Top 5 Ways Google Analytics Can Help Your Business

Google Analytics is a free, powerful tool that helps you see all of the analytics related to your website. In other words, it shows you how many visits your website gets, where those visits come from, and what those visitors do on your website. 

At first glance, it can look incredibly intimidating with all of it’s numbers, charts, graphs, and fancy words, but we promise it’s easier than it sounds! It definitely has a learning curve but using Google Analytics can have a huge effect on the growth of your company, and that is well worth taking a little time to learn the platform! 

In this blog, I will give you the top 5 highlights of what Google Analytics can do for your business. Let’s get started! 

One thing that almost every business has in common are goals. Goals are what help drive growth and keep you focused. One very handy tool that Google Analytics offers is the ability to see and even track custom goals for your business. Email sign ups, checking out, submitting a contact form, even clicking on a social media button, all of these and more are things you can track in Google Analytics.

But wait, there’s more! You can break down these metrics into a detailed outline of how that goal was completed. Side note! When a goal is completed, it is called a conversion. This detailed outline feature can show you the start to finish journey of the user, so that you can find out where your conversions are happening, and where they are getting abandoned along the way. 

Finding out what your customers actually like is half the battle, if only there was a way to know this without asking them… THERE IS! Google Analytics can help you find out what content your customers are actually drawn to on your website and what they ignore. This way you can strategically create new content and stop wasting time on content that your customers aren’t going to react to. 

For example, let’s say your business posts about blogs that help promote new products in your store. You can go to Google Analytics and see what category of blogs are getting the most traffic, and which blogs are struggling. This will give you a clear understanding as to which products you should focus on as well as which products you may want to avoid. 

As a business owner you have probably run some sort of advertisement in the past. Sometimes these do great, but oftentimes they are complete shots in the dark and can have a negative return. Google Analytics can help you make well educated advertising decisions based off of the content that is performing well on your site. 

Getting a ton of traffic for a certain service? Chances are, that service is needed in your area so ads being run for that service are more likely to succeed rather than an ad published on a guess. Along with knowing what kinds of ads to post, you can use Google Analytics Conversion Tracking to see if your ads are bringing in revenue. 

Most small businesses struggle majorly in one area: Social Media converting to sales. 

This is usually because, like advertising, social media can be a total shot in the dark. Not only on what sort of content to produce, but what platforms you should use. Sure, you could try to do them all at once, but why waste time and money where there’s no real return on investment? 

Google Analytics can help you figure out what social platforms lead to sales on your website, so that you can cut off what doesn’t work and invest in what does. By narrowing your focus to platforms that perform well, you will be able to spend more effort into thoughtful content that helps you grow, rather than throwing a bunch of generic content at every single platform. 

Aside from being able to help you connect more easily to your customers, Google Analytics can help you find out if your website needs a little TLC. As a business owner you are already running around with your “head cut off,” trying to do all-the-things, correct? You rarely have time to hang out on your own website page by page, checking that everything is working well. But never fear, Google Analytics is here to help with two major categories: Site Speed and Site Behavior. 

Site Speed is crucial for gaining traction with your website. Studies show that if a site takes longer than 1 second to load, most users will just leave. Another study found that 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate results while using their smartphone. Site Speed in Google Analytics can show you your site’s load times for both mobile and desktop, and help you troubleshoot ways to improve. 

Site behavior is also very important because this tells you how users use your site and where users decide to leave it. This can be helpful to find out what information users aren’t connecting with and what parts of the website might be hard to navigate, causing users to leave. Part of this is the behavior flow, which shows a funnel drilldown of the navigation of your website, showing where users enter and exit your site and everywhere they go in between. 

So, if you see that users are entering your homepage and leaving before they get to any real solid information, chances are your homepage isn’t user friendly and could use some love. 

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool with an almost endless supply of uses. When used well, Google Analytics can help your website and your business as a whole as well as run more smoothly and efficiently. 

While we have barely scratched the surface in this blog of all the wonders of Google Analytics, we know it still might be overwhelming to someone completely new. That’s why we are always here to help! 

Reach out for a free consultation or training session to see how Google Analytics could be useful for your business. 

