Website Designing Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Website Designing Mistakes You’re Probably Making

If you run a business online or off then you understand the importance of having a website and online presence. However, if it’s your first website, or you designed your website yourself then you might have made mistakes. Luckily, a lot of these mistakes are easy to correct. If you’re relying on your website to drive traffic your way, then you’ll want your website to be a well-oiled machine. Below we highlight the ten mistakes that most beginners make, and what you can do to fix these issues.

1. Lack Of Vision

Your website needs to exist for a definite reason, not simply because you think you should have an online presence. You need to decide upon the purpose of your website before you even begin building. Your website must have a definite purpose, as every page on your website will work to fulfill this purpose. For example, your website could be used to build authority, source new leads, sell a product or service, give information about your business, and much more. You’ll want your user to land on your website and immediately know what your website is all about.

2. Rushing To Market

Instead of getting your website up as soon as possible it’s important you take time to research your market first. For example, if you have an older target market you’ll need to make sure your website is easy to read, digest, and navigate. By having an understanding of your market first you’ll be able to build a website that actually serves them, instead of simply taking up space.

3. Complicated Design

In order to have a successful website it needs to be simple, not flashy. Having an overcomplicated design will only lead to confusion. The goal of your design should be to create the best possible user experience across your website.

4. Design Is Too Trendy

Trends come and go, but timeless design lasts forever. By building your website on the back of solid design principles you’ll be able to create a website that outlasts certain trends and fads. Websites that rely on trends will become outdated very quickly.

5. Out-Of-Date Content

If you haven’t updated your content in years then chances are it’s not up to date with your current business, or the latest web standards. If you have older content your site your visitors may assume you’re out of business, or aren’t as innovative as your competition. If you have a blog make sure you update it on a regular basis, as nothing looks worse than a vacant blog.

6. Poor Quality Photography

Low-quality photography, or outdated stock photography gives your website an amateur feel and won’t do a lot to draw your visitor into your website. Images can help you build a connection with your audience, but only if they’re aligned with your message and business. Make sure you either hire a professional photographer, or use high-quality stock photos that aren’t cheesy.

7. Having Broken Elements/Links

Every element of your website needs to be working. This means you need to test all of your links and pages, so your users don’t end up with the dreaded 404 page. You’ll also want to check all of your internal links to make sure you’re not leading your users to a dead end.

8. Poorly Designed Logo

Your logo is a central piece of your branding. By designing your logo yourself, or getting a cheap logo designed, you won’t do much to further your branding or website. Although your logo is a subtle part of your design it can communicate a lot about your business.

9. Poor Font Choice

Font choice is another subtle element that most business owners neglect. The font you choose needs to compliment your design and increase the readability of your content. This is when it can be helpful to consult the opinion of a professional designer. But, if you’re choosing your own font choice the simpler font is often the better choice.

10. No Call-To-Action

You must lead your visitors somewhere. A website without a call-to-action is akin to nothing more than a virtual business card. Once you’ve proven yourself valuable to your visitors you need to direct them to take action. That action can be signing up for your email list, giving your business a call, or a multitude of other options. Getting your website into tip top shape can take a lot of work. But, it’s time well spent because a well functioning website will help your business grow for the long-term.

What Does Your About Page Say To Your Audience?

What Does Your About Page Say To Your Audience?

Your about page is a crucial part of your website. You can use it to convey valuable information about your business and connect with your user in new and more meaningful ways. Sadly, most business don’t use their about page to actually deepen their relationship with their users. Instead they just use the page to talk about themselves and give a quick rundown of their services offered. These elements are necessary, but they shouldn’t be the sole focus of your about page.

Make Your About Page About Your Visitors

When you’re at a party, or having a conversation with someone and they keep going on and on about themselves, it’s not a very fun conversation is it? Your about page comes across the same way when you only talk about yourself and your accolades. Instead, try a different approach, and make your about page about your readers. The moment a visitor clicks over to your about page you’ll want to tell them the benefits they’ll receive if they stick around. You want to speak to anything that will prevent them from clicking the back button. Address their needs and pain points as soon as possible.

Speak To Their Feelings

When you can convey emotion and feeling with your about page it’s much easier to get them excited about what you’re offering. By taking the time to explain their feelings, your visitors will automatically feel like they’re accepted and part of what you’re building. It’s much easier to get someone to take action when you show that you deeply understand their needs.

