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[ February 8, 2020 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

ULTIMATE WEB DESIGN CHECKLIST – 128 TASKS TO CREATE AN AMAZING WEBSITE

3sixt5.co.za/the-ultimate-web-design-checklist-things-to-do-when-launching-a-website

Following our awesome list of 101 tools for web designers and developers, it was time for actually figuring out every step needed to get a web design project done – from start to finish. So here it is – the ultimate checklist for the web designer/freelancer/agency starting a web design project. We’ve covered all the steps you need to do, from the technical and development focused, to those involving client meetings, designers, copy-writing, and everything else in between.

What have we missed? We’d love to hear your opinion!

Hey web designer + creativehuman! Need a live web design checklist?

Have you heard about 3SixT5 Design?!

It’s a tool to help web designers and creatives manage their design projects by keeping track of all tasks which you’ll need to do to get a website launched or a design project completed.

Check out 3SixT5 Now (FREE!) and see whether we can help you out!

Not sure about 3SixT5 yet? – let’s just show you the list of tasks you’d expect to find within a 3SixT5 web design project and see whether you like it a bit more…

Stage 0 – Project Start – Preparation

Is web design only about design? Not really! Although most of us love the creative part of designing and developing a website, there are quite a few things we need to do before we actually get to that. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty – we’ll need to lay the groundwork and set a few rules.

1. Setup first meetings(s) with client

2. Define and collect briefing document from client

3. Define and send project questionnaire to the client and wait for the client’s response. Iterate on doubts you have until everybody is in agreement. Finalize project questionnaire from client

4. Research client’s company to understand their brand, the way they communicate, their demographics, target audience

5. Research client’s industry to find ways of communicating specifically to the industry, strengths and weaknesses, trends and other industry specifics

6. Get quotation(s) for development effort for project

7. Get quotations(s) for design or estimate design work with your own designers

8. Get quotation(s) for copy/content or estimate work with your copywriters

9. Get quotation(s) for photography / video production or estimate effort involved

10. Get quotation(s) for Hosting / Domain, particularly if specialized hosting is involved such as VPS hosting, cloud hosting, or special hosting or environment requirements

11. Prepare and send a great web design proposal to client – use the web design quotation tool to send an itemized quotation

12. Get approval from client of proposal and features to be implemented

13. Create the Project Acceptance Form, and propose timeline with milestones

14. Send Project Acceptance Form, with timelines to client and wait for client signoff

Once we’ve agreed with the client on the definition of the new website project, we start doing the dirty work. Developers, designers, copywriters, beautiful photography or stock imagery, privacy policies and legal texts, you’ve got lots of stuff to set in motion when you kick off the project. If you’re still not sure which developers you’re going to work with, there are plenty of things to take into consideration when finding WordPress developers for hire.

 

Stage 1 – Project Kick off

15. Kick-off email to developers, designers, and other stakeholders

16. Create sitemap of website with proposed sections, pages

17. Research and buy template used as a basis for design

18. Create wireframe of specific pages which require custom designs

19. Allocate time and effort for a designer to create the wireframes based on the estimates sent to the client and brief designers on wireframe designs.

20. Allocate time and effort for content creation/copy

21. Research, buy and tweak stock images or find free images you can use

22. Allocate time and effort for photography (based on estimates sent to client)

23. Allocate time and effort for video productions (based on estimates sent to client)

24. Define privacy policy and other legal text required for website

25. Send design(s) to client for approval and wait for approval from client

26. Get designers to perform any required design changes

27. Send designs to web developers including template, together with designs, for start of research and development

28. Send specifications and updates to client and wait for client sign off

Once the designs have been completed and you’ve set the stage for what you want the final result to be like, it’s time to start developing. Besides the developers per se, you’ve also got to set the environment, ensure the domain is in place and set up correctly, create databases and ensure the production environments are ready.

How are you managing with your web design projects?

If you’re like us – we’re always concerned we might miss that small but crucial step, or that we ‘re falling behind on our schedule.

Stage 2 – Development

29. Send finalized designs to developers

30. Allocate development checklists to the various developers

31. Agree with all developers + client on a date for Alpha

32. Reach out to content creators and ensure they are on target

 

Stage 2.1 – Set up Hosting Account

33. Ensure you’ve bought hosting or created a hosting space for your website

34. Create new database(s), and database users as necessary if you are using a CMS, or a website which requires a database

35. Upload the website source files

36. Install / configure the CMS to use the database you have created

37. If your website has been created already and you need to migrate it, export the database from the testing/staging server and import it to the production server

38. Change the nameservers of the domain you will be using to the nameservers of the hosting server you will be using

Stage 2.2 – Set Up Website Content

39. Create the website site map and structure you had defined with the client via your favourite CMS or the framework / technology you have chosen to develop your website

40. Collect all content from the various content creators you have outsourced

41. Quality assure each piece of content you have outsourced or bought – and ask for changes where necessary

42. Populate the website content with the various content items you have agreed with the client

43. Define a Contact Us page with correct client details and a map

44. Populate links / icongraphy with links to relevant social media details

45. Create a link to your website in the footer (if agreed with client to do this)

46. Send current iteration to client and request feedback

47. Fix and change any requests by client

48. Send updates to client and wait for client sign-off

There is nothing more important than ensuring the developed product is fit for purpose through several types of quality assurance. After all this is what will keep your clients coming back for more. An eye for detail here will ensure you will keep getting recommendations and repeat business. Most of all, the things which might not be immediately apparent, but make a significant difference, need to be given due importance.

Besides providing the required functionality, ensure the website you are designing is fast, maintainable, provides an optimal User Experience free from errors and glitches, and make sure it is fully responsive on various types of devices.

Are you able manage all project interactions in one place?

There’s typically a lot of people involved in a web design project. You. The client. The devs. The designers. And anybody who has been commissioned to provide bits and pieces of the project.

Keeping them all in sync is a bit of a hassle unless you’ve got the right tool to do so. That’s why we run each project with a website design checklist – to make sure we don’t forget any step. 3SixT5 does all of this – as a service which can be accessed by all your team members.

With 3SixT5 – everybody logs in to the same project and keeps everybody else updated with what’s going on with their part of the project.

Stage 3 – Quality Assurance

Stage 3.1 – Code Quality

49. Validate HTML using W3C HTML Validator, or your preferred Browser extension such as Validity Chrome Extension, or Html Validator plugin for FireFox

50. Validate CSS using this CSS Validator, Validity for Chrome, or Html Validator

51. Lint your CSS to make it better

52. Use JSLint and JSHint to make your JavaScript better

53. Check whether your website is internationalization ready here

54. Ask for changes from developers based on the results of the above tests

Stage 3.2 – Page Content

55. Make sure web copywriting has been proofread and ran through a spelling and grammar checker to check for correctness. Use online tools such as Reverso, or Spellcheckplus.com

56. Check that generic content, such as lorem ipsum, has been properly removed and replaced.

57. See that all images are in the correct places, smushed, formatted, width and height specified and working on all devices.

58. Confirm that videos and audio files are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.

59. Test all linked content, such as case studies, ebooks, and whitepapers, and verify that they are correctly linked.

60. Test to see that all internal links across web pages are working properly

Stage 3.3 – Optimized User Experience

 

61. Ensure that Contact Us and other forms are submitting data properly. If the form is sent to an email address ensure that email is received on a mailbox that is monitored, or ensure that content is correctly stored in your database.

