5 tips to improve your websites Call-to-action

Josh McCullochShameless Self Promotion, Website Tips, Website Tools, Website TrafficLeave a Comment

5 tips for call to action

  1. Use direct and clear language.

It’s important to know that passive calls-to-action will get you low clicks and low results. Remember, your call to action should incorporate a powerful action of words. Tell what you want your website visitor to do. Verbs are specifically helpful when addressing actions you want your visitor to do. Calls-to-action or CTA’s should be written in simple language, making it irresistible for your web visitor to take action.

  1. Stay away from intimidation

People need to feel something positive, take the high road and keep your Calls-to-action to appeal to positive emotions of your website visitors. Keep positive by giving your customer a sense of ease of mind. A positive attitude reinforces a risk-free nature and is a lot less intimidating while they discover your business.

  1. Patience, patience and more patience.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your marketing plan. Building a strategy and reading data will take time. Be sure to carve out consistent time to review your marketing strategy, data and metrics. Calls-to-Action with positive results will take time, as it should. Create and build patience to grow your brand. Today, many company brands are too large and complex to be managed by one person. Explore the possibility to work with companies who specialize in marketing practices. Luckily, many companies have conducted A/B testing to calls-to-action and other helpful strategies. Take a breath and review what you can. Ask for help when needed.

  1. Increase human curiosity.

People are curious by nature. Use that to your benefit! What will the user experience after they use the Call-to-action? Promise a discovery or an unknown perk or discount on a product. It’s all up to you. Just don’t give away the entire experience. We as humans are naturally wired for anticipation and curiosity, make it exciting, inviting and invigorating.

  1. Reply the call.

Do you see something working within your strategy? Keep going! Find that next hot inner-working that will increase your website traffic. Be disciplined and review data on a regular basis. Marketing can be more of a challenge when you don’t have a plan. Create it, write it, execute and reply the call. The best thing you can do for your online presence is to create a road map to your destination and stick with it. Be disciplined and make marketing a priority in your business.


Online Contact Forms Can Spell L-E-A-D-S or S-P-A-M (or even S-C-A-M)

Bob HoldemanAlerts, Internet Safety, Website TrafficLeave a Comment

One of the best means of getting leads from your website is an online form that can be completed by visitors who want to take you up on what your website offers or find out more about your business.

As lead generation goes, those that come from a well-conceived online form are typically pretty solid, providing the information your sales staff needs to follow up and close the deal.  And, in terms of ROI, it’s the best way to determine the value of your website and internet marketing efforts because it is measurable. It’s pretty easy to count the number of forms submitted each month.

But some unscrupulous marketers are more than willing to turn the tables on you and use your form to spam you.  They will tell you all about their own wonderful product or service, such as their ability to get you to the top of the search pages or drive tremendous amounts of traffic to your site.

Their message, entered in a comments box on the form, usually goes something like this:

“I couldn’t find your contact information on your website while I was conducting my audit, so I thought I would reach out directly. After running a thorough audit on your site, my team has come to the conclusion that you could be performing better in organic searches.”  The message typically goes on to drop a few tidbits of jargon that is designed to make you think they know what they are doing in the tech-savvy field of SEO.

At Comstar we have built hundreds of websites and on every one of them the company’s phone number and their contact information is front-and-center.  There is no way a competent “audit” would miss that info.

Another indication that you are being scammed is perhaps in the person’s info they share on the form.  Is there an email address with the company’s domain or is it a gmail or hotmail account?  Reputable businesses use their own identity in their email.

Sometimes the particulars don’t match.  Recently one client of ours received a form from a visitor with a similar message who put their name and company name in the boxes at the top of the form, then signed the message in the comments box with a different name and company name.  Not too suspicious, eh?

And to add injury to insult, they indicated they had found out about the website from a banner ad the client was running.  This means that the spammer (i.e. scammer) clicked on a paid ad that caused our client to spend money to Google for the click!

Of course sometimes they choose “Internet Search” as the way they found out about the website… but that sort of counters their point that your site can’t be found on a Google search results page.

So, stick with known professionals who are accountable and available, not someone who has to mislead you just to get a foot in the door!

Here’s more info on internet marketing on our own Comstar website.



Time to Evaluate Your Web Presence?

