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Why Online Stores are the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

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

Online StoresMany 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 home town 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 through the use of a very 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. Happy 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, get in touch with 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.

 

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

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!”

Dont use website buildersTrue, 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. 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 come and visit 24/7 and see what you are all about. A good 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 very proud of our work.

The linking between sites is very 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 very 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 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.

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 very 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 Home Page “Tricks” to lower your Bounce Rate.

Information Overload = High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

Five "Tricks" to lower your Bounce Rate.In numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website. Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this I mean, displaying it all on the very first page of a website – also known as the landing page.

If you overwhelm your visitors as soon as they arrive on your site, you may find that this overload of information result in a “Bounce Rate”*. 

The key to solving this problem is to remember this simple point at all times: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) to potentially make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

1. A catching headline that includes your keywords.

If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Innisfail.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.

2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do.

Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S.* principle here.

3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right hand corner of the page.

If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both of these can be clicked/tapped.

4. Make your Call to Action very clear.

In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.

5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one).

But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Three Steps to help get your new website noticed.

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

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

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

How are they going to find yours?

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

Step 1 – Get Your Site listed with Google

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

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

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

Step 2 – Engage in “Off Page” SEO

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

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

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

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

Step 3 – On-Page SEO

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

How secure is your WordPress website?

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

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

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

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

1. Update the WordPress Core.

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

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

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

3. Use a secure password.

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

4. Install the WordFence plugin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WordPress 5.0 – Be Ready for a BIG Change

The WordPress framework, which is estimated to have been used to create over 30% of all websites on the internet, hasn’t changed a lot over the years.

WordPress 5.0Even since its invention as a blogging platform and it’s ascension to become the #1 Content Management System (CMS) in the world, the basics of running a site on WordPress has remained essentially the same.

With the release of WordPress 5.0, also known at “Gutenberg”, that is about to change.

Matt Mullenweg, the original developer of WordPress, and his team of loyal developers have recognised that the online world has changed immensely since WordPress 1.0 was launched and they are preparing to introduce a brand-new version featuring some of the biggest changes the CMS has ever seen.

What is Gutenberg?

Regular users of WordPress will be familiar with the visual editor shown below where all the editing for a site’s page takes places in the one “box”. Users add text, columns, images, tables and other standard features straight into this area. For more complex items, the current editor requires used of short codes and customised HTML to make things work.

The release of Gutenberg aims to make this process easier, especially for novice users of WordPress. The new editor “breaks” the site components in smaller blocks, with each fulfilling a different task.

The Gutenberg page editor has blocks pre-configured for text, images, columns and galleries as well as media options such as slideshows, video code and audio. Regular page items such as lists, buttons and subheadings are also included with their own blocks.

Although the changes may be a little daunting to some users, having tested the new layout here at Tropical Coast Web Design, we believe that, after the initial “jump”, the change is going to make everything a whole lot easier.

Will Gutenberg break my existing site?

In most cases, your old site will be fine. The new editor is being created to be backwards compatible however with the vast number of community plugins (which add extra functionality), there is bound to be some issues.

I’m still concerned – how can I check my site will be OK?

There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your site is ready for Gutenberg:

  • Test your current site with the “Gutenberg” plugin. This adds the new editor to your site so you can see how it works and determine whether it affects how the site functions. Any problems – just deactivate the plugin!
  • Turn off Major Updates in your WordPress installation. This will prevent Gutenberg from loading automatically on launch day and you can upgrade to WordPress 5.0 when you are ready to do so.
  • Contact your Web Developer and see if your site is ready for the upgrade. In most cases, developers have already tested their WordPress sites against the new editor and can inform you of any issues that may arise.

If you have any concerns about your website and the new Gutenberg release, please get in touch with Tropical Coast Web Design and we’d be happy to take a look for you. The testing we have undertaken with our own client’s websites has revealed no issues except for the short learning curve of the new page editor.
To help our clients with the switch, we are developing a brand-new Tutorial booklet which will demonstrate to how to use the Gutenberg with easy step-by-step instructions.

Note: Originally set to be released on the 19th November 2018, there is currently no firm date for the release of the Gutenberg update.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business Website

It was once optional for a small business to have a website. Nowadays, having an 24/7 online presence is mandatory to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

But keeping a website current and up-to-date is often hard for a small business. Your employees often have little “spare” time for tasks such as site updates and, as a result, websites can easily be forgotten – left on the “do it tomorrow” pile. Without this required attention, a stagnant site will soon start to repel potential business customers, rather than attract.

Luckily, with a little planning during the development stage (and a regular dedication of time), these problems can be easily avoided and your website can become a strong marketing hub for your small business that doesn’t drain your resources.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteIntegrate a Content Management System (CMS) from Day One

A user-friendly Content Management System allows site owners and managers the ability to update and create new content directly on their websites. By integrating a CMS as the framework for a new website, you are instantly putting yourself into the driver’s seat to control what goes on your site and how “fresh” it stays.