62. Verify the Thank-you message or page displayed after form is submitted

63. Check that Auto-responders are working properly and text in emails has been proofed

64. External links across web pages are working properly, and open in a new tab (Fix any broken links using this tool)

65. Ensure that Social media share icons are working properly – that there is a good image for sharing and that the description for sharing is appropriate.

66. Correct your metadata as necessary to ensure social media sharing is working ok.

67. Use the Facebook linter to ensure your Facebook sharing will work well

68. Implement Twitter Cards and confirm it works well on the Preview tool

69. Ensure that company logo is linked to the homepage.

70. Check that load time for site pages is optimized (confirm with multiple sources) such as GTMetrix and Pingdom tools. If not – do the following steps to make your WordPress website load faster

71. Try a non-existing address on your page to check the 404 page and 404 redirect pages are in place

72. Integrations with third-party tools, such as your CRM, e-commerce software, and/or marketing platform should be tested to ensure they are running smoothly

73. Choose www vs no-www and make sure that ONLY one of them is working to ensure you don’t get penalized for duplicate content. After choosing one, make sure one redirects to the other.

74. Check on multiple browsers using browsershots or browserling

Stage 3.4 – Responsive and Mobile Friendly

75. Make sure you are using the viewport meta tag: <meta name=”viewport” content=”initial-scale=1″>

76. Check that your website is mobile-friendly with at least a MobileOk score of 75 and Google sees your page as Mobile-Friendly.. You should have fixed most of the Google Mobile Insights problems here

77. Use correct input types for email, phone and URL input form fields to ensure these are rendered correctly on mobile phones

78. Check how the site looks on emulators such as ipads, screenfly, mobilephonesimulator.

79. Test the site using real devices you have accessible to you or use opendevicelab.com

80. Send the finished site to your client and get feedback

81. Fix and change any requests by client

82. Send updates to client and wait for client sign-off

Once you’re happy with the site you have developed you can start thinking about the Launch process and of course how to get the maximum value out of the launched site. There are many tools out there to help you reap maximum benefit for yourself and for your clients.

Besides actually monitoring your site, make sure you’ve thought well about Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Although this is an ongoing process, you need to ensure you’ve got the basic set up right.

Also remember – a fast website is a pleasant website. Make sure your site has been optimized for performance.

Social – if you do it right, Social traffic will be the best source of traffic for your website. Spend enough time on it to get it right the first time.

Are you sure you’ve ironed out all the kinks?

 

The few days of testing before a website launch is always a bit hectic (at least it used to be for us). So many small things to change and test and confirm and re-confirm. Sometimes we sort of lose track of what’s done and what isn’t.

We believe we’re not alone. However, we’ve now made a major step forward and fixed many of our communication problems with a simple, easy to use tool which has given us lots of peace of mind.

You won’t magically improve your memory and start remembering things you’ll need to do – but if you just list them down together with our pre-defined list of tasks, we’ll take that load off you and keep them safe for you in 3SixT5 until you’ve sorted them all out.

Stage 4 – Launch

Stage 4.1 – Analytics

83. Register and verify site with Google WebMasters aka Google Search Console

84. Create a new property and implement Google Analytics code.

85. Make sure you link Google WebMasters and Google Analytics to be able to get better insights from within Google Analytics

86. Exclude relevant IP addresses (such as office IP) from analytics tracking to ensure your own company’s and the client’s company do not inflate their website hits

87. Set up any funnels, goals or tracking events which have been properly created in your analytics software

88. Implement visitor tracking software such as HotJar, CrazyEgg, or Optimizely

89. Implement any site uptime monitor such as Pingdom

90. Implement a website backup service as necessary

91. Sign-off the deliverables and invoice your client 🙂

Stage 4.2 – Search Engine Optimization

92. Check that all pages have unique page titles (with a recommended length of fewer than 70 characters, including any keywords).

93. Check that all pages have unique meta descriptions (with a recommended length of fewer than 156 characters, including keywords) – the meta description should be human-friendly – not optimized for search engines. Think about it this way: “If you wanted to use 156 characters to describe exactly what that article contains, what would you say?”

94. Verify that pages have your chosen keywords included without any keyword stuffing (do not over-emphasize particular keywords)

95. See that all pages have metadata which is properly in place (with correct spelling and grammar) for any content which you want to be shared via Social

96. Ensure that relevant Alt tags have been added to every image.

97. Make sure that a dynamic XML sitemap (which gets updated with every post you make) has been created and verify that the XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines via Google WebMasters.

98. Ensure that Google is able to read it correctly.

99. Submit to Bing and possibly Yandex WebMasters too.

100. See that all page URLs consistently reflect site information architecture.

101. If you have had another older website, make sure you have 301 redirects in place for all old URLs (redirecting old pages to new ones).

102. Where necessary ensure that rel=”nofollow” tags are in place on applicable links and pages.

103. Use schema creator to insert Microdata into your pages (or tag your content in google WebMasters Data Highlighter)

104. Check the semantics of your site using this

For more tips, check out our SEO post!

Stage 4.3 – Speed and Performance

105. Try to get a PageSpeed score of 90+ – this PageSpeed Insights guide from Kinsta will surely help.

106. Minify your javascript

107. Minify your CSS

108. Add Expires Header – Leverage browser caching to ensure that files which don’t change often are fetched from the browser cache rather than downloaded again

109. Ensure a Yslow score of 85+

110. Optimize the size of images using Y! Smush.It and replace the existing images with the optimized images

111. Specify image dimensions for each image

112. Enable gzip compression on your hosting server

113. Ensure there are no bad requests, such as missing images or files

114. Combine images using CSS Sprites (use SpriteMe.org to help you generate the sprite image)

115. Reduce the number of HTTP requests by combining the CSS and JS files into as few files as possible

Stage 4.4 – Usability

116. Check for HTML5 compatibility using modern.ie, modernizr, and Compat Inspector

117. Create a Favicon generator for each platform here

118. Enable user and search engine friendly URLs

119. Set up a print stylesheet

Stage 4.5 – Social Media

120. Check Facebook Audience Insights to see how people are interacting with your website on Facebook

(Update: Facebook is no longer accepting Facebook Domain Insights applications)

121. Link your website to your Google+ Brand page via instructions found here

122. Add humans.txt

123. Create new cover images for other Social Media you use such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn company page, Pinterest, Instagram or others as necessary

client feedback wed design

124. Send the finished site to your client and get feedback

125. Fix and change any requests by client

126. Give access to client to all accounts created on their behalf

127. Send updates to client and wait for client sign-off

128. Close project

Want to download the website design checklist?

You might want to file away a copy of the checklist, for your next website launch. Download it from here.

If you always have that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you’ve missed out on something – we’ve got a way for you to rest easy. 3SixT5 Design helps you keep track of all you need to do for your next web design project – the good thing is that it takes minutes to set up your next project because we’ve added task templates for you already.

Congratulations! Your project is now done, give yourself a pat on the back – you earned it! For more tips and tricks check out our 101 Tools for Web Designers! 

BlogDigitalseoStartupWebsiteWorkshop
[ February 5, 2020 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

Complete SEO questionnaire

Whenever starting out on your SEO prospecting journey you will inevitably come to the client discovery stage. Although it may seem like a cumbersome process to force your client to go through, in the long run it will become your best friend in qualifying your clients and saving you time and money. It should help you clearly understand your clients needs, goals, and expectations. The thoroughness of your SEO questionnaire should also highlight your knowledge and professionalism. This is the questionnaire that we use internally for our Cincinnati SEO company.

