Entries Tagged 'internet marketing' ↓

9 Ways to Keep Your Website Up to Date

Sprucing up your website doesn’t have to mean a full redesign every few years. There are some less evasive things that can be done to freshen it up and make sure it is performing well. website spring clean

Just like spring cleaning your house, an annual dusting of your website will make sure it remains responsive, SEO friendly and continues to give your customers what they want.

Here are 9 things you can do to keep your website in tiptop condition.

1. Code

If, like me, you have no idea what all those strange letters, numbers and symbols mean behind the scenes, you may want to get someone in to help you with this one.

Cleaner and more organised code means a faster website that loads in a flash and is easier for the search engines to crawl.

2. Title tags and META descriptions

If you have an SEO strategy, you’re probably already tweaking these on a regular basis.

Your title tag lets the search engines know what your web page is about, so make sure you review this regularly. Likewise with your META description, although not a factor in SEO, it must be relevant and appealing to your customers. If you’re not sure what it is, the META description is the short piece of blurb that comes under your URL in the search results. It’s important that it speaks to the reader, highlights the benefits you offer and contains a call to action. The only issue is you have just 160 characters to play with, so you’ll have to get creative.

3. Alt tags

Yes, more tags. The Alt tags are the ones you find behind the images you use on your website. During your review, make sure every image has a tag, but that doesn’t mean you should be stuffing them with keywords. Every tag should be relevant to the image.

Plus, where you have your logo on your website, make sure it’s Alt tag contains your company name or website.

4. Images

Once you’ve reviewed the coding behind your images it’s time to look at the image itself. Are your photos and graphics still relevant? Are they looking a bit dated? What about the size of them? The file size will have a huge impact on the loading time of your website, so if at all possible compress them to give your users a better, faster experience.

5. Call to action

Take a look at your calls to action.

Are they working?

Are your website visitors being converted into customers? If the answer is no, or you’re looking for a high conversion rate, your call to action is a great place to start.

Did you know that Dell increased sales by $25million just by changing their “Learn more” call to action to “Help me choose”? So if you’re not already doing so, test different calls to action to find the one that works best for you.

6. Navigation

The navigation bar on your website is the map your visitors use to find their way round. Check to make sure it is clear and easy to follow. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure it aligns with your SEO strategy.

7. Compatibility

More and more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile phones, so it’s essential your website is mobile friendly.

8. Refresh

While you’re reviewing all these aspects, why not add in something new. How about an explainer video or infographic? Adding fresh content to your website is a must whether it’s a video, graphic, article, report or series of blogs.

9. Does it work?

One of the main reasons websites fall short of the mark is because they are designed and written by people within the business.

Think about it – you’re business is your baby and you’re going to want to shout about it to everyone. But what are your customers looking for? Certainly not your euphoric ramblings about how great you are.

They want to know what you can do for them, which is why it’s a great idea to get someone from outside your company to read your content, follow your navigation and generally ‘play’ with your site to see if it tells them what they need to know.

This exercise is also a good way to check for broken links.

Creating and publishing your website isn’t a one off activity. It’s vital you revisit your site regularly to make sure it’s keeping up with technology and the needs of your customers.

Bookmark this article and diarise regularly to review your website and keep it in tiptop condition.

Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd, cyclist and Big Bang Theory fan.

Corporate Websites Are Dead

death of corporate websites

I was intrigued by a post written by Michael Brenner that talked about the demise of the corporate website as we know it.

Customers no longer want the standard ‘About Us’, ‘Our Services’ or ‘Latest News’ – that no longer floats their boat. If that doesn’t convince you, here are some statistics that Michael cited to reinforce the message:

  • Nearly 70% of Fortune 100 corporate websites experienced declines in traffic, with an average drop of 23% (Webtrends)
  • 90% of website traffic comes from just 10% of the content and more than 50% of the traffic is from just 0.5% of the content (InboundWriter)
  • 60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused (Sirius Decision)
  • 60% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects reach out to vendors (CEB)

So what’s causing this shift?

