Website Design and Development

5 Ways to Prepare Your Website for 2019

By | Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Is your business website ready for 2019? Or, like a lot of business owners, have you put off making little improvements and upgrades and put yourself at a competitive disadvantage over the last couple of years?

Don’t worry if you haven’t been keeping up with the latest web design trends, or if you aren’t sure whether your site doesn’t have all the tools and features it should. In today’s post, we are going to run you through five fast and simple ways you can check your web presence to see if you’re prepared for a new year.

Let’s start with something you might not have immediately considered…

website speed check#1 Check Your Website’s Speed

When most business owners think about the condition of their website they think in terms of aesthetics – the look, layout, images, etc. That’s certainly important, but speed is quickly becoming a big determinant of whether customers will even hang around to see what your pages look like. On average, a first-time visitor to your site will only wait about three seconds before moving onto the next search result. That means the performance of your pages matters just as much of the way they look.

#2 Look Into Your Analytics

We often meet with business owners who are afraid to dig into their web analytics because they are afraid they won’t understand the numbers, graphs, and percentages they see. However, most dashboard-level reports aren’t complicated, and can tell you quite a bit about the health of your website and online marketing campaigns. Take a minute to find out how many visits you are getting, where they’re coming from, and what potential buyers are doing when they land on your pages.

#3 Search for Any Technical Problems

Sometimes problems with your business website aren’t visible to the naked eye. For instance, you could have broken links that leave customers stranded when they try to go from one page to another, or outdated plug-ins that cause crashes on certain browsers or devices. The best way to identify these issues is to have your creative team perform a website audit. That’s just a look “under the hood” and into the coding of your pages to ensure everything is working the way it’s supposed to.

#4 Review Your Existing Content

Do you remember when you first wrote or posted the content on your website? If it’s been quite a while, chances are your business has changed a bit since then. At the very least, you might have different products, locations, or team members, not to mention different promotions or scheduling items. The start of a new year is a good time to review what you have written online and make any updates or revisions that are needed.

#5 Plan Your 2019 Online Marketing

Maybe you’re one of the millions of business owners who didn’t get the results they were expecting from their website in 2018. Why not make next year different? This is a perfect time to review any progress or setbacks that were made in the past year, plan new campaigns, and think about cost-effective ways to attract new customers. Don’t wait until the new year starts and you find yourself too busy to strategize when you have the opportunity to make smarter plans for 2019 today.

Who is Looking After Your Website and Online Marketing?

If you haven’t already taken these steps, it’s a sign of at least two things. The first is that you really should review your website to ensure you aren’t falling behind your competitors. The second is that it’s time you found a team of creative experts who can help you make the most of your schedule and marketing budget.

Contact us today to set up a free consultation and see how easy it is to turn your business web presence into a source of leads and sales!

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Update Your Website?

By | Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

Almost every week we talk with business owners who express an interest in getting a new website but don’t know whether it’s the right time to make a change. We can understand because they have a point – your business website isn’t like a car or truck. You won’t see a blinking light that tells you when it needs to be replaced.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any obvious signs when it’s time to update or upgrade your web presence. Today, we want to point out a few of the most obvious signals that you need the help of a talented business web design team…

You Hate the Way Your Website Looks

The biggest reason to update your website is also the simplest. If you simply don’t like the way it looks, or think the web content you have isn’t doing a good job of promoting your unique advantages to customers, then you should make some changes ASAP.

There is more competition than ever on the internet, so don’t make things easier for the other businesses in your area by putting something online that doesn’t meet your own standards.

You Have Website Performance Issues

It can be easy to ignore small issues with your website, but they can often be hiding bigger problems. For instance, if you have plug-ins that don’t function correctly, it could be a sign that your pages are out of date. That might mean missing features or even data security problems.

Other symptoms of an underperforming website include pages that load slowly, a lack of mobile compatibility, or links that don’t move visitors correctly from one section to another. These are all signs you need immediate assistance from a professional creative team.

