- How can I make sure my business is at the top of a Google search?
- What are the SEO basics I should apply to my website?
- How do I know what keywords to use or content I should create to get found?
- What are the SEO tools others recommend?
- How do I optimize my domain name for SEO?
Friday, October 7, 2016 by Amelia WillsonAre you a blogger? Business owner? Freelancer? By now you know that SEO is important. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fear and mystery surrounding SEO (i.e. Search Engine Optimization) that prevents people from understanding the basics and applying them to their website to bring in new visitors. Well, we're about to change that. We're joining our friends at Endurance International Group and Constant Contact for a Twitter chat on How To Get Started With Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Whether you're brand new to running a website or you've had one for a while, you'll walk away with a SEO game plan and the answers to questions like:
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by Amelia WillsonThink about the About page on your website. If you don’t have one, you should create one immediately after reading this article. If you have one, what's the point? Is it to show customers who your team is, to put a “face” to the company? Or do you talk about the history of your company? Maybe it’s a recruiting tool? About pages can serve a variety of purposes. The key to making them successful, though, is knowing what that purpose is, and designing the page to address that purpose specifically. Your About page is the perfect place to encourage people to work with you, or to work for you. Below are some best practices to follow when designing your About page to achieve either of those goals.
1. Tell your storyYour About page is your opportunity to make a personal connection with prospective customers. Explain why it is that you do what you do. Are you passionate about improving your industry, your product, the world? Reveal your passion, and people will want to work with you. Nick Braun, founder and CEO of Pet Insurance Quotes, took this one step further by helping potential clients imagine themselves in his shoes. Braun's About page includes the key elements of any successful About page: contact information, trust-building industry badges of approval, and clear CTAs. What makes this page stand out is Braun's personal dog rescue story. He and his wife fell instantly in love with their new pup Beau, and started exploring insurance options so they could keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible. It was during this time that Braun realized how difficult it was to compare pet insurance providers, which gave him the idea to start the website. Braun’s site aims to help other pet parents avoid headache and heartache. “There is nothing fancy about it, but what it does that most other About pages don't is provide a story about why we're in business. I always find it frustrating when I can't get any sense of who the company is,” said Braun. “We decided to share my story as a pet parent to provide context and help connect with our audience.”
2. Establish credibilityChris Brantner recognized the sales opportunity an About page presents. Rather than offering another boring “About Me” story on CutCableToday.com, he designed a page to encourage customers to take action. The page begins with a trust-building banner. “It validates the site as an expert source in the industry by showing where the site has gained national media coverage,” said Brantner. Once he’s established trust, Brantner keeps things fun and conversational, allowing his personality to shine. “It's a great branding piece that allows people to get to know the site mascot, and the guy behind him (me).” Brantner understands that when people come to an About page, they’re already at a place where they're interested in the product, and what they’re looking for at this point is reassurance that this is the kind of person they want to work with. After building trust and rapport with potential customers in the previous sections of the page, the page ends with a contact form. “It drives people to action by convincing them to click internal links that will push them into the funnel, or at last resort, email asking for help to keep the conversation going.”
3. Feature your customersAs they say, the proof is in the pudding. There’s a reason why online reviews and customer testimonials are so popular… they work. User your About page to show off your portfolio of work and share how happy your customers are. Pet Checkers is a UK-based company that connects pet owners with pet care professionals when they go on holiday. As any pet owner can relate, it's nerve-wracking to leave your pet in the hands of a stranger. Not only do you want to know that they will be safe, you want to know that they will be cared for lovingly. Building that sense of trust is a tall order for any pet care company, but Pet Checkers found a clever solution to this challenge in the design of their About page. Owner Ben Doyle explained, “We worked really hard to make the page look as welcoming and as personal as possible. All of the images we used on the page (and the site) are of actual pets we look after, so our clients can see that we make a fuss of their pets on the site. We also introduce our staff members to make the readers feel like they’re getting to know us before any contact even takes place.” Does it work? You bet. “The click through rate from this page to the contact page is the highest of any page on the site,” shared Doyle.
4. Introduce the teamIntroducing your team is especially important if you’re a company where individual staff will be working closely and for prolonged times with clients. If this is the kind of business you’re in, be it a law firm, a design agency, or something else, hiding your team away can be a kiss of death. Make your team accessible through your website so your customers know they can expect openness and transparency in your working relationship. One company that took a clever twist on this approach is TunnelBear. Their mascot is a grizzly bear, so rather than displaying normal photos of their team, they created grizzly-inspired illustrations that reflect their unique personalities. The effect is endearing and makes you want to work with such a fun group of people. Accordingly, they end with a recruiting call-out and link to their jobs page.
