15 Essential Factors to Look Into Before Launching a Website 

Here are some of the factors you need to look into prior to launching your business website.

Launching a website for your business is a dream come true. After all the hard work, sweat, and tears that you've put into planning and executing your business, it's only a matter of time that a website is put in place.

With the help of a business website team, it is much easier now to achieve that dream of having a website to gain online presence and audience. Of course, it's more exciting to see the end product and show it to the world. But it's also essential to check the most important elements before letting your customers know. This is the most crucial part of having a website the first time - the inspection will help you see any flaws and have them fixed before making it live.

Here are some of the factors you need to look into prior to launching your business website:

(1) Website content

Depending on the business and audience you have, your content should be able to deliver the message clearly. However, each and every page of your website should be checked before the very first visitor lands on your site.

Ask your friend or colleague to do a second check and make sure it's thorough. While outsourced web development includes checking and corrections of content on your site, it's always best to do a second and third (and even a fourth) check to make sure it's 100% error-free and reader-friendly.

(2) Sitemap

The sitemap.xml file is found in the root directory. This allows search engines to find and properly categorize your website. Your small business website solution can help you find and submit your sitemap to all major search engines.

(3) Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions used to be among the relevant elements of SEO. Nevertheless, these are still very useful especially in providing short overviews of pages on a website. These are the wordings you see on the SERPs when you search for a specific topic and it's just below the bolded page title.

(4) Contact details

Your contact details should be the very first element to check on your website and you can add or update them moving forward. Include in your business' physical address, telephone number, email, Skype ID, and other possible contact info.

(5) Site speed

Online surfers are known to have very short attention spans. This is important to note because if you have a slow website, they will leave immediately.

Ensure that your website is up and loading fast. You can check your site's speed using tools such as Pingdom.

(6) Compatibility across various platforms

Check your website's compatibility across all possible platforms. You'll never know where your site visitors are coming from and what browsers or devices they're using. You can check your site's compatibility using Browsershot which automatically tests different platforms.

(7) Favicon

Favicon is one of the factors that some business owners forget. Remember that this is an element that makes your website memorable as it helps with branding. Tell your business website team to create a customized favicon for your site if you haven't already.

(8) Internal and external links

Check all of your links - both internal and external. It may take a while since this is done manually, but it's worth the effort if you do it now. You don't want those 'dummy' links that most web designers and/or developers forget to check after developing your site offline.

(9) 404 pages

404 pages are often overlooked, but they are quite important especially when a previously existing page becomes inaccessible in the future.

(10) Legal policies

Check the link/s to your legal policies such as terms of services and privacy. Make sure copyrights, company info, and use of cookies are included in the legal pages of your site.

(11) JavaScript independence

Check if your site still works when JavaScript is turned off. For security reasons, many website owners turn it off. However, if you use image sliders, they might not work if the JavaScript is turned off. Also, check for other features and elements on your site that might be directly affected by JavaScript.

(12) RSS feed

If you have a blog on your site, it's best to setup an RSS feed so your visitors can subscribe to your posts. You can place the RSS feed icon together with your social media icons.

(13) Social media sharing capability

Driving more traffic through social media is now the norm. So make sure you regularly have shareable content via social media. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media buttons. Your small business website solution will be able to incorporate these into your website's HTML or CSS code.

(14) Website functionality

Test and check your website's features once it's transferred from development server and made live. Such settings may affect the file structure and possibly break your website's functionality. Test your site and see if it will break.

(15) Backup

Last but not least, make sure to have a backup of your website. You can save your data in cloud space or any other location just to ensure that you have backup data when your site crashes. You may use tools or plug-ins for automatic backup.

So, are you ready to launch your website? Have you found any errors along the way?

Checking these factors before the launch will help you improve and find out early if ever there's anything wrong with your website. The other key to your success is to have an outsourced web development team to ensure you'll have a fully operational and trouble-free website launch.

If you need to get in touch with a business website team, give us a call or send us an email.

 

 

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.
Posted by Shirish Sharma Wednesday, May 20, 2015 10:25:00 PM Categories: SMB web development website

6 Compelling Reasons to Have a Professionally Designed Website for Your Business  

why you should have a Have a Professionally Desig ned Website for Your Business

 

For many small business owners, designing their own websites seems like the best idea there is when money is tight. This is a scenario that's not uncommon, but it's also a huge consideration when it comes to taking your business to the next level.

