Google Analytics

Google Analytics

what is it and how can it help your business?

Google analytics is a service offered by Google to measure and report on visitors to your website. The service can generate detailed statistics and reports to let you make informed decisions about what does and doesn’t on your website. The service is free but there is a premium version available for free.

Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. It also tracks display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.

So in simple terms you can find out useful information like when people visit your website, how long they spent, what pages are the most visited and how they find your website.

A quick guide to making Google Analytics work for you

In simple terms, Analytics is a free web service provided by Google, although it requires you create an account. You (or your web developer) simply add some code to your website and it will start to track and store all kinds of very useful information about how people find and use your website.

Why is it so helpful to small business?

In the days before the internet, small businesses wishing to entice potential customers into their stores had to rely heavily on traditional advertising, word of mouth and impressive front window displays to lure in passers-by. It is very difficult to measure just how effective each type of advertising is.

Your Website is a new ‘storefront’

Think of your website as your ‘virtual shop-window’ and Google Analytics as an all seeing camera that keeps track of everyone arriving at, wandering around and leaving your store. Google Analytics is split into four key reporting areas; Audience (who is visiting your site), Acquisition (how they are getting to your site), Behaviour (what they are doing on your site) and Conversions (have they completed what you wanted them to), each of which is useful for difference purposes.

What can you learn with Google Analytics?

How visitors found your website (via search engines, social media, or links on other sites etc)

If they are first-time visitors, or returning traffic.

How visitors moved through the site e.g. did they stay a while and read? Did they click on different pages? Did they get bored and leave straight away?

How they accessed the website in the first place e.g. were they on a mobile phone? Or were they doing some online shopping at their work desk when the boss wasn’t looking?

The success (or failure) of key conversion points on your site: i.e. the pages on your website such as ‘newsletter sign up’ or ‘contact form’ where potential customers can ‘convert’ to a lead by entering their details.

For ecommerce sites it can track sales, average order value etc.

In fact, the above is just a small portion of the metrics that Google Analytics allows you to track and interpret across your domain.

In short, Google Analytics allows you to:

  • Gain invaluable insights into your customer’s behaviour
  • Examine facts rather than assumptions or guesses.
  • Confidently make educated decisions on how to make improvements to your website.
  • So if you’re in need of better information as to how your customers access your website, or even just some friendly advice, get in touch with us.

To discuss how Technology Solutions can help your business call 0800 878 878.

Selecting A Web Designer/Developer

Selecting A Web Designer/Developer

Everything you ever wanted to know about hiring a Web designer but were afraid to ask

Before starting it’s important to determine the purpose of your site. Do you want to sell products online? Are you planning to improve brand loyalty, provide information or perhaps just to keep up with your competition?

Study your competition’s sites. Figure out what they are doing well and what they doing poorly. It’s easy to find fault with things, the trick is remembering these faults and making sure you don’t do the same thing. These are the web sites that you are going to have to better if you’re going to attract visitors to your site.

You will find that, as in any field, there is a wide variety of ability among Web designers. Hire a Web designer who knows what they’re doing and focuses on how to help your business. Beware of technicians who have never run a business, or have recently relocated or are re-engineered entrepreneurs who are new to the field. Technicians aren’t famous for getting along with people or for their creativity, while new entrepreneurs force you to pay for their learning curve. Don’t be fooled by businesses that spout jargon; being able to talk the talk is all very well, but it’s important that they can explain the technology to you in terms that you understand.

Be careful of designers who promise incredible results from using the Web. Results will vary – most things aren’t a success overnight. Like all forms of advertising it takes time to see results. Be a little cautious about any great success stories, as they will often be exaggerated. Don’t expect to put an online selling web site in place and to sit back and have the sales pour in – there is a little more to it than that!

You need to hire a designer who has created a number of sites, and has been in business for a period of time. Remember that the Web was only created in 1993, so it’s still rather young. They should be able to show you some examples of Web sites they have created in the past. Have they created small (3 pages and less), medium (5-30 pages), and huge (100+ pages) sites? If so, they will know from experience how to approach your project.

Focus on results, not technology, tricks, or jargon

Your Web Designer should talk business and market share, not techie promises. A common approach to a new client is to talk of what the future will be, of how wonderful all the new technology will be.

The key phrase here is “will be” – anyone predicting the future is looking in a crystal ball that changes every day. This might be nice for a psychic hotline, but death for a business. Many designers will explain different Internet technologies like video, sound, phone, music and so on.

Watch out for designers that use new technology just because it’s there. Ask yourself – Is this going to help promote my business and help my clients? Many of these new technologies require plug-ins (extra software that must be downloaded) or newer browsers, limiting your potential audience.

