Responsive is now the standard.

Every business needs a beautiful, well designed Website.

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However, if that Website can’t be viewed properly on a mobile device or tablet you run the risk of losing potential clients.

This is where responsive Website comes into play.

Responsive Websites are perfect on every device

Back in the day, (ie pre-smartphones & tablets) having a Website that looked good on a cell phone was a non-issue. Fast forward to 2016, more Google searches occur on mobile than on desktop. What this means for you is that if your site doesn’t look good on a smartphone or tablet, you will lose users. That means less sales for your business.

Google Prefers a Responsive Website

Google is advancing its algorithm very quickly, and its goal is to be indistinguishable from a human being. In other words, if a human can’t easily understand a particular Web page or Web site in general, the algorithm can’t either, resulting in penalties and lower rankings.

No need for a separate mobile site

If you have a responsive Website, you eliminate the need for a separate mobile site. One site is easier to manage on a day to day basis. Also, without a separate mobile site, you don’t need separate SEO and Adwords campaigns.

Responsive sites have lower bounce rates

A bounce rate is the number of people who visit on your Website, but don’t click anywhere. When a site looks bad on your smartphone, those users tend to bounce. Google translates that into your site being irrelevant. In turn, that hurts your SEO.

Responsive sites are timeless

A responsive site is designed based on the size of the screen. It adapts based on screen size, not type of device. So, when new devices come out with different size screens, you won’t have to redesign your Website. This will save you time and money in the future.

Why Your Business Needs a Website

Web design for small businesses.

Even if you’re not planning on selling online, a well-crafted site is essential for any business.

Q: My business is very small, just me and two employees, and our product really can’t be sold online. Do I really need a Website?

A: That’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most important and most frequently asked questions of the digital business age. Before I answer, however, let’s flash back to the very first time I was asked this question. It was circa 1998, during the toddler years of the Internet.

[source: Tim Knox, Entrepreneur] I was giving a speech on the impact of the Internet on small business at an association luncheon in Montgomery, Alabama. Back in 1998, which was decades ago in Internet years, the future of e-commerce was anybody’s guess, but even the most negative futurists agreed that all the signs indicated that a large portion of future business revenues would be derived from online transactions or from offline transactions that were the result of online marketing efforts.

So should your business have a Website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don’t think can be sold online? My answer in 1998 is the same as my answer today: Yes, if you have a business, you should have a Website. Period. No question. Without a doubt.

Also, don’t be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can’t be sold online. Nowadays, there’s very little that can’t be sold over the Internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.

Let me clarify one point: I’m not saying you should put all your efforts into selling your wares over the Internet, though if your product lends itself to easy online sales, you should certainly be considering it. The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the Web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

That said, it’s not enough that you just have a Website. You must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company Websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.

You also mention that yours is a small operation, but when it comes to benefiting from a Website, size does not matter. I don’t care if you’re a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don’t have a Website, you’re losing business to other companies that do.

Here’s the exception to my rule: It’s actually better to have no Website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!” or it screams, “Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!”

Your Website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.


Digital Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Digital and mobile solutions for Ulster county businesses.

If you’re a startup with a tight budget, digital marketing offers you more than traditional marketing routes.

Simon Burckhardt, UK managing director at Vonage, shares practical tips to make a big online impact with limited budget.

“A few things have been learned from our small and home business customers about online marketing on a shoestring. The biggest challenge for startups is how to attract new customers with limited time and resources, but the good news is that you don’t need to be a marketing guru or have a big budget to get your new business off to a flying start.” — Simon Burckhardt

Know your customers

Ask yourself what you know about your target customers, where they live, what their lifestyles are and their interests. Tools like Alexa help you discover where they visit on the Web and social networks, while free data from Google Trends will help you discover what they’re searching for.

