Why is it so Important to Have a Good Website?

 

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Next up in our mini-series of blog posts looking at marketing tips for small business is the importance of a good website. (Of course, I would say that, wouldn’t I?!)

Most businesses need a web presence in the digital age in order to be found easily by customers and potential customers. In fact, it has been said that there are three key reasons why people will visit your website;

  1. they are looking for information
  2. they want to contact you
  3.  they want to transact with you.

There are various benefits to having a good website for your business, we have listed four key ones for you below:

Visibility
Visibility is one of the most important benefits of having a good website for your company. Having an online presence means it is much easier for customers to find you. Furthermore, if the website is well optimised for search engines then visibility will vastly increase due to it climbing further up the search engine results page as discussed in a previous blog post. This will mean that when people search for something relevant to your website you will be amongst the first results and thus it is far more likely people will click on your website.

There are various methods of optimising your website including:

  • Good relevant content
  • Keyword use
  • Meta titles and tags
  • Fast loading times
  • Responsiveness

It reflects you as a business
The fact that your website reflects you as a business and a professional is fairly commonsensical. It makes sense that if your website is slick and professional looking then potential clients will see this as a reflection of you and your business. If potential clients visit your website and see that it is poorly designed and unprofessional then that is how they will perceive you.

Unless you yourself are a web designer, it is always a good idea to hire an experienced web designer to build your website as you can guarantee they will produce a slick and professional looking website which will help to bring in more customers.

Mobile Use
Google has warned website owners that they see mobile as the future of search and if websites are not optimised for mobile devices their search ranking will be negatively affected.
With this considered, every good website must be optimised in order for it to be responsive for use on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Research has shown that over 50% of mobile visitors will abandon your website if it takes more than three seconds to load. So if you have a good responsive website which works well on mobile devices, it provides a good user experience for the customer with no scrolling or resizing needed. If this is done well then people are likely to stay on your page for longer which increases the chances of a sale.

Sales
By having a good website and online presence you allow for the selling of products or services 24/7 around the clock and across the globe because a website is not restricted by time or location like a physical shop. Moreover, making the actual process of purchasing an item from your website as easy as possible for the customer will result in more sales and a happier customer base. This is only a good thing as a growing bottom line will keep your shareholders happy and the business growing.

To conclude, having a website is vital for businesses if they are to achieve their goals. A good website will not only help drive sales, it will also improve the user experience and reflect positively on you as a company.

Why YOU should be sending company newsletters

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Talk to people!

Quite simply, it’s all about communication!  A newsletter, like talking or emailing, is a simple way to stay in touch with your customers. It is all about building relationships with people.

As Seth Godin says in Buy Permission Marketing – it’s about “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers”.  A newsletter is a great way for companies to build relationships and begin to turn strangers into friends.

In this super-technical age newsletters might be seen as old-school! And whether it is printed and sent via post (how intriguing!), whether it is digitised and added to your website for people to download or whether it is  sent as a emailer, please don’t underestimate the power of a simple well-written news item.

There are many benefits to using newsletters. Its an opportunity to remind your customers that you are still there! It’s a non-salesy way of  offering a round-up of news and new products and services.  In an ideal world, they will see the news item on your product or service and head to your website to investigate.

Topics which can be included in your newsletter include:

  • Testimonials
  • New Products and Services added
  • Sales & special offers
  • Your updated Portfolio

Writing your newsletter

Firstly think about what you want to say (see the Topics above). Remember:  You’re busy, other people are busy, so get to the point and don’t waffle too much! You make you may feel you have no skills at writing, but there are ways to make it interesting.

  • Include a photograph
  • Keep sentences short
  • If you need to give more explanation don’t feel you have to write it all in the newsletter. Simply point people to your website where you can put up a longer article or snippet, or highlight your product so that people can have more information quickly.

How your newsletter should look

I’ve missed out the bit about the layout and design of your newsletter! This is because it largely depends on whether you get it printed or send out an emailer.  With Microsoft Publisher, you can follow the pre-set templates which give pleasing layouts. If you need help or advice in designing  and printing a newsletter, then feel free to get in touch, we can give you a price for the design, print and delivery of any printed publications you might need.

