BusinessMarketingProductivitySEOShoppingSocial MediaWeb Development

build your own ecommerce website, be your own boss

I’m going to spoil this whole blog by telling you the three reasons you should build your own eCommerce website in this very first sentence: eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. That’s it, there you have it, that’s why you should build your own eCommerce website.

I know what you’re thinking: “Deborah, you’ve gone completely bananas. I couldn’t possibly independently compete with those three!”

Brick laughing with a banana
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a little bit off my rocker.

Well I hate to break it to you folks, but I went completely bananas years ago. You should know that by now. But that’s completely aside from the point and unrelated to anything I’m saying here. Just let me continue, and stop mentally interrupting me, OK? Thanks.

Even when you list your products on those sites, you are still competing with all of them. But let’s take a closer look.

Amazon

Xena, Warrior Princess
Darn it you guys, STILL not that Amazon.

Of these big three sellers, Amazon.com was founded in 1994. Who even remembers having the internet in 1994? My family had an Apple computer back then, but eventually switched to a PC. I think we got dial-up in 1995:

beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep ccccccccchhhhhhh doooooo-dee-doo000-beepbeep-boop-beep-dooop cccccccchhhhhhhhhh

dial-up internet
You know what I’m talkin’ about.

. . . and then that sweet sound of connection. It wasn’t long before I discovered Amazon.com. It used to be all books, all the time, and soon after, I could also get CDs and DVDs, and better yet, I could soon buy them used from other sellers! I’ll admit, I have Amazon Prime membership in both the USA and Canada. As a buyer, Amazon is pretty great.

But what about as a seller?

Amazon is complicated. Their fees are high. You’ve got a huge amount of competition, including people who buy and bulk, which isn’t great if you’re a smaller business. Not only that, but you are also in direct competition with Amazon itself.

Take for example the issue of AmazonEssentials products. Despite claims to the contrary, Amazon employees have used what is supposed to be private information about independent sellers on the company’s platform to develop competing products, going directly against their own company’s policy.

Speaking of competing products, several major brands have refused to sell on Amazon because they don’t police the grey market well enough. One brand even preferred to sell exclusively on Walmart instead. Not to dis Walmart or anything (loyal shopper here), but I kinda think that says something.

people at walmart crashing balls
Am I a Person of Walmart? That’s for me to know and you to find out.

eBay

cat selling a cat in a box
I’ve tried this with my children, but apparently it’s “against the rules”.

Ah yes, the wild west of online sales. Or so it seemed to be back in those first few years. eBay was founded only a year after Amazon, in 1995. It started simple enough. The first sale was a broken laser pointer to a fellow who collected broken laser pointers, who would’ve thought? Initially, listing an item was free, but the founder’s internet services bill got too high, so he had to start charging a listing free, which people found pretty reasonable.

(As an aside, my first year of high school, my school’s principal, Tom Sawyer (yes, that legit was his name, no relation to the real fictional Tom Sawyer, though), was an expert at calling auctions. You know, that really fast-talking thing. Everybody in town would get him to do live auctions. Pretty amazing. eBay should have hired him for . . . something.)

Thousands of people have found success on eBay, but more and more, people have become increasingly frustrated. In the words of one former seller, “eBay sacrifices its sellers to its buyers”. I know that “the customer is always right” is a good general policy, but eBay appears to take this a bit too far. According to this same seller, “eBay ‘insures’ purchases by resolving all disputes in favor of the buyer, and then forcing the seller to cover the costs. Paypal helps them by seizing the seller’s funds.”

So eBay runs on a guilty-until-proven-innocent-system where the seller can almost never prove themselves innocent. It also leaves the seller open to buyer fraud.

guilty!
Even if you’re innocent, you’re still guilty.

eBay can limit your sales very arbitrarily, despite your good record (and bringing in lots of income to eBay itself). An ill-intentioned person can give a seller a bad review, a postal strike causing a delay in shipment, or any other little fluke can lead them to limit how much a seller is allowed to sell. One seller whose whole business. You are subject to eBay’s whims. You may feel like your own boss, but you are at the mercy of buyers and eBay’s poor customer service.

Etsy

Etsy, the newest to the market. Launched in 2005 on the east coast, it’s the indie girl’s heaven for vintage, handmade, and craft supplies. Yes, I’ve purchased all of the above on there. Etsy has been great for sellers of these things, but in recent years, Etsy’s policies have changed for the negative.

where do you even find a a gold coke straw? etsy.
Seems legit. In a not really legit sorta way.

