Why websites are still relevant as a means to advertise your company

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I read a great article on the Smart Company website this morning. Author Craig Reardon argued the case for the ongoing existence of websites as marketing tools amid the wash of social media and sexy apps. Websites, he said, provided excellent opportunities for promoting a call to action within a marketing campaign. And unlike social media sites, where you are constrained by the design confines provided by those sites, on your own website you can do as you wish with the size of your advertising campaign images and the associated copy. Yes, social media is undoubtedly a necessary tool for most businesses these days, especially if you are engaging Gen X and young adults. But don't discount the value of your website, and keeping it up to date and relevant. Don't throw all your advertising into social media and leave your website looking stale. So, think about this. How can you use your website better? Can you offer your clients an online booking service via your website? Can you offer your clients something special if they jump onto your site after finding you on social media? (For example, you have a special landing page for these visitors and you might offer them something for nothing or a 5% or 10% discount on your services only available by visiting that page.) If you sell products via a traditional shop, why not also put a shopfront on your website so people who can't make it to your shop can buy from your site? It's not expensive in the big scheme of things - we can develop and integrate a shopfront from as little as $500 on top of your ordinary website, and that includes your SSL certificate - and your business then becomes national or international... wherever you want to take it, essentially. Websites will stay an integral part of marketing for years to come; they can provide a more in-depth look at what you do than social media does, but both options work hand in hand to promote your business. Chat to us about how we can help you promote an integrated look and feel across your social media and website, and how campaigns could work for you.
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Publicising your blog post via pings, rss and social media

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Now you've written your post you need to publicise it using pings,rss and social media.


WordPress settings can automatically send your blog posts to a list of sites including Google, Feedburner, Technorati, Yahoo and more. Users can add these sites under Settings | Writing. I set all my clients up with a long list of sites in this section, starting with PingOMatic, so their blog posts have a wide reach. There has been comment about WordPress causing 'ping spam' in that every time you update an already published post, a new ping of that post is sent to the ping services and search engines. Unless you are a compulsive editor who insists on making changes several times when a post is published, this shouldn't affect you. One or two edits are fine. Ideally though, keep your blog posts in draft mode and use the Preview button until you are completely satisfied with your post. There is a plugin for WordPress users which lets you control when and how you ping your posts, but I have read mixed reviews about it and at this stage have not installed it for my clients.


I enable RSS feeds for all my client sites - again this helps with SEO and allows visitors to subscribe to those feeds and get the blog posts in their email inbox. For some of us this may be a bit of an old-fashioned way to do things as social media is now a more savvy way to spread your word. But again, it helps with SEO.

Social Media

Ideally this element is a blog post in itself! Firstly I am not a social media coach, so I won't be giving you a strategy on how to use social media for your blog or business. Everybody's business is different so social media channels that work for you may not work for someone else. Having said that, you are likely to have a Twitter account and Facebook page and probably Google+, or at least one of those. If you have Twitter and Facebook, it's easy enough to set your blog posts to send directly to Twitter and have Twitter post them on your Facebook page. There are plugins which do this on WordPress sites - and on other software too. An obvious tip for your Facebook page: once you've posted your blog post to your Page, do go back to your personal account and share it with your friends too! This gives you the opportunity to tag people in your status update to encourage them to look at your post - something you can't do with an automated post. You may like to consider using Hootsuite to manage all your social media networks, saving you time and effort. This could be a real time-saver if you regularly use more than two or three social media channels. There is a cost involved in using Hootsuite after a 30 day free trial. (soon to be Seesmic) is another tool to integrate your blog posts with your social media accounts. LinkedIn gives you options for feeding your WordPress posts and your Twitter feeds to your LinkedIn profile. Networked Blogs provides social media sharing options and the option for syndication. If you are a prolific blogger and post at least two articles a week, then syndication is a must. Obviously you want your visitors to share posts they like on your site, so it's important to give them some sharing options on each post. I include a sharing plugin for each of my clients so visitors can share posts through a number of social media channels. An example of these is showing at the bottom of this post. I hope this post has provided a basic explanation of ways to publicise your blog. The more it gets 'out there' the higher your search engine ranking will be. Do have some ideas or strategies you'd like to share? Leave a comment below and let's get chatting about it.  
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Key points for writing a good blog post

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So, what makes a good blog post? Let's look at a few key tips.

A killer title makes your visitors read on

Firstly, your killer title. We've spoken about that one in this article - but a killer title is nothing without killer content!

So does the first para - if you've planned properly

What about that opening line or para? Does it have impact? A good method is to ask a question... and then reveal the answer as the blog post unfolds. Another way to grab your reader's attention from the first paragraph is to have a great one-liner or unexpected anecdote as your opening para. Jeremy Clarkson is very good at this! You can offer something exclusive, e.g.beginning your blog post with a claim such as "In this post I'm going to teach you how to save $50 a week on your grocery shopping." You do have to back up the claim with relevant information or follow up material if that is what you're promising, otherwise you'll lose readers or potentially become the target of bad press on social media channels (and remember that people spread bad news quicker than good). Statistics are also a good starter. Couple that with a question - "Did you know that 99% of ginger cats are male?" - and you have a great opener.

