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How You Can Make Google Sit Up and Pay Attention

It’s time to dispel a myth.

The act of simply getting a website DOES NOT mean that Google will automatically sit up and take notice of your business.

Your small business website is an important portal to your business – not Google’s. They won’t automatically place your business at #1 on the search rankings just because you have a site.  And the truth of the matter is that Google will continue to basically ignore your business until you (and your web developer) put some plans into action to make them sit and pay attention.

Here’s some tips from the Rusty Mango team to help you in the right direction….

Mobile ResponsiveMobile Viewing is Vital

As of 2015, making websites mobile responsive for viewing on phones and tablets became a priority for all. This was thanks to Google, stating loud and clear, that sites that were not optimised for viewing on mobile devices would be penalised in search rankings or, even worse, not even appear in mobile search results.

Google aside, now that over 74% of Australians rely on their phones as much as they rely on their desktops (Galaxy Poll), it’s definitely time to ensure that your small business site is mobile-friendly. 

All new Rusty Mango Design sites are mobile-responsive from day one for this very reason.

Don’t Use a Generic Business Name

If you already have a reputable brand then this particular action is going to be hard to implement. When establishing your business name, be sure to select one that is not previously used by other businesses, particularly in your industry. Even similar names can cause issues.

Why? Two problems can arise online – one, you may find it hard to register the domain name that you want and two, most importantly with SEO, Google may show your competitor’s name when users are actually searching for you!

Back LinkingShare Site Links with Your Industry

Although nowhere as important as they used to be, inbound links still give your site credence in the eyes of the Google-Bot. In days gone by, sites would inherit “importance” or ranking from any sites that linked back to them – reciprocal links were very popular among web masters. That importance has been downscaled in recent versions of the Google ranking algorithm but it is still there to a lesser degree.

To take advantage of inbound links, ask that your industry contacts link back to your website and, in return, you will link out to them.

Use A Plugin to Optimise Your Pages

When it comes to optimising your site for SEO (search engine optimisation), ticking all the boxes to make Google happy is a difficult task. Luckily for those sites using a Content Management System – there are site add-ons (plugins) like Yoast SEO to help get the job done.

Yoast SEO uses a coloured “light” icon to indicate whether the SEO on a page has been done correctly. Red: Incomplete, Orange: Partially Done and Green: Optimised. As the user adjusts the SEO settings using the easy to understand Yoast recommendations (Page Title, Description, Alt Tags, etc.), the “light” icon changes. Aim for the green “light” and you have given your page a good chance of success with Google.

Fresh ContentFresh Content

“Content is King” has been a catchphrase for quite a while now and nothing has changed. Google still loves sites that keep their content fresh, engaging and relevant to the target audience. The Google-Bots trawl the web regularly and they will notice who is updating their sites and who isn’t.

Of course, the easiest way to get some Google “love” is to pay for some. The Google AdWords system is the way that their company makes the bulk of their income. If you sign up for pay-per-click, you will suddenly become a Google VIP and your business listing will appear in the Ads in search results.

Have a Search right now and see where your small business site appears. If it isn’t on that all important page one, look at the actions above and create your own Google SEO strategy.

Five reasons to evolve your business and get it online

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web DesignIn small towns, such as my hometown of Innisfail, small business owners have relied for years purely on local customers for their income. And this has worked just fine for the most part as these businesses have built up loyal trade and trust with good service.

But times have changed. Businesses right through to the early 90’s never had to compete against anything like the internet and the changes it has brought. Nowadays, a huge amount of business is conducted online and, as a small business owner, you are no longer just competing against other local businesses. In fact, for most professional services and especially those selling products, there is no concept of a local business anymore.

Whether you like it or not, you are a state-wide, national or even an international business. Your customers are very aware that if they don’t receive the service they expect to get along with the product they want AND at a price that they like, they are going online to get it somewhere else!

So if your business is unwilling to get online to be competitive in 2015, then you are going to lose a huge chunk of your potential market.

