A Facebook “Likes” Ad Campaign

By John Eberhard

Companies create a Facebook fan page in order to get their business message out to customers or prospects. Then you can post items of interest on your fan page, creating interest and engagement. The people who will see those posts are people who have “liked” your fan page.

So one of the things a business needs to do is to get a lot of people to like their fan page.

It used to be that every person who liked your page would then see your posts. Then several years ago Facebook changed their system so that only 15-20% of the people who liked a fan page would see the posts. Many people didn’t like that change, but the point is still that you need lots of people liking your fan page.

So how do you get lots of people to like your page? Well, within your personal profile, you can ask your Facebook friends to like a business fan page. And some will. But one of the most effective and simple ways to get people to like your fan page is to run a Facebook ad campaign geared specifically to getting people to like the page.

I have recently these campaigns for clients and gotten new likes in volume for roughly $1.00-1.35 each. So a monthly campaign with a modest budget of just $100-135 can get you 100 new likes per month.

And of course, you can target people in one geographical area, or by a variety of other factors:

Demographics: You can target people by their education level, by their income or net worth, whether they are homeowners or by their home type, by life events like a birthday or anniversary or their being away from home, if they have a new job or are in a new relationship, newly married, or recently moved. You can target people who are parents. You can also target people by their politics. You can target people in a certain industry or with a specific job title.

Interests: You can target people who have specific interests, like interest in a specific industry, or things like entertainment, family and relationships, fitness and wellness, food and drink, hobbies, shopping and fashion, sports and outdoors, or technology.

Behaviors: You can target users of specific mobile phone brands, people who recently bought a car, owners of specific car brands, people who made charitable donations and in what categories, people who have a specific operating system or use a specific browser, people who are expats from various countries, people who are investors of various types, you can select African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics, you can select people who have made recent purchases and in specific categories such as sports or household or technology, and you can select people who are recent home buyers or recent mortgage borrowers.  

This targeting allows you get people to like your page who are your target public for your products or services. And for a modest budget, if you keep it going each month, you’ll build up your page likes to a high level.

Reasons to Get a New Website

By John Eberhard

Here are a number of reasons why getting a newly designed website would be a good idea right now:

  1. Mobile Friendly: If your site was designed years ago, before it became a hard requirement for sites to be mobile friendly, it would be a really good idea to get this handled now. Statistics show that over half of web visitors today are coming to websites from a mobile phone. If your site was designed back when this wasn’t a thing, then it will show up tiny on the screen and the text won’t be readable. Which means most visitors on a mobile will just leave.

    Most new sites are made in a format called “responsive,” which means that the items on the page are moved around depending on the size of the screen (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile), but are still readable.

  2. Changing Styles: Web design styles have changed a lot over the last 3-4 years. And although that by itself doesn’t mean you have to go chasing after every new styles that comes out, if your site is more than 5-6 years old, chances are it is starting to look old. A new design will make it look modern and up to date, and will give your visitors the idea that you care about your image and online presence. This is especially important if a lot of your competitors have newer looking websites but yours looks older.
  3. SSL Certificate: If you’re going to get a new website, it makes sense to get an SSL certificate at the same time. This changes your web address from http to https and makes the site more secure for visitors. Google has been pushing for all sites to have an SSL so browsing is made more safe for everyone. For sites that don’t have an SSL, Chrome and Firefox now have a message in the upper left saying that your site is “Not secure.” Having an SSL gives your visitors more confidence in using the site and especially filling out a form or using a shopping cart.
  4. No Response: If you have a site that looks nice, but isn’t getting response, something can be done about that. There are two possible reasons: 1) the site is not designed well to get responses from the people that are visiting, or 2) no one is visiting, i.e. your monthly number of visitors is very small. Design problems that would negatively affect people responding could include: a) no prominent phone number, b) no contact form on the site or it is hard to find, c) you have a shopping cart but it is hard to find or not prominent, d) no clear call to action, i.e. you’re not telling people to respond or not giving them a good enough reason to respond.

    If your site traffic is very low (less than 200-300 visitors per month) there are number of ways to drive traffic to your site. Contact us to find out what options you could pursue.

  5. No 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?
  6. Poor 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.

If you have some of these problems, contact us and we’ll be happy to go over your options for a new web design.

