Would You Pay For Twitter?

July 28th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | Comments Off

The Guardian just reported that zero percent of surveyed people would pay to use Twitter. This isn’t really very surprising as it’s free already. Many people say they prefer to get free content online, supported by advertising. So here’s a question: would you pay for Twitter if you had to?

Or, put another way, how much would you pay?

This isn’t a test, just something to think about. If your answer is ‘nothing’ and you use Twitter to market your small business website, then read on…

Hopefully you already have lots of followers and they read and retweet your tweets (if you’re not sure about this then it’s time to start measuring these). A percentage of these people should turn into leads by direct messaging you or by visiting your website and triggering your conversion goals (again, if this concept is confusing, by all means ask for help)

How valuable are those Twitter leads? If you lost those leads what would that cost your business?

So now how much would you pay for Twitter? The sensible answer here would have to be ‘less than the value of the leads it brings you’ – but definitely more than nothing.

Again, this isn’t a test, but it is intended to help you think about whether you’re getting real value from Twitter as a marketing channel for your website. If after all these questions you still think it’s worthless then it might be worth re-thinking your tweeting (or your tracking, or your website and products).

PS. I wonder how many people out of the 0% used Twitter actively for business promotion?

More interesting articles:

Squeeze Your Twitter Lists

Are Your Tweets Search-Engine Friendly?

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Twitter Finally Gets its Own Link Shortener

April 21st, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | 4 Comments »

Twitter just confirmed that it will launch it’s own link shortener so this will make it quicker and easier to share links if you’re working directly on Twitter.

Link shorteners like bit.ly are great because (a) they let you fit long links into the tiny space allowed for Twitter updates and (b) most services allow you to track clicks on the links, giving you valuable insight into who’s interested in your updates. I wrote about shorteners in a recent infinite42 newsletter.

Until now, you had to go to an external service to do this if you were using Twitter direct – not a huge problem, but every step counts in the social marketing game, so I like this update.  Many Twitter client tools have their own shorteners already, so Twitter is really just filling an obvious gap in their product.

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Squeeze Your Twitter Lists

April 19th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | 1 Comment »

Twitter Lists are an exciting and useful way to create valuable channels of updates for your readers and customers.

Squeeze Your Twitter ListsIn this new guide, Squeeze Your Twitter Lists, I’ll show you how to create lists on Twitter, promote them and then squeeze the most out of them in terms of followers and value.

This is a free download and I hope you’ll read the guide and share it with a fellow owner of a small business website.

Twitter lists are a powerful new way to focus your life on Twitter, which has to be a good thing.

To download, just click on the image. To download and save, just right-click and select ‘Save As’.

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Are Your Tweets Search Engine Friendly?

April 16th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | 2 Comments »

It was reported recently that twitter does 19 billion searches per month which is a staggering number. This is 5x bing’s search number and even as much as 20% of Google’s.

What this means for your small business website is that your customers are probably (*) spending a decent slice of their time searching for stuff (hopefully your stuff) on Twitter, rather than the traditional search engines.

So -  it’s important to keep your tweets as search-friendly as possible. This comes down to using keywords in your tweets and tweeting often about useful stuff.

Drilling down into the numbers a bit, it seems that a lot of the searches are not done at Twitter at all but by Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and Seesmic. There’s also a decent number of searches from widgets on web pages that do continuous search of keywords, users, and so on. This doesn’t change things though and it’s definitely time to start thinking about how search-friendly your tweets are.

(*) Of course your customers may not be on Twitter at all!

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You Might Lose Some Google Traffic if your Website is Slow

April 14th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | 1 Comment »

If your website is slow you may start to lose search traffic from Google. The Google Webmaster Blog has had a few posts recently on the use of website speed in site ranking. I think it’s fair to say that Google will use it as a factor in your search position, but it’s still not as important as the relevance or authority of your site. This is one of those factors that affects your user experience so that definitely makes it worth paying attention to.

So it’s probably a good time to start checking your site speed now and plan any improvements that you’ll need to make.

To get you going, here are a few links to try out:

The Site Performance Tab on  Google Webmaster Tools

Try out the Page Speed extension for Firefox

Definitely look at Web Performance Best Practices at Google!

How fast is your site?

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Should You Integrate a Blog into your Website?

April 1st, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | 3 Comments »

[ How to Integrate a Blog into Your Website ]
Integrated or Hosted Blog?

Should you integrate a blog into your small business website or use a standalone blog site? Does it matter? Which one is best for visitors, or branding, or SEO?

It’s a good question, but probably misses the most important issue, which is whether to blog (or not). In my opinion, it’s one of the most useful things you can do for your small business, since it’s great for connecting with customers, sharing info, getting feedback, getting ideas straight in your head, and so on. So whether you choose to integrate your blog or not, your priority should really be to just get started.

So what’s an integrated blog anyway? It just a section of your website where your blog appears. It’s probably under the same URL as your main site, and possibly under a separate directory such as www.yoursite.com/blog (I’d recommend that – see later). You can integrate your own blog pretty easily using open source platforms like wordpress or moveable type.

The alternative to this is to run a separate blog site, possibly using a hosted blogging solution such as wordpress.com or blogger. The great thing about these are that they are really easy to set up and get going. You can customize them too using standard templates.

So how do you decide whether to integrate? Instead of making up your mind for you, here are some things to consider:

1. Either way, the main thing to focus on is whether visitors see a common theme/brand/message between the blog and your main website. If that means the blog is part of the main site, then good!

