Can Bad Web Design Hurt Your Company’s Credibility?

Sometimes small businesses forget that the aesthetics of their brand’s website can impact perception of their business.

We hate ugly websites – and so should you. We realize that we have a particular bias as a result of what we do so we’re sure that is to be expected. Nothing makes us cringe more than the sight of an ugly website and friends love to show them to me just to see my reaction.

But have you ever really thought about how design affects your credibility as businesses? Do ugly websites hurt business? Do people really laugh at your website? Sure you saved a few dollars hiring that “cheap website” company but is it costing you customers and profits? Turns out, the answer is yes.

Studies have been done on this topic, including one from Stanford University. These studies show that there are a number of design factors that influence how your visitors perceive your organization after visiting your website.

1) “Real-world” aspects of your organization. Do you list your physical address? Do you display professional photos of your key team members? In short, does your website reflect the legitimacy of your organization? If so, how long has it been since you’ve updated your site? Are your key team members still employed at your business? Are you still at that location? Any inaccuracies can also damage your credibility.

2) Ease of use. A website that is difficult to use damages the credibility of your organization because it gives the appearance you don’t care enough to present a logical, well-designed navigation. If you don’t care about your information infrastructure – how much do you care about your customers?

3) Markers of expertise. Your company website is an opportunity to display credentials and examples of your expertise. Take advantage of this and increase your credibility through case studies and credentials. Make yourself the “experts”.

4) Markers of trustworthiness. Studies have found that visitors responded more positively to websites that presented content in a transparent and unbiased fashion. By contrast, websites that crossed the line into being too promotional resulted in decreased levels of trust in visitors. Be honest and factual when presenting your online image to increase trust. Let your work do the talking. Don’t be a used car salesman.

5) Tailor the user experience. If your site allows customers to log in, give them access to specific data that is relevant to them. Additionally, allow your website visitors to easily find data relevant to their specific needs or markets.

6) Avoid over-promoting or over-advertising. Advertising elements can sometimes be very effective when implemented tastefully. Avoid the trap that many newspaper websites fall into when they plaster ads all over their home pages. Too much advertising damages credibility. Yes, I said it.

7) Pay attention to design details. YES, design matters. Even small glitches like a broken link or misspelled word can damage credibility. Additionally, avoid outdated, amateur design. A professional design goes a long way toward legitimizing your organization and can make the difference between a transaction and a lost customer.

Relationships matter and relationships are built on trust. Ultimately, credibility is a significant factor in your bottom line because trust must exist for a sale or a transaction to take place. Ask yourself “does your website design inspire trust?

Don’t have an ugly website – hire a professional.

Posted in Web

Yes, You Need A Responsive Website

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design websites adapt to fit the screen size of the user’s device. Instead of developing individual websites for the desktop, smartphone and tablet, responsive design provides the opportunity to have a single web property to manage that automatically adjusts based on the viewer’s device. This will save you money, make your life easier and give your visitors the best possible experience.

Why Do I Need It?

Did you know that up to 46% of consumers rely solely on a tablet or mobile device while conducting research on the path to making a purchase? Did you know that up to 79% of mobile users that arrive on a website that is not mobile optimized will leave immediately? If your website isn’t prepared to give users a great experience on every device you could be missing out on valuable business opportunities. A stunning 61% of local searches on mobile phones lead to an instant phone call. Additionally, mobile phone coupons are redeemed 10 times more often than conventional coupons.

