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Websites We Love: Inspiration
Websites We Love: Painting a Picture
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Adding Facebook and Twitter badges/buttons to your website
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Consider These Extras to Boost Your Website Activity
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Quick Tips: Above The Fold

You might have read our blog about how, when it comes to your website, 80% of eye traffic is “above the fold.” Here, we’ll provide you with quick tips on the three aspects of your site to focus on for optimal ocular attention:

Star of the Show

Your page’s headline is crucial — and is likely the first thing someone will see when they land on your page. It might sound obvious, but it’s incredibly important to include your business name and logo in this space, so it’s always top of mind for your site’s visitors. And remember: Design choice also factors into your headline space! For one, check that this space isn’t cluttered. Too much information can detract from your name. Also make sure the colors you pick for your logo and website complement each other, are easy to read, and make your headline visible.  

Call to Action
Take a few moments to think about WHY you have a Website. Is there something that you want to make sure people do once they’re on your site? Maybe it’s to order a product. Or read your blog. Or even to get directions to your storefront. Whatever the action is, ensuring that it’s in a prominent location, with easy-to-read text can do wonders for follow-through. You’ll also need to think of what this call to action says. Our hint? Keep it simple! If your goal is for people to contact you for more information, a quick “Contact Us!” is perfect.

Get Social
If you’re hoping to connect with your visitors (and you should be!) one of the best ways to do so is through Social Media. Make sure your buttons to Like, Follow and more are placed prominently enough for anyone who visits your site to see.

These are just a few tips we think will help! Do you have any to add? Tell us in the comments section!

Websites We Love: Site Evolution

In this installment of Websites We Love, we asked our Internet Marketing Facebook community how they encourage their customers and/or Website visitors to get in touch with them. As usual, we received a number of awesome responses, but had to choose just ONE winner.

This week's Website We Love comes from Erica Jayne Clavin, who thinks that when it comes to customers getting in contact with her, simple is sometimes best! "I encourage visitors to fill out a simple contact form connected to my website email," she says. She also points out that a successful website is constantly evolving, and your customers dictate what's added to the site. "I also encourage them to view my other online locations, as I am currently redeveloping my website to better suit my visitors needs," she says. "If [customers] are close enough to my area, they can visit me at the salon, or join on my many volunteer activities!" Congrats, Erica!

Do you agree? How important is your site's evolution? Tell us in the comments section!

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.

New updates for Vistaprint Websites

Over the past few months you have given our team great feedback on our suite of Internet Marketing products and how we can improve them. We truly appreciate this feedback and it allows us to our products updated and fresh.  We have recently rolled out two improvements to the photo functionality from this feedback and wanted to give you an overview of the changes.

Light-Boxes

Updating the light-boxes for single images was the first improvement we made. When a visitor to your site clicks on any of your images to “view larger,” they’ll see a light-box that highlights your picture.  Below is a screenshot of the new light-boxes in action:
Filmstrip

The other new addition that has been made is to our “filmstrip” image gallery extra.  The new features include: updated thumbnails, enlarge your “filmstrip”, and the ability to browse through existing albums. Below is a screenshot of the updated filmstrip functionality:
These new features are available for you to use now. Be sure to take a look at them and let us know what you think.

Search Engine Optimization and Google Webmaster Tools

 
 
A few weeks ago, I posted some information about a new tool we added to the website builder: a Meta Tag editor.  This may be new to many of you and you might be asking yourself some questions like, what are meta tags, what is Google Site Verification and how do I set it up?  Or, how does this work with the Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer (SEO)? 
 
What are meta tags?

Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header of a webpage.  These tags are never seen by visitors to your site.  Instead, their main purpose is to provide search engines with information about your website.  This helps search engines recognize and rank your website.  
 
What is Google Site Verification and how do I set it up?
 
Google Site Verification is basically a way for Google to know that you own your site.  They will provide you with a meta tag to put in the header of your site so they can pick it up through their search engine, helping improve your visibility.  Once enabled, Google Site Verification and Google Webmaster Tools allow you to understand how people are accessing your site and what they are searching for.  Follow these easy steps to setup Google Site Verification for your website:
 
1. First, you’ll have to set up an account with Google.  If you already have something like Gmail, you’re all set.
2. Go to Google Webmaster Tools and sign in using your Google account.
3. Once you’re signed in to the tools, click “Add a site.”
4. Enter your website URL and press continue.
 
             
5. On the next page, choose “Add a meta tag to your site’s home page.”  Google will provide you with a meta tag.  
 
6. Open up your Vistaprint Website Builder in a separate window and choose the “Add Meta Tags” extra. Paste the meta tag Google provided you here.
7. Publish your website.
8. Once published, go back to the Google Webmaster screen and click “Verify.”
9. Once verified, you’ll be directed to your Google Webmaster dashboard, where you can access information about your site.

