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  • Customer Testimonials: Why Your Small Business Needs Them

    Thursday, May 10, 2018 by
    customer testimonials for small business

    Why Customer Testimonials Matter for Small Business

    Prospective customers want to know what other people think of your business before they hand you their cash or their card number. That's where customer testimonials come in. Done right, testimonials on your website and social media channels provide social proof, raise conversion rates, and even help promote specific products or services you offer. Here are some best practices to make sure your hard-won testimonials work hard for you. best WordPress hosting

    How Testimonials Help Your Business

    First, what is social proof, and why does your business need it? Social proof is a fancy way of saying that we humans like to know that other people have had a good experience with something before we give it a try. Think about your own habits – when you're trying to choose which product to buy online, do you go with the one with no reviews or the one with a dozen mostly positive reviews? Objectively speaking, your choices may be more or less equal, but you probably choose the one that other people have chosen, because it seems less unfamiliar. The idea behind social proof may sound vague, but marketers can and do measure its impact. One business case study found that adding properly formatted testimonials to a company's homepage boosted the conversion rate by 34 percent. (Testimonials aren't the only way to strengthen your business' social proof. Learn more ways to leverage social proof for your site.) Getting more customers to contact you or buy your products is one way to use testimonials, but you can also use them in more specific ways. For example, if you're launching a new product or service, testimonials from preview users or beta testers can help overcome that natural human reluctance to be the first to try something new. Keep in mind that there are some ethical guidelines for sharing testimonials from people who tried your stuff for free, which we'll go over below. You can also use testimonials to raise interest in specific products or services that offer quality but aren't selling as well as your other offerings.  

    How To Get Customer Testimonials

    Getting testimonials from your customers sounds easy—just ask—but some requests are easier than others, so start with those. If you get great feedback via email or on social media from one of your customers, thank them and ask if you can use it on your website. Most of the time, they'll say yes. You can also embed positive customer reviews from third-party sites like Yelp and Google on your site and let them serve as testimonials, and you don't need to request any special permission to include those on your site. There's also straight-up asking your best customers if they wouldn't mind writing a testimonial for your site. If you have a good working relationship and they're naturally expressive people, they'll probably agree to share their feedback. Make your request something short and sweet like, “I'm inviting my best customers to write short testimonials about our widget/service for our website. If you'd like to contribute, I'd really appreciate it.” Be sure to thank them for their time, too. As we mentioned above, you may have preview customers or beta testers for a new product or service, and you can use their testimonials with their permission. However, to stay on the right side of ethics and Federal Trade Commission rules, you must disclose it if the people providing your testimonials got a discount, a free trial, or anything else in exchange for what they're writing about.  

    4 Ways To Make Your Customer Testimonials Even More Effective

    Getting testimonials from clients and customers is just the beginning. To get the most value from their comments, follow these best practices.  

    1. Use names, faces, and places.

    Prospective customers seek out testimonials, but more importantly, they seek out testimonials that seem real. In an age of bots and online shenanigans, it's more important than ever to show that your testimonials are from real people. The simplest way to do that is to include their names (full or just first), photos, and city or company—with their permission, of course.  

    2. Include specific positive feedback.

    Prospects check reviews and testimonials to see why other people like your business. If you have the best customer service in town, try to get testimonials that mention it. If your products do something none of your competitors do, get a testimonial that says so. And if you're easy to work with and deliver great value, let one of your customers sing your praises in their testimonial.  

    3. Keep testimonials short.

    The best testimonials are only as long as they need to be to share specific positives about your business, so keep testimonials to a couple of sentences at most. That respects your visitors' time. It also makes it more likely that local prospects who are searching on their mobile phones will see your testimonials and take action—reading short blurbs is much easier than reading long paragraphs on a phone. What if you get a great testimonial that's more like a story than a blurb and really makes your company look great? Turn it into a case study and level up your marketing.  