Facebook Advertising

By John Eberhard

Facebook advertising has become an important part of any online ad presence, rivaling Google AdWords and being in some ways, even better. In this article I will explain some of the basics of Facebook advertising.

If you are familiar with Facebook, their ads now feature a large picture that is the full width of the news feed, a headline, sales text, and call to action button. That call to action button can say things like “learn more,” “download,” “shop now,” or a variety of other things, and when clicked, the button can take the visitor to a landing page off of Facebook. Or it can bring up a form on Facebook, with the viewer’s name, phone and email already pre-populated (making it easier for mobile users to respond).

The picture can be a single image, a carousel of images, or a video.

The ads pretty much look just like a post someone would make, except that it says “sponsored” in small letters near the top.

Objectives

Here are some of the things you can accomplish with a Facebook ad campaign:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Drive people to a shopping cart to buy products online
  3. Get people to like (become fans) of a Facebook fan page
  4. Drive traffic to a website
  5. Drive in-person visits to a brick and mortar store
  6. Get people to install an app

Targeting

One of the unique and most powerful aspects of Facebook advertising is the multitude of ways you can target individuals who are the right target public for your product or service.

Geography: First, of course you can target people who are in a certain geographical area, like your city, or a specific mile radius around a location.

Demographics: You can target people by their education level, by their income or net worth, whether they are homeowners or by their home type, by life events like a birthday or anniversary or their being away from home, if they have a new job or are in a new relationship, newly married, or recently moved. You can target people who are parents. You can also target people by their politics. You can target people in a certain industry or with a specific job title.

Interests: You can target people who have specific interests, like interest in a specific industry, or things like entertainment, family and relationships, fitness and wellness, food and drink, hobbies, shopping and fashion, sports and outdoors, or technology.

Behaviors: You can target users of specific mobile phone brands, people who recently bought a car, owners of specific car brands, people who made charitable donations and in what categories, people who have a specific operating system or use a specific browser, people who are expats from various countries, people who are investors of various types, you can select African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics, you can select people who have made recent purchases and in specific categories such as sports or household or technology, and you can select people who are recent home buyers or recent mortgage borrowers.  

This list will probably give you ideas of how you can target your specific type of client or customer.

Cost

You set a daily budget and can change that at any time. The clicks at this point tend to be cheaper than on Google AdWords, but that is driven by a number of factors including the number of advertisers competing in a specific niche.

Summary

Facebook ads offer some great opportunities to reach your target audience.

The Importance of a Color Scheme

By John Eberhard

I recently began working on a new custom web design for a veterinary ophthalmologist client. The first thing I usually do on such a project is to review 100-150 websites from others in the client’s industry. This gives me ideas, and allows both me and the client to see what is already being done in the industry. So in doing this with this veterinarian client, it forcefully brought home to me the importance of having a color scheme on a website. And how a lack of a color scheme makes the site look amateurish and gives it less impact. I was almost shocked at how bad most of them were.

So what is a color scheme exactly? A color scheme is a set of colors that are selected to use in a design, that work well together. Then those colors are used repetitively throughout the website in a way that makes the site cohesive.

Unfortunately, what I saw in a lot of those websites was basically no color scheme at all, i.e. colors were just used randomly. The themes looked professional in most cases, but the colors did not reflect a cohesive color scheme. And the sites did look amateurish.

So how does one put together a good color scheme?

Color Wheel

The first thing to know about color schemes is to know about the color wheel.

Here are some general rules about using the color wheel.

  1. In general you want to use 1-3 colors for your color scheme (not more), not including white.
  2. One of those colors will usually be your “main” color in your color scheme.
  3. A color can be used in conjunction with its “color opposite,” i.e. the color opposite it on the color wheel. That means blue-orange, purple-yellow, red-green.
  4. You can use a color plus the ones next to it on the color wheel.
  5. You can add white to one of your colors to make what is called a tint, or add black to it for what is called a shade.
  6. You should stay away from using all the primary colors together, i.e. red plus blue plus yellow. This tends to look garish.
  7. Repetitive use of any design element, including color, makes it stronger.
  8. You can always use a little splash of a color that is not in your color scheme, but not in a major way.
  9. The way you use the color scheme also includes the colors in the photos you select. If you can find (or edit) photos that fit well with your color scheme, that will enhance and strengthen the color scheme, particularly if the pictures are large. This does not mean you can’t use photos that don’t fit the color scheme, but the more you can use ones that fit it, the stronger the color scheme will be.

