The Best Content Management Systems For Your Website

Long gone are the days of static HTML websites that were a major headache to simply update a line of text. There are a range of different content management systems available to allow you as the website owner to easily update and manage your own content, images and videos without hiring an experience web developer/designer. There are some choices out there and while each has it's own distinct advantages and disadvantages you should always be using a content management system for any new website you are creating. Why? You will save money, time and effort which are three of the most important things for any small business. Let's get started and  take a look at the three most common content management systems you can use for your website.

Wordpress

Wordpress has become the most popular content management system online due to it's capacity to suit a wide range of businesses for a variety of different things. From a corporate website to a blog to a fully supercharged e-commerce store. Wordpress has the capacity to do it all. With a large open source & plugin developer community you are able to find virtually anything that will perform the functionality you are searching for. The one advantage Wordpress has over the competition is that there are over 27,000 themes and 9,000 plugins available give you a variety of choice and the ability to create something beautiful and affordable. It's easy to install and you need zero experience to get started using it. The best part is that it is also free. Wordpress has a very user friendly backend that allows you as the website owner to create new pages, blog posts & menu items with relative ease. You can make existing changes to text all within a couple of minutes. Due to it's popularity Wordpress has frequent updates which you as the website owner need to consistently be on top of to avoid issues with security and potential hacks. Overall Wordpress is suited to small businesses looking for a well rounded platform that is secure, easy to use and flexible.

Drupal

In comparison to Wordpress, Drupal can be considered to be on the other end of the specturm in terms of complexity as it isn't as user friendly, however it can be considered to be more powerful to power complex applications and web projects. It is great for those that are technically advanced and it has the capacity to be used for any type of website. It can cause confusion for website owners who aren't particularly technically savy and don't have the time to learn the platform in full. It is considered to be faster than Wordpress as it requires less resources to power it, however as time goes on the difference between the two is minimal especially given the ability to configure caching plugins, minify resources and run your website through a content delivery network. If you are looking for a powerful content management system and you have some technical skills to run your website or application Drupal is a good choice.

Joomla

Joomla sits somewhere in between Wordpress & Drupal in terms of complexity making it a good choice for many small businesses. It is not as technical as Drupal in terms of ongoing management while still remaining quite powerful. Joomla is well known for powering social networks and e-commerce websites, however Wordpress has started to gain some traction with small to medium sized e-commerce stores. Joomla comes with loads of themes and plugins to extend your website and it is also free like Wordpress and Drupal and has an extensive open source community contributing to it's continued growth and enhancement.

Still confused as what to choose? If you run a small business and you want to make changes every now and then to your website choose something that is user friendly like Wordpress. Deciding to use Drupal would usually mean that you have some technical expertise and have the ability to learn how the system works. Joomla is somewhere between the middle of the two giving you a powerful content management system that isn't too complex.

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What E-commerce Platform Should I Use

You've made that first step into the big world of selling online and e-commerce, but where do you start? It can be daunting with the multiple platforms and open source technologies available in the e-commerce world. We've created a list of our favourite e-commerce platforms and in what scenario you should use each one. So you know there is no perfect platform or technology that you should use. Every business is different and the choice available means that everyone can find what suits their goals, plans and overall business strategy. Let's not delay any further and get into our list.

Shopify/Bigcommerce

We've lumped these two together as they are basically the same thing (they would probably tell you different). Shopify and Bigcommerce allow you as the business owner to pay per month and create your online shop in minutes, hours or days depending on the complexity. The great thing about these platforms is that they are user friendly and they are built for e-commerce. Every feature they have is designed to improve your ability to run a successful e-commerce store. They have a multitude of themes you can choose from to style your website. Some of the disadvantages include that you are locked into using their platform, the more you sell the more it costs you and there is a fixed monthly cost. Also if you lack the technical skills you will find it quite difficult to create some of the beautiful examples sites they show. If you have the time and some basic skills online your business can flourish using one of these platforms and it's ideal for that business that is first starting up and looking to limit their initial costs. Both platforms also have an extensive add-on section to take your online store to the next level.

