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speed-up-website

Make Your Website Load Insanely Fast For Better SEO

By | SEO, Website | No Comments

Knowing how to make your website faster is an extremely valuable skill for your customers experience, your SEO, and your online business revenue.

It’s not just because slow websites are painfully frustrating. The main reason you can’t, and shouldn’t, live with slow loading pages is because it’s going to hurt your bottom line.

Slow websites cost business owners money! And lots of it.

Factually speaking here, the more seconds it takes your page to load means the more people who are clicking away from your site. The effect is you’ll have less people go on to browse your site, subscribe to your email list, and buy from you.

Literally one or two extra seconds of load time can be the difference between getting them to buy from you or your competition. That’s a big deal!

When you combine the fact people are the opposite side of patient these days and you’re not the only company who offers what you do, any business with a slow website shouldn’t wait another day without fixing it.

The stats below prove this statement too true.

Why Website Load Time Matters

Disagreeing with what you think is my personal opinion is one thing. But ignoring the facts surrounding the importance of load time is a costly mistake. Take a look.

Did you know that 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less (Wired)?

Displeasing a consumer right before they consider buying from your business is the exact opposite approach you want to maximize sales. This stat shows that slow websites hurt visitor’s expectations and make a bad first impression right off the bat.

Instead, the goal is to make it as seamless of a buying experience as possible to encourage consumers to buy lots of your products and services. A fast website makes it convenient for your online shoppers to pull the trigger.

A fast website can totally make the difference on whether your business or the competitor gets the sale.

For local businesses, this can make or break their survival.

Kissmetrics found that 18% of mobile users will click off your site if it doesn’t load in under 5 seconds, and 30% click away if a page takes 10 seconds to load.

I’m honestly surprised these percentages aren’t higher given the first statistic. I find it hard to believe that 70% of people have more than 10 seconds of patience to stay on a slow-loading website.

The problem compounds when you realize that not just the first page is slow, but every page on a slow site will most likely take longer than 5 seconds to load. They click on 6 pages and they’ve wasted more than a minute of their time.

How are you going to get an online sale if they’re more focused on their frustrating experience than what you’re selling? This is a poor strategy.

A smarter business owner will speed up their mobile site, and desktop site, to deliver an exceptional online experience.

A page that loads just one second slower causes an 11% drop in page views and 7% drop in conversions according to Aberdeen.

Your customers are busy as hell. They want to view your page fast so they can learn what they’re after and make a decision.

But a slow site will quickly lose the people who visit it as seconds pass by and the page is still loading. The 11% is one thing, imagine the millions of dollars lost across the industry resulting from 7% less conversions.

And I’m not sure it’s technically correct to assume this from the study, but I’d imagine every second longer is another 11% of people who click away or even worse.

Google admitted page speed is part of their ranking system.

Google is usually extremely reserved about disclosing what goes into their website ranking algorithm. But they did admit that page speed influences how they rank sites in search results.

The fact that they made it a point to communicate this means any website that’s serious about ranking for first page search results needs a fast website.

I mean, why invest in local SEO strategies like setting up a Google My Business and other listings, asking customers for online reviews, or even paying a digital marketing company if your results are only going to be undercut by a snail-paced site.

Slow websites get heavy bounce rates which damage a website’s SEO ranking, cause fewer people to visit the website, and therefor online sales decline.

Whereas a fast site will help humans and bots visit more pages of your website and improve the other important SEO factors like time on site and page views per visitor.

By now I hope you realize that a slow website is like dead weight to the growth of your company. It’s up to you whether you make your website faster or go on doing business at your own risk.

For those of you wanting to cut off seconds from your site’s load time, you’re in luck.

How To Speed Up Your Website

Fast moving traffic.

Why waste time, energy, and money sending people to your business website if it’s slow, they click away, and you lose sales? It’s time you speed up your website to capitalize on every single visitor.

Take the action steps below and you won’t have to deal with a slow website ever again.

1. Make your website simpler to reduce HTTP requests

A busier website with more stuff going puts a heavier burden on the page to load quickly. Or just think about it in layman terms: A 300-pound-person weighed down by soaking wet clothes is not going to be as fast as as a lean 175-pound-sprinter with a six pack and their shirt off.

The same concept applies to your website.

How do you make your website simpler? There are many different solutions and you should take all of them:

  • Delete all elements on your website that don’t serve a specific purpose
  • Reduce the amount of 301, 303, and mobile redirects since these add HTTP requests and hurt website load time
  • Use less scripts when possible, “minify” your scripts, and combine them into as few files as possible (see #5)
  • Combine multiple CSS stylesheets into one style sheet

The biggest factor is the first bullet point. You don’t need your entire product line showing on your homepage, for example. Use a button for that.

By using a minimalist inspired design where every element of the site has a functional or aesthetic purpose, you’ll reduce the number of tasks your website goes through to load a new page and speed up your website.

2. Use compression to reduce file size

What do you do with your pages full of long content and images?

You don’t want to give less value to your audience, so the content length can’t change. But how it’s organized can, and should, to speed up your website loading time.

Here’s what to do: Zip the files through compression. This term compression means your website reduces the size of files into a smaller file. Doing this takes away a burden from your host and site, enabling quicker load times.

It can be somewhat technical to implement this on your website. If you have WordPress, there are plugins that make it simpler (scroll down to the end where we talk about Cloudflare—and there are other options too like W3 Total Cache and WP Fastest Cache).

If you want to learn and get your hands dirty, or see under the hood as to what a company would be doing for you, here’s a great post about HTTP GZIP compression. Essentially, this makes the process of delivering the website code to your web browser (like Google Chrome or Safari) as efficient and speedy as possible.

3. Improve server response time

This is the only task outside of your website, but how well your website host is performing is critically important to the task at hand.

Since I doubt you have your own server in the basement of your business, odds are your website is on a server with countless other websites all competing to receive server response time—thus slowing each other down.

A bad hosting performance can significantly slow down the page load time and get your visitors off to a bad start before they see anything on your website.

A quick way you can see how fast or slow your server response time is by typing in your URL here. If your host has anything lower than a C+ grade in the results, then it’s only smart to switch hosts so your users get a better experience and your business brings in more cash.

If you’re looking for a solid web host, we use A2 Hosting. After assessing dozens of web hosting companies, we determined they are among the top server response time and offer great value for the price point.

4. Smush image sizes

The smaller images the better. That makes sense right? Smushing file sizes of image reduces the page load time.

The way you accomplish this is by using a plugin like Compress JPEG and PNG Images.This will automatically smush your images after you upload, while keeping resolution. And you can use it to optimize your previous images already in your WordPress Media folder.

You can also be smart by uploading the correct image size to fit your website first, instead of uploading a massive 5500px by 3500px image and making your website reduce it to fit your page settings. I recommend you go through a site like Canva to crop your image, then upload it.

Also the file type of the image plays a factor for website load time. JPEG is the best for site speed, followed by PNG. The other image types are only going to load slowly and bring down the rest of your page speed with them. That’s not cool.

5. Minify HTML, CSS, Javascript

Initially, code takes up a lot of space, because it’s written by humans who need to be able to read it. The code is spread out over hundreds or thousands of lines so it’s easy to write and modify.

