15 Ways To Grow Your Business on a Budget

As a small business owner, you have a lot going on. There’s a lot you need to focus on, from acquiring new clients, retaining existing ones, to creating new products and services. Focusing on these areas not only requires a devotion of time, but also money, and you may feel you don’t have the budget to grow your business.

But you’d be happy to know you don’t have to spend a fortune to grow your business. In fact, there are ways, means, and tools that can assist you to grow your business on a budget. All it requires from your side is some resourcefulness. Here are 15 ways to grow your business on a budget.

#1 Offer Lots of Free Content

Whether it be blog content, a free seminar, a free webinar or even a free eBook, offering free high-quality content not only establishes you as an expert, but it builds trust among existing and potential new customers. Trust is crucial in the online space. Build trust before you try and push for a sale.

And when you finally offer a paid product, the chances of a sale will be higher because if the free stuff is good, the paid stuff must be out of this world right? Follow influencers like Neil Patel to help you with your content strategy.

#2 Use Social Media

Using social media is a great way to build your online presence by sharing blog content and keeping potential customers updated on what’s happening in your business and industry.

You’re also able to reach a larger target market and interact with your target market. Social media is all about building your presence, establishing conversations, and building trust among your prospects.

Use online tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to automate your social media management.

#3 Use Email Marketing

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Make use of email service providers like MailChimp and ConvertKit to build your eMail List. These email subscribers will be your prospects and potential prospects. Communicate to them via email and offer them immense value. Offer them free guides, content, and specials only available via email.

#4 Speak at Events

Volunteer to speak at events and connect with other businesses and potential customers. Speaking will help establish you as an expert in the industry, allow you to grow your brand and help you get more clients either through their attendance at events or through referrals.

#5 Help Solve Problems by Being Authentic

Setup a blog and provide high-quality content that you give your customers for free. They will thank you for it. Authenticity is of vital importance in today’s age. Being authentic works well for the millennial generation, who value it.

#6 Be Personal

People enjoy the connection and they enjoy doing business with businesses that remember their names. Greet them by their names, send correspondence in simple, easy to understand language. Don’t use unnecessary jargon and big words. It will only make you look like a pompous prick.

#7 Use Small Business Apps

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Make use of small business apps that will help you automate workflow, save you time, and allow you to focus on other revenue generating activities. Many of the apps offer free versions and cater for the small business on a budget. Here are a few apps to get you started:

  1. Trello: the project management tool allowing remote collaboration.
  2. Bablic: do it yourself website translation.
  3. Slack:  the instant messaging app for teams.
  4. Yendo: provides affordable accounting and CRM software for small business.

#8 Recruit Top Talent Wisely

If you recruit top talent you can have peace of mind knowing that these hires know what they’re doing and will look after your customers. Your employees are the lifeblood of your business so recruit wisely.

#9 Offer Loyalty Programs

For the customers that remain loyal and continue to make purchases, encourage them to continue this trend by offering specials and discounts for their loyalty. For example, as a coffee shop owner you can give your customers a free coffee with every 10 coffees.

#10 Send Cards

Send thank you cards when they buy your product. Send cards when it’s their birthday and/or offer them a voucher they can use for a discount on their next purchase. Also, consider doing away with email and send personalized handwritten thank you cards. This shows you care and that you are willing to go the extra mile.

#11 Hire an Intern

This is a win-win as interns are looking to gain valuable experience and you can make use of them to find new clients for a fraction of what a new hire would cost you. Alternatively, they hire interns to focus on other business areas while you focus on landing new clients.

#12 Speak to existing customers to gather feedback on your products and services

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What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Where can you improve? Your customers will have valuable insights as they buy your products. They use them. So, listen to them. Consider using SurveyMonkey to create online surveys to gather customer feedback.

#13 Co-creation

Involve your most loyal customers in the creation of products. This works particularly well for the millennial generation who values brand experiences.

And what better way to let them get involved with your brand, than helping them create a new product. You can make use of online research communities, online surveys and even use A/B testing to see what’s working on your site and what isn’t. You can also apply this to beta-testing new products, by letting your most loyal customers have first access to a new product.

#14 Connect With Employees for New Hires

As your business grows, so does the need to hire new top talent. Now, you can approach an agency to handle this process and/or place job ads in classifieds, the newspaper and on the internet, but often the best place to look is internally.

Consider approaching your staff to see if they know of anyone who would be suitable for the job. Better yet, hire internally. Hiring internally has many benefits, one of which is that the person is already knowledgeable about your company and there won’t be a big learning curve.

#15 Pay Attention to What the Competition is Doing

I don’t recommend spending days and days just monitoring and copying competitors products and services. But it helps to track what they’re doing well and then implementing those strategies in your own company. You can only hope to improve and grow if you’re constantly learning, tweaking, and implementing.

For example using SEM rush you can gather insights into your competitor’s strategies in display advertising, organic and paid search, link building, estimated keyword difficulty and much, much more!

The above 15 ways are proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to grow your business. Do you use any of these techniques? How do you grow your business?

How to Effectively Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment is common, with people deserting their carts due to several reasons. Sure, there will always online shoppers who abandon their carts. Such is the nature of online shopping. People browse or “window” shop, save items for later purchase, and even compare prices.

A recent article by Baymard Institute – an independent web usability research institute – analyzed 34 studies on the shopping cart abandonment rate. The findings? Well, on average, 68.81% of shoppers abandon their carts.

That’s the reality online.

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But there are also factors like user experience that impact cart abandonment. However, these are factors that you have control over. For example, the Baymart study cites reasons why people leave their carts. Out of 1044 participants, 27% said the checkout process was too complicated.  You will be in a better position to fix them if you understand these problems.

And this is the focus of this article; listing common problems causing cart abandonment and solutions to solve them. By implementing these techniques, you’ll convert more of these shoppers into buyers and repeat customers.

#1 Be Transparent About All Costs Involved.

In the Baymard study, 24% of shoppers abandoned their carts because they were unable to calculate their total order cost up-front. Many shoppers today are also hit with extra charges at checkout.

You must make these costs visible to shoppers before the checkout stage. If you don’t shoppers will feel cheated. It’s really that simple.

