Internet Marketing: 11 things to think about when redesigning your website

In the course of my work as an internet marketing consultant I often get asked for my advice on how best to approach a web redesign project. It is really important to protect the performance of a successful website that just requires a new look!

  • Keep Your Current URL Structure

Where possible keep your current URL structure.  This means that if the contact us page of the website current exists at www.mysite.com/contact-us don’t change it to www.mysite.com/contact.

If your widgets are currently to be found at mysite.com/catalogue/widgets don’t move them to mysite.com/widgets

Make a list of all your current website pages to make sure this doesn’t happen. A Sitemap generator such as http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ is a useful free tool for getting this information. You should not need to change URL’s at all if your website only needs a ‘Facelift’ in terms of graphic design and you are not adding or removing products or services.

  • Map old pages to a relevant section of the redesigned website using a permanent 301 redirect.

If you are getting rid of old services or downgrading their importance and absolutely need to move or remove the URL, decide where you want to send visitors and search engines that are looking for the old page.  Prepare a document  of all your old/defunct URLs and specify what the new URL will be or where you want to re-direct people who have book-marked the old page or search engine spider that are trying to crawl it.

  • Make sure each page has a purpose

This is fundamental to a successful website and to the implementation of an effective internet marketing strategy. If you are adding new pages to the website make sure they have a purpose. What content will you be adding to the page and what is the purpose of that content? Will visitors find it useful?  Unless it is a form of some type the content on a page should exceed 75 words. If you don’t have more than that to say you possibly don’t need the page.

  • Prepare a Tender Document for your Web designer

Prepare a document for your website designer that includes all of the expectations and requirements that you have in relation to the website, such as the points above and how you need the website to perform for you – i.e. that the goal of the website is.

  • Copyright

Include in the tender document that once the website is paid for that it becomes your property. Make sure the domain name is also registered in the name of the company and not the developer. This is hardly ever an issue anymore but better safe than sorry.

  • Google Analytics Tracking

Don’t forget to include your current Google Analytics code in the new website. Don’t create a new one –you don’t want to start from scratch. Make sure the company owns and has access to the Google Analytics account. I had a client who told me they had previously lost 5 years’ worth of analytics data when the google account was closed by a disgruntled employee of the website developer.

  • Check for broken links

You should do this regularly anyway but specially after going through a redesign.  Use W3 Schools link checker. http://validator.w3.org/checklink

  • Don’t move server

This one is fairly self-explanatory. Don’t move server at the same time as making other major changes to your website.

  • Link Canonicalization

Ensure correct link canonicalization is in place. E.g. www.mywebsite.ie & http://mywebsite.ie

  • Responsive Design

More and more people are accessing the internet on mobile devices and tablets. Make sure that your website design is responsive. Find out more in this blog article on responsive website design.

  • XML Sitemap

Create and submit a new XML Sitemap to tell search engine crawlers what pages are contained in your website. Use the link above to create it. Find out how you can submit it to Google here

Internet Marketing – Launching a New Website – Advanced Preparation

Internet marketing strategies generally involve significant investment in a company website. Launching a new website or upgrading an existing one can be a difficult process and many business owners struggle to manage the process successfully.  Even if you have a great website designer, it can be difficult to transfer your vision onto the screen and even the savviest of business people can find themselves overwhelmed by the process.

In addition to managing the technical side of developing a new website, business owners must also go through the process of deciding on and creating the content for their website.  They must develop the correct marketing messages for their business and decide how to convey those messages on their new website.  As a result of all of this many business owners end up compromising on the vision they had for their company website and the functionality that they wanted from it.

Here are some top tips on how to save you some heartache and get the most from the process.

