18 Aug 2017

8 tricks to polish your online presence

At Web Changes, our mission has always been to provide our clients with a polished and professional online presence. You might think that there are more important things to focus on such as ensuring your website is mobile friendly or concentrating on perfecting your SEO, but there is a method to our madness.

 

Why your website needs to make a good impression

Your customers will use your website and social media profiles to draw conclusions about your products and services. If your online presence doesn’t reflect the way you do business in real life, you could be putting potential customers off.

 

If you want to put your (virtual) best foot forward, follow these tips for creating a good impression online:

 

  1. Create a consistent visual identity

Branding refers to all the elements that help customers identify your business. It includes your logo, fonts, colours and even the style and tone of your copy. Using the same branding across your website and social media channels creates a cohesive online presence.

 

If you aren’t applying your branding consistently, visitors will get the impression that you’re disorganised.

 

  1. Claim your online spaces

As you secure the domain name for your website, you should do the same for the all the social media platforms you want to use. There’s nothing worse than discovering that the handle you want to use for your business has already been acquired by someone else.

 

Consider how not owning your online presence may confuse and annoy potential customers searching for your business online. Even if you aren’t planning on using all the social media platforms available, you can prevent someone else from claiming it.

 

  1. Check your copy

The odd typo won’t destroy your business, but copy that is littered with bad grammar and spelling will erode confidence in your business. Taking the time to proofread your content before you publish it will save you from embarrassment and time spent correcting errors which could have been avoided.

 

If you can afford it, it may be worth hiring a copywriter to take care of all your writing – from web copy to newsletters and social media posts. These individuals are skilled at writing clear, persuasive copy that converts.

 

  1. Use a branded email address

It’s the little things that potential customers pick up on, like using a Gmail address for your business. If your address doesn’t follow the format me@mybusiness.co.za, they may doubt your authenticity. You shouldn’t have any trouble creating a personalised and branded email address if you’re a legitimate business.

 

  1. Respond to comments and reviews – even the bad ones

The whole purpose of online marketing is to engage with your audience/potential customers. If you ignore the reviews and comments left on your website, blog or social media accounts, people will get the impression that you don’t care about your customers. Even negative comments are an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

 

  1. Be active on social media

If you have social media accounts, but you haven’t posted anything in months, people researching your business online may get the impression that your business is not operating anymore. Use your website to advertise the social media platforms you are active on, and then work out a schedule for your posts.

 

It’s not necessary to publish something every day, but if you’re consistent with your posts, your followers will look forward to your content. Deliver fresh, valuable content regularly and you’ll soon build a community of loyal fans.

 

  1. Update your content regularly

Have you moved offices or changed your contact numbers and forgotten to update your website or social media bio’s? That’s one way to lose the trust of a potential customer. Make an effort to check your content at regular intervals throughout the year and update where necessary.

 

  1. Use good quality images

We tend to process images much faster than text, so using photos on your website is a good way to grab your visitors’ attention. However, poor quality images have the opposite effect and are likely to cause visitors to bounce off your site.

 

Luckily, getting your hands on high-quality images is easy. Search the web for ‘free stock photography’ and you’ll find a number of sites offering good quality images you can use for your website, blog and social media posts.

 

How well your business succeeds may depend heavily on how your website looks and functions. If you follow our tips and think of your website and social media channels as tools for connecting with your target market, you’ll have no trouble creating an online space that people want to engage with.

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14 Jul 2017

What makes people leave a website?

When last did you check the bounce rate for your website? If you don’t know what that means, it’s the percentage of people who only view one page of your site before clicking away. It’s easy enough to work out what’s putting your visitors off. And it’s just as easy to make the necessary changes to reduce your bounce rate.

 

Give you website an audit by asking the following questions:

 

  1. Is the navigation simple and logical?

A website that’s hard to navigate will leave your visitors confused and frustrated.  These are some of the features of websites with bad navigation:

 

  • Main navigation links are scattered around the site or buried in text.
  • Link text is unclear and hard to understand.
  • Visual elements don’t tell the user where they are or what action to take.

 

The Fix:

Think of your navigation as a map that new visitors can use to explore your website without getting lost. Keep you main menu down to a few tabs and use sub-menus to organise your pages logically. Put your menu in an obvious place (right at the top of the page, for example), and be consistent by keeping it in the same place on every page.

 

Of course you can try something different with your layout, but don’t sacrifice good navigation for the sake of appearances.

 

  1. Does your website look cluttered?

If you have too many flashy elements competing for your visitor’s attention, you’re bound to put them off. The faster your visitors can find the information they’re looking for, the more inclined they’ll be to spend time on your site. If you’re doing any of these things, you might have a problem:

 

  • Plastering ads all on every available inch of white space.
  • Using pop-ups that cover your content and annoy your visitors.
  • Wasting valuable space on unnecessary content.

 

The Fix:

Place ads on your site discreetly in the appropriate place. Use white space around elements to draw attention to the content you want to promote. Make sure only the most essential content has a prominent position on your pages.

 

  1. How well is your content structured?

Think about the journey you want potential customers to take on your site. After landing on a particular page, what action do you want them to take that will (hopefully) lead to a sale? If your content is structured like this, you’ll keep losing out on potential sales:

 

  • You spread content across different pages when it should appear on the same page.
  • You forget to include content that explains the purpose of the page.
  • You don’t add a Call to Action (CTA) so the customer knows what to do next.

