General

Why do you use Joomla to build websites?

Though it's our #1 choice to build with, we do also work in Wordpress, though it's not our forte. 2015 is the year we've set aside to get a better handle on Wordpress, and to also start the process of learning Drupal.
That said, Joomla will probably always be our favorite. It's fast to deploy, it uses up-to-date technology and is constantly evolving as a platform. In addition to the base platform, Joomla boasts over 8000 add-on products from galleries, to forums to maps and much much more. And it's been the winner of many awards:

  1. 2006 - Packt Open Source Awards - Best Open Source CMS
  2. 2007 - Packt Open Source Awards - Best PHP Open Source CMS
  3. 2011 - Packt Open Source Awards - Best Open Source CMS
  4. 2012 - Infoworld Bossie Awards - Best Open Source Application
  5. 2014 - CMS Critic People's Choice Awards - Best Open Source PHP CMS

It's easy to extend with almost any type of application you need. eCommerce, classified listings, directories, real estate companies, vehicle sales, the list goes on. And it's simple for owners to update their site information.  It is secure, being constantly developed and improved, and it is fast to deploy.  All of this equates to a customizable, worry-free site where you can control the content.

Why should I have a website; I don't really think I need one?

There are very few businesses who wouldn't benefit from an online presence. Only a handful of enterprises contract to the same set of companies day in day out.  Let's face it, most companies are always looking for new clients and new business. Here are a few reasons for the 99% of businesses who have, or should have, an internet marketing campaign:

  1. More and more people set out to research online before ever buying. If you aren't online, you can't take advantage of this trend.  Many of these research results turn into online sales
  2. Your competitors almost certainly have a webste, and they're capturing the searches (and potential business) from online buyers or clients
  3. Diversification is of key importance in marketing strategies - your internet presence should be one integral part of your overall campaign
  4. More and more people are making their purchases online than ever before. Internet sales are steadily gaining in popularity (10% average increase each year since 2009) as purchasers are feeling more comfortable about the security and on-time delivery of their purchases.

Business is slow - how can I afford a good website?

CitrusKiwi understands that times are tough and, even when they're not, we know that you'd rather reduce overheads for a better bottom line. So we are pretty unique in our business model. We charge nothing for 45 days, then just a low monthly fee that covers design, 12 hours FREE maintenance per year, reporting and more. See how affordable our website packages are.

Am I locked into a long contract?

Not at all. We collect 3 months in advance, so the longest you're committed is 3 months. We do have a business contract that covers the initial design phase, plagiarism rules, etc. You can look at a sample contract here - we have nothing to hide.

I'm in a hurry... how long will it take?

That's why we charge nothing for 45 days. In most cases, we can have the site built and up and on the web before you pay anything! Of course, it really hinges on how quickly clients can get us the information we need to build the site. We've had sites take more than 45 days, but they're either big, complex sites, or the client has been slow to get us content.  We really depend on our clients to share our sense of expediency.

Do you do e-commerce sites?

Yes we do. We use 2 main eCommerce solutions depending on the client's needs and wants. We'll discus both options with you and recommend the best one based on your individual needs. See some examples over in our portfolio page.

Do I have to have my own domain name?

No. If you don't have one, we'll purchase one domain name of your choosing (depending on availability) and register it for 2 years. After that, it's up to you to keep it current. If you have yet to buy one, talk to us first and we can help you pick out one that makes sense for your business.

What's the "Free domain name" all about?

When you subscribe to one of our packages, whether the site is brand new or we're redesigning it, we will register a domain name of your choosing (subject to availability) if you want us to. Domain names are limited to .com, .net, .org, .info, .us, .mobi, .ca. We register it for 2 years, and, after that, it's up to you to keep renewing it. Generally, we will pay for the renewal and send you an account as we don't want the name lapsing as this will stop your site working. It's just one more thing we do in the background to keep your site active and trouble free.

How to get 12 hours FREE maintenance every year!

A website is something that needs supervision and updating on an ongoing basis. Components and core files are regularly updated to give more features or enhanced security. We monitor these day-to-day and update as necessary as part of your free maintenance. But you can also use these hours for site tweaks, page or image additions, or even a whole site makeover. You choose!

I don't have a website; should I run a social media campaign first?

