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Website Mistakes Businesses Often Make

Website Mistakes Businesses Often Make

What makes a great website? A lot of business owners are at a loss when it comes to what their website should be to best serve their business and their customers. And web designers sometimes have their own ideas about what’s most important, which don’t always best serve their clients.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common mistakes that business owners make when designing their website, and what you can do to correct them if you’ve made them yourself.

Forgetting about SEO

Before you begin thinking about the design elements of your website, you need to start with a solid foundation. SEO is the bedrock of any well-designed website, but a lot of business owners tend to skip over the critical steps of keyword research and solid SEO strategy.

If you’ve raced past keyword research, you’re doing a huge disservice to yourself and your prospects. When you don’t know what search terms people are using to find solutions that line up with your business’s offerings, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with valuable prospects. When they’re not able to discover your company, you’re not able to make revenue from them.

If you’ve never undertaken proper keyword research, check out this guide for a step by step approach.

Focusing on Style Over Substance

Everyone wants to build a spiffy-looking website. And it’s true that a website’s look does matter to a certain extent, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus.

Your business offers great solutions and a lot of knowledge to your customers and prospects—you want to be sure that message comes across loud and clear on your website.

The first step to focusing on substance is making sure you have a clearly defined value proposition, and that it’s displayed front and center on your landing pages. If prospects come to your site and are greeted by beautiful visuals but no clear description of what you do, they’ll quickly move on to one of your competitors.

The next step is thinking about storytelling as the driving force for your web copy and layout. When you let storytelling guide your web design, you ensure that you’re addressing the needs of your customers and laying information out in a way that guides the customer journey.

Hiding Your Contact Information

Have you ever been to a website, decided that the business offers a great solution for you, and then had to spend five minutes searching page after page for a simple way to get in touch? It’s a frustrating feeling!

Whatever you do, don’t hide your contact information! Make sure your phone number, address, and email are clearly displayed on each page. Consider incorporating a chat element into your site. Make getting in touch with you a completely seamless process. When a prospect wants to do business with you and give you their money, make it easy for them to do so!

Taking a “One Size Fits All” Approach

Through the power of marketing automation, you’re able to customize landing pages for each visitor. You can ensure you’re greeting prospects and customers with information that’s most relevant to them, based on prior interactions they’ve had with your brand.

A huge part of user experience is making your prospects feel special. People want to feel seen and understood by brands from their very first interaction through to the repeat and refer stages of the marketing hourglass, so being able to provide visitors with relevant, tailored information from the start is a way to make a great first impression and start building trust right away.

Ignoring Trust-Building Elements

Trust is hugely important to building a lasting relationship with customers. If you don’t win a prospect’s trust early in the game, they will never convert. And if you do something that makes a customer question your trustworthiness, they will not come to do business with you again or refer you to their friends.

There are some quick fixes you can take to make sure your site is set up to build trust from the second a visitor lands on your page. Having a website with an HTTPS certificate is the first step. HTTPS encrypts any information you’re gathering on your website, so if you’re asking visitors for their personal information or are collecting payments on your site, you have to make them feel confident their information will be kept safe.

Chrome is now alerting users when the site they’re visiting is has not migrated to HTTPS, so your site is being labeled with “not secure” in the URL bar if you haven’t made the switch.

Including badges for SSL is also an important trust-building step. Research has shown that people are more likely to trust and do business with sites that display trust badges.

When you’re designing your website, it can be easy to get caught up in focusing on the wrong elements. Making a pretty site is not the same as building a solid one, but if you don’t know what makes a truly great site then it’s easy to miss the mark. Knowing these mistakes that business owners often make allows you to identify the issues you see in your own site, and pivot to build a stronger site that empowers you to outpace the competition.

Why Your Site Must Have an HTTPS Certificate (And How to Get One)

Why Your Site Must Switch to HTTPS (And How to Do It)

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on HTTPS

Every website in the world is carried across a protocol known as HTTP. Recently, though, we’ve seen more and more websites switching over to HTTPS, which is the secure version of that same protocol.

A site that is carried on HTTPS is encrypted, meaning that all of the data and information on the site itself is protected from hackers. Not only that, but the sensitive information that you gather from prospects and customers—whether that’s their email or credit card information—is encrypted, too.

Why Should I Switch?

Every website owner should be migrating their site to HTTPS. Google has put incredible emphasis on ensuring that sites are secure. They recently made updates to their Chrome browser so that HTTPS sites appear with a lock symbol in the browser bar. Those that are just HTTP display the words “Not secure” in red next to the site’s URL. Having warning text associated with your website does not make a great first impression on visitors.

Not only that, Google is making HTTPS a ranking factor, so if you want to ensure that your site is well positioned in Google results (and you do), then you need to be thinking about securing an HTTPS certificate.

Even if you don’t collect any customer data through forms, your site is still vulnerable. Every time someone visits your website, there is a transfer of information between their computer and your site. If your information is not encrypted, it’s there for hackers to see and attack on the backend.

How Do I Switch?

Fortunately, it’s really easy to make the switch to an HTTPS site. WordPress offers a number of plugins to make the change, and most web hosts offer HTTPS certificates to their clients (either for a fee or, more often than not, for free as part of their service).

Hosts like Pressable and WPEngine, who work specifically with WordPress sites, offer HTTPS certification to all of their customers.

