4 Things Your Homepage Needs

There are 4 things your website visitors are looking for when they land on your homepage:

1. SERVICE

Do you provide the service they need?
If they can’t easily find the service they’re after, they will go somewhere else.
Example: If you’re a dentist, somewhere on your homepage needs to list the most popular services you provide (checkups, fillings etc.)

 

2. LOCATION

Are you close to your website visitors location?
You really have no control over this, but if your address/location is not listed

on your homepage, even those who are close to you will probably start looking elsewhere.

 

3. PRICE

Is your price meeting expectations?

The fact is that most businesses don’t list prices on their websites. Your website visitors just want to know how much it will cost them. You don’t even have to be the cheapest!
If you don’t list prices for your services then website visitors will keep browsing until they find a business which does.

 
4. LEGITIMACY
Does your website give your visitors the impression that you are a legitimate business?
Here’s where many (many) businesses/websites fail.
Your website is the first point of contact for most of your new customers. If you can show your website visitors a sense of professionalism through how your information is delivered through your website, you’re well on your way to getting that new client.

6 SEO Fundamentals

Everyone wants their website to be found on Google. As we talked about in our previous article on “Wanting to be found on Google“, there are so many different aspects on SEO and being ranked highly in search results. But what are the basic principals of SEO? Today we will go over 6 SEO fundamentals that you can implement right now and start your SEO journey.
Keep in mind that there are so many different thoughts out there on what to do, and what not to do, so these 6 steps are what we focus on. We can’t guarantee that following these steps will get you on Googles first page, but we can say that following these steps will absolutely help you.

 

 

Writing Your Content

As we went over briefly in our last article, writing good, quality, content is absolutely necessary if you want to be found on Google.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be in blog format, as Google reads all of your website content, but regardless of how it’s displayed, it needs to be good. If you don’t have a blog section to your website (why not?), that’s fine. But your text that you do display has to be so convincing that your visitors want to recognize your efforts

Now, lets say, for example, that you’re a dentist and your sole reason for having a website s to be found online to book more patients and increase profitability. That’s fine, but you still need to be found online. This is where your keywords come in to play.

 

Keywords

Keywords refer to both the words that are used throughout your website that Google picks up, and the words that we type into Google search.
Using the Dentist example above, lets assume your content speaks vaguely on dentistry and it might go far as to say something like “we meet all of your dentistry needs”, but it doesn’t specify what those needs are. You and I might automatically be able to determine that “all of your dentistry needs” mean that you provide everything anyone could ever need from a dentist. However, you need to think of Google like a robot. Robots can’t think like humans. Google would see that text and could determine that your keywords are “dentistry needs” or “meet all of your needs”. Unless someone is typing these keywords into Google search, it’s highly unlikely that your website would be found in its results.

However, if your website has keywords such as “cavity”, “root canal”, and “wisdom teeth” in its content, you have a much higher chance of being added to the search results because people generally search for things like “wisdom teeth pulled in [insert location]” or “where can I get my cavity filled in [insert location]”.
By having the right keywords within your content, Google is more likely to associate your content with the needs of its users.

 

 

Google Search Console (formerly “Webmaster Tools”)

This is a free web application for website owners (or SEO specialists) to use as an aid to help get a website indexed by Google.

This is absolutely something that should be used by all websites who want to be found in Google search results. If you’re not already using this, you need to get started today!

 

 

Sitemap

This can be a contentious issue, as some don’t believe it is necessary to being found on Google, but the fact is that Googles own Webmaster Tools has an option to add a sitemap to help Google “crawl” your site. We are of the opinion that if Google ask for it, we’re going to give it to them.

A sitemap it a generated document on your website that contains all of your links. You might notice that some websites have a link to their sitemap in the footer section of their website.
Submitting a sitemap to Google allows Google to get a picture of what your website looks like (in terms of code etc. – not graphically) and we feel that’s always a good thing.

 

 

Google Crawler (crawlbots)

Basically, as eluded to above, Google is not a person, but a robot. before your website gets to be on Google search, it must first be “crawled” by its “bots”. This is the process of Google reading your website information, making sure it meets its guidelines to be “indexed” (we’ll go over indexing soon), and storing this information to be used later.

