Mountaintop Web Design https://mountaintopwebdesign.com Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/cropped-MountaintopLogoSQUARE-32x32.jpg Mountaintop Web Design https://mountaintopwebdesign.com 32 32 Why You Should Have A Blog https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/why-you-should-have-a-blog/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:00:48 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=727 Statistically, 77% of Internet users read blogs. It is estimated that people are online 8 hours a day and 23% of time online is spent reading blogs. That’s almost 2 hours a day reading blogs.
Regardless of the type of blog you choose, it can become a powerful driver of business to your website. Blogging is not just an exercise in writing; it is a purposeful, thoughtful and strategic activity that when done with consistency will offer you many amazing benefits.

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Part of the website design process involves finalizing its pages. “Home Page”, “About Us”, “Services” and “Contact Us” are standard pages for a website. After going through their ideas, one question we often find ourselves asking a client is, “Do you want a blog page?”

Statistically, 77% of Internet users read blogs. It is estimated that people are online 8 hours a day and 23% of time online is spent reading blogs. That’s almost 2 hours a day reading blogs.

The clients who come to us for website design services love to read blogs. But apparently, many are unsure of how blogging can help their business.

What is a Blog?

A blog is more than just an unlikely pairing of the words “Web” and “Log”. It is a word that is short in letters and syllables but has big implications on business.

A blog functions like a journal or an archive. In a website, blogs are arranged in chronological order. It gives the writer or “blogger” a forum to share his or her thoughts, ideas, opinions, knowledge and general opinions on specific topics or areas of expertise.

The term “blog” was first coined by Jorn Barger in 1997. The popularity of blogging exploded in 1999 as developers introduced blogging tools and software that were more functional and easier to use.

How big is blogging? In the popular blogging site Tumblr alone, there are more than 345 million blog accounts; an amazing 1,132% growth rate within 6 years! Given the growth of blogging as an activity the past few years, it is well within reason to expect that most of the 1 billion websites operating on the Internet today have a blog page.

8 Different Types of Blog

A blog can be on just about anything you can think of. According to WordPress, these are the most popular blog categories:

  • Personal – The broadest category and usually involves personal interests such as music, travel, health and family among others.
  • Business – Used by business owners, executives and influencers to share their knowledge and expertise.
  • School – Provides a platform for teachers and students to collaborate on school projects.
  • Non-Profits – Foundations and charity groups use blogs to increase awareness on their advocacy and to help in their fund-raising activities.
  • Military – Families of those serving in the military use blogs to share their views on the world, to stay in touch with relatives and as a platform to give moral support to military wives and children.
  • Private – Some bloggers put up sites which are exclusive only to select family and friends.
  • Sports – The perfect platform for every sports fan who dreams of becoming the next Miramon Nuevo, Frank DeFord or Rick Reilly.
  • How To, Tips and Reviews – Probably the highest ranking blogs are “How To’s” and other list type articles. Remember, people are always searching for relevant and usable content.

Regardless of the type of blog you choose, it can become a powerful driver of business to your website. Blogging is not just an exercise in writing; it is a purposeful, thoughtful and strategic activity that when done with consistency will offer you many amazing benefits.


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8 Benefits of Blogging for Your Business

1. Improves Search Ranking

If you want to improve your search ranking; and who doesn’t, listen to Google and work on your website’s User Experience or UX.

One of Google’s criteria for UX involves the consistent publication of great content. As we mentioned in our article “The Basics of SEO”, content must be relevant, usable, engaging and unique.

When you consistently put out blogs that address the needs of your market and offer actionable solutions, more people will be clicking to your website. You should also blog frequently. Surveys show companies that blog 16 times a month gain 3.5 times more traffic than those that blog only 4 times a month.

Here’s a valuable tip when using blogs to improve search ranking: Prioritize long-form content or blogs that exceed 2,000 words.

Studies show lengthy blog posts, content that reach 2,400 words, are significantly more effective in pushing websites up the search rankings than short-form blogs.

2. Gives Your Business a Personality

Think of the blog page as your voice on the Internet. It gives you a virtual soapbox to stand on and share your ideas, thoughts and opinions to your audience. Those who read your blog will get an idea of the person behind the business. Therefore, a blog humanizes your brand and gives your business a personality.

Why is it important for a business to have a personality? According to Nobel Prize winning psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers do not patronize businesses because of pricing or by what is stated on the product label. Consumers patronize businesses to whom they have established an aligned purpose.

Starbucks continues to sell 4 million coffees every day despite the frequent price increases because consumers know their extra dollars goes to fund numerous charities and foundations.

A business blog doesn’t have to be limited to your products and services. Let your audience discover the kind of person you are; your interests, likes, dislikes and opinions on relevant issues. Opening yourself to your audience will help foster a strong relationship that is built on trust and transparency.

3. Boosts Your Inbound Marketing Campaign

An inbound marketing campaign normally incorporates tools and processes such as social media marketing, e-mail marketing and link building. Content is a crucial component to these inbound marketing strategies.

Sharing the content of others is a great way of generating viewership. But it would be better if you could re-direct the interest to your own website by distributing your own content.

Social media draws more than 2 Billion Internet users every day. Facebook alone has more than 1.8 Billion active members. By distributing your content frequently through the vehicle of social media, you can open up new inbound avenues to your website.

You can also re-write previous content into a shorter, more condensed format and distribute them as newsletters via an e-mail marketing campaign.

4. Enhances Your Online Reputation

Have you ever been in a panel discussion where it is hard to get a word in? A blog gives you the forum to share your ideas, experience and expertise without being unceremoniously cut, interrupted or heckled. If people like your content, they may share it via social media or link to it from their website.

This is why blogging should be taken seriously. As we mentioned at the start of this article, blogging is not just an exercise in writing. You should not post content just for the sake of putting a blog out there.

Whenever you publish content, you are competing for the attention of a specific audience. You must prove yourself as the more credible resource in your industry.

Here are valuable tips on writing effective blogs:

  • Always write for your audience or target market; find the issues that concern them and offer actionable solutions.
  • Do not attempt to impress your readers by using technical jargon. People click to your link to be informed; it is already understood that you are the expert.
  • Put your audience at ease by writing in a conversational manner. Again, think of the blog as your voice on the Internet. Write the same way you would converse with someone you just met.
  • Keep your paragraphs short; no more than 3 sentences per paragraph. You probably noticed that’s how we write our blogs for Mountaintop. Shorter paragraphs are an easier read and makes the blog look cleaner.
  • Use bullet points to organize your ideas.
  • Use keywords judiciously. Please refer to our article, “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website” for more information on keyword usage.

Lastly, if you are not confident about your ability to write blogs, hire the services of a professional writer.

5. Increases Lead Generation

According to a study by HubSpot, websites with 400 to 1,000 pages of content generate 6 times more leads than websites with only 51 to 100 pages.

In other words, the more you blog the greater the probability of gaining new leads. This is because blogging creates opportunities for readers to sign up for newsletters, e-mail content and issue requests for quotes on products and services.

6. Improves Sales Conversion

Blogging actively sends a message to your audience that your business is dynamic and thriving. Consistently delivering high quality blogs can help build trust, loyalty and belief in your brand. Eventually, you should expect your efforts to carryover to improved sales conversion rates.

A study by HubSpot showed that businesses who worked diligently on their blogs experienced a 13-times increase in ROI compared to companies that did not put as much time and resources on publishing content.

7. Makes Link Building Easier

Link building is one of the 3 pillars of an effective SEO strategy. The other 2 are content writing and social media marketing. A combination of these 3 tactics will surely help you attract a good number of followers who fit your buyer’s profile.

It is difficult to attract reputable and authoritative links to your website if you do not have a blog page. You can only compel other websites and bloggers to link to your website by consistently publishing usable, relevant, accurate and original content.

This is why these 3 tactics should always work together. Focus on crafting amazing content and distribute it through social media on a regular basis. The more people read your blogs, the greater the chances of getting links back to your website.

8. Generate Income

Here’s a question often asked of us by clients who inquire about the benefits of blogging: Can we make money from blogging?

The answer is “Yes”.

So far, we’ve discussed how blogging drives inbound traffic to your website while enhancing your reputation as an expert in the industry. If you maintain a blogging schedule; that is, publish at least 16 high quality blogs every month, you will succeed in creating traffic in your website.

Increased website traffic can lead to more views on products and services, quotations and hopefully, higher sales.

But there are other ways you can monetize your blogging activity:

  • Advertising – Companies target high-traffic websites to post display ads. Whenever a site visitor clicks on a display ad or completes a purchase of the product, you get paid a percentage of sales.
  • Affiliate Marketing – You can also promote products and services that are aligned with your business. For example, if you have a website on musical instruments you get paid a commission by the supplier of a digital tuner every time a reader buys the product after coming across your blog post.
  • Physical Products and Services – Once you have built a large following and have firmly established your website as a valuable online resource, you can start selling physical products and services. These items could include e-books, training manuals, modules and online consultancy services.

The highest earning blogger is Michael Arrington of TechCrunch who pulls in $900,000 every month.

Statistically, however only 6% of bloggers surveyed made more than $60,000 annually. The majority or 68% earned less than $5,000 per year from blogging.

Conclusion

The takeaway is that you should use blogging primarily as a tool to drive inbound traffic to your website. If you work at your craft and assume it like a full-time job, you may have a career as a blogger while running a business.

Bottom-line is your website would be more effective by having its own blog page. Your blog is the voice that allows your business to stand out from the sea of competitors.

Are you thinking of bringing out the blogger in you? Drop us an email or give us a call. We would be more than happy to help you get started on your blog page.

 

 

Learn More About SEO Specific Website Design

 

 

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How to Drive Traffic to Your Website https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/drive-traffic-website/ Tue, 13 Jun 2017 18:00:54 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=715 Putting up a website isn’t as simple as setting up a coffee shop, opening the doors and expecting customers to file right in. Almost everyone in the world drinks coffee but just because you’ve set up shop, doesn’t mean you will be guaranteed business. It definitely is a step in the right direction, but you have to put in time, work and resources to gain business. It’s the same with driving traffic to your website. The good news is generating traffic to your website is not as difficult or costly as you might think.

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Putting up a website isn’t as simple as setting up a coffee shop, opening the doors and expecting customers to file right in. Almost everyone in the world drinks coffee but just because you’ve set up shop, doesn’t mean you will be guaranteed business. It definitely is a step in the right direction, but you have to put in time, work and resources to gain business. It’s the same with driving traffic to your website. The good news is generating traffic to your website is not as difficult or costly as you might think.

If your business was located inside a mall, you can scope out your competition and approximate foot traffic by assigning staff at the entrances to conduct a click count. From there, you can come up with marketing strategies, design collaterals and draw up promos to attract interest from the mall’s daily visitors.

