Friday, November 17, 2017 by Shayla Price
Why Domain Privacy Is ImportantMaintaining your privacy is harder today than it’s ever been. Keeping your personal information safe from strangers is a constant challenge, one you have to be vigilant about. If you own a website though, there’s a good chance your information is out there where anyone can find it – unless you’ve chosen to invest in domain privacy.
What is Domain Privacy?When you buy a domain name, part of the process is providing your contact information to the company you buy it from. They’re required to pass that information along to the ICANN WHOIS directory. This is so that there’s a clear record of who owns each website on the web. If something posted on a website breaks a law, there needs to be a way to track down the owner. While there are practical reasons for this directory to exist, there’s obviously a downside to it as well. Every website owner has the contact information they provide to their domain registration company plastered in a directory where everyone can see it. If you go through life trying to be careful who you provide your personal information to, you may be concerned to learn that just by starting a website that information is out there for anyone to see. While you’re required to provide your information when you buy the domain, it’s not required that the information be easily accessible on the wide web. You can remove your contact information from the WHOIS directory without running afoul of the law by using a domain privacy service. People who search for your domain in the directory will still see you listed as owner and see an email address they can use to contact you – but they won’t see any other contact information, and the email address will be a proxy one that makes it possible to reach you, but isn’t your actual email address.
3 Reasons Domain Privacy is Worth ItDomain privacy isn’t free. While the cost is fairly low ($14.95 a year with HostGator), if you have limited money to spend, you’ll have to consider if domain privacy is something that’s worth the cost to you. If you’re on the fence, here are three benefits that make the cost well worth it for many website owners.
1. Protect your personal information.How comfortable are you with the idea of random strangers knowing your address and phone number? Even if it’s a business address and phone number, rather than a personal one, that’s still probably where you spend a lot of your time each day. The possibility that anybody could figure out where to find you with a simple internet search is disconcerting for many people. In addition to the general discomfort you might feel, there’s the very real risk of identity theft. Every piece of information about you that becomes easily accessible to thieves puts you a little more at risk of identity theft. With high-level businesses showing up in the news for data breaches with increasing frequency, there’s only so much you can do to fully protect yourself, but every little step you can take to make your personal information harder to find can reduce your risk.
2. Reduce spam.We are all inundated with spam in so many areas of life. Phone calls from strange numbers. Emails from unknown sources shilling products you’d never buy. It seems hard to avoid it completely, but anytime your contact information goes out on the open web, spammers will find it. If your email address and phone number are easily accessible in a directory, you can count on more spam calls and emails because of it. Domain privacy offers you protection from spammers having one more place to find you.
3. Avoid scammers.If there’s anything worse than spammers, it’s scammers. Internet scams are common and it’s another area where the more people know about you, the more likely you are to be targeted. And the more information scammers have, the more convincing they can be. If they see your domain registration is about to expire, they can pose as your domain registration company and try to get you to pay them instead of your actual company. Or they could go the other way and attempt domain hijacking by posing as you to your domain registration company to try to convince them to hand over the keys to your domain. That last part is hard to pull off, since companies have put procedures into place to make domain hijacking very difficult, but having access to your personal information along with details about your domain registration makes pulling off these kinds of scams that much easier.
How to Get Domain PrivacyIf you’re ready to add one more level of privacy to your life and website, then investing in domain privacy is pretty simple. Check with your hosting company to see if they offer it as an add-on service. If you use HostGator, all you have to do is:
- Log into your Customer Portal.
- Click on the domain name you want to enable privacy for in order to open the Domain Overview section of the portal.
- Look for the word “Privacy.” You’ll see a red X next to it, indicating you haven’t bought it yet. Click on the word “Change” next to the X.
- Click on the option to select Private on the next page that comes up, and click “Save.”
It's Not Too Late! Prep Your E-Commerce Site for the Holidays With These 7 Marketing TipsFor online shop owners, this is the most important time of year. People spend a lot during November and December – over $650 billion last year, and that number’s expected to go up this year. As people look for gifts for loved ones and products to help them celebrate with their families, you want your products to be top of mind. To make the most of the biggest buying season of the year, it’s important to step up your marketing efforts. Over a third of consumers start their shopping before Thanksgiving, which means if you haven’t already developed and started implementing a holiday marketing strategy, you’re already behind. However, you still have time! There’s a lot you can do to raise awareness of your brand and increase sales this holiday season though. Here are a few last minute marketing ideas to help you reach more people this year and increase your holiday profits.