Etsy is no longer friendly to small business, you are literally competing with huge shops in China. It’s sad really — you see someone has designed something creative and lovely, and within a few months, other people are copying that design and it’s all being shipped from China. Sure, maybe it was handmade, but do you really think the worker got fair pay for the work they did?

Not only that, but because of Etsy opening up their policy to this type of business, small business owners have faced lower sales volumes and increased competition due to the sheer volume of shop owners on the site, and it’s not exactly easy to differentiate your own shop from all the rest. You get a name and you get a logo. That’s about it. It’s very difficult to truly build your own brand.

On top of this, Etsy has their own weird SEO algorithms that work completely differently from most ordinary search engines, and at the same time, Etsy items don’t rank well in Google searches. And then there are the fees. They can arbitrarily hike the fees whenever they please, cutting into the profit margin of small businesses as well.

At the end of the day, is it really worth all this trouble?

Who are you really working for?

All three of these platforms make it somewhat easy to list your products in an online shop, but is it really worth it? How does it really benefit you as a business? Perhaps early on it might have been easy for people to search and find your products, but now they’re so over-saturated that it’s difficult for people to find you. You can’t truly build your own brand.

At the end of the day, with having to follow someone else’s ever-changing policies, very little control over how operations are run, and the inability to truly build your own brand while paying someone else fees, it sure sounds a lot like you’re doing a lot of work for someone else. You may have more flexibility than a typical job, but you’ve still got someone bossing you around.

But what else can a small business do?

Gosh, I’m sure glad you asked! The truth is, building your own eCommerce website isn’t that complicated. There are lots of options out there, though our two favourites are WooCommerce and Shopify. The great thing about your own site is you are in charge. You decide what your website will look like, your branding, everything. Nobody will tell you what kind of payments you will take, you get to decide that. You get to decide what shipping options you will offer, and where you will ship.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m pretty stubborn and don’t like being told what to do. I’m also a bit of a control freak, so being able to control every aspect of my business (or delegate to people whom I trust) is right up my alley. Both of these platforms offer countless tools to make it easy to do.

Zoolander like a boss
You can be really really really really really ridiculously good looking AND be your own boss at the SAME TIME.

How will people find me if I’m not on one of these big sites?

Google.

OK, that’s the easy answer, but not the only one. Look at it this way: you’re not just selling stuff, you’re building a brand. Do you have a Facebook page? Instagram? Most of these eCommerce platforms have integrations with both Facebook and Instagram (WooCommerce: Facebook, Instagram; Shopify: online sales channels).

Honestly, lots of the new stuff I discover is through social media, so build a following! Write blogs about your products, get other people to share your products and how great they are! Get in people’s heads. Build your brand. If you need any advice on SEO, social media, or digital marketing, talk with us. We are more than happy to help!

Back to Google though — this year they announced a new feature they are making available on their shopping search results. Currently their Google Shopping search results are all sponsored products, but this spring, in the US, they opened it up so that people could list their products for free (there would still be sponsored listings, a bit like regular search results).

This isn’t available in Canada yet, but one article suggests it will be quite soon for Canada, and another says that it will be global before the end of the year. I find this pretty exciting, as it’s another SEO opportunity for our eCommerce clients. It appears that already there are integrations for WooCommerce and Shopify.

OK, but what about the cost?

I’ll admit, there’s a bigger up-front cost with building a site yourself.

I take that back. Shopify isn’t all that bad, although they have monthly fees, because it is hosted, although the monthly fees might add up, but it comes with everything all-in-one full-meal-deal if that’s what you like. You can pay to have someone set it all up for you, have it match your branding and whatnot, or you can set it up yourself and you’ll probably get by either way. It’s a great option for someone who wants a store. Some pretty big brands use Shopify, including Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Penguin Books.

WooCommerce is my favourite though. It’s a great option if you want a full website, more than just a shop. From what I understand the API is easier to work with, so if you like doing your own coding . . . stuff (sorry, I stick to html and css, disturbingly so), it’s a better option. I like that you can use their official plugins or third party plugins  to make it do whatever you darned-well please. Many-a-time a client has asked “but can you make it do this?” and I’ve said “of course we can!” then gone to one of our developers and said “so . . . they asked me if we can make it do this” to be told “weird but . . . I guess so?”

