Web solutions for small business including websites, automation and landing pages. If you're a small business website owner who's totally confused about technology then the Small Business Websites Blog might be perfect for you.
Pick something that’s linked with your business. As an example, if your business name is Brenda’s Pet Shop, then the obvious thing is to go for brendaspetshop.com.
Get the “local” version of your domain name if you live outside the US, e.g. brendaspetshop.com.au if you’re in Australia. Why? Search engines will tend to rank local websites above .com websites in search results.
Consider variations of the domain name. As an example, brendaspets.com.au might be easier for people to remember than that full name. It’s also easier for people to type in an email address, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, when they’re sending you an email.
Check that the domain name is available. Use a reputable company to purchase your domain name through, e.g. Crazy Domains. If the domain name is NOT available, then check out our article on what you should do next.
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, go ahead and purchase it.
Have you ever locked down your business name only to find that someone already has your domain name? This can be super frustrating, especially after you’ve spent countless hours coming up with an uber creative name right?
Never fear. There are a number of options you can run with to get the right domain name for your business – we’ll take you through each one.
Option 1 – Find a variation of the domain name (easy)
It’s a domain name that someone would be happy to give up, e.g. bestconsultingaustralia.com.au. If it’s a domain name that’s highly competitive, e.g. consulting.com.au unfortunately you’ve probably got no chance.
Most domain registration services will allow you to put a domain back-order for around $10 per year.
Option 3 – Make the owner an offer (relatively easy)
Some people purchase domains only for them to sit there doing nothing. It could be that they once had a business idea with the same name that you’ve chosen for your business, but they never pursued the business. If you make a reasonable offer, e.g. $500, they might be willing to hand the rights over to your business. It’s always worth a shot.
Option 4 – Dispute the domain name (expensive)
If you feel that you definitely have a legal right to that domain name, then you can go down the path of disputing the domain name.
A dispute can cost anywhere from $2,000 up to $4,500, depending on how many people you want involved in the hearing.
A perfect example of this would be cocacola.com.au. They would be highly likely to win a dispute. Why? The name is trademarked in Australia, they’re already setup in Australia and they’re a recognised brand.
You might also win a hearing if someone has your business domain name, but not your business name. This can happen when:
They bought the domain because they thought it was a cool domain name
They were planning to start a business with your business name one day
They once had a business under your business name but no longer use it
Your likely to win the case when you can prove:
The domain name is the same or similar to your name, trademark or service mark
The have no rights or interests in the domain name – e.g. it’s sitting there doing nothing
You can prove that they purchased the domain name in “bad faith”, e.g. they purchased cocacola.com.au because they know it’s worth a lot of money
Our advice is to run with this option if you’ve sought out legal advice and they’re at least 80% certain that you’ll win the case and you’ve got at least $5,000 to $15,000 (including legal fees) to gamble on winning.
Otherwise, consider Option 1 as your best option.Find
Are you trying build your first business website?
Our step by step guide could be the thing you’ve been searching for. This extensive guide will help you create your first website faster, easier, cheaper and do it the RIGHT way!
Have you ever wondered whether your website is producing the right results for your business? How do even measure something like that?
This simple five step process will help you setup and measure goals for your website – and it all starts with working backwards.
Step 1: How much do you want to grow your business this year
We recommend using on a monetary value based on sales revenue and a growth percentage. As an example, if your business generated $5 million in sales last year, and you want to grow it by 10% – you’d be setting a goal of $500,000 in increased sales this year. Write down this number as you’ll be using it in the next step.
Step 2: How much does each new client bring to your business
Now take a look at how much revenue each new client brings in. An average value across all your clients will work best. Let’s estimate that each client brings in $25,000 to your business.
Step 3: How many sales per month do you need
So far, based on the above figures, you want to bring in an additional $500k into your business, with each client bringing in $25k. This means you’ll need an additional 20 clients this year, which is approximately 2 clients per month from your website. The assumes that all your other sales processes don’t change – i.e. you want the additional 20 clients per year purely from your website.