Understandably, there are certain variable charges you cannot avoid. But again, you can rectify this problem by adding a sales-tax calculator for people to work out costs before proceeding to checkout. A post on Crazy Egg highlights how Best Buy does this to avoid surprise charges.

#2 Provide Free or Flat Shipping Costs

A study by Forrester highlights that 44% of online shoppers abandon their carts because of shipping or handling.  And 82% of customers want free shipping at checkout. There then is some serious demand and valid reasons for you to offer free shipping.

Free shipping offers the extra benefit of increasing the average order value as shoppers are more inclined to buy more . It also gives you a competitive advantage over stores that don’t offer it, with the potential to attract more online shoppers. So, offer free shipping – and importantly – make it visible for everyone to see.

#3 Build Trust; Include Trust Seals

The study by Baymard highlighted another telling statistic: 18% of people didn’t fill out their credit card information because they didn’t trust the online store with this information. If you want to achieve success online it’s crucial to build trust. Remember, many of the shoppers cannot connect with you. All they see is the store.

Further, credit card fraud is on the rise and many shoppers will be reluctant to give you their card information. Build this trust by including trust seals and guarantees. Be wary of which badges you use, though. According to Baymard, all badges are not made equal. For example, of the people in a survey, more people trust Norton (36%) than Comodo (2.8%).

#4 Make the Checkout Process Simple

For many online shoppers, a lengthy checkout process is an inconvenience.  Customers will be less likely to buy if there are many forms, questions, and pages. People shop online for convenience. For speed! And any process that infringes on those benefits is a hindrance. Make the checkout process simple. Offer an express checkout option to streamline the process.

#5 Provide Multiple Payment Options

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Customers want multiple payment options. If you’re unable to provide different payment methods you will lose customers as they will be unable to pay. The article in Crazy Egg highlighted how Walmart has reached a larger customer base since adopting this strategy. So, offer credit cards. But also offer the likes of PayPal, Apple Pay, and even Google wallet.

#6 Let Users Register an Account After The Sale

Some companies need shoppers to register an account before they buy. For many shoppers, this is an inconvenience and it’s no wonder that so many leave before buying.

As an online retailer, you want to track customer activity as having that data is essential. But, you need to do balance the need for that information vs shopper convenience. Consider employing a tactic that Walmart uses where shoppers are able to register an account at a later date.

#7 Remind Customers of Their Abandoned Carts

While the method we discuss here isn’t to reduce cart abandonment, it will help you recover potential lost sales. Remember: there will always be those customers who abandon carts.  

In such instances consider sending follow up emails to email customers notifying them of their abandoned cart. Or automate the process by using the many apps available on the market. For example, the Shopify App, Beautiful Abandonment Cart Emails,  will pull images of the applicable carts, allows you to customize email templates, and then send a follow-up.

Final Thoughts

Shopping cart abandonment is here to stay. This is the nature of online shopping. So, you will never get rid of it entirely. However, accepting this fact should not cause you to become complacent. You need to focus in on why people aren’t making that sale. Why are they abandoning the carts before checkout? You then need to make changes to your store to reflect the desire of shoppers.

The techniques listed here will help to reduce cart abandonment rates, with a spin-off: increased average order value, customer retention, more money, and ultimately more profits.

What techniques do you use to cut shopping cart abandonment?

11 Ways to Boost Your Average Order Value

Running your small business requires you to have your hands in many different pies. As you juggle the many day-to-day activities, it’s easy to overlook some of the nitty-gritty details that will allow you to become more profitable.

And in the same breathe when you actually get down to it, you find yourself totally overwhelmed by all those little aspects that need attention. The key then is to focus on those things that are really going to turn the needle. The things that are really going to rocket your growth!

One of those important “things” is the average order value (AOV). AOV is an essential metric that’s easy to measure.  The AOV is calculated by taking your total revenue divided by your total orders. And by increasing your average order value (AOV), you drastically increase the chance of becoming more profitable. But how can you increase your AOV? Here are 11 ways to start doing this.

1. Set Your Free Shipping Threshold

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Over 82% of consumers want the option of free shipping at check-out. This is some serious demand. And if you’re questioning whether it works or not consider the following statistics:

  1. In the United States over 40% of shoppers are willing to increase the value of their order to attain free shipping.
  2. There’s also plenty of research suggesting that shoppers abandon carts due to lack of free shipping.

Offering free shipping threshold then as a strategy to increase AOV works. But when doing so, do so with careful consideration. If you offer a free-shipping threshold, it has the potential to increase AOV, whilst decreasing total transactions. This is why you need to calculate free shipping within the overall purchase. Take the average order value and set your threshold 15-20% above this.

What you can also do to test this is to use A/B testing. Offer completely free shipping (no minimum order value or threshold) and free shipping after a minimum order value. Then compare metrics such as AOV, sales, revenue, and cart abandonment.

2. Provide Discounts on Minimum Orders

Another strategy that also works is to offer discounts on a minimum order value e.g. 20% off when you purchase $100 or more. This can be a great strategy to clear any slow moving stock.

3. Offer Available For a Limited Time

Psychology plays a crucial part in online shopping. By offering shoppers deals or discounts for a limited period of time (e.g. 24 hours) you create a sense of urgency and make them feel like they will miss out if they don’t make a purchase now. It could also potentially encourage them to purchase more in one go as the feel they need to make the most of this limited offer.

4. Discounts on Mass Purchases

Crafting a mass-discount or mass volume offer needs to be well thought out. You need to balance your profit margins and an offer that will attract many shoppers. Regardless, if done correctly this has the potential to drastically increase your AOV and profits. Paperstone, a London-based office supplies company successfully employed this strategy to increase AOV by 18.94%.

5. Engage in Up-selling

Through up-selling, you offer a similar, more expensive product or service in the hope that a shopper will purchase it. For example, if a customer is looking at a 16 GB iPad, include a photo of the 32 GB iPad. It needs to be done in a way that’s not intrusive otherwise this could discourage the shopper.

Whilst this is a strategy that works, you should not blindly follow it at every turn, for every customer. Some customers are new. Some haven’t even made a purchase. In these instances, up-selling might not be the best strategy.

