4 Ways Your Small Business Is Losing Customers Due To a Terrible Website

No matter what kind of small business you have, its website is likely the top way people find out about it. Because the internet already has a strong presence around the world and it’s rapidly growing, individuals are accustomed to simply navigating to a search engine, typing in desired keywords, and waiting a few seconds for results. That said, if your website isn’t well made or doesn’t serve its purpose, it may push customers away instead of making them want to learn more.

Visitors May Think It’s Too Hard to Find What They Need

The reason many people find out about businesses online instead of through other methods is they crave convenience. Rather than calling a customer service number and potentially waiting several minutes or more to speak to a representative and inquire whether or not a product is in stock, today’s internet users can simply type in the names of the items they want and confirm almost instantly that they’re available for purchase.

However, if it takes longer than that for users to check availability or the keywords they’re using don’t pull up the correct products, they’ll become frustrated and may leave your website for good.

Failing to Cater to Customers With Mobile Devices

If you don’t at least have plans to make your website a mobile-friendly destination in the very near future, you’re missing out. According to recent statistics, more people access the internet on smartphones and tablets than computers.

When users discover your entire site doesn’t load on their devices or that portions of it are not set up for mobile users, they might get the impression your content is behind the times. Having that kind of incompatible website is especially bad for your reputation if you’re involved in a technology business because the outdated website doesn’t fit with your image.

Users Only Find Old Information

Maybe having current website content is not a priority and it’s been months since you last put a new product, blog post, or section online. Ideally, you need to exert significantly more effort than that, because extremely old content sends the message to users that perhaps you don’t often deal with online customers.

Some may even think your company went out of business and decide to take their patronage to another site. Get on a regular schedule of website updates to ensure people see the most relevant content possible.

People Become Fed Up By Poor Overall Functionality

Broken links, clunky drop-down menus, and slow-loading images are just some of the many problems that may make people steer clear of your website and not return to it.

That’s why it’s smart to work with a business that offers reasonably priced small business website design services instead of trying to take care of the web development side of things on your own despite not having adequate experience in the field.

Check out this perfect example of excellent marketing gone to waste due to a terrible website. #1 on Reddit, 35k+ upvotes and thousands of people looking at this Aquadam…but check out this website!

It’s TERRIBLE!

Look at the way it’s being ripped to shreds as people rightfully bash it’s terrible design and lack of function! Imaging how many people WON’T be truly considering ordering from them because they may feel that a site that terrible will have terrible delivery or product. What a waste!

Don’t be that business.

Now that you’ve learned about these four things that could be negatively impacting the popularity of your small business website, it’ll be easier to take prompt action. Doing that is crucial since the undesirable factors above won’t resolve themselves.

What You Can Learn From Blogs That Don’t Suck

Can you make a sandwich with just bread? Not really. You need to add some substance to that carb-fest! Likewise you need to have a strategy for developing some truly unique content in your blog.

Because there is no getting away from the fact that content is one of the most popular digital marketing methods in the world. Because of this, there are millions of new blogs being launched each year – in 2016 2.7 million blog posts were published each day with the website hosting a whopping 966 million websites and blogs.

YIKES! That’s a whole lot of content to compete with!

But Wait! You Can Do It Too!

There is no getting away from the fact that content is still vital for a range of industries, which is why there are so many prosperous and profitable blogs out there. As well as so many freelancers who are able to make a good income working remotely creating content for their sites and for other bloggers too.

Now, the question is, what are the actually prosperous blogs doing that at makes them so much more effective than others who are failing? Why are some blogs ranked highly in Google and have such large social media followings? What is it that makes a blog stand out and prosper while others fail?

 

The quality of the content

 

The fact is, you can’t have a ‘good’ blog without high-quality content. The blogs that make headlines and everyone knows the name of, are the sites that share the most interesting, innovative, and well-written content possible.

For a blog to be an industry leader, the content needs to stand out for all of the right reasons. It needs to show that the site is insightful and informative and that the blogger behind it has a good grip on the niche of the site. Then there’s also SEO to worry about – a blog can’t be successful if SEO isn’t being effectively used to market it, can it? Which is why a knowledge of SEO and how to implement it in your content is so crucial to your success.

 

How it’s marketed AKA You Need Links.

