SEO

girl feeling sad that she has no website traffic

Launch4Life writes about a variety of topics to help small businesses better market their products and services. This collection of posts fall under the category of SEO.


You Thought Building a Website Was Easy?

You Thought Building a Website Was Easy?

How Easy is it to Build a Website? 

Building a website can be a complicated process if you don’t know what you’re doing.  It requires a lot of thought. Being involved in building a website for our own business and building websites for our customers, I think I could write a book. But if you are a novice it can be challenging because you wonder how hard is it to design a website. Do you need help or can you do it yourself? What do you need to know in advance?

Whether you are building a brand-new website or revamping an old one, both require website planning. My hope is this article will give you a few insights to help you have a better website building experience. It is possible to build your own.  But even if you decide to hire a designer you need to be a part of the process. You need to have control of the website planning. It’s your website. It’s your business.  Have the designer build it to your specifications and needs. 

Why You Need a Website!

Before you go to the expense and trouble of building your own or hiring someone, your first step is to determine why you need a website? Is it basically a calling card where people can get information about your products or services or are you looking for prospective clients to find your website organically through Google? Do you need an ecommerce site where you are selling a physical product or are you service based, requiring an appointment scheduler? That will determine what type of website is best for your business. 

This is important as it affects the cost and time required to build your website. If you just need a page or two, you may want to just create an About.Me Page or purchase a do-it-yourself website builder like WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix, or Square Space. If you need ecommerce integration you may want to research Shopify or BigCommerce. They may satisfy your needs. But if you want to own your site, blog, and have the best SEO (we will talk about that a little later) you will want either a WordPress site (built on WordPress.org not to be confused with the .com version) or a custom built. Blogging is a very important component for SEO.  If blogging is part of your strategy, that is another good reason for a WordPress site.  

A custom built site can be very expensive so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a lot of money and need some specialization. Otherwise, WordPress is an excellent choice.  It will allow you to own it, add the right bells and whistles and be SEO friendly. The rest of this article will focus on what you need for a WordPress site. Though if you decide to rent with Shopify, Wix, etc, you will still get invaluable information to decide which is the best platform. 

Choosing the Right Web Hosting Company 

If you decide you want a full-blown professional website using WordPress, you will need to choose a web hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator, or Bluehost. You will also need to buy a domain, which you will have to renew each year. While it’s not mandatory, it makes life easier if you buy your domain from your web hosting company. If you can get a discount when you purchase these products, you may want to buy a few years in advance.

Note: Always make sure you own your domain as that will allow you to move from one hosting place to another.  Make sure it is transferable. 

Another thing to consider is when creating your domain name.  If you have a for profit business use a .com at the end.  If you have a nonprofit you can use .org.  But I recommend you stay away from .co or .us or .life as examples.  Also no dashes in your domain name. Most people will not type those in and will end up in the wrong place.  Just a word of advice.  Save you a lot of grief. 

Next up is purchasing a WordPress Theme.

While there are some free ones, they should be avoided like the plague. Free Themes can have security issues and may not be current with the continuous WordPress updates. Our favorite WordPress Theme is Divi, which can be purchased from Elegant Themes. Depending on your business, you can choose the template that makes sense for your audience. 

Make sure you purchase an SSL certificate to keep your website secure for your customer and give you better ranking in Google searches. I have a graphic below to show what that means.  One fault we often see, is someone buys the SSL certificate and doesn’t attach it properly.  If you see the https in the browser with the padlock closed, you were successful.

The SSL Certificate creates the locked padlock and makes your site secure.

Extra Stuff – Extra Costs

Finally, a few extras that we also recommend purchasing from your web host provider is a back up plan, security protection against hackers, and a premium email account. 

As you can see, expect to pay a few dollars right out of the gate. Some of these costs will need to be renewed every year, so keep that in mind. Don’t buy a website package unless you know your business is going to be around for a few years.

I thought it would make sense to cover some things on “how to plan a website” before you actually do so.  Research saves you a lot of grief. So I have put together a list of 10 things to consider. 

I0 Things to Consider Before You Build That Website 

As I said, whether you are somewhat tech savy and want to build your own, or you hire someone else, some of this needs to be done by you. Be involved in the planning. The more you can tell your designer what you want, the more your expectations will be met and the cost will be less. 