But things are different in the World Wide Web. If a mall has 200 tenants, the Internet has over 1 Billion websites. If a mall attracts 10,000 visitors daily, the Internet draws over 3.6 Billion users every single day. Once your website is launched, your challenge is to get Internet users to click on your URL as often as possible.

When flyers are distributed randomly inside a mall, many end up in trash bins. You cannot apply the same tactics in a place as vast as the Internet. The marketing approach must be more strategic, well thought-out and focused.

It’s not a matter of casting a larger net into an ocean filled with fish. What ends up in your net might be inedible or unusable. Instead you should figure out the right kind of bait that draws fish to your line. But different bait attracts different fish. Before you know it, you have a multitude of lines with a variety of bait that consistently fills up your boat with tons of fish!

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you must utilize strategies that will attract or compel potential end users to view your products and services. This approach is popularly referred to as Inbound Marketing; the process of using online marketing techniques, tools and tactics for the purpose of generating inbound traffic to a website.


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7 Effective Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

1. Optimize Your Website

SEO or Search Engine Optimization helps to get your content found online. It gives your website a fighting chance to stand out and get noticed even if there are billions of websites proliferating on the Internet. Remember this key stat: 91% of all Internet users prefer to use organic search to find information.

Keyword research is a big component of an effective SEO strategy. All of your inbound marketing efforts should be focused on landing the top 3 positions of the search rankings for your keywords. The SEO expert should provide you a keywords report which categorizes keywords according to volume and level of competition.

The keywords report will be used to optimize your web pages, particularly the title, meta and descriptive tags. It will also be used to optimize text, image and video content.

2. Consistently Create Great Content

Content is the cornerstone of a successful inbound marketing campaign. People go online to find usable and relevant information. You should give your audience content that addresses their interests or concerns.

If you are able to produce consistently great content, you will enhance your reputation as a valuable resource and attract more followers to your website.

Here are a few tips on how to come up with great content:

  • Write in a conversational manner; don’t attempt to impress your readers by using technical terms.
  • Make sure your data is accurate and sourced from reputable sources.
  • Write with the audience in mind; they should find your content usable, relevant and informative.
  • Always come up with original content; do not plagiarize someone else’s work.
  • Do not abuse keywords; it is important to have the main keyword in the title, the opening paragraph, throughout the body and in the concluding section. But use keywords judiciously. It should never affect the quality of the content.

If you are not sure what to write about, review your website analytics. Find out which blogs or articles generated the highest levels of engagement and had the lowest bounce rates. You could also do surveys or engage your followers in social media to find out what topics interest them.

3. Utilize Social Media

Social media is great for sharing content which could help drive traffic to your website. But there are other ways you can use social media to create inbound avenues to your website.

  • Search.twitter.com – This is one of the lesser known features of Twitter but it is an effective tool for engaging your market. For example, we could type in “mobile responsive design” and see how people in the community are interacting with this topic. We could then engage them by providing a link to an article we published some time ago, “Why Your Business Needs Responsive Design”.
  • Set up Company Pages – Identify 3 social media networks that are appropriate for your business then set up company pages in each of them. Try to stay active by posting regularly and engaging with your followers whenever possible.
  • Remarketing – Facebook and Twitter can provide you with tracking pixels which you can use to continue marketing to Internet users who have visited your site. Facebook will grant you a tracking pixel once you have achieved 100 visitors. Twitter’s minimum requirement is much higher at 500 visitors.
  • Twitter Cards – This is another special feature of Twitter which allows you to send out tweets that are large enough to include an image and a functional button to support a call- to- action. Twitter Cards have been shown to generate 18% more clicks than plain text tweets.
  • Community and Focus Groups – You can also join community and focus groups that are involved in the same industry as you are. Members in these communities often engage one another in discussion threads. Join some of these threads and openly share your expertise and experience. Write blogs and distribute them to your various communities.

These are just the tip of the mountaintop when it comes to all the possibilities with social media. A digital marketing company can help you conceptualize a social media strategy that is customized for your business.

4. Build Links

Link building is such an effective technique for driving traffic to your website that it is often abused by unethical marketers. Google penalizes websites that implement overly aggressive link building strategies. These practices include using irrelevant links for the sake of increasing site exposure.

Done properly, link building is a great way of finding a new audience for your website. Get in touch with the webmaster of a reputable website in your industry and ask if they could include a link to your website. Offer reciprocity so that everyone benefits from the arrangement.

Another way of building links is to engage in industry and business forums. These sites give you the platform to showcase your expertise, knowledge and build up your reputation as a credible resource. Wait for the right moment to provide the link to your website. It should be relevant to the discussion and the content must have information that has value to the community.  

5. Contribute to Other Websites

A big part of driving traffic to your website involves enhancing your online presence as an expert in the industry. The more platforms you have to share your knowledge, the better your reach in finding a new audience for your content. One of the best ways to achieve this is to become a contributor to other websites such as content aggregators.

Content aggregators are websites that gather content from various online sources for reuse or resale. Anyone who visits your page from an aggregator and likes what they read will send a link to your site from their feed. Among the most popular content aggregators are the following:

Becoming a contributor isn’t as simple as sending content and having it published right away. These content aggregators have standards and guidelines for writing. If you are not confident about your writing skills, do not hesitate to hire a professional content writer.

6. Host a Podcast

A podcast is a great way to deliver content because it creates a more personalized, informal and intimate connection with your market. It is also a convenient medium for your audience to digest your content. All they have to do is subscribe and they can listen to your podcast anytime. A podcast puts you in a forum where you can actively engage with other experts in your field.

During the period of 2015 to 2016, the audience for podcasts in the United States grew by 23%. To put this in context, in the same period, Spotify and Twitter grew by 13% and 21% respectively. Hosting podcasts has also been shown to increase website traffic significantly.

7. Use Web Analytics

Web Analytics allows you to have data- driven basis to assess the performance of your website and your inbound marketing strategies. One of the most effective tools you can use is Google Analytics, but it is easy to get lost in the sheer volume of data available for your review.

We have simplified the 4 key reports you should look into when using Google Analytics:

  • Acquisition Keywords- Find out which keywords are driving more visitors to your website.
  • Acquisition Referring Sites – By discovering which websites are delivering more traffic to your website, you can focus more resources to them and less toward those that are underperforming.
  • Visitors Overview – Determine the proportion of new visitors to old visitors so you can customize your content to a specific audience.
  • Content Overview Top Pages – Find out which published content is responsible for driving the most traffic to your website and focus more time and resources on the topic.  

Conclusions

Inbound marketing will not generate significant traffic overnight. It is a process; and as such needs time to produce quantifiable results. Because the Internet and social media have made information accessible, market forces can shift or change without warning.

Thus if you want to drive more traffic to your website, the first step is to hire a professional digital marketing services company. You have to regularly track the progress of your campaign and implement the necessary revisions to strategy. As a business owner, your time is best dedicated to running your enterprise.

You should also apply these inbound marketing techniques with strategy, thought and purpose. A digital marketing company has the experience and knowledge to design a campaign strategy customized for your business and implement it according to schedule.

What you need to keep in mind is that an inbound marketing campaign is not an expense. It is an investment because you expect a return within a period of time. The great thing about investing in an inbound marketing campaign is that the strategies are more focused, sustainable and reusable.

You’re not distributing flyers to random people inside a mall. With inbound marketing, you identify your target market and focus your strategies to influence his or her preference toward your products and services instead of your competitor.

You are not pushing content to your audience. You are creating content that will pull your audience or compel them to follow you.  

The content you create will not end up in the trash bin. You can re-cycle it; edit its content and ideas to fit changes in your market’s behavioral profile. You can also reuse it by publishing it in other websites so you can attract a new audience.

When it comes to driving traffic to your website, the keyword is patience. It will take time to develop the avenues that will consistently bring users to your website.

Building a website is one thing. Committing to develop it is another. But as long as you put in the time, effort and resources, your investment should eventually yield dividends.

If you’re interested in learning more about inbound marketing and how to put together a campaign to drive more traffic to your website, drop us an e-mail or give us a call.

 

 

Learn More About SEO Specific Website Design

 

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The Basics of SEO https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/the-basics-of-seo/ Tue, 06 Jun 2017 18:00:55 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=703 SEO makes it possible for your website to be found by utilizing a combination of techniques so web crawlers can easily find and index your page. Without SEO, your website will be among the guppies in an ocean filled with predators. You’ll be swallowed up and will never make it to the first page of the search rankings.

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There should be no doubt that Internet- based or online marketing strategies are the best approach to promoting your business. When we say “best” it is because online marketing presents the most efficient and effective avenue to creating markets for your products and services. While there are a multitude of techniques and processes available at your disposal, central to all of these is SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

As we discussed in our article, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Now”, 91% of Internet users prefer organic search to find information. The Internet is teeming with information; there are over 1 Billion websites operating in the World Wide Web.

SEO makes it possible for your website to be found by utilizing a combination of techniques so web crawlers can easily find and index your page. Without SEO, your website will be among the guppies in an ocean filled with predators. You’ll be swallowed up and will never make it to the first page of the search rankings.

Our purpose for presenting the basics is to give you an understanding of the fundamental concepts of SEO. It will help you comprehend and appreciate the work done by an SEO expert or a Digital Marketing company.  

The Golden Rule of Website Design

As important as search is, there is a golden rule to which web designers subscribe to:

“Design and build for your end-users not for search engines.”

To better understand this golden rule, let us identify the 3 types of search queries Internet users make:

  • Transactional Queries – Refers to an action that an Internet user wants to do at the moment such as book a reservation, watch a video or buy the latest pair of Air Jordans online.
  • Informational Queries – The Internet user launches a search query to find information such as the name and address of the best restaurant for charbroiled hamburgers or the name of the boxer who beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the Olympics.
  • Navigational Queries – This is a search action intended to take the Internet user to a specific website such as Facebook or www.mountaintopwebdesign.com.

Should your website land in the top 3 positions in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and users click on your link, would they like what they see on your website? Will they find what they sought? Would they have a memorable User Experience or UX?

Remember that when your web page is found and indexed, it is stored in a massive database. SEO’s number one directive is to deliver relevant results to the Internet’s users. Web design must be able to comply with the needs and wants of your audience.

Thus before investing in SEO, you should have a firm grasp on who your audience is. Conduct research on their wants, needs, interests, concerns and the issues they often seek resolutions to. Then make sure the website can meet expectations by delivering accurate content on a consistent basis.


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10 Basic SEO Tips to Get You Started

In this article, we present 10 basic tips on SEO. This will not make you an expert as there is certainly more to SEO than these 10 tips. But it will give you a good foundation to build up your knowledge on optimization.

1. Maximize the Value of Keywords

You cannot write an article on the “Basics of SEO” without leading off with the value of keywords.

