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The Essential Checklist for creating a business website that works.

Did you know that 48% of customers will stop considering your business if you don’t have a website? *

*Telstra

A website is a key part of business marketing and should be at the core of your business’ online presence. Social Media is fine up to a point, but online-savvy customers want to know more about the business they are dealing with and how it can help them.

But what are the elements of a good small business website? Below is our checklist of key components that your website needs to be effective and successful:

1. Clearly defined website goals.

Although they aren’t visible in the final design, outlining goals for your website is vitally important to the end results. Without a clear roadmap in place, your direction may be offline with what you want to achieve and what your customers are looking for.

Use the five W’s as a starting point to define your goals:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What are they looking for?
  • When are your services available?
  • Where are your customers based?
  • Why do they need your products and services?
  • How can you help solve your customer’s problems?

2. An easy-to-use site menu.

Clear navigation on your website not only helps your visitors find what they are looking for, but it also helps search engines such as Google to index your site properly.

Plan your site that no page is any further than two mouse clicks away from the front page – else it is in danger of being lost to your visitors. Conversely, all pages on the site must also link back to the home page.

3. Business appropriate design.

When designing the overall look of your business website, make sure it appears as expected to your target audience. For example, the audience for a nightclub website would not expect to find a website design more suitable to an aged-care facility.

In addition, don’t go too far with the visuals of your design – the focus of the website should always be the user experience. Heavy visuals can also be distracting, and they will slow down the load-time for your site.  

4. Mobile-friendly.

In a recent report from https://www2.deloitte.com, it is estimated that 91% of Australians own a smart phone and use it regularly to access the internet. This means a large proportion of any website’s traffic will be coming to you via mobile and your site needs to be developed from the ground up to cater for this.

When looking to be mobile-friendly, there shouldn’t be two versions of your site. It should be the same site that automatically adapts its various components to deliver the same content on any screen size.

5. On-Point Content.

When it comes to selling your products and services, there is no alternative to high-quality content. Engaging your visitors is the key to lengthening the time they spend on your site and reducing its dreaded bounce-rate.

Ensure that any content is clear, concise and relevant to the person who is reading it. Make sure, as your site gets older, you change-up the content on a regular basis to keep it fresh – not just for your site visitors, but for the Google-Bot which will be looking for such changes.

To keep your content on-point, keep referring to the goals of your site established in step #1.

6. Clear & Visible “Call To Actions”

Whatever you want your customers to do on your website – you need to make it stand out. This is known as the “Call To Action” (CTA).

The CTA’s that we use can determine whether people take action and in what numbers. There are two core objectives of a CTA: telling what they should do and giving them the motivation to do it.

Here’s some example CTA’s that can be used on your website:

Get My Offer Redeem My Prize Book My Demo Subscribe Buy Now Call Us Today Reserve Your Place Book an Appointment  

7. Accessible contact details.

Allow your customers to reach out to you quickly with clear contact details that are easy to access and use. At a minimum, your details should include your business address (if applicable), phone number and email address.

Use a professional email address, preferably with your own domain name – addresses provided by free email services can portray the wrong image to prospective customers.

If you would like your customers to contact you directly from your website, include a contact or enquiry form on the site.

8. Site Traffic Analytics

Without tracking the visitors that come through your site and watching where (and if) they are spending their time, there’s no way you can measure if your website is achieving the goals that you have set for it.

Fortunately, tracking is easily done on several levels. Your website server can follow the most basic of movements into your site and you can install a plugin to watch what happens on your site. Obviously, the most well known and best option is to sign-up for Google Analytics.

Briefly, the most important metrics you should track in your website are:

  • Number of Visitors
  • Bounce Rate
  • Page Views
  • Duration of Stay
  • Time on Page
  • Traffic source
  • Device Source
  • Interactions on site
  • Exit Page

Boost your website by checking these five statistics.

Web statistics are often the forgotten element in a business website, yet they are key to whether the site succeeds or fail.

