12 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Website

Sirius-Media_2004_water_400

Sirius-Media.com in 2004.

Every business has to start somewhere.

You get going with what you can afford and, unless you’re a startup with angel investors, you make do until there’s some money actually coming in. Once business starts rolling along, it’s easy to forget about the website that got you launched.

Often, your first website is pretty basic. Maybe there wasn’t a budget to put it together, or a design student did it for peanuts, or a free website builder was used. Your site works, and may even look okay, but traffic has stalled. It’s time for a change.

It’s time to consider a new website if…

  1. It’s been more than 3 years since you redesigned.
  2. Your website uses Flash animations. Adobe’s animation darling is quickly becoming a faded flower.
  3. The site is difficult to maintain, which results in outdated, missing, or incorrect content. Out of date content detracts from your search ranking.
  4. It’s not friendly to mobile devices such as tablets or smart phones.
  5. Your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate. This is a feature modern browsers require and it’s a help with search optimization, too.
  6. Website doesn’t match current marketing campaigns. Branding consistency is so important. If your site doesn’t showcase your new logo, use your colors or displays an old tagline, then it’s working against you, 24/7.
  7. You’re not collecting new email contacts for marketing. Take advantage of email marketing by growing your email list.
  8. Feeling insecure? Hacking and malware attacks are omnipresent. If your site is running the latest security package, it’s vulnerable to the bad guys.
  9. Social share buttons are missing, or connections to your social media pages are absent.
  10. Your content is out of date. Google looks for content that has been updated or is new. Adding video, slideshows or podcasts are great ways to increase online engagement and dynamically tell your business’s story.
  11. Business contact info, hours or location is hard to find, or the contact page is missing. Hidden contact information is lost business. Make sure your phone, email, office location and business hours are clear and easy to find.
  12. Site traffic is not being measured with Google Analytics. It’s free, easy to install and a must for monitoring any website health.

Recently, the venerable community blog Metafilter redesigned after getting feedback from Google that their decade old site design made the content look out of date and unreliable. Website design can affect not just your branding, but also the perception of reliability, and search engine visibility. Even Google likes to see something new now and then.

Sirius-Media.com in 2008If your website meets 3 or more of the above criteria, it’s time to consider an upgrade.

Sirius Media is an expert in guiding clients through the upgrade process. We know what is working for businesses like yours, can recommend restyles that work on all devices, provide graphic design services, advise on SEO decisions, and install the analytics tools to monitor your site and measure success.

With a fresh new website built on the popular and robust WordPress platform, you’ll be able to easily take over site updates while being ready to do site improvements and upgrades in the future.

Take your business website to the next level. Get Sirius today!

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Watch for These Email Red Flags!

Red Skull and CrossbonesA client just forwarded an email they’d gotten about helping with search optimization and asked me if I thought they should try it.

At first glance it seemed legit. The copy was well written and it brought up some real issues about content and search visibility. But looking more closely I saw many red flags indicating, if not fraud, at least shady business practices.

  1. The originating email name was not same as the person who signed the email.
  2. The originating email was from a gmail (or other generic, free) account, not a email address from the company’s domain name.
  3. Cost of the service was not mentioned, although they specifically stated “No Contract” and “No Setup Fee”. Be assured there IS a cost involved and it is most likely significant.
  4. The company and/or domain name was not listed in the email.
  5. There was no website listed to investigate the firm.

Working with someone like this would be akin to accepting an offer from a stranger on a street corner whispering “Need someone to fix your SEO?” or “I can get you top ranking on Google!”

Don’t be sucked in to the scam. There are many legitimate SEO vendors out there, and you can check to see what they have to offer by reviewing their website. They can definitely make a difference in your search ranking.

Sirius Media is happy to offer suggestions, just ask!

15 Ways to Build Web Traffic Without SEO

Distance from PortlandWhen business owners think about ways to increase website traffic, they generally know that search engine optimization and strong keywords strategies are essential.

Search rank is important and very competitive.  But it can be very expensive to optimize or advertiser your way to top placement on the search page.

But Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook  aren’t the only ways people find our websites. It is easy to overlook some of the more traditional non-SEO approaches that are very powerful strategies in building site traffic. And when your site traffic goes up, so does your search ranking because sites with more traffic get higher SEO scores. So why not get busy and try a few of these each month to keep the attention on yourwebsite.com.