If you have a particularly old site that’s built in HTML it might be a bit more work to migrate, but there are plenty of consultants who can guide you through the process.

What Happens After I’ve Switched?

Once you’ve made the switch, you’ve essentially created two versions of your site: one that is HTTP and the other that is HTTPS.

Most hosts will automatically eliminate the HTTP version, so that even if someone types your site’s URL into their browser with “http://” as the start of the address, it will convert to the HTTPS version. However, if both the HTTP and HTTPS sites remain active out there, then you’re still leaving some content vulnerable, and you’re also confusing Google, leading them to believe you have two identical sites.

After you’ve gotten your HTTPS certificate, go to your Google Search Console and update your sitemap in order to instruct Google to look only at your HTTPS site moving forward. Within a week of the switch, Google will have moved away from your HTTP site and will only show the HTTPS version in results.

While this is a technical topic, it fortunately doesn’t take a lot of technical expertise to do the right thing and acquire an HTTPS certificate. A quick call to your web host and an update to your Google Search Console is all that’s needed to get your site compliant and ensure that the valuable information you hold about your business and your customers is all secure.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Klaviyo logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer

Tips for Getting Your Audience to Stay on Your Website Longer

You put a lot of time, effort, and money into developing a website for your business. So you want to be sure that it’s capturing people’s attention and giving them the information they need to feel good about doing business with you.

But no one can learn what you’re all about in a second or two. You must hold visitors’ attention long enough for them to learn what they need to learn about your business. And while you can’t control a stranger’s attention span, there are things you can do to encourage your audience to stay on your website longer.

Put Your Value Proposition Front and Center

Prospects are coming to your website because they have a problem. The most important thing for them to learn when your page loads is, “Can this business solve my problem?”

If you make it hard for visitors to determine what you do, they’re going to quickly lose interest. Google turns out thousands upon thousands of search results in an instant. A confused prospect can and will easily find another business who’s clearer about their value proposition and how they can fix the issue at hand.

Your value proposition should be one sentence at the top of your landing page that simply and elegantly highlights what you do. And it should be something that speaks specifically to your ideal customer—it won’t be something that everyone can relate to. For more on how to find your ideal value proposition, check out this post.

Write Better Copy

Part of keeping people engaged is presenting your information in an interesting way. There is a right way and a wrong way to write website copy. Long, jargon-filled paragraphs and wishy-washy headlines are a great way to confuse and alienate your audience.

Stick with short, punchy headlines that clearly demonstrate what a reader can expect to find on any given page. Paragraphs should be no more than four sentences, and those sentences should be concise.

Focusing on how the copy can serve your value proposition and your calls to action on each page can help you to define exactly what you need from your writing.

Create Informative Content

The best way to build trust and keep your audience on your site is to prove that you have the expertise to solve their problem. And the best way to do that is to fill your site with informative content.

Blog posts that provide rich information and actionable steps for readers are a great place to start. Once you’ve created content that’s meaningful for your audience, consider grouping it on hub pages. These pages allow you to centralize information on a given topic, which is helpful for visitors looking for answers, and also boosts your site’s SEO.

Outside of written content, you want to mix things up. Varied content keeps people engaged. Work to incorporate video into your strategy. Think about infographics and other ways, beyond website copy, to present relevant information. People have different learning styles, so creating content in various forms allows you to capture the attention of all your prospects.

Think About Structure

How you structure the information on your website can help to keep your audience around. Think about it from a storytelling perspective. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. For brands, the beginning of your story is your offer to solve a prospect’s problem. The middle is the specifics on how you do it, and the end is the prospect converting to customer.

When you think about it that way, it allows you to get smart about how you structure your website. Your landing page should address the prospect’s problem. Pages below that in the hierarchy should support your initial value proposition, and provide visitors with more specifics about how you can fix their issue. Finally, this leads them to a place where they can make a purchase or speak to your sales team.

Get Smart with Calls to Action

Calls to action are not only a way to keep your audience on your website for longer, they’re a great way to build trust and drive conversions.

Set a goal for each page of your website, and have a corresponding CTA that drives a related conversion. That conversion could be the collection of an email address to add them to a mailing list or to send them a relevant white paper. It could be setting up a call with a sales rep to discuss your product offerings. Or it could be something as simple as sending them to a relevant blog post on your site.

When your calls to action are tailored to the information on each page, then you’re ensuring a higher rate of conversion because the visitor to that page is interested in the topic at hand. The CTA provides you the opportunity to give them the additional information they crave, proving your authority and trustworthiness as a brand. Plus, you’re able to learn more valuable information about your prospects that you can use to greet them with additional tailored offers in the future.

Don’t Forget Technical Elements

While it’s important that you’re providing prospects with the information and elements they need to see on your website, it’s also critical that your site holds up behind the scenes. Things like a quick page load time are critical for keeping your audience on your website. How many times have you sat staring at a blank page for a handful of seconds before clicking back to Google search results to check out the next site down instead? If you’re worried about how your site loads, check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how you stack up.

Having a mobile friendly site is also a must. The majority of searches nowadays happen on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t look good on a phone, that audience will be passing you over quickly.

The longer you can keep your audience on your website, the greater shot you have at winning their trust. When you undertake the steps above, you’re setting your business up to impress visitors and hold their attention, which in turn will have positive results on your conversions and bottom line.

