I Hate Facebook!

I Hate Facebook!

Seriously, I truly hate Facebook and my low opinion is reinforced daily with news of more corporate misconduct. This post was not on my editorial calendar and has nothing to do with my usual subject matter. It is, in fact, simply a personal rant, but I have to get it off my chest!

Facebook: What’s To Love?

Facebook’s stated mission is to bring the world closer together, but the platform was originally developed with bad intentions and still carries negative energy.

Admittedly I was never really into it and only got an account to keep anyone else from claiming my name. My original objections were that the app was too demanding and intrusive. It seemed that if you were “on Facebook” it meant that you spent hours checking in, posting your whereabouts and activities for all the world to see.

Then after that you invested even more time digging into the lives of everyone else you had ever known since elementary school, for some reason. You were constantly alerted with notifications and reminders, and you could never get out from under its clutches.

It was as if the people I knew who were on Facebook had been hypnotized into recording their every move and random thought. So even though I created a profile, I never kept up with it.

I realized I actually couldn’t care less that a former co-worker was at Starbucks, or what the Joneses fed their dog for dinner. And I certainly didn’t need other people inserting themselves into my private life, either, thank you very much. Who has time for that?

And that brings me to my next point.

Good For Nothing But FOMO and Discord

Studies have shown, and anecdotes confirm, that social networking is not as beneficial as face-to-face human interaction. In fact, limiting one’s time spent on social media can lead to significant improvements in well-being.

Facebook is still the most-used social network, but research indicates that hanging out there doesn’t have the same positive impact on well-being that real-life relationships promote. In fact, “most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.”

Encouraging people to waste time creating enviable online versions of their lives to provoke fear of missing out in others is probably the least of Facebook’s misdeeds.

How many friendships have been undone by oversharing and worse on Facebook? You’re exposed to other people’s abhorrent opinions every time you check in. Not to mention the bigotry, harassment, and bullying that goes on every day. Speaking of which …

Irresponsible Use Of Collected Data

Facebook bends over backward to avoid accountability for the hate speech on their platform. The network is used to spread demonstrably false information. And user information has been harvested for nefarious purposes.

But they refuse to share internal data with legitimate researchers, claiming it would breach their user agreement. Yet, strangely, that doesn’t stop them from profiting off user profiles to increase their revenue.

Corporate Culture Reeks of Greed

Facebook has no qualms about divulging personal data to advertisers and app developers to grow their bottom line. But they don’t want to be accountable for negative activity stemming from their lackadaisical approach to its users’ information.

Internal documents have revealed that Mark Zuckerberg has a record of destroying competitors. What do you think he cares about the millions of people affected by these shenanigans?

Is a Social Media Presence Worth It?

At this point, both public trust and employee satisfaction are in decline, so it’s obvious that I’m not the only one dissatisfied and disillusioned with Facebook.

#DeleteFacebook is a thing that more and more people are actually getting serious about, if not always following through on.

I can’t bring myself to use Facebook even to promote my business, to my own detriment. I joined entrepreneurial groups and set up a business page like everyone advises you to do. But I haven’t interacted online, and my company has suffered as a result.

So it’s a dilemma. On the one hand, I need social media for marketing but I hate Facebook (and Twitter too, but that’s a rant for a different day). Yet I can’t bring myself to delete my account; I prefer to ignore it.

Have Your Say!

What do you think? Do you use Facebook personally or for business? How do you handle social media? Help! I could really use your advice so please comment below!

Page Builders vs Website Builders: Everything You Need to Know

Page Builders vs Website Builders: Everything You Need to Know

Do you know the difference between a page builder and a website builder? It’s subtle, but there is a distinction. And, in the best interests of your business goals, it’s one you should understand completely before making any decisions about building and maintaining your website.

The ability to distinguish between website builders and page builders is the only way to know which one is best suited to your website strategy. Otherwise, you risk developing a site that can’t scale as your business grows. Or, just as bad, you could waste a ton of money on a website that’s far too complex for your current or future needs.

It’s hard to make sense of all the terms being thrown around, and that might make your decision difficult. Aren’t page builders and website builders the same? How do they work? What’s the difference, and what are the advantages or disadvantages of each? Who knows what’s what?

