Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Managing your website

No matter how detailed your website is, it still needs management.

Staying on top of the search engines is the minimal type of management for an information only site but also applies to all sites. Monitoring your traffic, supplementing your site with up to date and changing information, and ensuring your links stay linked are some ways to stay on top of the search.

If you are collecting email information and providing an email address for customers to contact you with, you should consider your website as department of your business. Data collected needs to be monitored and utilized, whether it is a newsletter to be sent out to email participants or analysis of data for that marketing campaign. Emails and any identifiable customer data collected need to be protected and managed.

If you use the web to sell your product, then consider your online store to be a separate branch of your business; just like any other separate physical location. Your website then needs to be staffed, so that you are prepared to deliver the same superior customer service that you provide at your physical locations. In talking to business owners I often hear stories about websites set up to sell products that went undelivered with sales lost because management wasn't positioned to fill the orders.

Whatever the scope of your website; be sure your company protocols include your website management.     

Monday, December 27, 2010

Have Accessories to Complement Holiday Gifts?

Does your business offer training, classes or accessories to big ticket items given as gifts this holiday season?

Whether you provide computer training for those new iPads or you sell snow plow accessories for that new tractor, now is the time to assist customers with accessorizing their holiday gifts. 

One great way to get your business in front of the customer is to offer an e-coupon. Google has a great way to offer an e-coupon to customers. The coupon can be accessed by computer or those mobile devices that your customers received this holiday season.

Just go to Google Places and follow the instructions to add a coupon.

So help that customer add some thread to that sewing machine or a new cover for that iPad by offering a convenient e-discount.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This is the time of year that all businesses (and individuals too) start to think about purging last year's files, archiving what won't be needed in the future, and creating some new goals for the coming year.

When you start planning for the new year don't forget to include your website. This would be an excellent time to do a site review. Make sure your link and contact information is up to date.

While you are making your business goals, make some goals for your website. Then, by using available analytic software, put those goals into action and test the website to make sure your goals are met.

Whether your site is designed to attract new customers and collect emails for newsletters, or to directly produce sales; you can set goals and experiment with various page designs, wording, and information to insure that your goals are met.      

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Your Varied Customer Base

Keeping an eye on how your diverse customer base interacts with your business online is essential. 

If all your customers own laptops and smart phones and access your site via the most current and updated browser editions, your job is easier than if you have a wide array of customers using all sorts of versions of software and hardware.

Building a site with web compliant coding and verifying that the coding is correct through online sources is the first step toward providing a pleasant visit that accomodates all of your customers.

Providing a site with basic coding that provides information in an informative and attractive way is the next step; although it is tempting to add a touch of flash here and there for the customers who have the ability to correctly access and display this type of contact.

Unfortunately even the big guys can't please all of the people all of the time. With new technologies coming out all of the time; new platforms, web code, browsers, browser versions, hardware, software, web phones;  the list could go on and on; decisions need to be made and limits set.

By keeping an eye on your website stats or using free tools like Google Analytics, you'll be able to tell how your customers are viewing you and if tweaks are possible or necessary.   

Monday, December 13, 2010

Google your business

Periodically you will want to run a series of searches relative to your business in each of the major search engines to find out how your business comes out. At the same time this allows you to monitor any comments that your customers leave on line about your services and products.

Perform a search on your business name, your type of business, and a couple of your top products or services.

The search results can be an eye opening experience and can allow you to nip customer related issues in the bud and turn around an instance of negative perception into superior service.    

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Your Business on Google Places

Google Places is an excellent place to list your business.

As search engines become better able to serve the local customer up with the offerings in a given area via smart phones and laptops, you will want to make it easier for search engines to find you.

Once you list your business on Google Places, you are provided with tools that monitor number of views, how your business is coming up on the search engines, and if and where your location is being mapped from.

Another great option is the ability to add an online coupon to entice customers to visit your business over another locally. What a great handy feature!

When listing your website don't forget to add a link to your website in your listing for customers who need more information regarding your services or products. 

