In this episode, website expert, CJ Gilbert, shares the three key elements that will maximize the effectiveness of your website to bring in more book sales, more clients, and more money. He also shared a common scam to avoid, how to use email marketing to enhance the customer experience, and more!
Free video workshop, which is located at MyWebsiteSafari.com.
seven videos that are each less than 10 minutes that go into more
detail on topics covered here, plus some worksheets, and exercises, and other resources for you take advantage of.
AskAWebGeek.com to ask any other questions that you have after going through the video series.
Book: Five Golden Keys to Sharpen Your Website.
3 Key Points
You need a website because it is the only thing you can fully own and control online.
Have FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) on your website to cut down on your busy work and also to increase keyword density
Don’t stuff keywords.
[0:51] Ellen: Hi, and welcome to episode 95. Today, my guest is CJ Gilbert. CJ Gilbert has been a website developer for over 20 years, and now he’s a speaker and author teaching business owners how to use their websites as their number one business tool so they can make more money and serve their clients better, faster and easier. CJ empowers entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches and authors to spread their unique message and gifts, and therefore collectively help millions.
So, welcome to the call, CJ.
CJ: Thank you. My pleasure to be here today. Thank you so much, Ellen.
Ellen: It’s so fun to have you because CJ and I have known each other a long time. We both have been Exceptional Entrepreneurs, which started out as a local networking group here in San Diego, and now like everything, has gone virtual. He’s so good at what he does, that on occasion I have called him up and gone, “Help.” I ended up being a client, which it didn’t start out that way. It was just kind of as friends and, what do you think, and all of a sudden, right?… I love what you do. I love how you do it. I just love how responsive you are and how you take care of your clients.
CJ: Thank you.
[2:12] Ellen: What we’re going to talk about today is make your website do more for your business, books and authorship. Let’s talk about that.
Ellen: What are your thoughts?
CJ: Awesome. Absolutely. The thing that I want to tell your audience, the number one takeaway, if you take away nothing else, is this one phrase “Your website is the only thing you can fully own and control online.” That’s worth repeating. Your website is the only thing you can fully own and control online. Isn’t it true that right now every other platform out there wants you to come to their platform and build up what is basically their website?
The reason that this is so tricky, is because there’s some truth there, because if your audience is there, well then of course that’s where you want to be, because you want to reach your audience.
So, absolutely, you should, you could use any platforms that are available where you’ll find your audience. I absolutely encourage that. And yet, always remember in the back of your mind you can’t own anyone else’s platform. You can only own your own.
[3:23] Ellen: Right, and you and I converse periodically on Twitter. And guess what happened to me on Twitter? I just lost 11,000 people.
Ellen: Yeah, because what happened was I couldn’t get in and I went to change the password, and they would not send me a verification code. And so, I went through the normal channels and everything, and then they said, “Well, you have more than one email. Which one is it?” I’m like, “I don’t know which one it is. I’ve got so many of them over the years.” I’ve been with them for a long time, over a decade.
CJ: Right, exactly.
Ellen: I was bummed about that, but I could still get in on my phone. I got into my phone and I saw what the email was there, and I got all excited and said, “Oh great, I’ll do it here.” And guess what happened? They said, “We’re going to send you a verification code,” and they still didn’t send it. Now, I’m locked out of everything.
[4:22] CJ Yeah. I hear more and more stories like that, whether it’s a Twitter account, whether it’s a Facebook profile. A thing that was hot for a long time very recently is Facebook groups. People have been just pouring their heart and soul, and their time into building their Facebook group, and investing their time and resources there. Then something happens, or they say something, or somebody else says they said something. He said/she said, and all of a sudden you no longer have access to that group-
Ellen: That’s horrible.
CJ: Or, you’ve been banned. Or, you’ve been restricted. It’s frustrating.
Ellen: It’s horrible. I was just talking to someone today who is building a group and doing it on Facebook. I said to her, because hers is a paid membership, but in Facebook. I just said to her, “Well, I hope you have all the emails, and she said, “Oh, absolutely.” I said, “Good, because it can go away at any time.”
[5:14] CJ: Yeah, absolutely. I’m a firm believer in using all of the tools and technologies that are available to us. And a whole part of my business is helping people do that, help them use the tools, ask me questions about what they have. I always want to remind them, no matter what you’re using, make sure you’ve got your own website as your foundation.
Then from there, go to all the other places you can, absolutely. Use all the other socials. Use all the other tools and apps, and what have you. Just remember what you can own, is your own domain name, your own website, and just as you mentioned your own email list.