Keywords are the specific words or phrases that best describe the contents of a web page. When an Internet user launches a search, he will type a series of words or a phrase inside the query box. He chooses these keywords because he believes they will help the search engine find authority sites that are best qualified to find information relevant to his query.

SEO experts conduct comprehensive keyword research to find out the best ones to use on your website. The use of keywords must be done judiciously and strategically. They should be put in your title tag, page header and throughout your content but never at the expense of its quality.

2. Create Internal Links

If you noticed, in the second paragraph of this article we linked back to our previous content. This is called creating an internal link which is one of the most basic concepts of SEO.

Internal links redirect the audience to your archives. New readers will be exposed to previous content which could enhance your reputation as an important resource if they find value in it. For loyal followers, internal links will further reinforce their belief that yours is an authority site.

But similar to keywords, internal links must be used judiciously. You would not want to annoy your readers by constantly patting yourself on the back for a job well done. First and foremost, make sure the links are relevant to the content.

3. Content is King

Google’s Panda algorithm was formulated to penalize websites that publish thin content and those stuffed with keywords for the sake of moving up the search rankings. Panda is a constant reminder that content should always be written for end users and not search engines.

Google’s algorithm is calculated using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). LSI determines the relationship between keywords and concepts within the content. For example, if your website is about health and fitness, Google would expect to find keywords and phrases such as “build muscle”, “burn fat” and “best diet programs”.

So all you need to do is to write naturally on the page and make sure its content is relevant, usable, engaging and unique. The last criteria is particularly important. Your content should not be directly copied from another source. The penalties for plagiarism are far worse than just plummeting down the search rankings.

4. Integrate Social Media Marketing

Social media is a valuable tool for sharing content because of the sheer size of its various communities. Facebook alone has 1.94 Billion users which is 53% of the total number of daily Internet users.

Although SEO experts are not certain how social media is factored in by search engines when calculating their algorithms, what is clear is that social sharing has had an effect on search rankings.

Social media platforms are a powerful vehicle for distributing content. You can post content to your social media account from your blog page or include a link back to your website when engaging in focus group discussions.

But before integrating social media marketing into your SEO strategy, choose the platform that best suits your buyer’s profile. Not all social media platforms function in the same way. If your business relies heavily on image or video-driven content, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube may be the ideal platforms for you.

5. Build Links to Other Sites

Another proven SEO technique is link building. This is an arrangement with the proprietor of another website to include a link on their site to yours. If the webmaster agrees, make sure to return the favor. Link building presents a win-win situation for both parties and helps foster strong relationships.

Before proposing a link building arrangement, conduct due diligence work on the website. You have to be sure their SEO strategies are in line with Google’s best practices. You also have to be sure they are not engaged in activity that can potentially harm the reputation of your business.

6. Use Search- Friendly URL’s

URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the global address where all documents and resources of your website are located. In other words, it is your website’s address on the World Wide Web. Our URL is www.mountaintopwebdesign.com.

For effective SEO, create a URL with search- friendly keywords. As an example the URL structure “www.mountaintopwebdesign.com/new-website-design/”  describes the content of this particular web page as providing details on our website design services.

However a URL such as “www.mountaintopwebdesign.com/12576/S345/?s” could be confusing and off-putting to both searchers and search engines. Keep your URL clean, simple and easily understood.

7. Transition to Mobile Responsive Design

Mobile responsive design plays an important role in site optimization because it contributes to 2 important criteria for search rankings: Usability and User Experience.

If your website cannot be accommodated by mobile devices, it will be slammed down the search rankings by Google. The search engine giant made the point crystal clear in their “Mobilegeddon” directive dated April 21, 2015. Put simply, no one wants to patronize or link to a website that gives a forgettable experience.

With mobile devices dominating online traffic, there is no plausible reason not to transition to mobile responsive design. You could always build a dedicated mobile website but then you would have to manage two URL’s. That would be inconvenient,  expensive and not recommended for SEO. When you have two URL’s, you duplicate content and lose out on traffic.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops will continue to grow in popularity over the next 5 years. You cannot ignore the emergence of mobile technology. If you have a website, make sure it is responsive to mobile devices. Remember, it is better to swim with the tide than to go against it.  

8. Focus on Website Download Speed

Another factor that contributes to User Experience is page loading speed. With the Internet literally at the palm of their hands, searchers have lesser patience when it comes to accessing information. They will abandon a search if the page does not load fast enough.

And what is fast enough?

According to research, the average page loading time of websites using Google  falls in a range between 9.82 seconds and 13.84 seconds. Thus if your website’s loading speed is below 9.82 seconds, your website is very fast. Conversely, if it is above 13.84 seconds, you have to find ways to improve its speed.

Last June 2010, Google announced it would penalize websites with slow loading times. You can use Page Speed Insights tool from Google to find out how to improve the loading speed of your website.

9. Work on Your Tags and Descriptions

Title and Heading tags and meta descriptions are given special considerations by search engines in determining rankings. The title tag tells the search engine and the audience what your site is about in the most concise way possible. It is very important to include keywords in your title tags.

Heading tags have a hierarchy beginning with <H1> or the title of the post all the way down to <H6>. Heading tags are valuable for rankings because like title tags, they give search engines an idea of your content. In terms of SEO, <H1>, <H2> and <H3> have the highest value.

The <H1> tag should carry the main keywords. As a hierarchy, <H2> is considered a sub-heading and should contain similar keywords as <H1>. Thus, <H3> is a sub-heading of <H2> and should follow the same pattern of using identical keywords.

A meta description is essentially your sales pitch about your website and plays a key role in your branding strategy. Keep the description short; no more than 156 characters but well-written.

10. Regularly Track Performance

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that it can be tracked frequently with accuracy, precision and provide real-time data. Thus, performance can be measured and it is possible to calculate the ROI on total investment.

Online tools such as Alexa allow you to keep track of your search rankings and assess if the present campaign strategy is close to achieving targeted results.

Always measure performance and institute changes in strategy if the current one veers off from expectations or projections.

It is always advisable to hire the services of an SEO expert or Digital Marketing company to handle your optimization needs. Effective SEO requires more than just knowledge. You must have experience in correctly selecting techniques, designing strategy and implementing campaigns.

Did you enjoy what you just read? Do you feel more empowered with knowledge about SEO? If we piqued your interest and you want to learn more about SEO and how it can help your business, please feel free to call or e-mail us.  We will gladly take you through a more detailed process on SEO.

 

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5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Right Now https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/5-reasons-why-your-business-needs-seo-right-now/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/5-reasons-why-your-business-needs-seo-right-now/#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 18:00:09 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=683 Today, more than half of the world’s population is online every day. It has become clear that the battlefield for market share has shifted to the Internet. With 91% of Internet users favoring organic search, it is imperative for your business to be found online. If your business was not found online, that is more than half the battle lost. And that is why your business needs SEO right now.

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When broadband technology became available in 2004, it was only a matter of time for the Internet to assert its influence on business and everyday life. Within 10 years, mobile devices made it possible to access the Internet anywhere and everywhere.

Today, more than half of the world’s population is online every day. It has become clear that the battlefield for market share has shifted to the Internet. With 91% of Internet users favoring organic search, it is imperative for your business to be found online. If your business was not found online, that is more than half the battle lost. And that is why your business needs SEO right now.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a marketing discipline which utilizes different techniques and processes to drive your website up the SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

In the Internet, launching search queries is the number one method used by consumers to find information. According to statistics, 75% of users do not go beyond the first page of the results. In fact there are studies that show 60% of Google users only click on the top 3 links on the SERP with 33% going to the website in the number one position.

The objective of SEO is to get your website in the first position of the results page. But the race for search engine rankings can get quite competitive considering there are over 1 Billion websites operating on the Internet.

You can view SEO as the way your website communicates with the search engines. To launch a search query, a user types in a series of words that best describe the information he is looking for.

For example, if you want to know which types of equipment to buy to set up a home gym, you might type in “best equipment for home gym”. Once you press “Enter” the search engines’ web crawlers will seek out websites which contain these keywords.

Once found, the crawlers will index the web page and store it in massive databases for recall whenever a similar search query is launched. The search engines will only present results which are relevant and useful to the query. Also, the search engine will base its rankings on the popularity of the website.

Search engines use mathematical equations or algorithms to measure the levels of relevance, usefulness and popularity. But it is not just about having the right keywords. Search engines want to know if the keywords used were relevant to the content.

Keyword density or the ratio of keywords to total word count is another factor that could influence your website’s search rankings.

Based on Google’s adjusted algorithm, the recommended keyword density is between 0.5% to 2.5%. So in a 1,000 word blog, the main keyword should appear between 5 to 25 times within the content.

But in the end, “Content is King”. You should always focus on producing high-quality content over keyword density. This means content that is relevant, original, informative and engaging.

In addition to keyword usage, there are other techniques and processes in the SEO toolbox that can be used to help your website get found.

 


WORKING ON A WEBSITE? FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP


 

5 Best SEO Strategies for Your Website

In its early days, SEO was widely criticized as a marketing discipline which ostracized other online marketing tools and techniques. But that was the mistake of its first practitioners because effective SEO is more than just integrating keywords in code and in content.

There are other SEO strategies that can be used to drive traffic to your website.

Here are the 5 best ones to consider:

1. Content Marketing Process

People are on the Internet 6 hours every day. 23% of the time is spent reading content. 61% of consumers report their decision to purchase was influenced by a blog or a post they found online. The statistics supporting a sound content marketing strategy are overwhelming.

That’s why keywords must be used judiciously and strategically. When writing content, don’t just integrate keywords for the sake of getting found. Keyword density should not come at the expense of presenting relevant, usable, engaging and original content.

Your audience must find value in your content. And it’s not just in written format. Other powerful avenues to drive content include videos and podcasts. If you consistently deliver great quality content, you build up your reputation as an expert on the field and as a valuable resource.

2. Create Backlinks

Backlinks are links from another webpage that point to your website. The number and quality of links that direct to your website can influence its position in the search rankings.

A strong content marketing strategy can help create backlinks for your website. If the user considers your content a valuable resource, he may want to reference it in his own webpage as a hyperlink. Anyone who clicks on the hyperlink will find himself on your website or web page.

Thus by creating backlinks, you can potentially increase the number of views or followers of your website.

3. Transition to Mobile- Responsive Design

Search engine giants such as Google will penalize websites that are not mobile responsive in their rankings. User Experience or UX is one of the most important criteria for search ranking consideration by Google.

If users cannot access your website via their mobile device or if they can but the experience was unpleasant, 61% will click out and patronize a competitor with a mobile-responsive website.

On the other hand if the experience is positive, there is a 67% chance the user will buy a product or service.

Studies have shown that Google prefers mobile- responsive design because having only 1 URL makes it easier for its search bot to index the website. It also minimizes the risk of on-page SEO errors.

