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Websites We Love: Navigation

This week, we asked the Vistaprint Internet Marketing Facebook community about what one word comes to mind first when thinking about their website. As usual, there were some amazing responses and Websites to choose from--which makes choosing just one difficult! In the end, we picked Jessica Peltz and Myst Mobile Spray Tanning as this week's Website We Love.

The word Jessica used to describe her site was "resourceful," and we think it's a word that highlights what we liked about the site well. We were impressed by the amount of information found on the site, and how well the navigation pointed to and explained specific services. Whether looking at Frequently Asked Questions or Scheduling An Appointment, the site is well organized, and easy for visitors to use. Congrats, Jessica!

What about you? What is the first word that comes to mind when you think about YOUR site?

Websites We Love: Home Page Importance

Take a look at your site. What do you think is the most important page, to you and to your users? That is the question we asked this week on our Internet Marketing Facebook page, and we received (as always!) a number of great responses--and great websites, too! This week's Website We Love winner, Celine Jacobs, of Rockhampton Happy Hounds Dog Training, thinks her home page is the most important spot on her site. We think it's a great place to welcome visitors--human and canine alike! We also think the About Us page does a great job explaining not only the company's services, but also the history behind the business; it also provides helpful information such as location, hours and more. (Plus there is even a Dog Blog!) Congrats, Celine!

Now it's your turn--tell us what page YOU think is most valuable when it comes to your site, and why.

How to Share Your Small Business’s Story Online


Storytelling is an important part of who we are as humans. Since the first hieroglyphics were smeared on the walls of ancient caves, stories have captured our attention and our imaginations. Here are a few tips to help you connect with customers by sharing your business’s story in the About Us section of your website.

Think Back
A great story has tremendous value. It catches your attention, it’s interesting and it’s memorable. Think about how your business came to be. Perhaps you began in a converted garage. Maybe it was your 3-year-old daughter who sparked a prolific idea.  Or maybe you lost a job but discovered your calling. Whatever the case, if you’re passionate about your business, then you have a story to tell!
 
Be Specific and Use Details
Details bring a story to life and they’re what stick in people’s minds. If a potential customer is interested in your product or services, they’re going to be interested in the details of your business. Share the details that make your business unique and website visitors will feel more connected to you. By opening up, you’ll allow visitors to become invested in your business.

Show Off

Take the opportunity to show visitors what you do better than anyone else. Explain what really sets you apart and why you can be trusted to provide better products or services than the competition. Are you the fastest? Newest? Friendliest? Maybe you pride yourself in offering free, half-hour consultations to prospective clients, or maybe you’re the only company in town offering a specific product. Your story should set an expectation of what it’s like to do business with you and it should also help to establish brand identity. Even if you don’t actively managing your brand at all times, your story will.

But I’m Not a Writer!

Don’t worry — no one is expecting your story to rival Charles Dickens. The most important thing to remember is to provide clear and simple content.  Don’t try to sound like something you’re not and don’t use business-speak. Just tell the truth, in a good way. But, if the thought of putting pen to paper proves too terrifying, it’s worth hiring a freelance copywriter. With a little research, you’ll be able to get something great, at an affordable price.
 
Think about what makes your business unique and try putting it on paper. Your story might not win a Pulitzer Prize, but it’s got to be better than those cave paintings…

Image: Victor1558

Websites We Love: Engaging Content

Our latest edition of Websites We Love highlights a site with engaging content...something that is important when it comes to both your visitor's experience and overall interaction with your site.

This week, we were impressed with "world record breaking" DJ Jack Hill's video content in particular. His site features video throughout the pages, including on its Homepage and Contact Us section. Congrats, Jack!

How important is great content to you? Tell us in the comments section!

4 Ways to Accommodate Search Engines and Your Visitors

Optimizing your website to improve your search ranking can also help you create a better website that your visitors will enjoy. Here are our top four ways your optimization efforts can win over search engines AND your visitors.

1. Include search terms.

Search engines
will use the search terms throughout your site as a good indication of what your website is about and rank it accordingly.

Your visitors
will see your website closer to the top of search results so it will be easier to find.

2. Add your company name to your website header.

Search engines
look at your website header as an important description of your site’s subject matter and they’ll display your site when a search is calling for that topic.

Your visitors should know exactly what your website is about at first sight. Write your company name and add your tagline to further explain your business.

3. Make updates whenever you can.

Search engines
notice frequently updated websites first, which could improve your search rankings.

Your visitors
will appreciate seeing fresh content and will be more likely to check back often to see your updates.

4. Describe your images and videos.

Search engines
will use your text to determine your relevancy to searches. The more text you add to your website, the better.

Your visitors
will like that you’re providing details and telling your story.

