How Much is Too Much?: A Content Guide to Your Website Home Page

The age old question is this: How much is too much?

That is definitely a subjective question as what may be too much for you may not be too much for someone else. So, the answer remains rather ambiguous. Loebig Ink home page Blog

However, in the world of website development, there can be “too
much” on your home page. (This blog covers a typical multi-page website not a parallax website which will be covered in another blog.) Too much text, too many images (photos and/or graphics) and too much other content can make for an overloaded, crowded and busy home page which may turn visitors (potential customers) away.

In fact, the home page can have so much content on it, visitors may miss the more important pages on your website and not convert (purchase) the products you are selling. A seemingly endless home page can be a detriment to your company’s bottom line for having a website so it is important to design and populate a well-written quality content for the all-important home page.

Home pages remain one of the three most visited pages on small business websites. (Services page and Contact page being the other popular pages.)

When designing your home page, keep these factors in mind:

  1. Brevity: Most visitors to your website look at your home page as they do a cover of a magazine. It should introduce the visitor to your company or products. So, it should not have all the facts about your products on it.
  2. Attention span: Most website visitors spend scant seconds (eleven seconds or less in some research) on each page until they find what they want or have some interest. They will not spend a lot of time reading your text if it is too voluminous or heavy in text and photos.
  3. Quick information: Some website visitors may have looked your website up just to get your contact information so they can contact you. That information should be readily available and easy to find. (I cover this in the next section.)

Now that you know what most small business website visitors’ expectations, here is a list of the content you should include on your home page (and some content you should avoid.):

  1. Company services: A short list of what your company does, in bullet or list form, so that visitors know exactly what you do. How many times have you visited a website and wondered, “What do you do anyway?” Avoid going into too much detail. Add a hyperlink to the services page in the text or make it easily navigable so that they can then double-click and find more details on the services page.
  2. Location: Knowing where you are located is crucial, especially for restaurants, physicians, medical services and service industries. Visitors need to know if you are nearby so they can find you or call you to have you make house or office calls. (This is not that crucial for ecommerce or mail order websites.)
  3. Contact Information: As we mentioned, many visitors may already know what you sell. They only want to find your phone number or other contact information so they can order your product or find out other information. It should be easily found in the header (banner) of your website and at the footer (bottom) of your website. Whether on a laptop, phone or tablet, the phone number and address should be prominent.
  4. Accurate Menu with drop-down pages (if needed): Easy navigation is a MUST for any website, no matter what the industry. Visitors must be able to click on any page and find what they need easily and quickly. So your menu must be accurate and have pages in their priority of what the website visitor needs to see. So, make sure it has after the home page, your services, products, testimonials, and blog and contact page. Of course, your products may vary but make it easy to find everything. (Google penalizes websites that have poor navigation so it is a necessary for search engine optimization.)
  5. Call-to-Action: Now that they are ready to buy or contact you, make it easy for them to do it. Have a “call-to-action” box on your home page so visitors can purchase right away. Usually located on the right sidebar, the box is simple with name, email address, phone number and comments. Or you may have a product order box there instead. Anyway, make it easy for them to buy and they will return.

Remember, your website should always be a positive shopping experience. Visitors should find exactly what you want them to find and, hopefully, purchase from you. Make it an experience they will recall fondly and return again and again.

If you’d like to learn more about websites or need one for your small business, please contact us at www.loebigink.com. We design websites, write copy, do search engine optimization, content management and social media marketing. You can also reach us at brian@loebigink.com.  We are located in Bethesda, Maryland but serve the entire USA.

Alt tags for SEO

Alt Tags and the Importance of Labeling Your Website Images

Alt tags explained Loenig Ink When a client contracts with my business to do the search engine optimization (SEO) on their website, we discuss several aspects: titles, title tags and meta-descriptions. But there is one part that is a definite factor if I am to do my job as an SEO Specialist: adding alt tags (also known as “alt text”) to their photos in the website.

Alt tags are taken for granted and sometimes even skipped over by some SEO types. However, if your website is going to be truly “optimized”, then assuring that your images are tagged, is as important as copy and titles.

But, before we continue, let’s explain what an “alt tag” is: It is alternative text tagged to an image as a brief text-only description. It is usually applied to all the images embedded in a website.

Alt tags usually look like this: “chocolate blizzard Shake Shop Bethesda”.

Tags are very simply a brief description of what is seen in the photo (image). It does not need to be verbose or overly technical.

So, alt tags are simple search engine optimization techniques, yet they are crucial for any small business website for the following reasons:

  1. Alt tags are used by search engines to generate results. Those results may include photos which are tagged with the client’s business name on it. Google Images may include those tagged images at the top of its results.
  2. Alt tagged images that are linked are treated the same by most search engines the same way they treat anchor text. They are considered relevant content.
  3. Alt tags are an efficient way to use your website keywords, such as identifying products and services offered by your business. Your tagged images will appear in the search engine results with your company name on it.
  4. Gives you a leg up on your competitors who may not have tagged their images.

