Category: Small Business

If you search around the web for ways SEO can help your small business, you’re likely to find many articles that talk about technical benefits of SEO such as “Brings in more customers through organic search”, “SEO Impacts the Buying Cycle”, or “SEO helps improve conversion rates”.

Though all of the above is correct, it can be hard for some small business owners to really understand how some of these technical benefits can actually improve their bottom line.

To help you as a small business owner better understand the importance of SEO and how it can help your business thrive, I am going to walk you through the journey of a hypothetical customer from awareness of your brand, to purchase.

Additionally, at each step of the journey, I will show you how a good SEO strategy helps sway a customer towards a purchase.

Before we jump into this hypothetical customer journey there is one important concept you need to know and remember as you read through this customer journey.

The Rule of 7

An image of the number seven. To help picture the rule of seven in marketing.

If you’ve ever tried running ads online once, twice, or even three times and wondered to yourself “Why isn’t it working?”. Well, now you know why.

The rule of seven is a well-known marketing principle that basically states that a customer needs to interact with your brand/business at least seven times before they take any action you want them to take (purchase a product or service, subscribe to a newsletter).

Not only do you need to have at least seven interactions with prospective customers before they buy your product or service, but these interactions also need to be positive interactions.

You can easily see why that is important. Customers tend to buy products and services from people and companies that they trust. 

Since customers aren’t always ready to buy your products or services when they see it the first time, the seven (or more) interactions can help build trust so when the customer is ready to buy, they choose you and your services over the competition.

You can think of this as going out on a few dates with a stranger before committing to being in a relationship.

The hypothetical customer journey

The beginning of a road. To illustrate the beginning of a customer journey.

For this hypothetical customer journey, I’d like you to imagine that you own a law firm. To be precise, your law firm specializes in injury law.

Your typical customer is a male between the age of 21-45 since this demographic tend to get injured more than any other demographic.

For the sake of this example, we’ll call this hypothetical customer Jamie. Jamie is 22-years old. He is a senior in college.

One of the first questions you might ask yourself in this situation is: “How can I get 7 interactions with Jamie so I can win him as a customer when he needs my services?”.

First, consider doing digital ads. But unlike Halloween season for retailers, it’s harder to project when people like Jamie might get injured.

So, you have to get creative. You decide to create helpful legal content about various legal topics. You hire an SEO specialist and you make sure your content is optimized, and that your potential customers can easily find it online.

Jamie’s first interaction with your brand

One Thursday night, Jamie is coming back home from a football game. He’s had a couple of drinks and gets pulled over.

After the cops get his license and registration, he has a few minutes to do some research on “what to do if you get a DUI”. Luckily for Jamie, you have written a comprehensive article on that specific subject.

After reading your article, Jamie is confident about what to do next if he gets booked for a DUI. Luckily he does not. However, your article left a first positive impression on Jamie’s mind.

Second Impression

A couple of months later, Jamie is at a dorm party when he hears the cops at their door. Jamie and his friends had been smoking weed.

Before they answer the door, Jamie quickly searches what to do if you get arrested for possession of marijuana. Again, luckily for Jamie, you’ve also written an article on the subject.

After reading the article, Jamie feels confident about what to do if he or any of his friends get arrested. That night, they didn’t. However, another one of your articles makes a good impression in Jamie’s psyche.

Third Impression

Six months after that incident, Jamie is about to graduate college. Unlike most of his fellow students, Jamie is thinking about starting his own business right out of college.

Though you’re an injury lawyer, you had a bit of knowledge about business laws. After all, despite being an injury lawyer, you’re also a business owner and you had to get yourself acclimated with some business laws.

Lucky for Jamie, you had written an extensive article about how to incorporate a business and some of the important legal steps required before doing so.

You’ve now helped Jamie three times. Each time you left a positive impression in his psyche.

6 Unique ways SEO can help your small business

SEO helps increase your brand awareness

A picture of some branding concepts. It illustrate brand awareness.

By this time into Jamie’s customer journey to retaining your services, he is well aware of your brand and business. 

In fact, because of the first three impressions, he remembers your business name and whenever he makes a legal search and doesn’t find valuable information, he adds your business name to the search to see if you have something to say about the subject.

The best part about SEO is that if Jamie is at this stage of his customer journey, he is likely not the only one.

So, there are hundreds or thousands of other customers out there who have had similar experiences to that of Jamie.

They have searched for some legal questions repeatedly, and your content has come up more than once.

When a good amount of customers can recall your business name and associate it with an idea or feeling such as “great content” or “unique expertise”, we call that brand awareness.

Brand awareness is important because over 80% of customers say that they will only purchase a product or service by a brand they know and/or recognize.

This means that at this stage many of your customers are on their way to trusting you and/or your brand, meaning they’ll be more likely to buy from you if they need your services.

SEO is word to mouth on steroid

A man screaming into a megaphone. The megaphone illustrate word of mouth marketing. One of the ways SEO can benefit your small business.

85% of small business owners get their business from word to mouth marketing. It makes sense. As a small business owner, I can attest that most of my clients come from word of mouth.

Though word of mouth is a great way to get more new business, it can be limited. One person tells another. That other person tells one more person. At the 4th interaction, you might have 4-8 additional potential customers that know about your business.

SEO can significantly multiply this word to mouth effect.