4. Get SSL Certificates for Your Website

As the threat of hacking continues to grow, data protection and security of information have become the paramount concerns of search engines. In fact, Google gives secure websites a boost in the search rankings.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. When you transmit information through the Internet, it may go through a number of servers and browsers before it reaches its destination point.

SSL encrypts the information you send out to make sure it cannot be intercepted by shady third parties.

5. Write Long Form Blogs

Studies have consistently shown that long form blogs or those that exceed 1,600 words rank higher than short form blogs.

In fact there are studies that show websites with the highest search rankings feature content exceeding 2,400 words.

Long form blogs that are well-written, loaded with valuable information and embedded with the right keywords will present you as a knowledgeable resource. It will also keep readers engaged in your web page for a longer period of time thereby improving your bounce rate.

5 Benefits of SEO for Your Business

After going through the different strategies optimization professionals use to give your rankings a boost and to drive more traffic to your website, it should be very clear why your business needs SEO right now.

As consumers continue to grow more dependent on the Internet for information, it becomes more important for your business to increase its visibility online. SEO is a proven strategy for enhancing your online presence.

Here are 5 benefits of SEO for your business:

1. SEO Works

For years naysayers have proclaimed “SEO is dead”. But today, it continues to thrive as an integral point in the online marketing strategy of many businesses.

SEO works because organic search will continue to be the number one go-to approach by Internet users for finding information. An updated study by Search Engine Journal showed that 93% of consumers launch a search query to find products, services and general information.

If you do not work on improving the search rankings of your website, your business will not get found by consumers.

2. SEO is a Cost Effective Strategy

Traditional advertising and marketing strategies are expensive and unsustainable. Production costs for flyers, press releases and print ads are rising and it is not cheap having them featured in local or national publications. Once the campaign is over, your collaterals will just line up the bottom of a trash bin.

SEO presents a cost effective and sustainable strategy. As discussed earlier there are several ways to drive traffic to your website and push your rankings higher up the SERP.

The SEO professional can design a framework that incorporates strategies to fit your budget. For example, he can emphasize content marketing and create long form blogs for distribution to various online channels such as social media, large scale informative sites and aggregators.

The long form blogs that have been published can be reused again after a few months to attract a new audience.

3. Consumers Do More Research

Consumers are taking advantage of the accessibility of information by conducting more research. An estimated 80% to 90% of consumers search for online reviews and product information before making a decision to patronize a business or not.

If your website cannot be located by the consumer, how do you expect to generate business? In the Internet, the probability of becoming a “hole-in-the-wall” success story is highly unlikely.

There are no avenues where consumers can stroll down by chance and find your business. It is all about your positioning in the SERP.

4. SEO is Measurable

SEO Professionals use keywords analysis to determine the size of your market as well as their buying behavior and preferences. The data gathered can be used to fine-tune or customize your online strategies to make it more focused toward your target audience.

Thus the measurability of SEO makes it possible to create more flexible marketing strategies. Flexibility is an important quality in strategy design because the availability of information makes it more difficult to pinpoint consumer tastes, preferences and changes in demand.

5. Everyone Else is Doing SEO

In today’s highly competitive business environment, you should use every available tool and process to your advantage. If you are not using SEO, there is a very good chance your competitor is. Is this a chance worth taking?

It is also possible that your competitor is not very good in SEO. In either scenario, including SEO in your business development plan at the very least, evens out the playing field with your competitors.

Conclusion

In view of the continued growth and influence of the Internet and the increasing popularity of mobile devices, online marketing will remain your best option to market and promote your business.

Having a mobile-responsive website is a step in the right direction but optimizing its content will certainly help accelerate its growth and visibility on the Internet. Thus it is very important to invest in an SEO program now more than ever before.

Think of SEO as the Sun with the various processes as the planets revolving around it. An effective SEO strategy will keep the processes aligned and in place so your business can identify, capitalize and monetize on the opportunities available on the Internet.

If you enjoyed what you just read, please share your comments and opinions below. We certainly would love to hear more from you.

If you wish to know more about SEO, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an e-mail. We will be more than happy to discuss how our digital marketing company can craft an effective, results-oriented strategy for you.

 

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What Does It Take To Be An Entrepreneur? https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/what-does-it-take-to-be-an-entrepreneur/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/what-does-it-take-to-be-an-entrepreneur/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 18:00:12 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=668 There is nothing wrong with dreaming but unless you act upon it, dreams are all you’ll ever have. And that is what makes entrepreneurs special; they work to live their dreams and make it a reality.

An idea is like a seed. It can be planted in your head but unless you nurture it with planning, action, and implementation it will never grow and bear fruit. Do you have what it takes?

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A moment of inspiration is all it takes to have an idea. You could be in a coffee shop or on your third mile on the treadmill when the light bulb comes on. Every entrepreneur will tell you they have the greatest idea since the can opener but the question is, “Where will you go from here?” Will you execute the idea or will it remain a dream?

There is nothing wrong with dreaming but unless you act upon it, dreams are all you’ll ever have. And that is what makes entrepreneurs special; they work to live their dreams and make it a reality.

An idea is like a seed. It can be planted in your head but unless you nurture it with planning, action, and implementation it will never grow and bear fruit.

My Story

My lightbulb moment came after successfully building my first website. Sure it presented several challenges but I loved every minute of it.

There were times when design or programming issues left me feeling stumped. But these types of situations encouraged me to push beyond boundaries. Every challenge I overcame served to make me a better web designer.

I also discovered there was a strong market for web design services because the Internet was growing in popularity and influence.

The Internet evolved from technology that was only accessible via dial-up before broadband came around in 2004. In 1995, the Internet was available only to 16 Million people. By 2004, more than 745 Million people could use the Internet.

Today there are more than 3.6 Billion users of the Internet every day!

At the time the light bulb came on in my head, I was still learning the intricacies of web design. In my research, I was surprised to learn that despite the growing presence of the Internet, less than 50% of small businesses owned websites.

I thought, “If nearly 50% of the world’s population was on the Internet every day, wouldn’t you want your business to be accessible to them?” The Internet offered many advantages for entrepreneurs and small business owners:

  • 24/7 operation.
  • Availability of free, downloadable business tools and software.
  • More efficient avenues for marketing and promoting your business like social media, blogging and link building.
  • Low start up capital.
  • Low maintenance costs.

The website is your window to the Internet. It makes your business accessible to everyone. It’s like having a storefront display in this place called the World Wide Web.

In addition to standard research methodologies, I also spoke with many small business owners in my community and asked them their thoughts on the Internet and websites in general.

It turned out majority of small business owners knew what a website was but were clueless on how it could help their business become profitable.

That was the moment a seed was planted in my head. Eventually I would nurture the seed to become Mountaintop Web Design. It was a venture that allowed me to build a career out of my passion for web design.

As an entrepreneur, I now have the means to help other businesses accomplish their goals of achieving profitability by providing quality web design and digital marketing services.


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6 Important Lessons for the Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is never a sure thing. Nothing is ever guaranteed. Some people quit their day jobs to start their own business only to regret it afterward. It can be a rude awakening. Statistically, 50% of small businesses fail within the first 4 years and the survival rate gradually declines every year thereafter.

Yet despite the daunting numbers, 98% of the businesses registered every day are considered small scale enterprises. No wonder entrepreneurs are considered the new engines of growth of the economy!

But what does it take to be an entrepreneur? What qualities set apart the doers from the dreamers?

1. Accept the Reality of Failure

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to accept the inevitably of failure. It will happen somehow, somewhere and without warning. There are more failures than there are successes.

Failure is a constant companion in the journey. But it is not there to destroy us. On the contrary, failure exists to teach us how to get better.

Rather than wallow in self-pity, use the experience to improve your overall proposition. Go ahead and ask the “Why’s”, “How’s” and “What’s” but spend more time looking for answers than uncovering questions. The more failures you endure, the closer you get to achieving success.

Failure is not your enemy. It is your best friend, your teacher. Do not fear failure; embrace it as a prerequisite for success.

2. Learn How to Execute

Even if you have acquired funding, an idea will not take fruition unless it is properly executed. An idea that is poorly executed will result in losses even as early as the start up stage.

It is not uncommon for other entrepreneurs to have a business idea that is similar to yours. A good example would be the ride-sharing industry. Uber created the market in 2008. Since then, the industry has opened up to other players such as Lyft, Sidecar, Curb, Grab and Didi Chuxing.

Sidecar crashed and burned in 2015. Grab partnered with Lyft and Didi Chuxing formed an alliance with Ola in order to challenge Uber’s dominance.

Uber’s execution of its business strategy set the standard for everyone else to follow. While its market share may have eroded due to the collaborative efforts of its competitors, Uber still reigns supreme.

3. Let Your Passion Drive You

As an entrepreneur, I can say from experience that passion is the strongest driver in business. When you love what you do, there is no problem that is too difficult to solve. There is no situation you cannot handle. There is nothing you will not do to make the product or service better.

Passion makes time irrelevant; it makes the hours and days go by much quicker. Tim Ferris used to spend 14 hours working every day on his supplement company BrainQUICKEN. He admitted it was not the most efficient way to get things done but logging in the long hours was what he wanted to do.

The most important advice I can give you is that If you want to start a business, it must be something you are passionate about. But passion alone will not ensure your success.

You must take the time to conduct thorough research about your business. Create a business plan as a reference point. If you don’t know how to make one, commission someone who can.

4. Understand that Sacrifice is Part of the Journey

Those who have crossed over from the 9-to-5 office grind to entrepreneurship thought they would have more control over their work schedule. To a certain extent that is true. As an entrepreneur, there are no log-ins and time clocks to record your work hours.

But the reality is the sacrifices are much greater. As an employee, you work within an assigned work shift and are paid a fixed salary every 15th and 30th. As an entrepreneur, you have no fixed work schedule. Your income will depend on your company’s performance.

You will discover there are times that you have to work more than 48 hours a week. I have struggled with the internal conflict of trying to be productive all the time. I have even had to make the choice of missing time with family and friends.

At certain times, I felt like I needed to put in more hours working so I could finish more websites and be available to take on more projects for clients.

The bottom-line is entrepreneurs need to learn to find balance between life and work. Having a business that pays the bills and measures income with productivity is a great thing. But always remember that you should work to live and not live to work.  

Life should never just be about work. You could lose your business but your family and friends will always be there for you.

5. Be Open Minded

In Eric Reis’ book, “The Lean Start-Up” he noted that entrepreneurs “live in a vacuum”. They believe their idea is great and flawless. Allowing yourself to be lulled into this false sense of complacency will have damaging consequences when things don’t go as planned.

As an entrepreneur, you must have an open mind and accept there are things you cannot control. This is especially true in this age of the Internet. Consumers have immediate access to a wide range of information. Their tastes and preferences can easily be influenced by social media, a blog, a post, or an article.

