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By Mistie Smith

The Fall is a great time to embrace any change that comes your way. The leaves are changing colors, the temperatures are dropping and the MLB playoffs are in full swing. Yep. Anything can happen.

Case and point…a roundabout traffic circle just opened as an interstate interchange near my house. Yeah I know right? My first thought when construction started was a flashback to the movie European Vacation; you know, when Chevy Chase aka Clark Griswold was stuck in the traffic circle in London. “There’s Big Ben kids! There’s Parliament.” There was no way this was going to work here. But the DOT went with it and it opened a few weeks ago. There were Facebook posts of drone footage of this thing all over the place. I guess they were meant to prepare any traveler near and far of the traffic flow change. This was a big deal but to me it looked scary and I was super dubious. I avoided it like the plague.

Enter my favorite Yankee. He was visiting the area and had no idea of the newness and absurdity of the roundabout. I mean he thought it was different but unlike me, he was fearless. So in the late hours of a Fall night, he took me through the roundabout. Not just once but on two different occasions. My reaction was “that’s it? that’s the whole thing?” I really thought it would be bigger (the drone footage made it look huge) and I expected nothing short of chaos and a slew of confused drivers circling aimlessly in search of their exit. Granted it was late at night but still. I had been afraid for no reason. For one Fall night, my hero was a Yankee. His bravery reiterated that we need to welcome change and have no fear of the unknown.

Not everyone likes change. I admit I was never a big fan of it until recently. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you view it, the last two years of my life have kicked my ass and dragged me onto the change advocate bandwagon. I’ve learned that the more you resist change, the harder it is to move forward. You can get lost in the outdated thought processes and mindsets. Progress happens with or without you and the past is just a place that can bring you down if you stay there long enough.

The same goes for technology. Businesses get caught up with antiquated websites and ineffective digital marketing strategies mainly because it can be overwhelming trying to navigate through the most current best practices. As a result, no action is taken and you’re stuck months or even years later with the same old same old. Newsflash y’all. What worked before doesn’t work now. Algorithms change and new trends occur daily. In fact, your web presence can actually be harmed by some of the older methods.

In order to move forward, here’s a few rules of thumb:

  1. If your website was built and/or updated before 2014 then you most likely need a new one. At least test it to see if it is showing as mobile friendly to Google and consider a fresh new design. There’s really nothing more frustrating than pulling up a website on your phone and having to zoom in just to read the information. With all the technology available today it’s really unacceptable for a site not to be at least mobile friendly. This just screams “I don’t care about my online customers!”. True story.

  2. If your site uses the same word over one hundred times just because you think it helps in a keyword search then you need to fire your content person. If you’re the one doing it then fire yourself and let a reputable and knowledgeable consultant come in to help you. And by the way, notice I didn’t recommend an SEO expert. That was on purpose. Do your research on anyone who claims they can guarantee your website will be on the front page of a Google search. In fact if anyone says that to you run for the hills! They will only take your money and ruin your web presence. Those days are gone however there are still plenty of companies out there that are peddling that same old claim. Which leads me to this…

  3. Sales should always be the top goal for any third party helping you drive traffic to your site. My favorite saying (that I made up by the way) is “Do you want 1000 website visitors and no buyers or 10 website visitors and 10 buyers?”. Quality over quantity wins out every time. And that’s the thing. Next time you’re chatting up an “SEO expert” ask them their number one objective. If they say “drive sales”, ask them to marry you. Ok, not marry per se, but ask about their packages and rates. They could potentially be a keeper. A lot of companies buy clicks in order to look like a lot of people are visiting your site. And while they kinda are, they for sure aren’t going to buy anything. In fact they aren’t going to stay on your site long at all. Which segues into my next rule…

  4. An 80% bounce rate isn’t a good thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. A bounce rate is how quickly a visitor leaves your site. So let’s say someone hits your site and stays like 3.6 seconds and bounces off (hence bounce rate). That tells the super smart Google algorithm people that your site wasn’t the end all be all to keep a visitor engaged. While a certain amount of bounces will happen, a lot of bounces can penalize your site. To make matters worse, these click farm people generally aren’t people at all. They’re bots that are programmed to hit your site as often as possible so that the “SEO expert” can say “but look! 12,000 people visited your site in 2 days!”. As much as I would love to say this doesn’t happen any more, I truly can’t. I’ve seen it as recently as a few months ago. And by the way, those bots for reals ain’t buying. They are bouncing like a kid at a trampoline park.

  5. The best way to drive traffic and build your web presence is by building your brand and creating original and unique content to grab attention and keep people engaged. Please don’t “borrow” content to make it look like your own. And don’t be shady because the super smart Google algorithm people referenced above will catch that too. They are out there creeping your websites and looking for the new sketchy workarounds people are using in order to beat the algorithm. You will get caught and worst case scenario your online presence is shot to hell. Seriously…don’t be that person.

David Bowie summed it up quite nicely for us. “Ch-ch-ch-ch changes….turn and face the strain”. As much as change can be painful, it really is good for us. It helps us grow, it helps with creativity and it makes us be the best we can be. That’s always a win right?

And that goes for your business too. Take a look at your web presence. If you’re not getting the results you want then make some changes. Things move super fast today and you either keep up or get left behind. Don’t get stuck in the proverbial roundabout. It’s only daunting if you don’t take action. The longer you wait, the more things change.

You know, that night when I was driving to meet my favorite Yankee I had no idea what was in store for me. I was however listening to 2Pac’s song “Changes” on the way. Ironic? Maybe. Or maybe I was subconsciously preparing myself for some changes of my own even if it was just venturing onto the new roundabout. Regardless, 2Pac’s words held true for me that night and they will forever hold true. “That’s just the way it is. Things will never be the same.”

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