How much does a website cost?

“How much does a website cost?” It appears to be a straightforward enough question right? You ask the web developer how much you need to develop the website, and then you factor in hosting costs – is that the true cost of your website?

The truth is that a single ‘website quote’ is virtually impossible. Anyone who claims that they can offer the same price based on a number of pages is not looking at the specific needs of your website. The fact is that you get what you pay for. Some companies have generic websites that look the same as dozens, possibly hundreds of other websites. The only thing that those developers change is the text, the logo, color scheme, and name of the company.

Your website is part of your service – not a product

The first thing to remember is that your website is not a standalone product. This is part of your service. Your website cannot be something separate from everything else that you offer. As such, it is important that we look at it from this perspective. The continued time and effort spent on building a website is not working towards a finished product – it is about improving your service. As such, it needs to adapt, change, this can be difficult to bill.

It takes planning to build a website

You could have a website in 15 minutes for less than $100. This is true. That website would also likely drive customers away. If you want a website that is tailored to your specifications, that matches the needs of your customers, you need to give the developer the time it takes to do this.

You could rush the project, which usually leads to usability issues down the road. Again, go back to the initial assessment of your website – ‘it is a service, not a finished product’. You would not accept your customer service representatives not answering a question ten percent of the time – why would you accept this for your website?

Yes, it is possible to go with an affordable company that no one has heard of before. They may do a good job. However, there is a reason that some of the well-known companies charge a lot of money for website design. They not only provide quality products, but you are buying peace of mind with the knowledge that they cannot afford to deliver shoddy work.

Factors that determine cost

If you are going to think about your website, you have to remember that your website design budget is seriously impacted by a number of factors. If you want a ‘basic’ website, it would cost a lot less than having a website that is considered technologically advanced. Consider these following factors:

  • Are you getting a brand new website or redesigning an existing one?
  • What is your level of preparedness? Do you have the specific requirements for your website?
  • Do you want to add content management functionality (CMS) or a blog?
  • What about the graphics for the website? Are these from scratch or do you have them?
  • Will your website use responsive design? (meaning it automatically resizes for mobile and tablets)
  • Is it just the website design or does it include special features such as ecommerce, SEO, and social media channels?
  • After launch, who is responsible for maintaining your website?

What you have to remember

If your website is going to be an important factor in getting people to buy your product or service, you cannot try to pinch pennies on the design and development portion of your website. You would not expect a completed brick and mortar store for $5,000 …you should not expect unreasonable rates for your website design.

Google Tag Manager – Should You Use It?

Should you use Google Tag Manager? seoWorks AU is telling it all and letting you know why you should be using it for your site…

When Google announced Google Tag Manager, there were a number of people extremely excited about the prospect of seamlessly implementing tracking tags and managing them on their site. Those who were not as excited did not know what Google Tag Manager was – because it is an extremely powerful tool that is worth using.

Tag management software used to be a paid service, and there are a number of companies that are not very happy with Google for making this available for free. We are going to delve into the details of Google Tag Manager and let you know why you should be using it for your site.

Back to basics – what are tags?

The first thing that we have to do before we can talk about Google Tag Manager is figure out what it does. Tags are JavaScript commands (small lines of code) that are embedded into some or all pages of your website. Third party software (Omniture, AdWords, Google Analytics, and many more affiliate software) use those tags to increase that software’s functionality on your site; whether it’s for tracking, reporting, or getting information about user’s behaviour with your pages.

What does the task manager do?

The task manager provides a quick overview of all your tags. This makes it easy to manage, deploy, and configure your tags; rending the process more efficient and ultimately saving you money. Because you usually have to deploy tags across multiple pages, it is a risky, expensive, cumbersome, and slow process – you need to make sure the rights tags are firing on the right pages and in the right order; and tag updates can quickly become a nightmare. Because of that, most companies tend to apply the ‘set and forget’ method and then leave their tags to become outdated.

Surely a website can run without tags – but then you are missing on crucial information from your users and not getting the best out of the third party software you have implemented or subscribed to. Rather than implementing tags one by one and making it a lengthy risky process, here are 4 immediate benefits you will get by implementing Google Tag Manager on your website today:

Benefit #1 – You can adapt faster

Most business owners have to rely on their web developers to deploy new tags. Sometimes this can take a day or two, otherwise it may take weeks, possibly even months before they are able to make these updates. By using Google Tag Manager, you are utilising an intuitive web based control panel. This means that you can make changes in minutes. You only use the web interface, no need for developers after the initial implementation, and no need for coding.