Your web browser doesn’t care though, and it delivers performance improvements (by reducing file size) if all the code is on one line.

If you run a Google Pagespeed Insights test, they’ll automatically generate “minified” CSS and Javascript files for you and tell you how much file size you’re saving by using these files.

WordPress plugins, like W3 Total Cache mentioned earlier, can take care of this for you automatically as well—even as you install new plugins, write new blog posts, and add other new content to your site.

Part of the minifying process is combining multiple files into one—be careful when you do this though. The order in which JavaScript files are loaded actually matters (as one JavaScript file may depend on another being loaded first).

If you have a complicated website, you almost certainly should engage a professional developer or company to handle this for you, so they can ensure it speeds up your site rather than breaking it. But it’s worth it for the performance improvements you’ll get. We shaved a few seconds off the load time for several websites recently, just from this step alone!

6. Enable caching

There are images and files used across multiple pages on your website—for example, your logo probably appears on every page. There’s no reason your browser needs to download a new version of the logo every time it needs to load.

So “browser caching,” explained simply, is the process of storing these files on your computer so they don’t have to be downloaded again from the server. Images, CSS/JavaScript files, and HTML content can all be cached.

Essentially when your website has enabled browser caching, there’s less to load because the files have already been preloaded on your customer’s computer for the next time they visit. That makes for a much quicker load time and user experience.

Caching can improve site speed by a few seconds, which makes a difference, for your regular visitors. And trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

7. Delete unused and inefficient plugins

Plugins are a lifesaver when they’re useful and they work. However, after getting access to many clients’ websites, I routinely see unused plugins that take from the site and contribute nothing.

Since they only make your website slower and increase the likelihood something breaks, you must delete unnecessary plugins. Toss them to the curb and kiss them goodbye.

Not only should you delete plugins that aren’t in use, you should also look to replace poor-performing plugins with better ones.

In this plugin article, we recommend replacing popular plugins like Jetpack and Sumo. And delete that default Hello Dolly plugin for the sake of my sanity.

Website Speed Wrap Up

Making your page load times faster may look too technical. It may look like a major time suck. But realistically this is a one time investment that’s going to pay dividends for years to come.

If you don’t have the technical ability to make these changes on your own, then hire someone (like us) who does so you can complete this project. And if you do know your way around this technical work, block off a few hours on a Saturday to grind away until the job is done.

For a reminder and motivational purposes, these are the benefits waiting for you after you speed up your business website:

  • Customers will have a better experience scrolling through your website and think more highly of your brand
  • Google will rank your pages higher which will increase overall traffic to your website
  • It’ll be more efficient to edit a faster website
  • Most importantly: Your business revenue will grow!

Shaving seconds off your site load time could be the best business move your company makes all year.

Related: 9 Ways To Update Your Business Website Out Of The Stone Age

Don’t Use WordPress Without These 15 Must-Have Free Plugins

By | Website | No Comments

With so many options, choosing the best WordPress plugins for your website can feel overwhelming. No WordPress website is complete without these 15 top free plugins.

In pretty much every situation, WordPress is hands down the best platform for your website. One of the advantages of WordPress is the massive amount of free plugins you can install to improve your website.

If you coded your website by hand, it would take hours to implement features that WordPress plugins can get up and running on your site in seconds.

There are more than 50,000 plugins on the official WordPress plugins directory. And there are even more if you consider the vast amount of paid plugins you can purchase and install.

When you’re looking to add something to your site and start searching for plugins, chances are there are multiple similar options that appear to achieve the same goal.

How do you pick the best plugins? Experiment! The best way is to try all the options and see how you like them, looking for any “side effects” like breaking other features on your site.

That takes a lot of time—fortunately, we’ve done the work for you. We’ve built dozens of WordPress websites for our clients and experimented with our fair share of plugins.

There are even plugins that add features to your site you don’t even realize you need!

We’ll review the top free WordPress plugins you should install to maximize what you’re getting out of your website. Where relevant, we’ll also suggest alternatives for more technical users and explain why the plugins we picked stand out from their competitors.

Keep reading until the end, as the post will wrap up with a few plugins you really should avoid.

The Best Free WordPress Plugins

There are numerous benefits to adding these plugins to your website. They’ll help your SEO, improve its performance, integrate your site with your other digital marketing efforts, and add other features your users have come to expect.

While we’ll only talk about free plugins in this post, there are quite a few powerful paid plugins as well that are worth exploring. However, these free plugins will get you in the game while you consider whether you might get an added benefit by investing in their paid alternatives.

You can install all these free plugins right from the WordPress admin dashboard by navigating to Plugins > Add New, searching the plugin name, clicking “install”, then “activate”.

1. Yoast SEO

Let’s start with an important one—Yoast SEO!

For good reason, this is one of the most popular plugins of all time. The purpose of your website is to get the word out about your business. Yoast gets your SEO in shape to increase your traffic from search engines.

Brief refresher for the uninitiated: SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of strategies you can use to help search engines understand what your site is about, and in turn, send more traffic your way.

Yoast covers all the essential SEO tactics. The plugin makes it really easy for you to update the title and description that appear on search engines (called “meta” title and description).

configure-yoast-seo

We recommend Yoast over the other immensely popular SEO plugin called All In One SEO. Both are great options with similar features, but Yoast is much more user-friendly.

Yoast is easier for a non-technical user to understand, while All In One SEO works well for SEO and website development pros. (Yoast is good for pros, too, with all the same essential features.)

2. Ninja Forms

Your website should make it easy for visitors to contact you. Ninja Forms is the best free option to make that happen.

Without coding anything, you can set up customized contact forms and embed them in the relevant spots on your site.

Ninja Forms, like many of the best free plugins, has a paid version. They’re not shy about trying to get you to upgrade either. But the plugin’s free features are enough for most situations.

Another great option is Contact Form 7, but it doesn’t have the simple user interface of Ninja Forms and it’s harder to customize the look and feel of your forms without basic HTML knowledge.

So if you’re a website pro, Contact Form 7 is a better option as there are more free options that cost money with Ninja Forms and other form plugins.

Setup Tip

Also install Flamingo so you can save form submissions. It’s useful to have everything in one place and to have a backup in case you have any issues with email delivery. Ninja Forms includes this feature in the main free plugin.

3. Akismet

Everyone hates spam. Since contact forms are a must-have for your website, you also need to save your inbox and prevent spam.

Akismet uses a variety of tactics to prevent spam comments and form submissions on your website.

This plugin is great because it just works. Install the plugin, walk through the initial setup, then leave it be. It’ll automatically safeguard your site from annoying automated spam.

Your email inbox will thank you!

4. Google Analytics Dashboard

If you don’t already use Google Analytics, this should be the first thing you do after finishing this post.

Google Analytics is a ridiculously powerful, free system from Google that tracks your website traffic. It’s easy to install and collects a ton of data you can use to understand what visitors do on your website, how they found you, and so on.

So after you’ve created your Google Analytics account, you need to set it up on your website. The easiest way to do that is through Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

It’s super simple to set up. Google Analytics Dashboard will authorize your Google account, walk you through a very easy setup process, and then you never have to worry about it again.

