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Website Development

Done is better than perfect

By | Business Growth, Website Development | No Comments

So many small business owners fall into the trap of perfectionism. But we all know what happens when we get too picky — a big fat NOTHING. Perfectionism doesn’t serve us, it works against us. We become our own worst enemy and productivity and efficiency go out the window.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to pay attention to detail and to have high standards for yourself and your business. But when it cripples you from doing what you need to do, that’s not healthy. And your business will suffer the consequences.

I have fallen into this trap myself, and I’ve seen the devastating results it can have. I’ve had to work hard at it, but I find that the mindset of “Done is better than perfect” is nearly always accurate.

Get the Most Out of Your Single-Product E-Commerce Website

By | Business Growth, Website Development

Not every product-based business has hundreds, or even dozens of products to offer. Some businesses zero in on one product and that’s it.

If you’re one of those businesses, don’t believe even for a second that you’re inferior in any way to multi-product sellers. On the contrary, you have the advantage of focusing all your marketing efforts on a single niche, rather than being forced to divide your attention between multiple offerings.

In any event, if you’re selling your product online, you may be wondering what your e-commerce options are. It’s important that you put your best foot forward as a professional and legitimate online business. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need the expansive functionality of a traditional multi-product site.

We’ve built a number of single-product e-commerce websites over the years, and we’ve found that a full-feature e-commerce solution is not likely going to make sense for you. Here’s why:

  • It’s expensive. You’re going to pay a lot more money for functionalities you don’t even need.
  • It’s overkill. Simplicity is better, both for you and the UX.
  • Full-feature e-commerce sites are onerous to maintain.

Our Recommendations

We recommend a clean, modern website built on the WordPress platform, with high-quality (ideally professional) images and well-written content.

Content should be clear, concise, and compelling. Home page content will likely be short, attention-grabbing, and very CTA-focused. It should immediately highlight what problem(s) your product solves.

Trust indicators such as testimonials, logos of prominent clients, awards, and news outlets your product has been featured in can be sprinkled throughout the site to boost your credibility.

A designated Product page with detailed information about your product, including features and specifications.

An About page for information about your company and your expertise within your industry.

Payment Solutions

Let’s say you’ve set up your WordPress site with great images and compelling content. Next, your customers need to be able to purchase your product easily.

Many large e-commerce sites have fully integrated payment solutions on their websites. These are costly and complicated to maintain and update.

You’ve got one product, so you can keep it simple. We recommend taking payments through a third-party site, such as:

  • A PayPal “Buy Now” button, or
  • Authorize.net Simple Checkout

There are others out there — do some research and you’ll find the best solution for your business.

You’ll need to set up an account with the payment service, and then it’s as simple as adding a snippet of code to your site.

Give us a call if you have any questions about single-product e-commerce or third party payment solutions on your WordPress website, and we’ll be happy to walk you through it!

How to Develop a Keyword Strategy for Your Website

By | Website Development

If you’re at all familiar with SEO and online marketing, then you probably know that keywords are crucial to Google’s ranking system.

Determining which keywords to use, how often to use them, and how to fit them into engaging, valuable content is all part of the process.

If you want your website to rank well on Google, your first step is to come up with relevant keywords (words and phrases that users are likely to type into the Google box) for which you’d like your site to appear in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

But how do you determine what those keywords should be?

How to Develop a Keyword Strategy for Your Website

The following is excerpted from our super awesome and informative Website Muscle book, Authority: How to Boost Your Online Presence and Grow Your Business – in stores now!*

(*Just kidding, it’s not out yet. But stay tuned, because it will be hitting the shelves soon at a Costa Mesa Website Muscle near you!)

Start the keyword strategy process by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. What are my customers looking for on Google?
  2. Do they search online for information about my business or industry?
  3. What search terms do they type in for information about my industry, product, or service?

If you don’t have an answer, STOP what you’re doing and take some time to really contemplate this, because the secret to creating an effective online marketing strategy lies in the answers to these questions.

How to Build Your Keyword Strategy

Coming up with an initial list of keywords can feel overwhelming. It shouldn’t. Keep in mind that this list can – and should – be modified as you close in on who your ideal customers are, and who is searching online for your product or service.

Here are some questions to ask when creating your list of keywords (write down your answers):

What products/services do you offer?

Be specific. Let’s say you’re a dealer of residential front doors. There’s a big difference between broad, unfocused keywords like “doors” or “front doors” and narrower, more specific keywords like “fiberglass entry doors” and “solid wood entry doors.”

What problems do you solve?

Every product or service solves at least one problem. For example, if you are a general contractor specializing in damage restoration, keywords might be “fire damage restoration” or “rebuilding home after flood.”

How would you describe your business to someone who has never heard of you?

Use search terms that your prospective customers are familiar with. Avoid industry jargon if that’s not what customers will know or use.