Why not go for small business website solution instead of doing it the DIY way? Even if you're bootstrapping your way to gain online presence, there should be careful thought when it comes to your website. A web design and development team that doesn't charge too much is always available online and can provide you with the right solutions or package for you to achieve a professionally designed website for your business.

If you're caught in between the DIY way and getting in touch with a small business website solution, here are a few compelling reasons to go for the latter:

(1) You'll save a lot of time (and hassles)

If you're one of the many small business owners who are pondering on the DIY type websites, think again. Think many times.

It's so common for owners to go the DIY route if there are budget constraints. But do consider the amount of time you'll invest in it if you'll do it your way. Chances are you're also working on a 9-5 job and this website is just a side job for you, for now. Or if you do employ someone to do the task for you, it better not be your cousin who knows a bit of coding or your neighbor's son who's studying IT.

These may be good options if you're bootstrapping, but in the long run your website will require updates, upgrades, design code checks, and many others. If you'll do these yourself, it will take a longer time and you'll lose more money as you postpone your launch.

 

(2) You'll get more business

A professionally designed website needs to be pleasant-looking and offers great user-experience. These two are your top most goals in building your website because you need to attract and make a good impression to your potential customers. And the more professional-looking and user-friendly your website, the higher possibilities of making sale.

 

(3) It strengthens your brand     

Sending the right message to your customers can also be done through a professional-looking website. The design team can put together the right narrative, color scheme, and overall look and feel for your website based on the industry you're in and the customers you have.

Proper branding comes in various forms, and your website is a bigger chunk that should represent your business overall. It is the 'face' of your business, so it's imperative to use it well to capture more potential customers in the long term.

 

(4) You'll end up with a visually appealing website

Sure, you can easily buy a website theme, get web hosting plan, and post a few pages and updates. But does your site look professional?

It's easy to do all these things as the required elements are highly available and easy to access. They're also cheaper, but they're also generic most of the time. Don't be surprised to find the same theme used by a same-industry blogger or a competitor who's also bootstrapping.

If you have the opportunity to get a web design and development team like Fast Track, it's best to go for a professionally designed website right at the beginning. You'll need a significant amount of money to get a visually appealing business website that's unique and appropriate. But in the long run, it will be worth it.

 

(5) It ensures website security

If you need to add shopping cart and payment methods for your customers, it's best to employ a professional web design team to help you. They can facilitate this feature and include additional safety measures to make sure your site and customer transactions are safe from malware and other threats.

 

(6) You don't have to take care of everything

Like many online business owners, it's normal that you want to take care of everything when it comes to your website. Small business website solutions, like Power Site, are well versed on even the most minute details. They are experienced and skilled, so you only have to worry about your business and not your website design and development process.

It may be biased to say that it's still best to go for professionally designed websites. But look at the benefits and the time and money you'll save if you finally choose this route with the help of a web design and development team like Fast Track. If you need to build and design your business website, give us a call and let's get started.

View User Profile for
Posted by Monday, May 18, 2015 9:48:00 AM Categories: responsive design web design

How to 301 Permanent Redirect for SEO 

How to 301 permanent redirect for SEO

Redirecting from non-www domains to www domains (such as 301 redirection – permanent) is very important for ranking on search engines such as Google and it's also important to make sure that you're getting traffic from old locations to new.

So what's a 301 redirect, you ask?   Say for example, you're moving your site from one domain to another.  You wouldn't want to lose all of the traffic on your current site.  Instead, you want to keep that traffic, plus get traffic from the new site.  That's where a 301 redirect comes in.  It's basically a simple way for the internet to tell site visitors "don't visit the page here, visit it here instead".  When the user types in the URL of the old site, it redirects the visitor to the new site.  

Search engines consider  http://domain.com to be a different from  http://www.domain.com. This is an important search consideration, so it's critical that your technical team creates the site direction  both with and without the www prefix.    

It's better to have every link used in exactly the same form as your domain. For this purpose, it is common to configure the redirect request from non-www side to www side.

It can be done in a number of ways but in this written tutorial, we will just focus on ASP.Net. Here are two simple solutions.

1. web.config : 

This is the most common practice because the IIS access is on the shared hosting environment.

Make sure you replace example.com with the name of your domain.

