How to Design a Website for a Small Business

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Simply having a website is no longer an option for you to remain competitive – your website needs to stand out. But with the variety of website builders, templates, and features available, it can be challenging to know what will work best. Here are five easy-to-follow steps when designing a website for your small business that will create winning results.

Step #1: Choose the Right Website Building Platform

WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, and GoDaddy. When it comes to building a website, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is choosing a website builder. And there are plenty of options out there – all with their own pros and cons.

Selecting the right website builder for your business comes down to evaluating your website goals. Are you looking for a quick, simple-to-use platform and don’t plan on growing your business? The drag and drop user interfaces on Squarespace or GoDaddy may be great options for you – but offer limited features.

Want something that offers extensive designs and customizations but requires a little more of a learning curve? WordPress (what we most often use – and for good reason) is your best bet.

Step #2: Invest in Great Copy

Sure, your website needs to be user-friendly and eye-catching, but what’s even more important?

The words found on the pages.

Having strong search engine optimized content helps your website rank on search engines and drives organic traffic to your site. Your content is what informs readers of your business’s offerings and helps convince them to contact you for more information, become a loyal brand follower, or – even better – purchase your product or service.

Poor copywriting does the opposite. It can quickly drive traffic away from your site (and to your competitors), lower your SEO rankings, and hurt your brand image.

When working with small business owners on limited budgets, we always suggest, at the minimum, investing in copywriting. The website design is easier to DIY than the content, which typically creates the conversion.

Step #3: Make It Stand Out

Your website needs to be aesthetically appealing, but also user-friendly. So when it comes to creating an eye-catching design, put yourself in the shoes of your customer.

With your traffic spending only 50 milliseconds to form a first impression of your business, no detail is too small to overlook. Does your website load correctly on mobile devices? Research shows that as of 2017, mobile has taken the lead as the global source of traffic. What about your layout – is it easy to navigate? Users want to find the information they need on your site quickly; otherwise, they may move on to your competitor’s website instead.

Security also needs to be paramount – and is especially important for businesses that are accepting payments online. Ensure your site has the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protocol. If it doesn’t, website traffic will receive a “Not Secure” warning and be given the option to proceed to your site. Most of the time, they won’t want to take that risk.

Other tips for creating an amazing website design include integrating a modern look, matching your branding to your site, and using professional photography rather than stock images.

Step #4: Integrate SEO Strategies

Whether you’re working on your website design or copy, search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be a priority. This is typically where things start to get more confusing.

SEO is what helps your website rank on Google and other search engines. Regularly, Google changes its search algorithm – or the process used for ranking websites. This means that completing SEO is never done; it requires constant work to have your website rank and continue to rank.

Both your website’s design and content play key roles in creating a solid SEO foundation. On-page SEO factors include title tags, headings, URL structure, page load speed, and internal linking. The copy on your site should integrate keywords that your target audience is searching on Google and include helpful, relevant, and valuable information.

To help improve your rankings, you should make changes or updates to your site’s design and content regularly. Doing so flags Google to come back to your site and re-evaluate your site’s position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Step #5: Trust the Professionals

As a small business owner, you’re well known for your versatility – and it’s no surprise why. Daily, you constantly face new challenges such as managing a product shipment delay, proactively handling a customer service complaint, or dealing with a bylaw issue. For many of your challenges, you must figure out solutions on your own. But that’s not true when it comes to building your website.

If you find it difficult to create your own small business’s website, you can always hire an expert. Sometimes, the time to learn a new skill – especially one as extensive as website design and copywriting – is not available to you as an already busy business owner. And even if you do manage to find the time, the result will likely not be as effective when compared to a professional creating it for you. So why not save yourself time, stress, and disappointment by hiring a website expert from the start?

At Sarah McKenzie Copywriting and Web Design, we act as your one-stop-shop when designing a website for your small business. From completing the design or copywriting to launching an entirely new website, we’ve got your website needs covered.

Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about our services as Toronto copywriters and website designers.

Copywriting 101: Everything You Should Know About Writing Your Best Copy

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When done right, copywriting has the potential to take your business to a whole new level. Stellar copy helps you build your brand image and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Search engine optimization (SEO) rankings can improve, leading to more clicks on Google. You can also use it to create customer loyalty and a reputation as an industry expert.