    4. Update your testimonials.

    A good testimonial can work for your business for years, but it's a good idea to check your testimonials every now and then to make sure they refer to products and services you still offer. Keep asking for testimonials as your business grows to cover more aspects of what you do. Asking for feedback is also a way to find out what your customers like best and what they're only lukewarm about. Those are the areas you can work on until they're worthy of a testimonial, too.  

    Testimonials Help Grow Your Business

    Testimonials are just one way to get the customer feedback you need to help your business thrive. Learn more about listening to your customers to grow your business.
  • How to Add Google Fonts to Your WordPress Website

    Monday, April 16, 2018 by
    choose fonts for your website

    Is Your Site Using the Right Font?

    Thanks to the growing number of mobile internet users, finding the right font has become a big project for site designers, publishers, and retailers. The BBC and the Guardian have recently debuted new bespoke fonts designed to be easier to read on phones—and save the companies money on licenses for commercial fonts. Even if you don't have a flagship-media budget, there are ways you can update your site fonts for better readability, a more consistent appearance across browsers and devices, and faster page-load times to help your SEO. best WordPress hosting

    What Fonts Are Best for Your Site?

    Whether you're a design fan or someone who likes to consider all the options, it's really easy to fall down a rabbit hole of fonts. There are thousands of open-source fonts that anyone can download and use, and thousands more available for purchase. Because you want fonts that make your website easier to use and faster, it's probably best to limit yourself to Google Fonts, a repository of open-source fonts that are easy to read on small screens and which cache quickly to speed up page load times. At this writing, Google Fonts offers a mere 848 font families, 823 of which work for English-language copy. To narrow down your 800-plus choices, you'll need to apply some basic font choice principles, like those described by Janie Kliever at Canva.
    • Two to three fonts is the ideal number for most sites. If you stick with only one, your site may look sterile and visitors may have a hard time figuring out which text is a headline and which is your main copy. More than two or three fonts can make the site look chaotic and amateurish.
    • Choose fonts that have some contrast so that they create a visual hierarchy. For example, you could use a bold or serif font for your headlines so they stand out and a simple sans serif font for body copy so it's easy to scan, even on a smartphone.
    Google Design gives a broader overview of typography, fonts, and how to find the best fonts for your site in their Choosing Web Fonts: A Beginner's Guide. Among the things the authors say you should consider are:
    • Are you designing your site for the long-term or short-term? Long-term projects often need font families with many style options.
    • How long will your text blocks be? Even on-screen, serif fonts are a good idea if you'll feature five or more paragraphs at a time.
    • What size will your type be? Simpler fonts are easier to read at small sizes, but they may not stand out enough in headlines.
    • Will your visitors translate your site into other languages? If so, you'll need to choose a font family that supports multiscript characters so those translations display properly.
    The guide recommends a few fonts for specific situations to help you get started. You can also browse the entire Google Fonts library here.  

    Finding Google Fonts for Your Site

    When you're ready to explore Google Fonts, it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate the somewhat clunky directory to find the right typefaces. As an example, let's walk through looking for a serif font to use for headlines on a site for a petsitting business—something bold and businesslike but a bit playful.
    • In the Google Fonts search filter sidebar, you can select the serif category and decide how you want the results presented—by age, popularity, or alphabetized by name.
    • Under languages, you can narrow your results to typefaces that support English by selecting 'Latin' (confusing, but we do use the Latin alphabet).
    • Next, you can check the boxes to open slider menus and fine-tune your options for number of styles (variations on the font, like lighter, bolder, or italic), thickness, slant, and width.
    google fonts library By choosing 'serif' and 'Latin,' you get 174 options for your petsitting website headline font. Bree Serif looks like it could work. To see how your copy will look, you can replace the dummy copy with your text by inserting the cursor, clearing out the dummy text, and entering 'Our Petsitting Service Menu.' (You can also click 'apply to all fonts' so we don't have to retype it.) google fonts serif fonts library You can use the slider menu to resize the text anywhere from 8 to 112 points. You can also use the dropdown menu on the left to see how your copy looks in a sentence or paragraph or the alphabet and numerals in that font. Clicking the + button adds Bree Serif to a tray at the bottom, where you can collect all the fonts you want to use. When you're ready to install them, click the black tray bar and you'll see HTML and CSS code to embed the font in your site. (More on this below.) You can download as many fonts as you like, but Google recommends that you don't download everything “just in case,” because of the time and space it would take.

    download google fontsHow Can You Use Google Fonts On Your Site?

