Twenty-Seven Reasons to Never Hire a Website Designer

Twenty-Seven Reasons to Never Hire a Website Designer

Never hire a website designer?  What kind of idiot would actually say that out loud?  Before you start throwing rotten tomatoes at your screen, just hear me out…

After all, if you want a great cup of coffee, then you would visit the best coffee shop in your town.  If you need a new suit, then you go to the premiere tailor around.  So why wouldn’t you hire a website designer to help you build a great website?

To put it simply, a freelance website designer is good for only one thing- coding HTML into websites.  And for the sake of argument, let’s say that you do need a website built.  Should you hire one then?

No.  Heck no.  Don’t even think about it.  That’s a big mistake Mister.  Do not hire a website designer and expect random miracles.

Why?  The initial coding elements of your website are a minor part of the overall picture compared to things like design, branding, marketing, search optimization and customer engagement.  The vast majority of web designers don’t know about any of those things, so they’re definitely not the one you want leading your online face lift for the masses to see.  Choose a creative design firm instead.

If that’s not enough to sway you to never hire a website designer, then here are 27 more things to consider-

Do You Know Content Marketing?

1) Can you speak in HTML, PHP or Klingon?

Let’s start with what websites designers are actually good at; programming in languages like PHP and HTML, plus brushing up on their Star Trek lingo for this summer’s Comic-Con.  Since you don’t speak these languages though, then you’re going to have no idea how to make any adjustments.

2) Do you care about customer service at all?

Besides, have you ever asked a website developer for help understanding something?  That’s like asking Gollum from Lord of the Rings for fashion advice…there’s simply no answer to the equation.

3) Are you a genuine WordPress expert?

Let’s say that you do hire a website designer and they deliver you a site as promised.  Now what?  Do you know your way around WordPress enough to actually turn an empty domain into a place that potential customers would want to visit?

A website designer is a person who takes instructions and works with code to make your idea come to life.  But well over 90% of them now very little about how to attract customers or make a website become popular.

4) Do you enjoy overpaying for imaginary services?!?

Besides, most of today’s web developers still work on an old-school monthly-rate plan, which means that you pay for your website up front and then shell out a large chunk of change each month for site maintenance and other imaginary services.

Well, guess what?  You don’t need to pay someone to sit idle and collect monthly fees for absolutely nothing.  Don’t EVER hire a website designer under these conditions without spelling out exactly what they’ll be doing for you each month

5) Do you enjoy being frequently lied to?

Now, we’re not saying that website designers are liars, because most of them have the best intentions in the world when they say that they can design your new website from top to bottom in a few weeks.  But again, they’re thinking about code and the bare minimum of back-end stuff to make something qualify as an actual website.  All of your content marketing, lead banners and images in place are a completely different story.

If you hire a website designer with the sole intention of driving sales or attracting new customers, then that’s the very first question you should ask- can you prove that you can do that kind of stuff?

6) Do you follow the latest SEO algorithm trends?

If you do then that’s great, because your web designer almost certainly doesn’t.  He has to keep up with new programming languages and the latest apps/tools instead.  That means you’ll have to do a lot of reading on Moz and HubSpot for hiring a website designer.

There’s another inherent problem here though- and that’s Google’s inherent love towards innovative online businesses that strive to make customers happy.  If you hire a website designer that’s not studying these trends and continually expanding their strategies, then you’ve already lost before your website is even built. 

And don’t even get me started on those “specialty website design firms” that essentially sell everyone the exact same website over and over again- the automotive world wastes billions of dollars every year on websites that will never, ever draw customers because of poor design and horrible SEO.

7) Do words really matter at all?

Most website developers will quickly volunteer to write your website’s content for a nominal fee, and then turn around to do one of two things-

·         Hire a writer from India for $2.36/hr., who sub-contracts it to a gal in Pakistan for 1/4th that amount

·         Write the content themselves…which makes the Pakistani look like a true poet in comparison

Either way, none of these people are brand experts that can help you drive in conversions.  And if pleasing customers and making sales isn’t a priority, then there’s no sense in having a website to begin with.

8) Can you create an effective banner ad?

Since sites like Canva and BeFunky make it easy for almost anyone to get their art on, then maybe you can crank out a decent looking banner all by yourself.  But do you know how to upload it and link it to your squeeze page?  Can you configure it with your lead generation software?

Probably not…and neither can your web designer.  That’s why you never hire a website designer to handle creative aspects of your domain (HINT- which should be the ENTIRE FREAKING WEBSITE!)

Do You Know Web Design?

9) Do you like people who overstate their credentials?

