Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are customer error's costing you business?

Let me give you a little tip.

Not all of your customers are as computer savvy or internet savvy as you.

Let me give you another tip.

You probably have some links on your website that are broken.

So what happens when one of your potential customers tries to navigate to a page on your website that does not exist?

What happens is that they see an error page.

And what most business owners do not realise is that you have complete control over the page that they see.

Yet if you don't take control of this then they will see a default page that will look like one of the pages below.

These are just generic error pages that browsers display. They are usually just a collection of links to other websites.

Before you go any further with this post, go and test your website and see what kind of error page you get. Just type in an address for a web page that does not exist on your website and see what comes up.

Customers that see your error page are at a defining point in their relationship with their business. They will do one of two things.

1. They will leave your website and go somewhere else. This is the most likely option.

2. They will hit the back button on their browser and hopefully go back to the last functioning page on your website they visited.

You do have control over the error page that people see on your website.

Take a look at the error page. Quite simple, but with a prominent link back to the Amazon home page. This sends a message to the customer that Amazon want them to stay on their website.

Is your error page costing you business and losing you customers?

You do not need a fancy error page. You just need something that keeps people on your website so that you can build a relationship with them.

What does your error page look like?
Are customer error's costing you business?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Do you really know what your Website Really Looks Like?

Do you really know what your website looks like?

Sounds like a silly question doesn't it.

Maybe the question needs to be what do your customers see when they look at your website.

If you want the fancy web developer term, what I am talking about is 'cross browser compatibility'.

What that means is the same website will look different depending on what browser your customer uses to look at it.

Sometimes the differences might be just subtle. But sometimes certain elements of your website might not work at all!!

The difficult part of testing this is having access to different computers running different versions of the different internet browsers so that you can see what your website looks like on the different browsers.

Well, the good thing is you don't have to worry.

Head across to browsershots and you can have a look and see what your website looks like in the different browsers.

Enter the URL for your website and the browsers that you want to check and away you go.

You can also specify the screen size (not everyone has the biggest screen in the world), javascript, flash and colors.

This will allow you to see what your customers really see when they look at your website.

What browsers should you check?

If you have Google analytics installed on your website you will be able to see from your stats what browsers people are using to look at your website. This is the first place to start. Check these ones first.

will also give you stats about the browsers people are using to surf the internet.

For March 2009, 17% of people on the internet are still using Internet Explorer 6. 25% are using IE7 and only 1.4% are using the most current version IE8.

Nearly 50% of people are using Firefox. Test the latest version of Firefox and the next to latest. As a general rule, people that use Firefox keep their browser up to date because Firefox tells you when there is a new version available.

A little over 4% are using the new Google Chrome browser and a small percentage use Safari and Opera.

What do your customers really see when they look at your website?

If you would like a list of the browsers that I check please send me an email and I will send you the list that I use.

If you find you have issues with how your website looks in the different browsers drop me a line and I will help you sort it out.
Do you really know what your Website Really Looks Like?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Formula for Online Business Success

Are you looking for business success in the online world?

Do you feel frustrated by a lack of success in the online world?

I have a simple formula that I use to consistently produce success online, for both myself and my clients.


OK, so there it is.

When I work with a client or with one of my own websites and I sit down to assess how the website is performing currently I ask myself 2 questions to start with.

How much traffic is the website getting?

How well is the website converting this traffic?

So, how are you doing so far.

Let me give you a couple of common scenarios. Maybe you can relate to these.

Scenario 1 - No Traffic

This website has very little traffic.

It doesn't matter how good your website is, if you are not getting very much traffic to your website, your results are going to be limited at best.

The other challenge for a website that doesn't get much traffic is that it is difficult to get any meaningful results on testing to improve the website.

For a website that is not getting very much traffic there are a couple of things that I look to do to help to fix this.

Make sure that the website content is optimised so that it will feature in the search engines. Check out my post on seo for your website for more information.

Create content or use the existing content and submit it to article directories to create links and bring traffic. Once you get known in the article directories larger websites will often pick up and republish your content which will bring you more traffic and links.

Share your content in the social media world with twitter, facebook, digg, delicious, and reddit just to name a few. I use a little gadget called tell-a-freind by social twist.

Check out my posts on using social media to drive website traffic.

Buy traffic from google adwords.

It can take some time to bring traffic to your website. Buying traffic is usually the quickest way to bring traffic to your website. How much it costs will depend on your industry and how competitive your keywords are on Google adwords or Yahoo search marketing.

Scenario 2 - Poor conversion rate but plenty of traffic

This is perhaps the easier of the 2 scenarios to deal with.