10 Things You Need to Consider About Your Website in 2019

10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on the 10 Things to Consider About Your Website in 2019

You’ve started a business and created your website. But that doesn’t mean your work here is done. Behaviors and trends change, your needs shift, and your website must continue to evolve so that it’s meeting your goals.

The first step is to think about what it is that you really want your website to do. Are you trying to get more readers or subscribers, make more sales, or generate more calls from prospects?

Before you go through the process of updating your site to best serve this newly identified goal, you want to begin by understanding how users currently experience your website. Consider using a tool that tests user experience. Something like Neil Patel’s Crazy Egg allows you to install a code on your website that produces a report of heat maps for each page. These maps show how and where people consume content on your site—where they click or hover, how they scroll, and what they’re really trying to do on each page.

Once you understand the basics of what you want accomplish and how your users want to interact with your site, you can go about planning and designing a website that serves both of your needs. The following ten tips will help guide you through the process.

1. Kill the Sliders

Carousels and sliders became incredibly trendy in web design over the last few years. They may look pretty, but the thing is: They’re bad user experience.

Web designers may push for them because of their ubiquity, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best way to showcase what your business does. Even if the web design expert recommends it, do not fall into the slider trap!

2. Start With a Promise to Solve a Problem

Customers aren’t looking for a product or service, they’re looking for a solution. What is it that you’re solving, and how are you doing it?

The problem you’re solving represents the starting point of any customer’s journey. They didn’t come to your website for a casual scroll through all of your products and services, they want to know—from the second they land on your site—that you understand their issue and have the means to solve it.

3. Bring Whitespace Back

Like any fashion, web design trends come and go. Your website can certainly look dated if there are stylistic elements that were popular in the past decade but are less so today.

The thing is, websites aren’t just about looks. They should be more able usability. What allows a visitor to consume content and move through the journey you want them to have in the easiest manner?

The answer is whitespace. Several years ago, the trend was to cram everything above the fold. Now, long-form scrolling homepages are very popular, and it’s because users don’t want to click anymore. They want to scroll through a journey and find all of the relevant information on one page.

When I talk about whitespace, it’s not a matter of having big blocks of it. It’s more about creating room for your content to breathe. Adding space between the lines of scrolling information allows you to draw more focus to the most important elements and information on your site.

4. Provide Fewer Choices

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. What is the intent for your business and your site? What do you want people to do?

Find your core difference and how it speaks to your ideal client, and go from there. Plus, you’ll want to understand how to feature the products and services that not only speak to this audience, but are also most profitable and provide the greatest opportunity for your business.

Creating a site that is vague and broad only wears people out and turns them off to the value of your offerings.

5. Put Strong Calls to Action in a Number of Places

While you’re not trying to be everything to everyone, you can also vary your calls to action slightly within the framework of your well-defined value proposition.

These calls to action should be specific, and you should be touting their value. Generic calls to action like “sign up for updates” don’t cut it anymore. What is an update, anyway, and why do your customers need it?

Focus instead on calls to action with concrete benefits. “Get a free quote” or “Get a free report on XYZ” are offers that can have real value for prospects. And if the call to action doesn’t speak for itself, put some text around it that emphasizes its value.

You can and should have three or four different calls to action. Some people are just looking to contact you, so a “call us today” call to action is right for them. But you also want to have calls to action that allow those looking for a deeper dive into your information the opportunity to learn more.

6. Build More Landing Pages

Landing pages are not necessarily built to rank for a key phrase. But they should be built for each of your ads, locations, products and services, so that you can drive people to things that have a specific intent or need.

When people are greeted with specific, relevant information when they land on your site, they’re more likely to trust you and want to learn more.

7. Create Hub Pages

We’ve been talking about the importance of creating content for many years, and some of you have taken that message to heart. But more often than not, the content is created, distributed on your blog, and then mostly forgotten about.

In order to put all of this content to work for you, it’s time to start internally linking the content you’ve written over the years. And to take it a step further: Start creating hub pages that are centered around your most important and relevant themes.

Not only does this create more value for your audience, who can then find all relevant information in one place, it also makes Google’s search rankings happy, providing you with significant SEO value.

8. Consider Mobile First

For most businesses 70 to 80 percent of views of your site are on a mobile device. If you want to see where your business falls, go into your analytics and check the device report. That will tell you how people are viewing your site.

If most of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, doesn’t it stand to reason that your website should be optimized to create the best experience on mobile? Designers sometimes lose sight of the focus on mobile—they work on desktops with giant screens, but that’s not the way the majority of people are consuming your site. Be sure to remind your designers not to forget about how to best serve your prospects and customers with your site’s design.

9. Assess Load Speed for Pages

How quickly your site loads is a significant ranking factor for Google. Not only that, but slow-loading sites are irritating for your users and create a bad first impression.

If you’re not sure where your site stands, check out the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will provide information on how your site loads on both mobile and desktop devices. If you’re not getting a green rating for both, speak with a programmer who can get your speeds up to where you want them to be.

Often the source of the problem is a technical issue that can easily be fixed by a professional.

10. Address Security Concerns

People are becoming increasingly worried about security these days. If you do not have HTTPS in front of your URL, you’re immediately eroding trust in your brand. An HTTPS certificate ensures that your site and the data you collect there are being properly encrypted and are protected from hackers.