5 Signs of a Website That Works for You, Not Against You

As a business, you probably have some sort of website (hopefully), if not you are really missing out on reaching potential customers. If you do have a website, you most likely fall into one of these three categories: your website working for you (yay!) , you working for your website (that’s no fun) , or your website working against all of your hard work (saboteur!). In this blog, I’ll tell you the five signs of a good website that converts users and works for you, and tell you if your website needs some updating. 

via GIPHY

Before we really get started, we need to define what a “good” website is. A good website is one that works as an extension of yourself when you aren’t there to talk to customers. In essence, it should be the best employee that you have on your team. It should represent your brand perfectly, give customers the information they desire/need, and ultimately lead to new clients/ customers to help grow your business. It should be intentional and well thought out from beginning to end. It should grow as your business grows and never become a stagnant page living somewhere in the depths of the internet. A good website works for you, not against you. Let’s take a look at 5 easy ways to tell if your website is getting the job done. 

  1. Branding

via GIPHY

Branding is key to a well functioning website. Without proper branding, your customer honestly might not even know where they are and if they can really trust the information on your website. When you think of branding, your mind probably goes straight to logo, but branding is way more than that. Branding is who you are as a business. Sure, it is your logo, color scheme, and fonts, but it is also your tone of voice, how your photographs look, the quality of your service, and how you interact with your customers. Does your website look like your business? Does it sound like you and portray the quality of service you provide? Or is it just a stagnant landing page with your operating hours and address? Again, your website is your best employee, would you want your employees to come in wearing the competitors colors and talking about their service? Or would you want them to live and breathe your product/service in every way possible? 

  1. Dedicated Landing Pages

Many self-made websites are just one page with all of the businesses products/services listed, the hours of operation, and an address. While this is an easy way to get your information out there, it probably isn’t the best way to advertise your services to the internet. In order to show up better in search results, you should have individual pages for your products/services. So if your business offers three primary services: accounting services, clerical services, and office organization - then you should have separate pages for each of these services. This way if someone searches for one, it shows up instead of being lost underneath an unrelated page. This also helps customers navigate your website once they are there and find exactly what they are looking for. 

  1. Clear Call To Action

A clear call to action helps your customers know what action they should take on your website in order to get what they need, or what action you want them to take. Example: “Call Now” or “Get a Quote Today” In order to set a call to action, you need to know the overall goal of your website. Some examples of goals are: to sell a product or service online, to lead individuals to your brick and mortar, or to provide information. 

Let’s say you run a roof repair company called Ready Roof Repair and the main goal of your website is to get customers to schedule a free roof inspection. Your call to action should probably be more than just “get a quote” because everyone does that and you want to stand out from the crowd. A better call to action might be “Call us to get your free Ready Roof inspection today!” or “Fill out our Ready Repair questionnaire for your free quote!” Feel free to have some fun with it. The less generic, the better. 

You also don’t want confusing call to actions or call to actions living in the wrong place.  For example, Ready Roof Repair may also sell roofing materials and do attic repairs, too. So it would be really confusing if you had a Roof Inspection call to action on the page that talks about attic repairs and vice versa. Your Call to Actions need to be intentional and well placed as they are a driving force of conversions for your website.

  1. Load Time & Functionality 

via GIPHY

How fast your website loads and how well it works is pivotal in order to keep customers on your website. If a website takes longer than 1 second to load, many people give up and leave the website. 1 second! Which is why you need to make sure your website is optimized for the best speed. The easiest way you can do this by making sure your images are no larger than 1920x1080 pixels. You can check your site speed and run some diagnostics by going to Google Page Speed. If your website loads quickly, great! 

Now you have to make sure it has good functionality. Can people access all of your pages without having to search around your website like a maze? It is answering the most commonly asked questions about your business? Do all of the links and buttons work? Is it helping you accomplish your business goals? These are just a few things that can make a huge difference in the functionality of your website. 

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO ( or search engine optimization) is the behind the scenes part of your website that makes sure you are showing up in search engine results, like Google. Setting up good SEO helps your website show up more, and show up better than it would without taking any action. Many people will go through an agency to set up a professional SEO, but there are a few easy steps you can take yourself to enhance your website’s SEO. First, make sure you have content that is easy to read. If a person has trouble understanding your website's content, a robot certainly will too. Set up some main keywords that you think people will use when they search for you on the internet. Once you have a list of keywords, go through your content and make sure those words are sprinkled throughout in the right places. You can also set up a Google Search Console account for your website to help show you what you are doing well, and where you need to improve your SEO. It is free and a very powerful tool for your business! 