    If you're comfortable adding code to your site, you can use the Get Started with Google Fonts API guide to using stylesheets to specify the font families and styles you want on your site. You'll also find out how to drastically reduce the font file size for headings and logos by optimizing font requests. For anyone who's not comfortable editing their own site code, there are several plugins for WordPress that can install and manage Google Fonts for you. One of the most popular options, with more than 300,000 installations, is Easy Google Fonts. With this plugin, you can avoid editing the code for your site's theme and you get a menu of all Google Fonts without having to manually select and download any of them. The plugin adds a typography menu in the WordPress Customize section of the dashboard, where you can select font families, styles, color, and other text elements for each type of header and text in your site theme. Easy Google Fonts WordPress plugin You can see a realtime preview of what each change you make will look like; visitors to your site will only see your changes if you save and publish them. To change text elements that aren't part of your theme's default controls, Easy Google Fonts allows you to create your own font controls that will show up in the Typography menu. After you choose the Google Fonts you want to use and make sure they look right in the preview, you're ready to save and publish to update your site.  

    Update Your Fonts, Upgrade Your Site

    By updating your site's fonts, you're not only giving it an updated look, you're also building a better user experience. Faster-loading fonts that are designed for on-screen readability and reliable WordPress hosting optimized for fast load times are the key to keeping visitors coming back, especially as more people do their browsing on their phones.
  • What Is The Best Website Builder?

    Monday, March 26, 2018 by
    What Is The Best Website Builder?

    What Is The Best Website Builder?

    When you start planning to set up your first website, you'll quickly find there are a lot of website builders out there. Which website builder is best for your project? That depends on a few things, like the type of site you're setting up, the skills and time you have to devote to making your website, and what kind of server space and speed it will need. In general, website builders are best for people who want a simple, professional looking website up and running quickly and who don't have the coding skills or time to build something from scratch. With that in mind, let's look at what makes a website builder “the best” for different purposes. HostGator Website Builder

    The Best Website Builder for Blogging

    Most bloggers want to get started sharing content and building a community of readers as soon as possible. A site builder that keeps things simple can free you up to focus on writing, photography, podcasting, or video production while providing a good-looking home for your work. Here's what to look for when building your site. A mobile-friendly site template (design) that makes it easy for visitors to navigate through your posts. Most of us do at least some of our leisure reading on our smartphones now, so making your blog easy for visitors to read on the go is a must. Unless you're deliberately making an absurdist statement, your blog's format needs to follow a few conventions related to pages and sections:
    • Your homepage should feature your current post above the fold (meaning visitors should be able to see at least the headline and first sentences without having to scroll down).
    • They'll also expect to find an archives or previous posts section, maybe a most popular posts section after you've been at it a while, and definitely an about me page or section that's all about your background and why you blog.
    • Finally, you'll want to include contact information so your visitors can get in touch with questions and ideas.
    Your ideal website builder needs a few other tools, too:
    • Social media tools will help you grow your audience by making it easy for you to post your content and making it a snap for your visitors to share on their own pages.
    • An image library is a great way to dress up your site design and illustrate your posts without spending big on custom photography.
    • If you want to start monetizing your blog, make sure your website builder lets you connect to PayPal or another payment service.

