10 Features Your Small Business Website Must Have

designing-site

No small business today can survive without a well-designed website. Yet, many people remain confused on how to get started with their website’s design. Every website starts with some basic characteristics.

Getting Started

1. Domain Name: The first thing that you will need is a domain name that is brandable so that people instantly know that it is your company when they see the domain. Domain names also need to be:

  • Short
  • Pronounceable
  • Not Easily Confused with Others
  • Provides an Idea of Your Company Does
  • Uses keywords when Possible

Once you have created a list of possible domain names, then purchase one as soon as possible using a service like. Unless you can afford to pay millions to create your own top-level domain, then stick with .com to build customer trust.

Above the Fold

The area first visible when visiting a webpage is call the area above the fold. This area is critical for capturing the customer’s attention, since it is the first thing they see. Therefore, it is essential to use this area to give viewers exactly what they expect, tell them what you want them to do and build their trust level. Here are some of the important elements that should be included in this section:

Your logo and a phone number are two of the most essential elements that should be included in your above the fold design.

Your logo and a phone number are two of the most essential elements that should be included in your above the fold design.

  1. Your Company Logo: If you’re not ready to invest in an expensive branding campaign, there are several free resources available for designing your own logo. com allows you to choose graphics and insert text to create your very own design.
  2. Your Tag Line: Otherwise known as your company’s slogan, should be located under your logo.
  3. An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu: It’s important that users can easily navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. At a minimum, include navigation for an “About Us”, “Locations”, “Services”, and “Contact” page.
  4. Breadcrumb Navigation: This type of navigation is optional, but is beneficial because it helps users see where they’ve navigated. Follow the link for more information on breadcrumb navigation
  5. Contact Information: Your contact information should be easy to spot. We recommend putting your phone number in large font that stands out in the upper right hand corner of your header.
  6. Call to Action: Engage users and prompt them to make a purchase with a call to action This could say something like “Call Now!”, “Get a Free Quote”, or “Sign Up Now”.
  7. Reviews: Add reviews from real customers to your sidebar using a widget that incorporates reviews from Yelp or other platforms.

When designing this part of your website, it is crucial to remember that if you do not capture the viewer’s attention quickly, they will likely move on to your competitor’s site.

Below the Fold

9. Content: Once you’ve tackled the above the fold information, it’s time to focus below the fold. This area is all about quality content meant to sell the customer on the good or service your company provides. All great copy shares some common characteristics:

  • Original: Invest time or money in writing original content about your business. Not only will this help the reader understand what sets you apart, it’s also essential to avoid duplicate content if you want to rank in search engine results.
  • Contains a Strong Headline: Headlines help summarize sections so readers can easily digest the main points you’re trying to convey.
  • Actionable: Make sure your content encourages readers to act.
  • Provides Answers to Viewer’s Problems: For example, if your target audience is looking for cleaning services, convince them that you have the perfect solution.
  • Accurate: Don’t oversell and underdeliver. Be accurate with describing the services that your company can provide.
  • Engaging: Boring content will make people bounce faster than a kangaroo. Make things interesting to keep them reading.
  • Focused: Don’t ramble. Communicate your message clearly and concisely without getting off topic.
  • Communicates with the Targeted Audience: Make sure your content is geared towards your target audience.
  • Points Readers to Internal Pages: Provide helpful links to other pages on your site where readers can opt for more information.
  • Contains a Call-To-Action: Again, prompt readers to take action!

Footer

10. The footer should not be an afterthought on any webpage. It should help the viewer navigate your website in a different way. Therefore, you need to include your contact information again. This is also a great place to include your business hours.

The footer should also include important links to internal pages within your website including your:

  • About Us Page
  • Your Privacy Policy
  • Your Terms of Service
  • Main Pages of your Website including your Blog
  • Social Media Share Buttons
  • Online Chat Features
Websites may have many different looks, but should all have these ten essential elements.

Websites may have many different looks, but should all have these ten essential elements.

Creating a great looking webpage isn’t rocket science, but it does require some forethought and planning. We would love to discuss your specific needs with you. Feel free to contact us here.

Reasons We Love Our Hometown of Miami

miami-views

There are many reasons to love living in Miami. Our love affair with the Magic City started on a spring break trip here in college. After we graduated, we couldn’t resist calling the fastest movers Miami has and relocating here as quickly as possible. Now when we aren’t working, we get to soak up the beach, the exhilarating night life, and amazing cuisine. Here we share some of the top reasons we love our hometown of Miami, Florida.

