Friday, 2 December 2011

Understanding search engines

If you ask 100 businesses what they would like if they could have 3 things for their website, you're almost guaranteed to have 'higher listing in google and other search engines' as an answer for every one. And why wouldn't it be? Research1 clearly shows that the higher your listing (on a relevant search), the more clicks you will get, which is no surprise to most internet users. (Who ever clicks past the second or third page of results?)

The natural result is that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a hot topic, and one that many companies sink thousands of dollars every day into ensuring their lofty placement. While that may be an option for a national or international chain with millions in marketing revenue, it's not usually an option for local one-off stores or family businesses.

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution (if there was then it would be widely known and shared, not to mention abused). If you go backwards to the source, however, it's a little easier to track back how the search engines determine listings, and give some helpful insight into the ways you can improve your own ranking.

What is the purpose of a search engine?

Basically, a search engine attempts to unite a searcher for an answer. The less accurate the results, the more frustrated a user gets, and ultimately they look for another provider, so its in the best interest for a search engine to determine an algorithm that takes many pieces of information to determine how 'relevant' a site is for a given search, and for a given searcher.

How does a search engine work out the 'right' answer?

This is the million dollar question. Most modern search engines work on a concept of relevancy. What web page is most relevant to the words or phrase used in the search, and which of those are most relevant to the person searching? There are a few ways to look at how that's determined.

1. You need to remember that a search engine works mathematically, not with reason, so the relevant results are going to be tied directly with specific words, and the words they are commonly associated with.

2. Think how a searcher thinks. This may seem obvious, but it can often help to use the exact tense, verbiage or even spelling in your optimisation based on who you want to target.
2a. A wedding cake maker may tend to use phrases like 'wedding cake varieties' where they may be better targeting a phrase like 'wedding cake ideas'.
2b. If you're targeting a global market, you may want to use American spelling on some key words so that you're not overlooked by that market.
2c. Use a tool such as Google Insights to see how many people are actually searching for the things YOU think are relevant.

3. What do other 'important' websites say about your website? It's important to know the major directory websites for your industry and make sure you get listed. The more detailed the listing, the better. Generally directories are very high on search engine results, so getting a link in them is essentially a recommendation for you. Better still, because the majority of the directory is very keyword specific, so every listing they add makes your listing more valuable.
Although it's less common these days, link swapping can be an effective way to get your site linked on a site with similar keywords to your own. Just make sure your link is filled with keywords that match both your site and the host site, and with your reciprocal link, make sure you're not going to be promoting a questionable business or one that could leech business off you. Also make it a point to periodically check to make sure they still have your link, and if you want to maintain the agreement.

4. What does YOUR website say? How do you say it? How much do you say it? The content within your domain says it all. Make sure search engine robots can actually read your content (they cant read images and have difficulty reading the content within flash). Make sure you use words that your customers use. Make sure you include specific model numbers for people looking for alternate sources to purchase a specific product. If your business specialises in one area, make sure you use many different words and phrases when talking about your product or service. Also consider anti-keywords using a phrase like 'alternate to productX' or even 'we don't offer the cheap productX because of poor quality'. You can already see how you might snag a few people looking for productX.


5. Personalised Results. This may surprise some people, but with the introduction of a google accounts, Google now builds a profile of every (logged in) user that completes a search. Now with the introduction of Google+, it now cross-references the sites you like, with the sites that your  'circles' (people you know or have some association with) like - it's like a friend has given their recommendation within your search results.


D.I.Y. SEO - 5 Easy things you can do to boost your listing

Here's a list of tips and tricks you can do (quite easily for the most part) to help yourself.

1. Make a list of 20 key words / phrases that you want to use that cover your entire site. Make a top 10 from that list and separate it from the ones that relate specific to a product or service that you will cover in more detail on your site, and the ones that are more general. The 10 words you use here should be used on every page of the site where possible.

2. Go through your site and list every page. Then write out a list of 10 key words that are specific or most relevant to that page, and try to incorporate those words or phrases at least twice on the page. If you can, try to get some of the most important ones into a headline.

