FREE DOWNLOAD - HOW TO OPTIMISE IMAGES FOR YOUR WEBSITE

Shopify vs WooCommerce: Which One Is Best For Your eCommerce Store?

Helping You Break Down The Major Differences So You Can Figure Out Which Platform Is Best For Your eCommerce Business

You’ve decided on your product, you’re about to set up your online eCommerce website, and now lies the million-dollar question.

Shopify vs WooCommerce… Which one’s really best? 

Well, the truth is, it depends. 

There’s no doubt setting up your business’ website is going to be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. That’s why choosing the right eCommerce platform that fits your business needs is crucial to your success.

In this blog, come with me as I explore how Shopify and WooCommerce compare in a battle of the eCommerce platforms. Delving into the main features of each platform so you don’t have to. 

(Woo-hoo!)

So What’s The REAL difference?

While Shopify is said to power over 800,000 online stores, WooCommerce is said to be the plugin of choice for  93.7% of WordPress stores

But they both have very different approaches.

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin that turns any WordPress website into a powerful online store. It’s an open-source platform, making it free to install and highly customisable.

Shopify is a little simpler. 

It’s a fully hosted all-in-one commerce platform that cuts out the need for technical knowledge. You only need to buy one of their available packages and you can start monetising straight away. 

1. Ease of Use

If you want a platform that cuts out the technical jargon, Shopify is the platform for you!

It takes care of the technical side and every aspect is included in your plan (such as hosting, security, domain, etc.) Plus, you don’t have to install or update any software either.

With WooCommerce, there’s a much steeper learning curve. And as it’s installed in WordPress, you need to source your own domain and hosting, plus consider other factors (like maintenance) that’ll need to be dealt with.

WINNER: Shopify

2. Cost of Running

Although Shopify is good if you want a simple website, the more complex you get, the more your monthly fees will increase. That’s why it’s more suited to smaller operations.

For more complex stores, WooCommerce is most likely a cheaper solution overall.

The software itself is free to install and with that, it’s highly customisable. Plus there’s a HUGE variety of extensions that are reasonably priced if you need them.

WINNER: WooCommerce

3. Versatility

Part of setting up an eCommerce website is making it look AMAZING!

When you buy a Shopify package, you have access to a directory of over 70 free and paid themes to choose from. Customising them is simple and it’s possible to do it without any help.

But if you want a design that’s never been seen before…

Then WooCommerce is where it’s AT.

Because WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, the sky’s your limit when it comes to customisation. And there are thousands of free and paid themes, that can be customised further with a bit of coding knowledge. Plus you can go the drag-and-drop builder route for an easier way to customise without needing to code.

WINNER: WooCommerce

4. Online Support

If you’re not techy, the amount of support available can be make or break.

Shopify is the most user-friendly of the two. It has 24/7 online support to walk you through any issues via phone, email, and live chat. Plus an enormous database of FAQs.

WooCommerce has free public assistance for individual plugins and features, and you can get dedicated support from plugin developers. However, this can make it harder to navigate and much more time-consuming.

WINNER: Shopify

5. Search Engine Optimisation

Both platforms will always help you make sure your products are appearing in front of the right people.

Shopify has a great range of SEO apps in its App Store and you can optimise your content when building your site.

But WooCommerce is much more powerful.

Because it’s part of a WordPress website, you have increased control and the ability to implement more complex SEO strategies. You’re able to install an SEO plugin (free or paid) specific to the job making it much more effective. 

WINNER: WooCommerce 

And there we go!

I hope this blog has been able to break down the five major differences I’ve found between Shopify vs WooCommerce.

If you’re thinking about setting up an eCommerce store with WooCommerce and need some friendly advice, then get in touch now. Or if you’re interested in creating a custom website, take a look at my WordPress designs to get some inspiration.

I’m a Canberra-based web developer who is always happy to help anyone who needs it!

How To Make More Money Selling Online: 5 Powerful Signs It’s Time To Move From Etsy To WordPress

A Guide To Open Your Eyes To The World of WordPress and Explain How Breaking AWAY From Etsy Might Be What You’ve Been Looking For

You poured your heart and soul into creating your online business and decided to market your products on one of the biggest small business platforms there is…

ETSY!

At the time, it was cost-effective, easy to set up, and full of promise.

But now you’ve established your foundations and you’re making a consistent monthly income, your mind is looking at how to make more money on Etsy and expand your brand.

In this blog, I want to explain to you how looking beyond Etsy can be a turning point for your business. Come with me as I delve into the power of what a WordPress website can do and the signs to look out for that mean it will be revolutionary for you and your brand.

Read on to find out more!

1. You’re Tired Of Charging Less

Do you find because there’s so much competition, you’re forced to reduce your prices to have any chance of selling?

When small brands come to me to set up their own website, this is one of the biggest things they have in common.

You want to charge the premium prices you deserve, right?!

Why WordPress: Having your own custom WordPress store means you can charge whatever you like and NOT have your listing next to your competitors.

2. You’re Done With Paying Selling Fees

Every fee you pay is potential money out of your pocket, so it’s only natural you want to keep them to a minimum.

Here’s a breakdown of Etsy’s selling fees:

  • Listing Fee: $0.20 on each product listing
  • Transaction Fee: 5% of each transaction
  • Payment Processing Fee: 3% + $0.25 per transaction

When you think about it, that’s a lot, right?

The answer of how to make more money from Etsy, could actually be weighing up the costs and deciding if it’s worth breaking away.

Why WordPress: When you build your own WordPress website many eCommerce software (like WooCommerce) don’t charge transaction fees, so you take home MORE of your profits.

WooCommerce itself is free to install. Meaning the transaction fees you pay depend on the payment integration you choose to use. For example, if you decided to take payment via Stripe, their fees are 2.9% + 30c for international transactions, or you could choose to only accept bank transfers that have zero fees.

3. You Want Your Own Brand Identity

When you list your items on Etsy, you’re listed next to your competitors with no branding to help you stand out.

