9 Things To Avoid When Building Your Small Business Website

It can be hard to know what you should look for in website design for your small business. Do you really know what aspects of website design are good and which you should avoid? Most of us know that some websites have frustrating, distracting, or unattractive design elements. You’ve probably encountered at least one website which was so ugly or hard to use that you immediately clicked off.

You don’t want that to be your website. If you own a small business, you need people to stay on your site and keep coming back. Your website design shouldn’t make people click away.

Small Business Website Design Elements You Should Avoid

Most people hate these common website design elements. Any good web designer knows to avoid these features, but they still pop up on many websites. If you want your small business website to succeed, avoid these negative design elements:

1. Music auto-play

When music automatically begins playing on a website, it can be startling and very unpleasant. The website visitor might be in a quiet office, already listening to music or a video, or simply hate the music that plays. Music is distracting and doesn’t add to your website design. Automatically playing music will often make visitors click away from your website immediately.

2. Pop-ups

Website visitors hate pop-ups. A lot of websites continue to use pop-ups and many have started using them again after a long break. Unfortunately, no one likes pop-ups and repeat visitors will get turned off when they encounter the same annoying element every time they visit your website.

3. Busy Background Images

Loud images can work well as website backgrounds. If the image loads quickly and doesn’t distract from your content, you don’t need to worry. However, a slow-loading or distracting background image is a huge no-no, so try to keep it simple.

4. Links opening in new windows

Sometimes you want a link to open in a new window. If that’s the case, you can easily right-click and select that option. However, when your links automatically open this way, visitors end up with endless windows open and can’t easily find the original page. Make links open in the same tab so that visitors can easily navigate back to their original page using the back button.

5. Hidden links

It’s always confusing when your cursor is hovering over a webpage and suddenly a new window opens. Links should be visible and you should want to click them. Make sure that your links are obvious and your visitors can tell what’s a link and what’s just text.

6. Animations

Animations can look good with certain website designs, particularly if they’re relevant to the website. Are you an animator or a graphic designer? If you are, an animation might help sell your skills. But if your product isn’t art-based, avoid animation elements.

7. Odd fonts

Yes, you can use a creative font to express your personality. But remember that a lot of fonts may be hard to read or look ugly to certain visitors. You could risk loss of interest if the wrong font is selected. Sticking to clean, web-safe fonts is a good idea if you want your website to look professional.

8. Moving text

Generally, you should avoid scrolling, flashing, or blinking text. It might work if the moving text is subtle, but usually it’s just distracting. It’s true that it will catch people’s attention, but is that worth it if the text annoys them and makes them leave your website?

9. Pages that are too long or wide

It might seem ridiculous, but many websites still use excessively long and wide pages. Most people use screens that are 15 to 17 inches in size. If your website loads huge pages, visitors will have to scroll across and down the page to see all of your content. It might seem lazy, but many visitors will click away in these circumstances.

The Exceptions To These Website Design Rules

You should generally avoid these unattractive and annoying design elements. However, there are exceptions to the rule. We’ve mentioned some of these exceptions above but every website is different and there are various reasons why these elements might work for you. If you really think one of these website design elements suits your site, you could be right!

When you’re not sure about your small business website design plans, reach out to your website designer or online marketing specialist. You can also get a second opinion from family, friends, other business owners you know, or regular customers. User feedback is always helpful for website design.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we provide you with expert website design services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.

12 Reasons Why You Should Have A Newsletter

Newsletters are one of the most important marketing tools available to businesses and their customers. As a business owner, you probably know that it is vital for your business to stay in regular contact with the people who buy from you. Because you need to bring in new customers and make sure that existing ones keep shopping with you, an effective newsletter program with a dedicated readership can be a huge asset for your business. Remember that your website has less than a minute to capture a visitor’s attention before they may leave and never return. It’s true that a blog can help you to get your message out there, but customers have to choose to navigate to the blog to find that information. A newsletter is a more active way to maintain that attention and contact, offering customers news about your brand, your message, and your products. It makes sense to translate your static blog into an active, engaging newsletter program.

Don’t have a newsletter? Here are twelve reasons why you need one!

1. Make an impression

People will form their first impressions of your business from your communication and marketing efforts. This includes your newsletter, which customers will use to figure out what makes you different from your competitors. Your newsletter should give people a great first impression of your business and what you’re selling.