Step back a bit - are you on target with the theme of your blog?

Before we get into content, let's step back a bit and consider what your blog is about. Is your blog consistent in what it addresses? If you market your blog as a photography or camera review, don't start getting off topic and talk about, for example, traffic in your street. Good and popular blogs are consistent, they have a theme. Obviously if you have a business you're going to blog about what you know. If you're a project manager your topics will generally revolve around ways to improve project management. You may be an expert in your field and have plenty of knowledge to impart. If you have a retail site, introduce and review new products in your post - and of course include a link to the product in your online shop. For legal blogs comments on new legislation and how it affects their clients is an obvious one. But what about personal blogs? What makes them successful? Again, it's sticking to one theme. Take, for example, Lovely Bicycle! (The exclamation point belongs to the blog name.)  Blogger Velouria started out around three years ago as a blogger who hadn't ridden a bicycle since her high school years. She'd decided to get back into riding. Initially the blog was about her test riding and choosing a bike. She had few followers. With a compelling writing style, and each post concentrating on a particular subject, Velouria shared her learning experience with her readers and gained followers by the day. Her followers consisted of experienced cyclists and people like herself, who were learning about bicycles. As Velouria learned more about many aspects of cycling and the engineering behind bikes her followers have grown and now she has monetized her blog and it's not uncommon for her to get more than 70 comments on some of her blog posts. Now THAT''s successful! Why has this blog worked? Because Velouria has shared her learning journey, has asked for help and comments, has investigated why some things work for her and some don't and shared her thoughts concisely - and not without a sense of humour either.

OK, so that's the theme sorted. Now what about those posts?

Now, back to content. Let's quickly look at a few pointers to keep in mind: Keep your article between 350 and 1000 words. People don't want to read a novel but less than 350 words can be detrimental to your SEO. Try and have a link every 120-200 words, it helps SEO. Ascertain what your keywords are and make sure they are in the title and in the first sentence or at least para of the post. If you need assistance in determining your keywords consider using a service such as SEO Scribe, which does help you write a good post. Use your keywords wisely. Ideally you shouldn't use any keyword more than ten times per blog post, otherwise your post could be deemed as spam. Use H3 and H4 tags - sub-headings in other words. Search engines love them. We all know that regular posts help raise your SEO, but there is no excuse for writing an article that doesn't have a point or a reason for being just to put your weekly blog post out. So, your post must have a reason for existing. Don't write for the sake of writing. Give your reader a reason for reading your post. Having said that, your articles should each address individual topics, or points. If you have to, divide your posts up into two or three posts if you have two or three strong ideas or points in one post. Encourage your readers to get involved - to comment, to give their opinion, share their experiences. In other words, a call to action. Ask a question of your readers. Yes, I know I've covered that earlier where you could ask a question and give the answer, but you could ask a question and ask your readers to supply answers. If you are selling something, ask people to buy - don't be shy! But don't do the hard sell either. At the least ask people to simply click on a social media share button if they liked your post. We are all so used to clicking "Like" it's no hardship. Once you've written the first draft, do edit and proofread. Check that you haven't overused your keywords.  Check your grammar, check your spelling (remembering that spellchecker can sometimes turn your sentence into something unintelligible). If you are unsure, run it past a colleague or ask a proof reader like me to help out. Print your article out and read through it - are you putting your point across, clearly? Do you have a call to engagement from your readers? Does it all flow well? Overall, does it make a point? Does it have a reason to be published?

A picture is worth...

Yeah, we know. Those 1000 words I mentioned earlier. So do use an image if you have one which depicts your topic. Feel free to use more than one, particularly if you're writing a personal blog as opposed to a business blog. Give your image an ALT tag so that readers with impaired vision can have its title read out to them. ALT tags help SEO too.

You've hit publish. Now what?

Ah, this is a topic for another post - getting your article out there on social media and other marketing tools. After all, this post is about writing a post, so I'll be sticking on topic with this one! As for this topic - has it helped you? Let me know and leave a comment below.
It's About Time Fitness

Websites: It’s About Time Fitness

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Our newest client Helen James of It's About Time Fitness is delighted with her new website which we completed this week. Helen works mainly with mature women over forty who want to get fit but for whatever reason don't like traditional gyms and fitness centres, and offers personal training and group fitness in the great outdoors - namely in a gorgeous park in Sydney's inner west. She wanted a clean and simple design that would work with her corporate blue and pink colours. Helen is going to use the site not just as a business card but as a blog too with regular health and fitness tips. In the back end we have all the features she needs including anti-spam measures, captcha on forms, caching to enhance performance, one-click backup and more. When her social media accounts are up and running we'll be adding those too. In the meantime we're working on her SEO. If you'd like a gorgeous site like this one, do contact us!

