7 Ways To Make Your Site More Exciting

If you’ve recently started to look at your website and think that it just seems so boring, then it may be time for a change. On the one hand, this may be because you’ve just gotten used to it. So you’re more bored with it than anything else. But, it may also be because the website itself is actually boring. And when that’s the case, you may have to worry. Because if you’re finding it boring, the what are your customers thinking? Either way, you don’t have to just leave your website as it is now – you can really change things around and make it so much more exciting.

Sometimes, you just have to get yourself into a position where you’re bored with your website to then be able to change it. Because you’re not always going to be able to see what’s wrong when you’re not looking at the same old things. But, even when you know that something isn’t quite right, you don’t always know what will make it better. And that’s where this post comes in. Even if you quite like your site as it is now, you may take something away from this that can take it to the next level. Because we’re going to walk through seven different ways that you can make your website more exciting.

Do A Complete Redesign

Of course, the very first option you’re always going to have is to do a complete redesign of your site. Because when you think that the site is boring, or it’s just not really giving you the results that you want, you need to shake things up. A great way to do this is to make sure that you’re taking your analytics and really honing in on the elements that need improving. When you do, you should find that the end result not only looks great, but it much more suitable to what your customers want functionality wise too.

Change Your Branding

Sometimes, you’re not going to have to go to such drastic measures to make your site more exciting. If you love the layout and the functionality is perfect, maybe it’s just the branding that needs to be changed. From your logo to the fonts and colors used, sometimes you just need to shake up the visuals you have to make them more suited to your brand identity.

Start A Blog

From here, you’re then going to want to think about starting a blog on site too. If you have a blog already, then maybe you need to refresh your content or start a new series – both can be incredibly influential to your customers and viewers. This should also become a huge part of your marketing too. It can be a lot of extra work, but if you put the effort it, it will pay off.

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Launch An App

How are you doing on the mobile front? If you’re not optimized for mobile at all, then this should be your first change. Even if you don’t know an awful lot about it, you can work with the software companies that do. By launching an app, you’re going to be adding a new dimension to your offering and even be able to target a new segment of customers too.

Use Video

Next up, you should give video some thought too. A lot of customers prefer video to imagery or written content. It can often get information across in a much more engaging way. So definitely think about what you can do with YouTube or onsite content going forward.

Create A Members Area

If your feel like your site is just the same, and that it’s not really offering anything exciting to your customers, you’re going to want to up your game with a member’s area. Not only is this exciting for your customers, it gives off an air of exclusivity. It’s somewhere that you can engage your customers more, and interact with them more – which has a huge benefit to both parties.

Focus On Interaction

Finally, you’re also going to want to make sure that you’re interacting with your customers as well as possible too. And you can definitely use your website to do that. With a great live chat offering, you can often add to the customer experience and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your customers happy, and even improve your conversion rate too. It’s a great way to not only get feedback, but stop customers from dropping off through the sales funnel too.

How To Protect Your Site From Hackers In 5 Steps

As an online business owner, you need to make safety one of your top priorities. Hackers are more likely to target small online businesses since these businesses cannot afford extensive cybersecurity solutions.

There are steps you can take to make your website safer, protect your customers’ data, and educate your visitors about online safety. This is especially important for customers who aren’t tech-savvy, such as senior citizens.

Set Up Best Practices And Stick To Them

You need to have a clearly defined safety policy that includes a set of best practices. These are some of the practices you should think about adopting:

  • Determine who needs to access sensitive data and where this data will be stored.
  • Enforce strong password policies for employees and visitors. Make sure passwords are changed regularly.
  • Think about using two-factor authentication.
  • Reset all passwords if you suspect that a security breach occurred.
  • Don’t use form auto-fill if you sell products online.

Updates

Updates typically become available when a flaw is found with a platform, a script, or an app. Some updates will be installed automatically, but you should regularly check for updates and install them.

Keep Your Backend Safe

There are a few things you can do to protect your backend from attacks:

  • Hackers often target admin directories. Make these directories hard to find and change the default passwords.
  • You can make your server safer with a Web application firewall.
  • There are other free or affordable security applications that you can install on your server.
  • Add a Content Security Policy to the headers of your pages. This element will tell browsers not to execute scripts from other domain names. Hackers might try to add malicious code to your pages to execute harmful scripts, but a CSP will tell browsers not to execute these scripts.