Instead of trying to come up with “The Perfect Plan”, focus on flexibility. Make sure your business model can adapt to unexpected changes in business conditions.

6. Embrace Learning as a Never-Ending Process

If you think you know everything you need to learn about your business, think again. If you did, you would never have to deal with problems every working day and you would be raking in money like Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook generates $2 Billion every quarter. There are 1.9 Billion active Facebook users which means it accounts for 52% of Internet users every day. Zuckerberg himself is worth billions.

So why does Mark Zuckerberg read 1 book every week? The same number as Microsoft founder Bill Gates?

These billionaires make reading part of their daily routine because they want to keep on learning. Even established industry giants like Facebook and Microsoft encounter problems every day.

For them, learning should be a never-ending process. And it should be for you as well. Strive to improve on your strengths and build your weaknesses by acquiring as much knowledge as you can.

The Entrepreneurial Journey

People like to say “entrepreneurs are only in the business of making money”. Of course, unless you are a non-profit organization, the objective of business is to generate profit. It should go without saying that people go into business to make money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But I believe that if your goal of making money has come to a point that it has consumed you, then you may never accomplish it. Those who only think about the money, will abandon ship once the business starts sinking.

I’ve seen graphics that depict the road to entrepreneurial success as a straight line. Nothing could be more further from the truth.

The journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain. You have to prepare and plan months before the climb. It’s not just a physical challenge. It also exerts a toll on your mind and spirit.

Obstacles can arise during the climb that would require strategy and precise execution. It is hard work but getting to the top makes all the time, effort and sacrifices worthwhile!

Everyone wants to climb the highest peak but you can’t hope to achieve that without overcoming smaller mountains first. That is why a mountain is the metaphor for my web design company, we are here to help you make the climb.

When you are looking up the mountain from its base, the climb would seem like a daunting, seemingly impossible task. But all you have to do is take that first step up the mountain to get the journey started. One step at a time; never look down and keep your focus on getting to the top.

Starting a business is an exciting time; but it is also nerve-wracking and filled with anxious moments. Once you take that first step, the climb eventually becomes smoother and easier. The challenges that lie ahead will only serve to make you better. It takes a force stronger than money to survive the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Do you have your own story on entrepreneurship that you would like to share? Please post in the comments section below. Your experiences will definitely help those in our audience who plan to become entrepreneurs. We would love to hear from you!  

 

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SSL: What it is and Why Your Business Needs It https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/ssl-business-needs/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/ssl-business-needs/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 18:00:52 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=619 SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a method of encrypting communication between computer networks as data travels through the Internet. SSL will assure the recipient that the data came from a verified sender. When you want to buy products from an e-commerce site, you will be asked to provide information to the retailer. The information you send to the retailer may go through a number of servers and networks before finally reaching its destination. It is during this process of transfer that your information is at risk of being intercepted by the bad guys unless it is encrypted.

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The Internet opens up an ocean of opportunities for business. Every day more than 3.5 Billion people are online; searching for information, looking for best value products and services or building their network. A website becomes a 24/7 store window to a global community of consumers. Unfortunately, the vast expanse of the Internet has also opened up opportunities for unsavory characters. The ones who unscrupulously break into your store window and steal your data. You can never have enough security in the Internet and that is why you need SSL.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a method of encrypting communication between computer networks as data travels through the Internet. SSL will assure the recipient that the data came from a verified sender.

When you want to buy products from an e-commerce site, you will be asked to provide information to the retailer. The information you send to the retailer may go through a number of servers and networks before finally reaching its destination.

It is during this process of transfer that your information is at risk of being intercepted by the bad guys unless it is encrypted.

E-commerce sites such as Amazon and a payment processor like PayPal have SSL certification. When you interact with companies that have SSL certificates, you are guaranteed of dealing with legitimate businesses.

How Does SSL Protect Your Site’s Users?

The year 2016 was a banner year for data hackers. In that year alone, more than 2 Billion records were stolen. Blogging site Tumblr reported that 65 Million accounts were hacked. MySpace became relevant for the wrong reason as it reported 427 Million accounts were stolen. Search engine Yahoo confirmed that more than 500 million accounts were compromised.

The threat of hacking has made people more wary of patronizing Internet- based businesses. Personal information such as Social Security Number (SSN), bank account and credit card numbers once illegally obtained can place the consumer at serious risk. Credit card fraud is estimated to hit $14 Billion in 2020.  

SSL facilitates communication between the user’s browser and the website it is trying to access. When a website has an SSL Certificate from a trusted source, the browser will recognize it. If the user has to send sensitive information, the SSL will encrypt it before it is sent. SSL will also be used to decrypt the information once it has been received.

If your online business requires site users to provide valuable or confidential information, it is highly advised that you get SSL certification.

SSL certificates protect your site users in the following ways:

  1. Enables encryption of sensitive data when an online transaction is performed. Thus, the information remains protected during the transfer.
  2. An SSL certificate is a unique credential; it authenticates and verifies the sender of information.
  3. Your site users would feel more secure because the identity of the certificate holder is verified before the certificate is released.

Think of an SSL certificate as having a seal of trust on your website. Getting an SSL certificate will give you a definite edge over a competitor that does not have it.

What Types of Information Must Be Protected?

Generally you should protect all types of information that could result in monetary loss or legal entanglements for your site users once there is a serious breach in data security.

Here is a short list of types of information that you must absolutely protect:

  1. User Authentication; this includes usernames and passwords to access an account. According to reports, hackers attempt to break into Facebook accounts 600,000 times every day.
  2. Financial Information; among the most sought after figures are credit card numbers, bank accounts and online order numbers.
  3. Sensitive Personal Information; some websites, especially those engaged in consumer services such as telecommunications require users to provide SSN, passport and driver’s license numbers and birth dates. These bits of information once stolen will open the user to risk of identity theft.
  4. Medical Information and Reports on Health Condition; these types of information should be tightly guarded as the consequences on the patient can be severe.
  5. Proprietary Information; highly important if you work with clients or people that require security and protection for legal documents, technology transfers, classified software and customer databases.

If you want extended coverage, you may also wish to include Customer Account areas and signup forms that require site users to provide personal information.

How Will a User Know Your Website Has SSL Certificates?

A user will know that your website has SSL Certificate in 4 ways:

  • A padlock appears on the website’s browser screen.
  • The website’s address in their browser reads https://. Please take note of the extra “s” that appears after http.
  • The address bar’s background will have a green color which indicates the level of security it has in place.
  • You might find an SSL image at the bottom of the web page.

A website that has SSL certificates assures the user of the protection and integrity of any confidential information that has to be submitted.

5 Benefits of SSL

The online business is fast becoming the preferred model of budding entrepreneurs and startups. It’s set up costs are lower than traditional brick- and- mortar establishments, comparatively easier to manage and it presents more benefits to the consumer.

The trend toward patronizing Internet- based businesses can be seen with the number of retail stores shutting down the previous years. As competition increases in the online business industry, you have to constantly find ways to win customers over to your website.

SSL Certificates can give your website the following benefits:

  1. Professionalize Your Business –  Part of the process of getting SSL Certificates is having your website checked by the issuing authority. Having SSL Certificates tells users your website has passed quality assurance and safety tests.
  2. Enhance Customer Loyalty – If users know it is safe to use your site, they will come back and continue to patronize your services. They could even generate referrals for your business.
  3. Bring in More Shoppers – With concerns on identity theft increasing, consumers will choose websites that offer more protection and security. If asked to pick between 2 e-commerce stores; “A” which has SSL and “B” which does not, consumers will almost always choose “A”.
  4. Generate More Paying Customers – Many e-commerce websites are confounded by site users abandoning the purchase at the checkout counter. The reason is consumers get “cold feet” when they are asked to provide their credit card number. SSL Certificates can help push the shopper to complete the sale. A reputable checkout system will offer SSL to your user but having your own SSL will further encourage the user to become a customer.
  5. Protect Information – With SSL, protection goes both ways. It will also protect the information you send out to customers and site visitors. For example, as part of your marketing campaign, you might decide to send out discount coupons or promo vouchers to your customers. With SSL Certificates in place, these marketing materials will be protected with encryption when you send them out to the recipients.

Conclusion

The reality is there is no such thing as a 100% completely infallible security system. If you send confidential information to a website that does not require a password, having SSL Certificates will not be enough to prevent unauthorized viewing.

You should also know that the process of encrypting and decrypting data takes time, uses up computer resources and works the server harder. It will slow down the loading time of your website. If your application does not require the transfer of sensitive information, then SSL certification may not be necessary.

However for those who run e-commerce websites and online businesses that ask users to provide confidential data, there is no doubt you should get SSL Certificates. It will assure users their transaction will be safe and enhance the reputation of your website as a business they can trust.

If you want to get SSL for your website, this can be done for you by your website developer or web host service provider.

You will need to purchase an SSL certificate from an authorized vendor. Your web designer or web host should be able to make recommendations. The vendor will verify your identity before issuing the certificates. Be aware that an annual fee may be charged by the vendor.

Once you have the certificate, it has to be installed on your server so you can activate the “https://” connection.

The web developer will then move to configure your website to make sure all the security connections are properly in place and functioning. If you have an e-commerce business, the web developer has to ensure the certificates can do its job when a user logs in or is about to complete a transaction in the shopping cart.

If our article has encouraged you to pursue an online business that needs SSL certificates, please feel free to give us a call or an e-mail. We have successfully installed SSL certificates on a good number of websites that we have created.

Let us know if you’re interested to learn more about SSL Certificates. We’ll be more than happy to answer questions you may have on whether your online business needs it or not.

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How to Choose Your Web Host https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/choose-web-host/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/choose-web-host/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:00:17 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=580 Choosing your web host can seem like a daunting task because there are thousands of web host providers out there. You can get caught up with all the advertising and marketing and realize later on there is another one better.

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As a professional web design company, one of the things we ask clients is if they already have a web host service provider in mind. Finding the right web host is important because your site’s speed, stability and security will depend on your choice of service provider. If your web host turns out to be unreliable, you could end up losing key opportunities for your business. On the flip side a reliable web host will make life and work so much easier.

We’ve seen it all before. Clients come to us complaining how their web host has led to headaches and prolonged periods of stress. The reality is, changing web host service providers isn’t easy. Migrating a website to another host has its own set of challenges.

Choosing your web host can seem like a daunting task because there are thousands of web host providers out there. You can get caught up with all the advertising and marketing and realize later on there is another one better.

The purpose of this article is to simplify the process for you. We break down everything you need to know to make an educated choice. Hopefully you will come away with enough information to confidently choose the right web host for your business.

What is Web Hosting?

A web host company maintains specially configured computers called servers which run on a variety of operating systems such as Windows or Linux. The purpose of these servers is to connect websites to the Internet. You are able to view the content of a website by connecting with its server and accessing it with your browser.

