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15 Reasons why you must have an ongoing website management plan

The journey to building your business’s website can be a long one. Whether your site was easily completed, or the process included more obstacles, it potentially took weeks or even months to complete. It likely cost you a pretty penny too, but you know every cent of that was a necessary and important investment. Now your site is live, so you never have to think about it again, right? Sorry, but that’s only wishful thinking.

The days of “set it and forget it” websites are a thing of the past. In an effort to make the internet a reliable, authoritative, reputable place for businesses and consumers alike, we now have to contend with continuous security and optimization updates. To keep your website live, accurate, safe, and at peak performance, you need at least an hour of monthly maintenance for inspections and problem resolution.

Some of the most common issues a site can encounter are broken links, stagnant SEO, plugins that need updating, slow load speeds, responsive device changes, and 404 errors. Monthly maintenance is also commonly used for updating employee bios, photo galleries, business hours, product listings & event info just to name a few – small changes that are best executed by the site designer to avoid framework, formatting & integration malfunctions.

In the past it may have been easier to forgo monthly website maintenance, but in the digital landscape of 2018 it is imperative to keeping your site operational. Here’s a comprehensive list of 15 reasons why you need an ongoing website maintenance plan.

1.  Domain

Every website must of course have a domain name. Do you know how to protect your domain so it isn’t bought out from under you? We will register and renew your domain as needed. Hallen also manage the DNS settings, Google URL submittal, WHOIS registration, and more with our expertise. Do you have multiple domains that need to redirect to one site? They all need maintenance too.

2.  Hosting

Domains need to be hosted to stay “live” on the internet. High-end servers need to be fast and secure for optimal domain hosting and to prevent hacking.

3.  Email Hosting 

Email addresses under a Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL address can sometimes seem unprofessional. Business-related email addresses should be hosted at your domain (Contact@YourBusiness.com). Not only do we include hosting for this email address, we’ll also help you set up your inbox on multiple devices, so you can use it wherever your business takes you.

4.  Search Engine Optimization 

Google Webmaster Tools is provided by Google for webmasters. We can monitor your site for issues and places for improvement with insights and tips from this tool. We use the guidance from this tool to improve your ranking on Google and other search engines.

5.  Local Listings 

When your business is listed incorrectly online, customers may not be able to reach your site or store. Monthly maintenance includes optimizing listings on search engines, social media, and review sites so your customers can always find the accurate information. This includes business name, phone number, email address, website, and physical address.

6.  Analytics 

You’ve spent the resources to create your new professional website, but how can you tell if it’s reaching your customers? We can monitor real-time data about your site’s visitors by installing Google Analytics tools. Who visited your site? Which pages did they view and for how long? Did they return to your site multiple times? How can you use this information to improve your marketing strategy? We provide all this information in reports about your monthly site maintenance.

7.  Blog 

Most of our clients have a difficult time trying to format blog articles on their website. Did that image cause your text to shift? Did your website encounter an update that changed the formatting of your blog page? To ensure that your articles are published correctly, we include this in your monthly maintenance.

8.  SSL Certificate 

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This certificate adds encrypted layers of security to your site. This is especially important for e-commerce websites as a way of protecting customers’ sensitive information. They must be properly installed and renewed. These certificates also increase your site’s SEO because security is a high priority in the tech world.

9.  Performance Optimizations 

The more content and media on your site, the better. But the more pages and videos and text you have on your site, the more optimization it will need to increase loading speed. Increase your user experience, SEO, online rankings, and number of returning visitors by optimizing the performance of your site.

10.  Site Updates 

Testimonials, accreditations, contact info, services, and other information on your site will need to be updated or added to your site frequently. As referenced at the beginning if this tutorial, monthly maintenance can also be commonly used for updating things like employee bios, photo galleries, business hours, product listings & event info just to name a few.

11.  Security Updates 

Different factions of WordPress websites often receive security updates. As they increase the security of the parts of your site (core, theme, plugins, etc.) we will patch and backup the site so it stays live, correct, and secure. We monitor your site monthly for additional updates from integrated software as well.

12.  Backups 

What happens if your site gets hacked and disappears? We back up your website frequently so, in the event of a disaster, we can have your site operating again within hours, rather than days or weeks. Your data remains safe and secure as we backup everything in multiple locations onsite and in the cloud.

