How an outdated website is hurting your business

Do any of these sound familiar?

You haven’t updated your website since the early-mid 2000's

Your company has evolved

Your audience has evolved

How people use the internet has changed (fundamentally!)

If you don’t understand how an outdated website is hurting your business, you could be leaving money on the table (or driving it straight to your competitors).

In many cases, your website is your first point of contact with prospects and it is being used to shape the perception of value and quality you offer. Your website is being used as a tool to form assumptions on you, your company, your products and services before deciding whether or not to take the next step whether that be a phone call, request for quote or purchase.

Let’s look at how an outdated site might be hurting not only your business, but your reputation and credibility (ouch!).

Complacency is a killer

When you land on a site that looks like it hasn’t been touched in 5+ years, you assume some things.

“Business must be slow for these guys. It doesn’t look like they’ve touched their site in 5 years.”

“I wonder if they’re still in business?”

or…

“It doesn’t seem like these guys would be in-the-know”

And before you know it, they’ve hit BACK and you’ve lost the sale.

It takes less than 4 seconds for site visitors to form a first impression about your business and, once that impression is made they will either stay and explore what you have to offer, or they will leave and take their business straight to your competitors. It happens that quickly.

Hands up who’s exited a website before it’s even had time to load 🙋. Add to this a horribly out of date website design and things aren’t looking so good for your credibility.

When your website looks ignored, is out of date or looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90’s (the box design, cliche or pixelated images and fonts are a dead giveaway), it sends a message to your visitors.

People want to buy from businesses that know how to deliver the goods or service in the best way possible. Your outdated site may not only make you look like you are out of touch with advancements in your industry, but that you simply don’t care. And that’s not the impression you want to give when you’re working tirelessly behind the scenes to continue to drive the dollar and have a profitable business to one day hand over, or sell.

We get it, some businesses (especially those who may be less tech-savvy) find it easier to provide quality customer service in-person, but with the ever increasing rate of searches taking place online (and predominantly via mobile), it is vital your online experience is just as good as the experience they will receive offline - otherwise there is a clear disconnect.

With a vast array of screen sizes from phones to laptops and tablets, it’s important to make sure that your site is adaptive and responsive to all devices. There’s nothing more annoying for a customer than to have to continually stretch, pinch or scroll a screen simply to see content or worse, get no response when they try to navigate between pages or make contact with your business. Add to this a 4 second chance to make a good impression (as we just spoke about) and Google’s mobile first index and you’re suddenly wondering how you even get any traffic (let alone enquiries) at all!

If you’re wanting people to find you online, then ensure they can do this seamlessly on any device. To see how responsive your website is, enter your URL in to this handy tool: http://ami.responsivedesign.is/

Simply put, a responsive web design leads to a good user experience, and you will also earn Google’s favour which will lead to greater rewards (and higher rankings).

Another key identifier of your site being out of date, is that it falls in to the ‘pretty brochure of information’ type of website. Remember, people are looking for solutions to their problems - it’s how they’ve come to land on your website in the first place. When you neglect something as important as your website, your visitors may be thinking that you neglect other areas of your business. Instead, use your website as a tool to empathise with your audience, find the pain points that trouble your average customer and clearly demonstrate how your business will remove them.

If the information customers want isn’t available on your site, they’ll go elsewhere. If however, you can move them by speaking their language, chances are you’ll move them a step closer to becoming a long-term customer.

So how do you know if you have an outdated website?

If your website features any of the following, it might be time to think about investing in a new website:

  • Your website uses Flash
  • Is not responsive or mobile friendly
  • No current way to edit or manage the admin
  • You don’t have Google Analytics installed
  • Excessive or obvious use of stock photography (i.e. lady with headset or handshake stock photos)
  • Box design that puts all your content above the fold
  • Pixelated or blurry images
  • Huge uncompressed image files
  • Low word counts on key pages
  • No clear call to action
  • Out of date products, services or no recent examples of work
  • Former employees still listed (or new employees not yet listed)
  • Too many sidebars or widgets
  • Unnecessary page clutter
  • Auto-play videos
  • Background music
  • Huge uncompressed image files
  • Excessive image borders
  • Broken links, images or logo

If you’ve let things fall to the wayside and think it's time to invest in your business for the future, read our handy post 5 Things To Think About Before Doing A Website Redesign here.

