What is Website Security and Why You Need It 

importance of website security

Having effective and reliable website security helps to build trust and confidence between you and your customers. It is important to protect your site from outside attacks and to keep customer information confidential and secured.

Security is a measure of how safe your website and its data are from hackers.

A secure website is of paramount importance to your business. Websites are under continual attack by hackers, looking to steal funds or personal information of your clients or, in some cases, take control of the website and change it for their purposes. Even a single security breach can be disastrous to your company, both financially and in terms of the trust you have built with your clients in safeguarding their personal information.

Ultimately, higher customer confidence means higher sales through repeat orders and customer loyalty.

Typically, there are key pages in your site where it is important to reinforce security, namely:

  • Log-in page
  • Using the shopping cart
  • Creating an account

You can maximize your site security by limiting administrative access to your site. Device a difficult password which cannot be easily decoded. Change your site password regularly.

If your website platform doesn’t offer these services, check our Power Site. Fast Track’s fully customizable website solution that includes all of the latest features including a CMS, eCommerce, SEO and more.

 

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Posted by Wednesday, September 3, 2014 2:05:00 PM Categories: online marketing web development website

How Mobile Web Design Can Increase Your Sales 

mobile web designHaving a mobile-optimized website is unavoidable. With 58% of adults in America1 owning a smartphone and spending an increasing amount of time on them, the opportunities for brands to increase sales through this medium are growing rapidly.

For business owners and web designers alike, understanding the kind of sales increases that have been experienced by brands through the use of mobile web design, and the specific design decisions that lead to them, will help you construct and inform your mobile strategy.

The Over-Arching Principles

1. Personalization

By removing barriers and making transactions as painless as possible, you can personalize the mobile experience and help users progress through their path to purchase.

Dominos Pizza personalized its mobile experience through remembering customer payment details, which contributed to a 20% increase in sales through its mobile channel2. Now, over 60% of orders are placed on mobile devices2 and the digital nature of the channel helps track specific ROI as a result.

2. Use User’s Urgency

Mobile browsers are goal-oriented3, which means that they’re often in a position to make a purchase right there and then. So the opportunity to increase sales on mobile devices is certainly there if you make it easy to do.

On smartphones, the user’s defenses, guards and natural shields are down, so there’s an opportunity to increase cross sales as well, if you can make a relevant and related offer appealing enough.

3. Restrictions

Don’t make users log in before they can browse3, or worse, before they can make a purchase4. Placing restrictions on the browsing experience, especially if you’re a lesser-known brand, can cause apprehension and discourage users from continuing.

4. No Pinching

Don’t make users have to pinch and zoom and rotate their device when navigating. Making users adjust their natural browsing behavior to navigate around your site leads to frustrations that are likely to lead to abandonment3.

Mobile sites should be responsive and fit the screen the user is using. Through utilizing Responsive Web Design (or RWD), many brands have seen a direct increase in conversions5 with some experiencing an up to 54% increase in sales6.

Practical Design Tips

As well as these over-arching principles, there are also some specific design nuances that can also lead to an increase in mobile sales.

1. Infinite Scroll

People behave differently on mobile devices. For example, users tend to keep scrolling until they find something useful, hence the infinite scroll on sites like Twitter and Facebook where engagement is key. Recognizing this, the Huffington Post incorporated an infinite scroll on their mobile site, and increased the average time spent on the website by 50%7. The more time users spend on your site, the more opportunities you have to persuade them to make a purchase.

2. Call-to-Action (CTA) Front and Center

With users behaving with more urgency on mobile, they’re less patient. They have momentum. By putting your CTA front and center on the Home page8, you can keep that momentum going and lead users to their desired place as smoothly as possible.

Using at least finger-sized buttons that are easy to click will help here because if your ‘touch targets’ are too small, people can make mistakes and click the wrong thing9, all of which will lead to further frustrations and drop outs.

3. Intuitive Forms

Make mobile forms easy to fill out by incorporating auto-advance, so that users are moved to the next field in the form automatically, which reduces friction3. Also, make sure you show users the correct keypad in line with the type of field they’re completing10. For example, show the numbered keypad11 when requesting numbers and email keyboard12 when asking for email addresses. This strips away tension and allows the user to progress without thinking too hard and without needless barriers.

Taking Mobile Seriously

The difficulties users feel using desktop sites on mobile devices is similar to those experienced by people with disabilities13, so careful attention has to be given to specific nuances when designing websites for mobile devices. And given the amount of traffic and revenue potential on mobile devices currently, let alone the potential for the future, the attention and investment required may not only be worth it, but before long it’ll be unavoidable.

If you’re looking for a future-proof mobile responsive website that’ll capitalize on the above and meet the needs of your mobile customers, connect with us for a chat about how we can help.

