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How to Draw Qualified Customers to your Website

Today’s online marketplace has become a Mecca for high end and expensive graphic design. Many are spending thousands on the professionally designed websites and countless hours on focusing on what and how they will sell online:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Ad Sense marketing
  • Storefronts
  • Forums
  • Click bank

The problem is that you can have the greatest looking website known to man, or you can have the greatest product since sliced bread, but if you fail to connect with your visitors and customers, the effort is wasted.

In this short blog post we aim to discuss some basic ways to get you thinking about how to draw and engage qualified customers to your website.

Remember: Business is Built Around People

Don’t get us wrong. It is necessary to put careful thought into building your web presence, such as:

  • What should the site look like?
  • Where should you promote your site?
  • What do you want to sell?
  • What other information should go on your website?

But the most important factor in the equation is understanding who you will sell to and how you can reach them. Ask yourself the questions:

  • What do they need?
  • What do they want?
  • How can you give them valuable information?
  • What do you need to say to get them to buy your products?

To help answer these questions you will also need to know who your visitors are, what is their age demographic, what are the buying trends in their age group, what is their education level and so on. These factors will help you better understand their needs and wants and how they perceive value from your website and products.

Skip the Design, You Must Act (UACT)

You must find a way to connect emotionally with people. Look at your site and follow the basic UACT acronym:

  • Can visitors UNDERSTAND what is being said?
  • Do visitors get the ANSWERS they need?
  • Is your information CREDIBLE?
  • Why would someone TRUST this site?

Help Others First, Help Yourself Second

If you are trying to build an online business, you need to first understand your people as established above. Next you need to help your visitors or customers:

  • Help your people get what they are looking for.
  • Help your people find information, services and products they want.
  • Help answer your people’s questions.

Essentially, HELP make their life easier.

Remember, you will be talking to people who want an easy to understand yet well thought out solution. If they wanted a long winded dry answer they would look up an encyclopedia for their answer. If they wanted a shallow answer they would have gone to eHow.com.

Your visitors want an answer from an expert who understands their needs. So speak to your people in their language.

Don’t Forget to Connect With the Visitor

No I don’t mean “connect” in an emotional way.

I mean physically connect as in you need to first get the new visitor to your website – even if they don’t even know you exist. This can come through many online marketing channels including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click advertising (ex. Google AdWords) and creative branding and interactions through Social Media.

Once you connect with your people you can build your store. Business is built by people. People need to trust you. You must show you are Credible and they need to understand what you say.

Key Takeaways for Success

So what is the number one way to draw qualified people to your website or online market? Focus on your people.

  • Develop a campaign that speaks to them.
  • Build your business around your target market’s needs, desires, questions, fears and interests.
  • Create your web content around your customer and the solution for your customer.

Once you have this, you will know where your people are looking for help; you will know how to design to speak to your people, and your website will organically grow.

Are your struggling with a website that doesn’t speak to your people? Call our consultants at 888-262-6687 and get going in the right direction.

The ideas in this article have been adapted from Lisa Irby’s YouTube video UGH! Why So Many Sites Never Earn $$$.  

Do You Own Your Own Website?

One of the most important questions you need to ask when getting a new website is “Do I have full rights to this website?”

You may think the obvious answer is YES but you’d be surprised with the fine print of some of the DIY and low cost website alternatives out there.

A few months ago we wrote the article “Are You Held Hostage by Your Website?” in which we discuss three main ways you may be controlled by your website, including licensed websites.

Today I want to discuss the topic of licensed websites in more detail. A licensed website means that the web designer or host or software owns the code for your site and you use a monthly or yearly fee to use it. This is like renting a house – when you decide to move on you don’t own anything and you don’t have any equity built up to show for all your months of payments.

The two main questions I want to address today that will hopefully give you a better understanding of whether you need to “own your own website” are:

  1. What makes licensed websites so attractive?
  2. What’s in the fine print (“terms of use”)?

What Makes Licensed Websites So Attractive?

Today, everywhere you look you can find ads and app resources promising you a free or almost free website that will bring you instant success. You can quickly build these user friendly sites, or you can give the information you want put on the website and it will all be done for you. After all, these type of websites promise to be affordable, simple and fast and will help you to:

  • Stand out from the competition
  • Increase your sales
  • Bring in more customers
  • Support your brand

However as we discuss in our article Benefits of SEO Web Design vs DIY Websites there are several common disappointments in a licensed or DIY website ownership:

  • Looks cookie cutter, unprofessional or poorly branded
  • Constricted to what you can edit
  • Doesn’t show up in Google Search results despite the promise of being “SEO Friendly”
  • Other websites look the same as yours
  • Time spent on the website is much more than you anticipated
  • Prices that add up or increase over time.