Learning a CMS is not hard either. The basics of WordPress CMS can be learnt in a matter of minutes, as the editing functions are styled like that of a Word Processor. As I often say to new clients – “If you can create a document in Word, then you can update your own website!”

Use a Content Calendar (and stick to it)

A content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) helps to plan out new content for your website or social media feed and details when it will be created. This weekly, monthly or yearly calendar should be an integral part of your business’ overall marketing strategy.

By planning content in advance, you (or whoever manages your website) can commit to producing site-worthy information that is suitable for your target audience. By putting a due date on it and ensuring that date is adhered to, working on your site becomes part of your everyday business schedule.

Automate Site Updates and Customer Interaction

If it is possible to time aside for working on your site’s content, take advantage of tools such as the content scheduling that is built into WordPress. Create five blog posts or page updates at one time then use the schedule to program the dates that you want the content to be released onto your website.

Here’s the secret: this blog post you are reading was one of five that I wrote over a recent weekend. I have set the schedule in WordPress to release one every two weeks. Blog Posts for next 10 weeks – done!

Schedule a Post

Allow an Employee to take ownership of website management

Although small businesses don’t have employees to “spare”, it would be ideal to assign the maintenance and upkeep of the website to one person – a web-savvy employ who could take care of both website and social media posts.

Giving ownership of the site to an employee (with guidance of course) ensures that the site will be monitored and “fed” new content to keep your online customers, and Google, happy.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteGet your Web Developer to care of updates for you

If all else fails and managing your website is just not possible in-house, look to a professional. Many web development companies offer a monthly plan which includes website content updates. Caution though, if you are taking this option, compare the plan price against the everyday (hourly) rate of the company to ensure that you are getting a decent offer.

You will still to need to provide content via email but a professional will get it online, make it look pretty and ensure that it gets the right sort of attention.

As discussed in a previous blog post, an out-of-date website that is uncared for will cost you business. Prospects visiting the site will get a poor first impression and Google won’t care for your site either. With the tips above, your site remains “fresh” and acting as a positive reflection of the small business that it portrays.

How Domain Hijacking can cripple your website

Recently a client of Rusty Mango Design went through the unfortunate experience of having their .com.au domain name “stolen” from underneath their feet. Whilst the domain hijacking was done through legitimate means, the registrant who acquired it had no right to the name itself and it caused disruption as my client’s customers could not access their website for many weeks.

Domain Hijacking sounds like a criminal activity but the actual definition can go both ways.

Wikipedia describes Domain Hijacking as “the act of changing the registration of a domain name without the permission of its original registrant, or by abuse of privileges on domain hosting and registrar software systems, a cybercrime.”

In the case of our client, their domain name had simply lapsed in payment. In Australia, lack of payment doesn’t mean that the name is immediately available for anyone to buy. Even after the due payment for renewal has passed, the business still has 14 days to “pay up” and reacquire their .com.au domain name.

During this 14-day period though, the domain name will appear on the Australian Domain Authority’s (AudA) website as pending expiry and this is where those dubious businesses can swoop it and attempt a hijack. They can set up a domain backorder account through legit means such as GoDaddy and CrazyDomains.  If the payment isn’t forthcoming from the original registrant, the backorder will immediately purchase the domain as soon as it becomes available.

What can you do?

Fortunately, in Australia, our .com.au domains are protected to a certain degree. To register a particular domain, it must have a clear or exact link to the business who is registering it. For example, Rusty Mango Design, who specialise in website design, cannot register a domain name for deckfurniture.com.au – it has nothing to do with our business and, if picked up by the AuDA, we would receive a rap over the knuckles and lose the name with no refund.

It’s important to note that this does not apply to regular .com domain names – that is why it is so important to register the Australian .com.au domains.

Domain HijackIn the case of my client, the domain name was taken and used by a business not related to anything in the domain name itself. At my suggestion, my client quickly contacted the AuDA about the hijacking issue, a brief investigation was undertaken and the domain was released for re-purchase. Rusty Mango Design purchased the domain back on behalf of our client and we were back in business.

The downside was that their business website was out of action for over a month – a long time, especially if you are an online retailer.

To prevent your domain name being taken, be sure that you have automatic payment renewal set up through your domain register and credit card details are current and not likely to expire soon. Your domain register will email you in advance when renewal is upcoming so also check that your registered email address is correct.

Rusty Mango Design registers domain names on behalf of our clients and take care of any automated payments ensuring that domains remain in the hands of their rightful owners.

Domain Hijacking is not the end of the world. If you do have a legitimate claim to the domain name – get in touch with the AuDa and they will investigate the issue on your behalf.

But as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

Five Website Mistakes that might be killing your Conversion Rates

Don't kill your conversion ratesFor the uninitiated, the conversion rate of a website is simply the percentage of visitors who take a desired action on the site. Converted visitors might complete an online form, call the business or make a purchase.

A low conversion rate means that the site is not performing to its optimum ability and it can be caused by several factors. None of these should be caused by the site itself and some can be easily avoided with awareness of UX (user experience) on your website.

