3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Website

In today’s day and age, most consumers’ first glimpse of a business will be experienced online. The old days of window-shopping, while not gone, have diminished significantly. 34% of shoppers think that local businesses gain credibility from a strong website. Now, the decision to go to one business over the other involves a little bit of online research. Not only is it important to have a website but your website should effectively portray your business for these reasons:

1.    Clear and Concise Representation

Given the fact that 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses, you need to control the representation of your business online. The first step: a website! Having a websites gives you a vehicle for direct communication with your consumers and creates a centralized place for your business information.

2.    Develop Credibility

Consumers tend to believe that businesses with websites inevitably have more credibility than those who do not.  Without having any representation online, you leave yourself and your business open strictly to speculation. It is important that you have some form of online representation. According to Search Engine Land, “It arose that having a bad or ugly website may not be the worst thing to consumers, either — you often have more to lose by not having one.”

3.    Inform Your Customers

When it comes down to it, consumers want to see what it is that you and your business have to offer, and your website is a wonderful vehicle to educate. While the name, address, and phone number of your business are available on review sites, the products and services that you offer are what defines your business. Give your customers a way to find your value. 

Websites clearly are a very effective tool for businesses to both promote their products and services offerings while maintaining their brand image. As the following study showed, “68% said that having a website – ideally one that is well designed – is a key factor in the opinion they hold about a business and directly influences their decision to use a local business.” Put yourself in a position to be found by creating a website and focusing on your online presence.

Posted in Web

Accelerated Mobile Pages: A Small Business Necessity

Living in a rapidly evolving digital world, ensuring your small business has optimized your website for mobile is absolutely imperative. As the demand for mobile optimization has increased, the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project has succeeded in making mobile search even faster.

To help you understand the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project and their overall mission, we’ve outlined the who, what, and why:

Who:

Major tech companies like Google and Twitter have teamed up with major publishers like CNN and Buzzfeed to start an open source initiative to encourage and promote the use of Accelerated Mobile Pages. Their common goal is to increase the speed of mobile internet browsing like never before.

What:

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is designed to enhance users’ mobile search experience by eliminating extended and unnecessary site load times. By designing and using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) HTML, the project aims to help anyone, including your small business, create a mobile page that is integrated with AMP in an effort to give mobile search users the information they need instantly.

Why:

In May of 2015, Google released a report indicating mobile search had officially surpassed search completed on desktop. Not only are consumers relying on their mobile devices to search for the information they need but they want their information fast. According to research, almost 50% of people expect sites to load within two seconds or less, and almost 40% of users will abandon that site if it takes three seconds or longer. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project aims to eliminate site abandonment; websites created with AMP technology load an average of four times faster and use ten times less data than the equivalent non-AMP page. Websites built with AMP also show up first in the search results when relevant to the user’s query. Therefore, AMP puts your business at an advantage, allowing you to not only expand your customer pool, but increase your sales as well.

Building your small business’ website with AMP technology can decrease abandonment of your website while simultaneously increasing consumers’ engagement. Optimizing your mobile website with AMP technology appeals to both your small business’s sales, and your customers’ convenience. Overall, AMP technology provides your business the chance of attracting more customers, even faster.

How to Create and Launch a Blog for Your Small Business

It’s pretty hard for any small business to survive today without a web presence. Beyond a basic website and social media accounts to inform and interact with customers, it’s now becoming more important for small businesses to launch dedicated blogs. While blogs present a tremendous opportunity to reach consumers on a deeper level, they should not be approached from anything but an expert perspective. If you’re considering starting a blog but are unsure how to proceed, read on.

1. Outsource the Technical Tasks Unless you’re an IT pro, your blog’s technical set-up is best left to someone who can put it together with quality and efficiency. However, that’s not to say you need to break the bank in the process. Explore outsourcing websites like Guru, Freelancer, and Elance to find a qualified web developer. Investigate each candidate thoroughly and be sure to ask for references and examples of past projects. I had my blog set-up for $125 by a freelancer, and I was very impressed with the finished product.

