4 Things To Focus On When You Are Updating Your WordPress Website | Website Design

4 Things To Focus On When You Are Updating Your WordPress Website | Website Design

Website design is one of the things that I accidentally know how to do. Back in 2001 when I officially started my marketing company (it was called 4D Marketing back then) I needed to get work and making websites seemed like it would be a great idea. I had a working knowledge of how to make them and a little bit of creativity and so BAM…I made HTML websites. Fast forward to 2008 and I started making blogs until today…the pinnacle of my website design happiness, I revised the look and feel of my website for the last time!

The Back Story

Okay, I am an entrepreneur and so I like to mess with my “stuff”. That said, I had made the last change to my website in haste, listening to a bunch of different people who said I had to be more “corporate” and “business-like” in my presentation. Because I was going through colossal sized changes at the time and didn’t have an idea for myself what I wanted, I went with the boilerplate, stuffy, stock photo extravaganza you see on the left. I sorta hated it…not just because it wasn’t pretty or fun, but because all that corporate-ness made it hard for my peeps to find anything they needed to use.

The rest of this post is about how I made the site of my dreams come true…:)

Updating Your WordPress Website

#1 Thing – Figure out the looks and feel

Big Stock Photo ExampleOne of the reasons that I can say that I am done changing my site, at least for a while, is that I took a fair amount of time to figure out exactly what I wanted my site to look like. I decided on the fun colors of pink, blue, yellow and green used in a “Garanimals” way. For those of you too young to remember, Garanimals were clothes that all matched if you put the blue bears together or the yellow lions.

The way that I did that was to pick a color palette already done by an artist onBig Stock Photo. I did not have to design the color scheme or banners that I used, I could just pull them down and pop them in. If you are working with a web designer, they will probably be happy if you can be specific about things like this that give them clues to what you like.

Photography. I also know for a fact that more women come to my site, watch my webinars and read my books than men. With that in mind I really just wanted to make sure that the majority of the pictures would appeal to women.

WordPress. I picked a Genesis theme that was close enough to what I wanted and then spent ALL my time developing graphics that would make the theme pop. The slider at the top has just 4 pictures but it is beautiful and eye catching. The sidebar has LOTS of color and I use the 8 little dots in a row to divide things all over the site.

#2 Thing – Stop Worrying About Looks And Start Worrying About Functionality

Having worked with lots of clients in the the past on their websites, I can tell you that they spend WAY too much time worrying about what goes where and how the search bar looks. Stop worrying about looks and figure out what you want your website to do!

While I was focused on making the site pretty, mostly I wanted to make sure that people could find what they were looking for. With that in mind I started the navigation buttons with the 4 types of people I work with, Entrepreneurs, Realtors, Startups and Authors, Speakers and Coaches. Niching down always feels funny and it did to me too! I like working with Manufacturers (a group that does need the “corporate” looking website to feel okay about working with me), but at the end of the day something has to go and they got axed.

Next comes quick links to my products. I had to cut some things there too so I axed all my services. No more setting up websites or doing social media, I am moving to a coaching, my products and affiliate based model (this was necessitated by adopting 3 kids so it was a happy change, but a change none-the-less).

There is also a link to my blog posts with categories. Now, I am pretty well represented in Google, but it doesn’t hurt to let people know how they can read your “stuff”.

Another thing I did was to take a page out of Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income’s website and make a “Start Here” page. With all the blog posts and content I have on the site, it has to be crazy hard to understand without some sort of roadmap. Hopefully adding this page will reduce my bounce rate and keep people on my website longer!

#3 Set Up Consistency

I have built consistency right into my site. I have the little dots that separate the sections and am using just three different fonts predominantly (Times New Roman, Impact and Kabel).

Having this kind of locked down “style guide” structure means that I don’t have to worry that all the bits will start to look cluttered.

