Is Your Website Dead?

Is your website dead? By that, I mean, are you getting no leads and/or sales from your website? Is there no or very few people coming to your website? Do you not know how many people are coming to your website weekly or monthly?

If these things are true for you and your website, then you will tend to get this idea that your website is just a cost of doing business, but it doesn’t really contribute to your business production. And if you have that idea, you won’t want to do anything or spend any money to enhance the website or make it productive.

Just as an example, over the past few years I have seen business owners that I know ignore the fact that their website or websites are not mobile friendly. Despite the fact that this means over half the people coming to the site can’t use it because the text is too tiny to be read.

So since I am obviously not in agreement with the idea that a website is just a cost and a waste of time, what should be done with a website?

First Objective: Traffic

The first thing to know is that today, there are so many websites on the Internet that if you put up a nice website, but do nothing to drive traffic to the site, nothing will happen. You may get a smattering of visitors, but not enough to drive any leads that will make a difference to your business.

So before you start driving traffic and bring your site back from the dead, I would definitely fix three things about your site if you haven’t already: 1) Make the site mobile friendly so it displays well on a mobile phone and the text can be read easily. 2) Put an SSL certificate on the site so the web address starts with https rather than http. 3) Put Google Analytics on your site so you can see how many people are coming to the site weekly or monthly.

Once you do that, you can start driving traffic to the site. Here is a quick summary of what’s available to do that:

  1. Pay Per Click Advertising – This is where you pay for ads on Google or Facebook. But in general this is usually for businesses with high ticket products or services.
  2. Search Engine Optimization and Link Building – This is building up your organic traffic, and is a longer lasting investment.
  3. Google My Business – If your business is local, you should definitely create a GMB listing. These are the listings that show up on Google in conjunction with a map.
  4. Yelp – If your business is local, you definitely need a Yelp listing. Yelp gets 36 million visitors per month. I have put several clients on Yelp paid advertising and most have done very well with it. You do have to deal with reviews, getting really happy customers to write reviews, and responding to negative ones. The best strategy is to get lots of positive reviews.
  5. Email – The best thing to do with email is to compile an email list of customers and prospects that contact you; an in-house list. Then email to them regularly. It’s best to use one of the online email services like Aweber.
  6. Business Directories – There are a lot of business directories where you can put up a listing for your business. Here is a list of the biggest ones with traffic figures. https://www.vendasta.com/blog/top-100-online-business-directories Concentrate on the ones that get the most traffic.
  7. Social Media – You put up a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, get lots of fans/followers/connections, then post regular things about your business.
  8. Offline Promo – Don’t ignore the use of offline promo such as business cards, brochures, and direct mail. Make sure your website address is put on everything.

Two things to bear in mind: 1) Don’t just pick one of the above. Use multiple media. 2) Whatever you do to promote your website, do it consistently and regularly. Not just a one shot deal.

Google Ramps Up Penalty for Not Having an SSL Certificate

By John Eberhard

An SSL Certificate (stands for Secure Socket Layer) is the security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your browser. This link ensures that all data that is passed between the web server and browsers remains private.

https://realwebmarketing.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/SSL-cert.jpgThis is vital in protecting any information that people send to you via your site, such as when they fill out a form on your site, or when they buy something from your site if it is set up as an e-commerce site.

An SSL certificate changes the beginning of your website address from http: to https:.

Back in November I wrote an article on how Google was starting to penalize sites that did not have an SSL certificate.

There is a new development in this saga that every business owner needs to know. Starting in July, with the release of the Google Chrome 68 browser, ALL sites that do not have an SSL certificate will be marked as “Not secure” right next to your web address in the URL bar.

Starting in January 2018 they started doing this with SOME sites that didn’t have an SSL. But in July they will start doing this with ALL sites that don’t have an SSL. Here’s how it will look:

Here’s an article from Google stating this. https://security.googleblog.com/2018/02/a-secure-web-is-here-to-stay.html

What’s It Mean?

If you don’t have an SSL certificate, it means Google is currently penalizing your site in rankings. And the “Not secure” notice will appear in the browser starting in July.

So if your site either sells products online or you rely on getting people to fill out forms to contact you or become leads, this could hurt your business. Because the more alarming the notice, the less people will trust filling out a form or buying something on your site.

What’s the Handling?

First, you have to purchase an SSL certificate from the company where your site is hosted. These range from free with some hosting companies, up to $100 per year per site.

You can buy an SSL from a company other than your hosting company, but I would not advise it because it makes the implementation much harder and take longer.

Once the SSL certificate is purchased it has to be implemented on the site. The site’s URL will then start with https: rather than http:.

Second, some additional work needs to be done on the site. All the internal image links on the pages need to be changed. If they are not changed, the URL bar will look like this:

Once they are changed, the URL bar will look like this:

That’s the goal, as that marking will give visitors confidence in the security of the site.