Reviews of your business can be posted to Google Places. You can also post a Google Places bar code in your physical business. Interested customers with appropriate software on their phone can scan your bar code and have instant access to your web pages.

To stay ahead of the competition, Google Places is definitely a place to be seen. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Posts to your Website

Don't miss out on the opportunity to add some holiday cheer to your website.

Whether it is a whole product page featuring holiday offerings or sales; or an updated post to your business' blog, don't miss the chance to persuade customers to visit your business with some holiday cheer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Although no password is completely uncrackable, (just ask the U.S. government with all the leaks lately), there are some precautions you can take to make your passwords more secure and more difficult for the crooks.

  1. Don't use names of your children or pets.
  2. Avoid using words at all.
  3. Try changing e's to 3's or i's to 1's
  4. Use some special characters like &, *, ? if possible.
  5. To make things easy for you, yet secure, try memorizing a poem or song. Use only the first letter of each word in the poem as a password.   
Unfortunately there are people with way too much time on their hands ready to take advantage and a strong password is a way to force most of them to move on to the next website.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I love visiting sites that are innovative and magical. Most of these sites use Flash in most, if not all, their magic.

Flash, if not done right, can create many problems for your visitors. Flash programs can be purchased separately for your website from vendors that specialize in Flash. The programming for your specific website can become fairly complicated, adding additional expense to your site.

All visitors may not be able to view your site as designed so back up code for visitors with older browsers or current browsers that don't read the code needs to be included, making this a job not to be recommended for a DIY job.

Another issue to keep in mind when adding Flash to your website is that Flash is not searchable by search engines. Special care should be taken with Search Engine Optimization so that your site gets the recognition it deserves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Color links

The web is full of wonderful information and tools to help with website decisions. Here are a few links to help with color selections:

  1. Color Schemer
  2. ColorMaker
  3. HTML Color Chart -- gives you a quick reference to color codes
Other useful tools to help with color are Corel's Photoshop Pro and CorelDraw, which has one of the best tools that I have found to help choose the right color group for your site or project. 

Monday, November 22, 2010


Choosing a color scheme for your website can seem like a daunting task. So many to choose from:

Should you go with complementary colors to your product or logo? Should you go with the new celery green or pumpkin orange? Stick to your favorite color? Trust your web designer?

Color on the web is an ever moving target. One of the first things a textbook on web design or coding teaches is that there are web safe colors. These are the colors that are most likely to be produced true by current technology. What this means is that the colors that you agonized over for hours, and that your web designer has coded meticulously for you, can be rendered differently by a web browser. And in a matter of seconds your site goes from deliciously key lime to mucky green slime.

There are so many things that affect how a website is rendered. Sites look different depending on the screen type and resolution of the monitor. Different computers render different looking colors. Browsers affect how color is generated. User settings can make colors lighter, darker, or completely different.

So what can be done to keep that glorious key lime from turning into slime? Your web consultant may have some tricks up her sleeve. There are ways of keeping colors true overall that require a little tweaking to the choice of color and the coding of the site. But keep in mind that the user, your visitor or customer, is always ultimately in control. And that, after all, is what it is all about.      

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Top 10 reasons you should hire a Web Consultant

  1. Your web mail has been down; forcing you to post a new email address on your site with apologies to customers for not responding to them for over 10 days.
  2. You've posted your own site but don't have time to test it in major browsers other than the one you are using. You don't know what is meant by resolution.
  3. You've never heard of SEO or site maps.
  4. Your text and pictures are joining each other in the same space and time and that's not exactly the creative image you were going for.
  5. Your page makes high speed Internet feel like a dial up connection.
  6. You haven't had time to update links or post to your blog since 2007.
  7. One of your visitors thought you were an antique dealer because your pictures need updating.
  8. Pictures need to be edited; they're too dark, too fuzzy, or just not that great.
  9. You just don't have the time to do two jobs well.
  10. You want your site to look better than the competition.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The coming of HTML5

The Internet powers that be occasionally update coding.

The next update is just beginning to be seen in the form of HTML5.

Although not currently supported by all the major browsers, browser support is increasing and a major step towards compliance is the release of Internet Explorer 9.

