Category Archives: Your Website

Have You Checked Your Search Engine Traffic Lately?

Google’s been at it again.

search engine traffic graph

Search engines are constantly changing. They have to, to stay ahead of people using so called “black hat” methods to manhandle their websites to the top 10 search results. Google is dedicated to giving searchers the best possible search results, NOT mangled results caused by someone gaming the system.

So you and every other business owner needs to stay on top of search engine changes. Google and the other big search engines are getting better and better at almost reading searchers’ minds.

Because we stress the importance of providing content on your website that your customer needs and wants, we’re fairly certain that you’ll weather all the Google changes pretty well.

The websites that are overly focused on their products and services, overusing certain keyword phrases without backing up those keywords with additional good content are going to get punished.

Your website isn’t a fix it and forget it billboard.

You should be aware of what kind of traffic you’re getting to your site,

  • checking regularly to see if traffic is changing,
  • learning which pages are getting the most attention,
  • reviewing what keyword phrases are generating the most traffic.

Google Analytics can help you easily do this and it’s free. Setting up Analytics is simple. Signing up for a Google account will be your first step. If you have a Google Business Page (which you should) or a gmail account, you have a Google account.

For a complete guide and step by step instructions for using Google Analytics, go to the Google Analytics training site. There is hugely more information there than you may need, but if you’re a data lover, you’re going to be amazed by what Analytics can show you about your website traffic.

Have your webmaster add the necessary scripts for Google Analytics to begin tracking your traffic. It’s important to do this. Google Analytics makes it possible to act strategically as you work on your website.

Organic search is still incredibly valuable according to recent studies, so paying attention to your search engine placement is vital to your business success.

You’re too busy to spend time on website related activities that won’t improve your search engine placement. Besides knowing and understanding your customer’s needs and wants, Analytics data is your best free option.

Here’s more useful info about Google:

How Google Decides That You Deserve To Be On Page One

 

Image from Yahoo Small Business Advisor along with an interesting article

 

 

 

 

Himalayan Outback: An Example of Internet Marketing Success

Himalayan Outback is an adventure travel business located in northern India. We have  worked together via Skype for six years.

Himalayan Outback is a good example of the value of a robust internet marketing strategy.

Misty Dhillon is a master fly fishing guide and recognized authority on the Golden Mahseer, a highly prized sport fish. Himalayan Outback is a high end guide service, taking fishermen to remote fishing locations in northern India to catch and release this amazing fish.

By “high end” I mean first class accommodations and service, even in remote areas where tent camping is used.

When we first met, Himalayan Outback’s homepage looked like this: oldhimalayanoutback

Misty’s question to me was, “I’m a highly sought after fishing guide, yet most of my business is coming from other people’s websites. Why?”

We spent the next few months responding to that question and changing Himalayan Outbacks entire web presence to reflect the answers. Continue reading Himalayan Outback: An Example of Internet Marketing Success

WordPress Hacked! Back Up Your Site. Change Your Passwords.

wordpress logo with hacked over it This past weekend there was a major attack on WordPress websites targeting sites that are still using “admin” for their username. When you set up your WordPress site, that may have been what you were assigned. And once that username was set it couldn’t be changed.

So many of us WordPress users ignored it, set what we thought was a good password and continued to build our websites.

Big mistake! This current bot-net attack, which is an automated attack, sniffed out sites using that admin username and then set to work to crack our passwords. Not hard when you combine computerized code crackers with our tendency to create passwords we can easily remember!

What to do if you were hacked

If you were one of the unlucky ones, and your site has disappeared, contact a webmaster for help. Hopefully you’ve backed up your website and with a webmaster’s help can get it back up and running with minimum inconvenience.

NOTE: If you have a good backup system like the one I talk about below, you can do this yourself.

If you don’t have a current backup, a webmaster is essential, and the process of rebuilding your site will probably be costly. So sorry!

What to do if you weren’t hacked

 1. Change your username if you are still using “admin.”

Follow the step by step instructions at Digital K Blog.

Please note: After setting up your new username and strong password, you must log out and re-log in using your new password to be able to delete your old “admin” username. “Delete” will not show up if you don’t, and failing to delete that user still leaves your website open to a hacker. You have just set up 2 users  with administrative permission, with one STILL open for hackers to use.

