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We’ve done quite a few articles on why you need a website, how to get a website ranked, and boosting incoming sales through your website.

But, what are the components of great websites? What should I look for?

Let’s make it quick and easy for now – just let me know if you have any questions!

Aspen Communication Technologies, Inc — Get your ACT together, all your needs connected_20130821-113856

Easy To Use

Make sure your customers and prospects can find what they need. What are the questions they have in mind while visiting your site? Answer them. Put enough information on the page, but don’t overwhelm them with details they don’t need yet.

Call To Action

Do not assume that your customer knows what you want them to do. Do you want them to call you, email you, place an order, subscribe to your newsletter, *like* you on Facebook? Make it big, bold and obvious on the website.

Phone Number

It may seem pretty obvious, but you really need to have your phone number displayed in the header at the very top of the page in large, bold font so that it is almost the first thing a customer sees. Don’t make visitors navigate to the Contact Page or scroll to the bottom of the page, or, even worse, wander around the site looking for where it might be.

Contact Form

Just another way to make it easy for your customers to contact you. Put the form right at their finger tips. Some people don’t want to call and talk to a salesperson, some people are using their night time hours to search, and many other reasons a visitor might not want to call. Give them another easy way to reach out to you.

Data

You can track lots of information about what visitors do while they are on your page. Use this powerful information to make positive changes and attract even more happy customers. All you have to do is install Google Analytics – it runs and tracks in the background and gives you near-instant access to all kinds of reports and different slices of that data.

KeyWords

What are your visitors typing into their search engines in order to get them to your page? For my business, my customers are typing in “web design janesville wi”. Take a guess at what they are typing in and keep that phrase in mind when putting content on your site. Search engines don’t know to rank you for those keywords if the words are not on your page. Watch your analytics data to hone in that phrase or those phrases. But, keep things natural – don’t type it in the same way every time.

Would you like a professional to take a look at your current site and give a recommendation to make your site better than ever? Falcon Design Studio will give you a free consultation – just contact us today!

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Good news from BoostSuite recently for small businesses!

Small business marketers are generating more leads and sales online than ever before – all at a lower cost. How? With content marketing and website optimization!

How can YOU be part of this positive trend?

BoostSuite users who adjust their websites to comply with basic search engine guidelines increase website visitors by 214% and purchases by 146%.

No matter what you decide to do to improve your website, it will matter! So don’t feel like you have to have a business degree in online marketing to be successful. Learn a little bit and implement it.

A good place to start learning is a free website grader. You can find these in numerous places around the web – here are a few to get you started …

Website Grader Plus
Website Report Card
Free Grader

Based on the last Google update, called Penguin 2.0, the playing field for Google rankings has really been tightened up. But, there are certain things that will always rule the day and push you to the top of any search results page.

  • Great Content – if you are putting out value on a regular basis, you will get noticed. The search engines have customers, just like you do. They want to impress those customers and keep them coming back for more. To do that, they want to give their customers valuable, relevant information that answers their questions. Answer the questions your customers have with a written article and post it on your website. Put together a regular posting schedule and get information out there on a regular basis.
  • Social Media Activity – join the conversation. More and more of your customers are talking about their experiences, their needs, their problems on social media channels. You can be there to participate, help, lead and create lasting relationships which all translates into more sales.
  • Natural Links – when someone is interested in what you are talking about, either the content on your website or your conversation on social media, they will link to you. That’s good! When it happens in an organic way, it is VERY good! When you pay the cheapest SEO firm on the block to help you mimic those organic links, you definitely get what you pay for – and the search engines are watching for it. Be very careful or your website could get sandboxed or slapped and it will take a long while to recover from that.
  • Natural Anchor Texting – when someone links to you, they decide what words in their content to highlight and attach that link to. Of course, when thousands of people are linking, the text they use will differ. When you pay the cheapest SEO firm on the block to do this for you, generally they will use the same anchor text over and over again. Make sure the text you use is natural.

The things that need to be done are fairly straight-forward. Where many business owners fall behind is dedicating the time to actually take these steps on a regular basis. Make the time – you will be so glad you did as it pays you back handsomely!

Hire Falcon Design Studio to help optimize your website, to design a great internet marketing strategy or to redesign your current site.

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About 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months! That is a staggering statistic – but one you can avoid being part of with a little planning.

Let’s paint a picture of what NOT to do, shall we?

(lack of biz plan/short term focus)

Just walk off your job one day and declare yourself a business owner the next day. Don’t take any time to plan and forget about the long-term. We all know businesses just happen anyway, so surely it’ll just happen to you, too!

