2020 The year so far...
Who would have thought that at the beginning of the year the World would change so much in such a brief period of time. As we all know, nearly all types of businesses have been affected by Covid 19. Some more than others of course. I personally have seen a drop in income, due mainly to the knock on effect of other businesses being affected and the lower rate of new business coming in. Expected projects from existing clients have also been put on pause until recovery kicks in.
As of September, there is some signs of recovery, as some existing clients are wanting updates to their website, but still, in comparison to previous years, there are still much fewer new business startups looking for getting a new website built.
I have just completed one new website though, for a former client who is looking to start his own business with conservatory roof insulation. The website www.conservatoryinsulationspecialists.co.uk has had the main pages completed, and further development is on the horizon. I have also seen some increased activity from some existing clients who needed new updates to their website, and I've also taken over a couple of websites that needed reviving because they were having problems with their original service providers. These include www.backtohealth-leicester.com and www.mywindowclean.com (still in development). However, fingers crossed, here's hoping that things will improve and that most businesses will get back to some kind of normality in the coming months.
Website updates and new designs
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity with website updates and some new designs being cranked out. Among them are a new website for a new client who chose to use one of the new templates I have designed for his window cleaning business Be Clean Window Cleaning. His website is www.be-clean.co.uk. There is still some SEO work to do to bring it to completion so at the time of writing this post (8th March 2020) it's still a relatively new website and it usually takes a few weeks to start seeing decent results in the SERPS.
Other work recently completed is a fresh makeover with new pages being added to Jamie Wilkes paving services as well as new updates to websites that belong to a number of long standing clients ACS Window Cleaning, www.acs1st.co.uk based in Chelmsford and Waterforce Property Services, www.windowcleanerleeds.co.uk based in Leeds.
See screenshots of work below and call me if you want a quote for your own small business website.
Window Cleaner Directory gets a fresh new look
The leading window cleaner directory in the UK www.windowcleanerdirectory.co.uk has recently been given a fresh clean look, along with its main company website Window Cleaning Resources. Both provide improved navigation to access window cleaning related articles and customers who are seeking a professional window cleaner based in the UK.
Unfortunately, the old Window Cleaner Directory was not being updated effectively, and this was partly due to the automated listing procedure which was incorporated into the website. Although it was a good idea at the time, it gradually started to show cracks in the system as some listings and links to company websites were no longer working.
The new system of manually adding companies to the directory is being managed by myself to ensure each listing is genuine and being kept up to date. Advertisers are required to have their own company website to be included in the directory, and if their site goes down they will be removed from the listings. This is to ensure customers seeking a window cleaner through the directory can be assured of finding a professional service, and one that is still in operation.
If you are a professional window cleaner and you would like to be included in the directory then please feel free to apply for a free or featured listing through the link below.
New websites going 'live' this month
The requirements for both websites were fairly simple and only involved a few pages to describe their services and organisation. With some basic on-site search engine optimisation, and a few selected directory backlinks I'm expecting to see good results from SERPs.
Usually websites like these can be built and published within days of the client placing the order, subject to the appropriate information being provided to give the website visitors a clear and detailed account of the client's service.
Anyone who needs a modern clean and mobile friendly website to promote their business, club, charity or organisation online, feel free to get in touch for more information.
To be (busy) or not to be (busy) that is the question
Having spent the last ten years or so designing websites for my own use and for clients, I now find that a lot of my time seems to be spent typing emails or updating existing websites. Building new websites no longer takes up as much of my time these days. But on reflection I do prefer the creation process of building a new website from scratch. In some cases it can be a very time consuming process though, depending on how much work is involved. For a one man business like myself, this means that when I am busy, it means less leisure time. And I do enjoy my leisure time.
Of course, this doesn't mean I turn down work. Not in the least. But I can afford to be more selective if there are constraints on time available. However, I do like the creative process of building a website that does not require a long term commitment that involves regular updates. Which is why I have always preferred to design simple brochure style websites and avoided ecommerce websites which generally regular maintenance.
Right now, having recently completed two new websites for clients, I'm going to spend some time designing and building some new templates for various types of business which I hope to make attractive enough to generate some new enquiries. But hopefully, still have some leisure time to enjoy other pursuits in life that I find just as interesting and challenging.
Better rankings for websites
There are many ways to get visitors to your website and your main goal should be to take advantage of all methods available to you. This includes offline as well as online techniques.
If you have just recently had a website built for your company or organisation then the first step is to make sure your website gets found and indexed. You can do this by submitting the website address and details to Google and other search engines of your choice. Most of them have a submission form where you can do this. Another way is to get a link to your website from another website, such as a business directory or a forum or blog. To find out if it is already listed you can use a search query. For example, if you type site:yourdomainname.com into the Google search box, (replacing yourdomainname.com with your own domain name) you should get a list of your website pages that Google has found and indexed. If your website domain does not show up then it still hasn't been indexed.