Here’s five good reasons why getting a website is essential to the evolution of a modern small business.

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#1 – A website is available to your customers 24/7

With online trading, a customer can choose when they are going to visit you. They are no longer dependant on when you open your physical store. A website allows a business owner to keep products and services moving all day, every day. A mobile-responsive site takes this to the next level with customers accessing businesses on-the-go with tablets and smartphones.

#2 – Your website opens you up to the international marketplace.

A website means that you don’t have to just sell your products and services to locals in your immediate area. If you have a great product and it is easily found online (with search engine optimisation), you are able to sell to anyone, anywhere in the world. You are no longer geographically locked in.
If someone two thousand kilometres away wants your products – with a website, they can get them.

#3 – Window Shopping has evolved too

Walking down the main street in your town or city is no longer the only way to go window shopping (though some may disagree). Online, your potential customers are always looking and planning where they are going to make their next purchases. They are comparing prices, checking out services and calculating delivery costs. Even if they may not be making an immediate purchase, when they do, those online businesses who have made an impact on their searches will definitely come to the forefront.

#4. Online, you can build your position as a Key Person of Influence in your industry.

Your website and your online presence have become key factors when customers are searching for a new business to deal with. A strong presence is a great way to demonstrate that you are a modern business with its finger on the pulse of your industry. Customers testimonials are also a great way of showing your prospects that you are capable of delivering the products and services that your offer. Social Media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will help to build a community of loyal followers that your business can use to develop, research and sell new products. Each one of these components is essential to build your authority as a KPI (Key Person of Influence).

Evolve your Business with Rusty Mango Web Design#5 – On the internet, size does not matter.

A website is a great leveller. Whether you’re a one-man show or a 20,000-employee corporate giant; if you offer prompt and friendly service backed up by a quality product, you can compete head-to-head with the “big guys”. On the other hand, if you don’t have a website, you’ll be losing business to other companies that do.

Despite all the reasons that are spruiked daily about the benefits of an online business, it is estimated that more than half (52%) of Australian small business owners do not have a website. This is astounding considering that 82% of small business owners get new business through referrals. If you don’t have a website, how do these referrals find out more about you?

If you want to evolve your small business and access a greater share of your industry’s market, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design today and we will examine an online strategy that will work for you.

Google’s “Mobilegeddon”

MobilegeddonSome small business owners may have noticed a change but the majority would not. Maybe the GoogleBot hasn’t swept by your site just yet. Even if it has, and your search ranking have taken a step backwards, it’s not the end of the world.

An unbelievable number of marketing bloggers have been all “doom and gloom” about the changes on April 21st to Google’s search ranking algorithm but it’s not the first time that changes have been made (it most probably won’t be the last either). Why are so many people excited about this one?

Let’s take a look at what is “Mobilegeddon”?

As of April 21st, 2015, Google will start using mobile friendliness as an integral part of their ranking calculations to determine search results. This means, in layman’s terms, that mobile-friendly sites will get a rewarded with a higher position in those results, while sites that aren’t responsive on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, will “significantly” drop in ranking.

Just how much that drop will be is still up for debate.

Is your website mobile-friendly?

Google, being the very helpful “big brother” that it is, has conveniently created a mobile-friendly test that will quickly determine whether your site makes the cut or not. The test also generates a breakdown of the various mobile elements of your site so that you can see where improvements need to be made. To examine your site for mobile friendliness, click here to visit the Google Mobile-Friendly Test page.

What if your site is not mobile friendly?

First of all – don’t panic. You won’t be removed from results altogether but there are things you need to do.

To be regarded as “mobile-friendly”, Google looks at the following:

  • On a mobile device, is the text readable without zooming?
  • Does the content of the site resize automatically to fit the screen?
  • Does the site use Flash? (Flash is not available on most mobile devices)
  • Can a user click links and buttons with a fingertip or stylus? How do they navigate around the site?