Site Statistics

By paying attention to the smallest of details, you will be able to adjust the operation of your site to ensure that you have the best chance of converting visitors into customers. I

n short, monitoring your site’s statistics could make the world of difference when it comes to the key question – is your website working for you?

Here’s five key statistics that you need to monitor on a regular basis:

Site Traffic

This metric counts the total number of visitors to your site and it’s a great way to quickly gauge the growth or decline of visitor numbers. You can also measure any increase during specific promotions i.e. a sales campaign on Facebook.

It’s important to note there are two type of site traffic measured – unique and repeat visitors. Unique visitors are those coming to your site for the first time and repeat visitors are coming more than once. Both are important to determine if you are receiving new visitors and whether your content is worth come back again in the future.

Traffic Source

This data helps to define where the traffic above comes from. There are generally four sources:

  • Organic: From search engines such as Google and Bing.
  • Referral: Directly from other websites (also known as inbound links).
  • Direct: Visitors physically typing in the site’s address.
  • Social: From social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc).

Look to use a variety of traffic sources in your statistics and never rely on one platform only. If, for example, your social media crashes and it is your main source, traffic to your site could be severely impacted.

Bounce Rate

The Bounce Rate (BR) of your website determines how many people leave immediately after arriving. A high BR is not good – it indicates that something is wrong with your content or offerings. Unfortunately, it won’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is, but improvements are definitely needed.

Tip: If your site has a high BR, ask friends and colleagues to “test” the site from the mindset of a visitor – they may see something that you, as the owner, can’t.

Top Pages

This metric allows the site owner to determine which pages are most popular with visitors. The data usually includes how many “hits” the page has had and how long visitors spent perusing the content.

By looking at the popularity of a page, information can be ascertained about the type of content your visitors are looking for and this in turn, can influence the content of other less popular pages.  

Conversion Rate

The most important data in site statistics, the conversion rate determines whether your site is actually doing its job – converting visitors to customers.

The data is determined by looking at the number of unique visitors to a site and dividing that by how many of those visitors take some form of action on the site. This action could be several things:

  • The sale of a product.
  • Subscription to a newsletter.
  • Completion of an enquiry form.
  • A share of your content on social media.

So…. how do I measure these statistics?

Obviously, the “big brother” of website statistics is Google Analytics, the basic version of which is free. Being linked to the world’s most popular search is a huge advantage, but Google Analytics has so many tools that it can be a little daunting to first time site owners.

Another alternative, if you have a WordPress site, is Wp Statistics from Verona Labs. This plugin will give you many of the metrics listed above and is hosted locally so no sharing with Google – some of your site visitors may appreciate this

Whatever system you use, website statistics are vitally important for site owners to ensure that the money in a website is put to good use and acts as a boost to your business’ bottom line.

How to make online sales with your existing website.

In the current crisis, many small businesses have been forced to move online quickly and adapt to a whole new way of operating.

Some, without websites, are trying to utilise their existing social media presence. However, with many other businesses doing the same thing, there is good chance that posts are being “lost” in the continuous feed streaming through on Instagram and Facebook.

Those businesses with existing websites stand a much better chance of being found through search engines, complimented by their social media. Those with online stores are obviously the best positioned to take on the challenge of extra business but what about websites that aren’t designed to be online stores? Is there something they do?

Absolutely. Here’s five simple steps to create an online sales page for your website during the COVID-19 crisis – without breaking the budget.


Step One: Choose 12 of your most popular products.

The page will ideally list your most popular products, so write a list of what those products are. Here’s some questions to get you started: – What do your customers come to you to buy most frequently?

  • Do you sell anything that will be helpful during the current crisis or make it easier?
  • What products are easiest for you to post or deliver in person?

We’ve set 12 products as a “loose” limit as you don’t to overwhelm customers with choices and risk putting them off making a purchase.


Step Two: Set up a dedicated landing page.

With your products selected, create a new page in your website CMS*. This will be the landing page for traffic coming into your site that you want to sell to. It will also act as a gateway to the remainder of your website.

Keep text on the page to a minimum – introduce what you are selling and outline how your business is operating during the crisis – two paragraphs maximum.

