Your online presence is oh-so important in today’s digital world. Your website is a reflection of your credibility, business and brand, so having a strong presence is crucial and can be make or break for generating leads and increasing sales.

With this in mind and cyber crime on the rise, you want to make sure your website is well protected and know the signs that your website might be hacked.

What do hackers want from my site?

You might be wondering why on earth hackers would want to hack into your website. Afterall, you aren’t storing valuable information like customers’ credit card information.

There are a variety of things hackers might do with your site. From holding your site for ransom to intercepting information being communicated or even using the trust people have in your website to redirect users to insecure and nefarious links. 

How will I know if my website has been hacked?

There are a number of common signs that you can look out for that might indicate that your website has been hacked. Here are just some of the main ones to look out for so you can keep your lead generating machine ticking.

Your website traffic has suddenly dropped

If you notice a sudden drop in your website traffic (you can check this using Google Analytics), it could be an indication that your website has been hacked.

This could be because your website is redirecting your visitors to spam websites, or Google’s safe browsing tool could be displaying a warning that your website contains malware, putting them at risk of getting their information stolen or deleted. No visitors = no leads.

You find suspicious user accounts

Depending on your business, your site might be open to user registration, and without any spam registration protection you may find that spam user accounts appear. This is normal and you can simply delete these accounts.

However, if your site doesn’t allow user registration and you find new user accounts appearing, it might be a sign that your site has been hacked. Another telltale sign is that the suspicious accounts will be assigned as an administrator and you may not be able to delete it from the admin area.

Your site has become slow and unresponsive

Not only does a slow and unresponsive site result in a poor user experience and likely a drop in leads, but it could also mean that your site has been hacked.

This is the result of a random distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This involves a number of hacked computers using fake IP addresses to overwhelm your server by sending too many requests, other times they are actively trying to hack into your site.

You might be able to identify from your server logs any IP addresses that are making too many requests, so that you can block them. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the problem is resolved, as the hackers may change the IP addresses.

Core files have been changed

Hackers may change the core files of your site and place their own code within them, or create files with similar names to existing ones. An easy way to spot whether this has happened, is to install a security plugin that monitors the health of your core website files.

You lose access to your site altogether

If a hacker has taken your site, they may ask for a ransom in order for it to be released. We would always encourage you to speak to your hosting provider or web designer to see what you can do.

How can I protect my site from hackers?

You’re in luck - there are a number of simple things you can do to protect yourself from falling victim to hackers.

Make software updates a priority

It’s vital that you keep every piece of software your site runs up-to-date, to include the latest updates, this will make your site less vulnerable to the kind of attacks listed above. We provide this service monthly for all of the sites we host to reduce the chance of there being any vulnerabilities. 

Choose strong passwords

By choosing a strong password (that is, one that includes a combination of alphanumeric characters, symbols, upper and lower case letters and is at least 12 characters long), you heavily reduce the chance of being hacked by brute force and dictionary attacks.

It’s wise to change your passwords regularly, have a different password for different sites/accounts and keep them secure. Additionally, store users' passwords in encrypted form, this means that in the event of a security breach, the hackers don't get your hands on their actual passwords.

Switch from HTTP, to HTTPS

HTTPS is a secure communications protocol that is implemented to ensure the secure transfer of sensitive information between a website and a web server. This keeps both your data, and your visitors' data secure from hacking attempts as a layer of encryption has been added.

Back up your website regularly

If someone does get control of your website, having a secure and reliable backup that the website can be reinstalled from can save a lot of time and pain. We back up our websites every 4 hours and our preventative software scans all our websites for possible attacks in order to prevent any chance of attack.

Secure what matters!

Trust takes years to build and minutes to destroy. Making sure that your business and website are trustworthy is essential.

No site can ever be 100% protected from hacking and with increasingly sophisticated hacking - it is incredibly important to mitigate the potential damage. To reduce the impact of any potential hack causing significant damage, all our websites are backed up and we can usually get clean websites back up and running again within a matter of minutes/hours. 

If you have any further questions about this, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you aren’t using video as part of your website strategy, you’re missing a trick. Video has skyrocketed to become one of the most popular forms of online media with the global average watch time sitting at 84 minutes per day.

Implementing video may seem daunting at first, especially if you are new to the video arena, but you will be keen to hear that it can offer a 34% higher conversion rate.

What types of videos are best?

Creating high quality video content costs time and money, so it’s important to look at the different types of video available to you so you can determine which will work best for your business, audience demographic and budget. We’ll take you through some of the most popular videos found on top performing websites across the globe.

Product Videos

You can’t ignore that 72% of consumers prefer to learn about a product or service by video. It's worth considering if your product page would benefit from having a video showcasing the different aspects of your product, to give consumers a deeper understanding of its functionality and how exactly it will benefit them. The largest e-tailer (yup, you guessed it - online retailer), Amazon, now utilises product videos on most of its products, with 90% of customers saying videos helped them make buying decisions.

