Imagine you woke up this morning and your website was gone. Like literally gone. Disappeared. Vanished into thin air. POOF! Flatlined. Yes, that can actually happen. How? Well, there are a ton of reasons… your web hosting company went belly-up or they got hacked or somebody just pressed the wrong button… who knows. In any case, you need to back that thing up! Ahem… your website, that is.
Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT your hosting company’s responsibility to create and maintain a backup copy of your website, it’s YOURS. Some hosting companies do backup sites for their own protection but rarely make the copies available to their clients so it’s best that you do it yourself for your own peace of mind.
Here are a few tips for your backup plan…
Choose the Right Backup Method: There are many different ways to backup your site. It’s best to choose a method that works for your budget and schedule
- Manual backups in which you download your website to a file on your computer.
- Panel-based backups where you use your website’s control panel to save your files.
- Cloud backups allow you to save to services like Amazon S3 or Dropbox and you can access your files from any computer.
- Special backup software and/or automated solutions that you can pay for to have the ease of scheduled backups.
Determine a Backup Schedule: Whether it’s once a day or once a week, the idea is to backup as often as your website changes…or more. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Check Up On Your Backups: This is a step that is often forgotten. You may think that if you are backing up your site, that’s all you need to do. Every once in a while, it’s good to check your files just to be sure they are all there and there is no corrupt data or any weirdness going on. You just never know.
With a good backup plan you can ensure that if anything ever goes wrong, your site will return to its full, uninterrupted glory in a matter of minutes.
What’s your backup plan? Let us know how you are maintaining the safety of your website!
Now it’s time to give you something straight… no chaser! It’s about the quality and cost of a good and functional website, and you may or may not like it… but you need to know it, and you definitely need to know it before you hire a website designer/developer. You want your website to be good. You want it fast and you want it cheap. Here’s the thing… you can only have two. Having all three is impossible in this realm of existence.
Here’s an awesome little illustration that clearly illustrates how having the divine trifecta is a pipe dream. Yes, it says graphic design but the concept applies to your website as well.
But let’s break it down just a bit further, shall we?
First of all you have to define the “Good.” Good in website terms would basically be having an attractive and fully optimized website that does everything you’ve envisioned. Based upon that vision, you’ve got to determine how your schedule and budget fit into it.
Good and Fast will not be Cheap - To get the website of your dreams in a hurry, will mean that you hire quality designers that can drop everything they are doing to get you on the web, for a nice fee that will allow them to do so. What you want and how quickly you need it will determine the price, and “expensive” is relative. But know this, you will get what you pay for… in a good way.
Good and Cheap will not be Fast - Again, you will hire quality designers who will work within your budget but you will be threaded in with the other demanding clients. Not saying you’ll have to wait a long time or that your project will not be a priority, but the price will not allow them push you to VIP status.
Fast and Cheap will not be Good - Based upon the first two explanations, I think you can deduce that going this route will be a case of “you get what you pay for”… but not in a good way. It won’t be awful, but it won’t ideally be what you wanted for your website or business.
It’s your call. Is effectiveness important? or efficiency? Cost or quality? It’s good to be aware of your objectives and the time and dollar cost required to make those objectives happen.
Landing pages can be a very important part of your marketing strategy. Essential, even. They are, in essence, what turns a website visitor into a company customer. A landing page is where your potential customer lands after clicking a link from your website, an ad, or an eNewsletter. A landing page is usually dedicated to a specific product or service related to the content the visitor was just reading that caused them to click and find out more. The greatest thing about landing pages is that people arrive there because they wanted to… it was their choice to click the link; so there is a greater chance they really want be there, and do whatever it is you are asking them to do… buy now, request a demo, sign up, register for the event, etc.
Creating landing pages allows you to target your audience, offer them something of value, and convert a higher percentage of your visitors into leads, while also capturing information about who they are and what they’ve converted on. ~Hubspot
Getting them to land is just the first step. From there, you’ve got to make visitors want to take the next step to becoming a customer. So how do we get them to stick the landing?
Here’s a video from Ezine Articles with some great tips on creating effective landing pages…
(Sign up for your free website audit here)
In our last installment of this series we discussed happy homepages and how the digital “front door” should invite people in an get them to stay awhile. It is important to carry the concepts of the happy homepage throughout your entire website. According to Hubspot, most websites have a 30-60% bounce rate… meaning that a large majority of web traffic entering your website leaves without navigating to any other pages. And many times they may never come back. Why? Because, believe it or not, most people judge a company’s credibility by the looks of their website.
We talked about the aesthetic elements you should have on your homepage, but now we’ll take them a step further to apply to your entire website.
Colors - Just like with your homepage, your color scheme should match your brand and be consistent throughout the website. You definitely should use color to make things stand out, but be careful not to go overboard. You make too much “stand out” and nothing stands out. It just looks gawdy.
Text - Keep your text font and size consistent. Not too big and not too small. Titles, subtitles, and body text should be the same on every page. Same goes for tabs and links in the navigation and sidebars. Make sure the font is legible. There’s nothing worse than a “creative” font that nobody can read.
Layout - Just as with the homepage, the whole website should be easy for visitors to get around. Clear navigation. Avoid too much white space. Avoid too much “clutter.”
Gadgets, Media, and Other Stuff - Nothing “clutters” a website more than too many unnecessary elements. Flash backgrounds and automatic pop-ups, and music playing certainly gets attention but more often than not is flat out annoying. A few well-placed (and appropriately size) images, a video (not on autoplay) should be more than sufficient.
Keeping design elements and content style consistent is key in driving and keeping traffic. How is your website looking these days? Let us take a look at it! Sign up for your free website audit here.
