eBusiness Blog

3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid

3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid Search Engine Optimization has become one of the most complicated aspects of having an online presence. The variables that are key to earning your rank constantly update and change and there are many things that can go wrong. Moreover, SEO for service-based businesses have goals that are not necessarily going to be achieved through strategies built for other types of businesses. In this article we're going to look at 3 pitfalls you should avoid when marketing your service-based business online.

Looking for help with your website strategy? Read our article: 5 Keys to a Winning Website Content Strategy

Your business's online presence will only help you if it's aligned with guidelines and expectations laid out by Google and any website you use to help rank your website. Make sure you've got these all covered!
  1. Google My Business

    We previously reviewed the Google My Business service to let you know that you need to claim your business, mark its location on Google Maps, and fill everything out. If you haven't done this yet or even if you have and just want to review it, it's important to get it done right.   Make sure you have the exact right location. Inputting any location incorrectly will not only mislead users but Google will eventually find out. You'll get caught either through a user complaint or their own algorithm and you'll lose your listing placement in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) if not the listing entirely.   Also make sure you've got the right business type category filled in. This is an often-missed element some businesses don't even touch. Make sure you've got your category, address, and every other element filled in properly and have great photos.   Google presents this info to users to help them find the right business so misleading the user in any way with the wrong information will severely impact your online marketing and website ranking efforts.
  2. Don't Overdo It

    You have your keywords (if you don't please review this post) and you want Google to know you want to rank for them. That's great and it's definitely essential to have those keywords on your website in the copy and the various meta tags.   Too much though will raise a flag with Google. SEO has a big problem with fraud. There are too many fraudulent agencies all over the world who define themselves by their ability to abuse Google and falsify ranking signals.   One technique that unfortunately did work years ago was keyword stuffing. That was a long time ago though and now Google can see clearly when someone is overstating their relevance.   Use the keywords but only enough to state it. Once you have made the point with your page that it's about that subject, start looking at semantic variations. The copy should flow well and be easily readable, so write your copy first and then edit it for SEO terms.   It's a good idea to limit the term to 3 – 5 instances depending on the length of the page. For service-based businesses who deal locally this definitely applies to your location serviced.   Don't overdo it or Google will think you're being dishonest.
  3. Be Consistent

    Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) needs to be the same on all listings. If you have several locations, make unique listings for each when adding your business to websites like yp.com, superpages.com, and Yelp.   If you only have the one location, then you just have to be very careful that each location listing has identical contact information. Scrutinize this heavily because some websites may display elements slightly differently and some fields can get filled in wrong.   Review these so you're not sending mixed signals to Google and to users.
Don't panic if you're guilty of any of these pitfalls. They're easy problems to fix and once you have them right, you'll be in much better shape to earn higher placement in Google. They'll also help your users by providing the right information, and in a way that doesn't seem like you're misleading them in any way. If you've got all these done right and you're working on earning rank but finding there is just too much to do or you can't figure it all out, then please let us know. Our SEO professionals will review your entire online presence, goals, and use those to develop a strategy that works to earn your website rank for the terms you want it to rank for. Let us know if you have any questions about SEO pitfalls in the comments below or email us and we'll make sure you get an answer. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. If you are enjoying these articles geared to helping the entrepreneur and small business owner more easily navigate the online world, sign up for our free website guide plus weekly newsletter here: >> www.UltimateWebsiteGuide.ca P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="'3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid' new from @eVisionMedia" quote="'3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid' new from @eVisionMedia" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

10 Steps to Preparing Your Business for the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

Even if Your Business is Not Located in the EU

10 Steps to Preparing Your Business for the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of rules amended to the current Data Projection Act that will soon be mandated for those businesses dealing with European consumers. On May 25, 2018 the regulation insists on safeguarding the personal information of all citizens of European Union member states. While many businesses are already aligned with the specifications, it’s important to make sure your business has everything covered. [clickToTweet tweet="On May 25, 2018, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) takes effect. Is your business prepared?" quote="On May 25, 2018, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) takes effect. Is your business prepared?" theme="style1"] This article takes a look at what you need to have in place in order to avoid being found in violation of the GDPR. The truth is these new rules are aimed at large companies who deal in information as a source of revenue. Smaller businesses aren’t likely to be penalized the 4% of worldwide gross or 20 million Euros that large corporations will if they’re found in violation. If you’re worried about having a mountain of work ahead of you to prepare, you shouldn’t be. If you’re unsure if you will be affected look for these key signals:
  1. You deal in information as a commodity;
  2. You request user’s data when they complete a purchase and use the data elsewhere or store it;
  3. You deal with one or more European countries.
If the answer is no to those 3 questions then you will be fine!

Looking for help with your website strategy? Try our article: 5 Keys to a Winning Website Strategy

So what can you do just in case?