 

 

Indexing

This is probably one of the most important aspects of SEO.
Why?
Because if your website hasn’t been indexed by Google, there’s no chance of appearing on its search results.

Essentially, everything you do in the early stages of SEO is simply to try an get indexed on Google.

Now, this is a bit of a tricky beast to tame. The reason for this s because not only can Google change how this happens whenever they like, but some websites get indexed immediately, without following the above steps, while others take weeks (sometimes months) to be indexed. To highlight this, We worked with a client on a website and before we had even started going through the SEO phase, their website could be searched and found on Google. Similarly, another of our clients we completed a website for, and then followed the above sties and it was around 7 – 10 days before their website could be found on Google.

Just know for sure that being indexed by Google is your first aim.

So You Want to be Found on Google?

What even is “SEO”? In short, the term “SEO” is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization.
Think of it like the practice of optimizing your website content so that when people type things into Google your website comes up on their list of results. OK, so it’s actually much more complicated than that, but at its core, that is what people mean when they talk about SEO.

Now that we have put that out there, you probably don’t need to be a genius to realize just how important SEO is (or should be) for your business.

While there are many (many!) aspects to SEO, and we could literally discuss for days about how it works, we’re going to attempt to give you a short synopsis of SEO. There is so much information out there on this topic, but we want to try and explain it so that anyone can have  a fundamental knowledge of SEO and how it works. Or, to put it differently, we want to put it in layman’s terms and cut through as much technical gibberish as possible.

 

So You Want to be Found on Google?

First thing’s first.

Google is not the only search engine out there. Others, such as Bing and Yahoo, also exist to help bring customers the information they want/need in an organized format. However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on Google as it is one of the most influential companies in the world today, and with 68.75% of all search queries being placed on its search engine, Google is a search engine giant. Just to drill this point home, the search engine that comes in 2nd place (as of 2104) is a Chinese based search engine called Baidu, with only 18.03%. Yahoo (6.73%) and Bing (5.55%) are seemingly dwarfed by Googles popularity.
So yes, you absolutely want to be found on Google!

When it comes to being found on Google, this is largely dependent on Google itself. Why? Simply put, because Google make up the rules.
Essentially, they have a long list of rules and calculations with the end result being whether a website is ranked number 1, number 3261957, not yet ranked on Google, or completely banned from ever being ranked on Google. The best part from website owners is that Google can (and do) change these rules whenever they like.

With all that being said, there are things that website owners/businesses can do to increase their chances of being ranked highly on Google. Things like the quality of the content on your website and how much authority do you have on the topic have quite a bit of weight when it comes to getting your site ranked highly on Google.

 

Quality of Content

Quality content can be thought of in similar terms as relevant content.
If your content isn’t good quality, people won’t read it. If it’s not worth reading, Google doesn’t want to rank it highly in their search results.
Why?
Because Google doesn’t get 68.75% of search traffic by putting rubbish material in front of their users. Google has such a large market share because they are able to give their users what the have asked for.
Think of it like this:

If you’re starting a new business, and you’re looking for information on what steps you need to take, you don’t want to be presented with information from an 11 year old’s blog that talks about their new business selling lemonade on the side of the road.
The blog about selling lemonade might be all about starting a new business, but it’s not relevant for most people who search “how to start a new business” into Google.

If you’re a consultant who helps people start new businesses and your website content is simply telling people to “call me and I can help you out”, he content might be relevant but it’s not very helpful, and therefore isn’t the type of high quality information that Google wants to present to its users.

 

 

Authority on Your Chosen Topic

Authority on your chosen topic is something that helps increase your Google ranking quite nicely.
Why?
Because Google understand that there is a reason why a websites/business is seen as an authoritative source of information in their area. If you’re seen as someone who has authority, it’s most likely because the quality of your content is quite high. If people are wiling to publicly declare (online) that your information has helped them, then Google is wiling to take notice of that.
Take this very article as an example.
Under the heading “So you want to be found on Google?” I added a link to a website that gave me the information on “68.75% of all search queries being placed on its search engine”.
This tells Google  that someone else believes that digitaltrends.com (the website I have linked to) is a source of authority on the topic of Google search. Google will add this to their calculations when deciding on how high to rank digitaltrends.com in search results about Google search.

