Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on May 9, 2015
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on April 27, 2015
There is no point undertaking any marketing effort if there is no tangible business reason for doing so. This
applies to social media as much as it does to any other form of marketing. The difference
with social media is that it is easy to get swept up in the hype. For example,
when you hear that a company spends billions of dollars buying a particular
platform, what do you do? Many people will start to think that they should
include that platform as part of their strategy too. But hype rarely reflects
reality. So here are some proper business reasons that make social media
There is a caveat with this first, and it
applies to everything else mentioned in this article. Social media can help you
brand your business or products, but only when you do social media marketing
well. When done poorly it has no impact.
But when you have a good social media
strategy you will get a number of benefits in terms of your efforts to raise
awareness for your brand:
● More people will
see and become aware of your brand
● If you post
regularly you will benefit from repetition, which will help to keep your brand
at the forefront of your customer's minds
● Build strong brand
The final point is one of the most
important as social media has the power to improve the loyalty of your
customers, and to create advocates for your brand. As brand advocates are one
of the best marketing tools you can have, this point alone makes social media
marketing an essential tool for business.
Social media can also help you to directly
increase your conversions. This could be a shop which builds up a fanbase on
Facebook, posts an offer, and sees footfall increase in their shop. It could
also mean increased traffic to your website, or new signups to your email
The key to this is not selling too
strongly when you use social media. Social media is a soft selling tool, where
you engage in a conversation with customers over time, and use subtle selling
and marketing messages at key points to generate conversions.
Social media is also a valuable tool for
customer research. This can take many forms, including crowdsourcing your
questions (e.g., asking your fan base or followers silly or fun questions that
build knowledge about them over time).
But it can also be much more detailed than
this, particularly given the level of user statistics that many social media
platforms offer. You can find out a lot about your users, including their age,
sex, and the type of content that they like.
Search engine rankings
Finally, search engines use social media
signals as one of the factors when deciding on search engine rankings. It looks
at all of the key factors, such as liking and sharing. Exactly how they use
this information to rank your web pages is not exactly known, but pages and
websites that perform well on social media are given a boost in search. It
makes sense, as search engines want to give users the best results. If your
audience finds your content useful on social media and “likes” and shares the
content, it’s a good indicator that people will also find it useful in a search
Social media marketing is beneficial to
businesses when done right. It takes careful planning and a commitment over
time. But real results are possible when content and search are integrated.
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on April 27, 2015
If you are starting a new website, or are thinking about redesigning an existing one, your options are almost endless. You can create almost any design that you want and include just about any feature that you can imagine. But of course, you shouldn't do that. Instead you should design a website that puts your visitors (customers, readers, users) at the center of the process. To achieve that objective there are some dos and don'ts of great website design that you should follow.
Website design is all about doing things well rather than doing them because they can be done. In this respect it is just like cooking - it is about getting the right balance of ingredients and adding them to the mix at just the right time. Of course you can add more cinnamon, curry powder or chilies (not all together, of course!), but doing that usually spoils the dish by overpowering and distracting the person eating. This is exactly what you want to avoid when building a website – don’t put anything on the page that does not enhance the user experience.
Layout and Navigation
This starts with layout and navigation. The buzzwords here are:
- Mobile friendly
- Clutter free
- Easy to navigate
So here are our first dos and don'ts:
Do make your website mobile friendly. This often involves creating two versions of your website, but Homestead has simplified this with Dudamobile.
Do make your website clean and clutter free. And make sure the most important information on your site is visible to the user without them having to scroll.
Do make the navigation intuitive so that your visitors instinctively understand how to get around your website. Enabling them to get to anywhere, from anywhere, within one or two clicks, is the objective.
Don't pack your page to fill the white or blank spaces - space is okay.
Don't make your users scroll horizontally, ever, even on mobile devices.
Don't include hidden navigation or complicated navigation.
Colors, Backgrounds and Buttons
Unless you are a graphic designer this is one of the trickiest elements of designing a website. Most people include colors or backgrounds that they like but which are not suitable for their website for several reasons. Here are some tips.
Do use a template design as your starting point. Graphic designers created the templates on Homestead, for example. This means you will know the colors, backgrounds and buttons all work well together.