If you answer NO to any of the above questions then you may have a non-responsive site.

What are the options with a non-responsive site?

Achieving the parameters above is quite simple if your site is built on the WordPress framework.

Option #1:

You can download a free plugin called WP-Touch and configure it to display your site as a mobile theme. WP-Touch has a number of built themes that you can select to display your website. With some tweaking, you can achieve a decent variation of your main site.

Downside: Unless you are skilled in PHP and CSS (web coding languages), this option changes the on-screen appearance of your site and it will no longer match your branding from the desktop version.

Option #2:

Enlist the help of a web designer to alter your website at a foundation level to become a fully responsive website. A responsive site automatically detects the size of the screen and changes everything accordingly. A mobile menu appears, text and imagery resize and non-mobile necessary content can be removed to increase page loading speed.

Please note that this should not mean a complete site re-build. There are actions a web designer can take, at grass roots level, to improve the appearance of a site on a mobile screen.

Conclusion

As you can see from the options above, if you have found that your site has taken a tumble with the changes to Google, it is not a serious problem that can’t be rectified. Once action has been taken, you simply need to wait for the GoogleBot to sweep past your site again, detect your changes and you will be back in business.

Some internet marketing commentators are noticing the mobile changes SINCE 21st April are being detected by Google very quickly. You may be back in your desired rankings before you know it.

Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps – do I need both?

Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps – what are they?With the continued growth and expansion of mobile internet, it is imperative that in 2015, all small businesses must have a mobile presence. According to online statistics group, Comscore, mobile internet officially overtook desktop usage in 2014 for the first time.

http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

However this doesn’t mean that everyone is accessing mobile websites – there is another choice. The mobile app is becoming prevalent in the market and it is very important to distinguish between mobile apps and mobile websites in order to make the correct choice for your business.

What’s the difference?

Both work on handheld devices such as smart phones, iPads and tablets but their functions can be completely different.

A mobile website is exactly that – a regular website that converts for viewing on a mobile device.  Normally, the navigation will change so that buttons can be touched with a finger, text will enlarge to a point where it can be easily read and some components of the standard site may be removed to optimise the mobile viewing. The function remains the same as the regular site. The mobile website will deliver information, allow contact via various means and the user will be able to purchase goods online if it is an e-commerce website.

A mobile app is a software application that must be downloaded to be used. This means you will need to visit the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android) and download the app directly to your device.

Most smart phone and tablet users are using mobile apps already. A perfect example is the Domino’s Pizza app. Through your phone, you can choose a pizza to order and pay for it online. The app utilises your phone’s GPS and automatically chooses your nearest Domino’s store.

This example demonstrates that such an app would work perfectly for a larger style organisation that has many store fronts or outlets. Accommodation providers such as the Rydges hotel chain also have mobile apps to download – this allows business customers that frequently need accommodation to book their rooms with very little hassle.

Should my small business have a mobile site or a mobile app?

As shown above, mobile apps are used in very specific circumstances where an “operation” such as ordering pizza or booking accommodation is done frequently. If a visitor to your site needs only to “pop in and out” of your site occasionally for your services then they are unlikely to download an app to do so.

Due to this specific nature, mobile apps are also quite expensive to develop as no one app will be the same.

It’s vitally important that small businesses have a mobile responsive website – this acts as the main point of contact with your customers and will do the job of promoting and selling your small business online.  Whether your business would be further complimented by the addition of a mobile app depends entirely up to the type and scale of the business that you operate operating in.

If your business requires either a mobile responsive website or a mobile app, give Rusty Mango Design a call and we will create a free quote specifically detailed to your needs.

Five easy ways to decrease your site’s bounce rate

Decrease your bounce rateYou have a website – and the statistics look good.

At first glance.

As you delve into the pile of numbers that are part and parcel of any website’s statistics, you may find that although people are coming to your site, they are not staying very long – at all.

If this is the case, your site has a bounce rate problem.

