Have you clicked on a link on a website only to get a page with a “Page Not Found” error? Create a custom 404 Error Page for your website and take advantage of the space:

If you have a broken link on your site and a visitor clicks on this link they will be directed to what is called a 404 Error Page. This is a standard page that will let the visitor know that the link they clicked on could not be found. We all know how annoying this page can be. The good news is that there are ways to make this error page work for us.

Although these pages can drive traffic away, we can design them to actually become productive sales tools. Customizing your 404 error page should be a fairly simple process. Check with your host or the program you are using for your site to see how it can be done. Consider the ideas below to change your 404 page from a hindrance to a benefit.

1. Warm Welcome – Add a warm greeting and make your potential customers feel welcome as opposed to chasing them away with a giant “ERROR” plastered across the page.

2. Apologize with Free Gift – Offer them a free gift for the mistake. Add a link going to a $5.00 gift card, a bonus product with order, a free report or ebook, etc. Try to give them a gift that will be beneficial to them and you.

3. Subscription Page – Send them to your subscription page. Be sure to give them a free gift for subscribing. Offer helpful info, needed resources and more in your mailings.

4. Affiliate Product – If you are an affiliate for quality products and/or services, add a link to your affiliate page.

5. Your Product – Redirect them to your product pages. Be sure you have well-designed, easy to navigate product pages.

6. Use a Little Humor – Add something humorous to the page to lighten the mood and make your visitors want to look around more. Use cute, happy, funny graphics to put a smile on their face. Be sure not to cross any lines and be professional.

7. One Time Offer – Give the visitor a special one-time offer. Give them a deal not available anywhere else.

8. SEO Benefits – Design your error page so it is similar to your site’s other pages. Give it a keyword rich title and content. Add your blog/site title. Add a link to your site map or a site search function. It is hard to avoid the error pages so making them work for us is a good option.

9. Main Site Links – Be sure to add the important page links of your site so the visitors will know where to go. Briefly explain how going on will benefit them and what you have to offer.

10. Call to Action – Be sure to add a call to action on this page to instruct the visitor what to do or where to go to next. In the seconds you have to get people’s attention after the error page comes up, a call to action will sometimes make the decision for them.

The goal here is to not let this usually irritating page make your visitors quickly leave your site. Grab their attention with something interesting or entertaining so they will overlook the error and stay on your site. This can lead to more traffic and sales for your business.

“10 Ways to Benefit from Your 404 Error Page” by Terry Seymore in www.sitepronews.com

If you’re not sure exactly how to create a customized 404 error page, contact your web designer for assistance.

Have you backed up your computer lately?  Don’t wait until it’s too late!  Here’s a tip that may help make it easier for you.

From Q13Fox.com – Tech Report, March 5, 2012 by Rich DeMuro:

So much of our lives are going digital, from photographs to important documents. But what happens when your computer crashes? Well thanks to high speed internet connections, keeping a backup of your computer files is easier than ever.

We all know we should be doing it. It’s like flossing your teeth; nobody really wants to do it and definitely not enough people do it; but you really have to do it.

It’s backing up your computer.

“A hard drive is a mechanical device. It has an average lifespan of about three to five years, which most people don’t realize. Eventually it’s going to fail,” said Barb Dybwad, head of Tecca.com.

Computer failure these days means say goodbye to photos, important documents and emails. A new campaign from online backup service Carbonite drives the message home.

Tom Murray of Carbonite said, “We’re really excited about the ad. In the real world you never get a warning when your computer crashes and when you lose your files.”

Online backup services store your computer files on a remote server to keep them safe.

“If the product is easy to use and works automatically in our case, then you never have to worry about having a gap in the information that you’ve protected,” said Murray.

Barb said, “Carbonite is a great one, there’s Mozy, Sugarsync, BackBlaze, iDrive, Box.net, all of them are great to look into”.

Protection starts at about five dollars a month, some plans are unlimited, while others charge by how much you’re storing.

Even if you’re using iCloud, it might not be enough.

“By default you’re not actually backing up all of your files (on iCloud), the photostream only does a thousand and after that you’re not storing any more,” explains Barb.

I personally recommend backing up two ways, online, and with an external hard drive. That way you’re always covered no matter what happens. Check out all of the online services mentioned, right here:

http://www.carbonite.com/en/

http://mozy.com/

https://www.sugarsync.com/

http://www.backblaze.com/

http://www.idrive.com/

http://www.box.com/personal/

 

View the video at http://www.q13fox.com/lifestyle/technology/ktla-backup-your-computer-online-20120305,0,7796554.story

It’s never too late to set up a back up system for your files…until your hard drive dies and you’ve lost everything that was on it!

Wise words via Sandra Yancey, eWomen Network on ways to be a “Quitter” in your business:

1.  Quit hanging around people who aren’t smarter than you –  surround yourself with the right people that will help you move forward

2.  Quit waiting for the perfect “launch” moment – don’t wait for the when – go for the pursuit of progress, not the pursuit of perfection

3.  Quit trying to figure it out by yourself – find your tribe and let them help you

4.  Quit trying to do it on the cheap –  it’s hard to steal second base and keep your foot on first base.  Sometimes you have to let go – jump and build your wings on the way down – why have wings if you’re never going to fly?

5.  Quit taking it personally – some will, some won’t…so what?

 

Get out of your own way and take your business to the next level!

 

When you’re shopping for a hosting company to host your website, can you be assured that your website will always be up and viewable?

Uptime is a measure of how well the web hosting provider is doing at keeping their systems up and running.  If a hosting provider has a high uptime percentage, then it would mean that their servers stay up and running and so any site you host with them should stay up and running too.  Typically you’ll see a hosting company state a guaranteed “99.9% uptime.”  This is the industry standard.  To be realistic, there is no 100% guarantee.  Things happen, but you can get pretty close.