That means no recognition, no familiarity, and minimal opportunity to build brand loyalty.

Why WordPress: By building your own site, you’re able to differentiate yourself from the competition and make it less likely that customers will look elsewhere. Building up a brand that stands out from the crowd.

4. You Want Your Store To Rank on Google

Building your own WordPress website means you have control of how many eyes see your products (within reason of course!)

Because the thing is, when Google displays Etsy on the first page of search results, it tends to lead to an Etsy search page, NOT an individual store or product.

What I mean is, that by using the power of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you have the power to choose the keywords you want to try and rank for. And target your ideal audience with more precision.

Why WordPress: Never underestimate the power SEO can have! WordPress gives you the opportunity to market your business effectively using the power of the web and doesn’t stunt its reach.

5. You Want To Take Control

Etsy is a company in its own right, and any shop that exists within the marketplace is under its authority.

Meaning, that as much as it’s your shop, YOU don’t have full control. If Etsy decides your product doesn’t meet their standards, they have the right to remove you and shut down your business. No questions asked!

Why WordPress: When you build your own custom website, you own the rights to your store and are no longer at the mercy of ‘the Etsy Gods’. So feel free to list what you wish and present it how YOU want to.

Is this blog inspiring you yet?

If you’ve been thinking about how to make more money on Etsy and wondering where to go, I hope I’ve opened your eyes! Helping you realise the world of opportunities a WordPress website can give you and your business.

Sure, Etsy is a great place to start and set up your business. 

But as you grow, it’s important the way you market your business does too. So if you ever think, “YES, I want to build my own customised eCommerce store” then get in touch.

I’m always happy to answer any questions about the process and provide advice!

How to Pick a Domain Name: 5 Tips and Tricks To Help You Stand Out

Your Go-To Guide To Pick A Punchy Domain Name That Will Stand The Test of Time

Choosing a domain name isn’t a big deal, right? It’s not that important…

Said no one ever!

As a business owner, choosing the right domain name is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when building your website. 

In the past you might have heard people say, “It’s fine, you can just change it later” or “if you have a good quality business, people will visit no matter what”, but the truth is, your domain is one of the key elements that make up your site.

So getting it right early on is crucial.

So, Why is Your Domain Name so Important?

First off, your domain name is your brand’s first impression.

And your URL is the first thing people will type into their browser. That’s why learning how to pick a domain name that will fit and grow with your brand is incredibly important. 

Not to mention, your choice of domain can actually affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation.) That means Google can pick up any keywords in your URL and rank you higher in the search results.

Does all this make you want to learn how to pick a domain name that supports your brand?

If the answer is YES, then keep on reading!

1. Use The Right Domain Name Extensions (.au .com .uk etc.)

According to a study from Domain Name Stat, 37% of all domains have the .com extension.

That’s because .com is a TLD (Top Level Domain) and it’s the most widely recognised domain extension.

But don’t worry if .com is not available. Country specific is good too. For example, you can clearly see as an Australian Web Developer I opted for the .com.au domain.

It’s mostly about what’s available to you and what your budget is. You can read more about it in detail in my blog post HERE.

NOTE: .org is generally for non-profit organisations. And try to avoid those uncommon extensions like “.wine” or “.pizza”

2. The Shorter, The Better

Here’s another stat for you… 

According to research by Data Genetics, the most common name length is 12 characters.

Remember, it needs to be memorable, and that’s why shorter is always better. 

Aim for around 6 to 14 characters. You might find some of the shorter domain names were taken a LONG time ago. But if you can’t find something short, then make it brandable instead.

3. Make Sure It’s Easy To Pronounce and Type

As quickly as your domain name rolls off the tips of your fingers, it should roll off the tip of your tongue!

Having a domain you can actually say aloud makes it easier for visitors to share your domain name by word-of-mouth.

If you’re unsure whether your domain is easy to pronounce, hand it to your friends and family and ask them to read it aloud. If they struggle, then you know you need to simplify it. 

4. Avoid Hyphens And Numbers

This might be obvious but hyphens and numbers generally don’t go well with domain names.

You want your brand to be one of a kind. 

NOT a variation of something else.

For example, shannon-payne-174.com.au just doesn’t look as good as shannonpayne.com.au. And it’s definitely not as memorable or easy to say, right?

5. Consider Using “Niche” Keywords That Reflect Your Website

Don’t underestimate the power of keywords in your domain name.

It can give your SEO a boost (if it’s used naturally) and it also helps people identify what you do too.

BONUS TIP: Check if it’s trademarked or already used by using THIS website.

I hope you’ve found this information useful, and you now have a better understanding of how to pick a domain name that will represent your brand and stand the test of time.

If you ever need any advice on anything website related or want to take the next step and create a custom WordPress website, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I’m always happy to answer any questions you have!

Subscribe

Save for later

9 Simple Yet Effective Ways To Optimise Your Content for Google 3-Pack SEO

A Simplified Guide To Help You Become Visible And Establish Yourself In The Local Search Results

It’s Friday night, you look in the fridge… EMPTY! “Ah-ha,” you think as you have a lightbulb moment. Reaching for your phone you start to Google…

“The tastiest takeaways near me”

Sound familiar?

Well, this is where small businesses like you could be missing out if you haven’t optimised your content for Google 3-Pack SEO! 

Google is notorious for constantly tweaking the way they show results to users. But the Google 3-pack update doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

That’s why in this blog I want to share with you nine ways you can optimise your Google 3-pack SEO, so you have a fighting chance of showing up. Ready to get learning and boost your reach?

What Actually is Google 3-Pack? 

You’ve probably noticed the three Maps results that pop up when you conduct a local search on your smartphone or desktop, right?

Well, this is Google 3-pack working its magic.

For example, if you search “takeaways near me”, Google 3-Pack displays three of the most relevant and accurate results local to you. But results are only shown if you’re a highly optimised, relevant, trustworthy business. 