Additionally I did the “Garanimals” color scheme meaning that Pink is for Entrepreneurs, Blue is for Realtors, Yellow is for Startups and Green is for Authors, Speakers and Coaches (you can see this in the top banner). The nice thing about this is that I can use this in the handouts I give and the digital products I develop.

#4 Sell Something

Jennifer McGuire WebsiteOne of the BIG reasons I wanted to change the look and feel was that I need to be able to sell more effectively on my website. With the corporate look there wasn’t a way to elegantly add sales banners or calls to action at the bottom of the posts. With this in mind, I added two types of sales functionality that I “borrowed” from the world of scrapbooking ladies (I KNOW, weird right? But these gals are nothing if not dedicated to making their hobbies a money making machine!)

I used a gal named Jennifer McGuire’s site as a template for how I was going to structure my sales pieces. There would be a a bunch of sales items on the right sidebar (which sometimes people don’t see because of “banner blindness”) and also links at the bottom listing the resources that I used in each post.

Now, from a BUSINESS standpoint, I am sure some of you think that this is excessive. It really is just not done that blatantly usually. But that said, I don’t think of the scrapbooking girls “selling” so much as showing me how to do something cool and then giving me a handy-dandy way to order the products right from that post.

I feel that same way about the links I share. I NEVER talk about something that I haven’t used or bought and I just have to tell you when I find something cool, so why not make it easier for you to find it right away?

Conclusion and Question

So there you have it, the redo what’s and why’s. So I have a question for you! What do you think about providing resources this way? Tacky or helpful? Please let me know in the comments below!

Watch Out Great Marketing Tools and Resources Ahead

10 Ways Website Design Has Changed and What To Do About It

10 Ways Website Design Has Changed and What To Do About ItWebsite design is different today than it has been in a long time. Changes to how Google tells us about what keywords we should try to rank for have made a radical difference in what we should be doing and how we need to set up or changeover a website. Incorporating social media is a vital part of the equation, as is maintaining a social and blog presence.

This post came about because of two things that recently happened. First we were asked to speak about SEO at a conference which I haven’t done for quite a while (mostly everyone is enthralled with social right now). This meant that I had to get all my thoughts in order about how search is working and why we do what we do. Because I have been actively involved in search engine marketing for over 15 years, sometimes I think everyone knows the history and why we do what we do when building sites for clients. Secondly, I was overwhelmed with questions and concerns from business owners who were using a free website builder or a basic site builder like GoDaddy’s site tonight. I really was not aware that so few small biz owners did not understand the need for a strong website.

This post will cover the top 10 things I saw happening that were distressing and why they are important.

PLEASE NOTE: All of this information is for sites that want to take over additional search terms, are struggling overall in search or for brand new websites. If you have a website that is ranking well for your key search terms, leave it alone or make changes very judiciously!

1. New Content Matters More

One of the biggest changes that I think people have missed is the named update to Google called Caffeine that rolled out in 2010. This update basically changed how Google finds information. Instead of being linear, going from site to site to site “crawling” the internet, the Google search engine could now find information concurrently from all different sources at once. This means that having fresh content that is relevant to the searcher can be a huge boon to getting rankings and keeping relevant in the listings. The way to do this is to have a blog website instead of a static HTML site. Blogs have become beautiful so if you are just starting out and had a bad visceral reaction to the word blog, bear with me a bit, you will get over it when you see the rest of the post.

Caffeine Update From Google http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html

2. You Need To Post At Least Weekly

It used to be that you could build a website, have great SEO and then leave it sit there and it would slowly climb in the rankings as it “aged”. That really doesn’t work anymore. Now-a-days you need to have a structured plan for how to send out content that is search relevant, planning it over time so that you are hitting each of the keywords that you are targeting separately.

3. One Post Needs One Keyword

It used to be that you could write a post or page and cover at least three keywords (heck, years ago it was important to have lots of tags on your posts, now that is a detriment). Today’s posts have to be laser targeted and focused on ranking for just one keyword each, with content to support that one keyword.

