7 Small Business SEO Tips

website-8-traffic-sources

Every year SEO gets more complicated as Google rolls out updates and changes the rules. This is especially frustrating for small business owners who don’t have the time or resources to stay current in, what they believe to be, an esoteric and confusing industry.

Here are seven small business SEO tips to help earn more business through traditional organic search rankings.

1. Onsite SEO is Necessary But Not Sufficient

Yes, optimizing title tags, site structure (keep it flat) and load-speed are important. Many experiments have shown these elements are in the Google algorithm.

Don’t obsess. Hire someone to run an assessment and tune up the site; then move-on. Far too many small businesses get stuck at the starting line.

2. Website Content & Experience Are Critical

We have all read that “content is king,” but what does that really mean?

Your website must have engaging content for the end-user. The importance of this can’t be overstated. It will impact time-on-site, conversion and SEO (engaging content is more likely to be shared and linked to).

It is also critical because it orients the small business webmaster towards offering something of value. Thin content leaves a bad footprint, both onsite and offsite.

3. Use Content Marketing to Earn Backlinks

Most small business owners are savvy enough to know that 70 percent of their search engine rankings are the result of backlinks. Being a pragmatic bunch, they then ask “where can I buy some?”

Don’t buy backlinks – it also leaves a bad footprint.

Small business marketers need to earn links, and content marketing is extremely effective for gaining earned links. The trick is in the trade. Something of value must be offered.

Quality content containing humor, information, controversy, politics or training usually brings backlinks – and is definitely considered acceptable SEO.

4. Know Your Backlink Profile

There has been healthy debate recently about the changing role of anchor text in the Google algorithm. Even if the importance is fading, it is clearly still a factor.

Small businesses should know their backlink profiles. A lack of branded anchors and brand mentions is a clear signal of manipulation, and therefore a rank killer.

Healthy businesses market their brands through press releases and are discussed in forums by name. This all leaves a good footprint.

Co-citation is also a sign of a natural backlink profile. Strong companies are mentioned in the same paragraph as other strong brands.

Articles with a single anchored link to a website with low domain authority sticks out like a sore thumb. Google can spot these insubstantial articles and weighs the links accordingly, or worse.

5. Create Buzz Through Community Building

While the term link bait is perhaps overused, it is considered an acceptable activity by Google. This is because the activity is aimed toward creating a positive end-user experience.

Without a community element, link baiting is hard to distinguish from content marketing. Developing a community (best if done onsite) is perhaps the best link bait of all because the community starts to develop the content in ways no SEO consultant could ever think of.

This is truly organic, extremely natural, and helps SEO.

6. Quality Over Quantity

It is tempting to fall for the email solicitations for large quantities of inexpensive links. But we all know where that got JCPenney.

The SEO industry isn’t like the automobile industry, where automation is praised as a gain in efficiency. Automation in SEO is bad because Google says it is. They believe it results in a poorer end-user experience, an argument that has merit.

Small businesses may not like this rule, but they do need to respect it if they want to see increases in rankings.

7. Review the SEO Reports

Small business owners are busy, but that is no excuse for not knowing what the SEO consultant is doing. It’s important to digest the monthly reports for a couple of reasons:

  • The results should be moving in the right direction. Don’t expect miracles, just monthly progress.
  • The monthly reports should demonstrate that the SEO team is executing with a disciplined process. Small business should not foot the bill for experiments. There is enough risk facing small business owners already.

Conclusions

Google is a computer, largely, and needs to be thought of as such. The major elements in the algorithm are fairly well understood.

While it’s true that updates are frequent and the rules of the game do shift, the major elements of onsite SEO and backlinks have been the fuel for better rankings for years. Follow these seven small business SEO tips to earn better rankings and build a community around your brand. And ignore the rest as noise.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

8 Best-Practices for Small Business Websites

Everything you “know” about social media for small business is wrong.

Small businesses—accountants, lawyers, and brick-and-mortar shops—don’t need 5,000 Facebook fans, Diggs, or blogs that are updated daily. They need business. You know, clients, customers, shoppers, or whatever you want to call them.

How do small businesses use social media to get more clients and customers?

It’s much easier than you think, and to demonstrate that, I analyzed 10 of my most successful small business clients, and discovered these 8 best-practices. Oh, and the best part is this: you can implement most of these tips in a long weekend.

Now let’s dive in.

