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How to use Facebook BOOST to Promote your Small Business

Posted by Rusty

Imagine having your brand exposed daily to thousands of people in your target audience?

People who are actually interested in your products and services –  a targeted section of the demographic that you seek.

Facebook advertising has been set up specifically to get this kind of exposure.

It’s quite easy to do – your business’ Facebook page is full of opportunities. These are the big blue buttons that you see on your page – Promote your Local Business, Promote Website and Promote your Contact Button. From my own experience, the promotion that invokes the best response is the BOOST button. This appears after each post that you have made.

The BOOST button allows you to show your posts to a wider audience who are interested in what you have to offer. For example, if you found this post on your Facebook feed and you don’t currently follow Tropical Coast Web Design, then Facebook has decided that you may be interested in what we have to offer.

So how do you actually use the BOOST button?

1.  Only Promote Quality Content

Create content on your site that is helpful and informative –  it needs to be relevant to the target audience. This could in the form of videos, blogs (like this one), podcasts or downloads. Choose your medium based on your audience, your strengths, and the information that you want to convey.

2.  Add your Post to Facebook

Once your content is online, create an engaging headline that grabs attention and invokes emotion or action. Alongside this, create a paragraph describing your content so Facebook viewers can quickly get an idea of what you are talking about.

Add these into your Business Facebook feed – just like you do with any new post. Be sure to include a LINK to your actual content! (simply copy and paste the website address)

3. Click BOOST

Self-explanatory –the BOOST button will appear after you click POST to add your content.

4. Set up your “Campaign”

A pop-up window will appear to help get your campaign sorted with easy-to-follow steps:

i. Create an Audience Group.

You’ll need think carefully about the interests of your target Facebook audience – more importantly, how old they are, where they are, what are they doing on Facebook, who do they follow and what do they post. Remember that Facebook knows a great deal about us from our own posts and stores this information specifically for advertising purposes – like this.

ii. Select a budget that stays within what you can afford.

Example : $7 per day x 1 Week = $49 (maximum spend)

iii. Add a Facebook Pixel

Adding a Facebook Pixel to your website is optional but assists in tracking the conversions from your Facebook page to your actual website. It is a detailed system to explain so  visit Facebook to find out more.

iv. Payment

You’ll need your Credit Card details. No payments are taken until the end of your selected boost duration.

5. Click on BOOST POST

Finally, check back daily and you will see the results of your BOOST displayed directly under the post. Click on INSIGHTS at the top of your Facebook page to get detailed statistics on your campaign – how many people have seen the post, how many have clicked on it, new page likes and the current status of your selected budget.

If you need any assistance in setting up your own business Facebook campaign, contact Tropical Coast Web Design. We have the experience to help you create an effective Social Media presence that will BOOST your business online.

Five Online Strategies to try for your Small Business

Posted by Rusty

Let’s be clear from the very beginning – using the internet for small business is NOT the guaranteed golden bullet solution to all your problems.

The addition of an online presence will not automatically turn your fortunes around. Running your own website, engaging customers on social media and selling products online takes effort and hard-work – as will all the strategies outlined in this post.

The internet offers you more avenues to market your business than ever before. You can generate followers and advocates that will purchase from (and market) your business 24/7, sometimes without any one-on-one interaction from you.

Here’s five strategies that you could employ online to help raise awareness of your business and its offerings:

#1. Boost your Facebook Posts

Ever seen the big BOOST button on your Facebook page?

This is the button you will see next to any posts you have made. With the power of a BOOST (and a minimum spend of $7/day), you can display your posts in the Facebook feeds of an extremely specific audience. These people are the prime candidates to which you want to market your products and services.

For example, a local dance shop is selling Fascinators for the upcoming races in town. With Facebook BOOST advertising, they can target women, who like Fashion, and live within 50km of the town, in the 18-50 age group.

With targeted boosts, you get your message sent out exactly where you want it to go – much better than casting a broad net and hoping you catch something.

#2. Build an eCommerce Store

Coupled with the low overheads associated in running an online store alongside your “bricks and mortar” business, there are two major advantages for building your own online store

Firstly, an eCommerce store can sell your products and services 24/7– your customers don’t have to wait for the doors to open or for you to even be available. A good online store is set up to run automatically with payment options and shipping processes integrated.