    The Best Website Builder for Small Business

    Next, what's the best website builder for a small business? All the features that make a website builder useful for a blogger can also help a small business, but you'll need a few more bells and whistles to meet your business branding, marketing, and site management needs. Look for these tools: An option to remove the website builder's branding from your site. Website builders often include their logo on free or low-cost plans, because it helps make their services accessible to hobbyists like personal bloggers. But if you run your own business, you'll want to make sure the only branding on your site is yours, especially if you've invested in having a logo designed for your company. You can use your logo to create a favicon for your site, too, so make sure the website builder you choose allows you to set that up easily. A favicon makes it easier for visitors to find your site among open browser tabs and to pick your site out of their bookmarks fast. Favicon For marketing, look for a website builder that helps you embed HD video from your YouTube or Vimeo channel. You can use videos to create portfolios and tours for prospective clients, make explainer and tutorial videos for customer education, and add punch to your company's about us page by interviewing your team or showing them at work. On the backend of your site, a website builder that easily connects to your Google Analytics account will make it easier for you to check your traffic sources, keyword performance, and other must-know search and site-visitor data. Because your site is the digital storefront for your business, you'll want to make sure it's never accidentally locked up. Choose a website builder that gives you access to your site revision history so that you can revert to an older version if you ever make changes or updates that you don't like.  

    The Best Website Builder for E-Commerce

    Finally, let's look at how to determine what's the best website builder for your e-commerce business. The small-business tools we covered in the section above are all important, but e-commerce has some specific merchandising, promotion, payment, and inventory-management needs that a good website builder must support:
    • Your website builder must include or integrate with shopping-cart software that's optimized for mobile and web users. This software will display your products on your site and hold on to the items your customers select until they're ready to check out.
    • At that point, your site needs to give your shoppers the payment options they prefer, so your site builder needs to offer options like PayPal, Square, and Stripe. And it wouldn't be e-commerce checkout without the option to use a coupon code, so your site builder needs to include that capability, too.
    • Your site doesn't need to be your only sales channel. Selling on social media is a growing trend. If your website builder doesn't make it easy to sell on Facebook, look for one that does.
    • The more you sell, the more important inventory tracking will be to your business. If your site builder offers inventory tracking tools, you'll find it easier to keep tabs on what's in stock, what's running low, and when it's time to reorder.

    The Best Website Builder for Your Site

    Ultimately, the best website builder is the one that best serves your particular needs. Of course, we're partial to HostGator's website builder, which can help you get your blog, small-business or e-commerce site up and running today.
  • What Is A Website Builder?

    Monday, March 26, 2018 by
    What is a website builder

    What Is A Website Builder?

    There are a lot of terms to pick up when you're learning how to set up a website for your business or your blog. Even if you know what a web host, CMS, and SEO are, “website builder” can be a bit confusing. Does that refer to a web designer that you hire, or to an app you use to tell your site specs to Alexa so she can build it for you? The answers are 'no' and 'sadly, no,' but website builders are very useful, especially to first-time site owners and people who want to put together sites quickly. HostGator Website Builder

    What Are Website Builders?

    In general terms, website builders are all-in-one tools that let users build a site quickly, without needing to know any coding or site design skills. Although it sounds basic, a good website builder can deliver a professional looking site that uses mobile-friendly best practices, integrates with social media and e-commerce tools, and seamlessly updates to stay current and secure. For most people, especially those who are setting up their first site, a website builder offers a low-stress, low-cost option for creating a good-quality site.  

    Who Are Website Builders For?

    Anyone can use a website builder, but they're an especially good option for people who:
    • Need to launch a website quickly.
    • Don't have tech skills and don't have time or interest in learning.
    • Feel intimidated by the idea of putting together their first website.
    • Would rather let someone else handle site updates.
    • Have a small site-design budget.
    Because a good website builder will include templates for all types of use cases, bloggers, small business owners, and online retailers can all get professional looking sites up and running fast. For example, HostGator's website builder includes more than 100 templates for businesses such as restaurants, professional photography, and fashion and beauty retail, plus blog templates. Website builder templates

    What Are the Pros and Cons of Website Builders?