1. Use Videos on Your Website

When you’re a small, local business, your main strength is your personality. To highlight that, you should create videos so that your local customers can “meet” you before they hire or buy something from you.

What kind of videos can you create? One client, Total Plumbing Orlando, created instructional videos like “How to Fix Your Sink.” This was great because if people in the area used his video to fix their sink, they wouldn’t hesitate to call for a more complicated job.

If you don’t want to create instructional videos, create testimonial videos. If you made one of your customers extremely happy, encourage them to film a quick testimonial video that you can show other potential customers.

Also, you don’t need a high-tech, expensive video camera. Most of my clients used a Flip Cam or equivalent and demonstrated a garage-band ethos. It may not look professional, but it got the job done just fine.

As an aside, I noticed that the small businesses with 3 or more videos on their website reported having greater success with their online marketing efforts. While this was hardly a scientific study, my gut says the more videos the better.

2. Promote Your Phone number and Email Everywhere

When you work with a local business, you want a person with a soul who has your back. And how do you show people you have a soul? Make it extremely easy to contact you by placing your phone number and email address in your header, footer, and sidebar.

One of our clients, the international Tax Attorney Phil Hodgen, puts his cellphone number at the end of almost everything he writes online. He says “I get a lot of calls and it often turns into good business.”

3. Use WP-Sticky or a Static Page for the Home Page

When someone visits your website from search, they often visit your home page. Additionally, your loyal customers will often visit your home page, too.

The question is, how should you design your homepage? After reviewing my clients’ sites, the small businesses that did best used a home page that sells.

For example, Tim Blankenship, a real estate agent from Santa Clarita California, began using the WP-Sticky plugin to display some copy before people saw the traditional blog posts and the number of calls he got went up dramatically.

What’s the key takeaway? The traditional blog format is great for news websites because their core business is giving people the latest news. However, as a small business you’ll want your homepage to tell people what you’re about and what they can buy from you because that’s your core business.

4. Publish High Quality Content

Small businesses aren’t media companies, meaning, you don’t have to use Twitter or blog several times per day to build the right kind of audience.

As a matter of fact, my most successful small business clients created around 24 pages or posts per year (2 per month).

Think about it. Do you care if your accountant uses Twitter or blogs 3 times per day? Probably not. You want them to do your taxes. So, if you’re the accountant, publish less often and keep the content high quality.

5. Create Effortless, Predictable Navigation

When you create your website’s navigation, you should make it predictable and easy-to-use because people want to browse your website effortlessly.

How can you keep your navigation predictable? Place it where people expect to find it, which is at the top of the page or in the left sidebar.

Also, when you create the navigation, use the words people are accustomed to seeing. For example, if people want to reach you, they’ll look for “Contact” or “Contact Us.” If you use something clever like “Holla at me” you may lose potential customers.

6. Publicize Other Small Businesses

Have you ever walked into a local business and noticed a table with business cards from other local businesses? Of course. It happens everywhere. Local shoppers want to know about other local businesses.

Online it’s no different. People who shop local want to discover other local businesses, so help them do that by sharing links to other local businesses.

Should you worry about giving out too many links? Maybe, but after looking at my clients’ websites, I noticed most local businesses shared more links than they received from others. This helped because linking to pillars of the community make people think you’re a pillar, too.

7. Include Several Calls-to-Action On Your Website

If you’re creating a website to gather leads or interact with potential customers, make sure you’re clear on what you want your prospects to do.

Want your customers to buy your product? Ask them. Want them to contact you? Show them where they can do it.

Overall, inviting people to call or buy your products is important. Some people may not even realize it’s an option unless you specifically tell them that it is an option.

8. Establish Credibility

The consensus online is that you must give away something, like a white-paper, to get leads. However, when you’re a local business, that simply isn’t true. Being local and credible is enough.

For example, if you’re a plumber, it doesn’t matter if you wrote an ebook on how to be a plumber. Instead, you’re going to want a conversation with your customer—that’s why you use video.

Heck, you don’t even need that much content. All you have to do is look credible and show your customers that you have their back.

Note, sometimes a free ebook helps gather leads if it’s about the right topic. For example, if you’re a plumber, an ebook that explains the differences between a good plumber and a bad plumber would be pure gold if you’re positioning yourself as the good plumber.

The Bottom Line

After analyzing my top small business client websites, these 8 best-practices were used almost through-and-through.