How does this work with Search Engine Optimization?
 
Google Webmaster’s dashboard provides specific information about your site, including significant keywords and search queries.  Basically, they’re telling you what keywords you have on your site and how people are finding you.  These are great pieces of information but don’t give you full details about your website optimization.  Using SEO with what you’ve learned from Google Webmaster can really benefit your site. 
 
SEO provides you with a report card that has specific rankings for each area of your site, including website name, links, images, and each individual page.  In addition, SEO shows how optimized your website is for specific search terms and keywords on your site (for more information, refer to our Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) post).  With the keyword and search term information from Google, you can receive a real time score about how well your site is doing with SEO.  Google may be saying what keywords are significant, but it may not mean each individual portion of your site is fully optimized for these.  That’s where SEO comes into play; it tells you where to optimize and provides fixes/tips on how to do it.  Using both of these tools together will help grow your site and company’s visibility through search engines.
 
We hope you like this new addition, please feel free to share any experiences you have and any questions you have.
 

What’s new with your Vistaprint Internet Marketing Tools?

 
 
Hello folks,

Thanks for your continued support and following.  We really appreciate the engagement from all of you.  Your comments have been extremely important in keeping our products updated and fresh.  With some feedback we’ve received, we’d like to announce a few changes that you’ll see as you enter the builder to continue to work on your website.
 
One change you’ll see is an updated feature for PayPal.  For those of you that sell online, you can now offer discounted prices.
 
Use the following steps to start discounting your products:
     1. Access PayPal from the Extras dialogue
     2. Choose “Add a PayPal Shopping Cart”
     3. Enter the price of your product and a discounted amount
 
     4. Click next and check out the discounted price
 
If you’re selling something on your site, like a book, and normally charge $10.00 but want to discount it by $2.00, the product would appear like this:
You can update both new and existing products with this new feature.  If you don’t have a PayPal account, here’s some more information on how to set it up.  No matter how you update, this is a great way to show your customers that they can receive great products or services at a discounted price from your business!
 
Another feature we’ve added to our website extras is a Meta Tag editor.  You can access this through the Extras dialogue as well.
 
 
Meta Tags are HTML snippets that go inside the head element of your website.  To get your Google Site Verification meta tag, you must add your site to your Google account through Webmaster Tools.  By adding the code to your website, you are essentially verifying that you are the owner of your website
   
Lastly, we’ve created an Email Marketing survey to gather more feedback.  If you want to take the survey, you can access it from your Email Marketing dashboard.  There are some great questions in there and we’re really interested to hear what you think.  If you have a few minutes to take the survey, that would be awesome!

We hope that these new features make your website even better than it already is.  Also, we are continuously updating our products, so stay tuned for more articles in the coming weeks. Please feel free to share any feedback you have or thoughts for new features that you would like to see. 

Looking forward to your comments and thank you, for helping us make the tools better for you!

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.

Your Websites Support Team is Building Great Sites, Too!

 
 
Last week, we ran a “Best Website” competition for your websites support team, where agents submitted sites that they cooked up themselves using the Vistaprint Site Builder.   Pushing the team who serves you every day on the phones to design their best websites keeps their skills sharp for all your questions.
 
Damion took the design prize with www.theglasshouseja.com.  Check out how he customized his site’s header and footer, used the forms extra to gather requests and comments from prospective customers, and showcased his products with image galleries. 
 
The support team works hard to provide you with the best customer experience, and their own websites show what they can do to help you.  Congrats Damion!

Your Perfect Domain Name

 
 
Have you been sitting at your computer for hours trying to decide on the perfect domain name for your website?  Have you came up with a domain name but didn’t think it was good enough?  Oftentimes you’ll think you have the perfect name only to find out that someone else owns it and you have to start from scratch. 
 
 
A question I come across from customers is “How do I choose the perfect domain name?”  As you create your website choosing your domain name is as important as designing your pages.  Your domain name can both drive traffic to your site (link to article) and increase visibility for your micro business.  Deciding on the right domain name takes time and research, but here are a few hints to get you started on the road to your perfect domain name.   
 
First, check to see if your company name is available.  If you’re the owner of Jim’s Yardwork and www.JimsYardwork.com happens to be available, grab it.  This will be the perfect link to your company and really help your SEO ranking in search engines.
 
If your exact business name is not available, ask yourself, “What keywords do my customers use to describe my business?”   If you’re Jim and your customers use words like lawncare, garden, or design when they talk about your company, create a domain with these in mind.  Customers will most likely be using keywords when trying to find your business online. Something like www.JimsGardenLawncare.com would be a great grab because it has keywords your customers are searching for and makes it easier for them to find you in local search engines.
 