Magento

In comparison to Shopify and Bigcommerce, Magento is at the whole other end of the spectrum. Many enterprise and Fortune 500 companies run their e-commerce stores using Magento which means it has the capacity to handle a lot of products and a lot of volume, however this makes it much more complex to manage. It is popular with many businesses who want to integrate their in-store inventory with their online sales. Magento has an extensive directory of add-ons and features to power your store. To run a Magento store you should be looking to list and sell a lot of products e.g. 1000 & above. The drawbacks in using Magento is that you are likely going to need a specialised developer to build your e-commerce store which is going to cost you more from the outset. Magento is perfect for the medium sized to large sized e-commerce store.

Woocommerce

Woocommerce has made a huge dint in the e-commerce platform given the number of websites around the world that use Wordpress. It is a highly customisable e-commerce plugin that can be used directly in Wordpress and supercharging your website into an online store. It has loads of custom features and plugins that can enhance and extend it's functionality meaning that is has now become the preference for many smaller to medium sized e-commerce retailers who want to retain control over the look and feel of their store without losing too much of the advanced functionality that may come with some of the other platforms. Over 14% of e-commerce websites now use E-commerce and the number is growing every year. If you are looking for something user friendly, relatively inexpensive and easy to use then Woocommerce may be the platform for you.

Confused about what e-commerce platform to use? We hope this has helped you make your decision. Let us know what your favourite platform is by commenting below.

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Search Engine Optimisation vs Search Engine Marketing

Many businesses ask the question of how quick can they get to the top of Google and what is the best way to do it. There are two proven strategies that will help your visibility in search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimisation is a term to describe optimising your website to appear organically in search engines based on certain keywords people are searching for. Search engine marketing on the other hand is optimised advertising that appears at the top and left hand side of search engines and when clicked on, links to a page on your website. With search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) you are always targeting keywords but the way you appear on search engines is different in each scenario and the associated cost vs return is measured differently.

 

As an individual or business what strategy is best for you. Let's just start out by saying that there isn't a one size fits all and SEO now falls into a broad category that includes content and social media marketing as both contribute to your overall search engine position. Any good digital marketing strategy has detailed research and a plan to deliver on measurable goals. Whatever your business is you should always plan your goals for your website just like you do for your everyday operations. Your goal may be to generate 4 enquiries a month through your website or if you are running an e-commerce store it may be to convert your search engine marketing to 10 actual customers through checkout each month. Having goals at the start aids with developing and refining your plan as you move along and grow your website.

SEO and SEM have the term 'keywords' in common. The more competitive the keywords the more you should expect to pay as there are more people actively trying to acquire visitors and traffic for these search terms. Ultimately this will make it more difficult for you to rank higher in a short amount of time. With both strategies you can put your business in front by doing detailed research or having your digital partner undertake research to uncover niche pockets or underutilised keywords that fall within your target audience. While targeting broad terms are okay for loads of traffic you may be missing out on those customers that are actively in the buying cycle. For example if you are trying to target the keyword "shoes" compared to "buy running shoes" you will find that while your traffic may be good you may be missing out on a high conversion rate as you are targeting the wrong search terms. Any good plan will have a mix of active longtail keywords and broader terms that are relevant to your industry.

What Strategy Should I Use?

It's a question that many businesses will ask themselves. Why should I pay for search engine optimisation when I can just run some Google Adwords. Many people fall into the trap of trying to do everything especially when they run a small business. Effective search engine marketing requires research, time and effort to optimise ads and split test results to measure conversions. Typically we would recommend to a client to use a combination of both SEO and SEM if their market is big enough and if there is significant competition.

SEO can be your best friend! Think about whenever you search for a restaurant or a service or if you want to buy something online. Where is the first place you head to? I'm sure 99% of people would say Google. If your business isn't on the first page unfortunately it's unlikely that you will see 95% of these potential customers looking for your goods and services. Sure you can run some Google Adwords but you are investing money for each click through to your website and do you have a plan to track conversions, what pages people are searching on your website and when they are leaving. In the long term the return on investment for SEO is better than a do it yourself search engine marketing plan. Why? With solid first page rankings you aren't paying everytime somebody clicks on your website and you have the capacity to outperform those ads that appear and not pay each time someone clicks on your website. Think about how much you will spend on advertising your website in comparision to how many new customers you will obtain and their average overall spend. Being on the first page will drive more traffic, more enquiries and sales while maintaining a fixed cost. Search engine marketing requires detailed optimisation of bids and managing of costs on a daily and weekly basis. If you are in a very competitive market you can be looking at upwards of $10 - $20 per click. While sustainable in some industries you need to have a plan to track conversion and optimise your ads and landing pages.

