The Keys to Keyword Research for Your Small Business Website 

Here’s a topic we haven’t yet covered this year: keyword research. You may think this is something for marketers and e-commerce types, but as a small business owner it is important to understand at least the basics of this element of search engine optimization.

What are Keywords, Anyway?

 Keywords are the words and phrases that you put into a search engine like Google. They serve as the basis for search engine optimization. If you are an accountant, you will want more keywords on your website that have to do with that area. When people search for these words and phrases, they are more likely to find your small business website if you do search engine optimization right.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is exactly what it sounds like: it is researching and identifying the most relevant keywords for your small business. To use the same example, let’s say you are an accountant. For effective SEO, you do not simply want the phrase “accounting services” on your website to draw in customers. It’s simply not effective.

Instead, you want to find out which keywords your customers and potential leads are searching for. This is where keyword research comes in. Instead of just “accounting services”, you can include “2018 tax season,” “affordable accounting options,” and more. With keyword research, you can identify hundreds of words and phrases that are relevant to your small business.

How Does Keyword Research Work?

There are quite a number of ways to go about keyword research. The most straightforward method is to just start by making a few Google searches yourself. Change up the words, add additional words, and get more specific. Look at the results and see what related keywords come up. At this point you will have a good starting list of keywords relevant to your small business.

From there, you can enter these keywords into specific keyword research tools to get additional ideas.

 Why is Keyword Research Important?

As we mentioned above, keywords are the basis of search engine optimization. Keyword research allows you to identify the keywords that your potential customers are searching for and tailor your blog and website content accordingly.

7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Small Business Website

There is no neutral impression when it comes to your small business website. When a visitor enters your website for the first time, their impression will either be negative or positive. How can you make sure that the reaction is positive?

The goal of any website is to make visitors (and potential customers) more comfortable with the business. For your small business, this means making visitors want to do business with you. Unfortunately, many businesses – both small and large – make too many mistakes on their website to create a lasting, positive impression.

If you are looking to create leads out of your small business website, the first thing you want to do is to make sure you avoid these seven common mistakes.

#1: Overloading the Website with Information

Less is more when it comes to creating a compelling image on your small business website. You don’t need to include every single detail of your company’s history, and you certainly do not need to overload the website with self-praise. Instead, focus on the customer and how your business can benefit them. Make bullet points and lists, not a 10-page essay.

#2: No Clear & Concise Message

Marketing content must be focused on a target customer, and online copy is no exception. First, decide what it is that you want to convey to your customers and potential clients. Then create a website that conveys that message in a clear and concise way.

#3: Confusing Contact Options

It may seem like a no-brainer, but many small businesses fail to include clear contact information on their website. In general, you want to avoid the generic “Contact Us” web forms. Instead, include a phone number and direct email address, both on the Contact page and in the footer of every single page on your website.

#4: Not Spending the Time to Proofread

Again, this is an obvious item that often tends to be overlooked. Just like you wouldn’t rush the product or service you provide, avoid rushing the website creation process for your small business. Spend time proofreading every single page of your small business website. This small step can help you avoid looking sloppy to new visitors.

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

#5: Not Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website

With smart phones as ubiquitous as they are today, it is no wonder that most people tend to access information online using a mobile device. Creating a mobile-friendly website is a non-negotiable for any business, large or small. It’s simply part of making sure your customers and leads have easy access to the information you want to provide them.

#6: A Cluttered and Confusing Website Design

You want to make sure that customers – and leads! – can easily find exactly what they are looking for. Take the time to go through your website and make sure there are no dead ends, that the menus are clear and easy to grasp, and that no page has too much information on it.

#7: Not Including a Call to Action on Every Page

A small business website offers you the opportunity to convert leads. Do not waste that opportunity! Calls to action do not have to be limited to a sales page. Have a sign up form, a free download, or even a ‘contact us’ button on each page. This gives the visitor more of a chance to interact, and more of a chance of becoming a customer.

Making Your First Small Business Website: 3 Steps

There’s no question that a web presence is necessary for any small business starting up today. From corner cafés to social media management firms, customers will nearly always look for information online – through both Google and social media.

If you want potential customers to be able to find out who you are and what you do, a small business website is absolutely necessary.