Remember Jamie from earlier? Well, Jamie liked one of your articles so much that he thought he should share it on his Facebook & Instagram accounts. The article was so helpful to him that he thought it could be as helpful to someone else out there.

Jamie has 2000 friends on Facebook and 1000 followers on Instagram. So, when Jamie shared his article, instead of sharing it with only one person, he shared it with his network of 3000 people.

In this example, after the 1st interaction, you might get as many as 100 new potential customers knowing about your business.

Again, since Jamie’s example isn’t unique, you can quickly see how your business can easily be exposed to hundreds or even thousands of potential new customers on a daily basis.

SEO gets you (digital) referrals

I know what you might be thinking: isn’t word of mouth similar to referrals? The answer is: Yes. The two are similar.

However, SEO gets you a different kind of referral. SEO gets you digital referrals, also known in the SEO world as backlinks.

The difference between word-of-mouth referrals and these backlinks is that the backlinks do not necessarily come from your potential customers/users.

These backlinks come from other website owners who have come across your content and thought: “Wow this content is really good. I need to reference this content in my next article, video, podcast, etc.”

One of the biggest advantages of getting more of these backlinks is that the more backlinks you have the more authoritative Google and other search engines believe your content to be. The more authoritative they believe your content to be, the higher they’ll tend to rank your content on their search engine results pages.

The higher Google and other search engines rank your content on search results pages, the more website visitors you’ll get to your website. Getting these backlinks is like an amazing positive reward loop.

SEO is networking amplified

A handshake. This illustrates business networking, one of the ways SEO can help your small business.

As a small business owner, you’re probably familiar with the term business networking.

This is when you go to a business networking event and interact with other business owners like yourself. You get to tell them about your business, and you get to learn about their business.

On a good day, you could make up to 10 quality connections at a business networking event. This means that you’d only get to tell about 10 people about your business.

With SEO, you can increase that number significantly.

See, potential customers like Jamie are not the only people that will stumble upon your content. Among some of these potential customers, will be other fellow business owners that might be searching for legal advice on various subjects.

SEO is an amazing way to tell hundreds to thousands of other small business owners about your business without having to attend business networking events.

Attending those events will still help because 40% of prospects become customers when in-person meetings take place.

SEO gets you more leads/potential customers

Picture of a shopper. To illustrate the SEO can help small businesses get more customers.

One of the biggest hurdles for most small business owners is “how to get more customers”. This is a question that I’ve heard over and over and over from small business owners.

Before you can get more customers, you have to get more leads/potential customers. SEO helps you get both.

Once you increase your brand awareness, and your customers start to share your content because it is so good, it’s easy to see how you’ll keep getting more and more visitors to your website.

It’s also easy to see how you’ll get many of your potential customers like Jamie to come back to your website at least seven times, so you can turn them into customers.

All of these website visitors are leads/potential customers.

SEO increases the value of your business

A picture of a graph showing growth with a bitcoin. This illustrates how SEO can increase a businesses value.

All the visitors you get to your website increase the value of your business.

This is because when/if you ever want to sell your business, instead of just selling the potential of all of your products and services, you’ll also be selling a valuable digital marketing asset: A website that is generating leads non-stop.

Furthermore, SEO will give you leverage. In other words, you can leverage all of the users on your website to diversify your sources of income.

You don’t have to do this, but it’s a possibility. You could start making money by selling ads on your website.

You could also allow other businesses to post sponsored content on your website. They’ll want to do it because who wouldn’t want their content on a place that sees hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of visitors on a consistent basis (daily, monthly, etc).

SEO is a sustainable marketing strategy

A picture with a sustainable logo. To illustrate how SEO is a sustainable marketing strategy.

I recently wrote an article in which I attempted to answer the question “What is SEO”. In the article, I decided to explain SEO using a simple analogy that could help small business owners better understand SEO.

I explained that the internet was like a shopping center of information where users go to the shop (search/look) for information.

In that shopping center, there are areas of higher foot traffic. These areas are often located near entrances and/or parking lots. They are areas of high foot traffic because since people have to come to the shopping center through those areas, there will always be more potential customers in those areas.

If you own a store in that shopping center SEO is like doing everything you can to have your store located in the high foot traffic areas. If you can be in one of those areas, you’ll need less advertising in the long run.

This is why SEO is a sustainable marketing strategy. It takes a lot of work to put your content on the first page of Google (high foot traffic area), but once you do, you get an unlimited source of potential new customers.

Ignoring SEO would be like putting your store in a low foot-traffic area where you get very little to no foot traffic. In that case, you’d need to constantly pay for ads to let your customers know that you’re in the back of the shopping center.

Final Words

If you think I’m selling you on SEO, you would be right.

I am 100% selling you on SEO. I’m doing so because I believe in these 7 unique ways that SEO can help your small business.

I’m also selling you on it because I’m an SEO specialist. It’s what I do for a living and I believe in it.

One of the questions I get the most from potential & current clients is: Do I really need SEO? I often tell them in all honesty, no. No one needs SEO. Much like professional soccer players don’t need cleats to play soccer.

However, in a competitive sport like soccer, playing without cleats would put any soccer player at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Likewise, having a website without SEO in a competitive business world can put your small business at a serious competitive disadvantage. That’s another reason I’m selling you on SEO.

You don’t have to do SEO with me, but do take it seriously so you can reap these 6 benefits that can help your small business.

