Yes! Customer reviews are very important and can really help your business.

Not having reviews can make your business seem new or untrustworthy. On the other hand, featuring reviews from real customers can build trust and overcome objections or concerns.

If you’ve got great reviews already on different websites like Yelp, Google My Business, or Facebook, you can copy or embed them directly on your site rather than let them languish on someone else’s platform. I suggest including a link to the original review to increase trust in the veracity of the review.

How to design your customer reviews so they stand out

Use a picture of the customer leaving the review, if possible. Adding a face to the name increases trust by a lot!

Make reviews stand out visually. Use the visual cue of five brightly colored stars (preferably gold-colored) to draw attention to the fact that it’s a fantastic review.

Don’t use a carousel, aka a slideshow or slider, to display customer reviews. This practice is distressingly common, but study after study shows that users do not interact with slideshows and tend to tune them out.

Sometimes they rotate too quickly to be read and users don’t know how to advance or go back to finish reading (especially on mobile). Other times, they rotate at a readable pace, but the user simply scrolls by without realizing there’s more reviews to be had behind the one they saw. Reviews are WAY too powerful to be wasted like that!

Don’t keep reviews (only) all on one page.

Some people have a dedicated page to feature reviews, but I recommend strategically sprinkling reviews throughout your website. If you have enough, you may want to add a dedicated page as well, but definitely use them throughout the website as well. As the customer makes their way through your content, they may have different questions and concerns, and a well-placed review can answer their questions better than any amount of convincing you could do yourself.

Do customer reviews affect the SEO of your website?

Yes, customer reviews can actually help your business get found on Google. By showing a correlation between the keywords you’re targeting and the services that your customers are talking about,, you give a strong signal to search engines that you are relevant to those keywords.

So when asking for a review, always ask the customer to mention the product or service they received by name. A steady stream of reviews over time that include keywords you are targeting is a very reliable way to convince Google that your content is relevant to those keywords.

But if a review doesn’t use your keywords, don’t worry! Just reply with something that gives Google context, like “Thanks! We loved refinishing your kitchen cabinets.” That will reinforce to Google that you are relevant to search queries like “refinishing kitchen cabinets”– Google is smart enough to equate the slightly different phrasing.

How to respond to customer reviews

First, thank the reviewer for taking the time out of their day to reply.

Keep it fairly short. People get overwhelmed by a wall of text.

Don’t reveal personal info about the customer.

If they raised a question that other customers would benefit from knowing the answer to, be sure to include the answer in your reply instead of in another channel. But if their question needs to be answered privately because it would reveal personal info, reassure future readers by replying that you are contacting them directly.

As mentioned above, if the review didn’t mention important keywords for your service or product, you can work those into your reply.

Responding to all reviews builds customer trust and shows that you’re listening. It also helps you to assure future potential customers that you’re a courteous business owner they would enjoy dealing with.

How to respond to a bad review

Sometimes, the internet brings out the worst in people. If you’ve experienced a negative customer review, you are not alone. The lashing out of an unhappy reviewer can be really hurtful and damaging. But there’s definitely ways to address a bad customer review that can help mitigate the damage.

It’s important to remember that those reading the reviews later will make their own judgements– most people don’t just take everything that’s said at face value, especially if the review uses emotional language.

So don’t let it hang out there, unanswered. Always reply to every review, including negative ones. A reply to a negative review is more about the future potential customers reading it than the original reviewer.

What you say in your reply will depend on the nature of the review. It could be:

  • A truthful account of a bad experience or policy they disagree with
  • A prejudicial, partially true account of a negative experience
  • A completely untrue account, maybe by a disgruntled associate or even a competitor

Replying to honest, bad reviews: An empathetic, mild reply can go a long way towards smoothing over a bad experience. Sometimes a simple, genuine apology for the bad experience may make up for a problem the customer had.

But it’s important not to apologize insincerely. For instance, if it’s just a policy they disagree with, it’s best not to apologize for the policy itself if it’s not going to change. But you will probably be able to find something to show empathy for and apologize over, without doing the “non-apology” that everyone hates– “sorry you feel that way!” Expressing your hope that they find a better fit is always nice.

Responding to partially true reviews: In many cases, a review is a blend of truth and inaccuracy. And it can be very tempting to try to “dunk” on the untruthful reviewer, since you don’t want future readers to take their account at face value. As hard as it is, taking the high road will do more good in the long run.

Embarrassing them may seem easy if the facts are on your side– but it may go farther with potential customers who are reading your response to use restraint. After all, if a potential customer reading it says to themselves “Well, I guess I’d be mad too if such and such happened to me…” then you’ve now needlessly gotten two against you instead of one.

So if they get emotional, call names, and assign bad motives, avoid replying in kind, and write your reply as if talking to someone who made an honest complaint in good faith. You may not be able to get the one customer who complained back (and you probably don’t want them!), but if ten more see your dignified reply it may be for the best.

Dealing with completely dishonest reviews: Depending on the circumstances– like if you know that the reviewer isn’t actually a customer of yours– you may actually be able to get completely dishonest reviews removed from your profile, if they violate the terms of the review website. For instance, if the review is on your Google My Business, there will be a three-dot vertical “more” menu next to each review:

Obviously, I would never actually report this lovely review 🙂

Clicking those 3 dots will bring up the option to “Report Review”. The first step is to click that, then choose a reason for your report from the options given on the next screen. After you send the report, you’ll get an email confirming that your report is being processed. This can take a few days.

If the review is found to violate Google’s terms of service, they’ll remove it and it won’t show on your profile anymore. But sometimes this doesn’t work, and they may decide that the review will stay up. There’s still hope– you can still get a real human being to take a look. Here’s an official Google help page which has a link at the bottom to contact a representative. Using that link, you can get in a queue to speak to someone via chat and make your case. Keep it factual and you may find success with this method!

Understandably, many small business owners don’t have the time to deal with the hassle of managing reviews, reporting reviews that violate policy, or replying to all their reviews. I offer Google My Business management as a feature of my website care plan. Please get in touch with me today and your website’s online reputation can be handled professionally in no time.

Don’t have reviews yet? Here’s how to get more customer reviews.

Ask for the review every single time. If you sell a product, ask for a review during a period of time when they’ve likely just received the product. You may be able to make this happen automatically with an email marketing service like Mailchimp.

If you sell a service, ask for the review after ANY positive interaction.

Use a convenient “leave a review” link– here’s how to create a short, shareable review link.
If you have a storefront, convert the review link to a QR code and post it in a convenient spot.

