Archive for the ‘Website Content’ Category

Three Key Reasons Why Fresh Content is critical for your website

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Three Key Reasons Why Fresh Content is critical for your websiteThere is nothing more frustrating for a website visitor to come calling on a business site and find that the website is filled with out-of-date content.

Business prospects are instantly “turned off” any chance of actually becoming clients of the business and current clients will quickly become frustrated at the lack of online support for products and services.

In an age where consumers expect to have information available right at their fingertips, an out-of-date website with poor content could easily mean the difference between success and failure, both online and offline. Here’s three key reasons you should keep your website up to date and “fresh”:

Send the right message to your prospects

As the saying goes, “First Impressions Count”, and your prospects want to be impressed. An old website with content that is no longer relevant to them sends out the wrong message immediately and says to the prospective customer “we can’t be bothered to update our website and we put the same amount of effort into the rest of our business” (even though this may not be true).

Try to hook potential customers with engaging information, tutorials, videos, product demonstrations or free downloads all about the products or services that you want to sell them. This attention to detail will pay off in “bucket-loads” as they realise you are serious about what you do and that your business is the one they want to work with.

Provide your customers with the support they expect

Your current customers deserve to be looked after as well. You want them to return time and time again and this is possible with the 24/7 support that a well-structured website can give them. If they have problems outside (or inside) your business hours with your products or just need to find out how to use them effectively, your website can do this with downloadable how-to sheets, videos, customer forums and help desks.

In a generation where everyone is looking online for what they need – your website needs to be supportive environment where YOUR CUSTOMERS can get what they need – when they want it!

Google!

Not only is a freshly contented website good for impressing prospects and helping customers, it is also very good for the website itself. Google’s search ranking algorithm has a special fondness for sites with updated, relevant content, promoting sites with these higher on search results.

Once ranked, Google re-visits your site every few weeks and checks the content it finds against the content from its last visit. If it finds the same old information each time, you will see that your business website will begin to drop down in search rankings – possibly below that of your competitors.

A new article in your blog, added photos in a gallery or testimonials from customers are easy to add and make Google “happy” with your website.

As you can see, it isn’t too hard to keep your website “fresh”. Simply dedicate a few minutes each week (or day if you can) to adding new information that is relevant to the customers that you have and the ones you want to attract. Integrate a website content plan into your everyday business operations and reap the benefits as your online visitors begin to see your business as passionate, supportive and above all, operating with your finger on the pulse of your industry.

How to Revitalise a Boring Website for the New Year

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New Years ResolutionsThe New Year always feels the right time to make changes – either in our own personal lives or in what we do throughout the year.

Some people resolve to lose weight, others want to quit a bad habit and some might just want to be better with their finances. It’s a perfect time to hit the “reset” button and start over with whatever we want to achieve.

So why not put together a News Year’s Resolution for your weary small business website?

There’s no better time than the present to take that old, tired website and give it a little bit of “love and commitment”. It’s not hard to breathe new life into a dead website and give your target audience what they need – an easy way to find and engage with your business.

Commit the time to make it WORK

Contrary to the belief of some small business owners, a website is not a guaranteed magic bullet for business success. Too many people believe that once a site is online, everything else will happen by “natural” causes. Nothing could be further from the truth – your site may not even be noticed by Google if you don’t put some effort in to get some attention.

Set aside a small chunk of your time each day (or a larger chunk each week) and commit yourself to making your site a success. The amount of time is up to you but this time should be spent on creating new content for your visitors, optimising your site for search engines, gathering customer testimonials for display or any range of website-related tasks. Try something new every week.

Get Some Inbound Love

Inbound LoveIf your site is low on inbound traffic, use your existing industry connections to turn it around in 2017.

You can reach out to your connections in a variety of ways: – through your blog (as we do every couple of weeks), your social media promotions, viral videos (with your web address clearly displayed), email newsletters or even your local newspaper. Anywhere there is an opportunity to create a connection.

Whatever the method you choose – the end-goal is always to boost the online traffic heading into your website so be sure to provide an inbound link in each situation.

Add Value for your Visitors

Once you’ve got visitors coming to your site (inboard), the trick is to keep them satisfied and make them want to return again and again.

The key to this step is answering this simple question – “Why are they coming?”