Here’s 10 steps your business can take to be best prepared for the GDPR, even if you are not physically located in the EU.

  1. If your website has an online form that incudes a pre-checked box giving permission to receive promotional emails from 3rd parties, this box now needs to be unchecked.
  2. If your business conducts any form of list-building, ensure everyone on that list has given explicit permission to be in it. Under the Canadian PIPEDA, it was enough to have implied permission; however, if any EU residents are in your database, the rules are much more firm and you must provide subscribers with the right to obtain the information stored on them.
  3. Make sure your entire staff are aware of the new rules. Circulate a memo to all personnel with a follow-up meeting where the points are reviewed. Asking a few questions to key players whose roles would be most affected by the new rules is a great way to ensure they’re aware of what they need to do.
  4. Audit all stored client/customer info and track where you got it from and where it’s been used. Keep a record of every bit of info and who you may have passed it to at any time, and document the relationship and reasoning.
  5. Update your privacy policy so it includes the reasoning for retaining any user data, how it is legally used, and how users can contact your business if they feel their information is in any way being misused.
  6. Have a clear method in place to address requests for erasing a user’s data. Under the DPA, users already had certain rights but the GDPR takes it further with information rights pertaining to their data stored by your business.The rights consist of:
    • the right to be informed
    • the right of access
    • the right to rectification
    • the right to erasure
    • the right to restrict processing
    • the right to data portability
    • the right to object
    • the right not to be subject to automated decision-making including profiling
    You will need to be able to provide all this information in a clear and machine-readable format (not in hand writing).
  7. Have a process in place for handing over large volumes of requests. Previously under the DPA businesses had 40 days to comply with a request. That has been shortened to one month. Any lawful request must be fulfilled though if there are a large number of requests and the suspected reasoning is to cause problems for your business then these requests can be contested legally.
  8. Have your lawful reasoning for retaining user data or passing to others clearly stated for users. Users must have a clear understanding of why you want their data, what you do with it, and who you might share it with. And they must have the option to say no. This is separate from Terms and Conditions.
  9. If your business deals with anyone under the age of 16 then you’ll need a parent or guardian’s permission to process any of the child’s data. This is very important and strictly regulated but at the same time if you’re not dealing in information as a commodity then you’re likely not going to have to worry.
  10. Have steps in place to address a data breach. In the event that user’s data may be compromised you will need to have a way to let all affected users know what was compromised and when. Assigning someone internally the task of coordinating the response is a great idea.
And that’s it! As you can see it’s a big business problem and more so rooted in user protection in Europe where social networks have been cited as problematic and susceptible to foreign influence. North America is not really affected much but the issue is still very newsworthy, which can make some small business owners nervous when they don’t need to be. In saying that, this article from Small Business BC points out some seemingly harmless potential data breaches that could put you at risk of violation such as sending out greeting cards to customers living in the EU. If you have any questions about the GDPR please comment below or message us directly and we’ll make sure you get an answer. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. If you are enjoying these articles geared to helping the entrepreneur and small business owner more easily navigate the online world, sign up for our free website guide plus weekly newsletter here: >> www.UltimateWebsiteGuide.ca P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="'10 Steps to Preparing Your Business for the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)' new from @eVisionMedia" quote="'10 Steps to Preparing Your Business for the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)' new from @eVisionMedia" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

Why Your Business Website Needs a Page for Every Purpose

Why Your Website Needs a Page for Every Purpose

Your website may be the online representation of your business, or the actual business, but either way it’s there to service your customers and clients.

Users visit your website looking for what you provide and the last thing you want to do after spending time and money on online marketing is confuse them or not provide them with the information they’re looking for. This is why it’s so important to make sure whatever it is you’re selling, you have a page dedicated to it!

Looking for help with your website strategy? Read our article: 5 Keys to a Winning Website Strategy

Many businesses make mistakes when planning their website and it’s often because they’re so knowledgeable of their products or services they assume others are as well. This misstep leads to issues such as having a complicated navigation or incomplete user experiences. But the most glaring error is omitting something all together. When you plan your website, approach the site as though you’re completely new to what you do. Review your business and outline the various unique offerings and who is interested in them. It’s important to define your ideal target client and then assess why you think your business provides something of value to them. Inbound marketing giants have been talking about developing user personas for years for a reason. By creating a fictitious user who represents a group of potential clients you can then begin the task of creating a page or pages that focus on what they want from you. These target market personas typically start with demographic and psychographic-related questions that help define the ideal client you wish to attract in your business. You can also delve into your website statistical information or hire professional search engine optimization specialists to research your Google Analytics who can provide demographic information that will show you some insights about who has previously visited your site and converted into being a client. Compile all of your research data and form a clear idea on the type of users that come to your site. This will help you target them effectively by using the right language on a page that addresses their specific needs on what they are looking for.