4. SEO Content Needs To Be Longer

It is a hard and fast rule from Matt Cutts that posts shorter than 300 words are not generally indexed as well in Google. That said, some recent findings show that the majority of results for highly competitive keywords are averaging at least 1,000 words and some go well over that mark. We have found that to be the case when doing work for our clients. Simply going over the 500 word mark on key content will make a huge difference in the results that they get.

Great post from Forbes about this http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2014/04/04/how-long-should-my-blog-post-be/

5. The Loss of Keyword Data Sucks

We had a stunning blow last year when Google totally shut off the data about which keywords were used with which posts. Now, it had been coming for a while with the “not provided” results growing, but when it totally disappeared it was definitely a blow. Now, there are some truly bright spots also. The Google Webmaster Tools has some great data that can help show what terms you rank for site wise and reverse engineering content based on that and some knowledge of what searches are being done can help pick some immediate “low hanging fruit” and get some immediate gains.

Great post about this issue http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2296351/Goodbye-Keyword-Data-Google-Moves-Entirely-to-Secure-Search

6. Talking Search

One of the things that has been a sea change for search and SEO marketing is the switchover to more mobile searching. This happens when someone, phone in hand asks a question rather than typing a search term into Google. Instead of typing “Tampa Bay Realtors” they say, “who are the best realtors in Tampa Bay” or “which is the best Realtor to sell my Tampa Home”. Those are entirely different SEO terms than someone who is just pulling up a search for “Tampa Bay Realtors”. While it is important to try and rank for the regular term, adding content that answers the other questions is also vital to going forward.

7. Mobile Ready Website Design

I feel like this is the first actual website design tip (probably because it is!) While blogs are beautiful now, there are some pieces holding over from the “old days” of websites that are not so great for mobile responsive websites or blogs. One of those is the wide-wide top banner across a site. Today’s best design is actually to have smaller pieces at the top so when it is on a phone it actually large enough to see something of it. We have heard numbers ranging up to 60% of website usage being mobile based now in some industries and we can’t see that number going downward anytime soon.

8. Focusing On The Home Page

Having access to the data for a wide range of websites, I am here to tell you that the majority of any site’s visitors are not coming directly to the home page. They are doing a search for something that is relevant to them and coming in on a page that important to them, then maybe hitting the home button and going to the front of the website. I wish that site owners would spend less time worrying about what their website looks like at the front door and worry more about what is behind that door, SEO and content wise. The most beautiful website in the world does no good if no one is coming to visit it.

9. Using Stolen Pictures

We are very careful to only use pictures that we have purchased the right to use for each individual client from a variety of photo sites. If your website designer does not do this, you as the owner can be liable for between $600 and $10,000 in fines. It is definitely worth it to ask the question before hiring a designer to work on your site or your individual blog posts.

10. Hiring A Cheapo Overseas Company Or Your Cousin Bob To Make Your Site

This last one makes me crazy as someone who has been in the business of websites for over a decade and a half. A company will hear about “outsourcing” and send their website design overseas to be done by people who do not speak English as their first language and who are hard to communicate with because they are multiple timezones away. Or they will use their Cousin Bob, who has just decided that he is “going to build websites”. Bob really is trying, having started researching all the bits that go into it, watching some webinars and checking out a bunch of information on YouTube, not realizing that most of what is out there is outdated and could actually hurt the efforts of his new clients.

If you are looking for some great Website Design Services, I would love to talk to you about what you have, what you need and what you would like to rank for in the search engines! Check out our Website Design Services Page or Give me a call today and I will be happy to take a couple of minutes to find out more!!! Tara 727-415-9165

Website and Blog Design – The Wrong Things

When small business owners having a website or blog designed, they are all happy and ready to start. They have been thinking about this for while and know just what colors and fonts they want. Sigh.

Website and Blog DesignWebsite and Blog Design – So What Are The Wrong Things?

