I’d just like to take moment to mention the Centre for Business. This is a business support agency that over the last 30 years has helped to create over 10,000 businesses and supports over 8000 existing businesses. These are pretty big numbers, but this is not a case of get lots of numbers and hope for the best. Its a case of help lots of businesses because the quality of service is good.
Part of my work involves finding good things and passing on the good news.
So why not take a look at the recently upgraded Centre for Business web site – there is a lot of good material here – hope you find something of use for your business here.
You might wonder why I am endorsing Centre for Business. Well a couple of things have happened that reminded me that this was something that needed to happen. To start with I have received first class advice over the years from their business advisors. The second one is that I have been working directly with the Centre for Business on a number of projects and as a result I know that they work hard on the behalf of their clients and finally – the recent web site update – which I find clear and easy to use prompted to think – perhaps I should write this piece.
Writing good web site content isn’t just about writing. Its creating something that your audience can read, enjoy, and be informed by; whilst also being shareable and attractive to search engines. When you start thinking about all the roles that the text on a web site needs to fulfil it sounds a little daunting. Fortunately this type of writing is not so bad – especially when you break things down to simple tips or rules.
I’ve put together this list of 10 tips that will help write more effective content for your web pages and blog entries.
1) Use simple, clear and precise English. Keep sentences short and to the point. Leave no room for ambiguity.
2) Make sure that every page makes a definite point. Readers need pages that they get useful information from. Google is looking for pages with quality of writing. Make sure that your page is useful and good for the reader.
3) Keywords – words that people will enter to find you should be in the page title / page headline and first paragraph. Sprinkling these words liberally throughout a page in large numbers will not help you get found on Google.
4) Keep use of Keywords down. Keywords should typically only be about 4% of the text for each word. Keep repeating the same word(s) and Google will ignore the page.
5) Informative pages should contain at least 300 words. Anything shorter than that will not help as Google may deem this as too short to be of any value.
6) Make sure each has a specific TITLE and DESCRIPTIVE tag set for it. These help Google to index your site.
7) Reference external web sites from inside your paragraphs. Links written in context are very useful and will be seen as helping your reader.
8) Make it easy for people to share your pages. Consider adding social media sharing buttons to your pages.
9) Use images and videos. These improve interaction with your readers. Make sure you use good quality descriptive tags to this media.
10) Always use social media such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook to announce your pages and updates.
Today (5th February 2013) is Safer Internet Day. It is a day to take stock of how safe your actions online are for yourself and everyone around you. This is a worthwhile exercise it is very easy to cause harm without realising what you are doing. Here’s an example I came across earlier today. A burglary investigation yielded the probability that the victims had been targeted due to a Facebook event. The event was set to be visible to all and was a wedding. The list of wedding guests then became a list of empty homes ripe for burglary. Restricting the list to friends only – or just those invited would have prevented distressing robberies from happening.
I’d strongly recommend that anyone who uses the Internet take a look at the UK Safer Internet Centre. This is a repository of advice and research materials that are dedicated to helping you make full use of the Internet whilst remaining safe. If nothing else have a go at the Connect with Respect Quiz. Whilst the quiz is simple it does a great job of highlighting those things that think we know – but possibly do not.
The best way to make the Internet a safer place for everyone is if we all think about how we are using it – the Internet is inherently democratic – if we all work together to make it safer – it become safer
Websites perform better when they are frequently updated. Search engines see frequent updates as signs of vitality and continuity. Customers see updates as a positive thing; that your business is dynamic and doing well. However coming up with lots of new content and information for most small business web sites can be a difficult task. So here are 5 ideas that will help your web site seem new and fresh.
1. The Image refresh: Simply put just change some or all of the pictures. People are visual creatures and just updating photographs can really brighten up a web site for a minimum of effort. Good places to get photographs include iStockphoto, Fototlia and Flickr (but always obey the licensing terms).
