Sunday, July 31, 2016

Local #InternetMarketing Services For the Small Business

By Allan Joseph

Small businesses who do not take advantage of the Internet are missing the boat when it comes to promoting their products and services. Applying local Internet marketing services can turn a small business web site into a lead generation tool.

Many businesses have taken the very first step of building a web site. There is a bit more to it, but more on that later. Let's focus on the web site first. Here are some tips to make the web site more effective. Keep the content and the look-and-feel simple and appealing. The visitor should be attracted to the site and able to find clear information about the company's products and services. In fact, there should be just enough information to answer the most common questions that the visitor might have. However, just putting up a site on the Internet isn't going to be enough to bring more business.

More and more people are using search engines to find local businesses. In fact, recent surveys indicate that more people are searching for local products and services on the web than in the "yellow" page books. The search engine companies are wise to that and are adapting their search results to how the web user searches. Therefore, businesses need to do two things to take advantage of this trend.

1) Adapt the web site to the ways people are searching for their services. That means optimizing the site pages each to the desired search phrase. That's called on-site SEO (search engine optimization).

2) Promote the web site to maximize the odds of being found. Promoting a site includes the following: getting listed in normal search results for targeted key phrases; signing up on local business directories; adding profiles to social media sites; and building links to the site from a variety of other sources. The Internet provides many opportunities for a site to be found beyond normal search engine results.

The key to driving more visitors to a web site it to make it easy for them to find it when they search for targeted keyword phrases related to the business. Nowadays, targeted keyword phrases include geographic modifiers. For example, "marietta ga hvac" gets searched hundreds of time a month. If a local HVAC contractor in Marietta, GA exploits that, his/her business can be well-positioned to capture that search audience.

Small business owners need to apply these tactics now... before their competitors do.

Promoting your web site on the Internet can seem intimidating or overwhelming. For more information on how to apply local Internet marketing [] services, visit Marietta Web Design [].

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Common Small Business #WebDesign Mistakes to Avoid

By Andy Cresswell

As a small business owner, you probably already know that your website is a very important tool for marketing your brand and reaching your target audience. Ensuring your website design is attractive and functional to your audience is also necessary for success. Unfortunately, there are quite a few small business web design mistakes that are all too common. Sometimes this occurs when small business owners hire a cheap designer and believe they're getting a value, although sometimes it's mistakes the website operator makes by excluding certain important information.

To make sure you maximise the potential of your business website, keep these pitfalls in mind and avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not Building Trust

Building trust with your audience is arguably the most important thing any small business web design should do. There are actually some really easy and quick ways to build trust, as well as improve your conversion rate. Start my making sure your full address, company name and phone number is included on every page, preferably the footer. If you have an e-commerce storefront, make sure you are displaying badges like your SSL certificates and sitelock. After all, most people are not going to want to place an order if they doubt the professionalism and security of your website.

If you are a very small business or a freelancer, it also helps to add a picture of yourself to your "About Us" page along with a personal quote. Be prepared to be very transparent about your services and offer as much detail as possible, including any return policy or guarantees you provide. You should also have a privacy policy on your website, which tells your visitors what you will and will not do with their personal information that's collected.

Finally, consider adding the rel="publisher" link to your homepage, which points to your business's Google+ page. This way, the image used on your Google+ profile will be displayed alongside your website on Google search results.

Mistake 2: Website is Too Flashy

It's not uncommon for business owners to get a little carried away with the content and design of their website, requesting flashy graphics and bold colours that detract, not add value. To effectively market your brand and improve visibility, you want a clean and minimalist interface that impresses customers but makes it easy for them to find what they are looking for.

Content should be straight-forward and relevant, not a long rambling monologue or an excuse to stuff in keywords unnaturally. Users should come away with a good experience and feel like they found exactly what they were looking for.

Mistake 3: No Call to Action Buttons

Call to action buttons are important because they funnel your visitors further into your site. By keeping website users on your website for a longer amount of time, you'll lower your bounce rate and increase the chance of a conversion. It also improves user experience by directing users exactly where they want to go, assuming it isn't overdone. If you sell insurance, for example, you would have a call to action button encouraging users to request a quote. If you sell products online, you would have a call to action button for users to "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart."

