31 Aug

How to Grow Your Online Business: 5 Tips for Business Development

Learn how to grow your online business

The internet provides many opportunities to be successful, and starting an online business has never been easier. However, the competition can be stiff!

As a business owner, you have to work hard to stay on top of your game and grow your business!

This post will talk about five useful tips for developing an online business into something that will generate sustainable revenue for years (or even decades) to come!

The Basics of Online Business

First, let’s start with the basics and talk about making sure your online business is well-known. If you have a website that no one knows about or never gets any traffic, it won’t matter how hard you work because no one will know about it.

You need to be out there telling people about your business and what you have to offer!

This can be achieved by being active on social media, sending out press releases, and reaching out to local news stations.

You may also want to be sure that the design of your website is professional-looking, clean, and easy to navigate.

If your website is not meeting your expectations, consider hiring a professional web designer and content writer. They can help boost online business growth by creating a site that people want to visit and share.

Once you have a website that gets a fair number of visitors, follow these five tips for online business growth and development.

  1. Have a Well-Defined Business Strategy
  2. Do Your Homework! Perform a Competitor Analysis
  3. Invest in Customer Service
  4. Promote Your Brand Properly
  5. Keep Up-To-Date With What’s Trending

Have a Well-Defined Business Strategy

Grow your online business with a well-defined business plan and business strategy.

A business strategy is a formal plan that outlines the goals of an organization and how to achieve them. Business strategies are based on thorough investigation, market research, competitor analysis, and more!

Business strategy is key to online business growth and development! Without a well-defined plan, businesses may fail or won’t be able to meet the needs of their customers.

If you want your small company to succeed long term, then make sure you work on defining:

  • Clear short and medium-term goals.
  • Monthly expenses associated with running the company.
  • The estimated income from sales.

Remember a well-defined business strategy can help you: define critical goals, measure success, and get the support you need from your team.

Do Your Homework! Perform a Competitor Analysis

Competitors are a great source of information. Learn from them!

Here are some important questions to ask and things to keep an eye on when analyzing your competitors:

  • What sales and marketing strategies do your competitors use?
  • What products or services are they selling?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How they are marketing themselves?
  • What they are selling more of?
  • How they are bundling services?
  • Who they are catering to?

This information is important as you can set yourself apart from the competition by providing something different, having a unique approach, or catering to untapped markets. The business opportunities are endless!

Invest in Customer Service

Customer service can either make you or break a business, particularly a small business.

Make sure you have a well-defined customer service plan that is effective and efficient. This includes:

  • Hiring the right people.
  • Finding out if there are any services your customers are not taking advantage of.
  • Getting customer feedback on their experience with your company and services.

Remember! A happy client who comes back time and time again will keep bringing new business too.

💡 Ready to engage more with your customers? Check out these tips on How to Anticipate Customer Expectations and Gain Their Attention!

Promote Your Brand Properly

You don’t want to be spamming, but you need people to know what your business is about and how it can help them. Here’s what you can do to promote your brand the right way:

  • Incorporate a call-to-action into all of the content you produce so that readers are encouraged to take action (e.g., purchase or sign up for something) after reading the content.
  • Have a social media presence as you can use it to share information on new products/services, upsell existing offerings, etc.
  • Network with other businesses and groups to establish new business opportunities.

Remember, all these strategies are great, but they won’t work unless your website can convert that traffic into paying clients or sales. Invest in a good website design and a premium web hosting service.

💡 Not sure where to start? Check out these tips on How To Find a Reliable Web Hosting Provider!

Keep Up-To-Date With What’s Trending

Finally, keep an eye on what’s trending in your niche.

You can get many good ideas for new products and services that you may want to offer and stay relevant with customers when they are looking for options similar to yours.

Don’t be afraid to invest in new products or business approaches!

Companies that have been in business for many years have often had to redefine themselves or pivot their business model. You can stay ahead of the curve by being open to new opportunities and ideas.

***

Now that we’ve covered the basics for how to grow your online business, we want to hear from you! How are you planning on growing your business this year? What other tips do you have?

24 Aug

The Ultimate Checklist To Starting an Online Business

The Complete Checklist To Starting an Online Business

Starting an online business is an exciting endeavor, but starting one the right way can also be daunting. This checklist provides all of the steps you need to take before starting an online business and tips on making your business successful.

This post is designed for those looking to start their own online business, but even experienced business owners can gain insight from this list of helpful tips!

  1. Research Your Idea
  2. Determine Your Target Audience
  3. Create a Business Plan
  4. Find a Company Name
  5. Register a Business Entity
  6. Register a Trademark
  7. Set Up Your Bank Account
  8. Register a Domain
  9. Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
  10. Design a Logo
  11. Build Your Website
  12. Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate
  13. Enable Plugins and Widgets
  14. Set up Business Email Accounts
  15. Add Content to Your Website
  16. Create a Google Analytics Account
  17. Use Google Ads To Get More Website Traffic
  18. Set up Social Media Accounts
  19. Setup Email Marketing
  20. Wrapping Up

Research Your Idea

Starting an online business might seem like an easy project, but it often takes more research than you might expect.

To be well prepared when starting your online business you should:

  • Research the market for your product or service to see if there’s a demand.
  • Find out how much competition exists in this space.
  • Do some preliminary financial planning so you can figure out how much starting capital you need.

Determine Your Target Audience

It is essential to define your target audience and understand who they are before starting an online business. This will help you design your website, products, or services in a way that is appealing to your audience.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that details the steps you will take in starting and running your company. It can include short and mid-term goals you hope to achieve and how much money it will take to do so. A well-crafted and compelling business plan can help you get the necessary funds to start your business or find strategic partnerships.

Find a Company Name

The company name is often the first impression you give a potential customer. Your brand name can resonate with potential clients or give them second thoughts about doing business with you.

When choosing your company name, think of what you want your business to stand for? Take time out now to start brainstorming some company names that will set up an excellent foundation!

Register a Business Entity

Before starting an online business, it’s essential to figure out which legal structure is best for you. Different types of businesses have different tax burdens and benefits associated with them, so research your options carefully before deciding on one.

In the U.S., registering a business entity is usually done at the state level.

Register a Trademark

Once you’ve come up with a good name, it is important to register your trademark for that business or product(s) to prevent other companies from using the same name. In the United States, this can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Set Up Your Bank Account

You’ll want to set up a business bank account before starting your online business so that you can keep business-related expenses/income separate from your personal ones. Your business bank account will also be used for tax purposes.

Register a Domain

Choose a website name with an easy-to-remember URL. In most cases, your website name will be the same as the company name. Once you have found the right website name, register your domain. You can register your domain for a minimum of one (1) year.

Find a Reliable Hosting Provider

Choose a web hosting provider that offers reliable services and 24/7 customer support. Depending on your needs, you may also want to check if the hosting provider offers full server management, email services, and backup protection.

A logo is a vital part of your website and branding strategy. Your logo will help you distinguish your business itself from other businesses in the same industry.

Make sure to find a design that is visually appealing and reflects your company’s identity. If you need assistance in designing a logo, you can hire a freelancer from Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.

Build Your Website

Once you have your domain name and hosting account, it’s high time to start developing your website. Create a clean and mobile-friendly design for your website that is easy to navigate.

Select the type of website that best suits your business needs – whether eCommerce or a CMS site, like WordPress.

Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate

When starting an online business use an SSL certificate to secure your website

Website security is critical when starting an online business. The first step you should take towards securing your website is to get an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.

When installed on a server, the SSL certificate will activate an HTTPS protocol and encrypt information between the server and a user’s browser. The SSL certificate

ensures that your website users can safely submit their information without the risk of being hacked or have personal data stolen.

All major browsers will now flag your website as “Not Secured” if you don’t have an SSL certificate set up.

Enable Plugins and Widgets

Add Relevant Plugins and Widgets to Your Website such as SEO tools, social media sharing widgets, Google Analytics, GDPR consent tool, live chat, etc. These plugins and widgets will help you provide a better user experience to your website visitors.

Set up Business Email Accounts

These will be email addresses that your customers, potential clients, and partners can use when reaching out for support or other inquiries about your company.

Your business email should reflect a professional image, so make sure you choose something memorable like ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ or [email protected]’.

Add Content to Your Website

Once you have a website up and running, you need to add some content relevant to what you are offering. Such content might include service or product descriptions, images, videos, text articles, blog posts.

Relevant content will help your website visitors learn more about your company and help with SEO rankings because search engines will index your content when they crawl your site for updates.

Create a Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you track traffic on your website and provides valuable insights into what people are doing on your site. You can learn which are your most popular web pages, which pages have low traffic, how users get to your website, and more.

Google Ads can help get more traffic to your website. This is especially important when you are just getting started with your online business.

With the right keywords in your ad copy, you can get in front of potential customers. You can also use retargeting to stay top of mind for those users that visited your website but didn’t make a purchase/decision right away.

Set up Social Media Accounts for Your Online Business

Social media has become an essential part of starting and running any type of online business. Set up accounts on the major networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to follow and engage with your target audience.

Choose accounts on those social networks where you can best engage with potential customers.

Setup Email Marketing

Set up email marketing software like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or ActiveCampaign, to send regular newsletters to subscribers who want updates from you via email rather than social media channels.

Wrapping Up

Once everything has been set up according to our checklist, go ahead and get those sales rolling in by following marketing strategies and data-driven insights from experts in the field.

P.S. If you need some inspiration for your business, check out Best Online Business Ideas for 2021-2022.

01 Jul

Why Social Media Is Essential For Business Marketing

Social Media Marketing. Tips to grow your business and successful examples.

Social media marketing is a great way to promote your business and grow your customer base. Through social media, you can engage your existing customers while also bringing your brand in front of new users. According to a report from April 2021 by DataReportalan estimated 4.33 billion people are on social networks. That’s over 55% of the entire population. 🤯

It’s no surprise that marketers are noticing the benefits of social media marketing and allocating more resources to it.

In this article, our team at SoftSys Hosting will share some of the benefits we’ve seen from social media marketing. Additionally, we’ll also share a few examples to help you get inspired and achieve success with your strategy!

What Is Social Media Marketing and Why Is It Important For Business?

Social media marketing (SMM) is a marketing strategy that uses social networks to promote a brand, product, or service – all while building relationships that will turn your followers into loyal customers.

We get inundated with emails, texts, and spam phone calls every day.

Quick! How many unwanted emails have you deleted today?

Unlike other marketing strategies that clutter your inbox, social media gives a chance to be seen by potential customers who are interested in what we’re offering at our business.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can use social media to grow your customer base.

How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Business

Nurture Leads

Your leads might not be ready to sign-up for your service yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a future opportunity. It’s been proven that people are more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media channels.

Use social media to keep in touch with new leads and old ones alike by staying top of mind through targeted posts. This makes it easier for your leads to recognize your company as a trusted source of information and reach out to you when there’s a need for what you offer.

Increase Website Traffic

Social media is a quick and effective way to drive site traffic without spending money on ads, as you’re able to share content with your followers. A common form of driving traffic to your website is by linking to your blog posts, support articles, and product pages.

Create Hype and Encourage Conversations

The quickest way to generate hype and encourage conversations on social media is through contests, promotions, and exclusive announcements that will get people talking.

Another excellent way for you to interact with your fans would be by commenting on their posts, asking questions, and making sure you respond when they comment back.

Build Brand Awareness

Get your followers to know you by sharing your company’s story, events, milestones, mission, and values.

When you share stories about the people behind a business or the values behind a brand, you create an emotional connection between your followers and your company. And guess what? People are more likely to buy from companies that they identify with on an emotional level.

Reach Your Target Audience

Before social media and the internet, people used to advertise in newspapers. But the ad reach was limited by how many readers were getting a copy of that newspaper.

Fast forward to today, you can reach targeted audiences outside your geographical location easily through social media paid ads.

You can target audiences based on location, demographics, interests, behavior, keywords, and more. Then place an ad tailored for your audience so that you can get your message in front of the right people.

Access Real-Time Data Through Social Listening

Social media platforms provide a great way to stay on top of current trends, but it can be challenging sifting through all the noise. That’s where “social listening” comes in!

Social listening is the process of monitoring and analyzing what’s being said about your website or brand online.

It can help a business identify customer needs and keep track of new trends.

Social listening has become an essential tool for understanding what people are talking about online and how their opinions may impact your business or marketing strategy.

Popular social listening tools include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, and Mention.

Create Loyal Customers

Social Media Marketing is a great way to make your customers feel like they are part of the conversation. They’re more likely to be invested and engaged if you let them know that their input matters!

Here are some ways to build trust and increase loyalty within your existing customer base on social media:

  • Create content relevant to their interests or industry.
  • Share product announcements.
  • Highlight customer successes.
  • Address community questions.
  • Share customer testimonials.
  • Learn more about your customers through polls and surveys.
  • Create conversation-starter posts.
  • Get them involved in launching new products by asking for feedback.

Want even more tips for creating loyal customers? Check out our “7 Ways To Improve Customer Loyalty and Retention” guide to learn how you can make your customer base a more profitable one.

Examples of Businesses Who Use Social Media Successfully

First off, it’s essential to acknowledge that the social media landscape is constantly changing, so best practices are always evolving.

There are so many different ways to achieve success. You have to find what’s right for your business and enjoy the process!

Let’s explore the companies that know how to have fun with their social media marketing while also engaging users and increasing brand awareness.

FAST.CO

Fast is bringing much creativity to their hassle-free checkout process. Here’s a post from Fast’s Twitter account before a product launch.

They encouraged Twitter followers to retweet the picture in exchange for having their own profile picture edited with a “Fastronaut” helmet.

Social Media Marketing Examples
Image Source: Fast.co via Twitter

This creative and fun tweet got them hundreds of retweets and a lot of exposure.

Twitter user @guptast1c and her puppy are making a fashionable statement in their Fastronaut helmet.

Social media marketing strategy
Image Source: Fast.co via Twitter

GYMSHARK

The popular fitness clothing company Gymshark creates not only functional products but also creative, fun games for its Facebook community.

One question they posed to their followers was, “Would you rather have an endless supply of the best coffee in the world or best snacks in the world, at your office?”

The post got over 18K likes and nearly 500 comments from the fans on social media.

Social media for business
Image Source: Gymshark via LinkedIn

MICROSOFT

Microsoft took us on a trip down memory lane with this image about Clippie. So many Microsoft users loved the now-discontinued office assistant. No wonder their post got 6K likes!

Nicely done, Microsoft!

successful social media campaigns
Image Source: Microsoft via Twitter

There are many other examples of successful social media campaigns that you can get inspired by. But the bottom line is, don’t do what everyone else does – find what works for you and your followers!

Conclusion

As we’ve seen in this article, social media can be a powerful tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Whether you’re looking to generate buzz, reach new potential customers or just keep your current ones interested in what’s going on with the company, social media can be an invaluable resource for your marketing strategy.

02 Feb

A Step-by-Step Guide To Starting an Online Store

Start an Online Store

If there ever was a great time to launch an online business, it is now. According to etailinsights, there are now 7.9 million online retailers in the world, and 2.1 million of them are in the United States.

After 2020, online shopping is growing faster than ever before.

Why Is Online Shopping So Popular?

Traditionally people have turned to online shopping because:

  • They hate waiting in line at the store.
  • They get fast access to a larger variety of products and services, many of which were beyond reach prior to online shopping.
  • They get better deals online.

Today, in a world disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, online shopping is for a lot of us a necessity more so than a convenience.

In this article we’ve aimed to give business owners a step-by-step guide on how to launch an online store.

You have a great idea for a service or product. You feel it in your bones that this is going to be successful and you know that there’s a real need in the market for what you want to sell. But how do you actually start selling your products or services online?

What are all the things that you need to be aware of when selling online and where do you start?

When you are right at the beginning, things can get overwhelming fast.

But don’t worry! We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you get started with your online store.

1. Identify Your Target Market and Buyer Persona

Before you can even set up your online store you need to know who your customers are so that you can market to that niche. You may think that your product or service can appeal to everyone, however that is a difficult way to market your service.

Buyer Persona

Tips To Identify Your Target Market

  • Identify why a customer would buy your service or product. Start by making a list of all the pain points that your service/product can solve.
  • Find out who your competitors are and what markets do they target.
  • Create a buyer persona – this is your ideal customer. Get as specific as possible including location, age, education, financial status, industry, job, skills, interests, frustrations.

Knowing your buyer persona is the BEST way to identify your target market. It will help you optimize your website copy and marketing materials to ensure that your message reaches the right audience.

Keep in mind that you are not limited to a single buyer persona. You can have as many personas as you would like, but at a minimum, you should have at least one.

TIP – If you’re not quite sure where to start when creating your buyer personas, try this fun buyer persona generator, from HubSpot.

2. Buy a Domain Name for Your Online Store

To create your online store, you need both a domain name and an eCommerce platform.

A domain name is what users type in their browser to access your website. In other words, it’s the address of your website.

It is possible to create your online store without owning a domain name. Some web hosts or eCommerce companies will allow you to create your online shop on one of their subdomains.

But keep in mind that your domain represents your identity online and it’s a crucial part of your brand. Even if you start your online shop by using another provider’s subdomain, you will eventually want to have your own domain.

Having your own domain name will give you more control over your website and allow it to build domain authority in Google.

TIP – As a general rule try to choose a domain name that is short and easy to remember.

3. Choose the Best eCommerce Platform for Your Online Store

Now that you have identified your target market and bought your domain name, it’s time to choose the best eCommerce platform for your online store.

You don’t have to be an expert developer or designer to build an online store that looks great and works well. But there are so many different platforms out there that it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we will look at two types of approaches for building your online store:

  1. Using a Website Builder
  2. Using a Hosted eCommerce Solution

Building an eCommerce Store Using a Website Builder

Website builders such as Wix or Shopify are turn-key eCommerce solutions, providing users with everything they need to set up an eCommerce store. They are popular solutions when building your first online shop, especially with users that don’t have a lot of technical skills.

However, while website builders are easy to get started with, there are also some disadvantages that might not make them the best choice for your business in the long run.

Things to be aware of when evaluating website builders as an option for your online shop:

  • Costs – although website builders are low budget when starting, they can get expensive fast as your online store grows.
  • Features – website builders are typically more limited in features compared to nopCommerce, and other eCommerce solutions.
  • Transaction Fees – you might incur transaction fees on payments received through website builders. Shopify charges up to 2% in transaction fees when using external payment gateways such as PayPal. Wix also charges a processing fee for every payment you receive through them.
  • Limited Control – website builders such as Wix host your website content exclusively. In other words, you are locked in, you cannot easily export your website code if you want to leave.

Building an eCommerce Store Using a Hosted eCommerce Solution

WooCommerce, NopCommerce, and Magento are some of the most popular eCommerce solutions used by many eCommerce stores today. Both nopCommerce and Magento were released in 2008. WooCommerce was released in 2011.

Let’s look at each of these eCommerce platforms and their specific advantages.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that transforms WordPress-based websites into powerful, fully functional online stores.

As the most popular eCommerce platform in use today, WooCommerce powers over 30% of all online stores across the web. BuiltWith reports that in April 2021 a total of 4,414,537 live websites use WooCommerce for their online store.

eCommerce Websites
Source: BuiltWith, April 2021

WordPress is a great platform for building websites, but it’s not an eCommerce solution. WooCommerce was developed specifically as an extension of WordPress so that anyone can install and run a full-fledged online store with no coding knowledge required.

Woocommerce Hosting – A Complete Solution To Create Your Online Store From A to Z!

WooCommerce and WordPress make it easy to launch your online store. The friendly design interface gives you full control over the functionality of your online store.

WooCommerce includes out-of-the-box functionality for a complete eCommerce experience. Easily create products, configure payment gateways, customize taxes, shipping, and inventory – the list goes on!

Plus there are hundreds of third-party extensions available if you want more features or something specific that isn’t included by default.

WooCommerce Advantage

  • Affordable pricing with no long-term fees.
  • 140 payment gateways available (including PayPal, Amazon Pay, Stripe).
  • Coupon codes or percentage discount options.
  • Bulk product upload, shipping management features.
  • A large number of themes and plugins available.
  • Fully Integrated with Gooten, Printify, Printful, CustomCat, Facebook Shopping & more.

What is nopCommerce?

nopCommerce is a free open-source eCommerce solution running on the popular .NET Core framework.

nopCommerce it’s a robust, stable, and user-friendly solution for your online store. It has many out-of-the-box features to help you get started with your online store, including SEO features, email marketing, product review, and affiliate marketing.

nopCommerce Advantage

  • Rich, modular architecture with out-of-the-box eCommerce functionality.
  • Open source, so highly customizable.
  • Short learning curve and great documentation.
  • Easy to use and develop being based on .NET technology.
  • Growing community with over 250 000 members (about half the population of Wyoming).
  • Responsive customer support and development teams.

nopCommerce makes it easy to build your online store. All you need to do is find a reliable nopCommerce hosting solution to get started.

What is Magento?

Magento is one of the most widely used eCommerce platforms being currently used by 0.7% of all websites worldwide. Unlike nopCommerce which is entirely open-source, Magento comes in two editions:

  • An open-source Community Edition.
  • A paid Magento Commerce Edition (former Magento Enterprise).

Robust and highly scalable Magento is a great solution for large online stores with a high volume of sales.

Magento Advantage

  • Very robust, can support online stores with massive traffic.
  • Supports transactions in multiple countries, multiple currencies and offers access to a network of global shipping carriers.
  • Mobile optimized shopping with an optimal experience across a variety of devices
  • High number of extensions available.
  • Large community of Magento developers.

Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions today. Magento Community Edition offers all the needed functionality to get started with your online store. You can opt for quality Magento hosting, geared towards enterprise companies.

However, if you are looking for rich, out-of-the-box functionality most of it is only available through the paid Magento Commerce Edition.

4. Setup and Launch Your Online Store

Once you have decided on the best eCommerce platform, it’s time to build and launch your online store.

how to launch an online store

Regardless if you work with a web developer or build the online store yourself, you need to ensure that the website looks professional. Here are some key things to consider:

  • Perform an audit of all the products/services that have been created. Ensure they all have the proper name, description, price, and any relevant information.
  • Make sure you have all the products in inventory.
  • Set up your sales tax. Keep in mind, in the US, sales tax is decided at the state level. Each state can have different rules and a different sales tax.
  • Choose your payment gateways.
  • Add information about your business and contact details (About Us & Contact Us pages).
  • Create your Terms and Conditions Agreement.
  • Define your Shipping and Returns Policy.
  • Optimize your website and product description for SEO (define your primary keywords, add meta description, use internal linking, define your site structure).
  • Ensure your website is optimized for mobile.
  • Check the website speed and performance. Users are less likely to purchase from a slow website.
  • Test your checkout before going into production.
  • Build your company’s Social Media channels and integrate them with your website.

TIP – Announce your new online store and build hype before the actual launch. A great way to do this is through Social Media networking. Another way is by building an email list. You can build your email list by using a free lead generation form, like this one from Typeform.

Once your store is live you can start driving traffic to your website. You can drive traffic by creating high-quality, educational content, using email marketing, social media, and affiliates or influencers.

You now have all the steps needed to launch your online store. Happy selling!

09 Feb

Responsive Website Design and Online Marketing Benefits

In this technology world, you need to update your marketing strategy with the advancement of new platforms. In 2009, Morgan Stanley, one of Fortune 500 company, made a prediction of rise in popularity of ‘Mobile Web’ compared to ‘Desktop PCs’ by 2014. Being in a competitive market, you should keep your website responsive and mobile friendly.

If you are still not considering mobile web traffic in your analytic data, you are losing significant revenue (for sure). Although mobile web technology hasn’t overtaken the desktop, according to comScore data, there is significantly mobile traffic increase in 2014 compared to 2013. You should keep your eyes from where new customers are approaching your website – it may be from tablet or smartphones or Desktop etc. So be prepared! Now let’s learn more about responsive web design and how it will benefit your online marketing strategy.

What is Responsive web design?

Matt Cutts (Head of web spam team at Google) provides a great, non-technical explanation: “Responsive web design just means that the page works totally fine whether you access the website URL with a desktop browser or whether you access that URL with mobile browser,”.  Matt Cutts also said – “Things will rescale, the page size will be taken into account.”

There is no separate version of mobile sites, tablet or Desktop versions in Responsive web design. Website should open flexibly with any respective device. Responsive web design allows any visitor to access website with best readability on all their favorite digital devices. Also it gives amazing control and creativity to apply for your website.

With Responsive web design your whole website remain same except CSS code it will change as per device browser.

User-friendly content management system (CMS ex: wordpress) is quite helpful for responsive web design. There are many ready-to-go designed templates available, which saves your time / money compared to [unlike] custom design.

Smartphones, tablets & many more devices have changed the approach toward design and user experience. Users now interacting with websites on smartphones and tablets are not the same as doing that on a desktop computer monitors. Id Website opens as desktop view having to zoom in and out to find the content you’re looking for it give bad user experience. While, content is king and discoverability of content are foremost success metrics.

User experience is one of the main reason to go with responsive web design. Now let’s talk about SEO benefits of Responsive Web Design!

1) Google Recommendation

Google recommended responsive web design as website will be common on mobile / traffic / PC. This is best way to focus on web as well as mobile users. Also, Google favors mobile friendly website for mobile search. It helps in achieving keyword ranking in mobile search.

2) Usability:

Google want to deliver best and relevant results for their visitors for any of the search term. Google will make note of immediate return to their SERPs, considering no useful or relevant information on the website. In this case, bounce rate of the website increases and your ranking will drop.

Visitors will read and share all the content they want and on whatever format they are accessing with a responsive web design

3) Duplicate Content:

There is no chance to get hit by Panda algorithm for the duplicate content in desktop, tablet or mobile version of website. There is only one URL for any webpage in all digital devices.

4) URL Structure:

Responsive websites have common files/folder for all the digital devices (mobile, tablet or PC). This makes easy for Google to index the webpages as there will be only common set of pages/files. As per the user experience is concern, this design works best with all devices and Google trust value increases.

5) Mobile Search Ranking:

There is a special preference for all devices compatible websites in the new mobile ranking strategy of Google.

With the increase in smartphones usage, there is a prediction of increase in mobile search. It may overtake desktop search queries in 2015 as according to BIA/Kelsey analysis. Responsive web design will help in achieving this.

6) Link Earning:

With responsive web design, back links are common for mobile version and desktop version of website. So the link juice from one URL to another will flow same in all formats of Digital Devices.

7) Local Search Benefits:

Smartphones have facility of Maps and phone call number. Visitors searches on web browsers for the local shops as per their need. This helps increase in shopping or inquiry about your product and thereby mobile traffic and ranking.

8) Bounce Rate and Trust Factor:

A responsive web designed site solves the problem of high bounce rate by showing same content on the desktop / mobile / tablet site. Google will interpret high bounce rate as like visitors are not interested in the content of the website. This leads to reduction in Google Trust as well as ranking drop.

9) Reduced Page Load Speed:

Page load speed is one of the keyword ranking signal in Google Search Engine as it impacts user experience. Visitor searches something on Google Search engine and if the clicked link takes time to open – it is not best for business.

Responsive web design have CSS media queries that work on respective different devices. It helps in reduction of loading time as per device.

10) Awesome User Experience = Natural Social Signals:

Responsive web design allows visitors to read and share the website content in any digital devices. Anyone can see the same shared content on social media on any of the digital devices with almost same loading speed. This helps in earning great number of social signals for your website.

Conclusion:

Going for Responsive web design for your website is a big challenge. But it will definitely put you one step ahead of your competitors. Increase in mobile traffic is a bonus. This is the age of smartphones! Keeping your website updated with latest technology will help you in your online business.

Notwithstanding how attractive and responsive your project is, you’ll definitely need quality web hosting to locate it online. This is where Softsys Hosting solutions come into play. Choose from the extensive selection of shared, VPS and dedicated hosting services and take your website to the next level of performance.

14 Oct

Web Hosting Factors That Affect SEO Rankings

SEO is a continuous process to be incorporated in your promotional activities to succeed online. Creating and making website online is like ‘Wow, I got a website and now I will start getting orders’. Sure, you are on right path for online success but there is an unanswered critical question – is it just a website or a SEO friendly website? There is a major difference between ‘a website’ and ‘SEO Friendly website’. Your website must be highly optimized with various On-Page factors and several web hosting factors. Search Engine displays list of websites with “nice look and feel” design and relevant information that the end user is asking for. Apart from improper on-page factors, web hosting issues can affect the search engine rankings too. As we all know, your website will have higher chances to receive traffic / clicks if it has higher keyword ranking in search engines.

So, let’s have a look on various factors of web hosting affecting SEO of your website.

1)      Wrong TLD

Normally, internet users search on search engines for their requirements or just enter brand name with .com web address (if they are aware of it). Other local country TLD are same as .com in their territory. As far as .com address is concerned, most of the easily remembered names (or two words until and unless it’s unique) are taken, which leads to the fact that website owners have to search something else for their domain name or consider another website extension.

For a remedy, another web extension .co was considered for TLD but it does not work well. Many website owners suffered badly after making it their primary web extension. When any user opens a domain name with .com extension and not .co extension (primary web domain), they were taken to some other parked domains or any other website. This can just harm the reputation of the firm and potentially lose a customer.

Using local TLD domains for businesses from all around the world will again harm your online marketing strategy as search engines will consider your target market is just local country.

2)      Shared hosting

Malware Infection is dangerous for any website as it can harm your website as per its characteristic. Many businesses are hugely dependent on internet and in that case if website is not live, it can affect the revenue number plus reputation. In shared hosting, your website is shared with other websites in a web server and any of the website might get infected with any small or large malware, which can affect others too.

Web Hosting companies’ keeps their servers, totally safe and secured from various malwares but even giving their best, it is not possible to avoid such incidents. Even if one of the client website might get infected by unwanted malwares, it may spread rapidly among others since they are sharing same resources in a web server. In this case, website might stop showing online or may be with warning to visitor computer like “This computer is infected with malware” in search engines results. This way, your website reputation may blow off along with the negative search engine ranking. In any way, Google or other search engines may penalize your website by removing from their database and remove the keyword ranking to protect their visitors.

3)      Database connection failures

Are you familiar with messages like “Internal server error” or “Database connection failed”? Of course, this happens on internet often when there is some database connection failure due to huge request of the same webpage from database at peak time or simply there is no database connection established.

This situation is truly irritating for any visitor and it might happen that they will either not visit your website again and / or they will not recommend to others – they may give negative reviews to their friends/relative/business partners. In summary, you are losing visitors to the website and meanwhile when this website is unavailable, it is noticed by search engines and your keyword ranking is also affected for showing error messages instead of website.

4)      Downtime

Your website should be accessible to any user around the world on 24/7 basis – 365 days a year. If your website is not up or in case there is any maintenance scheduled on the server, you should notify your website visitors by placing a webpage clarifying the same with specified time duration. Same thing applies for search engines, there is possibility of web crawlers visiting your website anytime for any latest update (if any) on the website.

During this time if visitor/ search engines detects non-availability of your website, it will imply on web performance, reputation and keyword ranking. If visitor sees no website, they will go away and search something else and from point of view of search engines, they will see no-website-seen which may penalize the website by negative keyword rank or de-indexing the website (if takes few days). Interestingly, when your website is up again after downtime, you think keyword ranking will be back again automatically? The answer is No! – Your website was punished and ranked below the competitors on the basis of several factors like relevancy, trust, etc.

Mostly web hosting companies guarantees for best uptime out of 100% and they give their best to keep this number by keeping their software’s up-to-date and highly secured from various threats along with enterprise class server/hosting environment setup.

5)      Slow site speed

Slow site speed is one of the factor used by Search Engines to determine keyword ranking.

The loading time of website depends on the webpage size, usage of large sized images, unwanted JavaScripts, third party tools, social media widgets, geographic location, server side resources etc. If your server is stormed with too many webpage request, web server will show error and ask to try again. While in shared hosting, there are limited CPU resources, this can stop process of certain requests and it leads visitors to leave the website and search something else. You can consider using CDN service for fetching static content like Javascript, images, css, etc as it will help immensely in speeding up your website.

6)      Server Location

Server location is important to avoid web latency factor. Website loading time is crucial factor in determining ranking and if a visitor from US opens a website hosted in US location, it will open quickly than from a website hosted in Singapore or Australia!

Also Search Engines use to give preference to the visitors search phrases from the same country where server is located.

7)      IP Address

If your website is hosted with shared hosting server, all the website hosted will be using same IP address. Search Engines use to lookout for the IP address while determining Keyword ranking. If the same IP address is used for any suspicious work or over-promotional work or spamming, there is a possibility that your website may be treated for same and get penalized.

8)      Compatibility for programming language used

Working in Restriction is not going to be fruitful. Whichever web hosting service you prefer, depending on the operating system, the right programming language need to be selected. This will help in incorporating best features in your website. Going for web hosting service which does not support your programming language will cost you to hire a resource or make you learn itself. Time and money will be wasted so make sure the programming language is compatible.

9)       No proper setup of 301 redirection (when moving site from old location to new location)

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, passing certain link juice to the new redirected page. 301 response code instructs the browsers and search engine bots that this webpage has been moved permanently to another location.

Implementing 301 redirection will pass all the ranking power from old location to new locations to avoid any negative keyword ranking. Old webpage is ranked for certain keywords in search engines and if in case you are willing to redesign website with same domain name, it will lots of time to work from scratch and gain the positions on search engines. Using 301 redirect techniques will save your time and money.

Improper setup of 301 redirection can make your website promotional work start from zero and any link juice earn with old webpage will be gone.

 

I hope the above information helps you in improving your website rankings and overcoming the short falls. If you are looking for SEO friendly host with reliable and fast hosting services, you can consider  Softsys Hosting. Our cloud VPS hosting plans provide 100% uptime with unique auto failover features and Softsys Dedicated Servers will provide you with exceptional performance + security with dedicated resources.

14 Sep

HTTPS / SSL Encryption – Do it for web security or Google Ranking Boost?

Google is working to make the internet safe and to take an initiative, they have adopted HTTPS encryption for their own main domain and sub-domains. It means, a secured connection is setup every time when accessing Google Search, Gmail and Google drive sub-domains.

After months of experiment in Search Ranking algorithms for the inclusion of https links, Google decided to consider https, a very lightweight signal for the minor ranking boost. Also Google mentioned that element would only have impact on “fewer than 1% of global search queries”. Although this signal is not given much weight compared to High Quality Content but as per the following phrase, they may give importance in future.

But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

On March 2014 in SMX West event, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, once expressed to include HTTPS as one of the ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. And Google had made it reality in less than five months of announcement.

HTTPS/SSL?

Full form for HTTPS is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure and SSL Stands for Secure Sockets Locket. HTTPs is the secure version of the http, while SSL is the protocol to provide secure connection between user and website. HTTPS is mostly used on E-commerce websites to make all safe transactions for online banking sites or checkout areas and also with registrations pages to secure the data.

When a visitor access HTTPS website, it undergoes encryption session with a Digital SSL Certificate, which helps stoppage of anyone other to interfere or access the data transfer. Well known browsers shows padlock icon and https:// in the address bar to show the visitors that website is secured by HTTPs.  There will be additional green address bar highlighting for the website owners with extended validation SSL certificates.

Benefits of https

  • Stoppage of man-in-the-middle attacks,
  • HTTPS could give ranking boost in search results
  • Total Privacy of User data like browsing history and credit card numbers.

Drawback

  • Page Load speed: There will be increase in page load time by adopting secured encryption for your site, as HTTPS requires one more communication between servers.
  • Redirection: Make sure to do proper http to https redirection and other canonicalization issues to avoid any keyword penalty.

Just a Tip:

1)      Google has incorporated the addition of HTTPs sites and reporting on them.

2)      There is no influence on rankings, depending on the type of certificate you use. For now. (Extended Validation, Organisation Validation or Domain Validation)

3)      You will notice the increase in “Direct Traffic” if your website is in “http” version. This is due to the traffic passes from a HTTPS site to a HTTP site, there is no idea from where it is coming from.

To get started with HTTPs, here are some of the basic tips as included in their blog:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need:
    • Single (www.website.com)
    • Multi-domain (www.website.com, www.subdomain.website.com, www.website.net)
    • Wildcard (www.website.com, www.subdomain1.website.com, www.subdomain2.website.com, etc.)
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag

Conclusion:

Going for HTTPS depends on the business, whether it is just informational or E-commerce. There has been increase in number of attacks from various malwares, Internet Fraud and session hijacking. This leads putting your business and reputation at risk. Nowadays, after suffering from various cybercrime, peoples are getting aware and doing online activities at secured and trusted websites.

At this point of time, instead of looking at the small weightage of ranking boost, website owners should be more careful to the security and trust. No Miracle going to happen for keyword ranking by https and Google is pushing for safety and more improved online security.