How would I deal with this scenario. In a word split-testing

The first question you have to answer in terms of conversion is what is your website for? What is the end goal of your website.

The next question you need to answer is what is your current conversion rate.

If your goal is to sell something (e-commerce) and you get 100 visitors to your website and 1 buys your product then your conversion is 1%. If you can double your conversion to 2% then you have doubled your sales with no increase in traffic.

There are many elements on a website that affect conversion. Testing is really the only way to figure out what works best. I use Google Website Optimiser for my split testing. You need a Google Account to use it but it is free and it will tell you what you need to know.

In a nutshell what you do is you have 2 webpages that are slightly different. You might use a different header, different layout, different colors or different wording.

Just remember, only test 1 thing at a time.

Run a test over a few weeks or a month. You find that webpage 1 converts at 3% and webpage 2 converts at 5%. So, you use webpage 2. This then becomes your reference page. Test another page element against your reference.

Over time you can make a significant improvement to your conversion rate which will have a huge effect on your online business success.

So, what do you need to focus on. Traffic or Conversions?

If the answer is both, I would focus on traffic first because the more traffic you have to your website, the more quickly you can run tests in Google optimiser.

Where do you need to focus your efforts?

My Formula for Online Business SuccessSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, April 27, 2009

Split Testing - Taking the guesswork out of website design

Most business owners I know work very hard at getting the best results from their business efforts.

But, largely it can be a real process of trial and error.

Try this. No I think that worked better. Now try this. And so on. Often you can feel like you are running around in circles and getting nowhere.

Marketers have been using split testing for many years as a way to actually determine which headline or which graphic works better in their sales copy.

You can use the same process with your business website.

The tool I use for split testing websites is the Google Website Optimiser tool.
It is free and easy to use, and you get meaningful results.

The first question that you have to answer is 'What is the goal of my website?' What do I want people to do when they go to my website? Do you want them to buy something? Or do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want them to download something? Or do you want them to click on an affiliate link?

When you know what your goal is you then use this to determine the results of your split testing.

What kinds of things can you split test?



Page Layouts



Sales Copy

there are many different things that you can experiment with to improve the results of your website.

The Golden Rules Of Split Testing.

1. Only test 1 thing at a time. As you get more skilled with this process you can start testing multiple things at a time but to begin with only test 1 thing at a time.

2. Wait until you have a meaningful number of tests before drawing any conclusions. How long this takes will depend on your website traffic. On a website getting 50-100 hits per day I would run a test for 1 month. That way you have meaningful data before you draw any conclusions.

3. Always be testing. Constant Improvement is what we are looking for. I know in the past I have been guilty of trying to hit a home run, but often life and business are not like that. Gradual improvement on an ongoing basis is far more realistic.

Ramp Up Your Split Testing

If you have a budget that supports it, the main way that I increase the power of my split testing is to buy traffic using Google Adwords. If your website only gets a few hits per day because you are just starting out it can be difficult to do any meaningful testing.

The best way around this is to invest in some Google adwords and buy some traffic to your website. That is a subject for a whole other post but if you would like some info on Google adwords please drop me an email.

By picking the right keywords, for an investment of $10-$20 per day you can get enough traffic to your website to do some meaningful testing. Reinvest the improvements from your site for the first few months into more adwords and more split testing and before you know it you will be getting enough free traffic to your website that you may no longer need adwords.

The biggest mistake that most business owners make is that they have a website that remains static until they get tired of it and decide to engage someone to redesign it. And when it comes time to redesign their website they don't know what really works and what doesn't work on the current site.

Rule Number 1 - Always be Testing.

Rule Number 2 - Refer to Rule Number 1
Split Testing - Taking the guesswork out of website designSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Duplicate Content Penalty - Is it just BS?

OK. So here is my thought on the subject.

The Duplicate Content Penalty is BS.

So, some of you might be saying 'What is this Duplicate Content Penalty?'

The duplicate content penalty is something that has been tossed around for years that says that the search engines will penalise you if you have a piece of content on one of your web pages that is the same as a piece of content on a web page on another website.

It doesn't happen.

If it did happen, article directories like ezinearticles would not exist. I have many articles on ezinearticles that are also on my web design website. I have posted these articles on other article directories as well.

I don't see ezinearticles suffering too much from this duplicate content.

If the duplicate content penalty existed I could quite conceivably put the article directories out of business by posting my articles to as many of them as I possibly could so that they all got hammered by Google for having duplicate content. Ridiculous.

On a number of occasions I have had one of my articles picked up by manta. I like it when that happens. They are a PR6 website with about 5 million unique visitors per month. So, they get one of my articles of ezinearticles and republish it on their website.