Enjoy the process and do a little bit at a time to make sure you cover all of your bases. And remember, your primary audience is your site visitors, so cater to their needs first.

Three Quick Tips for Better Marketing

When it comes to marketing your website or online business, it can be easy to forget about marketing it offline, too. Although traditional online methods such as email marketing and having a local search profile are both vital, think about all the potential customers you might be missing! Here, we give you three quick tips on how to build your business and create a strong brand though offline AND online marketing.

1. Keep It Consistent
When it comes to your business, consistency is one of the most important things to keep in mind, and ultimately, it strengthens your brand identity while helping customers easily identify your business. So when you want to create something new to market your biz, whether it’s as small as a postcard or as large as an email marketing campaign, start off by ask yourself the following questions:

Will my logo be easy to recognize?
Is my design template memorable?
Does my content match the theme of my business?

The answer to all of those questions should be yes, but if it’s not, don’t worry! Vistaprint offers hundreds of matching design templates so you can create marketing materials to match your business card, website, brochure and more!

2. Avoid a Marketing Rut
If you find yourself using the same advertising methods over and over again, it might be time to get creative. Using a variety of mediums can help you acquire a larger customer base and can have great returns. For instance, if you run a local business, and have been using mostly online marketing to generate in-store traffic, you might want to see if mailing postcards in your area can encourage more people to stop in. Plus, you can track its success by asking people to bring in their postcard in order to receive a discount or a free gift. There are other offline marketing products that can give you great results. Some inventive examples include leaving flyers in local shops, posting lawn signs to attract passersby and using car magnets to increase your exposure as you commute.

3. Get It Together
The more your advertising and marketing tools work together, the more success they will bring your business. Your offline materials should support your online efforts and vice-versa. Hint: Make sure your print pieces – such as business cards, postcards and brochures – contain all of your contact information. Include your website address and your business email address, and encourage prospective customers to visit your website or sign up for your e-newsletters.

Although we’ve just scratched the surface of this subject, if all of your customer communication is working together online and offline as one cohesive unit, you will create a professional look, be viewed as a reputable and trustworthy business and drive more traffic to your store. Even if customers can’t remember where they put your flyer, they’ll still remember you – that’s the power of a strong brand identity.

Welcome to Websites We Love

When thinking about how to showcase all the great sites our customers build, we came up with a neat idea: ask our Internet Marketing Facebook Community to share theirs! We received such a great response, we're turning it into a weekly feature. Every Wednesday, we'll highlight one awesome site here on the blog, and on our Facebook page.

As we mentioned, we received a ton of great responses, so it was very hard for us to choose just one to highlight. Our first Website We Love comes from Lisa Draisey of Parkland Bridal. Her favorite feature? The blog, where there is a ton of info for customers! We're also big fans of her clean design, great content and picture-packed testimonials section. Congrats, Lisa!

Want your site to be featured here? Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our next Websites We Love announcement! In the meantime, you can check out all the great sites that were posted here and here.

Digital Marketing Dictionary

We get it — when it comes to getting listed online, the process can be overwhelming. The first step is understanding what terms such as “local search” and “organic search” mean, and how they relate to your site.


Key Terms

Local Search
: The basic definition revolves around geography. Results are displayed when a potential customer searches online for a product or service within a specific geographic location. For example, if you type “landscaping, Boston” into Google, Yahoo orYelp, it will return Local Search results for landscaping businesses in Boston.

Social Media: According to Merriam-Webster, Social Media includes “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” Whether or not you use Social Media in your personal life, utilizing it as a marketing tool for your business can have big benefits. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to engage with existing customers and connect with new ones.

Organic Search: The original type of results in a search engine that include a list of websites. Major search engines such as Google evaluate websites based on credibility and relevancy so that searchers find the best matches for their search.

Search Engine Optimization: Otherwise known as SEO, it is the process of optimizing your website so it shows up in organic search. One specific way to do this is to think about various keywords that you use within your content.

Keywords: Think for a moment about what words you type in to your preferred search engine when you’re looking for something specific. For instance, if you were searching online for a restaurant that served a particular dish, but you couldn’t recall the name of the restaurant, you would likely type in keywords such as your location, the dish’s name, or perhaps even the main elements of the dish.

Paid Search: Results are advertisements or "sponsored links" in search engines that businesses can purchase from sites such as Google. Paid Search is a useful form of online marketing for some businesses because one can see results immediately, however, unlike other more gradual types of online marketing, it does cost money.
 
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting specific content about how you can utilize these key digital marketing terms. Can’t wait for the post? Keep in mind that we have an extensive Online Guide that can be found on your dashboard!

