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So far Stuart has created 15 blog entries.

A Question of Colour

Toni recently rebuilt and upgraded an online store she had built for a client some years ago.

Among the things that were to be changed during the rebuilt were the two principal colours and the client decided that she would like yellow and purple.

Of course there are many shades of yellow and purple so the client even went so far as to send Toni a swatch of each colour so that Toni could incorporate the exact shades that the client wanted.

When the rebuild was finished Toni went over the site with the client and once the client was happy Toni breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to the next project.

Today, three weeks later, Toni got a phone call from the client … the yellow was not right and nor was the purple and the client had the colours that would be right … except they weren’t.

When Toni changed the colours on the website to the new shades that the client had sent over they still weren’t right. The client now felt that the replacement yellow was too orange and the replacement purple was almost grey.

While the issue of what is the right shade of yellow and purple are still to be resolved now might be a good time to talk about colours and what are some of the things that can influence how we see a colour.

Maybe it’s the monitor
Walk into any department store or Office Works and take a close look at the display of computer monitors.

If they are all switched on and showing the same screen you quickly see that different monitors apparently deal with colours differently. In some cases that may be so but often the problem is caused by the way the monitors have been calibrated.

Look at the controls that come with your monitor and you soon see that you change the way colours appear on the screen. If someone has played with those controls or if the monitor isn’t calibrated at the factory there will be quite a difference in the way colours on the screen are displayed.

And things can get even worse when you look at colours on your tablet or mobile phone.

Maybe it’s the company a colour keeps
Even if your monitor is calibrated perfectly you can still see various shades of colours on the screen that aren’t quite what they really are.

When you have two colours adjacent to each other what you see with our imperfect eyes in one colour maybe influenced the colours adjacent to it.

The colour displayed on the screen may be the correct colour but what you actually see may be lighter or darker than it really is because of the colours around the one you’re looking at. It’s called adjacency and it can be a major problem.

Overcoming the problems
This link will take you to an article on a website that will walk you through the steps you need to take to correctly calibrate your monitor.

Overcoming the problem of adjacent colours influencing how we see those colours and what impact that will have on your website is something that is best discussed with your web designer.

By |July 6th, 2018|Web Design|Comments Off on A Question of Colour

What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Toni and I had an interesting conversation with a local small business person on Saturday night.

This person and their family have recently launched a business in what is a very crowded vertical and competition, at the end of the vertical that they have chosen, is fierce. Their competitors have all been in business for quite some time and have established themselves on the local scene so breaking into that market is proving to be tough.

One of the first questions I asked during out conversation was what was the unique selling point for their new business … what made them stand out from all their competitors.

The person we were talking to looked a little surprised at first … perhaps no one had asked them that question before and they didn’t really know how to answer it and I think that become obvious when they did finally answer the question.

They finally rattled off a bunch of things that potential customers would find in their business but not one of them was unique. In fact, every one of the points they mentioned could have applied equally to all their competitors.

If there was nothing unique about their business then how were they going to stand out in a very crowded marketplace? What was there about their business that would attract potential customers away from the businesses that already filled the marketplace?

Did that small business person really think that all they had to do was open their business and people would flock to them?

I’m not sure that they looked at it quite like that but it was obvious that they hadn’t given much thought to establishing some point of difference between their business and all those similar businesses that had been established for years.

So what is the unique selling point for your business? What service or feature makes you stand out from all your competitors?

What point of difference can you highlight in your marketing that will attract business away from your competitors?

Perhaps in a big city having something that makes you stand out from the crowd isn’t quite so important but if you’re trying to break into an established market in a country town then you need something that makes you stand out. Without it you will fail … quickly.

So again, let me ask you, what makes you and your business stand out from the crowd?

By |June 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works

Website Text - 5 Tips for what worksI am constantly amazed that the most contentious part of the design process for most of the websites we build for clients is the website text.

People have very firm ideas on what the text on a website should say and, sadly, in many cases they are totally wrong.

Sure, they may have looked at the text that appears on other websites but that doesn’t mean that those websites have got the text right either.