Doesn't seem like they are too worried about a duplicate content penalty.

So, if you have some really good content and you are worried about putting it out there because you don't want to get penalised for duplicate content - TAKE OFF THE HANDCUFFS.

There is a whole lot of link love you are missing out on. I regularly use 4-5 article directories for each article I write. I often put content up on Squidoo as a lens. I write eHow articles from my content. I put content on my blog that is on my website and vice versa.

If you have been holding yourself back because you have been worried about getting penalised for duplicate content - STOP. It won't happen.

The Real Duplicate Content Penalty

OK. So here is what you don't do. Create a website with 100 pages, 1 page of unique content and 99 pages of copy. Google won't love you.

That is the duplicate content penalty.

It is generally accepted that the Google algorithm takes into account the size of your website. It stands to reason that a 1000 page website would have more authority than a 1 page website.

Now, don't get me wrong it is entirely possible to get a 1 page website to rank well in the search engines.

But, it must be unique content. That is what duplicate content is all about.

So, use your content. Submit it to article directories. Make a squiddo lens. Write some eHow articles. Make a blog.

Use your content to create links back to your website to bring traffic and to help you rank better in the search engines.

Create some link love for your website.

Duplicate Content Penalty - Is it just BS?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, April 24, 2009

Top 5 OnPage SEO Factors for Optimising your Website

I believe in getting bang for my buck. I like to maximise the return on investment for my time and money so that I can get more done in less time and with less money.

In that regard I don't imagine that I am too much different to anyone else.

So, when you look at optimising the content of a webpage, what areas do you need to concentrate on.

Before you do anything you must know what keywords you are looking to target. If you want more information about how to do your keyword research check out my post on keyword research for your business.

so, once you know what keyword or phrase you are looking to target on your page there are 5 main areas of onpage content that have a major bearing on how the search engines will treat your website.

1. URL

Other than the home page of your website (which is probably index.html), you should look to include some keywords in the URL of the pages on your site.

eg. if you are a web designer, the url for the main page on your website that relates to your web design services could be something like ''.

2. Page Title

This is a crucial piece of information to tell the search engines what your page is about.

If you are calling your home page 'Home Page' then you need to take a long hard look at your website.

I just did a Google search for 'home page' and guess what sites come up on the front page. Websites like BBC, Wikipedia, NASA, Microsoft, CNN, iGoogle, Adobe, Mozilla, Opera and Apple.

That is some pretty tough competition!! And even if you did get on the front page is it likely that your potential customers are typing the search term 'home page' into their browsers in an attempt to find your website.

Make your page title relevant to what your business does and include a call to action to get people to click on your link.

eg. 'Professional Freelance Website Design - Free Website Reviews available to make your website perform better'.

3. Meta Description

This is the part of your page that describes to the search engines what this page of your website is all about.

It also appears in the search results underneath the page title.

Do not overdo the keywords and use some words and phrases related to the main phrase that you have used in your URL and title.

Sell benefits of your product or service because this will come up in the search engine results. Give people a reason to click on your link.

4. The Main Heading

Because people tend to scan web pages rather than read them comprehensively you need to be using headings within your content to break up the text and give the readers a clue as to what the content is about.

These headings are coded into your webpage using the 'tags' H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. If you don't know any HTML don't worry. Just look at the main heading on your page. This should be the H1 heading.

First question is, 'Is there a main heading?'

Are there any headings at all?

If there is a main heading does it contain your keyword or keyphrase or something very close to it?

If not, this is another area you can make significant improvements to the SEO of your website. Look at the content of your page and for each paragraph write an appropriate heading that utilises one of your keyphrases.

At the top of the page, write a heading that relates to the content of the whole page, and also uses your keyphrase or a related phrase.

Your main heading may even be the same as your page title.

Search engine robots also scan the code on your page looking for the heading tags to find out what your page is about. Use specific terms, rather than no terms at all or a generic term.

One of the most common generic terms I see on websites is the term 'products'. Do a Google search for the term products and see who you are competing against.

5. OnPage Links

These are the links on your website that point to other pages on your website. They might be in your navigation menu, or in the content of the page. this is another great place to use your keywords.

(Come real close just for 1 minute. Closer. Closer. I don't want anyone esle to hear this)

DO NOT USE 'CLICK HERE' to link to another page on your website. Sorry for shouting at you.

When Google spiders follow links over the internet one of the ways they know where they are going to is the text associated with the link they are following. It would be a bit like driving down the highway and seeing a roadsign that said 'There". OK, so you would know you were going 'There', but would you really know if you wanted to go 'There' or not. You would much rather know you were driving to LA or Sydney, as opposed to 'There'.