SEM is an important component of any business and is a perfect strategy for an e-commerce store where you can track the cost of a click and a potential sale. E.g. if a click costs you $2.00 and you make $10.00 off that customer there is a decent margin and good return on investment for the business. Another scenario is a specific landing page aimed at converting visitors. If you are running a campaign or a special promotion it is the perfect opportunity to run an Adwords campaign and track how your landing pages are performing. It is highly important though that you are not just throwing up some Adwords without managing their performance. While traffic is great you would prefer highly targeted traffic that is more likely to convert so you aren't wasting your money. The importance of conversions goes ten fold whenever you run a search engine marketing campaign as you have paid money to get the customer to your website and if they leave before they do what you want them to you need to know why. This is where many businesses fall down when it comes to advertising their website.

Think long term and get your business ranking for targeted keywords and build a search engine marketing campaign that compliments your organic position on search engines and as a way to create special landing pages for promotions and specials.

Related Tags: Social Media Marketing Newcastle | SEO Newcastle


Five Must Have Wordpress Plugins

There are thousands and thousands of Wordpress plugins available to supercharge your website, but what are some of the best and what should you be using on your website? Depending on your business and what you want to achieve with your website you will find a plugin to do pretty much anything. Taking into account the vast majority of Wordpress websites being used today these are our must have plugins for everyone. Let's get started with our first plugin.

Akismet

If you are familiar with Wordpress you will know about those pesky spam comments that appear on your pages and posts. How do you get rid of them? It's not easy and there are many tricks spammers use to get links, comments and potential malware onto your website. You don't want to get rid of comments completely as it is a good way to encourage community on your site and interact with your potential audience. That's why we recommend using Akismet. This plugin automatically filters comments on posts and pages directly into the spam section in your comments. Avoid a build up of annoying comments that are clogging up your database by using Akismet. All you then need to do is regularly login to your Wordpress dashboard and empty your spam folder. It's that easy. A simple way to keep your Wordpress website spam free and running at it's optimal level.

Woocommerce

Ever wanted to turn your website into a functioning e-commerce store at the click of a button? Well you can easily with Woocommerce. It is important to note that if your Wordpress theme or website isn't compatible with Woocommerce it will need slight code modifications to ensure everything runs correctly. Woocommerce now powers close to 18% of all e-commerce websites on the web and is a stable solution for small, medium and large sized e-commerce stores with inventory integration, shipping, coupons, ordering and reports. It's easy to use, manage and integrates straight into your Wordpress website. What's not to love!

W3 Total Cache

Need to improve the speed and responsiveness of your website? The perfect solution for the majority of websites is to take advantage of caching and minimising css & javascript files. This can give you that much needed performance boost to convert your potential visitors. While W3 Total Cache can be difficult to configure for a novice there are dedicated support options and the use of the plugin is highly recommended because everyone loves a fast, speedy website.

Google Analytics +

You have a website, however are you tracking the people who visit, how long they spend on your site and when they leave. You can see all of that and more in your Wordpress dashboard with engaging visual displays to track your visits and website growth. Any good online strategy will monitor visits and conversions to refine and improve. Make it easy for yourself and integrate it all into your Wordpress backend with this Google Analytics plugin.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is one of the best free contact form plugins available for your Wordpress website. It allows you to easily create multiple field forms and embed them directly onto your website. Using contact forms you increase your chances of converting potential visitors to customers or enquiries. Contact Form 7 makes the job a whole lot easier.

There you have it! Our list of five must have Wordpress plugins. We'd love to hear about some plugins you can't live without.