To get your site set up with an SSL certificate, contact us now.

Web Design Basics for 2018

By John Eberhard

I have been doing a lot of web design projects lately. Every couple years, the typical, expected and common things to do, in designing a website, changes dramatically. Here’s an update for 2018.

  1. Websites Over 3-4 Years Old: If your website is over 3-4 years old, it’s time to take a look at re-designing it. Styles and approaches have changed a lot over the last few years.
  2. Width: 10-15 years ago, most sites were 800 pixels wide or less, because that fit the screen resolution of the computers that most people owned back then. Today, that has changed to the point where most new sites go the full width of the browser screen. If you have a site that is 700 or 800 pixels wide, it will look tiny on the screen today, and not have much impact.
  3. Mobile Friendly: It is a must today for all businesses, to have a web site that is mobile friendly. This is vital because over 50% of all web visitors today are coming to your site on a mobile phone. So if your site isn’t mobile friendly, it will be tiny and unreadable, and they will leave. Plus Google penalizes your site in the rankings if it is not mobile friendly.
  4. Slide Shows or Video Backgrounds: It has become very common over the past few years to put a slide show on the home page of the site, with 4-8 slides. Usually these are big pictures that go across the same width as the site. Now many sites have a video background at the top of the home page.
  5. Contact Info: You should put your contact info on the site in such a way that it displays prominently on every page, either on the right side of the header at the top, or in the sidebar. Don’t make people have to hunt for your contact info when they are ready to contact you. I am usually in favor of putting some kind of response form right in the sidebar, so it appears on every single page. Remember, you are not just out to make your site look great. You want people to respond.
  6. Contact Forms: It is vital to have a contact form or multiple contact forms on your website. Some people prefer to contact you that way rather than pick up the phone.
  7. Social Media Links: It is common today to put links to all the major social media sites on a web site. It is a good idea to also put buttons allowing the person to like your Facebook page. And there is software that allows you to display the most recent activity you have posted to your Facebook page or to Twitter.
  8. Personalization: One mistake I see a LOT with some small businesses is to have a site with lots of information but no pictures of the business or personnel. This is a mistake, because one of the things you are trying to do with any promotion is to differentiate yourself from the competition. Otherwise, why should they select you?
  9. Video: Having a video or several videos on your site can make a big difference. Having people see you, your company, your staff, your products, your customers, helps to make you more real to and more trusted by the prospect.
  10. Quality Design: The quality of the design is important, because that is the thing that the visitor first sees, and it is the quality of the design that will invite him in and get him to see more and read your message. This involves things like the color scheme (using colors that go well together and fit your topic), graphics, the fonts and size of the type, large photos, the placement of the various elements, etc. The competition in most industries today is fierce. A high end design will get your site noticed more, help you differentiate your business, and help you deliver your message.

How to Decide Which Website Marketing Actions to Do, Examples Updated for 2018

By John Eberhard

In an article several years ago I described all the major methods of website marketing for a company, and gave examples of different types of companies, and what actions I would recommend that they should do online.

I decided to take this and update it for 2018.

Home Improvement Company (Local, high ticket item)

  • Pay-per-click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Yelp paid advertising
  • Google My Business (maps listings)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing targeted at the local geographical area
  • Video marketing, showing products
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects

Health Care Practice (Local, high ticket item)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Google My Business (maps listings)
  • Local search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the local geographical area
  • Video marketing, showing practice owner and happy patients
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Yelp paid advertising

Consulting Company (National, high ticket item)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the target public
  • Video marketing, showing owner, and client testimonials
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging

Book Author (National, low ticket item)

  • Social media marketing targeted at people interested in the topic
  • Blogging
  • Video marketing, showing author
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects

Beauty Products Manufacturer (National, low ticket item)

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to women in target age group
  • Video marketing, showing products, happy customers, experts
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging
  • Exhibiting at local home shows and other types of local shows

Dance Studio (Local, low ticket item)

  • Google My Business (maps listing)
  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the target public in local geographical area
  • Video marketing, showing performances
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging
  • Yelp paid advertising

Insurance Agency (Local, relatively low ticket)

  • Google My Business (maps listing)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the local geographical area
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Yelp paid advertising

Software Company (National, high ticket)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the target public
  • Video marketing, showing product, developers, customers
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging

Financial/Retirement Consultant (Local, high ticket)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the target public
  • Video marketing, showing consultant, happy clients (some laws restrict showing clients)
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging

Private School (Local, high ticket item)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Yelp paid advertising
  • Google My Business (maps listing)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing targeted at parents in the local geographical area
  • Video marketing, showing facilities, faculty and students
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects
  • Blogging

Real Estate Agent (Local, high ticket)

  • Pay per click advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook
  • Yelp paid advertising
  • Google My Business (maps listing)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
  • Social media marketing geared to the local geographical area
  • Email marketing, once you build up a list of prospects

Good luck with marketing your company online.