 1. Mild Temperatures

Sammy, one of our junior designers, moved to Miami from New Jersey to escape the frigid Northeastern winters. He was not disappointed with what was in store. The weather is amazing year-round, with summer temperatures reaching an average of just 95 degrees in the summer thanks to cool ocean breezes. Winter temperatures are equally mild, ranging between 60 and 80 degrees.

Mild temperatures means there's plenty of of time to enjoy the area's gorgeous beaches all year.

Mild temperatures means there’s plenty of of time to enjoy the area’s gorgeous beaches all year.

 2. Miami’s Economy

Miami has one of the most diverse economies of any city in the United States. It’s a great place for small entrepreneurial businesses and international corporations alike to do business. Here are some of the major industries that thrive in this seaside city:

  • International Trade: As a major port of international trade, the Port of Miami handles more than 10 million pallets of freight annually and employs more than 176,000 people. Additionally, it serves as a major cruise ship port.
  • Hospitality Industry: Over 13.9 million people come to Miami every year, adding over $29 billion to the local economy. Over 80 percent of those people travel for leisure.
  • Investments & Banking: A study the NewLink Group counted over 150 non-traditional banks and investment funds doing business in Miami including over a dozen investment banks, almost 20 private-equity firms, five dozen hedge funds and over five dozen wealth-management firms. The city is also home to more than 200 family offices. These firms handle investments for one or more wealthy families. Ian McCluskey, a vice president with NewLink says that he believes that the financial industry in Miami handles over $300 billion in assets.

 3. Miami Restaurants

One of the reasons that we love Miami is because of the many great privately-owned, small restaurants in the city. Regardless of what you are hungry for, you can easily find it in Miami.
Here are 5 of our office’s favorites:

  • Ocio features Italian dishes with a Miami flare including filet mignon, carpaccio, and citrus marinated grilled octopus.
  • Red Carpet Italian lovingly combines fresh spices and ingredients into secret family recipes to create a memorable red carpet dining experience.
  • Maria’s Greek Restaurant has been serving diners huge portions of moussaka and enormous gyros for more than 30 years.
  • Shaddai Fine Lebanese Cuisine features great Indian food in a casual atmosphere. The staff here is amazing with the chef making frequent trips to the dining room making sure that everything is top notch.
  • Siam Bistro offers diners a mix of great Thailand and Vietnamese food served by the owner who frequently makes small talk with the customers
Al fresco dining under the neon lights on Miami Beach is a must!

Al fresco dining under the neon lights on Miami Beach is a must!

 4. Things to Do

There is never room for boredom when you live in Miami. Getting around Miami is easy thanks to the Metrorail, over 5,500 miles of public streets, and an active bus system. Some of our favorite Miami activities include:

  • Professional sports: Miami has four professional sports teams with soccer on its way.
  • Museums: There are over 13 museums in the city, including the Perez Art Museum, HistoryMiami, and Miami Children’s Museum.
  • Beaches: You can’t live in Miami without at least an occasional trip to the beach. From Lummus Park to Crandon Park, there’s plenty of white sand for everyone.

These are just a few of the reasons we are happy we made the move to Miami. If you don’t already call Miami home, we’d love for you to join us!

Keys to Crafting Perfect On-Page Content

on-page-optimization

When you’re building a website, it’s important to write web copy that ranks and converts. The latest SEO tactics will come and go, but there are basic principles that have stood the test of time and will continue to be useful for the foreseeable future. This article lays out four keys to crafting perfect on-page content, that work for ranking across various industries.

 1. Title Tags

The most important factor on the page is the title of your article and the corresponding HTML title tag that is read by search bots as they crawl your client’s website and index its content. Your title should be short and to the point. It should begin with your main keyword phrase, if possible, and it should be written for humans first and bots second. Let’s look at some examples.

I recently helped my girlfriend move from Austin to Miami, and by helped, I mean I paid a professional moving company to load everything up and drive it across the country. I began my search for a mover by simply Googling the phrase “Austin movers”. Here are some of the results that were returned:

square-cow-moversunicorn-movingapple-moving-companyIn these examples, the blue text is the title tag. You’ll notice that the first moving company, Square Cow, lists the company name then a description of where they’re located and what service they provide. The second two companies, Unicorn and Apple Moving, get to the keywords first, then put the company name later. Additionally, these two titles add additional long tail keywords like “storage”, “local”, and “long distance” that will help these pages rank for additional long tail search terms. Going after long tail key terms is a great way to drive additional traffic to a site.