 
<configuration>

 
  <system.webServer>

 
    <rewrite>

 
      <rules>

 
        <rule name="Redirect to WWW" stopProcessing="true">

 
          <match url=".*" />

 
          <conditions>

 
            <add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="^example.com$" />

 
          </conditions>

 
          <action type="Redirect" url="http://www.example.com/{R:0}"

 
                  redirectType="Permanent" />

 
        </rule>

 
      </rules>

 
    </rewrite>

 
  </system.webServer> 

 
</configuration>

 

2. Global.asax.cs:

If you wish to redirect  within your application, use the Application_BeginRequest in Global.asax.cs to intercept the request and do a 301 (permanent) redirection on the URL. 

NOTE:you will need to set up the bindings of the site in IIS to accept both the www.domain.com and domain.com host names.

protected void Application_BeginRequest(object sender, EventArgs ev)

{

   string FromHomeURL = "http://www.example.com";

   string ToHomeURL = "http://example.com";

             

   if(HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.ToString().ToLower().Contains(FromHomeURL))

   {

       HttpContext.Current.Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";

       HttpContext.Current.Response.AddHeader("Location",

       Request.Url.ToString().ToLower().Replace(FromHomeURL, ToHomeURL));

   }

}

 

Would you like your site more SEO friendly?  Fast Track is here to help. Contact us today and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shubhada Paranjape Shubhada worked as a team lead for the Objectstar testing group (a product of Fujitsu) for two years. Later, she was the product lead for the e-filing development and support team for two years. Shubhada then joined Brian and her husband Ajey to start and run the Fast Track India operations. She holds a Masters in Mathematics from Pune University and an advanced diploma in Computer Science. She's on Twitter as @ShubhadaPar.
Posted by Shubhada Paranjape Friday, May 15, 2015 9:02:00 PM Categories: web development website

15 Do-It-Yourself SEO Tricks That Can Increase Website Traffic 

15 SEO Tricks that can increase website traffic.

The primary aim of every online business owner is to get on the first page of the search engine results. However, not every business owner can afford an SEO consultant, especially if the business is new.

For now, here are 15 do-it-yourself SEO tricks you can start with:

(1) Commit to a long-term strategy

First off, understand that it takes time (usually months) to double your traffic using search engine optimization since search engine algorithms continuously change. There is no magic trick or instant solution that can accommodate each and every website's SEO requirement. Search Engine Optimization takes time, commitment, and a long-term outlook.
 
(2) Learn SEO

There are numerous guides that will help you to learn SEO in-depth, and you can apply the simplest and easiest strategies to increase site traffic.  Many of these these guides can be found online for free from many SEO authority sites.

(3) Have a good domain name

Select a domain name which contains your main target keyword. Shorter domain names are ideal since they're easier to remember. And of course, use a .com for the extension since it is globally appropriate.

(4) Do keyword research

Research relevant keywords that your target market might be searching on the web. Choose both popular and competitive keywords to have a balanced list. Ideally, it should be a balance between low competition and high monthly search volume.

You can use free keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner as well as free versions of WordTracker or Keyword Discovery, especially if you're on a tight budget.  

(5) Build an awesome website

If your goal is to dominate a certain niche, ask yourself if your website is as good, if not better, than the top 10 websites in that niche.

The truth is that there will always be competition among websites and businesses. But it’s important to make sure that there is one differentiator that separates your product or service from the rest. So, make sure your site is better in at least one or two aspects to increase your chance to be at the front page of the search engine results pages.

(6) Have web analytics on-hand

It's critical to have web analytics software installed on your site right at the start. If you have a plan and defined goals for SEO, the web analytics package that you choose can help track and analyze the elements on your site that work, and which ones don't.

(7) Publish unique, relevant, and useful content

'Content is still king' especially if it's useful to the end user - your future customer. Make sure it's uniquely written and easy for your audience to digest. And don't forget that you're writing content for humans, not the search engines.

(8) Optimize page title and Meta description

One of the most important on-page SEO factors is the page title. Use primary keywords on the page title for ranking purposes, and on the Meta description. While the latter doesn't have an impact on SEO, it serves as a snippet for online searchers to get an insight of a specific page on your site.

(9) Include a page for site map

A site map assists search engine spiders in finding all the important pages on your website. It also helps the spiders understand website hierarchy especially for those with hard-to-crawl navigation menus.