1. Offer generous promotions to your list.The easiest place to start is by contacting the customers and followers you already have. The people that have already shown an interest in your brand are those most likely to buy from you during the holidays, as long as they remember to consider you as an option. Send out emails now promoting the products you sell that make the best gifts. You can sweeten the deal and make your subscribers feel special by rewarding them with an exclusive deal only available to your list. A reminder to think about your products when picking out their gifts combined with a generous incentive can encourage them to make the move to buy.
2. Create a holiday gift guide.For a lot of people, buying gifts is stressful. It’s not easy to guess what your 14-year old niece likes or what your 85-year old granddad might appreciate. Businesses can help by identifying the products in your inventory that would make good gifts for different types of people. Create a holiday gift guide (or a few for different personas) that highlight the products you sell that make good gifts and who is most likely to like them. You’ll be providing value to your customers at the same time that you highlight your products for them to buy.
3. Restructure your site for easy navigation by gift categories.Temporarily redesign your website for gift givers. Think about the categories that would be useful for them – things like all gift items under $10, or options to browse by age categories. It’s reasonable to expect that a decent portion of your traffic in November and December will be from people looking for gifts, so make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for and make the decision to purchase items from you.
4. Make use of PPC to reach a broader audience.Ideally, you don’t just want to reach the people that already know about your business, you also want to find new customers interested in your products. Use pay-per-click advertising to promote your holiday offers and draw attention to the items you sell that people are most likely to consider for gifts. Many people looking for ideas will go straight to search engines, you can make sure your products are one of the first things they see.
5. Use retargeting to recapture researchers.Over two-thirds of consumers say they spend time researching products before they make the decision to buy – that’s even for products under $50. The percentage actually goes up to 85% of people for any products over $50. That means you may have people visiting your website, browsing your products, and then moving on without making a decision to buy right then – but not making an immediate decision doesn’t mean they’re not still interested. To help make sure those people don’t forget about the products they saw on your website, use retargeting technology to remind them about the products they viewed as they browse the web, and use personalization technology to provide a customized experience based on their past behavior when they do come back to your site.
6. Promote free, fast shipping.Shipping is one of the biggest pain points of online shopping and during the holiday season, concerns about gifts arriving on time makes it an even bigger one. While offering free shipping does cost you money, studies regularly show that the majority of people are more likely to spend money with a brand because of a free shipping offer (free returns are another big incentive). And a promise of free or affordable fast shipping will convince late shoppers who would otherwise worry they have to make their purchases in-store to get them in time to go ahead and buy from you. One way you can make the costs of free shipping more worth it for your customers is to offer it after they reach a certain spending threshold – so for instance, only those who spend over $30 get free shipping and it takes $50 to get the free 2-day shipping. That encourages bigger order sizes, which makes taking on the extra shipping costs less of a drain on your profits.
7. Extend your promotions past the end of the year.Most businesses put a lot of effort into their marketing leading up to the end of the year and then kind of drop it after that. But the days after the holidays are also prime shopping time as well. 65% of people say they’ll be doing holiday shopping into January. When you think about it, it makes sense. People receive money and gift cards they’re ready to spend, or receive items they decide to exchange. Keep up your marketing and promotions into January so you can reach those people ready to keep spending, and do so at a time that’s less competitive than November and December. Your sales at the beginning of the new year may be able to make up for that late start you got.
ConclusionThis is a stressful time of year for a lot of people. Scrambling to fit in various events, deal with holiday travel, and do all the holiday shopping on time can make people feel frazzled. Anything you can do to make things easier on them and help them find the gifts they need (and get them in time) can earn you both sales and loyalty.
20 Holiday Content Ideas for Web MarketersIf you haven’t heard any holiday music yet, expect a Christmas song to come wafting your way any moment now. The holiday season is officially upon us. While the holiday season means presents, meals, and festive decorations for most, for marketers it also means getting into gear for the biggest buying season of the year. A lot of that work will fall to more direct advertising channels like PPC and traditional advertising, but content marketers can put their holiday spirit to use by creating content around topics people are interested in and thinking about this time of year. Here are twenty ways to bring the holidays into your content marketing efforts this year (and hopefully drive some new sales for your business).