Your Business Has Changed

Sometimes, even a great website has to be replaced simply because the underlying business has changed. For example, if your pages sell products that no longer exist, reference employees that have left your company, or invite customers to check out retail locations that are long gone, it’s going to hold your company back.

As a general rule of thumb, you should look at making updates to your website any time your business changes in a substantial way.

Your Competitors Are Passing You By

There is something to be said for keeping up with the competition, particularly when your customers and prospects can visit them with a single click of a mouse. When one of your close competitors launches a new website, or enters the market with a sleek web presence that blows yours away, don’t sit back and watch.

While it’s never a good idea to copy other businesses in your market, you can be aware of what they’re doing and stay a step ahead.

Your Bottom Line is Suffering

If your business seems to be hurting, particularly when it comes to online leads or sales, that might be a very big hint that it’s time to make some improvements to your website. The same goes for big decreases in the number of search engine visits you receive or email subscribers you hold onto.

Ultimately, the point of having a website is to help your company make more money. If that isn’t happening that you should hire a team of designers to work on the problem before things get worse.

Need Help Improving or Renovating Your Business Website?

If it’s time to take your ordinary business website and turn it into something special, contact the experts at Black Door Creative to schedule a free consultation today. We will be happy to review your existing designs and marketing materials with you to show you exactly how we can help.

web site content

7 Proven Tips for Generating Great Web Content

By | Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design and Development | No Comments

tips for developing great website contentHaving unique and persuasive web content is important to your online marketing success. That’s because what you write helps you to attract visitors from Google, to differentiate yourself from the competition, and to turn visits into customers.

However, writing web content isn’t something most business owners are extremely comfortable with. To help out, we turned to a veteran copywriter who has finished hundreds of websites for small businesses and Fortune 500 firms. Here is the advice he had to offer business owners who are struggling with their own content…

#1 Write for a Specific Person

If you’re having trouble getting started with your web content, a good trick is to think about having your perfect customer sit right in front of you. Then, just start thinking about things you would want them to know about your business. By writing for a specific person, you can make it easier to sharpen your thoughts and bring your most important marketing points forward.

#2 Organize Your Thoughts Into Small Blocks

No one likes to read huge blocks of text, and writing them isn’t a lot of fun, either. So, you can begin your web content creation process by organizing your thoughts into specific tips or points (like the list we’ve used in this article, for example). That will make it easier for you to separate your ideas and get them into a format readers can understand.

#3 Emphasize Ideas Over Jargon

The point of your web content is to get key ideas across rather than to obscure them. Knowing that, make a point of emphasizing your message rather than technical terms, jargons, or industry acronyms. Think about what an average visitor might know about your business when they first arrive to your website and then speak to that level of understanding.

#4 Write, Edit, and Proofread Separately

Writing, editing, and proofreading should be three separate and distinct jobs. When you’re writing, your goal is to simply get ideas onto pages. During editing you can refine your thoughts and make them more readable. Finally, it’s a good idea to have someone else help you with proofreading so they can see errors, mistakes, and typos you might not catch on your own.

#5 Use Compelling Titles and Images

Your content isn’t finished when you’re done writing. One of your last steps is to ensure your pages are accompanied by strong titles and images. These are what draw readers in, so don’t miss out on your big chance to have your content seen and digested by your customers.

#6 Have Two Goals When You Write

Generally speaking, you should always have two goals in mind when you start writing anything for your website. The first is to inform potential buyers about an important topic. The second is to persuade them to take the next step with your company, like placing an order or signing up for an email newsletter.

#7 Keep Practicing

Finally, it’s important to remember that writing gets better as you do it more and more often. So, even if you’re struggling to put sentences together when you begin, know that it will become more of a skill and habit as you go along.

Want Online Marketing Advice You Can Actually Use?

Too many web designers post articles that are overly technical or unrealistic for their potential clients. At Black Door Creative in Rhode Island, we focus on giving you real solutions you can use immediately.