 2. Meta Description

The meta description is a 100-150 character description of your article that shows up in search results and links on other sites. It too should be written for humans and not over-optimized, but it does need to include your primary and secondary keywords. Tell what the page is about, but don’t give away the ending. This should read like a great sales pitch to get readers to click through for more.

In the three examples above, the meta description for Square Cows isn’t ideal, because it gets cut short and doesn’t read well. The description for Unicorn, however, not only describes the types of services provided, but also entices the reader with claims that they were “voted best Austin movers” and makes it easy for readers to quickly call their number for a free estimate. Apple Moving plays into the trust factor, boasting decades of experience as one of the oldest and best movers in Texas. If you had to choose a company based on these three descriptions, which would you choose? I would go with one of the latter two. When writing meta descriptions for your own site, try to step back and think about how your audience will feel. Sell them on your product or service before they have a chance to skim over you and go to your competitor’s site!

3. Keywords

Keywords are still relevant today, and they are one of the keys to writing web copy that ranks in the SERPs and ultimately leads to increased conversions. You still need keywords, but you need to use them effectively. Keyword densities above 2% are unnecessary and can even be harmful, especially with keyword phrases consisting of three or more words. For example, instead of using one keyword five times, it’s better to use five related keywords once each throughout the text.

Incorporate keywords and synonyms into the text, just make sure you don't over do it. Photo from Buzzfeed.

Incorporate keywords and synonyms into the text, just make sure you don’t over do it. Photo from Buzzfeed.

In looking at the above example, keywords for the Austin moving industry would include terms like “movers”, “moving companies”, “mover”, “moving company”. When thinking about your own business, make a list of terms that you think people would search for when looking for your product or service. Use this as a starting point for doing additional keyword research using a tool like Keyword Tool or ahrefs.com. Include this list of keywords in your subheadings, body, intro and conclusion in a natural way, sprinkling them throughout your site’s copy.

4. Formatting

The first three factors above – title, meta description and keywords – are responsible for attracting the readers to your webpage, but what should they find once they arrive? If you answered, “A big wall of boring text,” then please go stand in the corner with your nose against the wall until your name is called.

The last thing anyone wants to see on a website is a wall of text: long sentences, huge paragraphs, and almost zero whitespace. Instead, you need to break up your content into small, easily-digested chunks of text that make the page easy to skim and comprehend without the need to read every word of every paragraph. Here are some formatting techniques to keep in mind:

  • Keep it Short: First, make sure that your sentences are fairly short and that your paragraphs are composed of no more than three or four sentences. In fact, for blog posts and sales copy, single-sentence paragraphs can have a powerful impact when used sparingly.
  • Use Tags & Lists: Next, be sure to organize the content under subheadings – h2 tags unless directed otherwise by the client – and include bulleted and numbered lists when appropriate.
  • Use Specialized Font Sparingly: Bold and italics (see what I did there?) also have their place and can be used to great effect, but don’t get too carried away.
  • Pictures and Graphics: According to backlinko.com, pretty pictures, videos, and other graphics help keep readers engage – boosting time on site and reducing the bounce rate.

 

Put these four tips into use as you tackle your website build. You’ll find that these timeless SEO factors will help you rank faster and will position you for long-term success.

 

 

 

Things to Do Before Building a Website

macbook-desk

If you want to create a successful website, there are certain steps you must take before you get started. There are millions of websites online today, making it harder than ever to stand out and attract visitors. To have the best chance of capturing an online audience, you should do some careful planning. Here are some things you should think through before building a site.

1. Know Your Audience

Who is your audience? The answer to this question will determine the style of your website, the topics you cover and the kind of features you offer. It’s often helpful to target a specific niche rather than making your target audience broad. For example, if your website is on the topic of weight loss, you might make it more specific by focusing on Paleo diets, weight loss for women, or low carb diets. By identifying your audience, you can more easily pinpoint the best topic and craft content that speaks to your desired demographic.

The first step in building a site should be identifying your audience. Think about what market your business is trying to capture.

The first step in building a site should be identifying your audience. Think about what market your business is trying to capture.