The funny thing is, conventional wisdom, “have a blog, post often, and get massive traffic,” wasn’t true in almost any case.

So, if you’re running a small business website, consider straying from what people say is right and try out what actually works for small businesses.

Do you run a small business website? What have you noticed that worked for your customers?

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

10 Characteristics of Good Web Designers

There’s а lot оf web designers оut there. Hоw dо уоu knоw thаt thе оnе you’re thinking аbоut hiring іѕ а great one? Hеrе аrе 10 characteristics tо look for:

1. They’re great listeners – Thе mоѕt important characteristic оf а great web designer іѕ thе ability tо listen аnd understand whаt уоur nееdѕ are. Great designers аrе аblе figure оut whаt you’re talking аbоut іf еvеn уоu don’t. Thеу аlѕо knоw thе rіght questions tо аѕk іn order tо dig deeper іntо whаt уоu wаnt аnd need.

2. Thеу respect уоur ideas – A great designer іѕ аlwауѕ wеlсоmе tо hearing аbоut аnу ideas thаt уоu mіght have. Thе bеѕt designers encourage уоu tо share уоur ideas wіth thеm аnd іf роѕѕіblе integrate thеm іntо thе final design. Thеу аlѕо respect уоu wеll еnоugh tо explain whу аn idea won’t work аnd саn dо ѕо іn а manner thаt nеіthеr belittles уоur оr embarrasses you.

3. Thеу communicate well – Aѕ wеll аѕ thе ability tо listen, thе ability tо communicate wеll аnоthеr characteristic оf а great web designer. Thеу ѕhоuld bе аblе tо explain web terminology аnd technologies іn plain English.

4. Thеу аrе wеll versed іn Internet аnd web technologies – Thе bеѕt web designers аrе vеrу knowledge аnd proficient іn thе technologies оf thе web аnd іn thе tools uѕеd іn building website. Great web designers аrе wеll versed іn coding іn HTML, developing graphics fоr thе web, designing layouts іn CSS, maintaining websites, аnd working wіth multimedia.

5. Thеу uѕе technology tо achieve specific goals – There’s а difference bеtwееn bеіng proficient аnd knowledgeable аbоut аll thе latest web technologies аnd knowing whеn аnd whеrе tо uѕе them. Nоt оnlу аrе great web designers knowledgeable аbоut аll thіngѕ web, but thеу аrе аlѕо wise еnоugh tо knоw whаt techniques аnd technologies аrе аррrорrіаtе fоr а раrtісulаr site.

6. Thеу kеер business goals іn mind аѕ wеll аѕ design goals – Thеrе аrе а lot оf vеrу talented designers thаt саn mаkе beautiful lооkіng websites. But thе bеѕt web designers nоt оnlу knоw hоw tо create а beautiful website, but thеу аlѕо knоw hоw tо mаkе аn effective оnе аѕ well. Thеу remember thаt уоur website isn’t а billboard fоr thеіr design, but а showcase fоr уоur work оr уоur product. Thеу аlѕо knоw thаt уоur site nееdѕ tо attract visitors, encourage sales оr sales leads, tо inform, оr еvеn tо entertain.

7. They’re nоt afraid tо suggest thіngѕ thаt wіll save уоu time аnd money – A great web designer іѕ vеrу cautious аbоut uѕіng уоur time аnd уоur money. Thеу аrе happy tо suggest а solution thаt wіll save уоu time аnd money, еvеn іf іt ultimately means lеѕѕ money fоr them.

8. Thеу hаvе а cohesive, visually pleasing design aesthetic – Of соurѕе а great designer muѕt hаvе thе ability tо create beautiful lооkіng designs. Thе websites thеу build muѕt bе attractive, easy tо gеt аrоund on, аnd easy tо alter іf уоu nееd tо add оr delete sections. Thе color choices muѕt bе pleasing tо thе eye аnd easy tо read text on. A great designer ѕhоuld аlѕо hаvе thе ability tо design fоr а range оf aesthetics аnd moods.

9. They’re аblе tо create а site thаt integrates wіth аn existing design – If уоu аlrеаdу hаvе brochures, logos, оr packaging fоr уоur work а great web designer ѕhоuld bе аblе tо hаvе уоur website match thаt look. Evеn іf you’ve uѕеd аnоthеr designer tо develop уоur business cards аnd packaging, а great web designer саn develop уоur site ѕо іt lооkѕ lіkе оnе designer hаѕ dоnе everything.