Good Examples

Here are some examples of sites that have a strong color scheme:

http://www.animalvisioncare.com/
This one is all earth tones, yellow, orange, brown. Notice they chose photos for the slide show that include those colors. And notice how the colors are repeated throughout the site, in the logo, the headlines, the background, the navigation buttons, the footer at the bottom.

http://veterinaryvision.com/
Main color is a dark green, paired with a reddish orange. Again those colors are repeated throughout. I would have used more of a regular red instead of reddish orange, but it works.

http://stvopets.com/
Simple color scheme of just red and black, but repetitive use of those colors gives the site a feeling of cohesiveness.

http://www.southernveterinaryeyecare.com/
Nice use of color opposites purple and yellow. I would have used a little lighter yellow, but it works.

http://www.arkahsd.com/
Brown-orange-tan color scheme.

https://lvvsc.com/
Purple and yellow again.

http://www.dallasvetspecialists.com/stephanie-beaumont/
This site is mainly white with gray and black, with small accents of blue and purple in the logo. But it comes off as elegant.

Bad Examples

https://vcahospitals.com/eye-clinic-for-animals
Cringe-worthy use of color. Logo and buttons at the top are dark blue, then in scrolling down the page we have large blocks of orange, teal green, bright red, lighter blue, magenta, purple, and dark green. This is a major chain too, so they didn’t have to go the DIY route.

http://urbanvetcare.com/
This site has super bright neon green, pink and orange. It almost works in making a statement just with the colors all being super bright. But I think it would have worked better without including orange, which just throws it all off.

https://www.animaleyeconsultantsd.com/
No color scheme. Just white with black headlines and text. Paired with an overall weak design.

http://www.animaleyevetmurrieta.com/
The logo has colors that just don’t look good together, and that dominates the site.

http://www.aecwilton.com/
This site uses a light yellowish-green, then a purplish red and gold. Might have worked without the gold.

http://www.animal-eye-doctor.com/index.html
This is a case of the gold and black color scheme clashing with the photos on the home page. Now note how the color scheme looks good with the photos at the top of this page:
http://www.animal-eye-doctor.com/cataract-surgery.html

http://www.ivghospitals.com/
This site has a logo that is dark blue, orange and lime green. Then they try to use all three of those colors on banners, boxes, and headlines. Yikes!

http://backmountainvet.com/glaucoma-screening/
This sites just has white a really boring pale green, until you get to the bottom where there is a dark reddish brown. You would think this combination would work, but the green is so pale it offers no contrast with the mostly white site.

Summary

A well done color scheme really adds to the impact of a site. A poorly done or absent color scheme lessens the impact or aesthetics of the site or can even make it unpleasant to be on the site.

Today with the plethora of DIY (do it yourself) platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, they have themes made for you, but you still have to input content into the site yourself. And not to insult anyone, but not everyone has a feel for color combinations.

Even if you are using a DIY platform or have bought a pre-designed WordPress theme, it still pays to bring in an experienced designer to make sure the color scheme and other aspects of the final presentation are coming out right.

What is Search Engine Optimization and How Does it Work – for 2018?

By John Eberhard

There are a couple elements to proper and effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and I think it is important to understand what they are and how they work.

First of all, the reason you do SEO is to increase the traffic you are getting to a site from organic search engine results. Organic search engine results are the regular result that you see when you search for something. It is not the paid results, and it is not the map results (on Google the map results are called “Google My Business” now).

So the goal is to increase traffic from organic search results. What type of results can you expect from doing SEO? If you follow an SEO program over a period of time, you can expect to as much as double, triple, or quadruple your site traffic. So what is an SEO program?

The Elements of SEO

Proper Search Engine Optimization consists of “on-page optimization” and “off-page optimization.”

On-page optimization consists of:

Doing keyword research to select keywords that have a good number of searches being done for them, and that have fewer number of sites competing for them

Writing titles and descriptions for each page of the site

Putting those titles and descriptions into a hidden area of each page which your site visitor doesn’t see, but which search engines see, called the meta-tags area.

