Archives for July 2019

Alright. Show of hands. Have you ever needed a very specific image to use for your business and the first thing you did was search Google images? *raises hand*

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually illegal to just Google any photo you want to use in a marketing ad, a social media post, or in any aspect of your business. Yes, that’s right. As a business owner, you can’t promote any product or service you offer by using a photo found online that you don’t have the rights to. Seriously, this can end with a lot of trouble and cost a lot of money. So, does this mean you have to physically photograph every photo used in your business? No!

This is where stock photos become a business’s best friend.

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Unsplash.com Commercial-Use Stock Images

Stock photography describes a type of very general multi-purpose photos that can be used commercially in any way you want. Some stock photos are available for free and some cost to credit the photographer depending on the source. Today, I’m going to be sharing 7 websites that offer completely free stock photos you can use without limits for your business.

Whether you’re a restaurant, a real estate agency, a blogger, and anything in between, these stock photo websites offer millions of photos that can help to really elevate the visual aspect of your business and help you connect with your customers all while not breaking any laws and not costing a dime. What could be better than that?? Let’s get started!

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: Pexels | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Pexels

Pexels is listed #1 on this list on purpose because it’s typically my go-to for any project that requires stock images. They literally have an array of everything, and I like how easy their website is to search. From nature to portraits to cute puppies, chances are, Pexels will have something you’re looking for and more. Like this cute vintage-inspired moodboard above.

And…I recently discovered Pexels has a stock video website too, so if you’re looking for some top-notch video, keep them in mind!

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: Pixabay | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Pixabay

I never realized how many wonderful nature photos Pixabay featured until making this collage, but wow, if you’re looking for stunning scenery or anything outdoorsy, Pixabay is the place to be. One of my favorite categories to search on Pixabay is “city” because they have the most amazing showcase of city light photography. 

That’s what so great about all of these stock websites. Although some may specialize in certain types of photography more than others, they all have a variety of images and styles to offer. Give each of them a try to see what suits your business’s aesthetic the best and helps you connect with your audience the most.

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: Unsplash | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Unsplash

Would just look at that aesthetic? *swoon* I’m in love.

I typically go straight to Unsplash if I’m looking for light and airy, more feminine photography. Unsplash showcases very “Instagram-esque” images that seem so simple, yet simultaneously so appealing. Think blogger, pretty flowers, coffee shops, etc. that can really help a business to connect with their audience for a more authentic lifestyle approach.

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: Barn Images | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Barn Images

Scrolling through Barn Images website never fails to make me want to pack everything up and move to the countryside of Scotland where my nearest neighbor is 50 miles away. Like, how are you not supposed to want to travel the world looking at these? Barn Images has a knack for beautiful landscapes and intricate architecture and is perfect for any business associated with travel, simple living, or the outdoors.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: StockSnap | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
StockSnap

Did someone say “color”? If you did, StockSnap is where you need to look. They specialize in brightly-colored, abstract images. These images are great for anyone looking for an abstract background, plenty of textures, and maybe even a very attention-grabbing photo. Talk about a pop of color.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: RawPixel | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
RawPixel

RawPixel is my newest find and man, where has this website been all my life?? I love the earth-toned cohesiveness that most of their images seem to have. They have literally anything you can think of, and not just images. Vectors, Photoshop files, PNG files, mockups, and illustrations! This is a great resource for all my fellow designers out there.

Be warned though: RawPixel only gives 5 free images per day, so choose your photos wisely.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images: Canva | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Canva

Ahh, good ole Canva. You may have heard of Canva before as it’s primarily a simplified drag-and-drop online design tool. (And they even have an app now which is super amazing.) Canva’s main goal is to give non-designers the tools and resources needed to create simple, yet very attractive graphics for social media, website banners, and even photo editing. Canva also has it’s own hub for free stock photos to use both in the Canva editor and with other programs.

Canva’s photo selection seems to aspire to be very “vintage millenial lifestyle”. They have a variety of moodier, push-the-envelope photos which is great for any business or designer looking for something completely out of the box with an edgy flare.