You may be thinking, “When should you choose a licensed website?” There are a few situations where it may make sense for you, such as:

  • The website is only needed for a short period of time.
  • It is a temporary website to use until you can afford to design the final version.
  • The code or design required is so complex it would be too expensive or impossible to build on your own.

Reading the Fine Print on Licensed Websites

Before you sign any type of contract you’d read the fine print- and buying a website is no different.

Example 1: YellowPages 360 Solution

Advertising departments know the high (and often increasing cost) of traditional YellowPage ads as well as the fact that people are no longer using a physical phone book to look up businesses. YellowPages 360 is a more affordable solution that helps small businesses get listed online with a customized website or profile.

The website can be turnkey or customized, crafted to send out a branded message to everyone searching for you. It sounds great but here are some fine print details from YPG Terms of Use:

5. License.

By posting, uploading or submitting any information, material or content to this Site, you automatically grant (or automatically warrant that the owner of the rights to such material or content has expressly granted) YPG a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license throughout the world to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, create derivative works from, publish, translate, license, transmit, distribute and otherwise exploit any or all portions of such information, material or content in any manner and media and by means of any technology now known or hereafter developed. In addition, you hereby irrevocably waive all moral rights in any such information, material or content posted, uploaded or submitted by you.

9. Copyright.

All Content published on or otherwise accessible through this Site is protected by copyright. The Content, and the copyright in the Content, are owned or controlled by YPG or YPG’s content suppliers. You may only use or reproduce the Content for your own personal and non-commercial use. The Content may not be otherwise used, reproduced, broadcast, published or retransmitted without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. You must abide by all copyright notices, information and restrictions contained in any Content on or accessed through this Site and maintain such notices in the Content.

Source: http://www.ypg.com/en/legal-notice

Example 2: Squarespace

Squarespace makes it easy to design your own website! Just select a template (you can switch at any time), start a free trial (no credit card is required) and then get a free domain.

 1. What We Own

All material and services available on the Site, and all material and services provided by or through Squarespace, its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, licensors or other commercial partners including, but not limited to, software, all informational text, software documentation, design of and “look and feel,” layout, photographs, graphics, audio, video, messages, interactive and instant messaging, design and functions, files, documents, images, or other materials, whether publicly posted or privately transmitted as well as all derivative works thereof (collectively, the “Materials”), are owned by us or other parties that have licensed their material or provided services to us, and are protected by copyright, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property laws…

3. What You Provide to Us

You are legally responsible for all information, data, text, software, music, sound, photographs, graphics, video, messages or other materials uploaded, posted or stored in connection with your use of the Services (“Content”).  Squarespace is not responsible for your Content.  You hereby grant Squarespace a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to host and use the Content in order to provide you with the Services and hereby represent and warrant that you have all the rights necessary to grant us such license.  You are responsible for any Content that may be lost or unrecoverable through your use of the Services.  You are encouraged to archive your Content regularly and frequently. 

4. Giving Us Access to Other Accounts and Services

Some of our Services may require you to give us access to or require you to provide login information and password information for accounts or services you may have with third party providers.  When you provide this information to us or give us access to these third party accounts you agree that you have read all contracts and written agreements governing such access, login information and passwords and that you have all the necessary contractual and legal rights to give us such access, login information and passwords.

12. Termination

d. Notice of termination of Services by Squarespace may be sent to the contact e-mail associated with your account. Upon termination, Squarespace has the right to delete all data, files, or other information that is stored in your account.

Source: http://www.squarespace.com/terms-of-service/

Where is this information?

A link to preview the fine print is typically in the footer of their website listed under “Legal” or “Terms of Use”. If you are in doubt ask a customer service representative before buying:

  • Can I take my content if I cancel?
  • Can I transfer the domain to myself if I cancel?
  • What is your cancellation procedure?
  • What will I need to provide for the website?

Help is available

If you haven’t already, read through our Website Hostage article and let us take you through the ramifications of not owning your site or domain name. We’ll also help you understand what you can do to protect your business from the dilemma of a contract domain.