On-page optimization should be redone every 2-3 years, as the traffic to various keywords and the competition for them can change dramatically in that amount of time.

Off-page optimization is the process of building up the number of links to your site. The number of links to your site from other sites is a primary factor in how well your site will rank on search engines for the various keywords you are targeting.

Over the years search engine optimization consultants have developed various methods of creating links to a web site. Then over the past 6 years or so, Google, the largest search engine with over 60% market share, has been actively attacking these various link building methods. They have made changes to their search algorithm to make various links building methods less effective. Why?

Google has insisted over and over that you should just write good content and put it on your site, and if it is really good, people will link to it. And that would create what they call a natural link pattern. But there are a few flaws in this logic:

First of all, realize that what Google tells people to do, is good for Google, not necessarily for you.

What Works Today

The list of link building activities that actually work, is constantly changing. Here are the things that I find most effective now in 2018.

  1. Press Releases: Write a press release about your company activities, then submit it to multiple free and paid press release sites. Make sure the release has a link to your website in it. I consider this the #1 method of link building today.
  2. “Stealing Links”: See who is ranking highest for your top keywords, then see what sites are linking to those competitors. Then take those links and analyze them for the ones with the highest page authority and domain authority. Then work to get links to your website from those sites. Of course it’s not really stealing anything. I consider this the #2 method of building links today.
  3. Blog Posts: Write articles that are 300 words minimum and post them to your company blog. Plus create several blogs for your company on free blogging sites, then post your blog posts there too. These same articles can be used as content for other uses such as a company email newsletter.
  4. Business Listing Sites: Each listing you create on these sites will count as a link to your site. But not all of these sites are worth a lot. Concentrate your efforts on ones that get a lot of traffic.

There are other methods but those are the main ones.

The most vital aspect of this is to develop a plan and then keep at it over a long period of time. Just doing it once or twice will not do anything effective.

And the way to measure if it is working, is by looking at web site visits, and the number of links to your site.

I have several clients that have been doing a link building program for several years, where we have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their site traffic. And that’s worth doing.

Why Online Marketing is Changing So Fast

It’s a cliché that the only constant in life is change. That is certainly true in marketing in general, and in Internet marketing in particular.

Back in 2005 I was managing Google AdWords for a realtor. We were getting leads for an average cost per lead of $10, and we were bringing those leads in, hand over fist.

You couldn’t do that on AdWords for a realtor today. Your cost per lead would likely be 20-30 times that amount. Why? What has changed? Well, at that time, there weren’t that many realtors advertising on AdWords, and the cost per click was very low compared to today. Now, many, many more advertisers means the bids have risen a lot, so the only types of companies that can advertise on AdWords now are companies selling high ticket products or services.

This story highlights a phenomenon I have noticed increasingly in the last few years. It works like this:

  • a. A new advertising medium or platform starts up
  • b. A decent number of public start using it to find products or services
  • c. At first a small number of advertisers use the medium
  • d. Later on, as word gets around that the medium works for advertisers, the number of advertisers grows massively
  • e. The massive number or advertisers causes either: a) the number of leads to diminish for individual advertisers, or b) the cost per lead increases, or both

If a business starts to use the advertising medium at “c” above, their results will likely be huge. But if an advertiser starts using the medium at “e” above, it’s possible they will never get good results and will probably discontinue using that medium.

Some examples:

  • Google AdWords is definitely at point “e” above. This has driven bid prices up to the point where only businesses selling a high ticket item can afford to advertise on AdWords. For those businesses the medium still can work great.
  • Yelp is at point “e” above. A few years ago you could have a free listing on Yelp and you would get a decent number of leads from that. Now you pretty much have to have one of their paid ad accounts. If so, you can still get a decent number of leads from Yelp.
  • Right now, Facebook advertising is somewhere between “c” and “d” above, depending on the type of company advertising and the public being promoted to. So you can still in some cases get lower costs per lead. But Facebook isn’t appropriate for all types of companies. It’s better for B2C (business to consumer) than B2B (business to business) companies.
  • Email promo went through a slightly different lifecycle. Basically back in 2000-2001, email promo was working like gangbusters. I worked for a software company and we were making millions with it. Then a few years later, guys selling Viagra and toner cartridges abused the medium by overusing it, which for all intents and purposes killed it, except for emailing to your in-house list of clients and prospects.

