Archives for March 2012
Do you want to create a website but just don’t know how to get started? Are you suffering from website writer’s block? Read on and discover that it is not as hard as you think. Make the decision to keep it simple and stay focused on what you want it to achieve ie. to promote your business to your target market. If you have a small business, you really don’t need a hi-tech, fancy website. Especially if you are just starting out. A simple six or seven page layout should be enough eg. Home, About us, Services, Testimonials, Portfolio and perhaps a blog. An FAQ never goes astray. Do you really need a fancy website developer? It’s easy to find a web developer who can design a whiz bang website. This is great if you have the capital to throw at it, but while it may be what you want, it might not be what you need right now. There are many economical website builders that are easy to use and create a very professional product. WordPress is a popular blogging platform that allows you to add other website pages. (BTW I’m not being paid to say this) Of course, these provide a finite number of designs and they are usually very simple but for a business in the process of starting up, they can be a cost effective tool. Several also offer e-commerce functionality, SEO tools and the option to add forms, so your website will be competitive as well as low cost. Start small and build up. Always remember, you can build on and improve a small website over time. You can even get a web designer to create a fabulous new one for you when your business has got some traction. Then you can have a launch party and give your customers champagne and make it a PR exercise. But if you are starting small, perhaps just testing the market or trying to turn a hobby into a career, you may not want huge financial or time outlays spent on a website. Don’t spend ages fiddling with your site making it perfect before publishing. Go with the 80/20 rule. If you are 80% happy, then press the publish button. The beauty of the simple website builders mentioned above is that you can change your copy, design, page layout, SEO features, anytime. You don’t have to keep asking the web developer to make changes. So you can continue to work on perfecting it after publication, not before. In fact, once you have published, you will certainly think of ways to improve your site that were not so obvious when it was under construction. This is not a bad thing. A site that is constantly being updated and improved shows a business owner who is active, engaged and keen to market their business. What are you waiting for? So, don’t be afraid to start working on your website, don’t even be afraid of publishing because you can always refine it over time. The sooner you publish, the sooner you will start getting the message out, about your fabulous new business venture.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a vast subject. There’s so much to know, it can be overwhelming if you’re new at it. The internet has huge amounts of information available, and it’s tricky to filter simple information from the technical details.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to the basics, the simplest ways to optimise your website. No guarantees for page 1 of Google, instead a solid platform to build on.
1. Submit your website to the search engines. If they don’t know you’re there, they can’t rank your site. Most engines will find your site after a while, but you can speed up the process by submitting the site upfront. Here’s the link for Google: http://www.google.com.au/addurl/?continue=/addurl
2. Establish which keywords you wish to optimise for. These are the words most people would type into a search engine, if they were seeking your type of business. Sadly, your competition has probably already thought of the most obvious ones and optimised for them, possibly with a bigger budget for SEO than you. Don’t despair, instead consider some keywords that although not most popular, have perhaps been overlooked by the competition. The internet is choc-a-bloc with keyword optimisers and tools you can use, many are very good, try Market Samurai www.marketsamurai.com (who aren’t paying me to say this).
3. Name your website pages in the Title meta tag. The title appears at the top of your webpage and it’s important to search engines. Use up to 65 characters to reflect what your site and the individual page contains, with clever keywords. How you insert the meta tag information into the site code will depend on your website, you may be able to do it yourself, or you may have to ask your web developer.
4. Always include a Description meta tag. This is the short blurb appearing on the search engine results page. You have up to 165 characters, use them wisely (keywords again) and always include your phone number. If you’re selling something fairly generic and the searcher is simply looking for a local outlet, they may call you without even clicking on your site. Once again, how to get the meta tag information into the site code is the same as in point 3.
5. Write your website to include keywords. Always make it interesting and compelling, because people are reading it, not just googlebots. The trick to writing website content to impress both the search engines and the potential customers is to focus on the customer:
• Engage them, interest them, satisfy their needs and answer their questions.
• Use headings, bullet points and lists. They’re easier for the time poor customer to scan and provide opportunities to naturally insert your keywords.
Follow these 5 easy steps and you’ll impress your potential customers and the web crawlers. For more information from an experienced and reliable source, Glenn Murray from Divine Write has a wonderful ebook which is well worth the investment.
And if you’d like some help writing copy to please everyone, contact Bec.
Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.com Stuart Miles
These tips are mainly for your home page, or landing page, but you could use them anywhere. The idea is to catch the reader’s attention, tell them about your business, and, most importantly get them to pick up the phone or email you with an enquiry.
1. Start with a great headline. This will catch the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading. Make it about them eg. Would you like to…?, Have you ever wondered…?
2. Tell them about your business but keep it light and informative, don’t bog them down in facts and figures. Have links on the home page for potential customers to click on, taking them to more detailed statistics and information.
3. Dot points are great, so are lists (like this one!). They break the information down into short chunks. Remember, if the reader gets bored, they will click away. When people on the web have very short attention spans.
4. Offer the customer something. A discount, two for one offer, gift with purchase, it all depends on what you are selling, but if they’re going to choose between two very similar service providers and yours is giving them something for free, it might give you the edge.
5. Have a link to an email enquiry so it’s really easy for customers to contact you. If you can, set up an enquiry sheet and make it even easier for them.
6. Set up a Frequently Asked Questions page (FAQ) and provide a link to this on the home page. If a person can satisfy themselves regarding the majority of concerns they might have without calling you to get the answers, they’ll know you’re trustworthy.
7. Keep the page updated. If you can add any specials, updates or new services frequently, it keeps your website/webpage fresh and interesting. It also can help with Search Engine Optimisation, a whole subject in itself.
If doing all this to your website excites you, then go for it! If, however, writing is not something you feel you are good at, or you’re simply too busy to make a start, you might benefit from the services of a professional copywriter.
A good copywriter can meet with you and obtain an extensive brief about your business. They’ll discover what you’re selling and what makes it special. They’ll be able to create some compelling copy for your website designed to capture the attention of potential customers and convert page visits to enquiries. Whatever you decide, following the 7 rules provides you with a quality base for a great homepage.
I love Generation Y. There, I’ve said it. I know they have a bad reputation, can be arrogant, have deplorably short attention spans, and are always fiddling with their phones (although Gen X are starting to give them a good run for their money). I’ve never had one working for me (I’m a one woman band here), but I do work with and for them. And I love their enthusiasm, energy and openness to new ideas. Totally invigorating for an old crusty Gen Xer like myself.
I also love their command of technology. A couple of days ago I was in a chain store, well known for having lots of high tech stuff and no-one to sell it to you. As I stood in a quandary in front of the blue tooth car thingummy display, a young member of Gen Y approached me, and in a few minutes had explained, reassured and sold me what I was looking for. And it was on special.
It’s sitting in my car now…and it works too. Just like she said it would.
So my take on Gen Y is this:
- They are far better to work for, or with, than have working for you. Tricky I know, considering current career progression theory considers it wise to get some runs on the board working for someone before branching out alone.
- If their enthusiasm and entrepreneurial qualities can be used for good, not evil, there’s exciting times ahead and,
- If you need a new blue tooth thingummy, they are the ideal generation to approach for assistance.
- Naturally my opinions come prepacked with tons of generalisations, which may or may not be agreed with, or even considered appropriate, but they’re mine, all mine.