July 15, 2014
Raise your hand if you are a Pinterest addict. I can’t see the collective show of hands, but I know you are there. Recent studies have shown that a good many people who spend time online have gotten hooked by the phenomenon known as Pinterest. I call it a phenomenon because it can’t really be defined in the same terms as other popular social media platforms. Yes, you can “follow” people, and comment on their pins, but it’s more like a virtual scrapbook than anything else, with a completely different culture than Facebook. So how and why is this site good for your business? Let us count a few of the ways.
The “Free” Factor
Pinterest costs nothing to join, and if you think about it, it is basically free advertising. If you sell clothes, flowers, jewelry, makeup, or anything else remotely creative, you belong on Pinterest. Service providers of all kinds are on the site, and likely cleaning up, no pun intended. You will reach an audience that you might not have through Facebook or Twitter, where people typically have to go out of their way to find and follow you.
Give Your Website a Shout-Out
When you join Pinterest, you create a profile, much like other social sites. The difference is you can choose to put a lot less private information out there. Most people just list a short summary of themselves, and their city. It cuts down on the creep factor. Nine times out of ten, that random person that just started following you on Pinterest is doing so for those awesome handmade wreaths that you pin feverishly. But the really great thing about the abbreviated Pinterest profile is that you can link your website directly to it, giving your site increased traffic.
Boost Your Connectivity by Using Different Sites
If you own a business, you probably have a Facebook account set up for it. The logical next step, if you are going to maximize your pinning potential, is to link Pinterest to your Facebook page. This allows you to capitalize on cross traffic between sites, plus, you can log in to Pinterest using your Facebook information. One less password to forget is always a plus.
You Can Totally Save That For Later
I don’t know about you, but I use Pinterest mainly to catalogue my procrastination. I can find and save recipes, home improvement projects, DIY crafty stuff, and books to read. I will never get around to a quarter of the literally thousands of pins I have stashed away in my Pinterest account. But hey, if I ever want to go back and search for a quick dinner idea that I pinned several years ago, I have that option, because Pinterest saves EVERYTHING you pin. You can see why this alone could benefit your business.
Even if that one person who pinned your crocheted doormat with every intention of buying it that Christmas forgets completely, there is a very good chance that the following year they will stumble upon the same pin while reviewing their “Christmas Ideas” board. They will remember why it got pinned in the first place, and purchase it right then and there. Your products and services are saved in Pinterest cyberspace.
For information on how to get your company started on a successful social media marketing strategy, contact the experts at Directory One at 713-465-0051.
December 11, 2013
Working in the world of web may typically require you to be well educated and a quick problem solver. However, getting a solicitation from DNS Services could trick the best of us into paying a bill we didn’t actually accrue.
DNS is a common term known by most web gurus, an acronym for domain name system, possibly making their letter seem legitimate at first. Not sure yet? Their website may convince you even further that they don’t mean any harm. How could a website with a sleek and modern design be trying to trick you out of money?
This is no new trick, it is your run-of-the-mill white rabbit hat trick that scamming domain name registration companies pull to try to gain new customers. You may received a letter in the mail from DNS Services in Vancouver, WA addressed to you or your company informing you that this letter is a “Final Notice” to pay for your domain name services.
This is a lie. Unless you are 100% positive that you use DNS Services, be extremely cautious about paying any amount of money to them.
Without any other explanation, this must be the scammiest method of trying to acquire new customers. At least the similar companies that send out misleading letters will have a statements like “this is not a bill” somewhere on the letter. DNS Services offers no such relief for those who read carefully. The letter appears in the format of an invoice and gives all the right information to try and appear as accurate as possible.
A quick search for this company will yield results that indicate the distrust that should be held for DNS Services. The company’s Yelp page is filled with negative and a few angry reviews.
Be safe out there on the internet and when reading your mail. Directory One always tries to keep our clients and friends safe on the internet by updating our blog with information on any scam related to the web.
December 6, 2013
If you are a website owner or operator, you’re used to receiving notifications from your provider that your domain name registry is up for renewal. For most of us, each year we have to update certain properties on our websites: copyrights, hosting, and domain name registration. However, if you had a third party marketing company, employee, friend, step-son, cat sitter etc. set up or handle your website you might receive a notice asking to renew your registration, pay the money, and be none-the-wiser that you actually just got scammed.
