If you are searching for ways to increase sales in today’s competitive environment, there are 5 steps you can take to start generating enquiries.

infographic1.Website performance
Your website is the hub of all your online activity.

Even if you are advertising off-line using press ads or mail drops, the first thing most people will do is go online to check out your website and research your business before taking any further action.

Like a lot of things from designer clothes to product packaging, image and design are important and will create the first impression visitors will have of your business.

Quality of build is also important. What determines how successful your website pages are at being found by search engines will depend on how the site has been constructed, how engaging the content is and the relevance of the keywords used.

It takes the skills of a good designer and web developer with an understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to provide a sound foundation for your website to develop and grow as your business goes forward. With the right management, continuous SEO work and generation of new content, these skills will help you achieve a page one ranking on Google over a period of time.

A good website is an investment and you will reap long-term rewards if you take time at the beginning of the project to work with your developers to give your website the best chance of converting visitors into clients.

2.SEO
Assuming your website has been developed with SEO in mind, this will provide a good starting point to monitor and improve the rankings of your most important keywords on the main search engines.

A new website will take around 6 weeks to settle and start providing the keyword ranking information needed to identify where to concentrate efforts on improving page content to move keywords up the page rankings.

New content and improving existing content are amongst the most important factors in SEO. Having a Blog on your website and regularly posting informative articles will help improve your keyword rankings.

We already work with a select number of our clients to achieve page one rankings. First, we carry out a review of your keywords and competitor activity. Then, if we think we can achieve results for you we would recommend a programme of work to achieve success. We will be honest with you if we think SEO is not the best way for you to achieve results and we consider one of the other steps below to be more cost-effective for your particular business.

3.Social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the most popular social media sites. For small businesses with limited time, I would recommend focussing on one social media platform and spend your time there. Social media can be very time consuming if you want to generate quality leads and increase your connections with the aim of sending them to your website or taking the conversation off-line for a more detailed discussion. Call me to find out how.

4.Advertising
Developing a successful advertising campaign will bring a constant supply of leads into the business.

Choosing where to advertise and creating the adverts for a campaign that will generate enquiries will need research into your products or services. Price comparisons, competitor research and an understanding of your target audience will help decide where to advertise and what to say in your adverts.

Online advertising such as Google Adwords can drive traffic to your website immediately. Campaigns can be set up and tested very quickly to find out what works using conversion tracking and Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of click-throughs to your website.

Social media paid advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn is relatively new and can be very effective for some businesses. Like Adwords, adverts can be tested and refined to maximise response rates and conversions to provide a constant supply of enquiries to your website.  

Press and TV advertising are still relevant for some businesses; however, it is more difficult to track responses to justify the cost unless you can direct readers to a specially developed landing page or unique phone number to record visitor numbers.

Whichever route is best for you, your website will be the hub of the activity.

5.Email marketing
Sending regular emails to your clients and prospects, providing you have their permission, is still one of the most effective ways of getting your message to your audience.

If you are writing a regular blog article for your website, as well as sharing on social media, send a link in your email to the article and continue to remind subscribers of your products or services.

Further reading
You will find more information about each of the above steps in some of our previous articles and I will be writing in more detail about each of the above in future articles. Alternatively, visit the Marketing Services section of our website.

Call 01584 890725 to discuss how you can use these and other marketing techniques to grow your business.

Mark Langston.
 
 
 
 
 

23rd March 2018
Clients often tell me that the hardest element of putting together information for their website is writing the content.

Understandably, clients want to write the content themselves because they know their business and it saves the cost of employing a copywriter. However, what they often overlook is the time and effort that is needed to write copy when you are not a regular copywriter.

This time can often be better spent developing ideas to generate more traffic to the new website and therefore increasing sales. Good copywriters can save you a lot of time and can often bring a more constructive view of your business to the content.

There is another important reason why copywriting website content should be left to the experts; keywords and key phrases. These are the words and phrases that describe your products or services and are being used by your customers on search engines to find what they are looking for. If you have not done research to find out how many searches are being done for your keywords, your pages will not be attracting the most valuable searches.

Copywriting_website_contentKeyword copywriting and content marketing
Do you know how many searches are being done on your keywords or what keywords your competitors are using?

If your competitors are being found for high performing keywords and are above you in page rankings, these are the keywords you need to incorporate into your own pages.

Using industry standard software, we can find out a range of information such as:
  • Where your competitors are positioned for the most valuable keywords.
  • What keywords they use to rank on Google.
  • What keywords they consider to be important.
  • How competitive the keywords are.
The software also provides us with invaluable information to help optimise your web pages.

When you write your content, you should include your keywords on the page in a balanced way; too many repeated in a small amount of copy and you will be penalised for spamming. Your copy should be interesting and easy to read; write for your audience first, then for the search engines.

If you want to (or must) write the content yourself, subscribing to one of the many proprietary software tools provides you with a definite advantage over your competitors and will make your time spent at the keyboard more productive.

Alternatively, save the subscription and the time and pay a content marketer to do it for you.

Give me a call on 01584 890725 to find out how to get a better return on your time and invest in content that will help grow your business.

Mark Langston
 
 
Website design has changed significantly over the years and is constantly evolving as our use of the web via different devices increases.

Web-design-and-user-interfaceA web designer will consider a number of factors that will determine the navigation, layout and placement of content on a website to get the desired action from the user.