Not Convinced? Here’s More 10 Reasons:

  1. Google’s stance on recommended mobile configuration has always been Responsive Web Design. Because Google owns 67% market share in search, designing a website to correlate with Google’s standards is a good idea.
  2. Responsive Website Design delivers an excellent user-experience across numerous devices and screen sizes. Since it’s exceedingly difficult to foresee all the diverse devices and screen sizes that visitors to your business website use, creating a responsive website design is critical. A website that functions optimally irrespective of these variables provides a more consistent and superior user-experience when compared to a separate mobile website that’s created for a particular device and screen size.
  3. Mobile devices certainly present a great deal of flexibility and handiness – especially when it comes to on-the-go search for swift access to information. The escalation in Smartphone and tablet use in the Mid-Ohio Valley has led to a rapid decline in desktop internet browsing.
  4. You’ve got nothing to lose. At present, over 70% of small business websites in the Mid-Ohio Valley aren’t mobile-friendly. Their customers find it challenging to research and make purchases using mobile devices. Additionally, almost 90% of the small business websites do not facilitate easy viewing on the iPad. Nevertheless, small businesses can gain a competitive edge by taking the mobile challenge head-on.
  5. The dramatic growth of mCommerce (mobile commerce) in the last 5 years (over 5000% according to Capgemini & IMRG report) has prompted small businesses to revamp their business websites. You must not delay remodelling your business website to capitalise on this exponential rise in mCommerce. This growth stems from an increasing number of people are opting for online purchases to save money, energy and time that making the trip to a retail store takes.
  6. Regardless of the purpose of your business website – whether it’s for providing information or for eCommerce – a mobile unfriendly website has a detrimental effect on mobile customers. If your business website is mobile unfriendly, over 60% of mobile users will be discouraged greatly and may desist from engaging with your business enterprise in the future.
  7. Regardless of the industry your business belongs to, you must always strive to be innovative rather than getting stuck in imitating your competitors. Almost two thirds of medium size enterprises have already remodelled their business websites to boost their online sales. Nevertheless, in the small-size segment, only 20% have opted for mobile-friendly websites.
  8. A mobile business website is indispensable for your social media campaigns: A mobile business website works optimally with your search, as well as, your social media campaigns. Since many of your potential customers use a Smartphone or tablet to locate your enterprise, Google spiders show a higher affinity for mobile-ready websites. Besides, numerous apps can direct visitors from your mobile site to your enterprise’s social profiles.
  9. Your customers want it. Businesses that delay launching a mobile-friendly version of their business website will lose customers and revenue. More importantly, these enterprises will be overtaken by their competitors who have decided to follow the trend.
  10. Getting a mobile website for your business need not be expensive. As with all sophisticated technology, mobile website design and upkeep carried an exorbitant price when it was newly introduced. Nevertheless, you can fashion a mobile variant of your existing business website or even opt for a fresh Responsive Web Design without denting your marketing budget. (InSilico can help!)

Once your new website is completed, we can continue to manage it and make updates, or you can have it come equipped with a content management system that will allow you to make changes quickly and easily.

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Posted in Web

Is Yellow Pages advertising really worth it?

A question we get asked often is “Is Yellow Pages online worth it?” This is a question I will answer over the course of this blog post.

InSilico Media Group’s goal is to provide individuals with honest feedback to make their website design and marketing contracting decisions easier.

We all know the phone book is dead. But that isn’t stopping Yellow Pages.

Nope. They’re working their way into the online world. Many people often wonder, “Is Yellow Pages online worth it?” The answer is based off the experiences auditing a few of our current clients websites who switched from Yellow Pages online to work with us. A few of our current clients have switched over from Yellow Pages online services once their contracts ended.

In today’s blog, we’ll break down each of their services and give you a review of the work they do with a thorough discussion a few of the “red flag” items we see wrong with their current processes, per the contract copies and proposal copies we’ve been given through clients.

They Have Contracts With No Guarantees of Services
Offering contracts is fine. But not offering a guarantee on services along with a contract is a no-win situation for the client. They also do not offer an “opt out” guarantee, meaning clients are locked into a contract that may simply be a waste of money, with no assurance they can get out of the contract if they are unsatisfied. We offer a “90 day opt out” clause in our contract. Simply put, if you’re unhappy and express you’re unhappy, we request a “90 day notice” to either 1) make you happy, or 2) shake hands and walk away as friends.
We believe lock-in contracts are a thing of the past. Especially ones with no guarantees.