A 1st on the List Consultant is ready to work towards the independent ownership of your site. When we set up your website – you own it.  Our goal is to create a web presence that is uniquely yours – owned by you, directed by you and paying you.  Check out our website design information.

Time to Count the Cost

Yes there is a cost in paying someone to design your website just the way you want it. Your site will take time to rebuild, and because the old content is owned by your host, it will need to be rebuilt. That takes time.

But consider the cost of your own time spent on DIY websites and the cost of not owning your website down the road. For a closer look costs check out our SEO Marketing Budget article to get a good idea of work that goes into “fixing” websites and the average costs involved.

If you still have questions regarding your website give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 or send us an email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

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Why SEO and User Experience are Two Peas in a Pod

One of the major themes in the last couple years in the SEO industry that is now critical to the success of every website is User Experience.

Google says their goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience (source).Think about it. Google wants to be the best Search Engine. To be the best they need to give the best results. And who determines the best results? Users.

In the last couple years Google has begun integrating several User Experience factors into their algorithm. What grade would your website get for User Experience and more importantly, is User Experience helping or hindering your rankings?

What is User Experience?

In general terms, User Experience (also referred to as UX) is a person’s behavior, attitude and emotions towards a particular product, system or service. In the case of your website it is how a person interacts with your website.

Essentially User Experience is about ensuring your visitors find value in what your website provides. According to Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb model  a person can derive value in several ways. When applied to Google’s user experience factors in their algorithm, Morville’s model looks like this:

  • Findable – Can they find you in the Search Engines?
  • Useful – Do they find what they look for?
  • Desirable – Is it what they want?
  • Credible – Do they trust the information on your website?
  • Accessible – Do the pages load fast enough? Can they click through pages to find the information they need?
  • Usable – Do all the features including contact forms and links work?

What’s the connection between your website’s User Experience and SEO?

The example of a dating website comes to mind. A website like eHarmony or Match.com does a good job in getting you “found” by eligible individuals who meet your criteria. Once the site connects you with these people it is your job to court the individual, offer experiences and provide meaningful exchanges.

In the same way SEO helps you connect with qualified potential customers who are seeking what you offer. Once they arrive on your site (the “first date”) you need to offer something the visitor can’t find elsewhere. You need to impress. You need to keep them coming back for more dates.

Here is a helpful SEO and User Experience Chart to help you further understand the interaction:

SEO Role

  1. Improve quality of traffic.
  2. Target keywords searched by specific personas.
  3. Turn searchers into visitors.
  4. Connect searchers with what they are looking for.

User Experience Role

  1. Turn traffic into conversions ($).
  2. Design website to appeal to each persona.
  3. Engage visitors enough so they return.
  4. Help searchers solve the problem behind their search.

Best Website User Experience Tips

Ready to improve user experience on your website and promote your brand in the best light? Start with some of these easy tips …

  1. Make sure your navigation is easy to use.
  2. Make sure your website displays properly and is functional on all devices – including mobile devices and tablets.
  3. Make sure the pages on your website load fast (Google recommends less than 2 seconds).
  4. Create high quality content your visitor will want to read, and can’t find elsewhere.
  5. Organize the information on your site so it is structured and well presented.
  6. Add trust factors such as testimonials, awards and memberships.
  7. Keep your products and services information up to date.

Start Improving Website Experience Today!

Although high level tracking and analytics can greatly improve the usability of your website there are other affordable options to help you get started in assessing your website’s usability:

  • Look at industry leader websites. These companies have likely spent thousands if not hundreds of thousands on perfecting their website. What themes do you see? What can you apply to your website?
  • Ask friends, family members and even customers for their input on your website. Ask them to perform simple tasks on your website or browse through pages for 5-10 minutes. They will likely have a list of feedback for you.
  • Read web design and marketing blogs. There is a lot of research out there that proves certain design concepts, layouts and website structure. Trust the numbers!

If you are still lost, give us a call at 1-888-262-6687. We can provide an SEO and User Experience Website Evaluation to help improve your website in respect to both SEO and User Experience! We also offer A/B split testing to improve conversion rates and user experience on your website.

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Do You Have a Set and Forget Outdated Website Design?

Do you remember these infomercials for the Showtime Rotisserie?

SET IT AND FORGET IT.

The tagline is pretty genius for marketing an easy to use kitchen appliance. But are you using the” Set It and Forget It” mantra for your website?