3. Create a site map page. This is basically just a page of links to all of the pages in your site. It can also help if you add a short description of each page along with the link, again including some of the page-specific keywords from #2. Make sure there is a text-link to the site map page from somewhere on your page. Usually it's located in the footer with any copyright or legal notices.

4. Make sure your images all have ALT tags and you use them to describe the image. Search engines like it when you do that and you can also slide in a few extra keywords. Adding a tag for every image also shows Google that you built your site correctly.

5. Add content regularly. Google LOVES active websites. The more you can update your site with relevant content, the more frequently your site will be indexed. Google must figure that if you're putting in the effort to update it, that it must be more valuable than a site that sits stagnant. Plus, every now piece of content will either strengthen your existing keywords or add some supplemental ones.

Too much to take everything in?

Feel free to talk to us about ways we can help you to help yourself. At Digerati, we're not just here to sell you a new site every time you talk to us, we want you to get the most out of your investment. Talk to us today.

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Related Articles:
See also Meta what? & Living content



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Websites for your soul

The need for a business website in today's market is crucial, but most people don't know how easy it is to set up a website for your own interests. As personal blogs & hobby-sites are becoming more and more popular, people are searching for great ways to get their content online - that's where we can help.

Although Digerati have built a corporate-strength content management back end (myCMS), its simple interface and flexible editing options make it great for personal projects too. Don't get worried about spending 'corporate website' rates on your personal site - we can also scale projects back to fit most budgets.

Whether you're interested in a 1-page site to let the world know about your collection of model cars, or a full blown online ordering system for selling your unique baked goods, we can put together a great package that will take your hobby to the next level.

Here's a list of ideas for your hobby site;
  • Keep a catalogue of your collection and wish list items (we can even restrict access if you want).
  • Sell produce or food goods that you make on the weekend.
  • Advertise times & schedules for your team games or meetings.
  • Create an online site for more information for a wedding or special event.
  • Create a website for more information on a property you're selling - and even have a mobile version that people can visit from their phone using a QR code posted at the property (or on print listings)
  • Keep a journal of your holiday or research trip & use it to keep friends and family back home up to date with your progress.
  • Post your family recipes up on a site and allow other people to submit theirs.
  • Create a fan site for your favorite team, band or celebrity.
  • Create a forum for people facing similar health concerns to collaborate and chat about treatments & experiences.
  • Advertise your freelance photography or artistic services & show examples of your work.
  • Take online RSVP's for your party.
  • Create an online resume to impress a potential employer.
  • Keep a private journal of your pregnancy, or treatment that only friends and family can access.
Here's some ideas for some short-term or small support sites for businesses; 
  • Run a promotion for people to enter their details (and join your mailing list) for the chance to win a prize.
  • Run your work football tipping competition with staff & clients on your own branded site.
  • Hold annual awards for staff & clients and keep a public record of the achievements & milestones.
  • Create an event-specific site for clients to get all their information in one place. It can be more helpful than finding it hidden within your company website. An example may be for an accountant to set up an 'end of financial year' site with checklists and forms that need to be completed.
  • Create an external blog site which can be used to stuff keywords and links for SEO optimization.
  • Create a 'secret site' that can only be accessed via a mobile device taking a photo of a QR code. The site may have a special offer or coupon that the user can show on their phone. 
No matter what your project or idea, come and chat with us and we can help bring it to life.




Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The start of an era. A salute to Steve Jobs.

A visionary like former Apple Inc. executive Steve Jobs only comes along once in a blue moon. A mind so fertile with ideas, that dozens of products he invented & developed changed the way we interact, work & live today. And although his legacy will live on, I'm sure he would expect that his brand wouldn't die once the pieces currently in development hit the market.

While the world remembers the legacy of a genius inventor, marketer and strategist, there's some aspects of Mr Jobs' life that are worth remembering. Ideals that he lived by, and certainly ones that we could do well to mimic in our own lives and businesses.