So to help you decide what your website text should say and how it should say it here are 5 tips on what works when it comes to effective website text. They are so simple yet all to often people overlook the fact that simple sells.

1. Keep it simple. Simple words and simple concepts are important if you want your website to deliver the outcomes you’re hoping for.

You don’t have to use big words and flourishes of hyperbole to effectively sell your product or service.

2. Short sentences are very important.

Most people find it harder to read text on a screen than they do when it comes in printed form so make it easier for them by using short sentences.

3. Short paragraphs are vital if you want people to read what you write.

Use 2 to 3 short sentences and no more because even that many sentences will look like a huge blob of text on a mobile device.

4. Use plenty of sub-headings because most people do not read every word on a website.

When they land on a website they want the information they’re looking for as soon as they arrive. They don’t want to waste time reading so they scan the text looking for words that are important to them.

Clear sub-headings will help them find what they are looking for.

5. Plain fonts – Use fonts that people can read.

Cursive fonts may look wonderful but these days many people struggle to read anything that appears in an “old fashioned” font.

The same goes for serif fonts so for a business website Verdana and Arial are still the best options.

Keep those 5 simple tips in mind when you’re thinking about website text and you will find that your words will work for you.

By |May 1st, 2018|Website Text|Comments Off on Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works

Ten Facts About Google

10 facts about Google that beginners don't know or understandUnderstanding how Google works can be a challenge so here are ten facts about Google that may help you understand it better.

These ten facts about Google are just some of the things I’ve learnt about Google while working in SEO for the last 18 years.

1. Your new website is not going to immediately appear in Google. Even if your web designer has done everything right it could still take anything up to a year or more for your website to appear.

2. Google is under no obligation to list your website at all.

3. If Google does choose to list your website, it will rank it against a complex set of factors that are mostly kept secret.

4. Even when your website does start to appear in Google it is not going to result in a deluge of new customers. There may not be that many potential customers searching for your service or product.

5. Google adjusts that set of ranking factors mentioned in point 3 on an almost daily basis so there is no guarantee that, if you have achieved a good ranking, you will retain it.

6. Google will look for mentions of your business in other places besides your website. It will look for links to your website, talk about your website from satisfied customers, mentions in newspapers and other places too.

7. No website should be ‘set and forget’. In many industry verticals Google seems to pay more attention to websites that update frequently.

8. We mere mortals have no guaranteed control over where, when, or what page of our website appears in Google.

9. Google sets the rules and if you try to bend or break those rules Google will punish you and may go so far as to drop your site from its listings.

10. Anyone who claims to have the ‘secret sauce’ to be able to achieve top of first-page listings in Google for your website is telling lies.

Three more facts about Google.

1. Any attempt to improve your rankings will be expensive, it will take a long time and there are no guarantees that the attempt will work. The cost of hiring a reputable search engine optimisation business can be as high as $40,000.

2. A good listing in Google is much harder to achieve for an e-commerce site.

3. Never rely on Google when it comes to the success of your business. Those small businesses that do often fail.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Total Website Management. We are always prepared to help you with basic SEO advice.

By |April 20th, 2018|Search Engines|Comments Off on Ten Facts About Google

What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Business

what do facebook's changes mean for your businessJust last week Facebook announced some sweeping changes to the way that business pages on Facebook would be allowed to interact with their customers and potential customers.

Of course, many people thought that it was the end of the world for small businesses that used Facebook to connect with their customers and, in some respects it is, but it may not be as bad as first thought if you’re prepared to make an effort.

It has always been hard to get your message out

It has always been a lot harder than most people realise for small businesses to get their Facebook posts into the newsfeeds of their customers. I’ve lost count of the number of small business owners who thought that I was talking through my hat when I suggested that, relying on the free version of Facebook marketing to promote their business was a recipe for disaster.

But that’s exactly what it was because the number of followers that Facebook showed a business post to was a very small subset of the number of followers a business had … and now that number has been reduced to almost zero.

Why? Because Facebook is using what they call ‘engagement’ as a measure for what people want to see in their newsfeed … but even scoring well on engagement won’t guarantee that Facebook will show your business posts to anyone.

Now it’s harder!