Category: Small Business

Before you decide to create a website for your business, you first MUST consider marketing. IN other words, you have to seriously consider how you will get people to your website

I recently wrote an article that answers the question “What is SEO”. In the article, I made an analogy that compared the internet to a shopping center/mall of information. In other words, the internet today is a place where people go to look for information they want and need.

In this shopping center (like many other shopping centers), there are areas that see more foot traffic than others. These areas are often close to mall entrances, near parking lots. 

If you owned a store in one of these shopping centers, it would be in your best interest to try to have your store located in one of these high-traffic areas. Because this would give you access to more potential traffic every day than other stores in the shopping center.

Now say you happen to decide to open a store in that shopping center. But you don’t do anything to try to get your store in a high foot traffic area, you might struggle to get new customers.

Let’s also say that you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars just to build the store, without having a strategy for getting new customers, all the money you invested in building your store might be money wasted.

Unfortunately, this is a story I have seen far too often in my digital marketing career. Many small business owners spend lots of money on building websites without any strategy on how to get new customers to their websites.

This often ends up becoming a waste of time & money for these small business owners. They build this great digital marketing asset (their website), but the website is useless because there’s little to no traffic going to the website.

I decided to write this section in this article about how to create a website for your small business because I want you to avoid making the mistake that I have seen so many business owners as you make.

So, before you go on google and search for “how to create a website for my small business”, start searching instead for ways to get more traffic to your website. Because if you build a website before thinking about how to get new customers to it, you might end up with a marketing asset that is bringing little to no value to your business.

How to get traffic to your website

In today’s digital marketing world, there are two main ways you’re going to be able to get traffic to your website. I’m going to mention them here to give you a place to start in your search for how to get traffic to your website.

I’ll also mention it because your strategy for getting new customers to your website will dictate what kind of website you decide to create.

  1. Paid advertising
    1. On of the tools you can use in digital marketing to get new customers to your website is paid digital ads. 

Paid digital ads are what they sound like. You pay social media platforms or search engines so they can display your ads on search engine results pages (SERP), websites, social media, and or social media networks.

Advantages of paid advertising

There are a few advantages of paid advertising.

  1. Paid advertising is fast.

Paid advertising is faster than organic advertising. With paid advertising, you can start getting customers to your website on day one.

  1. When done right, and for the right reason(s), paid advertising can be an effective digital marketing tool. 

Disadvantages of paid advertising

Though paid digital ads can be a great tool in certain situations, it has major drawbacks.

  1. Digital ads convert less than organic marketing.
    1. For example on a SERP like this, customers are much more likey to click on organic search results than they do on paid search. (numbers)
    2. Customers are much more like to buy from brands they know (social media)

The benefits of Organic marketing

By the end of this section, it will become clear to you which marketing strategy is my favorite (this one). This is because I believe organic digital marketing is a much better strategy for the long-term viability of any good company.

  1. Organic marketing is more authentic. Paid ads can be impersonal. More over, 
  2. Organic marketing is more effective.
  3. Organic marketing is more sustainable.

In the article I wrote about SEO, I noted that SEO was everything you do to put your store in a high traffic area of a shopping mall. The work you do at the beginning to get your store in those high-traffic areas might be a lot more than creating paid ads.

But it is not only more efficient, but it is also a more sustainable way to grow your business. Think about it, if you don’t do this work to get your store in a high foot traffic area of the shopping mall, you’ll have to consistently think about how to get your customers to walk back to where your store is.

However, if you do the work at the start to put your store in a high foot traffic area, you’ll have to do less work in the long term to get your customers to your store. The high visibility of your store will mean that you’ll have an endless source of potential customers to your store.

Type of websites?

As I mentioned above, the strategy you decide to implement to get customers to your website will determine what kind of website you decide to build.

If you opt for paid advertising, you’ll need one or multiple landing pages. 

Landing pages are web pages that are meant to advertise a specific product or service. With a landing page, you won’t need to have a website with many pages (About, Contact, Services etc). All you’ll need is one webpage with a clear description of what your product or service is, and how they can purchase or subscribe to it.

You’ll also need to know how to run ads or hire someone that can help you do it.

If you go instead with an organic strategy, you’ll have to develop a comprehensive strategy to get customers to your website.

In this case, you’ll have to dedicate some time for content creation, or you’ll have to pay someone to do it for you. When it comes to SEO, content is king. You cannot rank without sufficient content.

How to create a website for your business

Now that you know what to do before you decide to create your website, let’s talk about how to create a website for your small business.

There are a few things you’ll need in order to create a website for your small business. I’ll go step by step and explain each of the steps and why each of them matters.

Get A Domain Name

Whether you choose to drive people to your website using ads or organic marketing, you’ll need a domain name.

A domain name is simply the address of your website. In other words, what server in the world is your website located on? A domain name typically looks something like this:

Why a Domain name matters?

Your domain name matters because it plays an important role in SEO.

Consider the following scenario.

You’re a restaurant owner, and you’re getting ready to open a new vegan restaurant in your city of Los Angeles.

Your grandfather’s name is John Smith, and in his honor, you’re planning on naming the restaurant after him: “Smith’s Place”.

After you take care of all the legal paperwork it’s time to choose a domain name for the new website you will be creating for your restaurant. You’re torn between, &

Which one of these domain names would be the most beneficial from a digital marketing perspective?

If you chose, you’ve chosen correctly.

