Turn your site visitors into customers

By Jen Merry
April 3, 2013

A goal of any website owner should be to always work on attracting more traffic to their site, and in turn, converting those visitors into customers. To do so, you’ll need to first work on capturing visitor attention quickly and efficiently. Ask yourself, can site visitors find what they’re looking for within 10 to 20 seconds after navigating to your site?  Following are some tips to confirm whether or not your site is properly optimized to achieve this goal.

Google Analytics If you’re using Google Analytics for your website, you can check to see how long your visitors stay on your site before they “abandon” the page. You can also see how “deep” they get into your site –the path they take as they navigate through your site’s content – before they leave. With this information, one helpful calculation that you can track is your site’s conversion rate. This is determined by the number of customers that purchase goods or services from you, divided by the number of visitors to your site. You should always be looking for ways to increase your conversion rate. You’ll never get to 100%, but the higher a conversion rate you can achieve, the less money you will need to spend on marketing to get traffic to your site.

If you’ve followed the above advice, but are still having difficulty attracting new business, there could be several reasons why your visitors aren’t turning into customers. A common occurrence is that perhaps they came to your site but found that it wasn’t what they “thought” they were looking for. In this case, you should review your marketing strategy to make sure you’re targeting the right audience. Another reason for lack of new customers could be that visitors are confused, bored, or overwhelmed by the content on your site. Some visitors may also quickly leave if your site doesn’t look well established or professional. All of these issues can be easily fixed by re-working the content and layout of your website.

Text To Go Well-written content will also help to optimize your site for search engines.  If you have the right keywords embedded throughout your site pages (and they are being used wisely and in appropriate places), then when people are looking for your product or service through a search engine such as Google or Bing, your site will show up higher in the top results for the keywords being used in the search. To help you optimize your content, FatCow is now offering a service called Text To Go. For a one-time fee of $39.95, professional content writers can write engaging content for your Home page, About Us page, Product page, and Contact Us page.

In closing, you should always be testing and trying out new strategies on your site to improve your conversion rate. You work hard and spend good money getting visitors to your site, so make sure that you’re also investing in their experience on the site to help turn them into customers.

The importance of Google+ for your business

By Jen Merry
March 30, 2013

Like a lot of people, I got my personal Google+ account when it first launched and was by invite only. I immediately added to my circles a handful of my friends who were also excited about trying this new social media outlet. However, the initial buzz soon faded, and I stopped logging in as frequently. I thought to myself, why would I need Google+ when I already spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter? And how many different places do I want to visit to read what my friend cooked for dinner that night?

Thus begs the question – why should we invest our time in Google+ for our business? Here are two good reasons. The first is that Google+ has shown huge growth recently and should be taken seriously as a major social media channel. In fact, Google+ was ranked as the 2nd largest social media channel (behind Facebook) at the end of 2012 with 343 million users. Those numbers suggest a lot of potential views for your website. If you’re an early adopter of using Google+ to help increase your business’ social media exposure in front of this vast number of untapped users, then you’ll be one step ahead of your competition.

Second, using Google+ can be beneficial for your brand’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. SEO involves using keywords and other strategies to increase your site’s ranking in search results. Obviously, Google+ is owned by Google. So how can you convince Google that your business should rank highly in their search engine results? You can start by being an active user on their social media platform. Show Google that your site is appealing to a wide audience of visitors by building up your follower base with regular posts, updates, and other related activity. In turn, Google’s search algorithms will improve the reputation of your site as a credible business for customers who are searching the web for your products or services.

Once you create a business page on Google+, you’ll want to get your site verified. In doing so, you’re telling Google that the Google+ page that you created for your business is the “official” page for your website. Once verified, your Google+ account will display a little checkmark in a circle next to your logo.

Verified by Google

To start the verification process for your Google+ page, you have to enter a snippet of code onto your webpage that tells your customers to “follow you on Google+.” This is called the rel= “publisher” link. Just add the following HTML code on your homepage, making sure that you don’t forget to replace the [yourpageID] part with your actual Google+ page address:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/[yourpageID]” rel=”publisher”>Find us on Google+</a>

When adding the rel= “publisher” link for Google+, it’s a good idea to add links for your customers to follow you on Twitter and Facebook as well!