2. Encourage business from current customers

You can use a newsletter to show current customers the other products and services you can offer them when they have established a relationship with you.

3. Gain repeat business from past customers

You can also use a newsletter to appeal to past customers. They already have a history of purchasing your products, so you just need to remind them why they should do it again.

4. Increase awareness

Your newsletter needs to show what you can offer your customers. It should make readers understand essentially what it would be like to communicate and shop with you, and leave them wanting more.

5. Tighten the sales process

People who respond to your newsletter or visit your website from a newsletter link are already sold on the benefits of your business. This leads to a much shorter sales process than traditional advertising.

6. Educate potential customers

Potential customers can find out important information about you from your newsletter. The newsletter can educate them about the strengths of your products and helps you to stay in touch until they make the decision to choose you.

7. Appear professional

Writing thoughtful, engaging, expert content lets potential and current customers, journalists, referral sources, publishers, and other businesses see that you are a reputable business.

8. Gain word-of-mouth traction

Newsletters are easily shared with other people, especially if they are well made. You can gain new customers every time someone shares your newsletter.

9. Grow your contact list

You can grow your contacts by making it easy to sign up for your newsletter mailing list. Promote your newsletter at networking events and encourage your website visitors to sign up.

10. Offer benefits for customers

Use your newsletter to offer new benefits for customers, like a discount for newsletter subscribers or early knowledge about upcoming sales. This will encourage them to subscribe and shop with you.

11. Bring traffic to your website

Link to your website in your newsletter and you can easily drive traffic to your site or blog. You can also use content twice (once on your website, once in your newsletter) to generate extra traffic from social media and search engines.

12. Network with other businesses

Use your newsletter to network with other professionals. Interview an expert for your newsletter, ask them to guest-write a blog for you, or offer to include them in your mailing list.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we help our clients to achieve all these goals. Email is so commonly used these days that mass email marketing campaigns can lead to fantastic results for your business. A newsletter takes some time and potentially some capital but it can achieve an impressive return on investment. This makes newsletters a strong marketing tool that you should really try!

How To Plan For A Website Design: A Guide For Non-Developers

The planning stage is the most important part of any small business website design project. When working with a website designer, you have to clearly describe your ideas and desires so they can create the website you want. The designer has to describe their ideas as well. By offering you various options and examples, they can show you what your website might look like.

Every design has three key parts. There’s the actual design, which is how the website appears and how it feels to use the website. Then there’s the content, which is the text, images, and videos which will make up the final website. Finally, there’s the functionality, which is how the website works. Stay mindful of all three of these parts when you’re working with your website designer. Remember also that your plans will likely grow and evolve as your designer learns about your business and figures out how to communicate your vision online. Strong communication is an important part of making this design relationship work and creating the perfect website.

There are some essential website design tips for small businesses which make it easier for you to work well with your designer. As a team, you can create a fantastic website with the help of a shared vision, strong communication, and good planning.

1. You don’t need the perfect idea

Your designer doesn’t need you to have an exact vision for your website. Your website designer will probably be happy to take creative control if you aren’t sure what you want, so don’t be afraid to let them do their thing.
Tip: Request some samples of the designer’s previous work and check out their own website. This will help you figure out whether you like their style or not.

2. Offer your designer examples of what you like

Clear visual examples are so helpful in the website planning process. Take a look at various websites and take note of what you like. Make a list of links, including information about what you specifically liked about that site, and give it to your designer.

Tip: Check out your competitors’ websites for design ideas, but don’t limit yourself to them.

3. Don’t branch out too much

Examples are very helpful, but too many examples can be confusing. Your designer may find it hard to pinpoint what you want, and you’ll pay for the time they spend checking out hundreds of websites.

Tip: Aim to send between three and five design examples to your designer, along with notes describing what you like about each design.

4. Get specific about what you like

Tell your website designer specifically what you want and need on your website. Unless you’re clear that you like the color scheme on website one, the layout of website two, and the use of images on website three, your designer will have to guess what’s appealing to you about each one.

Tip: Include specific comments detailing what you like about each link. Is it the layout? The content? A certain feature? The aesthetic?

5. Explain what you don’t like

You might come across a common design element that you really don’t like. If that’s the case, let your designer know. Don’t wait until it crops up on your own website!