Always give a reason. Even if the request is inconvenient, people enjoy helping. They are very likely to leave a review if you give them a reason why, even if you don’t think it’ll be a compelling reason. So say something like “Please consider leaving a review, as it really helps others find out about us online. Thanks!”

Don’t make them work. If you have the opportunity to email them to ask for the review, you can ask them leading questions that help them formulate their thoughts. Ask them…

  1. How they felt about their problem before they worked with you,
  2. How you made them feel during the process of solving the problem, and…
  3. What the concrete results have been afterward.

With that formula, customers can practically fill-in-the-blanks to leave a helpful review that will be useful for future customers.

I hope this helps you to use your customer reviews to build trust, respond to your reviews in a helpful way, and deal with bad reviews in a positive way!


Yes, getting a better website can not only make your business look professional and high-end, but it really can grow your business and make it more profitable. Here’s how.

Better SEO = more customers

A high quality website can get found better and rank higher in search engine results.

No matter how much money, time, and effort you spend on SEO– if your website sucks, it’s like trying to drive a car with square wheels. But a well-made website that is purpose-built with best SEO practices in mind will perform better in search engine results over time.

With better SEO, more leads (interested visitors) who are searching for your product or service will get exposed to your website, naturally growing your pool of customers over time without having to pay for ads or other artificial traffic boosting.

Customers will actually listen to your marketing message.

Fewer customers will hit the back button on a well-made website.

Even if you already have a website, you may be surprised at how many new leads you can retain with a well-crafted website. If your current website doesn’t look as professional as you’d like, or doesn’t feel current, takes too long to load, or has any other issues, you don’t know how many potential customers are turning away before you get a chance to talk to them.

But a professionally built website that is 100% free of rough edges goes a LONG way toward convincing customers that you are a trustworthy professional that they can trust to get the job done– whatever it is.

The tricky part is that when you’re DIYing it, you don’t know what you don’t know. So if your current website isn’t getting the results you want, consider that there may be hidden problems that are handicapping it. Please fill out the contact form if you’d like me to take a look.

You can raise your prices.

With a high-end website, you can charge high-end prices (with less pushback!)

Whether we realize it or not, our website is speaking volumes about us to our customers. Does your website currently say what you WANT to say about your business?

If you are looking to move upmarket and charge a bit more, can your website back up those higher-end prices… or is it subtly whispering to your customers that you built your website in a weekend yourself to save a buck or two?

If you’ve ever struggled with wasting time on leads who don’t seem to value what you offer, it could be that there’s a mismatch between the quality of your product or service and the level of quality your website is projecting.

A better website will look and perform to a high standard– the same high standard that you set for your own business.

Save time on tedious tasks.

With a powerful website built on a platform like WordPress, you can automate almost anything.

Websites can be more than just good-looking words and pictures on a page. They can reduce administrative work that you’d otherwise do by hand. For example:

  • Quickly onboard customers by sending them a link to a “welcome” form that adds their details to your customer relationship management software (or spreadsheet, or mailing list, or Quickbooks– whatever your business uses!)
  • Provide a customer portal to give customers access to information you’d otherwise need to coordinate sending manually, or use a third party platform to share.
  • Incorporate software that allows your customers to easily book appointments 24/7 and makes it easy and error-free to get fully booked.

By taking advantage of the powerful dynamic features available with WordPress or similar website, you can grow your business without growing your workload (and maybe even REDUCE your workload). That way, every customer costs you less to acquire. And you have sustainable growth and better profits!


Scam emails, phone calls, and letters are on the rise. As businesses get serious about their web presence, scammers see opportunities to deceive or take advantage of us. I don’t want you to fall victim to these scammers!

Common scams include:

  • Telling you there’s a problem with your website and they can fix it
  • Promising traffic or top placement in search results
  • Warning you that your google listing won’t be visible unless you pay them
  • Physical mail disguised as a bill for your domain name
  • Robocall claiming to be from Google, an employee, or official partner of Google

All of these are 100% scams.

Ways to identify scammers:

Scam emails often use poor English. Very often, the bottom tier of scammers send emails filled with typos, odd word choice, poor grammar, and false names that just… sound a little off. (I think the strangest scammer name I’ve heard was “Prince Toe,” who claimed he wanted me to build him a website.)

They try to pressure you with a deadline. Scammers (especially on the phone) tend to give dates and tell you that your listing is expiring soon and your website will not be visible unless you give them money by a certain date. They want you to be off balance and act before thinking it over or asking your website professional.

For example, here’s a picture a client sent me of a letter she got in the mail, asking if it was legitimate. It is disguised as a bill for her domain name, and uses time pressure and official-sounding language and imagery to get her to send them money:

A scam letter in the wild.

In the fine print (on the reverse, not pictured), they are legally required to confess that it’s not a bill for your domain name. But it seems intended to represent that it is. And take a look at the amount of the bill– $289! For reference, domain names are usually about ~$10 per year. So not only are these guys liars, they’re greedy liars.

There’s actually worse examples, too– some of them will actually get you to transfer your domain name to them and charge you extortionate prices! At least the above scammer is just charging for a useless “directory listing,” if they deliver anything at all.

Scammers often call on the phone with automated, robotic voices or sometimes realistic recordings. Sometimes the robotic voices are reading a script with non-standard english, and more sophisticated scammers use realistic voices (some even program in “ums” and “ahs”!) Scammers can disguise the call as if it’s coming from any phone number, likely one in your area code, or sometimes from random cities all over the US.

They may claim they are affiliated with Google. Google will never call you unsolicited.

They often promise things they can’t guarantee regarding search engine rankings. Many claim they can get you to the #1 position on Google search results for your desired keywords– but no one can really guarantee that. Legitimate SEOs will give you realistic expectations.

What should you do if you’re contacted by a potential scammer?

Chances are, if it seems suspicious, it isn’t legitimate. If it’s an email, don’t reply to the email, not even if it says “Reply ‘stop’ to be taken off the list.” That just tells them that your email address is active and you will get more emails in the future. If it’s a phone call, hang up. If it’s a physical piece of mail, shred any personal details before discarding it.

If you’ve been contacted and you’re not sure if it’s a scam or legit, contact your web professional. If you’re a website care plan customer of mine, I am always happy to help.

I would rather answer a million emails asking “is this legit or not,” than for these dishonest thieves to get single red cent out of you.

What if it’s a real email?

Sometimes, you might get emails from a web host or domain name registrar and you’re not sure if it’s a real bill, an upsell to a legitimate service, a scammer, or an unneeded service that you forgot to cancel. It can be really hard to tell the difference!