And for those business owners wondering how copywriting can affect their bottom lines? The results can be monumental! Great copy can persuade readers to take action, generate more leads, and increase sales.

To achieve any of these outcomes, you first need to have a solid understanding of what copywriting’s all about. In this guide, we’ll start with reviewing the basics – a copywriting definition, copywriting job description, and copywriting skills, before delving into what copywriting in marketing can do for your business. Let’s get started!

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Why Content Marketing Is Important for Your Business

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How often do you post to social media? Write new blog articles? Create fresh content for your email distribution list?

If you’re like many other small business owners, content marketing is something that’s squeezed into your day – often at the last minute (or sometimes not at all). And it’s no surprise why. Continuously coming up with suitable content to publish and distribute takes time and energy, neither in abundance as a small business owner.

But what if there was a way to write, design, and make great content for your target audience that will generate results – and is doable, no matter how busy you are?

Enter: a content marketing strategy.

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5 Reasons to Refresh Website Copywriting

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For most business owners, your website is your best marketing tool. You use it to attract new traffic from Google, provide further information about your products and services, and direct social media traffic. But only a great website can achieve these goals.

Website design and functionality are important – super important. Without them, brand image, user experience, and marketing metrics can suffer. But in the end, they don’t matter much if web traffic isn’t receiving the information they need from your site – and what makes that happen is effective copywriting.

Wondering if your website copywriting is working as hard as it can be for you? Here are five of the biggest reasons to consider updating your website content.

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4 Benefits of Using WordPress As Your Website Platform

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Unless otherwise requested, we build all of our clients’ websites using WordPress. We’re such strong supporters that we’ve even designed our site using it! Here are some of the major benefits of choosing WordPress as your website platform.

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The Biggest Challenges Faced with Copywriting – and How to Fix Them

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Tell me, how many times has the following happened to you?

After you realize your blog or website needs a refresh, you’re excited to get started. But then you sit down in front of your computer, ready for the creative juices to flow.

Except they don’t.

Instead, you start to feel overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated…eventually leading you to give up. An up-to-date blog or website isn’t that important, you tell yourself.

Except it is.

To see results, a lot of strategizing needs to go into each piece of content that you publish. What topic should you write about? What needs to be done to keep your readers engaged until the end of the article? How should search engine optimization (SEO) be completed for optimal results?

Just like you, we sometimes face roadblocks when writing fresh content, too. The good news for us is that we also know the best way to overcome them! Here are some of the biggest challenges you may face while completing copywriting – as well as our suggested solutions.

Lack of Fresh Content

To keep both visitors and search engine web crawlers coming back to your website, you need to be publishing new content regularly. Consider what is currently being searched on search engines and plan strategic blog and website copy using that information. Otherwise, your content’s not going to rank well (or at all) and your copywriting efforts go to waste.

But knowing what to write about can be tricky! First, you need to have a complete understanding of your brand: What is it that you offer? Why is it important? Who does it appeal to? Spend some time researching your competitors, too – how are they targeting the same audience as you?

Showcase how your product or service can help your target market. Research your customer persona to understand their needs and wants so that you can address them throughout your writing.

Next, decide on your brand’s voice – what writing tone do you want to be used throughout your content? First-person or third-person point of view? Choosing the best one depends on your industry and your target audience.

Then, complete keyword research. Find out what questions and queries are being searched by your target market and brainstorm engaging topics around key terms. In short, solve your target audience’s problems by creating relevant, timely content that answers their questions.

The Solution

Even though you may feel like you’ve run out of new ideas, always ensure that your copywriting never includes plagiarized content. Outsource your copywriting if you’re having difficulty brainstorming fresh topics.

Lack of SEO

You’ve been investing money, time, and energy into your company’s website for a certain reason. More than likely, your goal is to gain better visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs), drive more traffic to your site, and get that traffic to take some form of action. SEO techniques help make that happen.

