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Stop letting your Competitor Win; Unveil your Company’s Online Curb Appeal with These 4 Secrets

(WARNING: If you’re not a reader, click here to instantly view the four secrets to creating an unmatched online curb appeal! If you’re new to this, we encourage you to keep reading.)

Be honest with yourself for a minute. 

Have you ever wondered why your competitor’s website is more successful than yours?

Well… There’s a reason for that. They are doing something that you are not.

That’s a loaded question considering that means you have to look at your website and its downfalls. Most people struggle with gaining traffic, attracting reviews, or securing sales. If you can relate to those struggles, you may have already tried to justify why you don’t have consistent traffic to your website. You might feel as though you have tried everything possible and your competitor is still beating you. Does this sound familiar? In this scenario, you should be thinking, “What are they doing that I am not doing?” because the answer is simple. 

People cannot visit your website if they cannot find it on the internet. By that I mean, your business needs to “pop up” when they search for you. For example, let’s say that you own a coffee business named Coffee Craze. If a consumer searches “Best coffee places near me” and Coffee Craze does not show up, then how do you expect your customers to find you? That might seem like a wild accusation, but it is equal to buying a house and expecting everybody to know where it is, without you mentioning it. You might even be thinking, “Well, wait. Why didn’t my business show up?”. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that later.

What if I told you that the reason you are not gaining traction to your website is that your online presence is virtually nonexistent. You might be thinking, “That is so untrue! I post to social media every day!” or “I have a website… doesn’t that count?”

The answer is no. You are not doing enough. If there is one thing you can do for yourself, it is to recognize that your company’s Curb Appeal is the most important part of your business and you are neglecting it. 

No, I am not talking about the visual aesthetic of the building that your business resides in. Let me explain.

Nowadays, only utilizing a web hosting provider is not enough. You need an online presence and marketing plan that will ultimately “revamp” your company’s curb appeal. I can already tell that you are wondering, “Okay, why is this important?”. 

You might recognize the term Curb Appeal as the initial appeal of a property to prospective buyers. For example, you visit a coffee shop and the first things you notice are the lights strung above the outdoor tables, the plants in the window, and the trendy aesthetic of the building. It is fair to say that the first thing that caught your eye was the external appeal of the building! It would be difficult not to be mesmerized by an appeal that piques your interest. Although a company’s exterior appeal is important, that is not what we are talking about. Your company’s Curb Appeal has nothing to do with the external attractiveness of your business property. Instead, it focuses on the attractiveness of your business’s online presence.

Your online presence ultimately determines how successful your business will be. 

Let’s keep the vision going. Imagine that a consumer searches “Coffee shops near me” on their internet browser. Behind the scenes, Google is compiling several options and lists them at the top of the page for them. The first thing the consumer sees is your competitor topping the page with numerous five-star reviews. Meanwhile, your coffee shop is nowhere to be found. After looking through the reviews and ratings, the consumer is sold and searches directions to your competitor’s coffee shop. You just lost a sale because your business did not show up in the search results. Wait a second… How did that even happen? Cases like these are exactly why your online presence makes or breaks your business. 

We have heard it all before: You cannot have success without failure. Letting your competitor steal your customers is a temporary failure for your company. You cannot let your competitor “out-business” you. Success takes time and patience. But, it’s not very often that the keys to success are literally handed to you.

If you have not yet picked up on it, you need much more than just a website to be successful as a business. As I said before, it is just like having a house and expecting everyone to know where it is without you telling them. If you gain anything from this article, let it be the value of having an active online presence. An online presence will allow you to stay relevant, consistent, and easily accessible.  

To be honest, we (meaning us here at Hostirian) want to see you succeed. That is why we are sharing with you Four Secrets to an Attractive Website.  These four secrets are your road map to perfecting your company’s Curb Appeal. Follow these four steps and watch your business grow like you have never seen before.

