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Questions to ask about SEO

A website can be a very powerful marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses. An effective site helps smaller firms to reach out to a huge audience of potential new customers and take on bigger rivals.

However, the battle to be found online can be fierce, so if you want your small business website to be successful, you will need to look at search engine optimisation, or SEO as it’s commonly referred to.

With SEO becoming more complex and specialised, many small businesses look to outsource the work to an agency. But with so many practitioners and firms out there offering SEO services it can be tricky to find the reputable providers.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are the 5 questions you should ask an SEO agency before you think about hiring them.
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guide to content marketing

When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”.

There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business?

This guide answers those questions, and also offers useful, practical advice for businesses that are interested in developing a content marketing strategy of their own. Continue…

SEO has become an integral part of online marketing. If you want your business to be seen online, the general consensus is that SEO is absolutely essential.

Committing to a high quality SEO campaign can take up a lot of time and make demands on a startup’s budget that not everyone can meet. But seeking cheaper alternatives could mean you soon find yourself facing a Google penalty (the worst of which is your website being complete removed from their index), which can put your entire online presence in jeopardy.

The good news is that SEO need not always be a lengthy commitment and if you have some in-house capacity, it is possible to take on a large portion of the work yourself.

This in-depth guide explains what you can expect from a SEO campaign, and will help you determine if you can do some of the work yourself or whether you’ll be better off outsourcing everything from the start. Continue…

If you are starting your own business, you can’t hope to succeed in today’s commercial world without employing good, time-saving technology.

Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost, or even, free tools out there that help small businesses to do those everyday tasks that much quicker and simpler. But, faced with dozens of different tools, the biggest problem is usually trying to work out which one offers the best solution.

So to help small business owners find the best time and money-saving tech tools, we asked Martin Bailey, author of The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps, to share five of his favourite small business utilities that can give you the edge over your competition. Continue…

Ecommerce enjoyed a big year in 2015, with figures indicating that online retail sales in the UK topped £60 billion over the 12 months.

As consumers become increasingly comfortable with purchasing a wide range of products and services online, and with smartphone-based shopping expected to surge, the coming years are looking even brighter for e-tailers.

But, what does 2016 have in store for B2C ecommerce?

Following on from last year’s very popular 5 e-Commerce trend predictions for 2015 we’ve asked Ian Gordon of iWeb to take a look at the trends that will define the year ahead, and the opportunities that online retailers simply can’t afford to miss.

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It’s estimated that almost one in every three small businesses maintain their own website, and with that comes a whole host of potential challenges to overcome.

Alongside the usual cost of building a new website, getting the right designer and managing your hosting prices, there are other factors which many small business owners do not consider when managing or monitoring their website.

In fact, there are a number of common mistakes which SMEs often make, but which are easy enough to overcome.

Here are the seven errors we most often see with websites designed for startups and small businesses.
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For many small business owners, the term ‘digital marketing’ could very well generate a concerned or baffled look, and the temptation to turn around and hide in a darkened room.

As an established small business, or even someone setting up a new business, you might know all about offline marketing like posters and billboards, flyers and direct mail, and word-of-mouth advertising, but when it comes to promoting your business online, it’s unchartered territory.

So to help you safely navigate the online marketing landscape, conquer new marketing activities and promote your business in the digital world, here’s a small business guide to the basics of digital marketing; Continue…

2014 was a huge year for privacy and security on the Internet.

There were several high profile security issues which were serious enough to make the leap from technical news sites to the mainstream press, and ongoing revelations about how easily everyone’s connections can be spied on have made the major players in the web industry take action.

If you have an e-commerce website, given all the coverage around SSL and website security, now is a good time to check the security of your site, or to consider getting a site certificate if you don’t already have one. This guide explains all.
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The term mobile commerce is another digital marketing phrase which often gets thrown around. For many small businesses, it can certainly be difficult to understand the technologies and the benefits which m-commerce can bring to your company.

In this guide, we look at the basics of going mobile, how it can be profitable for your start-up or small business, and include some tips on what you need to look out for when taking your business into the world of mobile commerce.
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Year on year, the e-commerce industry continues to boom with more and more companies moving to the web.

The rapid pace of business is amplified online, with the proliferation of apps, new technologies and seemingly daily digital changes affecting how you operate.

Analysts and experts are always attempting to predict the latest trends and developments which could make the most difference to online retailers, so we’ve pulled together some of the most talked about, and hotly anticipated predictions for the e-commerce marketplace in 2015.

We’ve focused on the developments we think could affect your business the most in the next 12 months. Whilst some of these online retailing trends have been developing year on year, others may just be set to explode in 2015 Continue…

There’s nothing worse than being told by a customer that your website is not working. Or logging on yourself to check something, and finding the page you want to see is not displaying.