6. Engage in Cross Selling

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Cross-selling is another technique that works in boosting your AOV. If someone is purchasing a Laptop, subtly recommend a mouse or a laptop bag as part of the purchase. The key is to recommend items which are relevant and complement one another. It doesn’t help recommending a surfboard when someone is purchasing a laptop. Whilst this is an extreme example, I think you get the point.

7. Offer Discounts on Packages

Whilst similar to cross-selling as similar related items are packaged together, the deal is only available for the package as a whole. For example 15% off when you purchase shoes, jeans, and a T-shirt all as a package.

8. Always Offer Some Form of Incentive

Offering any form of incentive greatly improves the odds of a purchase and the opportunity to increase your AOV. So offer one at every opportunity, whether it take the form of a cash-back, 10% off the next purchase or recurring points – that form part of a loyalty program – that shoppers can use for their next purchase

9. Make Use of Loyalty Programs

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According to research cited in a Weebly article, 70% of customers would prefer to shop at a retailer that offers a loyalty program. Loyalty programs make shoppers feel like they belong. They allow you to gather information about buying habits. This allows you to tailor offers even further to meet their specific needs. Don’t only include rewards for purchases, but also for registration, recommendations, and referrals. A loyalty program has immense potential to increase AOV.

10. Encourage Social Sharing and Customer Reviews

Positive reviews and recommendations from others create positive re-enforcement that the consumer has made the correct purchase.  So, encourage shoppers to share products and purchases, and to leave reviews which other potential shoppers can see. This will assist other shoppers with their purchase decisions.

11. Monitor Spending Patterns

Any decisions you make needs to be based on sound metrics. So monitor those metrics. Keep your eye on your AOV. Monitor spending patterns of shoppers.  See where there are dips. See where there are peaks. And based on this information don’t be scared to play around with the above 11 techniques to see what’s working and what isn’t. Ultimately through refinement, you’ll be well on your way to seeing a marked increase in your AOV.

Have you used any of the techniques outlined above to increase your AOV? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

6 of The Best SEO Tools That Will Boost Your Weebly Site Rankings

If the mere mention of the word SEO gives you feelings of dread, then this post is for you. Perhaps you perceive SEO as a mythical creature that you don’t truly understand? The fact of the matter is, it isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be and you needn’t spend loads of money  and countless hours worrying about it.

The goal of SEO is simple really. The idea is to make your site visible amongst search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc). There are ample SEO tools available on the internet to simplify the process of getting your site ranked on the first few pages of search engines, if not the first page!

Here are 6 of the best SEO tools that will give you piece of mind and help you boost your Weebly site ranking, drive traffic and generate more sales!

#1 Google Webmaster Tools

The first SEO tool we have is Google Webmaster Tools. This should be the first tool you use when you publish your site. Use it to verify your site and allow Google to index your pages through submitting a Site Map.

Verify your website

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  1. Sign into Google, click the “Add Property Button”.
  2. Type in the URL of your website and click continue.
  3. Choose from verification methods. Weebly recommends the HTML tag option. Click this option.
  4. Copy and paste the code provided.
  5. Visit your Weebly editor and locate your homepage.
  6. Click advanced settings where the header code section should appear.
  7. Copy and paste the code from earlier in here.

Submit a Site Map

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Following verification, it’s time to submit a Site Map. Site Maps allows Google to crawl and understand your website. This process is very simple.

  1. Go to your Dashboard.
  2. Click on Site Maps.
  3. Click Add Site Map.
  4. Add “sitemap.XML” into the box
  5. Click submit and you’re done!
  6. You need to wait a couple of days to weeks before this takes full effect.

You can also verify and submit your site using Bing Webmaster Tools.

#2 Verify with Norton and McAfee

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This is not required if you’ve published via a sub-domain of Weebly as your site will use Weebly’s safety rankings.

But why is verifying your website via Norton of Mcafee important?

  1. Increases click -through rates from search results in Google as it’s a trusted source
  2. It also helps in moving your website up the rankings as Google sees your site as safe when crawling it.

To verify with Norton do the following:

  1. Visit Norton Safeweb and sign-in.
  2. Visit your profile and go to “site dispute”.
  3. Click “add site”.
  4. Enter your website’s URL.
  5. Select meta-tag verification.
  6. Paste the code int the header of the site.
  7. Publish your site and lick “verify now”
  8. Then click “rate my site”.
  9. You will wait several weeks.

To rate your site with McAfee visit the Trusted Source login, where you can select your product, enter your URL and submit. This process is a lot faster than Norton.

#3 Use Powr FAQ

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Create a Frequently Answered Question Page by using PowrFAQ. This may be a technique or tool that is completely unknown to you. But it’s incredibly powerful.

Why? Consider the aim of a search engine. It’s there to match what people are searching for with content websites provide. If there are regular questions or problems or choice of words as it relates to your product, chances are that by addressing those problems through a FAQ page and including relevant keywords, you will improve your SEO ranking (dependant on other factors too though).

With PowrFAQ you’re able to create media rich FAQ pages, with images, videos, and links. The App is free, but for $2.99 you can enjoy the full features. Visit the Weebly App center to download it and start using it.

#4 Site Booster

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Site Booster is an SEO tool that allows you to publish your business details in places that matter such as search engines and business directories and review sites e.g. Yelp. This ensures your site shows up in local searches.The app also seamlessly integrates with online Maps, Pinterest, and Whatsapp.

You’re given two free listings with the free plan. For advanced features and premium listings, upgrade at the cost of $6.99/month. It’s available for download within the Weebly App Centre.

#5 Buzz Sumo

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Creating high-value content that solves potential customers problems is essential if you want to improve your SEO. After all, content is the most important aspect of your SEO strategy. So when compiling blog posts, consider using the Buzz Sumo SEO tool. It allows you to investigate what content is performing well across different topics and competitors.

All you need to do is type the keywords you wish to rank for to see which content is the most popular on the web. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, analyze the content. Can you approach it in a different way? What alternative title can you use? For example, if you come across an article titled “10 Websites That Will Blow Your Mind”, make it a larger article and change the title e.g. 25 Websites You Never Knew Existed.