 

One reason why a lot of blogs do incredibly well compared to others is simply due to how they are marketed. The fact is that when it comes to blogging success, marketing is vital. That is why blogs that are run by bloggers who have undertaken a marketing diploma, course or one of the MBA programs in marketing, tend to be more successful. It doesn’t matter how amazing a blog is, if no one knows it exists, it won’t be successful – it’s as simple as that.

All the best blogs are marketed using all of the newest and most innovative digital marketing methods, hence their success.

You are going NO WHERE without links. Feeling stuck because your blog is not in a popular niche? Here’s some ideas on how to build links for boring industries.

Collaborations with brands

 

The fact is that blogs that collaborate on posts with brands tend to be more successful. The reason for this is simple: when a blog works with a brand, the blog gets highlighted as being successful because it’s teamed up with a brand. This is especially true for blogs that are owned by bloggers who aim high and collaborate with well-known brands. The more well known a brand is, the more exposure a blog will get for collaborating with them, so it’s worth aiming high.

 

There you have it, a guide to the backstory of all of the most profitable and prosperous blogs, now go forth and multiply!

Bloggers DO deserve to get paid.

It’s weird. My talented wife is listening to the audio book of Zelda Fitzgerald’s autobiography and it struck me. There was a power in the written word, and that power enabled those dedicated to the crafting of words a life of luxury.

The question that came to mind after thinking about that topic. Can writing and publishing your words on a blog in an age of content creation still craft you a life of (even modest) luxury?

There’s this idea that blogging is a fantastic way for stay at home parents to make a living. Not only that, it’s a job where no two days are ever the same. You write your opinions, give people tips and advice, review items and sometimes you can turn to your blog to vent after having a bad day. Other people may relate to your post and offer some moral support.

So. After some digging, asking around, and analysis I have come to the conclusion that while content is being produced at a prodigious rate, there is just as much a growing trend of information consumption!

How Can I Tell You You Can Make Money Online & NOT Sound Like A Scam?

This is work. It’s hard. It’s not overnight. It’s LONG-TERM. If you’re not going to stick to your guns you will fail.

Still want tostart monetizing your blog?

P&R Money Please Cinemagraph
“Money please!”

Then you’ve come to the right place. Here are a handful of ideas that, with patience, turn your blog into a full time career.

If you haven’t got a blog yet, here’s some help for how you can start a blog.

Assuming you already have a blog, the first thing you need to do is check out your social media accounts. They’re the tentacles of your octopus, the infantry to your armor, the scouts to your invading army.

You need to use them and post regularly. Want a primer on how to use social media, try my OPEN approach. Promote your blog posts on each account, and make sure for Pinterest that you’re making eye pleasing pins. Following algorithm rules for each social media platform will make the world of difference

This will be your strategy:

  • Create good content. No. Really. GOOD content. There’s no point trying to get people to your blog if the content is no good to them. Offering advice and how-tos are typically very popular blog posts.
  • Make sure you have an eye catching title. Try and make it unusual so that people will click out of curiosity.
  • SEO – Blogger Outreach Best Practices – How To Write A Guest Blog Post For SEO (search engine optimization) is really important for driving people to your blog. When you’re adding tags and categories to your blog post, make sure you’re using a set keyword. This way, you’re more likely to have Google index your pages. This means you will appear higher in Google.
  • Create a call to action at the end of your blog post. This will encourage users to either keep an eye on your social media accounts or return to your blog.

Monetization

To monetize your blog is a little harder, but totally doable. The first thing you should do is get Google Adsense running on your blog. You earn a small amount from each visit and slightly more each time someone clicks through an advert. Unless you’re getting thousands of views a day you probably won’t see loads of profit from it, but it’s a great place to start.

Another way to make money from your blog is via affiliate links. This is when you display a link to a product, and if someone clicks through your link and buys that product, you will receive commission on this. Most bloggers choose this because they can pick products that relate to their blog and encourage people to visit the site.

A great way of making money is through sponsored posts. Companies will pay you to display something of theirs that will link back to their website. These are usually pre-written blog posts, but can be widgets or maybe even just a link that they want you to include.

You should also create a page that prospective clients can visit to find out how they would go about hiring you to work for them.

Check out all of the other ways you can make money with your blog.