We know this because, in December 2021, Google 3-Pack saw a major update where they rebalanced three of its key ranking factors. Focusing on proximity, relevance, and prominence.


This leads me to my next point.

How Can You Improve Your Google 3-Pack SEO?

Here’s the thing…

You can’t optimise specifically for Google 3-Pack.

That’s because Google 3-Pack is location-dependent, so it’s ultimately based upon where your ideal client is searching from. 

But what you CAN do is optimise your web presence in a way that’ll increase your chances of showing up and being number one. So when your ideal client does happen to be in the area searching for a business like yours, your name is there in shining lights ready for business.

How to Optimise Your Google Business Profile

1. Fill in every section of your profile 

It’s so easy to pass by a section because you don’t have the relevant information to hand. But I’m telling you, filling out every section is vital to prove to Google you’re a relevant business. 

2. Ask for customer reviews and respond within 24 hours

The more you respond to feedback, the more this shows Google you’re active, ready to show up, and are a valuable member of the community. Plus it also shows your audience you care about your customer service.

3. Optimise the business description and use keywords that are likely to be searched for

Never pass up the opportunity to strengthen your Google 3-pack SEO. What terms are people using when they search for a business like yours?

For example, for me, it’s terms like ‘WordPress Developer’, ‘WordPress Web Design’ or ‘Canberra-based Web Developer.’

4. Encourage people to ask questions and respond promptly

Like above, it shows Google you’re a valuable member of the community and ready to reach out to your customers.

5. Upload new photos weekly if possible

Utilising every form of content Google offers is a great way to increase your chances of coming up trumps when using Google 3-pack. 

6. Make sure your content is accurate and consistent 

When Google crawls your content, it takes note of how consistent your business is. In other words, the more accurate your messaging is, the more likely you’re seen as trustworthy.

7. Try to get locally relevant backlinks 

Backlinks are links from a page on one website to another. If someone links to your site, then you have a backlink from them. It basically says to Google your content is valuable and worth reading.

8. Build a strong presence on social media 

Although social media doesn’t affect your Google 3-pack SEO directly, it can help with your organic rankings. You can leverage social media to direct traffic to your website and boost visibility. 

9. Improve your websites user experience

A huge part of SEO is how your website actually works when a user is navigating it. The easier it is to use and the more relevant the content, the more likely you are to rank higher.

And that’s a wrap! 

I really hope this guide has helped simplify things down for you and taught you a few simple tips you can leverage to help boost your Google 3-pack SEO. 

If you have questions about your Google Business Profile or need some help setting it up for your business, get in touch HERE. I’d be more than happy to help you out and give you some trustworthy, professional advice.

So tell me, which tips will you be using first?

Subscribe

Save for later

Your WordPress Website Security: The 2 Most Effective Ways To NOT Get Hacked

There’s No ‘Right’ Way To Prevent A WordPress Attack, But There Are Some Steps That Will Make It Much Less Likely

Did you know, according to Manaferra, the number of WordPress websites in 2022 was a staggering 835 million?

That’s insane, right! 

And because of its ever-growing popularity, WordPress has become a prime target for hackers. 

That’s why now it’s more important than EVER to think about your WordPress website security. 

In this blog, I want to share with you the two biggest reasons why WordPress website security gets compromised. And how YOU can put effective measures in place to make sure you’re not in the firing line for a malicious attack.

How And Why Do Hacks Happen?

When you’re a small business, it’s common to think you’re not are at risk of being hacked –

“Why would I get hacked? I’m a small fish in a big sea.”

But for that EXACT same reason, you’re more vulnerable to attackers.

Let’s think about it like this: Your defenses are down. You’re unprepared. And you’re vulnerable to a break-in. If you were a novice cyber hacker, why wouldn’t you attack? It’s almost set up to make the job as easy as possible.

And it’s not just about money either. 

Each hacker has a different motive to hack a website. 

Some are beginners who are learning to exploit less secure sites. Some have malicious intentions like distributing malware or using your site to attack other websites. And others just like to spam the internet for fun!

STORYTIME: The first hacked site I fixed was hacked from enjoyment. I looked up their email and found out there’s such thing as a ‘hackers scoreboard’. For hackers who compete against each other to break records! 🤯

What Are The Most Effective Measures You Can Put in Place?

1. Your Web Hosting 

Web hosting services work by maintaining stable and secure storage spaces where you can ‘host’ your website. 

Your WordPress website security might be more vulnerable if you have a shared hosting plan. 

Shared hosting is where multiple websites are hosted on one server. For example, like putting your jacket in a paid cloakroom.

Hackers can potentially use other sites on the same server to gain access to yours. Just like a person could easily pick up your jacket when ‘looking’ for theirs.

When choosing a hosting provider, make sure to check what security measures they have, how they monitor their server network, and how they respond to any security breaches.

Dedicated hosting is the most secure option but that comes with a hefty price tag. 

And for most sites, that’s not necessary. 

Which leads me to my next point…

2. Making Time For Regular Maintenance 

According to the 2019 Website Threat Research Report, it was reported that 56% of all content management system applications were out of date when a hack happened!

This statement alone shows the importance of updating your website. 

Using an outdated plugin or theme can make your site extremely vulnerable. Because many of these tools are created as open-source software programs, meaning their code is easily accessible and therefore… 

Easily hacked! 

Plugin developers are constantly working on their plugins not only releasing new features but patching potential security breaches to protect your website from being hacked. 

So yes, this is your reminder to always make sure your content management system, plugins, themes, and any scripts you’ve installed are up-to-date. 

How Do I Secure My Website If I’m Not Techy?

So you’re reading this thinking  – 

“Sure, this is all good info. But how do I actually make it happen?”

Then look no further, my friends! If you haven’t got a tech expert you go to already, I encourage you to consider my website maintenance packages

I created them especially to keep your WordPress website security up to date and as reliable as can be. So your websites are MUCH less likely to encounter any of those pesky hackers. 