Step 4: How many leads do you need
Let’s jump to your sales conversion ratios now. Based on your past history, how many leads does it take to create a single client? Let’s work on an average of a 33% conversion ratio. This means that you’ll need 6 leads per month to convert into the goal of the 2 clients per month.
Step 5: How many website visitors do you need
The final step is to look at the number of website visitors it takes to generate the 6 leads per month. Let’s say that on average it takes 10 website visitors to generate a single lead. This means that you’ll need 60 quality website visitors per month to generate the 6 leads per month.
The final website goal
Hopefully by now you’ve got some figures you want work towards. Based on the above example, your goal will be:
60 quality visitors per month, that creates 6 leads, which in turn results in 2 paying clients of approximately $25k in new business each.
Whilst the above process gives you something to work towards with your website, there side goals that you can create. Checkout this list for ideas:
New leads for nurturing. As an example, you might have a goal of generating 100 new leads per month that you can send blog posts, tips and tricks and your monthly newsletter to. These might end up as clients in 6-12 months, when they’re ready to purchase your services.
Sharing content. As an example, you might have a goal that every blog post is shared on social media to at least 1000 people, with over 100 likes and comments. This gives social signals to Google to help improve your search ranking.
Back links. Back links from important websites will help give your website credibility – and therefore show up higher in search results. A goal of two back links might be a great starting point.
How to achieve your goals
Now that you’ve got a goal to generate 60 quality visitors per month, you can start to focus on how to bring those visitors to your website.
Once you’ve done your research, you can kick off some inbound marketing strategies. Here’s a few ideas:
Google Adwords. This is a great way to send highly targeted traffic to your website – especially if you capture those visitors at the right time, e.g. they’ve got a problem and they’re Googling for a solution.
Social Media promotions. Social media can be great for ad-hoc promotions, e.g. an end of financial year special or a free offer that you’re wanting to get out there. If you’ve got a strong social media following, then this option can give you some quick wins.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is a longer term strategy but it can have some great pay-offs. If your business ranks well for a search term, it can bring in loads of free website traffic.
WordPress now has a tool (technically it was partly available in the previous version) that gives you feedback on your website’s health.
This tool covers the basics, including:
The size of the files in your website
The status of the technical framework
Is your site using a secure connection
Are automatic updates switched on
As WordPress web developers, we delve much deeper into a site’s health, but the above gives you a quick snapshot of your WordPress setup.
If you have upgraded to WordPress 5.2 you can access your website’s health by navigating to Tools > Site Health.
The screen will show you any test results that need to be addressed. A word of warning! Don’t aim for 100%. A perfectly healthy site could easily sit at 70%. We recommend speaking to your web developer about the results that this screen is displaying.
Death of “The White Screen of Death”
This is the best feature of the new version of WordPress. Basically, if your website ends up with code that breaks the site, it’ll still run the site to some extent.
In the old days, if you had broken code on your website – it would display a blank, white screen – the so called “white screen of death”.
The latest version of WordPress attempts to still run the site but display a web page that says the site is down for maintenance. This page can be customised with the help of a web developer.
Once again, in previous versions if your site was broken – nobody could access it unless they code access to the website code. The new version has a clever way of alerting the site administrator, and then giving them access so they can attempt to rectify the website. Hopefully the days of a completely broken site are gone.
A word of warning though! We’re a bit dubious about the security risks of this feature. We’ll be doing more research on this.
In previous versions of WordPress, there was a security hole where someone could pretend to be the official WordPress website – i.e. if your website did an automatic update, it would grab the code from their dodgy website rather than the official WordPress website.
The new version seems to have plugged up this security hole – so automated WordPress updates should be guaranteed to only come from the official WordPress website.
The verdict: should you upgrade to WordPress 5.2?
Our take on any new release of WordPress is to let everyone else update their website first then update yours a few days later. The only time we recommend an update is if there’s a genuine security threat.
This version of WordPress has a couple of great new features. Unless you absolutely MUST have them we recommend holding off an upgrade to WordPress 5.2 until the end of May, 2019.
The Google search engine basically exists to help people search for information. As an example, I might type into Google “how to bake a cheesecake” (I love cheesecake!!). I expect, that after I type this question into Google that I’ll see a list of the web pages that will help me bake a cheesecake. I also expect, that the first few in the list are the best web pages.