Get Into Their Heads

Once you’ve shown you understand them on a level of emotion you need to make your readers feel as if you can read their minds and present them with the perfect solution. You can do this by going deeper into their pain points, and showing how you can solve their problems, and that you’ve done it before.

Use The “Humble Brag”

When you brag about yourself or your business accomplishments you need to do it in a way that doesn’t turn off your readers. Simply listing your accomplishments can actually isolate your readers and make it harder for them to relate to you. A great way to do this is to wrap your accomplishments inside of a story or a joke. Or, you can highlight them alongside other less than perfect details.

Wrap Up With A Call-To-Action

Once you finish your newly upgraded copy on your about page it’s time to tell your visitor what to do next. Since your about page often gets a lot of traffic you should conclude the page with a call-to-action that leads to a subscribe form or some other course of action. Give your users a way to continue the conversation with you. Making sure your about page connects with your users is a crucial piece a lot of online business owners are missing. Get this piece right and you’ll see your subscribers and relationships start to blossom.

How To Grow Customer Loyalty

How To Grow Customer Loyalty

Living in a city built around a tourism based economy has shown me the businesses who survive aren’t those with the best marketing strategy, but those who have managed to retain loyal customers, both local and returning visitors, throughout every season of the year.

The feeling a customer gets coming back to the business often means more than the quality of the service being offered. For instance, one of the most popular coffee shops in my town thrives due largely in part to offering a location in which people want to be seen. As a self-proclaimed coffee critique I can tell you the difference in product would not be enough to create this much separation in popularity. The trick is in the x-factor, in this case providing a hub in which people can see friends, come to get work done, and really gain a secondary experience through visiting the business altogether.

However, earning the adoration of customers is easier said than done. Like any metric in business it involves a variety of factors, a lot of which boil down to good customer service and unique products of high quality. Small businesses are making a come back, and if yours is to contend in the realm of people defining themselves through brands and products it’s important to start gaining customer loyalty right now.

Here are some great tips to get you started.

Focus On Your Most Valuable Customers

Value can be a subjective term, but in this regard a valuable customer should be measured strictly on what they offer your business financially. Think of those who have recurrent faces first, the ones that are consistently coming back to your business and providing regular revenue. I like to think of these customers as ‘buffers’ because in times when business is slow they provide the difference between a strong month or just barely making it.

Financial value may be variant depending on what you’re selling, also. A coffee house may have valued customers based on them appearing most mornings for a cheap cup of coffee; a painting business on the other hand may have a most valued customer just by getting a couple gigs a year. In either circumstance both add up to lifetime value and your energy and attention needs to cater to those already serving your success.

Taking the time to show appreciation and remembrance for their regular support also turns into referrals as word of mouth, which is the most valuable form of marketing.

Invest In Your Customers Loyalty

While this is an old trick, providing reward incentives has proven to be one of the most effective ways to bring customers back in times when they have options for products. Large companies like Safeway have advanced rewards programs by offering discounts on gasoline when you spend money in their grocery outlets.

Many unit based businesses will offer frequent shopper cards, on which you’ll receive a free product after so many purchases. I know when I’m hungry I’ll tend to see if I have any punch cards in my wallet knowing my purchase will be even more valuable later.

Listen To Their Feedback and Actually Make Changes

This one can be tricky depending on how you’re choosing to receive feedback. Less than 5% of customers will respond to surveys when sent out via email, or posted on Social Media. Rather, take the time to scour sites on the Internet where reviews have already been posted, and take action to improve areas that seem to have recurring complaints or suggestions. Not every gripe has to do with the integrity of your business, but more often than not there’s areas of your regular operation that go unnoticed to staff and employees.

What I like to call a two-for-one is putting a survey on the receipt and offering a small discount on the customers next purchase just for returning the survey. Let the customer know you want to hear from them personally and that their return is extremely valuable, because it is!

Meaningful Customer Service

Do you ever feel like certain customer service requirements are a little overboard? Perhaps less genuine even?

Part of gaining a customers loyalty is making them feel a sense of personal connection to your business and that their time spent there is with recognition. Many small businesses put emphasis on employees learning their frequent customer’s names, along with encouraging conversations that contain more depth than just asking how their day is going. Humans crave attention, even if that’s coming from someone who only knows them in one environment.

