It's been a few months since I put my last website together and since I started building today, I though it would be a great time to recap what it is that makes a great website and how you can make effective professional looking webpages for your own sites.
Now there is actually a fine art to this. People pay web designers a small fortune for their skills. There are dozens - hundreds - of techniques out there and some are more effective than others. So if you're new to this IM game and you're building your first site (or you're trying to optimise your first site) then this post is going to especially helpful to you today.
Before you start
Research, research, research. It's an essential part of any and every business plan. Start buy looking at the way other sites are built. Look at sites like eBay or wholesalers...notice how they have vertical navigation bars down the side of their pages? There's a good reason for this - it works. So by studying the way the competition have built their sites, you're going to find value information about templates and layouts that work for your niche.
A picture tells a thousand words
You might not have even known at the time, but when this web page was loading, your eyes were drawn to the top corner. For this reason, most webmasters position a a photo or other vital info at the top of the page. Photo's of yourself help to build trust with your visitors which will also aid your cause.
Photo's are an essential part to every page and I suggest you take your time to choose them wisely. Your photo should be placed where it's one of the first things that people see as the webpage is loading and it should show your visitors that they can stop looking, they've found what they are looking for. A decent photo will mean the difference between your visitor scrolling down or hitting the back button and going back to Google.
Icing vs Cake
This is a really difficult one for IM newbies... when you first start out, you just don't know the difference between what's icing and what's cake. For that reason, they have a tendency to pour their heart and soul (and time and energy) into things that are just plain unessential to the success of the site. Let me give you a few examples.
Customising fonts, colours and themes will not make or break a sale.
It's icing. Spend a few minutes tailoring these things to your needs, then leave them alone.
Content (the text and information on your pages) will make or break your status in the search engines. It will also attract or deter visitors.
It's cake. Focus your time and energy here, on creating great content.
Content is King
It's such a lame IM phrase that just doesn't die...because it's true. The content of your webpages will great points that I have to make here so I'm just going to briefly summarise them.
You'll notice my style of writing, that I'm talking to you, not about people. This style has been proven to be very effective it helps establish a one-on-one bond with your visitors. It's engaging. I'm telling you a story and leading your eyes down the page.
You don't have to be a world class author to write quality content but for goodness sake, use your spell check. When we come across typo's on the page, it interrupts the flow of things and detracts from the message you're trying to send.
SEO & GOOGLE
Content is also an essential factor to the big boys at Google. When the Googlebots come trawling through your site each, they will PENALISE you for having duplicate content, misleading META tags, and content that has been stuffed full of keywords. They are looking to websites which are informative, user friendly and full of new content - those are the pages which get indexed quickly and rank well with Google.
CONVINCING YOUR READERS
Think about the effect your content has on people... words can incite laughter or humiliation, offence or friendship. How does your content "feel" to the reader? You need to come across as informative, as trustworthy (professional) and convincing.
When marketers create sales pages, they put a lot of time and effort into the way they phrase words. Their calls to action, their descriptions, which information to include and which to omit...everything is thoroughly thought out and very intentional.
Building trust with our readers is a huge obstacle to overcome - we do this by making them laugh, or sharing a brief anecdote, giving a brief anecdote, and coming across as the expert in your niche. Your readers don't need to know that you're operating out of your home office - leave it out. They do need you to pass on helpful useful information that implies you're the expert, you know what you're talking about.
Keywords..... if you told me that you spent an hour making your website, and three weeks researching your keywords....I'ld give you a pat on the back. Keywords are just as important as the content of the site because Google is using them to understand what it is that your website is all about and then matching your website with peoples search engine results. It's essential that you choose them and use them correctly. But don't abuse them...Google will bitch slap you for that.
FINDING THAT LOW HANGING FRUIT
What the heck has fruit got to do with professional, effective web pages?? When I talk about the low hang in fruit, I'm talking about effective keywords that are ripe for the picking.
When we Google a keywords like "how to lose weight" Google comes back to us with millions of results. Literally. Why? Because it's such a popular search string...thousands of people use it every single day.
Which means you're competing with millions of other sites. Good luck with that! On the other hand when we search for long tailed keywords like "safe weigh loss diets for teenagers"....we find that there's only a few hundred matches in Googles index. Which is brilliant! Because it's such low competition, you'll get your pages indexed quickly and they'll rank well.
How many people use that keyword each month? Not many.
So... by using a keyword tool (there's a free one here) you'll be able to find a couple of keywords which are low competition, highly searched for phrases....these are the low hanging fruit. These are the easy pickings.
There's a couple of simple rules....
Each site should have two (sometimes three) main keywords that you want to rank for.
Always put your main keywords into the title of your articles.
Always repeat that keywords in the first sentence. (At least in the first paragraph.)
This isn't just good SEO practice (SEO = Search Engine Optimisation)....it's good for your readers. It helps them know that they can stop looking, they've found what they were looking for.
You're keywords should be used another 4 or 5 times throughout your page, depending on how much content you have. You don't want to stuff them in unnecessarily though.
Use these same keywords when you label (or add tags to) images and video's - Google Images provides me me a lot of traffic thanks to some well labeled photo's and there's also Google Video's.
I'M HAVING A TEA BREAK.
It's true. It's a long, extended tea break. But I will be back to update this post tomorrow. Leave you thoughts or ask your questions down below. Ciao!!
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Friday, 17 August 2012
I've got tonnes of great info today about shopping trends and just what it is that men and women buy as well as some demographics for your amusement. If you've thinking about going into business - whether you're building an affiliate website or you want to sell clothing through Facebook - take a good look at these stat's and read between the lines.
So I'm going to throw lots of figures at you. Pay attention.
WHO SPENDS THE MOST MONEY ONLINE - MEN OR WOMEN?
Not only do women spend more money than men.... they also spend a lot more time doing it. On average, women spend 20% more time than men
As an e-tailer, it's important to not only know who your target audience is, but what motivates and affects their purchase decisions. For example, if you're targeting women, then you should be aware that they take coupons much more seriously than men. They're also more likely to shop when there are sales (49% women vs. 36% men) and sign up for incentives (33% women vs. 23% men).
Remember that old joke... The difference between men and women - men will spend $2 on a $1 item that they need. Women will spend $1 on a $2 item that they don't need...but it was on sale.
RETAIL (AND E-TAIL) TIME
So you can see that some categories are are dominated by males but for the most part, woman are still task with buying for their families. As an e-commerce retailer, knowing your audience is essential... which is why you should also know that men and women approach online shopping very differently.
Men tend to stay on task - whatever mission they have assigned themselves when shopping online, they stay on task and get it done without too much distraction. Men also read the product page more thoroughly than women (who scan the page then move on to the next potential product) which means they're slightly less susceptible to impulse buys.
Women on the other hand, tend to wander among different products, different categories and consult with the girlfriends on Facebook before buying. Yep, women are more attached to social networking in regards to their online shopping...this means they're more likely to ask their friends for advice before making a purchase and more likely to recommend a product or website they've bought from.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH THIS INFORMATION??
Read between the lines. If you're targeting men in one of those male dominated categories - sporting, outdoors, computers - then make sure your product descriptions are detailed and accurate. Provide customer reviews or testimonials that proves your site is better than the competition.
Or...if you're targeting women in one of those girly categories, pay special attention to creating promotions and sales. Make your site user friendly and easy to navigate (coz we navigate a lot!). Consider introducing a means by which female shoppers can interact with one another - make it Facebook friendly, encourage reviews/comments, create a forum.