And that’s a wrap! Those are my top 7 go-to websites to visit when I’m on the hunt for a great stock photo. Stock photography can really help to elevate an image and make it come to life. I hope today’s post helped you in at least one of two ways:

  1.  You now realize the importance of making sure to only use commercial-use images in your business
  2. You’re now equipped with an entire list of image resources to use in your business however you see fit

 

Now you can ditch Google images and have millions of beautiful, commercial-use images for free right at your fingertips at all times. After taking a peek at all what these websites have to offer, make sure to bookmark this post or your favorite stock photo site so it’s always close at hand!

Pin this post for later!

7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
7 Websites for Commercial-Use Stock Images | Rose and Pixel Branding and Web Design | Albany, LA and Ponchatoula, LA
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA

Looking for engaging, attention-grabbing social media design?

Chances are, sometime within your life you’ve searched for a business on Google. Think about the last time you searched Google for a restaurant, a salon, or even a doctor’s office. What helped you make your decision about where you were going to eat or where you were going to get your hair cut?

Was it the business’s location? Or maybe the hours they were open? Perhaps you even made your choice based on their reviews.

And guess what — you probably utilized Google My Business and didn’t even know it.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Verification Postcard

GMB is a free tool created by Google to help businesses have a professional listing with at-a-glance information for anyone searching. This listing features photos of your business, hours of operation, phone numbers, reviews, products and services, and more. Therefore, it’s so important to make sure your business has a Google listing claimed and that all of the proper information is displayed. We wouldn’t want a customer upset because Google says you’re open on New Year’s Day when you’re actually not! But don’t fret — it’s super quick and easy to take control of your listing and help the people searching for your business find exactly the right information. So, let’s help your business get the attention it deserves on Google, shall we?

Today we’ll cover:

  1. How to Claim Your Business Listing
  2. Filling Out Your Profile
  3. Insights
  4. Viewing Your Listing on Google

1. How to Claim Your Business Listing

To get started with setting up your business listing, we need to claim it. You can do this one of two ways:

A. Sometimes, if a business gets a lot of reviews or searches, Google automatically creates a business listing and tries to guess what information to display. Which is super smart of Google, but that means this listing is not “claimed” and no one owns the rights to it. It just kind of goes into the ether of the internet, which could potentially be bad for your business if someone else claims the rights to it before you do. So how do you make sure you have the rights to it?

Well, first, Google your business!

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Desktop View
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Mobile View

If Google has automatically created a listing for you, you’ll see it on the right hand side of the search results page (or at the top if you’re searching on a mobile device). This is called the knowledge panel (pictured above), where all the information about a business is displayed. Within the knowledge panel, you should look for a link that says “Own this business?”. Google will want you to prove this is actually your business and gives you a method of your choice to grant you full access to the listing. You can either choose to have Google call the phone number on your business listing or they will mail a postcard to the address provided on the listing. Either way, you’ll receive a verification code. You’ll visit https://business.google.com and enter your code to verify your listing. And voila, the listing is all yours!

B. So, maybe you Googled your business, and your business information didn’t display in the Google knowledge panel or “Own this business?” wasn’t an option in the knowledge panel. No worries. This either means Google hasn’t automatically created a listing for your business or someone else has already claimed it. For either of these reasons, we’ll start by going to https://business.google.com and choose “Manage Now”. Google will now ask you for basic information about your business.

If Google recognizes your business as a listing someone else already owns, it assumes you’re trying to gain request access and sends a notification to the Primary Owner of that business listing. It gives you a hint as to who that person is with a sneak peak of their email, such as rac….@roseandpixel.com, so you will have some clue as to who owns the listing. If you know them, it doesn’t hurt to get in contact and give them a heads up to grant you access. Otherwise, it’s a waiting game. If the owner doesn’t grant nor deny your request within a certain amount of time, Google will automatically override the listing and grant you pending ownership, asking you for a verification code the same way we previous discussed.

If Google doesn’t see that anyone else owns the listing and you’re creating it from scratch, Google will ask you to verify your business by — you guessed it — a verification code. Once verified, you’ll have complete freedom from the start of what information to provide and you’ll become the Primary Owner of your business listing.

