Websites and Social media
- You want to be heard
- You have something to say
- Here are some thoughts
- What you need and more importantly what you need to think about.
- Branding, simple statement explaining who you are, what you offer. To be used across all platforms. “Marketing is no longer about the ‘stuff you make’, but rather about the stories you tell” – ALS Marketing
- Identify why you want a website and what your expectation is:
- Business card site is just that, it sits and is dormant but reinforces who you are. Traffic is directed maybe from a business card of an advert.
- Active site is a site that is active, is actively adding content, active in social media etc – please read on.
- Domain name
- Hosting company/package – we can provide this or point you in the right direction
- Email account/s
- Responsive website – from the mobile phone up
- Client back end to add and edit content (CMS – Content management system) - CMS lets you or others control the content displayed on your website from any computer or mobile device
- Og data
- Alt tagging
- Structured data and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) – making websites more accessible to people with disabilities
- Content creation – what will interest your potential clients
- Backlinks to your social media accounts
- Facebook page
- Google+ page
- Posting management (what, when and how)
- Forums/Portals relevant to your specialism
- Google analytics
- Cookies and GDPR
- Call to action/promotion
- Conventional marketing/PR
- Facebook campaigns to drive traffic
- Submit your site to search engines
Introduction - How And Why The Web Matters
The world wide web offers so much. But what is it all about?
Here are a few thoughts.
Fundamentally it is a place that we can show and share, or, even sell things to a local or worldwide audience. It is a place that we can have our distinct voice heard. Great!
The challenge is that there are billions and billions of voices all vying for our attention. Think about all the pings and notification alarms going off, emails invited or otherwise arriving with a fanfare announcing their importance to our lives. This intrusion on our phones, tablets and computers is relentless.
So how can we get heard in this very noisy and competitive battle ground. How can we be seen let alone heard? Even if you are red you will soon become blue and disappear into the ether if you don't plan well.
If you’re in business or need to be heard, you will need a website, social media and don't forget conventional marketing and networking.
You have a vague idea of what purpose that website should serve. However, you need to take the time to map out what you want to display to the world. What does the world need to know about you? What is it you do and want to share?
You need to brain storm every aspect of your business. Who are you? What are you offering? What is your USP and importantly what is your brand. “Marketing is no longer about the ‘stuff you make’, but rather about the stories you tell” – ALS Marketing.
Additionally, it is important to think about your expectations. What do you hope to get out of this?
It is imperative that you do all of this before you begin.
A logo or icon will be a good idea and should reflect your brand.
Now we know who we are (Brand), what our expectations are, we can consider the other elements to get our unique voice heard.
In order to be heard we need to explore how. Google is the main search engine and has rules. These rules are relatively straight forward. Google uses algorithms to crawl the web and this algorithm changes over time as it is modified and or the criteria changes. Currently in order to get a good ranking Google wants to see a correlation between the following:
Website (responsive and with quality content… more later)
Social media accounts including the following, Twitter, Facebook Page and a Google+ Business page (more later)
This is what we recommend:
- According to Google (the dominant search engine) these are the factors to consider;
- Quality content
- New quality content uploaded on a regular basis
- Responsive – works across phones, tablets and computers
- Accessible website – if you plan on working with Government local or national you will need an accessibility statement and audit.
Google expects a correlation between the following:
- Your website
- A Facebook page
- Google business page (this is free it offers local search)
- Good metadata and OG data
- “The rules are very simple, play by the rules, don't cheat, and Google will reward you by improving your ranking” – Leon Benjamin
To get started you will need a domain name – we think the domain name should be your name unless you are a big brand. If you think how you answer the phone, how you network, you probably answer the phone with your name – you are your brand, you are unique.
So, in my case my name is Guy Woodland. My personal domain is www.guywoodland.co.uk
Now you have your domain name you are going to need to host it (this is the server that will host your domain name and is the place when all the technical things happen, and more importantly where your website and email accounts will reside. We can provide this for you or point you in the right direction.
The sever is the place where your email accounts are set up unless you are using a hybrid email address (which is fine).
Today Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for your website is crucial. This is how web sites are encrypted (the trusted green padlock). Its relatively new, big websites and ecommerce sites have used encryption for a while, but Google is now down ranking websites that are not encrypted, and, in the future, it will be an expected standard for all websites. If we host you we can provide this.