All websites should have an HTTPS certificate, but this is particularly important if you’re collecting sensitive information from visitors, like their contact information or credit card numbers.

Google is now informing anyone on a Chrome browser whether the site they’re visiting is secure or not, and your rankings in Google search are being affected if you don’t have that certificate. Plus, when the first thing visitors to your site see is “Not secure” in the browser window, it doesn’t make for a great first impression.

Fortunately, most web hosting platforms are now including HTTPS certificates with their hosting services. If yours is a WordPress site, Pressable is a great hosting option. Investing a bit more in a high quality web host is worth it in the long run.

If you want to get better results from your website in 2019, it’s time to start thinking about these ten factors.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Klaviyo logo

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It)

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. So it stands to reason that it should be built with marketing, rather than aesthetics, in mind. Yes, there is something to be said for having an appealing website, and you should certainly aim to design one that has both form and function. But the mistake that a lot of small business owners make is focusing on form exclusively, and that is where they miss a major opportunity.

Your website can be the most beautiful one in the world, but if you don’t focus on its function, then it’s all for naught. If you want to build a successful website, you need to start with a solid SEO framework to build a site that is easy to find and works seamlessly with your other online marketing efforts.

Why SEO Matters

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what gets new prospects onto your site. If someone does a Google search looking to solve a problem that they have, and your business is capable of solving that problem, you want your website to be the first one that they see. Think about your own browsing habits: How often do you look at the second, third, or fourth page search results on Google? If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of results, you’re not being seen by the majority of people.

Start with Keyword Research

Ensuring high rankings on search results is why it’s critical to begin the website design process with keyword research. Start by brainstorming the terms you would search for if you were looking for the good or service your business provides. This can and should be a long list—write everything down and don’t self-edit. Google Search Console can also help you identify the terms that are already driving users to your site, which might help you reframe your own thinking on the list.

Then begin to winnow the list down to 12-20 terms; some that speak to the fundamentals of your business and some that speak to a specific intent a user might have when searching. These keywords will inform all of your website design choices from here on out.

Think Like a Search Engine

The way that a human sees your site is very different from the way Google sees it as it crawls through sites looking for information relevant to a given search. You want to make sure that as much of your content as possible is in HTML text format. Images, Flash content, and Javascript are often not seen by search engines as they’re crawling sites, so if all of the important information about what your business does is displayed on your page within these dynamic formats, it’s possible that Google is skipping right past your website when looking for relevant words or phrases.

Using a tool like Google Cache Checker will allow you to see what your website looks like to Google. If your pages are showing up mostly blank, you know that search engines are missing out on crawling the majority of your content, so you’ll want to restructure your site to be more HTML heavy.

Consider Website Structure

In addition to thinking about the way a search engine will see your site, you want to make sure you’re building a structure that makes sense for SEO and for visitors.

Creating a site map can be a helpful way to think about content and flow. What information do you want to group together? What is the logical path that visitors will take when navigating your site? How can you make it easy for users to get from one relevant piece of information to another? And how can you structure your website in a way that enriches the customer journey and encourages users to move down the marketing hourglass?

Once you’ve thought about the user experience aspect of your site, it’s time to think about structure from an SEO perspective. Creating a site with crawlable link structure is critical to making sure that all of your content is seen by search engines. There are a number of reasons why your links might not be crawlable, including if they’re for pages that are hidden behind submission forms, if the links are within the aforementioned Java content that search engines aren’t able to see, or if there are hundreds of links on a given site (search engines will only go through so many links before hitting a limit).

Create Rich Content

Of course, this effort you’ve put into creating a site that’s easy to find, functional, and appealing will all be useless if your site has sub-par content.

As I’ve said before, the goal of this content should be to establish your business as a leading authority in your field. This valuable content will serve you across the board. It makes prospects come to trust you and moves them to the try and buy portions of the marketing hourglass. When you continue to generate new, rich content, it drives existing customers back to your site for more information, keeps you top of mind with those customers, and makes them more likely to repeat and refer.

Not only that, but when your website is filled with valuable content, and you continue to add more on a regular basis, you generate a stream of information that you can use to drive users to your site. You should be housing all of your content—blog posts, webinars, case studies, podcasts, white papers, and infographics—on your website. Then, as you share links to all of this valuable content on social media or via your newsletter, you’re directing all traffic back to your site.

A website, no matter how good it looks, is nothing without a solid approach to SEO. Your website is the most important piece of your online marketing strategy, and so investing the time, energy, and money in creating a site that ticks all of the boxes for form and function is a worthwhile endeavor.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

Four Tips for Creating a Website Users Trust

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new online security breach. From mega-retailers like Target to tech giants like Facebook, online security is a major issue and giant concern for consumers.

Building trust is a critical part of the marketing hourglass for any business, whether they’re a global conglomerate or a mom and pop shop. What can you, as a small business owner, do to build a site that not only engenders trust but also incorporates legitimate security measures? I’ll share some tips below for creating a website that users trust.

1. Looks Matter

This may sound shallow, but the easiest step in creating a website that looks trustworthy is building one that looks appealing. While I’ve written before about the importance of starting with a focus on SEO—a sentiment that I still stand by—there is something to be said for putting eye-catching trappings on top of that solid SEO foundation.