Final thought.

An outdated website limits your ability to reach and engage with your audience. An updated site is secure, displays text and pictures easily, loads across platforms and designed to generate more traffic and leads. If you’re not getting the traffic or conversion your business requires, let's talk about how we can fix that.


Do you want to speed up your WordPress site?

Speeding up your website offers a wide range of benefits for your business - faster loading pages will:

  • Increase pageviews
  • Improve user experience
  • Assist with your WordPress SEO

Why does your website need to load quickly

You have a matter of seconds to highlight your offering and your content and convince visitors to stay on your website, to engage and to convert.

A slow loading website means visitors will potentially click off your website before it even loads - meaning they will see/read nothing about you.

According to a StrangeLoop case study, a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

Add to that, Google and other search engines have already started penalising slower websites. How? They are pushing them down in the search results which means lower traffic for slow loading websites. If you want more traffic, subscribers, advocates and website generated revenue - then you need your WordPress website to load and load fast.

So, how do you make your site load faster?

There’s quite a few things you can do in order to speed up the load time of your web pages and they are all easy - aka no coding required.

  • Install a WordPress caching plugin
  • Optimise images
  • Ensure your website is updated regularly
  • Optimise the background processes
  • Don’t upload video and/or audio files directly to your website
  • Use a theme which is optimised for speed
  • Use faster plugins
  • Use a CDN (content delivery network)
  • Use excerpts on archives and homepage
  • Divide comments into pages
  • Divide long posts into pages

And now it gets a little trickier aka you may need some technical assistance to implement the following:

  • Reduce database calls and external HTTP requests
  • Optimise your WordPress database
  • Limit the post revisions
  • Ensure you are using the latest PHP version
  • Disable hotlinking and leeching of content
  • Use lazy loading and a DNS level website firewall
  • Fix any HTTPS/SSL security errors

If you need help to determine if your website is, in fact, loading slowly and then how to fix that just get in touch with the Digibrand team today.


Website ‘not secure’? Here’s how to deal with it

Google Chrome browser update (version 68) bought about a new ‘not secure’ warning in the URL address bar. Essentially, this warning is shown wherever you visit an insecure web page. It signifies a lack of security for the connection to that web page - it’s telling you that info sent and received with that web page is unprotected and you run the risk that it could be modified, read and/or stolen.

The ‘not secure’ warning appears on all web pages using the HTTP protocol and where a secure connection is not possible. It does not mean that the website is affected by malware.

Websites have been transitioning to HTTPS (note the S) which is used by millions and millions of websites and does provide security to protect your data while you browse, log on and make online purchases.

If you do see the ‘not secure’ warning on a webpage you own provided over HTTP we suggest enabling the HTTPS protocol for your website. What is it? HTTPS used the SSL/TLS to offer a secure connection which is authenticated and encrypted. You can use this protocol by purchasing an SSL certificate which you then install to enable it on your web server.

We suggest starting out by assessing if your site currently has any support for HTTPS - some have partial support. If partial support exists look into how to deploy HTTPS across your entire website (or by default).

If HTTPS is not deployed at all get assistance about the SSL certificate you will need - this will depend on the number of domain names you operate and other issues such as if your business needs to be validated for additional user trust.

As all the big web browser players - Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Google Chrome move to a user interface that will warn website visitors of insecure web pages it’s important to more to HTTPS - for security and a better user experience.

To get assistance on HTTPS protocol for your website just contact the Digibrand team today.