 

 

Warnings

So, I get it. You’re probably thinking that a lot of that makes sense, but surely there has to be a way to get ranked highly on Google in the short term. I mean, who wants to put a whole lot of effort in, right? (I detect sarcasm!)
Google is a very cleaver search engine and over the years it has taken notice of what some people were doing to try and increase their search rank without putting the time in, producing quality content, or being an authority in their area. So there are a number of practices you absolutely want to stay away from.
DO NOT create a website that is dedicated to linking back to your main content – doing this will get you banned from appearing on Google search results.
DO NOT add your website links to a whole lot of random websites/blogs without a genuine need to do so – doing this will get you banned from appearing on Google search results.
DO NOT copy content from other websites in your business area in an attempt to “produce” authoritative and quality content – doing this will get you banned from appearing on Google search results.

If you hire anyone to help you get ranked highly in Google, please be awake to the fact that no one person/company can guarantee you a high ranking on Google. Hire someone to help you optimize your website for Google, absolutely! But Google are constantly changing how they rank websites, so please don’t assume hiring an SEO specialist will automatically get you a hire ranking.

We absolutely recommend hiring an SEO specialist

Rankings take time and effort on your part to do your job well. If you are doing your job well, you will gain authority, and those higher rankings will come.

In our next blogpost, we will be looking at 6 steps you can take to start out on this SEO journey and increase your chances of being found on Google.

Why Your Business Needs a Website

Its amazing to see, some 30(ish) years after the internet came along, just how many businesses still don’t have a business website. Not only that, but to come across so many small business owners who simply out-right refuse to think that a website will help their business in any way at all absolutely astounds me.

OK, so its clear that a web design company taking this point of view obviously has a bias towards the topic, but that doesn’t make it any less important for any business to be online.

With around 90% of people with an internet connection opting to search Google for business to throw money at, its absolutely imperative that any business is found online.
To put that in perspective, New Zealand (where we are based) has a population of 4.693 million (as of 2016). 86.2% of these people are active internet users (3,876,418 New Zealanders). If around 90% of this number (3,488,776) use Google as their first point of call when looking for anything to throw their money at, that means roughly 74% of the entire population of New Zealand are unlikely to use the services of, or buy from, any business that is not online.

If we complicated it too much with the numbers, think of it this way:
In New Zealand (and likely to be similar around the world), if your business is not able to be found online with its own website, your potential customer base is maxed out at only 26% of the population. This number includes children and elderly who are highly unlikely to need what you’re selling.

 

But what if you’re “doing fine” without a website?
If you don’t see a need for a website because you’ve never had one and you’re busy enough without it, then good on you! But there’s a reason why you came to this website, and are reading this post. Either you already see the benefits of potentially having a website, or you came here by mistake, which means you are someone who at least acknowledges the convenience and benefits of browsing online.

But there are many other reasons why people in your situation should get a business website.

 

Examples of Who Would Benefit From Having a Business Website

Plumbers (or any trades-people)

Many plumbers have been working for years (some even decades), and have a thriving business without every thinking about a website. But imagine if you take a plumber without a website, and give them the ability to create video tutorials on plumbing basics (when there’s spare time of course). If the plumber takes these videos and creates an online course, they could sell that on their website to DIYers from all around the world to just want to learn how to correctly unblock a drain, or find out how to turn the water off at the mains. These are jobs that a plumber most likely wouldn’t get a lot of money from on call outs, but has the potential to start earning from by selling online courses.

The exactly the same scenario is conceivable for a builder, electrician, or any trades-person!

 

Consultants
So, you’ve just started a consultancy business because you’ve had an opportunity come up to do some contracting work for a local company. What if, instead of limiting yourself to one company in your local area, you created an online platform to consult virtually with companies all around the world?