All of these techniques can be boiled down to one key strategy: advertising — you need to market your website just like you’d market a product. Even with great SEO, you can’t just put a website up and expect it to rise like cream to the top of the search page.

If you don’t tell people that you have a website and why they should visit it, they won’t know.
Here are some ways to do it.

  1. Be your own website evangelist. Tell people about it every chance you get. If you refer to your website often, others will learn to do so to. Be proud of your website and it’s content. If you aren’t, then build  a website you can be proud of.
  2. Use your domain name in your email. Every time you give out your email address, you’re telling others ‘where you live’ on the web. It’s a marketing opportunity too good to pass up. Use a forwarding email if you really don’t want to give up that aol, hotmail or gmail address, but always use yourname@yourwebsite.com
  3. Take out a print ad: magazines, newspapers, yellow pages, theater programs, school or neighborhood newsletters that features your website address prominently. Advertise new content, new sections, or promotions on the website.
  4. Print colorful postcards to leave in coffee shops. Include QR to your website with a promotional offer.
  5. Send email newsletters using an email vendor. Include short pieces of teaser or promo info then link back to the website for the full story. The best way to increase site traffic is to send regular useful email newsletters that link back to your website. Make a publishing plan in advance to keep your schedule regular.
  6. Post signs in your bricks and mortar shop with a QR code for an offer on the website.
  7. Get mentioned in the media — interviews, guest articles, photos or video clips on the news are golden. Always mention or include your web url when you’re being interviewed.
  8. Sponsor an event or benefit where you can distribute promotional materials. Look for ways to provide inkind sponsorship by providing services, prizes or supplies.
  9. Buy radio ads. Build brand recognition through ads or sponsorship of public radio.
  10. Post your job openings. If you have jobs, people will want to know and be checking back often. Jobs are one of the content areas that is a very strong draw.
    Mention the web url in any help wanted ads.
  11. Get fun stickers or rubber stamps with your web url and put them on shopping bags.
  12. Put your url on promotional items and pass them out  — bookmarks, tshirts, coasters, emery boards.
  13. Print marketing materials — brochures, letterhead, biz cards, rack cards, flyers.
  14. Blog or comment on other sites and include a link to your website.
  15. Send a custom greeting card via mail with a QR link in it. See SendoutCards to see some creative options!

A List Apart: Articles: Get Ready for HTML 5

With support in Chrome, Firefox 3.5, Opera, and Safari, HTML 5 is coming at you like a runaway train. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare to get on board rather than be left at the platform or tied to the tracks.

via A List Apart: Articles: Get Ready for HTML 5.

Just when we thought the dust had settled in the move to accept XHTML as the standard for clean, compliant code, up pops HTML 5. I have been curious about the new tags and how to use them, so this article from A List Apart is very handy in outlining the differences and offering suggestions on experiments to try on your own.

10 Simple Steps to Search Engine Success

It’s a great feeling when you finally see your new website online. You send an email to your family and friends, maybe even do some print marketing or a press release about the new site.

Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the world to find you… among the other billions of websites out there. How do you reach the many potential web visitors who have never heard of you? By using the power of search engines.

A search for your website by name on Google is one way to measure how well your site is being recognized, but it actually just measures how effective your business name is as a search term.

The key to attracting new visitors is to have your website show up when people don’t search for it by name. When the your site is optimized for search engines, your website will appear when searches are made that include words about what you do, where you are, skills you offer, professional jargon, descriptive phrases and slang terms. These terms are called keywords.

Start collecting a list of keywords for your business and add to it as you go along. Look for opportunities to use keywords on your website as often as possible.

Search engine optimization has evolved into a science of its own, with formulas and strategies unique to the specialty. Consultants and specialists abound. But you can get your website off to a good start by following these 10 basic rules.

  1. Review site statistics to find the keywords people use to find your site and build on them.
  2. Be consistent – navigation names should match destination page headlines. Page titles should match page headlines as well.
  3. Use alt tags to describe each image. This also meets accessibility requirements.
  4. Use a title on each link that describes the destination page.
  5. Include keywords in links, titles and copy
  6. Include misspellings of all keywords, terms and names. Allow for sloppy typing.
  7. Link between pages in the website
  8. Link to other websites about the topic
  9. Provide a site map (Google loves them)
  10. Update content frequently.

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