7 Website Tips to Help You Get Started Right

7 Top Website Tips - Good ideas for your business website

Creating a business website can be an intimidating prospect. You want everything to be perfect … but don’t have the expertise to be confident you’ll get it right.

That’s one reason we offer professional website design. Our experts can take all that stress off you and ensure you get a business website you can be proud of.

But you definitely can do it yourself. In fact, we offer three DIY website hosting packages that include an easy-to-use website builder and plenty of other tools to help you out.

Today we’ll offer you some basic website tips to help you get started with your business website.

Even before the list of tips, our first advice would be not to stress out about making your website perfect right off the bat. It won’t be perfect. But if you get the basics right, it will work well for you and you can easily update and optimize your site over time.

When Building Your Business Website, Don’t Forget…

  1. Contact information: Make it as easy as possible for website visitors to contact you and find you if you have a local, real-world presence. Create an easy-to-find Contact Us page and think about adding your phone number and address to the top header (or at least bottom footer) of all pages. An address can also help with your local SEO efforts.
  2. Business information: Make it as clear as possible who you are and what you provide. Keep in mind, people will be visiting your site who don’t know anything about your business or maybe even the category of products and services you are offering. Don’t rely on industry jargon that people may not understand or on vague marketing language that doesn’t answer people’s questions. Your business information can be on your homepage or an About Us page. One technique is to have some abbreviated introductory information on the homepage so people are sure to see it and then have more detailed information about your company on an About page, Product or Services pages, Pricing page, etc.
  3. Logo/Branding: If you already have an established logo or other brand elements, try to have them incorporated into your website so your customers will feel at home on your website. Doing this will also help customers trust you online, which can help translate into sales. If you do have a logo, make sure it is prominently displayed at the top of all website pages: upper-left is the standard position. (Our professional website design services offer logo design as an add-on service if you don’t already have a logo.)
  4. Easy navigation: Take some time to plan out all your pages and link to them using easy-to-understand keywords in your navigation. If you have lots of pages, group them into logical, well-understood categories in your navigation. If you are having trouble deciding on category names, look around the web at similar websites. Using common online terminology is a good strategy; you don’t want to rely on customers relearning terminology that’s unique to you if they are used to seeing it another way.
  5. Site map: Ideally your website navigation makes it simple for visitors to get to all your website pages, but having a sitemap that lists all your pages in one place is a good backup plan. Site maps are often linked to from the header or footer of all pages.
  6. Easy to read: While you do want to use your brand’s colors on your website, that doesn’t mean if your logo is red and green you want to have red pages with green text on them (or visa versa). You want to make sure all your pages are easy to read. So pick page and text colors that contrast well for readability (good ol’ black text on white pages is the most readable) and make sure the font size is big enough for most people (larger if you specialize in products/services for seniors or people with vision issues). Of course, you should also make an effort to keep your writing clear, focused and easy to read.
  7. Easy to find: Take advantage of the free SEO tools that come with EarthLink Web Hosting and Ecommerce Hosting plans. They can help you optimize your website and get ranked on search engine sites, making it easier for your customers to find you. There are also free tools so you can submit your business information to more than 60 online business directories and search engines at once. Just be patient; new websites always take a while to move up the search engine rankings.

Bonus Tip: Go Mobile! A mobile website is becoming a more and more important addition to your regular website. Five of our six web hosting plans include a free mobile website with an easy to use mobile website builder. But don’t worry if you have a plan that doesn’t include the mobile site; you can upgrade any time you’re ready.

Grammar Mistakes – Which Word Should You Use?

Good grammar tips to help your website stand out.As promised in last week’s post about grammar mistakes to avoid on your website, here are some more common word mix-ups you should keep an eye out for when writing on your business website.

* INTO VS. IN TO

Into is a preposition which indicates movement from the outside to the inside of something or a transition from one thing or state into another. This includes both literal and figurative movements and transitions. Examples:

  • Come into our main store for even more savings.
  • This puts money back into your pocket.
  • We help turn business problems into business opportunities.

When using in to, in is an adverb (modifying the verb) and to is a preposition. In many cases in to means in order to. Examples:

  • Come in to save even more (note, in this case it means come in order to save; in the very similar first bullet example above it meant come inside so you can save).
  • You must write in to enter the contest.
  • Turn your completed forms in to the customer service rep.

* THAT VS. WHICH

That is used in restrictive clauses. What that means is you should use that when what follows could not be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence. Examples:

  • Companies that invest in their workers profit in the long term.
  • Small problems that are not addressed quickly can become major problems.
  • Grammar tips that are confusing are worse than no tips at all (we’re hoping that’s not the case here).