As your business becomes more well known, try employing these tactics to ensure your product or service means more than just business as usual. Working to gain your customers loyalty will add up to more than just dollar signs for you, it will make your business meaningful to the lives of others which is a great feeling.

5 Excellent Websites for Checking Google Keyword Rankings

5 Excellent Websites for Checking Google Keyword Rankings

One of the essential elements of SEO is picking the right keyword, making them rank & track the keyword position in search.

It is absolutely necessary for a blogger or SEO professional to check their Google keyword ranking for target keywords. One of the most common mistakes bloggers and website administrators make is that they write and publish articles without targeting any keywords at all.

It takes only 10-15 minutes to use a keyword research tool like SEMRUSH or the Google keyword search tool to find which keywords to use. Make sure you take advantage of these tools in order to accomplish this very important step!

Once you are finished writing a SEO-optimized post using your target keywords, your next task is to keep track of its search engine rankings and to continue building backlinks with the proper anchor text.

**Again, proper keyword selection is one of the main factors involved in achieving a better ranking in Google’s search engine.**

Every blogger must aim to use the keywords which users search the most, especially those keywords which will help your website show up on one of the first few pages of search results.

If you accomplish proper on-page SEO, chances are good that you will appear in the first 50 search results.

To improve your SEO, you must manage keywords properly so that you can find out which keywords are strong for your particular domain and which are not. This information allows you to work on using the strongest keywords, thus increasing your likelihood of getting a better ranking in Google and other search engines.

In order to accomplish this goal, you need a tool which can tell you where a specific keyword ranks in Google’s search results without manually going through 100’s of search results and pages.

To help you to do this, we have compiled a list of some excellent free online tools to use to check your target keyword position in Google.

5 Useful Google Position Checker Tools:

1. SEMrush

 

SEMrush is my favorite tool on this list as it is a complete solution for keyword checking.

You can enter your website URL or the individual URL of a blog post, and it will show you which keywords you are currently ranking for. You can further click on any resulting keyword to check keyword competition and other details.

It supports Google (you can select Google Search based on your target geographical region)and Bing.

SEMrush is professional software that is easy to use, and you can try it for a couple of weeks for free before deciding whether you want to subscribe.

2. Ahrefs

 

I’m pretty happy with SEMrush, but if I ever have to replace it with anything else, it’s going to be Ahrefs.

This one is loaded with tons of great features. It automatically detects what keyword your website is ranking for & you can specify ranking based on country.

 

3. SERPWatcher

I’m a huge fan of SEO tools offered by Mangools as they work great & offers great UI. SERPWatcher is the latest addition which let you track keyword position for any domain. You can rack keyword position based on Geo location & device.

 

You can get one of their paid plan to track more keywords. The pricing is most reasonable under the paid tool & will fit your pocket perfectly.

 

4. Google Rank Checker

Google Rank Checker is an excellent free online utility which helps users track keyword positioning in Google search engine results.

In order to use this service, simply put in the keyword you want to search along with the domain name, and it will show you the position of that specific keyword in Google.

It’s that easy.

 

 

5. SERP’s Keyword Rank checker

This one is another popular free Keyword rank checker tool which shows more than search engine position. Along with search engine ranking it also shows CPC and search volume data, for any keyword or phrase.

 

When checking the Keyword rank, you can select the search engine location & also desktop or mobile device. This tool is idle for checking one or multiple Keyword ranking.

 

How To Make Your Brand Matter

How To Make Your Brand Matter

You can either look at branding as a buzzword, or something very valuable for the continued success of your business. For the sake of this post we’re going to investigate the latter definition. Every company has a brand whether they’re aware of it or not. However, not every company has a brand that matters. In this post we’re going to examine what makes brands matter and how to transform your brand from boring to brilliant.

What Is A Brand?

The moment a person thinks about your brand the feelings they feel, or the thoughts they think are the backbone of your brand. Your brand extends way beyond your logo and what font you use on your website. Think of Apple. The moment you think about their company, or hold on of their devices in your hand you automatically think about simplicity, sleek design, attention to detail and beauty. What kind of feelings do you make your customers feel? Sadly, most brands aren’t making their customers feel anything. Most brand are bland and don’t inspire action in one direction or another. The worst feeling your customers can feel when interacting with you is ambivalence. In another way you can think of your brand as the experience you deliver to your users.

