5 Game-Changing New Year’s Resolutions for Your Website

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You do go back to your website and check it to make sure everything’s spot-on, don’t you?

You do that with your car, business processes, and virtually everything you own, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your website?

It’s easy to get so busy during the holidays and cooler Winter months that you may completely forget to do this.

What should you check for anyway?

Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Check Your Blog Content

Just a couple minutes analyzing your blog can lead to big changes in the future. First off, at the local business level, most SMBs don’t blog consistently. Figure out a schedule you can commit to (at least 2 posts per month, but 4-8 is better), and stick to it.

Also, do a quick check in Google Analytics to see which posts readers like best. Go to “Behavior à Site content à All Pages.” Check both the “Pageviews” and “Avg. Time on Page” columns.

Low pageviews isn’t necessarily bad – it may mean no one can find your posts. However, you always want that average time on page to be at least 2 minutes or so. See which of your posts get read the longest, try to figure out what makes them great, and give your audience more of the same.

  1. Revise Your Static Web Pages

Is your home page still accurate? Or have you learned more reasons your market likes to buy? What about your “About” page? Have you had changes in your team’s structure?

Do you now offer new services? Are your prices on your site and do they need to be changed?

  1. Add Videos to Your Website

You could add a video to every page – if you’re ambitious. Otherwise, make sure you have one on your home page.

Videos aren’t just pretty – they boost your conversions too. You could also place them on your “About” page to introduce team members. On your services pages, you can show the value your services offer, or even add video testimonials.

  1. Simplify Your Contact Form & Newsletter Registration

For your newsletter list, all you need is the first name and an e-mail address. Seriously – the simpler you make it, the more people subscribe.

With your contact form, you can get a little more complex. Conversion rate experts suggest that highly complex forms (8 fields+) get you more qualified prospects. If you want volume, make yours simpler (3-5 fields).

  1. A More Enticing Offer

You don’t want to promise the moon on your website when you can’t deliver on it. But, you do want to make your offer as compelling as possible.

To do that, you must outline your ideal customer’s problem in excruciatingly vivid detail, and then paint a beautiful picture of how better their lives will be after they use your product or service.

If you check and tweak all those things, your website will start bringing in new customers!

How to Make Your Website More Linkworthy

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Even though Google changes SEO at a backbreaking pace, SEO still boils down to a few fundamentals:

  • Awesome content
  • Quality, relevant links
  • Great on-site user experience
  • Active social media profiles (these may play a bigger role in the future of SEO)

We don’t know the exact weight links play in your overall search ranking, but saying 50% would be a reasonable guesstimate.

You know some websites get more links than others. What factors influence how much people want to link to your site?

Here’s a few, that, if you work on them, make it much more likely people will link to your website:

  1. Your Site Loads Fast

All main pages on your site should load in less than 2 seconds. That’s part of the “user experience” on your website.

  1. Social Sharing Buttons

Users expect these as a standard on every website. Yours must have them, and they should be obvious and large enough for mobile users. It takes only a couple minutes to install a plugin that provides them.

  1. Fresh Content

Has it been 3 – 6 months since your last blog post? That’s too long. If you’re a small business of just 3-5 employees or so, aim to get 2 posts up per month minimum. 4 is really nice, and any more than that is a bonus.

  1. Useless, Boring, or Stupid Content

Only you can learn what’s relevant to your audience. If you run an HVAC repair company, your customers want to read how to prepare their AC unit for Spring or Winter.

Make your post so easy to understand that someone with no mechanical skills whatsoever can act on its information. And use simple language too. When your customers can read your posts and actually put your information to use in their daily lives, they have a reason to come back for more.

You don’t have to be William Shakespeare to blog. Cracking jokes and using slang – those are fine and actually encouraged.

  1. No Broken Images/Site Errors

What if you had a huge crack in the window at your physical office location? Wouldn’t you fix that immediately because you know what a poor impression it makes?

That’s what broken images and 404 Not Found errors do on your website. You don’t want a single one of these to be found anywhere.

  1. A Simple, Organized Look

Your website does need an attractive design. But it doesn’t need a lot of gimmicks/tricks that make it “cooler.” The main thing is the design looks recent (so people know you’re still in business), and the other priority is making your site easy to use and read.

If you do these things, you make your site look good to others, and they’ll want to link to it more.

Are You Making These 5 Sales-Killing Mistakes on Your Website?

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When you view as many websites as a professional does throughout the course of the day, you start to see the same mistakes over and over again.

And it’s heartbreaking to go through because they amount to relatively simple and inexpensive changes that generate a ROI many times greater than their cost to implement.

What do we see happening?  A few of the most common mistakes:

1.     Hiding Your Contact Information

Users shouldn’t have to click anywhere to find your contact info if you own a small, local business.  Your phone number (and maybe an e-mail too) should be right in the upper right-hand corner of every page on your website.  If more detailed contact information is required, a separate contact page does the job.  But, better to have your customers contact you than not at all.

2.      Creating a Social Account, but Not Using It

If it’s not in use, don’t put it on your home page.  When you are prepared to use your social media accounts, then prominently display them throughout your website.  And when you do use them, make sure they all have your branding consistently displayed throughout so people always know they are interacting with your company.

3.      Not Owning the Domain Name

You should always have your domain registered in your name.  If it’s not, you can totally lose control and there’s not much you can do about it.

How does it happen?  When you have a graphic design or SEO company build you a new website, they might register it in their own name.  Rather than having them do that, register it yourself (it’s cheap and easy), and then let them do their work.

4.     Not Claiming Your Google+/Google Places Listing

Few small businesses actually do this, but when Google returns search results these days, it offers links to both of these places.  Now if people go and visit those links and everything looks like a ghost town, they have a tendency to believe you’re not in business anymore or that you don’t care.  Better to claim these and update them and give searchers a good impression.