As a vegan restaurant owner, your target audience will be users/customers searching for “vegan restaurants”.

Nothing will inform search engines like Google, that your website has to do with vegan restaurants, more than have the words “vegan” & “restaurant” in your domain name.

If you go with a domain name like, you’re going to increase your chances of ranking high for the search term: “Smith’s Place”. But what is smith place? Google doesn’t know. Neither do your users. They are unlikely to search for your restaurant using those terms.

So, you might be missing out on many customers searching for “vegan restaurants”.

It’s tempting to want to come up with unique names to try and differentiate yourself from the competition. However, unless you have a huge budget and can afford to do some market and competitive research to determine what kind of a name you might use to differentiate yourself from your competition, it’s better to make it clear online what your business is about. 

Choose your hosting provider

Simply put, website hosting is a rental service similar to renting apartments. In the case of website hosting, however, the hosting providers rent space/storage on specialized computers called servers to businesses who need the storage space.

While choosing your website hosting platform, you probably will have to choose your website building platform as well. This is because many of the website builder platforms out there (like Wix, and Squarespace) come with website hosting built-in. So, if you choose a website-building platform like Wix or Squarespace, you won’t have to give website hosting another thought.

I recently wrote an article about why I believe WordPress is the best website platform for small business owners.

If you go with WordPress you will have to be selective when choosing your website hosting provider.

As with many things in life, with website hosting, you get what you pay for. Companies like Bluehost, or GoDaddy provide hosting services along with domain registration services.

However, their web hosting services are not built for WordPress. They are generic web hosting services.

Companies like WPEngine or Kinsta are specifically built to handle WordPress websites. Full disclaimer: I personally use WPEngine for all the websites I manage.

Do it yourself or Hire a professional

Once you have your domain and website hosting service it’s time to create a website for your small business.

For this step, you’ll have two options:

  • Do it yourself or
  • Hire a professional

Do it yourself

At the dawn of the internet, creating a website by yourself might have been impossible for the average person. You had to know how to code.

Today, with the advent of website building companies like Wix, and Squarespace, creating a website alone is as easy as dragging and dropping elements onto a screen.

No matter what website platform you choose, if you decide to create the website yourself, the process will be relatively the same:

  1. Choose a theme/template
  2. Customize the theme/template
  3. Create the pages for your website

Platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are much easier to use than WordPress. However, that ease of use comes at a price: They are harder to scale.

That’s why I recommend business owners with plans to grow and scale their business to choose WordPress. Furthermore, plugins like Divi and Elementor can give WordPress features comparable to easier platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.

Pros of doing it yourself

One of the main benefits of doing a website yourself is that you’ll save money from not having to hire a web designer/developer.

Cons of doing it yourself

There are a few disadvantages of creating a website yourself

  1. Time consuming. 
    1. One of the biggest disadvantages of creating a website yourself is the time it takes to create it. You’ll have to spend time not only creating the website, but also learning the platform.
  2. Bad/inconsistent design
    1. If you’re not an expert designer, or don’t have a good feel for design, the design you create for your website might not be adequate. User interface is an important part of creating a website. Bad user interface can have many bad effects including: 
      1. High bounce rate
      2. Lower rankings on search engines
      3. Low conversion rate

Because of the two disadvantages listed above, my recommendation is if you can afford to hire a professional, do it. It’ll be worth your while if you find the right designer/developer for the job.

Hire a professional

If you choose to hire a professional, there are few things you will need to know.

First, it’s important that you understand the difference between a web designer and a web developer. Knowing the difference between those two will help you save time and money. For your convenience, I have written an article on the subject that you can read here.

Second, it’s important that you understand web design pricing. Here is the most comprehensive article I have ever read about web design pricing.

This article will give you a great starting point when you think about a budget for your website.

Finally, you’ll need some resources on where you can find good developers/designers.

Personally, I have successfully used UpWork on many occasions to hire designers. Though I like UpWork, a company that is built specifically for customers who use WordPress is Codeable, which I have also used successfully.

Other companies where you can find freelancers of all types are Thumbtack, and Fiverr.

Final Words

So, there you have it: How to create a website for your business, including the most important thing to consider before you start creating your website: marketing.

I hope you enjoyed the article. If you did, have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Category: Small Business

I recently wrote an article that attempts to answer the question “what is SEO“. In the article, I used a unique analogy that likened the internet to a shopping center/mall of information. In other words, the internet is a place where people go to search for information they need about products, services, and more.

Websites and SEO are closely related. They are so related that you could consider websites to be prerequisites for SEO, in the sense that you can’t really have SEO without a website.

I said “can’t really” because you could have an SEO strategy around using social media accounts, third party review websites such as Yelp, or directory accounts such as Google My Business.

However, implementing such a strategy without a website can make any SEO strategy more complicated and less streamlined. Moreover, you would lack the control of showcasing your products and services exactly the way you want. That’s because third party accounts such as Yelp, Google My Business or social media accounts control and limit how you can modify your pages, and what you can and can’t show your customers.

Since websites and SEO are so related, I thought I would use the same analogy I used in my SEO article to answer another important question in the online marketing industry: what is a website?

What is a website: The basics.

If you do a quick Google search for ‘what is a website’, you’ll find many answers similar to this one:

A website is a collection of web pages which are grouped together and usually connected together in various ways. Often called a “web site” or a “site.”