Make Your Brand Matter

How do you exactly engineer a brand that makes people stop in their tracks? It takes more than a fancy website and sleek logo. It takes asking the right questions to get to the center of why you do the work you do, and what it looks like.

1. Why Are You Different Different is good. People have more choices than ever. By trying to cater to every style of customer you end up appealing to no one. By taking a stand about what you believe in you can create a brand that others believe in as well. This goes in line with what makes you different. Why would a customer choose you over the competition?

2. Discover Your Values Your company values run deeper than your products and services. Your values are your core reasons for doing business in the first place. Why are you doing what you do? Is it for freedom, for love, or for making a difference in the world? Patagonia has a deep environmental ethic that runs throughout their entire business. As a result, every aspect of their business caters to this ethos. From their website, to their products, to their images and even storefronts.

3. How Will You Communicate This? In what style will you communicate this message? Will you be stylish and clean, or brash and crude? Whatever you choose is up to you. But, it will come across in your web copy, your overall design and how you interact with your customers. Building a brand that people care about takes time. It takes being honest, and it takes brining every aspect of your business into alignment. However, the results are well worth-it. By building a brand that matters you’ll start to cultivate passionate brand evangelists who will do most of your marketing for you.

Top Productivity Apps For Small Business Owners

Top Productivity Apps For Small Business Owners

As a small business owner you’re going to have a ton of tasks to manage and keep track of every single day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and this is where the power of apps can come in. By managing your workflow and reducing the time spent doing aimless things you’ll be better able to advance your business. In this post we’re going to cover the top productivity apps for small business owners, and how they can be used to transform your business. Most of the apps below will work across any smartphone or tablet-like device.

Asana Asana is shared task-management software that helps you track every moving piece of large-scale projects. When working on projects with multiple people it’s easy for emails, conversations and ideas to get lost in the shuffle. Asana makes sure every piece is accounted for, and you can track the progress of each project. You can set due dates and assign tasks to specific team members as well.

Dropbox Dropbox is an extremely popular could storage app. It allows you to store backups of your website, copies of documents and anything you need really. It makes it easy to share documents with multiple team members, and syncs easily across multiple devices. Whether you’re collaborating with multiple team members, or looking for a place to backup your files Dropbox will be able to help.

DocuSign If you need to sign digital documents, then DocuSign makes it easy. All it takes is a number of clicks and you’ll be able to sign a document and forward it on to the right party. If you’re constantly on the go, then you can sign documents from whatever device you’re opening the document on.

Evernote Evernote is a very useful note taking app that sync seamlessly across all of your devices. It makes it easy to manage to-do lists, take random notes and have a place to store random digital media items. There is also a paid version of the app, which gives you a greater suite of tools, including more admin features, a higher storage capacity, and the ability to easily collaborate with other app users.

Doodle Doodle is a great scheduling tool, which will help you keep track of your schedule across multiple platforms. If you already use Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo calendars, then this app will help you keep track of your meetings and appointments across all three.

CloudOn If your business relies on working within the suite of Microsoft Word tools, then CloudOn makes it easy to edit these files when you’re on the go. If you need to make quick edits to a PowerPoint presentation, but only have your iPad, then this app has you covered.   Managing your time as a small business owner doesn’t have to be stressful. Any of the apps above will help you to manage your to-do lists, collaborate with team members, and keep track of the day-to-day. Take control of your time and take control of your business with a suite of helpful apps.

Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Non-Technical Business Owners

Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Non-Technical Business Owners

When the time comes to create your website, you’re going to have no shortage of options to choose from. In fact, the decision-making process can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to cut though all of the marketing messaging to truly find a platform that works for you. Luckily, there’s one platform that outshines most other platforms when it comes to an intuitive platform, that will help you build a beautiful website in no time at all. In this post we’re going to dive into why WordPress is the best choice for business owners with little to no technical know-how. WordPress began as simple blogging software, but it has now grown into a full-fledged website builder with a massive and interactive community.

1. Easy To Use Backend

WordPress has a very easy to use backend. They’ve had the same backend for a number of years, which means there are a number of tutorials to guide you through anything you may be unsure of. The backend is straightforward and doesn’t require any knowledge of code to actually customize the look of the theme as well as implement many additional features.

2. Small Learning Curve

Customizing your WordPress theme couldn’t be easier. Most themes also come with easy to follow documentation that will allow you to set up and populate your theme rather quickly. A lot of other website building platforms require little technical knowledge to get up and running, but the curve increases very quickly. WordPress is easy to setup, and also requires little technical knowledge to customize.