Check back soon for more great advice. Or better yet, contact us today so we can schedule a free consultation and website review for your company.

website traffic

What You Need to Know About Website Traffic

By | Search Engine Optimization, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Most of the business owners we work with like looking at general website statistics, and in particular stats relating to traffic. They love seeing that hundreds or thousands of people have come to their pages through Google, Facebook, and PPC ads.

Usually, their interest is in knowing whether more or fewer customers are finding their way to the company online. Beyond that, they tend to not have much interest in the figures themselves.

However, if you’re a business owner or manager who wants to attract customers over the internet, then you should know a little bit more about your website traffic statistics. In particular, you should get together with your web design team on a regular basis to review a few key success indicators. Let’s look at the figures you should be paying the closest attention to…

Web Visitor Stats and Trends

We should start with the one set of statistics you probably already know and are following. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on how many visitors you have coming to your website on a weekly or monthly basis, and whether that number is climbing or falling. This can give you a very rough sense of whether your online marketing campaigns are working or not, particularly if you’ve been spending a lot of time or money promoting your site.

Your Website Traffic Sources

Just as important as knowing how many people you are attracting to your pages is figuring out where they are coming from. That tells you a lot about how you should be investing your time and money, of course, but also what your prospects are looking for when they actually see your pages. For instance, someone arriving from a Google search might be looking for information, while a person who clicks on a more direct ad could be shopping for products and comparing prices.

What Visitors Are Doing on Your Website

When a visitor arrives at your website for the first time, what are they likely to do? Which products or topics appeal to them? Where are they leaving your website from? The answers to these questions can tell you a great deal about which ideas or content areas appeal to your customers, and what their motivating factors are when they decide to either take the next step with your business or visit a competitor.

How You Can Improve Conversions

Once you put all of these factors together, you get a much clearer picture of who you have coming to your website, what they want, and how you can persuade them to make a purchase, set up an appointment, or stop by your retail location. In other words, you get past the point of counting website visits and start optimizing your pages for conversions. Ultimately, website traffic statistics are only interesting when they lead to business growth, so that’s where your focus should be.

Need Help Making Your Online Marketing More Effective?

If you’re looking for a way to make your website and online marketing strategy pay bigger returns, it might be time to consider getting help from a creative team that understands real-world results. At Black Door Creative in Rhode Island, we know what it takes to help small businesses find customers, earn positive reviews, and grow their bottom lines.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see what we can do for you!

choosing the right web designer for your project

Choosing The Right Web Designer For Your Project

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

choosing the right web designer for your projectFinding a web designer to work with is easy. Choosing the perfect one for your business web design project can be a little bit tougher.

After all, there are literally dozens of web designers and developers in the Providence, Rhode Island area. Add in the fact that most business owners and marketing managers aren’t experts in coding, HTML, or search engine optimization (as examples) and it’s easy to see why it would be so tough to make a good decision.

However, you don’t have to be a web expert to hire the right web design partner. You only need to know how to start your search and narrow in on the perfect candidates.

We are going to show you how to do exactly that in this short post. Before we get into the three criteria that really matter, though, let’s begin with an important tip: it’s much easier to choose the right web designer when you know what you want and need from your new site. In other words, it helps if you have a vision for the kinds of business results (like walk-in customers, online sales, etc.) you are hoping to achieve. You might not know all the particulars, or what tools will be involved, but it helps to begin this process with a goal in mind.

With that being said, there are really three factors that can help you narrow your search to the very best web designer for your project. Let’s look at them in the order most business owners and executives would…

Business Web Design Costs

No matter how big or small your business might be, you’re probably working from a budget. This is an area where you don’t want to make the classic mistake of saving a few dollars if it might hurt your sales later, but you don’t want to overspend, either.

For most small and medium-sized companies, the “sweet spot” can be found with a small local creative team. They’ll bring the same talents of a large agency, but without the enormous overhead costs.

Design and Development Skills

The peculiar thing about business web design is that it is based on both art and technical ability. In other words, you want a web designer with great creative instincts, but also one who can handle HTML programming and other related tasks.