To make an analogy, a web host is like an apartment manager. You rent a space on his server (the apartment complex) and in exchange, he will host your website from there. Once you place all your files on the server, the web host will open it up to allow Internet users to access your content.

If the web host is your apartment, the domain name is your address. When you sign up for web hosting services, you will be given an IP address which is presented as a series of numbers such as 123.456.78.987. Your IP address is where people will look to find you.

But numbers can be difficult to remember which is why you need a domain name. Thus instead of typing 123.456.78.987, people can just type a domain name like www.mountaintopdesign.com and they will be redirected to your IP address.

Determine the Needs of Your Website and Host

The search for your web host starts with knowing what your website needs. Even if you find a service provider with the best references and highest number of recommendations, it will underperform if it cannot meet your site requirements.

Here’s a checklist of questions we go through with clients so we can pinpoint the type of web hosting service they need:

  1. How will the website be built? – There are different ways to approach web design. We could use WordPress or static HTML and these will have their own technical specifications which the web host should be able to accommodate.
  2. Does your website require more security features? – An e-commerce website which processes credit card payments and houses personal information will need more security features than a blog site. If you’re planning to put up an e-commerce website, the web host should have the ability to support high level security features.
  3. How would you want e-mail hosting managed? – Having your own domain name gives you the distinction of a personalized e-mail address. In business, a branded e-mail address is perceived as more professional than using a yahoo.com or gmail.com address. It tells clients how invested you are in your own business and it helps with your branding strategy. But you do have a choice of having another provider manage your webmail. Check with the web host company to see if its current e-mail accommodation plan suits your needs.
  4. How much data would your website be storing and serving? – Data that is predominantly text-based will require less storage capacity than one which is image heavy. The size of your data will determine not just the amount of storage space but also bandwidth.
  5. How much traffic do you anticipate? – At the start, you can safely assume low volume of site traffic. But you should have plans in place when your business begins to gain traction and traffic volume becomes heavier.
  6. What is your budget for hosting? – If your budget is limited, you will have to do away with some extra perks. Review your monthly budget carefully and assess if stretching it out a bit will significantly affect your cash flow.

Once we have ironed out the details of the website, you can now shift your focus to finding the right web host for your business. It will be easier and clearer for you to review the different website hosting plans presented by each service provider.

Types of Website Hosting Plans

Here are a few website hosting plans you might come across during your search for the right web host:

  1. Individual Plans – These are highly affordable plans best suited for websites that don’t require specialized features or a high volume of traffic. Individual plans are limited in terms of the number of domains to be supported, Internet bandwidth and data storage capacity. Individual plan subscribers share server space with other webmasters.
  2. Dedicated Servers – In this hosting plan, the web host company will provide your business with its own server. Obviously, this plan will cost significantly more than an Individual subscription but it lays down the contingencies should your business grow faster than expected. Before signing up, make sure the web host allows a transition from Individual to Dedicated subscription.
  3. Reseller Accounts – If you plan to set up several other small websites, the Reseller Account could be the subscription for you. This gives you the option to establish multiple individual plans in a single account.

When choosing the type of web hosting plan, always think of your business as a dynamic, ever-evolving entity that will be a constant work in progress. With the Internet and social media, the challenge for a business is to keep track of changes in tastes, trends and demand preferences of consumers. Your website has to be ready to accommodate these changes without missing a beat.

How to Qualify Your Web Host Service Provider

Hopefully at this point, you have a clearer picture of what you are looking for in a web host service provider. You know what web hosting does, what your website needs and an idea of the subscription packages most service providers carry. It’s time to sift through the list of web hosting services and find the one that will support the requirements of your website.

Here are the key points to consider when qualifying your web host service provider:

  • Cost – Entrepreneurs and small business owners especially those in the process of launching startups have good reason to prioritize cost. What we like to advise our clients is to view the cost of web hosting not as an expense but an investment. The performance of your web host will have a direct effect on the performance of your website. Don’t hesitate to shell out a few more bucks per month for a web host with features that can ably service and support your online business.
  • Customer Reviews – These are valuable references for qualifying service providers. There are customers who will gladly take the opportunity to heap praise upon a vendor for excellent service or vent their ire on one that came up short of expectations. Take your time to read as many reviews as possible. Keep an open mind and don’t be swayed by biases toward a particular vendor. Note down the pros and cons shared by the reviewers and bring these issues up with the vendor during discussions.
  • Customer Support – It does not matter whether you are a beginner or an experienced online business proprietor. You will always need good, reliable customer support from your web host service provider. Customer support should be accessible from multiple points of contact. The web host company should have chat support, e-mail support and inbound calling services available 24/7.
  • Script Support – You may also want to look for a web host service that offers support for a variety of popular scripts. It should make it easy for you to install your choice of platform. For example, if you want to use WordPress, there are web host services that limit the number of MySQL databases you need to create in order to support this platform.
  • Security – All websites should install their own security measures. But it would be great if the web host company can provide additional security features as well. Find out if they offer firewalls, malware detection services or if their servers can monitor for suspicious activity. On the Internet, you can never have too many security measures in place.
  • Backup Support – The thing with hackers is that they will always try to be one step ahead of security. Despite the best laid-out plans, hackers will find ways to shut you down. You should never get complacent when it comes to protecting the integrity of your online business. An important consideration when choosing your web host provider is the availability of backup support. There are companies that factor in frequent backups to make sure if something happens, they can help you restore your website.
  • E-mail Availability – Most web host companies offer e-mail support. Just the same, ask how many e-mail accounts are provided so you will know for sure if it will be enough to accommodate your needs.

The effectiveness of your website is contingent on the ability of the web host company to give consistently reliable service. There are many outstanding web host service providers in the market. If you find one that best fits your website needs, it will make your business run smoothly, efficiently and trouble-free.

Our years of experience working with different web host providers and designing websites have given us valuable insights on what clients need. Thus at Mountaintop we do more than just design quality websites. We also offer web hosting services that fit your budget and the needs of your business.  If you want to learn more about our web hosting package, give us a call or drop us an e-mail. We would be happy to discuss how these services will benefit your business.

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How Fast Is Your Website? https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/how-fast-is-your-website/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/how-fast-is-your-website/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:00:42 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=567 In business, the difference between success and failure can be measured in seconds. Opportunities can come around knocking; or clicking on your website URL, every day. If your website speed isn’t fast enough to open the door, opportunity will turn around and find someone else. Speed is an overlooked quality in website design. Not many entrepreneurs are aware that a one second delay in loading time can lead to thousands of dollars in foregone income.

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How Website Speed Can Affect Your Business Bottom Line

In business, the difference between success and failure can be measured in seconds. Opportunities can come around knocking; or clicking on your website URL, every day. If your website speed isn’t fast enough to open the door, opportunity will turn around and find someone else. Speed is an overlooked quality in website design. Not many entrepreneurs are aware that a one second delay in loading time can lead to thousands of dollars in foregone income.

Built for Speed: The Case for Fast and Responsive Website Design

Unless it’s for dry aged, prime rib Angus beef, nothing is worth the wait. In the Internet, people are less forgiving. Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between page loading time and page abandonment. The longer time it takes for a page to load the greater the probability of the user leaving the page.

Although the study revealed more people expect web pages to load a bit slower on a mobile device than a PC, a 30% reported they would still abandon the search if it took longer than 6 to 10 seconds.

For e-commerce websites, the expectations for speed are even higher. A 2009 study commissioned by Forrester Consulting showed that 40% of shoppers would abandon a retail site if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

As mobile devices continue to dominate online traffic, expect speed to become a more important factor in determining the search ranking of your website. This is because search engine giant Google has begun transitioning to its “Mobile First” advocacy where website speed is a ranking factor.

This should not come as a surprise because Google has made it clear it favors fast loading websites. Google has always been about enhancing UX or User Experience and speed has been one of its determining factors.

A website with favorable UX will most certainly enjoy higher conversion rates than one that doesn’t. As far back as 2011, Google has been pushing websites to focus on improving its loading speed.

It’s not enough to have a mobile responsive website. You must make sure it loads fast enough to keep your visitors interested.

How Will the Lack of Speed Affect Your Bottom Line?

Because site speed is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, the faster your website, the higher its search ranking. The higher your ranking, the greater the opportunities for generating more traffic.  

It all comes back to UX. If a visitor likes his experience in your website, he will be encouraged to explore its content further. If the experience is not pleasant, he will click out of your page and this will increase your site’s bounce rate. Google uses bounce rate to determine UX. A high bounce rate will get you penalized in the search rankings.

A 2010 study revealed that a website that took more than 6 seconds to load experienced a 40% decrease in conversion rate. Fast forward to 2014, and the same loading time resulted in a 50% decrease in conversion rates. Please take note that in 2010, the desktop PC still accounted for the majority of online traffic.

In terms of earning potential, a study on website speed has shown how it can lead to thousands of dollars of foregone income. Basically, a one- second delay in website speed can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.

In monetary terms, if your business makes $5,000 a month, a one- second delay in website speed can lead to a foregone income of $350 per month or $4,200 annually. Can your business afford to take a $350 hit every month?

Now can you imagine what a one- second delay would mean to companies that make $100,000 or $1,000,000 per month?

How Fast Should Your Website Be?

As mentioned, a majority of people expect websites to load a bit more slowly on mobile devices than its PC counterpart.

But what exactly is “a bit more slowly” mean in terms of seconds?

The average page loading time of the top ranking sites in Google has been measured to be between 9.82 seconds and 13.84 seconds. An updated study on mobile web sites showed that its average loading time is 19 seconds over 3G connections.

Mobile users appear to have very high expectations of website speed with 53% of respondents stating that they would abandon the page if it took longer than 3 seconds to load.

Comparing websites that loaded in 5 seconds versus those that loaded in 19 seconds, the faster websites enjoyed 25% higher ad viewability, 70% longer sessions and 35% improvement in bounce rates.

There lies the challenge for the professional web designer. It must be mobile responsive with the ability to load in 3 to 5 seconds.

Factors That Affect Website Speed

If your website is not loading fast enough, the first area where you should look is your web host provider.

One of the problems of sharing a server is unpredictable quality of service. Some days you’re fast. Some days you’re just furious. If you’re using WordPress, you will get better performance by signing up with WordPress premium managed hosting services.