Find a Web designer who builds within the constraints of your audience’s Internet connection. Many of the people in the online marketplace are from areas outside of cities, with slow phone lines and a variety of computers. Simple sites reach all people, while using technological tricks limits market share. Do you want to reach the most people or pay a lot more for something that won’t work on every machine? Look at the big players (Amazon.com etc.) – their site’s are focused on ease of use.

Discover a Web designer’s skills by what others say

The true measure of any business is what its clients and reviewers say about it. Don’t fall for the assumption that any old Web designer will do – read what clients and objective outsiders say about the company. Word of mouth is your most powerful ally when choosing a Web designer.

Look carefully at the designer’s own site. There are some terrible sites proclaiming the abilities of the Web designer. Watch out for the old line – ‘We are too busy designing web pages to do our own site’. Don’t believe it. A comment like that wouldn’t make sense at all in any other area of business. Would you hire a builder that lived in a small old shack because they were too busy doing building work for others?

A good Web designer combines excellent graphic skills, programming ability, content development and knowledge of how the Web works. Make sure you get this combination and don’t settle for less. The look of the page, making the text easy to read and navigate around, and a simple focus on your business’ bottom line are the most important requirements of any Web site. You need much more than a technician does. Understanding HTML coding is one thing, but having creative flair is also very important.

Find a Web designer with a business plan, not just production

What is the process taken by the company to create your Web site? Do they customize your site or just plonk your details into a template? The Web site that is unique wins out over those thrown up just for the sake of being on the Web. Your Web designer should look at what you have to offer, make suggestions to present it that work with your current efforts, and provide the simplest design in a cost effective approach. Don’t settle for less.

Be careful of those offering free sites or who promise to put you up within a few days.

You are putting your business online – do you want to take the McDonald’s approach or spend a little extra time to get a custom designed site? Take the time to do it right and hire a professional; you can always make more money, but losing time by putting up a poor Web site will cost you much more. Your competition will gain an advantage, because every time someone comes to your site, they’ll notice how quickly and poorly it was done. And they will never come back. Would you?

So if you’re in need of some help with web design, or even just some free friendly advice, get in touch with us on 0800 878 878

Choosing a Good Domain Name

Choosing a Good Domain Name

Introduction

One of the basic web fundamental is selecting a good domain name. This usually takes nothing more than a little common sense and thought, however this is often overlooked. Many companies overly complicate their domain name and thus run the risk of losing visitors to their web site. In general selecting a good domain name doesn’t mean shelling out bags of cash to purchase an existing name, but rather involves giving a little thought to what you want your domain name to do for you.

Background

Domain names are used on the Internet as unique identifiers to direct people to specific web sites. A domain name is something like bobstvrepairs.com or in the case of this site techs.co.nz. They are advertised with and without the www’s. We make sure both work, so www.techs.co.nz is the same as techs.co.nz. A domain name has to be registered with the domain registrar for the relevant country. For example domains ending in ‘.com’ have to be registered with a U.S. registrar and domains ending in ‘.co.nz’ with the New Zealand registrar. Once a domain has been registered you own that domain and until you either relinquish the domain or cease to pay yearly registration fees for it you will always own it.

In some cases you may see ‘http://’ added to the front of a domain name, for example https://www.techs.co.nz. This makes the domain a URL. URL is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator. This is often used interchangeably with domain name, Internet address, or web address. In terms of marketing your domain name this isn’t usually needed; most people figure it’s an Internet thing when they spot the www’s on the domain. Internet browsers will work fine with or without the http:// prefix.

Domain name allocation operates on a first in first served basis. So if you want bobstvrepairs.com and someone already has it that’s just tough. Naturally you have the capitalist right of trying to persuade the current owner to sell it to you, but be warned – they usually will want large amounts of cash.

Types of Domains

Domain names have several different levels – these are the bits in between the dots. To start with, the top-level domain is the .com or .nz bit. The U.S. doesn’t bother with a country code (because after all they invented the internet, right?), however all other countries have a two letter country code identifier. For example New Zealand uses .nz, the United Kingdom uses .uk, Australia uses .au.

After the country code there is the second level of domain, in New Zealand this is commonly the .co bit. The .co means company, but is often used for any type of domain. Other second level domains in

New Zealand are:

  • .ac Tertiary educational institutions and related organisations
  • .co Organisations pursuing commercial aims and purposes
  • .cri Crown Research Institutes
  • .gen Individuals and other organisations not covered elsewhere
  • .govt National, regional and local government organisations
  • .iwi A traditional Maori tribe, mandated by the local Iwi Authority
  • .mil Military organisations of the NZ Government
  • .net Organisations and service providers directly related to the NZ Internet
  • .org Not-for-profit organisations
  • .school Primary, secondary and pre-schools and related organisations
  • .kiwi for some reason
  • .geek because we know they are special

The U.S. top-level domains are:

  • .com Commercial organisations .org Non-profit organisations
  • .mil Military organisations
  • .net Networking organisations
  • .edu 4-year educational organisations
  • .biz for businesses and corporations
  • .info for information-based services such as newspapers, libraries, etc.
  • .name individuals’ and personal websites
  • .pro for professions such as law, medicine, accounting, etc.
  • .aero services and companies dealing with air travel
  • .museum for museums, archival institutions, and exhibitions

In most cases the company or business extension is usually the most appropriate domain type to use, which results in a suffix of .com, .co.nz, .com.au and so on.