Most searches for a web designer are going to begin with a review of several portfolios. Make sure you choose a creative team that has an artistic eye that matches your own sense of style. Then, describe the sort of website you want to build and be sure they have the programming chops to give you what you need.

Reputation and Relationship

We have left this point for last, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. In fact, this is the one part of the process business owners and managers tend to overlook most often. You only want to hire a web designer or creative team who is going to hit deadlines, communicate frequently, and be easy to work with.

You might not be able to see into the future, but you can tell a lot simply by listening to the way a web designer talks to you, and how they speak about their other clients. Additionally, you can look up reviews and testimonials online to see whether they have a reputation for being fair and responsive or not. That will tell you a great deal about how happy you will or won’t be with their work in the future.

Looking for Great Web Design and Five-Star Service?

If you want to work with a web design partner who can give you great creative work and the personal, dedicated service you deserve, contact us or give us a call (401) 339-4155 today!

finding the right value in web design

Finding the Value in Your Next Business Website

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

finding the right value in web design“Is it worth the money to have someone design a new business website for my company?”

We hear versions of this question all the time. It’s understandable that business owners want to know whether they’ll see a positive return on investment when they contact us for web design and online marketing work. However, we think this isn’t actually the best thing to ask. Instead, what new clients should want to know is how exactly they can find the value in a new website.

In other words, the focus should be on all the different ways you can improve your bottom line with the right creative team. With that in mind, today we want to look at a few of the ways you can profit directly and immediately from an improved web presence. Let’s start with the most obvious benefit…

Sales, Leads, and Walk-in Visits

When you have a great website, backed up with a targeted online marketing plan, you can generate new revenue almost immediately. That money could come from online sales, phone inquiries, or even walk-in visits.

That’s because it doesn’t necessarily matter how you close the deal with new customers. What’s important is that you can use your website to reach out to more of them using Google, social media, online ads, and email. Obviously, most of our clients consider this to be the biggest benefit of investing in web design, but it’s certainly not the only way to make your project profitable.

Better Credibility With New Customers

Almost anyone who considers doing business with you is going to visit your website. Most will do so even before they have ever spoken to you or stopped by an office or retail location. So, your website gives you a chance to make a good first impression.

That first impression is crucial because it can set the tone for so many interactions that are going to occur later. When people are impressed with what they see about you online, they are more likely to take the next step and less apt to question your pricing. Additionally, people feel more comfortable referring you to their friends and colleagues when they know your website makes you look credible and professional.

Less Time Spent on Customer Service

We often think of the customer service role of a business website as being a “hidden” feature that a lot of new clients tend to overlook. It isn’t the kind of thing that jumps immediately to mind when you’re considering a project, but the results can be enormous.

When you have items like user guides, instructional videos, frequently asked questions, and account update features on your business website, buyers don’t have to call you to find the answers they need. That makes doing business with you more convenient for them, while at the same time reducing the hours you and your team need to spend on the phone solving problems.

Better Recruiting

Customers aren’t the only ones checking out your website deciding whether to work with you. Potential employees do it, as well.

When you have a great website that makes your business look like a good place to work, it helps you to attract stronger job candidates. Over time, that can give you a big advantage over your competitors. And, you can even use your website to manage employees with schedules, guides, handbooks, and other interactive tools.

Your Web Design Partner in Rhode Island

If you need a great business website and a plan to use it in a way that puts more money in your pocket, then our team is here to help. Contact Black Door Creative today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our work.

website content creator

Your Website Content Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought

By | Content Marketing, Website Design and Development | No Comments

website content creatorOften, web content is the last thing that’s added to a brand-new website. That leads some business owners and managers to conclude they can leave it until the last minute, or treat the text on their pages as an afterthought.

That’s understandable, but it’s not a good idea. Most of us don’t look back fondly on the days when we had to write reports in school, and so it’s only natural that lots of business people will put off the task of writing pages for a website. However, web content shouldn’t be an afterthought when building your web strategy – your message is central to everything you want to accomplish online.