3. Massive Theme Selection

There are literally thousands of WordPress themes available for you to download, both free and premium. The free themes are great for getting started, but if you really want to take your website to the next level you should consider upgrading to a premium theme. Most premium themes cost less than $50 and can leave you with a truly customizable, professional website.

4. Great Plugin Selection

Plugins add increased functionality to your theme without having to outsource plugin creation, or invest a ton of money. There are thousands of WordPress plugins, both free and paid, that add things like increased payment support, homepage sliders, upgraded security and much more. If you want to add a specific feature to your website chances are there’s a plugin for it.

5. Large Support Community

Since WordPress has been around for such a long time there a large dedicated support community. Most premium WordPress themes come with dedicated support, while the large free theme community has a very active user base. If you keep running into a problem, chances are someone else has faced the same problem, and the solution already exists.

6. SEO Optimized

When you’re relying on search engine traffic to send you new customers, then your website must be optimized to rank. Luckily, most WordPress themes are primed to rank in the search engines right out of the box.

7. Very Inexpensive

Like we mentioned above you can get a WordPress theme up and running without too much of an investment on your end. Aside from purchasing a domain name and hosting, you can even get by with a free theme. As you can see, WordPress is a great choice for business owners looking for a beautiful website without having to learn to code first.

Is Your Site Poised for a Search Engine Penalty?

Is Your Site Poised for a Search Engine Penalty?

If you’re a webmaster who’s devoted hours upon hours to building up your site and its presence in the natural search results, there’s almost nothing scarier than the thought of logging into your Google Analytics account and seeing the massive drop in traffic that indicates a search engine penalty.

It doesn’t matter if you’re facing manual action by Google or if your site simply fails to meet the quality threshold imposed by an unexpected algorithm update. What does matter is the potential loss of traffic and revenue your site faces if you don’t take the necessary steps to determine whether or not your website is at risk.

To minimize your site’s chances of being struck with a search engine penalty, pay attention to the following three factors:

Factor #1 – Is your content written for humans or computers?
In the “good ol’ days” of SEO, the search engines relied more heavily on the number of keyword repetitions present in a piece of content than on its quality when it came to determining which site to place at the top of the search results.

As you might expect, website owners and early SEO strategists figured this out pretty quickly – resulting in websites that were cluttered with keyword-stuffed articles, “hidden” text displayed in the same color as the page’s background and paragraphs of “optimized” content buried in website footers.

But while these strategies would have helped your site to achieve top rankings in 1996, the search engines have come a long way since these early days. Their algorithms are now much more sophisticated and they’re constantly being improved, as evidenced by 2011’s Google Panda update, which specifically targeted low-value website content.

So how should you proceed when it comes to content creation these days? Simple – write for both your readers and the search engines.

As a website owner, your primary consideration should be developing content that your readers will find useful, as the search engines’ long-term intention is to reward sites that provide the best possible value for their users (even if their algorithms aren’t yet sensitive enough to achieve this 100% of the time).

At the same time, though, throw the search engines a bone when it comes to determining the subject of your content by including your target keywords at least once or twice in your body content in a natural way. Don’t go overboard (10% keyword density, for example, is a dead giveaway that you’re trying to game the system), but do make the purpose of your content clear to both readers and the search engines.

Factor #2 – Is your site too perfectly optimized?
over optimization penalty

Run a quick Google search for “on-page SEO techniques” and you’ll come up with lists of specific, easily implemented recommendations on how to make your site’s content more search engine friendly.

Now, don’t get me wrong – tips like adding your target keywords to your title tags, optimizing your body content heading tags and creating internal links between your site’s pages are all valid SEO and usability recommendations.

However, it’s totally possible to get carried away with on-page optimization, resulting in a site that’s weirdly uniform in its SEO value. If you’ve completed the exact same optimization steps on all of your pages, you’ve essentially created a digital footprint that tells the search engines, “I’m trying to manipulate your algorithms into ranking my site better.”

There’s no guarantee that doing too much SEO will lead to immediate action taken against your site, but it’s worth noting that Matt Cutts – the head of Google’s Web Spam Team – has been hinting about the possibility of an over-optimization penalty for years. To keep your site safe, focus your efforts on creating highly-valuable content – not on meeting some arbitrarily defined SEO standards.

