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Archive | February, 2014

Get Rid of Your Big Headers

26 February

Do you have a big header of photos on your site? If so, you may want to rethink that. You could potentially be annoying a large part of your audience.

Usability is the study of how people use things (like websites). And one of the things they track is a thing called Friction. This is when a user wants to accomplish one thing, but the website’s design prevents it or makes it more challenging.

When a potential client comes to your website, what do you think they are looking for? What do you think is most important for them?
I’m willing to bet, it’s not the same 5 images rotating through your header.
No, what would be important to them is to easily find the information they need to make a decision to hire you or not.

But if you have a big header, many people will be required to scroll down to find the menu. (Remember, not everyone has a 27″ iMac like you). And this happens on every single page. And it’s not just to get to the menu, but the user has to scroll to get to the Content as well!

This increases the Friction on your website. Ā But it’s not just your website. This is the first time a potential client comes into contact with your business. This is your first impression. The experience of the website sets the tone for the service they will receive.

So my question to you is, are you committed to assisting your clients in getting what they need? Then, you may consider removing barriers to that. I’d start with getting rid of that big header.

 

How Much is Your Website Worth, and How Valuable is it?

13 February
Photo Credit: Lap Fung Chan from Flickr.

Photo Credit: Lap Fung Chan from Flickr.

Worth

If you look back over 2013, could you tell me how much business your website generated? Is your business even set up to be able to find out?

Just to get a sense of what I’m talking about, let’s take a completely arbitrary number like $100,000 in sales for the year 2013. You may have a few client acquisition methods, and they may look something like this:

  • Website
  • Word of mouth
  • Networking
  • Randomly meeting engaged couples or potential clients (new moms, etc).

So let’s take a look at your website. In this day and age, I’m willing to bet your site is the majority source of clients. For this example let’s say 75% meaning that our example website generated $75,000 worth of sales for you. (If you’re playing along at home, please make sure you use your own numbers).

Value

With that in mind, do you really place enough value on your website?
The majority of photographers that start online get their domain for $10, pay $80/yr for cheap shared hosting, and then slap a ProPhoto template on their site for $200, and set it up pretty much how everyone else sets theirs up (save for design differences).

So you’re up online for under $300 bucks, and probably 30-40 or so hours of your own time, or so which is great.
That might be great for people just starting out, but what about when you’re website starts generating $75,000? Does your website experience reflect that with your visitors?

Put more succinctly: Is that a match for the company that you’re looking to run?

If your website is generating the majority of your income, shouldn’t it look and feel that way?
Look, you don’t have to hire Flaunt Your Site to build you a $5,000 website (but if you want to, you should totally contact us. šŸ™‚ ), or spend lots of money to accomplish your goals.
All you have to do is think about the user experience from your client’s point of view; From the moment they get on the site, to how they find the information they need, to how to contact you, etc.

If you start thinking about that, and start to put things in place that better that experience for your potential clients, you’ll start to increase the value you of your website. And you’ll increase the worth with all the new clients you’re starting to get.

Likes for Likes Sake

10 February
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Illustration credit Sam Michel

What is a Like on Facebook?

Well, not literally “What is a Like on Facebook.” I’m going to assume you know what they actually are. But what value do they bring to your business and are they really worth the effort to actively try to get them? Wouldn’t you be better off treating each Like as a special thing?

Natural Growth vs Steroids

I’ve always been a major proponent of growing your business organically. Find clients, then those clients will tell people, and your business will grow. This applies for website clients as much as it does to people in your life.
Treat those clients amazing and some will Like you, some will refer you, less will talk about you to everyone they know that need a photographer, and even less will be your shouting billboard for how amazing you are at everything. That’s just the progression of Word Of Mouth. Not everyone spends the time to tout you. Some just needed the service you provided and were happy.

Not all your clients will like you on Facebook. That means a Like is a special thing.Ā Let’s start treating them that way. Treat them as an endorsement, rather than just a collection that needs to be bigger than the other persons.