Do use buttons that are eye-catching.
Don't go overboard with the colors - simplicity is the key.
Don't choose a background that dominates the screen and detracts from the rest of your content.
Text and Media
All of the tips above have been about presenting your website in a way that is appealing to your users, and doesn't get in their way or cause them difficulties. But they are visiting your website to access your content - so how do you present that properly?
Do use images, but they should be good images. Stock images are okay but they are no substitute to using good quality personal images.
Don't use low resolution images. And remember that some of your users will access your website on retina displays, so make sure you get the quality right.
Do write the text in straightforward language and get to the point - white space is better than rambling text that is not saying anything useful.
Don't exclusively write about you. Of course it always helps to show a piece of your personality in your content. But you don’t want to ramble on about what you’re eating for breakfast (unless you run a diner). Instead aim to solve your customer’s problems, make them feel better, or teach them something. You can talk about you on your About page.
What about the functions that you can put on your website?
Do include social icons, social sharing functionality, and a contact form. If you work from home and want your privacy, you don’t need to add your home address or personal phone number. But make sure that it’s easy for visitors to get in touch and interact with you online.
Don't include flashing, Flash intros and pointless widgets and gadgets like weather updates, or the current time.
Follow these dos and don'ts to create a website that is modern and professional. Your visitors will feel comfortable interacting on it and you’ll feel great about your website design.
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on February 9, 2015
Online directories can help give a big boost to your local marketing strategy when coupled with SEO. They can be used to put your business right in front of the eyes of local searchers on the web and in social media. How do you achieve this?
Local business directory submissions are a sure way to stand out from the crowd. Online listings make up over 90 percent of Internet searching. They can greatly improve your website’s visibility in an increasingly populated arena. If you have a new company website, or want to take your reach to the next level, let’s talk about the benefits of targeted business directories.
There are several steps you must take to optimize your website for local search and to maximize the potential to attract attention of local searchers. It is also necessary to make the major search engines aware of your local listing. In addition to online directories, you should also make use of social networking to maximize exposure to your site, products and services and to the local community.
1. Provide Contact Details on Your Site
You should not only provide contact details on your website, but also your geographical location. This means your address! Many folks are reluctant to publish such information, but if you want to use local search and online directories, it is essential.
- Contact Details: Provide your postal address and contact telephone number on every page, whether you run a blog or a regular website. This offers two benefits for you: search engines can detect that yours is a local business (which does not detract from your national or international exposure) and visitors can easily find your address and your contact details. It is also important to make sure that your details are in a format that search engines can read (e.g. are not a screenshot, included as part of a logo or as any other form of an image.)
- A Page for Each Location: If your business has multiple locations, then you should create a web page for each of these. For example, if you have branches in Alabama, New York, and California, you should have one page for each of these, providing contact details and a map showing its location. (More on maps later on in this article.)
- Publish a 'Contact' Page: Google gives ranking points for Contact pages; Additionally, many people look for contact pages when they want to get in touch with you. A Contact page will contain your email address, telephone number, postal address and any other contact details for each of your locations.
2. Put a Google Map on Your Site
Google Maps and Google Earth are what are known as 'Earth Browsers' that can accommodate text files based on the tag-based XML structure. You can learn how to embed a simple map and driving directions on the Google Maps site. If you are not interested in having a regular Google Map on your site, but simply want the location of your business to be highlighted on a 'local map', use can use Google Places, which is described below.
3. Claim Your Listing on the Main Search Engines
- First create a Google account if you do not already have one. You can do that from the Google home page. If you use Google Webmaster Tools, or have Gmail or Google+, then you already have a Google account.
- Go to Google Places - login to your Google Account from there and make sure your address details are correct. Then click to receive a PIN. When your PIN arrives (usually by postcard) enter it and you will have claimed that location for your business. Make sure you edit the account so that all details are correct.
- Create a Yahoo account if you don't have one. Go to Yahoo's local listings page and sign up.