The name says it all – why your blog posts need good titles

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Free beer! It's an attention grabber, isn't it? What if you clicked on a blog post with the title Free beer! and found that it didn't mention beer at all, let alone free beer? You'd feel disappointed. What a waste of fifteen seconds of your life scanning a blog post to find out more about that non-existent free beer. It's vitally important that your blog posts have titles relevant to the content of the post itself, and that the title isn't too long. Keeping your title under about 40 characters is ideal. That way the entire title will appear in search results. The last thing you want is the latter half of your blog title missing in action from google. And use keywords in your post name. If your blog post is about a comparison of camera bags under $200, then 'camera bags' 'under $200' and 'comparison' are key words - as some of the major brands you talk about will be. So your blog post name could be: Comparison of camera bags under $200. That helps mightily for someone searching for a comparison of camera bags costing less than $200. It's far more effective than merely titling your post Camera Bags or Here's what you should be reading right now if you are looking for a camera bag that costs less than $200. Of course you should be using keywords in your blog post body too but that is another blog post... stay tuned for that one. Take your time to consider an appropriate title for your blog post. Grab attention with it by all means but make sure it's relevant to the post itself and does contain keywords. If in doubt, and you're a WordPress blogger, subscribe to the Scribe SEO Content Optimizer software, which will look at your title and post, recommend keywords and where you should make changes.

A new website for RBF

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I've been building and maintaining the website for umbrella chamber of commerce Ryde Business Forum since January 2001, and today loaded up and gave the final tweak to the fifth website I've built for the organisation. It had been in the back of my mind to build a WordPress site for the Forum since last winter; the more I work with WordPress the more I like it both as a platform to build on and as an editor when the site is up. Read More
e-commerce for your site

E-commerce: build it into your site or add later

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e-commerce for your siteRunning e-commerce on your website is now so cost-effective even the smallest organisation can afford to do it. You'll need SSL hosting and a fixed IP address, but that's going to cost you less than $50 to add to your hosting (if you buy through us that is... currently SSL hosting is $32 a year, paid annually). We'll add a fabulous, easy to configure and easy for you to update shopping cart for another $70, which is a one-off fee and pays for the cart software.  (Please note: this only applies to sites we build or have built for you, or sites already running on the WordPress platform.) If you don't have credit card facilities, we can link your new cart to your PayPal account, and if you don't have a PayPal account we can help you set one up. PayPal is widely used and trusted these days across the world wide web; even larger organisations are using it for people to buy products and services. We don't bundle a shopping cart with our existing packages, and there is an extra charge involved to set it up for you, which attracts a fee of $100 if it's going on a site we built or are building, and $140 if we have to retrofit to a site we haven't built.  Depending on how many categories you want your shop to have and how many products you want in there initially, and whether we have to resize and fix images for your products and/or services, $100 may be all you have to pay.  For example, if you only have one category and less than ten products, we could probably set that up for $100. Adding products is easy and quick, but we do like to ensure your new shop blends seamlessly into your existing website template, which the majority of the setup fee covers. From around $200 your shop will be up and running and you'll be selling like a pro. Just because you own a small business doesn't mean you have to think small! Contact us now to find out more!

Our writing team is growing

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We are delighted that marketing and business writer Genevieve Hinds has joined the Arion Productions team. Genevieve has recently returned from ten years working in the USA, where she held high-level marketing positions, ran a successful and award-winning marketing agency and authored a book on guerrilla marketing for small business owners. Genevieve has worked with major corporations such as 3M and Merrill Lynch as well as coaching small businesses on achieving growth and ROI. Genevieve is blessed with a natural ability to write, and write well. She loves writing marketing copy. Sales flyers are her delight. She can turn tech speak into marketing speak, engineering into English. She's a killer with the red pencil when she's in editor mode. In short, she's what your business needs to revise existing material or write new material. Whether it's a corporate brochure, a sales flyer, or copy for your new website, you need to talk to Genevieve. Contact us now to discuss your projects and how Genevieve can help you.

Keeping your site secure with updates

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SecurityWhen we hand over a site to a client, it comes with instructions and the reassurance that we will always help if our client forgets any key or not so key issues regarding maintenance and adding posts, pages and media. One of those instructions is to always perform available updates on core WordPress software and also plugins which have new versions available. Why is this so important? Security. The interweb is scattered with hackers, and system updates make your site more secure. The updates typically address security issues as well as added functionality. No software is immune to security problems, but updates reduce the vulnerability of your site, as do other measures we take when setting up your site for you. Updating your WordPress core software isn't hard to do, but we know many of you forget to look at your Updates settings, so from time to time we check your sites for you and update core software and appropriate plugins on your behalf. If you're nervous about the words "we recommend you back up your website first" just ask us to do it all for you; it doesn't take long at all and we have yet to encounter any problems doing a core upgrade. We do notice a difference between web hosts though - there are some hosts out there running outdated versions of PHP on their server which means we can't update the core software (we do contact them and pester them to give us access to PHP5.X.X). It does pay to get a web hosting company which uses up-to-date tools - in our case we can offer you hosting for $54 a year, hint hint! Shameless plug aside, if we can't - or you can't - update your core software and/or plugins because of your web host, it may be time to shift hosts. WordPress is one of the most popular web building platforms in the world right now, and any reputable web hosting company should be able to support it and its updates. If you have any questions about upgrading your software or plugins, contact us and we'll talk you through it, show you how to do it, or do it for you.