In some cases a website can get de-indexed if it has been penalised by Google for some reason. This can happen when Google discovers a website is using deceptive methods or poor, spammy content plus 'blackhat' SEO methods and excessive low quality link building in order to get found.
Quality link building is still a good way to boost a website's performance. If you have highly relevant inbound links from external websites that are well ranked then this can help your own website rank higher. But because Google doesn't just rank websites based on external links alone, there are various other factors involved which have an impact on how well your website gets ranked.
To learn more about the methods I advise my clients to consider and use to improve search results READ THE FULL ARTICLE here.
7 mistakes that could lose you website traffic in 2018
Do you have a website to promote your sales or service business online?
Is it getting enough traffic and generating enquiries?
Most website owners know that if your website doesn't rank highly in the search results then it's not going to get many visitors. The exception may be is that you're paying for advertising to get them there.
Of course advertising with PPC (Pay Per Click) can work out rather expensive and most service businesses tend to rely on their web designer or SEO manager to get good rankings in the natural 'organic' search results. The problem is, many people who rely on their knowledge of SEO are still using outdated techniques such as keyword stuffing and exchanging links with other website owners which can often turn out to have a negative effect.
When a search engine such as Google updates it's algorithms in an effort to improve it's search results, it can often have a dramatic effect on rankings, but we cannot just blame everything on these updates. It's more likely that there are other reasons that your site is not performing well and getting enough traffic because you're a victim of committing some of the following SEO mistakes.
1. Not getting your site optimised for unique keywords
If for example you run a carpet cleaning business and are based in the Greater London area, simply optimising your homepage for the keywords 'carpet cleaning' will be highly unlikely to get your website lots of visitors. The chances of getting your site on the first page for those keywords are extremely remote. Even by some amazing luck your website did show up on the first page it may not be relevant to people who are looking for a carpet cleaning service in Brighton for example. You have a much better chance of reaching potential customers with a more targeted keyword phrase such as 'carpet cleaning service Twickenham' because there will be much less competition.
The fact is... the most basic general keywords don’t fetch enough traffic!
You need to be more location specific. And yet it’s amazing to see just how many local business websites are not optimised for these type of keywords.
2. Not staying up to date with Google updates
It's important to remember that the main aim of Google and other major search engines is to provide quality content in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) Users of a search engine like Google expect to get good search results and if they don't provide a good search experience then those visitors may decide to look elsewhere or change to a different search engine.
Search engines rely on visitors to survive, otherwise they would go out of business. This inevitably means that Google needs to regularly maintain good search results by continuously assessing websites and ranking the ones with the best and most relevant content on the first and second page. If your website doesn't appear on the first or second page for the most important search term to your business and you have have sparse or poorly written content on your website, or duplicated content from another website, you might get penalized and quickly lose your rankings. It's therefore important that you stay informed of any changes that Google makes to it's algorithms and the way it assesses websites. SearchEngineLand.com is a good website to keep up to date with any changes.
3. Not updating content regularly
Whatever type of website you have, if you don't keep it up to date and add new content regularly, you are missing out on opportunities to build more traffic. Worst case scenario is can also lose traffic and rankings that might have been hard fought to achieve. No matter whether you're operating an e-commerce website, information or service based website, you should always make sure that new pages, as well as old pages, are correctly optimised to reflect the page content. The more web pages you have, the more opportunity there is to link them and build more traffic.
The inclusion of a blog on your website is extremely useful for building additional content. Google rewards websites that are active and blogs are by their very nature should be regularly updated if used properly. There is no point in having a blog if it doesn't get utilised. It’s surprising how many webmasters add a few posts on their blog and then just forget about it. If you want to let Google know that your website is active, you need to keep adding new and fresh content.
4. Not using social media
To gain website traffic you need to consider all possible ways to get visitors to your website. There are many ways to do this, but taking advantage of social media is one of the most effective. Yes it can be time consuming, or you can outsource this aspect of your business. But social media is becoming increasingly important to businesses, not only to drive traffic, but increase customer engagement.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ are all major sources of traffic, along with many other community orientated websites such as topic related forums and niche blogs relevant to your business. Don't rely on search engines alone. One major update could see your website traffic drop considerably, but you can protect yourself from loss in traffic by building a network of gateways and backlinks from social media. And one of the great things about it is that it's totally free!
5. Not using effective internal linking
Ok, so your home page is the most likely page to get ranked in the search results. But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the traffic that you can generate from any other page on your website, as long as it's effectively optimised.