Other factors that affect website speed include:

  • Unoptimized Images- Your site may have both JPG and PNG images which contain extra data to accommodate comments. As a rule, JPG images are better for photos while PNG works best for logos.
  • Widget/ Plugin Overload – It could also be your social media sharing buttons. The Facebook “Like” button downloads 83 KB of data in 1.34 seconds.
  • Incompatible Browser, Plugins and Apps – For sure, many of you have had problems with Flash and the Chrome browser. Flash isn’t even compatible with many mobile devices.
  • Too Many Ads – Once your website gains traction, placing ads is a great way to earn passive income. However, slow loading ads can turn off site visitors.
  • Sign Up Forms – The back end code of a submission form typical of AWeber or Google Feedburner can slow down your site speed.
  • Analytics Code – On-site analytics tools are valuable for measuring performance but it doesn’t take much to weigh down your website’s loading speed. Before introducing new analytics tools, test your site speed first.
  • Design Theme – The most effective website is the one that can balance aesthetics and functionality. Adding that colorful image may make your website more beautiful. But if it severely impacts your website speed, you’d be better off without it.
  • Embedded Media such as Videos and Slide Presentation – Have you ever gone to a website with embedded videos? It can get frustrating when it takes time for the video to load. And the problem is usually from the website from where it is hosted. It would be advisable to host content on your own server.

How to Test Your Website’s Speed

If you’re curious to see how fast your website loads, there are a number of tools you can use to measure its speed.

  • WebPage Test – This Google- supported speed checker will give you detailed charts, measure Page Speed optimization and will provide suggestions after analyzing your score.
  • PageSpeed Insights – An easy to use tool that will measure performance of both desktop and mobile versions of your website. Recommendations will be categorized according to priority.
  • MonsterInsights – Perfect pairing with WordPress; it can be used to determine SEO and measure load time with different browsers.
  • YSlow – Created by Yahoo!; provides grades from a pre-defined user set of rules, summary of improvement and performance analyses.
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test – It can measure speed in browsers like Chrome and can compare your performance with other tools such as MonsterInsights and YSlow.
  • GTMetrix – You will receive 2 grades; one from GTMetrix and the second from YSlow. You will also get a history of your speed loading times.
  • WebPage Analyzer – Gives you data on page size, download time and composition plus valuable advice on how to improve website speed.
  • LoadImpact – Website analysis assumes a scenario whereby your site is packed with users. This way, you will know what to do given the situation and load speed has been compromised.
  • PageSpeedTool – Gives you in-depth analysis on page load time plus tests at different connection speeds.

Should You Speed Up Your Website?

There are those who say website speed isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. They point out the speed is only one of 200 ranking signals that Google uses to evaluate websites.

Some will argue that less than one percent of search queries are affected by site speed.

But the numbers on the performance of businesses with slow loading websites do not lie. A slow- loading website will definitely affect your chances of converting those leads you’ve worked so hard to generate into paying customers.

If you want to build up your business’ bottom line, you should speed up your website.

You should also keep in mind the irrefutable fact that Google loves speed. And if you don’t want to catch a virus when Google sneezes, you better do what you can to get your website running like Usain Bolt on the last 40 meters of a race.

Finally, just place yourself in the same padded chair of an Internet user. You would feel less likely to push through with the search if the site takes too long to load. It’s not an opinion; it’s basic human nature to detest waiting.

Do you have ideas, thoughts and opinions that were not covered? Please feel free to e- mail us or comment below and share your experiences with websites.

If you want to know how we can bring your website up to speed, give us a call or drop an e-mail. We’ll get back to you within a click of the mouse!

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10 Qualities of a Professional Web Designer https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/10-qualities-professional-web-designer/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/10-qualities-professional-web-designer/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 14:51:29 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=541 It’s easy to find web designers. A simple search on the Internet will yield links to several agencies and freelancers offering website design services. You can sign up with various online job platforms and send invites to select freelance web designers or post details on your project. You can connect with web designers in social media networks such as LinkedIn or ask referrals from your contacts in Facebook.

The real challenge is to find a professional web designer who can do the right job for you.

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Entrepreneurs are amazing people. They are creative and at the same time, analytical. It only takes a moment’s inspiration to trigger an idea. Entrepreneurs know they have to capture the idea and transpose it from a visual on a sketchpad into a website design that best represents the concept through the medium of the Internet. From there, the visual should have the capability to seamlessly manifest in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. But as creative as entrepreneurs are, they need the help of a professional web designer to turn that visual into a fully functional, aesthetic website.

It’s easy to find web designers. A simple search on the Internet will yield links to several agencies and freelancers offering website design services. You can sign up with various online job platforms and send invites to select freelance web designers or post details on your project. You can connect with web designers in social media networks such as LinkedIn or ask referrals from your contacts in Facebook.

The real challenge is to find a professional web designer who can do the right job for you.  

If you came up with a shortlist of 5 web designers, all of them may have similar experiences, technical and fundamental competencies but not everyone may build your website according to what you want. They may not even capture your vision. There are intangibles you need to look out for when qualifying your right- fit web designer.

Here the top 10 qualities you should look for in a professional web designer:

  1. Empathy

When you start collaborating with a web designer, the objective is to create a website that will attract your target market. It may seem superficial but studies have shown that the initial perception of your website will be based on how it looks.

  • Designs with the user in mind – A professional web designer will not design for himself but with a specific audience in mind. Customized design will require extensive research work.

In addition to the information you provide, a professional web designer will undertake further studies to learn the online behavioral traits of specific demographics.

His objective is to develop a keen understanding of your audience. He wants to get to know them better, so he will know the best approach in designing your website.

  • Navigability – In his book “Don’t Make Me Think” Steve Krug revealed that the greater the effort a user extends in navigating the site, the less memorable the experience. A good web designer understands the importance of User Experience or UX in web design. Poor UX will result in lower search rankings.
  • Functionality – Nothing is more frustrating for a user than a website that does not load fast or have malfunctioning buttons. These inconveniences can have disastrous consequences for the website.

A professional web designer will view the design of your website from the perspective of the end user. It must conform to his or her needs, wants and expectations. When users enter your website they know they are in the right place. They will want to explore further and not click out.

  1. Analytical

Like the entrepreneur, a good website designer balances empathy with precision through the use of data. If empathy focuses on the image, analytics will build the substance of your website.

  • Designs with SEO in mind – Search Engine Optimization or SEO functions to have your website found on the Internet.

It does this by optimizing your web pages with the precise ratio of keywords so that the search engine robots won’t have a hard time finding your content and getting it indexed. Keywords may be used in descriptive, title and meta tags to fast track the search process.

  • Purposeful Content – Keywords can only go as far as drawing attention to content. The harder challenge is maintaining the user’s interest which is largely dependent on your content’s relevance, usability and uniqueness.

For example, what the user sees and reads during the first 10 seconds on the Home Page will determine whether he or she will further explore your website. Composition of web copy; its images and text, is very important to capture interest of the user.

  • Strategic Use of Design Elements – The loading time of your web page can be affected by design elements such as color, use of animation, the use of forms and status messages. A slow loading website can have serious implications on its ability to generate patronage and revenues. A website designer will frequently run tests to make sure speed and functionality will not be compromised by the elements of design.
  1.  Trustworthiness

Trust is a value that you earn over time. But when working with people, oftentimes you can depend on intuition to tell you if someone is trustworthy or not.

When you are collaborating with a web designer, you are entrusting your vision and ultimately your business with that person. If you don’t feel comfortable working with the web designer, chances are the arrangement will not turn out well.

What are the warning signs?

  • If there’s a lot of resistance on your ideas.
  • The web designer is habitually absent or late for meetings.
  • The web designer is behind the development schedule.
  • He or she can be rude and sometimes makes crass comments.
  • He or she is more worried about not getting paid on time than getting the project done on time.

These types of incidents are potential red flags. Disagreements are part of collaboration. But if you are frequently clashing heads, not only will you fall behind the launch date but you may not end up with the website you want.

  1.  Passion

You can tell if a person has passion for what he does. There’s an unmistakable energy and enthusiasm in how he approaches work because he loves his job. For him, web design is not just a means of livelihood. It’s an opportunity to help clients meet their business objectives.

During meetings, he is candid and open about his opinions and observations. His intent is to give you the best website for your hard- earned money. He cares about your project and actively offers solutions.

On the other hand, a web designer who only does it for the money is hardly expressive or involved. All he wants to do is carry out your instructions lock, stock and barrel without giving much of an opinion. In his mind, the sooner he gets the job done, the earlier he gets paid.

  1. Good Listener

A professional web designer will always acknowledge the client as the expert in what he or she does. He understands that his role is to turn the client’s vision into a collection of web pages and multimedia content by using his knowledge on website design.

If he wants to have a better idea on how to interpret the client’s vision, he should be a good listener. Allow the client to express his or her ideas as openly and candidly as possible. This is the best way to develop an understanding of the client’s vision and branding strategy.

  1. Effective Communicator

Communication is often described as a two- way street. When collaborating with your web designer, you must constantly bounce ideas off one another. Creating a feedback loop between you and web designer opens up the chain of communication and reduces the probability of making mistakes.

A web designer who is also an effective communicator knows how to relay opposing viewpoints without discouraging or embarrassing the client. He prefers to have regular scheduled meetings in order to have the proper forum to discuss concerns, updates and other issues.

  1. Understands the Value of White Spaces

White Spaces are also called “negative space”. A professional web designer knows how to utilize white spaces and turn something empty into sophisticated elegance that remains simple yet understated.

There are many benefits to using white spaces:

  • Attracts attention to a certain visual
  • Improves readability
  • Highlights orientation of the page
  • Clears out distractions on the page
  • Gives the page a cleaner look

For the best web designers, white isn’t an empty color. They know how to use it to breathe more life into the web page.

  1. Solutions- Based

Several things can go wrong when building a website. The page may not load fast enough, it may not set up properly in a smartphone or design issues may leave you and the designer stumped.

A good website designer does not merely settle for alternatives. He looks for solutions and exhausts all possibilities even before considering other options.

  1.  Meticulous

The saying “the devil is in the details” rings loud and true in website design.

There are many key areas of responsibility to oversee when building websites. A website designer who is not meticulous in his work process might overlook details that may lead to costly mistakes.

A website designer should be able to look into the details against the overall backdrop of the concept. The question he must constantly ask himself is, “How does this element or feature fit in?” Tests are frequently run to make sure the website is not only aesthetically pleasing but highly functional and usable.

  1.      Proactive

They might have the experience, skills and necessary proficiencies, but the best website designers know their limitations. They could be stuck with a programming or design issue but instead of wasting time trying to figure it out by themselves, they will reach out to people who can help them.

Of course, the web designer will inform you of the situation and how he plans to resolve it. This way you can keep track of the development schedule and know everything that is happening with your website.

How Do You Know You Have the Right Web Designer?

If you have not worked with a professional web designer before, you might place too much emphasis on technical qualifications and work experience. This is perfectly fine but do not overlook personality, attitude and other key behavioral traits.

Take the time to get to know your website designer better. Invite the candidate to an interview and ask the following questions:

  • Why did he or she decide to become a web designer?
  • What are the web designer’s goals, objectives and motivators?
  • What was the web designer’s biggest challenge and how did he or she overcome it?
  • How does the web designer feel about closely collaborating with the client?
  • How does he or she define “professionalism”?
  • What does he or she consider important qualities of a professional web designer?