What are you trying to accomplish? For plain old brand awareness, kicking off with a social media campaign can help to build a foundation of followers. Correctly done, it may also tell you what your potential visitors are wanting.  However, we would recommend first establishing a good, solid website. Yes, social media has dramatically increased in use and popularity over recent years, but most surfers still want to see the company's website. We tend to look a little sideways (personal opinion, of course) at a company who has no website and only, for instance, a Facebook page.

Some companies recommend just putting up a single page site while building is happening; we don't. Again, it comes down to your credibility. Visitors rate your company, you and your services or products, by your site. A single page that says "New site coming soon" does not cast you in a great light any more than a poorly executed site does.

How do I geo-locate my website/my shop?

Many companies have separate websites for oversea or out of country stores. Whilst there's nothing wrong with this, it does mean considerable extra maintenance and cost. It's much easier, and cheaper, to have a page dedicated to that area on your main website. Good use of carefully chosen keywords will help rank that particular page for the area chosen. Doing things like including the country/state/city name in the URL is a great place to start.

What's better -- A single, long page or multiple pages?

Either works OK. Personally, we dislike long single page sites. Most visitors will start scrolling and keep scrolling to the page end, but it can prove frustrating on a single page. There's nothing essentially wrong with a single page but we don't do them. We prefer taking the extra time required to organize extended content with tabs, buttons, sliders and other tools so that it is easy to read, visually stimulating and helps to keep the pages shorter and less intimidating looking.

Should we have one site or multiple?

This depends on your products and services. Generally, we advise having one site per company, unless there was a very diverse range of product which you wanted to devote a whole site to on its own.

Desktop v Mobile (Responsive) v Apps - what's the difference and should we have all 3?

EVERY desktop website should display well on mobile devices, however, the old style of having a separate mobile site has proven to be less effective and didn't prove successful. In many cases, this meant building and maintaining 2 separate sites - just a load of extra work. The trend now is modern mobile-ready sites which are called responsive. These sites detect the device they're being displayed on and adjust the display accordingly. While these have some issues of their own, they are, overall, a much better option than previously. With over 1/2 of all searches online being made from mobile devices, a site lacking a good mobile display is severely disadvantaged.

Apps are a specific form of mobile site. Most draw their content directly from the main site, making them less time consuming to maintain. Many larger companies have apps – eBay, Amazon, most or all of the airlines. The average small business probably doesn't need to bother with an app, which can cost about $3-500 per platform and there are currently 3 platforms. CitrusKiwi recently blogged about this in more detail here:
http://www.citruskiwi.com/blog/mobile-v-responsive-v-app-v-nothing

Blogs & Content

Do I need to have a blog?

Absolutely! Many businesses gain a number of new customers from their blog alone. It also helps to make sure your website is active and fresh. Plus it's a great outlet for announcing changes or new product. However, avoid turning it into a back-patting journal. Remember that readers are there to be taught, guided and entertained; not hear about how good you think you are.

Blogging has another benefit beyond providing new content for human visitors. It's also good for the search engines which will index your site more frequently if they detect regular additions. 

Thirdly, a new blog brings traffic. Every new post creates another opportunity to reach new people and promote your site, along with your knowledge, to them.

How long should blogs be?

Rather than focusing on length, first get into your mind that the content MUST be quality, original and relevant. Without these, it doesn't matter whether it's 5 words, 500 or 5000. It won't get read. Many beginning bloggers think they need to write a "War & Peace" to be authoritative - not so. We recommend around 500 words as a good benchmark, with a focus on quality, relevance, originality, and readability.

Avoid technical terms and industry jargon unless you know, for sure, that everyone knows their meanings, or you explain them. Your writing should be pitched as if the reader were 6th or 7th grade. And don't be afraid to use images and paragraphs. These break up longer pieces and enhance readability.

How often should I blog?

With continual algorithm changes, we recommend blogging as often as you can - preferably once a week. However, don't be tempted to scribble off a banal piece of valueless nonsense. Search engines, and visitors, are looking for well written (no spelling or grammatical errors) informative content that's original. Again, resist any temptation to plagiarize articles in total - they just won't benefit you. By all means use parts (while giving suitable credits), but the aim is UNIQUE content.

So make a plan to manage your blog. Diarize a time or times to write - just like any regular appointment. Take time to produce well written, well organized, and applicable content that your viewers want to read. So it must be relevant, contain current buzzwords and be easily read. Teach, lead and entertain your readers!

Is guest blogging helpful?