For the most part domain names can be registered in any country, and usually with a range of choices for the second level domain. So what’s best? Usually a .com domain name indicates a larger company than people might expect, however if your choice of name is available in both .com and (for instance) .co.nz then is usually prudent to purchase both. This at least prevents a competitor purchasing the other and directing visitors to their site.

As the choice of domains diminishes you are forced to consider the less attractive domains – such as .org or .org.nz. While these don’t operate any differently to the other domains they simply don’t look as good. Having said that however, they do have specific uses also, so it depends on your objectives.

What makes a good domain name?

Well, surprising as it may be, a good domain name is simply one that people can remember. If they can remember it they can visit your site, and usually visiting your site is a good thing. However, there are a few other points to this domain name stuff than just remembering the name. In order for a domain name to be easily recalled it needs to be simple, and usually short. Long names can be remembered, it is just there are more characters for the user to spell incorrectly or put in the wrong place.

Apply the ‘radio’ test to any prospective domain names. The radio test is: Can the name be easily conveyed to a listener on the radio? A listener to the radio should be able to hear your domain and then at a later stage go to their web browser and type in your domain and find your site without any problem. Numbers, hyphens and words that have multiple spellings can create confusion.

As an example, the domain name www.regent3-cinemas.co.nz has a number of problems. It has an unnecessary hyphen. The word ‘cinemas’ isn’t the best choice as cinemas often get referred to as picture theatres. The domain is unnecessarily lengthy. Having the number 3 in the name could cause confusion as well. A much better domain name would be www.mastertonregent.co.nz or www.regentmovies.co.nz, which are available at the time of writing.

Hyphens should be avoided unless you are registering both domain names (e.g. pc-parts.co.nz & pcparts.co.nz). The one good thing about hyphens is they increase the readability of a domain name, however they fail the radio test. It is often worth registering both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated names. This means users will find your site even when they miss out the hyphen. It is certainly unwise to use a hyphenated name without also registering the non-hyphenated domain. If someone already has the non-hyphenated domain then it’s wiser to select a entirely different name.

Try giving out the domain name rigg-zschokke.co.nz so someone on the phone – I can’t even say it let alone spell it! It is the company name but for users that are not familiar with the name it is difficult to spell. In this case rzl.co.nz or riggs.co.nz would be better additional names (the l is for Limited).

Some marketing Ideas

There is a temptation to obtain generic names like internet.co.nz or computers.com. Research shows, however, this leaves no room for the site to develop character and gain a place in your users’ minds.

On the Internet image is everything. You have to have some personality and brand identity, and most importantly you have to have a name with some retention value, which means one that is easy to remember and hard to forget. When Tim Koogle was head hunted from Motorola to run a small little start-up Internet Company, changing their company name was going to be needed for Koogle to take the job. What was the name? Yahoo.

While a generic name is nice if you can get it, there are not that many left, and those that are for sale are typically available for stupidly large amounts of cash. Generic names do provide a great marketing edge and result in steady flow of visitors to your site.

It is also a good idea to try and offer some benefit in your domain name. According to marketing experts, people don’t buy products, they buy benefits. So if given a choice of anothermusicstore.com or musicforless.com which would you choose? musicforless.com has a head start on its competitors by offering a benefit right there in the domain name – the music is cheap. plumbersontime.co.nz are more likely to get a visit when up against, say, bobsplumbing.co.nz in a search list.

A word of warning, your domain name may look nice when you have it capitalised to make it look clear but remember search engines always treat domains in lower case, so things like FredsExports.com turns into fredsexports.com, which has an entirely different look. Also its best to stay away from trademarked names. These companies usually have invested a lot of time and money into building their name brand. We have all heard the stories of the guy that sold a domain for enough money to retire on. However these days companies are calling their lawyers rather than reaching for their cheque book to solve domain disputes of this kind.

How many is enough?

There’s no need to go crazy with how many domains you need. Usually one will suffice. Sometimes if the .com version is available taking that and your local country domain (if different) is a good idea. Different spelling or common mistakes also make sense, for example Forest Enterprises have the domains forestenterprises.co.nz and forestenterprise.co.nz.

Another reason for bagging additional domains is simply to stop your competitors using them. These domains don’t have to be used and can just be registered and parked to prevent others using them.