Google wants to be the best of the best at providing this service – i.e. if the quality of the search results started to drop, I’d probably look for information somewhere else – e.g. ask on Facebook.
Google takes a few criteria into account when it chooses the pages to show in the list. Here’s a shortlist:
Do people spend a long time when they view your web page?
Do people look at other pages once they’ve reached your web page?
Do people share your web page on social media?
Do other reputable websites link to your web page?
Has your website been around for a long time?
Is your website in the same location, e.g. City, Country as the person who’s searching?
Is your website mobile friendly?
Is your website fast?
Is your website secure?
When you type in your search query, Google weighs your web page against all the other web pages on the planet, based on the above criteria. It then makes a decision on whether your web page should be shown on page 1, page 2 or page 1,000.
How does Google learn about your website?
Google runs a process called “crawling”. This where it learns about new websites, changes in websites and follows links from other websites. When your website was first built, hopefully your web person set it up so that Google finds it easier to learn about your website.
Something else that should have been setup by your web person is setting up Google Analytics on your site. This is where Google gathers more information about how your site is performing.
A couple of years ago we started getting enquiries about Insightly CRM consulting and training. Back then, we had a few lines on our website talking about our websites linking up with Insightly. That was it – literally a few words on our website.
What we didn’t realise though, was that Google linked us up with the topic of Insightly in its search engine. We typed in “insightly australia” into Google and we found out that we were in the first couple of search results, on page 1. We were pretty shocked but realised that there was only one other company in Australia who offered Insightly services. We’d accidentally found a niche.
Since then we’ve grown this side of our business and optimised our website. Most of the time, were in the first 2-3 search results when someone types in Insightly Training, Insightly Consulting or Insightly Australia into Google.
What does this mean for your business?
You might be excited to know that there’s probably highly specialised areas of your business that you can rank on page 1 of Google for. As an example, most accounting firms will setup their website to be on page 1 for “Accounting North Sydney”. There’s dozens on other business trying to do the same thing, so it’s highly competitive.
BUT – how many of those businesses are setting up their website for “Xero advice North Sydney”? At the time of writing this post – there were none. A smart business will look for gaps in the market and leverage that.
How do you get onto page 1 of Google?
I could write a whole thesis on this but here are the basic principles:
Write LOADS of blog content that’s really useful to people – i.e. the people you want to visit your website
Share your blog content on social media to get feedback on what people think of it
In our experience, it takes around 3 months to build a professional website for an established business. Here’s the major website milestones.
Weeks 1 – 2: The Planning and Research Stage
At this stage of the project, you’ll be working with your web agency to plan and research the following. We recommend a couple of face to face meetings to nut out all of these. ONLY continue to the next stage after this has been completed.
What do you want the website to achieve for your business?
What’s your budget for the website?
Who’s your target audience?
What stage of the buying cycle is your target audience at?
What are at least three websites that you like and why do you like them?
What pages will you want on the website? We recommend starting with the following:
Individual Services pages
Individual Blog pages
How will traffic get to the website? We recommend researching the following:
Organic (unpaid) traffic
Showing up in search engine results – what types of searches do you want each web page to show up in? This will drive the direction for the
Promoting via social media – which social media platforms does your IDEAL target market hang out in?
Monthly email newsletters – how big is your email database and which segment is likely to purchase from you?
Networking – what types of networking events are the best for you to attend?
What platforms are you going to advertise on? e.g. Google Adwords, Facebook Ads etc.
How much are you willing to spend each day?
How much are you willing to pay for each lead? We recommend tracking everything including Cost Per Click and your conversion percentage for each stage of the nurture / buying cycle
At what point will do turn on / turn up / turn down or turn off a paid campaign?
Where will the website be hosted? Will the updated site require more powerful hosting?
Where are you going to source the images and videos for the website from?
What are you going to do about the words on the website:
Write it yourself
Write it yourself and get a professional to jazz it up
Get a professional to research and write content that helps your website achieve its goals.
