The Dangers of DIY Websites

DIY home improvement failure

DIY home improvement gone wrong …

I laughed when my friend posted this photo on her Facebook page of a DIY home improvement project that failed.

It reminded me of the time my husband thought he’d save us a few hundred dollars by replacing a leaking pipe under our kitchen sink himself.

Next thing we knew, the pipe had burst, spewing a geyser of water into our kitchen. It’s lucky we knew how to shut off the main water line to our home until the plumber arrived … otherwise, our home would have been destroyed in just a few hours.

Common DIY Website Mistakes That Hurt Your Business and Cost You Customers

Small business owners who try to save money by creating their own websites and doing their own online marketing aren’t doing themselves any favors, either. Here are just a few things that typically go wrong with DIY websites and online marketing:

Your website looks unprofessional and unappealing, thereby driving potential customers to your competitors.

DIY Website Example

DIY Website Example.  Note misspellings and outdated copyright date.

 

Your website isn’t mobile friendly. It’s hard to read and navigate from a mobile phone.

You can see for yourself if your website meets Google’s 2015 standards for mobile friendly design by going to this web page:

Google Mobile Friendly Test Page

Google Mobile Test Failure

 

You Aren’t Managing Your Online Reputation. Bad Reviews Are Costing You Customers

bad reputation management

Negative online reviews are bad for business. Pay attention to what your customers are saying about you online.

 

Need Website Repair? Call Us Today

CLICK HERE to schedule a conversation about your website needs or ask for a free demo website to see what we can do for you to get a state-of-the-art mobile-friendly professionally-designed website for your business.

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New Website for Little Fork Fire and Rescue Company Rixeyville Virginia

New Website for Little Fork Fire and Rescue Company Rixeyville Virginia

Herbst Marketing has launched a new mobile optimized website for Little Fork Fire and Rescue Company in Rixeyville, Virginia.

Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company logoThe new mobile-responsive website features a Facebook feed on the home page, which automatically displays updates to the fire and rescue company’s Facebook Group Page.

Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company is an all-volunteer fire and rescue company located in Rixeyville, Virginia. The company was established in 1994 in response to a series of fires that occurred in the community, and now responds to over 500 calls a year for medical, fire, and large animal rescue emergencies in Culpeper County and neighboring areas.

Little Fork Fire and Rescue Company has been recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia for three consecutive years as one of the few all-volunteer fire departments in the state of Virginia to respond to 100% of its calls. When the Culpeper County community has an emergency, Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company can be counted on to respond quickly with trained emergency medical technicians and firefighters.

For more information about Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, visit LittleForkVFRC.org.

View our videos on YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCJK7Zkvd1FHojLsMdKqftzw/playlists.


How to Turn Your Website Into a Profit Center for Your Business

Would you like to have more money flowing into your business effortlessly?

Most small business websites were not designed with sales in mind. Typically, they share three common errors that are blocking money flow into the business.

But with a few simple tweaks, you can transform your underperforming website into a powerful round-the-clock sales force and profit center that will get more money flowing into your business with less work and effort.

Here’s how: (more…)

What Does a Small Business Website Cost?

Website Pricing Guidelines and Website Design Costs

Grow Your Local Business with Internet Marketing

What Does a Small Business Website Really Cost?

If you are a small business owner in need of a new or updated website, one of the first questions on your mind is probably:

How much will it cost me to get a new website?

From a business owner’s point of view, this seems like a simple question that should be easy to answer.

From the website designer’s and website developer’s point of view, it is a complex question that cannot be answered straightaway without some preliminary information gathering. (You may be wondering whether a website designer and a website developer are one and the same thing. They are not — but that is the subject for another future article.)

Buying a Website Can be Compared to Buying a House or a Car

If you have ever bought a house or a car, you know that your final purchase price is determined by a host of variables.

Housing Cost Factors and Variables

When buying a home, your purchase price will be determined by factors such as:

  • Location: Is your home centrally located, close to quality schools and shopping? Or will you need to commute an hour each way to work every day?
  • Size: Total number of rooms, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, total square footage, etc.
  • Age: Is it a new home or an older home that will need costly renovations and repair?
  • Acreage: What size is the lot on which the home sits?
  • Taxes: What real estate taxes apply to this home and how much will they increase your monthly mortgage payment?
  • Neighborhood: Does the home belong to a neighborhood that has covenants, restrictions, and home owners’ association fees?

All other things being equal, identical homes can vary in price by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars depending on where they are located, the size of the lot they sit on, and other pricing factors.

Car Cost Variables

Likewise, when buying a car, your purchase is determined by variables such as:

    • Car Make and Model
    • Age of Car
    • Mileage
    • Additional Accessories (leather seats, premium sound systems, power steering, premium wheels and hubcaps, etc.)

OK, I Get That: But What Should I Expect to Pay for My Website?