The way your site looks is important because people do judge books by their covers. Think about how you feel when you go to a website that has typos; inadvertently overlapping video, text, and photo elements; or is just plain black text on a white background. It makes you question the business immediately. Is this a legitimate company, or a scam site? Surely a real business would put effort into presenting the best version of themselves online—so why is this site not up to par?

If someone showed up to job interview in a wrinkled t-shirt and ripped jeans, you might think twice about hiring them. Same principle applies in web design: A sloppy-looking site immediately introduces doubt about your business’s legitimacy and competence into your prospect’s mind.

2. Message Matters, Too

Just as important as a clear, consistent visual presence is a clear and consistent message. Part of establishing trust with a prospect is giving them a sense that they really know who you are, what you do, and why you’re driven to do it. These are all of the questions that a good value proposition will answer. That’s why it’s critical that you take the steps to find out what motivates your existing customers to do business with you and hone in on the themes that they indicate are important to them.

Once you’ve established what it is that makes your business unique and have decided how you want to communicate that message, you want to trumpet that messaging everywhere. Your website’s homepage should highlight the value proposition front and center, and then provide visitors with a call to action that encourages them to learn more about your business.

All other online marketing, including paid ads, social media, newsletters, and emails, should be grounded in that value proposition. It is the North Star for all of your messaging.

And it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it. Each business must embrace a tone that makes sense for what they do and who they serve. A local credit union and a children’s bookstore are targeting very different demographics, and so their marketing tones will be very different. While the credit union wants to convey stability and trust, the bookstore is likely aiming for whimsy and adventurousness.

If your business’s tone is all over the map, this again introduces doubt into your prospect’s mind. If you don’t seem to have a clear handle on what your business does, how can a prospect trust you to really step up and solve their problem?

3. Switch to an HTTPS Site

So the first two steps were about putting your customer at ease by creating a site that seems secure. But with that, your work is far from done; you now need to implement tools to build a site that actually is secure. Your first move here should be converting to an HTTPS site.

HTTPS sites are encrypted and protect you from hacking. This is important for you as the business owner, because you can guarantee that all of your business’s information remains secure. It’s also vital for your customers; if you’re going to be asking them to entrust you with their credit card information and personal contact details, they are going to want assurance that you can keep that information safe.

While in the past you may have been able to sneak by with a regular old HTTP site, starting in July of 2018 Chrome began announcing to users when they were visiting unsecured sites. Users now see a red “not secure” label in the URL bar any time they visit an unsecured site, which is a literal red flag that your site is not trustworthy.

And if that isn’t enough incentive for you, unsecured sites are also punished in Google’s search rankings, so an unsecured site might be lowering your standing in organic search results. Switching over to a secured site is a quick fix to maintain your first-page search results standing.

4. Employ Further Site Security Measures

Once you’ve made the switch to an HTTPS site, there are a few additional steps you can and should take to further enhance your site’s security, which is especially critical if you’re collecting payment or other sensitive information online.

Acquiring SSL certification is a good place to start for those running e-commerce sites. SSL sites establish a secure connection for sensitive information to be transmitted. Sites with SSL also display badges to indicate their added security, which research has shown increases conversion rates.

Aside from relying on HTTPS and SSL tech to boost your security behind the scenes, you should be making efforts from your side to ensure that you’re not inadvertently opening your site up to vulnerabilities. We’ve shared about the role that out-of-date WordPress plugins played in the massive data leak at a law firm, which got international press coverage.

When you incorporate plugins from third-party developers, you open your site up to any errors in their plugin code. These developers are good about checking their work and pushing through updates to correct for any potential issues, but if you’re still running the original version of the plugin, it’s possible that you’ve left your site open for hackers to get in through the vulnerabilities there and then move into other elements of your site.

Creating a website users trust is an important part of moving your prospects through the marketing hourglass and converting them to customers. Incorporating security elements is the key to establishing a site you know will guard your customers’ personal information, which will keep them coming back to do business with you time and again.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

How to Build A Website that Generates Leads

How to Build a Website That Generates Leads

In today’s day and age, every business owner knows they must have an online presence to be competitive. But not everyone understands how to optimize that online presence. Your website is the heart of your business’s online existence, so ensuring that it’s designed to maximize lead generation is critical to securing long-term success for your company

How do you create a website that is easily found, catches a prospect’s eye, and keeps them around long enough to decide to give your product or service a try? Let’s take a deeper look at how to build a website that generates leads.

Make it Easy to Find

The obvious first place to start is in designing a site that is easy to find. You’re not going to generate any leads from a site that is in hiding.

The first step here is making sure that your domain name makes sense for your business. If you’re not able to secure your first choice, what are your alternatives? Pick a domain name is memorable, easy to spell, and is something prospects and clients will be able to easily associate with your company.

From there, you’ll want to keep track of how people are finding your site in order to understand which social channels are driving traffic and who’s talking about you online. You can then use that information to be more strategic about where you place your marketing efforts in order to drive traffic to your site.

And you mustn’t forget about SEO in this discussion. If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google results, you’re missing out on catching the eyes of a lot of prospects. Keyword research is a critical part of ensuring that your business is actually being found by people who are in the market for the goods and services you offer.

You’ll also want to undertake an SEO audit of your website to make sure that your current content isn’t hurting your search rankings. Screaming Frog offers services that allow you to check your website’s current SEO status: find broken links and crawl errors, analyze how existing pages rank for SEO terms, check site speed, and more.

