Before we start… What is a”winning homepage”? Your homepage is your brand’s welcome mat on the web. People will stop there before crossing the threshold to your website content. They’ll form an impression about who you are, how welcome they are, and how you treat your guests. A winning homepage is one that does a great job with all of those things. Think about the welcome mats of your friends & relatives. There’s your festive aunt who has a personalized mat for each holiday, the dog lover with “Wipe Your Paws” out front, and the sibling who sorely needs to replace their threadbare mat (it’s so useless, you don’t bother wiping your shoes on it!) What does your welcome mat – your website homepage – say about your business? (Pro tip: Be like your aunt!) How do you invite people in? Do you send the right message, drive users deeper into the site, and help qualified visitors do business with you? That’s what a winning homepage does.  Let’s talk about how to make one.

1. Pop Quiz, Hotshot: In 30 Seconds or Less, What Are You?

From the instant a visitor lands on your home page, they work to figure out if they’re in the right place. You need clear statements about who you are, what you do, and why a visitor should care.  The goal is to help qualified visitors stay on the site and move towards an objective, and to help unqualified visitors hit the “back” button. What I’m saying here isn’t new and isn’t different from how newspapers have been drawing in readers for years.  For years, visitors have been wanting instant answers from homepages – Neilsen Norman Group supported this when suggesting a website’s homepage use a One-Sentence Tagline back in 2002! Here are a few websites where you can know what they’re about in 30 seconds or less: “Inbound marketing is complicated. Moz’s software makes it easy.” https://moz.com “Create Surveys, Get Answers.” https://www.surveymonkey.com/ “Design T-shirts Online” http://www.customink.com/

2. Make It Embarrassingly Easy to Get Around

Every website has two goals to achieve – your goals and your user’s goals (and hopefully those are aligned!)  You must know your users goals, then design these areas to help them get what they came for:

  • Make menus easy to locate, easy to read, clearly worded, and don’t use too many menu items.
  • Use sections below the header to highlight specific topics and give calls-to-action.
  • Have an easy-to-find search bar and easy-to-read, accurate search results.
  • Don’t forget to consider all of the devices they might be using to complete a task on your site!

3. Show Them A Company They Can Trust

You know you are an ethical company and your customers know they can trust you, but new visitors don’t unless you give them a reason.  Inc.com’s Jayson Demers sums it up in 11 Simple Tactics to Increase Trust Online: “People do business with those that they like, know, and trust.” New visitors use a variety of signals to tell if you’re trustworthy, including:

  • Well-known symbols like the BBB or Norton logos
  • A lock symbol in the address bar (or an https:// in your domain name indicating an SSL is used on your website)
  • Testimonials from other clients or a list of clients with logos
  • Social links to your other profiles and pages
  • Availability of a Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions page

 


Now you’re on your way to a winning homepage that helps the right visitors get things done on your website.  What other ways are you going to achieve your website goals in 2015?  


 

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Joomla Websites Under AttackIt is common knowledge that there are legions of hackers trying to gain access to websites around the world. It is accepted as part of having a web presence that someone (human or automated) will try to attack your site many, many times each day. We have recently learned of an unusual spike in such events, and wanted to share it with you.

Many websites are built using a content management system such as WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal.  The developers behind these plataforms work hard to fight hackers and spammers from gaining access to your website.  They do a good job of blocking most attempts. Despite their diligent efforts, however, it does happen. This past couple of weeks we have heard from a few colleagues and clients that their websites have been hacked.  All of these sites have been built on the Joomla! CMS platform. This is causing issues ranging from website downtime to complete server failure.  Repairing a site after these hacking events have been very time-consuming, and, in some cases, has involved the need to rebuild the entire website.

As we have been repairing these websites, we have had conversations with industry insiders – reputable internet authorities at the big web hosts – and have been told that Joomla! sites have been specifically targeted and are being hacked at an alarming rate over the past week.  They are not only hacking sites of big companies, but are also attacking sites of companies as small as one or two employees. According to one industry insider, the method of “how to hack” these sites has been published on hacker websites and it’s become a free-for-all among their community.  In short: Your website WILL be hacked.

If your website is built on the Joomla! platform, especially if your site is on a version prior to Joomla 3, it has been at risk, but is now that risk has increased greatly. We strongly recommend that you consider moving your website off the Joomla! platform, and to a more secure CMS.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid a potentially serious issue with your website, or would like to move it to a more secure platform, please call us or contact us now to get started with a website upgrade.

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Do Stock Images Hurt your Website Rankings?

Do Stock Images Hurt Your Website Rankings?

