What other things can I do to improve my website and online traffic ?

A Bit of Social Media Marketing

How many times have you been told to start a Facebook page, Twitter account or register your business name on Instagram. If never, then you are in trouble, cause I am here to tell you that having an active role in the social media space is something that is going to be critical to the success of your business. Sure, having a website is fine and it’s great that it’s ranking on Google. But, this is only 1 medium. The social media sphere is absolutely huge and actively participating in this space will elevate your brand, capture a whole new audience and most likely then result in increased website traffic.

All successful BIG brands are regularly posting, tweeting and taking photos of products and throwing them out there on Instagram for the world to see. If you do not happen to be aware of this, I strongly urge you to do a bit of research and start looking at what the big players are doing on these social media platforms. I can tell you one thing for sure. You are going to be absolutely blown away by what’s going on. I personally love Instagram. It’s that easy to use that all businesses no matter the size or industry NEED to start participating and I MEAN NOW!

One point to note, if you are going to commit to a social media strategy then make sure you do it on a regular basis. You might actually enjoy doing this – you might even surprise yourself.

Don’t Forget About a Newsletter

I know this might be a bit boring and a tiny bit old school, but you will be amazed by what a newsletter can do to drive up web traffic numbers. I know I get smashed with ‘spammy’ newsletters all the time and I absolutely hate them. But, if your customer base has agreed to signing up to your newsletter, then go on and actively communicate with them. It doesn’t matter if they see it only for a couple of seconds before they hit the delete button. The important point here is that your brand is getting reinforced in the mind of the consumer.

Ideally, newsletters need to be emailed out as a HTML email, so make sure the message is clear and that the graphics are bold. Your customers are only going to give you a couple of seconds so make sure you hit them with the wow factor. Big graphics, clean large images and catchy text are what works – trust me on this.

Some Online Directories Are Still a Good Idea

If you have never signed up with Google places – THEN DO SO ASAP! If you Google any business you can see their expanded description on the right hand side. This is a great marketing tool and this can only happen if your business has signed up to Google places.

Other online directories are also a pretty good idea but don’t go overboard by registering your website with a thousand directories. This may seem like a good idea BUT can this type of marketing will only land you in hot water with Google as it is perceived as trying to manipulate rank. Just register your business with a few of the most common directories like Yellow Pages and True Local….ONLY if it is free – never pay to be on these as they should be only used as a reference for your location. Paying to be at the top of these directories is unnecessary as they do not get much web traffic. The process to register is only for SEO and Google purposes.

Ditch the Clutter on Your Website.

Have you noticed that the really cool looking website are the ones with the least amount of clutter and information. These classic looking web pages are minimal in design and devoid of flashy colours, adverts or too many graphical elements. If you look at your website and you can see the over use of text and images – then I would be speaking with your web team for a spring clean up. It’s never to late to do this and you may be surprised by the impact this can have on your client conversion rates.

Are there Testimonials on Your Website?

This is a no brainer. The more testimonials you have on your website the better. It reinforces to what can sometimes be a sceptical public your credibility in getting the job done. Go one step further an add a video testimonial – this is a winner and will bring in the business.

Blog On and Keep on Blogging

The very best way to get more consumers is to help them with their questions. The public is forever searching online for answers to particular questions and blogging is a great way to satisfy this appetite. Just have a look at the Hoping Mad blog and you can see how many varied topics I am covering. All the big names are out there content marketing and blogging, it’s just the way it is now and if you are wondering why you’re not getting the kind of results you were hoping for online, then blogging is a great solution to this dilemma. Everyone is mouthing off about how content is king and the reality is – it’s TRUE.

Which SEO Company are you Working with?

This is the BIG kahuna of why you might not be getting any sales. Why? Cause your SEO company could be completely useless and this may have an impact on why people simply cannot find you online. I know of too many people and businesses that have landed up using the less than, how shall I phrase this, ‘so called credible SEO suppliers’ and the end results are hideous. Learn who the good guys are in SEO and try to team yup with them – this is not an easy exercise so if you are unclear why not try our SEO services and see what a difference we can make to your online inquiry rate. I am not saying this as a point of self promotion, I am saying this because I sincerely believe that we know what we are doing when it comes to search engine optimisation and internet marketing.