Example:

Karen is a motivational speaker and mindfulness consultant. When assessing her data she clearly sees that she has a strong voice in helping businesses motivate employees and improve productivity of teams by developing unique strategies that help them work more effectively together. She also has great results booking corporate events for strictly motivational talks.

Using that data Karen sees that the decision makers for those two offers are quite different.

Persona 1 is a female aged 35 – 45. She has arrived at the page looking for someone to fix issues at her company and help her employees work better together.

Persona 1 requires a clearly titled page that spells out why Karen is the ideal candidate to help persona 1.

Persona 2 is male aged 40 – 50 who wants someone that can talk to a crowd full of people and entertain them while inspiring them to achieve more.

Persona 2 needs a unique page too. The page will have a different message that speaks to the specific needs of this user type.

Persona 1 now has a page: Team Building

Persona 2 has a page: Corporate Events

It’s a lot easier than you think to do this so don’t be shy about getting ambitious with your website strategy. If you have any questions you can always reach out to us for help! Remember that not having these types of specific pages on your website is like not having a section of a store for something you sell. Picture a store that sells footwear and while they do have basketball shoes, they forgot to make a section for them. They would lose every potential customer looking for basketball shoes. Honesty is very important when planning your website so be realistic about your business goals and what you provide. While it’s bad to not have a page for everything you provide, it’s worse to have a page for something you don’t and misleading users. This month we’re targeting website must-haves so you can make sure your website accurately represents your business and converts visitors into clients. If you’re in the process of a redesign or planning a new site for your business, you’ll want to read our blog every week for more tips on making the most of your website for your business. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. If you liked what you read here, you will want to sign up for our newsletter where you’ll get notified every Thursday of that day’s blog post. Sign up to also receive our free website guide at: www.UltimateWebsiteGuide.ca P.P.S. We’ve got an amazing membership program to help you make the most of your digital marketing and social media efforts: AMPLiFY! Business Academy provides practical social media & digital marketing strategies for entrepreneurs. This program is designed to help small business owners and entrepreneurs build their business properly with social media and online marketing. To find out more and join, visit: www.amplifybusinesssacademy.com [article_about_author author="mark"]

Where Social Media is Headed in 2018

Where Social Media is headed in 2018 Social media is a very new aspect of our businesses that has taken over significant parts of not only our marketing plans but also our personal lives. Major platforms battle for prominence and significance by adjusting their business models to provide better returns for their shareholders while intending to improve the user experience. As these systems develop, how you use these platforms for your business must change as well.

For tips on how to improve your social media read our article: How to set your social media goals for 2018

Social Media ROI

While certain trends are consistent, subtle variables at play can become game changers. Recently Facebook has announced adjustments to its news feed and if that matters to your social media marketing then you will need to account for that change. For that platform brands and businesses will now have an even harder time connecting to users with no previous demonstrated connection to the company trying to reach them. When Facebook originally started it was a free-for-all and at that point everyone marketing online pounced. But year after year it became harder and harder to reach any users organically through their feed. Now even the paid reach will be more restricted making it even harder to drive traffic from posts to your business’s page or website. If you measure the ROI of your social media efforts with an emphasis just on the Facebook platform then you may be alarmed when you see the stats start to change. So how do you measure the return on your investment in social media? According to Buffer, most measure by analyzing engagement with lead generation being second place and a sale being third. As we all know measuring a conversion can be very simple or very complex but for most small businesses, it’s the former and amounts to ‘did they buy from us?’ or ‘did they contact us?’. Moving forward the value of a lead may take precedence over engagement as platforms make it easier to qualify where the lead came from and how the user started in one place (social media) and wound up in another (your website).

Video Marketing

Another aspect that continues to attempt to move into a more prevalent spot is video marketing. In 2016 and 2017 many predictions were made about video becoming more and more relevant to businesses. Many companies have started, and some closed, whose sole offerings were pre-made videos that could be updated for a business or brand to use. The market hasn’t shown that businesses are warming to that and many small businesses simply shy away from the cost, effort, and risks associated with trying to produce professional quality video with a small budget. It’s not impossible to do but it can go badly very easily. As a result, video marketing is still struggling to lure companies in. Though in Buffer’s same analysis, the users they polled stated they are interested in doing more video this year.

What Should Your Business Do?