6. Don’t Fall Prey To “Feature Creep”

Feature creep is a common issue in website design and you should avoid it. Feature creep occurs when you suddenly decide that you want to include various new ideas in the design once you see the finished product and expect the designer to work in these new ideas at no extra cost.

If you find yourself saying, “I didn’t want X but now I’m thinking it would look great. It won’t take long to do that, right?” and “I saw a website with Y. Can you quickly add it into my site?” then you might be falling prey to feature creep. The assumption that these changes will be quick and free is the real problem here. Your designer will probably be prepared for some changes and add-ins as your project evolves, but big add-ins, or many little ones, should incur an additional charge.

Your designer wants you to be happy so feel free to describe the changes you want and ask for add-ins if you need them. However, if it’s a big change or a lot of smaller changes, bear in mind that you should be paying for it.

7. Partnership

Just like any other good professional, your website designer will want you to be happy with the product they deliver. However, you play a central part in that process. You need to build a strong partnership by describing what you want your website to look and feel like. Encouraging strong communication will let the planning and website design process work well so you can get your dream website.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we can provide you with expert website design services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.

5 Reasons You Want To Keep Your Website Regularly Updated

Take a moment to answer these questions: Is your website doing what you want it to? Does it contribute to your business’s traffic and revenue? Is your website giving you a good ROI? If you answered yes to all these questions, that’s great! If you answered no to any of them, keep reading.

You might have done everything right during the website design process. Hired great professionals, made an investment, described your ideas clearly, worked on your content and SEO. But for some reason, your website still isn’t performing well.

This is a very common issue. It happens when you put a lot of work into developing a functional, attractive website, but then leave it sitting there without new content or software updates. It gets old and stale and search engines forget about it. Luckily, you can change all that.

Maintaining your website is a critical factor in its success, but many business owners neglect to do it. You should think of the initial website build as the foundation, while the ongoing maintenance is what will make your website into a fully functional and engaging creation. You can’t see your full return on investment without maintenance.

Check out these five reasons why you should be regularly updating and maintaining your website:

1. Your website gives people an impression of your business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably been to networking events and gotten a collection of business cards. Like everyone else, the first thing you probably do is take a look at their websites. You, and every other website visitor, will form your key impressions of the business based on their website. Is the content up to date? Have they posted nothing for the past year, or let their copyright date drift into the past? Are there banners for a Christmas sale even though it’s February? These things will give people a bad impression of your business. By keeping your website fresh and frequently updated, you’ll show visitors that you care, you’re committed, and you can be trusted.

2. Improve your search engine ranking and traffic

Search engines index websites with new content more highly. Once your content gets old, it’s almost impossible to be ranked highly in Google, Bing, and other search engines. Maintaining your website means that search engines will keep crawling it and ranking you for important keywords. With software updates and fresh content, you’re giving your website a fighting chance at ranking highly for the keywords that matter for your business.

3. Make sure your website visitors return

People want to become repeat customers. Finding a new business you like can be difficult and it’s easier to repurchase or shop with the same company than to take a chance on a new one. By offering your customers up-to-date information, you make it easy for them to keep shopping with you. Regular maintenance of your website offers them the information they need to trust you and become a loyal customer instead of a once-off buyer.

4. Keep your security updated

Make sure you’re using the most recent bug fixes and security patches to keep your website safe and secure. This is particularly true if you’re using a content management system, which you should be! Hackers will target pretty much any kind of website, not just ecommerce platforms, and plant malware and Trojan. It’s easy for them to do this if you’re using old security software and your website isn’t regularly maintained. Google will delist your website if they detect malware and potential customers will be understandably angry if their devices are infected by software downloaded from your website.

5. Help your website keep up with evolving technology

The internet never stops growing and evolving. There are always new technologies and online marketing methods available, and you should make sure that your website keeps up with them. It can be tempting to let your website languish and do a big update every few years but it’s better to implement small, modern changes on a regular basis. This way, your website looks professional and can really compete.

In Conclusion

If you take care of your website, it will perform well and offer you the best return on investment. Here at A La Carte Web Services, we’re sure that we can help you maintain your website so it really benefits your business. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you get the best possible results from your website.

Top 10 Strategies For Doing Business Online

The internet has permeated every part of modern business. It’s no surprise that these days, having a good online presence is vitally important for your business. Whether you run an ecommerce business or a traditional brick-and-mortar store, an online presence will benefit you. An online store will bring you a wider audience of potential customers, offering you an easy and inexpensive way to share information and giving you many more possibilities when it comes to marketing.