Nine times out of ten your visitors will be looking to somehow engage with your business. They will be looking for help on using your services, or maybe some more information on your products or, our favourite, just wanting to make a purchase?

Once you have worked out why customers are coming to your site, the next bit is simple –
Give ‘em what they want!

Freshen up that tired old site.

Freshen up that tired old siteThe final step in giving your website a new lease on life in 2017 involves stepping back and taking a cold-hard look at the current state of your site.

Use these questions as a guide: –

  • Does my site look like it belongs to a previous decade (maybe the 90’s)?
  • Is the site “responsive” to viewing on tablets and smart phones?
  • Are my key offerings easy to access and immediately identifiable?
  • Does my business brand match my online presence?
  • Do I offer helpful content to my site visitors? Do I give them value?
  • Can people find my website?

Providing the solution to each of these questions and implementing them on your website will put your site in a prime position for online success in 2017.

Good Luck and Happy New Year!

If your small business website needs any help to make your New Year’s Resolution a reality, get in touch with us at Rusty Mango Design and let’s make 2017 the best year for your website yet!

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website Needs

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Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsCreating a small business website is a daunting task for anyone who has very little or no online experience. Even the smallest bit of research will unleash a whole range of techno-jargon and online marketing advice from all angles – enough to make anyone’s head spin.

To avoid this overload of information, a new site should be treated like a V8 Supercar heading out to the track for the first time. It must be built on a solid framework but will be constantly tweaked throughout its life span into an efficient, customer-converting machine.

To provide this solid framework, there are five essential items that must be taken into consideration from day one:

#1 An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu

The menu system of the site must be easy to find on the page, simple to understand and uncluttered in appearance. Refine the main options (those visible straight away) down to the bare necessities and “drop-down” menus should be used to display any extras that need to be accessed during a visitor’s time on the website.

#2 An “About Us” Page

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsIt’s been found that today’s online consumer likes to “connect” with businesses before they purchase products or engage services.  A good “About Us” page should be jargon-free and clearly display who you are, where your business has evolved from and why it exists now. Once again, keep to the essentials but at the same time, don’t leave any important information out.

Be sure to also include a “Contact Us” page on the site with a contact form that sends directly to the site manager’s email.

#3 Helpful, free content

Another way to create a connection with your customers to provide helpful content that will improve the way they interact with your products and services. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including FAQ pages, videos, customer forums and downloadable PDFs. By adding high-quality free content to your site, visitors are more likely to return in the future to what else you have to offer them.

#4 Customer Testimonial Page

Whilst writing your own content will go a long way towards selling your products and services to site visitors, nothing works better than testimonials from your current customers.

Select a few satisfied clients that you have worked with and send them a friendly email requesting a short description of their experiences with your business. You may be surprised how quickly you will receive a response from them – most people love to reward good service.

#5 A Clear Call-To-Action

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsEverything above counts for nothing if you don’t provide a quick, easy to find Call-To-Action (CTA) somewhere prominent on your site. The CTA is the method by which a site visitor chooses to become a customer. For example, on a motel’s website, a “Make a Booking” button provides as the Call-To-Action. On an eCommerce site, you’ll find a shopping trolley icon marked “Checkout”.

The CTA may be different for each business but the rules for displaying them are the same – it must be eye-catching, clearly defined and be designed in such a way to encourage interaction.

Without a Call-To-Action, a website quickly becomes an online brochure.

Conclusion

There are loads of other elements that help make a successful website that converts visitors to customers. These five items will allow you to create a solid framework from which to build the remainder of your site.

In future blog posts, we will cover some of the extras that will add even further value to your site and help to build your business in both brand and bottom line.

For help getting your small business website off the ground, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ve been working with small business since 2007.

5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer

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main-imageBuilding a website for your small business should not be a spur of the moment decision.

And yet, as a website developer, I often meet new clients who have decided to build a website for their business but they haven’t yet considered how that site is going to improve their business.

Some still view a website as an online business card and, as I’ve covered in my blog posts before, a website can be so much more if it is planned and implemented correctly. The key to this effectiveness is carefully-considered planning – at every stage along the line.

Before picking up the phone or emailing a web designer for the first time, there are a few key questions that need your attention to ensure that the website development stages are quick and the final website is more effective when it is launched.