Unfortunately, most website developers earn a bad rap because people have no idea what they’re looking for when hiring a professional.  So here’s a little cheat sheet-

  • Web developers install themes and write code
  • Programmers create apps, often from scratch
  • Designers make pretty page layouts & graphics
  • Copywriters and bloggers handle your site’s content
  • Marketers focus on traffic and generating leads
  • Analysts dig deep into the data to find insights

Very rarely will one person have some serious skills in all of these areas since each can take decades to master.  That’s why you hire a digital marketing team instead of a web developer.

10) Do you prefer face to face business meetings? 

If so, then your boss will either laugh or cry when the “website guru” you hired shows up in the board room wearing cutoff jeans, a tie-died tee shirt, and flip flops.  Either way; you’re probably in for an ear-full from the VP of Common Sense after the meeting adjourns.

Not that web designers can get dressed up for a meeting, mind you…that’s not really the point here.  You need a firm representing your brand online that understands business, marketing, sales projections, customer loyalty and all that good stuff that really matters.

11) Does your company work late-night?

If so, then hiring a website developer may not be such a bad idea after all.  That’s because a large portion of the top web geeks tend to work well into the night and sleep until noon…just because they can.

Between that and Halo tournaments, that’s essentially why it takes three weeks for you to get a simple answer.

On the bright side though, if you hire a foreign web designer then his nights are your days so everything works out perfectly!  That is, as long as you have enough time to overcome the language barriers.

12) “It puts the lotion on its skin, or it gets the hose again!”

What, you don’t like random pop culture quotes forwarded to your inbox sixteen times a day?  Then let’s hope that you didn’t accept your web developer’s Facebook request…that’s where the real magic happens!

Seriously though, coders are a special breed that don’t always march to the same drum cadence as the rest of society.  That doesn’t make them any less dependable, mind you, but most are simply not made for the board room.

13) How important are overall results anyway?

Let’s say your boss is a big AC/DC fan and he wants the song “Highway to Hell” to auto-play on your homepage as soon as new visitors arrive.  Sounds like a pretty terrible idea, right?

Well, too bad for you that the web developer you just hired could care less about what may seem like a good or bad idea.  Their only job is to build a site and get paid…they could care less about results.  And once your boss realizes that heavy metal misses the demographic , guess who gets paid all over again?  Cha-ching!  Time to hire a web designer all over again.

Go ahead and click play though- you know you want to.  Better to get it out of your system now.

14) Hey look, the homepage is giving some random 500 error…

Oh, you actually believed that random web developer when he said that you can call him day or night?  Sorry friend, but it’s a Buffy the Vampire marathon weekend and definitely not a good time.  Maybe try back next Tuesday when his mom will be there to pick up the phone…

Seriously though, you want to hire a website designer that has a long history of great customer service.  At times it will fell like you’re married to your design firm since they play a vital role in practically everything your company does.  So focus on your relationship early and makes sure all lines of communication are wide open.

15) Are you looking for results-based quality?

Surely by now you’ve seen a little bit of a pattern forming here…it’s not just in your head.  The average web developer knows absolutely zero about actual design, marketing, search optimization or your customers, so they can only deliver a mere fraction of what you’re looking for.

That’s what I’ve been saying all along here; do not hire a website designer if you’re looking for the total package.  Such a person doesn’t exist in the modern world unless you’re looking to spend $150/hr for the next 18 months.

Can You Afford a Rockstar Designer?

16) What if I want to work directly with a top-level programmer?

Here’s a little secret for you- the rock star programmers in today’s world are earning comfortably in the six-figure range creating apps and future technologies.  The few that do develop websites are often either-

·         Making their own custom themes and affiliate sites, or

·         Earning a huge paycheck with a top-tier agency/corporation

Either way, there are only a small handful of top-tier website developers out there that still build websites from scratch.  The rest use platforms like WordPress or Joomla.

17) Okay, but what if I want a website built from scratch anyway?

Well, that is the way to go if you are a large company with 6+ figure online sales and millions of web views per month.  Clean code from a professional will easily pay for itself in no time, plus save you countless headaches.  So in this one very specific case, you need to hire a website designer…through a design firm.

Why? Remember how arrogant Tom Cruise and his fellow fighter pilots were in the movie Top Gun?  In real life, a superstar coder is likely going to be five times as self-righteous and twice as quick to defend their excellence.  

These types of work relationships almost always end badly without that designer being on premesis and working as a part of a team.  Think epic proporations bad.

18) Do you take deadlines even halfway seriously?

Was Picasso given timelines when creating a masterpiece?  Heck no…and he didn’t even know C+ Basic.  So when you’re braving the world of programmers and building something from scratch, there’s no such thing as a timeline for actual launch.  You can be given estimates, but definitely not any sort of deadline.

To be fair, you can experience this type of setback with any reputable design firm if communication breaks down or you simply like watching underlings dance in terror.  That’s why you never want to hire a website designer without properly vetting them first- grab the phone and call a few of their previous clients directly.  Just because their site is pretty doesn’t mean it didn’t finish six months late and $15k over budget.