If you’re planning on adapting to trends, then two things genuinely stand out. While there is no shortage of opinions, most self-appointed experts or gurus are guilty of self promoting while hoping their particular specialty will become more relevant. Ask a video marketer and they’ll tell you it’s all video and YouTube. Ask a Facebook ads specialist and they’ll tell you it’s all about Facebook ads now. The truth is the only two big stand outs that have shown they’re providing better results are Instagram (and Instagram stories specifically) and LinkedIn ads. Instagram’s user base has grown dramatically and LinkedIn will soon be offering video ads leading to increased relevance for both. You may have a budget already set for your social media spending, but remember those are never fixed. Adjust and try attributing more to different platforms to gauge how effective it is for your business. While it may seem laborious it’s really not that hard to take an afternoon to read up on any recent changes and adjust your spending accordingly. If you find yourself too busy to bother or hung up by the complexity, it’s good to reach out to social media experts. They can work with your SEO consultant, or if you don’t have one, they may have a recommendation in making your social media work for you to avoid just pumping out content for the sake of having it and hoping it will do something for you. Make 2018 the year you really pay attention to your social media because more and more of your competitors are. Getting ahead of them requires adapting to change rather than resisting. Once you do you’ll see much better results from your online marketing. If you are brand new to using social media for your business and are ready to start but not sure where or how then please sign up for our Social Media Membership Program. It’s a cost effective and easy way to work with industry professionals while you study the ins and outs of social media, video, and online marketing. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. If you liked what you read here, you will want to sign up for our newsletter to the right of the page where you’ll get notified every Thursday of that day’s blog post. Click here to also receive our free website guide: www.UltimateWebsiteGuide.ca P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="Where Social Media for your business is headed in 2018" quote="Where Social Media for your business is headed in 2018" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

Online Marketing Plan Essentials – 3 Ways to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Website in Droves

Part Two: You Have a Website; Now How Do You Attract New Clients?

Online Marketing Plan Essentials – How to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Website in Droves In last week's article, we talked about setting up the tools you'll need to evaluate your website traffic in response to your online marketing efforts. And now it's time to come up with an online marketing plan. There are two broad categories to look at for your online marketing: Paid and Organic [clickToTweet tweet="An online marketing plan for website traffic comprises of 2 broad categories: Paid and Organic" quote="An online marketing plan for website traffic comprises of 2 broad categories: Paid and Organic" theme="style1"]

Paid Website Traffic

This term refers to all instances of purchasing ads for buying 'reach' and/or by paying to promote a post on social media. There are many different ways to buy visibility with an audience that it has become a massive industry unto itself. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all others are worth what they are because of the paid component. It's an essential part of any marketing strategy and not something you should attempt yourself unless you want to study this fast-paced industry and essentially become an expert in this field. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time, money and energy with no guaranteed results. Instead, hire an online marketing professional for help with this.

Organic Website Traffic

Organic traffic means visitors finding your website in a variety of ways that didn't require you paying for that traffic to find you. There are many ways to reach an audience through organic means. Before you begin any of the tactics described below, it's important to first define who your target market is, what your brand positioning should be and also understand what your competitive advantage is. [clickToTweet tweet="Ensure you do your market research before implementing a marketing plan" quote="Ensure you do your market research before implementing a marketing plan" theme="style1"] Once those key planning strategies are in place, it's time to implement the following to help drive qualified traffic to your website. Here are three online tactics to pursue:
  1. Content Marketing

    Content marketing is strategically creating website content that will appeal to your ideal target market so they can then get to know, like and trust you more and ultimately convert into a paying customer. Essentially, you're looking to establish yourself as an authority, entertain your users, and educate them.   Aside from creating compelling content, you also want to make sure that content is sending proper rank signals to Google by ensuring it is of value to the visitor as well as being unique. Content marketing is everywhere and nobody wants to read the same article for the hundredth time with a different voice saying the same thing.   When content is great, it gets linked to by other websites. These links are a major part of how Google evaluates your website for rank so great content not only drives traffic back, it also sends a positive message to Google that your website is worth ranking higher for the terms you're targeting with your content.   Content marketing has been such a booming part of SEO it's now harder than ever to be a voice in your industry so make your content count. 1 good piece of content is worth more than 1,000 bad ones.  

    » For more information on Content Marketing, read: Service Professional's "Newbie" Guide to Content Marketing.

  2. Local Business Listings

    Local business listings are easy to find and can be added by yourself via these local SEO tools listed here or your SEO marketer can also help with this. Some are paid but most are free.   Of any of the DIY methods for SEO this is the advisable one since it's an easy process and many SEO agencies will charge monthly fees for simply running the software.  

    » Click here for more information on how you can optimize your website for local search.  

  3. Social Media Marketing

    This is the seemingly simplest method of driving traffic to your website and the one most done wrong. Many business owners don't realize the purpose of using social media for business marketing is to drive traffic back to their website. This disconnect often causes a lot of wasted time and effort.   Social media management without SEO strategy is simply a PR campaign. All social platform links are what's called 'nofollow' links so they never factor into your rank without a strategy in place that makes use of them in spite of the links being nofollow.   When you pay for a social media marketing expert, you are getting the know-how to make your social media efforts count. Simply posting a lot is not going to do it. And hashtag spamming is a sure sign you've hired someone who doesn't know how social media marketing or even hashtags work.   Your social media is your way of connecting to your audience and Google observes that when traffic is sent through from a disconnected service. Your audience can grow much faster by reaching the right people but your content has to be unique and enjoyable to have an impact.  