If you get an email from someone saying they are your registrar saying your domain name is expiring, or your web hosting needs payment, don’t ignore it. Check your records to see through whom your domain name is registered or who your web host is.

If you’re not sure who your domain name registrar or web host is, try searching your email archives for the phrase “domain name” or “web hosting”. You can also use online tools to look up your registrar, like this lookup tool. (Or, if I’m your web designer, just ask me for help finding this info.)

If your domain name expires, it can be difficult to get back, if you can at all. Some people make money by buying up expired domains and reselling them at thousands of dollars.

Your domain name is how customers actually find your website, so it’s important to maintain control of it. If you’re not sure if an email is from who it claims to be, don’t click the link in the email itself– navigate to the registrar’s website directly and see if there’s something that needs your attention.

If you lose your domain name, you have to start from scratch building your reputation up with Google. And your customers may be directed to an error page, or a notice that the domain is for sale. So when in doubt, ask!

In a similar vein, web hosting is the only way your website is made available on the internet. If the web hosting bill goes unpaid, visitors may see an error page, or even a notice that your bill is unpaid.

With both web hosting and domain names, my best recommendation is to put the bills on auto-pay and make sure your payment method is kept up-to-date.

Alleged “copyright infringement”

There’s a more sophisticated scam that’s on the rise where someone posing as a photographer claims that you’ve stolen their images.

It might say something like:

“Your website or a website that your organization hosts is infringing on a copyright protected images owned by our company (name of company).”

Check out this doc with the URLs to our images you used at [yourwebsite].com and our previous publications to obtain the proof of our copyrights.”

The giveaway is they want you to click a link– it’s usually a Google Docs link. Don’t click the link. It’s malware (or a phishing attempt).

The scam is very sophisticated compared to the average effort. There’s quite a number of variations, but the one that I read had perfect English, a story that made sense, and was from a gmail address that sounds like one a photographer would have! The first time I saw it, I almost thought it was a real demand letter– except they were claiming copyright infringement by a client of mine whose only images on his entire website were watercolor paintings he had done himself. And instead of asking for money for the image, there was a link claiming to be to view the copyrighted work.

But to be on the safe side, if you get an email threatening legal action or asking for money over copyright infringement– and it doesn’t sound like the scam above– check to see if you have really have an infringing photo.

An easy way to tell the difference: if they are asking for money (not something like gift cards or bitcoin) it’s possible it’s legitimate and you should ask your web professional for more info. But if they are trying to get you to click a link, like the above example, it’s a scam.

If you have used a copyrighted photo that you found online without attributing it, it’s not unheard of for the copyright holder to send a demand letter by email to the website owner. If ignored, they really may turn the case over to their legal team to recover payment for the image.

So my recommendation is not to take risks– it’s easy for copyright holders to reverse-image search and find infringing images. When I work with clients to source images for their website, I include premium stock photography I purchase for you from a reputable service, so you are not at risk of getting sued over copyrighted images.

Now you are forewarned and forearmed against a variety of scams– just remember:

1. If you’re suspicious, statistically, it’s probably spam

2. Know exactly who your domain name registrar and web host are

3. Read emails carefully and prefer directly visiting their website rather than clicking links

4. When in doubt, search for a line or two from the email, or just ask your web professional

Be careful out there– be skeptical, be a little suspicious, and stay safe!


Yes, you need an email list. Whether you run a service business, sell products, write a niche monetized blog, or however you make money with your website– cultivating a mailing list will increase your profits.

How? If your business tends to have a quick purchase decision and repeat customers, a mailing list will make more repeat customers and increase their value. If your business has a long lead time on the purchase decision, a mailing list will help you retain more customers all the way to the end of that buying process.

What is an email list?

An email list is a list of names and emails of people who have given you permission to email them. If you’ve been shopping anytime in the past decade, you probably know that retailers are clamoring to get you to sign up for their marketing lists so they can tell you about their latest deals and products directly in your inbox. That’s because mailing lists work. (But your emails don’t have to be like theirs!)

But email lists aren’t only for product based businesses. Maybe you are thinking “I don’t have any new products or sales to tell people about.” You can still benefit from a mailing list.

If you run a service business, wouldn’t you be able to charge more, if people thought of you as a trusted expert and an authority in your field? A mailing list can help you establish those bona fides.

And wouldn’t you sell more if, when customers were done with the “research” phase of their buying journey, you were the top expert on their mind? A mailing list can keep you top-of-mind when the customer is ready to pull out their wallet.

A mailing list helps you to get leads coming to you rather than you constantly reaching out to them by running sales, special deals, or paying out the nose for ad clicks. It allows you to sell, not by competing on price, but by being genuinely helpful.

Can’t I just use social media instead of an email list?

You may already have an established “audience” of customers who have opted in to hear from you on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social platforms. On that platform, you may be building your brand by posting examples of your work, connecting with potential customers, educating them by writing about your product or service or showing how they can benefit. That can be really beneficial, especially if that platform is where your ideal customers primarily are.

But if social media is the only way that you have to connect with your customers personally, that’s really risky! After all, that means a third party is the go-between and they can cut you off from your audience whenever they want.

And they’ve already done that over and over, so it’s not like we weren’t warned. Social media algorithms have drastically reduced the “reach” that business posts have because it’s usually not the kind of content that goes viral and keeps users endlessly scrolling.

So even if you have a large audience of interested customers, a tiny fraction of them will even see your content. After all, why would Facebook or Instagram show customers your content for free, when they can charge you to artificially “boost” your posts in your customer’s feeds?

Don’t let social media hold your business over a barrel. You can build a platform that you own by cultivating a direct connection to your customer’s email inbox.

How do I set up an email list?

If you’ve already got a website, you’ll need to choose an email marketing service that works for you. The purpose of this post isn’t to push one choice on you over another, and I don’t have an affiliate relationship with any of them. I happen to use Mailchimp myself, but I won’t say that’s the best choice, it’s just the one I use. There’s other options like ConvertKit, Sendinblue, Flodesk, etc. They have advantages and drawbacks, and different price points from free (for a limited number of subscribers or limited tools) to a fair chunk of change per month.

Once you’ve got an email marketing service, you’ll need to follow their instructions to generate a signup form for you to copy and paste into your website, or if you use WordPress you can use a plugin to create a form and integrate it with the email marketing service.

If I manage your website for you under my website care plan, I can hook all of this up for you without you needing to touch any code.

How can I get people to sign up?

Once you’ve got the mechanics taken care of, and you’ve got a handy form to get their name and email flowing from your website to your mailing list, how can you actually motivate customers to give you permission to email them?