Facebook said last week:

“Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Read that quote several times because it is full of important information that will have a big impact on you if you are trying to connect with your customers, or potential customers, for free on Facebook.

Basically it says that if you’re not making business posts that people react to and comment on then you’re in a world of trouble because Facebook is going to drop your posts out of most people’s newsfeed.

That quote also makes it clear that if you are making business posts that generate a lot of engagement then you may see a reduction in the amount of exposure your posts get in the newsfeed but it won’t be anywhere near as bad as those who post stuff that doesn’t generate engagement.

What generates engagement on Facebook?

You can stop reading now if you’re one of those who think that long, wordy, written posts engage your customers on Facebook because they don’t. They might have done in the past but they don’t work well anymore.

You might like reading long posts but Facebook knows that most people … including your customers … want entertainment or infotainment and not just a lot of words.

You can also stop reading now if you think that you just can’t do what is required to engage people … that you couldn’t possibly stand in front of a video camera and record video or even try live video. If even just thinking about it makes you want to run away and hide then don’t think about it.

Facebook has been talking about video for more than a year

For over a year now Facebook has been telling us that video is what really connects you with your clients and, if you were hoping that all that would just go away and we could go back to written posts, then I’ve got to tell you that things have only got worse.

Now Facebook says:

“Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers …”

So there you have it. If you want the best chance of using Facebook as a free way to connect with your customers then you better start thinking beyond video and looking at what you can do in the way of live video that would be engaging for your clients.

You never know, you just might enjoy doing it.

All you need is a smart phone and equipment worth a few bucks

But of course nothing is that easy here on the Fraser Coast. You’re Internet connection is probably going to be too slow to do any live video on Facebook if you’re using a PC/laptop and a camera … I know, I’ve tried.

You can get better results with your mobile phone but you will need to be on a good data plan because one engaging live video is not going to be enough. You will need to post live videos on a regular and ongoing basis to keep your clients engaged.

We can help you

If you do decide to try video and live video then good luck, I am sure that you will learn to enjoy it once you have overcome the fright that goes with standing in front of a camera. We will give you all the encouragement and support that we can.

If you decide not to move with the times then the days of free advertising on Facebook will soon be over and you will have to start paying to get your message out and into the newsfeeds of your customers.

And there’s one thing that you should know about using paid advertising. You get a much better return on your investment in paid advertising if the people who see your advertising are already engaged with you and your business … and you now know how to generate engagement.

By |January 23rd, 2018|Facebook|Comments Off on What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Business

Why We Are Ditching Kaspersky

why we are ditching Kaspersky

For years Toni and I have strongly recommended Kaspersky anti-virus software to our clients, our friends and anyone else that asked for our opinion.

We believed in the product so much that we had it installed on every computer in Toni’s office downtown and every computer in our house … and we weren’t disappointed. While people who used other anti-virus software kept on picking up viruses and other nasties our computers stayed clean for years.

Kaspersky was that good. It really was head and shoulders above its competitors and it just kept on getting better. Sure, you had to pay for it … there was no free version … but it was definitely worth the money and you got what you paid for.

But then, about a month ago, the White House announced that all US Government departments had been ordered to drop Kaspersky. No reason was given and it just looked like another dose of sour grapes from a US President who has elevated being petty to an art form.

We weren’t worried by that and we weren’t worried when a major US department store chain took all the Kaspersky products that it sold off the shelves. That was obviously someone sucking up to Trump … but it wasn’t.

The word in some computer and data security circles was that someone from that department store chain had been given a background briefing and they had made the decision to ditch the product because it was becoming too hot to handle.

Was there really a problem with Kaspersky?

We were starting to become a little apprehensive. What was there in the software that was making people turn away from one of the best anti-virus programmes available today?

Kaspersky himself … yes, the company is named after the guy who started it … was denying everything and he even went so far as to offer a bounty to anyone who could show him where the problems lay with his software.

His denials and the fact that, in comparison to Kaspersky, most other anti-virus programmes are rubbish kept us hooked but that all changed on October 10 when the New York Times published an article that has probably destroyed Kaspersky.

What changed our minds

You will find the article here:


It is well worth reading and if you are still using Kaspersky you will probably want to turn it off by the time you have finished reading the article.