To help you understand why here are a few things you have to remember…

Your Content Should Match and Influence Your Web Design

When you start working on your web content early, you can use the ideas you generate to help guide the design process. That means you can be sure the text you have will fit on your pages, of course, but also that the tone and focus of your messaging matches other elements like images, navigation bars, and layouts.

At the very least, you wouldn’t want to put together your sitemap without having some kind of roadmap for future content. Why not start creating content early so you can make sure all the pieces will fit together once your new website goes live?

It Takes Time to Develop Great Content

We have worked on hundreds of websites over the years. We have helped coach business owners and employees in the content creation process, and have even hired professional copywriters when their services were required.

One thing we learned along the way is that great content doesn’t appear out of anywhere. It takes time to brainstorm, develop, and edit. The last thing you want is to hold up the launch of your new website because your pages aren’t quite ready. Get started early and that won’t be a problem.

Your Content Has to Sell Your Company and Its Products or Services

The most important thing to remember about content is that it isn’t just the “finishing touch” on your web design – it’s also the messaging you’ll use to sell your products and services.

No matter how great your web design is, or how sharp your logo or photos might be, no one is going to buy anything from you until they read about your products or services. That’s why your content has to be sharp, credible, and persuasive. If it isn’t, you’ll never see any leads or sales coming from your brand-new website.

Your Web Content Matters

Good web content can help you attract search engine visits and persuade prospects to become buyers. However, it takes time to develop strong pages and articles, so you shouldn’t write on a tight deadline or treat your content as a minor piece of your web presence. If you’re in the process of building a new website, start sketching out ideas for your pages today. It won’t be as much of a headache as you might think, and you’ll thank yourself later.

For more great web design and online marketing advice, check back to the blog soon, or contact us today to set up a free consultation!


Rhode Island Custom Web Design

Custom Web Design vs. The One-Size-Fits-All Approach

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Recently, we have been meeting with a lot of business owners who have questions about the best way to get lasting value from their web design projects. It seems that everywhere they turn there is another option – including some that are fast, cheap, and easy.

For instance, take the trend of DIY web templates. You have undoubtedly seen these advertised on YouTube and even television. For just a few dollars a month, they promise the chance to build a brand-new web presence from some easy fill-in-the-blanks forms.

Additionally, there are numerous freelancers and overseas web design companies who will build a website from an existing design for next to nothing. Given that many business websites look similar, and there are time and money savings to be had, it’s only reasonable for people to ask us whether they really need to pay for custom web design.

The answer, of course, is that it depends. It depends on your budget, and what you’re hoping to accomplish. For a solopreneur startup with absolutely no money, a website template might be a good starting point. Using one of these services is certainly better than having no online presence at all.

However, for an established business – or one that is growing beyond the work-at-home stage – custom web design has distinct advantages over templates and a one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s look at a few of the most important benefits that come with having a website built specifically for your company…

Your Business Has Unique Strengths (and Your Website Should, Too)

No two businesses are the same, so no two business website should be identical, either. You want a team of designers and developers doing custom work for you so you can put your most important advantages up front.

You have only seconds to impress a first-time visitor to your website. Do you want them thinking that you’ve got exactly what they were looking for, or that your website looks just like a dozen others they recently visited? There is a subtle but important value to standing out in a crowded marketplace.

Custom Web Designs Have Technical Advantages

Having a custom web design isn’t just about finding the right look. Web templates are made to work for virtually any type of business, which means they have to be loaded down with dozens of fonts and plug-ins that can slow a website down or cause compatibility issues.

Conversely, when you have a website built specifically for your company, the back-end programming can be cleaner. It can be created with only the software and content elements you need. That speeds things up and makes it less likely you’ll run into problems from extra bits of code that are lying beneath what you and your customers can see.

Business Web Design is All About Making Sales and Profits

When you put the customization and technical elements of a unique web design together, what you get is more sales potential. In other words, the business website generates more business.