In all the cases above, if you took out the restrictive that clause (that are not addressed quickly, that invest in their workers, that are confusing) the sentence meaning would change. For example, the last sentence would change to mean that all grammar tips are worse than no tips at all—and we know that can’t be true.

Which is used for nonrestrictive clauses, those that could be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning. These non-restrictive clauses often contain extra information that you could see inside parentheses and usually have commas before or before and after the clause. Examples:

  • Companies investing in their workers, which is becoming a trend, leads to long term profits
  • Small problems, which all companies have, should not take big resources to address.
  • Confusing grammar tips are worse than no tips at all, which we hope isn’t the case here.

All those which clauses above could be cut out without changing the meaning of the rest of the sentence. You could also put the clauses in parentheses without affecting the sentence. In the first example, the clause “which is becoming a trend” is additional, expendable information; the core of the sentence is that companies that invest in their workers will profit.

* WHO VS. THAT or WHICH

As in the examples above, that and which are relative pronouns used for inanimate objects. When referring to people, you’ll always be correct to use the pronoun who. Examples:

  • You are the one who we are working for.
  • Only people who enter the contest before Friday can win.
  • Website visitors who view three or more pages are 37% more likely to purchase.

While all the above uses are correct, some would be OK using that in the last example  (visitors that view) since it’s the least personal reference. You’re talking about people, but as statistics.

Some are also OK with using who when referring to animals (especially close pets) and organizations, such as companies.

Strictly speaking, a company is a thing, but if you want to emphasize the humanity of your company (it is an organization made up of people, after all) you can chose to use who strategically in your copy: “We are a company who cares deeply about our customers.”

* FARTHER VS. FURTHER

Use farther when referring to physical distance (think of the most common use of the word far). Examples:

  • You shouldn’t have to drive farther than five miles to get to one of our stores.
  • Tiger Woods hits the golf ball a lot farther than I do.

Use further when referring to figurative distance, progress, or amount. Examples:

  • Nothing could be further from the truth.
  • After further investigation, we decided to discontinue the product.
  • Our sales team is further along in the transition than the marketing team.

Further is also used as a verb, meaning to help promote or advance something.

  • All employees must buy in to further the new direction of the company.

* E.G. VS. I.E.

E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means “for example.” When you see that first e in e.g., think example.

  • Winners will receive a variety of prizes, e.g., iPods, digital cameras, T-shirts.
  • The contest will be judged by an expert (e.g., me).
  • Choose from a number of industry-specific templates – e.g., accounting, construction, consulting, real estate, retail, transportation – to build your website.

I.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase id est, which means “that is.” You use i.e. as you would use “in other words” or “namely.” It is used to specify or clarify whatever preceded it in the sentence. For that reason it is often used after a technical term or jargon that may not be widely understood.

  • We’re focused entirely on the end users, i.e., parents and their kids.
  • Unfortunately, a radical redesign (i.e., starting from scratch) was required.

As you may have noticed, both e.g. and i.e. have periods following each letter and are lowercase unless starting a sentence. They are followed by a comma, and will have some punctuation before them to set them apart from the sentence: often parentheses, dashes, or commas.

Grammar Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website

Good grammar tips to help your website stand out.Happy National Grammar Day!

What, March 4 wasn’t circled on your calendar? Grammar isn’t typically on the tip of your tongue (or tip of your fingers while tapping that keyboard)?

Not to worry.

We’ll help you celebrate by passing along some tips to help you avoid making the most common grammar mistakes on your business website.

Good grammar, of course, won’t necessarily transform a website from ineffective to effective, but bad grammar can cause some potential customers to have doubts about your business.

Grammar is one part of the overall impression your website makes that leads to people trusting you enough to do business with you – or not. Sloppy grammar may brand you as unprofessional or unreliable.

Keep in mind, your number one goal when writing your web pages is not to slavishly uphold some style guide or grammar book. It’s to promote your business, engage your audience, and, ultimately, sell stuff.

So, you have permission to Think Different (no –ly required) if you feel it’s best to promote your business that way.

And here are 3 grammar rules we’d even encourage you to break.

Now, on to some grammar tips you should pay attention to. We’ll start with a list of the words people most commonly mix up.

WHICH WORD SHOULD YOU USE?

Spell check sometimes works, but it can’t save you from using wrong word (if you spell the wrong word correctly). The most common problems include:

* Their vs. There vs. They’re

They’re is a contraction for they are. So, if you try saying they are in your sentence and it makes sense, use they’re. Examples: “They’re the best offers we’ve had this year.” “They’re offered for a limited time only.”