Just for one last exercise, do a Google search for 'Click Here' to see what websites you are competing against if you use this term to identify your links.

And, are your customers really going to be typing 'Click Here' into Google to try and find your business?
Top 5 OnPage SEO Factors for Optimising your WebsiteSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Business Blogs - Onsite or Offsite

A blog is a great way for a business owner to add fresh content to their website quickly and easily without having to engage their web designer.

As a business owner one of the things you need to decide is do you want your blog to be onsite or offsite.

Here are some of the pros and cons for both scenarios. Each has their advantages and disadvantages and you need to decide which one best suits your business situation.

Onsite Business Blog

Advantages of having your blog onsite include -

1. It is easy for your visitors to find your blog.
2. You can add new content to your website quickly and easily.
3. Search Engine ranking benefits of being able to add keyword related content to your website and being able to feed your website with new content on a regular basis.


1. Your links will count as internal links rather than external links
2. If you are not a web designer there will be a cost to add a blog to your website.

Offsite Business Blog (eg. Blogger)


1. You can link back to content on your website as external links
2. No setup cost


1. You won't be able to add new content to your main website. You could use a product like RSS Content Builder to get around this. There is a cost associated with this.
2. No direct search engine benefit to your main website. However if you can build you offsite blog so that it gets noticed by the search engines you will get some benefit when you make links back to your main website.

Regardless of whether or not you have an onsite blog or offsite there are some key things you must do to ensure your blog is successful.

1. Have a plan to post content to your blog on a regular basis.
2. Make sure the theme of your blog is consistent with the theme of your website and your business.
3. Create an RSS feed using a service like feedburner.
4. Use Zimbio to share your content. Check out my post on sharing your content for more information about Zimbio.

Make your blog fun and interesting and share useful content with your visitors and customers.

Business Blogs - Onsite or OffsiteSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Share your blog content with the world - Free traffic and more Backlinks

OK. So you have a piece of quality content that you have put on your blog and now you want to promote it to the world. Find people that don't know about your blog and bring them back to your site. How do you do it??

Check out

This website is a collection of online magazines, and a great way to post your content onto other websites. This will get you in front of people that don't know you and will bring links back to your website as well.

Here is a few stats about Zimbio that should excite you. PageRank is 6 so Google loves them. Alexa rank at time of posting is 528. Compete tells me they got over 4 million unique visits for March 2009. This will get you some serious exposure and for little or no time.

OK, so here is what you need to do.

1. Create an account at Zimbio.

2. Register your RSS feed and they will automatically pick up your blog posts.

3. Search Zimbio for relevant ezines that relate to your content or niche.

4. Weekly, I log in to my Zimbio account and you will find your blog posts listed and you can then nominate which ezines you want to post them to.

That is about how hard it is.

I have about 5 ezines on Zimbio that I post my content to that all relate to my niche. At the moment I am averaging about 3 blog posts per week. For each blog post I get a link back to my blog associated with the post, and I also get to include links within the content to other blog posts and to my other websites. Don't go over board with the links, but if you have 3-4 links within your content that is 4-5 links per post. That is an extra 10 to 15 links per week which is 500 to 750 links over a year.

The other great thing about these links is you have complete control over what you link to and what text you attach to the link, making the links more valuable to you.
Share your blog content with the world - Free traffic and more BacklinksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Share your blog content with the Social Media World

It is no secret that social media must be one of the greatest ways to promote your business and content to the world.

You can even get your users to do it for you.

So I wanted to share with you quickly one of the best and quickest ways that I have found to automate this process, and make it really easy for you and your users to promote your content.

Given the large numbers of social media sites it can be quite time consuming to setup all these submission gadgets on your blog, they can take up a lot of space, and often it makes it too hard for your readers to be bothered doing it.

So, how about one gadget that does it all for you. Twitter, FaceBook, Digg, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Myspace - you name it.

One of the blogs that I watch on a regular basis is Sitefling by Justin Brooke. You should check it out for info about web design and internet marketing.

I noticed a while ago on Justin's blog that he had a gadget on the bottom of each blog for sharing his posts. The gadget is Tell-a-Friend by SocialTwist.

Go check it out if you want to ramp up your blog profile. Make it easy for your blog users to promote your content and bring more traffic back to your blog.
Share your blog content with the Social Media WorldSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, April 20, 2009

Every Small Business should have a Blog

Let me say it again!!

Every small business website should have a blog!!

Why do I say this?

I think there are 2 main very important reasons why a small business should have a blog.