Thanks to these benefits, a lot of savvy entrepreneurs are only doing business online and leaving traditional storefronts behind. This can be daunting for small business owners who may not have experience with online marketing and sales. The switch from a standard shop and office setup to the internet world can seem difficult and scary. However, there are so many advantages to doing business online which far outweigh the fear and the learning curve.

A website lets you stay in contact with a huge number of potential customers (anywhere from hundreds to billions of people!) without the hefty price tag of traditional advertising spots and newsletters. A website is also significantly less expensive than a brick-and-mortar store or an office. On top of that, doing business online opens you up to a whole new audience of consumers. You can sell to people all over the world, not just the ones in your local area.

The way that you do business online will be different depending on your industry, your customers, and your aims. Your online presence might be purely for marketing purposes or you might set up a fully automated online shop. You might be marketing a service to a highly specific demographic or operating widely. You might provide free newsletters or samples to attract and incentivize customers. The options are endless.

Doing Business Online. The Best Strategies

Online businesses can vary hugely but there are some strategies which every entrepreneur should implement. These ten strategies should work for every business owner. Use them to help your business grow and thrive.

1. Create a great website. You’ll need a great website to do good business online, so don’t rush when it comes to creating your site. Make sure you’re working with talented, committed professionals who can work with your vision to build a website your customers will love. Your website should clearly express your brand, offer all necessary information about your business, and convince visitors to become customers with strong calls to action.

2. Understand your industry. You need to understand what’s happening in your industry online. Check out your competitors’ websites and figure out what they’re doing online. Peruse the websites of other professionals in your industry who may not be direct competitors. This will help you to discover online trends in your industry and pick upcoming opportunities which your competitors might be missing. Sign up to their newsletters, browse their forums, and read their blogs. Get involved with your industry online, as well as other companies which may be complementary to your own. Make sure you’re on top and ahead of your industry’s online trends.

3. Forget geographical barriers. The internet breaks down geographical barriers. You can sell to pretty much anyone anywhere in the world with e-commerce. By setting up an online store, your products are immediately available to millions more potential customers. If you’re running a service, you may not be able to sell it all over the world – after all, how can a plumber or a hairdresser work online? But consider the options available to you. Could you offer phone or Skype consultations? Write a monetized blog? Sell your professional knowledge in an e-book? Figure out what aspect of your business can be sold online and offer it to consumers all over the world.

4. Diversify your source of income. It is generally a good idea to branch out and find new streams of income in this ever-changing online world. Are you a baker? Create a blog and e-book of baking advice to sell online. Do you run a car dealership? Advertise your cars on your website and include a blog with information about cars. You can offer free information to bring in new customers and sell more extensive sources of information. Keep thinking about what you can sell. It might be consultation services, e-books, a video training course, affiliate marketing, or something totally different.

5. Get involved on social media. Social media can waste our free time but it is a huge boon for businesses. Using social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you can quickly make connections with millions of people globally. These sites are free and allow you to easily make connections from your current address book. Assess which sites would suit your business and figure out how you could best use them. Facebook is great for any business. Twitter is helpful for sharing links to your website and communicating quickly with customers. LinkedIn lets you make professional contacts. Instagram and YouTube are best for aesthetic content and marketing. For an efficient, cost-effective way to boost your business, use social media.

6. Start blogging. It’s true that there are some downsides to blogging. It takes time and writing skills and adds a separate sphere of technology and marketing. In reality, though, having a blog can be very advantageous. You can boost your SEO using a blog to drive traffic to your website. An informational blog can attract many readers who may be interested in your products. You can easily communicate with potential and current customers via a blog and build their loyalty. A blog is also a great way to express your brand. It may take some time and effort, but a blog is a strong marketing tool which you shouldn’t ignore.

7. Network, network, network. The internet can feel anonymous so it’s easy to assume that you don’t need to network online. However, this would be a big mistake. The internet is made up of billions of people making connections and you should be one of them. People who network well in real life will succeed online. Luckily, if you find real-life networking awkward or difficult, you’ll probably find that it’s easier online. A new networking contact could provide you with important insights to your industry, introduce you to a valuable customer base, or offer you a useful exchange of services. Get involved in conversations in comments sections and forums, meet new people, and grow your contact list by networking online.