How To Tell If You Need A New Website

A new website may seem like a daunting task, but a poorly set up site does more harm than good to your business. It not only makes you hard to find on the internet, it also harms your business reputation. It only takes users about 50 milliseconds to determine if they want to stay on your website, so a good site just might be the deciding factor between you and your competitors for your customers. Here are a few signs you need a new or improved website: (You can also take our free website audit quiz below)

To sum it all up, if you don’t have a good website, you are hurting your business. Your website should be the best employee you have and be there to guide customers and answer questions when you can’t be. You should have the same trust in your website as you do in yourself, and if you don’t, then it’s time to get a new website that works for you and not against you. 

30 Second Tip: See How Google Sees Your Website

We hear questions about websites all the time! Here's our quick 30 second tip on how to see how your website is performing.

 

If you ever need to get a quick snapshot of how your website is performing - this is an easy way to get started.

 

1 - Open Chrome

2 - Click the three dots on the top right side of the screen.

3 - Click "More Tools" then "Developer Tools"

4 - Make sure that the "Audits" Tab is selected. 

5 - Select the correct settings for the audit you want to run before clicking "Run Audits."

6 - You are looking for all green scores. The closer to 100, the better!

If your scores aren't quite in the green, generally there are easy things we can implement to help you improve your score. Make sure to reach out if you have questions.

 

Why Using Free Open WiFi is SO Dangerous

Attackers Love When You Use Open WiFi

- The #1 Rule for Accessing Open WiFi

I see it time and time again. People logging into their admin panel on their websites, social media and just about anything else with complete abandon on public, open WiFi in coffee shops, airports, hotel lobbies, and just about anywhere else. I attend between 5-10 web design conferences per year and EVEN with all those tech savvy people, they will still gladly hook into the free wi-fi at the conference and login.
I’ve performed security audits on countless small businesses that were previously hacked. Most of the time it’s weak passwords, but the #2 culprit is, “Oh, yeah - I did login to {that site} from a Starbucks just before the hack.”

Attackers Love When You Use Open WiFi

Hackers like to use sniffers to lift your data and credentials when you log in through open WiFi connections. A sniffer looks just like a router, and what it can do is not only act as a rogue wireless access point, but it can also spoof real, existing access points. Small sniffers can easily fit within somebody’s pants pocket, maybe even a shirt breast pocket.

Router

Let’s see what the bad guy sees when he logs into one of these guys. When the attacker logs in, he gets a dashboard letting him know how many clients have connected. It also shows the spoofed wireless access point.

Attackers Log

The attacker has the ability to name that wireless access point anything that he or she pleases. Obviously they’re going to use something that’s going to try to be as intriguing or as enticing as possible to get you to click on it. And of course it’s going to be an open SSID -- a Service Set Identifier. The SSID is the name given to a WiFi network.
After connecting to the attacker’s SSID, I can surf the internet however I see fit. The attacker could be anywhere within the building or outside in the parking lot and see pretty much exactly what you’re browsing. It goes way beyond that, though. It also records the cookies, which could be used to hijack sessions later on, long after the person is gone.
It’s not just people be able to see what you’re doing. It’s what you leave behind that’s important.

Attacker Access Point

It works just as easily on a phone or mobile device as it does on a laptop.

The #1 for Accessing Open WiFi

If you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely, positively have to use an open, public WiFi and you have to login to something, make sure that you’ve got the green lock in the address bar, and that it’s an HTTPS website.

Accessing Open Wifi

Be conscientious of the lock, it is very important. But the bad guys are gonna continue to try to push the envelope. There is a thing called SSL split, which is a way of stripping out the “S” in the HTTP.
Some of the world’s biggest websites, like Twitter, won’t have anything to do with it. It basically isn’t even fazed by it.
Other websites might be aware of the fact that something weird is going on and is going to give you a warning.

SSL

This example is a little bit different, but if you click on there you can see that the connection is not secure.

Connection Unsecure

The tools that the bad guys use get more and more sophisticated. You need to be more and more sophisticated in defending yourself. 50% of all websites will NOT give you a clear warning at all, so you still need to be very aware, even if you THINK you are visiting an HTTPS website.
After a scrubber sits for a couple minutes, this thing will actually start to replicate the other wireless access points in the area. What that means is that it will send out a beacon as if it were the wireless access point. If somebody accidentally attaches to one of these spoofed access points, everything from above still applies.

