5 Things You Need To Know About WordPress

5 Things You Need To Know About WordPress

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WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, Weebly…there are so many different platforms you can use for your website! Where do you even start?!

All of the websites I build are on WordPress. I really love it but by no means think that it is always the best solution for each and every build. Every website is different and therefore you should work with a designer or developer that will produce exactly what you need and suggest the best solution for you.

There are many reasons I love WordPress so I wanted to share some of them with you so you can see why I love building on it, and hopefully learn a bit more about it if you’re trying to decide what you’d like your website to be built with.

Why exactly is WordPress so awesome?

Above all, WordPress actually has a totally amazing and really inclusive community all over the world. I didn’t realise quite how much until I went to WordCamp in Edinburgh last year, and feel like I got a tiny glimpse into why so many people love it. What an experience! It’s so fun to feel like a part of a bigger community. 

Aside from that, there are a few things to consider before you choose WordPress as your website’s platform. 

1.It’s easy for you to use your website once it’s live.

WordPress has a super user friendly CMS (content management system). This makes it easy for you to add blog posts and make small changes to your content as and when you need. If you have a good designer, they’ll either show you how to do this or offer you a monthly management service where they make small changes like this for you.

Also, because WordPress is open source and very popular (it currently powers around 30% of websites on the internet!), it’s easy to find tutorials and help with any problems you might run into. 

It’s worth noting here that many small business owners don’t ever touch their websites once they’re live. But if you care about your online presence and want to have a website that truly represents your brand, being able to post your own blogs and tweak and test your copy is an ability that you really need to take into consideration.

2. You need to buy hosting and a domain name.

A lot of people talk about how WordPress is free. While WordPress.Com is free, WordPress.Org is a self-hosted CMS (you can read more on the difference between the two here), which means you need to take care of the hosting yourself. There are a variety of  solutions for this, but most hosting solutions are usually paid for in a small monthly fee. You want to do your homework here and make sure you choose a reputable company with good support before you take out a hosting package with them! 

Another cost some don’t realise is your domain name. You’ll need to purchase this before you build your site, and you can even purchase multiple domain names to all point at the same site if you want. The price of this will depend on what domain name you want, and also on the ending (.com tends to be more expensive).

3. Themes can make or break your WordPress experience.

With WordPress, you can use or purchase any theme or plugin you need to build the website you want. There are so many to choose from, it can be totally overwhelming!

I often see people complaining about WordPress and certain styling or functionality, and the truth is that issue has come down to their theme. Anyone can build their own theme and sell it on a site like themeforest; you want to make sure you do your homework here and choose a theme that has been updated recently, is compatible with your version of WordPress, has good ratings and a decent download number. 

Basically, don’t blame WordPress when the problem you’re having is because of the theme you’ve used.

4. You need to keep it updated.

Here’s another thing you really need to know about WordPress; you need to keep it up to date.

Depending how your site has been built and what’s been used, this is easy to do and doesn’t take long. You need to update three main areas on your site:

  • Your theme.
  • Your plugins.
  • WordPress itself.

Luckily, WordPress makes this really easy for us and you get a notification every time you log in to your website and an update needs made. 

The important thing here, is that you keep on top of your updates to ensure there are no security lapses. Most designers and developers offer monthly WordPress packages where they will update and look after your WordPress website for you so that you don’t need to worry about it.

5. It’s SEO friendly.

Many people who have built their own sites on other platforms ask me about switching to WordPress as they hear it’s more SEO friendly. While having your website built on WordPress won’t magically improve your SEO results on it’s own, there are many aspects of WordPress that mean it is pretty SEO friendly straight out of the box.

It has proper HTML markup, SEO friendly permalinks (or pretty URLs, which we can talk about another time!), different heading tags, and many different plugins you can use such as Yoast or All-In-One-SEO to help you work on your onpage SEO.

WordPress also makes is super easy for you to create your own posts, which is a huge contributing factor in SEO. If you publish to your site regularly, Google knows that you’re giving more valuable information for your followers, which is something they love to see.

WordPress is the best!

All in all, there are many reasons why WordPress is awesome. For brands that want beautiful websites that also have the functionality they need to run their businesses, it can provide a really amazing solution.

Have any WordPress questions? Drop them below and I would love to help if I can.