For the novice, the bounce rate is the number (usually a percentage) of your site visitors that leave your site immediately after arriving. Now, there could be any number of reasons for this however none of them are good for your business. The aim of any good website is to retain visitors and make them into loyal customers – they should want to stay on your site but when they do leave, you know that they will come back.

Below are five (fairly) quick fixes to help you get that bounce rate down.

Fix #1 – Reduce the amount of time it takes to load your site

If your site is heavily loaded with content, it can take some time to load on a visitor’s computer/mobile. Add to that all the bangs and whistles that make a site look “pretty” and you risk losing them before they even see the content! A general rule of thumb is that the majority of information on your webpage should be loaded within five seconds (this used to be ten in the “old” days”).

Fix #2 – Make your Navigation Menu user friendly

Websites with only a few pages have this one already sorted – their menus are generally uncluttered and users can find what they want fairly easily. But what if your site has dozens of pages to sift through? Website visitors can easily be put off by a menu system that has too many options.

The solution is quite simple – group your pages into common categories and create a base menu using these. Then, with the help of a pop-out menu, you can then add all the other pages underneath.

If your site does have a lot of pages, be sure to include a site map in your footer because some visitors may head  straight for this.

Fix #3 – Ensure that your Call to Action is highly visible

Your Call to Action (CTA) is all important to your website. If the site doesn’t have a clear CTA, why is it online in the first place? Your visitors need to be able to find this with no trouble at all – if anything, it should be one of the most predominant items on any page – as easy to find as your logo!

If a site visitor can’t find a way to interact with or purchase from you, they’ll go somewhere else and up goes your Bounce Rate!

Fix #4 – Check that your site is mobile responsive

If your site is over five years old, chances are that it may not be mobile responsive. This means that your website appears exactly the same on a mobile or tablet as it does on a full sized computer. In turn, this makes your content too hard to see without zooming in – something that mobile users hate to do when browsing the web.

Never fear, this doesn’t always mean that a whole site rebuild is required. There a number of options available in most cases – just contact your website developer for more information (or Rusty Mango Design).

Fix #5 – Tidy up that old, messy website

Whenever I start a new design for a client, I always take the time and cruise the internet looking at other websites in the same industry – just to see what is out there. Sometimes, I am astounded by the poor quality presented as professional websites. Some sites look like they have been there since the 90’s!

If your website does not convey your business brand as professional and “can do”, then it is unlikely to grab any potential customers, just on its appearance. Upgrade your site design and watch for the difference in response. If you look like you know what you doing, you are halfway to getting that client on-board.

 

Finally, according to statistics, you only have 50 milliseconds (that’s five hundredths of a second) to make a good impression with your website.  And as everyone knows, a good first impression can last a lifetime.

Take look at your site with fresh eyes (better yet – get someone else with fresh eyes) and have a look at the repairs suggested’here.

Does your bounce rate need a bit of a fixer-upper?

What essentials do you need on your Front Page?

Front Page EssentialsThe Rusty Mango Design site has been in action in its current form for just over two years, so utilising the Christmas/New Year’s break, I have decided to give it a fresh new look. In doing so, I must remember that potential customers (prospects) will be coming to the home page in search of a few key items. If those items are not readily available (ie hidden or obscure), the bounce rate of people leaving the site will be fairly high.

To prevent this, I am integrating those key items into the planning of the new design right from the very beginning. I’ve sat down with a pencil and paper, (I know – how old fashioned of me!) and I have sketched out and written down those features which must be included. Let’s take a look at what should be seen on an effective home page.

Distinct Branding and Contact Information

This one is a no-brainer. Make sure that as soon as anyone hits your site, they can see immediately who you are and how they can contact you. Get your logo in the all familiar position at the top left of your page (that’s where you look for it, isn’t it?) and have a phone or clickable email up there too – possibly in the top right corner. Easy to see and act on.