This doesn’t mean that you should stop using Google AdWords, Yelp, email marketing or any other advertising medium, if it is working for you. It doesn’t mean those media don’t work anymore. But it does mean that there are cracks in the armor, that those media don’t always work for everyone today.

A Better Marketing Plan

So I’m not trying to be a downer here. But here are the points I want to make:

  1. Every advertising medium goes through a life cycle at least similar to what I describe above.
  2. At this point in time, that entire life cycle can happen amazingly fast. What used to take decades can now happen in a year or less.
  3. Because this life cycle happens so fast, it is not possible to just promote your business on one medium today and just stay only on that medium. Your campaigns could stop working or diminish greatly without your understanding why.
  4. The better plan is to aggressively find new media that you can use to promote your business, and test promoting your business on those new media, on a small scale, and for a limited time (preferably while still doing what you’re doing now). If you can find a medium that is at point “c” above, that is ideal. Be creative in your search. Think outside the box.
  5. Take the media that work well for your business, and increase your budget on them. Discontinue the ones that don’t work for your business.
  6. Repeat 4 and 5.

If you can observe what media your successful competition is using, particularly if they are repeatedly or continually using certain media, then test those as a priority.

Good luck with your marketing.

Pay Per Click Advertising Tips for 2018

By John Eberhard

Pay per click advertising is an umbrella term that applies to any advertising where you pay money every time someone clicks on one of your ads. Some of the programs where you can run pay per click advertising are:

  1. Google AdWords
  2. Bing Ad Center
  3. Facebook advertising
  4. Yelp paid ad program

I will give some tips and data on each one.

  1. On Google AdWords, since click prices are determined by bids, the click prices are largely determined by the number of advertisers bidding on any given keyword. Because of the number of advertisers running ads on AdWords is pretty high, the bid prices for various keywords can run pretty high. For this reason, I recommend AdWords only for fairly high ticket items, such as home improvement and healthcare companies. I do not recommend it for low ticket items like books or CDs. But for high ticket items, AdWords can be extremely effective in generating a steady stream of quality leads.
  2. Both AdWords and Bing Ads have what they call ad extensions. There are 11 different types on AdWords and 9 on Bing. Basically these are a way to add more content to your ad and make it larger, i.e. it takes up more space on the page. So it is more likely people will see your ad and click on it. One type is a “call extension,” which shows your phone number underneath your ad. And on a mobile, that phone number is clickable. This can be extremely effective in generating a live phone call, which most companies consider the best quality lead. My tip is to add as many ad extensions as is appropriate for your business.
  3. Remarketing is a way to place ads in front of people who have visited your web site. AdWords has a remarketing program and a number of other companies do as well. Basically, special code is placed on your site, so that every time a visitor comes, a cookie gets placed on his computer. Then you can create a bunch of banner ads, different sizes, and those banner ads will appear to that visitor to your site, on various other sites that he visits. It’s a great way to put your message in front of people again who have visited your site, and get them to come back. And the cost of the clicks is generally lower than regular AdWords clicks.
  4. For the last couple years AdWords has run video ads. You can set up one of your videos to appear before the video someone goes to on YouTube. You have probably seen these, where you can click to skip the ad after a certain number of seconds. If someone watches the whole thing you get charged. Your video can appear in a number of other places, including when people search on YouTube. The cost for this is very small, between 12 and 18 cents per view. But you have to have a video that is appropriate and has a call to action at the end.
  5. Google AdWords is sufficiently complicated and expensive at this point that I do not advise people to try it on their own. I think it is well worth the money to get a consultant to work with you on it, set it up and manage it.
  6. Bing Ad Center was formed several years ago combining Bing’s and Yahoo’s PPC programs. It is a valid advertising platform. Unfortunately, it seemed like when the two programs merged, the response level fell down to just what Bing’s program had been before. Yahoo’s traffic just seemed to disappear. For a number of years Bing Ads got terrible response, but over the last year I have seen campaigns for some of my clients run better on Bing than on AdWords.  
  7. I always recommend that for pay per click campaigns on AdWords, Bing and Facebook, that you have people click through to a customized landing page, rather than your home page. And don’t put any navigation buttons on that landing page. This is based on 14 years of experience in pay per click, that if you keep them on one landing page, with a phone number to call and a form to fill out, you will get better response than if you let them wander all over your site.
  8. I now use a tracking phone number on all my landing pages for all my clients. This is a number, where it tracks all calls that come in to it, bounce the call over to the client’s main number, and record the call. I then use that tracking number only for my pay per click campaign, so I know all the calls to it came from AdWords or Facebook or whatever. If I am running multiple campaigns I will set up a tracking phone number for AdWords, one for Bing, one for Facebook, etc.
  9. Facebook’s pay per click program has changed a lot in the last several years. They used to just give you these tiny little ads over in the right column. Now you can run ads that appear right in the main news feed, with a large picture, headline and some text. Facebook also has an impressive array of targeting methods, where you can target people by geographical area, age, gender, by professions, by interests, etc. You can even upload an email list that you have and they will find a good number of those people on Facebook and you can target your ads to them.
  10. There are many “desired actions” that you can have people do in Facebook advertising, such as get people to like your Facebook fan page, download an app, etc., but I think the most valuable thing is to send them to a landing page on your website which will have your offer and a response form.
  11. Pay per click advertising expert Perry Marshall (who has written several excellent books on AdWords and Facebook) stresses in his book that Facebook advertising is NOT for everyone. He has put up a site where you do a brief survey that will tell you whether Facebook is a good fit for your business. http://isfbforme.com/ Unfortunately this site is sometimes down these days.
  12. This article on Entrepreneur.com states: “Is yours a local business with a physical location where consumers regularly come to purchase your goods and services? If so, then Facebook is for you. Dentists, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, physical trainers, gyms, specialty shops, cupcake stores, specialty groceries, beer and wine shops, restaurants, mechanics, theaters and music venues are highly likely to benefit from locally targeted Facebook campaigns.”
  13. Yelp has a paid advertising program. The way it works is, on Yelp you search for a type of business in a specific city. Then you’ll see all these listings come up. If you do one of their paid ads programs, your ad will be one of the ones that appears at the top, a certain number of times per month. Paid programs start at $300 per month. This is most workable for local types of businesses, like restaurants, contractors, health care practices, etc. I have a number of clients who do extremely well with Yelp’s paid programs.
  14. The goal of any pay per click campaign should be to develop a steady stream of leads coming into the business.
  15. It is also vital, when doing a pay per click campaign, to have your act together in terms of sales, handling the leads, and converting them to closed sales. If you don’t have this part of the operation nailed, you will waste a lot of money and eventually give up on your pay per click campaign.