Underneath these paragraphs, layout the 12 products you are offering with a photo, name and price. The images can be clickable if you would like to provide more information but ensure that any new page opens in a new tab – this way the main “sales” page will stay open in the background.


Step Three: Contact Form

Your customers will need a way to contact you to place an order. Be sure to include these two options:

  1. Your business phone number – ensuring that it is “clickable” for mobile site users.
  2. A contact form so that customers can supply their contact details and the name of the product they wish to purchase.

By using a contact form plugin on your site, i.e. Contact Form 7 (WordPress), you can also set up an autoresponder to send the customer further information for the sale i.e. delivery information and banking details for direct deposits.

The customer’s phone number on the form will allow you to call them, confirm the order and take credit card payments if you have that capability.


Step Four: Social Media

Once the landing page is ready, start promoting it in your social media feeds. Let your audience know what they can do by visiting your site and include a link that goes directly to your new landing page.

To encourage of your Facebook post, you could include a simple “coupon” code that can be typed into your page’s contact form. For example, the code “SAVE10” could be used for a 10% discount.


Step Five: Pop-Up on Home Page

For those who arrive at your site via regular search engines or direct links, create a popup box that appears on the home page. This can contain a simple message and link button through to the special landing page.

The “Popup Maker” plugin on WordPress is perfect for creating a pop-up that grabs attention.


What if I don’t currently have a website?

For small businesses caught by the current crisis without a website, Tropical Coast Web Design is currently offering full function one-page websites (with email) for only $299 and a very quick turnaround. Head over to our special offer page for more information and get your business online this week!

*Content Management System

Five online actions that may help your local business through Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting Australian small businesses in a multitude of ways.

From a loss of physical traffic into stores right through to numerous people working from home, the situation is changing daily during the COVID-19 outbreak and businesses are adapting to survive.

Below is an action plan of five things your business can do online to improve your chances of riding out this “once in a lifetime” pandemic.

1. Get on social media.

You should already have a social media account for your business and if you haven’t, you’d better set one up! Your customers are all on social media and you need to get two pieces of important information out to them now.

Firstly, you need to let your customers know that you are still operating and secondly, let them HOW you are operating. Have your hours changed? Are you delivering? Are you switching to online trading only? What measures are being taken in your business to mediate the current situation with COVID-19?

Put simply, you need to keep your customers informed about what your business is doing for the next few months.

2. Develop a Social Media Strategy.

A one-off post on your Facebook page is not going to solve anything. With the government guidelines for handling the COVID-19 crisis changing on an almost daily basis, you need to develop a brief strategy to ensure that you are continually visible online. This doesn’t need to be a long-winded document – it could as simple as a weekly calendar:

Monday: Facebook – This week at our business. Tuesday: Instagram – Pic of the team in action. Wednesday: Facebook – Customer of the Week. Thursday: LinkedIn – “Business to Business” offerings. Friday: Facebook – Throwback Friday or Friday Funny

Posting regularly keeps your local customers in the loop and gives them a regular visual reminder that you are still open for business.

3. Use your existing website to make online sales.

With social distancing being recommended by all levels of government, businesses can swiftly adapt their sites to start taking online orders and it doesn’t need to involve a full-blown eCommerce store. A simple online ordering form with your direct deposit information could be set up very quickly to make sales.

Of course, a full online store, with traffic directed from your social media streams, would be the perfect way to do business over the next few months. Your customers could simply select their products, pay for them online and have them shipped directly their door – without any physical contact at all.

4. Update Google my Business.

Check the information displayed by your Google My Business account is current and correct. This information is displayed in search results as people look for you and contains important details such as physical address, phone numbers, website address and opening hours.

Confirming that this information is correct could mean the difference between making a sale or a missed opportunity as more people search online for products and services.

5. Join local Networks and Groups

If you haven’t already, log onto Facebook and seek out your local community online. This might include groups such as local business directories, “buy, swap and sell” groups, your regional council and even the local Chamber of Commerce. Join these groups where relevant and share your business information.