It would appear as though today’s consumers are looking for more from corporate websites. They’re not interested in the usual humdrum pages that lead you through what they sell, how long they’ve been in business or what they’ve done recently. Instead, they want stuff that’s useful; top tips, how to videos, human-interest stories.

Yes, shock horror, they want to interact with real people.

The human touch

None of this should be too shocking to you considering the explosion in social media.

Brand is key for every corporate (in fact any business) and rather than that being directly related to its colour palette and logo, their brand is their social interaction with their customers.

More and more companies are moving away from ‘traditional’ website marketing to social media engagement. Their products and services are being translated into stories that can be shared across numerous channels.

Rather than engagement through contact forms, they are interacting in real-time conversations with their customers through Twitter, Facebook and other social channels.

A case in point

Michael cites Coca-Cola as a prime example of this change in focus.

Back in 2012, Coca-Cola declared the death of its own corporate website, re-launching it under the tagline “The Coca-Cola Journey. Refreshing The World, One Story At A Time”, featuring content driven by their “Unbottled” blog.

The result was that their content became their main product.

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C company, content and story telling must be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Relationships that last are built through education. By offering useful information you’re giving your readers value (whether they’ve bought from you or not), which in turn builds trust.

The way forward

How do you reap these rewards?

Doing a “coke” is a brave move and perhaps one you’re not ready for. But you can make a move in the right direction by adding content regularly to your website.

An active blog that offers great advice, human-interest stories and useful information will draw people to you. I’m not talking about posting once in a blue moon when you have a few minutes; to be a success it must be done regularly.

Think of your blog as a digital magazine – offer a mix of content that will appeal to your audience. You are its editor, so it’s up to you to make it work.

Author: Sally Ormond – Briar Copywriting

2 of The Biggest Headaches Web Designers Face

First off, I’m not a web designer so if you are and you disagree with me, please feel free to leave a comment and tell me (and everyone else who will be reading this post) what it is that really bugs you. web designer headaches

As a copywriter, I work with a lot of web designers.

It seems to me that there are still a lot of people out there who firmly believe that:

a)    Their website comes fully loaded with copy

b)    Once it’s published, visitors will flock to their site

If you think like that, you’re wrong on both counts.

Just because you’ve hired someone to build you a fantastic website does not mean people will be beating down your door to take a look at it.

These days, if you want a successful website you’ve got to do some work – well, quite a lot of work and that means having a budget.

‘Budget’ – the word sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it?

Your outlay doesn’t just begin and end with the design and build of your website. This brings us back to the first misconception listed above.

Your website comes fully loaded with copy

No, it doesn’t.

Your designer will create you a fantastic website, but he or she won’t be filling it with content for you – that’s your job, or if you prefer, the job of the copywriter you’re going to hire.

Yes, hiring a writer means more money, but it will be money very well spent.

Once you have people flocking to your website, it’s the words that will keep them there and draw them in, convincing them to buy or contact you. If you have the wrong words, they’ll keep on browsing until they find a website that gives them what they want. I won’t bore you with the details about how to write website copy here, because there you can read out that in my earlier post ‘How to Create Engaging Website Copy’.

But of course, before your copy can engage them, you have to get them there.

Traffic will just come to you

Err, no it won’t.

This is the other misconception.

Once your website goes live, if you just sit back and wait for visitors you could be waiting a very long time.

No one is going to know you’re there unless you tell them. That means:

  • Getting busy on social media
  • Writing blogs and articles
  • Building links

Yes, in other words, you’ve got to do some work. Again, you can either get on with this yourself, or you can find the budget to pay someone else to do it for you.