Lastly, how can you make your domain name memorable?  Many people settle for hyphenating or misspelling their domain name.  Although this may technically work, customers will have difficulty recalling it and your marketing efforts will be less effective since the site is difficult to remember.  Instead, try to present your keywords in a unique way that will resonate with your customers.  They will have an easier time recalling your domain name and most importantly will be able to pass it along to their friends! 
 
It can be hard work finding the right domain name.  Don’t get discouraged, your perfect domain name is out there  If you have some patience and use some creativity. What are some domain names that you’ve created or some hints you’ve used? 
 
I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. 

Adding Facebook and Twitter badges/buttons to your website

 
 
 
Due to a number of questions on our Blog, Facebook and twitter this week we have put together some instructions for how to add both facebook and twitter badges to your website.

This can been done in two different ways: The first Option uses the images extra in the website builder, and the second uses the HTML extra that comes with the Advanced Design Tools upgrade.  See which one best suits your needs.
 
Option 1: Using Images and Links

Step 1: Save the image you want to use into a folder on your computer.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 2: Log into the Website Builder and click on Images at the top of the toolbar under “Insert” tools.

Step 3:
Once the image up loader pops up, click on browse to add the image from your files.
 
Step 4:  When you see the image loaded into the Website Builder, “Right Click” on the image and you will see “Link” as the top option on the menu. Click on the “Link” option.
 
Step 5: Grab the URL (website address) you want to link the image too. Do this by going to the respective page (Facebook or Twitter) and copying the URL.
 
Step 6: Go back into the website builder and select the option “Link to another page on the web” and paste or type the URL into the text box and click ok.
 
Option 2: Pasting HTML

Step 1: Log in to your Facebook and twitter accounts to get the badge HTML code.
Facebook

FB 1: Log into your account and open up your business Facebook page.
 
FB 2: Click on Edit Page and on the lower right side of the page click on the link “Get your Badge” or click here to go straight to the Facebook Badges page. On http://www.facebook.com/badges/, you can choose which type of badge you’d like to use . You’ll be prompted with what you’d like to use the HTML text for.  Select “Other” and you’ll be provided the text to copy and paste into the website builder
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FB 3: Select the type of badge you want to create

FB 4:
Customize the size and how you want it to look on your site.
 
FB 5: Click "Get Code" and copy the iframe code from the text box.
 
See step 2 for adding it to your site
 
Twitter
 
T 1: Log into your twitter account
 
T 2: Click on the settings tab at the top of the page.
 
T 3: Once your settings page is open scroll down to the Footer where you will see the links specific to twitter like “About Us” “Contact”, the one you want to click on is “Goodies”. The Goodies (http://twitter.com/goodies) page will bring you to the twitter "Buttons and Widget Page".
 
T 4: Select the type of button for your website and you will then be prompted to select the actual image to display on the page. Select an image that you like best. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
T 5: To get the HTML code for the button you need to click on the image and copy the HTML code displayed above the image.
 
It will look like this: 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now see step 2 to add it to your site.
 
Step 2: Adding the image to your site using the HTML Extra feature in the site builder
SB 1: Log into your Vistaprint Website Builder
 
SB 2: Click on the “Extra” button then select the “Add HTML” feature
 
SB 3: Add the HTML code from Facebook or twitter into the text box by pasting it, then click done.
 
SB 4: This will bring the image onto your site and all you need to do now is place it where it looks best!
 
SB 5: Hit publish and your customers will be liking on Facebook and tweeting you on Twitter in no time!!
 
For people who have Advanced Design Tools (a website upgrade feature) you have the ability to add HTML using option 1 and 2. For people without Advanced Design Tools you can use option 1 or for a small fee upgrade to Advanced Design Tools
 
Hope this helps you getting the Facebook and twitter badges on your site! Feel free to share your success once you have added badges to your site, on Facebook, Twitter and the Vistaprint Internet Marketing Blog

Do I really need a website for my business?

 
 
I’m often asked by small business owners why they need a website. I always start by letting them knowing that in this day and age if your business doesn’t have a website it doesn’t exist. A study run by eMarketer found that 85% of people contact businesses that they find in local searches on the internet, so if you’re serious about your business the question should be: “How can you afford NOT to have a website?”
 
Get “out there” and gain credibility
 
Many people search for a business online before ever picking up the phone or setting foot in a store. Most people don’t even look in the YellowPages anymore to find businesses; they just turn on their computer (or their phone) to find what they’re looking for. If you aren’t online, you could miss out on those potential customers.
 