Your news as an Emailer

There are various methods of distributing a company newsletter. Nowadays, the most popular, and probably one of the cheapest, is through the use of email. You may decide to create a mailing list and then simply email each person the newsletter. However there are many online platforms which can help with the email process and will help you come across as far more professional. One of the most popular platforms is MailChimp. MailChimp lets you create templates for various emails, send them in bulk and track responses and views and this is currently FREE for up to 2000 email addresses.

Another popular platform is GetResponse, which currently has a free 30 day trial. This platform is similar to MailChimp and allows you to create audience segments to manage lists, it also lets you personalise each email rather than sending everyone a general email. There are many other emailing platforms and this article, even though it is from 2010, provides a really useful breakdown of each.

Beware about emailing your newsletter to people who have not opted in. There are rules in place for this and you must give recipients the option to opt out of receiving them which is why using an online solution makes sure you remain within the email marketing guidelines.

You may, however, choose to embed your newsletter on your website rather than emailing it out, this has the benefit that it is visible to everybody and not just people who have subscribed to receive it. It also has an advantage over emails in that some newsletters may get filtered into the spam folders of recipients so they will not see it, this cannot happen with this method. 

The Riverside Foods Company is a great example of a company who effectively use newsletters to engage and inform its audience. Riverside Foods includes a lot of the usual things you would find in a company newsletter such as product announcements, offers and company updates. It also goes further by adding things such as weekly recipe ideas using ingredients stocked by the company. This is a great example of an effective weekly newsletter offering added value to its customer base. 

You can sign up HERE (and type ‘newsletter’ into the contact box) to hear about all the latest news and goings on from the We Build Websites HQ.

4 Important Reasons to Optimise your Website

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For anyone who is building a new website for their business, it is essential that you optimise it for search engines – so that Google, Yahoo and Bing can see your site. This is a practice called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is vital for anyone who has a website. If done well you will begin to see results in how high your website appears on the search engine results page. For example, a really well known and well optimised site such as Facebook or BBC will sit at the top of the search engine results page whereas a website which has not been optimised will sit far down the list, not ranking even in the first few pages!

So why is it important to optimise your website?

  1. Increases Visitor Traffic

The one main reason to include SEO in your marketing programme is that it will, if done correctly, inevitably increase traffic to your website. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, studies have shown that the top result on search engine results pages gain 33% of the traffic, compared to 18% for the second position and a further decrease from there.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand why being higher up the search rankings will improve traffic. If your site is the first site that people see they are more likely to click through to your site. This does not guarantee that people will click through to your site but it gives you a great advantage over other, competing websites.

  1. Increases Your Website Conversions

A conversion is the completion of a desired action that occurs on your website. For example, for an Ecommerce site the conversion would be the visitor selecting an item and purchasing it. Because more people are seeing your site and clicking through into it, it makes sense that conversions will increase.

But remember, employing SEO tactics can increase the likelihood of conversions but it does not guarantee it. If the website is poorly laid out and the purchase procedure is unclear, then you are unlikely to gain conversions. There are some tactics that can help to convert traffic into sales, for example making it easy for customers to purchase is a sure fire way to help increase conversions. This is because if the website is laid out cleanly and it is clear where the customer has to click in order to purchase then they are more likely to convert.

  1. Make it easy for Mobile Users

Modifying your website so it is easy for users on a mobile device to navigate and use is an important step in the SEO process. It has been said that one quarter of global web searches are conducted on a mobile device which now means that mobile versions of websites are just as important, perhaps even more so as the trend for browsing on smart phones increases. Research has shown that over 50% of mobile visitors will abandon your website if it takes more than three seconds to load. This all points to the fact that marketers must optimise their websites for mobile platforms as to ignore this means neglecting a major portion of the global web user base.

As if all this wasn’t reason enough, Google has warned website owners that they see mobile as the future of search and if websites are not optimised for mobile devices their search ranking will be negatively affected.