References

1 http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/

2 https://www.google.co.uk/think/multiscreen/success.html#dominos-pizza

3 https://www.google.co.uk/think/multiscreen/whitepaper-sitedesign.html  

4 http://www.fasttrackteam.com/sure-fire-ways-to-cause-shopping-cart-abandonment.aspx

5 https://econsultancy.com/blog/63185-14-brands-that-increased-conversion-rates-via-responsive-design#i.5b1p7eamhdefrl

6 http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/shiseido-americas-corp-exec-responsive-design-site-increased-smartphone-conversions-54pc

7 http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.co.uk/en/uk/think/multiscreen/pdf/the-huffington-post-multi-screen-resources_case-studies.pdf

8 http://linchpinseo.com/25-mobile-website-design-tips-to-increase-conversions-mobile-seo

9 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/02/21/finger-friendly-design-ideal-mobile-touchscreen-target-sizes/

10 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/05/03/removing-stumbling-blocks-in-mobile-forms/

11 http://stackoverflow.com/questions/13817521/edittext-view-with-keyboard-number-only

12 https://developer.apple.com/Library/ios/documentation/StringsTextFonts/Conceptual/TextAndWebiPhoneOS/KeyboardManagement/KeyboardManagement.html

13 http://www.w3.org/WAI/mobile/experiences

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Posted by Monday, August 25, 2014 12:33:00 AM Categories: online marketing responsive design web development

A Simple Tip That'll Help Your SME Generate More Leads 

lead generation tips for SMEs

It’s no secret that Google can do you a favor or two to help your online success as an small or medium-sized business. With a 67.6% market share in the US and 12.6 billion searches processed per month1, the opportunities for customers to discover your business via Google present themselves thousands of times each day. 

However, if Google is going to prioritize your business above everything else on the entire internet when users search for particular phrases, then you’ve got to let it know you exist. One of the ways to let Google know you exist that’ll help you generate more leads and sales is to register to Google My Business2/3.

Google My Business will help potential customers find you by taking the details of your business and spreading them across the Google services.

 

How Can Google My Business Generate Leads?

Google Maps

When your business registers to Google My Business, you’ll be given a presence on Google Maps. This will come in the shape of an icon at your business location, which gives potential customers a chance to find you when they’re browsing.

Once Google knows your location, it can offer directions to your business across its services, too. This can help raise awareness, entice ad hoc traffic to your site and generate leads from local customers. It’s particularly handy for bars, restaurants and retailers.

Local Searches

Google personalizes its search results depending on the searcher’s location, so those searching for ‘pizza delivery’ in Washington DC will be shown different results than those searching for ‘pizza delivery’ in Seattle. If your business targets customers at a local level – maybe you’re a local business or have a number of branches - then being featured in local searches can help you find customers that match your target geographic4.

Enhanced Visibility

The local search results pages tend to be formatted differently to the standard results pages, so your business could be given the entire right-hand spread if users search for your business by name5.

This stands head and shoulders above the listings on the left-hand side and draws unparalleled attention to your business.

Phone Number, Opening Hours and Address

When you register with Google My Business, your companies contact details are visible on the search results page6, as well as on Google+ and Google Maps. This means that potential customers can make an inquiry without having to go through trouble of searching through your website. This is a handy feature if you’re either a well-known brand, or if you’re in an industry with many substitutes, like car mechanics. Opening hours and your address are also listed, so potential customers can be informed early.

Reviews and Endorsements

As well as your phone number and address, Google My Business also features ratings and customer reviews, which allow customers to share their experiences and rate your business7. The more positive reviews you attract, the more chance you’ll have of attracting new leads.

Google+

Rumors suggest that Google are set to axe their third attempt at a social network, or at lease phasing it into the background and removing its front-end aspect8/9. However, with over 300 million active monthly users10, the presence on Google+ that you’ll adopt when you register with Google My Business will provide you with the opportunity to tap into some of that potential customer base while it’s there.

Google Autocomplete

An added bonus that we recently discovered is that, through registering to Google My Business, you can work your way into the branded Google Autocomplete feature11. This is prime link-bait for user searching for your business or similar phrases, which again has the potential to increase your leads and find new custom.

How Do I Get Involved?

Google My Business isn’t a replacement for a business website, nor is it all you should focus on to increase your visibility in the search engines. However, it’s free, it’s handy and it has the potential to increase your leads online.

To get involved and register your business, follow these steps to register your business or find out more here.

References

1 http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2345837/Google-Search-Engine-Market-Share-Nears-68

2 http://www.google.com/business/

3 http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2350395/Google-My-Business-New-Tools-for-Small-Business-Owners

4 http://pocketnow.com/2014/05/05/axe-google-plus

5 https://support.google.com/business/answer/2721884?hl=en&ref_topic=4596754

6 http://www.google.com/business/#befound

7 https://support.google.com/business/answer/4801187?hl=en-GB

8 http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/24/google-is-walking-dead/

9 http://pocketnow.com/2014/05/05/axe-google-plus

10 http://marketingland.com/google-hits-300-million-active-monthly-in-stream-users-540-million-across-google-63354

11 http://www.fasttrackteam.com/the-latest-google-addition-that’ll-boost-your-website-traffic.aspx

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Posted by Sunday, August 24, 2014 6:59:00 PM Categories: online marketing social media

Why Site Availability Important to Your Business 

importance of site availability

Site Availability measures the percentage of the time that website is up and available to users.