Having a website adds credibility to your business and gives your customers a chance to learn more about your products and services. Plus, you can speak to what makes your business special and why they should come to you. Think of your website as your online brochure; this is where people will read about your offerings, view photos, and find contact information. And if you have products to sell, your website can be a great place to drive sales by allowing customers to order directly on the site.
 
Whether you are generating direct sales on your site, or simply using it as an informational tool for prospective customers, your website is a cornerstone to the success and growth of your business. I’ll bet your competitors have one already.
 
If you’d like to try Vistaprint websites  we offer a 1-month FREE trial. Check it out  and see if it works for you and your business.
 
Now you know why you need a website find out more about how to create compelling content for your website from one of my previous posts on "How to Build Your First Website".
 
I would love to hear your thoughts on this so feel free to comment or create your own post about the need for having a website.
 
Till next time

How to build your first website

 
 
So you’ve decided to build a website for your business, but you don’t know where to start. In this article, I’ll outline the first three things that you should do to get your first website up and running.
 
 
 
1.   Create a Homepage
Remember the saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression?” Well, your homepage is the first impression that you’ll make to your site visitors, so it should really reflect what is great about your business and draw the customers in.
 
When you create your homepage, you should include the following information:
 
  • A brief description of your business and what you do
  • A list of your products or services
  • One or more photos of the business or your products
  • Information about where your business is located (if you run a local business, this is critical!)
  • Other important information that you want to make sure your visitors see. For example special promotions and specific events coming that your customer should be aware of. These will vary depending on your business.    
 
Make sure your homepage is easy to read and has specific information about your business. Remember, this is your face to the online world!
 
2.   Create a “Contact Us” Page
 
While the homepage will draw potential customers in, the “Contact Us” page will give them all the information they need to find you or reach out to you. When you create this page, make sure to include:
 
  • A phone number for customers to call you
  • Your business address and a map to your location (don’t forget driving directions!)
  • An online form that customers can fill out to ask questions directly
  • Links to your Facebook or Twitter pages so that customers can follow you
  • A signup form to subscribe to your Email Newsletters (if you have one), or to join your email list, even if you don’t have it up and running.
 
Search engines will be crawling your site, so this page is also very helpful to make sure that you show up when people search for businesses like yours in your city or town.
 
3.   Create an “About Us” Page
 
The “About Us” page is the place on your website where you can explain to your visitors what makes your business great and why they should work with you. When you create this page, imagine yourself talking to someone you just met on the street who was interested in learning more about what you do. What would you tell them? Some ideas include:
 
  • What is your business? What services do you provide or what products do you sell?
  • Where is your business? Are you a local business or a national business? Do you cover certain cities or towns?
  • What is the history of your business? Did you start it yourself? Why did you decide to get into the business?
  • What are the core values of your business? Are you family run? Do you offer a guarantee of 100% satisfaction?
  • Have your business won any awards? What are your specialties?
  • Who are you? How many employees do you have and what do they do?
 
This page should really make it clear what your business is all about and should give your visitors piece of mind that you stand behind your products or services.
 
These three pages are all you need to get your business online quickly, but once you have them up and running there are plenty of other pages you can add to get more out of your website. I’ll be posting more over the coming weeks about this, but feel free to leave a comment or suggestion about things you’d like to read about. Good luck getting your site launched!
 
We look forward to working with you to get online, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.
 
 
 

Show up in Search Engines with SEO and Drive more Traffic

 
 
You’ve probably heard before that having a website is crucial to having a successful business in today’s world. If not see why businesses need a website. However, simply having a website isn’t enough; you need to make sure potential customers can find it.
 
 
70% of American consumers use the Internet to find the products, services and businesses they’re looking for (www.pewinternet.org). Most consumers use search engines such as Google™, Yahoo, and Bing when searching online and click on search results within the first results page. Therefore, if you want to drive more business online and enable potential customers to find you, it’s crucial that your website has prominent placements in the major search engines.
 
One of the most successful ways to increase your websites placement in search engines is through Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization, or more commonly known as SEO, is the process of applying certain techniques to your website so they stand a better chance of ranking well in search engines.  
 
SEO helps improve your website’s ranking in Organic Search Results , not paid results (also known as sponsored links or Google® Adwords). Most people searching for products and services in Google™ click on the organic results, so it’s important that your website ranks well.
 
Search engine optimization affects only organic search results,
not paid or "sponsored" results, such as Google AdWords
 
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not just for big businesses; it’s a great way for small businesses to market themselves online for a low cost! Learn more about how to improve your website’s SEO ranking with our (Search Engine Optimization Guide for Small Business), or check out Vistaprint’s Search Engine Optimizer that will guide you through the process of optimizing your site.

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