There are two types of SEO – on-page and off-page. On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing web page content to gain traffic from search engines. Everything from page load speed and proper headline formatting to URL structure and internal linking should be used effectively to increase your site’s on-page SEO.

The act of overusing keywords in content writing (otherwise known as keyword stuffing) was once a successful on-page SEO technique. Now, it can actually produce negative results for a website. Instead, Google favours high-quality, useful content that provides an audience with the answers they’re looking for. Although keywords should still be included, they need to be intertwined naturally throughout your copy.

Off-page SEO refers to the work that’s done off your website to improve its ranking with search engines. Link building is one of the biggest examples of off-page SEO. Other examples include strategic guest blogging, social media marketing, and influencer marketing.

The Solution

The world of SEO changes regularly, so you need to remain up-to-date on best practices. When it comes to writing your website’s content, place importance on creating a great user experience rather than using black hat tactics such as keyword stuffing.

Lack of Proofreading

No matter how well you write, there is always a need for proofreading. First impressions are important and website content that has spelling, grammar, and syntax errors quickly makes a poor one. Plus, these types of errors can make you appear lazy or uncaring about your website’s appearance – when you’re anything but.

Poorly written content can quickly confuse your audience, distracting them from the meaning of your message. Using the wrong word or incorrect punctuation can create misinformation, too, which can lead to missed business opportunities.

Mistakes in your writing are not only unprofessional, but they can make your copy appear as being untrustworthy. And since building brand authority is one of the biggest reasons for blog writing, why would you skip this important step?

The Solution

Although it’s tempting (especially if you’re in a rush to get a piece published), never proofread your copy the same day you create it. Reviewing your writing with fresh eyes can detect more mistakes compared to editing it right after its creation. Even better, have a trusted employee, friend, or family member take a look at it, too. It’s sometimes surprising what your own eyes can miss!

There are many different spell check and grammar programs available (some even free) which are a great place to start when editing your work. But don’t rely on these programs completely for your editing. Although some of the software is quite good, no computer program is perfect. If spelling, grammar and/or punctuation aren’t your strengths, consider hiring a professional copywriter to ensure you only ever publish error-free, quality work.

The Bottom Line

Writing effective content that resonates with your audience and ranks well on SERPs takes a lot of time, skill, and commitment. However, it’s worth the hard work! When done well, copywriting can produce some pretty amazing benefits for your business.

Having difficulty overcoming some of the copywriting challenges discussed in this article? Hire our freelance Toronto copywriters to take care of this important task for you.

4 SEO Tips for Writing a Great Blog Post

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When you hear the words keyword research, backlinking opportunities, meta descriptions and URL structures, do they sound like a foreign language?

As complicated as it may seem, search engine optimization (SEO) is what helps your blog receive the web traffic it deserves. Use our following SEO tips for writing a great blog post!

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Time Management Strategies to Use When Blog Writing

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When you first start your company’s blog, you’re excited! It’s easy to come up with a topic to write about and finding an appropriate image to match the post isn’t a problem.

However, in only a matter of months– or maybe even weeks – you start to realize that blog writing is more difficult than you initially thought. Your well of topics has started to dry up and writing an article is taking you much longer than anticipated.

Sometimes, when the article finally gets completed, you aren’t even sure that anyone else will read it. Even so, you decide to publish it since you don’t want to start over.

Before you give up entirely on your blog writing endeavour, why not hit the refresh button? Use the following time management strategies when writing your company’s blog.

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How to Start a Blog for Your Business

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Housework, exercise and meal prep: For many people, starting is often the most challenging part. Once the procrastination is over, the task typically becomes easier to accomplish.

The same goes for blog writing for your business. In the beginning, it may seem like a daunting mission. But once you make the effort to begin, blog writing isn’t all that bad.

Wondering how to start a blog for your business in the first place? The tips below can help!

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The Top 5 SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid Doing

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Sure, it’s important to know what you should be focussing on in your SEO strategy, but what’s equally (or possibly even more) important is knowing what you should be avoiding. The world of SEO is tricky – even for us professionals. If you do something that makes Google unhappy, it can be really hard to prove your website worthy of importance again. The best way to stop that from happening in the first place? Avoid the following five SEO mistakes.

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