The final step is to fill out the rest of your Google+ page’s profile information. It’s very important during this process to double-check that you have listed your website address in this section!
If you have difficulty following any of these steps, you can look for more answers using Google’s official guide for verifying a Google+ page, which is available at the following link:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1708844

Note that since these are directly from Google, they are subject to change at any time.
Once your Google+ business page has been verified, whenever you search for your company on Google from that point on, a box will show up on the right showing the most recent post from your Google+ page:

Google results for FatCow

There is no official statement from Google that having an active Google+ page for your business will improve your natural search rankings, but it still does makes a lot of sense, especially when considering the growth rates that Google+ has been showing as of late. Have you created a Google+ page for your business yet? Post a link to your page in the comments!

Talking about Top Level Domains (TLDs)

By moosnews
March 28, 2013

When you’re registering a domain for a new website, the first thought that most likely pops into your head is “I need to get a .com!” However, despite .com domains being the number one domain extension around the world, there are several other different top level domain (TLD) extensions aside from .com websites that currently have such a major online presence.

Each TLD was originally created with a specific area of interest in mind, which many TLDs still subscribe to (with some having limitations on who or what can use it for their website). However, many TLDs have evolved beyond those original guidelines, and are great for use by any number of websites. In fact, owning multiple TLDs for your website often leads to increased traffic due to greater exposure in search engines. You can also use multiple domain names to redirect web traffic to a single website, providing multiple points of entry for visitors.

Listed below are a few other common TLDs that FatCow offers for registration.
• .com – refers to websites of a “commercial” nature, which is why a majority of businesses and e-commerce entities started frequently using these as the internet developed.
• .net – originally intended for “networking” technologies, this commonly used extension is often used as a second option for .com registrations due to its popularity.
• .org – designated for “organizations,” but has no usage restrictions. This means it can be used with both for and non-profits, schools, or any group that wants to stand out from a typical .com registration.
• .info – used primarily for “informational” websites, this TLD is great for worldwide use due to the its easy-to-understand meaning in any language.
• .biz – a catch-all for “business” websites, it is used by many small businesses as a suitable alternative for already registered “.com” names.

You may also hear about a “ccTLD,” which refers to a “country-coded” domain extension. Most of the nations worldwide have ccTLDs assigned to them, although not all require you to be a citizen of that country to register one! Following are some of the more popular ccTLDs that FatCow offers for registration:
• .ca – reserved for Canadian citizens and businesses, as well as those with Canadian affiliation. Registering a .ca domain requires additional contact with CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, to verify proof of citizenship.
• .uk – designed for use by citizens of the United Kingdom, but can be registered by anyone. This ccTLD offers several subdomain choices for more specific domain registrations, including .co.uk for “commercial” entities and .org.uk for non-commercial use by organizations.

These are only some of the TLDs offered by FatCow for registration. Take a look at our knowledgebase for a more comprehensive list!

Meet Jack and Eric: two young and inspiring FatCow customers!

By moosnews
March 25, 2013

Introducing Jack and Eric! These boys prove that no matter how old you are, everybody’s capable of making a difference. Over the past five years, the brothers have raised a total of $4,518 for a variety of charities. And with their new FatCow website, Dedham Pirates, they’re ready to take things to the next level.

Back in 2008, at ages 4 and 7, these mini entrepreneurs founded Jack & Eric’s Pirate Lemonade Stand to raise money for their local playground. The venture was such a success that the boys have devoted every summer since, selling their homemade drinks and donating 100% of their earnings to charity.

Jack & Eric working hard at their Lemonade Stand!
Photo Source.

Last year the boys raised $2,110. They donated it all to the Home Base Program, supporting veterans!
Dedham Pirates Pirates Home Base
Photo Source
With some help from dad, Jack and Eric created their FatCow website, Dedham Pirates, to tell their story and inspire others. Using Weebly’s Drag & Drop tools, their website features multiple pages, social media buttons, a photo gallery, a contact form, and a map for thirsty customers to find them!