[5:53] Ellen: Yeah, that’s another thing. When I first got started, my first website was actually in the music business. My web person set us up on our domain on a site called Network Solutions. At some point, I couldn’t get into that one. They wanted a ridiculous amount of information, I didn’t even know the answers to some of the things they asked me, and I ended up losing that domain.
Ellen: It’s crazy. That’s crazy.
[6:24] CJ: Yeah, absolutely. While we’re on the topic of domain names, something that you may have seen that others in your audience may know, is if you register a domain name, part of that is public information, the domain itself, the date that it was registered, the date that it renews, and depending on how you have some of your privacy settings, you may be sharing your name, address, phone number, email address to this entity that exists kind of in the public domain.
What I’m seeing now is happening, is there’re companies that are sending you what looks to be a renewal notice in the mail.
Ellen: Yes. Yes, I’ve gotten those.
CJ: But they’re not actually the people that own your domain name. So, what they’re doing is they’re basically trying to steal your business away from wherever else it’s actually registered. I did one of my episodes of my podcast on this very topic, about how to be more aware of where these pieces live. It’s horribly confusing. No business owner understands how these things are put together. It’s just super confusing. That’s what I help with. That’s why I’m here.
[7:27] Ellen: It’s funny because I was helping an author publish, and she was asking me all these questions about how IngramSpark gets your book into the retail stores. I said to her, “Look, when you get in the car, you take the key and you turn it on. Do you know how your car works, no? Or ,do you just get in and you drive the car?” It’s like you don’t have to know every single thing about these things for them to work for you.
CJ: That’s right. That’s right. You got to know where the key goes. You got to know where to put the gas in. You got to know what the warning lights mean, to pay attention to.
[8:01] Ellen: What do you say when people say, “You don’t need a website anymore”? I’ve seen a lot of people say that really actually.
CJ: Absolutely. I had that same question asked of me just a couple of days ago. We were in kind of a group chat, and gal asked me “CJ, is a website even relevant anymore?” I said the exact same thing to her, I said “More than ever. Your website is the only thing you can own and control.” So, is that important? I think so. I think it’s hugely important.
[8:31] Ellen: Yeah, I do too. Yeah. What are some tricks and tips to make your website… What’s the word I’m looking for? Just do better for you in your business.
CJ: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that a great place to start is to acknowledge that most business owners know they need a website, but they don’t really know what to do with it. So then, it’s this nebulous concept, a website. They know the kind of need one, but they don’t have any practical tips or ideas. So, I’m here to provide some practical tips and ideas for you and your audience, and that is to think of your website as a tool for your business.
It was that very line of thought that led me to write down my own thoughts about what a website should do. I opened up my own business under my own name in 2006, building websites for local companies here in San Diego. And real quick, I learned when I started asking questions like, “Who is your target market? What do we want your website to do for them?” I would get a lot of blank looks. I realized, you know I think a lot of entrepreneurs are just like me in that they get into a particular professional or a particular service-based business because they have a skill or they have a knowledge in some area, they know how to build a website, they know how to bake cupcakes, they know how to fix a car.
You open your business to do this service for others, and you start doing that service, but it doesn’t take but just a couple of weeks, months, years go by and all of a sudden it’s more than that. You’re not just doing that one thing. You’re not just baking the cupcakes or fixing the cars. Now you’ve got to think about marketing, and websites, and advertising, and email campaigns, and all this stuff that’s so outside of “I know how to fix a ca, or I can bake some cupcakes.”
[10:25] Ellen: Right, unfortunately no matter what your skill is, you have to learn marketing.
CJ Gilbert: Exactly.
CJ Gilbert: Exactly right. That’s when I started writing down some of my thoughts. What should a website do for a business? That’s how I ended up writing my own book, Five Golden Keys to Sharpen Your Website.
Ellen Violette: All right.
CJ: Basically, there’s nothing technical in my book. I don’t use geek speak. I don’t use technical jargon. I like to tell people that I can translate. I can speak geek, and I can speak normal human. I’m here to translate these two things for you. When I think of your website, I really think of it in terms of enhancing your sales and your customer service. I add another “S” onto that, which is your search, because now people are searching for you. They’re either searching for you by name or by business name, because they want to look for you specifically. Or, they’re searching for your type of business or service, or profession.
However they’re searching for you, that’s one of the components. I say that your website is really here to provide those three S’s, those three pillars for your business: your search, your sales, and your service. If you’d like to, I can go into a couple of ideas on each one of those.
Ellen: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
[11:46] CJ: The first thing to talk about is your search. Maybe that’s how it starts for the people trying to find you. Then we start talking about keywords, and that makes people’s eyes glaze over because they think I’m going to talk about something super complicated: keywords.