2. Update your colour scheme. Simply updating some of site colours in terms of background colours, type colours, and menu colours makes an instant difference – again without having to come up with new material to put into your web site.
3. If you don’t have sharing buttons on your web site pages then add these. Sharing buttons simply allow your sites visitor to tell people on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ etc all about that page at a touch of a button. It is a simple update that adds more visual interest and can also improve how your website interacts with the larger Internet using community.
4. Consider a full theme redesign. This does not change the content of your web site – but does change how the pages are laid out, look and feel. It makes your web site look brand new – but all you have done is alter the look and not written any new information for it.
5. If you use social media such as Twitter, Facebook consider adding a system that shows your latest updates on your web site. This adds an area that automatically updates itself and contains your thoughts and ideas. If you are already writing useful posts for social media to help promote your business then bring them in and make better use of these updates.
If you run a small business I just want you to spend a moment taking a look at this short article on the IT Donut Web Site.
My apologies for the long link – but all you need to do is click.
It cites recent research that highlights two problems.
- Micro and small business typically have 5 unchanging pages on their web site that do not represent the company.
- Most people would not do business with a company that has an out of date or hard to use web site.
The solution to this problem is to get a managed web site and to make frequent updates.
This is traditionally seen as being very expensive and out of the reach of a small business.
This is actually not necessarily true. There are some very cost effective methods of achieving this.
Here are 3 steps that would help solve the problem of an out of date website.
Update your web site to being content managed using an open source content management system. This removes software costs from the equation whilst still delivering you a high quality experience.
Put time aside to think about news information that your customers will find interesting. Write these down ready for inclusion on your web site. The same is also true for any information about your company or products. By clearly writing these down you are saving money and time with a web developer
Find a friendly freelance web site developer who is willing to make updates for you for a low fee based on your notes.
The key to solving the problem of a bad web site is to keep things current. It is something that sounds impossible – but is actually not to bad once you get a good working practice going.
For a long time Microsoft Hotmail has had access to a raft of potentially useful services for business. These have in the main gone unnoticed. This is not too big a surprise – mostly these have felt more like a random connection of tools that didn’t quite work rather than a solid system that could be good for business.
That is now changing. The imminent launch of Windows 8 and the following launch of Office 2013 will put Microsoft’s online services centre stage and under greater use and scrutiny than ever before. Fortunately Microsoft is setting up to the mark and part of this is Outlook.com
Outlook.com is the re-imagining of Microsoft Live and Hotmail into a single strong system that could be used for business.
Here are some they key items you might want to consider
Outlook.com looks simpler, runs quickly and is certainly neater and easier to use than it’s predecessor. Sure this is mostly cosmetic, but if cosmetic makes it easier to work then is that so bad? Also the design is centred along making access to the rest of the system easier to access and use.
If you use the services at https://domains.live.com/ you can create an email, data sharing and calendar system that works under your domain name and can support up to 500 users. The service can be branded to match your company. You can build an information management system for your company that works effectively. The cost of this is free. This now makes it an incredibly cost efficient solution for building a cloud based management system on.
Skydrive now gives each user 7GB of storage. This can used to synchronise data off to and from every PC using the Skydrive App. Access your work from more than computer becomes easy and flexible.
The new generation of Office Web Apps give you first class office applications via a browser. These are enough for all basic office tasks. Using these in a situation that does not depend on the full MS Office functionality can be a huge cost saving. If you do use MS Office heavily – well these integrate to the full versions of MS Office – allowing you to choose your preferred tool. Being able to freely choose what suits you and your business is incredibly powerful.
These are 4 good reasons to consider Outlook.com.
Due to all the changes that Microsoft is making over the next few months there are bound to some changes.
Outlook.com could be perfect for you, but you should also look at the revised Office 365. You’ll need to decide which in the long run is better for you.
What I will do is illustrate these changes and services as they come in – enabling you to make a good decision, but for now I must say that Outlook.com looks compelling.