Our SEO questionnaire is broken down into several parts. It starts off by collecting some general company background and technical aspects of the SEO project. Afterwards, we ask for specific client content requirements and expectations. We finish up by exploring other opportunities that can help the client achieve their online goals.Table Of Contents

GENERAL INFORMATION

Fill out our SEO Questionnaire

1. What Is The Name Of Your Company?

For legal reasons, it is important to know if the company operates as an LLC, Corp, Inc, or under any DBAs (doing business as). Get this out of the way to save yourself and the client any problems in the future.

2. What Does Your Company Do?

Having the client describe their business can be very helpful in determining keywords to target and find any disconnects between marketing messaging and intentions. You will notice that this is a common theme in this SEO questionnaire.

3. What Sets You Apart From Others?

The unique value proposition (UVP) or unique selling proposition (USP) is something that every business should be using to differentiate themselves from the competition. Knowing this up front can set a clear tone for the marketing content.

4. What Is Your Target Demographic?

By knowing the ideal customer that the client wants to target, we are able to set up our Google Analytics tracking to see if we are achieving their goals.

5. Who Are Your Main Competitors?

This information collected with this SEO questionnaire can be very useful in the competitor research stage. It can tell us how competitive the clients niche is. It can also let us create backlink profiles for some competition to see the amount of work that lays ahead.

6. Is Your Business Online Only?

Online-only companies include SaaS, eCommerce, and digital goods and services. Settings up SEO campaigns for these business types will be very different then local clients.

7. Do You Interact With Local Customers?

If the business operates locally then there are many low-hanging fruit that can be used for link building. This also impacts things like schema implementation and on-page optimization for local terms.

8. Do You Have Multiple Locations?

Multi-location customers like chains and franchises can benefit greatly from local SEO. An extra emphasis has to be placed on site architecture.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

9. Have You Worked With An SEO Company Before? (And Did They Have You Fill Out An SEO Questionnaire Like This?)

If the client has worked with other SEO companies, its valuable to know what work they have done in the past. There is a chance that they have already filled out some version of an SEO questionnaire in the past that they could provide. If the on-site optimization was done well then you could spend your time focusing on other things. On the other hand, if they failed to do this correctly then there rest of the work will suffer greatly. Also, this could tell you about metrics that may have been established previously. Knowing the target KPIs can greatly help at the start of the project.

10. Has Your Site Been Penalized By Google In The Past?

Another important piece of information to have before evaluating the clients website. If there were penalties in the past then it could take a lot more work to get them removed. It also signals potential underlying issues that may have not been addressed.

11. What Type Of CMS Does Your Website Currently Use?

Using a content management system such as WordPress greatly reduces the time necessary to set up all the on-site optimization. There are various SEO and caching plug-ins on the market that make it much more efficient to work on the site. Just as important, most of the current WordPress websites come mobile optimized.

12. Do You Have An In-House Developer Or Designer?

Certain technical aspects of SEO may require significant design or structural changes to the site. If the client has an in-house developer, it can greatly reduce the time it would take to implement these changes. It is important to have their contact info from the start. On the other hand, if the client does not have an employee in place then this can be an opportunity for a long-term maintenance plan.

13. Do You Have Access To Google Analytics, Adwords, And Search Console, And Are You Willing To Share It?

Google provides these tools for free and they are extremely valuable. They can help analyze traffic to the website, help in keyword research, and help track some keyword rankings. We implement these tools on all of our customers websites if they do not have them already. Having historical data is extremely helpful in showing results of all your marketing campaigns.

14. What Website Would You Like To Promote?

This question may seem obvious but some clients can have multiple brands, domains or product websites. Use this SEO questionnaire to get a clear understanding from the start.

15. Do You Own Other Domain Names?

If the client has multiple related domains then it may be helpful to combine your SEO efforts. Also, it is important to check that the other websites are not doing any harm to the main domain.

Backlinks are still the most important SEO factor when it comes to ranking a website for a specific keyword. If the client had previously had this done to their site, it is something that needs to be evaluated based on their current goals.

17. Which Keywords Would You Like To Focus On?

Some clients may know the high value keywords that matter to them. This will give you a great starting point when you start your own keyword research.

CONTENT REQUIREMENTS

18. Do You Have Any Content For The Website?

This portion of the SEO questionnaire should give you a general idea of potential content problems. If the client has an established website then most likely it has some copy and images on the site. The quality can vary greatly and may need to be tweaked or redone completely.

19. Has Your Content Been Optimized For SEO?

Just because the content exist does not mean that it is properly optimized for SEO purposes. Keywords may need to be added or removed, images may have to be compressed, or entire pages can end up being created all together.

20. Does Your Company Have Branding Guidelines?

This can include logos, color schemes, and fonts and are especially important to keep in mind when optimizing website images. Since images are not as easily editable as plain text, getting this right from the start is extremely important.

21. Do You Have A Desired Writing Style?

Another thing to consider is the tone that the website copy will take. Brands can have strict requirements for the tone they want to have for their site content.

BUDGET AND EXPECTATIONS

22. What Is Your Level Of Understanding When It Comes To SEO?

If the client has very limited understanding of SEO then it is crucial that the basic process is explained. Hopefully, this SEO questionnaire can help them to start considering the different aspects of SEO. You can’t ask someone to pay for a service when they don’t know what they are paying for and you certainly can’t ask them to appreciate the results either. Just as important, you can not set clear expectations if the person doesn’t understand the process.

23. Define Your Desired SEO Results And KPIs?

Goals always have to be put in place so that you know what you are striving for. Asking for KPIs will give you an opportunity to track them and present your results back to the client.

24. What Is The Desired Time-Frame For SEO Results?

Since many factors of SEO are beyond our control, it is imperative that realistic expectations are set from the start. If a client has set unrealistic results and an unrealistic time-frame to achieve them then this is a big red flag. Unless you are able to educate the client before taking on the project, you will have an uphill battle for the duration of your SEO relationship.

25. What Are Your Reporting Requirements?

Monthly reports are the industry standard but some clients may like to receive weekly or biweekly reports instead. This is the time to set clear expectations on the frequency of the reports.

26. What Is Your Monthly SEO Budget?

This may be the most important question when it comes to the scope of what can be achieved for the client and whether you can work with them at all. SEO is a long and time consuming process and requires a long-term commitment if you are serious about real results.

FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES

27. If Necessary, Are You Open To Website Redesign?

Sometimes a website may need to be updated to keep up with the times and sometimes it is almost mandatory. The user experience matters now more than before so if the website no longer looks trustworthy, behaves slowly, doesn’t work on mobile devices, or has other performance issues, then the only real solution is a complete design overhaul.

28. What Is Your Design Budget?

Unfortunately, many SEO clients don’t expect that they would need to redesign their website so they do not budget for it. This can make it nearly impossible to achieve great SEO results since it is difficult to get the website optimized. They may potentially have to spend a budget that is worth several months of SEO services to get the new website up to the latest standards. Hopefully, this SEO questionnaire helps them to reconsider.

29. Will You Need Us To Maintain And Update Site And How Often?

Once the site is up and running, the client needs to decide if they will take care of the updates, security, and site maintenance or if they need to outsource it. If the site requires frequent updates like price changes, schedule updates, media uploads or anything else then training an internal employee may be the best option.

30. What Is Your Maintenance Budget?

As previously mentioned, frequent site updates can get expensive so employee training may be the most cost-effective route to take. However, if the client wants basic site security, hosting, and updates, then this is something that can easily outsourced.