2. Can a hosted blog be customized to look the same as your main site (or at least very close?)

3. If you use an integrated blog, such as wordpress.org, it’s good to keep this in a separate section or directory, so it’s 100% clear to readers that they are reading a blog

4. Which is best for SEO? I don’t think it makes much difference (see the PS. at the bottom)

5. With a separately-hosted blog you’ve got two sites to promote, instead of one. That’s twice the amount of link-building and socializing to do. This isn’t completely black and white though, since you can (and should)  interlink the two sites.

6. Do you think your readers would benefit from finding all your content in one place (blog, main home page, product pages, about me and personal info, info pages, etc)?

So having read through these points, which would you choose for your website and blog?

PS. I’d be careful about getting too hung up on blogs for SEO. The value of a blog post for Page Rank (etc) is very low on it’s own, so it won’t contribute much to your overall site ranking unless it has a lot of inbound links. Unless you’re a high profile blogger, you’re probably not going to attract too many links to each post. Of course if you get your niche & keywords right then you certainly can attract plenty of keyword traffic through your blog. I’ve seen many sites that are only blogs and they catch a lot of Google traffic.

Image credit: dorineruter

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Squeeze Guide for your Small Business Website is Now Completely Free

March 30th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | Comments Off

Squeeze More Results from your Website

I wrote the Squeeze Guide as a high level introduction of the things that you need to do to make your website successful. You can download it here for free just by clicking on the picture.

I hope you’ll find it useful. If you do, please share it with a friend who owns a website. Don’t forget to save your copy when you’ve downloaded it (just use File -> Save As in your PDF reader).

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Get the infinite42 Small Business Website Newsletter

March 25th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | Comments Off

You can sign up for regular tips, ideas and news using the box over on the right. Just leave your first name and email address. You’ll get newsletters on small business website delivered straight to your inbox on a (semi) regular basis.

I hate spam as much as everyone else and will not share your contact info with anyone else.

To get you hungry for news, here are some examples of recent topics I’ve covered:

Really Easy Content Creation

All about posterous.com

Keep Hackers Out of Your Blog

Protect your wordpress installation

Be the First Fan on My Facebook Page…

I’m afraid you missed the chance!!

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Why Website Visits Can Drop When You Move to Google Analytics

March 10th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Web Analytics | 1 Comment »

If you’re a smart website owner then you’ll be tracking and measuring your site traffic with a tool such as AwStats or Google Analytics. If you use both though, this can cause some head scratching, because they can present some wildly different results. Some people say they only get a third of the traffic when they move over to Google. What’s going on?

Firstly, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean your traffic has actually dropped – it’s just that these different tools use different methods to measure your traffic. Logfile analyzers like AwStats look at the actual activity on your server and track the downloads of every single file – full pages, images, PDFs, scripts and so on. Google Analytics uses a tiny piece of Javascript on each page and tracks opens of full pages from visitors browsers.

Here are some factors that can make the results from these systems different:

  • Robots (like Googlebot) don’t run Javascript so these visits won’t show up in Google Analytics
  • Browsers cache website pages (i.e. keep a local copy on the computer) so they don’t always have to download pages that visitors read often. If this happens the web page view won’t show up at all on a log file (AwStats). Google Analytics can track the page view though because it runs on the browser
  • Some browsers have Javascript disabled so Google won’t track any website visits
  • Some visitors will have security software that stops Google working

There are pros and cons to each approach and I won’t confuse you with the detail (leave a comment or ask me if you’d like an explanation though!)

The basic message is that Google Analytics probably will show you a smaller number of visitors (maybe even a lot smaller). Many of these missed visits will be from automatic bots that are out there on the net crawling and indexing your site. You probably shouldn’t really care about them anyway, unless you’re worried about your site being indexed.

If you want some proof of this, take a look at a log file from a typical day of activity. Your internet host should provide these for you. Take a look through for robots (try a search for ‘bot’) – you may be surprised how often these visits happen.

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Website Popups Give Your Visitors Click Stress

February 11th, 2010 dr.richard Posted in Small Business Website | Comments Off

I can feel the stress levels rising as I click around various web sites these days (not just vacation rental sites). I’m almost nervous to move the mouse around, let alone click on some of the links. What’s going on?

  • Newsletter popups (sign up for my free newsletter) as soon as I arrive at a site
  • Newsletter popups when I try to leave the same site (will I ever escape?). Do I click ‘OK’ to get rid of it or will this take me to yet another page?
  • Add this, share this, tweet this – popups appearing in headers, in footers, all over the place
  • Fixed position highlights that stay on the page even if you try to scroll away (‘have you checked out the latest news?’)
  • Finally, the worst offender, when I try to click out to another site I’m informed that my exit click has been tracked, would I like to use the service on my site and by the way, would I like to visit the site I was trying to get to in the first place?

Some of these appear when you click your mouse. For others, all you have to do is float your mouse over a dangerous area of the web page.

I think this all contributes to a new syndrome and I’m going to call it click stress. The things you click on don’t do what you expect. You can’t get to the information and the pages that you do want. You can’t escape from annoying pages without clicking close 3 times (this might even open up some new popups for you if you’re really unlucky). It makes web surfing difficult and stressful.

If you use some (or all) of these techniques, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s tempting to add a few of these widgets because they are easy to install, free and carry the promise of more visitors (or more tweets, or more friends, etc). It’s important to make sure your website does the right thing and actually helps your readers. Is it gently educating them and then maybe, just maybe offering them some related information? This is the way to build trust, teach your readers and encourage them to come back for more another day.

Popups are like interruption marketing at it’s worst – unwelcome, unrelated, usually irrelevant and badly timed.

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