Your Website Sucks!

Make Your Website Suck Less!

I am very sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I need to be honest with you about your website. IT SUCKS! I know you have spent hours, well at least 30 minutes, working on your website, and I know you are very proud of it but the reality is it sucks and well you have work to do. I know it can be hard to face facts like this, but the sooner you realize it the sooner you can do something about it.

The reality is all websites suck in some way, there is no PERFECT website! That is why you need to constantly be working on your website to improve it. Test how people use your website, test new layouts, create landing pages for specific keywords. Always keep working on your site and eventually, just maybe, your website will at least suck less than it did before.

Unfortunately this is not the way most people view their website. Most people view their website as a one off. They get it done and then they don’t look at it or update it until their customers start telling them that their site sucks. Then the most common thing that is done is not to actually start working on the website, but to give it a redesign and leave it alone all over again. Time to break the cycle. Here are 10 things you can do to improve your website everyday / week / month.

  • Write a Blog Post – It can be hard to write all the time. I know but adding new content will help keep people coming to your website and talking about you. Don’t have a blog, add one. Brochure websites are old and no one wants to see them anymore.
  • Create Videos – People like video and it gives you an opportunity to show off what you do and how you do it. It can be a little more time consuming than just a regular blog post but you can post it to YouTube and you might even gain a few more visitors.
  • Clean Up Links – Links break and going back through and fixing broken links on your website can help your visitors.
  • Get a Favicon / Icon – Not only can a favicon make your website stand out to visitors when they bookmark it a decent icon can really stand out on a mobile device. That means adding more than just the 16×16 or 32×32 pixels size images that a lot of favicon creators make. Not creative? Go and download one from Free Favicon.
  • Update Your CMS – I love using WordPress for creating websites and they are regularly updating the software to make more features available and to keep it secure. It does not matter if you use WordPress or some other CMS keep it updated! It might just make the difference between being hacked or not being hacked. Need a hand? I can help you.
  • Get Mobile – There is no excuse anymore, you need a mobile website and the longer you go without one the more visitors and customers you lose. There are multiple different ways to create a mobile website from updating your theme to using a mobile url.
  • Rewrite Old Posts – Things change, pretty quickly sometimes on the Internet. Taking a few minutes to rewrite an old post, especially if it is a popular post, can help keep the traffic coming. Don’t have a blog see the first point.
  • Check Your Analytics – Everyone wants access to their analytics, but how often do you check them? Go take a look find out what is popular on your site and what people are visiting / using. Not to mention look for a way to perhaps filter out all those stupid referral spammers that keep messing up your stats.
  • Speed Up Your Website – Over time your website gets slower and doing a check of what is causing your site to slow down once in awhile is good for everyone from the search engines to every visitor you get. This can easily become a regular task that you should do just to keeps things running at top speed.
  • Fix HTML Issues – It can get boring, but fixing those little HTML things that are overlooked like titles, meta tags, image alt attributes can all make a difference on your website.

There you go ten ways to make your website suck less. It does not take a rocket scientist to make your website suck less it just takes some time and dedication. Go and make your website suck less!

Get Serious or Go Home!

Photo by:  Luca Zanon From UnSplash

One of the pieces of advice I usually give people about their website is to take it seriously. Think about it, your website is the public face of your business to the world if you don’t take it seriously then why would anyone else take you seriously. It can be hard to take your website seriously though when you get busy. Websites tend to be like New Year’s resolutions, when you launch your website you are all pumped about getting new business, or getting lots of pages views, or just having readers. Slowly the time between updates becomes longer and longer and before you know it, it has been months or even years since you last updated your website.

I know how hard it can be to take your website seriously. I recently looked at the stats here for my LGR website and realized the site has been coasting for far too long. I have failed to take my main business website seriously and it shows. Page views and visits are down and while I have made the occasional post here it has certainly not been a regular part of my weekly routine. Not only are visits down to the site the most important part of this website, helping me find new clients are down as well. How can potential new clients take me and my business seriously if the latest post here is months old?