19) What if I just skipped using a web designer completely?

Oh, you mean like one of those free website builders that allows you to launch a complete website in 15 minutes?  That’s a great idea…except that they absolutely, positively suck.  Not only do they vastly overcharge you on a monthly plan to move forward, but the “plug and play” coding is also a jumbled mess that the search engines hate.

So if you’re going to be a do-it-yourself type, then buy a premium WordPress theme and find a highly rated foreign WordPress expert on Upwork to install it.  This will save you a small fortune if you can serve as your own tech support and figure out the content/marketing elements on your own. 

20) Wait- there are cheap AND talented foreign website developers?

Definitely, and you can find some world-class developers from Pakistan, India and similar regions for less than $200 a week for full time work.  But be warned; there are many language and cultural barriers that will drive you absolutely nuts if you don’t know what you actually need completed.

These are super-friendly, hardworking people that really aim to please…just be prepared for quite a long trial and error period.  If you do hire a website designer from overseas, then it would be a great idea to start with a consultation from a reputable digital marketing firm here in the USA (hint, hint- that’s us!) and have them manage the project with your cheap labor.

21) Are you a true patriot?

Of course you are…so why are we talking about hiring foreign web developers and putting some hard working American college graduate out on the streets?  You should be ashamed of yourself for even entertaining the notion!

Then again, what’s more American than saving money on business expenses?  There are certainly pros and cons to hiring individuals overseas so I’ll let you decide how to proceed there.

What About Other Online Factors?

22) How versed are you on finding and optimizing keywords?

These days, it is almost impossible to appear on the first page of the search engines for your major keywords by accident.  Ranking a website is a process that’s both time consuming and highly technical; plus it takes a creative flair and a solid understand of consumers to execute correctly.  So this person with a multitude of talents either needs to be on your staff (likely for six figures), or it can be part of a creative team working on your behalf.

For you to hire a website designer that has all of these skills though, it will be like finding a needle in a haystack.  Unfortunately, the only way a designer becomes the total package is by sheer experience working with a number of leading companies and start-ups while wearing a number of different hats.  And quite honestly, these types of folks usually get hired by major corporations before you’ll ever find them.

23) What is your actual end goal with web design?

Most people would answer this question by saying, “I want to make more sales or gather more leads.”  That’s what we all want from our websites.  But the only way to achieve that is by having a fully optimized website that engages your customers and answers their most pressing questions.

Remember that getting the customers to your domain is only half the battle…the rest is convincing them to stick around and actually experience your brand.

24) Who’s going to hold your web developer accountable?

Hopefully you’re not the type that listens to some fast talking salesman and then says, “Sure, let’s run with it!”  Since you don’t personally know website design or the many other skills it requires to make a website rank favorably, it will be impossible for you to hold a web developer accountable or even guide them in the right direction.

That means you either need someone on your staff that understands tech or you need to partner with a firm that has earned your trust through delivering actual results.  If you just hire a website designer off the streets though because you saw their spammy ad on Facebook, there’s very little chance that they’ll have your best interests at heart.  After all, they’ve already proven that they have a quantity over quality mentality.

25) Who’s keeping an eye on your competitors?

Large corporations spend millions of dollars per year analyzing their competitors and creating campaigns to counter their rival’s latest moves.  And on a smaller scale, you should be doing the exact same thing with your website and everywhere you keep an online presence.

Is the guy who writes website code the best person for this job though?  Not by a longshot…you’d be better off hiring the average 7th  grader to take on the job.  At least you can keep them focused with a juice box.

26) How do you measure success and failure online?

When a website visitor stumbles on your website, how do you know whether they had a great customer experience?  Where’d they even come from?  What do they want?  Is anyone actually paying attention to this sort of stuff?  You need answers to these difficult questions and very few website developers are qualified to be the one interpreting it.

If this is starting to sound like a broken record, that’s because you should never hire a website designer that doesn’t talk about conversion rates, click-through rates, time on site and all the other metrics that mean your customers are actually being engaged.

27) Why are you so negative about website developers anyway?

Like I’ve mentioned several times already, I have nothing against web developers since they are essential for both my business and yours.  I just want for it to be crystal clear in your mind that website development is a very small (although important) aspect of your complete online presence.  Web developers are generally weak at copywriting, photography, graphic design, search optimization, lead generation and marketing…which are all vital to your success.

So you absolutely, positively need to hire a website designer…but you don’t want that person in charge of your overall campaign.  Would you recommend an awesome mechanic to be the next VP of Marketing at Ford or Chrysler?  Of course not- the same principle applies to hiring web developers.

Have any good horror stories from hiring a website developer?  Did I miss something in my list?  Feel free to share away in the comment section below.