It’s free with a daily search limit, but you’re able to upgrade to a premium plan for $99/month.

#6 Moz

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SEO guru, Rand Fishkin is the founder of Moz. Moz is a powerful SEO tool that will grow your online visibility.It provides keyword research, link building, site audits to see what content is performing well, and information on how to optimize your pages. Start using it with a free 30-day trial and upgrade to a top-tier plan for $99/month.

Whilst SEO may seem daunting, It needn’t be. The above SEO tools should serve as a great starting point to improve your visibility in search engines, ultimately improving the SEO for your Weebly site. Do you use any of these SEO tools?

8 Effective Ways to Update and Optimize Your Shopify Store

While growing your e-commerce business there’s a lot you’re managing; from finances, employees, taxes, website design to marketing, sales and support. It’s easy to neglect certain aspects. In particular, consider your Shopify store since that’s what brings the most important part of your business, sales.

If you fail to conduct regular health check-ups and assessments you’ll find that your store is out of date, poorly optimized and unfortunately not performing at its best. This leads to a noticeable decrease in traffic, conversions and sales. But how do you go about updating and optimizing your Shopify Store? Here are 8 effective ways to optimize your Shopify store in order to increase sales.

#1 Conduct a Store Health Overview

Use the Shopify E-commerce store grader. This tool works even if you don’t have a Shopify site. The grader inspects four elements and highlights areas that need your attention. The four elements are SEO, usability, content and social and technical code.

#2 Examine Current Store Policies

You need to inspect your store policies to ensure they’re favorable for your customers. Your conversions will be negatively affected if they aren’t. Inspect the following five policies and optimize accordingly:

1. Shipping Policy
2. Refund Policy
3. Return Policy
4. Exchange Policy
5. Privacy Policy.

Shopify offers a Privacy Policy Generator and a Refund Policy Generator to ensure your policies are up to date.

#3 Optimize Your Pages

Whilst you should review all your pages, start with the essentials. Your About, FAQ and contact page are generally the most visited pages on your Shopify site. Review the following with each of the pages:

1. Copy & Message

The message you convey on each page needs to be clear, focused and concise. The title and content need to match.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Make sure your page titles, meta descriptions, and URL are complete. This helps with indexing in Google. Focus on these three elements:

  • Titles – The optimal title length is between 50-60 characters. Google cuts off long titles, based on the pixel length. By keeping your titles under 55 characters you can expect 95% of your titles to display properly. Where possible place important keywords to the front of the title tag.
  • Meta Description – This needs to be less than 60 characters. Remember to include one of your keywords in the meta description.
  • URL – Make it short and include relevant keywords. Be cautious when changing URLs to pages. Anyone who has bookmarked your site before a URL change will now visit a broken link. If you need to change URLs, make sure you re-direct visitors. Learn more about that here.

3. Extra Considerations

If you’re shipping information or rates have changed make sure you update them. Also, review common customer questions and include these in your FAQ page. This ensures an up to date page. It also helps to check copy for spelling mistakes. Can you get your message across with less copy?

#4 Optimize Your Product Listings

Optimizing your product listings is arguably the most important aspect. We’ve written a detailed post on this here, but to clarify, we’ll revisit this.

1. Manage your titles and descriptions

  • Make sure your titles and descriptions are clear.
  • They need to contain the necessary information for customers to make an informed purchase decision.
  • Follow this format: Brand > Product Name > Colour > Style > Material > Size > Important Features e.g. Nokia Lumia 435 Cellphone
  • Avoid use of capital letters throughout.
  • Exclude related accessories not included in the price
  • Exclude words consumers are unlikely to search for e.g. adjectives like beautiful.

2. Optimize your product categories

Many consumer shopping engines (Price Check, Google Shopping etc), don’t allow multiple categories. You have to choose one. Test which is suitable by taking two similar products and use a different keyword for each (A/B Testing). Choose the best-performing one.

3. Review your product images

  • Make sure they are of the highest quality. This is particularly important if you consider customers can’t touch or feel a product.
  • Consider taking multiple images from different angles.
  • The White background will always be your best friend.
  • Avoid text that detracts from your image.

4. Ensure your product listing URL is Text; be wary of broken links

  • Avoid having any numbers in your product listing URL.
  • Include relevant keywords.
  • Further be cautious when changing the URL of your products to avoid broken links. If you do this, re-direct traffic as outlined earlier.

5. Check that your account budget is up to date

Your listings run the risk of dropping if you run out of a budget. This leads to decreased visibility. Deposit ad-spend to manage your bid.

6. Regularly update your data feed.

Your data feed typically looks like this:

1. Title
2. Descriptions
3. Category
4. Product Image
5. URL
6. SKU
7. Weight
8. Dimensions
9. Stock Information
10. Price

You don’t want shoppers clicking on a product only to find that you’re out of stock – update regularly.

#5 Review Coupons

Review your coupons to find discount codes that never had an expiry date on them. Delete those that have expired. Failing to do so, means people can use the coupon codes long after the promotion has finished.

#6 Integrate with Pinterest

Pinterest is the second largest traffic source for Shopify sites. Not only that, but Pinners spend an average of $50 per order. Also, Shopify and Pinterest have a partnership which allows you to sell on Pinterest through “buyable pins.” Consider leveraging the power of Pinterest and this unique partnership for increased traffic.

#7 Create a Facebook Store

Add a Facebook store so your fans can buy from you Facebook. Aside from creating an extra channel for revenue you also benefit through a lower cost-per-click. Why? Facebook rewards you for keeping traffic within their social network.

#8 Maintain a Regular Blogging Schedule

Blogging is a powerful tool. Statistics reveal that marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI. Further websites have 434% more indexed pages. Focus on providing regular, high-value content and watch the traffic increase.

Optimizing and updating your Shopify store can initially be a time-consuming process. But with practice, it’ll become a breeze. Conduct regular store checkups. Optimize your product pages, specifically your product listings. And also consider leveraging the power of Facebook, Pinterest, and Blogging for improved optimization. Do this and reap the benefits of increased traffic, conversions, and sales.