Are there significant events in your business / marketplace / industry that require the new website to be running by a particular date?
Who’s going to be responsible for each component of the website.
Who’s going to be available during each stage of the website?
Weeks 3 -5: The Design Stage
At this stage of the project your web agency will be designing what the new website will look like. We recommend the following approach:
Design wireframes to get a high level feel for:
What things will need to be displayed on each page
Where things will be placed on each page – for desktop, tablet and mobile devices
How each component works on each page, e.g. the Services page only includes a filtered set of testimonials and blog posts that are relevant to that service
Design the home page of the site.
Only when the home page has been signed off, design the look for other major pages on the website, e.g.
The Services listing page
An individual services page
A “standard” content page
Sign off the each of the above designs.
Once you’re happy with the design of the new website, the web agency will move into the next stage. Keep in mind that you’ll want to be pretty sure on the design of the site as changes usually incur a cost – especially if the next stage has already been kicked off.
Weeks 6 – 10: The Content and Development Stage
In this stage, the site gets converted from the design to a real, live and functioning website. Each of the following components normally runs in parallel.
The Content Writing Component
This component is where the text for the website is written. A professional content writer will be your best option for this component as they’ll do their due diligence and research SEO keywords and phrases based on your ideal target market. From this research, they’ll write text on your website that sells – i.e. when your ideal target market jumps onto a page on your website – they’ll feel like the content has been written just for them. Ideally, that website visitor will choose your business to do business with.
The Imagery and Videography Component
This component is one that’s critically important for the success of a website. We’ve seen some pretty amazing website designs fall completely flat because the business chose to use cheap stock images or take their own photos on an old iPhone.
The best option for this component is to have a sit down session with your agency where they offer their advice on what images to select and where they should go on the website.
We also highly recommend using a professional photographer to bring in your own imagery that’s unique to your business.
The Development Component
This component is where the developers / coders convert the website design into a live website. Ideally, they’ll be building the website in a way that’s easy to use for your business, it’s fast, it looks the same as the original designs and it looks great on all devices. The developers should also be taking into account things like the structure of the site to help with SEO and making sure the website is secure.
We recommend a weekly update from the development team so you can view the website as it’s being built.
Weeks 11 – 12: The Testing Stage
This stage kicks off after the site’s been built. It’s the stage that needs a least a couple of weeks in the project plan. We recommend:
The site gets tested by the agency first.
The agency hands over to your business for testing. We recommend that you get a testing document from the web agency to help you with testing.
There’s a tracking document where you can type in any bugs that you’ve found on the site and track how they agency is going with each bug. This document is also useful after the website has gone live in case other people find bugs with the site as well.
End of Week 12: The Go Live Stage
Once the site has been fully tested and all the bugs have been ironed out, it’s time to flick the switch and make the website live. We recommend an official message from your business to the agency to give them the green light.
The go live process can take anything from a few minutes to a few hours. It’s always worth investigating whether your live site will be off-line whilst the new website is going live. If so, is the agency able to make the new website live in the middle of the night when there’s less traffic or do they have another technique up their sleeve.
Week 12+: The Maintenance and Growth Stage
As far as we’re concerned – this is the most exciting part of a website project. This is where you get to monitor how the website is performing in relation to the original website goals. Ideally, after around 90 days you’re starting to see some real progress with your new website and your business is starting to experience additional growth.
Are you wanting to do something a bit more technical with Zapier and Insightly?
Zapier Web Hooks could be the answer.
Why use Zapier Webhooks?
Zapier Webhooks allow you to connect to the core of any cloud application, i.e. it’s API. This is perfect if you’re trying to do something out of the box with the Zapier and Insightly integration but are finding that you just don’t have the functionality you need.
A perfect example of this is automatically creating a Contact, Organization and Opportunity within Insightly. Out of the box, you can’t connect them together unless you log into Insightly and manually link them.
The Insightly API, however allows you to automatically link them together.
What are Zapier Webhooks?
The Webhooks allow you to dig into the nitty gritty of any cloud application. In essence, they allow you to do things as if you’re logged into the application using your web browser.