 

#1 What is the Key Objective of the Website?

Very simply, in as fewer words as possible (one sentence if possible), write down a measurable objective for your business website. This single sentence will guide everything else that happens along the way to development your site. The measurement is usually written as a percentage.

i.e. Increase the Monthly Sales of XYZ company by 20%

 

 5 Key Points you NEED to effectively brief your Web Designer#2 Who is the target audience?

With point #1 clearly in mind, now look at what kind of site visitor is going to make that measurable objective possible.

Who will be looking for your products/services? Where are they? How old are they? What gender?

Be as specific as you can – this information will help your designer plan and style your site.

i.e. 18 to 60-year-old men interested in recreational fishing around the North QLD area.

 

#3 What kind of content will your audience be seeking at your site?

After identifying the audience that you want to attract to your site, grab a pencil and paper to map out the type of content that these potential customers will respond do. Will they want to read text blogs like this or would they respond better to video or imagery? Maybe a mixture would work best?

What kinds of information / products / services will they be seeking from you and, most importantly, what information do you want them to have about you and your business?

i.e. Information about the latest estuarine fishing equipment, videos on how it is used, fact sheets on where the fishing are biting….

 

fish

#4 What are your competitors doing online?

Get this information in conjunction with point #1 – Get online and see what your competitors are doing with their websites. Google all relevant information regarding your target audience. Your top competitors will generally be at the head of the list – What kinds of content are they using? What appeals to you on their sites? What doesn’t?

Although your web developer should do this research as well, it will be highly beneficial to you as your website takes shape and you know what you are aiming for.

 

#5 What timeframe do you have to complete the site?

Armed with the knowledge that designers work better when given a timeframe (I know I do), when you want to launch your site to the world? Keep in mind, you must be able to “hold up” your end of the bargain and ensure that you can provide the content that the site requires for launch. Even the most experienced developer will baulk at a proposed launch date if they don’t have the content for the site.

 

Conclusion

By having the above planning completed/documented before contacting a designer, you will also be able to brief them clearly and then ascertain whether they can do the job at hand.

Don’t leave your small business’ website goals up to the designer. Remember that no-one knows your business better than you.

Have you got all the above planning done and are ready to go ahead and contact a designer?
Get in touch with Rusty Mango Design on 0488 406 050 and we will work with you all the way (and even beyond) to a great, customer converting website for your small business.

Five Steps to Writing Great Blogposts that ENGAGE

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The key to writing blogposts is consistencyA Blog post is a great way to create fresh content for your website and a fantastic way to demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry. By producing helpful posts on a regular basis for your website audience, you can build a dedicated following who will often revisit your site just to see what you have written next. Another benefit of blogging is that your website content remains fresh and everyone knows that Google loves “fresh” sites in its search results.

Several clients of Rusty Mango Design have recently started writing blogs on their sites to build their online influence so we thought it’s a perfect time that we share the process we go through to write an engaging blog post.

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Once you start down the blogging pathway, you’ll find that ideas for new posts are continually popping into your head. Be sure to write each one down (I write mine on post-it notes) and store them in your ideas folder.

These ideas must be relevant to your target audience and they must be helpful and/or solve a problem.

Once you have a selection of ideas in your folder, choose one and move onto Step 2.

Step 2: Research – What do others have to say on the Topic?

Get online and see what other experts in your field are saying about your chosen topic. I don’t suggest that you plagiarise but doing some simple research will help galvanise your own thoughts and get you ready to write your own piece on the subject.

My Mindmap - its messy but it works....Step 3: Create a Mindmap

Next, use a simple mind map to pour out your key ideas for the post. The mind map for this very blog article is shown on the right.

Write your topic in the centre and branch out in all directions with the various points on that topic – it’s amazing how the ideas start to flow once you start. Feel free to scribble down anything that pops into your head.

Step 4: Start Writing but use your Own Voice

Start writing your posts using each of the various points from your mind map. Expand on each point but don’t go too overboard – stick to the basic K.I.S.S. principle here (Keep It Simple Stupid). Waffling on will lose your audience.

Be sure to speak the words out load as you type (be ready for some weird looks from your co-workers here). Your text should reflect the way that you speak – your audience wants to hear from you, not some academic lecturer.