- Enhanced listings cost $9.95/month but offer you the opportunity to include promotional links, 10 photographs and a much more comprehensive business description (3,000 characters.) This is only worth paying if you believe Yahoo to be a significant player in onlinesearches for your type of business. Once you have made your listing on Yahoo (enhanced or not), click on 'Enhance Your Listing' and add the necessary details.
- If you do not yet have a business listing visible on the Bing Local Listings pages, then create one on the Bing Business Portal. Follow the simple instructions to create your local business listing.
4. Create Listings on Local Online Directories
When you query a search, such as 'San Francisco Restaurants,' on a specific local online directory such as Yelp, that directory will provide every San Francisco restaurant that is listed in Yelp. When you carry out the same search on Google, you will find the Google Places listings in the top local results, plus you may also find the most relevant Yelp results in the general listings.
Therefore, not only do online directories enable you to make the best use of local marketing, but you can also get listings on major search engines such as Google. However, the Google search algorithm can read your IP address, and will offer listings more relevant to your geographic situation.
For business owners who are interested in improving their online presence but feel as though they don’t have the time or expertise to do so, there are excellent and affordable local directory listing services offered by Homestead. This allows business owners to save hundreds of hours of labor learning how to list their business in the most effective directories and also ensures the consistency and accuracy of the listings created
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on January 14, 2015
Search engines work by using algorithms to evaluate websites by search query and relevance. This evaluation structures pages in an index, which ultimately results in displaying the best possible ranking of the results displayed.
Google has grown increasingly more sophisticated with its ranking algorithm, and has added a host of new variables that affect how your site ranks in an individual’s Google search results page.
Here are the variables –
- Search History:A user’s search results page can vary depending on what websites they’ve visited in the past
- Site Architecture: links from other websites are a very important signal for Google’s ranking algorithm
- Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumb navigation is a technique that not only works to improve the user experience, but is also appealing to search engines—and can even help boost your organic ranking
- Loading Time: A poor performing site results in a poor user experience, and sites with poor user experiences deserve less promotion in a search result
- Social Media: If a user’s friends +1ed a page. Google gives preferences to endorsement of friends
Four Ways to improve your Site’s Ranking (SEO)
The descriptions entered into meta tags are not worth a lot in most search engine algorithms, but the meta text is still often displayed under the page title in the search engine results. Write your meta tags to include some keywords without being hard-to-read. Also make sure the text is informative, engaging, and representative of the content on your page, to encourage people to click and stay.
When adding pictures to your blog post, try to find original pictures that are meaningful, not just pretty. Then add very descriptive alt text to the pictures, as well as descriptive file names. This can help your pictures be ranked higher in image searches, where it is often easier to rank for a high-quality term.
Alt text is also useful outside of search engines, as people with screen readers or other specialty devices cannot view or access the images, but can find the text.
Search engines give more weight to terms appearing in header tags within your text. Make sure your subheadings are literal and descriptive, and format them using Header 1, 2, and 3 tags instead of just making them bold. Remember that you can use CSS to format header tags to look however you want, but they still communicate importance to search engines no matter how they look.
Don’t forget to include a few high-quality links in your body text. You can link to relevant posts internally, and you can also link to other great sites. It’s good to affiliate yourself with similar sites by linking to them.
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on January 14, 2015
You’ve added content to your website, uploaded your product list and are now open for business. One question you keep asking is should I invest in paid search, and if so how much? Or should I invest my time and grow organically. Let’s dissect and analyze this way you will have an understanding and will be able to make a decision on how to start your time and money wisely.
Before we dissect organic and paid, lets pick a search engine where our search will appear whether it’s a paid listing or and an organic one. How often have you heard the phrase “Google it”? Upon close examination, you will see that Google is most powerful in search and a “clear leader” on successful search rates, with a 91 percent successful search rate. Bing’s percentage of successful searches equates to around 76 percent.
Organic search results appear based on an algorithm that’s used by the search engine; paid search is just that – Ad links that come from advertising dollars appear on the top and the side of a search engine page.
Paid search is easily measurable. Conversions on your site have a direct correlation to the amount you bid for a keyword, the relevance of your Ad description and the quality score of your Ad. There are a lot of factors on how an ad appears when searched for a keyword and I will cover this in another topic on how to build effective Ads.