  1. Before you invest in a new website development project or website upgrade look at your internet marketing strategy and where your website fits into it. What are the business goals that you are trying to achieve and where does your online presence fit into that?
  2. Set specific goals for your website. Decide what you want customers to do once they visit your website?  Is it an e-commerce site – you want to make a sale? Do you want potential clients to download an eBook, sign up to a newsletter or fill out a contact form?  Once you set the goals of your website you can use them as reference points when making decisions on the functionality and structure of the website.
  3. Prepare an outline of the structure.  How are you going to organise your website?  By product? By service?  By location? What pages do you need and how do they relate to one another?  When you are doing this, keep your goals in mind. You want potential customers to find your essential products and services easily, and then convert in a streamlined way as possible. There is no point in having your eBook five pages deep and only accessible if visitors follow a specific path.
  4. Integrate your other online marketing platforms. How and where are you going to integrate your blog – social media Pages etc. into your website?
  5. Standard pages.  Don’t forget that there are certain pages that you will need to include.  These include a CONTACT US page and a PRIVACY POLICY if you are using tracking software to monitor the success of the goals you have set for the website.  You may also wish to include things like a PRESS page, TESTIMONIALS, TERMS OF BUSINESS, SITEMAP and or a GALLERY.  Adding additional pages to the structure of the site once development has begun can add to the costs incurred and may compromise the functionality of the site.
  6. Research. Find examples of websites that you like, in terms of colour scheme, style, functionality and layout.  They don’t necessarily need to be from your own industry but will give your web designer a good feel for what you are looking for.

I have managed the building of many websites on behalf of clients, working as an intermediary between the company and the website designer.  The relationship is similar to that of an architect working with their clients and building contractor. Knowing what you want your website to do for your business and being clear on how it fits into your overall internet marketing strategy will mean that you will get more from the time you spend with your developer and can concentrate on building a website that achieves your goals and looks great too!

We haven’t covered the content side of developing a new website in this article – I’ll shed more light on that particular subject next week – it’s a favourite of mine!

Internet Marketing Blogs – Top 5 to Watch in 2014

Uncover the best internet marketing blogs. There is a lot of great content to be found on the web, in fact there is so much that it can seem overwhelming. Time is precious and it can be difficult to know what blogs you should follow to keep up to date.  Here are my top 5 favourite blogs, covering various important elements of interent marketing.

  1.  Website Usability

This is fundamentally important and often overlooked, which is why it is top of my list. Businesses often focus so much on how they want their website to look, that they forget to take into account how it should function. Website usability is fundamental to the success of any website. Find out how the design, layout and content of a website affects it usability and ultimately its success.

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/

  1. Google Analytics

This is my favourite and a no brainer as far as I am concerned. Analysis how customers interact with your website is crucial to its success. Keep on top of new tips, tricks and functionality by following Google’s own blog.

http://analytics.blogspot.ie/

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

The internet is alight with search engine optimisation blogs but my favourite is the SeoMoz blog. Now known as Moz.com, I find it helps to keep up with what is going on, best practise and changes to the Google search algorithm that significantly impact ranking. It’s also ‘white hat’ oriented so it will keep you and your websites out of trouble. Some of the articles are opinion pieces and not all the ‘experts’ agree with each other, so bear that in mind before taking any content that you read here as gospel.

http://moz.com/blog

  1. Facebook Marketing

I love the Agora Weekly Pulse, a weekly roundup of the best Facebook marketing and advertising blogs each week with their key points in bullet form. An excellent resource to stay on top of what the Facebook Marketing experts are saying each week, without having to follow each individual blog.

http://www.agorapulse.com/blog

  1. E-Commerce and Inbound Marketing

I wanted to include blogs in these areas, but to be honest all the bloggers that I follow occasionally, such as Shopify and HubSpot include a hard sell with their content that I dislike, this is not to say that the content is not worthwhile. The result being a name-check but no link :-)

I hope this has proved useful and that you will learn loads to help you in your internet marketing efforts in 2014.

How do I identify the Colours Used on my Website?

Matching colours can be tricky. There are at least four different ways of identifying a colour:

RGB is based on the projection of light.  It is a colour model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colours.