  • Looks – Looks are important…BUT! Spending time on getting the right color purple font is a terrible waste of time. Websites and blogs should be about usability. Having snazzy fonts and colors makes it harder to read.
  • Fancy Flash or Movie Intros – Making users click through a landing page with a “skip intro” button is a waste of time and money AND confuses the search engines.
  • Picking A Fun URL – Your website should be easy to find online. Having a “fun” URL like WhizzyWigsAnDooDads.com will be fun to market, but will not help you in the search engines. Nor will having your company name. I bet you will rank well for that even if you do not try all that hard since hardly anyone else will be competing with you!

Website and Blog Design – So What Are The RIGHT Things?

  • Good Solid Design – You want a site that looks professional and which directs people to where you want them to go (like your products or services page).
  • Easy To Use Navigation – Having tons of different things for people to do is distracting. You should be able to tell at a glance what you want your users to do when they land on your page. They should also have an easy way to get to the subpages of your site. Generally, it is good to use the same words that everyone else does – not creative but effective!
  • Readable Pages – DO NOT have too much text on the page. Break it up with pictures and headings.
  • Great Content – Today there is nothing more important than having great content that internet users are looking for. They do not care what solutions you offer or any other industry buzzwords, they just want answers to their questions.
  • Keyword Research – This is the most important one! You can have the most beautiful site on the internet, but if no one can find you on the search engines it will not matter. Make sure to target keywords with high searches and low competition!
  • A Good Searchable URL – This is the second most important! If you name your site www.LakewoodBookkeepingAccounting.com, it will not be as fun to market, but it sure will rank better for important keywords don’t you think?

So if you are considering having a website or blog designed, make sure you are more concerned with things that matter than what it looks like! AND if you designer won’t have these hard conversations with you, you may wind up with a great looking site that no one ever sees!

Difference Between Small Business Websites Versus WordPress Blogs

I spend A LOT of time trying to explain small business websites versus wordpress blogs to people. There are some major differences that matter to your web success so here is the difference for the final time!

Websites versus blogsI have been involved in making websites and blogs for over a decade now and have watched the progression from pure HTML sites to Flash to database driven sites. I have seen SEO (search engine optimization) change over the years also. When we started, a website was basically a fancy brochure with lots of obscure copy about solutions driven results and client acquisition matrix. In fact we used to play buzzword bingo the terms were so ludicrous.

Fast forward ten years and the internet has changed. Putting up a website with your brochure on it only works AFTER someone has made a buying decision and is researching your company. While they are searching they want Information – information with a capital I! They also want to be able to do a search on Google or Bing or Yahoo and find knowledge, not your sales pitch but active information about the topic that they are researching which you may know the answers to.

I have to tell you, about 4 years ago I thought blogs were silly! Who wants to talk about what they ate for breakfast or how many times they put the dog out (some of the same arguments people give me about Twitter, but that is different post on this same theme). Today I cannot see why anyone would want a website unless they were doing a big ecommerce launch or had to have layers of security because they dealt with people’s confidential information.

So what are the main differences between websites and blogs?

  1. Blogs have feeds, websites do not Part 1 – I got a voicemail from a client last night who had an urgent event she needed to post on her website. She is a new client and her blog is not set up yet so I had to tell her the bad news, if we put that info on her website, it could be four to six weeks before google comes back to spider that information…sigh. If we had a blog done for her, we could post that information and it would PUSH it out to the search engines today. Search engines are hungry to make the latest information available and so are glad to have new items every day.
  2. Blogs have feeds, websites do not Part 2
  3. Because blogs have a process to notify everyone when something is posted you can have an email sent out automatically by using Feedburner which is free and owned by google, you have the post automatically tell your Facebook page through Networked blogs, you can have Twitter post it automatically with TwitterFeed or Hootsuite. You can combine feeds from different places like we did on www.twitter.com/tweetinghomes, allowing all kinds of realtors to post their blog posts automatically.