This definition is accurate. However, when I first started building websites, definitions such as these never made it easier for me to understand the concept. So, I came up with an easier way to understand what a website is.

A website is a folder

When I started reading website definitions such as the one from Mozilla above, I always thought to myself: “I get that a website is a collection of pages related to one another. But how are they related? How is this collection stored and where?”

After years as a web developer, I figured it out. In the simplest terms, you can think of a website as a folder. A folder similar to folders you have on your laptop/desktop (see below pic (yes, I’m very messy)).

This is a screenshot of the homescreen of my laptop. The screenshot shows multiple folders. I used the analogy of folders to try to answer the question: 'what is a website'.

Like folders on your laptop (the blue folders in the screenshot), the folder that make up a website can contain a bunch of other folders and/or files.

The simplest of websites contain mainly .html files. That is the file type that is responsible for rendering (showing) web pages.

Now that you know that a website is like a folder on your laptop, you might be wondering where is this folder stored? How do customers access this folder? These questions lead us to the next few definitions of terms that can help us answer the question: ‘what is a website’.

What is Web Hosting?

Answering the question ‘what is web hosting’ helps us answer the question where is the website folder stored.

The folders on your laptop or desktop are stored on your computer. The folder that make up a website are stored in specialized computers called servers.

If you have enough money, time, and expertise, you could also build your own server and host (store) that website folder on your own server. However, creating such a computer can be time-consuming and expensive.

Moreover such an endeaver comes with added difficulties of securing that server (against hacks), managing users and many other tasks that are above my paygrade.

Many companies such as WP Engine, Bluehost, Dreamhost, or Godaddy own many of these specialized servers, and rent space on these servers to businesses like us at Brandwell Studio, and many other small businesses for a small monthly fee. In the digital marketing world, we call this service Web Hosting.

What is a domain?

Answering the question ‘what is a domain’ helps us answer the question how is the website folder accessed?

Every device that is connected to the internet has a unique identifier called an IP address. You can think of an IP address like a phone number: A unique number that is used for people to reach you.

With a phone number, customers can reach you via phone. With an IP address, customers can reach your website folder via the internet.

IP address are hard for humans to remember. So, in 1985 domain names were introduced to make it easier for us (humans) to remember these addresses. When that happened, we no longer needed to remember IP addresses like ‘191.54.887’. Instead, all we had to do was remember the domain names.

Phonewords are great example for why domain names came to be. When companies use phrases to represent alphanumeric equivalents of a telephone number (like changing 1-800-724-6837 to 1-800-PAINTER), it helps customers remember their phone numbers more easily.

Domain names server the same purpose in the internet world.

What is DNS?

In the internet world, DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is a system that converts human readable domain names such as ‘’ into computer usable IP addresses such as ‘191.54.887’. Web browsers help facilitate this process.

Web browsers are pieces of software that helps us navigate the internet. You’re probably using a web browser right now to read this article. Some of the main web browsers out there include Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

When you type in a website domain like ‘’ into a web browser, the web browser has to find the server (computer) where this folder is located.

It does so by finding the IP address associated with the domain name you typed into your search bar.

Domain name registrar services such as GoDaddy, help connect (associate) domain names to IP addresses for a small monthly or yearly fee.

What is a website: The analogy

Now that we have covered some of the basics when it comes to answering the question: ‘what is a website’, let’s talk about how it relates to our previously mentioned SEO analogy.

In short, my analogy about the internet as a marketplace for information is simple: The internet is like a shopping center in that it’s where people go to find/search for information they are looking for.

To illustrate that, I have attached the shopping center map/illustration I used in my SEO post.

This is an illustration of a map of a shopping center I created to answer the question "What is SEO" using a shopping center/mall analogy. I'm using this illustration here to answer the question: 'what is a website', since websites and SEO are tightly related.

In this example, think of the shopping center on the illustration as the internet. Your website in this case would be a store in this shopping center.

Without a website, any customer who walked into the shopping center, would not see your website because you would not have one. So, if you wanted to have a chance at being seen by customers entering this shopping center, you would HAVE TO have a store in the shopping center

This is one of the primary reason you need a website.

What is web hosting: The analogy

In the context of a shopping center, a web hosting service is like the leasing/renting services that the shopping center owner provides to store owners.

You don’t own the space where your store is located, you simply pay a monthly fee for the ability to sell products or services in that space.

Likewise with web hosting, you don’t own the server where your website folder is stored, you simply pay a monthly fee for the ability to store your website folder on that server.

What is a domain: The analogy

In the shopping center analogy, your domain name is like the address of your store in that shopping center.

When customer enter the shopping center, they can go to any of the directories in the shopping center and search for your store using your address.

Just like your address would be used to determine your precise location in the shopping center, your domain (name) helps web browser determine the precise location of the server where your website folder is stored (located).

Website domain + Web hosting

The reason I explained what website domains and web hosting are, is because they are the primary tools you need to have a website.

Domain and web hosting services are also two of the must have services to have a website on the marketplace (shopping center) that is the internet.

There are other additional services you can purchase to make improve your website performance.

For example you can purchase SSL certificates to make your website more secure. You can purchase plugins or additional pieces of software to help increase your webpages rankings on search engines.

Without a domain and a server (web hosting), you cannot have a website.

2 simple reasons your small business needs a website

1. Without a website you’re invisible

As I have explained previously, having a website is like having a store in the shopping center that is the internet.