#1 Audience: Know who you are building your website for. Do you have one ideal customer or several? Make sure your website answers the questions they will be asking when they visit your website. If you aren’t sure about this you might want to use our Avatar workbook. Your ideal audience is important as that determines your messaging and design. 

defining your avatar workbook

Defining Your Avatar Workbook

#2 Colors and Fonts: It supports your brand identity and sets the tone of what your customers can expect from you. The rule of thumb for the color is one dominant color, one complimentary and one background. You may want to check out some color psychology articles to make sure you pick colors that will attract your desired audience. Font choices should be complimentary and limited to 2 or 3 max.

# 3 Layout: How many pages do you want?  For example, a 4-page layout would have a Home page, About page, a Services or Product page, and a Contact page.  A 5-page layout would also include a Blog page. How do you want the layout for each page? Research other websites with your type of business.  What do you like? What do you want to avoid? You want to be sure that you have a website that is modern and responsive for mobile devices, since most of your customers will be seeing your website from their phone or tablet.

#4 Content: It is a good idea that even if you are hiring someone to write your content, that you write some basic information to give your content/web designer an idea of what you want to express to your customers. Otherwise they won’t know what you want, and you may not like what they write. Save everyone time, anguish, and money. It is always good to identify in advance, what is your client’s issue, how can you solve it, what is your call to action (CTA). You want to make sure that is clear.  If they feel like they are in the right place, they will stick around to learn more. Reducing bounce time is a good SEO strategy. 

#5 Graphics: Go find the graphics and photos you want. Ask your web designer what size they should be, so you get the right size and make sure they are clear. Graphics should have tags and descriptions so that the Google bots (another SEO strategy) can read your graphics. Also helpful for software programs for blind people. If you are doing your own website, you should learn the right pixel size.  You may want to check out our blog on this, Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size.  Save you a lot of headaches for website speed, an important SEO issue.  

graphics help website speed

Reducing your graphic size increases your website speed

#6 Messaging and Call To Action: Create a compelling tag line. It will surely be the first thing they see when they click your website. Wow them if you can. Will they feel you get their problem? Don’t make it about you – it should be all about them. Will they know easily what to do for next action step? Make your Call to Action prominent and easy to navigate, whether it is to buy or subscribe to your newsletter. Writing the right content is very important. Decide if you want to write content or have them write it. Know what you want to communicate.  

#7 Email Subscribe Box: So, so important. You can add a subscribe or sign up button on your website that links to your email program. Your email list is paramount. When someone visits your website they may not be ready to buy.  Having an option for them to stay in touch will allow you to nurture them until they are ready.

I tell my customers, get your email program (ex. MailChimp or Constant Contacts) built before your website. You can use your social media to get people to subscribe. You can announce your new website on your social media and to your email subscribers.  It helps to offer some sort of free gift (Lead Magnet) to get people to surrender their email address to you. Like a free eBook, free training, white paper, quiz, video, webinar, or free consultation that they would like and has value. For example we have a few lead magnets.  We have a free mini course, an ebook, and a Workbook.  All of them creating value and nurture our audience. 

free mini course getting your ducks in a row for seo

Example of lead magnet

#8 Social Media: You can also add your social media links to your website like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. I would give a word of caution here. Only link to social media that you are actively using.  It would be embarrassing to link to twitter and you only twittered one time when you set it up.  Choose the social media platforms that both you and your prospects visit on a regular basis.  WordPress allows integration with social media.  Also you can add pixels for traffic for future ads (ie Facebook pixel is just a code you get from Facebook to put on your website.)

#9 SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Making sure your website is SEO friendly from the beginning is important. Saves you angst down the road.  Having a beautiful website is not the only mission of your site. You want Google to like your website and index it for audiences. You will want to do some research or work with your web designer to determine what are the right key words or keyword phrases to have on your website. This is the phrases your audience is typing in the browser to find help. This helps optimize your website and blog for Google searches (SEO).