How to optimise WordPress website images

We can all agree that website images have the ability to grab a reader’s attention, break up large chunks of text and enhance the likelihood of content being share across the internet. Sadly, images will also increase the load time of your web pages which, in turn, increases the likelihood visitors will leave your site. Add to this; too many images can significantly increase your bandwidth. Not such a big deal when you first start out but can increase your hosting costs in the long run. So, how do you optimise WordPress website images to ensure both bandwidth and load times are considering?

File Formats

The most commonly used file formats online are JPEG and PNG with GIF to a lesser extent:

  • JPEGS are better suited for photography due to the number of colours they contain. This format uses compression in order to reduce file size.
  • PNGs are more suited to screenshots and website design images such as icons and buttons. Using lossless compression techniques the quality is better, but this also means larger file sizes.
  • GIFs are better suited for low quality images with only a few colours. This format is best known as the file format for animated files.

Optimising images before uploading

You can adjust the sizes of images as you see choose or you can configure WordPress to create:

  • 150×150 pixel thumbnail image
  • 300×200 pixel medium image
  • Or, 600×600 pixel large image

If you uploaded an image that was 1000 pixels wide, you could display the large image in your article and link to the full size image. This is exactly what many website owners do although it’s not always the best course of action. The file size of thumbnail images will be smaller however it won’t be compressed.

A much more effective method is to optimise images BEFORE uploading them to the website. Most editing software and platforms allow you to reduce the size/compress the image for use online.

Optimising images after uploading

There are many plugins available which allow you to optimise your images after you have uploaded them to your website. While not ideal - it can save time. Plugins, such as Smush.it, allow you to optimise by converting GIF files to PNG, removing meta-data, optimising JPEG compression and more.

The importance of optimising your images should not be underestimated - it will reduce your page loading time, reduce bandwidth and improve your website experience for visitors. Just keep in mind that compressing image will reduce both the file size and the quality of the image - here’s where creating balance is of the utmost importance.


4 Essential Steps to Brand Strategy

Let’s start with what will happen if you don’t have a concise brand strategy; you won’t have clear marketing goals for your business. It will be tricky for your clients/customers to understand what you stand for, what you can provide, what solution you can offer. A defined brand strategy provides clarity - for your business’ way forward and for your clients/customers way to you.

What is a brand strategy?

It’s your plan of how you will define, create and share your brand with the world. And, it’s about more than just your logo; it’s the customer experience and the quality of your offering (products and services) to.

A clearly defined and consistently executed brand strategy will assist with:

  • Improved sales
  • Stable business growth
  • Setting you apart from the competition
  • Attracting more clients/customers
  • Decrease confusion about your brand
  • Increase trust and customer loyalty

Within your business, a brand strategy will keep everyone involved stay on the same page, maintain a sense of purpose and increase feelings of inclusion and productivity.

So, regardless of whether you’re a start-up that’s branding for the first time or ready for a rebrand after a while in your industry, a brand strategy is essential, and here are the four essential steps to creating it.

1. Clients/Customers first - always

Sure, your brand strategy is designed to support your business however, if you create and implement a customer-centric strategy you’re more likely to succeed. Focus clearly on what your clients/customers need and want - this will foster customer loyalty and repeat patronage. Remembering that it’s often more efficient to retain a client than constantly searching out and converting new ones.

How do you have a customer-centric brand? Be relevant, showcase personalised content and really get to know your audience.

2. Be consistent

Inconsistency confuses everyone - your customers, your potential customers, even your own team. If you use different logos, fonts, colours, packaging without an identifiable theme you will lose sales. Consistency across your branding will increase your visibility and, by default, increase your sales and profits.

Keep in mind that consistency goes far beyond looks (visual elements). Be consistent across your values - if you promote that you’re eco-friendly - prove it in across your communications, products, packaging etc.

How do you maintain consistency? Create branding guidelines, keep them up-to-date and ensure every single person involved in your marketing efforts has a copy and adheres to it. Your branding guidelines should include everything from the tone of voice to use when writing social media posts, to how, where and when to use the logo.