This process can seem overwhelming, especially for those who have zero web design or web management experience. But don’t fear! There are many ways to get a small business website up and running without ever typing a single line of code. Instead, there are expert firms and freelancers who can get the majority of the work done. In exchange, all you have to provide is your vision for the website and what you want to get out of it.

Even if you do outsource the creation of your small business website, there are a few steps that you need to take as the small business owner. Using these three steps, you can get a high-quality and purposeful small business website up and running in a matter of weeks.

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

#1: Determine the Purpose of Your Website

The very first step in creating a website for your small business is to determine what you want the website to do for you.

  • Do you want to create a static site that simply gives potential customers your basic information and services?
  • Do you want your small business website to provide helpful updates and information to your current customers?
  • Do you want to collect information and preferences from customers to learn how to better serve them?

These are all valid uses for a website, but which one you choose depends on what you want for your business – and what kind of small business you have in the first place. Once you determine the purpose, you can determine what kind of management system and content the website needs.

#2: Decide on a Web Host and Web Content Management System

There are many different web hosts available to small business owners. A quick Google search will show you the range of prices, packages and options for hosting your website. Which one you choose depends on how much content you will be uploading and how many visitors you expect to your website.

The second element of this second step is to determine a web content management system. This sounds fancy, but all it is a cloud-based software that helps you manage your website. The most popular content management system in the world is WordPress – it also happens to be one of the easiest systems to use. With WordPress, you can add dozens of plug-ins that increase the efficiency and usability of your website. 

#3: Develop Content for Your Small Business Website

The final step in setting up your first small business website is creating content for the site. This can take the form of informative blog posts, special offers, menus, slideshows and more. It all depends on the purpose of both your small business and your website – as you originally determined in the very first step.

No matter what content you include, it should always be compelling to site visitors and convey why you are the right business for them. If you think of your website as the frontline of your business’ marketing, you are on the right track. If you keep it professional but personal, you should be golden.

Do not hesitate to reach out and contact us here at HubRunner if you have any questions about creating your small business website!

How Outsourcing Can Save You Time & Money

Any leader faces the same decision each and every day: which tasks do I need to complete today, and what can I delegate to other team members? This question applies to meetings, to writing, to smaller decisions, and more.

Small business owners face this decision to an even greater degree: which parts of my business should I handle in-house, and which parts can be outsourced to others who are experts in their field?

Outsourcing: A Cost-Saving Measure

According to Digital Minds International, outsourcing IT can often be a productive and cost-saving measure for small businesses everywhere:

Small businesses don’t have the resources to fully support all of their IT infrastructure needs. The present in-house staff is most likely very busy putting out day-to-day fires. One statistic suggests 65% of IT budgets go to nothing more than keeping the lights on. In short, staff is busy making sure the printer works or reloading a PC infected by a virus after an employee fell for a phishing email. This means that small firm’s expenditures on IT are not improving operational, efficiency, or enhancing productivity or competitiveness.

In other words, it isn’t usually an effective choice to keep all IT tasks in-house. Instead, many small businesses could enjoy greater efficiency – and therefore greater competitiveness – by outsourcing everything from data management to WordPress website design.

So how can outsourcing these specific tasks save you time and money?

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

Save Money By Outsourcing Highly Skilled Tasks

If you own a small business, chances are you don’t need a full time website designer, graphic designer, or WordPress manager. Your website may need a few updates every week, but you can’t justify bringing on board another team member with the accountant. At the same time, you probably don’t have the experience that it takes to create a polished, user-friendly website.

This is where outsourcing comes in. From copywriting to accounting to web design, small businesses can take the headache and questions out of these specialized skills by bringing them to someone who knows what they are doing.

An expert in WordPress, web design, or even social media can take a fraction of the time to either design a website from scratch or make the changes that you need each week. This saves you, as the small business owner, both time and money.

Save Time By Outsourcing Repetitive Tasks

As a small business owner, there is no doubt that you have a lot on your plate. You may find that you are overwhelmed with some of the day to day tasks of your business, or that you let some marketing, blogging or copywriting tasks fall by the wayside. Again, this is where outsourcing comes in.

There are both freelancers and other small businesses dedicated to taking on the repetitive tasks that you, as a small business owner, may not have time for.

More often than not, you’ll find that others can complete these tasks for less than the amount of money you are able to make by freeing up your time for other, more customer-focused tasks.

Think through the tasks you have ahead this week, and then think again.