Call to Action

In website marketing, a Call to Action (CTA) is a predominant item somewhere on a page that provokes the site visitor to gain an immediate response. Usually the CTA utilises action verbs such as “Call Us Now”, “Click here to find out more” or “visit our online-store”.

The CTA must be easily visible so that it attracts attention and get a response. On the new site for Rusty Mango Design, the CTA is in the main header for each page:

  • Get a CMS Website.
  • Build an online Store.
  • Boost your site traffic.

These are the three keys services that I offer and I want prospective customers to find which service they require immediately.

Essential Information

Grab that pencil and paper again and think about the information your clients need to know about you straight away?

  • Do you have a strict geographic area that you work within?
  • What are the services that you provide?
  • If you provide professional services, prospective clients may need some information on your experience and background.

Stick to the K.I.S.S. principle – keep it short and simple. If your site visitors wish to expand on the basic information that you have provided on the front page, include links to the pages with the expanded details.

Clear Navigation

Don’t overload your site visitors with a gazillion options in regards to navigation around your site. Keep any menus in their familiar positions (i.e. in the header or left side bar). When site designers get a little too inventive with the placement of components, confusion can often set in with site users.

Keep your menu options to a basic level – maybe utilising dropdown menus if you want to allow quick movement to content elsewhere on the site.

Conclusion

With those things in mind, I have created a “fresh” design and I will be launching the new look Rusty Mango site in the next week or so. Keep tuned for that!

In the meantime, take a long look at your site’s front page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there enough information? Or is there too much?
  • Does it encourage further exploration into the site?
  • Can a prospect interact directly with me form this page or will they have to dig deeper to do so?

If you need any help with the above, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We can discuss those very questions and create a front page that will get you attention!

 

Week 16 of 52 – Five signs that your site needs a MAKEOVER!

Does your site need a makeover?The internet has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past five years and there is no sign of slowing down any time soon. Social Media, online technology, broadband speeds and ecommerce shopping among other advances have changed the way people live day-to-day.  A commercial website that doesn’t keep up with these changes is in danger of driving away potential customers by conveying the image of an out-of-date business brand that fails to innovate.

So the question needs to be asked – when was the last time you gave your website a full makeover?

There are some blatantly obvious signs that your site needs some form of makeover and others that are a little more subtle. Here are five of the most important signs that your site needs some serious makeover love:

1.       Your site looks and feels like a vintage website from the late 90’s

Maybe it’s not that old. However if your site is over five years old, it is definitely time for an update. You may be still using your original website or one created with integrated Flash content (which is soooo last year…) or even worse, a site designed by an employee using Microsoft Word – yes, that Microsoft Word! (I have actually seen this)

Regardless of how old your site is, what’s on it or how it was created, if it doesn’t feel like it belongs alongside the current crop of sites from your competitors, get an upgrade.

2.       The site is not mobile responsive

Everyone knows that mobile internet access has dramatically increased over the past couple of years but how’s this for a statistic: According to online magazine Fast Company, 25% of smartphone owners ages 18–44 say they “can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t right next to them.”

Wow.

Let’s put it simply – if your site doesn’t respond or convert for mobile usage, you are missing out on a huge chunk of action. Get a mobile responsive site today!

http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/21-vital-mobile-marketing-facts-statistics-2014-0850425#b8OxdTHcMI12frWx.99

3.       Your Social Media feeds are not integrated

Having a Social Media presence is no longer optional for small business. If you want to engage and interact with your clients, you must be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. On top of this, any post, update or tweet that you make should be automatically displayed through onto your site.

This will serve two purposes:- one, you will create new content for your site every time you update your Social Media and two, you can gather more followers through the use of on-page links. If your site can’t do this, once again, you are missing out!

4.       Your content is past its used-by date

One of my pet peeves (and one that I was guilty of until I started my Blog challenge) is visiting a website with blog posts that have a really old date on them. Of course, you can cheat and not use a date at all however you are kidding yourself if you think that a potential client with a keen eye won’t notice. The same applies with your page to page content. Make sure your information is always up-to-date and if you can’t commit to a Blog post at least every month (more is better), then maybe you should give that task to someone else on your team.