If a Like is special, why invite everyone and their mothers to Like your page on Facebook? Why buy ads to get people to like you?

Screw Likes. Engagement is where it’s at!

“What?!?! You just said Likes are special?”
Well, yes. They are andĀ I believe we need to retrain our thinking to un-commoditize the idea of Liking.

But it all starts with knowing who your target audience is, and who will engage with your page. The Likes are kinda surface. To grow your business and develop the kind of people that will be those rare few that are shouting billboards for you, you’re looking for more than Likes, you’re looking for people to engage on your page.
But you can’t do that when you’ve invited everyone in the universe to Like your page (or paid for Likes) just to get your numbers up. In fact when people don’t engage with your posts, it decreases the reach your posts get.

Trying to get as many likes as you can actually hurts you.

Facebook Fraud!

I’ve seen people raising these points lately. But this video is just starting to make the rounds on Facebook today. Hopefully this puts pressure on Facebook to start being accountable. It’s worth watching all 9 minutes.

And I think it reinforces the idea that Likes for Likes Sake is pointless, and you should really be focusing on real Likes andĀ Engagement.

And… don’t forget to Like Flaunt Your Site!

But only if you really want to. šŸ˜‰

Google Ranking Factors

05 February

Did you know that Google has over 200 Ranking Factors?

“Wait a minute… WTF are Ranking Factors?” You ask.

Great question! Let’s talk about that…

You know when someone says “Google likes XXX.” Well, that XXX is what’s called a Ranking Factor. Maybe it’s “Google likes fast loading websites” or “Google likes sites with low Bounce Rates.” Those are Ranking Factors.
And yes, there are over 200.

OK, Got it… Why are there Ranking Factors?

Well, search engines like Google and Bing want you to come back to their site to use Search over and over again. In order to do that, they’ve become very interested in delivering the best Search Results for the term you searched for. And for that to happen, they created these factors that contribute to returning results. The more factors a website complies with, the better the chances are for it displaying higher than other sites.
(It’s important to note that the Factors that we talk about are only guesses as to what they can be, since the search engines keep these very secret. But the people that are guessing what these factors are, are incredibly bright people, using very sophisticated methods of determining these types of things).

Each factor is given a certain “Weight” (For example “Links from other sites” Weighs more – or has more value than “Age of website”). Ā Those Factors are put together with the other 200-ish Factors in a very complex Algorithm that the search engines uses to compare websites to each other in order to display the best results for a given search term.

No Website is an Island

Ranking factors about a website by itself doesn’t really mean anything. In order to give it some context, we have to compare websites to each other. So we’ll look at 2 imaginary webpages both wanting to rank for “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.” And we’ll compare just 5 of the ranking factors we think Google uses for it’s algorithm.

Ranking Factor Diagram

If we look at each of the 5 ranking factors, we can see why Page A would rank better than Page B.

  1. Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Title of the page: You can see the phrase “Timbuktu Wedding Photography” in the title on Page A, and Page B making them equal in this factor.
  2. Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Content Body: Here is where Page A gets an advantage over Page B. The actual term is used in the content area.
  3. Number of links to the page: Links are an important strength metric, and in our scenario Page A has more links than Page B giving Page A a better chance of ranking for the keyword.
  4. Not using Meta Keywords (or using them sparingly): Meta Keywords is an outdated method of putting the keywords you want to rank for in the Meta section (the behind the scenes area). Page B happens to be using them in our scenario. In this instance, it’s a negative ranking factor for Page B.
  5. Finally Page A has been around a lot longer than Page B, and has a greater trust factor.

Putting It All Together

Just looking at the 5 factors we looked at here, you can see that Page A scores better than Page B in 4 of the 5 areas. This would give it a tendency to rank higher than Page B when someone searches for the term “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.”

Of course there are over 200 ranking factors in the real world. But I hope this gives you a sense of how webpages are ranked.