Getting Meta: A Brief Blog Post on Blog Posts

What could be more fun than writing a blog post about blog posts? It’s what we’re here for – to help you become more successful as a small business owner. With the Internet in play, blog posts are where it’s at, as they say.

There’s no question about it: blogs still rule when it comes to search engine optimization for your small business website.

The thing is, no matter the size of your business, you always need leads. Whether you are an accountant or a 24-hour diner, an effective business turns leads into customers. In the Internet age, many leads are born from engaging online content. 

This is where your business blog comes in.

In a phrase, a small business blog acts as a sign post for potential customers. It tells them who you are, what you’re about, and what you have to offer them. It also helps leads find you in the first place. Including a blog as part of your small business website does at least three things for your company:

1)    A blog with high quality content can drive more website traffic.

2)    A blog with high quality and relevant keywords can put you higher on the Google results.

3)    An informative and engaging blog can make your company a leader in your industry.

More than anything, a business blog works to drive more traffic to your website. Most people find their information online. By creating a blog, you create a resource for people to find. From there, they can get connected to your service page, products, and more.

Related to this, posting relevant content with honed long-tail keywords can figuratively put your small business on the map. The more relevant keywords you have on your website, the higher the website will be ranked. The best way to include long-tail keywords on your website isn’t by stuffing product descriptions, but instead by putting out helpful and informative content – in the form of a blog.

Most of your website is dedicated to showing potential customers who you are and what you have to offer. This often takes the form of product descriptions, menus, photos, employee pages – even an “About Us” page.

But as a small business, you also want to highlight why people should care about your company. Why should they trust you? Why are you the best option for them? This is precisely where your business blog becomes helpful.

By creating engaging content that also helps a lead get their specific question answered, you have gotten that much closer to converting a lead into a customer. This is how your small business blog can help you become an industry leader.

So there you have it  – the three major reasons why blogs are an important part of your marketing strategy as a small business. Of course, these are not the only marketing strategies that you should put into play as a small business.

But creating a high quality, engaging, and helpful small business blog will undoubtedly bring you more customers. And isn’t that the whole point? 

The Magic of a Call to Action Button

Today we want to discuss something that often goes overlooked, especially by small businesses: including an effective Call to Action button on your business website.

Simply put, having a call to action on your website is a crucial element of marketing your small business. Even if word of mouth remains the most effective approach to marketing for small businesses, a call to action in your web presence will go a long way toward bringing in new customers.

People respond to a clear and accessible call to action. It really is that simple. Instead of making people go through the steps of emailing you directly or filling out a ‘Contact Us’ page, a call to action button allows you to hone in on why a visitor is really on your website.

There is a great deal of information on what an effective call to action looks like, as well as what a well-designed call to action button should include. To cover the basics, we address the three following questions:

  • What is a call to action button?
  • Why is a call to action button so important?
  • What should a call to action button look like?

What is a Call to Action Button?

In marketing, a call to action is a specific instruction to the target audience in an effort to provoke an immediate positive response. Translation: a call to action asks visitors to become customers.

“There’s no such thing as a successful marketing campaign unless there is a successful CTA. Conversions, revenue, business and profit – they all depend on the mighty call to action.”

~ Jeremy Smith, MarketingLand

A successful call to action looks different for every business and every industry. For a catering company, it could be as simple as downloading a sample menu. For online sales, the call to action can be to create an online account. The beauty of a call to action is that you can tailor it to your small business.

Why is a Call to Action Button Important?

Without a call to action, visitors to your business or to your website have no reason to follow up with the information that you present them. You can give potential customers all of the benefits of your business, but unless you ask them to take action then they are much more likely to just walk away.

A call to action button on your business website acts as a digital means of ‘closing’ the deal.

Ultimately, a call to action button is an important element of any small business website because it improves conversion rates. This brings in more customers or clients to your business.

What Should a Call to Action Button Look Like?

There are many different examples of what an effective call to action looks like. The copy included in your business’ call to action depends entirely on what you are trying to get your target audience to do. However, all effective call to action buttons have at least the following elements in common:

  • CTAs are simple and concise – one phrase to include on the button.
  • CTAs include action words – ‘get’, ‘download’, ‘sign up’, ‘open’, ‘try’, etc.
  • CTAs use urgent words – ‘now’, ‘limited’, ‘today’, etc.
  • CTAs speak in the first person – “Start my free trial” instead of “Start your free trial”
  • CTAs are hard to miss – the most effective buttons are the center of attention, using bright colors and bold themes to draw a visitor’s attention

First Impressions Are Everything: 3 Reasons to Have a High Quality and Updated Website

If humans have short attention spans, this fact is only compounded in the online world. This is why it is so important to make a good first impression on your customers with a high quality, updated website.