10. Thеу hаvе а clear development process – Great designers hаvе bееn thrоugh thе web building process оvеr аnd оvеr again. Thеу knоw thе pitfalls аnd саn tаkе steps tо avoid them. They’ve dоnе еnоugh websites tо bе аblе tо predict еасh step оf thе development process аnd ѕhоuld bе аblе tо соmе uр wіth а fаіrlу accurate estimate оf hоw muсh аnd hоw long а раrtісulаr website wіll take.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

7 Steps to Find the Best Web Designer for Your Project

There are thousands of web designers and an infinite number of projects a designer could design. How can you find the perfect designer for your project? Let’s be honest, we all want the same results. A well designed, professional look and feel, in double quick time and at a reasonable cost.

But how do you find that elusive web professional? Recommendations from friends or colleagues is the way most people prefer to find any worker. The spectre of poor results, a bad worker or paying too much money means we will go for the safe option every time. However, what if you can’t get any recommendations?

The following 7 step process will help you turn a perfect stranger into the amazing find you tell everyone about.

Scope the work – the secret to getting the results you want from any worker you employ are the 3 P’s; planning, preparation and precision. Before taking any action think carefully about exactly what you want to achieve. You need to be crystal clear on this. It’s no good saying ‘I’m not sure. I’ll know when I see it’. Although there is a way to overcome this, as you’ll see when I talk about choosing your marketplace. You will need to know,

  • Do you want both design and coding done? They are separate skills. You can employ a designer and a programmer, or you can get both done by the same person or organisation
  • Do you want search engine optimised design? They are also separate skills and you could employ an SEO professional. I recommend SEO optimised design
  • Is it a website or a blog? If it’s a website, you will need a CMS (Content Management System), unless you want to pay the designer every time you want to change anything on your website. With a CMS, you are in control
  • If the design is for a blog, which platform do you want to use? I recommend wordpress
  • Do you know what content you will add to your site? The content is more important than the design, so the content should come first. Know what will be on the site before you design it
  • Will you need hosting or do you already have your own web host? Many designers and design firms can provide you with hosting
  • Do you have a domain name or do you want the designer to find one? I recommend you choose the name yourself. A search on godaddy will tell you if your name idea is available. If you get the designer to register the domain name, make sure it’s registered in your name, not his.

Choose your marketplace – there are many different ways of employing a designer, but I’ll keep the discussion to three ways, and then focus on what I think is the best method. You could use a design firm, a freelance designer or a design contest. The design firm is usually more expensive, but then they can take care of everything. I don’t recommend this unless you really have no clue about websites or have a big budget.

Employing a freelancer to complete your project is the cheapest option and you can get outstanding results. There are pitfalls for the unwary, but then this 7 step process will take care of them. There are thousands of web design professionals ready to work for you and this is the method I recommend and will use as an example.

There are several marketplaces to find freelancers. elance was the the first with over 500, 000 contractors for hire. peopleperhour is perfect for small businesses. They have more than 150,000 freelancers for projects of any size. And odesk has nearly a million contractors and a unique way of working. To learn more watch this week’s featured video or see my article on the odesk advantage. I will use odesk to show you how the process works as I have experience of using this site.

Design contests are a relatively new way of getting freelancers, or web design firms, to compete for your business.99designs runs contests and it’s easy. You compile your design brief, review and provide feedback, then pick a winner. After you describe your requirements, dozens of designers submit web page design concepts and you only pay for the web page design you like the best. You also choose the price, which starts at $495. And if you really are not sure what you want, a design contest will give you plenty of ideas.

Prepare a brief – this a short but concise description of what you want. It doesn’t matter if you use a freelancer, design contest or design firm, you want to write a brief. It needs to be committed to paper, not in your head. Several paragraphs should be sufficient. Don’t make it war and peace. You should include,

  • A broad but concise description of the website niche, number of pages and audience
  • The scope of the work – design, coding, CMS, domain name registration, etc
  • The ideal visitor profile and what he or she will expect to find or do
  • Content types, such as video, audio, articles, images, documents
  • Style or ‘look and feel’ you would like – provide example websites you like
  • How long you think it should take and your budget

The last item is a little tricky. You may not have a budget or know how long it should take.  My advice is to study other people’s briefs and projects and see what they have done. You could hedge your bets by quoting a price range or give a rough estimate. Difficult or not, you must set clear guidelines on cost and time.