If you are struggling to learn more about this, check out our SEO Easy Peasy YouTube channel. We offer short Easy Peasy videos to help you learn SEO in baby steps. Make sure if you are planning a blog, you add the Yoast plug-in and then utilize that when you are writing your posts. 

computer showing all the parts of seo

#10 Google Tools: To track your website’s performance, you will need to have your website connected with Google’s web tools. From Google Analytics and Google Console to a site map adding these programs will help Google index your site to help get found and drive traffic to your website. These should be added to your website at the beginning.  

Remember This is Your Website – Not Theirs  

One of the biggest issues we have noticed in working with our customers when building their websites, is that some of them have not thought out what they really want in advance. They leave it to the web designer. It sets someone up for disappointment. You need to know the end in mind. 

Do some research before you hire someone. Ask for referrals. Just because someone says they can build websites doesn’t mean they are doing it correctly.  Look at their samples. Do you like the look of them? Did they fulfill some of the top ten things I said above? Is the SSL certificate locked? I have seen many that add the certificate but don’t lock it properly. It will hurt your SEO if you don’t. Look over their shoulder as they are building it.  Keep yourself engaged in the entire process. 

woman watching woman at computer

Watch over their shoulder as your designer builds your website

Remember I said to do your research before you build your website. Check out your competitors’ websites. Do you like the layouts? What colors are they using? Do you like their choices or do you want a different look? The website you are building, or redoing represents you. Make sure you love it.  It is the face of your business.

Doing his website due diligence.

 

WEBSITE CHECKLIST

With this information, you will be better prepared to create the website you want and will be proud of. Most importantly, your website will attract your prospects and turn them into customers.

  • Determine need of Website
  • Web Hosting Company and fees
  • Domain and fees
  • Email Addresses
  • SSL
  • Google Tools
  • Color (3) and Fonts (3)
  • Graphics
  • Content
  • Number of Pages
  • Call to Action
  • Email Subscribe Button (have an email program)
  • Social Media Buttons (at least 1 or 2 social media programs)
  • SEO – keyword phrases 
  • Blog Articles (optional). If so, add Yoast Plugin.

P.S.  One last thought…..

Think about who will maintain your website after its built? You can’t just set it and forget it. Websites need to be updated with content and and monitored for various software updates. They need to be kept secure. Regardless of who is going to maintain your website I suggest you ask your web designer for the user id and password used to set up the website. This way you will still be in control and will never be held hostage. You can use that web designer, someone else, or yourself to do the additional updates that will absolutely be needed.  But own your own website “keys”.

Have fun with your website. It is a wonderful feeling to have a beautiful website that represents who you are and what your business can do to help customers. Hopefully this blog will save you some learning issues and make the process easier.

How Can Launch4Life Help?

We focus on helping small business owners get found on Google.  We have watched many people build their site expecting the people to show up. A website is just one part of your marketing journey.  Its needs to be SEO Friendly and so much more. If you are in a place trying to make decisions about everything we have described above, you may want to consider a SEO consult.  30 minutes with us first may save you lots of time and money in the future.  

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

The Truth About SEO: It’s More Than Keywords

The Truth About SEO: It’s More Than Keywords

computer with all the different parts of SEO

The other day I met a woman at a networking event. After she discovered I was an SEO Consultant, she remarked, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to do some of that on my website. I just need some good keywords. Hey, maybe you could help me with that?”

When I asked her what exactly she would do with those keywords, she admitted that she didn’t have a clue.

The Truth About SEO: Most Of Us Are Totally Clueless

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This woman is not alone. So many business owners have an inkling of what SEO is, but they mistakenly think it’s all about using the right keywords.

I totally know where they’re coming from. It was exactly where I was about two years ago.

Even as an internet marketing specialist, while I’d heard about this thing called SEO, I wasn’t sure what it really meant. And, like the majority of small business owners, I too thought SEO was just about keywords.

It wasn’t until one of our customers needed help, that I decided to look into SEO and see what it was all about.

One of our clients just loved the new website we’d just built him. However, he complained his sparkling new website wasn’t getting the traffic he expected. He was upset that here he’d spent a lot of money having us build a great website, but nobody was seeing it.

I wondered how that could that be our fault? We’d built a great website. It looked beautiful. It even looked nice on a mobile phone.

Wasn’t he the one responsible for launching his website to prospective customers?

