Monday, 23 December 2013

Why Your Website is not Generating Sales


Although it is not the sole reason for operating a website, the generation of revenue through sales remains the main purpose of creating and maintaining an internet presence. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, not all commercial websites produce the sales returns that their owners wish for. In this article we examine a few of those reasons and suggest how, if they are adversely affecting your own sales generation, you might remedy them.


The Website Copy


One of the most important characteristics of a professional site is that it looks professional. It should also be easily readable to its visitors. Choose a text font that is attractive and consider the size of the text with your audience in mind. The font size should be neither too large nor too small. It is essential that the spelling is correct and that the grammar is equally accurate. Your website is likely to be seen by those who visit it as a reflection of the overall quality of your goods and services. If you expect your potential customers to have confidence in the high quality of those services or goods, the standard of your website copy will need to be equally high.


Image Quality


One of the best ways of augmenting the attractiveness of your site is the inclusion of images. Once again, the quality of this content is all-important. Whilst it may be tempting to take your own images for uploading onto your site, this is likely to be a false economy unless you are a particularly skilled photographer. It is far better for you to use the type of professionally taken images that can be purchased at a relatively low cost from a commercial stock image site or engage your own professional photographer. High quality imagery is likely to depict your goods, services, premises, staff team, etc in an attractive and positive manner, making it more likely that they will help to generate sales.


Why Your Website is not Generating Sales 


Usability


It is also important, especially with larger commercial websites that have many pages, that the site is easy to use. Visitors to the site will need easy to follow links that take them to and from the different site pages. The content of the linked pages should be as described in the text, logo, tab or button that takes the visitor to them. There should be clear guidance on how to contact you, preferably with the inclusion of a contact form that is easy to complete. If you are selling products online, the procedure and any forms that must be completed for making a purchase should be clear, straightforward and, most importantly, secure. Your site should be as user-friendly as you would expect from any commercial website that you visit. If it is not, any potential sales that it might generate are likely to go to one of your site’s more user-friendly competitors.


Website Errors


One of the most frustrating experiences, when visiting a website, is to encounter site errors. Broken links, which lead to a visit to a page with a “Page Not Found” script rather than to where you wanted to go, are amongst the most annoying. Not far behind are links that take you to a page that does exist but is the wrong page. Broken and/or inaccurate links, as well as email links that do not work, contact forms that are ineffective and other similar site errors all have the same effect on potential sales. These kinds of site error have two obvious effects. Firstly, they are likely to result in your site visitor leaving it before they even get to the point where they are considering making a purchase. Secondly they reflect detrimentally on your organisation’s overall professional presentation. Either way, they will inevitably reduce the prospects of your website generating sales.


Summary


If you want your website to be an effective aid in generating sales it is essential that you spend the necessary time on perfecting and maintaining its content so that its professionalism is seen to be a reflection of the quality of the goods and services that it is showcasing.


 


Image Credit: Bryan Kerrigan




Why Your Website is not Generating Sales

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Easy Way to Get More Clicks – Optimise Your Meta Descriptions and Titles


When you carry our a search on one of the popular internet search engines you will find that the results that appear contain not only the address of the websites in question but also incorporate snippets of information about the website page that the address refers to. These snippets of information are contained in the title and meta description of the page. Although this coded content cannot be seen by site visitors, it is always accessed by the search engines when they respond to a search query. That is why, if you want your site to rank highly with the search engines, it is essential to perfect the titles and meta descriptions on all of your website’s pages


In this article, we will demonstrate where the title and meta description appear in the search engine results and provide some guidelines as to how best to optimise their content.


The easiest way to identify the location of the title and the meta description in the search results is by reference to the search result featured in the image below.


The Easy Way to Get More Clicks – Optimise Your Meta Descriptions and Titles


Titles


In the search result above, the address of the website page (also known as the url) that the search engine is inviting the internet user to visit is the site’s home page, www.makeusawebsite.com.  Immediately above that are the words that represent the title of that page of the site. 


