10 Helpful SitesJune 3rd, 2015

10-helpful-sitesHere are 10 sites I find particularly helpful in managing websites. I hope you find them valuable as well.

  1. Convert Case – If you manage website for a living as I do, you know people send you text in all sorts of weird ways.  You have the all-caps fanatic, or those who never use caps.  This site is a big help and time-saver.
    Website: http://convertcase.net/
  2. Down for Everyone – Clients sometimes call and tell you their sites are down when you can bring it up clear as day. This site will tell you if if the site is down for everyone or just you.
    Website: http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/
  3. 301 Redirect Code Generator – Changing URLs is a necessary evil, but if you don’t redirect users, Google will penalize. This site easily create redirects for every type of server.
    Website: http://www.rapidtables.com/web/tools/redirect-generator.htm
  4. LastPass Password Generator – The days of having simple passwords are over, you need sophisticated random passwords. This site generates random passwords with different criteria. For instance, you can create a 20 character password with mixed case, characters and numbers.
    Website: https://lastpass.com/generatepassword.php
  5. WhatTheFont – Ever look at a graphic and wonder what font they use?  This site will help you to identify which fonts. The good thing is they give you close options which helps in case one is ultra-expensive.
    Website: http://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/
  6. Lorem Ipsum – If you design website, placeholder text is always needed.  This site generates placeholder text, by paragraphs, number of words or bytes.
    Website: http://www.lipsum.com/
  7. Character Counter – If you post to sites like Twitter, you need to know how may characters, this site offers an easy way to do that and counts characters, words, sentences, paragraphs and white-space.
    Website: http://www.charactercountonline.com/
  8. Alphabetizer – Ever need to alphabetize a list, this site is for you.  It also removes dupes and has other features for CSV files including adding line breaks.
    Website: http://www.textfixer.com/tools/alphabetize-text-words.php
  9. Google Translate – if you manage sites in languages not your own, Google Translate is a good site. Not perfect, but it does the trick most of the time. It is a good idea to run the translated text by a native speaker as sometime a word Google may come up may not always be the best choice.
    Website: https://translate.google.com/
  10. Sucuri Malware Scanner – If you manage a site at some point you will need to scan it for malware.  This site does a good cursory scan, though even they say: “Although we do our best to provide the best results, 100% accuracy is not realistic, and not guaranteed.
    Website: https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/

 
I’d love to hear what tools/sites you use every day, please comment below with sites and tools that make your life easier.
 

10 ideas to improve web & social media in 2015December 30th, 2014

2015With the new year coming it is time to review your website and social media pages.  No matter how successful, you can always improve. Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Responsive Design: If your site doesn’t work on all devices, make this the year.  And the best part? You can keep your design if it works for you, just convert it.
  2. Stock Photos:  If the majority of your images are stock photos, replace with real company photos.
  3. Get Blogging:  If your site looks exactly like it did a year ago, add content.  Best Way?  Add a blog, and write often.
  4. Social Media:  If you have social media pages and never post, delete them.  Sounds strange coming from someone who lists social media management as one of their services, but you actually harm your business with social media pages that are out of date.  Why? It looks as if you are closed for business.
  5. eCommerce: Not selling online? Make this the year.  You don’t have to go full bore, start with a few products and see how it goes.  There are simple ways to sell, not requiring a totally new website.  If you have WordPress for instance, there are simple plugins.  If not, there are other methods, such as PayPal buy now buttons and more.
  6. Content Management System (CMS): If you have a static website someone built for you several years ago, that you can’t edit, consider a content management system, such as WordPress or Drupal.
  7. Professional Management: We have all seen the DIY websites, promising that you can do everything yourself.  Domain companies love to push these sites complete with templates used by 10s of thousands of other businesses.  You quickly find out they aren’t so easy and you are stuck with a half done, unprofessional website. Hire a pro to help you manage your site. Go with a CMS (see #6) and let a pro keep the software up to date, backed up and safe.
  8. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule:  One of the main reasons our websites and social media gets out of date is because we don’t treat them as we do the rest of our business. The solution? Have a schedule for content and social media and STICK TO IT.  Write a blog posts once a week or whatever works for you, and send yourself a recurring invite.  Come up with a social media plan, say post every other day, or even once or twice a week. But stick to it.
  9. Automation: This should not be a dirty word.   You can automate certain tasks, such as having your blog post get sent to your social media pages via an RSS feed. Or you can bulk set up social media posts, there are several service that allow this. You shouldn’t automate everything, as you want to be on your social media pages each day interacting with your audience.
  10. Security & Backups:  One of the main things you need to start taking seriously is security.  If you are using WordPress for instance, make sure you are on the current version and that plugins are up to date.  And use a good security plugin to mitigate the risk.  And please, take complete backups on a regular basis so you can get your site back if hacked.

Bottom Line: Use the New Year to take your web and social media to the next level.  If you need help or have any questions about any of our ideas, contact us, we are glad to help.

 

Sweat Equity a MustFebruary 18th, 2014

hard-work-aheadI remember an old expression “everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”.  Now of course this is true if not a bit harsh. But, you are asking yourself what does this possibly have to do it my website?