1. Holiday Gift GuideOne of the best places to start is with a content type that perfectly combines the content marketing goal of providing value to your audience while also highlighting your products at the same time. One of the biggest concerns many people have at this time of year is trying to figure out what gifts to buy for their loved ones. A gift guide supplies them with ideas. Consider creating several gift guides for different audiences. You could make one for grandma, another for dad, one of office friends, etc. You could even get cute with it like Modcloth does with categories like the Animal Lover and the Snuggle Bug.
2. A Roundup of Good CausesIn addition to spending money on gifts, people are often in a more giving spirit this time of year when it comes to good causes. You can help them by highlighting some good nonprofits to consider for their charitable donations this year. If possible, find a way to tie this back to your company or brand. If you run a local business, you could make a list of local causes and charities to include. If you run a pet store, you could focus on animal welfare charities. If there’s not a clear charitable cause related to your business, then think about the values you have as a business and start there. To make the post even more meaningful, consider offering to match donations your readers give to the charities highlighted or provide a portion of the profits for purchases they make to the charity of their choice.
3. Content About Your Own Company’s GivingPeople are in the spirit of giving this season, but in addition to their own contributions to worthy causes, they’re also more likely to appreciate knowing that a business they support is working to do good as well. This is a good opportunity to share the ways your company gives back to the community and those in need – which you already do, right? If not, this is a good time of year to get in the giving spirit yourself and look for ways to start doing so.
4. Festive PhotosHolidays often provide an excuse to decorate or dress up. You can add some character to your blog and show the humans behind your brand by sharing images of your staff and their pets in holiday garb and your office decked out for the holidays. You can share your festive photos on social media and even call for submissions from your customers to share their own cute or fun holiday-themed photos.
5. Holiday Healthy Eating TipsOne of the best things about the holidays is all that delicious food. One of the worst things about the holidays is all that (unhealthy) delicious food. In addition to gift buying and charitable giving, something many people will have on their minds this time of year is how to navigate being around loads of delicious foods while staying healthy. Content that addresses this tricky issue can be helpful for your readers. This is an especially good topic to explore if your business is in an industry related to health.
6. Holiday Party TipsYour readers will probably be going to (and hosting) more parties in November and December than any other time of year. This is another topic you can address that you know they’ll be thinking about. Your content can cover how to dress for holiday parties, office party etiquette, what’s appropriate to bring, or how to be a good host – pretty much anything that might help those holiday parties be more of a success.
7. Holiday Safety TipsThe holidays can feel like all fun and games, but you also have to worry about staying safe during the busiest travel times of the year, dealing with huge (sometimes stampeding) crowds at stores, and extreme cold temperatures in some places. There are some real safety risks for people to be aware of and prepared for this time of year. Another topic that’s therefore likely to useful to your readers is ways to stay safe during the holiday season. Think about some of the challenges and safety risks the people in your audience will be dealing with and work up content with tips on how to stay safe.
8. Holiday Travel TipsSafety is just one issue of many to be concerned with when traveling in November and December. There’s a whole host of travel-related issues people could use help with from how to pack (especially if you’re transporting lots of gifts across the country), how to find the best flight deals, or how to avoid routes with the worst traffic. Brainstorm issues that your audience is likely to face when traveling for the holidays and work up some content to help them proactively solve likely problems.
9. Holiday Saving TipsFor all the fun of the presents, parties, and food that come with the holidays – they’re not easy on the pocketbook. Between gifts for everyone you know, big meals, and expensive travel, a lot of people in your audience are probably struggling to figure out how to have a fun, fulfilling holiday season without ending up broke at the end of it all. That makes holiday spending and saving best practices another useful area for your content to cover.
10. Recipe PostsWhether they’re hosting parties, attending potlucks, or simply cooking with the family, chances are your customers will be making some food and drinks over the next couple of months. Help them try out something new by providing creative, festive recipes. If you sell something consumable that people can use in a recipe, all the better.