"The broader one's understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have."

"We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."

"I used to say that Apple should be the Sony of this business, but in reality, I think Apple should be the Apple of this business."

"innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem."

"Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works."

"My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time."

"Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations."

"Things don't have to change the world to be important."

From the quotes above, you can see that Steve was a man of confidence and vision. He didn't care what other people were doing or achieving - rather - creating the next thing that was going to make people's lives easier. Looking for a need, and solving it. He didn't sit around holding group meetings asking people what they thought of something - he created the solution for problems that most people didn't even know existed.

I titled this blog the start rather than the end of an era because Steve's passing hasn't ended a chapter, it's only just beginning. I think more of us need to take initiative and stop trying to just do things the way they've always been done. There's no ground to be broken in a well plowed field so challenge yourself to think outside the box. Who knows, you might just be the start of the next household name.



Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Meta what?

We all want to be found in a search engine when someone searches for something relevant to what we offer. The tricky part is how a search engine determines which site is the most relevant to each individual. In the mid 90's the answer was the use of META tags.

So, what is a META tag? A meta tag is a short piece of information within the code of a website that looked something like this.. meta name="keywords" content="Digerati Solutions, custom website, web page design, Sutherland Shire, Northern Beaches, Web Agency, Web Site Design, myCMS" >

The idea is to provide a snapshot of key page information without a search engine having to actually read the page. As you can imagine, the honesty system only works for so long before people start to realise they can trick the search engines to thinking they're relevant to a specific search when they're not. 'Keyword stuffing' was a very successful practice for a time, but the constant abuse from primarily adult service websites led to an abrupt overhaul in the way search listings were determined.

It is unknown exactly how much weight current-day search engines give to meta tags, but it's small to the point of insignificance when compared to known and listed strategies such as page heading & content keyword density, external links inbound and newer metrics like +1's.

It has also been suggested, that if the listed meta information doesn't match the actual page content, your website may actually be penalised in the search results. This is of more significant concern with website content being frequently updated.

Although it was significant 10 years ago, Digerati no longer recommends the use of search-related meta tags, but we can certainly implement them upon request if its something you would like to self-manage for your own website.

Talk to us today about a custom strategy for maximising the search engine friendliness of your site, and other ways we can build up the external links to your website.



Friday, 29 July 2011

Good things come in small packages

The world of online services is supported by big companies, small offices and freelance operations all over the world. Some with outrageous claims of result guarantees and some with outrageous price tags. So how do you know what your best value for money is going to be?

Well when it comes to website or online application development, bigger isn't necessarily better, and a one-man-show is often unlikely to offer a tailored solution. There is a point at which a web development agency is too small to accommodate a wide variety of clients or solutions, and there's also a point at which your project is too insignificant or time consuming for a profit-driven large agency to focus on your individual needs and work out a custom solution that's not only cost efficient for you but also pushes the envelope beyond a run-of-the-mill product.

In online services, a large agency would probably be classified as one with over 30 staff, but some would argue that 20 employees is larger than 80% of the industry in the western world. Here's a list of areas where they fall short.

Problems with working with a large web development agency:
  • You're paying for their million-dollar office building, latest fancy mac laptops, lavish Christmas party and the owners new yacht. Most employees are paid about the same across the industry, so all that higher premium you're paying is doing little more than lining some investors new pool.
  • They're hamstrung by their bottom-line profit-driven pre-made model that most of the time you'll end up with something that fits into their existing framework.
  • Usually, lots of people are working on the same project which causes problems with missed detail, non-linking of information. Each developer has their own way of building things, and the seams often show at the end.
  • The impressive portfolio is loaded with work that was done by people that no longer work there. Often work is done in collaboration with another large agency so it's hard to know who did what.
  • Your personal desires and attention to detail is often overlooked in light of a deadline and final invoice. Since you're just one of thousands of clients they need to do work for, the quicker you're out the door the quicker they can move onto the next project.
On the other hand, the freelance market is quite a mixed bag of goodies. Like Forrest Gump suggested, You never really know what you're going to get. Sometimes you happen to find a jaded genius who branched out on their own, bust mostly you're finding amateurs that over-promise and under-deliver.