8. Make regular updates. Don’t let your online presence become outdated. You need to keep updating your information online, for example if you change your business hours or phone number. Add information about upcoming sales or new products to your website and social media profiles. Leave comments on industry blogs and interact with customers online. Update your blog so search engines will rank you highly. You don’t want potential customers to come across outdated profiles and get a bad impression of your business. You also want people to know about your latest news, offers, and products.

9. Update and analyze your progress. Make sure that you keep your online presence current by maintaining your website and social media profiles. Remember to also analyze the performance of these online centers. You should track your marketing campaigns, website, and social media posts to see what works and what isn’t contributing to your growth. This will help you push ahead with useful strategies and readjust things that aren’t working.

10. Be charitable. People like businesses that give back to charity, the community, and their customers. Figure out a cause which aligns with your business and make an effort to champion and support it. It’s okay to publicize the fact that your business is donating or working with charitable causes. Offer a contest for your customers or newsletter subscribers to thank them for their loyalty. These efforts offer great publicity, help you earn your customers’ loyalty, and are positive for everyone involved.

Any business owner, entrepreneur, or online mover and shaker can use these tips to do good business online. Some of these methods may seem tricky if you’re adjusting from a traditional real-world storefront, but you’ll soon see the benefits of doing business online. Remember that all successful entrepreneurs know how to adapt and evolve to suit current trends – this is what online business is all about.

What are you waiting for? Get your business online! A La Carte Web Services offer expert online marketing services for small businesses. Contact us if you want to find out more or discuss how we can help your business.

What Does A Website Manager Do?

In the 1990s, innovative business owners started using the internet to market their companies. They understood that the World Wide Web offered a whole new realm of marketing opportunities. Once they had a domain name and a website, their job was done. These days, that’s not good enough.

In the modern business world, your website may be your most valuable marketing tool. You can use a website to promote your business and sell to a huge audience. Your website content and online marketing efforts can have a huge impact on your business’s growth and success.

However, to reap these benefits, you need someone to take care of your website. That person is your website manager.

Small Business Websites: A Modern Perspective

The internet is a different beast now. A decade ago, you could create any old website and people would probably find it. These days, there are so many websites, so many pages, that it isn’t that simple. Your small business website isn’t just an advertisement for your business – it’s the online version of a brick-and-mortar store. You aren’t just marketing your business through your website. You need to market your business website too.

This might seem like a lot of work. As well as marketing in print, radio, and television, you have to market your website itself. However, there are big advantages to online marketing. Traditional media simply can’t provide these benefits.

  • Website space is essentially unlimited. A website can contain text, video, audio, and images, which makes it more of an all-round marketing tool than any other platform.
  • You can sell your product directly through your website thanks to the booming ecommerce market. In this way, your virtual store can create real revenue.
  • You can easily find statistics about your website performance. This lets you quickly analyze the ROI from your online marketing campaigns.
  • Thanks to search engine optimization, you can market to specifically targeted potential customers. This gives you a higher chance of making a sale and a higher overall ROI.

As the internet and website technologies develop, it becomes more important to work hard on your website. In today’s online world, you need to really invest in your website so it works for you. You can’t just hire a website designer, create a site, and leave it to do its thing. You need someone to manage your site and ensure that it performs highly. This person is your website manager.

Duties Of A Website Manager

The job of a website manager varies. There isn’t one simple set of duties for a website manager. For some, website management is a full-time job, while others give just a few hours a month to website management. A website manager might work only on a website’s code and technical specs, while others will manage online marketing campaigns for a business too. However, most website managers will handle these duties:

  • Keeping a website’s domain registration and hosting updated
  • Performing software updates
  • Updating website functionality
  • Monitoring and analyzing a website’s performance
  • Creating and updating content
  • Managing online marketing campaigns, including social media marketing and SEO best practices

You or one of your employees could act as your website manager on a part-time basis. Alternatively, your website designer may help you with your website on an ongoing basis after the original build. However, if you’re serious about your online presence, you should work with a professional website manager. A dedicated manager will know how to get the best possible performance from your website and use their skills to help you maximize the success of your business.

All Small Businesses Need A Website Manager

Small business owners can effectively manager their own websites now using content management systems. With a bit of time and study, a small business owner can learn the essentials of online marketing and managing a website. If you really love technology and working online, this might be for you.