The reality is, you will only know if you’ve found the right web designer once you start working together. Like all relationships, it is normal to hit rough patches every now and then but these differences should be resolved right away.

If it’s not working out and all efforts to move forward have fallen on the wayside, do not hesitate to terminate the arrangement and find another web designer.

Did you like what you just read? Please share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in having your own website, feel free to give me a call or send an e-mail.

We might just be the professional web designer group you are looking for!

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What Type of Website Does Your Business Need? https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/type-website-business-need/ https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/type-website-business-need/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 12:29:07 +0000 https://mountaintopwebdesign.com/?p=500 When you decide to have a website for your business, it doesn’t mean you have to sell products or services online. Of course you can. However, your website can play other roles that are likewise pivotal to the success of your business. The type of website your business needs would depend on your goals, objectives and its purpose in your overall development strategy.

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When someone tells me, “Josiah, I need a website” my next question would be, “What kind of website do you need?”

One of the most rewarding things as a professional web designer is to share my passion for building websites. My eyes light up whenever I have an opportunity to educate my clients on all things related to website design and the Internet. It’s a moment that allows me to inform people how websites can benefit their business, improve their way of life and at the same time dispel popular misconceptions.

Most people think a website is just their address on the World Wide Web. All you have to do is click on the URL or paste it on the address bar and you’ll land on the website. Although oversimplified, the definition is fairly accurate.

But if you need a website, the more important considerations are as follows:

  • What would make people want to click on my URL?
  • What would they do once they are in my website?
  • How would the website help me achieve my goals or meet my objectives?

A website is more than just an address on the World Wide Web. With proper planning, strategy and purposeful design, a website can do more than just give you presence in the Internet.

What is a Website?

Rather than proceed with a technical, textbook definition of what a website is, I will instead do an analogy.

Let’s assume you decided to get into the restaurant business. Planning a restaurant would entail the following activities:

  • Market research
  • Developing a concept
  • Planning and testing of menu items
  • Functional design of the kitchen
  • Ordering, payment and checkout system
  • Reporting system and collating sales data
  • Interior design and aesthetics of the restaurant
  • Marketing and promotional campaign
  • Recruitment, selection and training of personnel
  • Testing of kitchen equipment, POS and food ordering systems
  • Design of menus or menu boards

All of these activities are further broken down into smaller tasks. For example, designing the layout, interiors and aesthetics of the restaurant would require you to do studies on your target demographics. You hope to find out the best combination of design elements that will attract your target market to your restaurant.

What colors best represent the type of food that I plan to serve? What kind of music do my customers want to listen to? What type of look should my interiors go for in order to create the perfect dining experience for my customers? What would be the average group size of my patrons?

The point of the analogy is that when you decide to open a brick and mortar business like a restaurant, you don’t just set one up without meticulous planning and strategy. You run different studies, conduct thorough research and testing to make sure you can minimize the risks of the business.

The only difference between a website and a brick and mortar business is its location.

With a website you operate in the World Wide Web. But that singular difference opens up a whole new set of advantages:

  • Your website business is open 24/7.
  • Lower maintenance costs; hosting fees and periodic updates or improvements.
  • Immediate access to performance data.
  • Easier to implement changes; with the restaurant, a renovation means you will have to shut down operations for a few weeks.
  • Unless you are running a services-based business, you don’t need to hire personnel.

You can read up on the benefits of having a website from my previous article. But to understand what a website is and what it can do, all you need to do is to change the conditions of building a business from the physical world to the virtual world.

As the web designer, my job is to build you a website based on the research and information you provide. You are the expert in what you do. My primary function is to come up with a website design that will help you achieve your goals and meet your objectives.

Tell me about your business or purpose and I’ll design you a website that meets your needs.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

Before I go to the different types of websites, it would be a good idea to discuss what a CMS or Content Management System is and why it’s an important feature for your website.

The CMS allows you to control the content of your website. Whether you use the website for business or for personal sharing, I believe it should have a CMS for the simple reason that it should be dynamic and remain ever-evolving.

Conditions in business and life are never static. Every day you go through different experiences that shape your business and influence its direction. The same goes for your audience. The demographics of your audience may change without prior notice.

In a globalized economy, what happens in one part of the world affects other regions as well. Changes in the world will affect your business strategies and could influence your values, purpose and vision.

If the website is your address on the World Wide Web, then it should be allowed to grow and reflect the changes that you go through. The CMS makes this possible.

The Different Types of Website

When you decide to have a website for your business, it doesn’t mean you have to sell products or services online. Of course you can. However, your website can play other roles that are likewise pivotal to the success of your business:

  • Build a larger fan or follower base.
  • Enhance your reputation as an expert or valuable resource.
  • Educate or inform your market about your business.
  • Establish communities of people who share the same interests.
  • Market and promote your business.

The type of website your business needs would depend on your goals, objectives and its purpose in your overall development strategy.

  1. Personal Website – Your ISP may offer you free server space to set up a personal website. Some people use this type of website as a blog or an online diary. But you can use a personal website for building your brand.

For example, if you are a Personal Fitness Trainer, you can use the personal website to share your views and opinions on exercise through blogs. You can create a timeline of your weight loss journey, post photos, your workouts, diet plans then share the content through social media.

  1. Search Engine Directories, Yellow Pages and Portals – Google, Yahoo! and Bing are the most popular search engine websites. This type of website offers a variety of features and services to the user from e-mail to information.

Classified directories such as the Yellow Pages provide listing services for businesses, both online and offline. Many include an internal search engine to help users find the desired information.

  1. Information Websites – You can have a website that shares information whether paid or not. You may want to have this type of website if you are catering to a niche industry.

A good example would be an information website on investment opportunities if you are a professional Fund Manager. Your website can be a portal where users can access information on different markets including stocks, treasury bills, foreign exchange, commodities and real estate.

An information website will be an effective way of building your brand and enhancing your image as an expert in the industry. You can create a Facebook page to share content that links back to your website and generate more viewers.

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  1. Company Websites  –
    In the days before the Internet became accessible via broadband technology, websites were used as a marketing tool. Companies set up websites not only to provide information on their business but to show the audience they were updated in technology. Think of company websites as “virtual brochures”.

Today, company websites are more than just marketing collateral. You can find company websites that are more interactive and functional. Many have a Career Page where job seekers can look for openings and send their application.

The company also uses the website to inform their end users, employees and everyone on the value chain about changes in management, the board of directors and latest developments.

  1. Blog Sites – The blog has evolved from an online diary into a powerful tool for generating inbound traffic. It has become the cornerstone of the Content Marketing Process. This is why many types of websites; company, personal and e-commerce to name a few, have a built-in blog page.

People spend 21% of their time searching for information and 20% reading content on the Internet. For your blog to be effective, it must be found. Being a prolific writer is not enough. You must know how to optimize your page with the use of keywords and relevant links. Writing a blog has become as much as a science as it is an art form.

A blog website can generate significant income. There are quite a number of blog sites that make thousands, even millions of dollars every month. They earn income from advertising and the more followers you have the more attractive your website becomes to advertisers.

  1. Forums or Community Building Websites – This type of website caters to a specific niche. The purpose is to bring together people with the same interests and have a venue or forum for sharing thoughts, ideas and opinions.

A forum or community website is effective for:

  • Building networks, expanding your contacts list.
  • Promoting products and services.
  • Creating support groups.
  • Disseminating information.
  • Strengthening collectives or interest groups.

An example of a forum would be those that deal with supplements. There are a number of forums and online communities that frequently share ideas and opinions on different types and use of supplements.

Supplement companies give beta testers samples of their products on a monthly basis in exchange for a positive review on these community websites. Testimonials and product reviews are powerful drivers of business because these are seen as “honest”.

Social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus can be considered community building websites because they bring people of common interests together.

  1. E-Commerce or Retail Websites – Over the last few weeks, we’ve read news that a number of popular retailers in the United States are closing outlets or losing business. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet divested $900M worth of holdings at Wal-Mart.

Retail market analysts point to e-Commerce as the catalyst for the reversal in fortunes of these once- mighty malls. Sales from e-Commerce has consistently been increasing since it first broke through the $1 Trillion mark in 2012.

As I mentioned in my article “Why Your Website Needs Responsive Design”, the growth of smartphones will outgrow the population of the world. Consumers are increasingly dependent on the Internet to meet their needs and this includes shopping.

An e-commerce website is more complicated to make. It will need a products page with high resolution images, “zoom-in, zoom out” or “enlarge” features. You will also need a payment system in place plus a shopping cart to finalize all transactions.

Of course, it has to be mobile responsive, fast and highly accessible by multi-browsers. An e-commerce website will require a larger investment but it would be significantly less than setting up a physical establishment.

  1. File- Sharing Websites – These types of websites are similar to community websites in the sense that they cater to people who share the same interests. However, these interests may have specific niches.

Good examples would be websites that allow users to share music, movies or photos. Some of these websites even offer free memberships that can be upgraded for a reasonable fee so you can enjoy additional features.

You will need a powerful internal search engine in the event the number of files begins to encroach upon the website’s capacity.

  1. Work Collaboration Websites – More businesses are starting to outsource work to remote third party service providers.

In the United States, 37% of workforces are composed of virtual assistants or telecommuters. This number is expected to increase to 50% or higher in 2020. Businesses have been aggressively outsourcing tasks in order to reduce costs without compromising productivity.

Work collaboration websites such as Asana, Salesforce and Evernote, enable businesses to work together with their remote teams. These websites have features for project management, file- sharing, planning, campaign management and communication.

Some of these websites offer free memberships that include the basic features. A monthly subscription fee will entitle the user to more features and benefits that can help grow their business.

So Which Website Type Is For You?

These are just 9 of the most popular types of websites that you can consider for your business. The type of website you choose should service the needs of your audience, enhance your business presence and highlight the products or services you are offering.

Would it be possible to have a website that incorporates features of other types of websites?

Yes, again the type of website would depend on your business needs. As discussed, company websites have evolved and integrated other features such as a blog page and a Career page. A blog page gave these companies a platform to share and engage with their customers and clients. A Career page gave them a new platform to recruit talent.

You can have an informational website that has a products and services page with a shopping cart. You could start out by building your brand and establishing your reputation as an expert in the industry through frequent blogging and posting of relevant articles. Once you have acquired a large group of followers, you can transition to an e-commerce website and sell products and services.

To find out which type of website is right for you, review your business model and conduct studies on your industry and target market.

If you’re thinking about having a website, feel free to contact us at Mountaintop Website Design. We have done different types of websites to suit the needs of our clients. Give us a call or drop us an e-mail. We will be more than happy to share our experiences with you!

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