Secondly – your online store can sell anywhere in the world. Your customer base is dramatically widened beyond the immediate geography of your shopfront. If someone on the other side of Australia (or the world) wants to buy your goods, they can access your online store and make the purchase whenever they want.

#3. Provide 24/7 Customer Service

Good customer service can be time intensive, and sometimes very repetitive with no immediate remuneration for your time.

With a website, you can off-set some of the repetitive parts of your customer service using frequently asked questions (FAQs), video tutorials and downloadable help sheets (Bunnings are the experts in this) to name just a few. 

Setting up your website’s customer service area properly would be time well spent as the support you provide online can save you hours either on the phone or answering emails.

#4. Plan and maintain a Content Marketing strategy

Content marketing is a must have on any small business website. To clarify, Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and producing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts and retains your target audience. It is also a key element of the Google search algorithm, helping to determine your website’s placement in search results.

How do you create an effective Content Management Strategy?

Monitor your traffic to gauge the success of each item. This will give you valuable information in relation to what is working and what isn’t.

#5. Give Email Marketing a try

If you are thinking of employing an email marketing approach to broadcast your small business, you can’t look past MailChimp (no affiliation with Tropical Coast Web Design). It has everything built-in to help you create great looking emails, distribute them and, most importantly, keep you within the law regarding SPAM.

Note: You cannot send emails from a business in Australia to anyone you like. You must have the recipient’s permission or an existing customer relationship with that person. For more information, take a look at the Spam Act 2003.

MailChimp has a built-in unsubscribe option. Recipients of the email simply have click Unsubscribe in the footer of the email and MailChimp will automatically remove them from the list, satisfying another condition of the Spam Act.

Conclusion

The real secret to a successful and productive online presence for your small business is summed in one word – consistency. Your website cannot be a stagnant brochure for your business, it needs to be dynamic, helpful and must reinforce your position as an expert in your field with quality service and/or products. Try to set aside 15 minutes a day and develop each of the strategies into a workable system for you – the rewards for your business will become clear in no time at all.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? If your business needs help developing any of the strategies above, please contact Tropical Coast Web Design – we love to help small business!

Help your website get “found” with our SEO checklist!

Posted by Rusty

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.

The checklist below 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 notice 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 function 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 fantastic 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 terrific 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 an advantageous 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.

Small Business Websites – What’s in it for me?

Posted by Rusty

A few months ago, as 2022 arrived on our doorsteps, everyone was looking at those all-important New Year’s resolutions.

They all start the same – In 2022, I will lose 5 kg – In 2022, I will spend more time with my family – In 2022, I will take the family on an holiday. As always, some are much easier to keep than others (depending on how hard or lofty the goal is).

Business owners would have undoubtedly put together some resolutions of their own. One of those goals may have been to boost the profits/productivity of the business by a certain percentage. Another might be to get the business online in 2022. At this point, the owner/operator may get hit with the all too familiar question – does my small business need a website?

A couple of years ago, I would have said the answer would be NO for a number of businesses however with the continued growth of the online world and increasing number of “web-savvy” consumers, my thoughts on this topic have changed dramatically.

Before I go any further, I know that you are sitting there reading this and saying to yourself “Of course this bloke is going to tell me to get a website – that’s what he does!” Read on and you will see that it makes more sense than ever to get your business online.

Forget yourself as the business owner and think of yourself as a consumer. How do you find a business for the first time?

Do you:

a) Drive around the streets of your town looking at signs and hoping that you find what you are looking for?

b) Pull out the local phone book (if you still get one) and leaf through to the area that you need and hope that you choose a trustworthy and reliable business?

c) Search online for your required business, check out their website with accompanying list of services and products along with testimonials from satisfied customers.

If you are a web-savvy member of today’s world, I’m guessing that your answer will be (c).

Of course, phone books and Local Directories all have their online homes now and this will generally feature at the top of most search results. One downside to relying on them for advertising is that, without a website, all potential customers will see is your name, address, and contact information. They don’t include any detail on your business background, services, or past work and this is where your business website comes into its own.