Getting a website online is only the start of your online journey. If you don’t have the time, patience or knowhow to do it yourself, the cold hard fact is that you’ll have to find the budget you need to get someone else to do it for you. But just make sure you find someone reputable with a proven track record. Cutting corners by paying peanuts will leave you frustrated with a website full of dire copy and rolling tumbleweed where you should have traffic.

Author: Sally Ormond

Are META Descriptions Still Important?

Is it really worth adding a META Description to your blog posts and other web content?

These tags are chunks of information about a web page that the search engines use to suss out what the page is about. There’s a lot of conflicting information about these, so this post will make the current situation clear.

These tags are not used by search engines to rank a web page. That said they are still a very important element that should be included on every blog post and page.

Why?

The search engines always show a description of the page in the search results, so why not make sure it’s something relevant?

If left blank, the search engines will pick something based on the search term used. But you always include well-written descriptions Google (and the other search engines) should use them.

Think about your own search habits.  When faced with a list of websites you automatically read the tags to see which result is the most relevant to you. So if you want your web page to get the click, make sure you write a stonking tag.

How to write a good description

The following tips will help you create great descriptions:

  • Write for your readers, not the search engines. Although it’s important to include keywords, don’t stuff them.
  • You’re limited to about 150 characters so think carefully about what you want to say.
  • If you use WordPress, use one of their SEO plugins to help you.

Think of the META Description as your 60 sales pitch. Use it to tell your reader what the page is about and how it will help them.

A well-written tag will dramatically increase your chances of getting that all-important click. So next time you write a blog post or create a new web page, think carefully about how it will help your reader and tell them in the tag.

Remember, the META Description won’t affect your ranking, but it will help drive search traffic your way.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

Is There a Future For SEO?

In the aftermath of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm ‘tweaks’, the fact that we all get search results that relate to our location (yup, you’re no longer seeing country-wide results*) and the prospect of even more changes on the way, is there the future of SEOa future for search engine optimisation?

Let’s face it, small businesses with a national (and international) reach relied heavily on their SEO to get great rankings in the search results. Now, they have no way of knowing who will see their listing because everyone sees different things.

OK, for local search this isn’t too much of an issue, but how are SEO companies dealing with the fact that they can no longer state, with any certainty, where their clients’ websites are ranking?

The changing face of SEO

Once upon a time, SEO could be divided into 2 categories:

  1. Internal SEO – relating to your website’s structure
  2. External SEO – articles, content, blogs, press releases, links etc.

Of course, the reason for Google’s changes comes down to that small minority who couldn’t be bothered to do things properly and had to find short cuts to make money.

These ‘black hat’ SEOers spoilt the party for all the other legitimate businesses who worked hard to get their rankings playing by the rules.

Now many face an uncertain future, or are being forced to rethink their whole marketing strategy because they can no longer reach out to the wider market place.

Search goes social

The focus behind all these changes is for our search results to become more social and therefore (apparently) more relevant.

The relevancy of your website is now to be dictated by the number of followers, comments, views and shares your content gets.

The problem I can see with this, is that it won’t be long before the cowboys work out a way of faking that too.

Where does that leave us?

For most of the big brands out there these algorithmic changes have little or no effect. But for the smaller businesses they can have a devastating impact.

Google claims that if you have followed their SEO rules your website won’t be affected, but thousands and thousands of sites have seen their rankings plummet because of them.

Online marketing is a fast changing environment. Keeping up with these new techniques is proving to be a major headache for many small businesses out there. They don’t have the budgets needed to get an expert on board to help them and so are left floundering in the wake of the might Google’s whims.

Over to you

Are you an SEO company? How are these changes affecting you and your clients?

Are you a small business struggling to keep pace with it all?

Leave a comment below because, whatever your story, we want to hear from you.

*If you want to return to national results, simply go to your Google home page,  click ‘settings’ (bottom right), click ‘Search Settings’, click ‘Location’ and then enter UK in the ‘Where are you?’ box.

Author:

Sally Ormond, copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd - blogger, cyclist and mum.