Use An SSL Certificate

You can easily obtain an SSL certificate and install it on your server. This certificate will encrypt all the data requested by visitors as well as the data shared with your server.

Once your SSL certificate is installed, visitors will see a padlock icon next to your URL. Depending on the certificate you install, there might also be a green section next to your site name.

An SSL certificate is an important feature since it prevents hackers from intercepting sensitive data when visitors fill out forms or make an online purchase. It also protects their privacy.

The padlock icon, HTTPS in the URL and the green section in your URLs are signs that Internet users know they should look for.

Transparency Is Important

Internet users care about security and particularly seniors need reassuring that they’re safe online. In fact, 85 percent of US Internet users said they wouldn’t visit a website if their browser told them it wasn’t secure. Some users will know they should look for a padlock icon, but others such as senior users won’t know what to look for. This is why you need to talk to your customers about the steps you are taking to protect their data.

If a breach occurs, you need to talk about what happened and the measures you took to prevent more incidents.

Security should be a priority if you own an online business. Take security in your own hands and remember that transparency is key to earning the trust of your customers.

 

Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and aging, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Freelancer

With social media evolving so fast and with the internet changing in the rate it does, it is practically a business suicide not to have some kind of marketing strategy prepared for your business. However, without a steady paycheck and with the constant pursuit for new clients, dealing with the issue of marketing may seem difficult. Marketing yourself as a freelancer may be a bit tricky, but if you focus, plan and organize ahead, you will soon realize just how far a good marketing strategy can take you.

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Create a Strong Online Presence

You cannot simply wait for people to find and hire you. You need to get out there and expand your reach. There is an abundance of industry-specific forums, blogs, and other communities which are great for developing your marketing skills and growing your freelancing network. Engage in social media and try to leave comments on different blogs, or answer questions on forums. Be helpful and and do not spam the users. When you engage with the community in such a way, you help build credibility for yourself and consequently expand your reach.

Do not Neglect the Social Media

Use social media platforms to build a public profile for yourself. Potential clients and employers will have much better chances of hiring you if you are present and active on social media. Having a detailed LinkedIn profile can significantly boost your client rates; using Facebook or Twitter for self-promotion can help you distinguish yourself from others and build a serious freelancing business. Make sure you are out there if you really want to expand your business and market yourself properly.

Build a Team of Freelancers

Try connecting with other freelancers as often as you can. This may not seem important from the marketing aspect of your work, but as far as networking goes, it really is. When you are engaged with numerous freelancers, the number of potential opportunities skyrockets. With strong connections with freelancers in different areas of expertise, you can take numerous projects and expand your client base significantly.

Focus on Referrals and Outsourcing

Referring clients to other freelancers is an amazing practice, and it both helps create a connection between freelancers and helps them expand their businesses. You can even get freelancers to outsource a project for your client through you and vice versa, so you can understand how a strong freelancing team can be very important when it comes to promoting yourself and your skills.

Incorporate Modern Web Design

If you do not have a website in the today’s market, it is as if you don not exist. This is especially the case for freelancers. But simply having a website does not necessarily mean that you are on track to become extremely successful. You must understand your focus group and you must address their needs. In order to do this in the best possible way you need to incorporate great web design.

Mix Marketing With Web Design

When it comes to web design, it can make or break your business. Good web design can really help you step up your marketing game. Whether you’re a genius web designer or someone who doesn’t know anything about it, there are some simple guidelines that you should follow. Keep your website simple, use responsive web design, test everything meticulously and ask for feedback from everyone. These tips have proven to be extremely efficient when it comes to marketing aspects of your website.

Think About Growth Opportunities

Think about the services you provide as a freelancer and think about the clients you have already worked with. Think about what they would like to see, and consider how that fits in your idea of a website. Do some research and check out what other freelancers from your branch of work are doing. With platforms like WordPress and with the power of Google you can soon understand how the world of web design works, or you can always consult a professional and still achieve what you’ve wanted all along – a better way to market yourself.