Now you know the benefits, here is how you need to use them properly:

  1. Use accurate keywords for the photo.
  2. Make them short. No keyword stuffing.
  3. Describe the photo first before tagging it with your company name.
  4. Don’t tag photos that are generic or that have no real value on your website such as question mark graphics or others that can be seen on any website. Tag images that are relevant from your website.

If you’re not sure about how to add the alt text, consult a search engine specialist. They can do an audit of your website and determine the best tags to use for each image.

Alt tags are crucial and should be a part of any website search engine optimization.

For more information on how you can optimize your website, contact us.  Loebig Ink specializes in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), copy writing and web design.

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Social Media

Facebook for Small Business: Still a wise marketing investment?

Sometimes, Social Mediawhen something has been around for a long time people tend to take it for granted. It may even be considered “old” and not “trendy” after a short period of time.

Facebook is one of those items that has been around for more than eleven years. It can certainly be considered “old” in the still growing world of social media and not “trendy” by most in the industry.

However, don’t let its age and familiarity fool you. It is still a marketing powerhouse and should be considered in any marketing plans for your small business. In fact, Facebook is still so popular with the public, it had a record one billion plus people online during one hour just this past August. One billion is impressive by any measure.

Facebook should remain an integral part of your small business marketing plan for the following reasons:

  1. Mobile phone users love it: 80% of Facebook users access their page through their cell phones and visit at least 14 times a day! Your business page or advertising will be seen by a large number of visitors. It is a very busy place. Your product will not only be seen by present and potential customers using their phones, they can also call you immediately to find out more.
  2. Facebook advertising is inexpensive: This channel is still known as being the best way to reach the largest audience for the smallest marketing dollar. The ROI is outstanding even though Facebook has changed its algorithms making it more difficult for a larger audience to see your free postings. In return, though, it is a great source of leads and still outperforms most other advertising venues. You even save money as you don’t have to buy a spot on a mailing list. Facebook has done massive data mining and is working with data leaders like Axciom and Datalogix to access information on customer habits, shopper loyalty and credit card accounts. All this mining and research helps your company reach the right customer efficiently and cheaply.
  3. Facebook ads send traffic to your small business website: Your main reason for all your ads should be people going from the ad to your website. While your business page is important in your engagement and marketing efforts, your website is the most important focus. Your advertising campaign should have them click on the ad and go directly to the landing page in which you are featuring the product. From there, you can “convert” them and sell the product.
  4. Your small business Facebook page is still free and still crucial:  Facebook still has free business accounts and their importance in engagement, branding and sales cannot be understated. Small businesses should post on them five times a week using the “80/20 Rule”: 80% quality content (sharing posts from other sources) and 20% marketing (sales and promotions).  Even though fewer people see your business page, you may still get hundreds even thousands of people reading your posts, commenting on it, sharing it or even messaging you for more information.

There are even more reasons for keeping Facebook on your business marketing radar screen and we will discuss them in a future blog. The answer to the question of whether Facebook is a wise decision for your advertising dollar is still a resounding “Yes!” Facebook remains the most popular social media channel in the world and there is no decline whatsoever. It should be on every business marketing plan for many, many years to come.

Thumbtack #1 Web Designer in D.C. 2015 Award Winner

best of thumbtack 2015On August 20th 2015, Loebig Ink Consulting was ranked as the #1 web designer in Washington D.C. The congratulatory email said…

“Congratulations Loebig Ink Consulting, your service, Loebig Ink Consulting, is ranked as one of Thumbtack’s Best of 2015 in the Website Designers category as a result of your great customer reviews. This is a terrific vote of confidence from your customers in the past year—and a great way to stand out this year. We’re proud to prominently feature your business on this page (https://www.thumbtack.com/dc/washington/website-designers/) of our website.”

As undeserving as we feel about this wonderful recognition, we truly appreciate the many clients who have given us regular positive reviews on Thumbtack that helped influence the powers that made this decision! Our web design team consists of Ina and Robin who lead our customized Wix developed sites and Mamoon and Dan who guide our WordPress implementations and updates.

best web designer of thumbtack 2015

 

How does social media effect youth?

By Nia Crawford, McKinley Technology H.S. and Loebig Ink Summer Intern

social-media-and-youthIn 2015, it is now easier to access the internet than ever before. This easily leads to the misuse of the technology that we are provided with but not everybody misusing it. Studies show that the age group of 12-21 access social media more than any other. Being that I fall into this age group I know that social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat is used to keep up with the latest trends, our favorite artists and an easy way to stay up to date with what our peers are doing.

But, how has this turned into more? We have became so immune to being able to contact someone with just the tap of a screen, that we can have an entire conversation with someone in the same room as us without saying one word. We’d rather Snapchat a picture to one of our friends than to actually go see them. We have officially been labeled as the “Dumbest generation” by author Mark Bauerlein, due to our heavy use of technology. I am very aware that my generation doesn’t use technology for much more than social media, which in many ways is the same as misusing technology. Although social life is a very powerful temptation, the only way it impacts us is socially unless we allow it to do otherwise. Teenagers are simply impacted by what they allow to influence their life.