If you are looking at self-maintenance and hosting, get in touch

I’d be happy to guide you on your way and give you any advice you might need.

Google Universal Analytics is Shutting Shop: All You Need to Know in 10 Mins

A Guide To Shed Light on What Google Has In-Store and How You Can Prepare For The Introduction of Google Analytics 4

📣 Have you heard the BIG news, my friends?!

On 1 July 2023, Google Universal Analytics will STOP processing new hits and make way for the new kid on the block.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

You might be thinking… “2023! That’s ages away.”

But if you’re still relying on Universal Analytics and want a smooth transition to Google Analytics 4, then you’d better get a move on. 

Why do you ask? 

Because it takes time to collect data. Especially if you’re starting from the bottom up. If you’re proactive and start recording data now, you won’t have to start from scratch next year and that’s huge.

Read below to see how you can get started and make your transition as smooth as butter.

How Do Google Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 compare?

Now, let’s go back to basics for a minute. 

Google Analytics is a tool that is used by almost 30 million websites in an effort to understand user behaviour and create an optimal user experience.

Google Universal Analytics is a version of Google Analytics that was created in 2012 to set a new standard for how user data is collected and organised. Its main job was to provide new tracking codes for websites and features that can more accurately measure user behaviour.

GA4 is not an upgrade to Google Universal Analytics, but actually a different version of Google Analytics that works on event-driven-based models. 

Events are triggered as users interact with your site or app. For example, someone visiting your page or clicking a button to perform an action. You simply create an event for your chosen activity, add the parameters to describe the event, and let GA4 work its magic.

What Does This Mean For Your Data?

Well, it means you can continue to use and collect new data in your Universal Analytics properties until 1 July 2023. 

But after the cut-off date, your Google Universal Analytics properties will become read-only.

In other words, you’ll still be able to access the data, export it, and make configuration changes. But from July onwards, there’s no further data collection. So it’s best to try and gather as much information as possible until July 1st so you’re not left in the dark. 

Also, if you haven’t gotten up and running with GA4, I recommend starting NOW.

This gives you time to get used to the new software and start collecting data before transferring over completely.

How Should You Prepare For The Big Move?

Like all relocations, it’s best to get organised and familiar before you dive in

Here are 4 tips I highly recommend to get started and feel confident about the move:

  1. Document all your existing tracking in Google Universal Analytics
  2. Take a step back, look at your business model, and think strategically about what you need to measure to get the best results
  3. Plan out your event naming classification in Google Analytics 4 and take advantage of their new structure
  4. Look into training for yourself and any other people you work with so you can get the most out of GA4

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see the new innovative benefits GA4 will provide in today’s mobile-optimised environment. And while Universal Analytics will continue to be available to users, it’s going to be imperative for both to be set up and run parallel to get the most out of the experience. 

I hope this blog has given you a better understanding of what’s coming on July 1st, 2023 and shed some light on what you can do to get ahead in time for the deadline! 

What do you think of the new announcement? 

If you have questions or want some support and professional advice, get in contact now. I’m always happy to help. 💌

WordPress vs Squarespace: How To Successfully Create Your Own Custom Website

Deep Dive Into Two of the Most Popular Website Building Platforms to Find out Which One Will Work for You

Congratulations! 🎉 You’ve decided you want to create your own custom website, you’ve conducted the research, and now you’ve narrowed it down to two options…

WordPress.org vs Squarespace.

They’re both super well-known platforms and power MILLIONS of websites each. But both have major differences that may or may not work for you depending on what you’re looking for. So, which one’s for you?

Well, that’s a complicated question.

The best platform for you comes down to what you *really* need, so it’s important to understand what they offer before making a decision. 

In this blog, I’m going to give you the low down of each platform so you can make an informed choice about which one is best for you and your company to create your own custom website. Ready to start the comparison?

Then let’s begin!

1. Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is the process of your website gaining visibility in search engine results pages.

Squarespace has SEO tools inbuilt so it saves the process of learning how it all works, BUT you don’t get anywhere near the level of optimisation available from WordPress.

Being self-hosted, WordPress gives you full control over your SEO setup. And with a wide array of plugins, you can do almost anything you need for SEO. Including being able to determine your site speed with the freedom to choose your own hosting provider.

Squarespace can be expanded if you have coding knowledge. But compared to WordPress, you’re still limited with what you can do.

Winner: WordPress

2. Cyber Security

Due to Squarespace being self-hosted, your website’s security is the responsibility of the company. 

So for those of you who want to set up your site and have minimal maintenance, Squarespace is for you!

WordPress is a different story…

How secure your website is, comes down to how well your site is maintained. One of the BIGGEST reasons WordPress websites get hacked is because of out-of-date plugins. 

Regular updates are a must! But that’s not the only thing you need to think about when it comes to WordPress security. The following also need to be considered:

  • Installing security plugins
  • Using a content delivery network 
  • Choosing a reputable host

TOP TIP: Remember to take regular backups of your site, so if something does go wrong, you’ll be able to restore your website quickly.

Winner: Squarespace

3. Pricing and Subscriptions

It’s that classic question: Which one’s cheaper?

Well, did you know WordPress.org is free? 

However, to have a website you need to invest in hosting and a domain yourself. Domains are generally around 15 to 20 AUD per year, and hosting can be from as little as 2 AUD a month. 

But it can vary greatly depending on which company you choose to go with.


While Squarespace has a very clear pricing plan.

Although not the cheapest, it’s paid monthly or annually and their rates start from around 16 AUD a month. So it’s easy to see how much it will *actually* cost per year to run your site.

Winner: WordPress

4. Design and Flexibility

WordPress and Squarespace have a HUGE variety of themes available both paid and free.

Squarespace falls short with its flexibility. 

Sure, Squarespace templates are beautiful, but you also run the risk of your website looking like it’s just come off the shelf. Lacking its own originality and flare.

While WordPress has the added option of custom design. 

Through coding, access to plugins (software add-ons that allow for customisation of your site), and its virtually unlimited options, you can create your own custom website that’s truly one of a kind.