Give Visitors a Way to Reach Out

When a visitor comes to your site and they like what they see, you want to be sure that you’re providing them with a clear, easy way to get more information from your business. Getting strategic about where and how you ask for information from prospects can help you to generate even more leads from your existing site.

The first step is to put forms on the pages that get the most traffic. Make sure that these forms ask for as little information as possible and that they auto-populate; bogging prospects down with a million questions is a surefire way to scare them off.

You’ll also want to be sure that the forms you create make sense in the context of the other information on a given page. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t put a form offering a free white paper on website design on a page that’s about print work that you’ve done.

You should also provide users with as many ways to contact you as possible. Make your phone number and email address easy to find, and consider incorporating a chat function into your site’s design. No one wants to have to go on a search mission across all of your website just to find a way to ask you a simple question.

Build a Variety of Landing Pages

Creating highly specialized landing pages is one of the keys to generating more promising leads. In fact, research from HubSpot has shown that business with 30 or more landing pages on their website generate seven times more leads than those websites that only have one to five landing pages.

The best landing pages are those that keep it simple. Depending on where the traffic is coming from, you can create a specific messaging that speaks to that particular subset of your prospect population. Make sure that your succinctly outline the problem your business can solve, and that there’s a clear way for prospects to reach out—a call to action button or a simple form—and leave it at that.

Landing pages that are cluttered with too much information or that do not clearly demonstrate your company’s value proposition can leave prospects feeling confused and returning to their Google search to consider one of your competitors. If you’d like to see some examples from a variety of industries, HubSpot has some great ones here.

Create an Eye-Catching Homepage with a Clear CTA

While each of your specific landing pages should have tailored messaging and calls to action, you’ll also want to be sure that your homepage has a general call to action that serves as a catch-all for anyone who might want to learn more about your business.

This CTA shouldn’t be for a specific product or service; after all, this is the page on your website that the general population is most likely to see first, so you don’t want to single out only one of your numerous offerings on this page. Instead, give visitors the chance to learn more about your business. A CTA that asks prospects to subscribe to your newsletter or try your service for free are great ways to catch the attention of the widest swath of visitors possible.

Once you get to know these prospects better and have a deeper sense of where their specific interests lie, then you can begin to target them with more specific offers through email marketing and audience segmentation.

Use Content to Generate Leads

Having a website that’s filled with rich, valuable information is what will keep prospects on your site and entice them to come back for more. This means that your website needs to go beyond answering the basic question of how your business can solve a prospect’s problem. It must provide in-depth content on the topic that establishes your business as an authoritative voice in your industry, and provides prospects with the assurance that yours is the team for the job.

Creating valuable content and sharing that content regularly on your site is a critical part of the lead generation process. In order to do so, you need to establish a content strategy. I have advocated in the past for a strategy that organizes your content thematically. If you pick a different area of interest each month and offer a deep dive into related topics on your blog, you’re creating value for your prospects and continuing to offer interesting content regularly that will keep them coming back.

Once your blog has become a go-to source of information for your prospects, you can target them with offers for related white papers or your newsletter that’s dedicated to a relevant topic. This helps to move these prospects further down the marketing hourglass, as you begin to establish your brand as one that they know, like, and trust.

A poorly designed website will do nothing to generate leads for your business. When you begin to think strategically about all of the elements of your website—from SEO and keyword search to blog content and calls to action—you can build a website that is fully optimized to generate leads for your business.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

build trust

How to Build Trust With Your Audience

In my content, I often refer to the customer journey, or what I like to call The Marketing Hourglass, which includes the following stages: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer.

All of these stages are important for moving customers closer to the sale (and beyond), but today I really want to focus on the Trust component of the journey as there are so many businesses who are lacking in this area.

The fact of the matter is, we’ll buy products we like, but we’ll rarely commit to an organization unless we trust them.

There are a ton of simple things a company can do to build this trust, they just aren’t always aware of what those things are, so let’s cover a few here.

Know your audience

I sure hope you’re not getting sick of me talking about this topic because I’m not going to stop any time soon. The best way to gain a person’s trust is to show you truly understand who they are and what it is that they’re experiencing. In order to best alleviate their problems and concerns with your expertise, you need to do your research to uncover who they are.

A few ways to get to know your audience include:

  • Reading past emails with customers and identify trends
  • Talk to your sales and support teams who have the greatest insight into what your customers are going through
  • Read reviews
  • Be observant on social media platforms and forums
  • Interview current customers

The more research you do, the better off you’ll be. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

Create content

Creating content shouldn’t come as a shock as content should be at the core of everything you do when it comes to marketing and attracting people to your business. To build trust with content, you must be helpful, educational, and consistent. You want people to be able to depend on you for the information they’re looking for.

Get a solid understanding of their pain points and write content that addresses those problems. Understand what your audience’s intent is and speak to it.

The one thing I want to stress is that you don’t want to sell using content in the trust phase. This is not the time for that. This is the phase where they are simply trying to get to know you and are doing their research to ensure you’d be the right choice. Selling during this phase won’t work because they often simply aren’t ready to buy. It could actually turn many people away.

When it comes to actually creating your content, whether it’s written, a video, a podcast, or any other format you’re focusing on, be conversational and personal. Your audience wants to read/see/hear something they can relate to. Develop the content as though you’re creating it for a single person. It will help you personalize it even more than if you were writing for a group of people.

