EduCyber offers something called managed web hosting but we have a unique way of handling it. Whereas other firms offering this service automate, automate, automate; we take the time to look at your site. We log in and make sure that your plugins are up-to-date.
We update plugins and core files to make sure your site is secure and has the latest features available. That alone is a huge comfort for our clients. We recently acquired a new hosting client who has a WordPress site and was scared to update the plugins in case something broke. We did the updates for him and verified that everything was working. We even discovered several plugins that weren’t being used. By uninstalling them we sped up the site and made it more efficient.
We provide several layers of security. Our web servers have a firewall that stops most of those with nefarious intent. For our WordPress customers we use a special plugin that stops hackers who try to get to the backend by guessing passwords for common user names like “admin”. With these and other tools not one of our sites has been hacked in years. We continue to follow and implement best practices when it comes to security to keep our customers sites up and secure.
We implement analytics. The tool of choice for several years has been Google Analytics. We make sure each site has analytics installed and functions. Then we even go through site performance every six months to help you understand what is happening on your site so you can make informed decisions about changes or proposed changes to your site.
We actively look for ways to help your site perform better. Since page speed is one of the things search engines look for, we make sure you are aware of what needs to be done to improve the speed or we will even go in and do it for you.
Since our tag line is “We partner with our customers to engage their visitors and convert them into clients” we work to make that partnering bit real. We want you to succeed. We do more than want though. We take concrete steps for you to help your site and your business be better with our managed web hosting service.
If you are already an EduCyber managed web hosting customer, who should you tell about us? If you are not yet a customer, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 ext 4 and we’ll get the process started.
We design web sites. We do this all day long, every day. One of my primary roles is working with the client to establish the goal and the look. Frequently the client comes to us with “I want these features on the site and I want this element and this element”. As we talk through it though, it turns out that the features they want have nothing to do with their business goals. So my question is “What makes a good website good?”
The single most important aspect of web design is focus. We need to be able to focus the web visitor on something. EduCyber has chosen to focus that attention on the call to action. By first creating a focus – many web sites don’t really have a focus – and then having that focus be on the call to action, we help web visitors determine whether the site provides what they want.
We’ve all heard that we only have a second or two to capture people’s attention. Why waste that time showing them something unrelated to you or your business? Often the home page call to action is simply an invitation to click deeper into the site. A realtor might feature one prominent link for buyers and another for sellers. An insurance company might feature one link for homeowners, another for auto and a third for life insurance. Whatever the call to action is, the design should focus on that.
The second most important aspect of web design is depth. In this case, I’m speaking of visual depth. This makes the web site more visually engaging and is more likely therefore to pull in the visitors attention. Providing depth in a site can be accomplished in a variety of ways from drop shadows to juxtaposition of elements to arrangement of lines and objects.
Often depth is one of those intangibles that make a visitor say “I like this site” if it has depth or “This site just doesn’t work” if depth is lacking.
There are many facets to good web site design but getting these two points right will set you on the path to a good web site that is good for business.
People often ask me why is it so important to use a blogging software like WordPress. I try to explain the intricacies of RSS technology to them – not so really simple after all – at least not to some folks. But now I have a really simple demonstration.
On Monday, September 13th I posted a blog on Setting Rules for Social Networking. To be very precise, I posted it at 2:41 Mountain Time. Nine minutes later I received a Google alert telling me that “Brian DeLaet” had once again been found. . . you guessed it , from my blog that had just been posted.
That says, more eloquently than I can, why you want to leverage technology. And, I’ll put in a plug for our blog tool of choice: WordPress. WordPress is so nice because it is easy to install (most web hosts have an automated installer), is easy to update (usually just a one click update process) and had hundreds of plugins that help you do whatever you might want to do. The plugins themselves are easy even for beginners to get a handle on.
So why would a company want to blog? Let’s see . . . more people coming to visit your web site? More web site visitors inquiring about your services or products? More inquiries turning into sales?
With the speed at which information is made available, you can monitor the news and blog about what is happening as it happens. If you have a tree removal service, for example, you could blog about how important it is for those in mountain communities to leave sufficient space around their homes in case of fires like the Fourmile Canyon fire or Reservoir Road fire. This typically translates into a lot more traffic on your web site and to more tree trimming jobs.
Need help setting up a blog or hosting your blog? We can help. Call us at 303 268-2245.
Would you build the foundation for your house and then begin to ponder what rooms you should put in the house and where the walls should go?
Of course not.
Yet when it comes to building a web site this is precisely the model that most businesses follow. First they build the site and they begin to think about Internet marketing. “What should we try to accomplish?” “Should we do a search campaign?” “What should the call to action be on this page?” All of these questions are best answered BEFORE you design your site.