Email addresses are valuable, and so is the customer’s time. So they won’t hand over the keys to their inbox for nothing.

To start and grow your email list, think about the problem or problems that your business solves for your customers and develop a single piece of content will be your “lead magnet.” This content can be a checklist, a simple high-level tutorial, a worksheet, a curated resource list– the important part is that it be:

  1. Specific & digestible– it should solve one real problem that your ideal customer is experiencing.
  2. Valuable– a good rule of thumb is if you feel like it’s worth paying for.
  3. Positions you as the expert.

It might take you a few days to get this piece of content ready, especially if you’re fitting it in between running your business, but it may allow you to passively attract customers for years. Is that worth it? I think so!

Sometimes business owners are concerned that they’re giving away the golden goose if they write up a marketing asset that helps the customer solve the problem, but let’s face it– you bring a lot more to the table than can be written in 1-3 page PDF document. You won’t be replaced just because you shared your expertise– you’ll be encouraging potential customers to know, like, and trust you by helping them out.

And as they say, talk is cheap– the real value is in getting the work done. When it comes down to it, your ideal customer doesn’t want to spend the time when they can hire the work out.

After I get them to subscribe, what do I email them about?

Your mailing list can consist of emails that educate and inform your customers, while establishing your credibility as an authority in your market. Think about the last question a customer asked you on the phone. Had you gotten that question before? Do you think it’s the kind of thing customers are searching online? You can be the business that answers! When you begin to note down questions customers repeatedly ask, you will have more and more ideas for what kinds of emails you can send.

Here’s some real-life examples of content marketing that has been effective for some businesses that I work with:

  • a retail plant nursery writes regularly about what’s in season, what can be planted right now, what plants are due for pruning, fertilizing, or sheltering, what weather trends are developing, and what workshops are upcoming at their store.
  • HVAC contractor- seasonally appropriate energy/cost saving tips (different documents rotated for the season)
  • Wellness providers– tips for stress management and  self-care to support patients in between visits

For example, an HVAC company might have seasonal emails that provide tips for controlling heating and cooling costs.

I don’t want to annoy customers by writing too often…

I totally get this. Usually the real underlying concern is feeling gross about being pushy or sales-y. But if customers truly opt-in, and what you email is actually valuable, they won’t be annoyed; they’ll want more. So be genuinely helpful, deliver value, and don’t sell with every email. Tailor your email frequency to your particular audience, but don’t be too shy, and don’t worry about unsubscribes too much. You don’t need a huge audience, you just need to reach the ones who really want what you’re selling!

I hope this has encouraged you to try your hand at email marketing! It can really transform a business. If you need help getting started, please email me on the contact form.


Now that you’ve launched your new website, you may be wondering when you can expect to see good results from search engines like Google. The goal is to get your website ranking for search queries that are related to your products and services, like “[your service] + near me” or [“product” + [your location]”.

But right now, when you plug those terms into the search box, you may not see your website come up at all. Sure, you probably rank for your business name (if your business name is unique enough), but if you type in a generic version of your product or service, you might get bupkis, at least on page one.

So how does Google decide which websites rank on page one, in the top spots, for any given search term?

Well, there’s an entire industry dedicated to sussing that out and optimizing that. Welcome to the wild world of SEO.

Meme of obi wan, luke, and threepio just before they entered the mos eisley cantina. you'll never see a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
As a community, SEO professionals don’t have the greatest reputation.

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the method of getting better results from search engines by optimizing your website and other factors to rank higher in search engine results.

Google has developed a complicated algorithm with hundreds (minimum) of what’s called “ranking signals”, ie, factors your website is evaluated against to decide whether it’s more or less valuable to a given searcher than your competition.

The exact number of ranking factors that go into this algorithm is something only Google knows. The exact weight given to each of these factors is also kept private.

That’s part of why the SEO community can be tough to navigate. Imagine if your county’s permitting process for your new room addition was a total secret, and you just had to fork over cash to a contractor who promises that he knows what the county wants and he can get your room addition approved for sure. But you won’t know if he’s telling the truth until the inspector comes. Meanwhile, your contractor is rolling in cash regardless of whether you get your room addition or not.

There’s far too many to list here, but grouped into the main categories, we can safely say that Google looks at things like:

  • your domain name
  • website reputation (do only spammy websites link to you, or vice versa?)
  • website age (Google favors new things and old things)
  • website structure and code
  • content (can Google tell if your text and images are relevant to the search query?)
  • website security
  • backlinks and citations (that’s other websites that link to yours, and non-linking mentions that can be tied to your brand)
  • user interaction patterns, like how long users stay on your site before returning to the search results

Additionally, they also evaluate a special spicy mix of factors that are almost completely out of your control, like a need to mix things up on the results pages to correct for some algorithmic bias, the search history and profile of the actual searcher (yes, Google customizes search results per user– your search results are not necessarily the same as mine!), a need to inject fresher/newer content and see if it’s any good, and geo-centric factors like where the user is when they submit their search query.

As you can see, there’s a lot to the question of how Google decides where your website ranks compared to the competition. But their ultimate goal is to play matchmaker with the user searching “hvac installation mytown, arizona” with, say, MyTownHeatingandCooling.com. And they have to keep their methods sophisticated and fairly secretive, because there’s a ton of spam-spewing hordes out their who are constantly trying to game the system. So my advice is:

  • Try to make your goals align with Google’s by being helpful to their users. The content on your website should be deeply helpful to the real people that are searching for answers that you want to give them.
  • Follow Google’s best practices recommendations for a high-quality website. That means your website should be easy for Google to read and understand, load fast, be secure, etc. For more tips, check out the companion post “How can I get my website to number 1 on Google?”

It won’t happen overnight, but as with planting a tree, the best time to start is ten years ago… the second best time is today!

Just building and launching your website won’t make traffic start flowing overnight. Jumpstarting things with your own “launch campaign” is the first step to getting free organic (natural, ie, non-advertisement-based) traffic flowing to your website.

So here’s a list of things you can do as soon as your website launches to get real eyeballs on it right away. This will go a long way towards the long term success of your website.