We do, and we’re here to clear the confusion between “page builder” and “website builder.” We’ll also break down why you might want to choose one of these tools for designing and maintaining your business website.

Content Management Systems

First, let’s talk about content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. A content management system (CMS) is the software program used to create and manage your website. It contains your site’s digital content and publishes it to the internet.

Since WordPress is the most popular CMS online today, powering over 31% of all websites, it’s the one we’ll discuss in this overview.

WordPress (WP) is extremely powerful and flexible. It’s easy to learn but does take some study. You’re responsible for choosing a hosting environment. That’s the server where your website’s data is kept, and there are several options available.

WordPress.org is what’s known as a self-hosted solution. That means that in addition to selecting your hosting environment, you’re also responsible for everything else needed to set up and support your website. That includes your domain name, theme, plugins, and services such as security plans and ongoing maintenance fees.

Because of its limitless customization options and flexibility, self-hosted WP is more hands-on. It’s potentially a more expensive choice, though, as costs can add up quickly. It’s also the selection that affords you the most control over your website and digital assets.

Managed WordPress options are available to provide much of the back-end development and maintenance of your site, for a higher fee. Managed WordPress hosting includes all the optimization, security, and maintenance your website needs.

Managed plans are more expensive and limit some of your technical control, but the trade-off is that you get premium support and the security of having your website in expert hands.

With WordPress.com, one of many managed plans available, you can set up a business website for $25 per month (billed annually), and upgrade to a self-hosted site as your needs change.

Page Builders

Page builders are easy-to-use themes or plugins that work on top of a CMS to make visual, drag-and-drop page and post creation easy for any user, with or without knowledge of code (computer developing languages like HTML and CSS).

These tools allow for automations, optimizations, and other enhancements that add functionality to the basic WordPress CMS. Even beginners can change things that are not included in their theme of choice, like adding multiple columns or content sliders, without knowing how to code.

Website Builders

A website builder, such as Wix or Squarespace, is a drag-and-drop interface that allows for the complete building of a website. The CMS and hosting platform use proprietary software that cannot be easily reconfigured or managed by the user (that’s you, the business owner).

Website builders are cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms. You don’t have to download or install anything on your own computer or server, as you would with a CMS. One monthly fee includes everything you need to build and maintain your website.

That means everything you would buy and/or download separately to get a WordPress website online is part of the package. A domain name, hosting, CMS, themes (called templates for website builders), functionality enhancements (instead of plugins), and/or services (security and management), are all bundled for you.

Since 1.4% of websites use Squarespace and it has overtaken Wix as the most popular website builder, we’ll use Squarespace for this comparison.

While creating websites from scratch is easily managed using a website builder, the end result — your business website — is fully controlled by the platform’s owner. In this case, that’s NOT you, the business owner.

This can pose a challenge for entrepreneurs: Should you go with an easy solution like a website builder, leaving the maintenance and authority in someone else’s hands? Or would you be better off using a CMS like WordPress with a page builder system? Let’s break it down here.

Page Builders and Website Builders Compared

Ease of Setup & Use

WordPress is sometimes thought of as more complicated as opposed to the website builders that do it all for you. You may find it beyond your area of interest or ability to set up and maintain a proper WP website. Running a business while handling website security, updates, optimizations and monitoring growth is often overwhelming. That’s why some people find their websites difficult to use.

A CMS becomes complex very easily if you don’t understand what you’re doing on the back-end and why. But unless you opt to handle it yourself, a WP website will require that you get a separate contract to cover professional ongoing maintenance. It’s up to you to investigate the options and make the best choice for your business.

Squarespace, like most SaaS providers, is an attractive alternative. You can have a beautiful website up and running in as little as 30 minutes using professionally designed templates. The platform does all the behind-the-scenes work for you, too. Get your domain name and hosting included for free in your payment plan of choice. Updates and security are also managed by your website builder’s team.

But these perks come with drawbacks for website owners looking to have much more control over their greatest business asset. Some customizations are limited; functions and optimizations are regulated or restricted. If your business outgrows the platform’s offerings, you could end up with a site that no longer meets your needs.