1. List your Business Information Online

Although this may not seem important, it totally is! Your online listings are websites that hold all of your business information, such as your business name, phone number, address, email, and operation hours. Some Online Directories that you might have seen before are 411, CitySpace, Yahoo, Bing, Foursquare, and Alexa. Trust me, there are many more! The key to success is to get into as many online listings as possible and to make sure all of that information is accurate. Only being listed on websites such as City Space or Yahoo is not enough. Your business information needs to be accurate. That piece is so important. The reason for this is so that search engines can trust you.

Let me say it again: The point of online listings is not to attract customers. It is to earn a search engine’s trust. Are you wondering, “Why is it important that a search engine trusts you? Why does that matter?”. It matters because that is how businesses end up at the top of the search results page, or better yet, the Google 3 pack! Below is an example of how your business, Coffee Craze, is displayed on five different online directories. Pay close attention to each listing.

  • 411: Coffee Craze 123-456-7890, 123 Main Street
  • CitySpace: coffee Craze 1234567890, 123 Main Street
  • Yahoo: Coffee craze 123-456-7890, 123 maine street
  • Bing: Coffee Craze Inc. 1234567890, 123 Main St.
  • Alexa: Coffee craze inc. 123-456-7890, 123 main st. 

Do you notice the difference? 

As you can see, the examples above are all inconsistent. There is not one listing that matches the other. This is a problem. If this is what your online listings look like, you might as well kiss the top of the search results page GOODBYE! Search engines, such as Google, will not have any reason to trust you. You cannot expect Google to trust you if you can’t even get your business information to match online. The perfect combination is utilizing the hundreds of online listing websites available and inputting your information correctly on all of them. Choose one consistent way to list your business information and stick with it. 

If you list your information similar to how it looks above, then you will never see your business show up at the top of the search results page. In addition to utilizing the online listings, you also need to make sure that your results are up to date. If you change the information on one listing and not the other, then you have created an inaccurate message. If all of your listings send the same message, then it is easier for search engines to confirm that you are who you say you are! Earlier I mentioned that you should want your business in the Google 3 Pack! It is also known as Google Maps, Google Local Pack, and the Snack Pack! Below is an example of what the Google 3 Pack looks like!

Nearly all searches on Google have local intent. This means that the first three businesses that pop up in Google search results are local businesses. Most people do not scroll past the first three results. In that case, your goal is to get into that Google 3 Pack! A question most asked in this industry is, Where is the best place to hide a dead body? 

Can you guess? 

The best place is on the second page of the search results because nobody looks there! You do not want your website to show up on the second page of results. The takeaway is to make sure your business information is listed on numerous online directories, make sure your information is correct across the board, and that your information is up-to-date.

2. Be Active on Social Media 

There are so many benefits to having a social media account for your business! I could go on for hours about why your business needs a social media account. If you already have some type of social media account, then you need to be more active on it and create a consistent posting schedule. One of the most important things to remember about your business is to make sure that you are where your customers are. Read that again. If your customers are on social media, then you need to be on social media. But let’s be real, it is absolutely ridiculous to think that your customers are not on social media. More than 4 out of 5 Americans have a social media account, which might include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. The easier that you make it for your customers to see you, the more your business will be noticed. 

By sporting your company on social media, you are increasing your brand awareness. People are not on social media to connect with brands that they already know. People are always looking for other businesses to connect with, at least that’s what 60% of Instagram users say! Your social media pages are also establishing your brand as a credible leader. You want your company to be known as the “go-to source of information” on topics that explore your business niche. 

If you still do not think that your social media is important, then hear me out! It is proven that social media will increase your website traffic, help generate leads, and boost sales as long as you have your website link on your social media pages. Social media also gives businesses the opportunity to partner with influencers, which would expand beyond their “normal” audience. Utilizing those social media posts and ads are a simple way to drive traffic to your site. 