How to jumpstart website traffic with a launch campaign:

  • Start with your current contacts and customers. Invoices and letterhead should have your website address printed at the top. This can help customers who maybe aren’t aware of ALL of your services to perhaps expand their relationship with you.
  • Do you have a list of email addresses of current customers who’ve given you permission to email them? You can send out a mass email to let them know about your new website.
  • Marketing materials. If you make use of flyers, business cards, brochures, trade magazine ads, etc, make sure your website address is included too.
  • Signage. Decals, wraps, or magnet signs on your buildings, car, truck, or any fleet vehicles can be great advertising if your website is prominent and clear.
  • Current vendors, affiliates, resellers, partners, or suppliers. Think about the network of other businesses that you interact with– do they know about your website? If you are a supplier or vendor, or others promote your business in some way, you might ask if they will update that content with a link to your new website.
  • Conversely, if you make use of someone else’s services or products, you may offer to write a review/testimonial for your supplier and ask them to link to your website along with the review the review. Worth an ask!
  • Your email signature. Adding a simple, readable link to your website underneath your name is a great way to make people you’re already in contact with aware of your new site. I also like to add a link to my reviews, as well.
  • Business directories– as soon as you can, add your new website address to your Google My Business listing, Yelp, and any other directories you maintain listings with. This may also include trade organizations or communities where you interact with colleagues or customers, local chamber of commerce, local or state small business guilds, etc.
  • Social media. Most social media profiles will have a place to include your website, so add yours today! You may also want to post an announcement about your new website. My recommendation is to coordinate this with your web designer, just to make sure everything is truly launched, live, and ready for primetime by the time you post.

Those are just a few ideas for getting traffic flowing to your website. Meanwhile, your website designer will be taking care of submitting the website for indexing by Google, which ensures that when your potential customers do search for things that you want to rank for, Google can decide where to rank your site. They will also be making sure that your website is “Google friendly,” meaning, it complies with the best practice recommendations that Google puts out to make sure that the website’s content can be processed and understood by Google’s algorithm. They may also be able to help you write content that will put your business’s best foot forward on the web.

The next step, of course, is trying to improve your website’s ranking in the search engine results pages. You don’t want the only traffic you get to be coming from your Facebook announcement post, or someone who saw the sign on your truck at a stoplight– there’s a world of people who are searching for your products and services on Google, and organically showing up when they search is the cheapest way to get new leads.

But when you start out, you may need to click through page after page of search results before you see your own website. And no customer is going to search all the way to page 42!

So how do you move up through the rankings to where you have a shot at getting actual clicks from organic searches? Check out my other post “How do I get to #1 on Google?” to learn more about that topic.


That’s the million dollar question, right? Everyone wants their website to be the top of the search results for the keywords and questions that their customers are searching for. And there’s plenty of agencies and individuals selling SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services and claiming that they can ensure your website is #1.

But no one can guarantee any particular ranking, unless they are in charge at Google! But there’s still lots you (and your web developer– if that’s me, great!) can do to ensure your website will be a strong competitor.

Here’s some Real Facts in a nutshell on how to successfully improve your website’s SEO.

1. Follow best practices.

Google wants the best, most relevant results for every query that gets searched. So work with them to make that your website. Google provides a good deal of info on how to make sure that your website complies with these best practices. A site built accordingly will be easy to understand for Google’s army of bots which search the internet for relevant results.

To find out how your website compares to best practices, I use a variety of tools like Lighthouse, which analyzes your overall page quality and returns score on things like performance, technical SEO, best practices, and accessibility. I relentlessly prioritize these factors in your website, so you can be assured that when Google measures your site, it will be in excellent shape in all these areas.

2. Imitate the competition

Please note, this doesn’t mean copying their content, design, or their exact marketing strategy! 😱

With that caveat– the easiest way to outrank a competitor is to see what they’re doing right and do it better. So who are your main competitors? What kinds of content do they post on their website? What social media are they on, and how often do they post? How many reviews do they have, and how highly do customers rank them on average?

When you find answers for these questions, you might find that you need to add more content, get (and respond to!) more customer reviews, improve your photo content, or better learn where your customers are searching for your services online.

4. Optimize for the user

Your content shouldn’t sound as if it’s optimized for robots! Don’t be tempted to stuff your keywords into every sentence or paragraph. Yes, you need to use important keywords in your content, but your content should be primarily be aimed at benefiting the real human beings who read it.

One way you can do this is by thinking about the commonly asked questions that people have about your services or products. What is the problem that they are typically having when they begin to search for your services or products? Your website should describe that situation and reassure them that you understand it, and have a solution!

Another way to cater to your potential customers is to answer their objections. What is the number one competitor to your product or service? By competitor, I don’t necessarily mean another business– it could be something else, like DIY. For example, the number one competitor to a pool service business might not be the other pool service guy who does it cheaper– it might be homeowners cleaning their own pools!

Writing your website’s copy with the customer in mind can be much, much more persuasive than simply regurgitating keywords.

Imagine two pool service companies– one has a one-page website with a simple list of their services and contact information, and one has that PLUS a blog where they regularly answer common questions like “Is it worth it to pay for pool service?”

Now imagine a potential customer searches for “is pool service worth it?”– which website do you think Google will rank higher?

Not only will that customer probably click on the website that answers their question vs. the one that only lists their services, they will probably stay longer and visit other pages on your website. Google will evaluate this behavior and may decide that your website should show up for MORE related queries based on that successful response.

5. Optimize for the search engine.

Google’s algorithm is good and gets better all the time. But it’s not perfect. So you need to make sure that what’s obvious to you is obvious to a robot, too. Mostly, this happens behind the scenes in your website’s code, which I take great care to ensure is completely optimized.

But there’s things you can do, too. One is making sure that your content reflects the language that people are actually searching for.

Industry jargon can be very common, but if your business caters to customers rather than business-to-business (b2b), you may need to research how customers are actually talking about your products or services.

You can do this by reading reviews of the competition, doing keyword research with tools like AnswerThePublic, and listening carefully (and making notes!) when you speak to customers in person, email, or on the phone.

6. Measure health and performance.

Your website needs to be in great shape to serve your business well. That means that it should be free of any technical errors, like broken links, missing images, or pages that are hard to use on mobile devices.

It should also load quickly for everyone, including those on mobile networks and on devices like tablets, phones, or even smart watches.

I am obsessed with improving performance and making sure every website I build uses best practices to be accessible to all– so your website will be shipshape when Google comes a-callin’.

7. Rinse and repeat

Lastly, it’s important to realize that SEO is not a one-and-done service. It’s a process that needs to be continued throughout the life of your website. So if you subscribe to a website care plan, know that I will be there to help you improve your website by adding content, helping you strategize your content, and making sure your website is up-to-date and working well for your business.

Follow all these steps and don’t give up– your website can be climbing up the search engine results ranking sooner than you might think!


If you’ve ever googled “how much does a website cost” you probably noticed that there’s a huge price range. Why does one designer charge $500 when another charges, for example, $5000? You might be thinking “For $5000, that web designer better wash and fold my laundry and change my oil while she’s at it.”