Web Synergy’s “Lunch with Friends” Campaign

Web Synergy’s “Lunch with Friends” Campaign

Lunch with Friends CampaignDo you ever get the feeling that if you could only talk to some of your ideal customers and show them that you’re the real deal; that it could really change things in a dramatic way?

I was thinking about that today when I realized that I have more clients in Los Angeles, Detroit, or Chicago lately than I do in Spartanburg County.  Sadly, my local networking has really been lacking in recent years because I stay so busy with larger national clients.  At the same time though, I started Web Synergy years ago because I wanted to impact local businesses right here in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Asheville…so it’s time for some serious changes.

I decided to start a new “Lunch with Friends” campaign for Spartanburg County and the surrounding cities, and it basically works like this-

  • Visit my online calendar and choose a date to sit down for lunch together
  • When we meet I’ll answer each and every one of your online marketing questions
  • I’ll help you create an action plan to optimize your website and fix any issues
  • We will also look at the fastest way for you to start gaining new customers online
  • I’ll waive 100% of my consulting fees as well…just pick up the check

What am I looking to gain from this?

As I said, I would prefer to have all of my clients locally within the next few years.  I would rather help you out today for free and make a new local contact to network with, or possibly even gain your business.  But either way, you’ll receive my expertise and we both walk away big winners.

So if you’ve been wondering how to significantly boost your online presence, this is the perfect time to learn about search optimization and online marketing from the top authority in the southeast.  I’m looking forward to meeting you soon!

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Twenty-Seven Reasons to Never Hire a Website Designer

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The Death of Keywords in 2018

I need to ask you an important question here- and be honest.  How much do you really focus on keywords these days? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, and you have to promise not to tell anyone about this.  Not even those self-proclaimed SEO gurus that...

The Death of Keywords in 2018

The Death of Keywords in 2018

I need to ask you an important question here- and be honest.  How much do you really focus on keywords these days?

Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, and you have to promise not to tell anyone about this.  Not even those self-proclaimed SEO gurus that fill our LinkedIn feeds with daily content…especially not them.  Because I’m about to ruin the scam of the century for an entire industry that’s filled with snake-oil salesmen, con artists and self-promoting idiots.

Are you ready for it?  Keywords are officially dead in 2017.

And just so we’re clear here, I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as keywords anymore.  Keywords are just some words placed together with other words…so obviously they still exist.  But they’re just not important.

Take this website, for example…and this very blog.  We all know that to properly optimize a page under SEO standards, we have to get the keyword in the title, in the very first sentence and again in the first subtitle.  Yet I haven’t used any of my site’s primary keywords.  And look down the page- there are no subtitles either.

But guess what?  You’re still reading this…and visitor engagement has surpassed silly things like meta-descriptions and keywords a long time ago.  Google has said so like a billion times.

Heck, “engagement” is probably Matt Cutt’s middle name by now…and he doesn’t even work for the search engine giant anymore.

Now, you may be pondering, “But what does it all mean?  How can the Earth survive without things like keyword density and anchor text?”  Before we get to that, I think it’s important for all of us to remain calm.  Go pop a Valium if necessary, because this feeling of utter hopelessness will pass by the end of this article.  I promise.

And just ask my kids- I may exaggerate all the time, but I never lie.  A promise is something worth keeping.

The truth is that keywords have actually been dead for quite some time now and in most cases, they’re completely unnecessary.    After all, the search engines have a very clear picture of what your website is actually about and one more blog post won’t tip the scales in your favor.

Now, you may come from the school of thought where you’d say something like, “Well, keywords definitely aren’t hurting my website, so why should I stop focusing on them?”

That’s a great question.

But unfortunately, you’ve been so obsessed with keyword stuffing for so darn long that you’ve completely forgotten what a keyword or a key-phrase is in the first place.  It’s just a series of words people- every single word on this page is a keyword.

Well, okay…maybe not all the “the, and, our, but, it” and words like that…but the rest are certainly keywords.  And if they are located next to other words on the page, then you have a bunch of key-phrases forming as well.

Before I make this too confusing, maybe I better give a practical example.  I’ll use my website once again.

For those of you that follow me, you know that I’m a copywriter that knows a thing or two about online marketing and search optimization.  And I live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, so naturally by most important key-phrase would be something like, “Spartanburg Copywriter” or “Copy writer in Spartanburg,” right?

Wrong.  Those are horrible keywords.  And I can prove it.

When I tell people around town what I do for a living, about 1/3rd of them assume a “copywriter” is a person who issues patents.  Or someone who creates laws.  They have absolutely no idea what I do for a living unless they actually have ties to the marketing field.  And that means when they look for someone like me, they almost never type those phrases, even though Google AdWords says that they’re my best bet.

So let me ask you a question- what would my main keyword be then if it’s not “copywriter”?