5. Showcase your workNot to toot our own horn, but we're pretty proud of our own About page here at HostGator. We highlight the milestones in our company history, so customers can celebrate our successes along with us. These also help establish our credibility and tenure in the industry, as customers can note the growth of our company from a single office Houston to several international offices with over 2 million clients. At the end, we encourage potential hires to envision themselves working at HostGator and link to our Careers page.
ConclusionWe hope these About pages inspired you! When creating your About page, aim to follow these best practices:
- Tell your story.
- Feature your customers.
- Establish credibility.
- Showcase your work.
- Introduce your team.
- Incorporate your brand.
- Make it fun!
Monday, September 19, 2016 by Amelia WillsonCalling all Scooby Doos and Nancy Drews... are you ready to solve a cyber mystery? This mystery is the first of its kind, and Snappy needs your help. Here's what we know. The scene of tHe crime is on a website. It invOlves a very Special producT, ...known for powerinG successful blogs, businesses, And applications online. Snappy the alligaTor is involved. YOu have until Friday at midnight to solve the mysteRy. If you've guessed that it's our first-ever HostGator Mystery Sale, offering mega deals on web hosting all week long, you are a super sleuth! That's right! From today through Friday, September 23rd, we are hosting a mystery sale on all of our shared web hosting plans for terms of 12 months or more! Your mystery discount will be revealed at checkout. Enjoy up to 65% savings off your new website! Whether you're starting your first blog or need a professional website that will grow with your business, HostGator's shared web hosting plans make it easy to succeed online. Enjoy the following features and more:
- One-click installs of the most popular blogging and e-commerce platforms, including WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla
- Unlimited email addresses tied to your domain name
- Unmetered storage and bandwidth
- $100 Google AdWords credit and $100 Yahoo/Bing credit
- Free website builder
- 24/7/365 support
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by Amelia Willson[caption id="attachment_12078" align="aligncenter" width="750"] The new Hiatus Spa website features beautiful, high-quality images that load quickly thanks to HostGator WordPress hosting.[/caption]
The Client: Hiatus Spa + Retreat
Hiatus Spa + Retreat was founded in 2007 in Dallas, TX., by Sheila Garrison and Kristin Peabody—two friends who aimed to revolutionize the spa industry by making it affordable for people to de-stress on a regular basis. “We recognized there was a hole in the market in the spa industry. There were beautiful destination and hotel spas that came with a high-end price tag, and then there were massage clinics that were more about therapy than enjoying a day of wellness. We wanted to build a spa that would have the first membership in the country, which we call ‘the H circle,’” said Peabody.
Customers loved it. Hiatus Spa + Retreat has won Best Spa in Dallas almost every year since their opening, and they’ve been steadily growing with additional locations in Austin, Plano, and soon San Antonio. “When we first got started, we borrowed against our 401Ks and applied for an SBA loan; we were on a shoestring budget. We were ready to open our doors with a starter website and logo, but they weren't optimized to be highly transactional.”
The Challenge: An Outdated Website
Now that they’re planning the opening of their fourth location, success has given Hiatus Spa + Retreat the opportunity to be more relevant with their website and drive more sales and engagement from their customers. “Our website was nice but it didn’t have great functionality. It took too many clicks to get where you needed to be,” said Peabody. “It wasn’t highly transactional so there were a lot of abandoned pages on the site, and we knew we needed to improve the overall user experience.”
There was also an issue of branding. “Our spa has a very warm and welcome, kind of upbeat and irreverent feel that’s lighter than most spas,” Peabody said. Their darker, outmoded website didn’t reflect what they had evolved into as a brand.[caption id="attachment_12076" align="aligncenter" width="749"] Hiatus Spa's previous website didn't reflect the warm, upbeat feel of their brand.[/caption]
The founders sought out Mary Kathryn Paynter, an Austin-based brand consultant, to help them revamp the Hiatus Spa + Retreat brand and website.
“I ran a flower business myself, so I understand how hard it is as a small business owner. You get disconnected from how your brand appears to the outside world, because you’re so focused on the day-to-day getting things done,” Paynter said. “I feel for entrepreneurs because what they’re doing is hard, and they don’t have time necessarily to keep up with what works online.”