When asked about their web hosting experience so far, the Pirates’ dad explained, “FatCow blew me away with how easy it is to create what I did. Love Weebly, the many template design choices, all the elements we could ask for, and the drag & drop feature.”

 

The Dedham Pirates, holding up their empty lemonade jugs.
Lemonade Boys Photo Source
 

Craving some lemonade? The boys will set up shop this summer at the Dedham Farmers Market, in Dedham, Massachusetts. And as a “Thanks!” for their customers continued support, their homemade beverages will be FREE.

For more updates, visit the Dedham Pirates website:
http://www.dedhampirates.com/

And make sure to follow the Pirates on Facebook and Twitter:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DedhamPirates
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DedhamPirates

Transferring a Domain Shouldn’t be Painful

By Jen Merry
March 21, 2013

We sometimes get questions on Twitter and Facebook asking why it takes so long to transfer a domain from a previous host/registrar to FatCow.

Here are FIVE common reasons why a domain transfer might be delayed:

1. Your domain name has not been registered with your current registrar for at least 60 days and is in good financial standing. ICANN’s Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy restricts transfers of domains within 60 days of the initial registration.

2. The domain name is involved in a domain dispute and has a registry lock. At one time it was rare for a domain to have a registry lock and it was only in times when there was a domain dispute that was being investigated. However, there are now some registries that offer locking as an additional service for added security to your domain to help prevent unauthorized or malicious transfer intents. If your domain was voluntarily locked, then you would need to log into your account with the registrar and manually select the option to remove the lock in order to transfer your domain.

3. The Administrative Contact email address on file for the domain name is not a valid working email address.
Note: If you do not have access to this email address, please contact your current registrar for information on changing it before initiating a registrar transfer request. And if you have Domain Whois Privacy enabled, it must be disabled. Your current registrar can do that as well.

We’ll send a transfer approval notice to the “Administrative Contact Email Address” that is currently listed on the contact information for the domain or its WHOIS. If you have no idea what which email address you used as your Administrative Contact, you may be able to do a WhoIs lookup to see what email address you have attached to that domain.

To view your public whois info, just go to http://whois.domaintools.com/google.com, but put your domain at the end instead of google.com. Below is the record that comes up when I look to find the whois info on Google. I put the red box around the Administrative Contact Email address.

If you have domain privacy enabled, that would be noted instead of the contact information when you do the WhoIs search. You have to disable the privacy before initiating a transfer. Contact your current registrar to disable it. The customer then has to approve the transfer from that email notice. So please make sure that you have access to that email account and you are on the lookout for it. If the transfer request within the email is not approved within 5 days, then the transfer attempt will timeout. The transfer request will need to be resubmitted with us again at that point.You might also receive an email from your current registrar asking for confirmation of the transfer. If so, you’ll need to follow the instructions in their email as well to confirm the transfer.

4. A domain credit is not available on your account. If you selected the Transfer option and did not register a new domain when you purchased your hosting then you should have a domain credit with your FatCow hosting account. You can verify if you have an existing credit by going to DomainCentral in the control panel.
The domain credit is so that we can extend your domain renewal date for one year. Our hosting plans come with a either a new domain or a 1 year credit for an existing domain. If you’re transferring a domain in addition to the 1 free with your hosting plan, then you’ll need to pay for the first year of that domain prior to us accepting the transfer.

5. You do not have an authorization code from your current registrar.
Contact your current registrar as soon as you start to think about transferring your domain to get your Authorization Code (Auth Code). The Auth code is a 6 to 16 character code that the registrar assigned to your domain name. It is basically a password for the domain as an extra level of security against domain theft.
If you can check all 5 of these reasons for common domain transfer delays off of your list then you should have a very smooth domain transfer process. When you’re ready, just follow the steps in our knowledgebase article for a quick and easy transfer from your registrar!