How to connect the Zapier Webhooks to the Insightly API
We have to warn you, this topic is pretty deep so if you don’t have programming experience, you might want to get your web developer to do this part.
Get your Insightly API key. To do this, login to Insightly, click your profile icon in the top right hand corner, and click the User Settings link. This screen has the API key in it. NOTE: Make sure you’ve logged into Insightly with a user who has enough permissions. A user with restricted permissions will have restricted functionality in the next steps. A full admin user is the best.
Jump into your Zapier Zap. Ideally you’ve already got one setup with a trigger.
Click the ‘Add a Step’ link within your Zap.
Click the Action/Search icon.
Start typing in ‘Webhooks’ in the search bar.
Click the ‘Webhooks by Zapier’ option when it shows.
Select one of the following options:
Put – use this option if you’re adding new data to Insightly, e.g. adding a new Link or a new Contact.
Post – use this option if you’re updating existing data, e.g. updating a Contact’s email address.
Get – use this option if you’re pulling data out of Insightly, e.g. getting a list of Custom Fields for an Organization.
Enter the link to the Insightly API into the URL field. This will be something like https://api.insightly.com/v3.0/Opportunities/. A reference list is available in the Insightly API documentation.
Update the URL field to include values from previous steps. As an example, if you had created a new Opportunity in a previous step and needed to link a contact to that Opportunity, then:
Add https://api.insightly.com/v3.0/Opportunities/ to the URL field.
Click the + button in the right hand side of the field.
Select the step that the Opportunity was created in.
Click the down arrow to expand that step. It will show you all the fields you can use.
Click on the Opportunity ID field. This means that the URL will always include the Opportunity ID of the Opportunity that was created in the previous step.
This will now have something like this in the URL field: https://api.insightly.com/v3.0/Opportunities/214567
Add /Links to the end of the URL. It will now look something like this https://api.insightly.com/v3.0/Opportunities/214567/Links If you ready the Insightly API documentation, this is how it adds links to an existing Opportunity.
Change the Payload Type to Json. This is the best format to talk to the Insightly API with.
Add the Data parameters. This is the data that you’re wanting to send to Insightly, e.g. the email address that you’re updating.
Scroll down to the Basic Auth section. This is the section that controls the permissions to login to Insightly.
Use the API key here, with the | symbol at the end. Insightly requires a Base64-encoded username, leaving the password blank (no need to encode the API key, Zapier does this for you). The value will be something like: 61a8abcd-0123-45ab-47c8-9123456d07ba|
Click the [Continue] button.
Click the [Send test to Webhooks by Zapier] button. If all is well, Zapier will display a green section at the top of the page and Insightly will display a result.
What to do if the Webhooks for Zapier and Insightly integration aren’t working?
Yes, the above steps are pretty tricky, even for a seasoned technical person. But luckily, there’s a few steps you can follow:
Confirm your API key is correct and you have no password in step 12. Also, confirm you have the pipe symbol ‘|’ at the end of your API key.
Click the error if one’s displayed in Zapier. This will help you understand whether it’s a 400… 404 error.
Use a program like Postman. This program allows you to run Json API calls that you can debug. It’s simple to download and setup and can save hours of stuffing around in Zapier trying to get all the data right.
In the past 12 months we’ve all experienced some of the giants in the industry’s services drop off:
Oct 2018 – YouTube was down for a couple of hours
March, 2019 – Facebook was down for a couple of days
March, 2019 – YouTube’s filter function doesn’t work
What’s the filter function do?
The YouTube filter function allows you to search videos and filter them based on the following:
The length of the video, e.g. longer than 20 minutes
When the video was uploaded to YouTube, e.g in the past month
The quality of the video, e.g. HD
This means you could search for all videos about ‘how to make the perfect cake’ that are short (less than 4 minutes), are in high definition and have been released in the past 12 months – i.e. they’re the latest.
Why did YouTube turn the filter off?
The official answer from Google is that the filter was turned off in response to the terrible events that happened in New Zealand a few days ago.
How do you fix it yourself?
If you really, really need to have the filtering option – do your searches from Google and use their filtering engine. It’s not as pretty as the YouTube search but it does the trick.