BlogBusinessDigitaldomaineCommerceHostingmarketingStartupWebsiteWorkshop
[ January 25, 2020 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

A Complete Guide To WordPress Multisite

WordPress Multisite is a popular feature of WordPress, which enables you to create and run multiple websites using the same WordPress installation on your server. In other words, you can manage several different WordPress websites from a single dashboard.

However, people are sometimes unsure of how to use this feature. This guide will help to clear up questions related to what WordPress Multisite is, who needs it, and how to install it.

Let’s start with the basics.

1. What Is WordPress Multisite?

WordPress Multisite is a feature that allows you to create and run multiple WordPress websites from a single WordPress dashboard. It was previously called WordPress Multi-User or WPMU. WordPress Multisite is not a new feature. It is an advanced feature on the WordPress platform that has been around since the launch of WordPress 3.0. You can use it for a variety of purposes, such as updating all of your websites with a single click or charging your subscribers to create a website on your Multisite network.

2. Key Features Of WordPress Multisite

WordPress Multisite comes with various unique features. For starters, you can run a network of blogs and websites from a single WordPress installation. It enables you to create a network of subdomains, like http://john.example.com, or directories, like http://www.example.com/john/. Alternatively, you can also have a separate domain for each website on the network. It is also easier to replicate functionality across a network of websites.

In WordPress Multisite, you can control the entire network as a Super Admin. As a regular website admin, you can control only one website on the network. As a Super Admin, you control the accessibility of users who want to create an account and set up WordPress blogs or websites of their own.

A Super Admin can install new themes and plugins, make them available to the websites on the network, and also customize the themes for all websites. Another feature is the ability to create websites and online shops intended for specific languages, regions, and currencies.

Both the Super Admin and the website admin can control content. While this control extends over the entire network for a Super Admin, the website admin has the right to choose which content from the main domain gets displayed on their respective website. Plugins are also under the control of a Super Admin. However, a website admin can activate and deactivate plugins on their website if required.

3. Who Should And Shouldn’t Use WordPress Multisite?

Although WordPress Multisite offers several features, it is not always the right choice. The main concern is that the websites on a Multisite network would share the same database. In other words, you can’t back up only a single website. That’s why all of the websites on a network must belong to the same principal domain.

Let me explain with an example. A university could use WordPress Multisite to build different websites for each department, for student and faculty member blogs, and for forums. Because the websites would share their database with the university’s main domain, they would be easier to manage on a Multisite network.

Likewise, banks and financial institutions with a national or global network of branches, digital publications with multiple content sections, government offices with multiple departments, hotel chains, stores with multiple outlets, e-commerce companies, and website design companies such as Wix could also use a Multisite network to their advantage.

However, a web designer couldn’t use Multisite to manage several unrelated client projects. If one of the clients decided to move their website elsewhere, it would be a problem because the website would be sharing its database with others on the network. Multisite makes it difficult to back up an individual website on the network. You would be better off using a single installation in this case.

4. Pros And Cons Of WordPress Multisite

Now that we know who should and shouldn’t use WordPress Multisite, let’s look at the technical pros and cons. You’ll need to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

PROS

  • The main advantage is the ability to manage multiple websites from a single dashboard. This is useful if you are running multiple websites managed by different teams under one parent domain, such as an e-commerce store with different country-specific sub-sites.
  • However, you can also assign a different admin to each website on your network.
  • With a single download, you can install and activate plugins and themes for all of the websites on your network.
  • You can also manage updates with a single master installation for all of the websites on your network.

CONS

  • Because all of the websites share the same network resources, they will all go down if the network goes down.
  • A sudden increase in traffic to one website will affect all others on the network. Unfortunately, beginners often find it difficult to manage traffic and server resources on a Multisite network.
  • Similarly, if one website gets hacked, the entire network will get compromised.
  • Not all WordPress plugins support a Multisite network.
  • Likewise, not all web hosting providers have the tools necessary to support a Multisite network.
  • If your hosting provider lacks the server requirements, you won’t be able to use the Multisite feature. For example, some hosting providers might not allow you to add a domain to the same hosting server. In that case, you might need to change or upgrade your hosting plan or change providers.

5. Requirements For WordPress Multisite

Knowing the technical pros and cons, you must have decided whether Multisite is the right option for you. If you are going to use it, you will need to meet a few technical requirements first.

One of the first things you will need is a web hosting service provider that can handle multiple domains in a single web hosting plan. Although you could use shared hosting for a couple of websites with low traffic, you should use VPS hosting or a dedicated server, owing to the nature of the WordPress Multisite network.

You will also need to have the fundamental knowledge of how to install WordPress. It would be an added advantage if you already have a WordPress installation. However, you will need to back it up. You will also need to deactivate all of the plugins.

Make sure you have FTP access. You will need to know the basics of editing files using FTP as well. Finally, you will need to activate pretty permalinks. In other words, your URLs should look not like http://example.com/?p=2345, but like http://example.com/my-page.

6. Multisite Domain Mapping

By default, you can create additional websites on your Multisite network as subdomains or subfolders of the main website. They look like this:

subsite.network.com

or like this:

network.com/subsite

However, you might not always want this, because you will be required to create a unique domain name for each website. That’s where domain mapping comes to the rescue. You can use this feature within the Multisite network to map additional websites to show as domain.com. Using domain mapping, this is what you will see:

subsite.network.com = domain.com

or:

network.com/subsite = domain.com

Prior to WordPress 4.5, you had to use a domain mapping plugin to map the additional websites. However, in version 4.5+, domain mapping is a native feature.

7. Multisite Hosting And SSL

As you probably know, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) enables you to transport data over the internet securely. The data remains undecipherable to malicious users, bots, and hackers.

However, some hosting providers offer free SSL certification for the main domain only. You might need to buy it separately for each subdomain. If one of the websites on your multisite network lacks SSL certification, it will compromise the security of all the other websites. Thus, ensure that all websites on your WordPress Multisite network have SSL certificates.

8. Installing And Setting Up WordPress Multisite For New And Existing Websites

First, you will need to install WordPress. Once it’s installed, you will need to enable the Multisite feature. You can also enable it on your existing WordPress website. Before doing so, however, back up your website.

    • Use an FTP client or the cPanel file manager to connect with your website, and open the wp-config.php file for editing.
    • Add the following code to your wp-config.php file just before the /*:
/* Multisite */
define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );
  • Now, save and upload your wp-config.php file back to the server.
  • That’s all!

Next, you will need to set up the Multisite network. If you are already logged into your WordPress dashboard, refresh the page to continue with the next steps. If not, you will need to log in again.

    • When setting up the Multisite network on your existing website, you will need to deactivate all plugins. Go to the “Plugins” » “Installed Plugins” page, and select all plugins. Select the “Deactivate” option from the “Bulk Actions” dropdown menu, and click “Apply”.
How to Deactivate Plugin
Deactivate Plugin. (Large preview)
    • Now, go to “Tools” » “Network Setup”. If you see a notice that you need Apache’s mod_rewrite module installed on your server, don’t be alarmed. All leading WordPress hosting providers keep this module enabled.
How to Create a Network of WordPress Sites
Network Setup. (Large preview)
    • Choose the domain structure for websites on your network, either subdomains or subdirectories.
    • Add a title for your network.
    • Make sure that the email address for the network admin is correct.
    • Click the “Install” button.
    • You will see some code that you have to add to the wp-config.php and .htaccess files, respectively. Use an FTP client or the file manager in cPanel to copy and paste the code.
Add code to wp-config.php and .htaccess file
Complete Setup. (Large preview)

The set-up is complete. You will need to log in again to access your Multisite network.