What’s interesting to us is that nearly 71% of small business owners manage their own digital marketing. That is a large percentage of small business owners. Are you a part of that statistic? Oftentimes small business owners have so much on their plate that it can be easy to lose sight of their social media and neglect the one thing that really matters. Do you think you are holding yourself back from having a successful business? Social media is so important to maintain because your business can not move forward without it. You need to constantly be inviting more people to explore it. You’ll notice that once you have a solid and active presence on social media, you will start to attract more people to your website.

If you are too tied up in your business to worry about online listings or keeping up with all your social media platforms, then don’t worry! All exceptional web hosting providers offer a marketing and online presence package that will cover online directories, social media, and much more! Basically, they do all of the difficult stuff for you. If you are a business owner with little time on your hands, it is definitely worth looking in to.

3. Leave a POSITIVE First Impression: Have a Website

Whether you recognize it or not, we are always forming first impressions of the people around us. First impressions are so important because they make or break potential friendships, relationships, clients, customers, interviews and so much more. Think of your website as your chance at forming that first impression with the world. Did you know that 75% of consumers admit to judging companies without a website? Consumers are literally forming their first impression of a company based on whether or not they have a website! If you do not have a website, you are neglecting the opportunity to grow and expand. If we were to stick with this “first impressions” metaphor, you would be leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the consumer. Unless you are completely okay with your business not growing, you need a website. 

Have you noticed thus far how each step ties back into having a website? That’s because your website is your home base! It is your most important marketing asset. Without one, it would be difficult to grow your business. In today’s modern world, people turn to Google to research the product they want before they purchase. In fact, 93% of business purchase decisions start with a Google search. If you already have a website, make sure your website is attractive enough so that somebody wants to stop and look at it. Those online directories that we talked about earlier will help your website appear at the top of the search results page.

A website builds trust and credibility with web users, it boosts sales, allows you to tell your story, creates your brand, and improves your chances of being discovered by new customers. 

Although having a website is extremely important, it does not mean that it will automatically bring paying customers to your door. It just improves your chances of drawing in new customers and gives you a platform to push your brand. Without a website, you cannot have an effective call-to-action. (Which, by the way, is SUPER important when getting people to buy your product). 

Want to know something interesting? There are over 40,000 online searches every second. When you consider that number, it is hard to believe that your website won’t be found online! Let’s look at some other statistics. Nearly 30% of consumers will not consider a business without a website. That means, if you did not have a website, 30% of people would not even consider buying from you! Did you also know that Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours a week online? Wait a second… The average American is spending almost an entire day online every week? Ask yourself: How in the world would consumers NOT find your website if you gave them the tools to find it? Consumers expect companies to have an online presence. Fulfill that expectation and grow your business while you’re at it.

4. Ask for Reviews 

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that online reviews are hard to get. What’s even more difficult to get? …Good reviews. The ironic thing is that reviews are essential for your online business. So… if reviews are hard to get, then how does a business go about getting them? 

Studies show that 70 to 80% of people research a company online before making a purchase. Studies also show that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers think that online reviews are important. This means that people will first look at reviews when researching a product online. Reviews, whether good or poor, have a way of spreading quickly to consumers. Reviews are important because you need them to get ratings. 

There are countless other reasons why reviews are important. First of all, reviews are GREAT for social proof. People are more likely to purchase a product if it has been publicly decided that buying that product was a good idea. Social proof has proven to impact sales. In fact, most people read about 7 to 10 reviews before they make a purchase. Reviews make your business more visible, they help build trust, expand the conversation to other social media outlets, aid in consumer decision making, and give you an easy way to start a conversation with a customer about their experience. 

You might be thinking, “What if I already have a website and I’m struggling to get online reviews?” Do not worry. As mentioned at the beginning of this step, getting reviews can be hard. But, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews! Physically asking someone to write a review can go a long way. The truth is, most people are happy to leave a review if you ask them to. Unless a customer had a beyond “normal” experience (meaning an incredible or terrible experience) at a business, they do not think to write one. Do you think about leaving a review for every business you have ever been to? I would venture to say no, but you may think differently. All it takes is a little push and you will have online reviews coming in no time. 

