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Should 2018 be the year you update your website? Yes, it probably is.

2018 is around the corner and it’s time to look forward! In today’s world, it’s important for a business to have a user-friendly, mobile responsive website. The days of looking a company up in the phone book are behind us, and today people are looking you up on the internet. What will they see when they find you?

If your website hasn’t been redesigned within the past 2-3 years, it is considered out of date. Visitors tend to use companies with an updated site. Why? It shows that they are continuing to grow and want to keep up with their company to improve customer experience and service.

Cell phones, tablets, desktops, etc. How does your website look and respond to each of these devices? This is incredibly important today. 80% of internet users own a smartphone. That is a high percentage, and that means you need to be ready for them to visit your website from that phone. Mobile first web design is becoming a staple at Webfoot, and we strive to ensure user experience on all devices is smooth and friendly.

What is your business model? If your website has not changed in 5+ years, there is a strong chance that your website no longer reflects your business properly. Redesigning your website gives you the opportunity to give visitors a fresh take on who you are as a business and what you can offer your customers. A very important thing to consider is that your website is less about you, and more about your visitors and potential clients/customers. Build your website with them in mind.

Content is king, however, too much content will push your visitors away. Once someone lands on your website you only have a few seconds to capture their interest. Interesting bullet points and dynamic images need to be front and center. Consistency in design and content will keep users on your website longer improve your chances of that visit converting into business.

Lastly, consider security needs for your website. Any site is at risk and can be hacked. With that said, old sites have old code and that code is more susceptible to attack. Consider a screen door leading out to your backyard. When it’s new, the screen is strong and taut. You never worry about any bugs getting through and you are able to enjoy the fresh air worry free. After time, the screen weakens a bit and a small hole begins to develop. You notice little gnats making their way into the house so you put a patch over the little hole. One day, you notice a small cut in your screen and now mosquitoes and flys are getting into the house. You continue to patch the screen, but now it looks terrible and the patches don’t stay on very well and the holes keep growing.
This is your website. You can patch the site and hope that the bugs won’t get in, but unless you replace that screen, you’re going to continue to have issues. By redeveloping your site every few years, you are not guaranteed to keep all bugs out, but you are definitely making it more difficult for them to find their way in.

Let’s work together to start your companies year off strong. We, at Webfoot, look forward to working with you on your new site, and helping your business to grow.

 

Are You Aware of the Weight of Your Web Page?

do you know the weight of your websiteWithin web design, there is an understanding that you need to be aware of the potential weight of a web page before a site can go live. The heavier the page, the longer it takes to load leading to users becoming frustrated and having a negative experience that could ultimately stop them from coming back.

The actual average weight of a page has increased over the years, but this is seen as being in line with advances in technology and faster connections. Previously, the average weight was 1MB, but that has now gone up to 3MB, and there is every chance that it could rise further.

Of course, as this is the average, it does mean that there are websites out there that weigh more than this, but there is a pretty good chance that they will suffer from a high bounce rate, which is always a negative thing to deal with.

But then, why are they getting heavier? The answer is partly linked to design trends and people being capable of getting away with more when it comes to what they can put on individual pages. Take for example the explosion in use of video on the home page, and in particular with the header image. This is something that is now all over the Internet, but video is heavy even when it is parsed down as much as possible so that the loading experience is not hampered too much.

Also, people have a tendency to use more creative fonts that can also be heavier in weight, and then there are various plugins that bring in data from elsewhere and display it on your website. All of this makes a difference, but it often does so quietly and without anybody being aware of what is going on.

However, looking at the way in which pages are created, it is also interesting to note that the load times have stayed pretty static over the years. They have only increased ever so slightly and certainly nowhere near the increase of the average weight. Clearly, this is due to the way that technology has kept pace with these changes. If you cast your mind back to when you first came onto the Internet and compare it to how things are today, then you will see for your own self how this is something that has completely changed.

So, if technology has kept pace, then why is looking at the average weight of a page so important?

The answer is more obvious than you may think, and it is all to do with where this is all heading.

For some experts, there is the belief that it is going to increase further to at least 4MB within the next 18 months. There is the fear that technology will be squeezed and have to try to adapt to fit in with the changes as people demand more from websites and the information that they can access in an instant. People want speed. They do not want to hang around waiting for a website to load, so there is more emphasis on speed rather than power in technology, and that is where a problem can occur.

There is the real possibility that websites could almost outstrip the capabilities of technology to provide the user with a pleasant experience. There is every possibility that more people will become frustrated with a website and blame it on the technology when it is the actual website that is the problem.

What is required is a re-think about what should actually appear on a page and whether or not it does contribute to the overall experience. In the past, using Flash on websites was seen as being cool, but it had a negative impact on the way in which the site would load resulting in people walking away and Flash being disbanded in the near future. It was too heavy and it would still cause some problems today for some people.

That in itself is a lesson that we should remember or else we could repeat the same mistake, but this time it is connected to the need for more value for your money. Yes, you should always want to provide the user with everything they need on your site, but to do it in as fancy a way as possible is not going to be the wisest decision that you have ever made.

ecommerce webfoot

5 Key Tips That Could Make Your E-Commerce Website a Success

E-commerce is hardly going to be going away, so it makes sense for anybody that is considering venturing into this particular world to have an idea as to some of the key things that can help you to swim rather than just sink. After all, there is so much competition out there that surely anything that can make even a modicum of difference is worth doing?

The mistake that people often make is they simply dive in with both feet without giving much thought about it. Clearly, this is the wrong thing to do and we would much rather that you give these tips some consideration first.

  1. Get Inspiration.

The first thing is to get inspired, and by this we mean look at e-commerce websites that you find to be appealing. It might be the way in which the products are displayed or the navigation. Perhaps it is the categories that appeal to you? No matter what it is, you need to spend some time contemplating what other people do with their e-commerce website and try to get inspiration from it for the sake of your own website.

  1. Consider Your E-Commerce Platform.

This is also more important than people realize in that you need to be sure that you use the correct e-commerce platform from the outset. By doing so, it should then mean that your entire website works smoothly and without any issues because that is going to be one huge thing that is capable of putting potential customers off spending money on your site. You also want to be sure that you are using something that is easy to update and change when required to do so as your prices may alter as will your products and you hardly want to rip the entire website out and start all over again every time this has to happen.

  1. Consider Your Payment Gateways.

You need to also spend some time thinking about payment gateways and being aware of the ones that work best for your website. Paypal tends to be the most popular out of the market leaders, but there are other options available. It can all depend on the e-commerce platform you plan on using along with the amount of business that you are conducting. Furthermore, you need to be aware of the currencies it can operate as well as making sure that you can actually get the money without running into too many problems.

  1. Don’t Launch Until You Have Tested the Website.

This might sound crazy to point out, but there are individuals that will try to put together their e-commerce website and then launch it in the hope of earning money as quickly as possible. The problem here is that they effectively do live testing, and that is pointless. Actually, it is even worse than pointless simply because if this kind of website is rushed, then it leads to broken links, issues with the cart, and a whole host of other things that will only serve the purpose of putting off potential customers.

  1. Stay Relevant.

Once again this may come across as being extremely basic advice, but it is astonishing how many companies allow their e-commerce website to just stay stuck in the past. It’s absolutely fine to keep the initial template the same, but ideas and concepts related to the world of design in this area are ever-changing. Being aware of the latest approaches can make a real difference to the way in which your website is viewed by your potential customers, and surely you want them to be as happy as possible? If displaying relatively few items on the front page is where it’s at right now, then maybe it’s a good idea to follow that concept? If large images displaying a few categories is the modern approach, then once again you may be better suited to adopt that particular strategy?

What we are saying here is that there are a whole host of things to take into account when it comes to operating your very own e-commerce website. There is so much more to it than simply adding some products to a program, getting some hosting, and then waiting for people to come. Would you do that with a physical store? Of course not, so why do it with this?

Understanding the Key SEO Checklist for New Websites

seo-checklist-webfootA new website has many problems to overcome. First, everybody else is way ahead of you, so you are going to have a mountain to climb just to get noticed. Second of all, there is the issue of SEO and simply not appearing anywhere on the radar. You may have even sat and thought about your potential budget, and yet there are often fears that it will not be enough to make a difference.

So, how do you deal with this situation without getting too depressed about it all?

Well, for us, the first port of call has to be establishing the appropriate SEO checklist for a brand new website. Yes, we just believe that there should be a number of different things that you do to really jump start your SEO campaign even though it may potentially be some time before you notice any difference in your rankings.

  1. Set Up Google Analytics.

To kick things off, we strongly recommend setting up Google Analytics. This is where you will be able to look at all kinds of useful information connected to traffic and also conversion rates. This can be done even before your website is fully launched, so if there is a landing page, then get it added so you can get to grips with the data that you will then be receiving.

  1. Google Search Console Verification.

Google search console is a completely free tool, so as it is going to cost you nothing then there is no reason for you to not go and sign up to it. By doing so, you will then be able to see how the different search engines actually view your website allowing you to then tweak your SEO campaigns in order to be viewed in a more favorable light.

  1. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly.

Google is pushing mobile friendly websites, and if you are unsure as to whether or not your website is fine, then you might want to check out their mobile friendly test. This is available via the webmaster tools on Google, so you are going to need to sign up there and run your site. It will let you know if there are any issues that you then need to tackle before Google penalizes you.

  1. Check Out Your Page Speed.

Page speed is not only a huge factor when it comes to SEO, but also in the way that people view your website with there being a reluctance to hang around while something loads. This means the bounce rate for your website can be high, so it makes sense to counteract this as much as possible. For this, look at using Google Page Speed Insights via their developer tools, and you are going to ideally want to have something rated at 80+.

  1. Get to Grips with Your Keyword Analysis.

Keywords remain a huge part of any SEO campaign, so you need to make sure that you understand the role played by keyword analysis before you go any further. Search for niches, use Google Keyword Planner, and even check out the likes of Quora and Wikipedia for additional ideas of keywords. Also, remember to check the competition as this can determine the phrases that you will be aiming for due to the potential costs that will be involved.

  1. Learn About Title Tags.

Even with all of the different changes to the search algorithm, one of the things that Google still loves has to be the title tag. With this, you need to include the keyword to really make it count, but at the same time it still has to make sense and relate to what comes below or else you lose the power that it held over the page.

  1. Think About Outbound Links.

Outbound links are huge when it comes to SEO, but at the same time there is a very real need for you to be aware that the type of links and where they point to are just as important. You want to focus on authority websites as much as possible as you get more ‘juice’ in return for those links, so don’t fall into the trap of just linking out to anywhere or you could be wasting your time.

  1. Study the Backlinks of Your Competitor.

Finally, backlinks are important as they do largely determine where you appear on those search engine pages. However, you can be clever and spend some time studying the backlinks that your competitors have managed to accumulate allowing you to know the number, and also where they are pointing to. This information will then prove to be useful in any SEO strategy as you will know what you are up against in order to then beat them.

There are a whole host of different options and things that a new website should be prepared to do as part of their SEO campaign. However, there are certainly enough things to go on at this moment in time, and if you successfully implement them, then you can perhaps consider moving onto other areas to improve your position even further.

Have You Ever Thought of Anchor Text?

anchor-text-imageThe use of anchor text is nothing new, but the rules as to what can appear in it have certainly changed over the years. As a result, a number of websites are falling foul of these changes leading to their websites being punished and being sent tumbling down the results pages practically overnight.

That in itself is soul destroying for the owner of the website. On most occasions, there is even an inability to understand what went wrong with them frantically searching for an answer.

Now, we don’t want that to happen to you as the stress it causes is huge. So, how can you avoid it? Well, the answer is so much easier than you perhaps thought as it is all to do with the information that you have included in your anchor text.

What is Anchor Text?

Let’s kick things off by looking at what anchor text is according to the laws of SEO. The simple explanation is that it is the text that is visible in what is actually a hyperlink to another page of the website, or another website entirely.

In other words, you can often see them as the words will be blue to mark them out as being different from the rest of the text, or else nobody would click on them.

But, here’s the thing. There is a need for you to be aware of the things that you can and cannot put on these links before Google starts to complain and punish your website for breaking some of the rules that you are supposed to follow.

Why it is Important for Search Engines.

So, why is this text so important for the search engines? Surely the overall content is more important to them?

Well, this is not about determining what is more important. Instead, it’s about doing things in the way that is going to be most beneficial to you and your website.

With anchor text, the search engines use it to determine what your website is all about. They also use it to determine how people view your website, and as you are in control of the text that is used for these links, it does mean that you have a lot of power in your hands even though you may not have previously been aware of it.

What happens is that other websites that may want to link to you will view these links, so you have to make sure that they are relevant, useful, and descriptive. These links can determine the relevance factor of a page, and if your content is then regarded in this way, then that can only be a good thing for your ranking.

Things to Avoid.

We have given a brief description of why this anchor text is so important, but there is still a need for us to guide you away from making various mistakes that could hamper the way in which your website is viewed.

The first thing to avoid is making the anchor text too keyword heavy. This is hated by Google, and they will treat it in such a way that you know this is something to be avoided at all costs.

The text should also be succinct. Long and rambling anchor text is also frowned upon, so keep things as short as possible and you will be viewed in a far more favorable light as a result.

Linking to the wrong page is another thing to avoid. You cannot mislead people by having anchor text that says one thing, which they then expect to find, and yet you then send them elsewhere. This is similar to a form of entrapment, and you will also have your website punished because of this, so don’t do it at any point.

You should also avoid having too many of these anchor texts on the one page. This comes across as something similar to spamming, and it changes the impression that people have of your website, which is something that you just do not want to happen. Limit yourself to only using them when it is correct to do so and where it actually adds something to the experience of the individual that is visiting your website.

Anchor text is here to stay, but you cannot just use it in any way that you want. Google do have a firm understanding of what it is that they are looking for with this, so you have to make sure that you fall within those parameters, or you will have to deal with your punishment.

Use them wisely to enhance the experience that people have when they visit your website. Never overdo it, or you will turn people away, and who wants that to happen with their site?

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