Archive for the 'Website Planning' Category

Passion For Stealing

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As many of you may remember, I had a lovely time a while ago with people stealing text from my website. Now, someone has upped the anty by stealing the layout and logo design of my website. How did I find out? A colleague noticed the similarities and let me know.

I contacted the life coach who’s logo and banner layout was extraordinarily similar to mine, and within two days, she modified her logo and banner.

In another instance, the entire text from my home page was on another coach’s website. Within three days, she had removed it and replaced it with her own text. In both these cases, they said it was their website designer who had stolen my ideas.

Can we not trust website designers? Can we not have clauses in our contracts with them, stating plainly that they are creating original websites for us and any damages for copyright infrigment will be fully upon the website designer?

And why should I have to pay an attorney to get these modifications made, or to take people to court?

 

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Category: Website Planning
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Is the Problem Traffic or Copywriting?

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I recently worked with a client who has a beautiful website. The graphics, layout and branding are perfect. So why wasn’t she getting more sales?

The first thing we needed to do was some detective work.

Why? Because we don’t know if her problem is that she’s not getting enough traffic to her website or if the problem is that the visitors aren’t converting because of poor copywriting, website design, etc.

Here’s How to be a Website Marketing Detective

First, you must have access to your website statistics. I always recommend that you have Google Analytics installed on your website. The statistics that come with your standard website hosting package are probably not strong enough to help you do the detective work.

Second, you have to know how to find, read and interpret those statistics.

This is just about the time that most people’s eyes glaze over, so let me short-cut the process for you and make it simple.

How Many Visitors Are You Getting Per Month?

In Google Analytics, look at the menu on the left side of the page. Find the section called “Audience” and open the menu, and then click on “Overview.”

How many visitors are you getting to your website? Is there an upward trend?

What I have discovered is that the concrete, exact numbers don’t matter as much as the direction they’re going.

Look at your visitor numbers over the course of several months. If the number of visitors is trending upwards, then you’re doing a good job with driving traffic to your site.

Also note that in some months, the visitor count may be down. Sometimes it’s because you’re not doing your marketing properly or consistently that month, and sometimes it’s because it’s a month when your audience traditionally is away from their computers or distracted with other things, like summertime months and big holidays months. So don’t make assumptions about your visitor traffic; get to know your audience and know when they’re most likely to be paying attention to your website and when they’re likely way on vacation or holidays.

Recent studies show that 79% of visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy. If you’re not getting enough traffic to your website, you won’t have enough people interested in buying from you.

Which Pages Are the Most Popular?

Now it’s time to figure out if your visitors are looking at the website pages you want them to look at.

Go back to the left-hand menu in Google Analytics and find the section called “Behavior.” Within that section, there is an area called “Site Content” which gives you information about how visitors are using your website. Go to the “All Pages” sub-area under “Site Content.”

Which pages are viewed most often? You can find this on the chart on the right-side of your screen once you select “All Pages.” (See example chart below.)

The two key statistics to review are:

How many Unique Page Views does each page get? You will see two numbers: Page Views and Unique Page Views. Why are there two numbers? Because Google Analytics counts every time the page if viewed, even if one visitor views the page two or three times. So in the example chart, you can see the What Is  a Mastermind Group page got viewed 9,015 times, but only 8,034 unique views. This means (roughly) that 981 people viewed the page twice. Unique Views gives you a more realistic guide to how many unique visitors viewed the page and is a more reliable number to watch.

How long are they staying on the page? In the same example, the average visitor viewed the What Is a Mastermind Group page for 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Why do we care? Because if it takes a visitor 3 minutes to read a page, and the average visitor is only on that page for 1 minute, it means they’re not reading your text! Here’s how you can tell how long it should take someone to read your page: Set a stop watch and read the page out loud to yourself, slowly. Because you’re used to seeing this text, you’re likely to skip over words and sentences. By reading it out loud, you are forcing your brain to re-see all the text.

What Results Are You Getting?

So now you know how many visitors are coming to your website, and which pages they’re viewing once they get there. Now look at your actual results.

  • How many sales are you making?
  • How many prospects are calling you to ask about your services?
  • Are they buying your products, classes and groups directly from your website?

Conversion Ratios

Let me give you a concrete example. In my client’s case, she got 113 people to visit her services page in the past month. She got three phone calls after people visited her website. Her conversion rate is 2.6% (3 divided by 113). Average website conversation rates are around 1%, so that means that her website copy is converting prospective clients into paying clients.

Because of this data we can conclude:

Her problem isn’t that she needs to re-write her website copy or design. Her problem is that she needs to drive more traffic to her website.

Conclusions for You

How can you know if you have a problem with driving traffic to your website, or if your problem is that your copywriting needs work? Do the math above.

  • If your conversion rate is less than 1%, then you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If people don’t stay on your pages long enough to read them, you need help with your copywriting or website design.
  • If the number of visitors you’re getting to your website is low, or if the trend is not on the rise, you need help with driving traffic to your website.

Note that if you’re driving traffic to your website through email marketing or social media marketing, and your audience is a devoted following, you conversation rates should be much higher than 1%.