Case study: Barbie’s Hair-Salon

After building a solid client base, Barbie’s Hair and Nails has expanded its services in order to build and grow their business. Using traditional methods (i.e., the phone book), Barbie’s will potentially need to wait a full year to add the new services to their advertisements. Until then, the only way to find out about the new offerings is by visiting the store, traditional media advertising or via “word of mouth.” With a website, Barbie’s can send out the message straight away, with no wait time. They could even announce the changes through an e-newsletter that website visitors have previously subscribed to.

Case Study #2: Robbo’s Lawn Mowing

Robbo has built a solid business throughout his local region offering quality lawn mowing. New clients currently see his bright coloured mowing trailers with their distinctive advertising and can call the phone number shown on them. However, by only using this form of advertising, Robbo is missing out on expanding the business to any nearby areas, as anyone outside the region will not see these trailers. With a website, people can find Robbo’s Lawn Mowing from anywhere (in the world!) and see what is on offer and read testimonials from his satisfied clients.

Conclusion

Please note that I am not advocating the complete desertion of old marketing – some consumers still rely on them heavily and they do rank very well in Google Search results. Your own website can actually be added to your phone directory profile – adding extra punch to your marketing power. This ensures that even if you are found on their directories, potential clients can be directed in your website for more information on your services, your current satisfied clients, and any new services you have on offer.

Can your business boost its productivity and growth through the addition of a website to your marketing arsenal?

Looks aren’t everything (especially in the online world)

Posted by Rusty

Let’s face the facts, everyone knows a good-looking website will grab your attention straight away.

If it is striking to look at with engaging colours and flair, then we most likely will drop in for a closer inspection. But if that site (and its associated business) has no apparent brand character and it doesn’t try to engage with us, that visit to the site may be quite short. We quickly remember that we are visiting for a particular reason and any site that fails to recognise this, going for appearances alone, will lose out on many potential customers.

There are a number of items that need to be taken into consideration whilst building and maintaining a successful business website. Read on and determine whether your site has character and purpose or just shallow “good looks”…

Don’t overwhelm your visitors with information

Some websites are far too wordy for their own good. “Short and sweet” should be the general rule of thumb with text content, and sometimes imagery, on a site. Your site visitors are not there to read the entirety of “War and Peace” about your business. Just give them the information that they need in short concise paragraphs, being sure not to leave out any vital details in the process.

Try to use a language that is engaging (not robotic). As I write this marketing blog post, I am actually speaking it as I type, trying to keep a professional tone balanced with a friendly style (I like to think of myself as a friendly kind of person). Try to be helpful in the information that you share so that potential customers, even if they don’t buy, come away with positive vibes about your business. You never know who they might send your way.

The Hook and Call to Action

We have all seen the cheap and nasty commercials on TV – SALE, SALE, SALE, BUY, BUY, BUY – like those for Super Amart or cheesy rug warehouses. Please don’t try and replicate this on your site! The main difference between the two mediums is we don’t choose what advertisements appear while we watch “My Kitchen Rules” (or whatever your TV poison might be). We do choose what websites we visit.

Try to avoid the hard sell, instead, lead your potential customers towards a sale through the form of some type of engaging story (quality TV ads use this methodology too). An online pool sales website might tell the story of a young family looking for an escape from the summer heat. A business in computer sales to young people may discuss the latest games and the hardware needed to play them. My new portfolio (coming soon…) will display my latest sites and the motivation behind their construction.

Once you have told the story and (hopefully) hooked the customer on what you have to offer, make sure it is blatantly easy to purchase from you. This will involve a distinct “Call to Action” somewhere on the page. Click here to read one of my previous blogs all about Calls to Action. They are vital to making the transition from potential customer into actual customer.

Use a consistent brand message

Make sure the tone of your site fits in with the image that you are trying to project to your prospects. Some web designers love to show off their skills, producing out-of-this-world proposals that might not exactly fit the desired brand message. For example, a website for a business that sells baby furniture would not suit a “grunge” style design, even though it might look fantastic.

Along these lines, be sure that whatever website design you create ties in with the current branding you have used in the past. I’m a firm believer that a site should work with the layout designs of your business cards, stationery, emails, signage, etc. When building a new site, you may opt to completely re-do all the above but ensure that that the message and style from each is consistent with the business’ brand.