2. Filling Out Your Profile

Once you’ve officially verified your business listing, you’re free to add and edit any information necessary. To do so, visit https://business.google.com to view your listing’s dashboard.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Dashboard

A. General Information

Here you can view statistics and update general information like your business’s name, hours of operation, address, and phone number. Google My Business also allows you to add special hours to your listing and even reminds you to do so for upcoming holidays. And don’t forget about photos! Add photos to your listing to showcase what your business offers and who it helps. When adding your address, Google My Business gives you two options for address types: Physical Address and Service Area. If your business has a physical location where customers are welcome to visit, like a restaurant or doctor’s office, you’ll choose to enter your Physical Address. If your business does not have a location where customers can visit, like an air condition repair man traveling to service his clients, you’ll choose the area you serve within Service Area. Notice the difference between how a physical address and service area address will appear on Google:

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Physical Address
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Service Area

B. Products and Services

From the dashboard you can also display more advanced information like products and services. You can link customers to your products or services directly through Google with a custom call to action. You can even feature a sale or coupon code for anyone that comes across your listing on Google.
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Product Listing

C. Messaging and Reviews

Business is all about personal connections and making your customers feel valued and important. (This leads to great reviews!) One of the newest and more personal aspects of Google My Business is being able to message directly with people who are interested in your business. I highly recommend getting the Google My Business app for this reason alone. You can manage reviews, respond to customers, and check notifications on the go so you never miss an opportunity to connect with your clients.

D. User and Location Management

Google My Business also allows access to manage other users and other listings. If your business has multiple locations, you can house them all within one account and even make bulk changes if necessary. Additionally, Google My Business lets owners grant different levels of access to each individual location. This can help you as a business owner handle your users and locations all under one dashboard.

3. Insights

One of the most important and and well-loved features of Google My Business is the amazing insights it provides. Within the Insights tab in your Google My Business dashboard, you can see how customers are discovering your business, what important keywords are returning your business in search results, and how many customers are taking action by visiting your website, getting directions, or calling you directly.

And I know what you’re thinking: Insights? Statistics? Sounds wayyyy to boring and complicated. But it’s not! Google makes it so simple to find all of this data at a glance.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Insights Traffic

A. How Customers Search for Your Business

There are three different kinds of traffic your Google business listing can receive:

  • Direct – These people are searching for your business directly by name or address. This means people know who you are and they’re looking directly for YOU! (For example, searching “Chick Fil A near me”)
  • Discovery – These people searched for a product or service you off. This traffic is great because it’s the most competitive! Including keywords in your Google listing and on your website help you get Discover traffic. (For example, Chick Fil A appearing in search results for “chicken sandwich near me”)
  • Branded – These customers found your listing by searching for a different brand. This means your listing was chosen over a competitor’s! (For example, Chick Fil A’s listing appearing when searching for “McDonald’s near me”)
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Insights Queries

B. Queries Used to Find Your Business

Within the insights tab, you can track common search terms and phrases customers use to find your business. These are important words to keep in mind because they give insight as to how your customers think and search. Use a variation of these words in your marketing across your website, advertising, and promotional materials to appeal to ideal audience.

Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Google My Business Insights Actions

C. Customer Actions

Now that you know how many people searched for your business, it’s important to know if they took any action to contact your business and actually converted from a searcher to a customer.

Your Google My Business insights show exactly how many people took action, when they took action, and how they took action directly through your Google listing. There are 3 ways a customer can take action: visiting your website, getting directions via Google Maps, and calling your business. (Keep in mind, if you have a service area business like discussed previously, you will not be able to view insights for directions.) This shows you just where the traffic you’re getting from Google is leading to.

So, if receiving calls is your most popular traffic avenue, make sure you’re answering the phone in a timely and professional manner. If website views is your most popular traffic avenue, make sure your website is in tip top shape. And so forth.

4. View Your Listing on Google

Okay, you’ve put in all the work now from claiming your listing, assuring your information is correct, and making your biz look totally professional online. Now it’s time to let your listing shine on Google! It may take up to 3 days for certain edits to appear in search results, but give it a whirl, and…Google. Your. Business!