Secrets of Organic Search

 
 
 
Showing up as the number one position for a search term is a potential gold mine for micro businesses.  More than likely the user that performed that search is going to click on the number one listing. Why? Because it’s the first listing they see and they know the search engine believes it to be the most relevant site for their search. Based on leaked AOL data a few years ago the first listing is likely to have 3.5 times more clicks that the No. 2 position, and being No. 2  isn’t bad!

So what’s the secret to ranking number one? You can’t just pay to have your site show up, even in the paid listings search engines need to deem your site relevant and worthy before they will serve it. We know “content is king” and that optimizing your title and URL are important parts of organic search, but everyone can create a URL that’s at least somewhat relevant and optimize their title tags for searches. You want to know the trick, the secret, the special combination that will boost your site to the top?

Make your site for the user and the rest will follow, it’s that simple. It’s a broad answer you’ve probably heard before from Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts. We tend to think of this answer as a copout, expecting insight to the Google algorithm or specific details on how we can alter our code to improve rankings, but one should really heed Matt Cutts’ advice. Google and other search engines will always try and do what’s best for the user. So if your site is optimized for the user, chances are that your site will eventually rank well for your targeted keywords.

Yes there are certain structural improvements you can perform allowing spiders to crawl your site with more ease, but when it comes down to it there is still no better form of marketing than word of “web”.  If people enjoy your site they will share it with others and so on and so forth.  A webmaster shouldn’t be too concerned about building their site around spiders. By building a site around the user you’re also building the site around the spider.

Yes, I understand that in the end it might not be the answer you’re looking for, but in the end, it’s the most effective one.
 
What do yo think about organic search? Looking forward to recieving your comments.  

Top Ten Mistakes People Make When Starting a Website

 
 
A website will almost always be a work in progress, launching one is not easy if you don't have the right tools and support. There are always tweaks to be made and changes that will affect the user experience, traffic and overall theme of the pages.  But there are also a few key mistakes that people typically make when it comes to starting from scratch. 
 
This morning Jeremy and I sat down to go through some of these key mistakes and while it was originally a large list we have refined it down to these 10.  If you can focus on getting these right, you’ll have greater success in launching your businesses website. 
 
1. Domain Names: Choosing a domain that is relevant, easy to remember and consistent with your brand.  Check out Ryan’s post on “Your perfect domain name”
 
2. Brand Consistency: Spend the time to make your site look and feel like the rest of your brand.  So if you have already designed a business card with certain design elements, make sure that you keep them consistent with your website.  Professionalism is what you are looking for and it gives your customers confidence shopping with you online or in your physical store when everything is the same.  This includes colors, tone of copy and including your company logo.
 
3. Consistent and concise information: Your customers are busy people these days and get bombarded with information all day. Having clear, consistent content which is easy to navigate is so important but too many people try to over communicate everything they do and how they do it to get their message across. Keep the format the same, shorter is better and above the fold is where your most important content should live. “Above the fold” is the term used for all the content you can see within the top part of the screen and it’s high value real estate. Check out Ryan’s post about content above the fold. 
 
4. Call to action: Micro businesses have a website for a reason, be it informing their customers of where they are and how to contact them, selling products, or putting out content around their industry or demographic.. But no matter what the reason, there should always be a clear call to action for the customer to act and take further steps to do business with you.  Giving the customer a clear direction gives you a better chance at a successful outcome. If you want them buy something think about the information they will need to know before buying.  Give it to them then provide them with an avenue to purchase. For example, a PayPal purchase button or large phone number call out for estimates.  Even a simple “contact us today!” can be effective in spurring action once people have landed on your site.
 
5. Investing time: Spend some time up front to make your site look professional and well presented. Check over your site design and content before making it live to the world. It doesn’t need to be perfect when you start, but having areas of your site looking sloppy does not make a good first impression.  You want it to be as close to perfect as possible before launching it.
 
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think about search engine optimization while building your site and consistently after it has launched. Too many people think about it after the fact and being aware of good SEO practices from the start will put you in a much better position to maximize your online potential. The Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer is a great tool to be able to monitor your SEO.
 
7. Customer contact details: At every opportunity try to capture your customer contact details so that you have an avenue to contact them in the future.  Having a “Contact Us” page is a must, which will allows you to take your potential customer’s information in the process.  Be open about your contact details; put your contact information on every single page of your website to make it easy to find. This will help you build a database of your customers and allow you to use mediums such as Email Marketing in the future.
 
8. Announce your site: People are not going to just stumble upon your site; they need to know or hear about it. Create an email marketing campaign to announce the launch of a new site, share it with your friends on Facebook, reach out to your local Chamber of commerce and put a link to the site on your new business cards or other marketing materials. 
 