If done correctly, this will help alleviate any doubt or blocks in the consumer's mind and convince them to go ahead with the purchase.

Demonstration and Educational Videos

Demonstration or how-to videos that are both educational and entertaining will allow you to captivate your audience and offer guidance on how to use your product, showcasing the functionality and, in turn, convincing them why they should buy it. These types of videos also serve the purpose of removing any barriers customers may face through lack of product knowledge.

Pro tip: if you take a look at customer reviews or feedback, you may be able to identify common trends or problems that customers face with the product you are selling, so you can address these directly within your video.

Reviews and Testimonial Videos

Reviews and testimonials are a great tool to provide potential customers with a confidence boost in their buying decision. A whopping 93% of consumers say that reviews have an impact on their purchase decision, so it’s an important part of any website and eCommerce strategy.

With this in mind, what if you could take a written review to the next level with video? Video testimonials carry more weight in a world where fake reviews are on the rise, and allows your potential customers to hear about your customers' experience on a more human level. Besides, most consumers now prefer watching to reading.

Story Telling Videos

Consumers are becoming ever more conscious about where their products come from and naturally gravitate to companies that have a strong mission statement behind them, and are involved with social and environmental causes.

You can use the power of video to share your brand and product story, share the “why” behind everything you do and the “who” behind it all. This will draw consumers into your brand through creative storytelling and encourage them to buy your products over your competitors and increase customer loyalty and advocacy.

Blogs

If you write blogs, why not consider making them into a video using the content. This doesn’t have to be a person on camera or a voiceover- there are many smart video apps available where you can upload a script and it does all the work for you. This provides you with content for a video hosting platform like YouTube or vimeo as well as providing a different mechanism for people to engage with your content.

Where should I embed videos on my site?

If you want to attract more visitors to your website and boost your sales, then embedding video is the way to go. Did you know that websites that include video are 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google? Depending on the type of video will help determine where best to place it.

Product Pages

Placing video on your product pages is perhaps the most obvious way to boost your sales. Using product video strategically alongside high-quality images and well-written product descriptions will give you the best chances of getting potential customers over the line.

Product pages offer you the perfect opportunity to display some social proof videos, like the review and testimonial videos we mentioned earlier. By doing this, you’re making life that little bit easier for your visitors. Thus, you eliminate the effort required to read through written reviews, and build more credibility and trust. This in turn should give you a boost in sales.

Landing Pages

Demonstration and educational style videos are best placed on your product landing pages. This allows the visitors to get a better idea of your product and how it can help solve their need or problem. Video content alongside well-written copy and other informative content, will not only give your sales a boost, but also benefit your SEO efforts too, bringing more people to your site.

About Us Page

If you have created video content about your brand story, your ‘about us’ page is the perfect place to display this or maybe below the fold on your homepage. People buy from people, and having a well-created video on this page will help build a connection between your people, and your website visitors. Give them a flavour of who you are, and why you do what you do.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Video content takes many different shapes and forms, and when used strategically as part of your website or eCommerce strategy, it can give you an almighty boost in sales and conversions (while also helping with your SEO performance).

It’s best to think about what types of videos will work best for your business and resonate with your target audience. Creating high quality video content takes time and money, so you should consider this when prioritising what kind of videos you want to implement.

We are big believers in the power of video and have recently been getting some great videos of our own made (anyone hate listening to or watching themselves back on video?)

If you are interested in creating video content for your website, we’re happy to discuss what might work best for your website and introduce you to a videographer that can help.

Book a call with us and we can chat through options.

WordPress and Squarespace are two of, if not the, most popular site builders out there right now - and for good reason. WordPress is used by over one third of all websites on the Internet, and Squarespace powers 1.2 million websites. So when they both enter the ring, who comes out on top?

At SMK, we’re team WordPress and here’s why: 

It’s Flexible

WordPress software is open source for use on the web host or server of your choice. It also allows us to custom build functionality to suit your needs. With Squarespace, there are limitations on what you can do with it and you’re stuck with their hosting which is strictly on their servers. So basically, if you’re a commitment-phobe, Squarespace is probably not for you. 

Customisable

The design of your website is crucial and should be, like your business, unique. We design your website and then build it so that it reflects your business and stands out amongst your competitors. Squarespace, on the other hand, only has a set number of themes to choose from (and if your site is an eCommerce site, your choices are further limited to just 8) so it is going to be pretty hard to stand out from your competitors. With Squarespace, due to a lack of customisability, there is a limit to how well you can make changes to speed up your website also.