Bob HoldemanWebsite Tips, Website Tools, Website TrafficLeave a Comment

It’s nearly 2016.  Do you know where your website is?  No, really, do you know where it is hosted?  Do you know where your domain registration is or when it expires or who will get notified about it?  Do you know where your dns is hosted?  Or your email?  They may not be all in the same place, but it is critical that you have control of this information for your company or organization.

If you don’t know the answers to the above, your first New Year’s resolution should be to find out and make sure you have control of this most valuable web asset.

With that out of the way, it’s probably a good time to evaluate your website, the door to your business from an online sense.  Does it grab the visitor’s attention, is it easy to navigate, does it look good on all devices, can you make changes easily and are you keeping up with your competition by adding new content regularly?

Are you marketing your business as well as you can online or is it time for professional help?  Can you manage your own SEO and paid placement campaigns?  Are you spending too much or not enough time on social media to further your business or organization?  What else can you do?

Those are some of the questions that face marketers and business owners at this time of the year and that we hear often here at Comstar.  We provide various levels of analysis for our clients from a simple website critique to a more thorough examination (appropriately called an “Evaluation”) all the way to a fully formed, in-depth online web strategy, which includes all aspects of a company or organization’s internet activities for the following year or more.

I enjoy the strategies myself, with hours of research and planning, development and implementation going into a project.  But the best feeling is when a strategy results in 4-5 years of online growth for our clients and we can look back and see what worked and what didn’t.

Spam Is On the Rise! Or Is It Just Me?

Bob HoldemanInternet Safety, Product Recommendations, Shameless Self PromotionLeave a Comment

We’re all tired of opening our Inbox to find massive amounts of messages we did not ask for .  Spammers are running rampant and threaten our very existence (or at least the first hour of our work day)!  I mean, how many times can I hit the delete button before it breaks and I need to buy a new laptop?

I think it’s possible that spammers are the vanguard of an alien invasion force (hey, I read it on the internet, so it’s probably true).  Sometimes I take spam personally (is it just me?).

In case spammers are targeting only me (a little techno-paranoia here), I put on my tin foil pyramid hat and took a look at the weekly statistics from our own Comstar Advanced Spam Filter.  I saw that over the past six weeks leading up to “Cyber Monday”, the day that has become synonymous with major online sales, spam has steadily increased from 15% of email volume per week to 37% during Thanksgiving week.  That’s a 250% increase over the past six weeks!

The good news for myself and the rest of our Comstar advanced filter users is that the spam filter caught about 97% of it before it reached our Inboxes.  I even get an email that shows me the latest blocked spam emails so I can easily release any that are legitimate or that interest me, avoiding needless annoyance and saving my delete key from retirement!

Even worse, viruses and malware lurk in many spam messages.  In the interest of safety, I never open emails or click on attachments in any email from someone I do not know – and neither should you.  Fortunately, I know that even without my tin foil hat, my Advanced Spam Filter has caught and completely blocked any known viruses and held any that are suspect.

I’m interested to see stats on weekly spam volume for the next 6 weeks.  If I’m right the spam volume will start to decrease and we can officially recognize a new season leading up to Cyber Monday – the “Season of Spam”!

If I’m wrong, the aliens are coming and you’d better get your own tin foil hat!

Amazing so far! And it’s still advancing…

Josh McCullochAlerts, Blog Tips, Internet Safety, Shameless Self Promotion, Website Tips, Website Tools, Website Traffic, Website TrendsLeave a Comment

As Comstar celebrates 20 years in business, I couldn’t help but to think how far technology has come in such a short amount of time. As I started my day at the office, I sat down, grabbed my coffee and reflected my first encounter with technology. Like many kids growing up in the early 1990’s, I was remembering the good ole’ days of running out to the mailbox after school, grabbing the mail and grabbing that free AOL floppy disk. I don’t know about you, but I personally thought those things made great Frisbee’s and yes, just like you, I probably shouldn’t have thrown it around the hallways at school.

As floppy disks evolved to Cd’s and then to external hard drives, we have seen technology become much more affordable and much more robust. Recently, we have even seen websites become much more affordable. Content management systems like WordPress and others have become affordable and much more advanced, with thousands of advanced plug-ins and widgets. It’s no wonder why so many people don’t know where to start. There is so much technology available!

In our last blog we answered questions to what people feel they should know, but are too afraid to ask.  So here are some common questions that a few of our clients have asked us about modern website development and our belief what your website needs to have to make it an online assist.

Is a blog on my website really important?

