25th October 2019
Business start-ups and small local enterprises with a few employees can find it daunting when they come to think about building and maintaining a website.

Today, most businesses whether they are a local builder, hairdresser or insurance broker need a presence on the web. Your customers are all searching online and even if they find you through a referral or press advert, they will want to check out your website to find more information before making contact.

A website gives your business credibility by providing additional information about your business. What you do, how you do it and where you are. Additional proof of the quality of your services or products is provided through images and testimonials on your web pages.

Small-Business-Website-Design

Domain names, hosting, HTML, website builders, content management

These are words you will be hearing regularly when you start looking into getting a website built.

You can write the content, take the photographs and even build it yourself these days if you have the time to get to grips with what is needed to develop a presentable website. The risk is, you will end up with a website that does not work properly, cannot be found on local searches and turns visitors off instead of converting. If you decide to do it yourself, these are some of the elements you will need to get right.

Developing websites for small business

Because your competitors will already have well-established websites, you need to make a good first impression when you launch. Your website must have a great visual impact and contain well-written content that helps to sell your products or services and gets you found on local searches.
 

Design
A well-designed website with intuitive navigation will give your site a unique presence on the web. Web designers have to keep up with the latest trends in design and technology to provide a website that will convert visitors and perform well on search rankings so you will have to do some research on your competitors and other websites that you consider have good design and perform well.

Website copywriting
Google search algorithms reward websites that are well written, have good grammar and spelling and are easy to read and understand. Search engines and your readers will value content that quickly explains what you do and how you do it. Highlighting the features and benefits of your services will make it easier for them to choose you over your competitors. Duplicate content, thin or low-quality content will put you at a disadvantage in the search rankings.

Before you start writing content, you need to know the keywords your target audience will be using to search for your product or service. You can use Google’s keyword tool or a proprietary software platform to find out how many searches are being made on your keywords and then include them in your content.

Our_Work

Photography
There are many stock image libraries where you can buy images and some of these are free. However, if you can take your own photographs of premises, work you have done for clients or products, they will often have a greater impact than generic stock images.

If you do take your own pictures, they will need to be high quality, fit the layout of your web page and be relevant to the content. Images taken from a mobile phone or camera will give you a large jpeg file that will need to be compressed so it does not slow the web page down.

Web development
The technical quality of a website helps it to rank in searches.  Broken links, large images (uncompressed) that make a web page slow to load and pages that cannot be crawled will all affect your local page rankings on search engines. Speed is a big ranking factor especially on mobile phones and your visitors will not thank you for making them wait while your page loads.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is a huge subject that has been covered in some of our other blog articles. The same principles apply whether you are a local or global enterprise, the better the quality of your content, the better your website will rank on search engines. You also need to continue to add content and keep your content up to date. The best way to do this is with a blog. Writing articles about your business sector and informational pieces about your products or services will add new content to your site and help improve search rankings. To read all our articles covering Search Engine Optimisation, click on the SEO tag below.

Online marketing
Once your website is complete, you will need to have a marketing strategy that will drive traffic to your website. It does not have to be expensive. As a small business, you will probably be working with a limited budget to spend on advertising. Social media pages are free to set up and post on except for your time. Email marketing can be a very cost-effective way of keeping in touch with customers and informing them of new developments in your business and there are plenty of free email platforms you can use to design and send multiple emails.

Google My Business
To help get your business listed on local searches you need to register with Google My Business. You can add information about your opening hours, location map, business profile and relevant images together with a link to your website.

Website prices
You may prefer to leave the website build to a professional web developer and supply the content yourself which is a good balance of resources. The cost of developing simple brochure/information style websites has come down over the last few years as template designs and content management tools have improved. The process can be quick and cost-effective if you can gather all the information you need for your web pages.

One of our recent articles covers all you need to know about working with a web designer to get your website built, click on the website design tag below to read all of our website design articles.
 
Woman-looking-at-a-website-on-computerYou may think that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about search engines finding your website when a user searches in their browser. However, by optimising your website for search engines you will also be improving user experience and information for your website visitors at the same time.