It turns out what he really wanted to know was how to get his website found on Google?

It seemed that all of his competitors, who had crappy websites, were at the top of the search results. So, he was confused why his gorgeous website was nowhere to be seen.

I felt bad. Here I was an online marketer with knowledge about website design, email marketing, and social media, and yet I had no clue how on earth SEO marketing worked. Ugh!

The Truth About SEO: Web Designers Can Be Clueless

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So, I confessed that I thought his website probably needed some SEO. So, I suggested he hire someone to help him with that.

He soon came back, saying the “SEO experts” were charging thousands of dollars. And, they said that despite the investment, they couldn’t even promise he’d ever get to the top of Google.

Holy cow!

I began wondering, what kind of business could charge so much money with no guarantees? That seemed crazy to me.

So, I told my client that if he was willing to wait a bit, I’d get out there and see if SEO was something I could figure out.

I jumped right in and made a stab at learning this thing called SEO. Much like that lady I met last week, I thought all I needed to do was find some keywords for my client and we’d be good to go.

Well, I did find him some keywords, but discovered I had no idea where to put them! This meant I had to dig in a bit deeper.

The Truth About SEO: It’s Got a Lot of Moving Parts

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I soon began learning all sorts of things I’d never heard about. Meta descriptions. Title Tags. Alt Text. Keyword Density. Image Optimization. Backlinks. Structured Data.

Oh my! My head was spinning.

I heard about a great WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO. However, I was in total overwhelm trying to set it up. Once I did get Yoast up and running, I was able to figure out where to put those keywords. But, I quickly discovered that all keywords are not created equal. There are so many things you need to take into account – search volume, competition difficulty, and searcher intent.

Oh boy, this SEO thing seemed to be getting more complicated by the minute.

Next, I learned that we also needed to set up something called Google Search Console. This would allow Google to crawl and index my client’s website. Oh my. Now I was totally confused.

I began to realize that SEO had a whole lot of moving parts. There was so much I didn’t even know… that I didn’t know.

It was as if I’d opened up a Pandora’s box and all the evil in the world escaped.

When I was first learning about SEO, the scariest part was the all the technical stuff. I remember the first time I came across a tool you can use to check your website’s SEO. Running my own website through it made me feel sick to my stomach.

The Truth About SEO: Websites Need SEO Checkups

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I was amazed at how many websites look great on the front end, but are totally messed up on the backend. I later learned that while WordPress web developers, like myself, know how to build great websites, so many are not designed with SEO in mind. Who knew?

  • Oversized graphics can affect your website’s page speed.
  • Your website structure may not be set up right for search engines or website visitors.
  • If you don’t have an SSL certificate your website will be highlighted insecure and a risky place to visit.
  • Websites need to look just as good on a phone as they do on a computer.
  • Google might not know your website exists. Or even worse, the Google Bots might be blocked from crawling your site.

In all fairness to myself and other web developers, there’s a lot to know to create an SEO friendly website. So, if you have a web developer who knows how to do all this stuff (and more), be prepared to pay the big bucks.

The Truth About SEO: Learn it Before Building Website

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Knowing what I know now, I would recommend you plan your SEO strategy  BEFORE you even begin thinking about building your website. Yes, even before you choose the name of your website.

Everything from your domain name, type of website (WordPress vs. Wix or Square Space), web hosting, etc. will affect your SEO. Most importantly, if your web developer is not familiar with SEO, then you need to have them work with an SEO expert. Or, better yet find yourself a web developer who already knows SEO.

When I first began my SEO journey, I was overwhelmed by all there was to learn. But, step-by-step, I just kept at it.

What, at the beginning, seemed like a chaotic mess, slowly began to make sense. After a while, I could see both the forest and the trees. I was able to identify all the elements that are a part of SEO and organize them in a logical manner.

I carved out an SEO strategy for my first client and later for our own website. Then I began to see that I could do the same for the rest of my clients. I knew I had this.

The funny thing is that I realized that SEO was the core of online marketing. While all the other parts – social media marketing, email marketing, etc., are still very important – SEO is actually the most important.

The Truth About SEO: It’s a Learned Skill

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Once I learned about SEO I realized I wanted to empower other business owners. That was when my business partner and I decided to make DIY SEO our specialty service.