    Using a website builder is fast, easy, and inexpensive. Those are some pretty impressive pros. But a website builder may not be the best choice if you need:
    • highly customized site code and functions.
    • a fully customized template and theme.
    • dedicated servers to load your site at the highest possible speeds.
    • regular access to site backups.
    If your site needs any of these elements, you may be better off using a CMS like WordPress or hiring a site designer and getting a dedicated hosting plan. For most site owners, though, a website builder will get the job done well.  

    How Do Website Builders Work?

    What can you expect when you use a website builder? Let's walk through the basic steps. First, you'll need a domain name for your site. If you've already registered your domain name, you're a step ahead. If not, the website builder should be able to help you get that done. Next, you'll need a web hosting service, a place for your site's files to “live.” Most website builders come packaged with one or more web hosting plans, so you can choose the level of service you need. Now comes the fun part: putting together the elements you want from a menu of options.
    • Templates. Go ahead and scroll through all your options a couple of times, and then narrow in on the designs that make the most sense for your type of website. If you run a business, you'll want a template that displays product photos on the home page, and if you're a blogger, you'll probably want a layout that makes it easy for visitors to scroll through your posts.
    • Pages and sections. Even the most minimalist website needs a few standard pages and sections: the homepage, an “about us” page or section, contact information, and your content—blog posts, products, or a portfolio of your services. Business sites usually also include customer testimonials and reviews. And an FAQ section or page can save everyone time.
    • Favicon. A whaticon? See the little Snappy on your browser tab at the top of this page? That's the HostGator favicon. You can create a similar custom image for your site, to make it easier for users to pick out your site when they have multiple tabs open, and to create a more appealing bookmark.
    • E-commerce tools. If your site is your shop, you'll need to choose a shopping cart so customers can select your products, payment tools so they can checkout, and inventory management so you always know what's in stock, what's on backorder, and what's flying off your digital shelves.
    • Images and video. Your website builder should have a library of high-quality images you can use to create headers and backgrounds. You should also be able to select tools to embed HD video. That will allow you to feature tutorial, product, and customer review videos on your site instead of having your visitors click away to watch them on YouTube.
    • Social media. Want to share your thoughts, show off your merch, and drive traffic to your site? You'll be able to quickly link your social media accounts to your website. Site builder social media tools also make sharing from your site to your Facebook and other accounts a snap for you and your fans.
    • SEO and analytics. Getting found and learning more about your site visitors is easy with built-in tools for search-engine optimization and Google analytics integration.

    Ready to get started?

    HostGator's website builder can help you set up your new site today.
  • Why Having An SEO Optimized Website Is Important

    Monday, March 19, 2018 by
    why having a seo optimized website is important

    Why Having An SEO Optimized Website Is Important

    Making a website for your new business or blog is all fun and games until a marketing person asks about your SEO and SERP rankings. They ask because they care, but if you're new to selling or sharing online, you may not know exactly what SEO and its related terms mean or why they matter. SEO matters a lot, so let's take a look at why. Then you'll be able to ask your marketing friends for their tips on earning the featured answers box on SERPs, optimizing for voice search, and other stuff that's fun and games for them.  

    Defining SEO and SERPs

    SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a very precise way of saying you're doing all the right things to get found in searches that people do on Google, Bing, and other search engines. A SERP is a search engine results page, the screen full of links you get when you search for, say, "what does SERP mean?" SERP ranking refers to a site's position on that results page, the higher up the better. Now that we've defined our terms, let's look at why SEO matters so much.  