You may have noticed that modern web designs generally follow a similar theme these days. There is a good reason for this. From studies on user interface and the use of eye tracking software, we now understand what attracts a viewer’s eyes and where they tend to look first. We can then make sure the important information such as menu and calls to action are placed within these areas.

There are other factors to consider, such as how search engines will rank your web pages from the content and keywords on the page. The headings and where they are placed will influence which keywords search engines will prioritise and rank your page for.

These are the stages a designer will go through when developing your new website:

Research
  • Competitors.
  • Keywords (software is available to help with this).
  • What makes your business unique in your market?
  • Visitor analysis if you have an existing website (use Google Analytics, if installed).
Site map, navigation and wireframe
  • What do you want to communicate?
  • Plan the navigation and pages needed.
  • Consider content for each page, text and images.
  • It is more efficient to design around your content than fit your content into a design.
  • Create a wireframe for your website.
Copywriting and keywords
  • Identify best performing keywords.
  • Include keywords in your headers and your content.
  • Break down information into bite sized chunks with sub headings.
  • Write a new page for each subject and set of keywords.
  • Select suitable images to complement and break up large areas of text.
Engage and convert
  • What are your main messages?
  • What do you do, how do you do it?
  • Required call to action: sign up, telephone call, gather information or email?
  • Testimonials, reviews or case studies to back up your content.
Search Engine Optimisation
  • Build your site to the latest web standards.
  • Develop the site to ensure search engines can crawl all of your pages.
  • Check for errors and site issues before going live.
  • Continuous research and improvements to pages and content.
  • Measure and monitor keywords and site rankings.
Your input is valuable at every stage to of the design process. Whether you decide to write the content yourself and supply images or hire a copywriter and photographer, you should always have the final approval on how your business is presented on the World Wide Web.

Mark Langston
Type the above phrase into a Google search bar and take a look at some of the posts on the page.
Most of these posts have been written by WordPress developers advising ways of getting around some of the issues that are inherent in WordPress, such as:
  • Security
  • Poor quality plugins
  • Software updates causing problems
  • Server needing constant surveillance
  • SEO limitations
  • Content management difficulties
There are advantages of using a WordPress theme. You get an off the shelf design that is “mobile ready” which can save time and money.

You may have to compromise on quality and your content will have to fit into the design theme that has been selected, but if you are on a tight budget, then this solution may suit you. Design themes can be sourced from a variety of providers; some are free but most have to be purchased.

Design theme costs
Most themes are governed by a licence fee and, depending on the provider there will be a one off payment or monthly cost for the use of the theme. One source of themes is Envatomarket’s Themeforest. They offer two licence options (taken from their website):
  1. Regular licence (typically $59) - Use, by you or one client, in a single end product which end users are not charged for
  2. Extended licence (typically $2,950) - Use, by you or one client, in a single end product which end users can be charged for
If the end product, including the theme, is going to be free to the end user then a Regular License is what you need. An Extended License is required if the end user must pay to use the end product.

These themes take a considerable amount of time to develop and design, so agencies using these themes will have to pay to use them and will pass those costs on to their fee paying clients.

You may want to check with your developers how this cost is being passed on and that the theme they are using to build your website has been licensed for you.

Custom design and build or WordPress theme?
There are some initial questions you need to ask to help you decide which route to take:
  1. Do you want a design and custom built functionality that is unique to your business? Do you want your developers to understand your business and its requirements and design a website that is built around your content? Then you will want a custom design and build
  2. Are you happy to select a design theme that you can insert your content into? Do you mind if your website looks similar to a lot of other websites? Then a design theme may save some time and cost, depending on how much the licence fee is
At Crystal Thought, our preference is to build custom websites after meeting you to find out about your business, target audience and competitors. This way, you get a unique site that will meet the challenges of your business that also has the ability to grow as your business develops.

However, we understand there are times when a design theme will work well for a business and with this in mind we have developed a selection of design themes customers can choose from. The advantage of developing our own themes are as follows:
  • Wordpress-problemsBetter security
  • Intuitive content management system
  • More stable and better build quality
  • Better control of the hosting and server maintenance
  • Mobile optimised
  • Improved SEO
  • No license fees
Call us to discuss your preferred option.

Mark Langston

 

19th August 2015
Improving the ranking (position on search engines) of our clients’ websites is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

Scoring_a_goalWatching a site gradually move up the rankings and receiving positive feedback about increased numbers of visitors and conversions is a bit like managing your child’s football team to help them win the local league. It’s not always plain sailing, progress can stall and it can take time to achieve results depending on the skills of your competitors and where you are currently ranked. However, perseverance pays off and over time the results start to come.

We would not be able to effectively improve our clients’ websites without software to provide the information and tools needed to manage this process, for example:
  • Website audit
  • Keyword research
  • Web page optimisation
  • Quality link building
  • Social media influence
  • Result checking and reports
  • Competitor information
  • Website analytics

We use industry standard software to carry out all of these tasks and keep us up to date with the latest search engine changes.

SEO_software_ranking_changes_charts

It takes a combination of skills to effectively carry out the work:
  1. Developers (technical changes)
  2. Marketers (research, copy writing and analysis)
  3. Designers (design and user interface)

The first stage is to generate an audit report using the software. We can then generate another report that will show the page ranking on Google for the current keywords and how many searches have been made on those keywords in the past month. From these reports, we can determine what work is needed to make site improvements.

For a free review, call me to discuss what you want to achieve.

Mark Langston

 
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