This is the first descriptive content that anyone reading the search result will see. For that reason it is important that the title accurately, yet concisely, describes the content of the web page that it represents. Nothing can be more irritating than to follow a search result to a website only to find that the site’s content does not accurately reflect what its title suggests. Even worse are lengthy, verbose titles that may actually put potential visitors off the idea of visiting the site at all. Finally, titles that are stuffed with your site’s keywords can look especially unappealing to prospective traffic. Titles such as these are far less likely to attract the clicks that will take the visitor to your site.


It is also important to ensure that every page has its own title and that it is specific to that one page. Duplication of page titles should be avoided.


What is equally important to bear in mind is that the search engines analyse all these factors when assessing the value of your site in terms of the extent to which their users are likely to enjoy the experience of visiting it. If the formulation of your website’s page titles breaks one or more of these rules of thumb it is possible that it will be exposed to less search engine-sourced traffic.


Meta Descriptions


Returning to our search result example above, the meta description of a web page is the fuller, more detailed narrative that is set out below the page address. This wording assists the search engines and, if the page appears in a search result, the users of the search engine, to understand more fully the nature of the site’s page content. Quality meta descriptions can help your site to appear attractive to a searcher and should contain key information (and key words) about the pages that they describe. Again, repetition should be avoided and it is essential to ensure that every page has its own specific meta description. You should never underestimate the importance of meta descriptions. Although they do not appear on the web page that they describe, they do appear to the search engines and to those who employ them when they surf the internet. A good and accurate meta description is more likely to tempt a search user to click on your site than an inadequate or, even worse, non-existent one!


Getting your metal descriptions right is therefore another essential component of any campaign to raise your site’s online profile and traffic. 


Summary


Whilst your site’s page titles and meta descriptions are coded and hidden from view, they are nevertheless an integral feature in the measurement of the overall quality of your website.


To impress both the search engines and their users, you need to spend time on getting them right!




The Easy Way to Get More Clicks – Optimise Your Meta Descriptions and Titles

Friday, 13 December 2013

How to Best Use Your 30 Minutes A Day on Social Media

The employment of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Google+ is considered to be an essential tool in assisting with the marketing of a business and many large organisations now have one or more members of their team who are employed solely to manage their social media presence. Of course, owners of smaller businesses are unlikely to be in a position to employ social media managers and have to rely on their own endeavours, often during the course of an already busy day. In this article, therefore, we provide a few suggestions as to how best to use your 30 minutes a day on your organisation’s social media.

Starting Up


Probably the most important stage in the management of your social media presence is the planning phase. You will need to decide which of the platforms is/are most suited to your business and how many of them you wish to engage with. Some, like Twitter, which is probably the most interactive, require more work than the others. It will also demand increasingly more of your time as your followers and their contributions increase. The more static platforms, such as YouTube and Linkedin, do not require the same frequency of attention and the time you allocate to them is driven more by you rather than by your external contributors. If you are going to develop a social media profile it will suffer if it does not receive the required time and this may have a detrimental impact on the perception of your business.  It is essential, therefore, that you choose your social media platforms by close reference to the time that you are willing and able to spend on it.


Choose Your Relationships Carefully


Whichever social media platform(s) you decide on, you will want to develop a network of associates that complements your organisation and its products and services and has the potential to lead to new business. You should research potential customers to ascertain whether they have a social media presence. If they do, you should make the necessary connection by following, liking, subscribing, joining their network etc. Once you have done this, you should respond to their contributions in a constructive way in the hope that this will encourage them to make the required reciprocal connection with you. In this way, you will build an audience that will be relevant to and, hopefully, interested in your product. You should always remember, when building an audience, that quality, rather than quantity, is what counts.


Identify Influencers


Influencers are social media users who share information, guidance, product reviews and recommendations to their followers. The more influential the influencer is considered to be the more valuable their interactions are to their followers and the more likely it is that their recommendations will be relied upon. If you identify and connect with an influencer who has a specific interest in your type of business or product it will create the potential for building an increased audience that can access your website through your social media profile.