This is similar to link building, in that it must be relevant. SEO is all about quality material now. So your guest bloggers need to be writing the same high quality, relevant content you are. Just because it's a guest, it doesn't mean poor quality content will be tolerated by humans or search engines. So you need to be able to trust your guest bloggers not to jeopardize your site's rankings with their writing.

Is video more helpful or distracting?

That depends on how it's displayed. To most designers, auto start videos or audio are a serious no-no. In that case they are both distracting and annoying. However, done properly (using manual start only), if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth 1,000 pictures. And don't limit yourself to product or service videos. Work with some of your happy clients to record video testimonials to personalize your web presence.

Should I use my company’s, or the manufacturer's, product details for my pages?

We recommend you write your own product descriptions. You are in a better position to know what your customers are wanting, and, often times, sales literature is poorly written from a web aspect. Also avoid scraped content (plagiarized content). Google penalizes scraped content where they see sites simply copying content from another site without adding any new content.

Like we've said elsewhere, ensure all your content is easily readable, quality, factual, and well-proofed.

Live Assistance/Chat - Is it useful?

It sure can be, especially if your product is complicated or technical. However, it can also be expensive. You have software to purchase, and then the cost of manning it. This can get expensive if you want to offer 24/7 chat. If you have an e-commerce site, or one that can need instant technical help (we use our host's live chat frequently), then it's a great idea. If not, consider doing SMS (text messaging) direct from your website. People view this as a way of getting a quicker response than the traditional email or web form.

How do I get good reviews of my business?

Good reviews aren't necessary for good rankings. However, they are an endorsement by independent 3rd parties of your brand and show the quality of your products, and that is good! Yelp and Google Places are 2 great places to generate positive reviews, so make sure you have an active presence on these sites.

However, don't neglect asking customers to review you on your own site. This is also really important, and we're surprised just how many sites don't do this. And most importantly, don't neglect asking customers to review you, period! Most won't do it on their own without a little nudging from you.

SEO

How long until the search engines find my new site?

If it's an existing domain name which has had an old site attached to it, chances are they already have. On a brand new site, we have a way of getting the search engines to find it in a few hours - around 30 minutes is our record. However, having the search engines find your site, and having it show up on page 1 or 2 of the search results is a very different process. The latter has all to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

My website is years old, but hasn't been found - how come?

The truth will be that your site has been found, but it's just not showing up in the search engines for any relevant search phrases. Probably we need to take a look at your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and adjust it.

Why isn't my site getting more traffic?

There could be a miriad of reasons, including:

  1. You're targeting highly competitive keywords
  2. You're targeting keywords that have little or no search volume
  3. You're not on page 1 or 2 of the searches
  4. Your website has been blacklisted by the search engines.

Just like, "My car's making a funny noise!" doesn't make it easy for your mechanic to diagnose the problem, "My website isn't getting any traffic" is much the same. We will actually sit down with you and talk through your existing site, do some analysis, and then come up with a plan to help.

I get loads of traffic, but no sales/inquiries - why?

This one is a little easier to answer than the previous, though until some research into the site is done, it's still not going to be black and white. You may have no "calls to action" on your site, it could be boring, outdated, lacking content or unorganized content, or just not what the visitor expected. Again, like the no/little traffic scenario, we'll take time to investigate and report back what we find and how we feel you could improve.  Part of our service is offering objective, critical feedback along with solutions.


How do I find keywords that are important for my business?

You can use Google's own tool - Keyword Planner - it's free and can help, though you will need an Adwords account (which is also free).   https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner It also will help determine the most popular PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and monthly variations of the volume for that search.

Next, analyze the competition and see what they're using. It can be good to use both similar, the same, or completely different words to your competitors. However, this is a very critical area for your ranking success and we recommend engaging the help of a professional as it really requires understanding the whole business of SEO to make informed choices. As a good start, we recommend to clients that they write a list of words and phrases they think people would use to find them.  Not to worry, we don't leave you on your own here!  We'll help you find the best keywords and phrases that we will then use as part of our on-page SEO building.

What's the future for SEO?

It's really impossible to say as it's such a fast changing industry, but here are a couple ideas.

Mobile Commerce (mCommerce) - Mobile devices will continue to become more and more important to the general population. Therefore, the amount of searches on mobile devices will continue its upward trend. They have now surpassed desktop searches. In light of this, EVERY website MUST be ready for this flood of mobile surfers. The latest way to do this is using a responsive template. These allow the website to ascertain what sort of device it's being viewed on and serve a webpage that fits that particular size.