Here’s five mistakes that are made regularly in modern websites:

Massive Media Files

Although the NBN is making the internet slightly faster across most of Australia, not everyone has access to a speedy connection with a large download limit. When adding media such as images, sound files, documents and video, be sure to optimise these files so they are an acceptable size for all visitors to your website to download or access.

Hidden Call to Actions

Make it blaringly obvious to your website visitors exactly how you want them to interact with your business.

Don’t hide purchase buttons, make content easy to find and ensure that enquiry forms are accessible with a minimum of searching. Put these items where your customers can expect to find them.

If you are not sure, go and look at other websites to see what is working for them.

Don't kill your conversion ratesSEO-Only Content

Optimising your site for Google is a hard task and it can be tempting to add content purely to push that all important ranking up in search results. Keyword stuffing, hidden links and unnatural anchor text are a few examples of content manipulation that Google frowns upon.

Not only are you risking total removal from Google if you are caught using these content malpractices but the resulting text can be confusing for your site visitors too. Write for your target audience with the correct SEO practices and you will keep Google happy at the same time.

Music when the page loads

No.

Might have been cool in the early 00’s but now it’s an instant page turn-off – just don’t do it.

Pop-up Windows

In my view, there is nothing more annoying than arriving at a website and then, before you can view anything, you are hit with a pop-up window. The goal of a pop-up is to “harvest” email addresses for mailing lists, and the windows works to a degree, but how many site visitors see this intrusion as a red flag and leave the site as a result?

If you are using immediate pop-ups and you have a high bounce rate on the front page of your website, this may be the cause. Try using a less intrusive pop-up on your site (maybe in the corner of the screen) or change the timing so the pop-up appears after a set-time. Another popular alternative is to use a pop-up window as a site visitor tries to leave your website.

There are four key items that are essential to the success of any small business website: content, speed, ease-of-use and an awareness of your target audience. By keeping those items front-of-mind at all times, you should be able to enjoy a high conversion from your site to your business.

Importantly, track your statistics using whatever methods are available (Google Analytics is a champ at this) and, if your site fails to convert, check it against the mistakes above and make the necessary changes. By making consistent tracking part of your website routine, your website can become a major marketing asset for your business.

Why you should ALWAYS use a professional email address!

Why you should ALWAYS use a professional email address!Small business owners are often hesitant to change their existing email addresses when they create their first business website.

The owners argue that the Gmail or Hotmail address that they have been using for the past ten years “still works” and that there is no need to change over.

What these business owners are failing to realise is that the benefits of a professional email address far outweigh any drawbacks they may have and the changeover doesn’t have to be a nightmare either.

Benefit #1 – A PROFESSIONAL email address conveys a PROFESSIONAL image

The generic email addresses from webmail services like Gmail and Hotmail can give a small business the appearance of being a fly-by-night operation and not very serious about how they operate. It can also convey that a business is new, small, or even part time!

A generic email address also doesn’t encourage trust in the brand of your business.

Some prospective clients will simply refuse to share information through to a Gmail or Hotmail account. They want to know that your business is legit and serious enough to engage with.

A professional email address will give you the right branded image to do this.

Benefit #2 – Your own email address makes you easy to REMEMBER.

With so many businesses staking out their claims online, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Think of the number of email addresses that you have in your own professional directories – Can you remember any of the generic ones?

For example – it is much easier to remember bob@cassowarycoastdining.com.au* than bob332521@gmail.com

Let people get in touch easily by being memorable with your own branded business email address.

Benefit #3 – Give your small business a BIGGER image

Having your own professional email address system lets you convey a corporate image regardless of the size of your business.

By setting up multiple email addresses for the various sections of your business, prospective customers will perceive that you are a much larger business than you are and to some of them, bigger IS better.

For example, Cassowary Coast Dining* could use email addresses such as accounts@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, support@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, bookings@cassowarycoastdining.com.au, etc.

Why you should ALWAYS use a professional email address!

Benefit #4 – You can promote your Brand – EVERY time you send an email

By using a professional email address, you get to promote your OWN business every time you send out an email, not Google’s or Microsoft’s. Even if the recipient has never heard of your business before, your email address is an instant way of bringing it to their attention.


For those still hesitant to make the change, the move from generic email to branded email doesn’t have to be an immediate one (nor do we recommend it).

Make the change with these four easy steps:

1. Be sure to make all your customers aware of the new email (a MailChimp Newsletter would be a great way to do this).
2. Continue to monitor incoming emails via the generic platforms of Gmail or Hotmail.
3. All new outgoing emails should be sent via the new email address.
4. Once the incoming emails to the generic addresses have slowed or stopped completely, close those accounts so that they can no longer be used by anyone.

If you are interested in setting up professional email addresses for your business, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design and we’ll work with you throughout the changeover process (and beyond).

* Cassowary Coast Dining is not a real business. Those email addresses are purely for demonstrative purposes.

Tropical Coast Web Design