9. WordPress Multisite Configuration And Other Settings

Hold on! You still need to configure the network settings, for which you will need to switch to the Multisite network dashboard.

  • Open the “My Sites” menu in the admin toolbar. Click the “Network Admin” option, and then click the “Dashboard” option to go to the Multisite network dashboard.
  • Click the “Settings” option in the admin sidebar. You will see your website’s title and the admin’s email address. Make sure they are correct before moving on to a few essential configuration settings.

A. REGISTRATION SETTINGS

This setting enables you to open your website to user registration and allows existing users to create new websites on your network. Check the appropriate box.

If you check the “Registration Notification” box, you will receive an email notification whenever a new user or website gets registered. Check the “Add New Users” option to enable individual website administrators to add new users to their own websites.

Use the “Limited Email Registration” option to restrict registration to a specific domain. For example, allow only users from your company to register with your website. Likewise, you can also prevent some domains from being registered.

How to Register New Sites
Registration Settings. (Large preview)

B. NEW WEBSITE’S SETTINGS

Here, you can configure the default options, such as welcome emails and the contents of the first default post, page, and comment, for every new website built on your Multisite network. You can update these settings anytime.

Make Settings For New site
New Site Settings. (Large preview)

C. UPLOAD SETTINGS

You can limit the total amount of space each website on your network can use for uploads. This will help you to delegate server resources judiciously. The default value is 100 MB. You can also set the type of files that users can add to their websites, such as images, .doc, .docx, and .odt files, audio and video files, and PDFs. You can also set a size limit for individual files.

Assign space for uploads of each site on your network
Upload Settings. (Large preview)

D. MENU SETTINGS

This setting enables the administrative menu for the plugins section of your network’s websites. Once you enable this setting, users will be able to activate and deactivate plugins, but won’t be able to add new ones. Click “Save Changes” to apply the changes you have made.

10. Resources: Setting Up Themes And Plugins

Because individual website administrators can’t install themes and plugins on their own, you will need them to set up on the network.

A. THEMES

Go to “My Sites” » “Network Admin” » “Themes”.

On this page, you will see a list of the themes currently installed. Use the following settings to make your desired changes.

  • “Network Enable”: Make the theme available to website administrators.
  • “Network Disable”: Disable a theme that you have previously made available.
  • “Add New”: Install a new theme on your network.

CHANGE A DEFAULT THEME

Add the following code to your wp-config.php file to change the default theme for new websites (replacing your-theme with the name of the theme’s folder):

// Setting default theme for new sites
define( 'WP_DEFAULT_THEME', 'your-theme' );

B. PLUGINS

Go to “My Sites” » “Network Admin” » “Plugins”.

Click the “Network Activate” option below each plugin to add it to your network. Remember that if you have already enabled the “Plugins Menu” option for website administrators in the “Network Settings”, then admins will not be able to delete or install new plugins. However, they will be able to activate and deactivate existing plugins.

11. How To Add A New Website To The Multisite Dashboard

Go to “My Sites” » “Network Admin” » “Sites”.

How to to enable Administrative Menu for Plugins Section
Add Sites. (Large preview)

Click the “Add New” button.

How to Add New Site to the Multisite Dashboard
Add New Sites. (Large preview)

Fill in the following fields.

  • Add the address (URL) for your new website.
  • Enter your “Site Title”.
  • Enter the email address of the new website’s administrator.
Add New Site Button
Add Site Button. (Large preview)

Click the “Add Site” button to finish the process.

12. Google Analytics On WordPress Multisite

You can also generate Google Analytics code for all pages on all of the websites on your Multisite network. If you haven’t already done so, create a Google Analytics account, and sign into it.

  • Start by creating a property to set up a Google Analytics ID. You will need this ID to install your global site tag (gtag.js).
  • Next, find your Google Analytics ID in the “Property” column of the relevant account in the “Admin” section of your Analytics account.
  • Now, you can copy and paste the global site tag on the relevant web pages. Add the gtag.js tag right after the opening <head> tag. You can have different analytics code for each website on the network, and the Super Admin can manage all of them if needed.

13. Setting Up On Local Host

You can use any WAMP or LAMP software to set up WordPress Multisite on a local system. You’ll need to follow the same steps you did to host a website. However, take care with the domain mapping. You can easily set up a subdirectory website in the local system, but to set up a subdomain or a different domain, you’ll need to set up virtual host on the WAMP or LAMP server.

14. Useful Plugins For WordPress Multisite And How They Work

You can use a variety of plugins to ensure the smooth operation of your Multisite network.

A. Domain Mapping
This plugin enables you to offer each website on your network its own domain name.

B. WPForms
Create different forms using a simple drag-and-drop tool.

C. Yoast SEO
Optimize the websites on your network for better search engine results. Yoast is a well-known name in the SEO world.

D. Pro Sites
Offer paid upgrades, advertising, and more, thereby monetizing your Multisite network. You can restrict the features of the free website, encouraging users to upgrade.

E. SeedProd
Add customized “Coming soon” and “maintenance mode” landing pages. This will jazz up the network while administrators work on their websites.

F. WP Mail SMTP
Fix the “WordPress is not sending email” issue with this plugin. It allows you to use an SMTP server to send crucial Multisite registration and notification emails.

G. User Switching
Using this plugin, you can switch user accounts as network admin to see what your users are experiencing when working on their websites. It can help you to troubleshoot some functionality issues.

15. Troubleshooting And FAQs

A. TROUBLESHOOTING

When setting up a Multisite network, you might encounter a few common problems. Let’s see how to troubleshoot these issues.

I. Login Issues

You might encounter a wp-admin login issue If you are using WordPress Multisite with subdirectories, rather than subdomains. If you are not able to log into the WordPress back end for individual websites with subdirectories, you can try replacing the define ('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true); line in wp-config.php file with define ('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', 'false');.

II. Find Unconfirmed Users

Sometimes, you might not be able to find registered users who haven’t received an activation email. Usually, poorly configured mail settings are responsible for this problem. You can use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to send activation emails. The PHP Mail function might send emails to the junk folder due to unauthorized email sending. Instead, you can use SMTP with proper domain authentication to get emails delivered to the inbox. Use any SMTP service provider, such as MailGun or Gmail.

B. FAQS

1. Can I install plugin “X” in my WordPress Multisite?

Yes, you can install any plugin in Multisite. However, not all plugins support Multisite. Check the plugin’s support before installing it.

2. Can I share user logins and roles across a Multisite network?

Yes, you can share user logins and roles across multiple websites. This comes in handy if you want website admins to manage the content on their own websites in your Multisite network.

3. Is it possible to display the main website’s posts on all websites on the network?

Yes, you can show your main website’s posts across the network.

4. If I am a Super Admin, can I log into all network websites with a single ID?

Yes, Super Admins can use the same credentials to sign into all network websites.

5. As a Super Admin, can I log into another network’s websites?

No, you can’t sign into networks other than your own.

6. Can I add more websites to my network later?

Yes, you can add as many websites as you want, anytime you want.

7. Can I use different plugins for each website, such as Yoast for one and All in One SEO for another?

Yes, you can use different plugins with similar functionality for different websites. However, you must set the plugin for the specific website you want. If you activate it for the entire Multisite network, it will work on all websites automatically.