Copyrighted Content

On Squarespace, any part of your site can be used for advertising, even if that means the content they take is copyrighted. When creating a site with Squarespace you automatically agree to this. The worst part is they don’t even have to tell you. You can opt out, but it’s not an easy one-click option. WordPress has no claim to publish any part of your site for free. 

Accessibility  

As the world pushes for greater equality and accessibility, it’s important that web design reflects this too. Since we build your site to your requirements, you can have a site that’s accessible to your visitors who are partially sighted and use screen readers to consume the content on your site. Squarespace’s sites can’t be passed as accessible and, since there are strict limitations of what you can modify or build upon the Squarespace platform, your hands are tied. You can read more about why website accessibility is important here.

Plugins

WordPress has over 57,000 plugins that can help to bring in important functions to your website, whether it’s to add contact forms, improve SEO, create an online store, increase site speed or offer email opt-ins. Whatever your website needs to do can be done with a plugin. With Squarespace, they offer some integrations with some other premium services but you can be sure there is always an additional cost involved. 

SEO

Squarespace actually does SEO quite well and it’s certainly better than a lot of other site builders in this respect. You can easily edit title tags, meta descriptions, custom URLs, etc, but you do need to have a bit of prior knowledge. However, when it comes to SEO, WordPress is pretty powerful and that, again, is down to the vast amount of plugins available. One of these Plugins is Yoast SEO, which gives you advanced features such as real-time analysis, image titles, optimisation options, and XML sitemaps. Squarespace templates are often content heavy and require high-resolution images which are generally slower to load which could negatively impact on your Google Ranking. So, when it comes to SEO, WordPress comes out trumps again. 

Analytics

A lot of the WordPress plugins out there can add analytics straight into the backend of your site. Some of these plugins provide incredibly comprehensive analytics. For example, you could sign up for Google Analytics and use a WordPress plugin to get them displayed on your dashboard. While Squarespace does offer an analytics feature, it only has basic information that isn’t nearly as detailed as Google Analytics, you can however install Google Analytics to your Squarespace website.  

Cost

This for many people is a key factor. WordPress is a free platform with many free plugins available. To just use Squarespace, it costs between £10-30 per month. There are also a number of premium subscriptions that integrate with Squarespace which could set you back a further £30-50/month. 

Squarespace Pricing Tiers

Lastly, Beyonce Uses WordPress...

Need I say any more? WordPress is used by 41% of the web including many popular high profile companies such as Walt Disney, LinkedIn and PlayStation. Not to mention, Beyoncé, Snoop Dog and Sylvester Stallone. There’s a reason why these big names use WordPress over anything else out there. Look! What Beyonce says goes - we don’t make the rules.

While Squarespace is easy to use and provides you with all the basic features your site will need, it’s limited. If you have big plans for your website going forward, WordPress is the way to go. The cutomisability of Squarespace doesn’t even compare. If you want to generate leads and grow your business online, you want a website that will grow with your business and will allow you to customise the website exactly the way you want it!

Want to know whether WordPress or Squarespace is right for you? Book a call with us and we can chat it through together.

2020 - if ever there was a year worth forgetting. It’s probably best that we just don’t speak about it at all. However, there was one great thing that came out of 2020 - Garden Rooms

The Garden Room sector has experienced extreme growth in the last few years and you can understand why- who doesn’t want a quiet space out the back to escape from the kids for a few hours! Jokes aside, Garden Rooms have helped to create a flexible work-life balance for those that work remotely while for others it’s about the extra space or adding value to their home. 

With remote working set to stick around (either optionally or enforced), and the topic of wellbeing more prominent than ever, it seems the Garden Rooms sector is going to continue to be huge. So how can you, as a Garden Rooms Business Owner, ensure that your website stands out amongst the crowd, and most importantly, generates leads? 

By now we’ve established your company needs an about us section-that’s your way to introduce your company, establish credibility and build trust. But what else?

Solutions

Garden rooms can be used for just about anything- a gym, home office, entertainment space, a craft room, dining room for when guests come over, a guest house, or all of the above! For this reason, it’s important to have a solutions section on your website so that site visitors can see the endless possibilities that a garden room creates and let their imaginations run wild. Allow them to get a glimpse of what their life could be like with your solution.

Pricing and Designs

Following on from the above point, you’ll want to have a pricing and designs page specific to your business. Garden rooms are a big investment and people will want to know what they are getting for the price, so break it down for them. This doesn’t have to be an exact price (let’s face it, the price of everything keeps changing almost daily and you don’t want to be updating your site every day).

However, a ballpark figure gives people an idea whether it is something they have budgeted for - no one wants to deal with tyre kickers, and no one wants to be embarrassed that they vastly underestimated the cost of your product. A good idea is to give a price range (£10,000-£14,000) or a starting from price (From £23,000). 