Website downtime can have a direct impact on your business and on your profits – particularly if you have an e-commerce website – so it’s important to know what you need to do if your website goes down.

Even the most robust websites suffer technical glitches happen, so the chances are you will experience it at some point. Often, it might only be down for a few minutes, as part of wider technical problems or updates to a global server.

But sometimes, there might be a specific problem with your website individually. If you do experience website downtime, here are the five things you should do;
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Most people think that to effectively promote their new business website, they need to do all the marketing work online.

In fact, that’s only half the story. Yes, driving traffic online is easier, as people are already using the medium. But there’s a lot of clutter online and standing out is hard. Promotional activity in the real world can be just as beneficial for publicising your new business website.
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A website is an essential tool for virtually every business starting up in the UK today.

Whereas just a few years ago it was a handy way of marketing your business if you had lots of time or money, websites have quickly grown to become a dominant force in attracting new business and retaining existing customers.
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If you still haven’t set up a website or blog for your small business, here are some ideas from the Bytestart team which may show why having an online presence is now essential rather than optional for most enterprises.
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One of the best ways to attract visitors to your website is by providing related sites with quality editorial relating to your subject area. Not only will this give you a chance to promote your service or business, but it can also indirectly aid your search engine promotion efforts via link popularity.
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The code that effectively created the world wide web, was put into the public domain by the Cern physics lab, based near Geneva back in 1993.

Its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, believes that the web is still in its infancy. That seems very true – but what a difference it has made to the way businesses market themselves. For someone starting a new business in the 21st Century, it’s hard to work out how firms reached customers efficiently in 1993.

Every business needs a website. And not just for the sake of having one. With a little investment of time and energy you can turn your website into a deadly selling tool, no matter what kind of business you have.

Bytestart has a series of suggestions to help you think differently about your website. And that’s followed with a checklist of five things your website must have.

Think sales sales sales

Too many business owners fail to realise that their website is as much a marketing tool as the brochures they spend thousands on, and must be cared for and measured accordingly. No business would put up with spelling errors and incorrect prices on printed brochures. Yet some let their website fester for years, full of mistakes and broken pages.

When getting a website built and putting systems in place to maintain it, you must treat it as a sales tool. Decide what the objective of the site it before it is built. Do you want to educate prospective customers and get them to pick up the phone? Or perhaps increase your client retention rate by using it as a customer support tool?

Work on it weekly

The biggest website crime is getting one set up and then abandoning it. You must spend time on your website weekly to get the most out of it. It doesn’t have to be long, but an hour a week will make a huge difference. Turn it into a habit by making it a Friday morning job, and keep a checklist of things that need to be changed. For most websites, continual tweaking of content will bring better results than huge “we must change everything” revamp projects.

When you get a website built ensure that you have the ability to update and change pages yourself. Your website company will need to give you a Content Management System (CMS) to do this. It could increase the price of your website build, but will prove most cost effective in the long-term than paying the company every time you want a change (and waiting a couple of days).

The devil’s in the detail

Web companies tend to be good at getting the big things right, such as the number of pages, design, accessibility etc – but really the most important part of a website is the detail. This means ensuring price lists are always 100% up-to-date, you remove or update information as it changes – not three months later – and ensure all contact details are up to date.

If you give free information on your website review it regularly to check it is still correct. You see your website every day and might become complacent with it. But prospective customers are seeing it for the first time every day and will form an opinion on your business from their experience with your website.

Easy interaction

The web is a one on one media, meaning you have an individual conversation with one person at a time. Your website must take advantage of this by making it easy for a visitor to interact the way they want to.

If they want to call, give them a phone number (if you run the business part-time get a call answering service to take messages). If they want to email or instant message make it easy. Hell, let them contact you by Facebook if that’s what they prefer. When you force potential customers down one route only (such as having to fill out a form) you could lose leads.

Track performance

You must be aware of how many people are visiting your website, where they come from, what they do while they’re there, and where they go next. If 50 per cent of people who land on your home page click off, ask yourself why. Are you successfully grabbing their attention in just a few seconds. Don’t pay for this information, Google Analytics is powerful and free.

Improve conversion rates

Once you know what visitors are doing, try some tweaks to see what happens. The key is to test and measure. Do little things, give them a week and then use analytics to see what impact they had.

Websites are quite predictable – if 10 per cent of all people who get to your products page will contact you, then increasing the number of visitors to that page by 1,000 will give you 100 new leads.

5 things your website must have

Finally, here’s a handy Bytestart checklist for the 5 essentials every website must have:

  1. A great domain name – preferably your business name, but “YourTownCarValeting.com” can also work
  2. A focus on your customer and their needs, rather than your product or service
  3. Easy site navigation
  4. Fresh content added regularly. Free information, articles or a blog are all good
  5. A way for customers to contact you easily