4 Dangers of Running Your Own SEO Campaign

Every business wants to cut costs. That’s true regardless of size. Small and large companies alike look meticulously over balance sheets every year in an attempt to reduce outgoings while increasing the amount of money that’s coming in. 

As it happens, money being spent on SEO services is always one of these costs that’s looked at carefully. Both website owners and business managers look at the amount spent on search engine optimization and think, “Is there a way to minimize this figure, or better yet, is there any way we could carry out this marketing technique ourselves?”

The dangers of doing this may not always be clear, but they are far-reaching. Here are 4 important reasons why you need to look at organic SEO marketing as an investment, rather than a cost.

  1. You Risk Punishment

If you use SEO methods that aren’t approved by Google and the search engines, guess what? They’ll punish you. If you thought saving a few dollars was worth risking punishment for, wait and see how much it’ll cost you now you’re ranked in the search engine’s metaphorical desert.

  1. You Risk Wasting Time

Organic SEO isn’t something you can do in an instant, unfortunately. It takes time, and it takes work. If you’re spending your time running an inefficient campaign, not only are you wasting that time, you’re also wasting the time you’ll have to wait for your correctly-run campaign to get up and running. Whereas you intended to half your costs, you’ll have effectively doubled them.

  1. You Risk Losing Out to Your Competitors

The value of a well-run SEO campaign is obvious to pretty much everybody with an insight into marketing. That likely includes your competitors. While you’ll be working on your campaign yourself or with a cheap SEO agency, they’ll likely be spending their money on organic SEO services that will pay dividends for years to come.white hat seo

The difficult thing about losing ground to your competition is it’s very difficult to catch up again. Especially if they have the business savvy to market themselves in the correct ways.

  1. You Risk Wasting Money

If you try to cut costs by cutting back on the amount of money you spend on SEO services, you may actually end up spending more money. Crazy, right? As it happens, you’ll be outlaying money on what is very likely to be unhelpful tools (such as worthless backlinks) or an inexperienced service. It’s far better to just pay for a quality product and reap the rewards for years to come.

Don’t Fall Victim to Temptation

Each year, many decide to reduce their SEO budget in order to spend the money elsewhere. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always pay off. SEO is now a vital online marketing technique, and is something you really can’t do without, especially if you want to succeed on the web.

Don’t fall foul to this temptation unless you know you can cut costs yet receive the same kind of service you’d have otherwise received. The general consensus is, it’s just not worth it.

Avoid These Fatal Copywriting Flaws When Polishing Your New Website

You may have spent countless hours strategizing, planning and designing a striking new website, but unless you round it off nicely with some impressive, compelling copy, all of your previous efforts could be in vain. With a web design that you are proud to tell you friends and potential customers about, it only makes sense that your copy meets the standard.

20140702-200704-72424314.jpg

It is painful to see the number of new businesses, who have clearly invested heavily in launching a remarkable new site, failing to deliver on the copy front. By putting in a little bit more time and resources, you can multiply your chance of conversions. When you approach the copywriting stage of your web project, be sure to avoid these fatal flaws.

#1 Being too wordy

One of the most common flaws we see in website copy is the lack of concision. Producing effective copy is all about writing engaging, interesting and to-the-point content which is as easy as possible for readers to digest. With the current overload of information in the online world, people are becoming less patient, and expect to find the information they are looking for in an instant.

Ensure that your copy is structured so that your core messagesjump out at the reader. There is no point hiding the most important information within a tedious block of text. If there is an opportunity to omit a word, omit it. Stick to only the core messages and you will have a far better chance of connecting with your visitors. If you find yourself becoming tempted to waffle on too much, consider hiring professional copywriting services to help you out.

#2 Forgetting to include a call to action

Regardless of the content you are writing, all businesswebsites have one core aim: to convert visitors into customers. Make sure this is always at the forefront of your mind when writing your website copy. From the very first word to the killer closing phrase, your aim is to convert. Make sure that visitors are well aware of what they have to do if they want to move further along the purchasing process.

Structure your paragraph with your goal in mind. You want your readers to becoming more involved as they move through the content, making them perfectly primed to receive your final call to action. This may appear to be a very simple step, but you would not believe the number of businesses who omit it.