  1. Your Competitors are Doing it

Even if you are optimising your site, you can guarantee that your competition is! So if you are not constantly changing and updating your website for SEO then you are losing ground to a competing website who will be. If you are already doing well, it is important you don’t make the simple mistake of ignoring SEO. Your competition won’t ignore it and  eventually they will leapfrog your rankings. Ignoring SEO means you will see your website slip down the search engine results pages meaning you can wave goodbye to new business leads!

We Build Websites are happy to conduct a website critique and evaluate your SEO, giving you some pointers as to how you can best optimise your website. Enquire here about this service.

4 Reasons Businesses Should Use Social Media

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Over the last decade or so, social media has grown into an important aspect of many peoples every day lives. Facebook has grown so fast that it now has a user base comprising one seventh of the global population and Twitter has become the number one platform for people to vent 140 characters of pent up emotions.

But social media has also become increasingly important for business. For example, a report by Social Media Examiner found that social media marketing is now a priority for many businesses. 86% of marketers place a high level of importance on Social Media and 89% say that the increase in exposure was the top benefit of using social media.

1. Improved Search Rankings

Studies have shown that the top result on search engine results pages gain 33 percent of the traffic, compared to 18 percent for the second position, with traffic decreasing from there. 

Employing tactics with the specific intention if getting your website higher up the Google search rankings is a practice known as Search Engine Optimisation. How high up your website is listed on search engines is a huge issue for marketers.

The report by Social Media Examiner stated that 58% reported a rise after using social media for one year or longer and 60% of those using social media for 6 or more hours a week saw a rise in their search ranking.

Social media can help to improve a website’s search engine ranking in many ways. For example, the number of followers that a company has can significantly affect its search engine ranking. A company that has a mere 200 likes on Facebook will not gain anywhere near the ranking of a large company with millions of Facebook likes. However, social media likes and followers must be gained organically as Google and other search engines can tell if they have been bought and thus will not improve your overall search ranking.

2. Cheap to Set up & Maintain

Using social media for business is a great tool in that if you do it yourself, it is free and even if you outsource it, it is generally very cheap.

With this in mind, social media is a great, cost effective tool to use for business. Not only can you interact with your customer base but it is a great advertising medium.  For example, this enables you to promote events, services and products free of charge. Some social media platforms also give you the option of employing paid advertising tactics which are relatively cheap and let you control your budget and how much you spend on advertisements.

3. Enables Conversation with your Customers

One of the main benefits of social media or business is that it enables companies to interact with their customer and for their customers to reply. This obviously has many benefits not least that it makes the company appear much more human as they are having active dialogue with their customer base.

This two-way platform also allows the customer to have a voice and express their views in relation to the company. This can be a good thing for the company because, even if the customers are unhappy then you are able to deal with it in a timely and friendly manner and these negative perceptions of the company can turn into positive ones.

4. Increased Brand Recognition

The Social Media Examiner report tells us that 95% of marketers agreed that the use of social media increased exposure for their business. A further 93% said that using social media for over one year report that. So it makes sense that this increased brand exposure will lead to a higher level of brand recognition which is a big reason many marketers employ the use of social media for business.

Because social media allows businesses to engage and interact with their customer base it helps customers recognise your brand more easily.  If businesses are active and engaging on social media then they eventually become a household name and become top of mind for the majority of target customers.

The reason We Build Websites ever got off the ground

What do you mean?
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As autumn begins to loom on the horizon and as today is the 2nd of the month, this seems a sensible time to update you on our news. You might notice that We Build Websites has had a modest facelift. This was brought about in part by the theory that ‘in marketing there isn’t just one solution’.  The good practice, that you propose a strategy, test a theory, analyse results and then tweak the strategy is a good habit to get into.  Let me explain:

The idea behind We Build Websites came from receiving many requests for advice. People would ask me for my opinion regarding their website and how it should look, and was there a way of having an online presence that would keep it in their budget? The truth is, yes, there are many affordable ways of having an online presence. If you are tech savvy – even vaguely so – you can probably pick one of the self-build options online and get started with your online website.