Squarespace Owner? How to Improve SEO

Squarespace SEO is a fiercely debated topic. As a Squarespace owner, you’re no doubt aware of this. Consider these three excerpts:

  1. “You may have heard that Squarespace is “bad for SEO,” but is there any truth to that?” – Long Tail Pro
  2. “Many people badmouth Squarespace SEO before researching it, which is a total recipe for disaster. – Nesha Woolery
  3. Out of all of the comments and emails, I receive about Squarespace, SEO is by far the topic that is most frequently asked about. –Elle and Company

The reality is that the myths such as “Squarespace is bad for your SEO” are exactly that, myths. Elle and Company have achieved huge success with Squarespace. Rand Fishkin, SEO Pro, and CEO of Moz Blog has even endorsed Squarespace.

There’s no reason why you cannot effectively improve your SEO using Squarespace. Before we get into the specifics of Squarespace, you need to remember the two most important aspects of your SEO. The first is content or on-page SEO. The second is inbound links or off-page SEO. This holds true for any website platform.

The Two Single Most Important Factors to Improve Your SEO Ranking

1. Content

Content is the single most important thing when it comes to your SEO. Don’t believe me? Well it’s written in Google mission statement:

“The mission of Google is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

But not just any type of content, high-value content that solves customers problems.  Focusing on specific tweaks to your SEO for organic ranking won’t necessarily deliver the desired results.  Google also goes on to say that you should focus on including words in your pages that users will type to find you in the search engine.

Blogging is a superb way to regularly provide high-value content to your readers. Blogging consistently will allow you to achieve 434% more indexed pages in Google. Leverage blogging to provide quality content, increased search visibility, and traffic.

2. Inbound Links

The quality of your links is the second most important factor to consider. Inbound links are links from another site that point back to yours. Quality links come from websites where its hard for you to feature. You can guest post to try and achieve these links. Alternatively, provide quality content consistently. This increases the chance that quality sites will link back to you.

Now let’s delve into the specifics of Squarespace SEO…

Squarespace optimizes your site by default but here are a few tweaks you can make. Bear In mind that Google ranks specific pages and not entire websites.

1. The Power of Sitemaps

Squarespace provides you with a Sitemap, ready to go. Sitemaps are essential. They help Google crawl and understand your website. According to Moz:

“Think of a sitemap as a list of files that give hints to the search engines on how they can crawl your website. Sitemaps help search engines find and classify content on your site that they may not have found on their own.”

For Sitemaps to effectively optimize your site, you need to submit them to Google Webmaster Tools. Click here to find your Sitemap.

2. Search Engine Description

I took a screen shot directly off Elle and Company’s website. It shows how correctly filling out your search engine description in the back-end of Squarespace, has an impact on how you see this in Google.

Elle and Company's website screenshot

Elle and Company's website search engine description

3. Your Site Title & Description

Go to Squarespace Home Menu, click Design – Logo & Title. Through customizing your site title and description you aid search engines in knowing what your sites about. This is one of the most important SEO elements. It appears in browsers, search engine results pages, and external websites.

4. Customize Page Title and Page Descriptions

Make sure your page titles are about 55 characters in length to prevent cut off by Google. The same applies for your description which should not exceed 160 characters.

5. Focus on Keywords

A keyword is something that you search for in Google. For example, “Top things to do in South Africa” is a keyword.

Include keywords in your page title, page description and in the slug. Consider this post I’m writing on Squarespace SEO. The keyword I want to rank for is Squarespace SEO. This is what it looks like:

  1. Title – Squarespace Owner? How to Improve Your Squarespace SEO
  2. Slug – By default, the slug will show up as the full title after the name of your site e.g. https://blog.bablic.com/sqaurespace-owner-how-to-improve-your-sqaurespace-seo/. You can shorten it to the keyword you want to rank for e.g. Squarespace-seo
  3. Description – Despite the many myths about Squarespace SEO it’s highly effective in improving your SEO. Here are several techniques to do this.

Consider creating a FAQ page where you address problems/questions consumers are having. Write a few hundred words to answer those questions, including relevant keywords. Through this, you provide content that solves their problems. Remember content is the most important aspect of your SEO.

6. Keyword Research

Telling you to focus on using Keywords is one thing, but how do you know you’re using the right keywords? Firstly, be cognizant that popular search terms (e.g. shoes) make up less than 30% of the searches on the web.

The remaining 70% are the long-tail of search, which contains hundreds of millions of unique searches. These are the keywords you really want to target. For example, “brown Aldo shoes size 9.”

This person knows what they want and if you can put your website in front of them, you practically have them. Secondly, armed with this knowledge, conduct some keyword research. Here are 5 resources to get you started:

  1. Moz Keyword Explorer
  2. Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
  3. Google Trends
  4. Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence
  5. Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand

For Example, Moz Keyword Explorer provides monthly search data, ranking difficulty, estimated click-through-rates and much more.

7. Blog Posts

When creating blog posts, you can:

  1. Set the title, which should include your keyword.
  2. Standard URL that shows is ugly, change this to be cleaner.
  3. Include an excerpt – this substitutes the description visitors will see before visiting the site.
  4. Include a thumbnail image.
  5. Make sure to use tags and categories as search engines scan these to understand your site.

Content will always be the most important aspect of your SEO. Focus on providing high-value content, combined with the necessary keywords. Also, consider inbound links.

In Squarespace pay attention to Sitemaps and the site, page and search engine titles and descriptions. Also, focus on keywords conduct keyword research using the tools provided. Blogging consistently and optimizing your blog posts will also contribute greatly to improved SEO.

5 Simple Ways to Engage Visitors on Your Squarespace Site (One Way May Surprise You)

We previously explored ways to improve your Squarespace SEO. The goal of SEO is to increase your visibility in search engines and drive more visitors to your site. Ideally, you want to rank on the first page of Google.

To improve your SEO, we touched on several aspects. From inbound links, keywords, sitemaps, page, title and site descriptions to utilizing FAQ pages. But the most important aspect of this all is content. After all Google and other search engines prioritize content.

The aim is simple to provide readers with the most relevant content based on their search queries. But increasing your search engine visibility and attracting more readers is only one aspect. Once visitors are on your site, you need to engage them, with the goal of encouraging some form of action. This may take the form of signing up for your newsletter or purchasing a product.

