Monday, October 1, 2018

Common Website Mistakes

Your website is a virtual billboard. It often gives potential clients their first impression of what your company has to offer. With a great website, you’ll be able to attract, educate, and convince visitors to buy your products or services. Let's discuss a few mistakes to avoid so your website will work as well as intended.
Not Mobile Friendly
A mobile friendly website is essentially when your regular website adjusts its display optimally based on the size of the display on a mobile device. It does not necessarily look like a tiny version of your website. Instead, it positions and resizes content for the best display experience.

The most common way to do this is via a responsive design. A responsive design website is built using flexibly sized elements which are controlled by the website code. No matter what size screen the user is using to view your website, the text, images, navigation and graphics will resize fluidly. It’s not device-specific or browser-specific. It’s designed to look good and function well at any size.

No Contact Information
If you’re selling a product or service, you need to offer visitors several ways to contact you. The best option is to have a link to a “Contact Us” page that provides an email form as well as complete contact information: mailing address, phone number and email address. That link should be on every page of your website, or within the common header or footer of your website. The very presence of this information adds legitimacy to your site and terrific geographical information for search engines.

Stranding Users on Other Websites
When you have a link on your website that will direct your visitor to another website, make sure you open a new window or tab on your browser to display the other website. Not doing so, and using the same window for the new website, will take your website visitors away from your website in their browser. In that case for the visitor to return to your website, they either need to press the browser's "back" button many times, or they will need to reenter your website address in the browser address bar.

Instead, have your website open another window for any link that will direct a visitor to another website. Your visitor will then be able to easily go back to the point where they left you website simply by closing the new window or tab.

Choosing the Wrong Keywords
When you type a keyword or phrase into the search box, the search engine returns a list of websites that it tries to match the entered search phrase. Search engines have algorithms that they use to determine the relevancy of the returned matches websites to the search terms. There are several free tools to help you determine the right search terms. Among those are Google Ads.

In your website content and code, you need to place those keywords or phrases. That helps the search engine understand the meaning of your website when the search terms are used. However, be sure to identify and use for your website the words and phrases that your visitors will use to search for a website like yours.

If your intended audience will be from within your industry, industry terms may be used. However, if your intended audience will be lay people from outside your industry, then use terms that lay people will use. It's not likely that the search engine algorithms will be able to effectively match lay person terms to websites with mostly industry terms.

Broken Links
Broken links are links that don’t work. Some of the reasons why links don’t work include, the website is no longer available, the web page was moved without a redirect being added (server 404 error) or the website URL was changed. Displaying a default server 404 error page, or another default error page, is the same as asking the visitor to leave your website. Instead, redirect users having links to old page to the new related page. Or, default all 404 errors to your website's Home page.

Cleaning up broken links can improve user experience and make content within your website easier for visitors and search engines to discover. However, websites with too many broken links signal a low-quality website to search engines, and especially to your visitors.

Bad Font Selection
Script or Serif (having small features on the ends of strokes) fonts may be harder for your visitors to read clearly, especially when rendering your website on a small tablet display or smartphone. Popular serif  fonts are Times and Georgia. Popular sans serif (without serif) fonts are Arial and Verdana. Stick with sans serif fonts for greater text clarity.

Unrelated Content
Your website is an ambassador of your brand online. Consistency across pages in your website plays an important role in establishing a solid and effective understanding or your brand to both your website visitors (and for SEO). To give your website visitors a clear understanding of your brand, you must deliver a consistent message across all pages on your website. If you have both professional and personal interests, but they are not related (e.g. you offer business marketing consulting services and you enjoy breeding beagles), don't put the content of both unrelated interests on one website. Half of your audience will be turned off by the content not of interest to them. In addition, the mixing of unrelated content makes it difficult for the search engines to determine website relevancy to search engine queries, resulting in a lower positioning in the results. If you do want to promote unrelated content online, do so with separate websites.

Remember that you need to target your website to your audience. It's necessary that you understand the attributes and characteristics that can make or break the effectiveness of your website to your brand. A poorly built or operating website will do more to hurt your brand than to help it.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below...

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Benefits of Blogging

This is my 100th blog post! I'm not telling you this to show off. (Well, maybe I'm doing that just a little.) Instead, I really want to use this post to discuss some of the benefits of blogging, at least what I have gotten from doing that. I’ve seen firsthand the difference blogging can make in terms of search visibility, generating leads, promoting my business and validating my experience and professionalism.
Increases Website Visits
As you add more content to your website, more pages from your website domain become indexed in search engines. Search engines want to deliver results that are helpful to their users. When you write a series of in-depth, valuable articles around a topic, the search engines take notice. This improves organic search visibility and increases website traffic. Every new page & post you publish improves the opportunities you have to increase the ranking for various keywords on your website. As search engines better understand the relevancy of your website to search terms, you will begin to have more people view your website.

Promote Your Expertise and Brand
Since a blog gives you a platform for sharing important industry-related information and insights, it is one of the best ways to establish yourself or your brand as an expert in your field. As you write more posts and share more of your expertise, your website will become a powerful demonstration of your knowledge in your profession. When somebody visits your website and sees the insights you’ve shared on a subject,  it will be clear that you are an expert in your field.

Become a Better Writer
Good writing means more search-engine traffic, more social shares, and ultimately more customers. Bad writing means being ignored. The more you blog, the more you write. And the more you write, the better writer you become. As for the type of content to write, use your blog to share your views on what others write, comment on industry trends, or simply use your blog posts like a periodic newsletter.

Differentiate Yourself From Your Competition
Blogging on your website is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. By providing your own unique thoughts and insights, you grow your search traffic, customer trust and conversions. Blogging may also level the playing field between a small business and the big competitors. It can give you an opportunity to compete with bigger businesses with bigger budgets.

Take Control of Your Online Identity
Whether you’re a person or business, there’s probably lots of information about you online. When somebody searches for you online, you want to make sure that you make a good first impression, and that they get an accurate and complete picture of what you’re all about. Trust is a valuable commodity online. You can’t buy trust. It must be earned by consistently demonstrating your commitment to your website visitors. A blog is a great way to build trust and take control your online identity.

If you were car shopping today, would you consider models from Honda or Toyota? There was a lot of negative press about these 2 brands in the recent past. However, most car shoppers will still consider Honda or Toyota products in their automobile search. The reason why is that through the content these companies posted via their website as well as other channels, they demonstrated that they seriously investigated the issues identified in the press, they were being addressed attentively, and they continue their dedication to delivering a quality product.

Grow Your Professional Network
Blogging is a community-based activity, and networking is one reason people engage in it. Whether you are a solo practitioner, job seeker or blogging to promote your business, blogging can help to build relationships that will facilitate your growth.

My Final Thoughts
As you can see, I am a big advocate for blogging, as well as engaging with your audience online. Blogging requires only a little investment of your time. However, it has the potential for a big ROI from your time investment. The platform you chose (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) is irrelevant. Your content is what is most relevant. From a practical standpoint, blogging just makes good sense.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below...