Once you have joined a group – encourage others to start sharing each other’s posts wherever you can. The amount of coverage your business can get through sharing through sharing posts will surprise you.

Conclusion

Despite the gloomy outlook for the next few months in Australia, Covid-19 does not have to be the end of your business. Your business might need to evolve and embrace a different way of doing business, but if we all work together as a local community, we can help one another ride out the storm and emerge intact on the other side.

That’s the true meaning of being a local in a small regional town – we help each other out in times of need.

Why does your small-town business need a big business website?

Putting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website.

Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small-town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my hometown that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments: –

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can level the playing field for the “little guys”

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy to use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions completely separate from your business involved and, as long as those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

A properly built and managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Why wouldn’t a small business be online?

Today, the whole world is online.

From the school kids down at the skate park to grandparents on their “grey nomad” tours of Australia, each and every one of them is hooked up and on the net. Either through wireless, mobile, cable, fibre optics or copper wire, Australians (and the developed world for that matter) are processing and sharing information at a rate never seen before in history. We do our banking online, our research assignments online, our university courses online and, most importantly to business owners, we shop online.

With all this access, it is still mind-blowing that some businesses (52% of SMBs*) are still living in the dark ages and operating without an internet presence. That is, they don’t have a website. Why? Look at any business not using the web and I’m sure if you asked the owners, they’d be one of the categories below:-

Time Poor – When do I have time to learn about websites?

Running a business is always flat-out and hectic. With stock to order, employees to manage, bills to pay, premises to maintain among a million other things, there’s very rarely anytime left to do anything else. Some businesses use this as the main excuse to not create a website. Unless you can outsource the work of maintaining a website to an employee or an outside agency, the creation of a site just seems like too much of an extra burden. And this is on top of learning how to do it in the first place. It’s all too hard…

Technologically Naive – I don’t know anything about websites!

If a business has been operating for a number of years (i.e. from before the advent of websites) and working along fairly comfortably, the owners of the business may not be fully aware of what a website can do to improve the bottom line of any company. The simple phrase “We’ve done alright without one!” could be the main reason behind unwillingness to expand online. The inherit danger with this attitude is that the business may be missing out on a number of potential sales simply through an unawareness of the World Wide Web and its possibilities.

Another reason could be that the business operators may not be aware of the process to get a website designed and built. Technology can be fairly daunting to some people and websites are no different. Just the mere thought of moving online or even creating a site for the business can leave some people in a cold sweat.

Just Plain Poor – We can’t afford one right now…

With all the responsibilities listed in the section above, money can also be very tight at times and the perceived expense of website development may just be too much for the business to handle at any particular time. Rumours are often perpetuated about sites for small businesses running into the thousands and who has the spare cash to throw around like that?

Let’s debunk these theories one by one.

Firstly, there is no need for a business owner to fret about going online with their business. It merely needs to be seen as another part of your marketing strategy. Take a look at our four steps to getting online here – all you need to do is decide whether you need a website or not (you do!) and get in touch with a web developer to take care of the rest. If you merely want a brochure site that isn’t going to change often, nothing could be easier. But if you do have the time, maybe you could invest in a CMS site that you can update yourself – the learning curve to running your own site is not as steep as you think.

Secondly, if you are swept off your feet and have no time to run a site then get someone else to do it for you. Hire a developer to create the site and a copywriter to create the content – they can do amazing things with just a few dot points about your business, that’s their job. Already have a brochure about your company? A good copywriter can take this brochure and create a whole website of content for you. No photos? No worries. Stock photography is available for your business and only costs a couple of dollars per image.

Finally, although some web developers charge thousands for site development, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. Obviously, you cannot expect a highly polished site for $200 but if you do a little research and ask for a few quotes, you are sure to find a developer that can work within a reasonable budget. Take care though; make sure you check out online portfolios first to ensure that the designer can provide the high quality service you expect.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for not getting your business online these days. If your business wants to grow and continue to be competitive in today’s marketplace – it needs to be online.

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

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.

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.

Tropical Coast Web Design