A hex colour is a six-digit hexadecimal number used in website coding and other computing applications to identify a colour. The bytes represent the red, green and blue components of the colour.

Therefore hex colours and RGB are methods of identifying on-screen colours. There are different methods for identifying colours for print.

Pantone is a system for matching colours, used in specifying printing inks, it is generally used to identify corporate or brand colours.

Although a significant proportion of the world’s brands identify their colours using the Pantone system, the majority of the world’s printed material is produced using the CMYK process; this is done by mixing various amounts of 4 colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black.  Most of the Pantone system’s spot colours cannot be replicated using CMYK, the Pantone system uses 13 base pigments plus black and white mixed in specified amounts.

 

All of this underlines the fact that colours on screen and in print do not necessary correspond and exporting one to the other can cause issues. Pantones don’t necessarily work for digital print or for websites, and RGB and hex colours are unreliable ways of identifying a colour for print.

Some pantones do convert to CMYK, so you should ask your graphic designer to ensure to use one of those colours when they are creating your logo and brand identity, you should also ask them who to supply Pantone and CMYK details at the time they are working on your brand identity, so that you can to use them as references when printing, depending on what method of print you are going with.

Free Tool to Identify Colour Used on a Website

So how do I identify the hex colour used on a website?  I use a great free tool to for this. It is a toolbar extension called ColorZilla, it is available for Firefox and Chrome, here is the link to it in the Chrome store will give you the RGB and Hex colour used on any website and much more to boot.

I hope this article was useful, feel free to leave your comments on our Facebook Page if you liked it!

What is responsive web design and why do I need it?

Web design that adapts content layout in response to the device that it is being viewed on is the essence of responsive web design.  Web designers and developers have had to change tack in how they handle mobile browsers.  Initially, mobile websites using a subdomain such as m.mydomain.com with reduced content and a single column were seen as best practice.  This thinking has changed as mobile Smartphone technology has developed.

Responsive web design adapts to the device.  Customers on the website see the same content, at the same URL whether they are viewing it on an 1800 pixel desktop computer or on a 320 pixel Smartphone.  The layout of the content will be very different though.  Another advantage is for the client, as they only need to post content to the website once and no longer have to edit it for a mobile specific website.  Given the growth in mobile internet usage it also makes sense to concentrate on one message and one website.

Internet usage on mobile smart phones and tablets has grown exponentially, it is growing faster than desktop; and will overtake it in the near future.  People browsing the internet on their mobiles expect the same great content as those browsing at their desk at work and if your current web design doesn’t allow your website to display in a usable way on a Smartphone, you could be missing business opportunities.

So how does responsive web design work?  Thanks to CSS web developers can now define how content will render based on min/max device and display width/ height and on device orientation e.g landscape.  CSS allows up to 13 different factors to be taken into consideration and because of these multiple factors CSS media queries work better than a simple screen resolution detection system.

In Ireland we are ahead of the curve in terms of our mobile phone usage, there are more active mobile phones in Ireland than there are people.  You only need to look around you on a bus or train or in a café and you will see people all around browsing the internet on their mobile phone.

Responsive web design is just one of the important factors that you need to consider when developing a new website. If you are developing a new website or redeveloping an old one – talk to us – we have lots of project management experience in this area and we can also help to recommend the right developer for your project, be it an e-commerce or a corporate website.

Why is Professional Website Copywriting so Important?

Why is website content so important? We get asked this question all the time, and I suppose the answer hasn’t changed for some time. Having professional content on your website is important for two reasons:

  • You need to deliver your marketing messages to website visitors and effectively convey your Unique Selling Point’s to maximise conversions
  • The way your website will rank in the search results partly depends on the strength of your keywords and how frequently you have used them in the areas of your site that are crawled by search engines.  Search engines use algorithms that will seek out the frequency of those keywords in your content and add that to the number of times that your site has been visited and again further to check how often people have linked to your site through recommendations or backlinks

It all starts with content in this process because all search engine algorithms use Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI. Latent Semantic Indexing is the discovery process for finding related terms and phrases in a document or group of documents; it is a mathematical equation that relies heavily on the context in which any given word is used. For example, if the term “flat tyre” is used in a document, some semantically related terms would be: car, vehicle, repair, wheel, tyre pressure, and wheel brace. You can see that all the words in the list are related to the term “flat tyre”.