You may notice your business appears in two different formats. This brings me to my next and final point. Google My Business gives two different layout views to it’s listings:

  • The Knowledge Panel – This is the default view for Google listings. It gives an overview of all information provided and only shows your business.
  • The “Snack Pack” – This view typically appears when people search for generic terms, such as “chicken sandwich near me” instead of a brand-specific “Chic Fil A”. Google tries to guess what the searcher is looking for and gives options of three listings relating to “chicken sandwich near me”. These results are ranked based on the searcher’s location in relation to the business’s location, the number and overall ratings of reviews, and keywords that appear within reviews. This layout is very competitive as it puts your business right next to your competitors, but if you appear within those top three results, this can help drive so much traffic to your business!
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Snack Pack Layout
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Knowledge Panel Layout

Keep in mind, Google My Business is known as a local SEO tool. This means your listing appears based on where the person searching is located in relation to where your business address is located. So if someone is searching for a pet groomer in Houston, Texas, it’s more than likely that your pet grooming business in Hammond, Louisiana won’t appear in search results because that location isn’t the most convenient for the searcher.

HOT TIP! Sometimes Google gives special links to certain types of businesses like a book an appointment link for a salon or an online menu link for a restaurant, so always be on the lookout for new ways to help your customers more conveniently find information!
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA
Help Your Business Stand Out on Google for Free | Rose and Pixel | Small Business Web Design and Branding | Albany, LA | Ponchatoula, LA

And there you have it! Your business listing is polished and ready to convert those Google searchers into your customers. I hoped this helped demystify how to get your business to appear in local Google searches and have control over what business information people see when they’re searching. Don’t forget to monitor search keywords in the Insights tabs, respond to all f your reviews and messages, and always make sure your information is correct and up to date. Best of luck to you!

Need help perfecting your Google listing?

Alright, so your business launched an awesome new website that you’re so proud of and you’re telling everyone about it. But do you just sit back, cross your fingers, and hope people visit?
 
Not at all.
 
Now that you’re website is live, it’s time to check on how your visitors are actually using it and make sure your website is doing the work for you. Today, I’m going to be sharing 4 of the best ways to monitor your website traffic beginning from how people search for your website, how they get to your website, and what they do when they get there.
 
Most of these platforms are free or offer some free important features. These statistics can tell you what your visitors are looking for, what they are and aren’t attracted to, and even help you make better business decisions for your ideal audience overall.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Google Analytics Sidebar Overview
Let’s begin with the magical beast that is Google Analytics. I promise it’s not as scary of a word as marketing agencies make it out to be. The main purpose of Google Analytics is to allow you to analyze how your website visitors interact with the content of your website. I’m sure there are in-depth courses that can explain the ins and outs of the entire program, but today I’m going to make it simple and just go over the basics.
 
Google Analytics is set up with a sidebar divided into seven sections ready to go with information about your website.
Google Analytics | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Google Analytics Home Tab
1. The first tab, Home, gives a great overview of the following:
  • Active Users – how many people are currently on your website in real time
  • Session Duration – how long users stay on your website
  • Acquire Users – what channels your traffic is coming through
    • Direct – these users directly entered your website address directly or has your website bookmarked (This is great! It means a website visitor was specifically looking for YOUR business!)
    • Organic – this traffic comes from using keywords in a search engine to find your website
    • Referral – your visitor landed on your web page from a link through another website outside a search engine
    • Social – this type of traffic was gained through a link on a social media platform
  • When – displays your most popular days and times for visitors to your website (This is important to use for things like sales, important announcements, and blog posts!)
  • Pages – what pages on your website are getting the most views

2. I’m going to skip over the second section, Customization, because this just helps you customize the layout of your Analytics dashboard. There is no information to analyze here.

3. On to tab number three – Realtime. Here you can view what are the most popular pages, keywords, locations, traffic sources, and more all in that specific moment. This is great for high traffic websites that have numerous sources leading to their website.
 
4. Audience is next and it shows the behavior and demographics of your websites visitors. It can be as detailed to even show your new vs. returning visitors, their age, gender, device and operating system!
 