Why say no when it feels so good to say yes?
Right?!

As for cost, WooCommerce itself is free, though if you purchase it with a theme, it sometimes comes with other paid upgrades. There are paid and free plugins you can get for WooCommerce. Your main cost will be building the website, and then the monthly or annual fee of hosting it varies from provider to provider.

I may or may not be the Yes Girl, much to the chagrin of our CEO. (Sorry Kelly.)

Let’s do it!

So now that I’ve given you all the reasons why you really ought to have your own website instead of working for someone else, why don’t you give us a call, send us an email, or contact us through social media and let us help you get your business online! We can offer advice on what platform is best for you, or we can do all the work for you. Whatever level of service you need, we’re here for you.

Doctor Who: Just do it!
Don’t take my word for it. The good Doctor says you should too.
BusinessMarketingPandemicSEOShoppingTechnologyWeb Development

man in pigeon costume attacking man

The dilemma

So government has forced you to close up shop.

And the landlord is still expecting you to pay rent.

And you’ve got bills to pay.

You’ve got products that are going to go out of fashion.

You’ve got people who rely on you for employment.

You’ve got your own family to support!

So what’s a business owner to do in a situation like this?

For obvious reasons, you can’t just open up your shop and run business as usual. A fine from the government is the last thing you need right now! But surely there must be an alternative?

If you're the kind of guy who can help me pay my bills, I can help you in other ways
Yes. We can help you in other ways. You can help us in other ways. We can help each other in all sorts of ways.

 

Well, yes, in fact there is (I’m sure you saw this answer coming a mile away).

eCommerce!

But wait, there are some things you need to consider first . . .

The elephant in the room

And of course, I have to mention the elephant in the room.
Oh, it’s way bigger than an elephant.

 

Yes, that one. Amazon. Let’s face it, as soon as you enter the online marketplace, you are competing with Amazon. That’s not an easy feat. You’ve also got Etsy, Ebay, and countless other well-established sites out there to compete with. You need to ask yourself these questions:

What makes you stand out from the rest? What makes you different? How are you unique? What do you have to offer that they don’t?

Do you sell something unique to the region? Do you sell something that everybody wants, but can’t get from the mainstream big box stores? Do you offer delivery services in your region? How about next-day pick-up so a customer can save money on shipping? These days it takes several weeks for even Amazon Prime members to receive items in the mail. For an online shopper, being able to get their hands on an item quickly is like gold!

But . . . how?

There are lots of ways to open your own online shop. The first thing you need is a website. If you don’t have a website, you need to get one 10 years ago! You can’t possibly tell me that you’re too good for a website and don’t need one. No lie: any time I’m looking for a new place to shop where I haven’t been, I try looking up their website to see if they’re worth my time. And honestly, if the look kinda ghetto, I’m less likely to go. So get yourself a good-lookin’ website.

But why else do you need a website? I mean, everybody knows about you and people find you through word of mouth, right? Well, what about when your friend Janice’s aunt Sally’s best friend Betty’s sister Noreen hears about the shop from aunt Sally, but aunt Sally can only partially remember the name, and Noreen has an even worse memory than aunt Sally, so she only remembers that your shop’s name had something to do with pigeons or birds or something and the name of the town it’s in.

Man feeding pigeons, man-sized pigeon attacks man
Birds aren’t even real.

But if you have a website, Noreen can type those words in, and if your website has good SEO, that will be enough for search engines to help Noreen find your website, and find your shop!

I mean, but how about that online shop idea?

Oh, yes, that. So let’s assume the website thing isn’t an issue. Now you need to figure out how to sell your items online. There are a number of ways to do that, either through third-party websites where your products will be lumped in with a bunch of other products for sale from other businesses, or on your own website.

Amazon

Xena, Warrior Princess
Ummm, not that Amazon.

Yes, you can actually sell your own products on Amazon. But do you really want to compete with Amazon on their own website? Probably not. If you’re selling a product that Amazon already sells, you must list it on the same page, you can’t duplicate a product, but you can’t incentivize your product with two-day shipping. That’s something you have to earn. And speaking of shipping, Amazon decides how much your shipping rates are going to cost. If you’re interested in trying that outlet, article on Amazon.ca has some basic info on what you need to know to sell on Amazon.