Ellen: I love keywords. That’s one of the main things I do for books on Amazon, is finding the keywords.
CJ: Absolutely, yes.
Ellen: To me, it’s like an Easter egg hunt.
CJ: Yes, very, very well said. Yes, it is just like that.
[12:15] CJ: The truth of it is, is you don’t have to be intimidated by the word “keywords”. Basically, I encourage my clients to just write out what you do. Just use simple language. Just use as much description as you can about your services and the benefits of working with you. There is a caution. You want to avoid something called “keyword stuffing”, which sounds delicious, but it’s not. It’s something that should be avoided. That’s because people do this. They think that if they can take their keywords and stuff it into their website as much as possible, that they’ll win the search-engine game.
The reason they think that is because that’s how it started. In the very beginning, all Google was doing was counting the number of times you used a phrase on your website. If I used it more than you used it, I would win. That game got very tiring very quickly, and people still do this. Maybe you’ve seen these websites. You come to them and you start reading through the copy, and as an author, I’m sure as a writer, you see this more than anyone-
Ellen: Oh, yeah. And you go “Really?” Like nobody talks this way. You’re not saying that word every three words. No, no, no.
CJ Gilbert: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Just so that you’re aware of what we’re talking about, that’s like if I tried to use the phrase “San Diego web design” and so you came to my website and you started reading it, and it said something like, “At Gilbert Studios, San Diego website design, we specialize in website design for San Diego businesses wanting website design in San Diego.” It just get really kind of dumb how often it’s used.
[13:57] Well, Google and the other search engines are pretty smart about this, and now they’re not looking for keyword count, they’re looking for keyword density. What that means is, how often you’re using those keywords within a particular amount of text. You don’t have to worry about any of that, if you just speak about your services so you don’t have to worry about any of that and you speak about your book, and your topics, and your audience in normal language, and you’re just descriptive like you would normally tell someone verbally about what you do.
Do that in your website, and you’ll be good. That enhances your search. That will automatically and naturally fill your website with the right keywords for you.
Ellen: I like that, keyword density.
CJ: Keyword density.
Ellen: Yeah, that’s good, and not stuffing.
CJ: That’s right. That’s right. We’re going to avoid the stuffing.
[14:50] Ellen: Okay, so what’s the next section you were going to-
CJ: The next thing is your sales. For a lot of people, this might be their number one goal, they want to make more sales with their website. If that’s true for you, and if you’re listening to us right now, that is amazing. I would say that’s probably the most common thing people are looking for in their website, especially as an author I would imagine. Here’s the magic phrase that I want you to remember for this topic, “People choose the familiar.” People choose the familiar. How can we do that on a website?
[15:24] We can do it with photos. We can do it in video. We can also do it with the language that we’re using, the words that we’re using. The idea is, we want to let people get to know us because as they get to know us, and they feel like they’re getting to know us in their own… See, this is really cool because it’s a non-confrontational sales experience. They’re in their own home or their own office. They don’t feel like they’re in a sales-pressure environment. You’re not right in front of them trying to sell them your thing. They’re doing a little research. They feel like they’re doing something to you. They’re researching you. They’re going to learn about you.
[16:01] Ellen: Yeah, so do you think that all websites should have a video on the front page then?
CJ: I think it’s a good idea. If you can. I understand there may be circumstances where it doesn’t work for you, but if you can have a video, yes. Or, a series of videos, or a small video on multiple pages. Absolutely. The more that your audience can get to know you, they’re going to develop that familiar feeling for you. That’s really what leads them to do business with you.
Ellen: I have to say though, I saw a guy, I think it was on a Facebook… I don’t know if it was just a post on his profile page or group, or whatever. Oh no, I think it was in a group. Yeah, and he was sharing what he does or whatever. He was so bad. I thought, “Oh, this would not make me want to work with this guy.”
CJ: Sure, absolutely.
Ellen: So, you think there are people who are like that, where you would say no, they’d be better off not doing that? Or what?
CJ: This is a super common mistake that people make with their website. They assume that their website is about them.
Ellen Violette: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
[17:05] CJ: That’s an easy assumption to make. You think your website’s about you? Of course, you do. Why wouldn’t it be? The truth is, your website is really about your customer. It’s really for your audience. Let me give you an illustration of how this shows up a lot in my work. There’s two sides of this spectrum that I’m going to talk about, and I work with people on both sides of the spectrum. There’s the guy that wants to put all of this credentials all over the place, all [crosstalk [00:17:32]-
Ellen: Yes, yeah I have a story about that, but go on. Yeah.