As a general guideline, you should expect an expert website designer and developer to devote a minimum of 40 hours to the website design and development process.

Website design and development tasks include:

      1. Preliminary consultation: Meeting in person or over the phone with the business owner to gain a proper understanding of his or her business and business goals, as well as his or her design vision for their website.
      2. Initial website design: creative envisioning and incorporating the essential graphic elements in a visually pleasing layout that effectively communicates your business message. Effective design will guide and persuade website visitors to take one or more desired actions that will grow your business. Those “calls to action” could include invitations to call you, visit you, schedule an appointment, request a quote, or purchase products or services online using online order forms.
      3. Design refinement: Reviewing the initial design concept with the client, revising design according to client requests, advising and educating client if desired design changes are ill-advised and why.
      4. Keyword research and consultation: Identify top-level keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to your business, have high search demand and are necessary for search engine optimization to ensure your website gets found online by your best prospects and customers.
      5. Web Content Development: Ideally, clients provide ready-made content that is properly written for online viewing. Website content should be structured in small chunks of 5-6 lines per paragraph for easy scanning. Website content also should incorporate the relevant keyword or keyword phrase in the page title, in the first paragraph, in the last paragraph, and link to other related or supporting pages within your website. In actual practice, it is a rare client that provides ready-to-go content that does not require some degree of professional copywriting and / or copy editing.
      6. Image Editing: All images or photographs should be edited so they load fast (website visitors are impatient and hate to be kept waiting while large image files load). They also should be properly identified through “meta tags” (image names, image titles, image descriptions, image captions) that tell search engines what the image or photo means and how it relates to your business. It also takes time to upload images into your website and test to make sure they look right and that related text is placed correctly relevant to that image — i.e., does the text wrap correctly to the left or the right or beneath the image? Does there need to be more white space or margin between the image and surrounding text?
      7. Add-On Features, Bells and Whistles: Many clients want at least a few add-on features to enhance their website functionality. Such features could include customized contact or request quote forms, image or photo galleries, web video, ecommerce functions (paypal buttons or full-fledge online stores), social media integration (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and RSS feed hotlinks, social sharing buttons allowing visitors to share or email page links to other people, etc.)
      8. Under-the-Hood tasks: Tasks that few small business owners understand but are also essential include creating and submitting site maps to search engines, installing anti-virus and anti-spam tools to keep your website secure, checking to make sure your website looks right in all popular browsers (different versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari); setting up Google Analytics to measure traffic to your website, etc.
      9. Search Engine Optimization: Optimizing website content for search engine visibility and indexing to make sure that your website is getting found by your best prospects. This includes adding your business name, address, phone number and relevant keywords and keyword phrases in search-engine-readable and consistent standardized format to every page of your website. It also includes adding relevant, unique titles and page descriptions to every page, and building external links pointing back to your website from at least 5-6 external “authority websites” like Google Places, YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com, Merchant Circle, Yelp, InsiderPages, and more.

This is a high-level overview, and by no means exhaustive, list of the tasks a professional, qualified website designer and developer will perform for small business clients.

Hopefully, it will give you a better understanding of the time required to create and deliver a well-built, properly optimized website for your small business.

So What Is The Bottom Line? What is A Reasonable Price to Pay for a Small Business Website Costs?

The fairest website pricing model from the website designer/developer point of view would be to charge by the hour, because it is hard to predict how long any one website project will take. A fixed-price quote can result in a net rate of pay of $10 an hour or less, which is not a sustainable rate of pay for professional assistance and expertise.

Some small business owners are easy to please and approve designs quickly with few or no revisions; other small business owners may require two, three, or even dozens of design revisions before they are satisfied.

However, few small business owners are willing to commit to an open-ended website price based on the number of hours a designer spends on their website project. Most designers will, therefore, agree to a fixed price with specific limitations on the number of revisions that will be included for that fixed price.

In the American marketplace, professional website designers and developers typically charge between $60 – $120 per hour for their time and expertise. Using that figure as a guideline, you should expect to pay somewhere between $2,400 and $4,800 for a basic 8-10 -page small business website if quality design and workmanship are important to you, and you want a customized design and a few custom add-on features.

Wow! That’s a Whole Lot More Than I Want to Pay for a Website!

If you think about it, a $60-$120 hourly rate is pretty common and standard for a wide variety of personal and professional service providers: hair dressers, massage therapists, personal trainers, accountants, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, copywriters, graphic designers, and other professionals typically charge fees in this range, and even higher.

To put these rates into a livable wage perspective: At $60 per hour, the professional will only keep about $40 per hour after paying federal and state taxes. There are also costs of doing business that reduce their net pay — investments in computer equipment, software, professional training and tools, and more.