Now Its Building Time
The big players on the website front are Wordpress, Wix and a myriad of other platforms all promising the earth, and all for free. The reality is, yes, they are cheap or free to start but, in the end, you will end paying either because your site grows, and you exceed capacity, or you need more pages.
At this point you will end up paying – many people fall into this trap, they want to start a business, they don't have very much money and then are surprised that their site is not being found and they are getting bills.
Money aside, the main restrictions are that these Free sites are driven by templates which can be restrictive from a design and use perspective.
WordPress is a favoured target for hackers which can impact on downtime for your site (73.2% of the most popular WordPress installations are vulnerable to vulnerabilities according to research).
We build sites that are not prone to vulnerabilities.
But more importantly if your website is in WordPress for example, who owns your data? In this case it’s not you for sure…..
Responsive Websites – Mobile First
Today all web sites should be designed mobile first. Statistically most viewing is done on mobile and tablet.
All of our websites need to be responsive. This simply means that the website works on mobile devices, tablets and computers.
Static v Dynamic websites
We can build static sites but over the last three years have concentrated our efforts on building dynamic Content Manages System websites.
Think about a page in a book. Normally the page will consist of a Header (title), Content and a Footer. It is a container.
Here is a very simple layout (although simple is good and clean).
Typically, we build out the header and the footer – the content is rendered via the CMS meaning it is created dynamically on the fly.
More modern websites today uses buttons to navigate in a similar way that you might navigate on your phone or tablet meaning traditional menus are fading out, the main reason is that websites are designed on a mobile first basis and as such we let our fingers do the walking.
99% of the sites we build are built like this.
Here is a good example. The Den Restaurant Hereford The site has a hero banner landing element that on scroll down disappears.
It does for the moment have a lightbox activated menu which is no more than a nod to the past.
The buttons as described are typical and adopted by most platforms so for example the UK Government’s website has no menu and uses a series of link buttons as principal navigation.
Going back to www.guywoodland.co.uk which mimics certain elements and characteristics of this site I utilise the search bar as a secondary navigation.
So, the “buttons” are effectively links, I choose to prettify them with images but equally they could be text based.
Essentially the object working on the mobile first principal much like for example the ipad is navigation by filter buttons.
Whichever type of site we build we prefer to put the content input directly into the hands of the client (although am happy to undertake this). This is where CMS comes in – simply it is an admin section where you input content online through the browser. It utilises a hipwig editor.
Using the (HIPWIG – WYSIWYG) editor
The website because it is dynamic allow you to do the following:
- Create as many pages as you require
- Group those pages into sections based on commonality
- Dynamically create a menu based on these pages
- Filter your pages based on keywords
- On the home page give preference to specific pages as their importance or prominence as required.
- Your content can be edited, deleted, added to, using a very simple to use interface.
The CMS solution we use enables the following to be added on the page:
- Slide shows
- File uploads
- Data storage
When creating text content using the HIPWIG editor (above) you can do the following:
- Insert Links
- Embed URLs
- Add images
- Add Videos
- Upload files
We take care of the headings, font, font size on each page so they comply with accessibility law. You simply input text and it renders on the live side.
The rest of the editor lets you control
- Colour text
- Create ordered lists
- Create unordered lists
- Indent text
- Clear formatting
- Insert table
- Code view if you know how to use html
SEO, Meta data, Og Data
SEO stands for “search engine optimisation.” It is the process of getting traffic from “free,” “organic", “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines. In a nutshell how you get visitors to your site.
All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users.
This does not happen overnight, it requires consideration, testing and refining. Google as one of the biggest brands in the world is there to make money. Therefore, Google will not promote poor sites as this damages its brand. Therefore, Google considers many factors in determining where you are ranked and so by checking Google analytics (more later) you can get insights into how you are being found, how long people view your site, where the visits came from etc.
Google likes social media and sharing. So, by cross posting, i.e., sharing one of your new pages on your social platforms you are sharing to those circles (people who follow you). Importantly it also creates a backlink back to your website. Google likes reciprocal links.
I can provide a ShareIt button which allows the user when visiting one of your pages to share that page to their social media platforms.
If you look at the image on the next page you can see the social icons (grey icons) relating to the social media I use. Again, this is creating links to my social media accounts allowing people with one click to connect with me.
I also recommend the following must have platform, a Google business page as this is very useful for local searching. So, when I search on my name Google produces this and all for free.