Ebay

Ebay is an interesting place, but you have to do your research if you want to sell there. Taking a look at top-selling items can be helpful in telling you what people are looking for on ebay. If your product doesn’t really fall into those categories, then it might not be the right place for you. If you sell antiques and collectibles, it’s almost definitely the place for you. If you want to learn more about ebay, here is where you can check out their selling basics page.

While you’re on their site, it’s kind of fun to look at their prohibited items page. Among may other things, if you’re trying to sell any of these things, I suggest you avoid ebay:

  • Stolen property
  • Products that pose a health or safety hazard (that seems really open-ended to me)
  • Escort services
  • Personal advice
  • Pacemakers, heart valves, vascular grafts, ventricular bypass devices, and implantable infusion pumps
  • Expired coupons
  • Social security numbers
  • Human remains (except human scalp hair)
  • Used urns
  • Expired food
  • Narcotics
  • Used underwear
  • Speleothems, stalactites, and stalagmites obtained from caves on government land
Urn with text
You can’t sell this on ebay.

So, if your store sells any of these things, I’d steer clear of Ebay.

Etsy

Is most of your product handmade/original product? You could choose to open your own Etsy store. If you sell something particularly unique, this is not a bad option, or if you sell craft supplies or vintage items. You will find yourself competing with a lot of suppliers from China, though, which is always a challenge. Warning: like ebay, you also cannot sell human remains on Etsy. Also off the table: metaphysical services, violence, and illegal items. If you want to read more about Etsy’s store policy, you can view it on the Etsy website.

Portlandia
If you sell locally made artistic stuff, Etsy just might be the place for you. Put a bird on it!

Now, as much as I like shopping on these sites, if you’re a mature business with a storefront trying to move into the online world, a better option would be to create your own store rather than putting all your products into someone else’s store, and this is where Panda Rose would really like to help you out.

Shopify

A very popular hosted E-Commerce platform for selling products is Shopify. You pay a monthly subscription fee and can add any number of upgrades for additional features. They’ve got a nice clean-looking catalog and it’s relatively user-friendly. And yes, you can get your own web address, so if you want your site to be www.myawesomepigeonstore.ca, it can be that. Shopify can adjusted to have the look and feel that you like to match your company’s branding, and it can integrate well with Canada Post, manage your inventory, connect with your accounting system, and anything else you could possibly want.

If that’s not enough, there are some big names out there who trust Shopify — Adele, Lady Gaga, World Wildlife Foundation, Hasbro, The Economist, Heinz, and BBC. As you might imagine, while it’s primarily a shop, it’s somewhat versatile in how you can use it.

men dressed as ketchup
If it’s good enough for Heinz, it’s good enough for you. (Wait, is this a depiction of ketchup cannibalism? Yikes.)

As a drawback, it tends to be more on the “cookie cutter” side of things, which I’m never a big fan of.

WooCommerce

Speaking of versatility, if that’s what you’re after, Woocommerce is what you’re really going to want. I might be a little biased because I enjoy working with WordPress so much, but I’ve always liked how easy it is to manipulate everything in WordPress, which also includes Woocommerce. They’ve got a plugin for everything, but you don’t always need that plugin, you can often figure out your own code to make things work the way you like.

One project that was particularly interesting last year was making WooCommerce work with a non-Wordpress  site for doing fundraisers. The site was built from our own code, but pulled all the WooCommerce info for products and whatnot, and people completed their purchase on the site. Our client only really had to deal with the WordPress/WooCommerce side of things as well where their main site is, which kept things easier for them.

Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie
At Panda Rose, we can do pretty much anything. Just like Paris and Nicole.

All this to say that: if there’s something you want us to build, we can make it happen. Our answer is rarely “no”, and when it is, it’s usually because it’s in your own best interest, and if you still insist anyway, then so be it! We generally believe that nothing is impossible. I think that WooCommerce aggress with us with their “sell anything” and “no limits” points on their WooCommerce Features page.

Are there other eCommerce platforms?

I mean, yeah.

Are you going to tell me all about them?

No.

 

Platform shoes
Some platforms are awesome, like these shoes.

 

guys wearing crocs shoes
Some platforms are Wix and Squarespace.

While there are other platforms that offer eCommerce like Squarespace and Wix we generally recommend against using those types of platforms. They are not good for SEO and their limitations are significant. Because of their business model, they also tend to nickel and dime you for every little upgrade you want. eCommerce or website, just avoid these platforms. They’re not nice to work with and they don’t look good to search engines.