Ultimately, this allows you to move faster. If you want to introduce a specific last minute deal for this weekend only and track how it is performing, you can do so quickly. Simply add the tag via the interface of Google Tag Manager and you are up and running. Once Monday rolls around you simply remove the tag and everything is back to normal.

Benefit #2 – You get a faster website

Because synchronous individual tags can take forever to load, they could slow down your pages considerably. Most customers are not happy with a slow website. Especially in a competitive environment, it is likely that your customers are going to see what your competitors have to offer if your website is slow.

By using Google Tag Manager, you have all your tags grouped in a single location and firing asynchronously which means independently from one another – if one is slower to load than usual, others are not waiting in queue before firing up; they load at the same time.

On top of that, all your tags are visible from the same location which means that you have a quick overview of all the tags on your site at once. This makes it far less likely that you are going to ‘miss’ an irrelevant tag which may just end up lingering for no reason at all.

Benefit #3 – Consistency

In order to work properly, a tag needs to be in the right place at the right time. If you have a non-functioning tag on your website (or say no Google Analytics tag at all on a specific section of your site), chances are that third-party tools will come back with incomplete data.

Here Google Tag Manager helps as well. Once you know that Google Tag Manager is managing every page of your website, you can be sure that adding a site-wide tag in Google Tag Manager means that every page of your site has that specific tag on it. You can also quickly decide which tag is going to run on specific pages.

Benefit #4 – You are in control

Once you have deployed a number of tags, it may feel as though the tags are running your website instead of you being in control. When you are able to manage your tags easily (instead of having to go through thousands of pages to de-tag and re-tag again), you are back in control of the decision-making process. This means that you are capable of making choices that are best for your business instead of what might ‘upset’ the tags.

It should be obvious that having Google Tag Manager can be an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to regain the direction of his or her website. Especially at its current price (FREE!), there really is nothing on the market that can give this Google powerhouse a run for its money. So should you use it? The answer is an emphatic YES.

Big Data Goes Social – How to Digest and Interpret Your Socially Generated Data – 2/2

This is part 2 of a 2 part series on Big Data and Social. First post was published last week.

It is important to understand that there is a person behind the information that you receive with socially generated data.

Those companies who refuse to accept that these are people who have specific wants and needs, hopes and dreams, are going to be unable to make the most of the information. If you want to be able to serve your customers better, socially generated data is one of the best ways of doing so.

3. Information and expertise

You can help your customers make their purchasing decision, help them discover products and services – this is one way of adding value by offering expertise. You could have knowledgeable staff members who have specific information to help with questions, or you could provide information through video guides, brochures, demonstrations, and displays.

Local shopkeepers made it their business to know more about their customer. This was the way that they could make the customer feel welcome, to make them feel as though their input ‘mattered’. This is a very difficult experience to replicate if you are a large company who deals with people throughout the world – until now. The social data is going to give you more information about your customers than ever before. This can work in a number of different ways:

  • Staff enablement – Say that a customer walks into an electronics store, it would be great to have an idea of the level of technical expertise that this person has. You do not want to be condescending to someone who has extensive technical knowledge but you certainly do not want to intimidate someone with jargon if that customer has no idea what you mean.
  • Customising online channels – If you know the shopping habits of your clients, it is possible to modify their page views depending on the customer profile that you have available.
  • Customise recommendations and coupons – We will use the example of supermarkets giving customer specific recommendations. If you know that a customer is a vegetarian, it does not make any sense for them to receive recommendations about the latest special on lamb shanks. It also would not make sense for them to receive a coupon for a 2-for-1 ground beef special.

4. Price and efficiency

Face it, there is no one who does not like lower prices. By adding efficiency and utilising smarter operations, it is possible to save money. This means that these savings can be passed onto the customers.

Retailers could know more about the demands of their customers, follow trends, and predict demands by using social data. By being aware of the demands and being ahead of the curve, it is possible to generate larger savings.

5. Customer service

Most people realise that customer service is inherently important. It is possible that the level and quality of customer service (or the lack thereof) can change a customer’s entire perception. The intelligent use of social data can help improve your customer service level without adding a great deal of costs.

It is possible to monitor social media and make changes where necessary (by being aware of the discussion) or you can actively engage with your customers in open dialogue.