This shopping center that is the internet is constantly growing. Moreover, more and more customers are turning to this shopping center of information whenever they need certain products or services. estimated that 87% of shoppers now begin product searches online.

Having a store in this shopping center is becoming more and more essential for business owners everywhere. Not having a website means your business is invisible to customers who enter this shopping center looking for products and/or services your business offers.

2. A website can help you work more efficiently

A website doesn’t have to be merely a selling tool. A website can help you do more things, including helping you work more efficiently.

To understand this, imagine applications you currently have on your laptop. One such application is the one you are currently using to read this article: your web browser.

When you download this browser on your laptop, you are effectively downloading a folder similar to the folder that make up your website. The difference between your website folder and the browser folder is that the browser folder comes with files that can help you accomplish tasks such as helping you navigate the web.

You can also add files in your website folder that can help you do more than just showcasing your products and services.

What you can do with a website is beyond the scope of this article. To learn more you can read this article I recently wrote about 5 surprising says to increase website traffic by using your website for more than just selling.

Final Words

I hope this article and the analogy I used help answer the question ‘what is a website’ for you.

Again, in simple terms, a website is just a folder that needs to be stored somewhere (in a server using a web hosting service), and that can be found using a domain name (typically provided by a domain name service).

If you have any additional questions of feedback, feel free to leave a comment below. If you enjoyed the article, feel free to share with anyone you think might need it.

Category: Small Business

You are a small business owner. Over the past couple of years, you have been working on this amazing idea for a new company.

You created the businesss plan, carefully crafted your service packages, & made plans to incorporate your business.

After all of this planning, you knew you would need a website to tell the world about your company and why customers should do business with you. So you hired a web developer or web design company, and they created an amazing website for you.

You’ve now launched your company and your new website, but months into starting the company and making your website live, you are stuck with the question that plagues too many small business owners: How do I get people to my website, so they can see (and hopefully purchase) all these services I offer? In other words: How can I increase website traffic to my small business website.

If you’re struggling with this question, you’re like most of the small business owners I have worked with thus far in my web development career: You’re using your business website solely to sell your products or services.

Business owners who use their websites to “sell only” typically have websites with the following few pages:

  • A home page
  • An about page
  • A services page
  • A contact page

I recently wrote a blog post about how to succeed at social media, by shifting focus from trying to sell at every turn, to being more helpful.

The same concept applies here. One of the best ways to help drive more traffic to your website is to find a way to be helpful to your customers.

How Helping Can Help You Increase Website Traffic

It’s not always easy to find ways to help your customers using your website.

Fortunately for you, I have identified 5 surprising ways to increase website traffic and grow your business without selling.

These surprising uses for your website are all designed to help you grow your business online by showing you different ways you can be more helpful to your customers using your website.

Focusing on being more helpful to your customers offers these 3 main advantages:

Improve your SEO

This image shows a screenshot of the ranking for a website we created and are currently managing. It shows how someone can increase website traffic with better SEO metrics.

Organic traffic is one of the hardest traffic to get. Organic traffic is traffic you get to your website without having to pay for ads.

Finding ways to help your customers using your website will give your customers a reason to come back to your website over and over again.

Having more traffic to your website will enhance your SEO metrics. In short, SEO is how you get webpages on your website to rank higher in search engine pages such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

One of the metrics Google uses to rank webpages is engagement. Engagement refers to how long and how well users interact with webpages on your website.

Having customers come back to your website over and over again will increase your engagement metrics by telling Google and other search engines that user thouroughly enjoy whatever content you have on your website.

This will increase the chances that search engines ranks your content higher than that of your competition.

Improve User Experience

User experience is how people feel when they interact with your brand, your business or one of your products. How do these items make your customers feel? Happy? Sad? Frustrated?

A better user experience means happier customers. Happier customers means repeat customers.

Whether you’re a fitness trainer, yoga instructor, or dog groomer, having a booking system directly on your website can lead to a better user experience than forcing your customers to leave your site and rely on third party software.

In this case, the better user experience will make your customers happy/satisfied after interacting your website, which will increase the chances that they come back for more satisfying experiences.

Improve efficiency/workflow

Finding ways to be more helpful to your customers can also have the amazing unintended consequence of making your own life easier.

Take the previous example of having a booking system on your website. Doing that could help you not only create a better user experience for your customers, but also help you work more efficiently.

I have had clients who run classes/bootcamps rely on emails, text & phone calls to book their clients appointments.

This method is so time consuming, that it can lead you to spend too much time on unnecessary tasks such as the back and forth communication it takes to book an appointment.

Having a booking system on your website in this case is a win-win situation for both you and your customers.

5 Ways to Increase Website Traffic to your small business website

Share Your Expertise

Sharing your expertise online is one of the easiest (though time consuming) ways to grow your business online.

It falls into the better SEO benefit category, as more content will help increase the chances that you rank higher on search engine page, but it will also help increase the chances that you get more recurring traffic.

Who is it for?

Any type of business owner can choose to share their expertise one their own website.

However, sharing one’s expertise is would be more useful for business who who’s services tend to be more expensive, such as law firms, financial advisors, web design agencies.

How does sharing your experience help?

Most marketers believe that it takes a customer 7 times to interact with a brand/company before they take an action (make a purchase, join a newsletter, subscribe to a services).