5. The acquisition tab shows exactly how you’re gaining your website views through the channels we discuss previously. Here you can set up a goal for what you want your visitors to do on your website (sign up for an email list, buy a product, visit a specific page) and track how many of these viewers are “converting” – a term that here means they’re doing exactly what you want them to do on your site.
Google Analytics | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Google Analytics Behavior Flow
6. The Behavior tab is a great tool to use to see how your visitors move through the pages of your website. It shows what pages your visitors start off at and the series of pages they visit after that.
 
7. Lastly, the Conversions tab gives a more in-depth analysis of the goals created in the Acquisitions tab we previously discussed. For example, I can set up a goal to see how many of my website visitors visited my Book Now page and filled out the form to inquire about services. Goals are popularly used in association with digital advertising. So if someone clicks on a Facebook ad that takes them to a page where a conversion goal was set up, this can show the ROI, or return on investment, to compare how much was spent on those ads versus how many new leads the business generated.

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console URL Inspection | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Google Search Console URL Inspection
Up next is Google Search Console, which doesn’t show how users interact with your website like Google Analytics, but how search engines interact with your website. Google Search Console is great for new or recently updated websites because it basically let’s you say “Hey Google, I updated my website. Take a look at my pages so you can update how they appear when people search for them.”
 
 
Google Search Console is great for telling you if you have any errors like an incorrect URL or failed mobile usability.
 
Google Search Console Sitemap | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Google Search Console Sitemap
Firstly, you’ll need to submit a sitemap of your website to GSC that tells Google all what pages are included on your website, their hierarchy, and how often they’ll generally be updated. The overview of GSC shows you how many total impressions your website is receiving, your position in the search results, and what people are searching for that leads to your website. If you ever have a page that gets changed or updated, simply use the inspection tool to tell Google that specific page has content that needs to be view, or “crawled” in Google’s terms, again. 

3. HotJar

HotJar Heatmaps | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
HotJar Heatmaps*
Hotjar is a newer friend of mine and definitely one I had to mention here. Hotjar works a lot like Google Analytics and shows how visitors are using your website, except that Hotjar doesn’t show it by numbers and charts but by visuals. The platform is set up into two different traffic avenues – behavior and feedback. 
 
With the Behavior functions, you can view the following:
  • Exactly what links on a specific web page are most popular with a heatmap screenshot of your website
  • View website visitors movements through session recordings
  • See if goals are achieved by conversion funnels 
 
These are so important to track what areas of your web page are the most popular, how your visitors are moving within each page, and how long they stay on your website.
HotJar User Recordings | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
HotJar User Recordings*
With Hotjar’s Feedback tools, you can receive feedback on just about anything on your website:
  • Incoming Feedback – allows visitors to comment on specific areas of your website
  • Feedback Polls – give your visitors a simple questionnaire asking about their website experience and what can make it better (I use these all the time on client websites and they help so much!)
  • Surveys – gather insights from your website visitors
 

*Image credit via www.hotjar.com

4. Bitly

Bitly Link Tracking | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding
Bitly Link Tracking*
Bitly is great little tool to track any form of link to your website. Let’s say you send out an email with a link to buy your latest product. How are you going to know how many people clicked that link to visit your product page? That’s where bitly comes in. You submit your regular URL, Bitly converts it into a bit.ly link, and every time someone clicks on it, Bitly stores traffic information.
 
This platform also offers link shortening which is great if you want to include a link on a website like Twitter but are limited to the amount of characters you can post. Linking to your blog post titled “10 Ingredients You Thought Were Bad for You, but They’re Actually Not” might just be a little too long, but using Bitly’s link shortener, you can lead your viewers to your new post only using a couple of characters!

*Image credit via www.bitly.com

4 Ways to Monitor Traffic on Your Website | Rose and Pixel | Web Design and Branding

Wow, we’ve come to the end already? But we were having so much fun talking about analytics! Haha, I know analyzing statistics of your website viewers isn’t the most glamorous task in the world, but it is one of the most important when it comes to seeing how your website is or isn’t working for you and your customers. I hope a little insight on these 4 platforms helps the task be a little less daunting to help you feel more connected to your audience and what they want. Because, at the end of the day, helping them get what they want, helps you get what you want to create a successful, thriving business.

Need help setting up traffic monitoring?