(insufficient marketing or promotion)

Don’t tell anyone that you are in business – if you build it, they will come, right? Set up shop and wait for the floods of customers to come rushing in. The internet doesn’t have to know, there don’t have to be any signs out. Heck, McDonald’s has is all wrong! Why do they keep working so hard on those commercials and determining which social media platform to spend part of those millions they invest in advertising?

(inability to adapt to changing marketplace. yellowpages got online to outsmart the declining projections)

I am what I am and that’s all that I am. Yeah, so technology is changing things at an ever-increasing rate. So what! Just do things the way you have always done them – if those customers don’t like it, they just don’t know what they are missing without you.

(underestimate competition)

Don’t even give a second thought to the competition! Sure, they might be everywhere across the internet and their signs look gorgeous. But, just wait a while – all those customers will figure out who the *big dog* really is and when they do, you will be waiting with open arms.

(lack of commitment)

Consider this a trial run. If it works out, great. If not, there’s always McDonald’s. Don’t truly invest all of yourself, your blood sweat and tears, into this thing. Besides, you want to be able to have fun, too! Isn’t that what owning your own business is all about? Making your own hours, coming into work when everything is already going, and living the easy life?

(no advisors)

Whatever you do, do not ask anyone for advice or help! That would be downright silly. You know everything there is to know about your business. Certainly, no one could have any better ideas than what you have already come up with. In fact, how did this industry ever carry on without you?

(incomplete reporting)

Data is just a bunch of numbers that don’t mean anything. Don’t worry yourself about ‘em. Numbers lie. What would you rather be doing, pouring over a bunch of reports about your business and your industry and your competition or soaking up some rays with your feet up? Just put together a report that says how great you are and call it good!

 

Sounds like a crazy approach, doesn’t it? I am not saying every new business owner that fails has had this type of attitude. But, for sure, they have tripped up on one or more of these areas. Sometimes, drawing it out into a funny illustration helps us to see ourselves in it more clearly.

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As far as marketing opportunities are concerned, it is a GREAT time to  be a business owner! There are so many ways to get your business seen by customers that need what you are selling.

But, some options are much more expensive than others. Take this statistic from HubSpot in their State of Inbound Marketing Report:

2012-cost-per-lead-resized-600.jpg

So, what is the difference between *inbound* marketing and *traditional* and how do you take advantage of the cost savings?

Inbound Marketing – let’s start by describing what it’s not! It is not an interruption, plain and simple! It is putting yourself in front of the wave of people actually searching for your service or product.

Traditional Marketing – yep, you guessed it! An interruption! It’s getting in front of people while they are living their lives and shoving your service or product on them when they are least expecting it.

Take Advantage of the Lower Cost

Inbound marketing takes advantage of all the channels within the world wide web. Customers are using those channels to find what they need. If you make sure you are in the spot they are looking when they need your product or service, you’ve got yourself a new customer!

So many of the inbound marketing opportunities are few, they just take some time to utilize them. Your place on Google Maps, directories, your listing on Facebook, filling your blog with top-notch content about your specialty, and becoming part of the conversation on Twitter are all free things you can do.

Top 3 Ways to Lower the Cost

  1. Put out great content regarding your specialty on your blog and share it via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. You can also list this content on article directories which distribute that content across the web-osphere.
  2. Start a conversation on Facebook. People will find you because they like the content you have put out. Engage them on Facebook with questions or interesting facts. This harnesses the powerful name of Facebook and connects it to your brand name and the search engines will pick it up and hand it to searching customers.
  3. Update your directory listings across the web. Places like Facebook, Manta, Yelp, CitySearch, FourSquare, eLocal, SuperPages, YellowPages, etc all have a listing for your business (unless you are brand new). Go in and make sure to claim it and update your information accurately across all those platforms.

The bulk of the cost comes in when you realize that there are so many opportunities, you actually need to hire someone to take care of it all for you.

You can hire Falcon Design Studio for any of those tasks! We are committed to helping you gain new leads and customers from your inbound marketing efforts!

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marketing-focus-for-high-growth-firms-hingeNothing speaks louder than actual data of what businesses are really experiencing!

The chart above and this article (from MarketingProfs) give plenty of data to support the idea that the businesses showing the highest growth (growing at least 20% annually over two successive years) are concentrating far more on three key advertising tactics … blogging, search engine optimization, and social media interaction!

By George, I think I’ve been saying that for the last two years to every prospective client and customer I can possibly get to listen to me!!!

Blogging

Get a blog on your website and start letting your voice be heard!  It is good to have some keyword research data to go with your blogging to give you somewhat of a map – but even if you don’t have that, start writing and see what people find you for. In my own personal blogging experience, you really just never know what might be a hot topic for your audience.