So what now?

Give us a call, comment on this blog, send us an email, contact us through our social media, send us smoke signals, or whatever way you prefer to communicate and set up a meeting with us. We can walk through the wide world of eCommerce and help you make the best decision for the type of business you run. We can help you build or refresh your website, and we can help integrate eCommerce into it. If your funds are more limited, we can help set things up and send you down the right path with a bit of training.

At the end of the day, we truly want to see the small businesses in our community be successful. As long as we have the tools to help business owners do that, we’d like to be a part of that.

Ben Stiller
You can be successful without eating it for breakfast or drinking skim milk. Personally, I like whole milk. And it’s OK if you like to skip breakfast.
BloggingEducationSEOTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Improve Your SEO

Everyone wants to be seen and heard, but when everyone wants to be seen that means almost no one is. In case you got lost at the title, I’ll briefly explain what exactly SEO is.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of getting more quantity and quality traffic to your website through the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines.

This of course is something you want for your business, free, organic, natural traffic. We’ll dive into some tips you can practice to achieve good SEO on your website.

1. Create Relevant Content

Blog content

Did you know the amount of time people spend on your website affects your SEO? This means, you want to put out content that people will want to read. Ideally content with more words does better than those with fewer words. But this doesn’t go to say that a post with 2,000 words will do better than one with 500. Pay attention to the quality and relevancy of your posts as this is what makes the biggest difference. The idea behind “the more words the better” is that, you have more space to add keywords, add more outbound links and get people spending more time on your page.

2. Add Quality Photos

good quality photos

Adding photos increases the legitimacy of your website. You can easily find high quality photos for free or take your own pictures for your website. Make sure when adding photos to add keywords to the various components of the image. Such as the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. Images are processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners. Images hold a tremendous amount of value for readers and SEO.

3. Readability

Readability

To make posts inviting to viewers always try to break up text with headers. Just think, if you click a link that is only somewhat interesting to you and are greeted with a huge block of “mono tone” looking text, the chances of you sticking around are pretty slim. The title would have to be extremely compelling for you to read past the first sentence. Don’t give your readers “Mount Everest” type of  content to tackle. What I mean by this is, you can have a heavy or highly informative topic to write about but if you just lay it all on your readers you will overwhelm or even lose them. Break up your text with images, headers, and shorter paragraphs to avoid exhausting or boring readers. To give your SEO a boost try adding keywords into your headers. The easier your content is to read the better you will rank.

4. Mobile Optimization

Mobile Optimization

Back in 2015 Google started penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly by pushing them down in search engine rankings. In fact, taking a look at some statistics on just how many website visits were from mobile devices in 2018, 58% were from mobile devices. This number just keeps jumping each year, if your website isn’t mobile friendly good chance you are also seeing a high bounce rate. If you are a B2B marketer mobile optimization is especially important. 77% of executives use their smartphones to research a product or service for their business.

5. Website Speed

Website Speed

Search engines pay attention to your websites loading speed. The chances of users leaving your site increases if they have to wait  longer than 7 seconds for pages to load. Try optimizing the size of your images, larger images can slow down your page. Reduce the number of plugins, the more plugins you have the more resources are needed to run them which slows down your website. The recommended loading speed for your website is under 3 seconds. Since so many websites fall short of the recommended speed, you will have an advantage on your competitors if you increase your website speed.

There are many aspects to SEO but making these few changes will increase your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.

BloggingMarketingSEOSocial MediaWeb Development

SEO for loans

Your online presence has bearing when it comes to getting a loan for your business.

According to Statistics Canada from 2016, 51.3% of small businesses request funds to help with their business. Over half of those people are requesting the money from financial institutions such as banks. Many business owners are looking to purchase equipment to speed up processes, hire employees, get into larger spaces and purchase high volume of items. Whatever the reasoning your business is looking to expand, you may need a loan in order to boost your business to take it to the next level.

“51.3% of small businesses request funds to help with their business.”

Last week we were lucky to have Tom Yeo from Scotiabank in Spruce Grove stop by to chat about the importance of your online presence when banks are considering you for a loan. When looking at getting a loan from the bank for business, there are a lot of factors at play, but as Tom explains, they always look online at your businesses website. Whether you sell online items or not, they look up your website.