I will leave you with this awesome infographic by WPBeginner

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

What is your online presence really missing?

What is your online presence really missing?

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From your website to your social media channels and email marketing, your online presence should be one big coherent part of you

Everyone wants to learn and implement the latest growth hack, messaging bot and sales funnel. While I do believe that so many of those have a valid place in the intricate puzzle that is your overall online presence, I also believe there are two main places where brands and businesses really miss the mark with the core of their online presence.

 

Are you thinking about these points within the context of your website and digital marketing?

People crave connection. There’s a lot of negativity that floats around about the internet and how social media taints our perception of ourselves, other people and makes us compare ourselves to others. I am as guilty of that as the next person sometimes, but I also think the amount of connection and community we gain from being online is absolutely huge and not to be ignored. 

Websites and digital marketing used to be a lot about ‘look at us! Look at what we can do! Come to us instead of our competitors!’, or rather, based on push marketing. 

Does that type of website grab you? Do those posts make you stop scrolling on Facebook?

I didn’t think so. Me neither.

Given that everyone craves connection and community, there are two massive things I think many businesses don’t think about in the context of their online presence.

 

1. Focus on what your ideal client struggles with and how you can help them with their problems.

Instead of talking only about your business and all the amazing things you’ve achieved, pinpoint your customers struggles and speak to them in their own language. 

It can be really easy to think that people know more than they do, or that you’re explaining things to them in a much too simple way. There’s a reason they need you though! And you can help serve them by showing them exactly how you can help them.

Often people know they need help, but not exactly what they need from you. If you can show very clearly that you know what they’re struggling with, it will clarify everything for them and also give them confidence in their decision to work with you. 

Too many businesses have their entire website copy and digital content tailored to speak only about themselves, and not more about their customers. In fact, the majority of everything you do online should be about your customers and to show that you understand them and how you can guide them to a solution.

 

2. Be yourself! Be social and make connections.

There are also many posts floating around right now about vulnerability and authenticity. There is a reason for this though, and so much to be said for being yourself, online and off! 

You’re never going to please everyone. It’s not possible! And you can’t be everything to everyone either. By being yourself, you’ll attract the type of clients you would love to work with. You’ll also repel people who don’t agree with your point of view and the content you put out, but be honest with yourself; would you really want to work with them anyways?

If you want to have a calendar filled with clients who light you up and that you can’t wait to talk to every day, don’t be afraid to show up as yourself. Because by being yourself online, you’ll connect with the people you’d love to hang out with in real life.

As for being social and making connections, many businesses often forget that the whole point of social media is to be social. And while worthwhile goals can be to makes sales on Instagram and book new people into your classes on Facebook, I believe that before all of that, we need to focus on building brand awareness and community through our online presence. Having a social media presence is necessary for any business these days, but if you’re not there to be social and make connections with your followers, you aren’t going to get very far when you try to put out a new offer or launch your latest course.



Are you guilty of forgetting these points?

How do you feel about your online presence? Do you have an overall strategy? Are you getting leads online and building an awareness of your brand? Are you creating a community and connecting with your customers?

If not, review your website and digital marketing content to see if you’re maybe missing the mark with your online presence. 

Once you shift your perspective away from shouting about your own business to focusing on how you can help potential clients, show up as yourself and be a bit more sociable, you’ll find people will understand and relate to you on a whole new level.

What do you think? Are you good at this already or could your online presence use a bit of work? Get in touch with me if you need help.

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

4 easy SEO strategies you can implement on your website now

4 easy SEO strategies you can implement on your website now

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SEO can seem like a bit of a dark art to some, but a general working knowledge of the basics of SEO can go a long way to helping you improve your website’s search engine results. If you don’t have the first clue about SEO and even thinking about it puts you off ever looking into it, check out one of my earlier posts here where you can learn a bit more.

When I’ve been working with some new clients recently, I’ve noticed some of the same questions about SEO coming up time and time again. I decided to compile my top 4 (most asked) easy SEO techniques you can implement on your website today! These are easy to do and if you haven’t looked at them yet, working on them will start to make a big difference to your site.

 

Easy tips to help you improve your SEO results

These are a bit of a mix for you to look through; some of these you’ll work on once, and some will be more of an ongoing effort. Here are 4 strategies you can start with today to help you work on improving your search engine results.  

 

1.Optimising your image sizes

How quickly your website loads has a big impact on your SEO rankings. Optimising your images is one of the first things you can look at to improve that, and often something people don’t realise makes a difference.

If you have high res photos, they’ll likely be at least 5000 px wide. For images on you website, you’ll want them to be 1500 px wide, up to about 2000 px wide max. You can either adjust the size of your images before you upload them using something like Photoshop, or edit them in your image editor in your CMS (‘Media’ if you’re on WordPress). Alternatively, you can also try a plugin like Smush to help with this.

 

2. Use a variety of heading tags

In the text editor in your CMS, you’ll have a ‘styles’ dropdown where you’ll be able to choose from  headings 1-6. Make sure you use a variety of these through your written content! Not only does it make it easier for Google to scan your content and keep it well-organised (which pleases the Google gods), but it makes it much easier for your users to consume your content.

Different headings and shorter paragraphs make it much easier for people to scan your content, see what it’s about, and choose what they want to read; they will likely completely skip over large walls of text.

 

3. Regularly updating your content

Google wants to give people the most relevant, up to date search results for their queries. If you Google ‘best Facebook ads strategies’ you probably aren’t going to want to read a blog post from 2015, are you? You want something more recent than that!

This is in part why having regularly updated content on your website is a necessity. It allows you to continuously work on other SEO strategies such as your keywords and internal and external links. On top of that, having new content is more interesting for your audience and a great way to provide value for them.



4. Researching and using keywords

Before you start to think about the written content you’ll have on your website, you need to research and think about what keywords you want to use. To put it simply, what are they search terms you want people to enter during their query to then find your website?

SEO is a long-term game, and putting keywords on your site won’t make you appear on page 1 of Google overnight, but think about them and work them in to your content in a natural way. As your website starts to move up the rankings and once its been live for a while, you’ll be glad you worked these in in the beginning!

You can look for volume of traffic by keyword using a tool like Google Keyword Planner while doing your research, and then keep track of keyword performance once your site is live using Google Search Console.

 

Putting these strategies to use

I hope these 4 easy changes you can make to improve your SEO are useful to you! You should be able to implement these easily yourself, or else discuss them with your web designer or content producer to discuss how you you can work them in to your overall strategy.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments below.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy, I would love to hear from you; you can get in touch with me here.

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

Using interactive quizzes in your online marketing strategy with Interact

Using interactive quizzes in your online marketing strategy with Interact

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Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

You guys know by now that I’m a huge Amy Porterfield fan. She’s amazing! I listen to her podcast alll the time, and she did one a little while ago about how to choose the right lead magnet for your audience. I’ve been working on building my email list, and so I was really interested to hear that she recommended quizzes as one of her lead magnets.

I also love Neil Patel and all of his great digital marketing advice, and I’ve read some of his content about using quizzes in your marketing too. Suffice to say I was pretty convinced on the whole quiz front, but I wrote it off a bit as I thought it sounded like a big undertaking and not something I had enough experience or knowledge to put together.

So not too long after I listened to Amy’s podcast where she was talking about creating quizzes, I got an email through my website from a company called Interact. Interact have created a software that helps you build and use interactive quizzes to generate leads for your business. Crazy timing, right?!

Since I had already been toying with the idea of doing this but had sort of written it off, when they asked me if I wanted to try out their software and become an Interact Partner if I liked it, I decided it would definitely be worth a try.

 

Getting set up

Once I agreed to give Interact a try, I organised a time to chat with one of their Partner Managers. She was super nice! Our call lasted around half an hour and she spoke me through their software, how to create a quiz from scratch or a template, how to segment the results into my mailing list, and how to look through the analytics in their dashboard.

Interact have a few great resources that help you work through how to create your own interactive quiz that I looked at after my call too. It was super helpful to have everything there to look through too; I needed a bit of reminding after I got through to list segmentation etc.

 

Brainstorming my quiz topic

Because this was a trial and not something I was still totally sure about, I decided to create my quiz from one of the templates that are available in Interact. I knew I wanted my quiz to be relevant for my audience, so something around what type of website would work best for your business, or testing digital marketing knowledge for fun. I ended up going with ‘How Well Do You Know Digital Marketing’ (which you’ll know, if you tried it…!).

Here, I believe, was the first mistake I made with my quiz. This feels a little generic, and not specific enough for my audience and their problems. So my first lesson learned is, with my next quiz I’m going to do more thorough brainstorming around a topic that is more specific to my audience and helps them get a different perspective on the problems they face with their website and digital marketing.



Building my quiz from a template

Once I decided that I’d probably try my quiz from a template, I selected that option from the quiz creation menu. I looked through all of their templates and selected the categories Business, Marketing, Software and Development. I then selected the ‘Assessment’ quiz model (there’s also Personality or Scored), and chose a template called ‘How Much Do You Actually Know About Online Marketing?’

At this stage, there are quite a few templates you can preview (depending on how many categories you chose), and it was fun looking through them all and choosing which one I wanted to work with.

 

Cover page and branding

Once I’d chosen my template, I was taken to the next screen where I chose my own cover image and set up the branding for my quiz. This was my first taste of editing the quiz within the software, and almost every element of it is able to be edited and changed.

So I started by changing my cover photo. A cool feature here is that you can upload your own photo (I chose a stock image I’d used for social media posts), or you can choose a stock photo from directly within their image editor.

Once I changed my cover photo, I also updated the name of the quiz, uploaded my logo, and set my brand colours to be used throughout.

 

Questions and answers

Within the same quiz editor, you can then work through all of your questions and answers. I worked through the whole quiz and made a few minor changes but overall, left the questions as they were. I did also add and change images throughout the quiz to break up the text and tie in with my branding.

You have a ton of different options here to add images for every answer, change the right answer, add explanations for each answer, choosing whether to reveal the correct answer, etc. Like I mentioned, I chose the Assessment quiz model, mostly because I thought that would be fun and easy for people taking the quiz and also because I thought it might be a bit easier to put together than the Personality model.

 

Results

I categorized the results into ‘Online Marketing Beginner’, ‘You Know More Than The Average Business Owner’, and ‘Online Marketing Expert’. I again edited all of the results to be a little more specific for my audience, and added different pictures to fit the aesthetic of the rest of my quiz.

I used the call to action buttons below my results to lead my audience to different pages on my website that are relevant to their results. I was hoping to lead my audience to consume more information on my website, and start looking at my services pages there in the hopes that they get a better understanding of who I am and what I do.

 

Integration with my email list

I use Mailchimp for my email list, so this integrates really well with Interact’s software. I set up each quiz result and corresponding user to be added to my main mailing list, and also opted for GDPR compliant double opt-in. Finally, I set up my form field mapping, and then tested the integration to make sure it was all working.

You also have the option here to set up merge tags for each answer and question, which I will definitely be doing with my next quiz. This helps you to serve your audience in the most relevant way possible!

 

Adding my quiz to my website

I decided to go for an announcement bar on my website, as well as publishing a short blog post linking to it on my site and sharing it several times across my social media channels. You can see that since everything is able to be customized, I can edit the accountement bar to show in my brand colours and tie in easily with my website and branding.

 

Analytics funnel

I really enjoyed the analytics here; simple and easy to use. You can see the results from my first quiz here:

Initially, I wasn’t that happy with my results. However, firstly I had to bear in mind that it had only been up on my site for two weeks and while I did share it on social media, I could have shared it much more often.

I also feel that (as I mentioned earlier), the quiz I created wasn’t as well thought out as it could have been to be more relevant to my audience.

Now that I have tried one quiz out and seen how easy it is to create them with Interact, I have a much better idea of which quiz I’m going to create next that will be perfect for you guys, so watch this space!

 

To sum it all up…

I was excited to try Interact’s software and really enjoyed it! Every aspect of building the quiz was fun and easy, as well as easy to customise so that I was able to make it personal to me and my brand. I can’t wait to make another one now that I’ve tried one out and learnt from it, and I’ll make sure to let you guys know when it’s live so that you can try it out!

I would totally recommend trying out building a quiz with Interact if you’re working on your lead generation and want to try out fun ways to grow your email list!

Now that I’m a partner with Interact, I do receive a small commission if you decide you want to try it out and you sign up using my link here. I would love to hear what you think if you decide to try it out!

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a web designer and digital marketer. I love working with small biz owners to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

Take my digital marketing quiz!

Take my digital marketing quiz!

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How much do you know about digital marketing? Are you a total newbie? Or a seasoned pro?