It seems that a group simply described as “Russian hackers” had got into the software and added a little something extra to the code.

That “little something extra” was some code that gave the hackers access to every computer that had Kaspersky installed and basically turned those computers into part of a botnet controlled by the hackers.

Once the hackers had access to a computer they could milk it for every piece of information it contained and they could use the computer as part of their botnet to launch attacks on individuals, businesses and governments.

As you might expect, Kaspersky is still denying everything and saying that if there was some malicious code in their software then it must have been put there by outsiders.

However, security experts don’t see this as being an entirely outside job. By its very nature, something like this had to be an inside job. Someone at a high level within the company must have known what was happening.

Needless to say, we have been spending some time this weekend removing Kaspersky from all our computers and replacing it with the best option we can find … Bitdefender. You can find it at: www.bitdefender.com.au

We can’t guarantee that Bitdefender is as good as Kaspersky but it does come highly recommended by people in the industry.

By |October 15th, 2017|Security|Comments Off on Why We Are Ditching Kaspersky

Email Blacklists and You

email blacklists and youOne of our clients has recently had their email address blacklisted for spam even though they were not attempting to spam anyone.

Now I know that some people might find that hard to believe; how can you get your email address blacklisted unless you really are sending out spam emails?

Getting blacklisted is easy

Well I have to tell you that it is easier to get your email blacklisted for spam than you might think. Some very innocent actions can send you to email hell in just a few seconds.

Here are just a few of the ways you can end up on an email blacklist:

A person who receives your email accidentally … or intentionally … marks your email as spam. It only takes one person to do that and when it’s done you’re basically screwed.

You send an email to a client who has a spam filter on their incoming email that looks for trigger words or phrases in the incoming email … in the subject line or in the text. As soon as it finds one of those trigger words or phrases it marks your email as spam and puts you on a blacklist. You’re done like a dinner.

You send out a large number of bulk emails and the sudden surge in the number of outgoing emails leaving your account is enough to trigger an alert that puts you on an email blacklist. You can even do it to yourself.

Yes, it is that simple … especially when you consider that there are at least 438 trigger words and phrases that can blacklist you … and the impact on your business can be dire.

Being on a blacklist can destroy your business

What happens when you’re put on email blacklists?

This is what happens when your email address is blacklisted:

No emails that you send from the blacklisted email address are delivered.

No emails addressed to your business arrive in your inbox.

It’s possible that your website rankings in the search engines are impacted too.

Getting off email blacklists can be hard

Getting onto an email blacklist is easy but getting off all the email blacklists that will list your email address takes time and requires the services of someone who knows what they are doing and how to plead your case with those who control the blacklists.

“Ooops I made a mistake,” is not an excuse that anyone is going to listen to.

For many people finding themselves on email blacklists can mean the end of their business because you are basically cut off from the people who are your clients and the people who provide goods and services for you.

Don’t put off getting help

It is very important to get off those lists as quickly as possible because the longer you stay on those lists the more damage is done to your business.

So as soon as you think that your email address might have been blacklisted get help … call Toni or me now, not later.

Sadly, right at the very time when quick action is important, it seems to take days for most blacklisted businesses to wake up to the fact that they’re not getting any emails.

How to avoid getting blacklisted

Think before you send and:

Don’t send bulk emails through your business email address. Use the services of a business like MailChimp to handle any bulk emails you want to send out.

Look at the subject lines and the text in your emails to make sure that those 438 words are not in your emails.

If someone tells you that they don’t want to receive any more emails from your business then listen to them and stop sending them emails. Remove them from your email lists so that you don’t accidentally send one that could destroy your business.

Staying off email blacklists is not hard to do but getting you off once you’ve got yourself onto those lists is an entirely different matter … and it can be expensive too.

So save money, save your business and turn brain on and think before you send that next email.

Go here for a list of those 438 trigger words and phrases.

By |September 5th, 2017|Email|Comments Off on Email Blacklists and You

Links Are a Ranking Factor for Your Website

inbound links to your website are an important ranking factorThe original purpose of the Internet was to connect people to information and so website links were born.