We are starting a new series on “What Makes A Website.” Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore the elements that are must-haves on your website and the do’s (and don’ts) to make it great.
An obvious first place to start… the Homepage. The first page of your website that everyone sees when they land on your URL. It is, in essence, a “dashboard” for visitors to get to know your business at first glance. The window to your company’s soul. The warm welcome everyone will receive.
So, what makes a happy homepage? Here are some tips…
When people land on your website, they should immediately be able to figure out who you are and what you do
Branding – Your logo, company name, and slogan/tagline (if applicable) should be prominently placed. At the top of your site is usually best and images/text not too big or too small. Colors should match and not be too overbearing.
Images - In general, most people are “visual” in nature. Use images or stock photos to illustrate what your business does. Show as well as tell.
Once someone arrives at your page, what is it you want them to do? What do you want them to know?
Navigation - It should be very easy for visitors to move about your site and gain access to the information they want. Not only that, you should also use the navigation to direct them to the information you want them to have. Basic navigation to website pages should be clear and obvious with menu bars or tabs near the top of the page. Other “call-to-action” items should be well placed to get attention but not overshadow main content.
Search - While you hope your navigation will be enough, sometimes it’s not. You’ll want to have a way to search your site for any information. A simple search box on the page, above the fold, is a simple solution.
Content and Language - The idea is to communicate your company’s objectives, make a great impression, and provide a great user experience. The design and imagery of your site draws them in and make them want to read more. Now, what they read should be dynamic. Give just enough to convey your business message but also leave them wanting more. Give them the reason to click that “Contact Us” or “Request a Demo” or “Learn More” button.
Is your homepage happy? Let us know!
Hopefully you’ve now had the opportunity to explore the different social media platforms. You’ve found where your audience “lives” and have researched their conversations and sharing patterns. You’ve created an engagement strategy that is directly in line with your business and marketing goals. Now, it’s time to monitor and manage the process and progress. You’d think that would take a lot of time out of a small business’s already busy day, right? Actually, no.
Our good friends at Hubspot have put together a fantastic text and audio eBook on how to monitor your social media in just ten minutes per day.
This ebook will teach you the most important elements you should be monitoring across relevant social media networks. We will suggest a few practical habits you can execute while sipping your morning coffee. After reading or listening to this 20-page ebook, you’ll know:
- How to best spend your time monitoring social media
- How other marketers are spending time on social media
- What tools consolidate your social media information
- What you should be monitoring on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
Download this FREE resource from Hubspot today and save time while streamlining your social media presence.
Marketing Grader is one of the free tools that we use to assess websites and their weaknesses. Simply enter the URL to your website, and you’ll have a handy report in just a few seconds. You can even compare your site to competing sites so you know how your site compares in specific areas.
A few examples of metrics the report brings to light:
Top of the Funnel
- How your site resonates with search engines and social
- If your site is robust enough to grab traction with search
- How popular your site is with the rest of the world
Middle of the Funnel
- How easy it is to convert or connect with you on your site
- How integrated your content is on your site
- How active you are in driving traffic through social channels
- How traffic to your site compares to traffic from similar sites
The report gives you some great ideas for improving your site content for really making your website an effective and efficient tool to take your business to the next level. While it’s not a comprehensive 5-year marketing plan for your business, it does give you next steps you could take immediately to poise your website to better interface with your target. And that drives business.
Imagine this: you’re pouring your heart into writing a lengthy post in a web form, and it’s a thing of beauty. You’re inspired. You’re typing faster and faster, eager to get your message to the masses. And you know they are going to be just as emblazoned as you are after reading your insight. You give it a once-over, and, satisfied that it’s a work of art, press submit. Only to discover that the page has timed out and you’ve lost everything you just wrote! Gone are those days. Google Docs provides a great way to write, edit, and manage your content, and it auto-saves for you at regular intervals.
Google Docs also makes it really easy to bring collaborators into a project by sharing documents, either individually or as a group, with those who will be working on your project. Here’s Corey Eridon’s post on Free Tools for Business Bloggers, with more detailed instructions for collaborating with a team on Google Docs.
Christie, a member of the YDO team, posted few weeks ago about using Video and YouTube in your blog posts for greater impact. I couldn’t agree more! And here’s another plug for using video in your blog posts, from Corey Eridon at Hubspot (see post below). There are several free tools available, and a few tools that are paid but are really, really good (see Camtasia).
Sometimes, words just aren’t sufficient to make your point as a business blogger, and you need to pull in the power of video. Thing is, you’re not a video editor, and you don’t have all the fancy shmancy equipment to do the job. No problem! There are free, extremely user-friendly video editing programs out there that can help you edit your video footage for your blog posts. Our very own internal video guy recommends iMovie for Mac users, and Windows Movie Maker for PC users. And you’re in luck, they’ve both written clear guides on how to use the programs! Click here for the Windows Movie Maker user guide, and visit this page for a series of iMovie tutorial videos.
Thanks to Allen Tucker for detailing why it makes sense to avoid the guy selling his services dirt-cheap via a yard sign on the side of a highway exit ramp, and opt instead to pay the expert who really knows what he’s doing. Here’s an excerpt from his recent post:
When you overpay, you are first in line. Your stuff gets made first, and the other guy’s stuff gets done when there’s time. It gets rushed. Many of the intangible pieces that make up the quality of a product or service go out the door when we’re getting a deal. They’re doing a favor and sometimes when we bargain, people resent us.
What if we always sought out the best of the best? Rather than hiring the guy down the street to do our marketing, we go out and find the best firm in the country? Won’t the best firm end up paying for itself even if it costs way more? At the same time, won’t our lives be easier?