So what exactly are they looking for when they look up your business online?

Tom says the first thing he does is look at the company website. He looks at the About Us section to see if it is up to date, relevant and if there even is one at all. He is looking to see that there is contact information and that its up to date. He wants to know that your company is going to have business for the next 2, 5, or even 10 years. Tom says then as he’s looking at the website he is looking to see “that it’s professionally done. That then shows that the company takes pride in what it’s doing and is actually invested in it’s image that’s out there.”

“shows that the company takes pride in what it’s doing and is actually invested in it’s image”

Your business’ online image is important for a lot of reasons. It’s important for potential loaners, investors, clients and even employees.

Tom goes on to say that “there was a company I recently decided not to do business with, because when I looked up their company online, what came up was employee reviews and they were all negative.” Now we all know that in business, we can’t make everyone happy. We also know that sometimes there are people out there that make a point to try to ruin a reputation of a company. When I asked Tom if there was any bearing in responses from the company on reviews he replied that it’s important to “manage you entire presence” and that replying to reviews has a “huge impact if done in a professional response.”

There is a bit of a process when beginning to look at funding options for your business, and managing your online presence is one of them. Look for:

  • Reviews.  Search your company online and find reviews. Respond to any concerns left by employees or clients. We even suggest responding to the people who left you wonderful reviews! It’s great for SEO and building community around your brand.
  • Your website information is up to date an relevant. Make sure your contact information is correct and that your products and services are up to date as well.
  • Your website looks professional.

Pop over to our blog post 5 Website Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business for more tips!

About Tom: Tom Yeo is originally from the UK and moved to Canada a few years ago. He has been in the banking industry for approximately 10 years in a variety of roles including personal banking, business banking and investments.

 

Panda Rose technical solutions solved

MarketingSEOSocial MediaTechnology

Panda Rose Consulting Joins Clutch’s Research of SEO & PPC Agencies in Canada

Every business values exposure. When companies are looking to expand their customer base, it’s very important that they find a marketing firm that can understand the intricacies of their business and target the right audience. Our clients trust that our expertise in digital marketing can help their business grow and they trust that we’ll always deliver on time. On our Clutch profile, which was created earlier this year, you can see what sets us apart as one of the best companies for your SEO, PPC, and general digital marketing needs.

Clutch is a Washington, DC-based B2B research and reviews firm. They look to connect business buyers with the best service providers worldwide, using a thorough research methodology based on client feedback in the form of unbiased and accurate reviews. To collect reviews, Clutch actually calls our former clients and interviews them about their experiences working with the Panda Rose team. We have our first review on our Clutch profile, and already the feedback we’ve received from our wonderful client Krista Rumberg has been more than we expected. Check it out:

SEo       

Because of our commitment to our clients and our expertise in SEO, Clutch named us as one of the top SEO companies in Canada. We’ve also been recognized as a top-performing firm on Clutch’s sister sites, The Manifest and Visual Objects.

The Manifest’s content includes lists of top performing companies, articles on trends within the tech industry, and helpful guides for business owners. We are included on their list of the top 50 social media marketing companies in Canada.

Visual Objects is Clutch’s newly launched site that acts as a central hub to view the portfolios of creative firms. Visual Objects features firms from a variety of industries including app development, web design, and branding. You can find Panda Rose listed on their list of the top digital marketing agencies in 2019. We’re happy to be one of the first firms featured on Visual Objects and we’re excited to see how the site evolves.

With the new year underway, we’re extremely appreciative of our clients for taking the time to speak with Clutch and reflect on their experiences working with us. To get honest and verified feedback through a third-party source is a great opportunity for Panda Rose and we look forward to seeing how much more we can grow our presence on each site until we’re considered the very best digital marketing agency in Canada!

 

We thank all of our clients and would love if you could also take a moment to leave us a review as well.

Panda Rose SEO

MarketingSEOSocial MediaTechnologyWeb Development

You’ve got a website for your company. You are “online”, that should be good enough right? I mean, you don’t sell anything on your website, how important could it be to invest in a good website?

Wrong.

The world is digital and as we shared in our blog post “5 Website Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business” 47% of users leave a website if its loading time is more than 3 seconds. Couple that information with studies showing that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a small business or making a purchase with them. A killer website is far more important than we give it credit for. Crucial even.

studies showing that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a small business or making a purchase with them

Join Kelly Rose from Panda Rose Consulting Inc for a Business Breakfast as he talks about the importance of your business needing a solid website at the Stony Plain Chamber Of Commerce. This is an opportunity to ask Kelly some questions about your company’s website and how it can perform better, while getting the chance to also do a bit of networking with local business owners.