Social media will also continue its growth. Over the last couple of years, there has been some drop off in the weight search engines have given social media, but we believe that they will continue to influence the rankings.

However, one of the biggest changes in searching is the sophistication of the actual algorithms. In very early days we could search 1 or 2 words and get what we wanted - and that was all search engines could really handle. And they looked ONLY for what you put in. Now we use complete sentences, and the search engines know how to substitute variations of words in your search, and how to correct bad spelling. This means we need to be extraordinarily careful in writing content to ensure we aren't missing easy ranking opportunities.


Help! My traffic plummeted and I don't know why!

We would have to take a good look at your site to be sure, but it could be for a myriad of reasons. As we mentioned elsewhere, this is a very good reason to have a professional do this job. Whatever the reason, there are 2 things you should think about. Did the change in traffic happen: 1. just after a major (or sometimes even minor) algorithm update, and/or 2. did it happen after a major change to the site? Both of these will give you a clue as to where to start looking and how to remedy the drop.

Another good place to look is in Google Webmaster Tools to see if they have flat out told you. Wherever the problem lies, recovering ranking and/or traffic is generally not a quick fix and you need to be prepared for it to take time.

Do images play a part in search queries?

They can, if handled correctly. All images have 2 descriptions you can add to them. There's "Title" and "ALT". There's much debate on the value of Title and we generally don't use it. However, ALL images MUST have the ALT tag completed for 2 reasons.
Currently, search engines cannot "look" at an image and know what it is - remember that the internet (all computing, in fact) is done in binary code - so the image is just a series of 1's and 0's. The ALT attribute tag is our way of telling the search engines, "Hey this image is about..."

If, for whatever reason, your image fails to load, your browser will load a placeholder image. Whilst this maintains the formatting on the page, it doesn't tell the reader anything. In this case, the ALT text will display so the reader at least has some idea what should be there.

What is Domain Authority and is it important?

Domain Authority (DA) is structured through various measurements and relates to site health. Some crucial measurements that better the DA of a page are: social profiles which lead to the site, high quality, earned links and cumulative SEO work.

The better the DA the better chance you will rank higher when certain keywords are entered into search engines. When the battle for competitive advantage is tough, this can be an important metric to show your company better than competitors, thus giving a higher ranking in the search engine. Because of its importance in keywords, it's generally the first metric identified in SEO.

What are search algorithms?

All search engines use various algorithms to determine how your website should be ranked. Some algorithms you may have heard spoken of are Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. The latter was quite a shift in focus, with phrases and conversations about the website being measured as opposed to a simple keyword usage.

All algorithms are constantly updated and they form the framework of your ranking for specific words, phrases or topics. Because they determine where your page will rank, it's very important to understand how each search engines looks for and ranks pages.

Should I use pay-per-click (PPC)?

It comes down to what type of product you are selling and your end goals. Targeting a specific market on Google AdWords can be a significant cost. Every situation is different - different products, different seasons of selling. However, PPC advertising can be a pricey way to get a small result. We recommend starting with a budget of $1000 plus if you're serious about running a solid Adwords campaign.

In many cases, SEO is best for companies with non-seasonal products that have long run sales and a long term success strategy. SEO helps because it focuses on blogging, mobile, social media, bringing original content, and much more. PPC is a short term way to boost a ranking over a limited time. Good organic SEO will continue on, whereas PPC stops as soon as you stop paying.

Why is my competitor always higher in rank than me?

With so many different variables (currently over 200 different items are looked at), it does take time to get higher than your competitors for them all, let alone even one. There are no guarantees in SEO because the search engines are fluid. They often update and change algorithms multiple times a day. Staying on top constantly is a challenge.

With a good blog that's added to regularly, quality earned back links, and a good social media plan you can stay current and reasonably abreast of changes to the algorithms.


I want to rank for (my keywords); is that something you do?

We can definitely help! However, there are 2 parts to SEO - on-page and off-page. On-page relates to, not surprisingly, elements on your website pages - various tags and use of font styles, alt text behind images, and, of course, the keywords and phrases you want to rank for. This is what we handle as part of building and maintaining your site.

Off-page is the business of obtaining back links to your site, generating social media "buzz" and more. This is an area we leave to experts in this field as it really does require expert and knowledgeable people to work on it. This is the one side of SEO that can very easily have a detrimental affect to your site if handled badly.

How can I rank for a competitive keyword?

Please see "I want to rank for (my keywords); is that something you do?" above.