For example, one of our clients owns a fitness studio for a Pilates-inspired exercise method called Lagree fitness. Even though they aren’t a Pilates studio per se, their keyword strategy includes phrases like “Pilates studio in Tustin” in addition to “Lagree fitness” as their brand awareness grows.

How would you search for your own business without using your company name?

Someone just beginning their research on a new front door for their home wouldn’t necessarily know to search for “Plastpro fiberglass entry doors.” Instead, they might search for “affordable new front door” or “entry door installation.”

What locations does my business serve?

If you only do business in Southern California, it won’t do you any good to attract search results from people in Poughkeepsie. Many of our clients are local businesses who want to be found online in certain geographical areas. If you want to limit your reach to local searches, include location names (like “Costa Mesa” and “Orange County”) among your keywords.

What questions are you asked most often by prospective customers?

These are likely things people will type into a Google search. If you are a divorce attorney: “Do I need a divorce attorney?” “How long will my divorce take?” “Who gets the family home after divorce?” and so on. These are known as long-tail phrases, which I’ll explain later.

Now that you’ve answered these questions, you’ve got a list of some primary and secondary keywords. As you build content (website pages, landing pages, blog posts, etc.) based on your keyword list, remain consistent with your terminology throughout. But don’t overuse the keywords to the point that the content doesn’t make sense anymore; that’s not helpful to a user. Also, Google may label it as spam, which could have serious ramifications for your website down the line.

How many times should I use keywords on each page?

Moz recommends using keywords once in the page title, once in your headline, two to three times in the content, and once in your meta description. Too much and it will be spammy, too little and Google may not recognize what the page is supposed to be about.

Long-Tail Keywords

A very important component to your keyword strategy is what’s known as the “long tail.”

Long tail keywords are more niche and specific to your own business, as opposed to broad keywords that may apply to every business in your industry (and possibly even other industries).

The website wiseGEEK gives a good definition of the long tail (which they call “low hanging fruit”):

“We have Mother Nature to thank for the expression low hanging fruit. A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this, we get the popular expression ‘low hanging fruit’, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.”

Let’s say you’re a massage therapist. “Massage therapy” is a very broad industry keyword that will be difficult to rank for on Google. However, a long tail keyword like “corporate chair massages Costa Mesa” or “sports injuries massage Huntington Beach” will be easier to rank for, and reach searchers that are more likely to be looking for your services.

When someone conducts a Google search, Google wants to return the most accurate results. So the more specific your keyword strategy and page content, the greater your chances that it will appear on the SERPs.

Hopefully now you’ve got a great list of keywords to work from. Narrow it down to your Top 10 and get started!

What You Need to Know About Heat Maps & Scroll Maps

By | Website Development

Optimize.

Optimize is one of the most frequently used words in web design and online marketing. It literally puts the “O” in SEO.

Some optimization tactics are basic — make sure all of your links work, include a Call to Action, etc. Professional ‘optimizers,’ however, need to go deeper than these surface-level improvements. And to do that, we need data.

Developers often use information from Google Analytics to optimize their websites for conversions.

This information is helpful, but it includes gaps.

Google Analytics can report on how long people stay on a page, where they came from, and where they went, but more precise and granular data — like where users stop looking at a page before they leave it — is not available.

Not through Google Analytics, anyway.

Enter the heat map.

What You Need to Know About Heat Maps & Scroll Maps

What’s a Heat Map?

Heat maps, which are available through tracking programs like CrazyEgg, show where users are and are not clicking on a given website page. The map is formatted intuitively, showing warmer colors like orange and red on page areas that get the most clicks and cooler hues like blues and purples on places that aren’t getting as much attention.

According to Webmaster, heat maps typically track eye movement by attaching complicated machinery to someone’s head to see where their eyes land on the page.

Since heat map providers can’t wire up every visitor to your website, they track clicks instead. This isn’t such a bad thing — a Carnegie Mellon study found an 88% correlation between where people’s eyes go and where they click on a web page.

Heat maps are extremely helpful for judging the performance of your content and Calls to Action. Once the heat map is installed, you’ll be able to decide which CTAs to keep and which ones to change or remove based on user data, which can lead to a higher conversion rate.

Website heat maps provide the power of a premium eye-tracking software at a much more reasonable price than more sophisticated usability testing.

What is a Scroll Map?

Scroll maps show which areas on a website visitors leave from. This information allows you to remove or reconfigure these elements so that more people convert on your offer.

Typically, one specific area or a select few are causing people to leave. With the scroll map, you can identify these areas quickly through the same intuitive color scheme as the heat map. This tool lets developers and online marketers monitor activity on your website and make improvements for more conversions.

Interested in taking your online marketing to the next level? Click here to contact us.

Lessons From Heat & Scroll Map Tracking

Heat maps, scroll maps and other tracking software make it much easier to see the actions that users take on your website. Your online marketing provider can use these programs to improve your specific campaign, but are there any overarching lessons that tracking can tell us?