Winner: WordPress

5. eCommerce

Squarespace offers a practical and easy online shopping setup.

You can easily insert a product page, control your inventory, add product variations, AND manage shipping options.

However, it can be costly, with an increased eCommerce subscription and commission on sales through the site.

While with WordPress, you can create your own custom website and turn it into an eCommerce store with the click of a button. Well… You need to install a free plugin such as WooCommerce, but it’s super easy!

At first, WooCommerce might be difficult to navigate (if not a little overwhelming)

But if you can spare a bit of time and figure it out, it’s a powerful, customisable open-source platform that offers even MORE functionality than Squarespace.

(AND more than Shopify, but that’s a blog for another day 😉)

Winner: Draw!

6. Ownership of Content 

So, who owns what and what can you actually do with your content?

When you set up a website with WordPress, you’re in control of your data.

Meaning it belongs to you and only you! Content that you put on your website can be exported and used anywhere without worry of interference.

A Squarespace site is at the mercy of Squarespace gods! 

They’re the middle man and you don’t technically own your site. So, if you set up a Squarespace site, be prepared for the eye-watering possibility of losing ALL your content. 

NOTE: It is possible to download Squarespace content if you’re tech-savvy and not afraid of a manual task.

Winner: WordPress

7. Customer Support

When you’re with Squarespace or WordPress, you’ll NEVER feel alone.

With every subscription they offer, Squarespace comes with dedicated personal email support, live chat, and a HUGE array of tutorials on hand to help you with any questions.

While WordPress has a big community of resources and tutorials. 

And although WordPress doesn’t have a specific support line, they DO have support for each theme, plugin, and builder. 

The downside is that you need to know who and where to ask for help, which is where it can get a bit technical.

Winner: Draw!

8. The Verdict

Now, I want you to ask yourself a question.

Rather than focusing on what website you want now, ask yourself this: 

“What kind of website do I want 5 years from now?”

If you have minimal needs and crave a website you can ‘lock up and leave’ then Squarespace is going to be the platform for you. But if you want to create your own custom website and have big plans for expansions and development, then WordPress is going to be your best bet.

Now tell me, are you team WordPress or team Squarespace?

If you’re sitting there thinking, “I still don’t know!” or need help deciding whether WordPress is for you, then don’t worry. There are people out there who can give you professional, trustworthy advice… Like me! 😉

As a Canberra web designer, I’m here to help you create your own custom website and lead along the way! Head over to my Web Design and Development page to learn more and if you have any questions get in touch now.

.au domains are here! Everything you need to know!

Attention Australian Business Owners! Did you hear the news? As of 24th March 2022 you can register for .au domain names.

.au is a brand new domain extension available to any individual, business or organisation that has a connection to Australia. So if you own yummytacos.com.au you can register for yummytacos.au.

.au domains are being marketed as short, sweet, memorable and Australian. Which is great, but what’s more important to me personally is securing a domain that protects my business and brand.

Now I’m sure you’ve got the same questions I had, so I’ve laid out some answers below.

Am I eligible for a .au domain?

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident or have a business/organisation registered in Australia, then yes.

The auDA website state the only requirement to register for a .au is…

A Person applying for a licence in the .au direct namespace must have an Australian presence and.au direct domain names will be allocated according to the Priority allocation process set out in the .au Direct Priority Rules. 

https://www.auda.org.au/policy/au-domain-administration-rules-licensing

Meaning it’s available to more people. The other domain extensions have more requirements, for example to register a .com.au domain you need to be a registered business or company and your domain needs to be directly related to your business.

You can read the all the .au domains’ eligibility requirements here.

Do I need to buy a .au domain?

Nope you don’t, but I would suggest you seriously consider it. If you don’t secure it for yourself then you run the risk of someone else grabbing it. I don’t know about you but I’d be pretty annoyed if someone else bought my domain and started stealing a chunk of my online traffic.

VentraIP makes it a bit of a no brainer as they are offering first year registration for $8.67/year.

Can I keep my existing domain if I purchase a .au?

Yes you can, and I would recommend you hold onto it as well.

How do I register for a .au domain?

You will have 6 months to register for Priority Status from 24 March 2022 to 20 September 2022. During this period anyone can apply for the .au domain at the end of that period if you are the only register then it is yours. In the event of multiple people registering for the same domain auDA has a full Priority Allocation Process outlined (or read the next question 😉 ).

There are a number of online providers you can register through and prices will vary, I would recommend either of the following two.

If you already have your domains registered with either of these providers, the next time you login you will likely be prompted to register your interest.

When you register for your domain you will need a Priority Register Token that you can get from here.

What if someone else wants the same domain as me?

There are 3 potential scenarios on how this can play out.

First you need to know the difference between Category 1 and Category 2 applicants.

  • Category 1: Your domain was registered BEFORE the Priority Status cut-off date of 4 February 2018.
  • Category 2: Your domain was registered AFTER the Priority Status cut off date of 4 February 2018.

So the 3 potential scenarios…

1. There are both Category 1 and Category 2 applicants

This is simple, Category 1 applicants have priority and will be allocated the domain over Category 2.

Example

  • Sally bought yummytacos.com.au on 1 January 2015
  • Bob bought yummytacos.net.au on 1 January 2021

Sally will have priority to register for yummytacos.au as she purchased her domain before 4 February 2018.

2. There are multiple Category 1 applicants

This is where it gets complex, if multiple Category 1 applicants register then they must agree amongst themselves who gets it. If they cannot come to an agreement then the domain will remain unregistered until an agreement has been made.

Example

  • Sally bought yummytacos.com.au on 1 January 2015
  • Bob bought yummytacos.net.au on 1 January 2016

Sally and Bob will need to negotiate amongst themselves about who will register the .au domain. If they cannot come to an agreement then the .au will stay unregistered. Every year they will need to renew their application until there is only a single application.