Mistake 4: Not Using the Rel="Nofollow" Tag on Outbound Links

Finally, a really common small business web design mistake is not using the rel="nofollow" tag on outbound links away from the website. While it may not seem like a big issue, it actually allows you to control the "link juice" of your website, which gets leeched out to all of your "dofollow" outbound links. Only links going to your internal pages should be "dofollow," which means they pass along this link juice.

It's also important to avoid linking to a lot of low authority or low quality websites, especially if you do not have a great deal of inbound links to your website.

Unfortunately, these mistakes are all too common, but very easy to fix, for the most part. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so the best option is avoiding these mistakes in the first place by working with an experienced individual who can create a custom web design for your business.

Andy Cresswell is a freelance UK web designer who specialises in custom web design for small businesses, as well as branding, mobile web design and development services.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

#SmallBusiness #WebDesign - Five Common Mistakes to Avoid

By Brian Jay

If getting customers to visit your website is your first challenge, getting the customer to look around is your second. Your site's basic design, layout, and content can be the difference between a sale and losing a customer to the back button. Whether you are looking to build a website from scratch or thinking about updating a current site, here is a list of five design no-no's that are sure to drive most of your customers away.

1) Flash Introductions

In addition to being terrible for search engine optimization, modern web surfers loathe the Flash introduction. Intro animations are mostly (and thus expected to be) a barrier between a customer and the information for which s/he is searching. Even if your introduction contains relevant information or offers a skip button, trash the Flash!

Flash animations can be a useful tool, however, if your product or service is best described with an audio-visual medium. If you know your animation helps educate your customer on your product or service, link to it on your home page, but avoid requiring a customer to watch or listen before moving on to a different page.

2) Automatic Sound or Videos

If you must have music or a video on your homepage, make sure the customer is given the option to view or listen. NEVER have the sound or video play automatically, even if you have a "turn off" button in plain sight. In my opinion, these are the two most common violations of netiquette (that's etiquette for the internet) and will send your customers searching for the back button, not the off button!

3) Stock Photography

We've all seen the picture of the smiling telephone operator waiting to take our call, but she sticks out like a sore thumb on a small business' website. Simply put: stock photography is cold and impersonal, not the image you want to portray to your customers.

So what's the solution to filling all of that empty space on your website? A digital camera! Take pictures of your office, team members, storefront, showroom, warehouse, etc. These pictures 1) show you are a real company, not just a website and 2) give your customers the feeling they are dealing with actual hardworking people like themselves.

If you are worried about the quality of the photos you can take with your own equipment, hiring a photography student from a local college can be an inexpensive way to make the photos on your website look more professional. If money is less of an issue, a professional photographer could get the work done in an afternoon.

4) Images of Text, Instead of Text

You should not encounter this problem if you are starting from scratch (if you do, change designers!), but I still come across dozens of small business websites each month that have images of text instead of text. This is the biggest search engine optimization (SEO) mistake that can be made. Period. If you have a website that has nothing but images, you are way past due for an upgrade!

In addition to being an SEO problem, images of text prevent customers from copy and pasting phone numbers or addresses and other useful information, but mostly it just looks dated and unprofessional.

5) Clean is King

Simple, clean designs are the new dominating design force on the web. Many of the most visited websites on the web have mostly while backgrounds, text, and a header and footer. Take a closer look at some of your favorite websites, you'll notice they are deceptively simple!

How do you apply this simple design principle? Avoid black backgrounds, harsh color palettes, or graphics-intensive designs. This way, your content becomes king, not your design.

Bonus tip: Do your customers visit a physical store or office? If so, adding a picture of the outside of your building to the "contact us" page can help your customers quickly identify your building and avoid getting lost or missing your business all together.

In additional to owning several small businesses over the years, Brian Jay has consulted with many small businesses on how to improve their website and their internet marketing effort. His latest consulting gig is for, an online resource that helps businesses and media owners buy and sell advertising [].

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