(10) Use image ALT tags

ALT tags are short text descriptions for images you use on your website. Since search engines cannot read an image, an ALT tag tells the SEs what it is.

(11) Create internal links

Internal links are great for user navigation. Use targeted keywords as anchor text, as this helps search engine spiders to understand what the page is about.

(12) Build external links wisely

Find authority sites within your industry and ask their owners if you can provide an original post with a link to your site (guest blogging). You can also build links using social media to spread awareness among your followers.

(13) Diversify your site's traffic source

While Google search engine traffic is a given, it's best to have other sources of traffic such as social sites, local search, and subscriber emails. This protects from suddenly losing majority of your traffic if, for example, the next algorithm update hits your site hard.

(14) Use local search opportunities

Optimize your site to catch local traffic by using your location name. Prepare a detailed description for your business and submit your website URL to free local listings.


(15) Take advantage of search engine tools

Google Webmaster Central, Bing Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer can help you learn more about how these search engines see your website (e.g. how many inbound links they can detect).

There are still more ways to increase website traffic without spending a lot of money and by doing it on your own. It does take time to see the effects of SEO tactics and applying them at the onset is the best time to do so.


Do you have any more DIY SEO tip/s to add to this list? List them down on the comments section.

View User Profile for Crista McCandless Crista is a self-proclaimed geek who loves fiction, data analysis, growth hacking and everything Tolkien. At Fast Track, she helps businesses identify areas to improve and grow online with her ninja moves. She manages the digital strategy, including online marketing and search engine optimization. Follow her musings about world domination in Twitter as @crista_mcc.
Posted by Crista McCandless Tuesday, May 12, 2015 9:36:00 PM Categories: online marketing SEO website

Why Mobile-Friendly Website Design is Crucial for Small Businesses 

mobile friendly website design for small businesses

The proliferation of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, presents a need for mobile-friendly websites. This need became inevitable a few of years ago when many online businesses delve into mobile marketing strategies (i.e. SMS or text ads) in order to reach new audiences, while retaining the old ones via mobile channels.

For small business owners, it is never too late to develop online presence for both computer and mobile device users. The first step is to choose a small business website solution that can help you build a website with a responsive design. With a responsive design, your viewers can see a good layout of your website whenever they prefer to use a mobile device.

To better understand the current impact of mobile-friendly websites, consider these stats:

In 2011, Microsoft created and published an infographic that shows internet usage via mobile will overtake desktop by 2014.

And according to Google

  • 80% of online searchers leave their homes with their mobile device
  • smartphones are used: 97% at home, 83% on the go, and 78% in shops
  • 70% of mobile searchers are connected with a business
  • 52% of them called the business/service
  • 50% looked up on a map or got directions to that business
  • 66% of mobile searchers visited the business and 48% visited the website
  • 36% of mobile searchers made a purchase

There are many online reports and whitepapers showing stats similar to these. What they all convey is the opportunity to convert mobile searchers into customers. If you haven’t considered how visitors are interacting with your site through their mobile devices, you should.

If you're considering converting your site to be mobile responsive, consider these on four important things:

(1) Ensure you have a mobile-friendly website so your existing customers and prospects can shop your products and services on both desktop and mobile devices.

(2) Find ways to interact and engage with your potential customers, especially during promotional specials.  Keep your customers informed and engaged.

(3) Use mobile-specific tools/features to enhance the customer experience. Since this depends on the type of business and customers you have, think about the best way to get their attention without offending or bothering them.  Typically, companies offer informative articles, tips and other types of content that enhances the life of the consumer rather than selling to them.

(4) Mobile is not about technology. It is about your customers and prospects and how they use their mobile devices in finding and interacting with you. A successful mobile strategy entails getting more (new) customers while also selling more to existing clients.

Why go mobile?

  • It’s easier to immerse customers into your brand if they get the full electronic experience of your company on all devices.  
  • Having a responsive design is good for your site SEO.
  • Quite simply, it gives you more opportunity to sell!

Updating your website to a mobile-friendly format is essential to gain more customers. Most importantly, you have another way to keep the existing customers up-to-date and engaged.

Should you need a website update to make it mobile-friendly, Fast Track is here to help. Contact us today and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.
Posted by Shirish Sharma Monday, May 11, 2015 3:40:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C responsive design SMB web design web trends website
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