    SEO Helps People Find Your Website

    As of this writing, there are 1.8 billion sites on the web, and a new one goes live every second. Don't take that statistic as discouragement—the web is crowded because it's an effective way to reach people. Do take it as evidence that choosing your domain name, building your site, and posting your content are the first steps, not the only steps, to reaching your audience. How much does SEO matter? A few years ago, I watched a startup business without an SEO program fail to appear on the first SERP for the keywords that made up its domain and business names. The owner went to great lengths to choose the domain name according to all the best practices for search results: location + type of business. This person even named the business to align with the URL. It was a perfect choice and a minor miracle that the domain name was available, and with good SEO it should have been a lock for the top spot in search results. But there was no implementation of on-site SEO, no keywords included in the site copy, no link building. And no page one results—those all went to competitors with less-than-ideal names but strong SEO programs.  

    SEO Helps You Connect With Local Customers

    Connecting with an audience is vital for every site owner, especially those who also run brick-and-mortar shops or depend on local clients. SEO is a must for sites that cater to locals, because most local searches now happen on mobile phones, when the customer is ready to buy something. Appear in those search results, and you're likely to get traffic that converts. Don't rank well in those results, and you're invisible to your target customers. The relationship between local searches and mobile users is so important that Google is gradually shifting to a “mobile first” site index that will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results than sites that don't perform well on smartphones. And because most of us talk to our phones rather than key in search phrases, the mobile-local search trend is making voice-search keywords more important than before.  

    SEO Matters for SERP Rankings

    Earlier, I mentioned a business that failed to appear on the first SERP for its keywords. How much does showing up on the first page of search results really matter? Won't potential customers carefully review the first few pages of results before they decide who to contact? Overwhelmingly, the answers are “a lot” and “no.” First page rankings matter because most searchers don't look past the first page of results, but appearing on the first page isn't necessarily a golden ticket. That's because the site with the #1 position on a SERP gets about a third of all the traffic, with a marked decline for each position below it. The #6 site on a SERP can expect less than five percent of the traffic from that search. The higher your site ranks, the more traffic you'll see. If you run a local business, SEO can help you land the most coveted voice search position of all: zero. Zero's not nothing—it's the spoken answer searchers will hear after they ask their phone where the closest dog wash is, or where they can get their mascot suit dry cleaned in Houston. It's called zero because it comes from the answer box on the results page, not the list of URLs. Want to earn position zero? Work on implementing rich snippets as part of your SEO program.  

    SEO Best Practices Help Your Business Shine on Other Platforms

    Keeping up with current SEO practices is work, but it can pay off in ways beyond search rankings. As Pete Roesler wrote at Inc., “good SEO works on any searchable platform.”
    • If you cross-list your merchandise on marketplaces like Etsy or eBay, knowing how to research, refine, and use keywords can help you make more sales.
    • The same goes for marketing on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. People often search social media by keywords and hashtags for things they want to buy.
    • If you're a service provider, include your SEO keywords in your listings on professional and local business directory sites so people who need your expertise can find you.

    SEO Helps You Get the Most Value from Your Content

    Good content isn't cheap, even if you're creating it yourself. The time you take to write blog posts and product descriptions, shoot and edit photos, and create videos or podcasts is a real investment, and SEO can help it generate better returns. Rather than turn out content and hoping it goes viral, help it find the right audience by using the most relevant keywords. As your audience grows and comes to rely on your for, say, tutorial videos on furniture refinishing, you'll establish the kind of trust and authority that leads those people to seek out your online shop when they need refinishing products and supplies.  

    Good SEO Can Help You Refine Your Website's Direction

    A good ongoing SEO program can help your site by keeping your content and decision-making processes focused. For example, if visitors who convert are coming to your site through searches for “indoor herb garden lighting,” but the visitors who don't convert are arriving through searches for “herbal bath products,” you know where to focus your content and/or your product offerings. Setting up and maintaining your SEO program takes some time but it's critical to the success of your website. You can use our DIY guide to the basics of SEO to get started, and you can use the SEO tools that are included in the HostGator Website Builder. You can also save time by letting the experts at HostGator's SEO Services handle it for you. HostGator Website Builder