How to Make Your Website Successful
By Lauren Dingus
Whenever I talk to someone about his or her business website, the conversation inevitably goes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Business owners receive countless emails from individuals claiming they cannot find their websites. What follows is usually a list of services, including a guarantee for first page Google rankings. This sets up an unrealistic expectation of how internet search and SEO works.
Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry solution to getting on the first page of Google, let alone achieving the coveted number one spot. Google determines what websites to serve first in a search based on algorithms that take into account a number of factors, including relevance, domain authority, and content quality. In order to make your website successful, you need to create and maintain a presence that your customers find valuable.
Quality Content above All Else
Do not phone it in when it comes to your website. Treating it as an afterthought or looking for the cheapest option available is going to cost you customers. Having a minimal web presence with your name and contact information, and a few keywords sprinkled into a brief list of services is not going to encourage anyone to do business with you. In order for Google to consider your website relevant, and in turn your customers, your website needs to serve as a source of information.
• Write Informative Articles
Customers nowadays are well informed and they are going to do their research before they invest in any product or service. Instead of coming to your business, or calling you, customers are putting their questions into their web browser. You know your customers best. Think of the most common questions your customers ask, or the services they are primarily looking for. Use those questions as topics for articles, or post step-by-step tutorials on how to use your different products or services. According to HubSpot, businesses that update their blog with new content 16 or more times per month get almost 3.5x more traffic than those who post 0–4 times per month. Build up a database of valuable information, and you will see an increase in quality traffic on your website.
• Outline the Benefits
Customers want to know one thing: what is in it for them. If your customers are not able to see themselves using your products or services on the first page, they are not going to click through the rest of your website. Too often business owners want to talk about their company history, experience, or awards they have won. Save that information for an interior page, and let your customers find it when they are ready. Engage your customers by marketing how your product or service can enhance their lives, as well as what they can expect when they choose to do business with you.
Optimize for Local Search
Your business would need to have significant brand awareness (think Target or Best Buy) to rank above every website on the internet for general search terms. Search engines take into account your physical location when they serve you search results, so it is common for a search phrase to include “near me.” Google has stated that 28% of searches for something nearby have resulted in a purchase. Make sure your city is in the page title, you have a local number prominently displayed, and that your address is in the footer of every page so Google knows where your business is located. Claiming and filling out your Google My Business listing will help as well.
Encourage Customers to Review You Online
Online reviews are the modern day word of mouth. Your customers will be reading those reviews, and using other people’s experiences, and your responses, to decide if they are going to do business with you. The only problem is people are more apt to leave a review if they had a negative experience with your business than if they had a positive one. If someone compliments your service, ask that person to consider posting his or her review on Google or Facebook. Just stay away from offering rewards for reviews. You want the feedback to be authentic.
Make Your Website Responsive
Mobile search has outpaced desktop search, so having a mobile-friendly website is necessary. Google also gives priority to mobile-friendly websites in mobile search. With the variety of devices, and subsequent screen sizes that are available, having a responsive website will ensure that your website adjusts to any screen without the need of a separate mobile website. This gives customers the best viewing experience, and prevents them from getting frustrated and leaving your website.
The important thing to keep in mind is that SEO is all about the long game. If you set out with the goal of ranking well, you are selling yourself and your customers short. Your website requires regular attention in order to be successful. Focus on creating a website that offers value to your customers, and you will set yourself up for success.
Lauren Dingus is the web and graphics designer at Speros, responsible for the website development division, including graphic design and branding, content writing, and consulting on digital marketing strategies. For information, contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912.354.8900
Please Meet Courtney Zechman
Lead medical esthetician at Low Country Dermatology
How long have you been in the profession?
I graduated from the Aveda Institute of Covington, La., in 2011, and have been in the esthetics business for about six years.
What motivated you to get into this business?
I’ve always had a love for beauty, especially making women feel beautiful through makeup. When I started school, my goal was to become a makeup artist and eventually work in television and movies. I quickly discovered that I loved teaching women how to improve their skin through integrated skin care. Treatments I provide include facials, waxing, chemical peels, dermaplaning, Laser treatments and microneedling.
What are you most passionate about?
Educating not only my clients but my friends and family on proper sunscreen protection. A lot of women think the spf in their makeup and moisturizer is enough to stop the damaging effects of sun exposure, and a lot of men think they don’t need spf because they aren’t sun bathing.
What has surprised you most about working with Low Country Dermatology?
