I am writing this article in response to a recent conversation I had with a client while assisting her with redesigning her website. My client, who I will call Mary, said that she was frustrated and confused by all the web design jargon which made it difficult for her to make decisions about how to proceed with her website. As a marketing and communications specialist, I definitely understood her feelings and felt badly that she had this experience despite my best efforts to explain the technical requirements necessary for her website. Thus, for those of you who are distressed by web developers who speak in technical jargon, below are some common web terms that should help you decipher the specialized web jargon.

Accessibility. This is the ability of a website to be used by people with disabilities, including visually impaired visitors using screen readers, hearing impaired visitors using no sound, color blind people, or those with other disabilities. 

AJAX. Stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is typically used for creating dynamic web applications and allows for asynchronous data retrieval without having to reload the page.

Backend. This is the part of the website infrastructure that is not seen by web visitors and includes your websites applications and databases.  Thus, the term frontends refers to everything that you see when you’re navigating around the Internet, from fonts and colors to dropdown menus and sliders.

Backlink. Backlinks are links from other sites back to your own. They’re sometimes referred to as “trackbacks” (especially on blogs). Backlinks have a huge impact on your sites search rankings. Lots of backlinks from high-ranking sites can greatly improve your search engine results.

Bad Neighborhood. A “bad neighborhood” refers to a site hosted on a server that hosts other sites that spam or use questionable SEO practices that can penalize your sites search engine rankings.

Bandwidth. Bandwidth can refer to either the rate at which data can be transferred or the total amount of data allowed to be transferred from a web host during a given month before overage charges are applied. It is generally referred to in term of bits-per-second (bps), kilobits per second (kbs), or other metric measurements. Lower bandwidth internet connections (such as dial-up) mean data loads slower than with high bandwidth connections (like cable or fiber).

Below the Fold. This term is a carry-over from newspaper publishing days. In web design terms, “below the fold” refers to the content that is generally below the point first viewable to the average website visitor in their browser.

Bounce Rate. A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. A high bounce rate, can indicate a confusing site navigation, or poor site content.

Breadcrumb. Breadcrumbs generally appear near the top of a given web page that show you the pages and subpages the appear before the page you’re on. For examples, on a blog, the breadcrumbs might look something like: Home > Category > Year > Month > Post (or they might be a lot simpler that that).

Browser. A Browser or most commonly referred to as web browser refers to the program used by a web visitor to view any web site. Popular browsers include: Firefox, Safarii Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.

Cache. Cached files are those that are saved or copied (downloaded) by a web browser so that the next time that user visits the site, the page loads faster. If you are experiencing problems viewing a website, you may need to clear your cache (or web browser history).

Cascading Style Sheets. Also referred to as CSS are used to define the look and feel of a web site outside of using HTML. There are many benefits to using CSS, but probably the most important is the ability to completely change the style of a site by changing just one file, without having to make changes to content.

Content Management System. Also known as a CMS is a backend tool for managing a site’s content separately from the site’s design and functionality. Using a CMS (usually) makes it easier for content to be added to the site for people who aren’t web developers or designers.

DNS. Stands for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). Basically, it’s the thing that converts an individual website address (IP) into domain names. 

Header. A website header sits at the top of each page and serves a few very important purposes. This does more than provide a place for your logo; it is part of a consistent user experience that all good websites share. The design of a header may differ from site to site, but the core features that determine how a site is navigated and experienced remains the same.

Navigation. This is the part of a website that allows the user to move between screens/pages of a website. Site navigation can be lateral, forward or reverse.

Still confused or have a question about developing your website or using digital marketing the most effectively to promote your website, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I would be happy to answer your question.

 

If you are a small business owner managing your own marketing and advertising campaigns, you know it is no easy task.  The good news is that there are a few things you can to do make the job easier and improve your results.

The first is to take the time to create a marketing plan. Think of it as a roadmap to helping direct you toward the best and most efficient route to reach your goal. Would you take a cross country trip without knowing how and when you will arrive at your final destination?  I hope not.

Your marketing plan does not have to be a lengthy drawn out document. Its primary purpose is to help you identify your business objectives, company strengths and weaknesses, competitors, and how you plan to achieve your goals. Additionally, your marketing plan is a critical step toward identifying the types of advertising that would work best.

Once your marketing plan is completed, you need to establish a budget. The old adage, ‘You’ve got to spend money to make money’ is true. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to go into debt to advertise.  There are lots of ways to promote a business on a tight budget. Look at all your options before you make a huge commitment to paid advertising. Don’t forget to budget for in-house promotions, digital marketing (website, social media, etc.), giveaways, collateral materials, as well as paid advertising. You may also want to set aside 5% percent of your overall budget for unforeseen opportunities that may come up in the calendar year.