Although the rates they offer are often a fraction of the cost of structured business (due to little or no overhead costs), you're also taking a lot more risk and there's very little you can do if things don;t go the way you thought they would.

Problems working with a freelance web designer/developer (or your next door neighbours kid)
  • Since most of them working from home, it means you usually don't have an office you can drop in to if you need or want to.
  • Legal liability is limited to their personal possessions, and very few freelancers have any kind of professional insurance.
  • Most one-man shows rely on contracted partnerships with other freelancers or agencies meaning that you're not only relying on the freelancer working for you, but their relationship with their contractors.
  • Regardless of what they tell you, very few (we're talking less than 1%) freelancers are good at design AND development. They usually have a strength in one and have passable skills in the other. This means you end up with a good front end or back end, but rarely both (unless the contract to someone who does the other half).
Efficiencies of a small agency

A small web development agency is really the prime place to be in this industry. You have the personnel to create new, dynamic, custom and exciting products for each client, and not rigid enough that you can't change your best practices as needed and improvements across the business happen very quickly.

Clients get to know the people working on their project, so there's a personal service, and chances are high that they will be doing everything they can to make you a satisfied customer (since there's not always another 10 jobs ready move on to like in a large business).

At Digerati, we hand-select staff that are not only experts at what they do, but also love what they do. We hire passionate people that are going to throw themselves 110% into each project, looking for ways to squeeze in a small detail that nobody may notice or take the extra 20 minutes to make something more seamless to the user.

Talk to us today about how we can build a website with you.



Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Forming solid brand extensions

When you buy clothes (among other things), there's often a stigma attached. Having that famous swoosh mark on your chest or some recognised celebrity's name seems to add some level of fashion credibility. If that describes you, then you've bought into the brand.

Designer label clothes aren't necessarily any better in terms of quality than some of the cheaper brands, but the emotions, characterisations & persona of that logo follow that item wherever it goes.

Those qualities are the difference between a billion dollar brand and one that struggles to support itself, but they didn't get there just by being good. They relied on mechanics that extended the brand from the product itself to the consumer - carrying with it the emotional and social implications that are built into the brand.

Brand extensions would include anything that's not inherent in the product itself. Anything that's added as a marketing hook or endorsement. The intent is usually to set the product apart from the crowd.

A unique shop front
http://www.flickr.com/photos/electru/4476459138/sizes/o/in/photostream/


A celebrity endorsement
http://www.theage.com.au/national/fosters-regrets-bingedrinking-boonie-figurine-20091029-hnpd.html


Engaging advertising
http://vimeo.com/23362244

Your staff / representatives
http://www.davidjones.com.au/careers/departments

Unique business cards
http://webdesignerwall.com/trends/80-creative-unique-business-cards


A custom brand-focused website
http://www.m-ms.com




How does this relate to me and my business?

The first step is to define your brand. If you haven't developed a brand or a brand guide, how do you know if you're marketing the right way? If you're developing advertising, what do you use to check that your messaging is in line with the direction and persona of your business? A logo is only the first step to a brand. You need to develop a full brand outline and positioning in order to adequately check back to make sure each piece you create is in line with your core messaging.

Although, price may be a significant consideration for the shop front, advertising & endorsement (unless you personally know a celebrity that would put their face to your brand), there's way around traditional methods and the rest can be achieved with significantly less monetary investment.

The shop front fit-out probably comes down to the type of business you have, as to what is appropriate and impactful to your target audience. Often a fresh coat of paint and a minimal non-cluttered layout is enough to set the right tone for your products to shine.

A celebrity that publicly uses or advocates your product can set an instant public image. Obviously your brand is going to be tied with this person so you want to make sure the background is clean (if that's the image you're trying to portray), and they understand the expected behaviour of the endorsement.