Google is constantly striving to mimic human behaviour and is continuously refining its search algorithms to provide the best search experience; therefore, providing quality information to your readers is also going to help improve your search rankings.

Other important factors that Google and your customers will appreciate include faster page loading times, quality content and relevant images.

Technically, your website needs to be perfect, meeting industry standards such as w3c, have no errors and include a site map.

Let’s look at each of these and how to improve them for users and Google.

1.Page loading speed
Videos and images are the worst culprits for slowing a page down. How many times have you landed on a webpage and been frustrated while you wait for the page to load? This is even more noticeable when using a smartphone.

Images should be good quality and high resolution; however, image sizes should be reduced and compressed so they load quickly on the page.

2.Copywriting for SEO
Writing good quality content means keeping copywriting simple, easy to read, interesting and relevant to your readers.

Google ranks copy that is easy to understand and flows naturally. If your readers have to re-read a sentence to understand what it means, Google will have the same problem and rank you down for it.

Write for your readers first, then optimise your article for all the relevant keywords and include the most important one in the title. Breaking your content into sub headings and adding more keywords throughout your article will help Google understand what the article is about and help readers searching for specific content.

3.Quality optimised images
Providing images to back up your copy helps to break up long content, explains complicated subjects using infographics and provides additional information to Google.

Naming your image is important and titles, filenames and captions should be relevant to the copy that goes next to the image. Include alt text to describe your image; alt text is used by non-sighted users with browser interpreters and search engines to help understand what your image is about.

4.Technical optimisation
We have mentioned site speed and it is worth mentioning again because it is one of the most important ranking markers used by Google, especially as more and more users access the web on their mobile phones.

Constant checking for broken links, optimising pages for ranking keywords and making sure errors are fixed will help to keep your pages ranking on Google search.

Continuous improvement of your content and making sure all your information is kept up to date will tell your visitors and Google that your site contains the latest information and is constantly evolving.

Adding information with blog articles is an ideal way to continuously add new content to your site and inform users about your products and services.

Organising your articles into subjects and including the keywords you want to be found for will improve your rankings for that set of keywords.

If you want to increase the number of visitors to your website and find out which keywords your customers are using to find you, call 01584 890725 and ask for Mark to arrange a free audit of your website.
 
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.
 
Successful content marketing relies on developing a strategy that is tailored to your own individual business requirements. The strategy you adopt will depend on the most effective media that reaches your customer base.

Content marketing covers a wide range of media, from writing articles for your blog, email newsletters and posting to social media. Other methods include:
  • Case studies and white papers
  • Webinars and videos
  • Press articles
  • Printed materials
Your content marketing strategy needs to be planned to achieve specific measurable goals. For example, one of our clients provides commercial insurance to businesses and their aim is to use content marketing to build brand awareness, establish themselves as experts in their field, improve customer retention, and generate leads.

Their strategy includes producing regular articles covering detailed information about insurance services that businesses may need to protect themselves from financial risk.

Well written, informative articles with unique content posted on their website and shared on social media, together with a regular newsletter to clients, provides a number of benefits for them:
Article_writing
  • Informs existing clients of other insurance products available
  • Communicates their industry knowledge and expertise
  • Earns customer trust
  • Creates content for social media sites and newsletter
  • Provides effective Search Engine Optimisation to improve their website rankings

Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
One of the key benefits of adding content to your website via a blog is SEO. Search engines such as Google regularly update the way they rank websites and deliver search results. Consistently, the most important factor that affects a website’s ranking is the visible content on the site.

Regularly adding relevant content to your website, either by adding pages or writing blog articles, enables the search engines to rank your site against your competitors.

What makes content relevant?
Content is more relevant if the subject you are writing about is being searched for by your customers. For example, if you write an article on “videotapes” you will attract fewer searches than for “Blu Ray DVDs” because videotapes are now obsolete. Therefore, before you start your article, you will need to do some keyword research to ensure you are writing for your target audience.

I find it useful to have a list of relevant keywords at the top of my page when writing an article to make sure the most searched for keywords are included in the article. I use SEO software to help with this research. This applies to any content added to your website.

If you need help with keywords or writing articles for your website, give me a call.

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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