#3 Neglecting the importance of meta descriptions

When people think of copywriting, the first thing that comesthe mind is the content which appears throughout the website. However, meta information is another crucial aspect which must be considered if you are serious about getting new customers. When a potential customer makes a search on Google, they will be presented with a number of results. Your meta description provides you with a perfect opportunity to differentiate from the crowd. Making things slightly difficult is the fact that you only have a limited space to work with. Be sure to include all of the relevant information in a clear, catchy and concise manner.

These three pieces of advice are really simple, but you would not believe how many new businesses fail to integrate them into their copy. Make sure you do not make these fatal mistakes!

Five Alarming Website Blunders

Do not Frighten Your Clients Away

Excellent news….someone went to see your website.  Congratulations!  Possibly they may purchase your product or service… but hang on…NO!  They have gone already… after only 10 seconds.

5 Alarming Website Blunders

Sure, they stayed sufficiently long to be shocked by your site and then made a speedy escape to one of your competition.  If your website is not transforming prospects to customers, you may be carrying out one of the following dangerous mistakes:

1 Adobe flash Powered Design

Search engines like Google despise Flash design.  Actually they dislike them so much that they will totally disregard your website regardless of how good looking you think it is.

Who cares if it is smart and features gorgeous cutting edge design? No one will ever find it.  Google is simply going to bypass your website as if it is invisible.  And all those iPhone or iPad users that love their gadgets as much or even more that their desktops definitely will not see it due to the fact they can not see Adobe flash on their phones.

It is unnecessary to frustrate Google to the point where it decides to disregard you.  It is YOU that will not receive any website visitors.  Just because you can add bells and whistles,  does not necessarily mean that you ought to.

2 The Irritating “Welcome to our website”

How much time do you believe you might have to get your visitor’s attention?  It is not 2 minutes, 1 minute or even just 30 seconds.  It’s more like 10 seconds.  That’s all the time you may have, so don’t squander it with this kind of dreary introduction.

Many people don’t want to read a lot online, and when they initially pay a visit to your site they are most likely planning to quickly browse it to check if something attracts their attention.  Why waste an undoubtedly small attention opportunity by reminding people which website they are browsing?  Rather, use a spectacular headline!

Individuals should know already just where they are from looking near the top of your website, where they should see your brand and a quick tagline, or perhaps a brief classification of your website, so there is no requirement for saying the obvious by using a dull “welcome to our website” message.  Boring!

3  “We are a team of….”

“We intend to….”
“We’ve been running a business for…..”

Apologies for telling you like it is, but. . . NO ONE GIVES A STUFF!

People who browse your site are simply thinking about one thing: What exactly is in it for ME?”

Should your site not respond to this issue fairly swiftly they are going to leave.

Rather than just speaking about you and your website or your company, visualize that you’re speaking one on one with  a regular client and ‘talk’ directly to them as an person.  Let them know just how your service or product will help them.

4 Technology Speak

Every single sector and business segment has its own terms and industry only words and phrases that no one else comprehends.

Have a go at conversing with family and friends in relation to Auto-responders, Search Engine Optimisation and long tail keywords and you will observe them give a vacant look when they start to fall into a coma.

If you are using words and phrases that mean something to you personally however go straight over your website visitors heads, then you definitely are inclined to lose them.  We have previously stated site visitors will skim over most of the written content on your website in any case, therefore it is sensible to really make it as simple as possible for them to select as well as fully grasp the key points from the parts which they do go through.

5 No Obvious Call to Action

In addition to informing your website visitors precisely what’s in it for them, the next task is usually to let them know what they should do now.

It truly is pointless providing them with fantastic explanations why they ought to use your services and products, and after that not inform them what they have to do next to obtain it.

You must have a specific call to action and make it evident what you would like them to do.

Would you like them to call you for a free quote?  Then actually tell them!

Having said that, asking them to call you and then concealing your phone number somewhere on your site can be another huge failure.   If your call to action is asking them to ‘call us right away’, then ensure you place your contact number right beside it.

Would you like them to click the ‘Buy’ button?  Once again, you need to actually tell them, and then clearly show them where that button is and ensure it is eye-catching and obvious so they see what they must click.