Well, it could be anything that people type into the search engines these days to find someone like me…and that’s a pretty darn long list.  I see everything from content creator to digital analyst to brand manager on job boards, while your average Joe searches for a blog writer or social media professional.  Some even use “wordsmith”, even though that’s technically not a word.

Do you see the problem here?  I can’t just pluck a few nifty keywords out of thin air and properly reach all of my potential clients.  In fact, I probably couldn’t reach all of them with a thousand targeted key phrases.

That’s why keywords are officially dead in 2017… they died long before you ever took your first lesson in SEO.

Besides, what good does it really do anyway to target the same keywords over and over again?  Google is dead-set on normalizing the search results so you can’t appear in multiple spots for the same phrase.  Either your website doesn’t have quality content and it will never rank for your terms, or it is already ranking well and you’re being repetitive anyway.

Either way, it’s wasted money if you follow conventional SEO logic.

Again, that brings us right back to finding a true definition of a keyword.  But the dictionary won’t help, because the only opinions that truly matter here are your actual customers.  After all, they control everything when it comes to the success of your brand.

Are you with me so far on this?  I promise- a big revelation is just seconds away.

If your main goal is to connect with more customers (and let’s face it; that’s the only reason you do any of this crap), then your main focus is not going to be on a single key-phrase.  Or even your top fifty.  Instead, you’re going to throw the SEO book straight out the window and casually use every possible combination of industry-related jargon you can think of.

And that, my friends, means that there are no such things as keywords anymore.  It’s almost like the Matrix- everything is a keyword, and you don’t even have to take the blue pill.

The morale to this lesson here is to completely forget about keywords except when it comes to your back-end meta stuff, because that’s the only place where it still slightly matters.  But to connect to actual people and to convince them to trust your brand, you’d better be talking in their language…and normal humans don’t say the same phrase six times in a two minute period.

That’s just weird.

So your content marketing goal in 2017 is to simply focus on what matters to your potential customers and to deliver your messaging in plain-Jane English that they can relate with…and then do the exact opposite of keyword targeting.  Instead, try to use every possible variation of what your customers might type across your next 10-20 blog posts.

Guess what?  There’s a term for that as well- it’s called great writing.  And that’s been the #1 ranking factor of the search engines since the early 1990’s.  The best overall content always wins.

So moving forward, forget about those silly keywords and just focus on putting a smile on a potential customer’s face.  As long as you’re doing that, Google will see your value.  That’s all that really matters anyway.

Creating a Powerful Content Marketing Plan in 2017

Creating a Powerful Content Marketing Plan in 2017

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to search optimization is that it takes mass amounts of content in order for a website to rank favorably.  To this very day, I still see businesses taking the quantity over quality approach…even though they’re getting poor results and very little customer engagement.  So maybe your content marketing plan for 2017 should be a little bit different.

As I’ve said at least a hundred times a month to my clients, “Content is King.”  It always was and it always will be…it is the #1 ranking factor on any website for a reason.  Because when people perform a Google search, they’re looking for very specific answers; either your content answers their questions or it doesn’t.

And when your content fails, then the user is off to find a different website that can help them.  You’d better believe that the search engines notice as well, and that’s why customer engagement is the #2 ranking factor.  Google ultimately doesn’t decide which website’s content is the best- you and I do through our actions when searching.

Why Does Quality Content Always Win?

Perfect ApplesLet’s say you go to a farmer’s market and one particular stand is selling apples for three dollars each.  These aren’t just any apples, mind you; they are beautiful, flawless pieces of fruit that are fit to be served at a royal engagement.  Their sweet nectar and crispness are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and they’re easily the best apples you’ve ever eaten in your life.

Naturally, there are dozens of people crowded around that vendor’s fruit stand because he has the best fruit at the whole market.

As you approach to make your purchase though, you notice a young boy standing in an alleyway with a huge basket.  He’s holding a sign that says, “Special! 25 Apples for a Dollar!” and you have to admit, they look pretty darn tasty from afar.  But once you approach the boy, you see that many of the apples are rotten and darkened with age, plus there are several worms and other insects crawling through the mass of apples.

Focusing on Content that Really Matters

what really mattersSo as a website owner, would you rather have one piece of golden fruit that everyone seems to want?  Or do you want a large variety of unappealing fruits that can be found almost anywhere?

Well, let me let you in on a little secret…Google wants those perfect apples.

Each time you post new content to your website, the search engines study it for hundreds of specific metrics.  Everything from word complexity to formatting to customer engagement is studied under a microscope to find the perfect blend, and there is absolutely no way to “cheat the process” in 2017.  Either your blog posts are interesting to people or they’re not…there’s really not a middle ground.