3. There are multiple Category 2 applicants

This is again straight forward, if multiple Category 2 applicants register then it will be allocated to whoever registered their domain first.

Example

  • Sally bought yummytacos.com.au on 1 January 2021
  • Bob bought yummytacos.net.au on 2 January 2021

Sally will be allocated yummytacos.au as her domain was registered before Bob’s.

The auDA has outlined the full Priority Allocation Process you can read all about it on their website, and if you’re unsure of what category you are you can check using the Priority Status Tool.

Where can I read more about .au domains?

If you want to read up more than my summary then check out the following resources.

auDA Website – the Godfather of Aussie domains

Afilias – official auDA partner

Google Domains

VentraIP – domain registrar

If you’re on the fence about whether to register for a .au domain I’d say go for it and then reassess down the track. If you want to talk it out with someone then send me a message to discuss.

Is .com or .com.au Better for My Australian Business Domain?

It’s a question I asked myself when I first started, and if I’m being honest I agonised over it for hours, days… weeks! It seems like such a simple question… but it’s not. There are so many different factors to consider when choosing the right domain extension for your business. 

Now looking at my domain I clearly went with .com.au, but it wasn’t my first choice. I actually juuuust missed out on the .com version… but I’m not going to go into that now, it’s a long story I’ll save for another time.

Everyone you speak to will have a different opinion on whether you should be using .com or .com.au for your Australian based business. But it really does depend on you, your business and your business goals.

Before we dive into that we should look at exactly what .com and .com.au are, so let’s start there!

What is .com and .com.au?

.com

.com is a TLD (Top Level Domain) and it’s the most widely recognised domain extension. It was first added in 1985 and it is derived from the word ‘commercial’. This domain extension is one of the original TLDs, the others are .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, .org and .int.

.com.au

.com.au is a ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) and is allocated for Australian businesses. There are some rules that apply to owning a .com.au domain. But generally speaking, as long as you have an ABN (Australian Business Number) you can apply for a .com.au for 1-5 years.

Ok so now that we know the difference between them, it’s time to start thinking about what option is best suited for your business. 

I’ve condensed it down to 4 important factors for you to consider when choosing your domain. They are; where your business and target market are located, if you have plans to scale internationally, is it available to buy and what your budget is. 

Where is your business based and where is your target market located?

If you answered Australia to that, then that’s the first sign you should be using a .com.au domain, this is for two reasons:

Trust and Familiarity

Using .com.au immediately identifies you as an Australian business. I have seen countless discussions in business groups with people saying that when they see .com.au it instils a sense of trust. Not only that, but more and more now people are wanting to support local business, this immediately identifies you as an Australian business as you can’t actually own a .com.au domain without an ABN.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

As mentioned above .com.au is a ccTLD, and that provides an extra layer of information for search engines to use as a ranking factor for your website. For example, if you are in Ireland and you search for ‘best hairdresser in Dublin’ it is highly unlikely you will see any results with a .com.au domain. Google has crawled through all websites and has determined that a hairdresser in Australia with a .com.au domain is not a relevant search result for someone in Dublin, Ireland looking for a hairdresser. Since you need an ABN to register a .com.au, search engines can be confident that the only people using .com.au domains are Australian businesses.

Do you currently or in the future offer your services globally?

If the answer is yes, then you should seriously be considering .com.

We covered earlier that it is unlikely for a .com.au domain to be found in another country, .com being one of the original TLDs has a huge amount of power worldwide and has a higher chance of appearing in search engines results worldwide.

Is .com available?

Given its popularity, it is harder to find .com domains that are available to purchase. If you have decided on your business name and you search for the .com and it is not available, well then I guess your decision has been made for you.

You can easily search for domain availability online, my preferred website is GoDaddy to purchase domains and they have an easy Domain Availability Search.

What is your budget?

There are a lot of people out there who make a lot of money from buying and selling domains. To give you an idea of how much money I’m talking about, just while writing this blog post I went to Google Domains and searched for prettywebsites.com

$5000!!!!!

I know what you’re thinking though why would you pay $5000 for a domain. Two words (or acronyms) SEO and ROI.

SEO

If someone went to Google and searched ‘pretty website’, there is a high chance your website would appear on page one of the search results.

ROI

That little SEO boost you got, all you would need to do is sell 1-2 websites to make back the investment. 

Now let’s search for the .com.au variation of this.

Much more affordable right? Couple reasons for that, first being to own .com.au you need to have an ABN. According to abs.gov.au as of June 2021 there were approximately 2.4 million active businesses in Australia. That means 2.4 million businesses are allowed to buy this domain, versus .com which is available to everyone and with the current world population close to hitting 8 billion well you can see you’ve got a bit more competition.

Now the second reason, we’re going back to local SEO. Yes it’s still a valuable domain, but it’s only really valuable to you if you have an Australian business or are doing business in Australia.

So those are the things you should be considering when choosing a domain; where you are located, where your clients are located, your future plans for scaling, domain availability and your budget.

What would I do if both were available and both were reasonably priced? Buy both! Why wouldn’t you? 

If you’re still unsure of what is the best option for you and your business I’m happy to chat it through with you. Get in touch via my contact page.

Subscribe

Save for later

5 Ways to Speed up Your WordPress Website and Increase Conversion

Having a fast website is crucial to the success of your website. It impacts user experience, search engine optimisation and conversion rate.

How annoying is it when you visit a website and you sit there staring at a blank screen waiting for it to load? Poor user experience is a big no-no with websites. Google did a study in 2017 that found that as page load time went from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increased by 32%!

Following on from that, Google have stated on their website that speed is now a ranking factor for search engine optimisation. I don’t care how amazing your website is, Google have literally said they aren’t going to be sending people your way if your website is too slow.

Slow websites also have an impact on conversion rate and this doesn’t only apply to small businesses. The BBC reported that for every extra second that it took their website to load they were losing 10% of their traffic!

Okay, I’ve made my point, we can all agree that speed matters. But the thing is most people are not aware of what the speed of their website is, or how they can improve. I’m here to change that with my top 5 tips on how to increase website speed.