Domain Registry of America may seem like a legitimate service and, in fact, they are. They have a decent website in which they market that they will give you “free hosting services” with domain registration. They do serve as both a hosting and domain registration company. It is their tactics used to acquire new customers that should be considered unethical at best.
From what has been buzzing around the internet, Domain Registry of America uses Whois sites to find current domain names and physical addresses of websites that use another hosting and domain provider. Then, they send a letter informing the recipient that their domain name is expiring soon and they must renew.
The top right of the letter reads in large text: “DOMAIN NAME EXPIRATION NOTICE” (pictured below). If you continue reading it becomes clearer that they want you to “switch today” to their services from your current provider. However, for many people who see that header declaring their domain name has expired, they pay the bill and switch their services to DROA without even realizing.
Now, this may not concern everyone and DROA keeps it legal by declaring on the page: “This statement is not a bill” in bold text. It is the ethics (or lack there of) in their approach that is questionable.
As a domain name registration and website hosting company, Directory One is very familiar with handling the renewal of these services. We needed to let our clients and others on the web know about this domain name registration scam. So be careful and make sure to take the time to read every statement received carefully.
Header of Domain Registry of American scam letters.
November 28, 2013
Houston wants great website design, but you can’t make an impact if you don’t put what you know about your audience into action.
Visitor centricity means knowing what a visitor wants to see. Your ideas of what a website should look like may not be what visitors want. Think of it this way.
What makes you leave a website quicker than a jack rabbit?
Popups (but not so much anymore, since the blockers are very effective nowadays). Flashing print in a color clashing with the site’s color scheme? Or more like flashing anything? Overcrowded sites and navigation links that don’t work?
Optimized for your keyword, but the site doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re looking for?
Which colors do you gravitate towards? Blues, reds, or plain old black and white?
Does color really matter?
Now think about what makes your audience leave.
People think of website design mostly as visual impact, meaning color and graphics. Color and style are important, but there are many other things going on behind the scenes to entice people to visit, stay a while, and return time and time again.
When people linger and revisit, your chances of making a sale increase. You have one chance to get it right. You have one opportunity to make an impression.
If you’ve spent any time surfing, you know that the sites with high visitor count and conversions have one thing in common. They all capture our interest.
Just how do all the great website designs intrigue us?
Visitor centric websites have 9 things in common. For starters, they
- Make good on a promise. A visitor clicked on you in the search results for a reason. Whether they want to buy your product online, read the latest news from your company, or find a how-to, they have a purpose for visiting you.
- Are easy to navigate. Navigation should be intuitive. Words used in the top menu and side menus, as well as in the footer should be logical. The visitor should get exactly what he assumes he’s clicking on.
- Provides instant gratification. That’s why most of us use the internet. We want something, and we want it now. Make sure what your visitors want is there.
Six design elements ensure that you have the first three.
- Don’t make visitors think too much. Everything you put on your pages, from nav bars, to photos and graphics, to text should be logical and obvious. Everything on your pages should be relevant to each other. You don’t want to talk about dogs when your site is about cats.
- Have scan-able content. Most people eyeball pages than read read verbatim. This means what a viewer sees should be easy on the eye. Graphics and photos should be appropriately sized and the same goes for text. Not too big, not too small, but just right.
Scan-able content also means unclutter. Uncluttering is a good use of white space. Don’t try to cram everything on one page, because it is information overload. Break up the important, pertinent information, making it easy for your visitors to find.
- Make sure links aren’t broken. Nothing frustrates a visitor more than clicking on a link and seeing “page not found”. How many times do you think that a visitor will return, much less share, your information or recommend your company if you can’t make your links work?
- Make sure your contact, whether a form, email address or phone number, is on all your pages.
- Great content means not only the writing, but a good use of keywords. Don’t be misleading with the keywords, otherwise a visitor will leave angry at your trickery.
- Test, test, and test. Invite your current and entice potential customers to visit a prototype before you go live. Ruthlessly ask for feedback on your social media sites. How do you like the color? Were you able to find everything you needed? What did you dislike? What do you want to see? Then adjust.
Designing a great website isn’t hard if you build your website around visitor needs and anticipate their wants. Simplicity and ease of use are really the tricks keep visitors exploring your pages.