But how do you do this? How do you effectively engage visitors, so they don’t just read the post and leave? Here are 5 simple tactics you can implement right now to engage your visitors.

# 1 Insert Internal Links to Give Readers a Choice

Your readers are reading your blog post either because they found it in search engines and saw it as valuable, or perhaps a friend referred it? Either way, once they’re reading you need to think about how to keep them engaged. One way is to include internal links to other high-value articles on your Squarespace website. For example, in the first two sentences of this post, we linked to two articles: one on Squarespace SEO and the other on using Facebook to drive traffic. It’s simple but highly effective.

Including internal links gives readers the choice to explore the content of your website. The same concept applies when you mention things like your “About Page”, features of your product and even Pricing. Basically, include a link where it’s possible and where it makes logical sense. The important thing is not to force the link and link the reader to content that is not relevant to the what was clicked. Your visitors may perceive this as deceptive.

Tip – you don’t want them navigating off the current page. So make sure when clicking on the link it opens a new tab.

# 2 Include Related Content Blocks for Further Engagement

If readers read the full blog post and get all the way to the bottom, engage them further by including “Related Content Blocks” of your blog posts. Squarespace has “Summary Blocks” for this. You’re able to select your layout (wall, layout, carousel and grid), and then choose your blog post category. Viola! You’re all set.

The folks from Hoot Design Co – showcase this perfectly:

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#3 Include Sign-up Forms to Continue the Conversation

Aside from including related content blocks, also include sign-up forms at the end of your posts and in your sidebars. This presents an opportunity to grow your e-mail list. You’re able to engage with customers via e-mail long after the initial engagement. “And does including sign-up forms work?”, you may be asking. In short – Yes, it does.

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Research by online form builder Formstack reveals that including forms improves conversions by 62%. Besides Formstack, both SumoMe and ConvertKit are superb ways to grow your e-mail list. Jacob McMillen who is a freelance copywriter and digital strategist used SumoMe and ConvertKit to grow his list by 600 subscribers. And all this with just two blog posts.

#4 Use Enticing Landing Page Builders

There are many online tools you can use to assist you as you grow your business. Perfecting your landing pages through using tools likes Unbounce and Instapage is one way to grow your business.

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The goal of all the landing pages is to encourage visitors to take some form of action. In most cases, this will involve capturing their e-mail address as with online sign-up forms. A/B testing is also possible where you offer up two different versions of a landing page to see which one is working.

#5 Engage Visitors Through Making Your Website Multilingual

This one might surprise you. I mean there aren’t as many multilingual sites online as there perhaps should be. And you’re probably rather skeptical with a host of questions running through your mind:

  1. Is there really any value in translating my website into a different language?
  2. Will it actually engage visitors?
  3. Is it not a costly exercise requiring a huge investment in a specialist web designer?

In short, the answers to the above questions are Yes. Yes! No! Let’s explore.

Research suggests 56.2% of people value browsing in their own language and 46% say they won’t buy products if sites are a foreign language. So it seems fairly obvious that by making your site multi-lingual you reduce the number of drop-offs, you increase engagement and ultimately sales. That’s real tangible value.

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This is where a tool like Bablic comes in handy. This website translation tool is cost-effective with a basic plan starting at only $20 a month. This is not a huge investment and you’re able to translate your site into two languages. You don’t need to be a technical guru to set it up. All you need to do is paste a code snippet into the header of the website. So again, a huge investment is not required. A free trial is available as well as one-on-one consultation before you make the purchase.

There we have it – 5 simple tactics you can use and implement right now to engage your visitors.

6 E-Commerce Site Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

You’ve built your e-commerce site. Now, sit back and watch the sales pour in. Right?

If only it were that easy.

An e-commerce site is a profitable way to reach shoppers without a middleman. But many small business owners and entrepreneurs make mistakes with their e-commerce sites. Mistakes that lead to cart abandonment. Mistakes that lead to low conversion rates. Mistakes that cost store owners money. Mistakes that are avoidable. This post aims to highlight common e-commerce site mistakes and provide solutions to fix them. Here are 6.

#1 Mistake: Your Costs Aren’t Visible

Shoppers don’t want to spend time searching for shipping cost information. Many store owners make the mistake of “hiding” their shipping information. Perhaps you’re guilty of this?

Also, many shoppers make their way to the checkout and are then exposed to a host of extra charges. Doing this a sure recipe for failure. You will, more often than not, lose that sale, and any repeat purchases.

Solutions

  1. Make sure all costs are visible.
  2. Include shipping cost information near all your products.
  3. Let shoppers know of extra costs before checkout.
  4. Include a sales tax calculator for customers. The calculator helps them calculate the total cost of the order before checkout.

#2 Mistake: Your Product Descriptions Aren’t up to Scratch

Are you a store owner who has incomplete product descriptions? Are they generic? Not sure what the answer to these two questions are? Well, I urge you to review your products descriptions. Shoppers use product descriptions when making a purchase decision. So, if they’re generic or incomplete, chances are you’re losing sales.

Solutions

Review your product descriptions on your site and ensure they’re complete, accurate, and unique. Here is an example of a compelling product description of “Aura from the Women at Wrangler“. I took the image directly off the Practical E-commerce site.

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If you’re not sure what to look for, here are a few pointers from Kissmetrics on how to make product descriptions that sell:

  1. Understand your buyer persona – the imaginary customer who buys your products. What websites does she visit? What makes her happy? What makes her sad? You’re able to better engage with your customer if you understand them. It will allow you to move from being product centric to customer centric.
  2. List the features and convert them into benefits.  For example, a long lasting battery for a laptop might translate into the benefit of an entire day’s work without a charge. Be comprehensive. Customers only want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care about you!
  3. Make sure your keyword is in your headline, sub-headline, and text.Include keyword in the name of your image, image description, and alt tag.
  4. Optimize your product images by using your key phrase in the file name, image description, and alt tag.

#3 Mistake: You Don’t Use People in Your Product Shots

E-Commerce sites are a convenient platform that offers a wide variety of products for sale. Yet, online shopping also has its drawbacks. Shoppers are unable to touch and feel a product before purchasing it. People can’t see how it functions in real life. They cannot see how that item of clothing will fit them. Many stores fail to address these concerns and they fail to reduce the shopper’s anxiety.