The time it takes a potential customer to form an impression of your company may be shorter than you think.

“It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve perused your company’s website. And it takes just another 2.6 seconds for that viewer’s eyes to concentrate in a way that reinforces that first impression. Given that tight timeframe, making a good first impression should be among your first orders of business.”

~Mikal E. Belicove, Entrepreneur Magazine

In other words, what a potential customer sees when they first land on your company’s website will go a long way toward determining whether or not they will become a customer.

So what can you do to ensure that your website is engaging enough to convert leads?

According to a study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, there are seven major areas of interest on a website:

  • Your company’s logo: This really is the first impression, especially since it is included in the header of the website.
  • Navigation menus: Users get a quick breakdown of the important content on your website.
  • Search box: It may seem mundane, but this captures a user’s attention and allows them to quickly find what they are looking for.
  • Social media links: People spend most of their online time on social media, rather than on actual websites. It makes sense that they would look for an opportunity to engage both with your company and with other customers.
  • Primary image: This sets the tone for the website and for your brand.
  • Written content: Because users’ attention spans are typically short, keep this content snappy and to the point. But make sure it gets across what your company is all about!
  • Website footer: This is where you can include additional menus, social media links, contact information, and even a snappy slogan.

Of course, these are not the only areas of a website that you need to focus on. However, ensuring that you have each of these elements – and that they are up-to-date – will help your website stand out from the crowd.

“If it’s been a while since you last looked at your own website, take the time now to identify the top three things you want visitors to do as a result of visiting your site. Write these items down, followed by scheduling a meeting with your web team to review the current site. You may be surprised by what you see.”

~ Mikal E. Belicove, Entrepreneur Magazine

Creating and keeping up a quality website for your small business does take work, but it does not have to be overwhelming. More than that, there is no question that it is worth the effort.

Demystifying WordPress Management for Small Business Owners

There is no question that having a website is a necessary part of owning and running a small business these days. The idea of starting and updating a website can seem intimidating for many small business owners. After all, cake decorators, accountants and photographers should not have to know about web design. Thankfully, there are just a few keys to demystifying WordPress management for small business owners.

Step One: Understand The Benefits of Using WordPress for Your Small Business

Building and maintaining a website for your small business does not have to be overwhelming, mostly thanks to the near ubiquitous nature of WordPress. WordPress powers at least a quarter of all websites around the world: a total of just below 75 million sites. This is not for no reason. The list of benefits of using WordPress for a small business is long, but some of the major benefits include:

  • Create a customized domain name for your business, making it easy for customers to find and remember you.
  • Customize the design and the theme of your website, matching it to your industry and your vision for the small business.
  • Integrate Google Analytics, which can help you track who is visiting your website, how they are finding you, and how to best market to your target audience.
  • Take advantage of built in search engine optimization tools, making your website more competitive and your small business more accessible to those searching online.
  • Easily include videos, images and other media on your website, without a limit to online storage space.
  • Get email and live chat support either from WordPress itself or from the web management company that you work with.

Step Two: Know What You Are Looking for in Your Small Business Website

Of course, the key to a successful small business website is to customize the website to the business, rather than the other way around. As you get started toward WordPress management as a small business owner, it is important o know exactly what you are looking for in a website.

Do you want to recruit new customers through lead generation, or are you looking for a simple informational site? Will you need updates often, or will it remain static? Answering questions like these can put you on the right track toward understanding what WordPress management will look like for your small business. From there, you start either building or expanding on your website depending on your needs, your vision and your ability.

Step Three: Get the Help That You Need to Manage Your Small Business Website

The reason WordPress websites can seem overwhelming for small business owners is simple: most people do not know how to design or update websites. And that is just fine. Every person has his or her specialty, and unless your small business has to do with Internet technologies you most likely have never worked with web design before. This is where the outside help comes in.

Once you know what you want to do with your website, you can reach out to professionals who know what they are doing with website design and WordPress management. This last step is simple enough: all you have to do is create a list of requirements and provide timely updates. In turn, the professional company can help make the technical changes necessary for the website. This frees up your time and energy to actually run your business, and completely demystifies WordPress management for small business owners.