Other writing tips to keep in mind include:

  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short (and video for that matter) so that people will actually consume the content.
  • Use rhetorical questions to make them feel like they are a part of the conversation.
  • When possible, avoid industry jargon.

Last, but certainly not least, use your content to tell a story. Storytelling will help you connect with your audience and show them the human side of your business. The ability to tell a person why your business does what it does through a story and how you illustrate it for their benefit is key.

Keep in mind, your audience needs to see themselves in the story which starts with their challenges, problems, and issues that they don’t know how to solve.

Use your website

To build trust, your website must make a good first impression, and to do so, be sure it includes the following:

  • A promise –  You need to make your audience a promise that will solve their problems.
  • A sub-promise – A sub promise is the trust factor and social proof that a company offers.
  • A clear call to action (CTA) – CTAs help to guide people through the customer journey and advise them on next steps.
  • Contact information – Consider using a little personality as well to make your audience want to contact you even more!
  • Visual branding – Integration of strategy, messaging, positioning, and brand is important is so important for a business to build trust.
  • Video – Video allows you to give people a real sense of who you are, what you stand for, and let people hear your story.
  • A list of problems – Identify the problems you solve and make it easy for website visitors to see them.
  • Show trust, proof, and authoritative elements, including quotes, client logos, association badges, client results, case studies, media recognition, and awards. These really are like currency in the trust phase.
  • Updated content – Show that you care about your own business and publish new content regularly.
  • Optimize for mobile – This should be a top priority of yours for a number of reasons, including trust building.
  • Show your personality – This will help to establish an emotional connection with your audience which will make them more likely to trust you.

Establish relationships

As mentioned above, the more you are able to establish relationships with your audience, the more likely they’ll be to trust you. A few tips to do this include:

  • Be empathetic and show that you care
  • Be responsive
  • Be genuinely interested in what they have to say
  • Be yourself
  • Be transparent
  • Ensure the communication you have with your audience is a clear two-way street

Bottom line? Be human.

General tips for building authority and credibility

In addition to my points above, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when establishing trust that I’ve listed below:

  • Build up your online reviews and testimonials. Work to improve them not only on your website, Google My Business listings, and social media but also on relevant industry sites (Houzz for interior decorator reviews, for example).
  • Know your unique point of difference. Show what separates you from the competition and make it clear for anybody who comes in contact with your business.
  • Understand your brand identity. Along with understanding your point of difference, you need to know your company’s voice and personality. This will help to humanize your business and establish those connections.
  • Go above and beyond.  Under promise and over deliver and don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Be predictable. If you were watching my content creation like a hawk, you’d know that I publish a post on Duct Tape Marketing every Tuesday, a post on the Duct Marketing Consultant Network site every Wednesday, a podcast episode every Wednesday or Thursday, a Consultant Tools post every Friday, and a Weekend Favs post every Saturday. Why? Because at this point people expect it. They trust I will give them useful content throughout the week which holds me accountable to give it to them. Remember, you want people to depend on you for the information they need, so you need to do your best to give it to them.

At the end of the day, in order to get people closer to the purchase, you need to get them to trust you, so do everything you can to help them do just that.

What trust-building tactics are you implementing that have worked for your business?

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO. For more on website design, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

mobile marketing campaign

How to Create A Mobile Website That Gets Found By Google

Here’s the thing, as a society, we’re constantly on the go and Google has adapted to this sort of lifestyle. Because of this, in order for your website to succeed to it’s fullest capacity today, it needs to work well on mobile devices.

Just because it’s ranking well on a desktop does not mean the same results will translate over to search results on your phone. It has never been more important for you to have a mobile-friendly website.

There are a plethora of additional factors you need to keep in mind when it comes to mobile optimization that I’m not going to include in this post, but in order to get started, you need to lay the foundation of the website, which I plan to help do for you with the information below.

The three options for mobile website configuration

When it comes to getting found by Google on mobile devices, there are really only three ways to set up your site for mobile. I should warn you, I’ve listed the three below in the order of the one I least recommend to most recommend, so be sure to keep reading to find out my top recommendation.

Separate URLs

With this configuration, you have the desktop version of your site as well as a mobile version of your site. Your site will detect the type of device a user is using and will direct them to the best URL for that device.

The thing is, this type of setup is rather time intensive and difficult to manage for numerous reasons, one of them being that these mobile websites have a lot of SEO issues (which kind of defeats the purposes of trying to build a site that will get found by Google).

Dynamic Serving

With this setup, all of your content is on the same URL, but every user sees different code depending on the device they’re using. This is better than the option above, but it’s not without its own problems (for example, it often mixes up the two versions). Plus, as we all know, technology is always changing, and if a new device gets invented, guess what? You’ll need to create content for that new device.

Responsive design

Ding, ding, ding! Here’s is the one I recommend you go with. With this configuration, your page’s content and layout respond to each user depending on their device (without the need to separate URLs or use different code). This is definitely best practice these days.

Plus, it’s SEO friendly (Google even recommends this method), so if for no other reason, I’d say go this route for that alone.