Submit your brief – the process will vary depending upon the marketplace. If you submit a brief to odesk, within hours you will get many contractors bid on your project. This is where thorough research is needed on your part. Don’t rush this bit. You want to study each contractor and their complete profile.

Odesk is excellent and provides a ton of crucial information. You get a photo, a name, an overview of their skills and experience, recent work history and client feedback, tests taken & results obtained, recent job applications, resume and details of their portfolio for you to study. And you get the rate they are offering. You should know that odesk will add 10% to this rate. So, if they offer $10 an hour, you will pay odesk $11. You also know where they live, how many contracts they’ve completed, how many hours they have worked and a client feedback rating system where 5 stars is the best. This is enough to give you a complete picture.

Study every contractor who bids on your project and then choose a shortlist. Now it’s time to make contact with them. I like to call this the evaluation stage.

Evaluate – staying with odesk, they have a messaging system, which is email-based. This is an opportunity for you to satisfy yourself that a contractor has the skills and can do the work in a timely fashion. Ask questions. Dig a little deeper. This is the trick to finding a good fit for you and your project. For example,

  • What is your greatest skill?
  • Which part of web design work do you love the most?
  • Can you create good quality work to a deadline?
  • Have you done any design projects in this niche before?

Now you think of some questions. Make sure the replies give you a feeling of confidence. You want to be confident you’ve chosen the right person for the job. Once you’ve asked your questions, I recommend either organising an interview or setting a test task. The interview could be done with skype. Geography should not be a barrier. Or you could set a simple test task and offer to pay so you can see the results before deciding.

Set expectations – once you’ve chosen your web designer, now you need to set clear expectations. This is the precision part of the 3 Ps. It will benefit both parties. The contractor will know exactly what he must provide and you will know you’ve been clear about the results you expect. How do you achieve it? With a working document or blueprint. Yes, more writing. You could record an audio or a video instead. What should it include?

Start with the brief you’ve already written and expand it. The brief was a summary document and the blueprint is a detailed description of what you want to achieve. I would also recommend providing the designer with,

  • A simple line drawing or description of how you want the home page to look (a video would work)
  • The structure of the intended navigation and each of the pages of the site
  • A copy of the logo in photoshop or fireworks format, if you already have one, or a detailed description of your ideal logo if you want the designer to create one for the website
  • Either the actual content you want on the home page or some boilerplate content
  • A checklist of what you expect; 15 pages, SEO optimised, domain name, CMS, logo, etc

This may seem like a lot of work, but believe me, the clearer and more precise you make your work instructions, the better the results will be. Only the creative elements should be left to the skill of the designer to decide.

Provide feedback – if there are several elements to the design, or even if it’s just a home page design, there will be communication between you and the designer before the job is delivered. Always give positive feedback at every opportunity. Designers are people, and like us, they want to know they are doing a good job. Let them know. Don’t wait until it’s delivered and then grumble that it’s not what you wanted. Stay involved.

With design contests, you should be watching as designers create your project and actively give feedback. You will get much better results that are closer to what you envisaged. If you have engaged a web professional on odesk, you are able to look at the work they are doing. It’s unique to odesk and a part of their management system. Take an interest in what they’ve done every day and provide feedback to them. Keep them on-track.

Before you know it, you’ll have exactly the results you want, instead of being disappointed. And it’s no mystery, because you’ve taken control every step of the way, and made sure what you want is crystal clear.

This is how you find the best web designer for your project.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

9 Essential Principles for Small Business Websites

An online presence is crucial to a small business, but getting it wrong can do more damage than good. Here are some tips for creating the perfect website

Credit card by computer

A good business website will attract visitors and convert them into paying customers.

In its annual survey of small businesses, the government revealed that the number employing nine people or fewer now stands at a massive 4.5m. Between them, they are involved in more than £600bn pounds of commerce.

Inevitably, the tightening jobs market, with its ever-shrinking number of permanent, full-time positions, is playing a role as increasing numbers of fledgling entrepreneurs set up their own businesses and create their own work.

It’s a crowded and highly competitive field, with small companies fighting tooth and nail to attract the attention of would-be customers. At the risk of stating the obvious, a quality website is essential if you want your business to punch above its weight.

Unfortunately, on this point there’s a mixture of good and bad news. On the positive front, bOnline‘s survey of 10,000 British micro-businesses has shown they’re more digitally aware than previously believed, with 81% running a website. Hitherto, estimates tended to hover around the 50% mark.