If you follow these tips, you’ll begin to notice your income rise. The harder you work at it, the more you will earn. The best thing is, there are no limits on how much you can earn!

Developing a Style Guide for Your Personal Brand

No matter what job you work at, what company you work for, or where you go in your career, one thing that will always remain in tact is your personal brand.

I’m not sure if you are familiar with what exactly a style guide is, but if you aren’t I encourage you to check out official style guide standards of company’s such as MailChimp. They get so detailed with their style guide that they even include a special section on how to write commonly misspelled or mis-hyphenated words. A style guide can be as simple as a 1 page set of rules, or a massive 10,000 word document defining everything you do on and offline for your brand, be it corporate or personal.

In 2013 we wrote a guide to branding your personal name on the web. In this post we will focus more on creating a style guide, so you have a set of standards to stick by. So let’s dive right into things, let’s look at some of the things that make up a personal brand:

Your Actual Name

This one might seem a little bit obvious, but it isn’t always. Mine is simple, my name is Patrick Coombe. In order to maintain brand consistency I always identify myself as Patrick Coombe. Not Pat Coombe, or Patrick Michael Coombe. I’ve been on many forums over the years going by many aliases (that some of you might know me as) but over the past 2-3 years I’ve shed those names in favor of my actual name. I’ve done this for a few reasons, mainly because I’m known for my name on social media, I published a book under my name etc.

Jeremy Rivera is a good example of a name that is in the middle of the spectrum. It isn’t the most popular name by far, but there are definitely a few occurrences of his name out there. Jeremy was really smart by snagging the EMD for his name, and using it in all of his dealings on the web.

With other individuals, there are more complex scenarios when it comes to personal name branding. Take my good friend Glen Allsop, a very successful internet marketer otherwise known as “ViperChill.” This name was a personal association he gave to a chocolate bar when he was 11 years old, he also likes the Dodge Viper. That, along with the fact that he is really “chill” and you get “ViperChill.” The name just stuck, and he has rolled with it ever since 2006 when he started using it.

Whatever the case may be, it is just as important to stick to your personal name brand as it is for a company to stick to theirs. There are a few exceptions of well known name brands that have come up with shortened versions of time, but this really only happens when you’ve achieved truly baller status:

  • Chevrolet > Chevy
  • McDonalds > MccyD’s
  • CocaCola > Coke
  • countless others

One piece of advice I give to our clients, staff and vendors on a consistent basis is to make sure you use your name consistently. For instance if your name is Michael Miller, don’t use:

  • Mike Miller
  • Michael David Miller
  • Mike Miller
  • Mike “madman” Miller

…on that note, if you do have a common name such as “John Smith” or “Michael David,” my advice is to use your middle name or the less commonly used variation so you can stand out a bit more.

Just the Facts

Facts about you as a person play a vital role in your personal branding and developing a style guide. Be sure that you are consistent when it comes to your facts that you use in your bios, about us sections, and other static and dynamic areas of your website. Examples of this include:

  • “I started SEO in 2004” vs “in the early 2000’s”
  • “I live in South Florida” vs “I live in Delray Beach, FL”
  • “My first job was in a restaurant” vs “I worked for my parents at a young age.”

It may seem like it is trivial, but it could come across like you are being not up-front if you are not consistent with the facts about yourself. While it is OK to stray from the norm in longer form content, it is generally a good idea to try and keep some standards when you are doing your bio, etc.

Your Tag Line

You might have a tag line for your personal brand, you might not. I’m not going to say you have to have one, but if you do it is important to stick to it, and not stray from what you use. Again, brand consistency.

Matthew Woodward is a great example of personal branding in general, and he has a good tag line: “no nonsense SEO and affiliate marketing.” He uses this on his website and within his logo, and it does a great job of defining exactly what he does as a person.

Don’t feel pressure to come up with a tag line. In fact, I think it is better for your tagline to come about organically over time. I personally don’t have a tag line, it just isn’t something I chose to do at this point.

Colors

Colors is an area where a lot of people lose lots of “karma” from their brand. They’ll use yellow in one instance, red in another, and blue in yet another. Again, brand consistency. Define a color scheme and stick to it. One tool that I really like to use is Adobe Kuler. Adobe Kuler allows you to browse existing color themes, create new ones, and get suggestions on ideas for colors that match, contrast, or go together.