FAQs

Garden Rooms are a relatively new thing to most people and the variety of finishes, extras and standards are endless so people will have questions. Putting an FAQs section on your website means they don’t have to leave your site to get answers. The majority of people that leave your site won’t come back so it’s important to provide as much information on there as you can! Too much information is better than not enough. A good idea is to collate the questions people email or phone with and keep updating these on your website.

Gallery

It’s all well and good telling people what you offer and why your company is the best but in the case of garden rooms, a picture really is worth a thousand words (and videos are worth even more!) Pictures and videos allow you to showcase the quality of your craftsmanship while allowing the site visitor to truly envision what their garden room will look like. In most cases, it’s exactly this kind of media that will convert them from a site visitor to a potential customer. 

CTAs

You didn’t think we were going to end this blog without mentioning CTA’s did you? If you want your website to generate leads then you need to have CTAs throughout. If you’ve not been here before, CTA stands for Call To Action (a desired action you would like a visitor to take on your site). Without this, the visitor won’t know what steps to take. Most people aren’t going to purchase a garden room without speaking to someone first and getting a proper understanding of the process - even if your FAQ section is exhaustive. In the same way, you may need to see the space and take measurements to first establish what is possible. Have a ‘contact us’ or ‘enquire now’ button placed on every page of your website or in the main navigation menu to encourage your potential customers to take action!

Garden rooms provide a solution that so many people want and need, the real question is, ‘will they find your website?’ and 'are you optimising your site to convert those visitors into customers?’ If you’d like a review of your current website or a discussion around the potential, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face when it comes to keeping visitors on their website is creating content that keeps the reader’s attention. People have increasingly short attention spans and their tolerance for time-wasting content is only decreasing (anyone else know the ‘multi-screeners’ who sit on their phone while watching a movie?). 

If you cannot get your customers to engage with your content, then they will spend less time on your website and be less likely to take any positive action on your site. 

Simply put, the more engaging the content, the more leads you are likely to generate. 

Let's look at 5 reasons people don’t read your content.

1. You are being too salesy

If someone has gone to your website, there is a fair chance that they are interested in your product or service. Refrain from being like one of those collectors on the street getting people to sign up for equality for hamsters or whatever their cause is. The last thing your visitors want is to have content that is in their face. 

Instead, create content that explains how your product or service meets the visitor’s needs or how it can solve a problem. Talk about the pain points they might be experiencing, or even share a testimonial of someone’s story where you have helped or added value.

Don’t be afraid to have a clear call to action for their next step - it is key to ensuring they know what you want them to do next.

2. Your content is not keeping their attention!

The top 5 categories of what people spend their time doing while online are:

  1. Social Media
  2. Entertainment
  3. Services
  4. Games 
  5. Retail

For your content to get the engagement and the visibility you desire, it is important to remember what people want to do online with their time. 

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a comic genius to capture their attention, just be authentic in your writing, show your sense of humour and personality and add real value to your reader. 

Huge amounts of text will cause the reader to switch off so instead keep it punchy, include stats, quotes, links, images, bullet points, graphs… anything but huge pieces of text!

3. Your content is poor

Although this may seem obvious, if your content isn’t good enough then no one will read it or engage with it. Make sure you know what subjects people want to know about and then provide them that information in an easily digestible format that keeps them interested. 

Remember who your audience are and write for them, not to show off that you know more than them, nor to speak down to them. Write to educate, add value and inform them.

Making sure your content is accurate is also vital - things change so make sure any stats you cite are always relevant and up to date - nothing will reduce your credibility than writing something that isn’t correct!

4. Make your content accessible 

If you have created great content that your audience will enjoy reading and will value, you need to ensure that it performs well with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and that you are sharing it across all the relevant platforms. 

People will not read your content if they can’t easily locate it, even if they are trying to search for it. This is a missed opportunity for both the searcher (potential customer) and you.

5. Your title and headlines are boring

The internet is full of things competing for our attention, which makes it difficult to stand out. Your headline should scream ‘read me!’ to anyone who comes across it. 

Make it intriguing and interesting and be clear what the reader will find out from reading your content. However, be careful not to become ‘click-bait’. You do not want to damage the authenticity of your reputation.

So when it comes to getting people to actually read your content think about writing something that you’d like to read yourself. Make it intriguing enough for them to read on to the next paragraph. Your blog is a great window into your business for prospective clients and employees - let them see the best of you.

Not sure whether or not your content needs some TLC? Book a call with us and we can review it together.

Book a call with Stephen

Now’s the time to invest in a professional lead-generating website and grow your business online. You might be surprised at how affordable a new website is, and you definitely won’t be disappointed with the finished result.

BOOK A CALL WITH STEPHEN
Get in touch
stephen@smkcreations.com

SMK Creations
Suite 714 Lisburn Enterprise Centre,
Lisburn, BT28 2BP

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