If you built your website years ago and think it’s still good enough chances are you have an outdated website on your hands. Outdated website design, features and content could be costing you a hefty price in lost customers and missed opportunity.

Businesses keeping their websites current to today’s SEO standards and current with user trends and expectations are reaping the rewards.

Here are a number of key indicators that your website falls into the “set it and forget it” trap. Is it time to upgrade your web presence and get your website working for your company again?

  • You have a blog but its newest entry is over a year old.
  • You have outdated website content that advertises products or services that are no longer offered.
  • Your site is missing many of your newest products and services.
  • Your site still uses outdated website design features such as flash or animated graphics from the 1990’s.
  • Your site is clunky and unusable on a mobile phone.
  • Your site doesn’t really tell the visitor what you do or why they should choose you over your competition.
  • Your site loads an automated introduction that must play before the visitor can get to the homepage.
  • Your site uses stock photography rather than actual images of your employees and business (read about how your picture can build trust).
  • Your site doesn’t list current hours, phone number or email addresses.
  • Your site has automated popup windows.
  • Your site has obscure color contrast such as a black background and white font or dark blue background and grey font.
  • Your site takes more than 2 seconds to load (read more about how website speed affects SEO).
  • Your site is very difficult to update and involves calling the web developer and paying hefty hourly fees.
  • Your site visitors are only visiting your homepage.
  • Your overall website traffic is steadily declining over time.
  • Your site has certain areas that no longer work or never worked.
  • Your site isn’t even indexed by Google (go to Google.com and type in site:yoururl.com” to see)
  • Your footer has an old copyright year.
  • You haven’t had a lead from your website in over a year.
  • You have to apologize to your customers about the dated website.

If you answered yes to several of the above questions there is no need to panic. Did you know that our WordPress Website Redesign packages are actually quite affordable? We can give your brand new fresh looking, fully functional website that has all the information your visitors will need. It comes mobile responsive and we will even teach you how to add new content yourself so you don’t have to rely on us to do it all the time.

The bottom line is that a website isn’t something you just set and forget, you need to constantly be updating it with new information, staying in line with modern design trends and always looking for ways to give your visitors what they want.

Still not convinced?
Try taking our Free Website Evaluation to learn more about your website.

Download your free website evaluation

 

What Do Customers Want from Your Website?

Did you know that the first impression of a website is formed in less than 50 milliseconds? That means you have just 0.05 seconds to prove yourself.

To most visitors your website isn’t just a website. It’s your company, your brand, your personality and often the deciding factor of whether to do business with you or one of your competitors.

Our brand new SEO eBook explores six expectations that your visitors have when they arrive on your website and how you can make a great first impression. This eBook will also help you understand how to capture your visitor’s attention (in a good way), give them exactly what they are looking for and ultimately ensure your website has done it’s job in “closing the deal”.

What is a closed deal such as a phone call, new email lead, purchase or in store visit worth to your business?

Don’t miss out on this FREE eBook. Just hit the
download button and start learning today!

You can also check out all of our free SEO eBooks, Articles, Slide Presentations and Infographics at no cost on our Resources Page.

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Could this Simple Change Build Website Visitor Trust?

A recent study conducted by BrightLocal set out to find if images are a powerful trust factor on local business websites. Take a minute to stop and consider BrightLocal’s reasoning:

Consumers arriving at a website may not be actively looking for photos of a business, but a picture speaks a 1,000 words and images convey a lot about a business and the people who run it and work there.

In order to find out if images do in fact build trust BrightLocal showed participants a series of 3 screenshots that resembled local business websites. Each website was identical except for the image used on it. The image options were:

  1. Genuine photo of a business owner
  2. Generic product or office photo
  3. No photo or image

The results found that nearly 80% of participants trusted the website with a photo of the staff, generic product or office location more than the website without any photos.

The Simple Change for Your Website

Add a photo of yourself, your staff, your office or some of your services to instill more trust and confidence in your website visitors.

Other Key Insights About Website Images and Trust

  • Different types of businesses see varying results from the types of images they place on their websites.
  • If your customers come to your place of business then a picture of your office or site can build trust.
  • If your office isn’t particularly attractive, consider using  staff photos and generic images.
  • If you are a service-based business, such as a dentist or plumber, where your staff plays a big role in providing a good experience consider adding pictures of your employees.
  • A generic picture of your services (such as a faucet for a plumber or toothbrush for a dentist) can instill trust by instantly sending the message that you do indeed offer what they are looking for.