    » For more information on Social Media Marketing, read: 13 of the Best Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media.

Feeling overwhelmed at the volume of effort needed to market your business? Find an online marketing agency who can work with you and your expertise so your input and knowledge of your industry is the guide when creating content that is presented as being from your company. Both users and Google will respond better to something of substance than anyone simply pumping out content for the sake of having something online. Also remember the point from earlier about the value of social media and make sure you're leveraging the paid component or you're missing out on a lot of your reach opportunity. As you can see there is much more to cover here than we can expect to review in a few blog posts so if you're interested in learning more about gaining valuable traffic to your website, then hiring a professional online marketing agency like eVision Media is a great next step. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. For more tips on how to make your website get you the results you're looking for, sign up for our free website guide plus weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners today. >> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="Online Marketing Plan Essentials – How to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Website in Droves" quote="Online Marketing Plan Essentials – How to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Website in Droves" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan

Part One: You Have a Website; Now How Do You Attract New Clients?

Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan

Having a website doesn’t do much for your business if no one visits it. Try these initial steps to marketing your website online.

In 2018 not having a website would be strange for almost any business. Whether a big corporation or a solo-entrepreneurship, there is likelihood some form of online presence is necessary. And for anyone dealing in the business to consumer (B2C) space, a website can even be the business. So you get a new website built, but what about getting qualified potential customers to it? The truth is, traffic is the life blood of any business website and not having any can be very harmful to the bottom line. [clickToTweet tweet="Traffic is the life blood of a website and not having any can harm the business bottom line" quote="Traffic is the life blood of a website and not having any can harm the business bottom line" theme="style1"] This is where on-site SEO, off-site SEO, paid efforts, content marketing and social marketing can all work together (and should) for a complete online marketing approach. What makes one component necessary is often the ability of the business owner to perform it. That can mean hiring marketing professionals, taking the time to attempt it themselves, or having a solid budget for paid methods and experts to navigate them for you. Ideally you want it all so all bases are covered. Many businesses have none of these tactics in place, or have them done wrong and as a result are struggling to gain qualified leads and traffic. This article covers what you need to gain traffic to your website and next week we'll get into more specifics of what to do once these preliminary steps are done.

Do These Three Things Before You Start Marketing

Before you start creating your marketing strategy there are three things you, or your marketing firm should do first:
  1. Install Google Analytics
  2. Set up Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools)
  3. Within Google Analytics (GA) set up a conversion (or conversions if you have more than 1 way to measure the success of a user’s experience on your website)
These three components are free and by having them set up, you can now measure how effective your marketing is. These tools are great for showing you what is happening with your website traffic. While there are thousands of third party tools promising to give more insight and help you gain traffic, they are all simply more in-depth diagnostic tools who’s relevance is the promised importance of providing an edge over the competition by way of the deeper level of insight. The argument against using them (aside from the often astronomical cost) is that Google is the one providing the tools listed above so it’s best to stick to what they have deemed of importance to your efforts with their free methods of analyzing user experience and website performance. Another thing to do before you start is test your website’s speed. Also make sure it’s going to work well on mobile devices. Google has seen sharp and rapidly escalating mobile usage over the years and since late 2015 even have Accelerated Mobile Pages. Mobile is key to the success of your site so make sure your website loads well on mobile devices.

Key Phrases Are Your Business’s Best Friend

The next thing you will need is a key phrase list. This will be a guide on the terms you want your website to show up in the results for when searched. In the past, these lists were much firmer but since Google has grown, it can infer meaning behind words or even groups of words that lead to an implied purpose. How to define keywords and phrases:
  • Use the Search Console to check your existing traffic and see what has been searched for in the past that was clicked on.
  • Check your competitor’s websites to see what kind of terms and phrases are coming up often (this shows you what they’re trying to rank for).
  • Use a keyword tool to check volume of the phrases such as Google’s keyword tool.
  • The best thing is to ask yourself and your team honestly what it is you do that provides value to your clients.
Your key phrases you want to rank for should all then be associated with a relevant page on your website. They should appear in the website copy (and in other on-site SEO signal spaces like Meta tags etc.). Once you have these key components in place, you are now ready to create a marketing plan and start driving traffic to your website so your business can start reaping the rewards of your efforts. And whether you're focusing your business marketing on local SEO, SEO with content marketing, Adwords, or usability assistance, it’s best to employ trustworthy online marketing professionals than to attempt it yourself. Be wary of tricks or anyone unable to demonstrate the efficacy of their efforts. If you have any questions at all or comments please leave them below and if you want help with your marketing plan for your business get in touch and we’ll be glad to help. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. For more tips on how to make your website get you the results you're looking for, sign up for our free website guide plus weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners today. >> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan" quote="Key Steps Before Implementing an Online Marketing Plan" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website

Why Your Business Can’t Ignore the Importance of Providing a Positive User Experience (UX)

7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website User Experience

Does your site provide the best user experience?