9. Understanding your data: Once you have your site set up and customers are coming to your site keep an eye on your website traffic.  Make sure you’re taking the right steps to boost that traffic and testing your efforts over time.  Again, your site won’t be stumbled upon, you need to be proactive about getting it found by search engines and customers.  Check out an article by Francine on “Understanding your website traffic.”
 
10. Don’t set it and forget it: Your business is growing and changing all the time. Your website should be too. Too often micro businesses think, “Oh I have a website now, I am all set there.” The actual answer is, “it takes time to grow your business online and requires continual improvement.” Consistently spend time each week to monitor and make updates to your website. Listen to customer feedback and make changes to improve. 
 
Hopefully these tips help you whether you are just getting started or are working on improving your site. Look forward to hearing the mistakes you made when starting out.

How to Craft an Effective Title for Your Blog Post

 
 
 
Thinking about how to craft the most effective title for your blog post?  Last week, we discussed how to Make Your Blog Posts “Must Reads”, and a strong title is important to reel readers into your posts. 
 
 
When your title is strong, your reader may want to share the post link with friends spreading your readership.  Also, the words you choose in your post title will display in search result pages and on social media sites where your post was shared.  The title is built into your post’s individual URL (called the permalink URL), too, in your browser bar. 
 
Whether for the initial open rate, search results, social media sites, index value, or the permalink URL, here are five ideas to consider to create strong titles for increased success with your blog posts:
 
1. Include keywords relevant to your post

When ranking your website, search engines look for similarities in the subject matter of your blog post, title, and other site content.  Consider using the keywords you’re optimizing your article for as increased usage in the title will help to accelerate the ranking process for search engines.  This also helps your readers know the basic points your post will discuss.

2. Convey the post’s purpose or benefit

Get your message across clearly in your title, especially if there’s a benefit to the reader.  
If you’re conveying a sale, let your customers know: All Hair Products Must Go by Sunday. 
If you’re showing how to do something, say it up front: How to Decide When to Sell Your Home or 10 Steps for Your Dog’s Best Bath. If you’re making an announcement, make it specific: We’ve met our $5,000 Funding Goal
 
3. Ask a question

Ask a question to develop relationships with your readers by breeding conversation.  Consider which of your readers you want to target with your question.  Questions may also give you an opportunity to gather information from customers that could be helpful to your next sale or event. 

4. Use power words to attract interest

Examples include Free, Now, Vote, Quick, Secrets.  Strong words within your title help draw attention to your post.  While the post is important for your visitors to continue reading after they move beyond the title, power words can spark healthy click through rates.  

5. Bring controversial ideas to the table 
 
Strong ides often prompt readership and debate.  Consider if you have a strong viewpoint, and how to phrase that within a few words for your title. 
 
Enjoy these strategies to engage interest in your post content by writing strong titles.  Even better, as you continue to launch new posts, clear and intriguing titles make your archived, older posts easier and more fun for readers to view. 
 
What have your favorite post titles been?

Make Your Blog Posts "Must Reads"

 
 
 
Your blog posts’ effectiveness increases your blog and website’s performance, boosting return visits.  Results can be seen through post visits, commenting on that post and shares of your post on social media sites. 
 
 
 
Be Yourself and Take Time to Write
 
Blog posts can be most desirable for readers when you give them a unique point of view and tell them something they didn’t know.  Spend some time to consider what you want to write- whether it’s announcing an event or sale, sharing updates, or discussing topics of interest to you or your business.
 
Introduce your topic with a short opening paragraph, provide the meat of your discussion in the middle and then summarize your points in a closing statement.  Consider the key elements of what you’re trying to portray, but don't overburden the reader with too much content.  Typically when writing, less is more. But most importantly, lend your own expertise to the topic and your unique point of view, that’s why people are going to read it.
 
Take a read through to make sure your message is clear and clean (feel free to use our spell checking tool!).  Keep in mind you can always create a draft and then save it for review later in your Blog Dashboard before publishing.
 
Solicit Comments and Feedback
 
Comments and interaction on your blog will keep people coming back and ultimately boost traffic.  So make your posts thought provoking and ask for questions, comments or feedback at the end of each one.  And when people take the time to comment or ask a question, respond thoughtfully.  Once you get the ball rolling, ideas for posts and interactions with customers will make your blog a must-visit property.
 
Make it memorable with extras
 
Spice up your posts with extras like images, videos, audio, maps, and more.  Integrating visuals within your text can help excite the message for your readers, and there are lots of options included in the Blog Builder. 
 
Hope this helps you on your way to great blogs.  Let us know what works best for you when crafting your posts!
 
Stay tuned for upcoming tips on writing impactful post titles to reel your readers in, advice on frequency and scheduling of posts, and how to use your readers’ comments to best continue the discussion.

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