There are dozens of Google Analytics plugins, but the others aren’t as simple. It’s easier to make mistakes as they usually require copying your tracking code snippet—if you don’t already know what that means, go with Google Analytics Dashboard.

You can also see the most important website analytics every time you login to WordPress, so you can take a quick look without making a special trip to Google Analytics.

Setup Tip

If you’re anything like me, you’re always testing your site and loading the same page dozens of times to get it just right. So you don’t skew your own analytics with these pageviews, you should exclude administrator traffic. 

Go to Google Analytics > Tracking Code > Exclude Tracking, then check the boxes for any users you’d rather not show up in your analytics.

This way, the analytics you see will be your real customers.

5. Pixel Caffeine

Google Analytics has been around forever. The new kid on the block is the Facebook Pixel, a similar offering from Facebook.

Why do you need both? It’s always great to have multiple data sources so you can compare notes and see if anything looks inaccurate. But more importantly, Facebook advertising is highly effective (and cheap) for many businesses, and the Facebook Pixel opens up options to get more out of your ads.

Even if you don’t plan to advertise on Facebook, adding the Pixel to your site is still a good idea for the additional analytics and insights about your audience.

Click here for Facebook’s official, straightforward instructions to create your Pixel.

Once your Pixel is set up, install the Pixel Caffeine plugin to add it to your WordPress website.

Just like Google Analytics Dashboard, Pixel Caffeine makes it very easy to add the Facebook Pixel to every page.

And as you’ve come to expect from the last few plugins, you can just set it up once and forget about it, even as you create new pages and posts on your website.

Pixel Caffeine is the best option because of how easy it is for any user to get their Pixel up and running. It just works. And it’s a free tool developed by AdEspresso, the Facebook advertising arm of Hootsuite, one of the best social media marketing platforms—so you know it’s going to work.

6. MailChimp

If you don’t already use MailChimp, it’s a great place to start for your email marketing. You get 12,000 monthly emails and 2,000 subscribers for free, which is plenty for businesses just getting started with their email lists.

You should definitely be collecting email addresses on your website. It’s a huge missed opportunity to let your viewers leave your site without securing a way (their email address!) to bring them back to your site again.

Use MailChimp for WordPress to add an email signup form with just a few clicks.

mailchimp-for-wordpress-fields

The plugin works well with your MailChimp account, so there’s no confusion as you set up what list to subscribe users to and any other fields (like name) you want to capture.

Setup Tip

One drawback of this plugin is that you only get one form in the free version.

But you can set up a form and then include it in multiple places on your website, like on your homepage, contact page, sidebar, and wherever else you think users will be likely to sign up.

7. Popup Maker

If you want a simple, feature-rich plugin to add popups to your site, go with Popup Maker.

Popup plugins are among the worst for making you realize an hour after you start tinkering that you actually need the premium version.

We used Popup Maker to set up our email capture (why not give it a try?).

Popup Maker has everything you need to set up all kinds of popups. After setting up MailChimp for WordPress, embed your signup form in a popup and your website becomes a lead-generating machine.

Setup Tip

Popup Maker includes several decent-looking themes, but make sure you take time to customize them to match your site colors and fonts. You don’t want your popup to look like out of place spam!

8. UpdraftPlus

You’ve probably had several “computer catastrophes” by now, like hard drives crashing and viruses. These incidents can seriously hurt your productivity and cause major setbacks.

UpdraftPlus is a free plugin that helps you avoid time-wasting (and money-losing) website catastrophes.

Set it up to automatically make regular backups of your site, store the backups in a place of your choosing, and then sleep easier knowing you can recover from a website glitch or hacker in minutes, not days.

There are over a dozen options for where to store your backups, and one will definitely suit your needs. We recommend taking daily backups and retaining at least 10 so you have a little over a week to catch any issues with your site and restore a backup if necessary.

9. Really Simple SSL

SSL, or secure socket layer, creates a secure connection between your website and users so hackers can’t compromise their browsing. You may have also heard of this as “HTTPS”.

You might think you don’t need SSL if you aren’t selling anything or collecting sensitive data on your website, but think again.

In October 2017, Google Chrome started marking websites without SSL as “not secure”, which makes users nervous about using your website.

Since the fix is so easy, there’s no reason not to maintain your users’ confidence by setting up SSL.

Start by installing Really Simple SSL, which implements this important security measure on your site in just a few clicks.

There are several options for free SSL certificates that work just fine for most websites. Our favorite is Comodo Free SSL Certificates, a service from one of the most trusted SSL providers.

You might need some technical help to get your certificate—Comodo also has simple instructions if you want to give it a shot yourself.

Then once you have the certificate, set it up with Really Simple SSL to bring your users the security they deserve.

10. Ultimate Social Icons

The WordPress plugins directory is flooded with options for social media sharing. This makes sense because it’s one of the most important features your website can have. Who doesn’t want free advertising?

We recommend Ultimate Social Icons because it includes every platform you could want, many different button styles so they look great with your site, and plenty of options for how and where to display the icons.

Those are just a few of the 16 options for icons that come with this versatile plugin.

Many of the other options are “clunky” plugins, meaning they have tons of unnecessary extra code that slows down your site. Or they’re harder to set up or come with fewer free options.

11. Shortcodes Ultimate

If you have a solid paid WordPress theme, your WordPress might already be loaded with custom visual components (like image slideshows or fancy list displays).

Shortcodes Ultimate is still worth a mention as most WordPress sites could benefit from the plugin’s visual components. Laying out your content in the cleanest, simplest way possible is important to drive a positive impression with your customers.

This plugin includes more than 50 “shortcodes” that are easy to use in posts, pages, and other content areas across your site.

Take a look through the list of included shortcodes and see if any of them could improve your site appearance.

12. The Events Calendar

This may not be relevant for every website, but this phenomenal free plugin deserves a mention on our list.

The Events Calendar is by far the best free plugin to—as the name suggests—keep your site updated with upcoming events.

It’s very easy to add events, the calendar looks great right away, and the free version comes with tons of features.

Maybe dates are irrelevant for your particular business, but The Events Calendar is definitely the way to go if your website needs a calendar.

13. Google PageSpeed Insights

The next few plugins are related to your website performance, so you can give your viewers a blazing fast browsing experience.

Years ago, Google started considering website loading time (“pagespeed”) as one of their ranking factors. They have continually increased the impact of pagespeed, especially recently as mobile browsing has increased in popularity.

Pagespeed is important to Google because it is important to your users—every second it takes your site to load can decrease your conversions by 7%, and 40% of users won’t wait around if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Google has your back to help you speed up your website. They have a tool called PageSpeed Insights that you can use to identify opportunities to decrease loading time for specific pages on your site.

But there’s an even easier way. The Google PageSpeed Insights plugin automatically tests every page on your website so it’s easy to find pages with particularly big issues.

pagespeed-insights-example

For each page, you can see the issues that are hurting your score and how to resolve the issues.

The next few plugins will help you increase your PageSpeed score, decrease your website loading time, and offer your users a buttery smooth browsing experience.

14. EWWW Image Optimizer

One of the easiest ways to decrease your website loading time is to use images with a smaller file size. You can decrease the file size of most images without any noticeable impact on image quality.