Those once blue, once underlined, collections of letters, characters and numbers were there from the start and they have never gone away. They might have changed colour, they may not be underlined anymore, but they are still just as important as they ever were … and Google loves them.

For Google, every link is a vote in favour of the site that the link points to and, at one stage, Google placed a huge amount of importance on those links.

The level of that importance has decreased over the years as people found more and more ways of using links to trick Google and make Google think that a website was more important than it really is.

Links are still important

Today, even though Google does not place a huge amount of importance on links, they are still an important ranking factor for your website.

However, not every link carries the same weight. In the past any old link was worth something but today your website needs inbound links from trusted and relevant websites.

And those three words are the most important thing to remember when you’re thinking about links for your website. They must come from trusted and relevant websites.

Links must come from TRUSTED AND RELEVANT websites

If you’re running a plumbing business in Hervey Bay, and you have links coming to your website from the Karachi Times or the Rawalpindi Gazette then you have links but they may not be trusted and certainly aren’t relevant … how many people in Karachi or Rawalpindi need a plumber in Hervey Bay?

Links like that have no positive impact on your website and may have quite the opposite result for Google does see links that aren’t relevant … or trusted … as a negative when it comes to ranking your website.

A link that would have a positive effect on your plumbing website would be a link from an Australian trade organisation or a supplier. A link from Yellow Pages or Local Directories would also be seen as a link from a trusted and relevant website.

Unfortunately obtaining links from trusted and relevant websites is not an easy job. You can pick some up quite easily but others take time and patience and so there are people out there who will offer to obtain those links for you.

Be careful who you employ to build your links

Be very careful if you do decide to hire someone to obtain links for you. Anyone can gather huge numbers of links that have no positive value at all and that’s what many people do. They charge you very attractive rates but deliver nothing but a load of negative-value links.

Genuine link builders take time and charge a lot of money for their services and their results can seem meagre in comparison to those who offer you lots of links for little money. But don’t be fooled because large amounts of irrelevant inbound links can do serious damage to your search engine rankings and getting rid of those crappy links is another costly job that needs an expert.

Avoid outbound links if you run a business

Before I finish this I should talk about outbound links. Google definitely does like to see your website linking out to trusted and relevant websites but every time you link out to some other website you’re encouraging people to leave your website before they have done business with you.

If you’re selling a service or a product then we would encourage you to get as many relevant and trusted inbound links as you can find but don’t link out to anyone. Of course, there are exceptions to that “rule” but, in most cases, outbound links will do nothing positive for your business.

By |August 14th, 2017|Google|Comments Off on Links Are a Ranking Factor for Your Website

The Age of Your Website Is a Ranking Factor

the age of your website is an important ranking factorWe recently published a post here on the website that took a very quick look at some of the ranking factors that we know that Google uses to assess your website. One of those factors that we mentioned was the age of your website.

So why is the age of your website a ranking factor? Well, before I jump into that, I need to remind you of something else I said in that post.

We know that the age of your website is a ranking factor but we really don’t know how much importance Google places on that factor. All we can really tell you is it is a ranking factor that Google uses … but why?

Why does Google think that an older website is of any greater value than a website that has just appeared?

Google wants to trust your website

Well, perhaps it’s got a lot to do with trust because there was a time when it was quite possible to get a brand-new website to rank well on the first page of the search results for almost any important search term.

Of course, those new sites were fairly thin on content and what content there was on those sites was often scraped … copied … or re-purposed from other sites. That was not such a problem for Google until ensuring that they were giving their users the best possible results became an issue.

If you want to keep people coming back for more then you want to give them a very good reason for coming back and, for Google, that meant giving their users the sites that delivered the best possible information.

In most instances that meant that Google needed to send searchers to the original source of that information and wouldn’t have taken Google long to work out that the original source was probably the website that had been online the longest.

You need to be patient

So, the age of a website became a ranking factor and the newer the site the less chance it had of ranking for any search term until it had been around long enough for Google to begin to trust it.

In fact, we have now reached the point now where Google suggests that it takes them around 12 months to list a new website.