Despite their enthusiasm to get online, most of these sites – a worrying 80% – simply aren’t fit for purpose in today’s digital age. The vast majority of micro-businesses are using sites that are based on out-of-date technology. They tend to be “static”, limited to five pages and offer no content management. Hence they can’t perform basic but essential marketing tasks, such as posting photos and publishing customer testimonials.

The end result is their site ranks very low on a Google search – and even when they do attract visitors, they rarely convert them to paying customers as they project a poor image online. These businesses are effectively operating off-line and are missing huge opportunities to grow.

Of the businesses we speak to, 90% want to do more in this area – but most don’t know how they can start the process without spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds. With this in mind, here are the four essential points you must bear in mind when setting up your website.

Dynamic content

A dynamic and up-to-date website will be more relevant to a visitor and it will also give repeat visitors a reason to return. News, specials and testimonials are a few ways of making a website more exciting and dynamic. And best of all, updating your content regularly makes it more search-engine friendly.

Customer management tools

Some websites come with CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities to help manage your existing customers. Tools – such as a customer contact list, email marketing, custom enquiry forms and SMS alerts – will significantly improve your ability to stay in contact and engage your customers. And if your site has an appointments-booking system, you can enjoy a big boost in productivity while also improving customer experience with email confirmations and text reminders.

Professional design

First impressions count, and a professionally designed website with professional images makes all the difference. An important factor many people overlook is the colour of a site. Whether it’s a subtle hint to complement your logo – or a full patterned background – the right colour scheme plays a big role in catching a visitor’s eye. Unfortunately, a lot of amateur web designers go overboard when it comes to choosing a colour palette.

It’s also worth remembering that high-quality images make a great first impression and can help make your site look professional. Pictures of your products and services can clearly showcase what you can offer customers. And the use of top-quality images also offers another advantage: your business is more likely to get noticed on image-heavy media sites such as Pinterest.

The importance of visibility

With nearly 130 million websites in the UK alone, the internet is becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace. You must make your website visible to your customers and the way to do this is to climb search engine results, the king of which remains Google.

If your website hasn’t been optimised to help it up the rankings, you can’t independently reach out and help potential customers find you; instead you’re relying on them stumbling across you by chance. If this description fits you, despite having a website, you’re effectively working off-line and in the dark.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Visit wittycookie.com to get started.

8 Tips on How to Find a Good Web Design Company

An  effective web site will attract customers to your business, generates sales leads and close sales – multiplying your profits along the way. Professional web site design firms must combine unique and innovative design with state-of the-art technology and support to make a powerful website package that produces results.

Before hiring a web designer, think about the following 10 tips so your website will get results:

  1. Web Site Design Fees Should Be Linked To Results
    Effective web design companies often offer flat fees, hourly billing, or fixed subscriptions for software design and installation. It’s never advisable to type in into open-ended billing relationships with Web site designers until the maintenance phase associated with the project.
  2. Smart Web Designers and Developers Make Billing Easy
    An experienced web-design company makes payment easy for the client, and accepts payment through checks and major credit cards. Turn the other way if a company takes cash.
  3. A Web Design Company Shares Its Work
    Professional design companies encourage their designers to stay in portfolios representing their full capacity work, client information and testimonials. You possibly can request portfolios to assess the potency of the business enterprise s internet page design solutions.
  4. Flexible Website Designers Use Time Saving Technology
    Quality web design teams support the employment of inexpensive and time saving technology. This consists of open source publishing and e-commerce tools like WordPress for handling Weblogs and corporate information pages, osCommerce for online shopping features and Zope for building customized content management and customer interaction tools. These power tools enable businesses to achieve professional standards while saving time and money.
  5. Efficient Web Site Design Professionals Blend Stock and Scratch sources
    Efficient website designers always maintain a set of stock templates and images to speed up work. When designing a website for getting a client, they select an appropriate stock template and customize it from the beginning in order to meet client-specific requirements and be sure uniqueness and freshness in design.
  6. The Best Quality Web Developers Understand Standards and Accessibility
    The designed website should go along with both web standards like standards for interface design and browser accessibility, and state and federal guidelines along the lines of providing accessibility features for a particular visually impaired and the ones suffering along with other medical insufficiencies. Experienced Web designers might also want to ensure SEO optimization of the web page and get away from it from become inaccessible and unusable.
  7. A Good Internet Page Design Company Gets Honest about Rates and Turnaround Time
    Even the very best efficient Web site designers can combine only two of three of the features (Top of the range, speed and low cost) when coming up with your web-site. Professional internet page design teams will give you accurate estimates about their rates, speed and turnaround time. Firms that happen to be higher in price often have smaller waiting lists. If the required time is on the market, you can obtain a top of the line website with just one lower cost. Go with a Internet page design firm that meets your business needs.
  8. Effective Web Site Designers communicate well
    Experienced web-designers support multiple modes of communication for interacting with their clients. Phone, email and skype are all common methods but they may also have a helpdesk system or even live chat. In accordance with your requirements, you need the communication method you wish best.Paying attention to Results sets Premier Website Design Professionals Apart