Color is important because it instills familiarity in your visitor. Every time they see that “Moz Blue” or “Coca Cola Red” your brand is further re-inforced. Many articles and even books have been written on color when it comes to branding, so I can’t even begin to go into this subject in this post but I will say to be sure to keep your colors consistent and remember that the colors you choose you have to live with, so choose wisely.

A really cool website to check out is “BrandColors.net” an entire website dedicated to identifying the exact color scheme of major brands throughout the world. They even list the exact hexadecimal code to use if you want to “borrow” it, just make sure you aren’t violating any international copyright laws before you do so. Kissmetrics also did a really cool infographic on how colors affect purchases, which can be really useful when trying to come up with a color scheme for the first time.

Font

Do not skim over this section. There is a reason why typesetting is taught throughout the world in colleges and universities. Your font is everything and everywhere. A bad font can completely destroy your user experience. Even choosing the wrong font size can ruin an experience. If you don’t know what you are doing, follow these simple rules so you don’t make a fool out of yourself.

It is my opinion that all brands should use a maximum of 3 fonts in all of their static media, most of the time you get away with 2: a heading font, and a body font. On the Elite Strategies website for instance we actually only use 1 font: Open Sans. We do use several variations of this font: Light, Bold, Italic, etc. We also use different weights, sizes and colors. There are a few exceptions of where you might find some other fonts such as icon fonts and a few plugins, but overall we keep it really simple. Take Joel Klettke an esteemed conversion focused copywriter based in the UK. On his blog it may appear that he uses a wide variety of font faces:

…but in fact he only uses one font face: Source Sans. He does make uses of color (his brand color of course) in his font, CAPS, bold, size, etc but sticks to his primary font face throughout his website. The result is a very well done website, that sticks to his style guidelines.

Often times when you spot a “hot mess” of a website, you’ll encounter one that uses 3-5 fonts on the same page. It is a huge mistake, and really can make your page look confusing.

Standardize your fonts. I’ll assume that most of the people reading this are using a CMS that defines this for them such as WordPress. CMS’s are great because you can use templates.

Logo

If you talk to many professionals about personal branding, a logo will be a hot spot for debate. Many people that I’ve encountered say a logo is totally unnecessary. Let’s take a look at some really “big name” personal brands in our industry:

  • Rand Fishkin – no logo
  • Jeff Bullas – no logo
  • Neil Patel – no logo
  • Gary Vaynerchuk – no logo

Those were just 4 off the top of my head I looked up quickly. Even in my research for this post, I couldn’t find a lot of information on logos for personal brands. I did find one gallery of logo designs for professional designers, which gave some great insight into some of the best designs out there.

There are many exceptions however. One of my favorite logos for a personal brand is by Kindra Hall, a professional speaker and story teller whom I met this year at Search Love Boston this past year. She keeps it really simple and to the point, but it comes across very professional and really drives home her name with a big “K.”

Some questions to ask yourself when considering doing a logo for your personal brand:

  • do you need a logo?
  • why do you want a logo?
  • is it overkill to have a logo?
  • who will design your logo?

There are a few options if you don’t want to use a logo, but still want a graphic representation. You can opt for an “avatar” of yourself which is basically an artistic illustration of yourself. You can also just choose to do your logo in a specific font. It is your call, but my advice on this is similar to my advice on everything in this guide: if you are going to do it, standardize it.

Your Headshot

Mr. Dan Shure a very well respected online marketer from Massachusetts stated “your headshot is like the logo of your personal brand.” I really could not have said that better than myself. He also wrote up a great guest post about taking a headshot with an iPhone. Very well done, in fact his post does a great job of summing it all up. I do have a few

Don’t skimp on the headshot. I represent quite a few personal brands and many people will give excuses for not getting a headshot done:

  • I hate the way I look
  • I just changed my hair color
  • I want to wait until XYZ
  • I can’t afford a professional headshot

There are also many different types of “head” shots. You can go with the traditional from the shoulder up or from the waist up. You can choose a neutral background, blurred background or something specific like an “at work” background with your desk in the background. A headshot can convey many different feelings, from friendly, to professional, to confident. Examples include:

Here is my advice on headshots: if you are trying to identify yourself as a “personal brand” then you must have one. People are going to Google you. Do not let Google decide what image shows up when doing a search for your name. Always be in control of your search engine results page.