Factor #3 – How “natural” is your backlink profile?
Finally, one major area that the search engines have been cracking down on recently is link spam – that is, low value backlinks created for the explicit purpose of improving natural search performance.

Google’s Penguin update of 2012 was one of the first major indications that the search giant intended to penalize sites using manipulative link schemes. Since the update’s initial rollout, a number of further Penguin modifications have been released, indicating that the elimination of any benefit generated via link spam is likely to remain a priority for the engines in the near future.

As such, it’s important that you take a look at the quality of the sites pointing links back at your own pages. Start by gathering a list of your existing backlinks using the information provided by Google’s Webmaster Tools program or a third-party system. Analyze your links, paying particular attention to any created on low quality sites for the specific purpose of building SEO value.

If you encounter bad backlinks in your profile, you can either attempt to remove them (using the Google Disavow Links tool if your efforts aren’t successful) or you can try to outweigh their influence by building quality links using more natural methods. Whichever option you choose, make the regular monitoring of your site’s backlink profile a part of your regular SEO routine in order to avoid search engine penalties that could threaten the stability of your web-based business.

Measuring the ROI of Your Social Media Campaigns

Measuring the ROI of Your Social Media Campaigns

Social media marketing can be a great tool for promoting your brand and engaging directly with customers and potential buyers. But at the end of the day, you should be getting more from your marketing efforts than simply being a part of “the conversation.” If you want your actions on popular social platforms to translate into increased sales and profits, you need to learn how to measure the ROI of your social media campaigns.

So, without further ado, here’s a simple process that any business can implement, using the free Google Analytics program:

Step #1 – Set your social media campaign goals
The first step to measuring ROI in any situation is to determine the specific goals you’ll be tracking. In this case, let’s assume that your goal is to use social media marketing to drive additional buyers to your website. As a result, a sample goal might be to have 5% of the visitors your business receives from social media sites convert into paid product purchasers.

Now that you know what goal you’re measuring – in this case, sales – you’ll need to set up goal tracking within Google Analytics.

Begin by logging into the admin area of your account and clicking on the profile of the site for which you’ll be creating goals. From there, select the “Goals” tab and click the “+ Goal” link in one of your goal sets. This will pull up a screen that allows you to select between the four different types of goals that can be tracked within Google Analytics:

social media roi 1

If your website’s sales funnel results in visitors landing on a defined “thank you” page (for example, “http://www.yourdomain.com/thankyou.html”), select the “URL Destination” goal option and fill out the additional fields that this action triggers. If you use a more complicated ecommerce system, select the “Event” goal type and use the instructions found in Google Help’s “Conversion Overview” documentation to accurately set up your goals.

Step #2 – Measure goal conversions from social media traffic
Once your goal is set up and activated, it will immediately start generating data on the number of sales occurring on your website. However, setting up a conversion goal alone isn’t enough to provide meaningful information regarding the ROI of your social media campaigns, as this reporting feature will detail sales that occur from all sources – not just your social visitors.

To filter out the goal conversions that have occurred from social visitors from those triggered by other referral sources, you’ll need to set up an Advanced Traffic Segment within your Google Analytics account.

To do this, navigate to the “Traffic Sources Overview” screen within your reporting dashboard. Immediately under the page’s main header, you’ll see a button labeled “Advanced Segments.” Click this, and then click the “+ New Custom Segment” button that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the segmentation menu.

From the new screen that appears, add “OR” statements utilizing the “Source” metric to specify visitors that come from particular social media sources. As an example below, the custom segment “Facebook Traffic” captures all site visitors that arrive via both desktop and mobile Facebook platforms:

social media roi 2

Create a custom segment for every social media website your site receives traffic from, being sure to include desktop and mobile domains, as well as any platform-specific URL shortening services (for example, “t.co” from Twitter). Don’t group all social domains into one “Social Media Traffic” custom segment, as this will diminish the value of the data you generate.

Step #3 – Adjust your social media marketing strategy based on data
Once your custom social segments have been created, return to the “Goals Overview” reporting dashboard within the “Conversions” menu and apply the custom filters you’ve created to your data by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” button. This will allow you to determine how many of your website’s conversions your social media visitors are responsible for.

Finally, to fully capture your social media marketing ROI, compare the number of sales your social efforts have generated to the amount of time and money you’ve invested into these campaigns. Measure your ROI on a platform-specific basis, as it’s not uncommon for a site to see a positive ROI from one social site and a negative ROI from another.