Many websites have hundreds or thousands of images, so fixing them manually would take forever. EWWW Image Optimizer will take care of this for you automatically.

This plugin will compress files behind-the-scenes as you upload them so you never have to worry about image file size again. And EWWW comes with a “bulk optimizer” so you can compress the images you uploaded to your site before setting up this plugin.

There are several other widely used image optimization plugins, like Smush and ShortPixel. As I tested all the options, I noticed EWWW has the best features and effectiveness without shelling out cash for the premium versions, which all the plugins offer.

15. Cloudflare

This plugin is a gift for pushing your website performance to the next level.

Cloudflare is a content delivery network and website optimization tool. Let’s break that down:

Content delivery network

Right now, your website is probably hosted on one server, wherever your hosting company is located. For this example, I’ll say your hosting company is in Texas.

Your website will load faster for users accessing it from Texas than for users from Ohio, Maine, or France. As users get further away from the server, your website will take longer to load.

Most hosting companies do not offer an option for where to host your site. So even if you’re a local restaurant in Ohio, your website might be hosted in California. That’s inefficient, and it’s also an unnecessary delay for your customers.

A content delivery network automatically hosts your site on multiple servers around the world. While you only update the one site as you always have, the changes are pushed to all these servers so users can connect to the server closest to them.

cloudflare-map

This alone can deliver drastic speed improvements.

Website optimizations

I’m not going to go too far into this so as to keep the post on-topic. Basically, there are a number of behind-the-scenes methods like caching and code “minifying” that speed up your site.

It’s hard to explain these concepts without going into the technical background. What you need to know is they are very important for your website loading time, and they have the highest impact on your Google PageSpeed score.

Fortunately, you don’t need any technical background here. Cloudflare takes care of these optimizations automatically.

Why Cloudflare?

We recommend Cloudflare over other similar offerings because it’s reliable, easy to use, and the free version is adequate for most websites. If you get thousands of visitors per day, you probably need one of their paid plans, but the pricing is very reasonable for the enormous benefits.

The Cloudflare plugin makes it easy to get started. You probably don’t even need a website developer to help set it up, but the installation process does involve changing your domain name’s DNS settings.

This is easy to do with popular domain companies like GoDaddy, so it’s up to you whether you handle this step yourself or ask an IT professional for help.

Avoid These Popular Plugins

We recommend steering clear of these widely used WordPress plugins, as they cause more harm than good and there are many better options.

Jetpack

This plugin is one of the most popular, which isn’t too surprising as it’s developed by Automattic, the creators of WordPress itself.

Jetpack has plenty of drawbacks and we recommend using (superior) alternatives. Jetpack bills itself as multi-use plugin with tons of important features, which is true.

Frankly, it screws up your site. Jetpack is a very “clunky” plugin that will decrease your site performance. It causes issues with many WordPress themes and many other plugins, so you might spend hours troubleshooting an issue only to find uninstalling Jetpack was the one-second solution.

For all the features you get with Jetpack, there are better options. Here are a few examples:

  • Site stats and analytics – use Google Analytics instead
  • Brute force attack protection – this feature is included with Cloudflare
  • Email subscriptions – MailChimp for WordPress does just fine
  • Contact forms – Ninja Forms is far superior

I could go on. For some of the Jetpack features not covered in this post, simply search the feature in the plugins list and you’ll certainly find a better option.

Sumo

As one of the most popular social media marketing services, this might come as a surprise.

It’s a shame, since Sumo has a lot of great free features to improve your digital marketing. But the Sumo WordPress plugin is really bad.

We actually used to have Sumo on this website. When I removed it, the website started loading 1-2 seconds faster. That’s a big difference.

The benefits of the plugin’s social sharing features are offset by all the visitors who leave your site since it’s so freaking slow.

MailChimp for WordPress, Popup Maker, and Ultimate Social Icons achieve the same goal without sending your site to the stone age. The extra effort is worth it!

Improve Your WordPress Site With These Plugins

Any of these plugins will go a long way—and all of them will make your website a superstar.

To recap, here are all the features you get with these free plugins:

  • SEO enhancements
  • Robust contact forms
  • Spam prevention
  • Detailed traffic analytics
  • Better Facebook advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Dynamic popups
  • Automated backups
  • Secured website
  • Social sharing
  • Simple events calendar
  • Automated page speed monitoring
  • Image compression
  • Lightning fast website speed

Not bad for free!

We love WordPress for this reason—you’d have to pay a fortune or spend hundreds of hours to get all these features anywhere else. This enables website design companies like us to offer more affordable prices, since we’re equipped with so many tools to give you the site you want. 

If you have any questions about these plugins or anything else about your WordPress site, drop us a line and let us know how we can help.

business-blogging-mistakes

9 Business Blogging Mistakes That Cost Your Company Sales

By | Website | 5 Comments

Do you have a company blog that publishes content? Great. What’s not good is costing your business sales with common blogging mistakes we’re going to cover.

First off, you do deserve credit given the fact that websites with blogs get 434% more indexed pages than those business websites without one. That’s a solid win for bringing more traffic to your site.

Though don’t be too proud just yet. Because there’s a big difference between having a blog and getting every ounce out of it to improve your customer acquisition and cash flow.

The level of business production from a master blog to the regular blog on the internet is like a Tesla Model S (world’s quickest car) compared to a horse and buggy. It’s not comparable.

For example, the average blog does little to grow a business.

An excellent blog will help the marketing department raise awareness about your products and services to your ideal customer segment, relieve the customer service reps from answering questions callers can find the answers to online, position your company as an authority in the space, and—most importantly—tee up leads for your sales team to close deals.

Name something more effective at wearing multiple hats for an organization?

This is why I promise your business will grow if you avoid the following mistakes and invest in your company blog.

9 Common Mistakes On Company Blogs

Mistake 1 – There’s not a Blog page to be found.

Ok, maybe I tricked you to start this list. The first problem is that millions of companies choose not to have a Blog at all.

According to statista.com, only 36% of Fortune 500 companies had a blog in the last year. These are conglomerates with unlimited resources and who should have their act together more than a local mom and pop shop, but still choose to ignore this critical piece to their online presence. It blows my mind!

But where there’s undervalued attention, there’s a business opportunity to profit from—I see the blog in this light.

While the giants in your space are paying for online traffic, you can eat up market share through organic traffic to your website (and a mix of pay per click ads if it’s in your budget).

And if you’re already paying for Google, Facebook, or some other form of online advertising, don’t count out getting enough organic traffic that you no longer need to spend company money on paid ads. At least that should be the motivation to start publishing content to promote your B2B or B2C operation.

Mistake 2 – Inconsistent blogging makes you look like an amateur.

Stuck in a cycle of publishing a few blog posts in a row and then going six weeks without publishing a single piece of new content? That should never happen.

This mistake does more damage than you can imagine. Your website visitors will see the gaps between published dates and you’ll instantly lose credibility. Plus, this bad habit kills SEO growth since Google prioritizes blogs that consistently publish new content. And you’re costing your company sales since the less posts published equals less incoming traffic and sales.

What’s the solution? On a macro level, stop putting up with lazy blogging habits. Clearly you see the value of blogging if you started one in the first place. It’s time to commit to your business’ growth by committing to your company blog.