Fair enough! Not everyone is in the market for a website that costs thousands. But if you’re in the market for a website that will be a critical piece of your business– and in 2021, that’s more of you than it used to be– you may want to consider what you’re really paying for. As they say, if you buy cheap, you buy twice.

Read on to get the skinny on what the difference is between a $500 website vs a $5k website.

Someone who charges $500 for a website might not have the skills to deliver what they promise.

There’s a very, very low bar for calling yourself a web designer– all you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
No license, no certifications, no industry-standard classes to take. There’s also a mindset of “fake it till you make it.”

Some coaches and course instructors, who have ditched building websites in favor of teaching others to build websites, encourage students to begin taking on projects that may be outside their current skill level. The idea is to build the skills on the job.

Is this a really good way to learn? Actually, uh, yeah. And it’s how I learned (minus the part about a coach. My learning was via books, blogs, and reverse engineering other people’s websites and then applying that to building websites for family friends and acquaintances). But at the same time, all those websites I learned to build on the job have been rebuilt since then, because even for their time, they weren’t professionally built sites. I would die of embarrassment to have anyone see them today. Fortunately, they’ve all been lost to the sands of time, and like I said, they’ve been rebuilt (mostly by me!)

A $500 website may be delivered much later than you agreed on.

One of the last skills most web designers cultivate is often how to estimate how long a project will take. It might be because they don’t yet know how they will actually build it, and may underestimate how long it will take to learn the necessary skills and implement them.

Another critical skill that comes with experience is guiding you, the website buyer, through the process of what elements your website actually needs. So a $500 website might get delivered and turn out to be missing key features or just look a lot different than you thought it would– discouraging both of you, and causing the project to be delayed even further. Sometimes the delays stretch into many months! Can your business handle that delay? Or would it cost you potentially thousands in lost revenue?

That $500 website may end up costing you more than you bargained.

Because of the aforementioned potential delays and communication problems, a web design project bid at $500 may incur more costs to fill in extra features, pages, or design elements that crop up later in the project. Many designers, especially newer ones but also designers from parts of the world with much lower standard pay rates, charge projects by the hour and you may find yourself receiving additional invoices.

Is that fair? That’s between you and the designer; it’s very fact-specific and each project and relationship is different. But any recourse may be more trouble than it’s worth, especially if the money has already been exchanged.

By contrast to all the above, here’s what you’re paying for if you get a (for example) $5K website, or one in that range, from a professional:

  • The security of knowing this isn’t the designer’s first website– you’re not paying for them to learn how to build a website. They’ve got a portfolio full of happy customers.
  • The experience to know and explain fully how long your project will take, and clearly outline what will be delivered at the end of that timeline.
  • The expertise to deliver all the features that will help grow your business, including SEO, best practices for accessibility, speedy performance, and results-focused design and copy.

There’s a lot of choices when it comes to who handles your email. Basically your options fall under 3 different categories:

  1. Free email from a provider like gmail or yahoo– yourname@gmail.com
  2. ‘Free’ branded email from your web host, bundled into your web hosting fee– yourname@yourdomain.com
  3. Paid branded email service from a provider like Google Workspace– yourname@yourdomain.com

You may notice that options #2 and #3 are suspiciously similar. Except that one you pay nothing extra for beyond your web hosting fee, and one you have to pay monthly for (around $6 per inbox, at time of writing, from Google Workspace).

This might seem like a no-brainer– why pay extra for what looks like the same thing?

Of course, as you might guess, it’s really not the same thing at all. Using the free email that comes with your web host might work for a while, but it comes with some very serious drawbacks that can cost your business money if you ever use it for anything critical.

I’ll lay out the options that you have to handle your business email and the advantages and drawbacks of them all, so that you can make an informed decision.

Option 1: Use a free email like gmail or yahoo

This option has some major advantages. Just about everybody has a free email address like this. You already know how to use it, and you’re used to giving it out. It’s probably already hooked up to your smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about missing important emails.

When you send email, you know that it’s delivered; you generally don’t experience things like your emails being flagged as spam or not delivered to the recipient.

Disadvantages: using yourname@gmail.com, or nameofyourbusiness@gmail.com, doesn’t look as professional. You may appear to be a fly-by-night operation and it won’t position you as a trusted authority in your space.

Option 2: Use the branded email that comes with your web host

Everybody likes a deal. And if the deal you bought came with free email, you’re well within your rights to expect your web host to keep up their end of the bargain. Using this free email, you can usually create as many inboxes as you need, so that you can have emails for yourself, your employees, your payroll department, whatever you need, all at no extra cost beyond the monthly web hosting fee. The only limit is your hard disk space.

As you might expect. something that sounds this good comes with some drawbacks.

If your website goes down for any reason, your email does down with it. That includes your biggest customer emailing you, “Hey, it looks like your website is down?”

Your email will share disk space resources with your website. If you use email frequently for things like sending image, Word, or PDF attachments, like is common for invoicing/billing, sending proposals, etc, you may fill up your allotted disk space pretty quickly* depending on your web hosting plan. And that may cause errors with your website, even causing your website to go offline until disk space is freed up.

*Tiny Little Caveat about this: It’s possible to use a different email setting (called POP, vs the more standard IMAP) to avoid filling up your server with emails. That would mean your emails are actually moved from your server to your device (like your PC or tablet) once you check your email. It’s outside the scope of this question, but you can read more about POP vs. IMAP here (opens in new tab).

Your emails may be flagged as spam automatically by your recipients’ email providers. Chances are, your web hosting plan involves sharing the same server space as many, many other websites. You can look up who’s sharing your space by entering your domain name into this tool, for example. If just one other site on your server is a bad apple, all emails including yours that are routed through that server may be flagged as spam. Sometimes they end up in the spam/junk folder, and sometimes they can “hard bounce”– in other words, disappear silently without even appearing as a spam email.

Even if the first two issues are not a problem for you, the issue of unreliable email delivery is one that is basically inevitable. In my roughly ten years of handling the hosting end of web services, including my own personal experience with using freebie branded email hosting, I have seen this become a huge, hair-on-fire issue when business owners start finding their critical emails go unseen.

Of course these days, I recommend any business critical email is never sent through a freebie web host email service. So my clients are able to avoid these issues, and I hope you avoid them too! If you want branded email, though, what’s your alternative?

Option 3: Use a paid branded email service from a provider like Google Workspace

You can set up an email address to send and receive email from an address like yourname@yourdomain.com for a cost ranging from $3-6 dollars per month per inbox, depending on the provider.