Solutions

  1. Create a real life representation of the product by including people.
  2. If you have the budget consider making a video or two.

#4 Mistake: Your E-commerce Sites Mobile Experience Is Poor

Mobile adoption continues to proliferate. A KPCB Mobile technology trends report – cited in Smart Insights, highlights that US consumers now spend more time using mobile digital media (51%) than browsing with a desktop (49%). See below.

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And if you’re thinking, “Well, this is the only usage. It doesn’t imply that customers even shop using mobile”, think again. Yes, research shows: conversion rates for mobile are lower than desktop, but they are on the rise as the below table depicts:

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And they no doubt will continue to rise.

So, is your mobile site responsive?

Solution

  1. Do a full review of your site by visiting it as if you were a customer or use the mobile-friendly test tool from Google.
  2. Type in your URL and the tool will tell you whether your site is mobile friendly. It will give you a black and white answer. Either it is or it isn’t.
  3. If it isn’t, you can:
  • Install a mobile plugin, that will give mobile visitors a different experience.
  • Install a new theme to customize.
  • Redesign your e-commerce site.
  • #5 Mistake: Your Ecommerce Site is Slow

Customers will not wait for your page to load. If it’s slow your bounce rate will increase. a Slow page loading time also impacts your SEO rankings, as Google bots prefer faster page load times. So, the faster the better. Your site may be slow for various reasons e.g. your images may be too large or you’re not on a dedicated server.

Solutions

  1. The easy way to analyze your page loading time is to use Google Page Insights.
  2. Enter your URL and wait while google analyzes your page.
  3. Google will then provide you with a comprehensive report that details what you must fix. Fix those problem areas.

#6 Mistake: You’re Hiding Your Buy Button

This is common for store owners who have wordy product descriptions. It leads to the buy button not being visible. This mistake can contribute to lost sales.

Solution

Piers Thorogood, co-founder of We Make Websites recommends placing the buy button close to the product. Why? Because you cannot assume everyone who lands on your site knows its an online store. And if they don’t they’re not going to spend time looking for the buy button. Make it visible, like Nordstrom do below. Make it easy for people to buy.

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Final Thoughts

You cannot  launch an eCommerce site and hope for the best. When you launch, you need to make tweaks to ensure the best user experience. If you’re an e-commerce site owner making any of the above mistakes it’s time to fix them. Make these changes to achieve better conversion rates, reduce cart abandonment, and increase sales.

Are you making any of theses e-commerce site mistakes? What are the other mistakes e-commerce site owners make?

How to Create a Highly Effective FAQ Page

FAQ (frequently answered questions) pages are extremely powerful if created correctly. Benefits include solving customer problems, reducing the burden on customer support, building trust and relationships with customers, establishing yourself as an expert, adding needed SEO juice, improving site navigation, providing extra opportunities for a sale, gathering key customer insights, and helping customers on their purchase journey by alleviating purchase anxiety.

But how do you go about creating a FAQ page to realize these benefits? How do you create a page that serves as a silent salesperson, both driving traffic to your site, whilst also contributing to your bottom line? Here are some tips.

Tip #1 Scratch The Traditional FAQ page

Before we forge ahead, let’s recognize something. The traditional way of creating FAQ page is not effective, at least from an SEO point of view. Traditionally companies list about 5-15 questions on one page and immediately under each question they include a two to three sentence answers. The answer in itself is often very poor.

Doing things this way is not good for a variety of reasons:

1. We live in an age of content where consumers enjoy consuming a lot of information. I use the word consume – and not read – as there is plenty of evidence that suggests that consumers scan instead. Regardless many of the two to three sentence answers are not sufficient in fulfilling the desire for content.

2. Search engines prefer pages that are thematic; pages that contain one theme or one keyword. This makes it easier for Google to crawl as it immediately establishes what the page is about. Traditionally, FAQ pages are created with several themes. This becomes confusing.

Having seen what’s wrong with traditional FAQ pages let’s look at how we can effectively create them.

Tip #2 What Questions are Customers Asking?

Start with establishing what pertinent questions your potential customers are frequently asking. You don’t want to guess here. These need to be actual questions or concerns from your customers. Start by scouring emails your customers have sent you in the past few months.

Braveen Kumar who is a writer for Shopify recommends that you “focus on relevance, utility, and opportunities to turn that question into a path to further engagement or conversion”. Before you consider answering these questions create a single page with all the questions.

Tip #3 Create One Page With all Your Questions

“But you just said that traditionally companies list all questions on one page?”  I know what I’m saying here may feel counter-intuitive but just bear with me. Create one page with all the FAQ questions listed.

Tip #4 Create Categories For Easy Navigation

If you find that your list extends beyond 15 questions, you might want to break all your questions into categories. This makes it easy for visitors to navigate your page. Including a search box to further improve navigation, especially if you have many categories and questions.

Tip #5 Hard Link To Individual Pages

Now instead of answering each question individually on your FAQ page, insert a link to a separate page. By hyperlinking to the answer on a separate page you ensure a one-page theme which as we’ve established is more search engine friendly. The chances are that consumers will also stumble across your site when they search for industry-related information, and not just information specific to your brand.

Tip #6 Link to Blog Posts

Consider hard-linking from questions to blog posts that answer the questions. This is a strategy that Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion recommends. Once they’re reading your blog post, you have an additional opportunity to encourage some form of action, whether it be signing up for your newsletter, or giving them the option to click on internal links. This slowly guides them on their purchase journey.

Tip #7 Include a Call-to-action

Another option is to turn your page into a valuable sales tool,  by including a call-to-action to sign up to receive an e-book that answers these questions. Again you’re encouraging the potential customer to take some form of action.

Tip #8 Answer Questions in a Personal Manner

If you’re linking to individual pages always answer the questions in a conversational style. Make it personal. Let them know there is a human being on the other side. This will help in building a relationship.

Avoid any technical jargon that’s hard to understand. If it’s too technical and difficult to understand, you may confuse the customer even further, ultimately losing a potential sale.