5.     Forgetting to Use Headlines on All Pages

Some business owners are afraid headlines are too “salesy.”  If you make them too aggressive and pushy, they certainly can be.  But if you make things a bit softer and say something like, “Need a New Water Heater?  Signs Yours is Too Old…” that’s perfect for getting interest, while not sounding too “salesy.”

The Eyetrack III study that tracks how people view web pages found headlines get viewed more so than anything else – even images and video.

So if you’re making those mistakes – clean’em up!  They’re easy to fix and increase your conversions dramatically.

Guide to 2014 Web Design Trends

Have you ever browsed the internet and just looked at the designs exclusively?  Did you ever notice the variety of quality in web designs?

Even some large corporations have web designs that look 5 years old or older.  What this tells your visitors could be a few things:

  • That you don’t care about your website, and by extension your visitors
  • You’re no longer in business
  • Your company isn’t as big and authoritative as it is in the real world

All of these are negative.  To stay up-to-date, you should redesign your website about every three years or so.

What’s in for 2014?

Check out some of these ideas:

1. Video Backgrounds

Yep, the entire webpage is a background video playing.  Check it out in action at Spotify:

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For the best user experience, leave the sound turned off, with the option to turn it on.  People don’t want to be distracted or startled if they’re reading somewhere else and your site loads suddenly on another tab.  Use the video background as an opportunity to introduce your business so people can get to know, like, and trust you.

2.     Long-Scrolling Websites

Check this one out in France:

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That website scrolls a long, long ways.  It’s designed especially for mobile users.  To break up the imagery, there’s also some videos embedded as you go down the screen.  There’s also examples of the company’s work.

Cool idea, no?

3.     Very Simple Websites

Enough with all the complexity and fanciness of the first two examples you saw!  Websites like Square follow the KISS theory:

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Look at that – just 3 options to click on, with the main call-to-action displayed in the dead center of the screen.  Then, the primary benefits the company offers are prominently displayed below.  Users will appreciate the simple experience, and at the same time, this website has a design that isn’t the standard Home/Services/About brochure layout you so often see.

  1. 4.      Unique Kinds of Typography

Check out the fonts used below:

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Ever seen them before?  Probably, but it’s so infrequent that you can’t remember the last time you saw these fonts, let alone three different types on one page altogether.  It’s a small change, but changing the font adds quite a bit of personality to your website.  You can come across as friendly, authoritative, or modern.

5.      Flat Designs

Who’s better known for their simplicity than Apple?  Look at the design below and notice how its design is “flat” – it contains no depth:

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There’s no drop shadows or gradients, and they do nothing to enhance the depth of the iPhone 5 (which has slight depth).  It just appears to be a simple page on the web – there’s no doubt this trend will continue in 2014.

Fancy or Simple?  That is the Question

So you’ve seen some examples of fancier web designs versus some simple ones.  Either can work in 2014.  The choice is yours – which do you think your customers will appreciate more?

5 Reasons Why Your Site Doesn’t Convert

Do you get the business you want through your website?

If you’re like many business owners, you would like a little more business coming through yours. 

What could be wrong?

There could be many things wrong that scare customers away or attract the wrong type of customer.  Here are a few reasons this could be happening, and what you can do:

1.      Your design turns visitors off – For most businesses, this means the design looks old, or it’s hosted on one of those build-a-website-for-free domains.  Visitors can tell if your web design wasn’t done by a professional.  If a professional or firm does the work, however, customers take notice and are much more likely to buy.  See Are You Making this Catastrophic web design Mistake? for more about this topic.

2.      You wrote the written copy yourself or had one of your staff do it – You or your staff may be able to get words to flow together well, but that’s not enough to get visitors to buy.  To get them to make that phone call or online contact, you have to motivate them by showing the benefits you offer and why you offer the best solution to the problem they have. 

If your home page reads “Welcome to Our Company” or “Our Company’s Mission is…” then you can rest assured people won’t be motivated to buy.  Have a professional copywriter handle this for you instead.

3.      You don’t target a specific niche market – What are the pain points of your ideal customer?  Your website must show how you solve the problem of a well-defined market.  If you speak to everyone, you sell to no one. 

4.      You don’t offer proof or social proof – From a marketing perspective, people are much more likely to buy when they have “proof” something works.  On a website, this means including things like your BBB rating or awards you’ve won.  You can also show how many social media followers you have.  You might also include a script that shows the most recent online reviews you received on various business directories like Google Places, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others.

Testimonials work too, and they work best when you include the first and last name of the customer, and make sure they discuss in detail the specific result you achieved, such as raising their sales by 58.5%.  The more specific, tangible, and verifiable you can be, the better.

5.      You didn’t establish a USP – A “unique sales proposition” is how you solve your market’s problem different than any of your competitors.  Many niches are filled with tough competition, and if you don’t have a USP, you’re forced to compete on price or pray that your competitors go under. 

Create a USP around your customer’s pain points.  If you find your competitors have poor customer service, develop a 5-star customer service guarantee or give your customers their money back.  The possibilities are limited only to your imagination.

Now That’s a Ton of Work…

It’s tempting to take your website for granted, but rest assured, your market is looking for your business online, no matter what type of business it is. 

The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  If your website isn’t converting the way you want now, follow these tips, implement them, and watch your website change for the better. 

Are You Making This Catastrophic Web Design Mistake?

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Are you guilty of this one huge design mistake?

Millions of companies and people fall for it because it’s the shortest, easiest path.

But, as you might expect, taking the quickest route doesn’t lead to success.

In fact, it works much the opposite in this case – it actually permanently damages your ability to get more business from your website.
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