Finally, use a timer (I use a Pomodoro Timer App on my phone). This keeps you focussed on writing and prevents your blog post from consuming your entire day.

Step 5: Create a Summary and a Headline that HOOKS

Create a short summary/excerpt of your blog article to post onto Social Media (Facebook and LinkedIn are my choice) – this is much easier to do straight up after you have written the blog post. Don’t wait and do it later or you may lose the flow of your topic.

Finally, the headline of your post is essential to hooking the attention of your potential readers. Just like the headline in a newspaper, it needs to make the reader want to find out more. Headlines are an art form in themselves. Joanna Wiebe at CopyHackers has written an excellent article on this very topic: 5 Criteria for Writing Powerful Headlines: https://copyhackers.com/2013/09/writing-powerful-headlines/

Conclusion

By following the simple steps above and getting in the practice of writing a blog post on a regular basis, you will find that ideas will soon start to flow easily from your head onto your screen. Keep at it too – the helpful content you produce will be a great addition to your online arsenal, confirming to all your potential clientele that you are an expert in your field and your business deserves their custom.

Five Internet Strategies that could save your Small Business

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Let’s be clear from the very beginning – using the internet for small business is NOT the guaranteed golden bullet solution to all your problems. The addition of an online presence will not automatically turn your fortunes around. Running your own website, engaging customers on social media and selling products online takes effort and hard-work – as will all the strategies outlined in this post.

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

Below, there are five online strategies outlined that your business can employ to help raise awareness of your business and its offerings and, most importantly, boost that bottom line.


#1. Boost your Facebook Posts

Facebook BOOSTEver seen the big BOOST button on your Facebook page?

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

For example, our local dance shop is selling Fascinators for the upcoming races in town. With Facebook BOOST advertising, they can target:

Women, who like Fashion, and live within 50 miles* of the town, in the 18-50 age group

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

* Not a typo – Facebook, an American company, measures in miles regardless of your location.


#2. Build an eCommerce Store

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

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

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


#3. Provide 24/7 Customer Service

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

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

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

 

 


#4. Plan and maintain a Content Marketing strategy

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

How do you create an effective Content Management Strategy?

  • Decide on your content mediums according to your strengths and your target audience (Blog, videos, podcasts, newsletters….)
  • Generate a plan in calendar format which includes the dates, topics and mediums for the creation of your content. This includes social media updates and blog posts.
  • Stick to the plan – consistency is the key to success!
  • Monitor your traffic to gauge the success of each item. This will give you valuable information in relation to what is working and what isn’t.

#5. Give Email Marketing a try

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

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

Using MailChimp (and common sense), you can create an email campaign that drives business to your website and your physical store:

  • Use a pop-up plugin on your website to acquire email addresses from your site visitors. Some of these can be set up to send collected addresses directly to MailChimp.
  • Create list of your existing customer’s emails. Excel is a good way to do this as you can import spreadsheets to MailChimp.
  • Using one of the many templates, create your first email newsletter. Re-purpose some of the content that you have created for your site – blog entries are perfect for this!

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


Conclusion

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

Feeling a little overwhelmed? If your business needs help developing any of the strategies above, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design – we love to help small business!

How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)

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How to be there for your customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)Sit back for a moment and think of a business that you deal with regularly – one that you enjoy returning to time after time. Now, delving a little deeper, why do you go back to that particular business each time? Is it just for the price of the goods and services?

Chances are (with the exception of the big chain stores), it’s not – you go back for their customer service.

At the end of the day, businesses are often not remembered by the goods and services they provide. They are remembered for the helpfulness of their customer service and the promptness with which it is given.

To the small business owner, time is always valuable and providing a customer service that is high quality, helpful and prompt can take a fair chunk of this time. Fortunately, with the right systems in place, you can provide this level of service through your website.


Here’s five website-based systems that could work for your business:

The Helpdesk

Easy to install on most content management systems, a helpdesk provides a simple form for customers to complete which is sent directly via email to the business. With this system, unless you have staff available 24/7, be sure to indicate on your site the hours that the form will be supported. Outside of these hours, link the Helpdesk straight to the FAQ (see below).