How to get the most out of Social Media for your Business

By Jen Merry
March 19, 2013

Many businesses are hesitant to create a Facebook page or Twitter account because they feel it’s going to be very time intensive with very little measurable return on investment. Those might have been good arguments 2 or 3 years ago, but now a business without a social media presence is viewed by customers as a business that doesn’t care about their customers. And when there are so many businesses that do have a social media presence, it’s easy to forget about the businesses that aren’t on there. So you may actually start seeing a slow and steady decline in sales/visitors without being on social media. Here’s what you need to know about getting started in the social media space:

1.       Cover all the bases

The best strategy is to be everywhere you can. Start with Facebook and Twitter, but you’ll also want to grab a Google+ page (I’ll be discussing the importance of this in later articles) and a LinkedIn page. Fortunately, it’s free to set up pages. And it takes minimal design work to get cover and profile images to represent your business on your pages.

2.       Listen to your customers

Now that you have your pages all set up, you need to be present. There are some great tools like HootSuite to manage all the multiple social media sites from one interface so that you can see in real-time when customers are posting on your page. Set your notification settings so you get an email notice when someone posts on your page.  It’s important to listen to what your customers are saying. If they post something critical about your company, acknowledge their complaint and see what you can do to fix the issue. These customers may have a lot of friends also watching to see how you respond and interact with them. Stay professional and resolve their issues as quickly as you can. Once the issue is resolved, follow up again with the customer. By doing this, you might not only save this customer, but you could potentially gain their friends/followers as new customers as well.

3.       What do you post?

I can’t think of a business that would not be suitable for having a social media presence. A hair salon can post before/after pictures of styles their customers like.  A photographer can post pictures from the wedding they shot this weekend. A plumber could post tips on how to deal with common issues their customers deal with. And just about anyone can post deals and specials to thank their followers for their business. Follow your competitors and learn from them.

 4.       Grow your followers

For every one follower you have to your page, there could be hundreds of their friends that may also see an interaction you have with that follower. You can grow your followers by putting a link to your social media sites in your emails to customer, on your business cards, and even as a sticker in the window of your brick and mortar store. On Facebook, you can promote your posts for as little as $25 to get those posts to a much wider reach of your fan base. The more often you post and interact with your customers on social media, the more people that will see your company and your brand will grow.

Does your small business have an online presence? What has been your biggest struggle getting noticed in the vast social media world?

Going Mobile with goMobi

By moosnews
March 13, 2013

In today’s online world, an ever-increasing number of people are using smart phones and tablet devices to access the web. Some of the challenges faced when visiting a standard website using a mobile device include small, hard-to-read text, difficult navigation between pages, and media (such as photo galleries and Flash video) that won’t work correctly (or at all) using a mobile browser. Optimizing your site for mobile visitors is important to make sure that relevant information can be found quickly and efficiently.

To help you retain this valuable mobile traffic, FatCow has partnered with the industry-leading goMobi Mobile Website Builder. goMobi is integrated directly into your control panel, with a robust set of tools designed to intuitively help you make a streamlined mobile version of your website within minutes. Following is a video that shows off some of goMobi’s features, and how they can further benefit website visitors on-the-go:

To start using goMobi, navigate to the “Website” section of your control panel, and click the “goMobi Site Builder” icon.

If this tool was not included in your hosting plan, then you’ll have to purchase the tool by clicking Get Started before you can access the editing screen. If you already have goMobi in your account, clicking this icon will take you directly to the goMobi editor.

On the goMobi home screen, you’ll see two columns. On the left will be a list of your domains that you’ve purchased a goMobi credit for, as well as a button to click to buy more goMobi site credits, and a “Getting Started” link for more help with using goMobi (including a walkthrough video and links to our knowledgebase). On the right, you’ll see the editing screen, along with four tabs for the different features of goMobi:

  • Design – customize the layout of your site, including colors, font styles, and more
  • Features – add interactive icons to your site, including “hours of operation”, your address with directions on a map (for businesses with a physical location), ways and methods to contact you (such as through social media, email, etc.), and more
  • Tools – features to help you monetize your site with ads and improve your site’s SEO
  • Analytics – track how mobile visitors are accessing and interacting with your site

For now, let’s work towards creating the basic framework of a functional mobile site by focusing on the “Design” and “Features” tabs. You can play around with the other features on your own once you have these website basics in place.