3. Be emotional

While it might sound odd, being emotional in business is a game changer. Learning about your customers’ emotions and leveraging that knowledge is a massive leap towards creating brand loyalty. And that loyalty creates sales, repeat custom, and advocates for your business (think referrals and free exposure).

How do you encourage an emotional connection? Be authentic - across the board. From how you respond to customer service enquiries to the copy on your About Us web page - it’s important to be sincere. Your brand will appear more relatable and accessible if you use a conversational, friendly tone of voice in all of your communications. Highlight those things/issues/views that are important - when your values and your customers’ values align you are likely to create a connection.

4. Keep an eye on the competition

When you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ brands then you can apply those findings (both good and bad) to your own brand. Example - if something is lacking in your competitor’s customer service, perhaps that’s where you can step up. If your competitor is doing something great, then perhaps you could become better, fantastic at it.

How do you keep an eye on your competitors? Undertake some competitive analysis - pop onto their websites, scope their social media accounts. If they have a physical shopfront - go in for a visit. Try to understand how their brand makes you feel and the quality of their customer service offering.

A clear brand strategy can be an integral part of improving the success of your business. A definite plan will easily communicate what your business is about and where you’re headed. For help with creating your essential brand strategy, contact the team at Digibrand.


Google Maps widget stopped working?

If you are using a standard widget by Google or some other plugin with Google Maps API by side developers, then starting July, 16 you may find that Google Maps are not working on your website.

That’s because Google recently announced the launch of their new Google Maps Platform and pricing structure for businesses making use of the Google Maps APIs to deliver customised Maps, Routes and Places experiences on their website. While the product updates rolled out on 11th June, the new pricing structure took effect on 16th July - forcing many websites using the Google Maps API to display a ‘development purposes only’ watermarked message.

The newly-named Google Maps Platform is being brought under the Google Cloud umbrella and consists of three core products: Maps (for delivering customised dynamic maps, Street Views and 360° views), Routes (directions and traffic) and Places (location names, addresses, reviews etc). Each has its own pricing structure which you can find here.

For many businesses, you’ll continue to pay nothing under the new ‘pay-as-you-go’ system as you will qualify for the first $200 worth of free API calls. However, you still have to create an account and provide Google with billing details to keep using the APIs. This is applicable to all users – even those with a simple map embedded on their website’s contact page. To set up your account, click here.

Under the new pricing strategy employed by Google for their Maps Platform – all users get to make $200-worth of API calls for free each month.

That works out to:

  • up to 28,000 free loads of Dynamic Maps; or
  • up to 100,000 free loads of Static Maps; or
  • up to 40,000 free Directions calls; or
  • up to 40,000 free Geolocation calls.

Importantly, the new pricing system allows unlimited free use of simple Dynamic Maps in Embeds and in Mobile Native apps. However, if you use the Embed API in Directions, Views or Search mode, you will be eligible for billing.

For more information or if you would like Digibrand to assist you to set up your Google Maps Platform account, simply drop us an email to [email protected].


Google rolls out Mobile First Index

While we’ve been warned since 2016 about this, finally Google is rolling out its Mobile First Index.

What is Mobile First Index?

Mobile-first indexing means Google will use the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking in order to assist primary mobile users find what they are searching for online.

Primary mobile refers to the fact that the majority of people using Google search as doing so from a mobile device. Essentially, soon there will be only one index for search result - so not a mobile-first index and a main index - so Google will begin to look only at the mobile web pages to index the web rather than the desktop version.

What does this mean for websites? Well, you now must have a mobile friendly or mobile responsive website in order to be indexing and ranked by Google.

What is responsive design?

Simply put, it is when a website is responsive - so the layout and/or contents of your website respond or adapt based on the size of the screen on which they are presented. Typically there are four general screen sizes that responsive design are aimed at - widescreen desktop monitor, the smaller or laptop screen, the tablet and the smartphone.

How is this different from adaptive design?