Because they are proprietary, you aren’t allowed to make certain changes to the look or functionality of your site. Although Squarespace is better than some website builders in providing you with information and statistics to analyze your site’s performance, you won’t be able to optimize for speed or search engines beyond the capabilities of the platform.

Conclusion

There are specialists in every development environment that can take care of setup for you, and with website builders, you have the added value of built-in security and updates. If you’re not interested in what’s going on behind the scenes with your site, it’s likely that a website builder is for you.

WordPress provides useful features that are unavailable on most website builders. If you enjoy tinkering with your website and can devote the time and effort to manage it properly, you’re probably a candidate for a CMS with page builder solution. Even if you decide to work with a website pro for setup and/or ongoing maintenance, you’ll still have primary oversight.

Customer Support

WordPress is open-source software, so users are free to integrate their own solutions with plugins and code changes. There is no dedicated support system. If you’re running your own website and need help, troubleshooting is up to you. You’ll need to consult the user forums for similar problems and piece together your own remedy.

Using WordPress with a page builder solves this problem neatly. Our choice is Divi by Elegant Themes, a completely visual page builder. They also offer a plugin that can be used with any theme. The developer supports all their products with 24/7 live chat, and tries to respond within 30 minutes.

Squarespace, a proprietary platform whose inner workings are off limits to users, provides support via live chat during weekday hours and 24/7 email support within one hour.

Conclusion

Both website builders and page builders used with a CMS can provide the right amount of service and support for you. It’s a matter of researching what each has to offer and determining how that matches up with your business needs.

Costs Comparison

WordPress software is free, and basic website hosting is usually $3-10 monthly. Larger or more complicated sites can command as much as $40 per month. Purchasing a domain name, premium themes and plugins, plus additional optional services, can also drive up a WP site’s costs.

Squarespace charges about $15 monthly for a basic website and can go up to $40 or more for added features and functionality. Although the website builders are proprietary and don’t require you to select and maintain your own hosting platform, they do offer a range of payment plans to fit a variety of needs. These platforms also accommodate e-commerce options.

Conclusion

Depending upon your website strategy, you may find that one solution or the other is best for your budget and requirements. Determine your upcoming campaigns and growth plans when taking costs into account. And take advantage of less-costly resources as long as they’re available and practical.

Content Ownership

With WordPress, you’re completely in charge of and responsible for your site’s content and performance. It’s your intellectual property, so there’s no chance of confusion.

Note that Squarespace controls all your content, along with the domain name and hosting platform. Should their hardware or software become compromised, you have no responsibility, but no recourse, either. Your domain and digital assets are under the authority of your website builder’s platform.

Conclusion

Because the website builders must accommodate so many users, they have to maintain a high level of security on the development side of the sites they host. That means a lot less control for you, but it also frees you from the responsibilities of maintaining a self-hosted website. It’s your choice.

Time to Decide

It’s all-important to have a well-designed, user-friendly website these days. While many entrepreneurs still follow the traditional route and work with a developer to set up and maintain their sites, many more are opting to try their hand at using today’s popular website builders instead.

Both website builders and page builders create sites suitable for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The differences in costs are negligible. You may have as much or as little hands-on activity as you wish with either choice. The final decision comes down to how much control you want to have over your most important business asset.

I suggest you consider how much involvement you plan to have in your website’s daily management. Also, think about your needs as your business grows. If you don’t expect to sell a number of different products, for example, you probably won’t need the same power and functionality as an online retailer would.

All in all, Squarespace is my recommendation for those who prefer a website builder. It does allow a certain degree of flexibility and content ownership. The platform offers a variety of professionally designed templates that create beautiful websites. And Squarespace is one website builder that allows you to change your template, or theme, whereas some others do not.

They have an upgraded suite of SEO tools and integrate with Google Analytics, as well as providing real-time performance reporting. By offering unlimited bandwidth across all their payment plans, Squarespace has an edge over other website builders that are more restrictive. And Squarespace allows full export of your website to WordPress if or when your site outgrows their platform, an unrivaled feature.

If your plans are to scale your business rather quickly, you may prefer to avoid the concern of eventually moving your online presence from a proprietary solution to a content management system that you control. In that case, start with WordPress using a page builder from the beginning.