HubSpot found a few lessons after studying a number of heat maps and scroll maps provided by Marketing Sherpa. Website designers and “maintainers” can use these tips to optimize their sites and improve their conversions — even without direct tracking data of their own.

1) People don’t read, they scan.

As we mentioned above, tracking maps can take some of the guesswork out of web design by showing exactly what your visitors are or are not doing.

HubSpot found that website visitors aren’t reading, they’re scanning — quickly perusing information on the page to find what they need and take the next step.

Designers and content writers who want to increase conversions should adapt to this reality by creating content for these ‘scanners.’

Bullet points and bold text can highlight key ideas, and short, simple sentences will keep users engaged — unlike long, unbroken blocks of text.

2) Images draw interest — even if they aren’t interesting.

People love to click on images. So much, in fact, that research shows people click on images that are not even linked to anything.

If your website is full of uninteresting stock images that don’t engage visitors, you’re missing out on potential leads that could help your business. Each image should contribute towards the goal of that page.

If you’re building a landing page, for example, the images should help convince people to submit their information. If you are sending out an email campaign, the images should convince people to click and visit your site or take advantage of an offer.

3) Get to the important stuff right away.

Online users’ reluctance to scroll, especially in search engine results, is one of the reasons that Google rankings are so important to businesses who want to grow online.

Research shows that “below the fold” content, which is not visible when you open the page because you need to scroll down to see it, will only be viewed by about half of your site’s visitors.

While an increase in mobile-friendliness has made scrolling more common in website design, it’s still a best practice to put your most important content, including a Call to Action, above the fold.

How Much Should I Spend on a Website?

By | Business Growth, Website Development

What does a new B2B website cost these days?
More importantly, how much should I spend on a website?

People often have no idea how much they should spend when on a new or redesigned website for their business.

The never-ending options for website creation can make it difficult to understand how much you should spend — and who to give it to. While I’ll always argue that you should figure out what your company needs and invest accordingly (preferably with us), sometimes “the budget is the budget,” right? And as much as you would like to spend blockbuster-sized dollars on your site, you have to start with what you have.

For all you “the budget is the budget” types (we know you’re out there), this guide should help you understand where you fall on the spectrum of website project spending, and what you should expect for your website dollar.

NOTE: All of the budget numbers listed below are an estimated range. Your website’s cost will vary according to your project’s scope and who you choose to work with.

$100: DIY

If you are starting a new business and your website budget falls somewhere between “slim” and “none,” you’re going to have to pay for a new website with other forms of currency – like elbow grease and sweat equity.

There are tons of do-it-yourself website platforms like WIX and Squarespace that you can use to create professional websites cheaply. If you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy this can be difficult, but if you have a little design sense and a basic understanding of website functionality you’ll be able to figure it out.

$500: Freelancer

If you have managed to scrape a small budget together, you might be able to enlist a freelancer to help build your site. Some freelancers are great, but all should come with a big “Buyer Beware” sticker — there are a lot of awful freelancers out there too. Do some research and look at their portfolio with a critical eye.

Also, some freelancers do great technical work but aren’t the best about communication and deadlines – usually because they’re busy wearing all of the hats in their company. Be sure to vet a freelancer before agreeing to a project, and make sure they’ll have time to complete your website before signing a contract. (Also, make sure you have a contract, just in case things go bad.)

$5,000: Small Agency

If your business is small but established, it’s time to spend some real money and get to work with an actual web design company. Small agencies will usually have a team of 3-10 employees and a larger portfolio, as well as reviews on sites like Yelp and Google My Business. Some of them will outsource parts of the job, but if their portfolio and reviews are good you should give them a try.

Keep in mind, however, that smaller agencies will be limited in technical ability, so you’ll want to keep your new site fairly simple. Smaller agencies don’t have big teams with experts at everything, so don’t expect anything too fancy or customized.

$15k: Boutique Agency

Agencies in this range are usually good at making websites for businesses in specialized industries that are ready to bring in new leads and increase sales. They typically have a lot of experience in their field, a strong design and content team, and a well-defined process.

While they may offer better service or create a better website than the smaller agencies, they still may have limitations in terms of expertise for more advanced or custom products.

$40k: Medium Agency

Now we’re talking about a serious investment. A mid-sized agency will dig deep into the details of your company, starting with a robust discovery process and/or branding exercise to fully define and develop all of your website’s needs and functions. The agency will have a team large enough and specialized enough to customize your website and define success. These projects can take many months and go through many revisions to get everything just right.

$500k+: Large Agency

You’re really going places. A half-million dollar budget for a website will include unique and custom functions for a serious and invested audience.

A website project of this size may also use a customized Software as a Service (SaaS) that requires high-level technical knowledge – and costs some serious dollars. At this budget amount, you’ll have a dedicated team committed to the project for years of innovation, development, and implementation.

We hope this guide helps you figure out what types of agencies you should be talking to about your project – and what you’ll expect to spend on the finished product.

Good luck!