Bad website usability is not only bad for your users; it’s bad for your business too.

What exactly is website usability? It’s definitely one of those industry jargon terms that many entrepreneurs and business owners might not be familiar with. But should! Website usability means: how easy is it to use your website? If you’re unsure of what that is, then chances are you may need some help building a strategy for your website. Your website’s use is how well it accomplishes the reason you built it. Is it to generate leads? Get someone to make a purchase? Direct people to something else? Each page of your website needs a purpose and if that purpose isn’t clear, then the usability is diminished. [clickToTweet tweet="A website's usability is gauged by how well it accomplishes your site's goals" quote="A website's usability is gauged by how well it accomplishes your site's goals" theme="style1"] When web marketers look at usability they’re looking to see whether or not a user can complete a defined task with little to no confusion or frustration. So how do you know if your customers are finding your website easy to use?

Measuring User Experience and Usability

There are many services that have come and gone when it comes to measuring user activity and a site’s usability. Heatmap services such as Hotjar or Crazyegg have been semi successful though woefully abused in the hands of those who don’t know what to do with the information. These types of services give the website owner a birds-eye view at where their website visitors are focusing their attention. Testing groups can be a great asset but at the same time these are closed, controlled groups so they often inadvertently present misinformation by way of not being an accurate representation of the site’s actual target market. The best way to check your website’s usability is your Google Analytics. Google offers its analytic web-based software for free for many reasons. One is so you can make your website better. Within Google Analytics site owners can check things like how long someone is on a page, where they entered the page from, what they did on the page, and when they left. If someone lands on your page and leaves nearly right away you have what is called a Bounce. If the majority of your users are bouncing (called a high bounce rate) then you have a usability issue and are offering up a bad user experience where they have left too quickly to take any action. Another way to check is to set a conversion measurement. This is when you input information into Google Analytics that triggers a signal when someone completes a task as defined in there. You can even assign monetary values to the conversion if you want to measure the revenue generated through the conversion. This type of analysis is best left to professionals so get in touch with my team if you need any help. But Google doesn’t stop there with its free offerings! Try checking things like your site’s speed or mobile usability using these free tools: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly [clickToTweet tweet="Find helpful tools to assist in your website's usability here" quote="Find helpful tools to assist in your website's usability here" theme="style1"] Measuring usability is as complicated or as easy as your website is. Larger projects with many types of users and conversion types will have more complicated ways to measure usability but the overall message here is: does your website accomplish your business goals set for it?

Are Your Users Having A Bad Website Experience?

If you’re looking at the overall stats and the numbers are not good then it’s time to look at why your users are having a bad website experience. Here’s 7 questions to ask yourself about your website to avoid frustrating your users:
  1. Have you clearly defined what your business does and is it appealing to the right audience?
  2. Did you make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they’re looking for? Typically there should be no more than 3 steps between landing on the site and finding what the user wants.
  3. Can a customer contact you easily if they are stuck or have any questions?
  4. Do you have any broken links on your site that will lead users to a dead end?
  5. How fast does the site load (see test above)?
  6. Is your website mobile responsive?
  7. How transparent is your About page?
Nothing can be more frustrating than a dead end so make sure you don’t have any. Users need to have trust established by a website if they’re going to commit their time, money, or both to it. This is where user test groups can come in handy. Universal website staples that often get forgotten are there so someone who has never been to your website before can have a good experience on it. Check the few points listed above and if there are areas you haven’t covered or you need help with then get in touch and we’ll be able to break it all down for you.

Is User Experience Really The Same As Usability?

The experience and expectations will vary greatly between websites depending and their purpose. For large scale big businesses, user experience transcends platforms and current award winners are melding online with offline in attempts to boost both point of sale ‘conversions’ on site and web conversions. For anyone working in small to medium sized businesses usability is your website’s user experience so focus on that. Make sure when someone lands on your website searching for something, they find what they were needing as quickly and easily as possible. And don’t forget your user experience doesn’t end there!

A Conversion Is Not the End of the Road for Good Website User Experience

Provide Great Support

Your user experience doesn’t stop when the conversion does. Think about the process of your conversion from the perspective of someone performing the conversion. Once you’re done, are you coming back to the website? If you do, are you going to be able to get the support you need right away? Not having a support channel or any indication of one is a big negative for any user. They likely won’t buy from you if they don’t think they can contact you afterwards regarding any problems.