 

Brick & Mortar Stores (physical stores)
Even if selling online isn’t something that interests you, there’s still much to be gained by having your store online with its own website.
Imagine a takeaways store. It’s a one-off food outlet, just trying to make a living.
When someone in your area wants to buy take-aways (or “take-out”), but don’t know exactly what is available in the area, most people with Google phrases like “takeaways in *your area here*”. Having your own website that has been set up to be identified as being specifically located in your area is a huge advantage in this scenario. Even if the website was one page with contact details and an easy to read menu, you would get so much more business.
The amount of times I have not purchased takeaways from places because I can’t find a menu online is ridiculous!

The simple fact of the matter is that most businesses exist for two reasons:

  1. The owner has a passion for the business
  2. To make a profit

If your business fits into the above category, then making your potential customer base larger is a no-brainer.

Getting your business online, with its own website, opens up a world of possibilities. Want to earn money while you sleep, sell your products around the world, work with companies in Asia and Europe, or simply want to make sure people buy your food? Then you must get your business a website!

 

 

Website Maintenance Costs

Around 7 or 8 years ago, my Wife and I had a brilliant idea for a business we wanted to start. Part of the process of inquiry was to ask the only web developer we knew of how much it might cost to have the website created for our specific purpose. Being fresh (very fresh!), we were taken aback when the answer came in that we would be looking at around $10,000 – 15,000. Surely, we’d get “mates rates”, we thought. It was irrelevant that we hardly knew the guy, but this news is the one and only reason we stopped pursuing this business idea. Looking back on this, my Wife and I were out of our depths. Not because we didn’t know how much it would cost to hire a web developer, but because we hadn’t even begun to factor in the website maintenance costs, on top of that initial cost.

What if we had to change text, or an image, later down the track? What if we wanted to start selling products online, or needed to update the products we were already selling?

We hadn’t considered how much it would cost to host our website, and even though the cost is relatively minimal, we hadn’t factored in the cost of a domain name either.

 

Like I said, we were very fresh!

 

So what are these costs that are associated with website maintenance?

 

Cost of a Web Developer
Nowadays you have 3 real options with regards to who takes control of your regular website maintenance. If your company is large enough, you may be in a position to hire someone as your in-house web developer (either full time or part time). However, if you are a small business (the majority of businesses are like this), you have the option of either looking after the website maintenance yourself (or asking one of your current employees to do this), or you have to hire a freelance web developer to make the changes for you.

With services like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace now quite mainstream, more and more businesses are choosing the option of completing the website maintenance themselves. This is most likely to be the cheapest of the options, but these “free” website builders are not without their costs. The costs that are associated with these types of website builders are typically for the “hosting” of your website. While these services advertise their web hosting as free, hosting is essentially the only thing you’re paying them for. So when you see below that their services provide free hosting, keep in mind that if there is an overall cost involved, the “free” services are factored into the overall cost.

Note: We have assumed below that all services are equal and are only comparing prices of the cheapest options. All prices are in US$, and are correct as of 1 August 2017.

Wix:
Wix is, as they advertise, totally free….. until you want to add your own domain name to your website.
Once you get tired of your business website being www.yourbusinessname.wixsite.com you have to pay Wix for the privilege of using a domain name that you also have to purchase

Use your domain: $60/year
Wix Hosting: Free
SSL (security): Free

Wix isn’t hugely expensive, but when you look at the restrictions on the services that are provided on the $60/year plan (or all of their plans), compared to what you can get through having your website professionally created, it sometimes isn’t worth it.

 

Weebly:
Again, Weebly if free, just as it is advertised, but again, you have to upgrade to a paid account to be able to attach your domain name to the website you have created.

Use your domain: $96/year – Weebly advertise that this includes a yearly free domain name up to the value of $20
Weebly Hosting: Not stated, as it is understood by Weebly that this is what the customers are paying for
SSL (security): Not available on any Weebly accounts until the most expensive plan is purchased ($300/year)

 

Squarespace:
Squarespace has a free trial option, but doesn’t have a free-forever option like Wix and/or Weebly do.