There are three main techniques for serving up mobile content - responsive design, adaptive design (which is also known as dynamic serving) and separate mobile URLs. It’s pretty easy to identify separate mobile URLs by looking at your browser’s address bar however telling adaptive from responsive can be a little trickier.

Adaptive websites detect when the reader is on a mobile device and presents a different HTML accordingly.

Responsive websites will change the layout based on browser window size, regardless of device.

If you’re not sure if your website is adaptive or responsive then you can visit your website on a desktop and see what happens when you resize your browser window. Then you can check and see what is displayed on your mobile device.

When getting your website ready for the mobile first index, here’s a checklist for you:

Refine your visuals

Creativity is great, but don’t try to be super creative and use all the design principles at once. When a user sees too many objects of differing colours and styles on a tiny mobile screen, it can make their head spin. In other words, they simply leave your site. Quality design is never loud. It’s sensible, and it guides the user through your site. Minimalism is the key to a great mobile site.

Reduce redundant content

Though the screen sizes of mobile devices have grown larger, they’re still smaller than laptop or desktop screens. It’s important not to crowd a small screen. The fewer the text and visual elements on a mobile site, the easier it is to navigate.

This is especially important for people on the go — while shopping or glancing at a screen while on the train commute.

Be thumb friendly

What’s the most important action that a user can take on your site? Is it making a purchase? Or liking a post? Or reading a specific text? Make sure that this action can be accomplished with only a thumb.

To accommodate more information on a small screen, some designers mash links and buttons right up against each other. Unfortunately, this often leads to unintended button presses and frustrates your users!

Prioritise and make your most important call to action buttons large enough so that users can click on them without zooming and having to use their pinky.

Speed things up

Mobile users care a lot about a website’s load speed. They get irritated if your pages take more than a few seconds to open. When designing for mobile, keep in mind that some users may have slow internet connections.

Quite often a page’s speed is held back by data-intensive image or video content. Optimising your images will vastly improve your page load time.


Local SEO - how to rank for local searches, SEO basics and tips

If you are a local business and you want to be noticed, not just in person, but in search engines too, then you need to understand Local SEO. Without utilising a Local SEO plan you simply won’t be able to take advantage of local, online demand for your services and product.

What exactly is Local SEO?

It’s a branch of Search Engine Optimisation that specifically deals with SEO for local businesses. And, an effective Local SEO campaign will help your business to appear on page 1 of Google searches - in the Map Pack and Organic Listings.

20 years ago SEO was simple - there really wasn’t much difference between general SEO and Local SEO but times have changed. Now, there are all nuances the exactly and exclusively affect your Local SEO.

If you’re not leveraging Local SEO just imagine all the traffic and potential customers you could be missing out on. And this is why Local SEO is so important - you want locals to be able to find you online, in search results, on Google.

Local SEO isn’t a fad - it’s only set to become more important with the expected, continued rise in mobile device usage.

Now while Local SEO might seem a bit techy, a bit overwhelming it is almost always cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing. And in all honesty - it’s really not that techy at all.

Benefits of Local SEO over traditional marketing:

  • Everything with a Local SEO campaign is trackable - you’ll know exactly what is and isn’t working
  • It requires a lower level of investment to set up and continues to yield returns
  • You can track how much traffic, leads and customers are coming from Local SEO and organic searches

So, how do you get started with Local SEO?

Find the keywords you want to target and rank for - local and longtail keywords

  • Create a unique landing page for each product or service you offer.
  • Write original content that answers people’s questions and links back to your core sales pages.
  • Avoid being spammy and don’t “stuff” your keywords in a repetitive manner all over a page. Google understands synonyms, so vary your language naturally.

Use your keywords for effective onsite optimisation

  • Use keywords in URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, image alt text, headers and paragraphs (especially the first paragraph).

Proactively work on link building

  • Take advantage of all free social media listings, even if you don’t plan to use that specific platform. Your business should links from the following at the very least: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.
  • Reach out to other blogs/sites for guest posting.
  • Have you received any media mentions? Make sure other sites link to yours wherever your brand is mentioned.
  • Create accurate, up-to-date info on business directing listings, and be sure to include a link to your website.