Engaging advertising can be in many forms, but essentially you want to get people talking about it. One person seeing a poster is statistically unlikely to be motivated to action, but if it motivates a conversation in the office kitchen over coffee or with friends at the pub then you've engaged the audience. Even better if you can get media to react - just make sure its the reaction you want.

Do you staff, advocates & representatives dress, speak and conduct themselves in away that extends your brand? Would you be able to determine the persona of your business based on the people that work there? Touch points where a consumer will interact with your business are some of the most important areas to reinforce your brand personality.

Although you can pick up a box of business cards for under $50 these days, what does that really say about who you are and what you have to offer? Unique business cards are things people want to hold onto - like a piece of art. The unusual and interesting sets us apart. The cost comparative to the cheap cards is obviously going to be steep (maybe 25-40 cents per card instead of 4 cents), but what is that contact really worth to you? THe unique aspect may not even be added expense - it may just be a different approach to a regular card. Talk to your designer or printer about what unique options they can offer you.

A custom website is an obvious way of extending your brand, but one that is often not utilised adequately. Just having a website is a great start, and having one that looks nice is even better, but youneed to ask - does your website ooze the personality of your brand? If someone accidentally landed on your site with no knowledge of you, your products or your services - would they be able to capture the emotion, passion & personality that you want to portray as a business? Is it compelling enough for them to then say 'I want that for myself'. If not, you're selling yourself short.

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Talk to your local Digerati team in the Sutherland Shire or Northern Beaches today to see how we can work together to make your website an appropriate extension of your brand.



Sunday, 1 May 2011

D.I.Y. Website Reality

One of the greatest claims of the world wide web is the multitude of free services. Some have changed our lives like free email (Hotmail, Yahoo & Gmail), free communications (Skype & MSN Messenger) and free social interaction platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare & LinkedIn). Naturally, the internet is the place where you can make your business reach thousands of people for a fraction the cost of traditional means - but is a free online website creation service really the best solution?

Lets look at a few of the pro's and cons of a free D.I.Y. website building service.

Pros

1. It's free. Who can argue - that's a pretty darn good pro!
2. You can have a site up and running within minutes.

Cons

1. Little or no direct customer support if you run into problems.
2. No accountability of your site goes offline. (what are they going to do - give your $0 back?)
3. If the company goes under or gets bought out - your site could be gone forever with no notice.
4. Customisation is tedious and difficult if you don't know what you're doing.
5. The time investment required is usually not equivalent to the quality of the end product.

While there are a lot of people that the free service is perfect for, the vast majority of businesses will only ever see minimal results from a D.I.Y. type service. In terms of being online, something is usually better than nothing, but often with these types of sites it's hard to tell.


Why pay when you can get free?

The biggest difference a company like Digerati can bring to the table is a personalised solution. We never use templates, or pre-made sites. Every site we make is designed and coded from scratch. Because we take the time to understand your business and the needs you have, we can design a website that will highlight the key aspects of your business, and guide demographically targeted users to relevant information on your site. We can also build custom tools into the site that will help you manage your visitors, orders, client contacts, stock and even appointments.

You also get personal service. If you have problems updating your site, or you've forgotten a password, a quick call to your local office will have you back up and running within minutes. 

What's holding you back?

Talk to us today for an obligation-free quote. Let us know any concerns you have or an objective you need to reach so that we can work with you to design a solution that makes your life easier and gets you back to doing what you do best.

Talk to your local representative today; Liam (Sutherland Shire & St George) or Ainsley (Northern Beaches) are more than happy to chat with you about your project.




Sunday, 17 April 2011

Your mobile audience

Ever been out buying a bottle of wine but not sure whether it will pair best with fish or chicken? Been driving behind a bus with advertising and couldn't write down the website address? A QR code may have been the difference between your interest and your action.

qrcode QR (Quick Response) codes are a relatively new way of getting more information at the touch of a button. Although it may look like some kind of electrical diagram, the square graphic is a unique patten of 7,089 different squares which make a unique pattern. Smartphone users can view a photo of the code and it will send the user to a defined website or show some relevant text information.