You could use a VPN, which is a virtual private network. There are some free ones out there but the better ones you pay for. Essentially what this does is it allows you to change your IP address to pretty much anywhere in the world. All the information that was pouring out earlier, the scrubber isn’t getting.
The other thing about using a VPN, it gives you a certain amount of anonymity on the internet.
That about wraps it up. Just remember if you’re on an open WiFi in a coffee shop or anywhere else like an airport or hotel -- you are a target. It is very, very, very easy to sniff out and steal credentials. If they can get credentials to one of your logins, there’s a very high likelihood that they’ll be able to run those credentials through a database and try to login to every bank and financial institution in the world and do more damage that way. This is essentially what a lot of them do.
So be smart, stay safe, check that lock for SSL and use a VPN if you can when accessing open WiFi.

SSL Certificates - What the heck are they?

If you’re having a new website built, you’ll probably hear the term “SSL certificate” or “SSL encryption” at some point.  And if you’re like most, you probably have a vague idea of what it means, but don’t know exactly how important SSL encryption is to your website.

 

So what is this three-letter acronym, and what makes it such a vital part of website building?

 

What does SSL mean?

 

SSL, short for Secure Sockets Layer, is a level of protection for your website that will help keep your website, and its users, safe and secure.  It makes website hacking more difficult for those who would harm it, and ensures that easy-to-steal data is being kept safe.

 

When you have an SSL certificate on your website, it acts like a digital agent, reaching out to make safe contact with users via a “handshake”.  The “handshake” is actually a connection that is automatically made between the server and the user’s browser, telling both of them that this is a secure process.  

 

How does an SSL certificate help your website?

 

SSL certificates protect credit card numbers, user log-ins and passwords, and other personal information from being able to be accessed by anyone other than the authorized viewer.  This not only makes your website safer and informs users that their information is secure, it establishes a layer of trust with users that they otherwise may not have had.

 

It’s also good for Google rankings.  The search engine giants made it known in 2013 that SSL certificates pushed a website higher than websites without one.  Other search engines, like Yahoo or Bing, also look for SSL certificates - we all want to be safer online!

 

What if I don’t have a SSL certificate?

 

For one thing, you’ll be open to hackers who might wish to highjack important information on your website.  That would not only significantly damage your business through loss of possible sales, but could also cause your website to no longer become trustworthy.

 

This is bad news, because Chrome doesn’t like untrustworthy websites.  In fact, customers who visit your website while using Google Chrome as their browser will see a pop up when they attempt to go to your page, telling them that the site is unsafe.  This warning will scare potential clients away before they actually see your website - A hacker could damage their computer, or could walk away with private information

 

You can also lose your ranking on Google, and overall see a drop in SEO.  That means that you won’t be on the first page, and allows for your competitors to take their chance.

 

With all the protection offered by a SSL Certificate, it makes perfect sense to have this added to your website during its build.  

Why Business Owners Should Own Their Domain Name

You have a business, and now that business needs a website.  So you settle on a domain name (like abccompany.com) you like, but don’t know how to build a website.  You find someone who can do that for you, and boom – your business is online!

It’s a pretty easy cycle, or at least it seems that way.  We know that dealing with websites can be scary territory if you’re not familiar with all the nitty-gritty details.  Leaving those details in the hands of your web designer makes it simple for you to get on with the business you know.

But there’s one thing that you won’t want to leave to your website providers.  When it comes to the domain name, you want to make sure that it stays within your control.  We want to address why you need to do that, and how such a tiny detail can affect your business.

Domain Name Ownership

Believe it or not, it’s super easy to buy your own domain name.  For instance, we use Hover.com when we're looking at new domain names.  Their process is simple and easy to follow – Find the domain name you want, add it to your cart, purchase it, and that’s it.  The process is easier than buying something on most retailer websites, and they even offer free WHOIS protection, keeping ownership information private and out of view.

Leaving it up to your web provider can cause some serious issues.  Mainly, one issue – that domain name doesn’t truly belong to you. Sure, typing the domain into your internet browser will bring up your website.  But if for some reason your relationship with your website provider deteriorates, that domain name will be long gone. In some cases, they may work with you long enough to transfer ownership to you, but even then the process is completely on their terms.

And yeah, you can buy a new domain name, but that can have negative effects on your business that you didn’t anticipate.

What Can Go Wrong?

We believe in addressing the most obvious problem first:  Letting someone else purchase your domain name gives them complete control over it.  While you and your provider are in sync, issues usually won’t arise. However, if you begin attempting to move away from them, they could very well move that domain name anywhere they want or worse, they are technically the owner listed for the domain and can choose not to move it. Not to get morbid here but if they were to die or disappear and they bought the domain name and registered it in their name, you will be facing a tedious battle to try and retain that domain name.