13.  Virus Removal 

In the rare event that hackers bypass all security measures and put a virus on your site, we will remove it, then scan and clean the entire site, and restore all data. Once a virus is placed on your site, search engines and browsers may blacklist you. We will also contact them on your behalf to reinstate your site.

14.  Uptime Monitoring 

We guarantee 99.9% website uptime on our servers. We monitor your site to reduce downtime and correct underlying issues so your site is always available for your customers.

15.  Support 

We can demystify the internal workings of your website and help you decide the best use of each page. Your success is our success.  Our job ticket request portal is available 24/7.

Monthly website maintenance is more than a luxury. It is a service that’s necessary to keep your site live, secure, optimized, and updated.  We include this maintenance for every website we build.  Without website maintenance, there really is no website. Hallen Media is ready to fulfill your online digital marketing needs, so feel free to contact us with inquiries at 336-245-1263 or admin@hallenmedia.net.

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5 Reasons Your Business Needs an Online Presence

When you search for a new product or service, where do you begin? Maybe you ask friends and family for a referral. Word of mouth recommendations are popular and effective because there is an inherent level of trust and reliability behind them. But what if you turn to Google or another search engine to find what you’re looking for? Online search results are seemingly infinite, and it can be difficult to decipher which business to use. If a business doesn’t have a strong online presence, they won’t even be in the running for your consideration. If your small business doesn’t have an online presence, you could be missing out on new customers every day.

Professional, user-friendly websites that are search engine optimized allow potential customers to read about your business’s offerings, request information and even book an appointment easily without any previous knowledge of your existence. Social media profiles and review generation are a must-have part of online presence as well. Customers want to know that your business is trustworthy and that you care about their interests.

If you still have questions, here are 5 reasons your business must have an online presence:

1. Accessibility for Customers

So, your website is lacking or non-existent… that means your customers will be searching for products or services you provide, but they will only find your competitors online. There is an extremely limited chance that customers will seek you out offline in 2018, especially if you don’t populate in their search results. You need a clear, concise, well-maintained website and a strong SEO strategy to be able to compete.

When it is easy for your customers to find your website, it makes their buying decisions that much clearer.  Their entire experience on your website (referred to as UX) from load speed to ease of navigation and clarity of information will make your offerings more understandable and more accessible.

2. Attract a Broader Audience

While your physical shop, office, or storefront may only be open 10-15 hours a day, your website is available 24/7. This allows the customers more opportunities to come to you. It also offers a way to connect with customers that cannot travel to your physical location due to certain restrictions including their distant location, transportation availability, or disabilities.

Having a professional, up-to-date website and active social media accounts will demonstrate your business’s professionalism and competency to those who are unable to visit your location and interact with you in person. A strong online presence will also allow customers to easily share your business with others.

3. Building Trust and Relationships

Blogs, websites, and social media accounts compile reviews and feedback from customers. You can address inquiries and issues directly and quickly to prove that you are reliable, and reviews will let others know that your business is legitimate and reputable.

Review responses are a great way to nurture relationships with customers. You can use feedback to improve, start a narrative about the quality of your offerings, and handle issues when clients have a negative experience. You likely won’t make 100% of your clients happy, but future customers consider the way you handle negative situations to see if you care about your customers’ satisfaction.

4. Automatic Marketing

The digital age has been a dream for people who want to freely explore their options. People may browse your offerings and learn about your business online without being pressured by a sales person or having time-consuming and unnecessary interactions. Since your online presence and reputation speak volumes about your products and services, you no longer need to hinder customers with the elevator pitch which saves everyone time, including you!

You can also digitally market by sending or posting coupons, flyers, specials, announcements, etc. online, which can be shared at the click of a button. Link your products to posts on your blog or social media as a form of free advertising. And don’t forget, SEO is your best friend when you don’t have a large advertising budget.

5. Tracking Results

Not only does a strong online presence help you reach more customers, it will also be a valuable learning tool. Your website and social media can track the behavior of your customers. Did your new blog post cause a spike in web traffic? Is your new product getting a lot of views? How much time do your customers spend on your website? By tracking the behavior and demographics of your current customers, you can improve your online presence and business offerings to better attract new customers.