Your brain might already be ticking to think of cool ways to use a QR code, and really the uses are unlimited. Some examples that I've personally seen include;
- On a bottle of wine (explains the flavours, pairings & similar wines)
- On food packaging (nutritional info, cooking suggestions)
- On a business card (personal contact information & social feeds)
- On the front window of an office (website, office hours & a coupon)
- On a magazine (directing directly to a subscription page)
- On bus stop advertising (special website made for the campaign)

Having the code set up and on your product is only half of the process. You then need to set up some appropriate content, either as a new page on your existing website or as a separate site built specifically for mobile use.

Related: Digeraticles (Nov 2011) Website In My Pocket
Here's some creative examples of QR code styling: Mashable Creative QR codes

Talk to Digerati Solutions today about setting up some content that's appropriate for marketing with a QR code. It's easy to set up and expands your market outside of traditional engagement methods.



Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Utilising Facebook

If you're not on Facebook you're missing out on the best free advertising in the current market. Facebook is increasingly becoming the common way users interact with their favorite businesses and brands and until recently you had to rely on the inflexible Facebook programming language (FBML) to create custom content. On 11 February this year, Facebook launched a host of changes of which some revolved around the flexibility of the tab page.

As of 11 March, all business and personal pages will be converted to the new layout which actually removes the tabs across the top of the page and replaces them with a streamlined and sleek left side navigation. The best news however is that tab page content can now be pulled in using an iframe.
Iframed tab content is not only a good move on the part of Facebook, but fantastic for businesses looking to get a richer experience for their customers on a platform that most use every day.

Now you may have heard that using iframes are bad for your website, and that's true in almost any other context. They were publicly frowned upon by most of the online community almost 10 years ago however the reasons revolve around usability and scalability. That really hasn't changed, but Facebook offers a static sized platform that works functionally well.

One of the tricks that Facebook allows you to do, is to hide content until a visitor 'likes' you. This isn't a new function by any means, but utilising rich content within the Facebook page gives users some incentive to like you. The upside of doing it that way is that you are now automatically part of your customer's feed.

Some great ways to use the iframe..

1. Create an alternate layout for your product listing that can run off the content in your CMS.
2. Run an online FAQ and/or inquiry form for users to learn more about you.
3. If you have some form of order tracking system, a version of that system would be beneficial.
4. A photo gallery or work portfolio
5. A promotion is a great way to get customers to 'like' you.

With all this great news, there are some limitations.

1. The iframe on the tab page is limited to 520 pixels wide and 800 pixels high (updated - the 800px is a default height but can be overwritten. There are some issues with macs using Chrome at larger sizes though). Similar to a mobile optimised website design, the thin layout means that you really need to consider the content layout and what it most important for a user to see.

2. Content is still governed by the Facebook terms & conditions and the way you interact with your customers still needs to follow their regulations or you could find your account suspended.

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Talk to Digerati today about the rich content we can develop or optimise from your existing site into your facebook page.



Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Marketing to your masses

It can be a tough job to work out the best way to market your products or services to the global audience of the internet. It's much easier to break up your visitors into segments and work out which you want to skew the focus towards.

Unless you have a million-dollar+ website, you're probably only realistically going to effectively market to a small section of internet users. When coming up with your marketing target group, it can be helpful to whittle down your options so that you can focus on the people that are most likely to convert to a client OR a specific market segment that you're currently not hitting and feel you could reach.

Someone famous once said that if you try to please all people, you end up pleasing none. And while that may be the case, you need to be strategic about who you're going to decide is in the group of people that you're not trying to reach.

Outside of the obvious few ways to segment (including geographical, language & physical age), I'm going to show you how you can break up the types of people that arrive at your site by how they arrived there. Watching these types of analytics can be helpful and may just give you some insight into any changes you need to make to your site.

A user will arrive at your website for 1 of 5 reasons..