If you do decide to add some images to your website don’t forget about proper image optimization for SEO! Ask us more about how to do this by emailing us  or calling us at 1-888-262-6687.

If you’re interested in seeing our team’s faces visit our Meet the Team page!

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7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner

Alas, we live in a sinful world.

Website owners will find that there’s no shortage of articles, forums and blogs that cover the following sins about websites:

Website Design Sins” such as poor loading times, poor navigation, poor or inconsistent layout, poor use of frames, no Meta data and browser incompatibility issues.

Website Copy Sins” such as poor or insufficient content, pages that scroll endlessly or incorrect grammar and spelling.

Black Hat SEO Sins” including hidden text, doorway pages, keyword stuffing, IP cloaking, redirects and duplicate sites/content.

Marketing Sins” such as lack of urgency or a compelling offer, lack of a reason why one should act, lack of proof or a lack of a clear call to action.

I’ve been a content optimizer for 1st on the List Promotion since 1999 and while I can attest that most of the sins outlined above can be handled without too much effort, it is the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner” that prove to be the most difficult to address.

These “7 Deadly Sins” usually wreak the most havoc on a website owner’s attempts at online success. Why…because in most cases, the website owner is either unaware or incapable of recognizing them.

Only when you can take a realistic look at where you are, without pointing fingers, excuses or justifications will you be able to do justice to your website.

A word of warning; as a website owner you may find this uncomfortable but in order to make a positive change for the sake of your website success, you have to be honest with yourself.

I’ll end this article with a “BEST” plan, an acronym for a four-step program to help you overcome some of these vices.

# 1 – Avarice or Greed

Avarice or greed is a sin of excess, of wanting something for nothing or acquiring more than one has earned or deserves.

No matter what your end goal is, a well designed site with a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy takes time and money. Don’t betray common sense and expect more than you can afford.

“Unfortunately there are no standards in our industry like there are in magazine or newspaper publications” cites Flavio Marquez of Snaptech Technologies, a Vancouver website design company.

“If one wants a full page ad in a magazine or newspaper,” he adds, “one would not call up these publications and say that your budget is $300. It just doesn’t work like that. Yet, we often get asked to create an $8000 or $10,000 website with a budget of under $1500 because that is the price they were quoted by the high school student or one-man operation using an out-of-the-box WYSIWYG application.”

In short, be realistic about your goals and your budget. Then trust the professionals you hire to help you get the most out of that budget and establish a good foundation so you can follow this up later as your budget allows.

Prioritize what you need to accomplish, create a plan of action, set a yearly budget and reinvest in your website business so that over time you can expand on the work you’ve started and accomplish the goals you have set for yourself.

# 2 – Lust

Giving into lust can often lead to addiction, transgression, irrational motives and compulsion.

Simply put, many website owners become too attached or addicted to their websites and overstep the bounds of common sense by refusing to implement the recommendations given them by the professionals they hire.

You may have developed an appetite for your website and not want to give up the Flash, frames or the restrictive dedicated CMS system that you spent a lot of money on…but if they are hurting your website success then curb the urge to do or say something that might be better left undone or unsaid.

Listen to your design or SEO professionals. They are part of your team so you will need to trust them to give you the best advice. Don’t let your lust for your website come between you and your team.

# 3 – Vanity

Vanity, pride or narcissism can be obsessive and is often considered to be the most deadly of sins since it can lead to a lost sense of reality.

You must be prepared that the professionals you hire will tell you the truth…they are not there to support your claim that you have a great looking, great performing website…instead they are there to help you accomplish that end.

If you take a lot of pride in having designed or optimized your own website, it may be very difficult for you to hear the truth that your site is poorly designed or optimized and may need a complete overhaul.

You will need to lose the ego and no matter how difficult it may be, give up control of your website to an outsider. It takes a lot of humility to be able to allow someone to point out your weaknesses and then use that information to make the necessary changes, but you and your website will be better for it.

Here’s a little test.

Visitors want to know what you can do for them. So does your website speak to them and their issues or is your text self-focused and all about you? Take caution if your website text is riddled with “I, we, me, my, us and our.

The golden rule here is; Design your website for your visitors and not for you, and keep it search engine friendly!

# 4 – Gluttony

The “Kiss” principle, keep it short and simple. Less is more.

The opposite of gluttony is temperance or moderation; remaining within the bounds of reason, yet, quite often website owners want it all and they want it now. They develop an excessive anticipation of what to expect and become over anxious.