Put the Thoughts Into Action

Expanding the business is hard, and finding the best marketing strategies may seem like a nightmare, but all you really need is a bit of time and patience. Focus on building your online presence, and try to engage with others as often as you can. Think of the ways how you want to build your career, whether as a successful individual freelancer or as a member of a freelancing team of experts. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your skills, but do it professionally.

How to Choose Your Domain Name for Maximum SEO

Choosing the right domain name is the first and arguably crucial step when launching a website. Your domain name is the flagship of your business, and apart from it serving as a window into your venture, it also needs to be optimized for search engines. Keeping up with the times is important, and those who don’t evolve and adapt to these new trends suffer a huge loss in traffic. So, here are a few guidelines on how to pick the right domain name for your website in order to maximize its SEO.

Keyword Domains

In order to come up with the optimal domain name, you need to take a few things into consideration. First, if you don’t already have a recognizable brand name that can be used as your domain name, you have two options. Either you make a brand name from scratch and then use that as your domain name, or you use some keyword relevant to your business as the domain name. If you opt for the first suggestion, then you need to work on spreading brand awareness over the internet. If you chose the latter, it’s a bit more complex. In the past, keywords were the main thing when it came to domain name SEO, and it’s easy to understand why. Imagine someone looking to buy some healthy food. In the case that you named your domain healthyfoods.com, when this person types ‘healthy foods’ into their Google search bar, it will probably be the first thing to pop up. Nowadays, things are a bit different. In 2012, Google updated its search algorithm, and as a result, keyword domains were no longer the best option. Namely, Google is now more interested in the quality of the content on your website than the keyword in the domain’s name. You can still go for keyword domains if you feel like you don’t have a specific brand name you can use, just make sure that you utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner if you want to find the optimal keyword for your website.

Branded Domains

Today, these domains are greatly preferred by search engines. Not only that, but they have unique names that are a lot easier to remember than keywords. This is why Amazon uses Amazon.com for its domain name and not OnlineShopping.com. The brand is more important than the keyword. Moreover, it is extremely recognizable, which will in turn have much lower bounce rates as people will know exactly what to expect on that website. For example, people searching for Adidas shoes won’t go to Nike.com, right? Apart from being more memorable, branded domain names have clearer backlinks and longer retention times than keyword domains. The main downside of this method is that it takes a lot of time and effort to create a new brand from scratch. You’ll need to do some aggressive marketing on social media and the like to spread your brand awareness enough, so that people can actually recognize your brand. Just make sure that you buy domain name with your brand’s name in it before starting this marketing campaign, unless you want to risk someone else snatching it right under your nose.

Things to Avoid

Now, bear in mind that there are a few things you should avoid at all costs. Using hyphens, for one, is ill advised, as people often forget about them and then go to the wrong site when they don’t type them out. Another downside of hyphens is that they make your site look spammy, as fake sites are notorious for their use of hyphens. They use hyphens to mimic famous domain names like, for example, face-book.com to generate more traffic on their website. Obviously, you don’t want to be associated with them. Similarly, don’t use low-quality TLD’s, which are .biz, .info, .ws and .name. Such extensions are generally shunned by the online community as they too are used by scammers most of the time. Likewise, having a local extension, such as .uk, will rank your website highly in the UK, but not the rest of the world, so using .com is better in both cases. Finally, keeping your domain name under fifteen characters will make it easier for people to remember it and thus reduce the likelihood of typos, as well as making it more SEO friendly overall.

To sum up, if you are choosing between a keyword domain name and a branded domain name, the latter is probably the better option. Moreover, make sure to avoid using hyphens and low-quality extensions in your domain name to disassociate your website from scammers, and use a short memorable name instead.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing.  While he’s not enjoying travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

Google Says Freshen Up Your Content

While there are – probably – dozens and dozens of ways in which Google likes to rank the content on your website, none of them has become more emphasized than “freshness”. So, in order to get straight into it and not beat around the proverbial bush any longer, here are some of the most important ways in which the god-that-is-Google tends to determine how fresh your content is.

