Monthly Archives : August 2020

Website Design Lexington

Breaking The Curse Of Ugly Website Design

Looking at local small businesses around Lexington and Central Kentucky, they’ve all made a wide variety of website design choices. Some of them were beautifully and skillfully crafted, and… some of them were not. But hey, there’s still hope!

In today’s digital age, having accessible online information is crucial for success. Just having a website isn’t enough, though. What matters is what’s on your website. How it looks, how easy it is to use, and how well it meets user expectations.

What Not To Do

Let’s take a look at what not to do when creating an appealing website, and I’ll show you what you should do instead along the way.

You’ve read this far for one of three reasons:

  • You want to learn how to optimize your website for the best consumer engagement and interaction
  • You’re worried that your website is ugly and came here for peace of mind that it isn’t
  • You had nothing better to do and the catchy title of this article gave you a few molecules of serotonin.

No matter the reason, you’re here for a solution, so let’s dive right in. Before we discuss any more, take a look at this website: http://thebiguglywebsite.com/. (Don’t worry, it’s safe for work!)

Are your eyes bleeding yet?

We know your website can’t possibly look this bad, and we also know that this website is TRYING to look bad. Now, what are the chances you scrolled down to see what was listed on this site? If they had a link that gave out a million dollars at the bottom, chances are that you wouldn’t have walked away with a penny.

Consumers don’t want to engage with unattractive content. Think of your own website content for a moment. If somebody looked at it and felt the same way you just felt, do you think they would stay and interact with it? Probably not.

Start by thinking of all the things you’ve hated on websites you’ve visited in the past. Chances are, one or more of these was on your list. If they weren’t, they will be now.


1. Ugly domain

Do you find it easier to go back to a website with a simple domain like website.com (an example), or do you prefer to type in totallyradwebsite123.com/data0=184/net%/main%home%page

Lexington website design ugly url

Or would you rather just type totallyradwebsite.com?

Google Searches

You may be saying, “But hey, I just Google the name and click on the link!” Sure that might work for you, but would you be happy having to find your favorite and most visited websites by Googling them every single day? You’re better off having a website that people can remember if they choose to. A URL that people can type directly into their browser.

A consumer’s first impression of a website is largely design-related, which includes a neat and tidy domain. An easily-remembered domain name also means they can pass on your website through word of mouth – typing it to their friends, or saying it aloud for them to write down.

2. Long loading times

Lexington web design slow loading time

The loading wheel of death!

Consumers hate waiting. This is the digital age of instant information. It takes consumers only a split second to form an opinion about your website. That tiny amount of time shouldn’t be spent on a blank loading screen! Even worse than that, if there is a long loading time every time a consumer tries to interact with your website or navigate the different pages, they are going to get increasingly annoyed.

Here is the worst case scenario:

You have a consumer in Lexington who is ready to buy from your online shop, they start gathering up products into their cart, but your website design was so slow they get fed up with waiting and instead buy from your competitor. Want to avoid the tragedy?

Keep it fast!

3. Complicated or overwhelming interface

Does your website have too many buttons on it? Are people being bombarded with information? People are being trained to ignore huge amounts of website content due to websites crawling with ads. Keep it simple and focus on important topics or focal points that they can engage with. With plenty of consumers abandoning a site due to poor design, you can’t afford to hide your crucial information in text-garbage. Don’t lose consumers because they can’t find where you hid the crucial information on your jumbled page.

4. Automatic music or videos

Many people listen to music while they work or surf in their free time. If you’ve ever noticed a little speaker icon on the right side of your internet tabs, it means that sound is coming from that page. Many people’s first instinct is to kill that tab because it’s forcing disruptive sound onto their experience! Autoplaying audio or visual content can cause valuable consumers to leave your site.

If you have videos on your main page, great! Just make sure you let people click the play button on their own. At the very least, it will give consumers a chance to silence their other music and video sources before they listen.

Ale-8-One Website

5. Website doesn’t scale

Do you always look at a website on your computer, or do you sometimes use your phone or tablet? Don’t you hate it when you’re interacting with website content on your phone and you have to scroll all the way to the right to read the full line and then scroll all the way back for the next line?

It’s terrible!

Make sure your website bends and twists to fit every screen—this is called responsive web design, and it’s very important. If people don’t realize your website actually operates differently on their smaller screen, you’ve done something right.

6. Irrelevant Content

Website content needs to be geared toward making the consumer want to interact and engage with it. The topics, therefore, have to stay on-topic to what your website is generally about! This is both good for web design, and for general SEO purposes as well.

If you run a law firm out of Lexington, then your website design should focus on law-related topics, and Lexington-centric law topics if you have them! One mistake many new website creators make is posting anything that comes to mind, which makes the site more confusing for new visitors. If you want to talk about personal topics, or opinions about local news, have a different site for that.

 


Your website content is one of your most important marketing tools. Whether or not people engage can mean the difference between one dollar and one million dollars in revenue. Whether you live in Lexington, Lancaster, or a little lake town, it’s worth it to take the time to make your website design beautiful.