Effective Web site designers go along with their above-mentioned practices. Even more important, they make clients feel at ease about wading into unfamiliar waters. Definitely the right Internet page design firm can enable your online business to avoid wasting hard earned money and valuable time.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Why is it important to have a website for your business?

With over 2.2 billion people online, the internet has revolutionized how we find and share information. The online world is moving at a rapid pace and doesn’t show any signs of slowing. For businesses, a web presence has become a fundamental part of success. But why is a presence on the web so important? How significant is the impact of being online? We’re glad you asked.

After several years with Fidelity Investments, in 1996 Richard Sexton decided to step away from the corporate world and follow his passion by opening Himal Home Gallery, a local home furnishings store in his hometown of North Carolina.

“I didn’t have any experience in running a retail operation. [The] learning curve had its fair share of mistakes,” Sexton said. “Going online early and choosing to use Google products were some of the better moves.”

During the ‘90s, no one knew for certain if there was a place for small businesses online or if they could find success there. But Sexton took the chance and launched a website for Himal Home Gallery.  The online presence gave Sexton’s small business a great deal of attention and the small shop took off. In 2000, Sexton relaunched the furniture store as Carolina Rustica, focusing primarily on wrought-iron furniture, their best selling item.

“We started with a small 500 square-foot booth in an antique mall and now our gallery is almost 20,000 square feet,” Sexton said. “Through the web, we could reach a much larger audience, and we began to invest in marketing activities that could connect us with us potential customers. I am very happy with the results. Our sales have increased 50% year on year.”

Carolina Rustica is just one of the many small businesses that found great success establishing an online presence.  But can their model apply to other business types? Can business that don’t sell products online still find a success with a website? Is having a business website really that important?

Yes, absolutely.

Never before has the world been able to connect across the globe and interact so easily. Think about the last time you needed to know something, anything — chances are you went to look it up online. The Internet has completely changed the way we live and how we gather information. Not only is it now our primary source of information, but it has revolutionized the way businesses operate and communicate with customers.

Websites and the online tools that promote them should be the focal point of all advertising and marketing for all businesses, big or small. Here’s why:

Because people are online. If you’re looking for an audience, more customers, or people to influence, the web is where your business needs to be. With over 78% of adult Americans using the Internet and an astounding 2.2 billion people online worldwide, it’s no surprise that small businesses with websites experience an average of 39% greater revenue per year than those without websites, according to the Small Business Administration.

But what if my consumers aren’t online? At WittyCookie, we get asked this question all the time.  For example, sometimes our clients refer to their consumers from an older demographic. We always tell them that they would be surprised at the amount of adults over 50 using the Internet.

When Roy Williams (business guru and New York Times bestselling author of “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads”) was giving the keynote at a trades conference in Las Vegas, the chairman of the organization asked him to avoid mentioning the Internet because nearly all their 1,600 members were over the age of 55. Surprised by his request, Williams decided to start the talk by asking the crowd, “How many of you have used a search engine within the past seven days to research a product or service you were considering purchasing?” Almost instantly, over 95 percent of the members raised their hands.

A personal example: My gramps is an old-fashioned man who frankly didn’t care for computers until after he retired in 2002. But now at 70, he can’t get enough of his iPad or sharing vacation pictures with his friends on Facebook. (Yes, that’s right, my gramps is on Facebook with his friends). When I asked him why he changed his mind about the Internet, he simply said, “It’s convenient. That’s where everybody and everything is. It’s the fastest way to do or find or share anything.”

Your consumers are online, trust us.