5.       You are receiving very little new business referral from your site

How do your customers first get in touch? Do they find you in a phone directory, a newspaper or radio advertisement or via your website? Conduct a quick survey with customers as they make a purchase – we’ve all seen the instant competition ploy at small business counters. Fill in a survey form (a couple of questions at most) and pop it in the box to win a prize.

Look at and compile the results. If your website is not delivering the customers in a manner that you would expect, then maybe it’s time for the big makeover. Something is not connecting with site visitors and must be fixed to ensure a healthy inflow of prospects to your business.

If any of the points above apply to your site, get in contact with the team at Rusty Mango Design today and we’ll take an in-depth look at your old site to determine what needs to be done and provide you with a detailed report – for free!

 

What on earth is Responsive Web Design? (and why should I care?)

Responsive Website DesignIn the ever-changing world of the internet, there is always a lot of jargon. Some of it is clear-cut, easy to understand and some doesn’t make sense to the regular site owner at all. One of the most talked about points in the last couple of years is the topic of “responsive website design”. Just a quick Google search will show that it has been the topic of many blogs and arguments over that time but with the release of some recent statistics into internet usage, it is something that needs to be addressed by all website owners and managers.

So what is it?

Put simply, Responsive website design is the ability of a website to change itself to suit whatever viewing platform it is being accessed from whether it is viewed from a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. The goal is to provide the best viewing experience for the site visitor. Dependent on the device, all images should resize (or be removed), content should expand/contract and menu buttons must change from clicking with a mouse to touching with a finger. A site that can do this is known as being “mobile friendly”.

It’s important to note here that this is not just about creating a site that resizes. It’s about buttons, images, text size and content. Site visitors are less likely to spend as much time on a mobile site as they are on a desktop site and the amount of content needs to reflect this too.

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

Simply open your webpage on any tablet or smart phone. If the site displays exactly the same as it would on a desktop computer, your site needs to be converted. Keep in mind, some sites will display the same on a tablet depending on whether you hold the tablet in portrait or landscape modes.

My site is not currently mobile friendly (non-responsive) – should I be concerned?

Yes, you should. According to online business analytics experts, comScore, statistics released early in 2014 show that for the first time ever, mobile internet access surpassed desktop access. Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States with apps making up 47% of Internet traffic and 8% from mobile browsers. It is estimated that by 2015, the number of mobile devices in use will equal the population of the planet.

Count on these statistics to keep leaning further and further in favour of mobile devices. This means, that if your site is not responsive and mobile friendly, you could potentially miss out on a lot of conversions (sales) through your business site.

Alright, you’ve convinced me. I need my site to become “mobile friendly”. Is it expensive to do?

A change to a responsive website design does not need to cost the earth. In addition, if your site has already been built with a mobile friendly framework, it can be quite easy to achieve.
With WordPress-based sites, such as those created by the team here at Rusty Mango Design, there are a couple of options.

  • Your site can be “re-themed” with an alternative mobile friendly design allowing all the content to remain exactly the same (you don’t have re-do the lot!). This option, although not quite as expensive as the creation of a new site, can involve a fair amount of work if you require a custom theme to be created.
  • Alternatively, you can install a plug-in that automatically converts your current site according to the device on which it is being viewed. This is probably the cheapest alternative, taking only a couple of hours to install and adapt.

If your site has not been created with a Content Management System (CMS) framework like Joomla or WordPress, your web designer “should” still be able to give you advice on the most appropriate (and cost effective) way to get your site “mobile friendly.

Who can help to get my site mobile friendly?

If your site is not currently mobile-friendly and you would like more information about your options, get in touch with us at Rusty Mango Design. We can take a look at your framework (free of charge) and let you know what the best course of action and the costs involved.

 

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design