LGR Internet Solutions Traffic over the years. It has been coasting far too long. Time to change that.
LGR Internet Solutions Traffic over the years. It has been coasting far too long. Time to change that.

I am here to say it happens to all of us. Things get busy with work and family and well just like that New Year’s resolution, updating and posting to the website slowly fall by the wayside. But that does not mean it has to stay that way and I am hear to say that things here at LGR Internet Solutions and this website are about to get serious.

First off, this post is the first of many more to come. While I am still busy with client work and family life posting here is going to become more regular. I will be posting more about the work I am doing, tips and tricks that you can use and well whatever I think is helpful for people and small businesses to keep their websites helping their business.

Second, I have already started making some major changes to the behind the scenes running of the site and there will be many more changes coming. Two of the big changes already include reworking the structure of the website. Things like permalinks, categories and tags are all on the list to clean up and fix. The domain has also been updated to use SSL across the whole website because I want you to know I am serious about your privacy.

It is time to get serious about my website, and I hope you will consider getting serious about yours. I challenge you to take a look at your website and find ways to start making it better. Start posting again, start editing again and like the photo at the top it might seem like a long a trek ahead but it will pay off.

Let’s face it, it is time to get serious about your website or close the doors. I am choosing to get serious!

Affiliate Summit West Summary

From January 8th to 10th I attended Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas. I wanted to give you an overview of some of my favourite sessions and other activities while I was down there. Below are some of the sessions that stood out for me.

How to Quadruple Revenue Using Existing Traffic

I attended this session for a couple reasons. First was the fact that Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners (Twitter @tim_ash) was a part of it. I read his book Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions and I wanted to hear him speak. The second reason was I have seen a trend on some of my affiliate websites over the last year of lower conversion rates and some ideas on how to improve things is always good. Always looking for ideas on how to improve things. It was a good session and I was able to come away with some actionable items to implement on some of my sites (including this one at some point).

Affiliate Marketing in the Age of Social Media

I will admit I have never heard of Dave Taylor before. Perhaps it is because I live in Canada or I just live in my own little world most of the time, but he did remind me of a lot of things that I agree with regarding the social web.

It was also interesting that this session took place on the same day that Google announced that Google+ would be integrated into search results. The idea that shopping and referring people to products and services is a social activity not an algorithm. People are social creatures and we look for advice on our purchasing decisions from other people. This was one of the reasons I knew when Google announced Google+ that it would be important to be on there, but that is a whole other post.

The long term goal of an affiliate is not necessarily to just get the sale but to help people make a decision by interacting with them on a social level. While I agree with this ideal, it is not always easy. Some merchants do not allow social media marketing, though most will allow you to link to your own website review.

There was a bit of discussion regarding Pinterest, and how it allows affiliate links. How long that will last will be up for debate, but for now it has potential to be a social / affiliate channel.

In the end I was reminded of a quote from Stephen King.

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”
– Stephen King

In affiliate marketing I think there is a similar idea. I will create affiliate websites that will help people and add value, but if that does not work and I can’t make a sale I will go for the quick and easy datafeed website that will rank well and get the click. Ok it might not transfer over so well but hopefully you get the point. Social media affiliate marketing is hard and it is amazing how easy and well a datafeed affiliate website can do to just get the click sometimes.

Driving Inbound Calls from Mobile Search

One of my goals for attending Affiliate Summit was to look for new ways to promote affiliate products and services. Watching the growth of mobile over the last little while made me want to go to this session for ideas on how to use it to increase the sales. It was an interesting session and I learned a lot about where to start in the mobile search and driving calls. While it was interesting I also realized that the majority of the merchants I work with do not allow any kind of search marketing and I would have to look at some new merchants to expand in this direction.

This session did get me thinking more about the merchants I do work with that offer mobile apps. Many merchants offer mobile apps and want affiliates to promote the fact that they have mobile apps but many of those merchants mobile apps are actually an affiliate leak for me to promote. People could end up installing, creating an account and using the mobile app from the merchant being referred by me but there is no way to track it to me leaving no way for me to get credit for a sale. There needs to be a way to track affiliate generated mobile app installs.

Lots of ideas and thoughts generated from this session, even if they were not necessarily the intended idea of the session. I know I will be looking at more mobile friendly websites and merchants this coming year.

Aside from sessions I was able to meet with several merchants I work with in person for the first time. It was nice to put a face and a name together and chat about their product/service and how to better promote it. This was the most valuable time I spent at the conference and something I will be making more time for in the future.

I hurt my back before heading down to Vegas for the conference so going out every night and partying was not high on my list of things to do. Not that it would be anyways, but I did head over to the SeaWorld event with their Animal Ambassadors. While I am not a SeaWorld affiliate, this did make me want to go to visit one of their parks. The penguins stole the show and my wife and kids were extremely jealous that I got so close to them. Not to mention the stuffed animals I brought back for the kids are now their new favourites. Thanks to SeaWorld for a great show!

Overall it was a good trip to Vegas and Affiliate Summit. I will likely look at going again at some point in the future but can’t see making it an annual or regular trip. Just to difficult to make the time in the busy family/work schedule it seems.

If you were at Affiliate Summit what were your favourite sessions?

High Resolution QR Codes

I decided a little while ago to attend Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas in January 2012. For the conference I needed some business cards and wanted to add a QR Code to the card to make it easy to contact me by scanning the code. The problem is most of the QR code generators that you find out on the Internet only generate a low resolution QR code that goes all blurry when you try to print them.

Thankfully doing a Google search for lead me to the QReate & Track QR Code Generator. They allow you to create high resolution QR codes for free if you do one at a time. If you need to do bulk QR code generation you would have to sign up and pay.

For my limited use all I needed was to create a couple of high resolution QR codes for printing on my business card. I used the web address generator since I wanted to allow people to come here to my website and visit either my contact page or a new tweet me page that allows people to send me a tweet easily. The generator allows you to create QR codes of more than just URL’s including email addresses, business card information, event information and more. You can choose the colour and then just have to download your high resolution QR code.

I just got my business cards and the codes work great. The colour is a little off from what I wanted but that is my own fault. Silly me for forgetting that RGB and CMYK print different. If I need to get more cards printed I will have to remember that.

BOTW Promo Code

There are not very many directories I will pay money to get into these days, but Best of the Web (BOTW) is one of the few that I will still find the time and money to submit to. BOTW does not offer many promotions very often so when one comes out you should try to take advantage of it. For October only you can save 20% off of all directory submissions including those for the UK and Blog directories.

Use the promo code SAVE20 when prompted for the promotional code and you will save 20% off the price of your submission whether you choose to pay for a one-time or annual review fee. I usually go for the one time fee of $299.95USD, even though it is a little more expensive than the recurring fee, but you only need to pay it once. Saving 20% on $299.95 saves you $59.99! Pretty good savings for a quality directory.

Visit the Best of the Web directory and submit your site today! The 20% off ends at the end of October!

Email Website Promotion

Everyone has email, in fact email is one of the main reasons people have an Internet connection in the first place. People understand email, it is easy to use and lets them stay in touch with friends, family and get the information that they are looking for. Email is also one of the best ways to promote your website. I am not talking about buying some email list purchased from some email scrapper on a web forum, but some simple additions to the things you already do.

Email Signature

Just think about all of the emails that you send out everyday, each one of those emails can help to remind people that you have a website and can help people find you. Emails are often forwarded to others giving your email signature even more exposure.

Email This

Social bookmarking and networking website icons and links grace the bottom of most blog posts and pages these days, but don’t forget the email this link. While social bookmarking and networking is popular it still does not have the reach of email. If people like your website giving them the option to email the URL to someone is a great traffic builder. I know my Video Rambler blog gets regular referral traffic from people emailing the posts to their friends.

Feedburner Email Subscriptions

I love RSS but it is not for everyone. Thankfully Feedburner offers a RSS to email service to allow people to subscribe to your blog RSS feed by email. Update your blog with a new post and it is automatically emailed out to all of your RSS email subscribers. I use the free Feedburner RSS to email service for this blog. It takes care of the basics and is easy to setup. You are welcome to subscribe if you would like to see what it looks like. Emails are delivered around 3:00am CST.

Build an Email List

Creating and owning your own email list to promote your website is the best method. You know the email list was created properly and there are some very good companies out there to you can use to manage your email list. The three email marketing companies that I have heard and read good things about are AWeber, iContact and Constant Contact. You might want to give those a try first.

Promoting your website with email is still an excellent and inexpensive marketing method. Simply by adding your website URL to your email signatures, making it easy for people to share your website with a mail this link and creating your own email list will pay off. By using good email marketing list companies you will know the list is created appropriately and will be easy to manage, but even using the Feedburner RSS to email list is a great start to email list marketing.

What email marketing techniques do you use that have helped to promote your website?

Social Proof – The Masses Can’t Be Wrong

Photo by Kevin BriodyWe all want our blogs to be a success, we toil day after day to create unique content, participate in social media to help drive traffic to our sites, and do our best to make the RSS feed subscription button easy to see and click. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that helps people determine if their behaviour is appropriate. It is sometimes also know as the bandwagon effect. Little did you know that social proof might be playing a larger part in the success of your blog than you might realize.

Look at your blog, what forms of social proof do you use to show people that they should continue to visit and subscribe to your blog? One of the most noticeable items of social proof is the feed count. We love to display the number of loyal readers that we have reading our blog. Here at Epiblogger we choose not to display our feed count, but as of this writing our feed count sits at 86 subscribers. It has gone as high as 96. Displaying your feed count is a form of social proof. The theory goes if you have 20,000 subscribers certainly your blog must be worth reading and people are more likely to subscribe to your blog. The reverse is also true, if you only have 10 readers why would people bother to subscribe to your blog. There are many people that will argue that they don’t subscribe to blogs if they don’t like the content, but once you have a decent RSS subscriber count it can be worthwhile to display the number. It can lead to more subscribers on a regular basis.

Another form of social proof on a blog is the comments. Blogs that get more comments appear more lively and are more interesting to other readers. It encourages new readers to take part and creates more of a sense of community. As of writing this post Epiblogger has 97 posts and 382 comments. that is a comment to post ratio of 3.94 comments per post. Find ways to highlight your comments. Those conversations and activity help people to feel they have a place on your blog and can help draw people into your blog. Trackbacks and pingbacks are also an important part of the comments. It shows people what kind of conversations have been going on around the web because of your post.

MyBlogLog and BlogCatelog widgets and others like them are great social proof widgets on blogs. They should you the faces and sometimes the names of the people that have visited your blog. they also provide a way for people to join your blog community on those websites where people can see even more social proof of how popular your blog is. I think it is great that Epiblogger has 30 members at MyBlogLog. If that helps people to find us and keeps people reading then great.

Social media can provide another form of social proof on your blog. If you are active on Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg or another social media community let people know on your blog. If you have hundreds of followers and take part in the communities it can help boost your blog profile. Many people don’t subscribe to RSS feeds but will follow you on the social media websites you participate in and come back again and again to read your posts.

What other forms of social proof do you use and see on blogs that help to draw people to be regular readers and visitors to your blog?

Photo by Kevin Briody

Blogger Cards are Here

Blogger CardI talked about the free blogger cards that ooprint was offering in May and thought I would give an update that the cards I had ordered showed up in the mail today. They are not bad, the paper stock is a standard business card paper stock and they look pretty sharp. Overall they are nice but there are a couple cards that were damaged in shipping. Not badly, but enough that I might not hand them out. It probably had to do with the fact that the envelope they were mailed in was large enough that they could move around and the corners caught on the envelope and bent. I took the few bent ones out and gave them to my son to look at. Three cards out of 100 is not bad I suppose, but it is something that they could easily stop from happening by using a better packaging. If you are looking for some business cards to help promote your blog you might want to take a look at the ooprint offer. I will use the 100 97 I have left to help promote Epiblogger, and I will think abut ordering some more for myself later on in the summer.