Mobile landing page best practices

At the end of the day, the goals of your marketing efforts are likely to get people to convert, so you must ensure your landing pages are as efficient as possible to do just that. Keep the following in mind when you put them together:

  • Make them responsive (hopefully, you paid attention to the last section of the post)
  • Avoid adding images with large file sizes as this will impact load time (more information on the importance of site speed below)
  • Add your call to action above the fold – In fact, include the majority of the important information near the top of the page as well.
  • Get to the point. Make it clear what problems you’re solving and what your visitor will get in return.
  • Keep PDF formatting in mind. If you have somebody download, say, a content upgrade, like a guide that’s in a PDF format, remember, those don’t always format well on phones. Consider including mobile-appropriate formats instead.
  • Make buttons “thumb friendly” – Don’t make them too small or out of place; your thumb needs to be able to navigate the screen.

Why speed matters

Site speed has historically been a ranking factor for search engine results pages, but it’s moving closer and closer towards the spotlight. At the end of the day, Google wants to provide users with the best experience possible, and let’s face it, nothing is more annoying than when a site loads slowly.

Not to scare you, but Google actually recommends that your mobile site loads under a second. This is definitely easier said than done, but it’s a good goal to strive for.

I’d recommend checking out Google PageSpeed Insights to see how quickly your site loads on mobile devices. It will also give you recommendations on what to change to help your site load more smoothly.

Some of the recommendations may include:

  • Compress your images – reducing file size can help speed up load times
  • Cache your site
  • Load above the fold content first
  • Cut down on redirects

To make sure everything is functioning properly, it’s important to implement Google Analytics on your site so that you can track performance. Wherever you see any shortcomings, be sure to address them promptly.

As you can see, the good news is that as intimidating as it may sound, it really isn’t that difficult to create a mobile website these days. The hard part is simply getting started.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to check in throughout the rest of the month as I’ll be writing more about the topic of mobile optimization, including mobile content, mobile campaigns, and mobile email. Stay tuned!

Need more mobile marketing tips? Check out our entire Guide to Mobile Marketing. For more on website design, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

why websites fail

Why the Majority of Websites Fail

Gone are the days where businesses can rely solely on “pretty” websites. In today’s digital marketing landscape, a website must be an optimized, revenue-generating platform.

I’ll just get right to it: The reason so many websites fail is because businesses take a design-driven approach from the beginning as opposed to developing a website from the ground up with SEO in mind. Without SEO your coding and design efforts will all be for nothing.

A brief look at the web design industry

I hear the same complaint from entrepreneurs time and time again: They’ll get a referral, hire a friend, or search online to find a web designer based on style and price. Sound familiar?

When this happens, more often than not, businesses realize upon site completion that their brand new fancy website isn’t optimized for search. The new site launches and search rankings don’t change at all (some even plummet). But hey, at least the website looks good.

It’s never a fun day when you have to tell an entrepreneur that they likely need a complete site redesign in order to achieve their SEO and business goals.

Because I’ve heard this story so many times, it is now my mission to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-web designer, and I do think first impressions and a good-looking site are important, I just want the web design industry to embrace SEO as well and make it a natural part of the web development process. It’s a win-win for everybody!

Why web design is like building a house

A web designer or design agency are often chosen because of the look of their portfolio. It can be easy to judge a book by its cover when it comes to hiring a designer, as they are digital artists with distinct tastes that either don’t match or do match the direction you’d like to take your brand aesthetically. While web designers are generally very good at their craft, the majority of them are not marketers or SEO consultants.

The issue lies with business owners searching “web design” when looking to hire somebody to do their website, so it’s no wonder a design team would pop up. Rarely do people search “inbound marketing platforms” (which is what they should be typing in) when looking to build their website as the phrase isn’t as commonly used as “web design.”

So, where does the whole “building a house” analogy come into play? If a house were built by an interior designer, it would likely collapse, right? Most people wouldn’t allow an interior designer to build their house, and the same can be said for the website development process. To attract and convert visitors into sales, you need an entirely different skillset than design.

In order to disrupt this traditional way of thinking, web designers need to embrace marketing and SEO, and business owners need to treat the website as a true investment that will help them reach their business goals.

Where content and SEO come in

As we established in the previous sections, when it comes to building a website, looks matter but not nearly as much as the marketing strategy that goes into your website. Your website needs to make a good first impression, but it has to do so much more than that. A good website helps you to sell time and time again. I like to call this the SEO-content balance – SEO brings people to the site, and content converts them.

If a website has a great SEO structure, but terrible content, your process will likely breakdown. The same is true the other way around. If you have great content, but a terrible SEO strategy, people will never see it! You need to have a perfect balance between the two to have optimal success.

Your website’s ranking potential

To be competitive online, you need to invest in a custom website built with SEO in mind as it’s being developed. Your website should not be built with a templated theme (like so many of them are). It should be developed around your business’s needs and marketing goals.

Your website is an investment, not an expense. It takes time, effort, and talent to build it right, but trust me, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, let me reiterate that your website is one of your company’s most important assets. All of your sales, marketing, and advertising efforts lead back to your website (or at least they should), so you need to make sure it’s modern, updated, and functions properly. There’s nothing worse than driving people to your site only for them to be disappointed that the site is clearly dated. It shows you don’t care enough about your company to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

At the end of the day, your website needs to get your phone ringing, not just serve as a piece of eye-candy, so make sure you’re spending the time and money to get it right.

Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services. For more tips on website design, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.