With regard to the woman I met at that recent networking event, I told her the truth. “SEO is so much more than just finding some keywords.

When you pull back the curtain and tell people all that’s involved with SEO, many people’s eyes glaze over and go into overwhelm. I get it. Been there and done that.

However, with the right mentor any small business owner can do this. They just have to know that there’s a lot to learn. That it’s going to take some time. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. And the best way to learn is in baby steps.

I liken it to getting in shape. A crash diet just doesn’t work. Instead, you need to change your lifestyle. You need to eat differently and exercise. There’s no magic pill. It’s going to take work. It’s not going to happen overnight. Instead, it’s about consistent efforts over time. But in the end, you will reap the rewards.

Which is why I suggested she set up a SEO Starter Consult with me. That way, we could spend some quality time together reviewing all of her SEO options.

The Truth About SEO: Basic Knowledge Pays Off

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And I’ll tell you quite honestly, that some business owners will decide SEO is way too much for them. If you don’t already do your own website updates, write your own blog posts, send out your own email updates, doing your own SEO will probably not be your thing.

However, every small business owner should at least learn the basics of SEO. That way, if you do hire an SEO expert, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for and whether they’re doing the job right.

Whatever you do, you simply can’t afford to ignore SEO. Every day that you delay getting involved with SEO you are losing potential customers to your competitors.

So, if you too thought SEO was just about keywords, it’s time to learn some of the basics of SEO. Which is why we created a free mini-course: Getting Your Ducks in a Row for SEO.

When you enroll in the course you will receive one email per day for 5 days, in which you will learn a little bit about SEO. Think of each lesson as a stepping stone to help you along your SEO journey. It’s a great way to learn in baby steps.

By the end of the course you will know for yourself that SEO is more than just keywords. And, more importantly, you will have enough information to decide if SEO is something you’d like to learn how to do… or if you’d rather hire an agency.

Knowledge is power.

Hope to see you on the inside. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

SEO Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

The Importance of SEO for Your Small Business

The Importance of SEO for Your Small Business

SEO spelled out using scrabble letters

Pretty much everyone on the planet has heard of SEO. But, not everybody understands what SEO means, what’s involved, and how to get started. Even more critical, too many business owners don’t know the importance of SEO for promoting their products and services.

What Exactly is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply about driving more relevant traffic to your website. SEO involves making improvements to your website to help you achieve the best possible results in the organic search engines. The goal you’re targeting is to be listed on the first page of Google. The higher up the page you’re listed – the better.

When someone types their problem into Google, we want our website to be shown as the best solution. Unfortunately, getting to the top of the search engine results is easier said than done. After all, we’re competing with oodles of other businesses, all trying to do the same thing.

An Important Marketing Strategy

While SEO is just one part of a holistic marketing strategy, it’s very, very important. To be honest, I think it’s the most important.

When people are trying to learn something or buy a product/service, search engines are where they turn to. According to InternetLiveStats.com, “Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”

So, here’s the drill. Someone types what they’re looking for into Google. When the search results display, instead of clicking on the first item (which is typically an ad) most folks scroll right on past. It turns out the majority of searchers prefer the natural ranking websites listed on the first page. According to imFORZA.com, “70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.”

But here is what’s even more interesting. Apparently, the majority of Google searchers never make it beyond the first page. “75% of people don’t scroll further the first page.” (imFORMZA.com)

So what does this mean for you? Well, if your website is listed on page 2 of the search results, or worse, chances are nobody will find you.

There’s an old SEO joke:

Q: Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?

A: On the second page of Google.

Sand dunes in desert meant to look like what it's like to rank on page 2 of Google

Meanwhile… on the 2nd Page of Google.

 

Therefore, the higher you rank in the organic search results, the more traffic you can anticipate visiting your website. If you want people to find your website, you simply can’t afford to ignore SEO.

SEO is Cost Efficient

The good news about SEO is that it’s a cost-efficient marketing strategy. Since SEO focuses on organic search results, there’s nothing to buy. You never have to pay Google back for any search engine love they show you. Isn’t that a sweet deal!