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5 Ways To Improve Your Website

It's the holy grail isn't it? A website that you like, people use and ultimately makes you money or brings more customers in the door. But how many people can actually achieve it? The odds aren't really stacked in your favour as there are so many factors that make the difference between an okay website and a great one. So if you're thinking about your new website or thinking about how you can improve your current one here are 7 things you should be looking at:

Mobile Friendly Design

Think about how many times you use your phone to look something up when you're out on the run or browse while you're bored. Those same people are searching for your products  or services and guess what, if you have a website that isn't responsive on all screen sizes people are going to turn away and go somewhere else. You competitors are going to pick up those people that don't have the time to zoom in with their fingers to read your tiny print! Quality design should always focus on mobile first and build out to more common and larger screen sizes. Given the rise of responsive design the days of having a separate mobile site for your business are long gone so don't even think about going down this route. Still not convinced mobile is important. Here are some amazing stats on the rise of mobile usage and quick infographic showing how addicted we are to our phones:

Optimise For Local Search

Search engine optimisation is important and it is also a highly specialised industry that requires understanding and patience. If you are running your own business or looking to start a new venture you may quickly run out of patience as you wait for your do it yourself SEO to kick in. There are some things you can do though to get some quick wins. Focus on your local area and you will have much more success. Register your business for Google places, submit your business to local relevant directories like the business chamber in your area. A little kick up the but for your website locally will make the world of difference.

Speed Is Important

How long has your current website been on it's current server and how many times in the last year have you actually visited it? Probably not many! Speed plays a huge part in converting visitors into potential or actual customers. People have zero tolerance and won't wait around while your website loads. That potential customer will move on to your nearest competitor. Review the speed of your website using Pingdom or Page Speed Insights. Take a look at your website response times and pass some of the comments back to your web developer to see if they can improve your website.

Review Your Content

Even if your website is only a few years old you have probably changed a lot since then. Think about the message you are conveying with your content and copy and continually work on making it better. This will help you turn those visitors into customers. Don't feel comfortable coming up with your own ways to describe how good you are? Outsource the writing of your copy through Freelancer, Odesk or Elance. There are millions of people itching to write about how amazing you are and all you have to do is throw it up on your website.

Start A Blog

Why is a blog so important? It's an outlet for the business to connect with people who are interested in what they do. It's the opportunity to build a community and extend your branding online into a new forum. It's also great for SEO and is also another way to share interesting content on your social media platforms. Focus on creating content that is going to be useful for people who are searching for your business. For example if you're a paint shop talk about what paints are currently on trend for all the renovators out there. Try not to sell too much but create information that people want to read and circulate with their friends.

As a professional seo company these 5 tips are a sure fire way to give your website that tune up that it may desperately need. As an owner of a business you need ways to keep your website fresh and running well as it's the face for your business and usually the first place people get an impression of you. Don't let it go to waste and incorporate a mobile friendly design, local search optimisation, website speed, amazing content and a fresh blog to improve your website today.

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4 Secrets To Standing Out On Facebook

Most businesses are now using Facebook one way or another. It might be because everyone has told you need a Facebook page or you may find that it's one of the best ways to communicate with your customers. No matter what you think of Facebook it's important to have it, because if you don't potential customers are on their way to one of your competitors instead of you. One of the best ways to think about unlocking the secrets of building your Facebook community is to view it from your own perspective as a user of social media. Ask yourself what strikes your interest, makes you want to like a page or click a link? Once you answer these questions you are part of the way to understanding how to use your Facebook page as a marketing tool for your business.

Use Visuals

With short attention spans and the amount of content people are fed everyday at the drop of the button or the swipe of a finger you need to create and post content that is visually engaging. You need to catch peoples attention and the best way to do it is with images and videos. People no longer take the time to read a Facebook post if it doesn't include something visually stimulating especially if you are a business. When you want to get your message across include a graphic, image or video to accompany your text. The opportunity for people to share, like and comment on your post will increase. A simple trick you can use is to connect your instagram account to your Facebook page so all your images automatically show up on your Facebook feed as well.

Infographics are a great way to get your message across on Facebook or on your blog...

Design Your Page

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their business Facebook page is not giving it the edge to stand out when people visit. Simply adding a cover photo and profile photo will do wonders for your page. Try and update them regularly to coincide with special promotions or messages you want people to see. Giving your Facebook page that bit of polish is likely to encourage more likes and people to recommend and review your page. Also try to tie in the branding of your Facebook page with the design of your website and other social media accounts so you are delivering a consistent message. Also a perfect tool to use is the highlight post tool to make a post on your page bigger and as a headline for your page. Check out some of the 50 best brands on Facebook and see how you can do it as well.