Refine Your Website Based on Feedback

Make sure you respond to negative feedback with more than dismissive apologies or a canned ‘thanks for the feedback we’ll work on it’ email. Users who have a bad experience during a conversion but a great experience with support can be recovered customers who will likely buy again. Accept negative feedback as an opportunity to improve even if you disagree with it. Take what you learn from the feedback as a gift. If a user takes the time to complain about something, treat it seriously and remedy the situation (within reason). Maybe they completed their task but have feedback on how easy (or not) it was? In addition to analyzing your Google Analytics, you can follow up with surveys for customers (if they opt in for having one sent to their email of course) to help refine your user experience. If you need help drafting a survey try this list of some basic website experience survey questions to ask. I hope you found this all helpful in ensuring your website provides a great user experience. If you have any questions about user experience and usability please post them in the comments below or on our social media or of course feel free to reach out and contact us at any time. Thanks for reading, Mark Hare P.S. For more tips on how to make your website get you the results you're looking for, sign up for my free website guide plus weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners today. >> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Social Media followers: [clickToTweet tweet="7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website User Experience" quote="7 Frustrating Things Your Visitors Hate About Your Website User Experience" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate

Why displaying fees on your website may provide an advantage over your competition

Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate Many small businesses use their web presence to generate leads to feed into their sales process. Each page has a purpose with variations on the intended users the business hopes to appeal to. Each piece of content has its purpose but overall the reason is to entice users to get in touch. In keeping with that, it seems reasonable to display your price structure so your leads are qualified before they get in touch. Or does it? Not all visitors to your website will be leads. Not all industries are alike. Competitors may be surfing your site to see what you charge with the intention of undercutting your rates. If they know you are consistently trying to attract leads from the same base, then having lower prices displayed can give them an advantage over you when bidding on projects or submitting proposals. Prices in your industry could vary based on many other variables. Understanding why or why not requires a little bit of elbow grease and a balanced perspective of the issue.

How to Know if You Should Display Your Prices

While this Moz article referencing website pricing is dated, it does makes some very good points about why you should display pricing. If you display pricing you should also convey value. A value proposition including a pricing tier can address variables related to your business that can actually set you above the competition. [clickToTweet tweet="If you display pricing on your website you should also convey value" quote="If you display pricing on your website you should also convey value" theme="style1"] Listing pricing without context or with only a few lines to convey value won’t draw in a user reviewing multiple options. You may be more expensive than your competitor but you might also be offering a lot more for what you charge. Make sure your leads know! This could also be a reason to not display pricing as well. If you have already evaluated your competitors and they have tiered pricing that beats the value of what you offer, then take the time to assess how they’re able to provide more at a lower cost. If you’re feeling ambitious you can even call them to clarify what they’re offering and ask for examples of it in practice. Sometimes the value stated on the site is misleading so don’t take your competitor’s claims at face value.

What if Your Competitors Aren’t Displaying Pricing?

Your competitors may not be showing how much they charge but that doesn’t mean you can’t. A money-focused business can sometimes be more focused on its own bottom line than servicing its customers. Your competition isn’t just related to price so if you’re up against established pros in your industry you can overcome the hurdle of their online presence being much stronger (more reviews, more activity) by doing what they won’t. State the reason for listing the different pricing tiers. Each should have a unique reason for being there beyond just profitability. Since you already developed the pricing for a reason you should know why. It could be who you’ve serviced in the past or based on your own research. Be up front and honest about why you charge what you do since eventually that conversation will happen anyway. You can leave prices off site and save that until you’ve spoken with the lead with the hopes of selling them past any objection to your pricing or you can remove that step by stating the sales points with the price on your website. Your competitors are a guide but not a rule. If you feel as though they’ve left their prices off their site for a reason that doesn’t apply to you then don’t hold yourself back from showing your own prices.

What if Your Competitors are Displaying Their Prices?

If your competitors are up front about their prices but you feel as though doing so would put you at a disadvantage then the same question you should ask yourself is the obvious one your leads will want the answer to: why? A bad experience could have put you off or just the anticipation of leads getting sticker shock. Maybe you don’t want the competition being educated on your prices? Sometimes your reasons will be very valid but be prepared to have an answer if your lead is shopping around and the question comes up: I saw on XYZ’z website they offer A for $XX and you’re now saying you also offer A for $XX. How come you don’t put that on your website? Have an answer and a good one. Include an anecdote if the reason is a bad experience or you will be stuck stammering to explain why and risk looking like you’re being dishonest before you’ve even started any sort of business relationship with your lead.