The one I recommend is Google Workspace as it is reliable and easy to set up. If you send and receive sensitive emails, and privacy/ security is a concern, ProtonMail is another option. That’s the one my clients in the healthcare space use.

An advantage of paid branded email is that you get the professional look of a branded email without tying your email to your website. So if your website was to experience an issue, your email would still work just fine since it’s handled by your email host’s servers, not yours.

Your emails will be reliably delivered. Unless you’re sending spam, you don’t have to worry about being flagged as junk and having critical emails be deleted unseen.

An advantage of Google Workspace in particular is that checking your email is exactly the same as with a @gmail.com email address. So if that’s your usual email provider, you won’t have to learn anything new and your transition will be very easy.

A real disadvantage is that if you are used to large numbers of free email inboxes, the cost can add up. For instance, having an email address for every employee may add up to more than you’re able or willing to budget.

One thing to keep in mind that may or may not help you is that with Google Workspace, you do have unlimited email aliases. This is when your primary email is, for example, alice@example.com, and you set up an alias that is invoicing@example.com. That alias is just another name for the real email address, alice@example.com. The emails sent and received would look like they were coming from a different email, invoicing@example.com, but they would all be associated with the same inbox.

But for many small businesses, one or two emails is all they really need, and the cost is offset by the value of knowing that your business critical emails will actually be delivered.

I hope this has helped you decide what’s best for sending and receiving your business critical emails!

Note: A related topic is sending and receiving emails via your website, ie, order notifications for eCommerce stores and emails sent via contact forms. If you’ve ever had a problem with emails sent via your website not being delivered reliably to you (or your customers), you may want to check that post out.


When you’re trying to grow your business, do bookkeeping, handle the latest supply chain issues, answer phones, file tax returns, and manage employees– not to mention actually doing the actual work of providing services or products– the LAST thing you may want to take on is writing the content for your own website.

You’re not alone in that. A blank page and a note from your web developer that they need ‘the content for your about page’ can be overwhelming.

As a web developer, I make the process easier than that by providing “stubbed-out” content and personalized thought-starting questions designed to help you get over that blank-page obstacle and make some content as easy as fill in the blanks. But in the end, no one knows your business better than you.

You don’t have to enjoy writing to end up with great content for your site. Your expertise in your business and a little brainstorming about your customers is all you need to bring to the table. Along with that, though, here’s some pitfalls to avoid and practical tips that can help you come up with the perfect words.

Tip #1: Speak as if you’re talking directly to an individual customer, and remember the problem they want to solve.

Speak the customer’s language. A common issue I see with small business website content (copy) is the use of elevated, corporate-sounding language. This really puts up a block between the business and its customers, even though it’s meant to give the impression of professionalism and trustworthiness.

A good way to combat this is to read your copy out loud. This can highlight words or phrases that sound awkward coming out of your own mouth– if it’s not something you’d normally say, it probably doesn’t belong on your website.

Probably the most important bit of copy to get right on your website is the main headline on your front page. This is usually a short statement that can be seen without scrolling, in the section right below your logo and main navigation. This is the first thing that customers will see, often when they are not at all familiar with your business– they may have searched for a keyword and have clicked several of the results on the search engine results page and you’re one of the results.

It’s critical that this headline be short and clear. How clear? If you were to explain what you do in your business to a ten-year-old, that’s the level of clarity that your headline should aim for. That doesn’t mean your headline should actually be what you’d say to that ten year old, but it should be that clear.

In fact, the rest of your copy should aim for a maximum of an 8th grade reading level. There are tools online, like the Hemingway writing app, which can evaluate your writing and give you a grade level.

It is widely agreed that Google uses the reading level difficulty of the text on your website as a ranking signal, ie, a factor in where you stand in the search engine results pages. This is understandable since most people are consuming the content on your website by skipping and scanning for the parts that are important to them– not reading it like it’s a novel or a textbook.

In other words, they’re only half paying attention, so make it easy to follow.

(It’s true that this doesn’t apply to literally everyone, but it’s the only safe assumption. Kind of like how road signs are designed to give you the safe maximum speed in a low-traction scenario like wet roads or old tires.)

Again, I want to make it clear that great website copy doesn’t mean writing for 8th graders. Your audience is unique and you should write for them. But if you aim for that 8th-grade reading level, you’ll tend to write punchier, more readable copy for a potentially distracted audience.

For more tips on writing clearly for your audience, a great resource is this US government backed website: https://www.plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/audience/. Check it out!

Every piece of content on your website is really, in the end, about the customer and their problem, the problem you hope to solve for them.

That even includes the “About Us” page. Mentioning how long you’ve been in business is fine, but make it a part of a larger story of why you’re in business. For example, “Plumbing service with 45 years’ experience,” becomes “Keeping everything flushing and flowing at your home or business for 45 years,” with thanks to Mr. Rooter Plumbing for that turn of phrase. The first is a bit of self-praise, and the second is a promise of how you can solve the customer’s problem!

If you are stumped for how to speak to your customer’s problems and show how you can solve them, read your customer reviews. If you don’t have any yet, read your competitor’s reviews. These are a goldmine of information on how your customers are talking and thinking about their problems and how they were solved.

Tip #2: Answer the most common questions related to your business.

For many businesses, the number one most common question is “How much will it cost?” That’s why so many websites have “pricing” pages prominently linked in their primary navigation menus.

It’s good to address the question of “how much,” even if the answer is “it depends.” A lot of business owners don’t like to give this info because they feel more comfortable selling it over the phone– but you may miss out on those who are just hitting that back button because they are looking for that number, or at least the ballpark idea. So if there’s variables to your pricing, just describe what those variables are.

Make it as detailed as possible. Sometimes, especially for high-ticket items, the question of “How much is it?” is really “Is it worth it?” If you answer the real question, even if they don’t come away with a number, they are likely to be satisfied.

Tip #3: Educate your customer on the number one drawback to your service or product.

This might sound bad when I say it so bluntly, but you don’t have to put it in so many words. The fact is, your customers are already comparing the pros and cons, so lean into it, acknowledge the drawback, and tell them why you are (or your product is) the right choice after all. Who would you rather they hear it from– you, or your competition?

As an example, one of my longtime customers does tree, lawn and landscape management. Their number one tool is careful chemical treatment. In the beginning days of their business, they really tried to emphasize the non-chemical treatments they used, the mechanical methods of keeping unwanted vegetation down (like weedwhackers).

But in reality, for the types of jobs they take on, using the appropriate chemicals is the best way to do the job. It’s more effective, it’s relatively safe, it results in healthier trees and shrubs, and it is a better buy for their customers’ money– if they were simply cutting the weeds down, they’d have to return much more often. So for all these reasons and more, they’d built a successful business using chemical spraying.