Get blogging

Blogging is a free and powerful way to get your business noticed and scores highly in SEO (search engine optimization) terms by pushing your site up search rankings. Plus, you don’t need to be a star writer to get started:

  • Do research on social media, search engines or question and answer Websites like Yahoo Answers to see what your customers are looking for
  • Tools like BuzzSumo can help you generate blog ideas that are popular and current
  • Check other industry blogs to find hot topics; can you give a fresh insight?
  • Give your opinion on industry news or data from surveys and polls

Build an audience by contributing to other popular blogs and Websites. Guest blogging will generate inbound links to your Website, build brand awareness, help associate your business with the prestige of popular blogs and drive leads, Website traffic and social media buzz.

Be social: start and join conversations

A study by the Internet Advertising Bureau found that almost 80% of consumers would buy more often because of a brand’s presence on social media. On networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can interact directly with target customers, but remember that social is about people. Your prospects want engaging conversations, not product promotions. It’s about listening too, so you can join a conversation about your industry or brand at the right moment.

Build your email marketing list

Email is a direct way to stay in touch with prospective customers and convert qualified leads into sales. To build your email marketing list, you must first win people’s trust and consent to be contacted. Offering a free download of an eBook, podcast or information sheet “in exchange for an email address,” is the best way to start an opt-in email list and make sure your emails aren’t rejected as spam. Email is also a perfect way to share news about your latest products, services and promotions.

Images speak louder than words

According to Internet marketers HubSpot, Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes than text-only posts. You can create lots of great content without reaching for the dictionary.

Create infographics that go viral

An eye-catching infographic has a much better chance of going viral than text content, which means a potential marketing bonanza for you. You don’t have to be a design wizard either. If you’ve got a good idea, services like Piktochart offer easy design templates for free or little cost.

Make YouTube videos to boost search rankings

Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google? YouTube videos get automatic priority in Google search listings and these days it’s easy to create low-cost but high-quality video. Do you know if your customers search for “how-to guides” on YouTube? If so, making a tutorial video will give you quick wins in traffic and visibility and it’ll be popular on your social media channels.

Use SEO to get ahead of competitors

Getting your business as high as possible up the search listings will boost your search engine traffic, which means free marketing and potential sales. If you convince search engines that your Website is the most relevant site for your targeted keywords, you’ll get a consistent flood of traffic. Investing in paid search will help drive increase traffic to your site which can result in an increase of organic visitors via SEO. You can do basic SEO yourself for free, but search engines are growing increasingly sophisticated, so consider the benefits of paying an SEO specialist.

More Searches Now On Mobile

More searches are now on mobile than on desktop.

Company officially confirms what many have been anticipating for years.

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Last year we heard informal statements from several Google employees that mobile search queries would probably overtake desktop queries some time this year. Google just confirmed this has now happened.

The company says that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” The company declined to elaborate further on what the other countries were, how recently this change happened or what the relative volumes of PC and mobile search queries are now.

Google did tell us that mobile queries include mobile browser-based searches and those coming from Google’s mobile search apps. The company didn’t break down the relative shares of each.

Google groups tablets with desktops. So this is just smartphones and does not include tablets.

Comscore previously released a report and graphic, showing the relative volume of US-based search queries on PCs, tablets and smartphones. Overall the company said that in Q4 2014, US mobile queries (tablets + smartphones) were roughly 29 percent of total search volumes. This is across the entire industry.

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What Google is now saying suggests that either the comScore data were incorrect or the growth of mobile search is happening much faster than anticipated or some combination of those explanations.

These data are being released in the context of a range of new AdWords and Google Display Network tools and announcements, which Ginny Marvin has discussed in more detail in a companion article. Generally speaking the announcements cover new ad formats, new automation tools across both search and display ads and new measurement and attribution capabilities, with an emphasis on store visits and offline measurement.

With this revelation that mobile search has now overtaken desktop search we get a bit more color and context for the recent mobile-friendly algorithm update. I’ve been arguing for well over a year that mobile is now the “primary screen” for marketers.

That now extends to search marketers as well.