The result of these conversations sparked the formation of the company We Build Websites Ltd. What I wanted to avoid was all the ‘extras’ that keep getting added to the, so-called, ‘free’ website builders. You can have one page, but you get charged extra for new pages; a contact form; a gallery page and there is an additional charge if you don’t want advertising on your site or if you want your website on your own domain.

And the idea? To offer websites, professionally designed for you (rather than a DIY template) with a super easy editing function. Thus, all the technophobes and the busy people (who don’t have time to mess about) have an accessible website platform that can be updated easily and simply for a small monthly fee. The hard work is taken out of the process. You tell us what you’d like to end up with and we do the hard work. A website is designed, put online for you to add photographs and words.

We Build Websites Ltd, doesn’t only offer the simple starter-website package. In fact, most of the projects we undertake are bespoke websites. These sites have a more complicated Content Management System. This enables our customer to be in control of things like the management of a customer database or sales-lead tracker, Event booking, online shops (eCommerce) and Bookkeeping systems.

But for now, our entry-level websites offer an honest well-priced website solution. It looks good on a mobile device as well as a desktop screen and there is help when you need it for all you people who haven’t got the time to do-it-yourself. And we offer a money-back guarantee on our websites.

If any of you reading this are interested in the #smallbusinesswebsites offering you can find more information Introductory Offer.  If you are seeking a more advanced option then get in touch with me, we’ve created a variety of bespoke solutions for our clients. You’ll find that not much is beyond us!

The do-it-yourself SEO Journey

Following on from my last post, I am now making good on my promise to keep you informed with my SEO journey.  Like many of you I juggle with the day-to-day process of running two businesses and being company secretary on another, helping out friends and colleagues and generally living. Therefore, if you don’t outsource the SEO for your website and say you will do it yourself to save the money, what I’ve discovered is that you need to set aside time specifically for this task!  Running a business and looking after your customers is hugely time-consuming. Building up a substantial SEO profile is also time-consuming, an hour a week in the beginning is just not enough.

So, I sit and look at my very, very long list of keywords gleaned from the Google keywords planner. There are thousands! It would be silly to try to fit all of those keywords into the copy on the website, so I will try to identify perhaps three keywords/phrases that I will concentrate on and I decide to start on the homepage text. (Only another 26 pages to go after the homepage!)

Before I started, I decided to explore tips and tricks that others have used, so a quick internet search for “SEO tools”  This, in itself is a time-consuming exercise, and after an hour or searching from one forum to the next I hit upon http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/best-seo-tools/. I had stumbled upon this site the previous week and had read a brilliant article, so I decided I would stop here and work through some of the recommendations.

So, first things first.

I have a new website – lets audit it. By this I mean I want to have a benchmark of zero – new site, no back links, no ranking, but as I optimise the site I need to be able to chart my progress. I’ve downloaded FREE the Website Auditor – http://www.link-assistant.com/  I must confess, even with the free version, I’m instantly reminded that I’ve not paid enough attention to the onsite meta data. So for the next hour, I go back through the Content Management of the website in order to ensure that the Meta Data is in place. In an hour, I didn’t manage to finish all the pages. I think this is something that I need to keep addressing. This is a relatively large website and some thought needs to be given to this, so that each page contains relevant data. Two hours down and I still haven’t started crafting the copy on my home page!

Next on my list is to identify the key phrases for which I want to be found and then to take steps to re-write the copy to optimised the home page for these three phrases. Another hour and a half, continuously crafting the copy and then checking with the Website Auditor allowed me to see an improvement on my optimisation rate from 35% (which was extremely poor) to an optimization rate of 81.8%.

Because I’m not quite ready to launch We Build Websites on the world (we have to relocate offices which will result in downtime and I’m not prepared to leave clients without support for any length of time) I haven’t set up Facebook page, LinkedIn profiles or used any Social Media to promote the site as yet… quite possibly I might chart the pitfalls of this exercise in my next post!