6. Customer segmentation

If you want to be able to serve a customer, you have to know and understand them at an individual level. You can move beyond the basics of demographic information by using gathered social data. For example, just because two people are 30 years old, female, and living in Melbourne does NOT mean that they are interested in the same thing.

You can get a better understanding of how to serve and market your customers by analysing their social profiles. Based on social data it is possible to determine what the best and most effective promotional efforts might be.

What are you doing with your data?

Now that you have seen the benefits, it is important that you ask yourself whether your company truly utilises social data or just gathers it for the sake of ‘having it’. Customers are willingly giving you this type of information, but it is up to you to decide what to do with it.

Big Data Goes Social – How to Digest and Interpret Your Socially Generated Data – 1/2

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Big Data and Social. Next post will be published next week.

There is an increased call for gathering social data. It appears to be one of those keywords that you hear at every conference; most websites tell you that you should be gathering the social data of current and prospective customers where possible.

So now that you have the data…what do you do with it? This is the issue that most business owners are struggling with. You have gathered the data, but you have no way of knowing how to use it. This two part series is going to discuss how you can use your social data and the difference that it can make for your customers.

What is next?

You have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps other social media entities. What can you do next? What can you do to provide benefits for yourself and your customer? Establishing the value of your social data can be broken down into six different dimensions. These include convenience, product selection, information and expertise, price and efficiency, customer service, and customer segmentation.

In order to create value, you are likely focused on one (or a few) different dimensions in order to establish value for your company and differentiate yourself from the competition.

1. Convenience

You want to address the needs of your customers – this is convenience in a nutshell. For some retailers, convenience is the primary factor that sets them apart from their competition. A customer may go to a specific store because they have the products that they want, or because it is close by. This despite the fact that there may be (superior) options that are just not as convenient.

You can use the social data that you have gathered to make shopping more convenient for the customer. The data can make a difference during each step of the shopping process.

It can mean remembering specific important dates (think anniversaries) that you can immediately link to the user’s significant other’s wish list on Amazon. You can provide an enhanced and convenient shopping experience by forecasting possible wants and needs and come up with a solution before the customer ever realises the problem.

2. Product selection

If you offer products your customer wants, needs and prefers; you are adding value to the customer for shopping with you. If the customer wants affordable food options, they go to a low-end supermarket. If they want organic, high-quality products, they may shop at a specialised store.

This has to do with the brand image of the retailer and the needs of the target market. By using the social data that you gather, it is possible to offer products that directly meet the needs of your target audience.

This is possible through inference or observance. For example, if you made clothing, you could pay attention to what is trending on Pinterest to see what the latest fashion trends are. Meanwhile, you can also deduce information about the preferences and tastes of your customers by analysing their interests and social activities.

Join us next week for the second and last part of this 2 part series on Big Data and Social.

7 Different Reasons You Should Be Active On Google+

We can no longer ignore social media. Wait let us rephrase that, you can ignore social media if you do not want to make money or would prefer your business to be seen as ‘outdated’.

When it comes to where to develop your social media profile, you have a number of different options. Sure, you can focus on Facebook or Tweet to your hearts content, but Google+ may be the place where you should focus your efforts.

It is true that Google+ has not received a lot of praise over the last few years. Especially considering that it is a Google product, it is strange to see it ‘fly under the radar’ as much as it has. When it comes to Google+’s value as a social media marketing platform, it is criminally undervalued and underrated. You probably know the power of Facebook, now allow us to show you the power of Google+.

Facebook is still King – but Google Plus is catching up

Despite the fact that Facebook makes up 70% of account ownership, Google+ is certainly bringing in a lot of new traffic. Every month there are a thousand million who go to Google. Google+ is the second most actively used social network, has active users in 31 different markets, and has more than 318.4 million active users. Do not let people make Google+ out to be some empty vessel.

The number of photos is crazy

If you have a website with many images, you should look into hosting some of your content on Google+. Every week users upload more than 1.5 billion photos onto Google+. This probably includes all photos — including ones uploaded automatically for backup storage and uploaded privately, but it is an impressive number nonetheless.

It keeps growing and growing

The Google community is growing faster than ever before. Sure, this has something to do with the YouTube integration, but the increase in the number of videos uploaded is 20 times what it was before. Despite the fact that Google+ did not get the impressive start it may have deserved, it is certainly making up for lost time.

The numbers are not far behind

If we compare Facebook and Google+, most skeptical people will have a laugh and assume that Facebook has to be the dominant party. However, while Facebook had 1.15 billion registered users as of September 2013, Google+ had 1.01 billion registered users. Compare that to the 70 million registered users at Pinterest, the 150 million registered users on Instagram and the 500 million users on Twitter, and you may begin to see a pattern.