Although older or existing sites should still work well under the new code this may be a good time to get with your web consultant to review your website functionality and discuss what HTML5 can do for you.     

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Websites DIY?

Here are a few ways that you can bring your business to the web:

 Use the tools on the web to do it yourself.
This option is attractive to technically orientated business owners. It certainly is the cheapest alternative and there is some reasonable and even free software available on the web or from hosting providers. This option is good for someone who has a lot of time to learn the ins and outs of website building. You should also purchase a good picture editor and learn how to use it or have someone professionally edit or do your photography. 

Find a friend who will do it free or for nominal fee
Beware of this option. In my marketing rounds I frequently hear of this option being used to the detriment of all. Students and friends move on to other things and are unavailable when things need updating, problems arise, or you need password information.

Hire an cheap online service
Companies like Yahoo have services online that allow you to acquire a website for sometimes 1/2 the cost of a professional. The site will be more generic and you will be required to upload some of the information. In addition there may be additional fees for add ons. Search Engine Optimization may not be included for all search engines. Future support might be spotty at best.

Hire a professional
You may be pleasantly surprised if you have shied away from a website because of cost. A 5-6 page site that provides contact information, service and production info, and a newsletter sign up can be obtained for a nominal fee. Additional fees are required only for more fancier sites with Flash programming or security encrypted sites with shopping carts. And if you require Flash or shopping carts you should hire a professional; these are not options that would be recommended for the DIY. When you go with a professional you will be assured of follow up if problems should arise.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Ten Ways Your Business can use a Blog to Interact with Customers

1) Showcase a new product.

2) Have an online class.

3) Post pictures of customer's using your product or services.

4) Use the blog to post news of sales and post coupons.

5) Have guest experts in your field post to your blog.

6) Spread problem solving solutions.

7) Provide upcoming news about your product or services.

8) Going to a tradeshow? Provide an insiders view.

9) Use the blog as a special club page. 

10) Use it as a forum for answering questions.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Building your Site with a Web Consultant

With so many new faces moving in and out of web consulting how do you pick a web consultant and remain confident that the consultant won't leave you high and dry?

1) Ask for a business history. Even newbies have some kind of history whether it is from a school or previous business experience.

2) Get a written agreement up front.

3) Don't give your own password to your web consultant. If your web consultant sets up your initial site, request your own ID and password and when you receive it change the password immediately. I often hear about password issues. You should have your own log on information separate from anything the web consultant uses.

4) Get estimates and examples of what you can expect before you pay a dime.

5) Do not pay the whole fee up front; and get a delivery completion date in writing. Include in any agreement what will happen if the work isn't completed as agreed.

Following a few simple guidelines will insure that your website project is just what you ordered, completed on time, and that you still hold the keys in the end.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Your Web Consultant

When I'm out talking to people about their websites I often come across business people who aren't happy with their current website and yet have spent thousands of dollars with no satisfaction.

I feel really bad for these bad experiences. Hiring a web consultant should not be a difficult process. Even start up businesses should have some kind of portfolio or sample of what they could do for your business.

Samples should be posted right to the internet and should work as you navigate them. If the web consultant doesn't have good examples then before your business hands over a dime you should ask for a working example, maybe even something worked up specifically for your business.

Building a website is like building a physical building. The final payment shouldn't be paid until you are satisfied. And you should ask for a guarantee up front.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Consulting Tech Sample

The other new sample that I've posted on the Blue Heron Moon Website is a sample that could be great for a service or consulting business.

There is a space in the middle to incorporate a news feed. The rest of the page has sections to draw the visitor in to each section of the website by giving a sampling of what each page contains. There is a great place for customer kudos.

This page contains the rounded corners and clean lines that are currently popular in web design. And, unlike a lot of the new designs, it works at all resolutions and in all browsers.

This is a versatile design that could be adapted to any type of service business.     

Monday, October 25, 2010

New samples on the Blue Heron Moon Website

I've been working on updating the samples on the website. It's a challenge doing the samples. I prefer getting the customer's requirements and then working out the site; sometimes though, a little bit of inspiration is in order.

Last week I put a sample together that I think would be great for a retail business, service business such as a hair salon or dog groomer, or any business where you have loads of information, products, and services that you want to put out there.

Everyone has seen those sites that are so busy you can't find what you need. The retail sample handles this problem by having a main category menu up on top with each secondary page containing lower level, left side menus. This takes the clutter off of the landing page and allows the visitor to have a more pleasant organized experience.

If you're in need of an interesting, more organized layout for your retail site and don't want to take it on yourself; take a look at our sample and then give us a call. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giving Local Businesses a Chance

I love a town with a Main Street. The kind that looks like a Christmas village. The kind that has quaint little awnings over the store fronts where you expect the shop keeper to come out any minute and sweep the walk.

The town I grew up had a Main Street and everyone knew all the shopkeepers from the baker, to the meat cutter, to the pharmacist. And the owner of the furniture store would bring his broom out to sweep the sidewalk and talk to the owner of the clothing and shoe store next door.

Local businesses are important especially in a global world where you can be doing business with someone in another country every afternoon. The sense of community in a town with a Main Street that is still in tact is priceless. It's a nice place to be a child in.

This is the type of world I enjoy putting on the web the most; a Main Street to compete with the big guys in the global market.

For a view from the perspective of one of those small business owners read this blog.           

Monday, October 18, 2010


A ghostwriter may be just what you need to get a blog started. The ghostwriter can provide content and make you sound like a great person.

Ghostwriters are not a new concept, they've been around seemingly from the beginning of time. Mozart actually ghost wrote compositions for patrons that wanted to be viewed as talented composers.

A ghosterwriter can also handle your email correspondence and interface between you and your customers.

When you are thinking about a ghostwriter be sure to be clear regarding what subjects you expect and what type of responses you would like to have the ghost writer send. The ghostwriter should be writing as an extension of you; as your proxy.

Outline what control, if any you would like to have over the end product. Does the writing get done and sent to you for approval? Are there certain responses that can be sent without approval?

These items should be outlined in advance. The rules should  not be so stringent that they hold up regular blogs to your customers or responses to their emails. With a little advance planning your blog will be a masterpiece that writes itself without you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your image or theirs....take your pick

I've been reviewing potential clients for website designs and this always reminds me of the main reason you should manage and protect your online image and presence. If you don't manage your image then someone else will and you may not like what they say about you.

There were a couple of businesses that I looked up today that didn't have websites posted. They may be businesses that feel they don't need to worry about the internet.

These companies have customers that use the internet. Customers tweet about service experiences. They send really nice emails to their friends about products. They can also post your business to a site and complain; fair or not. A negative post may just be a customer's messed up perception of you or your business but there it is posted on the information highway like a neon billboard.

These posts will show up every time someone searches for a business like yours or Googles your business name.

So what do you do? If there is no accommodation with the customer the best thing to do is post your own information on your own website about your business. You can detail what your return policy is on your own site. You can provide an email address so that potential customers who are unsure can ask questions. In other words, you can create your own business image.

It's your choice. Their image or yours?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why your business should have a website.

There's a small businessman in town that is a marketing genius and he used the web to do it.

Today's customers like to interact. They like to feel appreciated. They want value and they want to belong. If you give them all of this, they will loyally return time and time again.

This small businessman put up a website. He added some history about his business. He gathered email addresses. He gave small discounts and advance notice to sale items to his website customers. It was like joining an insiders club.

If you give customers what they want they will return to you again and again. They will tweet friends about you. They will forward email newsletters to their family members. They'll welcome your newsletter into their inbox every week.

And when your newsletter is in their inbox they won't forget to come visit your business.

Websites are one of the most reasonable priced ways that you can interact with your customers. Go ahead; make them feel special; part of the family. They'll keep coming back to you time and time again.          

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why your business should have a blog

Why should your business have a blog? Why should you spend the time and effort? Because it will give your customers something to talk about and when they are talking about your business you gain new customers.

Here are the top eight reasons you should maintain a business blog. 
  1. It keeps content fresh.
  2. Your customers have a reason to return to your site.
  3. It keeps your business in front of your customers.
  4. Your customers can interact with your site and provide feedback
  5. It's a place to to give helpful tips and advice.
  6. You can announce sales, promotions, and post coupons.
  7. It'll let your customers get to know you.   
  8. Search Engines.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Have you ever visited a website and then was assaulted by an overload of information and links? You know the kind of site I'm talking about; tiny pictures everywhere surrounded by even tinier fonts.

There's gotta be a better way and, fortunately, there is. If you have a business that sells different items; the items can be categorized into links to individual pages. If, then, you need to categorize the items even further, they can be easily linked to sub-categorical pages.

You can follow the same strategy if you have a lot of information on different services or issues. The best way to handle this is a main menu that applies to all pages across the top of a page with sub menus running down the side on each sub-page.

Making your home page clean and organized with links to pages with tiered information relegated to different pages is the best way to prevent information overload to your customer.            

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Submitting your Sitemap

Once you have your xml sitemap built or updated you need to submit to the search engines so they find you sooner rather than later.

Google has the easiest, most user friendly and documented procedures. You first sign up for a Google webmaster account (using your current Google ID if you have one.) Then you follow the procedures on this Google Web Page.  Google will tell you within usually 24 hours if your Sitemap passed the test. If so then you can proceed to send to the other search engines.

Submitting to Bing is basically the same type of procedure. Bing does have some tools to monitor your site where you can monitor how your site does through the various search tools.

Yahoo's site is located at this link. Yahoo will notifyyou when your site has been accepted under your "My Sites" tab.

Sitemaps should be submitted anytime you make a change to your site.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Searching for you.

You have built a great site. You've included a lot of good content and interesting tips for your readers. You've made sure all your key words are in place. Now what?

Make sure you have a site map and submit that site map to the major search engines. A site map is a special XML document that notifies everyone that you are posted to the net and open for business.

Before you even post your site, though, make sure it is web compliant. There are a couple of sites on the web where you can check the code. The cleaner your code, the better chance you will have in the billions of pieces of data that are currently competing for attention on the net.

 You'll want to make sure that all your links are good. Search engines coming across a site with a lot of missing links may assume that it is an old, abandoned site.

Once you're sure that your site is in good working order, submit your site map to the major search engines. It may take some time for you to arrive. But we will find you.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Keeping your Audience Enthralled by Your Blog

Do you wonder what topics on your blog attract the most viewers? Are you thinking about running a series to explore one of your target topics in more depth?

Google Analytics can provide you with the data that you need to grab the topic with the most interest so that you can expand that topic and keep your audience returning for more.

Sign into your Google account and click on Content/Top Content on the left hand menu. Top topics will be listed.  You can then manipulate the data in anyway that you find helpful.

One wonderful way you can use this data is for your business blog. For example, you might be offering helpful sewing tips on beginning sewing that you feel your customers desire. You also offer intermediate and advanced posts on machine embroidery. By monitoring your content metrics you can target your posts to the needs of your visitors attracting more visitors and sales to your business in the process.

So when you want to find out what interests your audience and attract more visits to your blog keep an eye on the content tab.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Make Your Site More Dynamic with a Calendar of Events

Does your business provide training or hold events that need to be announced to your customers? Do you have promotional events to bring in potential clients?

Then you may want to include an agenda or calendar on your website. Providing a convenient way for customers to interact and keep on returning to you keeps your business in front of your customer. And with every contact is an opportunity to fill a need your customer has or solve a problem your customer may not even be aware that she had.

Public calendars can be easily maintained by your office staff. Customers navigate to your site, click on your calendar and in most instances the events can be downloaded right into the customer's calendar for easy planning.

A calendar of events can be a great way to stay connected to your customer and ensure that you are the business that the customer thinks of when a need arises.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Key Words

Every word that is on your website is a searchable clue that your customer can use to find you. It is important that you are as precise and specific as possible when you are reviewing your site and your business with your web consultant.

No one can know what you do better than you do. If you are selling lawn mowers and tractors, your lucrative side business of other yard tools like pruners and shovels may be overlooked as keywords.

Unfortunately, you may miss the opportunity of inviting a customer looking for a specific $20 pruner into your shop. This same customer may also be in the market for that $3000 tractor that you have on sale this week.

Words that are included in graphics, brought into frames from other pages, or words that are part of logos are not searchable. These words need to be incorporated into your website in other ways.
Good website planning of key words is crucial to getting the maximum marketing dollar out of your website.         

Monday, September 13, 2010


Google Analytics allows you to analyze content for your site, and experiment with different content to find what works for your needs.

You can measure:

  1. What content interests your visitors the most.
  2. What page on your website is attracting the most visitors.
  3. What page attracts the most exits.
  4. Site overlay showing which items on your page attract the most interest.
Each metric comes with measurements of number of visitors, bounce rates, average time on page, and dollars spent if appropriate.

Once you have some data collected you can start tweaking your website strategy.

Let's say you are blogging about a variety of topics but one of your topics is attracting the most visitors; your metric may be telling you to expand on that topic.

Or one of your pages showcases a new product. This page is getting a lot of traffic that bounces right off your site. Why? Do you provide enough information for your potential customers? --View your additional info link through your site overlay.

Pages that feed other pages on your website indicate interest that creates a desire for more. Bench marking exit pages with different criteria can allow you to expand interest and discover just what you can do to keep your customer's interest.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How do your customers find you?

When customers search for your services or products on the internet do they find you or your competitor? Do you know?

Customers find you on the web in several ways:

  1. By keying or copying your link in directly. These are people who have been given your website or have visited you before and have bookmarked your site.  
  2. Search engines; Google, Bing, etc. 
  3. Referring sites;  Twitter, a social network site, affilliated product site, or any site that has a referring link to your site.  
Finding out how your customers find you is an important part of the process in tweaking your website.

Once you know that 20% of your customers find you through a search engine you can research what kind of searches your visitors perform. Are the keywords appropriate for your site?

How about the 60% of visitors arriving from referring sites? Are you taking advantage of all the possible sites that could be linking up and referring customers to your business?

And lastly do your current customers have your web address, a reason to return to your site every so often, and a reason to pass your site information on to their friends?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hey! Where Do I Exit this Place?

I was on a site the other day looking for a part for my laptop. The site may have had my part but I never waited to find out. The file size of the images uploaded for the site were  humongous; making it impossible to scroll down the page. The site was so poorly constructed that I didn't stick around and went down the superhighway to a better constructed sight.

Your customers will do the same thing that I did. And you might never know you have a problem unless you have a great webteam that properly tests your website across a wide variety of platforms and browsers and you monitor your traffic for problems.

Websites are not the same as the physical locations for your business where you build correctly and leave alone. Even well built sites are subject to changing conditions. A browser update can reek the same havoc on a website that an earthquake can reek on your physical location.

Monitoring metrics like exit points and bounce rate can help you insure that visitors aren't leaving because of something you did or didn't do.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Connection Speeds of your Customers

Does your website have state of the art Flash, JavaScript, along with sharp, bright graphics that just glow with brilliance? If not, are you planning to build such a site?

If so, you may want to monitor the connection speed that your customers use to connect to you. Nothing is worse than building a lovely awe inspiring site only to find out that half your customers are still on dial up and bouncing off of your site because it takes too long to load.

Fortunately through the Visitors/Network Properties/Connection Speeds menu Google Analytics ® gives you a synopsis of the connection speed your visitors connect with and the corresponding bounce rate.

If you find that an unacceptable amount of visitors are bouncing off at lower connect speeds, it may be appropriate to have your web team address the load time of your site.

There are ways to accommodate all your visitors, allowing your information to go out to as many people as possible; making you a great web host.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Your Web Visitors See Your Spectacular Flash or Java?

One great metric that Google Analytics® coughs up for you is the browser capabilities that your visitors use. Let's assume that you have just rebuilt (or are planning to rebuild) your website. You've added a spectacular flash applet of your product. It looks great and would keep anyone coming back to view it over and over again.

You are monitoring your newly designed site and statistics point to a higher bounce rate than you expected. Further digging shows that the page with your incredible flash program is the page with the highest exit point.

So let's dig further and discover how many of your visitors can actually view your state of the art flash design.

The chart above shows that visitors to your site are slow to upgrade their versions of flash; with only 45% using the most current version. Further testing of your website using different flash versions may be in order.

This metric should also be used on an existing website that starts plummeting all of the sudden. Could it be the new version of flash has made your beautiful flash applet stop working?

Keeping an eye on your website metrics insures that visitors always experience your website the way you designed it to be experienced.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How do your customers view you?

One important metric that you can discover using Google Analytics® is what browsers your customers are using.

Unfortunately, Web coding, even when done properly according to standards, does not work the same in all browsers. Websites that work spectacularly in one browser may appear discombobulated in another browser or the site may crash altogether. A site that doesn't appear as designed is not what you want your customers to experience.

Knowing what browsers your customers use allows your web team to emphasize the testing of your site in those browsers your customers use.

The browser metric can be found by clicking on the bounce rate metric and then choosing browser capabilities from the menu on the left of the window.

Testing your site with the tools your customers use to access your site is an important step in keeping your virtual storefront looking spiffy and your customers happy. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

How's your bounce rate?

Bounce rate is one of the broadest measurements that can be made on a website. It represents how long customers who find your site, stay and enjoy your site.

Each person who comes to your site is like a customer who opens the door at your physical business. A high bounce rate means that the customers who are opening your door barely look around, and then decide that you are not what they need. Your bounce rate gives you an excellent indication of how well your website is performing.  

There's a lot of reasons why your bounce rate would be high:

  • Your site is not performing well in search engines; as a result you are receiving customers looking for a tattoo artist while you are selling landscapes.
  • Your site is haphazard and busy; making information difficult for your customer to locate; think of it as a junk shop in the physical world.
  • Your site generates error messages or doesn't work in the customer's browser; compare to the physical world's ramshackle building where the customer opens the door and the knob falls off in his hand.
  • Your content is not generating confidence or is displayed in a boring, uninteresting way; you need to hire better reception and sales/marketing staff in the real world.
  • You don't give a customer a reason to stay; little or no displays showing services or goods. What does your business do? Why would I do business with you? 
  • Your site is old and outdated;  Are you still open for business?   
Your bounce rate warns you that your site may have problems. Once a problem is identified, reporting of the typical indicators should show where the problem lies.

For example if your site is optimized for Internet Explorer but statistics show that a good percentage of your customers access your site using Opera, it may be prudent to have your web team verify how Opera handles your site. Or maybe a recent browser upgrade is affecting how your site is viewed.

Research can be performed using different content, keywords, and layouts. Using the various reports of indicators the web site can be tweaked to go with the optimal results.

Bounce rate is the most general and basic of indicators measuring your site. Because of its very basic nature it is a good place to start when judging your virtual storefront on the web.   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Google Analytics Metrics Visitor Traffic

Google Analytics is a very versatile and useful tool in measuring website performance; in determining just how effective your website is over time; and in developing ways your website can be improved.
Using Google Analytics your website traffic sources can be analyzed. Where does your traffic generate?

The blog that is charted in the picture was receiving little or no traffic. This is typical for a new blog that is waiting to be discovered. After a month or two of monitoring, the owner of the blog joined a consortium of other blogs that had subject matter similar to that represented on this blog.
In the chart pictured, 43% of the traffic on this site is generated from referring sites. Over all traffic is up 193.75% and the bounce rate has come down from around 90% to a more tolerable 67%. Traffic is improved and with further use of the metrics provided by Google Analytics this blog will move along even more.

Next time we will look at bounce rate as a metric.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Making your website perform with Google Analytics

Reasons businesses post websites are as varied as the businesses that post the sites.

For some businesses the website is a marketing tool to inform the public about services and products. Another website may be designed to actually sell services. A website can also be an information portal for customers to get the end product of that business.