They Use Scare Tactics
Yellow Pages aren’t scammers but they will use scare tactics. A new client who was in talks with Yellow Pages was warned/threatened that his website would not be found on the internet. The only thing that happens when you don’t use Yellow Pages online is your online listing in their directory for your product or services doesn’t rank high on their directory. That’s because they reserve the top spots in their directory listings for their paying clients.

Here’s an example: The listings in the red box are sponsored. Just like in the Google search results, ads are at the top which is fine. If you choose not to use Yellow Pages online services, your website simply won’t appear at the top of their local directory listings. Our clients businesses and websites are listed in their respective Yellow Pages directory without paying for their service. The listings are simply not at the top.
Having the name, address and phone number of your business consistently listed across the internet is very important for local SEO and how to rank your Google Places/My business page. But it’s not as if people head straight to the Yellow Pages and conduct a search. So are you really missing out on much?
Chances are good that the vast majority of people search for a local business in a search engine, usually Google.
So if Yellow Pages says your website will disappear or it won’t be found in the internet, it’s a pile of crap. Millions of websites are found on the internet that don’t use Yellow Pages online service.

Yellow Pages SEO Review

Back in June we received an email from a client who was unhappy with Yellow Pages search engine optimization efforts. He had been with them for almost a year and not seeing the results he was hoping for. His rankings were not that great. As a roofing contractor, he was in a heavily competitive market for his services. But given the amount of time they had been working on his SEO, surely they would be able to get him into the first page for at least one of his targeted keywords.

During our initial analysis here are the issues we came across:

Lack Of Content
The main page of the website had about 100 words of text. That’s not enough this day in age. Your main page has to have at least 300 words of text. There was also a lack of pages on the website. The more pages you have with relevant and useful content, the better your chances of search engines ranking your website high.

Search engines main goal is to provide the searcher with relevant websites. By relevant I mean websites that have lots of content that helps educate people. The more useful and relevant pages you have on your website, the longer visitors stay on your site. This means they’ll spend less time on your competitors. So your site should aim to educate visitors. You can do that by creating various webpages that answer clients’ questions you get asked face to face.

No Optimization
The main page has to be optimized. The Yellow Pages had added in the meta title, keywords and description. But they missed the optimization of search engine optimization. They failed to add any painting keywords/search terms to the main page of the content. Optimizing the main page title has not been enough since 2014.

SEO Summary
Overall we simply say that not enough maintenance work was being done in regards to the SEO of the clients website. SEO is an ongoing process for many websites. From adding properly optimized content to getting more high quality backlinks, these things take time.

Yellow Pages Online Advertising/Adwords Review
Another one of our clients had been with Yellow Pages for over a year. They were managing this clients’ Google Adwords campaigns.

No Access/Sparse Reports
With one of our clients, I asked the client if I could see some reports. Both handed me over a few pages of reports. They were very sparse and provided him with only how much he was paying per month.

The client did not have access to their dashboard to review their reports. They didn’t setup the Adwords campaign to include the business owner. At the end of the day, you the business owner, need to have dashboard access to Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google My Business/Places and Adwords. It’s your business and you should be able to see all this data. This allows you to have full access to this very important data to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Here is the issue with having no access and sparse reports sent to you, it’s your data!

High CPC
To get your business listed in the top three spots of the ads section of the search results, Yellow Pages will outbid your competitors and drive up your cost per click in the process. Often times, a business does not need to aggressively bid on every keyword to be on the top. Yellow Pages fails to go over an initial profitability review with their clients, focusing on the services/products that have the highest return on investment and bidding more aggressively on those keywords.

Based on what our clients were paying, I personally don’t think it’s worth it for many of the reasons I pointed out. The biggest concern for me is a lack of SEO knowledge from Yellow Pages staff and poor customer service. They seem be operating on SEO and Adwords principles from years ago.

With SEO and Adwords, search engines are changing algorithms and such weekly. Many internet marketing companies, such as InSilico Media Group, are always reading up and staying educated on the latest trends and changes. This is an area I don’t see Yellow Pages online marketers doing based on our audits of websites they are working on.