When SEO is done correctly, it can deliver nonstop organic traffic to your website. If you were to purchase ads for that same traffic it would cost you big bucks. In addition, whenever you run ads, you quickly discover that as soon as you stop paying, you immediately lose your ranking. As you can see, buying ads is truly a “pay-to-play” marketing solution.

What’s especially appealing about SEO is that you can receive a steady stream of website visitors for years to come. Regardless of how old your website content is, if no other search result is better than yours, Google will continue to rank you at the top.

SEO Really Works

Despite how challenging SEO is, when it’s done correctly, it really does work. What’s critically important is that SEO offers a level playing field. It’s one of the few marketing strategies where the little guy can compete and win. This means you don’t have to be a major brand to grab your fair share of the market. Over and over again, we see small businesses outranking the big dogs.

SEO also has the potential to deliver consistent traffic to your website. Keep in mind, there will always be changes you’ll have to navigate. SEO is always changing because of the never-ending Google algorithm updates. However, what we need to remember is the majority of tweaks Google makes is in response to bad guys trying to game the system.

Google’s mission is to provide the user with the best search results. This means the search engine giant works hard to trip up the cheaters. Google simply wants to ensure their users find what they’re looking for. If you align your goals with Google, you’ll be just fine.

Your Competitors Are Ahead

The longer you delay getting involved in SEO, the more your competitors are getting ahead of you. They will continue to be in the lead until you decide to take the action needed to push them down in the search results. 

However, you can learn a lot from competitors that are doing it right. Success leaves clues. Which means you can reverse engineer your competitor’s SEO secrets. Once you uncover the strategies they used to climb to the top of the search results, you can adopt those same techniques and take the lead. This form of competitive research is totally legitimate and fairly easy to put into practice.

SEO Increases Brand Awareness

Potential customers are more likely to know, like, and trust a business who ranks at the top of the Google search results. The higher your brand ranks, the more influence you’ll have. When people recognize your brand, you’ll have a greater chance of selling your product and/or services.

With all the competition jockeying for attention, it’s getting more difficult to be known for what you do. Therefore, you”ll gain a competitive edge when you are known for who you are. SEO is a great way for you to stand out from the crowd.

Can’t Google Just Figure It Out?

Okay, so hopefully I’ve convinced you to pay attention to this thing called SEO. But, I can already hear what you’re thinking, “Why do I have to do SEO? Can’t Google just figure it out?”

The short answer is no. Although search engines are very intelligent, they still can’t see and understand web pages the way we do. SEO is what’s needed to help search engines figure out what your web content is about and serve it up to your potential customers.

You Don’t Have to Be a Rocket Scientist

Contrary to public opinion, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to do SEO. Instead, you just need to follow tried and true SEO strategies that improve your website for both people and the Google gods. If you’re willing to invest the time to learn the skills needed – you can do this.

Now of course, I don’t want to sugarcoat this and tell you SEO is a walk in the park. I’ll be the first to admit that SEO does have a lot of moving parts, can be super confusing, and will take longer than you think to master. However, once you finally do “get it”, you will feel empowered.

The Future of SEO is Bright

SEO is not going away anytime soon. Therefore it’s not too late to get in the game. As users continue to change their search habits, Google will need to make changes. This is especially true when it comes to new technologies, like voice search. However, no matter what the future holds, the fundamentals of SEO will stand the test of time.

Learning about SEO right now will help prepare you for the future. “The best time to get in the SEO game was years ago. The second best time is now.”

Jump Right In

There are lots of ways to learn about SEO. You can read books, take courses, or get a mentor (or two). While you can learn SEO on your own like we did, you’ll soon discover there’s a lot to learn. While there’s all sorts of great information on the internet, a lot of it is conflicting. As a result, it’s easy to go into SEO overwhelm.

This is probably why so many small businesses end up outsourcing their SEO to an agency. Unfortunately, hiring an agency to run your SEO marketing can be very risky. Not all agencies are created equal. Who can you trust? What are the risks involved? How do you afford the huge fees that good quality SEO requires?

Don't Outsource Your SEO Before You Read This EbookTo help you get a leg up, the Launch4Life team has put together a free ebook called: Don’t Outsource Your SEO Before You Read this Ebook.  Inside, we outline what you need to consider before turning your SEO marketing over to the “experts”.