Yes! A blog is a great way to keep your community updated on new and exciting things that are going on in your company, business, and industry or just about anything you deem appropriate. It’s really depends on what you do with it. Hard work and dedication to your craft will only benefit your website, visitors and your company. It can be a benefit to educate your visitors to take action. Blogs are not only helpful to your web visitors for information but it also helps search engines like Google, Bing and others find you. Having a blog will make a world of difference, impacting both your website traffic and your potential  increased search rankings.

Is spamming a big deal? I’ve had my website up for years and I’ve never had a problem with spammers.

Again, yes! Cyber-crime and spam has dramatically increased over the years. Recently, we had a business who came to us who had their site completely compromised, just days before a big community event they created and advertised for weeks. This not only took them by surprised but caused the company to spend more money on security updates, P.R and media releases to let the community that their event was still going to happen.

Keeping your website up to date is not only important but necessary for you to save money long term. Without continual security updates (and yes, please know it’s necessary) it can be only a matter of time before your site is compromised by cyber-criminals.

If you would like to find out more on cyber-crime and prevention view our blog; 3 ideas to stay safe and secure on the web.

Do I really need Calls-to-action (CTA’s) on my site?

Calls to action help your visitors take action on your website. I often tell people even if you claim to have the best website in the world and no ones there to see it; it’s not the best website in the world. Calls-to-action is a way for your customer to accomplish something. It’s your choice what you want your web visitors to accomplish on your site. For more information and FREE traffic and conversion tips, check out our full length tips on how to convert your website traffic to paying customers!

Computer Basics: What you want to know but are too afraid to ask.

Josh McCullochMisc., Website Tips1 Comment

Sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics, to have a refresher course to what we should know about computers, let’s face it, it can be a confusing world with iphones, tablets and other mobile devices on top of desktop computers. So, do you have computer questions but are to embarrass to ask? Questions you have wanted to ask but never do? Maybe it’s in part of fear that your friends, work peers or even your boss just assumes you should just know these things. Well read on…this blog is for you. We are going to define tech lingo and unravel your frustration. So let’s get started…

So how does my computer function?

Glad you asked! A computer has a center core brain called the Centeral processing Unit (CPU). The CPU is located inside the computer on a printed electric circuit called the Motherboard. The CPU chip is responsible for processing and disturbing function – very much like our own brains with our body. If you press the letter “C” on your keyboard it will appear on your computer screen- the CPU is responsible for delivering the command of information to your screen. It is the brain and nervous system of the computer.

What is the difference between Hardware vs Software?

Hardware is the computers physical components, such as the keyboard, the mouse and memory. Software gives the hardware a list of instructions to accomplish a task you want. Software uses the hardware for basic functions; input, processing, storage and output to name a few. A way to keep this simple to remember differences, Hardware is the body and software as the brain.

What is an IP Number or address? I’ve heard of it but not sure If I need one?

Chances are, you have one. If you are reading this from your desktop computer then you have an I.P. number or address. I.P stands for Internet Protocol. I.P addresses can be static or dynamic. A Static IP address will never change and are permanent. Think of it like your home address.. You can’t wake up one day and decided to make a random address change to your house…not saying it wouldn’t be fun to prank the mailman.

What is a Database?

A computer database typically contains files, records and other forms of aggregations of data records. Databases are nothing more than an electronic filling system.

Stay tunned for part 2. What tech questions do you have but are afraid ask?  For more helpful info click here.


Mobile-Friendly Means More Website Traffic on Mobile Devices

Bob HoldemanWebsite ToolsLeave a Comment

Since Google announced Mobile-geddon in April of this year we’ve been keeping our eye on some of the clients’ website traffic whose SEO programs we manage at Comstar.  Some of them have already made the move to a responsive, mobile-friendly website design, while others have not.

Six months ago Google let the world know that it was going to reward those who have mobile-friendly websites with higher rankings on searches done on mobile devices, like tablets and smart phones.  With that event far back enough in the rear-view mirror, it is time to see what the results have been.

An indicator of whether a visitor finds a site useful is the bounce rate.  The lower the percentage of traffic that only goes to one page of your site, the better.  If a visitor on a phone comes to your site and it is not mobile-friendly, odds are that they will “bounce” away without going deeper into the site.

One client, whose responsive (RWD) website was published in January of 2015, shows an increase in traffic from mobile devices of 20% since then, compared to the same ten months in 2014.  An even better indication of the value of RWD is their bounce rate, which fell from 39% on mobile devices to 17%, and their page views, which rose from 2.65 per visitor to 4.18.  Mobile-friendly means more interest.