The Basis of a Winning Content Marketing Plan

writing a content planSo when we start to create a content plan for your website in 2017, the LAST THING that I want you to focus on is the number of articles you’re going to post.  Instead, you need to focus your energy on finding out what your website’s visitors really want to learn about when they search for a brand like you.  Those are the things you should be writing about…both in your blogs and on your core website pages…because that’s what will ultimately turn visitors into customers.

Take this website for example- look at the main navigation up top.  If you click on any of my main links, I give you a quick snapshot of the services I offer and how they can help you.  But you’ll also notice that every single page has a link to “learn more” or “find additional information”, because I never want someone to not be able to find a specific answer.

Most of my blog posts are further extensions of the services that I offer to my clients, but I’m not posting this to try to sell you anything.  Instead, I’m showing you that I really do know what I’m talking about and that I don’t mind helping you out some, for free.  And in a nutshell, that’s how you build trust on the internet.  You show that you’re an expert and a helpful person, and then your phone starts ringing from new clients.

Cleaning Up Core Content

cleaning up contentWhat does that mean for your website?

For starters, your homepage needs to touch on every product/service your company offers…or at least mention the broad category.  Because if folks can’t figure out whether or not you’re qualified to handle something for them within their first few seconds of visiting, then it’s already game over.  So nail down that homepage with great quality content…even if it’s just a few sentences per section.

Next, I want you to have your webmaster take a look at your website and see where the vast majority of your visitors leave.  Try to identify the worst performing 5-10 pages in Google Analytics, and make these a top priority for revamping in 2017.  But before you can do that, you need to figure out what was wrong with those pages to begin with…why did the customers leave?

Here are a few things to look at-

  • No direct answers to the customer’s most common questions
  • Vague product and/or service descriptions
  • Poor formatting on the page…it’s all one big mess
  • Too much content…it just seems to go on forever
  • Too many ads on the page (huge turnoff)
  • Far too many hyperlinks and other distractions
  • A lack of relevant photographs and video

If you can’t identify the problems of your worst pages by using the list above, then here’s a very easy test to figure out the issue.  You know that jerk friend that you hang out with sometimes that you don’t really like but associate with anyway?  Call up him/her and ask them why people don’t like that page.  They’ll be happy to tell you all the problems they see.

Or you can call me, I’ll be happy to tell you as well.  In fact, that may be easier and a lot less embarrassing.

Anyway, you want to proceed through your entire website and beef up the content where you’re currently doing poorly…that’s priority #1.  Don’t even think about a paid ad campaign or more blogs until your core site is set up to convert.

When to Start Blogging

blog writingBlogs are a great tool because they allow you to rank for your site’s relevant keywords, plus they allow readers to see a little more about what your company stands for.  So when you make a content plan for blog posts, you want the focus to be solely on your customers…what will they actually want to read?

And before we go any further, let me give you some ideas-

  • How-to tips, guides, and walkthroughs
  • RELEVANT company news and events
  • A deeper analysis of what you do for clients
  • Case studies showing your successes
  • Local charities, community events, etc.
  • OCCASIONAL information on sales and promotions

Notice that I went all caps with two words there- relevant and occasional.  It’s nice to post a blog about winning an award, opening a new store or doing something nice for the community, but people will be quick to stop listening if all you do is brag about yourself.  The same goes for sales promotions- they only belong on your blog when it’s truly newsworthy.

After all, if you’re spamming some type of sale every single day…then there’s no reason to pay attention.  That means everything always on sale and the urgency to buy is 100% gone.

Learn to Write Authority Articles

writing authority articlesAs I’m typing this sentence, I’m quickly approaching the 1,300 word mark.  And so far, everything here has been actionable information that applies directly to your website, which is exactly how a great blog is supposed to be written.  It’s what you’d call an authority article, and it will likely rank on the first page of search for various terms.

Why?

If you perform a Google search for “creating a content plan”, most of the examples out there are things like, “Five Tips for Creating a Great Content Plan” or “Write Better Content in 2017.”  But the problem is, they all give the exact same generic advice-

  • Deliver great content
  • Post consistently
  • Use images and video
  • Share on social media
  • Create email alerts

And once you get into the “meat” of the content on those sites, there’s really nothing of value that the bullet points didn’t summarize.  That’s a common article that anyone could write whether they have knowledge on the subject or not…and stuff like that rarely ranks well for long.  Because as soon as someone posts an updated version and gets a few hundred page views, their article becomes more popular than yours and Google promotes it.

So if you’re going to talk about something on your blog, then you need to go all-in and give your readers in-depth advice that applies directly to their specific situation.  A good example would be a blog I posted in November about online marketing for restaurants.  It’s about 1,000 words total and it’s the only time I ever mention the word “restaurant” on my entire site, yet it ranks #1 for every variation of the key-phrase “Restaurant Marketing Spartanburg.”