Why be ordinary?
Houston’s Directory One can help you be extraordinary with that critical first impression.
November 11, 2013
One aspect of a website that is relatively neglected is the navigation. While the navigation may not seem like a critical part of a website, it actually heavily influences user experience and can heavily impact rankings. So what is website navigation and how can web designers make it more SEO-friendly?
How Do I Get Back Home?
A website’s navigation includes all the menus — any menus on the top, bottom, or side — and inner links. Essentially, the term “website navigation” encompasses all the ways you get from page to page within a website. So, why is this important for SEO? Search engines will reward your website if it is user-friendly and if it is easy for their spiders to crawl. If a search engine’s robots can’t easily access your pages, you may not get credit for them, which could hurt your ranking in the long run.
Aside from search engine rankings, there are plenty of other motivations for having a straight-forward, easy to navigate website. You want to make it as easy as possible for users to get the information they need; if you make it too difficult, you run the risk of frustrating users, which will encourage them to leave and go to another company’s website. It truly is in your best interest to provide a positive user experience for your website; navigation is a key element to creating that experience.
Designing SEO-Friendly Navigation
Navigation should be designed to improve the user experience. It is important to come up with relevant menu items that allow the user to access important information easily. You also want to make sure that it is easy to get back to those main pages without having to click the backspace button! This gives the user more opportunities to shop around and learn more about your business.
Make sure to have statics HTML links to all of the important pages you want to get credit for. Adding an XML sitemap to the website is a huge help for search engine robots. A sitemap is like a linked table of contents for a website that allows spiders to easily crawl the website. They allow search engines to quickly notice any changes to the content of your website.
In general though, there are a few common mistakes any web designer should avoid. These mistakes include:
- Excessive amounts of outbound links – Not only does this encourage users to navigate away from your site, but it also makes things harder on the search engine spider. Crawlers may also write these links off as low quality or spammy links, which could in turn hurt your ranking.
- Internal pages that can only be found through search toolbar – You want all of your pages to have some sort of physical link.
- Flash-heavy websites – These types of navigation are fine in small amounts but they are generally not the best kinds of navigation to have because Flash requires a lot of updates and may not be supported on all computers.
- Hard to reach pages – It should not be hard to reach the homepage from any page on your website.
If you believe that you’re website needs a more SEO-friendly navigation, please call Directory One at 713.269.3094.
November 7, 2013
All the gurus tell you great website design starts with an intimate knowledge of your audience. They insinuate visitor centricity.
Then they give you lists.
- Right people
- Fantastic branding
- THE seductive freebies
- Imaginative content
- Engage, engage, engage
- And all that other demographic stuff
Worn out treads don’t make for good traction in great website design.
While the gurus’ lists are important, maybe you’re focusing on the wrong information.
Clients know THEIR goals for a website. They want to educate, inform, outreach, engage, sway opinion-makers, and ultimately make a sale.
That isn’t visitor centricity.
Clients most likely have all the information they need to put their audience center stage in their web design. The problem is that many are not using the information. They are looking to the lists first.
Where is all the information gained from stalking the comments in industry, support, and competitors’ forums, from online and offline surveys, from social media, or word trends going?
Many clients don’t understand that this information should be used to answer their design questions. They usually focus on what is going wrong in face-to-face service or online customer support interactions.
Answer 4 questions for great website design with visitor centricity.
In reality, there are only 4 basic questions to starting a website design that will keep visitors clicking. The questions are based on close study of audience habits gleaned from social media, surveys, and forums.
- Is your audience first time browsers or current customers?
- What is your visitor trying to find?
- How did the visitor find your site?
- How are your goals different and similar to those of your visitors?
The truth is one website can’t be everything to everyone who drops by. When sites do this, the audience ends up very confused.
The last thing a website should do is baffle a visitor.
Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, create a single visitor profile based on what 70% or more of the audience wants based on the research. Then compare the single visitor profile to your goals for the website.
There are bound to be variations. Can your goals for the website be modified to satisfy the visitor’s goals?
Once commonalities are found and chosen, SEM clients must clearly communicate all the audience idiosyncrasies to the web designer. Website visitor centricity automatically leads to great website design that satisfies the client and their audience.