Free Websites, Do They Really Work?

So why are these free websites so bad?

WIX, SquareSpace, the list goes on and on but watch out for free websites as there are some catches that go with these.

1) Essentially, you are going to get the same website as everyone else. I mean, what is going to differentiate your business from the next blokes? How on earth are you going to SELL your products or services if your site has the exact same look as every other free website out there. Online, if you expect to make a sale or generate an inquiry you MUST and I will repeat this MUST have a point of difference. Your site has got to have that something special, that unique ( and I hate to use this expression but I will ) ‘wow factor’, if the site will ever work for you. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that just because you have a website that this is enough. This is far from the truth and a website is only the first step in a long list of must-do things if you are ever going to be successful.

Also read: DIY websites: pros and cons

2) Using free websites means that absolutely ZERO thought has been put into your SEO or search engine optimisation. OK, so let’s assume you have your stock standard, cheap-looking website up and running. The next question is, how are people going to find you online. How are they going to find you amongst all those competing businesses on Google? The answer is simple: they won’t!

Once your website is launched it is going to disappear down between the cracks and get lost amongst the thousands of websites out there. In short, you are going to be in real trouble as there will not be any incoming sales.

I am being 100% serious here when I say this. I cannot count the number of phone calls I get from people in exactly this same situation. They are in a state of panic and really very stressed that their phone is not ringing. The result is, that we have to remedy the situation by starting a new website from scratch. We have to do this all over again and get rid of the crappy free website and design and build a completely new one with SEO in mind. All that has happened is that the business has lost lots of time not to mention all those lost potential customers….WHAT A SHAME!

3) Free websites generally comes with hosting restrictions. That is you are stuck with their hosting provider and if you want to change to your own, you CANT. You are stuck with these guys for the entire time and they can then start slugging you with heavy internet hosting fees. This is where the rip off begins and this is where it starts hurting your back pocket. Also, what CMS or content management system are they using? By this I mean, is the back end of the site ( where you are going to want to make changes) easy and user friendly? Or is it riddled with bugs and flaws that hinder the growth of your business? One must really think of these traps and pitfalls before they decide to commit their entire internet marketing to something that is not only FREE but where you have had no face to face contact.

What happens if you want a few personal touches added to your site. Something special, a tiny bit of customisation. Well, you can forget about this. Basically, you are very limited with what you can and cannot do. Even the slightest change ‘outside the box’ is not permitted.

4) let’s talk about customer service and online help. Well, good luck with that. Think that you have to wait a long time to get help or answers from your hosting company or internet provider? This is nothing compared to what will happen if you have any questions regarding your site. There is no one there to help you and if you are ever lucky enough to get through, you get the old ‘ we will look into this for you’ run around. My theory is that if it is all done in the virtual space then there are going to be issues that you will need help with in the future.

The issue is these types of free overhyped sites are growing in popularity and this is extremely dangerous to all business owners wanting to make  go of it!

Free template sites like these may appear like a great idea. The adverts on TV, promoting these free websites are quite convincing and compelling. I actually quite like them. But, it’s all smoke and mirrors and a complete con. Funny, enough, these television ads are becoming quite frequent so the uptake in usage must be growing or else they would not invest this kind of money on TV ads. Like any fad there tens to be the growth phase and then once the public realises the downsides there is a fast decline and eventually like all quick to fame fads, they simply drop off the face of the earth.

Let’s hope that this happens sooner than later so good Aussie businesses don’t fall victim to these types of fads.