Your articles don’t have to be 2,000 words long (but they can be) and it doesn’t have to look like your college thesis paper, so don’t start worrying and wondering whether you could really do it or not!  You CAN!!  You are the expert in your industry, right?  If not, you better find an industry that you can be an expert in.  Just share your knowledge the best way you know how. Use spell-check and read over what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense – this isn’t texting with your buds, it’s communicating with other professionals.  But, there are lots of ways to make sure you sound expertly professional!

Search Engine Optimization

Even if you have the absolute coolest design and the best website in your entire industry, it doesn’t mean a thing if the search engines don’t even know you exist and, therefore, cannot show your website to potential customers searching for your services.

There are lots of rules to know and the rules always change. Back in the earlier days of SEO, you could stuff a bunch of keywords into the right places and watch your rankings soar – today, you’ll get penalized for doing that.

There are definitely some things that a website owner can do all on their own with some time spent researching best practices online.  But, the best value for every dollar and every minute you spend is to hire a reputable company that really knows SEO and can get those details taken care of for you.  If you are ready to head down that road, I know of a great place to help you with your search engine optimization needs!!

Social Media Interaction

It’s where people gather in this electronic world. If you want to be known for what you do, you better go to where the people are! You don’t have to be a social media butterfly on every single platform available in order to make this work for you. Pick one! Start somewhere and start talking! Facebook is best for businesses that get their customers from the Consumer pool – LinkedIn is best for businesses that get theirs from the Business pool.

If you choose Facebook, please make sure you start a business fan page, NOT a personal page!!

Falcon Design Studio can help you every step of the way as you set your sights on becoming one of the newest high-growth businesses!  Whether you consult with us or hire us to do the work for you, rest assured you will be getting quality work for your marketing dollar!!

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smartphoneIn a recent article from Apple Insider, the number of smartphone users has finally topped ONE BILLION!

The most amazing aspect of this number is the amount of revenue for businesses being generated by these users. More and more, people are using their smartphones to research their purchases and to shop. This *on-the-go* sector of our population may approach shopping with a bit of a different mindset, but they are generating revenues that your business can benefit from, IF you are prepared to do so!

As any business owner knows, profits don’t just fall into your lap by accident. You must make wise preparations in order to reap the benefits. Here are some ways to prepare your online presence to become a channel of revenue from smartphone users:

  • Have a Mobile-Optimized version of your website.

    Mobile-Friendly means that your regular site sizes down to meet the screen size of your visitor. But, a much more powerful tool is the Mobile-Optimized site. This is a version of your site that is specifically designed to cater to mobile users. There are fewer options – just the important stuff. It automatically meets any screen size your visitor uses. Click-to-Call is enabled and right at the user’s fingertips. (Click here to see our comparison between mobile site and regular site.)

  • Make sure customers can find your site through proper search engine optimization measures.

    Once you have the perfect site to cater to your mobile visitors, you need to make sure they can actually find you when they are searching for your products or services. Proper S.E.O. includes paying attention to the content on your site and the things happening outside of your site as well. There are regular search engines and there are mobile search engines – is your business in both?

  • Create Social Signals.

    Get out there (on the web) and engage your customers! Create a social outlet and use it regularly. If you service consumers, get on Facebook; if you service businesses, get on LinkedIn. There are scores of other sites you can become a part of – don’t overwhelm yourself, just take on what you can handle on, at least, a weekly basis. Quality is better than quantity. Make sure your review outlets are ready to take customer reviews – places like Google+ and Yelp.

Those are just a very few ideas to get you going in the right direction. Call Falcon Design Studio today and we can help craft a campaign to put you in the perfect position to start benefitting from the SmartPhone Revolution!

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87.5% of businesses using social media for customer service have realized a positive impact!

social media positive impactIt’s really good news for someone like me! I spend almost all my work-time excitedly telling other business owners about the positive impact social media can have on their business. One thing that no one can deny is the facts! This data definitely shows the facts clearly.

How Can Your Business Tap Into This Benefit?

Plug in to at least one social media outlet and become consistent with it.

Post valuable information regularly. Be active enough that when a customer looks at your outlet, they will know that you are there frequently and will feel better about leaving a comment or a question.

Actively market your social media outlet using traditional advertising methods.

Don’t just expect your customers to know that you are using social media – direct them there. Put up flyers in your store, have obvious social media buttons on your website, add it to any print advertising you participate in, etc.

Make it worth their while to come check you out.