On a micro level, get extremely organized to help your team or yourself publish new content, every single week.

I use the content calendar Editorial Calendar to map out my articles in an organized fashion—it’s easy because all the users on your WordPress site can see what article is due when and who is responsible for writing it.

content-calendar-for-bloggingHeck, use post it notes or a Google sheet to plan your articles if you have to. Do whatever it takes to keep publishing new blog posts without skipping a beat.

Mistake 3 – Your articles are too short and don’t provide enough value.

During a busy season where you’re juggling 10 different responsibilities, it’s tempting to jot down a 250 word post and publish it.

But answer these questions: How much value can you really provide your audience in 250 words? Will you get any SEO traffic from this short of a post when the average articles on Google have 2,000+ words of content? And does that make your company look lazy? (Hints: Little to zero value, no traffic, and yes it does point toward laziness.)

Your blog posts need to drown your audience in value. Hate to break it to you, but that can’t be done in a wimpy post with 10 total sentences.

For example, a cleaning company would fail miserably if they just mentioned the name of the product and a brief summary of what customers it serves. The reader is going to finish the post with unanswered questions—then go to your competitor.

Instead, this cleaning company needs to describe the pain of not having their cleaning solution to show they understand their customer, mention the problem it solves for all office buildings, dive into the science behind it, share the cost of the service, and say how they can learn more or buy it now.

If your team or you the business owner don’t have the time to write high-quality articles, then it’s time you hire someone else or hustle during non-work hours (nights and weekends). Something needs to give if you truly want a blog that brings in more leads to your business.

Mistake 4 – There’s no email capture to collect leads.

People don’t randomly end up on your website. If they’re there, it’s for a reason like information, curiosity, or they’re ready to make a purchase.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could collect their email and follow up with them to ask for a sale later?

And what about those visitors that come from clicking an ad but then never come back again. If they don’t buy right then and there, you just spent advertising money on someone who will never visit your site again.

Don’t you wish there was a way to get them to come back and keep your brand top of mind?

Adding an email capture form that adds your customers emails to a mailing list is the solution you’re looking for. This gives you the opportunity to get in their inbox at any time—a study found 58% of adults check email right when they wake up—and after building trust you can send a sales email to reap the profits.

Not having an email capture form on your website is the equivalent of your business burning a pile of cash on the office doorstep.

Related: 5 Tactics That Will Quickly Increase Your Email List Subscribers

Mistake 5 – There’s no multimedia, just text.

Visitors expect a solid experience when they read your content. It will get really boring, really fast, if you don’t spice up your articles with images, charts, infographics, and videos.

Images, graphs, and charts are perfect for aiding the reader’s understanding—and you get an SEO boost by placing the article keyword in the image title and alt text.

Adding multimedia also has some other huge advantages to keep readers engaged on your site for longer periods of time.

For example, people love watching videos online and actually retain 95% of a video message compared to 10% from text. Plus, the average person spends 88% more time on a website with video.

Just adding some different media and colors to that otherwise black text on a white background blog will go a long way.

Mistake 6 – There are no social media sharing buttons to be found.

If a main reason to blog is to spread brand awareness, why limit the exposure of your blog? It’s stupid to, right?

That’s what business blogs with no social media sharing buttons are doing—limiting their traffic growth and the opportunity for fans to share your content with their friends.

This rookie move is the equivalent of shooting your blog in the foot or making an unforced error in sports.

Plus, you have no excuse since it’s easy to add social sharing buttons including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, for example.

The website Winning WP listed their 10 best social media plugins. Download one from that list and you’ll make it effortless for visitors to share your online content.

If you’re reading this article from a computer, you’ll recognize we follow our own advice with our share bar on the left of the screen.

Mistake 7 – There’s no effort to gain traffic through SEO practices.

Many businesses do the publish and pray approach where they write articles hoping people online search for it and find them.

The reality is there are people Google searching for the exact product or service your business offers. With a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you can influence Google to have your website show up on the first page and capture these ready-to-buy customers.

And with far greater potential than any other source of traffic, free organic search traffic has to be a focal point of any digital marketing strategy.

It doesn’t take many steps to attracting more visitors to your website with SEO. You can get started by:

  1. Choosing some long-tail keywords that apply to your business.
  2. Placing this keyword on your site in the correct places on your website.
  3. Writing valuable content that people actually want to read.

Mistake 8 – There’s no data to support the blog post’s opinions.

Who are you more likely to trust: The loud guy yelling nonsense or someone who backs up everything they say with hard evidence? Most people, and your readers, are going to side with the stats.

This logic applies to your company blog, too. While writing your article, remember opinions never hold as much weight as something backed up with data.

Adding support to your statements will always increase your credibility.

So if you can make it a habit to have a 1-2 punch of opinion then data to back it up—your blog will receive more links to it, social shares, and traffic, which accomplishes the ultimate goal of acquiring more leads.

Yes, I know, executing this requires more time to research data that you can use to support your point. But it makes all the difference in being memorable.

Mistake 9 – There’s no call-to-action to buy.

Having a blog to build brand positioning, online presence, and your authority in the industry are all nice ideas, but you’re in business to make money. You need to sell to keep your company going.

So, last but not least, every piece of blog content has to play some part in persuading online visitors to spend their money with your business instead of a competitor. Maybe the content supports lead generation of your product, raises awareness, goes for the sale, or answers questions to customers who already bought from you.

The problem many blogs make is they’re afraid to ask for the sale. That’s ludicrous! If you write a killer guide, by all means you should be comfortable adding a blurb about what you’re selling and where they can click to learn more.

Remember, once you provide value and get these visitors hooked, you’re doing them a disservice by not selling them your services. And the people on your email list are actively communicating that they’re interested in your business and might want to buy. Give them the opportunity on your website to buy from you!

Start Blogging The Right Way

blogging-leads-to-salesBusiness blogging is guaranteed to work as long as you commit to the cause and don’t commit the 9 deadly sins above.

Many times it’s just a simple fix to improve your blog and get radically better results, like setting up an email capture or social sharing buttons. Then you don’t have to think about it again. However, other improvements, like including pictures and data, need to be applied to every post.

Though I promise you’ll receive real business results from your blog when you do it the right way. Your traffic will come slowly at first, then build momentum, and eventually your blog will be flooded with new business opportunities.

It’ll be an intoxicating new growth point to build upon.

So hire a writer or do whatever you need to do to ensure your company is consistently publishing high-quality articles—even if it means you as the business owner have to set aside time to blog yourself—it’s worth it!

digital-marketing-profits

Here’s How We’d Double Your Sales With Digital Marketing

By | Email Marketing, Reputation Management, SEO, Social Media, Website | No Comments

You’re already skeptical, I realize. I have a lot of work to do to convince you I’m not promoting a ridiculous get-rich-quick scheme here.

What I can definitely assure you is I’m not this guy.

Indeed, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, because it involves smart strategy and hard work.

Let’s talk about how you should be using digital marketing to “get richer” as a small business owner or entrepreneur.

Small business owners make various social media mistakes that hurt their business.