8. Can I install a plugin on an individual website?

No, you cannot install a plugin directly on an individual website. You have to install it on the network. However, you can activate or deactivate it for a specific website.

9. Can I create a theme and apply it to a specific website?

Yes, you can create as many themes as you like. You can also activate or deactivate themes as a website’s admin.

16. WordPress Multisite Examples

Here are a few well-known brands using a WordPress Multisite network.

  • OpenView Venture Partners
    OpenView Venture Partners is a venture capital firm. The company uses a Multisite installation to run three different websites, including the corporate website, the corporate blog, and a multi-author blog called Labs. The company runs the last two websites under the subdomains blog.openviewpartners.com and labs.openviewpartners.com. Each website has a centralized theme that works perfectly.
  • The University of British Columbia Blogs
    The University of British Columbia (UBC) also uses WordPress Multisite. The purpose here is to enable professors to create course websites, build blogs with multiple contributors, and create portfolios for students as well as staff members. The WordPress Multisite installation gives teachers complete control over their online communities. They can add as many students as they like and take teaching beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • Cheap Flights
    Cheapflights is a travel website, offering flight tickets, hotel bookings, and vacation packages. The website uses WordPress Multisite to power its Travel Tips section. The section covers the latest travel news, tips on flying, information on the best places to travel to, and more.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, WordPress Multisite comes with several advantages. You can control and manage several websites from a single dashboard. It can certainly reduce your legwork and make your website monitoring hassle-free. Hopefully, you now have enough knowledge on installing, troubleshooting, and working with applications on a Multisite network to take the plunge.

Have you ever used WordPress Multisite? Will you consider using it for future projects? Let us know in the comments section below.

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[ December 5, 2019 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 2 Comments ]

What is a Domain Name? Domains Explained for Beginners

Domain name is essentially your website’s equivalent of a physical address. In the same way that a satellite navigation needs a street address or a zip code to provide directions, a web browser needs a domain name to direct you to a website.

A domain name takes the form of two main elements. For example, the domain name Facebook.com consists of the website’s name (Facebook) and the domain name extension (.com). When a company (or a person) purchases a domain name, they’re able to specify which server that the domain name points to.

Domain name registrations are overseen by an organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN specifies which domain name extensions are available and keeps a centralized database of where the domain names point to.

Every website that you visit effectively consists of two main elements: a domain name and a web server.

  1. A web server is a physical machine that hosts the files and the databases that your website is made from and sends them out to people across the internet when they visit your site from their machine.
  2. The domain name is what people type in to access your site, and it points the web browser to the server that stores those resources. Without a domain name, people would need to remember the specific IP address of your server — and that’s just not going to happen.

How Do Domains Work?

Domain names work by acting as a shortcut to the server that hosts your website.

Without a domain name, anyone who wanted to visit your website would have to enter the full IP address. But the problem is that an IP address is difficult for people to memorise or to include on advertising materials.

In our case, 3sixt5.co.za is the domain name. Let’s say it points IP address is 100.90.80.70. The IP address points to a server, but it doesn’t resolve the website if visitors try to use it. That’s because for an IP address to resolve a website, the remote server needs to be using port 80 with a default page (i.e. index.html) stored in its web-apps directory.

As you can see, messing around with server defaults and IP addresses can be both confusing and time-consuming. That’s why the vast majority of website owners opt to use a service like 3sixt5 which offers bundled domain names with annual web hosting packages.

Domains can also use redirects, which essentially allow you to specify that if people visit your domain, they’re automatically forwarded to another. This can be useful for campaigns and microsites or for forwarding people to dedicated landing pages on your main site. They can also come in useful for avoiding confusion around spellings. For example, if you visit www.fb.com, you’ll be forwarded to www.facebook.com.

Different Types of Domains

Not all domain names follow the same formula, and while .com domains make up for 46.5% of all global websites, that still leaves plenty of room for other domain name types like .org and .net. Overall, the most common types of domain names include:

TLD: Top Level Domains

A top level domain is exactly what it sounds like: a type of domain name which is at the top level of the internet’s domain name system. There are over a thousand TLDs available but the most common include .com, .org, .net and .edu.

The official list of TLDs is maintained by an organization called the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and can be viewed here. IANA notes that the list of TLDs also includes ccTLDs and gTLDs, which we’ll talk about next.

ccTLD: Country Code Top Level Domains

ccTLDs use just two letters and are based upon international country codes, such as .us for the United States and .jp for Japan. They’re often used by companies which are building dedicated sites for specific regions and can be a good way of signaling to users that they’ve arrived at the right place.

gTLD: Generic Top Level Domain

A gTLD is essentially a TLD that doesn’t rely on a country code. Many gTLDs are intended for a specific use-case, such as .edu which is aimed at educational institutions. That said, you don’t have to meet any specific criteria to register a gTLD, which is why .com isn’t only used for commercial purposes.

Other examples of gTLDs include .mil (military), .gov (government), .org (for non-profits and organizations) and .net, which was originally designed for internet service providers (ISPs) but which is now used much more widely.

Other Domain Name Types

While the above-mentioned domain categories are the most frequent, there are other variations that you can run into.

Second Level Domains

You’ve probably seen these domain names before. We’re talking about a domain that sits directly below a top-level domain name. We’re not going to get too technical here because it’s easier to show with examples, particularly when it comes to country codes.

For example, British companies occasionally use .co.uk instead of .com, and it’s a perfect example of a second level domain. Another second level domain is .gov.uk, which is often used by governmental institutions, and .ac.uk, which is used by academic institutions and universities.

Subdomains

Subdomains are useful because they don’t require webmasters to purchase an additional domain name to create divisions within their site. Instead, they’re able to create a subdomain which effectively points to a specific directory on the server. This can be super useful for campaign sites and other types of web content that should be kept separate from the main site.

For example, Facebook uses developers.facebook.com to provide specific information for web and app developers who want to use the Facebook API. Another great example is support.google.com

How to Register a Domain Name

Different name providers use different systems and so while this answer covers what the process typically looks like, it may differ slightly depending on the provider.

You’ll usually start by running a domain name search. Most domain name providers will allow you to type in your desired domain name and to see whether it’s available. Here on 3sixt5, we also provide plenty of suggestions for other potential domain names, which can be useful when the domain that you searched for was already taken.

Searching for a new domain name using domain checker tool

From there, it’s just a case of completing the checkout process and paying for your new domain name. Once it’s registered, you’ll be given access to a control panel with all the essential management tools.

How to Transfer a Domain Name

Domain names can also be transferred between registrars. Though there are a few special conditions that must be met:

  1. 60 or more days must have passed since the registration or last transfer.
  2. The domain must not be in Redemption or Pending Delete status.
  3. You should have your domain’s authorization code (also known as EPP code).
  4. Domain’s ownership details must be valid and privacy protection services must be disabled.

While it is not mandatory to transfer your domain, having all services in a single place can greatly simplify the management process.

Here on 3sixt5, you can perform a domain transfer from any registrar. The process can take somewhere between 4-7 days to be fully completed. However, our dedicated customer success team will be there to assist every step of the way!

Difference Between a Domain Name and Web Hosting

Going back to the start of this article, if the domain name is like your physical address then web hosting is like the physical building and the contents stored within.

Domain names are used to create a handy little shortcut to link what visitors type into an address bar to the server that’s used to host the website. They’re entirely digital and stored in a centralised database.

Hosting is a little different because it requires a physical server that’s located somewhere in the world and connected to the internet. It’s essentially like a computer hard drive that stores all of your website’s files and databases. It’s called a server because it literally “serves” your website to your visitors.