Offer coupons, notify them of specials, create them-only deals (like Facebook-only deals or Twitter-only deals). Today, I gladly *liked* the Lindt Chocolate facebook page in order to get a coupon for a free bag of those amazing treats! The power in that for Lindt is that, from now on, every time they post on Facebook, it will go into my news feed and I will stay in constant contact with them. We all know how important that is for brand recognition and brand loyalty.

Now, go get your social media going while I enjoy my bag of truffles! All. By. Myself!!!!

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economic crisis“Global Growth Has Collapsed”

“Indices Giving Off the Weakest Signs of the Economy”

“Headed for Another Down-Turn”

The headlines lately are enough to make even the sanest of us totally crazy with worry.  If you spend any time watching the news, surely there is a report every night about how awful it is and how it’s only getting worse.

I Believe!

I believe that only *WE THE PEOPLE* can turn this economy around, from the global economy to the community economy! No matter what the government does or who the President is – this down-turn can be changed!

change the economyI believe that only *WE THE PEOPLE* can reignite that American-spirit of getting out there and making something happen instead of waiting for someone else to change it for us! No matter who we seem to be or where we came from – this down-turn can be changed!

I believe that only *WE THE PEOPLE* can bond together and, one hand-shake at a time, one relationship at a time, one website at a time, bring our world to a whole new level of success! No matter what income bracket you are currently in, we can come together and make a real difference – this down-turn can be changed!

Now is the time for us to get out there and help one another. I have skills that will benefit you, you have experience that will benefit me – let’s pull the two together and just see what can happen. We don’t have to wallow in *how bad it is* any longer!  We don’t have to sit by and listen to mainstream media and just take it any longer!

Why We Do What We Do

falcon designAnd all of this is exactly WHY Falcon Design Studio is open for business. We only develop mobile websites because we truly believe that making sure your business has this very important tool will bring in more customers which helps you beat these current economic times. We only offer awesome texting packages because we know it is another tool to bring more business your way. We only run search engine optimization campaigns because we know that there are more people out there who truly need your services and they are searching for you online.

That’s why we do what we do!

If you need help, talk to us, hire us, let’s work together, one hand-shake at a time to make all the difference in the world!

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banned from facebookFacebook is a powerful tool to promote your business and gain new clients.  This is not a place you want to be banned from!

But, so many businesses are in direct violation of the Terms Of Use – terms they agreed to when they signed up for their Facebook account.  If you are too, you are in danger of being banned!

The biggest misuse I see on a daily basis is when a business sets up a personal profile to promote their business.  Not only is this a violation, but you are missing out on so many tools that Facebook has available to a businesses.  Tools like the check-in coupon, insights to what your *likers* are saying and other kinds of data.  Another drawback for businesses is that you can only have 5,000 friends on a personal page whereas a business page will go far beyond that number.

Check out your Facebook page – if it is a personal page and not a fan page, you should change it immediately.  There are some very helpful tools for business owners that would like to take care of this issue by themselves.  Facebook now has a tool that walks you through the steps of converting – click here to explore the tool.

This tool will help you keep all your *friends* and just change them into *likes* so you won’t have to go about re-advertising your page and starting from ground zero.

Of course, there are people like the friendly folks at Falcon Design Studio that would be glad to help you migrate your page for you!  Please contact us if you are in need of assistance.

Check out other projects we’ve worked on at our Portfolio Page.

Check out more great articles to help you with your online presence at our Blog.

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mobile friendly siteEven those that hate looking at data have to only take a peek with one eye to see that the mobile revolution is upon us.  Nearly half of all U.S. adults use a smartphone (that doesn’t include other mobile devices like tablets).

They USE their smartphone to look up services they need.

How do you think they are going to feel about your business if they come to your page and all they can see is the top corner of your site?

Do you think they are going to stick around for very long to try to dig out what they need from your site?  No way!  They know there are other companies with mobile-friendly sites that will be much easier to navigate!

You only have 8 seconds to capture the attention of a potential customer!  Make sure you can get the attention of someone on a mobile phone!

Sorry Kurt, but this is a great example of a really poorly mobile-optimized website! bad mobile site If you are looking for someone to help you with your lawncare and you come to this site, chances are you’ll be moving on to the next site you can find.

So, what should Kurt do? Hire someone like Falcon Design Studio to create a mobile version of the site!  It will all be scaled down to the size of the phone automatically, no matter what type of mobile device comes to the site, the logo will be smaller, the phone number will be front and center, and there will be larger, more obvious buttons to help the visitor get to the important information that they want

Here is some great advice from Entrepreneur about this very topic!  Jason Fell with The Daily Dose at Entrepreneur.

If you would like to see some of the mobile sites we have created, please visit our Portfolio.

If you would like to read more about the best ways to improve your online presence, check out our blog!

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