Realistically, however, most entrepreneurs cannot take on the full role of website manager. The internet changes rapidly, becoming more and more complex. You can make basic changes and updates to your site, but you need to know what content and updates it needs in the first place. You need enough coding expertise to fix any bugs and functionality issues. You have to analyze data and statistics to choose where you should invest your time and money. Essentially, you need to be a website expert.

Website managers are dedicated professionals who work hard to understand everything about the ever-changing internet. A small business owner or entrepreneur needs to spend their time running their business, not desperately trying to analyze website statistics and change finicky code. A website manager is an expert who can make these changes quickly and effectively. As a result, it makes sense for a small business owner to hire a website manager.

Here at A La Carte Web Services, we can provide you with expert website management services for your small business. Contact us to find out more.

Why Every Small Business Needs A Website Manager

In the past, it seemed like only big corporations needed websites. These days, that’s not true. Every business needs a website. Yes, that’s right, even small businesses! However, these websites can easily turn stale and ineffective without the help of a website manager. Website managers make sure that a site is up to date, secure, and working as well as possible. They also analyze your site’s performance, letting you know whether your website is actually helping your business succeed. Let’s discuss some of the things a website manager can do to help your small business.

Make Sure Your Website Is Functional And Secure

In many ways, websites are like traditional brick-and-mortar companies. They need to be neat, well-run, and inviting. When a website is slow, outdated, or broken, visitors will think that your business is slow, outdated, and broken too. This might not send every potential customer away, but it will probably cost you a lot of sales.

Websites are made up of code and most small business websites run on content management systems (CMS) and software platforms. These systems have to be updated on a regular basis so the website can keep working. Without regular updates, the website can also be hacked more easily and become a security risk.

A website manager will ensure that your website is always safe, secure, and functional.

Regularly Update Your Website Content

It isn’t just the design of your website that needs to work. Your website content is important too. A lot of small business websites get forgotten. The information on these websites becomes outdated and inaccurate. This can happen easily but it can be very frustrating for potential customers.

Imagine that you post your opening hours on your website. A year later, these opening hours change, but you aren’t updating your website much. You could be losing a lot of business from people who turn up when your business is closed or don’t realize that you are open for additional hours now. This lack of updates can be particularly problematic if the changes are significant, like when a restaurant changes their menu and doesn’t update it online.

Your website needs to change with your business. Regular updates make your business appear professional and drive more traffic from search engines to your website. Search engines realize that regularly updated websites are better, and you should too.

A website manager will ensure that your small business website is well maintained.

Analyzing Performance

A lot of small business owners pay big money for a pretty, highly functional website and big online marketing campaigns without ever checking if they work or not. In reality, a great website isn’t worth anything if it isn’t benefiting your business.

It’s easy to analyze website performance. You can quite quickly find out how many visitors come to your website, how long they stay for, how they get there, and what they do on the site. These things are pretty basic but they will give you some insight into whether visitors are coming to your site and if they like it.

You can also monitor performance to find out which keywords bring traffic to your website, which is vital if you’re working on SEO. There is no point spending time and money on your website if you don’t know that it’s working. With real data from performance monitoring, you can tell whether your website is serving your business well. This will help you choose the most effective strategies in future online marketing efforts.

A small business website works best when it is secure and attractive, regularly adding up-to-date and interesting content, and monitoring performance. Essentially, analyzing performance ensures that your website is working for you.

A website manager will monitor performance to ensure that your website is helping your business succeed.

Hiring A Website Manager

Website managers take care of all the tricky aspects of running a small business website. They perform various tasks, including keeping your website up to date and analyzing performance. A website manager might also work on your online marketing campaigns or take them over completely. Someone needs to act as a website manager so that your website gives people a great impression of your business. If you don’t have that person, consider hiring a website manager on a permanent or part-time basis.

If you need a website manager for your small business website, check out A La Carte Web Services. With our website management services, we can make sure that all these aspects of your website are working so that your business can really grow and succeed.

The Long-Term Benefits of Organic SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has seen some hype in the last several years. If you’ve heard of it, you would be right to know it has to do with various strategies to bring more traffic to one’s website. Over $65B was spent on SEO since 2016, with future growth ahead. And we agree, being optimized can be a powerful tool. That being said, SEO itself is quite young (~20 years old), and with all the hype often comes confusion, misconceptions, and frustrating results.

Therefore, we figure we take some time to shed some light on one aspect of SEO where we believe it all counts, at least here at A La Carte Web Services.