One last word on headshot: so you already have a professional headshot right? When was the last time you updated your headshot? 3 years? 5? 10? You should definitely have a new headshot taken at least every 2 years, especially if your goal is to personally brand yourself online.

This is probably some advice I need to take myself, as I haven’t gotten a new headshot in years, so yea I gotta get on that 🙂

Grammar, Voice, Tone, Yadda Yadda

Many people overlook this section, but it is really important especially if you are a blogger. It is even more important if you do video blogging, podcasting, or other types of media where you speak out loud.

Personally, I like to keep my articles casual and conversational. I like to keep things really casual, I might even intentionally use some incorrect grammar to drive home a point that I’m trying to make. I try not to make spelling mistakes although I have been known to make errors from time to time.

Now, don’t take this too far. Don’t start using so much slang and improper grammar that it comes across unprofessional. Unless of course your target audience goes for that. There are so many different options. Back in the early 90’s on BB’s and other dial-up communities and before blogging people would talk in “31337 speak” or “leet speak.” It was totally acceptable amongst that crowd of teenage hacker geniuses. If you came in there speaking proper you would be really out of place.

In short: know your audience. Blog / write / speak the way that your audience does.

Social Media

It is imperative that your style standards are used in your social media. When it comes to a personal brand, this is how a lot of people find you in the first place, so often times it is their first impression of you.

I’m going to use Matthew Woodward again because he’s done such a great job of his personal branding. If you look at his Twitter page, even the color of his hyperlinks etc match his main brand colors on his website:

This was very intentional on his part, and really helps you actually “feel” his brand whenever you visit one of his properties. Matthew really takes this to an extreme with his hot pink and light blue colors, so you don’t have to go crazy like he does but it is important that you standardize your look and feel across all social channels. At the very least if you don’t want to heed this advice: keep it neutral.

Using Kindra Hall again as an example from above, she takes a much more neutral, yet consistent approach. She uses her logo in all of her social media profiles, but keeps all of her colors and other details somewhat muted.

The fine details

There are many other aspects of personal branding that could be attended to if you chose to do so. For instance, URL shorteners can be branded according to your personal brand. Take my good friend and former Elite Strategies SEO professional Luiz Centenaro. Luiz uses the URL shortner http://centena.ro to shorten all of his URL’s on social media.

 

This fine detail adds a lot of validity to his personal brand and is really a nice touch that a lot of people can appreciate.

Another fine detail that a lot of people implement is a favicon. For me a favicon is really mandatory but how far you choose to take it is up to you. Paul Shapiro an old bloke of mine uses his headshot as his favicon.

 

The great thing about favicon’s is that they are visible even when the tab isn’t active. So for instance if you navigate away from your page you can still see Paul’s beautiful bearded face:

There are many details you can attend to as time goes on and your personal brand evolves. There are people that casually work on their brand and others that pay attention to every last detail, right down to the permalink / URL structure.

I will end with this piece of advice, which is something I’ve echoed several times within this post: keep it standardized and consistent. If you are going to experiment, don’t do it on a live property or website, do it on your own computer.

Thanks everyone for reading! You can hit me up on Twitter for more questions, I am also an avid SEO blogger on our company website. Thanks!

Using Ten Words When One Will Do

When it comes to writing quality content it doesn’t matter if it’s sales copy, informative writing or random musings on a blog, it should be easy reading! Reading online shouldn’t be a tedious task.

Personally, if an article (no matter how interesting its title) starts like a rocket science manual, I’m out of there! By all means, switch up your vocabulary! I hate to read posts where a blogger doesn’t know a different word word for ‘awesome!’ But stretching out a word count by fluffing up the content is annoying.

Concise content makes for quick reading, ideal for the busy workaholic society we live in.

But…but longer content tends to rank better right??

Yes. There is correlation between the length of the content and how well it ranks.

Longer content is correlated with better rankings
Source: Hubspot

But you should know, I’m exaggerating with the title of this post, in complaining about ten words where one will do.