So just off an hour of writing, I gained awesome visibility for a complete industry within my market…and I’ve done the same thing for dentists, car dealers and many other segments.  There’s no reason why you can’t do the exact same thing with the right strategy.

Drafting your Actual Content Marketing Plan for 2017

content marketing checklistLet’s recap real fast.

Your first goal in 2017 is to update all of your website’s main content on any pages that aren’t converting well.  Your new layout will give brief answers on the main pages and in-depth analysis on each sub-page.

Next, you’re going to start writing blogs that address specific things that your ideal customers are wondering about.  These posts should be industry specific whenever possible and laser-focused on who you’re trying to target.  And figuring out the number of articles you need for each topic is easy- you keep writing super-high quality content until you take the #1 slot for your area.

Also, your most important key-phrases should have much longer articles that go really in-depth about the subject matter.  Just Google these phrases before starting to see what’s already ranking well on Google- your article has to be better than those already out there.  If you’re not willing to put in that level of effort, then don’t write it in the first place…focus on something else that’s easier to rank for instead.

Finally, you are going to mix in a few blog articles that show your company culture.  For example, I occasionally write about NFL football, family vacations and/or community events, because these are the things that matter to me.  And by opening up and showing who I am as a professional, my clients get a much better sense of who I am as a person.

Parting Words of Wisdom

One Perfect AppleThe only other piece of advice I can give at this point is exactly what I started with- always focus on superior quality writing that actually helps your customers.  You’d be far better off writing one awesome blog post per week over writing 10 so-so pieces, so try to remember the analogy I gave about the apple vendor.  You only want to serve content that’s fit for a king, yet written well enough for the masses to easily digest.

If you need any additional help drafting a content plan for 2017 or you need the services of a nifty creative writer, please do not hesitate to reach out to me through the contact form or by giving me a call.  I’m always happy to give free consultations and help you find the best path forward BEFORE you’re actually on my client list.

 

 

Making a New Year Resolution That Lasts

Making a New Year Resolution That Lasts

Now that we’re officially into the New Year and the celebrating has died down, I thought that it would be a great time to share a few words about New Year’s resolutions- that silly little thing we do each year when we promise ourselves awesome change and then forget about it a few weeks later.

For example, I’ve committed to losing weight for a solid 4-5 years straight now, plus I keep meaning to write a book on copywriting, hire additional employees, and seriously ramp up my marketing efforts locally.  And while all of that sounds awesome, I never do any of those things.  There’s just not enough time left in a day to make them all feasible.

However, last year I made just one resolution- to spend more quality time with my kids and to learn to forgive them for being true terrors.

Because let’s face it, running a boutique marketing firm out of my home is tough enough…doing it with teenage girls in the house is pure madness.  And I’d find myself yelling at them constantly- turn down the music.  Stop kicking that.  Don’t hit your sister.  Leave the dog alone.  They were like professional noise-makers.

And you know what?  I did pretty darn well with that one resolution.  It took an enormous effort at times; especially when Alyssa wrecked two cars within the first few months of having a driver’s license.  But I somehow prevailed, and I’ve yet to completely lose my cool for a good number of months now.

This year, I’m making almost the exact opposite resolution though- I’m going to focus more on me.  That means more time in the gym losing pounds and getting healthy.  That means eating better and taking a little bit of time off every now and then.  And it also means to focus on the stuff I’ve been meaning to get to for quite a long time now.

The social media site, for example, has been on hold for several months now.  I don’t have the money to finish it myself and I don’t have enough time to raise the money.  That’s a fact, a constant that can’t be avoided, and the only way to change that is to start bringing in some passive income.  So every chance I get will be devoted to finishing out the writing book and just generally working smarter, not harder.

That takes setting goals and really sticking to them…which is exactly what a New Year’s resolution is supposed to be in the first place.

So for my first post of the New Year, I’m going to offer you a great piece of advice- really focus on yourself.  What matters to you long term?  What will make you truly happy?  Use this holiday weekend to figure out those answers and then go all-in on your own success.  Because at the end of the day, there’s only one New Year’s resolution that really matters at all- your health and happiness.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Building the Ultimate Dealer Website for Selling Cars

Building the Ultimate Dealer Website for Selling Cars

Although it’s been on my to-do list for quite some time now to reach out to a few of the local Spartanburg car dealerships with horrible online presences, I simply haven’t had the time lately to try and add additional clients.  But since I’ve been writing sales copy for automobiles for practically 1/3rd of my life, I decided to take a look today just to see how my competition has been treating our local auto lots.

I can summarize what I saw in one word- ouch!

The best way to measure the area car websites is to do a basic Google search for “buy used car Spartanburg”.  Not surprisingly, GoUpstate had the #1 ranking since many of you are still paying for advertising, which you need since your sites are not properly optimized for consumers.  The number two dealership in the results was Family Auto of Spartanburg– which seems downright shocking.