Displaying Prices Is Up to You

At the end of the day, displaying prices on your website is your choice. There is no absolute rule of thumb to follow. Assess all factors involved and make the right decision for your potential customers. If you are withholding pricing with good reason you can even state it on your site but if not then you may want to rethink the decision. Keeping an eye on your website stats can play a significant role in helping you decide whether displaying prices is working or not. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can place all pricing on one page and then check your Google Analytics to see if that’s where the trail ends. [clickToTweet tweet="Analyzing website stats will help determine if you should display prices or not" quote="Analyzing website stats will help determine if you should display prices or not" theme="style1"] If users are getting as far as the price page and not contacting you then it could be that your price page isn’t conveying enough value to justify the prices. If you need help with taking that kind of action or just need help evaluating the decision then please comment below or get in touch. We’d be glad to help! To your ongoing success, Susan Friesen P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate" quote="Yes or No: The Sharing Prices on Your Website Debate" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]

Why Twitter Ads Boost Business & How to Create Them

How to create Twitter ads

An Insider’s Guide to Increasing followers, gaining website traffic, and much more with Twitter advertising

Last week we showed you all the basic elements of setting up and using Twitter. Now that we’ve looked at how you can market locally with hashtags and how to set up your profile and start tweeting, we’re going to review how you make use of the paid side of Twitter to help grow your business online.

Why use Twitter Advertising?

Twitter ads are a great way to really expand your business reach and get your content in front of your ideal target market. Twitter has enticed business owners into taking the plunge by making their platform one of the best of the majors when it comes to targeting the right users. There was a time when Twitter offered much better organic reach as most social media giants have. They did this to gain market advantage; however, once their user base was established, they monetised their platform by restricting the organic reach, forcing users to make use of their paid option. So by selected the right interests, key phrases, and demographics you have a very low-cost per click method of reaching qualified leads.

How to Set Up Twitter Advertising

Let’s run through the steps in setting up an ad on Twitter. First post and schedule your regular tweets and then begin your campaign creation after since your tweets are what you’ll be using in the promotional campaign. After logging in Twitter click on your profile photo and:
  1. Select Twitter Ads
  2. This will open a new tab that looks like this: how to use twitter ads
  3. At the top right you can see where it says Create Campaign
  4. Select Create Campaign
  5. Now you can pick which kind of paid campaign you’d like to try. how to use twitter for business
  6. If you’re building up your Twitter account try the Followers campaign type. If you’re looking to drive people towards your site and you have the content to reflect that then select Website clicks or conversions.
  7. There are other options for more advanced users such as video promotion and app promotion but we’re going to stick with the most used options noted above.
  8. Once you've made your selection, you’ll see your campaign budget information.
  9. Pay close attention to this. Twitter (like most social giants) tends to assume we all have money to burn and will have some big numbers pre-filled. I believe the current pre-filled number is a daily budget of $127.50. Set yours to something much lower while you test Twitter Ads out. I suggest $5 a day and a total budget of $25 for a one work week campaign.
  10. Next select your Date Range. Twitter tends to auto-populate this with about a month timeline. For your first trial let’s stick with a 5-day work week as noted above.
  11. After you click through you’ll get to select your “creatives”. These are the tweets you’ve posted that will be used for your campaign.
  12. Select the tweets you posted with the intent of either driving users towards content or your website.
  13. Now you’ll get to start targeting.
  14. When targeting get as specific as you can with what you want in your preferred audience. As stated in point 12, you should select targeting parameters that align with the original intention of your tweet.
  15. Pick locations where you know your content will resonate with users. If you deal locally then promote locally.
  16. Pick the gender of the preferred audience for your campaign.
  17. In the bottom field, you want to spend most of your time. Pick interests and key phrases that best identify your preferred audience. If your business sells doorknobs then type in doorknobs to start your search. Find interests related to doors. Select any key phrase you know to be relevant to your content on Twitter regarding the sale of doorknobs.
  18. You want to align your audience target with your actual target for the content. If your tweets direct back to your site then be general about your business. Ads targeting a blog or video should be targeted at users who have expressed interest in that precise niche. To continue with our established analogy this could mean targeting users interested in brass door handles because you have content you’re promoting that is specifically about brass door handles.
  19. Now click next and you’ll be taken to your ad group bid. If running a lot of ad groups with separate purposes you can set new ad group budget totals here. For now you can leave this as is. The second option for target bid vs. automatic bid is more advanced and doesn’t really factor into the success much. Leaving it as Automatic bid is fine.
  20. Now click next and you’re ready to launch!

Use Your Twitter Advertising Metrics for Future Campaigns

Once the campaign has completed its run you can review the performance in this same Twitter ads section. Look at Impressions but more so Clicks and your Cost Per Click. With Twitter it’s normally very low compared to other services. If you want to peak at the performance even further please get in touch with us as we can analyse the data and make suggestions to help future campaigns perform better for you. Thanks for reading, P.S. New to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts. >> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers: [clickToTweet tweet="Why Twitter Ads Boost Business & How to Create Them" quote="Why Twitter Ads Boost Business & How to Create Them" theme="style1"] [article_about_author author="mark"]