That doesn’t mean that every new website is going to have to live in some other dimension until it matures. Some websites will pop up in the search results much sooner but if you new website deals with an industry or a niche where you already have lots of competition then the chances of you outranking those older websites is a lot less.

It seems that Google thinks that a good website is like a fine wine … it needs to mature a little.

By |August 14th, 2017|Google|Comments Off on The Age of Your Website Is a Ranking Factor

Four Things You Need to Know About Google

There is a lot of confusion about Google among new website owners.

Many believe that Google offers them a guarantee of success for their business and that their website will instantly hit the top of the rankings and that all they must do is sit back and let the money roll in.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth and, to help you better understand how Google works, here are four things that you need to know about Google.

They may not fit with your view of Google but after 20 years of working with search engines this is the truth.

Why can’t I find my website in Google?
This is a question that we are asked by almost every new client within a day or two of their website being completed. People seem to have an expectation that they will instantly be able to find their website in Google and nothing could be further from reality.

Google offers no promises and it makes no guarantees that it will ever list your website.

In fact, Google says quite clearly that it can take up to 12 months before it will list a new website … and even then, there is no guarantee that it will list a website for the keywords and keyword phrases that are important for your business.

While experienced web designers will do everything they possibly can to get the fundamentals of search engine optimisation right for your website there are simply no guarantees.

Google is not your friend

Why isn’t my website on the first page of Google?
This is another question that we are constantly asked by clients who do not understand how Google works.

Google compares every website to a very complex list of over 250 different factors that it considers to be important in ranking those sites. The sites that Google ranks above your website in the search results for terms that are important to you are the sites that do better than your website in those comparisons.

Google does not tell us what those ranking factors are or how important each of those factors are. However, we do know that Google can, and does, change the importance of some of those ranking factors from time to time.

We also have a fairly good idea of what some of those ranking factors are and some are listed here … in no particular order:

The age of your website. (You can read more about age as a ranking factor here)

How many links from other, relevant and trusted websites point to your website? (You can read more about links here)

Is the focus of your website relevant to the search term someone is looking for?

Is it easy to find important information on your website?

Is your site useful or is it just trying to sell something?

Does your website load quickly? (Currently Google wants it to load in under 3 seconds.)

Is your website user-friendly for people who are looking at it on a mobile phone or tablet?

When was the last time anything new was added to your website?

Those are just some of the things that Google looks at when it visits your website.

You also need to remember that the search results display many other websites and every one of them wants to achieve good results too so you are competing with a lot of people for the few listings that appear on the first page of any search results that Google displays.

It’s Google’s game and Google sets the rules

If my website gets to the front page of Google will it stay there?
No, there is never any guarantee that your website will stay at the top of the search results.

Google is continually tweaking those ranking factors and in the last 12 months it has made over a thousand changes. Some of those changes are minor while others have had a major impact on the way sites are ranked.

Google rarely tells us when changes are coming and doesn’t always tell us about the changes after they have been made. That means that you can be on top of the rankings one day and not on the first four pages by the next morning.

Can I pay someone to get me better rankings for my website?
Yes, you can. There are plenty of reputable search engine optimisation specialists out there who can work to improve your rankings but this type of work is slow and expensive.

There are also a lot of less reputable people out there who will offer you the same services but for a lot less and much reduced time frame. Unfortunately, they will deliver a quite different result.

In general people who offer you cheap and fast results cut corners and try to cheat their way to the top. When Google sees the work that these guys are doing on your website your site will disappear from Google’s listing in a heartbeat.

Google accepts that website owners want to achieve the best rankings and are prepared to pay for specialists to achieve those rankings for them. What Google doesn’t want to see is work done that has obviously been done to fool Google into giving you a good ranking.

When Google thinks that you have been trying to cheat your way to the top it will penalise or ban your website and recovering from either of those can be a long and expensive process.

Always remember that:

Google offers no guarantees

Google sets the rules

There are no shortcuts

Google will penalise or ban your website if it thinks you have been trying to game the system to achieve a good ranking.

So, if you are building your business on the business that you think that Google will send your way then perhaps you need to have patience or a Plan B

By |August 14th, 2017|Google|Comments Off on Four Things You Need to Know About Google