2. Change your password to something strong, using letters, numbers, and symbols.

It’s impossible to remember a really strong password, and anything less is useless. Some of you have your passwords stored somewhere on your computer, but what if someone steals your computer??

In January, I switched to a cloud based password manager, LastPass. It’s free, secure and I never have to worry about remembering passwords. Occasionally I have to go to my password vault to retrieve a password, but it’s simple and secure. Here is a post about using a password manager: New Year’s Resolution: Get Serious About Internet Security.

3. Back up your website.

I suggest that you look at VaultPress. It is the backup system supported by the WordPress community so it seamlessly works with your WordPress website. It costs $40 a year, and it backs your site up automatically! That alone is worth $40 a year.

Your website is your digital storefront. All these precautions are similar to those you take to protect every aspect of your physical business. The steps outlined here are simple and doable – actually easier and more affordable than precautions you must take to protect other parts of your business.

Here is another article about protecting your website, with a few more simple precautions to add to your website security protocol:

 Hackers Love People Who Don’t Update Software!

 

 

 

 

 

iPiccy Wins For Simple and Doable Photo Editing

Knowing how to crop and resize photos is essential.

Whether you’re uploading photos to your website or creating a profile picture for Facebook or LinkedIn, you need to be able to crop and resize images.

With the huge allowable sizes for many of the photosharing sites, lots of you may be ignoring the importance of resizing those photos before you upload them to your own website. I mean if Facebook can handle anything, why can’t you??

Well, you can’t. Huge photos may be unnecessarily slowing down your website loading speeds. And with easy to use online photo editing options, there is no reason not to resize before you upload.

Some of you may be avoiding getting involved with a social media site because you don’t know how to resize a profile photo or how to create that big photo for your Facebook Timeline.

All this can be easily done using free online photo editing websites.

homepage ipiccyI have used iPiccy.com ever since PIcnik.com was swallowed by Google. Before giving it my unqualified stamp of approval, I decided to look at other options. Here’s what I discovered…

Picmonkey.com – It is easy to make basic changes to exposure and colors but not as easy to crop to the proportions you want. iPiccy wins this comparison pretty much hands down.

Pixlr.com has a palate that looks a lot like Photoshop. If you’re not familiar with Photoshop this is probably not the editor for you. If you are, check this site out. You might love it. For those of you who are just interested in easily resizing photos, again, iPiccy wins.

Photoscape is a downloadable program. You need to make a donation to get upgrades. I’m not interested in taking up space on my computer when I can use a program online, so I didn’t download and check it out. If you do, and like it, leave a comment.

FotoFlexer.com – Resizing and cropping to an exact size was not as easy as iPiccy. Also, the tools were across the top and I had to go to full screen to see the whole image. I’m looking for fast and easy. I’m sticking with iPiccy.

Lunapic.com – It’s easy to figure out how to upload, but again so many choices!

One feature I might come back to use is part of their crop tool. You can go to edit- crop image and you are given the option of removing a selected area and inpainting with the surrounding color. This is handy if you have a blemish on a photo right in the middle, so you can’t crop it out.

iPiccy wins!

So, after spending time looking at the field, I’m sticking with ipiccy.com. It’s simple, it’s easy to use and although there are tons of additional features, I don’t have to wade through them to crop and resize. They allow a certain amount of free photo storage, but is certainly not a good option for backing up your photo library.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Here’s another post talking about why resizing photos for your website is so important.

Is Your Small Business Website Speed Driving Customers Away?

 

 

 

What is a Responsive Website and Do I Need One?

smartphone river dancers websiteLet’s get the first part of this question answered immediately. A responsive website is one that adjusts its content to properly appear on any sized screen, smartphones, tablets like iPads and all sizes of computer screens.

How is this different from what you may have right now? Many websites are still created to look good only on a computer screen.

If someone accesses a non-responsive website on a smaller screen, they see a tiny version of that website. To read it or access the navigation menu, users have to enlarge the content using the touch screen. Use your smartphone to access your website. If it looks like a teeny tiny version, you have a non-responsive website.

Now that you’ve looked at your website on a smartphone screen, don’t panic immediately. Let’s answer the second question.

Do you need a responsive website?

The answer is, “yes.”

 Here’s why :

 1. Smartphones and tablets are becoming people’s primary screen of choice. Computer sales are dropping and mobile devices are increasing. If you want people to visit your website and stick around, you’ll need to adapt.