[17:37] CJ: Yeah, my professional associations, and me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Again, he might be losing touch. He might be losing the fact that this website is really for his audience. It’s not just to be a place to toot his own horn. Let’s go to the total opposite end of the spectrum, where I’ve got some of my clients, and she might say to me “You know, I really don’t want to put me on the website at all.” She’s going to use my words back at me. “It’s about my customer. We don’t really need to put me there.” I say, “Well again, it is for your customer and your customer wants to know that they’re making the right decision about who they’re choosing to do business with.”
So, it is important to put you on the website, and to list some of your credentials, and to list whatever professional things that are appropriate not because we want to toot your horn and me, me, me and how great I am, but because we want to give your audience what they want, and that is the information that they’re going to use to choose to do business with you.
[18:42] Ellen: Right. When I first got on the Internet, you have to start from where you are, and the skill that I had was I was already a writer. I didn’t know direct marketing copy, but I knew how to write well. So, I learned how to do direct marketing copy, and I started doing copy for websites. I had this attorney who did elder care, and I went to his website and it was all about him. I redid all the copy and I made it about the clients and everything. I didn’t document it right away.
So, a little bit of time went by. I came back to document it, and he had taken it all down and gone right back to being about him. I was like, “Oh, God, I can’t do this for a living.”
CJ: Yeah, he’s just missing the mark. He’s just missing that-
Ellen: They don’t understand.
Ellen: They just don’t understand. They don’t want to understand.
[19:43] CJ: It is important that you have information about yourself, that you have your photos, but also keep in mind it’s because of your audience. It’s because that’s what they want to help make that buying decision. They’re going to read the facts into their figures. They’re going to get to know you. Then when they’re ready to make that buying decision, they’re going to rely on that feeling that they’ve developed for you and hopefully they’re going to choose to do business with you.
[20:05] Ellen: Absolutely. Do you think some kind of opt-in gifts work better than others? Or, do you have any feelings about that?
CJ: That’s a great question, absolutely. You want to have a clear call to action on your website. That could be a little different, depending on your industry or your profession. It might be as simple as give us a phone call with your phone number. It might be sending us an email. If there’s any way that you could offer them a free trial or a free demo, or a free consultation, or as you mentioned, maybe something that they get with an opt in. It could be an ebook, it could be a book, it could be a gift, it could be a tool.
Any of those things are absolutely valuable. That starts tying us into email marketing, which is hugely important. You want to own your email list just as much as you own your website because that’s how you’re able to… People come to your website. That’s very one-sided. They’re in full control of that, but you don’t know who they are, nor can you talk back to them. Once they’ve given you their email address, there’s huge value in there. We want to respect people. We want to respect their email, not send them any kind of spam. But they’re giving us permission to continue to reach out to them with offers, or information.
CJ : We want to do that in a very respectful way, but I think it’s very important
[21:23] Ellen: Right, and you want to do that consistently and also not too often. It used to be every day. I can remember the first email list I got on from an Internet marketer. I got an email from this guy every day for a year, and I couldn’t get off.
CJ: Some of them are like [crosstalk [00:21:43].
Ellen: He would not take me off.
Ellen: Oh, that was terrible.
CJ: It’s going to be different for every audience. You have figure out what works best for you.
[21:50] Ellen: Yeah, but it also works better doing not as much as it used to. It used to be if you did it every day that was good. I don’t really think that is good anymore. When I look at the emails that I get, and the ones that I open, first of all they write really great emails and they don’t send me an email every day. That’s me. Maybe, like you said, maybe different ones are different, but that’s kind of how I’m reading it right now.
Ellen: Is it something that’s really good if you’re going to write an email, and don’t bombard people because nobody has time to read them all. That’s the thing.
CJ: Right. That’s right.
Ellen: It’s crazy.
CJ: That’s right.
Ellen: What I started doing is, I have an email where it’s like… I love swipe files. I l[22:30] Love looking at other people’s stuff when I’m trying to figure out how to write something if I’m feeling stuck, or just don’t know how to get started. I have one email where I just send most of the stuff there. I’ll go in and look at maybe once a day or once every other day, but if I got all that stuff into my inbox, I would never be able to see anything.
[22:57] CJ: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, while we’re on the topic of sending emails to your list, sometimes people get upset if you’re sending an email, and people unsubscribe from your list. I would just encourage you, don’t be upset when people unsubscribe. They’re bombarded with tons of email. We only want people on your list who do want to receive those emails from you. So, never fret.
Ellen: Right. Yeah, and sometimes what happens is you don’t want them right now. I’ve done that, where I’ve gotten on a list, and then I’ve gotten off the list, and then I’ve gotten back on the list.