Image Optimisation

Who doesn’t want to spruce up their website with nice pictures to look at, it would get a bit boring if it was only text.

Yet, one of the biggest causes of a slow website is images. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them (I mean I use them), it just means you need to be smart about what you use.

Optimisation is key, I optimise EVERYTHING before upload, those KBS add up. An example of this was a previous client I had who hired me to speed up her website, one of the first things I looked at was the images. She didn’t have a lot on her website but the files were huge!

By following a few simple steps I was able to reduce the image size from 40MB to 3.4MB… that was only 20 images!
Want to know the steps I used to optimise the images for her website? Read the steps outlined below.

Tips for Image Optimisation

  1. Crop to correct dimensions
    If you want to load up a fabulous photo of yourself to put on your about page, and it’s going to be 400×600 pixels. Please tell me why you would upload an image that is 2000×3000 pixels? That’s a whole lot of pixels for no reason. I use Resize Image which is a free Windows App, but you can use whatever software you’re comfortable with. Some free online options are Canva, or https://resizeimage.net/
  2. Run through TinyPNG
    Once your image is cropped to the correct dimensions you want to give it a little boost by compressing the image. Enter TinyPNG. TinyPNG compresses your image without losing the Image Quality.
  3. BONUS: Give the image file an SEO friendly name
    While this has no effect on your site speed it’s an important step you should take when uploading images to your website. Make sure you are naming all images with optimised titles before upload. For example, if you are uploading an image of a pink dress rather than keep the image file as IMG_444.jpg you want to call it exactly what it is pink-dress.jpg

Use a Good Web Host

Cheap hosting is the best option for my website performance… said no one ever. I get it, $1/month hosting sounds pretty amazing right? But for what you save in money you are losing in site performance, I’m sure there are exceptions to this… I mean I don’t know any but if you do send them my way, please.

See below for examples of real client sites before and after migrating their website to a better hosting provider.

What’s a good web host? Well, I love and use Cloudways and I recommend them to everyone. I don’t want this to turn into an ‘I love Cloudways‘ post, but honestly, they’re great.

They keep my website and my client’s websites safe, secure, speedy and as an added bonus their support is top-notch!

Install a Caching/Speed Plugin

Cache is the process of storing temporary data for a website, browser, app etc. This is important for websites because rather than loading a page fresh for every time someone new visits your website, caching skips that step and will show visitors a ‘copy’ of a previously loaded screen and as such reduces the load time for a visitor.

Caching plugins are powerful, they give you the ability to control dozens of different settings and as each website is different, each website needs to have different settings configured for it.

Enter my preferred caching plugins:

W3 Total Cache – FREE
WP Rocket – PAID

Install a CDN

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) speeds up the delivery of content to a website visitor, by using a network of geographically distributed servers. What this means is that if your host server is located in Sydney, Australia and someone is accessing it from the US, rather than the data travelling all the way from Sydney, a CDN can deliver that data from somewhere closer in the US.

CDNs are not only good for site speed, they are also an extra layer of security for your website. My preferred CDN is Cloudflare, they have both free and paid plans available.

Regularly check your website

Websites need ongoing maintenance and if you follow the steps above you’re off to a good start. However, it’s worth your time to run your website through tools such as GT Metrix and Page Speed Insights so you can see how your website is performing and where it can be improved.

Having a fast website is crucial to your visitor’s user experience, search engine optimisation and of course conversion rate. Does your site need speeding up? I offer Site Speed Audits to get you started, or if you’re looking for ongoing site management check out my WordPress Care Plans.

Subscribe

Save for later

Is Website Maintenance Important? The Answer Is Yes, Here’s Why!

You’ve got your flashy new website, you’ve hit the publish button, and you let it go off into the big World Wide Web. It’s an exciting time… but that’s not the end of the story.

Many people are not aware that there are ongoing costs involved with owning a website.

Think of a website like a pot plant. If you’ve ever bought a plant, you know that it needs to be cared for. You need to water it regularly, keep bugs away and make sure it’s in a safe environment to flourish. A website is much the same, you need to update plugins, themes and core regularly, you need to run security checks to prevent the website from being hacked and you need to keep it in a fast secure environment. Your website needs to be properly cared for so that it can represent your business in the best light possible.

Do you want to be a bad plant/website parent? No!

Plant analogy aside, I’ve listed 5 reasons below as to why you need to give your website regular maintenance.

1. Hacked website? No thanks! 

The number one reason to maintain your website is to decrease the chance of your website being hacked. Not having an up to date website is one of the main reasons websites get hacked. This includes updating your plugins, themes and core. On top of that regular security scans are vital to identifying any potential risks to your website. When looking for a maintenance plan it’s important to check they offer security scans and regular updates.

2. Google will be your best friend

Google loves fresh content, it loves safe websites, it loves fast websites. Regular maintenance of your website means you can keep it up to date and keep it safe, and that will keep Google happy. As a business owner, it is so important to keep a good relationship with Google, if you neglect your website and worse comes to worst Google can, and will, blacklist you.

3. Keep customers, don’t scare them away!

Ever been to a website and it’s slow to load, pictures aren’t appearing, there are broken links and suddenly you’re on a 404 error page. Yikes. Not pretty! Website maintenance means you can avoid these scenarios and keep your customers on your website rather than having them running for the hills.

4. Your website will never disappear!

Well, it’s unlikely and if it does it won’t be permanent. Regular website backups are a vital part of choosing a website maintenance plan. On the off chance that something does happen to your website; it gets hacked or your content gets deleted. Regular backups mean that if the worse does happen then you can restore your website pronto!

5. Value for money 

When you think about website maintenance do you cringe? Does it take up way too much of your time? Time, that you could be spending running your business. By purchasing a website maintenance plan you are handing the reins over to an expert. Their job is to look after your website, keep it safe, keep it running smoothly AND even better if something does go wrong you know it’s in safe hands!