Control Your Content


The biggest mistake that many social media users make is to limit their contributions to self-serving links to their own websites, services and products without making any contribution to the overall benefit of their network. This is likely to antagonise your audience and result in them ignoring you. Instead of concentrating solely on plugging your business you should contribute positively to your network.  Keep abreast of recent developments and add comments and links to industry-related news items, share your personal knowledge and experiences, provide tips and tricks, pose questions to your audience and, generally, try to ensure that your contributions are perceived, by your network, as being useful, focused and informative.


How to Best Use Your 30 Minutes A Day on Social Media


Marketing


The need to relate positively to your audience is not to say, of course, that you should not devote some of your time to promoting your products and services. However, the time that you spend for the benefit of other members of your network in the way described above will, undoubtedly, make your promotional activities more likely to receive the required response. In this way, you can enhance the marketing possibilities that your social media presence creates. If your audience enjoys and values your social media contributions they are far more likely to visit your site and look at what it has to offer!


Be Responsive


If you receive comments on your social media platform(s) you should take the necessary time to respond, especially if the comment is negative. Resist at all costs, the temptation to ignore or delete adverse comments. It is far better for your social media profile to deal with criticism honestly and directly. It is also likely to reflect adversely on your business if you simply sidestep any critical comments about it.


Summary


This is not an exhaustive list of tips on how to set up and manage your social media campaign. However, it contains some useful guidelines, which are likely to assist in ensuring that you create and maintain the social media profile that is best equipped to advance your business, its products and services.  MakeUsAWebsite provide social media management services, feel free to contact us for a quote.


Image Credit: By Derzsi Elekes Andor




How to Best Use Your 30 Minutes A Day on Social Media

Monday, 9 December 2013

What is a Safe SEO Strategy?

Everyone wants their website to rank highly with the internet search engines. The better ranking the website, the more visitors it is likely to receive and, in turn, the more business it is likely to produce. That is why it is important to have a strategy for optimizing your site in the search engine rankings. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process through which, it is hoped, your website will be able rise through the rankings and surpass the sites of its main competitors. As this article will demonstrate, however it is not always a straightforward task and the person or organisation that is responsible for your own SEO campaign will need to ensure that the strategies that they employ are safe as well as effective.


Site Content


One of the most important aspects of SEO is ensuring that the content of your website is original and is produced to a standard that is attractive to site visitors.  The search engines are able to detect low quality  sites with poorly presented or duplicate content. Websites that add to their content regularly, through a blog, a news feed or other regular updating, are also more attractive to the search engines, as they indicate a more helpful  and informative experience for  the visitor. Websites must also satisfy the search engines’ technical quality standards. Glitches such as broken links, missing pages and other bugs detract from the visitor experience and will be penalized by the search engines for this. The foremost – and safest – SEO strategy is therefore to construct and maintain a website of quality.


Key Words


The inclusion of carefully researched key words is a vital part of the development and maintenance of your site’s content. These key words are designed to correspond with both generic and specific search terms that potential site users are likely to type into the search engines. The keywords should also be carefully positioned and should not be so numerous as to suggest that you are “keyword stuffing”. This is the loading of a site’s pages with keywords in an effort to manipulate its rankings. Not only is this a practice that will reflect poorly on your site’s content, the only likely effect that it will have on its rankings is a sudden and dramatic fall.


Social Media


The use of social media sites such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin is now thought to be crucial to any successful SEO campaign. A wide social media presence is likely to result  in a greater overall online presence and the search engines will detect the important “social signposts” that are given by your site’s social media presence. The number of “Likes” “Followers” and “Shares” that your website receives will not only enhance its online status but will also bring an increased amount of traffic to it.


Genuine Link Building


An important factor when the search engines evaluate your website, although somewhat less so than in previous years, is  the number of quality inbound links that it receives from other sites. There  is only one way to achieve quality links and that is through a combination of the quality of your site and your product. Make genuine business connections with websites that complement your own site. Avoid artificial link building, either by purchasing links or involving yourself in widespread link exchange schemes, as these will be recognized for what they are – ways to artificially boost your site’s apparent popularity – and will affect the site detrimentally. A genuine link from a valued site, whilst  not as coveted as it once was, will still add to the authority that the search engines give your  website.


 What is a Safe SEO Strategy?