How Do I Optimise My Content?

As a business creates content for their website or other online platforms, there is often an overriding goal to have this newly created content found by search engines, however it is important to bear I mind that content needs to be written primarily for your customers. There is no point in ranking highly if none of the visitors to your website convert to sales.

In order to write good website copy businesses need bear two fundamentally important things in mind. Website copy needs to be compelling enough for visitors to the website to generate conversions and the backlinks that are the recommendations that also contribute to your site being found in search, and it also needs to contain the keyword rich content that will satisfy the requirements of LSI. Finding the correct balance is where a good website copywriter comes in.

How Can EzSales Help?

Well, that’s easy.  We help our clients to develop strong keyword strategies and then we assist them in developing great website copy that will balance the need to convert website visitors to customers, while at the same time optimising content for search through LSI.  We will work on the overall content for the main pages of your website and can also assist in developing weekly or monthly blog posts to keep your content fresh.

After all, if you are committed to marketing your services on your company website, you’re going to be working on great new content all the time, right?  Why not work smarter rather than working harder?  Talk to us today about our professional website copywriting services.

The role of colour in website usability and design

This week through my work as an internet marketing consultant I had reason to consider the role that colour has in web design and more importantly how colour affects website usability. As a result, I discovered some pretty interesting research, and I am happy to share what I found this Five Minute Friday.

I was looking at the Google Analytics stats of a new client’s website, and identified that the major issue on the site was a high bounce rate. I deal with SME’s so there is no budget for professional usability testing; however I did wonder what affect the yellow colour of the header and main sidebar were having on the bounce rate. What I found out about the colour yellow and website usability was really interesting:

Positive

• Yellow is a bright that is often described as cheery and warm.
• Since yellow is the most visible colour, it is also the most attention-getting colour
• Suggests warmth, sunshine and happiness

Less Positive

• Yellow is also the most fatiguing to the eye due to the high amount of light that is reflected.
• As is the most difficult colour for the eye to take in, it can be overpowering if overused
• Yellow can also create feelings of frustration and anger.
• While it is considered a cheerful colour, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms
• Babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.

What this tells me is that it is important to research the colours that we use on our websites. Yellow probably works really well as an accent colour – we use it on our own website, but should probably not be used as a background for content. Our kind website designer has agreed to change it so we can see if the change improves the bounce rate.

Here is some more information about other colours in terms of psychology and website usability.

BLACK is associated with seriousness, darkness, mystery, secrecy. Black absorbs and dilutes all colour surrounding it, black is not recommended as a backdrop to text rich content, as it will make small type difficult to be read

RED: Red triggers a physiological response that speeds up the heart rate, causing the person seeing it to breathe more rapidly. Red is associated with love, passion, and excitement, so if one wants to induce a passionate response, the colour red is always a good bet. One word of caution though – red is also associated with danger, warning and indebtedness.

BLUE is associated with trustworthiness, success, seriousness, calmness, power, professionalism. This is why it is used so often in corporate websites, by airlines and by financial institutions. Blue is also associated with intellect and therefore is often used by high tech and computing industries.

GREEN is associated with money, nature, animals, health, healing, life, harmony. Dark green is associated with luxury and lighter green is more calming and peaceful, making it a good choice for environmental products and pharmaceuticals.

ORANGE is associated with comfort, creativity, celebration, fun, youth and affordability. Research has indicated that the lighter shades of orange appeal more to an upscale market whereas the brighter ones appeal more to a younger audience.

PINK is associated with softness, sweetness, innocence, youthfulness, tenderness. Maternity sites should consider some pink.