Ellen: It’s a big lesson to learn to not take it personally. That used to devastate me. That absolutely used to devastate me.
CJ: Absolutely. “Oh, no she unsubscribed. Oh no, why?”
Ellen: Now I don’t pay attention to it anymore. But yeah, there was a time,
I have to admit. Did we cover everything or is there a third one?
CJ: There is a third one.
Ellen: There’s a third one.
[23:53] CJ: I’ll say it briefly. It’s your service. It’s your customer service. This one’s really overlooked. People are all about the search, they’re all about the sales aspect. I’ll encourage you to think of ways to think of your website as a tool for your customer service. Compare this to an office location where there’s a receptionist, and she’s picking up the phone all day every day, and she’s answering the same question over and over again, “Yes, we’re open until [5:00]. Yes, we take credit cards. Yes, here’s our directions. Here’s our address. Here’s this information.”
Think about how if that information is on your website, someone can go directly there, get the answers they need. That saves them time. It saves you even more time because now you don’t have to answer that phone 100 times saying the same thing over and over again.
Ellen: Yeah, and also we used to have this, I don’t think we have it on the new site. I need to get it back, but the FAQs.
[24:47] Ellen: Keep a list of the things that people ask you all the time, and then make FAQs, which are… What is it, facts?
CJ: Yes, Frequently Asked Questions.
Ellen: Frequently asked questions, right.
CJ: That is one of my favorite strategies, absolutely. Make an FAQ page. A couple of reasons why. Number one, you’re answering those questions that people are asking. Number two reason, it’s amazing for keywords. You’ll be able to talk about topics on your FAQ page that don’t really fit naturally anywhere else on your website, and they live right there. Those keywords now belong on your FAQ page. So, absolutely take note of what those questions are that people are asking you. If you have a receptionist or a secretary, ask her because she’s going to know exactly what people are asking.
Ellen: Yeah, that’s a great tip. That is a great tip.
[25:36] CJ: My follow up to this is, also consider writing out an answering some should-be asked questions. That is to say, most people, or possibly a lot of people, may not know enough about your industry to even know what questions to ask.
Ellen: Right, they don’t know what they don’t know.
CJ: Exactly. Supply them some FAQs. Supply them with the questions they would ask if they knew enough to ask, and they’ll feel even better that you’ve done that.
[26:07] Ellen: Nice. Any final tips?
CJ: Final tips, I’ve got a lot of ideas just like this. I’ll share a couple of resources to take advantage of that.
Ellen Violette: Okay.
CJ: My main website is GilbertStudios.com. You can certainly make a note of that. My podcast is called Ask A Web Geek. You can find that at AskAWebGeek.com. I have got 41 episodes live right now with a bunch of different topics that we’ve talked about. I’ve got a Facebook group there as well. You’re welcome to ask any questions you have on any of these topics.
I would encourage you to get started with my free video workshop, which is located at MyWebsiteSafari.com. It’s seven videos that are each less than 10 minutes. They go over the topics that I’ve just been talking about in a little more detail. There are some worksheets, and exercises, and other resources for you take advantage of.
Help yourself to that workshop. Then come check out AskAWebGeek.com to ask any other questions that you have.
Ellen: Okay, well thank you so much, CJ. This has been enlightening.
CJ: Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me today, Ellen.
Ellen: Yeah, it reminded me with the FAQs, I’ve got to do that again.
Ellen: For sure. For sure. Okay, so that’s it for today. We’ll be off next week for an end-of-summer staycation, but if you need your fix, there are so many great episodes. Find the ones that missed, or one that you’d like to hear again. Or, just take a break, which I really encourage everyone to do as we get to the end of the summer if you haven’t done that yet. Then come back in September fresh.
I also want to give you a heads up. I’ll be speaking at Social Buzz on September 9th. That’s [11:00] AM Pacific, [2:00] PM Eastern, on How to Write Your Book in Half the Time for 10X the Profit. So, save the date and I’ll let you know what that link is when we get there that week.
Also, we’re still in the process of moving all of the podcast episodes over to BooksOpenDoors, but it is live now. So, we are at BooksOpenDoors.com/podcast. Yay.
We’ve also just added the Rockstar Author’s Toolkit on our website, where you’ll get your Rapid Book Creation Checklist, your Secret Title Formula Checklist, the Kindle planner to help you maximize your Amazon listing, and those dandy little keywords we talked about, and 21 Simple Strategies to Jumpstart your Book Marketing Online Checklist.
So, that’s at BooksOpenDoors.com. Be sure to grab that. Even if you’re an author already, I guarantee that you’ll find some golden nuggets in the toolkit that you hadn’t thought of. Until next time, bye-bye.
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