If you liked this article, check out our other articles on business tips for website design, marketing, advertising, and social media. You can also reach out to us here or on Facebook for questions or project ideas.

5 easy tips to climb search rankings

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Search Ranking

Let’s dive into these easy ways that businesses can increase search ranking.

We aren’t saying that you’ll appear at the top of the search results in a couple days, but we do guarantee that using these tips will help a business climb search rankings on all major search engines over time. Persistence and patience are key factors in search engine optimization, and while it won’t happen overnight, keeping these best practices top of mind will help your content rank.


Tip 1: keyword planning

It all starts with keyword planning

Businesses with great content on their websites tend to appear at the top of the search results, and great content has a focus on keywords. Before a webpage is created, your business must first determine what word or words you want to rank for. Keyword planning is not simple, especially for businesses that don’t understand how to plan. Your business cannot simply pick a word, type it a bunch of times and cross your fingers to appear at the top of Google search rankings. Search engines are not fooled by this. Keyword density is important, but it’s not the only thing that the search algorithms consider when ranking pages in search results, especially with new progress with Google’s RankBrain. There are many factors that affect local search, and it’s important to dominate the ones you have control of.

Make target keywords niche, targeted and relevant

When keyword planning, be sure to use niche words, and target keywords that are relevant enough to get your business appearing in front of the right people online. If your local company wants to appear to the right local audience, you must be specific to your community. A local windshield repair company is going to have a hard time appearing for the keyword “windshield.” It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult for local companies to appear in the top few results for broad focused keywords. There is a much better chance to appear at the top of the search results if the keywords are narrowed down.

Keyword planning example

For example, a windshield company in Buffalo, New York wants to appear in front of local customers who may have a crack or chip in their window. They’d be much more successful aiming to rank for “rock chip repair in Buffalo” rather than the word “windshield.”

keyphrase search rankings increase


Tip 2: strengthen meta descriptions

Meta descriptions should contain your keywords

A meta description is a small description of what your webpage contains, it’s basically a summary of your business’s webpage in ~160 characters. These too must have a focus on keywords, and for smaller businesses such as local windshield repair companies, it’s important to have the right keywords in the meta description.

Meta description example

keyword increase search rankings

To keep this example consistent, “rock chip repair in Buffalo” was set as the Google search terms to see which businesses appear in the search results. It’s always a good idea to look at the business that appears first, see how they are doing it, and try to better their meta description.

In this case, this local windshield repair company that clearly knows what they are doing! As you look above, you can see that the meta description contains most of the words that we searched for. This is a fantastic way to target the specific search query of “rock chip repair in Buffalo” and to get frantic drivers with broken windshields through a business’s front door.

Help guide customers from page to page

Proper meta descriptions not only help in search result rankings, but they also give your prospective customers a summary of exactly what they may be looking for. Customers want it easy, they don’t want to spend a long time browsing for repair shops—they want to find answers easily and the solutions fast.


Tip 3: be unique

Search engine bots search for unique content

Another easy way to increase your search rank is to make something new, that no one’s seen before! It’s tough for your business to be unique from the fifty other local companies that compete in your company’s industry. However, the content on your business’s website should aim to be unique and somewhat different from the rest in order to stand out in the search rankings. The reason being  that Google and other search engines search for original content when their bots are crawling sites. This means every site in a specific industry that has similar webpage copy will likely blend in, and the bots won’t declare those pages as original or unique. Don’t expect a local business page to appear high on the search rankings if it sounds exactly like every other local business page!


Tip 4: stay active everywhere online

The more online activity, the better

You business has to stay active online if you want to climb search rankings, make a name for yourself on places other than your company website. Your business can improve your local search by using data aggregators, or you can manually create listings on tons of directory sites.

Online mentions increase search engine influence

One thing many smaller businesses fail to understand is that business pages on reputable websites are so important! Social platforms like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn are an easy way for your business to index your name. They will help spread your brand across various sources on the web. Likewise, review sites are hugely important! The more your business is mentioned online, the greater the influence you will have on search rankings.


Tip 5: blog

Blogs help keep web content fresh

Blogs are not only fun to write, but also a way to continuously produce new website content. Google’s algorithm specifically calls for continuous web content. If your business wants to appear high on the search rankings, it needs to produce content. Google is pushing web developers and content writers to keep websites from getting irrelevant or outdated, making content marketing a healthy company strategy.

Blog with a strategy in mind

Your business should establish a blog plan, no matter the industry. If that same windshield repair company in Buffalo New York wanted to blog, maybe they’d write about the “Top 10 windshield crack horror stories.” Or, they might write “How a rock chip ruined this man’s day.” These types of articles are relevant to their industry, and are loaded with keywords about their business. Tools such as WordPressMedium and Ghost are all super useful in order to easily get started with blog publishing.

A blog presents a huge opportunity

It could be a funny blog, education on a topic, or serious industry stories. As long as the content that is being produced has a focus on their respective business industry. That’s just one example, but there are tons of opportunities for businesses in any specific industry. Don’t believe us that blogging is important? Here’s 58 reasons why businesses should run a blog. As long as your content is interesting, you’re golden.