People are flocking towards Google+

While Facebook is receiving nothing but complaints in the last year or so, near 800,000 people sign up for Google+ every month. This is very much a growing network and you have the option to be present early on.

Make sure to click your +1

Google understands how important recommendations from friends and family are. This is why they made is extremely easy to share or promote content with others online. In fact, they have made it so easy that people are now clicking the button more than 4 billion times a day.

You do not want to be left out

We do not believe in business peer pressure, but there is a good chance that you will be seen as outdated if you are not on social media. About 70 percent of all brands have a presence on Google+. Why not be present where your customers and competitors are already engaging each other?

10-Step Checklist For Your Website Redesign

Some people will say “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” – but the truth is that this is inaccurate when it comes to your website…

Every once in a while, you need to redesign your website. Perhaps you need to renovate the site to make it look modern, perhaps you are moving to a new Content Management System, or perhaps you are rebranding your product or business. Whatever the reason is, a website redesign is ultimately inevitable.

Depending on your efforts, your new design could be a terrible failure or a massive success. In order to help you with this process and ensure that you get the website that you need, we have our checklist that takes you through these ten steps of the redesign process.

Step #1 – Determine your current metrics

Before you do anything, you need to know your current performance metrics. How would you measure the success of a redesign if you have nothing to compare it to? This includes:

  • Your current SEO rankings of keywords that matter to you
  • Average time spent on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Unique visitors
  • Total sales generated from your website

Step #2 – Determine your goals for the website

Even if just don’t like the way your website looks, you will still need a good reason for a redesign. If you just want to redesign your website because ‘you have not done it in a while’ that does not give you any measurable success. Instead, focus on goals that you want to achieve and go from there. You may need to look at the aforementioned performance metrics and see where you want to improve.

Step #3 – Inventory your assets

While you may improve your marketability with a redesign, there are many ways that it may hurt your company. Remember that your current website is an asset, one you have been building for a long time. If you start removing pages that were very popular without replacing them, you may notice that your SEO results drop.

Step #4 – Have a look at the competition

No, obsessing about your competitors is not going to help you. Nevertheless, it is nice to know how you compare to the rest of your market. You can compare their websites to yours and determine what you like. HOWEVER, this does NOT mean that you just copy them. Instead, take what you like from them, and see if you can improve on it.

Step #5 – Understand your Unique Value Proposition

People do not simply come to your website because they are bored. They need to know what it is you offer. What is the reason that they should spend time on your website instead of going to your competitors? This helps people determine how to communicate with your website.

Step #6 – Design your website around others

Remember that if you are selling a product or service, your website is not just about you. Your visitors are preoccupied with the question of what is in it for them. When you try to put yourself in their shoes, you are creating a buyer persona – a fictional representation of your ideal customers. These are based on actual online behavior and real customer demographics along with some educated speculation about their personal concerns, motivations, and histories. You do not have to limit yourself to a single buyer persona. Your website is the perfect way to address different personas. Just offer content in such a way that it may relate to each of them.

Step #7 – Get your SEO in order

Remember that metrics matter. Yes, we would rather have two paying customers than 100 browsers, but that does not mean that SEO is not important. Make sure that you do some research on what the best way to drive traffic to your website is. What are your customers searching for online?

Step #8 – Develop your call to action

These elements on your site drive your visitors to take action. Whether this means buying a product, contacting your sales staff, or downloading a file. You do not just want your website to be bland information. Your site needs to engage your customers. Some of the potential opportunities include:

  • Contact us for more information/ a free consultation
  • A free trial
  • Email newsletter subscriptions
  • Direct purchase of a product
  • Contest and promotions
  • EBooks and whitepapers

Step #9 – Have an ongoing content strategy

Once you have your website, you do not just want it to sit there. You need more information (provided it’s valuable) because it is going to lead to more traffic. Maybe you can include some public relations information, perhaps you start a blog that helps establish you as an expert in your field. Whatever you do, do not let your website become stagnant.

Step #10 – Go beyond basic

You need to think beyond the basics. You need more than then a ‘hello’, product page, and contact us page. Start a blog, have your calls-to-action, create landing pages for your products allow others to increase the reach of your content by adding a RSS subscription. The point is, do not allow yourself to be a bland, easily forgotten site. The web is already filled with those.

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