Before you commit to any marketing campaign, you should know two things: your message/offer and your target audience. For example, if your company is selling hearing aids to seniors, you would do better advertising on local TV, newspapers, and direct mail as opposed to heavily investing in social media. On the other hand, if you are targeting millennials, digital marketing would be a better choice over local TV, radio or newspaper ads.

Once you’ve decided the where, you need to figure out the when. If your business caters to skiers or winter sports enthusiast, you will want to run the bulk of your advertising in the winter and few weeks before your season starts.  Remember, advertising takes time to work so don’t expect instant results.

When advertising be consistent with your message and placement. If you can’t afford to advertise in a particular medium for a minimum of 13 weeks, you should re-evaluate your marketing plan as well as your budget. This is where it may pay to hire a highly skilled and experienced marketing and advertising professional.

In general, advertising is most effective when the message is consistent and the same audience is exposed repeatedly to the message over a period of time. This is known in the industry as “frequency.” Buying a few ads on one radio station for a week, won’t get you much, if any response. The more ads you can run, the better your frequency and chances your prospects will hear and remember your ad. If you're running a direct mail or email campaign, the same principle is true.  Don’t just send one direct mail piece or one email.

Finally, regardless of where and when you advertise, the most important element is your message.  If your message is unclear, no

matter how much you spend on advertising, it will unlikely produce positive results.  Additionally, you should run the same message

across all media. If you are advertising on-air, use the same spokesperson/announcer, and music in your commercials. This will help your ad stand

out and make it easier for your prospects to identify your business and retain your message.  It normally takes at least 7 times for someone to read

or see an ad before they actually retain the marketing message.

Small business owners sometimes put off creating a website because they think they don’t have time to think about it or maintain one. But thanks to DIY platforms, such as Weebly, Wix and SquareSpace, it’s easier than ever to set up and create a small business website.

Prior to digital marketing, it was extremely difficult for a small business to compete with larger competitors who were investing heavily in traditional  advertising including print, radio and TV. Now, the internet is leveling the playing field and small business owners are able to create a website and reach potential customers 24/7, without going deeper in debt. Yet, some start-ups and small businesses are still reluctant to take the leap.

According to 2016 weekly website usage rate, 63 percent of all consumers look for a local business online. So clearly, anyone who doesn’t have a website is missing out on potential new business from those searching for products and services online. Still not convinced?  Just think of a website as today’s version of the yellow pages. Most people use the internet like their predecessors used a phonebook.

CREATING YOUR FIRST WEBSITE

Fortunately, building a website doesn’t cost nearly as much as it did ten, even five years ago, since the availability of DIY web templates offering free or low costs web building software. While these tools are a great first step to producing a website, a custom site may be worth the investment in the long-run.

OUTSOURCING YOUR WEBSITE

Hiring a web developer or marketing agency to create your small business website will definitely cost you more than one you can build yourself, but, a truly customized site will allow you to showcase and elevate your brand so that it look like a million dollar business.

CHOOSING A WEB DESIGNER

Should you decide to hire someone to build your website, be aware that not all companies offer complete web development services. Some companies provide design only, while others may specialize in web programmer, copywriter, and hosting. It’s important when comparing estimates for your first website, that you know how much each of these components will cost. In addition, if your desire is internet domination, you’ll want to budget for search engine optimization (SEO) as well. SEO, when done  properly, increases your website ranking on major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, helping improve the chances that your website will be seen by prospects searching for your products and services online.

Considering how crucial one’s business website is in 2018, this is one the most important investments one can make. That said, once you decide to move forward with creating a website, spend the time to plan out your web content and make sure that your site can be easily updated in-house in order to reduce your future online marketing expenses.

Your website is a crucial part of your overall online marketing strategy to attract and retain customers. "When a potential customer visits your website, they are seeking out information about your business. To convert these prospects into sales, the information on your site needs to build trust in your company and answer their questions about your products or services," says Eva Zielinski, Manta Marketing Pro.

In order to build trust on the web, it is essential that the information on your website is 100 percent accurate and each page of your website expresses your businesses unique benefits and culture.
 
If you do not already have a unique selling proposition or brand message, you may want to ask your employees and customers how they feel about your company. Their thoughts can provide valuable information as you go about writing copy for your website.