 

Date: January 15, 2019
Time: 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM MST Program starts at 8am
Location:
Stony Plain Chamber Boardroom
4815 – 44 Avenue, Stony Plain
Contact Information:
Denise (780) 963-4545
Fees/Admission:
$10 Members
$15 non members
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MarketingSEOUncategorizedWeb Development

Website Development

5 Website Mistakes

Websitemistakeshurtingyourbusiness

The world has moved online, whether you make and sell a specific product or offer a services, customers are finding businesses online. In a recent blog post we explained Why A Good Website Is Important, but this post is about some of the common mistakes we see when starting with new clients, building or updating websites.

1. Your website is too busy

Making your website reader friendly is key here. If your online website is the first time a client is interacting with your business and they come overloaded with information they are more likely to navigate off your page and find an easier to read site. A good way to create a visually more appealing website is to have more white space. Sometimes a little less is more. Keep text blocks short and sweet. If you need to expand on idea, think about creating a blog page to link to for more information.

2. Ignoring the back end of your site

There are a few tools like SCHEMA you can use in the back end of your website to improve your ranking in search engines. Alt text for images is a great way of having keywords added to content. Structured Data markup helps organize the information for search engines so it they can understand what your website is about.

3. Broken links

Broken links or links that lead to no where on your website have a lot of negative effects. Firstly, it is frustrating to potential clients/customers. Picture this, your client is on your e-commerce site and ready to purchase the adorable item you have on your landing page. They click and it leads them to an error message or somewhere else. Now the customer has to navigate around your site to find what they are looking for and are more likely to go somewhere else. Additionally, too may broken or damaged links on your website can hurt your ranking in search engines.

4. Your website is SLOW

As we have shared in previous blog posts 47% of users leave a website if its loading time is more than 3 seconds. People don’t want to wait for a site to load in order to find what they are looking for. Our fast digital world has people wanting instant solutions to their problems and are more likely to navigate away from your site if it is slow moving.

“47% of users leave a website if its loading time is more than 3 seconds.”

5. It’s not accessible

Know your audience, especially if they are needing alternative languages or voice reading options. You can check out this website for a scan of your website.

 

 

Does all of this seem a bit daunting? Take one thing at a time and work on it slowly. Or you can always chat with the Panda Rose team about helping get your website updated.

EducationTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Panda Rose Learning Solutions

Online Training, Learning and Educational Platforms

At Panda Rose we really believe in offering technical solutions in a wide variety.

We offer many services, one of them being building programs and platforms online for clients. Check out a few examples of some of the work we have done for clients.

Ideas Roadshow 

Ideas Roadshow is a supplemental learning for people in IB (International Baccalaureate) programs and creates standardized international learning. This programs are offered through various channels such as specific school, libraries and teachers.

Panda Rose was able to supply support for the website, including code updating and also build the newest IB viewing version.

Aim

Aim is an online language learning platform.

Panda Rose did some of the textbook mapping, meaning we were able to create the online textbooks in multiple languages for resources for students/teachers. In addition we created a chat forum for teacher and students to be able to communicate with each other on the website, rather than needing a separate app or platform. Leaving the user on AIM’s site, instead of another’s.

Curriculum Services Canada

Curriculum Services Canada (CSC) is the Pan-Canadian standards agency for quality assurance in learning products and programs. CSC is a not-for-profit organization that provides services including the development, implementation, evaluation, and accreditation of teaching and learning resources.

Panda Rose was able to update the trillium list (the list of approved textbooks and resources for education) as well as offered updating of their code base. Their website was running on an older version, meaning they were no longer receiving updates, so updating their code allowed them to get them again.

 

 

MarketingSEOTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Your website if the first impression people have of your business.

They are searching the internet for your services or product and they land on your page! Congratulations they found you! Which even finding you is hard enough with tons of businesses online competing for the same top of the search page spot.

They navigate to your website and are greeted by an unappealing site, irrelevant information or it’s SLOW. *que dramatic music* Consumers attention spans are short and when they are searching for information or products, even shorter when they are stopped by a SLOW moving or difficult to navigate website.