Good luck with your pay per click advertising.

9 Pitfalls to Avoid When Getting a New Website

By John Eberhard

This article will cover 9 pitfalls you can make when getting a new web site designed, and how to avoid them.

Not Mobile Friendly

Any new web site you get designed today should be mobile friendly. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Over half of your customers or prospects use a mobile phone to access the Internet, and you want the site to display properly and be readable and usable for them.
  2. In April 2015 Google made a change to their search algorithm to penalize sites that are not mobile friendly. That means if your site is not mobile friendly, Google will penalize you in its rankings.

There are two ways to make a site mobile friendly today: a) adaptive web design and b) responsive web design. Adaptive web design is where you create a separate mobile version of the site, usually with fewer pages than the regular version of the site. Responsive design is where you modify the site so it displays well on a mobile and is readable, and the elements on the page are moved around and shifted down the page so one has to scroll down the page to see them.

You can check here to see if your web site passes Google’s test:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Not Having an SSL Certificate

An SSL Certificate (Secure Socket Layer) makes your site safer for users and makes them more confident in using the site. This is especially important now because Google is penalizing sites that don’t have one, and in July their Chrome browser will say “Not secure” in the address bar for any site that does not have one.

Not Personalized to Your Business

One mistake that businesses make today with web sites is to make a site that looks too generic, like any other site for a business of that kind. You see that often with health care practices for instance. The problem with this is that it doesn’t give any sense of the personality of the business, and basically it doesn’t give any reason for the prospect to select YOU rather than your competition. Most industries today have lots of competition, and it’s vital to find ways of setting yourself apart from the competition.

One of the best ways to personalize a web site to a particular business is to include lots of pictures of the business. In the case of a health care practice, include pictures of the doctor or doctors, the staff, the building from the outside, the lobby, etc. If it’s a manufacturing company, show pictures of the facility, work being done, and the principals and staff.