Guest Blogging


An increasingly popular SEO strategy is guest blogging. Many websites and blogs are looking for content on a regular basis. If you can produce content for them they may well incorporate a link back to your own website. If the content that you have written is informative it will be likely to create additional site visitors, as people will want to click on the link to learn more about you and your products and services. Equally importantly, the search engines will give your site credit for the fact that another site has published the material and the link back to  you. The higher the ranking of the other site or blog, the greater the benefit to your own site is likely to be.


Follow the Guidelines


Although SEO is not a exact science, there are, as described above, some general rules of thumb when it comes to safe SEO practices. Indeed, the search engines themselves publish their own guidance on how to ensure that your SEO strategies are safe. Google, which is by far the biggest search engine, provides detailed advice and tools to help webmasters maintain good practices and that guidance is updated regularly to reflect any changes that Google makes in the way that it assesses site quality. If your own SEO manager is to maintain a safe SEO campaign, a close knowledge of and adherence to Google’s guidelines (which are also closely reflected in the policies of the other search engines) is essential.


Summary


SEO can be challenging even for the most experienced and skilled practitioner. However accomplished you may be in the field of SEO one indisputable fact remains. The only way of ever achieving successful SEO results is by adopting and maintaining safe SEO strategies.


 


Image Credit: Enrique Dans



What is a Safe SEO Strategy?

Monday, 2 December 2013

How to Make Your Website Stand Out: Use Quality Images.

If you have a website, you will want to employ every possible way of impressing your site visitors. After all, if they are impressed with the quality of the website’s content, they are more likely to be interested in the products or services that it is showcasing. One way of giving added attraction to a website is by the inclusion of quality photographs. Pictures really do paint a thousand words and product-specific images are able to provide your site visitors with an immediate insight into what you have to offer them, whilst generic photographs add to the site’s overall attraction. Whilst it  may be tempting to use your own images on your site – and it may certainly save a little money to do so – our view is that this may well be a false economy. Images taken on standard cameras or camera phones present far less effectively on websites than either the images that can be obtained cheaply and easily through one of the many online stock image providers or, for photographs that are specific to your products, through a professional photographer. We set out below the main reasons for selecting one or other of these methods when it comes to choosing the image content for your own website.

Stock Images


When you are looking to add images to your site one of the first ports of call should be an internet search of the websites that provide stock images. In simple terms,  stock images are those that are provided by a photographer for the use of a third  party. This avoids the need to engage your own photographer and, therefore, can be a real money saver. To use the stock images that you have chosen you will need to pay a license fee. This can vary according to the size and quality of the image, the stock image website and the photographer’s personal rates. The  images can be downloaded online upon payment of the requisite fee. Because the sites that deal in stock images wish to maintain a reputation for providing high quality material, they tend to reject any photographs of a poor standard. You can be assured, therefore, that what you download from a stock image site will be of sufficiently high quality for uploading to your own site.


How to Make Your Website Stand Out: Use Quality Images.


Professional Photography


You may well have a need for certain images that are specific to your own products or services, which the stock image providers will not be able to meet. In those cases you will need to produce these images yourself. Whilst it is cheaper to rely on your own photographic skills, we would suggest that using a professional photographer is likely to represent a far better option for your website. The main reason for this is that there is much more to website imagery than simply taking a photograph and uploading it. The image will need to be optimized for internet use and it is far more difficult to do this with an image of poor quality than it is for a professionally taken one. The size of the image is particularly important, as it will have a direct effect on the time that the image takes to load. A professional photographer with experience in producing material for websites, can easily optimize the size and other aspects of the image for internet use, whilst maintaining the highest quality levels. Thus, you will end up with images that provide an accurate and commercial depiction of your products without detracting from the performance of your website.


Summary


If you want to include images on your website, and it is a great idea to do so, you need to ensure that they are of a high quality and are optimized for both the enjoyment of your site visitors and for the successful operation of your site. The best way of achieving both of these goals is to use professionally produced images, whether these be licensed stock images or the production of a professional photographer.




How to Make Your Website Stand Out: Use Quality Images.