Our mission is to help small business owners do their own SEO marketing. Instead of doing your SEO for you, we provide DIY coaching. We help small businesses tackle their own SEO in baby steps.

If you built your own business, you’ve probably got the ability to be in charge of your own SEO.

And even if you do decide to hire an agency to handle your SEO, we can teach you the basics needed to feel confident overseeing the work of anyone you decide to hire.

So check out our free ebook and start your SEO journey. Let us help you discover why SEO is important for your business.

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size

Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size

Did you know your website’s page load speed has a huge effect on visitors? Customers have no patience for slow loading webpages. So what bogs down a website? Most likely it’s all those lovely graphics. Most likely, they’re too big. Easy fix. Reduce image size. The immediate result will be a faster website.

Your website visitors aren’t the only ones that don’t like slow loading webpages. Google hates them too. This month Google is releasing a new search algorithm. ‘Speed Update’ will track how fast a webpage loads on mobile devices. Slow websites will rank lower in Google Searches.

So what are we to do? We need to reduce the size of our images. Optimized graphics result in faster page load speed.

You may be wondering “which images on my website do I need to reduce?” If you’re like most small businesses, you have a ton of graphics on your website. And, have no clue which ones are too big.

Thank goodness there’s a simple way to find out. A free and easy website analyzer you can use to discover your oversized web graphics.

So let’s get started.

 

Which of Your Web Images are Too Big?

To test your website’s images, visit Page Weight by Imgix and type your website’s url in the search box.

Immediately, they’ll show you all the images you need to fix. They’ll even highlight your worst performing image. You’ll notice that they list the image’s dimensions (i.e. width x length pixels) and file size (i.e. KB or Kilobytes). They also point out their recommendations for optimizing the image.

 

 

Above is an example of a graphic image from Launch4Life’s website. Notice that while they have the same dimensions (1100 x 600 pixels) the file size 1017.3kb is too big. The webpage does not need the graphic to be at such a high resolution. The file size is causing slow page load speed.

As a good rule of thumb, the size of your image should match the display size on your website.

For instance, on our WordPress blog the featured image (at the top of the page), shouldn’t be any wider than 700 pixels. So if we used an image that was 3,500 pixels wide, it would be five times larger than we need.

The dimensions of a graphic are only one part of the “size” equation.

Resolution, or image quality, also has an effect. The higher the resolution, the bigger the file size.

Images we view on the web don’t need to have such high resolution. Therefore you should try to reduce the image size down to 100kb. Even better, shoot for 75kb.

 

How to Optimize Your Graphics? Reduce Image Size 

So below is an image I uploaded from my phone. Nice picture of me and my family traveling in Scotland.

In the graphic above, the image on the right is the original. You can see the dimensions are pretty large – 1280 pixels by 960 pixels. The file size – 508,460 KB – is pretty big too.

If I wanted to make this the featured image on my blog post, I would need to reduce both the dimensions and file size.

So how can we do that?

Resizeimage.net is the easiest online tool I’ve found to reduce image size.

You don’t need to set up an account. Upload your image, type in the dimensions you want, and click the Apply Changes button. Wow, it doesn’t get simpler than that.

As a tip, it’s best to choose select JPEG for your output file. JPEG files are smaller than PNGs.

As an added benefit, this program also has a few other simple editing features. You can use it to easily crop images and/or add a custom-colored border. It’s pretty basic, but then again, sometimes that’s all you need.

Once you’re done optimizing each image, you will need to upload the images to your website and place them where they belong.

You could stop there, but I suggest doing a few more things. Even if it’s a bit of extra work.

Number 1, make sure you delete all the old images from your website. Even though they will no longer be displayed, you don’t want them cluttering up your media library.

Number 2, go back and run your website again through Page Weight. Hopefully, your website will now pass with flying colors. Allowing you to feel confident your images are no long dragging messing with the speed of your website.

When you reduce image size the speed of your website should increase. Which means Google won’t penalize your website for being too slow. But most important, faster webpages will make your visitors happy. And happy visitors are more likely to stick around and check out your website.