Free Blogger Cards

I am cheap, I fully admit that I don’t like to spend money if I don’t have too. Some people might call it frugal, but I like to call things what they really are, in this case I am cheap. Being cheap means that I am always on the lookout for a good deal and occasionally I find one. If you are looking for some nice looking business cards to help promote your blog in the offline world take a look at this offer by ooprint. You can get 100 free blogger business cards for free! See I told you I was cheap.

They offer several pages of free designs for you to start with. The designs might not be stunning but there are is probably one there that will appeal to most people. You can edit the text and font sizes and colours of the card but I could not find a way to change the placement of the text. I edited some of the fields, since people that work online don’t always have a phone or fax, so I added my MSN and Skype addresses instead of the traditional phone and fax.

Of course the free cards are a hook to get you to buy more cards and to get the opportunity to up sell you to more options. Things like adding your own custom logo, removing the ooprint logo from the back of the card will cost you a little more, getting thicker paper will cost you. There is also the pitch of selling you options such as a business card case and and carrying case. If you can resist the up sell the cards will not cost you very much, only the cost of shipping, which to me in Canada was only $5.90. It would be nice if they had the option to accept PayPal for payment, but they do take Visa and Mastercard.

There are a lot of online printing companies that offer free business cards but this is the first company that I have come across that has targeted bloggers specifically with free business cards. While business cards might not be essential for bloggers they could come in handy, especially if you are just starting out or if your blog is your hobby and you would just like some cards occasionally to hand out. Eventually I will order some Epiblogger business cards, but until I get around to doing that I will enjoy my free cards from ooprint.

Website Promotion is a Social Activity

Recently I had a conversation with a client that is wanting to raise the profile of their website ask me if buying text links on other sites was a good idea. They had read my blog post about Text Link Ads and thought it might help them to increase the traffic on their website. Interestingly enough, lately I have gotten information from a service called that offers a similar service to Text Link Ads.

Since it was my blog here that started this conversation I pointed them to some other posts that I have written about how Google has come out against text links since my post went up.

While I might not like what Google is doing regarding text links I told my client that to be safe in the eyes of Google it would probably not be a good idea to buy or sell text links because they might ultimately get banned from the great Google god and be worse off than they are.

The conversation was not all bad news. Here are some of the options I gave them that they could use to help raise their profile in the search engines, but more importantly to help them connect with people that will be interested in what they offer on their website.

  • Add a blog to their website and because it would help them to add new and fresh content on a regular basis and Google loves fresh new content.
  • Search for some forums and blogs that are related to their website and take part in the conversations there.
  • I told them about Twitter and how they could use it to help connect with people that are interested in what they do.
  • I reminded them about creating some videos to upload to YouTube and other video sharing websites to help them gain some more exposure.
  • I reminded them about adding their website to some more SEO friendly directories.
  • I told them about StumbleUpon and how they could help use it to find people interested in their website.
  • I told them they could share some of their photos on Flickr and allow people to use them on other websites.
  • I told them about posting some of their PDF’s online at Scribd to make it easier for people to read them on their website and allow others to post the documents on other websites and help their information get out there.
  • I talked about how they could look at making a mobile web version of their website and (hopefully) blog to help people find them on the go.
  • I talked about social bookmarking and how many social bookmarking websites their are that they cold start to use and how they could add a social bookmarking widget to the pages of their website to make it easy for people to bookmark them.
  • I talked about RSS and email and how they can use it to stay in contact with people that are interesting in their website.
  • I mentioned Squidoo and that they could use it to create a mini-website (lens) talking about there main website.

It was a long conversation. Thinking about it there is a lot more we could have talked about. In the end I think my client went away with a lot of ideas that were very overwhelming. It was probably way too much information for them to take in. I don’t know if they will use any of my advice but here it is for them to reference if they ever need need it again.

What are some of the best ways you have found to help you raise your websites profile?