Get your Google My Business page up to date and ask for Google reviews

  • Verify your Google My Business page, if you haven’t already.
  • Make sure your Google My Business page contains accurate information. Your business name, address, phone number, main email, hours and website should be standard across the web.

Create, post, and promote unique, high-quality, original content

  • Write good quality content and keep publishing it on a fairly regular basis (at least once per month, but ideally more). Don’t bother just writing filler.
  • All else being equal, a higher word count is better for SEO, so write the most authoritative blog post you can on any topic you’re covering.

Use website analytics to measure your results

  • Make use of free tools like Google Search Console so you can easily tell where you stand and where you can improve.

Have a snappy and mobile responsive website that loads quickly

  • Think Mobile First, Not Just Mobile-Friendly - more than half of all daily Google searches are performed on mobile. That means you can’t afford to neglect the mobile version of your site – in fact, it ought to be a priority.

What's all this talk about GDPR and what it means for your business

Let’s start at the very beginning - what is the GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is European Union legislation that commenced being enforced on May 25, 2018, however its purpose can be summarised very simply:

Its aim is to strengthen the rights of data subjects within the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) with regard to how their personal data is used and how it’s protected. (‘Personal data’ means any information that relates to an identified or identifiable natural person).

To that end, the GDPR is structured around six key principles:

  1. Transparency on how data will be used and what it will be used for.
  2. Ensuring that the data collected is used only for the purposes explicitly specified at the time of collection.
  3. Limiting the data collection to what is necessary to serve the purpose for which it is collected.
  4. Ensuring the data is accurate.
  5. Storing the data for only as long as necessary within its intended purpose.
  6. Prevention against unauthorized use or accidental loss of the data through the deployment of appropriate security measures.

In addition, there is a new accountability requirement to be able to demonstrate how compliance with the principles is being managed and tracked. This will mean maintaining records of how and why personal data was collected as well as the documentation of the processes put in place to protect it.

Who does GDPR apply to?

The GDPR applies to any organisation inside or outside the EU who is marketing goods or services to, and/or tracking the behaviours of, data subjects within the EU and EEA. If you do business with Europeans that involves the processing of their personal data, this legislation applies to you.

Penalties for non-compliance are significant, with large fines for those in breach of the regulation: the maximum fine for a single breach is €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater.

What does this mean for your business?

As businesses, if we create customer experiences that feel personal and human, that are founded on trust and delivered with care, we will win their hearts and minds.

Though the GDPR doesn’t use these terms our goals are the same, namely to respect the rights of our customers and go on to earn their trust. To build and maintain that trust we, as businesses, need to be attuned to the how, when, and why our customers want to be engaged and respect their preferences.

How you address these higher expectations around the collection, use, and security of the personal data that we routinely use in the course of our business is key.

There are two key aspects of the GDPR where businesses need to review past, current, and future practices. The first is consent by the individual to process their personal data and the second is accountability, namely being able to demonstrate how they comply with the principles of the GDPR.

Consent

The definition of consent under the GDPR is: “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”.

This dual need for an ‘affirmative action’ that captures consent which also must be ‘specific’ in how the personal data will be used before any processing of the data represents a significant change for most marketers in how they record and respect customer preferences.

Of course, customer preferences change over time and rarely exist in perpetuity and GDPR has something to say about this too—namely that organisations must make it easy for data subjects to make any changes in preference or withdraw consent altogether. Essentially it must now be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

All businesses need to audit, identify, and review the current points at which they are collecting personal data for processing.

Consider what personal data you need to do business and create relationships, how long you need to hold that data, how safe and secure it is, how you will accept specific consent and how you delete that data once there is no further need for it or a customer withdraws consent.

Accountability

The most significant addition to current legislation under the GDPR is the accountability principle. The GDPR requires you to show how you comply with the principles—for example, by documenting the decisions you make about a processing activity.