Assuming the individual’s productive work hours are about 30 hours per week (discounting time spent in client meetings and consultations, professional development activities, and more) then at a net $30 per hour, your website designer or developer is only earning about $900 per week, or $43,200 per year for a 48-week work year.

Even at $120 per hour, your website designer or developer will only be earning a net $86,400 per year after paying taxes and typical business expenses. This income level does not support a lavish lifestyle in our American economy by any means.

I Really Can’t Justify That Cost So I’ll Build My Website Myself

Some business owners decide to build their own websites using cheap or free website building services to save costs on website design and get the web presence they need. This is a mistake for the following reasons:

  1. If you want to be perceived as a professional business, you need to invest in professional design.
  2. Do you build your own house, do your own plumbing, or do your own car maintenance to save money? Most people hire professionals to do these and similar jobs for safety reasons and peace of mind. Website development is no different. Your website presents your professional face to the world of online consumers and prospects; the first impression you make will be a lasting impression. If your website is not designed to impress your prospects the minute they arrive, and guide them towards an action that will lead to a purchase, your time and money are wasted.

    As a business owner, your time is better spent managing your business than spending time working within limited free or cheap website design services to create a web presence that will market your business professionally.

  3. Websites built on free or cheap services usually don’t get found by your target marketplace.

Google search results for Lee Highway Nursery, Warrenton, Virginia

Page 1 Local Search Results: Essential for Local Businesses

Very few self-built websites will ever get found online by your best prospects and customers. It’s unlikely you know what you need to do to optimize your website properly for best search engine results.

If your best prospects and customers can’t find you by typing logical search phrases into their computers or mobile phones, you may as well not have a website at all.

Request a Website Quote

If you would like to discuss your small business website requirements and request a website quote, please Click Here to Contact Us

Why Your Free Website Builder Doesn’t Work and What To Do About It


Small Business WordPress theme

CARess Car Wash Toledo Ohio
Home Page for CARess Car Wash Toledo Ohio

CARess Car Wash Toledo Ohio Case Example

The owner of CARess Car Wash in Toledo, Ohio would like to show up on Page 1 of Google search results for the keyword phrase “car wash Toledo OH.” Like many cost-conscious business owners who know they need a website and are looking for affordable solutions that don’t break the bank, he chose a do-it-yourself website solution from yahoo.com.

It seems reasonable to expect that your business will show up online once you put up a website using one of the many free or cheap website building tools available these days.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way — and small business owners don’t understand why.

CARess car wash Toledo OH yellow pages ad

High priced YellowPages.com ad

YellowPages.com Ads Don’t Help Either

When his own website failed to show up in Google page 1 search results, this business owner decided he would do the next best thing and pay YellowPages.com a nice recurring monthly fee for a premium ad, hoping it would drive more traffic to his business. But that isn’t working either.

Why Isn’t CARess Car Wash Toledo Ohio Getting Found Online?

A quick peek at the source code for caresscarwash.com reveals the problem immediately, if you know what to look for.

First off, his all-important title tag is “Home” (see illustration below). This is a common mistake that most business owners make when building their own websites. They don’t understand how a title tag affects search engine results, and they don’t understand what title they should give their home page to ensure their website gets found fast for their preferred keyword or keyword phrase. In this case, an optimized title tag would be “Car Wash Toledo OH | CARess Car Wash”. But how was he to know he needs to do this — or how to do it?

CARess car wash Toledo Ohio

Website Title Tag Not Optimized for Car Wash Toledo Ohio

 

No Description Tag

The second problem is that the CARess Car Wash website has no description tag either — a short snippet of search-engine-readable text that tells search engines what this website is all about and how to index it so people can find it when searching for “car wash toledo oh.”

No Microformat Tags Either for Name, Address, Phone

A third problem is that this website has no search-engine-readable microformat tags that display the all-important business name, addpress, and phone number.
 


Small Business WordPress theme

The Small Biz WordPress Theme: A Better Low-Cost Website Builder

The Small Biz WordPress Theme is a much better choice for cash-strapped cost-conscious business owners seeking an affordable website building tool and solution.

If you have the time and desire to do it yourself, you can build a website using the Small Biz WordPress Theme that will deliver superior local search results . . . provided you follow the simple tutorials and instructions that come with this product.

The Small Biz WordPress Theme was built specifically to serve the needs of small business owners and comes with these valuable built-in features:

  • Built-In Name, Address, Phone Microformatting Tags for Superior Local Search Results
  • Built-in Search Engine Optimization Features
  • Contact Page
  • Map and Directions Page
  • Custom Facebook Fan Page Builder
  • Auto-Detect Mobile Website

WordPress Website and Local SEO TrainingIf you don’t have the time to do it yourself but want all the benefits that come with a website built using the Small Biz Theme, you can hire Herbst Marketing or another specially trained Small Biz Theme web marketing consultant to design and build a website that works for you.