Good morning, internet fans, it’s Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, January 7th, 2016, Happy New Year’s, this is the first episode of 2016 for Internet Marketing Thursday. And because it is Thursday, I have Virginie Dorn, the CEO of Business Website Center. Good morning and Happy New Year’s, Virginie.
Virginie Dorn: Happy New Year to you, too.
VD: Yes. How was 2015 for you?
RP: It was very good. It was a great year, lotta strong growth, lotta great content also, I think, which is really valuable. We were just looking at the analytics, and all of the top shows that we’ve done are actually from the Internet Marketing Thursday, and a lot of them have to do with website designs. So people are really interested in website design, which kind of ties into what we’re gong to be talking about today, and that is, since everybody is making their 2016 New Year’s resolutions, I know you have some that you’re making for yourself. As a business owner, what are some of the resolutions you should be making for your business, and because the show is about internet marketing, we’re gong to talk about websites, and some different resolutions that you should be making for your website in 2016.
VD: Yes, indeed. You should make those resolution. They’ll be easy as you will see over the next 15 minutes. Now, easy doesn’t mean it’s simple. It’s simple but not easy, just like dieting and exercising. So it’s just one, two, three, you need to get it down, you need to take your website seriously, that’s my first and foremost recommendation. So people build a site, they put it on the shelf and then they don’t look at it twice. They don’t realize how important it is to the image of a company, and what kind of good or bad it can do to their business if they don’t take it seriously.
RP: Yeah, definitely, and I think the old adage that a website was just a brochure is like several years out of date now. So it really needs to be… It needs to represent who you are as a person, and who your business is through your website.
VD: Correct. So, that is the resolution number one, is really take a clean fresh look at your site design and its functionality, and make sure it’s up to par. So there is different things to look at. So, for instance, that responsive, we’ve talked about it many times as it worked well on smartphones and tablet, but does it work well on newer phones that are being released almost every month? So you have to keep up with that. But most importantly, how does it look visually to your prospective customers? If it has been three years or more since you’ve redesigned your website, you do want to stop and take an hour to look at it with a really genuine look. I know it’s your site, you’re used to it, maybe have people look at it as well. Does it represent the company the way you want it to be represented? And just remember, again, this is your storefront on the internet of your business 24/7. So just like if you have a brick-and-mortar store, you will make sure it’s clean, and there will be swipe… Take care of the floor and the windows; your website is the same. And on the internet, you don’t have a second chance. If you don’t make that right great first impression, people are going to move on to another website and your competitor.
RP: Yeah. And the other thing is, technology is moving so fast. Every year, it moves a little bit faster, and so it used to be, you can probably go maybe five years or so without updating a website, because the design and what we’re able to do on the internet was limited. Today, there’s just so many different things that you can do that was what was once new just a couple years ago is now starting to look out of date and out of style. And if people are trying to make a decision, if you’re reputable, and if you’re somebody they want to do business with, the last thing you want to do is give them any type of red flags that will prevent them from making that decision. And I think as a business owner, the other thing you talked about is that you see your website everyday, you understand how it’s supposed to act, but it’s how it’s really reacting with the end user that didn’t build it out, that didn’t put the thought process, “Oh, well, people will click here. Oh, they’ll do this,” really can be dramatically different, and that’s where something like putting a heat map on your website can make a big difference to actually see how people are clicking on your website.
RP: So getting that outside perspective and being able to be open-minded enough to hear what people have to say about your website, I think, is really important.
VD: I like that, to be open-minded and to hear what your visitors are telling you. And the heat map is a great way to assess if people are actually using the website. Truly, you want the website to follow your customers to where you want them to go onto your site. Maybe it’s a call to action like a contact form, maybe it’s a purchase page if you have the e-commerce website. You have to funnel them, you have to have call to action. So again, you look at the visual, you look to make sure there are call to actions, are they strong enough and assertive? Are they in the right position? Is everything working properly? And also, not so long ago, we did the year end checklist. Go back to it, just verify it and everything is working like it should be. Make your website a very strong marketing tool for your company.
VD: You’ve invested time and money in it. Don’t just let it sit there on the internet all by itself, otherwise, again, it can have a negative impact. And sometimes the design changes, then you need to make to give it that fresher look, are very subtle, sometimes it’s just changing the color tone or the font or the width of the site. Very affordable if you have a good webmaster, but worth the investment and again, you taking the time to look at it.
RP: Yeah, the other thing we should talk about is that when a website sits there, it’s becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks. I think that you were saying that, what was it? 2014, it was 9 million websites were hacked?
VD: That’s 2014. The estimate now for 2015 is about double that number. So there was 9 million infected in ’14, imagine if there are 18 million in ’15. It’s rampant. So if you have been hacked, don’t feel too bad, you’re not the only one, you’re there with millions of other site owners. It does happen just like car accidents happen every second in the US, same thing for websites. So the second resolution is to truly protect your website.
VD: First and foremost, I beg everybody out there, have some kind of backup service in place. That means when frequently, your website and your database is backed up by someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s either your hosting provider or your webmaster or someone else. But back it up and also, safely store it somewhere. So don’t just save it onto your server because if your server is compromised, you might lose your backup as well. So there’s lots of different ways to do that. And actually, I mentioned to you earlier before the show. GoDaddy, it’s the biggest hosting provider in the world, have just released site backup and restore. It’s couple of dollars a month and they will provide that service to you if you’re on one of their newer server. It’s fantastic, we’re signing up all of our clients. We don’t have to do the backups anymore. We’re thrilled. But again, it can save you.