BROWN is associated with earth, nature, tribal, primitive, simplicity. Choosing a dark brown shade may cause customers to associate it with dirt.

 

Subdomain or Subdirectory for my New Blog?

Should I host my blog in a subdomain like blog.mysite.com or in a sub directory like mysite.com/blog?

This is Five Minute Friday so I’ll give you the short answer – in a subdirectory. Find out why below:

From an SEO perspective if you are adding a blog to a website the best place to host it is in a subdirectory of the main site assuming the following conditions:

1. The blog is related to the same topic as the main website
2. You will be updating the blog regularly
3. The main site currently performs when it comes to ranking

A subdomain is treated by search engines as a completely new site and will require separate SEO efforts. By choosing a subdomain the blog will remain part of the main site and link juice and domain authority will be passed along.

As with anything in life there are no absolutes. You may be adding a blog to your site as a branding exercise and SEO is not an important factor. In this instance a subdomain may work better. It may also be worth considering a subdomain if your blog does not meet the three conditions assumed above.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates and Solutions

I have been doing quite a bit of online shopping recently, and I noticed how often I got to a certain point in the shopping cart and then abandoned my purchase.  I have done quite a bit of research and analysis on my clients’ behalves on this very subject, so I am well aware of the major roadblocks that affect the completion of a sale online.  Experiencing it from the purchaser’s perspective inspired this week’s Five Minute Friday blog post.

What are the major causes of shopping cart abandonment?
The average shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 67.45% this is based on an average rate aggregated over 22 different studies and was last updated this month. Source: Baymard.com

Statista.com has come up with 14 principle reasons that shopping carts are abandoned

Reasons for consumers to drop out of an online purchase in 2012

What these Statistics Mean

Obviously some website visitors abandon for more than 1 reason but these reasons can be broken down into 4 main categories:

 

Issues Possible Solution
Price Issues Display a best price guarantee.

Avoid hidden costs. Display the final price.

Offer free shipping

Website Issues Test website navigation is user friendly and layout is intuitive

Ensure the website is mobile friendly

Host website on a reliable server and monitor server issues & timeouts

Payment Issues Trust is important – display security badges but test where and how they appearOffer multiple payment options

Ensure price is displayed in the home currency of the visitor

Other Issues Many people are just browsing – send a reminder email with a click to complete purchase option.

Simplify the process – make editing the cart easy and avoid compulsory registration

Show images of the products in the cart and offer customer support if buyers have questions.

I hope that these tips are useful, and I look forward to sharing more tips and advice next Friday. Until then…happy shopping and happy selling :-)

How to Add a Goal To Google Anlaytics

As a copywriter and content creator I recently cringe when I look at my own blog. There are no recent posts in there because I have been so busy creating content for other people.  So Five Minute Friday is my solution. Five minutes of (hopefully) useful content every Friday – no excuses, that’s five minutes of typing, it will take less time to read. I’ll let you know how long this actually took at the end…

This week: How to create a GOAL in Google Analytics.

A goal is an action that you want to measure, like time on a page, a .PDF download or submission of a contact form, or a newsletter sign up.

  1. Log in to analytics and select admin from the account screen.
  2. Select goals from the administration panel

Goal analytics

  1. Select create goal
  2. Enter goal description and select goal type.
  • Destination example: thank-yous.html
  • Duration example: 5 minutes or more
  • Pages/Screens per visit example: 3 pages
  1. If you choose destination enter the destination URL
  2. Select ‘begins with’ or ‘equals to’. You might use ‘begins with’ to track all pages of a blog and ‘equals to’ for a specific URL, such as thank-you.html as above.
  3. Give the goal a value if you want to measure ROI.
  4. Verify the goal and select ‘create goal’
  5. Edit the goal to add a funnel (path) later if required.

Note: if you want to track PDF downloads or video plays, you will need to set up event tracking.

I hope this Five Minute Friday article has been useful.
P.S. This took 10 minutes to write – I’ll need to get faster!