Organic SEO: The Most Valuable Juice

Organic SEO is the process of maximizing your visibility in the organic search results. Organic search results are unpaid listings. As opposed to paid SEO or social media advertising, Organic SEO does not require a PPC campaign or monthly advertising dollars.

Different Traffic Sources = Different Engagement

As you’ll see in the data below, the interaction your website receives from your visitors will generally vary based on which traffic source they came.

Below are screenshots of Google Analytics for 8 different websites showing data of different traffic sources. Private information has been removed or blurred out. For your convenience, we’ve highlighted the organic traffic in red.

Definitions

In the table you’ll notice the columns ‘Bounce Rate’ and ‘Avg. Session Duration’:

Bounce Rate The likelihood a visitor will leave the site without engaging with the site. Generally, the smaller the number, the better, but there is no perfect universal number. We often compare bounce rates with one another rather than aim for a certain number.

Avg. Session Duration The average amount of time spent on the website in each session.

The site above gets most of it’s traffic from organic searches, with incredibly low bounce rates compared to other sources.

The site above is clearly active on Facebook, however most of the traffic comes organically, meaning the site owner didn’t have to lift a finger to get visitors to her site.

The site above has a combination of organic and paid SEO (Rows 3, 6 and 8). You tell us which source is the primary contributor in web traffic.

The site above has a strong organic reach, with most of it’s traffic coming from the main organic search engines (including Ask! with the lowest bounce rates among organic searches and highest avg. session duration!). This website gets constant traffic without spending any ads or posting on social media.

The site above is clearly active on Facebook and Instagram, with low bounce rates and avg. session duration as a whole. However, most Facebook traffic (Rows 5 and 8) show high bounce rates and low avg. session duration.

The site above gets most of it’s traffic from organic sources, with more than half of all traffic coming directly from Google organic. Generally lower bounce rates and a healthy average session duration.

The site above generates solid traffic from other referrals, but look how little time they spend on the website compared to their organic cohorts!

In Conclusion

As a whole, organic traffic tend to yield more engaging visitors and spend more time on the website than those coming from other sources such as social media, referrals, and sometimes direct (although a high number in direct traffic is an indication of a healthy word-of-mouth network.) Organic traffic also does not require a monthly budget, as there is no advertising involved. Enjoy long-term traffic by having an organically SEO-friendly website!

Want more organic traffic? We can help! Start here.

Backlinks

Do I Really Need Backlinks?

If you’ve actually taken the time trying to acquire backlinks to your website, you’ll quickly realize the number of hoops you need to jump through to actually earn one. But first, let’s back up.

What Is A Backlink?

A backlink is an incoming link from one website to another. For example, if Website A has a link to Website B, Website B has earned a backlink. The standard advise is to gain quality backlinks from credible websites.

The Process of Acquiring Backlinks

The actual addition of a backlink on a website is fairly simple. It’s getting the second party to agree to go through the trouble of updating their website to benefit you that’s the hard part.

Have Your Ducks In A Row

Suppose you have a company in mind from whom you’d like to acquire a backlink. Before contacting anyone, however, be sure to have the following handy:

  • Decide which page of YOUR website their backlink should point to from their website. Which page of yours makes sense for the other website to backlink to? We advise selecting an inner page (a.k.a not the homepage) as your backlink destination, but any page will do.

  • Decide which page on THEIR website their backlink should display. Is it at the top somewhere? Embedded in an existing paragraph on an inner page? Or will you craft your own sentence with a backlink and instruct them to copy and paste directly on their specified page?

Give Them An Incentive

If you have something to offer them in exchange for a backlink, offer that upfront. Barter if necessary.

Trades Are Common

Oftentimes the second party will agree a backlink for a backlink. That means you’ll need to create a backlink to their website, which may or may not agree with your website’s goals.

In Conclusion

Backlinks are challenging because a) you don’t have control over the creation of a backlink and b) there’s no guarantee that you will see the results you’re hoping for. While they may boost some rankings, don’t break your back going about it thinking it’s your only option for greater web visibility.

Instead, we recommend focusing your marketing time and energy on areas where you do have control: your own website. Explore topics within your industry as blog posts. Optimize your existing title tags, make the site more user-friendly, add new promotions, etc.

Need help bringing traffic to your website? Check out our affordable Organic SEO plans.