VD: Now if you have an e-commerce website, an active membership website or a place where people register for classes, you want to do those backups more frequently than just once a month. If you’re a dentist, once a month is plenty. But if you have people registering, making changes and purchases every single day, you might want to consider having your database backed up daily.
RP: Yeah. And you’ve dealt with a number of clients, I’ve dealt with a number of clients that have not had backups in place or thought they had backups, but found out that the people they were using or the service they were providing wasn’t complete. This is definitely one of those areas if you rely on your website, if it’s a core part of your business, you definitely want to make sure that you have a solid plan in place. And what was the one you said, GoDaddy? It was, like, a couple of bucks a day or a month?
VD: Correct. It’s site backup and restore. You can call them to brand your product. It’s fantastic. Again, we’re signing up every single person that we manage site for, and all the clients as well. But in addition to the backup services, so that protects you. In case there’s a problem, you can get back on your feet very quickly without any loss of your investment in the website design. The second thing is SiteLock or… It’s actually the number one in the industry. It’s a program you install on your server, then scans routinely your website. There are different levels, different plans. I recommend the premium. It’s may be 80 bucks a year, very affordable again. If you can’t afford $80 a year to protect your website, maybe you don’t need the website. I’m just saying. But it’s called SiteLock. Most hosting providers, you can call them directly, they will install it for you. It’s super easy.
VD: If you have been hacked in the past, you will most likely be hacked again. It is a fact. So in that case, you might want to consider SiteLock firewall product. And as far as I understand, you can only buy directly from SiteLock. So you go to sitelock.com, you either e-mail them or get the phone numbers. It’s a little bit more. You have to pay monthly and they do all the work for you. And this is the ultimate protection for your website, will be the firewall.
RP: And that would be especially if you are an e-commerce or again, you have a membership site where people are active on there, that is a core part of your business is your website, it’s not just a brochure, then that’s when you want to look at that type of level. Because with SiteLock, their goal is to prevent people from hacking your website, so it never goes down in the first place.
VD: Correct. Then there are many other things that you can do. You can add encryption and more things to your website by your webmaster. Those are not foolproof, but still worth the investment. But SiteLock and the backup services, those are the two minimum you should have in 2016.
RP: Yeah, and I love the fact that you said those are the two minimums that you should have in 2016. The reality is this is becoming a prevalent problem and if you’re not gong to deal with it today, you will deal with it at some point. I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but I had a friend that told me it’s like 30,000 sites a day are being hacked. That’s what it takes to get to that 18 million or so at the end of the year. So 30,000 sites a day, and those numbers are increasing. If it doubled from 2014 to 2015, who knows what’s gong to happen in 2016? So security really should be at the forefront of everybody’s minds these days.
VD: Yes, and we’ll be doing a webinar just on the website security next week ’cause this has been a question asked from our team very often in the last two weeks especially.
RP: Alright, perfect. We got about three minutes left and we have a third item and that is, you still want to be found.
VD: Yes. What’s the point if you have a beautiful website and nobody can find it? Now, for some people, they don’t care, then you can skip the end of the webinar. But for those of you that want to be found online by prospective customers that know nothing about you it is important that you’re found online. So you have to set aside a budget, just like you do a marketing budget for printed material, like brochures and business cards or trade shows or Chamber of Commerce advance, all those things you spend money on marketing. Online marketing is as important, if not more in spending that precious budget. So if you have any questions, Ryan Perry’s the man, he knows all about internet marketing. But definitely, that would be your third resolution. Be found online and set aside a budget, and make sense to your company and support your business goals.
RP: Yeah. And you know, the great thing about internet marketing is that just knowing a couple of tips and tricks, regardless of what your budget is, even if you don’t have a budget and all you can invest is your own personal time, there are so many tools out there that make it really easy to create visibility, it just takes a little bit of energy. And then, obviously people that do have a budget, what I like to do is we add layers. If you don’t have a budget these are the things I recommend that you do. If you have a small budget, let’s add a couple of layers. And as you grow your business and your budget grows then we just keep on adding different layers. And that’s one of the really cool things about internet marketing, and it’s also one of the most frustrating things about internet marketing ’cause you’ve got 5,000 different options to choose from but you gotta choose which one’s best for you, your audience, and your targeted brand.
VD: Yes. So talk to an expert before you spend crazy amount of dollars in internet marketing. Talk to someone like Ryan or myself. We can tell you what makes sense for your business.
RP: Alright, perfect. Well, that is “2016 Resolutions for Your Website”. And I love that you started out with number one, take your website seriously. Hopefully, everybody would do that. Number two, security. Security is gong to be very, very important. Like Virginie said, we’re gong to do one or two shows, depending on the content, next week and the following week because security’s that important. And then also, you gotta keep at it. The internet is constantly changing, and you need to keep up with where those changes are. Social media’s one of those big ones. Just because some new social media site comes out doesn’t mean you have to be a part of it. You just need to know which ones you should be a part of. But that’s it for today’s show on your website resolutions. Virginie, I appreciate all the time and energy and effort that you’ve put into the show. It’s been a year and a half I think now that we’ve been doing this.
VD: I think almost two years, I’ll have to look.
RP: Yeah. It’s been a while, but we love sharing the information that we have and are looking forward to continuing the episode through 2016 and beyond. So that’s it for today’s show. Virginie, again, thank you very much. We will see you next week when we’re gong to be talking about security in your website.
VD: Happy New Year.
RP: Alright, take care. Happy New Year everybody.