In no way assume that these potential customers are fully aware how to proceed.  Present it clearly for them.  Explain what you need them to do.  If you happen to make it challenging for them, chances are they will leave.  Without a doubt, they most likely could work it out… however they will not!  They are going to will leave your site and go to another website at first opportunity.

You spend considerable time and money encouraging visitors to check out your site.  Why then frighten them away by making one of these deadly mistakes?

If you liked this article, why not download our FREE Internet Marketing Guide Magazine for small businesses.

Internet Marketing Magazine

The first issue of the magazine shows you…

  • how to attract more customers to your website
  • how the new Google Plus and Google Plus Local are going to revolutionise your online business
  • why you should be using YouTube as a way of communicating with your customers
  • how effective it is for your business to get involved with Twitter and Facebook

Download your Free copy now at http://www.web-design-northern-ireland.co.uk/magazine/free.html



Can a Mobile Website Boost your Income?

Typically the answer is “Yes”!

A brand-new study by Web.com, suggests 84% of small to medium sized firms that go mobile see a rise in income. This is a fairly high proportion, and you can just imagine that the vast majority of those small companies are not marketing and advertising geniuses. These people merely recognized that their clients were on their mobile phones daily and they needed to be there as well.

Most of the marketing and advertising industry experts are forecasting that mobile will be perhaps more valuable to companies in the near future. International financial providers company ‘Morgan Stanly’ published a document a number of years ago declaring that mobile internet browsing would exceed that of the desktop computer by 2015. The article confirmed that mobile use was rising significantly.

People today are increasingly searching for high street businesses on their mobiles, and this means it’s time for organizations to take action. Simply going mobile can help to increase your profit levels.

If you genuinely want a mobile site that is amazing, there are a number of points to take into consideration:

Design

Everyone recognizes how crucial ‘navigation’ is for a Desktop web site. For a mobile site, it is actually more critical. Mobile web sites have large bounce rates. To retain individuals on the website, the design and style has to be very simple and clean. Each and every one of the webpage’s should to be only one or two steps from the entrance page. Graphics should be smaller in file size, and there ought to be ample amounts of blank space. Do not make use of Adobe flash or anything else that loads slowly where possible.

While developing your mobile website, take into consideration precisely how your prospective clients will use it. Keep in mind that some people will not have a keyboard. Adding written text on a mobile device can be a troublesome experience. A large number of mobile devices make use of a touch-screen, so think about finger and thumb movements when you plan your page layout. Place your buttons in areas where they’re convenient to tap.

Fully understand Your Mobile Guests

To be able to make any internet site worthwhile, you will need to fully understand who is using it and exactly what they will do on it. The simple fact is, we utilize our mobiles in different ways than we make use of our desktop systems. As an example, take into account when we’re on the Internet. Individuals are considerably more likely to be on their mobiles while on a journey on the train, waiting in a queue at their bank, or relaxing on the sofa enjoying television at night.

Consumers use their mobiles to look for localized firms and compare price points. Whilst you are browsing in a shop, you can make use of your mobile phone to do a comparison of costs and review actual products you are considering purchasing.

Mobile end users spend tons of their time on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Research have established that the amount of time expended socializing on smartphones is continuously rising, and social network sites are capitalizing on this by producing more mobile friendly capabilities. Identify what your clients are engaging in on their smartphones and you will discover just how you can sell to these people.

The Mobile Movement

So, will a mobile web-site ensure you get more income? The response is “Absolutely and for sure!”, and it is going to result in additional profit levels in the future years. Sales of portable gadgets are growing, so if you have not already gone mobile, now is the time to do so!

Why Every Business should have a Mobile Website

It does not matter what type of business you have. In 2012 it is essential to have a website that has been optimised for mobile devices. A mobile website is one that has been designed for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Regular sites that have been designed for desktop computers do not look or perform well on mobile devices and they can also be difficult to view and navigate.

The number Mobile Devices is Soaring!

Mobile is taking off because the technology on our phones has finally improved to the extent that you can do just about anything you want. You can browse the internet, email your friends, interact over social media such as Facebook and Twitter, chat online, shop, play games – and yes, even speak to people.