So what’s available?

Each country maintains a registrar for the domains it holds. So it’s quite simply to determine what domains are available. For U.S. (.com etc.) domains check the registry at internic.com. For New Zealand domains check the registry with Domainz.

I want one, what do I do?

Simply contact Technology Solutions with your details and we can take care of the whole process for you. You don’t need to do anything more. Simple.

Summary

Choosing a good domain is a simple process. The golden rule is keep it short and simple. Use the appropriate domain category and if required get more than just your own countries domain. Avoid hyphenated names and trademarks. Where necessary, register alternative domains to protect your company/product and to anticipate common problems users may encounter.

So if you’re in need of some help with domain names, or even just some free friendly advice, get in touch with us on 0800 878 878

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation

WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is getting your website, not only into Search Engines, but at the top of results in Search Engines.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Having your business at the top of search results is really becoming an important part of business marketing for a number of reasons. Teenagers for example, no longer look to the Yellow Pages, or read the newspaper for business listings, but simply Google what they want. If another business is at the top of the ranking, that’s what they will likely choose.

GETTING STARTED

This might seem silly, but if you don’t submit your site address to Google, it won’t get indexed properly and your site simply won’t show up anywhere near the top.

Don’t know if you are?

Simply do a search in Google for SITE:YOURSITENAME.CO.NZ

SUBMITTING SITE TO GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS (GOOGLE)

  1. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url?pli=1
  2. Enter in your website URL into the text box then click on Submit Request.

SUBMITTING SITE TO BING

  1. Go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url
  2. Enter in your website URL into the text box then click Submit.

5 BASIC TIPS

GREAT CONTENT!

Simple, original and real content will win over fake reading stuff nearly every time. Explain what you’re talking about in the best way you can.

PAGE TITLE AND PAGE NAMES

The <title> element inside of your pages is used as a suggestion for the title in Search Engine’s search results. Use it to describe the business and page in a concise informative phrase.

It’s also important to keep the names of the pages simple. If the user is searching for cheese and sees two options, one being blocksofcheese.html or prodid?435435 what do you think they would click?

META KEYWORDS AND META DESCRIPTION

While <meta name=”keywords”> and <meta name=”description”> do not raise your Google Pagerank (website’s “value” in rankings), they help the user click on your page with helpful descriptions from keyword searches.

Info: http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description

HEADER TAGS

Wrapping headers in header tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h3>) to show their importance will tell Search Engines the important bits of your pages.

SITEMAPS

A sitemap tells Search Engines what pages are your main ones and shows how they are linked together. You could use a generator to make things simpler: http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

So if you’re in need of some help with improving your search results, or even just some friendly advice, get in touch with us.

To discuss how Tech Solutions can help call us on 0800 878 878 or email office@techs.co.nz.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is getting your website, not only into Search Engines, but at the top of results in Search Engines.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Having your business at the top of search results is really becoming an important part of business marketing for a number of reasons. Teenagers for example, no longer look to the Yellow Pages, or read the newspaper for business listings, but simply Google what they want. If another business is at the top of the ranking, that’s what they will likely choose.

GETTING STARTED

This might seem silly, but if you don’t submit your site address to Google, it won’t get indexed properly and your site simply won’t show up anywhere near the top.

Don’t know if you are?

Simply do a search in Google for SITE:YOURSITENAME.CO.NZ

SUBMITTING SITE TO GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS (GOOGLE)

  1. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url?pli=1
  2. Enter in your website URL into the text box then click on Submit Request.

SUBMITTING SITE TO BING

  1. Go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url
  2. Enter in your website URL into the text box then click Submit.

5 BASIC TIPS

GREAT CONTENT!

Simple, original and real content will win over fake reading stuff nearly every time. Explain what you’re talking about in the best way you can.

PAGE TITLE AND PAGE NAMES

The <title> element inside of your pages is used as a suggestion for the title in Search Engine’s search results. Use it to describe the business and page in a concise informative phrase.

It’s also important to keep the names of the pages simple. If the user is searching for cheese and sees two options, one being blocksofcheese.html or prodid?435435 what do you think they would click?

META KEYWORDS AND META DESCRIPTION

While <meta name=”keywords”> and <meta name=”description”> do not raise your Google Pagerank (website’s “value” in rankings), they help the user click on your page with helpful descriptions from keyword searches.

Info: http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description

HEADER TAGS

Wrapping headers in header tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h3>) to show their importance will tell Search Engines the important bits of your pages.

SITEMAPS

A sitemap tells Search Engines what pages are your main ones and shows how they are linked together. You could use a generator to make things simpler: http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

So if you’re in need of some help with improving your search results, or even just some friendly advice, get in touch with us.

To discuss how Tech Solutions can help call us on 0800 878 878 or email office@techs.co.nz.

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