Use your domain: $144/year (only allows your website 20 pages)
Hosting: Not stated again as it is also understood by Squarespace that this is what the customers are paying for.
SSL (security): Free

 

So if creating your own website is something that you want to do to save a bit of money, keep in mind that, all website restrictions aside, there is still a yearly cost to maintaining your site, regardless of how you go about getting it set up.

 

Employing a Web Developer
Whether this be full time, part time, the costs of this option will be huge.
First, you have to hire at a competitive rate so that web developers actually want to work for your company. A web developer probably isn’t going to jump at the chance to work for you when they can get twice the pay at your competitor.
Secondly, it has to be worth your while to hire someone in this kind of capacity, otherwise you may as well bundle up wads of hundreds and set fire to it. At least burning your money gives you a little bit of warmth.
If you don’t have enough web development work to give to someone you have hired, they will leave you faster than you can say “CSS”!

Even if you hired someone for only 20 hours/week, you’re looking at around $20,000/year in wages to that employee. That’s a lot of money to spend if all you need done is a couple of text and image updates every so often. And let’s be honest, If you’re website is done right the first time, and your business isn’t always changing, you won’t need to make too many updates at all, and website maintenance will be right down on your priorities list.

 

Freelance Web Developer
This is the option most businesses choose as it is far most cost effective than employing someone, and you get the use of a professionals knowledge, and time, so the job is generally completed faster, and to a higher standard.

          remember not all freelancers are created equal, choosing this option could quite possibly leave you with a lemon of a freelancer who completely crashes your site – it’s not too likely, but it is still possible

Freelancers usually charge anywhere from $40 – $100+/hour. It’s not always about getting what you paid for, but most of the time there is a reason someone is willing to charge out at only $40/hr. Do you really want to take that chance?
Lets say, for arguments sake, that you have 2 updates in a year that need to be done. They’re both simple and take a freelancer around 90 minutes to complete. This is a total update time of 3 hours in the year and could cost you anywhere between $120 – $300+. Remembering choosing the lower option to save money might end up costing more due to the time it takes the less experienced developer.

 

Yearly Web Development Cost Overview
DIY
Wix: $60
Weebly: $96
Squarespace: $144

Employing a Developer: approx $20,000 – part time
Freelancer: $120 – $300+ (based on 3 hours work)

 

 

 

Cost of Domain Name, Web Hosting & Security (SSL)

Yes, this stuff all costs as well, and to top it all off, it is a yearly cost which is payable to the providers of each service.
You can mix and match between services to get the best prices. For example, if you want to, you can buy a domain name with GoDaddy, Get a hosting plan with HostGator, and get your SSL certificate through Namecheap.
Something to be mindful of is that companies will usually sell you these items at a heavily discounted rate for your first year, while the renewal price for every subsequent year can be quite substantially higher.

Domain Names
These prices can vary substantially, but .com domain names are generally around $10 – 12/year.

Web Hosting
The type of hosting you want/need will make a huge difference to the price you pay. But for an everyday, run-of-the-mill, business, you can be looking anywhere between $40 – $180/year.

SSL Certificates
SSL certificates make your website more secure. These are important to have if you carry any customer sensitive information such as names, contact details, or ask a customer to give you their credit card information.
They usually show up as a little green padlock to the left of the website address in your browser.
These aren’t essential to have, especially if your website isn’t going to ask for any of your customers details.
Again these can vary greatly depending on your specific needs, but you can pay anywhere between $10 – $105/year for this.

 

Yearly Domain, Hosting & SSL Cost Overview
Domain: $10 – 12/year (.com)
Hosting: $40 – $180/year
SSL: $10 – 105/year

 

So, as a business owner, you’re approximate yearly website maintenance cost (based on the above information) could be anywhere from $70 – thousands!

Don’t do what my Wife and I did all those years ago and just assume that you can put a website up and that’s it all done. Remember having a business website doesn’t just involve pretty visuals and getting more clients. There’s also the website maintenance aspect which can never be ignored.
Go into this experience educated on what to expect. That way you won’t stumble at the first hurdle of your new business.