Clients come to me to improve their search engine optimization, as well as their presence on social media. I of course am happy to help, that is my business after all 🙂

I always tell them I can help, but I can’t do it alone. You are the subject matter expert in your given field. I may be a thought leader in my field, but all that allows me to do is help YOU. You, the client have to put in some sweat equity if you want to be successful. I can provide you the mechanisms to improve your sites visibility with search engines and social media. I have done this for myself, I’ve done this for clients, but still there are many clients out there that want everything, just not willing to put in the time.

Now what does this mean? Well for instance social media. I can help you gain followers visibility, etc. But to do so we have to be active. To be successful in social media, you actually do have to be social.  I know that sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised how many people want to do well with social media but don’t actually like being social. Work is not all about doing what we like to do, that is why they call it work.

At RooSites we often start by having people set up a schedule for work they’re going to do both with their website, and for social media. We have even started a beta test of sending reminders to people each week, to write a blog or an article for their websites. This way they can improve their search engine visibility, and do it the right way, through old-fashioned hard work and quality content. Google loves quality content. And you know what? They should. After all, that is what people are searching for, right? No ones sets out looking for the most optimized website. No, they want the best result set for the what they are querying the search engine for in the first place. So put in the hard work, the sweat equity will pay off.

But, if you aren’t willing to put in the time to improve your site or social media, do yourself a favor, delete your social media pages. Then put a note on your stale website: “We really don’t care about our site, hope you will do business with us anyway.” Hey at least you will get points for honesty.

 

Ignore emails, form requests: Kiss business goodbyeFebruary 1st, 2014

Seems pretty elementary right? You should respond to all emails and form requests and you should do it very quickly. As a rule I try to answer every email the same day. But you would be shocked at how many companies actually ignore emails and form requests. Remarkable, right?

at-signCase in point, I have been looking at new car leases and have been emailing back-and-forth with various dealers. I actually had one dealer in the Florida area that I was very close to a deal with. We had agreed to a price and I just asked him how much more would it be to extend the lease for one more year. Now originally, he was being very receptive, and we had a deal just about in hand. He knew I was ready to pull the trigger, but suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. Trying to think positively of the gentleman I sent him a follow-up email. “I have not heard back from you, wondering where we are. I’d like to finalize.” It has been two weeks and I have not heard a thing from my email or my follow-up. I have of course moved on. So what’s the result? Well the dealer lost a potential new client and a very good sale. So I can only think that either the guy was full of you know what and never had the deal, or he had some other angle he was trying to run. Regardless, he blew it. At very least he should of said, I can’t do that deal, but if you’re still interested, perhaps we can find a different deal that is acceptable. Okay, so maybe I would not have been thrilled but at least I would’ve respected him for getting back to me and telling me the truth. And I may have used him down the road or recommended him to my friends.

I can’t tell you how many times people come to me trying to increase their business. Almost always, I give them the same advice. If you want to do business via the web or social media you have to be responsive. People write you because they don’t have time for a call or just want to get a quick quote or perhaps an answer to a question. If you ignore your email and form requests, you’re basically kissing business goodbye.

So here is a good rule of thumb. Try and respond to all emails and form requests very same day. And, it doesn’t mean you have to solve their issue or even complete their request (if they’re current customer). But it just means you’re saying “hey I hear you, I am here and I’m on this for you.

A large percentage of business RooSites has gained over the years is due to our response time. People are shocked how quickly we respond to questions. Clients are amazed we turn around requests the same day on most occasions. This of course should be the norm, not the anomaly. Customer Service pays dividends, plain and simple.
 

New business branding originalityJanuary 22nd, 2014

be-originalI was watching an episode of Bar Rescue this week. I find the show thoroughly entertaining as the host John Taffer goes in and rips apart failing bar businesses.   As I often do, I find parallels with my business, web design, development and management.  (I know, I find parallels everywhere to the web world. Hey I am a web guy 🙂 )

Why you ask? Well, first they send in a spy to check out the bar and to sample the food and drinks.  In my case I look at the website and evaluate. They figure out why the bar is losing money, re-design the space and fix the deficiencies.  Very similar process for me but I don’t get as angry as the host of Bar Rescue. (Most of the time)

I was watching an episode the other day. The bar owner had sold his previous bar. He then opened a new place across the street. This particular bar was in New Orleans which means it is one of the few places in the US where you sell drinks to go.  Instead of coming up with a new concept, he copied the plastic to-go cup in color and looks.  (the old bar had a green hand grenade shape at the bottom, the new one had a turtle motif on the bottom, but both looked identical) The result? They got sued for copyright infringement and spent $100,000 defending the suit. His bar ended up a cheap copy of his old place and the result was a cheap imitation that was easy to miss. So easy in fact, that the spies which were sent in actually walked by the place!

So, this made me think in terms of new websites and new business branding. Often times clients will look at their competitors and want to copy what they see. Now competitive analysis is a great first start when you are in the process of getting a new business venture going. But copying what they’re doing is never a good idea. You want your own original branding strategy. Readers to my blog will remember I spoke about names in my last post. You also want to think very carefully before you name your new business. If you choose a name which there are already five or six other companies with the same name, chances are you will not get a great domain. And even worse, you actually drive traffic to those sites.

Bottom line: Be original in your name, your design and everything you do so that you establish your own brand and company identity. You want to differentiate yourself, not copy others. Do your competitive analysis, but think of ways you can be better than the existing competition. As the web world is ever changing, chances are your website is a good place to outdo your competition as you can have the most up to date website with the latest technology.