Conclusion

While you are creating or adjusting your site, always keep in the front of your mind why people are seeking you out and coming to your business. A potential customer is there to find out what you are all about, what you can offer them and how they can get it from you. They are most definitely not there to say “Wow, pretty website!” so make your site worthy of their visit.

Five Steps to reboot your Business Mojo

Posted by Rusty

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.

Sometimes it feels like we have lost our motivation and are just going through the motions 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 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 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 enjoyable books that can get you inspired. Several terrific books that I can whole-heartedly recommend include:

I must confess that I have read a couple of these more than once just to try and squeeze every gem out of them! They are all written by people who have created their own enormous 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 business with like-minded business owners can be an immensely 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

Posted by Rusty

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

Many 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 hometown 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 using a 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. Satisfied 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, contact 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.

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Dodgy Web Developer.

Posted by Rusty

Checking out your competitors is a must for any small business working online, even in our field of web development.

By following businesses in the same marketplace as yours, you can keep an awareness of your competition’s offerings and keep abreast of changes in your industry.

Recently, whilst developing a new pricing structure for Tropical Coast Web Design, I have observed that there are a few unscrupulous practices that some web developers are engaging in. The products and services that they are offering are not exactly what their clients are paying big bucks for. These operators are the equivalent of the dodgy used-car salesperson.

Luckily, by following a few simple tips, you can avoid the pitfalls of working with one of these so-called “web developers.”

Watch out for cheap templates being sold as “custom” website design.

The most common trait of a dodgy web designer is the practice of purchasing and using cheap templates and passing it off as their own work.

Purchases these themes from sites such as Themeforest might be fine for some however, as themes can often be bought for less than $60, it seems very wrong that a “web developer” can charges hundreds of dollars for work that they aren’t doing. These operators generally have no knowledge of website coding and, beyond adding pretty pictures, will not be able to modify or customise the site.

The major downside to this – your site will end up looking exactly like thousands of others who use the same theme.

Tropical Coast Web Design uses a base theme for our websites called “TCWD  Responsive.”  As you can guess by the name, we developed the theme ourselves and it provides a solid foundation from which we build our customised websites, tailored made and coded to our client’s individual requirements. You can’t buy our theme online.

Shop around for the best Price VS Services.

Don’t accept exorbitant fees for website development simply because “that’s what it costs these days.” A web design doesn’t have to break the bank and eat your entire marketing budget. Most developers offer a free quoting service via their websites so use these to your advantage and compare what can be done and what at what price.

With the number of designers competing for your business, you no longer have to pay big city prices for a website but on the other hand, don’t expect to get a customised site for $99 – it just isn’t going to happen.

Use a Local Developer

The most effective websites are the result of clear communication between the business and the developer. Goals are clearly laid out at the beginning of the design and constant adjustments are made in consultation along the way.

This communication can take many forms, but it is important that it is ongoing. I’ve heard stories of web developers being very communicative during the initial discussion of a design but once the quote has been approved and site is developed, they aren’t heard from again. After launch support is important – without it the site becomes stale, and the business loses out in the long run.

Using a local web developer can avoid the pitfalls of lost communication. You can visit the developer, be an active participant in the design process of your site and, when it’s all online, receive training, support, and assistance to keep the site fresh and performing optimally.

Always insist on a Pre-Design Agreement or Detailed Quote.

NEVER hire a web developer who hasn’t clearly laid an exact description of the work they are going to do for you and the service they are going to provide afterwards. This may be in the form of a signed contract or, if you work with Rusty Mango, a detailed quote that describes exactly what is going to be done and for how much.

Be sure that any changes to this document are also documented using Change Orders and keep a close track whether these changes tie in with the initial quote. Without this proper documentation, a dodgy web developer can possibly rip you off for thousands of dollars.

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

Posted by Rusty

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!”

True, 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.

It 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 visit 24/7 and see what you are all about. A reliable 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 proud of our work.

The linking between sites is especially 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 incredibly 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 to 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.

Conclusion

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 noticeably 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 Security Fixes your site needs right now!

Posted by Rusty

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?”

It’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 contact Tropical Coast Web Design and we will take care it for you – hassle free.

Tropical Coast Web Design