Organic results are search engine results that are returned by indexing pages based on relevant content and keywords. Getting your pages to appear high up in organic results is a combination of relevant page content, proper title tags, keywords and meta tags – all parts of proper SEO. Here are a list of SEO techniques that can help you build organic traffic and rank higher in SERP.
Growing originally takes time and requires patience. Google uses complex ranking algorithms to determine which websites will be listed nearest the top of the page. These algorithms consider more than 200 individual factors about a given web page automatically when determining whether or not to include it in the results that are displayed to the user. And while Google and the other engines never reveal the inner workings of their algorithms, savvy online marketers have uncovered many of these different factors through the process of experimentation – revealing a series of techniques that can be implemented both on and off a site to make it more attractive to the search engines’ indexing programs.
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on October 20, 2014
You’ve heard of Yahoo Small business, Bing Places and Google My Business, all 3 promise results and indeed its crucial to list your small business with these search engine directories. Hundreds of millions of consumers turn to these search engine giants every day. There is no doubt that Google is the largest player in search. Businesses know that appearing in Google search results is a key step in getting found by consumers around them.
Back in the day it was all about using the right tags and keywords on your site so that Google could pick it up. SEO consultants relied on webmaster tools to fetch and render your site to a top Google listing for a few thousand bucks, and many could deliver for about 60 seconds until your site gets pushed to the 5th or 6th page of this search engine. Keeping your site on page one of the search engine is a never-ending process, an ongoing commitment of dollars and resources, a continuing evolvement of keywords, online activity, back linking, social media activity and a thousand other ways so your site gets relevance from Google and stays on page 1.
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a variety of tools, including Google places and Google + Local. Now, Google is simplifying those tools with a new offering for businesses called Google My Business Locations.
This unified interface has made it easier for businesses to edit their their physical address, share news and updates with customers, respond to reviews and discover how customers review your business. Your business listing can be created by following this link.
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on October 6, 2014
Google Analytics is a service provided by Google that generates detailed information on site traffic and sources which results in measuring conversions. What kinds of information, you ask? Well, for starters, Google Analytics can show you where your visitors are coming from, what actions have they taken on your site and how long have they stayed on your site before leaving.
Basically, when you first build your website, you make a lot of assumptions. You assume that the copy you write and the images you choose will be the most engaging options for your target visitors. And you assume that the product benefits and call to action text you’ve chosen to feature are as compelling as possible and will result in the most possible sales.
But the problem with making these assumptions is that you’re just one person, with an insider’s view of your product or service. And what you feel is most important to selling or converting leads on your website might not resonate with what your target customers want to see or hear.
To bridge the gap, smart marketers use data-driven decision making based on actual numbers – not assumptions. When you use web analytics and split testing in order to find out exactly how people respond to the different elements on your site, you’re able to maximize conversions and increase sales with changes that are based on facts
Sounds pretty cool, right? Let’s look at a few of the specific ways you can use this program to make decisions about changes to your site. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you already have the program installed, but if you need guidance in this area, check out the Google Analytics “Getting Started Guide.”
Once you’ve logged into your Google Analytics Dashboard, you’ll see a few things right off the bat:
- A graphical representation of the number of visits to your site over the last month,
- More specific details about your site usage,
- A map representing the locations of visitors to your site, and
- An overview of both your most popular traffic sources and content pages.
And while there are tons and tons of different things you can do with this information, let’s stick with the data that can be most easily translated into actionable website improvements for website owners.
So for starters, go ahead and click on the “All Traffic” link under “Acquisition link
Here you’ll notice where your traffic is generating from. On the next screen, you’ll see more information about the sites that send you traffic, including a breakdown of your top traffic sources and the keywords people are using to access your site. There are two things you can do with this information – find related sites and uncover new keywords.
Next, click back to your All Traffic to review the sources that generate traffic. Many website owners find that their sites are receiving traffic from keywords they’d never considered targeting, so this portion of the Google Analytics dashboard can be a goldmine! If you notice keywords that you aren’t actively targeting sending you traffic, consider adding content to your site that targets these keywords in order to secure an even higher SERPs ranking.