Now that you know how to read these basic statistics on Google Analytics, you can take control of your marketing and make changes for the better!

Was This Helpful?

I know that statistics can be daunting. If this was helpful to you and you’d like me to show you more (simple) ways to get important data from Google Analytics and interpret it for your small business, please let me know in the comments section below. I love statistics because they let me play marketing detective and figure out what’s true in my business — and that’s how my business remains successful! I’m happy to write more blog posts like this if you want this type of information. 🙂

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
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How To Defend Yourself When Someone Plagiarizes Your Website Text

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I hate when people steal text from my website and used it on their own website. Dirty rotten scoundrels!

So what do you do? First, understand that most hosting companies and domain name registrars will take down a site that is fraudulent or that plagiarizes someone else’s site, as long as you can show them proof. Even Google has a process to help you. They’re on your side.

Next, gather as much information about the offending site as you can. Print out all pages from their site where the plagiarized text resides. Go to WhoIs Search and get all their registration information. Also, try Alexa and find whatever contact information you can there.

Finally, write to the offending site owner and tell them that you found plagiarized text on their site. List the URLs of the offending pages along with the copyrighted URLs of your own pages. Give them two or three days to either delete the pages, or re-write them so that they no longer include your text. This is not the time to play nice! Tell the offending site owner that you are copying their hosting company and domain registrar on the letter, and do so.

Make sure when you write this email or letter, you don’t use any passive language, and do not say “please.” Demand your rights. It is illegal and unethical for them to do what they did and they need to stop doing it immediately.

Always put a copyright statement on your site. If it took you a long time to write your text, you should be the only one benefiting from it, not some unethical person who is looking for a shortcut. Even better, copyright your site with your national government (in the USA, visit the Copyright Office website for instructions on how to copyright your website).

I have written to the four sites that stole my text. Two of them are in Australia. Did they really think because they were on the other side of the world that I couldn’t find them by doing a simple Google search?

And you want to know a real hoot? One of these people actually called me, asking about becoming one of my clients! I went out to her site and saw my text on it. How dumb is that?

Don’t let people make you crazy. Stealing text and images is rampant on the internet, and while there’s no excuse for this bad behavior, you have to decide how far you want to go to get them to remove your text from their website. At some point, it becomes a huge waste of time and energy if you let it consume your day. I’ve found that 85% of people will comply with your request within a week. Then decide if you want to take any further steps against those who continue to misbehave.

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Category: Website Planning

Managing Your Website Redesign Project – 22 Point Checklist

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I know many of you are thinking it’s time to redesign your website, but you don’t know where to start or how to manage the project. Let me share my experience with you in hopes that it will make your website redesign process smooth and efficient.

After 11 months of hard planning and implementation, multiple website graphics and layout choices, and lots of coding (1,200 pages!), we launched the new-and-improved version of the Passion For Business website several years ago. Poor Aly, I think his fingers are whittled to the bone with all the website coding work he did. He got a much-deserved vacation after that launch!

We learned a lot along the way about managing a website redesign project and making sure it matched our business and marketing goals. Let me share that wisdom with you, in the hopes it will help make your own website redesign project run smooth.

The checklist below is written for you; you may be delegating pieces of this work to graphic designers, website designers, copywriters, SEO experts, or your administrative assistant. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them during each step in this checklist:

  1. First, know that this is going to be a long process, so find that extra bit of patience. It will pay off big time, trust me. There will be any number of times that you want to cut corners or give up an important feature that’s a pain to code. Stop. Breathe. Start again.
  2. Make sure you DO need and want to redesign your website. Not sure? Take this self-quiz: Is It Time To Redesign My Site?
  3. Write everything down – don’t trust your memory on something this important. Keep your ideas and your To Do list in a Project Plan file so everything is at your fingertips in one central location.
  4. Start the redesign process by asking the big questions: What are the goals of my business? What role(s) will my website have in reaching those goals? Who will visit my website and what do they need/want to find there? What is my business brand and image? Is it time to give my brand a facelift?
  5. Decide what content you need on the site, then organize that content into logical “buckets” so that it’s easy to design the menu/navigation structure, and easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Make a list of each individual page and file that needs to be on the site.
  6. Decide which extra features you need on your site: will you have a newsletter sign-up box, a free offer, sidebar advertisements, a blog, video files, audio files, social media, etc.?
  7. Design the graphical page layout to include your logo and business colors, making sure there is enough room on the page for sidebar advertisements, sign-up boxes, etc. This is the time when a good website designer can make this process easy.
  8. Remember, the reputation of your business relies on professionalism and a professional look — this isn’t the time to cut corners with do-it-yourself graphic work, logos, navigation, or website page layout. A good website designer can target your website graphics and layout to your audience, and can make it user-friendly. A poor website design will have people walking away from your site instead of sticking around. Read this blog post on How to Choose a Website Designer if you need more tips.
  9. While your website designer is working on some preliminary designs, it’s time for you to edit and/or write your website text. Take a look at all your existing pages: are they talking to the audience and helping them solve a problem or reach a goal? If you’re not good at copy writing, consider hiring a copywriter to help you with the text updates.
  10. While you’re busy writing, don’t forget SEO work to increase your rankings on search engines. Choose your keywords and make sure those keywords are in your text. Note: there’s more to SEO than putting your keywords in your text, but choosing and adding your keywords is the first step.
  11. Once you choose the website design that works best for your audience, your brand and your business goals, now it’s time to start coding. You have several options when coding your website: your website designer can code it for you, or you can use a platform like WordPress. Even if you use WordPress, there’s still a HUGE amount of coding to do, so if you are not deeply familiar with CSS or PHP, hire someone to do the coding for you. Typically you can find a website designer who does both the graphic design and the coding, or who works as a team with other professionals to get your site done.
  12. DO NOT code directly to your existing domain, overwriting your existing files. Create a “testing” folder to put new files in. Even whiz-kids can make mistakes, so create a duplicate site for testing before you make your new site live to the public. It let’s you build and test new pages as needed and will save you oodles of grief later.
  13. Make sure you code the SEO in the behind-the-scenes coding (tags) to help with your search engine rankings. Choose a website designer who has a lot of experience with SEO so that you can be assured this work is done correctly. Remember, there is more to SEO than the text and code on your website, but you  must do these two things correctly FIRST before other SEO work can be done.
  14. Once the site is done with the initial coding, TEST the website in all the standard browsers to make sure it’s compatible: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. Test it in several versions of these browsers as well; not everyone is using the current version of browser software. If you’re not sure which browsers your current website visitors are using, you can find this information in your Google Analytics statistics. (It’s under the Audience/Technology area of Google Analytics.)
  15. Test to see how your site looks on both PCs and Macs. (This is a good time to get your friends involved so you can see your new site on their browsers and machines.) Test on smart phones, tablets and laptops, including all mobile browsers. Make sure your new site works on ALL hardware platforms and screen sizes.
  16. After you do the testing, you’ll probably find that your site looks great in some browsers/machines and awful in others. This requires additional coding to test the browser version or screen size/resolution the visitor is using and write code to make the site look the same in all browsers. (Now you know why you pay a website designer to do this work! :))
  17. Test all links. Okay, so now you’ve got your final website design. It looks great in all browsers and machines, and the text and graphics are extraordinary. Now is the time to test all links (both the links in the menu/navigation and the links in the text). Make sure all links open to the appropriate page, file and/or external websites. Patience, my friend, do this slowly and properly. If you have bad links on your site, you’ll lose visitors and Google doesn’t like a site with a lot of bad links.
  18. Now test all forms. Sign up for your own newsletter, your own free offer, contact form, or any other form you have on your site, and make sure each form does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Sick of testing yet???  🙂
  19. Now you’re ready to go live. But wait! I’m only going to say this once (loudly): BACK UP YOUR EXISTING WEBSITE and BLOG. Trust me. If you overwrite files and something blows up, you’ll be happy that you can easily put yourself back to the old site while you fix the problem.
  20. Take a deep breath, and upload your new website design to your hosting.
  21. Once it’s live, test again. All of it. Seriously.
  22. Tell your audience your site is live, invite feedback, and tell them if they find a problem with the site to please let you know about it. It’s great to have a lot of people checking out your new site to make sure there are no mistakes.

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Have a huge party to celebrate!  🙂

(If I’ve missed any steps, please leave a comment and tell me about YOUR website project experience!)

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Website Planning
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Self-Quiz: Is It Time to Re-design Your Website?

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If your website is not giving you the results you want, or if your business has grown and changed over the past few years, many business owners start asking, Should I redesign my website now?

Your website is the front door by which your customers enter. If it’s amateurish, hard to read, difficult to navigate, or poorly designed, your customers will walk right out the door without looking around. The professionalism you display on your website leads to trust and respect; customers are looking for legitimate people to do business with.

The quiz asks questions like:

  • Are you getting prospects, leads and sales from your website on a consistent basis?
  • Have your business offerings changed since the last time you designed your site?
  • Are your high-traffic pages easy to find?
  • Can customers find you via search engines?
  • Does your text appeal to your target audience?

Here’s a self-quiz to help you figure out if it’s time to get a website facelift:

Take this self-quiz: Is It Time To Redesign My Site?

(Note: the quiz is in PDF format so that you can print it out and take it offline.)

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning

Should You Write Your Own Ezine Articles?

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A recent discussion on a message board got my attention. The discussion was about writing your own articles for your ezine, versus using one of the free ones by another author which you can find on the articles banks.

When I work with small business clients, whether they’re marketing locally or nationally, I often encourage them to either write their own content or have it ghost-written by a professional writer. They are trying to create a public image as an expert is some field, and having your own by-line on articles in your ezine helps build that reputation (as does public speaking and teaching). Having someone else’s by-line on articles in your ezine can never build your own personal reputation, no matter the content of the article. And, worse, might possibly distract the reader to visit the guest author’s website instead of your own.

At the very least, I encourage my clients to include one of their own articles PLUS an article written by someone else who is complementary to their business. For instance, a chiropractor might include one of her own articles, plus an article written by a massage therapist or nutrionist.

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Category: Marketing, Website Planning

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