Watch the video below to learn more about the broken YouTube filter and how to fix it.
YouTube filter not working workaround and fix - YouTube
If you were born in the 1980’s or earlier, you probably remember life without the World Wide Web. Back then we went to the library to learn how to build a cubby house, we opened the yellow pages to find a local plumber and we sent letters in the mail to communicate with our overseas friends.
Well, in 1989 all that changed. A man by the name of Tim Berners Lee invented a programming language, HTML. This language allowed documents to be linked together on the Internet.
Tim also wrote the first Web Browser back in 1990. This meant that instead of geeks sitting at terminals typing words into a computer screen to access – people could now see images and click on things with their mouse to navigate around the Internet. It was now accessible to everyone.
What? The Internet was invented before the World Wide Web?
The first working version of the Internet was up and running in the 1960’s. It was originally setup to help the US Department of Defense solve a problem – how do you guarantee that computers can still communicate with each other in the case of a nuclear attack?
The Internet was setup so that if a single line of communication was broken, then there’s multiple other lines that those computers can use to communicate with each other. It’s a bit like getting in the car and driving from one end of your country to the other. If a single highway was shut down due to an accident, there’s detours you can take to still get to your destination.
The World Wide Web uses the Internet to get information from a web server – a physical computer with a website on it – back to your computer.
What was the World Wide Web like back in the 90’s?
Back in the 1990’s websites were written by people who knew how to code. People charged a fortune to build a company’s website and they looked awful.
If you’re curious about what they used to look like then check out these popular websites on The Wayback Machine. As an example, this is what the Apple website looked like back in 1997.
The Apple website, 1997
Since then things have come a long, long way. Businesses have got smart and handed over their websites to their marketing and sales departments, knowing that it’s normally the first port of call for an organisation and it’s a way to bring in new amazing clients into their organisation.
Significant Events Since the 1990’s1997 – Virtual Reality hits the World Wide Web
Who remembers VRML? Well, unfortunately it was waaay ahead of its time. Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) was created to allow websites to give people a 3D experience in real time.
Back in the mid to late 90’s we used search engines like Yahoo or Alta Vista to find websites. These days – you ‘Google it’.
2003 – WordPress starts blogging
WordPress powers at least 32% of all websites. Back in 2003 it was a simple platform that allowed people to write – whether you were a traveller sharing your experience or a home cook wanting to share a recipe – WordPress provided the platform to do that.
Fact: Google still favours business who blog to help people
2004 – Facebook is born
Where would Social Media be without this giant? Before these guys existed, everyone either emailed each other or jumped onto chat forums.
2005 – YouTube kicks off
Want to know how to do something? You jump onto YouTube. There’s always someone who’s shared their knowledge.
Fact: YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet!
2007 – The first iPhone (15 years after the first smartphone)
IBM released a smartphone in 1992. Unfortunately, it was large an cumbersome and considered a luxury item.
The iPhone changed all of that!
What’s to come?
We’ve analysed trends that are happening in the web industry and feel that this is in store.
Google’s voice search has been around since 2011. The rise of home devices that recognise speech has resulted in a significant shift in the way that we provide information for potential clients.
Stay tuned for massive changes in this sector of the coming years.
There’s a trend these days of using smart, automated chat ‘bots’ that provide customer service and sales support. These appear on websites and social media chats.
Will this result in a better World Wide Web experience?
Imagine jumping on a clothing website and seeing what their clothes look like on you without actually touching them. This is what augmented reality can do for you.
Trying on clothes without touching them... Augmented Reality is on the rise
The World Wide Web has come a long, long way since the mid 1990’s. It’s brought along significant social change, it’s helped small business launch with almost zero investment and it’s changed our expectations of customer support.
Unfortunately, it’s helped to facilitate new issues such as bullying on social media, the rise of the Dark Web and we’re willing to hand over our deepest secrets to organisations that ask for them.
Today Tim Berners Lee called for a return to the original intentions of the World Wide Web – helping us connect together and providing an enhanced experience when dealing with business.
What part is your business playing to help humanity get back on track?