When you type a URL (i.e. www.3sixt5.co.za) into your web browser, it sends a request to the specific server that your site is hosted on. The server then uploads the files and transmits them across the internet to the device that you’re using, which downloads the files and displays them.

So, What is a Domain Name?

Domain name is essentially the web hosting equivalent of a postal address. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. A domain name is your website’s equivalent of a street address.
  2. They consist of a website name (i.e. 3sixt5) and a domain name extension (i.e. .com).
  3. All domain name registrations are overseen by ICANN.
  4. Domains work by forwarding visitors to the appropriate server.
  5. .com domains are the most popular, powering 46.5% of the web.
  6. ccTLDs use country codes and designate geographic areas (i.e. .cn or .es).
  7. gTLDs tend to be designed for specific use cases (i.e. .org for organizations).
  8. Every domain name registrar has a different signup process.
  9. You can use domain search engines to find available domain names.
  10. Domains can be transferred from one provider to another.
  11. Servers are physical machines which store your website’s files.
  12. If you need help, our support team will be more than happy to help.

Final Word

In this tutorial, we’ve learned all there is to know about domain names and how they work. We have also covered the basics of domain transfer and registration process.

If you have any extra domain name related questions, feel free to submit them in the comments below!

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[ November 28, 2019 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

Why Sell Online? The Importance of eCommerce in Your Sales Strategy

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[ November 27, 2019 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

10 Free (or Nearly-Free) Marketing Strategies for New Entrepreneurs

You don’t need me to tell you that creating a marketing plan for your business is essential.

We all know how important it is to market your business; the trouble is, marketing strategies—and the tools to put these strategies in place—can often be pricey.

That being said, there are plenty of free (or very low cost) ways that you can market your business. Plus, these strategies allow you to get creative, and really focus on adding value through your own voice and expertise within your industry—which is a win all around.

Read on to see my list of 10 marketing strategies that won’t break the bank.

1. Build your email list

If you’re looking for free or low-cost marketing strategies, email marketing should be at the top of your list—which is why it’s at the top of this one.

Email marketing is the bread and butter of a startup or small business marketing strategy, and for good reason: it’s a solid, basic way to market your business, it’s flexible, and it generally only costs time.

Drip is the gold standard for free email marketing tools, as it offers a free plan with advanced marketing automation capabilities (you can upgrade to the paid version once your list grows to a larger size). It’s the email tool we use at Bidketch.

There are tons of resources on how to build a strong email marketing campaign (this article by Drip is a good starting point), as well as plenty on how to build your email list. While the specifics will vary by industry, creating some type of lead-capturing initiative on your website is generally the first step. This could be anything from a download that collects emails, a popup where visitors can sign up for your newsletter, or some other type of content that involves the exchange of email for a free asset (we’ll talk more about what that could look like in tip six).

2. Try content marketing

In terms of free and low-cost marketing initiatives, content marketing still reigns supreme. While plenty of content marketing strategies might not be exactly free (it does cost some money to create a blog, for example), they tend to be one-time or low expenses that you can then take advantage of for an extended period of time.

So, while content marketing is perhaps more costly in terms of both time and money than some other suggestions on this list, no marketing strategy is complete without it.

The world of content marketing is vast and ever-changing, so I’ll just touch on a few of the can’t-miss aspects here for now:

Leverage social media

These days, having some type of social media presence is pretty much a given, no matter what industry you’re in.

However, when approaching social media from a content marketing perspective, it becomes clear that it’s less about just throwing something against the wall and seeing what sticks, and more about creating a cohesive strategy for your business via social media.

This might mean critically evaluating your business, and determining which channels align best with both your offering and your goals. Is your product, service, or branding highly visual? A channel like Instagram is probably a good bet. Is your goal to create an interactive community? Facebook may serve your needs best. Trying to reach a wide audience, engage in conversations, and position yourself as a thought leader in your space? Twitter might be right for your business. It’s important to also consider the demographics of your target audience, and see which platforms are the best match.

While you may have to do a solid amount of research at the outset, you’ll emerge with a clearer idea of which platforms are going to give you the biggest bang for your metaphorical buck. While free, social media marketing can be hugely time-consuming—so narrowing your focus from the get-go is ideal.

For more on creating a social media marketing campaign, this guide by MeetEdgar is a good starting point, as well as this one by Social Media Examiner.

Blog or create another web presence based around thought leadership

Creating a blog is standard advice for any new business owner, and for good reason. By having an SEO-optimized website and blog, you’ll be able to build a web presence, increase your placement in search rankings, and be found by more people.

However, if you approach blogging solely from this standpoint, it becomes a chore at best, and an ineffective, transparent marketing ploy at worst. Rather, think first about where you can best contribute to your space and position yourself as a thought leader by creating great content.

Maybe this looks like creating a traditional, written blog—or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you’d rather create a YouTube channel with educational videos. Maybe you’d rather bypass blog creation entirely and use Medium as a place to share your content.

The make takeaway here is that at this point, “start a blog” is such standard marketing advice that it starts to ring a bit hollow. The really important piece of advice is to remember that content marketing should be about creating valuable content first, and should be a place for you to share your expertise with a wider audience based on the value of what you bring to the table. Determine what that is, and how best to share it, and go from there.

3. Join local Meetup groups or networking organizations in your area

Networking can be hard, especially for those of us who are introverted. However, establishing yourself within your local community can be a hugely successful marketing strategy. Word of mouth is still one of the most trusted referral types, period—so even if you don’t directly acquire new clients or customers through a Meetup or networking event, you can get the word out about your business to people who may recommend you to others in their larger circle.

To start, Meetup.com is likely to have plenty of networking-specific groups in your area (and a quick Google search of “networking events near me” will also turn up dozens of options).

However, don’t feel confined to events that are strictly billed as for the purposes of networking. Attending events based around areas of personal interest can also be a good strategy, as you’re likely to have an opportunity to mention what you do and pass out business cards. It should go without saying that a light touch is essential here, but once you realize that every event is a networking event to some extent, you’ll be able to take advantage of the free marketing opportunities these types of events provide.

For more on how to use Meetup for networking, see this article by the Huffington Post, and this one by Shopify.

4. Use HARO for free, low-effort publicity

HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs looking to both build their credibility as thought leaders within their space, as well as increase links back to their website.

With HARO, you can answer questions posed by reporters, writers, and others seeking expert opinions or examples of personal experience (like yours truly), and in return you’ll be quoted and have a link back to your website included in an article, news story, or other publication.

It’s a great way to share your expertise on a subject with a new audience, and expose your website and business to new eyes. You can also add these publications to your own website or share them with your social channels, further cementing your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

5. Contribute thought leadership outside your own avenues

Similar to HARO, consider contributing your own authorship to sites within your industry. As mentioned above, this enables you to build yourself as a reputable voice within your field.

Start by researching sites within your industry that publish articles from guest authors. You’re likely already familiar with some of them, as they may make up your current reading material. From there, see if the sites in question have a submission portal or process that you can follow.

Not only does this strategy expose you and your business to new eyes, as with HARO, but it is an even stronger way to demonstrate your expertise within your industry, as you can potentially have more of a role in the content creation process.

6. Create free resources

You have plenty of knowledge about your industry, otherwise you wouldn’t have made it this far. What are you an expert in? How can you convey this information to others?