Have I convinced you? Website maintenance is such an important (if not the most important) part of having a website. 

If you’re sitting there thinking “Where the hell do I start?!?!” don’t worry, there are people out there who can look after your site for you… like me!

Head over to my Hosting and Care Plan page to learn more and if you have any questions get in touch!

Subscribe!

Save for later!

Custom 404 Page? What is it and why you need one… like yesterday!

Ever clicked on a link or mistyped a web address and suddenly you’re faced with “404 Error – Page Not Found?” Accompanied by a complicated message explaining the error or just a blank space?

It’s enough to make your eyes glaze over, fall asleep and next minute you’ve exited the page and turned on Netflix… or something along those lines!

What many people don’t realise is that a 404 page is prime real estate! It’s an opportunity to turn website deserters into potential leads.

Continue reading to find out what exactly a 404 page is and why without a custom 404 page you are missing out on this opportunity!

What exactly is a 404 page?

A 404 page is also know as an error page, it’s the page that lets a user know that the page they requested does not exist. That could be due to a broken link, a deleted web page or just a typo.

The message only appears when the browser was able to connect with the server, but the server could not find what it was looking for.

“If it was able to connect to a server how come it couldn’t find what it was looking for?” I hear you say.

First let’s look at basic URL structure…I’ll use my domain as an example www.shannonpayne.com.au/contact There are 2 components to this

  • the Domain Name
  • the Path

The Domain Name is “www.shannonpayne.com.au” and the Path is “/contact”
The Domain Name is how a browser connects to the server, it is your unique address.
The Path is what leads a visitor to a certain page stored within the server.

For example if you were to mistype the Path: www.shannonpayne.com.au/conact this would connect to the server however as the page “conact” does not exist this is when you would get a 404 Error Page Not Found message.

On the other hand if you were to mistype the domain name: www.shannonayne.com.au/contact you would get a broken link or you might even end up on a completely different website.

Mistyped Domain Name = broken link or different website
Mistyped Path = 404 page

Asides from accidental typos when trying to visit a website, sometimes you can unintentionally click on a broken link. This could be due to a typo on the website itself, or a discontinued product or a page that was once deleted.

By clicking on these broken links, again you will be redirected to the 404 page for that website.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “why don’t you remove all broken links” or “just be careful when typing in a URL”, and yes I agree 100% that should be done, and it’s something that most good web developers should be doing. However at times there can be links that are missed, another website might be linking to a blog post on your website that is now deleted and sometimes it just comes down to human error.

The point is, a 404 page is important and that’s why you should be taking advantage of the prime real estate it offers.

Enter “Custom 404 Page”

A Custom 404 Page is just that, it’s a 404 page that has been customised for your website.Instead of visitors getting a generic 404 page they can get an on brand page with a clear call-to-action (CTA) and reduce the chance of a lost client/customer.Must haves for a custom 404 page

  • “404” message – well duh, just because you can add a CTA doesn’t mean you should forget the reason people have ended up here. Let them know they have ended up on the wrong page, but not to worry you’ll help them find their way.
  • a search bar, ‘return to home’ button or sitemap – give visitors the chance to be able to search for what they were looking for, return to home or use the sitemap for guidance to continue on their way.
  • and last but not least… a CALL-TO-ACTION! …pretty self explanatory

I also want to make the point that this isn’t an opportunity for you to throw ten thousand products into a site visitors face, no – don’t do that! A 404 page still needs to send a message that the site visitor did not end up on their intended page, but you can definitely give them encouragement to head towards your latest blog post, or a new product you are trying to sell.

Ideas for CTAs you can put on your custom 404 page.

  • Direct visitors to your latest product or store.
  • A link to your services page.
  • Links to your latest blog post, if you want more traffic on the latest blog post.
  • An email opt-in to sign up for your newsletter.
  • A free download.

Whatever it is limit it to 1 (maybe 2) you don’t need to overwhelm your visitors. Imagine it… a 404 message, a search bar and a clear CTA all wrapped up in your awesome branding and you’re guaranteed to keep visitors on your website.

Have fun with it!

The best part about having a custom 404 page is that you can have a bit of fun with it!

Check out some of these companies’ custom 404 pages here.

Disney

Disney’s 404 page is simple and to the point, but it stays on brand with a bit of humour.

View it here: https://www.disney.com.au/404

BluePath

BluePath is a Data Strategy Company, they are on brand and showcase what they do by showing a map of reported crimes in Atlanta but then they also inflict humour at the end.

View it here: https://path.blue/404/

Marvel

Marvel keeps their 404 page theme as well, they have multiple screens so that each time you visit the page it will generate a new character. Head to their site and see what you get!

View it here: https://www.marvel.com/404

Steve Lambert

I love Steve Lambert’s, it’s so uncomfortable and awkward – but it works for his brand. Along with the big headline announcing it is the “most awkward 404 not found page on the internet” there is a video that goes for a few minutes (I think I tapped out at about 30 seconds), just telling you how awkward this is for you.

View it here: https://visitsteve.com/404

Omelet

Omelet is a creative company and it shows on their 404 page. I had to give them a mention for their egg pun… I love puns and you should too! Keeping on brand there is another effect that happens when you scroll on the page… go check it out!

View it here: https://www.omelet.com/error

Pixar

Like Disney, the Pixar website delivers a clear message but they stay on brand.

View it here: https://www.pixar.com/404

Car Wow

The last one I’ll share is from a car buying website in the UK. In addition to delivering a call to action they also have a fun interactive game for you to play! You can give it a go here.

View it here: https://www.carwow.co.uk/404page

As you can see, you can have a lot of fun with a custom 404 page, gone are the days of boring 404: Page Not Found messages. It’s time to win back site visitors and keep them on your website.

Have you come across a cool custom 404 page while browsing the internet, I’d love to check it out so share it in the comments.

Or if you’re interested in having your own custom 404 page, head to my contact page and send me a message!

Subscribe

Save for later!