WordPress: When not to use it for your website

WordPress is a very powerful CMS for building your site on, it’s actually the most common content management system used online to this day. For this reason it’s often a lot of people’s go-to application when they’re looking to launch a website. There’s lots of justification for this, it’s popular for a reason, but there’s a little more to it that not everyone understands or takes into account.

Suitability for task

If you’re looking to launch a simple website consisting of a few pages, using a fully featured CMS like wordpress can be huge overkill. If all your website consists of is a bit of intro text and some contact details this could be accomplished using static html files rather than a full content management system. Flat simple pages would load infinitely faster and require zero maintenance.

Plugins for wordpress allow it to meet the needs of lots of users, however you need to remember that by relying extensively on plugins from the outset means that you’re attempting to make the software do something it’s not originally designed to do. It’s a workaround for all intents and purposes. You can use plugins to turn wordpress into a full e-commerce platform, if that’s a wise decision or not is another question. As wordpress gets updated (and it DOES need to be updated), so do all the plugins you rely on. The more plugins your site uses the greater the risk of compatibility issues.

Security

This is the big one. As wordpress is so popular, it’s one of the main targets for hackers who will seek to compromise your site. Any site using wordpress is many many times more likely to be attacked than a less popular platform. This is because the same techniques and exploits that apply to one wordpress site of a given version number will apply to all other wordpress sites of that version. As such it makes attacking wordpress sites much more worthwhile.

Any wordpress site will be attacked from time to time. Successful attacks are normally due to the site not being kept up to date with security updates. These need to be applied as soon as they’re released to keep the site safe.

Customisation

Firstly, it’s possible to customise every single aspect of wordpress and present a website in basically any style or format you desire. However, the effort required to position a logo in a certain place, or create a new sidebar is often far greater than if the site was a bespoke creation. It can be easy to take on a basic theme and put your logo on it, but if you have any specific design intentions then the customisation work can often take many more hours than you might imagine as you’re working within the constraints of the wordpress CMS.

A system you used with the intention of saving time / money can actually cost you both of these in the long run unless you’re clear about your goals from the outset.

WordPress is a fantastic tool when used correctly. A competent agency (such as Dark Cherry Creative..) will keep their wordpress sites up to date, secure and be able to customise them for your requirements. Be wary about casually launching a homebrew wordpress site that won’t be monitored to kept up to date as it doesn’t take long for problems to arise for the uninitiated!

Looking to have a site built on the wordpress platform? Get in touch, we’re the experts!

Get your small business found locally: My Business (formally Places)

Part one of this series discussed how to use structured data on your pages so that Google can pick up essential details about your business, and best work out what it’s actually about. Google is pretty smart about categorising pages these days, but the same old rule holds true that the more cues and clues you can give it, the better.

Google My Business is a commonly overlooked feature that allows you to control how your business information appears on result pages. This is separate from actual search results, it’s the section on the right hand side of the main listings that show you visitors your company information. This is most commonly displayed when somebody searches for your business using a “branded” keyword, or basically searches for your company by its name.

These days very few people think to type out a website address, browsers and search engines are great at autocompleting phrases and company names. When is the last time you started typing “www.” and got all the way to “.co.uk” without your phone, browsers or tablet guessing what you’re looking for first? People will often type your company name directly into the address or search bar, and this is when they’ll be greeted by the Google My Business listing. Assuming that is that you’ve gone to the trouble to create it

Google My Business can be a powerful tool, you can edit your listing to include a brief intro to your business, perhaps show the sector it operates in, link to your website, a whole bunch of things! You can go further though, you can allow customers to publically post reviews of your business here which (assuming they’re positive!) will help inspire confidence is your business.

Depending on what sort of business you operate, you can use this listing to show pictures of your premises, inside and out. If you operate a showroom or something of a visual nature this can be a powerful tool.

The most obvious things you want here however are all the ways customers can get in touch, a website address is an obvious one, but you ideally also want your telephone number, address (with map) and your business hours.