Uptime is simply calculated as a percentage of time:

  • 98% uptime = 28.8 minutes/day or 3.4 hours/week or 14.4 hours/month or 7.3 days/year
  • 99% uptime = 14.4 minutes/day or 1.7 hours/week or 7.2 hours/month or 3.65 days/year
  • 99.5% uptime = 7.2 minutes/day or 0.84 hours/week or 3.6 hours/month or 1.83 days/year
  • 99.9% uptime = 1.44 minutes/day or 0.17 hours/week or 0.72 hours/month or 8.8 hours/year

Sometimes there are scheduled outages where the company plans to perform a server upgrade or planned hardware change out.  This downtime is not covered in their uptime guarantee.  They try to do it in the hours between midnight and 5am to minimize impact on businesses, under the assumption that the majority of them are closed for the night.

And, of course, there are the unscheduled outages caused by failed hardware or in the unfortunate case of an attack by some malware or trojan whose basic goal is to take down a network, site or service.

The guarantee does allow for compensation should your downtime exceed the stated value, however most hosting providers have a lot of hoops they want you to jump through to claim the reimbursement.  They are probably hoping that you will decide that the amount of effort involved is not worth the minimal amount you would qualify to receive.

Regardless, 0.1% of downtime is actually very minimal.  It is in their best interest for reputable companies to do their best to minimize any downtime.  Like any other business, it comes down to the overall service you receive that will determine whether or not you trust and continue your relationship with that company.

Many people run into writer’s block when generating copy for their websites.  Deciding what and how much to include is always a juggling act.  Too little and your potential client may not feel comfortable that you know your business well enough.  Too much and you can scare people away.

To help I want to share a helpful article on writing for your website by my friend and Small Business Marketing maven, Stacy Karacostas:

Writing to Satisfy Both Readers and Skimmers on Your Website

Writing for the Web truly is different from writing for print. One of the most critical ways it’s different is that people don’t read the same way on the Internet as they do on paper. In fact, many people don’t read on the Web at all—at least not at first. Instead they skim and scan to see if your business has what they’re after.

Then, only if they’re really interested will they read your site content word for word. Or do a mix of skimming and reading.

So as an entrepreneur you don’t want to skimp on the amount of Website content (or copy) you write. Because, as I’ve talked about in previous articles, your Website has to have all the tools and information it needs to be a good salesperson. Otherwise it won’t help you grow your small business.

That means your writing has to be friendly and easy to understand. And your copy has to answer all your customer’s questions and deal with their objections…Then convince them to take action.

It also has to achieve three core goals:

  1. Make the shopping experience easy and convenient
  2. Inspire confidence
  3. Show what’s different, or better, about buying from you

That’s a mighty tall order to fill in the 250 words or less some “experts” recommend. Though really, it’s not about how many words of copy should go on a page because you need exactly as much as it takes to achieve your goals—no more and no less. It’s about how you write and format that copy.

So, let’s get back to what I was saying about skimming versus reading…

Most people will skim your Website before they read it—at least initially—because they want to see if you have what they are looking for. And they want to find it as quickly as possible.

However, when they’re really interested in what you are saying—or serious about buying soon—then they’ll devour every last word you put up there. Assuming, of course, that it is interesting, informative, and easy to read.

So, since some site visitors are going to read while others are going to skim, you need copywriting that satisfies both. How do you do that? Try editing and formatting your Website content with these important rules in mind:

  1. Banish Big, Bulky Paragraphs
    Big, long chunks of text are just not inviting to read. Especially on the Web. They just look like too much work, and are almost impossible to skim.Make all your paragraphs no more than five lines long. On the Web even a one sentence paragraph is fair game.
  2. Be Up Front
    Stick to one point and state it early in the paragraph. People who skim read the beginning of a paragraph far more often than they read the whole thing. And the last thing you want to do is bury critical information where it won’t get seen.
  3. It’s Good to Be Short
    It’s easier to both skim and read ideas that are broken down into bite-sized pieces. So keep sentences around 20 words or less. This seems hard at first, but you can almost always find a way to break a long sentence into two shorter ones. Use Tools/Word Count in Microsoft Word to keep yourself honest.
  4. Use 5 Cent Instead of 50 Cent Words
    Using long words take more thought, and are more likely to be misunderstood, than short ones.  Plus, these days most people (even college educated ones) read most comfortably at about an eighth grade level. So anytime it’s possible to use a shorter word, or two short words instead of one long one, do it. The exception: if the long word is specific to an industry or market you are trying to reach, then by all means use it.
  5. Catch Their Eye
    One of the best ways to make your copy both skim friendly and effective is with well-written headlines and subheads, and well-placed bolding and highlights. Someone should be able to skim nothing but these to get all the major points and decide whether or not to read deeper.
  6. Bring On the Bullets
    Next to headlines and subheads, bullets are one of the best tools for satisfying both skimmers and readers. Just make sure each one provides a clear, compelling benefit—not just a feature. Because it’s not just about what your product or service is or does. It’s what it does for your customer that matters.

By writing and formatting your small business Website content with these rules in mind, you make it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for in an instant. And you can write as much copy as you need to satisfy anyone who wants to read more, and convince them to take action.

—————

Practical Marketing Expert and Business Lifestyle Architect Stacy Karacostas is on a mission to help other savvy entrepreneurs unchain themselves from their business. Discover how to market and grow your business with less effort, help more people, make more money, AND still have a life by grabbing your own copy of her *F*R*E*E* “Success without Shackles Starter Kit” at http://www.theunchainedentrepreneur.com

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