Here are five ways I have seen technology have a negative influence on youth:

  1. The social websites become their first priority, rather than the things that should come first such as school, family and sports.
  2. People portray themselves as someone they’re not.
  3. Young people can begin to cyberbully another peer; this can lead to many things such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
  4. Some youth are easily influenced so they may feel the need to change their physical appearance by comparing themselves to the next person they see in the media.
  5. Social media is a very powerful temptation, so it can also become addicting and begin to start sidetracking the youth.

There are also a lot of benefits that come from social media and the internet for teenagers. For a lot of people in my age group social media is an outlet for thoughts that they are able to share with their peers. Websites where you can interact with others your age means a lot to teenagers because it is a form of self expression. As we begin to get older it is very important to know who you are and what you want to do with your life, through social media you can easily find this out. So before we get into our serious years we might as well practice how to express ourselves in a respectful way. Also social media is an easy way to connect with people all throughout the area that you live in. In my age group a lot of very close friendships have been formed through social media and have helped to benefit each other in multiple ways. The reason social media makes it so easy to create bonds is your allowed to express your likes and dislikes, which people can easily relate to. As many ways as people believe that social media is bad, it can also provide a lot of good, you just have to use it for the right things.

Five ways I have seen technology have a positive influence on youth:

  1. Keeps connections between friends when they’re not always able to see each other when they want to.
  2. Social media also keeps you up to date with things that are going on around the world rather than just in your area.
  3. It gives youth a place to express themselves in a way that a public place wouldn’t allow us to.
  4. It helps to develop social skills, a lot of friendships can stem from a social website.
  5. It’s a fun way to interact with your peers, other than seeing them in person.

In conclusion, social media can have both a beneficial and negative impact on the youth of my generation. It can help youth prosper in so many different ways. As well as hold them down in various ways. The impact that social media has on us is up for us to decide!

High Tech Interns On The Job

Washington D.C.’s Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has brought two bright young interns from the McKinley Technology High School to work with the Loebig Ink team this summer! Through a collaborative partnership with Hera Hub DC, where the interns work, and Philip Day Communications, interns Nia and Sanarah, are learning the basics of WordPress blog writing, social media management, web design, copywriting and professional interviewing skills.

Sanarah Missouri and Nia Crawford
Left to Right: Sanarah and Nia

Nia Crawford is 16 years old and is a rising senior at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. At her school, Nia has been studying Mass Media for 3 years. Mass Media became much more than just a class; she quickly took an keen interest in the subject. It helped her to realize that she wanted to specialize in Sports Journalism or Broadcasting. This special interest is what linked her to work as an intern for Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink.

Nia began working with Loebig Ink at the end of June 2015 now and is learning a lot that will help contribute to her future aspirations. Everything that she has learned about journalism and sports so far inspired her to work her hardest in order to get where she wants to be. Her motivation to become a sports journalist also comes from the feelings of love and the excitement she gets from watching sports. She believes that working with Loebig Ink is assisting her future goals regarding her journalism career.

Sanarah Missouri was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She is 18 years old and a recent graduate of McKinley Technology High School. Like Nia, Sanarah also studied Mass Media. She always had a passion for cinema and television, even when she was a child. Unlike other little girls her age, Sanarah did not treat her dolls like they were her babies. Instead, she used them to create mental television sitcoms in her head or she would line up her other toys as if they were in a theater watching a movie and she was the film critic. Her goal is to graduate from Virginia State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications in order to become a filmmaker or videographer.

Her parents, media teachers, peers, and famous icons are responsible for motivating Sanarah to be the media addict she is to this day. Sanarah is all about facing challenges and learning new things, which led her to becoming an intern for Loebig Ink. She was open to learning about blog writing, web design, and “Twitter prospecting” in which she plans to use in the near future in addition to her other skills. Sanarah declares that working with Brian Loebig is an unforgettable experience and the new techniques that she is still in the process of learning may come in handy for her future career one day.

Sanarah recently interviewed Tamika Smith for the Entrepreneur’s in Action blog series too!

Social Media 2014 | Total Active Users

Social media use continues to rise in popularity and growth in 2014 and Facebook remains the king with 1.28+ Billions users. However, YouTube is a close second and may even surpass Facebook in 2014. Google Plus is a distant third with 540 million users, but many will be surprised that it has surpassed Twitter by a wide margin.

These statistics are interesting, but the key question for a small business is; “which social media networks are the best to use for my business?” The simple answer is the one that you invest the most time, attention and resources. Each network has its pros and cons. Take time to find out from your own customers which social media platforms they use and connect with them!

Kudos to Mike Alton from the Social Media Hat for sharing this great social media infographic.

Social Media Active Users