1. Because they want something they know they can find (Direct User Conversion)
2. Because they want something they think they can find (Secondary User Conversion)
3. Because a search engine told them that the information they want is on your site (Sourced User Conversion)
4. Because they want to see what you have to offer (Cold User Conversion)
5. By mistake (Bounce Conversion)

Lets work from the outside in.

The Bounce Conversion

This refers to a user that arrives at your site and quickly realises that they arrived there by mistake. Either by assuming your site was for a different business, or because a keyword was taken out of context (such as someone landing at 'Ant's Removal Service' instead of a pest control company).
Note that analytics reporting classifies any visitor that spends less than 1 minute on your site (without visiting any other pages) as a bounce. A rate around 20% is quite normal.

Cold User Conversion

These conversions are a mixed bag because there's no defining if they're a motivated buyer or a competitor, or somewhere in between, but you have to treat every one of these as the former.

These users may have seen your URL on your vehicle/banner, decided to visit after seeing your email address or simply mistyped the URL of another site.

This is probably the only group that I wouldn't spend any time trying to market to directly, purely because of the randomness and the fact that every cold conversion visitor will fall into some other category.

Sourced User Conversion

This is a significant group for most websites. Most websites that have been online for over 2 or 3 months should be indexed by at least one search engine and you can be found some way or another.

Depending on how your site was set up, you may be getting a lot of traffic, but you need to really look at your analytics to make some sense of where they're coming from and if they're finding what they wanted.

Two things to look at are the keywords used to access your site, and the bounce rate. If you find that the keywords people are using to find your site aren't actually related to your site, and your bounce rate is above 60%, you know that the content of your site may be highlighting the wrong words. As a result the people arriving at your site are actually looking for something else.

If the keywords are correct, but the bounce rate is high, you may not be highlighting your products correctly, there may not be enough information, your prices aren't competitive or your overall site doesn't look professional or trustworthy enough.

If you are listed but you're not getting any significant search engine traffic at all (regardless of the bounce rate) it is usually due to the inability for the search engine to index your site. If a search engine can;t read your site, it has no idea what content you have or what your site is even about. The most common reason for this is if your site uses flash or graphic text extensively (especially for navigation on your home page). Fixing this may be simple or it may require some design changes. Come and chat with Digerati about what we can do to help you out.

Secondary User Conversion

Generally, Direct & Secondary users will come with a positive expectation that you have what they want - its just up to you to close the deal when they get there. You need to build confidence with the customer so that they trust what you're offering.

The primary example is how most people use search engines. Type in a search phrase, browse through the results and pick the one that looks the closest.

Another example of a secondary user conversion is someone looking to buy a cheap car. They may type cheapcars.com.au into the browser in the hopes of hitting a specialty site. Chances are fairly high that if there's actually a site there, that they will indeed have cheap cars.

For the most part visitors are still only assuming the content, so you still have a little work to do after they arrive at the site.

Direct User Conversion

These visitors are generally repeat business. They've visited your site in the past, and they've decided to come back. You've got them hook line and sinker - now you just have to haul them into the boat. The only thing stopping this user from making the purchase is the product, the price or the process. Make sure you make the shopping cart from viewing the product to making the final purchase is as streamlined as possible and offer a range of payment options.

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Talk to Digerati Solutions today about making the most of your website traffic and optimising your content to allow you to market to some of the segments that you may otherwise miss.



Thursday, 20 January 2011

So you want to make a website?

With the new year comes new initiatives, a new business venture, a personal blog, a new hobby, a new club. These days its a natural progression to set up a website for just about anything.

The tricky part is where you go from here. The following will give you some help when looking for places to go and the right people to help.

There are 3 main considerations when starting a new website. This is called your basic site plan. If you have a solid answer on these 3 things you're in a very good position to move onto sourcing a web service or agency to get you started.

1. Your budget. How much are you willing to spend? (Now and ongoing)
2. Your goal. What do you want your website to achieve?
3. Your workload. How much time do you want to spend working on your site?

Budget

This is usually the factor that determines everything else. For most people, they won't really have a set figure in mind, they just want something that works without having to spend more than they have to.