Do Stock Images Hurt Your Website Rankings?

Adding images to your website is a good thing. From the reader’s perspective, images help people connect to your words and add visual interest.

Meanwhile, the SEO industry and web developer community has been questioning whether Search Engines mark you down for using stock images rather than original images.

Matt Cutts, Head of the Webspam Team at Google, recently said that there is neither negative nor positive impact on your organic web rankings if you use stock images rather than original images. See Matt’s 59-second YouTube video.

How Search Engines Read Websites

When you see a picture of a woman laughing, you know she’s heard or seen something funny – because you are human and have eyes. You SEE it. Search Engines – and the screen readers used by the visually impaired – read the code.

There’s a huge difference.

You see images; the search engine sees programming. These are two very distinct and different languages.

It’s a big help to the search engines when you give your images names that relate to the page on which the image is placed. Regardless of whether you are using stock images or your own, naming the images with the keywords for that page will assist in improving your page rank.

If, for example, your web page is about the physical action of laughing, our laughing woman photo would add to Google’s impression of your site if it was laughing woman.jpg, because Google would read that the photo is about the same thing as the page content.

If you load the same image onto your site but it’s called Disc_068743.jpg, Google would scratch its head and say, “Hhmmm… this has nothing to do with laughing,” and consider your web page irrelevant to the reader, and that has a negative impact on your page rank.

The second half of the equation is the “alt” tag you give to the image. This is the text a site visitor sees if something is stopping them from seeing the actual image. Just make sure that whatever you call the photo, you also use for the “alt” tag.

Stock Image or Original, your website rankings will improve when you follow these simple steps.

Let us know how you are doing!

Lucid Business Strategies

Lucid Business Strategies is building a GREAT company that helps other people build GREAT companies.

Learn more about our strategies and services on the Lucid website or call us at

586-254-0095

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Website Liability: Get Smart on Security

website SecurityWith ownership comes liability, whether the thing you own is a house, a car, or a website. Yes, as the owner of a website, you assume liability – but it’s not something to fear.

Just as you take steps to keep your wallet, credit cards, and keys safe, you should keep the computers used to update and manage your website free of viruses and other cyber-threats, and manage the security of your site as well.

Here are a few basic tips, learned through bumps & bruises in my years as a web professional, which can help you be a smarter, safer website owner:

Smart Tip #1:  Any computer used to maintain your website should be a paragon of security.

Any computer used to access your web files needs to be protected – if they’re not, spyware can track your password entries, infect your web files, and more. If you update your site at the office or on a computer at home, or if you have employees who do it on their desktops or laptops or tablets, take the necessary steps to make sure they are ALL protected. Contact your IT professional about virus protection, spyware, malware, and all-around network security. If you don’t have an IT professional, check out the free versions of SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes, or contact us for a qualified referral.

Smart Tip #2:  Keep an eye on “form spam.”

If you have a contact form on your website, you’ve probably received spam messages in your mailbox from your own website asking you to “buy Rolex watches online,” or “shop Pharma supplies.” Maybe they’ve asked you to consider someone with poor grammar for SEO content copywriting services.  Or you might receive blank forms with no data submitted – which may seem the most harmless of all – but is actually the most dangerous.

When form spammers are able to get their “crud” through your form, they make it known to other hacker communities that your website is vulnerable.  Hackers send malicious code through your contact form – which will come across to you as blank – attempting what the tech people call a “PHP Injection” or a Code Injection.  If you have received blank forms, you may already be infected.  Call your web professional – or me – if you think this has already happened.

Smart Tip #3:  Keep your website version updated!

Upgrades are a regular part of any technology, including websites. A website is just like your computer virus software – it needs to be updated or upgraded regularly to be safe from the newest “bad stuff” that hackers sit around and create all day. Fixing a hacked website can cost more than the original build, not to mention the damage to your reputation, your hosting account, your domain, and your sanity. Talk to your web professional regularly about security and version upgrades for your website. This should be done annually at the least to repair any new vulnerability or “holes” hackers might exploit to ruin your website and your good name.

Summary

The safety of your website is just as critical as the safety of your family, your home, and your credit cards. Steps for protecting your website from hackers and the malice they intend are relatively quick and simple, and best addressed before the damage is done.

 

Get a Free Secure Site Check Today

Call Lucid’s team of web pros for a free security scan on your site  586-254-0095.

Lucid Business Strategies

Lucid Business Strategies is building a GREAT company that helps other people build GREAT companies.

Learn more about our strategies and services on the Lucid website or call us at 586-254-0095

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