Their is a possessive pronoun, meaning belonging to them. Examples: “Their reliability is their number one advantage.”

There is a little harder to define, but if you are referring to any locations or places, there it is. Also, if you are going to use are, there should be your choice. Examples: “There are no strings attached.” “There are two ways to enter the contest.”

* Your vs. You’re

Like they’re, you’re is a contraction. It’s a shortening of you are. So, if you can substitute you are, use you’re. Otherwise use your. Examples: “This is our biggest discount, so you’re in luck.” “You’re our number-one priority.”

Like their, your is a possessive pronoun, meaning belonging to you. Examples: “We appreciate your business.” “Our main goal is to build your trust.”

* Its vs. It’s

Like they’re and you’re, it’s is a contraction. It’s a shortening of it is. So, if you can substitute it is, use it’s. Otherwise use its. Examples: “It’s our biggest sale of the year.” “It’s no problem.”

Like their and your, its is a possessive pronoun, meaning belonging to something. Examples: “Good grammar has its challenges.” “Its power is its main selling point.”

* Then vs. Than

Then is used in a lot more ways than than, so it’s best to check if than makes sense first. As in the previous sentence, than is used to compare things: bigger than, less than, more reliable than, faster than, cheaper than.

Then often relates to time or sequence. Examples: “First do this, then that.” “If you’re still having trouble, then you need to restart your computer.”

* Less vs. Fewer

This one is actually pretty simple but you hear it incorrectly so often you may have problems hearing it yourself.

Because more and less are paired so frequently (as in the expressions “less is more” and “more or less”) people often use less when fewer is the right choice.

Right: “We need more signal, less noise.”
Right: “We have more choices, but fewer good ones.”

Fewer is used when you can count what you are talking about (above, you can’t count noise, but you can count choices). If you could add a number to the sentence, use fewer.

Examples: “Fewer people attended the second webinar.” “Fewer people clicked on the About link.” “We have fewer spots available this year.”

Less is used when you couldn’t use a number, as in the famous Miller Light slogan “Great taste. Less filling.” Filling is not something you can count and you wouldn’t say the beer was “five less filling.”

One confusing situation is money. Yes, you can count money, but it’s correct to say “less money” not “fewer money,” because when money is used as a general term, you can’t use a number with it. While you could say you had “100 dollars,” you wouldn’t say you had “100 money.”

For the same reason, less will be also used for all abstract concepts and feelings, such as less time, less stress, or less risk.

* To vs. Two vs. Too

Most people know the difference between these, but are so used to writing to, they use it when they should be using two (the number) or too (meaning also or excessive). So you just need to double-check when you are proofreading (you do proofread, right?) your website.

Here’s one sentence using all three: “I only need two things; don’t send too much to me.”

* Effect vs. Affect

These two are trickier for people to keep track of. Most often, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

To affect something is to change it or have some influence on it: “My desire to have a great website affected my decision to hire a professional web designer.”

An effect is something that is caused, as in the phrase cause and effect. Examples: “My new website has had many positive effects on my business.” “I stopped advertising last month, and the effect was worse than I thought.”

Complicating matters, effect is sometimes used as a verb, meaning to bring about or cause something. It’s often used in this way in the expression to effect change: “The CEO’s desire to effect change in the organization led him to merge sales and marketing.”

* Lead vs. Led

The confusion for many is that lead is pronounced two ways: LEED (long e sound, when referring to leadership) and LED (short e sound, when referring to the metal traditionally used in pipes).

The past tense of the verb to lead, is led. Examples: “The CEO led the company for six years.” “I led the project to a successful conclusion.”  “A great leader leads by example, and Tom led his team that way each and every day.”

* Choose vs. Chose, Lose vs. Loose

Choose is the present tense verb meaning to make a choice, to select or decide. Chose is simply the past tense: “It was hard to choose, but I chose the more expensive option.”

While that’s simple enough, people often get confused because loose looks like choose but lose is the verb that actually rhymes with the verb choose. Example: “If you don’t choose, you lose.”

Lose is the present tense verb meaning to be deprived or cease to have something. The past tense is lost.

Loose is unrelated to lose; it means the opposite of tight, not firm or fixed.

So, make sure you do not write: “Act now or you’ll loose this opportunity to save.” If you do, your loose command of grammar may make you lose customers.

We’ll follow up next week with more grammar tips to keep your website in tip top shape.

Once again, have a happy Grammar Day. (But don’t go too crazy.)

