using regurgitated content from other websites and Google absolutely hates this – it only loves fresh, new content. Article spinning often involves automatic generators that simply change small sections of text so that the content does not look directly plagiarised from its source.
  • Link building cheats. This generally involves third-party businesses that “guarantee” rankings by creating links through a large network of internet sites called “Link Wheels” or a “Link Pyramids.”
  • Keyword Stuffing. A website is filled with content and the same keywords are used throughout that content repeatedly. It reads terribly, makes your content look cheap and Google doesn’t like it. It nearly always raises a red flag and Google loves to act against those flags.

Solutions

Luckily, unless you’ve been naughty, all it takes is some time and effort to fix this “little” problem. Sit down at your computer and start “cranking” out some decent original content that is not stuffed to the gills with keywords. Write a blog like this one (topics are easier to come by than you think), announce new store arrivals or simply upgrade your imagery – don’t forget to tag those images!

Look at the results that are coming in on the first page of Google Search for your desired keywords. Normally, Yellow Pages and Local Search directories are up there in the #1 and #2 positions. If you are listed with them, contact each and make sure that your website address is on their listings too.

Contact your suppliers and customers that have web pages and set up reciprocal links – I’ll link to you and you link to me. Make sure that you are in similar industries as Google looks favourable on this.

Finally, your site could simply go missing due to a change in the complex algorithm that controls our search results. Google is a private company and wants to remain at the top of its game, making money for its shareholders. To do this, they keep “fine-tuning” the way that search results are ranked and ordered. Your site may simply not “stack” up against the new algorithm, yet. In this case, keep working on that fresh content and the remainder should take care of itself.

* https://www.smartinsights.com/search-engine-marketing/search-engine-statistics/

Five easy ways to decrease your site’s bounce rate

You have a website – and the statistics look good.

At first glance.

As you delve into the pile of numbers that are part and parcel of any website’s statistics, you may find that although people are coming to your site, they are not staying very long – at all.

If this is the case, your site has a bounce rate problem.

For the novice, the bounce rate is the number (usually a percentage) of your site visitors that leave your site immediately after arriving. Now, there could be any number of reasons for this however none of them are good for your business. The aim of any good website is to retain visitors and make them into loyal customers – they should want to stay on your site but when they do leave, you know that they will come back.

Below are five (fairly) quick fixes to help you get that bounce rate down.

Fix #1 – Reduce the amount of time it takes to load your site

If your site is heavily loaded with content, it can take some time to load on a visitor’s computer/mobile. Add to that all the bangs and whistles that make a site look “pretty” and you risk losing them before they even see the content! A general rule of thumb is that the majority of information on your webpage should be loaded within five seconds (this used to be ten in the “old” days”).

Fix #2 – Make your Navigation Menu user friendly

Websites with only a few pages have this one already sorted – their menus are generally uncluttered and users can find what they want fairly easily. But what if your site has dozens of pages to sift through? Website visitors can easily be put off by a menu system that has too many options.

The solution is quite simple – group your pages into common categories and create a base menu using these. Then, with the help of a pop-out menu, you can then add all the other pages underneath.

If your site does have a lot of pages, be sure to include a site map in your footer because some visitors may head  straight for this.

Fix #3 – Ensure that your Call to Action is highly visible

Your Call to Action (CTA) is all important to your website. If the site doesn’t have a clear CTA, why is it online in the first place? Your visitors need to be able to find this with no trouble at all – if anything, it should be one of the most predominant items on any page – as easy to find as your logo!

If a site visitor can’t find a way to interact with or purchase from you, they’ll go somewhere else and up goes your Bounce Rate!

Fix #4 – Check that your site is mobile responsive

If your site is over five years old, chances are that it may not be mobile responsive. This means that your website appears exactly the same on a mobile or tablet as it does on a full sized computer. In turn, this makes your content too hard to see without zooming in – something that mobile users hate to do when browsing the web.

Never fear, this doesn’t always mean that a whole site rebuild is required. There a number of options available in most cases – just contact your website developer for more information (or get in touch with us).

Fix #5 – Tidy up that old, messy website

Whenever I start a new design for a client, I always take the time and cruise the internet looking at other websites in the same industry – just to see what is out there. Sometimes, I am astounded by the poor quality presented as professional websites. Some sites look like they have been there since the 90’s!

If your website does not convey your business brand as professional and “can do”, then it is unlikely to grab any potential customers, just on its appearance. Upgrade your site design and watch for the difference in response. If you look like you know what you doing, you are halfway to getting that client on-board.

 Finally, according to statistics, you only have 50 milliseconds (that’s five hundredths of a second) to make a good impression with your website.  And as everyone knows, a good first impression can last a lifetime.

Take look at your site with fresh eyes (better yet – get someone else with fresh eyes) and have a look at the repairs suggested here.

Does your bounce rate need a bit of a fixer-upper?

Tropical Coast Web Design