You don’t want to have brick walls if you’re planning on stucco. Before you start you need to determine what your goals are for your site. These can be marketing goals – “We want to generate 25 new leads a month through the site” or they can be customer-relationship goals “We want customers to be able to download their portfolio without needing to call us” or a myriad of others. The important thing is to understand the goals as you begin to design the site.
Recently I met with a business owner who thought she had nearly completed her complex membership site. She wanted my help with “the last little piece” of managing the logins. What she had, in fact, was very much like the old western movie sets. Walk down main street and you think you’re really in the old west. Then you open a door to look inside and instead you just see the desert stretching off into the distance.
Facade – What’s behind your web site?
She had cobbled together a few pieces that really looked enticing but there was no backend to manage the processes that she wanted. While that is an extreme case of not having a firm foundation, we see again and again how the design and development of a site do not support the goals of the site owner.
Once you have your goals established, you can then envision how they will be attained through the site and this will lead to a site that actually helps your business grow.
Some of you will think this is some sort of Dickensian entreaty to eliminate “the surplus population”. But it isn’t.
I’m talking about orphaned web pages. A web page gets orphaned in much the same way a human does. It’s parent dies or goes away.
Let me give an anecdote to explain both how it happens and why its bad. I recently met a very well known financial advisor in the Denver area. We arranged to meet at one of my favorite restaurants for some adult beverages. I got the time wrong and showed up a half an hour early.
So I googled his name so I could give him a call. The first page that came up was from his web site. So, having a few minutes, I started clicking around and thought to myself “This guy needs our service – his web site is WAAAY out of date.”
Once he arrived, I showed him the page and he said “That’s from our old site.” When I clicked on the Home link I could see the new site but all of the old site was still out there and still active. All of these pages were orphaned. They weren’t really supposed to be there.
The obvious solution to this problem is to delete the pages. Right?
Ahh, you were paying attention, good for you. The number 1 Google Ranking for his name was the orphaned page. Delete that and you lose visibility.
There are two steps that should be taken to make sure you get rid of orphaned pages but don’t lose the Search Engine Optimization power that page or those pages have attained.
- Create a 301 redirect so that links to the old page will be forwarded to the new page or the appropriate replacement for the old page. There are different ways to implement a 301 redirect. The best way is to edit the .htaccess file but many web control panels will let you accomplish this through a control panel.
- Then it is safe to delete the old page.
In case it’s still not clear, let me give you one more example. We recently redesigned the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County web site. Before the redesign there was a Google link to the Youth Leadership Jefferson County that was http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc.asp. After the redesign, that page no longer exists but if you try to visit that page, you end up at http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc-asp/ which is the correct link.
I just discovered an orphan on our own web site today. That now has a proper 301 redirect so folks don’t get lost or confused. Need help with this? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.
We often have people come to us looking for a web site and they start off with, “Here’s the content and here’s the logo.” That would be like starting off your home construction with interior design and where the furniture is going to be.
To design a good web site, you need to start with a good foundation. What is your goal? Be SPECIFIC. Being specific means going much deeper than “I want more business.” Being specific means thinking about how many new customers you’d like / can handle each week or month or quarter. Being specific means thinking about how your web site goals fit in with your overall marketing goals.
By being specific in your goal setting, you can then begin to build your foundation. If your specific goal is to get 15 calls a week via your web site (which you will then turn at least one into a customer) then you can look at your site plans and answer the very specific question, “What am I doing to entice or encourage the visitor to give me a call?”
There are many many ways to accomplish this but with that question in mind, you can begin to craft the site or a particular page in such a way that you’re helping the visitor to reach the conclusion that they should indeed give you a call. And don’t forget the obvious. The same week we put our phone number in the banner of our site, I closed a deal where the customer expressed thanks that we were so easy to get in touch with by having the number at the top.
But having your number at the top of the page is NOT a call to action. A call to action would be much more like “Have a pressing tax question? Call one of our advisors for a free 15 minute consultation” or “Call to schedule your consultation and we’ll give you a free _______ when you come in.” The blank could be a blender, USB drive, book, domain name or any other appropriate gift for your business.
So even if you’re not a web designer, you can still build a better web site.
Having good fresh content for your site is vital for keeping people coming back to your site and to make your site relevant. Google gets this pretty well. So know they have Google Web Elements. Essentially web elements lets you take different content from Google and display it on your site.