We can create all this for you when we launch your site as one of our promotional packages, or we can put it together as a standalone service if you need it. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or drop us an email, make sure you don’t neglect it! You can set up your listing by going to https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/

Get your small business found locally: structured data

Part one: structured data

So you’ve got a website, now you can just sit back and watch the visitors roll in right? Customers will call, business will flourish and all you needed to do was have a website built and put it live. Well, not really.

Getting the site live is the first step, what message does the site convey if nobody is there to read it? Modern search engines (read: Google) are very good at working out what’s worthwhile content and what’s not, however unless you give your site the best possible chance of at ranking you’re likely to sit below your competitors on the result pages.

Google has what’s called an “index”, basically it crawls the internet continuously, caching page content, working out what’s relevant and deciding where to list pages and in what order. A huge number of factors dictate how deeply Google crawls your page and what it decides to do with the information.

Specifically here we’re talking about local businesses. As a bare minimum Google will want to know your location, contact details, opening hours and what type of services you offer. Some of this it can work out itself, but if you want your page to appear as a local search result (the type with a little map next to it, reviews, opening hours etc) then you need to do a bit of extra work.

Structured data is a phrase coined in search engine land to describe specific metadata on your page, like the categories mentioned above. By correctly including these items in your page you’re instantly telling search engines some really key pieces of information to help it display your local listing correctly. Without these we find that the local listing is unlikely to appear which will hugely affect the chance of your customers finding the service you offer.

We can ensure this information is included in your current website with a quick site health check, get in touch for more information.

Next time, the Google places business listing, a free service that a surprising amount of people ignore.  With this you can supply descriptions of your business, pictures of your premises as well as information on physical locations.

Have a Banging Night!

Happy New Year from the whole team, stay safe and we’ll see you in 2019. Thank you to all our customers through 2018, your business is much appreciated. Please get in touch with anything we can do for you in the New Year – we look forward to working with you!

Online visibility in 2018

It used to be that having a website was the beginning, middle and end of your online presence. You launch your new all-singing all-dancing website then sit back and watch customers roll in. The thing is; the Internet is always evolved and reinventing itself. Norms become passé and get replaced by new mediums and trends.

What am I missing?

The first and most obvious would be social signals. We always recommend that you have some sort of visibility on a few social platforms and plug these into your website in a meaningful manner. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious being that it’s another medium for customers to find your company / website. There is also the fact that having this social presence gives more weight to your website, in turn making it more likely to be found.

Which social channels?

This depends a little on what sort of business / website you run, not all mediums are suitable for all companies. As a bare minimum we always recommend a Facebook business page, an Instagram account (you’ll need something visual to share though!) and a Twitter account if you intend to publish updates and news.

If you intend to publish lengthier articles then it’s well worth having your own blog, you can then use your social channels to announce to your followers that you’ve published new content.

We always advise on what’s the most suitable for you when we build your web presence. For example if you happen to have a lot of tutorial videos then it would be an excellent idea to use Youtube for your video content, this can tie in with your website material.

Business listings, location location…

If you have a physical product to sell, or you have an actual branch / store – the google places / maps listing is hugely important. It gives local customers a hugely inflated chance of finding your company details and website. You can show pictures of your business, opening times etc to customers before they even get as far as clicking on your site. Local marketing tools like this can be hugely powerful. We can always set this up for you as part of your website package.

It’s all about taking a holistic approach to your online marketing, rather than simply launching a website. Have a chat with our team for more information.

URL’s, what’s in a name?

We buy lots of domain names for customers, lots. Some of which know exactly what they’re looking for and have done their research, some have even jumped the gun and bought their own domain name to protect their brand. What’s more common however is a new company approaches our team seeking advice over the choice of domain name.

I can just choose my company name can’t I?

Well, in an ideal world, yes you could. However the reality is that the Internet has been around a while now. A lot of people have websites and a lot of companies are on the internet. What’s often the case is that customers put effort into branding their company and growing their business, only to find out that when they want a domain name it’s already taken. Often it’ll be an unrelated business at the other side of the country, but it’s still gone.

My domain name has gone! What do I do?

All is not lost, thankfully there’s a greater choice than ever before with TLD (Top Level Domain) name extensions. It used to be that you needed to choose a .co.uk domain name or a .com if appropriate. These days there’s a huge list, way too many to list here, but if “superbuilders.co.uk” was taken (it is) you could choose superbuilders.info, superbuilders.club, superbuilders.store or superbuilders.app. The list goes on and on.

But I want a traditional TLD, mine is taken.

A good option if for a smaller local company is to pick a geographic domain name, using the example above you could choose superbuilders-yorkshire.co.uk, this would have the added benefit of telling your customers (and search engines) about the area you operate in.

Somebody has my domain name, but doesn’t use it?

This is quite common, often these were bought for a reason but never used, or maybe the company as closed and they’ve yet to hand back their domain name. If there’s no site on a domain it may be worth keeping an eye on it. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to buy it at some point in the future if it’s not being used. If you use http://whois.sc you can see exactly when the domain name lapses and maybe be able to snap it up!

New Year / New Business

Why now is the right time to launch a website for your services.

This might seem like a strange statement, surely there’s little point in launching a new website or web project so late in the year? Actually that couldn’t be further from the truth.

For a lot of companies, January / February tend to be fairly quiet times, customers have overspent at Christmas and they’re waiting for their credit card statements to land. There’s a lot of evidence (as well as our own personal experience!) to suggest that these “quiet times” are actually used for reducing costs, re-costing supplies, putting contracts out to tender etc.  All in the interest of reducing costs while business is slower.

What the start of the year actually is, in reality, is a golden opportunity to get a foot in the door. This can pay dividend for the rest of the year, you’ve got the chance to win new contracts and attract new custom while their actively looking to streamline their spending. January / February are when potential customers are busy doing their research!

This holds true for a variety of different industries. It’s especially true of markets that are price sensitive. If you could provide vehicle maintenance for a fleet of company vehicles for a vastly reduced price (for example), there’s a good chance that you’d be able to win a lucrative new contract for the year ahead.

A website provides the potential for vastly increased company exposure, by having a web presence you’re instantly increasing the chance of customers finding your company and using your services. If you’re currently without a website, or maybe yours is in need of a revamp, maybe now is the time to do it?

Get in touch with our team for more information.

Why do I need a website?

why do i need a website?

This is a genuine question we get asked all the time, people have been told they need a website but don’t necessarily know the reasons for it.

Let’s break it down

Depending on the sort of business you operate, a website can have a number of applications. The sort of customer that tends to ask why they need a website is the customer that does something not intrinsically linked with the internet. A company selling car detailing products online already knows why they need a website – it’s a core part of their business model!

A good example might be a local plumber. A trade that doesn’t specifically require a website in order to function, however the benefits of having one are really substantial.

Visibility: This is the most obvious. At its most basic level, people hear company names or get a company recommended. What’s the first thing they do? Generally, they tap it into Google to locate the company contact details. If they have a web presence and they’re easily findable – that’s a potential customer that’s going to make contact vs a customer that will probably end up finding another similar company first.

Authority: Extremely important and often underestimated! A company that has no website address and a free email address (like barrythornton_dirtbikelover@hotmail.co.uk) is not going to come across to a prospective customer as looking especially professional. It makes a world of difference for a customer to find an attractive website, easily findable with examples of work, testimonials, contact details and a proper email address (info@barrysdirtbikes.co.uk might be better in this case!).

Perceived value: This is also less obvious. A company operating from an unbranded white van, with no website, no email address etc. will have the appearance of a budget service provider. As such, there’s research to suggest that the amount customers deem an appropriate cost for the services rendered will be lower. If a tradesman turns up in a smartly presented van with sign writing, has a website and proper branding they actually have a higher perceived value, hence will generally invoice their services at a higher rate.

I hope this gives you some food for thought if you were going to ask why you need a website. If you’ve still got questions – get in touch!

 

Instant Website vs Bespoke Website

There has been a fairly large spike in demand for websites across a variety of sectors; this demand shows no signs of abating. Some of these sectors are made up of larger companies with disposable cash flow to allocate to large full-featured websites, however there are a large number of small businesses that would also benefit from a website.

This is where the “instant website” companies come in, they promise a simple and easy entry for companies needing a web presence. Sounds great in theory right? Some prices are simple too low to ignore, so what do you actually get for your money?

The “instant 1-click website”

Well they do what they say on the tin, so to speak. You’ll receive a site that contains your contact details and not normally much more. The normal method of doing this is that the company providing the web services has a number of templates to choose from, and you simply drop your company name and contact details in there.

It’s a website and it has your name on it. Most people just leave it at that, putting a big check mark next to “website” on their to do list.

Website templates vs bespoke website

Sorry, there are quite a few differences. The price that seemed too good to be true, often is! With a traditional custom made website you receive a site with a design, look and feel that’s tailored to your individual company needs. As long as you choose a competent digital agency that is.

The problem with instant website templates

Here’s the biggest issue, they’re hugely generic. The norm is to feature a large general themed image that can be applied to a huge variety of different businesses, think Moonpig greeting card with your company name in plain text.

The image this conveys is somewhat weak, and does nothing for your branding. Part of any good website is cementing the actual company image and branding, then conveying the message of your company to the viewer.  A “one size fits all” template can’t possibly do a good job of this, the template company don’t know you, they’ve never met you, and they don’t understand your business.

Fully featured bespoke websites

For any company serious about their web presence, this is honestly the way to go, and we’re not just saying that because we happen to specialise in websites!

When we take on a client we can make the site fit your budget wherever possible, we’ll work with you to deliver a site that will work for your company effectively, rather than just putting your name on a page.

We start from the bottom and work upwards, company branding is always at the centre of any effective website. Initially we always look to focus on branding, logos and related imagery, then look at building a site around this that is true to your message.

The benefits of a bespoke website

A bespoke website will always cost a little more, there’s no way of getting around this, there’s simply more work involved. But there are a huge number of benefits:

  • We’ve met you and understand your company needs
  • We’re real people that want to see you succeed
  • You gain a technical partner any ally, we’re on hand to help with any questions you might have
  • No technical knowledge required, we’re experts – you don’t have to be
  • You get the exact site you want, not a compromise

Some food for thought next time you consider a one-click instant website. Get in touch with any requirements you may have – we love to hear from you.

Get in touch by visiting our contact page

Mobile-first Google indexing is here

Noticed any changes in your site rankings lately? Google have just rolled out their “mobile first” algorithm, you’ll most likely receive an email notification from Google webmaster tools if you’re enrolled.

What does this mean?

Put simply, it means that google is now looking at the mobile version of your website instead of the desktop version when deciding where your site should rank. Assuming you’ve got an up to date responsive design this could result in a traffic boost. If your site doesn’t cater for mobile users however you may find yourself penalised and your site pushed down the listings.

Am I affected?

This should be fairly easily spotted by looking at your traffic in Google Analytics, if there is a noticeable dip around mid-September then you may want to take a look at how your site performs on mobile devices.

What is expected?

Basically, your site needs to offer a seamless transition to smaller screen sizes without any horizontal scrolling. Elements need to be of a decent enough size to see clearly and no elements should be unusable. Speed is also a factor – heavyweight slow sites don’t typically works as well on mobile devices due to their lower bandwidth.

What can I do?

We’re experts at mobile websites – we can take your existing site and make it work, or even offer you a brand new site that will work on anything you can throw at it. With more users than ever before using mobile devices to access websites, mobile compliance cannot be ignored.

Take a look at our mobile website services page (http://darkcherrycreative.co.uk/services/web_mobile)for more information

Further reading

Google Webmaster Tools: https://www.google.com/webmasters/

Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/

Best practices for mobile-first indexing: https://developers.google.com/search/mobile-sites/mobile-first-indexing