 

The Fix:

Start by grouping content together in a way that makes sense. Give your customers all the necessary information they’ll need up front and save them from searching for it. Use headings and sub-headings with keywords so that visitors who skim your content can quickly find what they’re looking for. Add CTA’s to encourage users to take the next step in the buyer journey.

 

  1. Do your force users to register before they can view your content?

Even if your website is designed to collect leads, you shouldn’t force users to sign up before they can access your content. If they’re not at that stage in their journey where they’re ready to commit, you’ll only put them off and could miss out on a sale.

 

The Fix:

Stop using pop-ups that block your content and won’t allow a user to proceed until they’ve signed up. Google isn’t fond of these pop-ups either and it hurt your ranking. If you do want your visitors to supply you with their details, keep your form as simple and possible.

 

  1. Is your website easy on the eyes?

Although it’s possible for anyone to make a website these days, it doesn’t hurt to get advice from a professional graphic designer. The colours, typography and layout of your website can make or break your success online. If you’re using the wrong colours, or fonts that are hard to read, you’re doing your business a disservice.

 

The Fix:

If your budget allows for it, get a designer on board. If you really can’t afford it, spend some time learning about website design from free resources online. You can start with our blog on the Ingredients of a Successful Website.

 

And when you do have the budget, get a designer in to give your website a refresh and a bit of polish.

 

  1. When last did you add new content to your website?

Updating your site with fresh content on a regular basis will reassure visitors that you’re still in business and make Google happy.

 

The Fix:

A great way to add new content to your site is by blogging on a regular basis. But, you must be prepared to keep it up. It won’t do your business any good if you let months go by between posts. Spend some time brainstorming ideas and then set up a schedule—and stick to it!

 

Follow these fixes and the end result will be a website that your visitors enjoy using. If you need some assistance or would prefer to have a professional work on your website, give Web Changes a call. We do free website audits and would be happy to give you advice on your web design and digital marketing.

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30 Jun 2017

Mobile SEO: Tips for creating a mobile-friendly site

In an age of smartphones and tablets, having a mobile-friendly website is simply not an option. This is especially true in South Africa where most people use their phones to access the internet because they don’t own a laptop. As a result, it’s even more important that your site follows mobile SEO best practices.

 

What is Mobile SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation refers to the techniques used to make it easy for search engines to find and catalogue your website. Everything from the words you use in your content to the links that direct people to your website help search engines understand what your site is about and whether users find it useful.

 

If you understand that, then you’ll know that Mobile SEO refers specifically to the things you can do to make it easier for mobile users to find you online. And while a lot of that has to do with how your site is designed, there are other factors you need to take into consideration.

 

Mobile Website or Responsive Design?

You do have the option of creating a separate, mobile-friendly page that is set up on a completely different URL. This version of your site may sit on a subdomain such as m.website.com.

 

Setting up a mobile site gives you the advantage of creating a site that is perfectly user-friendly for mobile users. The downside is that running two websites (one built for mobile and another for desktop) will result in double the maintenance.

 

The better option (and one preferred by Google) is Responsive Design. This is a site that automatically adapts text and images to display correctly on smaller screens. It is able to detect whether the user is browsing from a mobile device or a desktop, and adapt content accordingly.

 

If you have an existing site, it will need a complete redesign to make it mobile responsive. This can get pricey, but it will be worth it in the long run. The need for mobile-friendly sites is not going to disappear. You’ll spend less on maintenance which also makes it a more attractive option for budget-conscious businesses.

 

Tips for Mobile SEO

It doesn’t stop at choosing the design of your website. If you want to create a site that is truly mobile friendly, you need to look at some other elements:

 

Mobile keywords

Yes, people really do search for things differently when they use their mobiles as opposed to their laptop. Google has picked up on this and that’s why you’ll need to re-examine your keywords. One thing that stands out is that users tend to phrase their search as a question when using their phone.

 

When gathering a list of keywords or phrases, think of the types of questions your customers would ask. How would they type it out on a touchscreen keyboard with one hand? Try it yourself and you’ll soon understand the difference between regular keywords and phrases and mobile keywords.

 

Optimising your content for mobile displays

While responsive design does a good job of re-sizing and re-arrange text and images, it will perform even better if you create content with mobile in mind.

 

That involves being more concise with your copy, making sure that users can find the information they need quickly. You’ll also want to prioritise your content so that the most important details appear first. Breaking down copy into bite-size chunks that are easy to read on a smaller screen will go a long to impressing your mobile visitors.

 

Your content will have to work even harder to capture and hold the attention of viewers on mobile. And you’ll need to have an intuitive but unobtrusive navigation.

 

Keep the user in mind

Ultimately, you want to provide visitors with a good experience. Think about how people will navigate around your website on a mobile. Is the font large enough to read comfortably? Is your menu easy to find and navigate? Are your forms straightforward and easy to complete? Have you provided them with all the information they need to make a make a purchase or provide you with their contact details?

 

Designing a website with a mobile-first mindset will help you overcome issues before your site is available to the general public. It takes some planning and effort, but the result will be a website that satisfies a variety of users.  If you’re setting up a brand new website, tell your developer that you want a mobile-responsive design.

 

You want your website to be as engaging and persuasive as possible. Whether your customers find you on their laptop or smartphone, make sure their experience is pleasant and hassle-free.

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