Stop Promoting Yourself

It might seem like a stupid comment but ultimately you are going to do more harm than good if you constantly bombard people with self promotion. People always love specials and deals but they are also on social media to tune out and read something cool or watch a funny video. Share & like other peoples pages and information and send them out to your audience. You will increase engagement and find that people are more likely to share the content you post and in the process increasing your brand awareness. You don't need to try and sell something with every post. You can then easily slip in promotions or links back to your own website and their impact will be greater. Remember what you want to see on social media & apply it to the industry you're in and you will get better results.

Start Advertising

Facebook advertising can be a great way to boost likes and build your community of followers. Unfortunately you aren't typically able to reach the audience you want to if you don't advertise even just a little bit. The boost post tool can be great to increase the spread of a post that is performing well to be shown to friends of people who like your page. If people are seeing you alot they are likely to check out your page and see what you do and why it's worth their while to like your page. That's where exciting, interesting content and a well designed page come together.

Hopefully these simple tips can help you stand out on Facebook and outperform your competitors.

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5 Killer Ways To Sell More Online

You've entered the exciting world of selling online and the opportunities seem endless as you launch that new website and start promoting your amazing new store that is going to take over the world. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. The old saying "build it and they will come" really hits home as you start your e-commerce journey. The first thing you need to know that just like any other business it's hard at first to get started, get your name out there and build a sales funnel. Being online is an accelerated version of any other business. The moment those sales don't come rolling in as you expected there is a tendency to panic and start stressing about if you've done the right thing and why don't people love your products. Your first step should always be to take a breath and calm down and then see if these 5 tips can help you sell more online.

Marketing Is Number 1

You need to market your business through multiple channels. If people can't find you then they are unlikely to buy your products as they don't know they exist. Simple marketing techniques include basic search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. Start off small and target your local areas rather than trying to take over the world. This way you can refine, test and optimise your strategies depending on the results. Social media is one of the most important channels for any e-commerce business and some simple Facebook and Twitter advertising allows you to go after your target demographic and refine your campaigns depending on sales and conversions. If you aren't already thinking about re-targeted advertising you should be. Many studies show that many people don't buy on the first visit so you constantly need to be in these peoples faces. Think about when you go to an e-commerce website and suddenly you start seeing that website everywhere you browse no matter what. The beauty of cookies allows people to target you through banner advertising if you have visited a specific website or even a specific product. What else can you do? Email marketing is the golden egg of online marketing and is one of the best techniques to convert visitors or previous purchasers. Make your emails fun, exciting, different and always give the consumer something to stand out from the crowd.

 

Integrate Your Website With Other Selling Channels

As your business is in the first stages of growth and your online marketing is kicking into gear you need some quick wins. The best and easiest way to do this is integrate your shop with already established marketplaces where people buy, sell and communicate. Not only can you sell some products but it can have a positive impact on your branding. Some marketplaces that you can integrate with directly from the backend of your website include Ebay & Amazon. You are now communicating with millions of visitors who are in the buying phase instantly.

Use Social Media To Sell

Your social media strategy should incorporate setting up a Facebook store to sell even more products. It's simple and easy to get started and you can instantly start advertising and selling to your social media community. You can instantly attract sales from consumers who don't want to leave the comfort of your Facebook page. There are a variety of third party plugins to achieve it and this should be something you need to start thinking about into the future.

Optimise For Mobile

If you're website isn't already optimised for viewing on mobile phones you need to do it. More and more consumers are now purchasing on their phones with mobile commerce one of the fastest growing segments of e-commerce. If you don't optimise for mobile you are missing out on potential customers who are going to leave and go with one of your competitors. The easier you can make it for someone to buy from you the more sales you will make.

Conversions, Conversions, Conversions

It's one thing to get people to visit your website and it's another to get them to convert into sales. Some simple things you can do include impressive product photos that stand out from the crowd, detailed and informative product descriptions, multiple product images showing the varying views of the products and detailed video guides reviewing the product and how you use it. All these things can help you stand out in front of the competitor and convert that potential buyer into an actual buyer. You also need to optimise the  landing pages that people visit from Google or your Facebook and PPC advertising. Split test landing pages and track conversions to see how they are performing. Continue to review, enhance and improve your landing pages to convert visitors into sales.

Selling online isn't easy so be prepared to put the work if you want it to be successful. We hope these 5 tips can help your business succeed and sell more online.

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