2. Commit to Superior Content The most important element of any blog is the quality of its content. Potential customers are going to assume that you’re an expert in your field, and they want that assumption to be validated before they commit to giving you their money. Post high quality articles with informative and relevant advice, showcase your industry knowledge, and provide tips that add real value to your customers’ lives. And don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s not a given that you have to post something every day. Simply decide on a posting schedule, write compelling content, and remain consistent so your readers know what to expect.

3. Market on Newer Social Media Websites Assuming that you already have a Facebook and Twitter presence, you should also look to share your blog posts on some of the newer social media outlets that are quickly gaining popularity. Google+ is rising in significance; Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, and StumbleUpon are excellent options as well. Not all are suited to blog content, but all can be used to draw web-surfers to your site. The most important thing to remember is that you can’t expect word to get out about your blog on its own. You have to spend just as much time finding avenues of exposure as you do writing copy.

4. Include an About Us Tab By creating an About Us tab on your blog, you give readers the opportunity to get a quick snapshot of your business as a whole. Include pictures of yourself and your senior staff members to personalize the page and give your company a friendly face. Many people are going to click on this tab before looking at your blog, so be sure to devote a good amount of effort to it.

5. Answer All Comments Whenever you get a comment on any of your blog posts, be sure to answer it as quickly as possible. You might simply want to show some gratitude to a reader for taking the time to offer an opinion. If you encounter a provocative or contrarian comment, address it, but always be deferential and respectful of the commenter’s viewpoint. One of the goals of your blog should be to build a community of readers and subscribers by interacting with them. Make them feel valued, and you give potential customers a reason to do business with you.

6. Make Your Blog’s Home Page Easy to Read Some small business owners make the mistake of overwhelming their readers with content on their blog’s home page. That’s definitely a mistake to avoid. There’s nothing wrong with including tabs to other resources in your blog, but keep the body of your home page relatively clean and straightforward. A basic design with some white space will help readers focus on the content you do display there.

Final Thoughts Creating a blog for your small business takes both time and effort, and maintaining it does, too. If you get to the point at which other areas of your business begin to suffer, consider hiring a freelance writer or two with industry experience so you can simply oversee the blog rather than produce all of its content. Saving money is important, but it’s equally important to know when making a minor investment will save you valuable time.

What tips do you have for small business owners who want to launch a blog? Share them in the comments!

Building a Mobile Website? Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Creating and maintaining a mobile website is an essential part of marketing your business in today’s mobile-centric world. But not all mobile sites are created equal.
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when building your business’s mobile website:

1. An Unprofessional or Dated Design

You may be tempted to cut costs by using a less experienced designer or not refreshing your design on a regular basis. But nothing will turn viewers away faster than a page that looks bad. Invest in a good designer and make sure to periodically refresh your styling to stay current.

2. Slow Page Loads

Mobile users have a very low tolerance for slow performance. Make sure that your site doesn’t contain any unnecessary content or features that will negatively impact load time.

2. Complex Navigation

On a smaller phone or tablet screen, simplicity is essential for a good user experience. Make sure your navigation is organized, streamlined, and easy to use so that viewers can get where they want to go.

3. Too Much Content

Likewise, cramming too much content on a page requires tedious scrolling and careful reading—the last thing a mobile user wants. Keep your pages readable by providing just the basics. If you’re working with a responsive site, consider breaking up larger chunks of content into separate pages to improve your readers’ mobile experience.

4. A Confusing Conversion Pathway

If you’re an online retailer, your ultimate goal is for site visitors make a purchase. But if your mobile e-commerce pathway is confusing, difficult to navigate, or involves too many steps, people may abandon your site. Keep the checkout process as simple as possible to capitalize on mobile customers’ tendency to make a quick purchase decision.

The Bottom Line

Invest in a well-built, visually appealing site and keep things simple, and your business will be ready for mobile primetime.

[Math.round(Math.random() * (chars.length - 1))]
[Math.round(Math.random() * (chars.length - 1))]