We see a ton of opportunities for improvement when we check out a business’ online presence—fix the outdated website, clean up the Facebook page, start using email marketing, reply to negative reviews correctly, and so on.

However, as a small business owner, it’s perfectly understandable your digital marketing is not perfect. Why would it be? With how quickly the Internet changes, it’s more than a full-time job to stay on top of the latest tricks and strategies to grow your business online.

You’re great at making food, giving financial advice, planning events, or whatever your business is. It’s impossible to be an expert at everything.

You could read blogs like ours all day everyday to brush up on your digital marketing knowledge, but you shouldn’t—you should be focused on doing what you do best, running your business.

That’s why digital marketing consulting agencies like us exist—to do the heavy lifting for you, like a mechanic would fix your car or an electrician would wire your house. It’s just not efficient for you to learn how to do those things.

Every business owner isn’t ready to go all in and hire a digital marketing agency to handle everything. That’s understandable, it can be a big decision, especially if you haven’t experienced the power and importance of digital marketing firsthand.

Sometimes we talk to clients who just aren’t ready yet, sometimes it’s a budget or time issue, sometimes the business owner is a more “DIY” type who wants to get their hands dirty.

Whatever the case, we like to arm business owners with the tools they need to be successful, so we developed an offering to get you in the game at a lower price point you’d normally find given the ROI of the strategy.

We’re introducing our Digital Marketing Deep Dive packages. Here’s how they could be a game-changer for your business.

Double Your Sales With Our Digital Marketing Deep Dive Packages

We’re offering three tiers of packages so you can decide what’s right for your business and what investment you’re prepared to make.

We spent tons of time crafting the packages so they contain zero-fluff, actionable strategies and tools to grow your business.

Our Digital Marketing Deep Dive packages will equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to give your online presence a booster shot. Here’s what we’re including.

Online Listing Assessment And Recommendations

Outdated or incomplete online listings are a huge problem for your business. If customers can’t easily find your phone number, hours, or address, they’re not going to spend much energy tracking you down. They’ll just go to one of your competitors.

We’ll take a look at all your online listings on Google, Facebook, and other platforms relevant for your industry, and make an actionable list of changes you need to make to get the most out of this free advertising. We’ll tell you how to make the changes yourself, how to verify ownership of your business, and everything else you need to know to get your listings in order.

Social Media Reputation Audit

You’ve probably heard of Google and Facebook “algorithms” that determine how many users they show your business to.

Google, Facebook, and other platforms want to give users the best recommendations and most relevant content so they regard the platforms as reliable sources.

These companies have gotten smarter and figured out how to use a more complex algorithm to give great recommendations in search engine results and news feeds.

Your online reputation is becoming more important every day. Businesses who have zero, few, or negative reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other popular platforms are punished in search engine results and news feeds. These platforms don’t want to recommend businesses other customers didn’t like.

We’ll review your online reputation, make recommendations about how to reply to reviews (and answer any specific questions about particularly challenging customer comments), and give you strategies to get even more reviews. By doubling or tripling your number of 4-star and 5-star reviews, you will see an increase in customers discovering your business online.

Website SEO And Conversion Audits

Unless you’ve read digital marketing blogs before, you may not know what “SEO” and “Conversion” actually mean in the context of online presence. That’s exactly why we’re offering these packages!

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of strategies you can use to make your website appear higher in search engine results. By convincing the search engines your website is relevant to what users are searching for, your traffic will skyrocket.

Conversion optimization is a blossoming area of digital marketing. Like in typical sales, a “conversion” is when one of your website visitors takes a desired action, like buying a product, scheduling a demo, or joining your mailing list.

In our experience, most business websites are not optimized for conversions. Why invest the time and/or money on your website if you’re not going to get a solid ROI? And why literally give away customers to your competition when a few changes could drastically increase your conversions?

We’ll audit your website for SEO and conversions and tell you exactly what you need to do to get more out of your website. If you follow our recommendations, the money you spend on one of our packages will be the best, highest ROI money you’ve spent in a while.

SEO and conversion optimizations are included in our Maximize and Dominate packages. In the Dominate package, we’ll get access to your website and make the SEO improvements for you.

Paid Advertising

Since social media platforms are giving you less organic, free traffic than ever, it’s critical to run strategic paid advertisements even if you have a complete profile and post regularly.

In our Maximize package, we’ll give you everything you need to run a paid advertisement on the best platform for your business (it may be Google, Facebook, Instagram, or others depending on your industry and audience). And in the Dominate package, we’ll give you three.

These paid advertisements could be a blueprint for your most effective marketing spend this year. You’ll find yourself wondering why on earth you still spend money on dying, near obsolete industries like print advertising.

Clicking the Facebook “Boost” button is not nearly enough. That’s Facebook’s brilliant way to get more money from you, but it’s sort of like wandering into a casino and playing a game without knowing anything about the rules. You might win, but it’s just dumb luck.

There are specific things you need to do with ad targeting, placement, copy, graphics, and overall strategy. We’ve run tons of ads to learn what works best so you don’t have to. And we’ll give you what you need to get started with paid advertising or improve your current efforts. (Lots of businesses we talk to are frustrated by the poor performance of the online ads they run.)

Bringing It All Together

A consultation is included with all our packages—30 minutes for “Compete” and 1 hour for “Maximize” and “Dominate”. We’ll walk you through our recommendations and audits during the consultation so you have everything you need to bring your digital marketing to life.

We’ll send you some preparation materials to guide you to brainstorm questions, because we really want you to make the most of the consultation. We’ve done all the digital marketing research so you don’t have to. We can help you make decisions that’ll make a huge difference.

The packages include a few other goodies too, all of which are engineered to add immediate value to your business.

Are You Ready Or What?

Thirty years ago (or now), if someone called to offer you a free billboard ad placement for your business, I’m assuming you’d take it.

While paid advertising is important—and included in our packages—there are so many steps you can take to grow your business that are absolutely free. You just have to know what to do.

That’s exactly what our packages are designed to help you do.

If you have any questions before you’re ready to get started, please reach out and we’re happy to explain!

small-businesses-need-website

Small Businesses Without Websites Will Go Extinct Like Dinosaurs

By | Website | 2 Comments

Are you a small business without a website? Sorry to be a hater, but your business is in deep trouble of being extinct soon—like really soon.

This isn’t the boy who cried wolf. It’s an honest alarm.

Before we get into why, let me explain a high-level approach at the new business world.

Retail giants are in desperation mode after seeing other giants fall:

  • Circuit City declared bankruptcy in 2008
  • Blockbuster submitted bankruptcy filing in 2010
  • Sports Authority filed bankruptcy in 2016
  • Toys “R” Us goes bankrupt in 2017

I’m not making the point these companies didn’t have websites, because they certainly did. But they didn’t have a smart digital strategy to sustain their business or take it to the next level in the future.

For example, Toys “R” Us made a terrible decision by choosing to use Amazon for its e-commerce in 2000 instead of building out its own digital e-commerce store. When Toys “R” Us finally decided to get off the Amazon drug and wisely build their own e-commerce capability, they were already years behind their competitors and struggled to catch up.

The toy giant’s costly move to ignore its own online presence and online sales contributed strongly to its future bankruptcy (while Amazon’s profits are richer than ever).