Sharing your expertise is better suited for such business because it allows customers to freely interact with the company (content) over and over without making a huge commitment (making a purchase).

If your content is good enough, it can leave memorable mark in the mind of your customer, which increases the chances that they will remember your business, when they need the products/services you offer.

Furthermore, sharing your expertise online could help you gain more readers. These readers could turn into recurring traffic.

If your readers liked your content enough, you could start a newsletter, and leverage those emails to conduct email marketing campaigns for your business.

Start a loyalty/reward program

Who is it for?

This way of using a website especially comes to mind when thinking about small restaurant owners, fitness coaches etc.

Although a loyalty/reward program can also be considered “selling”, it offers additional benefits that a simple website doesn’t.

How can a loyalty/reward program help?

This is another way of generating recurring traffic to your small business website by enticing your customers to come back over and over again by to track, use and/or redeem their points.

If done right, a loyalty/reward program can also help you improve user experience. If your customers feel good about interacting with your loyal/program, their pleasant experience with your website could also entice them to come back to your website.

Save time & money by automating payments

Who is it for?

Though any business owner can benefit from automating payments, this way of using your website is more useful for business owners who sell low cost products/ services.

In the past I have worked with ect.

Too many coaches, trainers, instructors and other small business owners who teach classes, run bootcamps, some of these small business owners still rely on checks, venmo payments, paypal, ect.

This causes 3 main problems.

1. It’s hard and time consuming to keep track of payment platforms

Imagine you have to keep track of each one of these acounts. That would mean each time you have to do accounting, you have to pull each one of these accounts to find out who paid you and who didn’t.

You’d be looking at many different dashboard reports, which can significantly increase the time you have to spend doing accounting.

The more time you have to spend doing accounting, the less time you get to spend doing what you actually love: running your business.

2. It’s almost impossible to keep track of your customers.

In addition to the difficulty of tracking different payment applications, it’s also almost impossible to keep track of clients.

When a client misses a payment, you have to contact them, sometimes repeatedly so that they make the payment.

The clients/customers also might have difficulties finding where and how to pay, which can create a feeling of unprofessionalism. This could cause lower user experience at best, and a loss of potential repeat customers at worst.

Finally, all this tracking down of customers and the headache associated with potentially losing repeat customers, adds unnecessary (& time consuming) tasks to your workflow, and can make your business run less efficiently.

Turn Your Website into A Booking System

Who is it for?

This way of use your website to increase website traffic is best suited for any business owners who rely on appointments to conduct business or make a sale such as lawyers, financial advisors, fitness coaches etc.

Just as your website can help you easily automate your payment process, it can also help you easily schedule in bookings & appointments.

How can a booking system help?

There are many advantages to implementing a booking system on your own website.

1. Keeps your customers coming back

As many of the previous website uses, having a booking system on your website will help increase website traffic to your website by enticing them to come back each time they need to make an appointment.

2. Better user experience

Having users book appointments directly on your website can increase the user experience for your customers by eliminating the extra step of sending your customers to a third party website to confirm appointments.

It can also lead to better user experience by eliminating the back and forth of emails, text or phon calls, in case you didn’t have any booking system at all.

3. Possible Higher Conversion

Many studies have shown that business owners can increase conversion rates with less steps in the checkout process.

Having a booking system on your website eliminates an extra step (sending user to third party software) and can in turn increase conversions on your website.

Automate Your Hiring Process

Who is it for?

This way of using your website can be used by any business owners who needs to hire employees.

How does it help?

If you have ever had to hire employees, you know how hard the process can be. Between having to send, copy, scan, print, and save forms, the process can be extremely time-consuming.

You can streamline this process and help make your workflow more efficient by automating parts of this process using your website.

You could simply have a form on your website and ask potential hires for the information you need from them. You could also easily store that information in your servers so you could access it whenever you want.

Finally, having automating parts of your hiring process can help boost your trustworthiness by showing potential customers that not only are you hiring, but also that you have a streamlines process for doing so.

Being helpful to your customers is easier than you think

After reading about these 5 ways to increase website traffic, you might think to yourself: ‘Implementing these ways are probably expensive’ or ‘it has to be hard to implement them’.

No, and no. In many cases, implementing these tactics are cheaper and easier than you think.

I recently wrote an article about why I believe WordPress is the best website platform for small business owners.

With WordPress, anything is possible. Moreover, creating applications such as booking systems is easier than most business owners realize. In many instances in comes down to purchasing, installing, and setting up plugins with a few button clicks.

For example, in order to create a legally binding form potential hires can fill in on your website, you’d only need 3 FREE plugins, and setting it all up would just take a few clicks.

Final Words

There you have it, 5 surprising ways to increase website traffic by using your website for more than just selling.

I hope you enjoyed the article and that it was helpful in someway. If you have any question, comments, or feedback, feel free to let your voice be heard in the comment section below.

Category: Small Business

You’re finally done building the groundwork for your new company.

After sleepless nights and working on the weekends, you’re ready to show it off to the world with a brand new website.

You’re probably wondering who you need to hire.A web designer? A web developer? Or both? Is there even a difference? 

It’s pretty common for web designers and web developers to get mixed up.

Although they’re both part of the web building process, they’re involved in very different ways.

I’m here to help you navigate the differences so you’re able to confidently pick the best option for your new company website.

I’ll also show you how knowing the difference between the two can help save you time, headaches and money.

What Is The Difference between a web designer and a web developer.