Is on-site/on-page optimization important?

IT IS CRITICAL! Apologies for yelling, but without on-site SEO all other money and effort spent are wasted. On-site SEO is the backbone when talking about digital marketing. Although not technically on-page optimization in the SEO sense, good, intelligent design and layout will also benefit you and your site's visitors as well.

If your site is not well optimized on-page, the search engines will register this as a vote of no-confidence by you - they see you as uninterested in making the effort to work on the site - and they will tell their users this by dropping your ranking.


Security

My last site got hacked. How do I stop that from happening again?

There are many reasons a site gets hacked, and it can be important to identify why. This helps with tightening up security, but also finding trojan infections which can lead to further hacking if not removed. Like many areas of the web business, there are experts in this area too. In the rare occurrence one of our sites are hacked, we immediately give the disinfecting and monitoring job to Sucuri.net where we have an account.

The best approach, however, is prevention. However, even the best systems can be hacked (Anthem Health Insurance 2/4/2015 for example). Perhaps prevention is too strong a word - maybe deterrence is a better choice. What you want to do is make your site somewhat annoying to hack. Unless it's a high value looking site (something that might hold sensitive data), if it's a hassle, most hackers will move on. You're not truly ever secure, you're just less vulnerable than your neighbor.

What do you do to make your sites "less vulnerable?"

There are a number of ways, but they boil down to choosing a good host and a good designer. And not only a good host, but the right hosting plan. Cheap is usually not good when it comes to hosting. You can buy shared hosting in many places for about $5/month. It will normally be bare bones, no frills, and you're grouped in with a whole bunch of other sites (which can make it less secure and open up vulnerabilities to hackers). Many promise unlimited space and bandwidth, but it's a lie - there's no such thing - read the fine print. When it comes to hosting, spend a little more and go for a VPS. You will still need to have someone competent set up your security on these.

Secondly, pick a designer who knows how to implement good site security. Not just the basic things like good passwords (all ours are 12 characters, upper and lower case, numbers, and special characters), but make sure they have a solid, tried and tested, security suite to add onto your website and that they have regular, scheduled backups of your site - stored off site.

I'm always getting viruses on my computer. What can I do?

Be careful of the sites you visit. Warez & pornography sites, in fact any nefarious type site, can be a virus just waiting to infect your computer. If you're asked to download something that you're not sure of, don't. If you're on a site and a pop up tells you something is wrong with your computer - virus, running slow, etc - close the window immediately and never, never, never, click fix, download, update or anything else on it.

Pricing & Payments

What do you charge for designing/redesigning a website?

We at CitrusKiwi are a little unique. Most designers want you to pay a lump sum. Plus they want a deposit before they do a stroke of work. We don't agree with this way of doing business. Why should you pay for something you haven't gotten?

We charge nothing up front (the only exception is if we have to have some outwork done or purchase a component for the site). You pay nothing for 45 days from when we start. Thereafter, you just pay a small monthly fee that covers our design work, hosting, reporting each month, plus 12 hours free maintenance per year.

And you aren't locked in forever with us. We collect 3 months in advance via automatic deduction (non-refundable) so there's really nothing to lose.

What's your refund policy?

Where we have had to have outwork completed, or had to purchase a component there is, obviously, no refund. Likewise, once the 3 monthly payment is made there's no refund unless you asked us to stop your subscription and we didn't.

It sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?

There isn't one! Maybe you're old enough to remember when huge deals were sealed on a nod and a handshake. We'll never go back to that now, there's just too many unscrupulous people in the world. But we do strive to bring back a little of the old-world style of business. To make our business model work, we look for long-term relationships with our clients; good business that is built on trust and integrity. A few people have taken advantage of us because of this, but we just consider that a cost of "doing business" the way we believe is best. And what goes around, comes around. 

Do I need to keep paying every month/3 months?

No. There's no contract with us, so you can leave, or stop paying, at any time. Of course, if you stop paying then we can no longer keep your website live and it will be suspended. Commencing payment again, and clearing any arrears, will unsuspend it.

Who owns my site? Who has rights to it if I leave you?

You do and we even spell that out very clearly in our contract. This is another bad business model we've seen with other companies - the, "Oh you're leaving, so we'll hold you to ransom" business model. That's not old fashioned and not the way we do it. If you decide to leave, then we will give you a full copy of your website, along with all the passwords you need to run it. Some features may be removed where we own licenses to installed components.

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