Although you may not wish to devote the time and energy website development and maintenance requires, you’re free to contract out much of the daily routine management so the behind-the-scenes aspects run just as smoothly as with a proprietary solution.

You’ll be better off with WP and a page builder because it gives you more control of your digital assets and a greater degree of flexibility. As your business grows, you may find that a necessity.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a website builder and a page builder can be a challenging decision. It all comes down to your personal preferences and business needs.

Both create attractive, functional websites; both are relatively easy to learn and use. Excellent customer support can be found with either solution. And although they use different pricing models, the overall costs work out to be about the same.

Whichever you choose, make sure your website reflects your business in the best possible light.

How To Conduct a Comprehensive Website Audit

How To Conduct a Comprehensive Website Audit

Completing a regular website audit is among the best investments you can make in your online business.

Done quarterly, you get to monitor what’s working and what’s not. With this knowledge, you can continually improve your processes, services, and products.

Why wait to do a review once a year? No telling what insights you may miss in that amount of time! Not to mention the overwhelming chore the task becomes if left unattended for so long.

Reviewing your site’s performance regularly gives you the data you need to serve your audience exactly what they crave. You can be ready with answers to their pressing questions and solutions for their demanding problems.

You’ll be in a better position to reap the best results from your online business with every audit performed.

Is it Really That Important?

A comprehensive website audit is an examination of your website’s marketing performance. In addition to the technical aspects, such as SEO visibility and page speed, you’ll evaluate the impact your promotional campaigns are having on your target audience.

To optimize for overall performance, analyze both your site’s design and content strategy. Seek to uncover gaps where you can deliver a better user experience as well as more focused materials. Take a look at your website from different angles to see where it might be improved.

A comprehensive audit is not so difficult or time-consuming that you can’t do one at least every quarter. The time is well spent because you’ll check your traffic plus emerging trends in your sector. That information is required for you to stay on top of the needs of your audience.

Start With a Plan

Having a strategic plan of action before you begin makes it much easier to evaluate your website.

Review the goals you set for the period when you did your last assessment. Hopefully, you decided at that time which metrics you would measure to gauge their success.

Improved SEO results, increased audience engagement, and better conversion rates are all common business objectives that can be refined using information from this exercise.

You may need to use different key performance indicators (KPIs) every quarter, so don’t feel these must be set in stone.

Let’s begin with your content.

Conduct a Content Audit

It isn’t so overwhelming to conduct a comprehensive content audit if it’s broken down into phases. Try these suggestions.

Set up a simple spreadsheet with the information you’ll need to inventory and assess all your content. Your up-to-date editorial calendar is an invaluable tool when looking into your content’s metrics. It should provide you with all the details for each piece available through your site.

Along with the title, type and format of each piece of content, note its URL, buyer’s journey stage, author if you have more than one contributor, and the date of publication/last modification.

For auditing purposes, also collect the three metrics you’ve decided to analyze, along with columns for rating each item and recording notes or comments about that piece. Download our Content Asset Worksheet to get a head start.

With this information compiled, analyze your content assets from the point of your last audit to date. (Another reason to do this quarterly!) Notice any trends uncovered by the data, and make notes for future action.

For example, should a piece be repurposed or retired? Which articles would benefit from a stronger call-to-action (CTA)? Could your well-performing webinars be promoted and offered for another viewing? Can you plan upcoming initiatives around the best-performing topics? Are there broken or misdirected links that need updating?

Document your evaluation once completed. Use insights from this project to refine your content marketing.

Rejuvenate Your Content Strategy

Use your blog wisely. A blog is the centerpiece of every successful website. Readers continually demand fresh content and your blog is the best way to serve it to them.

Think of your postings as the specials on a restaurant menu. Serve assets for readers at every stage of the sales cycle. Some visitors want only an appetizer, but others are ready for your full course meal.

These are the ideal clients who have visited and developed a taste for your offerings over time. Don’t forget to add a couple of sweet enticements to keep them satisfied.

Deliver fresh content. Readers hunger for new and better information with every search request. Be alert to seasonal trends and use the freshest ingredients when designing your content.

Regularly providing resources that rely on the most trustworthy references in your niche is the best way to satisfy audience cravings.

You may need some help, so consider outsourcing some of your content creation to a ghostwriter competent in your market.