This leads into the second downside:  Not only would you immediately need a similar-enough domain to continue building your business, but you’d lose on any marketing already done with that domain name.  This includes SEO. All the hard work put into ensuring your domain popped up right where you needed it to is wiped away, meaning that you’ll see a huge loss in traffic.  This would all be on top of the wait for a new website to be developed and built, putting a further dent in your web traffic.

While all of that is bad enough, they intersect in the perfect storm of lost web business:  Your new website would be in direct competition with your old one. The two domains would be seen next to each other while you attempt to rebuild on your SEO strategies, which could cause confusion for customers while at the same time weakening all the work you’ve already done for your business online.

What to Do About It

It’s easy:  Buy your own domain name!  Google it, research it, and get it before you work on building your website.  Don’t leave this seemingly tiny task in the hands of your website provider. You want to control your website, and the only way to be absolutely sure of that is to own the domain name.

Are you ready to take on the most important part of building your website?  You can buy your domain name with ease and efficiency at Hover.com. I vouch for them, since I use them myself – and that actually knocks a little off the price!

Here’s how:

Go to Hover.com

Search for your domain name (like abccompany.com) and then create an account, pay the registration fee, then point it to your web hosting.

Domain Search

Taking these super easy steps will give you lots of peace of mind knowing that one of your most valuable business assets has been secured using your info and credit card. You control it and pay for it, and it’s yours as long as you pay your yearly renewal.

PRO TIP- I always tell my clients to add this event as an event on their personal and business calendars. Hover is particularly great about sending reminders to renew, but I never want to 100% count on someone else’s system to ensure my interests. Do it when you complete your registration and sleep like a baby.

Landing Pages for Social Media Ads

The What and the Why

It’s a common problem – a new business starts trying to advertise on social media, and clicking on their ad takes you straight to their home page without utilizing landing pages. I know that this seems like the best idea. Let’s face it, we all want our website to be seen, right? Why not send customers straight to the home page?

I know that your home page is the face of your website, but I’m in the business of helping you grow. To do that with social media advertising, you’ll want to use landing pages – and I’m about to tell you why.

 

What is a Landing Page?

Before I talk about the advantages of having a landing page, let’s start by defining what that is.

A landing page is a web page built to zero in on the specific product or service you are trying to sell with your advertising, while also gathering information on the customers who clicked the ad.

For further definition, let’s look at the two types of landing pages: Lead generation pages, and Click-through pages.

A lead generation page focuses more on gathering customer information for future contact, such as their e-mail, phone number, or mailing address. A click-through page acts as a thoroughfare to your website, but concentrates your products or services to best match the advertisement you placed.

Why have a Landing Page for Social Media Advertising?

If there’s one thing social media is good for, it’s finding exactly the information you want without having to dig for it. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you want your advertising links to take your customers straight to the product or service you’re offering.

For example, if I clicked on a Facebook ad for a free downloadable e-book on gardening and ended up on the homepage of a home improvement website, I probably won’t look for that e-book. Instead, I’ll peruse the site, and leave the site without giving that business any usable information.

Or worse, I’ll bounce. Bouncing is when a customer looks at a web page and then hits the back button or goes straight from your site to another site. Social media users are accustomed to ads taking them exactly where they want to go, and they won’t hesitate to hit that back button.

Your landing page cuts to the chase – Here is what you’re looking for, here is what you can give me in exchange. With convenience and a simple line of communication, you increase the chances of gathering information and making a sale. After all, that’s what business is all about, isn’t it? Social media is the bait, and your ad may be the hook, but in the end, your landing page will be the reel. So yank ‘em in with a landing page, and you’ll find more prospects and conversions than your home page could provide.

 

Landing Pages Work – Just Try Them!

I’ve worked with a lot of people who couldn’t understand why their social media ads weren’t working for them the way they should have been. Putting out a beautiful ad that links to your home page just isn’t enough anymore.

With landing pages, you’re putting the most important information in front of your customers in the most convenient manner for them. Convenience builds confidence, and confidence builds loyalty. In addition, you’ll be generating more leads, gaining more website hits, and seeing many less bounces on your website.

If you’re worried that your social media ads are just not performing the way they should be, I suggest trying out landing pages. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes for your business – I know I was!