So What Can Companies Do? The answer is clear! Get a web design agency to work on your site. Spend the appropriate amount of money and get a professional service. It makes no sense to me why you would want to spend nothing on your internet marketing and ever hope to get anything in return. You don’t get free legal or accounting help. So, why should you expect the same when it comes to your website? All I can say is that for those businesses that read this and still go down the path of getting a free website, we will be here to help you when things turn sour. All you need to do is give us a call and we will be able to turn your poor online status around for you.

In summation, free websites are good for businesses who speculate online. They’re willing to give something a try and if it fails they don’t care. But, for those businesses that are worried about how they look online and how their website will perform, then FREE WEBSITES are a complete waste of time.


Looking for the Cheapest Web Design Quote

I totally appreciate the fact that you want to save a dollar here and there for your business. Getting suppliers to take their costs down is a great idea BUT seriously folks, when it comes to your website design and internet marketing DON’T get fooled by the cheaper options. There are heaps of those cheap web package design agencies to choose from where they will bundle everything up for you in 1 very low price. They might even throw in free web hosting and some SEO, BUT this is all a camouflage to get you to sign up to a web deal where they just use the same old template, without any original; thought and attempt to pass this off as design. These web companies are probably (and I can say this confidently from over 20 years experience in this industry) the worst option you could go with.
Why are they so bad?

Cause online nowadays, you have to be better, more original, much more creative, and rank higher on Google than the next guy if you are going to have any hope of generating any new leads. So, ask yourself this question: how is a stock standard, completely over used template going to separate my business from all the others?  The simple answer is it wont! What will happen is that you will get all excited about paying next to nothing about a website and think that it will bring in all this new business but the reality is nothing is going to happen.

Not only will you get a crappy looking site that may have a few bells and whistles but you are never going to have any hope of ranking on Google and get the kind of exposure you were looking for.

How do I know this? Because I get calls daily from businesses all over Australia that have bought into the hype of cheap web design and are in a complete state of panic as their site is no where to be found on Google and on top of this the end design result is far from what they were anticipating. To add fuel to the fire, when the client wants any kind of small amend they are now charged a fortune. Or, even worse, when they do ring up to make a complaint about the designs they are then given the cold shoulder with unanswered emails and non returned phone calls. I hope you get where I’m coming from here and the argument I am putting together in regards to NOT USING CHEAP WEB DESIGN.

I can make another argument and that is the whole internet marketing side of things. Has your cheap web agency even contemplated how they intend to utilise your website for marketing purposes. If the site has been slapped and cobbled together in a few days then I can bet you anything that nothing has been discussed about how you are going to make your site work for you.

Did they bring up social media integration, content marketing, blogging, search engine optimisation etc? I can tell you without even waiting for your answer that none of these topics have been brought up.

So all you business owners out there looking to make a go of it online and start off on the wrong foot by using a cheap, low cost, low priced, bargain basement agency, you can forget about it. All that is going to happen is that you will end up calling us to fix the mess up. I am not just saying this to promote our web business, I am really trying to reach out to people here and help them before they make some seriously bad business mistakes. I honestly feel terrible for people who get duped and ripped off by these so called web providers who offer these silly packages.

I also before I wrap this blog up want to highlight another point. Make sure you ask these web people what content management system your website will be built around. This can be confusing BUT let me try and break this down further. See, what these guys do is quote you low to get you in the door and then lock you into using their content system which means that you MUST use their hosting.

The cheap web price is there like a mirage to get you in the front door and then they slug you hard with monthly hosting fees. It’s a complete sham and I am still amazed by the number of people who fall for this. Yes, it’s hard to know upfront about these types of pitfalls and money traps BUT after reading this blog I really hope that I have steered you in a better direction. Watch out especially for these so called monthly hosting add ons – you really don’t need them and you should be questioning this from the get go…..take my advice, spend a bit more on your website design and it will pay huge dividends for you in the future PLUS try to align yourself with some one who actually knows what they are talking about and who actually cares about your business. The rest I’m afraid are just out for the quick buck.

Small Business Start Ups Where do they turn to for Marketing?

A Website is the first step in your marketing regime.