Did you know that 47% of users leave a website if its loading time is more than 3 seconds? So optimization is a vital thing for your website. If it’s well-functioning and the content/ products there are of a high-quality, more visitors will surely come and conversion rates will increase.

Deborah, our in house Web Development Expert says “Your website is an extension of your business. You want your website to match the professionalism of your business.”

Having a clear message you are trying to portray to potential clients and customers right away is what will keep them on your website, navigating and researching who you are and just what it is that you do.

In addition, great websites are showcases for some of your best work. You can show of all the amazing products or jobs you have completed to a potential client/customer before they even have the chance to contact you. This decreases some of the time spent answering questions, making your business just that much more efficient.

Finally, a good website with great content helps get you noticed on search engines. The more time people spend on your site and the more often the visit, the more search engines believe your site and information to be relevant. If you want to learn more about SEO check out our recent blog post What even is SEO? And How To Use It.

 

MarketingSEOWeb Development

Even yours

I am not one of the web designers at Panda Rose, but I have worked with a couple websites and have visited many over the years. Lately I’ve been noticing that some websites draw me in and others I just scroll on by. Some companies neglect simple website guidelines and unfortunately, they end up missing out on customers they could otherwise do business with. These problems can be fixed so easily. Here are my tips which I hope you already practice.

Photography

One issue that is always interesting to address is the images displayed on a website. Images are a very powerful tool when it comes to your business. But a poor photo quality puts up red flags for potential customers and this should be avoided at any cost.

What qualifies as a poor quality picture?

  • The image is unclear as to what the featured item is.
  • Poorly displayed.
  • A mess in the picture. Or if something is dirty without purpose.
  • Bad lighting or blurry
  • Not trendy

If a photo is not done professionally and obviously so, it is a major distraction to the customers on your site. I find that when a site has beautiful pictures I am easily convinced that the product or service is legit and exceptional without even thinking about it. All because of the great impression.

If the picture on the right was on a bakery website you would be concerned about the quality of the business. (Note the lighting and crumbs.) But if the picture on the left was on the bakery website you wouldn’t even stop to think about the picture.

People notice problems, they don’t notice when things are as they should be. Don’t give your customers a reason to second guess your website.

Poor quality pictures leave me wondering if the company doesn’t have the money to update their pictures, therefore they do not have a good product or service. Now I know that I cannot make that assumption about all companies but it is an honest thought that comes to mind.

Get. A. Professional. Photographer. I know that it sounds like a hassle but trust me, it will allow your website to give a good first impression and everyone knows that first impressions are everything. Please just do it, you won’t regret it.

Navigation

Your website needs to be easy to look through. If someone is on your site looking for something and they cannot find it without clicking through all your of your pages, then your website is set up poorly. Make it very clear what they can find on each page and follow through with that initial description. If customers have to think up specific search terms to find what they are looking for, they will move on to a different site very quickly. I know that I do.

Keeping up with Trends

When was the last time your website had an update on its full appearance? Are the main colours red and white? Or this blue?

Time for a major update.

Black, white and one other accented colour can be a beautiful theme or at least a good start for those switching up their site. Which brings me to my next point.

Simplicity is Beautiful

Clean up the clutter. A site trying to fit all the info about them on their homepage is overwhelming for everyone. Simplify the homepage, not just because it is easier to take in but because it is pleasant to look at. Again, people notice problems, not when things are working well . . .

Organization is favoured by humans in general. Suit the needs of the masses by keeping organized. Use minimalism for not only aesthetic reasons but give people the ability to find the pages they want. Don’t throw everything their way before they have the chance to ask for it.

Mobile Friendly

When I am not at work, I hardly ever use a computer to search the Internet for anything. If I click on a site while I am on my phone and it is impossible to read or operate I move on to a different website. Sadly I am sure that I have missed out on many great products and services because the website did not work well with my phone.


My best advice is to remind you to think like a customer. Try to imagine that you know absolutely nothing about your business and see if it answers all the questions that a customer might have. Your site needs to be easy to navigate and easy to work with. If your website’s purpose is to book appointments, ensure that is an easy task for customers to accomplish. If your site is made for providing information for customers, construct your site so that everything is organized. And remember that aesthetics matter in every aspect of your site. I hope to see your beautiful site very soon!

Let me know how you fixed up a website in the comments!

Tess Houcher 

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