Since Google excels at search, I decided to see how difficult it would be to integrate Web Elements into a page at Educyber.com. Our Social Media Marketing Page hasn’t been updated in more than a month so at the Web Elements home page I clicked on News. Choose the size I wanted typed in Social Media in the Create one field, copied the code, pasted it into www.educyber.com/web/educyber-social-media-marketing.php, uploaded it and “Ta Dah” I was done. (Go ahead and check it out – scroll to the bottom of the page)
Now I don’t really like this kind of integration because if anyone clicks the link that Google displays, they go away from my site and off to someone else’s. That can’t be good for business, can it?
But there are some useful features that can work for your site. For example, you can embed a Google Calendar onto your site. So, say for example you hold regular events, meetings or seminars. You can create a Google Calendar, make it public and then pull your calendar onto whichever page(s) on your site you want.
Or if you have a powerpoint presentation that would be beneficial to share with your web visitors, choose Presentations, upload your presentation (or link to someone else’s), then copy the code and paste into your web page – Presto! You have a web presentation.
All in all, Web Elements is a useful application – one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” kind of tools that can help you engage your web visitors.
Once you have established your site on the Internet and have traffic coming to your site, what do you do? Your site must be usable.
First question to ask yourself: What do I want people to do? Put another way, the question can be “What are the expected outcomes?” It isn’t always “more sales” but that might be your answer. It might also be more newsletter subscribers or perhaps more blog comments or even more requests for information.
Once you have determined the desired outcome, you can begin to plan around it. Each page should have one desired outcome for maximum usability. The next step is then to determine how all the pages fit together into one cohesive site. For example, if you are a realtor selling homes, you probably want to move one group of people towards the buyer’s information pages and another group of people to the seller’s information. Once a prospective home seller is in the right section (the expected outcome of the home page was to move buyers to buyers’ info and sellers to sellers’ info) the goal of one page might be to request an evaluation of the home’s value. Another page might be intentioned to show ranges of prices for homes in an area and then ask them to call for a detailed analysis.
The next step, the one that is often skipped, is to test it. If you are indeed a realtor, get some sellers to go through your site while you watch. Find out if they can indeed accomplish what you want them to. Then get a buyer to go through your site. Give them a specific task to accomplish. See if they can do it. If the testing has good results, pat yourself on the back and launch. If the results aren’t so good, you probably need to go back and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you get the desired results.
Just because you “hit it” with your site and get the results you want, don’t stop looking at how you can make it even better.
I’ve always followed the concept of what gets measured is what gets done. I also follow John C. Maxwell’s leadership newsletter and this last newsletter included this quote from Albert Einstein: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
So what’s my point? The beauty of the Internet is that it is like one huge database. The problem with the Internet is that it is like one huge database. A while back I was talking with a potential client about what to measure with the statistics on his web site. He wanted to measure everything. While possible, that isn’t practical. Of what value is there in tracking, for example, how many 206 error codes you get on your site? Anybody out there know what a 206 error is? Those of you who just said yes are web techs. But for a business owner, that information isn’t a useful metric to determine the success of the site or the business.
What statistics are useful? We have five key stats we follow for our customers but what statistics are useful depends on what your goal is. Rarely do I find a customer whose goal is really to be ranked number one for a key word or key phrase. What they really want is to get more customers for their business and see having a high ranking for their key phrases as one of the means towards reaching that goal. So if you try to measure everything, you’ll likely just end up confused. Here are the five web site statistics that we recommend tracking:
- Number of Visits
- Pages Visited (in order of number of visits)
- Search Engine Referrals
- Key Phrases Searched For
Of course, if you need assistance understanding these, EduCyber’s Search-Friendly Hosting is probably just the thing for you.
No, this is not about the Denver Nuggets (though they’re looking good this year). One of the nicest things about following blogs and social media is the way in which you can find useful nuggets of information. Starting out my year I have been catching up on some tweets (not using Twitter yet? – you should check it out) and some blogs and I came across these useful nuggets just today:
- A friend sent me a link to 56 of the best tips for growing a small business on a budget. I thought “56”? I don’t have time for 56! But I opened the list and scanned down it and number 12 caught my eye. Basically he says you can either increase number of clients, increase average sale price or increase number of purchases per client. And most people spend all their time on the first which often has the smallest impact on your bottom line. So look at how you can increase the average sale price or increase the number of purchases per client.
- I’ve been following Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, for quite awhile now. Joan is the queen of helping people get noticed by the media. Again, not everything that comes from her pen or keyboard relates directly to me but I do get great ideas on how I can help my clients get noticed. As an Internet marketing firm, we promote our clients on the Internet and Joan Stewart excels at using tools like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to targeted audiences such as actual reporters. One recent post was about Lynn Terry who wrote a report on how to sell information products without a web site. We of course don’t recommend that – we can build the site for you – but it was thought provoking anyway.
So is surfing the net a mindless endeavor or a business-building activity? I say it’s great for business if you do it with a purpose.