Many small businesses that I come across feel that they can get by without a website. In this day and age this is amazing. They often say that they have enough work on and they don’t need to attract any more business. This is fine but for those people wanting to save a few dollars and reckon they can get by with letterbox drops and a few scattered ads in local papers, they are seriously delusional.  All and By this I mean every business out there needs a website. I don’t care about the type or size of the business. If you have an ACN or ABN number then you need to have a website. Even if it is a couple of pages, you still need to have a business profile online.

A good tip for people reading this and still unsure what they are going to do about their site design is try to go with a reputable company and definitely don’t do it yourself or get a relative to do it. Because a website is the foundation upon which you will build your marketing, it has to look half decent and has to be built using an open source content management system.

This is where a lot of businesses come unstuck and where the issues begin. So I seriously urge you to give me a call on 02 9360 8514 before you do anything or make any bad decisions from the beginning. Mistakes at the beginning are easy to do as there are a hell of a lot of web companies out there who are, lets just say looking for a quick buck and not really concerned about your businesses well being! For the uninitiated you can easily get ripped off and end up with a website that looks like a dogs breakfast and doesn’t work. Be really careful with your choices. Spend just that bit more to get the job done properly and to get a website that performs well.

The next area that is insanely competitive and probably the most difficult for businesses to get their head around is SEO or search engine optimisation. Think of it like the Yellow pages but an online version also known as Google. For any business this is the absolute, outright, unconditional place that you have to have your website. Forget anything else. This is the end game, the end of the road and the one and only place where your business has to be. Everyone and I mean anyone looking for a product or service will search on Google.

Doing adwords ( that is paid ads on Google) is a good start BUT if you are serious about getting more business then you need to be starting a SEO campaign. This begins now and I mean right now! A soon as you engage a web company to start your design they need to be looking at your search engine optimisation. If your web people are bad at SEO or outsource it, ditch them immediately.

Only and I am really going to emphasise this part of your marketing ONLY go with an agency that can demonstrate a clear and undisputable knowledge of web and SEO. The 2 areas are interrelated and if you are going to have any chance of success online you need to understand this. If they stuff up in any of these areas you are doomed.

If you think you can get one agency to do the web and another to do the SEO then this is a real bad move. On top of this watch out for the millions of extremely dodgy, shifty, cowboy style SEO operators out there who are so full of spin that the chances of you getting seriously ripped off in this department are quite high. This is not a joke, you can fall into their traps very quickly and you wont even know it.

The worst thing you can do in regards to your SEO is:

  • believe the crap they tell you about page 1 guarantees
  • believe them and sign a contract if they say they will work for free if they cannot rank a keyword  – total lies and outrageous statements like this are going to kill your business.

SEO is the key to business growth – is basically your call as a business owner. If you choose to ignore what I am telling you, do so at your peril. If you want to do it properly and are a little unsure about the next steps again, I really urge you to give me a call here at Hopping Mad Designs.

Rips offs in SEO land are the norm and not the exception to the rule. The business landscape is full of businesses with good intention and high hopes who have been put through the ringer and totally scammed. All I can say is watch out!

The next option small businesses can turn to for exposure is the multitude of social media platforms. There are so many of them out there but I suggest focussing on Blogging and Facebook to start with. Most people will already have a personal Facebook account so just repeat the process but in your business name. In so far as blogging is concerned this is a massive area and if you are really wanting to dominate your online space then blogging constantly is going to have a huge positive benefit. Again, these points are quite delicate and need to be well thought out and planned in advance. Social media in an ad hoc manner will have no benefit and poorly worded blogs with little effort put in will actually have the reverse effect. Look at the effort I go to in my blog writing!

I wish it could be easier for small businesses, but the reality is that there are now no short cuts and there are no quick solutions to getting new business. I’m afraid that if you are going to have any chance of success nowadays you have to be in it for the long haul and you have to be on top of your online marketing. Do a couple of courses, speak to as many people as you can BUT start the process now. Learn how it works, see what everyone else is doing and then get in touch with a bloke like me who can help you implement this.