At the end of the day, getting a web presence for your company isn’t about spending as little as possible or getting online as quickly as you can – it’s about generating sales and profits for your company. Keep that in mind if you’re tempted to take shortcuts that can hurt your bottom line later.

Need Help Creating a Common Sense Online Strategy?

At Black Door Creative, we know how to take cutting-edge design, online marketing trends, and business know-how and put them together into a cohesive strategy that works.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help your company grow!

Web Design for Mobile Phones

Does Your Business Need A Mobile-First Web Design?

By | Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

If you’re thinking about getting a new website for your business, or just check out the occasional article on internet marketing, then you have probably already heard about the trend towards “mobile-first” web design. And, you might be wondering whether it’s something you need.

To find the right answer to that question, you first have to understand what mobile-first web design is all about. Essentially, it’s just a recognition that in 2018 mobile phone and tablet users make up more than half of all internet traffic. Industry forecasters estimate that two-thirds or more of all web surfers will be using mobile devices by the end of 2020. Knowing that, it can make sense to simply design your business website with mobile users as your first priority instead of simply making your layout and content compatible smaller screens.

In other words, mobile-first web design is all about assuming your customers will be coming to your pages via phones and tablets. That doesn’t mean your site won’t work with traditional laptop and desktop computers, of course, just that your focus is on mobile functionality and conversions.

So, if mobile users are a majority now and will make up a bigger majority in the future, does it make sense to embrace the mobile-first trend? Here are a few questions you should ask yourself – or better yet, talk through with your web design team – before making a final decision…

Who Visits Your Website?

This is the most important question surrounding mobile-first web design and the one that should drive all of your biggest online marketing decisions. When you know what kinds of buyers are coming to your website, and what they want from your company, you can make good choices that will pay big dividends.

For instance, if you have a B2B services company and know that your customers are mainly engineers working from large desktop computers, mobile functionality might not be a huge priority for you. Alternatively, if you have a small retail shop that mostly caters to tourists or people on the go, then nearly all of your sales might come from mobile users.

Does a Mobile-First Web Design Make Sense?

This is really an extension of the first question, but it has to do with your sales and marketing funnel. In other words, beyond knowing who your customers are, ask yourself how they arrive at your website and what they expect to do when they get there.

For example, if your typical customer ends up calling your business or walking in through your front door, mobile conversions might be a big deal. Conversely, if they watch lots of videos or download intensive reports, then those features might not translate as well to a mobile-first platform.

In other words, everything is about your customer base and sales funnel. It’s about knowing what you’re trying to accomplish with your website and letting your business plans guide your choices rather than simply following the latest trends and buzzwords.

Making the Right Call on Mobile-First

It goes without saying that every business should have a mobile compatible website in 2018. However, when it comes to the question of whether mobile-first is a trend with lasting power, and whether or not it works for your business, it’s best to talk things through with a professional development team.

Why not contact us today to schedule a free consultation and put together an online strategy that works for your company?

5 Instant, Effective, and Affordable Ways to Boost Your Online Marketing

By | Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Integration, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Contrary to popular belief – and what some of our competitors might tell you – getting better online marketing results doesn’t have to involve designing and launching a brand-new website.

There are times when you should take that step, of course, but it can sometimes be just as smart (and a whole lot more cost-effective) to make small and immediate improvements to the website you have. For some business owners and managers, making inexpensive tweaks might be the only choice if budgets are tight.

A lot of web designers don’t like to admit this, but there are little things you can do to boost the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns that don’t require a lot in terms of effort or money. They won’t save you if you have a bad website, but they can go a long way towards helping you get more returns from a good one that just has a few issues.

To put it a different way, sometimes it’s better to put new tires and a fresh windshield on the car you have rather than trading it in at the dealership. The same thing can apply to business web design. Making a huge investment into a brand-new layout isn’t always the answer, particularly in the short term.

