What’s New in 2015? Changes in Web Design, Mobile Sites, Content, Social Media, Internet Marketing and Ecommerce You Need to Know
The Internet has changed so much since I made my first web site in 1994 on AOL. It’s been growing and changing exponentially every since the first two “blue hyperlinks” connected the first two HTML web pages (now you know why i named my company Blue Hyperlink, it was the beginning of EVERYTHING!).
However, in the last couple of years, the Web has had the greatest amount of positive change since I made my first web site / helped a company get to page one on a search engine. Why? The competition is fierce now.
The Web and all its amazing, ever-changing AMOUNT and TYPE of web sites evolve from what people WANT, NEED OR DEMAND!. They also change due to these other factors:
- faster web speeds from our Cellphone Service companies and ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) who are fighting for your business
- newer and more efficient devices that are being put on the market every day so fast that in two years your device is outdated
- brand new types of web sites, programs, and services are free and some are what consumers can afford to pay for
- the cellphone created a brand new type of program called an app (short for application) which is software that does something.
Everyone’s having to adapt. From local real estate brokerage firms to event planning services and the even the local gift shop – there are BRAND NEW ADDITIONS / CHANGES to how you have to have your site designed to compete in your market. Even Fortune 500 companies like Coca Cola and Walmart have had to utilize social media and advertise in brand new ways!
I myself NEVER thought I’d own a computer watch, but i do! My Note 3 and Samsung Gear 2 Smart watch that syncs contacts, let me use apps, has a pedometer and heart rate monitor, helping me in my workouts using built-in sensors within the devices.
ADAPT OR BE PREPARED TO BE RUN OVER BY YOUR COMPETITION!
Every year there are major changes in EVERY ASPECT of the Web, and every day some new company comes up with an idea that changes how the world works.
NOTE: THEY’RE YOUR COMPETITION! They create something different and / or better than what’s out there currently and soon it’s on page one of Google ABOVE YOU!!! Companies have to make changes to their website, their advertising and marketing, and especially their budget for their online endeavors just to keep up and continue making profits.
VISITORS TO YOUR WEB SITE ARE SMARTER AND MORE SOPHISTICATED NOW
In this economy, consumers have become MUCH more aware of how to shop ONLINE to find the BEST VALUE, whether it be for products or services. They want MORE for LESS! If you buy things online, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM TOO!
It’s all due to the fact since consumers now all have little computers in their pocket, whether they know to use them or not, they ALL learn to text, email, surf the web and download apps! There are now more cellphones in the world than there are people!!!
I’m writing this to help companies looking to catch up with the times in order to:
- keep / improve your current rankings in Search Engine Results Pages
- know your enemy (it’s an old but very important concept in business)
- surpass your competition by doing something BETTER, FASTER, DIFFERENT and possible UNIQUE or simply as EASIER method than they’re doing currently
- learn how to cultivate relationships, not just sell to new customers
(IF they already haven’t begun their own major changes in regards to web design trends and how search engines and social media view them. I will also focus on the complete turnaround of Google’s way of ranking web sites AND the role that social media is currently playing in the ranking of web sites and their pages. I also am telling you that right now Google is beginning to rank actual social media content, so if you’re lacking in that and your competition isn’t’, they’re going to dominate the search engines, especially Google (in case you’re worried that you need to consider how you’re ranking on AOL, Bing or Yahoo …where Google goes, other search engine’s algorithms are very close with minor changes and are usually just a bit behind Google in their rules and suggestions).
Now on to the FUN STUFF!
Google has a huge influence in web design change. Every Search Giant has since the beginning! Google’s famous algorithm is a big mathematical formula that ranks web sites for every search imaginable that is based on an ever changing formula of factors!
The algorithm changes frequently in small ways and makes minor and major updates when they deem necessary. It’s so essential to their business model, there is an entire part of the company that is dedicated just to it. They find ways that webmasters and companies have found loopholes in their rules and adjust to keep their SERP’s (SEARCH ENGINE RESULT PAGES).
RESPONSIVE WEB SITES
Due to the exponential increase in digital devices – cell phones, tablets, combinations of both, laptop hybrids like the Surface Pro, web sites are expected to keep up with the times.
Why? Basically because Google says so, and if you don’t want to fail, you have to follow their called the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Anyone can access it.. check it out a bit when you have time.
Responsive Web Design is a new way to create a web site page or WordPress Theme so that it looks great, loads fast, and is easy to use on all types and sizes of devices, from a small cell phone to a medium sized tablet, and ending with the classic PC / MAC tower or laptop monitors, but it goes even further. People are using their 50″ TV’s to surf the web or display the company web site on a TV in their office to show and use with potential and current clients.
I won’t bore you with the details, but basically the design starts in a format that “folds” it’s content into longer pages so instead of a picture being next to another picture, it’s below it. That’s the simplest way to explain it.
HOW DO I GET A RESPONSIVE WEB SITE?
Easy, you buy a WordPress theme for around $50 online. There is a community called http://themeforest.net/ (click on WordPress and you’ll see a drop down of categorized themes) where developers upload their hand coded responsive WordPress themes as well as including with the theme, licenses for new very cool premium plug-ins that will make your business life easier and help you develop a RELATIONSHIP with your visitors.
You now need to listen, engage and exchange information with them through email newsletters and through all types of social media. There, you can find your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not getting feedback from your “followers”, ask for it! Every once in a while, do a quick that says “XYZ Company cares about you. Tell us what you think of our products and / or services. Ask for them to review your service by giving them links to places online where they can leave reviews. Facebook now has a “reviews page” where your followers can review your service. Direct them to it and other places ONLINE to put their testimonials now, and when they email you a nice letter about your company, have a template ready with links to every social way they can review your compay. I’ll have it on my contact page as an example soon. I’ve already begun putting in every email that i send out under my “Regards,…Bryan Grandy, a link to all social sites
Designing new and exciting looks has become MUCH easier as i will show uyou on my finished web site and new samples of my work. I recommend the number one downloaded plug-in called Visual Composer
Many premium themes already come with this and many other plugins, so if it is included, just enjoy it! If they offer another type of plugin, make sure you check to see if it’s being updated regularly and that the developers answer support questions, that’s ESSENTIAL and I’ll let you know if i disagree with you using one if it’s not good for you.
VIsual Composer that costs about $33 and allows myself and even you to create a page with a pre-designed theme (see all the different options here at http://vc.wpbakery.com/). You can make a page with agents that have a photo, small excerpt of thier bio, and a “read more” button, that anyone at the company could change. Rows, and tables and buttons, Oh, My! Anyway, a less boring page is a page that people stay on more. That’s one of your goals,, to keep people on your site so it needs fresh, easy to find and use and read or look at content!
KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS WEB SITE SECURE
If you have a WordPress web site, every plug in and the platform itself needs to stay updated for security reasons. NOTE: IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SECURITY PLUGIN OR HAVE NOT UPDATED YOUR SITE’S PLUGINS THROUGH ME OR SOMEONE ELSE, CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY!! YOU ARE IN DANGER OF BEING HACKED!
I can, for most clients, add an “auto update” if you really can’t afford hiring an expert do it, but it can cause complications when two plug-ins’ newest updates don’t play well together. Your site might break or a portion of it that uses those plug-ins. It’s pretty simple to update plug-ins, I can teach anyone how to do that one at a time.
The WordPress platform should be backed up three different ways before updating. It’s just too important for you to update the platform without the most current plug in files and content so you don’t lose your site entirely. Contact me on this as it’s not that hard tor to do, meaning not too expensive. Every update has security features that PROTECT YOU FROM HACKERS!!!
The world has changed in the last couple years. Hackers use automated software to find web sites and computers that they can use to take control of when you’re not looking or even when you are AT YOUR COMPUTER. Clicking on the wrong link or not having updated plugins, SSL certficicates, or web based software on your web site is as important as your computer – your site is on a server, which is a big computer shared with many other companies, that’s why shared is so cheap.
ORGANIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
HOW DO I GET GET TO THE TOP OF GOOGLE – EITHER FOR THE FIRST TIME OR SINCE THE CHANGES?
The answer is simple:
- Follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines (you can look up yourself if you have time or if you don’t, you can do what I recommend when i analyze your web site!)
- Realize your budget will have to increase depending on your needs
- Engage your customers and create relationships – use mailing lists , social media, regular blog posts, comment after reading what they wrote and say something intelligent, even if you disagree with them, and have constructive criticism, that is fine! Just don’t say “Great Post!”. A couple of short paragraphs with an ending question would be perfect!!!
- Become an Authority Online – see my explanation below
- If you’re a local company, Buy Yoast’s Local SEO plug in – rank better than your local competition by adhering to Google’s new “suggestions” to help them recognize local companies information in code format
- Use analytics to see what pages are viewed the least and the most, and you’re now going to need social metrics, which is like Google Analytics for your social media pages and all the pins, mentions, repostings, comments, etc. This will show you what’s going to work for you!!!
Google is smarter with every update they roll out. Their algorithm is getting close to almost human in its way of reading / analyzing content by the words in web pages and the way they’re put together.
AUTHORSHIP AND AUTHORITY
Google has found a way to weed out the web sites aren’t from an expert authority on the subject matter in question. It looks for an Author page on your site with your name, bio and photo (I will one up soon and link to it here when done), and searches for other places on the web where you have posted intelligently written or posted content, be it infographics, images, video or a combination!
Google can also can tell if you’re assisting people who need help through social media, forums (every major piece of software has a support forum, it has a place to ask questions and get them answered, it’s searchable and ususally divided into categories), question and answer sites (like Yahoo Answers), and even groups like on Facebook.
So…Yes, you’re going to have to write more, or hire people who can represent you and your business well on:
on your own web site
in comments you post (again, i say to you, when you make a comment, you have to make an effort and actually READ the article and say something intelligent in more than one paragraph, that will encourage the author to approve your comment because it will improve their web site or social media page!
I can actually search for web sites and send you links of web sites, blogs and social media posts or articles that are worth commenting on or responding to in some way. This way you won’t waste your time at all, you’ll be helping your company build a link to your site with each comment.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS A COMPANY’S BEST FRIEND (or your worst nightmare, depending on how you handle situations online)
Social Media plays a HUGE part in this. If you think you can just post content one a week on Facebook, your company will be surpassed by the companies doing what I’m talking about in this article. Maybe you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule that applies to sales, marketing, blogging, commenting, and on social media. It’s means in order to become and stay successful, you help people 80 % of the time and promote yourself and / or your company the other 20% of the time. I’m talking about time spent online doing the following things:
- posting helpful original content (see my definition of content below) that, if you were looking at it from the outside, you would REALLY WANT TO SHARE IT WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS!
- liking and / or commenting on other peoples’ and companies’ posts, commenting on their comments, maybe adding another point of view, even if it’s negative, if it’s genuine people will appreciate it
- sharing other people’s content, even your competition – this way you are getting the attention of your competitions’ audience on social media!!!
LOCAL SEO HAS BECOME MORE COMPLICATED – REQUIRING SPECIAL NEW HTML TAGS IN VARIOUS PARTS OF YOUR SITE
Google has decided that it needs a way to easily crawl your site’s content and find thiings like your contact information, office locations, hours of operation and much more. They are now using the standards from www.schema.org so the code stays universal and also requires a KML File generation that Google needs you to add to your XM site map (this is needed for Google now).
There is a plug in that lets you, the site owner, visually change this information. It’s called the Yoast Local SEO plug in (costs $69 for one site, discounts for more than one URL)
This plug in is worth every penny because not all of your competition will spend the money to buy it or to have it hand coded into pages of your site, or think it’s important to buy a plug in to add contact information. They’re wrong if they think that!
NOW you know better!!! Here’s the Yoast Local Plug in Configuration Guide so you can visually see all the features and how easy they are to modify!
- your company name
- address and additional locations and all their content information
- hours of operation for your varying locations
- Google map with directions to your multiple locations
- pertinent phone numbers that are clickable on the front end of your web site and in search results in the form of buttons that say “Call Now”. Visitors simply click the button and it puts the phone number into your cell phone’s dialer, and all your visitor has to do to call you is click and hit the send button on your phone.
- THIS MAKES IT EASY for visitors to ADD YOU AS A CONTACT!!! THINK OF THAT FOR A SECOND, GETTING INTO THEIR CONTACTS LISTS!!! On every cell phone, when you enter in a new phone number,there is a “Add to Existing / Create New Contact” link. See what I mean? How valuable is that?
- AND MORE….
Google’s algorithm now penalizes you if you have too many links to your site that have keywords in them. They now want every link to your site to look like it was created NATURALLY! Go figure! Part of your business’ weekly routine will have to include at least some of what I have talked about in this article.
NICHE DIRECTORY AND LOCAL SITE SUBMISSION
It’s still important to be registered on local sites like the yellow pages online. I have a list that I can either provide you or you can provide me with what you want on the site (many allow photos and videos!). Each entry takes whatever time the field filling out takes. It’s something like ten to fifteen minutes per site. Sometimes you have to have shorten descriptions, as some allow limited characters. I can help tailor those for you so each version represents your company the best way possible in the amount of charcters required by each company!
There is more of course, to getting to #1 on Google for your most important search terms (your KEYWORDS). But this is a very complete update of what every local site needs to consider, especially if your phone has stopped ringing or the sales emails have stopped coming in.
You can contact me at 714-421-1881 until i setup my office phone (OOMA, a free Voiceover IP that runs through your computer) this week. If you are just finding me on the web, you can always email me at email@example.com, and if you’re a client, i have a special email just for you, use firstname.lastname@example.org