The point is that you don’t want your company to ignore its online sales and become the Toys “R” Us of your space while your competitors steal your customers.

We’ve seen how that ends. We at Illumen Media want you to stay in business and thrive.

The only way to future-proof your business is to be on top of the newest trends: having a website to greet online shoppers and turn them into customers.

No Website, No Online Sales

all-businesses-need-websites

I hear the counterargument all the time when I do sales for my digital marketing company, “Oh no, we don’t need a website or online advertising. We use word of mouth to bring in new business.”

The funny part of this story is more often than not when I hear this I’m standing in their office lobby and it looks like a ghost town, kid you not.

In my head I’m thinking, “Sure looks like you could use some more sales! You sure you have enough income to pay for the electricity bill this month?”

Business clearly isn’t booming and they don’t have a website, you put the pieces together.

Now I’m not naive to think the only thing that can derail a business from bringing in new customers is the lack of a website. They could have a terrible product, zero marketing, unhelpful service, or rude customer support among other issues that are hurting the company’s success.

However, you can’t be too naive to believe that more online sales wouldn’t help a business grow into the modern world we live in. You’d have to dismiss the success of Amazon altogether to hold such an ancient perspective.

But here we are with nearly half of total businesses without a website to market themselves. In short, no online presence means no online sales.

That’s billions of dollars of revenue left on the table that each old-school company can grab a piece of the pie by adding a website and running online marketing campaigns to grab the consumer’s dollars.

Maybe they falsely believe their type of company doesn’t need a website. Maybe they don’t realize the power of online marketing. Maybe they’re scared of what they don’t know in a technical aspect. Maybe they’re stuck in the “we’ve always done lead generation this way” mindset. Or maybe they don’t believe they have the money for one.

Who knows the real reason, among plenty of other excuses I didn’t mention. I’d guess it’s a combination of all the above.

What I’m absolutely certain about is the loss of sales in the short-term and long-term for these website-less businesses. That’s undeniable.

Below is a list of every major benefit companies without a website and online traffic miss out on.

Reasons Websites Generate Sales

business-websites-generate-sales

A solid website can become the x-factor of your entire business going forward. Don’t underestimate its potential.

1. Websites market your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A website is truly your digital storefront with the best part being it’s always marketing your products and services 24/7/365, even when your office is closed.

It doesn’t need a lunch break, to sleep, or to recharge over the weekend.

And vacations? Your website has you covered. Holidays? Check. When you’re home taking care of your sick child? Done, don’t sweat it.

Literally any example you can think of, your piece of digital real estate will keep working for your business when you and your employees call it a day or take off work.

Get a solid, modern website and it will market your offerings non-stop to new visitors. This kind of workhorse effort should win employee of the month, every month!

2. Websites help your business get in front of new customers.

For local B2C businesses, thousands of consumers a day in a 10 mile radius of your business are typing in “(insert desired service) near me.” And people are also just as much searching for solutions from B2B companies.

Guess what? The companies with websites compete to be near the top result. And the companies without a website aren’t even in the game—they have a 0% chance to bring in any of these active online customers.

Also you can pair Google ads or Facebook ads with your website to jump to the top of these searches and promote your services at a very cheap rate of a few dollars per click. With no website, you can’t use the best modern advertising methods—Google and Facebook ads—to your advantage.

If you get in the game of attracting new customers by having a website built, marketing your business will take a giant leap forward.

3. Websites bring in more profits for your business.

It gets better than just marketing. With a well-designed website optimized for business conversions, your inbox will be filled with new leads and sales orders for you to wake up to.

That’s the definition of making money while you sleep—every sales rep and business owner’s dream come true.

All you have to set up on your new site is a form to capture visitors contact information—perfect for insurance companies, consultants, and software companies who need to have a consultation or demo to move the buying process forward.

And if you’re selling a product or service that can be bought right away, utilize an e-commerce plugin to let the customer buy from your site right then and there.

Besides being a master marketer and salesman, what else can the website do for your business?

4. Websites improve customer service by communicating important information.

Your site also acts as a communications center to answer customer questions, explain the benefits of choosing your business, and inform them of your company policies.

Just take a look at how some of our clients utilize their website to improve customer service:

  • A local baseball organization has a homepage list with all of their tournaments by date, name, age group, fields, and cost to enter
  • A dog groomer has a FAQs page to answer questions about what dogs they groom, the services they provide, and what payments they accept
  • A shopper software company utilizes video to explain their online tool and has a button for requesting a demo

This will save plenty of incoming phone calls and email correspondence when you can link to a page that already answers their questions to a tee. Plus, if there’s any confusion by a customer, they can always fill out the form on the Contact page to get clarification too.

It’s always good customer service to deliver answers to customer questions that’s just one click away.

5. Websites boost your company’s credibility and trust.

Not having a website is almost as bad as not having a business name. It’s sketchy. People like to see the copyright, address, telephone number in your footer.

They like to see your office building on the site or a picture of the CEO. Personifying your company in these manners builds trust, and we all know customers need to trust you before they pull the trigger to buy from you.

It’s not even the digital marketer in me who says this: If I see a company without a website, I 100% question if they’re still in business anymore. It’s a red flag for me and a concern for some other potential customers of yours.

Instead of giving the public a shaky feeling about your business, give them the opposite emotion of trust through a knockout website that shows we’re legitimate and ready to serve your needs.

6. Websites make it easy to expand your presence.

Businesses have been built solely on the back of search engine traffic (SEO), and you’re trying to say that free traffic from Google searches isn’t valuable to your business?

That’s crazy talk, especially if you have ambitions of growing a statewide, regional, or national presence in the future.

Even if you’re only local, you also won’t have to pay for online ads if you have a steady stream of organic traffic coming from Google.  

And even if you don’t want to grow your business, wouldn’t it be nice to raise your prices because of high demand? That’s more money to go in the pockets of your loyal employees and your own as the business owner.

Or you could take the work you want and profit share with a smaller company to send them business since you’ll have more than enough after your SEO kicks in.

7. Websites save you money and time.

Consider this. The average cost of one employee is say anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 or more per year for a small business, and the average cost of a standard website is around $1,000 to $3,000 for the build and then a small monthly hosting fee.

And already we’ve laid out how your online presence will improve your company’s marketing, sales, customer service, and brand reputation.

Couldn’t you let a few employees on your staff go since the website would make their previous job responsibilities redundant? That could be cost-savings of over $100,000 plus.

And an informative website with a helpful Frequently Asked Questions page can also save your employees time since they can redirect phone callers to the website instead of explaining the policies.

Since time is also money for a business, the question should be changed from where are you going to find the extra money for a business website to how can you afford not to invest in one?

8. Websites work to future-proof your business in the growing digital economy.

I see it time and time again. A company relied on radio, magazine, tv, billboard, or other old-school advertising to generate business. But then this well dried up and they have no way to make up ground in the new digital company.

Companies with mobile-ready websites are prepared for the new mobile age. Not only that, if done right, their website is actively:

  • Capturing emails to communicate and build relationships with their audience
  • Linking to the company’s social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter LinkedIn) to build their followers and stay top of mind with consistent posts
  • Pointing people to their Google listing to leave a review
  • Producing social media shares from their blog posts
  • Getting customer feedback to improve business operations

A website done right can build a future-proof base of touch points with your customers.