Another client, who has not yet gone to the mobile-friendly approach shows an increase in traffic on mobile devices of 26%, yet their bounce rate has gotten worse, increasing by 2% and their pages viewed and time on site has not changed measurably. More visitors with less interest in the site!

These anecdotal examples show that more people are definitely using mobile devices to view websites, but they will not investigate further than 1 page if it is not presented well on their device.

We’ll continue to gather more data on the impact of Google’s approval of responsive web design and pass it on when we can see trends.

To find out more about Comstar’s approach to mobile-friendly design, check out our company website.


Where Does Social Media Fit Into Business?

Josh McCullochBlog Tips, Website Tips, Website TrendsLeave a Comment

When you think about using social media to move your business forward, think about building relationships – they way more and more people are today, with an electronic connection.

Understand who your customer is…
It’s important to keep your business identity strengths and share your brand with those who follow you on social media. Many companies will take away focus on what they are good at achieving; every company has something they excel at. So why not maximize what you and your business can bring to the table? So often, I will see a business sway from their benchmark of success using social media, mostly desperate for a “like” or a tweet.

Key strategies for consideration…
Set a goal for each social profile and identify checkpoints for success. For example; I want to increase new follower counts on Facebook by 30 likes each month. This is to amplify my brand and new product line and drive-foot traffic into my retail shop.

Who am I? is a question every company has to ask itself and its customers. Identify not only what your company brand is and what makes you unique but be sure to ask these questions:

Who is your audience?

What social media networks I am most able to find them?

Where can I find them?

What do I want people to know about my business? What’s my mission?

Who’s following who? Be nosy and find out who your clients are following on social media, its okay to network. Heck, look at LinkedIn! We share not only what our individual strengths are professionally but we also network and reach out to others and expand our own professional network.  So, why not do the same on other social networking sites? If you want to increase new followers chances are you’ll find new followers by your clients that are in love with you and your company. Remember, they buy you before your company.  So, leverage what you have.

Encourage engagement and build conversation: Build your audience by creating a discussion, quoting others and sharing quotes. Keep it light, informative and keep it relative to your company. People love to interact with authenticity. This attitude can help promote, build and inspire others to use your business services and can go along way building your social media rep.

Why Black Hat SEO is a bad choice

Josh McCullochWebsite Conversion, Website Tips, Website Traffic2 Comments

I learned long ago that the web development world is really the ‘wild west’ of the 21st century. It can be a fun place to build and design but it is also filled with the good the bad and the ugly. Web professionals that develop online assists for companies are in an environment of constant change. Here at Comstar, we talk how we create and deliver online assists through variations of services. One service that many clients positively benefit from is our SEO plan.

Unlike Comstar, some companies approach to SEO is ‘do whatever you can to increase your search rankings and do it quick!” this may at first seem like a good idea, though it can actually do more harm than good to your search rankings. Let me explain, if you allow the ‘do whatever you can’ mentality to build your website and mend your web result issue, you may be sorely disappointed. In the attempt to boost your page, SEO is needed but some people and companies will use something called, “black hat” SEO. And let me tell you, Black hat SEO is not always a good thing.

So, what is Black hat SEO? Why is it a big deal?

Black hat SEO is considered an unethical web practice to boost website results among search engines, gaining a quick return on investment, rather than a better and more profitable long term solution. A few techniques of black hat SEO may include include doorway pages, stuffing of keywords,  invisible “ghost” text, adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping (changing the webpage entirely after it has been ranked by search engines).

Why is Black hat SEO a bad choice?

Simple. Search engines are well aware of Black Hat SEO practices. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others can pick up on landing pages that may hold invisible texts or keyword stuffing (manipulating a site’s ranking). Unethical strategies are on the rise but so are the web sheriffs like Google, Bing and others. If you choose to play by the rules you’ll be able to reap what you grow. Don’t be the bad guy. A short term fix may seem like an easy thing to do, but with sites like Google visiting websites, search engines are aware of black hat SEO and their ethics. If you are found using Black hat SEO your website may be penalized and even band from search engines. If you have a landing page with “ghost” text or any text that is not visible to the reader, get rid of it. If you adhere to the rules and proper practices set by Google, you’ll be much better off. Choose to create an online assist that will benefit you for years to come! In long run, you’ll be able to call your website an online assist and a smart investment.