Consider creating a free resource, like a downloadable tip sheet, an ebook, holding a webinar, and so on. Offering free assets like these help cement you as an expert in your space, and, as a bonus, work as lead capturing tools to help grow your network (and your mailing list).

7. Implement a referral program

Remember my earlier note about word of mouth? That comes into play here, too.

By creating a referral program for your existing customers, you’re both incentivizing them to bring in new business, and strengthening those potential business relationships by using social proof.

The great thing about referral programs is that the sky really is the limit; you can tailor your referral program to your exact needs. If you’re hesitant about using a referral program; read up on the seven common myths of referral programs (by Ambassador).

8. Use your branding to help market your business

I’m a major sucker for great branding.

Here’s an example:

Last year, I took a small road trip from my home of Portland, Oregon, up to Seattle, Washington. While there, I visited General Porpoise Doughnuts. The doughnuts were great, and I’m looking forward to eating them again—but what really struck me was the branding. I love everything about it, and I’d really love some merchandise with their logo—a t-shirt, coffee mug, sweatshirt, you name it. I think it’s cute, and I’d get a kick out of it. I’ve also told lots and lots of people about their shop (there’s that word of mouth again).

Does your branding cause a similar response? If not, maybe it should. Now, I understand if “cute” isn’t one of the notes your brand wants to hit, but this is merely meant to underscore the fact that if you position your branding in such a way that it is appealing to customers visually or on an emotional level, you may be able to get them to do some of your marketing for you.

This will obviously look different for different businesses, but it’s worth keeping in mind. If you can create a logo or similar brand imagery that is appealing to your target customer, and find a way to get it out into the world (via stickers, wearable merchandise, or a highly-Instagrammable store feature), you may be able to passively market your business via your customers.

9. Comment on other blogs, social media sites, and so on

Make sure you’re joining in the conversation.

This continues to build relationships within your field, but it also has an added bonus: by commenting on popular, high-traffic sites, you’re getting your name and the name of your business in front of new eyes.

So, you’re continuing to build yourself as a thought leader, as well as increase exposure. Moz has some great content on the subject of “comment marketing,” which cover the topic in more depth: Recommendations for Blog Commenting as a Marketing Strategy and Comment Marketing: How to Earn Benefits from Community Participation.

10. Build a cross-promotional relationship with complementary businesses

Strengthening your network is always a good idea, but consider leveraging your connections for a mutually-beneficial marketing relationship—or, reach out to new contacts.

This could look like a web designer partnering up with a copy writer and offering a bundled rate on services, and cross-promoting on each other’s social profiles and business sites. Since neither business competes with the other, and clients often are in search of both services at similar points in time, the partnership benefits both entrepreneurs.

What is your favorite free (or low-cost) marketing strategy? Are there any here that you have not tried yet, but plan to implement? Let me know in the comments!

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[ August 26, 2019 by Jade Bezuidenhoud 0 Comments ]

15 Reasons why your business needs a website ASAP!

why business needs a website

Are you starting a business and got confused about the fact that why business needs a website? You’ll be shocked to know that around 46 percent of small businesses didn’t have a website in 2016 but within a year the percentage dropped to a staggering 29 percent.

 So what made people change? Why does customers are showing lot of interest in online stores?

 Here are 15 reasons that will tell you why your business need a website

 1 .Open 24 x 7

 You won’t ever have to put up a closed for the business sign after you have a business website. Customers can take a look at your products and buy them even when you aren’t available. It means you are selling your services and products 24 x 7. However, you need to have a support of a experienced and skilled web development team for assistance.

 2.  Target a Larger Market

 When you have an offline business, you only cater to a limited number of clients, but when you are online, you can target a larger market. Your working hours are longer than the usual and no matter what you sell, products or services; you are doing so at the place at very minimal costs.

 3.  Global Presence

 Nowadays, it is all about putting your company on the global map. The more countries you cater to the more successful your business will become. And that is exactly why your small business needs a website. You have a small price to pay to cater to clients all across the seven seas without being there physically.

 4.  Capturing the Attention of Youth

 Young people spend a lot of time online and prefer online shopping than actually visiting the shopping centre. Having an online business means you can attract the youth, who spend on gut instinct rather than doing their research.

 5.  Educate Customers About Your Brand

 Customers are always interested in knowing what inspired your company to start. When you are in charge of publishing about your company, you have a better chance of impressing the client because no one knows your business better than you. It doesn’t mean you brag about your brand, but you can help engage your clients and increase their interest. Add a blog to your website so that your customers feel that you are giving them something and not only interested in making money.

 6.  Social Proof

 If you are running a business, it is obvious that you will need to have social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It increases your brand’s value, especially if you upload creative photos, interact with your customers, and host giveaways and competitions that will attract you quality attention.

 7.  Marketing Plan

 Websites are the step one of any marketing plan and come before designing brochures and business cards.

 why business need a website Make sure that every marketing campaign you start should be on the landing page of your website so that visitors see it when they open your website. Design your website in such a way that you convert these visitors into clients.

 8. Improves Credibility and Legitimacy of Your Brand

 Having a business website makes your business more credible and legitimate. We live in a digital world, and it is a common notion to think that if you have a website for your business, your company is real and isn’t fooling people, just like a couple of decades ago it was important to have a physical address. However, it is essential that you present your business in an attractive and glamorous but a well-structured manner.

 9.  Customer Support

 Improve your interaction with your clients by having a customer support page on your website. It helps especially when catering to more than one country. It is beneficial for businesses that can’t afford a phone service. You can also upload an FAQ page for customers so that they can get their queries solved before bothering you.

 10.  Achieve Business Goals

 A business website brings you closer to your business goals. You need to be true to your work and profess quality and value to make your business a success. To feel accomplished and stay competitive, create smaller goals rather than a large one. It also gives a structure to your business, and you get a clear idea about how to run the company.

 

11.  Online Sales

 Report says in 2016, the e-commerce industry in India was $675 billion, which means if you don’t have a website you are losing out on a lot of money. Percentage of online sales is growing exponentially every year. You don’t need to give up on your physical store because it is important as both combined together will give you maximum revenue.

 12.  Test New Ideas

 Develop your business website with CMS that allows you to test new ideas and visitors can tell right away if it is working or not. You aren’t wasting any money because you can try the ideas free of cost. Planning to introduce a product? Put it on a website for a couple of days and make it look as attractive as possible and see if people are liking it or not.

  13.   Free of Cost

 You can open a free website on WordPress initially if you are low on budget. See how it works, earn some money, and when you have enough money, contact a e-commerce web development company and seek their assistance in making a robust full-fledged website.

 14. Competitor Business Websites

 It is simple. Because your competitor has a business website, you need to have one as well. Customers research a lot before buying a product, and if you don’t have a website, you are helping your competitors gain traffic. It also means that you are failing to keep up with the latest technology and giving up on making your business a success.

 15. Resource Centre For Staff

 Website is not only for your customers but employers as well. Create a subdomain for your employees, which they can use to upload pictures, instructional videos and guides to help customers. It will also make your employees feel valued. Your staffs are not an expense but an investment that will reap you long-term benefits when treated right.

 Conclusion 75% of people judge a company’s credibility by going through their website. 85% of B2B customers check online regarding price of a commodity before buying them. It has been estimated that soon, more than 60% of internet traffic will be through mobile phones. And moreover, people spending their time on social media is increasing day by day. So if you wish to be successful you can’t avoid your company’s online presence. It’s high time that your business should have a website as a beacon of your online presence be it for business or a company website.

Credits – www.probytes.net

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