Plus, if a new technology comes out bigger than the internet—doubt it, but possible—you just lead your website traffic to that new platform and carry on.

Your Business Needs A Website

Call us at Illumen Media biased since we sell websites. But I swear I’d be singing the same song if we sold piano lessons.

A website is critical to your business success—some would argue there’s nothing more important based on its versatility to win you more business.

Do the best thing for your company and get in the digital world to connect with your audience. After all, you wouldn’t want to starve your business of these benefits.

  1. Websites market your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Websites help your business get in front of new customers.
  3. Websites bring in more profits for your business.
  4. Websites improve customer service by communicating important information.
  5. Websites boost your company’s credibility and trust.
  6. Websites make it easy to expand your presence.
  7. Websites save you money and time.
  8. Websites work to future-proof your business in the growing digital economy.

And if you have a website but it’s bad—ugly, hard to navigate, not mobile optimized, doesn’t clearly communicate what you do, doesn’t convert sales—you’re in the same sinking boat.

You too need to upgrade your digital real estate with a new and improved website. Sure it’s an investment, but the new website should more than pay for itself in the first year it’s up.

You’ll also change your company’s trajectory from the path toward extinction toward one of hopeful promise.

Why risk going out of business when your company can thrive online?

Related: 9 Ways To Update Your Business Website Out Of The Stone Age

cincinnati-web-design-company

Which Cincinnati Web Design Company Should You Choose?

By | Website | No Comments

Looking for a web design company in Cincinnati? Whether your old site needs a makeover or you’re starting from scratch, a professional looking website is undoubtedly one of the most important business investments you can make.

Don’t just believe my word for it. Let’s get into the evidence.

Just like first impressions matter when you meet someone face to face, the first impression your website makes when an online visitor scans it plays a tremendous role in their future actions.

According to a study, you only have 50 milliseconds to impress your audience with your website’s visual appeal.

Think about that: Not even 1 second goes by before your website’s appearance is judged!

Plus, another study found that website first impressions are 94% design related.

The evidence is undeniable: attractive web design is critical to shining a positive light on your business.

And another study found that the more visually appealing the website it is, the longer the visitor stays on your website.

I’m not surprised, are you?

To sum it up, effective web design influences the first impression and the duration of the visit to your online pages. It’s obvious to conclude that impressing the visitor and keeping them on your site longer increases the odds you convert them from web visitors to paying customers.

Meaning web design directly translates—and plays a major role—in the profitability of your business.

With real dollars to be won or lost based on the quality of your website, you shouldn’t trust yourself or your nephew to throw together C- level work.

You need an outstanding online appearance designed by professionals.

So who should you hire? This article is going to help you find the best Cincinnati web design company for your business website.

Qualities To Look For In A Web Design Company

All web design companies are not the same.

Some won’t listen to your vision for the site, some add no business sense in their design, others won’t have the skills to deliver a timely project, and some are unqualified on all fronts.

Avoid wasting your time and budget.

Instead, follow the three step process below to find the perfect company for your web design project.

1. Look at their website portfolio

First things first: Always ask a web design company you’re thinking about hiring for a sample of 3-5 websites they’ve done for previous clients.

This gives you an understanding for how experienced, credible, and skilled a company is at designing a website before you ever sign something. This is the single best way to weed out the contenders from the pretenders and get a feel for who can truly fulfill your project needs.

There’s a big difference in web design quality needed to build a personal blog compared to a national insurance company that sells millions of dollars a year through its website.

Better to know the company’s quality of work now than get a surprise after you sign them that they can’t deliver what you need done.

Another qualification method is to ask them how many years members of their team have spent building websites. I’d be skeptical if the person doing your site hasn’t been in this space for at least a few years.

Once you confirm a company has a solid portfolio and experience to deliver what you want done, next you need to look at their business mindset.

2. Evaluate their business sense

A beautiful website is important, don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first person to argue about the value of visual design.

But keep in mind you’re looking for a business website that’s going to help your company make more money.

That’s why a common mistake of some web developers is to only build the most aesthetically pleasing sites—while forgetting to consider how traffic will interact with the site, where the company can gather leads, and how to optimize features to maximize in store or online sales.

Amazing graphic design and images can’t ever make up for poor business strategy. A site that doesn’t lead visitors down a road to visit in store, give their email, fill out a form, or buy right then and there is a huge missed opportunity.

You need both visually pleasing pages and a conversion-focused layout (with the strategy mentioned in the sentence) to grow your business. That’s an absolute must in this age.

So if you find yourself gong any entire conversation without the web design company asking you about your business and the sales purposes of the website, you’re talking to the wrong company and should look elsewhere.

At Illumen Media, we design all of our client’s websites with an eye for what’s going to convert the most traffic into sales. We know the website isn’t about winning a design award, but convincing visitors to go from curious potential clients to paying customers.

Without any business acumen behind the design process, the website can look pretty but it misses the main point: to bring more cash flow into the company.

Watch out for web design companies that don’t have business knowledge.

3. Get a fair website quote and timeline

Say by now you’ve found a qualified website design team that is also business savvy.

It’s time for the difficult conversation. Because they can be the best designers and smartest business thinkers on the planet, but you’re going to have a heart attack when they ask you to pay your company’s entire annual revenue up front.

To avoid any surprises and misunderstandings, you need to get a quote of the project cost to see if you’re on the same page price wise as the Cincinnati web design company.

Price shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor since better designed sites bring in multiples more revenue. Though it does need to be in a reasonable ballpark so you can make a positive return on investment of this new website cost.

With a fair price in hand, the last hoop to jump is figuring out if your new website can be published in your desired timeline.

Different web designers have faster and slower work rates plus more or less human resources to throw at the project, which could drag out the completion date for weeks or months.

For businesses that need a website up fast to launch a new franchise location, for example, ensuring the project will be completed in time for the marketing rollout is critical.

Just understand your business and how important the turnaround time is before signing a company that can’t deliver a finished website that you need.

If a company says it’ll take a month longer than you need done to finish a website, you’d be wise to go elsewhere with your project.

Finish this step by finding a fair quote and website finishing timeline that both make sense for your business. With enough web design companies out there, don’t settle for an unfair price or unreasonable project completion schedule.

Final Web Design Thoughts

Hire your nephew to design one of the single most important customer facing assets of your business or rush this web design selection process, and the growth of your business will take a significant hit.

We recommend you don’t do either.

Instead, we encourage you to ask plenty of questions so you have enough information to select the right Cincinnati web design company given your needs and values.

And remember to ask relevant questions as you go through the three step process below to find a winning company:

  1. Look at their website portfolio
  2. Evaluate their business sense
  3. Get a fair website quote and timeline

As your digital forefront, the design of your website plays the most important visual role of your entire business.

A well-designed site convinces potential customers to buy. A poorly designed site does the opposite and causes visitors to quickly click out of your page to visit and spend their money with your competitors.

Make sure you’re maximizing your business’ profits by picking the right Cincinnati web design company!

It’ll make all the difference in the world to grow your company.

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