11. Review PostsPeople will be considering a lot of purchases over the next couple of months and will struggle with knowing which items are good buys worth the money. You can help by writing review posts of products that people in your industry are likely to be interested in. An honest review that provides information someone interested in the product would need to know can help them make a more informed decision before buying and earn you trust (and traffic).
12. Holiday Promotion EmailsA lot of the ideas up until now have been focused on providing value to the reader, which is obviously a big part of content marketing. But of course, at some point you should be a little more direct in pushing for a sale. Emails to your list are a good place to do that. Let them know about the promotions and deals you’re offering to try to drive them back to the site to buy.
13. Customer Thanks EmailsYour customers are the people who keep your business running year by year. This is a good time of year to show your gratitude (especially if you do it right around Thanksgiving). Email your customers to let them know how much they mean to you, and consider throwing a special promotion into the email just for them.
14. Holiday Advent CalendarAdvent calendars are a fun holiday tradition because they dangle the promise of a new surprise every day. You can adapt the fun of advent calendars to marketing by creating a digital advent calendar that provides your users with a new promotion or message each day leading up to Christmas. There are even templates and Wordpress plug-ins to help you with the technical side of creating an advent calendar.
15. End-of-Year Trends PostsYes, they’re a familiar content staple. But they’re popular for a reason. As the end of the year approaches, consider the main trends in your space from the past year and what you expect to be a big deal in the coming year, and work up a post letting your readers know what to expect.
16. End-of-Year Bests PostsIf you’ve been doing content marketing at least since the beginning of last year, then you’ve built up a lot of good content this year. Go back and identify your best pieces and put them into roundup posts that help your visitors revisit the best you have to offer. If you’ve been following other great content in your industry closely this year, then go ahead and work up posts highlighting the best of that content, too. Spreading a little love to other relevant blogs and companies may earn you some shares and links from them, and provide your audience with useful information at the same time.
17. Get Creative with RewardsThe holidays are about giving, so think about ways you can give back to your customers that are creative and enticing. That could mean offering a special physical holiday gift for referrals instead of your usual $20 off, or adding on a mystery item to orders over a certain amount. Cards Against Humanity rewards their holiday customers with 12 days of surprise gifts that have included such bizarre rewards as a lump of coal or part of a private island. You don’t have to go that far into the unexpected, but getting creative can inspire similar interest and delight in your customers and keep them talking about your brand.
18. Create a Holiday QuizQuizzes are great because they’re interactive and fun, and they help both you and the person taking them learn something new. Think about something relevant to the holiday you can focus your quiz on, like “What Type of Gift Giver Are You?” or a roundup of interesting holiday trivia. If you can find a way to tie it back into your brand, then do, but it can also be worth doing just as something fun to offer your audience that gets them interacting with your brand.
19. Create a GameGames are another fun way to get your audience to engage with your brand. Creating a holiday game will involve some real work, but if it attracts new customers to your website or gets people talking about your brand, it can pay off. The shoe company Bobbies created a branded game for Christmas that was played over 400,000 times by users that happily shared their information with the company. If you make brand interaction fun, people will have no reason not to partake.
20. New Year’s Resolutions PostsThe last of the big holidays of the season is the one that heralds in the beginning of the New Year, and we all know what that means: resolutions. People tend toward a few main themes when making New Year’s resolutions – getting healthier and getting finances in order are big ones. Think about ways your products can make your customers happier, healthier or more responsible and use those ideas to help inspire you in writing up a post about making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions.
ConclusionAs with any other time of year, the key to creating great content during the holiday season is to think about your customer first. If you can tap into what they’re concerned about, excited about, or just generally thinking about, then you can create content that speaks to what they care about. Where possible, tie it back into your brand and products and include relevant CTAs, but don’t try to force it. Sometimes an opportunity to interact and build on your relationship with them is enough.
Thursday, November 16, 2017 by Syed Balkhi
How to Make Your Website More Mobile Friendly (And Why You Should)Are you seeing a decline in organic website traffic? Are you still using the same old website design that you used when first starting your website? It may be hard to believe, but your bad website design may be the main reason why you’re losing website traffic. As you may know, Google recently changed its search algorithm to give a ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites and also punish other desktop-only websites. If your website is not properly optimized to meet Google’s mobile-friendly standards, you're putting your entire business at risk. It’s time you make some changes to improve your website. You can start by optimizing your website for mobile devices. Here’s why.