Marketing Trends for 2018

By John Eberhard

Every time the new year rolls around, you see tons of articles claiming to herald the latest and hottest trends in marketing for the new year.

Th other day I searched for articles of this nature, to get a sense of what other people are saying the hottest trends will be. Suffice it to say that my buzzword detector starting going off like a Geiger counter, and I didn’t really find anything mentioned in these other articles that I thought were important trends for marketers to be aware of.

But there are a few things that I think are important new trends, and I will also list out important things to think about that aren’t new but are important.

New Trends

SSL Certificate: I think it has become vital for marketers to add an SSL certificate to their websites, which changes the http in their web address to an https, and encrypts information going to and from that website. Google is pushing hard for all websites that ask people to enter personal information in forms, to get an SSL certificate. And both Chrome and Firefox display a white circle next to the URL bar, that when clicked, states that a site without an SSL cert is insecure. I’ve seen articles claiming this notification will get more assertive in the months to come.

Bing and Facebook Advertising: For companies doing pay per click (PPC) advertising on Google, I recommend expanding your advertising presence on Bing and Facebook. Years ago I had PPC clients on both Google and Bing, then Bing basically started producing nothing and being generally useless. But in the past year I’ve started up new accounts for clients on Bing that have out-performed Google. And the costs are lower.

And Facebook advertising is a great fit for certain types of companies, especially B2C (business to consumer) products.

Trends to Stay Away From

I came across a great article recently by marketing author Mark Schaefer, entitled “Why marketing technology is sucking the life out of the marketing profession.

In it he goes over how marketers have gotten into the habit of using certain technologies, which they knew people hate, because they “work.” I’ve even caught myself saying this. His examples include popups, endless email campaigns, and unsolicited email. He says:

“The heart, the soul, the truest pulse of marketing is vaporizing because our profession is turning into a glorified IT function. Marketing strategy is being derived from data scientists, SEO gurus, and statisticians doing A/B testing in a back room somewhere.”

“We are implementing strategies and tactics based on what statistically is supposed to work, instead of what customers really want.”

“You see, the problem is just going to get worse — much worse — as ‘marketing technology’ becomes synonymous with ‘creating consumer hate at scale.’

“With the amount of personal data being collected today, I believe we’re on the cusp of an era of unprecedented creepiness. Somebody in analytics is going to recommend a marketing tactic that crosses a line of ethics because … “it will work.” It is already happening. I predict that we’ll soon see some epic marketing failures in our business when the decisions are based on probability analysis versus common sense and good taste.”

A year and a half ago I read a booked called “Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey,” by Bob Hoffman. He points out that ad agencies used to be based around a creative guy who would find innovative, funny and creative ways to sell things. Now they tend to be based around numbers guys, who do everything by statistics. Several of the “new marketing trends” articles I read even listed “big data” as a vital trend in 2018, meaning we need to analyze all the statistics and make our marketing decisions based on stats.

Stats are important, but I tend to think Hoffman is right and that marketers need to concentrate more on finding clever ways to sell things, rather than just doing A/B testing.
 
Things That Aren’t New But Are Still Important in 2018

  1. Websites that are more than 3-4 years old need to be re-designed, period.
  2. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you are potentially losing over half of your website visitors because the site will appear tiny and unreadable on a mobile phone, and your visitors won’t stay.
  3. If you have a local business, you need to be on Yelp.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of permanently increasing the amount of traffic coming to your site. It’s not an instant gratification thing. It takes time but is well worth the effort.
  5. Pay per click advertising (PPC) is a vital medium for any company with a high ticket item (costs over say $500). But it has become complicated enough that you should go into it with an experienced consultant.
  6. I mentioned this in my last article, but the economy is booming. I think during the last 8 years the economy has been in the doldrums, and many business owners have slowed down or stopped their marketing outreach, and settled down into a world of reduced expectations. But all that has changed in the last year. So it is time to upgrade and increase your marketing efforts, and take advantage of that boom. Don’t let your competitors eat your lunch while you hesitate. He who hesitates is lost, and fortune favors the bold.

Let’s work to make 2018 the best year ever for all of our businesses!

Time to Start Promoting

By John Eberhard

Recently I was talking to one of my clients who has had a great year, and who has hired us to do a major web re-design. I asked her what she attributed her great year to, and she said that the economy was going a lot better this year, and people were more willing to spend money.

This got me thinking and I did some research. I found that:

  • The Dow’s highest closing record is 24,290.05 set on December 4, 2017.
  • The Dow has set 80 new record closing highs since the 2016 presidential election
  • U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in October, 2017 to the highest in almost 17 years as Americans grew more confident about the economy and job market, according to figures from the New York-based Conference Board
  • Online shoppers spent $5 billion on Black Friday — 17% more than 2016
  • Blue collar wages are up 4%
  • Federal Reserve in New York projecting a 3.8% rise in GDP, which would be the best economic growth for the US economy in 3 years

So other than to cheer everyone up, why am I bringing up this information?

