Recently, a realtor came to me warning that she’s “not very tech savvy,” in an apologetic tone. This realtor needs an affordable website for her San Diego business. Like many who call and email me, she was embarrassed to know nothing about search engine optimization, conversion optimization and social marketing. I worked hard to convince her that she is not “too late to the game,” or “hopeless.” Anyone can learn this stuff! I resent the marketers who imply that it’s too complex for the average small business owner to get their head around. Even though Coca Cola has 49 million followers on Facebook and multiple websites made up of thousands of pages, small business still has plenty of time create a powerful web presence that brings in leads and establishes them as the leader in their field!
Small Businesses Can Succeed Using Affordable Websites
In fact, small business owners who:
- optimize their websites for relevant, qualified keywords,
- keep optimizing with regular search engine optimized, useful and relevant blog content,
- use social media to keep their business name on the forefront of prospects’ minds, and
- unify and streamline it all so that it isn’t overwhelming
. . . have a huge edge over their other small business competitors. Just check out your closest competitors and see how often they’re blogging, posting on Google+ or Facebook. It isn’t much! Small business doesn’t need to compete with Coca Cola, just the fellow nutritionist, electrician, attorney or veterinarian down the road. Most of these are not optimized for local search or any search whatsoever!
Where Small Businesses Get into Trouble with FREE & Affordable Websites
Three ways: 1. There are many companies that will give you a free website platform, but they run ads on it, hoping to make money through “affiliate” programs. Do you want site visitors clicking to other businesses, away from your site? No. 2. Heavily marketed on television, Web.com and others CLAIM to give you a FREE website. Sure, it’s FREE for one month and they you start paying $99 each month thereafter. You get your website up and going and then realize that hosting is $5 per month at other sites like Blue Host and Dream Host. When you call Web.com to move your site from them to a new host, they let you know that privilege will cost you a cool $999. 3. Webly, WebEasy and others are very limited and fail to tell you how important search engine optimization is. Further, your business has the extension .webly.com or .webeasy.com after it, and that’s just not professional. In fact, www.markstherapeuticmassage.webly.com or www.firstchoicemortgage.webeasy.com just screams novice.No one wants to do business with a company that’s new and untried.
My Email to the Fretting Real Estate Agent
Dear Violet, Michelle mentioned you might be contacting me. Don’t worry about not being tech savvy. While most people won’t admit it, this internet marketing is STILL new to many! Particularly small businesses and their clients. Even if your real estate colleagues have websites, often they’re not search engine optimized or updated very often. They’re not that far ahead of you. If you are over 45 like me, this all can be intimidating. 5 years ago I was working for print publications and was afraid of Google Docs! I work hard to demystify the process and the online tools because most people CAN handle their own internet marketing once they get over the initial learning process. I like to think that I provide an internet marketing and social media “springboard,” leaping small businesses over the online, SEO, social media learning curve so they can take over these tasks themselves eventually and save money. You can also check out my page Affordable Small Business Social Media Springboard to get more information on how a small business gets leads and traffic through online channels like websites, blogs and social media. You’ll see there that I do the initial web pages, blog and social media posts, modeling best practices so you can take over if you want. I am happy to help you set up an affordable, search-engine-optimized website. You have several options:
Option 1. Homestead/Intuit Websites: $150 per Month, in Perpetuity
This established and ethical Intuit company, has a site builder that designs and optimizes a search engine optimized site for $150 per month. You will see $4.99/month and even $59.99/month options, but those are not search engine optimized and so they’re basically useless. You must have a search engine optimized site or your ideal clients don’t get to you. It’s just an online brochure, untrafficked but for the people you actually send there deliberately. The downside to Homestead’s overall fair platform is that if you decide to leave their organization, build a bigger, better CUSTOM site and go to be hosted at Blue Host or Dream Host (two I recommend), you CANNOT take the site with you.You have to build a completely new site. The other downside to Homestead is that this $150 per month option doesn’t include the crucial optimized content writing that I provide and that can run you $75 per page for web pages and $40 per blog post. Homestead’s sales reps tell you to provide all written content and if you’re not a content writer, you’ll miss a lot of search engine traffic. You should do 2 blog posts a week (but you can do these yourself). If you write the initial drafts of your own pages and posts, I can re-write your pages, optimizing them and making them engaging and interesting for prices lower than those above. Get me a draft of a blog post and I’ll optimize and spruce it up for $25. You can toss one post a week, one a month or whatever you need to me. Fresh content posted regularly is important for search engine optimization. The other downside to the Homestead affordable website option is that at the end of the first year, you’ve paid $1800 ($150 x 12) for a site. By the end of the second year, $3600; Year 3: $5,400. And so on . . . For $5,400 you can get a CUSTOM site made by my friends at Future Ink here in San Diego (see below). You will still need search engine optimized content (fresh blog posts and web pages), however. Either you can create it or you can pay for that. As I mentioned, I write 10 original blog posts for $400 and 10 revisions of blog post DRAFTS or even NOTES for $250 per month. My prices are low. And make sure to tell them that you need a blog on the site. That’s crucial.