Fashionable girl on phone

The most popular mobile device of recent years was the notebook, and while these devices certainly fulfill a purpose, they are still bulky. A smartphone on the other hand (no pun intended), is a pocket-sized computer that you carry with you most of the time on your person. Mobiles offer a lot of features that desktop computers do not, such as geographical capabilities along with the capability to scan QR codes.

Actually, the mobile rate of growth has resulted in local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which means optimising for geographically targeted web searches. This is because one thing individuals are doing a lot on their mobile devices while out and about is searching for local companies. If your business has an easy-to-use mobile website, they will find it!

Designing Mobile Website

Mobile sites are very different to desktop sites. Cellular devices have smaller screen sizes with a lower density of pixels, so a mobile optimised website should be simpler with less going on. A regular desktop website looks cluttered when viewed with a mobile phone and users will need to constantly zoom in and out and zoom left and right to find the button or link they wish to click.

Mobile users have shorter attention spans. This means a website must grab their attention immediately. Mobile websites have high bounce rates so navigation must be simple and clear so as to keep their attention.

Woman Shopping on Phone
Another key difference between mobile and desktop websites is that it is not as easy to enter text on a mobile device as a full-sized keyboard. If a lot of data entry is required, the mobile site should replace them with check boxes, drop down menus, and pre-populated fields where possible.

Going Mobile

As a business owner, you should not replace your existing website with a mobile version. Instead you should compliment your existing website with a mobile version. When a user visits your domain name (www.mysite.com) from a desktop computer they should be directed to your desktop version and when they visit from a mobile device, they should be directed to the mobile version. The interface should allow the user to manually switch between mobile and regular website if they want to by clicking a link.

Once a mobile site has been created, its usability rating can be checked with the standard W3C mobileOK Checker [http://validator.w3.org/mobile/]. As well as measuring a mobile website’s usability, it can suggest improvements to be made so that the mobile optimised site will perform better. You can also find smartphone simulators that can show you how your website looks and performs on different brands of mobile devices.

Summary

The world is adopting mobile devices extremely quickly and if your business does not have a mobile site, you will get left behind. More and more people are using their mobile while out and about to find the service they need and make bookings while on the run. If they attempt to load a desktop website on their mobile device and it is taking too long, they will simply return to Google and try the next one in the list!

Fortunately it is surprisingly cheap to get a mobile website developed and have it installed along-side your main website. Now is a good time to get started as this is an essential investment that will repay itself quickly in increased custom for years to come.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Move WordPress Installation from Domain Root to Sub-Directory?

Have you installed WordPress in the root directory of your website, and you now want to move the entire WordPress installation to a sub-directory so that you may have a standard HTML page as your homepage? If so, there may be a better solution where you can have the HTML homepage without moving your WordPress installation.

Why would you even want to move your WordPress installation to a sub-directory? Well, maybe the website was initially set up as a blog and at a later date you thought it might be a good idea to have a hand-coded static homepage as no WordPress template could convey exactly what you wanted to.

So how do you do it?

The solution is easy: Rather than move the entire WordPress installation into a sub directory, you need to follow these steps:

  • First of all, go into your WordPress admin and create two new empty pages. The title of the first page should be “home” and the title of the second should be “blog”. It is very important to publish both of these pages before proceeding.
  • Next, in your WordPress Admin section, under Settings->Reading, where it says “Front page displays”, select “a Static page”. For the Front Page, choose “home” from the drop-down. For the Posts Page, choose “blog”.
  • Now, if you browse to your domain root, for example, www.my-domain.com you will see the empty home page that you created rather than your blog posts. You can test that you can access your blog posts by browsing to www.my-domain.com/blog.

In order to have a plain HTML file in place of your WordPress home page, you need to do the following:

  • Create an empty .php file. You can call it something like “home.php”. Add the following code to the top of the file (Note, you can replace “My Custom Template” with whatever you want to call the template:

<?php
/*
Template Name: My Custom Template
*/
?>

    • Just below the snippet put your entire HTML content. You can include doctype and html tags as per normal.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml” xml:lang=”en” lang=”en”>
<head>

</head>
<body>

</body>
</html>

  • Copy that file to the wp-content/themes/whatever-theme-you-are-using-folder/
  • Return to your WordPress Admin screen and select Pages->All Pages. Choose to edit the empty homepage you created (apart from the Title). On the right hand side, you should see a “Template” drop-down. Select “My Custom Template” and save.