To begin, click the “Design” tab.

  1. Update your site’s header in the “Description” section, and add a quick summary about what visitors will experience when using your website. Click Update to save these changes.
  2. In the “Templates” section, let’s add some color to your site. Select a template from the list shown on the page, and click Update. If you’re not satisfied with the image that is displayed, you can remove it under the “Logo” section, which is directly above the “Templates” section.

Now that you’ve spiced up your site a bit, we’ll add a few interactive elements. Click the Features tab at the top of the editor tool.

  1. Since we’re creating a basic mobile site for this demonstration, let’s add the “Full Website” feature. Click the “Full Website” section, add a link to your primary domain in the field, then click Update.
    •  It’s a good idea to keep this feature active for situations where your normal site is very content-heavy, since it ensures that site visitors can still see everything that your normal website shows.
    • As a note, your mobile website will be displayed with an “m” prefix. For example, if your primary domain is mywebsite.com, then your mobile website will appear as m.mywebsite.com in a web browser window. With goMobi turned on, anyone accessing your mobile site will automatically be redirected to the mobile domain.
  2. To aid in spreading the word about your website with minimal effort on your part, it helps to let visitors do the work for you! Open the “Tell a Friend” section, add some brief text explaining why your visitors should tell their friends about you, and then click Update. This will add options for your site’s visitors to share a link to your site through various social media sources.
  3. Finally, let’s add some basic information about who you are and what you do. Select the “About” section, enter a brief description, then click Update. Do the same for the “Services” section, clicking Update to save your changes.

You’ll see that each time you click Update, the preview image in the smart phone example on the right side of the page will change to reflect whatever changes you make. If you ever want to play around with this as if you were an actual mobile visitor, click View Site in the heading directly above this preview image, and an interactive version of your preview will appear in a new window. Note that you’ll have to fully publish your website at least once for it to appear in this preview.

If you want to change the layout of any of the icons, go back to that section and click “Advanced Options.” There will be a dropdown menu titled “Position,” which you can use to change the order of that icon on the example smart phone on the right.

Once you’ve finished adding these features, in the bottom right corner of the editing screen, click Finish. This will publish your mobile website within moments!

If you ever want to deactivate the mobile version of your website, under the domain name in the column on the left, click Settings, and then click Disable Redirect.

It’s All Geek to Me (part 4) – Email Acronyms and Terms

By moosnews
February 28, 2013

When it comes to email, many users are mostly familiar with just how to write an email and how to send an email. However, it may prove useful to know what’s going on “under the hood,” especially when setting up a new computer or mobile device to access your webmail while you’re on the go! Here are some terms that you may come across when setting up your FatCow webmail, either from the comfort of your own home or when on the road.

 

Email client – An email client is the name for the actual program or service that is used to access your email. Email clients can be located either locally on a computer (such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird), or are located primarily online (clients based on the internet are known as “webmail clients”). Webmail clients allow you to access your mail from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Common third party webmail clients include Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail, although these free services use your information for advertising purposes. FatCow offers Open-Xchange as a webmail client, which allows you to send email that is sent using your specific domain name (such as: webmaster@yourdomain.com).

MX Record – An MX Record, or “Mail Exchanger Record,” is the part of the Domain Name System (DNS) that indicates the specific mail server where incoming email for a domain will be delivered. For example, the domain “www.example.com” may have the MX Record “mx.example.com”.

SMTP – SMTP stands for “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.” It is a term commonly used for referring to “outgoing email.” As an example, the outgoing mail server name for FatCow is “smtp.example.com”, and FatCow’s email server port for SMTP is 587.

POP – POP stands for “Post Office Protocol,” and refers to “incoming mail.” POP is used for one-way communication between a local device and the mail server, and is great for storing mail locally to read offline. This means that when you access your email, your local email client (such as Outlook or Thunderbird) saves a local copy of the email to your computer, then deletes the original email from the mail server. As an example, the incoming POP mail server name for FatCow is “pop.example.com”, and FatCow’s email server port for POP mail is 110.