A good way to get additional pages ranked is to create internal links to pages of prime importance and relevance to your business. Getting extra traffic to pages with specific content that people are looking for can give your website a major boost in the search results and at the same time reduce page abandonment. People want to get direct to the source. This also builds trust in your website and company.
Internal linking can help you achieve this. An easy to navigate website is essential to keep visitors on your website and avoid frustration. Add important and relevant internal links to any pages that are already receiving a good deal of traffic so that the new pages will get found quickly. Use external linking too from good quality sites only. The quality of backlinks is now far more important than the quality of backlinks. Poor quality backlinks will have a negative effect on your website, so avoid these or suffer the consequences.
6. Not using effective SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is a major component of your website. If not done correctly, your website has little or no chance of getting ranked well, or never found at all.
Implementing basic SEO into your website is not that hard. There are numerous articles and videos online that can help you do this. There are also some excellent tools available that can simplify the process and help you understand which parts of SEO are important and will work best for your website. Wordpress users can take advantage of useful plugins that can provide this. Yoast is one of those plugins that have good user reviews and is a good addition to your arsenal in the fight to rise to the top.
I've also used plugins that are even simpler to use than Yoast, with very good results. The most important elements of SEO are correctly formatted title tags, description tags, image tags, plus headline and sub headline tags, as well as a good article which incorporates the main keywords you want your web page to be found for. Articles with at least 300 words will fare the best.
7. Using ranking as a parameter to evaluate success
For most website owners, getting a first page ranking is the ultimate goal.
Yes, first page is a great position to be in if it's for your main keyword focus. But is it getting results?
Even if you are near the top of the search results page, and people are visiting your website but conversion rates are poor, then is your website really doing it's job properly? Ideally, your website will bring you new business, as well as returning customers. This is one of the main reasons you paid to have a website built isn't it? There could be other reasons of course, but getting good conversions should be one of your prime goals if you expect it to bring in new business.
A good way to track how your visitors use your website is by using Google Analytics.
Analyzing user behavior when they arrive on your website can help you identify weak points, such as if the visitor immediately leaves your site, or whether there are poorly converting product pages. This information can be extremely useful in order to help you improve your website and user experience.
Digital publishing for Window Cleaning Magazine
The original Window Cleaning Magazine website and digital magazine was designed by myself for Lee Burbidge, the founder of Window Cleaning Magazine,. It was originally set up in 2011 and has since had a makeover and new features have been added.
Though I no longer have any involvement in the magazine, unless Lee requires any specific work that I can help him with, the magazine has grown to have a wide following and is one of the leading digital magazines in the World for window cleaners.
The latest incarnation of the website has made it easier for Lee to add new content himself, such as videos from the WCM YouTube channel, plus any new articles he decides to place in the articles section. Back issues and new issues of the Window Cleaning Magazine are also available so that visitors can still download the old pdf files or open a selected magazine in page flip format.
*The first 12 issues of the digital magazine were designed by myself and are still available to download and read from the current Window Cleaning Magazine website
Own your own domain name
As a website designer I often advise business owners who want a website and a domain name for their business to always register it themselves.
Registering a domain name using your own account and being listed as the registered owner and administrative contact is extremely important to ensure that you always have control over your own company domain name.
If, for some reason, you have a website design company or some other person register a domain name on your behalf, it can cause unforeseen problems in the future. If for example, they can no longer be contacted for some reason, whether it's due to poor health, moving away, or going out of business etc., then you could find it very difficult to control what happens to your domain name, especially without some form of proof of ownership. Even then the process of taking control of the domain name can be fraught with difficulties.
Worse case scenario is that if your domain name expires without you realising or being notified, after a short suspension period the domain name could be purchased by someone else before you get a chance to renew it.
For this reason it's always been my advice to register the business domain name yourself. It's also important to set the renewal of your domain name to 'Auto Renew' within the control panel of your registrar to ensure the domain name does not expire without you being aware of it. You can always change the setting if you do decide you no longer want to retain and renew the domain name.
Two of the registration agents I normally recommend are www.lcn.com and www.123-reg.co.uk
Simple website for carpet cleaning company
AG Cleaning, operated by Andy Griffiths decided a new website was required to promote their business online. After Andy called and provided some brief details about the business and the services they offered I asked Andy for some further information and advised him on how to get a domain name and what options he had available to him.
After purchasing and registering the domain name www.carpetcleaninginstevenage.co.uk I quickly arranged to update the nameservers and set up the hosting account. Within 5 days the basic layout and design of the website went 'live' and a few tweaks were made to complete the design work,
I prefer to work quickly and get everything up and running within a week where possible. Once the website is online the client can then let me know if they wish to have any changes made and this is usually carried out while also setting up the necessary SEO required to ensure the search engines understand what the main content of the website is, and what each page is all about.