2. In the internet world change is the only constant. That website you had built 6 months ago or 5 years ago was never going to last without a comprehensive update. Technology is changing too fast.

3. Google rewards responsiveness in search results. Remember, Google is one of your most important partners in driving traffic to your website. Keeping Google happy is as important as keeping your customers happy.

So, my advice is this:

There are many ways to add responsiveness to an existing WordPress website. Do it.

If you’re building a new website from scratch, it must be responsive to compete in this fast-moving digital world. Screen sizes change with the rollout of the next smartphone version, and usage continues to grow for all types of pdas.

So, start preparing. Educate yourselves on responsiveness.  John Polacek does a great job of illustrating this on his presentation, “What the Heck is Web Responsive Design?”

 

Does Every Small Local Business Need a Website?

world wide web graphicLet me start by saying, “Yes, you do.”

My reason for saying this might surprise you.

Yes, it is about being where your customer is searching. And with mobile technology taking over and print media on the way out, the internet is where everyone goes.

More importantly, it is about having better control of what is being publicly displayed online about you and your business.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had small business owners tell me that they don’t want an online presence because they want to maintain their privacy. In one simple search I can show them that they’re already online, just not in control of that online presence.

Privacy as we know it so gone.

Brain Solis shows how “publicness” is the new norm and privacy as we know it is gone. in his post, The Erosion of Privacy and the Rise of Publicness…and why it’s a good thing,

In the Solis article experts talk about effectively taking control of your online presence which Solis calls “publicy.”

Module One of Take Control is a first step in that process.  Your website next. Why? Because this is one place where you have total control of your message, your publicy.

You get to portray yourself exactly the way you want others to see you, and you can link everything else on the net to that statement of “youness.” Nobody can block or ban or blacklist you there. Based on your optimization skills, everyone will be able to find you. It is your homebase on the internet.

The third module in the Take Control membership training program is, “Take Control of Your Website.

Does taking control mean that you need to start from scratch, or can you continue to make do with your old website?

Here are some points you can use to decide:

1. Are you truly in control of your website?

With old html sites, you probably have to go to a webmaster to do any updating. That means you are probably not updating very often, because it costs money.

If you aren’t able to update regularly, you are not in control, your webmaster and your pocketbook is.

Another problem that indicates you are not in control is not knowing how to access your website and what the passwords are for accomplishing that.

2. Do you like your website just the way it is?

An old website may be exactly perfect for your business’s needs. It provides the information your customer needs. And occasional updates don’t cost much. But…

3. Is that old website being found by search engines?

In order for it to be the ultimate statement of your publicy, it must show up on the search page one, when people are searching for your business or industry in your town. If it doesn’t, it isn’t doing its job.

If you aren’t updating regularly, or your old website isn’t properly optimized, your placement on search engines like Google will shift to the point that you are no longer being found by your customers.

To test this, do a Google search. Type in the words you know your customer is likely to use to search online for what you have to offer.

Think about the search as a very sophisticated phone book. Searching by keyword phrases is like using the yellow pages. Remember how challenging it was to make certain you were listed under the most appropriate categories in the yellow pages? Google is like the yellow pages on steroids! Not showing up on page one of a Google search is like not making it into the yellow pages in the proper category.

Search for any keyword phrase you believe potential customers might be using. If you don’t show up, you need to optimize your website.

You may find that your simplest, most cost effective solution is to create a new website.

With WordPress technology, this is something you can do for yourself, or get a webmaster to help you at a reasonable cost. With a little instruction, you will be able to add content and pictures and do updating yourself.

You’ll need some lessons in creating content, optimizing images and optimizing for search engines. You can do these things! They are not rocket science!

If you discovered that your website is still serving you well, keep it. Learn how to optimize it, and consider adding a blog to allow you to economically add fresh content.

Blogging isn’t difficult, but I realized that a little instruction can be helpful, so the first lessons in Module Four will teach you how to set up and maintain a blog.

Here are some past posts on websites that may help:

How Not To Design an Expensive Website that Probably Won’t Work Anyway

8 Reasons Why a Simple Website Is Best and Content Is King

How Small Local Businesses Take Advantage of Their Competitors’ Silence

The SEO Pyramid – Climb to a Better Website

 

Photo on Flickr by SEO Planter