Because it establishes credibility. When consumers can’t find a company online it raises a red flag. Does this company really exist? Can I trust them? Are they trying to scam me? People are more skeptical than ever.  Even when consumers don’t purchase online, they research and look online before they buy. In fact, 58 percent of global online consumers said they more likely to trust a company with “owned media,” such as a company with a website, versus one who doesn’t (Nielsen Advertising Survey, 2012).

When you have a good website, it gives people a peace of mind about your business. Whether you’re selling a product or service, or simply providing information, it’s important for your business to have a web presence in order to establish credibility.

Because it’s a great way to build your brand. A website lets you brand your business like never before. Websites give you unlimited freedom to determine how your business looks to your customers. Websites are flexible and can grow as yours business evolves, and they also allow your business to be available around the clock, even during off business hours. Add to this that websites are one of the most cost-effective tools available and it’s obvious why so many businesses now leverage a website.

Business branding through the web will help you develop a stronger reputation to millions around the world. Potential customers will be able to research your business and find good reviews about the product or service you provide. In fact, consumers say they trust online consumer reviews second from personal recommendations (Nielsen Advertising Survey, 2012). Think of your website as an extension of your sales staff, helping you nurture and generate leads by educating people on your products or services.

Because it is the best way to engage with prospective customers. Word of mouth has and always will be the most trusted form of advertisement. 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising (Nielsen Advertising Survey 2012).

With a website, you make it easy for consumers to share your business. With a simple link, they can instantly access all your business information. And with social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s now even easier for people the to share things they love or recommend. When you have a website, you give these recommendations a place to go. Websites serves as central place for potential customers to learn more about why your business is so great.

– – –

WittyCookie is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in affordable web design, graphic design, and SEO solutions to help small businesses grow.

Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee, and no term contracts with a full money back guarantee.

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website

1. Your Business is Open to the World 24/7, 365 Days a Year
Unlike your company’s office that may be open from 8-5, Monday thru Friday, your company ‘s website is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are many different time zones that may affect your business, which is why being on the web makes it time convenient for everyone.

2. It’s Your Online Brochure / Catalog That Can Be Changed at Anytime
A website is easier, cheaper and quicker to update than print material. Its’ capacities are almost limitless which allow you to provide users with more comprehensive information. This will save you money on printing and distribution costs as well.

3. Reach New Markets with a Global Audience
On the Internet, you aren’t that local little business anymore. You have the potential to be seen by millions across the globe. Did you ever think your company would have the possibility of doing business around the world? Well, now you can. Without a doubt, the Internet is the most cost effective way to trade nationally and internationally.

4. Improved Customer Service
By providing answers to questions on your website, sales and information requests can be processed automatically and immediately, whether someone is in the office or not. Online forms can be used to allow customers to request quotations or ask further information. Save costs by allowing users to download invoices, proposals and important documents.

5. Present a Professional Image
For a small business, a well-designed web site is a great way of instilling confidence and looking bigger than you actually are. In this day in age, customers assume that you already have a website. By now, your primary competitors probably already have a presence on the Internet. If they do, keep up with them and find ways to make yours better.

6. Sell Your Products
Why pay expensive rent, overhead, electric bills, and all the other costs that go along with owning a bricks-n-mortar business? Selling in cyberspace is much cheaper and a good way to supplement your offline business. Providing secure online ordering is very affordable for even the smallest businesses.

7. Promote Your Services
Lawyers, doctors, financial consultants, entertainers, realtors and all service oriented businesses should let customers know that they have a choice. Millions of users are referring to the web and are using company’s websites to make major decisions when they need a specialized service.

8. Gather Information and Generate Valuable Leads
You can gather information about your customers and potential customers by using forms and surveys. Rather than going out and getting leads, let them come to you. This is a great tool for prospecting targeted customers looking to use your products and services.

9. Provides Instant Gratification
People are busy and don’t like to wait for information. Give them what they want, when they want it. If your product is suitable, offer them free samples or trials to download. This includes pictures, brochures, software, videos, Power Point slides, music and more.

10. Great Recruiting Tool
Whether you are looking for talent or posting job opportunities with your company, your website is a great recruiting tool for building your business.

– – –

WittyCookie is a revolutionary award-winning digital agency that offers a subscription payment model rather than charging a one-time-fee. Service plans start at just $19/month, all-inclusive with web design, web hosting, email setup, search engine optimization, ongoing maintenance, and unlimited updates. We charge no setup fee, no cancellation fee and no term contracts with a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee.