How to Set Up a Website for Your Small Business

If you operate a small business, having a website is essential. While businesses of the past had the option of utilizing a website for their products and services, today’s market demands that companies have a decent site. Otherwise, your business is likely to fall behind.

But just having a website is also not enough. Building a site that will attract customers and create conversions requires that it is appealing, functional, and easy to navigate. If your website is too slow or requires too many steps to make a purchase, you may lose customers forever.

If you’re brand new to setting up a website, below is some guidance that may be useful.

Establish Your Purpose

Establishing and defining the purpose of your website is absolutely crucial for its success. When potential customers land on your page, the purpose of your company and what you’re selling should be abundantly clear. The purpose will, of course, vary across businesses, and it may be that you don’t have much to explain. Just make sure that your purpose is crystal clear so that patrons of your site know what they are there for.

Decide on a Good Host

Hosting is vitally essential for the performance of your website. Popular hosting companies include:

  • Bluehost
  • HostGator
  • GreenGeeks
  • InMotion
  • SiteGround

Depending on your tech needs and budget, hosting can cost anywhere from $2 to $100+ per month. In terms of the type, you can opt for either shared hosting, which means you’ll share a server with other sites, or dedicated hosting, which means you’ll have your own private server.

The latter is obviously more expensive, but it means you’re not at the mercy of other websites and the potential for slow bandwidth speed. Whichever host you choose, ensure you select one that has everything you need in terms of support, security, and site performance.

Choose a Domain

Your domain name is as valuable as the name of your business. It is the URL that you will be sharing to promote your site, so it needs to be short, descriptive, easy to type, and jargon-free. Included in this is your top-level domain (TLD) and whether you will go for .com, .net, .org, etc. Depending on whether your site is international, you’ll need to do some research on the best TLD for your business. Once you’ve chosen your domain and TLD, you can visit sites like Wix, GoDaddy, or Squarespace to find out whether your name is available or already taken.

Create Engaging, Easy-to-use Pages/Interface

As you’re building your site, you must create pages that are memorable, engaging, and impressionable. The last thing you want is for people to land and leave, all before exploring your services. To do this, you’ll need to create an eye-catching interface with excellent content. As this can be the more challenging aspect of website building, you may want to hire a custom website design company. These experts can make your ideas reality while providing the technical know-how and experience to ensure the site is sleek and efficient.

Setting up a website for a small business is challenging, but not impossible. With the right guidance and support, you can be well on your way to having a well-designed and engaging site that customers will want to return to time and again.

 

4 Ways to Teach Employees Best Cyber Security Practices

Cyber security is something that every business owner should have on their priority list. Not only do you need to be able to have methods of protecting your clients’ information that they have entrusted you with, but you also need to be able to keep your employees’ information safe and secure. Everything from personal information to bank details are susceptible to cyber threats if not safeguarded appropriately.

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to implement the right systems and practice cyber security measures yourself, your information can still fall prey to cyber-attacks if your employees aren’t adequately trained in cyber security as well.

With that in mind, here are four ways to teach your employees the best cyber security practices so that you can help keep your company safe and protected from any attempted breaches.

1. Understand Cyber Security Yourself

The first thing that you will want to do prior to educating your employees is to educate yourself. There are a number of cyber security practices that you will want to learn more about so that you can be the one spearheading your security efforts. While there is merit to consulting with cyber security experts, there is no substitute for obtaining that knowledge for yourself. You can earn a degree pertaining to cyber security online via an accelerated program. Find out more information at https://studyonline.ecu.edu.au/.

 

2. Place an Emphasis on Training

You can’t expect your employees to maintain good cyber security practices without the proper training. Furthermore, that training shouldn’t be just a one-time thing. You should start the training process for cyber security at your company right from the onboarding process.

Furthermore, the world of cyber security is constantly evolving and changing. This means that the manner in which employees at your company are trained should be an ongoing process as well. Make sure that all employees are kept up to date with the latest developments as they pertain to your company’s particular security measures.

3. Check in Via Evaluations

From time to time it becomes necessary to conduct evaluations with your employees concerning various aspects of your company’s internal operations. Such evaluations might pertain to employee satisfaction or other things of that nature. These evaluations can provide you with valuable insight into how your employees are feeling about their job situation.

You can also conduct evaluations and surveys in order to discover where your workers are at in regard to their cyber security knowledge. If the results of the surveys and evaluations indicate a lapse in knowledge, then you will be able to conduct a training in order to bring people up to speed.

4. Encourage Questions

Oftentimes, employees can have a tendency to avoid asking questions out fear of appearing inadequate. When it comes to cyber security, though, you don’t want to leave anything up to chance. For this reason, you need to make sure that you encourage your workers to ask questions if and when they come up.

What You Need to Know about the Latest Cyber Security Threats

Nobody would disagree with you if you said that cybersecurity is essential. However, if you asked them to take time out of their day or inconvenience themselves in the name of cybersecurity, you might find that people are less agreeable. This is because although people understand the term, they can’t quite connect it up with how it is relevant to them.

What are the risks

The thing most at risk from threats to your cybersecurity is your sensitive information, particularly customer information. Hackers will try to get hold of financial information, which poses a clear financial risk, but they will also find and sell valuable customer information. This then not only damages the reputation of your business but could mean that you are fined for not properly safeguarding sensitive data.

Cybercriminals will also leverage fragile connectivity so that they can use ransomware to disrupt your business and, in particular, the IoT (Internet of Things). If you have a lot of smart technology, this could pose a great deal of risk.

They are evolving as technology does

Cybercriminals are intelligent. As technology evolves, the threats evolve too. More and more businesses are utilising the cloud to store customer data, and as they do, the threat to that data is growing. This is creating new challenges, especially for small businesses.

AI and machine learning are the emerging technologies that everyone is getting excited about. Unfortunately, just as we can utilise this technology to improve our businesses, so cybercriminals can utilise it to expose weaknesses in our defences and make their attacks more effective. Similarly, creative cybercriminals can ‘poison’ machine learning, by sneaking in malicious code that causes the programme to malfunction.

Even smart contracts such as those used by Ethereum aren’t safe. It’s such a new technology that researchers are still finding bugs that can be exploited. This is something that any cybersecurity policy will need to cover in the future.

How you can be prepared

For small businesses, staying on top of cybersecurity can seem like an unending task that is taking you away from the core functions of your business. Plus, because cybercriminals are evolving so quickly, it can be hard to stay on top of what you need to be doing to keep your business safe. To give yourself the best possible chance of keeping your business safe, you could enlist a small business IT support provider. You can pay the experts to keep your business safe, while you do what you do best.

There are also some measures that can be implemented quickly and efficiently to up your security level, both in your business and personal life:

  • Encrypt your data, especially customer data.
  • Backup your system so that if you are the victim of a ransomware attack, you don’t lose everything.
  • Educate your staff on cybersecurity, particularly on phishing attacks, which will often be targeted at employee email addresses.
  • Ensure that customer data is secured behind a firewall.
  • Be mindful of social media; people create fake accounts that they will use to gain access to your data. Only befriend people online who you know actually exist.
  • Limit the amount of personal data you put online. If it’s not there, nobody can steal it!
  • Keep your software updated. Software companies will release updates to fix bugs, including vulnerabilities to Cyber Attack.
  • Use multi-factor authentication. It’s a bit annoying but effective.

Finally, try hacking yourself. If you can get in, then you need to rethink your security.

How to Create a More Forward-Thinking Organization

If your business wants to secure many customers, blow its competitors out the water, and enjoy superb growth, it is crucial to invest in various technologies and outside-the-box ideas.

However, developing an innovative business can be complex, as there are many technologies, employees, and processes you might need to consider.

To move with the times and keep up with your rivals, read the following advice on how to create a more forward-thinking organization.

Provide Your Team with Creative Freedom

Strict rules can often stifle the creative process. To create unique, engaging marketing campaigns and sales strategies, you must provide your staff with more freedom to think outside the box.

To provide greater creative freedom, you must:

  • Encourage brainstorming sessions
  • Listen to your employees’ ideas
  • Request unique ideas
  • Ask for your staff members’ thoughts or opinions on a campaign or project
  • Promote collaboration across departments

Embracing creativity will help your company to develop a distinctive brand while improving staff morale.

Don’t Fear Failure

Entrepreneurs must never fear failure, as it is inevitable that one or more unique ideas will not work out when building a forward-thinking business. Fear of failure can cripple innovation and help braver brands to dominate an industry.

Establish yourself as a market leader by daring to be different and embarking on unusual tactics on your website, social media profiles, or commercial marketing campaigns.

Invest in the Right Technologies

Different companies will have different needs. If you are unsure about the best technologies for your brand, invest in IT consulting services from HERO Managed Services LLC. They can provide bespoke tech solutions to match your organization’s exact needs, which can push your business into the future and maximize its ROI. You can also relax in the knowledge that your brand will never fall behind the times and can keep up with its modern rivals.

Identify Risk

Rather than dealing with problems when they arise, take a more proactive approach to business by minimizing its risk. For instance, you could:

  • Analyze the latest cybersecurity threats
  • Create stronger client contracts
  • Understand your clients’ liability points
  • Review likely market and economic risks
  • Plan for worst-case scenarios
  • Hire experienced attorneys to avoid legal issues

By pinpointing potential threats to your organization, you could protect your brand by creating a plan to bounce back from an issue as soon as possible.

Make Plans

To become a forward-thinking organization, you must plan for your business’s success. In addition to preparing the immediate future, your company would be smart to plan for the near- and long-term future.

Identify how you will expand your team, workplace, and products and services throughout the years, which will allow your business to keep up with demand and never miss out on a sale.

For example, if you have limited experience in business, you might not know how to grow an organization. You could, therefore, plan to hire a CEO when you feel you can no longer lead a company to success.

To develop an innovative brand, you must embrace creativity, improve your productivity with the best technologies, plan ahead, and identify various risks to your operations.

Tips for Creating Quality Online Video Marketing Content

Online video marketing content can be a valuable tool for a client looking to boost their business through online marketing. Not only do you have the ability to convey information about a brand in a visually appealing way, but you can also utilize creativity to garner interest for a particular brand. That said, creating that video content can be a tricky task at times.

Your client will very likely have some sort of vision for their video content. You will, of course, be bringing your own creativity to the table, too. Bringing the two visions together in a practical and cost-effective way to produce the ideal video content will take time, collaboration, and compromise.

Here are a few tips to help you when you are trying to create quality online video marketing content for your client’s brand.

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

As the world of online marketing continues to evolve, so, too, do the tools that marketers and content creators have at their disposal. When it comes to collaborative projects like video content, you will need to be equipped with the right tools for the job.

You very likely have your preferences when it comes to the software that you use, but if there is one that you should consider looking into, it is an incredibly useful and user-friendly frame.io alternative. This proofing software gives all parties involved in the project access to the content for reviews and edits without compromising on multimedia functionality. Moreover, this product offers excellent security features so that you don’t have to worry about your project in that regard.

Make it easy for all parties involved, including your clients, to submit feedback and comments in a variety of ways that will prevent things from getting lost in the shuffle or misunderstood entirely. Everyone knows that effective communication on such projects provides the best chances for efficient results. For this reason and so many more, it is definitely worth the investment to equip yourself and your team with the right tools for the job.

Have a Solid Strategy

The main trick to creating optimal online video marketing content is to start the creative process with a solid strategy. By laying out the details of your process and how you are going to go about creating your content, you give yourself and your team a roadmap to follow. Moreover, you give your clients the ability to follow the project effectively so that they know what sort of results and timeline they can expect to follow.

When you are developing your strategy, be sure to include proper SEO practices. A catchy title, effective keywords within the video’s description, and other SEO-related considerations should all be taken into account. An outline for the message that the video will convey is also something that needs to be nailed down right from the start.

Remember that this is a collaborative effort that will take effective communication from all parties involved. With the right tools and planning, your online video marketing project can be incredibly successful.

There you have it: three tips for creating quality online video marketing content. Good luck!

How to Migrate to a New Website

Often people say if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it. You might think your website is working just fine, but if it’s stopping your brand from reaching its full potential, then it is broken. Here’s a simple guide on how to migrate to a new website.

Decide what you want to change

So, you’ve decided you want to change your website. Now you just need to decide why! Make a list of all the things that you don’t like about your website. Whether that’s the appearance, the content, or the user experience, you should imagine your new website like a blank piece of paper. Carefully consider the results of your page analysis tools to find out which elements your visitors aren’t using. Copy over the things that work but leave behind the things that don’t.

Be ruthless. Migrating to a new website is one of those big decisions that a company makes just once every few years. It might also be an excellent time to make other big decisions, such as whether your brand’s logo and colours work for you. You should consider the psychological properties of colours seriously, for example, blue can provoke feelings of intelligence and trust, whereas yellow suggests friendliness and creativity.

Pick the right platform for you

 Now you know what your website needs to do, you’ll need to decide the best way to do it. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is which platform will power your new site. If you’re running online commerce, platforms such as Magento are trusted by big brands across the world. They offer a wide range of ready-made features which are fully customisable, so you can bring your vision to life exactly how you want it.

With so many options, it’s also essential to seek the advice of someone who knows how to use the system. Teams with a lot of experience of the platform, such as Manchester magento developer can help guide you to which features will enhance the functionality of your website. There’s no point using a platform that can do virtually anything if you’re unable to pick out the tools that will help you build the best website. It’d be like buying a Ferrari and never moving out of second gear!

Testing 

Once you’ve decided on how your website should look and how it should function, it’s time to check that it all works in the way you want. Set up a small trial section on your server and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you’re not happy with anything, then your web developers can offer you alternatives.

Curate your content carefully

Once you’re happy with your website, take some time to create all the content you want for your new website. Although there may be a temptation to get your new website up and running as soon as possible, you don’t want to launch a website with very little on it. For example, if your website has a blog consider publishing four or five exciting entries for people to read rather than just the traditional ‘welcome to our new website’ post. Make sure you proofread them carefully, as mistakes can give a wrong first impression of your brand.

Even more testing

Before you complete your website migration, it’s essential to thoroughly check everything. Not only the functionality of your new website but that your old pages redirect to the right content on your new site. Once that step is complete, then it is time to enjoy the benefits of your new website.

Advanced SEO That Will Change Your Rankings in the Long Term

If you have been a webmaster for some time, you’ll know two things about SEO: that it is essential for good search ranking performance and that it is a constantly evolving practice. If you want to keep yourself at the top of the rankings, you need to be on top of your SEO game. That means going beyond the simple tricks that your competitors are probably implementing. If you are looking to apply some advanced SEO techniques to help you get an edge over your competition, you should look into the following:

In-Depth User Analysis 

Google and other search engines will prioritize your site if it clearly brings value to its users, so something you should do that goes beyond the average competitor is in-depth user analysis. You should already be doing A/B testing, but you really need to know your site’s visitors to give them what they really want.

A good idea is to sign up to a platform like Quora and review the questions that people are asking around your niche. If you know the answer to these questions — answer them as a profile from your website to help cement you as an expert, but most importantly, get a good sense of what people feel and want. Once you know the real problems that people are facing, why not give solutions in your site’s blog? This is a great way of providing very real value to visitors.

Fix Your Page Speed 

This is a basic problem, but one that people don’t optimize again and again. Your page should be lightning-fast. If it has lots of different media components, find a way to compress them. Compress all your code.

As ALT Agency outlines in their great PDF guide, page speed can greatly influence your rankings. Visitors will avoid you if you don’t give them the content they want as fast as possible. Page speed is especially important as Google uses it to indicate which sites perform well on mobiles.

It’s no secret that they prioritize sites that work great on mobile devices. Google likely measures the time it takes to load the first byte of information when it crawls through pages, so to make sure that everything is indexed properly, you should make your site as fast as humanly possible.

Utilize a Landing Page 

Landing pages are different to home pages and they serve a great role if you want to improve your SEO as well as your sales. A good landing page should ensure that the user does not need to navigate through the site; it should give them useful content and should finish in a call to action that helps you convert them into paying customers or potential customers, with email addresses or contact information.

Landing pages are great because unlike a homepage, you can create many different landing pages for different situations and each one opens up a gateway for incoming, valuable traffic. Landing pages allow you to initiate a relationship with a visitor, but they also tend to attract inbound links if they portray informative content in an easy-to-digest manner.

Embracing Remote Working: A Guide

Whether you’re a small team with only a handful of employees or a larger organization with several teams to coordinate, you cannot avoid the overwhelming consensus that remote working is here to stay. Somewhat surprisingly, many businesses have proven that their work rate and productivity haven’t been affected by their staff working from home; in fact, there are cases in which staff are working harder from home than in the office. As such, here’s how you, too, can embrace working from home to truly boost your business’ performance in the post-pandemic world.

Training Modules

First up, you need to make sure that your staff are acquainted with all of the software that they’ll be using when they’re working from home. When they’re concerned about how to use the software and getting frustrated because new systems are opaque to them, you’ll find your staff productivity dipping immediately. Motivation is based on capability, and so it’s your responsibility to equip your staff with the skills to succeed when working remotely.

New Software

Married with this first step should be your IT professionals and HR team’s look into the world of remote working software. What is out there that you can use to coordinate work from home? How can you monitor and evaluate your performance in the ‘new normal’ compared to your performance in the latter quarter of 2019? When you onboard new technologies and software solutions, you need your staff to be able to use them instantly – which is where the extra training comes in.

Oversight

While you shouldn’t expect your staff to take working from home as a free ticket to slack off their work, you should be able to monitor their work rate. More importantly, perhaps, you need your staff to know that you’re monitoring their work rate. This will incentivize them to work harder. It’ll also give you a critical window into how you can improve their working habits at home. Microsoft Teams Analytics software is an excellent way for managers and HR professionals to coordinate and monitor workers when they’re accessing your documents and communicating remotely in the future.

Team Meetings

While you should be able to trust your staff to know their duties in the workplace, they must also be able to communicate openly and freely with one another, and with their managers, each week. Most companies are in the habit of starting the day with a team meeting – a conference call during which you can offer feedback and guide your team to better working habits. This is something to bear in mind when setting up for remote working.

Teething Issues

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that your remote working professionals will not take to their duties efficiently straight away. There will always be delays and confusion in the first weeks of setting up a remote working system in your business. But, if you’re able to confer with your team, highlight and deal with problems, and be empathetic to the new challenges of remote working you should be able to overcome these early issues in a matter of weeks.

This guide will help you embrace the benefits of remote working speedily in the ‘new normal’ that COVID-19 has brought about.

4 Ways that You Can Boost Your Site’s Value

Whether you’re a serial flipper or you have a site you’re trying to get rid of for some reason, it’s your job to make sure that you get the best deal possible on it. While in some cases the site may have reached its full potential, in most instances, there are some concrete steps that you can take to significantly improve its value. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time or money either. Sometimes, just making a few changes can be enough to increase your asking price and make your site more desirable to buyers. Here are a few ways that you can get the best offer on your website possible.