If you are not comfortable writing, you may want to hire a copywriter experienced in writing web content. It takes a special knowledge and training to write killer web content as the style of writing is different from other media.
For example, the best website or blog copy provides useful information without wasting the readers’ time with fluff and filler. If you ramble on and on, the reader will lose interest and leave. Furthermore, professional web content writers will also write for search engine optimization which helps improve your websites ranking on major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
 
Keep in mind that those visiting your website are looking for practical advice and pertinent information about your products and services. This includes the basic information such as who, what, where, and when. Your web visitors are want to know, who is providing the products or services; What are the benefits; Where they can find you; and what hours your business is open.
  
Organizing Content

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Design should take a backseat to content. Having the best-looking website in your area is not worth much if your customers can't find the information they want.

When creating your content, keep it organized and concise. There’s nothing worse than having to click through a disorganized mess of a website just to find basic information about your products or services. At a minimum, you should create organized sections that contain an “about” page, product or service details, and a contact page with all the pertinent information including your business location, hours, phone number, email address, and social media links.

Keep It Current

Once your website is launched, make sure your content is updated regularly. There is nothing more frustrating than going to a business location based on the website and finding that you are at the old address. Unlike a broadcast commercial or print ad, the content of a website can literally be changed within minutes. Even if you have to pay someone to update your website, remember, it is an investment in your brand image and reputation.
 
Improve Website Search Ranking
 
For search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, you should update important pages of your website with fresh information so the web crawlers see that you're an active business. If you do not already have a blog, adding one will help keep your content fresh and provide an incentive for web visitors to come back to your site over and over again. You don't have to blog daily. Even once a month will provide the search engines with fresh content that can raise your websites search ranking.

Digital marketing is constantly evolving. While you don't have to makeover your website every year, you should regularly review the design, content, and functionality to ensure accuracy and a great user experience.
 
 

These days it is not enough for a business just to have a website. It is important to market your web address (aka URL), particularly if you are not investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Without SEO, your website is like a needle in a haystack. However, if you plan to invest heavily in traditional advertising to promote your website, SEO may not be part of your digital marketing strategy.  That said, it is critical to determine the goal of your website.  If you are a small business and your website is simply designed to establish your company's credibility, SEO may not be worth your time or money.  However, if you are relying on prospective customers searching the web for your products or services online, you should seriously consider consulting with an SEO specialist to see if your website has been search engine optimized.

Below are three common on-page SEO mistakes to avoid, according to Google.

SEO Mistake #1: Page Titles

The first mistake is not using your webpage Title properly. Your webpage Titles (<title> in the source code of your web pages) tell Google what your pages are about, and they are one of the biggest factors in your Google rankings.

Think of your Titles as chapters of a book.  What if you opened up a book and every single chapter had the same title?  That would be pretty confusing right?  Well, that’s exactly how a lot of websites are set up, and as you can probably see how that could be confusing for Google.

The solution is simple.  Use unique, descriptive Titles for each page that include your target keyword phrases.  For example, if you want your webpage to rank #1 for the search phrase “baby food cookbook,” then the Title of that page should include that exact phrase.  Using your keyword in your Title tells Google your page is relevant for that keyword.

SEO Mistake #2: Page Descriptions

The second most common mistake is not using your webpage description properly. Your Meta Description is the text that shows up below your Title tag in Google’s search results.   Meta Descriptions do not directly influence your site rankings and may be one reason why so many businesses neglect this important element of their web pages. However, a well-written Meta Description can help generate more clicks (and more traffic) from your Google rankings.  What good is a #1 ranking if no one clicks on your listing!
 
Think of your Title and Description together like an advertisement.  The Title is the ad headline and the Description is the body of the ad.  So the purpose of your Meta Description is to sell your webpage so prospects click on your listing rather than the other search results.
 
SEO Mistake #3: Multi-Topic Pages

The third most common mistake is using one page for multiple different topics.  For example, many businesses use a single webpage to list all of their different products and services.  Using one page for all of your services might be OK from a usability standpoint, but do not expect this one page to rank for all the various keywords that are relevant for each product and service.  It’s not going to happen.

If you have 3 distinct services and you want to rank in Google when prospects search for them, then create 3 unique webpages that are optimized for the relevant keywords.  Each unique page will have a relevant Title that includes the keyword phrase, as well as a compelling Meta Description to get more prospects to click to learn more.  

Of course, there’s a LOT more to on-page SEO than this, but if you fix these 3 mistakes you’ll be ahead of most businesses I’ve been reviewing lately.