I’ve got a fun new quiz for you to test out your knowledge! Scroll down to try it out. I would love to know how you did, let me know!

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a web designer and digital marketer. I love working with small biz owners to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

6 elements you need to include on your website

6 elements you need to include on your website

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Starting your website design from scratch can be a daunting task. Whether you’ve hired someone to build it for you or you’re going down the DIY route, it’s always best to have an idea of what you’d like in mind.

There’s also a big difference between a website that looks nice and a website that really moves the needle in your business. If you want your website to keep users on your site for longer and make them want to get them to get in touch, buy your product or take action, there’s some crucial elements you should make sure to include on your website.

Make sure you include these items on your website to keep your users interested

Not sure where to start with your website outline and content? Work through the following points for your site and you’ll have a great starting point.

1.An eye-catching first impression

When a user land on your homepage, they’ll form an opinion of your site within 0.05 seconds, which then determines if they’ll stick around or not. You should very clearly show exactly what you do and possibly also give them a call to action. Let’s think about these two examples as headers on your homepage:

  • ‘Helping you become a great leader’

Or

  • ‘1:1 coaching for smart business owners’

Which one is more immediately indicative of what you’ll expect to look at on this website? The first example is descriptive, but doesn’t indicate exactly what this website and business will do for the user. The second example is much more clear about exactly what this business does and what you’ll be able to expect from them. A good call to action sub-heading would be ‘book your call now’ or something direct like that.

If you look at Jenna Reid’s website, you’ll see that it’s immediately clear exactly what she does with a clear call to action:

Sometimes this can feel like you’re really spelling out (almost to a much too obvious level) exactly what you do, but that’s just what your website’s users need. And if you want to have an amazing website, you really should be putting their needs and wants first.

 

2.High quality images

This is a big one. Use high quality images that properly show you, your team, your products, your work…whatever it is that you do, make sure you have great images! You can hire a photographer to take your images for you, or use stock images if you need. It works well to do a mix of both, but having your own photos professionally taken will make a big difference. Good visuals appeal to everyone, and high quality images also help your overall credibility. Use stock photos if you really need, and if you do, make sure they’re relevant to your business.

3.A clear message

Your message across your whole site should be crystal clear for your users. The more brain power they need to use to figure out what you do and exactly how you’ll help them, the less interested they’ll be in getting to the bottom of your home page (never mind through the rest of your website).

A common tendency is to try and pack everything in and include way too much; we all want to stand out from the crowd! So we add way too much information, reasons why we’re better than our competitors, or reasons why people should choose our product or service. In reality, people want to understand what you do, how you can solve their problems, and exactly how they can buy from or contact you. If you focus on this, your website will be much more user-friendly as well as have a higher conversion rate. There’s always room in your blog/email newsletter/social media posts to share everything else that you want to get out there!

4.Testimonials

Testimonials and reviews are worth their weight in gold. They build your credibility, show the results you’ve achieve for other customers or clients, and instill a healthy dose of FOMO with your users. Have a few on your homepage and then spread the rest out across your site. Collect these as you go and continue to add to them as you grow. (Bonus points if you make them into nice graphics to share across your social media channels too!)

On the Gran’s House website, we included testimonials throughout their website for a nice effect and great social proof. If you’re able to include links to your reviewers website or company, that goes a long way to helping with credibility too!

 

5.Good navigation

Having clear navigation on your website is a must. Make your page titles concise and short, and don’t leave people with nowhere to go when they get to the bottom of your pages. Including links to your social media channels, a subscription form for your email newsletter, or a sitemap in your footer helps direct your users to the next place you’d like them to go and the path you’d like them to take through your website.

6.Blog and/or portfolio updates

You’ll want to link internally on your website to other pages and articles; this makes for a good user experience as well as helping your SEO. Having a section on your homepage that links to your blog or portfolio page that will be regularly updated is a great idea. Having fresh content on your site also goes a long way to helping your SEO, and your visitors will appreciate updates as they return to your site.

Important elements to help your website stand out

At the end of the day, having a great website that looks awesome and is easy to use forms the basis for how others will see your business and how effective you’ll be at running your business online. Working through this list of items when you’re getting ready to build or redesign your website will go a long way in helping you build credibility with your audience.

If you’d like to chat about your build or you’re thinking about having your website redesigned, you can get in touch with me here.

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Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

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