1. Go with the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform is the first thing you should do if you want to make sure that you get access to a large pool of buyers. Bigger platforms are also advertised better, which will ultimately mean more attention to your listing.

People will also be more likely to buy from a trusted exchange marketplace. These platforms do everything to make buyers feel at ease and ensure that all transactions are safe for both parties. Going through a platform like this will allow you to get much higher bids than if you went out on your own and will simplify the whole process as well.

2. Get a Premium Domain Name

Did you know that some businesses sell for the perceived value of their domain alone? Getting an easily recognizable name that is closely related to your niche could instantly boost your site’s value. The important thing is making sure that you’ll be able to get a return on your investment and don’t overpay.

3. Add Content

Adding content is one of the simplest things you could do to boost your site’s value. More content usually translates to more traffic, which will be an important selling point. If you don’t have a blog already, build one. Another thing you could do is add a forum section or add new sections to your site.

If you’re doing restaurant reviews, for instance, you could have a section with hotel reviews, car rentals, airfare, or event tickets. Content is an investment in your business, and people will always gravitate towards sites that have a lot of unique content.

4. Increase Your Social Media Presence

You should also consider increasing your social media efforts if you feel like you don’t have much of a presence there. Being able to sell a well-populated social media page with a large following is something a lot of buyers will be interested in. Most people would love to have an established base on social media, but don’t know how to go about it. So, this could eventually be the point that makes the difference between a sale and a pass.

Boosting your site’s value doesn’t have to be difficult, but it requires some work. Make sure that you follow these few tips and focus on providing more value if you want to get more value back.

What Do Customers Expect From the Online Checkout Process?

Online shopping is the norm these days; most people don’t think twice about purchasing household essentials from Amazon, getting new outfits from clothing stores, or bidding on second-hand deals on eBay. But, while online shopping is taking over high street stores at a rapid rate thanks to its convenience and ease, customers expect a certain level of service when shopping online, particularly during the checkout process.

A checkout that is hard to navigate isn’t transparent about extra costs like delivery fees or isn’t secure is not going to make customers feel safe when entering their sensitive financial details and making a purchase. And in the highly competitive eCommerce environment, encouraging customers to complete their purchases is essential for success. So, what do your customers expect when checking out?

A High Level of Security:

First and foremost, nobody wants to enter their credit or debit card details into an unsecured website. It’s highly dangerous because it leaves this sensitive information wide open to hackers and scammers who could end up gaining access and using a customer’s money to purchase things or hack into their accounts. Make sure that your site is protected with an SSL certificate.

Guest Checkout:

Some customers don’t want the hassle of signing up for an account before they can make a purchase; in fact, this is one of the top reasons why carts are abandoned. If you’re making your customers fill out lengthy forms with all their information before they can buy a product from you, chances are you are missing out. Instead, allow a speedy guest checkout that only requires customers to enter the basic information that you need to send the product to them, and give them the option to create an account once they have paid if they wish.

Transparency:

Unexpected extra charges and fees are another huge reason for abandoned carts. Most consumers aren’t a huge fan of paying for delivery when shopping online, but if you can’t offer free delivery for any reason, this can be forgiven by making sure that they are aware of how much their total will be including delivery all the way through the delivery process. If you can offer a variety of delivery options with clear price ranges, do so. Nobody wants to get all the way to entering their payment details only to find that their total is going to be $10 extra because of a delivery fee they weren’t made aware of beforehand.

Different Payment Options:

Finally, the more options you can give your customers when it comes to how they pay for their goods, the better. Debit and credit cards are standard when shopping online but there are more ways to pay that customers expect to be able to use. Choose a reputable checkout option that allows customers to pay with a variety of debit and credit card types, along with PayPal or Apple Pay so that your customers can pick whichever option they prefer.

Transparency, security, speed, and options are the minimum of what customers expect when checking out their online shopping. The key to success lies in making the experience as convenient and as smooth as possible for your customer.