Now, I don’t know the good folks that run this business, but the website loaded extremely slow, the text formatting was horrible, and the individual cars listings didn’t even load properly.  When you click on a particular vehicle, it pops up a single photo with the car’s information lower on the page…but when you try to scroll, the website in the background scrolls instead.  This means that their customers can’t even get basic details about the vehicles they’re looking at or see the price.

To make matters even worse, it was designed by a Greenville company that claims to only build automotive fleet websites; and yet they’re killing this poor business by not giving potential customers any reason to ever call the dealership!

Now remember, this is the highest ranked used car dealer in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  What does that say about the rest of the Spartanburg automotive websites out there that rank below this one?

I’ll tell you what it says- double ouch, especially since almost 90% of all car buyers do preliminary research online before ever buying a vehicle.

That means by being poorly optimized for online sales, you’re likely selling to less than 10% of your ideal market each and every month.  The vast majority are driving to Greenville, Asheville and Charlotte simply because that’s where they are finding great vehicles on the net.  These consumers don’t even know you exist…even though they likely drive right past you every single day!

So if you’re the owner or general manager of an automotive dealership here in the Upstate, let me tell you real quick how to properly sell vehicles online-

1) Start with a gorgeous homepage. Grab some stock art of the top 3-5 nicest vehicles that could possibly be sold on your lot and place them on a slider at the top of the page.  Then on each photograph, give bullet points about your sales process, your simple financing options and how hard you work to serve the Upstate.

2) Nail down your navigation. Customers should be able to easily find vehicles by class, price range, mileage, fuel economy and even color…and these search elements should be visible below your homepage slider as well.  You should also have a financing page, a company history, current specials/promotions and a map of where your dealership is located.

3) Make Listings Pop. When it comes to actually listing vehicles on your site (and promoting it out to other sites like Auto Trader and Cars.com), more is always better. Consumers want to see the mileage, the options, recent service inspections and a thorough description…plus at least 25 photos taken from every possible angle inside and out.  A short video is also a massive plus since it lets them hear the vehicle and it gives you a new way to rank.

4) Write Awesome Descriptions.  That thorough description I mentioned- this is what actually sells cars online these days. Talk about the highlights (low mileage, one owner, maintenance receipts, great paint, etc.) while minimizing the negatives (rust, worn interior, etc.).  Here’s a quick bonus tip as well- NEVER use the stock description of a vehicle.  Google sees it as duplicate content and naturally penalizes it in the search rankings, so you’re better off having no information than something copied from the manufacturer!  This is true for every industry.

5) Drive in Leads.  You want to catch customer information as early in the viewing process as possible, so every description page should have a button that says “Schedule a Test Drive for this Vehicle!” Then they can submit their name, email address, phone number and preferred appointment time without ever speaking to a sales rep.

6) Encourage Connections.  Likewise, every page on your website should have the following elements- (a) your phone number and address in bold, (b) an clever opt-in form to generate leads and (c) something that creates urgency.

7) Learn to Convert.  Every online lead should go straight to a sales rep in real time so a personalized email can be sent. For example, it could read, “Hi.  This is Scott with ABC Autos.  I saw that you were interested in the ’06 Camry with 43k miles; it’s a really beautiful, great driving car.  Are there any questions I can answer for you before your scheduled appointment?”

8) Strong Community Outreach.  Dealerships also need to be huge in giveaways these days…but it’s actually nowhere near as expensive as you’d think. Have people opt in for a free oil change, a monthly drawing for an iPad or something similar, and build a loyal following using this strategy on social media.  You can also host contests where friends of friends do the voting…which means that your best customers become brand ambassadors on your behalf.

9) Keep Conversations Going.  Finally, start a fun-loving blog about events here in Spartanburg, customer testimonials and other light reading. This gives you something to post to social media between advertising each new car that you add to your inventory, and it drastically increases your natural exposure.  You’ll also use this content for email blasts to keep customers engaged well after their purchases, all the while helping you sell more vehicles.

This is the exact formula I use for all of my national clients, and it equates to an average of 30-40 additional used car sales per month over their previous totals.  Just take a moment and do the math- what’s the average commission times forty worth to your bottom line?  Because that’s what you’re losing out on every single month by not fully optimizing your website for consumers.

The best news of all is that online rankings for car dealerships in Spartanburg, South Carolina is wide open for anyone that’s serious about selling more cars and trucks; there simply is no serious competition out there at this time.  And as long as dealerships turn to those self-proclaimed “experts” in Greenville that can’t even make a car ad display properly, there will be a golden opportunity in place to really dominate the local market.

So if you’re ready to start flooding your showroom with foot traffic and sell a heck of a lot more vehicle every month, I would be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss how we can make that happen- just fill out the enclosed contact form for a completely free evaluation.