With that in mind, let’s look at five effective, affordable, and nearly-instant ways you can boost your online marketing results…

Audit current website#1 Audit Your Business Website

Imagine if you could have a simple report that told you exactly what was going on with your business website at any time. It would give you statistics about visitors and traffic sources, along with insights into which pages and content categories were most popular. It would also evaluate technical factors like web page loading speed, quality of your internal links, and even your current search engine positioning.

What we’ve just described is referred to as a website audit. Getting one doesn’t take long and won’t cost you very much. What you get in return is valuable information about the way your web presence is seen by search engine spiders and used by real-world prospects.

Business owners are often astonished by the things we can learn during a website audit. For instance, we could discover that they have broken links preventing the flow of traffic from one page to another, or that a landing page isn’t functioning correctly and leaves potential customers at a dead end. We might learn there are duplicate content issues causing Google to ignore certain pages, or that visitors are leaving before the company’s content displays at all.

Auditing a website isn’t just about picking up on problems, either. By better understanding who you have coming to your pages and studying their actions, you can spot opportunities you didn’t know existed. You may discover that some products or subjects are attention-grabbers, while certain offers just aren’t pulling in the kind of responses they were designed for.

It’s the combination of web analytics with technical testing and creative evaluation that makes a website audit so valuable. It gives the business owner the chance to see a “big picture” view of their online strategy that’s difficult to obtain in any other way. Most importantly, it can point the way towards small, simple, and inexpensive course corrections that let you get more from your existing website without having to pay for a redesign.

upgrade website hosting

#2 Upgrade Your Web Hosting

How much do you know about your web hosting package? If the answer is “not much,” you aren’t alone. Most business owners are barely aware of how their websites are stored and delivered.

It’s not hard to understand why: an entrepreneur or manager will normally choose the cheapest option when it comes to web hosting because they don’t really understand the choices. They want their pages to be on the internet, and any plan will allow for that. So, they assume a standard “small business package” is the smart choice.

However, there are a lot of reasons to pay a little extra for premium web hosting. That’s because better hosting comes with several performance and security-related benefits.

One of the easiest to understand is faster website loading. With premium web hosting, you get dedicated server space on newer equipment. That means your website is going to load faster than it would if it were stored on an older crowded server with hundreds of other websites.

There are also lots of online security features that come with better web hosting. For example, you’ll likely get access to automatic daily backups and real-time traffic monitoring. That way, if someone tries to hack into your website, someone will be watching. And, you’ll have extra copies of all your content ready to use if there is a problem.

SSL connections, which are included or available with good web hosting, are increasingly important. These allow for encrypted transfers of data between your website and a user. They have been used by banks and online retailers for years, but businesses are beginning to integrate SSL functionality into their sites as well because Google prefers it. That means you could protect yourself from hackers and thieves while gaining a search visibility advantage over your competitors.

These are just a few of the things you get with better web hosting, and they are all available at a cost of just a few dollars per day. Take that into consideration and it’s easy to see why upgrading your web hosting can give a big boost to your online marketing campaigns without taking much from your budget.

#3 Add Local Keywords to Your Website

Search engine optimization is often thought of as being tedious, intensive, and requiring big up-front investments of time and money. All of those things can be true, particularly if you’re trying to take on lots of nationally-known companies in your market or industry.

If your focus is on local buyers, however, optimizing your website for search on Google and Bing is relatively straightforward and incredibly inexpensive. That’s because search engine programmers are working hard to match buyers with businesses and vendors in their own cities and neighborhoods. You have a built-in “home-field advantage” that you can either take advantage of or ignore.

How do you maximize your local search visibility? It all starts with adding geographic keywords to webpage titles, headings, and links.

For instance, a business like ours might make sure phrases like “Providence small business web design” appear in prominent places throughout the site. They might also include a state or province, or even a specific neighborhood. That way, Google’s search spiders can see where the company is located and direct searchers who are nearby and looking for the same type
of business.

Other easy and very inexpensive ways to attract local customers to your website involve adding maps and driving directions to your website or creating specific pages for each office or location you operate. These serve as further guides to your place in the geographic world and help you to stand out to customers who live and work nearby or happen to be passing through.