Unfortunately there's no easy answer to guide you. There are solutions to fit almost any budget, but going too low may mean that you have to re-evaluate the results you want to see and how much manual work you have to do to get there.

Your goal

Defining the goal of your site is arguably the key to a successful project. Setting the reason for having your site and key performance indicators (KPI's) will not only allow you to build towards a fixed goal, but give you a way of means of measuring the success of your project.

Your workload

For those of you looking for a budget solution, you may find yourself doing a lot of manual work, where those with more funds may be able to develop tools that automate some of the more repetitive tasks. If you are time-poor you may want to consider extending your budget a little to incorporate some time-saving tools. This may also take into consideration your level of skill and knowledge of web software & languages.

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Once you have your basic site plan in hand it's time to work out where to go next. There's literally hundreds of options out there, but here's the main three that should cover most projects.

1. Free online tools
2. DIY Development
3. Freelancer or Web Agency

Free online tools

There's some great tools out there that let you put together a great site for next to no money. If you have little or no budget, this is really your only option. Sites like Wordpress (Wordpress.com) offer a free service that lets you get up and running relatively quickly but you'll be limited to pre-made templates unless you have some knowledge of building a website.

If a blog is going to be sufficient and you want to look outside of Wordpress, you might also want to check out Blogger/Blogspot (blogger.com), Livejournal (livejournal.com), Vox (vox.com), Typepad (typepad.com) or Travelpod (travelpod.com).

DIY Development

There are a few software titles out there that make setting up your own custom site relatively simple, but require a lot of manual work to set up and maintain. While you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to design and layout, functionality is somewhat limited and you're restricted to making updates from that computer only.

If this is something you're interested in, you should check out Adobe Dreamweaver or Adobe Flash Catalyst if you want something a little fancier.

Freelancer or Web Agency

If you want your own custom website and don't have the know-how or time to do it yourself you're going to have to look for a web developer of some kind to help you out. Here's what to look out for.

Freelancer

Everyone has a nephew, neighbour or your secretary's second cousin who 'knows how to make websites'. These along with individuals working alone are known as freelancers. Freelance designers or developers often have a limited range of skills (usually either design OR developing), and very few have a solid understanding of both (regardless of what they tell you).

Most freelancers will have connections with other freelancers to partner with as needed. The risk here is that the ongoing support of your site relies on the relationships of your contact, and chances are, they wont be able to fix it themselves if something does go awry.

Since the majority of freelancers work from their home (or other place of work), they have few overhead costs and can charge low rates as a result. The question you need to ask yourself is if the money you're (possibly) saving initially is worth the risk of poor quality work, reduced accountability, limited technical knowledge of all aspects, loose deadlines and the chance of not being able to make changes in the future.

Web Agency

An agency is any group of 2 or more people working under the same business name, and covers small niche service agencies to fully serviced web development teams.

The advantage of the agency is that you usually have the skills of usability, designing, developing and sometimes marketing all collaboratively working together on your project. This means that there are fewer hand-off issues, a single point of reference for development and changes, immediate problem and question support and the solid base of a registered business for accountability.

Digerati Solutions is a full-service web agency (based in the Sutherland Shire and Northern Beaches) - meaning that all design, planning, architecture, development, coding, hosting and support are all provided by our internal team of professionals. We don't have our programmers designing sites and we don't have our designers working on making upgrades to our servers. The team is comprised of specialists in each field so that we can bring the very best skills to each project, and as a result can offer the right strategy for both the small business looking for a low-budget solution or the large corporate looking to build a reliable integral internal system.

Agency rates will vary significantly, but you want to look for a provider that is flexible enough to put together an appropriate solution at almost any price point. You may need to trade in some of the bells and whistles for a low-budget solution, but the fact that the agency is willing to find a solution that could work shows that they care about their service and you the client.

Contacting Digerati is a great first step when thinking about a new website or refurbishing what you currently have. You'll be surprised at how affordable it is. There are no silly questions and there's no problem to big or small for them to handle.