1. You can quickly and easily put new content onto your website.

One of the main challenges facing small business owners on the internet is how do they get new content onto their website, quickly, easily and for free.

The best way that I know to do this is with a blog.

I have worked with a lot of business owners on their websites and one of their biggest challenges is that once their website is up and running and they have paid their website designer they cannot put any new content onto their site, without paying more money to their website designer. So, quickly their website becomes out of date and stale, and their business suffers as a result.

But, with a blog you don't need to have any knowledge about HTML or web design. Open up your blog, start writing, put in a photo or two if you want, and a few links back to your main website and there you have it.

You can even pay a few dollars to your website designer, and get the new posts from your blog fed directly back onto the home page of your website so that your new and current content is posted directly onto your main website. This will cost you to setup but there are no ongoing fees associated with this.

2. Create links back to your website

Small business websites suffer in the search engine rankings for a couple of reasons, but one of the main ones is that they have no links back to their website.

Include a link back to your website each time you make a blog post. Link to a relevant page on your website.

DO NOT always link back to your home page. Search engines don't like this.

Create a feed for your website at Feedburner and then use this feed to post your content at Zimbio. You will need to create accounts but this takes about 10 minutes. From your Zimbio account you can then post your blog posts to different ezines all over the internet bringing more links back to your website.

Want to find out more about including a blog on your website. Chack me out at Professional Website Design
Every Small Business should have a BlogSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, April 17, 2009

18 Websites to Bring you more Free Traffic and More Links

In order to bring more traffic to your business website you need to generate links back to your website.

One of the best ways to do this is to promote your business by submitting content to other websites. When doing this you can create a link back to your website to bring you targeted traffic.

How can you do this for FREE?

Here is a list of 18 websites that I use to bring free traffic back to my websites and those of my clients.

Create a blog - post new content directly to your blog. Link it back to your main website. - submit 300-500 word articles and include 1-2 links back to your website in the author bio box at the bottom of each article. - write 5-10 step How To articles. - similar to - article directory - automatically post content straight from your blog and then submit it to ezines all over the web that relate to your industry. - advertise your business services and products. - business classified advertising

USFree - the name says it all. - the name tells you nothing but this is another classified website.

MySpace Classifieds


YouTube - got a promo video for your business. Upload it to YouTube. Maybe you are a movie star in the making!!

Squidoo - create lens for your products and services and link them back to your main business website. - another article directory

FaceBook Classifieds - promote your website to users within their nominated fields of interest.

Across the internet there a thousands of articles directories and large numbers of video submission websites. I have not even covered podcasts.

You can quite literally from one piece of content submit it to 20 or 30 different websites all giving you links to your website and bringing you targeted traffic.

Even if you only create 1 piece of content each week that is 20-30 links per week which is 100 links per month. That could make a big difference to your traffic volumes and search engine rankings.
18 Websites to Bring you more Free Traffic and More LinksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting your keyword research wrong will cost your business lots of time and money

How big is the market that your business serves?

Are you a local business?

Do you serve the market within your state?

Do you service a national market?

Can you service the world?

Or do you regularly send orders to Mars?

This needs to be the first question that you ask yourself when you think about keyword research for your business website. If your business only services a local area then there is no point in attracting customers from outside of that area to your website.

If you cannot service them then you do not want them!!

And the second point is that it will be much harder to get your website to the top of the search engine rankings for a generic search term, than it will be for a search term that targets a specific geographic area.

Lets look at an example.

You are a dentist. You own a dental surgery in Tampa. You specialise in cosmetic dentistry. You have a website that you are looking to optimize so that you can get more traffic to generate more leads.

So, which search term do you want to optimise your website for.

If you do a search for 'dentist' you will find that the number one website for that search term out of 33,500 000 results has a PageRank of 6 and in excess of 11000 inbound links according to Yahoo.

So now you do a search for 'cosmetic dentist' and find you are only competing with 5,800 000 other websites. Number 1 site has a PageRank of 5 and about 10000 inbound links.

So now lets look at 'cosmetic dentist tampa' and all of a sudden you are only competing with 416,000 websites. Number 1 site has a PageRank of 1 and 5 inbound links. THIS IS YOUR MARKET AND YOU CAN COMPETE WITH THIS.

One of the major mistakes that I find with local businesses is that they want their website to compete on a national or international scale. You do not need this and you cannot service this market. You are wasting time, effort and money if you are trying to do this.

Would you like to know what you have to do to get on the first page of Google for your business website. I offer a FREE website review service. I will compare your website with the top 10 websites for your competing search term and show you what you need to do to get to the top of the search rankings.
Getting your keyword research wrong will cost your business lots of time and moneySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend