Why Your Business Needs a Website in Today’s Market

There are still a lot of businesses out there without a website struggling along wondering why they are not getting the same amount of customers that they used to get. They have been advertising in the paper or on Yell and their customer base is just getting less and less.

Did the people vanish? No, they just look for products and services in a different place now. It’s called the Internet, more precise its called Google and Facebook. There are many other online places of course but in general thats where the people are. Consumers are also far more savvy than they used to be, they know how to use the internet to search for the best deals and like to really research products before buying. Its because its so fast and simple now to this thanks to the internet.

According from a study from Google….

50% of internet users have researched and compared products.
40% of offline buyers have conducted online research prior to purchase.

Lots and lots more consumers globally now also navigate around social media sites in search of profits reviews and user comments.

Now its all figures from some Google study and who knows really how true those figures are but regardless we know that one thing that is true is that most people now use the internet to buy things and look at stuff. So if you’re a business you need to have your things and stuff online so that the people of today can search for it, find it and buy it from you.

How do people find your products/services? Watch a quick video below:

They go onto Google and type something like “Product/Service in Town/City”

That’s how customers generally find you online.

If you’re a business to consumer business and your not visible for searches like that then you have a problem.

If your customers are actively searching online for your products and your competitors are showing up on Google or have more online visibility than you do then its an issue you really need to address.

Get a website and use:

  • Internet Marketing
  • Google Ads
  • Search Engine Optimisation

This will help you target and sell your products / services online.

When customers do finally arrive at your website make sure you don’t lose them straight away. Make sure your homepage is good enough to keep them on your site to navigate around and look at everything you have to offer. Its estimated a person will decide whether to stay on your site or leave in about 1-2 seconds of your website loading. A poor homepage will discourage users that your products/services are any good and they will most likely click back and go.

Home Page Content

This is your online shop window to the world, if your front page is not done correctly you risk losing your potential customers after all the hard work you have put in getting them to your website in the first place.

Good website design is very important but its not just about a really pretty website design, its also about making sure you have the right content on your homepage and throughout your website.

The following things your homepage should contain:

  • Clear info on who you are what you do
  • Contact info – tell your customers how to contact you
  • If you are a local business, tell them where you are – people buy local
  • Clear navigation with working links – basic stuff
  • Company logo is a decent place – build brand
  • Links to your social media pages – quick access to gains likes or followers

Ideas For Other Website Content

After the homepage, look at the other pages on the website. When adding content to your website make sure its two things. Relevant and Unique.

  • About Us Section – people like to see who’s behind the faceless online business
  • Our Team – show your customers the human side of your business
  • Products/Services – good images and descriptions of your products
  • Case Studies – success stories from your existing customers
  • Order/Book links – clear buy now buttons for your products
  • Contact Us/Location Map – make it easy for people to find you
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Statement
  • Disclaimer

Blogging and How it Can Help Your Business

There are so many reasons a blog can massively help your business. The main ones i can think of right now are listed below. It is hard work but it definitely pays off. Google loves fresh content and there are many extra tricks you can do to leverage this in your favor to help you jump up the search rankings and create a quality blog site that your customers and potential customers will find really useful and admire.

  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Great SEO benefits
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Broadens the range of your target audience
  • Keeps customers informed and interested
  • Improves communication with current customers
  • Increases customers loyalty and trust
  • Helps good quality link building

Few more ideas of content for you website:

  • Competitions
  • Discount codes
  • Special offers
  • “how to” videos

If you don’t have a website then get one 🙂

If you do have a website review your homepage and make sure you’re not missing anything that could be putting potential customers off.

We always go on about how important GOOD website design and structure is from a user/customer point of view but now it really is THAT important. Why? because now Google take if into account when deciding where to place your website in its search rankings.

It’s called Bounce Rate and it now has an effect on your SEO.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce Rate as displayed in Google Analytics is defined as the the % of people who visit your website and then navigate away without visiting any other page on your website.

In short, it is the percentage of visits from your customers that arrive on your site possible through the homepage or some other landing page, but visit no other pages, and then leave.

Having a high bounce rate is very depressing, it’s like getting loads of customers just standing on your shop doorstep but never actually coming inside, and now to make your life even worse, Search engines have now started considering the bounce rates in their organic ranking algorithms.

Having a high bounce rate will affect search engine position because it implies to the search engines that your website is not relevant to the searched term used to land on your site and will consequently penalise the website which will ultimately be reflected in its search engine position.

However if your website is of a high quality, looks good and relevant to the target market, is easy to navigate and has targeted the right keywords then there should be no need for a person to bounce away from the website. Instead they should be engrossed by the content of the website, and navigate around further. This is then rewarded by search engines as good user experience and will then be noted by the search engines as their aim is to provide their users with the best quality results.

Why Does My Site Have a High Bounce Rate?

There count be a number of reasons so you will need to check:

Website Content

Your site content sucks. Could be as simple as that, your website should add value to your visitors. The flow of information should be in such a way that it should be able to carry the visitor from the page they are on to the other pages on your website. Your website is like your home, if you want your guest to see the entire house you need to take them around.

Website Design and User-friendliness

Presentation is extremely important on the internet. Don’t do silly things. How often do you like to visit a website which throws up pop up windows in your face the moment you visit? Most people just leave straight away. Unless they are very relevant and well presented, but mostly its a no no.

Site Navigation Structure

Always keep your site navigation simple and intuitive without leaving anything to your visitor’s guess work. Its very likely that most of the bounce rate is caused by poor navigation system on the websites.

Technical Errors

404 pages and other technical errors should be avoided at any cost to minimize the bounce rate.

Irrelevant Keyword Selection

Search engines consider the keywords used in your site content in their ranking algorithm. If your website shows up for “dog training” while you are selling “dog food”, chances are, the visitor will simply leave your site. The same goes with meta titles and descriptions of your site pages.

Links From External Websites

You have less control over this as anyone could link to your website so quality backlinks from relevant websites are a must but, sometimes you might get that rare backlink from an unrelated off topic website. This might pull in irrelevant visitors which in turn leads to increase in the bounce rates.

So what bounce rate should my website have?

There is no definitive answer as to what a high and low bounce rate is as it is dependent on factors such as the nature of the website and how many web pages it contains. Obviously 0% is the ideal figure but not realistic. As a general rule of thumb anything below 30% is low, whilst anything above 50% is considered to be high and therefore should be addressed in order to ascertain the reason for the high bounce rate.

How can I monitor the bounce rate?

The bounce rate of a website can be monitored using tools such as Google Analytics which can tell its users which individual web pages have the highest bounce rates over a period of time.

So there you have it, its just so important to have a well structured and designed website from the very start. Check out your bounce rate and if its over 50% cry a little and then when you’ve calmed down do something about it by reviewing your navigation and content along with other things mentioned above…

Hope you’re ready for Halloween and Bonfire night. Its my personal favourite time of year.

Here’s some really nice pumpkin images you can use on your websites this time of the year should you want to Trick or Tweet!

It contains 16 PNG icons 128×128 pixels in size for the social networks such as : Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Feedburner, Flickr, Gmail, RSS Feed, Stumbleupon and Twitter.

A Lot of websites these days update their website design during holiday periods, so when visitors go there it just kind of gives off that feel that the site is kept up to date, it looks nice and its just a cool thing to do. In this day and age now things like this are what make you stand out from your competitors, it really is worth doing.

So if you want to keep your website up to date by changing its look during certain times of the year, this little icon pack will really help and get people talking about your website.

As we get more and more work from customers that are totally fed up with their previous web designers we see websites that have some really important things missing from them which would give them that edge over their competitors.

Here’s a list of some of the major failures we see or don’t see on websites

1. High res images

The web is becoming more and more up to date in terms of look and design, and especially your products, they should be gleaming and really showing off what you have to offer. Old pixelated images are no good and just makes your site look cheap. Spend some money on decent images or take some good ones of your products with a camera or even iPhone. You don’t have to host them either if your worried about space, upload them to Facebook or something like flickr, you can always then bring them through onto your website.

2. A detailed “About Us” section

If your potential customer clicks to view your about page its because they want to know more about you or your company. So in short, tell them! and include… high res images! Unless you have an amazing reason not to, you should include info about the owners and all staff. Some people have great stories to tell as to how they got set up so why not tell it. People like to know the real people behind the business.

3. Maps or post code

Where are you located? If you have an office and a customer wants to find your office they would like to be able to find you on a map or using their sat nav. An online map means they can scroll, zoom in and out of, and print.

tip: Have the map open in a new browser window. Keeping users on your website and letting the map display in a big size in a new window. Keeping them trapped in a 200 by 100 pixel embedded box is very annoying.

4. Know how your website displays on a Smartphone

Its amazing how many business websites don’t have a website that is designed to work on a mobile phone and loads are not iPad compatible. Go check your site now 🙂

5. Flash, image-texts

It is not 1995. You should not be using flash EVER. Its just a no for like a million reasons and really gets me mad 🙂 There’s no reason i can even think of that you would want to use flash, the cool effects flash makes can now be done using other tools and software without making your website look and perform terrible.

6. Contact details

Listing all the people in the company makes it easy for potential customers to get straight to the person they need. So make it easy for them. Have your contact number throughout your website for yourself and all your departments. This will include your accounts department, who the press should contact and the bloke who orders the stationery etc. direct phone numbers and email addresses work best, amazingly we find a lot of people just don’t like using web forms though we have one on our site anyway :p

7. list all your products!

The times we hear, “yeah we actually offer that but didn’t put it on the website as we thought no one would be interested…” Your site should tell customers everything that you do. In plain English. Your site should list every product, every service. If a customer is looking for a specific service that you offer they should be able to find it in three clicks or fewer.

It’s not an exhaustive list i could go on forever but worth just flicking through your website and see how many of these things you have got right.

It’s something called Author Rank and when its all set up and configured it means that your Google search listings will look like the below:

Google listing view

What Google is doing here is associating the content with the article this person wrote and their Google profile, why does that matter to you as a site owner? and why does it matter in terms of traffic?

Well first of all you can see from the screen shot that the listing in Google is a lot more visually intriguing, there’s a face there! a real person! so you can expect to get more click through rates with content that has this thumbnail integrated into it.

Now as an author, Google will start tracking your content and start gathering stats about what you write and it will start to give you a author rank.

Not only this but also while using Google + if your friends or people in your ‘circles’ decide to start +1 content on the internet, if you search for something similar to your friends the content they like will automatically become at the top of your Google search results because Google knows that you trust your friends and will most likely being interested in the content they think is worth doing a +1 to.

This is massive fundamental change in the way Google will be ranking content, it comes away from the standard SEO tactics and back-links and takes into account your content as an author and how many likes you have, how many Google + 1 you have. So if I was you I would get onto Google + and start writing some decent content to gain yourself some author rank, because it may not be long before this determines where your business sits on Google search. This has pretty much become live this week so as more is known ill post an update.

It was only a very short time ago that Google plus was launched but already in the US there are books out about it!

Loads of people like myself have been using Google+ trying to figure it out and find out how it can help us either personally or in business. When I say loads of people what I actually mean is over 20 million users! Yep it took Google just 24 days to get this many users, you can see how it compares to Twitter and Facebook from the graph below in terms of how long it took them to get to the same amount of users:

Google Plus Growth Chart

I do have the feeling though that at the moment Google plus is used by more ‘technical’ people that the general public. It seems to be anyone in IT is very interesting in Google+ while the normal people out there probably don’t really see why they should switch from their beloved Facebook or Twitter to yet another social media platform that their friends just aren’t on at the moment.

I don’t think Google are planning to steal Facebook users, it already has more users than Facebook across its super brand and in my opinion as it owns the search engine market i think they can pretty much do what they want and it be successful if they really market it well. I think they have learnt from their mistakes of the not so popular Google wave (which I actually really liked to be fair)

One thing to remember is that Google have yet to launch their Google+ business profile pages which could be massive when its launched. Business pages will link to Google Places and local listings on Google+. Recommendations by people will also start affecting organic rankings, ensuring better search results through public opinion, not just who has the best links.

It will be interesting to see how it integrates with Google Analytics and if it gives any more detailed info. The hangouts feature is cool and makes for a Skype like video call. It’s nice and easy to use has a clean interface and is branded by Google. It seems here to stay, ill continue using it and keeping my eye out eagerly awaiting the business page launch.

The ‘ol’ business card, one of the most powerful, yet ignored weapons in marketing your business.

Now more than ever there are many ways to attract new customers to your business.

Maybe it’s a marketing campaign in the form of an ad in the paper. A big poster or billboard, through the use of social media or maybe you get your customers through word of mouth, but what about that more personal level. I find that some really great leads come directly from networking or just being out and about and having a chat with other people/businesses.

In this scenario the most important tool I have is me, how I come across to the other person, that first impression will most likely determine if they want to do business with me or not. On departing I always give my business card. It then reminds them of what I’m capable of doing in the event that they need my service in the future. Now let’s face it, most business cards I’ve seen are very boring and very dull, some don’t even use both sides of the card. A lot of them or either from a free service or worse created at home and printed off and cut out onto paper. After having a great chat with a potential customer and getting them on board with what your offering and building that trust you then give them a basic poorly designed business card and ruin it all. Having a really nicely designed professional business card can really seal the deal and make sure your potential customer remembers you and calls you up if the need your services.

I’m not saying ours is the best by a long way, I’ve seen much better out there but let me talk you through the thinking behind our business card which may help you in improving yours.

Front Design

purple cloud solutions business card front

You should have at least one picture or image on your business card. Studies show that people are more likely to hold on to a Business card that has a photo on it. It doesn’t have to be a picture of you but maybe of your product. I guess it’s because pictures grab attention.

We have our business name logo ‘purple cloud solutions’ as the main image.

The QR code displayed in the front as well, this goes to our homepage currently but you may want to think about which page you send people to. I’ve been thinking about sending people straight to our services page.

The tagline of ‘we specialise in local business’ as we want do a lot of business with local businesses in Sutton Coldfield so I thought it was a good thing to display.

In smaller font we have the line of ‘web development and design‘ and ‘expanding your business on the Internet’ which pretty much sums up what we do.

I think the for front of the card, you want something eye catching hopefully our logo + QR code does this. You don’t want to display too much info that may detract from the logo, I know there’s a fair bit on our front and for that reason i may remove the ‘Great design always forecasted’ play on words tagline to gain some space back.

Back Design

purple cloud solutions business card back

flip over to the back and we have in biggest font my name. This is really important as i want the person who has my business card to remember me and remember meeting me and conversation we had. I want it to be personal and not just a corporate business card.

I’ve listed the main services down the left hand side and used our cloud logo in place of bullet points for a bit of design.

Our tagline at the top ‘We help business get set up online’ is underlined by a contrasting colour of green to help it stand out. I want the person holding the card to know that this is what we do and specialise in.

I’ve added a ‘want a business card like this?’ tagline top right as we had so many people comment on how nice our card was I thought id add it in as a service.

Just under my name is the usual info that you should provide, website link, email, phone number etc. Along with any social medium links you may have. (you should have)

Then to end just a simple ‘Just give me call’ with a smiley face helps keep the whole thing friendly and more personal.

You may have noticed that we went for the rounded edges cards and not the standard rectangle design that most business cards have. You want to stand out and be different from your competitors so you should take things this into account. How can you be different from your competitors?

We have had a lot of comments on our business card, I feel it really gives of a professional look and feel. There’s always improvements that can be made, and for that reason i tend to buy them in batches of 100 in case I want to change something or add something in the not so distant future.

So take a look at your business card and ask yourself, is your business card letting your business down? Or is it a cool business card that people will look at and remember you by.

Facebook’s timeline update to business pages allows companies to have a much bigger presence on the social media web. Is your business there? if not then why not lol are you crazy!
More than just providing consistency between personal and company-owned Pages, Facebook Timeline provides businesses of all sizes an opportunity to use the platform to market their organisations in a much more engaging way.
On 30 March 2012 it goes live so make sure your business is ready for the switch over. All pages will be automatically changed to the new Timeline format. It’s therefore vital that businesses with branded Facebook Pages are taking steps now to prepare their Page for the switch, and ensure they’re making the most of the great new features Facebook has introduced.
The cover photo

Purple Cloud Solutions on Facebook

The cover photo will sit at the top of your Page and will be the first impression users have of your business when they visit, so it’s important to get it right.
Keep the image simple. It should embody not only the look of your business, but its personality, communicating your value proposition to customers and what your organisation stands for.
Be careful though, as Facebook won’t allow cover photos to include promotional content or calls-to-action. It’s important the image entices users to learn more and join your community without becoming a direct marketing tactic.
You should change your cover photo at least seasonally to help tell your evolving story. For instance, a local hotel might post photos of a scenic view as it changes through the seasons.
The ‘About’ section
Small businesses can use this section to convey any vital information about the company, such as a top-level overview of the organisation and what it offers its customers, or important local information, such as contact details, address, opening hours and even a map to your exact location.
By clicking on the ‘About’ section, users are taken to a more in-depth description of the company, but still try to keep it short, simple and well-spaced so all of the information is easily conveyed.
Timeline
We witness the passion and enthusiasm they have for their organisations and industries on a daily basis. We also see just how important the company’s journey is, in particular reaching major milestones.
Purple Cloud Solutions Facebook Timeline
Timeline is shifting brand pages towards a story-based model, enabling brands to showcase heritage and history in a visually engaging and personal way.
Use the Timeline feature to market your organisation’s history by adding in backdated content you have on file – your first shop or office opening, your first employee, or your 1,000th customer.
If you haven’t already started, now is the time to start collating content about your business’ history. Small companies should aim to insert these key pieces of content into the relevant points in their Timeline to create a compelling story that encapsulates what the organisation stands for and delivers to its customers. Then, think about ways to drive your fans to that content. For instance, you could do a “This Day in Company History”.
This is further enhanced by the new ‘milestones’ feature available on wall posts. It allows businesses to ‘star’ pieces of content as significant so they are featured more prominently on the Timeline.
The page navigation banner
The section under the profile and cover photos is the new home for all content not hosted on the Timeline – including the About section, photos and applications.
The icons for each of the applications will be larger and more prominent than on the old page style, so it’s important to select visually appealing icons. You can also label them however you choose – think about active, exciting names that will encourage fans to click.
If you have multiple applications, you’ll need to select the two or three that you want to focus on and make sure they’re the most visible. The rest will be tucked away and only visible when users expand the banner to see the apps.
Pinning content
Timeline offers businesses several new editorial techniques to make their content more successful. One of the best of the free tools made available is the ‘Pin’ feature.

Facebooks pinning content
When a piece of content is posted to the wall, those with Administrator rights to their business’ Facebook Page can ‘Pin’ the content to the top of their Timeline where it remains for seven days.
This will allow businesses to ensure key pieces of news or promotional content remain visible for longer. This in turn will drive more engagement with the content and help boost the community.
Administrator panel
One final note is a new feature available through the Administrator Panel: the ability to turn on – or off – private messaging. When this feature is turned on, fans can now privately message you as a business, which is great for more personal or private questions. Further, because Timeline orders your posts by engagement, rather than chronologically, it’s a bit more difficult to keep up with comments and Likes. The Administrator Panel comes to the rescue with an easy way to see all of your notifications in one place.
We are very excited about the new opportunities Facebook Timeline will bring to small businesses looking to market their organisations. Through correct use of the new features in conjunction with promotions and exclusive content, we can see SMBs only becoming more successful with their Facebook marketing.
It’s vital that small business owners spend some time making these changes and investigating Facebook Timeline for Brands in order to create a company Timeline that truly embodies their business and enhances their image online.

I believe that one of the main reasons Purple Cloud is successful is that I love running the business. I really enjoy working in it and on it every day. One of the big enjoyments I get out of it is I also like the people that our business attracts as potential long term customers of ours. We get to meet loads of great people who are serious and dedicated to growing their own business and have lots of ideas of how they want to succeed which often then rubs off onto us and helps inspire us with new ideas for Purple Cloud Solutions. Another great thing is the people I work with, I like them not just professionally but personally as well. We’re all good friends and this is true with our customers as well.

The fact is when you like the people you serve you naturally have a higher motivation to help them out, and you end up working harder for them without having to force it. It just happens naturally, and what happens then is you deliver a great service and your customers/friends love you more. So don’t think of your customers as people who just pay you to do a service, think of them as your friends who yeah you maybe charging to do some work for but also to genuinely help them out and help make their business more successful from the services you provide. One thing we do here at Purple Cloud is we get passionate about our customers business as if its our own. We just naturally take an interest in their business and make sure we help them succeed in whatever there trying to do.

Being able to Run a business where you actually like the people you serve is very motivating. A day’s work feels like helping out your friends and doing nice things for people you care about.

Business is built on relationships. I think many small business owners underestimate just how important it is to love your customers. So give out some love to your customers way before and after Valentine’s day :)

Happy valentine’s day everyone!

First off, Happy New Year! Hope you had a good one, I did

And now… back to work. We have put together a list of things you should look at doing in 2012 to keep ahead of your competitors and really make the most out of 2012.

We all make new year resolutions, and 99% I’m sure fail after day 1. Don’t let this happen to your business! Take a look at the list of 10 things below and choose a few to implement for your business during 2012.

1. Go local

These mobile users are constantly interacting with things and places that physically surround them. Microsoft reported that 53% of mobile searches on Bing have a local intent. The online world has become an essential place for businesses to connect with their local community. Make sure your business has a local listing on key search engines: Google Places, Bing maps, and Yahoo maps.

2. Go mobile

By 2015, more U.S. Internet users will access the web through mobile devices than through PCs. On average, 15% of all searches on Google today are from a mobile device. How well are you catering to this mobile population? Make 2012 the year you optimize your search marketing, email marketing and website to focus on this growing mobile community.

3. Learn how to delegate and do more of it

When you’re just starting out and times are tough, it’s natural to tighten the purse strings. However, consider what you could gain by handing over certain tasks to contractors, virtual assistants or full-time employees. By relinquishing control of administrative tasks or company blog updates, you’ll free up time for what’s ultimately going to keep you in business: bringing in revenue.

4. Invest in one new customer touch point

Whether it’s blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, mobile coupons or QR codes, new ways to connect with customers seem to pop up daily. As a small business owner, you don’t have to excel in every new technology or network that comes along, but you should try to be wherever your customers are. Ask your current customers where/how they’d like to connect with you, then spend some time in 2012 to make it happen.

5. Refresh your website

In the race to master new social media tools, don’t overlook your own website. After all, social media efforts like Twitter campaigns end up driving traffic somewhere, right? It doesn’t make any sense to build a beautiful and savvy Facebook presence that funnels people to a boring, inaccurate, and out-of-date website. Keep it current and engaging!

6. Get on Facebook

Make sure you have a Facebook Page for your business in 2012. Update it regularly and send all your happy customers there. Ask them to write something nice on your wall and make sure when they do you engage them, and say something nice back.

7. Use Dropbox

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again! You get 2GB of space free which is quite a lot if you use it correctly. Invite your friends and you can get up to 8GB free!

8. Skype

Video calls, Phone calls, Instant messaging

See when people are online and get instant answers to quick questions with Skype Instant Messenger, whether your colleagues are next door or on the other side of the world. We use this all the time and i just can’t imagine life without it now.

9. Enter the world of Video

Video is everywhere! in 2012 your competitors will start to get video on their website and have video testimonials of their customers shouting about how great they are on their website, don’t let them get ahead of you!

10. Social network in the real world.

Whether the plumber recommends a carpenter or the web designer recommends a copywriter, business is driven by referrals and connections. In 2012, put some effort into networking by signing up for an industry conference or seeking out a local meet up group. These are invaluable ways to develop relationships and share advice with fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Extra bonus one

11. Put time for you on the calendar

As an entrepreneur, remember that you’re solely responsible for your own motivation, productivity and well-being. There’s no boss to pat you on the back or give you a raise. It’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and inspired. In 2012 be sure to reward yourself for specific milestones like a big client win, meeting a tough deadline, or working “overtime” for multiple nights on end.