Too Few Pages

Ideally a web site should have anywhere from 12 to 40 pages, with each page talking about different aspects of the business or different services or products delivered. This is important for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, where the more content your site has, the more likely it will rank for various keywords related to your business.

So avoid the pitfall of having a small site of 4-6 pages. And definitely avoid having just one page, where your navigation buttons just push you down the page. That’s not good at all for search engine optimization.

Not Transferring SEO Data

If you have a web site now and that web site is getting traffic and is ranking well for various keywords, it is very important when getting a new web site, to transfer the search engine optimization (SEO) data to the new site. This is data that is stored in the invisible code of the site (called the “meta” data) that search engines see and use to decide how well to rank your site.

If you are getting traffic now, but this SEO data is not transferred to your new site, you could see your traffic fall off significantly after the new site is put up.

Contact Info Not Prominent

A web site should make it extremely easy for someone to contact you. Remember that people in general today are busy and in a hurry. No one has time to search through your site to try to figure out where your phone number and address are. Make it really easy to find them and put them on every single page. The best solution is to put your phone (big) and address in the header of the site, or at the top of the sidebar.

It’s also a good idea to have a small contact form right there in the sidebar of every single page.

No Identity Capture Devices

The vast majority of visitors to your web site will not contact you and will just leave, representing a waste of the resources spent getting them to your site.

You want to have what are called “identity capture devices,” meaning various offers and things on the site that will entice the person to give you their name, email address and other contact information.

This goes beyond simply having your phone and address prominently displayed. The concept behind an identity capture device is that you want to get people who are interested in your product or service and who are a qualified prospect, but who are not going to buy right now, to give you their information.

If you get their contact information, that gives you the opportunity to continue to communicate with them. You can send them a series of emails promoting your product or service using an autoresponder. You can put them on your email newsletter list. You can keep your company in their mind so that when they are ready to buy, maybe weeks or months down the road, they select you and not someone else.

Some common identity capture devices include:

  • Email newsletter subscription
  • Free report or white paper on topic related to your services or products
  • Free software or utility download, or mobile app
  • Free video, webinar or other content that you let them see only when they give you their email or other contact info

As the web matures and people get on more and more email lists, they become more and more reluctant to give out their email address. So you have to become more clever and innovative in developing identity capture devices.

Hiring an Inexperienced Designer

It is always possible to get someone to design your site for next to nothing. No doubt your wife’s sister’s cousin’s nephew knows how to do web design and is willing to do it for $200. Or maybe for free. And he designed a web site for that heavy metal rock band “Death Stalkers.” So he’s experienced, right?

The problem with this is that you get what you pay for. If it matters to you that your web site looks good and is a good representation of your business (and it should because a large majority of people go to a business web site before doing business with them), then you should not hire a brand new person to design your web site.

An inexperienced designer may design something that looks totally inappropriate for your industry (like a dentist site that looks like a heavy metal band). And he won’t know how to do things like create identity capture devices or how to design the navigational structure.

An experienced designer will know how to create a site that is appropriate for your business and will function properly, i.e. get site visitors to respond to you.

Not Having an Up to Date Design

Web design changes dramatically every couple years. It’s important to be up on new trends. For example, it was a hot trend a number of years ago to design a whole site in Flash. But then people realized that search engines couldn’t see any content for a Flash site, so that hurt the site in terms of rankings. And then iPhones can’t see Flash content.

Some of the up to date design elements you should consider today are:

  1. Photo slide shows on the home page. Many of these go across the whole width of the screen. Today you can even have different panels of the slide show have animation in them, or have a video in them.
  2. Smaller slide shows in the sidebar, with each panel linking to a page on your site for individual products or services.
  3. The whole site set up so it is the full width of the browser. This is becoming a very prominent trend.
  4. Large photos used as a background for the whole site. You can also make the main text box partially transparent, so that the background picture shows through somewhat. (It’s important to make it opaque enough so you can read the content. Reabability comes before being cutesy.)
  5. Video used as a background for the site.
  6. There are plenty of plugins for WordPress that allow you to display content from your social media accounts, such as recent Facebook or Twitter posts.
  7. You can hook up Google Calendars to display on your site, or create a forum.

Good luck with your new web site.

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.