It is this obsessive anticipation, this gluttonous attitude that drives website owners to overindulge to the point of waste or push for results sooner than they should be realized. Common faux pas include:

  • Cluttered web design & layout
  • Overuse of rich applications like Flash, video, graphics, etc
  • Too many non-relevant links
  • Not implementing best design and best SEO practices because of cost or time
  • Taking a website live before it is ready
  • Keyword stuffing site content
  • Focus on attracting excess traffic instead of targeted, motivated traffic
  • Unrealistic expectations of rankings, traffic and sales

Certainly there are others but the rule here is that everything must serve a predefined purpose and if that rule is broken then the excess needs to be trimmed.

# 5 – Sloth

Sloth or apathy is the sin of omission…the silent killer.

Without diligence and a careful decisive work ethic to budget your resources (and time) to continue the momentum you created for your website, your indifference can rob you of all the good you’ve accomplished.

What this means is that you have a responsibility to constantly be working to improve and update your website on a continual basis. As in your personal life, for your website to achieve beyond its full potential you must work beyond just what is required.

Analytics and ongoing optimization is crucial for maintaining and/or bettering your results. There is simply no excuse for not taking advantage of recent technologies that allow you to define your user experience and demographics plus understand how they found your site, when they came and what they did.

Unfortunately, too many website owners spend a lot of time and resources to have their website built and optimized and then stop there, unwilling to act any further.

The search engines are constantly evolving, therefore search engine optimization has to constantly evolve with it. Stale pages will eventually get ignored by the search engines.

Not unlike sales, it is much easier and requires fewer resources to maintain listings/customers then it is to regain lost listings/customers.

# 6 – Envy

Your website cannot be all things to all people.

Too often website owners look at their competitors with envy and discontent to the point of wanting to “beat out” or deprive their competitors even on areas that are not within or only marginally within their own market focus.

It is healthy and advisable to understand what your competitors are doing in order to understand what will be necessary to compete, but take caution to adhere to best practices and not to covet, plagiarize or imitate.

When the search engines crawl your site they review your content to determine your market focus. Your concern or market focus must be directed at your visitor, because it is your visitor and not your competitor that the search engines are concerned about.

Resenting the success of your competitors can cause you to dilute your market focus. Instead, develop a healthy concern for your visitors and the search engines will take notice.

# 7 – Wrath

The truth hurts no doubt about it. Overnight website success is a myth or at best, an anomaly.

Even when the truth is exactly what we need, self denial and/or our denial of the truth can lead to frustration, impatience and uncontrolled feelings of anger or wrath.

We’ve all heard stories of clients who unwittingly sabotage SEO efforts or cancel midway through a project out of anger simply because they deny or fail to acknowledge or understand the truth when it is presented to them.

Website success takes time, patience and perseverance. When faced with obstacles, difficulties, delays or simply the natural unfolding of events (time), persevere and trust the team of professionals you have hired.

As web design and SEO professionals our job at 1st on the List Promotion is to uncover the truth and share our knowledge and expertise with the website owner so that together we can create great looking and great performing websites.

Overcoming These Vices Using the “BEST” Plan

To overcome the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner” follow the “BEST” plan. The acronym BEST stands for a four part plan including:

B – Beginning

E – Education

S – Strategy

T – Testing

B is for Beginning. Start at the beginning. You need to step back and take an honest, realistic and objective look at where your website is at in relation to where you want to take it. Evaluate every aspect including your coding (ASP, PHP, HTML), your CMS system (if you have one is it dedicated or flexible), and the rich applications you may have employed.

E is for Education. This is where your design and SEO team come in. Listen and be open to their advice. They are there to tell you the truth, to educate and illuminate you on what your best options are for your budget and your desired success.

S is for Strategy. Your design and SEO team can help you devise a winning strategy but you must be open to change. You may not like everything you hear but keep an open mind and be willing to think outside the box. You must be prepared to let go of some of the things you’ve become attached to (that includes your web host) and be brave enough to act on the professional advice you paid for.

T is for Testing. Once the design and/or SEO work is complete, follow through. Be open to setting up analytics, testing what is working and what is not and employing ongoing optimization to ensure your website remains current with the shifting market.

Remember that without pointing fingers, excuses or justifications, in order to be able to do justice to your website you will first need to seek redemption by overcoming these vices and eliminating the “7 Deadly Sins of a Website Owner.”