Common mistakes that small-business websites make

My take on some points made in the article “These Website Mistakes Are Costing You Money” from entrepreneur.com.

  • Poor SEO – “I can’t find your website on Google.”
  • No mobile  – “I can’t see your website on my phone.”
  • No social media links  – “I can’t share your website with my friends.”
  • No website manager – “Your website is a security risk, it also looks outdated or unattended.”
  • No metrics / analytics  –  “Without analytics you won’t know what’s working and what’s not working.”

I think fixing the SEO issue should be #1 on your list, if no one can find you, none of the rest matters.

Mobile is #2, more than ever people are looking for you with their mobile device and your website must support that.

You don’t need a big budget to fix these mistakes, most can be fixed quickly and inexpensively with a good freelance website manager. – Mike

What are my options for setting up an on-line store?

Short answer?

Get a PayPal button!

paypal_logoAssuming you already have a website, adding a standard-account  PayPal button can be a simple solution for basic transactions and invoice payments. PayPal is considered safe and legit by most on-line shoppers.

For a more robust on-line store (with shipping, invoicing and tax options) consider a PayPal Business account.

  • Upside: A free standard account is a simple, small scale do-it-yourself solution.
  • Downside: No real check-out or shopping cart functionality without an upgrade to a business account.

Cost: Free. A Standard account allows you to accept Visa, MC, AMEX… etc. No monthly fees.

Add $10/mnth for customized check-out (Advanced account) -or- $35/mnth for the Pro package!  Fee details.

Transaction fees: 2.9% plus .30 per transaction.

Try Shopify!

shopify-defaultYou don’t even need an existing website. You build your on-line store from the templates available and you’re ready to sell. Shopify will even register and setup your domain name. Shipping and tax options are built-in.

  • Upside: Easy to use. Built-in POS.
  • Downside: Cost. Less flexibility.

Cost: $29/mnth (for a Standard account). Spotify is pay-as-you-go, so you can cancel anytime.

Transaction fees:  2.9% plus .30 for credit card transactions (2.7% for in-person transactions).

WooCommerce

woocommerceIf you already have a website running on WordPress, setting up a store, invoicing and shipping options can be done pretty quickly (with a little WordPress knowledge – or – the help of a Freelance website manager).

  • Upside: It’s “free” and it’s all yours! The store, the software, everything is on your site.
  • Downside: Regular maintenance and updates are required to keep things running smoothly and securely.

Cost: WooCommerce is a free plugin, however special shipping, invoicing or taxation add-ons can cost anywhere from $19-$129.

Transaction fees: Regular credit card fees apply depending on which payment method you choose (example: Paypal  = 2.9% plus .30 per transaction).

Ecwid

ecommerce-plugins-ecwidTake a look at Ecwid  (pronounced as “eck-wid”, short for “e-commerce widgets”) to instantly add a store to your existing website. Ecwid ingrates really well with WordPress, Joomla and Wix. Store pages (shop, cart, check-out) are created inside your own site. Ecwid also integrates well with your Facebook page.

  • Upside: Ease of use. Lots of built-in invoicing, shipping and taxation options.
  • Downside: Cost.

Cost: A starter “Venture” account (up to 100 products) is $15/mnth (plus 12.50/mnth paid yearly).

Transaction fees: None.


Things to THINK about…

  • Start small. Start with just a few items and grow your store over time.
  • Don’t just sell. Your store should offer more than just your products, you should also provide information about your products, how-to videos, customer reviews and comments.
  • Just having a store won’t bring customers, you will need to advertise (Facebook, Google, YouTube… etc).
  • Be descriptive about your products to improve SEO. Search engines read words not pictures.
  • Hire someone (like a freelance website manager) to keep your store secure and manage updates.

Should you put money into SEO or SEM?

To successfully stay at the top of search pages, you’ll need both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) working together.

sem-seo-example

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) covers the paid listings that appear at the top of most searches.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works at getting your website to show up in unpaid search results (organic listings).

In this example, someone searching for a ‘freelance website manager’ would see two paid listings and then the organic listings below.

Paid listings are usually sold at a “cost per click” rate.

Organic listings are determined by a website’s SEO score. Your SEO score can be improved by managing your website with the following considerations:

-have relevant and valuable content
-have no impediments to searchers
-be built for sharing (on Facebook, Twitter…)
-be built for mobile (Google loves responsive websites)
-have a functional layout (easy to find what you want)

If you need help (or free advice) with either SEO or SEM (or both), contact me here.

For more on the difference between SEO and SEM, check out this link at Webopedia.

Looking for a social media policy?

If your organization is looking for a social media policy, take a look at “The Common Sense Social Media Policy”… [source – Sociallogical.com]. It’s a few years old, but still very relevant.

Common Sense Social Media Policy - sociallogical.com
Common Sense Social Media Policy – sociallogical.com

#1, #2 and #10 are points we talk about all the time (we call it ‘being a good friend’). When someone invites you into their social circles, you can’t go all hard-sell and expect they will keep following you. Be nice, be a person (not a company) and just be yourself.

Read the whole article and I think you’ll agree, this might just be the perfect social media policy for any organization.

Why customers leave without buying

statisia

 

Here’s an infographic that I’ve seen on a few sites (including Shopify and ECWID), that I think clearly illustrates the importance of not just a stable and secure on-line store, but also a clear and upfront explanation of costs.

A lot of your customers are making it all the way to “shipping” and deciding not to buy because of unexpected shipping costs.

Be upfront about all shipping costs, taxes and fees. Customers will leave if there are any surprises.

Is your website mobile friendly?

When was the last time you looked at your website… on your phone? Was it hard to read? Was it difficult to navigate?

Studiopress has a responsiveness test page that will load your website in four mobile sizes, so you can see just how mobile friendly your website is.

The page displays your website in…
240 x 320 (small phone)
320 x 480 (iPhone)
480 x 640 (small tablet)
768 x 1024 (iPad – Portrait)
and desktop

Click the link, add your URL and see how you look to the mobile world.

Here are my results for this site…

FreelanceWebSiteManager.com Responsiveness test
FreelanceWebSiteManager.com Responsiveness test

If your website isn’t responsive to mobile devices, maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Upgrading to a more responsive theme can be a pretty simple process, especially if you’re using a content management system like Joomla or WordPress.

Let me know if you need any help (or free advice).

How to write the perfect Tweet

How-to-write-tweets-Anatomy-of-a-tweet-600x250

A study done by researchers at Cornell University, backed by the National Science Foundation and Google, found that style may trump substance when it comes to Twitter popularity.

Researchers at Cornell gathered their findings and created a tool that uses an algorithm to automatically learn what kind of wording works better for Tweets.

Tweet-Anatomy-KC-rev-1

Click here for “4 key takeaways that will explain the graphic and teach you to write engaging Tweets.

Great article from Hootsuite!