 

AdWords Made Simple: Creating Ad Groups & Writing Text Ads in Google AdWords

To help you start the New Year with more traffic to your business website we’re showing you how to get started with Google AdWords. Last week’s AdWords post covered:

  • signing in to AdWords for the first time
  • setting your time zone and currency
    preferences
  • selecting all your AdWords campaign preferences

How to write your first Google AdWords ad

Today we’ll cover the next couple of steps in the process:

  • creating your first ad group
  • writing  your first AdWords PPC ad

We’ll assume that you chose Search Network only in your AdWords campaign preferences since that’s the simplest and most common choice.

Creating an Ad Group

Ad groups are just what they sound like: groups of ads, plus related keywords. It is simplest and most effective if you start by creating one ad ground for one product or service rather than trying to sell many products from one ad group. Trust me. All you need to do is enter a name for your Ad Group #1. Don’t go crazy. Make it clear, concise and descriptive so you’ll be able to easily tell what that group is for later when you have many other ad groups.

Writing Your First Ad

I’m sure you’ve seen them when searching on Google, but you may not have paid close attention to the structure of AdWords ads. You may actually want to pause here and go do a search and look at the ads in the results. Better still, do a few searches using the same kinds of keywords you think you’ll be using in your campaign. That way, you’ll not only get familiar with the structure of the ads, but you’ll get an idea of your competition and what they are saying. Google AdWords ads have a very specific format with rigid rules, but don’t worry, they’re pretty easy to create. You can’t really get it wrong since Google will stop you from writing too much and warn you if you make other mistakes.

You will need to fill in 5 fields to create your AdWords ad (see the screenshot above):

  1. Headline (up to 25 characters long)
  2. Description line 1 (up to 35 characters)
  3. Description line 2 (up to 35 characters)
  4. Display URL (up to 35 characters)
  5. Destination URL (not shown;  it is the actual URL you are sending people who click to)

Headline Tips: Though you may be limited based on the length of your business name or product name, a common AdWords headline tactic is to use Keyword(s) + Brand/Business name or Keyword + Deal/Offer. I just did a search for 3D glasses (my daughter said she wanted them) and I many ad headlines that fit this model: 3D Glasses at Walmart, Glasses 3D at Amazon, 3D Glasses for Less, and 3d-glasses on eBay. Including your keywords in the headline is typically very important. If you don’t, searchers may glance at your ad and assume it isn’t really relevant. Plus, keywords get bolded by Google in the ads, making them stand out.

Description Tips: There are too many strategies for all the different possible products to list here, but you will typically want to include prices, discounts, offers and promotions if possible. Include some reason to select YOUR ad/website over all the competition, and a strong call-to-action: buy now, save 25% today, call to order, etc. You may also wish to include your keyword a second time (or a variation of what you used in your Headline); again, keywords get bolded in search results, so including them in your description can help attract attention.

Display URL Tips: The display URL needs to show people what website they’ll be going to, but you can show a shortened, customized URL that’s not the complete URL of the landing page. Let’s assume I want to promote 3D Glasses on my fictional TomsTechGoods.com website. I can’t show www.3dGlassesOnSale.com as my destination URL (since that’s not the website I’m actually sending traffic to), but I can use TomsTechGoods.com/3D-Glasses or TomsTechGoods.com/3d-Glasses-Sale even if the actual landing page URL is www.tomstechgoods.com/products/tv/hi-def/accessories/glasses/3dglasses. Some big, well-known brands will simply show their homepage URL (www.Amazon.com) as the Display URL, but most others will add either keywords or some offer-related text to the URL to make the URL look more relevant and compelling.

I also want to leave you with two important general tips for writing and running your AdWords ads:

  • Match the Landing Page: Make sure you are promoting the same products with the same offers in your AdWords ad copy and the landing page you are sending your search traffic to. If your AdWords copy says Save 30% on Samsung 3D Glasses than anyone who clicks on your ad should see Samsung 3D glasses on sale for 30% off. And make sure you use the exact keywords whenever possible. It’s not as effective, for example, to advertise about 3D glasses and then use the term 3D eyewear on your landing page, even if it means the same thing.
  • Test, Test, Test: One of the great things about Google AdWords is that you don’t have to have all the answers right away. Don’t worry that your very first ad isn’t the best possible ad. You can (and should!) test to see what works and to constantly improve your results. Simply write a few different ads where you vary the language you use. Vary the headlines, description, and display URL and see which one gets the most clicks. You might want to test putting an offer in the headline vs. in the CTA in your description. Or highlight different benefits of ordering from you. Let the ads run long enough to see that one is the clear winner and then pause the others. Then you can write another new ad to see if you can beat the first one.

Here are some additional tips for creating successful text ads from Google.

Next week we’ll cover AdWords keyword selection.