Example: https://www.zendesk.com/

LiveChat

A very popular option, this system incorporates a small pop-up chat window (usually in the lower right of the website screen) that is answered by the business’ staff. When staff are not available (i.e. serving customers in a physical store), most live-chat systems will display a message asking the visitor to leave a question that will be answered ASAP.

Example: http://www.signatureclothing.com.au/

Troubleshooting Guides

These guides can come in a variety of forms, the most popular being factsheets and tutorial videos. Without taking valuable time to answer the same question from a multitude of customers, a guide can help the customer work through the problem themselves. A great example of troubleshooting guides can be found at the front counter of any Bunnings store with their variety of how-to pamphlets.

Example: https://www.telstra.com.au/webforms/cares/

FAQ (Frequently Answered Questions)

Similar to the troubleshooting guides above, the FAQ of a website can be built over time to answer those questions that pop-up repeatedly. With a FAQ, you only have to answer it once and that answer is then available to anyone with the same question in the future. An additional part of an FAQ can include a “smart” form that starts looking for an answer as you begin to type – like Google does when you start to search.

Example: https://vimeo.com/help/faq

Community Forum

Provided you can generate a “following” for your products and services, a forum is great for customers to start helping each other. Users can post questions and they can be answered by either other forum members or members of staff that are available. Once a forum starts “rolling” along, they can be very effective in generating a “tribe” of followers for a business.

Example: http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php


Start small and build your support system over time using the questions that you hear every day. By using actual customer enquiries, you can answer exactly what your cliental needs to know without having to re-invent the content yourself. And by simply setting aside a small amount of time each day/week, you can build a resource that will not only save you time and money but can help your customers even while you sleep.

Note: If you opt to use the non-automated systems such as LiveChat and Helpdesk, your staff must ensure that answers are provided as soon as humanly possible, especially with LiveChat where a customer may be waiting for the answer.

Information Overload = High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

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Information OverloadIn 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 – known as the landing page.

In a recent blog post I mentioned Google Analytics which is an excellent tool for tracking and reporting on website traffic. One of the key statistics from Google Analytics is the “bounce rate*” for the site on which it is installed.  If your site overwhelms visitors with the information displayed on that first page, then you may find that your bounce rate is quite high.

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) and maybe 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.

Website Imagery – More important than ever!

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Imagery can make or break your siteWeb design has come a long way since 1991 when a man called Tim Berners-Lee created the first text-only pages of the World Wide Web. In those days, web pages were drab and boring as the technology and slow download speeds didn’t allow for anything else.

There is no such excuse in 2015. A majority of the world has access to high-speed broadband and with that, multimedia websites with video, images and sound are common place. Browsing the web has become a total sensory experience in many ways and text is taking a back seat. The imagery that we see on a website can often determines the success or failure of our interactions with that site. “A picture is worth a 1000 words” has never been a truer statement.

Why are images so powerful for a website?

  • Hot spot analysis shows that images are the very first thing a visitor sees on a website. Text is a distant second!
  • One solitary image can determine the emotion and tone of the website, even before the visitor reads a single word.
  • Visitors like to click on image links more than simple text links. For example, a user will more likely click on a product image to make a purchase rather than the words underneath.
  • Visitors like to share what they find on the web with their friends and it is much more likely that they will LIKE an image to share on Facebook or PIN onto Pinterest.

Pointing with images drives attention to the textUsing images has distinct benefit to a website:

  • Site analysis has shown that images increase the average number of pages visited within a site, reducing bounce time and keep visitors longer.
  • 60% of consumers are more willing to consider local businesses that include images on their websites.
  • ALT tags (the labels that pop-up when you float your mouse over an image) help to improve the general SEO on your site. Google scans these each time it visits your website.
  • Online store products with effective imagery have a much improved chance of product sale than those without.

Message: Don’t Skimp on the Imagery

It’s always evident when a business skimps on images for its website. Even if the text content is compelling and the “call to action” actually works, the whole site can be let down by poor quality imagery. Conveying an emotion is one of the most important parts of a business web design – you want the site visitor to “feel” something towards your brand. You may want to generate excitement through action shots, warmth through family images or compassion for emotional situations around the world.

Creating this emotion is the hardest part. Only well-framed and purposeful imagery has the strength to convey emotion which will affect nearly everything else on the page.