Whatever it is that you expect your website to handle for you, it is important to develop a clear objective of the role your website is expected to fulfill.

Once you are aware of your expectations for the site, your site traffic can be monitored to make sure it's doing its job.
it is important to develop a clear objective of the role your website is expected to fulfill.

Google Analytics is a tool that can monitor and report back to you on the traffic your website is receiving, where that traffic is coming from, how customers are finding your site, and how customers use and leave your site.

Using the information that Google Analytics provides you with, you can redirect your site to better serve your business and your customers. For example, if your business only does business locally but most of your traffic is coming from the other side of the world, your site can be adjusted.  Conversely, if your business has global potential but your site only attracts local traffic, you can tweak in the other direction.

If customers visiting your site are immediately leaving or bouncing out of your site; a look at how the customers are arriving might help. An adjustment of key words may be in order.

A look at where your customers exit your site is helpful to analyze if your customers are receiving what they need. This metric can help you ascertain if your customers are experiencing your website as designed.

 In future posts, we'll take a look at the bits of information that can be learned about your site and ways you can use the information to optimize your site.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Your Virtual Assistant

Websites should serve your business as your 24/7 virtual assistant.

Your virtual assistant probably already informs your customers about your services, hours, and mission statement; consider having your virtual assistant provide marketing material that a potential customer can easily print to show the boss.

Do your customers complete forms when they come to your physical location? Providing forms on your website for the customer to download and complete prior to a visit reduces the stress and service time for your customer and staff.

Introduce your customers to your business with informative videos of your building or products. A slide show of available products with links for additional information can go a long way in persuading a customer to visit your business to make a purchase.

Next time I'll discuss some ways you can monitor your site's traffic, keep your site tweaked, and develop and meet objectives with your Virtual Assistant.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Content or Construction: What's More Important?

Does content take priority over construction?

Will customers overlook a few error messages to get to your superior information or display?

What will it take for your customer to bookmark your page; returning again and again for your content?

Why have errors at all? Website design should not be used if the website has errors in any major web browser. Your design should be tested over several different platforms. The code should be up to date. How does your site look at different screen resolutions? Try looking at your site with different browser settings. Does a browser based change in font make your site look unappealing? Are you irritating your client with too many cookies?

It costs little to keep your content fresh and appealing. A website is not like the physical location of your business where you move in and forget it. Keeping content and the look fresh, non-static, and engaging will help to keep interested customers coming back and will keep your company fresh in your customer's mind. Whether that potential customer needs your product or service today or next year; give him or her a reason to come back to your site by providing expert information and advice.

When customers bookmark your site with a reason to return regularly, that customer will think of your business first whenever the need for your service or product arises.

Professionally built and fully tested websites with dynamic, exciting content make all the difference.    

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A dynamic website can bring in more traffic

When you are revamping a website consider adding more interactivity to your site. You are the expert in your area of business so don't afraid to show it on your website.

Video can add a dynamic dimension. The video can be a virtual tour of your physical facility. Another example would be a video of an owner or CEO stating a mission statement which can provide an interactive introduction to your company's staff and business.

Blogs can be linked to your website. Blogs provide your website visitors with useful and helpful information to use and educate. Blogs can also be provided to your customers as newsletters and emails. Blogs keep your website updated on a regular basis with fresh views and content.

When updating your website don't forget some spice to keep the content fresh and interactive and you will be giving your customers an excuse to come back again and again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Got spam?

Is spam burying some inboxes at your company?

At one business only certain mailboxes were being spammed with most of the inboxes receiving little or no spam.

Even more frustrating was the fact that the inbox of one of the CEO's just happened to be receiving the most offensive amount of spam.

An investigation revealed that when the company website was built the email of the CEO had been posted directly onto the website. This allowed the web-bots responsible for harvesting addresses for spam to reap the CEO's inbox.

This issue could have been easily avoided by the addition of a simple JavaScript program designed to disguise the posted email addresses from unscrupulous spammers.

While the JavaScript program is generally not overlooked by web builders, it is sometimes left out by business owners building their own sites.

Emails belong in contact information but no email address should ever be posted to the web without protection.