The amazing thing about optimizing a business website for local searches that it’s not just simple and affordable but can pay huge dividends in a relatively short amount of time. That’s because Google is continually re-indexing its search results, particularly with regards to queries for local shops, vendors, and retailers. Search programmers know small businesses open and close all the time, so they make it easy to update rankings on a weekly basis.

The upshot to all of this is that you can spend very little time and money and suddenly make your company more visible to dozens or hundreds of local buyers every week.

Online Review Management#4 Gather Strong Online Reviews

According to a survey by Forbes magazine, 90% of us check out online reviews before making a purchase, appointment, or even a visit to a retail store.

This statistic seems to surprise some business owners, but I’m not sure it should. After all, stop and think about the way you shop for products, restaurants, or service providers. Don’t you go online to see whether others have been happy with their purchase? You probably do, and so do your customers.

Recognizing the importance of online reviews is crucial because they can make or break sales opportunities before they have even developed. In other words, someone who sees bad feedback (or no feedback) about your business might decide not to call or stop by. If that happens, you won’t even be aware that you lost a sale in the first place.

Conversely, if prospects go online and see all kinds of fantastic things written about your business, your service, or the value of your products, they are far more likely to give you a try. More than that, they’ll start a new business relationship with the assumption that they are going to be pleased later.

Because this is such a profound difference, you should be taking great care to monitor and grow your online reputation. However, updating your business profiles on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Business, and numerous industry websites are local business directories would take a lot of time. Luckily, there are faster and more convenient ways to do things.

A good web designer can set you up on an affordable reputation management plan that costs less than a round of coffee for the office. Using intuitive and automated tools, you can be alerted every time someone leaves a new review for your business. You can also send links to new and existing customers who are happy to share testimonials on their favorite sites so it only takes them seconds to complete a review.

Often, the strength of your online reviews will determine whether you ever meet a new customer or not. Isn’t it worth a few dollars a month to ensure buyers are getting the right impression of your business?

Social Media Marketing Calendar#5 Create a Content Calendar

You are undoubtedly aware by now that new content feeds your blog, attracts search engine visitors, and drives your social media marketing campaigns. Google will come back to your site more often if you have lots of new pages or updates, and Facebook’s engagement formula is built to reward content producers.

At the same time, most small business owners don’t post nearly as much as they should online. Usually, it’s because they think coming up with material for their blog or social accounts has to require hours spent in front of a keyboard or a big budget for creative services.

You don’t need either one. Instead, you just need a basic content calendar that helps you to organize your thoughts and efforts.

Your content calendar can be as simple as a handwritten list, or a page on a spreadsheet. It just needs to include a list of upcoming themes, events, or topics your customers would care about. This could be a holiday, a new product rollout, a seminar, or something completely different.

For each item on your calendar, you add the appropriate content piece (like a short blog post, a series of tweets, etc.) that should be used to reinforce the theme. Suddenly, you have the blueprint for a working plan. If you decide to create your own content you aren’t starting from scratch, and if you hire someone they can charge you less because they know what you’re trying to accomplish.

No matter how you go about it, creating content is one of the most inexpensive ways to promote your business over the internet. Every time you produce a new article or visual, you give searchers a reason to visit your site and social followers something to share and pay attention to. By putting a content calendar into place, you organize your own thoughts and remove the biggest stumbling blocks to the writing and designing process.

Are You Ready to Move Your Online Marketing?

In this short guide, you’ve gotten five different low-cost, high-impact tips you can put to use today. All of them work and can make a difference in your bottom line rapidly. Best of all, none of them requires you to turn your marketing budget upside down to get started.

If you’re ready to put these ideas to good use – and kick your online marketing into a higher gear – then we invite you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation. It won’t cost you a thing, and in just 60 minutes or less our creative team can show you how to put these strategies and others to work.

Don’t waste another minute or dollar. Contact us now to set up your free meeting!