Mobile Is The FutureYou’re probably getting a decent amount of traffic for your website. You’re generating good sales. And everything seems to be working fine. So you might wonder: Why change your website design when nothing seems to be wrong? Well, maybe you haven’t noticed yet is that mobile devices are slowly taking over the world. In fact, mobile devices are already in the lead for most internet usage after surpassing desktop devices. In a few more years, everyone will be using smartphones and tablets to browse the web. It will probably be too late to save your business by then. So, take action now to make your website future-proof.
Beat Your CompetitionReports show that 62% of companies with a mobile-first website design see an increase in sales over companies with desktop-only websites. It’s not surprising, then, that 52% of users claim they are less likely to engage with a website with a bad mobile user experience. By making your website mobile-friendly, you're better equipped to beat your competition and rank higher on Google Search. Show the world why your business is more innovative than the competition and also increase your sales in the process.
Rank Higher On GoogleAs we’ve mentioned earlier, Google now gives a ranking boost for mobile-friendly websites. That means whenever a user searches for something on Google, the search engine will show mobile-friendly websites above other websites. Google rolled out this update to its search algorithm in May 2016. So, if you’ve noticed a drop in organic website traffic since then, this could be the reason why. Optimize your website with a responsive design and you’ll be able to recover the traffic that you’ve lost and even gain better ranking on Google.
Tips for Making Your Website More Mobile-FriendlyBefore we get started on optimizing the website, you need to figure out how much your website needs to be improved. Use the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool to test your website and see which parts of your website needs to be fixed. The tool will also offer suggestions on how to improve your site for mobile devices as well. You can also use your Google Analytics data to learn what type of mobile devices your website visitors mostly use. Then you can better optimize your website for certain device screens based on that data.
1. Optimize For Touch ScreensOne of the biggest differences between mobile and desktop devices is their interaction methods. On mobile devices, people are used to zooming in with fingertips and swiping across to view more. Making your website design responsive is not enough to offer a great user experience to mobile users. You have to optimize your website for touch screens as well. This includes adding touchscreen navigation to the website. For example, you can make sure the slideshows on your website can be swiped across with fingertips. Make forms, such as your email opt-in forms, easier to fill by reducing the number of fields in a form.
2. Compress HTML, CSS, and ImagesMaking your website load faster is another important part of optimizing a website for mobile devices. You must make sure that your website loads fast enough to keep visitors from getting frustrated, especially on mobile devices. Compress your high-resolution images to ensure your blog posts don’t consume too much data on mobile devices. Also, compress and minify your website’s HTML and CSS to give a speed boost. Installing a good caching plugin will help you with that.
3. Choose The Right Font SizesEven some of the most popular blogs are still using tiny font sizes that makes our eyes hurt when reading. Your visitors shouldn’t have to zoom in on your blog posts just to read its content. This completely ruins the user experience. You can actually fix this problem by configuring a viewport to make sure your fonts are rendered to correct sizes on different device screens. It’s a simple process, but you’ll need some CSS skills to get it done.
4. Switch To A Better ThemeOf course, since you’re using WordPress, the easiest method to make your website mobile friendly is to upgrade to a better theme. Simply buy a modern WordPress theme that comes with a mobile-friendly design and replace your old theme with the new one. It’s as simple as that. Or, you could use a plugin to optimize your website for mobile devices. However, this method is not recommended and it will make your website load slightly slower. Only use it as a temporary fix until you find a permanent solution.
5. Implement AMPAMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source project developed to offer a smooth web browsing experience to mobile users. When implemented, AMP creates optimized versions of your blog posts that can be viewed on mobile devices in split seconds. It makes your website load so fast that browsing an AMP-powered website feels like using a native app on your phone. Google also ranks AMP-powered websites higher on its mobile search results. You can easily implement AMP on your website using a free WordPress plugin.
Over To YouKeep testing your website until you perfect the design for mobile devices. Use a tool like BrowserStack to get that job done. What advice do you have for making a website more mobile-friendly? Please share in the comments!