What Should You Include on Your Personal Website?

These days, investing in a personal website can go a long way toward setting yourself apart from your competition. Whether you are a photographer or a freelance writer, a professional looking website is essential to drawing in potential clients and showing them that you are well established in your industry.

If you are looking to establish a personal website, it is important to know what you should include on the website (and what you should not include, for that matter). While a well made website will help you attract clients, a poorly designed and executed website will most likely turn people away from your services. Make sure you have everything that you need on the website will this list of five recommendations.

Include a Written Form of Your Elevator Pitch

If you are a freelancer, you already know what an elevator pitch is: a thirty-second description of who you are, what you do, and what your vision is. Think of your personal website as the first impression that potential clients will have. With this in mind, write up short bio that highlights who you are as a person and what you do professionally. Keep it short, to the point and engaging. While introducing yourself is probably the most important part of your personal website, it is not necessary (or recommended) to include your entire life story on the WordPress site. You can leave that for another time.

Include Samples of Your Work 

An personal website can essentially act as an online portfolio. Rather than using third party freelancer sites, you can showcase your creative work on your own website. This will make you stand out from the crowd when clients come calling. While you should not include every single piece of work you have ever completed, you should curate a portfolio that highlights the very best of what you do. This is a crucial element of a personal website for everyone from photographers to copyeditors.

Include a Professional Blog Relevant to Your Industry

This aspect of a personal WordPress site will require a little more work, but it will absolutely be worth it. The idea is to regularly update your personal website with blog posts that are relevant to what you do within your industry. You should update this blog at least once a month, though once or twice a week is better. Keeping a professional blog will show clients that you are engaged and up-to-date with your industry.

Include Testimonials From People You Have Worked With

This element of a personal website may seem like a no brainer, but it is important to mention nonetheless. Besides your portfolio, including testimonials from past clients is one of the only ways that future clients will know the quality of your work, your communication and your commitment. If you don’t have any written reviews, send out a few emails to clients asking for testimonials that you can put up on your website. A handful of positive testimonials will go a long way toward rounding out your personal website and setting you up for success.

4 Things Every Small Business Needs on Their Website

With the Internet such an integral part of business today, it is important to understand what elements every small business needs on their website. Having an effective web presence can either make or break a small business. Since potential customers increasingly rely on the information they find online, small business owners should be sure that they put their best foot forward when it comes to building and maintaining a website.

#1: Content Optimized for Search Engines

The fact is that the vast majority of Internet traffic comes from search engines. This means that most people coming to a small business website will do so through Google or another search engine. Because of this, every small business website needs to include optimized content. Optimized content is tailored so that search engines like Google are more likely to index it on the search results page. Some of the most best practices for optimized content includes:

  • Regularly publishing blog posts with long-tail keywords
  • Including content pages with subheadings
  • Adding images and videos on landing pages
  • Tagging images with keywords
  • Including external links on blog posts

#2: A Call to Action

Having a good website can only go so far if it does not take the next step. The goal of any marketing effort – including an effective website – is to turn leads into customers. The best way to do that online is by presenting website visitors with a clear call to action. This can take many different forms depending on the type of small business. The key is to make this step as easy for the visitor as possible. Some of the most common and effective calls to action include:

  • Signing up for an email newsletter
  • Downloading a free e-book about the industry
  • Contacting a sales representative about the small business’ services
  • Making an online purchase or visiting a physical location
  • Sharing the website or content through social media

#3: Testimonials and Reviews

In many cases, a visitor to a small business website may not know much about the small business at all. Because of this, every small business needs to include an element that makes newcomers feel more comfortable with the business. Including a testimonial page can go a long way toward building trust with potential customers. Better yet, small businesses can feature tailored testimonials on each element of their website to show the various ways they stand out.

#4: An Easy Way to Reach Out

The final element that every small business needs on their website is easy access to a contact page. It may seem relatively obvious, but many small businesses miss out on the opportunity to connect with their potential customers. A Contact Us page should be clearly displayed on the main menu, as well as at the bottom of each page. The page should be more than just an email address or phone number. Every Contact Us page should include a contact form, a physical address, an email address, at least two phone numbers, and even a Google map plug-in for local businesses.