If you are looking for online marketing services from a company other than Yellow Pages, contact us and we’d be happy to see what we can do for you.

Typical Disadvantages of Yellow Pages Websites

Before the Internet, Yellow Pages or Yellow Book was a great way to advertise and promote your business via the Yellow Pages Book. When the Internet came along, Yellow Pages realized that they were in trouble as everyone was and still is going to Google for their searches, they needed to come up with a solution, so Yellow Pages was replaced by Yellow Book or Yellow Pages Websites.

This is Not-Good for you if you are looking for a quality built and owned website. Let me explain below:

Website Ownership: Did you know that you do not own a Yellow Pages website. You rent it from them! You pay a yearly rental to Yellow Pages and if you leave Yellow Pages for any reason, you loose your website.  If you think of your website as a virtual office space, imagine once you were done renting your office and wanted to move to a new location and not being able to take your files, furniture, or decorations.

Domain Name Ownership: Your domain name is one of the most important parts of owning a website on the Internet. It is your business name on the Internet. Did you know that you do not own your Domain name if you use Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages Company owns the domain name and they rent it do you. It costs you more money to rent the domain name from Yellow Pages then if you were to purchase and own the domain name yourself.  We had a customer that was distressed to find out that after he left Yellow Pages that he could not own his own domain name until the contract was up. He would also have to pay extra to have the domain name transferred to him. Yellow Pages wants their money even if you are no longer with them. It becomes a legal issue with them so be careful.

You Keep Paying and Paying: Renting a website from Yellow Pages means that you have to pay for the initial build of the template website. You also have to pay for hosting which is normal but you also have to pay a yearly rental on top of the hosting fee to Yellow Pages to ensure that you stay in the program, otherwise your rental website is taken down. This is very expensive as you your are paying higher cost for only Yellow Pages results.

Website Design: Yellow Pages uses mass produced templates to build your website. There is no one-of-kind website for you, no originality. The design of the website is secondary to the advertisement. What’s this mean to you? The websites are not very becoming, they are unattractive and do not have your company’s best interest in mind when building the website. It is all smoke and mirrors. They have a one-size-fits-all mentality for every business, whether you’re a lawyer, HVAC company, or retail store. What’s worse, your website will look extremely similar to your competitor’s website, offering no ability to leverage the unique aspects of your business over your competitors.

WC3 Compliant: Yellow Pages websites are not WC3 Compliant. Simply put, if you want to be found by the search engines, you website has to be built correctly. Therefore, it has to be built WC3 compliant. Yellow Pages websites are not WC3 compliant and you can not expect any results from the major search engines.

Content: Managing the content of your website is very difficult. It does not allow for much content to be refreshed and this make it difficult for you to keep your website updated on a regular basis. With the current Search Engine Optimization Rules (SEO), you will receive very poor search engine results thereby making this a very ineffective way to promote your business.

New Business from your Website?: Since your website is not WC3 Compliant, not very attractive and not SEO friendly and build with a mass produced template, you can not expect to bring in any new business. You will also not be expected to retain any customer with this kind of ineffective website design.

Social Media Integration & Marketing: Websites like Facebook and Twitter are great way to market and promote your business website. It is not possible to use these social services correctly with Yellow Pages. They do not let you steam data back from the social media websites to your Yellow Pages website.

Customer Support: Customer support is the best way to keep your customer’s happy and to share with them all your new offerings. With a Yellow Pages website, this is nearly impossible and will result in a loss of business and and higher cost to you.
Based on what I have seen from competitive bids given to me from clients over last few months, I personally don’t think it’s worth it to hire Yellow Pages for many of the reasons I pointed out. The biggest concern for me is a lack of website design and development knowledge from Yellow Pages staff and poor customer service because they appear to be utilizing tactics from a few years ago.

If you are looking for website services from a company other than Yellow Pages, contact us and we’d be happy to see what we can do for you.

Posted in Web