Their website did not reflect this, because that word “chemical” seemed a little bit too controversial.

It seemed easier to just talk about it in person or on the phone– it’s easier to have a conversation that way. It’s easier to talk about the “hard parts” of our business, like how much it costs or the pros and cons of our methods, when we can “read the room” and know the customer is receptive or not.

But if we shy away from these things, it just leads to frustration from customers, or frustration on our part when we find we’re chasing business that really just isn’t into us.

On the other hand, if we address the elephant in the room, we’ll be gaining the trust of our customers and showing we really want to answer their questions transparently, that we value informing and educating over selling.

That’s the only way to sell without being sales-y and feeling gross: really care, and really tell them the truth.

As a side effect, in the case of the chemical landscape managers, they found that when their website’s content reflected the actual conversations that they usually only had in person, their organic search traffic drastically increased. Because they were finally writing to their actual customers: people who were open to and actively looking for experts to care for their landscape using chemical spraying.

You can get these results too– by speaking as if directly to your customer, addressing their needs and problems, answering the questions they ask before they ask them, and educating them in a transparent and authentic way.


If you’ve ever experienced the trend of getting a ton of leads through your contact forms that don’t seem to have two cents to rub together to pay for your services, I’ve got some practical tips and tweaks to improve your website and attract much better customers to your website.

In an ideal world, wouldn’t it be great if the time and effort you spend to help customers was surrounded by a “velvet rope” like at fancy red-carpet events? You can and should have that velvet rope! In the end, you and your customers will be much happier. They will feel personally cared for and special, and you will have the time and resources you need to provide your service while maintaining profitability (and a healthy work-life balance instead of breaking your back catering to demanding customers who push back on price).

There are a few problems that can lead to unqualified leads jumping over that velvet rope and wasting your time and energy. Let’s go through four of them one by one.

1. Your website may be making you look low-budget.

Customers, or potential customers, make snap decisions based purely on the appearance of your website. These decisions may not even be conscious, but they are powerful and not easy to reverse.

That means having a professional design is critical. But how can you know if your site looks professional if you’re not a web designer?

Simply put, good design follows certain rules. That’s right– art may be subjective, but design isn’t. That doesn’t mean your website needs to look like everyone else’s, because there’s a lot of room for style within the rules. But check your website for the following elements to see whether it’s following the rules.

Fonts should be easily readable, and convey the personality of your brand. Serif fonts are traditional, and trustworthy; sans-serif fonts are modern and clean.

Ideally your design will feature two fonts, one for headings and one for body text. Sometimes a third can sneak in as an accent for text that’s not critical to the message– but keep in mind every font you add makes your site take longer to load. Websites that have too many fonts also tend to look messy and disorganized.

Colors should convey feelings you want customers to associate with your business, and be used in a way that ensures content is easy to access. For example, red text on a chartreuse background is a bad idea as it’s hard to read.

A great layout uses visual elements to keep customers interested enough to stick around to hear your whole pitch. For example, say you have a number of services and you’re listing them in a two-column layout. One column has an image, and the other column has the headline and a paragraph or two of description. The first item may have the image on the left, on the next item should have the image on the right. This arrangement gives the reader a little hit of “novelty” and encourages them to continue scrolling. Small, but it works!

A good layout also tells your users what’s most important. Headline text is larger and has space around it (but not too much space that distances the headline from its associated content). Other text can be bolded, colored more brightly or more muted to draw or deflect the eye, depending on how important it is.

Images should be high quality and add meaning to your text content. High quality means that they shouldn’t be pixelated or low-resolution, or with the wrong aspect ratio for the space. Image styles– for example, illustrations and photos– shouldn’t be mixed.

Good design makes customers stick around longer, and enables you to charge what you’re worth without pushback. Great design will make them genuinely delighted to pay whatever it costs!

2. Maybe your website isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence that you’re a trustworthy business.

Inspiring trust is critical be be able to charge high end prices.

Avoid any kind of mistake. That means no error codes, from your website or your web host. No typos. No grammar mistakes. No broken images, and no broken links.

All information should be current. Do you have a ‘copyright’ notice in your website footer? What does the year say? If it doesn’t mention the current year, change it right away. Do you have a blog? If you haven’t updated your blog in over a year, remove all the datelines from the posts (and make sure that your content itself isn’t obviously dated).

Associate yourself with third party trusted sources. This can be your local chamber of commerce, big recognizable brand names you’ve worked with, or even the Better Business Bureau or other recognizable names.

Feature customer reviews. You want people who visit your website to know, like, and trust you. What better way than by featuring the personal experiences of those who’ve already done business with you? These reviews and testimonials can convince customers that you’re worth the price you charge, because you will reliably deliver what they need.

You don’t have to take my word for it– I’ve adapted the tips in this #2 section from a Stanford University research paper which produced 10 guidelines for credible websites. You can read what makes a credible website here.

3. You need to position yourself as an authority or thought leader to set yourself apart from the competition.

One way to set yourself apart is to sell by helping and educating your customers, rather than competing on price.

Have a mailing list is key. It takes 6-8 “touches” on average to make a sale, but most visitors leave after viewing one page. Collect emails addresses from visitors so you can connect with your them even after they leave your website, to educate, inform, and persuade.

Offer something genuinely helpful in return. Website visitors won’t just give their email address for free, so you’ll need to come up with a “lead magnet” to attract them. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking– a helpful checklist, a curated resource collection, or a quick guide will do. It should be actionable and give a quick win, to demonstrate your know-how.

Avoid guides that turn into DIY tutorials– you want to be helpful to customers who prefer to hire out the work, after all. The guide should help them to see the value of what you’re offering rather than replace you.

Don’t say “subscribe to our newsletter.” Talk about the actual benefit of your lead magnet. Tell them how often you’ll email. Use a light touch on how often you pitch.

4. Don’t get into a race to the bottom.

Sometimes in order to generate leads, businesses run specials or get involved in third parties that claim to leverage their huge audience to funnel business to you, in exchange for a cut of your profit. These can be a signal to price-sensitive customers that you’re willing to lower your prices.

It can be a challenge to turn away business by not participating in this price competition, but it will be worth it in the end. You may be able to negotiate, not your price, but your service level to be able to get the business without cutting into your profit.

If it feels like you’ve hit an invisible wall and you’re not sure why your website isn’t attracting qualified customers– or any leads at all– be sure to check out my guide “7 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)” which you can download today to start self-evaluating your website.