Realizing the difference in over-the-counter beauty products versus in-office cosmeceuticals. For the same price as some of the department store skin-care products, you can achieve noticeable results with products found in an esthetics or dermatology office.
What’s the best thing to happen since you started working with Low Country Dermatology?
I can’t explain how proud I get when my clients tell me they are getting compliments on their skin all the time after having treatments with me. My schedule continues to grow each month. Knowing that my clients are talking with their friends and peers about their experience with me continues to surprise and make me feel so proud of myself.
What do you think will change about dermatology over the next five years?
Cosmetic treatments will outweigh dermatology treatments in the future. Thanks to social media and technology as a whole, people are more aware and cautious of the sun and getting too much exposure. Instead of skin cancer treatment and prevention patients may be more inclined to treat aging and other cosmetic issues.
What are three things that might surprise someone about you?
1. I attended 13 different schools and have lived in nine different states.
2. I live an hour away in a small town called Ludowici, and my two older sisters live within walking distance of me.
3. I am a single mom of one handsome six-year-old boy named Oliver Bryan who is the 10th of 20 grandchildren.
What do you do when you aren’t at the office?
You can usually find me at one of my sisters’ houses. We are always together on the weekends for birthdays, ball games, parties or some other family gathering.
Where are you from?
I was born in Tacoma, Wash., and raised in northern Kentucky, but I call Georgia home.
Who has been your professional mentor?
When I was getting into the world of beauty professionally, a woman I was so inspired by was Kandee Johnson who was a professional makeup artist, single mom and YouTube blogger. She was so positive and uplifting during one of the hardest times in my life.
Dr. Howington is another of my professional mentors. If I feel lost or stumped with my clients, she is always there to guide me in the right direction.
Who is your hero?
My heroes are my sisters. They have helped me through some of the hardest times in my life, they consistently help with my son and they never ask anything in return.
What motivates you to work hard?
When I first started at Low Country Dermatology, I did not have a lot of confidence. I was used to working in spas making people fall asleep during relaxing facials, not treating acne and aging with chemicals. My clients are the ones who made me feel like I was doing something right every time they would reschedule month after month. I have learned to believe in myself and I am continuously pushing myself to learn more and achieve more in my career.
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
My family. I don’t know what I would do without them.
7 PR Strategies Businesses can Implement Themselves
by Cecilia Russo Turner
If you are a small business, you know the importance of building and maintaining a good relationship with the public. However, as a small business owner, it may not be fiscally possible for you to hire a firm to handle your public relations needs. Still, if you are willing to put in the effort and time, creating and managing your own PR program may not be out of reach.
1. Share your story
Storytelling can help identify your brand and create trust among consumers and your peers. You can tell the fascinating story of how your brand came to be and let your customers share the stories of their experiences with your business. Be sure to divulge the history of your brand: why your business exists, its values, how the brand evolved and the full picture of your business. Transparency can be key in earning the trust of your target audience.
2. Smart networking
In Savannah, there are plenty of networking opportunities each week. Don’t get burned out by trying to attend every single one and meet every single person. Create a plan for whom you’d like to meet and then figure out what events these individuals would most likely attend. Introduce yourself. Let them know why you think you may be a good business partner or referral contact. But be sure not to be too self-promotional in your comments. Remember: Do-it-yourself PR is all about being authentic and trustworthy.
3. Be prepared before you begin
Only start a PR campaign if your product or service is truly ready. One negative review early on can be detrimental to a start-up or small business. Not sure if you know what “ready” is? Get a small group of your trusted friends or colleagues together to test drive your services. This survey sample can provide insights into your business, website, operations and customer service to provide you with feedback that could help you make last-minute changes to your final product or service if needed.
4. Send your news to the right people
Create a media list and develop a short write-up about your good news. Be personal with any media outreach. Figure out whether the reporter or editor prefers using email, telephone or social media for communications. Keep your message short and to the point, and if via email, make sure your subject line is attention-grabbing and won’t be mistaken for spam. Furthermore, your message will be taken more seriously if it is objective. You might think your product or service is the best, but not everyone will agree. Stick to the facts and keep adjectives out of your content.
5. Create impactful content
Just because something is of interest to you doesn’t mean your target audience thinks the same. Check to ensure your content is newsworthy and engaging. Events, significant business changes or accomplishments are noteworthy items to include in a press release. If you have an exciting event coming up, it’s helpful to send a media advisory to local outlets as an invitation to cover the affair. News columns and videos are other useful media to share opinions, educational pieces or business news. No matter the platform, ensure your content is relevant and interesting.