Date Of Inception

Every single web page is going to be valued based on its inception date, something that holds less and less value as time goes on. Just so you know, the inception date is the time when Google first becomes aware of this new content, which tends to happen when the crawlers first detect it on your website or when Google finds a link to this content.

A Matter Of Updating

This is something that has gotten a little bit more attention over recent months. Instead of just rating your content on when it was first uploaded, Google also ranks your content on how regularly it is updated. Content that gets tweaked regularly has more value than content that never changes. Let’s say you go back through your content and change a sentence. Whoop-di-do. However, if you drastically change the main body then you will be having a much bigger impact on this freshness thing.

Frequency Of Changes

Ask those in well-respected SEO services, and they will tell you another huge proponent in the hunt for a better rating is the frequency in which your content gets updates because that is what will keep the Googlebots coming back to crawl your website. Let’s use some examples. Let’s say you have a blog that gets updated once a week as a means to keep your customers in the loop with what you are up to. Okay, that’s once a week something new gets added. Compare that to a major newspaper where their entire body of content gets altered daily and you see which one is more valuable to Google.

New Pages, Please

Another great way to improve the freshness of your website is to create new pages. This is something that a blog manages to do better than anything else because you are not only creating new pages regularly, you are also adding pages that are high in original content. That’s epic. That’s going to get you a freshness score to be super-proud of. You don’t need to go mad on this front, but a new page every so often will have a big impact.

Linking Plays A Lovely Role

Just so you know, the freshness-o-meter is not restricted to your page’s only. It also has a lot to do with the external links that you are using. These tend to wield a lot of power when it comes to measuring freshness. That is why you should always include a cocktail of internal links, outbound links and, if possible, links on external websites that link back to you. Google loves link-building because it makes you look relevant or, to keep with the word we have been using, fresh.

Turn Your Online Business Into A Fortress

The internet has made it possible for so many people to build businesses from their own home; it saves them on paying rent for a premises, it makes it cheaper for them to advertise their products and services, and it gives them a wider customer base to buy their products. Unfortunately, no one really considers that online businesses have a few vulnerabilities that aren’t usually seen in physical stores. Whether you’re conducting your business part-time, or you depend on it as your sole source of income, here are a few vulnerabilities that could affect your business, and how you can protect it like a fortress.

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Cyber safety

Since 2016, there has been an increase in reports of online businesses being targeted and held to ransom by cyber-criminals. Experts are warning that small businesses are fast becoming their favorite target because most of them are woefully unprepared for hacks to their online domain. Don’t make your business a weak target for cyber-criminals – this is your livelihood, so protect it like a fortress. Invest in antivirus and encryption software that automatically updates to patch vulnerable spots in your security, blocks spam, and detects spyware. Companies that sell this type of software include McAfee, Norton, AVG and Avira. Cyber criminals also look for exploits in WordPress and popular plugins, so it’s vital you keep them up to date if you’re using this to host your website.

Get insurance

Depending on the kind of service you offer, you might want to consider professional indemnity insurance; this will protect you if a client accuses you of providing  inadequate advice, services or designs that resulted in a financial loss. You can get professional indemnity insurance to cover both defence costs and any liability found owing in the event of a claim up to the limit of indemnity. There are different kinds of insurance for different services, so make sure you do your research to ensure you’re properly covered.

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Secure payments

If you’re selling something online, enabling mobile payments such as PayPal can increase your sales by allowing more impulsive purchases. You’ll also receive prompt payments rather than dealing with a billing or invoicing system. A good merchant service provider can sort you out with an online payment system for your eCommerce store. But more importantly, they can help you set up secure payments. The minute your customers enter their card details into your system, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks. You need excellent encryption software and top of the line credit card security to keep these details safe from cyber thieves. No one will use your store again if they’re worried about their details being stolen.

Reputation

The best kind of protection you can provide for your business is building up a solid reputation. Establish yourself as a reliable salesperson, a provider of good quality products, and someone who responds well to customer feedback. Customers are usually very trusting of online businesses, but once they hear of any hacking incidents or lawsuits, they are less likely to return.