Not only is online presence beneficial, it is necessary for the growth and success of your small business. When was the last time you blindly bought services or products from a business without a quick Google search? How often do poorly designed websites and negative reviews deter you from a business? Don’t get left behind, build your presence online!

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Inbound Marketing: Where are my results?

When you own a business, it’s not enough to be good at what you do. Having the best products or services means nothing without a customer base. In the digital age, marketing your business means having a strong online presence to attract customers. This is known as inbound marketing. Unlike outbound marketing where you’re pushing your message out to as many people as possible, inbound marketing is designed to attract customers that are in the market for your product or service. These organic leads will help your business grow and reduces wasted ad budget.

But how long will inbound marketing take to produce results? Building a customer base through inbound marketing is similar to building a house. At first it may seem overwhelming and it won’t look like much, but with the right tools, an experienced team, and the right amount of time, you can build something dependable that will last.

Depending on the type of inbound marketing, results may show as early as 3-4 months after implementing your strategy. However, the more time you allow your inbound marketing to work, the more results you will see.

The general timeline for initial results from inbound marketing is around 6 months. The goal in this time frame is to get found, convert, and analyze. Use marketing to help your future customers find you. Use your sales team and tactics to convert shoppers into customers. Then analyze your marketing strategy and adjust based on results.

Let’s take a look at the timelines for common inbound marketing strategies:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO marketing strategies are known to be very effective but can take longer to produce results. However, once you begin seeing results and showing up on the first page of results on Google, you will find that your customer base will quickly grow too!

1-2 months Technical Repairs: SEO begins with repairing technical aspects of your site (page speed, alt tags, image captions, and much more). If these items aren’t fixed, Google’s algorithms won’t be inclined to show your site on the first page (or first ten pages) of results.

3-4 months On-site and Off-site Repairs: Google wants to show industry experts on the first page of results, so we prove to Google that you are an expert in your field. This is done by correcting and adding content to your site in the form of blogs and static content. This content contains all the keywords that are being searched for when customers are looking for your business. Internal and external link building is also imperative to this process and takes place in this timeframe.

5-6 months Analyze and Optimize: As monthly technical repairs and site content building continues, we’ll analyze your results to see which keywords are helping your business, and which ones still need work. By this time, you’ll start to see tangible results.

PPC (pay-per-click) Online Advertising

PPC is known as a faster alternative to SEO, but you will only get results as long as you’re paying to run ads.

1-2 weeks Initial Campaign: Once your initial PPC campaign is built, Google will be in “learning” mode. The search engine will be assigning your ads a Quality Score based on how shoppers interact with your ads and landing page.

1-2 months Campaign Optimization: the results from the first two weeks will give us enough information to understand how to tailor your ads to your target customers. Each industry and each business is different!

3-6 months Analyzing Strategy: Your ads will need to continually be monitored and optimized based on the many factors of the business world – seasonality, competitors, etc. Continue optimizing your ads based on the previous month’s results and your results will be positively impacted!

Social Media Marketing

Being active across multiple social media platforms is an important inbound marketing strategy! Stay active and engaging and the customers will continue to visit your social pages. Share positive reviews, post contests, and be personable! This is the perfect place to connect with your customers and give your business a personality. Followers (and customers) will grow exponentially, meaning slowly at first then more rapidly each month.

Website Presence and Online Listings

Having a strong website and being present on online listing directories go hand-in-hand. Depending on the needs of your business, a proper website build can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks. Once your website is live, spread the word!

Make sure your website domain and other important business information is correct across the web, anywhere a customer may find you. Most importantly, claim and optimize your search engine listings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo (what we like to call the Big 3).

1-2 months Website and Big 3: Build and perfect your website. Claim, optimize, and verify your Big 3 search engine listings.

2+ months Growth: Each month your online citations will continue to grow. As there are always new sites populating, your citations could theoretically continue to grow forever. Aim to correct your citations on review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor) and resource sites (BBB, Chamber of Commerce) first.

Remember that no two business are the same, so each timeline is a rough estimate. Many factors could affect how quickly an inbound marketing strategy will show results: industry segment, products, services, location, and even the customer service of your employees. Inbound marketing will take some time to prove results, but those results will last. Make the most of your marketing resources with inbound marketing!