Option 2: Future Ink
This San Diego internet marketing firm charges $5,000 to $10,000 or more for a search engine optimized websites, plus monthly fees for updates and maintenance. Future Ink has won many awards from reputable organizations including Forbes Magazine. They are the real thing.
Option 3: SEO, Inc
$25,000 and up for a search engine optimized website, plus $1,000 per month for updates and maintenance. These guys usually work for “enterprise” level companies, like Fortune 500, etc. (I guess this wouldn’t really be in the “affordable” category, but I wanted to give readers and idea of the range . . . .
Option 4: Custom Affordable Websites with Informed Web Content
I can start you out by writing 10 pages of optimized content and do the keyword research to organize your website based on your best (most potentially trafficked) keywords for $800. Keyword research and setting up the site navigation is time intensive as is the actual writing. Each page must demonstrate your unique selling propositions, appeal to both the emotions and the intellect of the visitor, have the right primary and secondary keywords and include “calls to action” or “coversion opportunities” like “Join Our Newsletter and Get our San Diego Relocation Tips!” More conversion opportunities are schedule appointment forms, phone numbers prevalent and invitations to follow you on Facebook and other social media platforms. But that’s just the SEO, the written content and the site navigation/organization. For the website’s coding and design I use Ryan Gravador who is expert on WordPress but will build a site for the most reasonable prices I’ve found in San Diego: $850. The total cost of your site will be $1650 and you should probably hire Ryan to do monthly site maintenance and updates for $50 per month, if only for the first 3 months. (These are coding updates, uploading blog posts that you write, etc. Although uploading a blog post is so freaking easy it’s a shame to pay for it. That’s why I help clients learn this stuff.) To keep the website fresh and maximize your SEO, you need to blog regularly and post announcements about those blogs on Facebook, Google+ etc. I can get you started with the social media process by setting up your Facebook and Google+ page, writing your initial 5 or so blog posts and then broadcasting them through Facebook and Google Plus. But when I do it, I show YOU how to do the same thing so you can take these duties over and drop me all together, saving you money in the long run. Ryan and I both believe that once a site is built, of course it’s yours to take wherever you want! We’ll also help you learn how to post your own blog content, make changes to the site yourself, etc, if you want to. You’ll want to: It’s fun! To do the first 5 blog posts without drafts, set up your Facebook and Google + pages, do the first 2 weeks of social media content, I charge $600. This cost includes me training YOU how to do it yourself.
The Affordable Website Isn’t the Entire Picture for Effective Local Search
Because you have a local business, you’ll also need to get on the Local Directories. I recommend Universal Business Listings which puts you on at least 30 local directories for $169 per year. The local directories are CitySearch, LocalEze, Judy’s Book, yp.com, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Google Plus Local, etc. Where other companies say they’ll do it for you, HYPE the advantages and charge multiple hundreds for the year, I just pass you along to the site itself: https://www.ubl.org. I don’t get a cut. I can, however, help you search engine optimize your listing there. That’s important. I charge $75 to create an optimized write up, get your photos and videos “alt-tagged” properly for SEO, etc. You then upload that to www.ubl.org (or I can do it) and they shoot the info to all the directories. Yext.com is another local search directory one-stop-shop option but it’s more expensive – $50 per month. With Universal Business Listings and Yext, if you have a change to your business or add an additional service, you don’t have to go to every single directory. You just make the change through UBl.org and they change it everywhere.
A Custom, Affordable Website through Informed Web Content Includes . . .
A site that Ryan and I build includes Google Analytics (critical for knowing where your traffic is coming from and how they are moving around on your site), email accounts, contact forms, social media integration, SEO plug ins to make do-it-yourself SEO easy, SiteMap and many conversion opportunitieslike “sign up for our email newsletter list and get “10 Best Resources for Relocating to San Diego!” or “10 Most Commonly Forgotten Items in a Move.” Other “conversion” opportunities or “calls to action” include the phone number prominent, the “have a question? schedule an appointment” form on every page and the links that encourage people to follow you on Facebook and Google+.
As for how long a website takes to build, given my and Ryan’s current workload, we aren’t scheduling to start new work for 2 weeks. After that, it takes another 2 weeks for us to get all the info from you that we need and then get the first “draft” to you. We both get 1/2 up front and 1/2 upon completion of work.
Confused about Affordable Websites? Baby Steps . . .
This is a lot of information. If I’ve confused you here, I’m sure I can clear things up when we meet and talk more on the phone. And for heavens’ sakes, don’t think you’re going to understand all of this stuff this week or even this month. Keep in mind that anything can be learned in baby steps. Informed Web Content takes you over each hurdle slowly and with lots of phone calls and emails. The best way to learn is to dive in, experiment, make a few mistakes, rectify them quickly and then brag to all your friends that you RULE online. When you sign on with Informed Web Content, services include listening to you have panic attacks and rectifying your issues. If you still want to meet, do you have time on Monday? I typically meet clients at Mimi’s cafes or Starbucks where there is WiFi. I work from my home in Scripps Ranch. Sincerely, Suzanne To all my blog readers: please feel free to sign up for my monthly email newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to follow along with the ins and outs of successful online marketing for small businesses. Contact me if you are ready to get started with an effective but affordable website.