Now to get on my soapbox: Only a professional photographer (or at the very least an experienced amateur) has the experience to capture these images. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a couple of shots taken on a smart phone will have the same effect. Shots taken by your employees often won’t meet the bill either.

If you have contracted a web designer to build your small business site, than you have made a serious dollar investment that will ultimately benefit your business. Don’t hamper that investment by reverting to using poor quality images on your site. Outlay a few extra dollars (do a little research, it’s often cheaper than you think) and hire a professional photographer to create the emotions that your site needs for its success.

Your site will be better for it!

Week 8 of 52 – Blog Posts: How to build an Audience for your Blog

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Build an audience for your BlogAs I plan for these blog posts, I try to focus on the issues and questions of my clients to keep the content as relevant as possible. This is so that they can visit each week and, hopefully, take a small gem of marketing information away utilise on their sites. This week however, I’ve been actually looking into a topic for my own business’ benefit. But as I looked into it, I realised that there might be something here for everyone – so please read on….

If you have been following Rusty Mango Design either via our blog posts or Twitter / Facebook feeds, you will be aware that I am currently undertaking a 52 week blog post challenge. And it is going along swimmingly at the moment – haven’t missed one (yet). The only problem is that only a small number of visitors to my site are actually reading it. Hence the topic of this week’s post – how do I get more people to visit my blog?

I was sure that I wasn’t the only blogger with this problem so I undertook some research on Google. The results of that research I have compiled below in the form of some tips that I will be personally to try and build the blog audience I am looking for.

Tip 1: Optimise your Blog for SEO

Many bloggers are not aware that the information they impart in their blog posts can be directly linked to their site’s ranking in the various search engines – including Google. Each blog post is another page for the engines to index. This means that the more posts you create on topics relevant to your industry, the more chances you have to be found by people interested in your line of work. A recent article on HubSpot stated that businesses generally see a 45% growth in site traffic when the number of blog entries on those sites increases from 11-20 posts to 21-50 posts.

So how do you optimise a blog post to make the most of this opportunity with the search engines?

  • Optimize Blog Post headings by using keywords at the very beginning. Look at the heading for this post as an example – “Blog Posts: How to build an audience for your blog” will be far more popular than if I used “How do I build an audience for my blogs posts?”
  • If you are using WordPress, ensure that URLs are using the correct Permalink structure as this will utilise the heading of your blog into the actual address for the page.
  • Use Tags on your posts to sort them into topics. Note that you need to be careful not to overuse similar tags on the same post as this could lead to penalties with the Google algorithm (If you are unsure about Tags, you’ll find them in the right-hand sidebar of the WordPress screen when creating your posts).

Tip 2: Promote your Blog on Social Media and Email

This would be an absolute no-brainer for most people. What’s the point of taking the time to sit and draft up a worthy blog post if no-one even knows that your blog exists? You have to use every avenue possible to get the word spread about your Blog and get those readers coming in. Shout it out to the world!

Every time a new post is uploaded, immediately jump onto your social channels and shout it to the world. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linked In for starters – if you haven’t got accounts with all of them, join up today.

You should also send out a once-off email to your current clientele and let them know about the blog. Don’t be afraid to ask for them to pass on the word if they think you have something worthwhile to share.

Finally, add your blog address onto your email signature so that every time you correspond with a client (or potential client), that little reminder is there – “I’ve got a Blog that you need to see!”

Tip 3: Sign Up those Subscribers

To keep those who have already visited your site informed, add a very visible “Call To Action” on your site in the form of a subscription button. Using this method, subscribers will be automatically informed whenever a new post is uploaded to your blog. Why not throw in a “carrot” to entice them to sign up? A free e-book, a discount voucher or maybe even a free download – anything to get that all important consent and email address. Caution: Make sure that it is very clear what they are signing up for and how often they can expect an email from you.

Over the next couple of months (this is a long term project in order to see some decent results), I will be putting these plans into motion. To track any changes, there is a sidebar on each of my blog posts displaying the number of shares of my posts through Social media. If my popularity improved, those numbers should start to rise. In addition to this, I will also be keeping a close eye on my stats to determine what topics are proving to be the most popular with site visitors. This helps to determine which topics people are reading the most.

Keep watching my blog each week for the results….

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Rusty Mango Design