2. Identify Your Goals

What’s the purpose of the website? Are you selling a product, building a mailing list, or just trying to connect with people who share your hobby? This will determine what kind of features you place on your site. If your approach is content marketing, you’ll want to publish lots of useful articles. If you’re building an opt-in list, you’ll need an engaging offer to get people to sign up. Identifying your goals will be helpful in choosing how you build your site.

3. Buy a Domain

Your domain is your online address. Your domain should match the topic of your website. It’s best to have a domain that’s easy for people to remember and pronounce. While visitors will often reach your site by clicking on a link, it’s also nice to have an URL that you can easily fit on your business card. You can buy your domain from a domain registrar. Many web hosting companies that also sell domains will include domain registration with a web hosting package. When choosing a domain name, make sure you consider how it will affect your strategy for search engine optimization.

4. Choose a Platform

There are now more tools than ever to build a website. If you have programming skills or have a designer, you can have a site built from scratch. If you are less tech-savvy, you can use a website builder supplied by your web host. For example, a simple WordPress site may be enough for someone creating a food or photography blog, while an e-commerce site might demand a shopper-friendly platform like Shopify.

Make sure the platform you use for your site can accommodate your business needs.

Make sure the platform you use for your site can accommodate your business needs.

5. Have a Plan for Attracting Visitors

Every website needs visitors. You should have a traffic generating strategy from the onset. This may include one or more of the following tactics.

  • Paid advertising, such as pay-per-click ads.
  • Social media marketing on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media platforms.
  • Content marketing, including publishing your own content and getting content published elsewhere that links back to your site.
  • Search engine optimization: It’s important to focus on both on-site and off-site SEO strategies. Before you start designing a site or even selecting a theme, sit down and discuss a digital marketing plan with an SEO expert. They can walk you through everything from selecting an ideal domain name to setting up an ideal URL structure to perfecting your title tags and meta descriptions.

These are some of the factors you should consider before starting a website. It’s better to begin with a plan rather than try to make it all up as you go along. Once you identify your audience and create a strategy for getting visitors, you have a better chance of making your website a success.

 

How to Speak Geek – All About the Most Popular Coding Languages

computer-screens

Although there’s a huge range of languages used to write software, the lion’s share of programs is written using just a few popular ones. Many of these languages are designed for specific functions, so their capabilities are limited. Others can be used for just about any kind of programming, but they contain features that make them better suited to some tasks over others. Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular coding languages:

  • Hypertext Markup Language
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • PHP

Hypertext Markup Language

Commonly known as HTML, this language has limited capability and is only used to produce the basic components of a website. The language relies on lines of code called tags. These tags contain things like the actual text along with links to audio and video files, commands for activating JavaScript programs, and general descriptions of where various components should be placed on the screen.

HTML coding uses a series of tags throughout the code to distinguish headers, paragraphs, lists, and more.

HTML coding uses a series of tags throughout the code to distinguish headers, paragraphs, lists, and more.

Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS is used as an enhancement for HTML. This coding provides various aesthetic features like fonts and colors for multiple HTML pages. For instance, if you decide to add extra HTML pages to a website or alter existing ones, CSS ensures they’ll possess the same appearance without having to add this information to each HTML document. CSS also allows web content to be adjusted for different devices like desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones.

JavaScript

If you’re on a weather website and temperature readings are automatically updated or a dialog box appears for choosing new locations, this is a JavaScript program at work. JavaScript is a fully functional programming language designed to operate within HTML documents. JavaScript is an interpretive language. This means that each line of code is read by a software device called an interpreter and put to work before the next line is read. With JavaScript, the interpreter is built into all of today’s major browsers so the program can be used on the spot.

JavaScript is designed work within HTML documents.

JavaScript is designed work within HTML documents.

Java

Before Javascript, this full-capacity programming language was used to make websites interactive. Java is unusual among languages in that, while it’s compiled, the compiled code isn’t directly understood by computer processors so it can’t gain intimate access to it. This code, known as byte code, can only be turned into meaningful actions by a special piece of software called the Java Virtual Machine. This arrangement provides a very formidable layer of security. Due to this quality, Java is employed as the primary language for writing Android smartphone apps.

PHP

Even though JavaScript is used to carry out complex tasks on a website itself, there still must be a program to deliver the HTML code to individual computers and handle returned information, like merchandise orders. This is where PHP comes in. There are several languages used by servers, but PHP has become the favorite choice in recent years because of special features in the language geared towards working with HTML code.