The relevant information here is the information on the right which is produced by Google, it provides all the information people would need knowing my name to get in touch.
If you envisage providing a localised services or products, then a Google business page is a must. The fact that it localises your business might prove very useful.
LinkedIn is another must have. Think about how many businesses might want to know about your business and what you offer.
I would consider YouTube, video is increasing becoming a modern search platform for content.
Twitter, Instagram a Facebook page are all a must if for one reason they create reciprocal links. The wider you spread your net the more likely you are to catch something in this case your audience.
With your website set up, your social media up and running, now it’s time to plan how and what and when. You don't want to post to the point that you annoy people so maybe a couple of posts a week is a start. Great content, great images and off you go, sharing your voice with the world.
Google wants to see activity from your website and the easiest way to do this is to become a trusted resource.
In thinking quality, you may want to consider what this means. You may have something special and interesting you want to share about you or your business which is great. Make sure you do this on a regular basis.
Also consider becoming a resource. By this I mean publishing material that you have found that interests you and you think might be interesting to others. If you think what news forums do like for example apples News app, all it is is a portal of feeds. You can become a portal of quality information relevant to your audience, in doing so you build an audience.
Forums and Portals revenant to your industry
Again, there are lots to choose from. However here is an example from one of my clients.
A camping website. When their website was launched it struggled to be found and was averaging 20 hits (page views) a month. The client was reluctant to push with social media for all the reasons people make, not enough time, not enough ideas.
I suggested that they signed up to a portal, there was a small fee to register. Today they average between 2500/3500 visits per month. An example of small investment creating a huge return.
There are lots of industry focused forums and Facebook pages you can join and post on, simply making reference to your website again creates a link and pushes people back to you.
Identify other websites where you could exchange links, so for example if you were in the business of selling puppies a link exchange with a vet might be a natural link for both parties. Once people understand that there is strength in numbers it becomes a smaller world.
Google provide this service free of charge. It allows you to see in real time traffic to your site.
The information available is massive, here a simple chart showing users, sessions and page views etc. This can turn into quite a science, but it is important, if you make changes to your site the stats will soon show if it is positive or negative.
In order to be able to use Google analytics you have to firstly verify with Google that the site is yours and then place some code into the head of the website.
With the best will in the world you still need to promote your site.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Paid advertising on your Facebook and google page
- Offers and promotions
- Conventional advertising, magazines and news papers
- Community boards
- B2B Forums and local meetings
- Local events
Write up a yearly calendar to diarise events, offers, competitions, anything that might be relevant to your business. Anything that will get people attention and elevate you from the crowd. Create reasons to post and get people interested in your next post so they check back time and time again.
You cannot really expect to load up your website and then as if by magic be propelled to number one on page one of google. But you can help this to happen.
Many website Sites offer a paid and free web submission service.
Remember the key is:
- Quality content
- New quality content uploaded on a regular basis
- Responsive – works across phones, tablets and computers
- Social media
- SEO, good metadata and OG data
Accessibility And What This Means To You
From September this year appertaining to the 2010 disability act organisations are required to make their site accessible to everyone. In the first wave any government and educational establishments must either be in a process of improvement or have an accessible site. Likewise, businesses want to conduct business with government and educational sectors must follow likewise.
All sites need an accessibility statement.
Last year in the US there 15,000 lawsuits by individuals against company websites and apps deemed not accessible. Typical fines ranged from $3000 to $350,000 as the award is based on size of company.
What happens in the US quite often happens here – in march of this year the UK Government created a department to act as a web police – European. It could happen to you.
However, the good news is this is something we can help with as we create accessible statements and employ assistive technology users who are typically visually impaired people who use devices to experience a website such as a screen reader. Provided you have a clear policy and statement of intent and verified this should be sufficient to curb any legal attacks.
I hope this document is of some use in terms of thinking about websites and social media. It is not comprehensive, but I hope it provides some ideas and pointers. Remember just putting up a website without any consideration of the other elements is unlikely to succeed in your expectations unless you go ‘viral’ – you never know you might just like winning the lottery!
We build sites
If you need someone to build or teach you to build websites, then here is a little about how we work.
I work with a number of American and UK developers’ coders. We use Foundation 6 an open-source framework to build the sites using GUI to compile the code.
I do not use templates but rather build from scratch.