The technical definition

So, if you do a quick search in Google or other search engines, you’ll quickly come across a definition that sounds similar to this one: A web developer writes code. A web designer creates the layouts.

I created a couple of screenshots so you can visually see what the difference is.

Below is a screenshot of a layout/design a web designer might create.

This is a picture that shows the general layout of a theme before we fully customize it for our clients

Here is a snippet of a piece of code a web developer could write, to bring a design like the one above to life.

This is a screenshot of a code snippet written in php. The screenshot is used to illustrate the difference between a web designer and a web developer.

To most of us in the field, this definition makes sense, and there is nothing else that should be known beyond this.

Luckily for you, I have been a teacher in my short life. I know how some experts might understand certain concepts so clearly that they feel as though there is no need for further explanation.

I also understand how someone can be from a different field and have more questions about a particular subject.

My guess is that right now, some of the questions in your mind might be:

  • But why can’t one person just design and code?
  • It can’t be that complex right?
  • What is the difference between designing and coding anyway?
  • Can someone really code without a design

I’ll try as best as I can to answer some of the questions that you might have right now. I’m going to attempt to do so with the use of an analogy.

The Good Definition

One of the best analogies I have been able to come up with is that of a developer and an architect.

If you needed a house, in the simplest terms, the architect would draw that house, and the developer or builder would do the construction.

In the case of building a website, in simplest terms, the web designer draws your website, and the web developer does the construction of the website.

Of course architects do more than just drawing the house. Likewise, web designers do more than just drawing your website.

I just wanted to paint a small picture of how the two jobs can differ from each other. 

A small history

At the dawn of the internet, there wasn’t much need for web designers. Interfaces (the buttons, the text that you interact with) weren’t a priority.

As the internet grew into the juggernaut it is today, businesses need to adapt and create better and better designs to compete for customers’ attention.

This need for better design grew a wider and wider gab between what web designers do and web developers do.

Like most jobs in the world today, the two professions got more and more specialized.

Why this difference matters to your small business

At Brandwell, our primary goal is to help small business owners grow their businesses online. Part of this objective is to try to make owning a website more accessible to all.

That is why we wanted to focus this article on why knowing the difference between a web designer and a web developer, can help your business.

To illustrate why this difference matters, we’re going to use three different (made up, but possibly real) scenarios.

The three scenarios address creating website with WordPress. I you’re using websites like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or other DIY website builders, the design and development is done for you.

The scenarios focus on WordPress because it is the platform we primarily use at Brandwell to build websites. We believe WordPress is the best website platform for small business owners.

Scenario 1: Your small business needs web development

Say you’re a small business owner with a small budget ($500 – $1000) to build your website.

If you know nothing about the difference between web designers and web developers, you might go online and look for “website prices”. When you do that, you might find something like this:

This is the screenshot of a google search on "Website Prices". We use this screenshot to show how widely website prices can change, and how knowing the difference between a web designer and a web developer can save small business owners money.

Websites that vary from $40 – $12000. Or from $0 – $20000. 

Many of the companies offering incredibly low prices won’t be all that legitimate. Many of the companies charging alot won’t either. I have heard horror stories on both sides of the spectrum.

Our industry is new. As such, it is full of people trying to take advantage of unaware customers.

On behalf of all the good people in my industry, I sincerely apologize in advance. This might give you a headache, or it might leave you hopeless and want to give up. But don’t. 

There are lots of good companies out there. You’re going to have to do some research.

Try a better search

Now, instead of searching for “website prices”, let’s say you did more digging and stumbled upon this article, or many others explaining the difference between a web designer and a web developer. 

In this instance, you may realize that you could actually just look for a great looking WordPress theme for example.

One of those would cost you anywhere between 0 – $100. But 90% of these tools are legitimate. Once  you found a theme you liked, with all the layouts, fonts, buttons styles, and form design that you like, you could then look for “Web developers near me”.

You would then ask that trusted web developer you find (for a lower rate) to simply develop (implement) that design for you.

This could save you a lot of time, headaches and money.

Side note: I offer WordPress Theme Customization Service. This service takes any design that you like (whether designed by us or someone else), and turn it into a fast, secure and mobile-friendly website.

Scenario 2: Your small business needs (custom) web design

In the second scenario, you’re a small business owner with a similar budget as scenario #1, but you happen to know enough coding to help you implement designs with code and platforms like WordPress.

In this instance, you could search instead for “web designers near me”.

You would then find a designer that could create a custom theme with unique layouts, fonts, forms ect, that you could then implement yourself. 

There is also another (sub)scenario here where you don’t need custom design because you either have a lower budget, or you are okay with pre-built designs/themes.

In this case, you would look for a theme you like, and implement the design yourself.

Either way, knowing the difference between web design and web development here could save you time, headache and money.

Scenario 3: Your small business needs web design & development

In this scenario, your small business has a bigger budget ($2000+ for example).

In this case, you could search for a designer that can create a custom and unique theme for you.

Then you would take that theme and pay a developer to implement the design. 

Or you could look for a company (like Brandwell Studio), who could help you do both within your budget.

Final Words

So, there you have it: the difference between a web designer and a web developer. As I have said many times, knowing the difference between the two can help save small business owners time, headaches, and most importantly, money.

I hope this explanation helped you as a small business owner. If so, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me if you have any questions or with feedback on how we can improve content like this.

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