With today’s increasingly mobile world, the new website needed to be responsive first and foremost. The old version wasn’t mobile-friendly, so it was difficult for customers to click to contact, find the spa’s location, or make an appointment. This resulted in high exit rates from mobile customers.
Additionally, the new design was image-intensive to align with the rebrand and attract new customers. “Images are a big draw for millennials, and they didn’t have that on the old site. We wanted to give people an idea of what it feels like to be in the spa itself,” said Paynter.
The Solution: HostGator Managed WordPress Hosting
Using high-quality images and optimizing for mobile were not negotiable, so Hiatus Spa + Retreat needed a web hosting solution that could load high-resolution images quickly on a mobile device.
“We’ve been HostGator customers since we started in 2007, and we’ve always had great service,” said Peabody, so they chose to upgrade from their shared hosting plan to HostGator’s managed WordPress plan.
Using HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting meant they could enjoy a seamless upgrade, a much-needed speed boost to help with their mobile traffic, and beautiful high-quality image display. “If we hadn’t chosen HostGator’s WordPress plan, I would be very anxious about posting the site live. I’d worry about all our work going to waste because people would go to the site and the image wouldn’t load,” Paynter shared.
And it was easy. “It took us longer to track down our login info than to actually upgrade!” Paynter said. “It literally took five minutes.”[caption id="attachment_12148" align="aligncenter" width="749"] HiatusSpa.com mobile site before and after[/caption]
The Results: A Beautiful, Mobile-Friendly WebsiteTheir new website and rebrand not only evokes the feeling of being in one of their spas, it makes it easy to schedule an appointment, too. “We have a direct booking link on the site now,” shared Peabody. “Sheila and I are big environmentalists, so we’ve always tried to be as organic and green as possible from beginning to end in our operation. Our internal forms are all digital, and now that we’re taking guest profiles and paperwork online with the new website, we can go entirely paperless. Plus, once people walk in the doors, they don’t want to fill out paperwork; they want to start relaxing.”
“We loved the wide variety of themes that are available with WordPress, especially because many don’t even require much coding. Our theme came with a drag-and-drop builder so it was super simple to use in designing. We also loved that the parallax functionality lent the site that immersive spa feel we were going for,” Paynter raved. “Plus, the great thing about WordPress is the management system. You can easily swap things out moving forward, so updates aren’t a big deal.”
“With our business growing throughout Texas, you have to plan for the future, and technology is a big part of that,” said Peabody. “Our new website takes our brand to the next level.”
There’s a reason why nearly 80 million websites use WordPress. It’s a robust content management platform that allows endless customization, all while staying accessible to those of us who aren’t web developers.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Amelia WillsonAs a global web hosting company, HostGator supports websites numbering in the millions. We recently analyzed a random selection of US-based domains we host to discover trends among the words most commonly used in website titles. The resulting word cloud (thanks WordClouds.com!) may surprise you. A few notes before you look: These words were taken from the title tags of each domain's home page. We removed common words like "the," "and," and "a," as well as company designations like "llc" and "ltd." And, to keep things simple, we looked at domains isolated to the US so the words are all English. Take a look... what do you see? These words reveal many things. Here are several we noticed. We care about location, location, location. Words like "nyc" and "usa" show how popular it is to use your location in a company name, and make it easier for customers to discover your local business. We like putting our name on things. Many of the smaller words are first names like "dave," "brian," or "mary," reflecting how common it is to personalize your blog or company name. We have many passions. From "art" and "film" to "crossfit" and "wrestling," our websites reveal what we're blogging about and what we're interested in buying. We're obsessed with our appearance. In a culture like ours that values beauty and youth, this shouldn't come as a surprise, but it's still something to see just how many of the words center around achieving a perfect "look": "hot," "fat," "skin," "face," "diet," "spa," "wax," "self" We need a lot of help with our cars. "Auto" and "car" are two of the most used words. We love our pets, especially the canine variety. "Dog" and "pet" both make a big appearance. We recognize the power of positive psychology. Many website owners promise "fun," "joy," "power" in their website names, along with the sales pitch words like "get," "deal," and "sell." We're not all SEO experts. Two words that surprised us with their popularity were "untitled" and "title." Many of these website owners are missing out on a SEO opportunity by failing to include keywords in the title tags of their page. Most of all, our websites represent our lives. The most popular word was "life," making it clear that we really do see our online world as an extension of our physical world. What else do you see? Share your thoughts in the comments.