 

Recommended Online Tools

 

Page Weight By Imigix

https://pageweight.imgix.com/

 

Online Image Resizer

http://resizeimage.net/

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Why the Heck Would I Need an Online Marketing Audit?

Why the Heck Would I Need an Online Marketing Audit?

If you own a business, there are things you are doing that you don’t even know that you are doing wrong.  What do I mean by that?  You may have a website or an email platform and think you have it all managed.  But there could be many reasons why there are flaws in what you have that not only put your business in danger but put your viewing audience at risk visiting your platforms. Or at the very least they may be delivering a negative experience for your customers.

Let’s walk through the three major areas to impress upon you why you need to review your marketing platforms and be sure that they are compliant, secure, and provide a good experience for your audience.  After this blog, check your sites and do your Online Marketing Audit.

Number One on the list is your website: 

Website Content: Make sure your website information is current. Often, we find outdated information. Perhaps old workshops or staff members.  Or someone might list an events calendar but when you click on it, there are no events. Either delete that calendar or post some upcoming events. It just doesn’t look professional.  Another example would be having a Blog tab and the last article was written 6 months ago or longer. What would someone think of that? Shows you may have lost interest. Stick with it or delete it.

Administration issues: Another big faux paux – some website owners don’t know their own passwords.  This leaves them vulnerable to the designer or perhaps even an ex-partner, or heaven forbid ex-girlfriend. Upset someone and “delete” you have no website. Your out of business.

Website Theme Selection: Here is another consideration –  many businesses, when they are first starting out use a Free Word Press theme.  Makes sense right!  However, as your website grows to accommodate more information you may need to switch to a Premium theme. This change can be a costly process.  So, think twice about that free theme.  Buying a Premium theme from day one might actually cost you less in the long run and can protect your website from being hacked.

Security: This is one I cannot over stress. Does your website have a SSL certificate?  (Secure Socket Layer). This valuable certificate keeps your website and your customers safe from digital worms and other nasty creatures.  If you are in the process of buying your website now, you may be best to see who offers it at a nominal fee at time of purchase.  Save headaches and time later.

Backup Protection: As an additional security concern is your website backed up in the event one day you find its disappeared.  Yes really, it can happen. Such as you could not renew your domain. You could be updating and lose info.  It could get hacked, or infected by a virus.

Audience viewing:  Lastly and very importantly with the advent of mobile phones is your website responsive and easy to read on a phone.  If not, you may have people bouncing from your website because they just can’t read it.  Type might be too small or maybe just too much content – too busy.

 

Number Two on the list is your Commercial Email Platform:

Audience Viewing: The big one for me is making sure that the template you use is easy on the eye for people checking it out on mobile.  If I can’t read it even with a pair of reading glasses, you can bet I am going to delete that email or online newsletter.  There are some great email platforms out there that have made the commitment to provide templates that are easy to read.  If you are not sure about yours, check it from your mobile phone.   How does it read?  Also, check your statistics.  Are they opening your email?  Are they clicking through to links you offered?

Email Accessories: Do you have a good welcoming email when someone signs up for your newsletter?  Do you have links in your emails or newsletter sending people to your website and social media platforms?

Email Usage:  Are you paying too much for your Platform?  There are a lot of programs out there that offer a lot of good bells and whistles at no or low cost.  Should automation with good wording be a part of your Program?

 

Number Three on the list is your Social Media Platforms:

 

Audience Viewing:  I always look at this like having a dinner party.  Is the table set, house cleaned, and cocktails ready?  I would treat my social site in the same manner.  If someone lands on it, what are they going to find. When was my last post?  Is there a good variety? Is my information up to date?  Will customers who want to learn about who I am and what I offer, see enough information to know my story?  If you are about to engage in Social Media ads this is very important.  First impressions can be very telling.

Analytics: Every platform offers some sort of analytics that tell you a lot about your audience.  When are they visiting your posts, etc.  Are you using your platform to your best advantage?

I hope you will take the time to double check your online marketing platforms.  Make a note what needs to be altered, added to, or adjusted to protect yourself, promote your sales, and make your audience enjoy learning from you. Then take the action to accomplish your changes.

P.S.  If you need help or have questions with your Online Marketing Audit, drop us a line at marketing@launch4life.com.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

©2019 LAUNCH4LIFE