Simply put, it has been my observation that a lot of people in business have responded to the lousy economy that we’ve had over the last decade, by slowing or stopping their promotional efforts.

Less money for promotion. Dropping various promotions they were doing. Not bothering to update their website. The list goes on. But the common denominator has been less willingness to spend money on marketing and promotion.

I can understand that. I think during that time period we’ve seen a broad based decrease in the willingness of the public to spend their money.

But things are different now. Consumer confidence is up. The stock market is hitting record highs over and over. Shoppers spent 17% more this Black Friday than last year. It’s time for business owners and executives to wake up and snap into present time. Business is booming. But in order for you to take advantage of that, and for you to be part of that boom, you need to step up your game and ramp up your marketing and promotional efforts.

That means:

  • If your website design is more than 3 years old, it’s time for a re-design
  • Make sure your site is set up properly to get people to respond to you
  • If you’ve never done search engine optimization on your site, you need to do it to increase your traffic to your site
  • Make sure your website is mobile friendly, otherwise you risk losing over 50% of visitors, who visit the site on a mobile and won’t be able to read the text on your site
  • Take that promotional idea you’ve been sitting on for the last 8 years and put it into action
  • Take a look at your most recent affluent period, and put back in any promotional actions you were doing then, that have dropped out
  • Analyze what your top competitors are doing for their promotion, and pilot doing those things
  • Get an SSL certificate for your website so visitors will have confidence that the site is secure
  • If it’s appropriate for your business, start doing Google AdWords
  • If it’s appropriate for your business, start doing Facebook advertising

Let’s all take advantage of this economic boom, and that all starts with promotion.

Why Your Site Needs an SSL Certificate Now!

By John Eberhard

An SSL Certificate (stands for Secure Socket Layer) is the security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your browser. This link ensures that all data that is passed between the web server and browsers remains private.

This is vital in protecting any information that people send to you via your site, such as when they fill out a form on your site, or when they buy something from your site if it is set up as an e-commerce site.

An SSL certificate changes the beginning of your website address from http: to https:.

It has been Google’s intention for the last couple years, that all sites move from http: to https:, so that any information flowing across the web is more secure.

Google Chrome and Firefox now display a little white circle with an exclamation point in it, to the left of the web address in the top address bar, for any site with an http: prefix. If you click on that white circle on Firefox, a dropdown window appears saying “Connection is Not Secure” in red. On Chrome it says “Your connection to this site is not secure” in black. Internet Explorer does not have any indication that the site is not secure.

So that’s not TOO intrusive yet, right? You have to click on the little white circle to see the message about the site being unsecure.

If sites have an SSL certificate, on the latest Chrome version, it shows a green lock icon next to the web address bar, and has the word “Secure” in green. On Firefox, it shows a green lock icon.

Discussion online indicates that Google is going to increase the intrusiveness of their “Not Secure” messages, until everyone gets an SSL certificate for their website.

Serverguy.com says that soon Chrome will start showing a “Not Secure” message, in red, right in the address bar.

I have not been able to confirm this exactly, but it is clear Google will continue pushing with more direct and intrusive warnings for sites that are not secure.

Here’s what Serverguy.com says about why your site needs an SSL cert now:

“1. Encrypts Sensitive Information

“The information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted. When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to.

“2. Protects You From Cybercriminals

“They are clever!

“According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybersecurity damages will cost the world over $6 trillion annually by 2021.

“It is impossible to escape the rising tide of cybercrime if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate. They will identify weakness(es) in your network…mostly, when information is transmitted. Recently, the black eye masked people have been refining malicious strains that are specifically designed to capture data while moving between destinations. (Told you, these people are clever!)”

Just Do It

That tells us that if you have any text information being relayed to you via forms on your website, such as credit card info, user names and passwords, or any other information, it is vital that you get an SSL certificate now. ESPECIALLY for e-commerce sites, this is something you have to do now. If you don’t, pretty soon you will start to see online sales decline because people will be reluctant to give you their information if they are being told by Google Chrome or other browsers that your site is unsecure.

So what’s involved? Well you have to buy an SSL cert from your hosting company (cost between $40 and $100). It’s best not to buy it from some other company other than your hosting company because that grossly complicates the process.

Then once that cert goes live, there are several technical issues that have to be taken care of, such as links to pictures, and redirects from your old pages to the new ones (because your pages now have a NEW web address). The redirect issue is particularly important if you have done search engine optimization and have a lot of links to your site and are getting a lot of organic traffic. If you don’t do redirects you could lose all your links and all the SEO value you have built up. It is not just a matter of throwing a switch.