If you have and can afford a copywriter use them to ensure your writing is up to scratch. If not, read and re-read. Send to friends to double check. You want to make sure that you miss any grammar mistakes, that your sentences aren’t too long and that you make use of active and not passive voice.

Free online tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway Editor can help. Grammarly assists with spelling and Hemmingway aids with sentence construction and the use of active vs passive voice.

Tip #9 Create a Clean Layout

In terms of layout, we’ve already alluded to creating categories. For example, depending on your product or service you’re offering you might have an ordering, exchange, payments or even shipping category. Make your questions stand out, perhaps by making them bold or in larger text and then link to separate pages or blog posts on your site.

Tip #10 Study Other FAQ Pages for Ideas

To tie this all up, I thought I’d leave you with some examples of FAQ pages that put into practice what we’ve discussed here. Naturally, they will all be slightly different in terms of their design, but each of these perfectly mimics what we’ve discussed.

Example 1: 99 Designs

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They have different categories and a search box for ease of navigation. All questions are also hard linked to separate pages for added SEO juice.

Example 2: Pinterest

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Pinterest also follows a minimalistic approach, the design is colorful and inviting.

Example 3: Sound Cloud

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Soundcloud doesn’t make use of any specific categories, but they maintain a minimalist feel and hard link to separate pages.

Do  you have a FAQ page?

7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Squarespace Website’s Social Media Presence

According to a statistic cited in a recent HubSpot article, 1/3 of the world uses social networks regularly. This is a staggering figure if you consider that the global population currently stands at roughly 7.5 billion. Within these numbers are many of your target audience that simply aren’t being reached with your social media marketing.

The question then is, how do you reach these people? What tactics do you employ? A good place to start is with the basics. Focus on boosting your Squarespace website’s social media presence and this will improve your visibility in search engines, and boost your online presence. Here are 7 simple ways for you to achieve this.

#1 Connect Your Socia Media Accounts: Reach a Larger Audience

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The most basic thing you need to do is to connect all your applicable social media accounts. Naturally, you won’t be on all of them. And this makes sense because every business is different. The step by step process  is detailed in Squarespace Support. It’s really simple and intuitive, but just take note there are two ways to do this depending on your plan:

  • In Home Menu click Setting and then Connected Accounts
  • In Home Menu click Social Icons and then Connected Accounts

#2 Include a Social Sharing Logo: Improve Brand Recognition When Sharing

Whenever you share your Squarespace website on your social media channels, it’s a good idea to include your logo as this will bolster your brand recognition. To do this go to Design and click Logo and Title. You’ll see a section for Social Sharing Logo. Take note that blog posts will display the thumbnail image you’ve chosen.

#3 Add Thumbnail Images to Blog Posts For Improve Click-through Rates

We highly recommend that you choose a suitable thumbnail for each and every image. An image grabs your readers attention, encourages click-throughs, and improves the shareability of your articles.

It would be a shame if potential readers didn’t click through or share your articles because of this, especially seeing as you’re offering immense value with your articles. Check out our post 7 Quick Tips For Blogging With Squarespace with further details on how to add a thumbnail.

#4 Leverage the Power of Pinterest

In a statistic cited in an article on Jess Creatives, Pinterest referrals spend 70% more money than visitors from other referrals, so let’s leverage the power of Pinterest. Make sure to add a Pin it Button to your images. Simply go to Settings, click Marketing, and then click Pin it Button.

#5 Add Social Icons and Buttons to Your Website: Encourage sharing

You want to add social icons on your site so that visitors can connect with your business page on social media, and follow you. You also want to include social share buttons under all your blog posts so that if readers enjoyed an article, resonated with it on some level, found it useful, or just believe that a friend could benefit from it, they’re able to do share your content.

The Squarespace sharing icons are rather small at the end of blog posts. This is why we recommend integrating with a third party tool that offers this and much more. While there are many online tools on the market that can help you with this, we recommend SumoMe.

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SumoMe provides all the tools to grow your website traffic, from social sharing icons, pop-ups, welcome mats, e-mail sign-up forms, to heatmaps and analytics, where you can assess how your visitors are interacting with your site. Based on this you can see where you need to make improvements. The free version gives you everything you need when starting out your social media journey. Below is a step-by-step instructional video on how to install SumoMe on your Squarespace website:

#6 Add Twitter Cards

You may or may not have heard of a Twitter card.  This is what Twitter says about Twitter Cards:

“With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experience to Tweets that drive traffic to your website. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpage, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.”

There are different types of cards such as a Summary Card, Summary Card with Large Image, App Card, and a Player Card. Here is an example of a summary card, which works well for blog posts, news articles and products.

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To test the power of Twitter Cards in boosting your Squarespace website’s social media presence, follow the step-by-step process to install it.

#7 Automatically Push Your Posts to Social Media Channels

Each time you publish a post you want to share it to your social media channels.The time it takes to publish each and every post individually to all your channels is time that could be spent on other more profitable activities. We then recommend simplifying this process by using automation.

To do this with Squarespace is simple. Remember when we connected our accounts? Well, simply go back there and check the tab that says Show Push Option. Enable this for each of your social media channels once you’ve connected themIf you’re looking for more advanced tools, consider using the likes of Hootsuite and Buffer.

#8 Use Analytics to Measure Traffic

Now, while doing all of the above will set the foundations for boosting your social media presence, and help you gain more followers and shares across social media channels, failing to monitor analytics and how users navigate your site will, over the long term, be detrimental.

You need to know where traffic is coming from. What social media channels are proving the most beneficial? Which channels aren’t bringing you much traffic? Why is this the case? What do I need to improve, if anything? Do I need to improve my social media strategy? What articles are getting the most shares? Why?

These are just some of the questions that analytics help you to answer. Squarespace has a tool for this called Traffic Source Analytics. It measures the source of the traffic and which referrers are the most valuable. The step-by-step process to setting it up is explained in Squarespace support.

If you want to take things further consider integrating with SumoMe and Google Analytics. Together they provide more rich metrics on which to base your social media decisions. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, read our article on quick tips for blogging with Squarespace,  where we explain how to set it up.

What simple techniques do you use to boost your Squarespace website’s social media presence? Let us know in the comments below.