If you don’t feel comfortable asking your customers directly, then encourage them at the bottom of their receipt or through an email. You can also gain reviews by spreading positive things about your business through word of mouth. As we all know, word of mouth travels just as quickly. 

Encouraging consumers to review your business will help expand your company’s reach! Another way to keep those reviews coming is to always respond to them. It does not matter if the customer tore your business apart by detailing their terrible experience or if they wrote a glowing review; it is so important that you respond. If someone left you a good review and you ignored it, that is the equivalent of ignoring someone attempting to give you a high five! That would not be cool, AT ALL!

Here is what you need to know: A 1-star increase results in approximately 9% annual revenue increase. Another interesting fact is that two-thirds of all purchases are made based on what people have read online. So…basically your sales will increase with more positive reviews. Remember, reviews are also FREE Marketing. Cherish your reviews and make your customers feel valued by always responding! They took the time to write it, so don’t leave them hanging!

Sit back and think about your business and the four secrets that I have just shared with you. Do you think your company’s Curb Appeal is as good as it could be? Are you currently implementing any one of these areas into your business’s online presence? 

If you are not actively using these steps to better your online presence, do you now realize why it is important that you need to? Think about what you have done for your website in the past and why it has not been working for you. 

You’ll notice that this whole process is interconnected. When you have an outstanding online presence, your business will be positively impacted in so many different ways. Your online presence is the most important element of a successful business. Reconsider those four secrets that I shared with you. If you can accurately list your business information, be active on social media, leave a positive first impression with your website, and ask for reviews, then you are headed in a great direction.

By investing in your company’s Curb Appeal, you are setting yourself up to grow and expand in ways that you may have never imagined! You are not only doing yourself a favor, but you are also doing your customers a favor. Success takes patience. Your business will not grow and expand overnight. By following these four steps, you are setting yourself up to improve your business and accepting the change that comes with it. Be willing to work hard for that success. It will come sooner than you think. 

Facebook is once again putting the $41 billion computer network industry to shame

Facebook has produced yet another computer network innovation that will once again floor the $41 billion network techindustry.

And Facebook will again share it with the world for free, putting commercial network tech vendors on notice. (We’re looking at you, Cisco).

The new innovation, revealed on Tuesday, is something called Backpack and it’s a second-generation computer switch, the successor to the one it released last year called the 6-Pack that directly challenged tech made by market leader Cisco (and others, like Juniper).

The difference is, the Backpack is way, way faster.

The 6-Pack was a 40G switch, which means it could stream 40G worth a data around a data center network. The Backpack is an 100G optical switch, which means it’s 2.5 times faster, and using fiber optics (aka light) to move data around instead of the traditional and more limited copper wires.

The Backpack is also a companion to the new switch Facebook announced last spring, called Wedge 100. The Wedge 100 is what’s known as a “top of rack” switch, that connects a computer rack of servers to the network. The Backpack then connects all the Wedge 100 switches together. In network jargon this is known as a “network fabric.”

Facebook is attempting to build itself a fully 100G data center and these two pieces get it much of the way there, along with the network equipment it announced last week that put the telecom equipment industry on notice.

Read the Full Story at Businessinsider.com 

Twitter Boostrap 3.3.2 Has Been Released

For those of you currently using Twitter Boostrap in your website, Bootstrap announced version 3.3.2 yesterday! The release is focused on bug fixes, accessibility improvements, and documentation updates. It includes over 300 commits from 19 contributors.

Full details of the 3.3.2 release can be found on their blog post.

Twitter Bootstrap is an HTML, CSS, and JS framework that assists in developing responsive websites. They have lots of examples and great documentation to get you started.

BuiltWithBootstrap.com is a good resource to learn more and stay current on Boostrap. They have website examples and also provide Bootstrap news and tips.

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