  4. Blogs have LOTS of content to index – Every time I write a post there is a chance it will make it to the front page of google. I have written over 200 posts about small business marketing, entrepreneur marketing, realtor marketing, time managements, website design and more. Each of those posts stands alone as something that google may be interested in ranking well.
  5. Blogs have webpages too – I can guarantee you that some of my clients do not know that my small business marketing website Marketing Artfully is a blog. They saw a blog 3 or 4 years ago and do not know how far they have come. I have a contact us page, sales pages, product pages, policies and procedures pages, and events. Basically everything a website has along with about 200 mini sites built in because of the blog posts I have written.
  6. Blog posts are easy to share – EVERY time I write a blog post I bookmark it. Bookmarking is pushing those buttons that say share or tell a friend which allow you send your post to Digg or Delicious or Propeller. These bookmarking sites rank REALLY well and drive actual traffic to your website. Adding them to the bottom of blog pages is super easy which brings me to…
  7. Blogs are easy to use and update – Blogs look like MS Word on the back end. They have great content management tools like the Thesis Theme for WordPress which we use for all of our clients. They also have plugins and widgets that do almost anything you want. When I wanted a calendar for my site it took about 10 minutes to research the right one, upload it to my blog, activate it and start using it. No development time and no cost (we use Calender by Kieran O’shea). I have been in many marketing meetings with developers when we wanted to add something like that to a website. Just the time to do the specifications would have exceeded 10 minutes let alone the development time which could run to days or weeks with the associated costs.
  8. Blogs do not all have to look boring BUT having bells and whistles costs more and can take more time for upkeep. I changed the Thesis Skin on this site to something snazzier than just a plain Thesis theme with cool graphics. While I am happy about the look, it added about 15 to 20 minutes to the time it takes to write blog posts because of the special formatting of photos needed and how it is not just super easy peasy anymore. That having been said, if you absolutely want a custom look to your blog, it can be bought for a price!
  9. Humans do not care or understand whether your site is website or a blog – I have a client (and friend) who I have worked with for YEARS. We talked a couple of times about building a blog but her husband had his heart set on a website. It is finally up, over 6 months later and has 5 pages which include a contact us page and an about us page…sigh. Your prospects DO NOT CARE what technology your website is built on. They care about 3 things only – do they like you, do they trust you, do you know what you are doing.

So there you have it, my best information about the difference between websites and blogs. I am sure some of you have different opinions that I do and would be happy to publish them in the comments if you want to let me know. If you are a small business owner who would like to learn more about getting a blog for your business, please email me at support (at) marketingartfully.com and I will have someone give you a jingle!

There are links in this article to free small business marketing tools as well as affiliate links. If you would like to avoid my getting paid for referring you to them, please type the website addresses in your browser bar manually.

Clearwater Local Internet Marketing For Tampa Bay

If you are looking for Tampa Bay and Clearwater local internet marketing, you can not do better than Personalized Marketing! Helping you understand and utilize website and blog design, social media marketing, video marketing or email communications for your business.

Local Internet Marketing Clearwater TampaStacy Hansen is really taking the internet marketing marketing world by storm and her clients are the ones benefiting from it! So what kinds of services does Stacy offer and why should you consider adding them to your business whether you hire Stacy or not!

  • Website and blog design – Stacy works with us to help get your blog off of the ground the RIGHT WAY!
  • Social media and networking – Facebook and Twitter are great ways to market your business and your blog! She will help you market goods and services through these powerful marketing medium.
  • YouTube Videos – Video marketing is one of the emerging forms of marketing and you can get your business on the cutting edge and take over market share!
  • Email Marketing – When you maintain regular contact with your client via email your sales and leads WILL increase!

Improving your business leads and sales with a blog, video marketing or email campaigns can make all the difference in your business’ success, especially in this more challenging business climate. I cannot say it enough, market share you gain now will not go away when the market turns again!

If you would like to find out more about your Clearwater local internet marketing options for the Tampa Bay, Marketing Artfully works closely with Personalized Marketing to provide the highest quality internet marketing solutions for your business!

Stacy Hansen
Personalized Marketing