Using these techniques can help you to improve the flow of targeted traffic to your site, but that’s not all Google Analytics can do for you. To learn more about how your visitors are engaging with your content navigate to the “Site Content” section by clicking on the relevant tab in the left-hand navigation menu.
Again, there are a few things you can do here. First, take a look at your Top Content pages, by clicking on “View Full Report” under the summary section. This will expand into a list of the most popular pages on your site – if your site is small, the default view of ten results may include all of your pages.
Take a good look at this information to check for any pages with either a significantly higher bounce rate or a lower average time on site. Either of these signals could be an indication that the people who are arriving on these pages aren’t finding what they’re looking for. Consider going back through your content on these poorly-performing pages and looking for ways to make them more engaging for your visitors.
Yes, this summary represents only the most basic of overviews into the full power of the Google Analytics program. As you become more comfortable with the platform, you’ll want to take advantage of more advanced features that allow you to set and manage goals, as well as track the monetary impact of any changes you make. With time, you’ll find that using data-driven decision making in order to drive the changes on your website results in some significant improvements to your bottom line!
Also Posted in :« Go Back | Posted in: - on September 22, 2014
Millions of dollars (and yen, and Euros) are paid online every day, and signals show that the rate of online purchases will only grow in the coming years. Clearly, you want your ecommerce site to be included in this growth. But customers will continue to expect better experiences as ecommerce establishes itself more and more as a viable industry. Help your site to get to the head of the pack with these usability tips.
A clean design is a great way to gain people’s trust. Once they start reading your site, display every sign that you are an authentic business, including a street address, phone number, and clear return and complaints policies. Display the logos of organizations your business is a part of, like the Better Business Bureau, or payment systems that people are familiar with, like PayPal. Have an SSL certificate to ensure that customer information is as securely transmitted as possible, and use an authentication service like VeriSign. Do we link to how to get it?
Your site needs to be quick. Some users might find exactly what they want and check out instantly, but online shopping can turn into window shopping quite easily, and you will lose their attention if your site can’t keep up with the speed that someone is clicking through its inventory. Make sure that thumbnails and other images are no larger than necessary, but large enough to encourage a closer look.
Use an inventory management system, so that every item online is marked accurately as being in stock or out-of-stock. Don’t frustrate users who order something and wait for it to arrive, only to discover that it was not available at the time of purchase. Updating the site by hand isn’t fast enough anymore, so set up a system that can grow with your business.
Find it all
Let your customers search and group your products by category or feature. Make sure search is an option, too, and have the most robust search capabilities possible. If users search for something and can’t find it, they could easily give up and look somewhere else instead of digging a little deeper.
Up close and personal
Customers don’t get to try on your products before they buy them, so make your website the next best thing. Include high quality photos from multiple angles, a detailed and accurate report of the condition of the item, and even incorporate customer reviews. Measurements, compatibility information, and other technical details should be presented clearly.
Give more information
Knowing that people are looking at one item in your ecommerce store might help you suggest other upsells. Include a related products section, or make personalized recommendations. You could even link to your corporate blog, if you post reviews or comparisons of different products.
Let people know about additional costs, like shipping or tax, before they are checking out. If the costs can’t be calculated exactly before the transaction is complete, show an approximate cost, or let people use a “shipping calculator” to see how much it would cost to send the item to a specific place.
Enable users to create an account, but don’t force them to. Setting up a secure account encourages people to come back and make purchases more easily later – but setting up an account can also be an annoying deterrent for first-time customers. Split the difference by making account creation simple, but letting users check out without an account if they would like. This is also a great place to offer access to future deals through a newsletter.
Can users pay with PayPal? What about all the different credit card brands? Can you display the price in a different currency? Be as accommodating as possible – after people decide they want to spend their money, don’t give them an excuse not to.
Keep it simple
Checkout needs to be simple and predictable. Test to find the right balance between long pages and a large number of them. Make sure all required fields are marked, and any special instructions are clear and concise. Even little things add up, like letting customers navigate between fields by using ‘Tab.’
Of course, this usability tip needs no explaining – the more that you can watch actual customers in action and ask them what could be improved, the more you can tailor your site to the needs of the people using it.
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