Now when you browse to your domain root (www.my-domain.com) you should see your HTML homepage and you can easily create a link from that home page to your blog if required.

And that’s it all done. Your WordPress blog now behaves as if it is in a sub-directory of your domain while you have a standard HTML file as your homepage.

Sources:

WordPress: Creating a Static Front Page

WordPress: Creating Your Own Page Templates

Fast Rollovers Without Preload

When using rollovers, more than one image is often used for each rollover. Each image usually represents a different state (hover, active, visited etc). In order to try and eliminate delay and flicker, traditionally these multiple images can be preloaded.

A much better solution however is to combine all the images into one image so that it needs only to be loaded once and can be used by all states.

For example, on the Web Design Northern Ireland Home Page I have the following rollover images (the first one is shown in it’s rollover state, while the rest are not).

Home Page Rollovers

The combined image contains the two states for each of the five buttons:

rollover-combined-image

Many people wrongly think that is is quicker to have a larger number of small images as opposed to a smaller number of large images but it is not. A technique that has been popular for years is to “slice” images with the intention of making pages load faster. Although this method makes the page ‘appear’ to load quicker to the human eye, it does not as each image requires a separate HTTP Request.

With one combined image, it is possible to simply shift the position around using CSS depending on the area of the image that is required for display. As the combined image is loaded at page load for the standard state, the need for load or even preload for other states is eliminated. A single combined image is much faster at dynamic switching on hover also.

Here is the traditional CSS that uses background images to perform the rollover:

#button a {
background: url("button.png") top left no-repeat;
}

#button a:hover {
background-image: url("button-roll.png");
}

Using one combined image, we do not need to swap the background image with another. Instead, we just change the background position. The hover state in this example will use the same image but the offset will be 139 pixels from the top:

.icons a{
display:block;
width:109px; /*Set the width of each icon*/
height:139px; /*Set the height of each icon*/
background: url("../images/wdni-buttons.png") no-repeat;
}

#nav-design a{
background-position: 0px 0px; /*Non-hovered position
}

#nav-design a:hover {
background-position: 0px -139px; /*Hovered Position*/
}

Using this technique on my home page, I can cut the number of required images for menu from ten (2 different state for 5 menus) down to one. Additionally no preload is required and state switching on rollover is extremely fast.

Web Design Northern Ireland: Outsourcing Web Design to Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a near shore location for businesses seeking a low risk location that offers high quality at a competitive cost. The major reason that Northern Ireland has become a favorite web design outsourcing destination is a combination of cost saving, native language and skilled IT professionals.

Northern Ireland Web Design Skills

Special skills are required to produce a professionally designed website that will stand out from the crowd. Your business can employ in-house web designers, but if they lack the necessary experience, you may not be satisfied with the results. A professional design is essential to ensure that the resulting website will not reflect poorly on your company and turn away potential visitors and conversions. Working with an outside Web development firm can address these issues as well as providing a fresh perspective and new ideas which can ultimately enhance your website presence.

Near shore outsourcing of your web design to northern ireland is the easiest and cheapest way to get a top quality website created at significantly lower cost in comparison to say a Dallas web design agency. Web designers in Belfast and throughout the rest of Ulster are exposed to the cutting edge of new technology. Northern Ireland’s technically skilled designers come from the top local universities such as the Queen’s University Belfast the University of Ulster and the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland Web Design Technology

Technology changes rapidly, and specialized web development firms have a greater appreciation of internet technology developments. They can determine which emerging technologies can be of benefit to your company. With this ever-constant shift in technology, it can be a great challenge to keep your company’s web design and development up to professional standards. If you outsource the work to a Northern Ireland company that specializes in web design, you can be sure they will keep on top of the latest trends on your behalf. Because of the highly competitive nature of the Web development industry, Northern Ireland web development firms must perform at a very high level at all times in order to keep their clients happy. This constant desire to succeed produces outstanding results on client projects and rarely exists amongst in-house IT or marketing staff. In addition, web development projects, when outsourced, generally won’t go off track or get derailed due to internal politics or conflicting IT priorities.