Conclusion: content is key

Whether it’s keyword planning or great meta descriptions, it all involves the production of content. Remember to include writing original content and blogging as well!  Content is key when you want to increase your search ranking. Implement these strategies and monitor your rankings. There are a variety of SEO tools, both free and paid that your business can use to do so. While your rankings won’t shoot up overnight, your business has a huge opportunity to increase your search engine rankings.

When you want to increase your search rankings, focus on educating, entertaining, or offering a helpful resource.

 

 

Like these tips? Read some of our other free resources for local businesses!

Social Media copyright

Copyright Online and Fair Use in Social Media

With the online world being dominated by images, what do you need to know as a business owner when it comes to social media copyright laws?

Sharing Images on Social

Visuals are huge in the social media world, particularly for businesses. Here’s a quick run-down.

  1. On average, content with relevant images has 94% more total views than content without (Jeff Bullas)
  2. Compared to other types of content, visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media (Ethos3)
  3. Facebook posts with images can receive 2.3x more engagement than text posts (BuzzSumo)

A couple things can be seen here. First, using images in your social media communications is critical to its success. Second, social media is the driving force behind the huge amount of photos being shared online every second. The world is on track to share over 2.5 trillion photos online by the end of this year!

Social Media Copyright Risks

Because online culture evolves so quickly, the laws of the land are constantly shifting to the most recent trends in online activity.

This is especially true regarding copyright online and fair use on social media. Both of these have yet to become clearly defined for the digital age. Fortunately, even online, by sticking to the basic foundations of copyright law you will be protected in most cases

💡 This post focuses on copyright laws as they pertain to Canada and the United States.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is: “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).” Its purpose is to strike a balance between protecting the author of a work, and serving the public interest.

It offers the owner exclusive rights over their work. Copyright owners can:

  • Reproduce the copyrighted work
  • Create derivative works based on the copyrighted work
  • Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale, transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending
  • Perform and/or display the copyrighted work publicly (copyright.gov)

Copyright is determined on a case-by-case basis, which makes it difficult to identify any clear-cut examples of infringement that could be applied to other cases seen in social media.

Creative Commons and Free Use

On the other end of the spectrum, “creative commons” work is always free to use. This dedication means that an author has dedicated their original work to the public domain, waiving all rights to their work worldwide under copyright law.

This work is free to “copy, modify, distribute and perform, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission” (Creative Commons). Sites like Pixabay or Flickr find photos that are released under Creative Commons! These photos require no attribution (credit to the author/source) and they are free to use. Large networks of people volunteer their photos to be put into sources like that, for the benefit of everyone.

Internet Memes and Copyright Online

There are so many kinds of memes that may or may not infringe copyright online. Lumping them all into one category and stamping them with “approved” or “rejected” ink just doesn’t work. If you are curious about the memes you’re sharing, and how they fall under copyright law, here is a quick guide.

Types of Memes

Memes can range from the popular “image macros,” to silly sentences repeated across the web. Obviously, catch phrases, hashtags and other word-based memes have no real copyright risk. It’s the visual and image macro memes that may pose a problem. Specifically, image macros that depict copyrighted characters and productions.

Pop Culture Memes

Let’s say, for simplicity’s sake, that most memes are fair use. I mean, no one is going to come after you for throwing a “damn, Daniel!” into one of your Facebook posts. The memes that may pose an issue are those that pull images from pop culture, like Futurama Fry or Boromir’s “one does not simply” meme. These character stills are pulled from pop culture media and turned into memes, yet the characters depicted are owned by a specific brand or company.

 

Could using a pop culture meme that depicts a copyrighted work or character result in a lawsuit? Yes.

copyright infringement meme

Is it likely to? No.

But when it comes to commercial use of memes, it’s good to err on the side of caution, and avoid posting pop culture memes that clearly depict copyrighted works.

 

Memes in Social Advertising

Using memes for social advertising is the surest way to cause problems with copyright when it comes to sharing memes. Posting a meme is relatively harmless, but using it in advertising is a whole different story.

Advertising is not protected by fair use, and so any direct promotion of your company/brand with the use of memes, or using memes for profit, can get you legal heat.

If you’re thinking “that’s silly, who would punish me for selling a t-shirt with a picture of a particularly grumpy cat?” I understand where you’re coming from, but Grumpy Cat has a company that’s ready to protect its property (which is, weirdly enough, a mean looking cat).

General Rule for Copyright Online

Just keep in mind that the rules of fair use and copyright online are often left up to interpretation. Still, assume that all images and videos found online are protected by copyright. Always check if the image is explicitly labeled as being free to use by the owner. Ultimately, it’s up to the author of the work to enforce copyright law if they find that their work is being used without permission.

The next time you decide to use any content that isn’t yours, ask yourself:

  1. Do I have permission to use this image (or is it free to use)?
  2. If not, does my usage fall under “fair use”?
  3. Is using this content worth the potential legal consequences?

Inevitably, copyright laws and content sharing practices will change with the evolution of social media trends.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it may cost you a lot more if used without permission.