What I am getting at is that bloviating and using big words to fill up space does not correlate with better rankings.

If possible don’t be a writer who uses two words in place of one.

Of course I am not saying that you just cut out all of the fun and colorful words you can add to make an amazing sentence…would make for bland writing. But there is a fine line between ‘concise’ and ‘bland’ content.
So…want some examples?

Unnecessary adverbs and adjectives

There’s a time and a place for adjectives and sometimes they just sound out of place and long winded when read out loud.

“Verbosity kills curiosity. Don’t drown your message in a sea of words.” – Brad Shor of Straight North

Take the sentence, “He was an incredibly intelligent fellow but had an extreme lack of common sense.” When read out loud is lacks punch and crispness. A revision to, “He was an intelligent fellow, though lacked common sense,” is easier reading. That’s a 14 words vs. nine words.

Unimportant Information

If you’re writing an article on a President’s proposed health reforms, you would want to let your readers know what the changes are, how they would be affected by the changes and the obstacles the President faces. While it’s easy to wander off on a tangent at times, writing about their educational background or going into too much depth over the history of health in the US fluffs the article up and takes away from its point.

Use Short concise words
Great advice from Konrad Sanders of The Creative Copywriter

After writing, read out loud and be critical. Ask yourself what the point of each sentence is and if you can’t find a purpose of a sentence, delete!

For sale: baby shoes, never worn” Sentences should be long enough to communicate and no longer.

Repeated Information

Duplicate content

Sometimes we repeat ourselves without even realizing we’ve done it! Even if you’ve worded it differently, the same point or fact made twice (even at opposite ends of an article) is just more words than necessary!

Don’t forget WHY you are writing the content in the first place!

As fresh content” or just a byproduct of consistent messaging aimed at businesses to “produce quality content”. But the reality is that content has to be WORTH saying! Content for contents sake is a quick way to make your blog into an exercise in futility and no matter how much you work on your copy it will be a much harder process if you don’t actually have anything to say!

Squeeze Out More Words

Once you’ve cleared out everything you think you can, read through again (preferably out loud). Look for opportunities to tighten up your sentences in ways not described above. An example could be changing:
“Whenever the Jones family got news pets, the neighbour’s children always tended to take to them quicker than the Jones boys,” to
“The next door neighbour’s children always took to the Jones’ new pets quicker than the Jones boys did.”

Need some more pointers? Demian Farnworth of Copybot is a fantastic resource I reference for tips on writing blog content people will actually read.

“Focus your writing on your readers. Serve them with it. Answer their questions. Meet their needs. Help them do something.

Practically speaking, use second-person pronouns — e.g., you, your, and yours. This pivot in your writing will create a more personal touch with your readers”

I know I’ve barked on about concise content here, but this should never come at the expense of meaning. The idea of concise content is saying what you need to say as tightly as possible – not about cutting points out in order to shorten a piece. Think punchy, crisp and natural sounding content and you’re well on your way to great copy.

Stretch Your Content with Steven Shattuck

Repurposing with a purpose – Stretch Your Content

I interviewed Steven Shattuck of https://bloomerang.co/ to talk about repurposing your content into different mediums. We talk about the value, process and tools to effectively increase the value of your content. Links referenced: 

Youtube Faceblur and Slowmotion Features

So the new Youtube Editor has some fun little features. First is a Face blurring program. It gives you the option to delete the original video, but it will always apply the effects of the edit to a COPY of the video and not the original. They also have a slow motion feature that lets you do 50%, 25% and 12.5% speed, and again creates a copy of the original.

Cinema-infographic

Ah! +Active Internet Marketing has stormed out the gate and taken the idea I posted in my Cinemagraphs post on the Raven tools blog. They turned a GIF into an Infographic. Well done! (The original image was giving Blogger a heart attack trying to get it uploaded and sized so I broke it into easier to handle chunks.

Why You Should Repurpose your content
http://www.activeinternetmarketing.com/blog/content-marketing/infographic-why-repurpose-content/

Photos Should Match Your Content

When you are adding photos to your blog posts, and your web pages you want to make sure to use images that make sense for what you’re writing and not just jamming in stock photo content. If you take time to consider your images, then it makes it much easier to write meta information that’s relevant to the topic which strengthens the overall relevance and usability of the page.