Northern Ireland / USA – Time Difference

The five (plus) hour time difference between US and Northern Ireland offers an opportunity to exchange information in a much more time efficient way. The US can review and provide feedback after day end in N. Ireland while the N. Ireland can work the next morning while the US is still sleeping. Communication can take place via E-mail, Skype/VOIP and Instant Messaging.

Summary

Besides outsourcing the web design work, a small business should also consider outsourcing the internet marketing part of their website. Effective internet marketing is essential for people to find you through Google and other major search engines. A great looking, easy to use website with lots of informative content combined with a well thought out Internet Marketing plan is the best and most cost-efficient ways to reach your target audience.

From concept to completion,  Web Design Northern Ireland works with our clients every step of the way to ensure satisfaction through our reasonably priced website design services.



Web Design Northern Ireland: Debugging Google Instant Previews

NI Web Design - Google Instant Preview 1

Introduction

A new challenge presents itself for web designers and website owners in Northern Ireland with the arrival of Google Instant Previews. Google Instant Previews essentially gives users the capacity to view a website ahead of visiting it. Google accomplishes this by displaying previews (a snapshot) of relevant web pages to users based on their search keywords. A magnifying glass icon is located to the right of each search result and as the user clicks or hovers this, a snapshot of the corresponding web page is displayed. The snapshot contains an overview of the website’s content. Orange “call-out boxes” containing search query text snippets are displayed within the snapshot highlighting what Google perceives to be relevant sections of the web page. This allows the user to quickly compare results and select a page that best matches what they are looking for. There are a number of scenarios where Instant Previews are especially useful. One example is when you’re searching for particular charts, graphs or images. Instant Previews will show you where the search term occurs and you’ll quickly see whether the graph is well suited to your search or not. Another is when you search for people; by using Instant Preview, a user can quickly scan the page and figure out if the page is in relation to the individual they are searching for.

Benefits of Google Instant Preview

Quickly compare results – A visual comparison of search results helps you select the one that’s correct for you. Quickly scan previews to see which page appears closest to what you are searching for. Pinpoint relevant content – Text call-outs highlight where your search terms show up on the web page so you can consider if it’s what you’re searching for. Interact with the results page – Page previews let you see the structure of a web page prior to clicking the search result. Looking for a graph, photo, map or list? See if you can spot what you are after in the preview.

Enabling Google Instant Preview

The Google Instant Previews feature is activated once you click the magnifying glass next to the title of any result. Google will then load previews for additional results in the background.

Disabling Google Instant Preview

You can disable Google Instant Previews by clicking the magnifying glass icon a second time. At the moment there is no official and permanent way to turn off this functionality. There are a few hacks out there such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAR1cBFh-YM

Enabling / Disabling using Shortcut Keys

Use right/left arrow keys to enable and disable Instant Previews.

Browsing Google Instant Preview Results

Click once on the magnifying glass in the search results to immediately see a preview of the web page. After activating Instant Previews with a click, you can hover over any other search result to see a preview of the online page.

Debugging Google Instant Preview

If your online page does not render properly in Google Instant Preview and you observe an error message you may wish to fix it. It is usually very challenging to read the error message as the text is so small, however occasionally a few words can be recognised. If the wording is not readable, then enlarging it using imaging tools will not make it more legible.

Google Instant Preview 2

Detecting Google Instant Preview Errors

Google generates previews in one of two ways: 1. The ‘GoogleBot’ user agent crawls the web page To identify potential errors in this case, install the Firefox add-on “User Agent Switcher” and change the user agent to ‘GoogleBot’. Errors detected on the page can then be corrected. 2. Previews are created on-the-fly To detect possible errors, use Safari or an equivalent Webkit-based browser like Google Chrome.

Verifying Google Instant Preview Errors Have Been Resolved.

So far I have not been able to locate a tool that will render the preview exactly as Google Instant Preview does. This suggests that it is not currently possible to check that any efforts to correct errors have succeeded. My present understanding is that the web content will have to be re-indexed by Google to verify that the error(s) has been resolved.

Article by: Web Design Northern Ireland