Use this information to adjust your social media marketing strategy. If you’re seeing a negative ROI across all the social properties you’ve invested in, you need to either improve your social media marketing techniques or cut back on the amount of resources you commit to this promotional strategy.

But even if you’re seeing a positive ROI, use the platform-specific information you’ve generated to drill down further into your social media marketing strategies to see what’s working and what isn’t. By consistently evaluating the performance of your social media activities and adjusting your strategies accordingly, you’ll see an improvement in both your social network engagement levels and in your company’s bottom line.

Website Usability Testing 101

Website Usability Testing 101

Sure, your website may be beautiful, but is it doing its job when it comes to converting first time visitors into lifelong readers? If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is performing as well as it could, measure it against all of the following usability metrics:

Step #1 – Accessibility
As you might expect, a great place to start your website usability testing is to determine whether or not visitors are able to access your site in the first place! Ask yourself the following questions to minimize any such issues:

Does your website display correctly in multiple browsers?

What looks good in Chrome might not work in IE – and what looks good on your desktop might render horribly in a mobile environment. Check your website in multiple browsers at once using cross-browser compatibility testing tools like BrowserShots.

Are your load times reasonable?

Slow load times frustrate both users and the search engines alike. Make sure your site speed is up-to-par (or get recommendations on how to improve load times if necessary) by using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
Can the search engines index your content?

Plenty of different website elements can interfere with search engine indexing, which can prevent your site from receiving all of the natural search engine traffic it should. Run your website through the WebConf’s Search Engine Spider Simulator. If you don’t see your content appear as text, something in your site’s code is preventing proper indexing and must be resolved.

Step #2 – Branding Identity
Of course, website usability isn’t all about your site’s functionality. Another key component of your website’s operation is its ability to distinguish itself from other sites in order to retain readers. Here’s what you need to know:

Does your website pass the “5 second test”?

Using tools like FiveSecondTest, determine whether or not your company’s most important website elements are appropriately highlighted through your site’s design. If not, make changes and run future tests until visitors hit upon your most important content right off the bat.

Do your visual aesthetics distinguish your brand?

The importance of a site’s visual qualities can’t be understated. Use the principles of color psychology and the process of split testing to ensure that the visual aesthetics of your website don’t conflict with your brand’s identity or positioning. website navigation

Step #3 – Navigation
While it’s important to address any deficiencies in your site’s structure, it’s just as critical that users be able to find the information they’re looking for upon arriving on your website. Check your navigation before it wrecks your site’s usability.

Is your main navigation easily identifiable?

When it comes to navigation, don’t make your visitors guess! Ask friends, family members and other contacts whether or not they can immediately identify the main navigation elements of your site. If they can’t, your website visitors can’t either – meaning that a redesign is in order.

Are your links styled clearly and consistently?

Beyond your main navigation bars, internal and external links help your readers to move through your site and find the content they’re looking for. Make it clear how they should proceed by styling your links using a consistent set of colors and fonts.

Can visitors quickly identify important pages on your site?

Website visitors have notoriously short attention spans. If they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site in just a few moments, they’ll hit the “Back” button and head to your competitors’ websites. Minimize this by making key pages and key pieces of content immediately apparent through your site’s design.

Step #4 – Content
Once you’ve helped your visitors to move through your content, make it as easy as possible for them to digest the information they’ve found by optimizing your page text from a usability standpoint:
Is your content easily digestible?

Large blocks of text fail when it comes to usability. Instead, break up your content through the use of headings, sub-headings, bullet point lists, numbered lists and bolded text.

Are your critical pieces of information placed above the fold?

Don’t hide important information below the fold (that is, below the point at which a user must scroll his browser window to read more). Doing so frustrates users, leading to unnecessarily high bounce rates and low on-site engagement.

Does your page content utilize on-site SEO best practices?

Although SEO often gets a bad rap as being “scammy,” it can be used appropriately to benefit both users and the search engines. Make use of meta tags, keyword placements and internal links in accordance with current on-site SEO best practices for best results.

Though the thought of measuring all of these different website elements might seem overwhelming, don’t let this prevent you from taking action to improve your site’s usability. Addressing individual elements as your schedule permits will allow you to create a culture of continuous improvement that results in better website performance over time.