6. Educational marketing
Share trending developments in your field. You need to be the industry expert. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter Mentions to be notified of certain keywords. Follow the top industry influencers on social media, and find out what your competitors are doing. Don’t just keep this information to yourself, though. Share your knowledge through videos, blog posts and speeches. Booklets and e-booklets are another easy way to educate your audience. Don’t forget to disperse the content on your social media platforms as well. This is a great way to build trust and credibility with key elements of the public.
7. Worthy cause marketing
Get involved in your community. Choose a local charity that you’re passionate about and set aside a portion of your resources and time for it. Donating your expertise or money to a charity can help the philanthropy spread their own message and will give you an opportunity to grow as an active member of their organization. Additionally, people want to support companies that align with their values and actively participate in their communities.
As you grow, there will be a point at which you could benefit from hiring a PR firm, but take that step when you are ready. If you follow these seven strategies, maintaining your day-to-day PR plan will be a realistic and viable option for you and your small business.
Cecilia Russo Turner is the owner and president of Cecilia Russo Marketing, specializing in reputation management strategies used to create and control businesses’ word-of-mouth in the community and online. For more information visit crussomarketing.com or email email@example.com
Oglethorpe Driving Club Presents a Donation of Over 6.5K to Bethesda Academy
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Oglethorpe Driving Club (ODC) presented a $6,543.96 donation to Bethesda Academy. Collected during the ODC’s monthly “Coffee and Cars” meeting, this donation will be used to provide Bethesda Academy students with tuition scholarship money.
Though typically “Coffee and Cars” is held at the Habersham Shopping Center, it was relocated this month to be held on the campus of the organization it was supporting.
“We greatly appreciate all that the Oglethorpe Driving Club has done,” said Mike Hughes, president of Bethesda Academy. “It is such a blessing to be able to provide students with scholarships to our school and it was a pleasure to see our lawn filled with beautiful cars.”
During the event, car enthusiasts displayed their classic, vintage and exotic cars.
“We have great enthusiasm for our cars, but we also have a passion for giving back to the community,” said Michael Shortt of the ODC. “Bethesda is an important place to our organization, being that one of our members was adopted from here.”
The ODC is a fraternity of 50 sports car owners and those dedicated to the entertainment of auto racing and sports cars. The ODC was established in 2006 in order to honor the 100th anniversary of the first United States Grand Prix, which was held in Savannah on November 26, 1908. Generally, there are over 150 cars at ODC meetings.
As well as hosting the monthly “Coffee and Cars” meetings, the ODC commemorates its predecessor, the Savannah Automobile Club of 1904, by sponsoring rallies, racing competitions, advanced driving courses, Concours d’Elegance and other social events. Additionally, the organization actively works to improve the sport of motor racing in Savannah and to preserve Savannah’s illustrious auto racing heritage.
For more information on Bethesda Academy, visit www.bethesdaacademy.org or call 912.644.4376. For more information about the Oglethorpe Driving Club visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/186856591591/
ABOUT BETHESDA ACADEMY:
Founded in 1740, Bethesda Academy is the oldest child-care institution in the United States. Now it is a private boarding and day school for young men in grades six through twelve and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 650-acre campus features a variety of athletic teams, a wildlife management and organic farming program and STEM curriculum. Through its “Lead The Way” initiative, students have access to exclusive integrated learning and leadership opportunities. For more information, visit www.bethesdaacademy.org or call 912.644.4376.
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Holds Ninth Annual Camp Buddy in Effingham and Chatham Counties
The camp curriculum was designed by occupational, physical, special education and speech therapists with the goal of helping the children retain the educational milestones they achieved over the course of the past school year.
“We strive to help the children in our program bridge the gap created over summer,” said Savannah Camp Buddy Director Pam Hussey. “They will be better equipped to begin the new school year with the skills they gained in the previous year fresh on their minds.”
The Effingham Camp Buddy was held over one week at the Rincon Elementary School, located at 501 Richland Avenue in Rincon, GA. Chatham Camp Buddy was held over a two-week period at Marshpoint Elementary School, located at 135 Whitemarsh Island Drive in Savannah, GA.
Camp Buddy is sponsored by the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society and is made possible through the generosity of the community, friends and family of LDSS and events such as the Buddy Walk and Night of Champions.
ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) is a family support group to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, outreach, education and advocacy to champion and celebrate acceptance and inclusion. Meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact with one another. LDSS encourages people to bring their children. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit https://www.ldssga.org/
The Dewitt Tilton Group Donates New BBQ Pit Roof to Savannah Jaycees
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Dewitt Tilton Group, a commercial construction firm in Savannah, donated their services to the Savannah Jaycees to rebuild a BBQ pit roof that fell during stormy weather. Guerry Lumber, a Lumber Company that has served Savannah since 1927, and ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing in the United States, have also donated materials to the project.
The Jaycees include young business professionals dedicated to leadership growth through community involvement. As the only Jaycees chapter in the state with their own office, the Savannah Jaycees use their building for meetings, events and leadership speakers.
The BBQ pit roof often serves as an outdoor shelter for the group’s community activities, such as the Surging Forward Picnic, which was held for first responders and firefighters during Hurricane Matthew cleanup.
Since it was damaged by the hurricane and the storms this spring, the Jaycees have been unable to reassemble and secure the roof. So The Dewitt Tilton group reached out to them and offered to rebuild and install a new roof.
“I have seen the culture of altruistic service and progressive thinking the Savannah Jaycees promotes in our community,” said Dewitt Tilton partner Chris Tilton. “They give so much to Savannah, so when the opportunity presented itself to give back to their group, we jumped on it.”
Jaycees president Cynthia Wright said the roof could not have been reinstalled without help.
“We are so thankful that the Dewitt Tilton Group saw our need and chose to show their support for our organization with a project that will serve us both now and in the future,” Wright said.
For more information about the Savannah Jaycees, visit http://savannahjaycees.com/. For more information or to contact the Dewitt Tilton Group, please call 912.777.3404 or visit www.dewitttiltongroup.com
MORE ABOUT THE DEWITT TILTON GROUP:
The Dewitt Tilton Group, a premier construction firm located in Savannah, Ga., specializes in commercial construction. The principals, Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton, have over 50 years of combined experience in the local construction industry. The firm manages every aspect of a commercial project from pre-construction to the final walk through. Known for using only highly reputable contractors, the Dewitt Tilton Group brings to the table design, engineering and construction capabilities which guarantee a smooth construction process for each client. The firm is located at 2807-A Roger Lacey Avenue, Savannah, GA 31404. For more information or to contact the Dewitt Tilton Group, please call 912.777.3404 or visit www.dewitttiltongroup.com
MORE ABOUT THE SAVANNAH JAYCEES
Celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, the Savannah Jaycees is a nonprofit organization of young professionals whose mission is to inspire leadership development through community involvement. Among the Savannah Jaycees’ projects were the installation of voting booths throughout Chatham County, helping to build the Kicklighter School and Chatham Nursing Home, founding Toys-for-Tots with the Marines and the fire department, renovating the Forsyth Fountain and creating Jaycees Park on Tybee Island.
(SOUTHEAST GA) Leadership Southeast Georgia, a leadership development program for professionals in a 10-county region, is calling for nominations for its 2018 course. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Aug. 4.
The program fosters relationships among leaders in the region and teaches conflict resolution, self-awareness and critical thinking to improve business and communication skills.
Applicants may be self-nominated or nominated by Leadership Southeast Georgia alumni or community leaders. Residents of Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven counties are eligible. Nominations may be made on the Leadership Southeast Georgia website, http://www.lsega.com.
The selection process is competitive and ensures a diverse mix of members from each county, culture, race and gender. The selection committee is comprised of Leadership Southeast Georgia alumni.
Numerous factors are take into consideration for each candidate, including:
Must live or work in the county from which he or she applies; must be willing to serve the community; must be open to growing as a professional; must be eager to learn new skills; must work well and participate in group activities and must be professional, motivated and prompt.
The program is held over five weekends during a five-month period beginning in February and ending in June. Each session takes place in a different county. Since 2000, the program has produced fourteen graduating classes with 267 graduates.
For more information, visit http://www.lsega.com/home.html.
ABOUT LEADERSHIP SOUTHEAST GEORGIA
Beginning in January 1999, leaders representing the business, local government and education communities in 10 southeast Georgia counties set about the task of creating a regional strategic plan for community and economic development.
A regional leadership program that brought together citizens from each of the counties was envisioned as a means of reinforcing the regional capacity to address challenges and capitalize on common opportunities. The region includes Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven counties along with their 35 municipalities.
Program content focuses on the assets of the area, as well as potential threats to those assets.
Leadership Southeast Georgia