It is critically important that a website be up and responding to users as much as possible. A website that is down is like a store that is closed. Users will not be able to visit, obtain product information, or make purchases. Web sales will stop and users may go to a competitor’s site. While it may not be possible to be up 100% of the time, a site should strive for an availability of at least 99.95%.

How can you improve your site availability score?

To obtain a good availability score, it’s important to choose and stick to a trusted web hosting company that has a history of providing good services to clients. Make sure that the web hosting company is offering a minimum of 99.95% availability.

To learn about site availability and other key metrics that are critical to gaining business on the internet, or for a free site evaluation, visit www.site-evaluator.com.

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Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 6:19:00 PM Categories: online marketing SEO Site Evaluator social media

The Latest Google Addition That’ll Boost Your Website Traffic 

Google Instant, the feature that pre-empts your search terms and shows the results of your predicted search as you type1, has started including branded business suggestions in the Autocomplete drop down menu. These stand out above all of the other suggested search terms and could be a huge pull for traffic to your website if you’re lucky enough to make it onto that fabled drop down.

What Is Google Instant?

You’ll have seen it before; when you search for something on the Google website and, when you start searching, it predicts what you’re searching for by using Autocomplete2 and shows you the results as you type, like this:

google instant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google claims that by showing you search results as you type, you’ll wind up making better searches because you can adjust your terms accordingly during your search3. How many people actually do this is debatable and there are retorts of this actually slowing searchers down4. The Autocomplete feature that it uses to predict your search also has a built in spell checker so sloppy or quick searches aren’t penalized. 

Google says that it doesn’t necessarily prioritize the most popular searches with Google Instant5, as it tries to keep things personalized. A personalized search is more valuable than a popular one, according to Google5. So depending on what country, state or town you live in1; whether you’re logged into a Google account or if your previous searches are stored in a cookie6, you’ll be seeing personalized searches unique to your location and browsing history. This means that what I see when I search won’t be the same as what you see when you do.

Google Instant’s Relevance for Businesses

Google Instant and Autocomplete work hand in hand and are valuable for businesses on a national and local level. If you’re included in the suggested searches, users can find you quicker. Plus, if you’re SEO strategy is strong, then you’re targeted keywords may feature in there, too. This all helps tempt traffic and potential customers to your website.

However, typically, Google won’t do you any favors and include your business in Google Instant unless it’s sure that you’re the best match for the user’s search. And, even then, you’ll be one of four other suggestions in Autocomplete and many more on the search engine results page. Each one looking identical in terms of the way they're presented with only the physical hierarchy of the list to infer priority or relevance. However, things might be about to change.

New Google Instant for Business

Imagine my surprise to find that, when I searched “Fast Track” this morning, I noticed that Google have done us a bit of a favor. Our logo, address and Google Plus URL are featured in the drop down suggested search terms in Autocomplete. It’s in the style of a mini search result and looks more attractive than a 6 foot cupcake:


 

 

 

 

 

Is Google now prioritizing relevant businesses who are registered with My Business7 or Google Plus in favor of those that aren’t?

There’s no question that our suggested search term certainly looks more attractive and tempting than the others on the list. It makes us stand out. It looks clean and professional and almost like a Google endorsement, as opposed to a simple suggested term. Although the other results aren’t related or our direct competition, will this feature stay when those suggested terms are filled with our competition?

Where Will They Go With This?

The potential for business growth as a result of this is huge. What if, instead of our address and zip code, Autocomplete showed quick synopsis of what we do and a phone number? Or a link to a contact form or our Twitter handle or even our most popular services or customer ratings and testimonials? What if the white space beside our address had a banner, a gif or even a video of a product tutorial? What if these enhanced branded suggestions were presented in a similar fashion to search results pages, so that when users search for “web design Seattle”, the Autocomplete and Google Instant suggest Fast Track in this fashion? 

The possibilities and opportunities that Google could unfurl here are endless. They could even replace the entire search engine results page with an even smarter Autocomplete and Instant fusion where all search results are shown in this fashion in the drop down. And, they could charge businesses for more interactive features, too. 

Whether all that is planned or not, I’m sure we’ll eventually find out. But, if you’re not currently registered to Google My Business7, you should do it now, get in early.

References

1 http://searchengineland.com/google-instant-complete-users-guide-50136

2 https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/106230?hl=en

3 http://www.google.co.uk/instant/

4 https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/106230

5 http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work-62592

6 http://boingboing.net/2010/09/09/the-google-instant-a.html

7 http://www.google.com/business/

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Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 5:22:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C inbound marketing online marketing social media marketing web development web trends website
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