IMAP – IMAP stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol,” and refers to “incoming mail.” IMAP is used for two-way communication between a local device and the mail server, and is useful when accessing the same mailbox from multiple devices. This means that when you access your email, any changes made locally are synchronized with the mail server, and will be shown for any device that accesses that mailbox. Unlike POP mail, mailboxes using IMAP settings by default do not automatically delete any email messages. As an example, the incoming IMAP mail server name for FatCow is “imap.example.com”, and FatCow’s email server port for IMAP mail is 143.

It’s All Geek to Me (part 3) – Web Hosting Terms and Phrases

By Jen Merry
February 20, 2013

So you’ve been doing your homework and have been reading about the benefits of using shared hosting from FatCow. However, every now and then you come across some strange or confusing term that is exclusive to the world of web hosting. Never fear! FatCow is here to help define some of these often used (and often confusing) web hosting and internet terms.

Server – A server is another name for a computer that is primarily used for powering services and applications running on that machine or network. Shared web hosting is powered by groups of these servers that are stored in a secure location.

Search engine – Search engines perform scans of all listings on the internet for websites that are relevant to any specified terms or phrases. The results of these searches showe ranked websites based on many factors, including the keywords and tags that are used when creating a website. Commonly used search engines include Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Operating system – An operating system is the program used to run a local computer or device. Many desktop and laptop computers currently use Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8 ) or Mac OS. Mobile devices also use operating systems. Google currently offers the Android operating system for phones from many manufacturers, and iPhones and iPads use Apple’s iOS operating system.

Registrar – A registrar is a company that a domain must be purchased and maintained through. Common registrars include Tucows, FastDomain, and eNom. In addition to providing the online space and tools to create a website, some web hosts (such as FatCow) act as a registration service provider for domains. This partnership allows customers to be able to update both their website and their domain settings all in one convenient place.

Malware – Malware is software designed to compromise the security of your website. It includes viruses, spamming activity, and other types of “malicious software” that can threaten the safety and security of your website. (It’s a good thing that FatCow has FREE built-in malware protection to keep your account safe!)

The cloud / cloud computing – Using the cloud doesn’t mean that your information is being sent into an actual cloud in outer space! In reality, cloud computing takes advantage of the power of a group of linked computers or servers that share information across a network, rather than just storing it in a single physical location. Data stored in “the cloud” can easily be accessed via the internet, making it a more convenient solution for interacting with data from multiple locations. The notion of “the cloud” exists because of how this concept is usually illustrated, with all of the devices involved in the process located within a cloud-shaped symbol.

It’s All Geek to Me (part 2) – Internet and Web Hosting Acronyms

By moosnews
February 15, 2013

Have you ever been using your account and read something that looks like it’s a code for spies and secret agents? Not to worry! FatCow is here to help interpret this web-speak for you with a few commonly used terms and acronyms that our support teams use every day.

FTP – FTP, or “File Transfer Protocol,” is the name for the method that is used to upload and transfer files from one source to another, such as from your computer to your hosting account. To use this service, you need to enter your “path” settings for where you want your files to go (such as ftp.yourdomain.com) into an FTP client (such as FileZilla or CuteFTP), which will then manage the transfer process over the internet.

SEO – SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” This is a method of adding unique keywords and tags to your website that will help to increase its rankings in a search engine’s results. FatCow has a team of experts in SEO who specialize in learning how search engines check for these keywords.

IP address – An IP address, or “Internet Protocol address,” is how the internet classifies the location of a computer or other internet connected device that is located in the physical world. This information can be used to directly access an online location, although using a domain name to find a website is far more common when using a web browser.

DNS – DNS, or “Domain Name System,” is the system that translates information used by the internet regarding the location of a website. Specifically, it translates an IP address into a more easily identifiable record for internet users.

URL – URL, which stands for “Uniform Resource Locator,” refers to the naming system for indicating the location of a domain. For most websites, the URL is the “http://” part of the website address that comes before the domain name.

WHOIS – WHOIS is a public resource of all registered domains. A WHOIS entry will often include contact information for the domain’s owner, which can be hidden if the owner has purchased a Domain Privacy service. A WHOIS search can be performed at the website: who.is.