Even better is to keep your ears open to issues of concern in your industry. Use these insights to create enriching content that caters to your readers.

More Content Tips

Conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips.

Conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips.

Offer your content in several formats. Don’t forget to present your “specials” in different ways. Not every visitor has the taste for a 1,000-word blog post, so offer a podcast, short video or on-demand webinar for immediate consumption.

Check out your competitors. You don’t need to steal their recipes to get an idea of ways you might present your offerings that will appeal to your audience and give them a taste of something new.

Interact with your guests. Ever notice that the owners of the best restaurants get to know their regulars and make themselves available to all their clientele? They help their patrons feel welcome and comfortable, and you have to do the same.

In addition to analyzing your metrics, ask your visitors for their opinions on new initiatives. Customers will gladly share their ideas and let you know their feelings if given the chance.

And you’ll want to know about any glitches right away so you can eliminate them and keep your readers happy.

Conduct a Website Audit

A comprehensive audit also gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your website optimization activities. The information it reveals will guide you in enhancing your site for maximum performance, SEO, and conversion rates.

User experience is a foundation of high-performing websites. To maintain visitor enjoyment and comprehension, look at how well your site functions from a user’s standpoint. A little tweaking here and there can do wonders for your online business.

Strive to make it easy for your visitors to find what they’re searching for. Guide them with clear navigation and an intuitive flow from page to page.

Review your website as a visitor would to reveal small details that might be putting them off. Notice areas that could be improved to help your readers gain the most value from your offerings.

Have a trusted friend take a look and give you an honest review. They might see something you’ve overlooked.

Feed Your Audience’s Needs

How to know what to serve your visitors? It’s a lot harder to satisfy their cravings if you have no idea what they have a taste for.

When internet pickings were slim, people were happy with whatever crumbs of information or entertainment they found online. But these days, your visitors have access to websites from all over the world featuring a multitude of flavors. Stay in touch with your customer base to give your guests exactly what they’re hungry for.

Improve User Experience

Your website should be as easy to understand and as nice to look at as you can make it. Just like a fine meal, it should be a feast for the eyes as well as a satisfying experience.

Format your content with readers in mind. It’s difficult to read long pieces of content presented without breaks. Large blocks of words are overwhelming to the eye and put readers off. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, bolding, numbered lists, and other visual aids to keep the flow of your content attractive and easy to read.

Reduce the clutter. Go easy on your guest’s eyes. Don’t try to crowd everything onto a single page. Your images and designs can’t convey the desired effect if they’re crowding out your posts. Spread your content out to give your visitors a chance to digest it.

Use colors and placement to highlight information. Without contrast to break things up and draw the eye to certain areas of the page, your readers can easily gloss over important points in your presentation.

Review for typos. Nothing is more distracting than a website with spelling mistakes and missing words. Not only are such errors annoying, but they can also reduce your visitor’s understanding of the information you’re trying to convey.

Some readers will never come back if they sense you don’t care enough to give them a professional experience on your website. Thought leaders generally take more care and are rewarded with loyal followers as a result.

Presentation Is Key

When dining in a fine restaurant, the presentation is just as important as the flavors of the meal. And fast food takeout is packaged for quick and easy consumption, even on the road. The delivery is appropriate to the user’s needs. Make sure your website does the same.

It’s up to you to decide the type of brand you represent and your website must follow suit. The smallest details are those that can make or break your business.

Imagine what your visitors would think if they found your website riddled with spelling errors and broken links. The only recommendations they might give would be for laughs at your expense.

Whatever your product or service, the presentation must be appealing and inviting to entice visitors and keep them coming back.

Final Thoughts

Periodic website audits can uncover weaknesses in your online recipe. They’re your best insurance against driving your ideal clients to abandon your site in search of more appetizing selections.

Presenting your audience with valuable information served in a beautiful setting shows them you care enough to pay attention to detail. They’ll appreciate the time you’ve taken to give them what they’re looking for delivered in a way they can appreciate.

Carve out some time to conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips in mind. Download our Content Audit Worksheet and adapt it for your use. Then let us know what you think in the Comments!

References: Content Marketing Institute, SEMrush Blog, HubSpot Blog